Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Jeanne d'Arc: Her Life and Death Chapter 3

BEFORE THE KING.
FEB.-APRIL, 1429.

Jeanne and her little party were eleven days on the road, but do not seem to have encountered any special peril. They lodged sometimes in the security of a convent, sometimes in a village hostel, pursuing the long and tedious way across the great levels of midland France, which has so few features of beauty except in the picturesque towns with their castles and churches, which the escort avoided. At length they paused in the village of Fierbois not far from Chinon where the Court was, in order to announce their arrival and ask for an audience, which was not immediately accorded. Charles held his Court with incredible gaiety and folly, in the midst of almost every disaster that could overtake a king, in the castle of Chinon on the banks of the Vienne. The situation and aspect of this noble building, now in ruins, is wonderfully like that of Windsor Castle. The great walls, interrupted and strengthened by huge towers, stretch along a low ridge of rocky hill, with the swift and clear river, a little broader and swifter than the Thames, flowing at its foot. The red and high-pitched roofs of the houses clustered between the castle hill and the stream, give a point of resemblance the more. The large and ample dwelling, defensible, but with no thought of any need of defence, a midland castle surrounded by many a level league of wealthy country, which no hostile force should ever have power to get through, must have looked like the home of a well-established royalty. There was no sound or sight of war within its splendid enclosure. Noble lords and gentlemen crowded the corridors; trains of gay ladies, attendant upon two queens, filled the castle with fine dresses and gay voices. There had been but lately a dreadful and indeed shameful defeat, inflicted by a mere English convoy of provisions upon a large force of French and Scottish soldiers, the former led by such men as Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, etc., the latter by the Constable of Scotland, John Stuart–which defeat might well have been enough to subdue every sound of revelry: yet Charles’s Court was ringing with music and pleasantry, as if peace had reigned around.

It may be believed that there were many doubts and questions how to receive this peasant from the fields, which prevented an immediate reply to her demand for an audience. From the first, de la Tremoille, Charles’s Prime Minister and chief adviser, was strongly against any encouragement of the visionary, or dealings with the supernatural; but there would no doubt be others, hoping if not for a miraculous maid, yet at least for a passing wonder, who might kindle enthusiasm in the country and rouse the ignorant with hopes of a special blessing from Heaven. The gayer and younger portion of the Court probably expected a little amusement, above all, a new butt for their wit, or perhaps a soothsayer to tell their fortunes and promise good things to come. They had not very much to amuse them, though they made the best of it. The joys of Paris were very far off; they were all but imprisoned in this dull province of Touraine; nobody knew at what moment they might be forced to leave even that refuge. For the moment here was a new event, a little stir of interest, something to pass an hour. Jeanne had to wait two days in Chinon before she was granted an audience, but considering the carelessness of the Court and the absence of any patron that was but a brief delay.

The chamber of audience is now in ruins. A wild rose with long, arching, thorny branches and pale flowers, straggles over the greensward where once the floor was trod by so many gay figures. From the broken wall you look sheer down upon the shining river; one great chimney, which at that season must have been still the most pleasant centre of the large, draughty hall, shows at the end of the room, with a curious suggestion of warmth and light which makes ruin more conspicuous. The room must have been on the ground floor almost level with the soil towards the interior of the castle, but raised to the height of the cliffs outside. It was evening, an evening of March, and fifty torches lighted up the ample room; many noble personages, almost as great as kings, and clothed in the bewildering splendour of the time, and more than three hundred cavaliers of the best names in France filled it to overflowing. The peasant girl from Domremy in the hose and doublet of a servant, a little travel-worn after her tedious journey, was led in by one of those splendid seigneurs, dazzled with the grandeur she had never seen before, looking about her in wonder to see which was the King–while Charles, perhaps with boyish pleasure in the mystification, perhaps with a little half-conviction stealing over him that there might be something more in it, stood among the smiling crowd.

The young stranger looked round upon all those amused, light-minded, sceptical faces, and without a moment’s hesitation went forward and knelt down before him. “Gentil Dauphin,” she said, “God give you good life.” “But it is not I that am the King; there is the King,” said Charles. “Gentil Prince, it is you and no other,” she said; then rising from her knee: “Gentil Dauphin, I am Jeanne the Maid. I am sent to you by the King of Heaven to tell you that you shall be consecrated and crowned at Rheims, and shall be lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is King of France.” The little masquerade had failed, the jest was over. There would be little more laughing among the courtiers, when they saw the face of Charles grow grave. He took the new-comer aside, perhaps to that deep recess of the window where in the darkening night the glimmer of the clear, flowing river, the great vault of sky would still be visible dimly, outside the circle of the blazing interior with all its smoky lights.

Charles VII. of France was, like many of his predecessors, a pauvre Sire enough. He had thought more of his amusements than of the troubles of his country; but a wild and senseless gaiety will sometimes spring from despair as well as from lightness of heart; and after all, the dread responsibility, the sense that in all his helplessness and inability to do anything he was still the man who ought to do all, would seem to have moved him from time to time. A secret doubt in his heart, divulged to no man, had added bitterness to the conviction of his own weakness. Was he indeed the heir of France? Had he any right to that sustaining confidence which would have borne up his heart in the midst of every discouragement? His very mother had given him up and set him aside. He was described as the so-called Dauphin in treaties signed by Charles and Isabeau his parents. If anyone knew, she knew; and was it possible that more powerful even than the English, more cruel than the Burgundians, this stain of illegitimacy was upon him, making all effort vain? There is no telling where the sensitive point is in any man’s heart, and little worthy as was this King, the story we are here told has a thrill of truth in it. It is reported by a certain Sala, who declares that he had it from the lips of Charles’s favourite and close follower, the Seigneur de Boisi, a courtier who, after the curious custom of the time, shared even the bed of his master. This was confided to Boisi by the King in the deepest confidence, in the silence of the wakeful night:

“This was in the time of the good King Charles, when he knew not what step to take, and did nothing but think how to redeem his life: for as I have told you he was surrounded by enemies on all sides. The King in this extreme thought, went in one morning to his oratory all alone; and there he made a prayer to our Lord, in his heart, without pronouncing any words, in which he asked of Him devoutly that if he were indeed the true heir, descended from the royal House of France, and that justly the kingdom was his, that He would be pleased to guard and defend him, or at the worst to give him grace to escape into Spain or Scotland, whose people, from all antiquity, were brothers-in-arms, friends and allies of the kings of France, and that he might find a refuge there.”

Perhaps there is some excuse for a young man’s endeavour to forget himself in folly or even in dissipation when his secret thoughts are so despairing as these.

It was soon after this melancholy moment that the arrival of Jeanne took place. The King led her aside, touched as all were, by her look of perfect sincerity and good faith; but it is she herself, not Charles, who repeats what she said to him. “I have to tell you,” said the young messenger of God, “on the part of my Lord (/Messire) that you are the true heir of France and the son of the King; He has sent me to conduct you to Rheims that you may receive your consecration and your crown,"–perhaps here, Jeanne caught some look which she did not understand in his eyes, for she adds with, one cannot but think a touch of sternness–"if you will.”

Was it a direct message from God in answer to his prayer, uttered within his own heart, without words, so that no one could have guessed that secret? At least it would appear that Charles thought so: for how should this peasant maid know the secret fear that had gnawed at his heart? “When thou wast in the garden under the fig-tree I saw thee." Great was the difference between the Israelite without guile and the troubled young man, with whose fate the career of a great nation was entangled; but it is not difficult to imagine what the effect must have been on the mind of Charles when he was met by this strange, authoritative statement, uttered like all that Jeanne said, de la part de Dieu.

The impression thus made, however, was on Charles alone, and he was surrounded by councillors, so much the more pedantic and punctilious as they were incapable, and placed amidst pressing necessities with which in themselves they had no power to cope. It may easily be allowed, also, that to risk any hopes still belonging to the hapless young King on the word of a peasant girl was in itself, according to every law of reason, madness and folly. She would seem to have had the women on her side always and at every point. The Church did not stir, or else was hostile; the commanders and military men about, regarded with scornful disgust the idea that an enterprise which they considered hopeless should be confided to an ignorant woman–all with perfect reason we are obliged to allow. Probably it was to gain time– yet without losing the aid of such a stimulus to the superstitious among the masses–and to retard any rash undertaking–that it was proposed to subject Jeanne to an examination of doctors and learned men touching her faith and the character of her visions, which all this time had been of continual recurrence, yet charged with no further revelation, no mystic creed, but only with the one simple, constantly repeated command.

Accordingly, after some preliminary handling by half a dozen bishops, Jeanne was taken to Poitiers–where the university and the local parliament, all the learning, law, and ecclesiastical wisdom which were on the side of the King, were assembled–to undergo this investigation. It is curious that the entire history of this wildest and strangest of all visionary occurrences is to be found in a series of processes at law, each part recorded and certified under oath; but so it is. The village maid was placed at the bar, before a number of acute legists, ecclesiastics, and statesmen, to submit her to a not- too-benevolent cross-examination. Several of these men were still alive at the time of the Rehabilitation and gave their recollections of this examination, though its formal records have not been preserved. A Dominican monk, Aymer, one of an order she loved, addressed her gravely with the severity with which that institution is always credited. “You say that God will deliver France; if He has so determined, He has no need of men-at-arms.” “Ah!” cried the girl, with perhaps a note of irritation in her voice, “the men must fight; it is God who gives the victory.” To another discomfited Brother, Jeanne, exasperated, answered with a little roughness, showing that our Maid, though gentle as a child to all gentle souls, was no piece of subdued perfection, but a woman of the fields, and lately much in the company of rough-spoken men. He was of Limoges, a certain Brother Seguin, “bien aigre homme,” and disposed apparently to weaken the trial by questions without importance: he asked her what language her celestial visitors spoke? “Better than yours,” answered the peasant girl. He could not have been, as we say in Scotland, altogether “an ill man," for he acknowledged that he spoke the patois of his district, and therefore that the blow was fair. But perhaps for the moment he was irritated too. He asked her, a question equally unnecessary, “do you believe in God?” to which with more and more impatience she made a similar answer: “Better than you do.” There was nothing to be made of one so well able to defend herself. “Words are all very well,” said the monk, “but God would not have us believe you, unless you show us some sign.” To this Jeanne made an answer more dignified, though still showing signs of exasperation, “I have not come to Poitiers to give signs,” she said; “but take me to Orleans–I will then show the signs I am sent to show. Give me as small a band as you please, but let me go.”

The situation of Orleans was at the time a desperate one. It was besieged by a strong army of English, who had built a succession of towers round the city, from which to assail it, after the manner of the times. The town lies in the midst of the plain of the Loire, with not so much as a hillock to offer any advantage to the besiegers. Therefore these great works were necessary in face of a very strenuous resistance, and the possibility of provisioning the besieged, which their river secured. The English from their high towers kept up a disastrous fire, which, though their artillery was of the rudest kind, did great execution. The siege was conducted by eminent generals. The works were of themselves great fortifications, the assailants numerous, and strengthened by the prestige of almost unbroken success; there seemed no human hope of the deliverance of the town unless by an overwhelming army, which the King’s party did not possess, or by some wonderful and utterly unexpected event. Jeanne had always declared the destruction of the English and the relief of Orleans to be the first step in her mission.

Besides the formal and official examination of her faith and character, held at Poitiers, private inquests of all kinds were made concerning of the claims of the miraculous maid. She was visited by every curious person, man or woman, in the neighbourhood, and plied with endless questions, so that her simple personal story, and that of her revelations–/mes voix, as she called them–became familiarly known from her own report, to the whole country round about. The women pressed a question specially interesting–for no doubt, many a good mother half convinced otherwise, shook her head at Jeanne’s costume– Why she wore the dress of a man? for which the Maid gave very good reasons: in the first place because it was the only dress for fighting, which, though so far from her desires or from the habits of her life, was henceforward to be her work; and also because in her strange circumstances, constrained as she was to live among men, she considered it safest for herself–statements which evidently convinced the minds of the questioners. It was, no doubt, good policy to make her thus widely and generally known, and the result was a daily growing enthusiasm for her and belief in her, in all classes. The result of the formal process was that the doctors could find nothing against her, and they reluctantly allowed that the King might lawfully take what advantage he could of her offered services.

Jeanne was then brought back to Chinon, where she was lodged in one of the great towers still standing, though no special room is pointed out as hers. And there she was subjected to another process, more penetrating still than the interrogations of the graver tribunals. The Queens and their ladies and all the women of the Court took her in hand. They inquired into her history in every subtle and intimate feminine way, testing her innocence and purity; and once more she came out triumphant. The final judgment was given as follows: “After hearing all these reports, the King taking into consideration the great goodness that was in the Maid, and that she declared herself to be sent by God, it was by the said Seigneur and his council determined that from henceforward he should make use of her for his wars, since it was for this that she was sent.”

It was now necessary to equip Jeanne for her service. She had a maison, an état majeur, or staff, formed for her, the chief of which, Jean d’Aulon, already distinguished and worthy of such a trust never left her thenceforward until the end of her active career. Her chaplain, Jean Pasquerel, also followed her fortunes faithfully. Charles would have given her a sword to replace the probably indifferent weapon given her by Baudricourt at Vaucouleurs; but Jeanne knew where to find the sword destined for her. She gave orders that someone should be sent to Fierbois, the village at which she had paused on her way to Chinon, to fetch a sword which would be found there buried behind the high altar of the church of St. Catherine. To make this as little miraculous as possible, we are told by some historians that it was common for knights to be buried with their arms, and that Jeanne, in her visit to this church, where she heard three masses in succession to make up for the absence of constant religious services on her journey–had probably seen some tomb or other token that such an interment had taken place. However, as we are compelled to receive the far greater miracle of Jeanne herself and her work, without explanation, it is foolish to take the trouble to attempt any explanation of so small a matter as this. The sword in fact was found, by the clergy of the church, and was by them cleaned and polished and put in a scabbard of crimson velvet, scattered over with fleur-de-lys in gold, for her use. Her standard, which she considered of the greatest importance was made apparently at Tours. It was of white linen, fringed with silk and embroidered with a figure of the Saviour holding a globe in His hands, while an angel knelt at either side in adoration. Jhesus’ Maria was inscribed at the foot. A repetition of this banner, which must have been re-copied from age to age is to be seen now at Tours. Having indicated the exact device to be emblazoned upon the banner, as dictated to her by her saints,– Margaret and Catherine–Jeanne announced her intention of carrying it herself, a somewhat surprising office for one who was to act as a general. But it was the command of her heavenly guides. “Take the standard on the part of God, and carry it boldly,” they had said. She had, besides, a simple, half-childish intention of her own in this, which she explained shame-faced–she had no wish to use her sword though she loved it, and would kill no man. The banner was a more safe occupation, and saved her from all possibility of blood-shedding; it must however, have required the robust arm of a peasant to sustain the heavy weight.

It will show how long a time all these examinations and preparations had taken when we read that Jeanne set out from Blois, where she had passed some time in military preparations, only on the 27th day of April; nearly two whole months had thus been taken up in testing her truth, and arranging details, trifling and unnecessary in her eyes:–a period which had been passed in great anxiety by the people of Orleans, with the huge bastilles of the English–three of which were named Paris, Rouen, and London–towering round them, their provisions often intercepted, all the business of life come to a standstill, and the overwhelming responsibility upon them of being almost the last barrier between the invader and the final subjugation of France. It is strange to add that, judging by ordinary rules, the garrison of Orleans ought to have been quite sufficient in itself in numbers and science of war, to have beaten and dispersed the English force which had thus succeeded in shutting them in; there were many notable captains among them, with Dunois, known as the Bastard of Orleans, one of the most celebrated and brave of French generals, at their head. Dunois was in no way inferior to the generals of the English army; he was popular, beloved by the people and soldiers alike, and though illegitimate, of the House of Orleans, one of the native seigneurs of the place. The wonder is how he and his officers permitted the building of these towers, and the shutting in of the town which they were quite strong enough to protect. But it was a losing game which they were playing, a part which does not suit the genius of the nation; and the superstition in favour of the English who had won so many battles with all the disadvantages on their side,–cutting the finest armies to pieces–was strong upon the imagination of the time. It seemed a fate which no valour or skill upon the side of the French could avert. Dunois, himself an unlikely person, one would have thought, to yield the honour of the fight to a woman, seems to have perceived that without a strong counter-motive, not within the range of ordinary methods, the situation was beyond hope.

Accordingly, on the 27th or 28th of April, Jeanne set out at the head of her little army, accompanied by a great number of generals and captains. She had been equipped by the Queen of Sicily (with a touch of that keen sense of decorative effect which belonged to the age) in white armour inlaid with silver–all shining like her own St. Michael himself, a radiance of whiteness and glory under the sun–armed de toutes pièces sauve la teste, her uncovered head rising in full relief from the dazzling breastplate and gorget. This is the description given of her by an eye-witness a little later. The country is flat as the palm of one’s hand. The white armour must have flashed back the sun for miles and miles of the level road, to the eyes which from the height of any neighbouring tower watched the party setting out. It is all fertile now, the richest plain, and even then, corn and wine must have been in full bourgeon, the great fresh greenness of the big leaves coming out upon such low stumps of vine as were left in the soil; but the devastated country was in those days covered with a wild growth like the macchia of Italian wilds, which half hid the movements of the expedition. They went by the Loire to Tours, where Jeanne had been assigned a dwelling of her own, with the estate of a general; and from thence to Blois, where they had to wait for some days while the convoy of provisions, which they were to convey to Orleans, was being prepared. And there Jeanne fulfilled one of the preliminary duties of her mission. She had informed her examiners at Poitiers that she had been commanded to write to the English generals before attacking them, appealing to them de la part de Dieu, to give up their conquests, and leave France to the French. The letter which we quote would seem to have been dictated by her at Poitiers, probably to the confessor who now formed part of her suite and who attended her wherever she went:

JHESUS MARIA.

King of England, and you Duke of Bedford calling yourself Regent of France, you, William de la Poule, Comte de Sulford, John, Lord of Talbot, and you Thomas, Lord of Scales, who call yourself lieutenants of the said Bedford, listen to the King of Heaven: Give back to the Maid who is here sent on the part of God the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good towns which you have taken by violence in His France. She is ready to make peace if you will hear reason and be just towards France and pay for what you have taken. And you archers, brothers-in-arms, gentles and others who are before the town of Orleans, go in peace on the part of God; if you do not so you will soon have news of the Maid who will see you shortly to your great damage. King of England, if you do not this, I am captain in this war, and in whatsoever place in France I find your people I will make them go away. I am sent here on the part of God the King of Heaven to push you all forth of France. If you obey I will be merciful. And be not strong in your own opinion, for you do not hold the kingdom from God the Son of the Holy Mary, but it is held by Charles the true heir, for God, the King of Heaven so wills, and it is revealed by the Maid who shall enter Paris in good company. If you will not believe this news on the part of God and the Maid, in whatever place you may find yourselves we shall make our way there, and make so great a commotion as has not been in France for a thousand years, if you will not hear reason. And believe this, that the King of Heaven will send more strength to the Maid than you can bring against her in all your assaults, to her and to her good men-at-arms. You, Duke of Bedford, the Maid prays and requires you to destroy no more. If you act according to reason you may still come in her company where the French shall do the greatest work that has ever been done for Christianity. Answer then if you will still continue against the city of Orleans. If you do so you will soon recall it to yourself by great misfortunes. Written the Saturday of Holy Week (22 March, 1429).[1]

Jeanne had by this time made a wonderful moral revolution in her little army; most likely she had not been in the least aware what an army was, until this moment; but frank and fearless, she had penetrated into every corner, and it was not in her to permit those abuses at which an ordinary captain has to smile. The pernicious and shameful crowd of camp followers fled before her like shadows before the day. She stopped the big oaths and unthinking blasphemies which were so common, so that La Hire, one of the chief captains, a rough and ready Gascon, was reduced to swear by his bâton, no more sacred name being permitted to him. Perhaps this was the origin of the harmless swearing which abounds in France, meaning probably just as much and as little as bigger oaths in careless mouths; but no doubt the soldiers’ language was very unfit for gentle ears. Jeanne moved among the wondering ranks, all radiant in her silver armour and with her virginal undaunted countenance, exhorting all those rude and noisy brothers to take thought of their duties here, and of the other life that awaited them. She would stop the march of the army that a conscience-stricken soldier might make his confession, and desired the priests to hear it if necessary without ceremony, or church, under the first tree. Her tender heart was such that she shrank from any man’s death, and her hair rose up on her head, as she said, at the sight of French blood shed–although her mission was to shed it on all sides for a great end. But the one thing she could not bear was that either Frenchmen or Englishmen should die unconfessed, “unhouseled, disappointed, unannealed.” The army went along attended by songs of choristers and masses of priests, the grave and solemn music of the Church accompanied strangely by the fanfares and bugle notes. What a strange procession to pass along the great Loire in its spring fulness, the raised banners and crosses, and that dazzling white figure, all effulgence, reflected in the wayward, quick flowing stream!

La Hire, who is like a figure out of Dumas, and indeed did service as a model to that delightful romancer, had come from Orleans to escort Jeanne upon her way, and Dunois met her as she approached the town. There could not be found more unlikely companions than these two, to conduct to a great battle the country maid who was to carry the honours of the day from them both, and make men fight like heroes, who under them did nothing but run away. The candour and true courage of such leaders in circumstances so extraordinary, are beyond praise, for it was an offence both to their pride and skill in their profession, had she been anything less than the messenger of God which she claimed to be; and these rude soldiers were not men to be easily moved by devout imaginations. There would seem, however, even in the case of the greater of the two, to have arisen a strange friendship and mutual understanding between the famous man of war and the peasant girl. Jeanne, always straightforward and simple, speaks to him, not with the downcast eyes of her humility, but as an equal, as if the great Dunois had been a prud’ homme of her own degree. There is no appearance indeed that the Maid allowed herself to be overborne now by any shyness or undue humility. She speaks loudly, so as to be heard by those fighting men, taking something of their own brief and decisive tone, often even impatient, as one who would not be put aside either by cunning or force.

Her meeting with Dunois makes this at once evident. She had been deceived in the manner of her approach to Orleans, her companions, among whom there were several field-marshals and distinguished leaders, taking advantage of her ignorance of the place to lead her by the opposite bank of the river instead of that on which the English towers were built, which she desired to attack at once. This was the beginning of a long series of deceits and hostile combinations, by which at every step of her way she was met and retarded; but it turned, as these devices generally did, to the discomfiture of the adverse captains. She crossed the river at Chécy above Orleans, to meet Dunois who had come so far to meet her. It will be seen by the conversation which she held with him on his first appearance, how completely Jeanne had learnt to assert herself, and how much she had overcome any fear of man. “Are you the Bastard of Orleans?” she said. “I am; and glad of your coming,” he replied. “Is it you who have had me led to this side of the river and not to the bank on which Talbot is and his English?” He answered that he and the wisest of the leaders had thought it the best and safest way. “The counsel of God, our Lord, is more sure and more powerful than yours,” she replied. The expedition, as a matter of fact, had to turn back, and to lose precious time, there being, it is to be presumed, no means of transporting so large a force across the river. The large convoy of provisions which Jeanne brought was embarked in boats while the majority of the army returned to Blois, in order to cross by the bridge.

Jeanne, however, having freely expressed her opinion, adapted herself to the circumstances, though extremely averse to separate herself from her soldiers, good men who had confessed and prepared their souls for every emergency. She finally consented, however, to ride on with Dunois and La Hire. The wind was against the convoy, so that the heavy boats, deeply laden with beeves and corn, had a dangerous and slow voyage before them. “Have patience,” cried Jeanne; “by the help of God all will go well"; and immediately the wind changed, to the astonishment and joy of all, and the boats arrived in safety “in spite of the English, who offered no hindrance whatever,” as she had predicted. The little party made their way along the bank, and in the twilight of the April evening, about eight o’clock, entered Orleans. The Deliverer, it need not be said, was hailed with joy indescribable. She was on a white horse, and carried, Dunois says, the banner in her hand, though it was carried before her when she entered the town. The white figure in the midst of those darkly gleaming mailed men, would in itself throw a certain glory through the dimness of the night, as she passed the gates and came into view by the blaze of all the torches, and the lights in the windows, over the dark swarming crowds of the citizens. Her white banner waving, her white armour shining, it was little wonder that the throng that filled the streets received the Maid “as if they had seen God descending among them.” “And they had good reason,” says the Chronicle, “for they had suffered many disturbances, labours, and pains, and, what is worse, great doubt whether they ever should be delivered. But now all were comforted, as if the siege were over, by the divine strength that was in this simple Maid whom they regarded most affectionately, men, women, and little children. There was a marvellous press around her to touch her or the horse on which she rode, so much so that one of the torchbearers approached too near and set fire to her pennon; upon which she touched her horse with her spurs, and turning him cleverly, extinguished the flame, as if she had long followed the wars.”

There could have been nothing she resembled so much as St. Michael, the warrior-angel, who, as all the world knew, was her chief counsellor and guide, and who, no doubt, blazed, a familiar figure, from some window in the cathedral to which this his living picture rode without a pause, to give thanks to God before she thought of refreshment or rest. She spoke to the people who surrounded her on every side as she went on through the tumultuous streets, bidding them be of good courage and that if they had faith they should escape from all their troubles. And it was only after she had said her prayers and rendered her thanksgiving, that she returned to the house selected for her–the house of an important personage, Jacques Boucher, treasurer to the Duke of Orleans, not like the humble places where she had formerly lodged. The houses of that age were beautiful, airy and light, with much graceful ornament and solid comfort, the arched and vaulted Gothic beginning to give place to those models of domestic architecture which followed the Renaissance, with their ample windows and pleasant space and breadth. There the table was spread with a joyous meal in honour of this wonderful guest, to which, let us hope, Dunois and La Hire and the rest did full justice. But Jeanne was indifferent to the feast. She mixed with water the wine poured for her into a silver cup, and dipped her bread in it, five or six small slices. The visionary peasant girl cared for none of the dainty meats. And then she retired to the comfort of a peaceful chamber, where the little daughter of the house shared her bed: strange return to the days when Hauvette and Mengette in Domremy lay by her side and talked as girls love to do, through half the silent night. Perhaps little Charlotte, too, lay awake with awe to wonder at that other young head on the pillow, a little while ago shut into the silver helmet, and shining like the archangel’s. The état majeur, the Chevalier d’Aulon, Jean de Metz, and Bertrand de Poulengy, who had never left her, first friends and most faithful, and her brother Pierre d’Arc, were lodged in the same house. It was the last night of April, 1429.

[1] The dates must of course be reckoned by the old style.–This letter was dispatched from Tours, during her pause there.

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