Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 2 - Scene 3
Camp

  Du Nois.   Xaintrailles.

  Du N. There is a magic
In the full sweet tones of her impressive voice,
Which heard but once, dwells long upon the ear,
Charmed with the sound; then sinks into the heart,
No more to be forgotten, pleading still
When she herself is mute. How goes the hour?

  Xaint. Day's harbinger, with chilly lips, has kissed
The pine's tall top. The camp is locked in sleep
So deep, that yon marauding fox's step
Distinctly may be heard.

  Du N. Sleep flies my lids—
For the first time I dread to-morrow's chance.
The attempt is bold, and skilfully conceived,
On Suffolk's ranks to fall, and break his force
Ere Talbot can arrive and strength unite;
But if the project fail!—(Aside,) I cannot think
Of her disgraced, without a pang.

  Xaint. Should fail!
Who fears defeat in what the maid devises?

  Du N. Heaven doth not always smile on those he loves.
Time offers marvels: once the name of Joan
I scorned, abhorred! I do not hate it now,
Though now I've cause. She robs me of renown,
And at her bidding I unsheath my sword.

  Xaint. She may be proud!—a victory she has won,
That spirit to subdue. She hath in truth
A charm to make stern hearts most meek, and yet
She is not beautiful, as men count beauty.

  Du N. She is the better suited to my taste;
I do despise the doll, where nought of soul
Is ever seen to light the faultless eye.

  Xaint. Yet glances have been cast on thee
Which might have thawed the coldest heart, and caused
An angry lance to tremble in its rest.

  Du N. Hers is that beauty by the mind conferred,
The outward vestment lumined by the soul,
Which sets respect as centinel to guard
The treasure stored within, and from approach
Too near, restrains those whisperers of nought,
Who throng impertinent around the form,
Which owes to symmetry alone, and feature,
Its power to fascinate. There is a dignity
Withal in her simplicity, which awes
The surer for the company unwont
In which 'tis found. Nature herein has mocked
The cunning artist's skill, who, in a rim
Of purest silver sets his goodliest stone,
Making the metal richer for the gem.

  Xaint. Thou lovest her then?

  Du N. Are words denied the heart
Of firmest mould, or what enchains my tongue?
If life for life, if soul for soul exchanged,
So honour were retained, be mark of love,
Then love I her.

  Xaint. Thou surely wilt not wed her,
When easier terms—

  Du N. Now, by my sword's good point,
For that foul thought I could a vengeance take
Which should forbid all chance of like offence.
Ah! witness not these swelling veins, that I
Myself am heir of wanton shame, and worse,
Of broken faith? Sits not the stamp accursed
Of bastardy upon my brow, to dim
The gems that in my coronet might sparkle?
And shall I imitate the vice I scorn,
And wring some breast with anguish like my own?
Hear me, ye mighty Pow'rs above, if e'er,
Through me, should fall the tear of broken virtue;
If cry of babe that may not bear my name,
Ascend, then may that tear consume my heart,
And that faint cry o'erpower my prayer for mercy.

  Xaint. I meant not to offend: my foolish words
Thus oft disgrace my thoughts.

  Du N. Enough! if mine
She e'er become 't shall be in holiest bands;
But if thou value me, ne'er breathe the secret.
She is not to be won as other maids,
And never can I brook refusal. Hark!
The trumpet calls.

  Xaint. I leave thee for my post.

  Du N. And I for mine.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 2 SCENE 4 Joan of Arc Play

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