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A Heroine of France by Evelyn Everett-Green

Thou shalt not escape unscathed in warfare


"And

then it was that my voices asked of me: 'Jeanne, hast thou no fear?'

"And I answered without pause, 'I fear nothing now.'

"Then St. Catherine herself suddenly appeared to me in a great white light and said: 'Child, thou art highly favoured of heaven; but the flesh is easily puffed up. And for this cause, and because it may be well that thou thyself and all men shall know that thou art but human flesh and blood, thou shalt not escape unscathed in warfare; but thou too shalt feel the sting of fiery dart, and know the scald of flowing blood.'

"I bowed my head and made answer I would bear whatever my Lord thought fit to lay upon me; and I asked if I might know when this thing would happen. It was not told me then; but later it was revealed to me; and I know that upon the seventh day of May I shall be wounded--" and she touched her right shoulder as she spoke, just below the neck.

"But what matter will that be, when the siege of Orleans shall be raised?"

Her face was aglow; nothing could touch her joy, not the insults of the proud Generals, nor the knowledge of coming pain for herself. Her thought was all of the mission entrusted to her; and so, though thwarted and set aside, she showed no petty anger, dreamed not of any paltry vengeance such as others might have dealt the soldiers, by refusing to march with them

on the morrow. Oh, no; hurt she might be--indeed we knew she was--her pain being for the dishonour done her Lord in this disrespect of His messenger; but no thought of reprisal entered her head. She rose from her seat, and lifted the little Charlotte in her strong young arms.

"Gentlemen, let us early to rest," she said, holding her head proudly, "for tomorrow a great work shall be done, and we must all have our share in it."

CHAPTER XII. HOW THE MAID RAISED THE SIEGE.

To tell the tale of how Les Augustins was taken is but to tell again the tale of St Loup.

I know not precisely what instructions the lesser officers received, nor what they told their men. But whether from preconcerted arrangement that the attack was only to be a feint, or whether from the dash and energy of the English, it appeared at first as though the tide of war was rolling back in its old track, and that the prowess of the English as destined to win the day.

For one thing the assault was commenced before the Maid had crossed the river and could put herself at the head of the men. A large body of troops had been transported to the south side in boats during the night, under cover of darkness; and this was all very well; but they should have waited hen daylight came for the Maid to march at their head, instead of which they sought to rush the fortress before ever she had appeared at all; and when we arrived at the river's bank, it was to see a furious battle raging round the base of Les Augustins, and ere we were half across the river, we saw only too plainly that the French were being badly beaten, were fleeing in all directions from the pursuing foe, and were making for the river bank once more as fast as their legs could carry them.


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