Page:Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.djvu/359

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still be their purpose to go, instead of tarrying awhile to see the city.

I didn't say anything, of course, but I could have said that wild horses couldn't keep those men in that town half a day. They waste the glory of being the first to carry the great news to Domremy—the taxes remitted forever!—and hear the bells clang and clatter, and the people cheer and shout? Oh, not they. Patay and Orleans and the Coronation were events which in a vague way these men understood to be colossal; but they were colossal mists, films, abstractions; this was a gigantic reality!

When I got there, do you suppose they were abed! Quite the reverse. They and the rest were as mellow as mellow could be; and the Paladin was doing his battles in great style, and the old peasants were endangering the building with their applause. He was doing Patay now; and was bending his big frame forward and laying out the positions and movements with a rake here and a rake there of his formidable sword on the floor, and the peasants were stooped over with their hands on their spread knees observing with excited eyes and ripping out ejaculations of wonder and admiration all along:

"Yes, here we were, waiting—waiting for the word; our horses fidgeting and snorting and dancing to get away, we lying back on the bridles till our bodies fairly slanted to the rear; the word rang out at last—'Go!' and we went!

"Went? There was nothing like it ever seen! Where we swept by squads of scampering English, the mere wind of our passage laid them flat in piles and rows! Then we plunged into the ruck of Fastolfe's frantic battle-corps and tore through it like a hurricane, leaving a causeway of the dead stretching far behind; no tarrying, no slacking rein, but on! on! on! far yonder in the distance lay our prey—Talbot and his host looming vast and dark like a storm-cloud brooding on the sea! Down we swooped upon them, glooming all the air with a quivering pall of dead leaves flung up by the whirlwind of our flight. In another moment we should have struck