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Tragedies


Strange quirks of history

MANDU THE SULTAN AND THE DANCER

Not far from Maheshwar, Mandu was the capital of a vast and extremely wealthy Islamic sultanate. In the 14th century, it was the biggest city in India with a million inhabitants. One of the sultans had returned from a trip to Africa with 150,000 baobab saplings. With their strange, unique forms, they still stand proudly…

Patmos: The Sailor, Innocent Victim

As our caïque neared the coast, I was lost in contemplation of the magnificent Patmian countryside before me. The beach was bordered with old tamaris trees, forming a perfect semicircle. Behind, green fields extended to the foot of the rocky hills. A white peasant home stood at the far end of the beach. It once…

Vaya con Dios

Tatiana Metternich, Princess Metternich, formerly the Russian born Princess Vassiltchikov, was one of the grandest ladies I have ever known. Beautiful, courteous, an aristocrat to the bone, with her sleek blue eyes she was the epitome of a class that no longer exists. When I think of her, I am reminded of one particular anecdote…

Abelard & Heloise

I was familiar with the general outline of this 12th century tragic love story, but it was our painter friend Jean who brought to my attention the truly extraordinary nature of these two characters. Abelard is one of the most important intellectuals of the Middle Ages, a true giant of Medieval thought. A philosopher and…

The Curse of Joan of Arc

When I was 10 years old, my mother forced me to learn horseback riding. Every Thursday afternoon I went to the stables for my lessons. I hated it. The stables belonged to the Duchess of L. She was in her eighties and always rode sidesaddle, perfectly erect and wearing an elegant black tricorn hat. Her…

The Curse of Lord Fiereford

I once visited the Fiereford’s château in Ireland. It is a baroque masterpiece, surrounded by sumptuous gardens. Still, there is something sinister lingering about the grounds, negative waves and energy. Lord Fiereford himself was rather burly, and, to be frank, neither welcoming nor pleasant. Generations earlier, during the 18th century, his ancestor had come face…

Patmos : The Body in the Straw Basket

I didn’t stay long at the Patmian cocktail party. I was bored, but more so I didn’t like the house. It’s a beautiful home, rather old, decorated with great care, filled with precious objects and surrounded by an enchanting garden. Yet, I felt uneasy there. I returned home to find Maria in the kitchen. I told her…

Melusine

My friend Jean once told me a story about a friend of his, an architect. The friend had been invited by an acquaintance to his castle in Poitou. Upon arriving, he found a very old fortress that had been restored with great care and without altering the architecture one bit. The architect learned from his…

The Tragic Dream of Cawnpore

In the middle of the 19th century, a young English bride was haunted by a recurring nightmare. She found herself in an unknown city, it what appeared to be a foreign land. Riots were breaking out everywhere; a hateful and violent crowd chased her through the streets. She took refuge in a church where she found…

The Other Sister

Count Hugo Borromini is at the wheel of his sports car. He is young, handsome, and rich; naturally, he attracts all the young women, but it is Margarita Caraccini who has caught his eye. Margarita is tall and blonde, and unlike most of the young aristocrats, she made her name as a painter. Hugo was…