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Extract from Spirit of Lost Angels:
The early light burns Victoire’s cheeks, like a beacon warning her this summer day will bring something special. She hears the cries of the villagers long before she reaches the square of Lucie-sur-Vionne.
‘Robespierre is dead!’ Léon shouts, dancing about la place de l’Eglise with the others. ‘Guillotined!
‘They say the Parisians are frolicking on the streets,’ the baker cries. ‘For the death of that bloodthirsty dictator!’
‘Cheering as when they guillotined fat Louis and his Austrian whore,’ a silk-weaver woman shouts.
Victoire had not relished the Queen’s beheading. No matter how scornful; how wasteful with money, Marie Antoinette was but a scapegoat. Victoire believes we are all such victims, simply shuffling the hand of cards dealt at our birth.
‘Come and celebrate with us, Victoire.’ Léon takes her hand. ‘They’re saying this reign of terror is over.’
‘Let’s hope we’ll have peace now,’ she says, looking away from him, at the coach rattling along the cobblestones of the square. ‘Far too much blood has stained our earth.’
Snagged in the revelry of the crowd, Victoire doesn’t pay much attention to the first two people who alight from the public coach, but then a young girl steps down.
She is about fifteen years old, and her grey-green eyes remind Victoire of the Vionne River in a storm.
The girl gazes around the square, her ribboned curls, the colour and sheen of a fox, bobbing in crests and peaks. One of her hands folds over a pendant, hanging from a strip of leather about her neck.
Victoire cannot move, or speak. She can only stand there, staring at the girl, terrified she is simply a wicked trick of her imagination––a spirit-like illusion she might have glimpsed that terrible day on riverbank.
Her heart begins to beat wild, like the wings of a bat trapped in a hot attic.
‘No, surely not, it cannot be …?’
She falters, and stumbles towards the girl.
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