But Joan only said, in the simple fashion which was her wont:
"Ye will pardon me for reminding you again—but I have no message to send to any one."
The King's messengers rose in deep anger and swept out of the place without further words, we and Joan kneeling as they passed.
Our countenances were vacant, our hearts full of a sense of disaster. Our precious opportunity was thrown away; we could not understand Joan's conduct, she who had ben so wise until this fatal hour. At last the Sieur Bertrand found courage to ask her why she had let this great chance to get her message to the King go by.
"Who sent them here?" she asked.
"Who moved the King to send them?" She waited for an answer; none came, for we began to see what was in her mind—so she answered herself: "The Dauphin's council moved him to it. Are they enemies to me and to the Dauphin's weal, or are they friends?"
"Enemies," answered the Sieur Bertrand.
"If one would have a message go sound and ungarbled, does one choose traitors and tricksters to send it by?"
I saw that we had been fools, and she wise. They saw it too, so none found anything to say. Then she went on:
"They had but small wit that contrived this trap. They thought to get my message and seem to deliver it straight, yet deftly twist it from its purpose. You know that one part of my message is but this—to move the Dauphin by argument and reasonings to give me men-at-arms and send me to the siege. If an enemy carried these in the right words, the exact words, and no word missing, yet left out the persuasions of gesture and supplicating tone and beseeching looks that inform the words and make them live, where were the value of that argument—whom could it convince? Be patient, the Dauphin will hear me presently; have no fear."
The Sieur de Metz nodded his head several times, and muttered as to himself: