32 — Out of Time

Bertrand du Guesclin – 1st August 1355

In Rennes le Bains,  du Guesclin decided he must let people know what he was really looking for. He extended his presentation.

‘Because I am in this area I have been asked to find an English agent who has escaped from custody. Despite his youthful appearance he is ruthless and dangerous. However it is probable that he has been badly injured in the escape attempt. He is accompanied by a young girl, who has a southern accent and is fluent in langue d’oc, the language of Occitan. Have you seen anyone in the medical facility or indeed in the village who might fit this profile.’

Even when he extended his enquiries to the medical staff there were still no positive responses.

There were responses of a different nature however. For the very first time in his life one of the ladies who was receiving treatment offered herself to Du Guesclin without the need for any coercion. He was amazed to find that he treated her with consideration and gentleness.

The following morning he shook his head, thinking he must be going soft, he could have done anything to her; indulged his most bizarre fantasies, but because she came so willingly he could not do it.

He continued to enjoy his role as a minor celebrity. However on his trips into the village he noticed that the routiers had become introspected. They had associated with a particular group of gypsies and had ceased circulating, ceased asking the wider populace for information.

He pulled Gerade to one side. ‘You must keep talking, keep asking. Just because they didn’t see anything yesterday doesn’t mean that they will see nothing tomorrow.’

Gerade lifted his head and stroked his neck.‘Yes but the festival is over they are all leaving and most of them are heading for the warmer weather in Aragon’

‘One more time, Gerade, one more time.’

Du Guesclin returned to the spa and received a most unexpected reward for his perseverance. A thin but elegant man who Du Guesclin had talked to several times before now introduced himself as Lambert de Limoux. ‘My great grandfather was one of the crusaders who crushed the heretics in Occitan. He was made Seigneur of Limoux, a town just to the north of here. We have lost our title but we are still significant landowners in Limoux and the surrounding countryside. I am apprehensive about this English invasion. Can you visit us on your journey west from Beziers and help strengthen the defences around Limoux?’

Du Guesclin smiled. Another one offering himself willingly. The lady had represented his considerate phase, That was now over.  He promised himself he would take Lambert for all he had got. ‘I will be delighted to visit you whilst making my preparations. Limoux is not on the main route through the Val du Midi and we could hide a large force there to emerge and attack the Prince from the rear should he get past Carcassonne.’

Du Guesclin sighed. It was a reward for his efforts but not the reward he was looking for. He had run out of time. He determined that the next day he must leave for Beziers to commence preparations to resist ‘La Prince Noir’and make his fortune at the same time.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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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.’