Monday 2 December 2019

Our First Story... First Love by M. J. Logue - A Story Inspired By A Song

Welcome to our December Treat!

A variety of brilliant authors have generously contributed
a unique short story for our enjoyment and entertainment.

To start us off on our month of Story-Song...
a story about M.J. Logue's colourful character
Holofernes (Hollie) Babbit
from her "An Uncivil War" series
(Highly recommended novels of the English Civil Wars 
from the view of the Parliamentarians for a change!)

Read the Story
Guess the Song
here's a clue...
Art, Mosaic, Monument, Hand Labor

He was a captain now, by the grace of God and a well-aimed pistol ball in the back of the previous incumbent’s head. Which was possibly the worst-kept secret in the company, but there you go.
Captains didn’t start brawls.
   He gave that consideration, leaning with his shoulders against the warm rough plaster of the Blue Cat’s smoky common-room. Hollie Babbitt was twenty-four. Married five years – yes, he had been nineteen, thank you for asking - and a full captain for sixteen months. That was a bit of summat, for a Puritan’s whelp of no birth and little breeding, straight off the Lancashire moors. He had studied much on the behaviour of tavern bravos since his early soldiering days – particularly with it being his wife’s inn, and Margriete not being the kind of lass who expected him to sit round at winter quarters eating his head off.
    Margriete was as proud as a dog with two – he caught himself - delighted with his position. She didn’t care for rough soldier’s talk, either, and when a man had been campaigning in the back end of Bavaria and starved for feminine company for the last six months it was important to stay in his wife’s good books in the interests of maintaining uninterrupted marital relations.
    He was stood there – slouched there, absently gnawing on his thumbnail – when his eye lit on them.

It was the squawk from Janneke that caught his attention, and he looked sternly to the table of flamboyant youths drinking at the back in the shadows. By the way she was scarlet in the face and frantically trying to shove her bosom back in her bodice, there was more than a little rough play going on. Even as he watched, as Janneke tried to make herself decent, one of the merry gang – dark lad with a little smear to his top lip that was either his supper or a moustache – pinched her backside, hard enough to hurt by the look of it, and then when she twisted away trying to gather herself and her tray of empty mugs, smacked her across the bum. They all laughed like fools at her when she stumbled, too, and then the mousy one snatched her cap off, stood up, and tried to stick his tongue down her throat.
    Hollie liked Janni, who was all of eighteen and a nice lass. She liked lads, but then again, she was eighteen. They liked her, too. She was cheerful, bouncy – in her person, as well as in her nature, though he probably wasn’t supposed to have noticed that – pretty and hard-working. She didn’t deserve overbred fools with more hair than wit and too many hands while she was just trying to do a job of work. He pushed himself off the wall and ambled over to their table.
    “Sup up, gentlemen, you’re done.”
Image result for Dutch tavern

Janneke fled, her eyes overflowing with tears. “We are only beginning!” the dark-haired whelp snapped, as if he were talking to a dog or a servant. He must have been about twelve. Literally, about twelve years old, and thought he was a bit – a lot – of something.
    “Then you can carry on in some other bugger’s tavern, no? Because you’re done in this one.”
    “I do not think so,” the mousy one said – all very chilly and looking down his nose. Which was the sort of nose you got when cousins had been marrying too long, in Hollie’s opinion. “Do you know who you are speaking to?”
    “To whom,” Hollie murmured. He couldn’t help it. He might look like nobody owned him but he was making the effort to behave like an officer, if only for her sake. “To whom I am speaking. And no, mate, I’ve not a clue, and I care less. If you’re not drunk up and out before I count ten, I’ll put you out. One.”
    The dark-haired one made a rude noise reminiscent of a bean-fed horse. “The fat-tailed sow who runs this dive wouldn’t dare put us out.”
    “That what?”
   “The giantess. Behemoth, if you prefer. The fat Flanders mare. Shall I continue, or are you too stupid to understand the words?”

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Girl at a Window - Google Art Project - edited.jpg

Now. Margriete was not quite as tall as six-foot-and-a-bit Hollie, and a lifetime of hard work keeping the Blue Cat decent meant that she was almost-as-tall-as-Hollie of solid muscle. But the funny thing was, he liked it. He’d had five years of people looking at him – at her, too – cockeyed, thinking she must have married him because she had an itch wanted scratching, and he must have married her because he wanted a foot in the door of a successful business and a roof over his head. Didn’t matter how many times he’d enlightened them else, they still persisted in thinking it must be convenience, or a shameful advantage. Plain fact of it was, he’d had an eye to her since the first hour he’d walked in the Cat, and after a year of dogged, if inexperienced, courtship, she’d decided she had an eye to him in return. And here they were, happy and unlikely and be buggered to the nay-sayers.
    She was an Amazon, and she did have a fine fat backside, and he would not have had an ounce less of her. Nor, for unfathomable reasons of her own, would she have had him older, tidier, or less conspicuously russet. She was the first person who ever had considered him all right, just exactly as it was. That mattered. He felt all the skin go tight and hot on the back of his neck. “You might want to un-say that last, mate. You’re talking about my wife.”
    The dark-haired whelp shrugged. “Likes her bit of rough, does she? Perhaps I’ll have a crack at it myself, after I have you killed.”
    Hollie picked up the little crawl’s tankard and emptied it over his head. “Well, if you want to play it that way,” he said happily, grabbed the young gentleman by the collar, and lifted him bodily out of his seat.
    “My mother is the Winter Queen, you lout!” the whelp choked, and Hollie delivered him into the gutter with a kick in the seat of the breeches for the joy of it. The owner of the family nose took a swing at him, which Hollie ducked – he’d been playing this game for too long – kicked the feet out from underneath the silly bugger, and then it suddenly became a most delightful brawl that began in the inn, rolled out into the gutter –
    And ended three hours later in the town jail, which was embarrassing.

“Respectable,” Margriete said grimly, hands on her hips. “This is your being respectable, is it, Holofernes? Assaulting unbreeched boys?”
He did not feel very respectable, the morning after. After a night in the cells he smelt like he’d been rolled in a midden, his shirt was torn at the elbow, he stood in want of a shave and he’d lost the ribbon out of his hair. He rubbed at his bristles and shuffled uncomfortably. The town gaoler looked at them both and grinned. “You not going to kiss your mother, or what?”
    Griete gave him a frosty look. “That is my husband. He is apparently a captain in the Holy Roman Emperor’s Army. I think he has forgotten he is not in the Army presently.”
    “I wasn’t going to let that ruffian –“
    “That ruffian is the Elector Palatine’s son!”
    “Well, he might ha’ said as much, but I didn’t heed him –“
    “You gave the Elector Palatine’s boy a thick ear!”
    “He’s lucky I didn’t take his head off, the snotty little whelk!”
    “Do you have any idea how much it has cost me to keep this from the magistrate?”
    “I’m not having the likes of him in your tavern, groping the girls, insulting you, picking fights wi’ the staff –“
    “You are not the staff, you are my husband!” she snarled, sounding as if she regretted it, presently.      “Can you not – just once – remember that you are married to a respectable woman, and not attempt to continue the bloody war on my premises!”
    “But –“
    “You will be back at it in the spring, can you not even restrain yourself until then?”
    She was angry with him, and that was all right, because he was angry at her, too. “I’m not going to stand there while he talks about you like you’re nowt! You deserve better!”
    “I deserve better than you, you cork-brained – bravo!”
    “Hey! That’s not fair!”
   “What is not fair is being married to a man who is hell-bent on making the reputation of your business into that of a common doss-house! I do not care, Holofernes! Janni does not care! It hurts, briefly, and then we stop caring and we take their money, dear God do you understand nothing at all of how the world is?”
    “You are not a –“
    “Don’t you say that word,” she warned, and he stopped short and glared at her, “Well, you’re bloody not one, and neither is Janni!”
    “I know that. You know that. So long as you continue to not behave like the doorman in a cheap brothel, other people will know that!”
    “He said you had a fat backside,” Hollie muttered mutinously, and Griete raked him with a long, thoughtful look.
    “It wasn’t a compliment.”
   “And?” She glowered at him for another few heartbeats, and then she grabbed the end of his draggled loose hair, wound it round her fist, and yanked him almost off his feet. The gaoler gave a lewd cheer. Both of them ignored him. “I will not always be around to bail you out of trouble,” she said against his mouth. “Your temper will be the death of you, Kersen!”
She still kissed him, though.  “That young fool was twelve years old,” she said, stepping back. “He is the son of the Elector Palatine, and you might have killed him. Which might have been – awkward.”
    “If he means to see thirteen, he’d better learn to keep his gob shut and not go round making threats he can’t deliver on,” Hollie said grimly. “Regardless of who his parents are. He wants a lesson in discipline, that one. A short, sharp one.”
    Her eyes were sparkling. He took a step towards her, and she took a step back. “He’s not the only one, lieveke,” she said. “See you tomorrow.”
    The cell door clanged shut with him on the inside, and Margriete tip-tapping blithely down the sweaty stone corridor in her heeled company-shoes with her skirts swishing. (Back to a hot meal and a change of clothes, he thought, with resignation.) He and the gaoler exchanged a look of mutual disfavour.
    “Reckon she’s left you cooling your heels in here another twenty-four hours, mate,” the man said sagely, and spat into the drain-gutter running the length of the passage. “Bloody women, eh?”
    “Bloody women,” Hollie agreed, and grinned to himself, there in the damp pee-smelling darkness. Hooked his elbows through the bars and stood watching her till she was out of sight. (Aye, admiringly. So he was incorrigible. Banged up in the town jail and he was eyeing up his wife’s backside. And what of it?) “Don’t reckon the world would carry on turning without ‘em, though.”

Prince Rupert
© M J Logue
Author’s note: the precocious son of the Winter Queen and the Elector Palatine is, of course, the gentleman who will go on to be Hollie Babbitt’s nemesis in the British Civil Wars – Prince Rupert. Who was in historical fact a fighting soldier by fifteen. 

Did you guess the song title?
Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
(Official You Tube Video)

M J Logue
MJ Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway. Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife. After periods of various employment she decided to start writing historical fiction about the 17th century. Her first series, covering a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but many readers wanted to know whether lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, and so she started a second series...

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
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There will be another story inspired by a song tomorrow!

The Full List of Authors

2nd   M.J. Logue   First Love 
3rd   Richard Tearle Chips and Ice Cream
4th    Helen Hollick Promises, Promises
5th    Paul Marriner Memories
6th    Pam Webber One Door Closing
7th    Louise Adam Hurt Me Once
8th    Barbara Gaskell Denvil Sticks and Stones
9th    Judith Arnopp Secrets
10th  Erica LainĂ©  Silk Stockings
11th   Anna Belfrage Hold Me, Love Me, Leave Me? 
12th  Annie Whitehead Frozen
13th  Tony Riches Alas, My Love
14th  Clare Flynn, Zipless
15th  J.G. Harlond The Last Assignment
16th  Elizabeth St John Under The Clock
17th  Alison Morton Honoria’s Battle
18th  Jean Gill The Hunter
19th  Patricia Bracewell Daddy's Gift
20th Debbie Young It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
21st   Ruth Downie  Doing It Properly
22nd Nicky Galliers What God Has Joined
23rd  Elizabeth Chadwick The Cloak
24th / 25th  CHRISTMAS BREAK
26th  Helen Hollick Ever After
27th   Barbara Gaskell Denvil Just The One... Or Maybe Two
28th   Deborah Swift Just Another Day
29th   Amy Maroney What The Plague Brings
30th   Cryssa Bazos River Mud

 Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics 
but no copyright in names, titles or ideas

StorySong graphic by @Avalongraphics 
additional images via Pixabay accreditation not required


  1. Love the atmosphere in this tale. Just right for the epoch. Liked and shared on Fb now.

  2. Ah! Hollie in fine form...what better way to start the week? And this just goes to prove my opinions of Rupert are well-founded... ;)

    1. What, smudgy top-lipped serial philanderer with an attitude problem? Surely some mistake...

    2. Thank you Mel for such a fantastic start to what promises to be a fantastic month of stories inspired by songs!

  3. What a brilliant start to a fun month of stories and puzzles. Loved the clue too :) My only reservation is the horrible revelation about the man of my dreams from teenage years on - Rupert of the Rhine!

    1. What IS it with that man and his fatal charms.... give me Black Tom Fairfax any day (and his remarkably fine eyes...)

    2. Could we have both? I'm asking for a friend ;)

    3. Rupert???? Ugh! But he did have quite the flair to him, no matter how much of a Palatinate Terror he was

  4. Fabulous - and what a great start to what I know is going to be a wonderfully entertaining series. Love the characterisation!!

  5. I can't begin to guess the title, but what an excellent story - gripped already!

  6. What a great start to the series!

  7. Setting such a very high standard from the outset!! Well done!!!

  8. Absolutely loved the story! I miss Hollie. I think he's my favourite of all your character. I'll give you a pass on Rupert though...

    1. Oh, H is round and about, still. Even when he's not being a grumpy old beggar in the late 1660s (High on the list people you would not want to leave in charge of your children, and even higher on the list of people you would seriously not want as a father-in-law) we're presently wrestling with the matter of Colchester and the siege thereunto....

  9. Blogger can be a pain and won't always post comments so here's an 'on behalf of' from Amy Maroney:
    "An excellent bit of swashbuckling to start the day! Loved the story. Well done!"
    All my best,

  10. I'm late to the party but still in time to catch your story, M. J. I see Hollie is as incorrigible as ever. *smile*

  11. Vivid. that's the word. And, my goodness, don't you get the relationship straightaway. Thank you for a terrific read.

  12. What a fun story, even though obviously can slot in to Mel's novels, it still was a great stand alone tale. Thank you!

  13. What a great read! So enjoyed it

  14. Well-written, witty, and captivating. I loved it! Thank you!

  15. I loved this - didn't guess the song and it is one of my favourites. I forgot to look for clues though, great story. I might go and pick up your novel now.


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