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, August 31, 2009

New Stories: Artur and Gwenlian (Happened)

If "Artur" doesn't ring a bell for those of you who read the novel, just substitute the name "Ansovald". You can tell at the point of this story I still had not done my research... I had named Lawrence's friend a French name, but in 767 AD there was no language French. So I created the Frankish diplomat's son, Ansovald, to be lawrence's best buddy. Artur's fate in the upcoming stories is quite different and probably somewhat more entertaining than Ansovald's, but no way as useful for villainizing Gaylorde/Gadfrid further.

The significant change from the old stories is the parentage of Tavish. Check out The Birth of Tavish and the old stories that follow to learn who Tavish's mom and dad started out to be.

Spring-Summer 767

ne of the first things Lawrence did after the move to the new castle and capital of Lawrencium was send for an old friend from his boy years, Sir Artur LeMieux. Artur had been fostered at King Arneth's court and though Lawrence's older brother's, age, had become the second prince's friend immediately upon his arrival. Artur had joined the forces fighting against the usurper Roland and settled in to oversee aspects of the building of the new capital on his friend the young King's behalf.

With the castle finished Artur had sent for his young wife, a Celt from Northumbria named Gwenlian, from their home in France and she had been living at the castle with him for some time. Both had met the King and Queen on their arrival and Gwenlian, the young very pregnant wife of the French knight had been in charge of settling Peter in the new royal nursery.

When Lawrence had shown Josephine the castle he left her in her new bedchamber and went into the Great Hall. Sir Artur was there, talking near the huge hearth with a number of the other knights, some who had just come with the royal party from Lincoln and some who had arrived before. He saw Lawrence as he came into the Hall smiling and stood and went to him. He went down on one knee before him and greeted, "My liege, bienvenue à votre chateau."

Lawrence reached down for his hands and raised him, then embraced him heartily. "Seigneur Artur, friend of my boyhood, what joy to see thee again!" He looked about, "And thy lady wife?"

Artur beamed, "She is caring for thy little son in the royal nursery. But she shall not be doing that for much longer as she is nearing her own time of lying in herself!"

Lawrence clapped him on the shoulder. "'Struth! My felicitations to thee, my friend, on joining me in the pleasures of fatherhood." He threw an arm across Artur's shoulders and they went to the hearth and shared some ale and talk with the knights.

In the royal nursery the very pregnant Gwenlian was fussing over the prince when Josephine came in. Gwenlian curtsied as well as she could in her condition, and the Queen laughed and bade her stay standing. "I know how that doth feel, Gwenlian! Please, do not feel thou hast to curtsy to me.. or the King for that matter." She went to the radiantly smiling Gwenlian and took her hands. "How good to see thee again. Is our son giving thee much trouble?"

Gwenlian allowed herself to be led to a bench and sat as Josephine went to look at her sleeping son. "Oh, no my lady! He is an angel."

That evening Artur and Gwenlian sat on either side of the royal couple at feast. It being the first feast with both the King and Queen present it was a grand affair. Shannon the minstrel from Ireland entertained with music on his lute and with his songs. There were other diversions as well, dancers, mummers, and jonglers.

Artur shared stories about the building of the castle and town and the reshaping of the outlaw's lives in their new homes and businesses. "Mon roi, it is a thing to see, these men with their families all about them again and finding honest work. They are all so eager to learn and to make thy capital a thriving place and an important market town!"

Gwenlian, not at all shy, jumped in. "Aye, and 'tis so good to see the children of these men in better homes and clothing and eating better than they e'er have. One mother came up to me in the street and thought I was thee, my lady, and knelt and put her arms around my legs and wept for thanks. It was sweet.. but I made sure that she knew I was not thee!"

Lawrence smiled, "Two ladies with child, an understandable mistake." He and Artur exchanged proud looks.

Josephine smiled warmly at her friend. "Oh nay, my lord, I am hardly showing yet, but look at Gwenlian! She will bear a huge son I think."

Gwenlian laughed. "'Tis true, I can tell. And he kicks! He will be a mighty warrior."

Gwenlian helped the Queen settle into the new castle that bore her nickname and into the new routine of their lives there. Her sunniness and good humor kept Josephine in good spirits as life began to take on that sameness it has a habit of doing. It was good to be with Lawrence again, and he was more attentive and thoughtful than ever, but she could not help but remember that her life had been a little more exciting just a few months before.

Gwenlian had also taken charge of the garden, and as Josephine had thought, the application of soil from the river had enriched the beds and the flowers were growing heartily. The two women spent time in the garden, the Queen on her knees pampering plants while Gwenlian sat on a marble bench and fussed over not being able to do much more than coach the Queen.

"Do not be foolish," Josephine chided her. "Thou art the best company I couldst ask for."

For their parts, Lawrence and Artur spent much time wandering the streets of Lawrencium with Lorin inspecting the work still being done. Artur introduced Lawrence and the Duke to the outlaws and other men establishing businesses and homes. There was the brewer, the baker, the butcher, many farmers, the man who was building a fulling mill some distance from town on the river. Some of the outlaws had been artisans. Lawrence praised the work of the stonemasons he met at their workshop. The metalworker was not an outlaw but a man who had lived in the area where Lawrencium was built, a Celt named Cedric. Lawrence promised much work for the castle to him and to the many others he met in the town.

There was one man he admitted to Artur he did not much care for the look of. The man was one of the two brewers in the town and his name was Hugh. Lawrence thought there was something about his features that was familiar, but mostly he thought the man seemed shifty. "That one will bear keeping an eye on, my friend," the King had said.

Artur had grinned and nodded. "N'avez vous pas peur.. I have tasted his ale.. he shall not be in business long." And he and the King had laughed.

The King was also glad to have his hunting companion with him. Lorin was not a hunter, and of course neither was Shannon. The young knights were eager, but it was Artur who shared Lawrence's pleasure in the whole ritual of the hunt, not just the killing or competition. Lawrence enjoyed the time in the forest, the strategizing of the hunt, and as much as anything, the time by the fire sipping wine and talking over the day. Artur shared the same love.

However as the time came closer for Gwenlian's lying in Artur became more distracted and tense. As hearty as the young woman had seemed, this late in her pregnancy she began to feel tired much of the time. The King had said to his wife, "But that is usual, is it not?"

Josephine had looked worried. "Not this tired. I am in fear for her."

Gwenlian was brought to childbed in July, when Josephine herself still had three months to go before her child was born. It was very hot that day. Josephine had arranged for a serving woman to fan Gwenlian as she lay sweating . It became clear quickly that Gwenlian and her child were in distress. The babe was full term so the midwife said she thought there must be some problem with its size or position. She prescribed herbs for relaxing the mother's muscles and to calm her. She tried to examine the birth canal but could not see anything untoward.

Artur was with the King and Lorin, pacing and tense. He continuously chattered in French. Both Lawrence and Lorin had flawless French and knew exactly what the knight's fears were. They shared them.

A servant rushed in late that night to the King's council chamber where the three men were waiting. "My liege," the man cried. "The child is born!"

Artur did not even glance at the King but tore out of the room to where his wife and child were. Lorin had stayed to ask the servant how the lady fared. The servant just shook his head.

Artur dashed into the room to find his wife deathly pale on the soaked sheets and pillows. He knelt by her side and put his hand on her cheek. "Mon amour, ma vie," he cried. Her eyes slowly opened and she tried to smile.

"We have a healthy son, my darling," she said to her husband in a faint voice. A wave of pain crossed her features.

"My dearest Gwenlian, I am so happy. And now thou will get stronger and we.." Artur almost argued.

The woman's smile had turned sad. "Nay, nay, my love. I shall not. I shall leave thee now. Take care of our boy, Artur. And please name him for my brother."

Artur started to insist she was wrong, but she lifted a weak hand and put her fingertips to his lips.

Lawrence and Lorin looked in. Josephine saw them and shook her head. She motioned them away and followed them out, leaving Artur and his wife with only the midwife attending the dying woman.

Josephine told her husband and brother, "The child was too big for her, methinks. He is well, but she hath bled too much. We cannot stop it." She hung her head.

Lawrence looked up stricken at the door, then back at his beloved. "OH my dear one, I am so sorry." He took Josephine in his arms and she buried her face in his chest.

Lorin was standing a bit away looking somber. He had not long before lost his own wife and child. Lawrence told him he should go and distract himself and the Queen's brother thankfully bowed and rushed away.

In the chamber Artur held his wife's hands as she slipped quietly away. When he knew she was gone, he sobbed into the covers next to her. Outside the door the Queen bit her lip and the King grimaced and held her tighter hearing his sobs.

When Artur came out of the room, he too was as pale as death. He was holding a bundle. He held the baby for the King and Queen to see. It was a red faced boy with a remarkable amount of brown curls. "Just like his mother," Lawrence said kindly.

Artur nodded mournfully.

Josephine looked into the man's face. "She asked thee to name the child for her brother. What is his name?"

Artur looked blank for a moment, then roused himself. "Was, my lady. He is dead. His name was Tavish."

The Queen looked in on the tiny motherless child. "Hello, Tavish," she said, unaware that before long the boy would be her own.

Next: The Brewer of Lawrencium

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About the author

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