Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gascony

Tarbes, 7th December 1713

Thankfully holding the bowl of warm soup between her hands, she looked all around. That small guesthouse close to Tarbes was pretty quiet, with almost no guests apart from themselves. "That is good", she told to herself, "for we'll finally be able to rest a whole night on a bed".

She thoughtfully glanced at the table next to theirs own, where her Catalan and German bodyguards were devouring their meals in silence, disguised as simple lackeys and grooms. They looked pretty fatigued, after several days and nights of ceaseless march along the snowy road. It was then that the young lady sitting by her asked:

--Lisette? --Such was her agreed name during their journey across upper Gascony. It wasn't advisable by any means she was called by her true name, Elisenda.

--Yes I'm here, Claire --she smoothly answered while getting back to reality.

--You look worried --Claire said, as if diagnosing Elisenda-- Still concerned by our good corsairs' fate? Don't anymore. Their captain is cunning enough for having fooled King Philip's warships one way or another. Such has been his way of life for years, you know?

Elisenda replied in a tired voice: --Perhaps I'm concerned for these corsairs, true. But for our own exhausted escorts too, and for my Nation's fate right now, while I'm resting here... or it's just that I'm scared dead for myself.

--Please stand strong a few days else, Lisette. We're close to Perpignan. Once there, you'll be able to hold firm the reigns of your destiny again.

--Perpignan? Too a long roundup.

--Oh no, Lisette!! --Claire looked alarmed and exasperated-- Are you still thinking of...?

--Crossing the Pyrenees across Aran Valley, sure --Elisenda's voice sounded unexpectedly sharp.

9 comments:

abdul666 said...

To cross Aran Valley in December?
A rather desperate step, but indeed, for Elisenda and Catalonia, it's a time of 'all or nothing'.

Soldadets said...

Elisenda is certainly facing a hard dilemma right now: if choosing to cross the Pyrenees, with so close the Winter, she would put herself in serious risk...

However, if accepting to go in Perpignan, she'd likely have no other chance than attending a number of ceremonies and audiences, as the newly appointed Vice-reyne of Louis XIV in the Counties of Roussillon and Cerdaigne.

Travelling is for sure safer to her, but it otherwise offers no significant advantages to her. She wouldn't be able to take over Berwick's army without an explicit consent from Versailles. Besides, such authorizacion keeps being pretty unlikely, if asked for throwing it against King Philip's forces --who is still nominally an ally of France, even in the peculiar diplomatic circumstances eased by Marquis de Vilana and Lady Elisenda herself...

Soooo... far more 'epic' risking her own life to reach the Principality in time for sharing fate with it. ;)

abdul666 said...

Have a thought for the poor cabin boy whose corpse was dressed in woman's clothes to deceive the Spaniards...

abdul666 said...

Red Sonja (or Boudica, rather) trying to cross the Misty Mountains: epic indeed! ^-^

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis: as Claire herself suggested during her conversation with Lady Elisenda, did the hired corsair captain actually fool the Spanish Fleet, by dispatching a decoy crew? Who knows what crew was in that intercepetd ship?

abdul666 said...

Not unlikely. Historically the French Secret du Roi used a similar trick later, in 1733: Stanislas Leszczyński, the 'French' candidate to the Polish crown, crossed hostile Germany and reached Warsaw masquerading as a merchant's servant, while a look-alike tried openly to reach Danzig by sea.

For some reason I suspect Claire advised to hire prudish Huguenots from La Rochelle as the decoy ^-^

abdul666 said...

Claire is perfectly ready to have other people killed rather than herself, her friends and above all the person under her protection.

Claire hates prudish people, and Monte-Cristans hold that Huguenot burghers, be they bankers, merchants or ship-owners, are as greedy as prudish (the part about 'wealth as a conspicuous expression of God's blessing' in the Old Testament, you know.

abdul666 said...

And the best way to be sure that your enemies follow the decoy is to *sell* them (indirectly of course) information about the whereabouts of person they are hunting. People tend to give more value to information they had to pay for. And you recoup part of the cost of hiring the decoy ^-^

abdul666 said...

Btw, how is Mireia faring? Still giving life to statues of She-wolves?