The French generals were gathered in the Dauphin’s tent.
‘The sun gilds our armour,’ said Orleans. He went to the tent’s entrance and called out ‘Up, my lords!’
‘Montez a cheval!’ exclaimed the Dauphin. ‘My horse! Varlet, lacquais! Ha!’
‘Oh brave spirit!’ Orleans could hardly contain his excitement.
‘Via! Les eaux et la terre!’ said the Dauphin [Over earth and through water]
‘Rien plus? L’air et le feu!’ said Orleans. [Is that all? Air and fire]
‘Ciel, cousin Orleans. Now, my Lord Constable,’ said the Dauphin as the High Constable entered the tent.
‘Listen to the horses – neighing for action,’ said the Constable.
‘Mount them and pierce their hides with your spurs so that their hot blood will spurt into the eyes of the English and daub them with the appearance of courage,’ said the Dauphin.
‘What?’ said Rambures. ‘Do you want them weeping our horses’ blood? How will we see their natural tears?’
A messenger reported that the English were lined up for battle. As the sun came up they could see them coming on to the battlefield.
‘To your horses, gallant princes – straight to your horses,’ cried the Constable. ‘Just look at that poor and starving rabble. Your fine display will drain their souls away, leaving them no more than the shells and husks of men. There isn’t enough work for all of us – hardly enough blood in their sickly veins to stain every drawn cutlass, so our French youths will be drawing their swords and sheathing them again because of the lack of action. All we have to do is blow on them – the mere breath of our valour will knock them over. It is beyond all doubt, my lords, that the servants and peasants – the camp followers – who swarm around the points of action, would be enough to clear this field of such a pathetic foe, even if we just stood at the base of this hill and watched out of idle curiosity, except that we are prevented by honour. What more can I say? Let’s do the minimum – we’ll still win. Then let the trumpets sound, the fanfares blow and the notes ring out, because our advance will so frighten them that the English king will crouch down in fear and surrender.’
Lord Grandpre hurried into the tent. ‘What are you waiting for, my lords of France?’ he said. ‘Those island corpses, not caring about their safety, are making the morning field look untidy. Their tattered banners droop in dejection and our air shakes them as it passes by them in scorn. Mars looks shabby as he appears among that bedraggled army, and peeps out uncertainly through a rusty visor. The horsemen sit like ceremonial candlesticks with torches in their hands. Their poor nags hang their heads, their bodies drooping, rheum oozing out of their pale dead eyes. And in their weak, pale mouths the gimmal-bit lies befouled with chewed grass, still and motionless. Their undertakers, the villainous crows, are flying over them, impatient for their moment. There are no words to describe such an army, consisting as it does of the living dead.’
‘They’ve said their prayers and are just waiting for death,’ said the Constable.
The Dauphin threw his head back and laughed. ‘Shall we send them dinners and clean clothes and feed their starving horses, and then fight them after that?’
The Constable lowered his visor. ‘I’m just waiting for my pennant. To the field! I’ll take the banner from a trumpet and use that because I’m in a hurry. Come, let’s go! The sun is high and we’re wasting time!’
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