Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 5 - Scene 5

  Warwick.   Countess.

  Count. Hail, lovely May!
Thou month of flowers, sweet hopes and rapt'rous song;
Young zephyrs kiss thy steps and scatter bliss.
But how! thou dost not answer, dost not heed me.

  War. This cheerful sky ill suits this day's proceedings.
The maid this morning is condemned to die.

  Count. Canst thou not save her? If my Warwick plead,
None may resist him.

  War. Bedford, Burgundy,
Have not, my gentle Alice, hearts like thine.
As well might I essay to win, by words,
The ravening tiger to relax his hold,
When the first taste of blood is on his tongue,
As these to mitigate the maiden's doom.

  Count. She must not die—so young, and, I could say,
Although it scents of war, so brave; and, ah!
Perhaps some gallant knight has won her heart.
It must be so! woman was born to love—
The mean, some mean companion to divide
Her joys; the noble, one than self more noble—
That heavy sigh!

  War. A hateful task is mine.
The barbarous sentence I must see enforced.
Oh! would we were upon the banks of Avon!—

  Count. Would that we were! my arm fast lock'd in thine,
Not clad in steel, but—

  War. Hark! the bell has struck
That calls me to my duty.

  Count. I did not hear it.
The wind, more kind than thou, has shook its wings,
And the unwelcome sound dispersed in pity.
Nay, thou mayst linger yet.

Enter   Attendant, followed by   Dunois.

  War. Whence this intrusion?

  Du N. Bid him retire. (Raises his vizor.)

  War. Du Nois! what madness brings thee?

  Du N. That which hath turned the fate of empires, kings—
Mine now is in thy hands.

  War. Explain. (I tremble.)

  Du N. This is no time for words—less for concealment.
This day—a deed—

  War. Oh, heaven!

  Du N. What wouldst venture
For sake of yon sweet form should ill assail her?

  War. My life were worthless in such cause.

  Du N. Couldst see her
Dragged from thy arms to meet a horrid death?

  War. Earth's potentates combined should fail to part us.

  Du N. Warwick! there was a time when ice had bound
These lips, and easier 'twere to die than speak.
I felt ashamed it should be thought I loved;
But now, with equal agony and pride,
I own—I love.—

  War. The maid! unhappy friend!

  Du N. Thou hast not, then, forgot thy former pledge—
The pledge thou gav'st, when from my hands redeemed,
"Should ever need be thine—remember Warwick."
I claim it now.

  War. Name ought I can concede,
But spare, oh, spare what honour must forbid
Du Nois to ask, or Warwick grant.

[Going,

  Du N. Stay! hear me!
Give but the word, the countersign agreed,
And by the holy fount of truth I swear
No blood of thine shall flow this day through me.
Nay, more, if ought of blame attach to thee,
I swear to place myself in Bedford's power.
Let me not plead in vain. By all that justice,
By all that mercy, all that pity wakes,
By all that thou hast sworn of love to woman,
Grant my request!

  War. Cease! cease! a cruel strife
Thou raisest in my breast.

[Countess kneels to   Warwick.

  Du N. Ah! see who pleads!
Canst thou resist that look? By this joint act—

  War. Du Nois, my Alice, rise—spare me this trial.

  Du N. End this suspense.

  War. It must not, cannot be.
Witness, O Heaven! what this denial costs.
But honour's laws forbid what feeling prompts—
The friend would grant—the soldier must deny.

[Going, he returns.

Wouldst see her once again—here is my signet—
Thou needst not pity less than I. Farewell.

[Exeunt.

  Du N. Cut off from ev'ry hope!—friend, foe alike—
Has Heaven itself forgotten to be just?
Oh, curse of courage, impotence of strength,
Panting to dare the worst, denied the means.
But I shall see her once again—Oh, joy!
Oh, agony! can ye indeed thus meet?

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS       Continue to ACT 5 SCENE 6 Joan of Arc Play

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