CHAPTER VII — THE SECOND PERIOD. 1429-1430.
The epic so brief, so exciting, so full of wonder had now reached its climax. Whatever we may think on the question as to whether Jeanne had now reached the limit of her commission, it is at least evident that she had reached the highest point of her triumph, and that her short day of glory and success came to an end in the great act which she had always spoken of as her chief object. She had crowned her King; she had recovered for him one of the richest of his provinces, and established a strong base for further action on his part. She had taught Frenchmen how not to fly before the English, and she had filled those stout-hearted English, who for a time had the Frenchmen in their powerful steel-clad grip, with terror and panic, and taught them how to fly in their turn. This was, from the first, what she had said she was appointed to do, and not one of her promises had been broken. Her career had been a short one, begun in April, ending in July, one brief continuous course of glory. But this triumphant career had come to its conclusion. The messenger of God had done her work; the servant must not desire to be greater than his Lord. There have been heroes in this world whose career has continued a glorious and a happy one to the end. Our hearts follow them in their noble career, but when the strain and pain are over they come into their kingdom and reap their reward the interest fails. We are glad, very glad, that they should live happy ever after, but their happiness does not attract us like their struggle.
It is different with those whose work and whose motives are not those of this world. When they step out of the brilliant lights of triumph into sorrow and suffering, all that is most human in us rises to follow the bleeding feet, our hearts swell with indignation, with sorrow and love, and that instinctive admiration for the noble and pure, which proves that our birthright too is of Heaven, however we may tarnish or even deny that highest pedigree. The chivalrous romance of that age would have made of Jeanne d’Arc the heroine of human story. She would have had a noble lover, say our young Guy de Laval, or some other generous and brilliant Seigneur of France, and after her achievements she would have laid by her sword, and clothed herself with the beautiful garments of the age, and would have grown to be a noble lady in some half regal chateau, to which her name would have given new lustre. The young reader will probably long that it should be so; he will feel it an injustice, a wrong to humanity that so generous a soul should have no reward; it will seem to him almost a personal injury that there should not be a noble chevalier at hand to snatch that devoted Maid out of the danger that threatened her, out of the horrible fate that befell her; and we can imagine a generous boy, and enthusiastic girl, ready to gnash