When you are in a war like that one, you start to realise that there is no such thing as la blanche et le noir. 'Good' and 'evil' simply don't exist. Tout est gris.
And so I found it was with Rachelle. Guillaume had sent us here to infiltrate her group of women, and send back news on their movements and plans. But as the days passed, I found myself becoming more and more drawn to these practical, modern, forward-thinking women who didn't care a fig for what society thought of them. I agreed with their principles - that there is no difference between the sexes, and that women should be given equal rights and opportunities as men. Looking back on it, I know at once that is was a childish fantasy, but at a time when civil war threatens and everything you thought you knew is undone, you start to believe that anything could happen. And so it was with us.
I also began to hate my impractical, restricting skirts, and to yearn for the freedom of movement that men enjoyed so easily. I found myself watching Emmanuel as he strode about in boots, gun by his side, and my fingers itched to mould themselves around the trigger...
Then, quite suddenly, Rachelle came over to me one day, when I was alone in my bedchamber.
'Marie,' she said. 'I've been watching you, and I can see that you're a clever girl. You're strong and independent, and exactly what my organisation needs. So, what do you say? We're having a meeting tonight, to discuss the shortage of food. We want the king to address the poverty - and the best way he can do that is by leaving Versailles.'
'I thought he had left,' I breathed. 'Clara said he was in Paris.'
Rachelle shook her head. 'It was a rumour, nothing more. Unfortunately. But I need strong women like you behind me. I could teach you what you needed to know...'
My heart leaped in my chest. This was what I had been waiting for! 'Of course I'll come tonight!' I exclaimed.
Rachelle smiled. 'Well done. I can see you're going to be invaluable.'
Beaming at her praise, I hurried to the kitchen, trying to act as if nothing had happened. I wondered if Rachelle had asked Clara and Annette to come also, but I decided she couldn't have, or she wouldn't have spoken to me when I was alone. And for that I was grateful - Annette looked even more frail than ever, and the idea of her getting involved in anything made me worry for her health. Twice now I had tried to confront her about it, but she'd evaded me masterfully. It made me think of Capuchine, and I wondered if she and the baby, who would almost certainly have entered the world by now, were alright.
That night, I hurried out of the house with Rachelle by my side. To my delight, she had given me the breeches, boots and shirt of a man. We strode along together, she comfortable and strong, I unused to this new freedom but becoming increasingly joyful at it.
We reached a small house, and Rachelle knocked an elaborate pattern onto the door. It swung open to reveal Christine, the woman I had first met! She led me quickly down a corridor and into a large-ish room. Like the first time, it was filled with women! I felt myself blush as I followed Rachelle into the crowd, painfully aware that we were the only two in men's attire. But I soon forgot my awkwardness, because Rachelle had begun to speak.