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

Monday, July 13, 2009

Old Stories: Shannon Returns from the Dead

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As the days grew warmer the King and Queen found increasingly to their comfort to go walking by the sea. Sometimes the wind would blow down from the North Sea and bring with it fresh, cool breezes. Sometimes others would accompany them most frequently Rory and Heather, but these two would more often than not turn back before they reached the point where Shannon's lute had washed ashore.

Since Shannon was drowned these two had been at silent odds. For five months, Rory had wanted to upbraid his friend's widow stoutly, but the Queen had begged him to keep silent. Heather, in the meanwhile, had continued unknowingly self-righteous and discredited her husband's friend's implied opinions. She grieved more deeply for Shannon than anyone could tell, for she had loved him, despite her dominance over him. The Queen felt this and tried to comfort her, but Heather knew all too well how Shannon had regarded the Queen with love and resisted her kindness.

Heather's disposition was one too prudish for that age. Had she been born one thousand years later, she would have been happy enough, but she could not make allowances for Shannon's freedom of spirit and refused to believe her thwarting his passion for her had driven him to despair.

She knew well she would never again marry, tho', and his children, as wards of the King, were secure; she could remain the wife of Shannon's memory and the mother of his children.

In the middle of July the weather worsened and the heat required the King and Queen to observe most of the ships docking, not from their comfortable tower, but from the grassy hills by the harbor. The King took interest in watching for Erik the Dane's return by sea, as Erik had been visiting his home for about a month and was due back. The King was not to be disappointed, either, for great red sails appeared on the horizon on the 14th of July. Their small group stood to await the docking of the dragon ship. Soon Eric could be beheld on the prow, and it was noticed a blonde girl was at his elbow. This caused much amusement for Erik was well known for his denials of being weak enough to fall in love. They peered hard to see her, but behind the fair two was send to approach another young man. The color of his hair caused the Queen and Heather to pale, and when some of his features were discernable, the Queen gasped and swooned. Rory saw her fall and carried away by the King, but he too was transfixed. When the others had followed the royal pair, Heather and Rory remained to stare. She even dared, in her amazement, to speak the name they had not dared to mention in a five-month: "Shannon!"

The ship was securely docked and the principal passengers disembarked. Rory stood and regarded his dead friend, who came up to him to be embraced and to embrace. "So you too return from the dead, my friend!"

The voice was dear as ever, "Aye, Rory, and more alive than e'er you were when you were resurrected!"

Erik busied himself with directing unloading. He presently walked off to the caste with no more than a nod in greeting. Heather turned her gaze to the girl, who was therefore not Erik's companion. She ventured to speak to her but the gild blushed. Shannon turned his attention to Heather then, and embraced her heartily. Heather noted that the girl regarded all this timidly, and as Shannon promised to recount all his adventures, he turned to the girl. "This…this is Falni…" Heather understood, turned, and fled the company.

In the Queen's chambers where the King, the Queen, Lorin, his family, Rory and Clancy gathered, Shannon told his tale: he had been retrieved from the sea by a young Norseman who proved to know a little English. As Shannon was very ill, he kept him at his abode with his father and sister. When Shannon was fully conscious, he discovered he could remember nothing of his past life. He only recalled it when, in mid-June, Erick had discovered him. All were amazed, and sought to question him, but he asked that the King, Queen and Rory be left alone with him.

Once alone he explained a little more: the girl who was now being made over by the Queen's women in the next room was his benefactor's sister, Falni, who by Norse law, was as good as married to him.

"I know no what I shall do! I love Falni and she needs me! I also love Heather, too much so to ask her to divorce me. I don't want to hurt her, but I can't avoid it. Poor little Falni, she can't speak a word of English, but the words in songs I have taught her-I a am able to speak Norse now and," he addressed him to Josephine, "how I love her, the dear, sweet thing. We were made in complementary molds!"

The three could give him no advice, but that he must speak to Heather. At his request, he was given chambers and to them he led Falni. "The woman on the dock is my wife from before I met you," he explained. "I must go speak to her now."

Falni's eyes widened. " I shall not lose you!"

"Nay, you shall not lose me!" He kissed her and left her to make over the furnishings to a chambermaid of the Queen's who was Norse.

Shannon's heart beat fast as he approached his old chambers. A maid let him in, but Heather was not presentable yet, so he waited. A few minutes passed and the door opened slightly-two sets of eyes impishly peered around the door-"DADDA!" and Shannon found himself on the floor, weeping with his Seamus and Deirdre. It was this scene Heather came upon and it softened her a great deal. When the boys went back out she sat down in a chair and asked him to rise.

"No, I am ashamed. I shan't rise."

"Heather eyed him with distress - "Oh, Shannon!" she burst out. "What have we done?"

Shannon was silent. "Whatever, it is done and done completely. Forgive me, for I have loved and do love you, Heather, and I believe you loved me once."

Heather sighed. "And I do yet, but…"

"But no home is possible for us, machree. I have wronged you because my nature is to love all women, and you have wronged me by refusing me. You are, tho', the most sensible woman I know, and you will forgive me - Heather, this is hard to say…our marriage is over." He recounted to her how he had escaped death and then went on, "I love Falni very much and, and-I may say as well say all - I love you, I love the Queen, I love many women, I love even my sister Kathleen, but it is Falni who needs me, and it is with Falni I shall live!" She looked at him, a look full of love and he threw his head on her lap - "Oh, Heather, machree, forgive me!" he cried as he wept and she cooed to him until at last he stood, nodded gravely to her, and went to get Falni, who was to join him in his office as minstrel for the evening meal. He was troubled more than his nature could support and he turned to Falni for the comfort of her look, her laugh, and the girlishness he longed for. And she received him, pulling his head to her and stroking his hair so that he slept and dreamt of her.

Pictured: Rory, Shannon and Falni play a trio.

Next: That's up to you!

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About the author

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