It was the end of the struggle. The French flag swung forth on the parapet, the French shout rose to heaven. Meanwhile a strange sight was to be seen—the St. Michael in shining armour, who had led that assault, shedding tears for the ferocious Classidas, who had cursed her with his last breath. “J’ai grande pitie de ton ame.” Had he but had time to clear his soul and reconcile himself with God!
This was virtually the end of the siege of Orleans. The broken bridge on the Loire had been rudely mended, with a great gouttiere and planks, and the people of Orleans had poured out over it to take the Tourelles in flank—the English being thus taken between Jeanne’s army on the one side and the citizens on the other. The whole south bank of the river was cleared, not an Englishman left to threaten the richest part of France, the land flowing with milk and honey. And though there still remained several great generals on the other side with strong fortifications to fall back upon, they seem to have been paralysed, and did not strike a blow. Jeanne was not afraid of them, but her ardour to continue the fight dropped all at once; enough had been done. She awaited the conclusion with confidence. Needless to say that Orleans was half mad with joy, every church sounding its bells, singing its song of triumph and praise, the streets so crowded that it was with difficulty that the Maid could make her progress through them, with throngs of people pressing round to kiss her hand, if might be, her greaves, her mailed shoes, her charger, the floating folds of her banner. She had said she would be wounded and so she was, as might be seen, the envious rent of the arrow showing through the white plates of metal on her shoulder. She had said all should be theirs de par Dieu: and all was theirs, thanks to our Lord and also to St. Aignan and St. Euvert, patrons of Orleans, and to St. Louis and St. Charlemagne in heaven who had so great pity of the kingdom of France: and to the Maid on earth, the Heaven-sent deliverer, the spotless virgin, the celestial warrior—happy he who could reach to kiss it, the point of her mailed shoe.
Someone says that she rode through all this half-delirious joy like a creature in a dream,—fatigue, pain, the happy languor of the end attained, and also the profound pity that was the very inspiration of her spirit, for all those souls of men gone to their account without help of Church or comfort of priest—overwhelming her. But next day, which was Sunday, she was up again and eagerly watching all that went on. A strange sight was Orleans on that Sunday of May. On the south side of the Loire, all those half-ruined bastilles smoking and silenced, which once had threatened not the city only but all the south of France; on the north the remaining bands of English drawn up in order of battle. The excitement of the town and of the generals in it, was intense; worn as they were with three days of continuous fighting, should they