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- But now

Defies

my weak controul, or from my side, A friend more dreaded than the enemy, Scares my best servants with the assassin's sword. Soon must beleaguer'd Orleans fall. A truce to these sad thoughts! We are not yet 175 So utterly despoild but we can spread The friendly board, and giving thee, Dunois, Such welcome as befits thy father's son Win from our public cares a day for joy.

Dunois replied, “ So may thy future years 180 Pass from misfortune free, as all these ills Shall vanish like a vision of the night! I come to thee the joyful messenger Of aid from Heaven; for Heaven hath delegated A humble Maiden to deliver France.

185 That holy Maiden asks an audience now ; And when she promises miraculous things, I feel it is not possible to hear And disbelieve.”

Astonish'd by his speech Stood Charles. " At one of meaner estimation 190 I should have smiled, Dunois," the King replied ; “ But thy known worth, and the tried loyalty Of thy father's house, compel me even to this To lend a serious ear. A woman sent

194 To rescue us, when all our strength hath fail'd ! A humble Maiden to deliver France ! One whom it were not possible to hear, And disbelievel.. Dunois, ill now beseems Aught wild and hazardous. And yet our state Being what it is, by miracle alone

200

Deliverance can be hoped for. Is my person
Known to this woman?”

6. That it cannot be,
Unless it be by miracle made known,”
Dunois replied ; “ for she hath never left
Her native hamlet in Lorraine till now.”

205

66

“ Here then,” rejoin'd the King, we have a test Easy, and safe withal. Abide thou here; And hither by a speedy messenger Summon the Prophetess. Upon the throne Let some one take his seat and personate 210 My presence, while I mingle in the train. If she indeed be by the Spirit moved, That Spirit, certes, will direct her eyes To the true Prince whom she is sent to serve : But if she prove, as likeliest we must deem, 215 One by her own imaginations crazed, Thus failing and convinced, she may return Unblamed to her obscurity, and we Be spared the shame of farther loss incurr'd 219 By credulous faith. Well might the English scoff, If on a frantic woman we should rest Our last reliance.” Thus the King resolved, And with a faith half-faltering at the proof, Dunois dispatch'd a messenger, to seek 224 Beside the banks of Vienne, the mission'd Maid.

Soon is the court convened: the jewell’d crown Shines on a courtier's head. Amid the train The Monarch undistinguish'd takes his place, Expectant of the event.

The Virgin comes, And as the Bastard led her to the throne, 230

Quick glancing o'er the mimic Majesty,
With gesture and with look like one inspired
She fix'd her eye on Charles: “Thou art the King !"
Then in a tone that thrill’d all hearts, pursued ;
“ I come the appointed Minister of Heaven, 235
To wield a sword before whose fated edge,
Far, far from Orleans shall the English wolves
Speed their disastrous flight. Monarch of France !
Send thou the tidings over all the realm,
Great tidings of deliverance and of joy ; 240
The Maid is come, the mission'd Maid, whose hand
Shall in the consecrated walls of Rheims
Crown thee, anointed King.”

In wonder mute
The courtiers heard. Astonish'd Charles exclaim'd,
“ This is indeed the agency of Heaven! 245
Hard, Maiden, were I of belief,” he said,
“ Did I not now, with full and confirm'd faith,
Receive thee as a Prophetess raised up
For our deliverance. Therefore, not in doubt
Of Providence or thee do I delay

250 At once to marshal our brave countrymen Beneath thy banner; but to satisfy Those who at distance from this most clear proof Might hear and disbelieve, or yield at best A cold assent. These fully to confirm, 255 And more to make thy calling manifest, Forthwith with all due speed I will convene The Doctors of Theology, wise men, And learned in the mysteries of Heaven. By them thy mission studied and approved, 260 As needs it must, their sanction to all minds

Will bring conviction, and the sure belief
Lead on thy favour'd troops to mightiest deeds,
Surpassing human possibility.”

Well pleas'd the Maiden heard. Her the King

leads From the disbanding throng, meantime to dwell With Mary. Watchful for her Lord's return 267 She sat with Agnes; Agnes proud of heart, Majestically fair, whose large full eye Or flashing anger, or with scornful scowl

270 Too oft deform'd her beauty. Yet with her The lawless idol of the Monarch's heart, The Queen, obedient to her husband's will, Dwelt meekly in accord. With them the Maid Was left to sojourn; by the gentle Queen 275 With cordial affability received ; By Agnes courteously, whose outward show Of graciousness concealed an inward awe, For while she hoped and trusted through her means Charles should be re-establish'd in his realm, 280 She felt rebuked before her.

Through the land Meantime the King's convoking voice went forth, And from their palaces and monasteries The theologians came, men who had grown In midnight studies grey; Prelates and Priests 285 And Doctors : teachers grave and with great names, Seraphic, Subtile, or Irrefragable, By their admiring scholars dignified.

They met convened at Chinon, to the place

Of judgement, in St. Katharine's fane assign'd. 290
The floor with many a monumental stone
Was spread, and brass-ensculptured effigies
Of holy abbots honour'd in their day,
Now to the grave gone down. The branching arms
Of many a ponderous pillar met aloft,

295 Wreath'd on the roof emboss'd. Through storied

panes Of high arch'd windows came the tinctured light; Pure water in a font beneath reflects The many-colour'd rays; around that font The fathers stand, and there with rites ordain'd 300 And signs symbolic strew the hallowing salt, Wherewith the limpid water, consecrate, So taught the Church, became a spell approved Against the fiends of Satan's fallen crew; A licit spell of mightier potency

305 Than e'er the hell-hags taught in Thessaly; Or they who sitting on the rifled grave, By the blue tomb-fire's lurid light dim seen, Share with the Gouls their banquet.

This perform’d, The Maid is summon'd. Round the sacred font, Mark'd with the mystic tonsure and enrobed 311 In sacred vests, a venerable train, They stand. The delegated Maid obeys Their summons. As she came, a blush suffused Her pallid cheek, such as might well beseem 315 One mindful still of maiden modesty, Though to her mission true. Before the train In reverent silence waiting their sage will, With half-averted eye she stood composed.

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