Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

A MONK OF FIFE
Chapters X - XVII

CHAPTER X
HOW NORMAN LESLIE WAS OUT OF ALL COMFORT

My brethren the good Benedictine Fathers here in Pluscarden Priory, are wont betimes to be merry over my penitents, for all the young lads and lasses in the glen say they are fain to be shriven by old Father Norman and by no other.

This that my brethren report may well be true, and yet I take no shame in the bruit or "fama." For as in my hot youth I suffered sorrows many from love, so now I may say, like that Carthaginian queen in Maro, "miseris succurrere disco." The years of the youth of most women and men are like a tourney, or jousts courteous, and many fall in the lists of love, and many carry sorer wounds away from Love's spears, than they wot of who do but look on from the safe seats and secure pavilions of age. Though all may seem but a gentle and joyous passage of arms, and the weapons that they use but arms of courtesy, yet are shrewd blows dealt and wounds taken which bleed inwardly, perchance through a whole life long. To medicine these wounds with kind words is, it may be, part of my poor skill as a healer of souls in my degree, and therefore do the young resort to Father Norman.

Some confessors there be who laugh within their hearts at these sorrows of lovers, as if they were mere "nugae" and featherweights: others there are who wax impatient, holding all love for sin in some degree, and forgetting that Monseigneur St. Peter himself was a married man, and doubtless had his own share of trouble and amorous annoy when he was winning the lady his wife, even as other men. But if I be of any avail (as they deem) in the healing of hearts, I owe my skill of that surgery to remembrance of the days of my youth, when I found none to give me comfort, save what I won from a book that my master had in hand to copy and adorn, namely, "The Book of One Hundred Ballades, containing Counsel to a Knight, that he should love loyally"; this counsel offered by Messire Lyonnet de Coismes, Messire Jehan de Mailly, the Sieur d'Yvry, and many other good knights that were true lovers. Verily, in sermons of preachers and lives of holy men I found no such comfort.

Almost the sorest time of my sorrowing was for very grief of heart when Elliot set forth on pilgrimage to Puy en Velay, for we were but newly come together; "twain we were with one heart," as a maker sang whom once I met in France ere I came back to Scotland; sweetly could he make, but was a young clerk of no godly counsel, and had to name Maitre Francoys Villon. Our heart was one, the heart of Elliot and mine own, and lo! here, in a day, it was torn asunder and we were set apart by the wisdom of men.

I remember me how I lay wakeful on the night before the day when Elliot should depart. Tossing and turning, I lay till the small fowls brake forth with their songs, and my own thought seemed to come and go, and come again in my head, like the "ritournelle" of the birds. At last I might not endure, but rose and attired myself very early, and so went down into the chamber. Thither presently came Elliot, feigning wonder to find me arisen, and making pretence that she was about her housewiferies, but well I wot that she might sleep no more than I. The old housewife coming and going through the room, there we devised, comforting each other with hopes and prayers; indeed we sorely wanted comfort, because never till we were wed, if ever that should be, might we have such solace of each other's presence as we desired. Then I brought from the workshop a sheet of vellum and colours, and the painting tools, and so fashioned a little picture of her, to wear within the breast of my doublet. A rude thing it was and is, for what gold, however finely handled, could match with her golden hair, whereof, at my desire, she gave me a lock; and of all worldly gear from my secular life, these and the four links of my mother's chain alone are still mine, and where my heart is there is my treasure. And she, too, must clip a long curl of my hair, for as yet it was not cut "en ronde," as archers use to wear it, but when she came again, she said she would find me shrewdly shaven, and then would love me no longer. Then she laughed and kissed me, and fell to comforting me for that she would not be long away.

"And in three months or four," she said, "the King will be sacred at Rheims, and the Maid will give you red wine to drink in Paris town, and the English will be swept into the sea, and then we shall have peace and abundance."

"And then shall we be wedded, and never part," I cried; whereat she blushed, bidding me not be over bold, for her heart might yet change, and so laughed again; and thus we fleeted the time, till her father came and sent her about disposing such things as she must take with her. Among these she was set on carrying her jackanapes, to make her merry on the road, though here I was of another counsel. For in so great a gathering there must be many gangrel folk, and among them, peradventure, the violer woman, who would desire to have the creature given back to her. But, if it were so, Elliot said she would purchase the jackanapes, "for I am no lifter of other men's cattle, as all you Scots are, and I am fain to own my jackanapes honestly."

So she carried him with her, the light chain about her wrist, and he riding on her saddle-bow, for presently, with many banners waving and with singing of hymns, came the troop who wended together on pilgrimage. Many townsfolk well armed were there to guard their women; the flags of all the crafts were on the wind; the priests carried blessed banners; so with this goodly company, and her confessor, and her father's old kinswoman, Elliot rode away. The jackanapes was screeching on her saddle-bow, her yellow hair was lifted on her shoulder with the light breeze; her father rode the first two stages with them. Merry enough they seemed that went, and the bells were chiming, but I was left alone, my heart empty, or only full of useless longings. I betook myself, therefore, to a chapel hard by, and there made my orisons for their safety and for good speed to the Maid and her holy enterprise.

Thereafter there was no similitude for me and my unhappy estate, save that of a dog who has lost his master in a strange place, and goes questing everywhere, and comfortless. Then Randal Rutherford, coming to visit me, found me such a lackmirth, he said, and my wits so distraught, that a love-sick wench were better company for a man- at-arms.

"Cheer up, man," he said. "Look at me, did I not leave my heart at Branxholme Mains with Mally Grieve, and so in every town where I have been in garrison, and do you see me cast down? Off with this green sickness, or never will you have strength to march with the Maid, where there is wealth to be won, and golden coronets, and gaudy stones, such as Saunders Macausland took off the Duke of Clarence at Bauge. Faith, between the wound Capdorat gave you and this arrow of Dan Cupid's in your heart, I believe you will not be of strength to carry arms till there is not a pockpudding left in broad France. Come forth, and drain a pot or two of wine, or, if the leech forbids it, come, I will play you for all that is owing between you and me."

With that he lugged out his dice and fetched a tablier, but presently vowed that it was plain robbery, for I could keep no count of the game. Therewith he left me, laughing and mocking, and saying that I had been bolder with Robin Lindsay's lass.

Being alone and out of all comfort, I fell to wandering in the workroom, and there lit, to my solace, on that blessed book of the hundred ballades, which my master was adorning with pictures, and with scarlet, blue, and gold. It set forth how a young knight, in sorrow of love, was riding between Pont de Ce and Angiers, and how other knights met him and gave him counsel. These lines I read, and getting them by rote, took them for my device, for they bid the lover thrust himself foremost in the press, and in breach, mine, and escalade.

S'en assault viens, devant te lance,
En mine, en eschielle, en tous lieux
Ou proesce les bons avance,
Ta Dame t'en aimera mieux.


But reading soon grew a weariness to me, as my life was, and my master coming home, bade me be of better cheer.

"By St. Andrew," quoth he, "this is no new malady of thine, but well known to leeches from of old, and never yet was it mortal! Remede there is none, save to make ballades and rondels, and forget sorrow in hunting rhymes, if thou art a maker. Thou art none? Nay, nor ever was I, lad; but I have had this disease, and yet you see me whole and well. Come, lend me a hand at painting in these lilies; it passes not thy skill."

So I wrought some work whereof I have reason to be proud, for these lilies were carried wheresoever blows and honour were to be won, ay, and where few might follow them. Meanwhile, my master devised with me about such sights as he had seen on the way, and how great a concourse was on pilgrimage to Puy, and how, if prayers availed, the cause of France was won; "and yet, in England too, wives are praying for their lords, and lasses for their lads in France. But ours is the better quarrel."

So that weary day went by, one of the longest that I have known, and other days, till now the leech said that I might go back to the castle, though that I might march to the wars he much misdoubted. Among the archers I had the best of greetings, and all quarrels were laid by, for, as was said, we were to set forth to Orleans, where would be blows enough to stay the greediest stomach. For now the Maid had won all hearts, taking some with her piety, and others with her wit and knowledge, that confounded the doctors, how she, a simple wench, was so subtle in doctrine, which might not be but by inspiration. Others, again, were moved by her mirth and good- fellowship, for she would strike a man-at-arms on the shoulder like a comrade, and her horsemanship and deftness with sword and lance bewitched others, she seeming as valiant and fair as these lady crusaders of whom old romances tell. And others, again, she gained by bourdes and jests; others by her manners, the fairest and most courtly that might be, for she, a manant's daughter, bore herself as an equal before the blood of France, and was right dear to the young bride of the fair Duc d'Alencon. Yet was there about her such a grace of purity, as of one descended from the skies, that no man of them all was so hardy as to speak to her of love, or even so much as to think thereof in the secret of his heart.

So all reported of her, and she had let write a letter to the English at Orleans, bidding them yield to God and the Maid, and begone to their own country, lest a worse thing befall them. At this letter they mocked, swearing that they would burn her heralds who carried the message. But the King had named her chief of war, and given her a household, with a good esquire, Jean d'Aulon, to govern it, and all that beseems noble or royal blood. New armour had been made for her, all of steel and silver, and there was talk of a sword that she had come by in no common way, but through revelation of the saints. For she being in Tours had it revealed to her that a certain ancient sword, with five crosses on the blade, lay buried behind the altar of St. Catherine of Fierbois. An armourer of Tours was therefore sent thither, and after much labour and search they of St. Catherine's Church found that sword, very ancient, and much bestained with rust. Howbeit, they cleaned it and made for it a sheath of cloth of gold. Nevertheless, the Maid wore it in a leathern scabbard.

CHAPTER XI
HOW MADAME CATHERINE OF FIERBOIS WROUGHT
A MIRACLE FOR A SCOT, AND HOW NORMAN RODE TO THE WARS

Now, in this place I cannot withhold me from telling of an adventure which at this very time befell, though it scarce belongs to my present chronicle. But it may be that, in time to come, faith will wax cold, and the very saints be misdoubted of men. It therefore behoves me not to hold back the truth which I know, and which this tale makes plain and undeniable even by Hussites, Lollards, and other miscreants. For he who reads must be constrained to own that there is no strait so terrible but the saints can bring safely forth therefrom such men as call upon them.

There came at this season to Chinon from Fierbois (where the Maid's sword was found by miracle) a Scottish archer, not aforetime of our company, though now he took service with us. He was named Michael Hamilton, and was a tall man and strong, grim of face, sudden in anger, heavy of hand, walked a little lame, and lacked one ear. That which follows he himself told to us and to our chaplain, Father Urquhart, and I myself have read it in the Book of the Miracles of Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois. {22}

You must know that Brittany, as at this time, held for the English, and Michael Hamilton had gone thither reiving and pillaging the country with a company of Scots men-at-arms. Hard by a place called Clisson they had seized a deserted tower and held it for some days. It so fell out that they took a burgess of the country, who was playing the spy on their quarters; him they put to the torture, and so learned that the English were coming against them with a great company of men-at-arms and of the country folk, on that very night. They therefore delayed no longer than to hang the spy from a sufficient bough of a tree, this Michael doing what was needful, and so were hurrying to horse, when, lo! the English were upon them. Not having opportunity to reach the stables and mount, Michael Hamilton fled on foot, with what speed he might, but sorely impeded by the weight of his armour. The country folk, therefore, being light of foot, easily overtook him, and after slaying one and wounding more, he was caught in a noose of rope thrown over him from behind. Now, even as he felt the noose tighten about his arms, he (though not commonly pious beyond the wont of men-at-arms) vowed in his heart to make a pilgrimage to Fierbois, and to the shrine of Madame St. Catherine, if she would but aid him. And, indeed, he was ever a worshipper of St. Catherine, she being the patroness of his own parish kirk, near Bothwell. None the less, he was overcome and bound, whereon he that had thrown the noose, and was son of the spy whom Michael had hanged, vowed that he would, with his own hands, hang Michael. No ransom would this manant take, nor would he suffer Michael, as a gentleman of blood and birth, to die by the sword. So hanged Michael was; doubt not but it was done in the best manner, and there he was left hanging.

Now, that night of Maundy Thursday the cure of Clisson was in his chamber and was about to go to bed. But as he made ready for bed he heard, from a corner of the chamber, a clear voice saying, "Go forth and cut down the Scots man-at-arms who was hanged, for he yet lives."

The cure, thinking that he must be half asleep and dreaming, paid no manner of regard to these commands. Thereon the voice, twice and thrice, spoke aloud, none save the cure being present, and said, "Go forth and cut down the Scots man-at-arms who was hanged, for he yet lives."

It often so chances that men in religion are more hard of heart to believe than laymen and the simple. The cure, therefore, having made all due search, and found none living who could have uttered that voice, went not forth himself, but at noon of Good Friday, his service being done, he sent his sexton, as one used not to fear the sight and company of dead men. The sexton set out, whistling for joy of the slaying of the Scot, but when he came back he was running as fast as he might, and scarce could speak for very fear. At the last they won from him that he had gone to the tree where the dead Scot was hanging, and first had heard a faint rustle of the boughs. Not affrighted, the sexton drew out a knife and slit one of Michael's bare toes, for they had stripped him before they hanged him. At the touch of the knife the blood came, and the foot gave a kick, whereon the sexton hastened back with these tidings to the cure. The holy man, therefore, sending for such clergy as he could muster, went at their head, in all his robes canonical, to the wild wood, where they cut Michael down and rubbed his body and poured wine into his throat, so that, at the end of half an hour, he sat up and said, "Pay Waiter Hay the two testers that I owe him."

Thereon most ran and hid themselves, as if from a spirit of the dead, but the manant, he whose father Michael had hanged, made at him with a sword, and dealt him a great blow, cutting off his ear. But others who had not fled, and chiefly the cure, held the manant till his hands were bound, that he might not slay one so favoured of Madame St. Catherine. Not that they knew of Michael's vow, but it was plain to the cure that the man was under the protection of Heaven. Michael then, being kindly nursed in a house of a certain Abbess, was wellnigh recovered, and his vow wholly forgotten, when lo! he being alone, one invisible smote his cheek, so that the room rang with the buffet, and a voice said to him, "Wilt thou never remember thy pilgrimage?" Moved, therefore, to repentance, he stole the cure's horse, and so, journeying by night till he reached France, he accomplished his vows, and was now returned to Chinon. This Michael Hamilton was hanged, not very long afterwards, by command of the Duc d'Alencon, for plundering a church at Jargeau.

The story I have thought it behoved me to tell in this place, because it shows how good and mild is Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois, also lest memory of it be lost in Scotland, where it cannot but be of great comfort to all gentlemen of Michael's kin and of the name and house of Hamilton. Again, I tell it because I heard it at this very season of my waiting to be recovered of my wound. Moreover, it is a tale of much edification to men-at-arms, as proving how ready are the saints to befriend us, even by speaking as it were with human voices to sinful men. Of this I myself, later, had good proof, as shall be told, wherefore I praise and thank the glorious virgin, Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois.

This tale was the common talk in Chinon, which I heard very gladly, taking pleasure in the strangeness of it. And in the good fortune of the Maid I was yet more joyful, both for her own sake and for Elliot's, to whom she was so dear. But, for my own part, the leeches gave me little comfort, saying that I might in no manner set forth with the rest, for that I could not endure to march on foot, but must die by the way.

Poor comfort was this for me, who must linger in garrison while the fortune of France was on the cast of the dice, and my own fortune was to be made now or never. So it chanced that one day I was loitering in the gateway, watching the soldiers, who were burnishing armour, sharpening swords, and all as merry and busy as bees in spring. Then to me comes my master, with a glad countenance, and glad was I, for these eight days or nine I had no tidings of him, and knew not if Elliot had returned from pilgrimage. I rose to greet him, and he took my hand, bidding me be of good cheer, for that he had good tidings. But what his news might be he would not tell me; I must come with him, he said, to his house.

All about his door there was much concourse of people, and among them two archers led a great black charger, fairly caparisoned, and covered with a rich silk hucque of colour cramoisie, adorned with lilies of silver. As I marvelled who the rider might be, conceiving that he was some great lord, the door of my master's house opened, and there, within, and plain to view, was Elliot embracing a young knight; and over his silver armour fell her yellow hair, covering gorget and rere-brace. Then my heart stood still, my lips opened but gave no cry, when, lo! the knight kissed her and came forth, all in shining armour, but unhelmeted. Then I saw that this was no knight, but the Maid herself, boden in effeir of war, {23} and so changed from what she had been that she seemed a thing divine. If St. Michael had stepped down from a church window, leaving the dragon slain, he would have looked no otherwise than she, all gleaming with steel, and with grey eyes full of promise of victory: the holy sword girdled about her, and a little battle-axe hanging from her saddle-girth. She sprang on her steed, from the mounting- stone beside the door, and so, waving her hand, she cried farewell to Elliot, that stood gazing after her with shining eyes. The people went after the Maid some way, shouting Noel! and striving to kiss her stirrup, the archers laughing, meanwhile, and bidding them yield way. And so we came, humbly enough, into the house, where, her father being present and laughing and the door shut, Elliot threw her arms about me and wept and smiled on my breast.

"Ah, now I must lose you again," she said; whereat I was half glad that she prized me so; half sorry, for that I knew I might not go forth with the host. This ill news I gave them both, we now sitting quietly in the great chamber.

"Nay, thou shalt go," said Elliot. "Is it not so, father? For the Maid gave her promise ere she went to Poictiers, and now she is fulfilling it. For the gentle King has given her a household-- pages, and a maitre d'hotel, a good esquire, and these two gentlemen who rode with her from Vaucouleurs, and an almoner, Brother Jean Pasquerel, an Augustine, that the Maid's mother sent with us from Puy, for we found her there. And the Maid has appointed you to go with her, for that you took her part when men reviled her. And money she has craved from the King; and Messire Aymar de Puiseux, that was your adversary, is to give you a good horse, for that you may not walk. And, above all, the Maid has declared to me that she will bring you back to us unscathed of sword, but, for herself, she shall be wounded by an arrow under Orleans, yet shall she not die, but be healed of that wound, and shall lead the King to his sacring at Rheims. So now, verily, for you I have no fear, but my heart is sore for the Maid's sake, and her wound."

None the less, she made as if she would dance for joy, and I could have done as much, not, indeed, that as then I put my faith in prophecies, but for gladness that I was to take my fortune in the wars. So the hours passed in great mirth and good cheer. Many things we spoke of, as concerning the mother of the Maid--how wise she was, yet in a kind of amazement, and not free from fear, wherefore she prayed constantly for her child.

Moreover Elliot told me that the jackanapes was now hers of right, for that the woman, its owner, had been at Puy, but without her man, and had sold it to her, as to a good mistress, yet with tears at parting. This news was none of the gladdest to me, for still I feared that tidings of us might come to Brother Thomas. Howbeit, at last, with a light heart, though I was leaving Elliot, I went back to the castle. There Aymar de Puiseux, meeting me, made me the best countenance, and gave me a right good horse, that I named Capdorat after him, by his good will. And for my armour, which must needs be light, they gave me a maillet--a coat of slender mail, which did not gall my old wound. So accoutred, I departed next day, in good company, to Blois, whence the Maid was to set forth to Orleans. Marvel it was to find the road so full of bestial--oxen, cows, sheep, and swine--all gathered, as if to some great market, for the victualling of Orleans. But how they were to be got through the English lines into the city men knew not. For the English, by this time, had girdled the city all about with great bastilles, each joined to other by sunken ways dug in the earth, wherein were streets, and marts, and chambers with fires and chimneys, as I have written in my Latin chronicle. {24} There false Frenchmen came, as to a fair, selling and buying, with store of food, wine, arms, and things of price, buying and selling in safety, for the cannon and couleuvrines in the town could not touch them. But a word ran through the host how the Maid knew, by inspiration of the saints, that no man should sally forth from among the English, but that we should all pass unharmed.

Meantime the town of Blois was in great turmoil--the cattle lowing in the streets, the churches full to the doors of men-at-arms, waiting their turn to be shrived, for the Maid had ordained that all who followed her must go clean of sin. And there was great wailing of light o' loves, and leaguer lasses that had followed the army, as is custom, for this custom the Maid did away, and drove these women forth, and whither they wandered I know not. Moreover, she made proclamation that all dice, and tabliers, and instruments of gambling must be burned, and myself saw the great pile yet smoking in the public place, for this was to be a holy war. So we lodged at Blois, where the Maid showed me the best countenance, speaking favourable words of Elliot and me, and bidding me keep near her banner in battle, which I needed no telling to make me resolve to do. So there, for that night, we rested.

CHAPTER XII
HOW THE MAID CAME TO ORLEANS, AND OF THE
DOLOROUS STROKE THAT FIRST SHE STRUCK IN WAR

Concerning the ways of the saints, and their holy counsel, it is not for sinful men to debate, but verify their ways are not as our ways, as shall presently be shown, in the matter of the Maid's march to Orleans.

For the town of Blois, where now we lay, is, as all men know, on the right bank of the water of Loire, a great river, wider and deeper and stronger by far than our Tay or Tweed, and the town of Orleans, whither we were bound, is also on the same side, namely, the right side of the river. Now, Orleans was beleaguered in this manner: The great stone bridge had been guarded, on the left, or further side of the stream, first by a boulevard, or strong keep on the land, whence by a drawbridge men crossed to a yet stronger keep, called "Les Tourelles," builded on the last arches of the bridge. But early in the siege the English had taken from them of Orleans the boulevard and Les Tourelles, and an arch of the bridge had been broken, so that in nowise might men-at-arms of the party of France enter into Orleans by way of that bridge from the left bank through the country called Sologne.

Yet that keep, Les Tourelles, had not been a lucky prize to our enemies of England. For their great captain, the Lord Salisbury, had a custom to watch them of Orleans and their artillery from a window in that tower, and, to guard him from arrow-shots, he had a golden shield pierced with little holes to look through, that he held before his face. One day he came into this turret when they who worked the guns in Orleans were all at their meat. But it so chanced that two boys, playing truant from school, went into a niche of the wall, where was a cannon loaded and aimed at Les Tourelles. They, seeing the gleam of the golden shield at the window of the turret, set match to the touch-hole of the cannon, and, as Heaven would have it, the ball struck a splinter of stone from the side of the window, which, breaking through the golden shield, slew my Lord of Salisbury, a good knight. Thus plainly that tower was to be of little comfort to the English.

None the less, as they held Les Tourelles and the outer landward boulevard thereof, the English built but few works on the left side of the river, namely, Champ St. Prive, that guarded the road by the left bank from Blois; Les Augustins, that was a little inland from the boulevard of Les Tourelles, so that no enemy might pass between these two holds; and St. Jean le Blanc, that was higher up the river, and a hold of no great strength. On the Orleans side, to guard the road from Burgundy, the English had but one fort, St. Loup, for Burgundy and the north were of their part, and by this way they expected no enemy. But all about Orleans, on the right bank of the river, to keep the path from Blois on that hand, the English had builded many great bastilles, and had joined them by hollow ways, wherein, as I said, they lived at ease, as men in a secure city underground. And the skill of it was to stop convoys of food, and starve them of Orleans, for to take the town by open force the English might in nowise avail, they being but some four thousand men-at-arms.

Thus Matters stood, and it was the Maid's mind to march her men and all the cattle clean through and past the English bastilles on the right side of the river, and by inspiration she well knew that no man would come forth against us. Moreover, she saw not how, by the other way, and the left bank, the cattle might be ferried across, and the great company of men-at-arms, into Orleans town, under the artillery of the English. For the English held the pass of the broken bridge, as I said, and therefore all crossing of the water must be by boat.

Now, herein it was shown, as often again, that the ways of the saints are not as our ways. For the captains, namely, the Sieur de Rais (who afterwards came to the worst end a man might), and La Hire, and Ambroise de Lore, and De Gaucourt, in concert with the Bastard of Orleans, then commanding for the King in that town, gave the simple Maid to understand that Orleans was on the left bank of the river. This they did, because they were faithless and slow of belief, and feared that so great a company as ours might in nowise pass Meun and Beaugency, towns of the English, and convey so many cattle through the bastilles on the right bank. Therefore, with many priests going before, singing the Veni Creator, with holy banners as on a pilgrimage; with men-at-arms, archers, pages, and trains of carts; and with bullocks rowting beneath the goad, and swine that are very hard to drive, and slow-footed sheep, we all crossed the bridge of Blois on the morning of April 25th.

Now, had the holy saints deemed it wise and for our good to act as men do, verily they would have spoken to the Maid, telling her that we were all going clean contrary to her counsel. Nevertheless, the saints held their peace, and let us march on. Belike they designed that this should turn to the greater glory of the Maid and to the confusion of them that disbelieved, which presently befell, as I shall relate.

All one day of spring we rode, and slept beneath the stars, the Maid lying in her armour, so that as one later told me who knew, namely, Elliot, her body was sorely bruised with her harness. Early in the morning we mounted again, and so rode north, fetching a compass inland; after noontide we came to a height, and lo! beneath us lay the English bastilles and holds on the left bank, and, beyond the glittering river and the broken bridge, the towers and walls of Orleans. Then I saw the Maid in anger, for well she knew that she had been deceived by them who should have guided her. Between us and the town of Orleans lay the wide river, the broken bridge, and the camps of the English. On the further shore we beheld the people swarming on the walls and quays, labouring to launch boats with sails, and so purposing to ascend the river against the stream and meet us two leagues beyond the English lines. But this they might not do, for a strong wind was blowing down stream, and all their vessels were in disarray.

The Maid spurred to the front, where were De Rais, Lore, Kennedy, and La Hire. We could see her pointing with her staff, and hear speech high and angry, but the words we could not hear. The captains looked downcast, as children caught in a fault, and well they might, for we were now as far off victualling Orleans as ever we had been. The Maid pointed to the English keep at St. Jean le Blanc, on our side of the water, and, as it seems, was fain to attack it; but the English had drawn off their men to the stronger places on the bridge, and to hold St. Jean le Blanc against them, if we took it, we had no strength. So we even wended, from the height of Olivet, for six long miles, till we reached the stream opposite Checy, where was an island. A rowing-boat, with a knight in glittering arms, was pulled across the stream, and the Maid, in her eagerness, spurred her steed deep into the water to meet him. He was a young man, brown of visage, hardy and fierce, and on his shield bore the lilies of Orleans, crossed with a baton sinister. He bowed low to the Maid, who cried -

"Are you the Bastard of Orleans?"

"I am," he said, "and right glad of your coming."

"Was it you who gave counsel that I should come by this bank, and not by the other side, and so straight against Talbot and the English?"

She spoke as a master to a faulty groom, fierce and high, and to hear her was marvel.

"I, and wiser men than I, gave that counsel," said he, "deeming this course the surer."

"Nom Dieu!" she cried. "The council of Messire is safer and wiser than yours." She pointed to the rude stream, running rough and strong, a great gale following with it, so that no sailing-boats might come from the town. "You thought to beguile me, and are yourselves beguiled, for I bring you better succour than ever came to knight or town--the help of the King of Heaven."

Then, even as she spoke, and as by miracle, that fierce wind went right about, and blew straight up the stream, and the sails of the vessels filled.

"This is the work of our Lord," said the Bastard of Orleans, crossing himself: and the anger passed from the eyes of the Maid.

Then he and Nicole de Giresme prayed her to pass the stream with them, and to let her host march back to Blois and so come to Orleans, crossing by the bridge of Blois. To this she said nay, that she could not leave her men out of her sight, lest they fell to sin again, and all her pains were lost. But, with many prayers, her confessor Pasquerel joining in them, she was brought to consent. So the host, with priests and banners, must set forth again to Blois, while the Maid, and we that were of her company, crossed the river in boats, and so rode towards the town. On this way (the same is a road of the old Romans) the English held a strong fort, called St. Loup, and well might they have sallied forth against us. But the people of Orleans, who ever bore themselves more hardily than any townsfolk whom I have known, made an onfall against St. Loup, that the English within might not sally out against us, where was fierce fighting, and they took a standard from the English.

So, at nightfall, the Maid, with the Bastard and other captains at her side, rode into the town, all the people welcoming her with torches in hand, shouting Noel! as to a king, throwing flowers before her horse's feet, and pressing to touch her, or even the harness of her horse, which leaped and plunged, for the fire of a torch caught the fringe of her banner. Lightly she spurred and turned him, and lightly she caught at the flame with her hand and quenched it, while all men marvelled at her grace and goodly bearing.

Never saw I more joy of heart, for whereas all had feared to fall into the hands of the English, now there was such courage in them, as if Monseigneur St. Michael himself, or Monseigneur St Aignan, had come down from heaven to help his good town. If they were hardy before, as indeed they were, now plainly they were full of such might and fury that man might not stand against them. And soon it was plain that no less fear had fallen on the English. But the Maid, with us who followed her, was led right through the great street of Orleans, from the Burgundy gate to the gate Regnart, whereby the fighting was ever most fell, and there we lodged in the house of the Treasurer of the Duke of Orleans, Jacquet Boucher. Never was sleep sweeter to me, after the two weary marches, and the sounds of music and revelry in the street did not hum a moment in my ears, before I had passed into that blessed world of slumber without a dream.

But my waking next day brought instantly the thought of my brother Robin, concerning whom I had ever feared that he fell with the flower of Scotland, when the Comte de Clermont deserted us so shamefully on the day of the Battle of the Herrings. No sooner did this doubt come into my mind, than I leaped from my bed, attired myself, and went forth to the quarters of the Scots under Sir Christian Chambers. Little need I had to tell my errand, for they that met me guessed who I was, because, indeed, Robin and I favoured each other greatly in face and bodily presence.

It was even as I had deemed: my dear brother and friend and tutor of old days had died, charging back upon the English who pursued us, and fighting by the side of Pothon de Xaintrailles. All that day, and in the week which followed, my thought was ever upon him; a look in a stranger's face, a word on another's lips, by some magic of the mind would bring my brother almost visibly before me, ay, among the noise of swords on mail, and the screaming of arrows, and of great cannon-balls.

If I heard ill news, it was no more than I looked for; but better news, as it seemed, I also heard, though, in my sorrow, I marked it little. For the soldiers were lamenting the loss of their famed gunner, not John the Lorrainer, but one who had come to them, they said, now some weeks agone, in the guise of a cordelier, though he did not fight in that garb, but in common attire, and ever wore his vizor down, which men deemed strange. Whither he had gone, or how disappeared, they knew not, for he had not been with those who yesterday attacked St. Loup.

"He could never thole the thought of the Blessed Maid," said Allan Rutherford, "but would tell all that listened how she was a brain- sick wench, or a witch, and under her standard he would never fight. He even avowed to us that she had been a chamber-wench of an inn in Neufchateau, and there had learned to back a horse, and many a worse trick," which was a lie devised by the English and them of Burgundy. But, go where he would, or how he would, I deemed it well that Brother Thomas and I (for of a surety it was Brother Thomas) were not to meet in Orleans.

Concerning the English in this wonderful adventure of the siege, I have never comprehended, nor do I now know, wherefore they bore them as they did. That they sallied not out on the trains which the Maid led and brought into the town, a man might set down to mere cowardice and faint heart--they fearing to fight against a witch, as they deemed her. In later battles, when she had won so many a victory, they may well have feared her. But, as now, they showed no dread where honour was to be won, but rather pride and disdain. On this very Saturday, the morrow of our arrival, La Hire, with Florent d'Illiers and many other knights, pushed forth a matter of two bowshots from the city walls, and took a keep that they thought to have burned. They were very hardy men, and being comforted by the Maid's coming, were full of courage and goodwill; yet the English rallied and drove them back, with much firing of guns, and now first I heard the din of war and saw the great stone balls fly, scattering, as they fell, into splinters that screamed in the air, with a very terrible sound. Truly the English had the better of that fray, and were no whit adread, for at sunset the Maid sent them two heralds, bidding them begone; yet they answered only that they would burn her for a witch, and called her a ribaulde, or loose wench, and bade her go back and keep her kine.

I was with her when this message came, and her brows met and her eyes flashed with anger. Telling us of her company to follow, she went to the Fair Cross on the bridge, where now her image stands, fashioned in bronze, kneeling before the Cross, with the King kneeling opposite. There she stood and cried aloud to the English, who were in the fort on the other side of the bridge that is called Les Tourelles, and her voice rang across the water like a trumpet, so that it was marvel. Then came out on to the bridge a great knight and a tall, Sir William Glasdale; no bigger man have I seen, and I bethought me of Goliath in Holy Scripture. He spoke in a loud, north-country voice, and, whereas she addressed him courteously, as she did all men, he called her by the worst of names, mocking at her for a ribaulde. She made answer that he lied, and that he should die in four days' time or five, without stroke of sword; and so, waving her hand haughtily, turned and went back. But I, who walked close by her, noted that she wept like any girl at his evil and lying accusations.

Next day was Sunday, and no stroke was struck, but the Bastard of Orleans set forth to bring back the army from Blois. And on Monday the Maid rode out and under the very walls of the English keeps, the townsfolk running by her rein, as if secure in her company; yet no man came forth against them, which was marvel. And on the Wednesday, the Maid, with many knights, rode forth two leagues, and met the Bastard of Orleans and all the array from Blois, and all the flocks and herds that were sent to Orleans by the good towns. Right beneath the forts of the English they rode and marched, with chanting of hymns, priests leading the way, but none dared meddle with them. Yet a child might have seen that now or never was the chance: howbeit Talbot and Glasdale and Scales, men well learned in war, let fire not even a single cannon. It may be that they feared an attack of the Orleans folk on their bastilles, if they drew out their men. For, to tell the plain truth, the English had not men- at-arms enough for the task they took in hand; but they oft achieve much with but little force, and so presume the more, sometimes to their undoing. And, till the Maid came, ten of them could chase a hundred of the French.

So the Maid returned, leading the army, and then, being very weary, she went into her chamber, and lay down on a couch to sleep, her esquire, D'Aulon, also resting in the room, where were the lady and a daughter of the house, one Charlotte Boucher. There was I, devising idly with her page, Louis de Coutes, a boy half Scots by birth, and good-brother to Messire Florent d'Illiers, who had married his sister. But alas! he was more French than Scots, and later he left the Maid. But then we were playing ourselves at the door of the house, and all was still, the men-at-arms reposing, as we deemed, after their march. Then suddenly the Maid ran forth to us, her face white and her eyes shining, and cried to Louis de Coutes, in great anger -

"Wretched boy, the blood of France is being shed, and you told me no word of it!"

"Demoiselle," said he, trembling, "I wotted not of it. What mean you?"

And I also stood in amaze, for we had heard no sound of arms.

"Go, fetch my horse," she said, and was gone.

I went with him, and we saddled and bridled a fresh courser speedily; but when we reached the door, she stood there already armed, and sprang on the horse, crying for her banner, that De Coutes gave her out of the upper window. Then her spurs were in her horse's side, and the sparks flying from beneath his hoofs, as she galloped towards St. Loup, the English fort on the Burgundy road. Thither we followed her, with what speed we might, yet over tardily; and when we came through crowds of people, many bearing the wounded on litters, there was she, under the wall of that fort, in a rain of arrows, holding up her banner, and crying on the French and Scots to the charge. They answered with a cry, and went on, De Coutes and I pressing forward to be with them; but ere ever we could gain the fosse, the English had been overwhelmed, and, for the more part, slain. For, as we found, the French captains had commanded an attack on St. Loup, and had told the Maid no word of it, whether as desiring to win honour without her, or to spare her from the peril of the onslaught, I know not. But their men were giving ground, when by the monition of the saints, as I have shown, she came to them and turned the fray.

Of the English, as I said, most were slain, natheless certain men in priests' raiment came forth from the Church of St. Loup, and very humbly begged their lives of the Maid, who, turning to D'Aulon, her esquire, bade him, with De Coutes and me, and such men as we could gather, to have charge of them and be answerable for them.

So, while the French were plundering, we mustered these priests orderly together, they trembling and telling their beads, and we stood before them for their guard. False priests, I doubt, many of them were, Englishmen who had hastily done on such holy robes as they found in the church of St Loup. Now Louis de Coutes, being but a boy, and of a mad humour, cried -

"'Cucullus non facit monachum!' Good sirs, let us see your reverend tonsures."

With that he twitched the hood from the head of a tall cordelier, who, without more ado, felled him to the earth with his fist.

The hood was off but for a flash of time, yet I saw well the shining wolf's eyes and the long dark face of Brother Thomas. So, in the pictures of the romance of Renard Fox, have I seen Isengrim the wolf in the friar's hood.

"Felon and traitor!" I cried, and drawing my sword, was about to run him through the body, when my hand was stunned by a stroke, and the sword dropped from it. I turned, in great anger, and saw the Maid, her sword in her hand, wherewith she had smitten me flatlings, and not with the edge.

"Knave of a Scot," she cried, "wouldst thou strike a holy man and my prisoner? Verily they say well that the Scots are all savages. Begone home, till I speak with the captains about thy case! And for these holy men," she said to D'Aulon, in a soft voice, "see that they are safely housed and ministered to in the Church of Monseigneur St. Aignan."

With that I shrank back like a beaten hound, and saw the Maid no more that night, as fearing her wrath. So was I adread and out of all comfort. But, when first I might, I sought D'Aulon and told him all the tale of Brother Thomas, and all the evil I knew of him, as well as I could, and I showed him wherefore I had sought to slay the man, as forsworn and a traitor, who had manifestly fled to the English, being by his doggish nature the enemy of the Maid. I so wrought with him, though he was weary, and would scarce listen to my tale, that he promised to speak for me to the Maid, without whom I was a man lost. Moreover, he swore that, as early as might be, he would visit the Church of St. Aignan, and there examine into the matter of this cordelier, whom some knew, and could testify against, if he was my man.

No more could I do that night, but next morning D'Aulon awoke me a little after dawn.

"It is a true tale," he said, "and worse than I deemed, for your bird has flown! Last night he so spoke with me in the church when I lodged him there, that I reckoned him a simple man and a pious. But he has vanished from among his brethren, none knows how or whither."

"The devil, his master, knows," I said. "Faith, he has a shrewd care of his own. But this, I misdoubt me, is the beginning of evil to us and to the Maid."

"A knave more or less is of little count in the world," said he; "but now I must make your peace with the Maid, for she speaks of no less than sending you forth from her household."

His promise he kept so well--for he was a very honourable man, as any in France--that the Maid sent for me and showed me the best countenance, even begging my pardon with all sweetness, and in so fair a manner that I could have wept.

"It was my first blow in war," she said, smiling kindly, as was her manner, "and I hope to strike no more as with my own hand, wherefore I carry my banner to avoid the slaying of men. But verily I deemed that you were about stabbing my prisoner, and him a priest. Belike we shall hear no more of him, and I misdoubt that he is no true son of Holy Church. To-day let me see you bear yourself as boldly against armed men, that I may report well of you to your lady and my friend."

Therewith she held out her hands and took mine, as frankly as does one brother in arms with another. And I kissed her hand, and kept my tears in my own heart. But no deadlier blow for France and for herself was ever dealt than when the Maid struck down my sword, that was thirsting for the blood of Brother Thomas, and was within an inch of his throat. Often have I marvelled how the saints, who, as then, guarded her, gave her no warning, as they did of the onslaught on St. Loup; but it might not be, or it was not their will, to which we must humbly submit ourselves. And now I think I see that wolf's face, under the hood, with anger and fear in the ominous eyes. In the Church of St. Loup we found him, and he was a wolf of the holy places. None the less, the words of the Maid brought more keenly to my mind the thought of Elliot, whom in these crowded hours, between my sorrow and anger, and fear of the Maid's wrath, I had to some degree forgotten. They were now ordering an onslaught on a post of the English beyond the river, and there came into my heart that verse of the "Book of a Hundred Ballades": how a lover must press into breach, and mine, and escalade to win advancement and his lady's favour; and I swore within myself that to-day I would be among the foremost.

CHAPTER XIII
OF THE FIGHTING AT LES AUGUSTINS
AND THE PROPHECY OF THE MAID

Just above the broken bridge of Orleans there is a broad island, lying very near the opposite shore, with a narrow, swift passage of water between bank and island. Some two furlongs higher up the river, and on the further bank, the English had built a small fort, named St. Jean le Blanc, to guard the road, and thither they sent men from Les Augustins. The plan of our captains was to cross by boats on to the island, and thence by a bridge of planks laid on boats to win over the narrow channel, and so make an onslaught on St. Jean le Blanc. For this onslaught the Maid had now been armed by her women, and with all her company, and many knights, was making ready to cross. But before she, or we with her, could attain the shore, horses being ill beasts in a boat ferry, the light-armed townsfolk had crossed over against St. Jean le Blanc to spy on it, and had found the keep empty, for the English had drawn back their men to the Bastille of Les Augustins.

Thus there was no more to do, for the captains deemed not that we were of any avail to attack Les Augustins. They were retreating then to the bridge of boats, and Messires de Gaucourt, De Villars, and other good knights were guarding the retreat, all orderly, lest the English might sally out from Les Augustins, and, taking us in the rear, might slay many in the confusion of crossing the boat- bridge, when the Maid and La Hire, by great dint of toil, passed their horses in a ferry-boat on to the further bank. At this moment the English sallied forth, with loud cries, from Les Augustins, and were falling on our men, who, fearing to be cut off, began to flee disorderly, while the English called out ill words, as "cowards" and "ribaulds," and were blaspheming God that He should damn all Frenchmen.

Hereon the Maid, with her banner, and La Hire, with lance in rest, they two alone, spurred into the press, and now her banner was tossing like the flag of a ship in the breakers, and methought there was great jeopardy lest they should be taken. But the other French and Scots, perceiving the banner in such a peril, turned again from their flight, and men who once turn back to blows again are ill to deal with. Striking, then, and crying, Montjoie! St. Denis! and St. Andrew for Scotland! they made the English give ground, till they were within the palisade of Les Augustins, where they deemed them safe enough. Now I had struggled through the throng on the island, some flying, some advancing, as each man's heart bade him, till I leaped into the water up to my waist and won the land. There I was running to the front of the fight when D'Aulon would have stopped me, for he had a command to hold a certain narrow way, lest the English should drive us to the water again.

All this was rightly done, but I, hearing the cry of St. Andrew, was as one possessed, and paying no heed to D'Aulon, was for thrusting me forward, when a certain Spaniard, Alphonse de Partada, caught me by the arm, and told me, with an oath, that I might well bide where better men than I were content to be. At this I made answer that my place was with the Maid, and, as for better men, bigger he might well be, but I, for one, was not content to look on idly where blows were being dealt. He answered in such terms that I bade him follow me, and see which of us would fare furthest into the press.

"And for that you may be swifter of foot than I, as you have longer legs," I cried, "clasp hands on this bargain, and let us reach the palisades with the same step."

To this he agreed, and D'Aulon not refusing permission (for he loved to look on a vaillance), we, clasping hands, ran together swiftly, and struck our swords in the same moment against the wooden fence. A little opening there was, not yet closed, or he that kept it deemed he might win more honour by holding it with his body. He was a great knight and tall, well armed, the red cross of St. George on his breast, and he fought with a mighty sword. Together, then, we made at him, two to one, as needs must be, for this was no gentle passage of arms, but open battle. One sweep of his sword I made shift to avoid, but the next lighting on my salade, drove me staggering back for more yards than two or three, and I reeled and fell on my hands. When I rose, Alphonse de Partada was falling beneath a sword-stroke, and I was for running forward again; but lo! the great English knight leaped in the air, and so, turning, fell on his face, his hands grasping at the ground and his feet kicking.

Later I heard from D'Aulon that he had bidden John the Lorrainer mark the man with his couleuvrine, for that he did overmuch mischief. But, thinking of nought save to be foremost in the breach, I ran in, stumbling over the dead man's body, and shouldered at the same time by Alphonse, who warded off a stab of a pike that was dealt at me. Then it was a fair mellay, our men pressing after us through the gap, and driving us forward by mere weight of onset, they coming with all speed against our enemies that ran together from all parts of the keep, and so left bare the further wall. It was body to body, weight against weight, short strokes at close quarters, and, over our heads, bills striking and foining at the English. Each man smote where he could; we wavered and swayed, now off our feet in the press, now making some yard of ground, and evil was the smell and thick the dust that arose. Meanwhile came the sound of the riving of planks from the other side of the palisade; above the steel points and the dust I saw the Maid's pennon advancing with the face of my lady painted thereon, and I pressed towards it, crying "St. Andrew" with such breath as was in me. Then rang out the Maid's voice, like a clarion, "St. Denis!" and so, stroke echoing stroke, and daggers going at close quarters, beaten on and blinded, deaf and breathless, now up, now down, we staggered forward, till I and the Maid stood side by side, and the English broke, some falling, some flying to the out-gate.

And, when all was done, there was I, knowing little enough of what had come and gone, dazed, with my sword bloody and bent, my head humming, and my foot on the breast of an English knight, one Robert Heron. Him I took to prisoner, rescue or no rescue, and so sat we down, very weary, in the midst of blood and broken arms, for many had been slain and a few taken, though the more part had fled into the boulevard of Les Tourelles. And here, with a joyous face, and the vizor of her helm raised, stood the Maid, her sword sheathed, waving her banner in the sight of the English that were on the bridge fort.

Natheless, her joy was but for a moment, and soon was she seated lowly on the ground, holding in her arms the head of an English knight, sore wounded, for whom her confessor, Father Pasquerel, was doing the offices of religion. Tears were running down her cheeks, even as if he had been one of her own people; and so, comforting and helping the wounded as she might, she abode till the darkness came, and the captains had made shift to repair the fortress and had set guards all orderly. And all the river was dark with boats coming and going, their lanterns glittering on the stream, and they were laden with food and munitions of war. In one of these boats did the Maid cross the river, taking with her us of her company, and speaking to me, above others, in the most gracious manner, for that I had been the first, with that Spanish gentleman, to pass within the English palisade. And now my heart was light, though my flesh was very weary, for that I had done my devoir, and taken the firstfruits of Elliot's wedding portion. No heavy ransom I put on that knight, Sir Robert Heron, and it was honourably paid in no long time, though he ill liked yielding him to one that had not gained his spurs. But it was fortune of war. So, half in a dream, we reached our house, and there was the greatest concourse of townsfolk clamouring in the praise of the Maid, who showed herself to them from the window, and promised that to-morrow they should take Les Tourelles. That night was Friday, yet, so worn were we all that the Maid bade us sup, and herself took some meat and a little wine in her water, though commonly she fasted on Friday. And now we were about to boun us for bed, and the Maid had risen, and was standing with her arms passed about the neck of the daughter of the house, a fair lass and merry, called Charlotte Boucher, who always lay with her (for she had great joy to be with girls of her own age), when there came the sound of a dagger-hilt beating at the door. We opened, and there stood a tall knight, who louted low to the Maid, cap in hand, and she bade him drink to the taking of Les Tourelles that should be to-morrow.

But he, with the flagon full in his hands, and withal a thirsty look upon his face, shook his head.

"To another pledge, Maiden, I will gladly drink, namely, to the bravest damsel under the sky."

And therewith he drank deep.

"But now I am sent from Gaucourt, and the Bastard, for all the captains are in counsel again. And they bid me tell you that enough hath been done, and they are right well content. But we are few against so great a host, in a place so strong that men may not avail to master it by main force. The city is now well seen in all manner of victual; moreover, we can now come and go by Sologne and the left bank. The skill is therefore to hold the city till the English wax weary and depart, or till we have succour anew from the King. Therefore to-morrow the men-at-arms shall take rest, having great need thereof; and therefore, gentle Maid, pardon me that I drank not to the pledge which a lady called."

Then he drained the flagon.

The Maid, holding the girl Charlotte yet closer to her, smote her right hand on the table, so that it dirled, and the cups and dishes leaped.

"You have been with your counsel," she cried, "and I have been with mine! The counsel of Messire will stand fast and prevail, and yours shall perish, for it is of men. Go back, and bear my words to the captains," quoth she; and then, turning to us, who looked on her in amazement, she said -

"Do ye all rise right early, and more than ye have done to-day shall ye do. Keep ever close by me in the mellay, for to-morrow I shall have much to do, and more than ever yet I did. And to-morrow shall my blood leap from my body, above my breast, for an arrow shall smite here!" and she struck the place with her hand.

Thereon the knight, seeing that she was not to be moved, made his obeisance, and went back to them that sent him, and all we lay down to sleep while we might.

These words of the Maid I, Norman Leslie, heard, and bear record that they are true.

CHAPTER XIV
OF THE FIGHTING AT THE BRIDGE, AND OF THE
PRIZE WON BY NORMAN LESLIE FROM THE RIVER

On that night I slept soft, and woke oft, being utterly foredone. In the grey dawn I awoke, and gave a little cough, when, lo! there came a hot sweet gush into my mouth, and going to the window, I saw that I was spitting of blood, belike from my old wound. It is a strange thing that, therewith, a sickness came over me, and a cold fit as of fear, though fear I had felt none where men met in heat of arms. None the less, seeing that to-day, or never, I was to be made or marred, I spoke of the matter neither to man nor woman, but drinking a long draught of very cold water, I spat some deal more, and then it stanched, and I armed me and sat down on my bed.

My thoughts, as I waited for the first stir in the house, were not glad. Birds were singing in the garden trees; all else was quiet, as if men were not waking to slay each other and pass unconfessed to their account. There came on me a great sickness of war. Yesterday the boulevard of Les Augustins, when the fight was over, had been a shambles; white bodies that had been stripped of their armour lay here and there like sheep on a hillside, and were now smirched with dust, a thing unseemly. I put it to myself that I was engaged, if ever man was, in a righteous quarrel, fighting against cruel oppression; and I was under the protection of one sent, as I verily believed, by Heaven.

But blood runs tardy in the cold dawn; my thoughts were chilled, and I deemed, to speak sooth, that I carried my death within me, from my old wound, and, even if unhurt, could scarce escape out of that day's labour and live. I said farewell to life and the sun, in my own mind, and to Elliot, thinking of whom, with what tenderness she had nursed me, and of her mirth and pitiful heart, I could scarce forbear from weeping. Of my brother also I thought, and in death it seemed to me that we could scarcely be divided. Then my thought went back to old days of childhood at Pitcullo, old wanderings by Eden banks, old kindness and old quarrels, and I seemed to see a vision of a great tree, growing alone out of a little mound, by my father's door, where Robin and I would play "Willie Wastle in his castle," for that was our first manner of holding a siege. A man- at-arms has little to make with such fancies, and well I wot that Randal Rutherford troubled himself therewith in no manner. But now there came an iron footstep on the stairs, and the Maid's voice rang clear, and presently there arose the sound of hammers on rivets, and all the din of men saddling horses and sharpening swords, so I went forth to join my company.

Stiff and sore was I, and felt as if I could scarce raise my sword- arm; but the sight of the Maid, all gleaming in her harness, and clear of voice, and swift of deed, like St. Michael when he marshalled his angels against the enemies of heaven, drove my brooding thoughts clean out of mind. The sun shone yellow and slanting down the streets; out of the shadow of the minster came the bells, ringing for war. The armed townsfolk thronged the ways, and one man, old and ill-clad, brought to the Maid a great fish which he had caught overnight in the Loire. Our host prayed her to wait till it should be cooked, that she might breakfast well, for she had much to do. Yet she, who scarce seemed to live by earthly meat, but by the will of God, took only a sop of bread dipped in wine, and gaily leaping to her selle and gathering the reins, as a lady bound for a hunting where no fear was, she cried, "Keep the fish for supper, when I will bring back a goddon {25} prisoner to eat his part. And to-night, gentle sir, my host, I will return by the bridge!"--which, as we deemed, might in no manner be, for an arch of the bridge was broken. Thereon we all mounted, and rode down to the Burgundy gate, the women watching us, and casting flowers before the Maiden. But when we won the gate, behold, it was locked, and two ranks of men- at-arms, with lances levelled, wearing the colours of the Sieur de Gaucourt, were drawn up before it. That lord himself, in harness, but bare-headed, stood before his men, and cried, "Hereby is no passage. To-day the captains give command that no force stir from the town."

"To-day," quoth the Maid, "shall we take Les Tourelles, and to- morrow not a goddon, save prisoners and slain men, shall be within three leagues of Orleans. Gentle sir, bid open the gate, for to-day have I work to do."

Thereat Gaucourt shook his head, and from the multitude of townsfolk rose one great angry shout. They would burn the gate, they cried; they would fire the town, but they would follow the Maid and the guidance of the saints.

Thereon stones began to fly, and arbalests were bended, till the Maid turned, and, facing the throng, her banner lifted as in anger -

"Back, my good friends and people of Orleans," she said, "back and open the postern door in the great tower on the river wall. By one way or another shall I meet the English this day, nor shall might of man prevent me."

Then many ran back, and soon came the cry that the postern was opened, and thither streamed the throng. Therefore Gaucourt saw well that an onslaught would verily be made; moreover, as a man wise in war, he knew that the townsfolk, that day, would be hard to hold, and would go far. So he even yielded, not ungraciously, and sending a messenger to the Bastard and the captains, he rode forth from the Burgundy Gate by the side of the Maid. He was, indeed, little minded to miss his part of the honour; nor were the other captains more backward, for scarce had we taken boat and reached the farther bank, when we saw the banners of the Bastard and La Hire, Florent d'Illiers and Xaintrailles, Chambers and Kennedy, above the heads of the armed men who streamed forth by the gate of Burgundy. Less orderly was no fight ever begun, but the saints were of our party. It was the wise manner of the Maid to strike swift, blow upon blow, each stroke finding less resistance among the enemy, that had been used to a laggard war, for then it was the manner of captains to dally for weeks or months round a town, castle, or other keep, and the skill was to starve the enemy. But the manner of the Maid was ever to send cloud upon cloud of men to make escalade by ladders, their comrades aiding them from under cover with fire of couleuvrines and bows. Even so fought that famed Knight of Brittany, Sir Bertrand du Guesclin. But he was long dead, and whether the Maid (who honoured his memory greatly) fought as she did through his example, or by direct teaching of the saints, I know not.

If disorderly we began, the fault was soon amended; they who had beleaguered the boulevard all night were set in the rear, to rest out of shot; the fresh men were arrayed under their banners, in vineyards and under the walls of fields, so that if one company was driven back another was ready to come on, that the English might have no repose from battle.

Now, the manner of the boulevard was this: first, there was a strong palisade, and many men mustered within it; then came a wide, deep, dry fosse; then a strong wall of earth, bound in with withes and palisaded, and within it the gate of the boulevard. When that was won, and the boulevard taken, men defending it might flee across a drawbridge, over a stream, narrow and deep and swift, into Les Tourelles itself. Here they were safe from them on the side of Orleans, by reason of the broken arch of the bridge. So strong was this tower, that Monseigneur the Duc d'Alencon, visiting it later, said he could have staked his duchy on his skill to hold it for a week at least, with but few men, against all the forces in France. The captain of the English was that Glasdale who had reviled the Maid, and concerning whom she had prophesied that he should die without stroke of sword. There was no fiercer squire in England, and his men were like himself, being picked and chosen for that post; moreover their backs were at the wall, for the French and Scots once within the boulevard, it was in nowise easy for Talbot to bring the English a rescue, as was seen.

The battle began with shooting of couleuvrines at the palisade, to weaken it, and it was marvel to see how the Maid herself laid the guns, as cunningly as her own countryman, the famed Lorrainer. Now, when there was a breach in the palisade, Xaintrailles led on his company, splendid in armour, for he was a very brave young knight. We saw the pales fall with a crash, and the men go in, and heard the cry of battle; but slowly, one by one, they staggered back, some falling, some reeling wounded, and rolling their bodies out of arrow-shot. And there, in the breach, shone the back-plate of Xaintrailles, his axe falling and rising, and not one foot he budged, till the men of La Hire, with a cry, broke in to back him, and after a little space, swords fell and rose no more, but we saw the banners waving of Xaintrailles and La Hire. Soon the side of the palisade towards us was all down, as if one had swept it flat with his hand, but there stood the earthen wall of the boulevard, beyond the fosse. Then, all orderly, marched forth a band of men in the colours of Florent d'Illiers, bearing scaling-ladders, and so began the escalade, their friends backing them by shooting of arbalests from behind the remnant of the palisade. A ladder would be set against the wall, and we could see men with shields, or doors, or squares of wood on their heads to fend off stones, swarm up it, and axes flashing on the crest of the wall, and arrows flying, and smoke of guns: but the smoke cleared, and lo! the ladder was gone, and the three libbards grinned on the flag of England. So went the war, company after company staggering thinned from the fosse, and re-forming behind the cover of the vineyards; company after company marching forth, fresh and glorious, to fare as their friends had fared. And ever, with each company, went the Maid at their head, and D'Aulon, she crying that the place was theirs and now was the hour! But the day went by, till the sun turned in heaven towards evening, and no more was done. The English, in sooth, showed no fear nor faint heart; with axe, and sword, and mace, and with their very hands they smote and grappled with the climbers, and I saw a tall man, his sword being broken, strike down a French knight with his mailed fist, and drag another from a ladder and take him captive. Boldly they showed themselves on the crest, running all risk of our arrows, as our men did of theirs.

Now came the Scots, under Kennedy. A gallant sight it was to see them advance, shoulder to shoulder--Scots of the Marches and the Lennox, Fife, Argyll, and the Isles, all gentlemen born.

"Come on!" cried Randal Rutherford. "Come on, men of the Marches, Scots of the Forest, Elliots, Rutherfords, Armstrongs, and deem that, wheresoever a Southron slinks behind a stone, there is Carlisle wall!"

The Rough Clan roared "Bellenden!" the Buchanans cried "Clare Innis," a rag of a hairy Highlander from the Lennox blew a wild skirl on the war-pipes, and hearing the Border slogan shouted in a strange country, nom Dieu! my blood burned, as that of any Scotsman would. Contrary to the Maid's desire, for she had noted that I was wan and weary, and had commanded me to bide in cover, I cried "A Leslie! a Leslie!" and went forward with my own folk, sword in hand and buckler lifted.

Beside good Randal Rutherford I ran, and we both leaped together into the ditch. There was a forest of ladders set against the wall, and I had my foot on a rung, when the Maid ran up and cried, "Nom Dieu! what make you here? Let me lead my Scots"; and so, pennon and axe in her left hand, she lightly leaped on the ladder, and arrows ringing on her mail, and a great stone glancing harmless from her salade, she so climbed that my lady's face on the pennon above her looked down into the English keep.

But, even then, I saw a face at an archere, an ill face and fell, the wolf's eyes of Brother Thomas glancing along the stock of an arbalest.

"Gardez-vous, Pucelle, gardez-vous!" I cried in her ear, for I was next her on the ladder; but a bolt whistled and smote her full, and reeling, she fell into my arms.

I turned my back to guard her, and felt a bolt strike my back-piece; then we were in the fosse, and all the Scots that might be were between her and harm. Swiftly they bore her out of the fray, into a little green vineyard, where was a soft grassy ditch. But the English so cried their hurrah, that it was marvel, and our men gave back in fear; and had not the Bastard come up with a fresh company, verify we might well have been swept into the Loire.

Some while I remained with Rutherford, Kennedy, and many others, for what could we avail to help the Maid? and to run has an ill look, and gives great heart to an enemy. Moreover, that saying of the Maid came into my mind, that she should be smitten of a bolt, but not unto death. So I even abode by the fosse, and having found an arbalest, my desire was to win a chance of slaying Brother Thomas, wherefore I kept my eyes on that archere whence he had shot. But no arbalest was pointed thence, and the fight flagged. On both sides men were weary, and they took some meat as they might, no ladders being now set on the wall.

Then I deemed it no harm to slip back to the vineyard where the Maid lay, and there I met the good Father Pasquerel, that was her confessor. He told me that now she was quiet, either praying or asleep, for he had left her as still as a babe in its cradle, her page watching her. The bolt had sped by a rivet of her breast- piece, clean through her breast hard below the shoulder, and it stood a hand-breadth out beyond. Then she had wept and trembled, seeing her own blood; but presently, with such might and courage as was marvel, she had dragged out the bolt with her own hands. Then they had laid on the wound cotton steeped with olive oil, for she would not abide that they should steep the bolt with weapon salve and charm the hurt with a song, as the soldiers desired. Then she had confessed herself to Pasquerel, and so had lain down among the grass and the flowers. But it was Pasquerel's desire to let ferry her across secretly to Orleans. This was an ill hearing for me, yet it was put about in the army that the Maid had but taken a slight scratch, and again would lead us on, a thing which I well deemed to be impossible. So the day waxed late, and few onslaughts were made, and these with no great heart, the English standing on the walls and openly mocking us.

They asked how it went with the Maid, and whether she would not fain be at home among her kine, or in the greasy kitchen? We would cry back, and for my own part I bade them seek the kitchen as pock- puddings and belly-gods, and that I cried in their own tongue, while they, to my great amaze, called me "prentice boy" and "jackanapes." Herein I saw the craft and devilish enmity of Brother Thomas, and well I guessed that he had gotten sight of me; but his face I saw not.

Ill names break no bones, and arrows from under cover wrought slight scathe; so one last charge the Bastard commanded, and led himself, and a sore tussle there was that time on the wall-crest, one or two of our men leaping into the fort, whence they came back no more.

Now it was eight hours of the evening, the sky grey, the men out- worn and out of all heart, and the captains were gathered in council. Of this I conceived the worst hope, for after a counsel men seldom fight. So I watched the fort right sullenly, and the town of Orleans looking black against a red, lowering sky in the west. Some concourse of townsfolk I saw on the bridge, beside the broken arch, and by the Boulevard Belle Croix; but I deemed that they had only come to see the fray as near as might be. Others were busy under the river wall with a great black boat, belike to ferry over the horses from our side.

All seemed ended, and I misdoubted that we would scarce charge again so briskly in the morning, nay, we might well have to guard our own gates.

As I sat thus, pondering by the vineyard ditch, the Maid stood by me suddenly. Her helmet was off, her face deadly white, her eyes like two stars.

"Bring me my horse," she said, so sternly that I crushed the answer on my lips, and the prayer that she would risk herself no more.

Her horse, that had been cropping the grass near him happily enough, I found, and brought to her, and so, with some ado, she mounted and rode at a foot's pace to the little crowd of captains.

"Maiden, ma mie," said the Bastard. "Glad I am to see you able to mount. We have taken counsel to withdraw for this night. Martin," he said to his trumpeter, "sound the recall."

"I pray you, sir," she said very humbly, "grant me but a little while"; and so saying, she withdrew alone from the throng of men into the vineyard.

What passed therein I know not and no man knows; but in a quarter of an hour's space she came forth, like another woman, her face bright and smiling, her cheeks like the dawn, and so beautiful that we marvelled on her with reverence, as if we had seen an angel.

"The place is ours!" she cried again, and spurred towards the fosse. Thence her banner had never gone back, for D'Aulon held it there, to be a terror to the English. Even at that moment he had given it to a certain Basque, a very brave man, for he himself was out-worn with its weight. And he had challenged the Basque to do a vaillance, or boastful deed of arms, as yesterday I and the Spaniard had done. So D'Aulon leaped into the fosse, his shield up, defying the English; but the Basque did not follow, for the Maid, seeing her banner in the hands of a man whom she knew not, laid hold of it, crying, "Ha, mon estandart! mon estandart!"

There, as they struggled for it, the Basque being minded to follow D'Aulon to the wall foot, the banner wildly waved, and all men saw it, and rallied, and flocked amain to the rescue.

"Charge!" cried the Maid. "Forward, French and Scots; the place is yours, when once my banner fringe touches the wall!"

With that word the wind blew out the banner fringe, and so suddenly that, though I saw the matter, I scarce knew how it was done, the whole host swarmed up and on, ladders, lifted, and so furiously went they, that they won the wall crest and leaped within the fort. Then the more part of the English, adread, as I think, at the sight of the Maid whom they had deemed slain, fled madly over the drawbridge into Les Tourelles.

Then standing on the wall crest, whither I had climbed, I beheld strange sights. First, through the dimness of the dusk, I saw a man armed, walking as does a rope-dancer, balancing himself with his spear, across the empty air, for so it seemed, above the broken arch of the bridge. This appeared, in very sooth, to be a miracle; but, gazing longer, I saw that a great beam had been laid by them of Orleans to span the gap, and now other beams were being set, and many men, bearing torches, were following that good knight, Nicole Giresme, who first showed the way over such a bridge of dread. So now were the English in Les Tourelles between two fires.

Another strange sight I saw, for in that swift and narrow stream which the drawbridge spanned whereby the English fled was moored a great black barge, its stem and stern showing on either side of the bridge. Boats were being swiftly pulled forth from it into the stream, and as I gazed, there leaped up through the dark one long tongue of fire. Then I saw the skill of it, namely, to burn down the drawbridge, and so cut the English off from all succour. Fed with pitch and pine the flame soared lustily, and now it shone between the planks of the drawbridge. On the stone platform of the boulevard, wherein the drawbridge was laid, stood a few English, and above them shone the axe of a tall squire, Glasdale, as it fell on shield and helm of the French. Others held us at bay with long lances, and never saw I any knight do his devoir more fiercely than he who had reviled the Maid. For on his head lay all the blame of the taking of the boulevard. To rear of him rang the shouts of them of Orleans, who had crossed the broken arch by the beam; but he never turned about, and our men reeled back before him. Then there shone behind him the flames from the blazing barge; and so, black against that blaze, he smote and slew, not knowing that the drawbridge began to burn.

On this the Maid ran forth, and cried to him -

"Rends-toi, rends-toi! Yield thee, Glacidas; yield thee, for I stand in much sorrow for thy soul's sake."

Then, falling on her knees, her face shining transfigured in that fierce light, she prayed him thus -

"Ah! Glacidas, thou didst call me ribaulde, but I have sorrow for thy soul. Ah! yield thee, yield thee to ransom"; and the tears ran down her cheeks, as if a saint were praying for a soul in peril.

Not one word spoke Glasdale: he neither saw nor heard. But the levelled spears at his side flew up, a flame caught his crest, making a plume of fire, and with a curse he cast his axe among the throng, and the man who stood in front of it got his death. Glasdale turned about as he threw; he leaped upon the burning drawbridge, where the last of his men were huddled in flight, and lo! beneath his feet it crashed; down he plunged through smoke and flame, and the stream below surged up as bridge and flying men went under in one ruin.

The Maid gave a cry that rang above the roar of fire and water.

"Saints! will no man save him?" she shrieked, looking all around her on the faces of the French.

A mad thought leaped up in my mind.

"Unharness me!" I cried; and one who stood by me undid the clasps of my light jaseran. I saw a head unhelmeted, I saw a hand that clutched at a floating beam. I thought of the Maid's desire, and of the ransom of so great a squire as Glasdale, and then I threw my hands up to dive, and leaped head foremost into the water.

Deep down I plunged, and swam far under water, to avoid a stroke from floating timber, and then I rose and glanced up-stream. All the air was fiercely lit with the blaze of the burning barge; a hand and arm would rise, and fall ere I could seize it. A hand was thrown up before me, the glinting fingers gripping at empty air. I caught the hand, swimming strongly with the current, for so the man could not clutch at me, and if a drowning man can be held apart, it is no great skill to save him. In this art I was not unlearned, and once had even saved two men from a wrecked barque in the long surf of St. Andrews Bay. Save for a blow from some great floating timber, I deemed that I had little to fear; nay, now I felt sure of the Maid's praise and of a rich ransom.

A horn of bank with alder bushes ran out into the stream, a smooth eddy or backwater curling within. I caught a bough of alder, and, though nigh carried down by the drowning man's weight, I found bottom, yet hardly, and drew my man within the back-water. He lay like a log, his face in the stream. Pushing him before me, I rounded the horn, and, with much ado, dragged him up to a sloping gravelly beach, where I got his head on dry land, his legs being still in the water. I turned him over and looked eagerly. Lo! it was no Glasdale, but the drowned face of Brother Thomas!

Then something seemed to break in my breast; blood gushed from my mouth, and I fell on the sand and gravel. Footsteps I heard of men running to us. I lifted my hand faintly and waved it, and then I felt a hand on my face.

CHAPTER XV
HOW NORMAN LESLIE WAS ABSOLVED BY BROTHER THOMAS

Certain Scots that found me, weak and bleeding, by the riverside, were sent by the Maid, in hopes that I had saved Glasdale, whereas it was the accursed cordelier I had won from the water. What they did with him I knew not then, but me they laid on a litter, and so bore me to a boat, wherein they were ferrying our wounded men across to Orleans. The Maid herself, as she had foretold, returned by way of the bridge, that was all bright with moving torches, as our groaning company were rowed across the black water to a quay. Thence I was carried in a litter to our lodgings, and so got to bed, a physician doing what he might for me. A noisy night we passed, for I verily believe that no man slept, but all, after service held in the Church of St. Aignan, went revelling and drinking from house to house, and singing through the streets, as folk saved from utter destruction.

With daybreak fell a short silence; short or long, it seemed brief to me, who was now asleep at last, and I was rueful enough when a sound aroused me, and I found the Maid herself standing by my bedside, with one in the shadow behind her. The chamber was all darkling, lit only by a thread of light that came through the closed shutters of wood, and fell on her pale face. She was clad in a light jaseran of mail, because of her wound, and was plainly eager to be gone and about her business, that is, to meet the English in open field.

"Leslie, my friend," she said, in her sweet voice, "there were many brave men in the fight yesterday, but, in God's name, none did a braver deed than thou! Nay, speak not," she said, as I opened my lips to thank her, "for the leech that tended thee last night forbids it, on peril of thy very life. So I have brought thee here a sheet of fair paper, and a pen and horn of ink, that thou, being a clerk, mayst write what thou hast to say. Alas! such converse is not for me, who know not A from his brother B. But the saints who helped thee have rewarded thee beyond all expectation. Thou didst not save that unhappy Glacidas, whom God in His mercy forgive! but thou hast taken a goodlier prize--this holy man, that had been prisoner in the hands of the English."

Here she stood a little aside, and the thread of light shone on the fell face of Brother Thomas, lowering beneath his hood.

Then I would have spoken, leech or no leech, to denounce him, for the Maid had no memory of his face, and knew him not for the false friar taken at St. Loup. But she laid her mailed finger gently on my lips.

"Silence! Thou art my man-at-arms and must obey thy captain. This worthy friar hath been long in the holy company of the blessed Colette, and hath promised to bring me acquainted with that daughter of God. Ay, and he hath given to me, unworthy as I am, a kerchief which has touched her wonder-working hands. Almost I believe that it will heal thee by miracle, if the saints are pleased to grant it."

Herewith she drew a kerchief across my lips, and I began, being most eager to instruct her innocence as to this accursed man -

"Lady--" but alas! no miracle was wrought for a sinner like me. Howbeit I am inclined to believe that the kerchief was no saintly thing, and had never come near the body of the blessed Colette, but rather was a gift from one of the cordelier's light-o'-loves. Assuredly it was stained red with blood from my lungs ere I could utter two words.

The Maid stanched the blood, saying -

"Did I not bid thee to be silent? The saints forgive my lack of faith, whereby this blessed thing has failed to heal thee! And now I must be gone, to face the English in the field, if they dare to meet us, which, methinks, they will not do, but rather withdraw as speedily as they may. So now I leave thee with this holy man to be thy nurse-tender, and thou canst write to him concerning thy needs, for doubtless he is a clerk. Farewell!"

With that she was gone, and this was the last I saw of her for many a day.

Never have I known such a horror of fear as fell on me now, helpless and dumb, a sheep given over to the slaughter, in that dark chamber, which was wondrous lown, {26} alone with my deadly foe.

Never had any man more cause for dread, for I was weak, and to resist him was death. I was speechless, and could utter no voice that the people in the house might hear. As for mine enemy, he had always loathed and scorned me; he had a long account of vengeance to settle with me; and if--which was not to be thought of--he was minded to spare one that had saved his life, yet, for his own safety, he dared not. He had beguiled the Maid with his false tongue, and his face, not seen by her in the taking of St. Loup, she knew not. But he knew that I would disclose all the truth so soon as the Maid returned, wherefore he was bound to destroy me, which he would assuredly do with every mockery, cruelty, and torture of body and mind. Merely to think of him when he was absent was wont to make my flesh creep, so entirely evil beyond the nature of sinful mankind was this monster, and so set on working all kinds of mischief with greediness. Whether he had suffered some grievous wrong in his youth, which he spent his life in avenging on all folk, or whether, as I deem likely, he was the actual emissary of Satan, as the Maid was of the saints, I know not, and, as I lay there, had no wits left to consider of it. Only I knew that no more unavailing victim than I was ever so utterly in the power of a foe so deadly and terrible.

The Maid had gone, and all hope had gone with her. For a time that seemed unending mine enemy neither spoke nor moved, standing still in the chink of light, a devil where an angel had been.

There was silence, and I heard the Maid's iron tread pass down the creaking wooden stairs, and soon I heard the sound of singing birds, for my window looked out on the garden.

The steps ceased, and then there was a low grating laughter in the dark room, as if the devil laughed.

Brother Thomas moved stealthily to the door, and thrust in the wooden bolt. Then he sat him heavily down on my bed, and put his fiend's face close to mine, his eyes stabbing into my eyes. But I bit my lip, and stared right back into his yellow wolf's eyes, that shone like flames of the pit with evil and cruel thoughts.

So I lay, with that yellow light on me; and strength came strangely to me, and I prayed that, since die I must, I might at least gladden him with no sign of fear. When he found that he could not daunton me, he laughed again.

"Our chick of Pitcullo has picked up a spirit in the wars," he said; and turning his back on me, he leaned his face on his hand, and so sat thinking.

The birds of May sang in the garden; there was a faint shining of silver and green, from the apple-boughs and buds without, in the little chamber; and the hooded back of the cordelier was before me on my bed, like the shape of Death beside the Sick Man, in a picture. Now I did not even pray, I waited.

Doubtless he knew that no cruel thing which the devil could devise was more cruel than this suspense.

Then he turned about and faced me, grinning like a dog.

"These are good words," said he, "in that foolish old book they read to the faithful in the churches, 'Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord.' Ay, it is even too sweet a morsel for us poor Christian men, such as the lowly Brother Thomas of the Order of St. Francis. Nevertheless, I am minded to put my teeth in it"; and he bared his yellow dog's fangs at me, smiling like a hungry hound. "My sick brother," he went on, "both as one that has some science of leech- craft and as thy ghostly counsellor, it is my duty to warn thee that thou art now very near thine end. Nay, let me feel thy pulse"; and seizing my left wrist, he grasped it lightly in his iron fingers. "Now, ere I administer to thee thy due, as a Christian man, let me hear thy parting confession. But, alas! as the blessed Maid too truly warned thee, thou must not open thy poor lips in speech. There is death in a word! Write, then, write the story of thy sinful life, that I may give thee absolution."

So saying, he opened the shutter, and carefully set the paper and inkhorn before me, putting the pen in my fingers.

"Now, write what I shall tell thee"; and here he so pressed and wrung my wrist that his fingers entered into my living flesh with a fiery pang. I writhed, but I did not cry.

"Write--"

"I, Norman Leslie of Pitcullo--" and, to escape that agony, I wrote as he bade me.

"--being now in the article of death--"

And I wrote.

"--do attest on my hope of salvation--" And I wrote.

"--and do especially desire Madame Jeanne, La Pucelle, and all Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our Sovereign Lord the Dauphin, to accept my witness, that Brother Thomas, of the Order of St. Francis, called Noiroufle while of the world, has been most falsely and treacherously accused by me--"

I wrote, but I wrote not his false words, putting my own in their place--"has been most truly and righteously accused by me--"

"--of divers deeds of black treason, and dealing with our enemies of England, against our Lord the Dauphin, and the Maid, the Sister of the Saints, and of this I heartily repent me,--"

But I wrote, "All which I maintain--"

"--as may God pardon my sins, on the faith of a sinful and dying man."

"Now sign thy name, and that of thy worshipful cabbage-garden and dunghill in filthy Scotland." So I signed, "Norman Leslie, the younger, of Pitcullo," and added the place, Orleans, with the date of day and year of our Lord, namely, May the eighth, fourteen hundred and twenty-nine.

"A very laudable confession," quoth Brother Thomas; "would that all the sinners whom I have absolved, as I am about to absolve thee, had cleansed and purged their sinful souls as freely. And now, my brother, read aloud to me this scroll; nay, methinks it is ill for thy health to speak or read. A sad matter is this, for, in faith, I have forgotten my clergy myself, and thou mayst have beguiled me by inditing other matter than I have put into thy lying mouth. Still, where the safety of a soul is concerned, a few hours more or less of this vain, perishable life weigh but as dust in the balance."

Here he took from about his hairy neck a heavy Italian crucifix of black wood, whereon was a figure of our Lord, wrought in white enamel, with golden nails, and a golden crown of thorns.

"Now read," he whispered, heaving up the crucifix above me. And as he lifted it, a bright blade, strong, narrow, and sharp, leaped out from beneath the feet of our Lord, and glittered within an inch of my throat. An emblem of this false friar it was, the outside of whom was as that of a holy man, while within he was a murdering sword.

"Read!" he whispered again, pricking my throat with the dagger's point.

Then I read aloud, and as I read I was half choked with my blood, and now and then was stopped; but still he cried -

"Read, and if one word is wrong, thine absolution shall come all the swifter."

So I read, and, may I be forgiven if I sinned in deceiving one so vile! I uttered not what I had written, but what he had bidden me to write.

"I, Norman Leslie of Pitcullo, being now in the article of death, do attest on my hope of salvation, and do especially desire Madame Jeanne, La Pucelle, and all Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our Sovereign Lord the Dauphin, to accept my witness that Brother Thomas, of the Order of St. Francis, called Noiroufle while of the world, has been most falsely and treacherously accused by me of divers deeds of black treason, and dealing with our enemies of England, against our Lord the Dauphin, and the Maid, the Sister of the Saints, and of this I heartily repent me, as may God pardon my sins, on the faith of a sinful and dying man. Signed, at Orleans, Norman Leslie, the younger, of Pitcullo, this eighth of May, in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and twenty-nine."

When I had ended, he took away his blasphemous dagger-point from my throat.

"Very clerkly read," he spake, "and all runs smooth; methinks myself had been no poor scribe, were I but a clerk. Hadst thou written other matter, to betray my innocence, thou couldst not remember what I said, even word for word," he added gleefully. "Now I might strangle thee slowly"; and he set his fingers about my throat, I being too weak to do more than clutch at his hand, with a grasp like a babe's. "But that leaves black finger-marks, another kind of witness than thine in my favour. Or I might give thee the blade of this blessed crucifix; yet dagger wounds are like lips and have a voice, and blood cries from the ground, says Holy Writ. Pardon my tardiness, my poor brother, but this demands deep thought, and holy offices must not be hurried unseemly." He sat now with his back to me, his hand still on my throat, so deep in thought that he heard not, as did my sharpened ears, a door shut softly, and foot-falls echoing in the house below. If I could only cry aloud! but he would stifle me ere the cry reached my throat!

"This will serve," he said. "Thou wilt have died of thy malady, and I will go softly forth, and with hushed voice will tell how the brave young Scot passed quietly to the saints. Yet, after all, I know not. Thou hast been sent by Heaven to my aid; clearly thou art an instrument of God to succour the unworthy Brother Thomas. Once and twice thou hast been a boat to carry me on my way, and to save my useful life. A third time thou mightst well be serviceable, not by thy will, alas! but by God's, my poor brother"; and he mockingly caressed my face with his abhorred hand. "Still, this must even serve, though I would fain find for thee a more bitter way to death"; and he gently and carefully drew the pillow from beneath my head. "This leaves no marks and tells no tales, and permits no dying cry."

He was looking at me, the pillow in his hands, his gesture that of a tender nurse, when a light tap sounded on the door. He paused, then came a louder knock, one pushed, and knocked again.

"Open, in the name of the Dauphin!" came a voice I knew well, the voice of D'Aulon.

"The rope of Judas strangle thee!" said Brother Thomas, dropping the pillow and turning to the casement. But it was heavily barred with stanchions of iron, as the manner is, and thereby he might not flee.

Then came fiercer knocking with a dagger hilt, and the cry, "Open, in the name of the Dauphin, or we burst the door!"

Brother Thomas hastily closed the wooden shutter, to darken the chamber as much as might be. "Gently, gently," he said. "Disturb not my penitent, who is newly shrived, and about to pass"; and so speaking, he withdrew the bolt.

D'Aulon strode in, dagger in hand, followed by the physician.

"What make you here with doors barred, false priest?" he said, laying his hand on the frock of Noiroufle.

"And what make you here, fair squire, with arms in a sick man's chamber, and loud words to disturb the dying? And wherefore callest thou me "false priest"? But an hour agone, the blessed Maid herself brought me hither, to comfort and absolve her follower, to tend him, if he lived and, if he must die, to give him his dues as a Christian man. And the door was bolted that the penitent might be private with his confessor, for he has a heavy weight to unburden his sinful soul withal."

"Ay, the Maid sent thee, not knowing who thou wert, the traitor friar taken at St. Loup, and thou hast a tongue that beguiled her simplicity. But one that knew thee saw thy wolfs face in her company, and told me, and I told the Maid, who sent me straightway back from the gate, that justice might be done on thee. Thou art he whom this Scot charged with treason, and would have slain for a spy, some nights agone."

Brother Thomas cast up his eyes to heaven.

"Forgive us our trespasses," said he, "as we forgive them that trespass against us. Verily and indeed I am that poor friar who tends the wounded, and verify I am he against whom this young Scot, as, I fear, is the manner of all his benighted people, brought a slanderous accusation falsely. All the more reason was there that I should hear his last confession, and forgive him freely, as may I also be forgiven."

"Thou liest in thy throat," said D'Aulon. "This is a brave man-at- arms, and a loyal."

"Would that thou wert not beguiled, fair sir, for I have no pleasure in the sin of any man. But, if thou wilt believe him rather than me, even keep thy belief, and read this written confession of his falsehood. Of free will, with his own hand, my penitent hereby absolves me from all his slanders. As Holy Church enjoins, in the grace of repentance he also makes restitution of what he had stolen, namely, all my wealth in this world, the good name of a poor and lowly follower of the blessed Francis. Here is the scroll."

With these words, uttered in a voice of sorrowing and humble honesty, the friar stretched out the written sheet of paper to D'Aulon.

"Had I been a false traitor," he said, "would not her brethren of heaven have warned the blessed Maid against me? And I have also a written safe-conduct from the holy sister Colette."

Then I knew that he had fallen into my trap, and, weak as I was, I could have laughed to think of his face, when the words I had written came out in place of the words he had bidden me write. For a clerk hath great power beyond the simple and unlettered of the world, be they as cunning even as Brother Thomas.

"Nom Dieu! this is another story," said D'Aulon, turning the paper about in his hands and looking doubtfully at me. But I smiled upon him, whereby he was the more perplexed. "The ink is hardly dry, and in some places has run and puddled, so that, poor clerk as I am, I can make little of it"; and he pored on it in a perplexed sort. "Tush, it is beyond my clerkhood," he said at last. "You, Messire Saint-Mesmin,"--turning to the physician--"must interpret this."

"Willingly, fair sir," said the physician, moving round to the shutter, which he opened, while the cordelier's eyes glittered, for now there was one man less between him and the half-open door. I nodded to D'Aulon that he should shut it, but he marked me not, being wholly in amaze at the written scroll of my confession.

The physician himself was no great clerk, and he read the paper slowly, stumbling over the words, as it were, while Brother Thomas, clasping his crucifix to his breast, listened in triumph as he heard what he himself had bidden me write.

"I, Norman Leslie, of--of Peet--What name is this? Peet--I cannot utter it."

"Passez outre," quoth D'Aulon.

"I, Norman Leslie, being now in the article of death"--here the leech glanced at me, shaking his head mournfully--"do attest on my hope of salvation, and do especially desire Madame Jeanne La Pucelle, and all Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our Sovereign Lord the Dauphin, to accept my witness that Brother Thomas, of the Order of St. Francis, called Noiroufle while of the world, has been most truly and righteously accused by me of divers deeds of black treason."

At these words the cordelier's hand leaped up from his breast, his crucifix dagger glittered bright, he tore his frock from D'Aulon's grip, leaving a rag of it in his hand, and smote, aiming at the squire where the gorget joins the vambrace. Though he missed by an inch, yet so terrible was the blow that D'Aulon reeled against the wall, while the broken blade jingled on the stone floor. Then the frock of the friar whisked through the open door of the chamber; we heard the stairs cleared in two leaps, and D'Aulon, recovering his feet, rushed after the false priest. But he was in heavy armour, the cordelier's bare legs were doubtless the nimbler, and the physician, crossing himself, could only gape and stare on the paper in his hand. As he gazed with his mouth open his eyes fell on me, white as my sheets, that were dabbled with the blood from my mouth.

"Nom Dieu!" he stammered, "Nom Dieu! here is business more to my mind and my trade than chasing after mad cordeliers that stab with crucifixes!"

Then, coming to my side, he brought water, bathed my face, and did what his art might do for a man in such deadly extremity as was mine. In which care he was still busy when D'Aulon returned, panting, having sent a dozen of townsfolk to hunt the friar, who had made good his flight over garden walls, and was now skulking none knew where. D'Aulon would fain have asked me concerning the mystery of the confession in which Brother Thomas had placed his hope so unhappily, but the physician forbade him to inquire, or me to answer, saying that it was more than my life was worth. But on D'Aulon's battered armour there was no deeper dint than that dealt by the murderous crucifix.

Thus this second time did Brother Thomas make his way out of our hands, the devil aiding him, as always; for it seemed that ropes could not bind or water drown him.

But, for my part, I lay long in another bout of sore fever, sick here at Orleans, where I was very kindly entreated by the people of the house, and notably by the daughter thereof, a fair maid and gentle. To her care the Maid had commanded me when she left Orleans, the English refusing battle, as later I heard, and withdrawing to Jargeau and Paris. But of the rejoicings in Orleans I knew little or nothing, and had no great desire for news, or meat, or drink, but only for sleep and peace, as is the wont of sick men. Now as touches sickness and fever, I have written more than sufficient, as Heaven knows I have had cause enow. A luckless life was mine, save for the love of Elliot; danger and wounds, and malady and escape, where hope seemed lost, were and were yet to be my portion, since I sailed forth out of Eden-mouth. And so hard pressed of sickness was I, that not even my outwitting of Brother Thomas was a cause of comfort to me, though to this day I cannot think of it without some mirthful triumph.

CHAPTER XVI
HOW SORROW CAME ON NORMAN LESLIE, AND JOY THEREAFTER

It little concerns any man to know how I slowly recovered my health after certain failings back into the shadow of death. Therefore I need not tell how I was physicked, and bled, and how I drew on from a diet of milk to one of fish, and so to a meal of chicken's flesh, till at last I could sit, wrapped up in many cloaks, on a seat in the garden, below a great mulberry tree. In all this weary time I knew little, and for long cared less, as to what went on in the world and the wars. But so soon as I could speak it was of Elliot that I devised, with my kind nurse, Charlotte Boucher, the young daughter of Jacques Boucher, the Duke's treasurer, in whose house I lay. She was a fair lass, and merry of mood, and greatly hove up my heart to fight with my disease. It chanced that, as she tended me, when I was at my worst, she marked, hanging on a silken string about my neck, a little case of silver artfully wrought, wherein was that portrait of my mistress, painted by me before I left Chinon. Being curious, like all girls, and deeming that the case held some relic, she opened it, I knowing nothing then of what she did. But when I was well enough to lie abed and devise with her, it chanced that I was playing idly with my fingers about the silver case.

"Belike," said Charlotte, "that is some holy relic, to which, maybe, you owe your present recovery. Surely, when you are whole again, you have vowed a pilgrimage to the shrine of the saint, your friend?" Here she smiled at me gaily, for she was a right merry damsel, and a goodly.

"Nay," she said, "I have done more for you than your physician, seeing that I, or the saint you serve, have now brought the red colour into these wan cheeks of yours. Is she a Scottish saint, then? perchance St. Margaret, of whom I have read? Will you not let me look at the sacred thing?"

"Nay," said I. "Methinks, from your smiling, that you have taken opportunity to see my treasure before to-day, being a daughter of our mother Eve."

"She is very beautiful," said Charlotte; "nay, show her to me again!"

With that I pressed the spring and opened the case, for there is no lover but longs to hear his lady commended, and to converse about her. Yet I had spoken no word, for my part, about her beauty, having heard say that he who would be well with one woman does ill to praise another in her presence.

"Beautiful, indeed, she is," said Charlotte. "Never have I seen such eyes, and hair like gold, and a look so gracious! And for thy pilgrimage to the shrine of this fair saint, where does she dwell?"

I told her at Chinon, or at Tours, or commonly wheresoever the Court might be, for that her father was the King's painter.

"And you love her very dearly?"

"More than my life," I said. "And may the saints send you, demoiselle, as faithful a lover, to as fair a lady."

"Nay," she said, reddening. "This is high treason, and well you wot that you hold no lady half so fair as your own. Are you Scots so smooth-spoken? You have not that repute. Now, what would you give to see that lady?"

"All that I have, which is little but my service and goodwill. But she knows not where I am, nor know I how she fares, which irks me more than all my misfortunes. Would that I could send a letter to her father, and tell him how I do, and ask of their tidings."

"The Dauphin is at Tours," she said, "and there is much coming and going between Tours and this town. For the Maid is instant with the Dauphin to ride forthwith to Reims, and there be sacred and crowned; but now he listens and believes, and anon his counsellors tell him that this is foolhardy, and a thing impossible."

"O they of little faith!" I said, sighing.

"None the less, word has come that the Maid has been in her oratory at prayers, and a Voice from heaven has called to her, saying, "Fille de Dieu, va, va, va! Je serai en ton aide. Va!" {27} The Dauphin is much confirmed in his faith by this sign, and has vowed that he will indeed march with the Maid to Reims, though his enemies hold all that country which lies between. But first she must take the towns which the English hold on Loire side, such as Jargeau. Now on Jargeau, while you lay knowing nothing, the Bastard of Orleans, and Xaintrailles, and other good knights, made an onslaught, and won nothing but loss for their pains, though they slew Messire Henry Bisset, the captain of the town. But if the Maid takes Jargeau, the Dauphin will indeed believe in her and follow her."

"He is hard of heart to believe, and would that I were where he should be--under her holy pennon, for thereon, at least, I should see the face painted of my lady. But how does all this bring me nearer the hope of hearing about her, and how she fares?"

"There are many messengers coming and going to Tours, for the Dauphin is gathering force under the Maid, and has set the fair Duc d'Alencon to be her lieutenant, with the Bastard, and La Hire, and Messire Florent d'Illiers. And all are to be here in Orleans within few days; wherefore now write to the father of thy lady, and I will myself write to her." With that she gave me paper and pen, and I indited a letter to my master, telling him how I had lain near to death of my old wound, in Orleans, and that I prayed him of his goodness to let me know how he did, and to lay me at the feet of my lady. Then Charlotte showed me her letter, wherein she bade Elliot know that I had hardly recovered, after winning much fame (for so she said) and a ransom of gold from an English prisoner, which now lay in the hands of her father, the Duke's treasurer. Then she said that a word from Elliot, not to say the sight of her face, the fairest in the world (a thing beyond hope), would be of more avail for my healing than all the Pharaoh powders of the apothecaries. These, in truth, I had never taken, but put them away secretly, as doubting whether such medicaments, the very dust of the persecuting Egyptian and idolatrous race, were fit for a Christian to swallow, with any hope of a blessing. Thus my kind nurse ended, calling herself my lady's sister in the love of France and of the Maid, and bidding my lady be mindful of so true a lover, who lay sick for a token at her hands. These letters she sealed, and intrusted to Colet de Vienne, the royal messenger, the same who rode from Vaucouleurs to Chinon, in the beginning of the Maid's mission, and who, as then, was faring to Tours with letters from Orleans.

Meanwhile all the town was full of joy, in early June, because the Maid was to visit the city, with D'Alencon and the Bastard, on her way to besiege Jargeau. It was June the ninth, in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and twenty-nine, the sun shining warm in a clear blue sky, and all the bells of Orleans a-ringing, to welcome back the Maiden. I myself sat in the window, over the doorway, alone with Charlotte sitting by my side, for her father had gone to the Hotel de Ville, with her mother, to welcome the captains. Below us were hangings of rich carpets, to make the house look gay, for every house was adorned in the best manner, and flags floated in the long street, and flowers strewed the road, to do honour to our deliverer. Thus we waited, and presently the sound of music filled the air, with fragrance of incense, for the priests were walking in front, swinging censers and chanting the Te Deum laudamus. And then came a company of girls strewing flowers, and fair boys blowing on trumpets, and next, on a black horse, in white armour, with a hucque of scarlet broidered with gold, the blessed Maid herself, unhelmeted, glancing every way with her happy eyes, while the women ran to touch her armour with their rings, as to a saint, and the men kissed her mailed feet.

To be alive, and to feel my life returning in a flood of strength and joy in that sweet air, with the gladness of the multitude pulsing through it as a man's heart beats in his body, seemed to me like Paradise. But out of Paradise our first parents were driven long ago, as anon I was to be from mine. For, as the Maid passed, I doffed my cap and waved it, since to shout "Noel" with the rest, I dared not, because of my infirmity. Now, it so fell that, glancing around, she saw and knew me, and bowed to me, with a gesture of her hand, as queenly as if she, a manant's child, had been a daughter of France. At that moment, noting the Maid's courtesy towards me, Charlotte stood up from beside me, with a handful of red roses, which she threw towards her. As it chanced, belike because she was proud to be with one whom the Maid honoured, or to steady herself as she threw, she laid her left hand about my neck, and so standing, cast her flowers, and then looked laughing back into my eyes, with a happy face. The roses missed the Maid, whose horse caracoled at that moment as she went by, but they lit in the lap of a damsel that rode at her rein, on a lyart {28} palfrey, and she looking up, I saw the face of Elliot, and Elliot saw me, and saw Charlotte leaning on me and laughing. Then Elliot's face grew deadly pale, her lower lip stiff, as when she was angered with me at Chinon, and so, wrying her neck suddenly to the left, she rode on her way, nor ever looked towards us again.

"Who may that proud damsel be, and what ails her at my roses?" quoth Charlotte, sitting herself down again and still following them with her eyes. "Methinks I have seen her face before; and what ails you?" she asked, looking earnestly on me, "for you are as white as the last snow ere it melts in spring."

I had good reason to be pale, for I very well guessed that Elliot, having ridden in the Maiden's company to see me, and to surprise me with the unlooked-for gladness of her coming, had marked Charlotte as she so innocently leaned on me and laughed to me, and had conceived anger against us both, for of a truth Charlotte was very fair and of a joyous aspect. Yet, taken so suddenly as I was, between the extreme of delight in looking on my lady beyond hope, and the very deep of sorrow that she had so bitterly slighted me, I was yet wary of betraying myself. For the girl beside me had, in all honest and maidenly service that woman may do for man, been kinder to me than a sister, and no thought or word of earthly love had ever passed between us. That she should wot of Elliot's anger, and of its cause, and so hold my lady lightly, ay, and triumph over her in her heart (as is the nature of a woman, her ministry being thus churlishly repaid), was more than I could endure. So, may the saints forgive me! I lied, and it is a strange thing, but true, that howsoever a gentleman may hate the very thought of a lie, yet often he finds it hard to tell the truth to a woman.

"Do I look white?" I said. "Then it is because I have a sudden pang of sorrow. For one moment I deemed that proud damsel was the lady of my love, whom, in verity, she most strangely favours, so that you might think them sisters. But alas! she is but the daughter of a good Scots knight at Chinon, whom I have seen there before to-day, and marvelled how much she and my lady favour each other. Therefore am I pale, because that hope of mine is broken. And you know her face, belike, from my poor picture of my lady."

Charlotte looked at me steadily, and flushed red; but even then, one who rode by among the men-at-arms noted me, and, waving his arm towards me, cried in a loud voice -

"Hail, fair son, soon will I be with thee!" and so, turning in his saddle to watch me, he laughed a loud laugh and rode onwards. He was my master, and as my eyes followed him, Charlotte spoke.

"And who is that great Scot, with his Scots twang of the tongue, who called you 'son'? By the Mass, she was your lady, and yonder wight is her father, of whom you have spoken to me more than once"; for, indeed, I had told her all the story of my loves.

Then I was confused, for I could no longer deny the truth, and not having one word to say, I sighed from my heart.

"O faint-spirited man-at-arms!" cried Charlotte, blushing, and laughing as if some exquisite jest were abroad. "Do you so terribly dread your mistress's anger? Nay, be of good cheer! Me she will never forgive while the world stands; for have I not been your nurse, and won you back to life and to her service? And has she not seen us twain together in one place, and happy, because of the coming of the Maid? She will pardon me never, because, also for my sake, she has been wroth with you, and shown you her wrath, and all without a cause. Therefore she will be ashamed, and all the more cruel. Nay, nor would I forgive her, in the same case, if it befell me, for we women are all alike, hearts of wolves when we love! Hast thou never marked a cat that had kittens, or a brachet that had whelps, how they will fly at man or horse that draws near their brood, even unwittingly. And so, when we love, are we all, and the best of us are then the worst. Verily the friendship of you and me is over and done; but for your part be glad, not sorry, for with all her heart and soul she loves you. Else she had not been angered."

"You must not speak, nor I hear, such words of my lady," I said; "it is not seemly."

"Such words of your lady, and of Aymeric's lady, and of Giles's lady, and of myself were I any man's lady, as I am no man's lady, I will think and speak," said Charlotte, "for my words are true, and we maids are, at best, pretty fools, and God willed us to be so for a while, and then to be wiser than the rest of you. For, were we not pretty, would you wed us? and were we not fools, would we wed you? and where would God's world be then? But now you have heard enough of my wisdom: for I love no man, being very wise; or you have heard enough of my folly that my mirth bids me speak, as you shall deem it. And now, we must consider how this great feud may be closed, and the foes set at one again."

"Shall I find out her lodgings, and be carried thither straightway in a litter? Her heart may be softened when she sees that I cannot walk or mount a horse?"

"Now, let me think what I should deem, if I had ridden by, unlooked for, and spied my lover with a maid, not unfriendly, or perchance uncomely, sitting smiling in a gallant balcony. Would I be appeased when he came straight to seek me, borne in a litter? Would I--?" And she mused, her finger at her mouth, and her brow puckered, but with a smile on her lips and in her eyes.

Then I, seeing her so fair, yet by me so undesired; and beholding her so merry, while my heart was amazed with the worst sorrow, and considering, too, that but for her all this would never have been, but I sitting happy by my lady's side,--thinking on all this, I say, I turned from her angrily, as if I would leave the balcony.

"Nay, wait," she cried, "for I must see all the show out, and here come the Scots Guard, thy friends, and I need time to take counsel with my wisdom on this weighty matter. See, they know you"; and, indeed, many a man in that gallant array waved his hand to me merrily, as they filed past under their banners--the Douglas's bloody heart, the Crescent moon of Harden, the Napier's sheaf of spears, the blazons of Lindsays and Leslies, Homes, and Hepburns, and Stuarts. It was a sight to put life into the dying breast of a Scot in a strange country, and all were strong men and young, ruddy and brown of cheek, high of heart and heavy of hand. And most beckoned to me, and pointed onwards to that way whither they were bound, in chase of fame and fortune. All this might have made a sick man whole, but my spirit was dead within me, so that I could scarce beckon back to them, or even remember their faces.

"Would I forgive you," said Charlotte, after she had thrown the remnant of her roses to her friends among the Scots, "if you hurried to me, pale, and borne in a litter? Nay, methinks not, or not for long; and then I should lay it on you never to see her face again;-- she is I, you know, for the nonce. But if you waited and did not come, then my pride might yield at length, and I send for you. But then, if so, methinks I would hate her (that is, me) more than ever. Oh, it is a hard case when maids are angry!"

"You speak of yourself, how you would do this or that; but my lady is other than you, and pitiful. Did she not come all these leagues at a word from me, hearing that I was sick?"

"At a word from you, good youth! Nay, at a word from me! Did you speak of me in your letter to her father?"

"Nay!" said I.

"You did well. And therefore it was that I wrote, for I knew she would move heaven and earth and the Maid or she would come when she heard of another lass being in your company. Nay, trust me, we women understand each other, and she would ask the Maid, who lodged here with us, what manner of lass I was to look upon, and the Maid's answer would bring her."

"You have been kind," I said. "And to you and the saints I owe it that I yet live to carry a sore heart and be tormented with your ill tongue."

"And had you heard that a fair young knight, and renowned in arms, lay sick at your lady's house, she nursing him, would you not have cast about for ways of coming to her?"

To this I answered nothing, but, with a very sour countenance, was rising to go, when my name was called in the street.

Looking down, I saw my master, who doffed his cap to the daughter of the house, and begging leave to come up, fastened his horse's bridle to the ring in the wall, by the door.

Up he came, whom Charlotte welcomed very demurely, and so left us, saying that she must go about her household business; but as she departed she cast a look back at me, making a "moue," as the French say, with her red lips.

"Well, my son," cried my master, taking my hand, "why so pale? Sure thou hast had a sore bout, but thou art mending."

I could but stammer my lady's name -

"Elliot--shall I see her soon?"

He scratched his rough head and pulled his russet beard, and so laughed shamefacedly.

"Why, lad, to that very end she came, and now--St. Anthony's fire take me if I well know why--she will none of it. The Maid brought us in her company, for, as you know, she will ever have young lasses with her when she may, and as far as Orleans the roads are safe. And who so glad as Elliot when the Maid put this command on her, after we got thy letter? I myself was most eager to ride, not only for your sake, but to see how Orleans stood after the long pounding. But when we had come to our lodging, and I was now starting off to greet you, Elliot made no motion of rising. Nay, when I bade her make haste, she said that haste there was none; and when I, marvelling, asked, 'Wherefore?' answered that she was loth to spoil good company, and had seen you, as I did myself, happy enough with the lass who nursed you, and who had written to her."

"And wherefore, in Heaven's name, should we not be happy on such a day as this was an hour agone? But now the sun is out of the sky."

"I see him plainer than ever I did in the Merse," said my master, looking up where the sun was bright in the west. "But what would you? Women have been thus since Eve had a daughter, for our father Adam, I trow, had no trouble with other ladies than his wife--and that was trouble enough."

"But how am I to make my peace, and win my pardon, being innocent as I am?"

"Faith, I know not!" said he, and laughed again, which angered me some deal, for what was there to laugh at?

"May I let bring a litter, for I cannot yet walk, and so go back with you to her?"

"Indeed, I doubt if it were wise," said he; and so we stood gazing at each other, while I could have wept for very helpless anger. "I have it, I think," said he at last. "The Maid is right busy, as needs must be, gathering guns and food for her siege of Jargeau. But it is not fitting that she should visit Orleans without seeing you, nor would she wish to be so negligent. Yet if she were, I would put it in her mind, and then, when you are with her, which Elliot shall not know, I will see that Elliot comes into the chamber, and so leave all to you, and to her, and to the Maid. For she hath great power with that silly wench of mine, who has no other desire, I trow, than a good excuse to be rid of her sudden anger. If she loved you less, she would be never so fiery."

I myself could see no better hope or comfort.

Then he began to devise with me on other matters, and got from me the story of my great peril at the hands of Brother Thomas. He laughed at the manner of my outwitting that miscreant, who had never been taken, but was fled none knew whither, and my master promised to tell the tale to the Maid, and warn her against this enemy. And so bidding me be of good cheer, he departed; but for my part, I went into my chamber, drew the bolt, and cast myself on the bed, refusing meat or drink, or to see the face of man or woman.

I was devoured by a bitter anger, considering how my lady had used me, and what was most sore of all, reflecting that I could no longer hold her for a thing all perfect, and almost without touch of mortal infirmity. Nay, she was a woman like another, and unjust, and to deem thus of her was to me the most cruel torment. We could never forgive each the other, so it seemed to me, nor be again as we had been. And all the next day no message came for me, and I kept myself quiet, apart in my chamber. Lest they who read mock at me in their hearts, and at my lady, let them remember how young we both were, and how innocent of other experience in love. For the Roman says that "the angers of lovers are love's renewal," as the brief tempests of April bring in the gladness of May. But in my heart it was all white sleet, and wind, and snow unseasonable, and so I lay, out of all comfort, tossing on my bed.

I heard the watchmen call the hours through the night, and very early, having at length fallen on sleep, I was wakened by a messenger from the Maid. It was her page, Louis de Coutes, most richly attired, but still half asleep, grumbling, and rubbing his eyes.

"My mistress bids you come with me instantly," he said, when we had saluted each other, "and I have brought a litter and men to carry it. Faith, if I lay in it, I should be asleep ere ever they had borne me ten paces. What a life it is that I lead! Late to bed and up by prime, so busy is my mistress; and she lives as it were without sleep, and feeds on air." Here he threw himself down in a great chair, and verily, by the time I had washed and attired myself, I had to shake him by the shoulder to arouse him. Thus I was carried to the Maid's lodging, my heart beating like a hammer with hopes and fears.

We found her already armed, for that day she was to ride to Jargeau, and none was with her but her confessor. She gave me the best of greetings, and bade me eat bread and drink wine. "And soon," she said, "if you recover the quicker, I trust to give you wine to drink in Paris."

She herself dipped a crust in wine and water, and presently, bidding her confessor, Pasquerel, wait for her in the little oratory, she asked me how I did, and told me what fear she had been in for me, as touching Brother Thomas, when she learned who he was, yet herself could not return from the field to help me.

"But now," said she, smiling with a ravishing sweetness, "I hear you are in far greater peril from a foe much harder and more cruel--ma mie Elliot. Ah! how you lovers put yourselves in jeopardy, and take me from my trade of war to play the peacemaker! Surely I have chosen the safer path in open breach and battle, though would that my war was ended, and I sitting spinning again beside my dear mother." Hereon her face grew more tender and sad than ever I had seen it, and there came over me forgetfulness of my private grief, as of a little thing, and longing to ride at the Maiden's rein, where glory was to be won.

"Would that even now I could march with you," I said; and she, smiling, made answer -

"That shall yet be; yea, verily," and here the fashion of her countenance altered wondrously, "I know, and know not how I know, that thou shalt be with me when all have forsaken me and fled."

Then she fell silent, and I also, marvelling on her face and on the words which she spoke. There came a light tap at the door, and she awoke as it were from a trance which possessed her. She drew her hands over her face, with a long sigh; she knelt down swiftly, and crossed herself, making an obeisance, for I deem that her saints had been with her, wherefore I also crossed myself and prayed. Then she rose and cried "Enter!" and ere I could speak she had passed into the oratory, and I was alone with Elliot.

Elliot gave one low cry, and cast her arms about my neck, hiding her face on my breast, and sobbing as if her heart would break.

"I have been mad, I have been bad!" she moaned. "Oh! say hard words to me, and punish me, my love."

But I had no word to say, only I fell back into a great chair for very weakness, holding my lady in my arms.

And thus, with words few enough, but great delight, the minutes went past, till she lifted her wet face and her fragrant hair; and between laughing and crying, studied on my face and caressed me, touching my thin cheek, and wept and laughed again. "I was mad," she whispered; "it seemed as if a devil entered into me. But She spoke to me and cast him out, and she bade me repent."

"And do penance," I said, kissing her till she laughed again, saying that I was a hard confessor, and that the Maid had spoken no word of penances.

"Yet one I must do and suffer," she said, "and it is more difficult to me than these austerities of thine."

Here her face grew very red, and she hid it with her hands.

"What mean you?" I asked, wondering.

"I must see her, and thank her for all her kindness to thee."

"The Maid?" I asked.

"Nay, that other, thy--fair nurse. Nay, forbid me not, I have sworn it to myself, and I must go. And the Maiden told me, when I spoke of it, that it was no more than right." Then she threw her arms about me again, in the closest embrace, and hid her head. Now, this resolve of hers gave me no little cause of apprehension, as not knowing well how things might pass in such an encounter of two ladies. But even then one touched me on the shoulder from behind, and the Maid herself stood beside us.

"O joy!" she said, "my peacemaking has been blessed! Go, you foolish folk, and sin no more, and peace and happiness be with you, long years, and glad children at your knees. Yet hereof I know nothing from my counsel. And now I must go forth about the Dauphin's business, and to do that for which I was sent. They that brought thee in the litter will carry thee back again; so farewell."

Thus saying, she stooped and kissed Elliot, who leaped up and caught the Maid in her arms, and they embraced, and parted for that time, Elliot weeping to lose her, and at the thought of the dangers of war.

CHAPTER XVII
HOW ELLIOT LOST HER JACKANAPES

The Maid's confessor, Pasquerel, stood in the chamber where we had met, with his eyes bent on the ground, so that Elliot and I had no more free speech at that time. Therefore I said farewell, not daring to ask of her when her mind was to visit my hosts, and, indeed, my trust was that she might leave this undone, lest new cause of sorrow should arise. Thus we parted, with very courtly leave-taking, the priest regarding us in his manner, and I was carried in the litter through the streets, that had been so quiet when I came forth in the morning, but now they were full of men and of noise. Herds of cattle were being driven for the food of the army marching against Jargeau; there were trains of carts full of victual, and the citizens having lent the Maid their great pieces of ordnance, the bombard called "The Shepherdess," and the gun "Montargis," these were being dragged along by clamorous companies of apprentices, and there were waggons charged with powder, and stone balls, and boxes of arrows, spades and picks for trenching, and all manner of munition of war. By reason of the troops of horses and of marching men, they that bore me were often compelled to stop. Therefore, lest any who knew me should speak with me, I drew the curtains of the litter, for I had much matter to think on, and was fain to be private. But this was to be of no avail, for I heard loud voices in my own tongue.

"What fair lady is this who travels so secretly?" and, with this, one drew the curtains, and there was the face of Randal Rutherford, with others behind him. Then he uttered a great cry -

"Faith, it is our lady of the linen-basket, and no other"; and leaning within, he gave me a rough embrace and a kiss of his bearded lips. "Why so early astir, our sick man?" he cried. "Get yourself healed anon, and be with us when we take Paris town, Norman, for there is booty enough to furnish all Scotland. Shalt thou be with us yet?"

"If my strength backs my will, Randal; and truly your face is a sight for sair eyne, and does me more good than all the powers of the apothecary."

"Then here is to our next merry meeting," he cried, "under Paris walls!"

With that the Scots gave a shout, and, some of them crowding round to press my hand, they bade me be of good cheer, and all went onward, singing in the tune of "Hey, tuttie tattie," which the pipers played when we broke the English at Bannockburn.

So I was borne back to the house of Jacques Boucher, and, in the sunny courtyard, there stood Charlotte, looking gay and fair, yet warlike, as I deemed. She was clad in a long garment of red over a white robe, and had sleeves of green, so that she wore the spring's own colours, and she was singing a French ditty concerning a lady who has a lover, and vows that she will never be a nun.

Seray-je nonnette, oui ou non,
Serray-je nonnette, je croy que non!


Seeing me, she stinted in her singing, and in feeding a falcon that was perched on her wrist.

"You are early astir for a sick man," she said. "Have you been on pilgrimage, or whither have you been faring?"

"The Maid sent for me right early, for to-day she rides to Jargeau, and to you she sends a message of her love,"--as indeed she had done, "but, for the great press of affairs she might not visit you."

"And Mistress Elliot Hume, has she forgiven her lover yet? nay, I see by your face that you are forgiven! And you go south, this very day, is it not so?"

"Indeed," I said, "if it is your will that we part, part we must, though I sorrow for it; but none has given me the word to march, save you, my fair nurse and hostess."

"Nay, it is not I who shall speed you; nevertheless the Maid is not the only prophetess in this realm of France, and something tells me that we part this day. But you are weary; will you get you to your chamber, or sit in the garden under the mulberry-tree, and I shall bring you out a cup of white wine."

Weary I was indeed, and the seat in the garden among the flowers seemed a haven most desirable. So thither I went, leaning on her shoulder, and she returned to bring the wine, but was some while absent, and I sat deep in thought. I was marvelling, not only as to what my mistress would next do, and when I should see her again (though that was uppermost in my mind), but also concerning the strange words of the Maid, that I alone should be with her when all forsook her and fled. How might this be, and was she not to be ever victorious, and drive the English forth of France? To my thinking the Maid dwelt ever in two worlds, with her brethren of Paradise, and again with sinful men. And I have often considered that she did not always remember, in this common life, what had befallen her, and what she knew when, as the Apostle says, she "was out of the body." For I have heard her say, more than once, that she "would last but one year, or little more," and, again, she would make plans for three years to come, or four, which is a mystery.

So I was pondering, when I looked up, and saw Charlotte standing in the entrance between the court and garden, looking at me and smiling, as she shaded her eyes with her hand from the sun, and then she ran to me lightly as a lapwing.

"They are coming down the street, looking every way for our house, your lady and her father," she said, putting the wine-cup into my hand. "Now is it war or peace?" and she fled back again within the house.

My heart stood still, for now everything was on the fall of the dice. Would this mad girl be mocking or meek? Would she anger my lady to my ruin with her sharp tongue? For Charlotte was of a high temper, and wont to rule all the house by reason of her beauty and kind wild ways. Nor was Elliot the meekest of women, as well I knew, and a word, nay a smile, or a glance of mockery, might lightly turn her heart from me again for ever. Oh! the lot of a lover is hard, at least if he has set all his heart on the cast, as I had done, and verily, as our Scots saw runs, "women are kittle cattle." It is a strange thing that one who has learned not to blench from a bare blade, or in bursting of cannon-balls and flight of arrows, should so easily be daunted where a weak girl is concerned; yet so it was in my case. I know not if I feared more than now when Brother Thomas had me in the still chamber, alone at his mercy.

So the minutes went by, the sun and shade flickering through the boughs of the mulberry-tree, and the time seemed long. Perchance, I thought, there had been war, as Charlotte had said, and my lady had departed in anger with her father, and I was all undone. Yet I dared not go to seek them in the house, not knowing how matters were passing, and whether I should do good or harm. So I waited, and at length Charlotte came forth alone. Now she walked slowly, her eyes bent on the ground, and, as she drew near, I saw that they were red, and I guessed that she had been weeping. So I gave up all for lost, and my heart turned to water within me.

"I am sent to bid you come in," she said gravely.

"What has passed?" I cried. "For the saints' sake, tell me all!"

"This has passed, that I have seen such a lady as I never dreamed I should see, and she has made me weep--foolish that I am!"

"Why, what did she? Did she speak unkindly then, to my kind nurse?"

For this I could in no manner have endured, nor have abased myself to love one that was unjust, how dear soever; and none could be dearer than Elliot. Yet unjust she might have been; and this thought to me was the greatest torment.

"Speak unkind words? Oh, I remember my foolish talk, how I said that she would never forgive me while the world stands. Nay, while her father was with mine and with my mother, thanking them for what they did for you, she led me apart to devise with me, and I took her to my chamber, and there, with tears in her eyes, and in the sweetest manner, she prayed me to pardon her for that she had been mad for a moment; and so, looking meek as an angel, she awaited my word. And I could not but weep, though to weep is never my way, and we embraced each the other, and I told her how all your converse had ever been of her, even when you were beside yourself, in your fever, and how never was so faithful a lover. Nay, I bid you be glad, for I never deemed that any woman living on earth would so repent and so confess herself to another, where she herself had first been wroth, but would blame all the world rather, and herself--never. So we women are not all alike, as I thought; for I would hardly have forgiven, if I know myself; and yet I am no worse than another. Truly, she has been much with the Maid, and has caught from her this, to be like her, who is alone among women, and of the greatest heart."

Here she ceased to speak very gravely, as she had till now done, and breaking out into a sweet laughter, she cried -

"Nevertheless I am not wholly a false prophetess, for to-day you go with them southward, to Tours, to change the air, as the physician counsels, and so now we part. O false Scot!" she said, laughing again, "how have you the ill courtesy to look so joyous? Nay, I shall change your cheer"; and with that she stooped and kissed my cheek, saying, "Go, and joy go with you, as joy abides with me, to see my sick man look so strong again. Come, they are waiting for us, and you know we must not tarry."

Then, giving me her arm, she led me in, and if one of us twain had a shamefaced guise, verify it was not Charlotte Boucher.

"I yield you back your esquire, fair lady," she said merrily, making obeisance to Elliot, who stood up, very pale, to receive us.

"He has got no ill in the bower of the enchantress," said my master; whereat, Elliot seeming some deal confused, and blushing, Charlotte bustled about, bringing wine and meat, and waiting upon all of us, and on her father and mother at table. A merry dinner it was among the elder folk, but Elliot and I were somewhat silent, and a great joy it was to me, and a heavy weight off my heart, I do confess, when, dinner being ended, and all courtesies done and said, my raiment was encased in wallets, and we all went through the garden, to Loire side; and so, with many farewells, took boat and sailed down the river, under the Bridge of Orleans, towards Blois. But Charlotte I never saw again, nor did I ever speak of her to Elliot, nor Elliot of her to me, from that day forth.

But within short space came tidings, how that Charlotte was wedding a young burgess of Orleans, with whom, as I hear, she dwelt happily, and still, for all I know, dwells in peace. As I deem, she kept her lord in a merry life, yet in great order and obedience. So now there is no more to tell of her, save that her picture comes back before me--a tall, brown girl, with black hair and eyes like the hue of hazel boughs glassed in running water, clad in white and green and red, standing smiling beneath the red-and-white blossoms of an apple-tree, in the green garden of Jacques Boucher.

Elliot was silent enough, and sat telling her beads, in the beginning of our journey down the water-way, that is the smoothest and the easiest voyaging for a sick man. She was in the stern of the boat, her fingers, when her beads were told, trailing in the smooth water, that was green with the shade of leaves. But her father stood by me, asking many questions concerning the siege, and gaping at the half-mended arch of the bridge, where through we sailed, and at the blackened walls of Les Tourelles, and all the ruin that war had wrought. But now masons and carpenters were very busy rebuilding all, and the air was full of the tinkling of trowels and hammers. Presently we passed the place where I had drawn Brother Thomas from the water; but thereof I said no word, for indeed my dreams were haunted by his hooded face, like that of the snake which, as travellers tell, wears a hood in Prester John's country, and is the most venomous of beasts serpentine. So concerning Brother Thomas I held my peace, and the barque, swinging round a corner of the bank, soon brought us into a country with no sign of war on it, and here the poplar-trees had not been felled for planks to make bulwarks, but whispered by the riverside.

The wide stream carried many a boat, and shone with sails, white, and crimson, and brown; the boat-men sang, or hailed each other from afar. There was much traffic, stores being carried from Blois to the army. Some mile or twain above Beaugency we were forced to land, and, I being borne in a litter, we took a cross-path away from the stream, joining it again two miles below Beaugency, because the English held that town, though not for long. The sun had set, yet left all his gold shining on the water when we entered Blois, and there rested at a hostel for the night. Next day--one of the goodliest of my life, so soft and clear and warm it was, yet with a cool wind on the water--we voyaged to Tours; and now Elliot was glad enough, making all manner of mirth.

Her desire, she said, was to meet a friend that she had left at their house in Tours, one that she had known as long as she knew me, my friend he was too, yet I had never spoken of him, or asked how he did. Now I, being wrapped up wholly in her, and in my joy to see her kind again, and so beautiful, had no memory of any such friend, wherefore she mocked me, and rebuked me for a hard heart and ungrateful. "This friend of mine," she said, "was the first that made us known each to other. Yea, but for him, the birds might have pecked out your eyne, and the ants eaten your bones bare, yet"--with a sudden anger, and tears in her eyes at the words she spoke--"you have clean forgotten him!"

"Ah, you mean the jackanapes. And how is the little champion?"

"Like the lads of Wamfray, aye for ill, and never for good," said my master; but she frowned on him, and said -

"Now you ask, because I forced you on it; but, sir, I take it very ill that you have so short a memory for a friend. Now, tell me, in all the time since you left us at Chinon, how often have you thought of him?"

"Nigh as often as I thought of you," I answered. "For when you came into my mind (and that was every minute), as in a picture, thither too came your playfellow, climbing and chattering, and holding out his little bowl for a comfit."

"Nay, then you thought of me seldom, or you would have asked how he does."

Here she turned her face from me, half in mock anger. But, just as it is with children, so it was with Elliot, for indeed my dear was ever much of a child, wherefore her memory is now to me so tender. And as children make pretence to be in this humour or that for sport, and will affect to be frighted till they really fear and weep, so Elliot scarce knew how deep her own humour went, and whether she was acting like a player in a Mystery, or was in good earnest. And if she knew not rightly what her humour was, far less could I know, so that she was ever a puzzle to me, and kept me in a hundred pretty doubts and dreads every day. Alas! how sorely, through all these years, have I longed to hear her rebuke me in mirth, and put me adread, and laugh at me again I for she was, as it were, wife and child to me, at once, and I a child with her, and as happy as a child.

Thus, nothing would now jump with her humour but to be speaking of her jackanapes, and how he would come louting and leaping to welcome her, and forsake her old kinswoman, who had followed with them to Tours. And she had much to report concerning his new tricks: how he would leap over a rod for the Dauphin or the Maid, but not if adjured in the name of the English King, or the Duke of Burgundy. Also, if you held him, he would make pretence to bite any that you called Englishman or false Frenchman. Moreover, he had now been taught to fetch and carry, and would climb into Elliot's window, from the garden, and bring her little basket of silks, or whatsoever she desired, or carry it thither, as he was commanded.

"And he wrung the cat's neck," quoth my master; but Elliot bade him hold his peace.

In such sport the hours passed, till we were safely come to Tours, and so to their house in a street running off the great place, where the cathedral stands. It was a goodly dwelling, with fair carved- work on the beams, and in the doorway stood the old Scots kinswoman, smiling wide and toothless, to welcome us. Elliot kissed her quickly, and she fondled Elliot, and held a hand out over her shoulder to greet me.

"But where is my jackanapes, that should have been here to salute his mistress?" Elliot cried.

"Out and alas!" said the old wife in our country tongue--"out and alas! for I have ill news. The poor beast is missing these three days past, and we fear he is stolen away by some gangrel bodies, for the town is full of them. There came two to our door, three days agone, and one was a blind man, and the other a one-armed soldier, maimed in the wars, and I gave them bite and sup, as a Christian should do. Now, they had not been gone but a few minutes, and I was in the spence, putting away the dishes, when I heard a whistle in the street, and anon another. I thought little of it, and so was about my business for an hour, when I missed the jackanapes. And then there was a hue and cry, and all the house was searched, and the neighbours were called on, but since that day there has been no word of the jackanapes. But, for the blind man and the armless soldier, the town guard saw them leaving by the North Gate, with a violer woman and her husband, an ill-looking loon, in their company." Elliot sat her down and wept sore. "They have stolen my little friend," she cried, "and now he that was so fat I called him Tremouille will go hungry and lean, and be whipped to make him do his tricks, and I shall never see him more."

Then she ran out of the chamber, to weep alone, as I guessed, for she was pitiful and of very tender affection, and dumb things came near about her heart, as is the manner of many women.

But I made no doubt in my mind that the husband of the ape's old mistress had stolen him, and I, too, sorrowed for the poor beast that my mistress loved, and that, in very deed, had been the saving of my own life. Then I spoke to my master, and said that we must strive to buy her a new ape, or a little messan dog, to be her playfellow.

But he shook his head. "Say nothing more of the beast," he muttered, "unless she speaks of him first, and that, methinks, will be never. For it is not her wont to speak of what lies very deep in her heart, and if you talk of the beast it will please her little."

And, indeed, I heard no word more of the jackanapes from Elliot, save that, coming back from the minster next day, she whispered, "I have prayed for him," and so fled to her own chamber.

As then I deemed it a strange thing, and scarcely to be approved by Holy Church, that my lady should pray for a dumb beast who had no soul to be saved. But a faithful, loving prayer is not unavailing or unheard of Him who made the beasts, as well as He made us; for whose sin, or the sin of our father Adam, they now suffer, silently. And the answer to this prayer was to be known in the end.

As the week went on, tidings came that made Elliot glad again, if before she had been sad enough. For this was that great week of wonders which shall never be forgotten while France is France, and the lilies bloom.

On June the thirteenth the Maid took Jargeau, whence the famed Bastard of Orleans had been driven some weeks agone; and the Earl of Suffolk yielded him her prisoner, saying that she was "the most valiant woman in the world." Scarce had tidings of this great victory come, when messengers followed, declaring that the Maid had seized the Bridge of Meun and driven the English into the Castle.

Next she marched against Beaugency, and, at midnight of June the seventeenth, the English made terms, that they might go forth with their lives, but without baggage or arms, and with but one mark of silver apiece. Next morning came Talbot, the best knight then on ground, and Fastolf, the wariest of captains, with a great army of English. First they made for Jargeau, but they came too late, and then they rode to Meun, and would have assailed the French in the bridge-fort, but, even then, they heard how Beaugency had yielded to La Pucelle, and how the garrison was departed into Normandy, like pilgrims, without swords, and staff in hand. Thus all the Loire and the water-way was in the power of France, wherefore the English marched off through the country called La Beauce, which then lay desert and overgrown with wild wood, by reason of the war. And there, in a place named Coynce, near Patay, the Maid overtook the English, having with her La Hire and Xaintrailles, and she charged them so rudely, that ere the English could array them in order of battle, they were already flying for their lives. There were Talbot and Warwick taken and held to ransom, but Fastolf fled as fast as his horse could carry him.

Thus in one week, between June the eleventh and June the eighteenth, the Maid had delivered three strong towns from the English, and had utterly routed them in fair field. Then, at Orleans, on June the nineteenth, the army went to the churches, thanking God, and the Blessed Virgin, and all the saints, for such great signs and marvels wrought through the Maid only.

Sorrow it is to me to write of such things by report, and not to have seen them done. But, as Talbot said to the Duc d'Alencon, when they took him at Patay, "it is fortune of war."

But, as day by day messengers came, their horses red with spurring, to the cross in the market-place of Tours, and as we that gathered round heard of some fresh victory, you may consider whether we rejoiced, feasted, filled the churches with our thanksgivings, and deemed that, in a few weeks, there would be no living Englishman on French soil. And of all that were glad my lady was the happiest, for she had believed in the Maid from the very beginning, when her father mocked. And a hard life she now led him with her sallies, day by day, as more and ever more glad tidings were brought, and we could hear Elliot singing through the house.

Yea, I found her once dancing in the garden all alone, a beautiful sight to look upon, as the sun fell on her and the shadow, she footing it as if to music, but the music was made by her own heart. Leaning against an apple-tree, I watched her, who waved her hand to me, and still danced on; this was after we had heard the news of Beaugency. As she so swayed and moved, dancing daintily, came a blast of a trumpet and a gay peal from the minster bells. Then forth rushed Elliot, and through the house, and down the street into the market-place, nor did I know where I was, till I found myself beside her, and heard the Maire read a letter to all the folk, telling how the English were routed at Pathay in open field. Thereon the whole multitude fell a-dancing, and I, for all my malady, was fain to dance with them; but Elliot led me home, her head high, and blue rays darting from her eyes. From that day my life seemed to come back to me, and I was no longer the sick man. So the weeks went by, in all delight, my master working hard, and I helping him in my degree, for new banners would be wanted when the Dauphin went for his sacring to his good town of Reims. As we all deemed, this could no longer be delayed; and thereafter our armies would fall on Paris, and so strong grew I, that I was in hopes to be with them, where, at last, fortune was to be won. But of this my hope I said little to Elliot, waiting till I could wear armour, and exercising myself thereat privately in the garden, before folk had risen in the mornings.

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