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the neighborhood ; but she was distinguished above them all by her diligence, modesty, and piety. Domremi, like other villages, has its traditionary tales of wonder and supernatural agency. There stood at no great distance an old spreading beech-tree, under the branches of which the fairies were said to hold their nightly meetings. Near its foot ran a clear streamlet, the waters of which were believed to work astonishing cures ; and a little farther off was a still more sacred spot, a solitary chapel, called the Hermitage of the Virgin.
2. Joan was accustomed to visit all these places with her companions ; but the Hermitage was her favorite resort, where every Saturday she hung up a garland of flowers or burnt a taper of wax in honor of the mother of Christ. These her early habits are worthy of notice, as they probably served to impress on her mind that romantic character which it afterward exhibited.
3. The child was fond of solitude. Whatever interested her became the subject of long and serious thought ; and in these day-dreams the young enthusiast learnt to invest with visible forms the creations of her own fancy. She was about twelve years old when, walking in her father's garden on a Sunday, she thought that she observed a brilliant light on one side, and heard a voice calling on her by her name. She turned and saw, as she believed, the archangel Michael, who told her to be good, dutiful, and virtuous, and God would protect her. She felt abashed in his presence, but at his departure wept, wishing that he had taken her with him.
4. At length arrived the news of the disastrous battle of Verneuil. Joan witnessed the despair of her parents and neighbors, and learned from them that there remained but one source of hope for her country, the possible accom
plishment of a traditionary prophecy, that from Boischesnu, the adjoining forest of oaks, would come a maid destined to be the savior of France.
5. Such a prediction was likely to make a deep impression on the mind of Joan. One day when she was alone, tending her father's flock, she again heard the voice and saw the form of the archangel ; but he was now accompanied by two females, the Saints Catherine and Margaret, names, it should be observed, familiar to her, for they were the patronesses of the parish church. He announced to her that she was the woman pointed out by the prophecy; that hers was the important commission to conduct her sovereign to Rheims preparatory to his coronation ; that with this view she ought to apply to Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs, for the means of access to the royal presence; and that Catherine and Margaret would accompany her as guides and monitors, whom it was her duty to obey.
6. She was appalled at the idea of so extraordinary a mission, and her confidence was shaken by the incredulity and disapprobation of her parents. But her "voices," as she called them, reiterated the command ; they reprimanded her for her disobedience ; and she began to fear that any longer delay might be a sin which would endanger her salvation.
7. At length the governor, who had deemed it his duty to communicate her history to the Dauphin, received an order to forward her to the French court. On horseback, and in male attire, with an escort of seven persons, she arrived safely at Chinon on the tenth day. An hour was fixed for the admission to the royal presence, and the poor maiden of Domremi was ushered into a spacious hall lighted up with fifty torches and filled with some hundreds of
knights, among whom Charles himself had mixed unnoticed and in plain attire.
8. Joan entered without embarrassment; the glare of the light, the gaze of the spectators, did not disconcert her. Singling out the Dauphin at the first glance, she walked up to him with a firm step, bent her knee, and said, "God give you good life, gentle king !” He was surprised, but replied, “I am not the king ; he is there," pointing at the same time to a different part of the hall.
6. In the name of God," she exclaimed, “it is not they but you are the king. Most noble Lord Dauphin, I am Joan the maid, sent on the part of God to aid you and the kingdom, and by His order I announce to you that you will be crowned in the city of Rheims.”
9. The following day “the maid " (so she was now called) made her appearance in public and on horseback. From her look she was thought to be in her sixteenth or seventeenth year; her figure was slender and graceful, and her long black locks fell in ringlets on her shoulders. She ran a course with the lance, and managed her horse with ease and dexterity. The crowd burst into shouts of admiration ; they saw in her something more than human : she was a knight descended from heaven for the salvation of France.
10. Sixty bastiles or forts, erected in a circle round Orleans, had effectually intercepted all communication with the country, and the horrors of famine were already felt within the walls when it was resolved to make a desperate effort to throw a supply of provisions into the city. A strong body of men, under some of the bravest officers in France, assembled at Blois, and “ the maid " solicited and obtained permission not only to join but also to direct the expedition.