Juan de Perez- 5th August 1355
‘Alyse, I honestly think Joan would kill you.’
Alyse smiled.’ All I said was that I do find him attractive.’
Juan pushed his lips tight together and shook his head. ‘Keep your voice down, she is only two rooms away, down the corridor, She could walk in anytime.’
He frowned. ‘You know I have been working with Joan on what has become my chronicle. Only two issues, but they sold out and people are asking me about the next issue. It is all Joan’s doing; everything in the chronical is about the wonderful lady the Prince is going to marry and that she is a Gascon… well at least from the south. People do want to read about her.
Alyse smiled again. ‘And they follow that up by coming to see me. They believe I will, as a southerner, have sympathy for them and influence the Prince in their favour.’
‘I hope it is not all going to your head.’
‘I don’t think so, On the contrary, I find it a rather humbling experience. However, I don’t particularly like living a lie.’
Juan reached out to hold his sister’s hand. ‘I know that the reason Joan is promoting you is to distract attention away from her. She is absolutely committed to becoming the next Queen of England. You are allowing yourself to be used by her. The Prince visits you regularly but then slips away down the corridor to see her and no one, especially King Edward is any wiser.
He paused and sighed ‘ Promise me… Please promise me you will not take it any further, or let him take it any further.’
Alyse chuckled. ‘ Relax, I will not do anything stupid. I would not want to alienate Joan, She could be so useful to me; to both of us. Anyway, for the next few days, you will be able to be my chaperone.’
‘ Well, the Prince has invited me on a trip to Royan. A pleasure cruise up the full length of the Gironde Estuary. It is just another example of him showing me off to gain support for his own cause. Depending on winds, the cruise will last about eight hours. He wants you to come with us… Hmmm perhaps it is Joan who wants you to come with us. Anyway, you are coming. In two days time. You will have to be up early, the Prince intends to leave Bordeau at dawn.
It was the first time Juan had been on the waterfront, though in Bordeaux it was not possible to totally ignore it. At close quarters he was less than impressed.
The river suffered from highly variable tides and therefore architecturally quayside was, in Juan’s opinion, a mess. Ramps of different widths descended at varying angles from the upper quay to the water to give access to ships at all states of the tide.
In between the ramps, the riverbanks had been covered with rough stonework but with a wide range of finishes. Every colour of stone; every size, every thickness of stone had been used. Some had probably just been dropped from a boat, as they were too big to handle. Whatever the reason many stones, stuck up at an angle above their neighbouring stones, contributing to the overall impression of total disorder.
Adding to this there were a large number of river barges and fishing boats pulled up on to the paved area and at this morning’s low tide they lay untidily on their sides, emphasising the unevenness of the stones beneath them.
Juan had glanced over his shoulder at the row of impressive houses at the other side of the Quay. There could hardly have been a greater contrast.
The scene acted as a focus for his internal discontent. He was by no means sure he wanted to remain in Bordeaux and yet he was the only person who could give his sister independent support and advice. .
He found the berth of La Fierté du Medoc without any difficulty; he immediately felt better. Even to his untrained eye, the ship was obviously new; long, low, painted pale blue, with the bulwarks picked out in white with black detailing. The sails appeared to be silver rather than white.
The captain helped him climb aboard. ‘Welcome sir, I am sure you will enjoy the cruise and as the winds are favourable, we should leave immediately.’
Juan smiled. His stay in Bordeaux was not without some benefits. It was a long way from being the occasional troubadour, largely unappreciated, in a remote fortress, to being welcomed as a person of substance. Then again if he had not come to Bordeaux he would not have learned that but for the unfortunate timing of his birth, he would have been the rightful king of Castile. He had not yet decided what to do about that!
As the ship moved away from the jumbled Quayside Juan looked around the deck. ‘ The Prince? And my…’ he stopped himself hurriedly. “And the Lady Trencavel?’
The Captain was still mainly concerned with the management of his sails. He answered without turning to face Juan. ‘Both still asleep in cabins under the stern deck. They came aboard last night but as soon as we are underway I have been ordered to wake the Prince.
Juan blinked and then blinked again. After everything he had said, after the warnings he had given her, Alyse had apparently just spent the night with the Prince!