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JOAN OF ARC.

THE FIRST BOOK.

SWE

THERE was high feasting held at Vaucouleur,
For old Sir Robert had a noble guest,
The Bastard Orleans; and the festive hours,
Cheer'd with the Trobador's sweet minstrelsy,
Pass'd lightly at his hospitable board.
But not to share the hospitable board
And hear sweet minstrelsy, Dunois had sought
Sir Robert's hall; he came to rouse Lorraine,
And glean what force the wasting war had left
For one last effort. Little had the war
Left in Lorraine, but age, and youth unripe
For slaughter yet, and widows, and young maids
Of widow'd loves. And now with his high guest
The Lord of Vaucouleur sat communing

VOL. I.

On what might profit France, and knew no hope,
Despairing of his country, when he heard
An old man and a maid awaited him
In the castle hall. He knew the old man well,
His vassal Claude, and at his bidding Claude
Approach'd, and after meet obeisance made,
Bespake Sir Robert.

“ Good my Lord, I come, 6 With a strange tale; I pray you pardon me “ If it should seem impertinent, and like « An old man's weakness. But, in truth, this Maid “ Hath with such boding thoughts impress’dmy heart, “ I think I could not longer sleep in peace “ Denying what she sought. She saith that God “ Bids her go drive the Englishmen from France! “ Her parents mock at her and call her crazed, “ And father Regnier says she is possess’d;.. “ But I, who know that never thought of ill “ Found entrance in her heart,.. for good my Lord, “ From her first birth-day she hath been to me

“ As mine own child, .. and I am an old man,
“ And have seen many moon-struck in my time,
“ And some who were by evil spirits vex’d, ..
“ I, Sirs, do think that there is more in this...
“ And' who can tell if, in these perilous times,
“ It should please God,..but hear the Maid yourselves,
« For if, as I believe, this is of Heaven,
“ My silly speech doth wrong it.”

While he spake
Curious they mark'd the Damsel. She appear’d
Of eighteen years; there was no bloom of youth
Upon her cheek, yet had the loveliest hues
Of health with lesser fascination fix'd
The gazer's eye ; for wan the Maiden was,
Of saintly paleness, and there seem'd' to dwell
In the strong beauties of her countenance
Something that was not earthly.

“ I have heard
“Of this your niece's malady,” replied
The Lord of Vaucouleur, “that she frequents

“ The loneliest haunts and deepest solitude, “ Estranged from human kind and human cares “ With loathing like to madness. It were best “ To place her with some pious sisterhood, “ Who, duly morn and eve for her soul's health “ Soliciting Heaven, may likeliest remedy “ The stricken mind, or frenzied or possess'd.”

So as Sir Robert ceased, the Maiden cried, “ I am not mad. Possess’d indeed I am! “ The hand of God is strong upon my soul, " And I have wrestled vainly with the LORD, “ And stubbornly I fear me, I can save “ This country, Sir! I can deliver France ! “ Yea..I must save the country! God is in me.. “ I speak not, think not, feel not of myself. “ He knew and sanctified me ere my birth, “ He to the nations hath ordained me, “ And whither he shall send me, I must go, “ And whatso he commands, that I must speak,

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