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
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Road To Paris: What Does He Want?
She turned her attention to a nearer threat, that being Mixail himself. What might he want from her? When the first night he ordered her untied from the others and called her over to his campfire, she thought she knew. She joined him, hostile and suspicious, and to her astonishment he laughed.
"Oh, sit. I am far too tired to jump on your bones. I just wanted your company," he said, waving a dismissive hand.
She sat, not letting her eyes stray from him.
"Suit yourself," he chuckled. "For my part, I am going to get comfortable." He pulled his thick cloak about him and curled up against a fallen log that he had had the male slaves drag closer to the fire. "Ale?" he asked, reaching for a bottle.
Warily she nodded. "But if you think I will let you get me drunk.."
Mixail's yelp of laughter startled her and made the others look around. "That's why I bought you. I haven't had this much fun since.. well, in a long time. So you speak Saxon," he changed the subject.
"Aye, I do. And so do you."
He lifted first his eyebrows and then the bottle before handing it over to her. "Quick. Yes, I speak Saxon. I also speak Brezheneg, the language of my own land, and Frankish, and a few words in several other languages. Oh, and Latin. But not Norse."
"Gaelic?" she asked.
"No, not yet. Do you?"
She took a swig from the bottle. "A little. My husband is Irish."
Mixail eyed her curiously. "Husband? How did you manage to get stolen away from your husband? Or..." He paused, regretting his question. "Was he killed in the raid?"
She handed him back the bottle. "What raid?"
Looking at her puzzled, he responded, "The raid. When you were captured."
"I was taken at sea. And my brother..." her boice grew sorrowful and trailed off.
Micail looked genuinely sympathetic. "Damn, I'm sorry. Why were at sea? Running away from your husband?"
Her eyes flashed intoo his. "It was my ship. I am a fisher."
The man grinned from ear to ear. "The more I learn about you the more I like you. A sea captain! With your own ship! So you wear the britc hes in your family. Is the irishman at home then, watching the little ones?"
She frowned, not wanting to reply.
He looked uncomfortable. Casting about for something else to talk about, he asked, "So did you like your brother, then?"
"Like my brother? What kind of a question is that?"
He took a long draught of the bottle and looked away. "The question of a man who does not like his brother and would give a afeast if her came to harm."
She shook her head slowly. "Shame on you."
"You don't know my brother."
She sat silent for a while then decided to take a chance on making use of this man's easy manner and obvcious venal nature. "You know, if you ransomed me, you would be very generously rewarded."
His snort of derision made her face go red. "Oh, I see, you are worth something. Where would this ransom come from," he asked sarcastically.
She paused and then answered, "Críslicland..."
His eyes widened, but his face was all hilariousness. "I suppose you would get the money from good old King Lawrence?" At her nod, he stared. "And just why should he fork out his gold for some Norse fisherwoman?"
She leveled her eyes icily at him. "He is very fond of my husband. His qife is even fonder."
Mixaul sat up. "Who is your husband? No wait, he's Irish, right? Is he a musician? If he is, then he is either Shannon O'Neill or that fellow who travels with him, the one in the song. Roddy.. no, Rory.. McGonagle? McGarrity?"
"McGuinness. And he didn't hang after all."
"Oh everyone knows that. Either O'Neill knew tragic ballads do better or honestly did not know his friend was living. So McGuinness is your husband."
Mixail stared at her speechless.