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

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Stories: The Journey to Ireland I (Cut)

Shannon does leave lawrencium to travel to Ireland and return with Rory in tow in the novel, but the rest of this story will have to wait for its own volume. As you may recall, Heather was a casualty of the deep cuts to make the book something appeoaching a reasonable length. Forget she ever existed. I am sure Shannon would like to forget too.

August 767

“Shannon, I do not want to be left here alone!” Heather stood staring at her husband as he packed his things for the journey to his family home in Ireland.

“Ye will not be alone, me darlin’.. the King and Queen are both here.. and ye have friends..” Shannon’s mind was a whirl of conflicting feelings. He both did not want and very much wanted to leave Lawrencium. More to the point, he both did not want and very much wanted to leave Heather for a while.

“That is the same as being alone, and, nay, since Emily left months ago, I have had no friends here.” Heather crossed her arms over her breasts. “I wager ye want to leave me and that this bastard of yours is just the excuse.”

Shannon colored. He turned to take Heather in his arms, but she pulled away and stood with her back to him some steps away. “Sweetheart, machroidhe, of course I dinnae want to leave ye… ‘Tis a long hard trip to Ulster. I wouldnae go if I dinnae need to.. “

Heather wheeled on him. “So ye cannae decide whether ye want to stay for me or for the avoidance of a hard trip!” she accused.

Shannon bowed his head and let his arms hang limply at his side. “Come with me, macushla. Come and see me home and meet me brothers and sister…”

Heather leveled a cold glare at him. “So you want me to go on that long hard trip… ‘Tis bad enough ye dragged me all the way from Ayrshire here.. now ye wish me to traipse along with ye to God knows where..”

“Och,” Shannon cried. Sure and will ye not leave off, Heather. We talked about all this ere we even wed. I am a minstrel. Minstrels must be on the road to make our bread.”

Heather’s voice shifted from strident and accusing to a pout. “Shannon, I thought ‘twas why we came here… so ye could be a court minstrel and stay in one place.” This time when the Irishman came to hold her she let him.

“Dear one, that is just so. But this is different. This is something I have to do for meself.”

Shannon knew the moment he got the last word out that he had taken a misstep. Heather pulled away and went to the other side of the room. “Yourself.. aye, for once I think ye are bein’ honest.”

Shannon sat down on the top of the chest he had been taking his things from. He stared at her listlessly. “Och, Heather, can we just not argue all the time. I am goin’. Must. I wish ye understood why. I am sorry ye will be lonely here. Perhaps ye should go back to Ayrshire…”

Heather was not finished with him. “Ye would like that, would ye not? Leave ye here with all the pretty lasses.. and the Queen..”

Shannon stood and lifted his pack. “Well, then, I am goin’ and ‘twould be nicer for us both if ye would at least kiss me goodbye.” He looked at her grimly, turned and walked out of the chamber.

Moments later Heather came out after him, running to catch up. “Shannon, Shannon, please do not just walk out!”

He turned to her, still grim. “Lass, I was after tryin’ for a fond farewell, but ye were not interested, so it seemed.” He cast a defiant look at a serving man who was passing in the hall.

Heather looked embarrassed by the witness to one of their now notorious quarrels. She came up closer to him, put her arms against his chest and toyed with the cord that closed his jerkin. She cast down her eyes and pleaded. “Oh, dearest Shannon, ‘tis just that I shall be so alone and shall miss ye.. my love.”

Shannon’s face softened. He smiled a little wanly at her. He reached with his free hand and lifted her chin so her face tilted to his. He leaned and kissed her. “Och, I know that.. and shall I miss ye too, dear heart.” He let his pack drop and put his arms around her. She sank into him. “Heather, ye are me only love.. remember that. I shall be true to ye. I promise.”

She looked up with a skeptical cast to her eyes. “Truly?” she asked.

Shannon gave her a humorous smile and wink. “Have I not ever been, macushla?” When she still looked uncertain, he hurried on, “Aye, I have, I swear it on the Soul of Music. I have not betrayed ye and I shall not. I love ye, Heather. I wish ye knew and believed that.”

She gazed into his eyes. “I want to. I do. But why do ye have to leave me then?”

He sighed and pressed her head to his chest again. “Saints preserve us, I have told ye. I must. ‘Tis an obligation to me family.. I wouldnae go if I dinnae have to. And ye will not come with me.” He tightened his arms around her. He could feel she was starting to weep. He put his cheek against her hair and hummed and sang a little lullaby he knew she loved. He felt her relax into him, as she always did.

“Shannon,” she said still with her cheek against his chest.

“Aye, machroidhe?” he said gently.

“Come home to me.. safe I mean,” she said quietly. He lifted her chin again and kissed her long. Then he chucked her under the chin and said, “Try to be friends here, Heather. They will embrace ye, just ye wait and see.” He reached to take a tear off her cheek and lifted it to his lips and kissed it.

Heather nodded, sniffling, and they took their leave of each other.

Next: The Journey to Ireland II

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About the author

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