61 A Brief Flirtation — Copy

‘I noticed that when you smile everyone you are talking to also smiles. And when you smiled at me it was if I was warmed by the rays of the sun.’

John Stanley-19th May 1355.

The two squires climbed to the peak of the hill behind the Château and stood spellbound by the views along the Garonne to the west. The village and the Château dominated the foreground. On the north-eastern bank, where Clermont itself was situated, a series of ridges of high ground stretched out towards the river. On the other side of the river, the floodplain of the Garonne, flat and green, provided an almost endless vista.

‘I could stay here all night,’ said John.

Piers nodded. ‘I agree, but the evening meal will be ready shortly. We should head back.’

‘Yes, I’m starving,’ John admitted. ‘But I’m going to come up here after dinner to see the sunset.’

In the event, they spent rather more time over dinner than they had intended, as the inn put on good entertainment included singers, jugglers and acrobats.

John noticed a girl. He guessed by her clothing that she was probably the serving girl of a lord inside the Château. He kept his eye on her during his meal, and even after, as they continued to drink and watch the entertainment.

‘Go on,’ Piers said, nudging John with his elbow.

‘Shut up,’ John said, getting up even as he spoke. The girl was now at the centre of a group which hung on her every word. One of the female listeners shrieked. ‘Pipa, how do you find out such things?’

Pipa continued her discourse. ‘My mistress says there will be many important people attending the festival, some of them English. That as well as enjoying the festival there will be discussions about extending the English territory as far as Toulouse, perhaps further.’

‘Nooo,’ a young male said in disbelief.

‘It’s true! And there will be English soldiers and knights coming to live here, too,’ she said in wide-eyed glee.

The other ladies gave little screams and tittered into their handkerchiefs.

John noted the scowls on the young men’s faces. He needed to watch himself; these men wouldn’t appreciate his intrusion. It interested him that this young lady knew these details, and he thought about what the Earl had asked of him and Piers. He searched for the things about her which attracted him. Her blonde curly hair contrasted with her tanned skin. Her nose seemed a little small, but he liked her slim face.

Suddenly she left the group who continued to discuss the merits and demerits of the English living among them. John followed her as she started another conversation with a different group of young women.

‘Nearly all the ladies in the Château will be wearing black. It is the new fashion. I am so lucky; I expect my mistress will give her dress to me after she has worn it only a few times. I will have to get it altered but it will be worth it. It will look so good on me.’

As the group took up the conversation about black dresses, she departed, heading back to the first group, who by now had split into factions, pro and anti-English. She stopped mid-stride, sensing John watching her, and turned to observe him. She gave him a beautiful smile and in doing so revealed her most attractive features — perfectly formed dazzling white teeth and beautiful almond-shaped, ice-blue eyes. John instinctively moved towards her. She stood her ground.

‘You have been following me, but I really don’t mind.’ She held out her hand.

John knew what was expected but his attempted kiss landed halfway up her arm. She appeared not to notice. She introduced herself. ‘Philippa de Roet, most people call me Pipa, and you are?’

John had no difficulty in smiling.’ John Stanley and most people call me John. I am English, though I am neither a knight nor a soldier. I have been watching you from across the room.’

She did not blush as he had expected. She gave him another dazzling smile. ‘I know, I have been watching you… watching me.’

John decided she was interested and he certainly knew her most attractive feature. ‘Your smile is most infectious.’

‘Infectious? You mean like a disease?’

John felt his face fall. ‘No, No, I really like you.  I noticed that when you smile everyone you are talking to also smiles. And when you smiled at me it was if I was warmed by the rays of the sun.’

Her eyes flickered slightly.

John thought he might be doing better. He decided to test his attraction.

‘My friend and I are about to climb the hill behind the Château, to watch the sunset. Would you like to come with us?’

Pipa rewarded John with a coy look out of the corner of her eyes. ‘Are you sure you are not soldiers? In any case, it would not be good for my reputation to vanish into the dusk with two such virile young men.’

There was the implication that perhaps one virile young man would be perfectly acceptable. But John missed the opportunity and in any case, the look in Pipa’s eyes suddenly changed from seduction to caution.

‘I do not think it would be wise to climb the hill at this time of night. It will be a new moon tonight and the locals say that witches gather on the hill at a new moon.’ She glanced over her shoulder as another group pushed their way into the already overcrowded room.

‘Ooh! Excuse me. There is someone over there I must talk to.’

John was nonplussed. It was almost as if he had been dismissed. ‘Thank you for your advice…’ His voice trailed away. Pipa was already immersed in another conversation. John returned to Piers. From across the room, he could see Pipa chatting with the newcomers with great enthusiasm.

‘She is very pleasant but a bit of a social butterfly. I will perhaps try again later, but for now, let’s go and watch the sunset.’

John led Piers out of the inn. ‘By the way, she told me that on a new moon, witches gather on the hill!’

Piers gave him a stern look, and John shrugged his shoulders. ‘Just thought you should know.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


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.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.