Alyse Perez-10th June 1355
When Alyse opened the door to Lady Eleanor’s lounge, she was delighted to find she attracted no comment. Thank you, Alyse,’ said Lady Eleanor, ripping off a chunk of bread. ‘Get yourself a drink, did they say how long our meal would be?’
Alyse sighed with relief. ‘I think they are bringing it now,’ she said “Sorry John, I interrupted you.’
Pipa was busy helping John get into his new outfit. Pipa was chattering, laughing, pulling and smoothing, in turn, advising how the clothes were meant to be worn. The three tailors stood in a huddle occasionally making a comment, but Pipa seemed to have taken control of the whole process.
John complained that both shirt and jacket stopped above his hose, leaving him feeling exposed. ‘I feel like a troubadour!’
Piers was isolated from all this activity in the far corner of the room assisted by a single tailor. He held out his hands in supplication, Alyse laughed but offered no help.
Despite the distractions, John was in the middle of a story about his nights guarding the sheep back at home and the night he had been attacked by wolves.
Alyse was immediately interested. ’How did they find you?’
John peered curiously at her.
“I thought I explained that before you left. Never mind.’
‘Didn’t the fire keep them at bay?’ she shook her head, ‘How did you find the lairs.’
In the end, John was forced to tell the story again from the beginning.
The meal arrived, carried by kitchen hands and supervised by the kitchen staff.
The tailors were asked to leave, which they did, complaining that their task was incomplete.
During the meal, Piers told stories about his schooling, and inevitably about Greek and Egyptian legends. Then John and Piers, together, told the story of the shipwreck at Arcachon. They talked over each other, as they told the story from two different points of view; John on his ship, Piers on the beach.
When they had finished eating. Pipa moved around the table and squeezed herself on to John’s lap.
Piers then stood up and positioned himself behind Alyse, gently caressing her shoulders and the upper part of her arms. She instinctively stiffened but then remembered what must have been happening in her absence and forced herself to relax.
Lady Eleanor raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
The conversation reverted to Clermont and how Pipa had met John and the details of the archery tournament from both John and Pipa’s point of view.
Then at Eleanor’s request, John retold the whole story of the events at Moissac, starting with the severed hand and the brutality of du Guesclin.
Lady Eleanor suddenly broke in ‘What on earth is happening upstairs, it is getting very late, what can be keeping Ximene?’