But that is not God’s way. The highest saint is born to martyrdom. To serve God for nought is the greatest distinction which He reserves for His chosen. And this was the fate to which the Maid of France was consecrated from the moment she set out upon her mission. She had the supreme glory of accomplishing that which she believed herself to be sent to do, and which I also believe she was sent to do, miraculously, by means undreamed of, and in which no one beforehand could have believed. But when that was done a higher consecration awaited her. She had to drink of the cup of which our Lord drank, and to be baptised with the baptism with which He was baptised. It was involved in every step of the progress that it should be so. And she was herself aware of it, vaguely, at heart, as soon as the object of her mission was attained. What else could have put the thought of dying into the mind of a girl of eighteen in the midst of the adoring crowd, to whom to see her, to touch her, was a benediction? When she went forth from those gates she was going to her execution, though the end was not to be yet. There was still a long struggle before her, lingering and slow, more bitter than death, the preface of discouragement, of disappointment, of failure when she had most hoped to succeed.
She was on the threshold of this second period when she rode out of Rheims all brilliant in the summer weather, her banner faded now, but glorious, her shining armour bearing signs of warfare, her end achieved—yet all the while her heart troubled, uncertain, and full of unrest. And it is impossible not to note that from this time her plans were less defined than before. Up to the coronation she had known exactly what she meant to do, and in spite of all obstructions had done it, keeping her genial humour and her patience, steering her simple way through all the intrigues of the Court, without bitterness and without fear. But now a vague mist seems to fall about the path which was so open and so clear. Paris! Yes, the best policy, the true generalship would have been to march straight upon Paris, to lose no time, to leave as little leisure as possible to the intriguers to resume their old plots. So the generals thought as well