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A Heroine of France by Evelyn Everett-Green

Tomorrow must be a day of thanksgiving and praise


Yes,

that was the name by which she was henceforth to be known. The city was wild with joy and pride thus to christen her. And she, having crossed by the bridge, as she had said, sat down for a brief while to that festal board which had been spread for her. But fatigue soon over-mastering her, she retired to her room, only pausing to look at us all and say:

"Tomorrow is the Lord's own day of rest. Remember that, my friends. Let there be no fighting, no pursuit, no martial exercise, whatever the foe may threaten or do. Tomorrow must be a day of thanksgiving and praise. Look to it that my words are obeyed."

They said she slept like a child that night; yet with the early light of day she was up, kneeling in the Cathedral with her household beside her, listening to the sound of chant and prayer, receiving the Holy Sacrament, the pledge of her Lord's love.

Not until we had returned from that first duty did she listen to what was told her anent the movements of the English. They were drawn up in battle array upon the north side of the river, spoke those who had gone to the battlements to look. Thinned as were their ranks, they were still a formidable host, and from the menace of their attitude it might be that they expected the arrival of reinforcements. Would it not be well, spoke La Hire, to go forth against them at once, whilst the soldiers' hearts were flushed with victory, whilst

the memory of yesterday's triumphs was green within them?

But the Maid, hitherto all in favour of the most dashing and daring policy, answered now, with a shake of the head:

"It is Sunday, my Generals," she replied; "the day of my Lord. The day He has hallowed to His service."

She paused a moment, and added, quite gently, and without reproach, "Had you acted as I did counsel, the English would now have had no footing on the north side of the river; they must needs have fled altogether from the neighbourhood of the city. Nevertheless, my Lord is merciful. He helps, though men hinder His designs. Let no man stir forth with carnal weapons against the foe this day. We will use other means to vanquish them."

Then turning to me, she bid me go to the Bishop, and ask him to give her audience; and shortly she was ushered into his presence, and we waited long for her to reappear.

How shall I tell of the wonderful scene which the sun looked down upon that bright May morning, when the purpose of the Maid became fully revealed to us? Even now it seems rather as a dream, than as an incident in a terrible war.

Out upon the level plain, in full sight of the city, in full view of the serried ranks of the English army, a great white altar was set up. The army from Orleans marched out and stood bareheaded beneath the walls, unarmed by order of the Maid, save for the small weapon every man habitually carried at his belt, citizen as well as soldier. The townspeople flocked to the walls, or out into the plain, as pleased them best; and from the Renart Gate there issued forth a grave and sumptuous procession; the Bishop in his vestments, accompanied by all the ecclesiastics within the city walls, each of them robed, attended by acolytes swinging censers, the incense cloud ascending through the sunny air, tapers swaying in the breeze, their light extinguished by the brilliance of the sunshine.

The Maid in her white tunic, with a white mantle over her shoulders, followed with bent head, leading the little Charlotte by the hand succeeded by her household.


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