Jeanne had conquered. On the same night, while Orleans celebrated the victory of the Tourelles, Talbot and the English leaders held a council of war and decided to abandon the siege. They had yet several strong bastiles, with a sufficient supply of food and munitions, and were thus in a position to await reinforcements promised by Bedford. It was hard to give up, after a defeat so humiliating to their pride and wounding to their military prestige—to lose the prize for which they had spent so much blood and treasure during the long investment of Orleans. But they perceived that Jeanne had broken the spirit of the common soldiers, and even the chiefs were unable to think of her without a tinge of superstitious awe. The fate of Glansdale had strongly affected them—in short, Jeanne had put upon them a charm or spell which they despaired of overcoming. I would give something to know what Talbot said on this occasion—the brave and silent soldier; it would be worth a great part of the traditions.
Next morning, May 8—the fite day of Sainte Jeanne d'Arc—the English came forth from their several bastiles and drew up in battle array before the French. This was a demonstration to "save their face," rather than a genuine deft. Now the French soldiers, though unprepared, were about to accept the
challenge, when Jeanne forbade them. She divined the purpose of the enemy; and, besides, she was averse to fighting on her Lord's day. "In the name of God, let them go," she said; "it is not His pleasure that we should give them battle to-day. We will have them another time."
The English departed, no whit unwillingly as we may believe, and Orleans formally celebrated its deliverance, as it has since done annually, with few omissions. Indeed, the rejoicings were kept up during several days, but the king did not come to participate in them, though pressed by his loyal people. La Tremoille and Regnault de Chartres found means to dissuade him. The deliverance of Orleans gave them no pleasure, secretly bound as they were to the policies of Philip the Shifty; besides that, it had elevated the Maid—that interloping sans-sou-to a pinnacle of glory. Their attitude, fraught with so much malice toward her, was not undivined by Jeanne; it was, in truth, part of the price of glory which from this time forward she was bound to pay.
However, Charles was duly impressed by the great events at Orleans, and in the first effusion of wonder and gratitude, gave thanks to God for having sent him the help of this virgin less earthly than angelic. He commanded thanksgivings in the churches, processions, etc. The joy of Orleans was thus extended to points as far distant as Narbonne and Carcassonne.
Dost thou know the lovely country of Touraine, gentle reader—garden of France, as it is happily
named? If not, then art thou to be envied, since a paradise awaits thee.
There Jeanne sojourned at several whiles and left vestiges of her passage, which the present humble writer reverently traced only a short time ago. Indeed, I make bold to say that one cannot write well about Jeanne unless he knows something of France, and especially of the places associated with her active career. True, the lapse of time has been very great, but time has no significance in regard to an Immortal, and it is not so palpably felt in a country where, outside the large cities, old manners and habits persist, ancient memorials are cherished, and the face of the land is but little changed. As I saw it in Jeanne's month of May last year, so it must have appeared to her when she rode gallantly through these places, after her triumph at Orleans. Be sure the people lined the roads and thronged the little wayside villages to feast their eyes upon the conquering Maid as she cantered through the green country, herself as young and charming as the May.
Luckily we have a pen-picture of Jeanne made at this very time by a most competent observer, the young Seigneur de Laval, writing to his mother. I translate from the French text:
On Monday I left the king in order to go to Selles-enBerry, four leagues from St. Aignan. The Pucelle was already there and the king had sent her on before him in order that I might see her, as I was told. She gave good welcome to my brother and me. She was armed completely, except the head, and held a lance in her hands.
On our arrival at Seller I went to see her at her lodging. She ordered wine and said to me: "I will have you drink wine before long in Paris." (This incident occurred some months before the attempt on Paris, which failed for want of proper support, also through the machinations of Charles’s council.)
Her gesture, her actions, her voice, to see her, to hear her, are things wholly divine!
This Marvelous young girl left Selles to-day at vesper time, in order to go to Romorantin, advanceing her outpost three leagues. I saw her attempt to mount a great black charger at the door, but the animal balked and cut up so that she was unable to reach the saddle. "Lead him to the cross in front of the church," she said to an attendant. At once she followed to mount him, and the horse budged no more than if he had been tied. Then she turned toward the church door very near, and said in a sweet and clear womanly voice: "You, priests and people of the church, make some processions and prayers to God." Then she took the road, with this command to her soldiers: "Forward! Forward!"
A handsome page bore her standard, folded; she herself carried in hand her little axe. One of her brothers, who came eight days ago, left with her; he also wore armor of polished steel.
Also noteworthy is the following impression of Jeanne, written about this time by a representative of the Duke of Milan:
The Pucelle is of grand distinction; of a virile demeanor, she speaks little and evinces a great prudence in her words, her voice being sweet, limpid, womanly. She eats little, drinks less wine, loves beautiful horses and fine armor. She has the gift of tears, and sometimes sheds them abundantly, but habitually her face is cheerful and smiling
Her capacity for work is a thing unheard of; she can remain a whole week under arms, night as well as day.
We may not omit a beautiful incident which took place, probably at Loches, just before the Loire campaign was launched; whether it be of the legend, the poetical accretion that has gathered about the Maid, or matter of strict history, we cannot fail to note in it the high spirit of chivalry then prevailing, which at intervals relieved the dark chronicles of the time.
One day at the chateau, in presence of the royal entourage, Jeanne asked the king to make her a gift. He agreed to do so, requesting her to name it. She then smiling, but in apparent good faith, required him to offer her the Kingdom of France. After a little hesitation Charles did so, and Jeanne requested the royal secretaries to draw up a formal act of the transfer. This also was done. And still the courtiers looked on and wondered. The paper then having been read aloud with all due formula, Jeanne turned gravely to the auditors and pointing to the king exclaimed: "Behold the poorest chevalier in France!"
Again, after a pause, she disposed of the kingdom, using the same legal formularies as before, and delivered it into the hands of the Almighty. Finally, at the end of a few minutes, Jeanne, speaking in the name of God, duly invested Charles with the sovereignty of France, and desired that a solemn act might be drawn up attesting the same.
At Loches Charles issued letters of nobility in favor of Jeanne and her family, despite her protest; in
these the name is changed to d’Ay—a substitution which was never regarded. One sees Jeanne's coat of-arms in the Orleans Museum. The family, thus ennobled, seems to have continued for some generations. A descendant of the d'Arc family furnished the genuine signature of Jeanne heretofore mentioned.