Believe me, I am groaning at all the thee's, thou's and canst's as much as you are. For some reason I thought I needed to write like this when I poosted these stories on Ghoatletters. I promise it ain't like this in the novel.
"I do not think I have seen the man smile since he returned from Trent," Larisa said to her husband.
Lorin shook his head, "Nor shall he, evermore, I think. What it must be like to know that thou hast strayed onto a path that can lead nowhere. He is trying to come back to himself. He is working again."
His wife nodded. "Aye, and he spendst time with the children." She inquired, "Hast he given thee any explanation of how he couldst have brought the woman here?"
Lorin turned and went to his desk. He moved some papers around and shook his head. "Nay, and I do not think he shall - at least not to me. He thanked me for not pressing him, which I tookst to be as much a plea not to do so."
"And thou wouldst not, e'en so. Thou art not such a man." Larisa came to Lorin and put her head on his shoulder. "Juliana has retreated to her rooms. I hadst at first thought the King had banished her there, but I spoke with her this morning. She is reeling from the looks she gets, the laughs from the courtiers, the hate from the O'Neill.." She went on, "My lord, I was thinking of making the ladies in waiting spend time with the girl. She is so lonely."
Lorin responded firmly, "Nay, my dear. Do not that. Thou art kind, but we must not interfere. Things are bad as they are.. do not stir the pot."
Larisa bowed her head to her lord. "Thou art right, my wise husband. It is just that she is in pain. I canst not stand to see it. I wish I understood. How could Lawrence do this?"
Lorin looked out at nothing in particular. "I do not know."
Larisa restrained her urge to make the ladies spend time with the dark haired woman in the guest chambers. But she herself would take her needlework and sometimes her baby son to sit and talk with her. Juliana was clearly grateful. She would look sadly after Larisa and baby John when they had to leave. Larisa asked the woman, "Hast thou no children. Juliana?"
Juliana replied sadly, "Nay, your Grace. I am unable to conceive. It was an advantage in my position at Derby. I have promised the King he shall have no more bastards. " Juliana looked quickly at the Duchess and apologized. "I am sorry my lady. That is not a fit subject for thy ears."
Larisa laughed softly and put a motherly hand on the sad woman's cheek. "Nay, nay, dear. I asked about children. It was a natural thing to tell me. I am sorry for what has happened. Everyone is. But it h as happened and nothing willst change that. Thou must make the best of the situation. Life must go on."
Juliana sighed. "Life. Is that what this is called?" She curtsied to the Duchess and turned back to her needlework, making it clear that she would say nothing more.
The castle's state of suspended tension was broken by a happy sight. A dragon ship was spotted pulling into the harbor. Erik the Dane was back from his latest trading trip. He was one of the King's closest friends. And he was one who stood for no nonsense when it came to courtly love and romance. Erik was a stout Northman without the Saxon/Celtic inclination, amplified with a good dose of the Gallic, to dramatize what Erik thought was the "facts of life" - love, sex, marriage, all that. He had women in his life, but they were as direct about it as he was. When he married, he once told Lawrence, "It shall be a solid alliance with a strong man's daughter, a woman who can bear healthy children and keep a firm hand on the rudder of the household."
When the King heard of the red and white striped sail in the harbor he was excited . Lorin saw the ghost of a smile, in his eyes if not on his lips. "Erik, how hearing his name doth do me good. "
On the dock the King and his party greeted the Dane, who clasped Lawrence's shoulders in a boisterous greeting. "My lord, I have brought thee and thy Queen many wondrous things from my trading voyage." Then he caught a look in Lawrence's eye. "Something is wrong."
Lawrence draped an arm over his friend's shoulder and led him towards the castle. "Aye, that it is. Come, let us hie to my rooms and I will tell thee."
Glancing around at the faces of Lorin and the other men, Erik put his arm around Lawrence's shoulder and they headed for the castle.
Erik took the news of all that had transpired in the past weeks with his accustomed equanimity. "I know thou dost no wish to hear it, but I told thee all this swooning and mooning was not something that mayst be maintained. "
The King nodded, not firing any sharp looks at his friend. "I know. I know. I don't agree with thee, but I certainly cannot give evidence to the contrary, canst I?"
Erik ventured further. "My lord, I am surprised that thou put this lady in such an elevated position. A mistress is one thing, but to ask the Queen to acknowledge and accept her?" Were thou mad?"
Erik was one man who could always be direct and candid with the King. Lawrence knew that Erik's words came forth from an even nature and that Erik knew that if he would stir the King's wrath, he would simply embark in his dragon ship and set out for some other port.
"I canst not explain it, my friend. I suppose the bitterness that hath grown over that man Elerde and the Queen's open love for him.. That he is gone maketh no difference. She still longs for him. How am I to bear that?" He raised his eyes for Erik's answer.
Erik looked evenly back at Lawrence. "Art thou telling me that he bedded her?"
A flash streaked across the King's visage. "Not before, but methinks she is with him now, in every way she can be."
Erik looked surprised. "Is the man so audacious as to return to these islands?" he asked.
Lawrence looked sadly out the window of his counsel chamber. "Nay, she has gone to him, in Brittany."
Erik replied, "I do not think so, my lord. I know all the captains of all the ships in the Channel, and if any had transported such a lady, I would know." At the King's startled but dubious look, he said, "Trust me, Lawrence. I would k now."
The King stood and paced distractedly. "Then where has she gone?"
Erik looked down at his own hands as he laced and unlaced his fingers. "My friend, doth it matter? Wouldst thou bring her back?"
The King sighed. "Nay, thou art right. I cannot. I cannot.. put aside this woman, no matter the cost."
Erik stood and went to his friend. He put a strong hand on the man's shoulder. "This woman? You mean, the courtesan?"
Lawrence looked up and aside to his friend and shot him a warning look. "Do not say that word, my old friend. Not even you may cast aspersion on Juliana."
"I am sorry, lord. I meant nothing by it."
"I know," the King said, subsiding. "Her presence here hath created much disruption. I think the only friend I have is thee." He patted the hand on his shoulder, smiled bitterly, and went on. "But I cannot do without her, Erik. I cannot have them both… but I cannot send Juliana away."
Erik, who admired this man who stared painfully in front of him, still shook his head. "I will ne'er understand thee and thy passions, King. She is a woman. I am sure she is beautiful. You would have no other. But she is a woman like any other."
The King turned to the Dane and said, earnestly, "That is just the problem, Erik. She is not just 'a woman like any other'." He began to pace again. "I( do not know if I canst put this in words. I am drunk with her. If someone told me her skin is bathed in a potion, I wouldst believe it. I can work and confer and make sure the business of the realm is done. But when I go to her my head clouds and all I can do is… love her."
Erik stifled a snort. It had been a long time since a woman had done this to him. The King sounded like a boy after his first wench. He did say aloud, "Methinks thou needest to go to the tourney yard and practice thy sword work. You need something to work off that 'drunk' with."
The King stopped pacing and looked sideways at his friend. "I am no squire, my friend. No boy. I am not simply hormones out of control. Thou ought to realize that." At Erik's conceding nod, he went on, "In some ways I feel more like a man than I e'er have. I shall not dishonor the lady by sharing her and my secrets, but I have never been with a woman before.." He placed the emphasis on "woman", drawing the word out and accentuating it."
"So that is it, my lord." Erik smiled subtly. "You are intoxicated with her. Well, enjoy it while thou canst. Thou paid a great price for it. Get thy money's worth."
The King's eyes flashed again but Erik just shrugged. "Someday someone will say 'a man's a man for a' that." He put his hand again on the King's shoulder and gave it a brotherly shake. "That is true of Kings as well as others."
It was good to see the others of the court as well. After his private interview with Lawrence, Erik went in search of his friends. He found Shannon, Rory, Percy and others in the Great Hall. They all looked at him speculatively. Percy asked, "Did he tell you all that hath happned?"
The Dane looked back. "He said enough". He leveled his gaze at the young knight, making clear he would say no more.
Rory started to ask Erik about his journeys when Shannon interrupted. "He won't let us go after her, man!"
Erik shot him a look. Sometimes Shannon could be a real pain in the ass. "Dost thou think the lady would come back?" he demanded.
Shannon struggled for an answer to this logical statement. He blustered and puffed but nothing intelligible came out.
Erik gave the man a satisfied look. "I can tell thee one thing."
The three men looked up at him, anticipating.
"She's not in France."
Next: Lawrence Faces a Sad Fact
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 http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com