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A HOLLOW TRUCE.
desirable settlement of all his affairs.
At last it was
arranged that this truce, which was to do so much, should only last till the Easter of the next year, 1430.
In the interval, Bedford hastened to Paris to meet Burgundy, but found himself so little popular, that the citizens required him to give up the Regency to the latter. He consented, reserving for himself, however, the government of Normandy. With that far-seeing policy for which Bedford was famed, he offered the Duke the investiture of Champagne. The possession of a province so desirable for its neighbourhood to Burgundy and the Low Countries, was eagerly accepted; and in requital, a promise was given once more to aid the English at the expiration of the truce.1
So ended the plan of Charles and his sagacious counsellors. Paris had been spared, when in the very grasp of the French, with a view to patch up a truce which held out but slight prospect of leading to a peace. Even the truce thus brought about was one but in name: for the English lost no opportunity of falling on the French; and the French, who still held several towns, fought, burnt, and ravaged the country in the possession of the English; and Bedford found leisure to send troops and reconquer most of the strongholds which the skill and courage of La Hire had won in Normandy.2
At this time the Duke D'Alençon was in his lordship
1 Barante, L'Histoire de France.
2 Monstrelet; Barante; History of France.
of Anjou; and seeing how the weakness of the King was ruining the kingdom, he resolved, if possible, at least to save for, him Normandy; and to assist this purpose, he raised troops wherever he could get them. Confident that, could he but have the Maid with him, thousands would flock to her standard, he went in person to the King and entreated him to allow Jeanne to serve with the army he was about to lead against the enemies of his kingdom. But the jealous wretches who, under the name of counsellors, set themselves to thwart all attempts that might be made to retrieve her credit after the disaster of Paris, prevailed with Charles to give a peremptory denial to Alençon's request. The Maid and Alençon were equally disappointed; they met but to bid farewell, and they never met again.
The life of inaction to which Jeanne was now compelled became burdensome to a spirit like hers. But it so happened that soon after, a brother-in-law of La Trémoille, the Lord D'Albret, who held the appointment of the King's Lieutenant in Berri, found himself greatly disquieted by the garrison of an English fortress on the upper course of the Loire. He by no means liked the idea of attacking it without support. It occurred to him, therefore, that here was an occasion where the services of the Maid might be useful, and he made known his wishes to La Trémoille. A word from the favourite procured the King's consent that she should assist his relative; but it was with great reluctance that Jeanne went forth with
HER HEROISM AT LE MONTIER.
D'Albret, after her aid had been refused to the Duke D'Alençon. She mounted her horse, however, and caused her standard to be borne before her.
The garrison of St. Pierre-le-Montier being numerous, the first assault of the French was repulsed with far more vigour than D'Albret expected; the assailants were compelled to draw back, and some to fly. The Maid dismounted, and with a few of her men kept her station unmoved, on the edge of the moat beneath the walls. 'Jeanne,' cried one of them, 'leave the spot! you will become a mark for the enemy; come away, you are alone!' 'I am not alone,' she answered; and taking off her helmet, whilst the hostile missiles from the ramparts were falling around her, she turned her noble countenance towards the fugitives, and exclaimed, as she looked upwards, 'There are with me fifty thousand of those who guard me: I am not alone! I shall not move hence till I have the fortress. Go, every one of you, collect faggots, hurdles, wood, anything; bridge the moat, and pass over!' The men, animated by her inspired looks and her enthusiasm, fancied that she really had a spiritual band, visible only to herself, in attendance upon her. They obeyed her commands, gathered faggots, filled the moat, passed over, escaladed the walls, and won the fortress.1 In despite of themselves, the envious were obliged to give some commendation to this exploit; and it induced Jeanne once more to press Charles to let her go and join Alençon,
1 Henri Martin, vol. vi. p. 220.
where she might render more essential service; but, as before, he refused her request.
Soon after, she was despatched with the same Lord D'Albret to beleaguer a town and fortress of some strength, La Charité. But from the smallness of the force to be sent on the expedition, and the insufficient supply of all the munitions of war, and even of food and clothes, the men were obliged to retreat, and leave the fortress unsubdued. It was suspected at the time that La Trémoille had purposely contrived the failure of the enterprise, in order to disgrace Jeanne in the opinion of the King, with whom of late she seemed to be regaining favour. It is impossible to determine if this suspicion were true or false, so much of falsehood and mystery marked the conduct of La Trémoille as long as he remained the chief favourite with his master.
Be this as it may, Charles retained the Maid that winter at Bourges, where he kept his Court, and where, in spite of envy and jealousy, she was held in much honour. In the December of the same year, 1429, Charles issued. the patent of nobility for herself, her family, and descendants. He also gave her a robe of cloth of gold, no doubt intended as its accompaniment, and suited to the rank he had legally bestowed upon her. It would have been interesting to know something of Jeanne's Court life, but little has come down to us. It is not improbable that the care taken to lodge her worthily, with the wife of one of the Queen's gentlemen, might have been suggested
by the Dowager Duchess Yolande, who had always been a friend to Jeanne. She was a princess of superior mind, a great observer, and quick in detecting an evil spirit in many who pretended to be good and loyal, and was ever desirous to bring forward the really good, who, either by their own modesty, or by the misrepresentation of others, were not truly known by Charles. A striking instance of this we have seen in Yolande's interference on behalf of the Constable Richmond. She was also a religious woman, and must have been pleased with Jeanne's ardour in the service of God: for whilst at Bourges the Maid never failed attending the services of the Church with her accustomed reverence; and, at all hours, delighted to wander through the aisles of the fine old cathedral, whose rich windows, pictured with saints. and angels, had for her an indescribable charm.
The poor ignorant people, and some who ought to have known better, fancied that Jeanne's powers were altogether supernatural, and begged her to touch little crosses and images, that they might wear them as guards against injury or evil spirits. The Maid discouraged this folly, assuring those who so solicited her that her touch was no better than their own for such purposes; and when some silly person said that he felt sure she could never be killed in battle, she replied, 'Have I not been wounded? My life is no more secure from death than that of any one who goes into action.'
We have before stated that, at her request, her native