I rose early the next morning, leaving Annette and Clara asleep in our room at the inn. Of Emmanuel, there was no trace. I had decided to go to the market, and see if I could pick up any information from the women there. Before we left, Guillaume had explained about le groupe de femmes. The Women's Group. Excitement trickled down my spine, and I immediately felt guilty for feeling so. I had left Capuchine! She might need me, this very moment!
But try as I might, I could not dampen the feeling of anticipation that welled up inside me.
I had reasoned that there would be many gossips at the marketplace, and my reasoning was correct.
'Excusez-moi,' I said to a likely looking woman in her thirties (I cringed slightly at this, wondering what age she put me at after what Emmanuel had said the day before). 'Excuse me, but I recently arrived here, and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for a loaf of bread?'
'Ah, Madamoiselle!' the woman exclaimed (merci, merci I said inside my head - I was not Madame yet!). 'Of course. There is a baker's stall nearby, although you'd be lucky to get anything, there's a food shortage.'
'Bien sûr,' I said. 'Of course. Merci beaucoup!'
'De rien,' she answered. 'It was nothing. But, Madamoiselle...'
I turned back to her. 'Que puis-je faire pour vous?' I asked as calmly as I could. 'What can I do for you?'
The woman looked slightly nervous, and my heart leaped in excitement. 'You say you're new... May I ask you, what do you think of the Revolution?' She was speaking in hushed tones.
'Ah, Madame,' I murmured. ''Tis a great thing - to finally be free of those dogs who think they can subdue the French! I only wish we women could do more...'
The woman's eyes lit up, and I knew I had said the right thing. 'Madamoiselle, would you be interested in doing more for the Revolution?'
'Sans doute! Without doubt! But surely... A woman cannot fight...?'
'Why may we not? We have been told that by our male oppressors! Follow me, Citizeness, and I will be your saviour!'
I followed the woman, whose name I later found to be Christine, to a relatively large building, and inside it I found the largest meeting of women I have ever seen, to this day. The curtains were all drawn to avoid attention, and I found myself applauding the uncomfortable beds at the inn that had made me go out early.
Leading the meeting was what, at first glance, appeared to be a man, but when I looked closer, I realised it was a woman, dressed outrageously in male clothing! This both surprised and intrigued me, and I felt a sudden desire to know this controversial woman better. I didn't have long to wait.
'Christine!' the woman exclaimed, and, smiling warmly, she made her way over to us. 'Ah, and someone else, I see!' To my great surprise, she held out her hand, and I shook it like a man.
'Je m'appelle Rachelle,' she said.
'Marie,' I supplied, blushing under her gaze.
'Vous êtes les bienvenus ici. You are most welcome here,' Rachelle told me. 'Now, to business.'