Philipa de Roet-25 March 1355
Suddenly, in the Ariège valley, it was spring. Clear blue skies gazed down over the valley and with the dawn came a chorus of birdsong; those with an eye for such things watched as the swallows and swifts busily reclaimed their homes in various parts of Chateau Foix.
Pipa had to gasp for breath after the laborious climb to the very top of the northerly tower to reach Dominic’s new quarters. As she forced her way through the doorway, she nearly collided with Dominic, who was simultaneously trying to leave.
‘So this is where you live.’
Dominic blinked several times. ‘Yes, though it is not much, and at night it is unbearably cold. Why are you here?’
‘You left some clothes behind. Lady Eleanor asked me to bring them up to you.’
Pipa smiled as she handed over the clothing.
Dominic’s frown slackened for an instant. ‘Thank you.’ he replied. The frown thickened again as he gazed at her.
‘Do you think there is a chance that Ximene will accept my favour?’
Pipa gazed back, and after a moment’s awkward silence she shook her head and stared at the ground.
She decided there was only one way to say it.
‘There is no chance.’
‘Because she is in love with you?’
Pipa shook her head.
‘She does love me and I love her, but that is not the reason. You have never paid court to her properly; yet you see her as belonging to you. That is very much a concept of the Roman Church and is abhorrent to Ximene.’
‘Oh? She did raise that with me.’ He looked away and when he turned back there was realisation in his eyes.
‘Do you think it as simple as that?’
He didn’t wait for her answer.
‘I will learn some poems and tell her how much I love her at the next dinner.’
‘I fear you have left it too late, Dominic. There are only five of us left, and Ximene will be leaving soon.’
‘Leaving soon? What do you mean?’
‘There is a hunt organised at Murat at the end of May.
‘I know that, the Comte is taking me with him.
‘Ximene will be allowed to attend. She is so unhappy Dominic,she… She is going to run away to Sicily. Once she is safe, I will go to join her.’
‘Rubbish, the Comte will not let her go.’
Phillipa could not help herself.
‘It’s not rubbish. Don Fernandino is going to arrange her escape.’
‘Don Fernandino? Oh!’
‘Sorry, Dominic, I must leave or I will be late for Mass.’
She scurried out of the room and down the stairs. As she went she consoled herself that she had not told Dominic anything important and in any case it was only Dominic, who had no friends and no influence with anyone!