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A Heroine of France by Evelyn Everett-Green

Order your army to assault this city of Troyes


There

was a grave dignity about her as she entered, which sat impressively upon her young face, so fair and sweet and gentle. She knew that timid counsels were being held, and that she, the Commander-in-Chief of the army, was being set aside--the Messenger from the Lord was being ignored. Not for herself, but for Him was her spirit moved.

The Archbishop with much circumlocution told her of the difficulty in which the King's Council was placed, and would have discoursed for long upon the situation, only that in his first pause the Maid spoke, addressing herself to the King:

"Shall I be believed if I speak my counsel?" she asked.

"You will be believed according as you speak," answered the King, thoroughly uneasy, as he ever was, when torn in twain by the multitude of counsellors with whom he must needs surround himself, though his heart ever inclined towards the Maid.

"I speak that which my Lord gives me to speak," she answered, her wonderful eyes full upon the King. "Shall I be believed?"

"If you speak that which is reasonable and profitable, I will certainly believe you," he answered, still uneasy beneath her look.

"Shall I be believed?" she questioned a third time, and there was a fire in her eyes which seemed to leap out and scathe the pusillanimous monarch as he sat quaking

in his Council.

"Speak, Maiden," he cried out then, "I at least will believe!"

"Then, noble Dauphin," she cried, "order your army to assault this city of Troyes, where such despite has been done you, and hold no more councils; for my Lord has told me that within three days I shall lead you into the town, and false Burgundy and proud England shall there be overthrown!"

"Pouf!" cried the Chancellor, one of the Maid's worst foes, "if there was a chance of doing such a thing in six days we would willingly wait; but--"

He stopped suddenly--none knew why, save that the Maid's eyes were fixed full upon him, and in those eyes was that strange shining light which some of us knew so well. She did not speak to him, but when his voice suddenly wavered and broke, she addressed herself to the King, speaking as one who repeats a message.

"You shall be master of the city of Troyes, noble Dauphin, not in six days--but tomorrow."

And even as she spoke, without waiting for any response, she turned and went forth, walking with her head well up, and her eyes fixed straight before her, yet as one who walks in sleep, and pays no heed to what lies before him. She called for her horse; and leaping into the saddle, rode out bareheaded in the summer sun to the camp where the soldiers lay, in doubt and wonderment at this delay; and as they sprang up to a man at sight of her, and broke into the acclamations which always greeted her appearance amongst them, she lifted up her clear ringing voice and cried:

"Be ready, my children, against the morrow, confess your sins, make your peace with God and man. For tomorrow He will lead you victorious into yonder frowning city, and not a hair of your heads shall suffer!"

They crowded about her, filling the air with shouts of triumph; they clamoured to be led at once against the grim frowning walls. I verily believe, had she put herself at their head then and there, that nothing could have withstood the elan of their attack; but the Maid received her orders from a source we knew not of, and fleshly pride never tempted her to swerve from the appointed path. She smiled at the enthusiasm of the men, but she shook her head gently and firmly.


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