The play's action begins in a room in Vaucouleurs, the castle of Captain Robert de Baudricourt, military commander, in the spring of 1429. Baudricourt is berating one of his servants, who has just informed him that there are no fresh eggs to be had that morning. Baudricourt is convinced that someone, perhaps this servant himself, has stolen the hens-as well as the cows, for there was no fresh milk to be had the day before. The servant informs Baudricourt that, on the contrary, the cows have stopped giving milk and the hens have stopped laying eggs ever since the captain refused to grant an audience to "The Maid." The girl is still at the castle, still insistent upon seeing Baudricourt. "She is so positive," the servant says of her, noting that all the captain's host are encouraged by her. Exasperated at the girl's stubbornness, Baudricourt summons her to him.
"The Maid" is, of course, Joan. Immediately upon meeting Baudricourt, she asks him to supply her with a horse, armor, and troops for a military expedition to Orleans, where the Dauphin (a title for the eldest son of the King of France or heir to the throne; in this context, the future King Charles VII) is being besieged by the invading English armies, thus being kept from assuming the throne. Baudricourt is shocked by her plans; he is even more shocked when the girl tells him that her plan is actually the will of God. She tells him she has already secured the aid of Bertrand de Poulengey (whom she casually calls "Polly") and John of Metz (whom she similarly calls "Jack"), as well as other soldiers and servants of Baudricourt.
Still astonished, Baudricourt dismisses Joan and summons de Poulengey. He questions him about Joan. He suspects "Polly" of harboring untoward intentions toward the young lady. Polly insists that there is nothing improper about his interest in Joan. "There is something about her," he tells Baudricourt, pointing out that Joan has inspired hope in French...