Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 1 - Scene 7

  Valancour.   Arnault.

  Arn. Sayst thou the siege is raised?

  Val. Orleans is free.

  Arn. And she, the sainted maid, has done the deed?

  Val. Herself! the maid of Orleans henceforth named.
Oh! 'twas a noble sight to see her entrance
Into the city she herself had saved.
Each distant quarter had disgorged itself
Of its inhabitants. Age had forgotten
All its decrepitude; sickness, its pains.
Walls, windows, streets, each edifice and pillar
Seemed as a living mass; and waving hands
And loud acclaims filled the astonished air.
The sun burst forth in joy. Onward she came,
Our civil functionaries at her head,
The wonderous sword and standard borne before her.
The princely Duke Alençon at her side,
His stately countenance impressed alike
With patriotic joy and martial pride.

  Arn. And thou wert in the fight?

  Val. I was, and near her;
A proud distinction, for where'er she stood
There hottest battle raged: the foe to crush her,
Friends to rival her. Sight alone of her
Gave spirit to the faint, and kindled courage
E'en to its height. Herself in ev'ry part,
Like lightning's bolt was seen, sudden as fatal.

  Arn. The night was terrible. The heavens appeared
To threaten earth with wreck.

  Val. It has no fellow.
Terrific thunders rattled through the sky,
And fiery vengeance hissed upon the ground,
With human gore and heavy rain deep drenched.
"See! Heaven itself doth fight for us!" she cried.
As struck with terror back our troops recoiled.
The happy augury was hailed with shouts,
And victory was ours.

  Arn. But yet, methinks,
The hand of woman should be free from stain,
And most from stain of blood: the lamb for innocence,
The kite for prey.

  Val. No blood has stained her hand.
The sword she bears nor forms defence, nor wounds,
But guides the fight. Amidst its loudest din
And fiercest rage she shows a countenance
Most calmly brave, most femininely gentle.

  Arn. And he, great Orleans' valiant son, was he—

  Val. Ah! 'twas a curious sight to see how proud
He scorned the maid when first she reached the camp.
His great heart swelled against her, and his gibe,
Keen as his sword, betrayed contempt.

  Arn. And well
He might be pardoned, if he deemed the thought
Injurious, that a woman should succeed
Where he himself had failed.

  Val. Forth armed she went,
A graceful female, though in martial garb.
He marked her lack of sword and loosed his own;
And with a curled lip and mock humility
He turned the heft, and offered it in silence.
"I may not trust to arms," she calmly said.
His searching eye glanced on her countenance,
He coloured crimson deep, and the proud sneer
Forsook his lip, and, like a lion tamed,
He showed him gentlest where he least intended.

  Arn. He must beware: the stream turned suddenly
May suddenly become a torrent. Love,
From hatred sprung, can only be excelled
By hatred born from love.

  Val. (Aside.) Why should the thought
Dart agony like this into my heart?

  Arn. What next is her intent?

  Val. To pass to Rheims.
Thither, at dawn, the prince departs to join her,
And the army she conducts.

  Arn. Heaven speed the journey.


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