chaptire par chapitre


 

Catherine rentre à la maison après sa nuit passée avec Philippe Le Bon dans son palais. Garin de Brazey l’attend quand elle entre dans sa chambre. Il la roue de coup de fouet jusqu’à ce qu’elle tombe inconsciente, croyant qu’elle avait passé la nuit dans la tente d’ Arnaud de Montsalvy. Elle est découverte par Ermengarde qui outrée, revoie Garin chez lui. Philippe, portant un masque noir, vient lui-même voir ce qui est arrivé à Catherine. Il lui dit qu’il a le cœur brisé de la voir dans cet état et ordonne à Ermengarde de la ramener à Dijon.

Catherine retourne à Dijon, avec une escorte armée envoyée par le Duc et sous le commandement de Jacques de Roussay. Sara est transportée de joie quand elle rencontre des gitans de Moden, au pied du Mont Gype, et elle part avec eux – au désespoir de Catherine. De retour à la maison, elle reste en compagnie d’Abou-al-Khayr, qui lui est d’un grand soutien à propos de l’abandon de Sara.
Le Duc continue à lui envoyer de beaux objets d'art et des lettres d'amour. Un jour, elle entend dire qu'Arnaud et Xaintrailles sont prisonniers des Anglais. Un matin, un moine s'approche d'elle à l'église, disant qu’il est envoyé par Madame de Champdivers. Ce moine se nomme Etienne Charlot et il appartient à l'Ordre de St François d'Assise. Il explique qu’Odette et lui-même servent le Roi de France et qu’ils espèrent qu’elle les aidera. Catherine accepte, mais à une condition … que la Reine Yolande paie la rançon d’'Arnaud de Montsalvy et Jean de Xaintrailles. Le moine est content, il lui dit qu’elle a droit à toute leur gratitude et qu’il transmettra son souhait à la Reine. Quand Catherine apprend la libération d'Arnaud et de Xaintrailles, elle devient une espionne pour la France. 

Catherine va toujours prier le 29 Septembre à la Saint Michel, pour l’âme de son premier amour et le plus pure – Michel de Montsalvy.  Son mari Garin est de retour et vient s’excuser, disant qu’il l’avait accuse à tord … et apprend à Catherine qu‘Arnaud de Montsalvy est aujourd’hui fiancé à Isabelle de Séverac, fille d’un maréchal. Le mariage est prévu dans un mois. Catherine a dû s’enfoncer les ongles dans la paume de ses mains pour s’empêcher de pleurer. Quand il lui dit que le Duc espère la revoir bientôt, elle perd presque pied. Elle doit s’offrir alors qu’elle ne veut plus retourner à la cour.

Elle pleure seule, disant que la seule façon de s’en sortir est de s’empoisonner … mais elle en est empêchée par Abou-al-Khayr. Il lui dit qu’elle a encore une mère, une sœur et un oncle, qu’elle belle, jeune et riche. Il lui conseille d’aller chez son oncle à Marsannay.

Ermengarde lui apprend que le Duc est furieux qu’elle soit partie à la campagne. Quand Catherine se lamente d’avoir perdu Arnaud pour toujours, Dame Ermengarde lui réplique qu'elle ne va pas gâcher sa vie parce que cet imbécile a pris femme Le Duc l'aime et aucune de ses maîtresses n’a eut à se plaindre de lui ! Un soir, alors qu’elle se promène, elle voit un homme s’introduire dans le jardin, elle l’assomme à l’aide d’un bâton et à sa grande surprise découvre que l’opportun n’est autre Philippe Le Bon!

Catherine court chercher de l’eau pour soigner sa tempe, Philippe revient à lui et lui sourit. Ils parlent longuement et l’on apprend que le Duc ne veut pas la forcer à devenir sa maîtresse si elle ne le souhaite pas. Il demande un baiser, qu’elle lui accorde ... et elle s’abandonne à l’amour de Philippe.
Quelques jours après, Catherine est attendue pour une fête de mariage et s’inquiète de la façon dont Garin la regarde. Elle rencontre Landry qui lui dit pourquoi i lest en colère contre elle – pour lui, c’est à cause d’elle que Barnabé est mort! Elle rencontre ensuite l’Evêque de Beauvais, qui n’est autre que Cauchon, l’homme responsable de la mort de Michel de Montsalvy. Il n’apprécie pas qu’on lui rappelle cette période et il est surpris de voir au combien Catherine le hait. Il lui sourit sournoisement en disant qu’il ne l’oubliera pas.

La mère du Duc meurt en janvier 1424. Catherine est enceinte et elle essaie de cacher son état le plus longtemps possible à son mari. Aux funérailles, elle manque de s’évanouir alors que Garin la regarde.
Le Duc est enchanté d’apprendre sa grossesse et l’appelle sa « toison d’or ». Elle lui demande alors de libérer Frère Etienne et Odette de Champdivers qui étaient emprisonnés pour conspiration. Il accepte mais le moine et Odette sont bannis de Bourgogne.
Catherine retourne chez elle et fatiguée se couche mais se réveille soudain quand elle réalise qu’on la kidnappe. Ses mains sont liées avec une corde et on la couche dans un chariot sous un tas de paille. Dans la pénombre, elle distingue un visage : Landry Pigasse. Catherine réussit à se libérer de la couverture et crie :
“Landry… au secours!”

Catherine a été amenée dans une vieille tour du Château de Mâlain, par ordre de son mari Garin.On lui met autour du cou, un collier en fer et la chaîne qui la relie au mur lui laisse seulement que peu d’espace pour bouger. Garin la regarde et se moque d’elle et lui dit qu’il la punit et qu'elle doit rester ici jusqu'à ce qu'elle perde le fruit de ses amours avec le Duc Philippe. Catherine lui demande d’avoir pitié mais il lui rit au nez. Il la laisse seule avec deux geôliers qui essayent de la violer, mais elle arrive à se défendre avec sa chaîne et ils l’abandonnent seule sans eau ni nourriture. 

Garin revient au bout de quatre jours et ordonne qu’on lui donne un peu de soupe. Il rit de la voir laide maintenant. Le seul désir de Catherine maintenant, est de mourir en paix. A nouveau seule, elle essaye de manger quelques légumes et de la viande. Elle entend alors une voix venant de la cheminée et reconnaît Landry Pigasse. Il lui raconte qu’il a entendu une femme qui criait son nom. Quand Perrine, l’une de ses domestiques, lui dit que sa maîtresse n’était pas à la maison, il a suivi Garin jusqu’ici pour la sauver. Il promet de revenir le jour suivant, lui souhaitant du courage jusque là.  L’un des geôliers de Catherine essaie à nouveau de l’étrangler et de la violer mais Landry revient juste à temps : il tue ces brutes, porte Catherine et la sort du château. A son grand étonnement, elle retrouve Sara, honteuse de l’avoir abandonnée. Landry emmène les deux femmes se cacher dans le petit village voisin.

Ils se cachent avec une fille du nom de Pâquerette qui est connue pour être une sorcière. Catherine se trouve dans un piteux état. Landry lui raconte qu’il a trouvé Sara à la Taverne de Jacquot-de-la-Mer où elle logeait après avoir quitté la tribu gitane car elle avait peur de retourner vers Catherine. Sara lui dit que Pâquerette est le maîtresse de Landry et qu’elle en est follement amoureuse. Sara devine déjà la jalousie de la jeune femme envers Catherine. 

A son retour, Landry est heureux de voir Catherine en meilleure forme mais l’attitude Pâquerette change alors envers Catherine. Elle se rend compte que Landry est content auprès de la Dame de Brazey. Sara, avec son sixième sens, la suit dans les bois après l’avoir surprise en train de regarder Catherine pendant son sommeil. Sara la voit donner à un vieillard une mèche des cheveux de Catherine. Landry est parti vers Paris pour informer le Duc que Catherine doit se cacher de son propre mari. La tension monte. Un matin, Sara voit Garin de Brazey approcher.. la petite sorcière les a trahies en envoyant la mèche de cheveux d’or à Garin. Elles sont obligées de fuir dans la forêt et trouvent de l’aide auprès du chef des sorciers. Il les emmène près de la rivière Suzon et leurs conseille d’aller jusqu’à l’abbaye de Saint-Seine, terre d’asile. Quelques heures plus tard, elles arrivent en vue de l’abbaye et y trouvent refuge.

Jean de Blaisy, Abbé de Saint-Seine, se trouve être le cousin d’Ermengarde de Châteauvillain. Catherine le remercie de lui avoir sauvé la vie et le soir même la comtesse vient aussi à son aide. Ils vont bientôt être assiégés par Garin de Brazey  venu réclamer sa femme Catherine de Brazey, mais l’abbé refuse et dit à un Garin furieux qu’elle ne partira que de sa propre volonté. Catherine veut se rendre, ne pouvant supporter que ces braves gens ne meurent de sa faute. Elle rejoint l’abbé sur les remparts et supplie son mari d’arrêter de s’en prendre à des innocents. Il se fait qu’en rire, disant qu’elle était seule en cause. Alors que les bandits venus avec Garin sont prêts à donner l’assaut, ils aperçoivent une grande troupe de cavaliers armés faisant route vers Saint-Seine – menée par nul autre que le Capitaine Jacques de Roussay. Les bandits sont rapidement maîtrisés, battues par plus nombreux qu’eux. Son époux est fait prisonnier alors qu’il semblait avoir perdu tout intérêt pour ce qui se passait autour de lui.

Garin est ramené à Dijon et emprisonné pour haute trahison ayant mis en danger la sécurité de l’Etat, pour sacrilège et tentative de meurtre sur son épouse. Catherine n’est pas autorisée à retourner chez elle car en tant que prisonnier d’Etat, tous ses biens ont été mis sous scellées. Ermengarde de Châteauvillain emmène Catherine dans son domaine de Châteauvillain. Landry vient la voir pour lui annoncer qu’il veut devenir moine à l’abbaye de Saint-Seine – il n’a plus goût à la vie depuis la trahison de Pâquerette. Abou-al-Khayr vient la rejoindre chez Ermengarde et essaie d’expliquer à Catherine que Garin a fait tout ceci parce qu’il l’aime. Une semaine plus tard, Garin est condamné à mort… mais avant de mourir, il doit être soumis à la torture, ses biens confisqués et sa maison et son château rasés jusqu’aux fondations. 

Catherine décide d’aller voir Garin dans sa prison pour enfin savoir pourquoi il a agit comme cela. Elle apprend que Garin l’a vraiment aimé et lui dit la raison de son attitude étrange. Son histoire est triste… il y a vingt-huit ans, i lest allé en croisade avec le Comte de Nevers. Ils ont été fait prisonniers par le Sultan Turc Bayézid. La vie de Garin n’a été épargnée que grâce à la protection du Comte Jean. Pour s’amuser, ils ont essayé d’entrer dans le harem et Garin s’est fait prendre. Encore une fois le Comte Jean est intervenu. Au lieu d’être décapité, Garin a été livré aux bourreaux. Quand ils en ont eu fini avec lui, il n’était plus un homme… et le Duc Philippe connaissait son terrible secret!  Catherine s’est sentie vraiment désolée pour son mari et voulut l’aider en vendant les bijoux qu’elle a pu garder. Mais Garin refuse, n’ayant plus envie de vivre mais il lui demande d’aller voir Abou-al-Khayr pour qu’il lui envoie un vin “spécial” avant sa mort. Le petit médecin le lui prépare et le 6 avril 1424, Garin meurt… après avoir bu de ce vin de Bourgogne envoyé Abou-al-Khayr.

Nous retrouvons Catherine en train de poser pour une peinture de Jean Van Eyck. Après la mort de la femme du Duc  - Bonne de Nevers, Catherine est devenue la maîtresse officielle du Duc Philippe. Il lui a rendu au centuple tout ce que la justice lui avait retire à la mort de Garin. Elle est devenue la Comtesse de Brazey, pour que son fils Philippe puisse en porter le titre. Elle possède un château, un petit palais à Bruges, ainsi que des bijoux, de magnifiques toilettes et l’amour incommensurable de Philippe. Mais elle se sent seule et triste…   

Ermengarde de Châteauvillain élève son enfant Philippe à Châteauvillain. Catherine n’est pas amoureuse du Duc Philippe. Elle le trouve attirant mais son amour est plus charnel. Quand il est absent, elle ne se languit pas de lui. Un seul home pourrait réussir à enflammer son cœur mais il est loin et perdu à jamais pour elle. Elle apprend par Jean de Rémy que Jean Van Eyck doit se rendre au Portugal avec la mission de peindre l’Infante Isabelle, que le Duc Philippe voudrait épouser. Puis un messager arrive, envoyé par la Comtesse Ermengarde, qui lui écrit que son petit Philippe est malade. Elle annonce au Duc qu’elle va rendre visite à leur enfant et qu’elle ne reviendra pas à Dijon si il doit prendre une nouvelle épouse... mais le duc ne veut rien entendre et la force à jurer qu’elle reviendra vers lui. Et Catherine fait la promesse de revenir… si son enfant se rétablit. 

Catherine arrive à Châteauvillain, après un long et épuisant voyage. Mais elle arrive trop tard! Son petit garçon, Philippe, est mort d’une forte fièvre. Il avait bu une eau impure dans un puits. Ermengarde se sent responsable mais Catherine la réconforte lui disant qu’elle a été la meilleure des mères pour lui ! Bien meilleure qu’elle même ne l’a été…
Catherine est dévastée par le chagrin et elle demande à son amie le Comtesse Ermengarde si elle peut rester avec elle pour toujours – prétextant ne plus avoir ni mari ni enfant ni amour...  elle ne veut plus retourner vers Philippe et à la cour, même si le Duc lui envoie lettre sur lettre. Elle pense même à rejoindre à Grenade son vieil ami Abou-al-Khayr
Des mois passent quand Frère Etienne vient rendre visite à  Catherine. Elle l’accueille très amicalement mais il lui dit qu’il vient lui demander une grande faveur : il souhaite qu’elle retourne au Duc Philippe pour le supplier de retirer ses troupes d’Orléans. Si la ville est prise la France et le Roi sont perdus. Elle apprend que beaucoup de chevaliers sont là-bas pour défendre la ville, dont Arnaud de Montsalvy!
Catherine apprend également que sa fiancée Isabelle de Séverac est morte deux mois avant leur mariage! Elle demande alors à Frère Etienne pourquoi il n’est pas venu plus tôt lui raconteur tout ça. Le moine répondit qu’il ignorait qu’elle n’était pas au courant. Ses yeux se sont mis à briller comme des étoiles, elle refuse alors de retourner vers Philippe de Bourgogne. Elle a pris une autre décision : laisser tout derrière elle et partir pour Orléans où elle pourra mourir avec l’homme qu’elle a toujours aimé. Le jour suivant, Catherine, sa fidèle Sara et frère Etienne partent pour la ville assiégée d’Orléans – nous sommes le 8 mars 1429.
Ils se font capturés en chemin par un brigand du nom de Fortépice qui les garde prisonniers car il pourra demander rançon à Philippe Le Bon pour sa maîtresse.

Fortépice les ramène dans le château dont il se sert comme cachette. Il est en ruine mais encore magnifique. Les vêtements d’homme que portent Catherine lui sont enlevés et elle découvre avec horreur que Sara est destinée au lit du chef! Elle demande à le voir mais en vain, il la menace de subir le même sort si elle ne reste pas calme.  Catherine tente de calmer sa rage, même quand le brigand lui arrache un baiser. Le lendemain on lui renvoie Sara. Sara balaie d’un haussement d’épaules  les craintes de Catherine en disant qu’elle allait bien et que cela aurait pu être pire! Avec l’aide de Sara, Catherine arrive à s’échapper et prend à pied la route qui la conduira finalement  à Arnaud de Montsalvy.
 Elle a faim, ses pieds lui font mal – mais par chance, elle croise de gentils paysans qui lui donne le gîte et le couvert. Elle leur explique qu’elle fuit Fortépice et qu’elle va à la rencontre de l’homme qu’elle aime. Ils lui conseillent de voyager sous le déguisement d’un pèlerin. Elle continue sa route vers Orléans le lendemain.  Elle ne rencontre malheureusement  pas que d’honnêtes gens. Elle veut trouver un bateau et montre son argent à un pêcheur. Proche de Sully, elle apprend que le château qu’elle voit appartient au Sire de la Trémoille, le favori de Charles VII. L’homme arrête son bateau et alors qu’il aide Catherine à descendre, elle reçoit un coup violent et perd connaissance. Quand elle se réveille, le bateau, ses deux pièces d’argent, sa dague et son épais manteau ont disparu ! Tout semble se liguer pour qu’elle ne puisse rejoindre Arnaud. Elle se met sur ses pieds et part vers la célèbre abbaye de  St. Benoît, où elle pourra trouver refuge et assistance. Sans cette bosse sur la tête, elle se sentirait presque pleine de vie et moins d’une heure après, elle arrive à l’abbaye. Elle apprend que la pièce réservée aux pèlerins est pleine à craquer. Une vieille dame lui fait une petite place et quand elle lui demanda d’où elle vient, Catherine évite de lui dire qu’elle est bourguignonne. Elle entend parler pour la première fois d’une jeune fille que l’on appelle Jeanne d'Arc, la pucelle, que Dieu a envoyé pour les aider et que les Capitaines attendent déjà avec impatience. Catherine avec sa fatigue, son angoisse d’arriver enfin à Orléans et son cœur trouble, commence à détester cette pucelle soldat – surtout à l’idée que cette fille de Lorraine pourrait séduire le cœur et l’âme d’Arnaud de Montsalvy.
Le jour suivant, elle accepte un peu de pain et malgré ses pieds en feu se sent prête pour les dernières neuf lieues qui lui reste à faire pour atteindre Orléans. La route fut un cauchemar, elle était plus misérable que les plus miséreux, une loque affamée à demi-nue, les pieds en sang. Elle se traîna plus qu’autre chose vers Orléans et quand enfin elle arrive aux portes de la ville, on lui dit qu’elle ne peut y entrer de jour! Elle dut attendre la tombée de la nuit avec les gens Montaran, dont la ville venait d’être brulée par les Anglais. Enfin, elle franchit la porte d’Orléans, elle est arrivée… son Odyssée est finie...


translation en cours de construction !!
 

The Bourgogne gate opened... and a crumbly voice said: "Some more refuges, what are we going to do with them?" The speaker was none other than Arnaud de Montsalvy, whose voice she had instantly recognized! He had not changed in the six years they had not seen each other. His eyes hard as ever and he held his held as arrogant as ever! He seemed more beautiful than an archangel to Catherine! In her joy to find him so soon, she forgot everything and was drawn to him irresistible. like in trance she walked to him with her hands outstretched! Arnaud did not see her at once. Suddenly he looked up and saw a ragged woman coming towards him. He thought for a moment that he was having a hallucination... but then he recognized her. His face showed for a quick moment fierce joy, but then he pulled himself together and shouted: "Seize this woman at once"!
Catherine moaned faintly: "No Arnaud!... but he was blind with rage. Telling the soldiers that this woman was a Burgundian. Philippe Le Bon mistress, Catherine de Brazey, who had come to spy for him. Just as a frightened soldier wanted to seize her, a drawling voice said: "The fair Catherine here"? It was Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, who was battle-stained as his friend, but his cheerful face had lost none of it's charm. After Xaintrailles had taken a look at Catherine, he took Arnaud's arm and told him that he thought that was unlikely. Catherine was in such a sorry state. But Arnaud de Montsalvy, never going back on his word, said it was so and she was to be put into prison and he would find a way to loosen her tongue! Catherine stood very straight and gazed and gazed at Arnaud. Suddenly she started to laugh... a dreadful laugh which did not belong to her. She laughed as though she would never stop. Whereas Arnaud roared, that she should be taken away, or he would kill her!
Xaintrailles knew better than to discuss with his friend. Catherine hands were bound together behind her back and pushed forwards. Xaintrailles followed and took discreetly the leader of her escort away, gave him a piece of gold and told him, to put her in a cell, but not in a dungeon and she should not be put in irons.
She was brought to the Chastelet, the stronghold of Orleans and fell exhausted to sleep. She was brought some water and a crust of bread. She had time to think everything over, and was honest enough with herself, to realize that everything spoke against her. In Arnaud's eyes she was one of the Legoix's and the last time he had seen her, she had been in Duke Philippe's bed. She was angry with herself, and tried to sleep as not to have to think. At night she was brought before Messire Raoul de Gaucourt the Town Governor and some other aldermen and Arnaud.
She was accused of spying for the enemy, the English. Catherine tried to explain that she was not a Burgundian, but forced to become one. That she had come out of her own free will. Arnaud was furious, shouting she was lying. The Governor tried to calm down Arnaud, who would not listen. Saying she was taking everybody for fools, and she was to be put to torture! Some of the aldermen agreed with Arnaud de Montsalvy and they tore Catherine's clothes from her and she stood naked before the men. At this, Arnaud ordered them to give her back at least her petticoat. Saying he did not give a damn, if it was the custom to strip prisoners!! Catherine had not noticed that Arnaud had gone as white as a sheet, because she was dragged to the bed of torture. They asked her one last time why she had come to Orleans, and Catherine answered : " To find the man I love"! When she would not tell them the name, they started to torture her. She felt as if her arms and legs were wrenched off. The pain was so strong that she whispered, they should ask Messire de Montsalvy, he would know!
Just then two knights strode into the room. Through her tears she saw that one of them was Xaintrailles. The other was Jean de Dunois, Bastard of Orleans and master of the besieged city. He told them to release the victim. Arnaud came forward and told it was him who had ordered Catherine's arrest. Jean de Dunois smiled at him, and said that he did not mistrust his judgement and that he loved him as if they were of the same blood. But the messenger of Heaven would soon be here. Arnaud bowed his head in defeat. Catherine was too weak to walk and the soldiers had to carry her back to her cell.
Little notice was taken of Catherine during the days that followed. Her gaoler came to visit her every so often, since she was now the only prisoner and through him she learned what went on outside of her cell. She began to make the maid responsible for all her misfortunes. Thinking they were all under a spell. It was more than a month that she had been looked up. Pitoul her gaoler told her that everyone was gone, to meet Joan who was coming to Orleans. All day she was nervous and she had decided to try to escape when Pitoul came. At night the Alderman Lhuillier came in and told her, that she was in the absence of Monseigneur Jean d'Orleans and Messire Raoul de Gaucourt, condemned to death by hanging.

When she was alone, she started to cry for hours... she heard sounds of joy, as if the city was celebrating something. Towards midnight her cell door opened and Arnaud de Montsalvy entered, saying: " I have come to say farewell", with a hoarsely voice." Catherine looked up at him and thought he had never looked so pale. She broke the silence between them and said with a icy voice:" what an extraordinary mark of esteem, from a man of such tender pride", but that she did not want to say farewell to him! He should be honest with himself; he only came to see in what kind of state she was in, before she had to die. She would be happy, because it would free her from people like him. Now he knew, now he could leave her alone.
And Catherine learns that he had tried to forget her, but that he could not help himself. She was hunting him, night after night and he called her a witch. She burst out laughing, full of a cruel and sweet joy to find out she had the power to make him suffer. He told her that he hated and despised her, and that he had done everything in his power to forget her. Wine, women, and even wanting to marry the beautiful Isabelle de Sévérac. Catherine got slowly up, she looked Arnaud proudly in the face, with a look as cutting as steel. Telling him, that it was him, who had forced the aldermen to sentence her to death. He admitted it and he would be finally free of her! Catherine laughed him in his face, saying she would be even more desirable once she was dead. He would be hunted by remorse. He denied it and they started to argue and he told her to be quiet". I am not dead yet, she said. And in the sleepless nights ahead, he would hear her voice crying: I loved you... I loved you and you killed me...when she would not stop, he seized her and shook her so fiercely, that she stumbled. He fell upon her, his face contorted with fury and desire. Catherine fought as if her live depended on it...but she was weakened by her imprisonment.When he kissed her, Catherine felt herself going soft, weakening and knew she was about to swoon. He kissed her again and caressed her and Catherine abandoned herself to him. The miracle happened, the miracle struck like a spark from the collision between two being created for each other out of all time. When he left her, she called his name, he turned very slowly, tried to speak, but no sound came. "You can go now... and I can die happy. I know now that you will never, never forget me....


 

Arnaud had no idea as he left Catherine's cell, of the joy he was leaving behind him. She was no longer afraid to die. She let herself brought to a cart the next evening, an escort of bowmen surrounded the cortège. Catherine's eyes were like those of a sleepwalker. Her thoughts were no longer on Arnaud but on Michel and his last day. Her guards were arguing that they should hurry up, so they could watch the entrance of the maid Jeanne. Just then the bells of a church were heard - and Catherine felt herself stiffening with a sudden revolt. The instinct of self-preservation suddenly woke her up and she cried out: I don't want to die... I am innocent...innocent...!
Her voice was drowned in a deafening tumult. Windows were flung open and Catherine could see a military procession coming near. A rider on a white horse at the head of the procession and Catherine realized it was Joan the maid. With one hand she guided her horse and with the other she a white silk banner embroidered with the image of the Saviour, and by angels holding lilies in their hands. Behind the Maid, Catherine saw Jean d'Orleans, Xaintrailles, Gaucourt and many others. Arnaud was not admist them. Suddenly Joan's eyes fell upon her with a look of incredulity. She stopped her horse and wanted to know from Count Dunois, why they had wanted to send a poor woman to death the moment the city was liberated! Catherine was freed on command by Joan the Maid. She wanted to know Catherine's name. Mathilde Boucher came forward and said she would take take of the prisoner.
Catherine was brought to the house of Jacques Boucher, treasurer to the King. She was able to bath and a fine dress was given to her. Catherine looked out of the window and saw Joan approach with her captains. She recognized Arnaud de Montsalvy, who wore a gloomy and sorrow stamped all over his face.
The next morning she awoke because she heard someone swearing and screaming outside her lodging. An outraged Arnaud who roared that he had thought the "whore" was dead - but was instead an honored guest in this house. Just then Joan the maid had reached Arnaud de Montsalvy, she made him go down on his knees and ask God for forgiveness for searing like that. He went down on the gobble stones to mumble a short prayer. Catherine saw Jean de Xaintrailles and another captain, with name La Hire approaching Arnaud. They laughed seeing their friend on his knees. He took Xaintrailles arm saying: Joan could do what she liked with her. The best thing would be to send her to the Devil... but Xaintrailles said that would surprise him, but he smiled up to Catherine.
Catherine was fascinated by the Maid and she even forgot Arnaud from time to time. At night when there was a banquet at Mathilde Boucher's house, she encountered Xaintrailles in the hall. She told him she liked to talk to him and he agreed smiling. She thanked him that thanks to him, her treatment in prison was not so bad. He shrugged that away, saying she had helped them also at Arras. She said she thought that Arnaud hated her - yet Jean de Xaintrailles said Arnaud appeared to hate her, but he did not believe it. On the night she was to die he had got so drunk and had at the end cried like a child.
 He wanted to know if she still loved him. She said more than her life! He told her to be patient, that Arnaud had a strangely soft heart beneath that fearsome manner of his. The day would come where he would not be able to struggle against his love for her!
 The days went by and one night Arnaud came to her room, made love to her without saying one word. Catherine began to feel hope that Xaintrailles could be right after all! In May Count Dunois led a convoy of food to the people of Orleans. Joan and her captains left every day to go and fight the English.  She was alone with the Maid and said she wanted to join her. Joan smiled and said she would like her to stay with her, but Catherine was too beautiful and her captains were no angels!
 It would be better for her to return home, wheras Catherine said she did not want to return to Burgundy. Joan said she had an idea - why not go to Queen Yolande of the four Kingdoms. She would write her a letter and there she would find help and shelter. Catherine agreed to go the Queen, Brother Etienne had spoken so often about. The same day, while taken a walk she found her dearest Sara and Brother Etienne, entering the gate and the two women fell into each others arms...

On May at the precise moment when Joan of Arc was paying homage to her King on the road to Tours, Catherine, Sara and Brother Etienne reached Loches, where Queen Yolande, mother-in-law to Charles VII was to be found. Catherine thought finding her friend Sara again, was a sign from heaven, and nothing ill could befall her now. Sara and Brother Etienne were able to flee from the bandit Fortépice. Something strange happened when Sara met Joan of Arc. She fell into kind of a trance and was shaking all over. She behaved so strangely that Catherine, going to the courtyard, went over to Xaintrailles and begged him to take care of Joan, that she feared for Joan's life. Captain Xaintrailles smiled with his usual confidence: "Never fear, fair Catherine! No one, least of all the English, is going to snatch her away in the midst of her followers!" But despite this, Catherine had dark forebodings.
When they arrived at Loches, Brother Etienne went ahead and shortly returned to say the Queen was waiting her them! The Queen was very pleased to meet finally Madame de Brazey, Brother Etienne had spoken of so many times. That she knew that Brother Etienne and Odette de Champdivers owed their life’s to her. She welcomed Catherine and said a Royal court always had need of a pretty woman.
In no  time Catherine and Sara were given lodgings in the centre of the citiy - even clothes were given to them. A purse of gold sent to the new lady-in-waiting. A messenger was sent to Countess Ermengarde. Catherine sent her friend a letter, asking for her jewels and most of her possessions. The house which Catherine was given consisted only of four rooms but was lovely. Catherine made careful toilette, ready to receive Madame de Gaucourt, who wanted to visit her that night. She came but not alone, accompanied by a beautiful red-head. The lady was Countess Catherine de Trémoille, the wife of the Kings Grand Chamberlain Georges de la Trémoille. She greeted Catherine in a sign of extravagant joy and embraced her warmly. She said her husband and called her the "rose of Burgundy". Catherine had met her husband at Duke Philippe's court. Trémoille was a man of insatiable ambition, the taste of a satrap and his wife a fiery temper.
Catherine de Trémoille said she would present her to the King herself the next day and she would lend her one of her own dresses! Catherine thanked her politely, but Sara, said she should beware of the beautiful red-head - that she smiled honey but her eyes were cold and calculating. Catherine had no idea what the Countess wanted from her, but wanted to know if Sara could find out where Arnaud was lodged.
 The dress with Madame de la Trémoille sent the next morning was really very beautiful, though it was a bit gaudy for her taste. While she was dressing she heard the procession coming nearer, looking out of the window, she recognized Joan of Arc. Arnaud rode close behind her and next to him was Xaintrailles, La Hire and Jean d'Aulon. While the assembled people were entering the castle, Catherine suddenly felt a hand pull her back and she was face to face with Arnaud. Where did you get that dress, he wanted to know from her. She told him it was no of his concern. Arnaud told her that with wearing that dress, she seemed to belong to the supporters of La Trémoille - informing her that La Trémoille was Queen Yolande's deadliest enemy! Catherine flushed hotly, for having let herself fall into this trap and making her suspect again in Arnaud's eyes. He told her that this court here, was not better than the court at Burgundy - the same intrigues and that she should go and change her dress!  She went home that instant and changed her dress. When the Queen saw her approach she gave her a long approving look.
The same evening a big banquet was held in the Kings apartments - but Catherine did not want to go and returned to her house. She tried to go to bed, found no sleep and slipped on a cape and went out, in search of the lodging where Sara had told her Arnaud was. She was drawn irresistibly by the door and just when she about to put her hand on the knocker, she heard voices behind the door. She hid herself and saw the Dame de la Trémoille coming out the door. Catherine felt the first time the experience of raging jealousy which gives one the desire to scream and bite all at once! Now she understood because he did not want her to wear the dress - Catherine de la Trémoille was his mistress! She came out of her hiding place and wanted only to go home and join Errmengarde in Burgundy! Just then she was attacked by two drunken men who seized her around her waist. She gave way to instinct and called Arnaud's name. Her two attackers paused for a moment, when a window opened and a black form sprang down into the street, sword in hand. Catherine was freed and he wanted to know what she was doing here... she said she was going for a walk and wanted to see Joan...! And she told him she understood why he had not gone also to the banquet and why he did not want her to wear that dress. He told her to say no names and he would take her home now...while they walked side by side, she wanted to know from him whom he loved. But he said it was no concern of hers, but he supposed he should give her an answer - and it was NO ONE. She talked to him about love and Michel and that was the moment Arnaud talked to her in a strangled sob. Saying how much he had loved his brother and that her people had killed him, and that she did not understand. When she said she did and she had seen him. At that he lost his temper and said he felt like strangling her if she weren't a woman he would have done that long ago! Tears  rolled down Catherine's face and she said: don't wait then. Kill me now, better than your injustice. Just then they saw a fire and they ran towards the place where cries were coming from.
 Catherine told Arnaud it was her house and that Sara was in there. Arnaud ran into the house and saved Sara from burning. He said that someone had laid wisps of straw and tree torches under the stairs. That she had now a great enemy in Catherine de la Trémoille, who never forgave the slightest wound to her pride. He told her he had no right to love her, because the souls of his ancestor’s would rise up and condemn him - but he had the right to make sure she was save. He told her to ask Queen Yolande, to send her to Queen Marie her daughter at Bourges. He would be able to fight better, took her in his arms and kissed her long and passionately and ran off as fast his feet could carry him...


 

Queen Yolande allowed Catherine to go to her daughter in Bourges.  Queen Marie received Catherine graciously and forgot instantly about her. Catherine became lady-in-waiting to her. One day she told Sara if she had to stay here much longer she would either end up in a convent or throw herself into the nearest river. She had never been so bored...Ermengarde had sent on her clothes, jewels and a large sum of money. Telling her in a letter, that her mother and uncle were well, that the Duke had seized back her château and that he wanted to know from Ermengarde where Catherine was.
Months later Catherine saw Joan again who was hardly recognizable, she seemed so sad and crestfallen. She had been wounded she told Catherine and had been forced to leave Paris and retreat up to Loire "for wintering". She had wanted to go close to the city and press for victory.  But la Trémoille had advised against it. He hated Joan and Catherine could not understand why the King listened to this arrogant pot-belly! Catherine asked her how Messire de Montsalvy was and Joan's face brightened to say he was well and that she had left him at Compiègne. Arnaud was responsible for keeping an eye on Sire de Flavy. Winter passed. Spring returned and with it the time for battle again. Joan was bursting with impatience to be off and hearing that Philippe of Burgundy was besieging Compiègne, she set of one morning with a handful of men.
One evening toward the end of May, Catherine was sent by Queen Marie to Maître Jacques Coeurs house. Catherine had been introduced the the Coeurs by Marguerite de Culant. They were young and helpful and had five lovely children. She enjoyed playing with the children and liked chatting with the gentle Macée Coeur. On her road to the Coeurs on horse,a horse had overtaken her and barred her way. The rider wore a suit of bloodstained armour, thick with grey dust. She recognized Jean de Xaintrailles with a shock of surprise. She held out her hand with a smile but the Captain merely said: They told me at the palace I should find you here. Catherine sensed that something was wrong. She wanted to know what terrible news Xaintrailles had for her. He admitted that Arnaud was gravely wounded... Joan taken prisoner by the Burgundians and that he had to take her back with him. He told her they must go this instant, Arnaud may not be alive hen they got there!
She said she would follow him and an hour later, Catherine, Sara and Xaintrailles left Bourges. Catherine and Sara were dressed once again in men's clothes and Catherine carried a heavy casket on her saddle, into which she had put gold, jewels and amongst them the black diamond.
It was a terrible, gruelling ride. They galloped till the horses were ready to drop. Xaintraillles bought new horses for them; he himself ate in the saddle. He seemed to be made of solid steel. Apparently nothing affected this incredibly brave man. After three days they were there. Xaintrailles did not know yet if the enemy had seized the town of Compiègne. He wanted Catherine to wait but she cried, where he would go, she would go! They learned that Arnaud was still alive and brought to a Monastery. They arrived at the Abbey and found Arnaud still alive...The monk told them Arnaud was in great pain and had difficulty with breathing. He was pale as wax and Catherine was too overcome with speak. She sank to her knees by the bed. Arnaud opened his eyes and settled on his friend. "Jean! he breathed. You came back! Is...yes murmured Xaintrailles. She is here. Arnaud turned and an expression of intense joy spread over Arnaud's face. He thanked her for coming - but she interupted him, saying he must have known she would come to the ends of earth for him. But he said it was not for him...he was dying and he explained to Catherine, that she must go to Philippe of Burgundy...who had captured Joan. She was Jean de Luxembourg's prisoner. That she, Catherine, was the only person who could win this war, because the Duke loved her! A sob broke from her, saying that Arnaud must not believe that...that the Duke no longer loved her...Arnaud's face darkened with anger and he tried to raise himself in bed but fell back with a groan. Now it was Xaintrailles who told Catherine she was wrong. The hold over the Duke was as great as ever. Philippe had wed the Infanta Isabel and had founded a new order of chivalry, a fabulously wealthy one and it was called: The Order of the Golden Fleece. No one was in doubt why he chose that name. Her power over him was intact and she must go and try to save Joan. Arnaud had listened to all Xaintrailles had said, had not even looked at Catherine and said: „You must go, it is our last chance!" But she beseeched him; do not aks that of me...not you! He looked at her now, saying "I do ask it of you because you are the only one...whom Philippe will listen to... and because Joan...was more important to France...than her or him! She cried in agony that she loved him and she would die for him - yet he asked her to go back to Philippe! And that she had thought that he loved her just a little...Arnaud closed his eyes and said: None of that matters...Joan... Joan...nothing else.
Xaintrailles laid a hand on Catherine's shoulder and whispered that Arnaud was now too tired. Catherine looked at him and flashed him a look of burning resentment. Saying that he Xaintrailles had decieved her brutally! Whereas Xaintrailles said no that was not true. He merely had said Arnaud had asked for her and she must understand that to them, her brother-in-arms, Joan was more important than anything else as Arnaud had said. That it was imperative that someone goes to Philippe of Burgundy and reminded him that he was first and foremost a French Prince.The English already ordered that Joan be handed over to them. Catherine moaned that Xaintrailles had said to her Arnaud loved her. And I still say so, he answered her! But he loves his country more! He would sell his own sister to Philippe to save Joan of Arc. That he understood what a sacrifice they were asking her!  And if the Duke did not listen to her, he would not listen to anyone!
Catherine gave a deep sigh. She could see the captains point of view - but she said the Duke was a chivalrous knight. He would never hand over the Maid to the English. Xaintrailles said he was not sure of that. At last Catherine agreed, she was weary unto death, but she followed Xaintrailles. He went up into the monastery bell tower and he showed her Margny Camp, where she would have to go...







...a suivre

Synopsis par Linda




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