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“Good my Lord, I come 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'd my heart, I think I could not longer sleep in peace

26 Gainsaying 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; .. 30 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, Who have seen many moon-struck in my time, 35 And some who were by evil Spirits vex’d, ... I, Sirs, do think that there is more in this. And who can tell but, in these perilous times, It may please God, ... but hear the Maid yourselves, For if, as I believe, this is of Heaven,

40 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

45 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

50

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.”

55

So as Sir Robert ceased, the Maiden cried,
“ I am not mad. Possess'd indeed I am ! 60
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 ! 64
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; To
And whatso is his will, that I must do;
And I must put away all fear of man,
Lest he in wrath confound me.”

At the first
With pity or with scorn Dunois had heard
The Maid inspired; but now he in his heart 75
Felt that misgiving which precedes belief
In what was disbelieved and scoff d at late
For folly.

“ Damsel !" said the Chief, “ methinks It would be wisely done to doubt this call,

Haply of some ill Spirit prompting thee

80 To self destruction.”

“ Doubt!” the Maid exclaim'd, It were as easy when I

gaze

around On all this fair variety of things, Green fields and tufted woods, and the blue depth Of heaven, and yonder glorious sun, to doubt 85 Creating wisdom! When in the evening gale I breathe the mingled odours of the spring, And hear the wild wood melody, and hear The populous air vocal with insect life,

89 To doubt God's goodness! There are feelings, Chief, Which cannot lie; and I have oftentimes Felt in the midnight silence of my soul The call of God.”

They listen'd to the Maid, And they almost believed. Then spake Dunois, “Wilt thou go with me, Maiden, to the King, 95 And there announce thy mission ?” thus he said, For thoughts of politic craftiness arose Within him, and his faith, yet unconfirm'd, Determind to prompt action. She replied, “ Therefore I sought the Lord of Vaucouleur, 100 That with such credence as prevents delay, He to the King might send me.

Now beseech you Speed our departure !"

Then Dunois address'd Sir Robert, “ Fare thee well, my friend and host ! It were ill done to linger here when Heaven 105 Vouchsafes such strange assistance. Let what force Lorraine can raise to Chinon follow us; And with the tidings of this holy Maid,

Sent by the LORD, fill thou the country; soon
Therewith shall France awake as from the sleep
Of death. Now Maid! depart we at thy will." 111

God's blessing go with ye!” exclaim'd old Claude, “Good Angels guard my girl!” and as he spake The tears stream'd fast adown his aged cheeks. 66 And if I do not live to see thee more,

115 As sure I think I shall not, .. yet sometimes Remember thine old Uncle. I have loved thee Even from thy childhood Joan! and I shall lose The comfort of mine age in losing thee. But God be with thee, Child !”

Nor was the Maid, Though all subdued of soul, untroubled now 121 In that sad parting; .. but she calm'd herself, Painfully keeping down her heart, and said, “ Comfort thyself, my Uncle, with the thought Of what I am, and for what enterprize

125 Chosen from among the people.

Oh! be sure I shall remember thee, in whom I found A parent's love, when parents were unkind ! And when the ominous broodings of my soul Were scoff’d and made a mock of by all else, 130 Thou for thy love didst hear me and believe. Shall I forget these things ?"... By this Dunois Had arm’d, the steeds stood ready at the gate. But then she fell upon the old man's neck 134 And cried, “Pray for me!.. I shall need thy prayers! Pray for me, that I fail not in my hour!” Thereat awhile, as if some aweful thought Had overpower'd her, his neck she hung;

141

Then rising with flush'd cheek and kindling eye,
“ Farewell !” quoth she, “ and live in hope! Anon
Thou shalt hear tidings to rejoice thy heart,
Tidings of joy for all, but most for thee!
Be this thy comfort !” The old man received
Her last embrace, and weeping like a child, 144
Scarcely through tears could see them on their steeds
Spring up, and go their way.

So on they went, And now along the mountain's winding path Upward they journey'd slow, and now they paused And gazed where o'er the plain the stately towers Of Vaucouleur arose, in distance seen,

150 Dark and distinct; below its castled height, Through fair and fertile pastures, the deep Meuse Roll'd glittering on. Domremi's cottages Gleam'd in the sun hard by, white cottages, That in the evening traveller's weary mind 155 Had waken'd thoughts of comfort and of home, Making him yearn for rest.

But on one spot, One little spot, the Virgin's eye was fix’d, Her native Arc; embower'd the hamlet lay Upon the forest edge, whose ancient woods, 160 With all their infinite varieties, Now form'd a mass of shade. The distant plain Rose on the horizon rich with pleasant groves, And vineyards in the greenest hue of spring, 164 And streams now hidden on their winding way, Now issuing forth in light.

The Maiden gazed Till all

grew
dim

upon « Oh what a blessed world were this !” she cried,

her dizzy eye.

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