Never did I feel so free in my life. We were women, oh yes, but we were women of France, and we could and would fight for our country as well as any man! This day would go down in history, it was a great day! Rachelle was Joan d'Arc, and we would follow her to the ends of the earth if she asked us to.
What I didn't know was that, like Joan d'Arc, Rachelle would meet an unhappy end.
Rachelle had said another stirring speech, and the bloodlust was up. We wanted Marie Antoinette, that pitiful excuse of a woman that lowered the name of all females, and that denied her people bread.
Shouting bawdy songs at the top of our lungs, the wind in our hair and hatred in our hearts, we marched, free women, to the palace of the king. And there he cowered, unable to stop us - the great King Louis XVI, defeated by common peasant women! It was laughable.
It didn't take us long to break into the palace. Rachelle had given me a musket, and it was with a great feeling of exhilaration that I pulled the trigger and ended the life of a man. A bodyguard - killed by me!
The King and Queen's quarters were beautiful, but what did we care for the luxuries of our tyrant rulers? We ripped and trampled and smashed our way through the palace 'till we reached the Queen's bedrooms. She was gone.
'Merde!' I exclaimed, delighted to be using a man's swear-word. The the butt of my musket, I smashed a beautiful oak dressing table belonging to Marie Antoinette, the splinters flying everywhere.
'They're not here!' shouted Rachelle. 'To the courtyard!'
We took up the cry and surged towards the courtyard. Many of us must have been trampled underfoot, but those on top kept running, oblivious and uncaring. We were free!
'Faire ressortir la reine!' Rachelle shouted. 'Bring out the Queen!'
Again, we took up her cry, until the doors of Marie Antoinette's balcony opened, and there she stood, in her nightgown, calm, composed and stately.
We shouted at her, we insulted her, we sang rude songs about her. I pulled my musket up onto my shoulder and shot at her, but I fired to miss. No one kills a queen when she stands so white-faced before you. No one.
Then, after ten minutes, she said, her voice wavering slightly but resolved:
'I have nothing to say to you. If that is all you want with me, then I will leave now.'
So few words. But that's all it took.
She turned, left the balcony. My anger sagged inside me like a deflated balloon. What did I think I was doing? Why was I even there? This lady - whom we had come to kill - she was a far greater woman than I would ever be. Just because I dressed like a man didn't make me one. She had courage and strength of heart, while I was just a young girl in a fantasy, part of a mob that had done the wrong thing. It made me sick.
'Vive la reine,' I whispered. 'Long live the queen.' Why must I whisper it? Why not shout it aloud, if I was so brave and free?
'Vive la reine!' I shouted it this time. Faces turned to me, someone tried to hush me. Rachelle frowned, but made no move to stop me from speaking.
'Vive la reine!' Someone else had joined me now. I didn't know their voice, didn't see them, but soon more and more of us were shouting it, again and again, in place of our terrible battlecries of before.
'Vive la reine! Vive la reine! Vivle la reine!'