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JOAN OF ARC.

THE SIXTH BOOK.

The night was calm, and many a moving cloud
Shadow'd the moon. Along the forest glade
With swift foot Conrade past, and now had reach'd
The plain, where whilome by the pleasant Loire,
Cheer'd with the song, the rustics had beheld 5
The day go down upon their merriment:
No
song

of peace now echoed on its banks.
There tents were pitch'd, and there the sentinel,
Slow pacing on his sullen rounds, beheld
The frequent corse roll down the tainted stream. 10
Conrade with wider sweep pursued his way,
Shunning the camp, now hush'd in sleep and stil).
And now no sound was heard save of the Loire,
Murmuring along. The noise of coming feet
Alarm’d him; nearer drew the rapid steps 15
As of pursuit; anon .. the clash of arms !
That instant breaking through a rifted cloud
The moonlight show'd, where two with force combined
Prest on a single foe, who, warding still
Their swords, retreated in unequal fight, 20
As he would make the city. Hastening

With timely help to save him, Conrade sped.
One with an unexpected stroke he slew;
The other fled : “ Now let us speed our best,
Frenchman !” he cried. On to the Loire they ran,
And making way, with practised arms across, 26
Ere long in safety gain'd the opposite shore.

“Whence art thou ?” cried the warrior; "and on

what Commission'd!”

66 Is it not the voice of Conrade ? " Francis replied ; " and dost thou bring to us 30 Tidings of succour? oh I that it had come A few hours earlier! Isabel is

gone

1"

Nay she is safe,” cried Conrade; - her I found Bewilder'd in the forest, and consign'd her To the protection of the holy Maid,

35 Whom Heaven hath sent to rescue us. Wherefore alone ? A fugitive from Orleans, Or sent on dangerous service from the town !"

Now say

“ There is no food in Orleans," he replied, 39 “ Scarce a meal more. The assembled chiefs resolve, If thou shouldst bring no tidings of near aid, To cut their way to safety, or by death Prevent the pang of famine. One they sought Who venturing to the English lines should spy Where best to venture on this desperate chance ; 45 And I believing all I loved was lost Offer'd myself.”

So saying, they approach'd

The gate. The sentinel, soon as he heard
Thitherward footsteps, with uplifted lance 49
Challenged the darkling travellers. At their voice
He drew the strong bolts back, and cautiously
Open’d the wicket. To the careful chiefs
Who sate in midnight council, they were led,
And Conrade thus address'd them :

“ Sirs, the Lord, In this our utmost need, hath sent us aid.

55 A holy Maid hath been raised up by Heaven ; Her mission is by miracles confirm’d, And hither with twelve hundred chosen men, Led by Dunois, she comes. I am myself A witness to the truth of what I tell ;

60 And by to-morrow's noon, before these walls Her banner will be seen.”

Thereat the chiefs Were filld with wonder and with joy, by doubt Little repress'd. “Open the granaries ! ” Xaintrailles exclaim'd; “ give we to all the host 65 “ With hand unsparing now a plenteous meal; To-morrow we are safe ! for Heaven all-just Hath seen our sufferings and decreed their end. Let the glad tidings echo through the town! God is with us!"

“ Be not too confident," 70 Graville replied, “ in this miraculous aid. Some frantic woman this who gives belief To idle dreams, and with her madness then Infects the simple! That Dunois is there, Leading in arms twelve hundred chosen men, 75 Affords a better hope; yet lavish not

Our stores, lest in the enterprise he fail,
And Orleans then be fain to bear the yoke
Of England !”

“ Chief! I tell thee,” Conrade cried, “ I did myself behold the sepulchre,

80 Fulfilling what she spake, give up those arms Which surely for no common end the grave Through many an age hath held inviolate. She is the Prophetess of the Most High, And will deliver Orleans ! ”

Gaucour then, 85 “ Be it as thou hast said. For I must think, That surely to no vulgar tale these chiefs Would yield a light belief; and our poor stores Must speedily, ye know, be clean consumed. 89 Spread then the joyful tidings through the troops That God hath to deliver the oppress'd, As in old time, raised up a Prophetess, And the belief itself will make them fight With irresistible courage.”

Thus the chief, And what he said seem'd good. The men of Orleans, Long by their foemen bay'd, such transport felt, 96 As when the Mexicans, with eager eye Gazing to Huixachtla’s distant top, On that last night, doubtful if ever morn Again shall cheer them, mark the mystic fire 100 Flame on the breast of some brave prisoner, A dreadful altar. As they see the blaze Beaming on Iztapalapan's near towers, . Or on Tezcuco's calmy lake flash'd far, Songs of thanksgiving and the shout of joy 105

Wake the loud echo; the glad husband tears
Tbe mantling aloe from his consort's face,
And children, now deliver'd from the dread
Of everlasting darkness, look abroad,
Hail the good omen, and expect the sun
Uninjur'd still to run his flaming race.

110

While thus in Orleans hope had banished sleep, The Maiden's host perform’d their evening prayer, And in the forest took their rest secure. And now the morning came. At earliest dawn 115 Lightly upstarting and bedight in arms, The Bastard moved along, with provident eye Marshalling the troops. All high in hope they march; And now the sun shot from the southern sky His noontide radiance, when afar they hear 120 The hum of men, and see the distant towers Of Orleans, and the bulwarks of the foe, And many a streamer wantoning in air. These as they saw and thought of all the ills Their brethren had endured, closely pent there 125 For many a month, such ardor for the fight Burnt in each bosom, as young Ali felt Then when Mohammed of the assembled tribe Ask'd who would be his Vizir. Fierce in faith, Forth from the race of Hashem stept the youth, 130

Prophet of God I lo.. I will be the man !" And well did Ali merit that high post, Victorious upon Beder's fertile vale, And on mount Ohud, and before the walls Of Chaibar, when down-cleaving to the chest 135 His giant foe, he grasp'd the massy gate,

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