I am Madame Marguerite la Touroule, the wife of the King's Revenue Collector. Thank you, my Lord, Count Mortain and Porcien-en-Rhetélois, for allowing me to add my memories to your growing list of contributors. I miss my courageous young guest very much. How blessed I am by the Good Lord to have known the Maid and to have had the honor of saying that she enjoyed herself while she was in my home. The memory of her sweet company will stay with me until I die. My one prayer is that someday I will again be with her, in heaven!
Marguerite La Touroule
I was thirty-nine, when Jeanne stayed in my house, here in the City of Bourges. For a period of three weeks she lived with me, eating, drinking and almost every night sharing my bed. In that short time I came to love her as a close friend. I never saw nor perceived anything in her that troubled me, because she behaved as an honest Christian woman. Jeanne went to confession often, with great favor heard Mass and frequently asked me to go to evening prayers with her. Except in matters of war, Jeanne was very simple and naïve, knowing almost nothing of the world. She was of admirable character and carried herself with quiet strength, vigor and elegance. Even though she always showed excellent prudence by limiting her conversations, when she did speak her voice was soft, limpid and filled with womanly charm. She greatly disliked idle chatter and was unimpressed by superfluous words. She ate little and drank very little wine. She greatly admired noble fighting men and delighted in beautiful horses and armor. She had the gift of tears and shed them abundantly, yet more often than not, her face was cheerful and smiling. Her squire spoke of Jeanne's marvelous great capacity for hard work and that she bore the weight and burden of her armor incredibly well. He explained that for six continuous days and nights she had her armor on and never complained of the inevitable stiffness and pain that it would cause. When she was not wearing her armor, she wore the clothes of a young knight with shoes laced up on the outside of the foot, with tunic and hose. Over her tunic she wore expensive clothes made from the finest of fabrics such as cloth made from gold thread, scarlet velvet or rich silks lined with fur. Whenever she was out walking or riding, she had a small velvet cap jauntily cocked on the side of her head.
Another interesting point that I noted about Jeanne was how extremely neat she kept herself, from her hair to her attire and even her concern about her manners. My curiosity on this point got the better of me and so I asked her. Jeanne replied in a very unassuming way that as long as she was the King of Heaven's representative she should always look and act as such. She also greatly detested rudeness and would always greet others with respect.
Two blocks from my home is the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi. We attended Mass there together every morning. I witnessed her piety and was greatly edified by it. Her face radiated with love and devotion for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I marveled at her ability to become so completely engrossed in her prayers. It was as if she were the only person in the world speaking to the Lord!
One morning while walking to church Jeanne told me that she was a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis.
"Jeanne," I politely inquired, "how is it that you came to join the Third Order?"
"Well, Marguerite, in my area of Lorraine the friars and priests of Saint Francis are held in great esteem. A very large number of people, no matter the class or station in life, whether male or female, young or old, fervently embraced the rule of the Third Order of Saint Francis. It was not hard for a person to enter, the only qualifications are that you professed the Catholic faith and are obedient to the Church. A person could take on the Third Order's rule without fear of committing a mortal sin if he didn't live up to it. That allowed parents to take the vows for their young children. The advantage of this was that these children, whether boys or girls, had the opportunity to be brought up and educated at the Order's expense. The boys were educated until they were fifteen and the girls until they were thirteen. If at that time they decided to join the monastic life, they remained in the cloister. Otherwise they were given a small amount of money and returned to their parents. We would call these children 'the little children of the Mendicants.' At least once a month, I would walk the five miles north to one such convent in order that I could receive Holy Communion with them."
"My village of Domremy was very often visited by the Franciscan priests and friars. I remember with warm feelings how they would call all the children together before the village church. After we were all seated comfortably on the ground, they would tell us their marvelous stories about good Saint Francis and Saint Claire. I thrilled at these Saints' courage in facing all sorts of dangers for the Lord. How brave they were! I imagined myself accompanying Saint Francis to the Holy Land, where I would help convert the infidels to the true faith. I tried to accomplish that dream when I wrote to the English and the Duke of Burgundy but sadly they would not listen. They refused to make peace with us and in so doing, failed to join with us in this vital quest."
"Jeanne, tell me more about your childhood."
She quickly shook off her sadness to speak with pride about her relatives. "My mother's brother, Uncle Henri, is a priest and my young cousin, Nicolas, is a Franciscan friar. How blessed they are to be able to give their lives to the Lord. How fortunate for my uncle to be able to bring down Our Dear Lord upon the altar at Mass and hold Him in his hands. How truly blessed he is!"
"There is a Franciscan monastery called the Abbey of the Hermits of Saint Augustine, only four or five miles south of my village. I would very often make pilgrimages there to pray and meditate on the mysteries of God. It was on one of my many pilgrimages to this monastery, that the Abbot came up to me and said, 'Since you are here so often, why don't you think about becoming a member of the Third Order?' 'Oh my Lord Abbot, may I? I would be so honored if you would let me!' "
Jeanne's face lit up with great joy. "On that very day, I became a member of the Third Order! Oh, Marguerite, you don't know how mightily the Franciscans influenced my life with their great love of God and their eagerness to serve Him by helping the poor, the needy and by tending the sick. They taught me to give cheerfully what little I had to those who had even less. I was instructed in the significance of saying the Angelus every day with deep reverence. I was shown how important it is for my spiritual life to observe with very great piety and devotion the Lord's Passion. The feast of the Annunciation is also considered a very vital feast. From then on I have tried wholeheartedly to follow their way. You know I too put the holy names of 'Jhesus and Maria' at the top of most of my letters, just as they do, to help spread the devotion!"
Because I observed Jeanne's profound reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament, I asked her to tell me about her first Holy Communion. Instantly a blissful expression flashed across her face. "Marguerite, I can remember that exalted day as if it were yesterday! It seems to me that on that day I was born anew with my heart leaping for joy!"
"Come, Maid, please, tell me about it."
"I was ten years old when it came time for me to finally receive Jesus, my Lord and King, in Holy Communion. My parents were not wealthy, so they could not afford to buy me the usual white dress for the occasion. Instead, I had to work extra chores around the village to earn the money. After several months I believed I had earned just enough to buy a white linen veil."
"The next time the traveling cloth merchant made his rounds through my village, I ran, to his stand. I took my time sorting through the five bolts of linen cloth, weighing, comparing and feeling the quality of each of the weaves."
"This was a very important discretion for me so I wanted to make quite sure that the cloth I chose would be the finest, the purest, the whitest linen possible. The merchant chuckled as he watched me struggle over my decision. Yet even his patience wore thin after an hour of my indecision. 'You are wearing out my cloth!' the crafty merchant said, 'Make your choice or be gone. I don't have all day to waste on you!' "
" 'Please sir, don't be angry. But I just have to get the very best cloth I can.., for my first Communion.' "
" 'Oh, if that's the case.' He said as he walked to the front of his cart. 'Forget those pieces of trash.... You must see this!' He struggled to pull from under the front seat a small but heavy oak chest. 'This contains my VERY best merchandise, the kind I save for my most important customers. I am sure I will have exactly what this special occasion calls for.' "
"He dug through layers of cloth until he pulled out a lovely long veil. With a snap of his wrists the cloth unfurled to its full length. My young eyes squinted and blinked at its glistening whiteness as I said, 'Truly this is the finest and purest white linen I have ever seen.' "
"The kindly old merchant handed it to me. He watched with great pride as it flowed ever so softly over my head and shoulders. He told me that I looked like an angel and that I reminded him of his dearly departed daughter, Claudette, who years before the 'Black Death' had taken from him. 'Too bad she never lived long enough to receive HER first Holy Communion.' The man said as a tear rolled down his hollow cheek. Coming back to his normal, hard-bitten ways, he demanded, 'How much can you pay?' "
"His sudden change of tone made me jump and I hurriedly pulled the purse from my belt and poured its contents into his large hand. The man's face soured as his eyes narrowed on the pitiable small amount. 'This will NEVER DO. I can get ten times that amount in Neufchateau!' "
"I bit my lip, hard. 'It's all I have - sir. Can I offer you something else in trade? How about a bag of my father's finely carded wool? Or perhaps a chicken or two? How about a hot meal and a safe dry place to sleep tonight?' I could see that none of this seemed to interest him. Crestfallen my chin sank and I began to carefully remove the lovely long veil from my head."
" 'All right, all right.., you drive a hard bargain, young maid. The idea of a hot meal and a safe dry place to sleep sounds very inviting to a man who normally sleeps beneath his wagon in all types of weather. I will tell you what I will do. Seeing that you remind me of my daughter, God rest her sweet soul, I will let you have the veil, BUT you must promise to pray for both me and my little girl and that you will pay me this same amount the next time I come through your village. What say you?' "
"I eagerly agreed and led the man with his wagon home. It took some persuading on my part but I ultimately talked my parents into letting the merchant stay for the evening meal and a good night's rest. From that time on whenever the merchant came to our village he would always find a welcomed place at our table."
"Weeks before the sacred event, I grew eager for the day to arrive. My excitement grew to such a fevered pitch that during the night before my first Holy Communion I could not close my eyes, not even for a moment. As the half-light of the morning sun was just creeping into my bedroom window, I was already up and fully dressed in my very best clothing. I wore my red woolen skirt and dark brown bodice and crowning it all was the lovely softness of the blazingly white linen veil which I carefully draped over my head, shoulders and back."
"As I remember, the whole village was present in our church of Saint Remy. All during Mass, I cried and prayed, 'Thank You Lord for this honor.' When the altar boy rang the bells my heart leaped for joy! 'Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!' I thought excitedly to myself. 'Soon my Lord and my God will come down upon the altar! He does this in order that He might come to me; I who am less than dust before Him! He wants to come to me out of His boundless love!' More bells, then the priest made a deep genuflection before the altar. A moment later there in his hands raised high over his head was my Lord! 'How beautiful is His shining radiance,' I thought. With tears of joy welling up from the depths of my soul I looked with love upon my Lord, my God, my own, all that I would ever need, all that I would ever want! My mind swirled with these thoughts until the moment when the other Communicants and I were called forward. I walked up with all the reverence that I was capable of giving. My heart was beating wildly. I remember looking down at my chest and seeing my white veil throb and move to the beat of my heart."
"Then I knelt down at the altar rail waiting my turn to receive my Lord. The priest distributed the sacrament to the boys first. Closer and closer the priest came and then it was my turn! Two young men holding lighted candles stood on either side of the priest. All were dressed in white vestments. In the priest's hands was the golden ciborium, which contained the consecrated Hosts. Now, the priest placed his hand into the ciborium and removed, just for me, the Most Blessed Sacrament! He held It high above me and for a fleeting instant, I saw nothing but the Sacred Host."
"The priest held the Host above me and prayed, "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternan, Amen." ("May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting. Amen.") As I gazed, I felt Our Lord's love radiate forth from the Blessed Sacrament with such power that it is hard for me to express. Without speaking I knew that Our Dear Lord had given Himself to me. He bestowed, without limit, without reserve, upon my unworthy soul His loving presence and strength. In that moment I knew that I wanted to be His forever!"
"My hands were covered by my white linen veil. I closed my eyes and prayed from deep within my heart that my tongue might be a worthy throne for HIM. He was there! I remembered thinking 'how sweet, how beautiful He tasted.' Tears ran from my eyes. 'Thank You, thank You,' I said over and over. 'Thank You, for coming to me, the smallest of all Your children.' "
"I could feel the fire of His love filling my whole body, starting with my heart and radiating out to every part of my being! I was so overwhelmed with joy, I did not want to move. I wanted to be there with Him in my heart forever! There I remained with my eyes tightly closed, on my knees, not moving an inch. There I stayed wrapped in awe and wonder and love! When I had finished praying, I found myself back in my place and how I got there, I don't know."
"Can you imagine the love that Our Dear Lord Jesus has for us, that He desires, desires and longs, mind you, to enter into us, enter into our weak, sinful bodies, so that He can join with us and live in us while we are still here on this earth! I truly wish that I could always feel His presence as profoundly as I did when I first received Him. Yet His will be done, not mine!"
I decided to have a wonderful gathering for all my friends so that they could meet and talk with The Maid. I chose my home's most splendid room, the parlor, in which to hold the reception. Colorful silken bunting draped every wall while the room was lit and decorated by hundreds of scented candles. No matter where you looked in the room there was something beautiful to see. I spared neither expense nor effort to provide my guests with the most delicious delicacies imaginable. From a bounty of dried fruits and pleasant cheeses to the fattest most pungent capons, nothing was left to chance. I brought up from the wine cellar an ample supply of my best wines, both the rich dark Burgundy and the lightly sweet Bordeaux rosé.
Jeanne had no idea what I was doing when she entered my parlor and saw all the guests. She flashed me a quick look of friendly resignation as I directed her over to a special chair of honor. To please me she patiently endured the reception.
My friend, Marie, was seated in wrapped attention hanging on her every word. "Are you not afraid to be in battle?" she asked shyly.
"No, my Lady, I am not."
Another of my friends, Beatrice, interrupted Jeanne and said in a self-assured tone, "If you do not fear to go into battle, it is because you know that God protects you and that you will not be killed."
"No, Lady, that is not so. I have no more assurance of that than any other soldier."
All my friends were fascinated by her and eagerly asked Jeanne many questions. "What was it like to wear heavy armor, or wield a lance and lead a charge." They were thrilled by her stories of her recent exploits, so much so, that we gave her no peace until she promised to show us her skill with horse, sword and lance. When the evening was over, I congratulated myself on having pulled off the social event of the year, no, of the century!
The very next morning, I led Jeanne and my friends to the town's practice field. It was here that the soldiers trained with horse, lance, sword and bow. Walking by my side Jeanne led her imposing stallion by its bridle. The animal towered over her head by at least two or three feet!
Once we arrived on the field, the first thing Jeanne exhibited was her equestrian talents, by putting her high spirited and magnificent charger through its paces. I marveled at her ability to control this massive creature's power. With barely perceptible movements of her hands and legs she directed the animal's every move. After only four or five strides of a controlled canter, she had her horse rise up onto its haunches. Next she had the animal trot in place. Then with only a slight movement of her hand, the animal's cadence changed into a high stepping trot. Swiftly she pulled the horse up onto its haunches again, with its front legs close to its body. There in this position it stood balanced on its bent hind legs! After a minute in this position and at her command, the horse lunged forward!
Jeanne, with a wide grin, let go of the reins and raised her hands up to her shoulders. Just with changes in the amount of pressure she applied with her legs or with slight changes in her position within the saddle, she directed all the movements of her steed. She had her horse trot diagonally using a side stepping motion, first to the right then to the left, alternating its direction to form a zig zag pattern. Then abruptly, the horse stopped and proceeded to do a side stepping trot, but this time in a circular pattern. The horse's front legs did most of the moving while the hind legs although still moving, stayed within a very small area. It was all so amazing, that we were dazzled and greatly impressed by her prowess! If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it possible to accomplish!
Next she put her stallion into a full gallop and raced over to the rack that held the fifteen foot-long lances, she smoothly swooped down to snatch one up into her hand without slowing the horse's pace in the least. Effortlessly, she leveled it. Swiftly guiding her steed toward the small wooden target, she struck it dead center! A large crowd of soldiers had also gathered to witness the show, vigorously cheering right along with us! I heard one exclaim, "She wields a lance like a man who has lived his life as a campaigner."
Jeanne rode back to us in triumph and dismounted. The Maid was a sight to behold. We immediately pressed forward to congratulate her for a spectacular show! Not yet satisfied with her presentation we pleaded with her to show us her skill with the sword. She was already wearing her arming doublet, padded hose, thick leather boots and gloves, so she was ready for the bout.
Jeanne agreed and asked for an opponent while she strode confidently among the assembled soldiers. A muscular man stepped forward. "I would be honored if you would allow me this opportunity." She smiled broadly at him and with a hearty slap on his back accepted. Borrowing a helmet and sword from another soldier she prepared herself for the bout. All was hushed as the combatants went to their places. Being left handed, Jeanne held her sword with her left hand next to the hilt, while the right hand covered the sword's pommel.
She raised the blade up until the hilt was before her eyes, then slowly lowered it in a sweeping motion going down and out to her left. Her opponent did the same and in this way, they saluted each other. At the shout of, 'en garde,' they lowered their blades to begin the bout. They held their torsos straight and stiff, their arms outstretched with a slight bend at the elbow. They stood with their legs apart while their knees were slightly bent. The bout began in earnest when their blades collided in a clash of steel.
Without warning, the soldier lunged forward, his blade pointing straight at her heart! In fear, I clutched my breast. But Jeanne easily parried his attack, by stepping aside as she hit his blade with hers. The Maid's next move was to push her opponent relentlessly back as she beat hard down upon his blade. The soldier countered by targeting Jeanne's weaker right side as he whirled around on one foot. Too fast for him she smoothly swung her blade down to swept his sword out of striking distance. Jeanne wheeled full circle to her left to catch him off guard. Thus she was able to touch him lightly on his unguarded right side and so decisively win the round.
I was astonished at the strength and control she displayed in the use of the sword. Her ability to wield that heavy blade with such skill and ease, so as to touch her opponent's body with it, without hurting him in any way was awe-inspiring.
The two combatants laughed as they returned to the 'en garde' position. Round two had begun! The soldier wielded his blade low in an attempt to tag her leg. Jeanne, in a sweeping motion, struck his blade away with such force that he was open for her counterattack to his head. With graceful control she swiftly but lightly tapped him on his helmet; thus she quickly won the second round! The soldier raised his visor and peeled off his helmet to reveal his glistening ruddy face. With a deep bow he acknowledged her skill. As he replaced his helmet, they again returned to the 'en garde' position to continue this one-sided match. I admired the soldier for the good grace he displayed. He showed great control over his emotions, by not striking out at Jeanne in angry retaliation for being so outclassed by her.
Jeanne seemed to enjoy toying with him, as a cat would do with a mouse. Every movement was quick and graceful as she easily countered all the soldier's attempts to land a hit upon her person. I smiled to myself, as they filled the match with friendly banter and laughter all the while applauding the other's skill. After ten minutes Jeanne ended the third round in a flurry of rapid agile moves. With each she routed her opponent until he unexpectedly fell to the ground. Perhaps he tripped into a rut or over an uneven piece of earth but for whatever reason she had won the match!
In triumph Jeanne cheered as she raised her sword high over her head. Meanwhile sprawled on the ground the soldier capitulated to her expert skill and laughingly cried out, "I yield, I yield!" Jeanne promptly extended her hand in friendship and helped him to his feet. Once on his feet the man bowed and declared her victorious. Jeanne returned his bow and called him a most worthy opponent! Thrusting their sword points solidly into the ground they came face to face as they vigorously shook the other's hand. How happy and proud she was to demonstrate her military skills and what a thrill to see!
A nearby tavern keeper, impressed by the display, rushed out with a round of drinks for Jeanne and the soldier. All the other soldiers present quickly joined in and taking up a mug joined in the toast. With goblet in hand Jeanne raised it on high. "To the soldiers of France, God bless them!"
In response to Jeanne's stirring salute, the men raised their goblets and in unison shouted, "To the Maid, God grant her long life!"
On the way home from the practice field, we passed a small group of dirty, smelly beggars. My friends and I, distressed by their smell and appearance, kept on walking, not Jeanne, she stopped and kindly talked with them. "Friends, do not despair of God's help. He loves and cares for you very much." She plunged her hand into her purse and came out with a fist full of silver coins and generously gave a coin to each one. "God bless and keep you always."
They were astonished by her generosity and stared at her for a moment before the men doffed their hats and the women bobbed a little curtsy. "God bless you, Maid! Thank you for your concern and love." I am sorry to say that most of my friends continued to walk down the street in a huff, their faces distorted in expressions of anger. They were not at all pleased with Jeanne's association with the dregs of humanity. When I asked her why she did this, she answered simply and without affectation, "I have been sent to comfort the poor and needy."
Such activity did not fill all our days. We had our quiet moments too. Jeanne and I enjoyed taking long rides in the countryside to view the beauty of the fall foliage. Bright red, gold, yellow and brown leaves fluttered and waved in the trees while the fallen leaves danced and swirled on the ground to the gentle music of the wind. The air was crisp and clean, filled with the hint of frost that would soon be upon us. The bright azure sky had white billowing clouds drifting lazily over head. On one of our many rides Jeanne told me of an incident that occurred during her journey to Chinon. "While on my way to the Dauphin, my traveling companions decided to test my resolve to go through with my mission."
She playfully placed her index finger next to her nose and touched it several times before continuing, "Five of the men that were escorting me slowly fell behind until they were out of sight. Then suddenly they came out of the woods shouting war cries! Jean and Bertrand made believe that it was the enemy who was attacking us. They acted as though they were afraid and said, 'We are lost. The Burgundians are upon us!' Unmoved by their display, I reassure them, 'In God's name, do not run away. They will do us no harm.' Quickly they realized that their test had failed. Then they asked pardon and promised not to do it again." With a wave of laughter Jeanne tossed her head as she gave me a knowing look. "Men, they are always up to something!" I laughed too, nodding in full agreement.
Jeanne did have the ability to get angry. What irritated her most were people who dishonored God by their sins and those who had no appreciation for what He had done for us. She could not understand why others would willfully sin. She knew to love God was to hate sin and so to commit sin was painful for her. She often wondered why people wanted to sin against God and why they were so faithless. To see others sin would bring her to tears.
Once, on our way home from Sunday Mass, we came upon four men kneeling on the ground playing a game of dice. I came to find out that she had an intense hatred for any type of gambling. Fire shone in Jeanne's eyes, as she pounced upon them. She pushed the man who held the dice over onto his side with her foot and yelled, "How dare you defame the Lord's day with this evil game?" Her fury overwhelmed all four. She dove for the loose dice and with a single move of her hand grabbed them up only to throw 'the Devil's bones' violently into the open sewer!
One had the courage to protest her actions. "By what right do you have to bother us? We are hurting no one!"
Jeanne, with spirit and holy impatience, answered him sternly, "By God's commandment! Thou shalt keep holy the Lord's day! Don't let me catch you four ever defaming the Lord's day again, or I will be very hard on you."
Another men, who had a rebellious twisted grin, sarcastically replied, "You mean, harder than you are now?!"
With eyes narrowed and jaw set, she rushed over and grabbed hold of his throat. This frightened and stunned him so that he instantly lost his smirking expression and, with it, the color in his face. "Yes, you evil man, more than I am now!"
Jeanne continued to hold him tight by the throat as she looked deep into his eyes. "If you do not change your ways, you will be placing your soul in great danger. I have done my duty towards you by telling you this. Now it is up to you to heed my words or not!" With that dreadful warning, she let him go. Turning to the others she pointed, with outstretched arm, the way to the nearest church. "Now go, and find a priest to hear your confession!" She stood there like a pillar of iron! With a look of holy wrath Jeanne glared at them as they mutely and, in bewilderment, timidly went their way, not knowing what whirlwind had struck them.
Jeanne and I also went to the woman's public bathhouse several times during her stay, as she seemed to enjoy it very much. There we would bathe together in a large wooden tub. We also frequented the hot-room and enjoyed the pleasures of a steam bath. I must admit that the sight of her two wounds at first shocked and filled me with revulsion at their deep, irregular shape. Terrified, I viewed her wounds, one over her right breast and the other in her left mid-thigh. They were dark pink in color but when she entered the hot bath water they turned to an angry, ugly red! I must have made her feel self-conscious because when she saw my reaction, she tried to reassure me, "Don't be concerned over my injuries. They are nothing, really!"
In shock and disbelief, I replied, "Nothing, they look horrible! You must be in constant pain!"
Jeanne, perplexed by my strong reaction, smiled as she shook her head. "No, really, my wounds don't cause me much pain at all. Oh maybe, when the weather changes, they twinge a little but other than that I don't take note of them."
I saw how embarrassed she was so, not wishing to offend, I quickly changed the subject.
Then there was the time when several women of the community came to my home, asking if they might meet Jeanne. When she entered my parlor to present herself to them, they immediately pulled out from their pockets rosaries and other holy objects for her to touch and bless. Some of the women even went to their knees as if they had seen a vision. This struck Jeanne as being very amusing and she broke out into a hearty laugh. "You touch them!" she said to me. "Your touch will do them as much good as mine." The women's faces blushed. Jeanne noticed this and tried to comfort them. "Oh, ladies, I did not mean to hurt your feelings, but what you ask is not right. I'm no priest and if I went around doing things like that, I would be guilty of sin. You would not have me do that, would you?" The ladies mutely shook their heads. Gently, Jeanne motioned to the women. "Ladies, put away those things and come join us in a glass of wine." They reluctantly complied and we spent the rest of the afternoon in friendly conversation.
I owned a medium sized, black, long hair, Scottish Border Collie, which I called Bonnie. The moment when Jeanne saw my dog 'Bonnie' her face lit up with delight. "When I was very young my father gave me a little puppy. Her mother had given birth to several puppies, but the owner said that he could not take care of any more animals.
"When my father heard this he decided to take one of these puppies as a gift for me. He told me that he saw a great deal of gentleness within me and so he knew I would be pleased to have this little pup. He was right and I named her, 'Angel.'
"I was always thrilled to see newborn animals and it would bring a smile to my face. One time I got in trouble when I tried to take my little dog to bed with me. I was told that I had to keep her in the farm shed that was near our house. On cold nights, my father would allow 'Angel' to stay next to the fireplace. I would very often sneak out of my room to lay next to her.
"I slept with 'Angel' next to the fireplace so often that I felt this area became my real bed. For me, my little dog was so gentle, that it was like I was sleeping beside a real Angel. As my little puppy grew she would always be by my side following me throughout the day as I did my chores. I loved animals and always chose to tend them whenever I could.
"The young boys of my village always made fun of me for spending so much time with the animals. In cruel jest even my brothers would say that I loved animals so much because I was one of them.
"I guess I loved the animals so much because I felt I was among friends. I felt comfortable as I tended them because I could quietly prayed to my Heavenly Father.
"'Angel' was small with dark spots on her back. How I loved her so. Unfortunately she became ill and passed away. I was devastated when she died and I cried for days. When my father reprimanded for 'crying so over a dumb animal' I hid my tears from him and the rest of my family but I continued to grieve inwardly for my 'Angel' for a long time afterward.
"My father loved me but when I asked him for another dog he said no. He told me that times were hard and now was not the time to bring more problems to our family.
"As I grew up and life got harder, many people would come and ask to stay at my father's home. I was always happy to give up my bed and go sleep by the fireplace because it reminded me of the happy times I had spent with my dear little 'Angel.' "
Jeanne looked so innocent as she continued. "I never outgrew my love for God's creatures."
How Jeanne loved to play with her in my enclosed courtyard. She would throw sticks for Bonnie to catch. When the dog returned her feet, Jeanne would reach down and solidly pat the dog’s side saying, "What a good dog you are, Bonnie." Bonnie in turn would look up at Jeanne, all happy and excited as she vigorously wagged her tail and panted with her long wet tongue sticking out the side of her mouth.
Jeanne liked to roughhouse with my dog, by making quick movements with her hands and arms in an attempt to confuse Bonnie. She would chuckle as she watched the dog's reaction. Swiftly Bonnie would move her head, either from side to side or up and down trying to follow Jeanne’s hands. My collie liked to roll on her back as she wiggled her legs as a sign for Jeanne to pet and rub her tummy. Happily she comply with my dog's request. When Bonnie was content with the petting, she would rapidly flip onto her paws. She then would wildly race around in tight little circles several times chasing her own tail! Then without warning Bonnie would jump into Jeanne's arms licking and gently nipping at her nose too. After which Jeanne would laugh as she rubbed and scratched behind the dog’s ears or around her neck.
I sometimes saw Jeanne sitting on the ground under our large ancient maple tree, which was located on the expansive grounds behind our mansion. There Jeanne would peacefully sit as she stared into the sky, quietly thinking or perhaps she was praying, I don’t know, but lying right by her side with her head and front paws on her lap was good old Bonnie. All the while Jeanne, with light, gently movements of her hand, would absent-mindedly stroke Bonnie’s fur.
I remember one time sitting with Jeanne as she played with Bonnie and I asked, "Jeanne did you have a dog of your own when you were back home?" She smiled kindly at me and in her silence I knew that her thoughts took her back to Domremy. "Oh Madame, I did not have a pet as you have Bonnie. But in my spare time I very much enjoyed giving a little extra milk to the kittens that roamed our farm buildings or throwing our sheep dog a good beef bone. I also loved to sit in quiet secluded places and watch the wild birds feed or soar into God's great blue sky. I like to watch the rabbits moving on the grass and squirrels playing in limbs of the trees. I enjoyed watching the newborn lambs struggle to stand on their wobbly legs bleating all the while. I have heard some of the tails people tell about my childhood and how the wild animals would come to be fed by me. This of course did not happen but I must admit that they were not frightened to come around me either. So, I guess, this was a small blessing that our Good God gave me. I don't know, I will leave that up to you. But the one thing that I can say for sure is this, being a part of God's creation brought my heart much joy in the midst of all the sorrows and hardships that we had to face."
Jeanne loved Children and to her they were angels. I witnessed for myself how the children of my city looked upon Jeanne as their true hero of God and how in awe they were of her. I saw the children bring flowers to her and the smile that came upon Jeanne’s face brought a heavenly glow to the world. She would always speak so gently to them. Jeanne's voice was so gentle and soft, a simple voice that went well with her kind heart. It was a voice that allowed the children to feel safe and secure in her presence.
The love that Jeanne had for the children could easily be seen. Many times she would drop to her knees and hug the young children with great tenderness.
Jeanne told me that when she was asked to stay in different homes she would always ask if she could sleep beside the children. She explained that it brought peace to her soul and it allowed her to sleep with an angel, as she called them.
History will probably not record the great love Jeanne had for children and animals, but I think these attributes are very important to remember because they shows her true nature. Jeanne looked for goodness in all people and could not focus for very long upon their sin. She saw a world of angels and not a world of sinners. This was so because Jeanne looked at the world with her heart. This attribute brought froth, from deep within her soul, her great qualities of forgiveness and kindness.
I believe this was what Christ wanted us to see in her, for kindness and gentleness is at the heart of a true warrior. If a portrait of Jeanne had been created during her lifetime, it would have shown a gentle little farm girl sleeping next to a fireplace beside her little puppy; sleeping beside angels.
Even though Jeanne was only with us for a very short time, Bonnie became very fond of her. I would even say that my collie became quite attached to Jeanne because for a long time after she had left my home, Bonnie seemed lost and would wonder through the house or the courtyard. I felt, perhaps, she was looking for her.
As with Bonnie, I too miss, and still do, my courageous house guest. How blessed I am, by Our Lord, to have known Jeanne! To have the honor of saying that she lived and enjoyed herself while she was with me. The memory of her sweet company will stay with me until I die. My one prayer is that someday I will again be with her, in heaven!
For as long as I live I will NEVER forget my dear sweet friend,
Jeanne, the Maid!