Blood on the Sand

Blood on the Sand by Michael Jecks

Book: Blood on the Sand by Michael Jecks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Jecks
was a man with a lot of authority,’ Grandarse chuckled. He took his seat on a stool and leaned back against the wall, drawing his belt down below his paunch so it
didn’t cut into his belly. ‘You want to know what I’ve heard? I’ve heard he’s the captain of the French fleet – the most important Genoese in the whole of
France. And he let you go.’
    Berenger heard the slight note of enquiry. ‘What of it? He said his honour was stained by the treatment they were threatening to use on us.’
    ‘But it’s odd that the French should have let you get away so easily. Perhaps they
wanted
you to think you were escaping?’
    ‘Nah. They had no thought of that,’ Berenger said flatly. ‘You didn’t see the bodies of the two shipmen they killed.’ He shuddered at the memory.
    ‘Well, what other reason could there be? Some might reckon it was a case of “you give us something and we’ll let you go” – got me?’
    Grandarse was peering at him, the picture of genial good nature, but Berenger saw his eyes glitter. He was watching to see how Berenger would react.
    ‘We told them nothing. Nothing at all. It was because we refused that we were about to be taken away to be blinded,’ he said.
    ‘Good! Good. I’m glad to hear it. Then there’s nothing for us to worry about. Because if one of your men
had
given away the layout of our camp, the French might realise
that we are weak in some areas. They might consider it possible that they could send ships into Calais and ballocks up our siege. They could come and attack us at any time, couldn’t
they?’
    He rose and stared down at Berenger. ‘
I
don’t believe that sort of thing, Frip – you know that. But others may. You keep the men alert, just in case. We don’t want
any accidents happening to your men here during the siege.’
    Berenger nodded as Grandarse left the group, waddling and giving cheery farewells to the rest of the men, but some yards away, Berenger saw him turn and cast a glance his way before disappearing
into the night.
    There were two things Grandarse would not tolerate: any man who smacked of bad luck who could bring danger to the centaine, and a man who would betray his comrades. Either would be sure to die
quickly in the dark of an alley or a low alehouse.
    Berenger considered for a moment, then allocated men to keep watch through the night. Although they grumbled, he was insistent.
    ‘I am glad you returned safely,’ the Vidame said.
    His spy drained his cup of wine and poured another. There was a shake in his hand as he measured out his drink. He pointedly ignored the Vidame’s empty mazer. ‘I am not only glad, I
am astonished.’
    They were in a large tavern, with many English archers and warriors drinking and singing, but at the rear of the chamber they had relative peace. Speaking in low voices, so no one could overhear
them, both kept watching the crowds for a curious person who might speak of their meeting.
    ‘What is so surprising?’
    ‘They were going to
kill
me, Vidame! How ironic would that be? To be slain by my own people, merely for want of a sign that I should be protected.’
    ‘Is that why you wished to see me?’
    ‘You think I would entrust such a message to a boy?’
    ‘I would hope not. Calm yourself, man.’
    The spy stared about him. ‘This life is growing too difficult, Vidame. I’m as keen as any to help the King’s efforts, but not at the risk of having my own neck
stretched.’
    ‘You forget yourself, my friend. The important thing here is the defence of France and the kingdom. Individuals will die, it is certain, but that is sometimes necessary for the good of
all.’
    ‘Those are fine words,’ the spy said, ‘when spoken by the man who takes fewest risks.’
    The Vidame smiled and looked at the spy. ‘Do you really have so little faith? By my actions I shall be forced to suffer the worst torments the English can contrive.’
    ‘Very well.’
    ‘You do not believe me?’
    ‘I trust

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