31 A Sudden Shiver

Ximene shivered with excitement and apprehension, a strange experience, as if she shared the feelings with somebody else.

Ximene Trencavel – 18th March 1355

Next morning, Guillam asked Ximene to join Lady Eleanor in her private lounge. Lady Eleanor sat in one of two chairs in front of a roaring fire. Guillam invited Ximene to occupy the other chair and then, rather awkwardly, stood between them with his back to the fire.


Lady Eleanor waved her hand from Ximene to Guillam but said nothing. Neither did Guillam. Ximene looked quizzically from one to the other. Finally, it was Lady Eleanor who broke the silence.

‘There is something we must ask you, Ximene.’ She hesitated, clearly thinking about the best way to frame the question. ‘How many people know about the hunt? Last night we saw you practising in the cavern.’

Ximene blushed. ‘Oh, you saw me with Pipa.’ She gave a slow, knowing nod. ‘Look, we are very close. I suppose we love each other, but I like men too. Dominic was not the best partner for the Transition. Some of the love I didn’t share with him spills over now and again. Don’t take it too seriously.’

Eleanor smiled and waved her hand in the air. ‘That’s not what the question is about, Ximene. Our faith teaches us that no sexual pleasure is sinful. If, in fact, you were to find no sexual attraction in your marriage to the Prince, a relationship with a woman would be fortuitous: it would be unlikely to attract much attention. No, why we have asked you to talk, what we really want to know is …’


Guillam blinked and bent forward, putting a gentle hand on Eleanor’s shoulder as he did so. ‘Eleanor, I love you deeply, but what you have just said must be, for Ximene, extremely confusing. We have spent day after day speculating on how to help Ximene escape to independence and the first thing you say takes us right back to an assumption that she will inevitably marry the Prince. You must push that from your mind if we are to make plans for Ximene to flee.’

‘Sorry, sorry, it just … popped out.’ Lady Eleanor’s face fell. ‘Yes, I think that is best that I push it from my mind. I am only concerned about Ximene’s welfare, and I can’t help feeling that ​marriage to the Prince would be the preferable solution.’

Guillam walked to the centre of the room and turned to face Ximene. ‘The reason we have asked you here this morning is partly to confirm our joint agreement on what should be done, but more particularly to talk about security. Last night we could not help but notice that you have already been practising for the hunt. We must know how many people know about the hunt.’

‘Oh that. Everybody knows about the hunt, Gaston never stops talking about it! Gaston thought I escaped to avoid the boredom of being confined to the Château, which, in part, was true. He told me about the hunt because he thinks it will alleviate my boredom.’

‘Has he told anyone else that the hunt will be at Muret?’

‘I don’t know, but I don’t think Gaston is making a secret of it, not here within the Château anyway.’

Guillam stroked his chin.

‘And meeting the Prince during the hunt?’

‘He must have talked about it. Pipa knows, and I didn’t tell her.’

Guillam groaned. ‘Many people know about the hunt, others know it will be at Murat and some of those people know that you will be meeting the Prince.’

He turned away to gaze into the fire. When he turned once again to face Ximene, his face suddenly brightened. ‘I do not think that matters, it might even work in our favour. In fact, I think you should make a big effort to be enthusiastic about meeting the Prince. What we must keep a very close secret is that you intend to escape.’

Ximene lowered her eyes.’Of course, Guillam. I will tell no-one.’


Two days later, in the early evening, Ximene lowered her head as Guillam planted a passionate kiss on Eleanor’s lips. ‘We must delay no longer. You should go to Clermont immediately. Make it clear to Gaston that he is entirely responsible for Ximene’s safety during the hunt. He will take that seriously, but once the hunting starts, he will be distracted. Ximene will then be left to her own devices. We will return just before the arrival of the Prince.’

Guillam turned and left with a flourish. He descended via the lower spiral staircase to the south-eastern gate, pulled on a waterproof cape and waited as his horse was extracted from the stables.

Eleanor called Ximene to the window to watch him go. As horse and rider descended the ramp, a curtain of rain obscured the view, followed by a peal of thunder directly overhead.


Ximene shivered with excitement and apprehension, a strange experience, as if she shared the feelings with somebody else. The feelings were so strong that she looked over her shoulder, but there was no-one in the room but Lady Eleanor.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents

References

characters

List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History

home

Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355

 

'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.