Part 3 out of 5
advisers and defeat them. Marveling over this, and astonished at it,
we fell silent and spoke no more. We had come to know that she
was great in courage, fortitude, endurance, patience, conviction,
fidelity to all duties--in all things, indeed, that make a good and
trusty soldier and perfect him for his post; now we were beginning
to feel that maybe there were greatnesses in her brain that were
even greater than these great qualities of the heart. It set us
What Joan did that day bore fruit the very day after. The King was
obliged to respect the spirit of a young girl who could hold her
own and stand her ground like that, and he asserted himself
sufficiently to put his respect into an act instead of into polite and
empty words. He moved Joan out of that poor inn, and housed her,
with us her servants, in the Castle of Courdray, personally
confiding her to the care of Madame de Bellier, wife of old Raoul
de Gaucourt, Master of the Palace. Of course, this royal attention
had an immediate result: all the great lords and ladies of the Court
began to flock there to see and listen to the wonderful girl-soldier
that all the world was talking about, and who had answered the
King's mandate with a bland refusal to obey. Joan charmed them
every one with her sweetness and simplicity and unconscious
eloquence, and all the best and capablest among them recognized
that there was an indefinable something about her that testified
that she was not made of common clay, that she was built on a
grander plan than the mass of mankind, and moved on a loftier
plane. These spread her fame. She always made friends and
advocates that way; neither the high nor the low could come
within the sound of her voice and the sight of her face and go out
from her presence indifferent.
Chapter 6 Joan Convinces the King
WELL, anything to make delay. The King's council advised him
against arriving at a decision in our matter too precipitately. He
arrive at a decision too precipitately! So they sent a committee of
priests--always priests--into Lorraine to inquire into Joan's
character and history--a matter which would consume several
weeks, of course. You see how fastidious they were. It was as if
people should come to put out the fire when a man's house was
burning down, and they waited till they could send into another
country to find out if he had always kept the Sabbath or not, before
letting him try.
So the days poked along; dreary for us young people in some ways,
but not in all, for we had one great anticipation in front of us; we
had never seen a king, and now some day we should have that
prodigious spectacle to see and to treasure in our memories all our
lives; so we were on the lookout, and always eager and watching
for the chance. The others were doomed to wait longer than I, as it
turned out. One day great news came--the Orleans commissioners,
with Yolande and our knights, had at last turned the council's
position and persuaded the King to see Joan.
Joan received the immense news gratefully but without losing her
head, but with us others it was otherwise; we could not eat or sleep
or do any rational thing for the excitement and the glory of it.
During two days our pair of noble knights were in distress and
trepidation on Joan's account, for the audience was to be at night,
and they were afraid that Joan would be so paralyzed by the glare
of light from the long files of torches, the solemn pomps and
ceremonies, the great concourse of renowned personages, the
brilliant costumes, and the other splendors of the Court, that she, a
simple country-maid, and all unused to such things, would be
overcome by these terrors and make a piteous failure.
No doubt I could have comforted them, but I was not free to speak.
Would Joan be disturbed by this cheap spectacle, this tinsel show,
with its small King and his butterfly dukelets?--she who had
spoken face to face with the princes of heaven, the familiars of
God, and seen their retinue of angels stretching back into the
remoteness of the sky, myriads upon myriads, like a measureless
fan of light, a glory like the glory of the sun streaming from each
of those innumerable heads, the massed radiance filling the deeps
of space with a blinding splendor? I thought not.
Queen Yolande wanted Joan to make the best possible impression
upon the King and the Court, so she was strenuous to have her
clothed in the richest stuffs, wrought upon the princeliest pattern,
and set off with jewels; but in that she had to be disappointed, of
course, Joan not being persuadable to it, but begging to be simply
and sincerely dressed, as became a servant of God, and one sent
upon a mission of a serious sort and grave political import. So then
the gracious Queen imagined and contrived that simple and
witching costume which I have described to you so many times,
and which I cannot think of even now in my dull age without being
moved just as rhythmical and exquisite music moves one; for that
was music, that dress--that is what it was--music that one saw with
a the eyes and felt in the heart. Yes, she was a poem, she was a
dream, she was a spirit when she was clothed in that.
She kept that raiment always, and wore it several times upon
occasions of state, and it is preserved to this day in the Treasury of
Orleans, with two of her swords, and her banner, and other things
now sacred because they had belonged to her.
At the appointed time the Count of Vend�me, a great lord of the
court, came richly clothed, with his train of servants and assistants,
to conduct Joan to the King, and the two knights and I went with
her, being entitled to this privilege by reason of our official
positions near her person.
When we entered the great audience-hall, there it all was just as I
have already painted it. Here were ranks of guards in shining
armor and with polished halberds; two sides of the hall were like
flower-gardens for variety of color and the magnificence of the
costumes; light streamed upon these masses of color from two
hundred and fifty flambeaux. There was a wide free space down
the middle of the hall, and at the end of it was a throne royally
canopied, and upon it sat a crowned and sceptered figure nobly
clothed and blazing with jewels.
It is true that Joan had been hindered and put off a good while, but
now that she was admitted to an audience at last, she was received
with honors granted to only the greatest personages. At the
entrance door stood four heralds in a row, in splendid tabards, with
long slender silver trumpets at their mouths, with square silken
banners depending from them embroidered with the arms of
France. As Joan and the Count passed by, these trumpets gave
forth in unison one long rich note, and as we moved down the hall
under the pictured and gilded vaulting, this was repeated at every
fifty feet of our progress--six times in all. It made our good knights
proud and happy, and they held themselves erect, and stiffened
their stride, and looked fine and soldierly. They were not expecting
this beautiful and honorable tribute to our little country-maid.
Joan walked two yards behind the Count, we three walked two
yards behind Joan. Our solemn march ended when we were as yet
some eight or ten steps from the throne. The Count made a deep
obeisance, pronounced Joan's name, then bowed again and moved
to his place among a group of officials near the throne. I was
devouring the crowned personage with all my eyes, and my heart
almost stgood still with awe.
The eyes of all others were fixed upon Joan in a gaze of wonder
which was half worship, and which seemed to say, "How
sweet--how lovely--how divine!" All lips were parted and
motionless, which was a sure sign that those people, who seldom
forget themselves, had forgotten themselves now, and were not
conscious of anything but the one object they were gazing upon.
They had the look of people who are under the enchantment of a
Then they presently began to come to life again, rousing
themselves out of the spell and shaking it off as one drives away
little by little a clinging drowsiness or intoxication. Now they fixed
their attention upon Joan with a strong new interest of another
sort; they were full of curiosity to see what she would do--they
having a secret and particular reason for this curiosity. So they
watched. This is what they saw:
She made no obeisance, nor even any slight inclination of her
head, but stood looking toward the throne in silence. That was all
there was to see at present.
I glanced up at De Metz, and was shocked at the paleness of his
face. I whispered and said:
"What is it, man, what is it?"
His answering whisper was so weak I could hardly catch it:
"They have taken advantage of the hint in her letter to play a trick
upon her! She will err, and they will laugh at her. That is not the
King that sits there."
Then I glanced at Joan. She was still gazing steadfastly toward the
throne, and I had the curious fancy that even her shoulders and the
back of her head expressed bewilderment. Now she turned her
head slowly, and her eye wandered along the lines of standing
courtiers till it fell upon a young man who was very quietly
dressed; then her face lighted joyously, and she ran and threw
herself at his feet, and clasped his knees, exclaiming in that soft
melodious voice which was her birthright and was now charged
with deep and tender feeling:
"God of his grace give you long life, O dear and gentle Dauphin!"
In his astonishment and exultation De Metz cried out:
"By the shadow of God, it is an amazing thing!" Then he mashed
all the bones of my hand in his grateful grip, and added, with a
proud shake of his mane, "Now, what have these painted infidels
Meantime the young person in the plain clothes was saying to
"Ah, you mistake, my child, I am not the King. There he is," and
he pointed to the throne.
The knight's face clouded, and he muttered in grief and
"Ah, it is a shame to use her so. But for this lie she had gone
through safe. I will go and proclaim to all the house what--"
"Stay where you are!" whispered I and the Sieur Bertrand in a
breath, and made him stop in his place.
Joan did not stir from her knees, but still lifted her happy face
toward the King, and said:
"No, gracious liege, you are he, and none other."
De Metz's troubles vanished away, and he said:
"Verily, she was not guessing, she knew. Now, how could she
know? It is a miracle. I am content, and will meddle no more, for I
perceive that she is equal to her occasions, having that in her head
that cannot profitably be helped by the vacancy that is in mine."
This interruption of his lost me a remark or two of the other talk;
however, I caught the King's next question:
"But tell me who you are, and what would you?"
"I am called Joan the Maid, and am sent to say that the King of
Heaven wills that you be crowned and consecrated in your good
city of Rheims, and be thereafter Lieutenant of the Lord of
Heaven, who is King of France. And He willeth also that you set
me at my appointed work and give me men-at-arms." After a slight
pause she added, her eye lighting at the sound of her words, "For
then will I raise the siege of Orleans and break the English power!"
The young monarch's amused face sobered a little when this
martial speech fell upon that sick air like a breath blown from
embattled camps and fields of war, and this trifling smile presently
faded wholly away and disappeared. He was grave now, and
thoughtful. After a little he waved his hand lightly, and all the
people fell away and left those two by themselves in a vacant
space. The knights and I moved to the opposite side of the hall and
stood there. We saw Joan rise at a sign, then she and the King
talked privately together.
All that host had been consumed with curiosity to see what Joan
would do. Well, they had seen, and now they were full of
astonishment to see that she had really performed that strange
miracle according to the promise in her letter; and they were fully
as much astonished to find that she was not overcome by the
pomps and splendors about her, but was even more tranquil and at
her ease in holding speech with a monarch than ever they
themselves had been, with all their practice and experience.
As for our two knights, they were inflated beyond measure with
pride in Joan, but nearly dumb, as to speech, they not being able to
think out any way to account for her managing to carry herself
through this imposing ordeal without ever a mistake or an
awkwardness of any kind to mar the grace and credit of her great
The talk between Joan and the King was long and earnest, and held
in low voices. We could not hear, but we had our eyes and could
note effects; and presently we and all the house noted one effect
which was memorable and striking, and has been set down in
memoirs and histories and in testimony at the Process of
Rehabilitation by some who witnessed it; for all knew it was big
with meaning, though none knew what that meaning was at that
time, of course. For suddenly we saw the King shake off his
indolent attitude and straighten up like a man, and at the same
time look immeasurably astonished. It was as if Joan had told him
something almost too wonderful for belief, and yet of a most
uplifting and welcome nature.
It was long before we found out the secret of this conversation, but
we know it now, and all the world knows it. That part of the talk
was like this--as one may read in all histories. The perplexed King
asked Joan for a sign. He wanted to believe in her and her mission,
and that her Voices were supernatural and endowed with
knowledge hidden from mortals, but how could he do this unless
these Voices could prove their claim in some absolutely
unassailable way? It was then that Joan said:
"I will give you a sign, and you shall no more doubt. There is a
secret trouble in your heart which you speak of to none--a doubt
which wastes away your courage, and makes you dream of
throwing all away and fleeing from your realm. Within this little
while you have been praying, in your own breast, that God of his
grace would resolve that doubt, even if the doing of it must show
you that no kingly right is lodged in you."
It was that that amazed the King, for it was as she had said: his
prayer was the secret of his own breast, and none but God could
know about it. So he said:
"The sign is sufficient. I know now that these Voices are of God.
They have said true in this matter; if they have said more, tell it
me--I will believe."
"They have resolved that doubt, and I bring their very words,
which are these: Thou art lawful heir to the King thy father, and
true heir of France. God has spoken it. Now lift up they head, and
doubt no more, but give me men-at-arms and let me get about my
Telling him he was of lawful birth was what straightened him up
and made a man of him for a moment, removing his doubts upon
that head and convincing him of his royal right; and if any could
have hanged his hindering and pestiferous council and set him
free, he would have answered Joan's prayer and set her in the field.
But no, those creatures were only checked, not checkmated; they
could invent some more delays.
We had been made proud by the honors which had so
distinguished Joan's entrance into that place--honors restricted to
personages of very high rank and worth--but that pride was as
nothing compared with the pride we had in the honor done her
upon leaving it. For whereas those first honors were shown only to
the great, these last, up to this time, had been shown only to the
royal. The King himself led Joan by the hand down the great hall
to the door, the glittering multitude standing and making reverence
as they passed, and the silver trumpets sounding those rich notes of
theirs. Then he dismissed her with gracious words, bending low
over her hand and kissing it. Always--from all companies, high or
low--she went forth richer in honor and esteem than when she
And the King did another handsome thing by Joan, for he sent us
back to Courdray Castle torch-lighted and in state, under escort of
his own troop--his guard of honor--the only soldiers he had; and
finely equipped and bedizened they were, too, though they hadn't
seen the color of their wages since they were children, as a body
might say. The wonders which Joan had been performing before
the King had been carried all around by this time, so the road was
so packed with people who wanted to get a sight of her that we
could hardly dig through; and as for talking together, we couldn't,
all attempts at talk being drowned in the storm of shoutings and
huzzas that broke out all along as we passed, and kept abreast of us
like a wave the whole way.
Chapter 7 Our Paladin in His Glory
WE WERE doomed to suffer tedious waits and delays, and we
settled ourselves down to our fate and bore it with a dreary
patience, counting the slow hours and the dull days and hoping for
a turn when God should please to send it. The Paladin was the only
exception--that is to say, he was the only one who was happy and
had no heavy times. This was partly owing to the satisfaction he
got out of his clothes. He bought them at second hand--a Spanish
cavalier's complete suit, wide-brimmed hat with flowing plumes,
lace collar and cuffs, faded velvet doublet and trunks, short cloak
hung from the shoulder, funnel-topped buskins, long rapier, and all
that--a graceful and picturesque costume, and the Paladin's great
frame was the right place to hang it for effect. He wore it when off
duty; and when he swaggered by with one hand resting on the hilt
of his rapier, and twirling his new mustache with the other,
everybody stopped to look and admire; and well they might, for he
was a fine and stately contrast to the small French gentlemen of
the day squeezed into the trivial French costume of the time.
He was king bee of the little village that snuggled under the shelter
of the frowning towers and bastions of Courdray Castle, and
acknowledged lord of the tap-room of the inn. When he opened his
mouth there, he got a hearing. Those simple artisans and peasants
listened with deep and wondering interest; for he was a traveler
and had seen the world--all of it that lay between Chinon and
Domremy, at any rate--and that was a wide stretch more of it than
they might ever hope to see; and he had been in battle, and knew
how to paint its shock and struggle, its perils and surprised, with
an art that was all his own. He was cock of that walk, hero of that
hostelry; he drew custom as honey draws flies; so he was the pet of
the innkeeper, and of his wife and daughter, and they were his
obliged and willing servants.
Most people who have the narrative gift--that great and rare
endowment--have with it the defect of telling their choice things
over the same way every time, and this injures them and causes
them to sound stale and wearisome after several repetitions; but it
was not so with the Paladin, whose art was of a finer sort; it was
more stirring and interesting to hear him tell about a battle the
tenth time than it was the first time, because he did not tell it twice
the same way, but always made a new battle of it and a better one,
with more casualties on the enemy's side each time, and more
general wreck and disaster all around, and more widows and
orphans and suffering in the neighborhood where it happened. He
could not tell his battles apart himself, except by their names; and
by the time he had told one of then ten times it had grown so that
there wasn't room enough in France for it any more, but was
lapping over the edges. But up to that point the audience would not
allow him to substitute a new battle, knowing that the old ones
were the best, and sure to imporve as long as France could hold
them; and so, instead of saying to him as they would have said to
another, "Give us something fresh, we are fatigued with that old
thing," they would say, with one voice and with a strong interest,
"Tell about the surprise at Beaulieu again--tell in three or four
times!" That is a compliment which few narrative experts have
heard in their lifetime.
At first when the Paladin heard us tell about the glories of the
Royal Audience he was broken-hearted because he was not taken
with us to it; next, his talk was full of what he would have done if
he had been there; and within two days he was telling what he did
do when he was there. His mill was fairly started, now, and could
be trusted to take care of its affair. Within three nights afterward
all his battles were taking a rest, for already his worshipers in the
tap-room were so infatuated with the great tale of the Royal
Audience that they would have nothing else, and so besotted with
it were they that they would have cried if they could not have
No�l Rainguesson hid himself and heard it, and came and told me,
and after that we went together to listen, bribing the inn hostess to
let us have her little private parlor, where we could stand at the
wickets in the door and see and hear.
The tap-room was large, yet had a snug and cozy look, with its
inviting little tables and chairs scattered irregularly over its red
brick floor, and its great fire flaming and crackling in the wide
chimney. It was a comfortable place to be in on such chilly and
blustering March nights as these, and a goodly company had taken
shelter there, and were sipping their wine in contentment and
gossiping one with another in a neighborly way while they waited
for the historian. The host, the hostess, and their pretty daughter
were flying here and there and yonder among the tables and doing
their best to keep up with the orders. The room was about forty
feet square, and a space or aisle down the center of it had been
kept vacant and reserved for the Paladin's needs. At the end of it
was a platform ten or twelve feet wide, with a big chair and a
small table on it, and three steps leading up to it.
Among the wine-sippers were many familiar faces: the cobbler, the
farrier, the blacksmith, the wheelwright, the armorer, the maltster,
the weaver, the backer, the miller's man with his dusty coat, and so
on; and conscious and important, as a matter of course, was the
barber-surgeon, for he is that in all villages. As he has to pull
everybody's teeth and purge and bleed all the grown people once a
month to keep their health sound, he knows everybody, and by
constant contact with all sorts of folk becomes a master of
etiquette and manners and a conversationalist of large facility.
There were plenty of carriers, drovers, and their sort, and
When the Paladin presently came sauntering indolently in, he was
received with a cheer, and the barber hustled forward and greeted
him with several low and most graceful and courtly bows, also
taking his hand an touching his lips to it. Then he called in a loud
voice for a stoup of wine for the Paladin, and when the host's
daughter brought it up on the platform and dropped her courtesy
and departed, the barber called after her, and told her to add the
wine to his score. This won him ejaculations of approval, which
pleased him very much and made his little rat-eyes shine; and such
applause is right and proper, for when we do a liberal and gallant
thing it is but natural that we should wish to see notice taken of it.
The barber called upon the people to rise and drink the Paladin's
health, and they did it with alacrity and affectionate heartiness,
clashing their metal flagons together with a simultaneous crash,
and heightening the effect with a resounding cheer. It was a fine
thing to see how that young swashbuckler had made himself so
popular in a strange land in so little a while, and without other
helps to his advancement than just his tongue and the talent to use
it given him by God--a talent which was but one talent in the
beginning, but was now become ten through husbandry and the
increment and usufruct that do naturally follow that and reward it
as by a law.
The people sat down and began to hammer on the tables with their
flagons and call for "the King's Audience!--the King's
Audience!--the King's Audience!" The Paladin stood there in one
of his best attitudes, with his plumed great hat tipped over to the
left, the folds of his short cloak drooping from his shoulder, and
the one hand resting upon the hilt of his rapier and the other lifting
his beaker. As the noise died down he made a stately sort of a bow,
which he had picked up somewhere, then fetched his beaker with a
sweep to his lips and tilted his head back and rained it to the
bottom. The barber jumped for it and set it upon the Paladin's
table. Then the Paladin began to walk up and down his platform
with a great deal of dignity and quite at his ease; and as he walked
he talked, and every little while stopped and stood facing his house
and so standing continued his talk.
We went three nights in succession. It was plain that there was a
charm about the performance that was apart from the mere interest
which attaches to lying. It was presently discoverable that this
charm lay in the Paladin's sincerity. He was not lying consciously;
he believed what he was saying. To him, his initial statements
were facts, and whenever he enlarged a statement, the enlargement
became a fact too. He put his heart into his extravagant narrative,
just as a poet puts his heart into a heroic fiction, and his
earnestness disarmed criticism--disarmed it as far as he himself
was concerned. Nobody believed his narrative, but all believed that
he believed it.
He made his enlargements without flourish, without emphasis, and
so casually that often one failed to notice that a change had been
made. He spoke of the governor of Vaucouleurs, the first night,
simply as the governor of Vaucouleurs; he spoke of him the
second night as his uncle the governor of Vaucouleurs; the third
night he was his father. He did not seem to know that he was
making these extraordinary changes; they dropped from his lips in
a quite natural and effortless way. By his first night's account the
governor merely attached him to the Maid's military escort in a
general and unofficial way; the second night his uncle the governor
sent him with the Maid as lieutenant of her rear guard; the third
night his father the governor put the whole command, Maid and
all, in his special charge. The first night the governor spoke of his
as a youth without name or ancestry, but "destined to achieve
both"; the second night his uncle the governor spoke of him as the
latest and worthiest lineal descendent of the chiefest and noblest of
the Twelve Paladins of Charlemagne; the third night he spoke of
his as the lineal descendent of the whole dozen. In three nights he
promoted the Count of Vend�me from a fresh acquaintance to a
schoolmate, and then brother-in-law.
At the King's Audience everything grew, in the same way. First the
four silver trumpets were twelve, then thirty-five, finally
ninety-six; and byk that time he had thrown in so many drums and
cymbals that he had to lengthen the hall from five hundred feet to
nine hundred to accommodate them. Under his hand the people
present multiplied in the same large way.
The first two nights he contented himself with merely describing
and exaggerating the chief dramatic incident of the Audience, but
the third night he added illustration to description. He throned the
barber in his own high chair to represent the sham King; then he
told how the Court watched the Maid with intense interest and
suppressed merriment, expecting to see her fooled by the
deception and get herself swept permanently out of credit by the
storm of scornful laughter which would follow. He worked this
scene up till he got his house in a burning fever of excitement and
anticipation, then came his climax. Turning to the barber, he said:
"But mark you what she did. She gazed steadfastly upon that
sham's villain face as I now gaze upon yourse--this being her noble
and simple attitude, just as I stand now--then turned she--thus--to
me, and stretching her arm out--so--and pointing with her finger,
she said, in that firm, calm tone which she was used to use in
directing the conduct of a battle, 'Pluck me this false knave from
the throne!' I, striding forward as I do now, took him by the collar
and lifted him out and held him aloft--thus--as it he had been but a
child." (The house rose, shouting, stamping, and banging with their
flagons, and went fairly mad over this magnificent exhibition of
strength--and there was not the shadow of a laugh anywhere,
though the spectacle of the limp but proud barber hanging there in
the air like a puppy held by the scruff of its neck was a thing that
had nothing of solemnity about it.) "Then I set him down upon his
feet--thus-- being minded to get him by a better hold and heave
him out of the window, but she bid me forbear, so by that error he
escaped with his life.
"Then she turned her about and viewed the throng with those eyes
of hers, which are the clear-shining windows whence her immortal
wisdom looketh out upon the world, resolving its falsities and
coming at the kernel of truth that is hid within them, and presently
they fell upon a young man modestly clothed, and him she
proclaimed for what he truly was, saying, 'I am thy servant--thou
art the King!' Then all were astonished, and a great shout went up,
the whole six thousand joining in it, so that the walls rocked with
the volume and the tumult of it."
He made a fine and picturesque thing of the march-out from the
Audience, augmenting the glories of it to the last limit of the
impossibilities; then he took from his finger and held up a brass
nut from a bolt-head which the head ostler at the castle had given
him that morning, and made his conclusion--thus:
"Then the King dismissed the Maid most graciously--as indeed
was her desert--and, turning to me, said, 'Take this signet-ring, son
of the Paladins, and command me with it in your day of need; and
look you,' said he, touching my temple, 'preserve this brain, France
has use for it; and look well to its casket also, for I foresee that it
will be hooped with a ducal coronet one day.' I took the ring, and
knelt and kissed his hand, saying, 'Sire, where glory calls, there
will I be found; where danger and death are thickest, that is my
native air; when France and the throne need help--well, I say
nothing, for I am not of the talking sort--let my deeds speak for
me, it is all I ask.'
"So ended the most fortunate and memorable episode, so big with
future weal for the crown and the nation, and unto God be the
thanks! Rise! Fill you flagons! Now--to France and the
They emptied them to the bottom, then burst into cheers and
huzzas, and kept it up as much as two minutes, the Paladin
standing at stately ease the while and smiling benignantly from his
Chapter 8 Joan Persuades Her Inquisitors
WHEN JOAN told the King what that deep secret was that was
torturing his heart, his doubts were cleared away; he believed she
was sent of God, and if he had been let alone he would have set
her upon her great mission at once. But he was not let alone.
Tremouille and the holy fox of Rheims knew their man. All they
needed to say was this--and they said it:
"Your Highness says her Voices have revealed to you, by her
mouth, a secret known only to yourself and God. How can you
know that her Voices are not of Satan, and she his
mouthpiece?--for does not Satan know the secrets of men and use
his knowledge for the destruction of their souls? It is a dangerous
business, and your Highness will do well not to proceed in it
without probing the matter to the bottom."
That was enough. It shriveled up the King's little soul like a raisin,
with terrors and apprehensions, and straightway he privately
appointed a commission of bishops to visit and question Joan daily
until they should find out whether her supernatural helps hailed
from heaven or from hell.
The King's relative, the Duke of Alen�on, three years prisoner of
war to the English, was in these days released from captivity
through promise of a great ransom; and the name and fame of the
Maid having reached him--for the same filled all mouths now, and
penetrated to all parts--he came to Chinon to see with his own eyes
what manner of creature she might be. The King sent for Joan and
introduced her to the Duke. She said, in her simple fashion:
"You are welcome; the more of the blood of France that is joined
to this cause, the better for the cause and it."
Then the two talked together, and there was just the usual result:
when they departed, the Duke was her friend and advocate.
Joan attended the King's mass the next day, and afterward dined
with the King and the Duke. The King was learning to prize her
company and value her conversation; and that might well be, for,
like other kings, he was used to getting nothing out of people's talk
but guarded phrases, colorless and non-committal, or carefully
tinted to tally with the color of what he said himself; and so this
kind of conversation only vexes and bores, and is wearisome; but
Joan's talk was fresh and free, sincere and honest, and unmarred by
timorous self-watching and constraint. She said the very thing that
was in her mind, and said it in a plain, straightforward way. One
can believe that to the King this must have been like fresh cold
water from the mountains to parched lips used to the water of the
sun-baked puddles of the plain.
After dinner Joan so charmed the Duke with her horsemanship and
lance practice in the meadows by the Castle of Chinon whither the
King also had come to look on, that he made her a present of a
great black war-steed.
Every day the commission of bishops came and questioned Joan
about her Voices and her mission, and then went to the King with
their report. These pryings accomplished but little. She told as
much as she considered advisable, and kept the rest to herself.
Both threats and trickeries were wasted upon her. She did not care
for the threats, and the traps caught nothing. She was perfectly
frank and childlike about these things. She knew the bishops were
sent by the King, that their questions were the King's questions,
and that by all law and custom a King's questions must be
answered; yet she told the King in her na�ve way at his own table
one day that she answered only such of those questions as suited
The bishops finally concluded that they couldn't tell whether Joan
was sent by God or not. They were cautious, you see. There were
two powerful parties at Court; therefore to make a decision either
way would infallibly embroil them with one of those parties; so it
seemed to them wisest to roost on the fence and shift the burden to
other shoulders. And that is what they did. They made final report
that Joan's case was beyond their powers, and recommended that it
be put into the hands of the learned and illustrious doctors of the
University of Poitiers. Then they retired from the field, leaving
behind them this little item of testimony, wrung from them by
Joan's wise reticence: they said she was a "gentle and simple little
shepherdess, very candid, but not given to talking."
It was quite true--in their case. But if they could have looked back
and seen her with us in the happy pastures of Domremy, they
would have perceived that she had a tongue that could go fast
enough when no harm could come of her words.
So we traveled to Poitiers, to endure there three weeks of tedious
delay while this poor child was being daily questioned and
badgered before a great bench of--what? Military experts?--since
what she had come to apply for was an army and the privilege of
leading it to battle against the enemies of France. Oh no; it was a
great bench of priests and monks--profoundly leaned and astute
casuists--renowned professors of theology! Instead of setting a
military commission to find out if this valorous little soldier could
win victories, they set a company of holy hair-splitters and
phrase-mongers to work to find out if the soldier was sound in her
piety and had no doctrinal leaks. The rats were devouring the
house, but instead of examining the cat's teeth and claws, they only
concerned themselves to find out if it was a holy cat. If it was a
pious cat, a moral cat, all right, never mind about the other
capacities, they were of no consequence.
Joan was as sweetly self-possessed and tranquil before this grim
tribunal, with its robed celebrities, its solemn state and imposing
ceremonials, as if she were but a spectator and not herself on trial.
She sat there, solitary on her bench, untroubled, and disconcerted
the science of the sages with her sublime ignorance--an ignorance
which was a fortress; arts, wiles, the learning drawn from books,
and all like missiles rebounded from its unconscious masonry and
fell to the ground harmless; they could not dislodge the garrison
which was within--Joan's serene great heart and spirit, the guards
and keepers of her mission.
She answered all questions frankly, and she told all the story of her
visions and of her experiences with the angels and what they said
to her; and the manner of the telling was so unaffected, and so
earnest and sincere, and made it all seem so lifelike and real, that
even that hard practical court forgot itself and sat motionless and
mute, listening with a charmed and wondering interest to the end.
And if you would have other testimony than mine, look in the
histories and you will find where an eyewitness, giving sworn
testimony in the Rehabilitation process, says that she told that tale
"with a noble dignity and simplicity," and as to its effect, says in
substance what I have said. Seventeen, she was--seventeen, and all
alone on her bench by herself; yet was not afraid, but faced that
great company of erudite doctor4s of law ant theology, and by the
help of no art learned in the schools, but using only the
enchantments which were hers by nature, of youth, sincerity, a
voice soft and musical, and an eloquence whose source was the
heart, not the head, she laid that spell upon them. Now was not
that a beautiful thing to see? If I could, I would put it before you
just as I saw it; then I know what you would say.
As I have told you, she could not read. "One day they harried and
pestered her with arguments, reasonings, objections, and other
windy and wordy trivialities, gathered out of the works of this and
that and the other great theological authority, until at last her
patience vanished, and she turned upon them sharply and said:
"I don't know A from B; but I know this: that I am come by
command of the Lord of Heaven to deliver Orleans from the
English power and crown the King of Rheims, and the matters ye
are puttering over are of no consequence!"
Necessarily those were trying days for her, and wearing for
everybody that took part; but her share was the hardest, for she had
no holidays, but must be always on hand and stay the long hours
through, whereas this, that, and the other inquisitor could absent
himself and rest up from his fatigues when he got worn out. And
yet she showed no wear, no weariness, and but seldom let fly her
temper. As a rule she put her day through calm, alert, patient,
fencing with those veteran masters of scholarly sword-play and
coming out always without a scratch.
One day a Dominican sprung upon her a question which made
everybody cock up his ears with interest; as for me, I trembled, and
said to myself she is done this time, poor Joan, for there is no way
of answering this. The sly Dominican began in this way--in a sort
of indolent fashion, as if the thing he was about was a matter of no
"You assert that God has willed to deliver France from this English
"Yes, He has willed it."
"You wish for men-at-arms, so that you may go to the relief of
Orleans, I believe?"
"Yes--and the sooner the better."
"God is all-powerful, and able to do whatsoever thing He wills to
do, is it not so?"
"Most surely. None doubts it."
The Dominican lifted his head suddenly, and sprung that question I
have spoken of, with exultation:
"Then answer me this. If He has willed to deliver France, and is
able to do whatsoever He wills, where is the need for
There was a fine stir and commotion when he said that, and a
sudden thrusting forward of heads and putting up of hands to ears
to catch the answer; and the Dominican wagged his head with
satisfaction, and looked about him collecting his applause, for it
shone in every face. But Joan was not disturbed. There was no note
of disquiet in her voice when she answered:
"He helps who help themselves. The sons of France will fight the
battles, but He will give the victory!"
You could see a light of admiration sweep the house from face to
face like a ray from the sun. Even the Dominican himself looked
pleased, to see his master-stroke so neatly parried, and I heard a
venerable bishop mutter, in the phrasing common to priest and
people in that robust time, "By God, the child has said true. He
willed that Goliath should be slain, and He sent a child like this to
Another day, when the inquisition had dragged along until
everybody looked drowsy and tired but Joan, Brother S�guin,
professor of theology at the University of Poitiers, who was a sour
and sarcastic man, fell to plying Joan with all sorts of nagging
questions in his bastard Limousin French--for he was from
Limoges. Finally he said:
"How is it that you understand those angels? What language did
"In-deed! How pleasant to know that our language is so honored!
"Perfect, eh? Well, certainly you ought to know. It was even better
than your own, eh?"
"As to that, I--I believe I cannot say," said she, and was going on,
but stopped. Then she added, almost as if she were saying it to
herself, "Still, it was an improvement on yours!"
I knew there was a chuckle back of her eyes, for all their
innocence. Everybody shouted. Brother S�guin was nettled, and
"Do you believe in God?"
Joan answered with an irritating nonchalance:
"Oh, well, yes--better than you, it is likely."
Brother S�guin lost his patience, and heaped sarcasm after sarcasm
upon her, and finally burst out in angry earnest, exclaiming:
"Very well, I can tell you this, you whose believe in God is so
great: God has not willed that any shall believe in you without a
sign. Where is your sign?--show it!"
This roused Joan, and she was on her feet in a moment, and flung
out her retort with spirit:
"I have not come to Poitiers to show signs and do miracles. Send
me to Orleans and you shall have signs enough. Give me
men-at-arms--few or many--and let me go!"
The fire was leaping from her eyes--ah, the heroic little figure!
can't you see her? There was a great burst of acclamations, and she
sat down blushing, for it was not in her delicate nature to like
This speech and that episode about the French language scored
two points against Brother S�guin, while he scored nothing against
Joan; yet, sour man as he was, he was a manly man, and honest, as
you can see by the histories; for at the Rehabilitation he could have
hidden those unlucky incidents if he had chosen, but he didn't do
it, but spoke them right out in his evidence.
On one of the lat3er days of that three-weeks session the gowned
scholars and professors made one grand assault all along the line,
fairly overwhelming Joan with objections and arguments culled
from the writings of every ancient and illustrious authority of the
Roman Church. She was well-nigh smothered; but at last she
shook herself free and struck back, crying out:
"Listen! The Book of God is worth more than all these ye cite, and
I stand upon it. And I tell ye there are things in that Book that not
one among ye can read, with all your learning!"
From the first she was the guest, by invitation, of the dame De
Rabateau, wife of a councilor of the Parliament of Poitiers; and to
that house the great ladies of the city came nightly to see Joan and
talk with her; and not these only, but the old lawyers, councilors
and scholars of the Parliament and the University. And these grave
men, accustomed to weigh every strange and questionable thing,
and cautiously consider it, and turn it about this way and that and
still doubt it, came night after night, and night after night, falling
ever deeper and deeper under the influence of that mysterious
something, that spell, that elusive and unwordable fascination,
which was the supremest endowment of Joan of Arc, that winning
and persuasive and convincing something which high and low
alike recognized and felt, but which neither high nor low could
explain or describe, and one by one they all surrendered, saying,
"This child is sent of God."
All day long Joan, in the great court and subject to its rigid rules of
procedure, was at a disadvantage; her judges had things their own
way; but at night she held court herself, and matters were reversed,
she presiding, with her tongue free and her same judges there
before her. There could not be but one result: all the objections and
hindrances they could build around her with their hard labors of
the day she would charm away at night. In the end, she carried her
judges with her in a mass, and got her great verdict without a
The court was a sight to see when the president of it read it from
his throne, for all the great people of the town were there who
could get admission and find room. First there were some solemn
ceremonies, proper and usual at such times; then, when there was
silence again, the reading followed, penetrating the deep hush so
that every word was heard in even the remotest parts of the house:
"It is found, and is hereby declared, that Joan of Arc, called the
Maid, is a good Christian and a good Catholic; that there is
nothing in her person or her words contrary to the faith; and that
the King may and ought to accept the succor she offers; for to
repel it would be to offend the Holy Spirit, and render him
unworthy of the air of God."
The court rose, and then the storm of plaudits burst forth
unrebuked, dying down and bursting forth again and again, and I
lost sight of Joan, for she was swallowed up in a great tide of
people who rushed to congratulate her and pour out benedictions
upon her and upon the cause of France, now solemnly and
irrevocably delivered into her little hands.
Chapter 9 She Is Made General-in-Chief
IT WAS indeed a great day, and a stirring thing to see.
She had won! It was a mistake of Tremouille and her other
ill-wishers to let her hold court those nights.
The commission of priests sent to Lorraine ostensibly to inquire
into Joan's character--in fact to weary her with delays and wear out
her purpose and make her give it up--arrived back and reported her
character perfect. Our affairs were in full career now, you see.
The verdict made a prodigious stir. Dead France woke suddenly to
life, wherever the great news traveled. Whereas before, the
spiritless and cowed people hung their heads and slunk away if one
mentioned war to them, now they came clamoring to be enlisted
under the banner of the Maid of Vaucouleurs, and the roaring of
war-songs and the thundering of the drums filled all the air. I
remembered now what she had said, that time there in our village
when I proved by facts and statistics that France's case was
hopeless, and nothing could ever rouse the people from their
"They will hear the drums--and they will answer, they will march!"
It has been said that misfortunes never come one at a time, but in a
body. In our case it was the same with good luck. Having got a
start, it came flooding in, tide after tide. Our next wave of it was of
this sort. There had been grave doubts among the priests as to
whether the Church ought to permit a female soldier to dress like a
man. But now came a verdict on that head. Two of the greatest
scholars and theologians of the time--one of whom had been
Chancellor of the University of Paris--rendered it. They decided
that since Joan "must do the work of a man and a soldier, it is just
and legitimate that her apparel should conform to the situation."
It was a great point gained, the Church's authority to dress as a
man. Oh, yes, wave on wave the good luck came sweeping in.
Never mind about the smaller waves, let us come to the largest one
of all, the wave that swept us small fry quite off our feet and
almost drowned us with joy. The day of the great verdict, couriers
had been despatched to the King with it, and the next morning
bright and early the clear notes of a bugle came floating to us on
the crisp air, and we pricked up our ears and began to count them.
One--two--three; pause; one--two; pause; one--two--three,
again--and out we skipped and went flying; for that formula was
used only when the King's herald-at-arms would deliver a
proclamation to the people. As we hurried along, people came
racing out of every street and house and alley, men, women, and
children, all flushed, excited, and throwing lacking articles of
clothing on as they ran; still those clear notes pealed out, and still
the rush of people increased till the whole town was abroad and
streaming along the principal street. At last we reached the square,
which was now packed with citizens, and there, high on the
pedestal of the great cross, we saw the herald in his brilliant
costume, with his servitors about him. The next moment he began
his delivery in the powerful voice proper to his office:
"Know all men, and take heed therefore, that the most high, the
most illustrious Charles, by the grace of God King of France, hath
been pleased to confer upon his well-beloved servant Joan of Arc,
called the Maid, the title, emoluments, authorities, and dignity of
General-in-Chief of the Armies of France--"
Here a thousand caps flew in the air, and the multitude burst into a
hurricane of cheers that raged and raged till it seemed as if it
would never come to an end; but at last it did; then the herald went
on and finished:
--"and hath appointed to be her lieutenant and chief of staff a
prince of his royal house, his grace the Duke of Alen�on!"
That was the end, and the hurricane began again, and was split up
into innumerable strips by the blowers of it and wafted through all
the lanes and streets of the town.
General of the Armies of France, with a prince of the blood for
subordinate! Yesterday she was nothing--to-day she was this.
Yesterday she was not even a sergeant, not even a corporal, not
even a private--to-day, with one step, she was at the top. Yesterday
she was less than nobody to the newest recruit--to-day her
command was law to La Hire, Saintrailles, the Bastard of Orleans,
and all those others, veterans of old renown, illustrious masters of
the trade of war. These were the thoughts I was thinking; I was
trying to realize this strange and wonderful thing that had
happened, you see.
My mind went travelling back, and presently lighted upon a
picture--a picture which was still so new and fresh in my memory
that it seemed a matter of only yesterday--and indeed its date was
no further back than the first days of January. This is what it was.
A peasant-girl in a far-off village, her seventeenth year not yet
quite completed, and herself and her village as unknown as if they
had been on the other side of the globe. She had picked up a
friendless wanderer somewhere and brought it home--a small gray
kitten in a forlorn and starving condition--and had fed it and
comforted it and got its confidence and made it believe in her, and
now it was curled up in her lap asleep, and she was knitting a
coarse stocking and thinking--dreaming--about what, one may
never know. And now--the kitten had hardly had time to become a
cat, and yet already the girl is General of the Armies of France,
with a prince of the blood to give orders to, and out of her village
obscurity her name has climbed up like the sun and is visible from
all corners of the land! It made me dizzy to think of these things,
they were so out of the common order, and seemed so impossible.
Chapter 10 The Maid's Sword and Banner
JOAN'S first official act was to dictate a letter to the English
commanders at Orleans, summoning them to deliver up all
strongholds in their possession and depart out of France. She must
have been thinking it all out before and arranging it in her mind, it
flowed from her lips so smoothly, and framed itself into such
vivacious and forcible language. Still, it might not have been so;
she always had a quick mind and a capable tongue, and her
faculties were constantly developing in these latter weeks. This
letter was to be forwarded presently from Blois. Men, provisions,
and money were offering in plenty now, and Joan appointed Blois
as a recruiting-station and depot of supplies, and ordered up La
Hire from the front to take charge.
The Great Bastard--him of the ducal house, and governor of
Orleans--had been clamoring for weeks for Joan to be sent to him,
and now came another messenger, old D'Aulon, a veteran officer, a
trusty man and fine and honest. The King kept him, and gave him
to Joan to be chief of her household, and commanded her to
appoint the rest of her people herself, making their number and
dignity accord with the greatness of her office; and at the same
time he gave order that they should be properly equipped with
arms, clothing, and horses.
Meantime the King was having a complete suit of armor made for
her at Tours. It was of the finest steel, heavily plated with silver,
richly ornamented with engraved designs, and polished like a
Joan's Voices had told her that there was an ancient sword hidden
somewhere behind the altar of St. Catherine's at Fierbois, and she
sent De Metz to get it. The priests knew of no such sword, but a
search was made, and sure enough it was found in that place,
buried a little way under the ground. It had no sheath and was very
rusty, but the priests polished it up and sent it to Tours, whither we
were now to come. They also had a sheath of crimson velvet made
for it, and the people of Tours equipped it with another, made of
cloth-of-gold. But Joan meant to carry this sword always in battle;
so she laid the showy sheaths away and got one made of leather. It
was generally believed that his sword had belonged to
Charlemagne, but that was only a matter of opinion. I wanted to
sharpen that old blade, but she said it was not necessary, as she
should never kill anybody, and should carry it only as a symbol of
At Tours she designed her Standard, and a Scotch painter named
James Power made it. It was of the most delicate white boucassin,
with fringes of silk. For device it bore the image of God the Father
throned in the clouds and holding the world in His hand; two
angels knelt at His feet, presenting lilies; inscription, JESUS,
MARIA; on the reverse the crown of France supported by two
She also caused a smaller standard or pennon to be made, whereon
was represented an angel offering a lily to the Holy Virgin.
Everything was humming there at Tours. Every now and then one
heard the bray and crash of military music, every little while one
heard the measured tramp of marching men--squads of recruits
leaving for Blois; songs and shoutings and huzzas filled the air
night and day, the town was full of strangers, the streets and inns
were thronged, the bustle of preparation was everywhere, and
everybody carried a glad and cheerful face. Around Joan's
headquarters a crowd of people was always massed, hoping for a
glimpse of the new General, and when they got it, they went wild;
but they seldom got it, for she was busy planning her campaign,
receiving reports, giving orders, despatching couriers, and giving
what odd moments she could spare to the companies of great folk
waiting in the drawing-rooms. As for us boys, we hardly saw her at
all, she was so occupied.
We were in a mixed state of mind--sometimes hopeful, sometimes
not; mostly not. She had not appointed her household yet--that was
our trouble. We knew she was being overrun with applications for
places in it, and that these applications were backed by great
names and weighty influence, whereas we had nothing of the sort
to recommend us. She could fill her humblest places with titled
folk--folk whose relationships would be a bulwark for her and a
valuable support at all times. In these circumstances would policy
allow her to consider us? We were not as cheerful as the rest of the
town, but were inclined to be depressed and worried. Sometimes
we discussed our slim chances and gave them as good an
appearance as we could. But the very mention of the subject was
anguish to the Paladin; for whereas we had some little hope, he
had none at all. As a rule No�l Rainguesson was quite wiLa
Hireing to let the dismal matter alone; but not when the Paladin
was present. Once we were talking the thing over, when No�l said:
"Cheer up, Paladin, I had a dream last night, and you were the only
one among us that got an appointment. It wasn't a high one, but it
was an appointment, anyway--some kind of a lackey or
body-servant, or something of that kind."
The Paladin roused up and looked almost cheerful; for he was a
believer in dreams, and in anything and everything of a
superstitious sort, in fact. He said, with a rising hopefulness:
"I wish it might come true. Do you think it will come true?"
"Certainly; I might almost say I know it will, for my dreams hardly
"No�l, I could hug you if that dream could come true, I could,
indeed! To be servant of the first General of France and have all
the world hear of it, and the news go back to the village and make
those gawks stare that always said I wouldn't ever amount to
anything--wouldn't it be great! Do you think it will come true,
No�l? Don't you believe it will?"
"I do. There's my hand on it."
"No�l, if it comes true I'll never forget you--shake again! I should
be dressed in a noble livery, and the news would go to the village,
and those animals would say, 'Him, lackey to the General-in-Chief,
with the eyes of the whole world on him, admiring--well, he has
shot up into the sky now, hasn't he!"
He began to walk the floor and pile castles in the air so fast and so
high that we could hardly keep up with him. Then all of a sudden
all the joy went out of his face and misery took its place, and he
"Oh, dear, it is all a mistake, it will never come true. I forgot that
foolish business at Toul. I have kept out of her sight as much as I
could, all these weeks, hoping she would forget that and forgive
it--but I know she never will. She can't, of course. And, after all, I
wasn't to blame. I did say she promised to marry me, but they put
me up to it and persuaded me. I swear they did!" The vast creature
was almost crying. Then he pulled himself together and said,
remorsefully, "It was the only lie I've ever told, and--"
He was drowned out with a chorus of groans and outraged
exclamations; and before he could begin again, one of D'Aulon's
liveried servants appeared and said we were required at
headquarters. We rose, and No�l said:
"There--what did I tell you? I have a presentiment--the spirit of
prophecy is upon me. She is going to appoint him, and we are to
go there and do him homage. Come along!"
But the Paladin was afraid to go, so we left him.
When we presently stood in the presence, in front of a crowd of
glittering officers of the army, Joan greeted us with a winning
smile, and said she appointed all of us to places in her household,
for she wanted her old friends by her. It was a beautiful surprise to
have ourselves honored like this when she could have had people
of birth and consequence instead, but we couldn't find our tongues
to say so, she was become so great and so high above us now. One
at a time we stepped forward and each received his warrant from
the hand of our chief, D'Aulon. All of us had honorable places; the
two knights stood highest; then Joan's two brothers; I was first
page and secretary, a young gentleman named Raimond was
second page; No�l was her messenger; she had two heralds, and
also a chaplain and almoner, whose name was Jean Pasquerel. She
had previously appointed a ma�tre d'h�tel and a number of
domestics. Now she looked around and said:
"But where is the Paladin?"
The Sieur Bertrand said:
"He thought he was not sent for, your Excellency."
"Now that is not well. Let him be called."
The Paladin entered humbly enough. He ventured no farther than
just within the door. He stopped there, looking embarrassed and
afraid. Then Joan spoke pleasantly, and said:
"I watched you on the road. You began badly, but improved. Of
old you were a fantastic talker, but there is a man in you, and I will
bring it out." It was fine to see the Paladin's face light up when she
said that. "Will you follow where I lead?"
"Into the fire!" he said; and I said to myself, "By the ring of that, I
think she has turned this braggart into a hero. It is another of her
miracles, I make no doubt of it."
"I believe you," said Joan. "Here--take my banner. You will ride
with me in every field, and when France is saved, you will give it
He took the banner, which is now the most precious of the
memorials that remain of Joan of Arc, and his voice was unsteady
with emotion when he said:
"If I ever disgrace this trust, my comrades here will know how to
do a friend's office upon my body, and this charge I lay upon them,
as knowing they will not fail me."
Chapter 11 The War March Is Begun
NO L and I went back together--silent at first, and impressed.
Finally No�l came up out of his thinkings and said:
"The first shall be last and the last first--there's authority for this
surprise. But at the same time wasn't it a lofty hoist for our big
"It truly was; I am not over being stunned yet. It was the greatest
place in her gift."
"Yes, it was. There are many generals, and she can create more;
but there is only one Standard-Bearer."
"True. It is the most conspicuous place in the army, after her own."
"And the most coveted and honorable. Sons of two dukes tried to
get it, as we know. And of all people in the world, this majestic
windmill carries it off. Well, isn't it a gigantic promotion, when
you come to look at it!"
"There's no doubt about it. It's a kind of copy of Joan's own in
"I don't know how to account for it--do you?"
"Yes--without any trouble at all--that is, I think I do."
No�l was surprised at that, and glanced up quickly, as if to see if I
was in earnest. He said:
"I thought you couldn't be in earnest, but I see you are. If you can
make me understand this puzzle, do it. Tell me what the
"I believe I can. You have noticed that our chief knight says a good
many wise things and has a thoughtful head on his shoulders. One
day, riding along, we were talking about Joan's great talents, and
he said, 'But, greatest of all her gifts, she has the seeing eye.' I said,
like an unthinking fool, 'The seeing eye?--I shouldn't count on that
for much--I suppose we all have it.' 'No,' he said; 'very few have it.'
Then he explained, and made his meaning clear. He said the
common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that,
but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul,
finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or
promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn't detect. He said
the mightiest military genius must fail and come to nothing if it
have not the seeing eye--that is to say, if it cannot read men and
select its subordinates with an infallible judgment. It sees as by
intuition that this man is good for strategy, that one for dash and
daredevil assault, the other for patient bulldog persistence, and it
appoints each to his right place and wins, while the commander
without the seeing eye would give to each the other's place and
lose. He was right about Joan, and I saw it. When she was a child
and the tramp came one night, her father and all of us took him for
a rascal, but she saw the honest man through the rags. When I
dined with the governor of Vaucouleurs so long ago, I saw nothing
in our two knights, though I sat with them and talked with them
two hours; Joan was there five minutes, and neither spoke with
them nor heard them speak, yet she marked them for men of worth
and fidelity, and they have confirmed her judgment. Whom has she
sent for to take charge of this thundering rabble of new recruits at
Blois, made up of old disbanded Armagnac raiders, unspeakable
hellions, every one? Why, she has sent for Satan himself--that is to
say, La Hire--that military hurricane, that godless swashbuckler,
that lurid conflagration of blasphemy, that Vesuvius of profanity,
forever in eruption. Does he know how to deal with that mob of
roaring devils? Better than any man that lives; for he is the head
devil of this world his own self, he is the match of the whole of
them combined, and probably the father of most of them. She
places him in temporary command until she can get to Blois
herself--and then! Why, then she will certainly take them in hand
personally, or I don't know her as well as I ought to, after all these
years of intimacy. That will be a sight to see--that fair spirit in her
white armor, delivering her will to that muck-heap, that rag-pile,
that abandoned refuse of perdition."
"La Hire!" cried No�l, "our hero of all these years--I do want to see
"I too. His name stirs me just as it did when I was a little boy."
"I want to hear him swear."
"Of course, I would rather hear him swear than another man pray.
He is the frankest man there is, and the na�vest. Once when he was
rebuked for pillaging on his raids, he said it was nothing. Said he,
'If God the Father were a soldier, He would rob.' I judge he is the
right man to take temporary charge there at Blois. Joan has cast the
seeing eye upon him, you see."
"Which brings us back to where we started. I have an honest
affection for the Paladin, and not merely because he is a good
fellow, but because he is my child--I made him what he is, the
windiest blusterer and most catholic liar in the kingdom. I'm glad
of his luck, but I hadn't the seeing eye. I shouldn't have chosen him
for the most dangerous post in the army. I should have placed him
in the rear to kill the wounded and violate the dead."
"Well, we shall see. Joan probably knows what is in him better
than we do. And I'll give you another idea. When a person in Joan
of Arc's position tells a man he is brave, he believes it; and
believing it is enough; in fact, to believe yourself brave is to be
brave; it is the one only essential thing."
"Now you've hit it!" cried No�l. "She's got the creating mouth as
well as the seeing eye! Ah, yes, that is the thing. France was cowed
and a coward; Joan of Arc has spoken, and France is marching,
with her head up!"
I was summoned now to write a letter from Joan's dictation.
During the next day and night our several uniforms were made by
the tailors, and our new armor provided. We were beautiful to look
upon now, whether clothed for peace or war. Clothed for peace, in
costly stuffs and rich colors, the Paladin was a tower dyed with the
glories of the sunset; plumed and sashed and iron-clad for war, he
was a still statelier thing to look at.
Orders had been issued for the march toward Blois. It was a clear,
sharp, beautiful morning. As our showy great company trotted out
in column, riding two and two, Joan and the Duke of Alen�on in
the lead, D'Aulon and the big standard-bearer next, and so on, we
made a handsome spectacle, as you may well imagine; and as we
plowed through the cheering crowds, with Joan bowing her
plumed head to left and right and the sun glinting from her silver
mail, the spectators realized that the curtain was rolling up before
their eyes upon the first act of a prodigious drama, and their rising
hopes were expressed in an enthusiasm that increased with each
moment, until at last one seemed to even physically feel the
concussion of the huzzas as well as hear them. Far down the street
we heard the softened strains of wind-blown music, and saw a
cloud of lancers moving, the sun glowing with a subdued light
upon the massed armor, but striking bright upon the soaring
lance-heads--a vaguely luminous nebula, so to speak, with a
constellation twinkling above it--and that was our guard of honor.
It joined us, the procession was complete, the first war-march of
Joan of Arc was begun, the curtain was up.
Chapter 12 Joan Puts Heart in Her Army
WE WERE at Blois three days. Oh, that camp, it is one of the
treasures of my memory! Order? There was no more order among
those brigands than there is among the wolves and the hyenas.
They went roaring and drinking about, whooping, shouting,
swearing, and entertaining themselves with all manner of rude and
riotous horse-play; and the place was full of loud and lewd
women, and they were no whit behind the men for romps and
noise and fantastics.
It was in the midst of this wild mob that No�l and I had our first
glimpse of La Hire. He answered to our dearest dreams. He was of
great size and of martial bearing, he was cased in mail from head
to heel, with a bushel of swishing plumes on his helmet, and at his
side the vast sword of the time.
He was on his way to pay his respects in state to Joan, and as he
passed through the camp he was restoring order, and proclaiming
that the Maid had come, and he would have no such spectacle as
this exposed to the head of the army. His way of creating order
was his own, not borrowed. He did it with his great fists. As he
moved along swearing and admonishing, he let drive this way, that
way, and the other, and wherever his blow landed, a man went
"Damn you!" he said, "staggering and cursing around like this, and
the Commander-in-Chief in the camp! Straighten up!" and he laid
the man flat. What his idea of straightening up was, was his own
We followed the veteran to headquarters, listening, observing,
admiring--yes, devouring, you may say, the pet hero of the boys of
France from our cradles up to that happy day, and their idol and
ours. I called to mind how Joan had once rebuked the Paladin,
there in the pastures of Domremy, for uttering lightly those mighty
names, La Hire and the Bastard of Orleans, and how she said that
if she could but be permitted to stand afar off and let her eyes rest
once upon those great men, she would hold it a privilege. They
were to her and the other girls just what they were to the boys.
Well, here was one of them at last--and what was his errand? It
was hard to realize it, and yet it was true; he was coming to
uncover his head before her and take her orders.
While he was quieting a considerable group of his brigands in his
soothing way, near headquarters, we stepped on ahead and got a
glimpse of Joan's military family, the great chiefs of the army, for
they had all arrived now. There they were, six officers of wide
renown, handsome men in beautiful armor, but the Lord High
Admiral of France was the handsomest of them all and had the
most gallant bearing.
When La Hire entered, one could see the surprise in his face at
Joan's beauty and extreme youth, and one could see, too, by Joan's
glad smile, that it made her happy to get sight of this hero of her
childhood at last. La Hire bowed low, with his helmet in his
gauntleted hand, and made a bluff but handsome little speech with
hardly an oath in it, and one could see that those two took to each
other on the spot.
The visit of ceremony was soon over, and the others went away;
but La Hire stayed, and he and Joan sat there, and he sipped her
wine, and they talked and laughed together like old friends. And
presently she gave him some instructions, in his quality as master
of the camp, which made his breath stand still. For, to begin with,
she said that all those loose women must pack out of the place at
once, she wouldn't allow one of them to remain. Next, the rough
carousing must stop, drinking must be brought within proper and
strictly defined limits, and discipline must take the place of
disorder. And finally she cloiimaxed the list of surprises with
this--which nearly lifted him out of his armor:
"Every man who joins my standard must confess before the priest
and absolve himself from sin; and all accepted recruits must be
present at divine service twice a day."
La Hire could not say a word for a good part of a minute, then he
said, in deep dejection:
"Oh, sweet child, they were littered in hell, these poor darlings of
mine! Attend mass? Why, dear heart, they'll see us both damned
And he went on, pouring out a most pathetic stream of arguments
and blasphemy, which broke Joan all up, and made her laugh as
she had not laughed since she played in the Domremy pastures. It
was good to hear.
But she stuck to her point; so the soldier yielded, and said all right,
if such were the orders he must obey, and would do the best that
was in him; then he refreshed himself with a lurid explosion of
oaths, and said that if any man in the camp refused to renounce sin
and lead a pious life, he would knock his head off. That started
Joan off again; she was really having a good time, you see. But she
would not consent to that form of conversions. She said they must
La Hire said that that was all right, he wasn't going to kill the
voluntary ones, but only the others.
No matter, none of them must be killed--Joan couldn't have it. She
said that to give a man a chance to volunteer, on pain of death if he
didn't, left him more or less trammeled, and she wanted him to be
So the soldier sighed and said he would advertise the mass, but
said he doubted if there was a man in camp that was any more
likely to go to it than he was himself. Then there was another
surprise for him, for Joan said:
"But, dear man, you are going!"
"I? Impossible! Oh, this is lunacy!"
"Oh, no, it isn't. You are going to the service--twice a day."
"Oh, am I dreaming? Am I drunk--or is my hearing playing me
false? Why, I would rather go to--"
"Never mind where. In the morning you are going to begin, and
after that it will come easy. Now don't look downhearted like that.
Soon you won't mind it."
La Hire tried to cheer up, but he was not able to do it. He sighed
like a zephyr, and presently said:
"Well, I'll do it for you, but before I would do it for another, I
"But don't swear. Break it off."
"Break it off? It is impossible! I beg you to--to-- Why--oh, my
General, it is my native speech!"
He begged so hard for grace for his impediment, that Joan left him
one fragment of it; she said he might swear by his b�ton, the
symbol of his generalship.
He promised that he would swear only by his b�ton when in her
presence, and would try to modify himself elsewhere, but doubted
he could manage it, now that it was so old and stubborn a habit,
and such a solace and support to his declining years.
That tough old lion went away from there a good deal tamed and
civilized--not to say softened and sweetened, for perhaps those
expressions would hardly fit him. No�l and I believed that when he
was away from Joan's influence his old aversions would come up
so strong in him that he could not master them, and so wouldn't go
to mass. But we got up early in the morning to see.
Satan was converted, you see. Well, the rest followed. Joan rode
up and down that camp, and wherever that fair young form
appeared in its shining armor, with that sweet face to grace the
vision and perfect it, the rude host seemed to think they saw the
god of war in person, descended out of the clouds; and first they
wondered, then they worshiped. After that, she could do with them
what she would.
In three days it was a clean camp and orderly, and those barbarians
were herding to divine service twice a day like good children. The
women were gone. La Hire was stunned by these marvels; he could
not understand them. He went outside the camp when he wanted to
swear. He was that sort of a man--sinful by nature and habit, but
full of superstitious respect for holy places.
The enthusiasm of the reformed army for Joan, its devotion to her,
and the hot desire had aroused in it to be led against the enemy,
exceeded any manifestations of this sort which La Hire had ever
seen before in his long career. His admiration of it all, and his
wonder over the mystery and miracle of it, were beyond his power
to put into words. He had held this army cheap before, but his
pride and confidence in it knew no limits now. He said:
"Two or three days ago it was afraid of a hen-roost; one could
storm the gates of hell with it now."
Joan and he were inseparable, and a quaint and pleasant contrast
they made. He was so big, she so little; he was so gray and so far
along in his pilgrimage of life, she so youthful; his face was so
bronzed and scarred, hers so fair and pink, so fresh and smooth;
she was so gracious, and he so stern; she was so pure, so innocent,
he such a cyclopedia of sin. In her eye was stored all charity and
compassion, in his lightnings; when her glance fell upon you it
seemed to bring benediction and the peace of God, but with his it
was different, generally.
They rode through the camp a dozen times a day, visiting every
corner of it, observing, inspecting, perfecting; and wherever they
appeared the enthusiasm broke forth. They rode side by side, he a
great figure of brawn and muscle, she a little masterwork of
roundness and grace; he a fortress of rusty iron, she a shining
statuette of silver; and when the reformed raiders and bandits
caught sight of them they spoke out, with affection and welcome
in their voices, and said:
"There they come--Satan and the Page of Christ!"
All the three days that we were in Blois, Joan worked earnestly
and tirelessly to bring La Hire to God--to rescue him from the
bondage of sin--to breathe into his stormy hear the serenity and
peace of religion. She urged, she begged, she implored him to
pray. He stood out, three days of our stay, begging about piteously
to be let off--to be let off from just that one thing, that impossible
thing; he would do anything else--anything--command, and he
would obey--he would go through the fire for her if she said the
word--but spare him this, only this, for he couldn't pray, had never
prayed, he was ignorant of how to frame a prayer, he had no words
to put it in.
And yet--can any believe it?--she carried even that point, she won
that incredible victory. She made La Hire pray. It shows, I think,
that nothing was impossible to Joan of Arc. Yes, he stood there
before her and put up his mailed hands and made a prayer. And it
was not borrowed, but was his very own; he had none to help him
frame it, he made it out of his own head--saying:
"Fair Sir God, I pray you to do by La Hire as he would do by you if
you were La Hire and he were God." 
Then he put on his helmet and marched out of Joan's tent as
satisfied with himself as any one might be who had arranged a
perplexed and difficult business to the content and admiration of
all the parties concerned in the matter.
If I had know that he had been praying, I could have understood
why he was feeling so superior, but of course I could not know
I was coming to the tent at that moment, and saw him come out,
and saw him march away in that large fashion, and indeed it was
fine and beautiful to see. But when I got to the tent door I stopped
and stepped back, grieved and shocked, for I heard Joan crying, as
I mistakenly thought--crying as if she could not contain nor endure
the anguish of her soul, crying as if she would die. But it was not
so, she was laughing--laughing at La Hire's prayer.
It was not until six-and-thirty years afterward that I found that out,
and then--oh, then I only cried when that picture of young care-free
mirth rose before me out of the blur and mists of that
long-vanished time; for there had come a day between, when God's
good gift of laughter had gone out from me to come again no more
in this life.
 This prayer has been stolen many times and by many nations in
the past four hundred and sixty years, but it originated with La
Hire, and the fact is of official record in the National Archives of
France. We have the authority of Michelet for this. --
Chapter 13 Checked by the Folly of the Wise
WE MARCHED out in great strength and splendor, and took the
road toward Orleans. The initial part of Joan's great dream was
realizing itself at last. It was the first time that any of us youngsters
had ever seen an army, and it was a most stately and imposing
spectacle to us. It was indeed an inspiring sight, that interminable
column, stretching away into the fading distances, and curving
itself in and out of the crookedness of the road like a mighty
serpent. Joan rode at the head of it with her personal staff; then
came a body of priests singing the Veni Creator, the banner of the
Cross rising out of their midst; after these the glinting forest of
spears. The several divisions were commanded by the great
Armagnac generals, La Hire, and Marshal de Boussac, the Sire de
Retz, Florent d'Illiers, and Poton de Saintrailles.
Each in his degree was tough, and there were three degrees--tough,
tougher, toughest--and La Hire was the last by a shade, but only a
shade. They were just illustrious official brigands, the whole party;
and by long habits of lawlessness they had lost all
acquaintanceship with obedience, if they had ever had any.
But what was the good of saying that? These independent birds
knew no law. They seldom obeyed the King; they never obeyed
him when it didn't suit them to do it. Would they obey the Maid?
In the first place they wouldn't know how to obey her or anybody
else, and in the second place it was of course not possible for them
to take her military character seriously--that country-girl of
seventeen who had been trained for the complex and terrible
business of war--how? By tending sheep.
They had no idea of obeying her except in cases where their
veteran military knowledge and experience showed them that the
thing she required was sound and right when gauged by the regular
military standards. Were they to blame for this attitude? I should
think not. Old war-worn captains are hard-headed, practical men.
They do not easily believe in the ability of ignorant children to
plan campaigns and command armies. No general that ever lived
could have taken Joan seriously (militarily) before she raised the
siege of Orleans and followed it with the great campaign of the
Did they consider Joan valueless? Far from it. They valued her as
the fruitful earth values the sun--they fully believed she could
produce the crop, but that it was in their line of business, not hers,
to take it off. They had a deep and superstitious reverence for her
as being endowed with a mysterious supernatural something that
was able to do a mighty thing which they were powerless to
do--blow the breath of life and valor into the dead corpses of
cowed armies and turn them into heroes.
To their minds they were everything with her, but nothing without
her. She could inspire the soldiers and fit them for battle--but fight
the battle herself? Oh, nonsense--that was their function. They, the
generals, would fight the battles, Joan would give the victory. That
was their idea--an unconscious paraphrase of Joan's reply to the
So they began by playing a deception upon her. She had a clear
idea of how she meant to proceed. It was her purpose to march
boldly upon Orleans by the north bank of the Loire. She gave that
order to her generals. They said to themselves, "The idea is
insane--it is blunder No. 1; it is what might have been expected of
this child who is ignorant of war." They privately sent the word to
the Bastard of Orleans. He also recognized the insanity of it--at
least he though he did--and privately advised the generals to get
around the order in some way.
They did it by deceiving Joan. She trusted those people, she was
not expecting this sort of treatment, and was not on the lookout for
it. It was a lesson to her; she saw to it that the game was not played
a second time.
Why was Joan's idea insane, from the generals' point of view, but
not from hers? Because her plan was to raise the siege
immediately, by fighting, while theirs was to besiege the besiegers
and starve them out by closing their communications--a plan
which would require months in the consummation.
The English had built a fence of strong fortresses called bastilles
around Orleans--fortresses which closed all the gates of the city
but one. To the French generals the idea of trying to fight their way
past those fortresses and lead the army into Orleans was
preposterous; they believed that the result would be the army's
destruction. One may not doubt that their opinion was militarily
sound--no, would have been, but for one circumstance which they
overlooked. That was this: the English soldiers were in a
demoralized condition of superstitious terror; they had become
satisfied that the Maid was in league with Satan. By reason of this
a good deal of their courage had oozed out and vanished. On the
other hand, the Maid'' soldiers were full of courage, enthusiasm,
Joan could have marched by the English forts. However, it was not
to be. She had been cheated out of her first chance to strike a
heavy blow for her country.
In camp that night she slept in her armor on the ground. It was a
cold night, and she was nearly as stiff as her armor itself when we
resumed the march in the morning, for iron is not good material
for a blanket. However, her joy in being now so far on her way to
the theater of her mission was fire enough to warm her, and it soon
Her enthusiasm and impatience rose higher and higher with every
mile of progress; but at last we reached Olivet, and down it went,
and indignation took its place. For she saw the trick that had been
played upon her--the river lay between us and Orleans.
She was for attacking one of the three bastilles that were on our
side of the river and forcing access to the bridge which it guarded
(a project which, if successful, would raise the siege instantly), but
the long-ingrained fear of the English came upon her generals and
they implored her not to make the attempt. The soldiers wanted to
attack, but had to suffer disappointment. So we moved on and
came to a halt at a point opposite Ch�cy, six miles above Orleans.
Dunois, Bastard of Orleans, with a body of knights and citizens,
came up from the city to welcome Joan. Joan was still burning
with resentment over the trick that had been put upon her, and was
not in the mood for soft speeches, even to reversed military idols
of her childhood. She said:
"Are you the bbb?"
"Yes, I am he, and am right glad of your coming."
"And did you advise that I be brought by this side of the river
instgead of straight to Talbot and the English?"
Her high manner abashed him, and he was not able to answer with
anything like a confident promptness, but with many hesitations
and partial excuses he managed to get out the confession that for
what he and the council had regarded as imperative military
reasons they so advised.
"In God's name," said Joan, "my Lord's counsel is safer and wiser
than yours. You thought to deceive me, but you have deceived
yourselves, for I bring you the bst help that ever knight or city had;
for it is God's help, not sent for love of me, but by God's pleasure.
At the prayer of St. Louis and St. Charlemagne He has had pity on
Orleans, and will not suffer the enemy to have both the Duke of
Orleans and his city. The provisions to save the starving people are
here, the boats are below the city, the wind is contrary, they cannot
come up hither. Now then, tell me, in God's name, you who are so
wise, what that council of yours was thinking about, to invent this
Dunois and the rest fumbled around the matter a moment, then
gave in and conceded that a blunder had been made.
"Yes, a blunder has been made," said Joan, "and except God take
your proper work upon Himself and change the wind and correct
your blunder for you, there is none else that can devise a remedy."
Some of these people began to perceive that with all her technical
ignorance she had practical good sense, and that with all her native
sweetness and charm she was not the right kind of a person to play
Presently God did take the blunder in hand, and by His grace the
wind did change. So the fleet of boats came up and went away
loaded with provisions and cattle, and conveyed that welcome
succor to the hungry city, managing the matter successfully under
protection of a sortie from the walls against the bastille of St.
Loup. Then Joan began on the Bastard again:
"You see here the army?"
"It is here on this side by advice of your council?"
"Now, in God's name, can that wise council explain why it is better
to have it here than it would be to have it in the bottom of the
Dunois made some wandering attempts to explain the inexplicable
and excuse the inexcusable, but Joan cut him short and said:
"Answer me this, good sir--has the army any value on this side of
The Bastard confessed that it hadn't--that is, in view of the plan of
campaign which she had devised and decreed.
"And yet, knowing this, you had the hardihood to disobey my
orders. Since the army's place is on the other side, will you explain
to me how it is to get there?"
The whole size of the needless muddle was apparent. Evasions
were of no use; therefore Dunois admitted that there was no way to
correct the blunder but to send the army all the way back to Blois,
and let it begin over again and come up on the other side this time,
according to Joan's original plan.
Any other girl, after winning such a triumph as this over a veteran
soldier of old renown, might have exulted a little and been
excusable for it, but Joan showed no disposition of this sort. She
dropped a word or two of grief over the precious time that must be
lost, then began at once to issue commands for the march back.
She sorrowed to see her army go; for she said its heart was great
and its enthusiasm high, and that with it at her back she did not
fear to face all the might of England.
All arrangements having been completed for the return of the main
body of the army, she took the Bastard and La Hire and a thousand
men and went down to Orleans, where all the town was in a fever
of impatience to have sight of her face. It was eight in the evening
when she and the troops rode in at the Burgundy gate, with the
Paladin preceding her with her standard. She was riding a white
horse, and she carried in her hand the sacred sword of Fierbois.
You should have seen Orleans then. What a picture it was! Such
black seas of people, such a starry firmament of torches, such
roaring whirlwinds of welcome, such booming of bells and
thundering of cannon! It was as if the world was come to an end.
Everywhere in the glare of the torches one saw rank upon rank of
upturned white faces, the mouths wide open, shouting, and the
unchecked tears running down; Joan forged her slow way through
the solid masses, her mailed form projecting above the pavement
of heads like a silver statue. The people about her struggled along,
gazing up at her through their tears with the rapt look of men and
women who believe they are seeing one who is divine; and always
her feet were being kissed by grateful folk, and such as failed of
that privilege touched her horse and then kissed their fingers.
Nothing that Joan did escaped notice; everything she did was
commented upon and applauded. You could hear the remarks
going all the time.
"Now she's taking her little plumed cap off to somebody--ah, it's
fine and graceful!"
"She's patting that woman on the head with her gauntlet."
"Oh, she was born on a horse--see her turn in her saddle, and kiss
the hilt of her sword to the ladies in the window that threw the
"Now there's a poor woman lifting up a child--she's kissed it--oh,
"What a dainty little figure it is, and what a lovely face--and such
color and animation!"
Joan's slender long banner streaming backward had an
accident--the fringe caught fire from a torch. She leaned forward
and crushed the flame in her hand.
"She's not afraid of fire nor anything!" they shouted, and delivered
a storm of admiring applause that made everything quake.
She rode to the cathedral and gave thanks to God, and the people
crammed the place and added their devotions to hers; then she
took up her march again and picked her slow way through the
crowds and the wilderness of torches to the house of Jacques
Boucher, treasurer of the Duke of Orleans, where she was to be the
guest of his wife as long as she stayed in the city, and have his
young daughter for comrade and room-mate. The delirium of the
people went on the rest of the night, and with it the clamor of the
joy-bells and the welcoming cannon.
Joan of Arc had stepped upon her stage at last, and was ready to
Chapter 14 What the English Answered
SHE WAS ready, but must sit down and wait until there was an
army to work with.
Next morning, Saturday, April 30, 1429, she set about inquiring
after the messenger who carried her proclamation to the English
from Blois--the one which she had dictated at Poitiers. Here is a
copy of it. It is a remarkable document, for several reasons: for its
matter-of-fact directness, for its high spirit and forcible diction,
and for its na�ve confidence in her ability to achieve the prodigious
task which she had laid upon herself, or which had been laid upon
her--which you please. All through it you seem to see the pomps of
war and hear the rumbling of the drums. In it Joan's warrior soul is
revealed, and for the moment the soft little shepherdess has
disappeared from your view. This untaught country-damsel,
unused to dictating anything at all to anybody, much less
documents of state to kings and generals, poured out this
procession of vigorous sentences as fluently as if this sort of work
had been her trade from childhood:
King of England and you Duke of Bedford who call yourself
Regent of France; William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk; and you
Thomas Lord Scales, who style yourselves lieutenants of the said
Bedford--do right to the King of Heaven. Render to the Maid who
is sent by God the keys of all the good towns you have taken and
violated in France. She is sent hither by God, to restore the blood
royal. She is very ready to make peace if you will do her right by
giving up France and paying for what you have held. And you
archers, companions of war, noble and otherwise, who are before
the good city of Orleans, begone into your own land in God's
name, or expect news from the Maid who will shortly go to see
you to your very great hurt. King of England, if you do not so, I am
chief of war, and whenever I shall find your people in France, I
will drive them out, willing or not willing; and if they do not obey
I will slay them all, but if they obey, I will have them to mercy. I
am come hither by God, the King of Heaven, body for body, to put
you our of France, in spite of those who would work treason and
mischief against the kingdom. Think not you shall ever hold the
kingdom from the King of Heaven, the Son of the Blessed Mary;
King Charles shall hold it, for God wills it so, and has revealed it
to him by the Maid. If you believe not the news sent by God
through the Maid, wherever we shall met you we will strike boldly
and make such a noise as has not been in France these thousand
years. Be sure that God can send more strength to the Maid than
you can bring to any assault against her and her good men-at-arms;
and then we shall see who has the better right, the King of Heaven,
or you. Duke of Bedford, the Maid prays you not to bring about
your own destruction. If you do her right, you may yet go in her
company where the French shall do the finest deed that has been
done in Christendom, and if you do not, you shall be reminded
shortly of your great wrongs.
In that closing sentence she invites them to go on crusade with her
to rescue the Holy Sepulcher. No answer had been returned to this
proclamation, and the messenger himself had not come back.
So now she sent her two heralds with a new letter warning the
English to raise the siege and requiring them to restore that
missing messenger. The heralds came back without him. All they
brought was notice from the English to Joan that they would
presently catch her and burn her if she did not clear out now while
she had a chance, and "go back to her proper trade of minding
She held her peace, only saying it was a pity that the English
would persist in inviting present disaster and eventual destruction
when she was "doing all she could to get them out of the country
with their lives still in their bodies."
Presently she thought of an arrangement that might be acceptable,
and said to the heralds, "Go back and say to Lord Talbot this, from
me: 'Come out of your bastilles with your host, and I will come
with mine; if I beat you, go in peace out of France; if you beat me,
burn me, according to your desire.'"
I did not hear this, but Dunois did, and spoke of it. The challenge
Sunday morning her Voices or some instinct gave her a warning,
and she sent Dunois to Blois to take command of the army and
hurry it to Orleans. It was a wise move, for he found Regnault de
Chartres and some more of the King's pet rascals there trying their
best to disperse the army, and crippling all the efforts of Joan's
generals to head it for Orleans. They were a fine lot, those
miscreants. They turned their attention to Dunois now, but he had
balked Joan once, with unpleasant results to himself, and was not
minded to meddle in that way again. He soon had the army
Chapter 15 My Exquisite Poem Goes to Smash
WE OF the personal staff were in fairyland now, during the few
days that we waited for the return of the army. We went into
society. To our two knights this was not a novelty, but to us young
villagers it was a new and wonderful life. Any position of any sort
near the person of the Maid of Vaucouleurs conferred high
distinction upon the holder and caused his society to be courted;
and so the D'Arc brothers, and No�l, and the Paladin, humble
peasants at home, were gentlemen here, personages of weight and
influence. It was fine to see how soon their country diffidences and
awkwardnesses melted away under this pleasant sun of deference
and disappeared, and how lightly and easily they took to their new
atmosphere. The Paladin was as happy as it was possible for any
one in this earth to be. His tongue went all the time, and daily he
got new delight out of hearing himself talk. He began to enlarge
his ancestry and spread it out all around, and ennoble it right and
left, and it was not long until it consisted almost entirely of dukes.
He worked up his old battles and tricked them out with fresh
splendors; also with new terrors, for he added artillery now. We
had seen cannon for the first time at Blois--a few pieces--here
there was plenty of it, and now and then we had the impressive
spectacle of a huge English bastille hidden from sight in a
mountain of smoke from its own guns, with lances of red flame
darting through it; and this grand picture, along with the quaking
thunders pounding away in the heart of it, inflamed the Paladin's
imagination and enabled him to dress out those
ambuscade-skirmishes of ours with a sublimity which made it
impossible for any to recognize them at all except people who had
not been there.
You may suspect that there was a special inspiration for these
great efforts of the Paladin's, and there was. It was the daughter of
the house, Catherine Boucher, who was eighteen, and gentle and
lovely in her ways, and very beautiful. I think she might have been
as beautiful as Joan herself, if she had had Joan's eyes. But that
could never be. There was never but that one pair, there will never
be another. Joan's eyes were deep and rich and wonderful beyond
anything merely earthly. They spoke all the languages--they had no
need of words. They produced all effects--and just by a glance, just
a single glance; a glance that could convict a liar of his lie and
make him confess it; that could bring down a proud man's pride
and make him humble; that could put courage into a coward and
strike dead the courage of the bravest; that could appease
resentments and real hatreds; that could make the doubter believe
and the hopeless hope again; that could purify the impure mind;
that could persuade--ah, there it is--persuasion! that is the word;
what or who is it that it couldn't persuade? The maniac of
Domremy--the fairy-banishing priest--the reverend tribunal of
Toul--the doubting and superstitious Laxart--the obstinate veteran
of Vaucouleurs--the characterless heir of France--the sages and
scholars of the Parliament and University of Poitiers--the darling
of Satan, La Hire--the masterless Bastard of Orleans, accustomed
to acknowledge no way as right and rational but his own--these
were the trophies of that great gift that made her the wonder and
mystery that she was.