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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old Stories: Lanimere's Brothers Kidnap Josephine, June 768 AD

When I wrote the novel, I made a conscious choice not to have Shannon fall in love with Josephine. This story is one where he most definitely does.

June 768

ne sunny afternoon Josephine sat at her desk composing a letter to a childhood friend in Affyn-Shyre.

Lawrence was out hunting with Christophe and she did not expect him back for many hours.

Her mind wandered over many things in her life, little Marie, and her first baby, Rolance, who had died. Robert that had been her lover, and Lanimere that Lawrence had lain with. Her tears fell as she thought of Rory, her dear faithful Rory.

Tavish complained bitterly that he was hungry, and she lifted him to her breast where he drank noisily. Lawrence had protested her feeding him. That was an honor she had denied her own children.

"It isn't his fault that he , he ..that his mother is Lanimere. Poor little baby. He cannot be unwanted here. I'm going to make him feel as welcome as I can. Anyway Lawrence, he is yours, and how can I help but love him because of that?" she had said and he had shrugged his shoulders and answered, "if that's what you want, darling. I don't want it to cast a shadow over us." And he had let her have her way with Tavish, relieved that she bore that baby no ill will."

The baby was finished and now was resting contentedly in her eyes, studying her with his big brown eyes.

"A born lover of beauty, " said a voice and she hastily drew her gown over her. It was Shannon.

"Not but I, your majesty, Shannon," he said thickly. She observed he was rather drunk, and in a bad mood.

"Please sit down, Shannon."

"Oh, Jo, Jo. How distant you are with me. Do you not remember happy days no long ago when Rory and I would tell the tales and sing thee ballads? Would thou disclaim my friendship now when I need friends most?"

"I'm sorry, Shannon," she said as tears of pity came to her eyes."

"Ah, that Heather was half as sweet and gentle as you, Jo. Would I would give to have her love me as you love the King. It's a miserable man I am on account of her. Would that I had never seen her."

The young Queen listened to his moans in sympathy, but could think of no comfort to offer him.

"Shannon, " she said warmly as she rose to leave, "If there is anything I can do…"

"If you only knew, gentle Josephine, what good you have done me just by listening to me."

He touched her golden hair lightly.

"Of us three old friends, Lawrence is by far the luckiest. But Rory and I were destined to die without the love of one such as you."

"You knew about Rory?" she asked softly.

He nodded. "Have you ever wondered, my lady, if you had met Rory first? Could you have loved him then?"

"Oh, don't ask that. It is unfair. I must not think about such things."

"I am going know. May I come again, Jo! Please say yes. You are like a soothing balm in this throbbing wound."

"Of course, whenever you like. I only wish I could do something for you."

His heart was moved by tears upon her face and leaned over and kissed her gently. He knew no other way to show his love, the love of a brother, and she understood him and watched him leave with a heavy heart.

Her mind was very busy as he she returned to her letter, a letter that was destined to be never finished for just as she sat down before it a grimy hand clamped itself over her moth so that she was unable to call out. A cloth was tied over her eyes.

She was carried bodily out of the room and downstairs and outside. There she was put on a horse with someone behind her and carried off into the woods.

It was a good two hour rid. She gave up struggling after a while and prayed that they had been seen by someone at the caste.

At length the ride ended and she was led into a little cottage and thrown roughly upon the floor. Her blindfold was removed.

Two large, rough men stood before her. They had brown hair and brown eyes. One of them laughed as she looked at them. "Do you not know us? We be uncles of that very baby you nursed this day!"

The blood rose to her face as she realized that they had seen her nursing Tavish.

"Not Lanimere's…"she said weekly.

"Aye. We be her brothers."

"What are you going to do to me?"

The first brother laughed evilly. Josephine braced herself up against the wall.

"Don't misunderstand, my lady. We bear no personal ill will against you. It's only your high and mighty husband wot thinks he's too good and wot as good killed our sister. As I have always said, it's an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Let me at her, will ye, my brother!"

"Not yet. Not yet. I'll have me fun, first. Hand me that strap."

Accordingly, one brother produced a long strap of leather which gave to the other while Josephine watched in horror.

[Mercifully, I will draw the line here. But you may imagine Josephine got a beating such as she never had before.]

The second brother was for killing her. The first had a better idea.

But the second one was resolute.

"It's eye for eye and tooth for tooth. I'll revenge Lanimere, it it's the last thing I do.

"I tell you, Will, we have revenged her. She'll not soon forget that beating, " he pointed at the unconscious Jo. I say, that's good enough. Come, we'll be rich."

"No, it won't do. Let me at her, I tell you," and he tried to push his way past. His brother, with lightening swiftness, buried his knife in his brother's heart.

"Awfully sorry," he said to the bloody form on the floor. "I could have made ye rich."

He poured water over the Queen. "Wake up, my pretty," he said. "It's time ye got back to your castle."

The first think she saw was the dead brother on the floor. She fainted again. The living brother got more water to douse her.

"Now, fair Queen," said the villain as she raised herself with great pain. "Tell me, when do you expect your husband home? Don't lie. I'll have it out of you."

Very wearily she answered him, "Quite late."

"Good, good," he said, rubbing his hands together. "Do you remember kissing a young man this afternoon?"

"Oh, yes. But only as a friend."

"What does it matter?" he said, brushing the fact aside. "What matters is that he did kiss you and was in your apartments and if one is told he was seen kissing you goodbye, one's mind naturally wonders what went on before he kissed you goodbye, while alone with you. Tell me, is that not true?"

Josephine's heart sank within her.

"Is it not also true that you had a lover before? Does it not seem possible that you would do it again? Oh now, fair lady, no one could say you have always been faithful?"

"What do you want? I'll give you anything to go away and say no more!" cried Josephine.

"In short, I want 5,000 pounds."

"Fine. Anything."

She arrived at the castle quite late, but Lawrence wasn't back yet.

"Quick, Jocelyn, Martia, heat me a bath. Don't breathe a word about my being dirty and torn. Say that I went for a long walk and paused at a peasant's cottage to talk and forgot about the time. Hurry!"

They brought the heated water but Jo bathed herself, so they would not see her wounds.

When Lawrence came home she was quite presentable and they dined together. He was quite happy and talked of the hunt. She had only once bruise on her face, but she concealed it by having her hair hang over one side.

"You're very beautiful tonight, Jo," he said, brushing aside her hair. "Jo, whatever happened! How did you get this ugly bruise!"

"I …I fell and hit my head upon a rock when I was walking in the woods," she lied, avoiding his eyes.

"Oh, my poor darling," he said, kissing her lightly upon her forehead. "Come, I'm tired," and he carried her up to their room.

There he laid her gently upon the bed for he sensed how tired she was, and lying beside her, thought to arouse her passion by kissing her. But she stopped him.

"Not tonight," for she was afraid her would discover her bruises and wounds where the strap had bit into her flesh again and again.

The King sat up. "Josephine, what is the matter? Look at me!"

She would not.

He pulled her into a sitting position. "Josephine, darling, what is the matter?" he rose from the bed and fetched a candle. "Oh, my God!"

The blood had seeped through the bandages she had wound about herself and had soaked through her gown. The long held back tears flowed forth.

"Oh, Lawrence!" she sobbed.

"Who in God's name?" he cried, undoing her clothes and beholding the bloody welts.

"Oh please, Lawrence, don't ask. I cannot tell thee. So please, please don't ask!"

Tomorrow: The Trial of Lanimere's Brothers

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About the author

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