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 17, 2009

Old Stories: Percy Discovers Juliana, Outtakes

This image was drawn with a red ballpoint originally and really difficult to make more visible. The caption is "The King & his Advisor". I don't quite recall if I meant to make Lawrence look so uneasy... The Lawrence of the novel would be stunned and outraged at this Lawrence's behavior.

A fine white Arabian and its rider galloped swiftly up into the courtyard of the administrative buildings in Derby. The horse wheeled around to allow a tall groom to take its bridle while the rider dismounted. Sir Percy made his way into the central building and found himself in larger foyer. A young page quickly ran up to meet him.

"Yes, milord?" he piped.

Percy turned to look out in the courtyard where his small entourage of men-at-arms was just dismounting. "I am Sir Percy, a knight of Christenlande. I have letters for King Lawrence."

The page beamed. "Aye, I can take you to his lordship. I am a favorite of his."

Percy nodded and went back out into the courtyard to tell his men to take their leisure. They grinned, saluted, and made for the nearest tavern. The page then beckoned Percy to follow him. They went through a hall in the left with of the building to another small addition,

"The King is here, but cannot be disturbed at present. I shall take you to his chamber to await, sir."

They continued through the hall and out a small door to a pathway across a beautiful lawn lined with flowers. It was some distance across to a palatial house which was obviously the King's quarters. Halfway between the buildings and the house there was a bench on either side of the path. On the left bench sat a young woman, who rose as they approached . She walked up to them and curtsied to Sir Percy.

"Andred, is my lord to visit the King?" she asked in a low, soft voice.

"Aye, mistress. I'm taking him to wait in the King's house," Andred replied.

The woman smiled at Percy as he observed that she was tall, well dressed, and had dark, flowing locks, unbound. "Please, my lord, let me introduce myself. I am lady Juliana, and I request your presence for tea in the Maison du Soleil. We can wait for Lawrence there."

Percy accepted, although when she looked away, he glanced uneasily at her. She had called the King by his Christian name.

Percy and the woman chatted over tea. They spoke of Derby, Christenlande, and inevitably, the Queen.

"Yes, when the King speaks to me, it is mostly of her. She must be truly wonderful. He describes her as "gay, lithe, golden and impossible to understand." I think that is sweet, don't you?" She laughed and set her cup down. Just then the door opened and shut. Lawrence came quickly into the room and smiled broadly.

"Sir Percy, my friend! Do you have letters? Oh, how welcome you are! You've met Lady Juliana then! Good, I knew she would have made herself known! She's my substitute for Lorin, since I am so disorganized. I need someone to keep track of me Josephine does that rather well, but Juliana is a fine stand-in."

He sat brusquely down. "The letters! The letters, man! Come now, you don't think I can wait, do you?" Lawrence chuckled. Percy took the letters and handed them over to the King.

"My lord, this is from the Queen.." he began.

Lawrence murmured. "Ah, yes, the seal."

"And these others from Lorin, and Erick, and Samir al Tamid."

"Thank you, yes thank you. But here, come with me up to my room and we'll talk while I read. Julian, will you excuse us?"

The girl nodded and smiled. "I'll see that your mean are quartered and fed." She curtsied and left.

Up in Lawrence's room after dinner, Percy looked out the window while Lawrence wrote:

"My Dearest Jo,

I have just received your letter and have kissed it seventy times already. I miss you sorely, but must be patient. The proceedings here should not be too much longer. I do long for you and the children. I spent the girls' birthday and Tavish's in intolerable melancholy, but together they did not equal my sorrow on your own! In any case, I shall be home for three days on the anniversary of our marriage on June 14, so I may not be lonely much longer.

Percy sits here looking bored, so I must go. Do believe that I love you and believe that you are ever present in my heart.

The loving lord,

Lawrence Regis Gratia Dei

Lawrence looked up. "Viola, I am done." He took up the letter and folded it. He sealed it and set it aside for the wax to harden. "I am sorry I had forgotten you. Did the Queen ask anything for you to observe about me?"

"No, my lord," Percy answered. "She is most trusting."

"She has nothing to worry about, for my love for her is like an angel that is with me always. Can you stay long?"

"Pleasing my lord, no. I prefer to return as soon as I might, now that Jocelyn is with child."

"Ah, yes, how I am happy for you! It is soon, is it not?"

Aye, my lord. A few short months. I hope that you will have returned home by then."

"That is my hope, too. As you ca see, I am not myself. It has been lo long. It seems so long." Lawrence sighed.

They spoke a while longer, but Percy asked to be excused early, as he wanted to leave at daybreak. "Excuse me if I do not see you off. My presence is required is required a little later at a meeting," Lawrence apologized. He gave Percy some letters and called for a page to take Percy to his quarters for the night.

Percy had not quite told the truth when he said the Queen had requested nothing. A whim had come to her and she had gaily asked Percy to spy as to whether Lawrence still stood at the window in the dark as he did sometimes at home. After installing himself in his rooms, Percy went out onto the great lawn for a walk. He seated himself on one of the benches and dozed a little. Awakening with a start awhile later he looked up to see that it was about midnight. Remembering his purpose he looked up a the little balcony where Lawrence stood, arms crossed, eyes closed, in the dark. The King did not move until a candle was lit behind him, at which he, apparently hearing something, half turned. There, behind him, stood lady Juliana.

The King reached out and took her hand and they went back into the bedroom together, hutting the door behind them.

Percy gulped and rubbed his eyes. Could it be so? He turned and walked slowly back to his room. In two days he would be confronted by the Queen herself, but oh how he dreaded telling her, as a dutiful knight must, all that he had seen…

Next: The Queen find out

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About the author

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