Thursday, July 21, 2011

Troubled journey (2): the monks

Provence-Dauphiné border, 24th August 1713

The unidentified horse riders stopped along Marquis de Vilana's carriage and the eldest among them warmly greeted the driver Llinàs and offered their help. Without waiting for any reply, tha man dismounted and inspected the vehicle while Llinàs struggled with his primary French to mutter some words of gratitude. Then Marquis de Vilana came out of the carriage in help of Llinàs and greeted the riders in turn, starting thereafter a short conversation with the leading old man -a necessarily short one, due to the rain.

Llinàs took advantage of Vilana's initiative to go discretely apart for a moment and carefully examine the newcomers. He noticed that the one talking with Vilana wore some kind of religious habit or vest under his raincloak. The youngest rider had also dismounted and stayed behind the old man with soliciting attitude. The third voyager had apparently no intention to dismount, but had taken the other two horses by the reigns, while in the process he had in turn started examining Vilana's group. When his glance finally met Llinàs' one, they stared at each other with circumspection. Llinàs was unable to decide if these men carried any weapons -although he'd bid for the third one.

After a short while, Vilana closed to Llinàs and told him: -They say there is a hostel in an hour's drive, close to Pierrelatte town. It seems to be a frequent stopping point for traders and couriers, so most probably we'll be able to find tools for repairing our coach.

According to the old man's explanations, he was Brother Vincent of the Cistercian Order, who along with two companions were travelling to Pontigny Abbey, at some point between Dijon and Paris, so that coincidentally both groups might share trip, as the man had suggested.

Brother Vincent was invited into the stagecoach, where he examined and cared for young Josep's arm with undeniable mastership, and afterwards the joint group re-started journey. Then the monk started a conversation with Marquis de Vilana and Claire Baizanville, who performed once again their small representation about the trip: The future Mrs. Gilbert -no other than Claire herself- had just arrived in Toulon from the Antilles and was expected to move in Paris for marrying Mr. Pierre Gilbert, a leading businessman who had sent his efficient right-hand Monsieur Villars -Lord Vilana himself, of course- to attend his fiancée in her journey.

Claire and Vilana had intensely developed such storyboard before during their trip, so that both felt widely confident in their arranged roles. But Claire soon bserved something wasn't running as provided: while she expected polite questions and banal comments by the monk, pointed by some occasional glances to her (even clad in religious habits, a man is always a man, she believed). However, that Brother Vincent attention seemed to be totally focused on Lord Vilana. She was missing something, but what?

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