17 –9th July — Not Available — Copy

20th July — Chapter three of Thread E — Meanwhile in Bordeaux

Joan of Kent makes it clear that despite everyone thinking that Alyse is the future Queen of England and her spending a lot of time in the company of the Prince, in the real world the Prince is not available. Joan queries Alyse’s parentage

Joan of Kent – 8th July 1355

Alyse Perez de Padilla sat on the balcony off Joan of Kent’s private rooms. The balcony was a private space in the middle of a Metropolis. The waterfront itself was crowded and noisy. Merchants, stevedores and port controllers were at the centre of an unceasing movement which was augmented by couples and larger groups moving in both directions; the start of the early evening promenade.

 

Beyond the waterfront, the river was another hive of activity. Ships turned into the wind and then dropped their sails to glide effortlessly parallel to the quay, to be met by a barrage of lines thrown and pulled tight to moor each individual vessel tight alongside the quay.

Then again, beyond the river, was the soft green and grey landscape of Entre Deux Mers, the prime wine growing area.

Alyse settled comfortably into the chair, upholstered in white and fitted with silver cushions. She gazed around her. ‘This balcony is much bigger than mine.’ She looked around again. ‘Other than that the room is virtually identical to mine but the use of red and gold walls contrasting with the white and silver on the furniture makes it look bigger, more impressive.’

Joan smiled. ‘I am glad you like it. The colour scheme was inspired by the palace of the Comte de Foix at Pau. Would you like your own rooms redecorated to match?’

‘Thank you, but no. I have already grown to like my rooms and in any case, I think I am already treated very generously.’

Joan frowned. ‘What you have just said causes me some concern perhaps we have not paid enough attention to the decorating and furnishing of your rooms.’

‘No honestly I am more than happy…’

Joan reached out and held Alyse’s hand. ‘Hear me out Alyse. Everyone in Bordeaux believes you are Ximene Trencavel, Lady of the Sun Duchess of Occitan and the future Queen of England and the most beautiful lady alive…’ Joan stopped abruptly, fluttered her eyelashes and continued more slowly ‘With of course one or two outstanding exceptions.’

Joan decided to digress, ‘I must say that although it is over a year since I met Ximene, the likeness is amazing. You could be identical twins.’ Joan shrugged her shoulders. ‘For most people here in Bordeaux the likeness is unimportant. They have never met Ximene. If we tell them you are Ximene Trencavel then you are Ximene Trencavel.’

Alyse gently moved her hand, so that she now held Joan’s hand. ‘And?

As we are publishing Ximene’s presence here as widely as we can, there will inevitably be representatives of the king of the Franks or one of his sons, or indeed other interested parties, who will visit Bordeaux to check whether our publicity is well founded. Just possibly they will have met Ximene previously’

Joan watched Alise for any reaction. There was none she could see but Alyse’s grip on her hand tightened. ‘If they visit you and your rooms are not as…impressive as they expect, they might question your identity and we would not want that to happen.’

So, my Lady of the Sun, You are in a strong position you may ask for anything you want and ways will probably be found to meet your requests. So tell me, other than the decoration of your rooms and we will do something aboutthat , do you like Bordeaux ?’

Alyse’s response was enthusiastic and accompanied with a broad warm smile. ‘Of course. I love it, every bit of it. The city, The architecture, the river, the bustle of activity, the society. It is exactly what I had hoped for.’

‘Good and I intend to help you enjoy it, But first, A question. do you find the Prince attractive?

Alyse raised her eyebrows, raised her hand to smooth her hair, flickered her eyelids, straightened her body in the chair and smiled, but did not answer the question.

Joan raised her own eyebrows. ‘ It was, of course, a question you could not answer.’

Joan allowed her eyes to widen to their fullest extent. ‘If you had said no, I would not have believed you, as the Prince is the most attractive man alive. On the other hand if you had said yes, it would have driven a wedge between us, an open challenge for the affection of the love of my life. However, your silence, plus your use of your undoubted physical attractions when faced with a difficult question, gives me if anything even greater concern. You are not only beautiful but smart and probably ambitious.

So… some ground rules. You are believed to be the Prince’s future wife, You will be expected to be continually in his company. There will be, my darling, dinners, fetes and tournaments and the Prince is… only human. You are a very attractive woman and he may prove to be overly attentive. But I would like you to know, he is not available.

Joan saw a look of concern flash across Alyse’s face

‘And if I really was Ximene?’

‘Same statement except perhaps I would have needed to put it in more diplomatic terms.’

‘So you plan to marry the Prince yourself.’

‘I do.’

‘Does Ximene know that.’

‘I believe she does and I believe that would not disappoint her too much.

“Then I will do nothing to stand in your way but I too have a concern. What happens to me when I no longer have to perform the role of pretending to be Ximene? Perhaps I enjoy it too much but when the negotiation between the Prince and Ximene are complete? Whatever the outcome I won’t just evaporate!

You are from Castile aren’t you? would you like to go home?

Perhaps, except I am far from sure where my home is, who my parents are. My mother, I am told, is from the Padilla family, a much younger sister to Lady Eleanor and from my name, one would assume that my father’s name is Pedro.

Lady Eleanor took me to Castile in 1351 just after the death of King Alphonso. There we met the new king Pedro and his mistress Maria, who is a much younger sister of lady Eleanor. They were very nice to me. In fact, I spent a long time in their company. They treated me as if I was their daughter.’

Joan narrowed her eye’s. ‘Do you think you might be the daughter of King Pedro?’

‘I met no one else who fitted. I have asked Lady Eleanor about it but she has never answered the question.’

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

Reference

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.’