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

A Monk of Fife by Andrew Lang

Part 5 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.

munitions of war, and for lack of more powder and ball we might not
make any breach in the walls of that town. And so, by reason of the
hard winter, and the slackness of the King, and the false truce, we
fought no more, at that season, but went, trailing after the Court,
from castle to castle.

Many feasts were held, and much honour was done to the Maid, as by
gifts of coat armour, and the ennobling of all her kith and kin, but
these things she regarded not, nor did she ever bear on her shield
the sword supporting the crown, between the lilies of France.

If these were ill days for the Maid, I shame to confess that they
were merry days with me. There are worse places than a king's
court, when a man is young, and light of heart, full of hope, and
with money in his purse. I looked that we should take the field
again in the spring; and having gained some gold, and even some good
words, as one not backward where sword-strokes were going, I know
not what dreams I had of high renown, ay, and the Constable's staff
to end withal. For many a poor Scot has come to great place in
France and Germany, who began with no better fortune than a mind to
put his body in peril. Moreover, the winning of Elliot herself for
my wife seemed now a thing almost within my reach. Therefore, as I
say, I kept a merry Yule at Jargeau, going bravely clad, and dancing
all night long with the merriest. Only the wan face of the Maid
(that in time of war had been so gallant and glad) came between me
and my pleasures. Not that she was wilfully and wantonly sad, yet
now and again we could mark in her face the great and loving pity
that possessed her for France. Now I would be half angered with
her, but again far more wroth with myself, who could thus lightly
think of that passion of hers. But when she might she was ever at
her prayers, or in company of children, or seeking out such as were
poor and needy, to whom she was abundantly lavish of her gifts, so
that, wheresoever the Court went, the people blessed her.

In these months I had tidings of Elliot now and again; and as
occasion served I wrote to her, with messages of my love, and with a
gift, as of a ring or a jewel. But concerning the manner of my
escape from Paris I had told Elliot nothing for this cause. My
desire was, when soonest I had an occasion, to surprise her with the
gift of her jackanapes anew, knowing well that nothing could make
her greater joy, save my own coming, or a victory of the Maid. The
little creature had been my comrade wheresoever we went, as at
Sully, Gien, and Bourges, only I took him not to the leaguers of St.
Pierre le Moustier and La Charite, but left him with a fair lady of
the Court. He had waxed fat again, for as meagre as he was when he
came to me in prison, and he was full of new tricks, warming himself
at the great fire in hall, like a man.

Now in the middle of the month of January, in the year of Grace
fourteen hundred and thirty, the Maid told us of her household that
she would journey to Orleans, to abide for some space with certain
ladies of her friends, namely, Madame de St. Mesmin and Madame de
Mouchy, who loved her dearly. To the most of us she gave holiday,
to see our own friends. The Maid knew surely that in France my
friends were few, and well she guessed whither I was bound.
Therefore she sent for me, and bidding me carry her love to Elliot,
she put into my hands a gift to her friend. It was a ring of
silver-gilt, fashioned like that which her own father and mother had
given her. At this ring she had a custom of looking often, so that
the English conceived it to be an unholy talisman, though it bore
the Name that is above all names. That ring I now wear in my bosom.
So, saying farewell, with many kind words on her part, I rode
towards Tours, where Elliot and her father as then dwelt, in that
same house where I had been with them to be healed of my malady,
after the leaguer of Orleans. To Tours I rode, telling them not of
my coming, and carrying the jackanapes well wrapped up in furs of
the best. The weather was frosty, and folk were sliding on the ice
of the flooded fields near Tours when I came within sight of the
great Minster. The roads rang hard; on the smooth ice the low sun
was making paths of gold, and I sang as I rode. Putting up my horse
at the sign of the "Hanging Sword," I took the ape under my great
furred surcoat, and stole like a thief through the alleys, towards
my master's house. The night was falling, and all the casement of
the great chamber was glowing with the colour and light of a leaping
fire within. There came a sound of music too, as one touched the
virginals to a tune of my own country. My heart was beating for
joy, as it had beaten in the bushment outside Paris town.

I opened the outer door secretly, for I knew the trick of it, and I
saw from the thin thread of light on the wall of the passage that
the chamber door was a little ajar. The jackanapes was now fretting
and struggling within my surcoat, so, opening the coat, I put him
down by the chamber door. He gave a little scratch, as was his
custom, for he was a very mannerly little beast, and the sound of
the virginals ceased. Then, pushing the door with his little hands,
he ran in, with a kind of cry of joy.

"In Our Lady's name, what is this?" came the voice of Elliot. "My
dear, dear little friend, what make you here?"

Then I could withhold myself no longer, but entered, and my lady ran
to me, the jackanapes clinging about her neck with his arms. But
mine were round her too, and what words we said, and what cheer we
made each the other, I may not write, commending me to all true
lovers, whose hearts shall tell them that whereof I am silent. Much
was I rebuked for that I did not write to warn them of my coming,
which was yet the more joyful that they were not warned. And then
the good woman, Elliot's kinswoman, must be called (though in sooth
not at the very first), and then a great fire must be lit in my old
chamber; and next my master came in, from a tavern where he had been
devising with some Scots of his friends; and all the while the
jackanapes kept such a merry coil, and played so many of his tricks,
and got so many kisses from his mistress, that it was marvel. But
of all that had befallen me in the wars, and of how the Maiden did
(concerning which Elliot had questioned me first of all), I would
tell them little till supper was brought.

And then, indeed, out came all my tale, and they heard of what had
been my fortune in Paris, and how the jackanapes had delivered me
from durance, whereon never, surely, was any beast of his kind so
caressed since our father Adam gave all the creatures their names.
But as touching the Maid, I told how she had borne herself at St.
Pierre le Moustier, and of all the honours that had been granted to
her, and I bade them be of good heart and hope, for that her banner
would be on the wind in spring, after Easter Day. All the good news
that might be truly told I did tell, as how La Hire had taken
Louviers town, and harried the English up to the very gates of
Rouen. And I gave to Elliot the ring which the Maid had sent to
her, fashioned like that she herself wore, but of silver gilt,
whereas the Maid's was of base metal, and it bore the Holy Names
MARI. IHS. Thereon Elliot kissed it humbly, and avowed herself to
be, that night, the gladdest damsel in all France.

"For I have gotten you, mon ami, and my little friend that I had
lost, beyond all hope, and I have a kind word and a token from Her,
la fille de Dieu," whereat her speech faltered, and her eyes swam in
tears. But some trick of her jackanapes brought back her mirth, and
so the hours passed, as happy as any in my life. Truly the memory
of these things tells me how glad this world might be, wherein God
has placed us, were it not troubled by the inordinate desires of
men. In my master's house of Tours, then, my days of holiday went
merrily by, save for one matter, and that of the utmost moment. For
my master would in no manner permit me to wed his daughter while
this war endured; and Elliot herself, blushing like any rose, told
me that, while the Maid had need of me, with the Maid I must abide
at my duty, and that she herself had no mind for happiness while her
friend was yet labouring in the cause of France. Howbeit, I
delivered me of my vow, by pilgrimage to the chapel in Fierbois.
{32}

CHAPTER XXIV--HOW THE MAID HEARD ILL TIDINGS FROM HER VOICES, AND OF
THE SILENCE OF THE BIRDS

Eastertide came at last, and that early, Easter Day falling on March
the twenty-seventh. Our King kept his Paques at Sully with great
festival, but his deadly foe, the Duke of Burgundy, lay at the town
of Peronne. So soon as Eastertide was over, the Duke drew all the
force he had to Montdidier, a town which lies some eight leagues to
the north and west of Compiegne. Hence he so wrought that he made a
pact with the captain of the French in Gournay, a town some four
leagues north and west of Compiegne, whereby the garrison there
promised to lie idle, and make no onslaught against them of
Burgundy, unless the King brought them a rescue. Therefore the Duke
went back to Noyon on the Oise, some eight leagues north and east of
Compiegne, while his captain, Jean de Luxembourg, led half his army
west, towards Beauvais. There he took the castle of Provenlieu, an
old castle, and ruinous, that the English had repaired and held.
And there he hanged certain English, who were used to pillage all
the country about Montdidier. Thence Jean de Luxembourg came back
to the Duke, at Noyon, and took and razed Choisy, which was held for
France.

Now all these marchings, and takings of towns, were designed to one
end, namely, that the Duke might have free passage over the river
Oise, so that his men and his victual might safely come and go from
the east. For, manifestly, it was his purpose to besiege and take
the good town of Compiegne, which lies on the river Oise some
fifteen leagues north and east of Paris. This town had come in, and
yielded to the Maid, some weeks before the onfall of Paris, and it
was especially dear to her, for the people had sworn that they would
all die, and see their wives and children dead, rather than yield to
England or Burgundy. Moreover, whosoever held Compiegne was like,
in no long time, to be master of Paris. But as now Guillaume de
Flavy commanded in Compiegne for the King, a very good knight and
skilled captain, but a man who robbed and ravished wheresoever he
had power. His brother, Louis de Flavy, also joined him after
Choisy fell, as I have told.

All this I have written that men may clearly know how the Maid came
by her end. For, so soon as Eastertide was over, and the truce
ended, she made no tarrying, nor even said farewell to the King, who
might have held her back, but drew out all her company, and rode
northward, whither she knew that battle was to be. Her mind was to
take some strong place on the Oise, as Pont l'Eveque, near Noyon,
that she might cut off them of Burgundy from all the country
eastward of Oise, and so put them out of the power to besiege
Compiegne, and might destroy all their host at Montdidier and in the
Beauvais country. For the Maid was not only the first of captains
in leading a desperate onslaught, but also (by miracle, for
otherwise it might not be) she best knew how to devise deep schemes
and subtle stratagem of war.

Setting forth, therefore, early in April, on the fifteenth day of
the month she came to Melun, a town some seven leagues south of
Paris, that had lately yielded to the King. Bidding me walk with
her, she went afoot about the walls, considering what they lacked of
strength, and how they might best be repaired, and bidding me write
down all in a little book. Now we two, and no other, were walking
by the dry fosse of Melun, the day being very fair and warm for that
season, the flowers blossoming, and the birds singing so sweet and
loud as never I heard them before or since that day.

The Maid stood still to listen, holding up her hand to me for
silence, when, lo! in one moment, in the midst of merry music, the
birds hushed suddenly.

As I marvelled, for there was not a cloud in the sky, nor a breath
of cold wind, I beheld the Maid standing as I had seen her stand in
the farmyard of the mill by St. Denis. Her head was bare, and her
face was white as snow. So she stood while one might count a
hundred, and if ever any could say that he had seen the Maid under
fear, it was now. As I watched and wondered, she fell on her knees,
like one in prayer, and with her eyes set and straining, and with
clasped hands, she said these words--"Tell me of that day, and that
hour, or grant me, of your grace, that in the same hour I may die."

Then she was silent for short space, and then, having drawn herself
upon her knees for three paces or four, she very reverently bowed
down, and kissed the ground.

Thereafter she arose, and beholding me wan, I doubt not, she gently
laid her hand upon my shoulder, and, smiling most sweetly, she said
-

"I know not what thou hast seen or heard, but promise, on thine
honour, that thou wilt speak no word to any man, save in confession
only, while I bear arms for France."

Then humbly, and with tears, I vowed as she had bidden me, whereto
she only said -

"Come, we loiter, and I have much to do, for the day is short."

But whether the birds sang again, or stinted, I know not, for I
marked it not.

But she set herself, as before, to consider the walls and the
fosses, bidding me write down in my little book what things were
needful. Nor was her countenance altered in any fashion, nor was
her wit less clear; but when we had seen all that was to be looked
to, she bade me call the chief men of the town to her house, after
vespers, and herself went into the Church of St. Michael to pray.

Though I pondered much on this strange matter, which I laid up in my
heart, I never knew what, belike, the import was, till nigh a year
thereafter, at Rouen.

But there one told me how the Maid, before her judges, had said
that, at Melun, by the fosse, her Saints had told her how she should
be made prisoner before the feast of St. John. And she had prayed
them to warn her of that hour, or in that hour might she die, but
they bade her endure all things patiently, and with a willing mind.
At that coming, then, of the Saints, I was present, though, being a
sinful man, I knew not that the Holy Ones were there. But the birds
knew, and stinted in their singing.

Now that the Maid, knowing by inspiration her hour to be even at the
doors, and wotting well what the end of her captivity was like to
be, yet had the heart to put herself in jeopardy day by day, this I
deem the most valiant deed ever done by man or woman since the
making of the world. For scarce even Wallace wight would have stood
to his standard had he known, by teaching of them who cannot lie,
what end awaited him beyond all hope. Nay, he would have betaken
him to France, as once he did in time of less danger.

Now, I pray you, consider who she was that showed this courage and
high heart. She was but the daughter of a manant, a girl of
eighteen years of age. Remember, then, what manner of creature such
a girl is of her nature; how weak and fearful; how she is
discomfited and abashed by the company of even one gentleman or lady
of noble birth; how ignorant she is of war; how fond to sport and
play with wenches of her own degree; how easily set on fire of love;
and how eager to be in the society of young men amorous. Pondering
all these things in your hearts, judge ye whether this Maid, the
bravest leader in breach, the wisest captain, having foreknowledge
of things hidden and of things to come, the most courteous lady who
ever with knights sat in hall, not knowing carnal love, nor bodily
fear, was aught but a thing miraculous, and a sister of the Saints.

CHAPTER XXV--OF THE ONFALL AT PONT L'EVEQUE, AND HOW NORMAN LESLIE
WAS HURT

I have now shown wherefore the fighting, in this spring, was to be
up and down the water of Oise, whence the villagers had withdrawn
themselves, of necessity, into the good towns. For the desire of
the Duke of Burgundy was to hold the Oise, and so take Compiegne,
the better to hold Paris. And on our side the skill was to cut his
army in two, so that from east of the water of Oise neither men nor
victual might come to him.

Having this subtle device of war in her mind, the Maid rode north
from Melun, by the King's good towns, till she came to Compiegne,
that was not yet beleaguered. There they did her all the honour
that might be, and thither came to her standard Messire Jacques de
Chabennes, Messire Rigault de Fontaines, Messire Poton de
Xaintrailles, the best knight then on ground, and many other
gentlemen, some four hundred lances in all. {33} With these lances
the Maid consorted to attack Pont l'Eveque by a night onfall. This
is a small but very strong hold, on the Oise, some six leagues from
Compiegne, as you go up the river, and it lies near the town of
Noyon, which was held by the English. In Pont l'Eveque there was a
garrison of a hundred lances of the English, and our skill was to
break on them in the grey of dawn, when men least fear a surprise,
and are most easily taken. By this very device La Hire had seized
Compiegne but six years agone, wherefore our hope was the higher.
About five of the clock on an April day we rode out of Compiegne, a
great company,--too great, perchance, for that we had to do. For
our army was nigh a league in length as it went on the way, nor
could we move swiftly, for there were waggons with us and carts,
drawing guns and couleuvrines and powder, fascines wherewith to fill
the fosses, and ladders and double ladders for scaling the walls.
So the captains ordered it to be, for ever since that day by Melun
fosse, when the Saints foretold her captivity, the Maid submitted
herself in all things to the captains, which was never her manner
before.

As we rode slowly, she was now at the head of the line, now in the
midst, now at the rear, wherever was need; and as I rode at her
rein, I took heart to say -

"Madame, it is not thus that we have taken great keeps and holds, in
my country, from our enemies of England."

"Nay," said she, checking her horse to a walk, and smiling on me in
the dusk with her kind eyes. "Then tell me how you order it in your
country."

"Madame," I said, "it was with a little force, and lightly moving,
that Messire Thomas Randolph scaled the Castle rock and took
Edinburgh Castle out of the hands of the English, a keep so strong,
and set on a cliff so perilous, that no man might deem to win it by
sudden onfall. And in like manner the good Messire James Douglas
took his own castle, more than once or twice, by crafty stratagem of
war, so that the English named it Castle Perilous. But in every
such onfall few men fought for us, of such as could move secretly
and swiftly, not with long trains of waggons that cover a league of
road, and by their noise and number give warning to an enemy."

"My mind is yours," she said, with a sigh, "and so I would have made
this onslaught. But I submitted me to the will of the captains."

Through the night we pushed our way slowly, for in such a march none
may go swifter than the slowest, namely, the carts and the waggons.
Thus it befell that the Maid and the captains were in more thoughts
than one to draw back to Compiegne, for the night was clear, and the
dawn would be bright. And, indeed, after stumbling and wandering
long, and doubting of the way, we did, at last, see the church
towers and walls of Pont l'Eveque stand out against the clear sky of
morning, a light mist girdling the basement of the walls. Had we
been a smaller and swifter company, we should have arrived an hour
before the first greyness shows the shapes of things. But now,
alas! we no sooner saw the town than we heard the bells and trumpets
calling the townsfolk and men-at-arms to be on their ward. The
great guns of the keep roared at us so soon as we were in reach of
shot; nevertheless, Pothon and the Maid set companies to carry the
double ladders, for the walls were high, and others were told off to
bring up the fascines, and so, leaving our main battle to wait out
of shot, and come on as they were needed, the Maid and Pothon ran up
the first rampart, she waving her standard and crying that all was
ours. As we ran, for I must needs be by her side, the din of bells
and guns was worse than I had heard at Orleans, and on the top of
the church towers were men-at-arms waving flags, as if for a signal.
Howbeit, we sprang into the fosse, under shield, wary of stones cast
from above, and presently three ladders were set against the wall,
and we went up, the Maid leading the way.

Now of what befell I know but little, save that I had so climbed
that I looked down over the wall, when the ladder whereon I stood
was wholly overthrown by two great English knights, and one of them,
by his coat armour, was Messire de Montgomery himself, who commanded
in Pont l'Eveque. Of all that came after I remember no more than a
flight through air, and the dead stroke of a fall on earth with a
stone above me. For such is the fortune of war, whereof a man knows
but his own share for the most part, and even that dimly. The eyes
are often blinded with swift running to be at the wall, and, what
with a helm that rings to sword-blows, and what with smoke, and
dust, and crying, and clamour, and roar of guns, it is but little
that many a man-at-arms can tell concerning the frays wherein, may
be, he has borne himself not unmanly.

This was my lot at Pont l'Eveque, and I knew but little of what
passed till I found myself in very great anguish. For I had been
laid in one of the carts, and so was borne along the way we had
come, and at every turn of the wheels a new pang ran through me.
For my life I could not choose but groan, as others groaned that
were in the same cart with me. For my right leg was broken, also my
right arm, and my head was stounding as if it would burst. It was
late and nigh sunset or ever we won the gates of Compiegne, having
lost, indeed, but thirty men slain, but having wholly failed in our
onfall. For I heard in the monastery whither I was borne that, when
the Maid and Xaintrailles and their men had won their way within the
walls, and had slain certain of the English, and were pushing the
others hard, behold our main battle was fallen upon in the rear by
the English from Noyon, some two miles distant from Pont l'Eveque.
Therefore there was no help for it but retreat we must, driving back
the English to Noyon, while our wounded and all our munitions of war
were carried orderly away.

As to the pains I bore in that monastery of the Jacobins, when my
broken bones were set by a very good surgeon, there is no need that
I should write. My fortune in war was like that of most men-at-
arms, or better than that of many who are slain outright in their
first skirmish. Some good fortune I had, as at St. Pierre, and
again, bad fortune, of which this was the worst, that I could not be
with the Maid: nay, never again did I ride under her banner.

She, for her part, was not idle, but, after tarrying certain days in
Compiegne with Guillaume de Flavy, she rode to Lagny, "for there,"
she said, "were men that warred well against the English," namely, a
company of our Scots. And among them, as later I heard in my bed,
was Randal Rutherford, who had ransomed himself out of the hands of
the French in Paris, whereat I was right glad. At Lagny, with her
own men and the Scots, the Maid fought and took one Franquet
d'Arras, a Burgundian "routier," or knight of the road, who
plundered that country without mercy. Him the Maid would have
exchanged for an Armagnac of Paris, the host of the Bear Inn, then
held in duresse by the English, for his share in a plot to yield
Paris to the King. But this burgess died in the hands of the
English, and the echevins {34} of Lagny, claiming Franquet d'Arras
as a common thief, traitor, and murderer, tried him, and, on his
confession, put him to death. This was counted a crime in the Maid
by the English and Burgundian robbers, nay, even by French and
Scots. "For," said they, "if a gentleman is to be judged like a
manant, or a fat burgess by burgesses, there is no more profit or
glory in war." Nay, I have heard gentlemen of France cry out that,
as the Maid gave up Franquet to such judges as would surely condemn
him, so she was rightly punished when Jean de Luxembourg sold her
into the hands of unjust judges. But I answer that the Maid did not
sell Franquet d'Arras, as I say De Luxembourg sold her: not a livre
did she take from the folk of Lagny. And as for the slaying of
robbers, this very Jean de Luxembourg had but just slain many
English of his own party, for that they burned and pillaged in the
Beauvais country.

Yet men murmured against the Maid not only in their hearts, but
openly, and many men-at-arms ceased to love her cause, both for the
slaying of Franquet d'Arras, and because she was for putting away
the leaguer-lasses, and, when she might, would suffer no plundering.
Whether she was right or wrong, it behoves me not to judge, but this
I know, that the King's men fought best when she was best obeyed.
And, like Him who sent her, she was ever of the part of the poor and
the oppressed, against strong knights who rob and ravish and burn
and torture, and hold to ransom. Therefore the Archbishop of Reims,
who was never a friend of the Maid, said openly in a letter to the
Reims folk that "she did her own will, rather than obeyed the
commandments of God." But that God commands knights and gentlemen
to rob the poor and needy (though indeed He has set a great gulf
between a manant and a gentleman born) I can in nowise believe. For
my part, when I have been where gentlemen and captains lamented the
slaying of Franquet d'Arras, and justified the dealings of the
English with the Maid, I have seemed to hear the clamour of the
cruel Jews: "Tolle hunc, et dimitte nobis Barabbam." {35} For
Barabbas was a robber. Howbeit on this matter, as on all, I humbly
submit me to the judgment of my superiors and to Holy Church.

Meantime the Maid rode from Lagny, now to Soissons, now to Senlis,
now to Crepy-en-Valois, and in Crepy she was when that befell which
I am about to relate.

CHAPTER XXVI--HOW, AND BY WHOSE DEVICE, THE MAID WAS TAKEN AT
COMPIEGNE

"Verily and indeed the Maid is of wonderful excellence," quoth
Father Francois to me, in my chamber at the Jacobins, where I was
healing of my hurts.

"Any man may know that, who is in your company," the father went on
speaking.

"And how, good father?" I asked him; "sure I have caught none of her
saintliness."

"A saint I do not call you, but I scarce call you a Scot. For you
are a clerk."

"The Maid taught me none of my clergy, father, nor have I taught her
any of mine."

"She needs it not. But you are peaceful and gentle; you brawl not,
nor drink, nor curse . . . "

"Nay, father, with whom am I to brawl, or how should I curse in your
good company? Find you Scots so froward?"

"But now, pretending to be our friends, a band of them is harrying
the Sologne country . . . "

"They will be Johnstons and Jardines, and wild wood folk of
Galloway," I said. "These we scarce reckon Scots, but rather Picts,
and half heathen. And the Johnstons and Jardines are here belike,
because they have made Scotland over hot to hold them. We are a
poor folk, but honest, let by the clans of the Land Debatable and of
Ettrick Forest, and the Border freebooters, and the Galloway Picts,
and Maxwells, and Glendinnings, and the red-shanked, jabbering
Highlanders and Islesmen, and some certain of the Angus folk, and,
maybe, a wild crew in Strathclyde."

"Yours, then, is a very large country?"

"About the bigness of France, or, may be, not so big. And the main
part of it, and the most lawful and learned, is by itself, in a
sort, a separate kingdom, namely Fife, whence I come myself. The
Lothians, too, and the shire of Ayr, if you except Carrick, are well
known for the lands of peaceful and sober men."

"Whence comes your great captain, Sir Hugh Kennedy?"

"There you name an honourable man-at-arms," I said, "the glory of
Scotland; and to show you I was right, he is none of your marchmen,
or Highlanders, but has lands in Ayrshire, and comes of a very
honourable house."

"It is Sir Hugh that hath just held to ransom the King's good town
of Tours, where is that gracious lady the mother of the King's wife,
the Queen of Sicily."

Hereat I waxed red as fire.

"He will be in arrears of his pay, no doubt," I made answer.

"It is very like," said Father Francois: "but considering all that
you tell me, I crave your pardon if I still think that the Blessed
Maid has won you from the common ways of your countrymen."

To which, in faith, I had no answer to make, but that my fortune was
like to be the happier in this world and the next.

"Much need have all men of her goodness, and we of her valour," said
the father, and he sighed. "This is now the fourth siege of
Compiegne I have seen, and twice have the leads from our roofs and
the metal of our bells been made into munition of war. Absit omen
Domine! And now they say the Duke of Burgundy has sworn to slay
all, and spare neither woman nor child."

"A vaunt of war, father. Call they not him the Good Duke? When we
lay before Paris, the English put about a like lying tale concerning
us, as if we should sack and slay all."

"I pray that you speak sooth," said Father Francois.

On the next day, being May the twentieth, he came to me again, with
a wan face.

"Burgundians are in Claroix," said he, "across the river, and yet
others, with Jean de Luxembourg, at Margny, scarce a mile away, at
the end of the causeway through the water meadows, beyond the
bridge. And the Duke is at Coudun, a league off to the right of
Claroix, and I have clomb the tower-top, and thence seen the English
at Venette, on the left hand of the causeway. All is undone."

"Nay, father, be of better cheer. Our fort at the bridge end is
stronger than Les Tourelles were at Orleans. The English shot can
scarce cross the river. Bridge the enemy has none, and northward
and eastward all is open. Be of better heart, Heaven helps France."

"We have sent to summon the Maid,' said he, "from Crepy-en-Valois.
In her is all my hope; but you speak lightly, for you are young, and
war is your trade."

"And praying is yours, father, wherefore you should be bolder than
I."

But he shook his head.

So two days passed, and nothing great befell, but in the grey dawn
of May the twenty-third I was held awake by clatter of horsemen
riding down the street under the window of my chamber. And after
matins came Father Francois, his face very joyful, with the tidings
that the Maid, and a company of some three hundred lances of hers,
had ridden in from Crepy-en-Valois, she making her profit of the
darkness to avoid the Burgundians.

Then I deemed that the enemy would soon have news of her, and all
that day I heard the bells ring merry peals, and the trumpets
sounding. About three hours after noonday Father Francois came
again, and told me that the Maid would make a sally, and cut the
Burgundians in twain; and now nothing would serve me but I must be
borne in a litter to the walls, and see her banner once more on the
wind.

So, by the goodwill of Father Francois, some lay brethren bore me
forth from the convent, which is but a stone's-throw from the
bridge. They carried me across the Oise to a mill hard by the
boulevard of the Bridge fort, whence, from a window, I beheld all
that chanced. No man sitting in the gallery of a knight's hall to
see jongleurs play and sing could have had a better stance, or have
seen more clearly all the mischief that befell.

The town of Compiegne lies on the river Oise, as Orleans on the
Loire, but on the left, not the right hand of the water. The bridge
is strongly guarded, as is custom, by a tower at the further end,
and, in front of that tower, a boulevard. All the water was gay to
look on, being covered with boats, as if for a holiday, but these
were manned by archers, whom Guillaume de Flavy had set to shoot at
the enemy, if they drove us back, and to rescue such of our men as
might give ground, if they could not win into the boulevard at the
bridge end.

Beyond the boulevard, forth to the open country, lay a wide plain,
and behind it, closing it in, a long, low wall of steep hills. On
the left, a mile and a half away, Father Francois showed me the
church tower of Venette, where the English camped; to the right, a
league off, was the tower of Clairoix; and at the end of a long
raised causeway that ran from the bridge across the plain, because
of the winter floods, I saw the tower and the village of Margny.
All these towns and spires looked peaceful, but all were held by the
Burgundians. Men-at-arms were thick on the crest of our boulevard,
and on the gate-keep, all looking across the river towards the town,
whence the Maid should sally by way of the bridge. So there I lay
on a couch in the window and waited, having no fear, but great joy.

Nay, never have I felt my spirit lighter within me, so that I
laughed and chattered like a fey man. The fresh air, after my long
lying in a chamber, stirred me like wine. The May sun shone warm,
yet cooled with a sweet wind of the west. The room was full of
women and maids, all waiting to throw flowers before the Maid, whom
they dearly loved. Everything had a look of holiday, and all was to
end in joy and great victory. So I laughed with the girls, and
listened to a strange tale, how the Maid had but of late brought
back to life a dead child at Lagny, so that he got his rights of
Baptism, and anon died again.

So we fleeted the time, till about the fifth hour after noon, when
we heard the clatter of horses on the bridge; and some women waxed
pale. My own heart leaped up. The noise drew nearer, and presently
She rode across and forth, carrying her banner in the noblest
manner, mounted on a grey horse, and clad in a rich hucque of
cramoisie; she smiled and bowed like a queen to the people, who
cried, "Noel! Noel!" Beside her rode Pothon le Bourgignon (not
Pothon de Xaintrailles, as some have falsely said), her confessor
Pasquerel on a palfrey; her brother, Pierre du Lys, with his new
arms bravely blazoned; and her maitre d'hotel, D'Aulon. But of the
captains in Compiegne no one rode with her. She had but her own
company, and a great rude throng of footmen of the town that would
not be said nay. They carried clubs, and they looked, as I heard,
for no less than to take prisoner the Duke of Burgundy himself.
Certain of these men also bore spades and picks and other tools; for
the Maid, as I deem, intended no more than to take and hold Margny,
that so she might cut the Burgundians in twain, and sunder from them
the English at Venette. Now as the night was not far off, then at
nightfall would the English be in sore straits, as not knowing the
country and the country roads, and not having the power to join them
of Burgundy at Clairoix. This, one told me afterwards, was the
device of the Maid.

Be this as it may, and a captain of hers, Barthelemy Barrette, told
me the tale, the Maid rode gallantly forth, flowers raining on her,
while my heart longed to be riding at her rein. She waved her hand
to Guillaume de Flavy, who sat on his horse by the gate of the
boulevard, and so, having arrayed her men, she cried, "Tirez avant!"
and made towards Margny, the foot-soldiers following with what speed
they might, while I and Father Francois, and others in the chamber,
strained our eyes after them. All the windows and roofs of the
houses and water-mills on the bridge were crowded with men and
women, gazing, and it came into my mind that Flavy had done ill to
leave these mills and houses standing. They wrought otherwise at
Orleans. This was but a passing thought, for my heart was in my
eyes, straining towards Margny. Thence now arose a great din, and
clamour of trumpets and cries of men-at-arms, and we could see
tumult, blown dust, and stir of men, and so it went for it may be
half of an hour. Then that dusty cloud of men and horses drove,
forward ever, out of our sight.

The sun was now red and sinking above the low wall of the western
hills, and the air was thicker than it had been, and confused with a
yellow light. Despite the great multitude of men and women on the
city walls, there came scarcely a sound of a voice to us across the
wide river, so still they kept, and the archers in the boats beneath
us were silent: nay, though the chamber wherein I lay was thronged
with the people of the house pressing to see through the open
casement, yet there was silence here, save when the father prayed.

A stronger wind rising out of the west now blew towards us with a
sweet burden of scent from flowers and grass, fragrant upon our
faces. So we waited, our hearts beating with hope and fear.

Then I, whose eyes were keen, saw, blown usward from Margny, a cloud
of flying dust, that in Scotland we call stour. The dust rolled
white along the causeway towards Compiegne, and then, alas! forth
from it broke little knots of our men, foot-soldiers, all running
for their lives. Behind them came more of our men, and more, all
running, and then mounted men-at-arms, spurring hard, and still more
and more of these; and ever the footmen ran, till many riders and
some runners had crossed the drawbridge, and were within the
boulevard of the bridge. There they stayed, sobbing and panting,
and a few were bleeding. But though the foremost runaways thus won
their lives, we saw others roll over and fall as they ran, tumbling
down the sides of the causeway, and why they fell I knew not.

But now, in the midst of the causeway, between us and Margny, our
flying horsemen rallied under the Maiden's banner, and for the last
time of all, I heard that clear girl's voice crying, "Tirez en
avant! en avant!"

Anon her horsemen charged back furiously, and drove the Picards and
Burgundians, who pursued, over a third part of the raised roadway.

But now, forth from Margny, trooped Burgundian men-at-arms without
end or number, the banner of the Maid waved wildly, now up, now
down, in the mad mellay, and ever they of Burgundy pressed on, and
still our men, being few and outnumbered, gave back. Yet still some
of the many clubmen of the townsfolk tumbled over as they ran, and
the drawbridge was choked with men flying, thrusting and thronging,
wild and blind with the fear of death. Then rose on our left one
great cry, such as the English give when they rejoice, or when they
charge, and lo! forth from a little wood that had hidden them, came
galloping and running across the heavy wet meadowland between us and
Venette, the men-at-arms and the archers of England. Then we nigh
gave up all for lost, and fain I would have turned my eyes away, but
I might not.

Now and again the English archers paused, and loosed a flight of
clothyard shafts against the stream of our runaways on the bridge.
Therefore it was that some fell as they ran. But the little company
of our horsemen were now driven back so near us that I could plainly
see the Maid, coming last of all, her body swung round in the saddle
as she looked back at the foremost foemen, who were within a lance's
length of her. And D'Aulon and Pierre du Lys, gripping each at her
reins, were spurring forward. But through the press of our clubmen
and flying horsemen they might not win, and now I saw, what never
man saw before, the sword of the Maid bare in battle! She smote on
a knight's shield, her sword shivered in that stroke, she caught her
steel sperthe into her hand, and struck and hewed amain, and there
were empty saddles round her.

And now the English in the meadow were within four lances' lengths
of the causeway between her and safety. Say it I must, nor cannon-
ball nor arrow-flight availed to turn these English. Still the
drawbridge and the inlet of the boulevard were choked with the
press, and men were leaping from bank and bridge into the boats, or
into the water, while so mixed were friends and foes that Flavy, in
a great voice, bade archers and artillerymen hold their hands.

Townsfolk, too, were mingled in the throng, men who had come but to
gape as curious fools, and among them I saw the hood of a cordelier,
as I glanced from the fight to mark how the Maid might force her way
within. Still she smote, and D'Aulon and Pierre du Lys smote
manfully, and anon they gained a little way, backing their horses,
while our archers dared not shoot, so mixed were French, English,
and Burgundians.

Flavy, who worked like a man possessed, had turned about to give an
order to the archers above him; his back, I swear, was to the press
of flying men, to the inlet of the boulevard, and to the drawbridge,
when his own voice, as all deemed who heard it, cried aloud, "Up
drawbridge, close gates, down portcullis!" The men whose duty it
was were standing ready at the cranks and pulleys, their tools in
hand, and instantly, groaning, the drawbridge flew up, casting into
the water them that were flying across, down came the portcullis,
and slew two men, while the gates of the inlet of the boulevard were
swung to and barred, all, as it might he said, in the twinkling of
an eye.

Flavy turned in wrath and great amaze: "In God's name, who cried?"
he shouted. "Down drawbridge, up portcullis, open gates! To the
front, men-at-arms, lances forward!"

For most of the mounted men who had fled were now safe, and on foot,
within the boulevard.

All this I heard and saw, in a glance, while my eyes were fixed on
the Maid and the few with her. They were lost from our sight, now
and again, in a throng of Picards, Englishmen, Burgundians, for all
have their part in this glory. Swords and axes fell and rose,
steeds countered and reeled, and then, they say, for this thing I
myself did not see, a Picard archer, slipping under the weapons and
among the horses' hoofs, tore the Maid from saddle by the long
skirts of her hucque, and they were all upon her. This befell
within half a stone's-throw of the drawbridge. While Flavy himself
toiled with his hands, and tore at the cranks and chains, the Maid
was taken under the eyes of us, who could not stir to help her. Now
was the day and the hour whereof the Saints told her not, though she
implored them with tears. Now in the throng below I heard a laugh
like the sound of a saw on stone, and one struck him that laughed on
the mouth. It was the laugh of that accursed Brother Thomas!

I had laid my face on my hands, being so weak, and was weeping for
very rage at that which my unhappy eyes had seen, when I heard the
laugh, and lifting my head and looking forth, I beheld the hood of
the cordelier.

"Seize him!" I cried to Father Francois, pointing down at the
cordelier. "Seize that Franciscan, he has betrayed her! Run, man,
it was he who cried in Flavy's voice, bidding them raise drawbridge
and let fall portcullis. The devil gave him that craft to
counterfeit men's voices. I know the man. Run, Father Francois,
run!"

"You are distraught with very grief," said the good father, the
tears running down his own cheeks; "that is Brother Thomas, the best
artilleryman in France, and Flavy's chief trust with the
couleuvrine. He came in but four days agone, and there was great
joy of his coming."

Thus was the Maid taken, by art and device of the devil and Brother
Thomas, and in no otherwise. They who tell that Flavy sold her,
closing the gates in her face, do him wrong; he was an ill man, but
loyal to France, as was seen by the very defence he made at
Compiegne, for there was none like it in this war. But of what
avail was that to us who loved the Maid? Rather, many times, would
I have died in that hour than have seen what I saw. For our enemies
made no more tarrying, nor any onslaught on the boulevard, but rode
swiftly back with the prize they had taken, with her whom they
feared more than any knight or captain of France. This page whereon
I work, in a hand feeble and old, and weary with much writing, is
blotted with tears that will not be held in. But we must bow humbly
to the will of God and of His Saints. "Dominus dedit, et Dominus
abstulit; benedictum sit nomen Domini."

Wherefore should I say more? They carried me back in litter over
the bridge, through the growing darkness. Every church was full of
women weeping and praying for her that was the friend of them, and
the playmate of their children, for all children she dearly loved.

Concerning Flavy, it was said, by them who loved him not, that he
showed no sign of sorrow. But when his own brother Louis fell,
later in the siege, a brother whom he dearly loved, none saw him
weep, or alter the fashion of his countenance; nay, he bade
musicians play music before him.

I besought the Prior, when I was borne home, that I might be carried
to Flavy, and tell him that I knew. But he forbade me, saying that,
in very truth, I knew nought, or nothing that could be brought
against a Churchman, and one in a place of trust. For I had not
seen the lips of the cordelier move when that command was given--
nay, at the moment I saw him not at all. Nor could I even prove to
others that he had this devilish art, there being but my oath
against his, and assuredly he would deny the thing. And though I
might be assured and certain within myself, yet other witness I had
none at all, nor were any of my friends there who could speak with
me. For D'Aulon, and Pasquerel, and Pierre du Lys had all been
taken with the Maid. It was long indeed before Pierre du Lys was
free, for he had no money to ransom himself withal. Therefore
Flavy, knowing me only for a wounded Scot of the Maid's, would think
me a brainsick man, and as like as not give me more of Oise river to
drink than I craved.

With these reasonings it behoved me to content myself. The night I
passed in prayers for the Maid, and for myself, that I might yet do
justice on that devil, or, at least, might see justice done. But
how these orisons were answered shall be seen in the end, whereto I
now hasten.

CHAPTER XXVII--HOW NORMAN LESLIE FARED IN COMPIEGNE, WITH THE END
OFTHAT LEAGUER

About all that befell in the besieged city of Compiegne, after that
wicked day of destiny when the Maid was taken, I heard for long only
from the Jacobin brothers, and from one Barthelemy Barrette. He was
a Picardy man, more loyal than most of his country, who had joined
the Maid after the fray at Paris. Now he commanded a hundred of her
company, who did not scatter after she was taken, and he was the
best friend I then had.

"The burgesses are no whit dismayed," said he, coming into my
chamber after the day of the Ascension, which was the second after
the capture of the Maid. "They have sent a messenger to the King,
and expect succour."

"They sue for grace at a graceless face," said I, in the country
proverb; for my heart was hot against King Charles.

"That is to be seen," said be. "But assuredly the Duke of Burgundy
is more keen about his own business."

"How fare the Burgundians?" I asked, "for, indeed, I have heard the
guns speak since dawn, but none of the good fathers cares to go even
on to the roof of the church tower and bring me tidings, for fear of
a stray cannon-ball."

"For holy men they are wondrous chary of their lives," said
Barthelemy, laughing. "Were I a monk, I would welcome death that
should unfrock me, and let me go a-wandering in Paradise among these
fair lady saints we see in the pictures."

"It is written, Barthelemy, that there is neither marrying nor
giving in marriage."

"Faith, the more I am fain of it," said Barthelemy, "and may be I
might take the wrong track, and get into the Paradise of Mahound,
which, I have heard, is no ill place for a man-at-arms."

This man had no more faith than a paynim, but, none the less, was a
stout carl in war.

"But that minds me," quoth he, "of the very thing I came hither to
tell you. One priest there is in Compiegne who takes no keep of his
life, a cordelier. What ails you, man? does your leg give a
twinge?"

"Ay, a shrewd twinge enough."

"Truly, you look pale enough."

"It is gone," I said. "Tell me of that cordelier."

"Do you see this little rod?" he asked, putting in my hand a wand of
dark wood, carven with the head of a strange beast in a cowl.

"I see it."

"How many notches are cut in it?"

"Five," I said. "But why spoil you your rod?"

"Five men of England or Burgundy that cordelier shot this day, from
the creneaux of the boulevard where the Maid," crossing himself,
"was taken. A fell man he is, strong and tall, with a long hooked
nose, and as black as Sathanas."

"How comes he in arms?" I asked.

"Flavy called him in from Valenciennes, where he was about some
business of his own, for there is no greater master of the culverin.
And, faith, as he says, he 'has had rare sport, and will have for
long.'"

"Was there an onfall of the enemy?"

"Nay, they are over wary. He shot them as they dug behind pavises.
{36} For the Duke has moved his quarters to Venette, where the
English lay, hard by the town. And, right in the middle of the
causeway to Margny, two arrow-shots from our bridge end, he is
letting build a great bastille, and digging a trench wherein men may
go to and fro. The cordelier was as glad of that as a man who has
stalked a covey of partridges. 'Keep my tally for me,' he said to
myself; 'cut a notch for every man I slay'; and here," said
Barthelemy, waving his staff, "is his first day's reckoning."

Now I well saw what chance I had of bringing that devil to justice,
for who would believe so strange a tale as mine against one so
serviceable in the war? Nor was D'Aulon here to speak for me, the
enemy having taken him when they took the Maid. Thinking thus, I
groaned, and Barthelemy, fearing that he had wearied me, said
farewell, and went out.

Every evening, after sunset, he would come in, and partly cheer me,
by telling how hardily our people bore them, partly break my heart
with fresh tidings of that devil, Brother Thomas.

"Things go not ill, had we but hope of succour," he said. "The
Duke's bastille is rising, indeed, and the Duke is building taudis
{37} of oaken beams and earth, between the bastille and our
boulevard. The skill is to draw nearer us, and nearer, till he can
mine beneath our feet. Heard you any new noise of war this day?"

"I heard such a roar and clatter as never was in my ears, whether at
Orleans or Paris."

"And well you might! This convent is in the very line of the fire.
They have four great bombards placed, every one of them with a
devilish Netherland name of its own. There is Houpembiere,--that
means the beer-barrel, I take it,--and La Rouge Bombarde, and
Remeswalle and Quincequin, every one shooting stone balls thirty
inches in girth. The houses on the bridge are a heap of stones, the
mills are battered down, and we must grind our meal in the city, in
a cellar, for what I can tell. Nom Dieu! when they take the
boulevard we lose the river, and if once they bar our gates to the
east, whence shall viands come?"

"Is there no good tidings from the messenger?"

"The King answers ever like a drawer in a tavern, 'Anon, anon, sir!'
He will come himself presently, always presently, with all his
host."

"He will never come," I said. "He is a . . . "

"He is my King," said Barthelemy. "Curse your own King of Scots, if
you will. Scots, by the blood of Iscariot, traitors are they; well,
I crave your pardon, I spake in haste and anger. Know you Nichole
Cammet?"

"I have heard of the man," I said. "A town's messenger, is he not?"

"The same. But a week agone, Cammet was sent on a swift horse to
Chateau Thierry. The good town craved of Pothon de Xaintrailles,
who commands there, to send them what saltpetre he could spare for
making gunpowder. The saltpetre came in this day by the Pierrefonds
Gate, and Cammet with it, but on another horse, a jade."

"Well, and what have the Scots to do with that?"

"No more than this. A parcel of them, routiers and brigands, have
crept into an old castle on the road, and hold it for their own
hands. Thence they sallied forth after Cammet, and so chased him
that his horse fell down dead under him in the gateway of Chateau
Thierry."

"They would be men of the Land Debatable," I cried: "Elliots and
Armstrongs, they never do a better deed, being corrupted by dwelling
nigh our enemies of England. Fain would I pay for that horse; see
here," and I took forth my purse from under my pillow, "take that to
the attournes, and say a Scot atones for what Scots have done."

"Norman, I take back my word; I crave your pardon, and I am shamed
to have spoken so to a sick man of his own countryfolk. But for
your purse, I am ill at carrying purses; I have no skill in that
art, and the dice draw me when I hear the rattle of them. But look
at the cordelier's tally: four men to-day, three yesterday; faith,
he thins them!"

Indeed, to shorten a long story, by the end of Barthelemy's count
there were two hundred and thirty-nine notches on the rod. That he
kept a true score (till he stinted and reckoned no more), I know,
having proof from the other side. For twelve years thereafter, I
falling into discourse with Messire Georges Chastellain, an esquire
of the Duke of Burgundy, and a maker both of verse and prose, he
told me the same tale to a man, three hundred men. And I make no
doubt but that he has written it in his book of the praise of his
prince, and of these wars, to witness if I lie.

Consider, then, what hope I had of being listened to by Flavy, or by
the attournes (or, as we say, bailies), of the good town, if, being
recovered from my broken limbs, I brought my witness to their ears.

None the less, the enemy battered at us every day with their
engines, destroying, as Barthelemy had said, the houses on the
bridge, and the mills, so that they could no longer grind the corn.

And now came the Earls of Huntingdon and Arundel, with two thousand
Englishmen, while to us appeared no succour. So at length, being
smitten by balls from above, and ruined by mines dug under earth
from below, our company that held the boulevard at the bridge end
were surprised in the night, and some were taken, some drowned in
the river Oise. Wherefore was great sorrow and fear, the more for
that the Duke of Burgundy let build a bridge of wood from Venette,
to come and go across Oise, whereby we were now assailed on both
hands, for hitherto we had been free to come and go on the landward
side, and through all the forest of Pierrefonds. We had but one
gate unbeleaguered, the Chapel Gate, leading to Choisy and the
north-east. Now were we straitened for provender, notably for fresh
meat, and men were driven, as in a city beleaguered, to eat the
flesh of dead horses, and even of rats and dogs, whereof I have
partaken, and it is ill food.

None the less we endured, despite the murmuring of the commons, so
strong are men's hearts; moreover, all France lay staked on this one
cast of the dice, no less than at Orleans in the year before.

Somewhat we were kept in heart by tidings otherwise bitter. For
word came that the Maid, being in ward at Beaurevoir, a strong place
of Jean de Luxembourg, had leaped in the night from the top of the
tower, and had, next morning, been taken up all unhurt, as by,
miracle, but astounded and bereft of her senses. For this there was
much sorrow, but would to God that He had taken her to Himself in
that hour!

Nevertheless, when she was come to herself again, she declared, by
inspiration of the Saints, that Compiegne should be delivered before
the season of Martinmas. Whence I, for one, drew great comfort, nor
ever again despaired, and many were filled with courage when this
tidings came to our ears, hoping for some miracle, as at Orleans.

Now, too, God began to take pity upon us; for, on August the
fifteenth, the eighty-fifth day of the siege, came news to the Duke
of Burgundy that Philip, Duke of Brabant, was dead, and he must go
to make sure of that great heritage. The Duke having departed, the
English Earls had far less heart for the leaguer; I know not well
wherefore, but now, at least, was seen the truth of that proverb
concerning the "eye of the master." The bastille, too, which our
enemies had made to prevent us from going out by our Pierrefonds
Gate on the landward side, was negligently built, and of no great
strength. All this gave us some heart, so much that my hosts, the
good Jacobins, and the holy sisters of the Convent of St. John,
stripped the lead from their roofs, and bestowed it on the town, for
munition of war. And when I was in case to walk upon the walls, and
above the river, I might see men and boys diving in the water and
searching for English cannon-balls, which we shot back at the
English.

It chanced, one day, that I was sitting and sunning myself in the
warm September weather, on a settle in a secure place hard by the
Chapel Gate. With me was Barthelemy Barrette, for it was the day of
Our Lady's Feast, that very day whereon we had failed before Paris
last year, and there was truce for the sacred season. We fell to
devising of what had befallen that day year, and without thought I
told Barthelemy of my escape from prison, and so, little by little,
I opened my heart to him concerning Brother Thomas and all his
treasons.

Never was man more astounded than Barthelemy; and he bade me swear
by the Blessed Trinity that all this tale was true.

"Mayhap you were fevered," he said, "when you lay in the casement
seat, and saw the Maid taken by device of the cordelier."

"I was no more fevered than I am now, and I swear, by what oath you
will, and by the bones of St. Andrew, which these sinful hands have
handled, that Flavy's face was set the other way when that cry came,
'Down portcullis, up drawbridge, close gates!' And now that I have
told you the very truth, what should I do?"

"Brother Thomas should burn for this," quoth Barthelemy; "but not
while the siege endures. He carries too many English lives in his
munition-box. Nor can you slay him in single combat, or at
unawares, for the man is a priest. Nor would Flavy, who knows you
not, listen to such a story."

So there he sat, frowning, and plucking at his beard. "I have it,"
he said; "D'Aulon is no further off than Beaulieu, where Jean de
Luxembourg holds him till he pays his ransom. When the siege is
raised, if ever we are to have succour, then purchase safe-conduct
to D'Aulon, take his testimony, and bring it to Flavy."

As he spoke, some stir in the still air made me look up, and
suddenly throw my body aside; and it was well, for a sword swept
down from the low parapet above our heads, and smote into the back
of that settle whereon we were sitting.

Ere I well knew what had chanced, Barthelemy was on his feet, his
whinger flew from his hand, and he, leaping up on to the parapet,
was following after him who smote at me.

In the same moment a loud grating voice cried--"The Maid shall burn,
and not the man," and a flash of light went past me, the whinger
flying over my head and clipping into the water of the moat below."

Rising as I best might, but heedfully, I spied over the parapet, and
there was Barthelemy coming back, his naked sword in his hand.

"The devil turned a sharp corner and vanished," he said. "And now
where are we? We have a worse foe within than all the men of
Burgundy without. There goes the devil's tally!" he cried, and
threw the little carven rod far from him into the moat, where it
fell and floated.

"No man saw this that could bear witness; most are in church, where
you and I should have been," I said.

Then we looked on each other with blank faces.

"My post is far from his, and my harness is good," said Barthelemy;
"but for you, beware!" Thenceforth, if I saw any cowl of a
cordelier as I walked, I even turned and went the other way.

I was of no avail against this wolf, whom all men praised, so
serviceable was he to the town.

Once an arbalest bolt struck my staff from my hand as I walked, and
I was fain to take shelter of a corner, yet saw not whence the shot
came.

Once a great stone fell from a turret, and broke into dust at my
feet, and it is not my mind that a cannon-ball had loosened it.

Thus my life went by in dread and watchfulness. No more bitter
penance may man dree than was mine, to be near this devil, and have
no power to avenge my deadly quarrel. There were many heavy hearts
in the town; for, once it was taken, what man could deem his life
safe, or what woman her honour? But though they lay down and rose
up in fear, and were devoured by desire of revenge, theirs was no
such thirst as mine.

So the days went on, and darkened towards the promised season of
Martinmas, but there dawned no light of hope. Now, on the Wednesday
before All Saints, I had clambered up into the tower of the Church
of the Jacobins, on the north-east of the city, whence there was a
prospect far and wide. With me were only two of the youngest of the
fathers. I looked down into the great forest of Pierrefonds, and up
and down Oise, and beheld the army of our enemies moving in divers
ways. The banners of the English and their long array were crossing
the Duke of Burgundy's new bridge of wood, that he had builded from
Venette, and with them the men of Jean de Luxembourg trooped towards
Royaulieu. On the crest of their bastille, over against our
Pierrefonds Gate, matches were lighted and men were watching in
double guard, and the same on the other side of the water, at the
Gate Margny. Plainly our foes expected a rescue sent to us of
Compiegne by our party. But the forest, five hundred yards from our
wall, lay silent and peaceable, a sea of brown and yellow leaves.

Then, while the English and Burgundian men-at-arms, that had marched
south and east, were drawn up in order of battle away to the right
between wood and water, behold, trumpets sounded, faint enough,
being far off. Then there was a glitter of the pale sun on long
lines of lance-points, under the banners of French captains, issuing
out from the forest, over against the enemy. We who stood on the
tower gazed long at these two armies, which were marshalled orderly,
with no more than a bowshot and a half between them, and every
moment we looked to see them charge upon each other with the lance.
Much we prayed to the Saints, for now all our hope was on this one
cast. They of Burgundy and of England dismounted from their horses,
for the English ever fight best on foot, and they deemed that the
knights of France would ride in upon them, and fall beneath the
English bows, as at Azincour and Crecy. We, too, looked for nought
else; but the French array never stirred, though here and there a
knight would gallop forth to do a valiance. Seldom has man seen a
stranger sight in war, for the English and Burgundians could not
charge, being heavy-armed men on foot, and the French would not move
against them, we knew not wherefore.

All this spectacle lay far off, to the south, and we could not be
satisfied with wondering at it nor turn away our eyes, when, on the
left, a trumpet rang out joyously. Then, all of us wheeling round
as one man, we saw the most blessed sight, whereto our backs had
been turned; for, into the Chapel Gate--that is, far to the left of
the Pierrefonds Gate on the north-east--were streaming cattle, sheep
and kine, pricked on and hastened by a company of a hundred men-at-
arms. They had come by forest paths from Choisy way, and anon all
our guns on the boulevard of the Pierrefonds Gate burst forth at
once against the English bastille over against it. Now this
bastille, as I have said, had never been strongly builded, and, in
some sort, was not wholly finished.

After one great volley of guns against the bastille, we, looking
down into our boulevard of the Pierrefonds Gate, saw the portcullis
raised, the drawbridge lowered, and a great array of men-at-arms
carrying ladders rush out, and charge upon the bastille. Then,
through the smoke and fire, they strove to scale the works, and for
the space of half an hour all was roar of guns; but at length our
men came back, leaving many slain, and the running libbards grinned
on the flag of England.

I might endure no longer, but, clambering down the tower stairs as
best I might, for I was still lame, I limped to my lodgings at the
Jacobins, did on my harness, and, taking a horse from the stable, I
mounted and rode to the Pierrefonds Gate. For Brother Thomas and
his murderous ways I had now no care at all.

Never, sure, saw any man such a sight. Our boulevard was full, not
only of men-at-arms, but of all who could carry clubs, burgesses
armed, old men, boys, yea, women and children, some with rusty
swords, some with carpenters' axes, some bearing cudgels, some with
hammers, spits, and knives, all clamouring for the portcullis to
rise and let them forth. Their faces were lean and fierce, their
eyes were like eyes of wolves, for now, they cried, was the hour,
and the prophecy of the Maid should be fulfilled! Verily, though
she lay in bonds, her spirit was with us on that day!

But still our portcullis was down, and the long tail of angry people
stretched inwards, from the inner mouth of the boulevard, along the
street, surging like a swollen loch against its barrier.

On the crest of the boulevard was Flavy, baton in hand, looking
forth across field and forest, watching for I knew not what, while
still the people clamoured to be let go. But he stood like the
statue of a man-at-arms, and from the bastille of the Burgundians
the arrows rained around him, who always watched, and was still.
Now the guards of the gate had hard work to keep the angry people
back, who leaped and tore at the men-at-arms arrayed in front of
them, and yelled for eagerness to issue forth and fight.

Suddenly, on the crest of the boulevard, Flavy threw up his arm and
gave one cry -

"Xaintrailles!"

Then he roared to draw up portcullis and open gates; the men-at-arms
charged forth, the multitude trampled over each other to be first in
field, I was swept on and along with them through the gate, and over
the drawbridge, like a straw on a wave, and, lo! a little on our
left was the banner of Pothon de Xaintrailles, his foremost men
dismounting, the rearguard just riding out from the forest. The two
bands joined, we from Compiegne, the four hundred of Xaintrailles
from the wood, and, like two swollen streams that meet, we raced
towards the bastille, under a rain of arrows and balls. Nothing
could stay us: a boy fell by my side with an arrow thrilling in his
breast, but his brother never once looked round. I knew not that I
could run, but run I did, though not so fast as many, and before I
reached the bastille our ladders were up, and the throng was
clambering, falling, rising again, and flowing furiously into the
fort. The townsfolk had no thought but to slay and slay; five or
six would be at the throat of one Burgundian man-at-arms; hammers
and axes were breaking up armour, knives were scratching and
searching for a crevice; women, lifting great stone balls, would
stagger up to dash them on the heads of the fallen. Of the whole
garrison, one-half, a hundred and sixty men-at-arms, were put to the
sword. Only Pothon de Xaintrailles, and the gentlemen with him, as
knowing the manner of war, saved and held to ransom certain knights,
as Messire Jacques de Brimeu, the Seigneur de Crepy, and others;
while, for my own part, seeing a knight assailed by a knot of
clubmen, I struck in on his part, for gentle blood must ever aid
gentle blood, and so, not without shrewd blows on my salade, I took
to ransom Messire Collart de Bertancourt.

Thereafter, very late, and in the twilight of October the twenty-
fifth, we turned back to Compiegne, leaving the enemies' bastille in
a flame behind us, while in front were blazing the bonfires of the
people of the good town. And, in Compiegne, we heard how the
English and the main army of Burgundians had turned, late in the
day, and crossed by the Duke of Burgundy's bridge, leaving men to
keep guard there. So our victory was great, and wise had been the
prudence of the French captains, subtlety being the mother of
victory; for, without a blow struck, they had kept Jean de
Luxembourg, and the Earls of Huntingdon and Arundel, waiting idle
all day, while their great bastille was taken by Xaintrailles and
the townsfolk, and food was brought into Compiegne. Thus for the
second time I passed a night of joy in a beleaguered town, for there
was music in every street, the churches full of people praising God
for this great deliverance, men and maids dancing around bonfires,
yet good watch was kept at the gates and on the towers. Next day we
expected battle, but our spies brought in tidings that Burgundians
and English had decamped in the dawn, their men deserting. That day
was not less joyful than the night had been; for at Royaulieu, in
the abbey where Jean de Luxembourg had lain, the townsfolk found all
manner of meat, and of wine great plenty, so right good cheer we
made, for it cost us nothing.

CHAPTER XXVIII--HOW THE BURGUNDIANS HUNTED HARES, WITH THE END OF
THAT HUNTING

"Tell me, what tidings of him?" Barthelemy Barrette asked me, on the
day after that unbought feast at Royaulieu.

He was sitting in the noonday sun on the bridge of Compiegne, and
strange it was to see the place so battered yet so peaceful after
five months of war. The Oise sliding by and rippling on the piers
was not more quiet than this bridge of many battles, yet black in
places with dried-up blood of men slain. "Tidings can I find none,"
I answered. "He who saw the cordelier last was on guard in the
boulevard during the great charge. He marked Brother Thomas level
his couleuvrine now and again, as we ran for the bastille, and cried
out to him to aim higher, for that the ball would go amongst us."

"You were his target, I make no doubt," said Barthelemy, "but by
reason of the throng he had no certain aim."

"After we broke into the bastille, I can find no man who has set
eyes on him," and I cursed the cordelier for very rage.

"He is well away, if he stays away: you and I need scarce any
longer pray for eyes in the backs of our heads. But what make we
next?"

"I have but one thought," I said: "to pluck the Maid out of the
hands of the English, for now men say that she is sold to them by
Jean of Luxembourg. They mean to take her to Arras, and so by
Crotoy at the mouth of Seine, and across Normandy to Rouen. Save
her France must, for the honour of France."

"My mind is the same," he said, and fell into a muse. "Hence the
straight road, and the shortest," he said at last, "is by Beauvais
on to Rouen, where she will lie in chains," and drawing his dagger
he scratched lines on the bridge parapet with its point. "Here is
Compiegne; there, far to the west, is the sea, and here is Rouen.
That straight line," which he scratched, "goes to Rouen from
Compiegne. Here, midway, is Beauvais, whereof we spoke, which town
we hold. But there, between us and Beauvais, is Clermont, held by
Crevecoeur for the Burgundians, and here, midway between Beauvais
and Rouen, is Gournay, where Kyriel and the Lord Huntingdon lie with
a great force of English. Do you comprehend? We must first take
Clermont ere we can ride to rescue the Maid at Rouen!"

"The King should help us," I said. "For what is the army that has
delivered Compiegne but a set of private bands, under this
gentleman's flag or that, some with Boussac, some with Xaintrailles,
some with a dozen others, and victuals are hard to come by."

"Ay, many a peaceful man sits by the fire and tells how great
captains should have done this, and marched there, never thinking
that men fight on their bellies. And the King should help us, and
march with D'Alencon through Normandy from the south, while our
companies take Clermont if we may, and drive back the English and
Burgundians. But you know the King, and men say that the Archbishop
of Reims openly declares that the Maid is rightly punished for her
pride. He has set up a mad shepherd-boy to take her place, Heaven
help him! who can fight as well as that stone can swim," and he
dropped a loose stone over the bridge into the water.

"Whoever stays at home, we take the field," I said; "let us seek
counsel of Xaintrailles."

We rose and went to the Jacobins, where Xaintrailles was lodged, and
there found him at his dejeuner.

He was a tall young knight, straight as a lance, lean as a
greyhound; for all his days his sword had won his meat; and he was
hardy, keen, and bright, with eyes of steel in a scarred face, and
his brow was already worn bald with the helmet. When he walked his
legs somewhat straggled apart, by reason of his much riding.

Xaintrailles received us in the best manner, we telling him that we
had ridden with the Maid, that I was of her own household, and that
to save her we were willing to go far, and well knew that under no
banner could we be so forward as under his.

"I would all my company were as honest as I take you twain to be,"
he said, "and I gladly receive you under my colours with any men you
can bring."

"Messire, I have a handful of horse of the Maid's company," said
Barthelemy, hardily; "but when do we march, for to-day is better
than to-morrow."

"As soon as may be," said the knight; "the Marechal de Boussac leads
us against Clermont. That town we cannot leave behind us when we
set forth from Beauvais. But, with these great bombards, which we
have won from the Burgundians, we may have reason of Clermont, and
then," clapping his hands together, and looking up, "then for Rouen!
We shall burst the cage and free the bird, God willing!"

He stood like one in prayer, crossing himself, and our hearts turned
to him in loyalty.

"If but the King will send a force to join hands with La Hire in
Louviers, the English shall have news of you, Messire!" I made bold
to say.

"Ay, if!" quoth Xaintrailles, and his face grew darker, "but we must
make good speedy for the midwinter draws nigh."

Therewith we left him, and, in few days, were marching on Clermont,
dragging with long trains of horses the great bombards of the
Burgundians.

To our summons Messire de Crevecoeur answered knightly, that
Clermont he would hold till death or rescue, so we set to battering
his house about his ears. But, alas! after four days a sentinel of
ours saw, too late, an English knight with nine men slip through the
vines, under cover of darkness, and win a postern gate in the town
wall. Soon we heard a joy-fire of guns within Clermont town, and
foreboded the worst. At midnight came a peasant to Xaintrailles,
with tidings that a rescue was riding to Clermont, and next morning
it was boots and saddles and away, so hastily that we left behind us
the great bombards of the Burgundians. On this they made much
mirth; but they laugh best who laugh last, as shall he seen.

And the cause of our going was that the Earl of Huntingdon had
ridden out of Gournay, in Normandy, with a great force of English,
to deliver Clermont. Against foes within the town and foes without
the town the captains judged that we were of no avail. So we
departed, heavy at heart. Now the companies scattered, and
Barthelemy and I, sorry enough, rode behind Xaintrailles, due north
to Guermigny, whence we threatened Amiens.

At Guermigny, then, for a short season, lay Xaintrailles, gathering
all the force he might along the Picardy marches, for the Duke of
Burgundy was in Peronne, full of wrath and sorrow, so many evils had
befallen him. For ourselves, we were in no gentler temper, having
lost our hope of pushing on to Rouen.

I was glad, therefore, when Xaintrailles himself rode one day to the
door of our lodging in Guermigny, strode clanging into our chamber,
and asked if we were alone? We telling him that none was within
ear-shot, he sat him down on the table, playing with his dagger
hilt, and, with his hawk's eye on Barthelemy, asked, "You know this
land well?"

"I have ridden over it, in war or peace, since I was a boy."

"How far to Lihons?"

"A matter of two leagues."

"What manner of country lies between?"

"Chiefly plain, rude and untilled, because of the distresses of
these times. There is much heath and long grasses, a great country
for hares."

"Know you any covert nigh the road?"

"There runs a brook that the road crosses by a bridge, midway
between Guermigny and Lihons. The banks are steep, and well wooded
with such trees and undergrowth as love water."

"You can guide me thither?"

"There is no missing the road."

"God could not have made this land better for me, if He had asked my
counsel," said Xaintrailles. "You can keep your own?"

"Nom Dieu, yea!" said Barthelemy.

"And your Scots friend I can trust. A good-day to you, and thanks
many."

Thereupon he went forth.

"What has he in his mind?" I asked Barthelemy.

"Belike an ambush. The Duke of Burgundy lies at Peronne, and has
mustered a great force. Lihons is midway between us and Peronne,
and is in the hands of Burgundy. I deem Xaintrailles has tidings
that they intend to ride from Peronne to Lihons to-night, and thence
make early onfall on us to-morrow. Being heavy-pated men of war,
and bemused with their strong wine, they know not, belike, that we
have more with us than the small garrison of Guermigny. And we are
to await them on the road, I doubt not. You shall see men that wear
your cross of St. Andrew, but not of your colour."

I shame not to say that of bushments in the cold dawn I had seen as
much as I had stomach for, under Paris. But if any captain was wary
in war, and knew how to discover whatsoever his enemy designed, that
captain was Xaintrailles. None the less I hoped in my heart that
his secret tidings of the Burgundian onfall had not come through a
priest, and namely a cordelier.

Dawn found us mounted, and riding at a foot's-pace through the great
plain which lies rough and untilled between Guermigny and Lihons.
All grey and still it was, save for a cock crowing from a farmstead
here and there on the wide wold, broken only by a line of trees that
ran across the way.

Under these trees, which were mainly poplars and thick undergrowth
of alders about the steep banks of a little brook, we were halted,
and here took cover, our men lying down.

"Let no man stir, or speak, save when I speak to him, whatever
befalls, on peril of his life," said Xaintrailles, when we were all
disposed in hiding. Then touching me on the shoulder that I should
rise, he said -

"You are young enough to climb a tree; are your eyes good?"

"I commonly was the first that saw the hare in her form, when we
went coursing at home, sir."

"Then up this tree with you! keep outlook along the road, and hide
yourself as best you may in the boughs. Throw this russet cloak
over your harness." It was shrewdly chill in the grey November
morning, a hoarfrost lying white on the fields. I took the cloak
gladly and bestowed myself in the tree, so that I had a wide view
down Lihons way, whence we expected our enemies, the road running
plain to see for leagues, like a ribbon, when once the low sun had
scattered the mists. It was a long watch, and a weary, my hands
being half frozen in my steel gauntlets. Many of our men slept; if
ever a wayfarer crossed the bridge hard by he was stopped, gagged,
and trussed in a rope's end. But wayfarers were few, and all were
wandering afoot. I was sorry for two lasses, who crossed on some
business of their farm, but there was no remedy.

These diversions passed the time till nigh noon, when I whispered to
Xaintrailles that I saw clouds of dust (the roads being very dry) a
league away. He sent Barthelemy and another to waken any that
slept, and bade all be ready at a word.

Now there came shouts on the wind, cries of venerie, loud laughter,
and snatches of songs.

And now, up in my perch, I myself broke into a laugh at that I saw.

"Silence," fool!" whispered Xaintrailles. "Why laugh you, in the
name of Behemoth?"

"The Burgundians are hunting hares," I whispered; "they are riding
all disorderly, some on the road, some here and there about the
plain. One man has no lance, another is unhelmeted, many have left
their harness behind with the baggage!" Even as I spoke rose up a
great hunting cry, and a point of the chase was blown on a trumpet.
The foremost Burgundians were spurring like madmen after some beast,
throwing at it with their lances, and soon I saw a fox making our
way for its very life.

"To horse," cried Xaintrailles, and, leaving thirty men to hold the
bridge, the whole of our company, with spears in rest, drove down on
these hare-hunters of Burgundy.

Two hundred picked men in all, fully armed, were we, and we
scattered the foremost riders as they had scattered the hares.
Saddles were emptied, archers were cut down or speared ere they
could draw bows, the Burgundians were spurring for their lives, many
cried mercy, and were taken to ransom, of whom I had my share, as I
shall tell.

But a few men made a right good end. Thomas Kyriel, a knight of
England, stood to his banner, his archers rallied about it, with
three or four knights of Burgundy. There, unhelmeted for the most
part, they chose the way of honour, but they were of no avail where
so many lances were levelled and so many swords were hewing at so
few. There was a great slaughter, but Geoffrey de Thoisy, nephew to
the Bishop of Tournay, plucked from danger fortune, for he so bore
him that he being fully armed we took him for Messire Antoine de
Vienne, a very good knight. For his courage we spared him, but
Antoine, being unhelmeted and unknown, was smitten on the head by
Barthelemy Barrette, with a blow of a casse-tete.

For this Barthelemy made much sorrow, not only that so good a knight
was slain, but that he had lost a great ransom, whereby he should
have been a rich man. Yet such is the fortune of war! Which that
day was strangely seen; for a knight having yielded to me because
his horse threw him, and he lost for a moment all sense with the
fall and found my boot on his neck when he came to himself, who
should he be but Messire Robert Heron, the same whom I took at
Orleans!

Who, when he knew me, took off his salade for greater ease, and,
sitting down on a rock by the way, swore as never I heard man swear,
French, English, Spaniard, or Scot; and at length laughed, and said
it was fortune of war, and so was content. This skirmish being thus
ended, we returned, blithe and rich men every one of us, what with
prisoners, horses, arms, and all manner of treasure taken with the
baggage. That night we slept little in Guermigny, but feasted and
drank deep. For my own part, I know not well where I did sleep, or
how I won to what bed, which shames me some deal after all these
years.

On the morrow we left Guermigny to the garrison of the place for
their ill-fortune, and rode back towards Compiegne.

And this was the sport that the Burgundians had in hare-hunting.

This Battle of the Hares was the merriest passage of arms for our
party, and bourdes were made on it, and songs sung, as by the
English on that other Battle of the Herrings. Now, moreover, I
might be called rich, what with ransoms, what with my share of the
plunder in horses, rings, chains of gold, jewels, silver dishes, and
rich cloths, out of the baggage of the enemy. Verily lack of wealth
could no more sunder Elliot and me! For Pothon was as open of hand
as he was high of heart, and was no greedy captain, wherefore men
followed him the more gladly.

CHAPTER XXIX--SHOWETH HOW VERY NOBLE WAS THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

All this was well, but we were no nearer Rouen, and the freeing of
the Maid, on this twentieth of November, than we had been when the
siege of Compiegne broke up, on the twenty-sixth of October.

The Duke of Burgundy, we learned, was like a man mad when he heard
of the Battle of the Hares. Nothing would serve him that day but to
lead all his host to Guermigny from Peronne, whence he would have
got little comfort of vengeance, for we were in a place of safety.
But Jean de Luxembourg told him that he must not venture his
nobility among routiers like us, wherein he pleased the Duke, but
spoke foolishly. For no man, be he duke or prince, can be of better
blood than we of the House of Rothes, not to speak of Xaintrailles
and many other gentlemen of our company.

The Duke, then, put not his noble person in any jeopardy, but, more
wisely, he sent messengers after my Lord of Huntingdon that he
should bring up the English to aid the Burgundian hare-hunters. But
Huntingdon had departed to Rouen, where then lay Henry, King of
England, a boy on whom and on whose House God has avenged the Maid
with terrible judgments, and will yet the more avenge her, blessed
be His name!

The Duke of Burgundy comforted himself after his kind, for when he
did pluck up heart to go against Guermigny, he, finding us departed,
sacked the place, and razed it to the very ground, and so withdrew
to Roye, and there waited for what help England would send him. Now
Roye is some sixteen leagues due north of Compiegne.

So the days went by, for Messire Lefebvre Saint-Remy, the
pursuivant, was hunting for my Lord of Huntingdon, all up and down
Normandy, and at last came to Rouen, and to the presence of the Duke
of Bedford, the uncle of the English King. All this I myself heard
from Messire Saint-Remy, who is still a pursuivant, and a learned
man, and a maker of books.

Bedford then, who was busy hounding that devil, Cauchon, sometime
Bishop of Beauvais, against the Maid, sent the Comte de Perche and
Messire Loys Robsart, to bid the Duke of Burgundy be of what courage
he might, for succour of England he should have. Wherein Bedford
was no true prophet.

Of all this we, in Compiegne, knew so much as that it was wiser to
strike the Duke at Roye, before he could add English talbots to his
Burgundian harriers. Therefore all the captains of companies, as
Boussac, Xaintrailles, Alain Giron, Amadee de Vignolles, and Loys de
Naucourt, mustered their several companies, to the number of some
five thousand men-at-arms. We had news of six hundred English
marching to join the Duke, and on them we fell at Couty, hard by
Amiens, and there slew Loys Robsart, a good knight, of the Order of
the Garter, and drove the English that fled into the castle of
Couty, and we took all their horses, leaving them shamed, for they
kept no guard.

Thence we rode to within a league of Roye, and thence sent a herald,
in all due form, to challenge the Duke to open battle for his
honour's sake. This we did, because we had no store of victual, and
must fight or ride home.

The Duke received the herald, and made as if he would hear him as
beseems a gentleman under challenge. But his wise counsellors
forbade him, because he was so noble.

We were but "routiers," they said, and had no Prince in all our
company; so we must even tarry till the morrow, and then the Duke
would fight. In truth he expected the English, who were footing it
to Castle Couty.

I stood by Xaintrailles when the pursuivant bore back this message.

Pothon spat on the ground.

"Shall we be more noble to-morrow than to-day, or to-morrow can this
huxter of maids, the Duke, be less noble than he is, every day that
he soils knighthood?"

Thereon he sent the herald back, to say that the Duke should have
battle at his gates if he gave no better answer, for that wait for
his pleasure we could not, for want of victuals.

And so we drew half a league nearer to Roye.

The Duke sent back our herald with word that of victuals he would
give us half his own store; for he had read, as I deem, the romance
of Richard Lion-Heart, another manner of man than himself. We said
nought to this, not choosing to dine in such high company, but rode
up under the walls of Roye, defying the Duke with open ribaldry,
such as no manant could bear but he would take cudgel in hand to
defend his honour. Our intent was, if the Duke accepted battle, to
fight with none but him, if perchance we might take him, and hold
him as hostage for the Maid's life.

Howbeit, so very noble was the Duke this day, that he did not put
lance in rest (as belike he would have done on the morrow), but,
drawing up his men on foot, behind certain mosses and marshes, all
in firm array, he kept himself coy behind them, and not too far from
the gate of Roye.

To cross these mosses and marshes was beyond our cunning, nor could
we fast all that night, and see if the Duke would feel himself less
noble, and more warlike, on the morrow.

So, with curses and cries of shame, we turned bridle, and, for that
we could not hold together, being in lack of meat, the companies
broke up, and went each to his own hold.

I have heard Messire Georges Chastellain tell, in times that were
still to come, how fiercely the Duke of Burgundy bore him in council
that night, after that we had all gone, and how he blamed his people
who would not let him fight. But, after he had well supped, he even
let this adventure slip by, as being ordained by the will of God,
who, doubtless, holds in very high honour men of birth princely, and
such, above all, as let sell young virgins to the tormentors. And
thus ended our hope to save the Maid by taking captive the Duke of
Burgundy.

CHAPTER XXX--HOW NORMAN LESLIE TOOK SERVICE WITH THE ENGLISH

"What make we now?" I asked of Barthelemy Barrette, one day, after
the companies had scattered, as I have said, and we had gone back
into Compiegne. "What stroke may France now strike for the Maid?"
He hung his head and plucked at his beard, ere he spoke.

"To be as plain with you as my heart is with myself, Norman," he
answered at last, "deliverance, or hope of deliverance, see I none.
The English have the bird in the cage, and Rouen is not a strength
that can be taken by sudden onslaught. And, were it so, where is
our force, in midwinter? I rather put my faith, that can scarce
move mountains, in some subtle means, if any man might devise them."

"We cannot sit idle here," I said. "And for three long months there
will be no moving of armies in open field."

"And in three months these dogs of false French doctors of Paris
will have tried and condemned the Maid. For my part, I ride with my
handful of spears to the Loire. Perchance there is yet some hope in
the King."

"Then I ride with you, granted your goodwill, for I must needs to
Tours, and I have overmuch treasure in my wallet to ride alone."

Indeed, I was now a rich man, more by luck than by valour; and
though I said nought of it, I hoped that my long wooing might now
come to a happy end.

Barthelemy clasped hands gladly on that offer; and not to make a
long tale, he and his men were my escort to Tours, and thence he
rode to Sully to see the King.

I had no heart for glad surprises this time, but having sent on a
letter to my master, by a King's messenger who rode from Compiegne
ere we did, I was expected and welcomed by Elliot and my master,
with all the joy that might be, after our long severance. And in my
master's hands I laid my newly gotten gear, and heard privily from
him that, with his goodwill, I and his daughter might wed so soon as
she would.

"For she is pining with grief, and prayer, and fasting, and marriage
is the best remede for such maladies."

Of this grace I was right glad; yet Christmas went by and I dared
not speak, for Elliot seemed set on far other things than mirth, and
was ever and early in the churches, above all when service and
prayer were offered up for the Maid. She was very willing to hear
all the tale of the long siege, and her face, that was thin and wan,
unlike her bright countenance of old, flushed scarlet when she heard
how we had bearded and shamed the noble Duke of Burgundy, and what
words Xaintrailles had spoken concerning his nobleness.

"There is one true knight left in France!" she said, and fell silent
again.

Then, we being alone in the chamber, I tried to take her hand, but
she drew it away.

"My dear love," she said, "I know all that is in your heart, and all
my love that is in mine you know well. But in mine there is no care
for happiness and joy, and to speak as plain as a maiden may, I have
now no will to marry. While the Sister of the Saints lies in
duresse, or if she be unjustly slain, I have set up my rest to abide
unwed, for ever, as the Bride of Heaven. And, if the last evil
befall her, as well I deem it must, I shall withdraw me from the
world into the sisterhood of the Clarisses."

Had the great mid-beam of the roof fallen and smitten me, I could
not have been stricken more dumb and dead. My face showed what was
in my mind belike, for, looking fearfully and tenderly on me, she
took my hand between hers and cherished it.

"My love," I said at last, "you see in what case I am, that can
scarce speak for sorrow, after all I have ventured, and laboured,
and won, for you and for the Maid."

"And I," she answered, "being but a girl, can venture and give
nothing but my poor prayers; and if she now perish, then I must pray
the more continually for the good rest of her soul, and the
forgiveness of her enemies and false friends."

"Sure, she hath already the certain promise of Paradise, and even in
this world her life is with the Saints. And if men slay her body,
we need her prayers more than she needs ours."

But Elliot said no word, being very wilful.

"Consider what manner of friend the Maid is," I said, "who desires
nothing but joy and happy life to all whom she loves, as she loves
you. Verily, I am right well assured that, could she see us in this
hour, she would bid you be happy with me, and not choose penance for
love of her."

"If she herself bids me do as you desire," said Elliot at last,
"then I would not be disobedient to that Daughter of God."

Here I took some comfort, for now a thought came into my mind.

"But," said Elliot, "as we read of the rich man and Lazarus, between
her and us is a great gulf fixed, and none may come from her to us,
or from us to her."

"Elliot!" I said, "if either the Maid be delivered, or if she sends
you sure and certain tidings under her own hand that she wills you
to put off this humour, will you then be persuaded, and make no more
delay!"

"Indeed, if either of these miracles befall, or both, right gladly
will I obey both you and her. But now her Saints, methinks, have
left her, wearied by the wickedness of France."

"I ask no more," I answered, "for, Elliot, either the Maid shall be
free, or she shall send you this command, or you shall see my face
no more."

My purpose was now clear before me, even as I executed it, as shall
be seen.

"Indeed, if my vow must be kept, never may I again behold you; for
oh! my love, my heart would surely break in twain, being already
weak with grief and fasting, and weary with prayer."

Whereon she laid her kind arms about my neck, and, despite my
manhood, I wept no less than she.

For Holy Writ says well, that hope deferred maketh the heart sick;
and mine was sick unto death.

Of my resolve I spoke no word more to Elliot, lest her counsel
should change when she knew the jeopardy whereinto I was firmly
minded to go. And to my master I said no more than that I was
minded to ride to the Court, and for that end I turned into money a
part of my treasure, for money I should need more than arms.

One matter in especial, which I deemed should stand me in the
greatest stead, I purchased for gold of the pottinger at Tours, the
same who had nursed me after my wound. This draught I bestowed in a
silver phial, graven with strange signs, and I kept it ever close
and secret, for it was my chief mainstay.

Secretly as I wrought, yet I deem that my master had some
understanding of what was in my mind, though I told him nothing of
the words between me and Elliot. For I was in no way without hope
that, when the bitterness of her grief was overpast, Elliot might
change her counsel. And again, I would not have him devise and
dispute with her, as now, whereby I very well knew that she would be
but the more unhappy, and the more set on taking her own wilful way.
I therefore said no more than that it behoved me to see such
captains as were about the King.

Thereafter I bade them farewell, nor am I disposed to write
concerning what passed at the parting of Elliot and me. For thrice
ere now I had left her to pass into the mouth of war, but now I went
into other peril, and with fainter hope.

I did indeed ride to the Court, which was at Sully, and there I met,
as I desired, Barthelemy Barrette. He greeted me well, and was
richly clad, and prosperous to behold. But it gave me greater joy
that he spoke of some secret enterprise which should shortly be put
in hand, when the spring came.

"For I have good intelligence," he said, "that the Bastard of
Orleans will ride privily to Louviers with men-at-arms. Now
Louviers, where La Hire lies in garrison, is but seven leagues from
Rouen town, and what secret enterprise can he purpose there, save to
break the cage and set free the bird?"

In this hope I tarried long, intending to ride with the spears of
Barthelemy, and placing my trust on two knights so good and skilled
in war as La Hire and the Bastard, the Maid's old companions in
fight.

But the days waxed long, and it was March the thirteenth ere we rode
north, and already the doctors had begun to entrap the Maid with
their questions, whereof there could be but one end.

Without adventure very notable, riding much at night, through
forests and byways, we came to Louviers, where they received us
joyfully. For it was very well known that the English were minded
to besiege this town, that braved them so near their gates at Rouen,
and that they only held back till they had slain the Maid. While
she lived they dared not stir against us, knowing well that their
men feared to follow their flag.

Now, indeed, I was in good hope, but alas! there were long counsels
of the captains, there was much harrying of Normandy, and some
outlying bands of English were trapped, and prisoners were taken.
But of an assault on Rouen we heard no word, and, indeed, the
adventure was desperate, though, for the honour of France, I marvel
yet that it was not put to the touch.

"There is nought to be done," Barthelemy said to me; "I cannot take
Rouen with a handful of spears, and the captains will not stir."

"Then," said I, "farewell, for under the lilies I fight never again.
One chance remains, and I go to prove it."

"Man, you are mad," he answered me. "What desperate peril are you
minded to run?"

"I am minded to end this matter," I said. "My honour and my very
life stand upon it. Ask me not why, and swear that you will keep
this secret from all men, if you would do the last service to me,
and to Her, whom we both love. I tell you that, help me or hinder
me, I have no choice but this; yet so much I will say to you, that I
put myself in this jeopardy for my honour and the honour of
Scotland, and for my lady."

"The days are past for the old chivalry," he said; "but no more
words. I swear by St. Ouen to keep your counsel, and if more I can
do, without mere madness and risk out of all hope, I will do it."

"This you can do without risk. Let me have the accoutrements of one
of the Englishmen who lie in ward, and let me ride with your band at
daybreak to-morrow. It is easy to tell some feigned tale, when you
ride back without me."

"You will not ride into Rouen in English guise? They will
straightway hang you for a spy, and therein is little honour."

"My purpose is some deal subtler," I said, with a laugh, "but let me
keep my own counsel."

"So be it," said he, "a wilful man must have his way. And now I
drink to your better wisdom, and may you escape that rope on which
your heart seems to be set!"

I grasped his hand on it, and by point of day we were riding out
seawards. We made an onslaught on a village, burned a house or
twain, and seized certain wains of hay, so, in the confusion, I
slipped forward, and rode alone into a little wood. There I clad
myself in English guise, having carried the gear in a wallet on my
saddle-bow, and so pushed on, till at nightfall I came to a certain
little fishing-village. There, under cover of the dark, I
covenanted with a fisherman to set me across the Channel, I feigning
to be a deserter who was fleeing from the English army, for fear of
the Maid.

"I would well that I had to carry all the sort of you," said the
boat-master, for I had offered him my horse, and a great reward in
money, part down, and the other part to be paid when I set foot in
England. Nor did he make any tarrying, but, taking his nets on
board, as if he would be about his lawful business, set sail, with
his two sons for a crew. The east wind served us to a miracle, and,
after as fair a passage as might be, they landed me under cloud of
night not far from the great port of Winchelsea.

That night I slept none, but walking fast and warily, under cover of
a fog, I fetched a compass about, and ended by walking into the town
of Rye by the road from the north. Here I went straight to the best
inn of the place, and calling aloud for breakfast, I bade the drawer

Book of the day: