10 Through the Barrier

Ximene Trencavel – 30 June 1355

Over the days which followed, Ximene became aware that John would survive. He spent more time awake and when awake showed interest in his surroundings.

Despite this knowledge, which meant that her primary objective of saving John’s life had been achieved, Ximene continued to sleep with John. It was no longer to provide warmth, it was because it gave her pleasure. Perhaps, more accurately, it was a proprietary form of love. She justified her actions by the fact that she believed he was in too much pain to be aware of, or concerned with her presence.

She talked to Estevan regularly about John’s condition. Soon he was sharing with Ximene much of his knowledge.

‘I think we both now know that John will survive, the task now is to make it possible for him to walk and, if we handle it well, to walk without a limp. You will play an important part in that process.’

As soon as John was able to sit up, Estavan asked that he leave the bed and walk around the room with the aid of crutches. To Ximene it seemed so cruel. Estevan insisted that John put some weight on the damaged leg even though it clearly caused him much pain. Initially, Ximene was pleased when Estevan departed and John got a chance to rest.

During Estavan’s absence, she concentrated on keeping John comfortable and clean. She took almost obsessive delight in changing his dressings and washing his body. She talked to him mainly about his health and his progress to full recovery.


John showed more signs of recovery. Suddenly he was far more conscious of her presence in his bed. One night he stretched out his arms to pull her into him.

Ximene was both surprised and disturbed. She believed she really should stop sleeping with John now. Even her Grandmother and Guillam normally slept in separate beds. Her Grandmother had told her that it reinforced the concept that sexual activity should always be at the female’s invitation. For Ximene this was now a problem. She really enjoyed the intimacy of sleeping together, consoling herself that John was never demanding. She believed she was always in control but knew that all too often she encouraged his advances by snuggling close to his body.

She felt it compromised her teaching. It could possibly lead John into bad habits. If she allowed it to continue John would soon expect her presence. She vowed she would stop sleeping with him soon. She really would!


By the end of the second week, the Estevan was encouraging John to walk all the way down the tunnel. Suddenly Ximene realized that the physician’s apparently brutal regime was producing results. She changed her attitude and she then also started to bully John to do more and more every day. She became hardened to the pain he was obviously suffering. In her mind that became irrelevant compared with the progress, he was making. By the end of the third week, John could take all of his weight on his damaged leg and also move it as part of a normal walking motion, though still supported by crutches.

Estevan did not hesitate to initiate a more demanding regime. He got John to stand by a table and steady himself with his left hand. He then demanded that he took his weight on his good left leg and swing his injured right leg in all four directions as far as he was able. Initially, John was limited in what he was able to achieve.

Slowly, under pressure, he was able to swing the injured leg in every direction. It was then and only then that Estevan declared that he should be able to walk and probably run without impediment.

‘Push him hard’ he told Ximene. ‘The harder he works the more complete will be his recovery.’

Ximene winced. ‘ My concern is that he does all this because we tell him to do it. Not because he wants to do it. There are times when he does not seem to know where he is or what has happened to him. ‘

Estevan grasped Ximene’s hand. ‘ Have courage, he will eventually pull out of that, it is a side effect of the potion I am giving him, but the potion is necessary to deaden the pain. Even so, there will be times when it becomes too much for him, push him hard.’

Ximene complied!

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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.’