98 The Performance

Welcome Agnes. I am really sorry you have found it so difficult to contact the Prince. The couriers have been busy. It took longer for him to get back from Carcassonne than we expected. He ended up short of time to get a ship to  England for Christmas.

Anyway rather than leave you feeling ignored in Bordeaux, the Prince suggested you come here to this Château we have borrowed from the Comte d’Armagnac and spend some time with me. I really enjoy being here.

‘So, can you tell me, what can the Prince do for you. You never know I might be able to help. Gaston was here not long ago and  the Prince thought we might bring him back here to join you. However I have done nothing about that. I though you might be pleased to have some time to yourself.

‘You made the correct decision Joan.” Agnes told Joan about the dowry and the task she had been given by Gaston.

Joan reached out and touched her hand. ‘So did you see your brother in Pamplona?’

‘No I didn’t he is in Normandy. I have sent a message to Gascon informing him, but if he was here then the message might  have missed him. I am more than happy to spend some time here.

Joan moved her grip on Agnes’ hand and squeezed it tightly. ‘Tell me Agnes, are you happy with Gaston.’

‘I think you know that I am not. It is just such hard work. When I was at Foix I thought just for a moment there was a chance, but I was fooling myself.’

What happened?

He gets obsessed with other things. He just can’t relax long enough to enjoy my company.

‘I have heard from her grandmother that one of his obsessions might have been Ximene Trencavel.’

‘Quite possibly. Is she intereted? If you get the chance, warn her off. It would be no different with her than it has been with me.’

‘Tell me more.’

‘In many ways he is brilliant. Great vision, an almost endless stream of ideas, but almost all compromised by the fact that he is totally self centred.’

‘And you are not compromised in this judgement by your own self interests?’

‘No. When I was at Foix, I can remember giving Ximene a lecture that both love and to a certain extent sexual activity is actually just a special, inspired form of giving. Giving love strengthens your body and pleases the spirit in that body.and that arranged marriages give a special opportunity to practice that giving.’

‘So what made you change your mind?’

‘I am trapped between two men. My brother Charles is almost the same; brilliant but obsessive, selfish, inconsiderate.’

‘And they are now working together to carve up the Frankish kingdom?’

‘Joan, where did you get that idea from? Yes it is possible but whether they can accomodate each others ambitions is another issue.  Why are you asking these questions?’

‘Because I have a surprise for you.’

Joan guided Agnes down a series of corridors which led to a small lounge heated by a huge fireplace. There were two luxurious couches situated one either side of the fire and on the couch facing the door to the lounge was seated Guillame de Marchaut.

Agnes ran from the door and threw herself on top of Guillame. She rained kisses on him before turning to look at Joan. ‘ What? How? Why?’

Well I may be accused of being too optimistic but I have decided that Guillame would be the ideal person to write the music for my marriage to the Prince. I wanted a mixture of spiritual and martial music which he does so well. He was supposed to meet me in Bordeaux but I left a message instructing him to come here.

‘Did you know I had a relationship with him?’

‘Doesn’t everone? I needed some company and I knew you would enjoy  some time together.’

Joan watched as they melted into each others arms. ‘Seems I was right’

The most dangerous woman in the world

List of Characters

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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.’