Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 30

THE BROKEN SWORD

The good example set bv Troves and Rheims in opening their gates to the King was ere long followed by Laon, Sjissoni. Compiegne. Beauvais, and other places of importance. Step bv step the King was drawing nearer to the walls of Paris, while the English, although they had lately received some reinforcements from home, were not able to keep the field against him. During this march, however, an ill omen was noticed--the sword of the Maid broke asunder--how and wherefore we will leave to M. de Baiante to tell : --

"Victory had made the French arrogant and thoughtless, so that they resigned themselves to every kind of licentionsness ; nothing could restrain them. In this the Maid was not hearkened to. Her wrath was so far kindled that one day as she met some men at arms, who, were making merry with a woman of loose life, she began to beat them with the flat of her sword so hard that weapon broke. This was the sword found in the church of Fierbois, and which had just achieved such noble deeds. The loss of it was a grief to everbody, and even to the King. He said to Joan, 'You ought to have taken a good stout stick and struck the men with that, instead of risking this sword, which has come to you by help from heaven, as you say.'"

The King and his army continued advancing towards Paris ; and at length, from the heights of St. Denis, the domes and spires of his ancient capita, rose in sight before him. It seemed an auspicious time for his coming, the Duke of Bedford having been summoned away to quell some disturbances ir Normandy. An assault was given accordingly in the month of September, 1429j and on the same groimd where the Rue Traversiere now stands. The Maid had been eager for it, and made a predictioD or promise to the soldiers that in the ensuing nighl they should sleep within the city walls. But the King's military ardour had already cooled ; and he could not be prevailed upon to approach the scene oi action nearer than St. Denis. Of his officers, many were downcast at his absence, and some jealous oi the high renown which Joan had gained. Thus hei effiDrts were but feebly seconded on this occasion. She easily led the troops across the first ditch of the city ; but she found the second broad, deep, and full of water ; and while she was sounding it to and fro with her lance, to discover where it might be shal- loweat, she was grievously wounded by an arrow from the walls, and her standard-bearer was killed by her side. Still, however, she would not give the signal of retreat; and from the ground, where she lay stretched and helpless on the reverse of the first fosse, she continued to urge on the soldiers, and to call for faggots and fiuscines, resisting all entreaties to withthdraw until the evening, when the Duke of Alencon, having come up and shown her how ill the attack had prospered, she allowed herself to be borne away.

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