Word Count 499
By Sharon Collins
Chapter 6: Sisters
Walking along late spring byways, bursting with riotous color, the bishop and his little flock continued their dangerous journey. Each evening found them settled at an inn where neither Père Jean’s authority nor bottomless purse were questioned, and the girls had a bed to share every night.. As the saying goes, “Misery loves company.” The five grew closer as they shared in an abundance of both.
Two weeks into their trek, inquisitive Lisette, discovered that Hèléne and Marie-Claude were twins, sent to study with Geneviève’s Parfaite Grand-mère. They had arrived just before the siege of Montsegur began. Like Geneviève, they had a grandmother whose dreams were haunted by the Holy Army of Pope Innocent III. Only her dreams were of pikes and swords, and the cruel words,” Kill them all. God will know his own… ” Like Geneviève’s Grand-mère, she too had been away from her home of Béziers when it was sacked. Thus on July 22, 1209, she too had been spared.
Surrendering to her unquenchable curiosity, Lisette finally quipped, “I cannot believe they are sisters let alone twins! Except for their milk-white skin, they look nothing alike. How can one twin have red hair and the other have blonde?” Geneviève, at a loss to explain, shrugged and whispered, “C’est la vie.” Giggling, they proceeded to eavesdrop on the two who were, as usual, taunting each other. Hélène was trying to practice her Latin, as she always did whenever they stopped to eat. And Marie-Claude was trying, as she always did, to get her sister to help prepare their midday meal of crusty bread and watered wine.
“Hèléne, put away that book! I am the eldest; you must abide! Come! Help! Me! Now! ” Marie-Claude ordered her younger sister of barely ten minutes. With each command, she attempted to snatch away the little prayer book given to them by Père Jean. Each time she missed, she stamped her foot raising clouds of dust. Hèléne nimbly danced just out of reach, holding the precious book above her head. Round and round her indignant sister she laughed and twirled.
While Geneviève was the de-facto leader of their little band, Marie-Claude was the self-acknowledged mother hen. Taking this responsibility seriously, she thought it highly unseemly that her sister preferred reading over domestic duties and complained frequently to Père Jean. He calmed her ire with the same scriptural reference each and every time. Taking Marie-Claude’s hands in his, he would say, “Ma petite colombe, our very own Martha, your sister, like Mary, has chosen the better part…let her learn all she can while she may.” Marie-Claude loved the comparison to Martha, the dependable, elder sister and was instantly soothed. Hèléne was equally pleased by her comparison to the willful Mary. Their squabbling settled, smiles of sisterhood returned. Of course the biggest smile of all was Père Jean’s, as he knew just how apt his comparison to the Biblical pair truly was. ‘Blood will always tell,’ he thought with satisfaction, ‘especially this blood.’