101 — The Ceremony

 

There was a pause in proceedings whilst the performers left the room. Joan sought out John. She smiled broadly.
“Did you learn anything?”
He could do nothing but return the smile.
“Yes I did”
Joan could see from the look in his eyes that they were not thinking along the same lines!
She laughed again.
“Much of what they showed you was as a result of my own tuition, not Lady Eleanors. Just think of it as the completion of what I was teaching you when you visited me here six weeks ago and what I thought inappropriate to demonstrate to you personally!
The eyelashes again.

John could hardly believe what he was hearing but now he thought about it he had made eye contact on several occasions throughout the performance.

Joan nodded.
‘ So much so that I now believe that my plans to bring her closer to William are at least in the short term unlikely to succeed.
The performers returned. They had not dressed again but were enveloped in thick gowns. There was a buzz of conversation as they were welcomed back and congratulated on their performances. After a few minutes Joan cut off the conversation.
“Thus we can see how a woman’s charms can be used to change history. Of course those who know the Cathar version of this story realise that this was not the first time Caesar and Cleopatra had met. Caesar had made a suit much earlier, which Cleopatra had accepted but events had separated them. What we have just witnessed is their happy reunion.’
The main reason we are gathered here this evening is to celebrate another reunion between Selene, Comptess de Langdon and her long time admirer John de Stanley. Tonight in front of you all John wishes formally to present his suit to the Countess.
Ximene rose to her feet and made slight adjustments to her costume. As she did so the “feathers” underneath her cloak shone brilliantly. The illusion of the eagle was reinforced. John rose nervously. He must assure the Comptess of his love. Lady Eleanor had taught him to pick a feature he admired and to express that admiration in carefully chosen words. He could now see no womanly features. He would be praising an Eagle!
At Joan’s gentle suggestion he moved to the area where the performance had been staged. He tried hard to get the tone of his voice correct from the very first line. He did not entirely succeed, but the words were clear enough.

Selene, my love, I have been taught,
How to express my deepest thought.
To find in you the features I admire,
To praise those features, in words of fire.
It is, I think, well understood,
That by doing this, I may stir your blood.
But between us now there is deeper feeling,
It started when you helped my healing.
You have shared with me adventure and love,
I have learned that we fit like a hand in a glove.
I love your body and love your beauty
To be close to you is much more than duty
It is your inner soul that I love most,
And life we have shared makes me want to boast.
I love you Comptess, yes it is true,
It now affects everything I do.
For tonight you appear regaled as an eagle
You stand before me, oh so regal,
I am humbled so I hardly dare,
To reveal to you how much I care
But I am determined to make my play,
I beg you accept me without delay.
Your devoted servant I wish to be,
I seek no return, save your love for me.

John noticed that juan Perez was scribbling away. John had put effort into getting the right words but surely it had not been good enough to interest a professional jongleuse!
Because of the mask it was impossible to see the Comptess’ reaction. There was a moment of tension, which could be felt in the whole room before she moved. She advanced to meet John and gave him a passionate kiss on the mouth. The feeling was electric. John put his hands to the back of her neck and returned the kiss . Their lips were pressed together for a long time. Then the Comptess spoke
“In front of these witnesses I give you my favour. I place no conditions on its use.”
She reached down and lifted up his right hand. She produced a gold ring from a small pocket in her bodice and pushed it gently onto the third finger of his right hand. The ring had a small pentacle crafted into the band. She kissed him again.
Joan looked on with great delight. She paused long enough to savour the moment before gently and quietly ushering everyone out of the room.
When John and the Comptess next looked around, the room was empty save for themselves. Curtains had been pulled back on the far side of the room from the tables revealing a large bedroom alcove in which a large low bed was totally surrounded by candles. John was again struck that the overall feel was of a temple with the bed now taking the place of the high altar.
The Comptess sat John on the end of the bed and started pulling off one of her gloves.
“ I did not get much sleep last night. Joan wanted to teach me everything she knows! I think you will find that I can now play Cleopatra much better than”

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.’