Joan gave La Hire some instructions as to what she expected of him as a master of the camp, which left him speechless. She told him that the partying must stop, drinking must be brought within proper and strictly defined limits and discipline must take place. And, she concluded with an order that almost lifted him out of his armor:
"Every man who joins my army must confess before the priest and absolve himself from sin; and all accepted recruits must be present at Holy Mass twice a day." La Hire could not say a word for a good part of a minute, and then he said, in deep dejection:
"Oh, sweet child, they are littered in hell, these poor darlings of mine! Attend Mass? Why, dear, they'll see us both damned first before going to Mass!"
And he went on trying to give her all kinds of excuses. But she stuck to her point; so the soldier yielded, and said all right, if such were the orders he must obey, and would do the best that was in him; then he said that if any man in the camp refused to renounce sin and lead a pious life, he would knock his head off. That started Joan off again; she said that she would not consent to that form of conversion. She said they must be voluntary. La Hire said that it was all right, he wasn't going to kill the voluntary ones, but only the others. However, Joan told him that no matter what, none of them must be hurt. She said that to give a man a chance to volunteer on pain of death was not a fair choice; she wanted them to be entirely free. The soldier sighed and said he would advertise the Mass, but he doubted if there was a man in camp that was any more unlikely to go to Mass than him. Then, there was another surprise for him, for Joan said:
"But, dear man, you are going!"
"I? Impossible! Oh, this is madness!"
"Oh, no, it isn't. You are going to the service—twice a day."
"Oh, am I dreaming? Am I drunk—or is my hearing playing a trick on me? Why, I would rather go to—"
"Never mind where. In the morning you are going to begin, and after that it will come easy. Now don't look downhearted like that. Soon you won't mind it."
La Hire tried to cheer up, but he was not able to do it. He sighed and said:
"Well, I'll do it for you, but before I would do it for another, I swear I—"
"But don't swear. Break it off."
"Break it off? It is impossible! I beg you to—to—why—oh, my General, it is my native speech!"
He begged so hard for grace for his impediment, that Joan left him one fragment of it; she said he might swear by his baton, the symbol of his generalship.
He promised that he would swear only by his baton when in her presence and would try to change himself, but doubted that he could manage it because it had become an old and stubborn habit of his, especially now that he was getting older.
That tough old lion, La Hire, went away from there a good deal tamed and civilized—not to say softened and sweetened, for perhaps those expressions would hardly fit him. Noel and Mark believed that when he was away from Joan's influence his old habits would come back again; they did not believe that he could quit them. They also believed that he was not going to go to Holy Mass, so they got up very early in the morning to see if he went.
Mark and Noel could not believe their eyes when they saw La Hire going to Holy Mass. La Hire was converted and the rest of the men followed him. In three days, the camp was clean and orderly and those barbarians were going to Divine Service twice a day like good children. La Hire was so surprised with the results; he could not understand them. He went outside the camp when he wanted to swear. He was that sort of a man—sinful by nature and habit, but full of superstitious respect for holy places.
The enthusiasm of the reformed army for Joan was high, its devotion to her, and the hot desire she had aroused in it to be led against the enemy exceeded any manifestations that La Hire had ever seen before in his long career. His admiration of it all, and his wonder over the mystery and miracle of it, was beyond his power to put into words. He had held this army cheap before, but his pride and confidence in it knew no limits now. He said:
"Two or three days ago they were afraid of a hen-roost; now, they could storm the gates of hell."
May you all become part of the Holy Army of God by doing these three things:
1. Go to Confession
2. Go to Holy Mass
3. No excessive partying or bad language
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