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
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Juliana Series: She's Home! (outtakes)
To one side Shannon and Rory stood together, both smiling. Shannon turned to his friend and exclaimed, "Oh my dearest Rory. I love thee so dearly!" He threw his arms around his taller friend's neck and kissed him right on the lips.
"Get off, ye fool," Rory pushed him away laughing. Josephine and Lawrence looked over at them and laughed as well. Peter made a rude loud kissing sound and all burst into laughter. Even Erik smiled over at them from where he was sending his crew back to the ship to begin ferrying goods he had found along the European coastal towns.
Lorin had been standing smiling at his sister. She left Lawrence's arms to come to him and kiss him on the cheek. She saw tears in his eyes. "Welcome home, my dear, " he said to her quietly. "Welcome home."
Lawrence looked back at his Queen. "There are some little ones who would like to see their mama," he said. He led her to his horse and lifted her to its back. He swung up behind her, then reached down to help Peter up into his wife's lap. The King looked over at the others and made a signal with his hand. "I thank thee all," he said. He turned the horse's head, feeling Josephine's arm around his waist and Peter squirming with excitement and happiness in front of them both. They rode up the road to the castle.
Shannon winked at Rory and jested, "Think they'll get past her bedchamber door?"
Rory gave him a gentle shove. "Aye, and that I do.. something's are more important than sex, ye reprobate." Shannon gave him a shocked unbelieving look. They laughed.
Then suddenly Shannon was grave. "Rory, me old dear. Bo is gone."
Rory looked into his face, trying to divine his meaning. "Gone? Sure and ye mean gone home? To where'er he came from.. what did he call it.. Washing Town?" The look on Shannon's face said no. Rory's face grew sorrowful. "Tell me what happened, Shan."
As the two took leave of the Dane they walked arm in arm up the hill. Rory listened with his head bowed as Shannon spoke. Lorin remounted and, having Erik's confirmation that he would bring up the horse that Rory had ridden down to the dock, he turned and cantered past the Irishmen and up to the castle. He said a silent prayer for the man he had sent to find Josephine when she had flown.
Somehow the entire castle and the people in all the houses along its road had heard the news that the Queen was home. They lined the road and leaned out of windows, waving bright colored scraps of cloth and cheering. Lawrence, Peter and the Queen laughed and smiled as they heard shouts of "Welcome home, my lady!" "Ne'er leave us again, Josie!" and "Do not keep her up too late, sire!" In the great arched gateway into the castle courtyard, everyone who lived or had business there this day had thronged to greet the Queen. Hands reached up to her as they rode slowly in, and she leaned carefully to clasp them. "God bless thee, my lady," came the greeting from many. The royal trio just smiled back and at each other.
Near the keep Peter hopped down and turned to watch as his father dismounted and turned to put his hands up for his mother. She slid down as the King supported her. When he had placed her on her feet and put his arms around her, the throng cheered.
In moments they were surrounded. Lorin had ridden in behind them and dismounted, handing the reins to a stable boy. Larisa surged forward through the crowd to her husband and they joined the royal couple as they made their way to the door of the keep. Peter had rushed forward and was already inside. Josephine saw her many friends standing and beaming at her. She leaned forward to kiss Jocelyn on the cheek and say something that could not be heard over the noise of the crowd. Then the King and Queen, arms around each other's waists, passed through into the building.
A crowd trailed them up the stairs to the Queen's chambers, but at the door Lorin and Larisa stopped and stood to bar them from following Lawrence and the Queen inside. Josephine glanced up covertly at her closed bedchamber door as they passed it, and Lawrence hid his look of love and concern. The nursery door blew open and the four other children burst forth, with a proudly smiling Peter right behind. Josephine found herself surrounded by little arms, clutching her legs and screaming and laughing. Even barefooted Donalbain had toddled out and clung, jumping up and down.
"Mama! Mama! Thou art home!" the children were crying over and over. "Papa, look, Mama is home!"
"Oh my darlings," Josephine wrapped her arms around them all as best she could and hugged them tightly. "I am home, and I shall ne'er leave thee again if I can help it." Her eyes brimmed with happy tears. The cluster of big and little feet and heads and arms move together through the doorway and into the nursery.
Josephine sat on a cushioned bench and the children jockeyed to be next to her on either side. Caithness succeeded in claiming one arm and Elaine the other. Donalbain climbed up on his mother's lap. Tavish draped himself over the toddler and his mother's knees. Peter stood close and put his hand on his mother's shoulder. Lawrence stood and watched with tears in his eyes.
"Oh, Mama, we are so happy you are back from visiting Uncle Elerde!" Caithness cried. Josephine turned a startled face to Lawrence.
"What did thee tell them," she inquired, not a little irritated.
Lawrence had paled. "My dearest, Larisa felt it was best they know thou were safe and that a... trusted friend was with thee." The word "friend" was said with a slight change in his tone, a little bitter, although it was clear that he was trying not to betray any feeling at all.
The Queen nodded. "I suppose that was wise. I will talk to her later to see what else was said." Josephine's voice was sad.
Little Tavish was trying to crawl up on her but Donalbain took up her whole lap. "Caitie, will thou let Tavish sit between us," her mother asked. A little peevishly Caitie reluctantly gave up what little room on the seat she had to let the boy, his mop of curly red hair bobbing, struggle to get on the bench. Lawrence bent to lift his son and put him next to his adopted mother.
"Mama, Mama, where's Ler?" the little boy asked, looking up with rich brown eyes into her face.
"Sir Elerde is back in France, my darling. He will not be coming to see us any more. " She looked into Lawrence's eyes, seeing nothing but sorrow.
"Can we go see him, Mama?" Elaine asked quietly, her voice trailing off as she spoke. She had picked up some feeling between her mother and father as she looked from one to the other.
"Nay, sweetheart. We cannot." She looked at Tavish who only sat looking thoughtful. "I am sorry for thee, Tavish. But it is time we forgot about Sir Elerde." She looked again at Lawrence. Seeing a sad smile touching his lips, she smiled back. Then she looked harder at him. "Oh, my dearest love, thy face!" She had noticed the disfigurement caused by a broken cheekbone and the scar.
Peter explained, "Shannon hit Papa in the face with his lute!"
"Bam!" hooted Donalbain, miming a mighty blow.
Josephine gave a sympathetic little cry. "Oh Lawrence, he did tell me. Does it hurt?"
Lawrence knelt in from of her and the children and smiled. "Nay, not any more, not that I should not deserve it if it did. " He took her hand and kissed it. They gazed into each other's eyes.
"My darling," the Queen said. "We shall talk anon. Let us now enjoy the time we have with our wee ones."
Caitie burst out, "Now Papa will smile all the time again!" The Queen glanced at her and then at her husband.
"I shall see that he does," she grinned. The seven put their arms around each other and held on as best they could, with Donalbain bouncing on his mother's lap.
The Queen said as quietly as she could in to Lawrence's ear, "It shall take me some time, my darling. But I promise I will make thee smile again." He nodded, his head against the side of her face.
"I shall be happy to hold thee and gaze at thee, my love. The rest can come when it comes."
Next: Josephine Comes Clean