Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 23


From the northern shore the English chiefs, Suffolk, Talbot, and Fastolf, had beheld these pre- parations, but found their own troops panic-stricken at "the sorceress." They could not prevail upon tiiiem either to leave their bulwarks and pass the river for the assistance of their comrades, or to attack the city while deprived of its best defenders. Gladsdale was therefore left to his own resources. Besides the strength of his fortifications, his five hundred men of garrison--knights and esquires-- were the very flower of the English army ; and thus, however fierce and brave the attack, he was able to stand firm against it. He poured upon the French a close and well-sustained discharge, both £rom bows and fire-arms; and whenever they attempted to scale the rampart, he overthrew their ladders with hatchets, pikes, and mallets. The assault had begmx at ten in the morning, and the Maid was as usual in the foremost ranks, waving her standard, and calling aloud to the soldiers. About noon, seeing their ardour slacken, she snatched up a ladder to plant against the walls, and began ascending. At that moment an arrow passed through her corslet, and deeply pierced her between the neck and shoulder ; she fell back into the fosse, and the English were already pressing down to make her prisoner: but she was rescued by her countrymen, and borne away from the scene of action. When laid upon the ground and disarmed, the anguish of her wound drew from her tcaxs ; but she had, as she declares, a vision of her two Saints, and from that moment felt consoled. With her own hands she pulled out the arrow ; she desired the wound to be quickly dressed ; and after some moments passed in silent prayer, hastened back to head the troops. They had suspended the conflict in her absence, and had been disheartened by her wound; but it had not at all diminished their ideas of her supernatural powers ; on the contrary, they immediately discovered that she had J more than once foretold it, and that the untoward event only proved her skill in prophecy. They now, invigorated by their rest, and still more by her return, rushed back with fresh ardour to a second onset, while the English were struck with surprise at the sudden appearance in arms of one whom they had so lately beheld hurled down, and, as they thought, half dead in the ditch. Several of them were even so far bewildered by their own terrors as to see in the air the forms of the Archangel Michael, and of Aignan, the patron saint of Orleans, mounted on white chargers, and fighting on the side of the French. The cooler heads among the English were no less dismayed at the news that another body of the townspeople had advanced to the broken arch, at the opposite end of the fort; that they were keeping up a murderous fire, and throwing over huge beams of wood for their passage.


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