Chapter by Chapter


We are introduced to thirteen year old Catherine Legoix and her childhood friend Landry Pigasse. They watch the mob in Paris 1413 entering the Palais St. Pol. Here they witness the arrest of a young noble from Auvergne - 16 year old Michel de Montsalvy. Catherine and her friend Landry try to save him and hide Michel de Montsalvy in the cellar of her father, goldsmith Gaucher Legoix. While Landry is getting help, Catherine brings nourishment to Michel and falls innocently in love with the 17 year old noble. But the prisoner is discovered and betrayed by Marion, the Legoix maid. He is taken out into the street and killed by Catherine's own cousin Thomas Legoix. Catherine faints at this terrible scene.


Catherine is in the house of Barnaby the Cockleshell man. She has brain fever and is looked after by a young and beautiful gypsy named Black Sara. We learn that Catherine's father Gaucher Legoix was hanged at his goldsmith shop, by his own relatives, for hiding the prisoner - and her sister Loyse was kidnapped. With the help of her new friends, her sister is freed - but is never the same again! Her mother decides to flee with her daughters and Sara to her brother's home in Burgundy. Barnaby and Landry Pigasse go with them.


Catherine is now 21 years old, a ravishing beauty with huge violet eyes and long golden hair. They live at her uncle's Mathieu Gautherin's house, and he adores his niece. She travels with him to Bruges where she is arrested, and meets Duke Philippe of Burgundy. On their way to Dijon, Catherine discovers on the riverside an unconscious knight. They take him to an inn where Abou-al-Khayr, an Arab doctor from Cordoba, tends to his wounds When the unknown knight awakes, we learn that he is Michel de Montsalvy's younger brother, Arnaud de Montsalvy. The bond between Catherine and the knight becomes stronger with each look that passes between them.


After dinner Catherine has a passionate longing to go and see the wounded young Arnaud de Montsalvy in his room. She finds him asleep and stays with him. He awakens and they kiss each other passionately. Catherine is on the point of giving herself to Arnaud when she hears her uncle calling her name in the courtyard. She runs to the window and we hear a Burgundian captain call for Catherine Legoix. The young noble reacts explosively when the name Legoix is mentioned and demands to know who is called by that cursed name. Innocently Catherine tells him it is her name. Arnaud's whole manner towards her changes instantly from desire to hate, and he is too enraged to listen to her explain it was her cousin who killed his brother Michel. He suspects Catherine of spying for Philippe of Burgundy and calls her amongst other things a whore...Catherine runs to him, slaps his face and walks proudly out of the room.


Catherine has returned to her uncle's house at Dijon. One day she meets Garin de Brazey, Lord Treasurer of Burgundy and keeper of the ducal crown jewels. Duke Philippe is sending her expensive presents. Soon she is called to her uncle who informs her that Garin de Brazey has asked for her hand in marriage. She refuses, still secretly thinking of that fiercely tender man who so quickly ravished her heart. Her uncle and mother tell her that refusal to marry Garin de Brazey will mean ruin and prison for all of them. Catherine pretends to submit, but then she remembers Barnaby, Landry's friend from Paris and she sneaks out at night to pay him a visit.


We learn that Barnaby had once told her to contact him, if she was ever in need, at the
tavern of Jacquot-de-la-Mer where he works as a beggar. Catherine explains her desperate situation, but Barnaby already knows what is going on. She tells him about meeting Arnaud de Montsalvy, falling in love with him and wanting to keep herself pure for him. Barnaby asks her what she expects him to do...because this marriage has been arranged by the Duke for his own pleasure, and the only way to prevent it is for either Garin de Brazey or Catherine herself to die. Catherine's mind is made up - she does not want to belong to a stranger. Barnaby promises to see what can be done. At her return, Catherine learns that she must go and live with the Dame de Champdivers. She will be educated in manners and courtly ways so she can take her place at court life.


Catherine lives now at the house of Marie de Champdivers. Her fiancé sends her precious pearls and her clothes are made by the best seamstress in town. The old lady herself is very kind and knows enough of court life to understand that her guest is to be groomed as worthy mistress of Philippe le Bon. Catherine admits that she knows what is going on - and that she will refuse to be the Duke's mistress! Garin de Brazey visits his bride-to-be. He notices that Catherine is distressed. Catherine feels regret for what is planned, but her love for Arnaud de Montsalvy is stronger than her conscience. At dawn she learns that the plan went array - Garin is only slightly wounded and Barnaby has been arrested.
When Catherine hears that Barnaby is to be executed, she rushes to Garin and tells him it was her fault that he was almost killed. She begs him to save her old friend Barnaby. Garin de Brazey promises to arrange a pardon for Barnaby, but it is too late...Barnaby dies under the torture. Catherine reproaches herself bitterly...and knows she has to accept her destiny now


On Christmas day, in the chapel of the Brazey Château, Catherine marries Garin and becomes Madame de Brazey. Attending her wedding is Odette de Champdivers, the mistress of the recently deceased Charles VI. Catherine's mother, sister and uncle are not invited to the wedding, so that the guests will not remember her inferior birth. The wedding banquet is a sad occasion-Garin de Brazey shows no interest in his new bride. Catherine knows that the true love God created for her was Arnaud de Montsalvy, and is distressed to think what will happen after the feast. Trembling, she awaits her husband in the great bed - but Garin de Brazey only comes to look at his bride, then wishes her good-night. Next day, Catherine does not tell Sara about this, but plays her role as a new Châteleine to perfection. The next day, Garin is called away
on duty by the Duke of Burgundy.


We find Catherine surprised that she is now a rich and great lady. Her sister decides to enter a convent to become a nun. While visiting her uncle and mother at Marsannay, Abou-al-Khayr, the Arab doctor, comes to visit and Catherine invites him to her Palace in Dijon. He seems sad that she is now a married woman, believing to have read in her eyes a great love for Arnaud. She explains and is desperate to know about her secret love. Through Abou-al-Khayr we learn that Arnaud was very popular at court, that he shares great friendships with the Dauphin's other captains, that there is a dazzling young girl named Isabelle de Séverac who is in love with him...and that he wants to come and challenge the Duke of Burgundy, who he believes to be Catherine's lover. Garin returns and brings Catherine to a secret chamber, showing his wife all his riches. She is made Lady-in-Waiting to the Duke's mother, Duchess Marguerite de Bavaria. To her surprise, she sees that Landry Pigasse has become cavalry officer in Duke Philippe's household. She meets the Countess Ermengarde de Châteauvillain, who is Mistress of the Duchess's robes. The older lady instantly likes Catherine de Brazey.


Catherine had been overjoyed to find her old friend Landry Pigasse - but Landry seemed not to recognize his friend from childhood. The Dowager Duchess had taken a great liking to her new Lady-in-Waiting and places Catherine in charge of her wardrobe. Catherine travels with Ermengarde de Châteauvillain to Amiens where the two sisters of the Duke of Burgundy are to be married. The next day she is to be officially presented to Philippe of Burgundy during the ball. Catherine wears a simple black velvet dress, with a black diamond placed on her brow. When Garin presents his wife to the Duke, Philippe steps down from his throne and takes Catherine's hand. A unknown knight is announced, who insists that he must speak with Philippe le Bon.

We learn that the black knight is none other than Arnaud de Montsalvy. He has come to challenge the Duke to single combat and demands it shall be a fight until death. Catherine's heart almost stops beating and a little cry escapes her...which is heard by her husband! Very angry Philippe tells Arnaud that a ruling prince cannot join in combat against a mere knight. Lionel de Bourbon, bastard of Vendôme picks up the gauntlet to fight instead. Arnaud points out his friend Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, who will be his second. He slowly walks towards the door - but not before resting his gaze a moment on Catherine - whom he has recognized.


After seeing Arnaud reappear so unexpectedly in her life, the banquet is an ordeal for Catherine. That evening, for the first time, she feels strong enough to put aside all obstacles standing between her and Arnaud. By marriage to Garin de Brazey, she is almost on equal social terms with the proud Comte de Montsalvy. When her husband comes to say good-night, he asks how she knows Messire de Montsalvy. She tells him only half the truth, sensing it is safer. They travel to Arras to attend the compat. On the day of the fight, they take their places in the stand and Catherine meets Jean de Saint-Rémy - a young noble who supports Arnaud, to her great joy.
Arnaud is wearing the King's arms of France! The contest is fierce, but Arnaud de Montsalvy is a superb fighter and wins. When Lionel de Vêndome cries for mercy, he disdainfully grants it. He turns to his pavillion and begins to stagger and can only be held at the last moment by his squire and Xaintrailles. Catherine rises and begins walking, telling the worried Countess Ermengard that ot even the Duke can stop her from going to see the wounded knight.

The worried Catherine pushes her way through the crowd to seek the blue silk pavillion. She sees Arnaud lying on a low couch, his squire still tending to his injuries. He looks at her...and says she will have a busy time if she runs to his bedside whenever he is injured. Catherine tells him that she was afraid his old wound might have re-opened. But he tells her he does not want her sympathy...this she shall give her husband - or her lover Duke Philippe! At this Jean de Xaintrailles intervenes, calling his friend a Auvergnat bear.
When they are alone, Arnaud stares at her, reflecting that she has the biggest and loveliest violet eyes he has ever seen. He fiercely wants to know the reason for her coming to him. Very softly, Catherine says she came to tell that she loves him. Whereas Arnaud reminds her that there are gulfs between them which cannot be overcome. They argue, and Catherine tells him she is still a maiden - they embrace passionatelly and he admits that he had not forgotten her. He admires her beautiful hair and kisses her again - only to be interupted by Xaintrailles, who says that something is wrong -their men have vanished!
Montsalvy goes to the entrance and is pushed back by Jean de Luxembourg, commander-in-chief of the Duke's army who has come to arrest the two French knights...and thanks Catherine for having detained them. Arnaud turns on her with a angry voice, calling her a filthy whore - he had almost believed her and forgotten his murdered brother Michel. She cries that she is innocent and not the Duke's mistress. But Arnaud will not believe her and asks Jean de Luxembourg to take them away. Catherine is left in the tent sobbing. She picks up Arnaud's helmet with the fleur-de-lys, and decides to go to the Duke.


Catherine goes to Duke Philippe's Palace and demands to see the Duke. He is very angry with her, informing her it is him who sends for people and not the other way around! Catherine tells him she does not care - that he will be known from now on as the least honourable prince in Christendom. The Duke harshly asks what she is talking about. She explains what had happened in the blue pavillion. Philippe claims he had nothing to do with the arrest of the two French knights..and wants to know what she was doing in the Comte de Montsalvy's tent! Catherine would love to throw the truth in his face, but knows this would endanger Arnaud's life. She tells the Duke her father was a goldsmith in Paris who worked for the Montsalvy's in times past. Philippe does not entirely believe her and says he will not tolerate a romance - not after he has gone
to such trouble to raise her to an appropriate rank! He hopes she appreciates her good fortune!
He sends her to a little room to take off her clothes. Catherine has no choice but to obey and enters the room - where she is locked in! Dinner is brought to her, but when no-one else appears she decides to rest. In the morning she wakes up to find the Duke standing by the window. He comes over and kisses her, saying he has still some business to attend. He picks up a little bell and tells the page he wanted to see captain Roussay and the "others"! Through the door come the captain, followed by Arnaud de Montsalvy and Jean de Xaintrailles. Catherine feels her strength ebb away and sees the trap Philippe laid for find out if she had told him the truth about Arnaud. How could Arnaud now not believe that she was indeed the Duke of Burgundy's mistress! She suffers great torment, feeling Philippe le Bon watering her reaction.
He informs the two knights that everything was a misunderstanding, and that it was Dame Catherine they should thank for their good fortune. Arnaud does not look at Catherine, and it is Xaintrailles who thanks her. The two friends walk away and Catherine is alone with the Duke.
He asks her forgiveness for suspecting that Montsalvy was more than an old friend, saying that he had never before felt so jealous. She may go home now... but he would send for her the same night...  

Synopsis by Linda Compagnoni Walther
English proof-reading by Jean Brit


 © 2008 - 2019 Linda Compagnoni Walther
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