Catherine is a retired schoolteacher and expert on standing stones. She is depicted as being an intimidating, opinionated and strong-minded woman - Monimaskit’s
most formidable female inhabitant and someone who is
admired but not liked.
She is also the town’s
most outspoken and inveterate atheist who is fiercely anti-religion and disapproves of and mistrusts the Church and its representatives.
Gideon develops an unlikely friendship with Catherine. They bond about their shared agnostic beliefs and their critical view of organised religion. They develop a strong relationship based upon mutual respect and trust. Gideon is attracted to her honesty as well as her
astonishing knowledge and
precision of thought.
Gideon feels that he and Catherine
understood each other and he is comfortable in her company. He knows that he can confide in her, be himself and not worry about her betraying his lack of belief in God.
Gideon believes that Catherine will always be truthful and honest with him. This is why Catherine is one of the first people that he tells about the standing stone in Keldo Woods. However, she dismissed his claims as being
ghost and fairy stuff and tells him he must be
imagining things. For Catherine belief and faith are not enough:
Bring me proof
The strength of their friendship is shown when Catherine asks Gideon to organise her funeral and officiate the proceedings. Despite knowing that it would attract severe criticism and controversy in the local community, he conducts Catherine’s non-religious funeral, thus fulfilling the promise that he made to her before she died.