Nov 132011
 

Extract from the fictional Journal of Phillipe de Saint-Claire – translated from the ancient Occitan language into modern English. Phillipe hides the bamboo tubes and walls up the small cave.

 

The next morning we were up at an early hour. With Raymonde leading the way to ensure that we were not surprised and discovered, I carried the precious treasure to the store-room. Fortunately we encountered no other person on the way. We closed the door behind us and secreted the tubes in the shallow cave we had found, laying them on a bed of small stones in case any moisture should enter the cave, so that it could drain away without damaging or penetrating the tubes, which in any case were wrapped and waxed and sealed as I have previously described.

We then rebuilt the wall from the larger stones we had removed. This took the two of us a long time, particularly to firmly hammer back into place the stones below the timber floor of the room above. This floor of course formed the ceiling of our store room. We also pressed in a number of small stones between the large ones, using the mallet and the mattock to force them tight. By the time we had carefully finished reconstructing the whole of the wall in this way I felt assured that it would withstand the passage of time and would only be removed by the purposeful action of men who might wish to demolish it. I was hopeful that in such a remote location it would not be discovered except by persons directed to it by the Convocation of perfecti.

Using the barrels we removed almost all the resulting rubble from the floor of the room and distributed it in one of the courtyards of the castle, returning with soil which we rubbed into the face of the wall and spread about the floor in an attempt to disguise our activities of the last two days. Thus, weary from all our unaccustomed labours, we repaired to my chamber, ate a hearty meal and collapsed into our truckle beds.

When we awoke next morning it was to receive the alarming news that a messenger had arrived bearing tidings of the tragic happenings at Montségur. The man told us that all the remaining Cathar occupants of the castle, being more than two hundred souls, had marched out together to surrender their persons to the French besiegers. They had then been invited to forswear their heresy as the Church of Rome would have it. Not one of them had weakened and all had continued to swear their belief in the Cathar faith. As a result they had all been herded into a large timber stockade filled with firewood well soaked in animal fat. This had been set alight and every last one of them had died on that dreadful pyre, suffering terrible torment, and even then none had recanted in order to survive. Then the French seneschal, Hugues des Arcis declared that the Cathar faith was at an end and that any remaining adherents to the faith were to be sought out and burned at the stake.

Thus I, a mere lad of sixteen years, but a perfectus of the Cathar faith, was faced with a dreadful dilemma. I expected that some of the besiegers of Montségur, being cleverer than most and becoming aware that four of us had escaped the funeral pyre of the Cathars, would set up a hue and cry to discover our whereabouts and recover the treasure. Therefore, reflecting upon my position, I decided that it was my duty to escape my pursuers.

 

The photo shows the overgrown hillside at le Bézu. I will continue the journal next week.