Joan starts on her mission—" For this was I born—to drive
the English out of France."


With the increased urgency of her Voices came also what seemed the first opportunity to act. Her uncle Durand Laxart came on a visit to Domremy from his home near Vaucouleurs. To him she opened her heart. She told him of the miraculous mission entrusted to her. How she was to fulfill it she did not know. Only that God would be with her and guide and guard her until its consummation. She won over the good-hearted old man who knew her for a pious, obedient, industrious child. Of armies or sieges or crowning of kings he knew nothing; but he believed in Joan and promised to help her in every way she asked, without doubts or questions. This brave, simple, old man was heaven's next instrument in the saving of France and Europe and the Chair of St. Peter, from English domination. For to the writer it has always seemed as if 'this last was the real cause of Heaven's interference in the military schemes of a people whose national policy seemed mainly foreign conquest; and whose success in France would make the subjugation of Italy


comparatively easy.

Joan induced her uncle to take her back with him on a visit to his home in Burey right near Vaucouleurs. Under cover of this visit to her uncle she was to leave Domremy without attracting any attention. On the way she explained to old Laxart:

"For this was I born—to drive the English out of France."

"I must go to Robert de Baudricourt, the Governor of Vaucouleurs and demand of him an escort of men at arms, and a letter to the king. A year from now a blow will be struck which will be the beginning of the end, and the end will follow swiftly."

Joan and her uncle presented themselves at the house of the Governor of Vaucouleurs. Around the Governor at the time were many members of his garrison and official staff, discussing the latest news from the interior, which was as usual without any streak of lightning about French victories. It was a monotonous record of the steady advance of the English army, swallowing one town after another in their onward march, leaving in each new conquest some of their army for garrison and some of their standards for sign of their occupation. The capture of their own Vaucouleurs, too, seemed inevitable.


It was not a very cheerful company around the Governor who heard the announcement that a young girl was outside begging audience with him, who would not tell her business but to him. " Bring her in," said Baudricourt.

At sight of the room full of bravely costumed men uncle Laxart became embarrassed fumbled with his cap and forgot what he wanted to say. But the inspired girl in her homespun red dress, rough shoes and white coif, came forward looking at no one but the Governor, whom she recognized at once, and said:

"My message is to you, Robert de Baudricourt, Governor of Vaucouleurs, and it is this: "that you will send and tell the Dauphin to wait and not give battle to his enemies yet, for God will presently send him help."

All eyes were riveted on the speaker of such a strange message, and for a moment there was silence. The Governor scowled: " What nonsense is this? The King—or the Dauphin as you call him—needs no message of that sort. He will wait indeed. He has no thought of fight. What further have you to say to me? "

"This: to beg of you 'to give me an escort of men-at-arms and send me to the Dauphin."

"What for?"


"That he may make me his General; for it is appointed that I shall drive the English out of and set the crown upon his head."

"What! You? You are but a child."

"Nevertheless, I am appointed to do this thing."

"Indeed! And when is all this to happen?"

"Next year he will be crowned, and after t will remain master of France."

"Who sent you with these extravagant messages?"

"My Lord, the King of Heaven."

The seriousness and sadness of the Governor's company had changed to merriment at Joan's first words, but now they changed again to pity for the "poor demented thing," and Baudricourt said to Laxart:

"Take this mad child home and whip her soundly. That in the best cure for her ailment."

Poor Joan! What could she do but turn and go. But ere she went she raised her eyes to the Governor's and said sweetly:

"It is my Lord that has commanded. Therefor must I come again and yet again. Then I shall have 'the men-at-arms."

The Governor said nothing to this, and uncle Laxart led her away.


Joan, disappointed but not discouraged, went back to Domremy to wait further what God's will had in store for her. Now her story was out she made no further reserve, but calmly and firmly reiterated when asked, that she had a commission from God to help the King and France, and that God in His own good time would help his willing handmaid to accomplish the task she never sought and would fain escape now if God so willed.

A hard summer and fall and winter followed for Joan. Her father's displeasure at the unnatural future his daughter was seeking, her mother's patient sympathy, which however had no understanding in it of her mission, would have been hard to bear if her Voices had not sustained her.

Her brothers and former companions could no longer share with her their sports or gay conversation.

Her eyes seemed to look over and beyond them ever, as if her wonderful call was always in her ears. But she was gentle and patient with everybody. Even when an ardent youth with her hopeful parents' glad consent, sought to take her out of all difficulties by asking her to be his wife, her refusal was kind. So kind that he and her parents thought if they got the Bishop to command her she would never dare hesitate; and once married all would end well. Joan


was cited before the Bishop; but her simple directness saved her; with her eyes on the horizon beyond which was her un-crowned king, she gave such sweetly courageous denial to the Bishop that she had ever been engaged to this man, the Bishop let her go and put no command on her whose path was so plainly marked out by heaven already.

From May, 1428, until 'the 5th of January, 1429, Joan spent in trying to reconcile her parents and friends to her fate and waiting for definite call to action. At last she sought her uncle Laxart again.

"I must go into France. The time is come. My Voices are not vague now, but clear, and they have told me what I must do. In two months I shall be with the Dauphin."

Once more and for the last time (and she knew it) she left her childhood's home. She was seventeen now, and though of the poor and dressed like them in her rough red dress, she had an exalted look on her face and a dignity in her carriage, that Baudricourt marked well when she again presented herself to him, begging him to send her with a proper escort to the Dauphin that she might free France.

"I must still come to you until you send me to the king for so it is commanded me. I dare not disobey.


I must go 'to the Dauphin though I go on my knees."

But Baudricourt sent her away with no promise of ever granting her request.

In Baudricourt's council was a noble cavalier, Sir Jean de Metz, a true soldier, as it proved later, who was a silent spectator at both meetings of Joan with the Governor. He was struck with the tranquillity of Joan's courage. Her face and voice and whole attitude appealed to him, and he was inspired to take up her cause. Joan's earnestness was contagious.

The Sir de Metz was touched with sympathy to see the little maid's disappointment after Baudricourt's second refusal to help her. He followed her and questioned her.

"Is it necessary that you go to the king soon? That is, I mean—"

"Before Mid-Lent even though I wear my legs to the knees," replied Joan, and the reflection of the glory of St. Michael 'the Archangel was on her face and in her clear eyes as she turned them on him.

For a silent moment he gazed down into that face and caught somewhat of its holy earnestness. At length he said:

"God knows I think you should have the men-at-arms, and that something would come of it.


What is it that you would do? What is your hope and purpose?

"To rescue France," she said. " And it is appointed that I shall do it. For no one else in the world, neither kings, nor dukes, nor the daughter of the King of Scotland, nor any other can recover the kingdom of France, and there is no help but in me."

(The daughter of the King of Scotland, was to marry the son of the Dauphin and so ally the two countries.)

And seeing the infinite pity in the eyes of the nobleman she dropped her own and added pathetically:

"But indeed I would rather spin with my mother; for this is not my calling; but I go and do it, for it is my Lord's will"

"Who is your Lord?"

"He is God."

"When do you wish- to start?"

"Sooner at once than to-morrow. Sooner tomorrow than later."

Then Sir de Metz, inspired no doubt by the kind Heaven that led Joan, knelt, and oath to Joan that by God's help he would if no other, lead her to the King. He t his friend and comrade knight, Sir de Poulengy, to her also and together they pledge themselves her knights henceforward, to lead her to the King and to follow her lead thereafter.


But these two strong allies were not the Governor and it was the Governor of Vaucouleurs, her Voices said, should send her to the king. It was Ascension Day, 1428, when Joan went first to Baudricourt. Ten months were wasted in trying to win his favorable attention.

Joan induced her uncle to take lodgings with her near the Governor's house, for she knew she must see him again and soon. Meantime her story got abroad. There had been not one syllable of good news for so long in any part of France 'that the word that a maiden had come with a commission from Heaven to help Orleans and the King, was like a beautiful shower after a long, long drought. Everybody seized it eagerly and passed it along. They may not have placed any faith in it, but it was a word of hope and sounded so good to a despairing people.

The whole population of that part of France talked of nothing but the angel woman sent by God to crown the King and drive out the English.

With the people the crowning of the king was a most necessary preliminary. They refused to acknowledge the King of England who had been proclaimed in Paris six years before.


But the Dauphin of France was not king till sacred oil be poured upon his head at Meanwhile they had no head and Joan’s promise to crown the king at Reims great significance for them. Then, too, one revived the old prophesy that said would be lost by a harlot, and regained a maid.

It was now on every tongue. Did not the frivolous Queen of Charles VI sign away the t of her son, the Dauphin, to the succession, acknowledging the King of England to be King France, thus opening the gates full to the English. And here now was a maid come say she was sent to crown the Dauphin and out the English.

Meantime the siege of Orleans was in progress. "The Moscow Campaign of the English is France," as Andrew Lang aptly calls it. In his excellent work on "The Maid of France," he details from English official accounts, the gigantic English preparations for the complete subjugation of France. The English Treasury was emptied to purchase great stores of arms and ammunition, and the latest and best appliances of military science.

The men to fight were drafted for six months, which was considered ample time now to finish the war that had lasted for nearly a hundred years.


Orleans was the last real stronghold of 'the French. It was a brave town within a square mile of walls of great height and thickness, with a coronal of towers, and its riverfront protected by a fort and bridge.

It was well garrisoned and well provided with food and guns, when the siege began on October 12, 1428.

Around the town the English had built forts or bastiles connected with each other, imposing in appearance. There were fully a dozen of these commanding all approaches to the city.

Between all of these in turn and the besieged city a series of skirmishes was kept up all 'through the months of October and November, 1428, while Joan was at Vaucouleurs trying to be patient; her heavenly voices urging her on and the officials of beleaguered France barring her progress.

On December 1, 1428, the great Talbot or-rived from England to take the place of Salisbury who had been mortally wounded in one of the skirmishes. Talbot brought fresh supplies of men and guns and ammunition and before one or other of the half-dozen gates of the city more or less fighting took place every day.


Only on Christmas Day there was a truce. Some of these skirmishes were serious enough both sides to be called battles. Two armies hardly live seven months within such range without some bloodshed. But there no real sustained fighting. The French were afraid and the English, sure of themselves, were in no hurry. The Dauphin was expecting help from Scotland, France's old ally. France and Scotland had in turn saved each other's independence before from England. On January 3, 1429, the town council of Tournai heard from the Dauphin, who was at Chinon that an army was coming from Scotland, which would arrive early in May.

The infant daughter of King James I of Scotland, betrothed to the infant son of the Dauphin, was coming with a splendid army to the succor of her future home.

The English heard the news, too, and prepared to attack the Scottish transports.

On February 14, 1429, Joan went once more ft the castle at Vaucouleurs and presented herself to the Governor. A few days previously be had come to her at her lodgings bringing with him a priest who in surplice and stole read from the Divine Office for the exorcism of the evil spirit—while the Governor watched eagerly for any sign of witch or devil.



Joan answered the priest's questions and submitted to his tests with perfect calmness and good temper. She was more sorry for the wrong he did himself than for the insult put on her. He pronounced her safe and sane, however, very much to the Governor's trouble of mind, who would like to be excused from further thought of her.

About this time the defenders of Orleans got word of a huge convoy of food and ammunition to the English. A French army of 4,000 fighting men mostly mounted left Orleans to intercept and capture the convoy. Their own food was becoming scarce. The English convoy numbered but 1,500, including the commissariat, to guard the wagons loaded with guns and barrels of salt herrings, for it was Lent.

But the 1,500 English and their allies drove the French back to Orleans and drove their herrings safely to their own camp.

So discouraged were the French by this one defeat, the "Battle of the Herrings," as it is known in history, that two thousand of those defeated Orleanists, with Charles de Bourbon (who commanded at Orleans) at their head and the bishop of Orleans (who, by the way, was a Scotchman, Andrew Lang says) left Orleans as already a doomed town and went further south to where the Dauphin was sheltered.


The 14th of February Joan presented herself to the Governor.

"In God's name," she said vehemently, " you ace too slow about sending me and have caused thereby, for 'this day the Dauphin's cause has lost a battle near Orleans."

The Governor looked earnestly at her for a full moment. "Today?" How can you know what has happened in that region to-day? It would t or ten days for word to come from there."

"I told you a serious battle was lost to-day and it is your fault to delay me so."

A ray of light struck the puzzled old soldier. He swore a great oath that if it proved true, as she said, that a battle that day was fought and should have a letter and an escort to the King.

Then answered Joan: "Now God be thanked these waiting days are almost done. In nine days you will fetch me the letter."

Joan made her preparations accordingly. Her weary waiting was at last over.

To her trusted knights, Jean de Metz and Bertrand de Poulengy, she gave orders to be for one hour before midnight of the 23d.


They would march secretly out of Vaucouleurs and through the country to Chinon where the Dauphin was.

At ten, the night of the 23rd, the Governor came. He had received news of the Battle of the Herrings. He delivered over to Joan a mounted escort of soldiers. He gave her also horses for her brothers and her two knights and a letter to the king. Then he took off his own sword and belted it around her waist.

"You said true, child. The battle was lost on that day. So I have kept my word. Now go! Come of it what may!"