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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Old Srories: The Usurping Series

The usurping of the kingdom by Gaylorde/Gadfrid is a majoy subplot of not only the old stories and the novel but also of what I will probably refer to as the out takes.. that is , the stories written with the novel in mind but which did not make any of the cuts, no less the final one for the novel. The major difference in what are essentially two versions of the usurpring is that in the old stories, Lawrence is captured at the very beginning and imprisoned. In the novel, he is away at war. Once you have read the two main versions, you will find other common themes with slight vaiations.

May, 769

The queen awoke with a start. She'd had traveling dread, quite favorable, to Elerde. She dared not tell her lord husband, lest he be set off into another of his broodings. She didn't want to tell him, particularly this morning when he was to go on a hunt. He needed the rest dearly, since tensions were high and he'd been worrying so. She felt very sad that he'd be gone so long - two days. This time he had felt worries about Elerde. Tho' the queen did not know, Semier had been asked to keep a confidential eye on him.

Lawrence woke slowly, and yawned. Not realizing Josephine was awake, he got up to look out the window. Clancy came quietly to bring him warm water, towels and some warm breakfast. Just then, the Queen stirred, and he dismissed Clancy. Smiling broadly, he went to sit ion the edge of the bed, bringing the tray of food, to talk and eat.

"Good morning, lovely!" he smiled broadly. His cheerfulness made her spirits rise and she sat up and kissed him. Then they fell to eating and talking. Lawrence was sad, of course, to leave her, but was very enthusiastic about the hunt. He promised her a large catch of hares and that he'd bring them home one of every kind of flower he saw. She laughed and told him just to bring himself. They talked a while longer until a knock was heard at the door and Clancy admitted Christophe.

"My lord and lady, permettez moi. I must ask you to hurry , sir. The sun is up and soon there will be no hares outside."

"Aye, my lord!" Lawrence laughed. "As you see, I am half-dressed. I will be with you presently." And he gestured that the Frenchman leave. The Queen rose then to dress that she might see them off.

In the courtyard, he took his time about mounting. He didn't want to say farewell, even for only tow days.

"Well…my lady, I guess I must go," Lawrence hesitated. He looked at her pleadingly, wishing she'd ask him not to go, but she didn't see it. She smiled and said warmly, "Go, my lord. I'll be here waiting impatiently for your return." She dashed a kiss on his cheek and bade hi mount. He smiled back and got up, taking the reins in his hands, he looked at his party, Lorin, Christophe, and Sir Percy, and said, "Shall we go, gentlemen?" and waiving at his queen, he led the royal retinue off.

It was a successful hunt, with many catches. The King enjoyed himself thoroughly, so thoroughly that he didn't notice Christophe seemed nervous and had caught very little. When at rest, he couldn't think of anything but his Josie. At the end of the second day he fairly flew back to Lawrencium.

After a hasty ride, the tallest of the castle towers came into view. He saw no queen waiving frantically from the battlements, but was too overjoyed to notice the gloom which hung over the castle. He barely noticed the quiet of the countryside and Lawrencium as he rode through them. He was riding at a near gallop with Lorin and Christophe close behind and Percy, lagging quite behind. At the King's call the drawbridge was lowered and the three men entered the gates.

Suddenly, from all sides, men fell upon him and he was carried off senseless to the dungeon. Christophe had grabbed Lorin and he was carried off, quite conscious, to the same cell. Percy, tho, had seen the beginnings of the struggle and had ridden off with all speed to the Norwich border not far away.

When the King awoke the next morning, he found himself lying on a stone floor, thou' Lorin had managed to get his cloak under him. A dull ache went all through his body. Raising himself up, he looked about him. He was in a small, dark cell. Lorin sat cross-legged in accorder, watching the King. Up in one corner, nine feet from the floor of the cell, there was a window. Out the window, he could see it was raining. He could see one window of the Great Castle, where, the royal family and nobles lived. By the curtains he could tell it was the Queen's chambers and he strained his eyes to see f she might be looking out. But no one was there and he turned resignedly to Lorin. He asked simply, "What happened?"

Lorin looked calmly up at him. "Gaylorde, " he said slowly, "Gaylorde has taken over."

"Oh no," the King gasped. "Who else?"

"I'm not sure. I know Christophe, and I think most of the less desirables. Samir and Michael are in chains. Percy has escaped."

Lawrence moaned. "How do you know?"

Lorin answered. 'Clancy."

Lawrence rarely questioned Lorin's sources and asked no more until suddenly he struck up a name. "Elerde! Surely he is not one of these conspirators!"

Grimly, Lorin nodded and Lawrence's mind went wild with fears. Just then, the cell door was opened. In the dim light Lawrence recognized the three men who entered. Gaylorde stood at the head, dressed to the teeth and looking very proud. He scowled at Lawrence, whose defiant look diminished his glory. Christophe behind him at his left, Gaylorde smiled at him in his strange way. At Gaylorde's right was Elerde. Lawrence threw a threatening look at him and Elerde actually shrank a bit from his stare. But then Gaylorde spoke.

"I trust your cell suits you. I had planned a little exhibition for today, but as you can see, 'tis raining and that's not suitable for my purposes. You may expect to remain here quite a while. The caste and country are quite mine. You have nothing to worry about." With a laugh, he turned and left. Elerde lingered a moment and said, mercifully, "She and the children are all fine. Don't worry." The King nodded and gave him a withered bouquet to carry to his lady.

As Elerde closed the door, Lawrence crumpled into a corner and stared at the wall. Thus he sat all day, and all night, and heard the rain diminish and stop. He would not sleep, no matter how Lorin exhorted him to. When the sun rose the next morning, Lorin awoke to find him sitting there. He didn't bother to try to speak to the king.

About noon, the guards opened the door and came in and seized Lawrence. He was dragged to the courtyard where he pulled himself upright to look about him. Up on the balcony he saw Gaylorde standing with Elerde at his side. Larisa was by Elerde, c her neck to see it Lorin was there. Then, on Gaylorde's right the Queen stood, looking stiff and white, trying not to look at the King. But Christophe stood behind her, holding her arms to make sure she watched. Lawrence's attention then went to where he was being led. There, in the mud, stood a hooded man with a lash. Before him there was a short stump by which two lackeys knelt. After the initial fear, he set his jaw and walked to the stump. He allowed the lackeys to remove his outer cloak and jerkin. He knelt and stared up at the Queen for strength. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Gaylorde lift his hand and signal the hooded man. He shut his eyes and set his teeth, trying to show no fear or pain. He took the first two blows well, but to the distress of the Queen, the remaining blows brought him such pain that at first he screwed up his face and soon began to moan. After 50 lashes something was thrown on his back which caused him to scream in agony.

He was carried, nearly senseless, to his cell where Lorin tried to administer to his back. All the King could do was lie there and alternately wish to die and to fight back.

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About the author

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