John Stanley-1st September 1366
John had given up pulling against his chains. He thought he heard someone giving orders. Suddenly the door burst open. Several guards entered the room. The light from their torches dazzled John momentarily. They were thrust into wall holders all round the room until the room was fully illuminated. His eyes recovered. More guards entered dragging Ximene behind them. Her hands were chained behind her neck and she was being pulled behind the guards by additional chains around her waist.
The guards chained Ximene to the wall facing John. Once again she and John had the opportunity to look into each other’s eyes but in vastly different circumstances.
Clearly Ximene had not been brought here directly from the garden. The delay may have been due to some preliminary questioning. She had been given no chance to don alternative clothing and was as he had last seen her, virtually naked. John was amazed to find that even in these circumstances he was still able to appreciate Ximene’s beauty.
The guards paid great attention to pulling the chains which held Ximene to the wall extremely tight so that her arms and legs were spread-eagled. The guards laughed amongst themselves and one reached out and fondled her naked breast. Without hesitation she spat at him.
The jailer snapped out a question at her.
‘This is the man to whom you gave your favour at the tournament. How long have you known this man? How long has he been your lover?”
She replied with total defiance “I have known him for ever, I have loved him for ever.’
This was obviously a totally unacceptable answer to the jailer. He produced a whip. He slashed it deliberately across Ximene’s breasts. As he pulled the whip away there were lines of blood on her beautiful body. Ximene’s head jerked backwards and she moaned gently.
John screamed,’Leave her alone, kill me if you must but leave her alone.’
The guard snarled at John and then turned back to Ximene.’Your punishment will be to watch your lover die before your eyes, but he must suffer too. His punishment will be to watch as we torture you in front of his eyes.’
John shouted again, “but she is innocent, she has done nothing.’
The guard who had applied the whip sneered over his shoulder.
‘It does not matter, we know she is guilty. If she has not loved you physically then she has loved you in her mind. It is enough.’
John could only stare in horror, was this how it all would end? In his anguish John screamed out his undying love for Ximene. Time seemed to stop. He could not help remembering the circumstances which had first made him aware of the existance of Ximene Trencavel.
The words rang in his head. “She is the most dangerous woman in the world”
John pushed the memories out of his mind and pulled vigorously against his chains. He forced himself to look at Ximene, now chained to the wall in front of him and about to suffer unthinkable torture. Nothing had changed except the desperation of the circumstances and the fact that he was deeply in love with her.
He shouted his commitment and his defiance.
‘Ximene I will die proclaiming my love for you. If I die simply for loving you then so be it. I will not regard my life to be wasted!
The prison guard turned towards John and raised his whip.
John flinched in anticipation.