6 — 22nd June — Arab Medicine

Ximene Trencavel-22 June 1355

Don Fernandino smiled. ‘Ximene, I know the physician will come soon, he will not let us down. Ximene instinctively saw past the smile. There was a hardness about him which the superficial image of the Shadow was intended to hide. He expected to be obeyed.

Ximene wondered if that expectation extended to his relationship with her. However, it was impossible not to be impressed.

He waved his hand towards a table and moved out a chair indicating that she should sit. He changed his tone of voice. It became a silky whisper. ‘Whilst we are waiting… for the physician, you must bring me up to date on everything which has happened to you. I know of course about the plan for you to escape during the hunt at Muret as before I was kidnapped, I was a party to that plan, but afterwards?’

It was only a question, but Ximene felt she was being serenaded, gently seduced. She glanced upwards at a ceiling, lit by the flickering lights from the flares. She was trying to summarise what had happened as quickly as possible. ‘The escape plan went badly wrong, not just because you were kidnapped but because there was an attempt to kidnap or perhaps murder me during the hunt.’

Don Fernandino nodded. ‘ I know that too, because Thierry d’Arques and Guillam told me about it when they returned to Perpignan to rescue me . And after that?

The Comte de Foix, my uncle and guardian, then insisted that I return to the chateau, supposedly to keep me safe, but it did not work out that way. An assassin gained entry to the Chateau and this time there was no doubt, he intended to kill me.’

‘Oh!, I knew it was intended to kill you but I did not know how… or where .’

‘If it had not been for Guillam’s warning and John’s intervention I would probably be dead.’

Guillam came and sat down alongside Ximene. ‘Don Fernandino, you need to know you are dealing with a quite remarkable lady. It was Ximene who killed the assassin.’

Ximene frowned.’ But only after John had distracted him and fought with him for several minutes.’

Guillam smiled. ‘She also killed one of Du Guesclin’s men who attacked me after the battle of Monsegur. I probably owe my life to her swift action.’

Don Fernando’s eyes widened ‘Really? I will have to be careful not to get on the wrong side of this young lady.’ He narrowed his eyes. ‘Du Guesclin?’

Guillam nodded, ‘Yes, a shadowy figure who was involved in the battle of Monsegur. I only know about him because of what John told us.’

The conversation was terminated by the arrival of the physician. He spent fifteen minutes examining John, including making an internal examination of the wound. He removed the leaches but proclaimed they had done a good job. He then applied a salve to the wound, which he said would promote healing and prevent infection. He stitched the wound using a gut thread. He then attempted to give John a potion he had made up but had no success in getting him to drink. In the end, he simply poured it down John’s throat nearly choking him in the process.

‘Some will have got through!’ he said.

‘I will leave this here’ he said indicating the remaining portion.
‘I will return in the morning. If at any point he should wake up, the first thing you should do is get him to drink this.’

He looked at Ximene, and Guillam in turn. ‘My name is Estevan del Muria. I am of Moorish descent. Everything I am doing here is based on Arab medicine which I learned whilst studying at Montpellier. As a child, I was always had interested in mathematics and science but I have chosen medicine as a career as it gave me better prospects of earning a living. please follow my instructions if you want this young man to make a good recovery.

Ximene had been watching Estevan carefully. She thought he looked knowledgeable, skilful. ‘Can you save his life?’

Estevan returned Ximenes steady gaze and then turned to look at John.

‘You know in these circumstances life may hang momentarily by a thread, sometimes the difference between life and death is the will to live. He has a very good chance. He may be very fortunate, I think that if he does recover he will walk again. The sooner we can get him on his feet, the better will be his chance of walking without a limp.

He bent down to pick up his bags when they were all surprised to hear John’s voice.

‘Ximene’ was the first word he uttered. She ran to his side. His eyes opened, albeit briefly. On seeing her face he forced a smile.

‘Have no doubt’ he said ‘I have the will to live!’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel