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A Monk of Fife by Andrew Lang

Part 3 out of 6

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shall be wounded by an arrow under Orleans, yet shall she not die,
but be healed of that wound, and shall lead the King to his sacring
at Rheims. So now, verily, for you I have no fear, but my heart is
sore for the Maid's sake, and her wound."

None the less, she made as if she would dance for joy, and I could
have done as much, not, indeed, that as then I put my faith in
prophecies, but for gladness that I was to take my fortune in the
wars. So the hours passed in great mirth and good cheer. Many
things we spoke of, as concerning the mother of the Maid--how wise
she was, yet in a kind of amazement, and not free from fear,
wherefore she prayed constantly for her child.

Moreover Elliot told me that the jackanapes was now hers of right,
for that the woman, its owner, had been at Puy, but without her man,
and had sold it to her, as to a good mistress, yet with tears at
parting. This news was none of the gladdest to me, for still I
feared that tidings of us might come to Brother Thomas. Howbeit, at
last, with a light heart, though I was leaving Elliot, I went back
to the castle. There Aymar de Puiseux, meeting me, made me the best
countenance, and gave me a right good horse, that I named Capdorat
after him, by his good will. And for my armour, which must needs be
light, they gave me a maillet--a coat of slender mail, which did not
gall my old wound. So accoutred, I departed next day, in good
company, to Blois, whence the Maid was to set forth to Orleans.
Marvel it was to find the road so full of bestial--oxen, cows,
sheep, and swine--all gathered, as if to some great market, for the
victualling of Orleans. But how they were to be got through the
English lines into the city men knew not. For the English, by this
time, had girdled the city all about with great bastilles, each
joined to other by sunken ways dug in the earth, wherein were
streets, and marts, and chambers with fires and chimneys, as I have
written in my Latin chronicle. {24} There false Frenchmen came, as
to a fair, selling and buying, with store of food, wine, arms, and
things of price, buying and selling in safety, for the cannon and
couleuvrines in the town could not touch them. But a word ran
through the host how the Maid knew, by inspiration of the saints,
that no man should sally forth from among the English, but that we
should all pass unharmed.

Meantime the town of Blois was in great turmoil--the cattle lowing
in the streets, the churches full to the doors of men-at-arms,
waiting their turn to be shrived, for the Maid had ordained that all
who followed her must go clean of sin. And there was great wailing
of light o' loves, and leaguer lasses that had followed the army, as
is custom, for this custom the Maid did away, and drove these women
forth, and whither they wandered I know not. Moreover, she made
proclamation that all dice, and tabliers, and instruments of
gambling must be burned, and myself saw the great pile yet smoking
in the public place, for this was to be a holy war. So we lodged at
Blois, where the Maid showed me the best countenance, speaking
favourable words of Elliot and me, and bidding me keep near her
banner in battle, which I needed no telling to make me resolve to
do. So there, for that night, we rested.

CHAPTER XII--HOW THE MAID CAME TO ORLEANS, AND OF THE DOLOROUS
STROKE THAT FIRST SHE STRUCK IN WAR

Concerning the ways of the saints, and their holy counsel, it is not
for sinful men to debate, but verify their ways are not as our ways,
as shall presently be shown, in the matter of the Maid's march to
Orleans.

For the town of Blois, where now we lay, is, as all men know, on the
right bank of the water of Loire, a great river, wider and deeper
and stronger by far than our Tay or Tweed, and the town of Orleans,
whither we were bound, is also on the same side, namely, the right
side of the river. Now, Orleans was beleaguered in this manner:
The great stone bridge had been guarded, on the left, or further
side of the stream, first by a boulevard, or strong keep on the
land, whence by a drawbridge men crossed to a yet stronger keep,
called "Les Tourelles," builded on the last arches of the bridge.
But early in the siege the English had taken from them of Orleans
the boulevard and Les Tourelles, and an arch of the bridge had been
broken, so that in nowise might men-at-arms of the party of France
enter into Orleans by way of that bridge from the left bank through
the country called Sologne.

Yet that keep, Les Tourelles, had not been a lucky prize to our
enemies of England. For their great captain, the Lord Salisbury,
had a custom to watch them of Orleans and their artillery from a
window in that tower, and, to guard him from arrow-shots, he had a
golden shield pierced with little holes to look through, that he
held before his face. One day he came into this turret when they
who worked the guns in Orleans were all at their meat. But it so
chanced that two boys, playing truant from school, went into a niche
of the wall, where was a cannon loaded and aimed at Les Tourelles.
They, seeing the gleam of the golden shield at the window of the
turret, set match to the touch-hole of the cannon, and, as Heaven
would have it, the ball struck a splinter of stone from the side of
the window, which, breaking through the golden shield, slew my Lord
of Salisbury, a good knight. Thus plainly that tower was to be of
little comfort to the English.

None the less, as they held Les Tourelles and the outer landward
boulevard thereof, the English built but few works on the left side
of the river, namely, Champ St. Prive, that guarded the road by the
left bank from Blois; Les Augustins, that was a little inland from
the boulevard of Les Tourelles, so that no enemy might pass between
these two holds; and St. Jean le Blanc, that was higher up the
river, and a hold of no great strength. On the Orleans side, to
guard the road from Burgundy, the English had but one fort, St.
Loup, for Burgundy and the north were of their part, and by this way
they expected no enemy. But all about Orleans, on the right bank of
the river, to keep the path from Blois on that hand, the English had
builded many great bastilles, and had joined them by hollow ways,
wherein, as I said, they lived at ease, as men in a secure city
underground. And the skill of it was to stop convoys of food, and
starve them of Orleans, for to take the town by open force the
English might in nowise avail, they being but some four thousand
men-at-arms.

Thus Matters stood, and it was the Maid's mind to march her men and
all the cattle clean through and past the English bastilles on the
right side of the river, and by inspiration she well knew that no
man would come forth against us. Moreover, she saw not how, by the
other way, and the left bank, the cattle might be ferried across,
and the great company of men-at-arms, into Orleans town, under the
artillery of the English. For the English held the pass of the
broken bridge, as I said, and therefore all crossing of the water
must be by boat.

Now, herein it was shown, as often again, that the ways of the
saints are not as our ways. For the captains, namely, the Sieur de
Rais (who afterwards came to the worst end a man might), and La
Hire, and Ambroise de Lore, and De Gaucourt, in concert with the
Bastard of Orleans, then commanding for the King in that town, gave
the simple Maid to understand that Orleans was on the left bank of
the river. This they did, because they were faithless and slow of
belief, and feared that so great a company as ours might in nowise
pass Meun and Beaugency, towns of the English, and convey so many
cattle through the bastilles on the right bank. Therefore, with
many priests going before, singing the Veni Creator, with holy
banners as on a pilgrimage; with men-at-arms, archers, pages, and
trains of carts; and with bullocks rowting beneath the goad, and
swine that are very hard to drive, and slow-footed sheep, we all
crossed the bridge of Blois on the morning of April 25th.

Now, had the holy saints deemed it wise and for our good to act as
men do, verily they would have spoken to the Maid, telling her that
we were all going clean contrary to her counsel. Nevertheless, the
saints held their peace, and let us march on. Belike they designed
that this should turn to the greater glory of the Maid and to the
confusion of them that disbelieved, which presently befell, as I
shall relate.

All one day of spring we rode, and slept beneath the stars, the Maid
lying in her armour, so that as one later told me who knew, namely,
Elliot, her body was sorely bruised with her harness. Early in the
morning we mounted again, and so rode north, fetching a compass
inland; after noontide we came to a height, and lo! beneath us lay
the English bastilles and holds on the left bank, and, beyond the
glittering river and the broken bridge, the towers and walls of
Orleans. Then I saw the Maid in anger, for well she knew that she
had been deceived by them who should have guided her. Between us
and the town of Orleans lay the wide river, the broken bridge, and
the camps of the English. On the further shore we beheld the people
swarming on the walls and quays, labouring to launch boats with
sails, and so purposing to ascend the river against the stream and
meet us two leagues beyond the English lines. But this they might
not do, for a strong wind was blowing down stream, and all their
vessels were in disarray.

The Maid spurred to the front, where were De Rais, Lore, Kennedy,
and La Hire. We could see her pointing with her staff, and hear
speech high and angry, but the words we could not hear. The
captains looked downcast, as children caught in a fault, and well
they might, for we were now as far off victualling Orleans as ever
we had been. The Maid pointed to the English keep at St. Jean le
Blanc, on our side of the water, and, as it seems, was fain to
attack it; but the English had drawn off their men to the stronger
places on the bridge, and to hold St. Jean le Blanc against them, if
we took it, we had no strength. So we even wended, from the height
of Olivet, for six long miles, till we reached the stream opposite
Checy, where was an island. A rowing-boat, with a knight in
glittering arms, was pulled across the stream, and the Maid, in her
eagerness, spurred her steed deep into the water to meet him. He
was a young man, brown of visage, hardy and fierce, and on his
shield bore the lilies of Orleans, crossed with a baton sinister.
He bowed low to the Maid, who cried -

"Are you the Bastard of Orleans?"

"I am," he said, "and right glad of your coming."

"Was it you who gave counsel that I should come by this bank, and
not by the other side, and so straight against Talbot and the
English?"

She spoke as a master to a faulty groom, fierce and high, and to
hear her was marvel.

"I, and wiser men than I, gave that counsel," said he, "deeming this
course the surer."

"Nom Dieu!" she cried. "The council of Messire is safer and wiser
than yours." She pointed to the rude stream, running rough and
strong, a great gale following with it, so that no sailing-boats
might come from the town. "You thought to beguile me, and are
yourselves beguiled, for I bring you better succour than ever came
to knight or town--the help of the King of Heaven."

Then, even as she spoke, and as by miracle, that fierce wind went
right about, and blew straight up the stream, and the sails of the
vessels filled.

"This is the work of our Lord," said the Bastard of Orleans,
crossing himself: and the anger passed from the eyes of the Maid.

Then he and Nicole de Giresme prayed her to pass the stream with
them, and to let her host march back to Blois and so come to
Orleans, crossing by the bridge of Blois. To this she said nay,
that she could not leave her men out of her sight, lest they fell to
sin again, and all her pains were lost. But, with many prayers, her
confessor Pasquerel joining in them, she was brought to consent. So
the host, with priests and banners, must set forth again to Blois,
while the Maid, and we that were of her company, crossed the river
in boats, and so rode towards the town. On this way (the same is a
road of the old Romans) the English held a strong fort, called St.
Loup, and well might they have sallied forth against us. But the
people of Orleans, who ever bore themselves more hardily than any
townsfolk whom I have known, made an onfall against St. Loup, that
the English within might not sally out against us, where was fierce
fighting, and they took a standard from the English.

So, at nightfall, the Maid, with the Bastard and other captains at
her side, rode into the town, all the people welcoming her with
torches in hand, shouting Noel! as to a king, throwing flowers
before her horse's feet, and pressing to touch her, or even the
harness of her horse, which leaped and plunged, for the fire of a
torch caught the fringe of her banner. Lightly she spurred and
turned him, and lightly she caught at the flame with her hand and
quenched it, while all men marvelled at her grace and goodly
bearing.

Never saw I more joy of heart, for whereas all had feared to fall
into the hands of the English, now there was such courage in them,
as if Monseigneur St. Michael himself, or Monseigneur St Aignan, had
come down from heaven to help his good town. If they were hardy
before, as indeed they were, now plainly they were full of such
might and fury that man might not stand against them. And soon it
was plain that no less fear had fallen on the English. But the
Maid, with us who followed her, was led right through the great
street of Orleans, from the Burgundy gate to the gate Regnart,
whereby the fighting was ever most fell, and there we lodged in the
house of the Treasurer of the Duke of Orleans, Jacquet Boucher.
Never was sleep sweeter to me, after the two weary marches, and the
sounds of music and revelry in the street did not hum a moment in my
ears, before I had passed into that blessed world of slumber without
a dream.

But my waking next day brought instantly the thought of my brother
Robin, concerning whom I had ever feared that he fell with the
flower of Scotland, when the Comte de Clermont deserted us so
shamefully on the day of the Battle of the Herrings. No sooner did
this doubt come into my mind, than I leaped from my bed, attired
myself, and went forth to the quarters of the Scots under Sir
Christian Chambers. Little need I had to tell my errand, for they
that met me guessed who I was, because, indeed, Robin and I favoured
each other greatly in face and bodily presence.

It was even as I had deemed: my dear brother and friend and tutor
of old days had died, charging back upon the English who pursued us,
and fighting by the side of Pothon de Xaintrailles. All that day,
and in the week which followed, my thought was ever upon him; a look
in a stranger's face, a word on another's lips, by some magic of the
mind would bring my brother almost visibly before me, ay, among the
noise of swords on mail, and the screaming of arrows, and of great
cannon-balls.

If I heard ill news, it was no more than I looked for; but better
news, as it seemed, I also heard, though, in my sorrow, I marked it
little. For the soldiers were lamenting the loss of their famed
gunner, not John the Lorrainer, but one who had come to them, they
said, now some weeks agone, in the guise of a cordelier, though he
did not fight in that garb, but in common attire, and ever wore his
vizor down, which men deemed strange. Whither he had gone, or how
disappeared, they knew not, for he had not been with those who
yesterday attacked St. Loup.

"He could never thole the thought of the Blessed Maid," said Allan
Rutherford, "but would tell all that listened how she was a brain-
sick wench, or a witch, and under her standard he would never fight.
He even avowed to us that she had been a chamber-wench of an inn in
Neufchateau, and there had learned to back a horse, and many a worse
trick," which was a lie devised by the English and them of Burgundy.
But, go where he would, or how he would, I deemed it well that
Brother Thomas and I (for of a surety it was Brother Thomas) were
not to meet in Orleans.

Concerning the English in this wonderful adventure of the siege, I
have never comprehended, nor do I now know, wherefore they bore them
as they did. That they sallied not out on the trains which the Maid
led and brought into the town, a man might set down to mere
cowardice and faint heart--they fearing to fight against a witch, as
they deemed her. In later battles, when she had won so many a
victory, they may well have feared her. But, as now, they showed no
dread where honour was to be won, but rather pride and disdain. On
this very Saturday, the morrow of our arrival, La Hire, with Florent
d'Illiers and many other knights, pushed forth a matter of two
bowshots from the city walls, and took a keep that they thought to
have burned. They were very hardy men, and being comforted by the
Maid's coming, were full of courage and goodwill; yet the English
rallied and drove them back, with much firing of guns, and now first
I heard the din of war and saw the great stone balls fly,
scattering, as they fell, into splinters that screamed in the air,
with a very terrible sound. Truly the English had the better of
that fray, and were no whit adread, for at sunset the Maid sent them
two heralds, bidding them begone; yet they answered only that they
would burn her for a witch, and called her a ribaulde, or loose
wench, and bade her go back and keep her kine.

I was with her when this message came, and her brows met and her
eyes flashed with anger. Telling us of her company to follow, she
went to the Fair Cross on the bridge, where now her image stands,
fashioned in bronze, kneeling before the Cross, with the King
kneeling opposite. There she stood and cried aloud to the English,
who were in the fort on the other side of the bridge that is called
Les Tourelles, and her voice rang across the water like a trumpet,
so that it was marvel. Then came out on to the bridge a great
knight and a tall, Sir William Glasdale; no bigger man have I seen,
and I bethought me of Goliath in Holy Scripture. He spoke in a
loud, north-country voice, and, whereas she addressed him
courteously, as she did all men, he called her by the worst of
names, mocking at her for a ribaulde. She made answer that he lied,
and that he should die in four days' time or five, without stroke of
sword; and so, waving her hand haughtily, turned and went back. But
I, who walked close by her, noted that she wept like any girl at his
evil and lying accusations.

Next day was Sunday, and no stroke was struck, but the Bastard of
Orleans set forth to bring back the army from Blois. And on Monday
the Maid rode out and under the very walls of the English keeps, the
townsfolk running by her rein, as if secure in her company; yet no
man came forth against them, which was marvel. And on the
Wednesday, the Maid, with many knights, rode forth two leagues, and
met the Bastard of Orleans and all the array from Blois, and all the
flocks and herds that were sent to Orleans by the good towns. Right
beneath the forts of the English they rode and marched, with
chanting of hymns, priests leading the way, but none dared meddle
with them. Yet a child might have seen that now or never was the
chance: howbeit Talbot and Glasdale and Scales, men well learned in
war, let fire not even a single cannon. It may be that they feared
an attack of the Orleans folk on their bastilles, if they drew out
their men. For, to tell the plain truth, the English had not men-
at-arms enough for the task they took in hand; but they oft achieve
much with but little force, and so presume the more, sometimes to
their undoing. And, till the Maid came, ten of them could chase a
hundred of the French.

So the Maid returned, leading the army, and then, being very weary,
she went into her chamber, and lay down on a couch to sleep, her
esquire, D'Aulon, also resting in the room, where were the lady and
a daughter of the house, one Charlotte Boucher. There was I,
devising idly with her page, Louis de Coutes, a boy half Scots by
birth, and good-brother to Messire Florent d'Illiers, who had
married his sister. But alas! he was more French than Scots, and
later he left the Maid. But then we were playing ourselves at the
door of the house, and all was still, the men-at-arms reposing, as
we deemed, after their march. Then suddenly the Maid ran forth to
us, her face white and her eyes shining, and cried to Louis de
Coutes, in great anger -

"Wretched boy, the blood of France is being shed, and you told me no
word of it!"

"Demoiselle," said he, trembling, "I wotted not of it. What mean
you?"

And I also stood in amaze, for we had heard no sound of arms.

"Go, fetch my horse," she said, and was gone.

I went with him, and we saddled and bridled a fresh courser
speedily; but when we reached the door, she stood there already
armed, and sprang on the horse, crying for her banner, that De
Coutes gave her out of the upper window. Then her spurs were in her
horse's side, and the sparks flying from beneath his hoofs, as she
galloped towards St. Loup, the English fort on the Burgundy road.
Thither we followed her, with what speed we might, yet over tardily;
and when we came through crowds of people, many bearing the wounded
on litters, there was she, under the wall of that fort, in a rain of
arrows, holding up her banner, and crying on the French and Scots to
the charge. They answered with a cry, and went on, De Coutes and I
pressing forward to be with them; but ere ever we could gain the
fosse, the English had been overwhelmed, and, for the more part,
slain. For, as we found, the French captains had commanded an
attack on St. Loup, and had told the Maid no word of it, whether as
desiring to win honour without her, or to spare her from the peril
of the onslaught, I know not. But their men were giving ground,
when by the monition of the saints, as I have shown, she came to
them and turned the fray.

Of the English, as I said, most were slain, natheless certain men in
priests' raiment came forth from the Church of St. Loup, and very
humbly begged their lives of the Maid, who, turning to D'Aulon, her
esquire, bade him, with De Coutes and me, and such men as we could
gather, to have charge of them and be answerable for them.

So, while the French were plundering, we mustered these priests
orderly together, they trembling and telling their beads, and we
stood before them for their guard. False priests, I doubt, many of
them were, Englishmen who had hastily done on such holy robes as
they found in the church of St Loup. Now Louis de Coutes, being but
a boy, and of a mad humour, cried -

"'Cucullus non facit monachum!' Good sirs, let us see your reverend
tonsures."

With that he twitched the hood from the head of a tall cordelier,
who, without more ado, felled him to the earth with his fist.

The hood was off but for a flash of time, yet I saw well the shining
wolf's eyes and the long dark face of Brother Thomas. So, in the
pictures of the romance of Renard Fox, have I seen Isengrim the wolf
in the friar's hood.

"Felon and traitor!" I cried, and drawing my sword, was about to run
him through the body, when my hand was stunned by a stroke, and the
sword dropped from it. I turned, in great anger, and saw the Maid,
her sword in her hand, wherewith she had smitten me flatlings, and
not with the edge.

"Knave of a Scot," she cried, "wouldst thou strike a holy man and my
prisoner? Verily they say well that the Scots are all savages.
Begone home, till I speak with the captains about thy case! And for
these holy men," she said to D'Aulon, in a soft voice, "see that
they are safely housed and ministered to in the Church of
Monseigneur St. Aignan."

With that I shrank back like a beaten hound, and saw the Maid no
more that night, as fearing her wrath. So was I adread and out of
all comfort. But, when first I might, I sought D'Aulon and told him
all the tale of Brother Thomas, and all the evil I knew of him, as
well as I could, and I showed him wherefore I had sought to slay the
man, as forsworn and a traitor, who had manifestly fled to the
English, being by his doggish nature the enemy of the Maid. I so
wrought with him, though he was weary, and would scarce listen to my
tale, that he promised to speak for me to the Maid, without whom I
was a man lost. Moreover, he swore that, as early as might be, he
would visit the Church of St. Aignan, and there examine into the
matter of this cordelier, whom some knew, and could testify against,
if he was my man.

No more could I do that night, but next morning D'Aulon awoke me a
little after dawn.

"It is a true tale," he said, "and worse than I deemed, for your
bird has flown! Last night he so spoke with me in the church when I
lodged him there, that I reckoned him a simple man and a pious. But
he has vanished from among his brethren, none knows how or whither."

"The devil, his master, knows," I said. "Faith, he has a shrewd
care of his own. But this, I misdoubt me, is the beginning of evil
to us and to the Maid."

"A knave more or less is of little count in the world," said he;
"but now I must make your peace with the Maid, for she speaks of no
less than sending you forth from her household."

His promise he kept so well--for he was a very honourable man, as
any in France--that the Maid sent for me and showed me the best
countenance, even begging my pardon with all sweetness, and in so
fair a manner that I could have wept.

"It was my first blow in war," she said, smiling kindly, as was her
manner, "and I hope to strike no more as with my own hand, wherefore
I carry my banner to avoid the slaying of men. But verily I deemed
that you were about stabbing my prisoner, and him a priest. Belike
we shall hear no more of him, and I misdoubt that he is no true son
of Holy Church. To-day let me see you bear yourself as boldly
against armed men, that I may report well of you to your lady and my
friend."

Therewith she held out her hands and took mine, as frankly as does
one brother in arms with another. And I kissed her hand, and kept
my tears in my own heart. But no deadlier blow for France and for
herself was ever dealt than when the Maid struck down my sword, that
was thirsting for the blood of Brother Thomas, and was within an
inch of his throat. Often have I marvelled how the saints, who, as
then, guarded her, gave her no warning, as they did of the onslaught
on St. Loup; but it might not be, or it was not their will, to which
we must humbly submit ourselves. And now I think I see that wolf's
face, under the hood, with anger and fear in the ominous eyes. In
the Church of St. Loup we found him, and he was a wolf of the holy
places. None the less, the words of the Maid brought more keenly to
my mind the thought of Elliot, whom in these crowded hours, between
my sorrow and anger, and fear of the Maid's wrath, I had to some
degree forgotten. They were now ordering an onslaught on a post of
the English beyond the river, and there came into my heart that
verse of the "Book of a Hundred Ballades": how a lover must press
into breach, and mine, and escalade to win advancement and his
lady's favour; and I swore within myself that to-day I would be
among the foremost.

CHAPTER XIII--OF THE FIGHTING AT LES AUGUSTINS AND THE PROPHECY OF
THE MAID

Just above the broken bridge of Orleans there is a broad island,
lying very near the opposite shore, with a narrow, swift passage of
water between bank and island. Some two furlongs higher up the
river, and on the further bank, the English had built a small fort,
named St. Jean le Blanc, to guard the road, and thither they sent
men from Les Augustins. The plan of our captains was to cross by
boats on to the island, and thence by a bridge of planks laid on
boats to win over the narrow channel, and so make an onslaught on
St. Jean le Blanc. For this onslaught the Maid had now been armed
by her women, and with all her company, and many knights, was making
ready to cross. But before she, or we with her, could attain the
shore, horses being ill beasts in a boat ferry, the light-armed
townsfolk had crossed over against St. Jean le Blanc to spy on it,
and had found the keep empty, for the English had drawn back their
men to the Bastille of Les Augustins.

Thus there was no more to do, for the captains deemed not that we
were of any avail to attack Les Augustins. They were retreating
then to the bridge of boats, and Messires de Gaucourt, De Villars,
and other good knights were guarding the retreat, all orderly, lest
the English might sally out from Les Augustins, and, taking us in
the rear, might slay many in the confusion of crossing the boat-
bridge, when the Maid and La Hire, by great dint of toil, passed
their horses in a ferry-boat on to the further bank. At this moment
the English sallied forth, with loud cries, from Les Augustins, and
were falling on our men, who, fearing to be cut off, began to flee
disorderly, while the English called out ill words, as "cowards" and
"ribaulds," and were blaspheming God that He should damn all
Frenchmen.

Hereon the Maid, with her banner, and La Hire, with lance in rest,
they two alone, spurred into the press, and now her banner was
tossing like the flag of a ship in the breakers, and methought there
was great jeopardy lest they should be taken. But the other French
and Scots, perceiving the banner in such a peril, turned again from
their flight, and men who once turn back to blows again are ill to
deal with. Striking, then, and crying, Montjoie! St. Denis! and St.
Andrew for Scotland! they made the English give ground, till they
were within the palisade of Les Augustins, where they deemed them
safe enough. Now I had struggled through the throng on the island,
some flying, some advancing, as each man's heart bade him, till I
leaped into the water up to my waist and won the land. There I was
running to the front of the fight when D'Aulon would have stopped
me, for he had a command to hold a certain narrow way, lest the
English should drive us to the water again.

All this was rightly done, but I, hearing the cry of St. Andrew, was
as one possessed, and paying no heed to D'Aulon, was for thrusting
me forward, when a certain Spaniard, Alphonse de Partada, caught me
by the arm, and told me, with an oath, that I might well bide where
better men than I were content to be. At this I made answer that my
place was with the Maid, and, as for better men, bigger he might
well be, but I, for one, was not content to look on idly where blows
were being dealt. He answered in such terms that I bade him follow
me, and see which of us would fare furthest into the press.

"And for that you may be swifter of foot than I, as you have longer
legs," I cried, "clasp hands on this bargain, and let us reach the
palisades with the same step."

To this he agreed, and D'Aulon not refusing permission (for he loved
to look on a vaillance), we, clasping hands, ran together swiftly,
and struck our swords in the same moment against the wooden fence.
A little opening there was, not yet closed, or he that kept it
deemed he might win more honour by holding it with his body. He was
a great knight and tall, well armed, the red cross of St. George on
his breast, and he fought with a mighty sword. Together, then, we
made at him, two to one, as needs must be, for this was no gentle
passage of arms, but open battle. One sweep of his sword I made
shift to avoid, but the next lighting on my salade, drove me
staggering back for more yards than two or three, and I reeled and
fell on my hands. When I rose, Alphonse de Partada was falling
beneath a sword-stroke, and I was for running forward again; but lo!
the great English knight leaped in the air, and so, turning, fell on
his face, his hands grasping at the ground and his feet kicking.

Later I heard from D'Aulon that he had bidden John the Lorrainer
mark the man with his couleuvrine, for that he did overmuch
mischief. But, thinking of nought save to be foremost in the
breach, I ran in, stumbling over the dead man's body, and shouldered
at the same time by Alphonse, who warded off a stab of a pike that
was dealt at me. Then it was a fair mellay, our men pressing after
us through the gap, and driving us forward by mere weight of onset,
they coming with all speed against our enemies that ran together
from all parts of the keep, and so left bare the further wall. It
was body to body, weight against weight, short strokes at close
quarters, and, over our heads, bills striking and foining at the
English. Each man smote where he could; we wavered and swayed, now
off our feet in the press, now making some yard of ground, and evil
was the smell and thick the dust that arose. Meanwhile came the
sound of the riving of planks from the other side of the palisade;
above the steel points and the dust I saw the Maid's pennon
advancing with the face of my lady painted thereon, and I pressed
towards it, crying "St. Andrew" with such breath as was in me. Then
rang out the Maid's voice, like a clarion, "St. Denis!" and so,
stroke echoing stroke, and daggers going at close quarters, beaten
on and blinded, deaf and breathless, now up, now down, we staggered
forward, till I and the Maid stood side by side, and the English
broke, some falling, some flying to the out-gate.

And, when all was done, there was I, knowing little enough of what
had come and gone, dazed, with my sword bloody and bent, my head
humming, and my foot on the breast of an English knight, one Robert
Heron. Him I took to prisoner, rescue or no rescue, and so sat we
down, very weary, in the midst of blood and broken arms, for many
had been slain and a few taken, though the more part had fled into
the boulevard of Les Tourelles. And here, with a joyous face, and
the vizor of her helm raised, stood the Maid, her sword sheathed,
waving her banner in the sight of the English that were on the
bridge fort.

Natheless, her joy was but for a moment, and soon was she seated
lowly on the ground, holding in her arms the head of an English
knight, sore wounded, for whom her confessor, Father Pasquerel, was
doing the offices of religion. Tears were running down her cheeks,
even as if he had been one of her own people; and so, comforting and
helping the wounded as she might, she abode till the darkness came,
and the captains had made shift to repair the fortress and had set
guards all orderly. And all the river was dark with boats coming
and going, their lanterns glittering on the stream, and they were
laden with food and munitions of war. In one of these boats did the
Maid cross the river, taking with her us of her company, and
speaking to me, above others, in the most gracious manner, for that
I had been the first, with that Spanish gentleman, to pass within
the English palisade. And now my heart was light, though my flesh
was very weary, for that I had done my devoir, and taken the
firstfruits of Elliot's wedding portion. No heavy ransom I put on
that knight, Sir Robert Heron, and it was honourably paid in no long
time, though he ill liked yielding him to one that had not gained
his spurs. But it was fortune of war. So, half in a dream, we
reached our house, and there was the greatest concourse of townsfolk
clamouring in the praise of the Maid, who showed herself to them
from the window, and promised that to-morrow they should take Les
Tourelles. That night was Friday, yet, so worn were we all that the
Maid bade us sup, and herself took some meat and a little wine in
her water, though commonly she fasted on Friday. And now we were
about to boun us for bed, and the Maid had risen, and was standing
with her arms passed about the neck of the daughter of the house, a
fair lass and merry, called Charlotte Boucher, who always lay with
her (for she had great joy to be with girls of her own age), when
there came the sound of a dagger-hilt beating at the door. We
opened, and there stood a tall knight, who louted low to the Maid,
cap in hand, and she bade him drink to the taking of Les Tourelles
that should be to-morrow.

But he, with the flagon full in his hands, and withal a thirsty look
upon his face, shook his head.

"To another pledge, Maiden, I will gladly drink, namely, to the
bravest damsel under the sky."

And therewith he drank deep.

"But now I am sent from Gaucourt, and the Bastard, for all the
captains are in counsel again. And they bid me tell you that enough
hath been done, and they are right well content. But we are few
against so great a host, in a place so strong that men may not avail
to master it by main force. The city is now well seen in all manner
of victual; moreover, we can now come and go by Sologne and the left
bank. The skill is therefore to hold the city till the English wax
weary and depart, or till we have succour anew from the King.
Therefore to-morrow the men-at-arms shall take rest, having great
need thereof; and therefore, gentle Maid, pardon me that I drank not
to the pledge which a lady called."

Then he drained the flagon.

The Maid, holding the girl Charlotte yet closer to her, smote her
right hand on the table, so that it dirled, and the cups and dishes
leaped.

"You have been with your counsel," she cried, "and I have been with
mine! The counsel of Messire will stand fast and prevail, and yours
shall perish, for it is of men. Go back, and bear my words to the
captains," quoth she; and then, turning to us, who looked on her in
amazement, she said -

"Do ye all rise right early, and more than ye have done to-day shall
ye do. Keep ever close by me in the mellay, for to-morrow I shall
have much to do, and more than ever yet I did. And to-morrow shall
my blood leap from my body, above my breast, for an arrow shall
smite here!" and she struck the place with her hand.

Thereon the knight, seeing that she was not to be moved, made his
obeisance, and went back to them that sent him, and all we lay down
to sleep while we might.

These words of the Maid I, Norman Leslie, heard, and bear record
that they are true.

CHAPTER XIV--OF THE FIGHTING AT THE BRIDGE, AND OF THE PRIZE WON BY
NORMAN LESLIE FROM THE RIVER

On that night I slept soft, and woke oft, being utterly foredone.
In the grey dawn I awoke, and gave a little cough, when, lo! there
came a hot sweet gush into my mouth, and going to the window, I saw
that I was spitting of blood, belike from my old wound. It is a
strange thing that, therewith, a sickness came over me, and a cold
fit as of fear, though fear I had felt none where men met in heat of
arms. None the less, seeing that to-day, or never, I was to be made
or marred, I spoke of the matter neither to man nor woman, but
drinking a long draught of very cold water, I spat some deal more,
and then it stanched, and I armed me and sat down on my bed.

My thoughts, as I waited for the first stir in the house, were not
glad. Birds were singing in the garden trees; all else was quiet,
as if men were not waking to slay each other and pass unconfessed to
their account. There came on me a great sickness of war. Yesterday
the boulevard of Les Augustins, when the fight was over, had been a
shambles; white bodies that had been stripped of their armour lay
here and there like sheep on a hillside, and were now smirched with
dust, a thing unseemly. I put it to myself that I was engaged, if
ever man was, in a righteous quarrel, fighting against cruel
oppression; and I was under the protection of one sent, as I verily
believed, by Heaven.

But blood runs tardy in the cold dawn; my thoughts were chilled, and
I deemed, to speak sooth, that I carried my death within me, from my
old wound, and, even if unhurt, could scarce escape out of that
day's labour and live. I said farewell to life and the sun, in my
own mind, and to Elliot, thinking of whom, with what tenderness she
had nursed me, and of her mirth and pitiful heart, I could scarce
forbear from weeping. Of my brother also I thought, and in death it
seemed to me that we could scarcely be divided. Then my thought
went back to old days of childhood at Pitcullo, old wanderings by
Eden banks, old kindness and old quarrels, and I seemed to see a
vision of a great tree, growing alone out of a little mound, by my
father's door, where Robin and I would play "Willie Wastle in his
castle," for that was our first manner of holding a siege. A man-
at-arms has little to make with such fancies, and well I wot that
Randal Rutherford troubled himself therewith in no manner. But now
there came an iron footstep on the stairs, and the Maid's voice rang
clear, and presently there arose the sound of hammers on rivets, and
all the din of men saddling horses and sharpening swords, so I went
forth to join my company.

Stiff and sore was I, and felt as if I could scarce raise my sword-
arm; but the sight of the Maid, all gleaming in her harness, and
clear of voice, and swift of deed, like St. Michael when he
marshalled his angels against the enemies of heaven, drove my
brooding thoughts clean out of mind. The sun shone yellow and
slanting down the streets; out of the shadow of the minster came the
bells, ringing for war. The armed townsfolk thronged the ways, and
one man, old and ill-clad, brought to the Maid a great fish which he
had caught overnight in the Loire. Our host prayed her to wait till
it should be cooked, that she might breakfast well, for she had much
to do. Yet she, who scarce seemed to live by earthly meat, but by
the will of God, took only a sop of bread dipped in wine, and gaily
leaping to her selle and gathering the reins, as a lady bound for a
hunting where no fear was, she cried, "Keep the fish for supper,
when I will bring back a goddon {25} prisoner to eat his part. And
to-night, gentle sir, my host, I will return by the bridge!"--which,
as we deemed, might in no manner be, for an arch of the bridge was
broken. Thereon we all mounted, and rode down to the Burgundy gate,
the women watching us, and casting flowers before the Maiden. But
when we won the gate, behold, it was locked, and two ranks of men-
at-arms, with lances levelled, wearing the colours of the Sieur de
Gaucourt, were drawn up before it. That lord himself, in harness,
but bare-headed, stood before his men, and cried, "Hereby is no
passage. To-day the captains give command that no force stir from
the town."

"To-day," quoth the Maid, "shall we take Les Tourelles, and to-
morrow not a goddon, save prisoners and slain men, shall be within
three leagues of Orleans. Gentle sir, bid open the gate, for to-day
have I work to do."

Thereat Gaucourt shook his head, and from the multitude of townsfolk
rose one great angry shout. They would burn the gate, they cried;
they would fire the town, but they would follow the Maid and the
guidance of the saints.

Thereon stones began to fly, and arbalests were bended, till the
Maid turned, and, facing the throng, her banner lifted as in anger -

"Back, my good friends and people of Orleans," she said, "back and
open the postern door in the great tower on the river wall. By one
way or another shall I meet the English this day, nor shall might of
man prevent me."

Then many ran back, and soon came the cry that the postern was
opened, and thither streamed the throng. Therefore Gaucourt saw
well that an onslaught would verily be made; moreover, as a man wise
in war, he knew that the townsfolk, that day, would be hard to hold,
and would go far. So he even yielded, not ungraciously, and sending
a messenger to the Bastard and the captains, he rode forth from the
Burgundy Gate by the side of the Maid. He was, indeed, little
minded to miss his part of the honour; nor were the other captains
more backward, for scarce had we taken boat and reached the farther
bank, when we saw the banners of the Bastard and La Hire, Florent
d'Illiers and Xaintrailles, Chambers and Kennedy, above the heads of
the armed men who streamed forth by the gate of Burgundy. Less
orderly was no fight ever begun, but the saints were of our party.
It was the wise manner of the Maid to strike swift, blow upon blow,
each stroke finding less resistance among the enemy, that had been
used to a laggard war, for then it was the manner of captains to
dally for weeks or months round a town, castle, or other keep, and
the skill was to starve the enemy. But the manner of the Maid was
ever to send cloud upon cloud of men to make escalade by ladders,
their comrades aiding them from under cover with fire of
couleuvrines and bows. Even so fought that famed Knight of
Brittany, Sir Bertrand du Guesclin. But he was long dead, and
whether the Maid (who honoured his memory greatly) fought as she did
through his example, or by direct teaching of the saints, I know
not.

If disorderly we began, the fault was soon amended; they who had
beleaguered the boulevard all night were set in the rear, to rest
out of shot; the fresh men were arrayed under their banners, in
vineyards and under the walls of fields, so that if one company was
driven back another was ready to come on, that the English might
have no repose from battle.

Now, the manner of the boulevard was this: first, there was a
strong palisade, and many men mustered within it; then came a wide,
deep, dry fosse; then a strong wall of earth, bound in with withes
and palisaded, and within it the gate of the boulevard. When that
was won, and the boulevard taken, men defending it might flee across
a drawbridge, over a stream, narrow and deep and swift, into Les
Tourelles itself. Here they were safe from them on the side of
Orleans, by reason of the broken arch of the bridge. So strong was
this tower, that Monseigneur the Duc d'Alencon, visiting it later,
said he could have staked his duchy on his skill to hold it for a
week at least, with but few men, against all the forces in France.
The captain of the English was that Glasdale who had reviled the
Maid, and concerning whom she had prophesied that he should die
without stroke of sword. There was no fiercer squire in England,
and his men were like himself, being picked and chosen for that
post; moreover their backs were at the wall, for the French and
Scots once within the boulevard, it was in nowise easy for Talbot to
bring the English a rescue, as was seen.

The battle began with shooting of couleuvrines at the palisade, to
weaken it, and it was marvel to see how the Maid herself laid the
guns, as cunningly as her own countryman, the famed Lorrainer. Now,
when there was a breach in the palisade, Xaintrailles led on his
company, splendid in armour, for he was a very brave young knight.
We saw the pales fall with a crash, and the men go in, and heard the
cry of battle; but slowly, one by one, they staggered back, some
falling, some reeling wounded, and rolling their bodies out of
arrow-shot. And there, in the breach, shone the back-plate of
Xaintrailles, his axe falling and rising, and not one foot he
budged, till the men of La Hire, with a cry, broke in to back him,
and after a little space, swords fell and rose no more, but we saw
the banners waving of Xaintrailles and La Hire. Soon the side of
the palisade towards us was all down, as if one had swept it flat
with his hand, but there stood the earthen wall of the boulevard,
beyond the fosse. Then, all orderly, marched forth a band of men in
the colours of Florent d'Illiers, bearing scaling-ladders, and so
began the escalade, their friends backing them by shooting of
arbalests from behind the remnant of the palisade. A ladder would
be set against the wall, and we could see men with shields, or
doors, or squares of wood on their heads to fend off stones, swarm
up it, and axes flashing on the crest of the wall, and arrows
flying, and smoke of guns: but the smoke cleared, and lo! the
ladder was gone, and the three libbards grinned on the flag of
England. So went the war, company after company staggering thinned
from the fosse, and re-forming behind the cover of the vineyards;
company after company marching forth, fresh and glorious, to fare as
their friends had fared. And ever, with each company, went the Maid
at their head, and D'Aulon, she crying that the place was theirs and
now was the hour! But the day went by, till the sun turned in
heaven towards evening, and no more was done. The English, in
sooth, showed no fear nor faint heart; with axe, and sword, and
mace, and with their very hands they smote and grappled with the
climbers, and I saw a tall man, his sword being broken, strike down
a French knight with his mailed fist, and drag another from a ladder
and take him captive. Boldly they showed themselves on the crest,
running all risk of our arrows, as our men did of theirs.

Now came the Scots, under Kennedy. A gallant sight it was to see
them advance, shoulder to shoulder--Scots of the Marches and the
Lennox, Fife, Argyll, and the Isles, all gentlemen born.

"Come on!" cried Randal Rutherford. "Come on, men of the Marches,
Scots of the Forest, Elliots, Rutherfords, Armstrongs, and deem
that, wheresoever a Southron slinks behind a stone, there is
Carlisle wall!"

The Rough Clan roared "Bellenden!" the Buchanans cried "Clare
Innis," a rag of a hairy Highlander from the Lennox blew a wild
skirl on the war-pipes, and hearing the Border slogan shouted in a
strange country, nom Dieu! my blood burned, as that of any Scotsman
would. Contrary to the Maid's desire, for she had noted that I was
wan and weary, and had commanded me to bide in cover, I cried "A
Leslie! a Leslie!" and went forward with my own folk, sword in hand
and buckler lifted.

Beside good Randal Rutherford I ran, and we both leaped together
into the ditch. There was a forest of ladders set against the wall,
and I had my foot on a rung, when the Maid ran up and cried, "Nom
Dieu! what make you here? Let me lead my Scots"; and so, pennon and
axe in her left hand, she lightly leaped on the ladder, and arrows
ringing on her mail, and a great stone glancing harmless from her
salade, she so climbed that my lady's face on the pennon above her
looked down into the English keep.

But, even then, I saw a face at an archere, an ill face and fell,
the wolf's eyes of Brother Thomas glancing along the stock of an
arbalest.

"Gardez-vous, Pucelle, gardez-vous!" I cried in her ear, for I was
next her on the ladder; but a bolt whistled and smote her full, and
reeling, she fell into my arms.

I turned my back to guard her, and felt a bolt strike my back-piece;
then we were in the fosse, and all the Scots that might be were
between her and harm. Swiftly they bore her out of the fray, into a
little green vineyard, where was a soft grassy ditch. But the
English so cried their hurrah, that it was marvel, and our men gave
back in fear; and had not the Bastard come up with a fresh company,
verify we might well have been swept into the Loire.

Some while I remained with Rutherford, Kennedy, and many others, for
what could we avail to help the Maid? and to run has an ill look,
and gives great heart to an enemy. Moreover, that saying of the
Maid came into my mind, that she should be smitten of a bolt, but
not unto death. So I even abode by the fosse, and having found an
arbalest, my desire was to win a chance of slaying Brother Thomas,
wherefore I kept my eyes on that archere whence he had shot. But no
arbalest was pointed thence, and the fight flagged. On both sides
men were weary, and they took some meat as they might, no ladders
being now set on the wall.

Then I deemed it no harm to slip back to the vineyard where the Maid
lay, and there I met the good Father Pasquerel, that was her
confessor. He told me that now she was quiet, either praying or
asleep, for he had left her as still as a babe in its cradle, her
page watching her. The bolt had sped by a rivet of her breast-
piece, clean through her breast hard below the shoulder, and it
stood a hand-breadth out beyond. Then she had wept and trembled,
seeing her own blood; but presently, with such might and courage as
was marvel, she had dragged out the bolt with her own hands. Then
they had laid on the wound cotton steeped with olive oil, for she
would not abide that they should steep the bolt with weapon salve
and charm the hurt with a song, as the soldiers desired. Then she
had confessed herself to Pasquerel, and so had lain down among the
grass and the flowers. But it was Pasquerel's desire to let ferry
her across secretly to Orleans. This was an ill hearing for me, yet
it was put about in the army that the Maid had but taken a slight
scratch, and again would lead us on, a thing which I well deemed to
be impossible. So the day waxed late, and few onslaughts were made,
and these with no great heart, the English standing on the walls and
openly mocking us.

They asked how it went with the Maid, and whether she would not fain
be at home among her kine, or in the greasy kitchen? We would cry
back, and for my own part I bade them seek the kitchen as pock-
puddings and belly-gods, and that I cried in their own tongue, while
they, to my great amaze, called me "prentice boy" and "jackanapes."
Herein I saw the craft and devilish enmity of Brother Thomas, and
well I guessed that he had gotten sight of me; but his face I saw
not.

Ill names break no bones, and arrows from under cover wrought slight
scathe; so one last charge the Bastard commanded, and led himself,
and a sore tussle there was that time on the wall-crest, one or two
of our men leaping into the fort, whence they came back no more.

Now it was eight hours of the evening, the sky grey, the men out-
worn and out of all heart, and the captains were gathered in
council. Of this I conceived the worst hope, for after a counsel
men seldom fight. So I watched the fort right sullenly, and the
town of Orleans looking black against a red, lowering sky in the
west. Some concourse of townsfolk I saw on the bridge, beside the
broken arch, and by the Boulevard Belle Croix; but I deemed that
they had only come to see the fray as near as might be. Others were
busy under the river wall with a great black boat, belike to ferry
over the horses from our side.

All seemed ended, and I misdoubted that we would scarce charge again
so briskly in the morning, nay, we might well have to guard our own
gates.

As I sat thus, pondering by the vineyard ditch, the Maid stood by me
suddenly. Her helmet was off, her face deadly white, her eyes like
two stars.

"Bring me my horse," she said, so sternly that I crushed the answer
on my lips, and the prayer that she would risk herself no more.

Her horse, that had been cropping the grass near him happily enough,
I found, and brought to her, and so, with some ado, she mounted and
rode at a foot's pace to the little crowd of captains.

"Maiden, ma mie," said the Bastard. "Glad I am to see you able to
mount. We have taken counsel to withdraw for this night. Martin,"
he said to his trumpeter, "sound the recall."

"I pray you, sir," she said very humbly, "grant me but a little
while"; and so saying, she withdrew alone from the throng of men
into the vineyard.

What passed therein I know not and no man knows; but in a quarter of
an hour's space she came forth, like another woman, her face bright
and smiling, her cheeks like the dawn, and so beautiful that we
marvelled on her with reverence, as if we had seen an angel.

"The place is ours!" she cried again, and spurred towards the fosse.
Thence her banner had never gone back, for D'Aulon held it there, to
be a terror to the English. Even at that moment he had given it to
a certain Basque, a very brave man, for he himself was out-worn with
its weight. And he had challenged the Basque to do a vaillance, or
boastful deed of arms, as yesterday I and the Spaniard had done. So
D'Aulon leaped into the fosse, his shield up, defying the English;
but the Basque did not follow, for the Maid, seeing her banner in
the hands of a man whom she knew not, laid hold of it, crying, "Ha,
mon estandart! mon estandart!"

There, as they struggled for it, the Basque being minded to follow
D'Aulon to the wall foot, the banner wildly waved, and all men saw
it, and rallied, and flocked amain to the rescue.

"Charge!" cried the Maid. "Forward, French and Scots; the place is
yours, when once my banner fringe touches the wall!"

With that word the wind blew out the banner fringe, and so suddenly
that, though I saw the matter, I scarce knew how it was done, the
whole host swarmed up and on, ladders, lifted, and so furiously went
they, that they won the wall crest and leaped within the fort. Then
the more part of the English, adread, as I think, at the sight of
the Maid whom they had deemed slain, fled madly over the drawbridge
into Les Tourelles.

Then standing on the wall crest, whither I had climbed, I beheld
strange sights. First, through the dimness of the dusk, I saw a man
armed, walking as does a rope-dancer, balancing himself with his
spear, across the empty air, for so it seemed, above the broken arch
of the bridge. This appeared, in very sooth, to be a miracle; but,
gazing longer, I saw that a great beam had been laid by them of
Orleans to span the gap, and now other beams were being set, and
many men, bearing torches, were following that good knight, Nicole
Giresme, who first showed the way over such a bridge of dread. So
now were the English in Les Tourelles between two fires.

Another strange sight I saw, for in that swift and narrow stream
which the drawbridge spanned whereby the English fled was moored a
great black barge, its stem and stern showing on either side of the
bridge. Boats were being swiftly pulled forth from it into the
stream, and as I gazed, there leaped up through the dark one long
tongue of fire. Then I saw the skill of it, namely, to burn down
the drawbridge, and so cut the English off from all succour. Fed
with pitch and pine the flame soared lustily, and now it shone
between the planks of the drawbridge. On the stone platform of the
boulevard, wherein the drawbridge was laid, stood a few English, and
above them shone the axe of a tall squire, Glasdale, as it fell on
shield and helm of the French. Others held us at bay with long
lances, and never saw I any knight do his devoir more fiercely than
he who had reviled the Maid. For on his head lay all the blame of
the taking of the boulevard. To rear of him rang the shouts of them
of Orleans, who had crossed the broken arch by the beam; but he
never turned about, and our men reeled back before him. Then there
shone behind him the flames from the blazing barge; and so, black
against that blaze, he smote and slew, not knowing that the
drawbridge began to burn.

On this the Maid ran forth, and cried to him -

"Rends-toi, rends-toi! Yield thee, Glacidas; yield thee, for I
stand in much sorrow for thy soul's sake."

Then, falling on her knees, her face shining transfigured in that
fierce light, she prayed him thus -

"Ah! Glacidas, thou didst call me ribaulde, but I have sorrow for
thy soul. Ah! yield thee, yield thee to ransom"; and the tears ran
down her cheeks, as if a saint were praying for a soul in peril.

Not one word spoke Glasdale: he neither saw nor heard. But the
levelled spears at his side flew up, a flame caught his crest,
making a plume of fire, and with a curse he cast his axe among the
throng, and the man who stood in front of it got his death.
Glasdale turned about as he threw; he leaped upon the burning
drawbridge, where the last of his men were huddled in flight, and
lo! beneath his feet it crashed; down he plunged through smoke and
flame, and the stream below surged up as bridge and flying men went
under in one ruin.

The Maid gave a cry that rang above the roar of fire and water.

"Saints! will no man save him?" she shrieked, looking all around her
on the faces of the French.

A mad thought leaped up in my mind.

"Unharness me!" I cried; and one who stood by me undid the clasps of
my light jaseran. I saw a head unhelmeted, I saw a hand that
clutched at a floating beam. I thought of the Maid's desire, and of
the ransom of so great a squire as Glasdale, and then I threw my
hands up to dive, and leaped head foremost into the water.

Deep down I plunged, and swam far under water, to avoid a stroke
from floating timber, and then I rose and glanced up-stream. All
the air was fiercely lit with the blaze of the burning barge; a hand
and arm would rise, and fall ere I could seize it. A hand was
thrown up before me, the glinting fingers gripping at empty air. I
caught the hand, swimming strongly with the current, for so the man
could not clutch at me, and if a drowning man can be held apart, it
is no great skill to save him. In this art I was not unlearned, and
once had even saved two men from a wrecked barque in the long surf
of St. Andrews Bay. Save for a blow from some great floating
timber, I deemed that I had little to fear; nay, now I felt sure of
the Maid's praise and of a rich ransom.

A horn of bank with alder bushes ran out into the stream, a smooth
eddy or backwater curling within. I caught a bough of alder, and,
though nigh carried down by the drowning man's weight, I found
bottom, yet hardly, and drew my man within the back-water. He lay
like a log, his face in the stream. Pushing him before me, I
rounded the horn, and, with much ado, dragged him up to a sloping
gravelly beach, where I got his head on dry land, his legs being
still in the water. I turned him over and looked eagerly. Lo! it
was no Glasdale, but the drowned face of Brother Thomas!

Then something seemed to break in my breast; blood gushed from my
mouth, and I fell on the sand and gravel. Footsteps I heard of men
running to us. I lifted my hand faintly and waved it, and then I
felt a hand on my face.

CHAPTER XV--HOW NORMAN LESLIE WAS ABSOLVED BY BROTHER THOMAS

Certain Scots that found me, weak and bleeding, by the riverside,
were sent by the Maid, in hopes that I had saved Glasdale, whereas
it was the accursed cordelier I had won from the water. What they
did with him I knew not then, but me they laid on a litter, and so
bore me to a boat, wherein they were ferrying our wounded men across
to Orleans. The Maid herself, as she had foretold, returned by way
of the bridge, that was all bright with moving torches, as our
groaning company were rowed across the black water to a quay.
Thence I was carried in a litter to our lodgings, and so got to bed,
a physician doing what he might for me. A noisy night we passed,
for I verily believe that no man slept, but all, after service held
in the Church of St. Aignan, went revelling and drinking from house
to house, and singing through the streets, as folk saved from utter
destruction.

With daybreak fell a short silence; short or long, it seemed brief
to me, who was now asleep at last, and I was rueful enough when a
sound aroused me, and I found the Maid herself standing by my
bedside, with one in the shadow behind her. The chamber was all
darkling, lit only by a thread of light that came through the closed
shutters of wood, and fell on her pale face. She was clad in a
light jaseran of mail, because of her wound, and was plainly eager
to be gone and about her business, that is, to meet the English in
open field.

"Leslie, my friend," she said, in her sweet voice, "there were many
brave men in the fight yesterday, but, in God's name, none did a
braver deed than thou! Nay, speak not," she said, as I opened my
lips to thank her, "for the leech that tended thee last night
forbids it, on peril of thy very life. So I have brought thee here
a sheet of fair paper, and a pen and horn of ink, that thou, being a
clerk, mayst write what thou hast to say. Alas! such converse is
not for me, who know not A from his brother B. But the saints who
helped thee have rewarded thee beyond all expectation. Thou didst
not save that unhappy Glacidas, whom God in His mercy forgive! but
thou hast taken a goodlier prize--this holy man, that had been
prisoner in the hands of the English."

Here she stood a little aside, and the thread of light shone on the
fell face of Brother Thomas, lowering beneath his hood.

Then I would have spoken, leech or no leech, to denounce him, for
the Maid had no memory of his face, and knew him not for the false
friar taken at St. Loup. But she laid her mailed finger gently on
my lips.

"Silence! Thou art my man-at-arms and must obey thy captain. This
worthy friar hath been long in the holy company of the blessed
Colette, and hath promised to bring me acquainted with that daughter
of God. Ay, and he hath given to me, unworthy as I am, a kerchief
which has touched her wonder-working hands. Almost I believe that
it will heal thee by miracle, if the saints are pleased to grant
it."

Herewith she drew a kerchief across my lips, and I began, being most
eager to instruct her innocence as to this accursed man -

"Lady--" but alas! no miracle was wrought for a sinner like me.
Howbeit I am inclined to believe that the kerchief was no saintly
thing, and had never come near the body of the blessed Colette, but
rather was a gift from one of the cordelier's light-o'-loves.
Assuredly it was stained red with blood from my lungs ere I could
utter two words.

The Maid stanched the blood, saying -

"Did I not bid thee to be silent? The saints forgive my lack of
faith, whereby this blessed thing has failed to heal thee! And now
I must be gone, to face the English in the field, if they dare to
meet us, which, methinks, they will not do, but rather withdraw as
speedily as they may. So now I leave thee with this holy man to be
thy nurse-tender, and thou canst write to him concerning thy needs,
for doubtless he is a clerk. Farewell!"

With that she was gone, and this was the last I saw of her for many
a day.

Never have I known such a horror of fear as fell on me now, helpless
and dumb, a sheep given over to the slaughter, in that dark chamber,
which was wondrous lown, {26} alone with my deadly foe.

Never had any man more cause for dread, for I was weak, and to
resist him was death. I was speechless, and could utter no voice
that the people in the house might hear. As for mine enemy, he had
always loathed and scorned me; he had a long account of vengeance to
settle with me; and if--which was not to be thought of--he was
minded to spare one that had saved his life, yet, for his own
safety, he dared not. He had beguiled the Maid with his false
tongue, and his face, not seen by her in the taking of St. Loup, she
knew not. But he knew that I would disclose all the truth so soon
as the Maid returned, wherefore he was bound to destroy me, which he
would assuredly do with every mockery, cruelty, and torture of body
and mind. Merely to think of him when he was absent was wont to
make my flesh creep, so entirely evil beyond the nature of sinful
mankind was this monster, and so set on working all kinds of
mischief with greediness. Whether he had suffered some grievous
wrong in his youth, which he spent his life in avenging on all folk,
or whether, as I deem likely, he was the actual emissary of Satan,
as the Maid was of the saints, I know not, and, as I lay there, had
no wits left to consider of it. Only I knew that no more unavailing
victim than I was ever so utterly in the power of a foe so deadly
and terrible.

The Maid had gone, and all hope had gone with her. For a time that
seemed unending mine enemy neither spoke nor moved, standing still
in the chink of light, a devil where an angel had been.

There was silence, and I heard the Maid's iron tread pass down the
creaking wooden stairs, and soon I heard the sound of singing birds,
for my window looked out on the garden.

The steps ceased, and then there was a low grating laughter in the
dark room, as if the devil laughed.

Brother Thomas moved stealthily to the door, and thrust in the
wooden bolt. Then he sat him heavily down on my bed, and put his
fiend's face close to mine, his eyes stabbing into my eyes. But I
bit my lip, and stared right back into his yellow wolf's eyes, that
shone like flames of the pit with evil and cruel thoughts.

So I lay, with that yellow light on me; and strength came strangely
to me, and I prayed that, since die I must, I might at least gladden
him with no sign of fear. When he found that he could not daunton
me, he laughed again.

"Our chick of Pitcullo has picked up a spirit in the wars," he said;
and turning his back on me, he leaned his face on his hand, and so
sat thinking.

The birds of May sang in the garden; there was a faint shining of
silver and green, from the apple-boughs and buds without, in the
little chamber; and the hooded back of the cordelier was before me
on my bed, like the shape of Death beside the Sick Man, in a
picture. Now I did not even pray, I waited.

Doubtless he knew that no cruel thing which the devil could devise
was more cruel than this suspense.

Then he turned about and faced me, grinning like a dog.

"These are good words," said he, "in that foolish old book they read
to the faithful in the churches, 'Vengeance is Mine, saith the
Lord.' Ay, it is even too sweet a morsel for us poor Christian men,
such as the lowly Brother Thomas of the Order of St. Francis.
Nevertheless, I am minded to put my teeth in it"; and he bared his
yellow dog's fangs at me, smiling like a hungry hound. "My sick
brother," he went on, "both as one that has some science of leech-
craft and as thy ghostly counsellor, it is my duty to warn thee that
thou art now very near thine end. Nay, let me feel thy pulse"; and
seizing my left wrist, he grasped it lightly in his iron fingers.
"Now, ere I administer to thee thy due, as a Christian man, let me
hear thy parting confession. But, alas! as the blessed Maid too
truly warned thee, thou must not open thy poor lips in speech.
There is death in a word! Write, then, write the story of thy
sinful life, that I may give thee absolution."

So saying, he opened the shutter, and carefully set the paper and
inkhorn before me, putting the pen in my fingers.

"Now, write what I shall tell thee"; and here he so pressed and
wrung my wrist that his fingers entered into my living flesh with a
fiery pang. I writhed, but I did not cry.

"Write--"

"I, Norman Leslie of Pitcullo--" and, to escape that agony, I wrote
as he bade me.

"--being now in the article of death--"

And I wrote.

"--do attest on my hope of salvation--" And I wrote.

"--and do especially desire Madame Jeanne, La Pucelle, and all
Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our Sovereign Lord the Dauphin, to
accept my witness, that Brother Thomas, of the Order of St. Francis,
called Noiroufle while of the world, has been most falsely and
treacherously accused by me--"

I wrote, but I wrote not his false words, putting my own in their
place--"has been most truly and righteously accused by me--"

"--of divers deeds of black treason, and dealing with our enemies of
England, against our Lord the Dauphin, and the Maid, the Sister of
the Saints, and of this I heartily repent me,--"

But I wrote, "All which I maintain--"

"--as may God pardon my sins, on the faith of a sinful and dying
man."

"Now sign thy name, and that of thy worshipful cabbage-garden and
dunghill in filthy Scotland." So I signed, "Norman Leslie, the
younger, of Pitcullo," and added the place, Orleans, with the date
of day and year of our Lord, namely, May the eighth, fourteen
hundred and twenty-nine.

"A very laudable confession," quoth Brother Thomas; "would that all
the sinners whom I have absolved, as I am about to absolve thee, had
cleansed and purged their sinful souls as freely. And now, my
brother, read aloud to me this scroll; nay, methinks it is ill for
thy health to speak or read. A sad matter is this, for, in faith, I
have forgotten my clergy myself, and thou mayst have beguiled me by
inditing other matter than I have put into thy lying mouth. Still,
where the safety of a soul is concerned, a few hours more or less of
this vain, perishable life weigh but as dust in the balance."

Here he took from about his hairy neck a heavy Italian crucifix of
black wood, whereon was a figure of our Lord, wrought in white
enamel, with golden nails, and a golden crown of thorns.

"Now read," he whispered, heaving up the crucifix above me. And as
he lifted it, a bright blade, strong, narrow, and sharp, leaped out
from beneath the feet of our Lord, and glittered within an inch of
my throat. An emblem of this false friar it was, the outside of
whom was as that of a holy man, while within he was a murdering
sword.

"Read!" he whispered again, pricking my throat with the dagger's
point.

Then I read aloud, and as I read I was half choked with my blood,
and now and then was stopped; but still he cried -

"Read, and if one word is wrong, thine absolution shall come all the
swifter."

So I read, and, may I be forgiven if I sinned in deceiving one so
vile! I uttered not what I had written, but what he had bidden me
to write.

"I, Norman Leslie of Pitcullo, being now in the article of death, do
attest on my hope of salvation, and do especially desire Madame
Jeanne, La Pucelle, and all Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our
Sovereign Lord the Dauphin, to accept my witness that Brother
Thomas, of the Order of St. Francis, called Noiroufle while of the
world, has been most falsely and treacherously accused by me of
divers deeds of black treason, and dealing with our enemies of
England, against our Lord the Dauphin, and the Maid, the Sister of
the Saints, and of this I heartily repent me, as may God pardon my
sins, on the faith of a sinful and dying man. Signed, at Orleans,
Norman Leslie, the younger, of Pitcullo, this eighth of May, in the
year of our Lord fourteen hundred and twenty-nine."

When I had ended, he took away his blasphemous dagger-point from my
throat.

"Very clerkly read," he spake, "and all runs smooth; methinks myself
had been no poor scribe, were I but a clerk. Hadst thou written
other matter, to betray my innocence, thou couldst not remember what
I said, even word for word," he added gleefully. "Now I might
strangle thee slowly"; and he set his fingers about my throat, I
being too weak to do more than clutch at his hand, with a grasp like
a babe's. "But that leaves black finger-marks, another kind of
witness than thine in my favour. Or I might give thee the blade of
this blessed crucifix; yet dagger wounds are like lips and have a
voice, and blood cries from the ground, says Holy Writ. Pardon my
tardiness, my poor brother, but this demands deep thought, and holy
offices must not be hurried unseemly." He sat now with his back to
me, his hand still on my throat, so deep in thought that he heard
not, as did my sharpened ears, a door shut softly, and foot-falls
echoing in the house below. If I could only cry aloud! but he would
stifle me ere the cry reached my throat!

"This will serve," he said. "Thou wilt have died of thy malady, and
I will go softly forth, and with hushed voice will tell how the
brave young Scot passed quietly to the saints. Yet, after all, I
know not. Thou hast been sent by Heaven to my aid; clearly thou art
an instrument of God to succour the unworthy Brother Thomas. Once
and twice thou hast been a boat to carry me on my way, and to save
my useful life. A third time thou mightst well be serviceable, not
by thy will, alas! but by God's, my poor brother"; and he mockingly
caressed my face with his abhorred hand. "Still, this must even
serve, though I would fain find for thee a more bitter way to
death"; and he gently and carefully drew the pillow from beneath my
head. "This leaves no marks and tells no tales, and permits no
dying cry."

He was looking at me, the pillow in his hands, his gesture that of a
tender nurse, when a light tap sounded on the door. He paused, then
came a louder knock, one pushed, and knocked again.

"Open, in the name of the Dauphin!" came a voice I knew well, the
voice of D'Aulon.

"The rope of Judas strangle thee!" said Brother Thomas, dropping the
pillow and turning to the casement. But it was heavily barred with
stanchions of iron, as the manner is, and thereby he might not flee.

Then came fiercer knocking with a dagger hilt, and the cry, "Open,
in the name of the Dauphin, or we burst the door!"

Brother Thomas hastily closed the wooden shutter, to darken the
chamber as much as might be. "Gently, gently," he said. "Disturb
not my penitent, who is newly shrived, and about to pass"; and so
speaking, he withdrew the bolt.

D'Aulon strode in, dagger in hand, followed by the physician.

"What make you here with doors barred, false priest?" he said,
laying his hand on the frock of Noiroufle.

"And what make you here, fair squire, with arms in a sick man's
chamber, and loud words to disturb the dying? And wherefore callest
thou me "false priest"? But an hour agone, the blessed Maid herself
brought me hither, to comfort and absolve her follower, to tend him,
if he lived and, if he must die, to give him his dues as a Christian
man. And the door was bolted that the penitent might be private
with his confessor, for he has a heavy weight to unburden his sinful
soul withal."

"Ay, the Maid sent thee, not knowing who thou wert, the traitor
friar taken at St. Loup, and thou hast a tongue that beguiled her
simplicity. But one that knew thee saw thy wolfs face in her
company, and told me, and I told the Maid, who sent me straightway
back from the gate, that justice might be done on thee. Thou art he
whom this Scot charged with treason, and would have slain for a spy,
some nights agone."

Brother Thomas cast up his eyes to heaven.

"Forgive us our trespasses," said he, "as we forgive them that
trespass against us. Verily and indeed I am that poor friar who
tends the wounded, and verify I am he against whom this young Scot,
as, I fear, is the manner of all his benighted people, brought a
slanderous accusation falsely. All the more reason was there that I
should hear his last confession, and forgive him freely, as may I
also be forgiven."

"Thou liest in thy throat," said D'Aulon. "This is a brave man-at-
arms, and a loyal."

"Would that thou wert not beguiled, fair sir, for I have no pleasure
in the sin of any man. But, if thou wilt believe him rather than
me, even keep thy belief, and read this written confession of his
falsehood. Of free will, with his own hand, my penitent hereby
absolves me from all his slanders. As Holy Church enjoins, in the
grace of repentance he also makes restitution of what he had stolen,
namely, all my wealth in this world, the good name of a poor and
lowly follower of the blessed Francis. Here is the scroll."

With these words, uttered in a voice of sorrowing and humble
honesty, the friar stretched out the written sheet of paper to
D'Aulon.

"Had I been a false traitor," he said, "would not her brethren of
heaven have warned the blessed Maid against me? And I have also a
written safe-conduct from the holy sister Colette."

Then I knew that he had fallen into my trap, and, weak as I was, I
could have laughed to think of his face, when the words I had
written came out in place of the words he had bidden me write. For
a clerk hath great power beyond the simple and unlettered of the
world, be they as cunning even as Brother Thomas.

"Nom Dieu! this is another story," said D'Aulon, turning the paper
about in his hands and looking doubtfully at me. But I smiled upon
him, whereby he was the more perplexed. "The ink is hardly dry, and
in some places has run and puddled, so that, poor clerk as I am, I
can make little of it"; and he pored on it in a perplexed sort.
"Tush, it is beyond my clerkhood," he said at last. "You, Messire
Saint-Mesmin,"--turning to the physician--"must interpret this."

"Willingly, fair sir," said the physician, moving round to the
shutter, which he opened, while the cordelier's eyes glittered, for
now there was one man less between him and the half-open door. I
nodded to D'Aulon that he should shut it, but he marked me not,
being wholly in amaze at the written scroll of my confession.

The physician himself was no great clerk, and he read the paper
slowly, stumbling over the words, as it were, while Brother Thomas,
clasping his crucifix to his breast, listened in triumph as he heard
what he himself had bidden me write.

"I, Norman Leslie, of--of Peet--What name is this? Peet--I cannot
utter it."

"Passez outre," quoth D'Aulon.

"I, Norman Leslie, being now in the article of death"--here the
leech glanced at me, shaking his head mournfully--"do attest on my
hope of salvation, and do especially desire Madame Jeanne La
Pucelle, and all Frenchmen and Scots loyal to our Sovereign Lord the
Dauphin, to accept my witness that Brother Thomas, of the Order of
St. Francis, called Noiroufle while of the world, has been most
truly and righteously accused by me of divers deeds of black
treason."

At these words the cordelier's hand leaped up from his breast, his
crucifix dagger glittered bright, he tore his frock from D'Aulon's
grip, leaving a rag of it in his hand, and smote, aiming at the
squire where the gorget joins the vambrace. Though he missed by an
inch, yet so terrible was the blow that D'Aulon reeled against the
wall, while the broken blade jingled on the stone floor. Then the
frock of the friar whisked through the open door of the chamber; we
heard the stairs cleared in two leaps, and D'Aulon, recovering his
feet, rushed after the false priest. But he was in heavy armour,
the cordelier's bare legs were doubtless the nimbler, and the
physician, crossing himself, could only gape and stare on the paper
in his hand. As he gazed with his mouth open his eyes fell on me,
white as my sheets, that were dabbled with the blood from my mouth.

"Nom Dieu!" he stammered, "Nom Dieu! here is business more to my
mind and my trade than chasing after mad cordeliers that stab with
crucifixes!"

Then, coming to my side, he brought water, bathed my face, and did
what his art might do for a man in such deadly extremity as was
mine. In which care he was still busy when D'Aulon returned,
panting, having sent a dozen of townsfolk to hunt the friar, who had
made good his flight over garden walls, and was now skulking none
knew where. D'Aulon would fain have asked me concerning the mystery
of the confession in which Brother Thomas had placed his hope so
unhappily, but the physician forbade him to inquire, or me to
answer, saying that it was more than my life was worth. But on
D'Aulon's battered armour there was no deeper dint than that dealt
by the murderous crucifix.

Thus this second time did Brother Thomas make his way out of our
hands, the devil aiding him, as always; for it seemed that ropes
could not bind or water drown him.

But, for my part, I lay long in another bout of sore fever, sick
here at Orleans, where I was very kindly entreated by the people of
the house, and notably by the daughter thereof, a fair maid and
gentle. To her care the Maid had commanded me when she left
Orleans, the English refusing battle, as later I heard, and
withdrawing to Jargeau and Paris. But of the rejoicings in Orleans
I knew little or nothing, and had no great desire for news, or meat,
or drink, but only for sleep and peace, as is the wont of sick men.
Now as touches sickness and fever, I have written more than
sufficient, as Heaven knows I have had cause enow. A luckless life
was mine, save for the love of Elliot; danger and wounds, and malady
and escape, where hope seemed lost, were and were yet to be my
portion, since I sailed forth out of Eden-mouth. And so hard
pressed of sickness was I, that not even my outwitting of Brother
Thomas was a cause of comfort to me, though to this day I cannot
think of it without some mirthful triumph.

CHAPTER XVI--HOW SORROW CAME ON NORMAN LESLIE, AND JOY THEREAFTER

It little concerns any man to know how I slowly recovered my health
after certain failings back into the shadow of death. Therefore I
need not tell how I was physicked, and bled, and how I drew on from
a diet of milk to one of fish, and so to a meal of chicken's flesh,
till at last I could sit, wrapped up in many cloaks, on a seat in
the garden, below a great mulberry tree. In all this weary time I
knew little, and for long cared less, as to what went on in the
world and the wars. But so soon as I could speak it was of Elliot
that I devised, with my kind nurse, Charlotte Boucher, the young
daughter of Jacques Boucher, the Duke's treasurer, in whose house I
lay. She was a fair lass, and merry of mood, and greatly hove up my
heart to fight with my disease. It chanced that, as she tended me,
when I was at my worst, she marked, hanging on a silken string about
my neck, a little case of silver artfully wrought, wherein was that
portrait of my mistress, painted by me before I left Chinon. Being
curious, like all girls, and deeming that the case held some relic,
she opened it, I knowing nothing then of what she did. But when I
was well enough to lie abed and devise with her, it chanced that I
was playing idly with my fingers about the silver case.

"Belike," said Charlotte, "that is some holy relic, to which, maybe,
you owe your present recovery. Surely, when you are whole again,
you have vowed a pilgrimage to the shrine of the saint, your
friend?" Here she smiled at me gaily, for she was a right merry
damsel, and a goodly.

"Nay," she said, "I have done more for you than your physician,
seeing that I, or the saint you serve, have now brought the red
colour into these wan cheeks of yours. Is she a Scottish saint,
then? perchance St. Margaret, of whom I have read? Will you not let
me look at the sacred thing?"

"Nay," said I. "Methinks, from your smiling, that you have taken
opportunity to see my treasure before to-day, being a daughter of
our mother Eve."

"She is very beautiful," said Charlotte; "nay, show her to me
again!"

With that I pressed the spring and opened the case, for there is no
lover but longs to hear his lady commended, and to converse about
her. Yet I had spoken no word, for my part, about her beauty,
having heard say that he who would be well with one woman does ill
to praise another in her presence.

"Beautiful, indeed, she is," said Charlotte. "Never have I seen
such eyes, and hair like gold, and a look so gracious! And for thy
pilgrimage to the shrine of this fair saint, where does she dwell?"

I told her at Chinon, or at Tours, or commonly wheresoever the Court
might be, for that her father was the King's painter.

"And you love her very dearly?"

"More than my life," I said. "And may the saints send you,
demoiselle, as faithful a lover, to as fair a lady."

"Nay," she said, reddening. "This is high treason, and well you wot
that you hold no lady half so fair as your own. Are you Scots so
smooth-spoken? You have not that repute. Now, what would you give
to see that lady?"

"All that I have, which is little but my service and goodwill. But
she knows not where I am, nor know I how she fares, which irks me
more than all my misfortunes. Would that I could send a letter to
her father, and tell him how I do, and ask of their tidings."

"The Dauphin is at Tours," she said, "and there is much coming and
going between Tours and this town. For the Maid is instant with the
Dauphin to ride forthwith to Reims, and there be sacred and crowned;
but now he listens and believes, and anon his counsellors tell him
that this is foolhardy, and a thing impossible."

"O they of little faith!" I said, sighing.

"None the less, word has come that the Maid has been in her oratory
at prayers, and a Voice from heaven has called to her, saying,
"Fille de Dieu, va, va, va! Je serai en ton aide. Va!" {27} The
Dauphin is much confirmed in his faith by this sign, and has vowed
that he will indeed march with the Maid to Reims, though his enemies
hold all that country which lies between. But first she must take
the towns which the English hold on Loire side, such as Jargeau.
Now on Jargeau, while you lay knowing nothing, the Bastard of
Orleans, and Xaintrailles, and other good knights, made an
onslaught, and won nothing but loss for their pains, though they
slew Messire Henry Bisset, the captain of the town. But if the Maid
takes Jargeau, the Dauphin will indeed believe in her and follow
her."

"He is hard of heart to believe, and would that I were where he
should be--under her holy pennon, for thereon, at least, I should
see the face painted of my lady. But how does all this bring me
nearer the hope of hearing about her, and how she fares?"

"There are many messengers coming and going to Tours, for the
Dauphin is gathering force under the Maid, and has set the fair Duc
d'Alencon to be her lieutenant, with the Bastard, and La Hire, and
Messire Florent d'Illiers. And all are to be here in Orleans within
few days; wherefore now write to the father of thy lady, and I will
myself write to her." With that she gave me paper and pen, and I
indited a letter to my master, telling him how I had lain near to
death of my old wound, in Orleans, and that I prayed him of his
goodness to let me know how he did, and to lay me at the feet of my
lady. Then Charlotte showed me her letter, wherein she bade Elliot
know that I had hardly recovered, after winning much fame (for so
she said) and a ransom of gold from an English prisoner, which now
lay in the hands of her father, the Duke's treasurer. Then she said
that a word from Elliot, not to say the sight of her face, the
fairest in the world (a thing beyond hope), would be of more avail
for my healing than all the Pharaoh powders of the apothecaries.
These, in truth, I had never taken, but put them away secretly, as
doubting whether such medicaments, the very dust of the persecuting
Egyptian and idolatrous race, were fit for a Christian to swallow,
with any hope of a blessing. Thus my kind nurse ended, calling
herself my lady's sister in the love of France and of the Maid, and
bidding my lady be mindful of so true a lover, who lay sick for a
token at her hands. These letters she sealed, and intrusted to
Colet de Vienne, the royal messenger, the same who rode from
Vaucouleurs to Chinon, in the beginning of the Maid's mission, and
who, as then, was faring to Tours with letters from Orleans.

Meanwhile all the town was full of joy, in early June, because the
Maid was to visit the city, with D'Alencon and the Bastard, on her
way to besiege Jargeau. It was June the ninth, in the year of our
Lord fourteen hundred and twenty-nine, the sun shining warm in a
clear blue sky, and all the bells of Orleans a-ringing, to welcome
back the Maiden. I myself sat in the window, over the doorway,
alone with Charlotte sitting by my side, for her father had gone to
the Hotel de Ville, with her mother, to welcome the captains. Below
us were hangings of rich carpets, to make the house look gay, for
every house was adorned in the best manner, and flags floated in the
long street, and flowers strewed the road, to do honour to our
deliverer. Thus we waited, and presently the sound of music filled
the air, with fragrance of incense, for the priests were walking in
front, swinging censers and chanting the Te Deum laudamus. And then
came a company of girls strewing flowers, and fair boys blowing on
trumpets, and next, on a black horse, in white armour, with a hucque
of scarlet broidered with gold, the blessed Maid herself,
unhelmeted, glancing every way with her happy eyes, while the women
ran to touch her armour with their rings, as to a saint, and the men
kissed her mailed feet.

To be alive, and to feel my life returning in a flood of strength
and joy in that sweet air, with the gladness of the multitude
pulsing through it as a man's heart beats in his body, seemed to me
like Paradise. But out of Paradise our first parents were driven
long ago, as anon I was to be from mine. For, as the Maid passed, I
doffed my cap and waved it, since to shout "Noel" with the rest, I
dared not, because of my infirmity. Now, it so fell that, glancing
around, she saw and knew me, and bowed to me, with a gesture of her
hand, as queenly as if she, a manant's child, had been a daughter of
France. At that moment, noting the Maid's courtesy towards me,
Charlotte stood up from beside me, with a handful of red roses,
which she threw towards her. As it chanced, belike because she was
proud to be with one whom the Maid honoured, or to steady herself as
she threw, she laid her left hand about my neck, and so standing,
cast her flowers, and then looked laughing back into my eyes, with a
happy face. The roses missed the Maid, whose horse caracoled at
that moment as she went by, but they lit in the lap of a damsel that
rode at her rein, on a lyart {28} palfrey, and she looking up, I saw
the face of Elliot, and Elliot saw me, and saw Charlotte leaning on
me and laughing. Then Elliot's face grew deadly pale, her lower lip
stiff, as when she was angered with me at Chinon, and so, wrying her
neck suddenly to the left, she rode on her way, nor ever looked
towards us again.

"Who may that proud damsel be, and what ails her at my roses?" quoth
Charlotte, sitting herself down again and still following them with
her eyes. "Methinks I have seen her face before; and what ails
you?" she asked, looking earnestly on me, "for you are as white as
the last snow ere it melts in spring."

I had good reason to be pale, for I very well guessed that Elliot,
having ridden in the Maiden's company to see me, and to surprise me
with the unlooked-for gladness of her coming, had marked Charlotte
as she so innocently leaned on me and laughed to me, and had
conceived anger against us both, for of a truth Charlotte was very
fair and of a joyous aspect. Yet, taken so suddenly as I was,
between the extreme of delight in looking on my lady beyond hope,
and the very deep of sorrow that she had so bitterly slighted me, I
was yet wary of betraying myself. For the girl beside me had, in
all honest and maidenly service that woman may do for man, been
kinder to me than a sister, and no thought or word of earthly love
had ever passed between us. That she should wot of Elliot's anger,
and of its cause, and so hold my lady lightly, ay, and triumph over
her in her heart (as is the nature of a woman, her ministry being
thus churlishly repaid), was more than I could endure. So, may the
saints forgive me! I lied, and it is a strange thing, but true, that
howsoever a gentleman may hate the very thought of a lie, yet often
he finds it hard to tell the truth to a woman.

"Do I look white?" I said. "Then it is because I have a sudden pang
of sorrow. For one moment I deemed that proud damsel was the lady
of my love, whom, in verity, she most strangely favours, so that you
might think them sisters. But alas! she is but the daughter of a
good Scots knight at Chinon, whom I have seen there before to-day,
and marvelled how much she and my lady favour each other. Therefore
am I pale, because that hope of mine is broken. And you know her
face, belike, from my poor picture of my lady."

Charlotte looked at me steadily, and flushed red; but even then, one
who rode by among the men-at-arms noted me, and, waving his arm
towards me, cried in a loud voice -

"Hail, fair son, soon will I be with thee!" and so, turning in his
saddle to watch me, he laughed a loud laugh and rode onwards. He
was my master, and as my eyes followed him, Charlotte spoke.

"And who is that great Scot, with his Scots twang of the tongue, who
called you 'son'? By the Mass, she was your lady, and yonder wight
is her father, of whom you have spoken to me more than once"; for,
indeed, I had told her all the story of my loves.

Then I was confused, for I could no longer deny the truth, and not
having one word to say, I sighed from my heart.

"O faint-spirited man-at-arms!" cried Charlotte, blushing, and
laughing as if some exquisite jest were abroad. "Do you so terribly
dread your mistress's anger? Nay, be of good cheer! Me she will
never forgive while the world stands; for have I not been your
nurse, and won you back to life and to her service? And has she not
seen us twain together in one place, and happy, because of the
coming of the Maid? She will pardon me never, because, also for my
sake, she has been wroth with you, and shown you her wrath, and all
without a cause. Therefore she will be ashamed, and all the more
cruel. Nay, nor would I forgive her, in the same case, if it befell
me, for we women are all alike, hearts of wolves when we love! Hast
thou never marked a cat that had kittens, or a brachet that had
whelps, how they will fly at man or horse that draws near their
brood, even unwittingly. And so, when we love, are we all, and the
best of us are then the worst. Verily the friendship of you and me
is over and done; but for your part be glad, not sorry, for with all
her heart and soul she loves you. Else she had not been angered."

"You must not speak, nor I hear, such words of my lady," I said; "it
is not seemly."

"Such words of your lady, and of Aymeric's lady, and of Giles's
lady, and of myself were I any man's lady, as I am no man's lady, I
will think and speak," said Charlotte, "for my words are true, and
we maids are, at best, pretty fools, and God willed us to be so for
a while, and then to be wiser than the rest of you. For, were we
not pretty, would you wed us? and were we not fools, would we wed
you? and where would God's world be then? But now you have heard
enough of my wisdom: for I love no man, being very wise; or you
have heard enough of my folly that my mirth bids me speak, as you
shall deem it. And now, we must consider how this great feud may be
closed, and the foes set at one again."

"Shall I find out her lodgings, and be carried thither straightway
in a litter? Her heart may be softened when she sees that I cannot
walk or mount a horse?"

"Now, let me think what I should deem, if I had ridden by, unlooked
for, and spied my lover with a maid, not unfriendly, or perchance
uncomely, sitting smiling in a gallant balcony. Would I be appeased
when he came straight to seek me, borne in a litter? Would I--?"
And she mused, her finger at her mouth, and her brow puckered, but
with a smile on her lips and in her eyes.

Then I, seeing her so fair, yet by me so undesired; and beholding
her so merry, while my heart was amazed with the worst sorrow, and
considering, too, that but for her all this would never have been,
but I sitting happy by my lady's side,--thinking on all this, I say,
I turned from her angrily, as if I would leave the balcony.

"Nay, wait," she cried, "for I must see all the show out, and here
come the Scots Guard, thy friends, and I need time to take counsel
with my wisdom on this weighty matter. See, they know you"; and,
indeed, many a man in that gallant array waved his hand to me
merrily, as they filed past under their banners--the Douglas's
bloody heart, the Crescent moon of Harden, the Napier's sheaf of
spears, the blazons of Lindsays and Leslies, Homes, and Hepburns,
and Stuarts. It was a sight to put life into the dying breast of a
Scot in a strange country, and all were strong men and young, ruddy
and brown of cheek, high of heart and heavy of hand. And most
beckoned to me, and pointed onwards to that way whither they were
bound, in chase of fame and fortune. All this might have made a
sick man whole, but my spirit was dead within me, so that I could
scarce beckon back to them, or even remember their faces.

"Would I forgive you," said Charlotte, after she had thrown the
remnant of her roses to her friends among the Scots, "if you hurried
to me, pale, and borne in a litter? Nay, methinks not, or not for
long; and then I should lay it on you never to see her face again;--
she is I, you know, for the nonce. But if you waited and did not
come, then my pride might yield at length, and I send for you. But
then, if so, methinks I would hate her (that is, me) more than ever.
Oh, it is a hard case when maids are angry!"

"You speak of yourself, how you would do this or that; but my lady
is other than you, and pitiful. Did she not come all these leagues
at a word from me, hearing that I was sick?"

"At a word from you, good youth! Nay, at a word from me! Did you
speak of me in your letter to her father?"

"Nay!" said I.

"You did well. And therefore it was that I wrote, for I knew she
would move heaven and earth and the Maid or she would come when she
heard of another lass being in your company. Nay, trust me, we
women understand each other, and she would ask the Maid, who lodged
here with us, what manner of lass I was to look upon, and the Maid's
answer would bring her."

"You have been kind," I said. "And to you and the saints I owe it
that I yet live to carry a sore heart and be tormented with your ill
tongue."

"And had you heard that a fair young knight, and renowned in arms,
lay sick at your lady's house, she nursing him, would you not have
cast about for ways of coming to her?"

To this I answered nothing, but, with a very sour countenance, was
rising to go, when my name was called in the street.

Looking down, I saw my master, who doffed his cap to the daughter of
the house, and begging leave to come up, fastened his horse's bridle
to the ring in the wall, by the door.

Up he came, whom Charlotte welcomed very demurely, and so left us,
saying that she must go about her household business; but as she
departed she cast a look back at me, making a "moue," as the French
say, with her red lips.

"Well, my son," cried my master, taking my hand, "why so pale? Sure
thou hast had a sore bout, but thou art mending."

I could but stammer my lady's name -

"Elliot--shall I see her soon?"

He scratched his rough head and pulled his russet beard, and so
laughed shamefacedly.

"Why, lad, to that very end she came, and now--St. Anthony's fire
take me if I well know why--she will none of it. The Maid brought
us in her company, for, as you know, she will ever have young lasses
with her when she may, and as far as Orleans the roads are safe.
And who so glad as Elliot when the Maid put this command on her,
after we got thy letter? I myself was most eager to ride, not only
for your sake, but to see how Orleans stood after the long pounding.
But when we had come to our lodging, and I was now starting off to
greet you, Elliot made no motion of rising. Nay, when I bade her
make haste, she said that haste there was none; and when I,
marvelling, asked, 'Wherefore?' answered that she was loth to spoil
good company, and had seen you, as I did myself, happy enough with
the lass who nursed you, and who had written to her."

"And wherefore, in Heaven's name, should we not be happy on such a
day as this was an hour agone? But now the sun is out of the sky."

"I see him plainer than ever I did in the Merse," said my master,
looking up where the sun was bright in the west. "But what would
you? Women have been thus since Eve had a daughter, for our father
Adam, I trow, had no trouble with other ladies than his wife--and
that was trouble enough."

"But how am I to make my peace, and win my pardon, being innocent as
I am?"

"Faith, I know not!" said he, and laughed again, which angered me
some deal, for what was there to laugh at?

"May I let bring a litter, for I cannot yet walk, and so go back
with you to her?"

"Indeed, I doubt if it were wise," said he; and so we stood gazing
at each other, while I could have wept for very helpless anger. "I
have it, I think," said he at last. "The Maid is right busy, as
needs must be, gathering guns and food for her siege of Jargeau.
But it is not fitting that she should visit Orleans without seeing
you, nor would she wish to be so negligent. Yet if she were, I
would put it in her mind, and then, when you are with her, which
Elliot shall not know, I will see that Elliot comes into the
chamber, and so leave all to you, and to her, and to the Maid. For
she hath great power with that silly wench of mine, who has no other
desire, I trow, than a good excuse to be rid of her sudden anger.
If she loved you less, she would be never so fiery."

I myself could see no better hope or comfort.

Then he began to devise with me on other matters, and got from me
the story of my great peril at the hands of Brother Thomas. He
laughed at the manner of my outwitting that miscreant, who had never
been taken, but was fled none knew whither, and my master promised
to tell the tale to the Maid, and warn her against this enemy. And
so bidding me be of good cheer, he departed; but for my part, I went
into my chamber, drew the bolt, and cast myself on the bed, refusing
meat or drink, or to see the face of man or woman.

I was devoured by a bitter anger, considering how my lady had used
me, and what was most sore of all, reflecting that I could no longer
hold her for a thing all perfect, and almost without touch of mortal
infirmity. Nay, she was a woman like another, and unjust, and to
deem thus of her was to me the most cruel torment. We could never
forgive each the other, so it seemed to me, nor be again as we had
been. And all the next day no message came for me, and I kept
myself quiet, apart in my chamber. Lest they who read mock at me in
their hearts, and at my lady, let them remember how young we both
were, and how innocent of other experience in love. For the Roman
says that "the angers of lovers are love's renewal," as the brief
tempests of April bring in the gladness of May. But in my heart it
was all white sleet, and wind, and snow unseasonable, and so I lay,
out of all comfort, tossing on my bed.

I heard the watchmen call the hours through the night, and very
early, having at length fallen on sleep, I was wakened by a
messenger from the Maid. It was her page, Louis de Coutes, most
richly attired, but still half asleep, grumbling, and rubbing his
eyes.

"My mistress bids you come with me instantly," he said, when we had
saluted each other, "and I have brought a litter and men to carry
it. Faith, if I lay in it, I should be asleep ere ever they had
borne me ten paces. What a life it is that I lead! Late to bed and
up by prime, so busy is my mistress; and she lives as it were
without sleep, and feeds on air."

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