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Henry VI, Pt. 1 :: Scenes :: Henry VI, Part 1: Act II, Scene 1

Scene 1

France. Before Orleans.

(French Sergeant; First Sentinel; Second Sentinel; Lord Talbot; Duke of Bedford; Duke of Burgundy; Bastard of Orléans; Duke of Alanson; Reignier; Charles the Dauphin of France; Joan de Pucelle; English Soldier)

The English leaders scale the walls of Orleans in the dark, planning to take it back. They discuss Joan la Pucelle, snorting at the idea that she might be a virgin. The French, all asleep after their victory party, are taken completely by surprise, running around half-dressed and blaming each other for not taking proper care of the sentry duties. Charles accuses Joan of treachery and blames everybody but himself for what is happening. As they plan to regroup their soldiers, an English soldier runs in crying ‘A Talbot’, which terrifies them all so much that they run out, leaving their clothes behind. The English soldier picks up them, remarking that Talbot’s name is the only weapon he needs. ( line)

Enter a French Sergeant of a band, with two Sentinels.

FR. SERG.

Sirs, take your places and be vigilant.

If any noise or soldier you perceive

Near to the walls, by some apparent sign

Let us have knowledge at the court of guard.

1. SENT.

Sergeant, you shall.

Exit Sergeant.

Thus are poor servitors,

When others sleep upon their quiet beds,

Constrain’d to watch in darkness, rain, and cold.

Enter Talbot, Bedford, and Burgundy, and forces with scaling-ladders.

TAL.

Lord Regent, and redoubted Burgundy,

By whose approach the regions of Artois,

Wallon, and Picardy are friends to us,

This happy night the Frenchmen are secure,

Having all day carous’d and banqueted:

Embrace we then this opportunity

As fitting best to quittance their deceit

Contriv’d by art and baleful sorcery.

BED.

Coward of France, how much he wrongs his fame,

Despairing of his own arm’s fortitude,

To join with witches and the help of hell!

BUR.

Traitors have never other company.

But what’s that Pucelle whom they term so pure?

TAL.

A maid, they say.

BED.

A maid? And be so martial?

BUR.

Pray God she prove not masculine ere long,

If underneath the standard of the French

She carry armor as she hath begun.

TAL.

Well, let them practice and converse with spirits.

God is our fortress, in whose conquering name

Let us resolve to scale their flinty bulwarks.

BED.

Ascend, brave Talbot, we will follow thee.

TAL.

Not all together. Better far, I guess,

That we do make our entrance several ways;

That, if it chance the one of us do fail,

The other yet may rise against their force.

BED.

Agreed. I’ll to yond corner.

BUR.

And I to this.

TAL.

And here will Talbot mount, or make his grave.

Now, Salisbury, for thee, and for the right

Of English Henry, shall this night appear

How much in duty I am bound to both.

Cry: “Saint George!” “A Talbot!”

The English scale the walls.

1. SENT.

Arm, arm! The enemy doth make assault!

The French leap o’er the walls in their shirts. Enter, several ways, Bastard, Alanson, Reignier, half ready and half unready.

ALAN.

How now, my lords? What, all unready so?

BAST.

Unready? Ay, and glad we scap’d so well.

REIG.

’Twas time, I trow, to wake and leave our beds,

Hearing alarums at our chamber-doors.

ALAN.

Of all exploits since first I follow’d arms,

Ne’er heard I of a warlike enterprise

More venturous or desperate than this.

BAST.

I think this Talbot be a fiend of hell.

REIG.

If not of hell, the heavens sure favor him.

ALAN.

Here cometh Charles, I marvel how he sped.

Enter Charles and Joan de Pucelle.

BAST.

Tut, holy Joan was his defensive guard.

CHAR.

Is this thy cunning, thou deceitful dame?

Didst thou at first, to flatter us withal,

Make us partakers of a little gain,

That now our loss might be ten times so much?

PUC.

Wherefore is Charles impatient with his friend?

At all times will you have my power alike?

Sleeping or waking, must I still prevail,

Or will you blame and lay the fault on me?

Improvident soldiers, had your watch been good,

This sudden mischief never could have fall’n.

CHAR.

Duke of Alanson, this was your default,

That, being captain of the watch tonight,

Did look no better to that weighty charge.

ALAN.

Had all your quarters been as safely kept

As that whereof I had the government,

We had not been thus shamefully surpris’d.

BAST.

Mine was secure.

REIG.

And so was mine, my lord.

CHAR.

And for myself, most part of all this night,

Within her quarter and mine own precinct

I was employ’d in passing to and fro,

About relieving of the sentinels.

Then how, or which way, should they first break in?

PUC.

Question, my lords, no further of the case,

How or which way. ’Tis sure they found some place

But weakly guarded, where the breach was made.

And now there rests no other shift but this,

To gather our soldiers, scatter’d and dispers’d,

And lay new platforms to endamage them.

Alarum. Enter an English Soldier crying, “A Talbot! A Talbot!”

They fly, leaving their clothes behind.

ENG. SOLD.

I’ll be so bold to take what they have left.

The cry of Talbot serves me for a sword,

For I have loaden me with many spoils,

Using no other weapon but his name.

Exit.

 
 
 
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