Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

JOAN OF ARC The Warrior Maid

Chapter 23
The Turning of the Tide

If France deserts her, and she fails, she is none the
less inspired.

>Jean Gerson. 1429.

There was feasting in Reims after the coronation. In the Archbishop’s palace the King was served with the princes of the blood and the nobles. The tables stretched to the streets that the people might be served also; all Reims ate, drank, and made merry. But Jeanne, always exceedingly temperate in the matter of eating and drinking, soon slipped away from the festivities. She had other work on hand.

There was a letter to be written to the Duke of Burgundy, the greatest peer of France. Philip, because of the blood feud between him and Charles, had cast his power and influence with Regent Bedford against his own countrymen. Jeanne had written to him before in June at the beginning of the march to Reims, summoning him to the crowning of the King, but had heard from neither letter nor herald. It was the maiden’s belief that all Frenchmen should unite against the common enemy, laying aside private griefs that France might be served. She had no party feeling, and was possessed of a fund of common sense which made her see what a powerful ally Philip of Burgundy would be. So now she wrote again, summoning him to renounce his feud with his cousin, the King, and thus to heal the breach which had divided the realm into two great parties.


“High and redoubtable Prince, Duke of Burgundy. Jeanne the Maid requires on the part of the King of Heaven, my most just sovereign and Lord, that the King of France and you make peace between yourselves, firm, strong, and that will endure. Pardon each other of good heart, entirely, as loyal Christians ought to do, and if you desire to fight let it be against the Saracens. Prince of Burgundy, I pray, supplicate, and require as humbly as may be, that you fight no longer against the holy kingdom of France: withdraw, at once and speedily, your people who are in any strongholds or fortresses of the said holy kingdom; and on the part of the gentle King of France, he is ready to make peace with you, having respect to his honor. All those who war against the said holy kingdom of France, war against King Jesus, King of Heaven, and of all the world and my just and sovereign Lord. And I pray and require with clasped hands that you fight not, nor make any battle against us, neither your friends nor your subjects. For however great in numbers may be the men you lead against us, you will never win, and it would be great pity for the battle and the blood that would be shed of those who came against us. Three weeks ago I sent you a letter by a herald that you should be present at the consecration of the King, which to-day, Sunday, the seventeenth of the present month of July, is done in the city of Reims: to which I have had no answer. To God I commend you, and may He be your guard if it pleases Him, and I pray God to make good peace.

“Written at the aforesaid Reims, the seventeenth day of July, 1429.

“ Jeanne the Maid.”

So, her mission ended, the girl began to make preparations for her return home with her father. When she left Vaucouleurs she had taken with her the red homespun dress that she had worn from home, and had always kept it with her. She brought it forth, and smoothed its folds tenderly.

It was of coarse fabric unlike the brocades and satins of the knight’s suits that she now wore, but Jeanne’s eyes grew misty, and soft, and wistful as she fondled it; the simple frock meant home and mother to her. Presently the members of the Household began to come in to take farewell, for all knew that she felt that her task was finished and that it was her intention to return to Domremy. But it was not to be.

The next day Jeanne sought Charles and asked him of his graciousness to let her depart. Her mission was closed, she told him. She had done the two things that she was charged to do: the siege of Orléans was raised, and she had led him to his crowning. She wished now to go back home with her father, and of his goodness she begged him to let her depart.

The monarch heard her with surprise.

“Go back now, Jeanne?” he exclaimed. “That cannot be. We need you.”

“Nay, gentle King. There is no further need of me. You are crowned, and the towns will receive you joyfully. Whatever of fighting there is to be done the men-at-arms can do.”

“Dear Maid, have you forgot Paris? We are to march there from here, and who can lead the men-at-arms to the storming so well as you? You will inspire them, give them heart and courage, and frighten the enemy. We cannot do without you yet, Jeanne. We need you; the country needs you. Stay your departure for yet a little while we entreat––nay; we command it, Jeanne.”

Her King and her country needed her. That was enough for the girl whose every heart beat was for France. So sorrowfully she wended her way to The Zebra, the little inn where Jacques and Durand were stopping.

“Father,” she said sadly, as Jacques came forward to meet her, “I can not go home. I must continue with the army. It is the King’s command.”

“Not go back, my little one?” exclaimed her father, his face clouding. “Why, Isabeau will be sore disappointed. She thought you would come after your work was done.”

“And I too, father, but the noble King commands me to stay. He hath need of me, he says. And France needs me.” And, as she had done when she was a little child, Jeanne laid her head on her father’s shoulder and cried like the homesick girl that she was. Her father comforted her tenderly. His own disappointment was great.

“We went to see the King, Jeanne,” spoke Durand suddenly.

“He had us brought to him, and he was graciousness itself. I wonder not that you delight to serve him; so sweet and pitiful he is.”

“Oh, he is,” exclaimed the maiden. “For know, father, that he has exempted both Domremy and Greux from the taxes.”

“Now that is good,” cried Jacques delightedly. “That will be news indeed to carry back!”

“And we each have a horse,” Durand told her proudly. “And we are to have our keep for so long as we wish to stay in Reims. The town will have it so. And all because we are of kin to Jeanne D’Arc.”

Jeanne smiled at his pleasure. She too had gifts which she had bought to carry home herself. Now she gave them to her father to deliver with many a loving message, and then took a lingering farewell of them. Her heart was very full as she returned to the palace of the Archbishop, and once more took up her position as a general in the royal army. She never saw either her father or her uncle again.

Jeanne supposed that it was the King’s intention to march directly upon Paris the day after the coronation. To the surprise of every one Charles dallied at Reims for four days, and did not set forth from the town until the twenty-first of July. Then with banners flying the royal army rode from the gates with glad hearts and high hopes, Jeanne with her standard riding in front of the King. With the Maid leading them the troops believed themselves to be invincible. They were filled with confidence, for Paris once taken, the power of the English in northern France would be entirely broken. Both Burgundy and Bedford realized this fact to the full. “Paris is the heart of the mystic body of the kingdom,” wrote the former to the Regent in the Spring of 1430. “Only by liberating the heart can the body be made to flourish.” What was true in 1430 was equally so in 1429. The right policy, therefore, was to advance at once and storm Paris.

But the King stopped at the Abbey of Saint Marcoul and “touched for the King’s Evil.”[19] Nothing should have been allowed to waste time. It should have been Paris first, and then Saint Marcoul; for Bedford at this very time was marching from Calais with newly landed troops under Cardinal Beaufort.

After Saint Marcoul Charles marched next to Vailly, and having received the keys of Soissons passed to that city. Everywhere he was received with acclamations, town after town yielding to him and the Maid. The army was now only sixty miles from Paris. Bedford had not reached the city, which had but a small garrison, and many of its citizens favored Charles. Only a vigorous advance was required to take it, and so end the war. At Soissons the King received the submission of many towns, but there was nothing else done. When the army set forth again the King turned about and headed due south for Château-Thierry; after two days he proceeded to Provins, which was reached on August second.

This place was about sixty miles south of Soissons, and fifty miles southeast of Paris. With all his marching after ten days Charles was but ten miles nearer his objective point.

The enthusiasm of the troops was dwindling. Jeanne and the captains viewed the effects of the vacillating manoeuvring of the King with despair; for no one seemed to know what it all meant. The Maid at length sought Charles for an explanation. To her surprise she learned that ambassadors from Burgundy had come to Reims on the very day of the coronation, desiring a truce between the King and the Duke. The envoys had marched with them since then, for the belief was so strong that Paris should be taken that the King and his Councillors did not dare treat with them while feeling ran so high. Now, however, the envoys had succeeded in establishing a sort of truce by the terms of which Burgundy was to deliver up Paris to Charles at the end of a fortnight.

“At the end of a fortnight,” repeated Jeanne in dismay. “In God’s name, gentle King, the regent will have time to bring his new troops into the town before the two weeks are sped. All the Duke of Burgundy wants is to gain time for the English regent.”

“Do you mean to reflect upon the honor of our cousin Burgundy?” demanded Charles haughtily. “His intentions toward us are most kind, we assure you, Jeanne. It is our dearest wish to be at peace with him.”

“Make peace, Sire; but––”

“But what, dear Maid?”

“Make it at the point of the lance,” she cried. “None other will be so lasting. A quick advance, Sire, and Paris is ours, and with it all France.”

“Would it not be best to take it without bloodshed?” he asked. “By your way much Christian blood must perforce be spilled. By this truce with our cousin the city will be ours peaceably. Is not that best?”

“It may be,” she agreed sorrowfully.

There was no more to be said, so with heavy heart she went from the presence to report to the captains. Silently they heard her; for none of them believed that Philip of Burgundy would ever deliver Paris to the King. So “turning first the flanks, then the rear of his army towards Paris, dragging with him the despairing Maid, the King headed for the Loire.”

Beyond that river lay pleasure and amusement; time could be taken for ease and enjoyment, and the unworthy King desired them more than honor. In this he was encouraged by La Trémouille and his party.

Reims, Soissons and other cities that had made submission were alarmed because the King was abandoning them to the mercy of Burgundy, and the men of Reims wrote to Jeanne telling her their fears. To which she made answer:

“Dear good friends, good and loyal Frenchmen, the Maid sends you news of her.... Never will I abandon you while I live. True it is that the King has made a fifteen days’ truce with the Duke of Burgundy, who is to give up to him the town of Paris peacefully on the fifteenth day.

“Although the truce is made, I am not content, and am not certain that I will keep it. If I do it will be merely for the sake of the King’s honor, and in case they do not deceive the blood royal, for I will keep the King’s army together and in readiness, at the end of the fifteen days, if peace is not made.”

At Bray, where Charles expected to cross the Seine on his road to the Loire, he found a strong Anglo-Burgundian force in possession, so facing about he started toward Paris. Jeanne and the captains rejoiced openly, for they had no desire to cross the river, but wished only to keep near the capital until the truce was ended.

The erratic marching and indecision of the royal Council and the King were ruining the spirit of the men-at-arms; but the country people who knew naught of the parleying with Burgundy were wild with delight at the coming of Charles, and crowded to gaze upon him as he passed by. Jeanne was touched by their demonstrations of delight.

“Here is a good people,” she remarked one day, as she rode between Dunois and the Archbishop of Reims when the army was near Crépy. “Never have I seen any so glad of the coming of the noble King. I would that when I die I were so happy as to be buried in this country.”

“Jeanne, in what place do you expect to die?” asked the Archbishop, who had never been a friend of Jeanne’s, and wished to draw some expression of prophecy from her that might be used against her.

“When it shall please God,” she made answer; “for I know no more of the time and place than you do. Would that it pleased God my Creator to let me depart at this time, and lay down my arms, and go to serve my father and mother in keeping their sheep with my brothers, for they would be very glad to see me.”

There was a note of sadness in the words. Even Jeanne’s brave spirit was feeling the strain of the fluctuating, futile marchings.

On August eleventh Charles lay at Crépy-en-Valois, where he received a letter from Bedford, who by this time had brought his troops near to Paris and now lay between that city and the French army. It was a brutally insulting letter, obviously written for the purpose of forcing the monarch to fight in the open field. It closed by challenging him to single combat, and with an appeal to the Almighty. Any man with an ounce of red blood in his veins would have accepted the challenge, and died gloriously, if needs be, in defense of his honor. Charles merely ignored the letter. It is said of him that at a later date he discovered great valour, taking the field in person against his enemies, and fighting in knightly fashion. It seems a pity that such gallantry was not in evidence at this period.

On August fourteenth the armies of Charles and Bedford came face to face at Montépilloy. It was near evening, and after a skirmish they both encamped for the night.

In the morning the royal army found Bedford entrenched in a strong position. His flanks and front were carefully protected by earthworks and a stockade made of stout stakes carried by English archers for the purpose. Thrust deep into the ground, they would break the charge of cavalry, and were very formidable. In the rear was a lake and a stream, so that no attack could be made from that quarter. Over the host floated the banners of France and England.

The French army formed in four divisions: the advance-guard, commanded by Alençon; the centre, commanded by René de Bar; the rear, with which were the King himself and La Trémouille, was under Charles de Bourbon, and a large body of skirmishers under Jeanne, Dunois and La Hire.

The position of Bedford was too strong to admit of a direct attack. He also had the advantage of a superiority in numbers, so the French tried to draw his forces from behind their barricades in the same manner that Talbot had tried to entice Jeanne to forsake the strong position which she had occupied on the height above Beaugency the night before Patay. But, though several times French knights, both on foot and on horseback, rode up to the palisade and so taunted the English that some of them rushed out, the result was only skirmishing. The main body of the enemy stood firm.

When Jeanne saw that they would not come out she rode, standard in hand, up to the palisade and struck it a ringing blow hoping to excite the enemy into action. For answer the English called, “Witch! Milkmaid! Go home to your cows. If we catch you we’ll burn you.”

There were other names added, some of them vile and insulting. At the same time they waved in mocking defiance a standard copied from that of Jeanne’s, showing a distaff and spindle, and bearing the motto: “Let the fair Maid come. We’ll give her wool to spin.”

This roused the rage of the French, and thereafter no quarter was asked or given in the skirmishes that ensued when parties of the English sallied out in answer to the jibes and taunts of the French. But with all their endeavors the English were not to be stung into leaving their strong position. Later Alençon and the Maid sent a message that they would retire and give the English a fair field to deploy in, but they did not accept the offer. Bedford was not anxious for a chivalrous engagement in a fair field.

In the afternoon the English captured a few field pieces which the French had brought up to enfilade the English line. So the long summer day passed, and when it grew dusk so that friend and foe could not be distinguished from each other the French retired to their quarters. The King left them, and retired to Crépy.

Early the next morning the French withdrew, hoping that the English would follow them. But the Regent would not. As soon as he was clear of the French he retreated to Senlis and from there went to Paris. Of course the royal army should have followed him, but the triumphant spirit that filled the troops at Patay had been dissipated. The captains feared to move without the King’s sanction, and, though Jeanne counselled the pursuit, they deemed it best to join the King at Crépy.

Compiègne, Senlis, and Beauvais now made their submission to the King and the Maid. Charles marched at once to Compiègne, fifty miles from Paris. At Beauvais those persons who refused to recognize Charles were driven out with their possessions. Among these was Pierre Cauchon, its Bishop. This man never forgave Jeanne for being the cause of his losing his diocese and his revenues, and later took a dire revenge upon her.

Charles dallied at Compiègne, greatly to the distress of Jeanne, who knew the value of rapid movements. She saw too that the troops were losing heart. The King, however, was busy entangling himself with new truces with Burgundy, but of this the Maid at this time knew naught. She only knew that the fifteen days’ truce was ended, and Paris had not been delivered to her King; that August was almost spent, and that nothing had been accomplished. She grieved at the monarch’s shilly-shallying, and suspected that he was content with the grace God had given him without undertaking any further enterprise.

As the time passed without bringing action of any sort, or any promise of it, the girl’s patience became thoroughly exhausted. She had only a year to work in, she had said, and France’s King was wasting the time that should have been used for France. So one day she said to Alençon:

“My fair duke, make ready the men, for by my staff, I wish to see Paris nearer than I have seen it yet.”

The words struck a responsive chord in Alençon’s breast, and the captains gladly made ready for the march; for all were weary of inaction, and discouraged by the irresolution of the King.

On the twenty-third of August, therefore, the troops under Jeanne and Alençon set forth, making a short pause at Senlis so that the forces under the Count de Vendôme might join them. It was hoped that, moved by their example, the King would be impelled to follow them with the main body of the army; the hope proved a futile one. After three days’ march they rode into St. Denys, a town six miles from Paris, and the other sacred place of the realm.

It was the city of the Martyr Saint whose name was the war cry of France. It was also the city of the tomb; for, as Reims was the place where French kings were crowned, so St. Denys was the town where French kings were buried. From antiquity they had lain here in the great Abbey, where too was the crown of Charlemagne. There were also many sacred relics of the saints here, among them a head said to be that of Saint Denys. It was a sacred place to all French hearts.

At their approach those people who were of Anglo-Burgundian opinions retired to Paris, terrified by the dark stories of vengeance with which the emissaries of Burgundy had beguiled them, so that those who remained in the place were royalists. As she had often done of late Jeanne became godmother for two little babies, holding them at the font. When the little ones were boys she gave them the name of the King; if they were girls, and the parents had no name for them, she called them Jeanne.

There was further vexatious delay here in waiting for the coming of the King. It was a supreme moment in the affairs of the realm. All that had been gained in the summer was now to be either entirely lost, or fully perfected by this attack on the capital. Charles’s presence was needed for the authority and approval that it gave, and, too, the main body of the army was necessary for the attack as the city was too strong to be assailed with what troops Alençon and Jeanne had with them. Courier after courier was sent to the King to urge his coming, and at length Alençon rode back to entreat his presence. Reluctantly the monarch advanced to Senlis, and there stopped. “It seemed that he was advised against the Maid and the Duc d’Alençon and their company.” [20]

Meantime Jeanne employed the time in skirmishing and reconnoissances, studying the city to find the best point for the onslaught. Alençon also sent letters to the burghers, calling the dignitaries by name, and asking them to surrender to their true Lord.

The authorities in the city were not idle. They strengthened the fortifications, and frightened the people by spreading stories of the dire vengeance that Charles had sworn to wreak against them. He would deliver the city and its people of all ages and conditions to the pleasure of his soldiers, it was said; and he had also sworn to raze it to its foundations so that the plough should break the ground where Paris had stood. Terrified by these tales the citizens feared to leave the gates to gather the grapes which grew on the slopes beyond the walls, or to get the vegetables from the great gardens which lay to the north of the city.

Finally, after a fortnight, Charles arrived at Saint Denys, and his coming was hailed with delight. The army was wrought up to a high pitch of excitement, and was eager for assault. “There was no one of whatever condition who did not say, ‘The Maid will lead the King into Paris if he will let her.’”[21] Charles himself was not so eager. In truth, the last thing in the world that he desired was this attack.

In the afternoon of the day of his arrival Jeanne and the captains started toward the city walls to make the usual demonstration. The King rode with them.

Now at Blois, at Orléans, on the march to Reims the army of men was orderly, clean confessed and of holy life; but it was no longer what it had been. It is idleness that demoralizes and disorganizes men on the march or in camp. Action keeps them in trim, and in a righteous way of living. The personnel of the troops was no longer what it had been before Orléans. After the coronation men had flocked in from every quarter; soldiers of the robber companies, rude, foul, and disorderly. They revered the Maid for her saintly manner of life, but continued to practice their own vices, greatly to her distress.

So now as the King and the Maid rode from the town toward the walls of the city one of the vile women who followed the camp thrust herself forward boldly from the crowd of people who had gathered to watch the passing of the monarch and the girl, and leered insolently at them. At this, all of Jeanne’s youthful purity was roused to a blaze of indignation, and she brought up her sword quickly, and smote the creature a smart blow with the flat side of the weapon.

“Get you gone,” she cried sharply.

Instantly at the touch of the unclean thing the blade parted in two. One piece fell to the ground, and Jeanne, stricken by the happening, sat gazing silently at what remained in her hand.

“’Tis the holy sword,” exclaimed Charles, aghast. “Are there no cudgels to be had that you should use the sacred weapon? I like not the omen.”

Jeanne made no reply. She could not. All about her ran whispers and outcries as news of the incident flew from lip to lip. Soon the story was spread through the army. The Maid had broken the miraculous sword. It was a bad portent, and men shook their heads, saying that it boded ill for future enterprise. The King sent the sword to his own armourers to be mended, “but they could not do it, nor put the pieces together again; which is great proof that the sword came to her divinely.”[22]

At a Council held later it was determined that an attack on Paris should be made the next day, and thereupon the troops withdrew to La Chapelle, a village midway between St. Denys and Paris, and encamped there for the night. But the King remained at St. Denys.

“I like not the day, gentle duke,” said Jeanne protestingly to Alençon. “To-morrow is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother of God. It is not meet to fight on such a day.”

“We must, Jeanne. We have been insistent that the assault should be made; and if we decline now La Trémouille will persuade the King that we are the cause of the delay.”

“True,” agreed the maiden. “Well, we will make the attack, fair duke. After all, it is the duty of Frenchmen to fight the enemy whenever need arises, be the day what it may.”

Yet in spite of her words it was with reluctance that Jeanne prepared for the assault the next morning. It was the eighth of September, upon which day fell the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, a great festival of the church. The church bells of La Chapelle were ringing as she rose, and faintly the bells of Paris and St. Denys tinkled an answer to the summons to the faithful. All the citizens of Paris would be at church, for no one would expect an attack upon such a day, and Jeanne would far rather have spent the time before the altar. She did not wish the assault, but yielded to Alençon and the captains.

The troops made a late start, it being eight o’clock before they marched out of La Chapelle, and wended their way toward Paris. The morning was bright and beautiful, though unusually warm for the season. In the sunshine the towers and battlements of the city gleamed and glistened. It was a great city; far greater than Orléans, and a prize worth fighting for, but the chances of taking it had diminished by the dalliance of the King.

The morning was entirely consumed in placing the ordnance, and getting ready for the assault. The point of attack was to be a place between the gates of St. Honoré and St. Denys, which Jeanne was to lead with Rais and Gaucourt, while Alençon, placing his guns in the swine market near the gate, stationed his force behind the Windmill Hill which sloped above the market. This was done to guard the rear from a possible attack from a sally of the English from the St. Denys Gate. The main body of the army was posted as a reserve out of range. The King did not leave St. Denys. Charles was the only prince in Europe who did not lead his own army in the field. All was in readiness, when Jeanne learned to her great surprise that no serious assault was intended. It was to be an effort to cause tumult and surrender in the city. The Maid determined to force the fighting to an issue.

At two o’clock in the afternoon the trumpet sounded the call, and the roar and rebound of cannon began, the artillery plying the boulevard or earthwork which protected the Gate of St. Honoré. The palisade weakened; presently the pales fell with a crash, and the earthen wall of the boulevard stood beyond. With a shout, “Mont-joie St. Denys!” the French rushed forward with scaling ladders, and began the escalade, their friends backing them by shooting of arbalests from behind the remnant of the palisade. By sheer impetuosity they carried the outpost, and poured over the walls pell-mell, driving its defenders before them back to the fortifications of the gate itself.

All at once their furious advance was brought to a sudden check; for before them lay two wide deep ditches, one dry, the other full of water, which here guarded the walls of the gate. The archers and gunners on the ramparts above jeered mockingly at the halted French, and sent a rain of stones and arrows down at them, waving their banners, which mingled the leopards of England with the rampant two-tailed lion of Burgundy.

Jeanne was of course at the head of her men, and only for a moment did she permit them to pause before the set-back. Calling loudly for faggots and beams to bridge the moat she descended into the dry fosse, then climbed out again to the shelving ridge which divided the two trenches. Some of the men ran for the bundles of wood and bridging material, while the others followed her to the ridge. Dismay again seized them as the wide deep moat full to the brim with water stretched before them. But Jeanne was not daunted. Handing her standard to a man at her side, she took a lance and tested the water amid a shower of arrows and stones.

“Surrender,” she called to the men on the walls. “Surrender to the King of France.”

“Witch! Evil One!” they shouted in answer.

By this time the soldiers had brought bundles of wood, faggots, and whatever would help to fill the moat, Jeanne calling encouragingly to them the while. Presently they were enabled to struggle across, and the charge began. At this instant, as had been arranged, a great commotion was heard in the city, the loyalists running through the streets and shouting: “All is lost! The enemy has entered.” It was hoped that this would help the King’s troops without the gates. The people in the churches, panic-stricken, rushed to their homes, shutting their doors behind them, but there was nothing gained. The garrison kept their heads, and their numbers at the gates and on the ramparts were increased.

The firing now became very heavy; the artillery bellowed and the guns roared in answer. There were shouts of men, and words of order. And through the rattle of guns, the whizzing rush of stones, the smiting with axe or sword on wooden barrier and steel harness, the hundreds of war cries there sounded the wonderful, silvery tones of a girl’s voice, clear as a clarion call:

“On! On, friends! They are ours.”

On the shelving ridge between the two ditches stood the Maid, her white armour gleaming in the sunshine, a shining figure, exposed to every shot and missile. Hour after hour she stood, in the heat of the fire, shouting directions to her men, urging, cheering them while always the struggle raged around her, her banner floating over her head. Suddenly a mighty shout of joy went up from the men on the walls. Three times the roar rent the din of battle. For the Witch had fallen, pierced through the thigh by a bolt from a crossbow.

Undismayed, Jeanne struggled to her feet, when the man at her side who bore her standard was hit in the foot. Lifting his visor to pull the arrow from the wound he was struck between the eyes, and fell dead at the maiden’s feet. Jeanne caught the standard as he fell, but for a moment her own strength failed her, and she sank beside the standard bearer. When her men would have borne her out of the battle she would not consent, but rallied them to the charge. Then slowly, painfully, she crept behind a heap of stones, and soon the dauntless voice rang out:

“Friends! Friends! be of good cheer. On! On!”

And so, wounded, weak, unable to stand she lay, urging the soldiers on, and on. There never was anything like it. Whence came that indomitable spirit and courage? “A Daughter of God” her voices called her, and truly was she so named. For who that had not kinship with the Divine could transcend the weakness of the flesh as did this girl of seventeen?

Fiercer grew the din, and fiercer. The heat became stifling. Hours passed, and the day waxed old. The sun set; twilight fell, and the dusk came. The shots were fewer and more scattering, and then they stopped. The two French captains had had enough for one day, for the attack had been confined to the forces under Jeanne, Rais and de Gaucourt, and the trumpet sounded the recall. But Jeanne did not heed, but kept crying her men on to the charge. She herself could not move to lead them, the supporting army was out of range, and the men would not go further without her. Gaucourt ordered his men to bring her out of the fire. Jeanne protested, but weeping she was carried back, set in the saddle and conveyed back to La Chapelle. Over and over she cried:

“It could have been taken! It could have been taken!”

Early the next morning in spite of her wound she went to Alençon, begging him to sound the trumpets and mount for the return to Paris.

“Never will I leave,” she declared, “until the city is taken.”

Alençon was of like mind, but some of the captains thought otherwise. Some of the troops were reluctant to assault again; for there were whispers that the Maid had failed. That she had promised them to enter the city, and Paris had not been taken. They recalled the omen of the mystic sword, and shook their heads. They had forgotten that it took nearly a week to free Orléans from the siege, and Paris was a larger city. Jeanne had had but part of one day for the attack. While the captains were debating the advisability of renewing the assault a cavalcade of fifty or sixty gentlemen under the Baron de Montmorency, who had been a Burgundian for many years, rode up, and offered his services to the Maid. It was a joyful augury, and it was so encouraging that an immediate assault was planned. Just as they were setting forth two gentlemen arrived from St. Denys. They were René Duc de Bar, and Charles de Bourbon, and they bore the King’s orders that no further attack upon Paris should be made, and that the Maid with the other leaders must return at once to St. Denys.

There was a storm of remonstrance and appeal, but the gentlemen were peremptory in their insistence. Such a command could not be disregarded, so with heavy hearts the entire force obeyed the summons. As they had expected that the attack would be renewed the following day the siege material had been left on the field, and there was not time to return for it. The King made no explanation when they reached St. Denys, and disconsolately the captains discussed the matter.

Now Alençon had built a bridge across the Seine above Paris, expecting to make an onset upon the south as well as the north of the city, and Jeanne and he decided secretly to make a new effort in that direction. Accordingly they slipped away very early the next morning, which was September tenth, with a few chosen troops, and rode hastily to the place. The bridge was in ruins. It had been destroyed in the night; not by their enemies, but by the King. Sadly the two with their men rode back to the “City of the Tomb,” which had become the grave of their hopes.

Jeanne’s heart was hot with disappointment and the thwarting of all her plans, and leaving Alençon she crept painfully to the chapel of the Abbey, and knelt for a long time before the image of the Virgin. After a time she rose, and slowly, awkwardly, for she was without her squire, unbuckled her armour, and laid it piece by piece upon the altar, until at length the complete suit lay there. With a gesture of infinite yearning she stretched her hands over it.

“To Saint Denys,” she said with quivering lips. Turning she went slowly from the Abbey.

Jeanne, the invincible Maid, had met her first defeat at the hands of her King.

[19] Scrofula. It was believed it could be cured by the touch of a King.
[20] Percéval De Cagny.
[21] De Cagny.
[22] Jean Chartier.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS                          CONTINUE to CHAPTER 24 Warrior Maid

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