It was of the most delicate white boucassin, with fringes of silk. For device it bore the image of God the Father throned in the clouds and holding the world in His hand; two angels knelt at His feet, presenting lilies; inscription, JESUS, MARIA; on the reverse the crown of France supported by two angels.
She also caused a smaller standard or pennon to be made, whereon was represented an angel offering a lily to the Holy Virgin.
Everything was humming there at Tours. Every now and then one heard the bray and crash of military music, every little while one heard the measured tramp of marching men--squads of recruits leaving for Blois; songs and shoutings and huzzas filled the air night and day, the town was full of strangers, the streets and inns were thronged, the bustle of preparation was everywhere, and everybody carried a glad and cheerful face. Around Joan's headquarters a crowd of people was always massed, hoping for a glimpse of the new General, and when they got it, they went wild; but they seldom got it, for she was busy planning her campaign, receiving reports, giving orders, despatching couriers, and giving what odd moments she could spare to the companies of great folk waiting in the drawing-rooms. As for us boys, we hardly saw her at all, she was so occupied.
We were in a mixed state of mind--sometimes hopeful, sometimes not; mostly not. She had not appointed her household yet--that was our trouble. We knew she was being overrun with applications for places in it, and that these applications were backed by great names and weighty influence, whereas we had nothing of the sort to recommend us. She could fill her humblest places with titled folk--folk whose relationships would be a bulwark for her and a valuable support at all times. In these circumstances would policy allow her to consider us? We were not as cheerful as the rest of the town, but were inclined to be depressed and worried. Sometimes we discussed our slim chances and gave them as good an appearance as we could. But the very mention of the subject was anguish to the Paladin; for whereas we had some little hope, he had none at all. As a rule NoČl Rainguesson was quite wiLa Hireing to let the dismal matter alone; but not when the Paladin was present. Once we were talking the thing over, when NoČl said:
"Cheer up, Paladin, I had a dream last night, and you were the only one among us that got an appointment. It wasn't a high one, but it was an appointment, anyway--some kind of a lackey or body-servant, or something of that kind."
The Paladin roused up and looked almost cheerful; for he was a believer in dreams, and in anything and everything of a superstitious sort, in fact. He said, with a rising hopefulness:
"I wish it might come true. Do you think it will come true?"
"Certainly; I might almost say I know it will, for my dreams hardly ever fail."
"NoČl, I could hug you if that dream could come true, I could, indeed! To be servant of the first General of France and have all the world hear of it, and the news go back to the village and make those gawks stare that always said I wouldn't ever amount to anything--wouldn't it be great! Do you think it will come true, NoČl? Don't you believe it will?"
"I do. There's my hand on it."
"NoČl, if it comes true I'll never forget you--shake again! I should be dressed in a noble livery, and the news would go to the village, and those animals would say, 'Him, lackey to the General-in-Chief, with the eyes of the whole world on him, admiring--well, he has shot up into the sky now, hasn't he!"
He began to walk the floor and pile castles in the air so fast and so high that we could hardly keep up with him. Then all of a sudden all the joy went out of his face and misery took its place, and he said:
"Oh, dear, it is all a mistake, it will never come true. I forgot that foolish business at Toul. I have kept out of her sight as much as I could, all these weeks, hoping she would forget that and forgive it--but I know she never will. She can't, of course.