78 — An Unnecessary Risk

Ximene Trencavel 24 October 1355

Don Fernandino asked Ximene to join him in the stables.
‘I am going to send Theirry back to Port Vendres.’

‘To do what?’

‘Nothing really, present my apologies and cancel all arrangements. If we do go on to Sicily I don’t want to use ‘Les Étoiles’ and therefore he could present a difficulty’


‘Oh! but do you trust him? If he leaves here he could tell people where we are.’
‘I do trust him, but I agree there is a  potential risk so we are going to move.’
‘To where?’
‘I have hired a hunting lodge in Couisa. As far as the owners, the Comtes de Plaisance, are concerned a famous troubadour, the Shadow, is going to holiday there to write new material. He will be accompanied by two dancers. An older man and two women are not the profile anyone searching for you would expect.
‘But I don’t dance, at least not very well.’
Don Fernandino chuckled. ‘If we are there long enough we might give you some lessons, don’t worry you will not have to dance in public! They will probably think you are my mistresses.’
Ximene smiled and nodded.
‘How will John find us there?’
‘He already knows. I told him before he left.’
Ximene’s eyes danced. Yet another little adventure. She wondered if Don Fernandino could really teach her to dance?
‘And when do we move.’
‘The day after tomorrow. Oh! And just to be safe don’t tell Thierry where we are going’
‘Quite.’
Thus Ximene and Phillipa were left on their own with Don Fernandino preparing for the move. There wasn’t much to pack but it was amazing how long it took.
Ximene thought about John and the circumstances of his departure. ‘You know Phillipa, I really do miss John.’
Phillipa tilted her head and looked sideways at Ximene.
‘Do you think I don’t know that.’
Ximene became defensive.
‘ He had to go otherwise it might have been too late to get the Prince’s help with the treasure.’
She paused but failed to keep her sorrow out of her voice
‘I told him I thought I would have to marry the Prince, and he took it badly’
Pipa winced. ‘He was clearly upset when he saw us together’
Ximene sighed. ‘Yes, I was surprised by that, I thought he had told me that he was quite fond of you! She shook her head and then shook it again. ‘I think I will go for a walk, I need time to myself.’
Phillipa nodded.
Ximene had been at Château Mazerou so long now that she felt completely safe. Over the previous week, she had taken to walking in the hills, following the same paths and visiting the same places she had visited with John. Often she walked alone to avoid the distraction of a need to talk to either Phillipa or Don Fernandino. In this way, she felt closer to John.
On these walks, she never saw another human being. She was always circumspect about leaving and entering the stables and this day, as always, advanced cautiously through the trees on the river bank. Suddenly she heard a voice. ‘Lady Ximene Trencavel’?

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.’