Part 1 out of 5
Prepared by David Reed firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc Vol. 1
by Mark Twain
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC
by THE SIEUR LOUIS DE CONTE
(her page and secretary)
In Two Volumes
Freely translated out of the ancient French into modern English
from the original unpublished manuscript in the National Archives
Book II -- IN COURT AND CAMP Continued
28 Joan Foretells Her Doom
29 Fierce Talbot Reconsiders
30 The Red Field of Patay
31 France Begins to Live Again
32 The Joyous News Flies Fast
33 Joan's Five Great Deeds
34 The Jests of the Burgundians
35 The Heir of France is Crowned
36 Joan Hears News from Home
37 Again to Arms
38 The King Cries "Forward!"
39 We Win, but the King Balks
40 Treachery Conquers Joan
41 The Maid Will March No More
Book III -- TRIAL AND MARTYRDOM
1 The Maid in Chains
2 Joan Sold to the English
3 Weaving the Net About Her
4 All Ready to Condemn
5 Fifty Experts Against a Novice
6 The Maid Baffles Her Persecutors
7 Craft That Was in Vain
8 Joan Tells of Her Visions
9 Her Sure Deliverance Foretold
10 The Inquisitors at Their Wit's End
11 The Court Reorganized for Assassination
12 Joan's Master-Stroke Diverted
13 The Third Trial Fails
14 Joan Struggles with Her Twelve Lies
15 Undaunted by Threat of Burning
16 Joan Stands Defiant Before the Rack
17 Supreme in Direst Peril
18 Condemned Yet Unafraid
19 Our Last Hopes of Rescue Fail
20 The Betrayal
21 Respited Only for Torture
22 Joan Gives the Fatal Answer
23 The Time Is at Hand
24 Joan the Martyr
Chapter 28 Joan Foretells Her Doom
THE TROOPS must have a rest. Two days would be allowed for
The morning of the 14th I was writing from Joan's dictation in a
small room which she sometimes used as a private office when she
wanted to get away from officials and their interruptions.
Catherine Boucher came in and sat down and said:
"Joan, dear, I want you to talk to me."
"Indeed, I am not sorry for that, but glad. What is in your mind?"
"This. I scarcely slept last night, for thinking of the dangers you
are running. The Paladin told me how you made the duke stand out
of the way when the cannon-balls were flying all about, and so
saved his life."
"Well, that was right, wasn't it?"
"Right? Yes; but you stayed there yourself. Why will you do like
that? It seems such a wanton risk."
"Oh, no, it was not so. I was not in any danger."
"How can you say that, Joan, with those deadly things flying all
Joan laughed, and tried to turn the subject, but Catherine persisted.
"It was horribly dangerous, and it could not be necessary to stay in
such a place. And you led an assault again. Joan, it is tempting
Providence. I want you to make me a promise. I want you to
promise me that you will let others lead the assaults, if there must
be assaults, and that you will take better care of yourself in those
dreadful battles. Will you?"
But Joan fought away from the promise and did not give it.
Catherine sat troubled and discontented awhile, then she said:
"Joan, are you going to be a soldier always? These wars are so
long--so long. They last forever and ever and ever."
There was a glad flash in Joan's eye as she cried:
"This campaign will do all the really hard work that is in front of it
in the next four days. The rest of it will be gentler--oh, far less
bloody. Yes, in four days France will gather another trophy like the
redemption of Orleans and make her second long step toward
Catherine started (and do did I); then she gazed long at Joan like
one in a trance, murmuring "four days--four days," as if to herself
and unconsciously. Finally she asked, in a low voice that had
something of awe in it:
"Joan, tell me--how is it that you know that? For you do know it, I
"Yes," said Joan, dreamily, "I know--I know. I shall strike--and
strike again. And before the fourth day is finished I shall strike yet
again." She became silent. We sat wondering and still. This was
for a whole minute, she looking at the floor and her lips moving
but uttering nothing. Then came these words, but hardly audible:
"And in a thousand years the English power in France will not rise
up from that blow."
It made my flesh creep. It was uncanny. She was in a trance
again--I could see it--just as she was that day in the pastures of
Domremy when she prophesied about us boys in the war and
afterward did not know that she had done it. She was not
conscious now; but Catherine did not know that, and so she said,
in a happy voice:
"Oh, I believe it, I believe it, and I am so glad! Then you will come
back and bide with us all your life long, and we will love you so,
and honor you!"
A scarcely perceptible spasm flitted across Joan's face, and the
dreamy voice muttered:
"Before two years are sped I shall die a cruel death!"
I sprang forward with a warning hand up. That is why Catherine
did not scream. She was going to do that--I saw it plainly. Then I
whispered her to slip out of the place, and say nothing of what had
happened. I said Joan was asleep--asleep and dreaming. Catherine
whispered back, and said:
"Oh, I am so grateful that it is only a dream! It sounded like
prophecy." And she was gone.
Like prophecy! I knew it was prophecy; and I sat down crying, as
knowing we should lose her. Soon she started, shivering slightly,
and came to herself, and looked around and saw me crying there,
and jumped out of her chair and ran to me all in a whirl of
sympathy and compassion, and put her hand on my head, and said:
"My poor boy! What is it? Look up and tell me."
I had to tell her a lie; I grieved to do it, but there was no other way.
I picked up an old letter from my table, written by Heaven knows
who, about some matter Heaven knows what, and told her I had
just gotten it from PŠre Fronte, and that in it it said the children's
Fairy Tree had been chopped down by some miscreant or other,
and-- I got no further. She snatched the letter from my hand and
searched it up and down and all over, turning it this way and that,
and sobbing great sobs, and the tears flowing down her cheeks,
and ejaculating all the time, "Oh, cruel, cruel! how could any be so
heartless? Ah, poor Arbre F‚e de Bourlemont gone--and we
children loved it so! Show me the place where it says it!"
And I, still lying, showed her the pretended fatal words on the
pretended fatal page, and she gazed at them through her tears, and
said she could see herself that they were hateful, ugly words--they
"had the very look of it."
Then we heard a strong voice down the corridor announcing:
"His majesty's messenger--with despatches for her Excellency the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of France!"
Chapter 29 Fierce Talbot Reconsiders
I KNEW she had seen the wisdom of the Tree. But when? I could
not know. Doubtless before she had lately told the King to use her,
for that she had but one year left to work in. It had not occurred to
me at the time, but the conviction came upon me now that at that
time she had already seen the Tree. It had brought her a welcome
message; that was plain, otherwise she could not have been so
joyous and light-hearted as she had been these latter days. The
death-warning had nothing dismal about it for her; no, it was
remission of exile, it was leave to come home.
Yes, she had seen the Tree. No one had taken the prophecy to heart
which she made to the King; and for a good reason, no doubt; no
one wanted to take it to heart; all wanted to banish it away and
forget it. And all had succeeded, and would go on to the end placid
and comfortable. All but me alone. I must carry my awful secret
without any to help me. A heavy load, a bitter burden; and would
cost me a daily heartbreak. She was to die; and so soon. I had
never dreamed of that. How could I, and she so strong and fresh
and young, and every day earning a new right to a peaceful and
honored old age? For at that time I though old age valuable. I do
not know why, but I thought so. All young people think it, I
believe, they being ignorant and full of superstitions. She had seen
the Tree. All that miserable night those ancient verses went
floating back and forth through my brain:
And when, in exile wand'ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse
of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!
But at dawn the bugles and the drums burst through the dreamy
hush of the morning, and it was turn out all! mount and ride. For
there was red work to be done.
We marched to Meung without halting. There we carried the
bridge by assault, and left a force to hold it, the rest of the army
marching away next morning toward Beaugency, where the lion
Talbot, the terror of the French, was in command. When we
arrived at that place, the English retired into the castle and we sat
down in the abandoned town.
Talbot was not at the moment present in person, for he had gone
away to watch for and welcome Fastolfe and his reinforcement of
five thousand men.
Joan placed her batteries and bombarded the castle till night. Then
some news came: Richemont, Constable of France, this long time
in disgrace with the King, largely because of the evil machinations
of La Tremouille and his party, was approaching with a large body
of men to offer his services to Joan--and very much she needed
them, now that Fastolfe was so close by. Richemont had wanted to
join us before, when we first marched on Orleans; but the foolish
King, slave of those paltry advisers of his, warned him to keep his
distance and refused all reconciliation with him.
I go into these details because they are important. Important
because they lead up to the exhibition of a new gift in Joan's
extraordinary mental make-up--statesmanship. It is a sufficiently
strange thing to find that great quality in an ignorant country-girl
of seventeen and a half, but she had it.
Joan was for receiving Richemont cordially, and so was La Hire
and the two young Lavals and other chiefs, but the
Lieutenant-General, d'Alen‡on, strenuously and stubbornly
opposed it. He said he had absolute orders from the King to deny
and defy Richemont, and that if they were overridden he would
leave the army. This would have been a heavy disaster, indeed. But
Joan set herself the task of persuading him that the salvation of
France took precedence of all minor things--even the commands of
a sceptered ass; and she accomplished it. She persuaded him to
disobey the King in the interest of the nation, and to be reconciled
to Count Richemont and welcome him. That was statesmanship;
and of the highest and soundest sort. Whatever thing men call
great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it.
In the early morning, June 17th, the scouts reported the approach
of Talbot and Fastolfe with Fastolfe's succoring force. Then the
drums beat to arms; and we set forth to meet the English, leaving
Richemont and his troops behind to watch the castle of Beaugency
and keep its garrison at home. By and by we came in sight of the
enemy. Fastolfe had tried to convince Talbot that it would be
wisest to retreat and not risk a battle with Joan at this time, but
distribute the new levies among the English strongholds of the
Loire, thus securing them against capture; then be patient and
wait--wait for more levies from Paris; let Joan exhaust her army
with fruitless daily skirmishing; then at the right time fall upon her
in resistless mass and annihilate her. He was a wise old
experienced general, was Fastolfe. But that fierce Talbot would
hear of no delay. He was in a rage over the punishment which the
Maid had inflicted upon him at Orleans and since, and he swore by
God and Saint George that he would have it out with her if he had
to fight her all alone. So Fastolfe yielded, though he said they were
now risking the loss of everything which the English had gained by
so many years' work and so many hard knocks.
The enemy had taken up a strong position, and were waiting, in
order of battle, with their archers to the front and a stockade before
Night was coming on. A messenger came from the English with a
rude defiance and an offer of battle. But Joan's dignity was not
ruffled, her bearing was not discomposed. She said to the herald:
"Go back and say it is too late to meet to-night; but to-morrow,
please God and our Lady, we will come to close quarters."
The night fell dark and rainy. It was that sort of light steady rain
which falls so softly and brings to one's spirit such serenity and
peace. About ten o'clock D'Alen‡on, the Bastard of Orleans, La
Hire, Pothon of Saintrailles, and two or three other generals came
to our headquarters tent, and sat down to discuss matters with
Joan. Some thought it was a pity that Joan had declined battle,
some thought not. Then Pothon asked her why she had declined it.
"There was more than one reason. These English are ours--they
cannot get away from us. Wherefore there is no need to take risks,
as at other times. The day was far spent. It is good to have much
time and the fair light of day when one's force is in a weakened
state--nine hundred of us yonder keeping the bridge of Meung
under the Marshal de Rais, fifteen hundred with the Constable of
France keeping the bridge and watching the castle of Beaugency."
"I grieve for this decision, Excellency, but it cannot be helped. And
the case will be the same the morrow, as to that."
Joan was walking up and down just then. She laughed her
affectionate, comrady laugh, and stopping before that old war-tiger
she put her small hand above his head and touched one of his
"Now tell me, wise man, which feather is it that I touch?"
"In sooth, Excellency, that I cannot."
"Name of God, Bastard, Bastard! you cannot tell me this small
thing, yet are bold to name a large one--telling us what is in the
stomach of the unborn morrow: that we shall not have those men.
Now it is my thought that they will be with us."
That made a stir. All wanted to know why she thought that. But La
Hire took the word and said:
"Let be. If she thinks it, that is enough. It will happen."
Then Pothon of Santrailles said:
"There were other reasons for declining battle, according to the
saying of your Excellency?"
"Yes. One was that we being weak and the day far gone, the battle
might not be decisive. When it is fought it must be decisive. And it
"God grant it, and amen. There were still other reasons?"
"One other--yes." She hesitated a moment, then said: "This was not
the day. To-morrow is the day. It is so written."
They were going to assail her with eager questionings, but she put
up her hand and prevented them. Then she said:
"It will be the most noble and beneficent victory that God has
vouchsafed for France at any time. I pray you question me not as to
whence or how I know this thing, but be content that it is so."
There was pleasure in every face, and conviction and high
confidence. A murmur of conversation broke out, but that was
interrupted by a messenger from the outposts who brought
news--namely, that for an hour there had been stir and movement
in the English camp of a sort unusual at such a time and with a
resting army, he said. Spies had been sent under cover of the rain
and darkness to inquire into it. They had just come back and
reported that large bodies of men had been dimly made out who
were slipping stealthily away in the direction of Meung.
The generals were very much surprised, as any might tell from
"It is a retreat," said Joan.
"It has that look," said D'Alen‡on.
"It certainly has," observed the Bastard and La Hire.
"It was not to be expected," said Louis de Bourbon, "but one can
divine the purpose of it."
"Yes," responded Joan. "Talbot has reflected. His rash brain has
cooled. He thinks to take the bridge of Meung and escape to the
other side of the river. He knows that this leaves his garrison of
Beaugency at the mercy of fortune, to escape our hands if it can;
but there is no other course if he would avoid this battle, and that
he also knows. But he shall not get the bridge. We will see to that."
"Yes," said D'Alen&ccecil;on, "we must follow him, and take care
of that matter. What of Beaugency?"
"Leave Beaugency to me, gentle duke; I will have it in two hours,
and at no cost of blood."
"It is true, Excellency. You will but need to deliver this news there
and receive the surrender."
"Yes. And I will be with you at Meung with the dawn, fetching the
Constable and his fifteen hundred; and when Talbot knows that
Beaugency has fallen it will have an effect upon him."
"By the mass, yes!" cried La Hire. "He will join his Meung garrison
to his army and break for Paris. Then we shall have our bridge
force with us again, along with our Beaugency watchers, and be
stronger for our great day's work by four-and-twenty hundred able
soldiers, as was here promised within the hour. Verily this
Englishman is doing our errands for us and saving us much blood
and trouble. Orders, Excellency--give us orders!"
"They are simple. Let the men rest three hours longer. At one
o'clock the advance-guard will march, under our command, with
Pothon of Saintrailles as second; the second division will follow at
two under the Lieutenant-General. Keep well in the rear of the
enemy, and see to it that you avoid an engagement. I will ride
under guard to Beaugency and make so quick work there that Ii
and the Constable of France will join you before dawn with his
She kept her word. Her guard mounted and we rode off through
the puttering rain, taking with us a captured English officer to
confirm Joan's news. We soon covered the journey and summoned
the castle. Richard Gu‚tin, Talbot's lieutenant, being convinced
that he and his five hundred men were left helpless, conceded that
it would be useless to try to hold out. He could not expect easy
terms, yet Joan granted them nevertheless. His garrison could keep
their horses and arms, and carry away property to the value of a
silver mark per man. They could go whither they pleased, but must
not take arms against France again under ten days.
Before dawn we were with our army again, and with us the
Constable and nearly all his men, for we left only a small garrison
in Beaugency castle. We heard the dull booming of cannon to the
front, and knew that Talbot was beginning his attack on the bridge.
But some time before it was yet light the sound ceased and we
heard it no more.
Gu‚tin had sent a messenger through our lines under a
safe-conduct given by Joan, to tell Talbot of the surrender. Of
course this poursuivant had arrived ahead of us. Talbot had held it
wisdom to turn now and retreat upon Paris. When daylight came
he had disappeared; and with him Lord Scales and the garrison of
What a harvest of English strongholds we had reaped in those
three days!--strongholds which had defied France with quite cool
confidence and plenty of it until we came.
Chapter 30 The Red Field of Patay
WHEN THE morning broke at last on that forever memorable 18th
of June, thee was no enemy discoverable anywhere, as I have said.
But that did not trouble me. I knew we should find him, and that
we should strike him; strike him the promised blow--the one from
which the English power in France would not rise up in a thousand
years, as Joan had said in her trance.
The enemy had plunged into the wide plains of La Beauce--a
roadless waste covered with bushes, with here and there bodies of
forest trees--a region where an army would be hidden from view in
a very little while. We found the trail in the soft wet earth and
followed it. It indicated an orderly march; no confusion, no panic.
But we had to be cautious. In such a piece of country we could
walk into an ambush without any trouble. Therefore Joan sent
bodies of cavalry ahead under La Hire, Pothon, and other captains,
to feel the way. Some of the other officers began to show
uneasiness; this sort of hide-and-go-seek business troubled them
and made their confidence a little shaky. Joan divined their state of
mind and cried out impetuously:
"Name of God, what would you? We must smite these English,
and we will. They shall not escape us. Though they were hung to
the clouds we would get them!"
By and by we were nearing Patay; it was about a league away.
Now at this time our reconnaissance, feeling its way in the bush,
frightened a deer, and it went bounding away and was out of sight
in a moment. Then hardly a minute later a dull great shout went up
in the distance toward Patay. It was the English soldiery. They had
been shut up in a garrison so long on moldy food that they could
not keep their delight to themselves when this fine fresh meat
came springing into their midst. Poor creature, it had wrought
damage to a nation which loved it well. For the French knew
where the English were now, whereas the English had no suspicion
of where the French were.
La Hire halted where he was, and sent back the tidings. Joan was
radiant with joy. The Duke d'Alen‡on said to her:
"Very well, we have found them; shall we fight them?"
"Have you good spurs, prince?"
"Why? Will they make us run away?"
"Nenni, en nom de Dieu! These English are ours--they are lost.
They will fly. Who overtakes them will need good spurs.
By the time we had come up with La Hire the English had
discovered our presence. Talbot's force was marching in three
bodies. First his advance-guard; then his artillery; then his
battle-corps a good way in the rear. He was now out of the bush
and in a fair open country. He at once posted his artillery, his
advance-guard, and five hundred picked archers along some
hedges where the French would be obliged to pass, and hoped to
hold this position till his battle-corps could come up. Sir John
Fastolfe urged the battle-corps into a gallop. Joan saw her
opportunity and ordered La Hire to advance--which La Hire
promptly did, launching his wild riders like a storm-wind, his
The duke and the Bastard wanted to follow, but Joan said:
So they waited--impatiently, and fidgeting in their saddles. But she
was ready--gazing straight before her, measuring, weighing,
calculating--by shades, minutes, fractions of minutes,
seconds--with all her great soul present, in eye, and set of head,
and noble pose of body--but patient, steady, master of
herself--master of herself and of the situation.
And yonder, receding, receding, plumes lifting and falling, lifting
and falling, streamed the thundering charge of La Hire's godless
crew, La Hire's great figure dominating it and his sword stretched
aloft like a flagstaff.
"Oh, Satan andhis Hellions, see them go!" Somebody muttered it
in deep admiration.
And now he was closing up--closing up on Fastolfe's rushing corps.
And now he struck it--struck it hard, and broke its order. It lifted
the duke and the Bastard in their saddles to see it; and they turned,
trembling with excitement, to Joan, saying:
But she put up her hand, still gazing, weighing, calculating, and
Fastolfe's hard-driven battle-corps raged on like an avalanche
toward the waiting advance-guard. Suddenly these conceived the
idea that it was flying in panic before Joan; and so in that instant it
broke and swarmed away in a mad panic itself, with Talbot
storming and cursing after it.
Now was the golden time. Joan drove her spurs home and waved
the advance with her sword. "Follow me!" she cried, and bent her
head to her horse's neck and sped away like the wind!
We went down into the confusion of that flying rout, and for three
long hours we cut and hacked and stabbed. At last the bugles sang
The Battle of Patay was won.
Joan of Arc dismounted, and stood surveying that awful field, lost
in thought. Presently she said:
"The praise is to God. He has smitten with a heavy hand this day."
After a little she lifted her face, and looking afar off, said, with the
manner of one who is thinking aloud, "In a thousand years--a
thousand years--the English power in France will not rise up from
this blow." She stood again a time thinking, then she turned toward
her grouped generals, and there was a glory in her face and a noble
light in her eye; and she said:
"Oh, friends, friends, do you know?--do you comprehend? France
is on the way to be free!"
"And had never been, but for Joan of Arc!" said La Hire, passing
before her and bowing low, the other following and doing
likewise; he muttering as he went, "I will say it though I be
damned for it." Then battalion after battalion of our victorious
army swung by, wildly cheering. And they shouted, "Live forever,
Maid of Orleans, live forever!" while Joan, smiling, stood at the
salute with her sword.
This was not the last time I saw the Maid of Orleans on the red
field of Patay. Toward the end of the day I came upon her where
the dead and dying lay stretched all about in heaps and winrows;
our men had mortally wounded an English prisoner who was too
poor to pay a ransom, and from a distance she had seen that cruel
thing done; and had galloped to the place and sent for a priest, and
now she was holding the head of her dying enemy in her lap, and
easing him to his death with comforting soft words, just as his
sister might have done; and the womanly tears running down her
face all the time. 
 Lord Ronald Gower (Joan of Arc, p. 82) says: "Michelet
discovered this story in the deposition of Joan of Arc's page, Louis
de Conte, who was probably an eye-witness of the scene." This is
true. It was a part of the testimony of the author of these "Personal
Recollections of Joan of Arc," given by him in the Rehabilitation
proceedings of 1456. -- TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 31 France Begins to Live Again
JOAN HAD said true: France was on the way to be free.
The war called the Hundred Years' War was very sick to-day. Sick
on its English side--for the very first time since its birth,
ninety-one years gone by.
Shall we judge battles by the numbers killed and the ruin wrought?
Or shall we not rather judge them by the results which flowed
from them? Any one will say that a battle is only truly great or
small according to its results. Yes, any one will grant that, for it is
Judged by results, Patay's place is with the few supremely great
and imposing battles that have been fought since the peoples of the
world first resorted to arms for the settlement of their quarrels. So
judged, it is even possible that Patay has no peer among that few
just mentioned, but stand alone, as the supremest of historic
conflicts. For when it began France lay gasping out the remnant of
an exhausted life, her case wholly hopeless in the view of all
political physicians; when it ended, three hours later, she was
convalescent. Convalescent, and nothing requisite but time and
ordinary nursing to bring her back to perfect health. The dullest
physician of them all could see this, and there was none to deny it.
Many death-sick nations have reached convalescence through a
series of battles, a procession of battles, a weary tale of wasting
conflicts stretching over years, but only one has reached it in a
single day and by a single battle. That nation is France, and that
Remember it and be proud of it; for you are French, and it is the
stateliest fact in the long annals of your country. There it stands,
with its head in the clouds! And when you grow up you will go on
pilgrimage to the field of Patay, and stand uncovered in the
presence of--what? A monument with its head in the clouds? Yes.
For all nations in all times have built monuments on their
battle-fields to keep green the memory of the perishable deed that
was wrought there and of the perishable name of him who wrought
it; and will France neglect Patay and Joan of Arc? Not for long.
And will she build a monument scaled to their rank as compared
with the world's other fields and heroes? Perhaps--if there be room
for it under the arch of the sky.
But let us look back a little, and consider certain strange and
impressive facts. The Hundred Years' War began in 1337. It raged
on and on, year after year and year after year; and at last England
stretched France prone with that fearful blow at Cr‚cy. But she
rose and struggled on, year after year, and at last again she went
down under another devastating blow--Poitiers. She gathered her
crippled strength once more, and the war raged on, and on, and
still on, year after year, decade after decade. Children were born,
grew up, married, died--the war raged on; their children in turn
grew up, married, died--the war raged on; their children, growing,
saw France struck down again; this time under the incredible
disaster of Agincourt--and still the war raged on, year after year,
and in time these chldren married in their turn.
France was a wreck, a ruin, a desolation. The half of it belonged to
England, with none to dispute or deny the truth; the other half
belonged to nobody--in three months would be flying the English
flag; the French King was making ready to throw away his crown
and flee beyond the seas.
Now came the ignorant country-maid out of her remote village and
confronted this hoary war, this all-consuming conflagration that
had swept the land for three generations. Then began the briefest
and most amazing campaign that is recorded in history. In seven
weeks it was finished. In seven weeks she hopelessly crippled that
gigantic war that was ninety-one years old. At Orleans she struck it
a staggering blow; on the field of Patay she broke its back.
Think of it. Yes, one can do that; but understand it? Ah, that is
another matter; none will ever be able to comprehend that
Seven weeks--with her and there a little bloodshed. Perhaps the
most of it, in any single fight, at Patay, where the English began
six thousand strong and left two thousand dead upon the field. It is
said and believed that in three battles alone--Cr‚cy, Poitiers, and
Agincourt--near a hundred thousand Frenchmen fell, without
counting the thousand other fights of that long war. The dead of
that war make a mournful long list--an interminable list. Of men
slain in the field the count goes by tens of thousands; of innocent
women and children slain by bitter hardship and hunger it goes by
that appalling term, millions.
It was an ogre, that war; an ogre that went about for near a hundred
years, crunching men and dripping blood from its jaws. And with
her little hand that child of seventeen struck him down; and yonder
he lies stretched on the field of Patay, and will not get up any more
while this old world lasts.
Chapter 32 The Joyous News Flies Fast
THE GREAT news of Patay was carried over the whole of France
in twenty hours, people said. I do not know as to that; but one
thing is sure, anyway: the moment a man got it he flew shouting
and glorifying God and told his neighbor; and that neighbor flew
with it to the next homestead; and so on and so on without resting
the word traveled; and when a man got it in the night, at what hour
soever, he jumped out of his bed and bore the blessed message
along. And the joy that went with it was like the light that flows
across the land when an eclipse is receding from the face of the
sun; and, indeed, you may say that France had lain in an eclipse
this long time; yes, buried in a black gloom which these beneficent
tidings were sweeping away now before the onrush of their white
The news beat the flying enemy to Yeuville, and the town rose
against its English masters and shut the gates against their
brethren. It flew to Mont Pipeau, to Saint Simon, and to this, that,
and the other English fortress; and straightway the garrison applied
the torch and took to the fields and the woods. A detachment of
our army occupied Meung and pillaged it.
When we reached Orleans that tow was as much as fifty times
insaner with joy than we had ever seen it before--which is saying
much. Night had just fallen, and the illuminations were on so
wonderful a scale that we seemed to plow through seas of fire; and
as to the noise--the hoarse cheering of the multitude, the
thundering of cannon, the clash of bells--indeed, there was never
anything like it. And everywhere rose a new cry that burst upon us
like a storm when the column entered the gates, and nevermore
ceased: "Welcome to Joan of Arc--way for the SAVIOR OF
FRANCE!" And there was another cry: "Cr‚cy is avenged! Poitiers
is avenged! Agincourt is avenged!--Patay shall live forever!"
Mad? Why, you never could imagine it in the world. The prisoners
were in the center of the column. When that came along and the
people caught sight of their masterful old enemy Talbot, that had
made them dance so long to his grim war-music, you may imagine
what the uproar was like if you can, for I can not describe it. They
were so glad to see him that presently they wanted to have him out
and hang him; so Joan had him brought up to the front to ride in
her protection. They made a striking pair.
Chapter 33 Joan's Five Great Deeds
YES, ORLEANS was in a delirium of felicity. She invited the
King, and made sumptuous preparations to receive him, but--he
didn't come. He was simply a serf at that time, and La Tremouille
was his master. Master and serf were visiting together at the
master's castle of Sully-sur-Loire.
At Beaugency Joan had engaged to bring about a reconciliation
between the Constable Richemont and the King. She took
Richemont to Sully-sur-Loire and made her promise good.
The great deeds of Joan of Arc are five:
1. The Raising of the Siege.
2. The Victory of Patay.
3. The Reconciliation at Sully-sur-Loire.
4. The Coronation of the King.
5. The Bloodless March.
We shall come to the Bloodless March presently (and the
Coronation). It was the victorious long march which Joan made
through the enemy's country from Gien to Rheims, and thence to
the gates of Paris, capturing every English town and fortress that
barred the road, from the beginning of the journey to the end of it;
and this by the mere force of her name, and without shedding a
drop of blood--perhaps the most extraordinary campaign in this
regard in history--this is the most glorious of her military exploits.
The Reconciliation was one of Joan's most important
achievements. No one else could have accomplished it; and, in
fact, no one else of high consequence had any disposition to try. In
brains, in scientific warfare, and in statesmanship the Constable
Richemont was the ablest man in France. His loyalty was sincere;
his probity was above suspicion--(and it made him sufficiently
conspicuous in that trivial and conscienceless Court).
In restoring Richemont to France, Joan made thoroughly secure the
successful completion of the great work which she had begun. She
had never seen Richemont until he came to her with his little army.
Was it not wonderful that at a glance she should know him for the
one man who could finish and perfect her work and establish it in
perpetuity? How was it that that child was able to do this? It was
because she had the "seeing eye," as one of our knights had once
said. Yes, she had that great gift--almost the highest and rarest that
has been granted to man. Nothing of an extraordinary sort was still
to be done, yet the remaining work could not safely be left to the
King's idiots; for it would require wise statesmanship and long and
patient though desultory hammering of the enemy. Now and then,
for a quarter of a century yet, there would be a little fighting to do,
and a handy man could carry that on with small disturbance to the
rest of the country; and little by little, and with progressive
certainty, the English would disappear from France.
And that happened. Under the influence of Richemont the King
became at a later time a man--a man, a king, a brave and capable
and determined soldier. Within six years after Patay he was
leading storming parties himself; fighting in fortress ditches up to
his waist in water, and climbing scaling-ladders under a furious
fire with a pluck that would have satisfied even Joan of Arc. In
time he and Richemont cleared away all the English; even from
regions where the people had been under their mastership for three
hundred years. In such regions wise and careful work was
necessary, for the English rule had been fair and kindly; and men
who have been ruled in that way are not always anxious for a
Which of Joan's five chief deeds shall we call the chiefest? It is my
thought that each in its turn was that. This is saying that, taken as a
whole, they equalized each other, and neither was then greater than
Do you perceive? Each was a stage in an ascent. To leave out one
of them would defeat the journey; to achieve one of them at the
wrong time and in the wrong place would have the same effect.
Consider the Coronation. As a masterpiece of diplomacy, where
can you find its superior in our history? Did the King suspect its
vast importance? No. Did his ministers? No. Did the astute
Bedford, representative of the English crown? No. An advantage
of incalculable importance was here under the eyes of the King
and of Bedford; the King could get it by a bold stroke, Bedford
could get it without an effort; but, being ignorant of its value,
neither of them put forth his hand. Of all the wise people in high
office in France, only one knew the priceless worth of this
neglected prize--the untaught child of seventeen, Joan of Arc--and
she had known it from the beginning as an essential detail of her
How did she know it? It was simple: she was a peasant. That tells
the whole story. She was of the people and knew the people; those
others moved in a loftier sphere and knew nothing much about
them. We make little account of that vague, formless, inert mass,
that mighty underlying force which we call "the people"--an
epithet which carries contempt with it. It is a strange attitude; for
at bottom we know that the throne which the people support
stands, and that when that support is removed nothing in this world
can save it.
Now, then, consider this fact, and observe its importance.
Whatever the parish priest believes his flock believes; they love
him, they revere him; he is their unfailing friend, their dauntless
protector, their comforter in sorrow, their helper in their day of
need; he has their whole confidence; what he tells them to do, that
they will do, with a blind and affectionate obedience, let it cost
what it may. Add these facts thoughtfully together, and what is the
sum? This: The parish priest governs the nation. What is the King,
then, if the parish priest withdraws his support and deny his
authority? Merely a shadow and no King; let him resign.
Do you get that idea? Then let us proceed. A priest is consecrated
to his office by the awful hand of God, laid upon him by his
appointed representative on earth. That consecration is final;
nothing can undo it, nothing can remove it. Neither the Pope nor
any other power can strip the priest of his office; God gave it, and
it is forever sacred and secure. The dull parish knows all this. To
priest and parish, whatsoever is anointed of God bears an office
whose authority can no longer be disputed or assailed. To the
parish priest, and to his subjects the nation, an uncrowned king is a
similitude of a person who has been named for holy orders but has
not been consecrated; he has no office, he has not been ordained,
another may be appointed to his place. In a word, an uncrowned
king is a doubtful king; but if God appoint him and His servant the
Bishop anoint him, the doubt is annihilated; the priest and the
parish are his loyal subjects straightway, and while he lives they
will recognize no king but him.
To Joan of Arc, the peasant-girl, Charles VII. was no King until he
was crowned; to her he was only the Dauphin; that is to say, the
heir. If I have ever made her call him King, it was a mistake; she
called him the Dauphin, and nothing else until after the
Coronation. It shows you as in a mirror--for Joan was a mirror in
which the lowly hosts of France were clearly reflected--that to all
that vast underlying force called "the people," he was no King but
only Dauphin before his crowning, and was indisputably and
irrevocably King after it.
Now you understand what a colossal move on the political
chess-board the Coronation was. Bedford realized this by and by,
and tried to patch up his mistake by crowning his King; but what
good could that do? None in the world.
Speaking of chess, Joan's great acts may be likened to that game.
Each move was made in its proper order, and it as great and
effective because it was made in its proper order and not out of it.
Each, at the time made, seemed the greatest move; but the final
result made them all recognizable as equally essential and equally
important. This is the game, as played:
1. Joan moves to Orleans and Patay--check.
2. Then moves the Reconciliation--but does not proclaim check, it
being a move for position, and to take effect later.
3. Next she moves the Coronation--check.
4. Next, the Bloodless March--check.
5. Final move (after her death), the reconciled Constable
Richemont to the French King's elbow--checkmate.
Chapter 34 The Jests of the Burgundians
THE CAMPAIGN of the Loire had as good as opened the road to
Rheims. There was no sufficient reason now why the Coronation
should not take place. The Coronation would complete the mission
which Joan had received from heaven, and then she would be
forever done with war, and would fly home to her mother and her
sheep, and never stir from the hearthstone and happiness any more.
That was her dream; and she could not rest, she was so impatient
to see it fulfilled. She became so possessed with this matter that I
began to lose faith in her two prophecies of her early death--and,
of course, when I found that faith wavering I encouraged it to
waver all the more.
The King was afraid to start to Rheims, because the road was
mile-posted with English fortresses, so to speak. Joan held them in
light esteem and not things to be afraid of in the existing modified
condition of English confidence.
And she was right. As it turned out, the march to Rheims was
nothing but a holiday excursion: Joan did not even take any
artillery along, she was so sure it would not be necessary. We
marched from Gien twelve thousand strong. This was the 29th of
June. The Maid rode by the side of the King; on his other side was
the Duke d'Alen‡on. After the duke followed three other princes of
the blood. After these followed the Bastard of Orleans, the
Marshal de Boussac, and the Admiral of France. After these came
La Hire, Saintrailles, Tremouille, and a long procession of knights
We rested three days before Auxerre. The city provisioned the
army, and a deputation waited upon the King, but we did not enter
Saint-Florentin opened its gates to the King.
On the 4th of July we reached Saint-Fal, and yonder lay Troyes
before us--a town which had a burning interest for us boys; for we
remembered how seven years before, in the pastures of Domremy,
the Sunflower came with his black flag and brought us the
shameful news of the Treaty of Troyes--that treaty which gave
France to England, and a daughter of our royal line in marriage to
the Butcher of Agincourt. That poor town was not to blame, of
course; yet we flushed hot with that old memory, and hoped there
would be a misunderstanding here, for we dealry wanted to storm
the place and burn it. It was powerfully garrisoned by English and
Burgundian soldiery, and was expecting reinforcements from
Paris. Before night we camped before its gates and made rough
work with a sortie which marched out against us.
Joan summoned Troyes to surrender. Its commandant, seeing that
she had no artillery, scoffed at the idea, and sent her a grossly
insulting reply. Five days we consulted and negotiated. No result.
The King was about to turn back now and give up. He was afraid
to go on, leaving this strong place in his rear. Then La Hire put in a
word, with a slap in it for some of his Majesty's advisers:
"The Maid of Orleans undertook this expedition of her own
motion; and it is my mind that it is her judgment that should be
followed here, and not that of any other, let him be of whatsoever
breed and standing he may."
There was wisdom and righteousness in that. So the King sent for
the Maid, and asked her how she thought the prospect looked. She
said, without any tone of doubt or question in her voice:
"In three days' time the place is ours."
The smug Chancellor put in a word now:
"If we were sure of it we would wait her six days."
"Six days, forsooth! Name of God, man, we will enter the gates
Then she mounted, and rode her lines, crying out:
"Make preparation--to your work, friends, to your work! We
assault at dawn!"
She worked hard that night, slaving away with her own hands like
a common soldier. She ordered fascines and fagots to be prepared
and thrown into the fosse, thereby to bridge it; and in this rough
labor she took a man's share.
At dawn she took her place at the head of the storming force and
the bugles blew the assault. At that moment a flag of truce was
flung to the breeze from the walls, and Troyes surrendered without
firing a shot.
The next day the King with Joan at his side and the Paladin
bearing her banner entered the town in state at the head of the
army. And a goodly army it was now, for it had been growing ever
bigger and bigger from the first.
And now a curious thing happened. By the terms of the treaty
made with the town the garrison of English and Burgundian
soldiery were to be allowed to carry away their "goods" with them.
This was well, for otherwise how would they buy the wherewithal
to live? Very well; these people were all to go out by the one gate,
and at the time set for them to depart we young fellows went to
that gate, along with the Dwarf, to see the march-out. Presently
here they came in an interminable file, the foot-soldiers in the
lead. As they approached one could see that each bore a burden of
a bulk and weight to sorely tax his strength; and we said among
ourselves, truly these folk are well off for poor common soldiers.
When they were come nearer, what do you think? Every rascal of
them had a French prisoner on his back! They were carrying away
their "goods," you see--their property--strictly according to the
permission granted by the treaty.
Now think how clever that was, how ingenious. What could a body
say? what could a body do? For certainly these people were within
their right. These prisoners were property; nobody could deny that.
My dears, if those had been English captives, conceive of the
richness of that booty! For English prisoners had been scarce and
precious for a hundred years; whereas it was a different matter
with French prisoners. They had been over-abundant for a century.
The possessor of a French prisoner did not hold him long for
ransom, as a rule, but presently killed him to save the cost of his
keep. This shows you how small was the value of such a
possession in those times. When we took Troyes a calf was worth
thirty francs, a sheep sixteen, a French prisoner eight. It was an
enormous price for those other animals--a price which naturally
seems incredible to you. It was the war, you see. It worked two
ways: it made meat dear and prisoners cheap.
Well, here were these poor Frenchmen being carried off. What
could we do? Very little of a permanent sort, but we did what we
could. We sent a messenger flying to Joan, and we and the French
guards halted the procession for a parley--to gain time, you see. A
big Burgundian lost his temper and swore a great oath that none
should stop him; he would go, and would take his prisoner with
him. But we blocked him off, and he saw that he was mistaken
about going--he couldn't do it. He exploded into the maddest
cursings and revilings, then, and, unlashing his prisoner from his
back, stood him up, all bound and helpless; then drew his knife,
and said to us with a light of sarcasting triumph in his eye:
"I may not carry him away, you say--yet he is mine, none will
dispute it. Since I may not convey him hence, this property of
mine, there is another way. Yes, I can kill him; not even the dullest
among you will question that right. Ah, you had not thought of
That poor starved fellow begged us with his piteous eyes to save
him; then spoke, and said he had a wife and little children at home.
Think how it wrung our heartstrings. But what could we do? The
Burgundian was within his right. We could only beg and plead for
the prisoner. Which we did. And the Burgundian enjoyed it. He
stayed his hand to hear more of it, and laugh at it. That stung. Then
the Dwarf said:
"Prithee, young sirs, let me beguile him; for when a matter
requiring permission is to the fore, I have indeed a gift in that sort,
as any will tell you that know me well. You smile; and that is
punishment for my vanity; and fairly earned, I grant you. Still, if I
may toy a little, just a little--" saying which he stepped to the
Burgundian and began a fair soft speech, all of goodly and gentle
tenor; and in the midst he mentioned the Maid; and was going on
to say how she out of her good heart would prize and praise this
compassionate deed which he was about to-- It was as far as he
got. The Burgundian burst into his smooth oration with an insult
leveled at Joan of Arc. We sprang forward, but the Dwarf, his face
all livid, brushed us aside and said, in a most grave and earnest
"I crave your patience. Am not I her guard of honor? This is my
And saying this he suddenly shot his right hand out and gripped the
great Burgundian by the throat, and so held him upright on his feet.
"You have insulted the Maid," he said; "and the Maid is France.
The tongue that does that earns a long furlough."
One heard the muffled cracking of bones. The Burgundian's eyes
began to protrude from their sockets and stare with a leaden
dullness at vacancy. The color deepened in his face and became an
opaque purple. His hands hung down limp, his body collapsed with
a shiver, every muscle relaxed its tension and ceased from its
function. The Dwarf took away his hand and the column of inert
mortality sank mushily to the ground.
We struck the bonds from the prisoner and told him he was free.
His crawling humbleness changed to frantic joy in a moment, and
his ghastly fear to a childish rage. He flew at that dead corpse and
kicked it, spat in its face, danced upon it, crammed mud into its
mouth, laughing, jeering, cursing, and volleying forth indecencies
and bestialities like a drunken fiend. It was a thing to be expected;
soldiering makes few saints. Many of the onlookers laughed,
others were indifferent, none was surprised. But presently in his
mad caperings the freed man capered within reach of the waiting
file, and another Burgundian promptly slipped a knife through his
neck, and down he went with a death-shriek, his brilliant artery
blood spurting ten feet as straight and bright as a ray of light.
There was a great burst of jolly laughter all around from friend and
foe alike; and thus closed one of the pleasantest incidents of my
checkered military life.
And now came Joan hurrying, and deeply troubled. She considered
the claim of the garrison, then said:
"You have right upon your side. It is plain. It was a careless word
to put in the treaty, and covers too much. But ye may not take
these poor men away. They are French, and I will not have it. The
King shall ransom them, every one. Wait till I send you word from
him; and hurt no hair of their heads; for I tell you, I who speak,
that that would cost you very dear."
That settled it. The prisoners were safe for one while, anyway.
Then she rode back eagerly and required that thing of the King,
and would listen to no paltering and no excuses. So the King told
her to have her way, and she rode straight back and bought the
captives free in his name and let them go.
Chapter 35 The Heir of France is Crowned
IT WAS here hat we saw again the Grand Master of the King's
Household, in whose castle Joan was guest when she tarried at
Chinon in those first days of her coming out of her own country.
She made him Bailiff of Troyes now by the King's permission.
And now we marched again; Chƒlons surrendered to us; and there
by Chƒlons in a talk, Joan, being asked if she had no fears for the
future, said yes, one--treachery. Who would believe it? who could
dream it? And yet in a sense it was prophecy. Truly, man is a
We marched, marched, kept on marching; and at last, on the 16th
of July, we came in sight of our goal, and saw the great
cathedraled towers of Rheims rise out of the distance! Huzza after
huzza swept the army from van to rear; and as for Joan of Arc,
there where she sat her horse gazing, clothed all in white armor,
dreamy, beautiful, and in her face a deep, deep joy, a joy not of
earth, oh, she was not flesh, she was a spirit! Her sublime mission
was closing--closing in flawless triumph. To-morrow she could
say, "It is finished--let me go free."
We camped, and the hurry and rush and turmoil of the grand
preparations began. The Archbishop and a great deputation
arrived; and after these came flock after flock, crowd after crowd,
of citizens and country-folk, hurrahing, in, with banners and
music, and flowed over the camp, one rejoicing inundation after
another, everybody drunk with happiness. And all night long
Rheims was hard at work, hammering away, decorating the town,
building triumphal arches and clothing the ancient cathedral
within and without in a glory of opulent splendors.
We moved betimes in the morning; the coronation ceremonies
would begin at nine and last five hours. We were aware that the
garrison of English and Burgundian soldiers had given up all
thought of resisting the Maid, and that we should find the gates
standing hospitably open and the whole city ready to welcome us
It was a delicious morning, brilliant with sunshine, but cool and
fresh and inspiring. The army was in great form, and fine to see, as
it uncoiled from its lair fold by fold, and stretched away on the
final march of the peaceful Coronation Campaign.
Joan, on her black horse, with the Lieutenant-General and the
personal staff grouped about her, took post for a final review and a
good-by; for she was not expecting to ever be a soldier again, or
ever serve with these or any other soldiers any more after this day.
The army knew this, and believed it was looking for the last time
upon the girlish face of its invincible little Chief, its pet, its pride,
its darling, whom it had ennobled in its private heart with
nobilities of its own creation, call her "Daughter of God," "Savior
of France," "Victory's Sweetheart," "The Page of Christ," together
with still softer titles which were simply na‹f and frank
endearments such as men are used to confer upon children whom
they love. And so one saw a new thing now; a thing bred of the
emotion that was present there on both sides. Always before, in the
march-past, the battalions had gone swinging by in a storm of
cheers, heads up and eyes flashing, the drums rolling, the bands
braying p‘ans of victory; but now there was nothing of that. But
for one impressive sound, one could have closed his eyes and
imagined himself in a world of the dead. That one sound was all
that visited the ear in the summer stillness--just that one sound--the
muffled tread of the marching host. As the serried masses drifted
by, the men put their right hands up to their temples, palms to the
front, in military salute, turning their eyes upon Joan's face in mute
God-bless-you and farewell, and keeping them there while they
could. They still kept their hands up in reverent salute many steps
after they had passed by. Every time Joan put her handkerchief to
her eyes you could see a little quiver of emotion crinkle along the
faces of the files.
The march-past after a victory is a thing to drive the heart mad
with jubilation; but this one was a thing to break it.
We rode now to the King's lodgins, which was the Archbishop's
country palace; and he was presently ready, and we galloped off
and took position at the head of the army. By this time the
country-people were arriving in multitudes from every direction
and massing themselves on both sides of the road to get sight of
Joan--just as had been done every day since our first day's march
began. Our march now lay through the grassy plain, and those
peasants made a dividing double border for that plain. They
stretched right down through it, a broad belt of bright colors on
each side of the road; for every peasant girl and woman in it had a
white jacket on her body and a crimson skirt on the rest of her.
Endless borders made of poppies and lilies stretching away in front
of us--that is what it looked like. And that is the kind of lane we
had been marching through all these days. Not a lane between
multitudinous flowers standing upright on their stems--no, these
flowers were always kneeling; kneeling, these human flowers, with
their hands and faces lifted toward Joan of Arc, and the grateful
tears streaming down. And all along, those closest to the road
hugged her feet and kissed them and laid their wet cheeks fondly
against them. I never, during all those days, saw any of either sex
stand while she passed, nor any man keep his head covered.
Afterward in the Great Trial these touching scenes were used as a
weapon against her. She had been made an object of adoration by
the people, and this was proof that she was a heretic--so claimed
that unjust court.
As we drew near the city the curving long sweep of ramparts and
towers was gay with fluttering flags and black with masses of
people; and all the air was vibrant with the crash of artillery and
gloomed with drifting clouds of smoke. We entered the gates in
state and moved in procession through the city, with all the guilds
and industries in holiday costume marching in our rear with their
banners; and all the route was hedged with a huzzaing crush of
people, and all the windows were full and all the roofs; and from
the balconies hung costly stuffs of rich colors; and the waving of
handkerchiefs, seen in perspective through a long vista, was like a
Joan's name had been introduced into the prayers of the
Church--an honor theretofore restricted to royalty. But she had a
dearer honor and an honor more to be proud of, from a humbler
source: the common people had had leaden medals struck which
bore her effigy and her escutcheon, and these they wore as charms.
One saw them everywhere.
From the Archbishop's Palace, where we halted, and where the
King and Joan were to lodge, the King sent to the Abbey Church of
St. Remi, which was over toward the gate by which we had entered
the city, for the Sainte Ampoule, or flask of holy oil. This oil was
not earthly oil; it was made in heaven; the flask also. The flask,
with the oil in it, was brought down from heaven by a dove. It was
sent down to St. Remi just as he was going to baptize King Clovis,
who had become a Christian. I know this to be true. I had known it
long before; for PŠre Fronte told me in Domremy. I cannot tell you
how strange and awful it made me feel when I saw that flask and
knew I was looking with my own eyes upon a thing which had
actually been in heave, a thing which had been seen by angels,
perhaps; and by God Himself of a certainty, for He sent it. And I
was looking upon it--I. At one time I could have touched it. But I
was afraid; for I could not know but that God had touched it. It is
most probable that He had.
From this flask Clovis had been anointed; and from it all the kings
of France had been anointed since. Yes, ever since the time of
Clovis, and that was nine hundred years. And so, as I have said,
that flask of holy oil was sent for, while we waited. A coronation
without that would not have been a coronation at all, in my belief.
Now in order to get the flask, a most ancient ceremonial had to be
gone through with; otherwise the Abb‚ of St. Remi, hereditary
guardian in perpetuity of the oil, would not deliver it. So, in
accordance with custom, the King deputed five great nobles to ride
in solemn state and richly armed and accoutered, they and their
steeds, to the Abbey Church as a guard of honor to the Archbishop
of Rheims and his canons, who were to bear the King's demand for
the oil. When the five great lords were ready to start, they knelt in
a row and put up their mailed hands before their faces, palm joined
to palm, and swore upon their lives to conduct the sacred vessel
safely, and safely restore it again to the Church of St. Remi after
the anointing of the King. The Archbishop and his subordinates,
thus nobly escorted, took their way to St. Remi. The Archbishop
was in grand costume, with his miter on his head and his cross in
his hand. At the door of St. Remi they halted and formed, to
receive the holy vial. Soon one heard the deep tones of the organ
and of chanting men; then one saw a long file of lights
approaching through the dim church. And so came the Abbot, in
his sacerdotal panoply, bearing the vial, with his people following
after. He delivered it, with solemn ceremonies, to the Archbishop;
then the march back began, and it was most impressive; for it
moved, the whole way, between two multitudes of men and
women who lay flat upon their faces and prayed in dumb silence
and in dread while that awful thing went by that had been in
This august company arrived at the great west door of the
cathedral; and as the Archbishop entered a noble anthem rose and
filled the vast building. The cathedral was packed with
people--people in thousands. Only a wide space down the center
had been kept free. Down this space walked the Archbishop and
his canons, and after them followed those five stately figures in
splendid harness, each bearing his feudal banner--and riding!
Oh, that was a magnificent thing to see. Riding down the
cavernous vastness of the building through the rich lights
streaming in long rays from the pictured windows--oh, there was
never anything so grand!
They rode clear to the choir--as much as four hundred feet from
the door, it was said. Then the Archbishop dismissed them, and
they made deep obeisance till their plumes touched their horses'
necks, then made those proud prancing and mincing and dancing
creatures go backward all the way to the door--which was pretty to
see, and graceful; then they stood them on their hind-feet and spun
them around and plunged away and disappeared.
For some minutes there was a deep hush, a waiting pause; a silence
so profound that it was as if all those packed thousands there were
steeped in dreamless slumber--why, you could even notice the
faintest sounds, like the drowsy buzzing of insects; then came a
mighty flood of rich strains from four hundred silver trumpets, and
then, framed in the pointed archway of the great west door,
appeared Joan and the King. They advanced slowly, side by side,
through a tempest of welcome--explosion after explosion of cheers
and cries, mingled with the deep thunders of the organ and rolling
tides of triumphant song from chanting choirs. Behind Joan and
the King came the Paladin and the Banner displayed; and a
majestic figure he was, and most proud and lofty in his bearing, for
he knew that the people were marking him and taking note of the
gorgeous state dress which covered his armor.
At his side was the Sire d'Albret, proxy for the Constable of
France, bearing the Sword of State.
After these, in order of rank, came a body royally attired
representing the lay peers of France; it consisted of three princes of
the blood, and La Tremouille and the young De Laval brothers.
These were followed by the representatives of the ecclesiastical
peers--the Archbishop of Rheims, and the Bishops of Laon,
Chƒlons, Orleans, and one other.
Behind these came the Grand Staff, all our great generals and
famous names, and everybody was eager to get a sight of them.
Through all the din one could hear shouts all along that told you
where two of them were: "Live the Bastard of Orleans!" "Satan La
The august procession reached its appointed place in time, and the
solemnities of the Coronation began. They were long and
imposing--with prayers, and anthems, and sermons, and everything
that is right for such occasions; and Joan was at the King's side all
these hours, with her Standard in her hand. But at last came the
grand act: the King took the oath, he was anointed with the sacred
oil; a splendid personage, followed by train-bearers and other
attendants, approached, bearing the Crown of France upon a
cushion, and kneeling offered it. The King seemed to hesitate--in
fact, did hesitate; for he put out his hand and then stopped with it
there in the air over the crown, the fingers in the attitude of taking
hold of it. But that was for only a moment--though a moment is a
notable something when it stops the heartbeat of twenty thousand
people and makes them catch their breath. Yes, only a moment;
then he caught Joan's eye, and she gave him a look with all the joy
of her thankful great soul in it; then he smiled, and took the Crown
of France in his hand, and right finely and right royally lifted it up
and set it upon his head.
Then what a crash there was! All about us cries and cheers, and the
chanting of the choirs and groaning of the organ; and outside the
clamoring of the bells and the booming of the cannon. The
fantastic dream, the incredible dream, the impossible dream of the
peasant-child stood fulfilled; the English power was broken, the
Heir of France was crowned.
She was like one transfigured, so divine was the joy that shone in
her face as she sank to her knees at the King's feet and looked up at
him through her tears. Her lips were quivering, and her words
came soft and low and broken:
"Now, O gentle King, is the pleasure of God accomplished
according to His command that you should come to Rheims and
receive the crown that belongeth of right to you, and unto none
other. My work which was given me to do is finished; give me
your peace, and let me go back to my mother, who is poor and old,
and has need of me."
The King raised her up, and there before all that host he praised
her great deeds in most noble terms; and there he confirmed her
nobility and titles, making her the equal of a count in rank, and
also appointed a household and officers for her according to her
dignity; and then he said:
"You have saved the crown. Speak--require--demand; and
whatsoever grace you ask it shall be granted, though it make the
kingdom poor to meet it."
Now that was fine, that was royal. Joan was on her knees again
straightway, and said:
"Then, O gentle King, if out of your compassion you will speak the
word, I pray you give commandment that my village, poor and
hard pressed by reason of war, may have its taxes remitted."
"It is so commanded. Say on."
"That is all."
"All? Nothing but that?"
"It is all. I have no other desire."
"But that is nothing--less than nothing. Ask--do not be afraid."
"Indeed, I cannot, gentle King. Do not press me. I will not have
aught else, but only this alone."
The King seemed nonplussed, and stood still a moment, as if
trying to comprehend and realize the full stature of this strange
unselfishness. Then he raised his head and said:
"Whe has one a kingdom and crowned its King; and all she asks
and all she will take is this poor grace--and even this is for others,
not for herself. And it is well; her act being proportioned to the
dignity of one who carries in her head and heart riches which
outvalue any that any King could add, though he gave his all. She
shall have her way. Now, therefore, it is decreed that from this day
forth Domremy, natal village of Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France,
called the Maid of Orleans, is freed from all taxation forever."
Whereat the silver horns blew a jubilant blast.
There, you see, she had had a vision of this very scene the time she
was in a trance in the pastures of Domremy and we asked her to
name to boon she would demand of the King if he should ever
chance to tell her she might claim one. But whether she had the
vision or not, this act showed that after all the dizzy grandeurs that
had come upon her, she was still the same simple, unselfish
creature that she was that day.
Yes, Charles VII. remitted those taxes "forever." Often the
gratitude of kings and nations fades and their promises are
forgotten or deliberately violated; but you, who are children of
France, should remember with pride that France has kept this one
faithfully. Sixty-three years have gone by since that day. The taxes
of the region wherein Domremy lies have been collected
sixty-three times since then, and all the villages of that region have
paid except that one--Domremy. The tax-gatherer never visits
Domremy. Domremy has long ago forgotten what that dread
sorrow-sowing apparition is like. Sixty-three tax-books have been
filed meantime, and they lie yonder with the other public records,
and any may see them that desire it. At the top of every page in the
sixty-three books stands the name of a village, and below that5
name its weary burden of taxation is figured out and displayed; in
the case of all save one. It is true, just as I tell you. In each of the
sixty-three books there is a page headed "Domremi," but under that
name not a figure appears. Where the figures should be, there are
three words written; and the same words have been written every
year for all these years; yes, it is a blank page, with always those
grateful words lettered across the face of it--a touching memorial.
__________________________________ | | | DOMREMI | | | |
RIEN--LA FUCELLE | |__________________________________|
"NOTHING--THE MAID OF ORLEANS." How brief it is; yet how
much it says! It is the nation speaking. You have the spectacle of
that unsentimental thing, a Government, making reverence to that
name and saying to its agent, "Uncover, and pass on; it is France
that commands." Yes, the promise has been kept; it will be kept
always; "forever" was the King's word.  At two o'clock in the
afternoon the ceremonies of the Coronation came at last to an end;
then the procession formed once more, with Joan and the King at
its head, and took up its solemn march through the midst of the
church, all instruments and all people making such clamor of
rejoicing noises as was, indeed, a marvel to hear. An so ended the
third of the great days of Joan's life. And how close together they
stand--May 8th, June 18th, July 17th!
 IT was faithfully kept during three hundred and sixty years and
more; then the over-confident octogenarian's prophecy failed.
During the tumult of the French Revolution the promise was
forgotten and the grace withdrawn. It has remained in disuse ever
since. Joan never asked to be remembered, but France has
remembered her with an inextinguishable love and reverence; Joan
never asked for a statue, but France has lavished them upon her;
Joan never asked for a church for Domremy, but France is building
one; Joan never asked for saintship, but even that is impending.
Everything which Joan of Arc did not ask for has been given her,
and with a noble profusion; but the one humble little thing which
she did ask for and get has been taken away from her. There is
something infinitely pathetic about this. France owes Domremy a
hundred years of taxes, and could hardly find a citizen within her
borders who would vote against the payment of the debt. -- NOTE
BY THE TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 36 Joan Hears News from Home
WE MOUNTED and rode, a spectacle to remember, a most noble
display of rich vestments and nodding plumes, and as we moved
between the banked multitudes they sank down all along abreast of
us as we advanced, like grain before the reaper, and kneeling
hailed with a rousing welcome the consecrated King and his
companion the Deliverer of France. But by and by when we had
paraded about the chief parts of the city and were come near to the
end of our course, we being now approaching the Archbishop's
palace, one saw on the right, hard by the inn that is called the
Zebra, a strange t--two men not kneeling but standing! Standing in
the front rank of the kneelers; unconscious, transfixed, staring.
Yes, and clothed in the coarse garb of the peasantry, these two.
Two halberdiers sprang at them in a fury to teach them better
manners; but just as they seized them Joan cried out "Forbear!"
and slid from her saddle and flung her arms about one of those
peasants, calling him by all manner of endearing names, and
sobbing. For it was her father; and the other was her uncle, Laxart.
The news flew everywhere, and shouts of welcome were raised,
and in just one little moment those two despised and unknown
plebeians were become famous and popular and envied, and
everybody was in a fever to get sight of them and be able to say, all
their lives long, that they had seen the father of Joan of Arc and the
brother of her mother. How easy it was for her to do miracles like
to this! She was like the sun; on whatsoever dim and humble
object her rays fell, that thing was straightway drowned in glory.
All graciously the King said:
"Bring them to me."
And she brought them; she radiant with happiness and affection,
they trembling and scared, with their caps in their shaking hands;
and there before all the world the King gave them his hand to kiss,
while the people gazed in envy and admiration; and he said to old
"Give God thanks for that you are father to this child, this
dispenser of immortalities. You who bear a name that will still live
in the mouths of men when all the race of kings has been
forgotten, it is not meet that you bare your head before the fleeting
fames and dignities of a day--cover yourself!" And truly he looked
right fine and princely when he said that. Then he gave order that
the Bailly of Rheims be brought; and when he was come, and
stood bent low and bare, the King said to him, "These two are
guests of France;" and bade him use them hospitably.
I may as well say now as later, that Papa D'Arc and Laxart were
stopping in that little Zebra inn, and that there they remained.
Finer quarters were offered them by the Bailly, also public
distinctions and brave entertainment; but they were frightened at
these projects, they being only humble and ignorant peasants; so
they begged off, and had peace. They could not have enjoyed such
things. Poor souls, they did not even know what to do with their
hands, and it took all their attention to keep from treading on
them. The Bailly did the best he could in the circumstances. He
made the innkeeper place a whole floor at their disposal, and told
him to provide everything they might desire, and charge all to the
city. Also the Bailly gave them a horse apiece and furnishings;
which so overwhelmed them with pride and delight and
astonishment that they couldn't speak a word; for in their lives they
had never dreamed of wealth like this, and could not believe, at
first, that the horses were real and would not dissolve to a mist and
blow away. They could not unglue their minds from those
grandeurs, and were always wrenching the conversation out of its
groove and dragging the matter of animals into it, so that they
could say "my horse" here, and "my horse" there and yonder and
all around, and taste the words and lick their chops over them, and
spread their legs and hitch their thumbs in their armpits, and feel
as the good God feels when He looks out on His fleets of
constellations plowing the awful deeps of space and reflects with
satisfaction that they are His--all His. Well, they were the happiest
old children one ever saw, and the simplest.
The city gave a grand banquet to the King and Joan in
mid-afternoon, and to the Court and the Grand Staff; and about the
middle of it PŠre D'Arc and Laxart were sent for, but would not
venture until it was promised that they might sit in a gallery and be
all by themselves and see all that was to be seen and yet be
unmolested. And so they sat there and looked down upon the
splendid spectacle, and were moved till the tears ran down their
cheeks to see the unbelievable honors that were paid to their small
darling, and how na‹vely serene and unafraid she sat there with
those consuming glories beating upon her.
But at last her serenity was broken up. Yes, it stood the strain of
the King's gracious speech; and of D'Alen‡on's praiseful words,
and the Bastard's; and even La Hire's thunder-blast, which took the
place by storm; but at last, as I have said, they brought a force to
bear which was too strong for her. For at the close the King put up
his hand to command silence, and so waited, with his hand up, till
every sound was dead and it was as if one could almost the
stillness, so profound it was. Then out of some remote corner of
that vast place there rose a plaintive voice, and in tones most
tender and sweet and rich came floating through that enchanted
hush our poor old simple song "L'Arbre F‚e le Bourlemont!" and
then Joan broke down and put her face in her hands and cried. Yes,
you see, all in a moment the pomps and grandeurs dissolved away
and she was a little child again herding her sheep with the tranquil
pastures stretched about her, and war and wounds and blood and
death and the mad frenzy and turmoil of battle a dream. Ah, that
shows you the power of music, that magician of magicians, who
lifts his wand and says his mysterious word and all things real pass
away and the phantoms of your mind walk before you clothed in
That was the King's invention, that sweet and dear surprise.
Indeed, he had fine things hidden away in his nature, though one
seldom got a glimpse of them, with that scheming Tremouille and
those others always standing in the light, and he so indolently
content to save himself fuss and argument and let them have their
At the fall of night we the Domremy contingent of the personal
staff were with the father and uncle at the inn, in their private
parlor, brewing generous drinks and breaking ground for a homely
talk about Domremy and the neighbors, when a large parcel
arrived from Joan to be kept till she came; and soon she came
herself and sent her guard away, saying she would take one of her
father's rooms and sleep under his roof, and so be at home again.
We of the staff rose and stood, as was meet, until she made us sit.
Then she turned and saw that the two old men had gotten up too,
and were standing in an embarrassed and unmilitary way; which
made her want to laugh, but she kept it in, as not wishing to hurt
them; and got them to their seats and snuggled down between
them, and took a hand of each of them upon her knees and nestled
her own hands in them, and said:
"Now we will nave no more ceremony, but be kin and playmates
as in other times; for I am done with the great wars now, and you
two will take me home with you, and I shall see--" She stopped,
and for a moment her happy face sobered, as if a doubt or a
presentiment had flitted through her mind; then it cleared again,
and she said, with a passionate yearning, "Oh, if the day were but
come and we could start!"
The old father was surprised, and said:
"Why, child, are you in earnest? Would you leave doing these
wonders that make you to be praised by everybody while there is
still so much glory to be won; and would you go out from this
grand comradeship with princes and generals to be a drudging
villager again and a nobody? It is not rational."
"No," said the uncle, Laxart, "it is amazing to hear, and indeed not
understandable. It is a stranger thing to hear her say she will stop
the soldiering that it was to hear her say she would begin it; and I
who speak to you can say in all truth that that was the strangest
word that ever I had heard till this day and hour. I would it could
"It is not difficult," said Joan. "I was not ever fond of wounds and
suffering, nor fitted by my nature to inflict them; and quarrelings
did always distress me, and noise and tumult were against my
liking, my disposition being toward peace and quietness, and love
for all things that have life; and being made like this, how could I
bear to think of wars and blood, and the pain that goes with them,
and the sorrow and mourning that follow after? But by his angels
God laid His great commands upon me, and could I disobey? I did
as I was bid. Did He command me to do many things? No; only
two: to raise the siege of Orleans, and crown the King at Rheims.
The task is finished, and I am free. Has ever a poor soldier fallen
in my sight, whether friend or foe, and I not felt the pain in my
own body, and the grief of his home-mates in my own heart? No,
not one; and, oh, it is such bliss to know that my release is won,
and that I shall not any more see these cruel things or suffer these
tortures of the mind again! Then why should I not go to my village
and be as I was before? It is heaven! and ye wonder that I desire it.
Ah, ye are men--just men! My mother would understand."
They didn't quite know what to say; so they sat still awhile,
looking pretty vacant. Then old D'Arc said:
"Yes, your mother--that is true. I never saw such a woman. She
worries, and worries, and worries; and wakes nights, and lies so,
thinking--that is, worrying; worrying about you. And when the
night storms go raging along, she moans and says, 'Ah, God pity
her, she is out in this with her poor wet sodliers.' And when the
lightning glares and the thunder crashes she wrings her hands and
trembles, saying, 'It is like the awful cannon and the flash, and
yonder somewhere she is riding down upon the spouting guns and I
not there to protect her."
"Ah, poor mother, it is pity, it is pity!"
"Yes, a most strange woman, as I have noticed a many times.
When there is news of a victory and all the village goes mad with
pride and joy, she rushes here and there in a maniacal frenzy till
she finds out the one only thing she cares to know--that you are
safe; then down she goes on her knees in the dirt and praises God
as long as there is any breath left in her body; and all on your
account, for she never mentions the battle once. And always she
says, 'Now it is over--now France is saved--now she will come
home'--and always is disappointed and goes about mourning."
"Don't, father! it breaks my heart. I will be so good to her when I
get home. I will do her work for her, and be her comfort, and she
shall not suffer any more through me."
There was some more talk of this sort, then Uncle Laxart said:
"You have done the will of God, dear, and are quits; it is true, and
none may deny it; but what of the King? You are his best soldier;
what if he command you to stay?"
That was a crusher--and sudden! It took Joan a moment or two to
recover from the shock of it; then she said, quite simply and
"The King is my Lord; I am his servant." She was silent and
thoughtful a little while, then she brightened up and said, cheerily,
"But let us drive such thoughts away--this is no time for them. Tell
me about home."
So the two old gossips talked and talked; talked about everything
and everybody in the village; and it was good to hear. Joan out of
her kindness tried to get us into the conversation, but that failed, of
course. She was the Commander-in-Chief, we were nobodies; her
name was the mightiest in France, we were invisible atoms; she
was the comrade of princes and heroes, we of the humble and
obscure; she held rank above all Personages and all Puissances
whatsoever in the whole earth, by right of baring her commission
direct from God. To put it in one word, she was JOAN OF
ARC--and when that is said, all is said. To us she was divine.
Between her and us lay the bridgeless abyss which that word
implies. We could not be familiar with her. No, you can see
yourselves that that would have been impossible.
And yet she was so human, too, and so good and kind and dear and
loving and cheery and charming and unspoiled and unaffected!
Those are all the words I think of now, but they are not enough;
no, they are too few and colorless and meager to tell it all, or tell
the half. Those simple old men didn't realize her; they couldn't;
they had never known any people but human beings, and so they
had no other standard to measure her by. To them, after their first
little shyness had worn off, she was just a girl--that was all. It was
amazing. It made one shiver, sometimes, to see how calm and easy
and comfortable they were in her presence, and hear them talk to
her exactly as they would have talked to any other girl in France.
Why, that simple old Laxart sat up there and droned out the most
tedious and empty tale one ever heard, and neither he nor Papa
D'Arc ever gave a thought to the badness of the etiquette of it, or
ever suspected that that foolish tale was anything but dignified and
valuable history. There was not an atom of value in it; and whilst
they thought it distressing and pathetic, it was in fact not pathetic
at all, but actually ridiculous. At least it seemed so to me, and it
seems so yet. Indeed, I know it was, because it made Joan laugh;
and the more sorrowful it got the more it made her laugh; and the
Paladin said that he could have laughed himself if she had not
been there, and No‰l Rainguesson said the same. It was about old
Laxart going to a funeral there at Domremy two or three weeks
back. He had spots all over his face and hands, and he got Joan to
rub some healing ointment on them, and while she was doing it,
and comforting him, and trying to say pitying things to him, he told
her how it happened. And first he asked her if she remembered
that black bull calf that she left behind when she came away, and
she said indeed she did, and he was a dear, and she loved him so,
and was he well?--and just drowned him in questions about that
creature. And he said it was a young bull now, and very frisky; and
he was to bear a principal hand at a funeral; and she said, "The
bull?" and he said, "No, myself"; but said the bull did take a hand,
but not because of his being invited, for he wasn't; but anyway he
was away over beyond the Fairy Tree, and fell asleep on the grass
with his Sunday funeral clothes on, and a long black rag on his hat
and hanging down his back; and when he woke he saw by the sun
how late it was, and not a moment to lose; and jumped up terribly
worried, and saw the young bull grazing there, and thought maybe
he could ride part way on him and gain time; so he tied a rope
around the bull's body to hold on by, and put a halter on him to
steer with, and jumped on and started; but it was all new to the
bull, and he was discontented with it, and scurried around and
bellowed and reared and pranced, and Uncle Laxart was satisfied,
and wanted to get off and go by the next bull or some other way
that was quieter, but he didn't dare try; and it was getting very
warm for him, too, and disturbing and wearisome, and not proper
for Sunday; but by and by the bull lost all his temper, and went
tearing down the slope with his tail in the air and blowing in the
most awful way; and just in the edge of the village he knocked
down some beehives, and the bees turned out and joined the
excursion, and soared along in a black cloud that nearly hid those
other two from sight, and prodded them both, and jabbed them and
speared them and spiked them, and made them bellow and shriek,
and shriek and bellow; and here they came roaring through the
village like a hurricane, and took the funeral procession right in
the center, and sent that section of it sprawling, and galloped over
it, and the rest scattered apart and fled screeching in every
direction, every person with a layer of bees on him, and not a rag
of that funeral left but the corpse; and finally the bull broke for the
river and jumped in, and when they fished Uncle Laxart out he was
nearly drowned, and his face looked like a pudding with raisins in
it. And then he turned around, this old simpleton, and looked a
long time in a dazed way at Joan where she had her face in a
cushion, dying, apparently, and says:
"What do you reckon she is laughing at?"
And old D'Arc stood looking at her the same way, sort of absently
scratching his head; but had to give it up, and said he didn't
know--"must have been something that happened when we weren't
Yes, both of those old people thought that that tale was pathetic;
whereas to my mind it was purely ridiculous, and not in any way
valuable to any one. It seemed so to me then, and it seems so to me
yet. And as for history, it does not resemble history; for the office
of history is to furnish serious and important facts that teach;
whereas this strange and useless event teaches nothing; nothing
that I can see, except not to ride a bull to a funeral; and surely no
reflecting person needs to be taught that.
Chapter 37 Again to Arms
NOW THESE were nobles, you know, by decree of the
King!--these precious old infants. But they did not realize it; they
could not be called conscious of it; it was an abstraction, a
phantom; to them it had no substance; their minds could not take
hold of it. No, they did not bother about their nobility; they lived in
their horses. The horses were solid; they were visible facts, and
would make a mighty stir in Domremy. Presently something was
said about the Coronation, and old D'Arc said it was going to be a
grand thing to be able to say, when they got home, that they were
present in the very town itself when it happened. Joan looked
troubled, and said:
"Ah, that reminds me. You were here and you didn't send me word.
In the town, indeed! Why, you could have sat with the other
nobles, and ben welcome; and could have looked upon the
crowning itself, and carried that home to tell. Ah, why did you use
me so, and send me no word?"
The old father was embarrassed, now, quite visibly embarrassed,
and had the air of one who does not quite know what to say. But
Joan was looking up in his face, her hands upon his
shoulders--waiting. He had to speak; so presently he drew her to
his breast, which was heaving with emotion; and he said, getting
out his words with difficulty:
"There, hide your face, child, and let your old father humble
himself and make his confession. I--I--don't you see, don't you
understand?--I could not know that these grandeurs would not turn
your young head--it would be only natural. I might shame you
before these great per--"
"And then I was afraid, as remembering that cruel thing I said once
in my sinful anger. Oh, appointed of God to be a soldier, and the
greatest in the land! and in my ignorant anger I said I would drown
you with my own hands if you unsexed yourself and brought
shame to your name and family. Ah, how could I ever have said it,
and you so good and dear and innocent! I was afraid; for I was
guilty. You understand it now, my child, and you forgive?"
Do you see? Even that poor groping old land-crab, with his skull
full of pulp, had pride. Isn't it wonderful? And more--he had
conscience; he had a sense of right and wrong, such as it was; he
was able to find remorse. It looks impossible, it looks incredible,
but it is not. I believe that some day it will be found out that
peasants are people. Yes, beings in a great many respects like
ourselves. And I believe that some day they will find this out,
too--and then! Well, then I think they will rise up and demand to
be regarded as part of the race, and that by consequence there will
be trouble. Whenever one sees in a book or in a king's
proclamation those words "the nation," they bring before us the
upper classes; only those; we know no other "nation"; for us and
the kings no other "nation" exists. But from the day that I saw old
D'Arc the peasant acting and feeling just as I should have acted
and felt myself, I have carried the conviction in my heart that our
peasants are not merely animals, beasts of burden put here by the
good God to produce food and comfort for the "nation," but
something more and better. You look incredulous. Well, that is
your training; it is the training of everybody; but as for me, I thank
that incident for giving me a better light, and I have never
Let me see--where was I? One's mind wanders around here and
there and yonder, when one is old. I think I said Joan comforted
him. Certainly, that is what she would do--there was no need to say
that. She coaxed him and petted him and caressed him, and laid
the memory of that old hard speech of his to rest. Laid it to rest
until she should be dead. Then he would remember it again--yes,
yes! Lord, how those things sting, and burn, and gnaw--the things
which we did against the innocent dead! And we say in our
anguish, "If they could only come back!" Which is all very well to
say, but, as far as I can see, it doesn't profit anything. In my
opinion the best way is not to do the thing in the first place. And I
am not alone in this; I have heard our two knights say the same
thing; and a man there in Orleans--no, I believe it was at
Beaugency, or one of those places--it seems more as if it was at
Beaugency than the others--this man said the same thing exactly;
almost the same words; a dark man with a cast in his eye and one
leg shorter than the other. His name was--was--it is singular that I
can't call that man's name; I had it in my mind only a moment ago,
and I know it begins with--no, I don't remember what it begins
with; but never mind, let it go; I will think of it presently, and then
I will tell you.
Well, pretty soon the old father wanted to know how Joan felt
when she was in the thick of a battle, with the bright blades
hacking and flashing all around her, and the blows rapping and
slatting on her shield, and blood gushing on her from the cloven
ghastly face and broken teeth of the neighbor at her elbow, and the
perilous sudden back surge of massed horses upon a person when
the front ranks give way before a heavy rush of the enemy, and
men tumble limp and groaning out of saddles all around, and
battle-flags falling from dead hands wipe across one's face and
hide the tossing turmoil a moment, and in the reeling and swaying
and laboring jumble one's horse's hoofs sink into soft substances
and shrieks of pain respond, and presently--panic! rush! swarm!
flight! and death and hell following after! And the old fellow got
ever so much excited; and strode up and down, his tongue going
like a mill, asking question after question and never waiting for an
answer; and finally he stood Joan up in the middle of the room and
stepped off and scanned her critically, and said:
"No--I don't understand it. You are so little. So little and slender.
When you had your armor on, to-day, it gave one a sort of notion
of it; but in these pretty silks and velvets, you are only a dainty
page, not a league-striding war-colossus, moving in clouds and
darkness and breathing smoke and thunder. I would God I might
see you at it and go tell your mother! That would help her sleep,
poor thing! Here--teach me the arts of the soldier, that I may
explain them to her."
And she did it. She gave him a pike, and put him through the
manual of arms; and made him do the steps, too. His marching was
incredibly awkward and slovenly, and so was his drill with the
pike; but he didn't know it, and was wonderfully pleased with
himself, and mightily excited and charmed with the ringing, crisp
words of command. I am obliged to say that if looking proud and
happy when one is marching were sufficient, he would have been
the perfect soldier.
And he wanted a lesson in sword-play, and got it. But of course
that was beyond him; he was too old. It was beautiful to see Joan
handle the foils, but the old man was a bad failure. He was afraid
of the things, and skipped and dodged and scrambled around like a
woman who has lost her mind on account of the arrival of a bat.
He was of no good as an exhibition. But if La Hire had only come
in, that would have been another matter. Those two fenced often; I
saw them many times. True, Joan was easily his master, but it
made a good show for all that, for La Hire was a grand swordsman.
What a swift creature Joan was! You would see her standing erect
with her ankle-bones together and her foil arched over her head,
the hilt in one hand and the button in the other--the old general
opposite, bent forward, left hand reposing on his back, his foil
advanced, slightly wiggling and squirming, his watching eye
boring straight into hers--and all of a sudden she would give a
spring forward, and back again; and there she was, with the foil
arched over her head as before. La Hire had been hit, but all that
the spectator saw of it was a something like a thin flash of light in
the air, but nothing distinct, nothing definite.
We kept the drinkables moving, for that would please the Bailly
and the landlord; and old Laxart and D'Arc got to feeling quite
comfortable, but without being what you could call tipsy. They got
out the presents which they had been buying to carry
home--humble things and cheap, but they would be fine there, and
welcome. And they gave to Joan a present from PŠre Fronte and
one from her mother--the one a little leaden image of the Holy
Virgin, the other half a yard of blue silk ribbon; and she was as
pleased as a child; and touched, too, as one could see plainly
enough. Yes, she kissed those poor things over and over again, as
if they had been something costly and wonderful; and she pinned
the Virgin on her doublet, and sent for her helmet and tied the
ribbon on that; first one way, then another; then a new way, then
another new way; and with each effort perching the helmet on her
hand and holding it off this way and that, and canting her head to
one side and then the other, examining the effect, as a bird does
when it has got a new bug. And she said she could almost wish she
was going to the wars again; for then she would fight with the
better courage, as having always with her something which her
mother's touch had blessed.
Old Laxart said he hoped she would go to the wars again, but
home first, for that all the people there were cruel anxious to see
her--and so he went on:
"They are proud of you, dear. Yes, prouder than any village ever
was of anybody before. And indeed it is right and rational; for it is
the first time a village has ever had anybody like you to be proud
of and call its own. And it is strange and beautiful how they try to
give your name to every creature that has a sex that is convenient.
It is but half a year since you began to be spoken of and left us, and
so it is surprising to see how many babies there are already in that
region that are named for you. First it was just Joan; then it was
Joan-Orleans; then Joan-Orleans-Beaugency-Patay; and now the
next ones will have a lot of towns and the Coronation added, of
course. Yes, and the animals the same. They know how you love
animals, and so they try to do you honor and show their love for
you by naming all those creatures after you; insomuch that if a
body should step out and call ''Joan of Arc--come!' 'there would be
a landslide of cats and all such things, each supposing it was the