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Out of time

By Philippe JAENADA Sofitel Luxembourg Europe

I was left lost in thought. Here I was in Luxembourg intending to look into the matter of life and death, and the first thing that I overhear purely by chance is that Joan of Arc, heroine of an entire people, had come to Luxembourg after having been burned at the stake. It was unsettling.

 

Upon my arrival, I had vowed not to touch my laptop (which I had brought along so that I could do some writing if boredom overcame me). I didn’t want any contact with the outside world, which would feel like an escape from my airtight cocoon. But before going to dine at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, I couldn’t resist the nagging desire to return to my fifth-floor room and switch on my little black MacBook in order to find out what had happened to Joan’s ghost.

 

When, lying on my stomach on the cushy white bed, I had entered the words “Joan Ghost Luxembourg,’’ the first site that Google proposed referred to a “Luxembourg Garden ghost.” Wrong. So I added the words “of Arc,” which I had forgotten because of my emotional familiarity with the ghostly combatant. I quickly, and sadly, found what I was looking for. A certain Lady of Armoises, named Joan or Claude (who knows which), had indeed presented herself as being the glorious Maid of Orléans returned from the dead, motivated only by the trivial desire to make a buck (which is also what prompted Joan’s two brothers, the vile, conniving Jean and Pierre, to feign recognition, no one taking any interest in them since their sister had gone up in smoke and they had been left to vegetate penniless). Duchess Elisabeth de Goerlitz, meanwhile, must not have had her wits about her. In Luxembourg, Joan or Claude had married a certain Robert des Armoises, sire of Jaulny, had quickly bore him two children (the supposed Maid had thrown her chastity out the window) and had lived the high life (mostly in the local bistros) until she finally met up with Charles VII after four years of epistolary exchange. The impostor was immediately unmasked, but the miffed king pardoned her nonetheless and she lived the rest of her days in the shadows, at the Jaulny castle with her
husband. I would have been better off not turning on my computer.

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