Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 4 - Scene 4
Gardens

  Richemont.   Attendant.

  Riche. Hast found the wretch?

  Att. She stands hard by.

  Riche. Summon her!
I must be rid of thee, maid of Orleans!
The cup or poniard were an easy way!
But this were simple vengeance—poor revenge!
Disgrace! yes infamy must stain her glory,
Shame, public hate. But much I fear her firmness,
High belief of Heaven's consenting will.
Yet shall she yield! To Compeigne, not to Domremie
Must she depart. The hag must aid me then.
Persuade her to depart—their meeting known,
Shall stamp suspicion first of foulest crime;
And in the event of victory or defeat
Shall work her ruin!

Enter   Widow.

  Wid. Am I then so near him?
Lie still, my heart, lest these convulsive throbbings
Mar my last wish.

  Riche. Time wears—dares she delay?
(perceives her,) I sent for thee.

  Wid. And I, at risk of life,
Am come. What wouldst thou have from me?

  Riche. Respect.

  Wid. I give it where 'tis due: never where not.

  Riche. Wretch! knowst of what thou art accused?—of arts
Which make obedient slaves and friends of devils.

  Wid. And thou of hell's worst crimes—of pride, of murder.
Richemont, I know thee, who thou art and what!
Put up thy ready dagger; I despise it—
Ay, mock thy wrath! my misery is my safeguard;
None care, not even thou, to murder one
Who would most gladly die!

  Riche. What thus unnerves
My arm and chains my tongue?

  Wid. Thy wishes too,
Thy aim I know. The maid has roused thy hate,
And thou wouldst work her fall:—'tis worthy thee.
There is no need of aiding hand of thine—
Her lamp burns dim, to utter darkness dim.

  Riche. (aside. Ha! that were worth belief! but true or false
They must be seen together, and report
Be spread the fiend himself had tempted her.)
Not hate, mine is good will. France needs her arm,
Yet doth she hesitate. Go, seek her quick!
(I will secure thee,) win her to comply,
And richly paint the glory which awaits her.

  Wid. Thinkst thou that she will heed what I might say?
She cannot if she would; none may avoid
Their fated hour!—thine too is fixed, and mine!
And, oh, that it were come!

  Riche. Dost thou refuse?

  Wid. I neither do refuse nor promise thee;
My inclination is my law, and mark!
None else will I obey.

  Riche. Dost seek a bribe?
If hunger pinch, or thirst provoke desire,
This purse—

  Wid. Perish thy gold! back with thy dross!
Nor dare again insult the misery
That thou and thine have wrought. I called thee murderer!
And such thou art! Will gold redeem the dead?
Bribe the cold grave? Have these poor weeds so changed me,
Has frenzy so deformed what once was fair,
That recollection of me has escaped thee?
Then thus I'll shriek into thy ears—I was
Camouse's wife—was mother of his sons;
Those sleepers in the bloody grave thou gav'st them.
What am I now?—suspected and a wanderer!
Am mad—and worse than all,—I know I'm mad!
Look not on me—thy glance inflames my brain,
And dries the curses on my parched tongue
I long have sought to utter to thy face.
Blasted of Heaven! I will not meet thee more
Till I shall meet thee there. (pointing to heaven.)

[Exit   Widow.

  Riche. Ho! seize the wretch!
And let fierce tortures—gone!—still do I hear her—
Still I shudder. Is conscience then no tale
To frighten coward hearts, and is there truth
In retribution?

Enter   Valancour.

Ha! what has delayed thee?

  Val. But now I've left the council.

  Riche. The result!
The maid! has she then consented?

  Val. She has!

  Riche. 'Twas sure she would; and yet I guess not easily.

  Val. Compliance was most hardly wrung from her.
Remonstrance, argument, entreaty failed:
Her constant answer was—"What Heaven gave charge
To do, is done—I may no more essay
In warrant of his will." In vain Du Nois
Appealed to love of martial fame: she heard,
Though not unmoved, yet resolutely firm:
But when the king, half angered, turned away
Half sorrowful, and thus reproachful said,
"Then thou too wilt desert me in my need,"
Sudden she stayed her step, (for she was passing,)
One look inexplicable cast on him,
Then springing to his feet she sobbed convulsed,
"Though all the world desert thee will not I!"—
She leaves at dawn.

  Riche. Du Nois?

  Val. Will follow us.
Xaintrailles, myself, are ordered to attend her.

  Riche. Fortune doth smile on thee! the friend of both,
Sharer of their toils!—needs of their felicity:
The foe dispersed, the nuptial feast succeeds,
And grateful to thy heart the thought, thy arm,
Thy blood their fondest, gentlest wishes aided.

  Val. Forbear, my lord! the subject is no jest.

  Riche. What envy thou wilt raise! Friendship's just claims
Must too be thine—to aid in his espousals.

  Val. (aside.) He racks my heart.

  Riche. First in his train appear
With smiling face, yielding alone to him
In bliss.

  Val. No more.

  Riche. What joy to hear the vow
That makes her his, and read the rapt'rous look
Returned.

  Val. Hold! hold! she never shall be his!

  Riche. Then heed the counsel I have given thee.

  Val. It is too late.

  Riche. A better chance awaits thee;
She meets the foe!—meets!—when shall she return?

  Val. Dip my hand in blood of her! I cannot.

  Riche. Nor hast thou need. Du Nois must be detained:
My former counsel take. Thou knowst the plan.
Urge the attack—lead where escape is none!

  Val. My soul recoils at such a damned deed!

  Riche. Then play the gentler part—attune the lyre,
Forthwith prepare thy gayest suit—be first
To hail her bride of Count Du Nois! I leave thee,
Fully to enjoy the blissful prospect.

[Exit   Richemont.

  Val. Fierce madness fires my brain! Assist me, Heaven,
Or, better still, ye fiercest spirits aid me,
Bride of Du Nois! myself despised, or worse,
Pitied perhaps by both! held in contempt
By Richemont too, and taunted for my weakness!
Sooner shall earth engulph, or lightnings blast me!
Farewell remorse!—farewell to pity!

[Exit.

  Widow at the back.

  Wid. No!
Not by such villainy shall her career
Be ended. I'll follow her, and save her!

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 4 SCENE 5 Joan of Arc Play

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