The siege had lasted for seven months, but eight days of the Maid were enough to bring it to an end. The people of Orleans still, every year, on the 8th of May, make a procession round the town and give thanks to God for its deliverance. Henceforth, the Maid was known no longer as Jeanne d’Arc, the peasant of Domremy, but as La Pucelle d’Orleans, in the same manner in which one might speak of the Prince of Waterloo, or the Duc de Malakoff.
(1) Their special mission seems to have been a demand for the return of a herald previously sent who had never come back. As Dunois accompanied the demand by a threat to kill the English prisoners in Orleans if the herald was not sent back, the request was at once accorded, with fierce defiances to the Maid, the dairy-maid as she is called, bidding her go back to her cows, and threatening to burn her if they caught her.
(2) I avail myself here as elsewhere of Mr. Lang’s lucid description. “It is really perfectly intelligible. The Council wanted a feint on the left bank, Jeanne an attack on the right. She knew their scheme, untold, but entered into it. There was, however, no feint. She deliberately forced the fighting. There was grand fighting, well worth telling,” adds my martial critic, who understands it so much better than I do, and who I am happy to think is himself telling the tale in another way.
(3) She had made this
prophecy a month before, and it was
recorded three weeks before the event in the Town Book of
The rescue of Orleans and the defeat of the invincible English were news to move France from one end to the other, and especially to raise the spirits and restore the courage of that part of France which had no sympathy with the invaders and to which the English yoke was unaccustomed and disgraceful. The news flew up and down the Loire from point to point, arousing every village, and breathing new heart and encouragement