I have written about the many magnificent, serendipitous events that happen on my adventures, but I have never told you about the time that serendipity grabbed me by the throat and squeezed until I could barely breathe.
Then, on that gloomy day in March, I visited a dank, spooky prison and serendipity reminded me of her power.
I could bore you with a lot of details about the castle, like that it was constructed during the Norman period, has a standard square keep, is situated on a hill far above the river Indre, and was used as a prison for English soldiers during the American Revolution, but that would just bog you down in unnecessary details.
What you need to know is that the Loches I visited was super-creepy. I parked in the village nestled at the base of the hill upon which the castle is perched. Then, I walked through a maze of deserted streets, climbing higher and higher, until I finally reached the entrance to the castle.
I paid my fee and began my tour at the inner-courtyard. At one time, the courtyard had been covered. Today, the roof is missing and a flock of pigeons have made their nests in what were once prison cells. Standing there in the rain, staring up at the empty cells, and listening to the multitude of pigeons cooing as if possessed, was rather chilling.
Next, I toured the castle's torture museum and shuddered at a big box with spikes that had been used to skewer countless humans. I toured a few of the finer rooms and then made my way up the stone staircase to the top of the castle walls. After admiring the view of the town below, I made my way back down the staircase.
About halfway down, I stumbled and would have certainly fallen to my death (or cracked my noodle) had I not grabbed a hold of the iron railing bolted into the castle wall. I let go of the railing and as I did so, my hand brushed the wall. I noticed a name carved into the wall where my hand had just been. It took me a moment to decipher what I was seeing...
..there, carved on the wall of the Chateau de Loches, was the name FRANCOISE DESPRÉS.
I do not know if the name on the wall was the same Francoise Després I had written about in Silence in the Mist, but I believe it was certainly possible. Francoise Després had been captured and imprisoned several times. During one of her imprisonments, she was tortured and even had her eye poked out.
Some might say that I had read about Loches but had forgotten about it, pushed it to a back shelf of my subconscious, but I can promise you, until that trip to France, I had never heard of the place. When I returned home, I poured through all of my research material but was unable to uncover even one reference to Loches.
I believe something mystical, magical happened on that dreary day. I believe serendipity took me by the hand and lead me to that castle prison castle. I believe she caused me to stumble so that I might see Francoise Depres's name on the wall.
Perhaps I am merely being wishful, but don't all serendipitous moments start with a wish?