Page:Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.djvu/258

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presently when she was more composed he mentioned the reward again and pressed her to name it. Everybody listened with anxious interest to hear what her claim was going to be, but when her answer came their faces showed that the thing she asked for was not what they had been expecting.

"Oh, dear and gracious Dauphin, I have but one desire—only one. If—"

"Do not be afraid, my child—name it."

"That you will not delay a day. My army is strong and valiant, and eager to finish its work—march with me to Rheims and receive your crown."

You could see the indolent King shrink, in his butterfly clothes.

"To Rheims—oh, impossible, my General! We march through the heart of England's power?"

Could those be French faces there? Not one of them lighted in response to the girl's brave proposition, but all promptly showed satisfaction in the King's objection. Leave this silken idleness for the rude contact of war? None of these butterflies desired that. They passed their jewelled comfit-boxes one to another and whispered their content in the head butterfly's practical prudence. Joan pleaded with the King, saying—

"Ah, I pray you do not throw away this perfect opportunity. Everything is favorable—everything. It is as if the circumstances were specially made for it. The spirits of our army are exalted with victory, those of the English forces depressed by defeat. Delay will change this. Seeing us hesitate to follow up our advantage, our men will wonder, doubt, lose confidence, and the English will wonder, gather courage, and be bold again. Now is the time—prithee let us march!"

The King shook his head, and La Tremouille, being asked for an opinion, eagerly furnished it:

"Sire, all prudence is against it. Think of the English strongholds along the Loire; think of those that lie between us and Rheims!"

He was going on, but Joan cut him short, and said, turning to him—