It is early evening, with the last golden rays of the sun falling slowly beneath the ground as I race away from my own tent, trying to get away from the latest disappointment. My dauphin, Charles VII, apparently does not think it was enough to take the bastide with the men I had.

"Wait for reinforcements?" I wonder aloud. "In God's name, by the time they get here, John Fastolf will be here with his men, and they will outnumber us more than they do now!" Shaking my head, I sit down in the tall green grass on the hill above Orleans.

Quietly I take my sword from its scabbard and looked upon its five crosses. God, I pray to the heavens above, guide me to help my country, to take away the doubt so commonly placed on me by my fellow countrymen. As I am about to continue, chaplain Jean Pasquerel comes up next to me.

"La Pucelle?" he asks me. "Am I to follow the noble knight's directions for tomorrow?" I stand and smile. God tells me what to say to this man.

"No. Get up tomorrow very early in the morning, earlier than you did today, and do the best you can; keep close to me, for tomorrow I will have much to do, more than I have ever done before; and tomorrow blood will leave my body from above my breast." Pasquerel looks slightly disturbed at the idea that I might be injured. "Are you certain of the latter part, la Pucelle?" he asks me.

"Quite, chaplain," I reply, looking him directly in the eye. "Has the loyal knight left my tent, and the others as well?"

Pasquerel nods. "Yes." I sigh, reassured, and begin the short walk back to my tent.

Preparing for sleep, I place my scabbard containing the sword from St. Catherine's church against the far pole holding up my tent, and lay out my armor on the chair beside my writing desk. Tomorrow, I go to war.

Very early the next morning, even before the rays of light are dawning on our camp, I rise slowly and step out of my tent. Pasquerel is waiting for me, holding the reins of my horse

"Are you ready, la Pucelle?" he asks anxiously, looking into my eyes. I nod sharply.

"Yes, Jean. I want you to go receive the eucharist in Orleans this morning, before war commences and then join me by my side. Go now, quickly!" I add, giving him extra incentive to go. He hands me the reins of my horse, then quickly runs down the hill to go across the channel into the town I am trying so desperately to liberate. I am unready for war, but I fear nothing. God is right here beside me, ready to help me fight the men He wants out of my beloved France.

Pasquerel returns no more than an hour later, blessed by the priest and apparently willing to go to war. "Do you fear for yourself, chaplain?" I venture to ask, looking at him. He returns the glance.

"Mayhap, la Pucelle," he tells me, a look of anxiety clearly painted on his face.

"Fear nothing, Pasquerel, for God is with you. Nothing shall happen to you today, save seeing a battle unfold before your eyes. Ah, the men are ready, and I am needed. Good." Quickly, I mount my horse and ride to my men, armor clattering and standard waving nobly. The soldiers quiet as I start to speak. "Are you ready to fight for the Lord your God and this great city, for your country of France?" I ask softly. All of the men nod.

"In God's name, we are ready!" they say, looking as if they mean every bit of what they speak.

"Then let us charge!" I yell, looking at the approaching English and Burgundian armies at the bottom of the hill. I turn my horse around and charge down the hill, my men following close behind me. The English laugh and point, looking as though they had nothing better to do than to sit there and mock us. Yet I know whom they mock, even before I hear their words.

"Jehanne la Pucelle, the whore of the Argmanacs!" they shout at me, mocking. My eyes tear up, but I ignore them, waving my standard with all of my might, charging back and forth between the now fighting armies.

It is chaos-chaos beyond my imagination. Arrows shoot in the air, making it seem as though the blue sky is raining brown and silver, and I hear the sounds of swords clanking, men yelling, and people dying. Blood covers the grass, staining it red with the treachery of war.

Perhaps this is why I do not realize the arrow coming at me, and why I finally see it when it pierces me just above my breast, as I'd predicted yesterday. Tears spring to my eyes, and Pasquerel comes and takes me away from the field, though I am quite reluctant, to say the least. I lay on my back while healers stand all around me, looking at the injury I have sustained.

One woman steps forward and looks at me. "Perhaps you should apply a charm to it?" I give her a strange glance. How dare she suggest such a thing! I think to myself. However, I do not explode in her face. "I would prefer to die than to do something I know to be a sin, or against the will of God." I am firm on this, and the woman nods with understanding.

"Well, then we need to apply the usual treatment of bacon fat and olive oil for wounds, and you need to rest, la Pucelle." I shake my head.

"What is there left for me to do but fight? I cannot just lie here while my men suffer for me; they need me out there, as a beacon of hope."

"All right, you may, but do not get yourself hurt again." The healer applies the ointment, and it stings a little as it seeps into the hole. I wince and put my hand to my breast.

"Thank you," I say to them. A little girl comes from behind the women.

"Now, Marie, come back here. You are not to speak to la Pucelle," an older woman scolds the girl.

"No, it is all right." I smile at the little girl. "Your name is Marie, is it?" I ask gently. She nods. "All right, Marie, I want to tell you something. God is your protector, my dear girl. Never forget that. In God's name, never forget it. Go to church, and listen to your mother and father. Do you understand me?" Little Marie nods, and I give her a kiss on the forehead. "Now, I must go back." With a smile on my face, I take my horse by the reins and lead it out to the field. Marie, the girl I know to be a part of the future of France, is now the reason I go back to this destruction and chaos known as war

Night falls, and my men looked to me. They are weary, and I can see in their eyes that they need to rest, to seek God's guidance on their mission here as soldiers of France. I know because I need this myself.

"All right men. Rest yourselves a bit, eat and drink. We may go back tonight, and you all need your rest." No one disagrees, and so I do the same. I take some bread, cheese, and wine in my saddlebag and ride to the vineyard just a short distance from our camp. The leaves rustle softly as I get quietly off my horse and take the food out of my saddlebag. I do not, however, eat any of it.

Instead I kneel between the vines on the soft dirt of my homeland, and begin to pray.

"God, voices of Catherine, Margaret, and Michael Archangel, guide me to bring back my country to its glory. Send home the English and Burgundians, take them out and let Charles be rightful king. Help me to help my men through you, and for your name's sake. I am but a servant of you, the deliverer of my country through your miracles. Guide me to do what you need me to, and to serve my purpose in this world you have created. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, amen." Creating the trinity with my hand, I silently stand and go to my horse.

I clamber up, and ride back to camp. Jean d'Aulon, my steward, comes over to me. "Where have you been, la Pucelle? You were gone for nearly a quarter of an hour. " My smile is serene.

"I went to pray to God, for his guidance and forgiveness of any sins I may have committed." D'Aulon nods.

"Are you ready for battle?" he asks me quietly. Taking in a deep breath, I nod my head solemnly.

"Yes, Jean, I am." He turns from me and summons the young squire, La Basque.

"La Basque," Jean says sternly. The boy, looking not a day older than fourteen, looks at him promptly. The golden hair of the small squire glows in the sun, and I smile. I am probably not one to say something about age, I mind. I am only seventeen, after all.

"Yes, sire?" La Basque asks obediently. "Follow Jehanne la Pucelle and myself over to the ditch, carrying her standard, do you understand?" Jean asks in a softer voice.

"Yes, sire," he repeats, this time as an answer rather than a question. I hand him the standard, and he takes it uncertainly, leaning slightly under its weight.

Nonetheless, he places it over his head and follows us down the hill over to the Loire, which is the river that flows around Orleans. He continues to struggle under its weight, unable to wave it at all as he rides directly into the ditch. I suddenly know what to do, as though someone had whispered it in my ear.

I ride back to the squire and look at him gently. "Would you let me have that?" I ask, holding out my hand. He looks reluctant to give up the job. "In God's name, please allow me to carry it!" I say, getting frustrated with him. He nods and hands it to me.

I take the standard, covered in lilies of France and angels of God, and lift it over my head. Gathering every bit of strength I have, I begin pulling it over my head, waving it back and forth broadly.

A lone soldier at camp stands, looking at me. I can hear him say, "It is time, men! It is time to fight, la Pucelle has declared it with her standard!" All of my soldiers look at me. A great rush is made to get weaponry and armor, and before I can even mutter, "In God's name, hurry up!" they are directly in front of me.

"Let us fight!" I cry, and my men pour around me as I hold the standard above my head, waving it boldly. The English come from inside the city and lower the gate. It is quite clear they are completely unprepared, and the English commander, Glasdale-or Classidas as I know him-stands at the front of his men on the south bridge. I call out. "Surrender to the will of God!"

"I will never surrender to a woman!" he returns sharply. Looking down, I suddenly realize the bridge he is standing on is wobbling. I panic, and yell at him again.

"Classidas, the bridge is unsteady! Come across and surrender, quickly, before it falls!"

He shakes his head. "Nev-"

Just as his begins this statement, I hear a rumble. To my horror, the bridge collapses from under the English standing on it. I watch, frozen, as the men fall into the river in their heavy armor. There is a loud splash, and all of them sink below the surface. At first there is thrashing in the water, but it dies down. I realize Classidas is dead, drowned by his armor, the very thing meant to protect him.

Moving quickly, my men race to the north entrance and ride across the bridge. I follow them all in a stunned silence. The men begin to talk all at once, and a few ride about the city to deliver the message.

"People, Orleans has been liberated!" they yell to the closed windows. As soon as this is said, hundreds of people pour into the streets happily, dancing and singing in delight.

I manage to smile. "In God's name, they are free." This victory, however, is bittersweet. Tears begin to roll down my cheeks for Classidas, and his men, who all died without being committed to God. Where are their spirits now? I wonder.

I am disturbed from my thoughts by a soft hand on my shoulder. I turn, and there is kind St. Margaret, smiling with sympathy. "I know, Jehanne. I know. You must remember that you do this in God's name."

I close my eyes, and when I reopen them, Margaret is gone. I sigh, and remember I do it all in God's name.