41 The Time of Darkness.

Bertrand du Guesclin-17 May 1355


Across the street from the Prince’s house in La Reole, Bertrand du Guesclin yawned noisily. He rolled over and surveyed his surroundings: the dirty bedroom and unmade bed of a tawdry inn. He glanced at the primitive sideboard complete with a pink earthenware jug and bowl, both chipped and matching the chamber pot under his bed.

He knew that the jug and bowl would not be used. Here, no one expected him to wash or comb his hair.

During his journey south he had spent some time in the border area’s and had decided that the remit he had been given by Jaques de Bourbon was like a licence to print money. He had made contact with several companies of routiers, and decided that what he was looking for was a band who were relatively poorly organised on whom he could impose his will. once he had proved how effective his leadership could be he could then extend his influence on better organised companies possibly by exterminating their current leadership.

In the meantime there was the relatively boring task of finding and killing a teenage girl. There would be a substantial pay packet and who knew what fiendish delights could occur during the final coup de grace, but right now it was the most boring task he had ever undertaken.

Once he had discovered that Joan was headed for Bordeaux he had known where she could be found. From the time had been driven away from her by William Montacute he had researched her movements. Given the right inducement people were always prepared to talk. He knew about the ships Joan used and the location of the Princes houses at La Reole and the Chateau Levison.

He had spent two days watching the two houses. At first, he assumed that the Prince would be in residence at one or the other, but discovered there was no-one in residence at the Chateau. On his return to La Reole he had advice from the local butcher that the only occupant of the town house was ‘une jolie fille’. Du Guesclin was not sure that at the age of twenty-seven, Joan still qualified as a ‘fille’.

He discovered that although the house was not fortified, it was well-guarded. He would make no attempt to test out the security. Any desire to thrust himself upon Joan was dismissed; for now, his interest lay in finding the Prince. He was confident that he would find the Prince here, but as the days passed into a week he felt a twinge of anxiety; his whole plan depended on following the Prince to his ultimate destination.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he recognised the Prince on his arrival. He marvelled that a man of his status should travel unaccompanied. Some day he would make him pay for that, but for now, contrary to the Prince and his mistress, he fell asleep.


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