Interesting, I think. I didn’t know there were Ninjas in 17th Century France.
“Qui êtes- vous?” I say. It’s a kind of basic question I’ve asked before, but as I’m seeing, it’s generally a question worth asking.
“Je m’appelle Christine,” says a voice in halting French.
So, this is the other Christine, I think.
The ninja takes off her hood.
She’s a very beautiful woman, who does indeed look Japanese.
“Qu’est-ce que vous faites ici?” I say. I’m on a roll with asking the obvious.
“Et vous..”, she says, pointing at my outfit. “A bishop who is really a woman? That too is a mystery. “
I like her.
François strides over and kisses her. Which makes me feel jealous. Although how I can be jealous of a couple in the 17th Century doesn’t entirely make sense to me.
And of which one of them? That’s the more complex part. Because he is beautiful. But so is she.
She pushes him away.
“Écoute,” she says. So we wait – the 5 of us, listening.
“Maintenant,” she decides. I stand up and turn to how we came in.
“Not the front door.” Christine puts her hood back on and climbs out the window.
The three other ninjas follow, then François, the godmother next, and then me.
“Do you have the blankets?” she whispers to the godmother. “Oui” is the answer.
I climb out in my bishop costume and I’m back in a dark alley.
Quickly, the other Christine says to us. She leads us around a corner to a stable.
6 horses snuffle in the darkness.
They get on their horses easily.
I look at mine hesitantly. I took riding a long time ago at summer camp.
“Vite!” says Christine, and I realize it’s time to remember riding.
I manage to climb up on my horse.
“How do I make him go?” I say.
François says “we’ll put you in the middle. She will follow the others.”
And she does. FAST.
I bounce like hell, and almost fall off. I remember getting as far as cantering at summer camp. This feels like galloping and I just try to hold on, my bare legs on either side of the horses flank, as my robe flaps around me. My legs start to chafe but I don’t want to let go.
We ride for a long way, it seems to me. The city fades away and the horses hooves pound on a dark road.
Then I hear a rushing noise.
In the distance, bonfires.
“Voilà,” says Christine. They halt, so my horse stops too.
They get down easily. I sort of fall off my horse, though I land on my feet.
I smell the air.
We’re at the frigging beach at Palavas. I remember going there just a week or so ago.
“Pourquoi la plage?” I say –but François puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Let’s go,” he says.
We tie the horses up, or rather they do since I’m sort of staggering, sore and stiff from the ride, and we walk to the seashore where the fires are lit.
Odd huddles of people are there sitting on the sand waiting for something.
Someone lights torches and you can see a sort of semi-circle marked off by stones.
One of the ninjas comes out in front of the crowd, bows, and beats two sticks together, a strange stringed instrument tunes itself and starts to play… like an off key guitar.
Someone is chanting in Japanese.
No, I think….
They are saying something in Latin…
to be continued…