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 6, 2009

Old Stories: Two Versions of "The Identity of the Twins Revealed", 769 AD

For some reason there are two versions of this story where the mystery of the birth of Caithness and Elaine is revealed. In the novel, the girls are born twins. Here are both versions.

Version 1

Donalbain's big blue eyes sparkled as he creeped along the furry rug toward his mama. Her gown was bright blue and when he reached its hem he stopped to finger it. Lifting it he caught a glimpse of a red slipper. He laughed aloud and started to grab for his mamma's foot, but she laughed softly too, and he looked up quickly. Donal opened his mouth wide in a smile, proudly showing off his fine tooth. Grasping her skirt in both hands he laboriously pulled himself up to lean on her knees and play with her hands.

The Queen smiled contentedly, thinking with regret of how Lawrence had missed some of Donal's most important advances. Lawrence had been in prison a month when his little son first came to know his mama. In succession he learned to laugh, sit in her lap, to play with his hands, to sit up and then, just before his return, to stand If she held him. He'd seen his soon first crawl, though! Now as the baby gurgled and cooed she should relax and know that all would be well now.

Tavish was a bright little boy. He could speak several words now at 19 months and literally ran about the castle, only stopping to peep in holes and spy on people. Elerde had not left him for sure, for the Frenchman hand asked for and received orders from the King to go to Aux-la-Chapelle to attend to King Charles. The desolate knight hand determined that after his secret dishonor the best he could do would be to serve the Frankish King and think no more of Queen Josephine. (Foolish dreamer that he was.)

The Queen looked about his room to see if all her children had gathered. Tavish played quietly with Peter. Caitie, whose illness was finally going away, sat bundled up with a doll on her lap, on her daddy's bed. Elaine was lying across the head the bed, fast asleep, with some of the covers grasped in her fist. Caitie looked up for a minute from her doll and leaned over to pat her sister's golden hair. Josephine's inquisitive eye caught new differences but all she could see was that Caitie looked a little more like her, and Elaine a little more like Lawrence. This puzzled her but she left off wondering when the door opened. She lifted Donalbain to her bosom to stand to greet Lawrence. He held tow tine hands. Two sets of eyes peered up at Donal. Three-and-a-half-year old Peter stood straight up and flashed grey-blue eyes just like his daddy's. In fact, when Josephine looked at her two men, she could seem them as twins, with 20 years and a growth of beard between them. At the King's left bounced a little elf whose hair eyes were identical colors, dark warm brown. (Unfortunately, just like his mama's>)

Lawrence's eyes had a glitter about them and he had an ecstatic, but slightly mischievous smile on his face. "I have a surprise for you," he said softly as he kissed her forehead. He cam farther into the room and nodded to a little old woman to come in. "This woman has earned her life's weal for what she has told me," Lawrence announced.

The Queen sat down on the bed and Lawrence sat down by her. The woman waited a moment looking at the girls. The she began. "Beggin' your pardon, milady, If ye remember me, I was a scullery maid in Sheffield when ye was there, and 'twas I who was the midwife at the layin' in of ye and yer friend, Lady Raphael.

The Queen broke in, "Know ye which of my girls is truly mine?"

"Aye, and I do. When ye had gone through childbirth, the Lady had begun with hers and she, said to say, we lost them both, ma and babe. We didn't tell ye, for ye were so ill we thought ye'd die of the sorrow. We never thought that you'd ever think that one of your twins was her babe…"

"Twins!" the Queen cried and buried her face in Lawrence's chest, weeping with joy.

Version 2

December 767

At the Christmas feast nearly all the great lords were assembled. The King and Queen sat at the had of the festive table, very festive in their finery. Jugglers and tumblers and dancers whiled and leapt and smiled in a dizzy maze of red, green and gold. From his seat, Lawrence watched his friends. Lorin sat, arms crossed smiling wistfully at a minstrel whose voice trilled a love tune. Larissa watched him and nibbled on dates. Shannon and Rory sat and talked, Shannon's face a picture of rapture, still not believing his friend was returned. Erik made no distinction between a holy night and any other night. Adin had not proclaimed a holiday for bawdiness, and a raven-haired beauty enjoyed his lusty kisses. The rest talked and laughed and sang carols with the music. There was one notable absence - Elerde did not sing or dance even sit at the table. Lawrence remembered how he had made sure Elerde left the castle, soon after that dark night. Lawrence's temper had been formidable and on order Elerde had taken his flight on pretext wanting to spend Christmas in Brittany. Through all this Josephine had remained quiet and secluded , taking with courage the King's temper snaps and the poignant sorrow and doubt she face. That first night back together Lawrence had been passionate and desperate, but that night as so many nights, she awoke to find him standing at the window, watching the moon.

The children were their source for true delight. Peter ported his three and one-half years gallantly. The Queen loved to watch his eyes, so like his father's, and found she loved the King more and more each time she did. Two and half years fit the toddlers well. Both were quiet now, Elaine naturally and Caitie because of her illness. Tavish swaggered about like a man-at-arms but spent quiet moments at the cradle of little Donal.

Of course the children were asleep now, and while the Queen chatted with Samir, Lawrence thought of a very gay event a month ago. He and Jo and been casually playing a game of chess when Clancy informed them a very old woman pleaded her way into the castle. Lawrence, whose temper was still quite short, started to tell Clancy to have the woman taken away, but a soft look from the Queen made him gesture her in. The woman entered cowering, and kissed the Queen's hand.

"Why…" the Queen gasped, "Why, you're one of the midwives at Sheffield…"

"Yes, my lady, and if you will but promise me no harm will come to me for my silence until now, I shall tell you glad news," the old woman said.

Lawrence sat up straight in his char. "Aye, aye my good woman. What is it you have to say? If it truly good news, you shall have anything you desire…." He flushed. "Within reason, of course."

"My Liege, I am here to tell you of the night the princesses were born. Both my ladies the Queen and Raphaele were in labor and we put them to sleep with our various herbs. The Jewess died before her child was born, and the baby, a boy, died also. I had not realized that the Queen thought her twins were not both hers, for I was the only one in room when were born. And I left soon after. The lady who attended the Jewess hated her and told the queen a lie. The woman is now dead, God rest her."

Lawrence remembered how Jo had jumped to him and cried out in joy when the woman had left. The Queen and he had sat together, running their fingers through each other's hair and laughing and kissing for sheer delight.

The Queen turned to him and saw the smile of a dreamer. "Merry Yule, my love!" she said.

Next: The last few old stories.

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About the author

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