Excerpts

Taking the Cross alternates by chapter between the two main characters, Andreas and Eva. These excerpts are an introduction to Andreas and Eva and the historical setting in which they live.

Historical Note

In June 1209, a crusading army assembled at Lyons, France. Its charge was to purge heretics from a Christian realm of France known as the Languedoc (Lan-gwuh-dock). It was the first crusading force raised solely to invade Christian lands. The members of the warring host bore a scarlet cross upon their garments, a symbol of the papal promise to pardon their sins. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) desired to grow the power of the Catholic Church throughout Christendom.

The endeavor became known as the Albigensian Crusade. Two factions were its target. Read more…

Andreas

18 July, 1209

The boy did not recoil at the charge of the cavaliers.

“Make way!” Andreas drove his snorting stallion toward the courageous youth. The filthy wretch trudged toward the charging cavalier, one barefoot step after the other. He was unflinchingly alone. All other refugees crowded in road ditches, leaned toward the trees, clutching them tightly.

“Make way for the Viscount!” Andreas called as a stone unleashed from a catapult. He was accustomed to having others move with speed at his commands, as if a boulder soared down upon their heads. Andreas waved his arm furiously, gesturing toward the tree line.

Still the boy plodded along the road with uncovered feet, skin on rock. A darkened mist seemed to enshroud his very soul. Since cockcrow, when their company had made departure from Beziers, Andreas had commanded all in their path to flee the road. Each traveler and refugee, whether merchant in dyed cotton or peasant in beast-colored rags, had given deference to their noble party as expected. A wide berth to fly along the road without hindrance.

Yet a little child refused to yield. Read more…

Eva

18 July, 1209

Eva was happy to see the painted wicker basket was almost cram-full. The fruit of one more tree would complete the day’s bounty. The hollow rumbling in her belly gave reminder that the midday meal was swiftly approaching. She could afford to indulge her appetite with one pear at least.

Setting down the basket, she plopped herself unceremoniously on the ground. Not a soul stood within sight. Snatching the most attractive pear from the mounding pile, she bit into the fleshy fruit. A single drop of its juice dribbled lazily down her chin, clinging to her jawline. She allowed the drop to plunge to the grass below. What a blessing to have solitude this morn.

It was hot. The breeze floated lazily across the bluff, a welcome respite from the fiery white of the late morning Provençal sun. The wind gently prodded the oblong, pointed leaves of the pyramid-shaped, evenly spaced pear trees into subtle movement, swaying the flimsy tops back and forth. The leaves rubbed together in cadence, like an orderly, slow-moving chain dance in a massive open hall. Eva leaned back her uncowled head, allowed her dark brown hair to fall to the middle of her back, shut her expansive, rounded eyes of the same color, and listened to the motion of leaf and branch. The sound was restful, tranquil, like her orchard.

Her very orchard. Read more…


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