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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Road To Paris: Mixail

alni sat with her back to the cornerpost of the slave pen farthest from the stile.  Usually pulled outside the pen so as not to tempt the inmates to try to escape, it was in place now, signalling time for potential slave buyers to inspect their options.  She was of two minds about the possibilities: staying where she was she at least was no farther from home and Shannon.  Being sold meant a better chance of escaping entirely.  Getting away from the slave pen also meant getting away from the men also captive.  Just because they were also to be sold did not mean they scrupled not to take advantage of the women in the pen with them.  She had held them off until now, but how long could she?

Hearing male voices from the direction of the guards' hut, she looked up.  Oona came over to squat next to her.  "It looks like we have many buying, yes?  Many languages."

Falni nodded absently.  She could just see the men who were gathering on the other side of the stile.  There was some commotion, and a woman's voice was raised in pettish complaint.  Oona's jaw dropped.  "A woman?  Women buy slaves?  I want to be bnuyed by a woman!."

Falni glanced bitterly at her friend.  "Are you mad?  Women can be just as garsh as men."

"No rape though."

"Not necessarily..." 

Further comment was cut off by the sight of the first guard over the fence.  He was comical to watch.  He made it over the stile, then stood like a rooster, his thumbs in his belt and a bounce to his stance.  Oh yes, he thought well of himself.  He would show the bitches who was in charge.  Two more junior guards came over.   They stood and glared at the women.  The lead guard muttered something to one of the younger men, who came forward and started forcing the slaves to their feet.

When he got to Falni she simply looked up at him and bared her teeth with a growl.  She pointedly looked at where a livid bruise showed where she had bit him on the arm.   He called over  his buddy and they managed to get a gag on her and force her to her feet.  She was then pushed to join the long line of women about ten feet separate from the men slaves.

Falni looked the buyers over.  There were about half a dozen, not counting the obvious servants.  There was the woman, seemingly wealthy, who screwed up her face in distaste at the ordure undefoot.  She had three servvants with her, two men, one of them among the swarthiest Falni had ever seen, and an older woman.  Her dress was mostly unfamiliar to Falni, but Oona leaned to whisper in her ear, "Frankish!"  She glanced over to see Oona making obsequious little smiles and nows to the woman.  The rich woman did nto even look at her.

Anoth buyer was a short, round man in quite outlandish garb, what looked like a long piece of some fine white stuff wrapped around his head several times, and some sort of kneelength tunic of the same fabric covered by a wobe of rich russet hue.  His servants were two muscular giants who, like himself, wore black beards, but his was left to grow long and had white streaks.  She guessed he was from Moorish Spain.

She could tell the two men who stood together inspecting the slaves were Danes, their clothing, coloring and height similar to many of the men she knew from her home in Norway.  They glance at the women from time to time but seemed more interested in the men.  When they approached they looked the men slaves over like they were buying horseflesh, checking their muscle tone, their general health, and punch ing them in the chest to see who would resist.  When they did, the two Danes laughed and grinned.

Men with flat faces and upward slanted eyes stood close around another of their land, an older man with a shrewd eye.  They were pale of face, short in stature, but in no way weak or insignificant.  Oona shrugged at Falni's questioning look.

The final man was more elegantly dressed, stood with an imperious expression, and occasionally plucked at his own sleeve.  The style was reminiscent of the Irish men Falni had met, but richer.  He looked like a Celt but not quite like the ones she knew.  oona was so busily trying to catch the woman's eye she did not notice him, though she must for certain have known where he was from.  Cornwall?  Wales?  Brittany?  Asturais?  The oddest thing about him is how he glanced surreptitiously around from time to time as if he knew what it was like to be on the run.

The buyer groups  avoided each other as if they were contagious with some pox, mirroring the haughty man's suspicious glances.  The woman and her three servants made for the line of men.  She glared fiercely at the two Danes who were laughing merrily as they inspected the strongest looking of the males.  The Danes moved to a strapping fellow, obviously a Scot, and while they were prodding him here and there, the woman's swarthy servant came over to them, nowed low, and spoke to them.  They stopped laughing and stared.  They seemed to be appraising him but not for his meaning.  An argument broke out between them and the black man.  Falni tried to catch what she could, first realizing that all three were speaking the amalgam of languages that served in trade.  Teh Danes were looking for oarsmen.  The woman's servant would not say what she wanted.

Falni's attention was caught when the small Moor made it to where she stood in the line of women.  He looked at her from under heavy lidded eyes, working his fat lips in a way that made her shiver.  He gestured to one of his men, who reached forward to grasp Falni's already torn jerkin.  She hissed and started to raise her leg to kick the man in the balls.  He jumped back, then made another try.  The Moor waved him away.  He was already moving on to OOna. 

To be continued.

There was another man

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About the author

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