Friday, August 19, 2011

Troubled journey (3): Grace of The Almighty

Provence-Dauphiné border, 24th August 1713

As the stage coach continued on its way to Pierrelatte town, Claire Baizanville still watched with growing concern the old monk, who was listening attentively to the explanations of Marquis de Vilana. Then the monk started speaking in turn; after introducing himself as Brother Vincent from the Cistercian Order, he said:

-I'd say, my dear Monsieur Villars (emphasizing intentionally the surname under which Vilana was hidding his real identity), that my memory is fair better than yours. True that old age must have caused havoc on my person unlike you, who seem not to have changed much over the years. I'd even say that the weight of your most recent responsibilities seem to have had little effect on you.

Was the old monk suggesting he knew Vilana? The man devoted a brief glance at Claire while apparently pondering his next words: -I must admit your presence in France is a real surprise to me, Mr. Villars... Knowing such responsibilities, I can only guess one single reason justifying your presence here...

Astonished, Marquis de Vilana hurriedly started speaking again in an attempt to divert Brother Vincent's musings, but he was interrupted by a discrete hand gesture of the man, who also drew a reassuring smile: -Sir, don't ever get afraid about me, your secret is safe. If I'm right about your mission, then I ought to say that yours is an extremely daring maneuver. As a matter of fact, not less than mine...

Inside the stage coach, only pouring rain disrupted the deep silence following the old monk's words. Marquis de Vilana's mind was working at full speed, his mind trying to identify the face of that so-called Brother Vincent. The monk finally broke the silence, his face just barely outlined in the growing darkness: -This happy coincidence can only be attributed to a grace of The Almighty, no doubt it's a heavenly signal He's sent to guide us in a crucial moment. Let's meet for dinner tonight and then we'll have the opportunity to speak openly. Tonight.

Meanwhile, the day slowly started giving way to night. Through the windows it could already be seen the town of Pierrelatte, calmly lying under the huge shadow of a rocky mass.

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