TAKING HIS SWORD, HE SAID, "PLEASE GOD, SIR, THAT IN WAR YOU MAY NEVER TAKE FLIGHT."
DEAR CHRISTOPHER,—You know the history of your own sea-girt land and you love it well.
Brave men, courageous women have been born and bred in your island home, and some of these have come to be your
heroes, more stalwart and true, you dream, than the great men and women of other lands.
Yet listen and I will tell you the story of another country which is as full of interest as your own.
In this other country there are heroes too, different it well may be to those you call your own, yet brave and
true as they. For the great Emperor Charlemagne may stand, I ween, by the side of good King Arthur, unashamed,
and the gallant soldier Du Guesclin, shoulder to shoulder with the staunch patriot Robert the Bruce. Nor in all
the annals of our land will you find a simpler, nobler maid than she who was called Joan Darc. The maid, indeed,
you have but to know to love and reverence her well.
It is a long story which I am going to tell. Yet boys and girls, I know, usually wish to begin at the very
beginning of a tale. And so I think will you, although this beginning stretches back to moorlands and marshlands,
where fierce warriors and terrible beasts roamed, long years before the birth of Christ.
Perhaps after you have read The Story of France, of all her people suffered, of all her heroes endured, you will
understand why it is that Frenchmen love their land, and when they have to leave her for a time, steal back to her
as soon as they may, as to a mother who has borne pain for their sake, and whom they love and reverence.
"Where is the country of which I am going to tell?"
"It lies across the English Channel."
"Across the English Channnel?" you echo slowly, thinking perhaps that as the sea rolls between, you are not likely
to see this other country for many a long year.
It is true that the sea, and often a rough sea too, rolls between England and France, yet the two countries are not
far apart, for if you go to Dover and step on board a steamer sailing to Calais, you will be on French soil in two hours.
And the thought that perhaps one day you will see this country, which is separated from you only by the English
Channel, may make you wish to turn the page and begin at once to read The Story of France.—Yours affectionately,