Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 18

DISPUTE WITH THE FRENCH CHIEFS

The French chiefs at Blois had for some time been collecting two convoys of provisions, and their main object was to throw them into Orleans, now reduced to the utmost need; but this seemed no easy enterpiiae in the face of the English army, flushed with recent victories, and far superior in numbers to their own. Joan, by right of her pro- phetic mission, insisted that the convoy should proceed along the northern bank of the Loire, through the district of Beauce, while her colleagues proposed the southern bank and the province of Sologne, knowing that the bastilles of the English "were much weaker and worse guarded on that side. Unable to overcome her opposition, and wholly distrusting her talents for command when closely viewed, they availed themselves of her ignorance of the country, and, while passing the river at Blois, persuaded her that they were still proceeding along the northern shore. After two days' march, ascending the last ridge that shut out the view of the beleaguered city, Joan was astonished to find the Loire flowing between her and the walls, and broke forth into angry reproaches. But these soon yielded to the necessity of action. She held a conference with Dunois, who had come with boats some way down the Loire to receive the convoy. The night was setting in, and a storm was raging on high, with the wind directly against them; all the chiefs counselled delay, but the Maid insisted that the supplies should be forthwith put on board, promising that the wind should change ; it really did change, and became favourable after the embarkation, and thus the convoy was enabled to reach Orleans in safety, while the English generals kept themselves close to their redoubts, withheld partly by the pelt- ing of the storm and the uncertainty of a night attack, partly by a sally which the citizens made as a diversion on the side of Beauce, and partly by the wish that their soldiers should, before they fought, have an opportunity of seeing Joan more nearly, and recovering from the panic which distant rumour had inspired.

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