David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 1 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 3

— 3.3 —

On the plains near Rouen, Charles the Dauphin, the Bastard of Orleans, the Duke of Alençon, and Joan la Pucelle talked. Some soldiers were present.

Joan la Pucelle said, “Princes, don’t be dismayed at this event, nor grieve that Rouen has been recovered like this. Care — that is, grief — is no cure, but instead it is corrosive, for things that are not to be remedied. Let wildly enraged Talbot triumph for a while and like a peacock sweep and flaunt his tail; we’ll pull his plumes and take away his train — his peacock tail and his army — if Charles the Dauphin and the rest will just take my advice.”

Charles the Dauphin said, “We have been guided by you hitherto, and we did not mistrust your cunning. One sudden setback shall never breed distrust. We will continue to trust in you.”

The Bastard of Orleans said, “Search your mind for secret stratagems, and we will make you famous throughout the world.”

The Duke of Alençon said, “We’ll set up your statue in some holy place and have you reverenced like a blessed saint. Therefore, sweet virgin, devote yourself to our good.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “Then thus it must be; this is Joan’s plan: By fair persuasive arguments mixed with sugared words, we will entice the Duke of Burgundy to leave the Talbot and to follow us.”

Charles the Dauphin said, “Yes, indeed, sweet thing, if we could do that, France would be no place for Henry’s warriors, nor would England boast to us that France belongs to it, but instead the English would be rooted out from our provinces.”

The Duke of Alençon said, “The English would be expelled forever from France and not have the possession of an Earldom here.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “Your honors shall perceive how I will work to bring this matter to the wished-for end.”

Drums sounded. They were drums first of Talbot’s army and second of the Duke of Burgundy’s army.

Joan la Pucelle said, “Listen! By the sound of the drums, you may perceive that their armies are marching toward Paris.”

The drums of Talbot’s army sounded as the English soldiers marched past.

Joan la Pucelle said, “There goes the Talbot, with his flags unfurled, and all the troops of English soldiers after him.”

The drums of the Duke of Burgundy’s army sounded as the French soldiers in his army marched near Joan and the others.

Joan of Pucelle said, “Now in the rearward come the Duke of Burgundy and his soldiers. Lady Fortune favors us and makes him lag behind. Summon a parley; we will talk with him.”

Trumpets sounded a parley.

Charles the Dauphin called, “We wish to have a parley with the Duke of Burgundy!”

The Duke of Burgundy asked, “Who craves a parley with the Burgundy?”

Joan la Pucelle replied, “The Princely Charles of France, your countryman.”

“What do you have to say, Charles?” the Duke of Burgundy asked, “I am marching away from here.”

“Speak, Pucelle,” Charles the Dauphin said, “and enchant him with your words.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “Brave Burgundy, undoubted hope of France! Wait, let your humble handmaid speak to you.”

“Speak on,” the Duke of Burgundy said, “but don’t be over-tedious. Don’t be too talkative.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “Look on your country; look on fertile France, and see the cities and the towns defaced by the wasting ruination wrought by the cruel foe. Just like the mother looks on her lowly babe when death closes his tender, dying eyes, see, see the pining malady of France. Behold the wounds, the most unnatural wounds, which you yourself have given her woeful breast. Oh, turn your edged sword another way! Strike those who hurt France, and do not hurt those who help France. One drop of blood drawn from your country’s bosom should grieve you more than streams of foreign gore. Return therefore to the side of France with a flood of tears, and wash away your country’s stained spots.”

“Either she has bewitched me with her words, or natural feelings make me suddenly relent,” the Duke of Burgundy said to himself.

Joan la Pucelle continued, “Besides, all the French and all France exclaim to you, doubting your birth and lawful descent. Who have you joined with but a lordly nation who will not trust you except for the sake of profit? When Talbot has once established firm footing in France and made you a tool of evil, who then but English Henry VI will be lord? You will then be thrust out like a fugitive! We remember, and you should note this as good evidence — wasn’t the Duke of Orleans your foe? And wasn’t he held prisoner in England? But when they heard he was your enemy, they set him free without his ransom paid, to spite you, Duke of Burgundy, and all your friends. See, then, you are fighting against your countrymen and you have joined with those who will be your slaughterers.

“Come, come, return; return, you wandering lord. Charles the Dauphin and the others will take you in their arms.”

“I am vanquished,” the Duke of Burgundy said. “These high-minded words of hers have battered me like roaring cannon-shot, and made me almost yield upon my knees.

“Forgive me, country and sweet countrymen; lords, accept this hearty, heartfelt, kind embrace. My forces and my army of men are yours.

“So farewell, Talbot; I’ll no longer trust you.”

Joan la Pucelle thought, cynically, Done like a Frenchman; turn, and turn again! First he fights on one side, and then he fights on the other side!

“Welcome, brave Duke of Burgundy!” Charles the Dauphin said. “Your friendship invigorates us.”

The Bastard of Orleans said, “And it begets new courage in our breasts.”

“Joan la Pucelle has bravely played her part in this, and she deserves a coronet of gold,” the Duke of Alençon said.

“Now let us continue on, my lords, and join our armies,” Charles the Dauphin said, “and seek how we may injure the foe.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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