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: Ricca, Part II 769 AD

If you've read the novel, you know Ricca appears there as Gadfrid's/Gaulorde's abused mistress there as well. She is not as sympathetic a character there however.

Lawrence stood staring at the Duke. He took his shoulders and said menacingly, "What did you say to her? By God, if you insulted her, you will answer to me!"

Gaylorde thought quickly and took on a look of confusion. "I know not why she was angry! I said naught to her that might offend her."

Lawrence let go of him and went to his desk. "Just exactly what did you speak of? Jo would not have become so angry without a reason. Not that there's not reason enough…" He mumbled the last sentence.

Gaylorde pondered it. "Well, we spoke of Ricca…"

Lawrence's eyes flashed. "Good God, that's reason enough. Listen, my dear lord Duke mean to tell them a thing or two…"

Gaylorde's look was crafty. "Do you plan to preach to me about adultery, my lord?"

"Nay, nay. I can imagine what answer I would have from thee on that subject." Lawrence continued. "But the Lord knows I'd never in my right mind ever hurt a women as direly as you have. Ricca is s sensitive little girl - no, a woman with a deep loving soul, and how you ever became the object of her love, I will never know. But you flout her love, you use her as a thinks easily gotten and easily rid of. Her love for you is no less strong than the Queen's for me. You sicken me, Gaylorde. To see someone I do hold dear wasting away, to know I can do nothing to remedy it, is terrible. And worse, to know 'tis blood of mine that causes the pain. She has done so much for you - lived for you done every thing you said, so faithfully and patiently, despite the filth of it. And now she fears to tell you of the child she bears, afraid you will be displeased! That little girl is going wither and die, and it is because of thine!"

Gaylorde was standing red faced, angry, but when he heard of his child, his face changed. He started to speak, but Lawrence cut him off with a gesture.

"leave! Kindly leave! Take thy indignation and go from me, remember you are but a d Duke…"

Gaylorde ruffled up his feathers like a hawk and left, truly angry, as the King had suspected.

Lawrence's concern went immediately to Josephine. He hastened to her chambers. Her ladies were outside, having been locked out. Lawrence spoke gently through the door, and soon the door was opened slowly and timidly. Once inside, Lawrence latched it again and looked at the Queen. She was pale and in a moment, she burst into tears. "Oh please, Lawrence, forgive me! I was so upset. The way he treats Ricca and everyone else! Oh, please…" Lawrence pulled her close and held her, swaying back and forth gently. :There, there my dear. Don't worry about it. There's nothing to worry about. I admire you for speaking to him thus. I don't know why I lacked the courage before, but I shouted at him some, too."

She looked up. "You did?" She seemed to have settled down, and put her head on his chest and sniffed. "Oh, Lawrence, whatever will happen to Ricca? I know it must be terrible.. It would be awful if we were that way! Everyone thinks of Ricca as being meek and helpless, but she is a lot stronger than I ever could be."

The King stroked her hair. "Aye, I cannot understand how he can treat her like that. She's a wonderful little girl, and she lives so completely for him. Did she go to talk to you?"

The Queen nodded. "Aye, but she did not say much. Just looked very sad."

"It's very ad about her baby, isn't it?"

Jo looked up. "Baby? She said nothing about a baby! Oh, she will lose it, the way he plans t dash her from place to place! An nobody know s more than a woman such as I, who loves her lord so dearly, how awful it would be to lose his child!"

Lawrence frowned in discontentment. "I should forbid her to leave…would that be cruel? To take her from her lord, I mean?"

"'Tis to both their advantages to keep her here," Jo answered. "it would be safer fro her and it might show Gaylorde how much he misses her."

The prospect of better future for her friends caused the Queen to smile. She looked up at Lawrence and smiled also, then kissed her on the tip of her nose.

Meanwhile, Gaylorde had stomped off down the hall and downstairs towards his chambers. Christophe happened to be going to his and clapped him on the shoulder. "Mon bel ami!" he laughed. (For Gaylorde knew French well, and he found that using that language with his cronies, he could keep secretes from being taken to the King by way of the loyal Saxon thralls.) Christophe notice the Duke's sullen mood. "Mon prince, qu'avez vous?"

Gaylord scowled, but his look was sly. "Why nothing at all. Ever so nothing at all." He left smiling.

He marched into his room and slammed the door. Ricca lay on the bed, and smiled. She was pleased to see him always, and got up to attend to him. But he swore and ranted about the King and Queen, while Ricca looked sad and said, "Shh! Shhh!" for fear he might do himself harm. "By God, he'll learn who he's been preaching to!" he shouted. "Lord, I'll be damn happy to be gone tomorrow! Be ready very early, or you will just have to leave your things." He walked over to some letters he had been working on, then turned to Ricca. "Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?"

Ricca was surprised. "Who - who told you? How do you know?"

Gaylorde grinned. "Your dear 'Laruska" told me!" The nickname was said mockingly.

"Oh Gaylorde! I was afraid! I though you'd cast me off if you knew!"

He snapped, "Of course I wouldn't! You're the best thing I have going for me. Lawrence would find it hard to allow one hair on this pretty little head to be harmed,: he said quizzically as Ricca looked at him in horror. "Of course, as soon as the rat is come far enough along, we'll have to have it aborted. I can't have…"

"NEVER!" Gaylorde stopped short at Ricca's shout. She'd recoiled and was looking at him with mixture of shock and horror. "I'll never to that, not even for you! I'll leave you if you ever so much as suggest it again!"

"You have no choice, Ricca, I 've got you in the palm of my hand. You have to stay with me, or enter a convent 0 that you'll never be able to do.: He looked at her threateningly.

She broke away from him and rand out the door, crying. It was logical to head for the King's chambers, so she did. Lawrence and Jo lay beside each other in bed, their ability make love impeded by the fact that Jo was so great with child. And because the times recommend against it so soon before a child was to be born. The were startled to hear the door pounded upon, and crying sounds. Lawrence got up, threw on a mantle, and unlatched the door, after hearing Ricca call, "My lady! My lord!" She rushed right to him and wept harder, while he tried to comfort her and looked to his wife for aid. Josephine got up, put on a robe, went to Ricca and got her to sit in a big cushioned chair by the fire.

"Oh, Ricca, don't cry like that. Whatever is wrong, Lawrence and I will help you with it!"

Ricca looked up at the two people who knelt before her. With a sigh, she leaned over to put her arms around each of the. "Oh, my friends, you have been so good to me. He, he…he asked me to abort the baby…"

Lawrence and Josephine looked at each other with a look that was beyond explanation. Lawrence picked Ricca up and sat down in the chair. Rica was on his lap and he cooed and tried to comfort her like a father, and Jo reacted much alike to that, stroking Ricca's hair and holding her hand. The girl sobbed for a while, but went to sleep like that.

The King and Queen of Christenlande looked at each other with a look of dismay.

Above drawing of Ricca from 1969.
Next: The Lachrimae series

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About the author

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