Chapter 63: The Little Spy
“No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence.”
T. S. Eliot
Galway, September 4, 1082
“We just should be evaluating our situation Bertrand, that’s all.”
Sighing, Raymond de Toulouse tossed the stick he had been witling into the fire in front of him, “And just what is our situation?”
Gisulf was sitting on the other side of the fire pit, and the dark circles under his eyes indicated his lack of sleep. “Both of us joined the same crusade. An army of our Christian brothers has arrived in the east, and it is starting to move. We will move soon, right into a pitched battle. Hammud will be lucky to encounter an opponent of the same strength.”
“Where are you going with this, Gisulf?”
“Because of our unique situation, we have to start planning for any eventuality,” Gisulf answered. “What if Hammud loses? What happens to us when the others find us among these heathens?”
Raymond had never given much thought to this, but Gisulf did have a point. Bran and Ailleann must have similar apprehensions, he mused.
“We can’t look like we are in league with Hammud,” Gisulf went on. “It would look very bad for us if we appear to be aiding him.”
“What is it that you’re planning,” Raymond asked, although he already knew.
“We have to escape before we’re captured. If -”
Hearing a sound in the nearby bushes, Raymond interrupted the Venetian, “Quiet!” Slowly, he crept over to the bushes. “I know you’re in there. Come out or I’ll drag you out myself!” Cautiously, a head poked out of the greenery. His eyes widened a little when he realized who it was, “Ailleann?”
“The little spy,” he heard Gisulf growl as the politician get up. “She was listening in!”
Raymond put away his knife, which he had barely realized he’d drawn, and smiled a little, “I doubt she will be much trouble.” He turned back to his fuming comrade, “I don’t think she can tell anyone.”
While his back was turned, he heard a soft, timid voice say, “I promise, I won’t.” Raymond, taken completely by surprise, spun back around. Bran’s daughter, stepping out of the bush, was brushing burs of herself, “I won’t tell anyone.”
“How, exactly, do you know how to speak Occitan,” he finally managed to ask.
“The general taught me. I asked him to.” Ailleann replied. Raymond was not aware Hammud had done so, and it put him at severe unease. Could she in fact be a spy?
“Ailleann, listen to me,” Raymond said, “and I need you to listen very carefully. You must not speak a word of what you’ve heard tonight. You can’t tell your father, General Hammud, or anyone about what me and my friend here are planning. If you do, Hammud could put the two us to death. You don’t want that, do you?”
“No,” she answered, smiling a little, “I don’t.”
Raymond didn’t remember seeing her smile before, so he took it as a good sign, “I just need to know if I can trust you with our lives.”
“I won’t tell a soul. I promise”