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A Convenient Solution

Chapter 1
1308 – Troyes, Kingdom of France………
The old man sitting before the exquisitely carved oak table
took a deep breath – his pen poised over the official
parchment before him. Beside it sat a small purse of coins.
It was a reasonable price given the gift at his disposal. He
ran his hand through thinning grey hair, his heavy, pouched
eyes straining to make out the characters on the page. His
name was Guichard, and he was the current Bishop of
Troyes – an important appointment by most people‘s
reckoning. But his greatest disappointment was the
contempt in which he was held by his townspeople. He
looked at the purse again, and then slowly tipped its
contents onto the table. Twelve coins. What was that,
really? Compared to the post he was giving, it was
nothing. The recipient would be set for life - as would his
family. What price could you put on that? And his enemies
accused him of simony! Well, they could call it what they
liked – those ill-bred, uneducated buffoons. He was the
Bishop, and he was far from being the only churchman in
Christendom to do it. In fact, it would be considered
arrogant of him not to. Besides - his decision was God‘s
decision. Anyone who challenged that was a heretic.
He stood slowly, his back bent from the pain in his
joints and his knees stiff from sitting too long at his table.
As the sun came out from behind a cloud it cast a beam
through the Palace window and onto the Bishop's face. He
looked out at the unfinished apse of his Cathedral, another
irritation to add to his woes. It was a sorry state of affairs
for a Bishopric of this standing. Nearly one hundred years
of building – including the setback of the Great Storm in
1228 – and still it was incomplete!
He leant forward on the windowsill so that he could see
whether anyone was working below. Pulleys, ropes,
scaffolding, cranes, mortar buckets, masonry and tools of
all kinds desecrated the site. A frown crossed the Bishop‘s