Saint Cecilia's Sisters of the Sacred Sibilance
The St Cecilia Sisters of Sacred Sibilance on the outskirts of the Foret De Fontainbleu. Conveniently close to Paris the priory serves as a retirement home for the unwanted dowagers, unmarried sisters and forgotten widows of the aristocracy. The current prioress used to be a mistress of old King Henry of Navarre himself.
Across the road the Auberge Galliard fulfils the priory's duty of hospitality to travellers
The Auberge offers strong wine and good rustic food on the ground floor while up above the ladies of negotiable affection offer a less spiritual form of comfort than that provided across the road.
Today Alice D'Artagnan has brought his lady, Constance Bonacieux, out for a day away from her husband. He and his companions, Bathos and Pathos, are escorting their comrade Chanel who has an appointment with his religious mentor.
Leaving his comrades to enjoy themselves a cloaked Chanel, who plans some day to enter the priesthood, guides his horse quietly along the convent wall... the soul of discretion.
Which is more than can be said for the stranger who arrives shortly after, speaking Franglaise and demanding directions to the priory side-gate, waving a boisterous farewell and doffing like a true gentleman when D'Artagnan points him the way.
The inn returns briefly to its business
Next comes an unmarked coach and a masqued lady led within by the prioress - but Constance Bonacieux is the royal dressmaker and has no trouble recognising that imperious profile - it's Anne of Austria, the Queen herself!
Unfortunately the musketeers and Constance are not the only ones taking an interest - that cowled figure behind is none other than Milady D'Lateautumn, agent of the Cardinal and no friend to Her Majesty!!!
Once more the inn gets back about its own affairs
Until another unmarked coach arrives - but no confusion now about the occupant. It is Armand Duplessis, Cardinal D'Richelieu, jilted suitor of Queen Anne and now determined to catch her with her lover - the Duke of Buckingham!
Buckingham's horse is discovered and the side-gate sealed.
The Cardinal bursts into the convent, his lackeys, Rochefort and Milady, at his heels, the sweet smell of triumph in his nostrils and his minions at his back.
Bathos fires a warning pistol shot, drawing the attention of the Cardinal's Guards and Rochefort - there is no way these ruffians can be allowed to capture either Chanel or The Queen
Warned just in time Buckingham grabs his hat and pantaloons and gets out one step ahead
Outside it's soon business as usual - will these redcoats never learn? Three-to-one is just a target rich environment for these boys!
While the englishman continues to run - mostly in circles.
Until he spots Chanel who, told of the Queen's liaison by the Prioress, is as determined as his comrades to thwart the Cardinal
Leading the way to the Prioress' private gate Chanel thrusts the Duke through then turns to discuss matters with his pursuers. Helping himself to the musketeer's horse the Englishman is off with a fond farewell. The Prioress meanwhile must go in search of her Queen and her clothing - though not necessarily in that order.
Seeing Buckingham break from the woods and gallop away down the Paris road the musketeers run for their own mounts and spur after him, Constance pulling a cart into the path of the pursuit as D'Artagnan rears his mount and waves Rochefort au revoir - for they will surely meet again!
Leaving Chanel to slip away on foot - muttering quietly about the trustworthiness of the English!
Informed that the musketeers have frustrated his encirclement and now the bird has flown the Cardinal must swallow his anger while the nuns treat him to a rendition of the Te Deum by the priory orphans.
But what, I hear you yawn, of Her Majesty? Well, one cournetted Sacred Sister looks much like another and not even the Cardinal would dare unfrock them all. So, while the orphans sing, the Prioress sees her to a waiting horse. Naturally Dribble the Doberman has to show up, which explains at least one of the Prioress' grubby little habits .
And so we bid our own adieu to Alice, the auberge and the Sacred Sisters.
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