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Shook with strong arm and tore it from the fort, And lifted it in air, portentous shield I
“ Behold the towers of Orleans,” cried Dunois. “ Lo! this the vale where on the banks of Loire, Of yore, at close of day the rustic band 141 Danced to the roundelay. In younger years As oft I glided down the silver stream, Frequent upon the lifted oar I paused, Listening the sound of far-off merriment.
145 There wave the hostile banners ! martial Maid, Give thou the signall.. let us fall upon These merciless invaders, who have sack'd Village and town, and made the hamlet haunts Silent, or hearing but the widow's groan. 150 Give but the signal, Maiden !"
eye Fix'd sadly on the foe, the holy Maid Answer'd him ; “Ere the avenging sword be drawn, And slaughter be let loose, befits us send
154 Some peaceful messenger, who shall make known The will of Heaven : so timely warn'd, our foes Haply may yet repent, and quit in peace Besieged Orleans, for I fain would spare The bloody price of victory."
So she said; And as she spake, a soldier from the ranks
160 Came forward. “ I will be thy messenger, O Prophetess I and to the English camp Will bear thy bidding."
“Go," the Virgin cried; Say to the Lord of Salisbury, and the chiefs
Of England, Suffolk, Fastolffe, Talbot, Scales, 165
At mid-day meal,
o Chiefs,” he began, “ Salisbury, and ye the representatives Of the English King, usurper of this realm, 185 ye
the leaders of the English host I come, no welcome messenger. Thus saith The MAID OF ORLEANS: “With your troops retire In peace. Of every captured town the keys Restore to Charles ; so bloodless you may seek 190 Your native island; for the God of Hosts Thus hath decreed. To Charles the rightful heir, By long descent and by the willing choice Of duteous subjects, hath the Lord assign'd
The kingdom. In His name the Virgin comes, 195
Wonder made a pause; To this a laugh succeeds. “What?" Fastolffe cried, “ A virgin warrior hath your monarch sent
201 To save devoted Orleans ? By the rood, I thank his grace. If she be young and fair, No worthless prize, my lords ! Go, tell your Maid, Joyful we wait her coming."
There was one Among the English chiefs who had grown old 206 In arms, yet had not age unnerved his limbs, But from the flexile nimbleness of youth To unyielding stiffness braced them. One who saw Him seated at the board, might well have deem'd That Talbot with his whole collected might 211 Wielded the sword in war, for on his neck The veins were full, and every muscle bore The character of strength. He his stern eye Fix'd on the herald, and before he spake 215 His silence threaten'd.
“ Get thee gone!” exclaim'd The indignant chief: “away! nor think to scare With girlish phantasies the English host That scorns your bravest warriors. Hie thee thence, And tell this girl she may expect to meet
220 The mockery of the camp!”
Nay, scare her not, Replied their chief: “go, tell this Maid of Orleans,
That Salisbury longs to meet her in the fight.
“ Contemptuous man!
“ And who art thou ?” cried Suffolk, and his eye Grew fierce and wrath-inflamed: “What fool art thou, Who at this woman's bidding comest to brave 235 The host of England ? Thou shalt have thy meed!" Then turning to the sentinel he cried,
Prepare a stake! and let the men of Orleans,
As he spake, a sudden flush Came o'er the herald's cheek, and his heart beat With quicker action; but the sudden flush, 245 Nature's instinctive impulse, faded soon To such a steady hue as spake the soul Roused up with all its powers, and unsubdued, And strengthen’d for endurance. Through the camp, Soon as the tidings spread, a shout arose,
250 A hideous shout, more savage than the howl
Of midnight wolves, around him as they throng'd,
urge this impious war; 260
He who spake 264 Was young and comely ; had his cheek been pale With dread, and had his eye look'd fearfully, Sure he had won compassion ; but the blood Gave now a livelier meaning to his cheek, 268 As with a prophet's look and prophet's voice He raised his ominous warning: they who heard Wonder'd, and they who rear'd the stake perform’d With half-unwilling hands their slacken'd toil, And doubted what might follow.
Not unseen Rear'd they the stake, and piled around the wood ; In sight of Orleans and the Maiden's host, 275 Had Suffolk's arrogant fierceness bade the work Of death be done. The Maiden's host beheld; At once in eager wrath they raised the loud And general clamour, “ Lead us to the foe !" “ Not upon us, O GOD!” the Maid exclaim'd, 280