Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Chapters XVIII - XXVI


"The hearts of kings are in His hand," says Holy Scripture, and it is of necessity to be believed that the hearts of kings, in an especial sense, are wisely governed. Yet, the blindness of our sinful souls, we often may not see, nor by deep consideration find out, the causes wherefore kings often act otherwise, and, as we might deem, less worthily than common men. For it is a truth and must be told, that neither before he was anointed with the blessed oil from the holy vessel, or ampulla, which the angel brought to St. Remigius, nor even after that anointing (which is more strange), did Charles VII., King of France, bear him kingly as regards the Maiden. Nay, I have many a time thought with sorrow that if Xaintrailles, or La Hire, ay, or any the meanest esquire in all our army, had been born Dauphin, in three months after the Maid's victories in June Paris would have been ours, and not an Englishman left to breathe the air of France. For it needed but that the King should obey the Maid, ride straight to Reims, and thence on Paris town, and every city would have opened its gates to him, as the walls of Jericho fell at the mere sound of the trumpets of Israel.

This is no foolish fancy of an old man dreaming in a cloister about what might have been. For the Regent of the English, brother of their King Harry the Fifth, and himself a wise man, and brave, if cruel, was of this same mind. First, he left Paris and shut himself up in the strong castle of Vincennes, dreading an uproar among the people; and next, he wholly withdrew himself to Rouen, for he had now no force of men to guard the walls of Paris. Our Dauphin had but to mount and ride, and all would have been his at one blow, ay, or without a blow. The Maid, as we daily heard, kept praying him, even with tears, to do no more than this; and from every side came in men free and noble, ready to serve at their own charges. The poorest gentlemen who had lost all in the troubles, and might not even keep a horse to ride, were of goodwill to march as common foot- soldiers.

But, while all France called on her King, he was dwelling at Sully, in the castle of La Tremouille, a man who had a foot in either camp, so that neither English nor Burgundians had ever raided on his rich lands, when these lay in their power. So, what with the self- seeking, and sloth, and jealousy of La Tremouille; what with the worldly policy of the Archbishop of Reims, crying Peace, where there was no peace, the Maid and the captains were not listened to, or, if they were heard, their plans were wrought out with a faint heart, so that, at last, if it is lawful to say so, the will of men prevailed over the will of Heaven.

Never, I pray, may any prince of my own country be so bestead, and so ill-served, that, when he has won battles and gained cities two or three, and needs but to ride forward and win all his kingdom, he shall be turned back by the little faith of his counsellors! Never may such a thing befall a prince of Scotland! Concerning these matters of State, as may be believed, we devised much at Tours, while messengers were coming and going, and long, weary councils were being held at Sully and at Gien. D'Alencon, we got news, was all for striking a blow yet more bold than the march to Reims, and would have attacked the English where they were strongest, and nearest their own shores, namely, at Rouen. The counsellors of the peaceful sort were inclined to waste time in besieging La Charite, and other little towns on Loire-side. But her Voices had bidden the Maid, from the first, to carry the Dauphin to Reims, that there he might be anointed, and known to France for the very King. So at last, finding that time was sorely wasted, whereas all hope lay in a swift stroke, ere the English could muster men, and bring over the army lately raised by the Cardinal of Winchester to go crusading against the miscreants of Bohemia--the Maid rode out of Gien, with her own company, on June the twenty-seventh, and lodged in the fields, some four leagues away, on the road to Auxerre. And next day the King and the Court followed her perforce, with a great army of twelve thousand men. Thenceforth there came news to us every day in Tours, and all the news was good. Town after town opened its gates at the summons of the Maid, and notably Troyes and Chalons, in despite of the English garrisons.

We were all right glad, and could scarce sleep for joy, above all when a messenger rode in, one Thomas Scott, whom I had encountered before, as I have written, bidding my master come straightway to Reims, to join the King, and exercise his craft in designing a great picture of the coronation. So with much ado he bestowed his canvases, brushes, paints, and all other gear of his trade in wallets, and, commending his daughter to his old kinswoman, to obey her in all things, he set off on horseback with Thomas Scott. But for myself, I was to lodge, while he was at Reims, with a worthy woman of Tours, for the avoiding of evil tongues, and very tardily the time passed with me, for that I might not be, as before, always in the company of Elliot.

As for my lady, she was, during most of these days, on her knees at the altar in the great minster, praying to the saints for the Dauphin, and the Maid, and for her father, that he might come and go safely on his journey. Nor did she pray in vain, for, no more than two days after the first tidings had arrived that the sacring was done, and that all had gone well, my master rode to his own door, weary, but glad at heart, and hobbled into his house. One was sent running to bring me this good news, and I myself ran, for now I was able, and found him seated at his meat, as well as he could eat it for Elliot, that often stopped his mouth with kisses.

He held forth his hand to me, saying, "All is as well as heart could desire, and the Maid bids you follow her, if you may, to the taking of Paris, for there she says will be your one chance to win your spurs. And now let me eat and drink, for the heat is great, the ways dusty, and I half famished. Thereafter ask me what you will, and you, Elliot, come not between a hungry man and his meat."

So he spoke, sitting at his table with his tankard in his hand, and his wallets lying about him on the floor. Elliot was therefore fain not to be embracing him, but rather to carve for him, and serve in the best manner, that he might sup the quicker and tell us all his tale. This he did at last, Elliot sitting on his knee, with her arm about his neck. But, as touches the sacring, how it was done, though many of the peers of France were not there to see, and how noble were the manners of the King and the Maid, who stood there with her banner, and of the only reward which she would take, namely, that her townsfolk should live free of tax and corvee, all this is known and written of in Chronicles. Nor did I see it myself, so I pass by. But, next to actual beholding of that glorious rite, the best thing was to hear my master tell of it, taking out his books, wherein he had drawn the King, and the Maid in her harness, and many of the great lords. From these pictures a tapestry was afterwards wrought, and hung in Reims Cathedral, where it is to this day: the Maid on horseback beckoning the King onward, the Scots archers beside him in the most honourable place, as was their lawful due, and, behind all, the father of the Maid entering Reims by another road. By great good fortune, and by virtue of being a fellow-traveller with Thomas Scott, the rider of the King's stable, my master found lodgings easily enough. So crowded was the town that, the weather being warm, in mid July, many lay in tabernacles of boughs, in the great place of Reims, and there was more singing that night than sleeping. But my master had lain at the hostelry called L'Asne Roye, in the parvise, opposite to the cathedral, where also lay Jean d'Arc, the father of the Maid. Thither she herself came to visit him, and she gave gifts to such of the people of her own countryside as were gathered at Reims.

"And, Jeannot, do you fear nothing?" one of them asked her, who had known her from a child.

"I fear nothing but treason," my master heard her reply, a word that we had afterwards too good cause to remember.

"And is she proud now that she is so great?" asked Elliot.

"She proud! No pride has she, but sat at meat, and spoke friendly with all these manants, and it was "tu" and "toy," and "How is this one? and that one?" till verily, I think, she had asked for every man, woman, child, and dog in Domremy. And that puts me in mind--"

"In mind of what?"

"Of nought. Faith, I remember not what I was going to say, for I am well weary."

"But Paris?" I asked. "When march we on Paris?" My master's face clouded. "They should have set forth for Paris the very day after the sacring, which was the seventeenth of July. But envoys had come in from the Duke of Burgundy, and there were parleys with them as touching peace. Now, peace will never be won save at the point of the lance. But a truce of a fortnight has been made with Burgundy, and then he is to give up Paris to the King. Yet, ere a fortnight has passed, the new troops from England will have come over to fight us, and not against the heretics of Bohemia, though they have taken the cross and the vow. And the King has gone to Saint Marcoul, forsooth, seeing that, unless he goes there to do his devotions, he may not touch the sick and heal the crewels. {29} Faith, they that have the crewels might even wait till the King has come to his own again; they have waited long enough to learn patience while he was Dauphin. It should be Paris first, and Saint Marcoul and the crewels afterwards, but anything to waste time and keep out of the brunt of the battle." Here he struck his hand on the table so that the vessels leaped. "I fear what may come of it," he said. "For every day that passes is great loss to us and much gain to our enemies of England, who will anon garrison Paris."

"Faint-heart," cried Elliot, plucking his beard. "You will never believe in the Maid, who has never yet failed to help us, by the aid of the saints."

"The saints help them that help themselves," he answered. "And Paris town has walls so strong, that once the fresh English are entered in, even the saints may find it a hard bargain. But you, Elliot, run up and see if my chamber be ready, for I am well weary." She ran forth, and my master, turning to me, said in a low voice, "I have something for your own ear, but I feared to grieve her. In a booth at Reims I saw her jackanapes doing his tricks, and when he came round questing with his bowl the little beast knew me and jumped up into my arms, and wailed as if he had been a Christian. Then I was for keeping him, but I was set on by three or four stout knaves, and, I being alone, and the crowd taking their part, I thought it not well to draw sword, and so break the King's peace that had just then begun to be King. But my heart was sore for the poor creature, and, in very truth, I bring back no light heart, save to see you twain again, for I fear me that the worst of the darg {30} is still to do. But here comes Elliot, so no word of the jackanapes."

Therewith he went off to his chamber, and I to mine, with less pleasure than I had looked for. Still, the thought came into my heart that, the longer the delay of the onslaught on Paris, the better chance I had to take part therein; and the harder the work, the greater the glory.

The boding words of my master proved over true. The King was sacred on July the sixteenth, and Paris then stood empty of English soldiers, being garrisoned by Burgundians only. But, so soon as he was anointed, the King began to parley with Burgundy, and thus they spun out the time, till, on July the twenty-fifth, a strong army of Englishmen had entered Paris. Whether their hearts were high may not be known, but on their banner they had hung a distaff, and had painted the flag with the words -

"Ores viegne la Belle,"

meaning, "Let the fair Maid come, and we shall give her wool to spin." Next we heard, and were loth to believe it, that a new truce of fifteen days more had been made with Burgundy. The Maid, indeed, said openly that she loved not the truce, and that she kept it only for the honour of the King, which was dearer to her than her life, as she proved in the end.

Then came marchings, this way and that, all about the Isle of France, Bedford leaving Paris to fight the King, and then refusing battle, though the Maid rode up to the English palisades, and smote them with her sword, defying the English to come out, if they were men. So the English betook them back to Paris, after certain light skirmishes only. Meanwhile some of his good towns that had been in the hands of the English yielded to the King, or rather to the Maid. Among these the most notable was Compiegne, a city as great as Orleans. Many a time it had been taken and retaken in the wars, but now the burgesses swore that they would rather all die, with their wives and children, than open their gates again to the English. And this oath they kept well, as shall be seen in the end.


Tidings of these parleys, and marches, and surrenders of cities came to us at Tours, the King sending letters to his good towns by messengers. One of these, the very Thomas Scott of whom I have before spoken, a man out of Rankelburn, in Ettrick Forest, brought a letter for me, which was from Randal Rutherford.

"Mess-John Urquhart writes for me, that am no clerk," said Randal, "and, to spare his pains, as he writes for the most of us, I say no more than this: come now, or come never, for the Maid will ride to see Paris in three days, or four, let the King follow or not as he will."

There was no more but a cross marked opposite the name of Randal Rutherford, and the date of place and day, August the nineteenth, at Compiegne.

My face fired, for I felt it, when I had read this, and I made no more ado, but, covenanting with Thomas Scott to be with him when he rode forth at dawn, I went home, put my harness in order, and hired a horse from him that kept the hostelry of the "Hanging Sword," whither also I sent my harness, for that I would sleep there. This was all done in the late evening, secretly, and, after supper, I broke the matter to my master and Elliot. Her face changed to a dead white, and she sat silent, while my master took the word, saying, in our country speech, that "he who will to Cupar, maun to Cupar," and therewith he turned, and walked out and about in the garden.

We were alone, and now was the hardest of my work to do, to comfort Elliot, when, in faith, I sorely needed comfort myself. But honour at once and necessity called me to ride, being now fit to bear harness, and foreseeing no other chance to gain booty, or even, perchance, my spurs. Nor could I endure to be a malingerer. She sat there, very white, her lip quivering, but her eyes brave and steadfast.

I kneeled beside her, and in my hands I took her little hand, that was cold as ice.

"It is for the Maid, and for you, Elliot," I whispered; and she only bent her head on my shoulder, but her cold hand gripped mine firmly.

"She did say that you should come back unharmed of sword," whispered Elliot, looking for what comfort she might. "But, O my dear! you may be taken, and when shall I see you again? Oh! this life is the hardest thing for women, who must sit and tremble and pray at home. Sure no danger of war is so terrible! Ah, must you really go?"

Then she clung so closely about me, that it seemed as if I could never escape out of her arms, and I felt as if my heart must break in twain.

"How could I look men in the face, and how could I ever see the Maid again, if I go not?" I said; and, loosening her grasp, she laid her hands on my shoulders, and so gazed on me steadfastly, as if my picture could be fixed on the tablets of her brain.

"On your chin is coming a little down, at last," she said, smiling faintly, and then gave a sob, and her lips met mine, and our very souls met; but, even then, we heard my master's steps hobbling to the door, and she gave a cry, and fled to her chamber. And this was our leave-taking--brief, but I would not have had it long.

"It is ill work parting, Heaven help us," said my master. "Faith, I remember, as if it were to-day, how I set forth for Verneuil; a long time I was gone, and came back a maimed man. But it is fortune of war! The saints have you in their keeping, my son, and chiefly St. Andrew. Come back soon, and whole, and rich, for, meseems, if I lose one of you, I am to lose both."

Therewith he embraced me, and I set forth to the hostel where I was to lie that night.

Now, see how far lighter is life to men than to women, for, though I left the house with the heaviest heart of any man in Tours, often looking back at the candleshine in my lady's casement, yet, when I reached the "Hanging Sword," I found Thomas Scott sitting at his wine, and my heart and courage revived within me. He lacked nothing but one to listen, and soon was telling tales of the war, and of the road, and of how this one had taken a rich prisoner, and that one had got an arrow in his thigh, and of what chances there were to win Paris by an onslaught.

"For in no other can we take it," said he, "save, indeed, by miracle. For they are richly provisioned, and our hope is that, if we can make a breach, there may be a stir of the common folk, who are well weary of the English and the Burgundians."

Now, with his talk of adventures, and with high hopes, I was so heartened up, that, to my shame, my grief fell from me, and I went to my bed to dream of trenches and escalades, glory and gain. But Elliot, I fear me, passed a weary night, and a sorry, whereas I had scarce laid my head on my pillow, as it seemed, when I heard Thomas shouting to the grooms, and clatter of our horses' hoofs in the courtyard. So I leaped up, though it was scarce daylight, and we rode northwards before the full coming of the dawn.

Here I must needs write of a shameful thing, which I knew not then, or I would have ridden with a heavier heart, but I was told concerning the matter many years after, by Messire Enguerrand de Monstrelet, a very learned knight, and deep in the counsels of the Duke of Burgundy.

"You were all sold," he said to me, at Dijon, in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and forty-seven--"you were all sold when you marched against Paris town. For the Maid, with D'Alencon, rode from Compiegne towards Paris, on the twenty-third of August, if I remember well"; and here he turned about certain written parchments that lay by him. "Yea, on the twenty-third she left Compiegne, but on the twenty-eighth of that month the Archbishop of Reims entered the town, and there he met the ambassadors of the Good Duke of Burgundy. There he and they made a compact between them, binding your King and the Duke, that their truce should last till Noel, but that the duke might use his men in the defence of Paris against all that might make onfall. Now, the Archbishop and the King knew well that the Maid was, in that hour, marching on Paris. To what purpose make a truce, and leave out of the peace the very point where war should be? Manifestly the French King never meant to put forth the strength of his army in helping the Maid. There was to be truce between France and Burgundy, but none between England and the Maid."

So Messire Enguerrand told me, a learned knight and a grave, and thus was the counsel of the saints defeated by the very King whom they sought to aid. But of this shameful treaty we men-at-arms knew nothing, and so hazarded our lives against loaded dice.


We rode northwards, first through lands that I had travelled in before to Orleans, and so into a country then strange to me, passing by way of Lagny, with intent to go to Senlis, where we deemed the King lay. The whole region being near Paris, and close under the English power, was rich and peaceful of aspect, the corn being already reaped, and standing in sheaves about the fields, whether to feed Englishmen or Frenchmen, none could tell. For the land was in a kind of hush, in expectancy and fear, no man knowing how things should fall out at Paris. Natheless the Prior of Lagny, within that very week wherein we came, had gone to St. Denis, and yielded his good town into the hands of the Duc d'Alencon for the King. And the fair Duke had sent thither Messire Ambrose de Lore, a very good knight, with Messire Jehan Foucault, and many men-at-arms.

To Messire Ambrose we were brought, that we might give and take his news. I remember well that I dropped out of the saddle at the door of his lodgings, and could scarce stand on my legs, so weary was I with the long and swift riding. Never had I ridden so far, and so fast, fresh horses standing saddled and bridled for Thomas Scott and me at every stage, but the beast which I had hired I sent back from the first stage to mine host of the "Hanging Sword." Not without labour I climbed the stairs to the chamber of Messire Ambrose, who bade us sit down, and called for wine to be given us, whereof Thomas Scott drank well, but I dared take none, lest my legs should wholly refuse their office.

When Thomas had told how all the country lay at the King's peace, and how our purpose was to ride to the King at Senlis, the knight bade us rather make what haste we might to St. Denis. "For there, by to-morrow or next day, the King is like to be, and the assault will be delivered on Paris, come of it what will."

With this he bade us good speed, but, to guess from his countenance, was in no high hopes. And, at supper, whereto we had the company of certain of his men-at-arms, I could well perceive that they were not in the best heart. For now we heard how the Maid, being sorrowful for the long delays, had bidden the Duc d'Alencon ride forth with her from Compiegne "to see Paris closer than yet she had seen it." The Duc d'Alencon, who in late days has so strangely forgotten the loyalty of his youth, was then fain to march with her, for they two were the closest friends that might be. Therefore they had passed by way of Senlis, where they were joined by some force of men-at- arms, and so, on the third day's march, they came to St. Denis, where they were now lying. Here it is that the kings of France have been buried for these eight hundred years, in the great Abbey.

"Nom Dieu!" said one of those who spoke with us. "You might deem that our King is nowise pressed to see the place where his forefathers lie. For D'Alencon is riding, now and again, to Senlis, to rouse the King, and make him march to St. Denis, with the army, that the assault may be given. But if they were bidding him to his own funeral, instead of to a gentle passage of arms, he could not make more excuses. There are skirmishes under Paris walls, and at the gates, day by day, and the Maid rides here and there, considering of the best place for the onslaught. But the King tarries, and without him and the army they can venture on no great valiance. Nevertheless, come he must, if they bring him bound in a cart. Wherefore, if you want your part in what is toward, you do well to make no long tarrying here."

I was of the same mind, and as the King was shortly to be looked for at St. Denis, we rode thither early next morning, with what speed we might. On our left, like a cloud, was the smoke of Paris, making me understand what a great city it was, much greater than Orleans. Before us, far away, were the tall towers of the chapel of St. Denis, to be our guide! We heard, also, the noise of ordnance being fired, and therefore made the greater haste, and we so rode that, about six hours after noon, on the Eve of the Nativity of our Blessed Lady, we reached the gates of the town. Here we found great press of folk, men coming and going, some carrying the wounded, for there had been a skirmish that day, at one of the Paris gates, whence came the sound of cannon and culverins, and we had won little advantage.

At the gates of St. Denis we asked where the quarters of the Scots men-at-arms might be, and were told in the chapel, whither we needed no guide. But, as we went up the street, we saw women leaning forth from the windows, laughing with the men-at-arms, and beckoning to them, and by the tavern doors many were sitting drinking, with girls beside them, and others were playing dice, and many an oath we heard, and foul words, as is customary in a camp. Verily I saw well that this was not the army of men clean confessed and of holy life who had followed the Maid from Blois to Orleans. In place of priests, here were harlots, and, for hymns, ribald songs, for men had flocked in from every quarter; soldiers of the robber companies, Bretons, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, all talking in their own speech, rude, foul, and disorderly. So we took our way, as best we knight, through the press, hearing oaths enough if our horses trod over near any man, and seeing daggers drawn.

It was a pleasure to come out on the great parvise, where the red, white, and green of our Scots were the commonest colours, and where the air was less foul and noisome than in the narrow wynds. High above us the great towers of the abbey shone red and golden in the light of the sinking sun, while beneath all was brown, dusk, and dim with smoke. On these towers I could gladly have looked long, and not wearied. For they are all carven with the holy company of the martyrs and saints, like the Angels whom Jacob saw ascending by the ladder into heaven; even so that blessed company seemed to scale upwards from the filth of the street, and the darkness, and the din, right on towards the golden heights of the City of God. And beneath them lie the sacred bones of all the kings of France, from the days of St. Dagobert even to our own time, all laid there to rest where no man shall disturb them, till the Angels' Trumpet calls, and the Day of Judgment is at hand. Verily it is a solemn place for a Christian man to think on, and I was gazing thereupon, as in a dream, when one plucked my sleeve, and turning, I saw Randal Rutherford, all his teeth showing in a grin.

"Welcome," he cried. "You have made good speed, and the beginning of a fray is better than the end of a feast. And, by St. Boswell, to-morrow we shall have it, lad! The King came in to-day--late is better than never--and to-morrow we go with the Maid, to give these pock-puddings a taste of Scottish steel."

"And the Maid, where is she, Randal?"

"She lodges beyond the Paris gate, at the windmill, wherefrom she drove the English some days agone."

"Wherefore not in the town?" I asked.

"Mayhap because she likes to be near her work, and would that all were of her mind. And mayhap she loves not the sight of the wenches whom she was wont to drive from the camp, above all now that she has broken the Holy Sword of Fierbois, smiting a lass with the flat of the blade."

"I like not the omen," said I.

"Freits follow them that freits fear," said Randal, in our country speech. "And the Maid is none of these. 'Well it was,' said she, 'that I trusted not my life to a blade that breaks so easily,' and, in the next skirmish, she took a Burgundian with her own hands, and now wears his sword, which is a good cut and thrust piece. But come," he cried, "if needs you must see the Maid, you have but to walk to the Paris gate, and so to the windmill hard by. And your horse I will stable with our own, and for quarters, we living Scots men-at-arms fare as well as the dead kings of France, for to-night we lie in the chapel."

I dismounted, and he gave me an embrace, and, holding me at arms'- length, laughed -

"You never were a tall man, Norman, but you look sound, and whole, and tough for your inches, like a Highlandman's dirk. Now be off on your errand, and when it is done, look for me yonder at the sign of 'The Crane,'" pointing across the parvise to a tavern, "for I keep a word to tell in your lug that few wot of, and that it will joy you to hear. To-morrow, lad, we go in foremost."

And so, smiling, he took my horse and went his way, whistling, "Hey, tuttie, tattie!"

Verily his was the gladdest face I had seen, and his words put some heart into me, whereas, of the rest save our own Scots, I liked neither what I saw, nor what I heard.

I had but to walk down the street, through elbowing throngs of grooms, pages, men-at-arms, and archers, till I found the Paris Gate, whence the windmill was plain to behold. It was such an old place as we see in Northern France, plain, strong, with red walls which the yellow mosses stain, and with high grey roofs. The Maid's banner, with the Holy Dove, and the Sacred Name, drooped above the gateway, and beside the door, on the mounting-stone, sat the boy, Louis des Coutes, her page. He was a lad of fifteen years, merry enough of his nature, and always went gaily clad, and wearing his yellow hair long. But now he sat thoughtful on the mounting-stone, cutting at a bit of wood with his dagger.

"So you have come to take your part," he said, when we had saluted each the other. "Faith, I hope you bring good luck with you, and more joy to my mistress, for we need all that you can bring."

"Why, what ails all of you?" I asked. "I have seen never a hopeful face, save that of one of my own countrymen. You are not afraid of a crack on your curly pate, are you?"

"Curly or not, my head knows better than to knock itself against Paris walls. They are thick, and high, and the windows of every house on the wall are piled with stones, to drop upon us. And I know not well why, but things go ill with us. I never saw Her," and he nodded towards the open gateway, "so out of comfort. When there is fighting toward, she is like herself, and she is the first to rise and the last to lie down. But, in all our waiting here, she has passed many an hour praying in the chapel, where the dead kings lie, yet her face is not glad when she comes forth. It was wont to shine strangely, when she had been praying, at the chapel in Couldray, while we were at Chinon. But now it is otherwise. Moreover, we saw Paris very close to-day, and there were over many red crosses of St. George upon the walls. And to-morrow is the Feast of the Blessed Virgin, no day for bloodshed."

"Faint heart!" said I (and, indeed, after the assault on Paris, Louis des Coutes went back, and rode no more with the maid). "The better the day, the better the deed! May I go within?"

"I will go with you," he said, "for she said that you would come, and bade me bring you to her."

We entered the gateway together, and before us lay the square of the farm, strewn with litter, and from within the byre we heard the milk ring in the pails, for the women were milking the cows. And there we both stood astonished, for we saw the Maid as never yet I had seen her. She was bareheaded, but wore the rest of her harness, holding in her hand a measure of corn. All the fowls of the air seemed to be about her, expecting their meat. But she was not throwing the grain among them, for she stood as still as a graven image, and, wonderful to tell, a dove was perched on her shoulder, and a mavis was nestling in her breast, while many birds flew round her, chiefly doves with burnished plumage, flitting as it were lovingly, and softly brushing her now and again with their wings. Many a time had I heard it said that, while she was yet a child, the wild birds would come and nestle in the bosom of the Maid, but I had never believed the tale. Yet now I saw this thing with mine own eyes, a fair sight and a marvellous, so beautiful she looked, with head unhelmeted, and the wild fowl and tame flitting about her and above her, the doves crooning sweetly in their soft voices. Then her lips moved, and she spoke -

"Tres doulx Dieu, en l'onneur de vostre saincte passion, je vous requier, se vous me aimes, que vous me revelez ce que je doy faire demain pour vostre gloire!"

So she fell silent again, and to me it seemed that I must not any longer look upon that holy mystery, so, crossing myself, I laid my hand on the shoulder of the page, and we went silently from the place.

"Have you ever seen it in this manner?" I whispered, when we were again without the farmyard.

"Never," said he, trembling, "though once I saw a stranger thing."

"And what may that have been?"

"Nay, I spoke of it to her, and she made me swear that I never would reveal it to living soul, save in confession. But she is not as other women."

What he had in his mind I know not, but I bade him good even, and went back into the town, where lights were beginning to show in the casements. In the space within the gates were many carts gathered, full of faggots wherewith to choke up the fosse under Paris, and tables to throw above the faggots, and so cross over to the assault.


Entering the tavern of "The Crane," I found the doorways crowded with archers of our Guard, among whom was Randal Rutherford.

When I had come, they walked into a chamber on the ground floor, calling for wine, and bidding certain French burgesses go forth, who needed no second telling. The door was shut, two sentinels of ours were posted outside, and then Randal very carefully sounded all the panels of the room, looking heedfully lest there should be any hole whereby what passed among us might be heard in another part of the house, but he found nothing of the kind.

The room being full, some sitting and some standing, as we could, Randal bade Father Urquhart, our chaplain, tell us to what end we had been called together.

The good father thereupon stood up, and spoke in a low voice, but so that all could hear, for we were all hushed to listen.

"There is," he said, "within Paris, a certain Carmelite, a Frenchman, and a friend of Brother Richard, the Preacher, whom, as you know, the English drove from the town."

"I saw him at Troyes," said one, "where he kneeled before the Maid, and they seemed very loving."

"That is the man, that is Brother Richard. Now, as I was busy tending the wounded, in the skirmish three days agone, this Carmelite was about the same duty for those of his party. He put into my hand a slip of paper, wherein Brother Richard commended him to any Scot or Frenchman of the King's party, as an honest man, and a friend of the King's. When I had read this, the Carmelite spoke with me in Latin, and in a low voice. His matter was this: In Paris, he said, there is a strong party of Armagnacs, who have, as we all know, a long score to settle with them of Burgundy. They are of the common folk and labourers, but among them are many rich burgesses. They have banded themselves together by an oath to take our part, within the town, if once we win a gate. Here is a cedule signed by them with their names or marks, and this he gave me as a proof of good faith."

Here he handed a long slip of parchment, all covered with writing, to Randal, and it went round among us, but few there were clerks, save myself. I looked on it, and the names, many of them attested by seals with coat armour, were plain to be read.

"Their counsel is to muster in arms secretly, and to convey themselves, one by one, into certain houses hard by the Port St. Denis, where certain of their party dwell. Now, very early to- morrow morning, before dawn, the purpose of the English is to send forth a company of a hundred men-at-arms, who will make a sudden onset on the windmill, where the Maid lies to-night, and so will take her, if they may."

"By St. Bride of Douglas," said one of us, "they will get their kail through the reek, for our guard is to lie in arms about the windmill, and be first in the field to-morrow."

"The craft is, then," Father Urquhart went on, "that we shall destroy this English company with sword or arrow, but with no alarm of culverins or cannon. Meanwhile, some five score of you will put on to-night the red cross of St. George, with plain armour, so that the English shall mistake you for their own men returning from the sally, and some few men in our own colours and coats you will hale with you as prisoners. And, if one of you can but attire himself in some gear of the Maid's, with a hucque of hers, scarlet, and dight with the Lilies of France, the English gate-wards will open to you all the more eagerly."

"By the bones of St. Boswell!" cried Randal in his loud voice, but the good Father put a hand on his mouth.

"Quiet, man!" he said.

"By the blessed bones of St. Boswell," Randal said again, as near a whisper as he could attain to, "the lady of the linen-basket shall come as the Maid. We have no man so maidenly."

They all shouted, laughing, and beating the tables with hands and tankards.

"Silence!" cried Robin Lindsay.

"Nay, the louder we laugh, the less will any suspect what is forward," said Randal Rutherford.

"Norman, will you play this part in the mumming?"

I was ashamed to say no, though I liked it not over well, and I nodded with my head.

"How maidenly he blushes!" cried one, and there was another clamour, till the walls rang.

"So be it then," says Father Urquhart, "and now you know all. The honest Armagnacs will rise so soon as you are well within the gate. They command both sides of the street that leads to the Port St. Denis, and faith, if the English want to take it, when a hundred Scots are within, they will have to sally forth by another gate, and come from the outside. And you are to run up the banner of Scotland over the Port, when once you hold it, so the French attack will be thereby."

"We played the same game before Verneuil fight, and won it," said one; "will the English have forgotten the trick?"

"By St. Bride, when once they see us haling the Maid along, they will forget old stratagems of war. This is a new device! Oh to see their faces when we cry 'St. Andrew,' and set on!"

"I am not so old as you all in the wars," I began.

"No, Mademoiselle la Lavandiere, but you are of the right spirit, with your wench's face."

"But," I said, "how if the English that are to attack the windmill in the first grey of the morning come not to hand-strokes, or take to their heels when they find us awake, and win back to Paris before us? Our craft, methinks, is to hold them in an ambush, but what if we catch them not? Let but one runaway be swift of foot, and we are undone."

"There is this to be said," quoth Father Urquhart, "that the English company is to sally forth by the Port St. Denis, and it is the Port St. Denis that our Armagnacs will be guarding. Now I speak as a man of peace, for that is my calling. But how would it be if your hundred men and Norman set forth in the dark, and lay hid not very far from the St. Denis Gate? Then some while after the lighting of the bale-fires from the windmill, to be lit when the English set on, make straight for the gate, and cry, "St. George for England!"

"If you see not the bale-fires ere daylight, you will come back with what speed you may; but if you do see them, then--"

"Father, you have not lived long on the Highland line for nothing," quoth Robin Lindsay.

"A very proper stratagem indeed," I said, "but now, gentlemen, there is one little matter; how will Sir Hugh Kennedy take this device of ours? If we try it and fail, without his privity, we had better never return, but die under Paris wall. And, even if we hold the gate, and Paris town is taken, faith I would rather affront the fire of John the Lorrainer than the face of Sir Hugh."

No man spoke, there were not two minds on this matter, so, after some chaffer of words, it was agreed to send Father Urquhart with Randal to show the whole scheme to Sir Hugh, while the rest of us should await their coming back with an answer. In no long time they were with us, the father very red and shame-faced.

"He gave the good father the rough side of his tongue," quoth Randal, "for speaking first to me, and not to him. Happily we were over cunning to say aught of our gathering here. But when he had let his bile flow, he swore, and said that he could spare a hundred dyvour loons of his command, on the cast of the dice, and, now silence all! not a word or a cry," here he held up his hand, "we are to take 'fortune of war'!"

Every man grinned gladly on his neighbour, in dead stillness.

"Now," said Randal, "slip out by threes and fours, quietly, and to quarters; but you, Norman, wait with me."


"Norman, my lad, all our fortunes are made," said Randal to me when we were left alone. "There will be gilt spurs and gold for every one of us, and the pick of the plunder."

"I like it not," I answered; whereon he caught me rudely by both shoulders, looking close into my face, so that the fume of the wine he had been drinking reached my nostrils.

"Is a Leslie turning recreant?" he asked in a low voice. "A pretty tale to tell in the kingdom of Fife!"

I stood still, my heart very hot with anger, and said no word, while his grip closed on me.

"Leave hold," I cried at last, and I swore an oath, may the Saints forgive me,--"I will not go!"

He loosed his grasp on me, and struck one hand hard into the other.

"That I should see this, and have to tell it!" he said, and stepping to the table, he drank like one thirsty, and then fell to pacing the chamber. He seemed to be thinking slowly, as he wiped and plucked at his beard.

"What is it that ails you?" he asked. "Look you, this onfall and stratagem of war may not miscarry. Perdition take the fool, it is safe!"

"Have I been seeking safety since you knew me?" I asked.

"Verily no, and therefore I wonder at you the more; but you have been long sick, and men's minds are changeful. Consider the thing, nom Dieu! If there be no two lights shown from the mill, we step back silently, and all is as it was; the English have thought worse of their night onfall, or the Carmelite's message was ruse de guerre. But if we see the two lights, then the hundred English are attempting the taking of the mill; the St. Denis Gate is open for their return, and we are looked for by our Armagnacs within Paris. We risk but a short tussle with some drowsy pock-puddings, and then the town is ours. The Gate is as strong to hold against an enemy from within as from without. Why, man, run to Louis de Coutes, and beg a cast suit of the Maid's; she has plenty, for she is a woman in this, that dearly she loves rich attire."

"Randal," I said, "I will go with you, and the gladdest lad in France to be going, but I will go in my own proper guise as a man- at-arms. To wear the raiment of the Blessed Maid, a man and a sinner like me, I will in nowise consent; it is neither seemly nor honourable. Take your own way, put me under arrest if you will, and spoil my fortunes, and make me a man disgraced, but I will not wear her holy raiment. It is not the deed of a gentleman, or of a Christian."

He plucked at his beard. "I am partly with you," he said. "And yet it were a great bourde to play off on the English, and most like to take them and to be told of in ballad and chronicle, like one of Wallace's onfalls. For, seeing the Pucelle, as they will deem, in our hands, they will think all safe, and welcome us open armed. O Norman, can we do nothing? Stop, will you wear another woman's short kirtle over your cuisses and taslet? She shall be no saint, I warrant you, but, for a sinner, a bonny lass and a merry. As a gentleman I deem this fair stratagem of war. If I were your own brother,--the Saints have his soul in their keeping,--I would still be of this counsel. Will you, my lad?"

He looked so sad, and yet withal so comical, that I held out my hand to him, laughing.

"Disguise me as you will," I said, "I have gone mumming as Maid Marion before now, in the Robin Hood play, at St. Andrews"; and as I spoke, I saw the tall thatched roofs of South Street, and the Priory Gates open, the budding elms above the garden wall of St. Leonard's, and all the May-day revel of a year agone pouring out into the good town.

"You speak like yourself now, bless your beardless face! Come forth," he said, taking a long pull at a tankard,--"that nothing might be wasted,"--and so we went to quarters, and Randal trudged off, soon coming back, laughing, with the red kirtle. Our men had been very busy furbishing up the red cross of St. George on their breasts, and stripping themselves of any sign of our own colours. As for my busking, never had maid such rough tire-women; but by one way or another, the apparel was accommodated, and they all said that, at a little distance of ground, the English would be finely fooled, and must deem that the Maid herself was being led to them captive.

It was now in the small hours of morning, dark, save for the glimmer of stars, here and there in a cloudy sky. Father Urquhart himself went up to the roof of the mill, to say his orisons, having with him certain faggots of pitch-wood, for lighting the beacon-fires if need were; and, as it chanced, braziers to this end stood ready on the roof, as is custom on our own Border keeps.

We Scots, a hundred in all, in English colours, with three or four as prisoners, in our own badges, fared cautiously, and with no word spoken, through dewy woods, or lurking along in dry ditches where best we might, towards the St. Denis Gate of Paris. I had never been on a night surprise or bushment before, and I marvelled how orderly the others kept, as men used to such work, whereas I went stumbling and blindlings. At length, within sight of the twinkling lights of Paris, and a hundred yards or thereby off the common way, we were halted in a little wood, and bidden to lie down; no man was so much as to whisper. Some slept, I know, for I heard their snoring, but for my part, I never was less in love with sleep. When the sky first grew grey, so that we could dimly see shapes of things, we heard a light noise of marching men on the road.

"The English!" whispered he that lay next me. "Hush!" breathed Randal, and so the footsteps went by, none of us daring to stir, for fear of the rustle in the leaves.

The sound soon ceased; belike they had struck off into these very fields wherethrough we had just marched.

"Now, Robin Lindsay, climb into yonder ash-tree, and keep your eyes on the mill and the beacon-fires," said Randal.

Robin scrambled up, not easily, because of his armour, and we waited, as it seemed, for an endless time.

"What is that sound," whispered one, "so heavy and so hoarse?"

It was my own heart beating, as if it would burst my side, but I said nought, and even then Robin slid from the tree, as lightly as he might. He held up two fingers, without a word, for a sign that the beacons were lighted, and nodded.

"Down all," whispered Randal.

"Give them time, give them time."

So there we lay, as we must, but that was the hardest part of the waiting, and no sound but of the fowls and wild things arousing, and the cry of sentinels from Paris walls, came to our ears.

At length Randal said, "Up all, and onwards!"

We arose, loosened our swords in their sheaths, and so crossed to the road. We could now see Paris plainly, and were close by the farm of the Mathurins, while beyond was the level land they call "Les Porcherons," with slopes above it, and many trees.

"Now, Norman," said Randal, "when we come within clear sight of the gate, two of us shall seize you by the arms as prisoner; then we all cry 'St. George!' and set off running towards Paris. The quicker, the less time for discovery."

So, having marched orderly and speedily, while the banks of the roadway hid us, we set off to run, Randal and Robin gripping me when we were full in sight of the moat, of the drawbridge (which was down), and the gate.

Then our men all cried, "St. George for England! The witch is taken!" And so running disorderly and fast we made for the Port, while English men-at-arms might be plainly seen and heard, gazing, waving their hands, and shouting from the battlements of the two gate-towers. Down the road we ran, past certain small houses of peasants, and past a gibbet with a marauder hanging from it, just over the dry ditch.

Our feet, we three leading, with some twenty in a clump hard behind us, rang loud on the drawbridge over the dry fosse. The bridge planks quivered strangely; we were now within the gateway, when down fell the portcullis behind us, the drawbridge, creaking, flew up, a crowd of angry faces and red crosses were pressing on us, and a blow fell on my salade, making me reel. I was held in strong arms, swords shone out above me, I stumbled on a body--it was Robin Lindsay's--I heard Randal give a curse as his blade broke on a helmet, and cry, "I yield me, rescue or no rescue." Then burst forth a blast of shouts, and words of command and yells, and English curses. Cannon-shot roared overhead, and my mouth was full of sulphur smoke and dust. They were firing on those of our men who had not set foot on the drawbridge when it flew up. Soon the portcullis rose again, and the bridge fell, to let in a band of English archers, through whom our Scots were cutting their way back towards St. Denis.

Of all this I got glimpses, rather than clear sight, as the throng within the gateway reeled and shifted, crushing me sorely. Presently the English from without trooped in, laughing and cursing, welcomed by their fellows, and every man of them prying into my face, and gibing. It had been a settled plan: we were betrayed, it was over clear, and now a harsh voice behind making me turn, I saw the wolf's face of Father Thomas under his hood, and his yellow fangs.

"Ha! fair clerk, they that be no clerks themselves may yet hire clerks to work for them. How like you my brother, the Carmelite?"

Then I knew too well how this stratagem had all been laid by that devil, and my heart turned to water within me.

Randal was led away, but round me the crowd gathered in the open space, for I was haled into the greater gate tower beyond the wet fosse, and from all quarters ran soldiers, and men, women, and children of the town to mock me.

"Behold her," cried Father Thomas, climbing on a mounting-stone, as one who would preach to the people, while the soldiers that held me laughed.

"Behold this wonderful wonder of all wonders, the miraculous Maid of the Armagnacs! She boasted that, by help of the Saints, she would be the first within the city, and lo! she is the first, but she has come without her army. She is every way a miracle, mark you, for she hath a down on her chin, such as no common maidens wear; and if she would but speak a few words of counsel, methinks her tongue would sound strangely Scottish for a Lorrainer."

"Speak, speak!" shouted the throng.

"Dogs," I cried, in French, "dogs and cowards! You shall see the Maid closer before nightfall, and fly from her as you have fled before."

"Said I not so?" asked Brother Thomas.

"A miracle, a miracle, the Maid hath a Scots tongue in her head."

Therewith stones began to fall, but the father, holding up his hand, bade the multitude refrain.

"Harm her not, good brethren, for to-morrow this Maid shall be tried by the ordeal of fire if that be the will of our governors. Then shall we see if she can work miracles or not," and so he went on gibing, while they grinned horribly upon me. Never saw I so many vile faces of the basest people come together, from their filthy dens in Paris. But as my eyes ran over them with loathing, I beheld a face I knew; the face of that violer woman who had been in our company before we came to Chinon, and lo! perched on her shoulder, chained with a chain fastened round her wrist, was Elliot's jackanapes! To see the poor beast that my lady loved in such ill company, seemed as if it would break my heart, and my head fell on my breast.

"Ye mark, brethren and sisters, she likes not the name of the ordeal by fire," cried Brother Thomas, whereon I lifted my face again to defy him, and I saw the violer woman bend her brows, and place her finger, as it were by peradventure, on her lips; wherefore I was silent, only gazing on that devil, but then rang out a trumpet-note, blowing the call to arms, and from afar came an answering call, from the quarter of St. Denis.

"Carry him, or her, or whatever the spy is, into the outer gate tower," said a Captain; "put him in fetters and manacles; lock the door and leave him; and then to quarters. And you, friar, hold your gibing tongue; lad or lass, he has borne him bravely."

Six men-at-arms he chose out to do his bidding; and while the gates were cleared of the throng, and trumpets were sounding, and church bells were rung backwards, for an alarm, I was dragged, with many a kick and blow, over the drawbridge, up the stairs of the tower, and so was thrown into a strong room beneath the battlements. There they put me in bonds, gave me of their courtesy a jug of water and a loaf of black bread by me, and then, taking my dagger, my sword, and all that was in my pouch, they left me with curses.

"You shall hear how the onfall goes, belike," they said, "and to- morrow shall be your judgment."

With that the door grated and rang, the key was turned in the lock, and their iron tread sounded on the stone stairs, going upwards. The room was high, narrow, and lit by a barred and stanchioned window, far above my reach, even if I had been unbound. I shame to say it, but I rolled over on my face and wept. This was the end of my hopes and proud heart. That they would burn me, despite their threats I scarce believed, for I had in nowise offended Holy Church, or in matters of the Faith, and only for such heretics, or wicked dealers in art-magic, is lawfully ordained the death by fire. But here was I prisoner, all that I had won at Orleans would do little more than pay my own ransom; from the end of my risk and travail I was now further away than ever.

So I mused, weeping for very rage, but then came a heavy rolling sound overhead, as of moving wheeled pieces of ordnance. Thereon (so near is Hope to us in our despair) I plucked up some heart. Ere nightfall, Paris might be in the hands of the King, and all might be well. The roar and rebound of cannon overhead told me that the fighting had begun, and now I prayed with all my heart, that the Maid, as ever, might again be victorious. So I lay there, listening, and heard the great artillery bellow, and the roar of guns in answer, the shouting of men, and clang of church bells. Now and again the walls of the tower rang with the shock of a cannon- ball, once an arrow flew through the casement and shattered itself on the wall above my head. I scarce know why, but I dragged me to the place where it fell, and, put the arrow-point in my bosom. Smoke of wood and pitch darkened the light; they had come, then, to close quarters. But once more rang the rattle of guns; the whizzing rush of stones, the smiting with axe or sword on wooden barrier and steel harness, the cries of war, "Mont joye St. Denis!" "St. George for England!" and slogans too, I heard, as "Bellenden," "A Home! a Home!" and then I knew the Scots were there, fighting in the front. But alas, how different was the day when first I heard our own battle-cries under Orleans walls! Then I had my life and my sword in my hands, to spend and to strike; but now I lay a lonely prisoner, helpless and all but hopeless; yet even so I clashed my chains and shouted, when I heard the slogan.

Thus with noise and smoke, and trumpets blowing the charge or the recall, and our pipes shrieking the pibroch high above the din, with dust floating and plaster dropping from the walls of my cell till I was wellnigh stifled, the day wore on, nor could I tell, in anywise, how the battle went. The main onslaught, I knew, was not on the gate behind the tower in which I lay, though that tower also was smitten of cannon-balls.

At length, well past mid-day, as I deemed by the light, came a hush, and then a thicker smoke, and taste of burning pitch-wood, and a roar as if all Paris had been blown into mid-air, so that my tower shook, while heavy beams fell crashing to earth.

Again came a hush, and then one voice, clear as a clarion call, even the voice of the Maid, "Tirez en avant, en avant!" How my blood thrilled at the sound of it!

It must be now, I thought, or never, but the guns only roared the louder, the din grew fierce and fiercer, till I heard a mighty roar, the English shouting aloud as one man for joy, for so their manner is. Thrice they shouted, and my heart sank within me. Had they slain the Maid? I knew not, but for torment of soul there is scarce any greater than so to lie, bound and alone, seeing nought, but guessing at what is befalling.

After these shouts it was easy to know that the fighting waned, and was less fierce. The day, moreover, turned to thunder, and waxed lowering and of a stifling heat. Yet my worst fears were ended, for I heard, now and again, the clear voice of the Maid, bidding her men "fight on, for all was theirs." But the voice was weaker now, and other than it had been. So the day darkened, only once and again a shot was fired, and in the dusk the shouts of the English told me over clearly that for to-day our chance and hope were lost. Then the darkness grew deeper, and a star shone through my casement, and feet went up and down upon the stairs, but no man came near me. Below there was some faint cackle of mirth and laughter, and at last the silence fell.

Once more came a swift step on the stairs, as of one stumbling up in haste. The key rattled in the wards, a yellow light shone in, a man-at-arms entered; he held a torch to my face, looked to my bonds, and then gave me a kick, while one cried from below, "Come on, Dickon, your meat is cooling!" So he turned and went out, the door clanging behind him, and the key rattling in the wards.

In pain and fierce wrath I gnawed my black bread, drank some of the water, and at last I bethought me of that which should have been first in the thoughts of a Christian man, and I prayed.

Remembering the story of Michael Hamilton, which I have already told, and other noble and virtuous miracles of Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois, I commanded me to her, that, by God's grace, she would be pleased to release me from bonds and prison. And I promised that, if she would so favour me, I would go on pilgrimage to her chapel of Fierbois. I looked that my chains should now fall from my limbs, but, finding no such matter, and being very weary (for all the last night I had slept none), I fell on slumber and forgot my sorrow.

Belike I had not lain long in that blessed land where trouble seldom comes when I was wakened, as it were, by a tugging at my clothes. I sat up, but the room was dark, save for a faint light in the casement, high overhead, and I thought I had dreamed. Howbeit, as I lay down again, heavy at heart, my clothes were again twitched, and now I remembered what I had heard, but never believed, concerning "lutins" or "brownies," as we call them, which, being spirits invisible, and reckoned to have no part in our salvation, are wont in certain houses to sport with men. Curious rather than affrighted, I sat up once more, and looked around, when I saw two bright spots of light in the dark. Then deeming that, for some reason unknown to me, the prison door had been opened while I slept, and a cat let in, I stretched out my hands towards the lights, thence came a sharp, faint cry, and something soft and furry leaped on to my breast, stroking me with little hands.

It was Elliot's jackanapes, very meagre, as I could feel, and all his ribs standing out, but he made much of me, fondling me after his manner; and indeed, for my lady's sake, I kissed him, wondering much how he came there. Then he put something into my hands, almost as if he had been a Christian, for it was a wise beast and a kind. Even then there shone into my memory the thought of how my lady had prayed for her little friend when he was stolen (which I had thought strange, and scarcely warranted by our Faith), and with that, hope wakened within me. My eyes being now more accustomed to the darkness, I saw that the thing which the jackanapes gave me was a little wallet, for he had been taught to fetch and carry, and never was such a marvel at climbing. But as I was caressing him, I found a string about his neck, to which there seemed to be no end. Now, at length, I comprehended what was toward, and pulling gently at the string, I found, after some time, that it was attached to something heavy, on the outside of the casement. Therefore I set about drawing in string from above, and more string, and more, and then appeared a knot and a splice, and the end of a thick rope. So I drew and drew, till it stopped, and I could see a stout bar across the stanchions of the casement. Thereon I ceased drawing, and opening the little wallet, I found two files, one very fine, the other of sturdier fashion.

Verily then I blessed the violer woman, who at great peril of her own life, and by such witty device as doubtless Madame St. Catherine put into her heart, had sent the jackanapes up from below, and put me in the way of safety. I wasted no time, but began filing, not at the thick circlet on my wrist, but at a link of the chain whereto it was made fast. And such was the temper of the file, that soon I got the stouter weapon into the cut, and snapped the link; and so with the others, working long hours, and often looking fearfully for the first glimmer of dawn. This had not come in, when I was now free of bonds, but there was yet the casement to be scaled. With all my strength I dragged and jerked at the rope, whereby I meant to climb, lest the stanchions should be rusted through, and unable to bear my weight, but they stood the strain bravely. Then I cast off my woman's kirtle, and took from my pouch the arrow-point, and therewith scratched hastily on the plastered wall, in great letters: "Norman Leslie of Pitcullo leaves his malison on the English."

Next I bound the jackanapes within the bosom of my doublet, with a piece of the cord whereto the rope had been knotted, for I could not leave the little beast to die the death of a traitor, and bring suspicion, moreover, on the poor violer woman. Then, commanding myself to the Saints, and especially thanking Madame St. Catherine, I began to climb, hauling myself up by the rope, whereon I had made knots to this end; nor was the climbing more difficult than to scale a branchless beech trunk for a bird's nest, which, like other boys, I had often done. So behold me, at last, with my legs hanging in free air, seated on the sill of the casement. Happily, of the three iron stanchions, though together they bore my weight, one was loose in the lower socket, for lack of lead, and this one I displaced easily enough, and so passed through. Then I put the wooden bar at the rope's end, within the room, behind the two other stanchions, considering that they, by themselves, would bear my weight, but if not, rather choosing to trust my soul to the Saints than my body to the English.

The deep below me was very terrible to look upon, and the casement being above the dry ditch, I had no water to break my fall, if fall I must. Howbeit, I hardened my heart, and turning my face to the wall, holding first the wooden bar, and then shifting my grasp to the rope, I let myself down, clinging to the rope with my legs, and at first not a little helped by the knots I had made to climb to the casement. When I had passed these, methought my hands were on fire; nevertheless, I slid down slowly and with caution, till my feet touched ground.

I was now in the dry ditch, above my head creaked and swung the dead body of the hanged marauder, but he did no whit affray me. I ran, stooping, along the bed of the dry ditch, for many yards, stumbling over the bodies of men slain in yesterday's fight, and then, creeping out, I found a hollow way between two slopes, and thence crawled into a wood, where I lay some little space hidden by the boughs. The smell of trees and grass and the keen air were like wine to me; I cooled my bleeding hands in the deep dew; and presently, in the dawn, I was stealing towards St. Denis, taking such cover of ditches and hedges as we had sought in our unhappy march of yesterday. And I so sped, by favour of the Saints, that I fell in with no marauders; but reaching the windmill right early, at first trumpet-call, I was hailed by our sentinels for the only man that had won in and out of Paris, and had carried off, moreover, a prisoner, the jackanapes. To see me, scarred, with manacles on my wrists and gyves on my ankles, weaponless, with an ape on my shoulder, was such a sight as the Scots Guard had never beheld before, and carrying me to the smith's, they first knocked off my irons, and gave me wine, ere they either asked me for my tale, or told me their own, which was a heartbreak to bear.

For no man could unfold the manner of that which had come to pass, if, at least, there were not strong treason at the root of all. For our part of the onfall, the English had made but a feigned attack on the mill, wherefore the bale-fires were lit, to our undoing. This was the ruse de guerre of the accursed cordelier, Brother Thomas. For the rest, the Maid had led on a band to attack the gate St. Honore, with Gaucourt in her company, a knight that had no great love either of her or of a desperate onslaught. But D'Alencon, whom she loved as a brother, was commanded to take another band, and wait behind a butte or knowe, out of danger of arrow-shot. The Maid had stormed all day at her gate, had taken the boulevard without, and burst open and burned the outer port, and crossed the dry ditch. But when she had led up her men, now few, over the slope and to the edge of the wet fosse, behold no faggots and bundles of wood were brought up, whereby, as is manner of war, to fill up the fosse, and so cross over. As she then stood under the wall, shouting for faggots and scaling-ladders, her standard-bearer was shot to death, and she was sorely wounded by an arbalest bolt. Natheless she lay by the wall, still crying on her men, but nought was ready that should have been, many were slain by shafts and cannon-shot, and in the dusk, she weeping and crying still that the place was theirs to take, D'Alencon carried her off by main force, set her on her horse, and so brought her back to St. Denis.

Now, my mind was, and is to this day, that there was treason here, and a black stain on the chivalry of France, to let a girl go so far, and not to follow her. But of us Scots many were slain, and more wounded, while Robin Lindsay died in Paris gate, and Randal Rutherford lay a prisoner in English hands.


Of our Blessed Lord Himself it is said in the Gospel of St. Matthew, "et non fecit ibi virtutes multas propter incredulitatem illorum." These words I willingly leave in the Roman tongue; for by the wisdom of Holy Church it is deemed that many mysteries should not be published abroad in the vulgar speech, lest the unlearned hear to their own confusion. But if even He, doubtless by the wisdom of His own will, did not many great works "propter incredulitatem," it is the less to be marvelled at that His Saints, through the person of the Blessed Maid, were of no avail where men utterly disbelieved. And that, where infidelity was, even she must labour in vain was shown anon, even on this very day of my escape out of Paris town. For I had scarce taken some food, and washed and armed myself, when the Maid's trumpets sounded, and she herself, armed and on horseback, despite her wound, rode into St. Denis, to devise with the gentle Duc d'Alencon. Together they came forth from the gate, and I, being in their company, heard her cry -

"By my baton, I will never go back till I take that city." {31}

These words Percival de Cagny also heard, a good knight, and maitre d'hotel of the house of Alencon. Thereon arose some dispute, D'Alencon being eager, as indeed he always was, to follow where the Maiden led, and some others holding back.

Now, as they were devising together, some for, some against, for men-at-arms not a few had fallen in the onfall, there came the sound of horses' hoofs, and lo! Messire de Montmorency, who had been of the party of the English, and with them in Paris, rode up, leading a company of fifty or sixty gentlemen of his house, to join the Maid. Thereat was great joy and new courage in all men of goodwill, seeing that, within Paris itself, so many gentlemen deemed ours the better cause and the more hopeful.

Thus there was an end of all dispute, our companies were fairly arrayed, and we were marching to revenge ourselves for the losses of yesterday, when two knights came spurring after us from St. Denis. They were the Duc de Bar, and that unhappy Charles de Bourbon, Comte de Clermont, by whose folly, or illwill, or cowardice, the Scots were betrayed and deserted at the Battle of the Herrings, where my own brother fell, as I have already told. This second time Charles de Bourbon brought evil fortune, for he came on the King's part, straitly forbidding D'Alencon and the Maid to march forward another lance's length. Whereat D'Alencon swore profane, and the Maiden, weeping, rebuked him. So, with heavy hearts, we turned, all the host of us, and went back to quarters, the Maid to pray in the chapel, and the men-at-arms to drink and speak ill of the King.

All this was on the ninth of September, a weary day to all of us, though in the evening word came that we were to march early next morning and attack Paris in another quarter, crossing the river by a bridge of boats which the Duc d'Alencon had let build to that end. After two wakeful nights I was well weary, and early laid me down to sleep, rising at dawn with high hopes. And so through the grey light we marched silently to the place appointed, but bridge there was none; for the King, having heard of the Maid's intent, had caused men to work all night long, destroying that which the gentle Duke had builded. Had the King but heard the shouts and curses of our company when they found nought but the bare piles standing, the grey water flowing, and the boats and planks vanished, he might have taken shame to himself of his lack of faith. Therefore I say it boldly, it was because of men's unbelief that the Maid at Paris wrought no great works, save that she put her body in such hazard of war as never did woman, nay, nor man, since the making of the world.

I have no heart to speak more of this shameful matter, nor of these days of anger and blasphemy. It was said and believed that her voices bade the Maid abide at St. Denis till she should take Paris town, but the King, and Charles de Bourbon, and the Archbishop of Reims refused to hearken to her. On the thirteenth day of September, after dinner, the King, with all his counsellors, rode away from St. Denis, towards Gien on the Loire. The Maiden, for her part, hung up all her harness that she had worn, save the sword of St. Catherine of Fierbois, in front of the altar of Our Lady, and the blessed relics of St. Denis in the chapel. Thereafter she rode, as needs she must, and we of her company with her, to join the King, for so he commanded.

And now was the will of the Maid and of the Duc d'Alencon broken, and broken was all that great army, whereof some were free lances out of many lands, but more were nobles of France with their men, who had served without price or pay, for love of France and of the Maid. Never again were they mustered; nay when, after some weeks passed, the gentle Duc d'Alencon prayed that he might have the Maiden with him, and burst into Normandy, where the English were strongest, by the Marches of Maine, even this grace was refused to him, by the malengin and ill-will of La Tremouille and the Archbishop of Reims. And these two fair friends met never more again, neither at fray nor feast. May she, among the Saints, so work by her prayers that the late sin and treason of the gentle Duke may be washed out and made clean, for while she lived there was no man more dear to her, nor any that followed her more stoutly in every onfall.

Now concerning the times that came after this shameful treason at Paris, I have no joy to write. The King's counsellors, as their manner was, ever hankered after a peace with Burgundy, and they stretched the false truce that was to have ended at Christmas to Easter Day, "pacem clamantes quo non fuit pax." For there was no truce with the English, who took St. Denis again, and made booty of the arms which the Maid had dedicated to Our Lady. On our part La Hire and Xaintrailles plundered, for their own hand, the lands of the Duke of Burgundy, and indeed on every side there was no fair fighting, such as the Maid loved, but a war of wastry, the peasants pillaged, and the poor held to ransom. For her part, she spent her days in prayer for the poor and the oppressed, whom she had come to deliver, and who now were in worse case than before, the English harrying certain of the good towns that had yielded to King Charles.

Now her voices ever bade the Maid go back to the Isle of France, and assail Paris, where lay no English garrison, and the Armagnacs were stirring as much as they might. But Paris, being at this time under the government of the Duke of Burgundy, was forsooth within the truce. The King's counsellors, therefore, setting their wisdom against that of the Saints, bade the Maid go against the towns of St. Pierre le Moustier and La Charite, then held by the English on the Loire. This was in November, when days were short, and the weather bitter cold. The Council was held at Mehun sur Yevre, and forthwith the Maid, glad to be doing, rode to Bourges, where she mustered her men, and so marched to St. Pierre le Moustier, a small town, but a strong, with fosses, towers, and high walls.

There we lay some two days or three, plying the town with our artillery, and freezing in the winter nights. At length, having made somewhat of a breach, the Maid gave the word for the assault, and herself leading, with her banner in hand, we went at it with what force we might. But twice and thrice we were driven back from the fosse, and to be plain, our men were fled under cover, and only the Maid stood within arrow-shot of the wall, with a few of her household, of whom I was one, for I could not go back while she held her ground. The arrows and bolts from the town rained and whistled about us, and in faith I wished myself other where. Yet she stood, waving her banner, and crying, "Tirez en avant, ils sont e nous," as was her way in every onfall. Seeing her thus in jeopardy, her maitre d'hotel, D'Aulon, though himself wounded in the heel so that he might not set foot to ground, mounted a horse, and riding up, asked her "why she abode there alone, and did not give ground like the others?"

At this the Maid lifted her helmet from her head, and so, uncovered, her face like marble for whiteness, and her eyes shining like steel, made answer -

"I am not alone; with me there are of mine fifty thousand! Hence I will not give back one step till I have taken the town."

Then I wotted well that, sinful man as I am, I was in the company of the hosts of Heaven, though I saw them not. Great heart this knowledge gave me and others, and the Maid crying, in a loud voice, "Aux fagots, tout le monde!" the very runaways heard her and came back with planks and faggots, and so, filling up the fosse and passing over, we ran into the breach, smiting and slaying, and the town was taken.

For my own part, I was so favoured that two knights yielded them my prisoners (I being the only man of gentle birth among those who beset them in a narrow wynd), and with their ransoms I deemed myself wealthy enough, as well I might. So now I could look to win my heart's desire, if no ill fortune befell. But little good fortune came in our way. From La Charite, which was beset in the last days of November, we had perforce to give back, for the King sent us no munitions of war, and for lack of more powder and ball we might not make any breach in the walls of that town. And so, by reason of the hard winter, and the slackness of the King, and the false truce, we fought no more, at that season, but went, trailing after the Court, from castle to castle.

Many feasts were held, and much honour was done to the Maid, as by gifts of coat armour, and the ennobling of all her kith and kin, but these things she regarded not, nor did she ever bear on her shield the sword supporting the crown, between the lilies of France.

If these were ill days for the Maid, I shame to confess that they were merry days with me. There are worse places than a king's court, when a man is young, and light of heart, full of hope, and with money in his purse. I looked that we should take the field again in the spring; and having gained some gold, and even some good words, as one not backward where sword-strokes were going, I know not what dreams I had of high renown, ay, and the Constable's staff to end withal. For many a poor Scot has come to great place in France and Germany, who began with no better fortune than a mind to put his body in peril. Moreover, the winning of Elliot herself for my wife seemed now a thing almost within my reach. Therefore, as I say, I kept a merry Yule at Jargeau, going bravely clad, and dancing all night long with the merriest. Only the wan face of the Maid (that in time of war had been so gallant and glad) came between me and my pleasures. Not that she was wilfully and wantonly sad, yet now and again we could mark in her face the great and loving pity that possessed her for France. Now I would be half angered with her, but again far more wroth with myself, who could thus lightly think of that passion of hers. But when she might she was ever at her prayers, or in company of children, or seeking out such as were poor and needy, to whom she was abundantly lavish of her gifts, so that, wheresoever the Court went, the people blessed her.

In these months I had tidings of Elliot now and again; and as occasion served I wrote to her, with messages of my love, and with a gift, as of a ring or a jewel. But concerning the manner of my escape from Paris I had told Elliot nothing for this cause. My desire was, when soonest I had an occasion, to surprise her with the gift of her jackanapes anew, knowing well that nothing could make her greater joy, save my own coming, or a victory of the Maid. The little creature had been my comrade wheresoever we went, as at Sully, Gien, and Bourges, only I took him not to the leaguers of St. Pierre le Moustier and La Charite, but left him with a fair lady of the Court. He had waxed fat again, for as meagre as he was when he came to me in prison, and he was full of new tricks, warming himself at the great fire in hall, like a man.

Now in the middle of the month of January, in the year of Grace fourteen hundred and thirty, the Maid told us of her household that she would journey to Orleans, to abide for some space with certain ladies of her friends, namely, Madame de St. Mesmin and Madame de Mouchy, who loved her dearly. To the most of us she gave holiday, to see our own friends. The Maid knew surely that in France my friends were few, and well she guessed whither I was bound. Therefore she sent for me, and bidding me carry her love to Elliot, she put into my hands a gift to her friend. It was a ring of silver-gilt, fashioned like that which her own father and mother had given her. At this ring she had a custom of looking often, so that the English conceived it to be an unholy talisman, though it bore the Name that is above all names. That ring I now wear in my bosom. So, saying farewell, with many kind words on her part, I rode towards Tours, where Elliot and her father as then dwelt, in that same house where I had been with them to be healed of my malady, after the leaguer of Orleans. To Tours I rode, telling them not of my coming, and carrying the jackanapes well wrapped up in furs of the best. The weather was frosty, and folk were sliding on the ice of the flooded fields near Tours when I came within sight of the great Minster. The roads rang hard; on the smooth ice the low sun was making paths of gold, and I sang as I rode. Putting up my horse at the sign of the "Hanging Sword," I took the ape under my great furred surcoat, and stole like a thief through the alleys, towards my master's house. The night was falling, and all the casement of the great chamber was glowing with the colour and light of a leaping fire within. There came a sound of music too, as one touched the virginals to a tune of my own country. My heart was beating for joy, as it had beaten in the bushment outside Paris town.

I opened the outer door secretly, for I knew the trick of it, and I saw from the thin thread of light on the wall of the passage that the chamber door was a little ajar. The jackanapes was now fretting and struggling within my surcoat, so, opening the coat, I put him down by the chamber door. He gave a little scratch, as was his custom, for he was a very mannerly little beast, and the sound of the virginals ceased. Then, pushing the door with his little hands, he ran in, with a kind of cry of joy.

"In Our Lady's name, what is this?" came the voice of Elliot. "My dear, dear little friend, what make you here?"

Then I could withhold myself no longer, but entered, and my lady ran to me, the jackanapes clinging about her neck with his arms. But mine were round her too, and what words we said, and what cheer we made each the other, I may not write, commending me to all true lovers, whose hearts shall tell them that whereof I am silent. Much was I rebuked for that I did not write to warn them of my coming, which was yet the more joyful that they were not warned. And then the good woman, Elliot's kinswoman, must be called (though in sooth not at the very first), and then a great fire must be lit in my old chamber; and next my master came in, from a tavern where he had been devising with some Scots of his friends; and all the while the jackanapes kept such a merry coil, and played so many of his tricks, and got so many kisses from his mistress, that it was marvel. But of all that had befallen me in the wars, and of how the Maiden did (concerning which Elliot had questioned me first of all), I would tell them little till supper was brought.

And then, indeed, out came all my tale, and they heard of what had been my fortune in Paris, and how the jackanapes had delivered me from durance, whereon never, surely, was any beast of his kind so caressed since our father Adam gave all the creatures their names. But as touching the Maid, I told how she had borne herself at St. Pierre le Moustier, and of all the honours that had been granted to her, and I bade them be of good heart and hope, for that her banner would be on the wind in spring, after Easter Day. All the good news that might be truly told I did tell, as how La Hire had taken Louviers town, and harried the English up to the very gates of Rouen. And I gave to Elliot the ring which the Maid had sent to her, fashioned like that she herself wore, but of silver gilt, whereas the Maid's was of base metal, and it bore the Holy Names MARI. IHS. Thereon Elliot kissed it humbly, and avowed herself to be, that night, the gladdest damsel in all France.

"For I have gotten you, mon ami, and my little friend that I had lost, beyond all hope, and I have a kind word and a token from Her, la fille de Dieu," whereat her speech faltered, and her eyes swam in tears. But some trick of her jackanapes brought back her mirth, and so the hours passed, as happy as any in my life. Truly the memory of these things tells me how glad this world might be, wherein God has placed us, were it not troubled by the inordinate desires of men. In my master's house of Tours, then, my days of holiday went merrily by, save for one matter, and that of the utmost moment. For my master would in no manner permit me to wed his daughter while this war endured; and Elliot herself, blushing like any rose, told me that, while the Maid had need of me, with the Maid I must abide at my duty, and that she herself had no mind for happiness while her friend was yet labouring in the cause of France. Howbeit, I delivered me of my vow, by pilgrimage to the chapel in Fierbois. {32}


Eastertide came at last, and that early, Easter Day falling on March the twenty-seventh. Our King kept his Paques at Sully with great festival, but his deadly foe, the Duke of Burgundy, lay at the town of Peronne. So soon as Eastertide was over, the Duke drew all the force he had to Montdidier, a town which lies some eight leagues to the north and west of Compiegne. Hence he so wrought that he made a pact with the captain of the French in Gournay, a town some four leagues north and west of Compiegne, whereby the garrison there promised to lie idle, and make no onslaught against them of Burgundy, unless the King brought them a rescue. Therefore the Duke went back to Noyon on the Oise, some eight leagues north and east of Compiegne, while his captain, Jean de Luxembourg, led half his army west, towards Beauvais. There he took the castle of Provenlieu, an old castle, and ruinous, that the English had repaired and held. And there he hanged certain English, who were used to pillage all the country about Montdidier. Thence Jean de Luxembourg came back to the Duke, at Noyon, and took and razed Choisy, which was held for France.

Now all these marchings, and takings of towns, were designed to one end, namely, that the Duke might have free passage over the river Oise, so that his men and his victual might safely come and go from the east. For, manifestly, it was his purpose to besiege and take the good town of Compiegne, which lies on the river Oise some fifteen leagues north and east of Paris. This town had come in, and yielded to the Maid, some weeks before the onfall of Paris, and it was especially dear to her, for the people had sworn that they would all die, and see their wives and children dead, rather than yield to England or Burgundy. Moreover, whosoever held Compiegne was like, in no long time, to be master of Paris. But as now Guillaume de Flavy commanded in Compiegne for the King, a very good knight and skilled captain, but a man who robbed and ravished wheresoever he had power. His brother, Louis de Flavy, also joined him after Choisy fell, as I have told.

All this I have written that men may clearly know how the Maid came by her end. For, so soon as Eastertide was over, and the truce ended, she made no tarrying, nor even said farewell to the King, who might have held her back, but drew out all her company, and rode northward, whither she knew that battle was to be. Her mind was to take some strong place on the Oise, as Pont l'Eveque, near Noyon, that she might cut off them of Burgundy from all the country eastward of Oise, and so put them out of the power to besiege Compiegne, and might destroy all their host at Montdidier and in the Beauvais country. For the Maid was not only the first of captains in leading a desperate onslaught, but also (by miracle, for otherwise it might not be) she best knew how to devise deep schemes and subtle stratagem of war.

Setting forth, therefore, early in April, on the fifteenth day of the month she came to Melun, a town some seven leagues south of Paris, that had lately yielded to the King. Bidding me walk with her, she went afoot about the walls, considering what they lacked of strength, and how they might best be repaired, and bidding me write down all in a little book. Now we two, and no other, were walking by the dry fosse of Melun, the day being very fair and warm for that season, the flowers blossoming, and the birds singing so sweet and loud as never I heard them before or since that day.

The Maid stood still to listen, holding up her hand to me for silence, when, lo! in one moment, in the midst of merry music, the birds hushed suddenly.

As I marvelled, for there was not a cloud in the sky, nor a breath of cold wind, I beheld the Maid standing as I had seen her stand in the farmyard of the mill by St. Denis. Her head was bare, and her face was white as snow. So she stood while one might count a hundred, and if ever any could say that he had seen the Maid under fear, it was now. As I watched and wondered, she fell on her knees, like one in prayer, and with her eyes set and straining, and with clasped hands, she said these words--"Tell me of that day, and that hour, or grant me, of your grace, that in the same hour I may die."

Then she was silent for short space, and then, having drawn herself upon her knees for three paces or four, she very reverently bowed down, and kissed the ground.

Thereafter she arose, and beholding me wan, I doubt not, she gently laid her hand upon my shoulder, and, smiling most sweetly, she said -

"I know not what thou hast seen or heard, but promise, on thine honour, that thou wilt speak no word to any man, save in confession only, while I bear arms for France."

Then humbly, and with tears, I vowed as she had bidden me, whereto she only said -

"Come, we loiter, and I have much to do, for the day is short."

But whether the birds sang again, or stinted, I know not, for I marked it not.

But she set herself, as before, to consider the walls and the fosses, bidding me write down in my little book what things were needful. Nor was her countenance altered in any fashion, nor was her wit less clear; but when we had seen all that was to be looked to, she bade me call the chief men of the town to her house, after vespers, and herself went into the Church of St. Michael to pray.

Though I pondered much on this strange matter, which I laid up in my heart, I never knew what, belike, the import was, till nigh a year thereafter, at Rouen.

But there one told me how the Maid, before her judges, had said that, at Melun, by the fosse, her Saints had told her how she should be made prisoner before the feast of St. John. And she had prayed them to warn her of that hour, or in that hour might she die, but they bade her endure all things patiently, and with a willing mind. At that coming, then, of the Saints, I was present, though, being a sinful man, I knew not that the Holy Ones were there. But the birds knew, and stinted in their singing.

Now that the Maid, knowing by inspiration her hour to be even at the doors, and wotting well what the end of her captivity was like to be, yet had the heart to put herself in jeopardy day by day, this I deem the most valiant deed ever done by man or woman since the making of the world. For scarce even Wallace wight would have stood to his standard had he known, by teaching of them who cannot lie, what end awaited him beyond all hope. Nay, he would have betaken him to France, as once he did in time of less danger.

Now, I pray you, consider who she was that showed this courage and high heart. She was but the daughter of a manant, a girl of eighteen years of age. Remember, then, what manner of creature such a girl is of her nature; how weak and fearful; how she is discomfited and abashed by the company of even one gentleman or lady of noble birth; how ignorant she is of war; how fond to sport and play with wenches of her own degree; how easily set on fire of love; and how eager to be in the society of young men amorous. Pondering all these things in your hearts, judge ye whether this Maid, the bravest leader in breach, the wisest captain, having foreknowledge of things hidden and of things to come, the most courteous lady who ever with knights sat in hall, not knowing carnal love, nor bodily fear, was aught but a thing miraculous, and a sister of the Saints.


I have now shown wherefore the fighting, in this spring, was to be up and down the water of Oise, whence the villagers had withdrawn themselves, of necessity, into the good towns. For the desire of the Duke of Burgundy was to hold the Oise, and so take Compiegne, the better to hold Paris. And on our side the skill was to cut his army in two, so that from east of the water of Oise neither men nor victual might come to him.

Having this subtle device of war in her mind, the Maid rode north from Melun, by the King's good towns, till she came to Compiegne, that was not yet beleaguered. There they did her all the honour that might be, and thither came to her standard Messire Jacques de Chabennes, Messire Rigault de Fontaines, Messire Poton de Xaintrailles, the best knight then on ground, and many other gentlemen, some four hundred lances in all. {33} With these lances the Maid consorted to attack Pont l'Eveque by a night onfall. This is a small but very strong hold, on the Oise, some six leagues from Compiegne, as you go up the river, and it lies near the town of Noyon, which was held by the English. In Pont l'Eveque there was a garrison of a hundred lances of the English, and our skill was to break on them in the grey of dawn, when men least fear a surprise, and are most easily taken. By this very device La Hire had seized Compiegne but six years agone, wherefore our hope was the higher. About five of the clock on an April day we rode out of Compiegne, a great company,--too great, perchance, for that we had to do. For our army was nigh a league in length as it went on the way, nor could we move swiftly, for there were waggons with us and carts, drawing guns and couleuvrines and powder, fascines wherewith to fill the fosses, and ladders and double ladders for scaling the walls. So the captains ordered it to be, for ever since that day by Melun fosse, when the Saints foretold her captivity, the Maid submitted herself in all things to the captains, which was never her manner before.

As we rode slowly, she was now at the head of the line, now in the midst, now at the rear, wherever was need; and as I rode at her rein, I took heart to say -

"Madame, it is not thus that we have taken great keeps and holds, in my country, from our enemies of England."

"Nay," said she, checking her horse to a walk, and smiling on me in the dusk with her kind eyes. "Then tell me how you order it in your country."

"Madame," I said, "it was with a little force, and lightly moving, that Messire Thomas Randolph scaled the Castle rock and took Edinburgh Castle out of the hands of the English, a keep so strong, and set on a cliff so perilous, that no man might deem to win it by sudden onfall. And in like manner the good Messire James Douglas took his own castle, more than once or twice, by crafty stratagem of war, so that the English named it Castle Perilous. But in every such onfall few men fought for us, of such as could move secretly and swiftly, not with long trains of waggons that cover a league of road, and by their noise and number give warning to an enemy."

"My mind is yours," she said, with a sigh, "and so I would have made this onslaught. But I submitted me to the will of the captains."

Through the night we pushed our way slowly, for in such a march none may go swifter than the slowest, namely, the carts and the waggons. Thus it befell that the Maid and the captains were in more thoughts than one to draw back to Compiegne, for the night was clear, and the dawn would be bright. And, indeed, after stumbling and wandering long, and doubting of the way, we did, at last, see the church towers and walls of Pont l'Eveque stand out against the clear sky of morning, a light mist girdling the basement of the walls. Had we been a smaller and swifter company, we should have arrived an hour before the first greyness shows the shapes of things. But now, alas! we no sooner saw the town than we heard the bells and trumpets calling the townsfolk and men-at-arms to be on their ward. The great guns of the keep roared at us so soon as we were in reach of shot; nevertheless, Pothon and the Maid set companies to carry the double ladders, for the walls were high, and others were told off to bring up the fascines, and so, leaving our main battle to wait out of shot, and come on as they were needed, the Maid and Pothon ran up the first rampart, she waving her standard and crying that all was ours. As we ran, for I must needs be by her side, the din of bells and guns was worse than I had heard at Orleans, and on the top of the church towers were men-at-arms waving flags, as if for a signal. Howbeit, we sprang into the fosse, under shield, wary of stones cast from above, and presently three ladders were set against the wall, and we went up, the Maid leading the way.

Now of what befell I know but little, save that I had so climbed that I looked down over the wall, when the ladder whereon I stood was wholly overthrown by two great English knights, and one of them, by his coat armour, was Messire de Montgomery himself, who commanded in Pont l'Eveque. Of all that came after I remember no more than a flight through air, and the dead stroke of a fall on earth with a stone above me. For such is the fortune of war, whereof a man knows but his own share for the most part, and even that dimly. The eyes are often blinded with swift running to be at the wall, and, what with a helm that rings to sword-blows, and what with smoke, and dust, and crying, and clamour, and roar of guns, it is but little that many a man-at-arms can tell concerning the frays wherein, may be, he has borne himself not unmanly.

This was my lot at Pont l'Eveque, and I knew but little of what passed till I found myself in very great anguish. For I had been laid in one of the carts, and so was borne along the way we had come, and at every turn of the wheels a new pang ran through me. For my life I could not choose but groan, as others groaned that were in the same cart with me. For my right leg was broken, also my right arm, and my head was stounding as if it would burst. It was late and nigh sunset or ever we won the gates of Compiegne, having lost, indeed, but thirty men slain, but having wholly failed in our onfall. For I heard in the monastery whither I was borne that, when the Maid and Xaintrailles and their men had won their way within the walls, and had slain certain of the English, and were pushing the others hard, behold our main battle was fallen upon in the rear by the English from Noyon, some two miles distant from Pont l'Eveque. Therefore there was no help for it but retreat we must, driving back the English to Noyon, while our wounded and all our munitions of war were carried orderly away.

As to the pains I bore in that monastery of the Jacobins, when my broken bones were set by a very good surgeon, there is no need that I should write. My fortune in war was like that of most men-at- arms, or better than that of many who are slain outright in their first skirmish. Some good fortune I had, as at St. Pierre, and again, bad fortune, of which this was the worst, that I could not be with the Maid: nay, never again did I ride under her banner.

She, for her part, was not idle, but, after tarrying certain days in Compiegne with Guillaume de Flavy, she rode to Lagny, "for there," she said, "were men that warred well against the English," namely, a company of our Scots. And among them, as later I heard in my bed, was Randal Rutherford, who had ransomed himself out of the hands of the French in Paris, whereat I was right glad. At Lagny, with her own men and the Scots, the Maid fought and took one Franquet d'Arras, a Burgundian "routier," or knight of the road, who plundered that country without mercy. Him the Maid would have exchanged for an Armagnac of Paris, the host of the Bear Inn, then held in duresse by the English, for his share in a plot to yield Paris to the King. But this burgess died in the hands of the English, and the echevins {34} of Lagny, claiming Franquet d'Arras as a common thief, traitor, and murderer, tried him, and, on his confession, put him to death. This was counted a crime in the Maid by the English and Burgundian robbers, nay, even by French and Scots. "For," said they, "if a gentleman is to be judged like a manant, or a fat burgess by burgesses, there is no more profit or glory in war." Nay, I have heard gentlemen of France cry out that, as the Maid gave up Franquet to such judges as would surely condemn him, so she was rightly punished when Jean de Luxembourg sold her into the hands of unjust judges. But I answer that the Maid did not sell Franquet d'Arras, as I say De Luxembourg sold her: not a livre did she take from the folk of Lagny. And as for the slaying of robbers, this very Jean de Luxembourg had but just slain many English of his own party, for that they burned and pillaged in the Beauvais country.

Yet men murmured against the Maid not only in their hearts, but openly, and many men-at-arms ceased to love her cause, both for the slaying of Franquet d'Arras, and because she was for putting away the leaguer-lasses, and, when she might, would suffer no plundering. Whether she was right or wrong, it behoves me not to judge, but this I know, that the King's men fought best when she was best obeyed. And, like Him who sent her, she was ever of the part of the poor and the oppressed, against strong knights who rob and ravish and burn and torture, and hold to ransom. Therefore the Archbishop of Reims, who was never a friend of the Maid, said openly in a letter to the Reims folk that "she did her own will, rather than obeyed the commandments of God." But that God commands knights and gentlemen to rob the poor and needy (though indeed He has set a great gulf between a manant and a gentleman born) I can in nowise believe. For my part, when I have been where gentlemen and captains lamented the slaying of Franquet d'Arras, and justified the dealings of the English with the Maid, I have seemed to hear the clamour of the cruel Jews: "Tolle hunc, et dimitte nobis Barabbam." {35} For Barabbas was a robber. Howbeit on this matter, as on all, I humbly submit me to the judgment of my superiors and to Holy Church.

Meantime the Maid rode from Lagny, now to Soissons, now to Senlis, now to Crepy-en-Valois, and in Crepy she was when that befell which I am about to relate.


"Verily and indeed the Maid is of wonderful excellence," quoth Father Francois to me, in my chamber at the Jacobins, where I was healing of my hurts.

"Any man may know that, who is in your company," the father went on speaking.

"And how, good father?" I asked him; "sure I have caught none of her saintliness."

"A saint I do not call you, but I scarce call you a Scot. For you are a clerk."

"The Maid taught me none of my clergy, father, nor have I taught her any of mine."

"She needs it not. But you are peaceful and gentle; you brawl not, nor drink, nor curse . . . "

"Nay, father, with whom am I to brawl, or how should I curse in your good company? Find you Scots so froward?"

"But now, pretending to be our friends, a band of them is harrying the Sologne country . . . "

"They will be Johnstons and Jardines, and wild wood folk of Galloway," I said. "These we scarce reckon Scots, but rather Picts, and half heathen. And the Johnstons and Jardines are here belike, because they have made Scotland over hot to hold them. We are a poor folk, but honest, let by the clans of the Land Debatable and of Ettrick Forest, and the Border freebooters, and the Galloway Picts, and Maxwells, and Glendinnings, and the red-shanked, jabbering Highlanders and Islesmen, and some certain of the Angus folk, and, maybe, a wild crew in Strathclyde."

"Yours, then, is a very large country?"

"About the bigness of France, or, may be, not so big. And the main part of it, and the most lawful and learned, is by itself, in a sort, a separate kingdom, namely Fife, whence I come myself. The Lothians, too, and the shire of Ayr, if you except Carrick, are well known for the lands of peaceful and sober men."

"Whence comes your great captain, Sir Hugh Kennedy?"

"There you name an honourable man-at-arms," I said, "the glory of Scotland; and to show you I was right, he is none of your marchmen, or Highlanders, but has lands in Ayrshire, and comes of a very honourable house."

"It is Sir Hugh that hath just held to ransom the King's good town of Tours, where is that gracious lady the mother of the King's wife, the Queen of Sicily."

Hereat I waxed red as fire.

"He will be in arrears of his pay, no doubt," I made answer.

"It is very like," said Father Francois: "but considering all that you tell me, I crave your pardon if I still think that the Blessed Maid has won you from the common ways of your countrymen."

To which, in faith, I had no answer to make, but that my fortune was like to be the happier in this world and the next.

"Much need have all men of her goodness, and we of her valour," said the father, and he sighed. "This is now the fourth siege of Compiegne I have seen, and twice have the leads from our roofs and the metal of our bells been made into munition of war. Absit omen Domine! And now they say the Duke of Burgundy has sworn to slay all, and spare neither woman nor child."

"A vaunt of war, father. Call they not him the Good Duke? When we lay before Paris, the English put about a like lying tale concerning us, as if we should sack and slay all."

"I pray that you speak sooth," said Father Francois.

On the next day, being May the twentieth, he came to me again, with a wan face.

"Burgundians are in Claroix," said he, "across the river, and yet others, with Jean de Luxembourg, at Margny, scarce a mile away, at the end of the causeway through the water meadows, beyond the bridge. And the Duke is at Coudun, a league off to the right of Claroix, and I have clomb the tower-top, and thence seen the English at Venette, on the left hand of the causeway. All is undone."

"Nay, father, be of better cheer. Our fort at the bridge end is stronger than Les Tourelles were at Orleans. The English shot can scarce cross the river. Bridge the enemy has none, and northward and eastward all is open. Be of better heart, Heaven helps France."

"We have sent to summon the Maid,' said he, "from Crepy-en-Valois. In her is all my hope; but you speak lightly, for you are young, and war is your trade."

"And praying is yours, father, wherefore you should be bolder than I."

But he shook his head.

So two days passed, and nothing great befell, but in the grey dawn of May the twenty-third I was held awake by clatter of horsemen riding down the street under the window of my chamber. And after matins came Father Francois, his face very joyful, with the tidings that the Maid, and a company of some three hundred lances of hers, had ridden in from Crepy-en-Valois, she making her profit of the darkness to avoid the Burgundians.

Then I deemed that the enemy would soon have news of her, and all that day I heard the bells ring merry peals, and the trumpets sounding. About three hours after noonday Father Francois came again, and told me that the Maid would make a sally, and cut the Burgundians in twain; and now nothing would serve me but I must be borne in a litter to the walls, and see her banner once more on the wind.

So, by the goodwill of Father Francois, some lay brethren bore me forth from the convent, which is but a stone's-throw from the bridge. They carried me across the Oise to a mill hard by the boulevard of the Bridge fort, whence, from a window, I beheld all that chanced. No man sitting in the gallery of a knight's hall to see jongleurs play and sing could have had a better stance, or have seen more clearly all the mischief that befell.

The town of Compiegne lies on the river Oise, as Orleans on the Loire, but on the left, not the right hand of the water. The bridge is strongly guarded, as is custom, by a tower at the further end, and, in front of that tower, a boulevard. All the water was gay to look on, being covered with boats, as if for a holiday, but these were manned by archers, whom Guillaume de Flavy had set to shoot at the enemy, if they drove us back, and to rescue such of our men as might give ground, if they could not win into the boulevard at the bridge end.

Beyond the boulevard, forth to the open country, lay a wide plain, and behind it, closing it in, a long, low wall of steep hills. On the left, a mile and a half away, Father Francois showed me the church tower of Venette, where the English camped; to the right, a league off, was the tower of Clairoix; and at the end of a long raised causeway that ran from the bridge across the plain, because of the winter floods, I saw the tower and the village of Margny. All these towns and spires looked peaceful, but all were held by the Burgundians. Men-at-arms were thick on the crest of our boulevard, and on the gate-keep, all looking across the river towards the town, whence the Maid should sally by way of the bridge. So there I lay on a couch in the window and waited, having no fear, but great joy.

Nay, never have I felt my spirit lighter within me, so that I laughed and chattered like a fey man. The fresh air, after my long lying in a chamber, stirred me like wine. The May sun shone warm, yet cooled with a sweet wind of the west. The room was full of women and maids, all waiting to throw flowers before the Maid, whom they dearly loved. Everything had a look of holiday, and all was to end in joy and great victory. So I laughed with the girls, and listened to a strange tale, how the Maid had but of late brought back to life a dead child at Lagny, so that he got his rights of Baptism, and anon died again.

So we fleeted the time, till about the fifth hour after noon, when we heard the clatter of horses on the bridge; and some women waxed pale. My own heart leaped up. The noise drew nearer, and presently She rode across and forth, carrying her banner in the noblest manner, mounted on a grey horse, and clad in a rich hucque of cramoisie; she smiled and bowed like a queen to the people, who cried, "Noel! Noel!" Beside her rode Pothon le Bourgignon (not Pothon de Xaintrailles, as some have falsely said), her confessor Pasquerel on a palfrey; her brother, Pierre du Lys, with his new arms bravely blazoned; and her maitre d'hotel, D'Aulon. But of the captains in Compiegne no one rode with her. She had but her own company, and a great rude throng of footmen of the town that would not be said nay. They carried clubs, and they looked, as I heard, for no less than to take prisoner the Duke of Burgundy himself. Certain of these men also bore spades and picks and other tools; for the Maid, as I deem, intended no more than to take and hold Margny, that so she might cut the Burgundians in twain, and sunder from them the English at Venette. Now as the night was not far off, then at nightfall would the English be in sore straits, as not knowing the country and the country roads, and not having the power to join them of Burgundy at Clairoix. This, one told me afterwards, was the device of the Maid.

Be this as it may, and a captain of hers, Barthelemy Barrette, told me the tale, the Maid rode gallantly forth, flowers raining on her, while my heart longed to be riding at her rein. She waved her hand to Guillaume de Flavy, who sat on his horse by the gate of the boulevard, and so, having arrayed her men, she cried, "Tirez avant!" and made towards Margny, the foot-soldiers following with what speed they might, while I and Father Francois, and others in the chamber, strained our eyes after them. All the windows and roofs of the houses and water-mills on the bridge were crowded with men and women, gazing, and it came into my mind that Flavy had done ill to leave these mills and houses standing. They wrought otherwise at Orleans. This was but a passing thought, for my heart was in my eyes, straining towards Margny. Thence now arose a great din, and clamour of trumpets and cries of men-at-arms, and we could see tumult, blown dust, and stir of men, and so it went for it may be half of an hour. Then that dusty cloud of men and horses drove, forward ever, out of our sight.

The sun was now red and sinking above the low wall of the western hills, and the air was thicker than it had been, and confused with a yellow light. Despite the great multitude of men and women on the city walls, there came scarcely a sound of a voice to us across the wide river, so still they kept, and the archers in the boats beneath us were silent: nay, though the chamber wherein I lay was thronged with the people of the house pressing to see through the open casement, yet there was silence here, save when the father prayed.

A stronger wind rising out of the west now blew towards us with a sweet burden of scent from flowers and grass, fragrant upon our faces. So we waited, our hearts beating with hope and fear.

Then I, whose eyes were keen, saw, blown usward from Margny, a cloud of flying dust, that in Scotland we call stour. The dust rolled white along the causeway towards Compiegne, and then, alas! forth from it broke little knots of our men, foot-soldiers, all running for their lives. Behind them came more of our men, and more, all running, and then mounted men-at-arms, spurring hard, and still more and more of these; and ever the footmen ran, till many riders and some runners had crossed the drawbridge, and were within the boulevard of the bridge. There they stayed, sobbing and panting, and a few were bleeding. But though the foremost runaways thus won their lives, we saw others roll over and fall as they ran, tumbling down the sides of the causeway, and why they fell I knew not.

But now, in the midst of the causeway, between us and Margny, our flying horsemen rallied under the Maiden's banner, and for the last time of all, I heard that clear girl's voice crying, "Tirez en avant! en avant!"

Anon her horsemen charged back furiously, and drove the Picards and Burgundians, who pursued, over a third part of the raised roadway.

But now, forth from Margny, trooped Burgundian men-at-arms without end or number, the banner of the Maid waved wildly, now up, now down, in the mad mellay, and ever they of Burgundy pressed on, and still our men, being few and outnumbered, gave back. Yet still some of the many clubmen of the townsfolk tumbled over as they ran, and the drawbridge was choked with men flying, thrusting and thronging, wild and blind with the fear of death. Then rose on our left one great cry, such as the English give when they rejoice, or when they charge, and lo! forth from a little wood that had hidden them, came galloping and running across the heavy wet meadowland between us and Venette, the men-at-arms and the archers of England. Then we nigh gave up all for lost, and fain I would have turned my eyes away, but I might not.

Now and again the English archers paused, and loosed a flight of clothyard shafts against the stream of our runaways on the bridge. Therefore it was that some fell as they ran. But the little company of our horsemen were now driven back so near us that I could plainly see the Maid, coming last of all, her body swung round in the saddle as she looked back at the foremost foemen, who were within a lance's length of her. And D'Aulon and Pierre du Lys, gripping each at her reins, were spurring forward. But through the press of our clubmen and flying horsemen they might not win, and now I saw, what never man saw before, the sword of the Maid bare in battle! She smote on a knight's shield, her sword shivered in that stroke, she caught her steel sperthe into her hand, and struck and hewed amain, and there were empty saddles round her.

And now the English in the meadow were within four lances' lengths of the causeway between her and safety. Say it I must, nor cannon- ball nor arrow-flight availed to turn these English. Still the drawbridge and the inlet of the boulevard were choked with the press, and men were leaping from bank and bridge into the boats, or into the water, while so mixed were friends and foes that Flavy, in a great voice, bade archers and artillerymen hold their hands.

Townsfolk, too, were mingled in the throng, men who had come but to gape as curious fools, and among them I saw the hood of a cordelier, as I glanced from the fight to mark how the Maid might force her way within. Still she smote, and D'Aulon and Pierre du Lys smote manfully, and anon they gained a little way, backing their horses, while our archers dared not shoot, so mixed were French, English, and Burgundians.

Flavy, who worked like a man possessed, had turned about to give an order to the archers above him; his back, I swear, was to the press of flying men, to the inlet of the boulevard, and to the drawbridge, when his own voice, as all deemed who heard it, cried aloud, "Up drawbridge, close gates, down portcullis!" The men whose duty it was were standing ready at the cranks and pulleys, their tools in hand, and instantly, groaning, the drawbridge flew up, casting into the water them that were flying across, down came the portcullis, and slew two men, while the gates of the inlet of the boulevard were swung to and barred, all, as it might he said, in the twinkling of an eye.

Flavy turned in wrath and great amaze: "In God's name, who cried?" he shouted. "Down drawbridge, up portcullis, open gates! To the front, men-at-arms, lances forward!"

For most of the mounted men who had fled were now safe, and on foot, within the boulevard.

All this I heard and saw, in a glance, while my eyes were fixed on the Maid and the few with her. They were lost from our sight, now and again, in a throng of Picards, Englishmen, Burgundians, for all have their part in this glory. Swords and axes fell and rose, steeds countered and reeled, and then, they say, for this thing I myself did not see, a Picard archer, slipping under the weapons and among the horses' hoofs, tore the Maid from saddle by the long skirts of her hucque, and they were all upon her. This befell within half a stone's-throw of the drawbridge. While Flavy himself toiled with his hands, and tore at the cranks and chains, the Maid was taken under the eyes of us, who could not stir to help her. Now was the day and the hour whereof the Saints told her not, though she implored them with tears. Now in the throng below I heard a laugh like the sound of a saw on stone, and one struck him that laughed on the mouth. It was the laugh of that accursed Brother Thomas!

I had laid my face on my hands, being so weak, and was weeping for very rage at that which my unhappy eyes had seen, when I heard the laugh, and lifting my head and looking forth, I beheld the hood of the cordelier.

"Seize him!" I cried to Father Francois, pointing down at the cordelier. "Seize that Franciscan, he has betrayed her! Run, man, it was he who cried in Flavy's voice, bidding them raise drawbridge and let fall portcullis. The devil gave him that craft to counterfeit men's voices. I know the man. Run, Father Francois, run!"

"You are distraught with very grief," said the good father, the tears running down his own cheeks; "that is Brother Thomas, the best artilleryman in France, and Flavy's chief trust with the couleuvrine. He came in but four days agone, and there was great joy of his coming."

Thus was the Maid taken, by art and device of the devil and Brother Thomas, and in no otherwise. They who tell that Flavy sold her, closing the gates in her face, do him wrong; he was an ill man, but loyal to France, as was seen by the very defence he made at Compiegne, for there was none like it in this war. But of what avail was that to us who loved the Maid? Rather, many times, would I have died in that hour than have seen what I saw. For our enemies made no more tarrying, nor any onslaught on the boulevard, but rode swiftly back with the prize they had taken, with her whom they feared more than any knight or captain of France. This page whereon I work, in a hand feeble and old, and weary with much writing, is blotted with tears that will not be held in. But we must bow humbly to the will of God and of His Saints. "Dominus dedit, et Dominus abstulit; benedictum sit nomen Domini."

Wherefore should I say more? They carried me back in litter over the bridge, through the growing darkness. Every church was full of women weeping and praying for her that was the friend of them, and the playmate of their children, for all children she dearly loved.

Concerning Flavy, it was said, by them who loved him not, that he showed no sign of sorrow. But when his own brother Louis fell, later in the siege, a brother whom he dearly loved, none saw him weep, or alter the fashion of his countenance; nay, he bade musicians play music before him.

I besought the Prior, when I was borne home, that I might be carried to Flavy, and tell him that I knew. But he forbade me, saying that, in very truth, I knew nought, or nothing that could be brought against a Churchman, and one in a place of trust. For I had not seen the lips of the cordelier move when that command was given-- nay, at the moment I saw him not at all. Nor could I even prove to others that he had this devilish art, there being but my oath against his, and assuredly he would deny the thing. And though I might be assured and certain within myself, yet other witness I had none at all, nor were any of my friends there who could speak with me. For D'Aulon, and Pasquerel, and Pierre du Lys had all been taken with the Maid. It was long indeed before Pierre du Lys was free, for he had no money to ransom himself withal. Therefore Flavy, knowing me only for a wounded Scot of the Maid's, would think me a brainsick man, and as like as not give me more of Oise river to drink than I craved.

With these reasonings it behoved me to content myself. The night I passed in prayers for the Maid, and for myself, that I might yet do justice on that devil, or, at least, might see justice done. But how these orisons were answered shall be seen in the end, whereto I now hasten.


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