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SHE GOES TO SEEK THE KING.
clothes, as best fitting the resolution she had taken, and more appropriate to encounter the dangers to which she must be exposed in the way. Her uncle and a friend subscribed and bought her a horse.
Thus equipped, about the end of Lent 1429 she set out on her singular and perilous journey, to wait upon the Dauphin, then residing at Chinon. She was attended by six persons, -namely, John de Metz, Bertrand de Polongi, the messenger returned from Charles, an archer, and two varlets or servants.
Baudricourt's adieu was not encouraging. “Go, he said ; 'Go, and let what will come of it.'
The sympathy of the inhabitants of Vaucouleurs was generously and touchingly expressed. They pitied that young and devout creature, who from a sense of duty was about to throw herself in the way of so much unknown danger. Many wept as they bade her ‘God-speed.'
‘Do not pity me,' said Jeanne as she turned her horse at the head of her little escort on the road for France. • It was for this enterprise that I was born.'1
1 Mémoires de la Pucelle; Monstrelet; Barante; Henri Martin ; History of France in Universal History; Dictionnaire Historique ; Précis de L'Histoire de France; Hollingshed ; Florent d'Illiers.
The Maid's Difficulties, and Dangers of the Journey-rests at Fierbois
in Touraine-Charles at Chinon with his dispirited Court-considers his Cause desperate - Jeanne reaches Chinon — Charles doubts if to admit her—La Trémoille persuades him not—Yolande advises him to see her—Castle of Chinon- Jeanne passes within the Gates—the Guard's profane Speech - her Prediction-his Death-Charles assumes the Disguise of one of his Nobles-Jeanne picks him out-tells him his Secret—his Surprise-Jeanne's modest Conduct at Court-her Feats of Arms—she becomes a Favourite with the Duchess Yolande—her Humility-excites the Jealousy of many about the King—she is sent to Poitiers---examined by the Parliament and learned Doctors-pronounced to be good, worthy to be trusted, and sent by God- the Fallacy of the Story of her having been a Servant at an Inn.
HE way to Chinon was long, dreary, and full
of danger; the country to be passed for the greater part being in the hands of the English,
and swarming with banditti. Jeanne and her little troop had to make forced marches, sometimes by night, to escape falling into the hands of these men. At others they had to find their way along paths almost impracticable, to cross rivers and streams rendered perilous by the winter floods, to find rest in outhouses or huts, and not unfrequently on the ground; and such was the distress ARRIVAL AT FIERBOIS.
of the country, that the villages could scarcely supply a scanty meal of bread, chestnuts, and wine.
But nothing dismayed, nothing repulsed Jeanne; she would go forward, and achieve the enterprise she had so much at heart. Her spirits were never depressed, her confidence never shaken. "God was with her,” she said ; “what, then, need she fear?' Her courage was inspiring ; and her little band, who at the first felt doubt and hesitation, were not slow to gain resolution by her example.
One of the most remarkable traits in the character of Jeanne, was that of the power she gained and exercised, over others. There was a fascination about her; it tempered her manner, naturally disposed to abruptness; and, combined with the firmness of her purpose and her noble religious trust, inspired a feeling of interest and respect even among the reckless men-at-arms. In this, the first trial of her authority during her adventurous journey, her word was law to all about her.
In every town where Jeanne halted she sought the church, and induced her companions to join with her in thankfulness for their safety. When at Fierbois in Touraine, a place of great resort with pilgrims, the church being dedicated to her favourite St. Catherine, she devoutly visited her shrine; and having done so, sent on the messenger to learn when her Prince desired she should move forward to his presence. Charles was at Chinon with his small and dispirited
Mémoires de la Pucelle.
court, daily receiving news the most disastrous; and more especially, that the people of Orleans, who so far had bravely held out, were on the very verge of famine and despair. To the human view, Charles's cause looked desperate. His own mother, the wicked Isabella, had leagued with his enemies against him ; and wherever the few who remained faithful to him had lately encountered the English, they were defeated. But Charles had with him one true and sound-judging friend, his wife's mother, Yolande Queen of Sicily. She it was who had given her support to the Constable, Richmond, in opposition to all the attempts of the selfish and envious to poison the mind of the King against the ablest man, military or political, who had ever served him.
La Trémoille and the Archbishop of Rheims were at the head of the faction. Little did they care about the fate of France, so long as they could preserve the spoils they had accumulated under the indolent rule and misgoverned state of their master. These men, corrupt to the last degree, were so mean in their envy as to feel jealous of the maid, whose surprising story had reached them by common fame ; and they did their utmost to prevail with Charles not to receive her. But Yolande, governed by better feelings, took advantage of the depressed spirits of her son-in-law to persuade him to admit the maid, wisely judging that possibly she might be the means to raise a popular enthusiasm for his service; and she drew from him an order to bring Jeanne at once to his presence.
AN INCIDENT AT CHINON.
That Gothic pile, the Castle of Chinon, situated in the valley of the Loire between Tours and Saumur, still exists to add the charm of locality to the recollection of one of the most memorable events in French history—the introduction of the maid to Charles vii. in the noble hall of the picturesque old Castle. The hall is a ruin; but the entrance gate of the city still stands, flanked by two stupendous and machicolated towers, even now formidable enough to show what must have been their strength and importance in the days of mediæval warfare. Beneath that stern portal (overhung by the iron-spiked portcullis, showing its teeth like a savage dog ready to fix its fangs upon the foe), Jeanne, followed by her little troop, passed on, as the envoy of Providence to the true but disowned monarch of a mighty realm. The disorganized state of the royal troops was apparent, as on passing the gate a soldier who kept guard saluted Jeanne with a ribald jest and a blasphemous expression. 'Oh, my God!' she exclaimed, looking at the man with compassion, 'you deny your Maker, and are so near your own death.' An hour after, the man accidentally fell into the moat and was drowned.
Jeanne was not at once allowed to see the King. She was sent back to a hostelry in the town; and some days elapsed before the Council made up their minds what to do about her, except that they sent a deputation to question her and hear her account of herself. The report was so favourable, that, although Charles again hesitated, at length a day was fixed to give her audience.