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Jeanne D’arc: The Maid Of France
by [?]

In leisure hours Jeanne played and danced and sang as merrily as the other children, who gathered often around the big oak tree in the Ancient Wood, called the “Fairies’ Tree,” which was the subject of many a song and legend. But although she was as merry and light-hearted as her other friends, yet she was more truly pious, for she loved to go to mass and to hear the church bells echo through the quiet valley, and often when her comrades were frolicking around the “Fairies’ Tree” she would steal off to place an offering on the altar of Our Lady of Domremy. And too, her piety took a practical form as well, and when in later years every act of hers was treasured up and repeated, those who had known her in her early girlhood had many tales to tell of her sweet help in times of sickness. It is said she was so gentle that birds ate from her hand, and so brave that not the smallest animal was lost when she guarded the flock.

“Her mother taught her all her store of learning; the Creed and Ave and Pater Noster, spinning and sewing and household craft, while wood and meadow, forest flowers and rushes by the river, bells summoning the soul to think of God and the beloved saints from their altars, all had a message for that responsive heart.”

She herself has said, “I learned well to believe, and have been brought up well and duly to do what a good child ought to do.”

And too, her spirit responded throbbingly to the beauty and the mystery and the wonder of that life which is unseen, as well as to all tales of heroic deeds, and as she brooded on the sorrows of the Dauphin and of her beloved France, her nature became more and more quick to receive impressions which had no place in her routine of life, even though at that time with great practical bravery she was helping the villagers resist the invasions of bands of marauders. Then came a day when her life was for ever set apart from her companions. With them she had been running races in the meadow on this side of the Ancient Wood. Fleet-footed and victorious, she flung herself down to rest a moment when a boy’s voice whispered in her ear, “Go home. Your mother wants you.”

True to her habit of obedience, Jeanne rose at once, and leaving the merry company walked back through the valley to her home. But it was no command from her mother which had come to her, and no boy’s voice that had spoken. In these simple words she tells the story: She says, “I was thirteen at that time. It was mid-day in the Summer, when I heard the Voice first. It was a Voice from God for my help and guidance and that first time I heard it I was much afraid. I heard it to the right toward the Church. It seemed to come from lips I should reverence.”

Then with solemn awe she told of the great Vision which suddenly shone before her while an unearthly light flamed all around her, and in its dazzling radiance she saw St. Michael, Captain of the Hosts of Heaven and many lesser angels. So overwhelming was the Vision and the radiance, that she stood transfixed, lifting adoring eyes. Having been taught that the true office of St. Michael was to bring holy counsel and revelations to men, she listened submissively to his words. She was to be good and obedient, to go often to Church, and to be guided in all her future acts by the advice of St. Margaret and St. Catherine who had been chosen to be her counsellors. Then before the Vision faded, came a message so tremendous in its command, of such vast responsibility that it is small wonder if the little peasant maid lifted imploring hands, crying out for deliverance from this duty, until at last, white and spent, she sank on her knees with clasped hands, praying that this might not come to be true–that it might not be she who had been chosen by God to go to the help of the Dauphin–to lead the armies of France to victory.