"What do you reckon she is laughing at?"
And old D'Arc stood looking at her the same way, sort of absently scratching his head; but had to give it up, and said he didn't know—"must have been something that happened when we weren't noticing."
Yes, both of those old people thought that that tale was pathetic; whereas to my mind it was purely ridiculous, and not in any way valuable to any one. It seemed so to me then, and it seems so to me yet. And as for history, it does not resemble history; for the office of history is to furnish serious and important facts that teach; whereas this strange and useless event teaches nothing; nothing that I can see, except not to ride a bull to a funeral; and surely no reflecting person needs to be taught that.
37 Again to Arms
NOW THESE were nobles, you know, by decree of the King!—these precious old infants. But they did not realize it; they could not be called conscious of it; it was an abstraction, a phantom; to them it had no substance; their minds could not take hold of it. No, they did not bother about their nobility; they lived in their horses. The horses were solid; they were visible facts, and would make a mighty stir in Domremy. Presently something was said about the Coronation, and old D'Arc said it was going to be a grand thing to be able to say, when they got home, that they were present in the very town itself when it happened. Joan looked troubled, and said:
"Ah, that reminds me. You were here and you didn't send me word. In the town, indeed! Why, you could have sat with the other nobles, and been welcome; and could have looked upon the crowning itself, and carried that home to tell. Ah, why did you use me so, and send me no word?"
The old father was embarrassed, now, quite visibly embarrassed, and had the air of one who does not quite know what to say. But Joan was looking up in his face, her hands upon his shoulders—waiting. He had to speak; so presently he drew her to his breast, which was heaving with emotion; and he said, getting out his words with difficulty:
"There, hide your face, child, and let your old father humble himself and make his confession. I—I—don't you see, don't you understand?—I could not know that these grandeurs would not turn your young head—it would be only natural. I might shame you before these great per—"
"And then I was afraid, as remembering that cruel thing I said once in my sinful anger. Oh, appointed of God to be a soldier, and the greatest in the land! and in my ignorant anger I said I would drown you with my own hands if you unsexed yourself and brought shame to your name and family. Ah, how could I ever have said it, and you so good and dear and innocent! I was afraid; for I was guilty. You understand it now, my child, and you forgive?"
Do you see? Even that poor groping old land-crab, with his skull full of pulp, had pride. Isn't it wonderful? And more—he had conscience; he had a sense of right and wrong, such as it was; he was able to find remorse. It looks impossible, it looks incredible, but it is not. I believe that some day it will be found out that peasants are people. Yes, beings in a great many respects like ourselves. And I believe that some day they will find this out, too—and then! Well, then I think they will rise up and demand to be regarded as part of the race, and that by consequence there will be trouble. Whenever one sees in a book or in a king's proclamation those words "the nation," they bring before us the upper classes; only those; we know no other "nation"; for us and the kings no other "nation" exists. But from the day that I saw old D'Arc the peasant acting and feeling just as I should have acted and felt myself, I have carried the conviction in my heart that our peasants are not merely animals, beasts of burden put here by the good God to produce food and comfort for the "nation," but something more and better. You look incredulous. Well, that is your training; it is the training of everybody; but as for me, I thank that incident for giving me a better light, and I have never forgotten it.
Let me see—where was I? One's mind wanders around here and there and yonder, when one is old. I think I said Joan comforted him. Certainly, that is what she would do—there was no need to say that. She coaxed him and petted him and caressed him, and laid the memory of that old hard speech of his to rest. Laid it to rest until she should be dead. Then he would remember it again—yes, yes! Lord, how those things sting, and burn, and gnaw—the things which we did against the innocent dead! And we say in our anguish, "If they could only come back!" Which is all very well to say, but, as far as I can see, it doesn't profit anything. In my opinion the best way is not to do the thing in the first place. And I am not alone in this; I have heard our two knights say the same thing; and a man there in Orleans—no, I believe it was at Beaugency, or one of those places—it seems more as if it was at Beaugency than the others—this man said the same thing exactly; almost the same words; a dark man with a cast in his eye and one leg shorter than the other. His name was—was—it is singular that I can't call that man's name; I had it in my mind only a moment ago, and I know it begins with—no, I don't remember what it begins with; but never mind, let it go; I will think of it presently, and then I will tell you.
Well, pretty soon the old father wanted to know how Joan felt when she was in the thick of a battle, with the bright blades hacking and flashing all around her, and the blows rapping and slatting on her shield, and blood gushing on her from the cloven ghastly face and broken teeth of the neighbor at her elbow, and the perilous sudden back surge of massed horses upon a person when the front ranks give way before a heavy rush of the enemy, and men tumble limp and groaning out of saddles all around, and battle-flags falling from dead hands wipe across one's face and hide the tossing turmoil a moment, and in the reeling and swaying and laboring jumble one's horse's hoofs sink into soft substances and shrieks of pain respond, and presently—panic! rush! swarm! flight! and death and hell following after! And the old fellow got ever so much excited; and strode up and down, his tongue going like a mill, asking question after question and never waiting for an answer; and finally he stood Joan up in the middle of the room and stepped off and scanned her critically, and said:
"No—I don't understand it. You are so little. So little and slender. When you had your armor on, to-day, it gave one a sort of notion of it; but in these pretty silks and velvets, you are only a dainty page, not a league-striding war-colossus, moving in clouds and darkness and breathing smoke and thunder. I would God I might see you at it and go tell your mother! That would help her sleep, poor thing! Here—teach me the arts of the soldier, that I may explain them to her."
And she did it. She gave him a pike, and put him through the manual of arms; and made him do the steps, too. His marching was incredibly awkward and slovenly, and so was his drill with the pike; but he didn't know it, and was wonderfully pleased with himself, and mightily excited and charmed with the ringing, crisp words of command. I am obliged to say that if looking proud and happy when one is marching were sufficient, he would have been the perfect soldier.
And he wanted a lesson in sword-play, and got it. But of course that was beyond him; he was too old. It was beautiful to see Joan handle the foils, but the old man was a bad failure. He was afraid of the things, and skipped and dodged and scrambled around like a woman who has lost her mind on account of the arrival of a bat. He was of no good as an exhibition. But if La Hire had only come in, that would have been another matter. Those two fenced often; I saw them many times. True, Joan was easily his master, but it made a good show for all that, for La Hire was a grand swordsman. What a swift creature Joan was! You would see her standing erect with her ankle-bones together and her foil arched over her head, the hilt in one hand and the button in the other—the old general opposite, bent forward, left hand reposing on his back, his foil advanced, slightly wiggling and squirming, his watching eye boring straight into hers—and all of a sudden she would give a spring forward, and back again; and there she was, with the foil arched over her head as before. La Hire had been hit, but all that the spectator saw of it was a something like a thin flash of light in the air, but nothing distinct, nothing definite.
We kept the drinkables moving, for that would please the Bailly and the landlord; and old Laxart and D'Arc got to feeling quite comfortable, but without being what you could call tipsy. They got out the presents which they had been buying to carry home—humble things and cheap, but they would be fine there, and welcome. And they gave to Joan a present from Pere Fronte and one from her mother—the one a little leaden image of the Holy Virgin, the other half a yard of blue silk ribbon; and she was as pleased as a child; and touched, too, as one could see plainly enough. Yes, she kissed those poor things over and over again, as if they had been something costly and wonderful; and she pinned the Virgin on her doublet, and sent for her helmet and tied the ribbon on that; first one way, then another; then a new way, then another new way; and with each effort perching the helmet on her hand and holding it off this way and that, and canting her head to one side and then the other, examining the effect, as a bird does when it has got a new bug. And she said she could almost wish she was going to the wars again; for then she would fight with the better courage, as having always with her something which her mother's touch had blessed.
Old Laxart said he hoped she would go to the wars again, but home first, for that all the people there were cruel anxious to see her—and so he went on:
"They are proud of you, dear. Yes, prouder than any village ever was of anybody before. And indeed it is right and rational; for it is the first time a village has ever had anybody like you to be proud of and call its own. And it is strange and beautiful how they try to give your name to every creature that has a sex that is convenient. It is but half a year since you began to be spoken of and left us, and so it is surprising to see how many babies there are already in that region that are named for you. First it was just Joan; then it was Joan-Orleans; then Joan-Orleans-Beaugency-Patay; and now the next ones will have a lot of towns and the Coronation added, of course. Yes, and the animals the same. They know how you love animals, and so they try to do you honor and show their love for you by naming all those creatures after you; insomuch that if a body should step out and call 'Joan of Arc—come!' there would be a landslide of cats and all such things, each supposing it was the one wanted, and all willing to take the benefit of the doubt, anyway, for the sake of the food that might be on delivery. The kitten you left behind—the last stray you fetched home—bears you name, now, and belongs to Pere Fronte, and is the pet and pride of the village; and people have come miles to look at it and pet it and stare at it and wonder over it because it was Joan of Arc's cat. Everybody will tell you that; and one day when a stranger threw a stone at it, not knowing it was your cat, the village rose against him as one man and hanged him! And but for Pere Fronte—"
There was an interruption. It was a messenger from the King, bearing a note for Joan, which I read to her, saying he had reflected, and had consulted his other generals, and was obliged to ask her to remain at the head of the army and withdraw her resignation. Also, would she come immediately and attend a council of war? Straightway, at a little distance, military commands and the rumble of drums broke on the still night, and we knew that her guard was approaching.
Deep disappointment clouded her face for just one moment and no more—it passed, and with it the homesick girl, and she was Joan of Arc, Commander-in-Chief again, and ready for duty.
38 The King Cries "Forward!"
IN MY double quality of page and secretary I followed Joan to the council. She entered that presence with the bearing of a grieved goddess. What was become of the volatile child that so lately was enchanted with a ribbon and suffocated with laughter over the distress of a foolish peasant who had stormed a funeral on the back of a bee-stung bull? One may not guess. Simply it was gone, and had left no sign. She moved straight to the council-table, and stood. Her glance swept from face to face there, and where it fell, these lit it as with a torch, those it scorched as with a brand. She knew where to strike. She indicated the generals with a nod, and said:
"My business is not with you. You have not craved a council of war." Then she turned toward the King's privy council, and continued: "No; it is with you. A council of war! It is amazing. There is but one thing to do, and only one, and lo, ye call a council of war! Councils of war have no value but to decide between two or several doubtful courses. But a council of war when there is only one course? Conceive of a man in a boat and his family in the water, and he goes out among his friends to ask what he would better do? A council of war, name of God! To determine what?"
She stopped, and turned till her eyes rested upon the face of La Tremouille; and so she stood, silent, measuring him, the excitement in all faces burning steadily higher and higher, and all pulses beating faster and faster; then she said, with deliberation:
"Every sane man—whose loyalty is to his King and not a show and a pretense—knows that there is but one rational thing before us—the march upon Paris!"
Down came the fist of La Hire with an approving crash upon the table. La Tremouille turned white with anger, but he pulled himself firmly together and held his peace. The King's lazy blood was stirred and his eye kindled finely, for the spirit of war was away down in him somewhere, and a frank, bold speech always found it and made it tingle gladsomely. Joan waited to see if the chief minister might wish to defend his position; but he was experienced and wise, and not a man to waste his forces where the current was against him. He would wait; the King's private ear would be at his disposal by and by.
That pious fox the Chancellor of France took the word now. He washed his soft hands together, smiling persuasively, and said to Joan:
"Would it be courteous, your Excellency, to move abruptly from here without waiting for an answer from the Duke of Burgundy? You may not know that we are negotiating with his Highness, and that there is likely to be a fortnight's truce between us; and on his part a pledge to deliver Paris into our hands without the cost of a blow or the fatigue of a march thither."
Joan turned to him and said, gravely:
"This is not a confessional, my lord. You were not obliged to expose that shame here."
The Chancellor's face reddened, and he retorted:
"Shame? What is there shameful about it?"
Joan answered in level, passionless tones:
"One may describe it without hunting far for words. I knew of this poor comedy, my lord, although it was not intended that I should know. It is to the credit of the devisers of it that they tried to conceal it—this comedy whose text and impulse are describable in two words."
The Chancellor spoke up with a fine irony in his manner:
"Indeed? And will your Excellency be good enough to utter them?"
"Cowardice and treachery!"
The fists of all the generals came down this time, and again the King's eye sparkled with pleasure. The Chancellor sprang to his feet and appealed to his Majesty:
"Sire, I claim your protection."
But the King waved him to his seat again, saying:
"Peace. She had a right to be consulted before that thing was undertaken, since it concerned war as well as politics. It is but just that she be heard upon it now."
The Chancellor sat down trembling with indignation, and remarked to Joan:
"Out of charity I will consider that you did not know who devised this measure which you condemn in so candid language."
"Save your charity for another occasion, my lord," said Joan, as calmly as before. "Whenever anything is done to injure the interests and degrade the honor of France, all but the dead know how to name the two conspirators-in-chief—"
"Sir, sire! this insinuation—"
"It is not an insinuation, my lord," said Joan, placidly, "it is a charge. I bring it against the King's chief minister and his Chancellor."
Both men were on their feet now, insisting that the King modify Joan's frankness; but he was not minded to do it. His ordinary councils were stale water—his spirit was drinking wine, now, and the taste of it was good. He said:
"Sit—and be patient. What is fair for one must in fairness be allowed the other. Consider—and be just. When have you two spared her? What dark charges and harsh names have you withheld when you spoke of her?" Then he added, with a veiled twinkle in his eyes, "If these are offenses I see no particular difference between them, except that she says her hard things to your faces, whereas you say yours behind her back."
He was pleased with that neat shot and the way it shriveled those two people up, and made La Hire laugh out loud and the other generals softly quake and chuckle. Joan tranquilly resumed:
"From the first, we have been hindered by this policy of shilly-shally; this fashion of counseling and counseling and counseling where no counseling is needed, but only fighting. We took Orleans on the 8th of May, and could have cleared the region round about in three days and saved the slaughter of Patay. We could have been in Rheims six weeks ago, and in Paris now; and would see the last Englishman pass out of France in half a year. But we struck no blow after Orleans, but went off into the country—what for? Ostensibly to hold councils; really to give Bedford time to send reinforcements to Talbot—which he did; and Patay had to be fought. After Patay, more counseling, more waste of precious time. Oh, my King, I would that you would be persuaded!" She began to warm up, now. "Once more we have our opportunity. If we rise and strike, all is well. Bid me march upon Paris. In twenty days it shall be yours, and in six months all France! Here is half a year's work before us; if this chance be wasted, I give you twenty years to do it in. Speak the word, O gentle King—speak but the one—"
"I cry you mercy!" interrupted the Chancellor, who saw a dangerous enthusiasm rising in the King's face. "March upon Paris? Does your Excellency forget that the way bristles with English strongholds?"
"That for your English strongholds!" and Joan snapped her fingers scornfully. "Whence have we marched in these last days? From Gien. And whither? To Rheims. What bristled between? English strongholds. What are they now? French ones—and they never cost a blow!" Here applause broke out from the group of generals, and Joan had to pause a moment to let it subside. "Yes, English strongholds bristled before us; now French ones bristle behind us. What is the argument? A child can read it. The strongholds between us and Paris are garrisoned by no new breed of English, but by the same breed as those others—with the same fears, the same questionings, the same weaknesses, the same disposition to see the heavy hand of God descending upon them. We have but to march!—on the instant—and they are ours, Paris is ours, France is ours! Give the word, O my King, command your servant to—"
"Stay!" cried the Chancellor. "It would be madness to put our affront upon his Highness the Duke of Burgundy. By the treaty which we have every hope to make with him—"
"Oh, the treaty which we hope to make with him! He has scorned you for years, and defied you. Is it your subtle persuasions that have softened his manners and beguiled him to listen to proposals? No; it was blows!—the blows which we gave him! That is the only teaching that that sturdy rebel can understand. What does he care for wind? The treaty which we hope to make with him—alack! He deliver Paris! There is no pauper in the land that is less able to do it. He deliver Paris! Ah, but that would make great Bedford smile! Oh, the pitiful pretext! the blind can see that this thin pour-parler with its fifteen-day truce has no purpose but to give Bedford time to hurry forward his forces against us. More treachery—always treachery! We call a council of war—with nothing to council about; but Bedford calls no council to teach him what our course is. He knows what he would do in our place. He would hang his traitors and march upon Paris! O gentle King, rouse! The way is open, Paris beckons, France implores, Speak and we—"
"Sire, it is madness, sheer madness! Your Excellency, we cannot, we must not go back from what we have done; we have proposed to treat, we must treat with the Duke of Burgundy."
"And we will!" said Joan.
"At the point of the lance!"
The house rose, to a man—all that had French hearts—and let go a crack of applause—and kept it up; and in the midst of it one heard La Hire growl out: "At the point of the lance! By God, that is music!" The King was up, too, and drew his sword, and took it by the blade and strode to Joan and delivered the hilt of it into her hand, saying:
"There, the King surrenders. Carry it to Paris."
And so the applause burst out again, and the historical council of war that has bred so many legends was over.
39 We Win, But the King Balks
IT WAS away past midnight, and had been a tremendous day in the matter of excitement and fatigue, but that was no matter to Joan when there was business on hand. She did not think of bed. The generals followed her to her official quarters, and she delivered her orders to them as fast as she could talk, and they sent them off to their different commands as fast as delivered; wherefore the messengers galloping hither and thither raised a world of clatter and racket in the still streets; and soon were added to this the music of distant bugles and the roll of drums—notes of preparation; for the vanguard would break camp at dawn.
The generals were soon dismissed, but I wasn't; nor Joan; for it was my turn to work, now. Joan walked the floor and dictated a summons to the Duke of Burgundy to lay down his arms and make peace and exchange pardons with the King; or, if he must fight, go fight the Saracens. "Pardonnez-vous l'un—l'autre de bon coeligeur, entierement, ainsi que doivent faire loyaux chretiens, et, s'il vous plait de guerroyer, allez contre les Sarrasins." It was long, but it was good, and had the sterling ring to it. It is my opinion that it was as fine and simple and straightforward and eloquent a state paper as she ever uttered.
It was delivered into the hands of a courier, and he galloped away with it. The Joan dismissed me, and told me to go to the inn and stay, and in the morning give to her father the parcel which she had left there. It contained presents for the Domremy relatives and friends and a peasant dress which she had bought for herself. She said she would say good-by to her father and uncle in the morning if it should still be their purpose to go, instead of tarrying awhile to see the city.
I didn't say anything, of course, but I could have said that wild horses couldn't keep those men in that town half a day. They waste the glory of being the first to carry the great news to Domremy—the taxes remitted forever!—and hear the bells clang and clatter, and the people cheer and shout? Oh, not they. Patay and Orleans and the Coronation were events which in a vague way these men understood to be colossal; but they were colossal mists, films, abstractions; this was a gigantic reality!
When I got there, do you suppose they were abed! Quite the reverse. They and the rest were as mellow as mellow could be; and the Paladin was doing his battles in great style, and the old peasants were endangering the building with their applause. He was doing Patay now; and was bending his big frame forward and laying out the positions and movements with a rake here and a rake there of his formidable sword on the floor, and the peasants were stooped over with their hands on their spread knees observing with excited eyes and ripping out ejaculations of wonder and admiration all along:
"Yes, here we were, waiting—waiting for the word; our horses fidgeting and snorting and dancing to get away, we lying back on the bridles till our bodies fairly slanted to the rear; the word rang out at last—'Go!' and we went!
"Went? There was nothing like it ever seen! Where we swept by squads of scampering English, the mere wind of our passage laid them flat in piles and rows! Then we plunged into the ruck of Fastolfe's frantic battle-corps and tore through it like a hurricane, leaving a causeway of the dead stretching far behind; no tarrying, no slacking rein, but on! on! on! far yonder in the distance lay our prey—Talbot and his host looming vast and dark like a storm-cloud brooding on the sea! Down we swooped upon them, glooming all the air with a quivering pall of dead leaves flung up by the whirlwind of our flight. In another moment we should have struck them as world strikes world when disorbited constellations crash into the Milky way, but by misfortune and the inscrutable dispensation of God I was recognized! Talbot turned white, and shouting, 'Save yourselves, it is the Standard-Bearer of Joan of Arc!' drove his spurs home till they met in the middle of his horse's entrails, and fled the field with his billowing multitudes at his back! I could have cursed myself for not putting on a disguise. I saw reproach in the eyes of her Excellency, and was bitterly ashamed. I had caused what seemed an irreparable disaster. Another might have gone aside to grieve, as not seeing any way to mend it; but I thank God I am not of those. Great occasions only summon as with a trumpet-call the slumbering reserves of my intellect. I saw my opportunity in an instant—in the next I was away! Through the woods I vanished—fst!—like an extinguished light! Away around through the curtaining forest I sped, as if on wings, none knowing what was become of me, none suspecting my design. Minute after minute passed, on and on I flew; on, and still on; and at last with a great cheer I flung my Banner to the breeze and burst out in front of Talbot! Oh, it was a mighty thought! That weltering chaos of distracted men whirled and surged backward like a tidal wave which has struck a continent, and the day was ours! Poor helpless creatures, they were in a trap; they were surrounded; they could not escape to the rear, for there was our army; they could not escape to the front, for there was I. Their hearts shriveled in their bodies, their hands fell listless at their sides. They stood still, and at our leisure we slaughtered them to a man; all except Talbot and Fastolfe, whom I saved and brought away, one under each arm."
Well, there is no denying it, the Paladin was in great form that night. Such style! such noble grace of gesture, such grandeur of attitude, such energy when he got going! such steady rise, on such sure wing, such nicely graduated expenditures of voice according to the weight of the matter, such skilfully calculated approaches to his surprises and explosions, such belief-compelling sincerity of tone and manner, such a climaxing peal from his brazen lungs, and such a lightning-vivid picture of his mailed form and flaunting banner when he burst out before that despairing army! And oh, the gentle art of the last half of his last sentence—delivered in the careless and indolent tone of one who has finished his real story, and only adds a colorless and inconsequential detail because it has happened to occur to him in a lazy way.
It was a marvel to see those innocent peasants. Why, they went all to pieces with enthusiasm, and roared out applauses fit to raise the roof and wake the dead. When they had cooled down at last and there was silence but for the heaving and panting, old Laxart said, admiringly:
"As it seems to me, you are an army in your single person."
"Yes, that is what he is," said Noel Rainguesson, convincingly. "He is a terror; and not just in this vicinity. His mere name carries a shudder with it to distant lands—just his mere name; and when he frowns, the shadow of it falls as far as Rome, and the chickens go to roost an hour before schedule time. Yes; and some say—"
"Noel Rainguesson, you are preparing yourself for trouble. I will say just one word to you, and it will be to your advantage to—"
I saw that the usual thing had got a start. No man could prophesy when it would end. So I delivered Joan's message and went off to bed.
Joan made her good-byes to those old fellows in the morning, with loving embraces and many tears, and with a packed multitude for sympathizers, and they rode proudly away on their precious horses to carry their great news home. I had seen better riders, some will say that; for horsemanship was a new art to them.
The vanguard moved out at dawn and took the road, with bands braying and banners flying; the second division followed at eight. Then came the Burgundian ambassadors, and lost us the rest of that day and the whole of the next. But Joan was on hand, and so they had their journey for their pains. The rest of us took the road at dawn, next morning, July 20th. And got how far? Six leagues. Tremouille was getting in his sly work with the vacillating King, you see. The King stopped at St. Marcoul and prayed three days. Precious time lost—for us; precious time gained for Bedford. He would know how to use it.
We could not go on without the King; that would be to leave him in the conspirators' camp. Joan argued, reasoned, implored; and at last we got under way again.
Joan's prediction was verified. It was not a campaign, it was only another holiday excursion. English strongholds lined our route; they surrendered without a blow; we garrisoned them with Frenchmen and passed on. Bedford was on the march against us with his new army by this time, and on the 25th of July the hostile forces faced each other and made preparation for battle; but Bedford's good judgment prevailed, and he turned and retreated toward Paris. Now was our chance. Our men were in great spirits.
Will you believe it? Our poor stick of a King allowed his worthless advisers to persuade him to start back for Gien, whence he had set out when we first marched for Rheims and the Coronation! And we actually did start back. The fifteen-day truce had just been concluded with the Duke of Burgundy, and we would go and tarry at Gien until he should deliver Paris to us without a fight.
We marched to Bray; then the King changed his mind once more, and with it his face toward Paris. Joan dictated a letter to the citizens of Rheims to encourage them to keep heart in spite of the truce, and promising to stand by them. She furnished them the news herself that the Kin had made this truce; and in speaking of it she was her usual frank self. She said she was not satisfied with it, and didn't know whether she would keep it or not; that if she kept it, it would be solely out of tenderness for the King's honor. All French children know those famous words. How naive they are! "De cette treve qui a ete faite, je ne suis pas contente, et je ne sais si je la tiendrai. Si je la tiens, ce sera seulement pour garder l'honneur du roi." But in any case, she said, she would not allow the blood royal to be abused, and would keep the army in good order and ready for work at the end of the truce.
Poor child, to have to fight England, Burgundy, and a French conspiracy all at the same time—it was too bad. She was a match for the others, but a conspiracy—ah, nobody is a match for that, when the victim that is to be injured is weak and willing. It grieved her, these troubled days, to be so hindered and delayed and baffled, and at times she was sad and the tears lay near the surface. Once, talking with her good old faithful friend and servant, the Bastard of Orleans, she said:
"Ah, if it might but please God to let me put off this steel raiment and go back to my father and my mother, and tend my sheep again with my sister and my brothers, who would be so glad to see me!"
By the 12th of August we were camped near Dampmartin. Later we had a brush with Bedford's rear-guard, and had hopes of a big battle on the morrow, but Bedford and all his force got away in the night and went on toward Paris.
Charles sent heralds and received the submission of Beauvais. The Bishop Pierre Cauchon, that faithful friend and slave of the English, was not able to prevent it, though he did his best. He was obscure then, but his name was to travel round the globe presently, and live forever in the curses of France! Bear with me now, while I spit in fancy upon his grave.
Compiegne surrendered, and hauled down the English flag. On the 14th we camped two leagues from Senlis. Bedford turned and approached, and took up a strong position. We went against him, but all our efforts to beguile him out from his intrenchments failed, though he had promised us a duel in the open field. Night shut down. Let him look out for the morning! But in the morning he was gone again.
We entered Compiegne the 18th of August, turning out the English garrison and hoisting our own flag.
On the 23d Joan gave command to move upon Paris. The King and the clique were not satisfied with this, and retired sulking to Senlis, which had just surrendered. Within a few days many strong places submitted—Creil, Pont-Saint-Maxence, Choisy, Gournay-sur-Aronde, Remy, Le Neufville-en-Hez, Moguay, Chantilly, Saintines. The English power was tumbling, crash after crash! And still the King sulked and disapproved, and was afraid of our movement against the capital.
On the 26th of August, 1429, Joan camped at St. Denis; in effect, under the walls of Paris.
And still the King hung back and was afraid. If we could but have had him there to back us with his authority! Bedford had lost heart and decided to waive resistance and go an concentrate his strength in the best and loyalest province remaining to him—Normandy. Ah, if we could only have persuaded the King to come and countenance us with his presence and approval at this supreme moment!
40 Treachery Conquers Joan
COURIER after courier was despatched to the King, and he promised to come, but didn't. The Duke d'Alencon went to him and got his promise again, which he broke again. Nine days were lost thus; then he came, arriving at St. Denis September 7th.
Meantime the enemy had begun to take heart: the spiritless conduct of the King could have no other result. Preparations had now been made to defend the city. Joan's chances had been diminished, but she and her generals considered them plenty good enough yet. Joan ordered the attack for eight o'clock next morning, and at that hour it began.
Joan placed her artillery and began to pound a strong work which protected the gate St. Honor. When it was sufficiently crippled the assault was sounded at noon, and it was carried by storm. Then we moved forward to storm the gate itself, and hurled ourselves against it again and again, Joan in the lead with her standard at her side, the smoke enveloping us in choking clouds, and the missiles flying over us and through us as thick as hail.
In the midst of our last assault, which would have carried the gate sure and given us Paris and in effect France, Joan was struck down by a crossbow bolt, and our men fell back instantly and almost in a panic—for what were they without her? She was the army, herself.
Although disabled, she refused to retire, and begged that a new assault be made, saying it must win; and adding, with the battle-light rising in her eyes, "I will take Paris now or die!" She had to be carried away by force, and this was done by Gaucourt and the Duke d'Alencon.
But her spirits were at the very top notch, now. She was brimming with enthusiasm. She said she would be carried before the gate in the morning, and in half an hour Paris would be ours without any question. She could have kept her word. About this there was no doubt. But she forgot one factor—the King, shadow of that substance named La Tremouille. The King forbade the attempt!
You see, a new Embassy had just come from the Duke of Burgundy, and another sham private trade of some sort was on foot.
You would know, without my telling you, that Joan's heart was nearly broken. Because of the pain of her wound and the pain at her heart she slept little that night. Several times the watchers heard muffled sobs from the dark room where she lay at St. Denis, and many times the grieving words, "It could have been taken!—it could have been taken!" which were the only ones she said.
She dragged herself out of bed a day later with a new hope. D'Alencon had thrown a bridge across the Seine near St. Denis. Might she not cross by that and assault Paris at another point? But the King got wind of it and broke the bridge down! And more—he declared the campaign ended! And more still—he had made a new truce and a long one, in which he had agreed to leave Paris unthreatened and unmolested, and go back to the Loire whence he had come!
Joan of Arc, who had never been defeated by the enemy, was defeated by her own King. She had said once that all she feared for her cause was treachery. It had struck its first blow now. She hung up her white armor in the royal basilica of St. Denis, and went and asked the King to relieve her of her functions and let her go home. As usual, she was wise. Grand combinations, far-reaching great military moves were at an end, now; for the future, when the truce should end, the war would be merely a war of random and idle skirmishes, apparently; work suitable for subalterns, and not requiring the supervision of a sublime military genius. But the King would not let her go. The truce did not embrace all France; there were French strongholds to be watched and preserved; he would need her. Really, you see, Tremouille wanted to keep her where he could balk and hinder her.
Now came her Voices again. They said, "Remain at St. Denis." There was no explanation. They did not say why. That was the voice of God; it took precedence of the command of the King; Joan resolved to stay. But that filled La Tremouille with dread. She was too tremendous a force to be left to herself; she would surely defeat all his plans. He beguiled the King to use compulsion. Joan had to submit—because she was wounded and helpless. In the Great Trial she said she was carried away against her will; and that if she had not been wounded it could not have been accomplished. Ah, she had a spirit, that slender girl! a spirit to brave all earthly powers and defy them. We shall never know why the Voices ordered her to stay. We only know this; that if she could have obeyed, the history of France would not be as it now stands written in the books. Yes, well we know that.
On the 13th of September the army, sad and spiritless, turned its face toward the Loire, and marched—without music! Yes, one noted that detail. It was a funeral march; that is what it was. A long, dreary funeral march, with never a shout or a cheer; friends looking on in tears, all the way, enemies laughing. We reached Gien at last—that place whence we had set out on our splendid march toward Rheims less than three months before, with flags flying, bands playing, the victory-flush of Patay glowing in our faces, and the massed multitudes shouting and praising and giving us godspeed. There was a dull rain falling now, the day was dark, the heavens mourned, the spectators were few, we had no welcome but the welcome of silence, and pity, and tears.
Then the King disbanded that noble army of heroes; it furled its flags, it stored its arms: the disgrace of France was complete. La Tremouille wore the victor's crown; Joan of Arc, the unconquerable, was conquered.
41 The Maid Will March No More
YES, IT was as I have said: Joan had Paris and France in her grip, and the Hundred Years' War under her heel, and the King made her open her fist and take away her foot.
Now followed about eight months of drifting about with the King and his council, and his gay and showy and dancing and flirting and hawking and frolicking and serenading and dissipating court—drifting from town to town and from castle to castle—a life which was pleasant to us of the personal staff, but not to Joan. However, she only saw it, she didn't live it. The King did his sincerest best to make her happy, and showed a most kind and constant anxiety in this matter.
All others had to go loaded with the chains of an exacting court etiquette, but she was free, she was privileged. So that she paid her duty to the King once a day and passed the pleasant word, nothing further was required of her. Naturally, then, she made herself a hermit, and grieved the weary days through in her own apartments, with her thoughts and devotions for company, and the planning of now forever unrealizable military combinations for entertainment. In fancy she moved bodies of men from this and that and the other point, so calculating the distances to be covered, the time required for each body, and the nature of the country to be traversed, as to have them appear in sight of each other on a given day or at a given hour and concentrate for battle. It was her only game, her only relief from her burden of sorrow and inaction. She played it hour after hour, as others play chess; and lost herself in it, and so got repose for her mind and healing for her heart.
She never complained, of course. It was not her way. She was the sort that endure in silence.
But—she was a caged eagle just the same, and pined for the free air and the alpine heights and the fierce joys of the storm.
France was full of rovers—disbanded soldiers ready for anything that might turn up. Several times, at intervals, when Joan's dull captivity grew too heavy to bear, she was allowed to gather a troop of cavalry and make a health-restoring dash against the enemy. These things were a bath to her spirits.
It was like old times, there at Saint-Pierre-le-Moutier, to see her lead assault after assault, be driven back again and again, but always rally and charge anew, all in a blaze of eagerness and delight; till at last the tempest of missiles rained so intolerably thick that old D'Aulon, who was wounded, sounded the retreat (for the King had charged him on his head to let no harm come to Joan); and away everybody rushed after him—as he supposed; but when he turned and looked, there were we of the staff still hammering away; wherefore he rode back and urged her to come, saying she was mad to stay there with only a dozen men. Her eye danced merrily, and she turned upon him crying out:
"A dozen men! name of God, I have fifty-thousand, and will never budge till this place is taken!
"Sound the charge!"
Which he did, and over the walls we went, and the fortress was ours. Old D'Aulon thought her mind was wandering; but all she meant was, that she felt the might of fifty thousand men surging in her heart. It was a fanciful expression; but, to my thinking, truer word was never said.
Then there was the affair near Lagny, where we charged the intrenched Burgundians through the open field four times, the last time victoriously; the best prize of it Franquet d'Arras, the free-booter and pitiless scourge of the region roundabout.
Now and then other such affairs; and at last, away toward the end of May, 1430, we were in the neighborhood of Compiegne, and Joan resolved to go to the help of that place, which was being besieged by the Duke of Burgundy.
I had been wounded lately, and was not able to ride without help; but the good Dwarf took me on behind him, and I held on to him and was safe enough. We started at midnight, in a sullen downpour of warm rain, and went slowly and softly and in dead silence, for we had to slip through the enemy's lines. We were challenged only once; we made no answer, but held our breath and crept steadily and stealthily along, and got through without any accident. About three or half past we reached Compiegne, just as the gray dawn was breaking in the east.
Joan set to work at once, and concerted a plan with Guillaume de Flavy, captain of the city—a plan for a sortie toward evening against the enemy, who was posted in three bodies on the other side of the Oise, in the level plain. From our side one of the city gates communicated with a bridge. The end of this bridge was defended on the other side of the river by one of those fortresses called a boulevard; and this boulevard also commanded a raised road, which stretched from its front across the plain to the village of Marguy. A force of Burgundians occupied Marguy; another was camped at Clairoix, a couple of miles above the raised road; and a body of English was holding Venette, a mile and a half below it. A kind of bow-and-arrow arrangement, you see; the causeway the arrow, the boulevard at the feather-end of it, Marguy at the barb, Venette at one end of the bow, Clairoix at the other.
Joan's plan was to go straight per causeway against Marguy, carry it by assault, then turn swiftly upon Clairoix, up to the right, and capture that camp in the same way, then face to the rear and be ready for heavy work, for the Duke of Burgundy lay behind Clairoix with a reserve. Flavy's lieutenant, with archers and the artillery of the boulevard, was to keep the English troops from coming up from below and seizing the causeway and cutting off Joan's retreat in case she should have to make one. Also, a fleet of covered boats was to be stationed near the boulevard as an additional help in case a retreat should become necessary.
It was the 24th of May. At four in the afternoon Joan moved out at the head of six hundred cavalry—on her last march in this life!
It breaks my heart. I had got myself helped up onto the walls, and from there I saw much that happened, the rest was told me long afterward by our two knights and other eye-witnesses. Joan crossed the bridge, and soon left the boulevard behind her and went skimming away over the raised road with her horsemen clattering at her heels. She had on a brilliant silver-gilt cape over her armor, and I could see it flap and flare and rise and fall like a little patch of white flame.
It was a bright day, and one could see far and wide over that plain. Soon we saw the English force advancing, swiftly and in handsome order, the sunlight flashing from its arms.
Joan crashed into the Burgundians at Marguy and was repulsed. Then she saw the other Burgundians moving down from Clairoix. Joan rallied her men and charged again, and was again rolled back. Two assaults occupy a good deal of time—and time was precious here. The English were approaching the road now from Venette, but the boulevard opened fire on them and they were checked. Joan heartened her men with inspiring words and led them to the charge again in great style. This time she carried Marguy with a hurrah. Then she turned at once to the right and plunged into the plan and struck the Clairoix force, which was just arriving; then there was heavy work, and plenty of it, the two armies hurling each other backward turn about and about, and victory inclining first to the one, then to the other. Now all of a sudden there was a panic on our side. Some say one thing caused it, some another. Some say the cannonade made our front ranks think retreat was being cut off by the English, some say the rear ranks got the idea that Joan was killed. Anyway our men broke, and went flying in a wild rout for the causeway. Joan tried to rally them and face them around, crying to them that victory was sure, but it did no good, they divided and swept by her like a wave. Old D'Aulon begged her to retreat while there was yet a chance for safety, but she refused; so he seized her horse's bridle and bore her along with the wreck and ruin in spite of herself. And so along the causeway they came swarming, that wild confusion of frenzied men and horses—and the artillery had to stop firing, of course; consequently the English and Burgundians closed in in safety, the former in front, the latter behind their prey. Clear to the boulevard the French were washed in this enveloping inundation; and there, cornered in an angle formed by the flank of the boulevard and the slope of the causeway, they bravely fought a hopeless fight, and sank down one by one.
Flavy, watching from the city wall, ordered the gate to be closed and the drawbridge raised. This shut Joan out.
The little personal guard around her thinned swiftly. Both of our good knights went down disabled; Joan's two brothers fell wounded; then Noel Rainguesson—all wounded while loyally sheltering Joan from blows aimed at her. When only the Dwarf and the Paladin were left, they would not give up, but stood their ground stoutly, a pair of steel towers streaked and splashed with blood; and where the ax of one fell, and the sword of the other, an enemy gasped and died.
And so fighting, and loyal to their duty to the last, good simple souls, they came to their honorable end. Peace to their memories! they were very dear to me.
Then there was a cheer and a rush, and Joan, still defiant, still laying about her with her sword, was seized by her cape and dragged from her horse. She was borne away a prisoner to the Duke of Burgundy's camp, and after her followed the victorious army roaring its joy.
The awful news started instantly on its round; from lip to lip it flew; and wherever it came it struck the people as with a sort of paralysis; and they murmured over and over again, as if they were talking to themselves, or in their sleep, "The Maid of Orleans taken!... Joan of Arc a prisoner!... the savior of France lost to us!"—and would keep saying that over, as if they couldn't understand how it could be, or how God could permit it, poor creatures!
You know what a city is like when it is hung from eaves to pavement with rustling black? Then you know what Rouse was like, and some other cities. But can any man tell you what the mourning in the hearts of the peasantry of France was like? No, nobody can tell you that, and, poor dumb things, they could not have told you themselves, but it was there—indeed, yes. Why, it was the spirit of a whole nation hung with crape!
The 24th of May. We will draw down the curtain now upon the most strange, and pathetic, and wonderful military drama that has been played upon the stage of the world. Joan of Arc will march no more.
BOOK III TRIAL AND MARTYRDOM
1 The Maid in Chains
I CANNOT bear to dwell at great length upon the shameful history of the summer and winter following the capture. For a while I was not much troubled, for I was expecting every day to hear that Joan had been put to ransom, and that the King—no, not the King, but grateful France—had come eagerly forward to pay it. By the laws of war she could not be denied the privilege of ransom. She was not a rebel; she was a legitimately constituted soldier, head of the armies of France by her King's appointment, and guilty of no crime known to military law; therefore she could not be detained upon any pretext, if ransom were proffered.
But day after day dragged by and no ransom was offered! It seems incredible, but it is true. Was that reptile Tremouille busy at the King's ear? All we know is, that the King was silent, and made no offer and no effort in behalf of this poor girl who had done so much for him.
But, unhappily, there was alacrity enough in another quarter. The news of the capture reached Paris the day after it happened, and the glad English and Burgundians deafened the world all the day and all the night with the clamor of their joy-bells and the thankful thunder of their artillery, and the next day the Vicar-General of the Inquisition sent a message to the Duke of Burgundy requiring the delivery of the prisoner into the hands of the Church to be tried as an idolater.
The English had seen their opportunity, and it was the English power that was really acting, not the Church. The Church was being used as a blind, a disguise; and for a forcible reason: the Church was not only able to take the life of Joan of Arc, but to blight her influence and the valor-breeding inspiration of her name, whereas the English power could but kill her body; that would not diminish or destroy the influence of her name; it would magnify it and make it permanent. Joan of Arc was the only power in France that the English did not despise, the only power in France that they considered formidable. If the Church could be brought to take her life, or to proclaim her an idolater, a heretic, a witch, sent from Satan, not from heaven, it was believed that the English supremacy could be at once reinstated.
The Duke of Burgundy listened—but waited. He could not doubt that the French King or the French people would come forward presently and pay a higher price than the English. He kept Joan a close prisoner in a strong fortress, and continued to wait, week after week. He was a French prince, and was at heart ashamed to sell her to the English. Yet with all his waiting no offer came to him from the French side.
One day Joan played a cunning trick on her jailer, and not only slipped out of her prison, but locked him up in it. But as she fled away she was seen by a sentinel, and was caught and brought back.
Then she was sent to Beaurevoir, a stronger castle. This was early in August, and she had been in captivity more than two months now. Here she was shut up in the top of a tower which was sixty feet high. She ate her heart there for another long stretch—about three months and a half. And she was aware, all these weary five months of captivity, that the English, under cover of the Church, were dickering for her as one would dicker for a horse or a slave, and that France was silent, the King silent, all her friends the same. Yes, it was pitiful.
And yet when she heard at last that Compiegne was being closely besieged and likely to be captured, and that the enemy had declared that no inhabitant of it should escape massacre, not even children of seven years of age, she was in a fever at once to fly to our rescue. So she tore her bedclothes to strips and tied them together and descended this frail rope in the night, and it broke, and she fell and was badly bruised, and remained three days insensible, meantime neither eating nor drinking.
And now came relief to us, led by the Count of Vendome, and Compiegne was saved and the siege raised. This was a disaster to the Duke of Burgundy. He had to save money now. It was a good time for a new bid to be made for Joan of Arc. The English at once sent a French bishop—that forever infamous Pierre Cauchon of Beauvais. He was partly promised the Archbishopric of Rouen, which was vacant, if he should succeed. He claimed the right to preside over Joan's ecclesiastical trial because the battle-ground where she was taken was within his diocese. By the military usage of the time the ransom of a royal prince was 10,000 livres of gold, which is 61,125 francs—a fixed sum, you see. It must be accepted when offered; it could not be refused.
Cauchon brought the offer of this very sum from the English—a royal prince's ransom for the poor little peasant-girl of Domremy. It shows in a striking way the English idea of her formidable importance. It was accepted. For that sum Joan of Arc, the Savior of France, was sold; sold to her enemies; to the enemies of her country; enemies who had lashed and thrashed and thumped and trounced France for a century and made holiday sport of it; enemies who had forgotten, years and years ago, what a Frenchman's face was like, so used were they to seeing nothing but his back; enemies whom she had whipped, whom she had cowed, whom she had taught to respect French valor, new-born in her nation by the breath of her spirit; enemies who hungered for her life as being the only puissance able to stand between English triumph and French degradation. Sold to a French priest by a French prince, with the French King and the French nation standing thankless by and saying nothing.
And she—what did she say? Nothing. Not a reproach passed her lips. She was too great for that—she was Joan of Arc; and when that is said, all is said.
As a soldier, her record was spotless. She could not be called to account for anything under that head. A subterfuge must be found, and, as we have seen, was found. She must be tried by priests for crimes against religion. If none could be discovered, some must be invented. Let the miscreant Cauchon alone to contrive those.
Rouen was chosen as the scene of the trial. It was in the heart of the English power; its population had been under English dominion so many generations that they were hardly French now, save in language. The place was strongly garrisoned. Joan was taken there near the end of December, 1430, and flung into a dungeon. Yes, and clothed in chains, that free spirit!
Still France made no move. How do I account for this? I think there is only one way. You will remember that whenever Joan was not at the front, the French held back and ventured nothing; that whenever she led, they swept everything before them, so long as they could see her white armor or her banner; that every time she fell wounded or was reported killed—as at Compiegne—they broke in panic and fled like sheep. I argue from this that they had undergone no real transformation as yet; that at bottom they were still under the spell of a timorousness born of generations of unsuccess, and a lack of confidence in each other and in their leaders born of old and bitter experience in the way of treacheries of all sorts—for their kings had been treacherous to their great vassals and to their generals, and these in turn were treacherous to the head of the state and to each other. The soldiery found that they could depend utterly on Joan, and upon her alone. With her gone, everything was gone. She was the sun that melted the frozen torrents and set them boiling; with that sun removed, they froze again, and the army and all France became what they had been before, mere dead corpses—that and nothing more; incapable of thought, hope, ambition, or motion.
2 Joan Sold to the English
MY WOUND gave me a great deal of trouble clear into the first part of October; then the fresher weather renewed my life and strength. All this time there were reports drifting about that the King was going to ransom Joan. I believed these, for I was young and had not yet found out the littleness and meanness of our poor human race, which brags about itself so much, and thinks it is better and higher than the other animals.
In October I was well enough to go out with two sorties, and in the second one, on the 23d, I was wounded again. My luck had turned, you see. On the night of the 25th the besiegers decamped, and in the disorder and confusion one of their prisoners escaped and got safe into Compiegne, and hobbled into my room as pallid and pathetic an object as you would wish to see.
"What? Alive? Noel Rainguesson!"
It was indeed he. It was a most joyful meeting, that you will easily know; and also as sad as it was joyful. We could not speak Joan's name. One's voice would have broken down. We knew who was meant when she was mentioned; we could say "she" and "her," but we could not speak the name.
We talked of the personal staff. Old D'Aulon, wounded and a prisoner, was still with Joan and serving her, by permission of the Duke of Burgundy. Joan was being treated with respect due to her rank and to her character as a prisoner of war taken in honorable conflict. And this was continued—as we learned later—until she fell into the hands of that bastard of Satan, Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.
Noel was full of noble and affectionate praises and appreciations of our old boastful big Standard-Bearer, now gone silent forever, his real and imaginary battles all fought, his work done, his life honorably closed and completed.
"And think of his luck!" burst out Noel, with his eyes full of tears. "Always the pet child of luck!
"See how it followed him and stayed by him, from his first step all through, in the field or out of it; always a splendid figure in the public eye, courted and envied everywhere; always having a chance to do fine things and always doing them; in the beginning called the Paladin in joke, and called it afterward in earnest because he magnificently made the title good; and at last—supremest luck of all—died in the field! died with his harness on; died faithful to his charge, the Standard in his hand; died—oh, think of it—with the approving eye of Joan of Arc upon him!
"He drained the cup of glory to the last drop, and went jubilant to his peace, blessedly spared all part in the disaster which was to follow. What luck, what luck! And we? What was our sin that we are still here, we who have also earned our place with the happy dead?"
And presently he said:
"They tore the sacred Standard from his dead hand and carried it away, their most precious prize after its captured owner. But they haven't it now. A month ago we put our lives upon the risk—our two good knights, my fellow-prisoners, and I—and stole it, and got it smuggled by trusty hands to Orleans, and there it is now, safe for all time in the Treasury."
I was glad and grateful to learn that. I have seen it often since, when I have gone to Orleans on the 8th of May to be the petted old guest of the city and hold the first place of honor at the banquets and in the processions—I mean since Joan's brothers passed from this life. It will still be there, sacredly guarded by French love, a thousand years from now—yes, as long as any shred of it hangs together. (1) Two or three weeks after this talk came the tremendous news like a thunder-clap, and we were aghast—Joan of Arc sold to the English!
Not for a moment had we ever dreamed of such a thing. We were young, you see, and did not know the human race, as I have said before. We had been so proud of our country, so sure of her nobleness, her magnanimity, her gratitude. We had expected little of the King, but of France we had expected everything. Everybody knew that in various towns patriot priests had been marching in procession urging the people to sacrifice money, property, everything, and buy the freedom of their heaven-sent deliverer. That the money would be raised we had not thought of doubting.
But it was all over now, all over. It was a bitter time for us. The heavens seemed hung with black; all cheer went out from our hearts. Was this comrade here at my bedside really Noel Rainguesson, that light-hearted creature whose whole life was but one long joke, and who used up more breath in laughter than in keeping his body alive? No, no; that Noel I was to see no more. This one's heart was broken. He moved grieving about, and absently, like one in a dream; the stream of his laughter was dried at its source.
Well, that was best. It was my own mood. We were company for each other. He nursed me patiently through the dull long weeks, and at last, in January, I was strong enough to go about again. Then he said:
"Shall we go now?"
There was no need to explain. Our hearts were in Rouen; we would carry our bodies there. All that we cared for in this life was shut up in that fortress. We could not help her, but it would be some solace to us to be near her, to breathe the air that she breathed, and look daily upon the stone walls that hid her. What if we should be made prisoners there? Well, we could but do our best, and let luck and fate decide what should happen.
And so we started. We could not realize the change which had come upon the country. We seemed able to choose our own route and go whenever we pleased, unchallenged and unmolested. When Joan of Arc was in the field there was a sort of panic of fear everywhere; but now that she was out of the way, fear had vanished. Nobody was troubled about you or afraid of you, nobody was curious about you or your business, everybody was indifferent.
We presently saw that we could take to the Seine, and not weary ourselves out with land travel.
So we did it, and were carried in a boat to within a league of Rouen. Then we got ashore; not on the hilly side, but on the other, where it is as level as a floor. Nobody could enter or leave the city without explaining himself. It was because they feared attempts at a rescue of Joan.
We had no trouble. We stopped in the plain with a family of peasants and stayed a week, helping them with their work for board and lodging, and making friends of them. We got clothes like theirs, and wore them. When we had worked our way through their reserves and gotten their confidence, we found that they secretly harbored French hearts in their bodies. Then we came out frankly and told them everything, and found them ready to do anything they could to help us.
Our plan was soon made, and was quite simple. It was to help them drive a flock of sheep to the market of the city. One morning early we made the venture in a melancholy drizzle of rain, and passed through the frowning gates unmolested. Our friends had friends living over a humble wine shop in a quaint tall building situated in one of the narrow lanes that run down from the cathedral to the river, and with these they bestowed us; and the next day they smuggled our own proper clothing and other belongings to us. The family that lodged us—the Pieroons—were French in sympathy, and we needed to have no secrets from them.
(1) It remained there three hundred and sixty years, and then was destroyed in a public bonfire, together with two swords, a plumed cap, several suits of state apparel, and other relics of the Maid, by a mob in the time of the Revolution. Nothing which the hand of Joan of Arc is known to have touched now remains in existence except a few preciously guarded military and state papers which she signed, her pen being guided by a clerk or her secretary, Louis de Conte. A boulder exists from which she is known to have mounted her horse when she was once setting out upon a campaign. Up to a quarter of a century ago there was a single hair from her head still in existence. It was drawn through the wax of a seal attached to the parchment of a state document. It was surreptitiously snipped out, seal and all, by some vandal relic-hunter, and carried off. Doubtless it still exists, but only the thief knows where. — TRANSLATOR.
3 Weaving the Net About Her
IT WAS necessary for me to have some way to gain bread for Noel and myself; and when the Pierrons found that I knew how to write, the applied to their confessor in my behalf, and he got a place for me with a good priest named Manchon, who was to be the chief recorder in the Great Trial of Joan of Arc now approaching. It was a strange position for me—clerk to the recorder—and dangerous if my sympathies and the late employment should be found out. But there was not much danger. Manchon was at bottom friendly to Joan and would not betray me; and my name would not, for I had discarded my surname and retained only my given one, like a person of low degree.
I attended Manchon constantly straight along, out of January and into February, and was often in the citadel with him—in the very fortress where Joan was imprisoned, though not in the dungeon where she was confined, and so did not see her, of course.
Manchon told me everything that had been happening before my coming. Ever since the purchase of Joan, Cauchon had been busy packing his jury for the destruction of the Maid—weeks and weeks he had spent in this bad industry. The University of Paris had sent him a number of learned and able and trusty ecclesiastics of the stripe he wanted; and he had scraped together a clergyman of like stripe and great fame here and there and yonder, until he was able to construct a formidable court numbering half a hundred distinguished names. French names they were, but their interests and sympathies were English.
A great officer of the Inquisition was also sent from Paris for the accused must be tried by the forms of the Inquisition; but this was a brave and righteous man, and he said squarely that this court had no power to try the case, wherefore he refused to act; and the same honest talk was uttered by two or three others.
The Inquisitor was right. The case as here resurrected against Joan had already been tried long ago at Poitiers, and decided in her favor. Yes, and by a higher tribunal than this one, for at the head of it was an Archbishop—he of Rheims—Cauchon's own metropolitan. So here, you see, a lower court was impudently preparing to try and redecide a cause which had already been decided by its superior, a court of higher authority. Imagine it! No, the case could not properly be tried again. Cauchon could not properly preside in this new court, for more than one reason:
Rouen was not in his diocese; Joan had not been arrested in her domicile, which was still Domremy; and finally this proposed judge was the prisoner's outspoken enemy, and therefore he was incompetent to try her. Yet all these large difficulties were gotten rid of. The territorial Chapter of Rouen finally granted territorial letters to Cauchon—though only after a struggle and under compulsion. Force was also applied to the Inquisitor, and he was obliged to submit.
So then, the little English King, by his representative, formally delivered Joan into the hands of the court, but with this reservation: if the court failed to condemn her, he was to have her back again! Ah, dear, what chance was there for that forsaken and friendless child? Friendless, indeed—it is the right word. For she was in a black dungeon, with half a dozen brutal common soldiers keeping guard night and day in the room where her cage was—for she was in a cage; an iron cage, and chained to her bed by neck and hands and feet. Never a person near her whom she had ever seen before; never a woman at all. Yes, this was, indeed, friendlessness.
Now it was a vassal of Jean de Luxembourg who captured Joan and Compiegne, and it was Jean who sold her to the Duke of Burgundy. Yet this very De Luxembourg was shameless enough to go and show his face to Joan in her cage. He came with two English earls, Warwick and Stafford. He was a poor reptile. He told her he would get her set free if she would promise not to fight the English any more. She had been in that cage a long time now, but not long enough to break her spirit. She retorted scornfully:
"Name of God, you but mock me. I know that you have neither the power nor the will to do it."
He insisted. Then the pride and dignity of the soldier rose in Joan, and she lifted her chained hands and let them fall with a clash, saying:
"See these! They know more than you, and can prophesy better. I know that the English are going to kill me, for they think that when I am dead they can get the Kingdom of France. It is not so.
"Though there were a hundred thousand of them they would never get it."
This defiance infuriated Stafford, and he—now think of it—he a free, strong man, she a chained and helpless girl—he drew his dagger and flung himself at her to stab her. But Warwick seized him and held him back. Warwick was wise. Take her life in that way? Send her to Heaven stainless and undisgraced? It would make her the idol of France, and the whole nation would rise and march to victory and emancipation under the inspiration of her spirit. No, she must be saved for another fate than that.
Well, the time was approaching for the Great Trial. For more than two months Cauchon had been raking and scraping everywhere for any odds and ends of evidence or suspicion or conjecture that might be usable against Joan, and carefully suppressing all evidence that came to hand in her favor. He had limitless ways and means and powers at his disposal for preparing and strengthening the case for the prosecution, and he used them all.
But Joan had no one to prepare her case for her, and she was shut up in those stone walls and had no friend to appeal to for help. And as for witnesses, she could not call a single one in her defense; they were all far away, under the French flag, and this was an English court; they would have been seized and hanged if they had shown their faces at the gates of Rouen. No, the prisoner must be the sole witness—witness for the prosecution, witness for the defense; and with a verdict of death resolved upon before the doors were opened for the court's first sitting.
When she learned that the court was made up of ecclesiastics in the interest of the English, she begged that in fairness an equal number of priests of the French party should be added to these.
Cauchon scoffed at her message, and would not even deign to answer it.
By the law of the Church—she being a minor under twenty-one—it was her right to have counsel to conduct her case, advise her how to answer when questioned, and protect her from falling into traps set by cunning devices of the prosecution. She probably did not know that this was her right, and that she could demand it and require it, for there was none to tell her that; but she begged for this help, at any rate. Cauchon refused it. She urged and implored, pleading her youth and her ignorance of the complexities and intricacies of the law and of legal procedure. Cauchon refused again, and said she must get along with her case as best she might by herself. Ah, his heart was a stone.
Cauchon prepared the proces verbal. I will simplify that by calling it the Bill of Particulars. It was a detailed list of the charges against her, and formed the basis of the trial. Charges? It was a list of suspicions and public rumors—those were the words used. It was merely charged that she was suspected of having been guilty of heresies, witchcraft, and other such offenses against religion.
Now by the law of the Church, a trial of that sort could not be begun until a searching inquiry had been made into the history and character of the accused, and it was essential that the result of this inquiry be added to the proces verbal and form a part of it. You remember that that was the first thing they did before the trial at Poitiers. They did it again now. An ecclesiastic was sent to Domremy. There and all about the neighborhood he made an exhaustive search into Joan's history and character, and came back with his verdict. It was very clear. The searcher reported that he found Joan's character to be in every way what he "would like his own sister's character to be." Just about the same report that was brought back to Poitiers, you see. Joan's was a character which could endure the minutest examination.
This verdict was a strong point for Joan, you will say. Yes, it would have been if it could have seen the light; but Cauchon was awake, and it disappeared from the proces verbal before the trial. People were prudent enough not to inquire what became of it.
One would imagine that Cauchon was ready to begin the trial by this time. But no, he devised one more scheme for poor Joan's destruction, and it promised to be a deadly one.
One of the great personages picked out and sent down by the University of Paris was an ecclesiastic named Nicolas Loyseleur. He was tall, handsome, grave, of smooth, soft speech and courteous and winning manners. There was no seeming of treachery or hypocrisy about him, yet he was full of both. He was admitted to Joan's prison by night, disguised as a cobbler; he pretended to be from her own country; he professed to be secretly a patriot; he revealed the fact that he was a priest. She was filled with gladness to see one from the hills and plains that were so dear to her; happier still to look upon a priest and disburden her heart in confession, for the offices of the Church were the bread of life, the breath of her nostrils to her, and she had been long forced to pine for them in vain. She opened her whole innocent heart to this creature, and in return he gave her advice concerning her trial which could have destroyed her if her deep native wisdom had not protected her against following it.
You will ask, what value could this scheme have, since the secrets of the confessional are sacred and cannot be revealed? True—but suppose another person should overhear them? That person is not bound to keep the secret. Well, that is what happened. Cauchon had previously caused a hole to be bored through the wall; and he stood with his ear to that hole and heard all. It is pitiful to think of these things. One wonders how they could treat that poor child so. She had not done them any harm.
4 All Ready to Condemn
ON TUESDAY, the 20th of February, while I sat at my master's work in the evening, he came in, looking sad, and said it had been decided to begin the trial at eight o'clock the next morning, and I must get ready to assist him.
Of course I had been expecting such news every day for many days; but no matter, the shock of it almost took my breath away and set me trembling like a leaf. I suppose that without knowing it I had been half imagining that at the last moment something would happen, something that would stop this fatal trial; maybe that La Hire would burst in at the gates with his hellions at his back; maybe that God would have pity and stretch forth His mighty hand. But now—now there was no hope.
The trial was to begin in the chapel of the fortress and would be public. So I went sorrowing away and told Noel, so that he might be there early and secure a place. It would give him a chance to look again upon the face which we so revered and which was so precious to us. All the way, both going and coming, I plowed through chattering and rejoicing multitudes of English soldiery and English-hearted French citizens. There was no talk but of the coming event. Many times I heard the remark, accompanied by a pitiless laugh:
"The fat Bishop has got things as he wants them at last, and says he will lead the vile witch a merry dance and a short one."
But here and there I glimpsed compassion and distress in a face, and it was not always a French one. English soldiers feared Joan, but they admired her for her great deeds and her unconquerable spirit.
In the morning Manchon and I went early, yet as we approached the vast fortress we found crowds of men already there and still others gathering. The chapel was already full and the way barred against further admissions of unofficial persons. We took our appointed places. Throned on high sat the president, Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, in his grand robes, and before him in rows sat his robed court—fifty distinguished ecclesiastics, men of high degree in the Church, of clear-cut intellectual faces, men of deep learning, veteran adepts in strategy and casuistry, practised setters of traps for ignorant minds and unwary feet. When I looked around upon this army of masters of legal fence, gathered here to find just one verdict and no other, and remembered that Joan must fight for her good name and her life single-handed against them, I asked myself what chance an ignorant poor country-girl of nineteen could have in such an unequal conflict; and my heart sank down low, very low. When I looked again at that obese president, puffing and wheezing there, his great belly distending and receding with each breath, and noted his three chins, fold above fold, and his knobby and knotty face, and his purple and splotchy complexion, and his repulsive cauliflower nose, and his cold and malignant eyes—a brute, every detail of him—my heart sank lower still. And when I noted that all were afraid of this man, and shrank and fidgeted in their seats when his eye smote theirs, my last poor ray of hope dissolved away and wholly disappeared.
There was one unoccupied seat in this place, and only one. It was over against the wall, in view of every one. It was a little wooden bench without a back, and it stood apart and solitary on a sort of dais. Tall men-at-arms in morion, breastplate, and steel gauntlets stood as stiff as their own halberds on each side of this dais, but no other creature was near by it. A pathetic little bench to me it was, for I knew whom it was for; and the sight of it carried my mind back to the great court at Poitiers, where Joan sat upon one like it and calmly fought her cunning fight with the astonished doctors of the Church and Parliament, and rose from it victorious and applauded by all, and went forth to fill the world with the glory of her name.
What a dainty little figure she was, and how gentle and innocent, how winning and beautiful in the fresh bloom of her seventeen years! Those were grand days. And so recent—for she was just nineteen now—and how much she had seen since, and what wonders she had accomplished!
But now—oh, all was changed now. She had been languishing in dungeons, away from light and air and the cheer of friendly faces, for nearly three-quarters of a year—she, born child of the sun, natural comrade of the birds and of all happy free creatures. She would be weary now, and worn with this long captivity, her forces impaired; despondent, perhaps, as knowing there was no hope. Yes, all was changed.
All this time there had been a muffled hum of conversation, and rustling of robes and scraping of feet on the floor, a combination of dull noises which filled all the place. Suddenly:
"Produce the accused!"
It made me catch my breath. My heart began to thump like a hammer. But there was silence now—silence absolute. All those noises ceased, and it was as if they had never been. Not a sound; the stillness grew oppressive; it was like a weight upon one. All faces were turned toward the door; and one could properly expect that, for most of the people there suddenly realized, no doubt, that they were about to see, in actual flesh and blood, what had been to them before only an embodied prodigy, a word, a phrase, a world-girdling Name.
The stillness continued. Then, far down the stone-paved corridors, one heard a vague slow sound approaching: clank... clink... clank—Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France, in chains!
My head swam; all things whirled and spun about me. Ah, I was realizing, too.
5 Fifty Experts Against a Novice
I GIVE you my honor now that I am not going to distort or discolor the facts of this miserable trial. No, I will give them to you honestly, detail by detail, just as Manchon and I set them down daily in the official record of the court, and just as one may read them in the printed histories.
There will be only this difference: that in talking familiarly with you, I shall use my right to comment upon the proceedings and explain them as I go along, so that you can understand them better; also, I shall throw in trifles which came under our eyes and have a certain interest for you and me, but were not important enough to go into the official record. (1) To take up my story now where I left off. We heard the clanking of Joan's chains down the corridors; she was approaching.
Presently she appeared; a thrill swept the house, and one heard deep breaths drawn. Two guardsmen followed her at a short distance to the rear. Her head was bowed a little, and she moved slowly, she being weak and her irons heavy. She had on men's attire—all black; a soft woolen stuff, intensely black, funereally black, not a speck of relieving color in it from her throat to the floor. A wide collar of this same black stuff lay in radiating folds upon her shoulders and breast; the sleeves of her doublet were full, down to the elbows, and tight thence to her manacled wrists; below the doublet, tight black hose down to the chains on her ankles.
Half-way to her bench she stopped, just where a wide shaft of light fell slanting from a window, and slowly lifted her face. Another thrill!—it was totally colorless, white as snow; a face of gleaming snow set in vivid contrast upon that slender statue of somber unmitigated black. It was smooth and pure and girlish, beautiful beyond belief, infinitely sad and sweet. But, dear, dear! when the challenge of those untamed eyes fell upon that judge, and the droop vanished from her form and it straightened up soldierly and noble, my heart leaped for joy; and I said, all is well, all is well—they have not broken her, they have not conquered her, she is Joan of Arc still! Yes, it was plain to me now that there was one spirit there which this dreaded judge could not quell nor make afraid.
She moved to her place and mounted the dais and seated herself upon her bench, gathering her chains into her lap and nestling her little white hands there. Then she waited in tranquil dignity, the only person there who seemed unmoved and unexcited. A bronzed and brawny English soldier, standing at martial ease in the front rank of the citizen spectators, did now most gallantly and respectfully put up his great hand and give her the military salute; and she, smiling friendly, put up hers and returned it; whereat there was a sympathetic little break of applause, which the judge sternly silence.
Now the memorable inquisition called in history the Great Trial began. Fifty experts against a novice, and no one to help the novice!
The judge summarized the circumstances of the case and the public reports and suspicions upon which it was based; then he required Joan to kneel and make oath that she would answer with exact truthfulness to all questions asked her.
Joan's mind was not asleep. It suspected that dangerous possibilities might lie hidden under this apparently fair and reasonable demand. She answered with the simplicity which so often spoiled the enemy's best-laid plans in the trial at Poitiers, and said:
"No; for I do not know what you are going to ask me; you might ask of me things which I would not tell you."
This incensed the Court, and brought out a brisk flurry of angry exclamations. Joan was not disturbed. Cauchon raised his voice and began to speak in the midst of this noise, but he was so angry that he could hardly get his words out. He said:
"With the divine assistance of our Lord we require you to expedite these proceedings for the welfare of your conscience. Swear, with your hands upon the Gospels, that you will answer true to the questions which shall be asked you!" and he brought down his fat hand with a crash upon his official table.
Joan said, with composure:
"As concerning my father and mother, and the faith, and what things I have done since my coming into France, I will gladly answer; but as regards the revelations which I have received from God, my Voices have forbidden me to confide them to any save my King—"
Here there was another angry outburst of threats and expletives, and much movement and confusion; so she had to stop, and wait for the noise to subside; then her waxen face flushed a little and she straightened up and fixed her eye on the judge, and finished her sentence in a voice that had the old ring to it:
—"and I will never reveal these things though you cut my head off!"
Well, maybe you know what a deliberative body of Frenchmen is like. The judge and half the court were on their feet in a moment, and all shaking their fists at the prisoner, and all storming and vituperating at once, so that you could hardly hear yourself think. They kept this up several minutes; and because Joan sat untroubled and indifferent they grew madder and noisier all the time. Once she said, with a fleeting trace of the old-time mischief in her eye and manner:
"Prithee, speak one at a time, fair lords, then I will answer all of you."
At the end of three whole hours of furious debating over the oath, the situation had not changed a jot. The Bishop was still requiring an unmodified oath, Joan was refusing for the twentieth time to take any except the one which she had herself proposed. There was a physical change apparent, but it was confined to the court and judge; they were hoarse, droopy, exhausted by their long frenzy, and had a sort of haggard look in their faces, poor men, whereas Joan was still placid and reposeful and did not seem noticeably tired.
The noise quieted down; there was a waiting pause of some moments' duration. Then the judge surrendered to the prisoner, and with bitterness in his voice told her to take the oath after her own fashion. Joan sunk at once to her knees; and as she laid her hands upon the Gospels, that big English soldier set free his mind:
"By God, if she were but English, she were not in this place another half a second!"
It was the soldier in him responding to the soldier in her. But what a stinging rebuke it was, what an arraignment of French character and French royalty! Would that he could have uttered just that one phrase in the hearing of Orleans! I know that that grateful city, that adoring city, would have risen to the last man and the last woman, and marched upon Rouen. Some speeches—speeches that shame a man and humble him—burn themselves into the memory and remain there. That one is burned into mine.
After Joan had made oath, Cauchon asked her her name, and where she was born, and some questions about her family; also what her age was. She answered these. Then he asked her how much education she had.
"I have learned from my mother the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Belief. All that I know was taught me by my mother."
Questions of this unessential sort dribbled on for a considerable time. Everybody was tired out by now, except Joan. The tribunal prepared to rise. At this point Cauchon forbade Joan to try to escape from prison, upon pain of being held guilty of the crime of heresy—singular logic! She answered simply:
"I am not bound by this proposition. If I could escape I would not reproach myself, for I have given no promise, and I shall not."
Then she complained of the burden of her chains, and asked that they might be removed, for she was strongly guarded in that dungeon and there was no need of them. But the Bishop refused, and reminded her that she had broken out of prison twice before. Joan of Arc was too proud to insist. She only said, as she rose to go with the guard:
"It is true, I have wanted to escape, and I do want to escape." Then she added, in a way that would touch the pity of anybody, I think, "It is the right of every prisoner."
And so she went from the place in the midst of an impressive stillness, which made the sharper and more distressful to me the clank of those pathetic chains.
What presence of mind she had! One could never surprise her out of it. She saw Noel and me there when she first took her seat on the bench, and we flushed to the forehead with excitement and emotion, but her face showed nothing, betrayed nothing. Her eyes sought us fifty times that day, but they passed on and there was never any ray of recognition in them. Another would have started upon seeing us, and then—why, then there could have been trouble for us, of course.
We walked slowly home together, each busy with his own grief and saying not a word.
(1) He kept his word. His account of the Great Trial will be found to be in strict and detailed accordance with the sworn facts of history. —TRANSLATOR.
6 The Maid Baffles Her Persecutors
THAT NIGHT Manchon told me that all through the day's proceedings Cauchon had had some clerks concealed in the embrasure of a window who were to make a special report garbling Joan's answers and twisting them from their right meaning. Ah, that was surely the cruelest man and the most shameless that has lived in this world. But his scheme failed. Those clerks had human hearts in them, and their base work revolted them, and they turned to and boldly made a straight report, whereupon Cauchon cursed them and ordered them out of his presence with a threat of drowning, which was his favorite and most frequent menace. The matter had gotten abroad and was making great and unpleasant talk, and Cauchon would not try to repeat this shabby game right away. It comforted me to hear that.
When we arrived at the citadel next morning, we found that a change had been made. The chapel had been found too small. The court had now removed to a noble chamber situated at the end of the great hall of the castle. The number of judges was increased to sixty-two—one ignorant girl against such odds, and none to help her.
The prisoner was brought in. She was as white as ever, but she was looking no whit worse than she looked when she had first appeared the day before. Isn't it a strange thing? Yesterday she had sat five hours on that backless bench with her chains in her lap, baited, badgered, persecuted by that unholy crew, without even the refreshment of a cup of water—for she was never offered anything, and if I have made you know her by this time you will know without my telling you that she was not a person likely to ask favors of those people. And she had spent the night caged in her wintry dungeon with her chains upon her; yet here she was, as I say, collected, unworn, and ready for the conflict; yes, and the only person there who showed no signs of the wear and worry of yesterday. And her eyes—ah, you should have seen them and broken your hearts. Have you seen that veiled deep glow, that pathetic hurt dignity, that unsubdued and unsubduable spirit that burns and smolders in the eye of a caged eagle and makes you feel mean and shabby under the burden of its mute reproach? Her eyes were like that. How capable they were, and how wonderful! Yes, at all times and in all circumstances they could express as by print every shade of the wide range of her moods. In them were hidden floods of gay sunshine, the softest and peacefulest twilights, and devastating storms and lightnings. Not in this world have there been others that were comparable to them. Such is my opinion, and none that had the privilege to see them would say otherwise than this which I have said concerning them.
The seance began. And how did it begin, should you think? Exactly as it began before—with that same tedious thing which had been settled once, after so much wrangling. The Bishop opened thus:
"You are required now, to take the oath pure and simple, to answer truly all questions asked you."
Joan replied placidly:
"I have made oath yesterday, my lord; let that suffice."
The Bishop insisted and insisted, with rising temper; Joan but shook her head and remained silent. At last she said:
"I made oath yesterday; it is sufficient." Then she sighed and said, "Of a truth, you do burden me too much."
The Bishop still insisted, still commanded, but he could not move her. At last he gave it up and turned her over for the day's inquest to an old hand at tricks and traps and deceptive plausibilities—Beaupere, a doctor of theology. Now notice the form of this sleek strategist's first remark—flung out in an easy, offhand way that would have thrown any unwatchful person off his guard:
"Now, Joan, the matter is very simple; just speak up and frankly and truly answer the questions which I am going to ask you, as you have sworn to do."
It was a failure. Joan was not asleep. She saw the artifice. She said:
"No. You could ask me things which I could not tell you—and would not." Then, reflecting upon how profane and out of character it was for these ministers of God to be prying into matters which had proceeded from His hands under the awful seal of His secrecy, she added, with a warning note in her tone, "If you were well informed concerning me you would wish me out of your hands. I have done nothing but by revelation."
Beaupere changed his attack, and began an approach from another quarter. He would slip upon her, you see, under cover of innocent and unimportant questions.
"Did you learn any trade at home?"
"Yes, to sew and to spin." Then the invincible soldier, victor of Patay, conqueror of the lion Talbot, deliverer of Orleans, restorer of a king's crown, commander-in-chief of a nation's armies, straightened herself proudly up, gave her head a little toss, and said with naive complacency, "And when it comes to that, I am not afraid to be matched against any woman in Rouen!"
The crowd of spectators broke out with applause—which pleased Joan—and there was many a friendly and petting smile to be seen. But Cauchon stormed at the people and warned them to keep still and mind their manners.
Beaupere asked other questions. Then:
"Had you other occupations at home?"
"Yes. I helped my mother in the household work and went to the pastures with the sheep and the cattle."
Her voice trembled a little, but one could hardly notice it. As for me, it brought those old enchanted days flooding back to me, and I could not see what I was writing for a little while.