Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/233

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AT ORLEANS. 227


force and a convoy of provisions to Orleans. The distress of that city had now become urgent. But the communication with the open country was not entirely cut off: the Orleannais had heard of the Holy Maid whom Providence had raised up for their deliverance, and their messengers earnestly implored the dauphin to send her to them without delay.

Joan appeared at the camp at Blois, clad in a new suit of brilliant white armor, mounted on a stately black war-horse, and with a lance in her right hand, which she had learned to wield with skill and grace.* Her head was unhelmeted; so that all could behold her fair and expressive features, her deepset and earnest eyes, and her long black hair, which was parted across her forehead, and bound by a ribbon behind her back. She wore at her side a small battle-ax, and the consecrated sword, marked on the blade with live crosses, which had at her bidding been taken for her from the shrine of St. Catharine at Fierbois. A page carried her banner, which she had caused to be made and embroidered as her Voices enjoined. It was white satin,† strewn with fleurs-de-lis; and on it were the words "Jhesus Maria," and the representation of the Savior in his glory. Joan afterward generally bore her banner herself in battle; she said that though she loved her sword much, she loved her banner forty times as much; and she loved to carry it, because it could not kill any one.

Thus accoutered, she came to lead the troops of France, who looked with soldierly admiration on her well-proportioned and upright figure, the skill with which she managed her war-horse, and the easy grace with which she handled her weapons. Her military education had been short, but she had availed herself of it well. She had also the good sense to interfere little with the maneuvers of the troops, leaving these things to Dunois, and others whom she had the discernment to recognize as the best officers in the camp. Her tactics in action were simple enough. As she herself described it, "I used to say to them, 'Go boldly in among the English,' and then I used to go boldly in myself."‡

  • See the description of her by Gui de Laval, quoted in the note to Michelet, p. 69; and see the account of the banner at Orleans, which is believed

to bear an authentic portrait of the Maid, in Murray's "Hand-book for France," p. 176.

† "Proces de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i., p. 238.

‡ Id. ib.