Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volume 1
by Mark Twain
A PECULIARITY OF
JOAN OF ARC'S
BOOK I IN
Chapter 1 When
Wolves Ran Free
Chapter 2 The
Faaery Tree of
Chapter 3 All
Aflame with Love
Chapter 4 Joan
Tames the Mad
Chapter 6 Joan
Chapter 7 She
Chapter 8 Why
BOOK II IN COURT
Chapter 1 Joan
Chapter 2 The
Chapter 3 The
Chapter 4 Joan
Leads Us Through
Chapter 5 We
Pierce the Last
Chapter 6 Joan
Chapter 7 Our
Paladin in His
Chapter 8 Joan
Chapter 9 She Is
Chapter 10 The
Maid's Sword and
Chapter 11 The
War March Is
Chapter 12 Joan
Puts Heart in
Checked by the
Folly of the
Chapter 14 What
Chapter 15 My
Goes to Smash
Chapter 16 The
Finding of the
Chapter 17 Sweet
Fruit of Bitter
Chapter 19 We
Burst In Upon
Chapter 20 Joan
Chapter 21 She
Her Dear Friend
Chapter 22 The
Fate of France
Chapter 23 Joan
Chapter 25 At
Chapter 26 The
Chapter 27 How
Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of
human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex,
who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a
nation at the age of seventeen
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC
by THE SIEUR LOUIS DE CONTE
(her page and secretary)
In Two Volumes
Freely translated out of the ancient French into modern English
from the original unpublished manuscript in the National Archives
by JEAN FRANCOIS ALDEN
Authorities examined in verification of the truthfulness of this
J. E. J. QUICHERAT, Condamnation et Rehabilitation de Jeanne
J. FABRE, Procas de Condamnation de Jeanne d'Arc.
H. A. WALLON, Jeanne d'Arc.
M. SEPET, Jeanne d'Arc.
J. MICHELET, Jeanne d'Arc.
BERRIAT DE SAINT-PRIX, La Famille de Jeanne d'Arc.
La Comtesse A. DE CHABANNES, La Vierge Lorraine.
Monseigneur RICARD, Jeanne d'Arc la Venerable.
Lord RONALD GOWER, F.S.A., Joan of Arc. JOHN O'HAGAN,
Joan of Arc.
JANET TUCKEY, Joan of Arc the Maid.
TO ARRIVE at a just estimate of a renowned man's character one must
judge it by the standards of his time, not ours. Judged by the
standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one
lose much of their luster; judged by the standards of to-day, there
is probably no illustrious man of four or five centuries ago whose
character could meet the test at all points. But the character of
Joan of Arc is unique. It can be measured by the standards of all
times without misgiving or apprehension as to the result. Judged by
any of them, it is still flawless, it is still ideally perfect; it
still occupies the loftiest place possible to human attainment, a
loftier one than has been reached by any other mere mortal.
When we reflect that her century was the brutalest, the wickedest,
the rottenest in history since the darkest ages, we are lost in
wonder at the miracle of such a product from such a soil. The
contrast between her and her century is the contrast between day and
night. She was truthful when lying was the common speech of men; she
was honest when honesty was become a lost virtue; she was a keeper of
promises when the keeping of a promise was expected of no one; she
gave her great mind to great thoughts and great purposes when other
great minds wasted themselves upon pretty fancies or upon poor
ambitions; she was modest, and fine, and delicate when to be loud and
coarse might be said to be universal; she was full of pity when a
merciless cruelty was the rule; she was steadfast when stability was
unknown, and honorable in an age which had forgotten what honor was;
she was a rock of convictions in a time when men believed in nothing
and scoffed at all things; she was unfailingly true to an age that was
false to the core; she maintained her personal dignity unimpaired in
an age of fawnings and servilities; she was of a dauntless courage
when hope and courage had perished in the hearts of her nation; she
was spotlessly pure in mind and body when society in the highest
places was foul in both--she was all these things in an age when
crime was the common business of lords and princes, and when the
highest personages in Christendom were able to astonish even that
infamous era and make it stand aghast at the spectacle of their
atrocious lives black with unimaginable treacheries, butcheries, and
She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has
a place in profane history. No vestige or suggestion of self-seeking
can be found in any word or deed of hers. When she had rescued her
King from his vagabondage, and set his crown upon hi8s head, she was
offered rewards and honors, but she refused them all, and would take
nothing. All she would take for herself--if the King would grant
it--was leave to go back to her village home, and tend her sheep
again, and feel her mother's arms about her, and be her housemaid and
helper. The selfishness of this unspoiled general of victorious
armies, companion of princes, and idol of an applauding and grateful
nation, reached but that far and no farther.
The work wrought by Joan of Arc may fairly be regarded as ranking
any recorded in history, when one considers the conditions under which
it was undertaken, the obstacles in the way, and the means at her
disposal. Caesar carried conquests far, but he did it with the trained
and confident veterans of Rome, and was a trained soldier himself; and
Napoleon swept away the disciplined armies of Europe, but he also was
a trained soldier, and the began his work with patriot battalions
inflamed and inspired by the miracle-working new breath of Liberty
breathed upon them by the Revolution--eager young apprentices to the
splendid trade of war, not old and broken men-at-arms, despairing
survivors of an age-long accumulation of monotonous defeats; but Joan
of Arc, a mere child in years, ignorant, unlettered, a poor village
girl unknown and without influence, found a great nation lying in
chains, helpless and hopeless under an alien domination, its treasury
bankrupt, its soldiers disheartened and dispersed, all spirit torpid,
all courage dead in the hearts of the people through long years of
foreign and domestic outrage and oppression, their King cowed,
resigned to its fate, and preparing to fly the country; and she laid
her hand upon this nation, this corpse, and it rose and followed her.
She led it from victory to victory, she turned back the tide of the
Hundred Years' War, she fatally crippled the English power, and died
with the earned title of DELIVERER OF FRANCE, which she bears to this
And for all reward, the French King, whom she had crowned, stood
supine and indifferent, while French priests took the noble child, the
most innocent, the most lovely, the most adorable the ages have
produced, and burned her alive at the stake.
A PECULIARITY OF JOAN OF ARC'S HISTORY
THE DETAILS of the life of Joan of Arc form a biography which is
unique among the world's biographies in one respect: It is the only
story of a human life which comes to us under oath, the only one which
comes to us from the witness-stand. The official records of the Great
Trial of 1431, and of the Process of Rehabilitation of a quarter of a
century later, are still preser4ved in the National Archives of
France, and they furnish with remarkable fullness the facts of her
life. The history of no other life of that remote time is known with
either the certainty or the comprehensiveness that attaches to hers.
The Sieur Louis de Conte is faithful to her official history in his
Personal Recollections, and thus far his trustworthiness is
unimpeachable; but his mass of added particulars must depend for
credit upon his word alone.
THE SIEUR LOUIS DE CONTE
To his Great-Great-Grand Nephews and Nieces
THIS IS the year 1492. I am eighty-two years of age. The things I
am going to tell you are things which I saw myself as a child and as
In all the tales and songs and histories of Joan of Arc, which you
and the rest of the world read and sing and study in the books
wrought in the late invented art of printing, mention is made of me,
the Sieur Louis de Conte--I was her page and secretary, I was with her
from the beginning until the end.
I was reared in the same village with her. I played with her every
day, when we were little children together, just as you play with
your mates. Now that we perceive how great she was, now that her name
fills the whole world, it seems strange that what I am saying is true;
for it is as if a perishable paltry candle should speak of the eternal
sun riding in the heavens and say, "He was gossip and housemate to me
when we were candles together." And yet it is true, just as I say. I
was her playmate, and I fought at her side in the wars; to this day I
carry in my mind, fine and clear, the picture of that dear little
figure, with breast bent to the flying horse's neck, charging at the
head of the armies of France, her hair streaming back, her silver mail
plowing steadily deeper and deeper into the thick of the battle,
sometimes nearly drowned from sight by tossing heads of horses,
uplifted sword-arms, wind-blow plumes, and intercepting shields. I was
with her to the end; and when that black day came whose accusing
shadow will lie always upon the memory of the mitered French slaves of
England who were her assassins, and upon France who stood idle and
essayed no rescue, my hand was the last she touched in life.
As the years and the decades drifted by, and the spectacle of the
marvelous child's meteor flight across the war firmament of France
and its extinction in the smoke-clouds of the stake receded deeper
and deeper into the past and grew ever more strange, and wonderful,
and divine, and pathetic, I came to comprehend and recognize her at
last for what she was--the most noble life that was ever born into
this world save only One.
BOOK I IN DOMREMY
Chapter 1 When Wolves Ran Free in Paris
I, THE SIEUR LOUIS DE CONTE, was born in Neufchateau, on the 6th
of January, 1410; that is to say, exactly two years before Joan of Arc
was born in Domremy. My family had fled to those distant regions from
the neighborhood of Paris in the first years of the century. In
politics they were Armagnacs--patriots; they were for our own French
King, crazy and impotent as he was. The Burgundian party, who were for
the English, had stripped them, and done it well. They took everything
but my father's small nobility, and when he reached Neufchateau he
reached it in poverty and with a broken spirit. But the political
atmosphere there was the sort he liked, and that was something. He
came to a region of comparative quiet; he left behind him a region
peopled with furies, madmen, devils, where slaughter was a daily
pastime and no man's life safe for a moment. In Paris, mobs roared
through the streets nightly, sacking, burning, killing, unmolested,
uninterrupted. The sun rose upon wrecked and smoking buildings, and
upon mutilated corpses lying here, there, and yonder about the
streets, just as they fell, and stripped naked by thieves, the unholy
gleaners after the mob. None had the courage to gather these dead for
burial; they were left there to rot and create plagues.
And plagues they did create. Epidemics swept away the people like
flies, and the burials were conducted secretly and by night, for
public funerals were not allowed, lest the revelation of the
magnitude of the plague's work unman the people and plunge them into
despair. Then came, finally, the bitterest winter which had visited
France in five hundred years. Famine, pestilence, slaughter, ice,
snow--Paris had all these at once. The dead lay in heaps about the
streets, and wolves entered the city in daylight and devoured them.
Ah, France had fallen low--so low! For more than three quarters of
a century the English fangs had been bedded in her flesh, and so
cowed had her armies become by ceaseless rout and defeat that it was
said and accepted that the mere sight of an English army was
sufficient to put a French one to flight.
When I was five years old the prodigious disaster of Agincourt fell
upon France; and although the English King went home to enjoy his
glory, he left the country prostrate and a prey to roving bands of
Free Companions in the service of the Burgundian party, and one of
these bands came raiding through Neufchateau one night, and by the
light of our burning roof-thatch I saw all that were dear to me in
this world (save an elder brother, your ancestor, left behind with the
court) butchered while they begged for mercy, and heard the butchers
laugh at their prayers and mimic their pleadings. I was overlooked,
and escaped without hurt. When the savages were gone I crept out and
cried the night away watching the burning houses; and I was all alone,
except for the company of the dead and the wounded, for the rest had
taken flight and hidden themselves.
I was sent to Domremy, to the priest, whose housekeeper became a
loving mother to me. The priest, in the course of time, taught me to
read and write, and he and I were the only persons in the village who
possessed this learning.
At the time that the house of this good priest, Guillaume Fronte,
became my home, I was six years old. We lived close by the village
church, and the small garden of Joan's parents was behind the church.
As to that family there were Jacques d'Arc the father, his wife Isabel
Romee; three sons--Jacques, ten years old, Pierre, eight, and Jean,
seven; Joan, four, and her baby sister Catherine, about a year old. I
had these children for playmates from the beginning. I had some other
playmates besides--particularly four boys: Pierre Morel, Etienne Roze,
Noael Rainguesson, and Edmond Aubrey, whose father was maire at that
time; also two girls, about Joan's age, who by and by became her
favorites; one was named Haumetter, the other was called Little
Mengette. These girls were common peasant children, like Joan herself.
When they grew up, both married common laborers. Their estate was
lowly enough, you see; yet a time came, many years after, when no
passing stranger, howsoever great he might be, failed to go and pay
his reverence to those to humble old women who had been honored in
their youth by the friendship of Joan of Arc.
These were all good children, just of the ordinary peasant type;
not bright, of course--you would not expect that--but good-hearted and
companionable, obedient to their parents and the priest; and as they
grew up they became properly stocked with narrowness and prejudices
got at second hand from their elders, and adopted without reserve; and
without examination also--which goes without saying. Their religion
was inherited, their politics the same. John Huss and his sort might
find fault with the Church, in Domremy it disturbed nobody's faith;
and when the split came, when I was fourteen, and we had three Popes
at once, nobody in Domremy was worried about how to choose among
them--the Pope of Rome was the right one, a Pope outside of Rome was
no Pope at all. Every human creature in the village was an
Armagnac--a patriot--and if we children hotly hated nothing else in
the world, we did certainly hate the English and Burgundian name and
polity in that way.
Chapter 2 The Faaery Tree of Domremy
OUR DOMREMY was like any other humble little hamlet of that remote
time and region. It was a maze of crooked, narrow lanes and alleys
shaded and sheltered by the overhanging thatch roofs of the barnlike
houses. The houses were dimly lighted by wooden-shuttered
windows--that is, holes in the walls which served for windows. The
floors were dirt, and there was very little furniture. Sheep and
cattle grazing was the main industry; all the young folks tended
The situation was beautiful. From one edge of the village a flowery
plain extended in a wide sweep to the river--the Meuse; from the rear
edge of the village a grassy slope rose gradually, and at the top was
the great oak forest--a forest that was deep and gloomy and dense, and
full of interest for us children, for many murders had been done in it
by outlaws in old times, and in still earlier times prodigious dragons
that spouted fire and poisonous vapors from their nostrils had their
homes in there. In fact, one was still living in there in our own
time. It was as long as a tree, and had a body as big around as a
tierce, and scales like overlapping great tiles, and deep ruby eyes as
large as a cavalier's hat, and an anchor-fluke on its tail as big as I
don't know what, but very big, even unusually so for a dragon, as
everybody said who knew about dragons. It was thought that this dragon
was of a brilliant blue color, with gold mottlings, but no one had
ever seen it, therefore this was not known to be so, it was only an
opinion. It was not my opinion; I think there is no sense in forming
an opinion when there is no evidence to form it on. If you build a
person without any bones in h8im he may look fair enough to the eye,
but he will be limber and cannot stand up; and I consider that
evidence is the bones of an opinion. But I will take up this matter
more at large at another time, and try to make the justness of my
position appear. As to that dragon, I always held the belief that its
color was gold and without blue, for that has always been the color of
dragons. That this dragon lay but a little way within the wood at one
time is shown by the fact that Pierre Morel was in there one day and
smelt it, and recognized it by the smell. It gives one a horrid idea
of how near to us the deadliest danger can be and we not suspect it.
In the earliest times a hundred knights from many remote places in
the earth would have gone in there one after another, to kill the
dragon and get the reward, but in our time that method had gone out,
and the priest had become the one that abolished dragons. Pare
Guillaume Fronte did it in this case. He had a procession, with
candles and incense and banners, and marched around the edge of the
wood and exorcised the dragon, and it was never heard of again,
although it was the opinion of many that the smell never wholly passed
away. Not that any had ever smelt the smell again, for none had; it
was only an opinion, like that other--and lacked bones, you see. I
know that the creature was there before the exorcism, but whether it
was there afterward or not is a thing which I cannot be so positive
In a noble open space carpeted with grass on the high ground
toward Vaucouleurs stood a most majestic beech tree with
wide-reaching arms and a grand spread of shade, and by it a limpid
spring of cold water; and on summer days the children went there--oh,
every summer for more than five hundred years--went there and sang and
danced around the tree for hours together, refreshing themselves at
the spring from time to time, and it was most lovely and enjoyable.
Also they made wreaths of flowers and hung them upon the tree and
about the spring to please the fairies that lived there; for they
liked that, being idle innocent little creatures, as all fairies are,
and fond of anything delicate and pretty like wild flowers put
together in that way. And in return for this attention the fairies did
any friendly thing they could for the children, such as keeping the
spring always full and clear and cold, and driving away serpents and
insects that sting; and so there was never any unkindness between the
fairies and the children during more than five hundred
years--tradition said a thousand--but only the warmest affection and
the most perfect trust and confidence; and whenever a child died the
fairies mourned just as that child's playmates did, and the sign of it
was there to see; for before the dawn on the day of the funeral they
hung a little immortelle over the place where that child was used to
sit under the tree. I know this to be true by my own eyes; it is not
hearsay. And the reason it was known that the fairies did it was
this--that it was made all of black flowers of a sort not known in
Now from time immemorial all children reared in Domremy were
called the Children of the Tree; and they loved that name, for it
carried with it a mystic privilege not granted to any others of the
children of this world. Which was this: whenever one of these came to
die, then beyond the vague and formless images drifting through his
darkening mind rose soft and rich and fair a vision of the Tree--if
all was well with his soul. That was what some said. Others said the
vision came in two ways: once as a warning, one or two years in
advance of death, when the soul was the captive of sin, and then the
Tree appeared in its desolate winter aspect--then that soul was
smitten with an awful fear. If repentance came, and purity of life,
the vision came again, this time summer-clad and beautiful; but if it
were otherwise with that soul the vision was withheld, and it passed
from life knowing its doom. Still others said that the vision came but
once, and then only to the sinless dying forlorn in distant lands and
pitifully longing for some last dear reminder of their home. And what
reminder of it could go to their hearts like the picture of the Tree
that was the darling of their love and the comrade of their joys and
comforter of their small griefs all through the divine days of their
Now the several traditions were as I have said, some believing one
and some another. One of them I knew to be the truth, and that was
the last one. I do not say anything against the others; I think they
were true, but I only know that the last one was; and it is my
thought that if one keep to the things he knows, and not trouble
about the things which he cannot be sure about, he will have the
st3eadier mind for it--and there is profit in that. I know that when
the Children of the Tree die in a far land, then--if they be at peace
with God--they turn their longing eyes toward home, and there,
far-shining, as through a rift in a cloud that curtains heaven, they
see the soft picture of the Fairy Tree, clothed in a dream of golden
light; and they see the bloomy mead sloping away to the river, and to
their perishing nostrils is blown faint and sweet the fragrance of the
flowers of home. And then the vision fades and passes--b they know,
they know! and by their transfigured faces you know also, you who
stand looking on; yes, you know the message that has come, and that it
has come from heaven.
Joan and I believed alike about this matter. But Pierre Morel and
Jacques d'Arc, and many others believed that the vision appeared
twice--to a sinner. In fact, they and many others said they knew it.
Probably because their fathers had known it and had told them; for
one gets most things at second hand in this world.
Now one thing that does make it quite likely that there were really
two apparitions of the Tree is this fact: From the most ancient times
if one saw a villager of ours with his face ash-white and rigid with a
ghastly fright, it was common for every one to whisper to his
neighbor, "Ah, he is in sin, and has got his warning." And the
neighbor would shudder at the thought and whisper back, "Yes, poor
soul, he has seen the Tree."
Such evidences as these have their weight; they are not to be put
aside with a wave of the hand. A thing that is backed by the
cumulative evidence of centuries naturally gets nearer and nearer to
being proof all the time; and if this continue and continue, it will
some day become authority--and authority is a bedded rock, and will
In my long life I have seen several cases where the tree appeared
announcing a death which was still far away; but in none of these was
the person in a state of sin. No; the apparition was in these cases
only a special grace; in place of deferring the tidings of that soul's
redemption till the day of death, the apparition brought them long
before, and with them peace--peace that might no more be
disturbed--the eternal peace of God. I myself, old and broken, wait
with serenity; for I have seen the vision of the Tree. I have seen it,
and am content.
Always, from the remotest times, when the children joined hands
and danced around the Fairy Tree they sang a song which was the
Tree's song, the song of L'Arbre fee de Bourlemont. They sang it to a
quaint sweet air--a solacing sweet air which has gone murmuring
through my dreaming spirit all my life when I was weary and troubled,
resting me and carrying me through night and distance home again. No
stranger can know or feel what that song has been, through the
drifting centuries, to exiled Children of the Tree, homeless and heavy
of heart in countries foreign to their speech and ways. You will think
it a simple thing, that song, and poor, perchance; but if you will
remember what it was to us, and what it brought before our eyes when
it floated through our memories, then you will respect it. And you
will understand how the water wells up in our eyes and makes all
things dim, and our voices break and we cannot sing the last lines:
"And when, in Exile wand'ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse
of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!"
And you will remember that Joan of Arc sang this song with us
around the Tree when she was a little child, and always loved it. And
that hallows it, yes, you will grant that:
L'ARBRE FE DE BOURLEMONT
SONG OF THE CHILDREN
Now what has kept your leaves so green, Arbre Fee de Bourlemont?
The children's tears! They brought each grief, And you did comfort
them and cheer Their bruised hearts, and steal a tear That, healed,
rose a leaf.
And what has built you up so strong, Arbre Fee de Bourlemont?
The children's love! They've loved you long Ten hundred years, in
sooth, They've nourished you with praise and song, And warmed your
heart and kept it young-- A thousand years of youth!
Bide always green in our young hearts, Arbre Fee de Bourlemont!
And we shall always youthful be, Not heeding Time his flight; And
when, in exile wand'ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse of thee,
Oh, rise upon our sight!
The fairies were still there when we were children, but we never
saw them; because, a hundred years before that, the priest of Domremy
had held a religious function under the tree and denounced them as
being blood-kin to the Fiend and barred them from redemption; and then
he warned them never to show themselves again, nor hang any more
immortelles, on pain of perpetual banishment from that parish.
All the children pleaded for the fairies, and said they were their
good friends and dear to them and never did them any harm, but the
priest would not listen, and said it was sin and shame to have such
friends. The children mourned and could not be comforted; and they
made an agreement among themselves that they would always continue to
hang flower-wreaths on the tree as a perpetual sign to the fairies
that they were still loved and remembered, though lost to sight.
But late one night a great misfortune befell. Edmond Aubrey's
mother passed by the Tree, and the fairies were stealing a dance, not
thinking anybody was by; and they were so busy, and so intoxicated
with the wild happiness of it, and with the bumpers of dew sharpened
up with honey which they had been drinking, that they noticed nothing;
so Dame Aubrey stood there astonished and admiring, and saw the little
fantastic atoms holding hands, as many as three hundred of them,
tearing around in a great ring half as big as an ordinary bedroom, and
leaning away back and spreading their mouths with laughter and song,
which she could hear quite distinctly, and kicking their legs up as
much as three inches from the ground in perfect abandon and
hilarity--oh, the very maddest and witchingest dance the woman ever
But in about a minute or two minutes the poor little ruined
creatures discovered her. They burst out in one heartbreaking squeak
of grief and terror and fled every which way, with their wee hazel-nut
fists in their eyes and crying; and so disappeared.
The heartless woman--no, the foolish woman; she was not heartless,
but only thoughtless--went straight home and told the neighbors all
about it, whilst we, the small friends of the fairies, were asleep and
not witting the calamity that was come upon us, and all unconscious
that we ought to be up and trying to stop these fatal tongues. In the
morning everybody knew, and the disaster was complete, for where
everybody knows a thing the priest knows it, of course. We all flocked
to Pare Fronte, crying and begging--and he had to cry, too, seeing our
sorrow, for he had a most kind and gentle nature; and he did not want
to banish the fairies, and said so; but said he had no choice, for it
had been decreed that if they ever revealed themselves to man again,
they must go. This all happened at the worst time possible, for Joan
of Arc was ill of a fever and out of her head, and what could we do
who had not her gifts of reasoning and persuasion? We flew in a swarm
to her bed and cried out, "Joan, wake! Wake, there is no moment to
lose! Come and plead for the fairies--come and save them; only you can
But her mind was wandering, she did not know what we said nor what
we meant; so we went away knowing all was lost. Yes, all was lost,
forever lost; the faithful friends of the children for five hundred
years must go, and never come back any more.
It was a bitter day for us, that day that Pare Fronte held the
function under the tree and banished the fairies. We could not wear
mourning that any could have noticed, it would not have been allowed;
so we had to be content with some poor small rag of black tied upon
our garments where it made no show; but in our hearts we wore
mourning, big and noble and occupying all the room, for our hearts
were ours; they could not get at them to prevent that.
The great tree--l'Arbre Fee do Bourlemont was its beautiful
name--was never afterward quite as much to us as it had been before,
but it was always dear; is dear to me yet when I got there now, once a
year in my old age, to sit under it and bring back the lost playmates
of my youth and group them about me and look upon their faces through
my tears and break my heart, oh, my God! No, the place was not quite
the same afterward. In one or two ways it could not be; for, the
fairies' protection being gone, the spring lost much of its freshness
and coldness, and more than two-thirds of its volume, and the banished
serpents and stinging insects returned, and multiplied, and became a
torment and have remained so to this day.
When that wise little child, Joan, got well, we realized how much
her illness had cost us; for we found that we had been right in
believing she could save the fairies. She burst into a great storm of
anger, for so little a creature, and went straight to Pare Fronte, and
stood up before him where he sat, and made reverence and said:
"The fairies were to go if they showed themselves to people again,
is it not so?"
"Yes, that was it, dear."
"If a man comes prying into a person's room at midnight when that
person is half-naked, will you be so unjust as to say that that
person is showing himself to that man?"
"Well--no." The good priest looked a little troubled and uneasy
when he said it.
"Is a sin a sin, anyway, even if one did not intend to commit it?"
Pare Fronte threw up his hands and cried out:
"Oh, my poor little child, I see all my fault," and he drew here to
his side and put an arm around her and tried to make his peace with
her, but her temper was up so high that she could not get it down
right away, but buried her head against his breast and broke out
crying and said:
"Then the fairies committed no sin, for there was no intention to
commit one, they not knowing that any one was by; and because they
were little creatures and could not speak for themselves and say the
saw was against the intention, not against the innocent act, because
they had no friend to think that simple thing for them and say it,
they have been sent away from their home forever, and it was wrong,
wrong to do it!"
The good father hugged her yet closer to his side and said:
"Oh, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings the heedless and
unthinking are condemned; would God I could bring the little
creatures back, for your sake. And mine, yes, and mine; for I have
been unjust. There, there, don't cry--nobody could be sorrier than
your poor old friend--don't cry, dear."
"But I can't stop right away, I've got to. And it is no little
matter, this thing that you have done. Is being sorry penance enough
for such an act?"
Pare Fronte turned away his face, for it would have hurt her to see
him laugh, and said:
"Oh, thou remorseless but most just accuser, no, it is not. I will
put on sackcloth and ashes; there--are you satisfied?"
Joan's sobs began to diminish, and she presently looked up at the
old man through her tears, and said, in her simple way:
"Yes, that will do--if it will clear you."
Pare Fronte would have been moved to laugh again, perhaps, if he
had not remembered in time that he had made a contract, and not a
very agreeable one. It must be fulfilled. So he got up and went to
the fireplace, Joan watching him with deep interest, and took a
shovelful of cold ashes, and was going to empty them on his old gray
head when a better idea came to him, and he said:
"Would you mind helping me, dear?"
He got down on his knees and bent his head low, and said:
"Take the ashes and put them on my head for me."
The matter ended there, of course. The victory was with the priest.
One can imagine how the idea of such a profanation would strike Joan
or any other child in the village. She ran and dropped upon her knees
by his side and said:
"Oh, it is dreadful. I didn't know that that was what one meant by
sackcloth and ashes--do please get up, father."
"But I can't until I am forgiven. Do you forgive me?"
"I? Oh, you have done nothing to me, father; it is yourself that
must forgive yourself for wronging those poor things. Please get up,
gather, won't you?"
"But I am worse off now than I was before. I thought I was earning
your forgiveness, but if it is my own, I can't be lenient; it would
not become me. Now what can I do? Find me some way out of this with
your wise little head."
The Pare would not stir, for all Joan's pleadings. She was about to
cry again; then she had an idea, and seized the shovel and deluged
her own head with the ashes, stammering out through her chokings and
"There--now it is done. Oh, please get up, father."
The old man, both touched and amused, gathered her to his breast
"Oh, you incomparable child! It's a humble martyrdom, and not of a
sort presentable in a picture, but the right and true spirit is in it;
that I testify."
Then he brushed the ashes out of her hair, and helped her scour her
face and neck and properly tidy herself up. He was in fine spirits
now, and ready for further argument, so he took his seat and drew
Joan to his side again, and said:
"Joan, you were used to make wreaths there at the Fairy Tree with
the other children; is it not so?"
That was the way he always started out when he was going to corner
me up and catch me in something--just that gentle, indifferent way
that fools a person so, and leads him into the trap, he never noticing
which way he is traveling until he is in and the door shut on him. He
enjoyed that. I knew he was going to drop corn along in front of Joan
now. Joan answered:
"Did you hang them on the tree?"
"Didn't hang them there?"
"Why didn't you?"
"I--well, I didn't wish to."
"Didn't wish to?"
"What did you do with them?"
"I hung them in the church."
"Why didn't you want to hang them in the tree?"
"Because it was said that the fairies were of kin to the Fiend, and
that it was sinful to show them honor."
"Did you believe it was wrong to honor them so?"
"Yes. I thought it must be wrong."
"Then if it was wrong to honor them in that way, and if they were
of kin to the Fiend, they could be dangerous company for you and the
other children, couldn't they?"
"I suppose so--yes, I think so."
He studied a minute, and I judged he was going to spring his trap,
and he did. He said:
"Then the matter stands like this. They were banned creatures, of
fearful origin; they could be dangerous company for the children. Now
give me a rational reason, dear, if you can think of any, why you call
it a wrong to drive them into banishment, and why you would have saved
them from it. In a word, what loss have you suffered by it?"
How stupid of him to go and throw his case away like that! I could
have boxed his ears for vexation if he had been a boy. He was going
along all right until he ruined everything by winding up in that
foolish and fatal way. What had she lost by it! Was he never going to
find out what kind of a child Joan of Arc was? Was he never going to
learn that things which merely concerned her own gain or loss she
cared nothing about? Could he never get the simple fact into his head
that the sure way and the only way to rouse her up and set her on fire
was to show her where some other person was going to suffer wrong or
hurt or loss? Why, he had gone and set a trap for himself--that was
all he had accomplished.
The minute those words were out of his mouth her temper was up,
the indignant tears rose in her eyes, and she burst out on him with
an energy and passion which astonished him, but didn't astonish me,
for I knew he had fired a mine when he touched off his ill-chosen
"Oh, father, how can you talk like that? Who owns France?"
"God and the King."
"Satan, my child? This is the footstool of the Most High--Satan
owns no handful of its soil."
"Then who gave those poor creatures their home? God. Who protected
them in it all those centuries? God. Who allowed them to dance and
play there all those centuries and found no fault with it? God. Who
disapproved of God's approval and put a threat upon them? A man. Who
caught them again in harmless sports that God allowed and a man
forbade, and carried out that threat, and drove the poor things away
from the home the good God gave them in His mercy and His pity, and
sent down His rain and dew and sunshine upon it five hundred years in
token of His peace? It was their home--theirs, by the grace of God and
His good heart, and no man had a right to rob them of it. And they
were the gentlest, truest friends that children ever had, and did them
sweet and loving service all these five long centuries, and never any
hurt or harm; and the children loved them, and now they mourn for
them, and there is no healing for their grief. And what had the
children done that they should suffer this cruel stroke? The poor
fairies could have been dangerous company for the children? Yes, but
never had been; and could is no argument. Kinsmen of the Fiend? What
of it? Kinsmen of the Fiend have rights, and these had; and children
have rights, and these had; and if I had been there I would have
spoken--I would have begged for the children and the fiends, and
stayed your hand and saved them all. But now--oh, now, all is lost;
everything is lost, and there is no help more!"
Then she finished with a blast at that idea that fairy kinsmen of
the Fiend ought to be shunned and denied human sympathy and
friendship because salvation was barred against them. She said that
for that very reason people ought to pity them, and do every humane
and loving thing they could to make them forget the hard fate that had
been put upon them by accident of birth and no fault of their own.
"Poor little creatures!" she said. "What can a person's heart be made
of that can pity a Christian's child and yet can't pity a devil's
child, that a thousand times more needs it!"
She had torn loose from Pare Fronte, and was crying, with her
knuckles in her eyes, and stamping her small feet in a fury; and now
she burst out of the place and was gone before we could gather our
senses together out of this storm of words and this whirlwind of
The Pare had got upon his feet, toward the last, and now he stood
there passing his hand back and forth across his forehead like a
person who is dazed and troubled; then he turned and wandered toward
the door of his little workroom, and as he passed through it I heard
him murmur sorrowfully:
"Ah, me, poor children, poor fiends, they have rights, and she said
true--I never thought of that. God forgive me, I am to blame."
When I heard that, I knew I was right in the thought that he had
set a trap for himself. It was so, and he had walked into it, you see.
I seemed to feel encouraged, and wondered if mayhap I might get him
into one; but upon reflection my heart went down, for this was not my
Chapter 3 All Aflame with Love of France
SPEAKING of this matter reminds me of many incidents, many things
that I could tell, but I think I will not try to do it now. It will be
more to my present humor to call back a little glimpse of the simple
and colorless good times we used to have in our village homes in those
peaceful days--especially in the winter. In the summer we children
were out on the breezy uplands with the flocks from dawn till night,
and then there was noisy frolicking and all that; but winter was the
cozy time, winter was the snug time. Often we gathered in old Jacques
d'Arc's big dirt-floored apartment, with a great fire going, and
played games, and sang songs, and told fortunes, and listened to the
old villagers tell tales and histories and lies and one thing and
another till twelve o'clock at night.
One winter's night we were gathered there--it was the winter that
for years afterward they called the hard winter--and that particular
night was a sharp one. It blew a gale outside, and the screaming of
the wind was a stirring sound, and I think I may say it was
beautiful, for I think it is great and fine and beautiful to hear the
wind rage and storm and blow its clarions like that, when you are
inside and comfortable. And we were. We had a roaring fire, and the
pleasant spit-spit of the snow and sleet falling in it down the
chimney, and the yarning and laughing and singing went on at a noble
rate till about ten o'clock, and then we had a supper of hot porridge
and beans, and meal cakes with butter, and appetites to match.
Little Joan sat on a box apart, and had her bowl and bread on
another one, and her pets around her helping. She had more than was
usual of them or economical, because all the outcast cats came and
took up with her, and homeless or unlovable animals of other kinds
heard about it and came, and these spread the matter to the other
creatures, and they came also; and as the birds and the other timid
wild things of the woods were not afraid of her, but always had an
idea she was a friend when they came across her, and generally struck
up an acquaintance with her to get invited to the house, she always
had samples of those breeds in stock. She was hospitable to them all,
for an animal was an animal to her, and dear by mere reason of being
an animal, no matter about its sort or social station; and as she
would allow of no cages, no collars, no fetters, but left the
creatures free to come and go as they liked, that contented them, and
they came; but they didn't go, to any extent, and so they were a
marvelous nuisance, and made Jacques d'Arc swear a good deal; but his
wife said God gave the child the instinct, and knew what He was doing
when He did it, therefore it must have its course; it would be no
sound prudence to meddle with His affairs when no invitation had been
extended. So the pets were left in peace, and here they were, as I
have said, rabbits, birds, squirrels, cats, and other reptiles, all
around the child, and full of interest in her supper, and helping what
they could. There was a very small squirrel on her shoulder, sitting
up, as those creatures do, and turning a rocky fragment of prehistoric
chestnut-cake over and over in its knotty hands, and hunting for the
less indurated places, and giving its elevated bushy tail a flirt and
its pointed ears a toss when it found one--signifying thankfulness and
surprise--and then it filed that place off with those two slender
front teeth which a squirrel carries for that purpose and not for
ornament, for ornamental they never could be, as any will admit that
have noticed them.
Everything was going fine and breezy and hilarious, but then there
came an interruption, for somebody hammered on the door. It was one
of those ragged road-stragglers--the eternal wars kept the country
full of them. He came in, all over snow, and stamped his feet, and
shook, and brushed himself, and shut the door, and took off his limp
ruin of a hat, and slapped it once or twice against his leg to knock
off its fleece of snow, and then glanced around on the company with a
pleased look upon his thin face, and a most yearning and famished one
in his eye when it fell upon the victuals, and then he gave us a
humble and conciliatory salutation, and said it was a blessed thing to
have a fire like that on such a night, and a roof overhead like this,
and that rich food to eat, and loving friends to talk with--ah, yes,
this was true, and God help the homeless, and such as must trudge the
roads in this weather.
Nobody said anything. The embarrassed poor creature stood there
and appealed to one face after the other with his eyes, and found no
welcome in any, the smile on his own face flickering and fading and
perishing, meanwhile; then he dropped his gaze, the muscles of his
face began to twitch, and he put up his hand to cover this womanish
sign of weakness.
This thunder-blast was from old Jacques d'Arc, and Joan was the
object of it. The stranger was startled, and took his hand away, and
there was Joan standing before him offering him her bowl of porridge.
The man said:
"God Almighty bless you, my darling!" and then the tears came, and
ran down his cheeks, but he was afraid to take the bowl.
"Do you hear me? Sit down, I say!"
There could not be a child more easy to persuade than Joan, but
this was not the way. Her father had not the art; neither could he
learn it. Joan said:
"Father, he is hungry; I can see it."
"Let him work for food, then. We are being eaten out of house and
home by his like, and I have said I would endure it no more, and will
keep my word. He has the face of a rascal anyhow, and a villain. Sit
down, I tell you!"
"I know not if he is a rascal or no, but he is hungry, father, and
shall have my porridge--I do not need it."
"If you don't obey me I'll-- Rascals are not entitled to help from
honest people, and no bite nor sup shall they have in this house.
She set her bowl down on the box and came over and stood before
her scowling father, and said:
"Father, if you will not let me, then it must be as you say; but I
would that you would think--then you would see that it is not right
to punish one part of him for what the other part has done; for it is
that poor stranger's head that does the evil things, but it is not his
head that is hungry, it is his stomach, and it has done no harm to
anybody, but is without blame, and innocent, not having any way to do
a wrong, even if it was minded to it. Please let--"
"What an idea! It is the most idiotic speech I ever heard."
But Aubrey, the maire, broke in, he being fond of an argument, and
having a pretty gift in that regard, as all acknowledged. Rising in
his place and leaning his knuckles upon the table and looking about
him with easy dignity, after the manner of such as be orators, he
began, smooth and persuasive:
"I will differ with you there, gossip, and will undertake to show
the company"--here he looked around upon us and nodded his head in a
confident way--"that there is a grain of sense in what the child has
said; for look you, it is of a certainty most true and demonstrable
that it is a man's head that is master and supreme ruler over his
whole body. Is that granted? Will any deny it?" He glanced around
again; everybody indicated assent. "Very well, then; that being the
case, no part of the body is responsible for the result when it
carries out an order delivered to it by the head; ergo, the head is
alone responsible for crimes done by a man's hands or feet or
stomach--do you get the idea? am I right thus far?" Everybody said
yes, and said it with enthusiasm, and some said, one to another, that
the maire was in great form to-night and at his very best--which
pleased the maire exceedingly and made his eyes sparkle with pleasure,
for he overheard these things; so he went on in the same fertile and
brilliant way. "Now, then, we will consider what the term
responsibility means, and how it affects the case in point.
Responsibility makes a man responsible for only those things for which
he is properly responsible"--and he waved his spoon around in a wide
sweep to indicate the comprehensive nature of that class of
responsibilities which render people responsible, and several
exclaimed, admiringly, "He is right!--he has put that whole tangled
thing into a nutshell--it is wonderful!"" After a little pause to give
the interest opportunity to gather and grow, he went on: "Very good.
Let us suppose the case of a pair of tongs that falls upon a man's
foot, causing a cruel hurt. Will you claim that the tongs are
punishable for that? The question is answered; I see by your faces
that you would call such a claim absurd. Now, why is it absurd? It is
absurd because, there being no reasoning faculty--that is to say, no
faculty of personal command--in a pair of togs, personal
responsibility for the acts of the tongs is wholly absent from the
tongs; and, therefore, responsibility being absent, punishment cannot
ensue. Am I right?" A hearty burst of applause was his answer. "Now,
then, we arrive at a man's stomach. Consider how exactly, how
marvelously, indeed, its situation corresponds to that of a pair of
tongs. Listen--and take careful note, I beg you. Can a man's stomach
plan a murder? No. Can it plan a theft? No. Can it plan an incendiary
fire? No. Now answer me--can a pair of tongs?" (There were admiring
shouts of "No!" and "The cases are just exact!" and "Don't he do it
splendid!") "Now, then, friends and neighbors, a stomach which cannot
plan a crime cannot be a principal in the commission of it--that is
plain, as you see. The matter is narrowed down by that much; we will
narrow it further. Can a stomach, of its own motion, assist at a
crime? The answer is no, because command is absent, the reasoning
faculty is absent, volition is absent--as in the case of the tongs. We
perceive now, do we not, that the stomach is totally irresponsible for
crimes committed, either in whole or in part, by it?" He got a rousing
cheer for response. "Then what do we arrive at as our verdict? Clearly
this: that there is no such thing in this world as a guilty stomach;
that in the body of the veriest rascal resides a pure and innocent
stomach; that, whatever it's owner may do, it at least should be
sacred in our eyes; and that while God gives us minds to think just
and charitable and honorable thoughts, it should be, and is, our
privilege, as well as our duty, not only to feed the hungry stomach
that resides in a rascal, having pity for its sorrow and its need, but
to do it gladly, gratefully, in recognition of its sturdy and loyal
maintenance of its purity and innocence in the midst of temptation
and in company so repugnant to its better feelings. I am done."
Well, you never saw such an effect! They rose--the whole house
rose--an clapped, and cheered, and praised him to the skies; and one
after another, still clapping and shouting, they crowded forward, some
with moisture in their eyes, and wrung his hands, and said such
glorious things to him that he was clear overcome with pride and
happiness, and couldn't say a word, for his voice would have broken,
sure. It was splendid to see; and everybody said he had never come up
to that speech in his life before, and never could do it again.
Eloquence is a power, there is no question of that. Even old Jacques
d'Arc was carried away, for once in his life, and shouted out:
"It's all right, Joan--give him the porridge!"
She was embarrassed, and did not seem to know what to say, and so
didn't say anything. It was because she had given the man the porridge
long ago and he had already eaten it all up. When she was asked why
she had not waited until a decision was arrived at, she said the man's
stomach was very hungry, and it would not have been wise to wait,
since she could not tell what the decision would be. Now that was a
good and thoughtful idea for a child.
The man was not a rascal at all. He was a very good fellow, only
he was out of luck, and surely that was no crime at that time in
France. Now that his stomach was proved to be innocent, it was
allowed to make itself at home; and as soon as it was well filled and
needed nothing more, the man unwound his tongue and turned it loose,
and it was really a noble one to go. He had been in the wars for
years, and the things he told and the way he told them fired
everybody's patriotism away up high, and set all hearts to thumping
and all pulses to leaping; then, before anybody rightly knew how the
change was made, he was leading us a sublime march through the ancient
glories of France, and in fancy we saw the titanic forms of the twelve
paladins rise out of the mists of the past and face their fate; we
heard the tread of the innumerable hosts sweeping down to shut them
in; we saw this human tide flow and ebb, ebb and flow, and waste away
before that little band of heroes; we saw each detail pass before us
of that most stupendous, most disastrous, yet most adored and glorious
day in French legendary history; here and there and yonder, across
that vast field of the dead and dying, we saw this and that and the
other paladin dealing his prodigious blows with weary arm and failing
strength, and one by one we saw them fall, till only one remained--he
that was without peer, he whose name gives name to the Song of Songs,
the song which no Frenchman can hear and keep his feelings down and
his pride of country cool; then, grandest and pitifulest scene of all,
we saw his own pathetic deat; and out stillness, as we sat with parted
lips and breathless, hanging upon this man's words, gave us a sense of
the awful stillness that reigned in that field of slaughter when that
last surviving soul had passed.
And now, in this solemn hush, the stranger gave Joan a pat or two
on the head and said:
"Little maid--whom God keep!--you have brought me from death to
life this night; now listen: here is your reward," and at that supreme
time for such a heart-melting, soul-rousing surprise, without another
word he lifted up the most noble and pathetic voice that was ever
heard, and began to pour out the great Song of Roland!
Think of that, with a French audience all stirred up and ready. Oh,
where was your spoken eloquence now! what was it to this! How fine he
looked, how stately, how inspired, as he stood there with that mighty
chant welling from his lips and his heart, his whole body
transfigured, and his rags along with it.
Everybody rose and stood while he sang, and their faces glowed and
their eyes burned; and the tears came and flowed don their cheeks and
their forms began to sway unconsciously to the swing of the song, and
their bosoms to heave and pant; and moanings broke out, and deep
ejaculations; and when the last verse was reached, and Roland lay
dying, all alone, with his face to the field and to his slain, lying
there in heaps and winrows, and took off and held up his gauntlet to
God with his failing hand, and breathed his beautiful prayer with his
paling pips, all burst out in sobs and wailings. But when the final
great note died out and the song was done, they all flung themselves
in a body at the singer, stark mad with love of him and love of France
and pride in her great deeds and old renown, and smothered him with
their embracings; but Joan was there first, hugged close to his
breast, and covering his face with idolatrous kisses.
The storm raged on outside, but that was no matter; this was the
stranger's home now, for as long as he might please.
Chapter 4 Joan Tames the Mad Man
ALL CHILDREN have nicknames, and we had ours. We got one apiece
early, and they stuck to us; but Joan was richer in this matter, for,
as time went on, she earned a second, and then a third, and so on, and
we gave them to her. First and last she had as many as half a dozen.
Several of these she never lost. Peasant-girls are bashful naturally;
but she surpassed the rule so far, and colored so easily, and was so
easily embarrassed in the presence of strangers, that we nicknamed her
the Bashful. We were all patriots, but she was called the Patriot,
because our warmest feeling for our country was cold beside hers. Also
she was called the Beautiful; and this was not merely because of the
extraordinary beauty of her face and form, but because of the
loveliness of her character. These names she kept, and one other--the
We grew along up, in that plodding and peaceful region, and got to
be good-sized boys and girls--big enough, in fact, to begin to know
as much about the wars raging perpetually to the west and north of us
as our elders, and also to feel as stirred up over the occasional news
from these red fields as they did. I remember certain of these days
very clearly. One Tuesday a crowd of us were romping and singing
around the Fairy Tree, and hanging garlands on it in memory of our
lost little fairy friends, when Little Mengette cried out:
"Look! What is that?"
When one exclaims like that in a way that shows astonishment and
apprehension, he gets attention. All the panting breasts and flushed
faces flocked together, and all the eager eyes were turned in one
direction--down the slope, toward the village.
"It's a black flag."
"A black flag! No--is it?"
"You can see for yourself that it is nothing else."
"It is a black flag, sure! Now, has any ever seen the like of that
"What can it mean?"
"Mean? It means something dreadful--what else?"
"That is nothing to the point; anybody knows that without the
telling. But what?--that is the question."
"It is a chance that he that bears it can answer as well as any
that are here, if you contain yourself till he comes."
"He runs well. Who is it?"
Some named one, some another; but presently all saw that it was
tienne Roze, called the Sunflower, because he had yellow hair and a
round pock-marked face. His ancestors had been Germans some centuries
ago. He came straining up the slope, now and then projecting his
flag-stick aloft and giving his black symbol of woe a wave in the air,
whilst all eyes watched him, all tongues discussed him, and every
heart beat faster and faster with impatience to know his news. At last
he sprang among us, and struck his flag-stick into the ground, saying:
"There! Stand there and represent France while I get my breath.
She needs no other flag now."
All the giddy chatter stopped. It was as if one had announced a
death. In that chilly hush there was no sound audible but the panting
of the breath-blown boy. When he was presently able to speak, he said:
"Black news is come. A treaty has been made at Troyes between
France and the English and Burgundians. By it France is betrayed and
delivered over, tied hand and foot, to the enemy. It is the work of
the Duke of Burgundy and that she-devil, the Queen of France. It
marries Henry of England to Catharine of France--"
"Is not this a lie? Marries the daughter of France to the Butcher
of Agincourt? It is not to be believed. You have not heard aright."
"If you cannot believe that, Jacques d'Arc, then you have a
difficult task indeed before you, for worse is to come. Any child that
is born of that marriage--if even a girl--is to inherit the thrones of
both England and France, and this double ownership is to remain with
its posterity forever!"
"Now that is certainly a lie, for it runs counter to our Salic law,
and so is not legal and cannot have effect," said Edmond Aubrey,
called the Paladin, because of the armies he was always going to eat
up some day. He would have said more, but he was drowned out by the
clamors of the others, who all burst into a fury over this feature of
the treaty, all talking at once and nobody hearing anybody, until
presently Haumette persuaded them to be still, saying:
"It is not fair to break him up so in his tale; pray let him go on.
You find fault with his history because it seems to be lies. That
were reason for satisfaction--that kind of lies--not discontent. Tell
the rest, tienne."
"There is but this to tell: Our King, Charles VI., is to reign
until he dies, then Henry V. of England is to be Regent of France
until a child of his shall be old enough to--"
"That man is to reign over us--the Butcher? It is lies! all lies!"
cried the Paladin. "Besides, look you--what becomes of our Dauphin?
What says the treaty about him?"
"Nothing. It takes away his throne and makes him an outcast."
Then everybody shouted at once and said the news was a lie; and
all began to get cheerful again, saying, "Our King would have to sign
the treaty to make it good; and that he would not do, seeing how it
serves his own son."
But the Sunflower said: "I will ask you this: Would the Queen sign
a treaty disinheriting her son?"
"That viper? Certainly. Nobody is talking of her. Nobody expects
better of her. There is no villainy she will stick at, if it feed her
spite; and she hates her son. Her signing it is of no consequence.
The King must sign."
"I will ask you another thing. What is the King's condition? Mad,
"Yes, and his people love him all the more for it. It brings him
near to them by his sufferings; and pitying him makes them love him."
"You say right, Jacques d'Arc. Well, what would you of one that is
mad? Does he know what he does? No. Does he do what others make him
do? Yes. Now, then, I tell you he has signed the treaty."
"Who made him do it?"
"You know, without my telling. The Queen."
Then there was another uproar--everybody talking at once, and all
heaping execrations upon the Queen's head. Finally Jacques d'Arc
"But many reports come that are not true. Nothing so shameful as
this has ever come before, nothing that cuts so deep, nothing that
has dragged France so low; therefore there is hope that this tale is
but another idle rumor. Where did you get it?"
The color went out of his sister Joan's face. She dreaded the
answer; and her instinct was right.
"The cure of Maxey brought it."
There was a general gasp. We knew him, you see, for a trusty man.
"Did he believe it?"
The hearts almost stopped beating. Then came the answer:
"He did. And that is not all. He said he knew it to be true."
Some of the girls began to sob; the boys were struck silent. The
distress in Joan's face was like that which one sees in the face of a
dumb animal that has received a mortal hurt. The animal bears it,
making no complaint; she bore it also, saying no word. Her brother
Jacques put his hand on her head and caressed her hair to indicate
his sympathy, and she gathered the hand to her lips and kissed it for
thanks, not saying anything. Presently the reaction came, and the boys
began to talk. Noael Rainguesson said:
"Oh, are we never going to be men! We do grow along so slowly, and
France never needed soldiers as she needs them now, to wipe out this
"I hate youth!" said Pierre Morel, called the Dragon-fly because
his eyes stuck out so. "You've always got to wait, and wait, and
wait--and here are the great wars wasting away for a hundred years,
and you never get a chance. If I could only be a soldier now!"
"As for me, I'm not going to wait much longer," said the Paladin;
"and when I do start you'll hear from me, I promise you that. There
are some who, in storming a castle, prefer to be in the rear; but as
for me, give me the front or none; I will have none in front of me
but the officers."
Even the girls got the war spirit, and Marie Dupont said:
"I would I were a man; I would start this minute!" and looked very
proud of herself, and glanced about for applause.
"So would I," said Cecile Letellier, sniffing the air like a
war-horse that smells the battle; "I warrant you I would not turn back
from the field though all England were in front of me."
"Pooh!" said the Paladin; "girls can brag, but that's all they are
good for. Let a thousand of them come face to face with a handful of
soldiers once, if you want to see what running is like. Here's little
Joan--next she'll be threatening to go for a soldier!"
The idea was so funny, and got such a good laugh, that the Paladin
gave it another trial, and said: "Why you can just see her!--see her
plunge into battle like any old veteran. Yes, indeed; and not a poor
shabby common soldier like us, but an officer--an officer, mind you,
with armor on, and the bars of a steel helmet to blush behind and hide
her embarrassment when she finds an army in front of her that she
hasn't been introduced to. An officer? Why, she'll be a captain! A
captain, I tell you, with a hundred men at her back--or maybe girls.
Oh, no common-soldier business for her! And, dear me, when she starts
for that other army, you'll think there's a hurricane blowing it
Well, he kept it up like that till he made their sides ache with
laughing; which was quite natural, for certainly it was a very funny
idea--at that time--I mean, the idea of that gentle little creature,
that wouldn't hurt a fly, and couldn't bear the sight of blood, and
was so girlish and shrinking in all ways, rushing into battle with a
gang of soldiers at her back. Poor thing, she sat there confused and
ashamed to be so laughed at; and yet at that very minute there was
something about to happen which would change the aspect of things,
and make those young people see that when it comes to laughing, the
person that laughs last has the best chance. For just then a face
which we all knew and all feared projected itself from behind the
Fairy Tree, and the thought that shot through us all was, crazy
Benoist has gotten loose from his cage, and we are as good as dead!
This ragged and hairy and horrible creature glided out from behind the
tree, and raised an ax as he came. We all broke and fled, this way and
that, the girls screaming and crying. No, not all; all but Joan. She
stood up and faced the man, and remained so. As we reached the wood
that borders the grassy clearing and jumped into its shelter, two or
three of us glanced back to see if Benoist was gaining on us, and that
is what we saw--Joan standing, and the maniac gliding stealthily
toward her with his ax lifted. The sight was sickening. We stood where
we were, trembling and not able to move. I did not want to see the
murder done, and yet I could not take my eyes away. Now I saw Joan
step forward to meet the man, though I believed my eyes must be
deceiving me. Then I saw him stop. He threatened her with his ax, as
if to warn her not to come further, but she paid no heed, but went
steadily on, until she was right in front of him--right under his ax.
Then she stopped, and seemed to begin to talke with him. It made me
sick, yes, giddy, and everything swam around me, and I could not see
anything for a time--whether long or brief I do not know. When this
passed and I looked again, Joan was walking by the man's side toward
the village, holding him by his hand. The ax was in her other hand.
One by one the boys and girls crept out, and we stood there gazing,
open-mouthed, till those two entered the village and were hid from
sight. It was then that we named her the Brave.
We left the black flag there to continue its mournful office, for
we had other matter to think of now. We started for the village on a
run, to give warning, and get Joan out of her peril; though for one,
after seeing what I had seen, it seemed to me that while Joan had the
ax the man's chance was not the best of the two. When we arrived the
danger was past, the madman was in custody. All the people were
flocking to the little square in front of the church to talk and
exclaim and wonder over the event, and it even made the town forget
the black news of the treaty for two or three hours.
All the women kept hugging and kissing Joan, and praising her, and
crying, and the men patted her on the head and said they wished she
was a man, they would send her to the wars and never doubt but that
she would strike some blows that would be heard of. She had to tear
herself away and go and hide, this glory was so trying to her
Of course the people began to ask us for the particulars. I was so
ashamed that I made an excuse to the first comer, and got privately
away and went back to the Fairy Tree, to get relief from the
embarrassment of those questionings. There I found Joan, but she was
there to get relief from the embarrassment of glory. One by one the
others shirked the inquirers and joined us in our refuge. Then we
gathered around Joan, and asked her how she had dared to do that
thing. She was very modest about it, and said:
"You make a great thing of it, but you mistake; it was not a great
matter. It was not as if I had been a stranger to the man. I know
him, and have known him long; and he knows me, and likes me. I have
fed him through the bars of his cage many times; and last December,
when they chopped off two of his fingers to remind him to stop seizing
and wounding people passing by, I dressed his hand every day till it
was well again."
"That is all well enough," said Little Mengette, "but he is a
madman, dear, and so his likings and his gratitude and friendliness
go for nothing when his rage is up. You did a perilous thing."
"Of course you did," said the Sunflower. "Didn't he threaten to
kill you with the ax?"
"Didn't he threaten you more than once?"
"Didn't you feel afraid?"
"No--at least not much--very little."
"Why didn't you?"
She thought a moment, then said, quite simply:
"I don't know."
It made everybody laugh. Then the Sunflower said it was like a
lamb trying to think out how it had come to eat a wolf, but had to
give it up.
Cecile Letellier asked, "Why didn't you run when we did?"
"Because it was necessary to get him to his cage; else he would
kill some one. Then he would come to the like harm himself."
It is noticeable that this remark, which implies that Joan was
entirely forgetful of herself and h3er own danger, and had thought
and wrought for the preservation of other people alone, was not
challenged, or criticized, or commented upon by anybody there, but
was taken by all as matter of course and true. It shows how clearly
her character was defined, and how well it was known and established.
There was silence for a time, and perhaps we were all thinking of
the same thing--namely, what a poor figure we had cut in that
adventure as contrasted with Joan's performance. I tried to think up
some good way of explaining why I had run away and left a little girl
at the mercy of a maniac armed with an ax, but all of the explanations
that offered themselves to me seemed so cheap and shabby that I gave
the matter up and remained still. But others were less wise. Noael
Rainguesson fidgeted awhile, then broke out with a remark which showed
what his mind had been running on:
"The fact is, I was taken by surprise. That is the reason. If I had
had a moment to think, I would no more have thought of running that I
would think of running from a baby. For, after all, what is Theophile
Benoist, that I should seem to be afraid of him? Pooh! the idea of
being afraid of that poor thing! I only wish he would come along
now--I'd show you!"
"So do I!" cried Pierre Morel. "If I wouldn't make him climb this
tree quicker than--well, you'd see what I would do! Taking a person
by surprise, that way--why, I never meant to run; not in earnest, I
mean. I never thought of running in earnest; I only wanted to have
some fun, and when I saw Joan standing there, and him threatening her,
it was all I could do to restrain myself from going there and just
tearing the livers and lights out of him. I wanted to do it bad
enough, and if it was to do over again, I would! If ever he comes
fooling around me again, I'll--"
"Oh, hush!" said the Paladin, breaking in with an air of disdain;
"the way you people talk, a person would think there's something
heroic about standing up and facing down that poor remnant of a man.
Why, it's nothing! There's small glory to be got in facing him down, I
should say. Why, I wouldn't want any better fun than to face down a
hundred like him. If he was to come along here now, I would walk up to
him just as I am now--I wouldn't care if he had a thousand axes--and
And so he went on and on, telling the brave things he would say
and the wonders he would do; and the others put in a word from time
to time, describing over again the gory marvels they would do if ever
that madman ventured to cross their path again, for next time they
would be ready for him, and would soon teach him that if he thought he
could surprise them twice because he had surprised them once, he would
find himself very seriously mistaken, that's all.
And so, in the end, they all got back their self-respect; yes, and
even added somewhat to it; indeed when the sitting broke up they had
a finer opinion of themselves than they had ever had before.
Chapter 5 Domremy Pillaged and Burned
THEY WERE peaceful and pleasant, those young and smoothly flowing
days of ours; that is, that was the case as a rule, we being remote
from the seat of war; but at intervals roving bands approached near
enough for us to see the flush in the sky at night which marked where
they were burning some farmstead or village, and we all knew, or at
least felt, that some day they would come yet nearer, and we should
have our turn. This dull dread lay upon our spirits like a physical
weight. It was greatly augmented a couple of years after the Treaty of
It was truly a dismal year for France. One day we had been over to
have one of our occasional pitched battles with those hated
Burgundian boys of the village of Maxey, and had been whipped, and
were arriving on our side of the river after dark, bruised and weary,
when we heard the bell ringing the tocsin. We ran all the way, and
when we got to the square we found it crowded with the excited
villagers, and weirdly lighted by smoking and flaring torches.
On the steps of the church stood a stranger, a Burgundian priest,
who was telling the people new which made them weep, and rave, and
rage, and curse, by turns. He said our old mad King was dead, and that
now we and France and the crown were the property of an English baby
lying in his cradle in London. And he urged us to give that child our
allegiance, and be its faithful servants and well-wishers; and said we
should now have a strong and stable government at last, and that in a
little time the English armies would start on their last march, and it
would be a brief one, for all that it would need to do would be to
conquer what odds and ends of our country yet remained under that rare
and almost forgotten rag, the banner of France.
The people stormed and raged at him, and you could see dozens of
them stretch their fists above the sea of torch-lighted faces and
shake them at him; and it was all a wild picture, and stirring to
look at; and the priest was a first-rate part of it, too, for he stood
there in the strong glare and looked down on those angry people in
the blandest and most indifferent way, so that while you wanted to
burn him at the stake, you still admired the aggravating coolness of
him. And his winding-up was the coolest thing of all. For he told
them how, at the funeral of our old King, the French King-at-Arms had
broken his staff of office over the coffin of "Charles VI. and his
dynasty," at the same time saying, in a loud voice, "Good grant long
life to Henry, King of France and England, our sovereign lord!" and
then he asked them to join him in a hearty Amen to that! The people
were white with wrath, and it tied their tongues for the moment, and
they could not speak. But Joan was standing close by, and she looked
up in his face, and said in her sober, earnest way:
"I would I might see thy head struck from thy body!"--then, after a
pause, and crossing herself--"if it were the will of God."
This is worth remembering, and I will tell you why: it is the only
harsh speech Joan ever uttered in her life. When I shall have
revealed to you the storms she went through, and the wrongs and
persecutions, then you will see that it was wonderful that she said
but one bitter thing while she lived.
From the day that that dreary news came we had one scare after
another, the marauders coming almost to our doors every now and then;
so that we lived in ever-increasing apprehension, and yet were somehow
mercifully spared from actual attack. But at last our turn did really
come. This was in the spring of '28. The Burgundians swarmed in with a
great noise, in the middle of a dark night, and we had to jump up and
fly for our lives. We took the road to Neufchƒteau, and rushed along
in the wildest disorder, everybody trying to get ahead, and thus the
movements of all were impeded; but Joan had a cool head--the only cool
head there--and she took command and brought order out of that chaos.
She did her work quickly and with decision and despatch, and soon
turned the panic flight into a quite steady-going march. You will
grant that for so young a person, and a girl at that, this was a good
piece of work.
She was sixteen now, shapely and graceful, and of a beauty so
extraordinary that I might allow myself any extravagance of language
in describing it and yet have no fear of going beyond the truth. There
was in her face a sweetness and serenity and purity that justly
reflected her spiritual nature. She was deeply religious, and this is
a thing which sometimes gives a melancholy cast to a person's
countenance, but it was not so in her case. Her religion made her
inwardly content and joyous; and if she was troubled at times, and
showed the pain of it in her face and bearing, it came of distress for
her country; no part of it was chargeable to her religion.
A considerable part of our village was destroyed, and when it
became safe for us to venture back there we realized what other
people had been suffering in all the various quarters of France for
many years--yes, decades of years. For the first time we saw wrecked
and smoke-blackened homes, and in the lanes and alleys carcasses of
dumb creatures that had been slaughtered in pure wantonness--among
them calves and lambs that had been pets of the children; and it was
pity to see the children lament over them.
And then, the taxes, the taxes! Everybody thought of that. That
burden would fall heavy now in the commune's crippled condition, and
all faces grew long with the thought of it. Joan said:
"Paying taxes with naught to pay them with is what the rest of
France has been doing these many years, but we never knew the
bitterness of that before. We shall know it now."
And so she went on talking about it and growing more and more
troubled about it, until one could see that it was filling all her
At last we came upon a dreadful object. It was the madman--hacked
and stabbed to death in his iron cage in the corner of the square. It
was a bloody and dreadful sight. Hardly any of us young people had
ever seen a man before who had lost his life by violence; so this
cadaver had an awful fascination for us; we could not take our eyes
from it. I mean, it had that sort of fascination for all of us but
one. That one was Joan. She turned away in horror, and could not be
persuaded to go near it again. There--it is a striking reminder that
we are but creatures of use and custom; yes, and it is a reminder,
too, of how harshly and unfairly fate deals with us sometimes. For it
was so ordered that the very ones among us who were most fascinated
with mutilated and bloody death were to live their lives in peace,
while that other, who had a native and deep horror of it, must
presently go forth and have it as a familiar spectacle every day on
the field of battle.
You may well believe that we had plenty of matter for talk now,
since the raiding of our village seemed by long odds the greatest
event that had really ever occurred in the world; for although these
dull peasants may have thought they recognized the bigness of some of
the previous occurrences that had filtered from the world's history
dimly into their minds, the truth is that they hadn't. One biting
little fact, visible to their eyes of flesh and felt in their own
personal vitals, became at once more prodigious to them than the
grandest remote episode in the world's history which they had got at
second hand and by hearsay. It amuses me now when I recall how our
elders talked then. The fumed and fretted in a fine fashion.
"Ah, yes," said old Jacques d'Arc, "things are come to a pretty
pass, indeed! The King must be informed of this. It is time that he
cease from idleness and dreaming, and get at his proper business." He
meant our young disinherited King, the hunted refugee, Charles VII.
"You way well," said the maire. "He should be informed, and that
at once. It is an outrage that such things whould be permitted. Why,
we are not safe in our beds, and he taking his case yonder. It shall
be made known, indeed it shall--all France shall hear of it!"
To hear them talk, one would have imagined that all the previous
ten thousand sackings and burnings in France had been but fables, and
this one the only fact. It is always the way; words will answer as
long as it is only a person's neighbor who is in trouble, but when
that person gets into trouble himself, it is time that the King rise
up and do something.
The big event filled us young people with talk, too. We let it flow
in a steady stream while we tended the flocks. We were beginning to
feel pretty important now, for I was eighteen and the other youths
were from one to four years older--young men, in fact. One day the
Paladin was arrogantly criticizing the patriot generals of France and
"Look at Donois, Bastard of Orleans--call him a eneral! Just put
me in his place once--never mind what I would do, it is not for me to
say, I have no stomach for talk, my way is to act and let others do
the talking--but just put me in his place once, that's all! And look
at Saintrailles--pooh! and that blustering La Hire, now what a general
It shocked everybody to hear these great names so flippantly
handled, for to us these renowned soldiers were almost gods. In their
far-off splendor they rose upon our imaginations dim and huge, shadowy
and awful, and it was a fearful thing to hear them spoken of as if
they were mere men, and their acts open to comment and criticism. The
olor rose in Joan's face, and she said:
"I know not how any can be so hardy as to use such words regarding
these sublime men, who are the very pillars of the French state,
supporting it with their strength and preserving it at daily cost of
their blood. As for me, I could count myself honored past all
deserving if I might be allowed but the privilege of looking upon them
once--at a distance, I mean, for it would not become one of my degree
to approach them too near."
The Paladin was disconcerted for a moment, seeing by the faces
around him that Joan had put into words what the others felt, then he
pulled his complacency together and fell to fault-finding again.
Joan's brother Jean said:
"If you don't like what our generals do, why don't you go to the
great wars yourself and better their work? You are always talking
about going to the wars, but you don't go."
"Look you," said the Paladin, "it is easy to say that. Now I will
tell you why I remain chafing here in a bloodless tranquillity which
my reputation teaches you is repulsive to my nature. I do not go
because I am not a gentleman. That is the whole reason. What can one
private soldier do in a contest like this? Nothing. He is not
permitted to rise from the ranks. If I were a gentleman would I
remain here? Not one moment. I can save France--ah, you may laugh,
but I know what is in me, I know what is hid under this peasant cap. I
can save France, and I stand ready to do it, but not under these
present conditions. If they want me, let them send for me; otherwise,
let them take the consequences; I shall not budge but as an officer."
"Alas, poor France--France is lost!" said Pierre d'Arc.
"Since you sniff so at others, why don't you go to the wars
yourself, Pierre d'Arc?"
"Oh, I haven't been sent for, either. I am no more a gentleman than
you. Yet I will go; I promise to go. I promise to go as a private
under your orders--when you are sent for."
They all laughed, and the Dragon-fly said:
"So soon? Then you need to begin to get ready; you might be called
for in five years--who knows? Yes, in my opinion you'll march for the
wars in five years."
"He will go sooner," said Joan. She said it in a low voice and
musingly, but several heard it.
"How do you know that, Joan?" said the Dragon-fly, with a
surprised look. But Jean d'Arc broke in and said:
"I want to go myself, but as I am rather young yet, I also will
wait, and march when the Paladin is sent for."
"No," said Joan, "he will go with Pierre."
She said it as one who talks to himself aloud without knowing it,
and none heard it but me. I glanced at her and saw that her
knitting-needles were idle in her hands, and that her face had a
dreamy and absent look in it. There were fleeting movements of her
lips as if she might be occasionally saying parts of sentences to
herself. But there was no sound, for I was the nearest person to her
and I heard nothing. But I set my ears open, for those two speeches
had affected me uncannily, I being superstitious and easily troubled
by any little thing of a strange and unusual sort.
Noael Rainguesson said:
"There is one way to let France have a chance for her salvation.
We've got one gentleman in the commune, at any rate. Why can't the
Scholar change name and condition with the Paladin? Then he can be an
officer. France will send for him then, and he will sweep these
English and Burgundian armies into the sea like flies."
I was the Scholar. That was my nickname, because I could read and
write. There was a chorus of approval, and the Sunflower said:
"That is the very thing--it settles every difficulty. The Sieur de
Conte will easily agree to that. Yes, he will march at the back of
Captain Paladin and die early, covered with common-soldier glory."
"He will march with Jean and Pierre, and live till these wars are
forgotten," Joan muttered; "and at the eleventh hour Noael and the
Paladin will join these, but not of their own desire." The voice was
so low that I was not perfectly sure that these were the words, but
they seemed to be. It makes one feel creepy to hear such things.
"Come, now," Noael continued, "it's all arranged; there's nothing to
do but organize under the Paladin's banner and go forth and rescue
France. You'll all join?"
All said yes, except Jacques d'Arc, who said:
"I'll ask you to excuse me. It is pleasant to talk war, and I am
with you there, and I've always thought I should go soldiering about
this time, but the look of our wrecked village and that carved-up and
bloody madman have taught me that I am not made for such work and
such sights. I could never be at home in that trade. Face swords and
the big guns and death? It isn't in me. No, no; count me out. And
besides, I'm the eldest son, and deputy prop and protector of the
family. Since you are going to carry Jean and Pierre to the wars,
somebody must be left behind to take care of our Joan and her sister.
I shall stay at home, and grow old in peace and tranquillity."
"He will stay at home, but not grow old," murmured Joan.
The talk rattled on in the gay and careless fashion privileged to
youth, and we got the Paladin to map out his campaigns and fight his
battles and win his victories and extinguish the English and put our
King upon his throne and set his crown upon his head. Then we asked
him what he was going to answer when the King should require him to
name his reward. The Paladin had it all arranged in his head, and
brought it out promptly:
"He shall give me a dukedom, name me premier peer, and make me
Hereditary Lord High Constable of France."
"And marry you to a princess--you're not going to leave that out,
The Paladin colored a trifle, and said, brusquely:
"He may keep his princesses--I can marry more to my taste."
Meaning Joan, though nobody suspected it at that time. If any had,
the Paladin would have been finely ridiculed for his vanity. There
was no fit mate in that village for Joan of Arc. Every one would have
In turn, each person present was required to say what reward he
would demand of the King if he could change places with the Paladin
and do the wonders the Paladin was going to do. The answers were given
in fun, and each of us tried to outdo his predecessors in the
extravagance of the reward he would claim; but when it came to Joan's
turn, and they rallied her out of her dreams and asked her to testify,
they had to explain to her what the question was, for her thought had
been absent, and she had heard none of this latter part of our talk.
She supposed they wanted a serious answer, and she gave it. She sat
considering some moments, then she said:
"If the Dauphin, out of his grace and nobleness, should say to me,
'Now that I am rich and am come to my own again, choose and have,' I
should kneel and ask him to give command that our village should
nevermore be taxed."
It was so simple and out of her heart that it touched us and we did
not laugh, but fell to thinking. We did not laugh; but there came a
day when we remembered that speech with a mournful pride, and were
glad that we had not laughed, perceiving then how honest her words had
been, and seeing how faithfully she made them good when the time came,
asking just that boon of the King and refusing to take even any least
thing for herself.
Chapter 6 Joan and Archangel Michael
ALL THROUGH her childhood and up to the middle of her fourteenth
year, Joan had been the most light-hearted creature and the merriest
in the village, with a hop-skip-and-jump gait and a happy and catching
laugh; and this disposition, supplemented by her warm and sympathetic
nature and frank and winning ways, had made her everybody's pet. She
had been a hot patriot all this time, and sometimes the war news had
sobered her spirits and wrung her heart and made her acquainted with
tears, but always when these interruptions had run their course her
spirits rose and she was her old self again.
But now for a whole year and a half she had been mainly grave; not
melancholy, but given to thought, abstraction, dreams. She was
carrying France upon her heart, and she found the burden not light. I
knew that this was her trouble, but others attributed her abstraction
to religious ecstasy, for she did not share her thinkings with the
village at large, yet gave me glimpses of them, and so I knew, better
than the rest, what was absorbing her interest. Many a time the idea
crossed my mind that she had a secret--a secret which she was keeping
wholly to herself, as well from me as from the others. This idea had
come to me because several times she had cut a sentence in two and
changed the subject when apparently she was on the verge of a
revelation of some sort. I was to find this secret out, but not just
The day after the conversation which I have been reporting we were
together in the pastures and fell to talking about France, as usual.
For her sake I had always talked hopefully before, but that was mere
lying, for really there was not anything to hang a rag of hope for
France upon. Now it was such a pain to lie to her, and cost me such
shame to offer this treachery to one so snow-pure from lying and
treachery, and even from suspicion of such baseness in others, as she
was, that I was resolved to face about now and begin over again, and
never insult her more with deception. I started on the new policy by
sayingq1qstill opening up with a small lie, of course, for habit is
habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed
downstairs a step at a time:
"Joan, I have been thinking the thing all over last night, and have
concluded that we have been in the wrong all this time; that the case
of France is desperate; that it has been desperate ever since
Agincourt; and that to-day it is more than desperate, it is hopeless."
I did not look her in the face while I was saying it; it could not
be expected of a person. To break her heart, to crush her hope with a
so frankly brutal speech as that, without one charitable soft place
in it--it seemed a shameful thing, and it was. But when it was out,
the weight gone, and my conscience rising to the surface, I glanced
at her face to see the result.
There was none to see. At least none that I was expecting. There
was a barely perceptible suggestion of wonder in her serious eyes,
but that was all; and she said, in her simple and placid way:
"The case of France hopeless? Why should you think that? Tell me."
It is a most pleasant thing to find that what you thought would
inflict a hurt upon one whom you honor, has not done it. I was
relieved now, and could say all my say without any furtivenesses and
without embarrassment. So I began:
"Let us put sentiment and patriotic illusions aside, and look at
the facts in the face. What do they say? They speak as plainly as the
figures in a merchant's account-book. One has only to add the two
columns up to see that the French house is bankrupt, that one-half of
its property is already in the English sheriff's hands and the other
half in nobody's--except those of irresponsible raiders and robbers
confessing allegiance to nobody. Our King is shut up with his
favorites and fools in inglorious idleness and poverty in a narrow
little patch of the kingdom--a sort of back lot, as one may say--and
has no authority there or anywhere else, hasn't a farthing to his
name, nor a regiment of soldiers; he is not fighting, he is not
intending to fight, he means to make no further resistance; in truth,
there is but one thing that he is intending to do--give the whole
thing up, pitch his crown into the sewer, and run away to Scotland.
There are the facts. Are they correct?"
"Yes, they are correct."
"Then it is as I have said: one needs but to add them together in
order to realize what they mean."
She asked, in an ordinary, level tone:
"What--that the case of France is hopeless?"
"Necessarily. In face of these facts, doubt of it is impossible."
"How can you say that? How can you feel like that?"
"How can I? How could I think or feel in any other way, in the
circumstances? Joan, with these fatal figures before, you, have you
really any hope for France--really and actually?"
"Hope--oh, more than that! France will win her freedom and keep
it. Do not doubt it."
It seemed to me that her clear intellect must surely be clouded
to-day. It must be so, or she would see that those figures could mean
only one thing. Perhaps if I marshaled them again she would see. So I
"Joan, your heart, which worships France, is beguiling your head.
You are not perceiving the importance of these figures. Here--I want
to make a picture of them, her eon the ground with a stick. Now, this
rough outline is France. Through its middle, east and west, I draw a
"Yes, the Loire."
"Now, then, this whole northern half of the country is in the tight
grip of the English."
"And this whole southern half is really in nobody's hands at
all--as our King confesses by meditating desertion and flight to a
foreign land. England has armies here; opposition is dead; she can
assume full possession whenever she may choose. In very truth, all
France is gone, France is already lost, France has ceased to exist.
What was France is now but a British province. Is this true?"
Her voice was low, and just touched with emotion, but distinct:
"Yes, it is true."
"Very well. Now add this clinching fact, and surely the sum is
complete: When have French soldiers won a victory? Scotch soldiers,
under the French flag, have won a barren fight or two a few years
back, but I am speaking of French ones. Since eight thousand
Englishmen nearly annihilated sixty thousand Frenchmen a dozen years
ago at Agincourt, French courage has been paralyzed. And so it is a
common saying to-day that if you confront fifty French soldiers with
five English ones, the French will run."
"It is a pity, but even these things are true."
"Then certainly the day for hoping is past."
I believed the case would be clear to her now. I thought it could
not fail to be clear to her, and that she would say, herself, that
there was no longer any ground for hope. But I was mistaken; and
disappointed also. She said, without any doubt in her tone:
"France will rise again. You shall see."
"Rise?--with this burden of English armies on her back!"
"She will cast it off; she will trample it under foot!" This with
"Without soldiers to fight with?"
"The drums will summon them. They will answer, and they will
"March to the rear, as usual?"
"No; to the front--ever to the front--always to the front! You
"And the pauper King?"
"He will mount his throne--he will wear his crown."
"Well, of a truth this makes one's head dizzy. Why, if I could
believe that in thirty years from now the English domination would be
broken and the French monarch's head find itself hooped with a real
crown of sovereignty--"
"Both will have happened before two years are sped."
"Indeed? and who is going to perform all these sublime
It was a reverent low note, but it rang clear.
What could have put those strange ideas in her head? This question
kept running in my mind during two or three days. It was inevitable
that I should think of madness. What other way was there to account
for such things? Grieving and brooding over the woes of France had
weakened that strong mind, and filled it with fantastic phantoms--yes,
that must be it.
But I watched her, and tested her, and it was not so. Her eye was
clear and sane, her ways were natural, her speech direct and to the
point. No, there was nothing the matter with her mind; it was still
the soundest in the village and the best. She went on thinking for
others, planning for others, sacrificing herself for others, just as
always before. She went on ministering to her sick and to her poor,
and still stood ready to give the wayfarer her bed and content
herself with the floor. There was a secret somewhere, but madness was
not the key to it. This was plain.
Now the key did presently come into my hands, and the way that it
happened was this. You have heard all the world talk of this matter
which I am about to speak of, but you have not heard an eyewitness
talk of it before.
I was coming from over the ridge, one day--it was the 15th of May,
'28--and when I got to the edge of the oak forest and was about to
step out of it upon the turfy open space in which the haunted beech
tree stood, I happened to cast a glance from cover, first--then I
took a step backward, and stood in the shelter and concealment of the
foliage. For I had caught sight of Joan, and thought I would devise
some sort of playful surprise for her. Think of it--that trivial
conceit was neighbor, with but a scarcely measurable interval of time
between, to an event destined to endure forever in histories and
The day was overcast, and all that grassy space wherein the Tree
stood lay in a soft rich shadow. Joan sat on a natural seat formed by
gnarled great roots of the Tree. Her hands lay loosely, one reposing
in the other, in her lap. Her head was bent a little toward the
ground, and her air was that of one who is lost to thought, steeped in
dreams, and not conscious of herself or of the world. And now I saw a
most strange thing, for I saw a white shadow come slowly gliding along
the grass toward the Tree. It was of grand proportions--a robed form,
with wings--and the whiteness of this shadow was not like any other
whiteness that we know of, except it be the whiteness of lightnings,
but even the lightnings are not so intense as it was, for one cal look
at them without hurt, whereas this brilliancy was so blinding that in
pained my eyes and brought the water into them. I uncovered my head,
perceiving that I was in the presence of something not of this world.
My breath grew faint and difficult, because of the terror and the awe
that possessed me.
Another strange thing. The wood had been silent--smitten with that
deep stillness which comes when a storm-cloud darkens a forest, and
the wild creatures lose heart and are afraid; but now all the birds
burst forth into song, and the joy, the rapture, the ecstasy of it was
beyond belief; and was so eloquent and so moving, withal, that it was
plain it was an act of worship. With the first note of those birds
Joan cast herself upon her knees, and bent her head low and crossed
her hands upon her breast.
She had not seen the shadow yet. Had the song of the birds told her
it was coming? It had that look to me. Then the like of this must
have happened before. Yes, there might be no doubt of that.
The shadow approached Joan slowly; the extremity of it reached
her, flowed over her, clothed her in its awful splendor. In that
immortal light her face, only humanly beautiful before, became
divine; flooded with that transforming glory her mean peasant habit
was become like to the raiment of the sun-clothed children of God as
we see them thronging the terraces of the Throne in our dreams and
Presently she rose and stood, with her head still bowed a little,
and with her arms down and the ends of her fingers lightly laced
together in front of her; and standing so, all drenched with that
wonderful light, and yet apparently not knowing it, she seemed to
listen--but I heard nothing. After a little she raised her head, and
looked up as one might look up toward the face of a giant, and then
clasped her hands and lifted them high, imploringly, and began to
plead. I heard some of the words. I heard her say:
"But I am so young! oh, so young to leave my mother and my home
and go out into the strange world to undertake a thing so great! Ah,
how can I talke with men, be comrade with men?--soldiers! It would
give me over to insult, and rude usage, and contempt. How can I go to
the great wars, and lead armies?--I a girl, and ignorant of such
things, knowing nothing of arms, nor how to mount a horse, nor ride
it. . . . Yet--if it is commanded--"
Her voice sank a little, and was broken by sobs, and I made out no
more of her words. Then I came to myself. I reflected that I had been
intruding upon a mystery of God--and what might my punishment be? I
was afraid, and went deeper into the wood. Then I carved a mark in the
bark of a tree, saying to myself, it may be that I am dreaming and
have not seen this vision at all. I will come again, when I know that
I am awake and not dreaming, and see if this mark is still here; then
I shall know.
Chapter 7 She Delivers the Divine Command
I HEARD my name called. It was Joan's voice. It startled me, for
how could she know I was there? I said to myself, it is part of the
dream; it is all dream--voice, vision and all; the fairies have done
this. So I crossed myself and pronounced the name of God, to break
the enchantment. I knew I was awake now and free from the spell, for
no spell can withstand this exorcism. Then I heard my name called
again, and I stepped at once from under cover, and there indeed was
Joan, but not looking as she had looked in the dream. For she was not
crying now, but was looking as she had used to look a year and a half
before, when her heart was light and her spirits high. Her old-time
energy and fire were back, and a something like exaltation showed
itself in her face and bearing. It was almost as if she had been in a
trance all that time and had come awake again. Really, it was just as
if she had been away and lost, and was come back to us at last; and I
was so glad that I felt like running to call everybody and have them
flock around her and give her welcome. I ran to her excited and said:
"Ah, Joan, I've got such a wonderful thing to tell you about! You
would never imagine it. I've had a dream, and in the dream I saw you
right here where you are standing now, and--"
But she put up her hand and said:
"It was not a dream."
It gave me a shock, and I began to feel afraid again.
"Not a dream?" I said, "how can you know about it, Joan?"
"Are you dreaming now?"
"I--I suppose not. I think I am not."
"Indeed you are not. I know you are not. And yow were not dreaming
when you cut the mark in the tree."
I felt myself turning cold with fright, for now I knew of a
certainty that I had not been dreaming, but had really been in the
presence of a dread something not of this world. Then I remembered
that my sinful feet were upon holy ground--the ground where that
celestial shadow had rested. I moved quickly away, smitten to the
bones with fear. Joan followed, and said:
"Do not be afraid; indeed there is no need. Come with me. We will
sit by the spring and I will tell you all my secret."
When she was ready to begin, I checked her and said:
"First tell me this. You could not see me in the wood; how did you
know I cut a mark in the tree?"
"Wait a little; I will soon come to that; then you will see."
"But tell me one thing now; what was that awful shadow that I
"I will tell you, but do not be disturbed; you are not in danger.
It was the shadow of an archangel--Michael, the chief and lord of the
armies of heaven."
I could but cross myself and tremble for having polluted that
ground with my feet.
"You were not afraid, Joan? Did you see his face--did you see his
"Yes; I was not afraid, because this was not the first time. I was
afraid the first time."
"When was that, Joan?"
"It is nearly three years ago now."
"So long? Have you seen him many times?"
"Yes, many times."
"It is this, then, that has changed you; it was this that made you
thoughtful and not as you were before. I see it now. Why did you not
tell us about it?"
"It was not permitted. It is permitted now, and soon I shall tell
all. But only you, now. It must remain a secret for a few days still."
"Has none seen that white shadow before but me?"
"No one. It has fallen upon me before when you and others were
present, but none could see it. To-day it has been otherwise, and I
was told why; but it will not be visible again to any."
"It was a sign to me, then--and a sign with a meaning of some
"Yes, but I may not speak of that."
"Strange--that that dazzling light could rest upon an object before
one's eyes and not be visible."
"With it comes speech, also. Several saints come, attended by
myriads of angels, and they speak to me; I hear their voices, but
others do not. They are very dear to me--my Voices; that is what I
call them to myself."
"Joan, what do they tell you?"
"All manner of things--about France, I mean."
"What things have they been used to tell you?"
She sighed, and said:
"Disasters--only disasters, and misfortunes, and humiliation. There
was naught else to foretell."
"They spoke of them to you beforehand? "Yes. So that I knew what
was going to happen before it happened. It made me grave--as you saw.
It could not be otherwise. But always there was a word of hope, too.
More than that: France was to be rescued, and made great and free
again. But how and by whom--that was not told. Not until to-day." As
she said those last words a sudden deep glow shone in her eyes, which
I was to see there many times in after-days when the bugles sounded
the charge and learn to call it the battle-light. Her breast heaved,
and the color rose in her face. "But to-day I know. God has chosen the
meanest of His creatures for this work; and by His command, and in His
protection, and by His strength, not mine, I am to lead His armies,
and win back France, and set the crown upon the head of His servant
that is Dauphin and shall be King."
I was amazed, and said:
"You, Joan? You, a child, lead armies?"
"Yes. For one little moment or two the thought crushed me; for it
is as you say--I am only a child; a child and ignorant--ignorant of
everything that pertains to war, and not fitted for the rough life of
camps and the companionship of soldiers. But those weak moments
passed; they will not come again. I am enlisted, I will not turn back,
God helping me, till the English grip is loosed from the throat of
France. My Voices have never told me lies, they have not lied to-day.
They say I am to go to Robert de Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs,
and he will give me men-at-arms for escort and send me to the King. A
year from now a blow will be struck which will be the beginning of the
end, and the end will follow swiftly."
"Where will it be struck?"
"My Voices have not said; nor what will happen this present year,
before it is struck. It is appointed me to strike it, that is all I
know; and follow it with others, sharp and swift, undoing in ten weeks
England's long years of costly labor, and setting the crown upon the
Dauphin's head--for such is God's will; my Voices have said it, and
shall I doubt it? No; it will be as they have said, for they say only
that which is true."
These were tremendous sayings. They were impossibilities to my
reason, but to my heart they rang true; and so, while my reason
doubted, my heart believed--believed, and held fast to the belief
from that day. Presently I said:
"Joan, I believe the things which you have said, and now I am glad
that I am to march with you to the great wars--that is, if it is with
you I am to march when I go."
She looked surprised, and said:
"It is true that you will be with me when I go to the wars, but how
did you know?"
"I shall march with you, and so also will Jean and Pierre, but not
"All true--it is so ordered, as was revealed to me lately, but I
did not know until to-day that the marching would be with me, or that
I should march at all. How did you know these things?"
I told her when it was that she had said them. But she did not
remember about it. So then I knew that she had been asleep, or in a
trance or an ecstasy of some kind, at that time. She bade me keep
these and the other revelations to myself for the present, and I said
I would, and kept the faith I promised.
None who met Joan that day failed to notice the change that had
come over her. She moved and spoke with energy and decision; there
was a strange new fire in her eye, and also a something wholly new and
remarkable in her carriage and in the set of her head. This new light
in the eye and this new bearing were born of the authority and
leadership which had this day been vested in her by the decree of God,
and they asserted that authority as plainly as speech could have done
it, yet without ostentation or bravado. This calm consciousness of
command, and calm unconscious outward expression of it, remained with
her thenceforth until her mission was accomplished.
Like the other villagers, she had always accorded me the deference
due my rank; but now, without word said on either side, she and I
changed places; she gave orders, not suggestions. I received them
with the deference due a superior, and obeyed them without comment.
In the evening she said to me:
"I leave before dawn. No one will know it but you. I go to speak
with the governor of Vaucouleurs as commanded, who will despise me
and treat me rudely, and perhaps refuse my prayer at this time. I go
first to Burey, to persuade my uncle Laxart to go with me, it not
being meet that I go alone. I may need you in Vaucouleurs; for if the
governor will not receive me I will dictate a letter to him, and so
must have some one by me who knows the art of how to write and spell
the words. You will go from here to-morrow in the afternoon, and
remain in Vaucouleurs until I need you."
I said I would obey, and she went her way. You see how clear a
head she had, and what a just and level judgment. She did not order
me to go with her; no, she would not subject her good name to
gossiping remark. She knew that the governor, being a noble, would
grant me, another noble, audience; but no, you see, she would not have
that, either. A poor peasant-girl presenting a petition through a
young nobleman--how would that look? She always protected her modesty
from hurt; and so, for reward, she carried her good name unsmirched to
the end. I knew what I must do now, if I would have her approval: go
to Vaucouleurs, keep out of her sight, and be ready when wanted.
I went the next afternoon, and took an obscure lodging; the next
day I called at the castle and paid my respects to the governor, who
invited me to dine with him at noon of the following day. He was an
ideal soldier of the time; tall, brawny, gray-headed, rough, full of
strange oaths acquired here and there and yonder in the wars and
treasured as if they were decorations. He had been used to the camp
all his life, and to his notion war was God's best gift to man. He had
his steel cuirass on, and wore boots that came above his knees, and
was equipped with a huge sword; and when I looked at this martial
figure, and heard the marvelous oaths, and guessed how little of
poetry and sentiment might be looked for in this quarter, I hoped the
little peasant-girl would not get the privilege of confronting this
battery, but would have to content herself with the dictated letter.
I came again to the castle the next day at noon, and was conducted
to the great dining-hall and seated by the side of the governor at a
small table which was raised a couple of steps higher than the
general table. At the small table sat several other guests besides
myself, and at the general table sat the chief officers of the
garrison. At the entrance door stood a guard of halberdiers, in
morion and breastplate.
As for talk, there was but one topic, of course--the desperate
situation of France. There was a rumor, some one said, that Salisbury
was making preparations to march against Orleans. It raised a turmoil
of excited conversation, and opinions fell thick and fast. Some
believed he would march at once, others that he could not accomplish
the investment before fall, others that the siege would be long, and
bravely contested; but upon one thing all voices agreed: that Orleans
must eventually fall, and with it France. With that, the prolonged
discussion ended, and there was silence. Every man seemed to sink
himself in his own thoughts, and to forget where he was. This sudden
and profound stillness, where before had been so much animation, was
impressive and solemn. Now came a servant and whispered something to
the governor, who said:
"Would talk with me?"
"Yes, your Excellency."
"H'm! A strange idea, certainly. Bring them in."
It was Joan and her uncle Laxart. At the spectacle of the great
people the courage oozed out of the poor old peasant and he stopped
midway and would come no further, but remained there with his red
nightcap crushed in his hands and bowing humbly here, there, and
everywhere, stupefied with embarrassment and fear. But Joan came
steadily forward, erect and self-possessed, and stood before the
governor. She recognized me, but in no way indicated it. There was a
buzz of admiration, even the governor contributing to it, for I heard
him mutter, "By God's grace, it is a beautiful creature!" He inspected
her critically a moment or two, then said:
"Well, what is your errand, my child?"
"My message is to you, Robert de Baudricourt, governor of
Vaucouleurs, and it is this: that you will send and tell the Dauphin
to wait and not give battle to his enemies, for God will presently
send him help."
This strange speech amazed the company, and many murmured, "The
poor young thing is demented." The governor scowled, and said:
"What nonsense is this? The King--or the Dauphin, as you call
him--needs no message of that sort. He will wait, give yourself no
uneasiness as to that. What further do you desire to say to me?"
"This. To beg that you will give me an escort of men-at-arms and
send me to the Dauphin."
"That he may make me his general, for it is appointed that I shall
drive the English out of France, and set the crown upon his head."
"What--you? Why, you are but a child!"
"Yet am I appointed to do it, nevertheless."
"Indeed! And when will all this happen?"
"Next year he will be crowned, and after that will remain master of
There was a great and general burst of laughter, and when it had
subsided the governor said:
"Who has sent you with these extravagant messages?"
"The King of Heaven."
Many murmured, "Ah, poor thing, poor thing!" and others, "Ah, her
mind is but a wreck!" The governor hailed Laxart, and said:
"Harkye!--take this mad child home and whip her soundly. That is
the best cure for her ailment."
As Joan was moving away she turned and said, with simplicity:
"You refuse me the soldiers, I know not why, for it is my Lord that
has commanded you. Yes, it is He that has made the command; therefore
I must come again, and yet again; then I shall have the men-at-arms."
There was a great deal of wondering talk, after she was gone; and
the guards and servants passed the talk to the town, the town passed
it to the country; Domremy was already buzzing with it when we got
Chapter 8 Why the Scorners Relented
HUMAN NATURE is the same everywhere: it defies success, it has
nothing but scorn for defeat. The village considered that Joan had
disgraced it with her grotesque performance and its ridiculous
failure; so all the tongues were busy with the matter, and as bilious
and bitter as they were busy; insomuch that if the tongues had been
teeth she would not have survived her persecutions. Those persons who
did not scold did what was worse and harder to bear; for they
ridiculed her, and mocked at her, and ceased neither day nor night
from their witticisms and jeerings and laughter. Haumette and Little
Mengette and I stood by her, but the storm was too strong for her
other friends, and they avoided her, being ashamed to be seen with her
because she was so unpopular, and because of the sting of the taunts
that assailed them on her account. She shed tears in secret, but none
in public. In public she carried herself with serenity, and showed no
distress, nor any resentment--conduct which should have softened the
feeling against her, but it did not. Her father was so incensed that
he could not talk in measured terms about her wild project of going to
the wars like a man. He had dreamed of her doing such a thing, some
time before, and now he remembered that dream with apprehension and
anger, and said that rather than see her unsex herself and go away
with the armies, he would require her brothers to drown her; and that
if they should refuse, he would do it with his own hands.
But none of these things shook her purpose in the least. Her
parents kept a strict watch upon her to keep her from leaving the
village, but she said her time was not yet; that when the time to go
was come she should know it, and then the keepers would watch in
The summer wasted along; and when it was seen that her purpose
continued steadfast, the parents were glad of a chance which finally
offered itself for bringing her projects to an end through marriage.
The Paladin had the effrontery to pretend that she had engaged herself
to him several years before, and now he claimed a ratification of the
She said his statement was not true, and refused to marry him. She
was cited to appear before the ecclesiastical court at Toul to answer
for her perversity; when she declined to have counsel, and elected to
conduct her case herself, her parents and all her ill-wishers
rejoiced, and looked upon her as already defeated. And that was
natural enough; for who would expect that an ignorant peasant-girl of
sixteen would be otherwise than frightened and tongue-tied when
standing for the first time in presence of the practised doctors of
the law, and surrounded by the cold solemnities of a court? Yet all
these people were mistaken. They flocked to Toul to see and enjoy this
fright and embarrassment and defeat, and they had their trouble for
their pains. She was modest, tranquil, and quite at her ease. She
called no witnesses, saying she would content herself with examining
the witnesses for the prosecution. When they had testified, she rose
and reviewed their testimony in a few words, pronounced it vague,
confused, and of no force, then she placed the Paladin again on the
stand and began to search him. His previous testimony went rag by rag
to ruin under her ingenious hands, until at last he stood bare, so to
speak, he that had come so richly clothed in fraud and falsehood. His
counsel began an argument, but the court declined to hear it, and
threw out the case, adding a few words of grave compliment for Joan,
and referring to her as "this marvelous child."
After this victory, with this high praise from so imposing a source
added, the fickle village turned again, and gave Joan countenance,
compliment, and peace. Her mother took her back to her heart, and
even her father relented and said he was proud of her. But the time
hung heavy on her hands, nevertheless, for the siege of Orleans was
begun, the clouds lowered darker and darker over France, and still her
Voices said wait, and gave her no direct commands. The winter set in,
and wore tgediously along; but at last there was a change.
BOOK II IN COURT AND CAMP
Chapter 1 Joan Says Good-By
THE 5th of January, 1429, Joan came to me with her uncle Laxart,
"The time is come. My Voices are not vague now, but clear, and
they have told me what to do. In two months I shall be with the
Her spirits were high, and her bearing martial. I caught the
infection and felt a great impulse stirring in me that was like what
one feels when he hears the roll of the drums and the tramp of
"I believe it," I said.
"I also believe it," said Laxart. "If she had told me before, that
she was commanded of God to rescue France, I should not have
believed; I should have let her seek the governor by her own ways and
held myself clear of meddling in the matter, not doubting she was mad.
But I have seen her stand before those nobles and might men unafraid,
and say her say; and she had not been able to do that but by the help
of God. That I know. Therefore with all humbleness I am at her
command, to do with me as she will."
"My uncle is very good to me," Joan said. "I sent and asked him to
come and persuade my mother to let him take me home with him to tend
his wife, who is not well. It is arranged, and we go at dawn
to-morrow. From his house I shall go soon to Vaucouleurs, and wait
and strive until my prayer is granted. Who were the two cavaliers who
sat to your left at the governor's table that day?"
"One was the Sieur Jean de Novelonpont de Metz, the other the
Sieur Bertrand de Poulengy."
"Good metal--good metal, both. I marked them for men of mine. . .
. What is it I see in your face? Doubt?"
I was teaching myself to speak the truth to her, not trimming it or
polishing it; so I said:
"They considered you out of your head, and said so. It is true they
pitied you for being in such misfortune, but still they held you to
This did not seem to trouble her in any way or wound her. She only
"The wise change their minds when they perceive that they have
been in error. These will. They will march with me. I shall see them
presently. . . . You seem to doubt again? Do you doubt?"
"N-no. Not now. I was remembering that it was a year ago, and that
they did not belong here, but only chanced to stop a day on their
"They will come again. But as to matters now in hand; I came to
leave with you some instructions. You will follow me in a few days.
Order your affairs, for you will be absent long."
"Will Jean and Pierre go with me?"
"No; they would refuse now, but presently they will come, and with
them they will bring my parents' blessing, and likewise their consent
that I take up my mission. I shall be stronger, then--stronger for
that; for lack of it I am weak now." She paused a little while, and
the tears gathered in her eyes; then she went on: "I would say good-by
to Little Mengette. Bring her outside the village at dawn; she must go
with me a little of the way--"
She broke down and began to cry, saying:
"No, oh, no--she is too dear to me, I could not bear it, knowing I
should never look upon her face again."
Next morning I brought Mengette, and we four walked along the road
in the cold dawn till the village was far behind; then the two girls
said their good-bys, clinging about each other's neck, and pouring out
their grief in loving words and tears, a pitiful sight to see. And
Joan took one long look back upon the distant village, and the Fairy
Tree, and the oak forest, and the flowery plain, and the river, as if
she was trying to print these scenes on her memory so that they would
abide there always and not fade, for she knew she would not see them
any more in this life; then she turned, and went from us, sobbing
bitterly. It was her birthday and mine. She was seventeen years old.
Chapter 2 The Governor Speeds Joan
After a few days, Laxart took Joan to Vaucouleurs, and found
lodging and guardianship for her with Catherine Royer, a
wheelwright's wife, an honest and good woman. Joan went to mass
regularly, she helped do the housework, earning her keep in that way,
and if any wished to talke with her about her mission--and many
did--she talked freely, making no concealments regarding the matter
now. I was soon housed near by, and witnessed the effects which
followed. At once the tidings spread that a young girl was come who
was appointed of God to save France. The common people flocked in
crowds to look at her and speak with her, and her fair young
loveliness won the half of their belief, and her deep earnestness and
transparent sincerity won the other half. The well-to-do remained away
and scoffed, but that is their way.
Next, a prophecy of Merlin's, more than eight hundred years old,
was called to mind, which said that in a far future time France would
be lost by a woman and restored by a woman. France was now, for the
first time, lost--and by a woman, Isabel of Bavaria, her base Queen;
doubtless this fair and pure young girl was commissioned of Heaven to
complete the prophecy.
This gave the growing interest a new and powerful impulse; the
excitement rose higher and higher, and hope and faith along with it;
and so from Vaucouleurs wave after wave of this inspiring enthusiasm
flowed out over the land, far and wide, invading all the villages and
refreshing and revivifying the perishing children of France; and from
these villages came people who wanted to see for themselves, hear for
themselves; and they did see and hear, and believe. They filled the
town; they more than filled it; inns and lodgings were packed, and yet
half of the inflow had to go without shelter. And still they came,
winter as it was, for when a man's soul is starving, what does he care
for meat and roof so he can but get that nobler hunger fed? Day after
day, and still day after day the great tide rose. Domremy was dazed,
amazed, stupefied, and said to itself, "Was this world-wonder in our
familiar midst all these years and we too dull to see it?" Jean and
Pierre went out from the village, stared at and envied like the great
and fortunate of the earth, and their progress to Vaucouleurs was like
a triumph, all the country-side flocking to see and salute the
brothers of one with whom angels had spoken face to face, and into
whose hands by command of God they had delivered the destinies of
The brothers brought the parents' blessing and godspeed to Joan,
and their promise to bring it to her in person later; and so, with
this culminating happiness in her heart and the high hope it inspired,
she went and confronted the governor again. But he was no more
tractable than he had been before. He refused to send her to the
King. She was disappointed, but in no degree discouraged. She said:
"I must still come to you until I get the men-at-arms; for so it is
commanded, and I may not disobey. I must go to the Dauphin, though I
go on my knees."
I and the two brothers were with Joan daily, to see the people that
came and hear what they said; and one day, sure enough, the Sieur
Jean de Metz came. He talked with her in a petting and playful way,
as one talks with children, and said:
"What are you doing here, my little maid? Will they drive the King
out of France, and shall we all turn English?"
She answered him in her tranquil, serious way:
"I am come to bid Robert de Baudricourt take or send me to the
King, but he does not heed my words."
"Ah, you have an admirable persistence, truly; a whole year has
not turned you from your wish. I saw you when you came before."
Joan said, as tranquilly as before:
"It is not a wish, it is a purpose. He will grant it. I can wait."
"Ah, perhaps it will not be wise to make too sure of that, my
child. These governors are stubborn people to deal with. In case he
shall not grant your prayer--"
"He will grant it. He must. It is not a matter of choice."
The gentleman's playful mood began to disappear--one could see
that, by his face. Joan's earnestness was affecting him. It always
happened that people who began in jest with her ended by being in
earnest. They soon began to perceive depths in her that they had not
suspected; and then her manifest sincerity and the rocklike
steadfastness of her convictions were forces which cowed levity, and
it could not maintain its self-respect in their presence. The Sieur de
Metz was thoughtful for a moment or two, then he began, quite soberly:
"Is it necessary that you go to the King soon?--that is, I mean--"
"Before Mid-Lent, even though I wear away my legs to the knees!"
She said it with that sort of repressed fieriness that means so
much when a person's heart is in a thing. You could see the response
in that nobleman's face; you could see his eye light up; there was
sympathy there. He said, most earnestly:
"God knows I think you should have the men-at-arms, and that
somewhat would come of it. What is it that you would do? What is your
hope and purpose?"
"To rescue France. And it is appointed that I shall do it. For no
one else in the world, neither kings, nor dukes, no any other, can
recover the kingdom of France, and there is no help but in me."
The words had a pleading and pathetic sound, and they touched that
good nobleman. I saw it plainly. Joan dropped her voice a little, and
said: "But indeed I would rather spin with my poor mother, for this is
not my calling; but I must go and do it, for it is my Lord's will."
"Who is your Lord?"
"He is God."
Then the Sieur de Metz, following the impressive old feudal
fashion, knelt and laid his hands within Joan's in sign of fealty, and
made oath that by God's help he himself would take her to the king.
The next day came the Sieur Bertrand de Poulengy, and he also
pledged his oath and knightly honor to abide with her and follower
witherosever she might lead.
This day, too, toward evening, a great rumor went flying abroad
through the town--namely, that the very governor himself was going to
visit the young girl in her humble lodgings. So in the morning the
streets and lanes were packed with people waiting to see if this
strange thing would indeed happen. And happen it did. The governor
rode in state, attended by his guards, and the news of it went
everywhere, and made a great sensation, and modified the scoffings of
the people of quality and raised Joan's credit higher than ever.
The governor had made up his mind to one thing: Joan was either a
witch or a saint, and he meant to find out which it was. So he
brought a priest with him to exorcise the devil that was in her in
case there was one there. The priest performed his office, but found
no devil. He merely hurt Joan's feelings and offended her piety
without need, for he had already confessed her before this, and should
have known, if he knew anything, that devils cannot abide the
confessional, but utter cries of anguish and the most profane and
furious cursings whenever they are confronted with that holy office.
The governor went away troubled and full of thought, and not
knowing what to do. And while he pondered and studied, several days
went by and the 14th of February was come. Then Joan went to the
castle and said:
"In God's name, Robert de Baudricourt, you are too slow about
sending me, and have caused damage thereby, for this day the
Dauphin's cause has lost a battle near Orleans, and will suffer yet
greater injury if you do not send me to him soon."
The governor was perplexed by this speech, and said:
"To-day, child, to-day? How can you know what has happened in that
region to-day? It would take eight or ten days for the word to come."
"My Voices have brought the word to me, and it is true. A battle
was lost to-day, and you are in fault to delay me so."
The governor walked the floor awhile, talking within himself, but
letting a great oath fall outside now and then; and finally he said:
"Harkye! go in peace, and wait. If it shall turn out as you say, I
will give you the letter and send you to the King, and not otherwise."
Joan said with fervor:
"Now God be thanked, these waiting days are almost done. In nine
days you will fetch me the letter."
Already the people of Vaucouleurs had given her a horse and had
armed and equipped her as a soldier. She got no chance to try the
horse and see if she could ride it, for her great first duty was to
abide at her post and lift up the hopes and spirits of all who would
come to talk with her, and prepare them to help in the rescue and
regeneration of the kingdom. This occupied every waking moment she
had. But it was no matter. There was nothing she could not learn--and
in the briefest time, too. Her horse would find this out in the first
hour. Meantime the brothers and I took the horse in turn and began to
learn to ride. And we had teaching in the use of the sword and other
On the 20th Joan called her small army together--the two knights
and her two brothers and me--for a private council of war. No, it was
not a council, that is not the right name, for she did not consult
with us, she merely gave us orders. She mapped out the course she
would travel toward the King, and did it like a person perfectly
versed in geography; and this itinerary of daily marches was so
arranged as to avoid here and there peculiarly dangerous regions by
flank movements--which showed that she knew her political geography as
intimately as she knew her physical geography; yet she had never had a
day's schooling, of course, and was without education. I was
astonished, butg thought her Voices must have taught her. But upon
reflection I saw that this was not so. By her references to what this
and that and the other per4son had told her, I perceived that she had
been diligently questioning those crowds of visiting strangers, and
that out of them she had patiently dug all this mass of invaluable
knowledge. The two knights were filled with wonder at her good sense
She commanded us to make preparations to travel by night and sleep
by day in concealment, as almost the whole of our long journey would
be through the enemy's country.
Also, she commanded that we should keep the date of our departure
a secret, since she meant to get away unobserved. Otherwise we should
be sent off with a grand demonstration which would advertise us to the
enemy, and we should be ambushed and captured somewhere. Finally she
"Nothing remains, now, but that I confide to you the date of our
departure, so that you may make all needful preparation in time,
leaving nothing to be done in haste and badly at the last moment. We
march the 23d, at eleven of the clock at night."
Then we were dismissed. The two knights were startled--yes, and
troubled; and the Sieur Bertrand said:
"Even if the governor shall really furnish the letter and the
escort, he still may not do it in time to meet the date she has
chosen. Then how can she venture to name that date? It is a great
risk--a great risk to select and decide upon the date, in this state
"Since she has named the 23d, we may trust her. The Voices have
told her, I think. We shall do best to obey."
We did obey. Joan's parents were notified to come before the 23d,
but prudence forbade that they be told why this limit was named.
All day, the 23d, she glanced up wistfully whenever new bodies of
strangers entered the house, but her parents did not appear. Still
she was not discouraged, but hoped on. But when night fell at last,
her hopes perished, and the tears came; however, she dashed them
away, and said:
"It was to be so, no doubt; no doubt it was so ordered; I must bear
it, and will."
De Metz tried to comfort her by saying:
"The governor sends no word; it may be that they will come
He got no further, for she interrupted him, saying:
"To what good end? We start at eleven to-night."
And it was so. At ten the governor came, with his guard and arms,
with horses and equipment for me and for the brothers, and gave Joan
a letter to the King. Then he took off his sword, and belted it about
her waist with his own hands, and said:
"You said true, child. The battle was lost, on the day you said. So
I have kept my word. Now go--come of it what may."
Joan gave him thanks, and he went his way.
The lost battle was the famous disaster that is called in history
the Battle of the Herrings.
All the lights in the house were at once put out, and a little
while after, when the streets had become dark and still, we crept
stealthily through them and out at the western gate and rode away
under whip and spur.
Chapter 3 The Paladin Groans and Boasts
WE WERE twenty-five strong, and well equipped. We rode in double
file, Joan and her brothers in the center of the column, with Jean de
Metz at the head of it and the Sieur Bertrand at its extreme rear. In
two or three hours we should be in the enemy's country, and then none
would venture to desert. By and by we began to hear groans and sobs
and execrations from different points along the line, and upon inquiry
found that six of our men were peasants who had never ridden a horse
before, and were finding it very difficult to stay in their saddles,
and moreover were now beginning to suffer considerable bodily torture.
They had been seized by the governor at the last moment and pressed
into the service to make up the tale, and he had placed a veteran
alongside of each with orders to help him stick to the saddle, and
kill him if he tried to desert.
These poor devils had kept quiet as long as they could, but their
physical miseries were become so sharp by this time that they were
obliged to give them vent. But we were within the enemy's country
now, so there was no help for them, they must continue the march,
though Joan said that if they chose to take the risk they might
depart. They preferred to stay with us. We modified our pace now, and
moved cautiously, and the new men were warned to keep their sorrows to
themselves and not get the command into danger with their curses and
Toward dawn we rode deep into a forest, and soon all but the
sentries were sound asleep in spite of the cold ground and the frosty
I woke at noon out of such a solid and stupefying sleep that at
first my wits were all astray, and I did not know where I was nor what
had been happening. Then my senses cleared, and I remembered. As I
lay there thinking over the strange events of the past month or two
the thought came into my mind, greatly surprising me, that one of
Joan's prophecies had failed; for where were Noael and the Paladin, who
were to join us at the eleventh hour? By this time, you see, I had
gotten used to expecting everything Joan said to come true. So, being
disturbed and troubled by these thoughts, I opened my eyes. Well,
there stood the Paladin leaning against a tree and looking down on me!
How often that happens; you think of a person, or speak of a person,
and there he stands before you, and you not dreaming he is near. It
looks as if his being near is really the thing that makes you think of
him, and not just an accident, as people imagine. Well, be that as it
may, there was the Paladin, anyway, looking down in my face and
waiting for me to wake. I was ever so glad to see him, and jumped up
and shook him by the hand, and led him a little way from the camp--he
limping like a cripple--and told him to sit down, and said:
"Now, where have you dropped down from? And how did you happen to
light in this place? And what do the soldier-clothes mean? Tell me all
"I marched with you last night."
"No!" (To myself I said, "The prophecy has not all failed--half of
it has come true.") "Yes, I did. I hurried up from Domremy to join,
and was within a half a minute of being too late. In fact, I was too
late, but I begged so hard that the governor was touched by my brave
devotion to my country's cause--those are the words he used--and so he
yielded, and allowed me to come."
I thought to myself, this is a lie, he is one of those six the
governor recruited by force at the last moment; I know it, for Joan's
prophecy said he would join at the eleventh hour, but not by his own
desire. Then I said aloud:
"I am glad you came; it is a noble cause, and one should not sit at
home in times like these."
"Sit at home! I could no more do it than the thunderstone could
stay hid in the clouds when the storm calls it."
"That is the right talk. It sounds like you."
That pleased him.
"I'm glad you know me. Some don't. But they will, presently. They
will know me well enough before I get done with this war."
"That is what I think. I believe that wherever danger confronts you
you will make yourself conspicuous."
He was charmed with this speech, and it swelled him up like a
bladder. He said:
"If I know myself--and I think I do--my performances in this
campaign will give you occasion more than once to remember those
"I were a fool to doubt it. That I know."
"I shall not be at my best, being but a common soldier; still, the
country will hear of me. If I were where I belong; if I were in the
place of La Hire, or Saintrailles, or the Bastard of Orleans--well, I
say nothing. I am not of the talking kind, like Noael Rainguesson and
his sort, I thank God. But it will be something, I take it--a novelty
in this world, I should say--to raise the fame of a private soldier
above theirs, and extinguish the glory of their names with its
"Why, look here, my friend," I said, "do you know that you have
hit out a most remarkable idea there? Do you realize the gigantic
proportions of it? For look you; to be a general of vast renown, what
is that? Nothing--history is clogged and confused with them; one
cannot keep their names in his memory, there are so many. But a common
soldier of supreme renown--why, he would stand alone! He would the be
one moon in a firmament of mustard-seed stars; his name would outlast
the human race! My friend, who gave you that idea?"
He was ready to burst with happiness, but he suppressed betrayal
of it as well as he could. He simply waved the compliment aside with
his hand and said, with complacency:
"It is nothing. I have them often--ideas like that--and even
greater ones. I do not consider this one much."
"You astonish me; you do, indeed. So it is really your own?"
"Quite. And there is plenty more where it came from"--tapping his
head with his finger, and taking occasion at the same time to cant
his morion over his right ear, which gave him a very self-satisfied
air--"I do not need to borrow my ideas, like Noael Rainguesson."
"Speaking of Noael, when did you see him last?"
"Half an hour ago. He is sleeping yonder like a corpse. Rode with
us last night."
I felt a great upleap in my heart, and said to myself, now I am at
rest and glad; I will never doubt her prophecies again. Then I said
"It gives me joy. It makes me proud of our village. There is not
keeping our lion-hearts at home in these great times, I see that."
"Lion-heart! Who--that baby? Why, he begged like a dog to be let
off. Cried, and said he wanted to go to his mother. Him a
"Dear me, why I supposed he volunteered, of course. Didn't he?"
"Oh, yes, he volunteered the way people do to the headsman. Why,
when he found I was coming up from Domremy to volunteer, he asked me
to let him come along in my protection, and see the crowds and the
excitement. Well, we arrived and saw the torches filing out at the
Castle, and ran there, and the governor had him seized, along with
four more, and he begged to be let off, and I begged for his place,
and atg last the governor allowed me to join, but wouldn't let Noael
off, because he was disgusted with him, he was such a cry-baby. Yes,
and much good he'll do the King's service; he'll eat for six and run
for sixteen. I hate a pygmy with half a heart and nine stomachs!"
"Why, this is very surprising news to me, and I am sorry and
disappointed to hear it. I thought he was a very manly fellow."
The Paladin gave me an outraged look, and said:
"I don't see how you can talk like that, I'm sure I don't. I don't
see how you could have got such a notion. I don't dislike him, and I'm
not saying these things out of prejudice, for I don't allow myself to
have prejudices against people. I like him, and have always comraded
with him from the cradle, but he must allow me to speak my mind about
his faults, and I am willing he shall speak his about mine, if I have
any. And, true enough, maybe I have; but I reckon they'll bear
inspection--I have that idea, anyway. A manly fellow! You should have
heard him whine and wail and swear, last night, because the saddle
hurt him. Why didn't the saddle hurt me? Pooh--I was as much at home
in it as if I had been born there. And yet it was the first time I was
ever on a horse. All those old soldiers admired my riding; they said
they had never seen anything like it. But him--why, they had to hold
him on, all the time."
An odor as of breakfast came stealing through the wood; the
Paladin unconsciously inflated his nostrils in lustful response, and
got up and limped painfully away, saying he must go and look to his
At bottom he was all right and a good-hearted giant, without any
harm in him, for it is no harm to bark, if one stops there and does
not bite, and it is no harm to be an ass, if one is content to bray
and not kick. If this vast structure of brawn and muscle and vanity
and foolishness seemed to have a libelous tongue, what of it? There
was no malice behind it; and besides, the defect was not of his own
creation; it was the work of Noael Rainguesson, who had nurtured it,
fostered it, built it up and perfected it, for the entertainment he
got out of it. His careless light heart had to have somebody to nag
and chaff and make fun of, the Paladin had only needed development in
order to meet its requirements, consequently the development was taken
in hand and diligently attended to and looked after, gnat-and-bull
fashion, for years, to the neglect and damage of far more important
concerns. The result was an unqualified success. Noael prized the
society of the Paladin above everybody else's; the Paladin preferred
anybody's to Noael's. The big fellow was often seen with the little
fellow, but it was for the same reason that the bull is often seen
with the gnat.
With the first opportunity, I had a talk with Noael. I welcomed him
to our expedition, and said:
"It was fine and brave of you to volunteer, Noael."
His eye twinkled, and he answered:
"Yes, it was rather fine, I think. Still, the credit doesn't all
belong to me; I had help."
"Who helped you?"
"Well, I'll tell you the whole thing. I came up from Domremy to
see the crowds and the general show, for I hadn't ever had any
experience of such things, of course, and this was a great
opportunity; but I hadn't any mind to volunteer. I overtook the
Paladin on the road and let him have my company the rest of the way,
although he did not want it and said so; and while we were gawking and
blinking in the glare of the governor's torches they seized us and
four more and added us to the escort, and that is really how I came to
volunteer. But, after all, I wasn't sorry, remembering how dull life
would have been in the village without the Paladin."
"How did he feel about it? Was he satisfied?"
"I think he was glad."
"Because he said he wasn't. He was taken by surprise, you see, and
it is not likely that he could tell the truth without preparation. Not
that he would have prepared, if he had had the chance, for I do not
think he would. I am not charging him with that. In the same space of
time that he could prepare to speak the truth, he could also prepare
to lie; besides, his judgment would be cool then, and would warn him
against fooling with new methods in an emergency. No, I am sure he was
glad, because he said he wasn't."
"Do you think he was very glad?"
"Yes, I know he was. He begged like a slave, and bawled for his
mother. He said his health was delicate, and he didn't know how to
ride a horse, and he knew he couldn't outlive the first march. But
really he wasn't looking as delicate as he was feeling. There was a
cask of wine there, a proper lift for four men. The governor's temper
got afire, and he delivered an oath at him that knocked up the dust
where it struck the ground, and told him to shoulder that cask or he
would carve him to cutlets and send him home in a basket. The Paladin
did it, and that secured his promotion to a privacy in the escort
without any further debate."
"Yes, you seem to make it quite plain that he was glad to
join--that is, if your premises are right that you start from. How did
he stand the march last night?"
"About as I did. If he made the more noise, it was the privilege of
his bulk. We stayed in our saddles because we had help. We are
equally lame to-day, and if he likes to sit down, let him; I prefer to
Chapter 4 Joan Leads Us Through the Enemy
WE WERE called to quarters and subjected to a searching inspection
by Joan. Then she made a short little talk in which she said that even
the rude business of war could be conducted better without profanity
and other brutalities of speech than with them, and that she should
strictly require us to remember and apply this admonition. She ordered
half an hour's horsemanship drill for the novices then, and appointed
one of the veterans to conduct it. It was a ridiculous exhibition, but
we learned something, and Joan was satisfied and complimented us. She
did not take any instruction herself or go through the evolutions and
manuvers, but merely sat her horse like a martial little statue and
looked on. That was sufficient for her, you see. She would not miss or
forget a detail of the lesson, she would take it all in with her eye
and her mind, and apply it afterward with as much certainty and
confidence as if she had already practised it.
We now made three night marches of twelve or thirteen leagues
each, riding in peace and undisturbed, being taken for a roving band
of Free Companions. Country-folk were glad to have that sort of people
go by without stopping. Still, they were very wearying marches, and
not comfortable, for the bridges were few and the streams many, and as
we had to ford them we found the water dismally cold, and afterward
had to bed ourselves, still wet, on the frosty or snowy ground, and
get warm as we might and sleep if we could, for it would not have been
prudent to build fires. Our energies languished under these hardships
and deadly fatigues, but Joan's did not. Her step kept its srping and
firmness and her eye its fire. We could only wonder at this, we could
not explain it.
But if we had had hard times before, I know not what to call the
five nights that now followed, for the marches were as fatiguing, the
baths as cold, and we were ambuscaded seven times in addition, and
lost two novices and three veterans in the resulting fights. The news
had leaked out and gone abroad that the inspired Virgin of Vaucouleurs
was making for the King with an escort, and all the roads were being
These five nights disheartened the command a good deal. This was
aggravated by a discovery which Noael made, and which he promptly made
known at headquarters. Some of the men had been trying to understand
why Joan continued to be alert, vigorous, and confident while the
strongest men in the company were fagged with the heavy marches and
exposure and were become morose and irritable. There, it shows you how
men can have eyes and yet not see. All their lives those men had seen
their own women-folks hitched up with a cow and dragging the plow in
the fields while the men did the driving. They had also seen other
evidences that women have far more endurance and patience and
fortitude than men--but what good had their seeing these things been
to them? None. It had taught them nothing. They were still surprised
to see a girl of seventeen bear the fatigues of war better than
trained veterans of the army. Moreover, they did not reflect that a
great soul, with a great purpose, can make a weak body strong and keep
it so; and here was the greatest soul in the universe; but how could
they know that, those dumb creatures? No, they knew nothing, and
their reasonings were of a piece with their ignorance. They argued
and discussed among themselves, with Noael listening, and arrived at
the decision that Joan was a witch, and had her strange pluck and
strength from Satan; so they made a plan to watch for a safe
opportunity to take her life.
To have secret plottings of this sort going on in our midst was a
very serious business, of course, and the knights asked Joan's
permission to hang the plotters, but she refused without hesitancy.
"Neither these men nor any others can take my life before my
mission is accomplished, therefore why should I have their blood upon
my hands? I will inform them of this, and also admonish them. Call
them before me."
When the came she made that statement to them in a plain
matter-of-fact way, and just as if the thought never entered her mind
that any one could doubt it after she had given her word that it was
true. The men were evidently amazed and impressed to hear her say such
a thing in such a sure and confident way, for prophecies boldly
uttered never fall barren on superstitious ears. Yes, this speech
certainly impressed them, but her closing remark impressed them still
more. It was for the ringleader, and Joan said it sorrowfully:
"It is a pity that you should plot another's death when you own is
so close at hand."
That man's horse stumbled and fell on him in the first ford which
we crossed that night, and he was drowned before we could help him.
We had no more conspiracies.
This night was harassed with ambuscades, but we got through
without having any men killed. One more night would carry us over the
hostile frontier if we had good luck, and we saw the night close down
with a good deal of solicitude. Always before, we had been more or
less reluctant to start out into the gloom and the silence to be
frozen in the fords and persecuted by the enemy, but this time we were
impatient to get under way and have it over, although there was
promise of more and harder fighting than any of the previous nights
had furnished. Moreover, in front of us about three leagues there was
a deep stream with a frail wooden bridge over it, and as a cold rain
mixed with snow had been falling steadily all day we were anxious to
find out whether we were in a trap or not. If the swollen stream had
washed away the bridge, we might properly consider ourselves trapped
and cut off from escape.
As soon as it was dark we filed out from the depth of the forest
where we had been hidden and began the march. From the time that we
had begun to encounter ambushes Joan had ridden at the head of the
column, and she took this post now. By the time we had gone a league
the rain and snow had turned to sleet, and under the impulse of the
storm-wind it lashed my face like whips, and I envied Joan and the
knights, who could close their visors and shut up their heads in their
helmets as in a box. Now, out of the pitchy darkness and close at
hand, came the sharp command:
We obeyed. I made out a dim mass in front of us which might be a
body of horsemen, but one could not be sure. A man rode up and said
to Joan in a tone of reproof:
"Well, you have taken your time, truly. And what have you found
out? Is she still behind us, or in front?"
Joan answered in a level voice:
"She is still behind."
This news softened the stranger's tone. He said:
"If you know that to be true, you have not lost your time, Captain.
But are you sure? How do you know?"
"Because I have seen her."
"Seen her! Seen the Virgin herself?"
"Yes, I have been in her camp."
"Is it possible! Captain Raymond, I ask you to pardon me for
speaking in that tone just now. You have performed a daring and
admirable service. Where was she camped?"
"In the forest, not more than a league from here."
"Good! I was afraid we might be still behind her, but now that we
know she is behind us, everything is safe. She is our game. We will
hang her. You shall hang her yourself. No one has so well earned the
privilege of abolishing this pestilent limb of Satan."
"I do not know how to thank you sufficiently. If we catch her, I--"
"If! I will take care of that; give yourself no uneasiness. All I
want is just a look at her, to see what the imp is like that has been
able to make all this noise, then you and the halter may have her. How
many men has she?"
"I counted but eighteen, but she may have had two or three pickets
"Is that all? It won't be a mouthful for my force. Is it true that
she is only a girl?"
"Yes; she is not more than seventeen."
"It passes belief! Is she robust, or slender?"
The officer pondered a moment or two, then he said:
"Was she preparing to break camp?"
"Not when I had my last glimpse of her."
"What was she doing?"
"She was talking quietly with an officer."
"Quietly? Not giving orders?"
"No, talking as quietly as we are now."
"That is good. She is feeling a false security. She would have been
restless and fussy else--it is the way of her sex when danger is
about. As she was making no preparation to break camp--"
"She certainly was not when I saw her last."
"--and was chatting quietly and at her ease, it means that this
weather is not to her taste. Night-marching in sleet and wind is not
for chits of seventeen. No; she will stay where she is. She has my
thanks. We will camp, ourselves; here is as good a place as any. Let
us get about it."
"If you command it--certainly. But she has two knights with her.
They might force her to march, particularly if the weather should
I was scared, and impatient to be getting out of this peril, and it
distressed and worried me to have Joan apparently set herself to work
to make delay and increase the danger--still, I thought she probably
knew better than I what to do. The officer said:
"Well, in that case we are here to block the way."
"Yes, if they come this way. But if they should send out spies, and
find out enough to make them want to try for the bridge through the
woods? Is it best to allow the bridge to stand?"
It made me shiver to hear her.
The officer considered awhile, then said:
"It might be well enough to send a force to destroy the bridge. I
was intending to occupy it with the whole command, but that is not
Joan said, tranquilly:
"With your permission, I will go and destroy it myself."
Ah, now I saw her idea, and was glad she had had the cleverness to
invent it and the ability to keep her head cool and think of it in
that tight place. The officer replied:
"You have it, Captain, and my thanks. With you to do it, it will be
well done; I could send another in your place, but not a better."
They saluted, and we moved forward. I breathed freer. A dozen
times I had imagined I heard the hoofbeats of the real Captain
Raymond's troop arriving behind us, and had been sitting on pins and
needles all the while that that conversation was dragging along. I
breathed freer, but was still not comfortable, for Joan had given only
the simple command, "Forward!" Consequently we moved in a walk. Moved
in a dead walk past a dim and lengthening column of enemies at our
side. The suspense was exhausting, yet it lasted but a short while,
for when the enemy's bugles sang the "Dismount!" Joan gave the word to
trot, and that was a great relief to me. She was always at herself,
you see. Before the command to dismount had been given, somebody might
have wanted the countersign somewhere along that line if we came
flying by at speed, but now wee seemed to be on our way to our
allotted camping position, so we were allowed to pass unchallenged.
The further we went the more formidable was the strength revealed by
the hostile force. Perhaps it was only a hundred or two, but to me it
seemed a thousand. When we passed the last of these people I was
thankful, and the deeper we plowed into the darkness beyond them the
better I felt. I came nearer and nearer to feeling good, for an hour;
then we found the bridge still standing, and I felt entirely good. We
crossed it and destroyed it, and then I felt--but I cannot describe
what I felt. One has to feel it himself in order to know what it is
We had expected to hear the rush of a pursuing force behind us,
for we thought that the real Captain Raymond would arrive and suggest
that perhaps the troop that had been mistaken for his belonged to the
Virgin of Vaucouleurs; but he must have been delayed seriously, for
when we resumed our march beyond the river there were no sounds behind
us except those which the storm was furnishing.
I said that Joan had harvested a good many compliments intended
for Captain Raymond, and that he would find nothing of a crop left
but a dry stubble of reprimands when he got back, and a commander
just in the humor to superintend the gathering of it in.
"It will be as you say, no doubt; for the commander took a troop
for granted, in the night and unchallenged, and would have camped
without sending a force to destroy the bridge if he had been left
unadvised, and none are so ready to find fault with others as those
who do things worthy of blame themselves."
The Sieur Bertrand was amused at Joan's na‹ve way of referring to
her advice as if it had been a valuable present to a hostile leader
who was saved by it from making a censurable blunder of omission, and
then he went on to admire how ingeniously she had deceived that man
and yet had not told him anything that was not the truth. This
troubled Joan, and she said:
"I thought he was deceiving himself. I forbore to tell him lies,
for that would have been wrong; but if my truths deceived him,
perhaps that made them lies, and I am to blame. I would God I knew if
I have done wrong."
She was assured that she had done right, and that in the perils and
necessities of war deceptions that help one's own cause and hurt the
enemy's were always permissible; but she was not quite satisfied with
that, and thought that even when a great cause was in danger one ought
to have the privilege of trying honorable ways first. Jean said:
"Joan, you told us yourself that you were going to Uncle Laxart's
to nurse his wife, but you didn't say you were going further, yet you
did go on to Vaucouleurs. There!"
"I see now," said Joan, sorrowfully. "I told no lie, yet I
deceived. I had tried all other ways first, but I could not get away,
and I had to get away. My mission required it. I did wrong, I think,
and am to blame."
She was silent a moment, turning the matter over in her mind, then
she added, with quiet decision, "But the thing itself was right, and I
would do it again."
It seemed an over-nice distinction, but nobody said anything. I few
had known her as well as she knew herself, and as her later history
revealed her to us, we should have perceived that she had a clear
meaning there, and that her position was not identical with ours, as
we were supposing, but occupied a higher plane. She would sacrifice
herself--and her best self; that is, her truthfulness--to save her
cause; but only that; she would not buy her life at that cost; whereas
our war-ethics permitted the purchase of our lives, or any mere
military advantage, small or great, by deception. Her saying seemed a
commonplace at the time, the essence of its meaning escaping us; but
one sees now that it contained a principle which lifted it above that
and made it great and fine.
Presently the wind died down, the sleet stopped falling, and the
cold was less severe. The road was become a bog, and the horses
labored through it at a walk--they could do no better. As the heavy
time wore on, exhaustion overcame us, and we slept in our saddles.
Not even the dangers that threatened us could keep us awake.
This tenth night seemed longer than any of the others, and of
course it was the hardest, because we had been accumulating fatigue
from the beginning, and had more of it on hand now than at any
previous time. But we were not molested again. When the dull dawn came
at last we saw a river before us and we knew it was the Loire; we
entered the town of Gien, and knew we were in a friendly land, with
the hostiles all behind us. That was a glad morning for us.
We were a worn and bedraggled and shabby-looking troop; and still,
as always, Joan was the freshest of us all, in both body and spirits.
We had averaged above thirteen leagues a night, by tortuous and
wretched roads. It was a remarkable march, and shows what men can do
when they have a leader with a determined purpose and a resolution
that never flags.
Chapter 5 We Pierce the Last Ambuscades
WE RESTED and otherwise refreshed ourselves two or three hours at
Gien, but by that time the news was abroad that the young girl
commissioned of God to deliver France was come; wherefore, such a
press of people flocked to our quarters to get sight of her that it
seemed best to seek a quieter place; so we pushed on and halted at a
small village called Fierbois.
We were now within six leagues of the King, who was a the Castle
of Chinon. Joan dictated a letter to him at once, and I wrote it. In
it she said she had come a hundred and fifty leagues to bring him
good news, and begged the privilege of delivering it in person. She
added that although she had never seen him she would know him in any
disguise and would point him out.
The two knights rode away at once with the letter. The troop slept
all the afternoon, and after supper we felt pretty fresh and fine,
especially our little group of young Domremians. We had the
comfortable tap-room of the village inn to ourselves, and for the
first time in ten unspeakably long days were exempt from bodings and
terrors and hardships and fatiguing labors. The Paladin was suddenly
become his ancient self again, and was swaggering up and down, a very
monument of self-complacency. Noael Rainguesson said:
"I think it is wonderful, the way he has brought us through."
"Who?" asked Jean.
"Why, the Paladin."
The Paladin seemed not to hear.
"What had he to do with it?" asked Pierre d'Arc.
"Everything. It was nothing but Joan's confidence in his discretion
that enabled her to keep up her heart. She could depend on us and on
herself for valor, but discretion is the winning thing in war, after
all; discretion is the rarest and loftiest of qualities, and he has
got more of it than any other man in France--more of it, perhaps,
than any other sixty men in France."
"Now you are getting ready to make a fool of yourself, Noael
Rainguesson," said the Paladin, "and you want to coil some of that
long tongue of yours around your neck and stick the end of it in your
ear, then you'll be the less likely to get into trouble."
"I didn't know he had more discretion than other people," said
Pierre, "for discretion argues brains, and he hasn't any more brains
than the rest of us, in my opinion."
"No, you are wrong there. Discretion hasn't anything to do with
brains; brains are an obstruction to it, for it does not reason, it
feels. Perfect discretion means absence of brains. Discretion is a
quality of the heart--solely a quality of the heart; it acts upon us
through feeling. We know this because if it were an intellectual
quality it would only perceive a danger, for instance, where a danger
"Hear him twaddle--the damned idiot!" muttered the Paladin.
"--whereas, it being purely a quality of the heart, and proceeding
by feeling, not reason, its reach is correspondingly wider and
sublimer, enabling it to perceive and avoid dangers that haven't any
existence at all; as, for instance, that night in the fog, when the
Paladin took his horse's ears for hostile lances and got off and
climbed a tree--"
"It's a lie! a lie without shadow of foundation, and I call upon
you all to beware you you give credence to the malicious inventions of
this ramshackle slander-mill that has been doing its best to destroy
my character for years, and will grind up your own reputations for
you next. I got off to tighten my saddle-girth--I wish I may die in
my tracks if it isn't so--and whoever wants to believe it can, and
whoever don't can let it alone."
"There, that is the way with him, you see; he never can discuss a
theme temperately, but always flies off the handle and becomes
disagreeable. And you notice his defect of memory. He remembers
getting off his horse, but forgets all the rest, even the tree. But
that is natural; he would remember getting off the horse because he
was so used to doing it. He always did it when there was an alarm and
the clash of arms at the front."
"Why did he choose that time for it?" asked Jean.
"I don't know. To tighten up his girth, he thinks, to climb a tree,
I think; I saw him climb nine trees in a single night."
"You saw nothing of the kind! A person that can lie like that
deserves no one's respect. I ask you all to answer me. Do you believe
what this reptile has said?"
All seemed embarrassed, and only Pierre replied. He said,
"I--well, I hardly know what to say. It is a delicate situation. It
seems offensive to me to refuse to believe a person when he makes so
direct a statement, and yet I am obliged to say, rude as it may
appear, that I am not able to believe the whole of it--no, I am not
able to believe that you climbed nine trees."
"There!" cried the Paladin; "now what do you think of yoiurself,
Noael Rainguesson? How many do you believe I climbed, Pierre?"
The laughter that followed inflamed the Paladin's anger to white
heat, and he said:
"I bide my time--I bide my time. I will reckon with you all, I
promise you that!"
"Don't get him started," Noael pleaded; "he is a perfect lion when
he gets started. I saw enough to teach me that, after the third
skirmish. After it was over I saw him come out of the bushes and
attack a dead man single-handed."
"It is another lie; and I give you fair warning that you are going
too far. You will see me attack a live one if you are not careful."
"Meaning me, of course. This wounds me more than any number of
injurious and unkind speeches could do. In gratitude to one's
"Benefactor? What do I owe you, I should like to know?"
"You owe me your life. I stood between the trees and the foe, and
kept hundreds and thousands of the enemy at bay when they were
thirsting for your blood. And I did not do it to display my daring. I
did it because I loved you and could not live without you."
"There--you have said enough! I will not stay here to listen to
these infamies. I can endure your lies, but not your love. Keep that
corruption for somebody with a stronger stomach than mine. And I want
to say this, before I go. That you people's small performances might
appear the better and win you the more glory, I hid my own deeds
through all the march. I went always to the front, where the fighting
was thickest, to be remote from you in order that you might not see
and be discouraged by the things I did to the enemy. It was my purpose
to keep this a secret in my own breast, but you force me to reveal it.
If you ask for my witnesses, yonder they lie, on the road we have
come. I found that road mud, I paved it with corpses. I found that
country sterile, I fertilized it with blood. Time and again I was
urged to go to the rear because the command could not proceed on
account of my dead. And yet you, you miscreant, accuse me of climbing
And he strode out, with a lofty air, for the recital of his
imaginary deeds had already set him up again and made him feel good.
Next day we mounted and faced toward Chinon. Orleans was at our
back now, and close by, lying in the strangling grip of the English;
soon, please God, we would face about and go to their relief. From
Gien the news had spread to Orleans that the peasant Maid of
Vaucouleurs was on her way, divinely commissioned to raise the siege.
The news made a great excitement and raised a great hope--the first
breath of hope those poor souls had breathed in five months. They sent
commissioners at once to the King to beg him to consider this matter,
and not throw this help lightly away. These commissioners were already
at Chinon by this time.
When we were half-way to Chinon we happened upon yet one more
squad of enemies. They burst suddenly out of the woods, and in
considerable force, too; but we were not the apprentices we were ten
or twelve days before; no, we were seasoned to this kind of adventure
now; our hearts did not jump into our throats and our weapons tremble
in our hands. We had learned to be always in battle array, always
alert, and always ready to deal with any emergency that might turn up.
We were no more dismayed by the sight of those people than our
commander was. Before they could form, Joan had delivered the order,
"Forward!" and we were down upon them with a rush. They stood no
chance; they turned tail and scattered, we plowing through them as if
they had been men of straw. That was our last ambuscade, and it was
probably laid for us by that treacherous rascal, the King's own
minister and favorite, De la Tremouille.
We housed ourselves in an inn, and soon the town came flocking to
get a glimpse of the Maid.
Ah, the tedious King and his tedious people! Our two good knights
came presently, their patience well wearied, and reported. They and
we reverently stood--as becomes persons who are in the presence of
kings and the superiors of kings--until Joan, troubled by this mark of
homage and respect, and not content with it nor yet used to it,
although we had not permitted ourselves to do otherwise since the day
she prophesied that wretched traitor's death and he was straightway
drowned, thus confirming many previous signs that she was indeed an
ambassador commissioned of God, commanded us to sit; then the Sieur de
Metz said to Joan:
"The King has got the letter, but they will not let us have speech
"Who is it that forbids?"
"None forbids, but there be three or four that are nearest his
person--schemers and traitors every one--that put obstructions in the
way, and seek all ways, by lies and pretexts, to make delay. Chiefest
of these are Georges de la Tremouille and that plotting fox, the
Archbishop of Rheims. While they keep the King idle and in bondage to
his sports and follies, they are great and their importance grows;
whereas if ever he assert himself and rise and strike for crown and
country like a man, their reign is done. So they but thrive, they care
not if the crown go to destruction and the King with it."
"You have spoken with others besides these?"
"Not of the Court, no--the Court are the meek slaves of those
reptiles, and watch their mouths and their actions, acting as they
act, thinking as they think, saying as they say; wherefore they are
cold to us, and turn aside and go another way when we appear. But we
have spoken with the commissioners from Orleans. They said with heat:
'It is a marvel that any man in such desperate case as is the King can
moon around in this torpid way, and see his all go to ruin without
lifting a finger to stay the disaster. What a most strange spectacle
it is! Here he is, shut up in this wee corner of the realm like a rat
in a trap; his royal shelter this huge gloomy tomb of a castle, with
wormy rags for upholstery and crippled furniture for use, a very house
of desolation; in his treasure forty francs, and not a farthing more,
God be witness! no army, nor any shadow of one; and by contrast with
his hungry poverty you behold this crownless pauper and his shoals of
fools and favorites tricked out in the gaudiest silks and velvets you
shall find in any Court in Christendom. And look you, he knows that
when our city falls--as fall it surely will except succor come
swiftly--France falls; he knows that when that day comes he will be an
outlaw and a fugitive, and that behind him the English flag will float
unchallenged over every acre of his great heritage; he knows these
things, he knows that our faithful city is fighting all solitary and
alone against disease, starvation, and the sword to stay this awful
calamity, yet he will not strike one blow to save her, he will not
hear our prayers, he will not even look upon our faces.' That is what
the commissioners said, and they are in despair."
Joan said, gently:
"It is pity, but they must not despair. The Dauphin will hear them
presently. Tell them so."
She almost always called the King the Dauphin. To her mind he was
not King yet, not being crowned.
"We will tell them so, and it will content them, for they believe
you come from God. The Archbishop and his confederate have for backer
that veteran soldier Raoul de Gaucourt, Grand Master of the Palace, a
worthy man, but simply a soldier, with no head for any greater matter.
He cannot make out to see how a country-girl, ignorant of war, can
take a sword in her small hand and win victories where the trained
generals of France have looked for defeats only, for fifty years--and
always found them. And so he lifts his frosty mustache and scoffs."
"When God fights it is but small matter whether the hand that
bears His sword is big or little. He will perceive this in time. Is
there none in that Castle of Chinon who favors us?"
"Yes, the King's mother-in-law, Yolande, Queen of Sicily, who is
wise and good. She spoke with the Sieur Bertrand."
"She favors us, and she hates those others, the King's beguilers,"
said Bertrand. "She was full of interest, and asked a thousand
questions, all of which I answered according to my ability. Then she
sat thinking over these replies until I thought she was lost in a
dream and would wake no more. But it was not so. At last she said,
slowly, and as if she were talking to herself: 'A child of
seventeen--a girl--country-bred--untaught--ignorant of war, the use
of arms, and the conduct of battles--modest, gentle, shrinking--yet
throws away her shepherd's crook and clothes herself in steel, and
fights her way through a hundred and fifty leagues of fear, and
comes--she to whom a king must be a dread and awful presence--and
will stand up before such an one and say, Be not afraid, God has sent
me to save you! Ah, whence could come a courage and conviction so
sublime as this but from very God Himself!' She was silent again
awhile, thinking and making up her mind; then she said, 'And whether
she comes of God or no, there is that in her heart that raises her
above men--1high above all men that breathe in France to-day--for in
her is that mysterious something that puts heart into soldiers, and
turns mobs of cowards into armies of fighters that forget what fear is
when they are in that presence--fighters who go into battle with joy
in their eyes and songs on their lips, and sweep over the field like a
storm --that is the spirit that can save France, and that alone, come
it whence it may! It is in her, I do truly believe, for what else
could have borne up that child on that great march, and made her
despise its dangers and fatigues? The King must see her face to
face--and shall!' She dismissed me with those good words, and I know
her promise will be kept. They will delay her all they can--those
animals--bu she will not fail in the end."
"Would she were King!" said the other knight, fervently. "For there
is little hope that the King himself can be stirred out of his
lethargy. He is wholly without hope, and is only thinking of throwing
away everything and flying to some foreign land. The commissioners say
there is a spell upon him that makes him hopeless--yes, and that it is
shut up in a mystery which they cannot fathom."
"I know the mystery," said Joan, with quiet confidence; "I know it,
and he knows it, but no other but God. When I see him I will tell him
a secret that will drive away his trouble, then he will hold up his
I was miserable with curiosity to know what it was that she would
tell him, but she did not say, and I did not expect she would. She
was but a child, it is true; but she was not a chatterer to tell great
matters and make herself important to little people; no, she was
reserved, and kept things to herself, as the truly great always do.
The next day Queen Yolande got one victory over the King's
keepers, for, in spite of their protestations and obstructions, she
procured an audience for our two knights, and they made the most they
could out of their opportunity. They told the King what a spotless and
beautiful character Joan was, and how great and noble a spirit
animated her, and they implored him to trust in her, believe in her,
and have faith that she was sent to save France. They begged him to
consent to see her. He was strongly moved to do this, and promised
that he would not drop the matter out of his mind, but would consult
with his council about it. This began to look encouraging. Two hours
later there was a great stir below, and the innkeeper came flying up
to say a commission of illustrious ecclesiastics was come from the
King--from the King his very self, understand!--think of this vast
honor to his humble little hostelry!--and he was so overcome with the
glory of it that he could hardly find breath enough in his excited
body to put the facts into words. They were come from the King to
speak with the Maid of Vaucouleurs. Then he flew downstairs, and
presently appeared again, backing into the room, and bowing to the
ground with every step, in front of four imposing and austere bishops
and their train of servants.
Joan rose, and we all stood. The bishops took seats, and for a
while no word was said, for it was their prerogative to speak first,
and they were so astonished to see what a child it was that was making
such a noise in the world and degrading personages of their dignity
to the base function of ambassadors to her in her plebeian tavern,
that they could not find any words to say at first. Then presently
their spokesman told Joan they were aware that she had a message for
the King, wherefore she was now commanded to put it into words,
briefly and without waste of time or embroideries of speech.
As for me, I could hardly contain my joy--our message was to reach
the King at last! And there was the same joy and pride and exultation
in the faces of our knights, too, and in those of Joan's brothers. And
I knew that they were all praying--asI was--that the awe which we felt
in the presence of these great dignitaries, and which would have tied
our tongues and locked our jaws, would not affect her in the like
degree, but that she would be enabled to word her message well, and
with little stumbling, and so make a favorable impression here, where
it would be so valuable and so important.
Ah, dear, how little we were expecting what happened then! We were
aghast to hear her say what she said. She was standing in a reverent
attitude, with her head down and her hands clasped in front of her;
for she was always reverent toward the consecrated servants of God.
When the spokesman had finished, she raised her head and set her calm
eye on those faces, not any more disturbed by their state and grandeur
than a princess would have been, and said, with all her ordinary
simplicity and modesty of voice and manner:
"Ye will forgive me, reverend sirs, but I have no message save for
the King's ear alone."
Those surprised men were dumb for a moment, and their faces
flushed darkly; then the spokesman said:
"Hark ye, to you fling the King's command in his face and refuse to
deliver this message of yours to his servants appointed to receive
"God has appointed me to receive it, and another's commandment may
not take precedence of that. I pray you let me have speech for his
grace the Dauphin."
"Forbear this folly, and come at your message! Deliver it, and
waste no more time about it."
"You err indeed, most reverend fathers in God, and it is not well.
I am not come hither to talk, but to deliver Orleans, and lead the
Dauphin to his good city of Rheims, and set the crown upon his head."
"Is that the message you send to the King?"
But Joan only said, in the simple fashion which was her wont:
"Ye will pardon me for reminding you again--but I have no message
to send to any one."
The King's messengers rose in deep anger and swept out of the
place without further words, we and Joan kneeling as they passed.
Our countenances were vacant, our hearts full of a sense of
disaster. Our precious opportunity was thrown away; we could not
understand Joan's conduct, she who had ben so wise until this fatal
hour. At last the Sieur Bertrand found courage to ask her why she had
let this great chance to get her message to the King go by.
"Who sent them here?" she asked.
"Who moved the King to send them?" She waited for an answer; none
came, for we began to see what was in her mind--so she answered
herself: "The Dauphin's council moved him to it. Are they enemies to
me and to the Dauphin's weal, or are they friends?"
"Enemies," answered the Sieur Bertrand.
"If one would have a message go sound and ungarbled, does one
choose traitors and tricksters to send it by?"
I saw that we had been fools, and she wise. They saw it too, so
none found anything to say. Then she went on:
"They had but small wit that contrived this trap. They thought to
get my message and seem to deliver it straight, yet deftly twist it
from its purpose. You know that one part of my message is but
this--to move the Dauphin by argument and reasonings to give me
men-at-arms and send me to the siege. If an enemy carried these in
the right words, the exact words, and no word missing, yet left out
the persuasions of gesture and supplicating tone and beseeching looks
that inform the words and make them live, where were the value of that
argument--whom could it convince? Be patient, the Dauphin will hear me
presently; have no fear."
The Sieur de Metz nodded his head several times, and muttered as
"She was right and wise, and we are but dull fools, when all is
It was just my thought; I could have said it myself; and indeed it
was the thought of all there present. A sort of awe crept over us, to
think how that untaught girl, taken suddenly and unprepared, was yet
able to penetrate the cunning devices of a King's trained advisers and
defeat them. Marveling over this, and astonished at it, we fell silent
and spoke no more. We had come to know that she was great in courage,
fortitude, endurance, patience, conviction, fidelity to all duties--in
all things, indeed, that make a good and trusty soldier and perfect
him for his post; now we were beginning to feel that maybe there were
greatnesses in her brain that were even greater than these great
qualities of the heart. It set us thinking.
What Joan did that day bore fruit the very day after. The King was
obliged to respect the spirit of a young girl who could hold her own
and stand her ground like that, and he asserted himself sufficiently
to put his respect into an act instead of into polite and empty words.
He moved Joan out of that poor inn, and housed her, with us her
servants, in the Castle of Courdray, personally confiding her to the
care of Madame de Bellier, wife of old Raoul de Gaucourt, Master of
the Palace. Of course, this royal attention had an immediate result:
all the great lords and ladies of the Court began to flock there to
see and listen to the wonderful girl-soldier that all the world was
talking about, and who had answered the King's mandate with a bland
refusal to obey. Joan charmed them every one with her sweetness and
simplicity and unconscious eloquence, and all the best and capablest
among them recognized that there was an indefinable something about
her that testified that she was not made of common clay, that she was
built on a grander plan than the mass of mankind, and moved on a
loftier plane. These spread her fame. She always made friends and
advocates that way; neither the high nor the low could come within
the sound of her voice and the sight of her face and go out from her
Chapter 6 Joan Convinces the King
WELL, anything to make delay. The King's council advised him
against arriving at a decision in our matter too precipitately. He
arrive at a decision too precipitately! So they sent a committee of
priests--always priests--into Lorraine to inquire into Joan's
character and history--a matter which would consume several weeks, of
course. You see how fastidious they were. It was as if people should
come to put out the fire when a man's house was burning down, and they
waited till they could send into another country to find out if he had
always kept the Sabbath or not, before letting him try.
So the days poked along; dreary for us young people in some ways,
but not in all, for we had one great anticipation in front of us; we
had never seen a king, and now some day we should have that
prodigious spectacle to see and to treasure in our memories all our
lives; so we were on the lookout, and always eager and watching for
the chance. The others were doomed to wait longer than I, as it turned
out. One day great news came--the Orleans commissioners, with Yolande
and our knights, had at last turned the council's position and
persuaded the King to see Joan.
Joan received the immense news gratefully but without losing her
head, but with us others it was otherwise; we could not eat or sleep
or do any rational thing for the excitement and the glory of it.
During two days our pair of noble knights were in distress and
trepidation on Joan's account, for the audience was to be at night,
and they were afraid that Joan would be so paralyzed by the glare of
light from the long files of torches, the solemn pomps and ceremonies,
the great concourse of renowned personages, the brilliant costumes,
and the other splendors of the Court, that she, a simple country-maid,
and all unused to such things, would be overcome by these terrors and
make a piteous failure.
No doubt I could have comforted them, but I was not free to speak.
Would Joan be disturbed by this cheap spectacle, this tinsel show,
with its small King and his butterfly dukelets?--she who had spoken
face to face with the princes of heaven, the familiars of God, and
seen their retinue of angels stretching back into the remoteness of
the sky, myriads upon myriads, like a measureless fan of light, a
glory like the glory of the sun streaming from each of those
innumerable heads, the massed radiance filling the deeps of space with
a blinding splendor? I thought not.
Queen Yolande wanted Joan to make the best possible impression
upon the King and the Court, so she was strenuous to have her clothed
in the richest stuffs, wrought upon the princeliest pattern, and set
off with jewels; but in that she had to be disappointed, of course,
Joan not being persuadable to it, but begging to be simply and
sincerely dressed, as became a servant of God, and one sent upon a
mission of a serious sort and grave political import. So then the
gracious Queen imagined and contrived that simple and witching costume
which I have described to you so many times, and which I cannot think
of even now in my dull age without being moved just as rhythmical and
exquisite music moves one; for that was music, that dress--that is
what it was--music that one saw with a the eyes and felt in the heart.
Yes, she was a poem, she was a dream, she was a spirit when she was
clothed in that.
She kept that raiment always, and wore it several times upon
occasions of state, and it is preserved to this day in the Treasury of
Orleans, with two of her swords, and her banner, and other things now
sacred because they had belonged to her.
At the appointed time the Count of Vend“me, a great lord of the
court, came richly clothed, with his train of servants and assistants,
to conduct Joan to the King, and the two knights and I went with her,
being entitled to this privilege by reason of our official positions
near her person.
When we entered the great audience-hall, there it all was just as I
have already painted it. Here were ranks of guards in shining armor
and with polished halberds; two sides of the hall were like
flower-gardens for variety of color and the magnificence of the
costumes; light streamed upon these masses of color from two hundred
and fifty flambeaux. There was a wide free space down the middle of
the hall, and at the end of it was a throne royally canopied, and upon
it sat a crowned and sceptered figure nobly clothed and blazing with
It is true that Joan had been hindered and put off a good while,
but now that she was admitted to an audience at last, she was received
with honors granted to only the greatest personages. At the entrance
door stood four heralds in a row, in splendid tabards, with long
slender silver trumpets at their mouths, with square silken banners
depending from them embroidered with the arms of France. As Joan and
the Count passed by, these trumpets gave forth in unison one long rich
note, and as we moved down the hall under the pictured and gilded
vaulting, this was repeated at every fifty feet of our progress--six
times in all. It made our good knights proud and happy, and they held
themselves erect, and stiffened their stride, and looked fine and
soldierly. They were not expecting this beautiful and honorable
tribute to our little country-maid.
Joan walked two yards behind the Count, we three walked two yards
behind Joan. Our solemn march ended when we were as yet some eight or
ten steps from the throne. The Count made a deep obeisance, pronounced
Joan's name, then bowed again and moved to his place among a group of
officials near the throne. I was devouring the crowned personage with
all my eyes, and my heart almost stgood still with awe.
The eyes of all others were fixed upon Joan in a gaze of wonder
which was half worship, and which seemed to say, "How sweet--how
lovely--how divine!" All lips were parted and motionless, which was a
sure sign that those people, who seldom forget themselves, had
forgotten themselves now, and were not conscious of anything but the
one object they were gazing upon. They had the look of people who are
under the enchantment of a vision.
Then they presently began to come to life again, rousing
themselves out of the spell and shaking it off as one drives away
little by little a clinging drowsiness or intoxication. Now they fixed
their attention upon Joan with a strong new interest of another sort;
they were full of curiosity to see what she would do--they having a
secret and particular reason for this curiosity. So they watched. This
is what they saw:
She made no obeisance, nor even any slight inclination of her
head, but stood looking toward the throne in silence. That was all
there was to see at present.
I glanced up at De Metz, and was shocked at the paleness of his
face. I whispered and said:
"What is it, man, what is it?"
His answering whisper was so weak I could hardly catch it:
"They have taken advantage of the hint in her letter to play a
trick upon her! She will err, and they will laugh at her. That is not
the King that sits there."
Then I glanced at Joan. She was still gazing steadfastly toward the
throne, and I had the curious fancy that even her shoulders and the
back of her head expressed bewilderment. Now she turned her head
slowly, and her eye wandered along the lines of standing courtiers
till it fell upon a young man who was very quietly dressed; then her
face lighted joyously, and she ran and threw herself at his feet, and
clasped his knees, exclaiming in that soft melodious voice which was
her birthright and was now charged with deep and tender feeling:
"God of his grace give you long life, O dear and gentle Dauphin!"
In his astonishment and exultation De Metz cried out:
"By the shadow of God, it is an amazing thing!" Then he mashed all
the bones of my hand in his grateful grip, and added, with a proud
shake of his mane, "Now, what have these painted infidels to say!"
Meantime the young person in the plain clothes was saying to Joan:
"Ah, you mistake, my child, I am not the King. There he is," and
he pointed to the throne.
The knight's face clouded, and he muttered in grief and
"Ah, it is a shame to use her so. But for this lie she had gone
through safe. I will go and proclaim to all the house what--"
"Stay where you are!" whispered I and the Sieur Bertrand in a
breath, and made him stop in his place.
Joan did not stir from her knees, but still lifted her happy face
toward the King, and said:
"No, gracious liege, you are he, and none other."
De Metz's troubles vanished away, and he said:
"Verily, she was not guessing, she knew. Now, how could she know?
It is a miracle. I am content, and will meddle no more, for I perceive
that she is equal to her occasions, having that in her head that
cannot profitably be helped by the vacancy that is in mine."
This interruption of his lost me a remark or two of the other talk;
however, I caught the King's next question:
"But tell me who you are, and what would you?"
"I am called Joan the Maid, and am sent to say that the King of
Heaven wills that you be crowned and consecrated in your good city of
Rheims, and be thereafter Lieutenant of the Lord of Heaven, who is
King of France. And He willeth also that you set me at my appointed
work and give me men-at-arms." After a slight pause she added, her eye
lighting at the sound of her words, "For then will I raise the siege
of Orleans and break the English power!"
The young monarch's amused face sobered a little when this martial
speech fell upon that sick air like a breath blown from embattled
camps and fields of war, and this trifling smile presently faded
wholly away and disappeared. He was grave now, and thoughtful. After a
little he waved his hand lightly, and all the people fell away and
left those two by themselves in a vacant space. The knights and I
moved to the opposite side of the hall and stood there. We saw Joan
rise at a sign, then she and the King talked privately together.
All that host had been consumed with curiosity to see what Joan
would do. Well, they had seen, and now they were full of astonishment
to see that she had really performed that strange miracle according to
the promise in her letter; and they were fully as much astonished to
find that she was not overcome by the pomps and splendors about her,
but was even more tranquil and at her ease in holding speech with a
monarch than ever they themselves had been, with all their practice
As for our two knights, they were inflated beyond measure with
pride in Joan, but nearly dumb, as to speech, they not being able to
think out any way to account for her managing to carry herself
through this imposing ordeal without ever a mistake or an awkwardness
of any kind to mar the grace and credit of her great performance.
The talk between Joan and the King was long and earnest, and held
in low voices. We could not hear, but we had our eyes and could note
effects; and presently we and all the house noted one effect which was
memorable and striking, and has been set down in memoirs and histories
and in testimony at the Process of Rehabilitation by some who
witnessed it; for all knew it was big with meaning, though none knew
what that meaning was at that time, of course. For suddenly we saw the
King shake off his indolent attitude and straighten up like a man, and
at the same time look immeasurably astonished. It was as if Joan had
told him something almost too wonderful for belief, and yet of a most
uplifting and welcome nature.
It was long before we found out the secret of this conversation,
but we know it now, and all the world knows it. That part of the talk
was like this--as one may read in all histories. The perplexed King
asked Joan for a sign. He wanted to believe in her and her mission,
and that her Voices were supernatural and endowed with knowledge
hidden from mortals, but how could he do this unless these Voices
could prove their claim in some absolutely unassailable way? It was
then that Joan said:
"I will give you a sign, and you shall no more doubt. There is a
secret trouble in your heart which you speak of to none--a doubt
which wastes away your courage, and makes you dream of throwing all
away and fleeing from your realm. Within this little while you have
been praying, in your own breast, that God of his grace would resolve
that doubt, even if the doing of it must show you that no kingly right
is lodged in you."
It was that that amazed the King, for it was as she had said: his
prayer was the secret of his own breast, and none but God could know
about it. So he said:
"The sign is sufficient. I know now that these Voices are of God.
They have said true in this matter; if they have said more, tell it
me--I will believe."
"They have resolved that doubt, and I bring their very words,
which are these: Thou art lawful heir to the King thy father, and
true heir of France. God has spoken it. Now lift up they head, and
doubt no more, but give me men-at-arms and let me get about my work."
Telling him he was of lawful birth was what straightened him up
and made a man of him for a moment, removing his doubts upon that
head and convincing him of his royal right; and if any could have
hanged his hindering and pestiferous council and set him free, he
would have answered Joan's prayer and set her in the field. But no,
those creatures were only checked, not checkmated; they could invent
some more delays.
We had been made proud by the honors which had so distinguished
Joan's entrance into that place--honors restricted to personages of
very high rank and worth--but that pride was as nothing compared with
the pride we had in the honor done her upon leaving it. For whereas
those first honors were shown only to the great, these last, up to
this time, had been shown only to the royal. The King himself led Joan
by the hand down the great hall to the door, the glittering multitude
standing and making reverence as they passed, and the silver trumpets
sounding those rich notes of theirs. Then he dismissed her with
gracious words, bending low over her hand and kissing it. Always--from
all companies, high or low--she went forth richer in honor and esteem
than when she came.
And the King did another handsome thing by Joan, for he sent us
back to Courdray Castle torch-lighted and in state, under escort of
his own troop--his guard of honor--the only soldiers he had; and
finely equipped and bedizened they were, too, though they hadn't seen
the color of their wages since they were children, as a body might
say. The wonders which Joan had been performing before the King had
been carried all around by this time, so the road was so packed with
people who wanted to get a sight of her that we could hardly dig
through; and as for talking together, we couldn't, all attempts at
talk being drowned in the storm of shoutings and huzzas that broke out
all along as we passed, and kept abreast of us like a wave the whole
Chapter 7 Our Paladin in His Glory
WE WERE doomed to suffer tedious waits and delays, and we settled
ourselves down to our fate and bore it with a dreary patience,
counting the slow hours and the dull days and hoping for a turn when
God should please to send it. The Paladin was the only exception--that
is to say, he was the only one who was happy and had no heavy times.
This was partly owing to the satisfaction he got out of his clothes.
He bought them at second hand--a Spanish cavalier's complete suit,
wide-brimmed hat with flowing plumes, lace collar and cuffs, faded
velvet doublet and trunks, short cloak hung from the shoulder,
funnel-topped buskins, long rapier, and all that--a graceful and
picturesque costume, and the Paladin's great frame was the right place
to hang it for effect. He wore it when off duty; and when he swaggered
by with one hand resting on the hilt of his rapier, and twirling his
new mustache with the other, everybody stopped to look and admire; and
well they might, for he was a fine and stately contrast to the small
French gentlemen of the day squeezed into the trivial French costume
of the time.
He was king bee of the little village that snuggled under the
shelter of the frowning towers and bastions of Courdray Castle, and
acknowledged lord of the tap-room of the inn. When he opened his
mouth there, he got a hearing. Those simple artisans and peasants
listened with deep and wondering interest; for he was a traveler and
had seen the world--all of it that lay between Chinon and Domremy, at
any rate--and that was a wide stretch more of it than they might ever
hope to see; and he had been in battle, and knew how to paint its
shock and struggle, its perils and surprised, with an art that was all
his own. He was cock of that walk, hero of that hostelry; he drew
custom as honey draws flies; so he was the pet of the innkeeper, and
of his wife and daughter, and they were his obliged and willing
Most people who have the narrative gift--that great and rare
endowment--have with it the defect of telling their choice things
over the same way every time, and this injures them and causes them
to sound stale and wearisome after several repetitions; but it was not
so with the Paladin, whose art was of a finer sort; it was more
stirring and interesting to hear him tell about a battle the tenth
time than it was the first time, because he did not tell it twice the
same way, but always made a new battle of it and a better one, with
more casualties on the enemy's side each time, and more general wreck
and disaster all around, and more widows and orphans and suffering in
the neighborhood where it happened. He could not tell his battles
apart himself, except by their names; and by the time he had told one
of then ten times it had grown so that there wasn't room enough in
France for it any more, but was lapping over the edges. But up to that
point the audience would not allow him to substitute a new battle,
knowing that the old ones were the best, and sure to imporve as long
as France could hold them; and so, instead of saying to him as they
would have said to another, "Give us something fresh, we are fatigued
with that old thing," they would say, with one voice and with a strong
interest, "Tell about the surprise at Beaulieu again--tell in three or
four times!" That is a compliment which few narrative experts have
heard in their lifetime.
At first when the Paladin heard us tell about the glories of the
Royal Audience he was broken-hearted because he was not taken with us
to it; next, his talk was full of what he would have done if he had
been there; and within two days he was telling what he did do when he
was there. His mill was fairly started, now, and could be trusted to
take care of its affair. Within three nights afterward all his battles
were taking a rest, for already his worshipers in the tap-room were so
infatuated with the great tale of the Royal Audience that they would
have nothing else, and so besotted with it were they that they would
have cried if they could not have gotten it.
Noael Rainguesson hid himself and heard it, and came and told me,
and after that we went together to listen, bribing the inn hostess to
let us have her little private parlor, where we could stand at the
wickets in the door and see and hear.
The tap-room was large, yet had a snug and cozy look, with its
inviting little tables and chairs scattered irregularly over its red
brick floor, and its great fire flaming and crackling in the wide
chimney. It was a comfortable place to be in on such chilly and
blustering March nights as these, and a goodly company had taken
shelter there, and were sipping their wine in contentment and
gossiping one with another in a neighborly way while they waited for
the historian. The host, the hostess, and their pretty daughter were
flying here and there and yonder among the tables and doing their best
to keep up with the orders. The room was about forty feet square, and
a space or aisle down the center of it had been kept vacant and
reserved for the Paladin's needs. At the end of it was a platform ten
or twelve feet wide, with a big chair and a small table on it, and
three steps leading up to it.
Among the wine-sippers were many familiar faces: the cobbler, the
farrier, the blacksmith, the wheelwright, the armorer, the maltster,
the weaver, the backer, the miller's man with his dusty coat, and so
on; and conscious and important, as a matter of course, was the
barber-surgeon, for he is that in all villages. As he has to pull
everybody's teeth and purge and bleed all the grown people once a
month to keep their health sound, he knows everybody, and by constant
contact with all sorts of folk becomes a master of etiquette and
manners and a conversationalist of large facility. There were plenty
of carriers, drovers, and their sort, and journeymen artisans.
When the Paladin presently came sauntering indolently in, he was
received with a cheer, and the barber hustled forward and greeted him
with several low and most graceful and courtly bows, also taking his
hand an touching his lips to it. Then he called in a loud voice for a
stoup of wine for the Paladin, and when the host's daughter brought it
up on the platform and dropped her courtesy and departed, the barber
called after her, and told her to add the wine to his score. This won
him ejaculations of approval, which pleased him very much and made his
little rat-eyes shine; and such applause is right and proper, for when
we do a liberal and gallant thing it is but natural that we should
wish to see notice taken of it.
The barber called upon the people to rise and drink the Paladin's
health, and they did it with alacrity and affectionate heartiness,
clashing their metal flagons together with a simultaneous crash, and
heightening the effect with a resounding cheer. It was a fine thing to
see how that young swashbuckler had made himself so popular in a
strange land in so little a while, and without other helps to his
advancement than just his tongue and the talent to use it given him by
God--a talent which was but one talent in the beginning, but was now
become ten through husbandry and the increment and usufruct that do
naturally follow that and reward it as by a law.
The people sat down and began to hammer on the tables with their
flagons and call for "the King's Audience!--the King's Audience!--the
King's Audience!" The Paladin stood there in one of his best
attitudes, with his plumed great hat tipped over to the left, the
folds of his short cloak drooping from his shoulder, and the one hand
resting upon the hilt of his rapier and the other lifting his beaker.
As the noise died down he made a stately sort of a bow, which he had
picked up somewhere, then fetched his beaker with a sweep to his lips
and tilted his head back and rained it to the bottom. The barber
jumped for it and set it upon the Paladin's table. Then the Paladin
began to walk up and down his platform with a great deal of dignity
and quite at his ease; and as he walked he talked, and every little
while stopped and stood facing his house and so standing continued his
We went three nights in succession. It was plain that there was a
charm about the performance that was apart from the mere interest
which attaches to lying. It was presently discoverable that this
charm lay in the Paladin's sincerity. He was not lying consciously;
he believed what he was saying. To him, his initial statements were
facts, and whenever he enlarged a statement, the enlargement became a
fact too. He put his heart into his extravagant narrative, just as a
poet puts his heart into a heroic fiction, and his earnestness
disarmed criticism--disarmed it as far as he himself was concerned.
Nobody believed his narrative, but all believed that he believed it.
He made his enlargements without flourish, without emphasis, and
so casually that often one failed to notice that a change had been
made. He spoke of the governor of Vaucouleurs, the first night,
simply as the governor of Vaucouleurs; he spoke of him the second
night as his uncle the governor of Vaucouleurs; the third night he was
his father. He did not seem to know that he was making these
extraordinary changes; they dropped from his lips in a quite natural
and effortless way. By his first night's account the governor merely
attached him to the Maid's military escort in a general and unofficial
way; the second night his uncle the governor sent him with the Maid as
lieutenant of her rear guard; the third night his father the governor
put the whole command, Maid and all, in his special charge. The first
night the governor spoke of his as a youth without name or ancestry,
but "destined to achieve both"; the second night his uncle the
governor spoke of him as the latest and worthiest lineal descendent of
the chiefest and noblest of the Twelve Paladins of Charlemagne; the
third night he spoke of his as the lineal descendent of the whole
dozen. In three nights he promoted the Count of Vend“me from a fresh
acquaintance to a schoolmate, and then brother-in-law.
At the King's Audience everything grew, in the same way. First the
four silver trumpets were twelve, then thirty-five, finally
ninety-six; and byk that time he had thrown in so many drums and
cymbals that he had to lengthen the hall from five hundred feet to
nine hundred to accommodate them. Under his hand the people present
multiplied in the same large way.
The first two nights he contented himself with merely describing
and exaggerating the chief dramatic incident of the Audience, but the
third night he added illustration to description. He throned the
barber in his own high chair to represent the sham King; then he told
how the Court watched the Maid with intense interest and suppressed
merriment, expecting to see her fooled by the deception and get
herself swept permanently out of credit by the storm of scornful
laughter which would follow. He worked this scene up till he got his
house in a burning fever of excitement and anticipation, then came his
climax. Turning to the barber, he said:
"But mark you what she did. She gazed steadfastly upon that sham's
villain face as I now gaze upon yourse--this being her noble and
simple attitude, just as I stand now--then turned she--thus--to me,
and stretching her arm out--so--and pointing with her finger, she
said, in that firm, calm tone which she was used to use in directing
the conduct of a battle, 'Pluck me this false knave from the throne!'
I, striding forward as I do now, took him by the collar and lifted him
out and held him aloft--thus--as it he had been but a child." (The
house rose, shouting, stamping, and banging with their flagons, and
went fairly mad over this magnificent exhibition of strength--and
there was not the shadow of a laugh anywhere, though the spectacle of
the limp but proud barber hanging there in the air like a puppy held
by the scruff of its neck was a thing that had nothing of solemnity
about it.) "Then I set him down upon his feet--thus-- being minded to
get him by a better hold and heave him out of the window, but she bid
me forbear, so by that error he escaped with his life.
"Then she turned her about and viewed the throng with those eyes
of hers, which are the clear-shining windows whence her immortal
wisdom looketh out upon the world, resolving its falsities and coming
at the kernel of truth that is hid within them, and presently they
fell upon a young man modestly clothed, and him she proclaimed for
what he truly was, saying, 'I am thy servant--thou art the King!' Then
all were astonished, and a great shout went up, the whole six thousand
joining in it, so that the walls rocked with the volume and the tumult
He made a fine and picturesque thing of the march-out from the
Audience, augmenting the glories of it to the last limit of the
impossibilities; then he took from his finger and held up a brass nut
from a bolt-head which the head ostler at the castle had given him
that morning, and made his conclusion--thus:
"Then the King dismissed the Maid most graciously--as indeed was
her desert--and, turning to me, said, 'Take this signet-ring, son of
the Paladins, and command me with it in your day of need; and look
you,' said he, touching my temple, 'preserve this brain, France has
use for it; and look well to its casket also, for I foresee that it
will be hooped with a ducal coronet one day.' I took the ring, and
knelt and kissed his hand, saying, 'Sire, where glory calls, there
will I be found; where danger and death are thickest, that is my
native air; when France and the throne need help--well, I say
nothing, for I am not of the talking sort--let my deeds speak for me,
it is all I ask.' "So ended the most fortunate and memorable episode,
so big with future weal for the crown and the nation, and unto God be
the thanks! Rise! Fill you flagons! Now--to France and the
They emptied them to the bottom, then burst into cheers and
huzzas, and kept it up as much as two minutes, the Paladin standing
at stately ease the while and smiling benignantly from his platform.
Chapter 8 Joan Persuades Her Inquisitors
WHEN JOAN told the King what that deep secret was that was
torturing his heart, his doubts were cleared away; he believed she
was sent of God, and if he had been let alone he would have set her
upon her great mission at once. But he was not let alone. Tremouille
and the holy fox of Rheims knew their man. All they needed to say was
this--and they said it:
"Your Highness says her Voices have revealed to you, by her mouth,
a secret known only to yourself and God. How can you know that her
Voices are not of Satan, and she his mouthpiece?--for does not Satan
know the secrets of men and use his knowledge for the destruction of
their souls? It is a dangerous business, and your Highness will do
well not to proceed in it without probing the matter to the bottom."
That was enough. It shriveled up the King's little soul like a
raisin, with terrors and apprehensions, and straightway he privately
appointed a commission of bishops to visit and question Joan daily
until they should find out whether her supernatural helps hailed from
heaven or from hell.
The King's relative, the Duke of Alenon, three years prisoner of
war to the English, was in these days released from captivity through
promise of a great ransom; and the name and fame of the Maid having
reached him--for the same filled all mouths now, and penetrated to all
parts--he came to Chinon to see with his own eyes what manner of
creature she might be. The King sent for Joan and introduced her to
the Duke. She said, in her simple fashion:
"You are welcome; the more of the blood of France that is joined
to this cause, the better for the cause and it."
Then the two talked together, and there was just the usual result:
when they departed, the Duke was her friend and advocate.
Joan attended the King's mass the next day, and afterward dined
with the King and the Duke. The King was learning to prize her
company and value her conversation; and that might well be, for, like
other kings, he was used to getting nothing out of people's talk but
guarded phrases, colorless and non-committal, or carefully tinted to
tally with the color of what he said himself; and so this kind of
conversation only vexes and bores, and is wearisome; but Joan's talk
was fresh and free, sincere and honest, and unmarred by timorous
self-watching and constraint. She said the very thing that was in her
mind, and said it in a plain, straightforward way. One can believe
that to the King this must have been like fresh cold water from the
mountains to parched lips used to the water of the sun-baked puddles
of the plain.
After dinner Joan so charmed the Duke with her horsemanship and
lance practice in the meadows by the Castle of Chinon whither the
King also had come to look on, that he made her a present of a great
Every day the commission of bishops came and questioned Joan about
her Voices and her mission, and then went to the King with their
report. These pryings accomplished but little. She told as much as she
considered advisable, and kept the rest to herself. Both threats and
trickeries were wasted upon her. She did not care for the threats, and
the traps caught nothing. She was perfectly frank and childlike about
these things. She knew the bishops were sent by the King, that their
questions were the King's questions, and that by all law and custom a
King's questions must be answered; yet she told the King in her na‹ve
way at his own table one day that she answered only such of those
questions as suited her.
The bishops finally concluded that they couldn't tell whether Joan
was sent by God or not. They were cautious, you see. There were two
powerful parties at Court; therefore to make a decision either way
would infallibly embroil them with one of those parties; so it seemed
to them wisest to roost on the fence and shift the burden to other
shoulders. And that is what they did. They made final report that
Joan's case was beyond their powers, and recommended that it be put
into the hands of the learned and illustrious doctors of the
University of Poitiers. Then they retired from the field, leaving
behind them this little item of testimony, wrung from them by Joan's
wise reticence: they said she was a "gentle and simple little
shepherdess, very candid, but not given to talking."
It was quite true--in their case. But if they could have looked
back and seen her with us in the happy pastures of Domremy, they
would have perceived that she had a tongue that could go fast enough
when no harm could come of her words.
So we traveled to Poitiers, to endure there three weeks of tedious
delay while this poor child was being daily questioned and badgered
before a great bench of--what? Military experts?--since what she had
come to apply for was an army and the privilege of leading it to
battle against the enemies of France. Oh no; it was a great bench of
priests and monks--profoundly leaned and astute casuists--renowned
professors of theology! Instead of setting a military commission to
find out if this valorous little soldier could win victories, they set
a company of holy hair-splitters and phrase-mongers to work to find
out if the soldier was sound in her piety and had no doctrinal leaks.
The rats were devouring the house, but instead of examining the cat's
teeth and claws, they only concerned themselves to find out if it was
a holy cat. If it was a pious cat, a moral cat, all right, never mind
about the other capacities, they were of no consequence.
Joan was as sweetly self-possessed and tranquil before this grim
tribunal, with its robed celebrities, its solemn state and imposing
ceremonials, as if she were but a spectator and not herself on trial.
She sat there, solitary on her bench, untroubled, and disconcerted
the science of the sages with her sublime ignorance--an ignorance
which was a fortress; arts, wiles, the learning drawn from books, and
all like missiles rebounded from its unconscious masonry and fell to
the ground harmless; they could not dislodge the garrison which was
within--Joan's serene great heart and spirit, the guards and keepers
of her mission.
She answered all questions frankly, and she told all the story of
her visions and of her experiences with the angels and what they said
to her; and the manner of the telling was so unaffected, and so
earnest and sincere, and made it all seem so lifelike and real, that
even that hard practical court forgot itself and sat motionless and
mute, listening with a charmed and wondering interest to the end. And
if you would have other testimony than mine, look in the histories and
you will find where an eyewitness, giving sworn testimony in the
Rehabilitation process, says that she told that tale "with a noble
dignity and simplicity," and as to its effect, says in substance what
I have said. Seventeen, she was--seventeen, and all alone on her bench
by herself; yet was not afraid, but faced that great company of
erudite doctor4s of law ant theology, and by the help of no art
learned in the schools, but using only the enchantments which were
hers by nature, of youth, sincerity, a voice soft and musical, and an
eloquence whose source was the heart, not the head, she laid that
spell upon them. Now was not that a beautiful thing to see? If I
could, I would put it before you just as I saw it; then I know what
you would say.
As I have told you, she could not read. "One day they harried and
pestered her with arguments, reasonings, objections, and other windy
and wordy trivialities, gathered out of the works of this and that and
the other great theological authority, until at last her patience
vanished, and she turned upon them sharply and said:
"I don't know A from B; but I know this: that I am come by command
of the Lord of Heaven to deliver Orleans from the English power and
crown the King of Rheims, and the matters ye are puttering over are of
Necessarily those were trying days for her, and wearing for
everybody that took part; but her share was the hardest, for she had
no holidays, but must be always on hand and stay the long hours
through, whereas this, that, and the other inquisitor could absent
himself and rest up from his fatigues when he got worn out. And yet
she showed no wear, no weariness, and but seldom let fly her temper.
As a rule she put her day through calm, alert, patient, fencing with
those veteran masters of scholarly sword-play and coming out always
without a scratch.
One day a Dominican sprung upon her a question which made
everybody cock up his ears with interest; as for me, I trembled, and
said to myself she is done this time, poor Joan, for there is no way
of answering this. The sly Dominican began in this way--in a sort of
indolent fashion, as if the thing he was about was a matter of no
"You assert that God has willed to deliver France from this English
"Yes, He has willed it."
"You wish for men-at-arms, so that you may go to the relief of
Orleans, I believe?"
"Yes--and the sooner the better."
"God is all-powerful, and able to do whatsoever thing He wills to
do, is it not so?"
"Most surely. None doubts it."
The Dominican lifted his head suddenly, and sprung that question I
have spoken of, with exultation:
"Then answer me this. If He has willed to deliver France, and is
able to do whatsoever He wills, where is the need for men-at-arms?"
There was a fine stir and commotion when he said that, and a
sudden thrusting forward of heads and putting up of hands to ears to
catch the answer; and the Dominican wagged his head with satisfaction,
and looked about him collecting his applause, for it shone in every
face. But Joan was not disturbed. There was no note of disquiet in her
voice when she answered:
"He helps who help themselves. The sons of France will fight the
battles, but He will give the victory!"
You could see a light of admiration sweep the house from face to
face like a ray from the sun. Even the Dominican himself looked
pleased, to see his master-stroke so neatly parried, and I heard a
venerable bishop mutter, in the phrasing common to priest and people
in that robust time, "By God, the child has said true. He willed that
Goliath should be slain, and He sent a child like this to do it!"
Another day, when the inquisition had dragged along until
everybody looked drowsy and tired but Joan, Brother Seguin, professor
of theology at the University of Poitiers, who was a sour and
sarcastic man, fell to plying Joan with all sorts of nagging questions
in his bastard Limousin French--for he was from Limoges. Finally he
"How is it that you understand those angels? What language did
"In-deed! How pleasant to know that our language is so honored!
"Perfect, eh? Well, certainly you ought to know. It was even better
than your own, eh?"
"As to that, I--I believe I cannot say," said she, and was going
on, but stopped. Then she added, almost as if she were saying it to
herself, "Still, it was an improvement on yours!"
I knew there was a chuckle back of her eyes, for all their
innocence. Everybody shouted. Brother Seguin was nettled, and asked
"Do you believe in God?"
Joan answered with an irritating nonchalance:
"Oh, well, yes--better than you, it is likely."
Brother Seguin lost his patience, and heaped sarcasm after sarcasm
upon her, and finally burst out in angry earnest, exclaiming:
"Very well, I can tell you this, you whose believe in God is so
great: God has not willed that any shall believe in you without a
sign. Where is your sign?--show it!"
This roused Joan, and she was on her feet in a moment, and flung
out her retort with spirit:
"I have not come to Poitiers to show signs and do miracles. Send
me to Orleans and you shall have signs enough. Give me
men-at-arms--few or many--and let me go!"
The fire was leaping from her eyes--ah, the heroic little figure!
can't you see her? There was a great burst of acclamations, and she
sat down blushing, for it was not in her delicate nature to like
This speech and that episode about the French language scored two
points against Brother Seguin, while he scored nothing against Joan;
yet, sour man as he was, he was a manly man, and honest, as you can
see by the histories; for at the Rehabilitation he could have hidden
those unlucky incidents if he had chosen, but he didn't do it, but
spoke them right out in his evidence.
On one of the lat3er days of that three-weeks session the gowned
scholars and professors made one grand assault all along the line,
fairly overwhelming Joan with objections and arguments culled from
the writings of every ancient and illustrious authority of the Roman
Church. She was well-nigh smothered; but at last she shook herself
free and struck back, crying out:
"Listen! The Book of God is worth more than all these ye cite, and
I stand upon it. And I tell ye there are things in that Book that not
one among ye can read, with all your learning!"
From the first she was the guest, by invitation, of the dame De
Rabateau, wife of a councilor of the Parliament of Poitiers; and to
that house the great ladies of the city came nightly to see Joan and
talk with her; and not these only, but the old lawyers, councilors
and scholars of the Parliament and the University. And these grave
men, accustomed to weigh every strange and questionable thing, and
cautiously consider it, and turn it about this way and that and still
doubt it, came night after night, and night after night, falling ever
deeper and deeper under the influence of that mysterious something,
that spell, that elusive and unwordable fascination, which was the
supremest endowment of Joan of Arc, that winning and persuasive and
convincing something which high and low alike recognized and felt, but
which neither high nor low could explain or describe, and one by one
they all surrendered, saying, "This child is sent of God."
All day long Joan, in the great court and subject to its rigid
rules of procedure, was at a disadvantage; her judges had things their
own way; but at night she held court herself, and matters were
reversed, she presiding, with her tongue free and her same judges
there before her. There could not be but one result: all the
objections and hindrances they could build around her with their hard
labors of the day she would charm away at night. In the end, she
carried her judges with her in a mass, and got her great verdict
without a dissenting voice.
The court was a sight to see when the president of it read it from
his throne, for all the great people of the town were there who could
get admission and find room. First there were some solemn ceremonies,
proper and usual at such times; then, when there was silence again,
the reading followed, penetrating the deep hush so that every word was
heard in even the remotest parts of the house:
"It is found, and is hereby declared, that Joan of Arc, called the
Maid, is a good Christian and a good Catholic; that there is nothing
in her person or her words contrary to the faith; and that the King
may and ought to accept the succor she offers; for to repel it would
be to offend the Holy Spirit, and render him unworthy of the air of
The court rose, and then the storm of plaudits burst forth
unrebuked, dying down and bursting forth again and again, and I lost
sight of Joan, for she was swallowed up in a great tide of people who
rushed to congratulate her and pour out benedictions upon her and upon
the cause of France, now solemnly and irrevocably delivered into her
Chapter 9 She Is Made General-in-Chief
IT WAS indeed a great day, and a stirring thing to see.
She had won! It was a mistake of Tremouille and her other
ill-wishers to let her hold court those nights.
The commission of priests sent to Lorraine ostensibly to inquire
into Joan's character--in fact to weary her with delays and wear out
her purpose and make her give it up--arrived back and reported her
character perfect. Our affairs were in full career now, you see.
The verdict made a prodigious stir. Dead France woke suddenly to
life, wherever the great news traveled. Whereas before, the
spiritless and cowed people hung their heads and slunk away if one
mentioned war to them, now they came clamoring to be enlisted under
the banner of the Maid of Vaucouleurs, and the roaring of war-songs
and the thundering of the drums filled all the air. I remembered now
what she had said, that time there in our village when I proved by
facts and statistics that France's case was hopeless, and nothing
could ever rouse the people from their lethargy:
"They will hear the drums--and they will answer, they will march!"
It has been said that misfortunes never come one at a time, but in
a body. In our case it was the same with good luck. Having got a
start, it came flooding in, tide after tide. Our next wave of it was
of this sort. There had been grave doubts among the priests as to
whether the Church ought to permit a female soldier to dress like a
man. But now came a verdict on that head. Two of the greatest
scholars and theologians of the time--one of whom had been Chancellor
of the University of Paris--rendered it. They decided that since Joan
"must do the work of a man and a soldier, it is just and legitimate
that her apparel should conform to the situation."
It was a great point gained, the Church's authority to dress as a
man. Oh, yes, wave on wave the good luck came sweeping in. Never mind
about the smaller waves, let us come to the largest one of all, the
wave that swept us small fry quite off our feet and almost drowned us
with joy. The day of the great verdict, couriers had been despatched
to the King with it, and the next morning bright and early the clear
notes of a bugle came floating to us on the crisp air, and we pricked
up our ears and began to count them. One--two--three; pause; one--two;
pause; one--two--three, again--and out we skipped and went flying; for
that formula was used only when the King's herald-at-arms would
deliver a proclamation to the people. As we hurried along, people came
racing out of every street and house and alley, men, women, and
children, all flushed, excited, and throwing lacking articles of
clothing on as they ran; still those clear notes pealed out, and still
the rush of people increased till the whole town was abroad and
streaming along the principal street. At last we reached the square,
which was now packed with citizens, and there, high on the pedestal
of the great cross, we saw the herald in his brilliant costume, with
his servitors about him. The next moment he began his delivery in the
powerful voice proper to his office:
"Know all men, and take heed therefore, that the most high, the
most illustrious Charles, by the grace of God King of France, hath
been pleased to confer upon his well-beloved servant Joan of Arc,
called the Maid, the title, emoluments, authorities, and dignity of
General-in-Chief of the Armies of France--"
Here a thousand caps flew in the air, and the multitude burst into
a hurricane of cheers that raged and raged till it seemed as if it
would never come to an end; but at last it did; then the herald went
on and finished:
--"and hath appointed to be her lieutenant and chief of staff a
prince of his royal house, his grace the Duke of Alenon!"
That was the end, and the hurricane began again, and was split up
into innumerable strips by the blowers of it and wafted through all
the lanes and streets of the town.
General of the Armies of France, with a prince of the blood for
subordinate! Yesterday she was nothing--to-day she was this.
Yesterday she was not even a sergeant, not even a corporal, not even
a private--to-day, with one step, she was at the top. Yesterday she
was less than nobody to the newest recruit--to-day her command was law
to La Hire, Saintrailles, the Bastard of Orleans, and all those
others, veterans of old renown, illustrious masters of the trade of
war. These were the thoughts I was thinking; I was trying to realize
this strange and wonderful thing that had happened, you see.
My mind went travelling back, and presently lighted upon a
picture--a picture which was still so new and fresh in my memory that
it seemed a matter of only yesterday--and indeed its date was no
further back than the first days of January. This is what it was. A
peasant-girl in a far-off village, her seventeenth year not yet quite
completed, and herself and her village as unknown as if they had been
on the other side of the globe. She had picked up a friendless
wanderer somewhere and brought it home--a small gray kitten in a
forlorn and starving condition--and had fed it and comforted it and
got its confidence and made it believe in her, and now it was curled
up in her lap asleep, and she was knitting a coarse stocking and
thinking--dreaming--about what, one may never know. And now--the
kitten had hardly had time to become a cat, and yet already the girl
is General of the Armies of France, with a prince of the blood to give
orders to, and out of her village obscurity her name has climbed up
like the sun and is visible from all corners of the land! It made me
dizzy to think of these things, they were so out of the common order,
and seemed so impossible.
Chapter 10 The Maid's Sword and Banner
JOAN'S first official act was to dictate a letter to the English
commanders at Orleans, summoning them to deliver up all strongholds
in their possession and depart out of France. She must have been
thinking it all out before and arranging it in her mind, it flowed
from her lips so smoothly, and framed itself into such vivacious and
forcible language. Still, it might not have been so; she always had a
quick mind and a capable tongue, and her faculties were constantly
developing in these latter weeks. This letter was to be forwarded
presently from Blois. Men, provisions, and money were offering in
plenty now, and Joan appointed Blois as a recruiting-station and depot
of supplies, and ordered up La Hire from the front to take charge.
The Great Bastard--him of the ducal house, and governor of
Orleans--had been clamoring for weeks for Joan to be sent to him, and
now came another messenger, old D'Aulon, a veteran officer, a trusty
man and fine and honest. The King kept him, and gave him to Joan to be
chief of her household, and commanded her to appoint the rest of her
people herself, making their number and dignity accord with the
greatness of her office; and at the same time he gave order that they
should be properly equipped with arms, clothing, and horses.
Meantime the King was having a complete suit of armor made for her
at Tours. It was of the finest steel, heavily plated with silver,
richly ornamented with engraved designs, and polished like a mirror.
Joan's Voices had told her that there was an ancient sword hidden
somewhere behind the altar of St. Catherine's at Fierbois, and she
sent De Metz to get it. The priests knew of no such sword, but a
search was made, and sure enough it was found in that place, buried a
little way under the ground. It had no sheath and was very rusty, but
the priests polished it up and sent it to Tours, whither we were now
to come. They also had a sheath of crimson velvet made for it, and the
people of Tours equipped it with another, made of cloth-of-gold. But
Joan meant to carry this sword always in battle; so she laid the showy
sheaths away and got one made of leather. It was generally believed
that his sword had belonged to Charlemagne, but that was only a matter
of opinion. I wanted to sharpen that old blade, but she said it was
not necessary, as she should never kill anybody, and should carry it
only as a symbol of authority.
At Tours she designed her Standard, and a Scotch painter named
James Power made it. It was of the most delicate white boucassin,
with fringes of silk. For device it bore the image of God the Father
throned in the clouds and holding the world in His hand; two angels
knelt at His feet, presenting lilies; inscription, JESUS, MARIA; on
the reverse the crown of France supported by two angels.
She also caused a smaller standard or pennon to be made, whereon
was represented an angel offering a lily to the Holy Virgin.
Everything was humming there at Tours. Every now and then one
heard the bray and crash of military music, every little while one
heard the measured tramp of marching men--squads of recruits leaving
for Blois; songs and shoutings and huzzas filled the air night and
day, the town was full of strangers, the streets and inns were
thronged, the bustle of preparation was everywhere, and everybody
carried a glad and cheerful face. Around Joan's headquarters a crowd
of people was always massed, hoping for a glimpse of the new General,
and when they got it, they went wild; but they seldom got it, for she
was busy planning her campaign, receiving reports, giving orders,
despatching couriers, and giving what odd moments she could spare to
the companies of great folk waiting in the drawing-rooms. As for us
boys, we hardly saw her at all, she was so occupied.
We were in a mixed state of mind--sometimes hopeful, sometimes
not; mostly not. She had not appointed her household yet--that was
our trouble. We knew she was being overrun with applications for
places in it, and that these applications were backed by great names
and weighty influence, whereas we had nothing of the sort to recommend
us. She could fill her humblest places with titled folk--folk whose
relationships would be a bulwark for her and a valuable support at all
times. In these circumstances would policy allow her to consider us?
We were not as cheerful as the rest of the town, but were inclined to
be depressed and worried. Sometimes we discussed our slim chances and
gave them as good an appearance as we could. But the very mention of
the subject was anguish to the Paladin; for whereas we had some little
hope, he had none at all. As a rule Noael Rainguesson was quite wiLa
Hireing to let the dismal matter alone; but not when the Paladin was
present. Once we were talking the thing over, when Noael said:
"Cheer up, Paladin, I had a dream last night, and you were the only
one among us that got an appointment. It wasn't a high one, but it
was an appointment, anyway--some kind of a lackey or body-servant, or
something of that kind."
The Paladin roused up and looked almost cheerful; for he was a
believer in dreams, and in anything and everything of a superstitious
sort, in fact. He said, with a rising hopefulness:
"I wish it might come true. Do you think it will come true?"
"Certainly; I might almost say I know it will, for my dreams hardly
"Noael, I could hug you if that dream could come true, I could,
indeed! To be servant of the first General of France and have all the
world hear of it, and the news go back to the village and make those
gawks stare that always said I wouldn't ever amount to
anything--wouldn't it be great! Do you think it will come true, Noael?
Don't you believe it will?"
"I do. There's my hand on it."
"Noael, if it comes true I'll never forget you--shake again! I
should be dressed in a noble livery, and the news would go to the
village, and those animals would say, 'Him, lackey to the
General-in-Chief, with the eyes of the whole world on him,
admiring--well, he has shot up into the sky now, hasn't he!"
He began to walk the floor and pile castles in the air so fast and
so high that we could hardly keep up with him. Then all of a sudden
all the joy went out of his face and misery took its place, and he
"Oh, dear, it is all a mistake, it will never come true. I forgot
that foolish business at Toul. I have kept out of her sight as much as
I could, all these weeks, hoping she would forget that and forgive
it--but I know she never will. She can't, of course. And, after all, I
wasn't to blame. I did say she promised to marry me, but they put me
up to it and persuaded me. I swear they did!" The vast creature was
almost crying. Then he pulled himself together and said, remorsefully,
"It was the only lie I've ever told, and--"
He was drowned out with a chorus of groans and outraged
exclamations; and before he could begin again, one of D'Aulon's
liveried servants appeared and said we were required at headquarters.
We rose, and Noael said:
"There--what did I tell you? I have a presentiment--the spirit of
prophecy is upon me. She is going to appoint him, and we are to go
there and do him homage. Come along!"
But the Paladin was afraid to go, so we left him.
When we presently stood in the presence, in front of a crowd of
glittering officers of the army, Joan greeted us with a winning
smile, and said she appointed all of us to places in her household,
for she wanted her old friends by her. It was a beautiful surprise to
have ourselves honored like this when she could have had people of
birth and consequence instead, but we couldn't find our tongues to say
so, she was become so great and so high above us now. One at a time we
stepped forward and each received his warrant from the hand of our
chief, D'Aulon. All of us had honorable places; the two knights stood
highest; then Joan's two brothers; I was first page and secretary, a
young gentleman named Raimond was second page; Noael was her messenger;
she had two heralds, and also a chaplain and almoner, whose name was
Jean Pasquerel. She had previously appointed a maŒtre d'h“tel and a
number of domestics. Now she looked around and said:
"But where is the Paladin?"
The Sieur Bertrand said:
"He thought he was not sent for, your Excellency."
"Now that is not well. Let him be called."
The Paladin entered humbly enough. He ventured no farther than
just within the door. He stopped there, looking embarrassed and
afraid. Then Joan spoke pleasantly, and said:
"I watched you on the road. You began badly, but improved. Of old
you were a fantastic talker, but there is a man in you, and I will
bring it out." It was fine to see the Paladin's face light up when she
said that. "Will you follow where I lead?"
"Into the fire!" he said; and I said to myself, "By the ring of
that, I think she has turned this braggart into a hero. It is another
of her miracles, I make no doubt of it."
"I believe you," said Joan. "Here--take my banner. You will ride
with me in every field, and when France is saved, you will give it me
He took the banner, which is now the most precious of the
memorials that remain of Joan of Arc, and his voice was unsteady with
emotion when he said:
"If I ever disgrace this trust, my comrades here will know how to
do a friend's office upon my body, and this charge I lay upon them,
as knowing they will not fail me."
Chapter 11 The War March Is Begun
NO L and I went back together--silent at first, and impressed.
Finally Noael came up out of his thinkings and said:
"The first shall be last and the last first--there's authority for
this surprise. But at the same time wasn't it a lofty hoist for our
"It truly was; I am not over being stunned yet. It was the greatest
place in her gift."
"Yes, it was. There are many generals, and she can create more;
but there is only one Standard-Bearer."
"True. It is the most conspicuous place in the army, after her
"And the most coveted and honorable. Sons of two dukes tried to
get it, as we know. And of all people in the world, this majestic
windmill carries it off. Well, isn't it a gigantic promotion, when
you come to look at it!"
"There's no doubt about it. It's a kind of copy of Joan's own in
"I don't know how to account for it--do you?"
"Yes--without any trouble at all--that is, I think I do."
Noael was surprised at that, and glanced up quickly, as if to see if
I was in earnest. He said:
"I thought you couldn't be in earnest, but I see you are. If you
can make me understand this puzzle, do it. Tell me what the
"I believe I can. You have noticed that our chief knight says a
good many wise things and has a thoughtful head on his shoulders. One
day, riding along, we were talking about Joan's great talents, and he
said, 'But, greatest of all her gifts, she has the seeing eye.' I said,
like an unthinking fool, 'The seeing eye?--I shouldn't count on that
for much--I suppose we all have it.' 'No,' he said; 'very few have
it.' Then he explained, and made his meaning clear. He said the
common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but
the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul,
finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or
promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn't detect. He said the
mightiest military genius must fail and come to nothing if it have not
the seeing eye--that is to say, if it cannot read men and select its
subordinates with an infallible judgment. It sees as by intuition that
this man is good for strategy, that one for dash and daredevil
assault, the other for patient bulldog persistence, and it appoints
each to his right place and wins, while the commander without the
seeing eye would give to each the other's place and lose. He was right
about Joan, and I saw it. When she was a child and the tramp came one
night, her father and all of us took him for a rascal, but she saw the
honest man through the rags. When I dined with the governor of
Vaucouleurs so long ago, I saw nothing in our two knights, though I
sat with them and talked with them two hours; Joan was there five
minutes, and neither spoke with them nor heard them speak, yet she
marked them for men of worth and fidelity, and they have confirmed her
judgment. Whom has she sent for to take charge of this thundering
rabble of new recruits at Blois, made up of old disbanded Armagnac
raiders, unspeakable hellions, every one? Why, she has sent for Satan
himself--that is to say, La Hire--that military hurricane, that
godless swashbuckler, that lurid conflagration of blasphemy, that
Vesuvius of profanity, forever in eruption. Does he know how to deal
with that mob of roaring devils? Better than any man that lives; for
he is the head devil of this world his own self, he is the match of
the whole of them combined, and probably the father of most of them.
She places him in temporary command until she can get to Blois
herself--and then! Why, then she will certainly take them in hand
personally, or I don't know her as well as I ought to, after all these
years of intimacy. That will be a sight to see--that fair spirit in
her white armor, delivering her will to that muck-heap, that rag-pile,
that abandoned refuse of perdition."
"La Hire!" cried Noael, "our hero of all these years--I do want to
see that man!"
"I too. His name stirs me just as it did when I was a little boy."
"I want to hear him swear."
"Of course, I would rather hear him swear than another man pray.
He is the frankest man there is, and the na‹vest. Once when he was
rebuked for pillaging on his raids, he said it was nothing. Said he,
'If God the Father were a soldier, He would rob.' I judge he is the
right man to take temporary charge there at Blois. Joan has cast the
seeing eye upon him, you see."
"Which brings us back to where we started. I have an honest
affection for the Paladin, and not merely because he is a good
fellow, but because he is my child--I made him what he is, the
windiest blusterer and most catholic liar in the kingdom. I'm glad of
his luck, but I hadn't the seeing eye. I shouldn't have chosen him for
the most dangerous post in the army. I should have placed him in the
rear to kill the wounded and violate the dead."
"Well, we shall see. Joan probably knows what is in him better
than we do. And I'll give you another idea. When a person in Joan of
Arc's position tells a man he is brave, he believes it; and believing
it is enough; in fact, to believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is
the one only essential thing."
"Now you've hit it!" cried Noael. "She's got the creating mouth as
well as the seeing eye! Ah, yes, that is the thing. France was cowed
and a coward; Joan of Arc has spoken, and France is marching, with
her head up!"
I was summoned now to write a letter from Joan's dictation. During
the next day and night our several uniforms were made by the tailors,
and our new armor provided. We were beautiful to look upon now,
whether clothed for peace or war. Clothed for peace, in costly stuffs
and rich colors, the Paladin was a tower dyed with the glories of the
sunset; plumed and sashed and iron-clad for war, he was a still
statelier thing to look at.
Orders had been issued for the march toward Blois. It was a clear,
sharp, beautiful morning. As our showy great company trotted out in
column, riding two and two, Joan and the Duke of Alenon in the lead,
D'Aulon and the big standard-bearer next, and so on, we made a
handsome spectacle, as you may well imagine; and as we plowed through
the cheering crowds, with Joan bowing her plumed head to left and
right and the sun glinting from her silver mail, the spectators
realized that the curtain was rolling up before their eyes upon the
first act of a prodigious drama, and their rising hopes were expressed
in an enthusiasm that increased with each moment, until at last one
seemed to even physically feel the concussion of the huzzas as well as
hear them. Far down the street we heard the softened strains of
wind-blown music, and saw a cloud of lancers moving, the sun glowing
with a subdued light upon the massed armor, but striking bright upon
the soaring lance-heads--a vaguely luminous nebula, so to speak, with
a constellation twinkling above it--and that was our guard of honor.
It joined us, the procession was complete, the first war-march of
Joan of Arc was begun, the curtain was up.
Chapter 12 Joan Puts Heart in Her Army
WE WERE at Blois three days. Oh, that camp, it is one of the
treasures of my memory! Order? There was no more order among those
brigands than there is among the wolves and the hyenas. They went
roaring and drinking about, whooping, shouting, swearing, and
entertaining themselves with all manner of rude and riotous
horse-play; and the place was full of loud and lewd women, and they
were no whit behind the men for romps and noise and fantastics.
It was in the midst of this wild mob that Noael and I had our first
glimpse of La Hire. He answered to our dearest dreams. He was of
great size and of martial bearing, he was cased in mail from head to
heel, with a bushel of swishing plumes on his helmet, and at his side
the vast sword of the time.
He was on his way to pay his respects in state to Joan, and as he
passed through the camp he was restoring order, and proclaiming that
the Maid had come, and he would have no such spectacle as this exposed
to the head of the army. His way of creating order was his own, not
borrowed. He did it with his great fists. As he moved along swearing
and admonishing, he let drive this way, that way, and the other, and
wherever his blow landed, a man went down.
"Damn you!" he said, "staggering and cursing around like this, and
the Commander-in-Chief in the camp! Straighten up!" and he laid the
man flat. What his idea of straightening up was, was his own secret.
We followed the veteran to headquarters, listening, observing,
admiring--yes, devouring, you may say, the pet hero of the boys of
France from our cradles up to that happy day, and their idol and
ours. I called to mind how Joan had once rebuked the Paladin, there
in the pastures of Domremy, for uttering lightly those mighty names,
La Hire and the Bastard of Orleans, and how she said that if she could
but be permitted to stand afar off and let her eyes rest once upon
those great men, she would hold it a privilege. They were to her and
the other girls just what they were to the boys. Well, here was one of
them at last--and what was his errand? It was hard to realize it, and
yet it was true; he was coming to uncover his head before her and take
While he was quieting a considerable group of his brigands in his
soothing way, near headquarters, we stepped on ahead and got a
glimpse of Joan's military family, the great chiefs of the army, for
they had all arrived now. There they were, six officers of wide
renown, handsome men in beautiful armor, but the Lord High Admiral of
France was the handsomest of them all and had the most gallant
When La Hire entered, one could see the surprise in his face at
Joan's beauty and extreme youth, and one could see, too, by Joan's
glad smile, that it made her happy to get sight of this hero of her
childhood at last. La Hire bowed low, with his helmet in his
gauntleted hand, and made a bluff but handsome little speech with
hardly an oath in it, and one could see that those two took to each
other on the spot.
The visit of ceremony was soon over, and the others went away; but
La Hire stayed, and he and Joan sat there, and he sipped her wine, and
they talked and laughed together like old friends. And presently she
gave him some instructions, in his quality as master of the camp,
which made his breath stand still. For, to begin with, she said that
all those loose women must pack out of the place at once, she wouldn't
allow one of them to remain. Next, the rough carousing must stop,
drinking must be brought within proper and strictly defined limits,
and discipline must take the place of disorder. And finally she
cloiimaxed the list of surprises with this--which nearly lifted him
out of his armor:
"Every man who joins my standard must confess before the priest
and absolve himself from sin; and all accepted recruits must be
present at divine service twice a day."
La Hire could not say a word for a good part of a minute, then he
said, in deep dejection:
"Oh, sweet child, they were littered in hell, these poor darlings
of mine! Attend mass? Why, dear heart, they'll see us both damned
And he went on, pouring out a most pathetic stream of arguments
and blasphemy, which broke Joan all up, and made her laugh as she had
not laughed since she played in the Domremy pastures. It was good to
But she stuck to her point; so the soldier yielded, and said all
right, if such were the orders he must obey, and would do the best
that was in him; then he refreshed himself with a lurid explosion of
oaths, and said that if any man in the camp refused to renounce sin
and lead a pious life, he would knock his head off. That started Joan
off again; she was really having a good time, you see. But she would
not consent to that form of conversions. She said they must be
La Hire said that that was all right, he wasn't going to kill the
voluntary ones, but only the others.
No matter, none of them must be killed--Joan couldn't have it. She
said that to give a man a chance to volunteer, on pain of death if he
didn't, left him more or less trammeled, and she wanted him to be
So the soldier sighed and said he would advertise the mass, but
said he doubted if there was a man in camp that was any more likely
to go to it than he was himself. Then there was another surprise for
him, for Joan said:
"But, dear man, you are going!"
"I? Impossible! Oh, this is lunacy!"
"Oh, no, it isn't. You are going to the service--twice a day."
"Oh, am I dreaming? Am I drunk--or is my hearing playing me false?
Why, I would rather go to--"
"Never mind where. In the morning you are going to begin, and
after that it will come easy. Now don't look downhearted like that.
Soon you won't mind it."
La Hire tried to cheer up, but he was not able to do it. He sighed
like a zephyr, and presently said:
"Well, I'll do it for you, but before I would do it for another, I
"But don't swear. Break it off."
"Break it off? It is impossible! I beg you to--to-- Why--oh, my
General, it is my native speech!"
He begged so hard for grace for his impediment, that Joan left him
one fragment of it; she said he might swear by his bƒton, the symbol
of his generalship.
He promised that he would swear only by his bƒton when in her
presence, and would try to modify himself elsewhere, but doubted he
could manage it, now that it was so old and stubborn a habit, and such
a solace and support to his declining years.
That tough old lion went away from there a good deal tamed and
civilized--not to say softened and sweetened, for perhaps those
expressions would hardly fit him. Noael and I believed that when he
was away from Joan's influence his old aversions would come up so
strong in him that he could not master them, and so wouldn't go to
mass. But we got up early in the morning to see.
Satan was converted, you see. Well, the rest followed. Joan rode
up and down that camp, and wherever that fair young form appeared in
its shining armor, with that sweet face to grace the vision and
perfect it, the rude host seemed to think they saw the god of war in
person, descended out of the clouds; and first they wondered, then
they worshiped. After that, she could do with them what she would.
In three days it was a clean camp and orderly, and those barbarians
were herding to divine service twice a day like good children. The
women were gone. La Hire was stunned by these marvels; he could not
understand them. He went outside the camp when he wanted to swear. He
was that sort of a man--sinful by nature and habit, but full of
superstitious respect for holy places.
The enthusiasm of the reformed army for Joan, its devotion to her,
and the hot desire had aroused in it to be led against the enemy,
exceeded any manifestations of this sort which La Hire had ever seen
before in his long career. His admiration of it all, and his wonder
over the mystery and miracle of it, were beyond his power to put into
words. He had held this army cheap before, but his pride and
confidence in it knew no limits now. He said:
"Two or three days ago it was afraid of a hen-roost; one could
storm the gates of hell with it now."
Joan and he were inseparable, and a quaint and pleasant contrast
they made. He was so big, she so little; he was so gray and so far
along in his pilgrimage of life, she so youthful; his face was so
bronzed and scarred, hers so fair and pink, so fresh and smooth; she
was so gracious, and he so stern; she was so pure, so innocent, he
such a cyclopedia of sin. In her eye was stored all charity and
compassion, in his lightnings; when her glance fell upon you it
seemed to bring benediction and the peace of God, but with his it was
They rode through the camp a dozen times a day, visiting every
corner of it, observing, inspecting, perfecting; and wherever they
appeared the enthusiasm broke forth. They rode side by side, he a
great figure of brawn and muscle, she a little masterwork of
roundness and grace; he a fortress of rusty iron, she a shining
statuette of silver; and when the reformed raiders and bandits caught
sight of them they spoke out, with affection and welcome in their
voices, and said:
"There they come--Satan and the Page of Christ!"
All the three days that we were in Blois, Joan worked earnestly
and tirelessly to bring La Hire to God--to rescue him from the
bondage of sin--to breathe into his stormy hear the serenity and
peace of religion. She urged, she begged, she implored him to pray.
He stood out, three days of our stay, begging about piteously to be
let off--to be let off from just that one thing, that impossible
thing; he would do anything else--anything--command, and he would
obey--he would go through the fire for her if she said the word--but
spare him this, only this, for he couldn't pray, had never prayed, he
was ignorant of how to frame a prayer, he had no words to put it in.
And yet--can any believe it?--she carried even that point, she won
that incredible victory. She made La Hire pray. It shows, I think,
that nothing was impossible to Joan of Arc. Yes, he stood there
before her and put up his mailed hands and made a prayer. And it was
not borrowed, but was his very own; he had none to help him frame it,
he made it out of his own head--saying:
"Fair Sir God, I pray you to do by La Hire as he would do by you if
you were La Hire and he were God."  Then he put on his helmet and
marched out of Joan's tent as satisfied with himself as any one might
be who had arranged a perplexed and difficult business to the content
and admiration of all the parties concerned in the matter.
If I had know that he had been praying, I could have understood
why he was feeling so superior, but of course I could not know that.
I was coming to the tent at that moment, and saw him come out, and
saw him march away in that large fashion, and indeed it was fine and
beautiful to see. But when I got to the tent door I stopped and
stepped back, grieved and shocked, for I heard Joan crying, as I
mistakenly thought--crying as if she could not contain nor endure the
anguish of her soul, crying as if she would die. But it was not so,
she was laughing--laughing at La Hire's prayer.
It was not until six-and-thirty years afterward that I found that
out, and then--oh, then I only cried when that picture of young
care-free mirth rose before me out of the blur and mists of that
long-vanished time; for there had come a day between, when God's good
gift of laughter had gone out from me to come again no more in this
 This prayer has been stolen many times and by many nations in
the past four hundred and sixty years, but it originated with La
Hire, and the fact is of official record in the National Archives of
France. We have the authority of Michelet for this. -- TRANSLATOR
Chapter 13 Checked by the Folly of the Wise
WE MARCHED out in great strength and splendor, and took the road
toward Orleans. The initial part of Joan's great dream was realizing
itself at last. It was the first time that any of us youngsters had
ever seen an army, and it was a most stately and imposing spectacle to
us. It was indeed an inspiring sight, that interminable column,
stretching away into the fading distances, and curving itself in and
out of the crookedness of the road like a mighty serpent. Joan rode at
the head of it with her personal staff; then came a body of priests
singing the Veni Creator, the banner of the Cross rising out of their
midst; after these the glinting forest of spears. The several
divisions were commanded by the great Armagnac generals, La Hire, and
Marshal de Boussac, the Sire de Retz, Florent d'Illiers, and Poton de
Each in his degree was tough, and there were three degrees--tough,
tougher, toughest--and La Hire was the last by a shade, but only a
shade. They were just illustrious official brigands, the whole party;
and by long habits of lawlessness they had lost all acquaintanceship
with obedience, if they had ever had any.
But what was the good of saying that? These independent birds knew
no law. They seldom obeyed the King; they never obeyed him when it
didn't suit them to do it. Would they obey the Maid? In the first
place they wouldn't know how to obey her or anybody else, and in the
second place it was of course not possible for them to take her
military character seriously--that country-girl of seventeen who had
been trained for the complex and terrible business of war--how? By
They had no idea of obeying her except in cases where their
veteran military knowledge and experience showed them that the thing
she required was sound and right when gauged by the regular military
standards. Were they to blame for this attitude? I should think not.
Old war-worn captains are hard-headed, practical men. They do not
easily believe in the ability of ignorant children to plan campaigns
and command armies. No general that ever lived could have taken Joan
seriously (militarily) before she raised the siege of Orleans and
followed it with the great campaign of the Loire.
Did they consider Joan valueless? Far from it. They valued her as
the fruitful earth values the sun--they fully believed she could
produce the crop, but that it was in their line of business, not hers,
to take it off. They had a deep and superstitious reverence for her
as being endowed with a mysterious supernatural something that was
able to do a mighty thing which they were powerless to do--blow the
breath of life and valor into the dead corpses of cowed armies and
turn them into heroes.
To their minds they were everything with her, but nothing without
her. She could inspire the soldiers and fit them for battle--but fight
the battle herself? Oh, nonsense--that was their function. They, the
generals, would fight the battles, Joan would give the victory. That
was their idea--an unconscious paraphrase of Joan's reply to the
So they began by playing a deception upon her. She had a clear
idea of how she meant to proceed. It was her purpose to march boldly
upon Orleans by the north bank of the Loire. She gave that order to
her generals. They said to themselves, "The idea is insane--it is
blunder No. 1; it is what might have been expected of this child who
is ignorant of war." They privately sent the word to the Bastard of
Orleans. He also recognized the insanity of it--at least he though he
did--and privately advised the generals to get around the order in
They did it by deceiving Joan. She trusted those people, she was
not expecting this sort of treatment, and was not on the lookout for
it. It was a lesson to her; she saw to it that the game was not played
a second time.
Why was Joan's idea insane, from the generals' point of view, but
not from hers? Because her plan was to raise the siege immediately,
by fighting, while theirs was to besiege the besiegers and starve them
out by closing their communications--a plan which would require months
in the consummation.
The English had built a fence of strong fortresses called bastilles
around Orleans--fortresses which closed all the gates of the city but
one. To the French generals the idea of trying to fight their way past
those fortresses and lead the army into Orleans was preposterous; they
believed that the result would be the army's destruction. One may not
doubt that their opinion was militarily sound--no, would have been,
but for one circumstance which they overlooked. That was this: the
English soldiers were in a demoralized condition of superstitious
terror; they had become satisfied that the Maid was in league with
Satan. By reason of this a good deal of their courage had oozed out
and vanished. On the other hand, the Maid'' soldiers were full of
courage, enthusiasm, and zeal.
Joan could have marched by the English forts. However, it was not
to be. She had been cheated out of her first chance to strike a heavy
blow for her country.
In camp that night she slept in her armor on the ground. It was a
cold night, and she was nearly as stiff as her armor itself when we
resumed the march in the morning, for iron is not good material for a
blanket. However, her joy in being now so far on her way to the
theater of her mission was fire enough to warm her, and it soon did
Her enthusiasm and impatience rose higher and higher with every
mile of progress; but at last we reached Olivet, and down it went,
and indignation took its place. For she saw the trick that had been
played upon her--the river lay between us and Orleans.
She was for attacking one of the three bastilles that were on our
side of the river and forcing access to the bridge which it guarded
(a project which, if successful, would raise the siege instantly), but
the long-ingrained fear of the English came upon her generals and
they implored her not to make the attempt. The soldiers wanted to
attack, but had to suffer disappointment. So we moved on and came to
a halt at a point opposite Checy, six miles above Orleans.
Dunois, Bastard of Orleans, with a body of knights and citizens,
came up from the city to welcome Joan. Joan was still burning with
resentment over the trick that had been put upon her, and was not in
the mood for soft speeches, even to reversed military idols of her
childhood. She said:
"Are you the bbb?"
"Yes, I am he, and am right glad of your coming."
"And did you advise that I be brought by this side of the river
instgead of straight to Talbot and the English?"
Her high manner abashed him, and he was not able to answer with
anything like a confident promptness, but with many hesitations and
partial excuses he managed to get out the confession that for what he
and the council had regarded as imperative military reasons they so
"In God's name," said Joan, "my Lord's counsel is safer and wiser
than yours. You thought to deceive me, but you have deceived
yourselves, for I bring you the bst help that ever knight or city had;
for it is God's help, not sent for love of me, but by God's pleasure.
At the prayer of St. Louis and St. Charlemagne He has had pity on
Orleans, and will not suffer the enemy to have both the Duke of
Orleans and his city. The provisions to save the starving people are
here, the boats are below the city, the wind is contrary, they cannot
come up hither. Now then, tell me, in God's name, you who are so
wise, what that council of yours was thinking about, to invent this
Dunois and the rest fumbled around the matter a moment, then gave
in and conceded that a blunder had been made.
"Yes, a blunder has been made," said Joan, "and except God take
your proper work upon Himself and change the wind and correct your
blunder for you, there is none else that can devise a remedy."
Some of these people began to perceive that with all her technical
ignorance she had practical good sense, and that with all her native
sweetness and charm she was not the right kind of a person to play
Presently God did take the blunder in hand, and by His grace the
wind did change. So the fleet of boats came up and went away loaded
with provisions and cattle, and conveyed that welcome succor to the
hungry city, managing the matter successfully under protection of a
sortie from the walls against the bastille of St. Loup. Then Joan
began on the Bastard again:
"You see here the army?"
"It is here on this side by advice of your council?"
"Now, in God's name, can that wise council explain why it is better
to have it here than it would be to have it in the bottom of the
Dunois made some wandering attempts to explain the inexplicable
and excuse the inexcusable, but Joan cut him short and said:
"Answer me this, good sir--has the army any value on this side of
The Bastard confessed that it hadn't--that is, in view of the plan
of campaign which she had devised and decreed.
"And yet, knowing this, you had the hardihood to disobey my
orders. Since the army's place is on the other side, will you explain
to me how it is to get there?"
The whole size of the needless muddle was apparent. Evasions were
of no use; therefore Dunois admitted that there was no way to correct
the blunder but to send the army all the way back to Blois, and let it
begin over again and come up on the other side this time, according to
Joan's original plan.
Any other girl, after winning such a triumph as this over a veteran
soldier of old renown, might have exulted a little and been excusable
for it, but Joan showed no disposition of this sort. She dropped a
word or two of grief over the precious time that must be lost, then
began at once to issue commands for the march back. She sorrowed to
see her army go; for she said its heart was great and its enthusiasm
high, and that with it at her back she did not fear to face all the
might of England.
All arrangements having been completed for the return of the main
body of the army, she took the Bastard and La Hire and a thousand men
and went down to Orleans, where all the town was in a fever of
impatience to have sight of her face. It was eight in the evening when
she and the troops rode in at the Burgundy gate, with the Paladin
preceding her with her standard. She was riding a white horse, and she
carried in her hand the sacred sword of Fierbois. You should have seen
Orleans then. What a picture it was! Such black seas of people, such a
starry firmament of torches, such roaring whirlwinds of welcome, such
booming of bells and thundering of cannon! It was as if the world was
come to an end. Everywhere in the glare of the torches one saw rank
upon rank of upturned white faces, the mouths wide open, shouting, and
the unchecked tears running down; Joan forged her slow way through
the solid masses, her mailed form projecting above the pavement of
heads like a silver statue. The people about her struggled along,
gazing up at her through their tears with the rapt look of men and
women who believe they are seeing one who is divine; and always her
feet were being kissed by grateful folk, and such as failed of that
privilege touched her horse and then kissed their fingers.
Nothing that Joan did escaped notice; everything she did was
commented upon and applauded. You could hear the remarks going all
"Now she's taking her little plumed cap off to somebody--ah, it's
fine and graceful!"
"She's patting that woman on the head with her gauntlet."
"Oh, she was born on a horse--see her turn in her saddle, and kiss
the hilt of her sword to the ladies in the window that threw the
"Now there's a poor woman lifting up a child--she's kissed it--oh,
"What a dainty little figure it is, and what a lovely face--and
such color and animation!"
Joan's slender long banner streaming backward had an accident--the
fringe caught fire from a torch. She leaned forward and crushed the
flame in her hand.
"She's not afraid of fire nor anything!" they shouted, and
delivered a storm of admiring applause that made everything quake.
She rode to the cathedral and gave thanks to God, and the people
crammed the place and added their devotions to hers; then she took up
her march again and picked her slow way through the crowds and the
wilderness of torches to the house of Jacques Boucher, treasurer of
the Duke of Orleans, where she was to be the guest of his wife as long
as she stayed in the city, and have his young daughter for comrade and
room-mate. The delirium of the people went on the rest of the night,
and with it the clamor of the joy-bells and the welcoming cannon.
Joan of Arc had stepped upon her stage at last, and was ready to
Chapter 14 What the English Answered
SHE WAS ready, but must sit down and wait until there was an army
to work with.
Next morning, Saturday, April 30, 1429, she set about inquiring
after the messenger who carried her proclamation to the English from
Blois--the one which she had dictated at Poitiers. Here is a copy of
it. It is a remarkable document, for several reasons: for its
matter-of-fact directness, for its high spirit and forcible diction,
and for its na‹ve confidence in her ability to achieve the prodigious
task which she had laid upon herself, or which had been laid upon
her--which you please. All through it you seem to see the pomps of
war and hear the rumbling of the drums. In it Joan's warrior soul is
revealed, and for the moment the soft little shepherdess has
disappeared from your view. This untaught country-damsel, unused to
dictating anything at all to anybody, much less documents of state to
kings and generals, poured out this procession of vigorous sentences
as fluently as if this sort of work had been her trade from childhood:
JESUS MARIA King of England and you Duke of Bedford who call
yourself Regent of France; William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk; and
you Thomas Lord Scales, who style yourselves lieutenants of the said
Bedford--do right to the King of Heaven. Render to the Maid who is
sent by God the keys of all the good towns you have taken and violated
in France. She is sent hither by God, to restore the blood royal. She
is very ready to make peace if you will do her right by giving up
France and paying for what you have held. And you archers, companions
of war, noble and otherwise, who are before the good city of Orleans,
begone into your own land in God's name, or expect news from the Maid
who will shortly go to see you to your very great hurt. King of
England, if you do not so, I am chief of war, and whenever I shall
find your people in France, I will drive them out, willing or not
willing; and if they do not obey I will slay them all, but if they
obey, I will have them to mercy. I am come hither by God, the King of
Heaven, body for body, to put you our of France, in spite of those who
would work treason and mischief against the kingdom. Think not you
shall ever hold the kingdom from the King of Heaven, the Son of the
Blessed Mary; King Charles shall hold it, for God wills it so, and has
revealed it to him by the Maid. If you believe not the news sent by
God through the Maid, wherever we shall met you we will strike boldly
and make such a noise as has not been in France these thousand years.
Be sure that God can send more strength to the Maid than you can bring
to any assault against her and her good men-at-arms; and then we shall
see who has the better right, the King of Heaven, or you. Duke of
Bedford, the Maid prays you not to bring about your own destruction.
If you do her right, you may yet go in her company where the French
shall do the finest deed that has been done in Christendom, and if you
do not, you shall be reminded shortly of your great wrongs.
In that closing sentence she invites them to go on crusade with her
to rescue the Holy Sepulcher. No answer had been returned to this
proclamation, and the messenger himself had not come back.
So now she sent her two heralds with a new letter warning the
English to raise the siege and requiring them to restore that missing
messenger. The heralds came back without him. All they brought was
notice from the English to Joan that they would presently catch her
and burn her if she did not clear out now while she had a chance, and
"go back to her proper trade of minding cows."
She held her peace, only saying it was a pity that the English
would persist in inviting present disaster and eventual destruction
when she was "doing all she could to get them out of the country with
their lives still in their bodies."
Presently she thought of an arrangement that might be acceptable,
and said to the heralds, "Go back and say to Lord Talbot this, from
me: 'Come out of your bastilles with your host, and I will come with
mine; if I beat you, go in peace out of France; if you beat me, burn
me, according to your desire.'"
I did not hear this, but Dunois did, and spoke of it. The challenge
Sunday morning her Voices or some instinct gave her a warning, and
she sent Dunois to Blois to take command of the army and hurry it to
Orleans. It was a wise move, for he found Regnault de Chartres and
some more of the King's pet rascals there trying their best to
disperse the army, and crippling all the efforts of Joan's generals to
head it for Orleans. They were a fine lot, those miscreants. They
turned their attention to Dunois now, but he had balked Joan once,
with unpleasant results to himself, and was not minded to meddle in
that way again. He soon had the army moving.
Chapter 15 My Exquisite Poem Goes to Smash
WE OF the personal staff were in fairyland now, during the few
days that we waited for the return of the army. We went into society.
To our two knights this was not a novelty, but to us young villagers
it was a new and wonderful life. Any position of any sort near the
person of the Maid of Vaucouleurs conferred high distinction upon the
holder and caused his society to be courted; and so the D'Arc
brothers, and Noael, and the Paladin, humble peasants at home, were
gentlemen here, personages of weight and influence. It was fine to see
how soon their country diffidences and awkwardnesses melted away under
this pleasant sun of deference and disappeared, and how lightly and
easily they took to their new atmosphere. The Paladin was as happy as
it was possible for any one in this earth to be. His tongue went all
the time, and daily he got new delight out of hearing himself talk. He
began to enlarge his ancestry and spread it out all around, and
ennoble it right and left, and it was not long until it consisted
almost entirely of dukes. He worked up his old battles and tricked
them out with fresh splendors; also with new terrors, for he added
artillery now. We had seen cannon for the first time at Blois--a few
pieces--here there was plenty of it, and now and then we had the
impressive spectacle of a huge English bastille hidden from sight in a
mountain of smoke from its own guns, with lances of red flame darting
through it; and this grand picture, along with the quaking thunders
pounding away in the heart of it, inflamed the Paladin's imagination
and enabled him to dress out those ambuscade-skirmishes of ours with a
sublimity which made it impossible for any to recognize them at all
except people who had not been there.
You may suspect that there was a special inspiration for these
great efforts of the Paladin's, and there was. It was the daughter of
the house, Catherine Boucher, who was eighteen, and gentle and lovely
in her ways, and very beautiful. I think she might have been as
beautiful as Joan herself, if she had had Joan's eyes. But that could
never be. There was never but that one pair, there will never be
another. Joan's eyes were deep and rich and wonderful beyond anything
merely earthly. They spoke all the languages--they had no need of
words. They produced all effects--and just by a glance, just a single
glance; a glance that could convict a liar of his lie and make him
confess it; that could bring down a proud man's pride and make him
humble; that could put courage into a coward and strike dead the
courage of the bravest; that could appease resentments and real
hatreds; that could make the doubter believe and the hopeless hope
again; that could purify the impure mind; that could persuade--ah,
there it is--persuasion! that is the word; what or who is it that it
couldn't persuade? The maniac of Domremy--the fairy-banishing
priest--the reverend tribunal of Toul--the doubting and superstitious
Laxart--the obstinate veteran of Vaucouleurs--the characterless heir
of France--the sages and scholars of the Parliament and University of
Poitiers--the darling of Satan, La Hire--the masterless Bastard of
Orleans, accustomed to acknowledge no way as right and rational but
his own--these were the trophies of that great gift that made her the
wonder and mystery that she was.
We mingled companionably with the great folk who flocked to the
big house to make Joan's acquaintance, and they made much of us and
we lived in the clouds, so to speak. But what we preferred even to
this happiness was the quieter occasions, when the formal guests were
gone and the family and a few dozen of its familiar friends were
gathered together for a social good time. It was then that we did our
best, we five youngsters, with such fascinations as we had, and the
chief object of them was Catherine. None of us had ever been in love
been in love before, and now we had the misfortune to all fall in love
with the same person at the same time--which was the first moment we
saw her. She was a merry heart, and full of life, and I still remember
tenderly those few evenings that I was permitted to have my share of
her dear society and of comradeship with that little company of
The Paladin made us all jealous the first night, for when he got
fairly started on those battles of his he had everything to himself,
and there was no use in anybody else's trying to get any attention.
Those people had been living in the midst of real war for seven
months; and to hear this windy giant lay out his imaginary campaigns
and fairly swim in blood and spatter it all around, entertained them
to the verge of the grave. Catherine was like to die, for pure
enjoyment. She didn't laugh loud--we, of course, wished she would--but
kept in the shelter of a fan, and shook until there was danger that
she would unhitch her ribs from her spine. Then when the Paladin had
got done with a battle and we began to feel thankful and hope for a
change, she would speak up in a way that was so sweet and persuasive
that it rankled in me, and ask him about some detail or other in the
early part of his battle which she said had greatly interested her,
and would he be so good as to describe that part again and with a
little more particularity?--which of course precipitated the whole
battle on us, again, with a hundred lies added that had been
I do not know how to make you realize the pain I suffered. I had
never been jealous before, and it seemed intolerable that this
creature should have this good fortune which he was so ill entitled
to, and I have to sit and see myself neglected when I was so longing
for the least little attention out of the thousand that this beloved
girl was lavishing on him. I was near her, and tried two or three
times to get started on some of the things that I had done in those
battles--and I felt ashamed of myself, too, for stooping to such a
business--but she cared for nothing but his battles, and could not be
got to listen; and presently when one of my attempts caused her to
lose some precious rag or other of his mendacities and she asked him
to repeat, thus bringing on a new engagement, of course, and
increasing the havoc and carnage tenfold, I felt so humiliated by this
pitiful miscarriage of mine that I gave up and tried no more.
The others were as outraged by the Paladin's selfish conduct as I
was--and by his grand luck, too, of course--perhaps, indeed, that was
the main hurt. We talked our trouble over together, which was natural,
for rivals become brothers when a common affliction assails them and a
common enemy bears off the victory.
Each of us could do things that would please and get notice if it
were not for this person, who occupied all the time and gave others
no chance. I had made a poem, taking a whole night to it--a poem in
which I most happily and delicately celebrated that sweet girl's
charms, without mentioning her name, but any one could see who was
meant; for the bare title--"The Rose of Orleans"--would reveal that,
as it seemed to me. It pictured this pure and dainty white rose as
growing up out of the rude soil of war and looking abroad out of its
tender eyes upon the horrid machinery of death, and then--note this
conceit--it blushes for the sinful nature of man, and turns red in a
single night. Becomes a red rose, you see--a rose that was white
before. The idea was my own, and quite new. Then it sent its sweet
perfume out over the embattled city, and when the beleaguering forces
smelt it they laid down their arms and wept. This was also my own
idea, and new. That closed that part of the poem; then I put her into
the similitude of the firmament--not the whole of it, but only part.
That is to say, she was the moon, and all the constellations were
following her about, their hearts in flames for love of her, but she
would not halt, she would not listen, for 'twas thought she loved
another. 'Twas thought she loved a poor unworthy suppliant who was
upon the earth, facing danger, death, and possible mutilation in the
bloody field, waging relentless war against a heartless foe to save
her from an all too early grave, and her city from destruction. And
when the sad pursuing constellations came to know and realize the
bitter sorrow that was come upon them--note this idea--their hearts
broke and their tears gushed forth, filling the vault of heaven with a
fiery splendor, for those tears were falling stars. It was a rash
idea, but beautiful; beautiful and pathetic; wonderfully pathetic, the
way I had it, with the rhyme and all to help. At the end of each verse
there was a two-line refrain pitying the poor earthly lover separated
so far, and perhaps forever, from her he loved so well, and growing
always paler and weaker and thinner in his agony as he neared the
cruel grave--the most touching thing--even the boys themselves could
hardly keep back their tears, the way Noael said those lines. There
were eight four-line stanzas in the first end of the poem--the end
about the rose, the horticultural end, as you may say, if that is not
too large a name for such a little poem--and eight in the
astronomical end--sixteen stanzas altogether, and I could have made
it a hundred and fifty if I had wanted to, I was so inspired and so
all swelled up with beautiful thoughts and fancies; but that would
have been too many to sing or recite before a company that way,
whereas sixteen was just right, and could be done over again if
The boys were amazed that I could make such a poem as that out of
my own head, and so was I, of course, it being as much a surprise to
me as it could be to anybody, for I did not know that it was in me. If
any had asked me a single day before if it was in me, I should have
told them frankly no, it was not.
That is the way with us; we may go on half of our life not knowing
such a thing is in us, when in reality it was there all the time, and
all we needed was something to turn up that would call for it.
Indeed, it was always so without family. My grandfather had a cancer,
and they never knew what was the matter with him till he died, and he
didn't know himself. It is wonderful how gifts and diseases can be
concealed in that way. All that was necessary in my case was for this
lovely and inspiring girl to cross my path, and out came the poem, and
no more trouble to me to word it and rhyme it and perfect it than it
is to stone a dog. No, I should have said it was not in me; but it
The boys couldn't say enough about it, they were so charmed and
astonished. The thing that pleased them the most was the way it would
do the Paladin's business for him. They forgot everything in their
anxiety to get him shelved and silenced. Noael Rainguesson was clear
beside himself with admiration of the poem, and wished he could do
such a thing, but it was out of his line, and he couldn't, of course.
He had it by heart in half an hour, and there was never anything so
pathetic and beautiful as the way he recited it. For that was just his
gift--that and mimicry. He could recite anything better than anybody
in the world, and he could take of La Hire to the very life--or
anybody else, for that matter. Now I never could recite worth a
farthing; and when I tried with this poem the boys wouldn't let me
finish; they would nave nobody but Noael. So then, as I wanted the poem
to make the best possible impression on Catherine and the company, I
told Noael he might do the reciting. Never was anybody so delighted. He
could hardly believe that I was in earnest, but I was. I said that to
have them know that I was the author of it would be enough for me. The
boys were full of exultation, and Noael said if he could just get one
chance at those people it would be all he would ask; he would make
them realize that there was something higher and finer than war-lies
to be had here.
But how to get the opportunity--that was the difficulty. We
invented several schemes that promised fairly, and at last we hit
upon one that was sure. That was, to let the Paladin get a good start
in a manufactured battle, and then send in a false call for him, and
as soon as he was out of the room, have Noael take his place and finish
the battle himself in the Paladin's own style, imitated to a shade.
That would get great applause, and win the house's favor and put it in
the right mood to hear the poem. The two triumphs together with finish
the Standard-Bearer--modify him, anyway, to a certainty, and give the
rest of us a chance for the future.
So the next night I kept out of the way until the Paladin had got
his start and was sweeping down upon the enemy like a whirlwind at
the head of his corps, then I stepped within the door in my official
uniform and announced that a messenger from General La Hire's
quarters desired speech with the Standard-Bearer. He left the room,
and Noael took his place and said that the interruption was to be
deplored, but that fortunately he was personally acquainted with the
details of the battle himself, and if permitted would be glad to state
them to the company. Then without waiting for the permission he turned
himself to the Paladin--a dwarfed Paladin, of course--with manner,
tones, gestures, attitudes, everything exact, and went right on with
the battle, and it would be impossible to imagine a more perfectly and
minutely ridiculous imitation than he furnished to those shrieking
people. They went into spasms, convulsions, frenzies of laughter, and
the tears flowed down their cheeks in rivulets. The more they laughed,
the more inspires Noael grew with his theme and the greater marvels he
worked, till really the laughter was not properly laughing any more,
but screaming. Blessedest feature of all, Catherine Boucher was dying
with ecstasies, and presently there was little left of her but gasps
and suffocations. Victory? It was a perfect Agincourt.
The Paladin was gone only a couple of minutes; he found out at
once that a trick had been played on him, so he came back. When he
approached the door he heard Noael ranting in there and recognized the
state of the case; so he remained near the door but out of sight, and
heard the performance through to the end. The applause Noael got when
he finished was wonderful; and they kept it up and kept it up,
clapping their hands like mad, and shouting to him to do it over
But Noael was clever. He knew the very best background for a poem
of deep and refined sentiment and pathetic melancholy was one where
great and satisfying merriment had prepared the spirit for the
So he paused until all was quiet, then his face grew grave and
assumed an impressive aspect, and at once all faces sobered in
sympathy and took on a look of wondering and expectant interest. Now
he began in a low but distinct voice the opening verses of The Rose.
As he breathed the rhythmic measures forth, and one gracious line
after another fell upon those enchanted ears in that deep hush, one
could catch, on every hand, half-audible ejaculations of "How
lovely--how beautiful--how exquisite!"
By this time the Paladin, who had gone away for a moment with the
opening of the poem, was back again, and had stepped within the door.
He stood there now, resting his great frame against the wall and
gazing toward the reciter like one entranced. When Noael got to the
second part, and that heart-breaking refrain began to melt and move
all listeners, the Paladin began to wipe away tears with the back of
first one hand and then the other. The next time the refrain was
repe3ated he got to snuffling, and sort of half sobbing, and went to
wiping his eyes with the sleeves of his doublet. He was so conspicuous
that he embarrassed Noael a little, and also had an ill effect upon the
audience. With the next repetition he broke quite down and began to
cry like a calf, which ruined all the effect and started many to the
audience to laughing. Then he went on from bad to worse, until I never
saw such a spectacle; for he fetched out a towel from under his
doublet and began to swab his eyes with it and let go the most
infernal bellowings mixed up with sobbings and groanings and retchings
and barkings and coughings and snortings and screamings and
howlings--and he tdwisted himself about on his heels and squirmed
this way and that, still pouring out that brutal clamor and
flourishing his towel in the air and swabbing again and wringing it
out. Hear? You couldn't hear yourself think. Noael was wholly drowned
out and silenced, and those people were laughing the very lungs out of
themselves. It was the most degrading sight that ever was. Now I heard
the clankety-clank that plate-armor makes when the man that is in it
is running, and then alongside my head there burst out the most
inhuman explosion of laughter that ever rent the drum of a person's
ear, and I looked, and it was La Hire; and the stood there with his
gauntlets on his hips and his head tilted back and his jaws spread to
that degree to let out his hurricanes and his thunders that it
amounted to indecent exposure, for you could see everything that was
in him. Only one thing more and worse could happen, and it happened:
at the other door I saw the flurry and bustle and bowings and
scrapings of officials and flunkeys which means that some great
personage is coming--then Joan of Arc stepped in, and the house rose!
Yes, and tried to shut its indecorous mouth and make itself grave and
proper; but when it saw the Maid herself go to laughing, it thanked
God for this mercy and the earthquake that followed.
Such things make a life of bitterness, and I do not wish to dwell
upon them. The effect of the poem was spoiled.
Chapter 16 The Finding of the Dwarf
THIS EPISODE disagreed with me and I was not able to leave my bed
the next day. The others were in the same condition. But for this, one
or another of us might have had the good luck that fell to the
Paladin's share that day; but it is observable that God in His
compassion sends the good luck to such as are ill equipped with
gifts, as compensation for their defect, but requires such as are
more fortunately endowed to get by labor and talent what those others
get by chance. It was Noael who said this, and it seemed to me to be
well and justly thought.
The Paladin, going about the town all the day in order to be
followed and admired and overhear the people say in an awed voice,
"'Ssh!--look, it is the Standard-Bearer of Joan of Arc!" had speech
with all sorts and conditions of folk, and he learned from some
boatmen that there was a stir of some kind going on in the bastilles
on the other side of the river; and in the evening, seeking further,
he found a deserter from the fortress called the "Augustins," who said
that the English were going to send me over to strengthen the
garrisons on our side during the darkness of the night, and were
exulting greatly, for they meant to spring upon Dunois and the army
when it was passing the bastilles and destroy it; a thing quite easy
to do, since the "Witch" would not be there, and without her presence
the army would do like the French armies of these many years
past--drop their weapons and run when they saw an English face.
It was ten at night when the Paladin brought this news and asked
leave to speak to Joan, and I was up and on duty then. It was a
bitter stroke to me to see what a chance I had lost. Joan made
searching inquiries, and satisfied herself that the word was true,
then she made this annoying remark:
"You have done well, and you have my thanks. It may be that you
have prevented a disaster. Your name and service shall receive
Then he bowed low, and when he rose he was eleven feet high. As he
swelled out past me he covertly pulled down the corner of his eye with
his finger and muttered part of that defiled refrain, "Oh, tears, ah,
tears, oh, sad sweet tears!--name in General Orders--personal mention
to the King, you see!"
I wished Joan could have seen his conduct, but she was busy
thinking what she would do. Then she had me fetch the knight Jean de
Metz, and in a minute he was off for La Hire's quarters with orders
for him and the Lord de Villars and Florent d'Illiers to report to her
at five o'clock next morning with five hundred picked men well
mounted. The histories say half past four, but it is not true, I heard
the order given.
We were on our way at five to the minute, and encountered the head
of the arriving column between six and seven, a couple of leagues from
the city. Dunois was pleased, for the army had begun to get restive
and show uneasiness now that it was getting so near to the dreaded
bastilles. But that all disappeared now, as the word ran down the
line, with a huzza that swept along the length of it like a wave, that
the Maid was come. Dunois asked her to halt and let the column pass in
review, so that the men could be sure that the reports of her presence
was not a ruse to revive their courage. So she took position at the
side of the road with her staff, and the battalions swung by with a
martial stride, huzzaing. Joan was armed, except her head. She was
wearing the cunning little velvet cap with the mass of curved white
ostrich plumes tumbling over its edges which the city of Orleans had
given her the night she arrived--the one that is in the picture that
hangs in the H“tel de Ville at Rouen. She was looking about fifteen.
The sight of soldiers always set her blood to leaping, and lit the
fires in her eyes and brought the warm rich color to her cheeks; it
was then that you saw that she was too beautiful to be of the earth,
or at any rate that there was s subtle something somewhere about her
beauty that differed it from the human types of your experience and
exalted it above them.
In the train of wains laden with supplies a man lay on top of the
goods. He was stretched out on his back, and his hands were tied
together with ropes, and also his ankles. Joan signed to the officer
in charge of that division of the train to come to her, and he rode
up and saluted.
"What is he that is bound there?" she asked.
"A prisoner, General."
"What is his offense?"
"He is a deserter."
"What is to be done with him?"
"He will be hanged, but it was not convenient on the march, and
there was no hurry."
"Tell me about him."
"He is a good soldier, but he asked leave to go and see his wife
who was dying, he said, but it could not be granted; so he went
without leave. Meanwhile the march began, and he only overtook us
"Overtook you? Did he come of his own will?"
"Yes, it was of his own will."
"He a deserter! Name of God! Bring him to me."
The officer rode forward and loosed the man's feet and brought him
back with his hands still tied. What a figure he was--a good seven
feet high, and built for business! He had a strong face; he had an
unkempt shock of black hair which showed up a striking way when the
officer removed his morion for him; for weapon he had a big ax in his
broad leathern belt. Standing by Joan's horse, he made Joan look
littler than ever, for his head was about on a level with her own. His
face was profoundly melancholy; all interest in life seemed to be dead
in the man. Joan said:
"Hold up your hands."
The man's head was down. He lifted it when he heard that soft
friendly voice, and there was a wistful something in his face which
made one think that there had been music in it for him and that he
would like to hear it again. When he raised his hands Joan laid her
sword to his bonds, but the officer said with apprehension:
"Ah, madam--my General!"
"What is it?" she said.
"He is under sentence!"
"Yes, I know. I am responsible for him"; and she cut the bonds.
They had lacerated his wrists, and they were bleeding. "Ah, pitiful!"
she said; "blood--I do not like it"; and she shrank from the sight.
But only for a moment. "Give me something, somebody, to bandage his
The officer said:
"Ah, my General! it is not fitting. Let me bring another to do it."
"Another? De par le Dieu! You would seek far to find one that can
do it better than I, for I learned it long ago among both men and
beasts. And I can tie better than those that did this; if I had tied
him the ropes had not cut his flesh."
The man looked on silent, while he was being bandaged, stealing a
furtive glance at Joan's face occasionally, such as an animal might
that is receiving a kindness form an unexpected quarter and is
gropingly trying to reconcile the act with its source. All the staff
had forgotten the huzzaing army drifting by in its rolling clouds of
dust, to crane their necks and watch the bandaging as if it was the
most interesting and absorbing novelty that ever was. I have often
seen people do like that--get entirely lost in the simplest trifle,
when it is something that is out of their line. Now there in Poitiers,
once, I saw two bishops and a dozen of those grave and famous
scholars grouped together watching a man paint a sign on a shop; they
didn't breathe, they were as good as dead; and when it began to
sprinkle they didn't know it at first; then they noticed it, and each
man hove a deep sigh, and glanced up with a surprised look as
wondering to see the others there, and how he came to be there
himself--but that is the way with people, as I have said. There is no
way of accounting for people. You have to take them as they are.
"There," said Joan at last, pleased with her success; "another
could have done it no better--not as well, I think. Tell me--what is
it you did? Tell me all."
The giant said:
"It was this way, my angel. My mother died, then my three little
children, one after the other, all in two years. It was the famine;
others fared so--it was God's will. I saw them die; I had that grace;
and I buried them. Then when my poor wife's fate was come, I begged
for leave to go to her--she who was so dear to me--she who was all I
had; I begged on my knees. But they would not let me. Could I let her
die, friendless and alone? Could I let her die believing I would not
come? Would she let me die and she not come--with her feet free to do
it if she would, and no cost upon it but only her life? Ah, she would
come--she would come through the fire! So I went. I saw her. She died
in my arms. I buried her. Then the army was gone. I had trouble to
overtake it, but my legs are long and there are many hours in a day; I
overtook it last night."
Joan said, musingly, as as if she were thinking aloud:
"It sounds true. If true, it were no great harm to suspend the law
this one time--any would say that. It may not be true, but if it is
true--" She turned suddenly to the man and said, "I would see your
eyes--look up!" The eyes of the two met, and Joan said to the
officer, "This man is pardoned. Give you good day; you may go." Then
she said to the man, "Did you know it was death to come back to the
"Yes," he said, "I knew it."
"Then why did you do it?"
The man said, quite simply:
"Because it ws death. She was all I had. There was nothing left to
"Ah, yes, there was--France! The children of France have always
their mother--they cannot be left with nothing to love. You shall
live--and you shall serve France--"
"I will serve you!"
--"you shall fight for France--"
"I will fight for you!"
"You shall be France's soldier--"
"I will be your soldier!"
--"you shall give all your heart to France--"
"I will give all my heart to you--and all my soul, if I have
one--and all my strength, which is great--for I was dead and am alive
again; I had nothing to live for, but now I have! You are France for
me. You are my France, and I will have no other."
Joan smiled, and was touched and pleased at the man's grave
enthusiasm--solemn enthusiasm, one may call it, for the manner of it
was deeper than mere gravity--and she said:
"Well, it shall be as you will. What are you called?"
The man answered with unsmiling simplicity:
"They call me the Dwarf, but I think it is more in jest than
It made Joan laugh, and she said:
"It has something of that look truly! What is the office of that
The soldier replied with the same gravity--which must have been
born to him, it sat upon him so naturally:
"It is to persuade persons to respect France."
Joan laughed again, and said:
"Have you given many lessons?"
"Ah, indeed, yes--many."
"The pupils behaved to suit you, afterward?"
"Yes; it made them quiet--quite pleasant and quiet."
"I should think it would happen so. Would you like to be my
man-at-arms?--orderly, sentinel, or something like that?"
"If I may!"
"Then you shall. You shall have proper armor, and shall go on
teaching your art. Take one of those led horses there, and follow the
staff when we move."
That is how we came by the Dwarf; and a good fellow he was. Joan
picked him out on sight, but it wasn't a mistake; no one could be
faithfuler than he was, and he was a devil and the son of a devil when
he turned himself loose with his ax. He was so big that he made the
Paladin look like an ordinary man. He liked to like people, therefore
people liked him. He liked us boys from the start; and he liked the
knights, and liked pretty much everybody he came across; but he
thought more of a paring of Joan's finger-nail than he did of all the
rest of the world put together.
Yes, that is where we got him--stretched on the wain, going to his
death, poor chap, and nobody to say a good word for him. He was a
good find. Why, the knights treated him almost like an equal--it is
the honest truth; that is the sort of a man he was. They called him
the Bastille sometimes, and sometimes they called him Hellfire, which
was on account of his warm and sumptuous style in battle, and you know
they wouldn't have given him pet names if they hadn't had a good deal
of affection for him.
To the Dwarf, Joan was France, the spirit of France made flesh--he
never got away from that idea that he had started with; and God knows
it was the true one. That was a humble eye to see so great a truth
where some others failed. To me that seems quite remarkable. And yet,
after all, it was, in a way, just what nations do. When they love a
great and noble thing, they embody it--they want it so that they can
see it with their eyes; like liberty, for instance. They are not
content with the cloudy abstract idea, they make a beautiful statue of
it, and then their beloved idea is substantial and they can look at it
and worship it. And so it is as I say; to the Dwarf, Joan was our
country embodied, our country made visible flesh cast in a gracious
form. When she stood before others, they saw Joan of Arc, but he saw
Sometimes he would speak of her by that name. It shows you how the
idea was embedded in his mind, and how real it was to him. The world
has called our kings by it, but I know of none of them who has had so
good a right as she to that sublime title.
When the march past was finished, Joan returned to the front and
rode at the head of the column. When we began to file past those grim
bastilles and could glimpse the men within, standing to their guns and
ready to empty death into our ranks, such a faintness came over me and
such a sickness that all things seemed to turn dim and swim before my
eyes; and the other boys looked droopy, too, I thought--including the
Paladin, although I do not know this for certain, because he was ahead
of me and I had to keep my eyes out toward the bastille side, because
I could wince better when I saw what to wince at.
But Joan was at home--in Paradise, I might say. She sat up
straight, and I could see that she was feeling different from me. The
awfulest thing was the silence; there wasn't a sound but the
screaking of the saddles, the measured tramplings, and the sneezing
of the horses, afflicted by the smothering dust-clouds which they
kicked up. I wanted to sneeze myself, but it seemed to me that I would
rather go unsneezed, or suffer even a bitterer torture, if there is
one, than attract attention to myself.
I was not of a rank to make suggestions, or I would have suggested
that if we went faster we should get by sooner. It seemed to me that
it was an ill-judged time to be taking a walk. Just as we were
drifting in that suffocating stillness past a great cannon that stood
just within a raised portcullis, with nothing between me and it but
the moat, a most uncommon jackass in there split the world with his
bray, and I fell out of the saddle. Sir Bertrand grabbed me as I went,
which was well, for if I had gone to the ground in my armor I could
not have gotten up again by myself. The English warders on the
battlements laughed a coarse laugh, forgetting that every one must
begin, and that there had been a time when they themselves would have
fared no better when shot by a jackass.
The English never uttered a challenge nor fired a shot. It was said
afterward that when their men saw the Maid riding at the front and
saw how lovely she was, their eager courage cooled down in many cases
and vanished in the rest, they feeling certain that the creature was
not mortal, but the very child of Satan, and so the officers were
prudent and did not try to make them fight. It was said also that some
of the officers were affected by the same superstitious fears. Well,
in any case, they never offered to molest us, and we poked by all the
grisly fortresses in peace. During the march I caught up on my
devotions, which were in arrears; so it was not all loss and no profit
for me after all.
It was on this march that the histories say Dunois told Joan that
the English were expecting reinforcements under the command of Sir
John Fastolfe, and that she turned upon him and said:
"Bastard, Bastard, in God's name I warn you to let me know of his
coming as soon as you hear of it; for if he passes without my
knowledge you shall lose your head!"
It may be so; I don't deny it; but I didn't her it. If she really
said it I think she only meant she would take off his official
head--degrade him from his command. It was not like her to threaten a
comrade's life. She did have her doubts of her generals, and was
entitled to them, for she was all for storm and assault, and they were
for holding still and tiring the English out. Since they did not
believe in her way and were experienced old soldiers, it would be
natural for them to prefer their own and try to get around carrying
But I did hear something that the histories didn't mention and
don't know about. I heard Joan say that now that the garrisons on the
other wide had been weakened to strengthen those on our side, the
most effective point of operations had shifted to the south shore; so
she meant to go over there and storm the forts which held the bridge
end, and that would open up communication with our own dominions and
raise the siege. The generals began to balk, privately, right away,
but they only baffled and delayed her, and that for only four days.
All Orleans met the army at the gate and huzzaed it through the
bannered streets to its various quarters, but nobody had to rock it
to sleep; it slumped down dog-tired, for Dunois had rushed it without
mercy, and for the next twenty-four hours it would be quiet, all but
Chapter 17 Sweet Fruit of Bitter Truth
WHEN WE got home, breakfast for us minor fry was waiting in our
mess-room and the family honored us by coming in to eat it with us.
The nice old treasurer, and in fact all three were flatteringly eager
to hear about our adventures. Nobody asked the Paladin to begin, but
he did begin, because now that his specially ordained and peculiar
military rank set him above everybody on the personal staff but old
D'Aulon, who didn't eat with us, he didn't care a farthing for the
knights' nobility no mine, but took precedence in the talk whenever it
suited him, which was all the time, because he was born that way. He
"God be thanked, we found the army in admirable condition I think
I have never seen a finer body of animals."
"Animals!" said Miss Catherine.
"I will explain to you what he means," said Noael. "He--"
"I will trouble you not to trouble yourself to explain anything for
me," said the Paladin, loftily. "I have reason to think--"
"That is his way," said Noael; "always when he thinks he has reason
to think, he thinks he does think, but this is an error. He didn't see
the army. I noticed him, and he didn't see it. He was troubled by his
"What s his old complaint?" Catherine asked.
"Prudence," I said, seeing my chance to help.
But it was not a fortunate remark, for the Paladin said:
"It probably isn't your turn to criticize people's prudence--you
who fall out of the saddle when a donkey brays."
They all laughed, and I was ashamed of myself for my hasty
smartness. I said:
"It isn't quite fair for you to say I fell out on account of the
donkey's braying. It was emotion, just ordinary emotion."
"Very well, if you want to call it that, I am not objecting. What
would you call it, Sir Bertrand?"
"Well, it--well, whatever it was, it was excusable, I think. All of
you have learned how to behave in hot hand-to-hand engagements, and
you don't need to be ashamed of your record in that matter; but to
walk along in front of death, with one's hands idle, and no noise, no
music, and nothing going on, is a very trying situation. If I were
you, De Conte, I would name the emotion; it's nothing to be ashamed
It was as straight and sensible a speech as ever I heard, and I was
grateful for the opening it gave me; so I came out and said:
"It was fear--and thank you for the honest idea, too."
"It was the cleanest and best way out," said the old treasurer;
"you've done well, my lad."
That made me comfortable, and when Miss Catherine said, "It's what
I think, too," I was grateful to myself for getting into that scrape.
Sir Jean de Metz said:
"We were all in a body together when the donkey brayed, and it was
dismally still at the time. I don't see how any young campaigner could
escape some little touch of that emotion."
He looked about him with a pleasant expression of inquiry on his
good face, and as each pair of eyes in turn met his head they were in
nodded a confession. Even the Paladin delivered his nod. That
surprised everybody, and saved the Standard-Bearer's credit. It was
clever of him; nobody believed he could tell the truth that way
without practice, or would tell that particular sort of a truth either
with or without practice. I suppose he judged it would favorably
impress the family. Then the old treasurer said:
"Passing the forts in that trying way required the same sort of
nerve that a person must have when ghosts are about him in the dark,
I should think. What does the Standard-Bearer think?"
"Well, I don't quite know about that, sir. I've often thought I
would like to see a ghost if I--"
"Would you?" exclaimed the young lady. "We've got one! Would you
try that one? Will you?"
She was so eager and pretty that the Paladin said straight out that
he would; and then as none of the rest had bravery enough to expose
the fear that was in him, one volunteered after the other with a
prompt mouth and a sick heart till all were shipped for the voyage;
then the girl clapped her hands in glee, and the parents were
gratified, too, saying that the ghosts of their house had been a dread
and a misery to them and their forebears for generations, and nobody
had ever been found yet who was willing to confront them and find out
what their trouble was, so that the family could heal it and content
the poor specters and beguile them to tranquillity and peace.
Chapter 18 Joan's First Battle-Field
ABOUT NOON I was chatting with Madame Boucher; nothing was going
on, all was quiet, when Catherine Boucher suddenly entered in great
excitement, and said:
"Fly, sir, fly! The Maid was doing in her chair in my room, when
she sprang up and cried out, 'French blood is flowing!--my arms, give
me my arms!' Her giant was on guard at the door, and he brought
D'Aulon, who began to arm her, and I and the giant have been warning
the staff. Fly!--and stay by her; and if there really is a battle,
keep her out of it--don't let her risk herself--there is no need--if
the men know she is near and looking on, it is all that is necessary.
Keep her out of the fight--don't fail of this!"
I started on a run, saying, sarcastically--for I was always fond of
sarcasm, and it was said that I had a most neat gift that way:
"Oh, yes, nothing easier than that--I'll attend to it!"
At the furthest end of the house I met Joan, fully armed, hurrying
toward the door, and she said:
"Ah, French blood is being spilt, and you did not tell me."
"Indeed I did not know it," I said; "there are no sounds of war;
everything is quiet, your Excellency."
"You will hear war-sounds enough in a moment," she said, and was
It was true. Before one could count five there broke upon the
stillness the swelling rush and tramp of an approaching multitude of
men and horses, with hoarse cries of command; and then out of the
distance came the muffled deep boom!--boom-boom!--boom! of cannon, and
straightway that rushing multitude was roaring by the house like a
Our knights and all our staff came flying, armed, but with no
horses ready, and we burst out after Joan in a body, the Paladin in
the lead with the banner. The surging crowd was made up half of
citizens and half of soldiers, and had no recognizedleader. When Joan
was seen a huzza went up, and she shouted:
"A horse--a horse!"
A dozen saddles were at her disposal in a moment. She mounted, a
hundred people shouting:
"Way, there--way for the MAID OF ORLEANS!" The first time that
that immortal name was ever uttered--and I, praise God, was there to
hear it! The mass divided itself like the waters of the Red Sea, and
down this lane Joan went skimming like a bird, crying, "Forward,
French hearts--follow me!" and we came winging in her wake on the rest
of the borrowed horses, the holy standard streaming above us, and the
lane closing together in our rear.
This was a different thing from the ghastly march past the dismal
bastilles. No, we felt fine, now, and all awhirl with enthusiasm. The
explanation of this sudden uprising was this. The city and the little
garrison, so long hopeless and afraid, had gone wild over Joan's
coming, and could no longer restrain their desire to get at the enemy;
so, without orders from anybody, a few hundred soldiers and citizens
had plunged out at the Burgundy gate on a sudden impulse and made a
charge on one of Lord Talbot's most formidable fortresses--St.
Loup--and were getting the worst of it. The news of this had swept
through the city and started this new crowd that we were with.
As we poured out at the gate we met a force bringing in the
wounded from the front. The sight moved Joan, and she said:
"Ah, French blood; it makes my hair rise to see it!"
We were soon on the field, soon in the midst of the turmoil. Joan
was seeing her first real battle, and so were we.
It was a battle in the open field; for the garrison of St. Loup had
sallied confidently out to meet the attack, being used to victories
when "witches" were not around. The sally had been reinforced by
troops from the "Paris" bastille, and when we approached the French
were getting whipped and were falling back. But when Joan came
charging through the disorder with her banner displayed, crying
"Forward, men--follow me!" there was a change; the French turned about
and surged forward like a solid wave of the sea, and swept the English
before them, hacking and slashing, and being hacked and slashed, in a
way that was terrible to see.
In the field the Dwarf had no assignment; that is to say, he was
not under orders to occupy any particular place, therefore he chose
his place for himself, and went ahead of Joan and made a road for her.
It was horrible to see the iron helmets fly into fragments under his
dreadful ax. He called it cracking nuts, and it looked like that. He
made a good road, and paved it well with flesh and iron. Joan and the
rest of us followed it so briskly that we outspeeded our forces and
had the English behind us as well as before. The knights commanded us
to face outward around Joan, which we did, and then there was work
done that was fine to see. One was obliged to respect the Paladin,
now. Being right under Joan's exalting and transforming eye, he forgot
his native prudence, he forgot his diffidence in the presence of
danger, he forgot what fear was, and he never laid about him in his
imaginary battles in a more tremendous way that he did in this real
one; and wherever he struck there was an enemy the less.
We were in that close place only a few minutes; then our forces to
the rear broke through with a great shout and joined us, and then the
English fought a retreating fight, but in a fine and gallant way, and
we drove them to their fortress foot by foot, they facing us all the
time, and their reserves on the walls raining showers of arrows,
cross-bow bolts, and stone cannon-balls upon us.
The bulk of the enemy got safely within the works and left us
outside with piles of French and English dead and wounded for
company--a sickening sight, an awful sight to us youngsters, for our
little ambush fights in February had been in the night, and the blood
and the mutilations and the dead faces were mercifully dim, whereas we
saw these things now for the first time in all their naked
Now arrived Dunois from the city, and plunged through the battle
on his foam-flecked horse and galloped up to Joan, saluting, and
uttering handsome compliments as he came. He waved his hand toward
the distant walls of the city, where a multitude of flags were
flaunting gaily in the wind, and said the populace were up there
observing her fortunate performance and rejoicing over it, and added
that she and the forces would have a great reception now.
"Now? Hardly now, Bastard. Not yet!"
"Why not yet? Is there more to be done?"
"More, Bastard? We have but begun! We will take this fortress."
"Ah, you can't be serious! We can't take this place; let me urge
you not to make the attempt; it is too desperate. Let me order the
Joan's heart was overflowing with the joys and enthusiasms of war,
and it made her impatient to hear such talk. She cried out:
"Bastard, Bastard, will ye play always with these English? Now
verily I tell you we will not budge until this place is ours. We will
carry it by storm. Sound the charge!"
"Ah, my General--"
"Waste no more time, man--let the bugles sound the assault!" and
we saw that strange deep light in her eye which we named the
battle-light, and learned to know so well in later fields.
The martial notes pealed out, the troops answered with a yell, and
down they came against that formidable work, whose outlines were lost
in its own cannon-smoke, and whose sides were spouting flame and
We suffered repulse after repulse, but Joan was here and there and
everywhere encouraging the men, and she kept them to their work.
During three hours the tide ebbed and flowed, flowed and ebbed; but
at last La Hire, who was now come, made a final and resistless charge,
and the bastille St. Loup was ours. We gutted it, taking all its
stores and artillery, and then destroyed it.
When all our host was shouting itself hoarse with rejoicings, and
there went up a cry for the General, for they wanted to praise her
and glorify her and do her homage for her victory, we had trouble to
find her; and when we did find her, she was off by herself, sitting
among a ruck of corpses, with her face in her hands, crying--for she
was a young girl, you know, and her hero heart was a young girl's
heart too, with the pity and the tenderness that are natural to it.
She was thinking of the mothers of those dead friends and enemies.
Among the prisoners were a number of priests, and Joan took these
under her protection and saved their lives. It was urged that they
were most probably combatants in disguise, but she said:
"As to that, how can any tell? They wear the livery of God, and if
even one of these wears it rightfully, surely it were better that all
the guilty should escape than that we have upon our hands the blood
of that innocent man. I will lodge them where I lodge, and feed them,
and sent them away in safety."
We marched back to the city with our crop of cannon and prisoners
on view and our banners displayed. Here was the first substantial bit
of war-work the imprisoned people had seen in the seven months that
the siege had endured, the first chance they had had to rejoice over a
French exploit. You may guess that they made good use of it. They and
the bells went mad. Joan was their darling now, and the press of
people struggling and shouldering each other to get a glimpse of her
was so great that we could hardly push our way through the streets at
all. Her new name had gone all about, and was on everybody's lips. The
Holy Maid of Vaucouleurs was a forgotten title; the city had claimed
her for its own, and she was the MAID OF ORLEANS now. It is a
happiness to me to remember that I heard that name the first time it
was ever uttered. Between that first utterance and the last time it
will be uttered on this earth--ah, think how many moldering ages will
lie in that gap!
The Boucher family welcomed her back as if she had been a child of
the house, and saved frm death against all hope or probability. They
chided her for going into the battle and exposing herself to danger
during all those hours. They could not realize that she had meant to
carry her warriorship so far, and asked her if it had really been her
purpose to go right into the turmoil of the fight, or hadn't she got
swept into it by accident and the rush of the troops? They begged her
to be more careful another time. It was good advice, maybe, but it
fell upon pretty unfruitful soil.
Chapter 19 We Burst In Upon Ghosts
BEING WORN out with the long fight, we all slept the rest of the
afternoon away and two or three hours into the night. Then we got up
refreshed, and had supper. As for me, I could have been willing to let
the matter of the ghost drop; and the others were of a like mind, no
doubt, for they talked diligently of the battle and said nothing of
that other thing. And indeed it was fine and stirring to hear the
Paladin rehearse his deeds and see him pile his dead, fifteen here,
eighteen there, and thirty-five yonder; but this only postponed the
trouble; it could not do more. He could not go on forever; when he had
carried the bastille by assault and eaten up the garrison there was
nothing for it but to stop, unless Catherine Boucher would give him a
new start and have it all done over again--as we hoped she would, this
time--but she was otherwise minded. As soon as there was a good
opening and a fair chance, she brought up her unwelcome subject, and
we faced it the best we could.
We followed her and her parents to the haunted room at eleven
o'clock, with candles, and also with torches to place in the sockets
on the walls. It was a big house, with very thick walls, and this
room was in a remote part of it which had been left unoccupied for
nobody knew how many years, because of its evil repute.
This was a large room, like a salon, and had a big table in it of
enduring oak and well preserved; but the chair were worm-eaten and
the tapestry on the walls was rotten and discolored by age. The dusty
cobwebs under the ceiling had the look of not having had any business
for a century.
"Tradition says that these ghosts have never been seen--they have
merely been heard. It is plain that this room was once larger than it
is now, and that the wall at this end was built in some bygone time
to make and fence off a narrow room there. There is no communication
anywhere with that narrow room, and if it exists--and of that there is
no reasonable doubt--it has no light and no air, but is an absolute
dungeon. Wait where you are, and take note of what happens."
That was all. Then she and her parents left us. When their
footfalls had died out in the distance down the empty stone corridors
an uncanny si8lence and solemnity ensued which was dismaler to me
than the mute march past the bastilles. We sat loking vacantly at
each other, and it was easy to see that no one there was comfortable.
The longer we sat so, the more deadly still that stillness got to be;
and when the wind began to moan around the house presently, it made me
sick and miserable, and I wished I had been brave enough to be a
coward this time, for indeed it is no proper shame to be afraid of
ghosts, seeing how helpless the living are in their hands. And then
these ghosts were invisible, which made the matter the worse, as it
seemed to me. They might be in the room with us at that moment--we
could not know. I felt airy touches on my shoulders and my hair, and I
shrank from them and cringed, and was not ashamed to show this fear,
for I saw the others doing the like, and knew that they were feeling
those faint contacts too. As this went on--oh, eternities it seemed,
the time dragged so drearily--all those faces became as wax, and I
seemed sitting with a congress of the dead.
At last, faint and far and weird and slow, came a
"boom!--boom!--boom!"--a distant bell tolling midnight. When the last
stroke died, that depressing stillness followed again, and as before I
was staring at those waxen faces and feeling those airy touches on my
hair and my shoulders once more.
One minute--two minutes--three minutes of this, then we heard a
long deep groan, and everybody sprang up and stood, with his legs
quaking. It came from that little dungeon. There was a pause, then we
herd muffled sobbings, mixed with pitiful ejaculations. Then there was
a second voice, low and not distinct, and the one seemed trying to
comfort the other; and so the two voices went on, with moanings, and
soft sobbings, and, ah, the tones were so full of compassion and sorry
and despair! Indeed, it made one's heart sore to hear it.
But those sounds were so real and so human and so moving that the
idea of ghosts passed straight out of our minds, and Sir Jean de Metz
spoke out and said:
"Come! we will smash that wall and set those poor captives free.
Here, with your ax!"
The Dwarf jumped forward, swinging his great ax with both hands,
and others sprang for torches and brought them.
Bang!--whang!--slam!--smash went the ancient bricks, and there was a
hole an ox could pass through. We plunged within and held up the
Nothing there but vacancy! On the floor lay a rusty sword and a
Now you know all that I know. Take the pathetic relics, and weave
about them the romance of the dungeon's long-vanished inmates as best
Chapter 20 Joan Makes Cowards Brave Victors
THE NEXT day Joan wanted to go against the enemy again, but it was
the feast of the Ascension, and the holy council of bandit generals
were too pious to be willing to profane it with bloodshed. But
privately they profaned it with plottings, a sort of industry just in
their line. They decided to do the only thing proper to do now in the
new circumstances of the case--feign an attack on the most important
bastille on the Orleans side, and then, if the English weakened the
far more important fortresses on the other side of the river to come
to its help, cross in force and capture those works. This would give
them the bridge and free communication with the Sologne, which was
French territory. They decided to keep this latter part of the program
secret from Joan.
Joan intruded and took them by surprise. She asked them what they
were about and what they had resolved upon. They said they had
resolved to attack the most important of the English bastilles on the
Orleans side next morning--and there the spokesman stopped. Joan said:
"Well, go on."
"There is nothing more. That is all."
"Am I to believe this? That is to say, am I to believe that you
have lost your wits?" She turned to Dunois, and said, "Bastard, you
have sense, answer me this: if this attack is made and the bastille
taken, how much better off would we be than we are now?"
The Bastard hesitated, and then began some rambling talk not quite
germane to the question. Joan interrupted him and said:
"That will not do, good Bastard, you have answered. Since the
Bastard is not able to mention any advantage to be gained by taking
that bastille and stopping there, it is not likely that any of you
could better the matter. You waste much time here in inventing plans
that lead to nothing, and making delays that are a damage. Are you
concealing something from me? Bastard, this council has a general
plan, I take it; without going into details, what is it?"
"It is the same it was in the beginning, seven months ago--to get
provisions for a long siege, then sit down and tire the English out."
"In the name of God! As if seven months was not enough, you want
to provide for a year of it. Now ye shall drop these pusillanimous
dreams--the English shall go in three days!"
"Ah, General, General, be prudent!"
"Be prudent and starve? Do ye call that war? I tell you this, if
you do not already know it: The new circumstances have changed the
face of matters. The true point of attack has shifted; it is on the
other side of the river now. One must take the fortifications that
command the bridge. The English know that if we are not fools and
cowards we will try to do that. They are grateful for your piety in
wasting this day. They will reinforce the bridge forts from this side
to-night, knowing what ought to happen to-morrow. You have but lost a
day and made our task harder, for we will cross and take the bridge
forts. Bastard, tell me the truth--does not this council know that
there is no other course for us than the one I am speaking of?"
Dunois conceded that the council did know it to be the most
desirable, but considered it impracticable; and he excused the
council as well as he could by saying that inasmuch as nothing was
really and rationally to be hoped for but a long continuance of the
siege and wearying out of the English, they were naturally a little
afraid of Joan's impetuous notions. He said:
"You see, we are sure that the waiting game is the best, whereas
you would carry everything by storm."
"That I would!--and moreover that I will! You have my orders--here
and now. We will move upon the forts of the south bank to-morrow at
"And carry them by storm?"
"Yes, carry them by storm!"
La Hire came clanking in, and heard the last remark. He cried out:
"By my baton, that is the music I love to hear! Yes, that is the
right time and the beautiful words, my General--we will carry them by
He saluted in his large way and came up and shook Joan by the
Some member of the council was heard to say:
"It follows, then, that we must begin with the bastille St. John,
and that will give the English time to--"
Joan turned and said:
"Give yourselves no uneasiness about the bastille St. John. The
English will know enough to retire from it and fall back on the
bridge bastilles when they see us coming." She added, with a touch of
sarcasm, "Even a war-council would know enough to do that itself."
Then she took her leave. La Hire made this general remark to the
"She is a child, and that is all ye seem to see. Keep to that
superstition if you must, but you perceive that this child
understands this complex game of war as well as any of you; and if
you want my opinion without the trouble of asking for it, here you
have it without ruffles or embroidery--by God, I think she can teach
the best of you how to play it!"
Joan had spoken truly; the sagacious English saw that the policy of
the French had undergone a revolution; that the policy of paltering
and dawdling was ended; that in place of taking blows, blows were
ready to be struck now; therefore they made ready for the new state
of things by transferring heavy reinforcements to the bastilles of the
south bank from those of the north.
The city learned the great news that once more in French history,
after all these humiliating years, France was going to take the
offensive; that France, so used to retreating, was going to advance;
that France, so long accustomed to skulking, was going to face about
and strike. The joy of the people passed all bounds. The city walls
were black with them to see the army march out in the morning in that
strange new position--its front, not its tail, toward an English camp.
You shall imagine for yourselves what the excitement was like and how
it expressed itself, when Joan rode out at the head of the host with
her banner floating above her.
We crossed the five in strong force, and a tedious long job it was,
for the boats were small and not numerous. Our landing on the island
of St. Aignan was not disputed. We threw a bridge of a few boats
across the narrow channel thence to the south shore and took up our
march in good order and unmolested; for although there was a fortress
there--St. John--the English vacated and destroyed it and fell back on
the bridge forts below as soon as our first boats were seen to leave
the Orleans shore; which was what Joan had said would happen, when she
was disputing with the council.
We moved down the shore and Joan planted her standard before the
bastille of the Augustins, the first of the formidable works that
protected the end of the bridge. The trumpets sounded the assault,
and two charges followed in handsome style; but we were too weak, as
yet, for our main body was still lagging behind. Before we could
gather for a third assault the garrison of St. Prive were seen coming
up to reinforce the big bastille. They came on a run, and the
Augustins sallied out, and both forces came against us with a rush,
and sent our small army flying in a panic, and followed us, slashing
and slaying, and shouting jeers and insults at us.
Joan was doing her best to rally the men, but their wits were gone,
their hearts were dominated for the moment by the old-time dread of
the English. Joan's temper flamed up, and she halted and commanded the
trumpets to sound the advance. Then she wheeled about and cried out:
"If there is but a dozen of you that are not cowards, it is
Away she went, and after her a few dozen who had heard her words
and been inspired by them. The pursuing force was astonished to see
her sweeping down upon them with this handful of men, and it was their
turn now to experience a grisly fright--surely this is a witch, this
is a child of Satan! That was their thought--and without stopping to
analyze the matter they turned and fled in a panic.
Our flying squadrons heard the bugle and turned to look; and when
they saw the Maid's banner speeding in the other direction and the
enemy scrambling ahead of it in disorder, their courage returned and
they came scouring after us.
La Hire heard it and hurried his force forward and caught up with
us just as we were planting our banner again before the ramparts of
the Augustins. We were strong enough now. We had a long and tough
piece of work before us, but we carried it through before night, Joan
keeping us hard at it, and she and La Hire saying we were able to take
that big bastille, and must. The English fought like--well, they
fought like the English; when that is said, there is no more to say.
We made assault after assault, through the smoke and flame and the
deafening cannon-blasts, and at last as the sun was sinking we carried
the place with a rush, and planted our standard on its walls.
The Augustins was ours. The Tourelles must be ours, too, if we
would free the bridge and raise the siege. We had achieved one great
undertaking, Joan was determined to accomplish the other. We must lie
on our arms where we were, hold fast to what we had got, and be ready
for business in the morning. So Joan was not minded to let the men be
demoralized by pillage and riot and carousings; she had the Augustins
burned, with all its stores in it, excepting the artillery and
Everybody was tired out with this long day's har work, and of
course this was the case with Joan; still, she wanted to stay with
the army before the Tourelles, to be ready for the assault in the
morning. The chiefs argued with her, and at last persuaded her to go
home and prepare for the great work by taking proper rest, and also by
having a leech look to a wound which she had received in her foot. So
we crossed with them and went home.
Just as usual, we found the town in a fury of joy, all the bells
clanging, everybody shouting, and several people drunk. We never went
out or came in without furnishing good and sufficient reasons for one
of these pleasant tempests, and so the tempest was always on hand.
There had been a blank absence of reasons for this sort of upheavals
for the past seven months, therefore the people too to the upheavals
with all the more relish on that account.
Chapter 21 She Gently Reproves Her Dear Friend
TO GET away from the usual crowd of visitors and have a rest, Joan
went with Catherine straight to the apartment which the two occupied
together, and there they took their supper and there the wound was
dressed. But then, instead of going to bed, Joan, weary as she was,
sent the Dwarf for me, in spite of Catherine's protests and
persuasions. She said she had something on her mind, and must send a
courier to Domremy with a letter for our old Pare Fronte to read to
her mother. I came, and she began to dictate. After some loving words
and greetings to her mother and family, came this:
"But the thing which moves me to write now, is to say that when
you presently hear that I am wounded, you shall give yourself no
concern about it, and refuse faith to any that shall try to make you
believe it is serious."
She was going on, when Catherine spoke up and said:
"Ah, but it will fright her so to read these words. Strike them
out, Joan, strike them out, and wait only one day--two days at
most--then write and say your foot was wounded but is well again--for
it surely be well then, or very near it. Don't distress her, Joan; do
as I say."
A laugh like the laugh of the old days, the impulsive free laugh of
an untroubled spirit, a laugh like a chime of bells, was Joan's
answer; then she said:
"My foot? Why should I write about such a scratch as that? I was
not thinking of it, dear heart."
"Child, have you another wound and a worse, and have not spoken of
it? What have you been dreaming about, that you--"
She had jumped up, full of vague fears, to have the leech called
back at once, but Joan laid her hand upon her arm and made her sit
down again, saying:
"There, now, be tranquil, there is no other wound, as yet; I am
writing about one which I shall get when we storm that bastille
Catherine had the look of one who is trying to understand a
puzzling proposition but cannot quite do it. She said, in a
"A wound which you are going to get? But--but why grieve your
mother when it--when it may not happen?"
"May not? Why, it will."
The puzzle was a puzzle still. Catherine said in that same
abstracted way as before:
"Will. It is a strong word. I cannot seem to--my mind is not able
to take hold of this. Oh, Joan, such a presentiment is a dreadful
thing--it takes one's peace and courage all away. Cast it from
you!--drive it out! It will make your whole night miserable, and to
no good; for we will hope--"
"But it isn't a presentiment--it is a fact. And it will not make me
miserable. It is uncertainties that do that, but this is not an
"Joan, do you know it is going to happen?"
"Yes, I know it. My Voices told me."
"Ah," said Catherine, resignedly, "if they told you-- But are you
sure it was they?--quite sure?"
"Yes, quite. It will happen--there is no doubt."
"It is dreadful! Since when have you know it?"
"Since--I think it is several weeks." Joan turned to me. "Louis,
you will remember. How long is it?"
"Your Excellency spoke of it first to the King, in Chinon," I
answered; "that was as much as seven weeks ago. You spoke of it again
the 20th of April, and also the 22d, two weeks ago, as I see by my
These marvels disturbed Catherine profoundly, but I had long
ceased to be surprised at them. One can get used to anything in this
world. Catherine said:
"And it is to happen to-morrow?--always to-morrow? Is it the same
date always? There has been no mistake, and no confusion?"
"No," Joan said, "the 7th of May is the date--there is no other."
"Then you shall not go a step out of this house till that awful day
is gone by! You will not dream of it, Joan, will you?--promise that
you will stay with us."
But Joan was not persuaded. She said:
"It would not help the matter, dear good friend. The wound is to
come, and come to-morrow. If I do not seek it, it will seek me. My
duty calls me to that place to-morrow; I should have to go if my
death were waiting for me there; shall I stay away for only a wound?
Oh, no, we must try to do better than that."
"Then you are determined to go?"
"Of a certainty, yes. There is only one thing that I can do for
France--hearten her soldiers for battle and victory." She thought a
moment, then added, "However, one should not be unreasonable, and I
would do much to please you, who are so good to me. Do you love
I wondered what she might be contriving now, but I saw no clue.
Catherine said, reproachfully:
"Ah, what have I done to deserve this question?"
"Then you do love France. I had not doubted it, dear. Do not be
hurt, but answer me--have you ever told a lie?"
"In my life I have not wilfully told a lie--fibs, but no lies."
"That is sufficient. You love France and do not tell lies;
therefore I will trust you. I will go or I will stay, as you shall
"Oh, I thank you from my heart, Joan! How good and dear it is of
you to do this for me! Oh, you shall stay, and not go!"
In her delight she flung her arms about Joan's neck and squandered
endearments upon her the least of which would have made me rich, but,
as it was, they only made me realize how poor I was--how miserably
poor in what I would most have prized in this world. Joan said:
"Then you will send word to my headquarters that I am not going?"
"Oh, gladly. Leave that to me."
"It is good of you. And how will you word it?--for it must have
proper official form. Shall I word it for you?"
"Oh, do--for you know about these solemn procedures and stately
proprieties, and I have had no experience."
"Then word it like this: 'The chief of staff is commanded to make
known to the King's forces in garrison and in the field, that the
General-in-Chief of the Armies of France will not face the English on
the morrow, she being afraid she may get hurt. Signed, JOAN OF ARC, by
the hand of CATHERINE BOUCHER, who loves France.'"
There was a pause--a silence of the sort that tortures one into
stealing a glance to see how the situation looks, and I did that.
There was a loving smile on Joan's face, but the color was mounting
in crimson waves into Catherine's, and her lips were quivering and the
tears gathering; then she said:
"Oh, I am so ashamed of myself!--and you are so noble and brave
and wise, and I am so paltry--so paltry and such a fool!" and she
broke down and began to cry, and I did so want to take her in my arms
and comfort her, but Joan did it, and of course I said nothing. Joan
did it well, and most sweetly and tenderly, but I could have done it
as well, though I knew it would be foolish and out of place to suggest
such a thing, and might make an awkwardness, too, and be embarrassing
to us all, so I did not offer, and I hope I did right and for the
best, though I could not know, and was many times tortured with doubts
afterward as having perhaps let a chance pass which might have changed
all my life and made it happier and more beautiful than, alas, it
turned out to be. For this reason I grieve yet, when I think of that
scene, and do not like to call it up out of the deeps of my memory
because of the pangs it brings.
Well, well, a good and wholesome thing is a little harmless fun in
this world; it tones a body up and keeps him human and prevents him
from souring. To set that little trap for Catherine was as good and
effective a way as any to show her what a grotesque thing she was
asking of Joan. It was a funny idea now, wasn't it, when you look at
it all around? Even Catherine dried up her tears and laughed when she
thought of the English getting hold of the French Commander-in-Chief's
reason for staying out of a battle. She granted that they could have a
good time over a thing like that.
We got to work on the letter again, and of course did not have to
strike out the passage about the wound. Joan was in fine spirits; but
when she got to sending messages to this, that, and the other playmate
and friend, it brought our village and the Fairy Tree and the flowery
plain and the browsing sheep and all the peaceful beauty of our old
humble home-place back, and the familiar names began to tremble on her
lips; and when she got to Haumette and Little Mengette it was no use,
her voice broke and she couldn't go on. She waited a moment, then
"Give them my love--my warm love--my deep love--oh, out of my
heart of hearts! I shall never see our home any more."
Now came Pasquerel, Joan's confessor, and introduced a gallant
knight, the Sire de Rais, who had been sent with a message. He said
he was instructed to say that the council had decided that enough had
been done for the present; that it would be safest and best to be
content with what God had already done; that the city was now well
victualed and able to stand a long siege; that the wise course must
necessarily be to withdraw the troops from the other side of the river
and resume the defensive--therfore they had decided accordingly.
"The incurable cowards!" exclaimed Joan. "So it was to get me away
from my men that they pretended so much solicitude about my fatigue.
Take this message back, not to the council--I have no speeches for
those disguised ladies' maids--but to the Bastard and La Hire, who are
men. Tell them the army is to remain where it is, and I hold them
responsible if this command miscarries. And say the offensive will be
resumed in the morning. You may go, good sir."
Then she said to her priest:
"Rise early, and be by me all the day. There will be much work on
my hands, and I shall be hurt between my neck and my shoulder."
Chapter 22 The Fate of France Decided
WE WERE up at dawn, and after mass we started. In the hall we met
the master of the house, who was grieved, good man, to see Joan going
breakfastless to such a day's work, and begged her to wait and eat,
but she couldn't afford the time--that is to say, she couldn't afford
the patience, she being in such a blaze of anxiety to get at that last
remaining bastille which stood between her and the completion of the
first great step in the rescue and redemption of France. Boucher put
in another plea:
"But think--we poor beleaguered citizens who have hardly known the
flavor of fish for these many months, have spoil of that sort again,
and we owe it to you. There's a noble shad for breakfast; wait--be
"Oh, there's going to be fish in plenty; when this day's work is
done the whole river-front will be yours to do as you please with."
"Ah, your Excellency will do well, that I know; but we don't
require quite that much, even of you; you shall have a month for it
in place of a day. Now be beguiled--wait and eat. There's a saying
that he that would cross a river twice in the same day in a boat,
will do well to eat fish for luck, lest he have an accident."
"That doesn't fit my case, for to-day I cross but once in a boat."
"Oh, don't say that. Aren't you coming back to us?"
"Yes, but not in a boat."
"By the bridge."
"Listen to that--by the bridge! Now stop this jesting, dear
General, and do as I would have done you. It's a noble fish."
"Be good then, and save me some for supper; and I will bring one
of those Englishmen with me and he shall have his share."
"Ah, well, have your way if you must. But he that fasts must
attempt but little and stop early. When shall you be back?"
"When we've raised the siege of Orleans. FORWARD!"
We were off. The streets were full of citizens and of groups and
squads of soldiers, but the spectacle was melancholy. There was not a
smile anywhere, but only universal gloom. It was as if some vast
calamity had smitten all hope and cheer dead. We were not used to
this, and were astonished. But when they saw the Maid, there was an
immediate stir, and the eager question flew from mouth to mouth.
"Where is she going? Whither is she bound?"
Joan heard it, and called out:
"Whither would ye suppose? I am going to take the Tourelles."
It would not be possible for any to describe how those few words
turned that mourning into joy--into exaltation--into frenzy; and how
a storm of huzzas burst out and swept down the streets in every
direction and woke those corpselike multitudes to vivid life and
action and turmoil in a moment. The soldiers broke from the crowd and
came flocking to our standard, and many of the citizens ran and got
pikes and halberds and joined us. As we moved on, our numbers
increased steadily, and the hurrahing continued--yes, we moved through
a solid cloud of noise, as you may say, and all the windows on both
sides contributed to it, for they were filled with excited people.
You see, the council had closed the Burgundy gate and placed a
strong force there, under that stout soldier Raoul de Gaucourt,
Bailly of Orleans, with orders to prevent Joan from getting out and
resuming the attack on the Tourelles, and this shameful thing had
plunged the city into sorrow and despair. But that feeling was gone
now. They believed the Maid was a match for the council, and they
When we reached the gate, Joan told Gaucourt to open it and let
He said it would be impossible to do this, for his orders were from
the council and were strict. Joan said:
"There is no authority above mine but the King's. If you have an
order from the King, produce it."
"I cannot claim to have an order from him, General."
"Then make way, or take the consequences!"
He began to argue the case, for he was like the rest of the tribe,
always ready to fight with words, not acts; but in the midst of his
gabble Joan interrupted with the terse order:
We came with a rush, and brief work we made of that small job. It
was good to see the Bailly's surprise. He was not used to this
unsentimental promptness. He said afterward that he was cut off in
the midst of what he was saying--in the midst of an argument by which
he could have proved that he could not let Joan pass--an argument
which Joan could not have answered.
"Still, it appears she did answer it," said the person he was
We swung through the gate in great style, with a vast accession of
noise, the most of which was laughter, and soon our van was over the
river and moving down against the Tourelles.
First we must take a supporting work called a boulevard, and which
was otherwise nameless, before we could assault the great bastille.
Its rear communicated with the bastille by a drawbridge, under which
ran a swift and deep strip of the Loire. The boulevard was strong, and
Dunois doubted our ability to take it, but Joan had no such doubt. She
pounded it with artillery all the forenoon, then about noon she
ordered an assault and led it herself. We poured into the fosse
through the smoke and a tempest of missiles, and Joan, shouting
encouragements to her men, started to climb a scaling-ladder, when
that misfortune happened which we knew was to happen--the iron bolt
from an arbalest struck between her neck and her shoulder, and tore
its way down through her armor. When she felt the sharp pain and saw
her blood gushing over her breast, she was frightened, poor girl, and
as she sank to the ground she began to cry bitterly.
The English sent up a glad shout and came surging down in strong
force to take her, and then for a few minutes the might of both
adversaries was concentrated upon that spot. Over her and above her,
English and French fought with desperation--for she stood for France,
indeed she was France to both sides--whichever won her won France, and
could keep it forever. Right there in that small spot, and in ten
minutes by the clock, the fate of France, for all time, was to be
decided, and was decided.
If the English had captured Joan then, Charles VII. would have
flown the country, the Treaty of Troyes would have held good, and
France, already English property, would have become, without further
dispute, an English province, to so remain until Judgment Day. A
nationality and a kingdom were at stake there, and no more time to
decide it in than it takes to hard-boil an egg. It was the most
momentous ten minutes that the clock has ever ticked in France, or
ever will. Whenever you read in histories about hours or days or weeks
in which the fate of one or another nation hung in the balance, do not
you fail to remember, nor your French hearts to beat the quicker for
the remembrance, the ten minutes that France, called otherwise Joan of
Arc, lay bleeding in the fosse that day, with two nations struggling
over her for her possession.
And you will not forget the Dwarf. For he stood over her, and did
the work of any six of the others. He swung his ax with both hands;
whenever it came down, he said those two words, "For France!" and a
splintered helmet flew like eggshells, and the skull that carried it
had learned its manners and would offend the French no more. He piled
a bulwark of iron-clad dead in front of him and fought from behind it;
and at last when the victory was ours we closed about him, shielding
him, and he ran up a ladder with Joan as easily as another man would
carry a child, and bore her out of the battle, a great crowd following
and anxious, for she was drenched with blood to her feet, half of it
her own and the other half English, for bodies had fallen across her
as she lay and had poured their red life-streams over her. One
couldn't see the white armor now, with that awful dressing over it.
The iron bolt was still in the wound--some say it projected out
behind the shoulder. It may be--I did not wish to see, and did not
try to. It was pulled out, and the pain made Joan cry again, poor
thing. Some say she pulled it out herself because others refused,
saying they could not bear to hurt her. As to this I do not know; I
only know it was pulled out, and that the wound was treated with oil
and properly dressed.
Joan lay on the grass, weak and suffering, hour after hour, but
still insisting that the fight go on. Which it did, but not to much
purpose, for it was only under her eye that men were heroes and not
afraid. They were like the Paladin; I think he was afraid of his
shadow--I mean in the afternoon, when it was very big and long; but
when he was under Joan's eye and the inspiration of her great spirit,
what was he afraid of? Nothing in this world--and that is just the
Toward night Dunois gave it up. Joan heard the bugles.
"What!" she cried. "Sounding the retreat!"
Her wound was forgotten in a moment. She countermanded the order,
and sent another, to the officer in command of a battery, to stand
ready to fire five shots in quick successin. This was a signal to the
force on the Orleans side of the river under La Hire, who was not, as
some of the histories say, with us. It was to be given whenever Joan
should feel sure the boulevard was about to fall into her hands--then
that force must make a counter-attack on the Tourelles by way of the
Joan mounted her horse now, with her staff about her, and when our
people saw us coming they raised a great shout, and were at once eager
for another assault on the boulevard. Joan rode straight to the fosse
where she had received her wound, and standing there in the rain of
bolts and arrows, she ordered the Paladin to let her long standard
blow free, and to note when its fringes should touch the fortress.
Presently he said:
"Now, then," said Joan to the waiting battalions, "the place is
yours--enter in! Bugles, sound the assault! Now, then--all
And go it was. You never saw anything like it. We swarmed up the
ladders and over the battlements like a wave--and the place was our
property. Why, one might live a thousand years and never see so
gorgeous a thing as that again. There, hand to hand, we fought like
wild beasts, for there was no give-up to those English--there was no
way to convince one of those people but to kill him, and even then he
doubted. At least so it was thought, in those days, and maintained by
We were busy and never heard the five cannonshots fired, but they
were fired a moment after Joan had ordered the assault; and so, while
we were hammering and being hammerd in the smaller fortress, the
reserve on the Orleans side poured across the bridge and attacked the
Tourelles from that side. A fire-boat was brought down and moored
under the drawbridge which connected the Tourelles with our boulevard;
wherefore, when at last we drove our English ahead of us and they
tried to cross that drawbridge and join their friends in the
Tourelles, the burning timbers gave way under them and emptied them in
a mass into the river in their heavy armor--and a pitiful sight it was
to see brave men die such a death as that.
"Ah, God pity them!" said Joan, and wept to see that sorrowful
spectacle. She said those gentle words and wept those compassionate
tears although one of those perishing men had grossly insulted her
with a coarse name three days before, when she had sent him a message
asking him to surrender. That was their leader, Sir Williams Glasdale,
a most valorous knight. He was clothed all in steel; so he plunged
under water like a lance, and of course came up no more.
We soon patched a sort of bridge together and threw ourselves
against the last stronghold of the English power that barred Orleans
from friends and supplies. Before the sun was quite down, Joan's
forever memorable day's work was finished, her banner floated from the
fortress of the Tourelles, her promise was fulfilled, she had raised
the siege of Orleans!
The seven months' beleaguerment was ended, the thing which the
first generals of France had called impossible was accomplished; in
spite of all that the King's ministers and war-councils could do to
prevent it, this little country-maid at seventeen had carried her
immortal task through, and had done it in four days!
Good news travels fast, sometimes, as well as bad. By the time we
were ready to start homeward by the bridge the whole city of Orleans
was one red flame of bonfires, and the heavens blushed with
satisfaction to see it; and the booming and bellowing of cannon and
the banging of bells surpassed by great odds anything that even
Orleans had attempted before in the way of noise.
When we arrived--well, there is no describing that. Why, those
acres of people that we plowed through shed tears enough to raise the
river; there was not a face in the glare of those fires that hadn't
tears streaming down it; and if Joan's feet had not been protected by
iron they would have kissed them off of her. "Welcome! welcome to the
Maid of Orleans!" That was the cry; I heard it a hundred thousand
times. "Welcome to our Maid!" some of them worded it.
No other girl in all history has ever reached such a summit of
glory as Joan of Arc reached that day. And do you think it turned her
head, and that she sat up to enjoy that delicious music of homage and
applause? No; another girl would have done that, but not this one.
That was the greatest heart and the simplest that ever beat. She went
straight to bed and to sleep, like any tired child; and when the
people found she was wounded and would rest, they shut off all passage
and traffic in that region and stood guard themselves the whole night
through, to see that he slumbers were not disturbed. They said, "She
has given us peace, she shall have peace herself."
All knew that that region would be empty of English next day, and
all said that neither the present citizens nor their posterity would
ever cease to hold that day sacred to the memory of Joan of Arc. That
word has been true for more than sixty years; it will continue so
always. Orleans will never forget the 8th of May, nor ever fail to
celebrate it. It is Joan of Arc's day--and holy. 
 It is still celebrated every year with civic and military pomps
and solemnities. -- TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 23 Joan Inspires the Tawdry King
IN THE earliest dawn of morning, Talbot and his English forces
evacuated their bastilles and marched away, not stopping to burn,
destroy, or carry off anything, but leaving their fortresses just as
they were, provisioned, armed, and equipped for a long siege. It was
difficult for the people to believe that this great thing had really
happened; that they were actually free once more, and might go and
come through any gate they pleased, with none to molest or forbid;
that the terrible Talbot, that scourge of the French, that man whose
mere name had been able to annul the effectiveness of French armies,
was gone, vanished, retreating--driven away by a girl.
The city emptied itself. Out of every gate the crowds poured. They
swarmed about the English bastilles like an invasion of ants, but
noisier than those creatures, and carried off the artillery and
stores, then turned all those dozen fortresses into monster bonfires,
imitation volcanoes whose lofty columns of thick smoke seemed
supporting the arch of the sky.
The delight of the children took another form. To some of the
younger ones seven months was a sort of lifetime. They had forgotten
what grass was like, and the velvety green meadows seemed paradise to
their surprised and happy eyes after the long habit of seeing nothing
but dirty lanes and streets. It was a wonder to them--those spacious
reaches of open country to run and dance and tumble and frolic in,
after their dull and joyless captivity; so they scampered far and wide
over the fair regions on both sides of the river, and came back at
eventide weary, but laden with flowers and flushed with new health
drawn from the fresh country air and the vigorous exercise.
After the burnings, the grown folk followed Joan from church to
church and put in the day in thanksgivings for the city's
deliverance, and at night they fˆted her and her generals and
illuminated the town, and high and low gave themselves up to
festivities and rejoicings. By the time the populace were fairly in
bed, toward dawn, we wer ein the saddle and away toward Tours to
report to the King.
That was a march which would have turned any one's head but
Joan's. We moved between emotional ranks of grateful country-people
all the way. They crowded about Joan to touch her feet, her horse, her
armor, and they even knelt in the road and kissed her horse's
The land was full of her praises. The most illustrious cheifs of
the church wrote to the King extolling the Maid, comparing her to the
saints and heroes of the Bible, and warning him not to let "unbelief,
ingratitude, or other injustice" hinder or impair the divine help sent
through her. One might think there was a touch of prophecy in that,
and we will let it go at that; but to my mind it had its inspiration
in those great men's accurate knowledge of the King's trivial and
The King had come to Tours to meet Joan. At the present day this
poor thing is called Charles the Victorious, on account of victories
which other people won for him, but in our time we had a private name
for him which described him better, and was sanctified to him by
personal deserving--Charles the Base. When we entered the presence he
sat throned, with his tinseled snobs and dandies around him. He looked
like a forked carrot, so tightly did his clothing fit him from his
waist down; he wore shoes with a rope-like pliant toe a foot long that
had to be hitched up to the knee to keep it out of the way; he had on
a crimson velvet cape that came no lower than his elbows; on his head
he had a tall felt thing like a thimble, with a feather it its jeweled
band that stuck up like a pen from an inkhorn, and from under that
thimble his bush of stiff hair stuck down to his shoulders, curving
outward at the bottom, so that the cap and the hair together made the
head like a shuttlecock. All the materials of his dress were rich, and
all the colors brilliant. In his lap he cuddled a miniature greyhound
that snarled, lifting its lip and showing its white teeth whenever any
slight movement disturbed it. The King's dandies were dressed in
about the same fashion as himself, and when I remembered that Joan
had called the war-council of Orleans "disguised ladies' maids," it
reminded me of people who squander all their money on a trifle and
then haven't anything to invest when they come across a better chance;
that name ought to have been saved for these creatures.
Joan fell on her knees before the majesty of France, and the other
frivolous animal in his lap--a sight which it pained me to see. What
had that man done for his country or for anybody in it, that she or
any other person should kneel to him? But she--she had just done the
only great deed that had been done for France in fifty years, and had
consecrated it with the libation of her blood. The positions should
have been reversed.
However, to be fair, one must grant that Charles acquitted himself
very well for the most part, on that occasion--very much better than
he was in the habit of doing. He passed his pup to a courtier, and
took off his cap to Joan as if she had been a queen. Then he stepped
from his throne and raised her, and showed quite a spirited and manly
joy and gratitude in welcoming her and thanking her for her
extraordinary achievement in his service. My prejudices are of a later
date than that. If he had continued as he was at that moment, I should
not have acquired them.
He acted handsomely. He said:
"You shall not kneel to me, my matchless General; you have wrought
royally, and royal courtesies are your due." Noticing that she was
pale, he said, "But you must not stand; you have lost blood for
France, and your wound is yet green--come." He led her to a seat and
sat down by her. "Now, then, speak out frankly, as to one who owes you
much and freely confesses it before all this courtly assemblage. What
shall be your reward? Name it."
I was ashamed of him. And yet that was not fair, for how could he
be expected to know this marvelous child in these few weeks, when we
who thought we had known her all her life were daily seeing the clouds
uncover some new altitudes of her character whose existence was not
suspected by us before? But we are all that way: when we know a thing
we have only scorn for other people who don't happen to know it. And I
was ashamed of these courtiers, too, for the way they licked their
chops, so to speak, as envying Joan her great chance, they not knowing
her any better than the King did. A blush began to rise in Joan's
cheeks at the thought that she was working for her country for pay,
and she dropped her head and tried to hide her face, as girls always
do when they find themselves blushing; no one knows why they do, but
they do, and the more they blush the more they fail to get reconciled
to it, and the more they can't bear to have people look at them when
they are doing it. The King made it a great deal worse by calling
attention to it, which is the unkindest thing a person can do when a
girl is blushing; sometimes, when there is a big crowd of strangers,
it is even likely to make her cry if she is as young as Joan was. God
knows the reason for this, it is hidden from men. As for me, I would
as soon blush as sneeze; in fact, I would rather. However, these
meditations are not of consequence: I will go on with what I was
saying. The King rallied her for blushing, and this brought up the
rest of the blood and turned her face to fire. Then he was sorry,
seeing what he had done, and tried to make her comfortable by saying
the blush was exceeding becoming to her and not to mind it--which
caused even the dog to notice it now, so of course the red in Joan's
face turned to purple, and the tears overflowed and ran down--I could
have told anybody that that would happen. The King was distressed, and
saw that the best thing to do would be to get away from this subject,
so he began to say the finest kind of things about Joan's capture of
the Tourelles, and presently when she was more composed he mentioned
the reward again and pressed her to name it. Everybody listened with
anxious interest to hear what her claim was going to be, but when her
answer came their faces showed that the thing she asked for was not
what they had been expecting.
"Oh, dear and gracious Dauphin, I have but one desire--only one.
"Do not be afraid, my child--name it."
"That you will not delay a day. My army is strong and valiant, and
eager to finish its work--march with me to Rheims and receive your
crown." You could see the indolent King shrink, in his butterfly
"To Rheims--oh, impossible, my General! We march through the heart
of England's power?"
Could those be French faces there? Not one of them lighted in
response to the girl's brave proposition, but all promptly showed
satisfaction in the King's objection. Leave this silken idleness for
the rude contact of war? None of these butterflies desired that. They
passed their jeweled comfit-boxes one to another and whispered their
content in the head butterfly's practical prudence. Joan pleaded with
the King, saying:
"Ah, I pray you do not throw away this perfect opportunity.
Everything is favorable--everything. It is as if the circumstances
were specially made for it. The spirits of our army are exalted with
victory, those of the English forces depressed by defeat. Delay will
change this. Seeing us hesitate to follow up our advantage, our men
will wonder, doubt, lose confidence, and the English will wonder,
gather courage, and be bold again. Now is the time--pritheee let us
The King shook his head, and La Tremouille, being asked for an
opinion, eagerly furnished it:
"Sire, all prudence is against it. Think of the English strongholds
along the Loire; think of those that lie between us and Rheims!"
He was going on, but Joan cut him short, and said, turning to him:
"If we wait, they will all be strengthened, reinforced. Will that
"Then what is your suggestion?--what is it that you would propose
"My judgment is to wait."
"Wait for what?"
The minister was obliged to hesitate, for he knew of no
explanation that would sound well. Moreover, he was not used to being
catechized in this fashion, with the eyes of a crowd of people on him,
so he was irritated, and said:
"Matters of state are not proper matters for public discussion."
Joan said placidly:
"I have to beg your pardon. My trespass came of ignorance. I did
not know that matters connected with your department of the
government were matters of state."
The minister lifted his brows in amused surprise, and said, with a
touch of sarcasm:
"I am the King's chief minister, and yet you had the impression
that matters connected with my department are not matters of state?
Pray, how is that?"
Joan replied, indifferently:
"Because there is no state."
"No, sir, there is no state, and no use for a minister. France is
shrunk to a couple of acres of ground; a sheriff's constable could
take care of it; its affairs are not matters of state. The term is too
The King did not blush, but burst into a hearty, careless laugh,
and the court laughed too, but prudently turned its head and did it
silently. La Tremouille was angry, and opened his mouth to speak, but
the King put up his hand, and said:
"There--I take her under the royal protection. She has spoken the
truth, the ungilded truth--how seldom I hear it! With all this tinsel
on me and all this tinsel about me, I am but a sheriff after all--a
poor shabby two-acre sheriff--and you are but a constable," and he
laughed his cordial laugh again. "Joan, my frank, honest General,
will you name your reward? I would ennoble you. You shall quarter the
crown and the lilies of France for blazon, and with them your
victorious sword to defend them--speak the word."
It made an eager buzz of surprise and envy in the assemblage, but
Joan shook her head and said:
"Ah, I cannot, dear and noble Dauphin. To be allowed to work for
France, to spend one's self for France, is itself so supreme a reward
that nothing can add to it--nothing. Give me the one reward I ask,
the dearest of all rewards, the highest in your gift--march with me
to Rheims and receive your crown. I will beg it on my knees."
But the King put his hand on her arm, and there was a really brave
awakening in his voice and a manly fire in his eye when he said:
"No, sit. You have conquered me--it shall be as you--"
But a warning sign from his minister halted him, and he added, to
the relief of the court:
"Well, well, we will think of it, we will think it over and see.
Does that content you, impulsive little soldier?"
The first part of the speech sent a glow of delight to Joan's face,
but the end of it quenched it and she looked sad, and the tears
gathered in her eyes. After a moment she spoke out with what seemed a
sort of terrified impulse, and said:
"Oh, use me; I beseech you, use me--there is but little time!"
"But little time?"
"Only a year--I shall last only a year."
"Why, child, there are fifty good years in that compact little body
"Oh, you err, indeed you do. In one little year the end will come.
Ah, the time is so short, so short; the moments are flying, and so
much to be done. Oh, use me, and quickly--it is life or death for
Even those insects were sobered by her impassioned words. The King
looked very grave--grave, and strongly impressed. His eyes lit
suddenly with an eloquent fire, and he rose and drew his sword and
raised it aloft; then he brought it slowly down upon Joan's shoulder
"Ah, thou art so simple, so true, so great, so noble--and by this
accolade I join thee to the nobility of France, thy fitting place! And
for thy sake I do hereby ennoble all thy family and all thy kin; and
all their descendants born in wedlock, not only in the male but also
in the female line. And more!--more! To distinguish thy house and
honor it above all others, we add a privilege never accorded to any
before in the history of these dominions: the females of thy line
shall have and hold the right to ennoble their husbands when these
shall be of inferior degree." [Astonishment and envy flared up in
every countenance when the words were uttered which conferred this
extraordinary grace. The King paused and looked around upon these
signs with quite evident satisfaction.] "Rise, Joan of Arc, now and
henceforth surnamed Du Lis, in grateful acknowledgment of the good
blow which you have struck for the lilies of France; and they, and the
royal crown, and your own victorious sword, fit and fair company for
each other, shall be grouped in you escutcheon and be and remain the
symbol of your high nobility forever."
As my Lady Du Lis rose, the gilded children of privilege pressed
forward to welcome her to their sacred ranks and call her by her new
name; but she was troubled, and said these honors were not meet for
one of her lowly birth and station, and by their kind grace she would
remain simple Joan of Arc, nothing more--and so be called.
Nothing more! As if there could be anything more, anything higher,
anything greater. My Lady Du Lis--why, it was tinsel, petty,
perishable. But, JOAN OF ARC! The mere sound of it sets one's pulses
Chapter 24 Tinsel Trappings of Nobility
IT WAS vexatious to see what a to-do the whole town, and next the
whole country, made over the news. Joan of Arc ennobled by the King!
People went dizzy with wonder and delight over it. You cannot imagine
how she was gaped at, stared at, envied. Why, one would have supposed
that some great and fortunate thing had happened to her. But we did
not think any great things of it. To our minds no mere human hand
could add a glory to Joan of Arc. To us she was the sun soaring in the
heavens, and her new nobility a candle atop of it; to us it was
swallowed up and lost in her own light. And she was as indifferent to
it and as unconscious of it as the other sun would have been.
But it was different with her brothers. They were proud and happy
in their new dignity, which was quite natural. And Joan was glad it
had been conferred, when she saw how pleased they were. It was a
clever thought in the King to outflank her scruples by marching on
them under shelter of her love for her family and her kin.
Jean and Pierre sported their coats-of-arms right away; and their
society was courted by everybody, the nobles and commons alike. The
Standard-Bearer said, with some touch of bitterness, that he could see
that they just felt good to be alive, they were so soaked with the
comfort of their glory; and didn't like to sleep at all, because when
they were asleep they didn't know they were noble, and so sleep was a
clean loss of time. And then he said:
"They can't take precedence of me in military functions and state
ceremonies, but when it comes to civil ones and society affairs I
judge they'll cuddle coolly in behind you and the knights, and Noael
and I will have to walk behind them--hey?"
"Yes," I said, "I think you are right."
"I was just afraid of it--just afraid of it," said the
Standard-Bearer, with a sigh. "Afraid of it? I'm talking like a fool;
of course I knew it. Yes, I was talking like a fool."
Noael Rainguesson said, musingly:
"Yes, I noticed something natural about the tone of it."
We others laughed.
"Oh, you did, did you? You think you are very clever, don't you?
I'll take and wring your neck for you one of these days, Noael
The Sieur de Metz said:
"Paladin, your fears haven't reached the top notch. They are away
below the grand possibilities. Didn't it occur to you that in civil
and society functions they will take precedence of all the rest of
the personal staff--every one of us?"
"You'll find it's so. Look at their escutcheon. Its chiefest
feature is the lilies of France. It's royal, man, royal--do you
understand the size of that? The lilies are there by authority of the
King--do you understand the size of that? Though not in detail and in
entirety, they do nevertheless substantially quarter the arms of
France in their coat. Imagine it! consider it! measure the magnitude
of it! We walk in front of those boys? Bless you, we've done that for
the last time. In my opinion there isn't a lay lord in this whole
region that can walk in front of them, except the Duke d'Alenon,
prince of the blood."
You could have knocked the Paladin down with a feather. He seemed
to actually turn pale. He worked his lips a moment without getting
anything out; then it came:
"I didn't know that, nor the half of it; how could I? I've been an
idiot. I see it now--I've been an idiot. I met them this morning, and
sung out hello to themjust as I would to anybody. I didn't mean to be
ill-mannered, but I didn't know the half of this that you've been
telling. I've been an ass. Yes, that is all there is to it--I've been
Noael Rainguesson said, in a kind of weary way:
"Yes, that is likely enough; but I don't see why you should seem
surprised at it."
"You don't, don't you? Well, why don't you?"
"Because I don't see any novelty about it. With some people it is a
condition which is present all the time. Now you take a condition
which is present all the time, and the results of that condition will
be uniform; this uniformity of result will in time become monotonous;
monotonousness, by the law of its being, is fatiguing. If you had
manifested fatigue upon noticing that you had been an ass, that would
have been logical, that would have been rational; whereas it seems to
me that to manifest surprise was to be again an ass, because the
condition of intellect that can enable a person to be surprised and
stirred by inert monotonousness is a--"
"Now that is enough, Noael Rainguesson; stop where you are, before
you get yourself into trouble. And don't bother me any more for some
days or a week an it please you, for I cannot abide your clack."
"Come, I like that! I didn't want to talk. I tried to get out of
talking. If you didn't want to hear my clack, what did you keep
intruding your conversation on me for?"
"I? I never dreamed of such a thing."
"Well, you did it, anyway. And I have a right to feel hurt, and I
do feel hurt, to have you treat me so. It seems to me that when a
person goads, and crowds, and in a manner forces another person to
talk, it is neither very fair nor very good-mannered to call what he
"Oh, snuffle--do! and break your heart, you poor thing. Somebody
fetch this sick doll a sugar-rag. Look you, Sir Jean de Metz, do you
feel absolutely certain about that thing?"
"Why, that Jean and Pierre are going to take precedence of all the
lay noblesse hereabouts except the Duke d'Alenon?"
"I think there is not a doubt of it."
The Standard-Bearer was deep in thoughts and dreams a few moments,
then the silk-and-velvet expanse of his vast breast rose and fell with
a sigh, and he said:
"Dear, dear, what a lift it is! It just shows what luck can do.
Well, I don't care. I shouldn't care to be a painted accident--I
shouldn't value it. I am prouder to have climbed up to where I am just
by sheer natural merit than I would be to ride the very sun in the
zenith and have to reflect that I was nothing but a poor little
accident, and got shot up there out of somebody else's catapult. To
me, merit is everything--in fact, the only thing. All else is dross."
Just then the bugles blew the assembly, and that cut our talk
Chapter 25 At Last--Forward!
THE DAYS began to waste away--and nothing decided,nothing done.
The army was full of zeal, but it was also hungry. It got no pay, the
treasury was getting empty, it was becoming impossible to feed it;
under pressure of privation it began to fall apart and disperse--which
pleased the trifling court exceedingly. Joan's distress was pitiful to
see. She was obliged to stand helpless while her victorious army
dissolved away until hardly the skeleton of it was left.
At last one day she went to the Castle of Loches, where the King
was idling. She found him consulting with three of his councilors,
Robert le Maon, a former Chancellor of France, Christophe
d'Harcourt, and Gerard Machet. The Bastard of Orleans was present
also, and it is through him that we know what happened. Joan threw
herself at the King's feet and embraced his knees, saying:
"Noble Dauphin, prithee hold no more of these long and numerous
councils, but come, and come quickly, to Rheims and receive your
Christophe d'Harcourt asked:
"Is it your Voices that command you to say that to the King?"
"Yes, and urgently."
"Then will you not tell us in the King's presence in what way the
Voices communicate with you?"
It was another sly attempt to trap Joan into indiscreet admissions
and dangerous pretensions. But nothing came of it. Joan's answer was
simple and straightforward, and the smooth Bishop was not able to find
any fault with it. She said that when she met with people who doubted
the truth of her mission she went aside and prayed, complaining of the
distrust of these, and then the comforting Voices were heard at her
ear saying, soft and low, "Go forward, Daughter of God, and I will
help thee." Then she added, "When I hear that, the joy in my heart,
oh, it is insupportable!"
The Bastard said that when she said these words her face lit up as
with a flame, and she was like one in an ecstasy.
Joan pleaded, persuaded, reasoned; gaining ground little by little,
but opposed step by step by the council. She begged, she implored,
leave to march. When they could answer nothing further, they granted
that perhaps it had been a mistake to let the army waste away, but how
could we help it now? how could we march without an army?
"Raise one!" said Joan.
"But it will take six weeks."
"No matter--begin! let us begin!"
"It is too late. Without doubt the Duke of Bedford has been
gathering troops to push to the succor of his strongholds on the
"Yes, while we have been disbanding ours--and pity 'tis. But we
must throw away no more time; we must bestir ourselves."
The King objected that he could not venture toward Rheims with
those strong places on the Loire in his path. But Joan said:
"We will break them up. Then you can march."
With that plan the King was willing to venture assent. He could sit
around out of danger while the road was being cleared.
Joan came back in great spirits. Straightway everything was
stirring. Proclamations were issued calling for men, a
recruiting-camp was established at Selles in Berry, and the commons
and the nobles began to flock to it with enthusiasm.
A deal of the month of May had been wasted; and yet by the 6th of
June Joan had swept together a new army and was ready to march. She
had eight thousand men. Think of that. Think of gathering together
such a body as that in that little region. And these were veteran
soldiers, too. In fact, most of the men in France were soldiers, when
you came to that; for the wars had lasted generations now. Yes, most
Frenchmen were soldiers; and admirable runners, too, both by practice
and inheritance; they had done next to nothing but run for near a
century. But that was not their fault. They had had no fair and proper
leadership--at least leaders with a fair and proper chance. Away back,
King and Court got the habit of being treacherous to the leaders; then
the leaders easily got the habit of disobeying the King and going
their own way, each for himself and nobody for the lot. Nobody could
win victories that way. Hence, running became the habit of the French
troops, and no wonder. Yet all that those troops needed in order to
be good fighters was a leader who would attend strictly to
business--a leader with all authority in his hands in place of a tenth
of it along with nine other generals equipped with an equal tenth
apiece. They had a leader rightly clothed with authority now, and
with a head and heart bent on war of the most intensely businesslike
and earnest sort--and there would be results. No doubt of that. They
had Joan of Arc; and under that leadership their legs would lose the
art and mystery of running.
Yes, Joan was in great spirits. She was here and there and
everywhere, all over the camp, by day and by night, pushing things.
And wherever she came charging down the lines, reviewing the troops,
it was good to hear them break out and cheer. And nobody could help
cheering, she was such a vision of young bloom and beauty and grace,
and such an incarnation of pluck and life and go! she was growing more
and more ideally beautiful every day, as was plain to be seen--and
these were days of development; for she was well past seventeen
now--in fact, she was getting close upon seventeen and a half--indeed,
just a little woman, as you may say.
The two young Counts de Laval arrived one day--fine young fellows
allied to the greatest and most illustrious houses of France; and they
could not rest till they had seen Joan of Arc. So the King sent for
them and presented them to her, and you may believe she filled the
bill of their expectations. When they heard that rich voice of hers
they must have thought it was a flute; and when they saw her deep eyes
and her face, and the soul that looked out of that face, you could see
that the sight of her stirred them like a poem, like lofty eloquence,
like martial music. One of them wrote home to his people, and in his
letter he said, "It seemed something divine to see her and hear her."
Ah, yes, and it was a true word. Truer word was never spoken.
He saw her when she was ready to begin her march and open the
campaign, and this is what he said about it:
"She was clothed all in white armor save her head, and in her hand
she carried a little battle-ax; and when she was ready to mount her
great black horse he reared and plunged and would not let her. Then
she said, 'Lead him to the cross.' This cross was in front of the
church close by. So they led him there. Then she mounted, and he never
budged, any more than if he had been tied. Then she turned toward the
door of the church and said, in her soft womanly voice, 'You, priests
and people of the Church, make processions and pray to God for us!'
Then she spurred away, under her standard, with her little ax in her
hand, crying 'Forward--march!' One of her brothers, who came eight
days ago, departed with her; and he also was clad all in white armor."
I was there, and I saw it, too; saw it all, just as he pictures it.
And I see it yet--the little battle-ax, the dainty plumed cap, the
white armor--all in the soft June afternoon; I see it just as if it
were yesterday. And I rode with the staff--the personal stdaff--the
staff of Joan of Arc.
That young count was dying to go, too, but the King held him back
for the present. But Joan had made him a promise. In his letter he
"She told me that when the King starts for Rheims I shall go with
him. But God grant I may not have to wait till then, but may have a
part in the battles!"
She made him that promise when she was taking leave of my lady the
Duchess d'Alenon. The duchess was exacting a promise, so it seemed a
proper ttime for others to do the like. The duchess was troubled for
her husband, for she foresaw desperate fighting; and she held Joan to
her breast, and stroked her hair lovingly, and said:
"You must watch over him, dear, and take care of him, and send him
back to me safe. I require it of you; I will not let you go till you
"I give you the promise with all my heart; and it is not just
words, it is a promise; you shall have him back without a hurt. Do you
believe? And are you satisfied with me now?"
The duchess could not speak, but she kissed Joan on the forehead;
and so they parted.
We left on the 6th and stopped over at Romorantin; then on the 9th
Joan entered Orleans in state, under triumphal arches, with the
welcoming cannon thundering and seas of welcoming flags fluttering in
the breeze. The Grand Staff rode with her, clothed in shining
splendors of costume and decorations: the Duke d'Alenon; the Bastard
of Orleans; the Sire de Boussac, Marshal of France; the Lord de
Graville, Master of the Crossbowmen; the Sire de Culan, Admiral of
France; Ambroise de Lore; tienne de Vignoles, called La Hire; Gautier
de Brusac, and other illustrious captains.
It was grand times; the usual shoutings and packed multitudes, the
usual crush to get sight of Joan; but at last we crowded through to
our old lodgings, and I saw old Boucher and the wife and that dear
Catherine gather Joan to their hearts and smother her with
kisses--and my heart ached tterso! for I could have kissed Catherine
better than anybody, and more and longer; yet was not thought of for
that office, and I so famished for it. Ah, she was so beautiful, and
oh, so sweet! I had loved her the first day I ever saw her, and from
that day forth she was sacred to me. I have carried her image in my
heart for sixty-three years--all lonely thee, yes, solitary, for it
never has had company--and I am grown so old, so old; but it, oh, it
is as fresh and young and merry and mischievous and lovely and sweet
and pure and witching and divine as it was when it crept in there,
bringing benediction and peace to its habitation so long ago, so long
ago--for it has not aged a day!
Chapter 26 The Last Doubts Scattered
THIS TIME, as before, the King's last command to the generals was
this: "See to it that you do nothing without the sanction of the
Maid." And this time the command was obeyed; and would continue to be
obeyed all through the coming great days of the Loire campaign.
That was a change! That was new! It broke the traditions. It shows
you what sort of a reputation as a commander-in-chief the child had
made for herself in ten days in the field. It was a conquering of
men's doubts and suspicions and a capturing and solidifying of men's
belief and confidence such as the grayest veteran on the Grand Staff
had not been able to achieve in thirty years. Don't you remember that
when at sixteen Joan conducted her own case in a grim court of law and
won it, the old judge spoke of her as "this marvelous child"? It was
the right name, you see.
These veterans were not going to branch out and do things without
the sanction of the Maid--that is true; and it was a great gain. But
at the same time there were some among them who still trembled at her
new and dashing war tactics and earnestly desired to modify them. And
so, during the 10th, while Joan was slaving away at her plans and
issuing order after order with tireless industry, the old-time
consultations and arguings and speechifyings were going on among
certain of the generals.
In the afternoon of that day they came in a body to hold one of
these councils of war; and while they waited for Joan to join them
they discussed the situation. Now this discussion is not set down in
the histories; but I was there, and I will speak of it, as knowing you
will trust me, I not being given to beguiling you with lies.
Gautier de Brusac was spokesman for the timid ones; Joan's side
was resolutely upheld by d'Alenon, the Bastard, La Hire, the Admiral
of France, the Marshal de Boussac, and all the other really important
De Brusac argued that the situation was very grave; that Jargeau,
the first point of attack, was formidably strong; its imposing walls
bristling with artillery; with seven thousand picked English veterans
behind them, and at their head the great Earl of Suffolk and his two
redoubtable brothers, the De la Poles. It seemed to him that the
proposal of Joan of Arc to try to take such a place by storm was a
most rash and over-daring idea, and she ought to be persuaded to
relinquish it in favor of the soberer and safer procedure of
investment by regular siege. It seemed to him that this fiery and
furious new fashion of hurling masses of men against impregnable walls
of stone, in defiance of the established laws and usages of war, was--
But he got no further. La Hire gave his plumed helm an impatient toss
and burst out with:
"By God, she knows her trade, and none can teach it her!"
And before he could get out anything more, D'Alenon was on his
feet, and the Bastard of Orleans, and a half a dozen others, all
thundering at once, and pouring out their indignant displeasure upon
any and all that mid hold, secretly or publicly, distrust of the
wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief. And when they had said their say,
La Hire took a chance again, and said:
"There are some that never know how to change. Circumstances may
change, but those people are never able to see that they have got to
change too, to meet those circumstances. All that they know is the one
beaten track that their fathers and grandfathers have followed and
that they themselves have followed in their turn. If an earthquake
come and rip the land to chaos, and that beaten track now lead over
precipices and into morasses, those people can't learn that they must
strike out a new road--no; they will march stupidly along and follow
the old one, to death and perdition. Men, there's a new state of
things; and a surpassing military genius has perceived it with her
clear eye. And a new road is required, and that same clear eye has
noted where it must go, and has marked it out for us. The man does not
live, never has lived, never will live, that can improve upon it! The
old state of things was defeat, defeat, defeat--and by consequence we
had troops with no dash, no heart, no hope. Would you assault stone
walls with such? No--there was but one way with that kind: sit down
before a place and wait, wait--starve it out, if you could. The new
case is the very opposite; it is this: men all on fire with pluck and
dash and vim and fury and energy--a restrained conflagration! What
would you do with it? Hold it down and let it smolder and perish and
go out? What would Joan of Arc do with it? Turn it loose, by the Lord
God of heaven and earth, and let it swallow up the foe in the
whirlwind of its fires! Nothing shows the splendor and wisdom of her
military genius like her instant comprehension of the size of the
change which has come about, and her instant perception of the right
and only right way to take advantage of it. With her is no sitting
down and starving out; no dilly-dallying and fooling around; no
lazying, loafing, and going to sleep; no, it is storm! storm! storm!
and still storm! storm! storm! and forever storm! storm! storm! hunt
the enemy to his hole, then turn her French hurricanes loose and carry
him by storm! And that is my sort! Jargeau? What of Jargeau, with its
battlements and towers, its devastating artillery, its seven thousand
picked veterans? Joan of Arc is to the fore, and by the splendor of
God its fate is sealed!"
Oh, he carried them. There was not another word said about
persuading Joan to change her tactics. They sat talking comfortably
enough after that.
By and by Joan entered, and they rose and saluted with their
swords, and she asked what their pleasure might be. La Hire said:
"It is settled, my General. The matter concerned Jargeau. There
were some who thought we could not take the place."
Joan laughed her pleasant laugh, her merry, carefree laugh; the
laugh that rippled so buoyantly from her lips and made old people
feel young again to hear it; and she said to the company:
"Have no fears--indeed, there is no need nor any occasion for
them. We will strike the English boldly by assault, and you will
see." Then a faraway look came into her eyes, and I think that a
picture of her home drifted across the vision of her mind; for she
said very gently, and as one who muses, "But that I know God guides
us and will give us success, I had liefer keep sheep than endure these
We had a homelike farewell supper that evening--just the personal
staff and the family. Joan had to miss it; for the city had given a
banquet in her honor, and she had gone there in state with the Grand
Staff, through a riot of joy-bells and a sparkling Milky Way of
After supper some lively young folk whom we knew came in, and we
presently forgot that we were soldiers, and only remembered that we
were boys and girls and full of animal spirits and long-pent fun; and
so there was dancing, and games, and romps, and screams of
laughter--just as extravagant and innocent and noisy a good time as
ever I had in my life. Dear, dear, how long ago it was!--and I was
young then. And outside, all the while, was the measured tramp of
marching battalions, belated odds and ends of the French power
gathering for the morrow's tragedy on the grim stage of war. Yes, in
those days we had those contrasts side by side. And as I passed along
to bed there was another one: the big Dwarf, in brave new armor, sat
sentry at Joan's door--the stern Spirit of War made flesh, as it
were--and on his ample shoulder was curled a kitten asleep.
Chapter 27 How Joan Took Jargeau
WE MADE a gallant show next day when we filed out through the
frowning gates of Orleans, with banners flying and Joan and the Grand
Staff in the van of the long column. Those two young De Lavals were
come now, and were joined to the Grand Staff. Which was well; war
being their proper trade, for they were grandsons of that illustrious
fighter Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France in earlier days.
Louis de Bourbon, the Marshal de Rais, and the Vidame de Chartres were
added also. We had a right to feel a little uneasy, for we knew that a
force of five thousand men was on its way under Sir John Fastolfe to
reinforce Jargeau, but I think we were not uneasy, nevertheless. In
truth, that force was not yet in our neighborhood. Sir John was
loitering; for some reason or other he was not hurrying. He was losing
precious time--four days at tampes, and four more at Janville.
We reached Jargeau and began business at once. Joan sent forward a
heavy force which hurled itself against the outworks in handsome
style, and gained a footing and fought hard to keep it; but it
presently began to fall back before a sortie from the city. Seeing
this, Joan raised her battle-cry and led a new assault herself under a
furious artillery fire. The Paladin was struck down at her side
wounded, but she snatched her standard from his failing hand and
plunged on through the ruck of flying missiles, cheering her men with
encouraging cries; and then for a good time one had turmoil, and clash
of steel, and collision and confusion of struggling multitudes, and
the hoarse bellowing of the guns; and then the hiding of it all under
a rolling firmament of smoke--a firmament through which veiled
vacancies appeared for a moment now and then, giving fitful dim
glimpses of the wild tragedy enacting beyond; and always at these
times one caught sight of that slight figure in white mail which was
the center and soul of our hope and trust, and whenever we saw that,
with its back to us and its face to the fight, we knew that all was
well. At last a great shout went up--a joyous roar of shoutings, in
fact--and that was sign sufficient that the faubourgs were ours.
Yes, they were ours; the enemy had been driven back within the
walls. On the ground which Joan had won we camped; for night was
Joan sent a summons to the English, promising that if they
surrendered she would allow them to go in peace and take their horses
with them. Nobody knew that she could take that strong place, but she
knew it--knew it well; yet she offered that grace--offered it in a
time when such a thing was unknown in war; in a time when it was
custom and usage to massacre the garrison and the inhabitants of
captured cities without pity or compunctin--yes, even to the harmless
women and children sometimes. There are neighbors all about you who
well remember the unspeakable atrocities which Charles the Bold
inflicted upon the men and women and children of Dinant when he took
that place some years ago. It was a unique and kindly grace which Joan
offered that garrison; but that was her way, that was her loving and
merciful nature--she always did her best to save her enemy's life and
his soldierly pride when she had the mastery of him.
The English asked fifteen days' armistice to consider the proposal
in. And Fastolfe coming with five thousand men! Joan said no. But she
offered another grace: they might take both their horses and their
side-arms--but they must go within the hour.
Well, those bronzed English veterans were pretty hard-headed folk.
They declined again. Then Joan gave command that her army be made
ready to move to the assault at nine in the morning. Considering the
deal of marching and fighting which the men had done that day,
D'Alenon thought the hour rather early; but Joan said it was best so,
and so must be obeyed. Then she burst out with one of those
enthusiasms which were always burning in her when battle was imminent,
Work! work! and God will work with us!"
Yes, one might say that her motto was "Work! stick to it; keep on
working!" for in war she never knew what indolence was. And whoever
will take that motto and live by it will likely to succeed. There's
many a way to win in this world, but none of them is worth much
without good hard work back out of it.
I think we should have lost our big Standard-Bearer that day, if
our bigger Dwarf had not been at hand to bring him out of the mˆlee
when he was wounded. He was unconscious, and would have been trampled
to death by our own horse, if the Dwarf had not promptly rescued him
and haled him to the rear and safety. He recovered, and was himself
again after two or three hours; and then he was happy and proud, and
made the most of his wound, and went swaggering around in his bandages
showing off like an innocent big-child--which was just what he was. He
was prouder of being wounded than a really modest person would be of
being killed. But there was no harm in his vanity, and nobody minded
it. He said he was hit by a stone from a catapult--a stone the size of
a man's head. But the stone grew, of course. Before he got through
with it he was claiming that the enemy had flung a building at him.
"Let him alone," said Noael Rainguesson. "Don't interrupt his
processes. To-morrow it will be a cathedral."
He said that privately. And, sure enough, to-morrow it was a
cathedral. I never saw anybody with such an abandoned imagination.
Joan was abroad at the crack of dawn, galloping here and there and
yonder, examining the situation minutely, and choosing what she
considered the most effective positions for her artillery; and with
such accurate judgment did she place her guns that her
Lieutenant-General's admiration of it still survived in his memory
when his testimony was taken at the Rehabilitation, a quarter of a
In this testimony the Duke d'Alenon said that at Jargeau that
morning of the 12th of June she made her dispositions not like a
novice, but "with the sure and clear judgment of a trained general of
twenty or thirty years' experience."
The veteran captains of the armies of France said she was great in
war in all ways, but greatest of all in her genius for posting and
Who taught the shepherd-girl to do these marvels--she who could
not read, and had had no opportunity to study the complex arts of
war? I do not know any way to solve such a baffling riddle as that,
there being no precedent for it, nothing in history to compare it
with and examine it by. For in history there is no great general,
however gifted, who arrived at success otherwise than through able
teaching and hard study and some experience. It is a riddle which
will never be guessed. I think these vast powers and capacities were
born in her, and that she applied them by an intuition which could not
At eight o'clock all movement ceased, and with it all sounds, all
noise. A mute expectancy reigned. The stillness was something
awful--because it meant so much. There was no air stirring. The flags
on the towers and ramparts hung straight down like tassels. Wherever
one saw a person, that person had stopped what he was doing, and was
in a waiting attitude, a listening attitude. We were on a commanding
spot, clustered around Joan. Not far from us, on every hand, were the
lanes and humble dwellings of these outlying suburbs. Many people were
visible--all were listening, not one was moving. A man had placed a
nail; he was about to fasten something with it to the door-post of his
shop--but he had stopped. There was his hand reaching up holding the
nail; and there was his other hand n the act of striking with the
hammer; but he had forgotten everything--his head was turned aside
listening. Even children unconsciously stopped in their play; I saw a
little boy with his hoop-stick pointed slanting toward the ground in
the act of steering the hoop around the corner; and so he had stopped
and was listening--the hoop was rolling away, doing its own steering.
I saw a young girl prettily framed in an open window, a watering-pot
in her hand and window-boxes of red flowers under its spout--but the
water had ceased to flow; the girl was listening. Everywhere were
these impressive petrified forms; and everywhere was suspended
movement and that awful stillness.
Joan of Arc raised her sword in the air. At the signal, the silence
was torn to rags; cannon after cannon vomited flames and smoke and
delivered its quaking thunders; and we saw answering tongues of fire
dart from the towers and walls of the city, accompanied by answering
deep thunders, and in a minute the walls and the towers disappeared,
and in their place stood vast banks and pyramids of snowy smoke,
motionless in the dead air. The startled girl dropped her watering-pot
and clasped her hands together, and at that moment a stone cannon-ball
crashed through her fair body.
The great artillery duel went on, each side hammering away with
all its might; and it was splendid for smoke and noise, and most
exalting to one's spirits. The poor little town around about us
suffered cruelly. The cannon-balls tore through its slight buildings,
wrecking them as if they had been built of cards; and every moment or
two one would see a huge rock come curving through the upper air above
the smoke-clouds and go plunging down through the roofs. Fire broke
out, and columns of flame and smoke rose toward the sky.
Presently the artillery concussions changed the weather. The sky
became overcast, and a strong wind rose and blew away the smoke that
hid the English fortresses.
Then the spectacle was fine; turreted gray walls and towers, and
streaming bright flags, and jets of red fire and gushes of white
smoke in long rows, all standing out with sharp vividness against the
deep leaden background of the sky; and then the whizzing missiles
began to knock up the dirt all around us, and I felt no more interest
in the scenery. There was one English gun that was getting our
position down finer and finer all the time. Presently Joan pointed to
it and said:
"Fair duke, step out of your tracks, or that machine will kill
The Duke d'Alenon did as he was bid; but Monsieur du Lude rashly
took his place, and that cannon tore his head off in a moment.
Joan was watching all along for the right time to order the
assault. At last, about nine o'clock, she cried out:
"Now--to the assault!" and the buglers blew the charge.
Instantly we saw the body of men that had been appointed to this
service move forward toward a point where the concentrated fire of
our guns had crumbled the upper half of a broad stretch of wall to
ruins; we saw this force descend into the ditch and begin to plant the
scaling-ladders. We were soon with them. The Lieutenant-General
thought the assault premature. But Joan said:
"Ah, gentle duke, are you afraid? Do you not know that I have
promised to send you home safe?"
It was warm work in the ditches. The walls were crowded with men,
and they poured avalanches of stones down upon us. There was one
gigantic Englishman who did us more hurt than any dozen of his
brethren. He always dominated the places easiest of assault, and flung
down exceedingly troublesome big stones which smashed men and ladders
both--then he would near burst himself with laughing over what he had
done. But the duke settled accounts with him. He went and found the
famous cannoneer, Jean le Lorrain, and said:
"Train your gun--kill me this demon."
He did it with the first shot. He hit the Englishman fair in the
breast and knocked him backward into the city.
The enemy's resistance was so effective and so stubborn that our
people began to show signs of doubt and dismay. Seeing this, Joan
raised her inspiring battle-cry and descended into the fosse herself,
the Dwarf helping her and the Paladin sticking bravely at her side
with the standard. She started up a scaling-ladder, but a great stone
flung from above came crashing down upon her helmet and stretched
her, wounded and stunned, upon the ground. But only for a moment. The
Dwarf stood her upon her feet, and straightway she started up the
ladder again, crying:
"To the assault, friends, to the assault--the English are ours! It
is the appointed hour!"
There was a grand rush, and a fierce roar of war-cries, and we
swarmed over the ramparts like ants. The garrison fled, we pursued;
Jargeau was ours!
The Earl of Suffolk was hemmed in and surrounded, and the Duke
d'Alenon and the Bastard of Orleans demanded that he surrender
himself. But he was a proud nobleman and came of a proud race. He
refused to yield his sword to subordinates, saying:
"I will die rather. I will surrender to the Maid of Orleans alone,
and to no other."
And so he did; and was courteously and honorably used by her.
His two brothers retreated, fighting step by step, toward the
bridge, we pressing their despairing forces and cutting them down by
scores. Arrived on the bridge, the slaughter still continued.
Alexander de la Pole was pushed overboard or fell over, and was
drowned. Eleven hundred men had fallen; John de la Pole decided to
give up the struggle. But he was nearly as proud and particular as his
brother of Suffolk as to whom he would surrender to. The French
officer nearest at hand was Guillaume Renault, who was pressing him
closely. Sir John said to him:
"Are you a gentleman?"
"And a knight?"
Then Sir John knighted him himself there on the bridge, giving him
the accolade with English coolness and tranquillity in the midst of
that storm of slaughter and mutilation; and then bowing with high
courtesy took the sword by the blade and laid the hilt of it in the
man's hand in token of surrender. Ah, yes, a proud tribe, those De la
It was a grand day, a memorable day, a most splendid victory. We
had a crowd of prisoners, but Joan would not allow them to be hurt.
We took them with us and marched into Orleans next day through the
usual tempest of welcome and joy.
And this time there was a new tribute to our leader. From
everywhere in the packed streets the new recruits squeezed their way
to her side to touch the sword of Joan of Arc and draw from it
somewhat of that mysterious quality which made it invincible.