Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Joan of Arc Part 21

LA HIRE'S PRAYER
Portrait of Etienne de Vignolles (La Hire) by J. Lecurieux

Next morning, the 5th of May, was the festival of the Ascension, and as a festival was it kept at Orleans; no new attack made upon the English, and the whole day devoted to public prayers and thanksgiving. In these Joan, as usual, was foremost ; she earnestly exhorted the soldiers to repentance, and desired that none should presume to join her banner without having been first to confession. Her bidding seemed to them as a call from heaven ; and for the first time, perhaps, their untutored lips were heard to pour forth prayers, true and earnest in feeling, though not always duly reverent in expression. One such of the brave La Hire's is recorded ; it was uttered just before going into battle :--" God, I pray thee that thou wouldest do this day for La Hire as much as thou wouldest that La Hire should do for thee, if he was God, and thou wast La Hire ! " "And," adds the honest chronicler from whom we are translating, "he deemed that he was praying right well and devoutly!"

That afternoon the chiefs held a council of war, to which they did not ask the presence of Joan ; another proof how little they confided in her mission. They determined to proceed next to attack the English bastilles on the southern shore, as these were much the least strong, and as it was most important to free the communication between the city and the friendly province of Berri. Joan, when informed of those views, urged again that the attack should be on her favourite side of Beauce, but at length acquiesced in the decision of the council.

Next morning, accordingly, the 6th of May, Joan took her station before daybreak, with La Hire and other chiefs, in a small islet; near the side of Sologne ; from thence again they passed to the shore in boats drawing their horses after them by the bridles. Eeinforcements followed as fast as the boats could carry them ; but, without awaiting them, Joan began the onset against the Bastille des Augustins. The English made a resolute resistance : to strengthen themselves they withdrew their troops from another of their bastilles, St. Jean le Blanc ; and the two garrisons, thus combining, put the French to flight Joan was borne along by the runaways, but ere long turned round upon the enemy ; and at the aspect of this sorceress, as they believed her, close upon them, waving aloft her banner (marked, no doubt, with magical spells), they on their part receded, and sought shelter behind their bulwarks. The French reinforcements were meanwhile coming up, and in another assault the Bastille des Augustins was taken, the garrison put to the sword, and the building set in flames. A body of French troops took up their position for the whole night upon the northern shore ; but the Maid was induced to return into the city, slightly wounded in the foot by a caltrop, and having fasted (for it was Friday) during the whole toilsome day.

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