Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 2 - Scene 1

Warwick and Arlington.

  How swift a courier is this winged love!
Why I have made this journey in less time,
Impelled by thought of her, than ere before,
Though martial glory spurred me on the way,
And every proud ambitious hope to boot.

Arl. Our jaded horses prove that truth.

  And yet
They sped not swift enough for my fond wishes.
Say, hast thou ever marked the moon's full beams
Upon the wave, when broken by the breeze?
Such is the image of my heart: joy's rays
Illume its depths and sparkle on its surface;
But all within is restless—bright confusion.

Arl. Well may she wake such love, such fond impatience;
Not breath of closing flowers, not eve's soft beam—

  With nought that marks decline compare my Alice.
She is the blush of morn first caught by earth,
When seraph hands unbar the gates of heaven,
And from its courts bright beams of glory stream.
Fresh as the od'rous breath by zephyr scattered,
When first from dewy flowers he springs rejoicing;
Light as the froth by chafed ocean cast,
When young Aurora, laughing at his suit,
Refuses to retard her rosy steps;
And playful as the changeful hues reflected
Upon its quivering breast.

Arl. She comes.—Farewell.
Love bears no eyes but those he lights to view
The rapture he creates, and turns offended
From the stranger's gaze.


Enter Countess.

Countess. My life, my Warwick!

  My own! thus let me clasp thee to my heart.

Count. No! let me see thou art indeed my Lord,
And read in those dear eyes the joy of mine.
Thou hast been long in coming.

  Sweetest, no.
Impatient, like myself, thou hast, I see,
Been measuring the hours by love's slow glass,
And made them sad and heavy.

Count. Now thou'rt wrong—
Not sad.

  Not sad when Warwick is away?

Count. Have I not hope to share the hours with me?
And who can e'er be sad in such sweet fellowship?
Thy last receding step dries up my tears,
For thus she gently whispers to my heart—
"The moment passed that bore him from thy view,
The next but draws him nearer to thy arms."

  But how deceive the intervening moments?
Art thou not lonesome oft?

Count. How may that be?
From thee I never am divided. Thought
Personates thyself, and thus I talk with thee,
Sit by thy side, frame answers for thyself
So full of love, so paint thy face with smiles,
Thy eyes with such approval fill, my heart
Leaps with delight: then only am I lone
When some intruder comes intent to cheer me.

  Why thus thou'lt make me jealous of myself,
And envious of the shadow I supply.

Count. Then too I sing to thee, or deck myself,
And try which ornament doth suit me best:
Smile at the smiling image I behold,
And bid the vivid blush, which spreads my cheek,
Fade not away, that it may tell my Warwick
'Twas thought of him which makes me value beauty,
And prize the charms that justifies his choice.

  Sweet flatterer! Then thou art happy, Alice!

Count. Indeed I do not know what means unhappiness.
E'en from my infancy I have been blessed.
My eyes first opened on the laughing spring,
And all of life, of hope, of fond affection
Has been passed in springtide. I never shed
A tear till my great father died; and those
First tears were wiped away by him whom first
I loved.

  But how! thou dost not even ask
If Salisbury's sad death has been avenged!

Count. Contains revenge then ought that may impart
Joy to felicity, or make repose
More tranquil, which already was complete,
That it should be desired?

  Nor yet enquire
How speeds the war?

Count. I love not war.

  And yet
Art Salisbury's child, art—

Count. Warwick's bride, thou'dst say.
Of him whose gallant heart of war makes pastime,
And who a rival gives me in renown.
And yet I do repeat, I love not war,
And rather in our native woods would stray,
Listening the thrush's early note of love,
Or plucking wild flowers from the bank to crown thee,
Than hail thee, Warwick, conqueror of France.
Ha! there is blood upon thy arm!

  For shame!
Turn pale—a very coward thou.

Count. Not I:
But nature is to blame, who doth abhor
The sight of blood: but if I must, as fits
A soldier's wife, enquire of war, then tell me,
Not how many thousands perished, but what
New honours thou hast gained; and better still,
Say, how much nearer is the end of strife.

  My honours gained is not to feel disgraced.
A strange reverse has visited our arms.
Not alone has Orleans been relieved,
And other strong posts fall'n, but at the name
Of Joan of Arc our stoutest cheeks turn pale.
Myself beheld the maid, banner in hand,
March by our troops, with Suffolk at their head,
Not only unmolested, but with dread,—
Such awe hath filled all hearts.

Count. Tell me no more.
Unbend that brow, and think alone of me,
And in these smiles forget—

  Aye! all forget
But this—that thou art mine—my own for ever.
Forget that with the dawn I must depart.

Count. Oh, no! thou must not go.

  I dare not tarry.
Exasperated by our late reverse,
And fearing that success to bolder deeds
May tempt the foe, the regent hath desired
Lord Scales and Talbot to unite with us—
We wait at Patay for their promised force.

Count. No more. Now let love's rosy fingers
Press the swift foot of time and stay his flight.

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