Story of Joan of Arc - Andrew Lang

How the Voices Prophesied Evil

The end of the year of the Maid was at hand. She had often said that she would last but a year, or little more, counting from May 1429.

Perhaps you remember that the King had made a truce with the Burgundians—an useless truce, for the Burgundians went on fighting, not under their own flag, but under the Leopards of England. The King, as usual, was loitering about, doing nothing. Joan heard, in spring 1430, that three or four hundred English were crossing the Isle of France, which is not a real island, but a district of that name. She was then at Lagny, on the river Marne, not far from Paris. So she rode out from Lagny to meet them, with a gentleman whom the French called "Quenede." Can you guess what "Quenede" means? He was Sir Hugh Kennedy, of the great Kennedy clan in Galloway and Ayrshire. He had fought at the Battle of the Herrings and at Orleans, and he made a good deal of money in France, so that, when he went back to Scotland, he was called "Hugh come wi' the Penny."

When Joan, with her French and Scots, came in sight of the enemy, the English drew themselves up on foot, along the side of a hedge, and Joan and the rest charged them, some on foot, some on horse, and there was hard fighting, for the numbers were about equal. But at last all the English were killed or taken prisoners. There was also taken a robber knight, Franquet d'Arras, who was tried for his crimes and put to death, and the English party among the French thought it very wicked in Joan to allow the rogue to be punished.

In Easter Week Joan was at Melun one day, examining the ditch round the walls to see that it was in good order. Then suddenly the Voices of St. Catherine and St. Margaret spoke to her, and said that she should be taken prisoner before Midsummer day, "and thus it needs must be," and that she was to be resigned to this, and God would help her.

Often after this terrible day the Voices made the same prophecy, but they would never tell her the time and the hour. She prayed that she might die in that hour, for the English had often threatened her that they would burn her as a witch, if they caught her. Often she asked the Voices to warn her of the hour of her capture, for she would not have gone into battle on that day. But they would not tell her, and, after that, she did what the Captains of her party thought best, and it seems that, as to where or when she was to fight, she had no advice from the Voices. But she fought on as bravely as ever, and this was the bravest thing that ever was done by any one. For it was not as if the Voices had said that she should be killed in battle, of which she had no fear. But they said she was to be captured, and she knew that meant she was to be burned alive.

Nobody but Joan would have gone on risking herself every day, not to danger of war, which is the duty of every soldier, but to the death by fire. If any one says that the Voices were only her fancy, and her fear taking a fanciful shape, we must reply that, whatever they really were, she believed all that they said, and thought that they were the voices of her sisters, the Saints. Thus the end of Joan was the most glorious thing in her glorious life, for many could be brave enough when the Saints prophesied victory, but only she could give her body to be burned for her country.