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

Her assertion was as preposterous as before, but this time Baudricourt did not laugh, there was something haunting, powerful, in the girl’s mystical manner, and in her dignity of bearing, which puzzled the gruff Captain, and made him listen, but as he offered her no help, the interview was fruitless, and she was obliged to return again to the Laxarts’ home, near Vaucouleurs, where while she waited she gave what help she could in the household, but also went often to church, and often partook of the Sacrament, praying for help in her mission. Whoever knew her loved her, and her popularity was so widespread that the people of Vaucouleurs, with a growing belief in her ability to accomplish what no one else could for their beloved country, decided to themselves fit her out for her expedition to the Dauphin, and two knights, De Metz and Poulengy, who had become deeply attached to Jeanne, vowed to go wherever she might lead them.

It was not safe for her to travel in a woman’s clothes, so she was provided by the people’s gifts, with a close-fitting vest, trunk and hose of black, a short dark grey cloak and a black cap, and her hair was cut after the fashion of men’s wearing. Sixteen francs bought a horse for her, and the only bit of her old life she carried with her was a gold ring which her mother and father had given her.

Before starting, Baudricourt’s permission had to be obtained, and again Jeanne went to him; this time crying out:

“In God’s name, you are too slow for me, for this day the gentle Dauphin has had near Orleans a great loss, and he will suffer greater if you do not send me soon!”

As before, Baudricourt listened to her, and enjoyed watching the play of emotions on her changeful face, but he said nothing either to encourage or to hinder her, and Jeanne knew that without further consent from him she must now go on her journey.

At once she wrote a letter of farewell to her parents asking their forgiveness for doing what she knew would be against their wishes, and telling of the reality of her divine mission as it was revealed to her. She received no answer to this, but there was no attempt made to hinder her, and all preparations having been made, on the evening of the twenty-third of February, before a great crowd of spectators who had gathered to see her leave Vaucouleurs, the slender, calm figure in the page’s suit stood ready to leave behind all a young girl should have of loving protection, for the sake of what she conceived to be a sacred mission.

With her men around her, she mounted her horse, and as she halted for a moment before starting,–seeing her dignity and graceful bearing, her men were filled with pride in her,–even Baudricourt himself came down from the castle, and made the men take an oath to guard her with their own lives, then gave her a sword and a letter to the Dauphin.

While they stood there ready to start, a man asked Jeanne:

“How can you hope to make such a journey, and escape the enemy?”

Quick and clear Jeanne’s answer rang out, “If the enemy are on my road, I have God with me, who knows how to prepare the way to the Lord Dauphin. I was born to do this.”

Then with a swift signal, the solemn little cavalcade rode out into the night, while eyes were strained to see the last of the brave Maid, who conceived it her consecrated duty to go to the aid of the Dauphin, and her well loved land.

On their way towards Chinon where the weak little Dauphin was holding his court, rode Jeanne and her six men, and a dangerous way it was, lying through a country over-run with marauding English and Burgundian warriors, and Jeanne’s men were uneasy at escorting so young and fair a maid under such dangerous conditions, but Jeanne herself was unconcerned and fearless as they rode on into the valley of the Loire, noting on every side the devastation done by war and pillage. For greater safety they rode mostly by night, often travelling thirty miles in twenty-four hours,–a pretty severe test of the endurance of a girl of seventeen, unaccustomed to riding or of leading men-at-arms, but her courage and enthusiasm never flagged. With their horses’ feet wrapped in cloths to deaden the clatter of hoofs, they went on their way as swiftly as was possible, and day by day the men’s devotion to this Maid who was their leader grew deeper, as they saw the purity of her character and the nobility of her purpose.