A Little Knowledge (The Split Worlds #4) - Emma Newman Page 0,1

recovered from the years of being cursed to forget who she was. Thanks to Sam she had been restored, but that time as a brainwashed scullery maid had scarred her.

Frustrated, Cathy looked to Charlotte Persificola-Viola. Surely she would understand? Charlotte had marched as a suffragette in Mundanus; how could she think that anything less than full equality in the right to speak would be acceptable? Charlotte’s perfect brow was furrowed between her eyes as she met Cathy’s gaze. “I agree with Margritte. You’ve already put some noses out of joint. Anything you say is going to be scrutinised. Why not wait just a few more weeks? Let them get used to the idea of an active Duchess, and then make the announcement.”

Unbelievable. Had her friend forgotten the years of being trapped in her own body, turned into nothing more than an animated doll to sing her husband’s praises? If it hadn’t been for her and Sam, Charlotte would still be that! “How can you say that after all you’ve been through?”

“That’s exactly the reason why I think you should be cautious!”

“But Will isn’t like your husband!” Cathy said. “He’s supporting us.” Will knew she wanted change in Society and could have shut their meetings down weeks ago. Unlike Charlotte’s husband, the odious Bertrand Viola, Will could cope with her having opinions of her own. “He’s not going to do anything like that to me.”

“There are other men that would, without your husband’s knowledge,” Margritte said. “Just because he’s the Duke of Londinium, it doesn’t mean he can protect you every moment of every day, not when so many have access to powerful magic.”

That made Cathy pause. That git from the Agency, Bennet, had managed to curse her without anyone else finding out, and blackmail her as well. She hadn’t seen him since Will found out and had him taken away. She pushed the thought aside. The Londinium Court would gather in less than an hour, and they were still arguing. “I’m not going to let the fear of men trying to silence me—with violence or magic—stop me from doing what I need to do.”

Cathy went to the fireplace. She felt safe in her library but it didn’t make their discussions—or the decisions she had to make—any easier. Leaning against the mantelpiece, her back to them, she tried to hold on to the positives.

None of these women would be with her, discussing how to change Nether Society with such passion, if it hadn’t been for her and Will. None of the staff in her household would have rights and wages without her efforts. Even now, over a hundred people were enjoying freedom after decades of imprisonment in a mundane asylum because of her actions.

It wasn’t enough.

A mere fortnight ago, Cathy had stood up in front of the Londinium Court and announced that there were going to be changes. She’d said that her being able to speak at the Court as Duchess, instead of only the Duke having a voice, was only the beginning. Filled with the drive to finally make a difference, she’d offered all of the women there the opportunity to approach her with anything they wished to discuss, as a fundamental right of all female Londinium residents. Thinking it wasn’t enough, judging by the silent stares, she’d added that should any of those concerns be ones that affected Londinium or be as a result of residency in the city, she would raise them with the Duke.

That had elicited a ripple through the crowd, one that had pleased her at the time. At last, she’d thought, a woman has finally had the chance to speak in the Londinium Court and be heard.

But when they returned home, Will had made her aware of just how far she’d apparently overstepped the mark.

“You’ve just told every man in that room that his wife can bend my ear without having to go through him.”

She shrugged. “So? That’s a good thing. Any one of those women may have concerns—valid concerns—that are just dismissed by their husbands because they’ve voiced them. Why should their husband be the sole judge of their merit?”

“Cathy, you’ve just stood up in front of that court and told everyone there that you place your own ability to judge what should reach the Duke’s ear above that of every man in that room.”

“Oh, come on. That’s not what I meant.”

“That’s how they feel about it.”

“I don’t give a shit about how they feel. I give a shit about how those women are