Then I said aloud:
"I am glad you came; it is a noble cause, and one should not sit at home in times like these."
"Sit at home! I could no more do it than the thunderstone could stay hid in the clouds when the storm calls it."
"That is the right talk. It sounds like you."
That pleased him.
"I'm glad you know me. Some don't. But they will, presently. They will know me well enough before I get done with this war."
"That is what I think. I believe that wherever danger confronts you you will make yourself conspicuous."
He was charmed with this speech, and it swelled him up like a bladder. He said:
"If I know myself--and I think I do--my performances in this campaign will give you occasion more than once to remember those words."
"I were a fool to doubt it. That I know."
"I shall not be at my best, being but a common soldier; still, the country will hear of me. If I were where I belong; if I were in the place of La Hire, or Saintrailles, or the Bastard of Orleans--well, I say nothing. I am not of the talking kind, like NoČl Rainguesson and his sort, I thank God. But it will be something, I take it--a novelty in this world, I should say--to raise the fame of a private soldier above theirs, and extinguish the glory of their names with its shadow."
"Why, look here, my friend," I said, "do you know that you have hit out a most remarkable idea there? Do you realize the gigantic proportions of it? For look you; to be a general of vast renown, what is that? Nothing--history is clogged and confused with them; one cannot keep their names in his memory, there are so many. But a common soldier of supreme renown--why, he would stand alone! He would the be one moon in a firmament of mustard-seed stars; his name would outlast the human race! My friend, who gave you that idea?"
He was ready to burst with happiness, but he suppressed betrayal of it as well as he could. He simply waved the compliment aside with his hand and said, with complacency:
"It is nothing. I have them often--ideas like that--and even greater ones. I do not consider this one much."
"You astonish me; you do, indeed. So it is really your own?"
"Quite. And there is plenty more where it came from"--tapping his head with his finger, and taking occasion at the same time to cant his morion over his right ear, which gave him a very self-satisfied air--"I do not need to borrow my ideas, like NoČl Rainguesson."
"Speaking of NoČl, when did you see him last?"
"Half an hour ago. He is sleeping yonder like a corpse. Rode with us last night."
I felt a great upleap in my heart, and said to myself, now I am at rest and glad; I will never doubt her prophecies again. Then I said aloud:
"It gives me joy. It makes me proud of our village. There is not keeping our lion-hearts at home in these great times, I see that."
"Lion-heart! Who--that baby? Why, he begged like a dog to be let off. Cried, and said he wanted to go to his mother. Him a lion-heart!--that tumble-bug!"
"Dear me, why I supposed he volunteered, of course. Didn't he?"
"Oh, yes, he volunteered the way people do to the headsman. Why, when he found I was coming up from Domremy to volunteer, he asked me to let him come along in my protection, and see the crowds and the excitement. Well, we arrived and saw the torches filing out at the Castle, and ran there, and the governor had him seized, along with four more, and he begged to be let off, and I begged for his place, and atg last the governor allowed me to join, but wouldn't let NoČl off, because he was disgusted with him, he was such a cry-baby. Yes, and much good he'll do the King's service; he'll eat for six and run for sixteen. I hate a pygmy with half a heart and nine stomachs!"
"Why, this is very surprising news to me, and I am sorry and disappointed to hear it. I thought he was a very manly fellow."
The Paladin gave me an outraged look, and said:
"I don't see how you can talk like that, I'm sure I don't. I don't see how you could have got such a notion. I don't dislike him, and I'm not saying these things out of prejudice, for I don't allow myself to have prejudices against people.