We were young, you see, and did not know the human race, as I have said before. We had been so proud of our country, so sure of her nobleness, her magnanimity, her gratitude. We had expected little of the King, but of France we had expected everything. Everybody knew that in various towns patriot priests had been marching in procession urging the people to sacrifice money, property, everything, and buy the freedom of their heaven-sent deliverer. That the money would be raised we had not thought of doubting.

But it was all over now, all over. It was a bitter time for us. The heavens seemed hung with black; all cheer went out from our hearts. Was this comrade here at my bedside really NoČl Rainguesson, that light-hearted creature whose whole life was but one long joke, and who used up more breath in laughter than in keeping his body alive? No, no; that NoČl I was to see no more. This one's heart was broken. He moved grieving about, and absently, like one in a dream; the stream of his laughter was dried at its source.

Well, that was best. It was my own mood. We were company for each other. He nursed me patiently through the dull long weeks, and at last, in January, I was strong enough to go about again. Then he said:

"Shall we go now?"

"Yes."

There was no need to explain. Our hearts were in Rouen; we would carry our bodies there. All that we cared for in this life was shut up in that fortress. We could not help her, but it would be some solace to us to be near her, to breathe the air that she breathed, and look daily upon the stone walls that hid her. What if we should be made prisoners there? Well, we could but do our best, and let luck and fate decide what should happen.

And so we started. We could not realize the change which had come upon the country. We seemed able to choose our own route and go whenever we pleased, unchallenged and unmolested. When Joan of Arc was in the field there was a sort of panic of fear everywhere; but now that she was out of the way, fear had vanished. Nobody was troubled about you or afraid of you, nobody was curious about you or your business, everybody was indifferent.

We presently saw that we could take to the Seine, and not weary ourselves out with land travel.

So we did it, and were carried in a boat to within a league of Rouen. Then we got ashore; not on the hilly side, but on the other, where it is as level as a floor. Nobody could enter or leave the city without explaining himself. It was because they feared attempts at a rescue of Joan.

We had no trouble. We stopped in the plain with a family of peasants and stayed a wekk, helping them with their work for board and lodging, and making friends of them. We got clothes like theirs, and wore them. When we had worked our way through their reserves and gotten their confidence, we found that they secretly harbored French hearts in their bodies. Then we came out frankly and told them everythng, and found them ready to do anything they could to help us.

Our plan was soon made, and was quite simple. It was to help them drive a flock of sheep to the market of the city. One morning early we made the venture in a melancholy drizzle of rain, and passed through the frowning gates unmolested. Our friends had friends living over a humble wine shop in a quaint tall building situated in one of the narrow lanes that run down from the cathedral to the river, and with these they bestowed us; and the next day they smuggled our own proper clothing and other belongings to us. The family that lodged us--the Pieroons--were French in sympathy, and we needed to have no secrets from them.

[1] It remained there three hundred and sixty years, and then was destroyed in a public bonfire, together with two swords, a plumed cap, several suits of state apparel, and other relics of the Maid, by a mob in the time of the Revolution. Nothing which the hand of Joan of Arc is known to have touched now remains in existence except a few preciously guarded military and state papers which she signed, her pen being guided by a clek or her secretary, Louis de Conte.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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