He will perceive this in time. Is there none in that Castle of Chinon who favors us?"

"Yes, the King's mother-in-law, Yolande, Queen of Sicily, who is wise and good. She spoke with the Sieur Bertrand."

"She favors us, and she hates those others, the King's beguilers," said Bertrand. "She was full of interest, and asked a thousand questions, all of which I answered according to my ability. Then she sat thinking over these replies until I thought she was lost in a dream and would wake no more. But it was not so. At last she said, slowly, and as if she were talking to herself: 'A child of seventeen--a girl--country-bred--untaught--ignorant of war, the use of arms, and the conduct of battles--modest, gentle, shrinking--yet throws away her shepherd's crook and clothes herself in steel, and fights her way through a hundred and fifty leagues of fear, and comes--she to whom a king must be a dread and awful presence--and will stand up before such an one and say, Be not afraid, God has sent me to save you! Ah, whence could come a courage and conviction so sublime as this but from very God Himself!' She was silent again awhile, thinking and making up her mind; then she said, 'And whether she comes of God or no, there is that in her heart that raises her above men--1high above all men that breathe in France to-day--for in her is that mysterious something that puts heart into soldiers, and turns mobs of cowards into armies of fighters that forget what fear is when they are in that presence--fighters who go into battle with joy in their eyes and songs on their lips, and sweep over the field like a storm --that is the spirit that can save France, and that alone, come it whence it may! It is in her, I do truly believe, for what else could have borne up that child on that great march, and made her despise its dangers and fatigues? The King must see her face to face--and shall!' She dismissed me with those good words, and I know her promise will be kept. They will delay her all they can--those animals--bu she will not fail in the end."

"Would she were King!" said the other knight, fervently. "For there is little hope that the King himself can be stirred out of his lethargy. He is wholly without hope, and is only thinking of throwing away everything and flying to some foreign land. The commissioners say there is a spell upon him that makes him hopeless--yes, and that it is shut up in a mystery which they cannot fathom."

"I know the mystery," said Joan, with quiet confidence; "I know it, and he knows it, but no other but God. When I see him I will tell him a secret that will drive away his trouble, then he will hold up his head again."

I was miserable with curiosity to know what it was that she would tell him, but she did not say, and I did not expect she would. She was but a child, it is true; but she was not a chatterer to tell great matters and make herself important to little people; no, she was reserved, and kept things to herself, as the truly great always do.

The next day Queen Yolande got one victory over the King's keepers, for, in spite of their protestations and obstructions, she procured an audience for our two knights, and they made the most they could out of their opportunity. They told the King what a spotless and beautiful character Joan was, and how great and noble a spirit animated her, and they implored him to trust in her, believe in her, and have faith that she was sent to save France. They begged him to consent to see her. He was strongly moved to do this, and promised that he would not drop the matter out of his mind, but would consult with his council about it. This began to look encouraging. Two hours later there was a great stir below, and the innkeeper came flying up to say a commission of illustrious ecclesiastics was come from the King--from the King his very self, understand!--think of this vast honor to his humble little hostelry!--and he was so overcome with the glory of it that he could hardly find breath enough in his excited body to put the facts into words.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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