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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Old Stories: Arrival of Lachrimae to Court and lacrimae's Brother, 769 AD

Here is a series of stories introducing a young woman named Lacrimae (Latin for "tears") and her brother, niece and nephew of Charlemagne. This was part of my occasional efforts to drag real history into the story. I think I may have been playing with astrology at the time, since Lachrimae mentions it. The name comes from my new love for John Dowland's lute music, which is what is playing in the video below.

You may have notced the royal couple has a new son, Donalbain. He is in some of my later stories, but did not made the novel.

Arrival of Lachrimae at Court

osephine lazily leaned out of the window and watched the tall white sail of the French vessel flutter in the strong wind. Lawrence came up behind her and took her in his arms. "It should be a half hour before we leave to meet the ship," he said lightly.

The Queen nodded. "When was this girl made your ward?"

"Don't you remember? Just last summer. I agreed to it. You won't mind having another child in the nursery, will you?" Lawrence laughed.

She replied, smiling, "Of course not! I love children! How hold is she?"

"I'm not sure. I imagine around ten. That's the usual age for ward ship."

The Queen casually glanced down into the garden where all the children of the castle were gathered with their nurses to play. "She'll be close to Laurie's age, then. And Earl James has three daughters in that age group. What is her name? I don't remember."

Lawrence said quietly, "Lachrimae. That's very pretty. It means 'seven tears.'"

Just then there came a knocking at the door. "Enter." Lawrence commanded, and Sir Christophe entered. He seemed very nervous.

"My lord, I beg you make hast. She is the niece of the King of France and we mustn't make her wait," he said beseechingly.

"For your sake, dear Frank, I will be ready in one minute!" Lawrence smiled. And dismissed him. Helping Jo on with her cape, he picked up his and called to Clancy to carry the crowns. "We must look as royal as her most civilized uncle, you know!" Lawrence joked.

The full court stood fifteen minutes on the shore waiting for a breeze to pull the ship in. Finally it docked and the courtiers impatiently waited while the crew of the ship worked at the gangway and riggings. Josephine gleamed around at where her children stood, as impatient as any adult. All wanted to get out of the cold, for a nippy breeze had come off the sea. Few cared for the idea that all they waited for was for a child.

Finally, the plank was down. Some heralds, minstrels and messengers, and then ladies-in-waiting came off the ship and finally a young girl, about 16 or 17, with hair the color of charred but not wholly burnt wood. As she drew closer they cold see that she was slight of build, rather short, very pretty and had the same ice-blue eyes Christophe did. The King looked at his wife, and they gave each other questioning looks. Glancing at Christophe, though, the could tell that this was the girl. She came up to the royal couple. Lawrence said kindly, as she knelt before them, "Parlez vous anglaise, ma princesse?"

Lachrimae smiled as Jo lifted her to her feet. "Yes, my lord and lady. I grew up with a sister of your, Queen Charlotte of Cornwall."

Lawrence looked surprised. "Now, you're not that mousy little brat that Charlotte presented me with when I was 13 and you were five?" The girl nodded. Lawrence took her on his right arm and his wife on his left., to proceed to the castle. A discomfited Christophe followed.

Lachrimae sat at the Queen's right during the evening feast, with Elerde at the King's left, but all the conversation seemed to be between the King and the princess. Elerde had no wish to speak for , coincidentally, this girl happened to be the one who at birth had been betrothed to him. After his father's death, he had no wish to marry, and with the recompense of 12 sheep, two oxen and 20 bushels of flour he had broken the engagement with little trouble. The girl was the youngest of her family and no one thought she'd have any trouble. Unfortunately, she had, and she was now thus the ward of the King of Christenlande.

Josephine was a little hurt by her husband's inattention. In two days she would be 21 and Lawrence had made so much of it, up until this night. But luckily, Lawrence's attention fell back to her before the feast was over.

Lachrimae's Brother

he mast supported two towering white sails, which flapped back and forth in the wind as the galleon struggled to dock at Lawrencium's fine port. Josephine sat and watched it from her seat in Larchrimae's room. Lachrimae herself stood at the bay window, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of the ship's standards.

" I see it is of my country, by its structure, " she said impatiently. " I wish I could see."

The Queen nodded. "Aye, it is a fine…"

Larchrimae's gasp interrupted her, "C'est Lui! C'est mon frere, Sebastian!"

"Your brother?" the Queen stood, to look herself.

"I knew he would come! I asked him to and he never says no! The stars promised me, too, and they promised you, my lady! She fairly danced.

The Queen looked puzzled. "Me? How could they have promised me? I didn't know you could read the stars anyway, Lachrimae!"

When Lachrimae was happy or excited she knelt at people's feet, as she did now before Josephine. "I've known how to since I was five, since before the King knew me so long ago. The stars told me you would be influenced by a new younger male friend, and I prayed it was he!"

Lachrimae and the Queen stood near the entrance to the garden, awaiting the chevalier. Josephine held Donalbain in her arms and little Tavish sucked noisily on some honeycomb on a stump by her. Form within the bounds of the castle and chapel two others watched with interest he arrival of yet another character in the great drama.

The procession for the nephew of Carolus Magnus was small but impressive. Sebastian himself sat tall at the lead, smiling broadly as he greeted his sister. He was fair in complexion like Lachrimae, but his hair was deep brown.

The all regarded one another. And said nothing.

Next: The Decision to Go to Ratherwood

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About the author

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