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, July 24, 2009

Old Stories: Arrival in Wales, Alternate Endings

I appear to have become fascinated by Wales though I don't remember why. Perhaps I had read a novel set in medieval Wales, though the only clue as to which would be the likely date this story was written, somewhere between 1971-3... I think.


Lawrence's party accepted Llewellyn's invitation to stay in Radnor without question. All along the ride to Wales there had been far no one would wish to take in so many homeless foreigners. Few, though, in the party spoke Welsh only Lawrence, Lorin and the Irishman, in fact. When the King's interview with ap Cador had finished, the Christenlanders had been escorted to the great hall and the fire. It was a sight to see, three women, for their children's sakes, bustled up close around the fire, three others who stood waiting to warm their hands. Each who were attended had servants striving to help them warm themselves and the children. The men stood off to the west where the table was. Llewellyn stood between Lawrence and Lorin, chattering away about the villa's remains and how he had salvaged much of what could be seen from ruins of an old country home of a Roman Briton. He told them, with much apology, that tonight many of the entourage would have to bedded down in the great Hall. The King and Lorin could have rooms, for a small party of chieftains who normally stayed at court during the summer and autumn had left to guard their sheep because of the early winter. There were a few rooms where they stayed available.

All were well enough satisfied to have any sheltered place to sleep, and were able to rejoice the next morning when they awoke to sunshine and the songs of migrating birds. They were able to prepare themselves for the last stages of their flight - settling in and growing used to their new situations.

Rory's wells was the best so he translated as Llewellyn attempted to explain what kinds of arrangements had to be made. H explained that only Lawrence and Lorin and their families could have rooms. Lachrimae could stay temporarily with a lady who occupied a third room. A fourth, smaller room could be used as a nursery. Those who wished could choose parts of the estate to stay at and still others could have small cottages outside the old Roman wall. Percy and Jocelyn suggested that a hut could be built for them, Ricca could share one of the rooms. Rory said he could sleep in the Great Hall, as minstrels often did. Thus he could speak to those who traveled and et news, and reminisce of his home in Ireland. Samir spoke to ask to bunk in the stables. He said that when it was cold he could come into the Great Hall, but until then he would be near the horses he learned to care for in his youth. Sean an Emily asked for a small cottage, for this is how they chose to live in Christenlande as well.

There was one vacant hut already and Percy and Jocelyn went out to claim it. They had few belongings to make it feel like their own, but Jocelyn was very versatile in converting various items into useful furniture and d├ęcor. Sean left Emily to care for the children while he supervised the building of their own small abode.

It was a burden lifted; all those hours of discomfort and worry and sorrow ere converted to the activity of people concentrating on making new memories and places for themselves where those memories would reside.

Perhaps most active was Father Hyperion: he had to wade through the rubble where the oldest wall had been torn down to make the encampment large enough to add a small chapel. This very chapel, in time to come, would be involved in the great division of the Saxon church, denouncing the Celtic brand in favor of Roman Catholicism - but the walls would be crumbled and the remains overgrown long before a profligate king would divide it again in favor of a pretty new wife. Trivial matters often destroyed whole ways of life; centuries-old traditions bow to personal whims.

There was much to be said for the new homes these people set up. Lawrence and the Queen might not view purple velvet, regal designs or luxurious furnishings, but their room was ever as warm and a setting of love as ever. Josephine could smile and be a little pleased that royal matters no longer called Lawrence away from her side-they could spend countless hours alone and with their children. In the fort, Lawrence could no longer enjoy the pomp of his reign, but he also need not fret over this and that political matter.

One more person they were to meet. At the evening meal of mutton, hearty ale and bread, a young lady sat at the table with the household and guests. She seemed not to be a servant. She did not speak, but to Lorin, who spoke politely to her once. They soon learned this dark, mysterious lady was the Prince's paramour, Cairlin.

Floor plan of Randnor's great hall.

Next: Samir and Rory Speak of Love

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About the author

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