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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old Stories: Rory's Execution, 768 AD

This story line provided lots of angst-filled tears for us teen authors. The situation is quite different in this story than in the novel. In fact, coming up with an at least credible interpretation for the book was half the fun of rewriting it.

By the way, I have mentioned a fellow called Erik a few times in the past couple of days. He was a Danish merchant mariner and one of Lawrence's best friends. He does not appear in the novel, but he will show up in the stories that did not make the cut. His main characteristic is a lack of sentimentality and his sense of himself as Lawrence's equal.. both of which Lawrence enjoys.

The winter's chill had come back after almost a month of spring-like weather. One was pretty well forced to say inside by a fire. But that did not bother the King. As long as Josephine was there, it was the perfect place to be. It was almost a month and a half he had been reunited with her. As he sat in his great chair by the hearth, he gazed over at the Queen; she was sitting on the bed and staring off into space as f in a dream.

Heaven knew how happy he was. Of course, he had sadness in his heart. He had never known a moment when he forgot all of this sorrows. Right know several things bothered him. Josephine was not yet with child., and for some reason it seemed important to him for her to bear another child by him. Also he could not help but think with regret that somewhere a woman was carrying his child. He would, but would not force, this on his beloved.

He voiced his other worry. "It is a long time since Rory and Shannon went off to Ireland to fight the clan war. More than a month."

The Queen awoke from he dreams, stood and walked over to him. "Aye, much more. I wonder why we have not heard from them. I hope nothing has happened to them." Lawrence pulled her down into his lap. She put her golden head on his shoulder, and he held her tightly. He felt near to weeping. Something in him told him what a beautiful thing his feeling for her was. It was a strange feeling that hurt. It was like a very dull headache that kept going forever, but it was all over and inside him. He didn't or couldn't understand it but he prayed with all his heart to God in thanks for it.

Just then a messenger appeared. It was a message from Shannon! What luck!
"Oh my lord," the Queen demanded eagerly. "Read it to me while I close my eyes and relax, in thine arms!"

Lawrence had to chuckle at her excitement. Things had been very lazy and quiet lately. They had been together along pretty much all of the time and the Queen's lively soul craved more stimulating activity than crocheting and chatting with a page from time to time. Lawrence had been stimulus enough at the first, but she was too worried that she didn't conceive, and her mind was often elsewhere.

The King hastily broke off the seal that was no more that candle tallow and wondered at its crudeness. He cleared his throat and read:

"My dear friends,

It truly hast been a great while since ye heard of me, but sure and right a dungeon is no place to write from. We were caught a couple weeks ago by a careless mistake by one of us. Now don't worry. We'll be out soon enough. Up until last Wednesday we spent our time keeping the O'Donnells' as harassed as we could by our singing. At other times paced and spat and cursed, me bother worried after his pregnant wife, and Rory has moped after what, I didn't know. But 'twas last Wednesday I mentioned afore when the O'Donnells grew tired of our singing and aye decided to do something about it. It was a hanging they'd be after , and 'twas Rory, God rest him, they'd be to choosing. Would God they had chose me before the dearest man I know."

At these words Lawrence stopped. Josephine had caught his tabard in her fist, and held it so tight her hands were white. Her face paled and she seemed hardly to breathe.
"Shall I go on?" he asked gently.

She stammered. "Th-there;s more?"

"Two paragraphs."
She bit her lip and nodded. Lawrence began again.

"The good man died easy I'd say, but his last word, I think explains what he's been moping about all this while. Just before he went, he cried out the name "Josephine" as loud as he could…"Lawrence liet off the last paragraph which was merely a closing. He dropped the letter. Josephine was crying now, so desperately that she was almost screaming; he wasn't sure how to take it, but he knew the wisest thing do whether it was she had been lovers with Rory or not. He gathered his fair wife up to his breast and held her as tight as he could. He didn't think she had felt more than a healthy, human love for Rory, but even so his heart was unsure and it hurt like a knife was in it. With all his love in him held the woman he cherished and so, with a tear, soothed her the best he could.

That night she wept herself to sleep. Lawrence was eased. She had only loved Rory as she should. The King's strong, secure arms helped her to forget as he pitied her pain-wracked body.

As she slept, she dreamt of the young Irishman who had loved her so truly.

Tomorrow: "The Ballad of Rory McGuinness"

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .