13 The Society Original

Joan encouraged her. She always used the name by which Ximene was known in society

“Diana we must find William and ensure he is well. In any case this sounds like fun. I would come with you but I would be too easily recognised.

Now Ximene found herself sitting in front of an anonymous couple in a coaching house in Salisbury. She was far from sure she wanted to be there. A letter had arrived a week previously from the “Master of Merriment” which gave her the venue and the time to attend. She has sat in the lounge of the coaching house for over an hour before she was approached by a man who had been there all the time. He told her the room number where she had found this odd incredibly sober looking couple. Not much of the “Master of Merriment” here decided Ximene.

“By which name would you like to be known in our society”

the woman asked politely. 

“Eagle” replied Ximene and immediately regretted it. It was her code name which she used for more serious purposes.

The man then spoke.

“Well Eagle the first thing you ought to know is that the entrance fee is twenty pounds”

Ximene hid her incredulity. It was a fortune, more than many people’s inheritance. 

“The fee is to guard against those who wish only to make money out of being members of our organisation. We hold gambling games where men cannot win and women cannot loose”

The woman cut in

“Money that is” she said meaningfully.

Ximene  wondered how the expenditure of such a sum could be justified.  In her mind reviwed how hard she had worked the previous year. 

In the spring of 1357 she had opened a ship building facility in Palermo, Scicily She had spent the summer travelling the Mediterranean coast of France, consolidating her presence in the ports to which she need to have access to fulfil her full range of trading ambitions. On the advice of her security advisor, Don Fernandino Perez, under the name of Rosalie Carpontier she had set up a series of bordello’s along the coast from Marseilles to Narbonne. Don Fernandino had pointed out that a bordello was the ideal cover for whatever they might want to do in the future. The frequent movement of men and women in and out of a bordello would attract no surprise and therefore little attention. 

The abilty to move people freely and in secret was essential to her real aim, which was to build communities which could enjoy freedom to follow the religion of their choice without interference from the Church of Rome.

Ximene was initially unhappy with the concept of women selling their bodies but found a formula which satisfied her.  The clients had to effectively join a club and mix socially with the women. It was the women who decided who they would choose as a partner and this condition was known and accepted by the men before they were allowed to attend the preliminary social functions. In any case it amused Ximene that nearly all of her hostesses and clients were adherents to the Church of Rome who supposedly frowned on such goings on.  Ximene built on this by running sexual behaviour classes for young men to teach them how to approach women considerately and how to give them pleasure 

Then it was Don Fernando’s turn to be concerned. He felt that this latter service would identify Cathar influence in the lessons.  It obviously worked reasonably well as several of Ximene’s hostesses had left her employ to marry their clients within the first months of operation.   Ximene was surprised but pleased that mothers and wives started bringing young men for training!  

She looked again at the sober couple in front of her. She decided that they were what was holding her back. She decided to accept. Whilst she had been reviewing her years work she had decided she would go through with this. She was missing a little excitement in her life and it would bring her into contact with the elusive William Montacte!

“It is not so simple” said the lady,

“Firstly you have to pass an aptitude test. We do not want to mislead anyone. You may not like what we ask you to do or we may not think that you enjoy what we do.  Either way it would be better to end it now. We have booked a room for you upstairs. I trust you realised that you would be staying the night? 

Ximene nodded. The l took her along the corridor to a large cheery room with a very large bed and a roaring fire. In front of the fire was a large table set for an evening meal.

The room was very warm and Ximene quickly removed her outer cloak. She was then left to her own devices for a lengthy period, just long enough for her to feel the first pangs of boredom. 

The door opened and a very attractive young serving maid entered the room. 

She spoke softly.

“Please sit by the fire madame,  I am here to make you stay as pleasant as possible”.

Would you like a drink of wine, beer on perhaps brandy or armagnac?

Ximene asked for a glass of claret. It was served in a very large glass.

After such a long period with no company Ximene was anxious to talk. But at that point the serving maid was joined by two other serving maids. There seemed to be no clear role for the other two serving maids to perform. Other than occasionally asking Ximene did she want another drink the maids chattered amongst themselves. Ximene felt excluded and eventually rose from the chair to join in the conversation. The girls talked about boys they knew, boys they liked , clothes, music and lovemaking. Ximene felt very much at home and soon was talking as animatedly as any of the others but being careful not to be too specific about her own experiences.  The girl who had first entered the room suddenly laughed delightedly. 

“Madame you have passed our first test with flying colours we find your conversation and wit delightful.”

 Kisses were exchanged all round and Ximene found herself delighted to have found such attractive vivacious friends.  Their names were Roxanne, Rosemary and Claret. Claret was the name of the first girl Ximene had met. Not their real names Ximene realised but their adopted names to be used inside the society. Ximene wondered who they really were, certainly not serving maids! Not at an entry fee of Twenty Pounds. They all sat round the table and had several more drinks. The conversation was verging on the bawdy.  four young men entered the room bringing with them trolleys loaded up with food.  They too were dressed as servants.

The animated conversation continue whilst Ximene and the girls ate a magnificent meal. There was no contact with the men whatsoever, they simply waited on table.

More wine was drunk. Eventually they reached the end of the meal and the other girls tackled the armagnac with enthusiasm.

Claret now introduced a new topic

“These young men have all been very naughty. To wait on us this evening is their punishment. However they also know that thier punishment includes that they must do anything this evening which we tell them to do. How do you think we should punish them Eagle? “

Ximene realised that this was all in fun and that the young men must have agreed to take part in the charade but she could not forget the time in the past where she had both proscribed and received corporal punishment.

“Tell me how they transgressed, without that knowledge I cannot make a judgement!

They cheated on a game, where the rules were quite specific. In the game everone in the room had a number. The men chose a women’s number and the women chose a man’s number whoever was selected had to sit on their partners knees and allow them to kiss and caress them. Somehow they knew the numbers , the numbers they called out were not the numbers they had drawn. Ximene nodded and smiled clearly they had been given the numbers by the girls for whom they already had an affection.  She had played similar game herself as part of her sexual training with the outcome far more intimate contact than these girls were indicating. 

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


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.