Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act II. Scene I.
 
Before Orleans.
 
Enter to the Gates, a French Sergeant, and two Sentinels.
  Serg.  Sirs, take your places and be vigilant.
If any noise or soldier you perceive
Near to the walls, by some apparent sign        5
Let us have knowledge at the court of guard.
  First 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.        10
 
Enter TALBOT, BEDFORD, BURGUNDY, and Forces with scaling-ladders; their drums beating a dead march.
  Tal.  Lord regent, and redoubted Burgundy,
By whose approach the regions of Artois,
Walloon, and Picardy, are friends to us,
This happy night the Frenchmen are secure,        15
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,        20
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.        25
  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 armour, as she hath begun.
  Tal.  Well, let them practise and converse with spirits;        30
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,        35
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.        40
Now, Salisbury, for thee, and for the right
Of English Henry, shall this night appear
How much in duty I am bound to both.  [The English scale the walls, crying, ‘Saint George!’ ‘A Talbot!’ and all enter the town.
  First Sent.  Arm, arm! the enemy doth make assault!
 
The French leap over the Walls in their shirts.  Enter, several ways, BASTARD OF ORLEANS, ALENÇON, and REIGNIER, half ready, and half unready.
        45
  Alen.  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.
  Alen.  Of all exploits since first I follow’d arms,        50
Ne’er heard I of a war-like 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, favour him.
  Alen.  Here cometh Charles: I marvel how he sped.        55
  Bast.  Tut! holy Joan was his defensive guard.
 
Enter CHARLES and JOAN LA PUCELLE.
  Char.  Is this thy cunning, thou deceitful dame?
Didst thou at first, to flatter us withal,
Make us partakers of a little gain,        60
That now our loss might be ten times so much?
  Joan.  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?        65
Improvident soldiers! had your watch been good,
This sudden mischief never could have fall’n.
  Char.  Duke of Alençon, this was your default,
That, being captain of the watch to-night,
Did look no better to that weighty charge.        70
  Alen.  Had all your quarters been so 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.        75
  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?        80
  Joan.  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,        85
And lay new platforms to endamage them.
 
Alarum.  Enter an English Soldier, crying, ‘A Talbot! a Talbot!’ They fly, leaving their clothes behind.
  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,        90
Using no other weapon but his name.  [Exit.
 
 
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