Back to the old stories, one of the first to get the king and queen into the same place at the same time... the "scenes are firmly entrenched. I had turned sicteen and Laura was approaching fifteen at this point, and clearly the innocence of our notions of married love were slipping. I can only speak for myself, but I became aware of sexuality through these stories we wrote.
One of the most enduring images in my own mind is the sight of Josephine in the turret with her hair flying out like a cloud. I believe Laura wrote this one, and I will always be grateful for that image.
I need to explain the sudden appearance of Caithness and Elaine. Laura had written a story about Josephine and her maidservant, a Jewish woman named Raphelle, giving birth the same night, as the castle burned around them. The queen in that story awoke to find Raphaelle dead, presumably in childbed, but two little girls lying in a cradle. The other servants had abandoned the two women to the fire. At the point of this story no one knew which child belonged to lawrence and Josephine. The resolution is not far away.
espite the fact that Josephine had promised the doctors she would sleep late, she was up at the first rays of dawn.
Lady Bethia came in from the adjoining room. She turned to scold the Queen, but the Queen was so bright and cheerful this morning that Lady Bethia could not keep from smiling to herself.
"Hast thou forgotten your promise, your majesty?" she inquired.
"No," Josephine said, unconcerned. She pranced across the room to the window. She blew a kiss to a gardener, and scandalized poor Lady Bethia.
"But how in heaven's name could I sleep this morning? Do they honestly expect me to stay abed today when Lawrence is coming? Oh, Lady Bethia, I feel like singing and dancing. I simply cannot believe it.. He is gong to be here with me. I think I shall go mad with joy!"
"And drive everyone mad with thee," the old lady muttered.
"But dost thou not think Lawrence will be expecting to see thee, a beautiful, graceful Queen acting in a queenly manner, and not tearing out to see him like a child?"
Josephine considered this for a moment. "Well, I shall try," she said soberly. But it has been so very long and I shall be very glad to see him."
Meanwhile in the forest the king and a few companions were hurrying through the last lap
of their journey.
They were a gay party. Not for several years had the King been so happy, so dashing, and so gallant. His friends winked at each other and said that just thinking about Queen Josephine was enough to raise any man's spirits and teasing the King, warning him that perhaps for a while, tonight certainly, he would do no sleeping.
But Lawrence was in such a good mood that all the jests simply passed him by.
Josephine had donned her most beautiful gown to meet Lawrence. Her haw was a crown of gold. Never, swore the ladies who attended her, had she seemed more beautiful.
All morning long she had posted herself in a high turret looking out across the meadows.
As Lawrence approached the castle, he urged his horse on faster and faster till they were galloping at a frantic pace. At last before him lay Ratherwood, her towers proud and lofty. Involuntarily, Lawrence looked up and scanned the turrets and saw the object of his affection, a cloud of golden hair blowing about her face whilst she waved frantically.
As he stared for the castle she immediately disappeared from the turret and by the time he had reached it, she was waiting with whole household.
Within 15 feet of her he stopped and dismounted without taking his yes off of her and stood gazing at her as if in a trance. Even in his dreams she had not been so fair, her golden hair hung down to her tiny waist her bosom was heaving with emotion, her eyes brimming with tears. She was shining with love and longing for him.
She was not be able to move, was staring at him. All her pent up love and longing swelled to her throat and she could not speak. How handsome he was, she thought, how lucky I am and oh how much I love him.
At long last (or so it seemed; in fact it was not longer than 10 seconds) he called "Josephine" so softly that none heard him but she. She fairly flew across the space to him and he gathered her in his arms. He kissed her long and hard and then swung her about the waist and kissed her again. Paying no attention to the people gathered about, he picked her up and carried her through the hall and into a room, slamming the door. He put her down. He said, "Thou art crying!"
She smile through her tears. "I know, I can't help it. Is it really thee? Is this just a dream?" For answer her kissed again asked her, "Can a dream do that?"
She laughed up at him and said she might be convinced if he kissed her again. So he kissed her again with such passion that her body throbbed with need for him that she was completely and totally his as she had never been before. He kissed her until she hurt with need for him and every fiber of her being cried out with agony and still he kissed her.
When he let her go, she was so weak he had to hold her up. After a moment she admitted breathlessly that he was indeed not a dream. A moment later she inquired wither he would like to see his children, his heir and his daughter.
"Yes, but of course," he said eagerly. "Prince Peter of Christenlande" he said with pride. "And Princesses Elaine and Caithness." A cloud came across his face. "Has thou figured out which is thine?"
She shook her head sadly. Her lips quivered. What a terrible thing to happen to a woman, he thought. He wrapped his arms around her and she put her face against his chest and sobbed.
When she had finally spent herself out she looked up at him and smiled bravely. "Well, at least come see them. They're both adorable and both worthy to be the daughters of the greatest king on earth."
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com