Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

JOAN OF ARC The Warrior Maid


Chapter 28
At Domremy

To our Holy Father, the Pope, to whom,
and to God first, I appeal.

Jeanne's own words in the Square of St. Ouen.

There were many signs and wonders told of the execution after Jeanne’s death. It was said that a dove was seen to fly upward toward Heaven at the moment that her spirit took its flight; that the executioner later in the day went weeping to Friar Isambard, confessing that he was lost, for he had burnt a saint; that an English soldier who had sworn to light a faggot on the pyre had fallen in a swoon as he threw the burning brand; that her heart, that great heart that beat only for France, was not consumed by the flame: these and many other things were told. The truth of the matter was that even her enemies were not easy in their minds about her death. There was more than a suspicion that what she had said might be true: that she was sent from God.

The news of her death swept over France, bringing grief and consternation to those who loved her, and satisfaction to those that feared.

In the afternoon of a gracious day in June, some two weeks after the tragedy at Rouen, two young women might have been seen coming through the forest down the hill path beyond Greux from the Chapel of Our Lady of Bermont. It was Saturday, the Holy Virgin’s day, and the two had been to make their orisons at the shrine. But though the Valley of Colours had never seemed so lovely, so flowery, so fragrant as it did on this golden afternoon, a young matron and her maiden companion, the two, walked in silence and with lagging steps through the tangle of vines and grasses that grew along the pathway.

“It is more than two years since Jeanne went away,” spoke the younger one suddenly, voicing the name that was in both their hearts. “Oh, Mengette, it grieves me to think of her shut up in a gloomy dungeon when she loved the fields so.”

“Yes, Hauviette. And how strange it is that Jeanne D’Arc, who was always so good and pious, is up before the Church charged with heresy. Jeanne a heretic? Pouf! The very idea of such a thing!” Mengette laughed scornfully, then caught her breath with a sob. “To think of it, when she loves the Church so. It’s my belief that those who try her are the heretics.”

“Mengette, if any one should hear you!” Hauviette cast a fearful glance about her. “It would go hard with you.”

“I care not who hears me,” declared Mengette with a toss of her head. “Have we not boldly told all who came to Domremy to inquire concerning her of her goodness and purity? Ay! even though they were Burgundians or English they were told the truth though some of them would fain have heard otherwise. Beside, should any chance to hear me, Robert, my husband, would not let harm come to me.”

In spite of her sadness Hauviette could not repress a smile. Mengette had been married two years, and her belief in her husband’s all powerfulness had become a proverb in the village. But the maiden only remarked:

“I would that we could hear how it fares with Jeanne. It is a long trial.” She sighed.

“Yes.” Mengette sighed also, and silence fell once more between them. Long before Domremy had heard that Jeanne was held in durance, and at length that she was on trial before the learned men of the University. All feared for the result, for what chance would a peasant maid stand with such wise men?

Down the hillside path, through Greux, and on through the Bois Chesnu went the two friends, until presently they emerged into the clearing where stood the Fairy Tree in solitary grandeur. With one accord they paused under its spreading branches.

“The commissioners from Rouen were so curious about the tree,” commented Mengette, glancing up at it lovingly. “So many questions did they ask concerning it, and the Gooseberry Spring. And, Hauviette, did Isabeau tell you that they wanted to know whether Jeanne ever carried a mandrake?”

“Yes, she told me,” answered Hauviette. “As though Jeanne would do such a thing! Look, Mengette!” she broke off suddenly. “Something has happened, for the people are running all about the streets of the village.”

“And the most of them are going toward the D’Arc house,” cried Mengette excitedly. “There must be news of Jeanne. Let us hurry, Hauviette.”

Quickly the intervening space between the forest and the village was passed, and Jeanne’s two friends soon entered the dooryard of the cottage. Colin de Greux left the crowd of villagers who clustered about the yard talking in low tones, and came to meet them.

“There is news,” he told them in trembling accents. “It is all over. Poor Jeanne!” He paused abruptly, and covered his face with his hands.

“What do you mean, Colin?” cried Mengette, while Hauviette grew white, and clasping her hands over her heart stood waiting the answer with bated breath. “Is she––is she dead?”

Colin nodded. “Burned,” he said briefly. “As a heretic and a sorceress. The Curé has just received word.”

“Oh,” gasped Mengette. “It can’t be true; it can’t be!” But Hauviette could not speak. More than the others had she loved Jeanne.

“Yes; it’s true,” affirmed Colin with emotion. “And to think that I teased her so. And made her go to Toul, and, and––” His voice broke.

At this Hauviette recovered herself a little, and laid her hand softly on his arm.

“She forgave that, Colin, I know,” she said comfortingly. “Jeanne would harbour naught against you.”

“I know,” he said. “For when she left Domremy for Vaucouleurs she stopped as she passed through Greux, and said: ‘I go to Vaucouleurs, Colin. God give you good fortune.’ And He has,” continued the young man, “for I have prospered beyond any other in the village. ’Tis as though her mere wish had brought it to pass.”

“Perhaps it did,” said the maiden gently, finding comfort for her own grief in consoling him. “But see! Mengette has gone to Jacques and Isabeau. Let us go also, that we may comfort them. Jeanne would like us to do that.”

“You are like her,” he said, looking up at her suddenly, and taking the little hand that lay so lightly upon his sleeve. “You think of others before yourself. Yes; let us go to them.”

Hand in hand they made their way through the sorrowing people into the cottage. Jacques D’Arc lay upon the open cupboard bed, completely prostrated by grief, and Isabeau bent over him, ministering to him in woe too deep for tears. Beside them stood the good Curé, the tears flowing unrestrainedly down his cheeks.

“Grieve not,” he said. “I believe that the child went straight into Paradise. I confessed her too often not to know that she was pure as a lily flower. In Paradise she dwells beyond all trouble. We who are left behind must not grieve. You have other children left you. Jean and Pierre are held to ransom, and they will soon return.”

And so he tried to comfort them, but for some griefs there is no consolation. Jacques D’Arc’s was one for which there was no cure. His heart broke under its weight of anguish, and a few days thereafter he died.

Some time later Pierre and Jean returned to their mother, and took her with them to Orléans, where she resided the rest of her long life, the recipient of many honours from the city that did not forget its Maid. Twenty years later there came a day when the long dormant manhood of Charles Seventh was stirred to action, and he was minded to make amends to the memory of her who had done so much for him. At his instigation Isabeau carried her daughter’s appeal to Rome.

“I have told your doctors that all my deeds and words should be sent to Rome to our Holy Father, the Pope, to whom, and to God first, I appeal,” Jeanne had cried on the platform at St. Ouen on the day of her abjuration. She had been told then that the Pope was too far off; so now Isabeau carried that appeal to him, asking for justice to be done to her daughter’s memory.

The case was reopened, witnesses examined, even some of the assessors who had sat with Cauchon testifying in her favour, and Jeanne’s name was cleared by the Church of every charge against her. Thankful that her child would no longer rest under the ban of the Church she loved so well, Isabeau returned to Orléans, and spent the remainder of her days in peace.

In peace, for at last the land was cleared of the English and only at Calais had the invader a foothold, and Charles dwelt in his own capitol at Paris. All of Jeanne’s prophecies had come to pass.

Jean, her brother, was made captain of Vaucouleurs when bluff old Robert de Baudricourt was gathered to his fathers. Pierre married, and lived with his wife and mother at Orléans. Both brothers took the name of Du Lys, which the King had conferred upon them through Jeanne, and were ranked among the nobility, honoured and revered for the sake of one who coveted no honour save that of serving her country––plain Jeanne D’Arc.

THE END

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