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Dove and Sword: A Novel of Joan of Arc: Epilogue


Afterward, I returned to Poissy. The good prioress told me that Madame had received my message and my medal from my pages, who had found another knight to serve. Madame had died soon after, leaving the medal for me in her hut in the convent wall. She had left all her books for me as well, and, the prioress said, her love.

Much has happened since then. Pierre languished in prison for years, but at last bought his freedom, with Isabelle’s help, and became prosperous, as did Jean. Seven months after Jeanne died, the English boy king, Henry VI, was given the crown of France, and the war continued, with fighting and truces, and fighting again. La Trémoille was saved from an assassin’s sword only by the size of his stomach, but he left the court and was replaced at long last by one who was more willing than he to fight. Paris went to King Charles in 1435, and in that year Philip the Good of Burgundy at last recognized Charles as King of France, and signed an honest treaty with him. In 1449, King Charles took Rouen from the English, and by 1453, they were gone from all but one town, Calais …

“Gabrielle! Are you ready to go?”

I looked up to see Pierre, my thickened, aging friend; it was morning, and I had not slept, remembering. “I am,” I told him, “for though I do not like soldiering now, I do not think Jeanne was evil, and all France—all humankind, perhaps—can learn from her cheerful courage. She was sincere; she loved God; she loved France and saved it, though she did not live to see the outcome of her work. And I will swear that to all who ask.”

Pierre smiled as we left the hut, and he linked my arm through his when I had closed its door firmly behind me to make one more journey.

War has spanned my life, but though I love Jeanne and did not say this to Pierre, I know at last I cannot believe in it. No matter how much I have thought and read and prayed and studied, I have in the end not been able to find it right that people choose to kill and maim one another, though I understand, I think, the passion, like Jeanne’s, that leads them to it, and I respect those who go to the aid of the mouse under the cat’s paw. But it seems to me that as long as people accept that this is the way to resolve differences, and as long as they bully each other, there will continue to be wars, and that is wrong. Is there not some other way to settle quarrels and stop bullies? Perhaps I am not wise enough or learned enough to understand. Maybe someday, far in the future, someone will find a way, and thus end war.

But how will there be a future if a way is not found, and if wars continue?


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