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, March 29, 2010

Rory and Ceri Vignettes: "What's in a name?" and "Threads"

Thanks to Lori for the information on the dyes Ceri would use!

What's In a Name?


Rory was stretched out on the ground under a tree while Ceridwen sat beside him with her back to it. "Aye, macushla?"

Ceri sat up and looked down into his face as he looked up at her from where he lay with his head cradled on his corssed arms behind his head. "I was wondering something. Orán's full name is 'Orán de Sionnaine'. So that is Shannon's real name.. his Gaelic name, is that right?"

Rory nodded, "Aye, it is that. Wouldn't his full name be Sionnaine Ui Neill, or Shannon the descendent of Neill.. Neill of the Nine Hostages, a great king?"

Ceri had been around enough Irishmen to know that this last was not really a question, but just a way of stating a fact. "Then that means you must have a Gaelic name."

"I do. 'Tis Ruairi Mag Aonghhusa." He smiled. "Can ye still be after lovin' me with that name?"

She laughed, "Mayhap even more."

Rory smiled broadly. "Och isn't the lass fond of her Gaels. So tell me then, why do ye have a Welsh name?"

Ceridwen reached and stroked his hair. "My mother liked it."

He took her hand and kissed it. "Och, and do I as well."



"Are ye workin' on Lady Gidrun's wedding clothes then, darlin'?" Rory asked as he came up behind Ceri as she sat outside at the table embroidering. He put his hands on her shoulders and leaned to kiss her on the neck.

Ceri turned her face in time to get the kiss on her lips. "Aye, this is her nightdress. That over there I have gfinished." She indicated a neatly folded garment of a deep green that she had embroidered in bright colors around the neckline and the shoulders where the sleeves would be attached. "That is her mother's wedding dresss. It fits her well but Gidrun wanted more color."

Rory swung first one leg and then the other over the bench and sat down. He made sure his hands were clean and then carefully picked up the gown. He did not unfold it, but lifted this part and that to look at his wife's masterful work. He breathed in awe, "Och, Ceri, sweet Jesus, ye do fine work!" He was looking at delicate and colorful flowers and leaves woven as if in a garland.

Ceri smiled at his compliment. She did not think she had gotten so many in such a short time in her life, although her work was well enough known to have been requested from as far away as the Archbishopic of Canterbury.

Rory lay the gown down gently. He leaned his elbows on the table and peered closely at what she was doing now. He glanced over at her spools of colorful thread. He picked some blue thread up and sniffed it and examined it visually from different angles.

He looked at Ceri with interest. "Lass, where do ye get these fine threads?"

Ceri replied, "Well, I spin the thread after dyeing the wool these different colors." She had to laugh at his look. He always seemed to regard her as having magical powers when she explained these things. Almost giggling, she gave him a quick kiss. "Your Aunt Maeve did not make dyes or spin wool then?" she asked him.

Rory thought a moment. "Sure and I can remember her spinnin' wool.. and commplainin' all the while. But what we wore was mostly not colorful. Me Uncle Fergus would ask her to make his kilts of the clan plaid but she said 'twas vanity and he should just be thankful he had clothing at all. "

Ceri raised her eyebrows. "How did you turn out so sweet, Rory?" He just grinned.

"Do ye make the blue of indigo then?" he asked.

Ceri shook her head. "Nay, indigo is banned in most of Englanad. The woad industry saw to that. So I use woad, but I prefer it anyway. i like to use what comes from our own land when I can." She went on quickly, "And of course from Ireland and Scotland and Wales."

He nodded his appreciation for her inclusion of his home. "I ken that that is a good dye, for I had to wear woad in battle, and it dinnae come off so easy. Fortunately the pale blue on your face and body makes the lasses swoon for ye, a soldier."

She eyed him sidelong for this remark, then pointed to five different sppools of her home dyed and spun thread she used for embroidery and for tapestry work.

"I get yellow from onion skins," she explained, laughing when he screwed up his nose at the thought.

"Red is from sappanwood.. they say it came from the Orient long ago but it grows well in these more northern climates. The apothecary has it ready for me when I need it." She handed him the spool of red thread.

"The apothecary in Lawremcium?" he asked, and she nodded.

"I can make a whole range of purples from lichens. They grow all about on the trees and on the stones in the walls. I may send you to collect them for me sometimes."

Rory looked concerned. "But how will I be after knowin' which to collect?"

She smiled, "I will come with you. You didn't think I would let you out of my sight would you, Rory, my darling?"

Rory laughed. "Ye have learned well how to win kisses, darlin'," and he gave her one.

She smiled. "Green.. from lichens too, and also certain mushrrooms."

"Black is hard." She pointed to a small spool of what really was very dark deep brown. "Fortunately I rarely need it."

Rory looked at her quizzically. "Then how do ye make it?"

She smiled humorously. "I do not. The mother sheep does. When she bears a black wooled lamb." She chuckled at his expression.

"Och, the lass is so droll," he said cheerfully.

Next: Two Vignettes: Wilfrid and The Lute

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About the author

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