her mission she went aside and prayed, complaining of the distrust of these, and then the comforting Voices were heard at her ear saying, soft and low, "Go forward, Daughter of God, and I will help thee." Then she added, "When I hear that, the joy in my heart, oh, it is insupportable!"
The Bastard said that when she said these words her face lit up as with a flame, and she was like one in an ecstasy.
Joan pleaded, persuaded, reasoned; gaining ground little by little, but opposed step by step by the council. She begged, she implored, leave to march. When they could answer nothing further, they granted that perhaps it had been a mistake to let the army waste away, but how could we help it now? how could we march without an army?
"Raise one!" said Joan.
"But it will take six weeks."
"No matter—begin! let us begin!"
"It is too late. Without doubt the Duke of Bedford has been gathering troops to push to the succor of his strongholds on the Loire."
"Yes, while we have been disbanding ours—and pity 'tis. But we must throw away no more time; we must bestir ourselves."
The King objected that he could not venture toward Rheims with those strong places on the Loire in his path. But Joan said:
"We will break them up. Then you can march."
With that plan the King was willing to venture assent. He could sit around out of danger while the road was being cleared.
Joan came back in great spirits. Straightway everything was stirring. Proclamations were issued calling for men, a recruiting camp was established at Selles in Berry, and the commons and the nobles began to flock to it with enthusiasm.
A deal of the month of May had been wasted; and yet by the 6th of June Joan had swept together a new army and was ready to march. She had eight thousand men. Think of