1614: i

Gilles went through the motions of everyday monastic life. Simultaneously, he cursed the tediousness of purgatory and prayed that his authenticity as a Capuchin was never questioned. He was not a monk, nor had any interest in being one, but there were certain interested individuals seeking information about the political climate of Brussels and the disguise had been chosen. The weight of everything that entailed had not been considered.

Forces in the area were being raised against the Spanish. Certain nobles were making moves, garnering support for a larger movement of Huguenots. At least that was the rumor. Gilles had spent over a year and half trying to prove or disprove it. Meanwhile France and Spain were attempting to cement their relationship with the marriage of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria and Élisabeth of France to Phillip IV of Spain.

Gilles’ mission was not going well. He couldn’t intercept any information. Messages seemed to pass through secret agents and chamber maids. He failed to identify the agents and the woman held their tongues in the presence of a monk requesting alms. He sent reports of miniscule information back to his patron and always hoped for a summons to return to Paris in reply, but it never came.

When he grew weary of his task, his thoughts strayed to a seemingly irrelevant piece of information. It was an irritating riddle and he slowly worked at it like a stubborn knot as if it might finally reveal its importance. The key element was in a convent not far from his current lodgings. A child, an illegitimate one about who it was whispered to be noble enough, but whose existence had been hidden by her mother, a faithful Catholic, from the Huguenot leanings of her lover. The mistress had passed quietly not long after the birth. The mistress’s loyal servant, a French woman, joined the nuns and dedicated her life to the care of the child. It was trivial gossip, but Gilles kept thinking on it.

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