Part 5 out of 5
truth, the ungilded truth--how seldom I hear it! With all this tinsel
on me and all this tinsel about me, I am but a sheriff after all--a
poor shabby two-acre sheriff--and you are but a constable," and he
laughed his cordial laugh again. "Joan, my frank, honest General,
will you name your reward? I would ennoble you. You shall
quarter the crown and the lilies of France for blazon, and with
them your victorious sword to defend them--speak the word."
It made an eager buzz of surprise and envy in the assemblage, but
Joan shook her head and said:
"Ah, I cannot, dear and noble Dauphin. To be allowed to work for
France, to spend one's self for France, is itself so supreme a reward
that nothing can add to it--nothing. Give me the one reward I ask,
the dearest of all rewards, the highest in your gift--march with me
to Rheims and receive your crown. I will beg it on my knees."
But the King put his hand on her arm, and there was a really brave
awakening in his voice and a manly fire in his eye when he said:
"No, sit. You have conquered me--it shall be as you--"
But a warning sign from his minister halted him, and he added, to
the relief of the court:
"Well, well, we will think of it, we will think it over and see. Does
that content you, impulsive little soldier?"
The first part of the speech sent a glow of delight to Joan's face,
but the end of it quenched it and she looked sad, and the tears
gathered in her eyes. After a moment she spoke out with what
seemed a sort of terrified impulse, and said:
"Oh, use me; I beseech you, use me--there is but little time!"
"But little time?"
"Only a year--I shall last only a year."
"Why, child, there are fifty good years in that compact little body
"Oh, you err, indeed you do. In one little year the end will come.
Ah, the time is so short, so short; the moments are flying, and so
much to be done. Oh, use me, and quickly--it is life or death for
Even those insects were sobered by her impassioned words. The
King looked very grave--grave, and strongly impressed. His eyes lit
suddenly with an eloquent fire, and he rose and drew his sword
and raised it aloft; then he brought it slowly down upon Joan's
shoulder and said:
"Ah, thou art so simple, so true, so great, so noble--and by this
accolade I join thee to the nobility of France, thy fitting place! And
for thy sake I do hereby ennoble all thy family and all thy kin; and
all their descendants born in wedlock, not only in the male but also
in the female line. And more!--more! To distinguish thy house and
honor it above all others, we add a privilege never accorded to any
before in the history of these dominions: the females of thy line
shall have and hold the right to ennoble their husbands when these
shall be of inferior degree." [Astonishment and envy flared up in
every countenance when the words were uttered which conferred
this extraordinary grace. The King paused and looked around upon
these signs with quite evident satisfaction.] "Rise, Joan of Arc,
now and henceforth surnamed Du Lis, in grateful acknowledgment
of the good blow which you have struck for the lilies of France;
and they, and the royal crown, and your own victorious sword, fit
and fair company for each other, shall be grouped in you
escutcheon and be and remain the symbol of your high nobility
As my Lady Du Lis rose, the gilded children of privilege pressed
forward to welcome her to their sacred ranks and call her by her
new name; but she was troubled, and said these honors were not
meet for one of her lowly birth and station, and by their kind grace
she would remain simple Joan of Arc, nothing more--and so be
Nothing more! As if there could be anything more, anything
higher, anything greater. My Lady Du Lis--why, it was tinsel, petty,
perishable. But, JOAN OF ARC! The mere sound of it sets one's
Chapter 24 Tinsel Trappings of Nobility
IT WAS vexatious to see what a to-do the whole town, and next
the whole country, made over the news. Joan of Arc ennobled by
the King! People went dizzy with wonder and delight over it. You
cannot imagine how she was gaped at, stared at, envied. Why, one
would have supposed that some great and fortunate thing had
happened to her. But we did not think any great things of it. To our
minds no mere human hand could add a glory to Joan of Arc. To
us she was the sun soaring in the heavens, and her new nobility a
candle atop of it; to us it was swallowed up and lost in her own
light. And she was as indifferent to it and as unconscious of it as
the other sun would have been.
But it was different with her brothers. They were proud and happy
in their new dignity, which was quite natural. And Joan was glad it
had been conferred, when she saw how pleased they were. It was a
clever thought in the King to outflank her scruples by marching on
them under shelter of her love for her family and her kin.
Jean and Pierre sported their coats-of-arms right away; and their
society was courted by everybody, the nobles and commons alike.
The Standard-Bearer said, with some touch of bitterness, that he
could see that they just felt good to be alive, they were so soaked
with the comfort of their glory; and didn't like to sleep at all,
because when they were asleep they didn't know they were noble,
and so sleep was a clean loss of time. And then he said:
"They can't take precedence of me in military functions and state
ceremonies, but when it comes to civil ones and society affairs I
judge they'll cuddle coolly in behind you and the knights, and No�l
and I will have to walk behind them--hey?"
"Yes," I said, "I think you are right."
"I was just afraid of it--just afraid of it," said the Standard-Bearer,
with a sigh. "Afraid of it? I'm talking like a fool; of course I knew
it. Yes, I was talking like a fool."
No�l Rainguesson said, musingly:
"Yes, I noticed something natural about the tone of it."
We others laughed.
"Oh, you did, did you? You think you are very clever, don't you?
I'll take and wring your neck for you one of these days, No�l
The Sieur de Metz said:
"Paladin, your fears haven't reached the top notch. They are away
below the grand possibilities. Didn't it occur to you that in civil
and society functions they will take precedence of all the rest of
the personal staff--every one of us?"
"You'll find it's so. Look at their escutcheon. Its chiefest feature is
the lilies of France. It's royal, man, royal--do you understand the
size of that? The lilies are there by authority of the King--do you
understand the size of that? Though not in detail and in entirety,
they do nevertheless substantially quarter the arms of France in
their coat. Imagine it! consider it! measure the magnitude of it! We
walk in front of those boys? Bless you, we've done that for the last
time. In my opinion there isn't a lay lord in this whole region that
can walk in front of them, except the Duke d'Alen�on, prince of
You could have knocked the Paladin down with a feather. He
seemed to actually turn pale. He worked his lips a moment without
getting anything out; then it came:
"I didn't know that, nor the half of it; how could I? I've been an
idiot. I see it now--I've been an idiot. I met them this morning, and
sung out hello to themjust as I would to anybody. I didn't mean to
be ill-mannered, but I didn't know the half of this that you've been
telling. I've been an ass. Yes, that is all there is to it--I've been an
No�l Rainguesson said, in a kind of weary way:
"Yes, that is likely enough; but I don't see why you should seem
surprised at it."
"You don't, don't you? Well, why don't you?"
"Because I don't see any novelty about it. With some people it is a
condition which is present all the time. Now you take a condition
which is present all the time, and the results of that condition will
be uniform; this uniformity of result will in time become
monotonous; monotonousness, by the law of its being, is fatiguing.
If you had manifested fatigue upon noticing that you had been an
ass, that would have been logical, that would have been rational;
whereas it seems to me that to manifest surprise was to be again an
ass, because the condition of intellect that can enable a person to
be surprised and stirred by inert monotonousness is a--"
"Now that is enough, No�l Rainguesson; stop where you are,
before you get yourself into trouble. And don't bother me any more
for some days or a week an it please you, for I cannot abide your
"Come, I like that! I didn't want to talk. I tried to get out of talking.
If you didn't want to hear my clack, what did you keep intruding
your conversation on me for?"
"I? I never dreamed of such a thing."
"Well, you did it, anyway. And I have a right to feel hurt, and I do
feel hurt, to have you treat me so. It seems to me that when a
person goads, and crowds, and in a manner forces another person
to talk, it is neither very fair nor very good-mannered to call what
he says clack."
"Oh, snuffle--do! and break your heart, you poor thing. Somebody
fetch this sick doll a sugar-rag. Look you, Sir Jean de Metz, do you
feel absolutely certain about that thing?"
"Why, that Jean and Pierre are going to take precedence of all the
lay noblesse hereabouts except the Duke d'Alen�on?"
"I think there is not a doubt of it."
The Standard-Bearer was deep in thoughts and dreams a few
moments, then the silk-and-velvet expanse of his vast breast rose
and fell with a sigh, and he said:
"Dear, dear, what a lift it is! It just shows what luck can do. Well, I
don't care. I shouldn't care to be a painted accident--I shouldn't
value it. I am prouder to have climbed up to where I am just by
sheer natural merit than I would be to ride the very sun in the
zenith and have to reflect that I was nothing but a poor little
accident, and got shot up there out of somebody else's catapult. To
me, merit is everything--in fact, the only thing. All else is dross."
Just then the bugles blew the assembly, and that cut our talk short.
Chapter 25 At Last--Forward!
THE DAYS began to waste away--and nothing decided,nothing
done. The army was full of zeal, but it was also hungry. It got no
pay, the treasury was getting empty, it was becoming impossible to
feed it; under pressure of privation it began to fall apart and
disperse--which pleased the trifling court exceedingly. Joan's
distress was pitiful to see. She was obliged to stand helpless while
her victorious army dissolved away until hardly the skeleton of it
At last one day she went to the Castle of Loches, where the King
was idling. She found him consulting with three of his councilors,
Robert le Ma�on, a former Chancellor of France, Christophe
d'Harcourt, and Gerard Machet. The Bastard of Orleans was
present also, and it is through him that we know what happened.
Joan threw herself at the King's feet and embraced his knees,
"Noble Dauphin, prithee hold no more of these long and numerous
councils, but come, and come quickly, to Rheims and receive your
Christophe d'Harcourt asked:
"Is it your Voices that command you to say that to the King?"
"Yes, and urgently."
"Then will you not tell us in the King's presence in what way the
Voices communicate with you?"
It was another sly attempt to trap Joan into indiscreet admissions
and dangerous pretensions. But nothing came of it. Joan's answer
was simple and straightforward, and the smooth Bishop was not
able to find any fault with it. She said that when she met with
people who doubted the truth of her mission she went aside and
prayed, complaining of the distrust of these, and then the
comforting Voices were heard at her ear saying, soft and low, "Go
forward, Daughter of God, and I will help thee." Then she added,
"When I hear that, the joy in my heart, oh, it is insupportable!"
The Bastard said that when she said these words her face lit up as
with a flame, and she was like one in an ecstasy.
Joan pleaded, persuaded, reasoned; gaining ground little by little,
but opposed step by step by the council. She begged, she implored,
leave to march. When they could answer nothing further, they
granted that perhaps it had been a mistake to let the army waste
away, but how could we help it now? how could we march without
"Raise one!" said Joan.
"But it will take six weeks."
"No matter--begin! let us begin!"
"It is too late. Without doubt the Duke of Bedford has been
gathering troops to push to the succor of his strongholds on the
"Yes, while we have been disbanding ours--and pity 'tis. But we
must throw away no more time; we must bestir ourselves."
The King objected that he could not venture toward Rheims with
those strong places on the Loire in his path. But Joan said:
"We will break them up. Then you can march."
With that plan the King was willing to venture assent. He could sit
around out of danger while the road was being cleared.
Joan came back in great spirits. Straightway everything was
stirring. Proclamations were issued calling for men, a
recruiting-camp was established at Selles in Berry, and the
commons and the nobles began to flock to it with enthusiasm.
A deal of the month of May had been wasted; and yet by the 6th of
June Joan had swept together a new army and was ready to march.
She had eight thousand men. Think of that. Think of gathering
together such a body as that in that little region. And these were
veteran soldiers, too. In fact, most of the men in France were
soldiers, when you came to that; for the wars had lasted
generations now. Yes, most Frenchmen were soldiers; and
admirable runners, too, both by practice and inheritance; they had
done next to nothing but run for near a century. But that was not
their fault. They had had no fair and proper leadership--at least
leaders with a fair and proper chance. Away back, King and Court
got the habit of being treacherous to the leaders; then the leaders
easily got the habit of disobeying the King and going their own
way, each for himself and nobody for the lot. Nobody could win
victories that way. Hence, running became the habit of the French
troops, and no wonder. Yet all that those troops needed in order to
be good fighters was a leader who would attend strictly to
business--a leader with all authority in his hands in place of a tenth
of it along with nine other generals equipped with an equal tenth
apiece. They had a leader rightly clothed with authority now, and
with a head and heart bent on war of the most intensely
businesslike and earnest sort--and there would be results. No doubt
of that. They had Joan of Arc; and under that leadership their legs
would lose the art and mystery of running.
Yes, Joan was in great spirits. She was here and there and
everywhere, all over the camp, by day and by night, pushing
things. And wherever she came charging down the lines, reviewing
the troops, it was good to hear them break out and cheer. And
nobody could help cheering, she was such a vision of young bloom
and beauty and grace, and such an incarnation of pluck and life
and go! she was growing more and more ideally beautiful every
day, as was plain to be seen--and these were days of development;
for she was well past seventeen now--in fact, she was getting close
upon seventeen and a half--indeed, just a little woman, as you may
The two young Counts de Laval arrived one day--fine young
fellows allied to the greatest and most illustrious houses of France;
and they could not rest till they had seen Joan of Arc. So the King
sent for them and presented them to her, and you may believe she
filled the bill of their expectations. When they heard that rich
voice of hers they must have thought it was a flute; and when they
saw her deep eyes and her face, and the soul that looked out of that
face, you could see that the sight of her stirred them like a poem,
like lofty eloquence, like martial music. One of them wrote home
to his people, and in his letter he said, "It seemed something divine
to see her and hear her." Ah, yes, and it was a true word. Truer
word was never spoken.
He saw her when she was ready to begin her march and open the
campaign, and this is what he said about it:
"She was clothed all in white armor save her head, and in her hand
she carried a little battle-ax; and when she was ready to mount her
great black horse he reared and plunged and would not let her.
Then she said, 'Lead him to the cross.' This cross was in front of
the church close by. So they led him there. Then she mounted, and
he never budged, any more than if he had been tied. Then she
turned toward the door of the church and said, in her soft womanly
voice, 'You, priests and people of the Church, make processions
and pray to God for us!' Then she spurred away, under her
standard, with her little ax in her hand, crying 'Forward--march!'
One of her brothers, who came eight days ago, departed with her;
and he also was clad all in white armor."
I was there, and I saw it, too; saw it all, just as he pictures it. And I
see it yet--the little battle-ax, the dainty plumed cap, the white
armor--all in the soft June afternoon; I see it just as if it were
yesterday. And I rode with the staff--the personal stdaff--the staff
of Joan of Arc.
That young count was dying to go, too, but the King held him back
for the present. But Joan had made him a promise. In his letter he
"She told me that when the King starts for Rheims I shall go with
him. But God grant I may not have to wait till then, but may have a
part in the battles!"
She made him that promise when she was taking leave of my lady
the Duchess d'Alen�on. The duchess was exacting a promise, so it
seemed a proper ttime for others to do the like. The duchess was
troubled for her husband, for she foresaw desperate fighting; and
she held Joan to her breast, and stroked her hair lovingly, and said:
"You must watch over him, dear, and take care of him, and send
him back to me safe. I require it of you; I will not let you go till
"I give you the promise with all my heart; and it is not just words,
it is a promise; you shall have him back without a hurt. Do you
believe? And are you satisfied with me now?"
The duchess could not speak, but she kissed Joan on the forehead;
and so they parted.
We left on the 6th and stopped over at Romorantin; then on the 9th
Joan entered Orleans in state, under triumphal arches, with the
welcoming cannon thundering and seas of welcoming flags
fluttering in the breeze. The Grand Staff rode with her, clothed in
shining splendors of costume and decorations: the Duke
d'Alen�on; the Bastard of Orleans; the Sire de Boussac, Marshal of
France; the Lord de Graville, Master of the Crossbowmen; the Sire
de Culan, Admiral of France; Ambroise de Lor�; �tienne de
Vignoles, called La Hire; Gautier de Brusac, and other illustrious
It was grand times; the usual shoutings and packed multitudes, the
usual crush to get sight of Joan; but at last we crowded through to
our old lodgings, and I saw old Boucher and the wife and that dear
Catherine gather Joan to their hearts and smother her with
kisses--and my heart ached tterso! for I could have kissed
Catherine better than anybody, and more and longer; yet was not
thought of for that office, and I so famished for it. Ah, she was so
beautiful, and oh, so sweet! I had loved her the first day I ever saw
her, and from that day forth she was sacred to me. I have carried
her image in my heart for sixty-three years--all lonely thee, yes,
solitary, for it never has had company--and I am grown so old, so
old; but it, oh, it is as fresh and young and merry and mischievous
and lovely and sweet and pure and witching and divine as it was
when it crept in there, bringing benediction and peace to its
habitation so long ago, so long ago--for it has not aged a day!
Chapter 26 The Last Doubts Scattered
THIS TIME, as before, the King's last command to the generals
was this: "See to it that you do nothing without the sanction of the
Maid." And this time the command was obeyed; and would
continue to be obeyed all through the coming great days of the
That was a change! That was new! It broke the traditions. It shows
you what sort of a reputation as a commander-in-chief the child
had made for herself in ten days in the field. It was a conquering of
men's doubts and suspicions and a capturing and solidifying of
men's belief and confidence such as the grayest veteran on the
Grand Staff had not been able to achieve in thirty years. Don't you
remember that when at sixteen Joan conducted her own case in a
grim court of law and won it, the old judge spoke of her as "this
marvelous child"? It was the right name, you see.
These veterans were not going to branch out and do things without
the sanction of the Maid--that is true; and it was a great gain. But
at the same time there were some among them who still trembled
at her new and dashing war tactics and earnestly desired to modify
them. And so, during the 10th, while Joan was slaving away at her
plans and issuing order after order with tireless industry, the
old-time consultations and arguings and speechifyings were going
on among certain of the generals.
In the afternoon of that day they came in a body to hold one of
these councils of war; and while they waited for Joan to join them
they discussed the situation. Now this discussion is not set down in
the histories; but I was there, and I will speak of it, as knowing you
will trust me, I not being given to beguiling you with lies.
Gautier de Brusac was spokesman for the timid ones; Joan's side
was resolutely upheld by d'Alen�on, the Bastard, La Hire, the
Admiral of France, the Marshal de Boussac, and all the other really
De Brusac argued that the situation was very grave; that Jargeau,
the first point of attack, was formidably strong; its imposing walls
bristling with artillery; with seven thousand picked English
veterans behind them, and at their head the great Earl of Suffolk
and his two redoubtable brothers, the De la Poles. It seemed to him
that the proposal of Joan of Arc to try to take such a place by storm
was a most rash and over-daring idea, and she ought to be
persuaded to relinquish it in favor of the soberer and safer
procedure of investment by regular siege. It seemed to him that
this fiery and furious new fashion of hurling masses of men against
impregnable walls of stone, in defiance of the established laws and
usages of war, was--
But he got no further. La Hire gave his plumed helm an impatient
toss and burst out with:
"By God, she knows her trade, and none can teach it her!"
And before he could get out anything more, D'Alen�on was on his
feet, and the Bastard of Orleans, and a half a dozen others, all
thundering at once, and pouring out their indignant displeasure
upon any and all that mid hold, secretly or publicly, distrust of the
wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief. And when they had said their
say, La Hire took a chance again, and said:
"There are some that never know how to change. Circumstances
may change, but those people are never able to see that they have
got to change too, to meet those circumstances. All that they know
is the one beaten track that their fathers and grandfathers have
followed and that they themselves have followed in their turn. If
an earthquake come and rip the land to chaos, and that beaten
track now lead over precipices and into morasses, those people
can't learn that they must strike out a new road--no; they will
march stupidly along and follow the old one, to death and
perdition. Men, there's a new state of things; and a surpassing
military genius has perceived it with her clear eye. And a new road
is required, and that same clear eye has noted where it must go,
and has marked it out for us. The man does not live, never has
lived, never will live, that can improve upon it! The old state of
things was defeat, defeat, defeat--and by consequence we had
troops with no dash, no heart, no hope. Would you assault stone
walls with such? No--there was but one way with that kind: sit
down before a place and wait, wait--starve it out, if you could. The
new case is the very opposite; it is this: men all on fire with pluck
and dash and vim and fury and energy--a restrained conflagration!
What would you do with it? Hold it down and let it smolder and
perish and go out? What would Joan of Arc do with it? Turn it
loose, by the Lord God of heaven and earth, and let it swallow up
the foe in the whirlwind of its fires! Nothing shows the splendor
and wisdom of her military genius like her instant comprehension
of the size of the change which has come about, and her instant
perception of the right and only right way to take advantage of it.
With her is no sitting down and starving out; no dilly-dallying and
fooling around; no lazying, loafing, and going to sleep; no, it is
storm! storm! storm! and still storm! storm! storm! and forever
storm! storm! storm! hunt the enemy to his hole, then turn her
French hurricanes loose and carry him by storm! And that is my
sort! Jargeau? What of Jargeau, with its battlements and towers, its
devastating artillery, its seven thousand picked veterans? Joan of
Arc is to the fore, and by the splendor of God its fate is sealed!"
Oh, he carried them. There was not another word said about
persuading Joan to change her tactics. They sat talking
comfortably enough after that.
By and by Joan entered, and they rose and saluted with their
swords, and she asked what their pleasure might be. La Hire said:
"It is settled, my General. The matter concerned Jargeau. There
were some who thought we could not take the place."
Joan laughed her pleasant laugh, her merry, carefree laugh; the
laugh that rippled so buoyantly from her lips and made old people
feel young again to hear it; and she said to the company:
"Have no fears--indeed, there is no need nor any occasion for
them. We will strike the English boldly by assault, and you will
see." Then a faraway look came into her eyes, and I think that a
picture of her home drifted across the vision of her mind; for she
said very gently, and as one who muses, "But that I know God
guides us and will give us success, I had liefer keep sheep than
endure these perils."
We had a homelike farewell supper that evening--just the personal
staff and the family. Joan had to miss it; for the city had given a
banquet in her honor, and she had gone there in state with the
Grand Staff, through a riot of joy-bells and a sparkling Milky Way
After supper some lively young folk whom we knew came in, and
we presently forgot that we were soldiers, and only remembered
that we were boys and girls and full of animal spirits and long-pent
fun; and so there was dancing, and games, and romps, and screams
of laughter--just as extravagant and innocent and noisy a good time
as ever I had in my life. Dear, dear, how long ago it was!--and I
was young then. And outside, all the while, was the measured
tramp of marching battalions, belated odds and ends of the French
power gathering for the morrow's tragedy on the grim stage of war.
Yes, in those days we had those contrasts side by side. And as I
passed along to bed there was another one: the big Dwarf, in brave
new armor, sat sentry at Joan's door--the stern Spirit of War made
flesh, as it were--and on his ample shoulder was curled a kitten
Chapter 27 How Joan Took Jargeau
WE MADE a gallant show next day when we filed out through the
frowning gates of Orleans, with banners flying and Joan and the
Grand Staff in the van of the long column. Those two young De
Lavals were come now, and were joined to the Grand Staff. Which
was well; war being their proper trade, for they were grandsons of
that illustrious fighter Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France
in earlier days. Louis de Bourbon, the Marshal de Rais, and the
Vidame de Chartres were added also. We had a right to feel a little
uneasy, for we knew that a force of five thousand men was on its
way under Sir John Fastolfe to reinforce Jargeau, but I think we
were not uneasy, nevertheless. In truth, that force was not yet in
our neighborhood. Sir John was loitering; for some reason or other
he was not hurrying. He was losing precious time--four days at
�tampes, and four more at Janville.
We reached Jargeau and began business at once. Joan sent forward
a heavy force which hurled itself against the outworks in
handsome style, and gained a footing and fought hard to keep it;
but it presently began to fall back before a sortie from the city.
Seeing this, Joan raised her battle-cry and led a new assault herself
under a furious artillery fire. The Paladin was struck down at her
side wounded, but she snatched her standard from his failing hand
and plunged on through the ruck of flying missiles, cheering her
men with encouraging cries; and then for a good time one had
turmoil, and clash of steel, and collision and confusion of
struggling multitudes, and the hoarse bellowing of the guns; and
then the hiding of it all under a rolling firmament of smoke--a
firmament through which veiled vacancies appeared for a moment
now and then, giving fitful dim glimpses of the wild tragedy
enacting beyond; and always at these times one caught sight of that
slight figure in white mail which was the center and soul of our
hope and trust, and whenever we saw that, with its back to us and
its face to the fight, we knew that all was well. At last a great shout
went up--a joyous roar of shoutings, in fact--and that was sign
sufficient that the faubourgs were ours.
Yes, they were ours; the enemy had been driven back within the
walls. On the ground which Joan had won we camped; for night
was coming on.
Joan sent a summons to the English, promising that if they
surrendered she would allow them to go in peace and take their
horses with them. Nobody knew that she could take that strong
place, but she knew it--knew it well; yet she offered that
grace--offered it in a time when such a thing was unknown in war;
in a time when it was custom and usage to massacre the garrison
and the inhabitants of captured cities without pity or
compunctin--yes, even to the harmless women and children
sometimes. There are neighbors all about you who well remember
the unspeakable atrocities which Charles the Bold inflicted upon
the men and women and children of Dinant when he took that
place some years ago. It was a unique and kindly grace which Joan
offered that garrison; but that was her way, that was her loving and
merciful nature--she always did her best to save her enemy's life
and his soldierly pride when she had the mastery of him.
The English asked fifteen days' armistice to consider the proposal
in. And Fastolfe coming with five thousand men! Joan said no. But
she offered another grace: they might take both their horses and
their side-arms--but they must go within the hour.
Well, those bronzed English veterans were pretty hard-headed
folk. They declined again. Then Joan gave command that her army
be made ready to move to the assault at nine in the morning.
Considering the deal of marching and fighting which the men had
done that day, D'Alen�on thought the hour rather early; but Joan
said it was best so, and so must be obeyed. Then she burst out with
one of those enthusiasms which were always burning in her when
battle was imminent, and said:
Work! work! and God will work with us!"
Yes, one might say that her motto was "Work! stick to it; keep on
working!" for in war she never knew what indolence was. And
whoever will take that motto and live by it will likely to succeed.
There's many a way to win in this world, but none of them is worth
much without good hard work back out of it.
I think we should have lost our big Standard-Bearer that day, if our
bigger Dwarf had not been at hand to bring him out of the m�l�e
when he was wounded. He was unconscious, and would have been
trampled to death by our own horse, if the Dwarf had not promptly
rescued him and haled him to the rear and safety. He recovered,
and was himself again after two or three hours; and then he was
happy and proud, and made the most of his wound, and went
swaggering around in his bandages showing off like an innocent
big-child--which was just what he was. He was prouder of being
wounded than a really modest person would be of being killed. But
there was no harm in his vanity, and nobody minded it. He said he
was hit by a stone from a catapult--a stone the size of a man's head.
But the stone grew, of course. Before he got through with it he was
claiming that the enemy had flung a building at him.
"Let him alone," said No�l Rainguesson. "Don't interrupt his
processes. To-morrow it will be a cathedral."
He said that privately. And, sure enough, to-morrow it was a
cathedral. I never saw anybody with such an abandoned
Joan was abroad at the crack of dawn, galloping here and there and
yonder, examining the situation minutely, and choosing what she
considered the most effective positions for her artillery; and with
such accurate judgment did she place her guns that her
Lieutenant-General's admiration of it still survived in his memory
when his testimony was taken at the Rehabilitation, a quarter of a
In this testimony the Duke d'Alen�on said that at Jargeau that
morning of the 12th of June she made her dispositions not like a
novice, but "with the sure and clear judgment of a trained general
of twenty or thirty years' experience."
The veteran captains of the armies of France said she was great in
war in all ways, but greatest of all in her genius for posting and
Who taught the shepherd-girl to do these marvels--she who could
not read, and had had no opportunity to study the complex arts of
war? I do not know any way to solve such a baffling riddle as that,
there being no precedent for it, nothing in history to compare it
with and examine it by. For in history there is no great general,
however gifted, who arrived at success otherwise than through able
teaching and hard study and some experience. It is a riddle which
will never be guessed. I think these vast powers and capacities
were born in her, and that she applied them by an intuition which
could not err.
At eight o'clock all movement ceased, and with it all sounds, all
noise. A mute expectancy reigned. The stillness was something
awful--because it meant so much. There was no air stirring. The
flags on the towers and ramparts hung straight down like tassels.
Wherever one saw a person, that person had stopped what he was
doing, and was in a waiting attitude, a listening attitude. We were
on a commanding spot, clustered around Joan. Not far from us, on
every hand, were the lanes and humble dwellings of these outlying
suburbs. Many people were visible--all were listening, not one was
moving. A man had placed a nail; he was about to fasten
something with it to the door-post of his shop--but he had stopped.
There was his hand reaching up holding the nail; and there was his
other hand n the act of striking with the hammer; but he had
forgotten everything--his head was turned aside listening. Even
children unconsciously stopped in their play; I saw a little boy with
his hoop-stick pointed slanting toward the ground in the act of
steering the hoop around the corner; and so he had stopped and
was listening--the hoop was rolling away, doing its own steering. I
saw a young girl prettily framed in an open window, a
watering-pot in her hand and window-boxes of red flowers under
its spout--but the water had ceased to flow; the girl was listening.
Everywhere were these impressive petrified forms; and
everywhere was suspended movement and that awful stillness.
Joan of Arc raised her sword in the air. At the signal, the silence
was torn to rags; cannon after cannon vomited flames and smoke
and delivered its quaking thunders; and we saw answering tongues
of fire dart from the towers and walls of the city, accompanied by
answering deep thunders, and in a minute the walls and the towers
disappeared, and in their place stood vast banks and pyramids of
snowy smoke, motionless in the dead air. The startled girl dropped
her watering-pot and clasped her hands together, and at that
moment a stone cannon-ball crashed through her fair body.
The great artillery duel went on, each side hammering away with
all its might; and it was splendid for smoke and noise, and most
exalting to one's spirits. The poor little town around about us
suffered cruelly. The cannon-balls tore through its slight buildings,
wrecking them as if they had been built of cards; and every
moment or two one would see a huge rock come curving through
the upper air above the smoke-clouds and go plunging down
through the roofs. Fire broke out, and columns of flame and smoke
rose toward the sky.
Presently the artillery concussions changed the weather. The sky
became overcast, and a strong wind rose and blew away the smoke
that hid the English fortresses.
Then the spectacle was fine; turreted gray walls and towers, and
streaming bright flags, and jets of red fire and gushes of white
smoke in long rows, all standing out with sharp vividness against
the deep leaden background of the sky; and then the whizzing
missiles began to knock up the dirt all around us, and I felt no
more interest in the scenery. There was one English gun that was
getting our position down finer and finer all the time. Presently
Joan pointed to it and said:
"Fair duke, step out of your tracks, or that machine will kill you."
The Duke d'Alen�on did as he was bid; but Monsieur du Lude
rashly took his place, and that cannon tore his head off in a
Joan was watching all along for the right time to order the assault.
At last, about nine o'clock, she cried out:
"Now--to the assault!" and the buglers blew the charge.
Instantly we saw the body of men that had been appointed to this
service move forward toward a point where the concentrated fire
of our guns had crumbled the upper half of a broad stretch of wall
to ruins; we saw this force descend into the ditch and begin to
plant the scaling-ladders. We were soon with them. The
Lieutenant-General thought the assault premature. But Joan said:
"Ah, gentle duke, are you afraid? Do you not know that I have
promised to send you home safe?"
It was warm work in the ditches. The walls were crowded with
men, and they poured avalanches of stones down upon us. There
was one gigantic Englishman who did us more hurt than any dozen
of his brethren. He always dominated the places easiest of assault,
and flung down exceedingly troublesome big stones which
smashed men and ladders both--then he would near burst himself
with laughing over what he had done. But the duke settled
accounts with him. He went and found the famous cannoneer, Jean
le Lorrain, and said:
"Train your gun--kill me this demon."
He did it with the first shot. He hit the Englishman fair in the
breast and knocked him backward into the city.
The enemy's resistance was so effective and so stubborn that our
people began to show signs of doubt and dismay. Seeing this, Joan
raised her inspiring battle-cry and descended into the fosse herself,
the Dwarf helping her and the Paladin sticking bravely at her side
with the standard. She started up a scaling-ladder, but a great stone
flung from above came crashing down upon her helmet and
stretched her, wounded and stunned, upon the ground. But only for
a moment. The Dwarf stood her upon her feet, and straightway she
started up the ladder again, crying:
"To the assault, friends, to the assault--the English are ours! It is
the appointed hour!"
There was a grand rush, and a fierce roar of war-cries, and we
swarmed over the ramparts like ants. The garrison fled, we
pursued; Jargeau was ours!
The Earl of Suffolk was hemmed in and surrounded, and the Duke
d'Alen�on and the Bastard of Orleans demanded that he surrender
himself. But he was a proud nobleman and came of a proud race.
He refused to yield his sword to subordinates, saying:
"I will die rather. I will surrender to the Maid of Orleans alone,
and to no other."
And so he did; and was courteously and honorably used by her.
His two brothers retreated, fighting step by step, toward the bridge,
we pressing their despairing forces and cutting them down by
scores. Arrived on the bridge, the slaughter still continued.
Alexander de la Pole was pushed overboard or fell over, and was
drowned. Eleven hundred men had fallen; John de la Pole decided
to give up the struggle. But he was nearly as proud and particular
as his brother of Suffolk as to whom he would surrender to. The
French officer nearest at hand was Guillaume Renault, who was
pressing him closely. Sir John said to him:
"Are you a gentleman?"
"And a knight?"
Then Sir John knighted him himself there on the bridge, giving
him the accolade with English coolness and tranquillity in the
midst of that storm of slaughter and mutilation; and then bowing
with high courtesy took the sword by the blade and laid the hilt of
it in the man's hand in token of surrender. Ah, yes, a proud tribe,
those De la Poles.
It was a grand day, a memorable day, a most splendid victory. We
had a crowd of prisoners, but Joan would not allow them to be
hurt. We took them with us and marched into Orleans next day
through the usual tempest of welcome and joy.
And this time there was a new tribute to our leader. From
everywhere in the packed streets the new recruits squeezed their
way to her side to touch the sword of Joan of Arc and draw from it
somewhat of that mysterious quality which made it invincible.