Nothing, so far as anyone knows, came near the most unlikely volunteer of all, to lead her thoughts to that art of war of which she knew nothing, and of which her little experience could only have shown her the horrors and miseries, the sufferings of wounded fugitives and the ruin of sacked houses. Of all people in the world, the little daughter of a peasant was the last who could have been expected to respond to the appeal of the wretched country. She had three brothers who might have served the King, and there was no doubt many a stout clodhopper about, of that kind which in every country is the fittest material for fighting, and “food for powder.” But to none of these did the call come. Every detail goes to increase the profound impression of peacefulness which fills the atmosphere—the slow river floating by, the roofs clustered together, the church bells tinkling their continual summons, the girl with her work at the cottage door in the shadow of the apple trees. To pack the little knapsack of a brother or a lover, and to convoy him weeping a little way on his road to the army, coming back to the silent church to pray there, with the soft natural tears which the uses of common life must soon dry—that is all that imagination could have demanded of Jeanne. She was even too young for any interposition of the lover, too undeveloped, the French historians tell us with their astonishing frankness, to the end of her short life, to have been moved by any such thought. She might have poured forth a song, a prayer, a rude but sweet lament for her country, out of the still bosom of that rustic existence. Such things have been, the trouble of the age forcing an utterance from the very depths of its inarticulate life. But it was not for this that Jeanne d’Arc was born.
(1) Mr. Andrew Lang informs me that the real proprietor was a certain “Dame d’Orgevillier.” “On Jeanne’s side of the burn,” he adds, with a picturesque touch of realism, “the people were probably free as attached to the Royal Chatellenie of Vancouleurs, as described below.”
(2) This was probably not the God-dam of later French, a reflection of the supposed prevalent English oath, but most likely merely the God-den or good-day, the common salutation.
(3) Domremy was split, Mr. Lang says, by the burn, and Jeanne’s side were probably King’s men. We have it on her own word that there was but one Burgundian in the village, but that might mean on her side.