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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Juliana Series: Bo Asks Rory to Let him Tag Along with Him (Just for fun)

The big man turned to his new friends so they could see the total effect of his disguise. Shannon whistled and Rory nodded approvingly. He himself was dressed in monkish robes, a fact that Bo had wondered at. Brother Padraig beamed at his own handiwork.

"Faith, three young novitiates will be after going naked this winter with all the cloth I used for thy cassock," he said, but without a dram of regret.

Bo had noticed that the old monk had not asked why he _needed_ a cassock... he had likely just gone along with his countrymen trusting them to have motives he could accept.

Shannon pulled his lute from where it hung by its strap down his back and much to Rory's surprise and fascination, strummed it instead of picking out notes and chords with a plectrum.

"I woke up this mornin' In anew suit of clothes. Yeah I woke up this mornin' Like a monk head to toes. Brother Padraig did dress me But not in ribbons and Bo's."

Bo groaned at the terrible pun. Shannon winked at him and said, "Well if ye didn't want me to be after creating songs, ye should not have taught me the blues." At Rory's quizzical look, "Shannon just shrugged and grinned.

Bo looked over at the old monk and said, "By the way, I wanted to tell you your song about Adam is outasight."

Padraig looked at Shannon and Rory then back at Bo. "I thank ye.. I think.. but what matters is that it be out of mind.. the Father Abbot's that is."

"I know, I thought you got a bum rap on that, dad." Brother Padraig decided not to pursue this bit of slang and returned to measuring Bo's cast offs with his eyes and by stretching the clothes between two considering hands.

Bo smiled. "I suppose now you will get down to brass tacks." He said, remembering that he had heard that tailors used to cut out patterns by stretching fabric on a board using brass tacks. Of course his "used to " was Padraig's "someday will". Padraig looked at him puzzled for a moment and then got a look in his eye that told Bo he may just have messed with history. "Well maybe it won't catch on," he thought as Padraig was clearly assessing the idea for his own use.

The old monk considered under his breath, "I be wonderin' if iron tacks would be after workin' just as well?"

The distracted monk raised an absent m indeed hand to the men as they thanked him and left to slip out of the monastery. Rory suggested, "Let's go back to the inn." The three amigos set out towards the town again.


Bo made a point of falling back a bit - not easy as his stride was much longer than Shannon's and even Rory's who was a giant of a man for his own era. Bo wanted to speak quietly with Shannon. "Hey man, why is your buddy in that get up?" In response to Shannon's vacant look, he went on, "Why wears he that monkish raiment?"

Shannon did a look and gesture that reminded Bo of Ted "Theodore" Logan in the Bill and Ted movies , nodding his head and wiggling it from side to side with a goofy grin on his face. He half expected it to be followed by air guitar.. or he supposed it would be "air lute". He tried not to laugh.

Shannon was oblivious. "Why, now, did I not tell ye. He is after leavin' town himself. He will not say, but sure and I think he will go look for the queen himself. The king forbade it but me old son has more than a wee interest in the lady himself."

Bo laughed, "Sounds like the whole damn country is one big Official Queen Josephine Fan Club,"

Shannon was learning that if he did not understand something Bo said it didn't matter. He said nothing in reply.

Bo went on, "Well why shouldn't he come with me then. Why didst thee gesture not to tell him what I be here to do?" he said, slipping again into the local vernacular.

Shannon considered. "But I thought ye told me that the Duke told thee not to tell anyone o' ye'r quest."

Bo shrugged. "Sounds to me like your homey there is as much up to no good as I am. That is, neither of us are exactly doin' the King's will."

Shannon considered. "Sure, and ye could use the help. And Rory is true blue. I would trust the darlin' man with me life.. and have done on more occasions than I would be after admittin':

Bo said, "I bet he feels the same way about you."

Shannon got his typically misty look in the one eye that was currently in operation and sighed something in Gaelic, something about "ma chroidhe" (pronounced ma-cree, as in "Mother Macree"). Bo hoped he wouldn't start crying. It seemed like this one didn't have to be in his cups to go off the deep end. Irish and penned by a teenager was a dangerous combination.


At Shannon's new rooms at the Blue Lady, Bo approached Rory. "So the O'Neill tells me thou art setting out on a journey..." he led.

Rory nodded. In a light tone that didn't fool Bo for a minute he replied, "Och aye, I be thinkin' the air around Lawrencium be not to me likin' these days."

"But the King.." Bo began.

Rory finished, "Och, Lawrence will not even know. I have been puttin' it about that I am sharin' Shan's rooms. Methinks this King won't moind one less Irishman around under his feet."

"Or one less member of the Q.J.F.C.," Bo breathed..

Rory was sharp enough to understand the "Q.J." part but said nothing about the cryptic remark, going on instead, "Not that the King notices much of anything these days." He looked over at his friend, who was leaning out the window shouting instructions at someone who was apparently bringing something up to the room. "Me Shannon had to tell him his own wife was gone."

Bo gave Rory an understanding look. "That's harsh," he said. He went on, "Hey, I mean, yea verily, I am a stranger in these parts. Mayhap thou will allow me to journey with thee?"

Rory looked at the big man doubtfully. He reached for some excuse to turn him down. "Nay.. aye.. it just be that ..."

"Look, man, I know all about it. I'm lookin' for her too. Lorin hired me." At the word "hired" Rory stepped back and was on the offense.

"Hired ye?! Are ye a mercenary?" Rory had it in for mercenaries. Well one particular mercenary.

Bo clapped him companionably on the shoulder. "Cool it, bro. Not a mercenary.. not exactly. Thou canst call me.. ah.. a hunter. I hunt for things people have lost."

Rory relaxed, "Or thrown away?"

Bo nodded.

Just then there was a commotion at the door of the room. The two tall men - tall for their respective eras - looked over to see two small dark men trying to drag a feather bed into the room. Bo inquired, "What is this, Ye Olde Sleep Country USA?"

Shannon was dancing about with delight. Rory was leagues ahead of Bo. "Shannon, ye didn't. Tell me, ye didn't. Saints preserve us, man. Are ye mad?"

Shannon's eyes sparkled. "Och, ye'r just jealous. Off ye go into the mist to sleep on the cold, damp ground, while I will be smilin' all snug in this feather bed smellin' her sweet perfume." The men dropped the feather bed on top of the palette on the floor where Shannon was expected to lay his red head. This time the mattress was top up. Rory and Bo saw the stains and tried to find somewhere else to look.

"Have a heart and cover that, man. Guess you don't have mattress pads yet."

Shannon reassured Bo and Rory by throwing a blanket over the bed. He turned to Rory, "Pay the men, old son."

Rory rolled his eyes and pulled out his drawstring purse. "Aye, that I will." And he put coins into the men's hands until they seemed satisfied and left. He leveled his haze at his friend again. "Lucky ye be that Heather ye'r wife left ye and went to her mither in Scotland..."

Shannon gave Rory a hurt look that swiftly turned into one of mischief.

Bo looked after the men who had brought the bed. "Should we not worry they will tell the King about this.. and about our traveling as itinerant priests?"

Shannon and Rory both burst out laughing. Rory explained, still laughing, "Ha, if the King would ever exchange two words with these fellows they wouldn't tell him a word." The redheaded men doubled over laughing and slapped each other's backs. "Tell a Sassanach! Ha!"

They took leave of Shannon at the north road out of the city. Shannon had a sparkle in his eye and a hearty goodbye for Bo, but with Rory he was somber. "Be careful, me lad. And bring her home safe." He was actually crying now.

Rory returned, "Stay out of trouble, man. "

Shannon managed a tearful smile. "Och, ye know me.. the trouble has not happened that I have not been in."


As they began on the road that led over fields and into the forest Bo turned to see Shannon still standing, wringing his hands and waving alternately. "Why don't he come with us, Rory?"

Rory cast an uncomfortable look back at Shannon. "I cannot tell ye, but I have an uneasy feelin'"

"Oh yeah?"

"Methinks that sweet man has some plan, a plan that will no doubt get him killed. I don't know what it is, but ye've met Shan. He is a darlin' man, but he can be rash.. especially with a little drink in him."

Bo looked back at the diminishing figure. "Lord, I hope not." Bo wanted to see the man again, and it was clear that so did Rory, very, very much.

Next: Juliana Tries Another Strategy

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About the author

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