41 Surveillance

Bertrand du Guesclin-14th May 1355

Across the street from the Prince’s house in La Réole, Bertrand du Guesclin yawned noisily. He rolled over and surveyed his surroundings; the dirty bedroom and unmade bed of a tawdry inn. He glanced at the primitive sideboard complete with a pink earthenware jug and bowl, both chipped and matching the chamber pot under his bed.

He knew that the jug and bowl would not be used. Here, no one expected him to wash or comb his hair.

During his journey south he had spent some time in the border areas and had decided that the remit he had been given by Jacques de Bourbon was like a licence to print money. He had made contact with several companies of routiers and decided that what he was looking for was a band who were relatively poorly organised on whom he could impose his will. Once he had proved how effective his leadership could be, he could then extend his influence on better-organised companies, possibly by exterminating their current leadership.

In the meantime, there was a relatively boring task of finding and killing a teenage girl. There would be a substantial pay packet and who knew what fiendish delights could occur during the final coup de grace, but right now it was the most boring task he had ever undertaken.

Once he had discovered that Joan was headed for Bordeaux he had known where she could be found. From the time had been driven away from her by William Montacute, he had researched her movements. Given the right inducement, people were always prepared to talk. He knew about the ships Joan used and the location of the Prince’s houses at La Réole and the Château Levison.

He had spent two days watching the two houses. It did not take long to discover that there was no-one in residence at the Château. On his return to La Réole, he had advice from the local butcher that the only occupant of the townhouse was une jolie fille. Du Guesclin was not sure that at the age of twenty-seven, Joan still qualified as a fille but he knew it would be her.

He discovered that although the house was not fortified, it was well-guarded. He made no attempt to test out the security.

At the end of the first day, he caught a glimpse of Joan in the courtyard. Any desire to thrust himself upon Joan was dismissed out of hand; for now, his interest lay in finding the Prince.

Having seen Joan, he was confident that he would find the Prince here, but as the days passed and became a week he felt a twinge of anxiety; his whole plan depended on following the Prince to his ultimate destination.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he recognised the Prince arriving on foot at the gate. He marvelled that a man of his status should travel unaccompanied. Someday he would make him pay for that careless attitude, but for now, he was content. He fell asleep.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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