101 Classic Short Stories: Candles

By Margery Vener Reed

BEFORE a statue of Joan of Arc, in a little country church, a child knelt in prayer.

OH protect my papa—the little one prayed.

SHE lighted a candle—offered it to the Maid of France.

*    *    *    *    *

A YOUNG girl prayed at the feet of the Saint. She burned a candle.

FOR ANDRÉ—for his safety.

THE invaders entered the village,—heeding neither church nor ground of the dead.

THEY ripped open shallow graves to show the living they had power—even over those who had gone. They killed the priest. And the nuns, even, from the school.

THEY damaged.


THE church caught fire. The candles, burning before the Saint of Domremy, blazed into one huge flame. It shot up to the roof. And seemed to cry—

O JOAN OF ARC—come back—France needs you.

*    *    *    *    *

THE child—

AN Angel of Heaven

THE young girl who had prayed for André—two officers had taken her.

SHE struggled—


THE flames of the burning village had revealed it.

MONSIEUR L’ABBÉ had said suicide was sin—but surely God would forgive—

SHE pierced the sword into her white flesh—blood flowed to the ground.

LITTLE FOOL muttered the maddened officer.

HE went back to the village—for more destroying.

A STONE from a burning house—

HE died with an oath.

BUT André, weeks before, had died with prayer upon his lips—a thought for his sweet betrothed.