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

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Stories: Rory's Vow to Love the Queen, Part 1 (Happened)

OK, now we are in business!! This story is an updated and I think better version of one of the old stories, the first really direct correlation. You can find these indicated with an image of a chain link the link to the old story. Here is where I will start having as much fun looking back and forth as you!

Link to Rory Reveals His Love for the Queen.

Early 768

Rory McGuinness stood on the battlements of the keep and gazed down at Queen Josephine as she and one of the menservants worked in the garden. He stood leaning awkwardly with his right arm and his left elbow on the stones and his chin in his left palm. He watched her as she moved about the garden inspecting clumps of dead or dying summer flowers, directing the servant which to cut back and which to pull out altogether. He smiled a little to himself watching as the Queen put her hands on the small of her back and stretched by leaning back.

Rory was in love. He had been struck dumb when he first met the Queen when he and Shannon had arrived in Lawrencium with Shan’s son Seamus. He had stood and gaped frankly at her, causing her to color a bit with embarrassment. He could not explain it to himself, nor to Shannon when the man teased him about it later that evening. “Och, I dinnae know what it is. The lady reminds me of.. something.. someone. Ye were right to say she is the fairest lady I have e’er seen. She is.. radiant.. brilliant.”

Rory had finally been able to speak when the Queen addressed him, but it had taken several days. He was so panicked by her presence he did not see the sardonic smile the King gave him, but Shannon made sure he knew about it. “Sure and are ye tryin’ to get sent away from the castle? Get a hold of yourself, lad,” Shannon had laughed.

Poor Shannon. It was not surprising that Heather had been angry when he had brought Seamus to her, expecting her to care for the child. She had not spoken to Shannon for several days, but she had taken to little Seamus immediately. The boy was already calling her Mama, although neither spoke the other’s language. Heather had finally softened with Shannon, perhaps because she saw her husband so clearly in the boy’s face. Shannon had caught her smiling at him one morning, and it had been mostly all right between them since. Shannon was calmer, almost back to his old self.

In the meantime Rory tried to understand his growing feelings for Josephine, or “Seosaimhin” as he thought of her, preferring the Celtic form of her name. He yet could not place what was so familiar about her. But even had there not been that almost mystical feeling about his regard for her, her sweetness and gentleness with him would have drawn him to her.

As he relaxed with her and could speak calmly with her, they began to become friends. Josephine had always liked Shannon, but Rory was something else. He was certainly a well favored man.. quite striking in fact. He was even taller than Lawrence. In fact she had seen the King looking furtively at the Irishman and clearly trying to judge their relative height. The Queen had to hide a smile when she noticed the King would often pull himself up to his full height and try to look taller in Rory’s presence.

Rory was not one of those very tall men who stooped slightly out of self consciousness about their height. His posture was loose and relaxed, once he had gotten over his initial tension. His movements were confident but not forceful, with long legs that carried him farther in one step than many people’s two. He had a personality to match. His gently smiling face would on occasion break into a smile that could only be described as sunlit. That very charm contrasted with his inner seriousness. The combination was irresistible.

Shannon was the better singer, without challenge, but Rory’s talent was clear. His voice was a little higher than Shannon’s. He was less daring with the melodies he tried. He played only the tin whistle and no other instrument, although he accompanied Shannon on makeshift drums on occasion – and he could sing in harmony with Shannon. What Rory excelled at was storytelling. He could deliver any type of tale, dramatic, romantic, and even whimsical with evocative gestures and facial expressions and a studied use of his voice which was resonant. His command of stories from around the islands was remarkable.

One of the things that struck Josephine and Lawrence and anyone else who knew the two of them right away was Rory’s devotion to Shannon. He clearly worshiped his friend, delighted in Shannon’s happy moments, worried and comforted when Shannon was depressed, was elevated by O’Neill’s singing and stories. Lawrence had posited that Rory must have been the follower when the two were children, seeing Shannon as the center of his world.

For himself Rory was unaware of the interest others took in him, did not concern himself with that, frankly. What filled his thoughts now, when not distracted by some of Shannon’s antics, was his growing feelings for the Queen. These he hid well once he had gotten over his bashfulness. Even Shannon stopped jibing him. His attention to the Queen was furtive. He would watch her, as he was doing now, in the garden, about the castle, in the Great Hall. It was at feast in the Great Hall that his revelation had come to him as he sang a sweet song of love for the entertainment of the court. The song spoke of a chaste, pure and reverent love. It had always rung true with Rory’s ideals of love. Now as he sang he suddenly raised his eyes to the Queen at her place next to her husband. Anyone looking saw the transformation cross his visage. He had an epiphany, realizing at last that he had found her.. the beautiful, mysterious, highborn lady he could love purely, from afar.

“Seosaimhin,” Rory had thought to himself, “is the Queen of my heart.”

From that moment on he was even more relaxed, more cheerful, even more jocular. He had found his ideal, and while he naturally had stronger feelings for Seosaimhin the very fact that she was out of his reach as royalty and a married woman made him repress those more immediate longings. His love songs now took on an authenticity that thrilled anyone listening.

Rory and Josephine continued then to be close friends. Lawrence had not regarded him with the same anxiety he had Sir Robert knowing that only a fool would think to pursue a tryst with the Queen when their births were so distant in degree -- and he did not think Rory was a fool, not that way anyway. So when Lawrence decided to make a journey to Affynshire to inspect the new fortifications on the frontier, leaving Lorin to look after the kingdom, he did not hesitate to ask Rory to look after his wife.

Josephine was not at all happy with Lawrence’s leaving for the north but accepted such absences as inevitable. Nor would he have gone if he thought someone else could do as thorough a job of it. He took Sir Percy, who it seemed was looking forward more to the return trip as Lady Jocelyn, the Queen’s friend whom he’d met when unknowingly helping the Queen to return Sir Robert’s gifts. But Percy was too young to be entrusted with the inspection, and the King had reluctantly agreed with his brother in law and made the journey himself.

Rory was the Queen’s nearly constant companion during the absence of the King. He found her quiet and lonely but not much afraid. There was general peace and security now in Affynshire, the former kingdom of her father. This both she and her husband knew was thanks to the man who had wooed her and gotten this very assignment as punishment for that. Lawrence hated to admit it, but Sir Robert, who had for some reason dropped his first name and now went by his second, Elerde, had made tremendous progress in securing the frontiers. In just a year, raids had diminished dramatically and movement about the land was safe again.

To cheer the Queen, Rory and often Shannon with him, would sing and tell tales, and funny stories. He encouraged her not to mope around the castle. Josephine was finding the admiring attention that had drawn her to the Breton knight now coming from a strikingly good looking, charming, and caring.. but safe.. man. If Rory had been with Shannon when the O’Neill and his wife first arrived, the Queen realized, the whole Robert incident might have been mitigated or even avoided.

When Rory suggested that Josephine might go to a fair in a town down the coast from Lawrencium in order to get fresh air and more stimulation than the little princesses, the prince and Tavish could afford her, she happily accepted the suggestion and insisted he come along. A horse was saddled for him and they set out south early in the morning with a small retinue of men at arms and servants.

The fair had been quite pleasant, it being spring. It was not a large market fair as the crops were barely in the ground as of yet. The festival’s purpose was more properly to break the doldrums of the dismal winter and early spring weather and pump everyone up for the hard work of planting. So the town was brightly festooned with early spring flowers and ribbons. There were dances, both to watch and join, feasting, and mummers and other entertainers. Josephine prevailed on Rory to dance with her, as clumsy and shy as he was, and also to sing in a competition that he easily won. She reassured him after it really was his talent and not just that he was the Queen’s companion.

Next: Rory's Vow to Love the Queen, Part 2

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About the author

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