Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Monk of Fife by Andrew Lang

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Here he threw himself down in a great chair, and verily, by the time
I had washed and attired myself, I had to shake him by the shoulder
to arouse him. Thus I was carried to the Maid's lodging, my heart
beating like a hammer with hopes and fears.

We found her already armed, for that day she was to ride to Jargeau,
and none was with her but her confessor. She gave me the best of
greetings, and bade me eat bread and drink wine. "And soon," she
said, "if you recover the quicker, I trust to give you wine to drink
in Paris."

She herself dipped a crust in wine and water, and presently, bidding
her confessor, Pasquerel, wait for her in the little oratory, she
asked me how I did, and told me what fear she had been in for me, as
touching Brother Thomas, when she learned who he was, yet herself
could not return from the field to help me.

"But now," said she, smiling with a ravishing sweetness, "I hear you
are in far greater peril from a foe much harder and more cruel--ma
mie Elliot. Ah! how you lovers put yourselves in jeopardy, and take
me from my trade of war to play the peacemaker! Surely I have
chosen the safer path in open breach and battle, though would that
my war was ended, and I sitting spinning again beside my dear
mother." Hereon her face grew more tender and sad than ever I had
seen it, and there came over me forgetfulness of my private grief,
as of a little thing, and longing to ride at the Maiden's rein,
where glory was to be won.

"Would that even now I could march with you," I said; and she,
smiling, made answer -

"That shall yet be; yea, verily," and here the fashion of her
countenance altered wondrously, "I know, and know not how I know,
that thou shalt be with me when all have forsaken me and fled."

Then she fell silent, and I also, marvelling on her face and on the
words which she spoke. There came a light tap at the door, and she
awoke as it were from a trance which possessed her. She drew her
hands over her face, with a long sigh; she knelt down swiftly, and
crossed herself, making an obeisance, for I deem that her saints had
been with her, wherefore I also crossed myself and prayed. Then she
rose and cried "Enter!" and ere I could speak she had passed into
the oratory, and I was alone with Elliot.

Elliot gave one low cry, and cast her arms about my neck, hiding her
face on my breast, and sobbing as if her heart would break.

"I have been mad, I have been bad!" she moaned. "Oh! say hard words
to me, and punish me, my love."

But I had no word to say, only I fell back into a great chair for
very weakness, holding my lady in my arms.

And thus, with words few enough, but great delight, the minutes went
past, till she lifted her wet face and her fragrant hair; and
between laughing and crying, studied on my face and caressed me,
touching my thin cheek, and wept and laughed again. "I was mad,"
she whispered; "it seemed as if a devil entered into me. But She
spoke to me and cast him out, and she bade me repent."

"And do penance," I said, kissing her till she laughed again, saying
that I was a hard confessor, and that the Maid had spoken no word of
penances.

"Yet one I must do and suffer," she said, "and it is more difficult
to me than these austerities of thine."

Here her face grew very red, and she hid it with her hands.

"What mean you?" I asked, wondering.

"I must see her, and thank her for all her kindness to thee."

"The Maid?" I asked.

"Nay, that other, thy--fair nurse. Nay, forbid me not, I have sworn
it to myself, and I must go. And the Maiden told me, when I spoke
of it, that it was no more than right." Then she threw her arms
about me again, in the closest embrace, and hid her head. Now, this
resolve of hers gave me no little cause of apprehension, as not
knowing well how things might pass in such an encounter of two
ladies. But even then one touched me on the shoulder from behind,
and the Maid herself stood beside us.

"O joy!" she said, "my peacemaking has been blessed! Go, you
foolish folk, and sin no more, and peace and happiness be with you,
long years, and glad children at your knees. Yet hereof I know
nothing from my counsel. And now I must go forth about the
Dauphin's business, and to do that for which I was sent. They that
brought thee in the litter will carry thee back again; so farewell."

Thus saying, she stooped and kissed Elliot, who leaped up and caught
the Maid in her arms, and they embraced, and parted for that time,
Elliot weeping to lose her, and at the thought of the dangers of
war.

CHAPTER XVII--HOW ELLIOT LOST HER JACKANAPES

The Maid's confessor, Pasquerel, stood in the chamber where we had
met, with his eyes bent on the ground, so that Elliot and I had no
more free speech at that time. Therefore I said farewell, not
daring to ask of her when her mind was to visit my hosts, and,
indeed, my trust was that she might leave this undone, lest new
cause of sorrow should arise. Thus we parted, with very courtly
leave-taking, the priest regarding us in his manner, and I was
carried in the litter through the streets, that had been so quiet
when I came forth in the morning, but now they were full of men and
of noise. Herds of cattle were being driven for the food of the
army marching against Jargeau; there were trains of carts full of
victual, and the citizens having lent the Maid their great pieces of
ordnance, the bombard called "The Shepherdess," and the gun
"Montargis," these were being dragged along by clamorous companies
of apprentices, and there were waggons charged with powder, and
stone balls, and boxes of arrows, spades and picks for trenching,
and all manner of munition of war. By reason of the troops of
horses and of marching men, they that bore me were often compelled
to stop. Therefore, lest any who knew me should speak with me, I
drew the curtains of the litter, for I had much matter to think on,
and was fain to be private. But this was to be of no avail, for I
heard loud voices in my own tongue.

"What fair lady is this who travels so secretly?" and, with this,
one drew the curtains, and there was the face of Randal Rutherford,
with others behind him. Then he uttered a great cry -

"Faith, it is our lady of the linen-basket, and no other"; and
leaning within, he gave me a rough embrace and a kiss of his bearded
lips. "Why so early astir, our sick man?" he cried. "Get yourself
healed anon, and be with us when we take Paris town, Norman, for
there is booty enough to furnish all Scotland. Shalt thou be with
us yet?"

"If my strength backs my will, Randal; and truly your face is a
sight for sair eyne, and does me more good than all the powers of
the apothecary."

"Then here is to our next merry meeting," he cried, "under Paris
walls!"

With that the Scots gave a shout, and, some of them crowding round
to press my hand, they bade me be of good cheer, and all went
onward, singing in the tune of "Hey, tuttie tattie," which the
pipers played when we broke the English at Bannockburn.

So I was borne back to the house of Jacques Boucher, and, in the
sunny courtyard, there stood Charlotte, looking gay and fair, yet
warlike, as I deemed. She was clad in a long garment of red over a
white robe, and had sleeves of green, so that she wore the spring's
own colours, and she was singing a French ditty concerning a lady
who has a lover, and vows that she will never be a nun.

Seray-je nonnette, oui ou non,
Serray-je nonnette, je croy que non!

Seeing me, she stinted in her singing, and in feeding a falcon that
was perched on her wrist.

"You are early astir for a sick man," she said. "Have you been on
pilgrimage, or whither have you been faring?"

"The Maid sent for me right early, for to-day she rides to Jargeau,
and to you she sends a message of her love,"--as indeed she had
done, "but, for the great press of affairs she might not visit you."

"And Mistress Elliot Hume, has she forgiven her lover yet? nay, I
see by your face that you are forgiven! And you go south, this very
day, is it not so?"

"Indeed," I said, "if it is your will that we part, part we must,
though I sorrow for it; but none has given me the word to march,
save you, my fair nurse and hostess."

"Nay, it is not I who shall speed you; nevertheless the Maid is not
the only prophetess in this realm of France, and something tells me
that we part this day. But you are weary; will you get you to your
chamber, or sit in the garden under the mulberry-tree, and I shall
bring you out a cup of white wine."

Weary I was indeed, and the seat in the garden among the flowers
seemed a haven most desirable. So thither I went, leaning on her
shoulder, and she returned to bring the wine, but was some while
absent, and I sat deep in thought. I was marvelling, not only as to
what my mistress would next do, and when I should see her again
(though that was uppermost in my mind), but also concerning the
strange words of the Maid, that I alone should be with her when all
forsook her and fled. How might this be, and was she not to be ever
victorious, and drive the English forth of France? To my thinking
the Maid dwelt ever in two worlds, with her brethren of Paradise,
and again with sinful men. And I have often considered that she did
not always remember, in this common life, what had befallen her, and
what she knew when, as the Apostle says, she "was out of the body."
For I have heard her say, more than once, that she "would last but
one year, or little more," and, again, she would make plans for
three years to come, or four, which is a mystery.

So I was pondering, when I looked up, and saw Charlotte standing in
the entrance between the court and garden, looking at me and
smiling, as she shaded her eyes with her hand from the sun, and then
she ran to me lightly as a lapwing.

"They are coming down the street, looking every way for our house,
your lady and her father," she said, putting the wine-cup into my
hand. "Now is it war or peace?" and she fled back again within the
house.

My heart stood still, for now everything was on the fall of the
dice. Would this mad girl be mocking or meek? Would she anger my
lady to my ruin with her sharp tongue? For Charlotte was of a high
temper, and wont to rule all the house by reason of her beauty and
kind wild ways. Nor was Elliot the meekest of women, as well I
knew, and a word, nay a smile, or a glance of mockery, might lightly
turn her heart from me again for ever. Oh! the lot of a lover is
hard, at least if he has set all his heart on the cast, as I had
done, and verily, as our Scots saw runs, "women are kittle cattle."
It is a strange thing that one who has learned not to blench from a
bare blade, or in bursting of cannon-balls and flight of arrows,
should so easily be daunted where a weak girl is concerned; yet so
it was in my case. I know not if I feared more than now when
Brother Thomas had me in the still chamber, alone at his mercy.

So the minutes went by, the sun and shade flickering through the
boughs of the mulberry-tree, and the time seemed long. Perchance, I
thought, there had been war, as Charlotte had said, and my lady had
departed in anger with her father, and I was all undone. Yet I
dared not go to seek them in the house, not knowing how matters were
passing, and whether I should do good or harm. So I waited, and at
length Charlotte came forth alone. Now she walked slowly, her eyes
bent on the ground, and, as she drew near, I saw that they were red,
and I guessed that she had been weeping. So I gave up all for lost,
and my heart turned to water within me.

"I am sent to bid you come in," she said gravely.

"What has passed?" I cried. "For the saints' sake, tell me all!"

"This has passed, that I have seen such a lady as I never dreamed I
should see, and she has made me weep--foolish that I am!"

"Why, what did she? Did she speak unkindly then, to my kind nurse?"

For this I could in no manner have endured, nor have abased myself
to love one that was unjust, how dear soever; and none could be
dearer than Elliot. Yet unjust she might have been; and this
thought to me was the greatest torment.

"Speak unkind words? Oh, I remember my foolish talk, how I said
that she would never forgive me while the world stands. Nay, while
her father was with mine and with my mother, thanking them for what
they did for you, she led me apart to devise with me, and I took her
to my chamber, and there, with tears in her eyes, and in the
sweetest manner, she prayed me to pardon her for that she had been
mad for a moment; and so, looking meek as an angel, she awaited my
word. And I could not but weep, though to weep is never my way, and
we embraced each the other, and I told her how all your converse had
ever been of her, even when you were beside yourself, in your fever,
and how never was so faithful a lover. Nay, I bid you be glad, for
I never deemed that any woman living on earth would so repent and so
confess herself to another, where she herself had first been wroth,
but would blame all the world rather, and herself--never. So we
women are not all alike, as I thought; for I would hardly have
forgiven, if I know myself; and yet I am no worse than another.
Truly, she has been much with the Maid, and has caught from her
this, to be like her, who is alone among women, and of the greatest
heart."

Here she ceased to speak very gravely, as she had till now done, and
breaking out into a sweet laughter, she cried -

"Nevertheless I am not wholly a false prophetess, for to-day you go
with them southward, to Tours, to change the air, as the physician
counsels, and so now we part. O false Scot!" she said, laughing
again, "how have you the ill courtesy to look so joyous? Nay, I
shall change your cheer"; and with that she stooped and kissed my
cheek, saying, "Go, and joy go with you, as joy abides with me, to
see my sick man look so strong again. Come, they are waiting for
us, and you know we must not tarry."

Then, giving me her arm, she led me in, and if one of us twain had a
shamefaced guise, verify it was not Charlotte Boucher.

"I yield you back your esquire, fair lady," she said merrily, making
obeisance to Elliot, who stood up, very pale, to receive us.

"He has got no ill in the bower of the enchantress," said my master;
whereat, Elliot seeming some deal confused, and blushing, Charlotte
bustled about, bringing wine and meat, and waiting upon all of us,
and on her father and mother at table. A merry dinner it was among
the elder folk, but Elliot and I were somewhat silent, and a great
joy it was to me, and a heavy weight off my heart, I do confess,
when, dinner being ended, and all courtesies done and said, my
raiment was encased in wallets, and we all went through the garden,
to Loire side; and so, with many farewells, took boat and sailed
down the river, under the Bridge of Orleans, towards Blois. But
Charlotte I never saw again, nor did I ever speak of her to Elliot,
nor Elliot of her to me, from that day forth.

But within short space came tidings, how that Charlotte was wedding
a young burgess of Orleans, with whom, as I hear, she dwelt happily,
and still, for all I know, dwells in peace. As I deem, she kept her
lord in a merry life, yet in great order and obedience. So now
there is no more to tell of her, save that her picture comes back
before me--a tall, brown girl, with black hair and eyes like the hue
of hazel boughs glassed in running water, clad in white and green
and red, standing smiling beneath the red-and-white blossoms of an
apple-tree, in the green garden of Jacques Boucher.

Elliot was silent enough, and sat telling her beads, in the
beginning of our journey down the water-way, that is the smoothest
and the easiest voyaging for a sick man. She was in the stern of
the boat, her fingers, when her beads were told, trailing in the
smooth water, that was green with the shade of leaves. But her
father stood by me, asking many questions concerning the siege, and
gaping at the half-mended arch of the bridge, where through we
sailed, and at the blackened walls of Les Tourelles, and all the
ruin that war had wrought. But now masons and carpenters were very
busy rebuilding all, and the air was full of the tinkling of trowels
and hammers. Presently we passed the place where I had drawn
Brother Thomas from the water; but thereof I said no word, for
indeed my dreams were haunted by his hooded face, like that of the
snake which, as travellers tell, wears a hood in Prester John's
country, and is the most venomous of beasts serpentine. So
concerning Brother Thomas I held my peace, and the barque, swinging
round a corner of the bank, soon brought us into a country with no
sign of war on it, and here the poplar-trees had not been felled for
planks to make bulwarks, but whispered by the riverside.

The wide stream carried many a boat, and shone with sails, white,
and crimson, and brown; the boat-men sang, or hailed each other from
afar. There was much traffic, stores being carried from Blois to
the army. Some mile or twain above Beaugency we were forced to
land, and, I being borne in a litter, we took a cross-path away from
the stream, joining it again two miles below Beaugency, because the
English held that town, though not for long. The sun had set, yet
left all his gold shining on the water when we entered Blois, and
there rested at a hostel for the night. Next day--one of the
goodliest of my life, so soft and clear and warm it was, yet with a
cool wind on the water--we voyaged to Tours; and now Elliot was glad
enough, making all manner of mirth.

Her desire, she said, was to meet a friend that she had left at
their house in Tours, one that she had known as long as she knew me,
my friend he was too, yet I had never spoken of him, or asked how he
did. Now I, being wrapped up wholly in her, and in my joy to see
her kind again, and so beautiful, had no memory of any such friend,
wherefore she mocked me, and rebuked me for a hard heart and
ungrateful. "This friend of mine," she said, "was the first that
made us known each to other. Yea, but for him, the birds might have
pecked out your eyne, and the ants eaten your bones bare, yet"--with
a sudden anger, and tears in her eyes at the words she spoke--"you
have clean forgotten him!"

"Ah, you mean the jackanapes. And how is the little champion?"

"Like the lads of Wamfray, aye for ill, and never for good," said my
master; but she frowned on him, and said -

"Now you ask, because I forced you on it; but, sir, I take it very
ill that you have so short a memory for a friend. Now, tell me, in
all the time since you left us at Chinon, how often have you thought
of him?"

"Nigh as often as I thought of you," I answered. "For when you came
into my mind (and that was every minute), as in a picture, thither
too came your playfellow, climbing and chattering, and holding out
his little bowl for a comfit."

"Nay, then you thought of me seldom, or you would have asked how he
does."

Here she turned her face from me, half in mock anger. But, just as
it is with children, so it was with Elliot, for indeed my dear was
ever much of a child, wherefore her memory is now to me so tender.
And as children make pretence to be in this humour or that for
sport, and will affect to be frighted till they really fear and
weep, so Elliot scarce knew how deep her own humour went, and
whether she was acting like a player in a Mystery, or was in good
earnest. And if she knew not rightly what her humour was, far less
could I know, so that she was ever a puzzle to me, and kept me in a
hundred pretty doubts and dreads every day. Alas! how sorely,
through all these years, have I longed to hear her rebuke me in
mirth, and put me adread, and laugh at me again I for she was, as it
were, wife and child to me, at once, and I a child with her, and as
happy as a child.

Thus, nothing would now jump with her humour but to be speaking of
her jackanapes, and how he would come louting and leaping to welcome
her, and forsake her old kinswoman, who had followed with them to
Tours. And she had much to report concerning his new tricks: how
he would leap over a rod for the Dauphin or the Maid, but not if
adjured in the name of the English King, or the Duke of Burgundy.
Also, if you held him, he would make pretence to bite any that you
called Englishman or false Frenchman. Moreover, he had now been
taught to fetch and carry, and would climb into Elliot's window,
from the garden, and bring her little basket of silks, or whatsoever
she desired, or carry it thither, as he was commanded.

"And he wrung the cat's neck," quoth my master; but Elliot bade him
hold his peace.

In such sport the hours passed, till we were safely come to Tours,
and so to their house in a street running off the great place, where
the cathedral stands. It was a goodly dwelling, with fair carved-
work on the beams, and in the doorway stood the old Scots kinswoman,
smiling wide and toothless, to welcome us. Elliot kissed her
quickly, and she fondled Elliot, and held a hand out over her
shoulder to greet me.

"But where is my jackanapes, that should have been here to salute
his mistress?" Elliot cried.

"Out and alas!" said the old wife in our country tongue--"out and
alas! for I have ill news. The poor beast is missing these three
days past, and we fear he is stolen away by some gangrel bodies, for
the town is full of them. There came two to our door, three days
agone, and one was a blind man, and the other a one-armed soldier,
maimed in the wars, and I gave them bite and sup, as a Christian
should do. Now, they had not been gone but a few minutes, and I was
in the spence, putting away the dishes, when I heard a whistle in
the street, and anon another. I thought little of it, and so was
about my business for an hour, when I missed the jackanapes. And
then there was a hue and cry, and all the house was searched, and
the neighbours were called on, but since that day there has been no
word of the jackanapes. But, for the blind man and the armless
soldier, the town guard saw them leaving by the North Gate, with a
violer woman and her husband, an ill-looking loon, in their
company." Elliot sat her down and wept sore. "They have stolen my
little friend," she cried, "and now he that was so fat I called him
Tremouille will go hungry and lean, and be whipped to make him do
his tricks, and I shall never see him more."

Then she ran out of the chamber, to weep alone, as I guessed, for
she was pitiful and of very tender affection, and dumb things came
near about her heart, as is the manner of many women.

But I made no doubt in my mind that the husband of the ape's old
mistress had stolen him, and I, too, sorrowed for the poor beast
that my mistress loved, and that, in very deed, had been the saving
of my own life. Then I spoke to my master, and said that we must
strive to buy her a new ape, or a little messan dog, to be her
playfellow.

But he shook his head. "Say nothing more of the beast," he
muttered, "unless she speaks of him first, and that, methinks, will
be never. For it is not her wont to speak of what lies very deep in
her heart, and if you talk of the beast it will please her little."

And, indeed, I heard no word more of the jackanapes from Elliot,
save that, coming back from the minster next day, she whispered, "I
have prayed for him," and so fled to her own chamber.

As then I deemed it a strange thing, and scarcely to be approved by
Holy Church, that my lady should pray for a dumb beast who had no
soul to be saved. But a faithful, loving prayer is not unavailing
or unheard of Him who made the beasts, as well as He made us; for
whose sin, or the sin of our father Adam, they now suffer, silently.
And the answer to this prayer was to be known in the end.

As the week went on, tidings came that made Elliot glad again, if
before she had been sad enough. For this was that great week of
wonders which shall never be forgotten while France is France, and
the lilies bloom.

On June the thirteenth the Maid took Jargeau, whence the famed
Bastard of Orleans had been driven some weeks agone; and the Earl of
Suffolk yielded him her prisoner, saying that she was "the most
valiant woman in the world." Scarce had tidings of this great
victory come, when messengers followed, declaring that the Maid had
seized the Bridge of Meun and driven the English into the Castle.

Next she marched against Beaugency, and, at midnight of June the
seventeenth, the English made terms, that they might go forth with
their lives, but without baggage or arms, and with but one mark of
silver apiece. Next morning came Talbot, the best knight then on
ground, and Fastolf, the wariest of captains, with a great army of
English. First they made for Jargeau, but they came too late, and
then they rode to Meun, and would have assailed the French in the
bridge-fort, but, even then, they heard how Beaugency had yielded to
La Pucelle, and how the garrison was departed into Normandy, like
pilgrims, without swords, and staff in hand. Thus all the Loire and
the water-way was in the power of France, wherefore the English
marched off through the country called La Beauce, which then lay
desert and overgrown with wild wood, by reason of the war. And
there, in a place named Coynce, near Patay, the Maid overtook the
English, having with her La Hire and Xaintrailles, and she charged
them so rudely, that ere the English could array them in order of
battle, they were already flying for their lives. There were Talbot
and Warwick taken and held to ransom, but Fastolf fled as fast as
his horse could carry him.

Thus in one week, between June the eleventh and June the eighteenth,
the Maid had delivered three strong towns from the English, and had
utterly routed them in fair field. Then, at Orleans, on June the
nineteenth, the army went to the churches, thanking God, and the
Blessed Virgin, and all the saints, for such great signs and marvels
wrought through the Maid only.

Sorrow it is to me to write of such things by report, and not to
have seen them done. But, as Talbot said to the Duc d'Alencon, when
they took him at Patay, "it is fortune of war."

But, as day by day messengers came, their horses red with spurring,
to the cross in the market-place of Tours, and as we that gathered
round heard of some fresh victory, you may consider whether we
rejoiced, feasted, filled the churches with our thanksgivings, and
deemed that, in a few weeks, there would be no living Englishman on
French soil. And of all that were glad my lady was the happiest,
for she had believed in the Maid from the very beginning, when her
father mocked. And a hard life she now led him with her sallies,
day by day, as more and ever more glad tidings were brought, and we
could hear Elliot singing through the house.

Yea, I found her once dancing in the garden all alone, a beautiful
sight to look upon, as the sun fell on her and the shadow, she
footing it as if to music, but the music was made by her own heart.
Leaning against an apple-tree, I watched her, who waved her hand to
me, and still danced on; this was after we had heard the news of
Beaugency. As she so swayed and moved, dancing daintily, came a
blast of a trumpet and a gay peal from the minster bells. Then
forth rushed Elliot, and through the house, and down the street into
the market-place, nor did I know where I was, till I found myself
beside her, and heard the Maire read a letter to all the folk,
telling how the English were routed at Pathay in open field.
Thereon the whole multitude fell a-dancing, and I, for all my
malady, was fain to dance with them; but Elliot led me home, her
head high, and blue rays darting from her eyes. From that day my
life seemed to come back to me, and I was no longer the sick man.
So the weeks went by, in all delight, my master working hard, and I
helping him in my degree, for new banners would be wanted when the
Dauphin went for his sacring to his good town of Reims. As we all
deemed, this could no longer be delayed; and thereafter our armies
would fall on Paris, and so strong grew I, that I was in hopes to be
with them, where, at last, fortune was to be won. But of this my
hope I said little to Elliot, waiting till I could wear armour, and
exercising myself thereat privately in the garden, before folk had
risen in the mornings.

CHAPTER XVIII--HOW ELLIOT'S JACKANAPES WAS SEEN AT THE KING'S
CROWNING

"The hearts of kings are in His hand," says Holy Scripture, and it
is of necessity to be believed that the hearts of kings, in an
especial sense, are wisely governed. Yet, the blindness of our
sinful souls, we often may not see, nor by deep consideration find
out, the causes wherefore kings often act otherwise, and, as we
might deem, less worthily than common men. For it is a truth and
must be told, that neither before he was anointed with the blessed
oil from the holy vessel, or ampulla, which the angel brought to St.
Remigius, nor even after that anointing (which is more strange), did
Charles VII., King of France, bear him kingly as regards the Maiden.
Nay, I have many a time thought with sorrow that if Xaintrailles, or
La Hire, ay, or any the meanest esquire in all our army, had been
born Dauphin, in three months after the Maid's victories in June
Paris would have been ours, and not an Englishman left to breathe
the air of France. For it needed but that the King should obey the
Maid, ride straight to Reims, and thence on Paris town, and every
city would have opened its gates to him, as the walls of Jericho
fell at the mere sound of the trumpets of Israel.

This is no foolish fancy of an old man dreaming in a cloister about
what might have been. For the Regent of the English, brother of
their King Harry the Fifth, and himself a wise man, and brave, if
cruel, was of this same mind. First, he left Paris and shut himself
up in the strong castle of Vincennes, dreading an uproar among the
people; and next, he wholly withdrew himself to Rouen, for he had
now no force of men to guard the walls of Paris. Our Dauphin had
but to mount and ride, and all would have been his at one blow, ay,
or without a blow. The Maid, as we daily heard, kept praying him,
even with tears, to do no more than this; and from every side came
in men free and noble, ready to serve at their own charges. The
poorest gentlemen who had lost all in the troubles, and might not
even keep a horse to ride, were of goodwill to march as common foot-
soldiers.

But, while all France called on her King, he was dwelling at Sully,
in the castle of La Tremouille, a man who had a foot in either camp,
so that neither English nor Burgundians had ever raided on his rich
lands, when these lay in their power. So, what with the self-
seeking, and sloth, and jealousy of La Tremouille; what with the
worldly policy of the Archbishop of Reims, crying Peace, where there
was no peace, the Maid and the captains were not listened to, or, if
they were heard, their plans were wrought out with a faint heart, so
that, at last, if it is lawful to say so, the will of men prevailed
over the will of Heaven.

Never, I pray, may any prince of my own country be so bestead, and
so ill-served, that, when he has won battles and gained cities two
or three, and needs but to ride forward and win all his kingdom, he
shall be turned back by the little faith of his counsellors! Never
may such a thing befall a prince of Scotland! Concerning these
matters of State, as may be believed, we devised much at Tours,
while messengers were coming and going, and long, weary councils
were being held at Sully and at Gien. D'Alencon, we got news, was
all for striking a blow yet more bold than the march to Reims, and
would have attacked the English where they were strongest, and
nearest their own shores, namely, at Rouen. The counsellors of the
peaceful sort were inclined to waste time in besieging La Charite,
and other little towns on Loire-side. But her Voices had bidden the
Maid, from the first, to carry the Dauphin to Reims, that there he
might be anointed, and known to France for the very King. So at
last, finding that time was sorely wasted, whereas all hope lay in a
swift stroke, ere the English could muster men, and bring over the
army lately raised by the Cardinal of Winchester to go crusading
against the miscreants of Bohemia--the Maid rode out of Gien, with
her own company, on June the twenty-seventh, and lodged in the
fields, some four leagues away, on the road to Auxerre. And next
day the King and the Court followed her perforce, with a great army
of twelve thousand men. Thenceforth there came news to us every day
in Tours, and all the news was good. Town after town opened its
gates at the summons of the Maid, and notably Troyes and Chalons, in
despite of the English garrisons.

We were all right glad, and could scarce sleep for joy, above all
when a messenger rode in, one Thomas Scott, whom I had encountered
before, as I have written, bidding my master come straightway to
Reims, to join the King, and exercise his craft in designing a great
picture of the coronation. So with much ado he bestowed his
canvases, brushes, paints, and all other gear of his trade in
wallets, and, commending his daughter to his old kinswoman, to obey
her in all things, he set off on horseback with Thomas Scott. But
for myself, I was to lodge, while he was at Reims, with a worthy
woman of Tours, for the avoiding of evil tongues, and very tardily
the time passed with me, for that I might not be, as before, always
in the company of Elliot.

As for my lady, she was, during most of these days, on her knees at
the altar in the great minster, praying to the saints for the
Dauphin, and the Maid, and for her father, that he might come and go
safely on his journey. Nor did she pray in vain, for, no more than
two days after the first tidings had arrived that the sacring was
done, and that all had gone well, my master rode to his own door,
weary, but glad at heart, and hobbled into his house. One was sent
running to bring me this good news, and I myself ran, for now I was
able, and found him seated at his meat, as well as he could eat it
for Elliot, that often stopped his mouth with kisses.

He held forth his hand to me, saying, "All is as well as heart could
desire, and the Maid bids you follow her, if you may, to the taking
of Paris, for there she says will be your one chance to win your
spurs. And now let me eat and drink, for the heat is great, the
ways dusty, and I half famished. Thereafter ask me what you will,
and you, Elliot, come not between a hungry man and his meat."

So he spoke, sitting at his table with his tankard in his hand, and
his wallets lying about him on the floor. Elliot was therefore fain
not to be embracing him, but rather to carve for him, and serve in
the best manner, that he might sup the quicker and tell us all his
tale. This he did at last, Elliot sitting on his knee, with her arm
about his neck. But, as touches the sacring, how it was done,
though many of the peers of France were not there to see, and how
noble were the manners of the King and the Maid, who stood there
with her banner, and of the only reward which she would take,
namely, that her townsfolk should live free of tax and corvee, all
this is known and written of in Chronicles. Nor did I see it
myself, so I pass by. But, next to actual beholding of that
glorious rite, the best thing was to hear my master tell of it,
taking out his books, wherein he had drawn the King, and the Maid in
her harness, and many of the great lords. From these pictures a
tapestry was afterwards wrought, and hung in Reims Cathedral, where
it is to this day: the Maid on horseback beckoning the King onward,
the Scots archers beside him in the most honourable place, as was
their lawful due, and, behind all, the father of the Maid entering
Reims by another road. By great good fortune, and by virtue of
being a fellow-traveller with Thomas Scott, the rider of the King's
stable, my master found lodgings easily enough. So crowded was the
town that, the weather being warm, in mid July, many lay in
tabernacles of boughs, in the great place of Reims, and there was
more singing that night than sleeping. But my master had lain at
the hostelry called L'Asne Roye, in the parvise, opposite to the
cathedral, where also lay Jean d'Arc, the father of the Maid.
Thither she herself came to visit him, and she gave gifts to such of
the people of her own countryside as were gathered at Reims.

"And, Jeannot, do you fear nothing?" one of them asked her, who had
known her from a child.

"I fear nothing but treason," my master heard her reply, a word that
we had afterwards too good cause to remember.

"And is she proud now that she is so great?" asked Elliot.

"She proud! No pride has she, but sat at meat, and spoke friendly
with all these manants, and it was "tu" and "toy," and "How is this
one? and that one?" till verily, I think, she had asked for every
man, woman, child, and dog in Domremy. And that puts me in mind--"

"In mind of what?"

"Of nought. Faith, I remember not what I was going to say, for I am
well weary."

"But Paris?" I asked. "When march we on Paris?" My master's face
clouded. "They should have set forth for Paris the very day after
the sacring, which was the seventeenth of July. But envoys had come
in from the Duke of Burgundy, and there were parleys with them as
touching peace. Now, peace will never be won save at the point of
the lance. But a truce of a fortnight has been made with Burgundy,
and then he is to give up Paris to the King. Yet, ere a fortnight
has passed, the new troops from England will have come over to fight
us, and not against the heretics of Bohemia, though they have taken
the cross and the vow. And the King has gone to Saint Marcoul,
forsooth, seeing that, unless he goes there to do his devotions, he
may not touch the sick and heal the crewels. {29} Faith, they that
have the crewels might even wait till the King has come to his own
again; they have waited long enough to learn patience while he was
Dauphin. It should be Paris first, and Saint Marcoul and the
crewels afterwards, but anything to waste time and keep out of the
brunt of the battle." Here he struck his hand on the table so that
the vessels leaped. "I fear what may come of it," he said. "For
every day that passes is great loss to us and much gain to our
enemies of England, who will anon garrison Paris."

"Faint-heart," cried Elliot, plucking his beard. "You will never
believe in the Maid, who has never yet failed to help us, by the aid
of the saints."

"The saints help them that help themselves," he answered. "And
Paris town has walls so strong, that once the fresh English are
entered in, even the saints may find it a hard bargain. But you,
Elliot, run up and see if my chamber be ready, for I am well weary."
She ran forth, and my master, turning to me, said in a low voice, "I
have something for your own ear, but I feared to grieve her. In a
booth at Reims I saw her jackanapes doing his tricks, and when he
came round questing with his bowl the little beast knew me and
jumped up into my arms, and wailed as if he had been a Christian.
Then I was for keeping him, but I was set on by three or four stout
knaves, and, I being alone, and the crowd taking their part, I
thought it not well to draw sword, and so break the King's peace
that had just then begun to be King. But my heart was sore for the
poor creature, and, in very truth, I bring back no light heart, save
to see you twain again, for I fear me that the worst of the darg
{30} is still to do. But here comes Elliot, so no word of the
jackanapes."

Therewith he went off to his chamber, and I to mine, with less
pleasure than I had looked for. Still, the thought came into my
heart that, the longer the delay of the onslaught on Paris, the
better chance I had to take part therein; and the harder the work,
the greater the glory.

The boding words of my master proved over true. The King was sacred
on July the sixteenth, and Paris then stood empty of English
soldiers, being garrisoned by Burgundians only. But, so soon as he
was anointed, the King began to parley with Burgundy, and thus they
spun out the time, till, on July the twenty-fifth, a strong army of
Englishmen had entered Paris. Whether their hearts were high may
not be known, but on their banner they had hung a distaff, and had
painted the flag with the words -

"Ores viegne la Belle,"

meaning, "Let the fair Maid come, and we shall give her wool to
spin." Next we heard, and were loth to believe it, that a new truce
of fifteen days more had been made with Burgundy. The Maid, indeed,
said openly that she loved not the truce, and that she kept it only
for the honour of the King, which was dearer to her than her life,
as she proved in the end.

Then came marchings, this way and that, all about the Isle of
France, Bedford leaving Paris to fight the King, and then refusing
battle, though the Maid rode up to the English palisades, and smote
them with her sword, defying the English to come out, if they were
men. So the English betook them back to Paris, after certain light
skirmishes only. Meanwhile some of his good towns that had been in
the hands of the English yielded to the King, or rather to the Maid.
Among these the most notable was Compiegne, a city as great as
Orleans. Many a time it had been taken and retaken in the wars, but
now the burgesses swore that they would rather all die, with their
wives and children, than open their gates again to the English. And
this oath they kept well, as shall be seen in the end.

CHAPTER XIX--HOW NORMAN LESLIE RODE AGAIN TO THE WARS

Tidings of these parleys, and marches, and surrenders of cities came
to us at Tours, the King sending letters to his good towns by
messengers. One of these, the very Thomas Scott of whom I have
before spoken, a man out of Rankelburn, in Ettrick Forest, brought a
letter for me, which was from Randal Rutherford.

"Mess-John Urquhart writes for me, that am no clerk," said Randal,
"and, to spare his pains, as he writes for the most of us, I say no
more than this: come now, or come never, for the Maid will ride to
see Paris in three days, or four, let the King follow or not as he
will."

There was no more but a cross marked opposite the name of Randal
Rutherford, and the date of place and day, August the nineteenth, at
Compiegne.

My face fired, for I felt it, when I had read this, and I made no
more ado, but, covenanting with Thomas Scott to be with him when he
rode forth at dawn, I went home, put my harness in order, and hired
a horse from him that kept the hostelry of the "Hanging Sword,"
whither also I sent my harness, for that I would sleep there. This
was all done in the late evening, secretly, and, after supper, I
broke the matter to my master and Elliot. Her face changed to a
dead white, and she sat silent, while my master took the word,
saying, in our country speech, that "he who will to Cupar, maun to
Cupar," and therewith he turned, and walked out and about in the
garden.

We were alone, and now was the hardest of my work to do, to comfort
Elliot, when, in faith, I sorely needed comfort myself. But honour
at once and necessity called me to ride, being now fit to bear
harness, and foreseeing no other chance to gain booty, or even,
perchance, my spurs. Nor could I endure to be a malingerer. She
sat there, very white, her lip quivering, but her eyes brave and
steadfast.

I kneeled beside her, and in my hands I took her little hand, that
was cold as ice.

"It is for the Maid, and for you, Elliot," I whispered; and she only
bent her head on my shoulder, but her cold hand gripped mine firmly.

"She did say that you should come back unharmed of sword," whispered
Elliot, looking for what comfort she might. "But, O my dear! you
may be taken, and when shall I see you again? Oh! this life is the
hardest thing for women, who must sit and tremble and pray at home.
Sure no danger of war is so terrible! Ah, must you really go?"

Then she clung so closely about me, that it seemed as if I could
never escape out of her arms, and I felt as if my heart must break
in twain.

"How could I look men in the face, and how could I ever see the Maid
again, if I go not?" I said; and, loosening her grasp, she laid her
hands on my shoulders, and so gazed on me steadfastly, as if my
picture could be fixed on the tablets of her brain.

"On your chin is coming a little down, at last," she said, smiling
faintly, and then gave a sob, and her lips met mine, and our very
souls met; but, even then, we heard my master's steps hobbling to
the door, and she gave a cry, and fled to her chamber. And this was
our leave-taking--brief, but I would not have had it long.

"It is ill work parting, Heaven help us," said my master. "Faith, I
remember, as if it were to-day, how I set forth for Verneuil; a long
time I was gone, and came back a maimed man. But it is fortune of
war! The saints have you in their keeping, my son, and chiefly St.
Andrew. Come back soon, and whole, and rich, for, meseems, if I
lose one of you, I am to lose both."

Therewith he embraced me, and I set forth to the hostel where I was
to lie that night.

Now, see how far lighter is life to men than to women, for, though I
left the house with the heaviest heart of any man in Tours, often
looking back at the candleshine in my lady's casement, yet, when I
reached the "Hanging Sword," I found Thomas Scott sitting at his
wine, and my heart and courage revived within me. He lacked nothing
but one to listen, and soon was telling tales of the war, and of the
road, and of how this one had taken a rich prisoner, and that one
had got an arrow in his thigh, and of what chances there were to win
Paris by an onslaught.

"For in no other can we take it," said he, "save, indeed, by
miracle. For they are richly provisioned, and our hope is that, if
we can make a breach, there may be a stir of the common folk, who
are well weary of the English and the Burgundians."

Now, with his talk of adventures, and with high hopes, I was so
heartened up, that, to my shame, my grief fell from me, and I went
to my bed to dream of trenches and escalades, glory and gain. But
Elliot, I fear me, passed a weary night, and a sorry, whereas I had
scarce laid my head on my pillow, as it seemed, when I heard Thomas
shouting to the grooms, and clatter of our horses' hoofs in the
courtyard. So I leaped up, though it was scarce daylight, and we
rode northwards before the full coming of the dawn.

Here I must needs write of a shameful thing, which I knew not then,
or I would have ridden with a heavier heart, but I was told
concerning the matter many years after, by Messire Enguerrand de
Monstrelet, a very learned knight, and deep in the counsels of the
Duke of Burgundy.

"You were all sold," he said to me, at Dijon, in the year of our
Lord fourteen hundred and forty-seven--"you were all sold when you
marched against Paris town. For the Maid, with D'Alencon, rode from
Compiegne towards Paris, on the twenty-third of August, if I
remember well"; and here he turned about certain written parchments
that lay by him. "Yea, on the twenty-third she left Compiegne, but
on the twenty-eighth of that month the Archbishop of Reims entered
the town, and there he met the ambassadors of the Good Duke of
Burgundy. There he and they made a compact between them, binding
your King and the Duke, that their truce should last till Noel, but
that the duke might use his men in the defence of Paris against all
that might make onfall. Now, the Archbishop and the King knew well
that the Maid was, in that hour, marching on Paris. To what purpose
make a truce, and leave out of the peace the very point where war
should be? Manifestly the French King never meant to put forth the
strength of his army in helping the Maid. There was to be truce
between France and Burgundy, but none between England and the Maid."

So Messire Enguerrand told me, a learned knight and a grave, and
thus was the counsel of the saints defeated by the very King whom
they sought to aid. But of this shameful treaty we men-at-arms knew
nothing, and so hazarded our lives against loaded dice.

CHAPTER XX--CONCERNING THE MAID AND THE BIRDS

We rode northwards, first through lands that I had travelled in
before to Orleans, and so into a country then strange to me, passing
by way of Lagny, with intent to go to Senlis, where we deemed the
King lay. The whole region being near Paris, and close under the
English power, was rich and peaceful of aspect, the corn being
already reaped, and standing in sheaves about the fields, whether to
feed Englishmen or Frenchmen, none could tell. For the land was in
a kind of hush, in expectancy and fear, no man knowing how things
should fall out at Paris. Natheless the Prior of Lagny, within that
very week wherein we came, had gone to St. Denis, and yielded his
good town into the hands of the Duc d'Alencon for the King. And the
fair Duke had sent thither Messire Ambrose de Lore, a very good
knight, with Messire Jehan Foucault, and many men-at-arms.

To Messire Ambrose we were brought, that we might give and take his
news. I remember well that I dropped out of the saddle at the door
of his lodgings, and could scarce stand on my legs, so weary was I
with the long and swift riding. Never had I ridden so far, and so
fast, fresh horses standing saddled and bridled for Thomas Scott and
me at every stage, but the beast which I had hired I sent back from
the first stage to mine host of the "Hanging Sword." Not without
labour I climbed the stairs to the chamber of Messire Ambrose, who
bade us sit down, and called for wine to be given us, whereof Thomas
Scott drank well, but I dared take none, lest my legs should wholly
refuse their office.

When Thomas had told how all the country lay at the King's peace,
and how our purpose was to ride to the King at Senlis, the knight
bade us rather make what haste we might to St. Denis. "For there,
by to-morrow or next day, the King is like to be, and the assault
will be delivered on Paris, come of it what will."

With this he bade us good speed, but, to guess from his countenance,
was in no high hopes. And, at supper, whereto we had the company of
certain of his men-at-arms, I could well perceive that they were not
in the best heart. For now we heard how the Maid, being sorrowful
for the long delays, had bidden the Duc d'Alencon ride forth with
her from Compiegne "to see Paris closer than yet she had seen it."
The Duc d'Alencon, who in late days has so strangely forgotten the
loyalty of his youth, was then fain to march with her, for they two
were the closest friends that might be. Therefore they had passed
by way of Senlis, where they were joined by some force of men-at-
arms, and so, on the third day's march, they came to St. Denis,
where they were now lying. Here it is that the kings of France have
been buried for these eight hundred years, in the great Abbey.

"Nom Dieu!" said one of those who spoke with us. "You might deem
that our King is nowise pressed to see the place where his
forefathers lie. For D'Alencon is riding, now and again, to Senlis,
to rouse the King, and make him march to St. Denis, with the army,
that the assault may be given. But if they were bidding him to his
own funeral, instead of to a gentle passage of arms, he could not
make more excuses. There are skirmishes under Paris walls, and at
the gates, day by day, and the Maid rides here and there,
considering of the best place for the onslaught. But the King
tarries, and without him and the army they can venture on no great
valiance. Nevertheless, come he must, if they bring him bound in a
cart. Wherefore, if you want your part in what is toward, you do
well to make no long tarrying here."

I was of the same mind, and as the King was shortly to be looked for
at St. Denis, we rode thither early next morning, with what speed we
might. On our left, like a cloud, was the smoke of Paris, making me
understand what a great city it was, much greater than Orleans.
Before us, far away, were the tall towers of the chapel of St.
Denis, to be our guide! We heard, also, the noise of ordnance being
fired, and therefore made the greater haste, and we so rode that,
about six hours after noon, on the Eve of the Nativity of our
Blessed Lady, we reached the gates of the town. Here we found great
press of folk, men coming and going, some carrying the wounded, for
there had been a skirmish that day, at one of the Paris gates,
whence came the sound of cannon and culverins, and we had won little
advantage.

At the gates of St. Denis we asked where the quarters of the Scots
men-at-arms might be, and were told in the chapel, whither we needed
no guide. But, as we went up the street, we saw women leaning forth
from the windows, laughing with the men-at-arms, and beckoning to
them, and by the tavern doors many were sitting drinking, with girls
beside them, and others were playing dice, and many an oath we
heard, and foul words, as is customary in a camp. Verily I saw well
that this was not the army of men clean confessed and of holy life
who had followed the Maid from Blois to Orleans. In place of
priests, here were harlots, and, for hymns, ribald songs, for men
had flocked in from every quarter; soldiers of the robber companies,
Bretons, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, all talking in their own
speech, rude, foul, and disorderly. So we took our way, as best we
knight, through the press, hearing oaths enough if our horses trod
over near any man, and seeing daggers drawn.

It was a pleasure to come out on the great parvise, where the red,
white, and green of our Scots were the commonest colours, and where
the air was less foul and noisome than in the narrow wynds. High
above us the great towers of the abbey shone red and golden in the
light of the sinking sun, while beneath all was brown, dusk, and dim
with smoke. On these towers I could gladly have looked long, and
not wearied. For they are all carven with the holy company of the
martyrs and saints, like the Angels whom Jacob saw ascending by the
ladder into heaven; even so that blessed company seemed to scale
upwards from the filth of the street, and the darkness, and the din,
right on towards the golden heights of the City of God. And beneath
them lie the sacred bones of all the kings of France, from the days
of St. Dagobert even to our own time, all laid there to rest where
no man shall disturb them, till the Angels' Trumpet calls, and the
Day of Judgment is at hand. Verily it is a solemn place for a
Christian man to think on, and I was gazing thereupon, as in a
dream, when one plucked my sleeve, and turning, I saw Randal
Rutherford, all his teeth showing in a grin.

"Welcome," he cried. "You have made good speed, and the beginning
of a fray is better than the end of a feast. And, by St. Boswell,
to-morrow we shall have it, lad! The King came in to-day--late is
better than never--and to-morrow we go with the Maid, to give these
pock-puddings a taste of Scottish steel."

"And the Maid, where is she, Randal?"

"She lodges beyond the Paris gate, at the windmill, wherefrom she
drove the English some days agone."

"Wherefore not in the town?" I asked.

"Mayhap because she likes to be near her work, and would that all
were of her mind. And mayhap she loves not the sight of the wenches
whom she was wont to drive from the camp, above all now that she has
broken the Holy Sword of Fierbois, smiting a lass with the flat of
the blade."

"I like not the omen," said I.

"Freits follow them that freits fear," said Randal, in our country
speech. "And the Maid is none of these. 'Well it was,' said she,
'that I trusted not my life to a blade that breaks so easily,' and,
in the next skirmish, she took a Burgundian with her own hands, and
now wears his sword, which is a good cut and thrust piece. But
come," he cried, "if needs you must see the Maid, you have but to
walk to the Paris gate, and so to the windmill hard by. And your
horse I will stable with our own, and for quarters, we living Scots
men-at-arms fare as well as the dead kings of France, for to-night
we lie in the chapel."

I dismounted, and he gave me an embrace, and, holding me at arms'-
length, laughed -

"You never were a tall man, Norman, but you look sound, and whole,
and tough for your inches, like a Highlandman's dirk. Now be off on
your errand, and when it is done, look for me yonder at the sign of
'The Crane,'" pointing across the parvise to a tavern, "for I keep a
word to tell in your lug that few wot of, and that it will joy you
to hear. To-morrow, lad, we go in foremost."

And so, smiling, he took my horse and went his way, whistling, "Hey,
tuttie, tattie!"

Verily his was the gladdest face I had seen, and his words put some
heart into me, whereas, of the rest save our own Scots, I liked
neither what I saw, nor what I heard.

I had but to walk down the street, through elbowing throngs of
grooms, pages, men-at-arms, and archers, till I found the Paris
Gate, whence the windmill was plain to behold. It was such an old
place as we see in Northern France, plain, strong, with red walls
which the yellow mosses stain, and with high grey roofs. The Maid's
banner, with the Holy Dove, and the Sacred Name, drooped above the
gateway, and beside the door, on the mounting-stone, sat the boy,
Louis des Coutes, her page. He was a lad of fifteen years, merry
enough of his nature, and always went gaily clad, and wearing his
yellow hair long. But now he sat thoughtful on the mounting-stone,
cutting at a bit of wood with his dagger.

"So you have come to take your part," he said, when we had saluted
each the other. "Faith, I hope you bring good luck with you, and
more joy to my mistress, for we need all that you can bring."

"Why, what ails all of you?" I asked. "I have seen never a hopeful
face, save that of one of my own countrymen. You are not afraid of
a crack on your curly pate, are you?"

"Curly or not, my head knows better than to knock itself against
Paris walls. They are thick, and high, and the windows of every
house on the wall are piled with stones, to drop upon us. And I
know not well why, but things go ill with us. I never saw Her," and
he nodded towards the open gateway, "so out of comfort. When there
is fighting toward, she is like herself, and she is the first to
rise and the last to lie down. But, in all our waiting here, she
has passed many an hour praying in the chapel, where the dead kings
lie, yet her face is not glad when she comes forth. It was wont to
shine strangely, when she had been praying, at the chapel in
Couldray, while we were at Chinon. But now it is otherwise.
Moreover, we saw Paris very close to-day, and there were over many
red crosses of St. George upon the walls. And to-morrow is the
Feast of the Blessed Virgin, no day for bloodshed."

"Faint heart!" said I (and, indeed, after the assault on Paris,
Louis des Coutes went back, and rode no more with the maid). "The
better the day, the better the deed! May I go within?"

"I will go with you," he said, "for she said that you would come,
and bade me bring you to her."

We entered the gateway together, and before us lay the square of the
farm, strewn with litter, and from within the byre we heard the milk
ring in the pails, for the women were milking the cows. And there
we both stood astonished, for we saw the Maid as never yet I had
seen her. She was bareheaded, but wore the rest of her harness,
holding in her hand a measure of corn. All the fowls of the air
seemed to be about her, expecting their meat. But she was not
throwing the grain among them, for she stood as still as a graven
image, and, wonderful to tell, a dove was perched on her shoulder,
and a mavis was nestling in her breast, while many birds flew round
her, chiefly doves with burnished plumage, flitting as it were
lovingly, and softly brushing her now and again with their wings.
Many a time had I heard it said that, while she was yet a child, the
wild birds would come and nestle in the bosom of the Maid, but I had
never believed the tale. Yet now I saw this thing with mine own
eyes, a fair sight and a marvellous, so beautiful she looked, with
head unhelmeted, and the wild fowl and tame flitting about her and
above her, the doves crooning sweetly in their soft voices. Then
her lips moved, and she spoke -

"Tres doulx Dieu, en l'onneur de vostre saincte passion, je vous
requier, se vous me aimes, que vous me revelez ce que je doy faire
demain pour vostre gloire!"

So she fell silent again, and to me it seemed that I must not any
longer look upon that holy mystery, so, crossing myself, I laid my
hand on the shoulder of the page, and we went silently from the
place.

"Have you ever seen it in this manner?" I whispered, when we were
again without the farmyard.

"Never," said he, trembling, "though once I saw a stranger thing."

"And what may that have been?"

"Nay, I spoke of it to her, and she made me swear that I never would
reveal it to living soul, save in confession. But she is not as
other women."

What he had in his mind I know not, but I bade him good even, and
went back into the town, where lights were beginning to show in the
casements. In the space within the gates were many carts gathered,
full of faggots wherewith to choke up the fosse under Paris, and
tables to throw above the faggots, and so cross over to the assault.

CHAPTER XXI--HOW A HUNDRED SCOTS SET FORTH TO TAKE PARIS TOWN

Entering the tavern of "The Crane," I found the doorways crowded
with archers of our Guard, among whom was Randal Rutherford.

When I had come, they walked into a chamber on the ground floor,
calling for wine, and bidding certain French burgesses go forth, who
needed no second telling. The door was shut, two sentinels of ours
were posted outside, and then Randal very carefully sounded all the
panels of the room, looking heedfully lest there should be any hole
whereby what passed among us might be heard in another part of the
house, but he found nothing of the kind.

The room being full, some sitting and some standing, as we could,
Randal bade Father Urquhart, our chaplain, tell us to what end we
had been called together.

The good father thereupon stood up, and spoke in a low voice, but so
that all could hear, for we were all hushed to listen.

"There is," he said, "within Paris, a certain Carmelite, a
Frenchman, and a friend of Brother Richard, the Preacher, whom, as
you know, the English drove from the town."

"I saw him at Troyes," said one, "where he kneeled before the Maid,
and they seemed very loving."

"That is the man, that is Brother Richard. Now, as I was busy
tending the wounded, in the skirmish three days agone, this
Carmelite was about the same duty for those of his party. He put
into my hand a slip of paper, wherein Brother Richard commended him
to any Scot or Frenchman of the King's party, as an honest man, and
a friend of the King's. When I had read this, the Carmelite spoke
with me in Latin, and in a low voice. His matter was this: In
Paris, he said, there is a strong party of Armagnacs, who have, as
we all know, a long score to settle with them of Burgundy. They are
of the common folk and labourers, but among them are many rich
burgesses. They have banded themselves together by an oath to take
our part, within the town, if once we win a gate. Here is a cedule
signed by them with their names or marks, and this he gave me as a
proof of good faith."

Here he handed a long slip of parchment, all covered with writing,
to Randal, and it went round among us, but few there were clerks,
save myself. I looked on it, and the names, many of them attested
by seals with coat armour, were plain to be read.

"Their counsel is to muster in arms secretly, and to convey
themselves, one by one, into certain houses hard by the Port St.
Denis, where certain of their party dwell. Now, very early to-
morrow morning, before dawn, the purpose of the English is to send
forth a company of a hundred men-at-arms, who will make a sudden
onset on the windmill, where the Maid lies to-night, and so will
take her, if they may."

"By St. Bride of Douglas," said one of us, "they will get their kail
through the reek, for our guard is to lie in arms about the
windmill, and be first in the field to-morrow."

"The craft is, then," Father Urquhart went on, "that we shall
destroy this English company with sword or arrow, but with no alarm
of culverins or cannon. Meanwhile, some five score of you will put
on to-night the red cross of St. George, with plain armour, so that
the English shall mistake you for their own men returning from the
sally, and some few men in our own colours and coats you will hale
with you as prisoners. And, if one of you can but attire himself in
some gear of the Maid's, with a hucque of hers, scarlet, and dight
with the Lilies of France, the English gate-wards will open to you
all the more eagerly."

"By the bones of St. Boswell!" cried Randal in his loud voice, but
the good Father put a hand on his mouth.

"Quiet, man!" he said.

"By the blessed bones of St. Boswell," Randal said again, as near a
whisper as he could attain to, "the lady of the linen-basket shall
come as the Maid. We have no man so maidenly."

They all shouted, laughing, and beating the tables with hands and
tankards.

"Silence!" cried Robin Lindsay.

"Nay, the louder we laugh, the less will any suspect what is
forward," said Randal Rutherford.

"Norman, will you play this part in the mumming?"

I was ashamed to say no, though I liked it not over well, and I
nodded with my head.

"How maidenly he blushes!" cried one, and there was another clamour,
till the walls rang.

"So be it then," says Father Urquhart, "and now you know all. The
honest Armagnacs will rise so soon as you are well within the gate.
They command both sides of the street that leads to the Port St.
Denis, and faith, if the English want to take it, when a hundred
Scots are within, they will have to sally forth by another gate, and
come from the outside. And you are to run up the banner of Scotland
over the Port, when once you hold it, so the French attack will be
thereby."

"We played the same game before Verneuil fight, and won it," said
one; "will the English have forgotten the trick?"

"By St. Bride, when once they see us haling the Maid along, they
will forget old stratagems of war. This is a new device! Oh to see
their faces when we cry 'St. Andrew,' and set on!"

"I am not so old as you all in the wars," I began.

"No, Mademoiselle la Lavandiere, but you are of the right spirit,
with your wench's face."

"But," I said, "how if the English that are to attack the windmill
in the first grey of the morning come not to hand-strokes, or take
to their heels when they find us awake, and win back to Paris before
us? Our craft, methinks, is to hold them in an ambush, but what if
we catch them not? Let but one runaway be swift of foot, and we are
undone."

"There is this to be said," quoth Father Urquhart, "that the English
company is to sally forth by the Port St. Denis, and it is the Port
St. Denis that our Armagnacs will be guarding. Now I speak as a man
of peace, for that is my calling. But how would it be if your
hundred men and Norman set forth in the dark, and lay hid not very
far from the St. Denis Gate? Then some while after the lighting of
the bale-fires from the windmill, to be lit when the English set on,
make straight for the gate, and cry, "St. George for England!"

"If you see not the bale-fires ere daylight, you will come back with
what speed you may; but if you do see them, then--"

"Father, you have not lived long on the Highland line for nothing,"
quoth Robin Lindsay.

"A very proper stratagem indeed," I said, "but now, gentlemen, there
is one little matter; how will Sir Hugh Kennedy take this device of
ours? If we try it and fail, without his privity, we had better
never return, but die under Paris wall. And, even if we hold the
gate, and Paris town is taken, faith I would rather affront the fire
of John the Lorrainer than the face of Sir Hugh."

No man spoke, there were not two minds on this matter, so, after
some chaffer of words, it was agreed to send Father Urquhart with
Randal to show the whole scheme to Sir Hugh, while the rest of us
should await their coming back with an answer. In no long time they
were with us, the father very red and shame-faced.

"He gave the good father the rough side of his tongue," quoth
Randal, "for speaking first to me, and not to him. Happily we were
over cunning to say aught of our gathering here. But when he had
let his bile flow, he swore, and said that he could spare a hundred
dyvour loons of his command, on the cast of the dice, and, now
silence all! not a word or a cry," here he held up his hand, "we are
to take 'fortune of war'!"

Every man grinned gladly on his neighbour, in dead stillness.

"Now," said Randal, "slip out by threes and fours, quietly, and to
quarters; but you, Norman, wait with me."

CHAPTER XXII--HOW NORMAN LESLIE FARED IN PARIS TOWN

"Norman, my lad, all our fortunes are made," said Randal to me when
we were left alone. "There will be gilt spurs and gold for every
one of us, and the pick of the plunder."

"I like it not," I answered; whereon he caught me rudely by both
shoulders, looking close into my face, so that the fume of the wine
he had been drinking reached my nostrils.

"Is a Leslie turning recreant?" he asked in a low voice. "A pretty
tale to tell in the kingdom of Fife!"

I stood still, my heart very hot with anger, and said no word, while
his grip closed on me.

"Leave hold," I cried at last, and I swore an oath, may the Saints
forgive me,--"I will not go!"

He loosed his grasp on me, and struck one hand hard into the other.

"That I should see this, and have to tell it!" he said, and stepping
to the table, he drank like one thirsty, and then fell to pacing the
chamber. He seemed to be thinking slowly, as he wiped and plucked
at his beard.

"What is it that ails you?" he asked. "Look you, this onfall and
stratagem of war may not miscarry. Perdition take the fool, it is
safe!"

"Have I been seeking safety since you knew me?" I asked.

"Verily no, and therefore I wonder at you the more; but you have
been long sick, and men's minds are changeful. Consider the thing,
nom Dieu! If there be no two lights shown from the mill, we step
back silently, and all is as it was; the English have thought worse
of their night onfall, or the Carmelite's message was ruse de
guerre. But if we see the two lights, then the hundred English are
attempting the taking of the mill; the St. Denis Gate is open for
their return, and we are looked for by our Armagnacs within Paris.
We risk but a short tussle with some drowsy pock-puddings, and then
the town is ours. The Gate is as strong to hold against an enemy
from within as from without. Why, man, run to Louis de Coutes, and
beg a cast suit of the Maid's; she has plenty, for she is a woman in
this, that dearly she loves rich attire."

"Randal," I said, "I will go with you, and the gladdest lad in
France to be going, but I will go in my own proper guise as a man-
at-arms. To wear the raiment of the Blessed Maid, a man and a
sinner like me, I will in nowise consent; it is neither seemly nor
honourable. Take your own way, put me under arrest if you will, and
spoil my fortunes, and make me a man disgraced, but I will not wear
her holy raiment. It is not the deed of a gentleman, or of a
Christian."

He plucked at his beard. "I am partly with you," he said. "And yet
it were a great bourde to play off on the English, and most like to
take them and to be told of in ballad and chronicle, like one of
Wallace's onfalls. For, seeing the Pucelle, as they will deem, in
our hands, they will think all safe, and welcome us open armed. O
Norman, can we do nothing? Stop, will you wear another woman's
short kirtle over your cuisses and taslet? She shall be no saint, I
warrant you, but, for a sinner, a bonny lass and a merry. As a
gentleman I deem this fair stratagem of war. If I were your own
brother,--the Saints have his soul in their keeping,--I would still
be of this counsel. Will you, my lad?"

He looked so sad, and yet withal so comical, that I held out my hand
to him, laughing.

"Disguise me as you will," I said, "I have gone mumming as Maid
Marion before now, in the Robin Hood play, at St. Andrews"; and as I
spoke, I saw the tall thatched roofs of South Street, and the Priory
Gates open, the budding elms above the garden wall of St. Leonard's,
and all the May-day revel of a year agone pouring out into the good
town.

"You speak like yourself now, bless your beardless face! Come
forth," he said, taking a long pull at a tankard,--"that nothing
might be wasted,"--and so we went to quarters, and Randal trudged
off, soon coming back, laughing, with the red kirtle. Our men had
been very busy furbishing up the red cross of St. George on their
breasts, and stripping themselves of any sign of our own colours.
As for my busking, never had maid such rough tire-women; but by one
way or another, the apparel was accommodated, and they all said
that, at a little distance of ground, the English would be finely
fooled, and must deem that the Maid herself was being led to them
captive.

It was now in the small hours of morning, dark, save for the glimmer
of stars, here and there in a cloudy sky. Father Urquhart himself
went up to the roof of the mill, to say his orisons, having with him
certain faggots of pitch-wood, for lighting the beacon-fires if need
were; and, as it chanced, braziers to this end stood ready on the
roof, as is custom on our own Border keeps.

We Scots, a hundred in all, in English colours, with three or four
as prisoners, in our own badges, fared cautiously, and with no word
spoken, through dewy woods, or lurking along in dry ditches where
best we might, towards the St. Denis Gate of Paris. I had never
been on a night surprise or bushment before, and I marvelled how
orderly the others kept, as men used to such work, whereas I went
stumbling and blindlings. At length, within sight of the twinkling
lights of Paris, and a hundred yards or thereby off the common way,
we were halted in a little wood, and bidden to lie down; no man was
so much as to whisper. Some slept, I know, for I heard their
snoring, but for my part, I never was less in love with sleep. When
the sky first grew grey, so that we could dimly see shapes of
things, we heard a light noise of marching men on the road.

"The English!" whispered he that lay next me. "Hush!" breathed
Randal, and so the footsteps went by, none of us daring to stir, for
fear of the rustle in the leaves.

The sound soon ceased; belike they had struck off into these very
fields wherethrough we had just marched.

"Now, Robin Lindsay, climb into yonder ash-tree, and keep your eyes
on the mill and the beacon-fires," said Randal.

Robin scrambled up, not easily, because of his armour, and we
waited, as it seemed, for an endless time.

"What is that sound," whispered one, "so heavy and so hoarse?"

It was my own heart beating, as if it would burst my side, but I
said nought, and even then Robin slid from the tree, as lightly as
he might. He held up two fingers, without a word, for a sign that
the beacons were lighted, and nodded.

"Down all," whispered Randal.

"Give them time, give them time."

So there we lay, as we must, but that was the hardest part of the
waiting, and no sound but of the fowls and wild things arousing, and
the cry of sentinels from Paris walls, came to our ears.

At length Randal said, "Up all, and onwards!"

We arose, loosened our swords in their sheaths, and so crossed to
the road. We could now see Paris plainly, and were close by the
farm of the Mathurins, while beyond was the level land they call
"Les Porcherons," with slopes above it, and many trees.

"Now, Norman," said Randal, "when we come within clear sight of the
gate, two of us shall seize you by the arms as prisoner; then we all
cry 'St. George!' and set off running towards Paris. The quicker,
the less time for discovery."

So, having marched orderly and speedily, while the banks of the
roadway hid us, we set off to run, Randal and Robin gripping me when
we were full in sight of the moat, of the drawbridge (which was
down), and the gate.

Then our men all cried, "St. George for England! The witch is
taken!" And so running disorderly and fast we made for the Port,
while English men-at-arms might be plainly seen and heard, gazing,
waving their hands, and shouting from the battlements of the two
gate-towers. Down the road we ran, past certain small houses of
peasants, and past a gibbet with a marauder hanging from it, just
over the dry ditch.

Our feet, we three leading, with some twenty in a clump hard behind
us, rang loud on the drawbridge over the dry fosse. The bridge
planks quivered strangely; we were now within the gateway, when down
fell the portcullis behind us, the drawbridge, creaking, flew up, a
crowd of angry faces and red crosses were pressing on us, and a blow
fell on my salade, making me reel. I was held in strong arms,
swords shone out above me, I stumbled on a body--it was Robin
Lindsay's--I heard Randal give a curse as his blade broke on a
helmet, and cry, "I yield me, rescue or no rescue." Then burst
forth a blast of shouts, and words of command and yells, and English
curses. Cannon-shot roared overhead, and my mouth was full of
sulphur smoke and dust. They were firing on those of our men who
had not set foot on the drawbridge when it flew up. Soon the
portcullis rose again, and the bridge fell, to let in a band of
English archers, through whom our Scots were cutting their way back
towards St. Denis.

Of all this I got glimpses, rather than clear sight, as the throng
within the gateway reeled and shifted, crushing me sorely.
Presently the English from without trooped in, laughing and cursing,
welcomed by their fellows, and every man of them prying into my
face, and gibing. It had been a settled plan: we were betrayed, it
was over clear, and now a harsh voice behind making me turn, I saw
the wolf's face of Father Thomas under his hood, and his yellow
fangs.

"Ha! fair clerk, they that be no clerks themselves may yet hire
clerks to work for them. How like you my brother, the Carmelite?"

Then I knew too well how this stratagem had all been laid by that
devil, and my heart turned to water within me.

Randal was led away, but round me the crowd gathered in the open
space, for I was haled into the greater gate tower beyond the wet
fosse, and from all quarters ran soldiers, and men, women, and
children of the town to mock me.

"Behold her," cried Father Thomas, climbing on a mounting-stone, as
one who would preach to the people, while the soldiers that held me
laughed.

"Behold this wonderful wonder of all wonders, the miraculous Maid of
the Armagnacs! She boasted that, by help of the Saints, she would
be the first within the city, and lo! she is the first, but she has
come without her army. She is every way a miracle, mark you, for
she hath a down on her chin, such as no common maidens wear; and if
she would but speak a few words of counsel, methinks her tongue
would sound strangely Scottish for a Lorrainer."

"Speak, speak!" shouted the throng.

"Dogs," I cried, in French, "dogs and cowards! You shall see the
Maid closer before nightfall, and fly from her as you have fled
before."

"Said I not so?" asked Brother Thomas.

"A miracle, a miracle, the Maid hath a Scots tongue in her head."

Therewith stones began to fall, but the father, holding up his hand,
bade the multitude refrain.

"Harm her not, good brethren, for to-morrow this Maid shall be tried
by the ordeal of fire if that be the will of our governors. Then
shall we see if she can work miracles or not," and so he went on
gibing, while they grinned horribly upon me. Never saw I so many
vile faces of the basest people come together, from their filthy
dens in Paris. But as my eyes ran over them with loathing, I beheld
a face I knew; the face of that violer woman who had been in our
company before we came to Chinon, and lo! perched on her shoulder,
chained with a chain fastened round her wrist, was Elliot's
jackanapes! To see the poor beast that my lady loved in such ill
company, seemed as if it would break my heart, and my head fell on
my breast.

"Ye mark, brethren and sisters, she likes not the name of the ordeal
by fire," cried Brother Thomas, whereon I lifted my face again to
defy him, and I saw the violer woman bend her brows, and place her
finger, as it were by peradventure, on her lips; wherefore I was
silent, only gazing on that devil, but then rang out a trumpet-note,
blowing the call to arms, and from afar came an answering call, from
the quarter of St. Denis.

"Carry him, or her, or whatever the spy is, into the outer gate
tower," said a Captain; "put him in fetters and manacles; lock the
door and leave him; and then to quarters. And you, friar, hold your
gibing tongue; lad or lass, he has borne him bravely."

Six men-at-arms he chose out to do his bidding; and while the gates
were cleared of the throng, and trumpets were sounding, and church
bells were rung backwards, for an alarm, I was dragged, with many a
kick and blow, over the drawbridge, up the stairs of the tower, and
so was thrown into a strong room beneath the battlements. There
they put me in bonds, gave me of their courtesy a jug of water and a
loaf of black bread by me, and then, taking my dagger, my sword, and
all that was in my pouch, they left me with curses.

"You shall hear how the onfall goes, belike," they said, "and to-
morrow shall be your judgment."

With that the door grated and rang, the key was turned in the lock,
and their iron tread sounded on the stone stairs, going upwards.
The room was high, narrow, and lit by a barred and stanchioned
window, far above my reach, even if I had been unbound. I shame to
say it, but I rolled over on my face and wept. This was the end of
my hopes and proud heart. That they would burn me, despite their
threats I scarce believed, for I had in nowise offended Holy Church,
or in matters of the Faith, and only for such heretics, or wicked
dealers in art-magic, is lawfully ordained the death by fire. But
here was I prisoner, all that I had won at Orleans would do little
more than pay my own ransom; from the end of my risk and travail I
was now further away than ever.

So I mused, weeping for very rage, but then came a heavy rolling
sound overhead, as of moving wheeled pieces of ordnance. Thereon
(so near is Hope to us in our despair) I plucked up some heart. Ere
nightfall, Paris might be in the hands of the King, and all might be
well. The roar and rebound of cannon overhead told me that the
fighting had begun, and now I prayed with all my heart, that the
Maid, as ever, might again be victorious. So I lay there,
listening, and heard the great artillery bellow, and the roar of
guns in answer, the shouting of men, and clang of church bells. Now
and again the walls of the tower rang with the shock of a cannon-
ball, once an arrow flew through the casement and shattered itself
on the wall above my head. I scarce know why, but I dragged me to
the place where it fell, and, put the arrow-point in my bosom.
Smoke of wood and pitch darkened the light; they had come, then, to
close quarters. But once more rang the rattle of guns; the whizzing
rush of stones, the smiting with axe or sword on wooden barrier and
steel harness, the cries of war, "Mont joye St. Denis!" "St. George
for England!" and slogans too, I heard, as "Bellenden," "A Home! a
Home!" and then I knew the Scots were there, fighting in the front.
But alas, how different was the day when first I heard our own
battle-cries under Orleans walls! Then I had my life and my sword
in my hands, to spend and to strike; but now I lay a lonely
prisoner, helpless and all but hopeless; yet even so I clashed my
chains and shouted, when I heard the slogan.

Thus with noise and smoke, and trumpets blowing the charge or the
recall, and our pipes shrieking the pibroch high above the din, with
dust floating and plaster dropping from the walls of my cell till I
was wellnigh stifled, the day wore on, nor could I tell, in anywise,
how the battle went. The main onslaught, I knew, was not on the
gate behind the tower in which I lay, though that tower also was
smitten of cannon-balls.

At length, well past mid-day, as I deemed by the light, came a hush,
and then a thicker smoke, and taste of burning pitch-wood, and a
roar as if all Paris had been blown into mid-air, so that my tower
shook, while heavy beams fell crashing to earth.

Again came a hush, and then one voice, clear as a clarion call, even
the voice of the Maid, "Tirez en avant, en avant!" How my blood
thrilled at the sound of it!

It must be now, I thought, or never, but the guns only roared the
louder, the din grew fierce and fiercer, till I heard a mighty roar,
the English shouting aloud as one man for joy, for so their manner
is. Thrice they shouted, and my heart sank within me. Had they
slain the Maid? I knew not, but for torment of soul there is scarce
any greater than so to lie, bound and alone, seeing nought, but
guessing at what is befalling.

After these shouts it was easy to know that the fighting waned, and
was less fierce. The day, moreover, turned to thunder, and waxed
lowering and of a stifling heat. Yet my worst fears were ended, for
I heard, now and again, the clear voice of the Maid, bidding her men
"fight on, for all was theirs." But the voice was weaker now, and
other than it had been. So the day darkened, only once and again a
shot was fired, and in the dusk the shouts of the English told me
over clearly that for to-day our chance and hope were lost. Then
the darkness grew deeper, and a star shone through my casement, and
feet went up and down upon the stairs, but no man came near me.
Below there was some faint cackle of mirth and laughter, and at last
the silence fell.

Once more came a swift step on the stairs, as of one stumbling up in
haste. The key rattled in the wards, a yellow light shone in, a
man-at-arms entered; he held a torch to my face, looked to my bonds,
and then gave me a kick, while one cried from below, "Come on,
Dickon, your meat is cooling!" So he turned and went out, the door
clanging behind him, and the key rattling in the wards.

In pain and fierce wrath I gnawed my black bread, drank some of the
water, and at last I bethought me of that which should have been
first in the thoughts of a Christian man, and I prayed.

Remembering the story of Michael Hamilton, which I have already
told, and other noble and virtuous miracles of Madame St. Catherine
of Fierbois, I commanded me to her, that, by God's grace, she would
be pleased to release me from bonds and prison. And I promised
that, if she would so favour me, I would go on pilgrimage to her
chapel of Fierbois. I looked that my chains should now fall from my
limbs, but, finding no such matter, and being very weary (for all
the last night I had slept none), I fell on slumber and forgot my
sorrow.

Belike I had not lain long in that blessed land where trouble seldom
comes when I was wakened, as it were, by a tugging at my clothes. I
sat up, but the room was dark, save for a faint light in the
casement, high overhead, and I thought I had dreamed. Howbeit, as I
lay down again, heavy at heart, my clothes were again twitched, and
now I remembered what I had heard, but never believed, concerning
"lutins" or "brownies," as we call them, which, being spirits
invisible, and reckoned to have no part in our salvation, are wont
in certain houses to sport with men. Curious rather than
affrighted, I sat up once more, and looked around, when I saw two
bright spots of light in the dark. Then deeming that, for some
reason unknown to me, the prison door had been opened while I slept,
and a cat let in, I stretched out my hands towards the lights,
thence came a sharp, faint cry, and something soft and furry leaped
on to my breast, stroking me with little hands.

It was Elliot's jackanapes, very meagre, as I could feel, and all
his ribs standing out, but he made much of me, fondling me after his
manner; and indeed, for my lady's sake, I kissed him, wondering much
how he came there. Then he put something into my hands, almost as
if he had been a Christian, for it was a wise beast and a kind.
Even then there shone into my memory the thought of how my lady had
prayed for her little friend when he was stolen (which I had thought
strange, and scarcely warranted by our Faith), and with that, hope
wakened within me. My eyes being now more accustomed to the
darkness, I saw that the thing which the jackanapes gave me was a
little wallet, for he had been taught to fetch and carry, and never
was such a marvel at climbing. But as I was caressing him, I found
a string about his neck, to which there seemed to be no end. Now,
at length, I comprehended what was toward, and pulling gently at the
string, I found, after some time, that it was attached to something
heavy, on the outside of the casement. Therefore I set about
drawing in string from above, and more string, and more, and then
appeared a knot and a splice, and the end of a thick rope. So I
drew and drew, till it stopped, and I could see a stout bar across
the stanchions of the casement. Thereon I ceased drawing, and
opening the little wallet, I found two files, one very fine, the
other of sturdier fashion.

Verily then I blessed the violer woman, who at great peril of her
own life, and by such witty device as doubtless Madame St. Catherine
put into her heart, had sent the jackanapes up from below, and put
me in the way of safety. I wasted no time, but began filing, not at
the thick circlet on my wrist, but at a link of the chain whereto it
was made fast. And such was the temper of the file, that soon I got
the stouter weapon into the cut, and snapped the link; and so with
the others, working long hours, and often looking fearfully for the
first glimmer of dawn. This had not come in, when I was now free of
bonds, but there was yet the casement to be scaled. With all my
strength I dragged and jerked at the rope, whereby I meant to climb,
lest the stanchions should be rusted through, and unable to bear my
weight, but they stood the strain bravely. Then I cast off my
woman's kirtle, and took from my pouch the arrow-point, and
therewith scratched hastily on the plastered wall, in great letters:
"Norman Leslie of Pitcullo leaves his malison on the English."

Next I bound the jackanapes within the bosom of my doublet, with a
piece of the cord whereto the rope had been knotted, for I could not
leave the little beast to die the death of a traitor, and bring
suspicion, moreover, on the poor violer woman. Then, commanding
myself to the Saints, and especially thanking Madame St. Catherine,
I began to climb, hauling myself up by the rope, whereon I had made
knots to this end; nor was the climbing more difficult than to scale
a branchless beech trunk for a bird's nest, which, like other boys,
I had often done. So behold me, at last, with my legs hanging in
free air, seated on the sill of the casement. Happily, of the three
iron stanchions, though together they bore my weight, one was loose
in the lower socket, for lack of lead, and this one I displaced
easily enough, and so passed through. Then I put the wooden bar at
the rope's end, within the room, behind the two other stanchions,
considering that they, by themselves, would bear my weight, but if
not, rather choosing to trust my soul to the Saints than my body to
the English.

The deep below me was very terrible to look upon, and the casement
being above the dry ditch, I had no water to break my fall, if fall
I must. Howbeit, I hardened my heart, and turning my face to the
wall, holding first the wooden bar, and then shifting my grasp to
the rope, I let myself down, clinging to the rope with my legs, and
at first not a little helped by the knots I had made to climb to the
casement. When I had passed these, methought my hands were on fire;
nevertheless, I slid down slowly and with caution, till my feet
touched ground.

I was now in the dry ditch, above my head creaked and swung the dead
body of the hanged marauder, but he did no whit affray me. I ran,
stooping, along the bed of the dry ditch, for many yards, stumbling
over the bodies of men slain in yesterday's fight, and then,
creeping out, I found a hollow way between two slopes, and thence
crawled into a wood, where I lay some little space hidden by the
boughs. The smell of trees and grass and the keen air were like
wine to me; I cooled my bleeding hands in the deep dew; and
presently, in the dawn, I was stealing towards St. Denis, taking
such cover of ditches and hedges as we had sought in our unhappy
march of yesterday. And I so sped, by favour of the Saints, that I
fell in with no marauders; but reaching the windmill right early, at
first trumpet-call, I was hailed by our sentinels for the only man
that had won in and out of Paris, and had carried off, moreover, a
prisoner, the jackanapes. To see me, scarred, with manacles on my
wrists and gyves on my ankles, weaponless, with an ape on my
shoulder, was such a sight as the Scots Guard had never beheld
before, and carrying me to the smith's, they first knocked off my
irons, and gave me wine, ere they either asked me for my tale, or
told me their own, which was a heartbreak to bear.

For no man could unfold the manner of that which had come to pass,
if, at least, there were not strong treason at the root of all. For
our part of the onfall, the English had made but a feigned attack on
the mill, wherefore the bale-fires were lit, to our undoing. This
was the ruse de guerre of the accursed cordelier, Brother Thomas.
For the rest, the Maid had led on a band to attack the gate St.
Honore, with Gaucourt in her company, a knight that had no great
love either of her or of a desperate onslaught. But D'Alencon, whom
she loved as a brother, was commanded to take another band, and wait
behind a butte or knowe, out of danger of arrow-shot. The Maid had
stormed all day at her gate, had taken the boulevard without, and
burst open and burned the outer port, and crossed the dry ditch.
But when she had led up her men, now few, over the slope and to the
edge of the wet fosse, behold no faggots and bundles of wood were
brought up, whereby, as is manner of war, to fill up the fosse, and
so cross over. As she then stood under the wall, shouting for
faggots and scaling-ladders, her standard-bearer was shot to death,
and she was sorely wounded by an arbalest bolt. Natheless she lay
by the wall, still crying on her men, but nought was ready that
should have been, many were slain by shafts and cannon-shot, and in
the dusk, she weeping and crying still that the place was theirs to
take, D'Alencon carried her off by main force, set her on her horse,
and so brought her back to St. Denis.

Now, my mind was, and is to this day, that there was treason here,
and a black stain on the chivalry of France, to let a girl go so
far, and not to follow her. But of us Scots many were slain, and
more wounded, while Robin Lindsay died in Paris gate, and Randal
Rutherford lay a prisoner in English hands.

CHAPTER XXIII--HOW ELLIOT'S JACKANAPES CAME HOME

Of our Blessed Lord Himself it is said in the Gospel of St. Matthew,
"et non fecit ibi virtutes multas propter incredulitatem illorum."
These words I willingly leave in the Roman tongue; for by the wisdom
of Holy Church it is deemed that many mysteries should not be
published abroad in the vulgar speech, lest the unlearned hear to
their own confusion. But if even He, doubtless by the wisdom of His
own will, did not many great works "propter incredulitatem," it is
the less to be marvelled at that His Saints, through the person of
the Blessed Maid, were of no avail where men utterly disbelieved.
And that, where infidelity was, even she must labour in vain was
shown anon, even on this very day of my escape out of Paris town.
For I had scarce taken some food, and washed and armed myself, when
the Maid's trumpets sounded, and she herself, armed and on
horseback, despite her wound, rode into St. Denis, to devise with
the gentle Duc d'Alencon. Together they came forth from the gate,
and I, being in their company, heard her cry -

"By my baton, I will never go back till I take that city." {31}

These words Percival de Cagny also heard, a good knight, and maitre
d'hotel of the house of Alencon. Thereon arose some dispute,
D'Alencon being eager, as indeed he always was, to follow where the
Maiden led, and some others holding back.

Now, as they were devising together, some for, some against, for
men-at-arms not a few had fallen in the onfall, there came the sound
of horses' hoofs, and lo! Messire de Montmorency, who had been of
the party of the English, and with them in Paris, rode up, leading a
company of fifty or sixty gentlemen of his house, to join the Maid.
Thereat was great joy and new courage in all men of goodwill, seeing
that, within Paris itself, so many gentlemen deemed ours the better
cause and the more hopeful.

Thus there was an end of all dispute, our companies were fairly
arrayed, and we were marching to revenge ourselves for the losses of
yesterday, when two knights came spurring after us from St. Denis.
They were the Duc de Bar, and that unhappy Charles de Bourbon, Comte
de Clermont, by whose folly, or illwill, or cowardice, the Scots
were betrayed and deserted at the Battle of the Herrings, where my
own brother fell, as I have already told. This second time Charles
de Bourbon brought evil fortune, for he came on the King's part,
straitly forbidding D'Alencon and the Maid to march forward another
lance's length. Whereat D'Alencon swore profane, and the Maiden,
weeping, rebuked him. So, with heavy hearts, we turned, all the
host of us, and went back to quarters, the Maid to pray in the
chapel, and the men-at-arms to drink and speak ill of the King.

All this was on the ninth of September, a weary day to all of us,
though in the evening word came that we were to march early next
morning and attack Paris in another quarter, crossing the river by a
bridge of boats which the Duc d'Alencon had let build to that end.
After two wakeful nights I was well weary, and early laid me down to
sleep, rising at dawn with high hopes. And so through the grey
light we marched silently to the place appointed, but bridge there
was none; for the King, having heard of the Maid's intent, had
caused men to work all night long, destroying that which the gentle
Duke had builded. Had the King but heard the shouts and curses of
our company when they found nought but the bare piles standing, the
grey water flowing, and the boats and planks vanished, he might have
taken shame to himself of his lack of faith. Therefore I say it
boldly, it was because of men's unbelief that the Maid at Paris
wrought no great works, save that she put her body in such hazard of
war as never did woman, nay, nor man, since the making of the world.

I have no heart to speak more of this shameful matter, nor of these
days of anger and blasphemy. It was said and believed that her
voices bade the Maid abide at St. Denis till she should take Paris
town, but the King, and Charles de Bourbon, and the Archbishop of
Reims refused to hearken to her. On the thirteenth day of
September, after dinner, the King, with all his counsellors, rode
away from St. Denis, towards Gien on the Loire. The Maiden, for her
part, hung up all her harness that she had worn, save the sword of
St. Catherine of Fierbois, in front of the altar of Our Lady, and
the blessed relics of St. Denis in the chapel. Thereafter she rode,
as needs she must, and we of her company with her, to join the King,
for so he commanded.

And now was the will of the Maid and of the Duc d'Alencon broken,
and broken was all that great army, whereof some were free lances
out of many lands, but more were nobles of France with their men,
who had served without price or pay, for love of France and of the
Maid. Never again were they mustered; nay when, after some weeks
passed, the gentle Duc d'Alencon prayed that he might have the
Maiden with him, and burst into Normandy, where the English were
strongest, by the Marches of Maine, even this grace was refused to
him, by the malengin and ill-will of La Tremouille and the
Archbishop of Reims. And these two fair friends met never more
again, neither at fray nor feast. May she, among the Saints, so
work by her prayers that the late sin and treason of the gentle Duke
may be washed out and made clean, for while she lived there was no
man more dear to her, nor any that followed her more stoutly in
every onfall.

Now concerning the times that came after this shameful treason at
Paris, I have no joy to write. The King's counsellors, as their
manner was, ever hankered after a peace with Burgundy, and they
stretched the false truce that was to have ended at Christmas to
Easter Day, "pacem clamantes quo non fuit pax." For there was no
truce with the English, who took St. Denis again, and made booty of
the arms which the Maid had dedicated to Our Lady. On our part La
Hire and Xaintrailles plundered, for their own hand, the lands of
the Duke of Burgundy, and indeed on every side there was no fair
fighting, such as the Maid loved, but a war of wastry, the peasants
pillaged, and the poor held to ransom. For her part, she spent her
days in prayer for the poor and the oppressed, whom she had come to
deliver, and who now were in worse case than before, the English
harrying certain of the good towns that had yielded to King Charles.

Now her voices ever bade the Maid go back to the Isle of France, and
assail Paris, where lay no English garrison, and the Armagnacs were
stirring as much as they might. But Paris, being at this time under
the government of the Duke of Burgundy, was forsooth within the
truce. The King's counsellors, therefore, setting their wisdom
against that of the Saints, bade the Maid go against the towns of
St. Pierre le Moustier and La Charite, then held by the English on
the Loire. This was in November, when days were short, and the
weather bitter cold. The Council was held at Mehun sur Yevre, and
forthwith the Maid, glad to be doing, rode to Bourges, where she
mustered her men, and so marched to St. Pierre le Moustier, a small
town, but a strong, with fosses, towers, and high walls.

There we lay some two days or three, plying the town with our
artillery, and freezing in the winter nights. At length, having
made somewhat of a breach, the Maid gave the word for the assault,
and herself leading, with her banner in hand, we went at it with
what force we might. But twice and thrice we were driven back from
the fosse, and to be plain, our men were fled under cover, and only
the Maid stood within arrow-shot of the wall, with a few of her
household, of whom I was one, for I could not go back while she held
her ground. The arrows and bolts from the town rained and whistled
about us, and in faith I wished myself other where. Yet she stood,
waving her banner, and crying, "Tirez en avant, ils sont e nous," as
was her way in every onfall. Seeing her thus in jeopardy, her
maitre d'hotel, D'Aulon, though himself wounded in the heel so that
he might not set foot to ground, mounted a horse, and riding up,
asked her "why she abode there alone, and did not give ground like
the others?"

At this the Maid lifted her helmet from her head, and so, uncovered,
her face like marble for whiteness, and her eyes shining like steel,
made answer -

"I am not alone; with me there are of mine fifty thousand! Hence I
will not give back one step till I have taken the town."

Then I wotted well that, sinful man as I am, I was in the company of
the hosts of Heaven, though I saw them not. Great heart this
knowledge gave me and others, and the Maid crying, in a loud voice,
"Aux fagots, tout le monde!" the very runaways heard her and came
back with planks and faggots, and so, filling up the fosse and
passing over, we ran into the breach, smiting and slaying, and the
town was taken.

For my own part, I was so favoured that two knights yielded them my
prisoners (I being the only man of gentle birth among those who
beset them in a narrow wynd), and with their ransoms I deemed myself
wealthy enough, as well I might. So now I could look to win my
heart's desire, if no ill fortune befell. But little good fortune
came in our way. From La Charite, which was beset in the last days
of November, we had perforce to give back, for the King sent us no

Book of the day: