This is where the partnership between Laura, my co-author, and I really unraveled. To some extent it was just our lives and how m uch was going on in them. But the Juliana story and this story by Laura capped it. Lawrence would never have done, even in his earlier teenager's version, done what he does in this story. I tried in later versions to give Lawrence a reason for his actions, that Josephine's growing warmth towards Elerde and coolness towards her husband drove him to seek solace elsewhere and then to hurt Josephine as she had hurt him. But it was clear from the moment I decided to write the novel that in no circumstances would Lawrence have ever chrated on Jo and never, never would he have brought his mistress home.
Of course, in my writing life the real story is that I was looking for ways to think and write about love and sex. For whatever reason having Lawrence have a concubine was more interesting and satisfying than trying to write such stories with his wife. And it was, after all, 1970 and I was 18.
There are only a few old stories left. Only one or two were by or in cooperation with Laura.
There was a feeling in the air.
Summer was just beginning. Life was good and life was warm and summer stretched long and pleasant ahead.
There was love and camp outs and ball games and laugher and picnics and fun. Life burst forth.
Jo rose early on the morn while the rest of castle still slumbered after a night of gay revelry.
Much later they would rise painfully. They held their heads and squinted and were much too nauseous to notice the bright beauty of what remained of the morning.
And Jo smiled to herself. Jo smiled to herself a great deal recently. She saw good in everything, and that was worth smiling at.
She liked to rise early to pick flowers in the garden, or to just bask in the early sun. She thought about how good her life was. She thought tenderly of her children. She thought dreamily of Lawrence.
Sometimes in the morning she saws lovers, for lovers cannot sleep mornings. She smiled at a young man's perseverance, and a young maiden's bashfulness. Her thoughts would fly from the garden and her sewing and travel far from Lawrencium, wherever her love and lord was.
Thus she was so employed this fine morning, with thoughts at flight, when a low voice startled her back to the present.
"My lady," said Sir Percy.
"Percy!" I didn't expect you till this evening. I am glad you are back. Tell me, how is my love? Did he write me much?" Her face was full of shining anticipation. Percy's was deadly grave.
"Is anything wrong?" her face suddenly lost its glow and turned pale. Seeing how worn he looked, she cried out, "Why have you ridden so hard?"
"I rode all night. It was nothing. Here is your letter." Percy was quiet, impassive.
She tore it open in frantic haste and scanned the letter quickly. She glanced up, disappointed that she did not find the answer to her question of Percy.
"Why, he says nothing. He speaks of political matters and people. All about an old friend Juliana that he has become reacquainted with. Percy, are you ill?"
He had turned very grey. Why in God's name must it be me to tell her, he thought. No, I cannot do it. No mind could bear it. He had seen Jo before. Now she turned her sweet concerned face to him. She was convinced he must have some personal trouble burdening him.
"Oh, to bed with thee. Thou must go to bed. And when thou hast slept, come see me and we shall talk again. There is naught that can come between such good friends as we. Is that not right?" Jo smiled, trying to cheer him up.
A look of pain came across Percy's face. He said, "Don't trouble yourself. I assure you I am quite well. Good day, Madame."
She gazed after him, perplexed. With a little sigh she turned back to her letter. It said very little, really. Business and friends. Everything was fine. A bee buzzed close to Jo. She glanced up and a little cross line appeared on her brow. The sun seemed to have gone behind a cloud momentarily. She got up and walked back toward the castle. For some reason, Lawrence's letter left a bad taste in her mouth.
As she went about her daily activities, she did not think of it. She did wonder what was bothering Sir Percy.
But when she thought of Lawrence, the bad taste returned to her mouth. She dismissed her uneasiness as having come from her reading the letter when she was in a bad humor.
Perce did not sleep. He worried and fumed. Was it his place to tell the Queen? As his Queen, perhaps he should. But no. It was not his business. But Josephine, dear Josephine. Perhaps it was his business to advise her, and then be there to support her.
He decided to put it off for the present.
In the week that followed, Jo worried about Percy, and Percy worried about what to do. But rumors had started to drift back to Lawrencium. The castle soon buzzed. Percy grew more and more anxious that Josephine would hear the rumors.
Once she commented lightly to Jocelyn, "there is a lot of gossip about, some scandal or another. Although I haven't heard, I can just tell. All the whispering. You must find out what it is, dear. I'm simply dying of curiosity!" She shook her head.
Josephine did not notice Jocelyn practically choking. The day before, she had confirmed the rumor by questioning her husband until he broke. She was relieved, however, to know what was bothering him.
Percy at last wrote a letter to the King, asking him to inform his wife of the relationship with Juliana before she heard the story from unkinder lips. Then he tore the letter up.
Lawrence had intended to return to Lawrencium later in June, but had found the lady Juliana attractive and satisfying. He found it hard to be away from her; in fact he spent as much time as he could with her without neglecting his duties. When he with her he though of nothing else, but when he was alone he thought of Josephine. He grew angry with himself, for his conscience and argued with himself that it was a natural thing and that he was guiltless. If his wife blamed him, she was being unreasonable and childish. And he would search out Juliana so that he could forget.
When it came time to return, he found that he could neither return to Josephine, nor leave Juliana. He wrote a short note:
Business retains me here at the present, and I cannot leave. Give my regards to the children.
I, King Lawrence
If Jo was concerned before, after reading the curt note she was thrown into a state of terrible fear. Lawrence had never been so cold, so impersonal, so short, and never left reasons unexplained. Upon inquiring, she found that there was no crisis in Derby, no pressing business that should keep the King.
Josephine soon took ill. She was put to bed, and carefully watched and tended by the nurses. The castle became quiet, as if all divined the nature of her affliction.
A message was sent to the King. Lawrence was suddenly filled with a longing to be near her bedside. He hated the thought of Josephine ill, and him not being there.
He began at long last to sort out his feelings. He realized that he had put off going home out of shame. He could not face his trusting wife waiting so patiently for his return. He felt like a criminal. He felt that he had forever outlawed himself from her.
He steeled himself. It was all nonsense. He was a man. And he was THE KING! She must learn to take whatever her lot was as his wife.
He packed and left that very day. And he brought along his mistress.
The Queen was out of bed for his return. She was angry with whomever had over-exaggerated her illness. She was fine, she scolded ed everyone. Yet she was apprehensive.
It was a most formal of returns. Trumpets, jugglers, and throngs of people. Lawrence was every inch the King as he strode up the steps, his retinue in step behind. And Josephine was every inch Queen Sunshine, impatient at his slowness, but bubbling with excitement. She was laughing at his King-show, when he bent to kiss her wrist. She anticipated that any second he would laugh uproariously, throw his arms around her and kiss her properly, and carry her into the castle.
Her laugh died on her lips. Lawrence was gazing at her coolly. "Madame Queen, I am glad to see you well. The Queen should never be ill. Josephine straightened. She nodded to him, masking her perplexity in a display of Queenliness as proper as she had ever displayed.
Lawrence was cool and emotionless. He dared not think this too hard. If he had thought, he knew emotions and desire would flood him.
Josephine did not let herself think, either. If she thought anything, it was that none of this was real, it was a dream that she would soon awake from.
At supper, she was introduced to Juliana. Josephine displayed a proper, polite interest in an old friend of Lawrence's.
The castle was quiet. Naturally, everyone was intensely interested in this meeting. It would be surely be rehashed and replayed endlessly over the next days, from the lowest servants to the most noble lords and ladies.
In a perverse moment, Lawrence suggested that "perhaps Juliana would make a good addition to Josephine's ladies-in-waiting." This was a very honored position. The Queen nodded absently. Juliana up to that time was reveling in the fact that the King preferred her over his wife. She had felt quite superior in the last few hours. Now however, a red flush came over her. She had been degraded. She held a wine goblet in her hand. Without thinking, she rose and hurled it at the Queen. For a moment the entire room was deadly still.
She shouted, "No! Never would I be a lady for HER!" and fled the room.
Lawrence turned to see if Jo was hurt. The cup had hit her in the breast. A look of pain flashed in Josephine's eyes, but she quickly composed herself.
"My lord, I think you are mistaken in your judgment of that girl." Several of Jo's ladies were dabbing at her dress. The wine had soaked through.
"I shall have to go and change. Please excuse me, ladies and lords. I think I will not come back to supper. Good night, Sir Percy."
Lawrence finished supper in silence. There was only one though on his mind, as it was on the mind of everyone there: could she not see the truth, even as it was there, plain as day before her eyes?
In truth, Josephine was bitterly unhappy about the scene, but did not have the faintest inkling of who Juliana was.
In a while the King came to her. He dismissed the ladies. "Are you all right?"
Josephine brightened when he arrived. Perhaps now Lawrence would be his old self.
"I have a bruise, but I will be all right. Oh, Lawrence, why would she hate me so? I don't understand; I don't know her, and treated her with courtesy."
She noticed an odd look on Lawrence's face. " I don't understand. Why must I have to be Queen all the time? All day long I have to be the Queen, and lock poor stupid Josephine up inside."
Lawrence said nothing, and just stared out the window. In a little while, he spoke.
"Josephine, I have changed a little in the past month I have been gone. I regret my past failings, and weakness as King. I am endeavoring now to be a stronger King. I do not require anything of my wife, but remember you are the Queen. Are you proud of yourself, whining and sniveling over some little scene?"
He blew out the candles and came to her. "I've missed you, Josephine," he started, yet he couldn't get the coldness out of his heart. He wanted to trap all his feelings inside this shell of coldness, and he couldn't stop himself.
"Good night." And he was gone from Josephine's room. To Juliana's.
Jo looked after him, stunned. She called to Jocelyn. "You are my friend. I am need of friends just now. What has happened to my husband to change him so?"
Jocelyn replied, "Are you blind? Do you not see? It is plain to all! At this point I do you more harm by not telling you. The King has a mistress!"
"No," was all she could say. The world suddenly was swimming. She fainted.
"Weakness of women. Why did I faint?" she later asked, then remembered. She did not scream or cry or have fits. It hurt too bad to cry. She just sat and stared with glazed eyes.
Later she called for Jocelyn, who was faithfully at her side. "I failed him," Jo began.
"No, no, you didn't fail him," Jocelyn replied. "This is not your fault. Things just happen."
Josephine listened in silence. She wondered if Lawrence felt this bad when he found out she had a lover, Robert. It was a saving thought - it redeemed Lawrence from any blame or wickedness.
He does not love me any longer. He has changed. The way he treats me. When I was unfaithful, I still loved him. But he does not love me any more. Oh, how did I fail him?
She realized that she could not stay another day in Lawrencium, knowing that he loved that other woman…Juliana. Why had she not seen this before?
She sent everyone away, packed a few things, and hastily wrote a note:
Someone else will make a better Queen. The Pope will surely grant you a divorce if you bring up the cases of Robert and Elerde.
Take care of my darlings, as I know you will anyway. The best to you.
No hard feelings
She signed it "Sunshine" in a sentimental moment. She longed to say she would love him forever, but decided not to bother him with it.
Thus done, she disappeared into the night with one maid and one man-servant. She was not heard from for several months. It was later rumored that she was living with a certain Duke and Duchess in France.
It was also rumored that a young lord who had been madly in love with the Queen of Christenlande heard that she was in France, and set out to find her. Elerde had quietly left Christenlande upon learning of Josephine's departure.
Elerde found her, and, according to the rumor, it was lucky for her. For Josephine was a very unhappy young Queen. She was someone who responded only to love and tenderness, and this is what Elerde was able to give her.
For a time, Josephine was happy. A quiet, melancholy kind of happiness, but a kind of happiness all the same.
According to the notes i have, Josephine stays away for two years. We continue at that point in the next entry.
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 http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com