Page:Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.djvu/297

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the battle might not be decisive. When it is fought it must be decisive. And it shall be."

"God grant it, and amen. There were still other reasons?"

"One other—yes." She hesitated a moment, then said: "This was not the day. To-morrow is the day. It is so written."

They were going to assail her with eager questionings, but she put up her hand and prevented them. Then she said—

"It will be the most noble and beneficent victory that God has vouchsafed for France at any time. I pray you question me not as to whence or how I know this thing, but be content that it is so."

There was pleasure in every face, and conviction and high confidence. A murmur of conversation broke out, but that was interrupted by a messenger from the outposts who brought news—namely, that for an hour there had been stir and movement in the English camp of a sort unusual at such a time and with a resting army, he said. Spies had been sent under cover of the rain and darkness to inquire into it. They had just come back and reported that large bodies of men had been dimly made out who were slipping stealthily away in the direction of Meung.

The generals were very much surprised, as any might tell from their faces.

"It is a retreat," said Joan.

"It has that look," said D'Alençon.

"It certainly has," observed the Bastard and La Hire.

"It was not to be expected," said Louis de Bourbon, "but one can divine the purpose of it."

"Yes," responded Joan. "Talbot has reflected. His rash brain has cooled. He thinks to take the bridge of Meung and escape to the other side of the river. He knows that this leaves his garrison of Beaugency at the mercy of fortune, to escape our hands if it can; but there is no other course if he would avoid this battle, and that he also knows. But he shall not get the bridge. We will see to that."