Excerpt: Playing with Fire

Although the novel is written with a contemporary setting, Joan’s  voice is interspersed throughout  the novel.  She opens with these words:

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Joan of Arc by O.D.V. Guillonnet (1872-1967)

My mother calls me Jehanne. I have run away and am an outcast. If I return to Domremy, my father will beat me and marry me to the man I have already rejected. All my life we have sought refuge in neighboring castles when the English soldiers are raiding our village. All my life, I have watched my people run from them or the soldiers who are paid by the English to do their work. When will this end?

From my infancy we have been under siege from these brutes who we hate. They are enemies because they invade our land. Let them leave us alone. If they would leave us alone, they would not be our enemy.

This night of all nights, like my wedding that will never be, I wait for the dawn to reveal my destiny. It will not be children like my playmates have tendered, nor the fields or grazing meadows of the boys who are swept into service to fight the legions they have no malice against save that they disrupt the harvests.

In this fertile season of my life, I hear voices who tell me that I will drive the English from our land. I will lead the battles and after this day, I will find my way to the Dauphin, our uncrowned king, and lead him to his rightful throne.

How do I know these things? I am simple and devout. But I have heard the voice of God. My angels. I am Joan of Arc.

Tonight I wait for an audience with Robert de Baudricourt who will take me to the king I will crown. How is it possible that a simple girl like me would enter the court? Yet, I know it will be. I am confident. St. Catherine has told me. St. Michael has told me. I have witnessed their direction.

Still, I am far from home. I have run away. My father could imprison me.

Pray God, the dawn will help me deliver France her rightful king and banish the English to their island.

But first there will be blood. Although I have not shed my monthly blood, soon I will be able to say that my blood has been shed for the righteousness of France.

Can you imagine what it is like to be overrun by people who hate your soul? Do you know what it is like to live in terror? To think that at any moment the tranquility of a day in the pasture will be destroyed, the animals slaughtered and we, as chattel, running for our lives to the nearest shed? It is on this I have been raised.

Do I hate the English, who we call the goddamns? Yes I do, although I have never met one face to face.

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