“How much did you pay for me?” Marta asked the young man in the carriage with her after a long period of silence.
“What makes you think that” Perhaps it was him who paid me.”
He turned his devilish smile toward her.
“Because no one in their right mind would pay for me.” she ascertained.
“Look, as a young Captain in the army of the new regime, I needed a wife to make me appear to be …”
“Honest?” she finished his sentence.
“Something like that.” he said.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“The barracks, the housing for the officers, we will have our privacy. There are small cabins for those of us that are married.”
“But, we are not married.” she reminded him.
“I have paperwork that says we are.” he insisted.
“You would do that to me? We would start off our life with a lie?”
“Your uncle set it up. I have all the proper paper I need.”
“A woman who doesn’t have a proper wedding, — isn’t a wife.”
She wanted to fling herself from the carriage and die in the frozen stream that ran alongside the road to Archangel where the barracks were.
“I don’t even know your name.” she muttered.
“I am Captain Phillip Sobienski.” he stated quite proudly as he elevated himself and knocked loudly on the roof of the carriage. The carriage immediately halted and the driver poked his head inside.
“Change of plans my man,” The Captain alerted him.
Then he stepped outside and had a brief conversation and returned to his seat. Marta could sense the horses turning and the road becoming bumpy and less traveled. She looked at Phillip and wondered if her conversation had changed his plans for her.
“Yes, my dear. you are correct, I need to exchange vows with you in order to convince you that if it is to be you then I want you to be happy.”
“That is the most romantic thing anyone has said to me. I have dreamt of such a marriage proposal all my life.” she said sarcastically.
When she looked over at the forelorned face of her intended she figured she was a little harsh and was taking her messed up life out on him.
“Phillip, I am sorry. I do appreciate your attempt to please me.”
He turned and smiled, she had taken a huge weight off his shoulders.
“I have ordered the driver to make arrangements in the small town of Kerslo, just down the road. He knows it well and will arrange the ceremony and acquire a place for us to stay the night.”
Marta nodded her approval. What more could she do. She needed to say more. Embarrassed to open her mouth she tapped him and got his full attention.
“I don’t know what my uncle told you about me. Most likely that I was so worthless that he would pass me off to the first stranger that came along.”
“Actually it wasn’t quite that bad. My father knew of my circumstance and necessity to fulfill my commission. He knew your uncle was making it known that he would pass you off to the highest bidder and thought perhaps being my wife would save you from a worse fate then being my wife.”
Marta managed a wry smile. She was glad she spoke up and needed to say one more thing.
“I have never been with a man.” she cringed as the words snuck out.
“I would expect you hadn’t, but I am glad to hear such an admission.”
Silence permeated then they both smiled and laughed.
He wasn’t such a bad guy, but she didn’t love him. But whom was love meant for anyway. The coach stopped and they heard the driver run off to perform his task. Phillip reached over and took her hand.
“You really are lovely, I believe your uncle is blind.”
“He is blind with hatred, I was nothing but a burden to him.”
“Well now you’re my burden.” he wondered if his sense of humor was taken as such.
Marta wasn’t insulted, in fact she enjoyed his lightheartedness.
When the driver returned, he took her hand as they walked toward the Chapel.