Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/241

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AT ORLEANS. 235


erals and soldiers round him, and a dispirited and divided enemy before him, he could not fail to conquer, though his own imprudence and misconduct, and the stubborn valor which the English still from time to time displayed, prolonged the war in France until the civil war of the Roses broke out in England, and left France to peace and repose.

Joan knelt before the French king in the cathedral of Rheims, and shed tears of joy. She said that she had then fulfilled the work which the Lord had commanded her. The young girl now asked for her dismissal. She wished to return to her peasant home, to tend her parents' flocks again, and live at her own will in her native village.* She had always believed that her career would be a short one. But Charles and his captains were loth to lose the presence of one who had such an influence upon the soldiery and the people. They persuaded her to stay with the army. She still showed the same bravery and zeal for the cause of France. She still was as fervent as before in her prayers, and as exemplary in all religious duties. She still heard her Heavenly Voices, but she now no longer thought herself the appointed minister of Heaven to lead her countrymen to certain victory. Our admiration for her courage and patriotism ought to be increased a hundred fold by her conduct throughout the latter part of her career, amid dangers, against which she no longer believed herself to be divinely secured. Indeed, she believed herself doomed to perish in a little more than a year;† but she still fought on as resolutely, if not as exultingly as ever.

As in the case of Arminius, the interest attached to individual heroism and virtue makes us trace the fate of Joan of Arc after she had saved her country. She served well with Charles's army in the capture of Laon, Soissons, Compiegne, Beauvais, and other strong places; but in a premature attack on Paris, in September, 1429, the French were repulsed, and Joan was severely wounded. In the winter she was again in the field with some of the French troops; and in the following spring she threw herself into the fortress of Compiegne, which she had herself won for the French king in the preceding autumn, and which was now besieged by a strong Burgundian force.

  • "Je voudrais bien qu'il voulut me faire ramener aupres mes pere et

mere, a garder leurs brebis et betail, et faire ce que je voudrois faire."

† "Des le commencement elle avait dit, 'Il me faut employer: je ne durerai qu'un an, ou guere plus.'"—Michelet, v., p. 101.