Saturday, 30 October 2010
The French Maid
Maman has said that that the whole family is to visit the Loire Valley in the month of July. Papa had to be coaxed, but he agreed that it would be good of us to get away for a few days. The conflict is wearing upon his nerves and I believe that the country air will fortify him greatly.
We hope to be with you in a month or so. Send my regards to your parents.
We have been home but a few short weeks, but already the beautiful time we spent together has become distant in my memory. The lazy days of running freely in the breeze are now just shadows upon my mind; Papa has already lost the bloom that had only just begun to appear on his careworn face. Maman fears that the conflict will soon be upon our doorstep, and Papa seems to agree.
I fear that our lives are about to become entangled in this horrid war. I sometimes hear Papa in his study talking to others; they talk in hushed voices, but their words appear loud to my ears. I fear for my family; I fear for my friends; I fear for my country. I pray that it will end soon.
I am deeply sorry to hear about your Papa's passing. If I was with you I would hold you in my arms and embrace your grief as my own. Alas, I cannot do so. I will, however, pray for your Papa's soul and ask that The Lord take him to His bosom like He would His own child. You are, as ever, in my thoughts and prayers.
It has been so long since I have written to you. The situation here is now dire; Papa has forbidden my brothers and I to correspond with anyone. It has been months since I was last allowed to bring my quill to paper; Papa finally relented and has allowed me to write to you, but I fear it will be a short transcript.
We are all in reasonably good health, though Maman has begun to slow a little of late. In truth, I think that her heart is the cause of her troubles. she worries so much. I know that we live in dark times, but Maman takes it so hard. She worries for my brothers' lives, and Papa's too. I do not know if we will meet in the near future; this wretched war has closed many doors to us. I hope with all my heart that we can one day share another carefree interlude in the fields of corn, but I fear that it will be a long time before that can ever come to pass.
You remain, as ever, in my thoughts.
Such a wonderful thing has happened! I have been visited by a number of dreams, each one urging me to take charge and move our country forward out of the abyss. The days have grown so dark, yet I now see that there is light if I have but the courage to proceed. Papa is very supportive, thought he thinks I am a little young. Maman has not been so agreeable, but she does not dare to go against Papa. I do not know what I can tell you, just that I know that I have work to do. Memories of our friendship sustain me through what I know will be a difficult journey. I dearly wish to visit you, but I do not know when or if that will be possible. I long to tell you of my dreams, for I think you are the only person who would understand them. My brothers doubt me, but I know that you would not be the same.
I live in hope that we will be together one day soon, there is much I have to tell you.
I remain your friend,
Late Spring 1428
My Dearest Henri,
It has been some time since I last wrote to you, but do not doubt that you have been constantly in my thoughts. I have heard great things about you; I know that you do much to help our country and I am so proud to call you my friend. I sometimes wish that this war had never come to us, for I think that our friendship may have pursued a different course to what we have traveled thus far.
But I digress; I have long since discarded the female notion of love and marriage. I know what my duty must be, and I am happy to be doing The Lord's work. I only hope that you understand that the choices I make are for the good of our country. I would not have you think ill of me, that would be the heaviest of all crosses to bear.
I do not know when I shall be able to write again, things are becoming more complicated. I have a mission to fulfill, duties to perform. I am not afraid to admit that I am scared, but I fully believe that my actions will prove to be successful. I have The Lord on my side, and His arms are there to protect me.
Do not look for my letters, for they shall be few and long in coming. Just know that you are in my heart as always, and that you are never far from my mind.
I have good tidings. I have met with King Charles and much has been discussed. I have managed to persuade him to raise an army. I fear I cannot tell you the details but I wanted you to know that at last things are proceeding as planned. We shall be passing through your village very soon, within the month if all goes to plan. Watch for me on the corn fields, for I shall endeavor at all costs to meet with you.
Soon to be with you,
I have no time for niceties; I fear I must be blunt. All has not been well for several weeks; indeed, I fear that events have long since passed the point of no return. My convictions tell me that I am still on the right path of my destiny, but my heart quivers with fear for I know that my situation is fraught with danger. I do not see a way forward, but I must remain faithful to The Good Lord and continue onwards. I do not know my destination, but I remain convinced that The Lord will look after me.
I pray for your safety, and that of our countrymen.
My Dearest Henri,
I pray that this letter finds you, for I know not where you are hiding. The last few months have seen a frenzied amount of activity. Battles have been won, but many more have been lost. I do not see the way forward any more. My dreams are as vivid as ever, but they do not seem as clear as they once were. I fear that my anxiety is rendering my faith useless. How can I do God's Will if I am fearful of the consequences? I struggled for some time before I realized that my very indecisiveness was the reason that I could not understand my instructions.
Not any more. I have accepted my fate and am once again fully willing to do my duty. My only regret is that I will not see your dear face in front of me again. My spies tell me that I am being watched. it is only a matter of time before I am betrayed. I pray for the poor soul who will one day turn me over to the madmen that control our people. I pray for myself. I pray for my army.
Most of all I pray for you, sweet Henri. I pray that you will forgive me for loving The Lord more than loving you. Do not doubt that I love you, just understand that my faith has more power over me than any mortal love could ever hope to overcome.
I know that will meet in the afterlife.
This package has been sent to you by request of Jehanne d'Arc. In the weeks before her capture she commissioned a local artist to paint her portrait. She walked many miles for many days before she found the location that pleased her. She asked that she be painted without her suit of armor, and that she be surrounded by golden fields. She instructed me to forward you the portrait on the event of her death, along with the enclosed note.
Take care of our Lady.
I am known as a warrior, but I am still a woman. If I lived my life again I do not doubt for one moment that I would make the same decisions. Just as I do not doubt that I would have the same regrets.
My faith and devotion will always belong to The Lord, but my heart remains in the corn fields of my youth, and my love remains with you.
Walk through our fields of gold and remember me.
When Dave asked for 'maids' as his final request, I immediately thought of the story I had written several years ago. It seemed fitting that as I am about to enter a month of story writing, that my final request post should contain a story too. This particular story was inspired by some parameters set by a long-ago online writing cafe. We were given the image of the lady in the shawl (painting by Herbert Berman, of Broderick Gallery), and asked to write a story using the image, and a song of our choice, as inspiration. I used an old song by the group 'OMD' called Joan of Arc.
A little catholic girl
Who's fallen in love
A face on a page
A gift from above
She should have known better
Than to giver her heart
She should have known better
Than to ever part
I gave her everything
That I ever owned
I think she understood
But she never spoke
She shouldn't oughta try
To be that way
She shouldn't have to go there
Now listen to us good
And listen well
Listen to us all
And everything we tell
We should have known better
Than to giver her away
We should have known better
To this very day
Now listen Joan of Arc
All you gotta do
Is say the right words
And Ill be coming through
Hold you in my arms
And take you
Now she's on her way
To another land
We never understood
Why she gave her hand
She shouldn't oughta promise
Because it's just pretend
I know she doesn't mean it
And she'll leave again