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 20, 2009

Old Stories: Lawrence Entrusts Elerde with his Army, Seotember 768 AD

awrence and Elerde shook hands. Then, smiling, Elerde turned to find a place to stand amongst the nobles who attended Lawrence's counsel.

Lawrence had begun to turn his head to Lorin, at his right, but jerked it suddenly back to the Frenchman. "How is that…who let thee out? Where is the Queen? Oh God, does no one know?"

"My Lord," Elerde began. "'Twas she who let me go, for just cause as she herself can tell thee. After my release I saw her go into the old building…" Everyone in the room looked dazed, especially the King and his minstrel, the O'Neill. "It was already afire when I reached the room in which she had been locked by some crazed old woman who perished in the fire. I was, thank God, on time to save her from the flames. Worry not, she is safe abed in her chambers, yet in a faint."

Lawrence's face looked as though he had just been relieved of the greatest of agonies. He gave Elerde a look that hinted of great gratitude. Just then Shannon rose from his seat and walked swiftly from the bedside to the chamber door. Lawrence's quick look had a strangeness as he spoke, pleading a little. "Nay, please do not ye go to her yet, my friend. I would she would wake to no other but me…" Shannon sadly understood, and stepped back.

Then finally Lorin hand a chance to speak of Lawrence's choice of a general. "But, my Liege, how can it be that thou dost choose a man ye know so little of …who has shown dishonor in mortal combat in striking an unarmed man!"

Lawrence looked confidently at Lorin. "My lord brother, I do know of him. I myself battle with him, and I know his prowess. I desire to put in my place one who may equal me, no better, no lesser. That way I may be sure that my ways are being done. Elerde and I, we apparently have much in common." The King finished on an uneasy note.

Christophe, who stood nearby, was aghast. "But, monsieur, he nearly killed thee!"

Lawrence had become extremely impatient with this knight, and it seemed even his "good morrows" were unbearable. "Sire, it is far more important that he saved my Josie's life than it is that he nearly took mine!" His voice was emotional but now he spoke more lightly, "Aye, well, then, preparations are to e made. Thou art dismissed…but save thee, Elerde. I would speak with thee.."

In a moment, the dark room that smelled of smoke because of the still smoldering ruins outside the King's window was nearly empty, but for two solemn figures. The King spoke first. " I am afraid I feel a bit unmanned, being abed, while thou dost stand, armed."

Elerde tried to smile. "I'm afraid we both are pitiable sights, my Liege." Lawrence laughed a bit, and his eyes took on a faraway look. "God, I hope she will be soon alright. I wonder if the children are disturbed by the sudden activity. Peter would love all the excitement, but the girls and Tavish would be upset. Oh, I pray no complications to Jo's pregnancy have occurred. God help her!"

"I believe I can sympathize, my Lord, " Elerde reassured. " I, too, lover her. I feel as much as thou…""

Lawrence's eyes flashed bitterness. "Nay, nay! Though mayst love her with all thy heart, until thy very existence is of no import lest she be somewhere alive, and loving thee with even her slightest effort. And she does love thee, as she loves all who love her, thou not as she loves me, I pray. But thou canst never know the equivalence of my love. Love is not complete lest it encompass both soul and body. Thou knowest love for her and some love returned, but though thou must feel some desire for her, thou knowest not the love-making she can bestow upon someone she truly loves. Please god, thou never shall know it. A great love such as mine must be fiery passion of both sorts, and thou knowest it not.

Elerde looked upon the King. He knew he felt an instinctive respect for the man who was but one year his senior, but this speech so honestly made, nearly convinced him. He knew though, as the King knew, the possibility of Elerde's love someday equaling that of Lawrence, but they knew that the matter rested with the Queen, who inevitably held her own love's fate quite securely.

Just then the door to the privy stair way opened, and Jo herself entered, yet hazy from her smoke-clouded mind. She saw only the figure of the King on the bed, and stumbled to him. "Oh, Lawrence! Lawrence! What happened? How came I to be here? Where is everyone? Where are my babies? Oh, my Lord, it was terrible, terrible!"

Lawrence pulled her up onto the bed and put her cheek on his. 'Now, hush, hush…everything will be all right. Just sit for a minute and as soon as thou feels better, thou may speak…" He held her, rocked very slightly, and whispered comfort until she was less hazy and silent. Then suddenly she began to sob.

"My darling Jo! Don't weep so! Now, now. It was a fire, but you're all right now. Thou were brought in a while ago. The children are fine. The attack was put down we are preparing to meet them before they have a chance to muster up enough replacements to bother us again…"

"Oh Lawrence, dost thou know what that awful old woman said? She said I am a murderess, a witch because I bewitch men into loving me so that they will die for it or kill each other to have me. Like Robert, and Jon Edwards, and Rory…oh Rory! And now thee and Elerde! Oh my dearest, is it true? Oh Lawrence, is it true?"

"Nay, may, nay, my love.. That was silly talk. Forget all about it. I love thee dearly, and nothing else matters. Just forget everything else." Lawrence spoke with occasional breaks in his voice. "I'll love thee forever."

It was only then Josephine noticed Elerde in the room. She started, and pushed automatically away from Lawrence in surprise. "Elerde!"

Elerde's shock at hearing her sobs faded. "Aye, my lo…"

Lawrence quickly broke in. "It was he who saved thee from the flames, and who will now lead our armies against the traitors."

Josephine looked from the King to the French knight, and back again, confused. She could feel that some new inner rapport had developed between these two men, but that they yet glanced daggers at each other.

It was all very bewildering.

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About the author

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