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Henri de Ceredigion

Chapter Two: To Market, To Market (Chapitre deux: Mettre sur le marché, sur le marché)
The following day Henri mounted his trusty steed and with a bellow of “YAH!” he was soon galloping through the streets of Paris heading towards the market. In his pocket was a list of the ingredients that he and Planchet had chosen for the meal along with several coins that he hoped would be enough to pay for all the food needed.

Although not as cold as the previous day, by the time Henri arrived at the market, his face was red from the cold but as he dismounted his horse, Robert, the miller who Henri bought all his flour from instantly recognised him and said with a cheery smile, “Bonjour Henri, good ride?”

Henri nodded and took out the list from his pocket and looked down it. Each part of the meal had been broken down into its component parts and Henri would add up each bit of the meal in his head so as he announced “One and a half livres of your finest flour, Monsieur!” he knew that that way he would have a little left over just in case.

Robert, smacked his lips and said “Monsieur, you shall have the best flour in Paris” and with that he started to fill a small bag, all the time commenting on how the flour was made from the finest wheat in France, was milled using the finest stones in France by the miller who had been awarded several accolades for his work and as he handed Henri the bag he added “and I now present it to the finest gentleman in Paris” and with that bowed.

Henri’s redness from his ride had disappeared but was now replaced by redness from blushing. He was not used to all this praise being heaped upon him, he was just doing what he had been asked to do in his usual polite manner proven by giving the miller a little bit more than the cost of the flour and saying “Consider this a Christmas bonus, monsieur”. Robert bowed again and as Henri made his way to the next stall he called “A bientot, Mon Amis!”

The rest of the morning was spent in a similar manner ordering all the ingredients needed for the feast, interrupted only by Henri carrying them when he began to become overburdened and loading them onto his steed. However on one trip back, someone tapped him on the shoulder.

“Just a moment” replied Henri as he hefted some shin of beef onto his horse and not being anything like as big or as strong as Porthos it wasn’t the easiest of tasks who when the person tapped him again, Henri was less than impressed.

“Can’t you see I’m busy?” he snapped in an uncharacteristic manner but the person refused to stop and so Henri, holding the beef as if he was holding a baby spun round and was about to bellow “What is it?” when he froze. There in front of him was Jussac, captain of the Cardinal’s guardsmen and Henri’s sworn enemy.

Shortly after saving the Queen’s blushes, he’d been given the rest of the day off and so was walking around the streets of Paris when a handkerchief fell out of a carriage. Being ever the gentleman, Henri gave chase and returned the item to a lady who looked more beautiful that even the Queen, but that beauty was a trap.

The person was Milady de Winter and she drugged Henri to make him her slave. When Henri woke up the following morning, he was in the Bastille charged with attempted regicide as whilst under the influence of the drug, he had made his way to the palace and made an attempt on the Queen’s life.

It had been foiled at the last minute by Porthos who found himself torn between defending his monarch and his friendship with the cadet but had no choice but to punch the young man so hard that he flew out of the Queen’s chamber and dropped to the floor some fifty feet lower. Aramis reasoned that the drug was the reason that Henri survived and when it came to light that Jussac was behind the whole scheme to discredit the Musketeers, Henri swore that the next time they met one of them would die and so as the two enemies eyed each other, Henri knew that laden with the beef he was the one likely to die.

“So” said Jussac, his hand on his sword, “we meet again Henri!”

“Indeed we do” said Henri, his eyes narrowing

“Another one of your English imports?” Jussac asked, noting the beef.

“I told you then” replied Henri, “as I tell you now. The idea of remembering those fallen Musketeers could and should have been made into a ceremony to remember those guardsmen who fell in battle” as he remembered how a spy had informed the Cardinal of his research into fallen Musketeers in order to mark their passing at a ceremony that the King commanded to be held each year.

“I have come” continued Jussac, “to bring a message”

“And I am ready to accept it” replied Henri, his body tensing, “but believe that the message will be your epitaph!”

Suddenly Jussac pulled something out of his pocket and Henri, assuming it was a knife jumped back a few steps and was about to snarl his anger when he suddenly realised that it wasn’t a knife but what looked like a card. Shouldering the beef, he took the card fr0m Jussac and read the contents.

“This month” the message read, “is a month of peace to all men, be they living in the moors or the fen, and so I wish to say to you, Joyeux Noel and god speed too!”

As Henri looked up in disbelief, Jussac doffed his hat and as he came up he replied “You are still my enemy, Henri De Ceredigion, but when you serve a master as myself, you respect his wishes” and with that he turned and walked away.

Henri turned to his horse who whinnied as if to say “Well don’t ask me what all that was about!” and as Henri loaded the beef onto his steed and mounted him, the two trotted back home wondering if the time of year was more than just eating, drinking and making merry with your friends.