Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Play
by J.A. Sargant

Act 5 - Scene 8

Enter   Du Nois.

  Du N. The guards, it seems, suspected me, and made
Access impossible.

Enter   Xaintrailles and others.

  Xaint. Turn, turn Du Nois!
Make for the eastern gate!

  Du N. Is she then safe?

  Xaint. It is no time for words: we must be gone.

  Du N. Is the maid safe? I ask. Du Nois doth ask.

  Xaint. Canst thou be ignorant?

  Du N. Say on, or deep
Within thy breast—speak!

  Xaint. Thy grasp doth choke me.
Release thy hold!

  Du N. Now answer me, and quickly.
Where is the maid?

  Xaint. Look on yon rising cloud:
Safe in its breast her spirit mounts to heaven,
That mercy to implore which man denied her.

[  Du Nois sinks on his knee, and continues to watch the cloud.

  Officer to   Xaint. How calm he is become!

  Du N. One speck alone—
Now not a trace remains. (rises.) How died the maid?
Suppress no circumstance, no word, no look.

  Xaint. Thou hast beheld her in the shock of battle,
Midst dangers calm, when stoutest bosoms shook.
Hast often seen, how in such fearful times,
She would upraise her speaking eyes to heaven,
And stand in silence, while her countenance
Reflected beams she thence appeared to catch;
Such was her bearing then. Her step was firm,
Yet modest, as might properly become
One, who in presence of her mighty Judge
Must quickly stand. Nor had her wonted smile
Forsook her lip, but lingered, loath to part,
Its former sweetness mixed with heavenly hope.
Nor scowling eye, (for savage looks were there,)
Nor piercing gaze, nor pity's tender glance,
Nor urgent priest's dire threats to fright or force
Confession from her lips, she heeded once:
Save when to the accursed pile fast bound,
He pointed to the smoking heap around her,
And bade her timely think what hotter flames
Awaited one who had been leagued with devils.
Then passed a sudden flash o'er her pale cheek,
And in those tones so often proved resistless,
"Blessed," she said, "is he who hath reserved
All judgment to himself. May thy injustice
Be forgotten when thou most needest mercy."
A hideous shout was raised—my blood with horror—

  Du N. Thou couldst not longer look?

  Xaint. I shuddering fled.
The sound of crackling blaze, the trumpet's wail,
The groan of thousands ringing in my ear,
In dread of what to thee—

  Du N. And she is gone,
In ignorance of all I felt for her,
Or could have done! And nought remains of her
That I might see how lovely even death
Can show himself, when to the lovely joined;
Might cheat my soul awhile she did but sleep,
And seal a last, first kiss upon her brow!
Earth not a particle now holds of her,
O'er which these stranger drops might fall!

  Xaint. Du Nois!
Can this be so?

  Du N. I do not hide my face
Ashamed thou shouldst behold Du Nois can weep;
Or show how grief can bend e'en his stern spirit:
But when in after days you speak of this,
And I perchance have found a bloody grave,
Say, nought in life he dared, so awful seemed,
As sight of agony which wrung his heart,
And sank the soldier in the man.

  Xaint. Assist me.
Let's bear him hence.

THE END.

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