Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 4 - Scene 5
Compeigne in the distance. Troops pass. A distant storm

  Widow.

  Wid. The city's walls are distant yet,
And weary with the way I sink exhausted.
How black the sky! a fearful storm is near.
That flash! hark! the low thunder threat'ning growls!
The trumpet's call I hear: and now bright swords
Gleam in the darkness! I must not tarry.

[Exit.

Field of Battle.

  Joan,   Xaintrailles,   French Officers.

  Xaint. The tide is fiercely set against our squadrons.
Thy presence only can restore the day.

  Joan. A cloud is on my mind, a dreadful weight
Bears down my soul. Du Nois!

Enter   Valancour.

  Val. (aside,) Nought but Dunois.
That name decides thy fate.

  Xaint. Far distant yet.

  Joan. Alas! and Valancour?

  Val. Here by thy side!

  Joan. How goes the fight with thine?

  Val. All is reversed!
A thousand furies arm the English bands,
While ours, so late extravagantly brave,
Appear irresolute, and struck with dread!

  Joan. (aside,) They falter for my sin. The righteous One,
In wakened wrath, has turned away his face,
Since 'gainst conviction's voice I weakly yielded.

  Val. Clouds have obscured the sun, and veiled the sky.
The omen is an evil one!

  Xaint. To whom?
What greater fury rent the vaulted sky
At Orlean's fight, or Patay's gallant field?
Let him his sentence read in signs who wills;
Brave men no omen fear but lukewarm hearts.

  Val. That ill-timed taunt thou shalt repent ere long.
I'll lead where few shall dare to follow.

  Joan. Cease!
Waste not the time in words! renew the attack!
These guard our rear—Xaintrailles must lead with me.

  Val. Shall I then be forgot? E'en on this field
Must I receive fresh proof of hate?

  Joan. Forbear!
Love is not ours, but hate thee, Valancour!
Oh! wrong me not so sorely.

  Val. No matter,
Loved or despised I will be first in danger!
And if I meet with death I'll welcome him,
As sent from thee.

[Exit.

  Joan. We must not lose such friend,
Nor let his gallant bearing shame ourselves!

  Xaint. None here dispute thy wish: lead on!

[Exeunt.

Enter   Du Nois, &c. &c.

  Du N. She's lost
If but a single step she venture further.
Tenfold the force the enemy assembles.
A rescue!

[Exit   Du Nois.

Enter   Valancour.

  Val. To the trench! Mark well the signal;—
Let the enemy approach—then retreat—
The gates that ope to us will close to her.

Enter   Widow.

  Wid. Back! ye proceed no further!

  Val. Who art thou?

  Wid. One who will be obeyed!

  Val. What chains your feet?
Pass on!

  Wid. Ye pass not here, unless ye force
A passage through my heart.

  Val. Then take thy fate.
So perish all hell's crew! Forward! secure her!

  Wid. And thou art come at last, O lovely death!
And I shall die as died my lord, my boys,
By bloody sword! there's joy in that. Strength fails,
Yet must I see her.

Enter   Joan, &c.

Stay!

  Joan. Thou on this field!
Release thy hold! one moment lost we lose
A friend!

  Wid. A foe! tool of a baser villain!
He seeks thy death. A weary way I've sped
To gain thy speech, and now life ebbs so fast—
See! they have pierced my side—that scarce the tale—
Richemont has sold thy life, and Valancour—
I told thee, if we met——

[Dies.

  Joan. Man, man abandons me,
Not Heaven! we are betrayed, but not by thee!
And see! the beauteous bow his hand hath bent,
And token made of peace, where mercy sits
To smile away despair. My spirit's free,
And my heart beats as formerly 'twas wont.
Forward, ye brave! Remember Orlean's walls,
And let us pluck, if not the conqueror's crown,
A wreath to deck the grave our land shall hallow.
For the last time, Xaintrailles, wilt follow me?

  Xaint. Wherever thou shalt lead—be it to death!

[Exeunt.

Enter   English Officers and   Soldiers.

Make prisoner of the maid! touch not her life
Unless compelled. Ne'er quail and look aghast!
She waves no consecrated banner now!
See Valancour retreats!—now hem her round.

[Exeunt.

Enter   Xaintrailles and   Joan.

  Xaint. Thou'rt wounded!

  Joan. Heed it not! tarry no longer;
'Tis of slight moment. Du Nois!—this faintness—
Leave me here. Cut through thy way to join him,
And all may yet be well!

  Xaint. 'Tis our last chance.

  Joan. Save him, Heaven! never more shall I behold him!
Oh! I am faint almost to death!

[Leans on a tree.

Enter   English Officers and   Soldiers.

  Off. 'Tis she!
Yield thee our prisoner!

  Joan. Never whilst strength
Remains. (Shields herself.)

  Off. Seize her!

  Joan. Stand off! nor dare to touch me!
My life, if Heaven have so decreed, be yours;
Free have I lived! free will I die!

[As she is beaten on her knees   Valancour enters.

  Val. Forbear!

  Joan. It is too late! deserved I this? I pardon—

[Faints—the Soldiers bear her off.

Enter   Du Nois.

  Du N. Turn, traitor! villain!
Stand on thy guard!

  Val. Seekst thou revenge!—'tis thine!
Here in the shout that rings upon my ear,
Here in the glance that curst me with forgiveness.
I will not fight with thee, Du Nois! nor will
I face an honourable man again.

[Exit.

  Du Nois. Go to thy fate!
While I will never sheathe this sword till I
Have rescued or avenged her!

END OF THE FOURTH ACT.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 5 SCENE 1 Joan of Arc Play

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