Beaupere cautiously edged along up with other questions toward the forbidden ground, and finally repeated a question which she had refused to answer a little while back—as to whether she had received the Eucharist in those days at other festivals than that of Easter. Joan merely said:
"Passez outre." Or, as one might say, "Pass on to matters which you are privileged to pry into."
I heard a member of the court say to a neighbor:
"As a rule, witnesses are but dull creatures, and an easy prey—yes, and easily embarrassed, easily frightened—but truly one can neither scare this child nor find her dozing."
Presently the house pricked up its ears and began to listen eagerly, for Beaupere began to touch upon Joan's Voices, a matter of consuming interest and curiosity to everybody. His purpose was to trick her into heedless sayings that could indicate that the Voices had sometimes given her evil advice—hence that they had come from Satan, you see. To have dealing with the devil—well, that would send her to the stake in brief order, and that was the deliberate end and aim of this trial.
"When did you first hear these Voices?"
"I was thirteen when I first heard a Voice coming from God to help me to live well. I was frightened. It came at midday, in my father's garden in the summer."
"Had you been fasting?"
"The day before?"
"From what direction did it come?"
"From the right—from toward the church."
"Did it come with a bright light?"
"Oh, indeed yes. It was brilliant. When I came into France I often heard the Voices very loud."
"What did the Voice sound like?"
"It was a noble Voice, and I thought it was sent to me from God. The third time I heard it I recognized it as being an angel's."
"You could understand it?"
"Quite easily. It was always clear."
"What advice did it give you as to the salvation of your soul?"
"It told me to live rightly, and be regular in attendance upon the services of the Church. And it told me that I must go to France."
"In what species of form did the Voice appear?"
Joan looked suspiciously at he priest a moment, then said, tranquilly:
"As to that, I will not tell you."
"Did the Voice seek you often?"
"Yes. Twice or three times a week, saying, 'Leave your village and go to France.'"
"Did you father know about your departure?"
"No. The Voice said, 'Go to France'; therefore I could not abide at home any longer."
"What else did it say?"
"That I should raise the siege of Orleans."
"Was that all?"
"No, I was to go to Vaucouleurs, and Robert de Baudricourt would give me soldiers to go with me to France; and I answered, saying that I was a poor girl who did not know how to ride, neither how to fight."
Then she told how she was balked and interrupted at Vaucouleurs, but finally got her soldiers, and began her march.
"How were you dressed?"
The court of Poitiers had distinctly decided and decreed that as God had appointed her to do a man's work, it was meet and no scandal to religion that she should dress as a man; but no matter, this court was ready to use any and all weapons against Joan, even broken and discredited ones, and much was going to be made of this one before this trial should end.
"I wore a man's dress, also a sword which Robert de Baudricourt gave me, but no other weapon."
"Who was it that advised you to wear the dress of a man?"
Joan was suspicious again. She would not answer.
The question was repeated.
She refused again.
"Answer. It is a command!"
"Passez outre," was all she said.
So Beaupere gave up the matter for the present.
"What did Baudricourt say to you when you left?"
"He made them that were to go with me promise to take charge of me, and to me he said, 'Go, and let happen what may!'" (Advienne que pourra!) After a good deal of questioning upon other matters she was asked again about her attire. She said it was necessary for her to dress as a man.
"Did your Voice advise it?"
Joan merely answered placidly:
"I believe my Voice gave me good advice."
It was all that could be got out of her, so the questions wandered to other matters, and finally to her first meeting with the King at Chinon. She said she chose out the King, who was unknown to her, by the revelation of her Voices. All that happened at that time was gone over. Finally:
"Do you still hear those Voices?"
"They come to me every day."
"What do you ask of them?"
"I have never asked of them any recompense but the salvation of my soul."
"Did the Voice always urge you to follow the army?"
He is creeping upon her again. She answered:
"It required me to remain behind at St. Denis. I would have obeyed if I had been free, but I was helpless by my wound, and the knights carried me away by force."
"When were you wounded?"
"I was wounded in the moat before Paris, in the assault."
The next question reveals what Beaupere had been leading up to:
"Was it a feast-day?"
You see? The suggestion that a voice coming from God would hardly advise or permit the violation, by war and bloodshed, of a sacred day.
Joan was troubled a moment, then she answered yes, it was a feast-day.
"Now, then, tell the this: did you hold it right to make the attack on such a day?"
This was a shot which might make the first breach in a wall which had suffered no damage thus far. There was immediate silence in the court and intense expectancy noticeable all about. But Joan disappointed the house. She merely made a slight little motion with her hand, as when one brushes away a fly, and said with reposeful indifference:
Smiles danced for a moment in some of the sternest faces there, and several men even laughed outright. The trap had been long and laboriously prepared; it fell, and was empty.
The court rose. It had sat for hours, and was cruelly fatigued. Most of the time had been taken up with apparently idle and purposeless inquiries about the Chinon events, the exiled Duke of Orleans, Joan's first proclamation, and so on, but all this seemingly random stuff had really been sown thick with hidden traps. But Joan had fortunately escaped them all, some by the protecting luck which attends upon ignorance and innocence, some by happy accident, the others by force of her best and surest helper, the clear vision and lightning intuitions of her extraordinary mind.
Now, then, this daily baiting and badgering of this friendless girl, a captive in chains, was to continue a long, long time—dignified sport, a kennel of mastiffs and bloodhounds harassing a kitten!—and I may as well tell you, upon sworn testimony, what it was like from the first day to the last. When poor Joan had been in her grave a quarter of a century, the Pope called together that great court which was to re-examine her history, and whose just verdict cleared her illustrious name from every spot and stain, and laid upon the verdict and conduct of our Rouen tribunal the blight of its everlasting execrations. Manchon and several of the judges who had been members of our court were among the witnesses who appeared before that Tribunal of Rehabilitation. Recalling these miserable proceedings which I have been telling you about, Manchon testified thus:—here you have it, all in fair print in the unofficial history:
When Joan spoke of her apparitions she was interrupted at almost every word. They wearied her with long and multiplied interrogatories upon all sorts of things. Almost every day the interrogatories of the morning lasted three or four hours; then from these morning interrogatories they extracted the particularly difficult and subtle points, and these served as material for the afternoon interrogatories, which lasted two or three hours. Moment by moment they skipped from one subject to another; yet in spite of this she always responded with an astonishing wisdom and memory. She often corrected the judges, saying, "But I have already answered that once before—ask the recorder," referring them to me.
And here is the testimony of one of Joan's judges. Remember, these witnesses are not talking about two or three days, they are talking about a tedious long procession of days:
They asked her profound questions, but she extricated herself quite well. Sometimes the questioners changed suddenly and passed on to another subject to see if she would not contradict herself. They burdened her with long interrogatories of two or three hours, from which the judges themselves went forth fatigued. From the snares with which she was beset the expertest man in the world could not have extricated himself but with difficulty. She gave her responses with great prudence; indeed to such a degree that during three weeks I believed she was inspired.
Ah, had she a mind such as I have described? You see what these priests say under oath—picked men, men chosen for their places in that terrible court on account of their learning, their experience, their keen and practised intellects, and their strong bias against the prisoner. They make that poor country-girl out the match, and more than the match, of the sixty-two trained adepts. Isn't it so? They from the University of Paris, she from the sheepfold and the cow-stable!
Ah, yes, she was great, she was wonderful. It took six thousand years to produce her; her like will not be seen in the earth again in fifty thousand. Such is my opinion.
7 Craft That Was in Vain
THE THIRD meeting of the court was in that same spacious chamber, next day, 24th of February.
How did it begin? In just the same old way. When the preparations were ended, the robed sixty-two massed in their chairs and the guards and order-keepers distributed to their stations, Cauchon spoke from his throne and commanded Joan to lay her hands upon the Gospels and swear to tell the truth concerning everything asked her!
Joan's eyes kindled, and she rose; rose and stood, fine and noble, and faced toward the Bishop and said:
"Take care what you do, my lord, you who are my judge, for you take a terrible responsibility on yourself and you presume too far."
It made a great stir, and Cauchon burst out upon her with an awful threat—the threat of instant condemnation unless she obeyed. That made the very bones of my body turn cold, and I saw cheeks about me blanch—for it meant fire and the stake! But Joan, still standing, answered him back, proud and undismayed:
"Not all the clergy in Paris and Rouen could condemn me, lacking the right!"
This made a great tumult, and part of it was applause from the spectators. Joan resumed her seat.
The Bishop still insisted. Joan said:
"I have already made oath. It is enough."
The Bishop shouted:
"In refusing to swear, you place yourself under suspicion!"
"Let be. I have sworn already. It is enough."
The Bishop continued to insist. Joan answered that "she would tell what she knew—but not all that she knew."
The Bishop plagued her straight along, till at last she said, in a weary tone:
"I came from God; I have nothing more to do here. Return me to God, from whom I came."
It was piteous to hear; it was the same as saying, "You only want my life; take it and let me be at peace."
The Bishop stormed out again:
"Once more I command you to—"
Joan cut in with a nonchalant "Passez outre," and Cauchon retired from the struggle; but he retired with some credit this time, for he offered a compromise, and Joan, always clear-headed, saw protection for herself in it and promptly and willingly accepted it. She was to swear to tell the truth "as touching the matters et down in the proces verbal." They could not sail her outside of definite limits, now; her course was over a charted sea, henceforth. The Bishop had granted more than he had intended, and more than he would honestly try to abide by.
By command, Beaupere resumed his examination of the accused. It being Lent, there might be a chance to catch her neglecting some detail of her religious duties. I could have told him he would fail there. Why, religion was her life!
"Since when have you eaten or drunk?"
If the least thing had passed her lips in the nature of sustenance, neither her youth nor the fact that she was being half starved in her prison could save her from dangerous suspicion of contempt for the commandments of the Church.
"I have done neither since yesterday at noon."
The priest shifted to the Voices again.
"When have you heard your Voice?"
"Yesterday and to-day."
"At what time?"
"Yesterday it was in the morning."
"What were you doing then?"
"I was asleep and it woke me."
"By touching your arm?"
"No, without touching me."
"Did you thank it? Did you kneel?"
He had Satan in his mind, you see; and was hoping, perhaps, that by and by it could be shown that she had rendered homage to the arch enemy of God and man.
"Yes, I thanked it; and knelt in my bed where I was chained, and joined my hands and begged it to implore God's help for me so that I might have light and instruction as touching the answers I should give here."
"Then what did the Voice say?"
"It told me to answer boldly, and God would help me." Then she turned toward Cauchon and said, "You say that you are my judge; now I tell you again, take care what you do, for in truth I am sent of God and you are putting yourself in great danger."
Beaupere asked her if the Voice's counsels were not fickle and variable.
"No. It never contradicts itself. This very day it has told me again to answer boldly."
"Has it forbidden you to answer only part of what is asked you?"
"I will tell you nothing as to that. I have revelations touching the King my master, and those I will not tell you." Then she was stirred by a great emotion, and the tears sprang to her eyes and she spoke out as with strong conviction, saying:
"I believe wholly—as wholly as I believe the Christian faith and that God has redeemed us from the fires of hell, that God speaks to me by that Voice!"
Being questioned further concerning the Voice, she said she was not at liberty to tell all she knew.
"Do you think God would be displeased at your telling the whole truth?"
"The Voice has commanded me to tell the King certain things, and not you—and some very lately—even last night; things which I would he knew. He would be more easy at his dinner."
"Why doesn't the Voice speak to the King itself, as it did when you were with him? Would it not if you asked it?"
"I do not know if it be the wish of God." She was pensive a moment or two, busy with her thoughts and far away, no doubt; then she added a remark in which Beaupere, always watchful, always alert, detected a possible opening—a chance to set a trap. Do you think he jumped at it instantly, betraying the joy he had in his mind, as a young hand at craft and artifice would do?
No, oh, no, you could not tell that he had noticed the remark at all. He slid indifferently away from it at once, and began to ask idle questions about other things, so as to slip around and spring on it from behind, so to speak: tedious and empty questions as to whether the Voice had told her she would escape from this prison; and if it had furnished answers to be used by her in to-day's seance; if it was accompanied with a glory of light; if it had eyes, etc. That risky remark of Joan's was this:
"Without the Grace of God I could do nothing."
The court saw the priest's game, and watched his play with a cruel eagerness. Poor Joan was grown dreamy and absent; possibly she was tired. Her life was in imminent danger, and she did not suspect it. The time was ripe now, and Beaupere quietly and stealthily sprang his trap:
"Are you in a state of Grace?"
Ah, we had two or three honorable brave men in that pack of judges; and Jean Lefevre was one of them. He sprang to his feet and cried out:
"It is a terrible question! The accused is not obliged to answer it!"
Cauchon's face flushed black with anger to see this plank flung to the perishing child, and he shouted:
"Silence! and take your seat. The accused will answer the question!"
There was no hope, no way out of the dilemma; for whether she said yes or whether she said no, it would be all the same—a disastrous answer, for the Scriptures had said one cannot know this thing. Think what hard hearts they were to set this fatal snare for that ignorant young girl and be proud of such work and happy in it. It was a miserable moment for me while we waited; it seemed a year. All the house showed excitement; and mainly it was glad excitement. Joan looked out upon these hungering faces with innocent, untroubled eyes, and then humbly and gently she brought out that immortal answer which brushed the formidable snare away as it had been but a cobweb:
"If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it; if I be in it, I pray God keep me so."
Ah, you will never see an effect like that; no, not while you live. For a space there was the silence of the grave. Men looked wondering into each other's faces, and some were awed and crossed themselves; and I heard Lefevre mutter:
"It was beyond the wisdom of man to devise that answer. Whence comes this child's amazing inspirations?"
Beaupere presently took up his work again, but the humiliation of his defeat weighed upon him, and he made but a rambling and dreary business of it, he not being able to put any heart in it.
He asked Joan a thousand questions about her childhood and about the oak wood, and the fairies, and the children's games and romps under our dear Arbre Fee Bourlemont, and this stirring up of old memories broke her voice and made her cry a little, but she bore up as well as she could, and answered everything.
Then the priest finished by touching again upon the matter of her apparel—a matter which was never to be lost sight of in this still-hunt for this innocent creature's life, but kept always hanging over her, a menace charged with mournful possibilities:
"Would you like a woman's dress?"
"Indeed yes, if I may go out from this prison—but here, no."
8 Joan Tells of Her Visions
THE COURT met next on Monday the 27th. Would you believe it? The Bishop ignored the contract limiting the examination to matters set down in the proces verbal and again commanded Joan to take the oath without reservations. She said:
"You should be content I have sworn enough."
She stood her ground, and Cauchon had to yield.
The examination was resumed, concerning Joan's Voices.
"You have said that you recognized them as being the voices of angels the third time that you heard them. What angels were they?"
"St. Catherine and St. Marguerite."
"How did you know that it was those two saints? How could you tell the one from the other?"
"I know it was they; and I know how to distinguish them."
"By what sign?"
"By their manner of saluting me. I have been these seven years under their direction, and I knew who they were because they told me."
"Whose was the first Voice that came to you when you were thirteen years old?"
"It was the Voice of St. Michael. I saw him before my eyes; and he was not alone, but attended by a cloud of angels."
"Did you see the archangel and the attendant angels in the body, or in the spirit?"
"I saw them with the eyes of my body, just as I see you; and when they went away I cried because they did not take me with them."
It made me see that awful shadow again that fell dazzling white upon her that day under l'Arbre Fee de Bourlemont, and it made me shiver again, though it was so long ago. It was really not very long gone by, but it seemed so, because so much had happened since.
"In what shape and form did St. Michael appear?"
"As to that, I have not received permission to speak."
"What did the archangel say to you that first time?"
"I cannot answer you to-day."
Meaning, I think, that she would have to get permission of her Voices first.
Presently, after some more questions as to the revelations which had been conveyed through her to the King, she complained of the unnecessity of all this, and said:
"I will say again, as I have said before many times in these sittings, that I answered all questions of this sort before the court at Poitiers, and I would that you would bring here the record of that court and read from that. Prithee, send for that book."
There was no answer. It was a subject that had to be got around and put aside. That book had wisely been gotten out of the way, for it contained things which would be very awkward here.
Among them was a decision that Joan's mission was from God, whereas it was the intention of this inferior court to show that it was from the devil; also a decision permitting Joan to wear male attire, whereas it was the purpose of this court to make the male attire do hurtful work against her.
"How was it that you were moved to come into France—by your own desire?"
"Yes, and by command of God. But that it was His will, I would not have come. I would sooner have had my body torn in sunder by horses than come, lacking that."
Beaupere shifted once more to the matter of the male attire, now, and proceeded to make a solemn talk about it. That tried Joan's patience; and presently she interrupted and said:
"It is a trifling thing and of no consequence. And I did not put it on by counsel of any man, but by command of God."
"Robert de Baudricourt did not order you to wear it?"
"Did you think you did well in taking the dress of a man?"
"I did well to do whatsoever thing God commanded me to do."
"But in this particular case do you think you did well in taking the dress of a man?"
"I have done nothing but by command of God."
Beaupere made various attempts to lead her into contradictions of herself; also to put her words and acts in disaccord with the Scriptures. But it was lost time. He did not succeed. He returned to her visions, the light which shone about them, her relations with the King, and so on.
"Was there an angel above the King's head the first time you saw him?"
"By the Blessed Mary!—"
She forced her impatience down, and finished her sentence with tranquillity: "If there was one I did not see it."
"Was there light?"
"There were more than three thousand soldiers there, and five hundred torches, without taking account of spiritual light."
"What made the King believe in the revelations which you brought him?"
"He had signs; also the counsel of the clergy."
"What revelations were made to the King?"
"You will not get that out of me this year."
Presently she added: "During three weeks I was questioned by the clergy at Chinon and Poitiers. The King had a sign before he would believe; and the clergy were of opinion that my acts were good and not evil."
The subject was dropped now for a while, and Beaupere took up the matter of the miraculous sword of Fierbois to see if he could not find a chance there to fix the crime of sorcery upon Joan.
"How did you know that there was an ancient sword buried in the ground under the rear of the altar of the church of St. Catherine of Fierbois?"
Joan had no concealments to make as to this:
"I knew the sword was there because my Voices told me so; and I sent to ask that it be given to me to carry in the wars. It seemed to me that it was not very deep in the ground. The clergy of the church caused it to be sought for and dug up; and they polished it, and the rust fell easily off from it."
"Were you wearing it when you were taken in battle at Compiegne?"
"No. But I wore it constantly until I left St. Denis after the attack upon Paris."
This sword, so mysteriously discovered and so long and so constantly victorious, was suspected of being under the protection of enchantment.
"Was that sword blest? What blessing had been invoked upon it?"
"None. I loved it because it was found in the church of St. Catherine, for I loved that church very dearly."
She loved it because it had been built in honor of one of her angels.
"Didn't you lay it upon the altar, to the end that it might be lucky?" (The altar of St. Denis.) "No."
"Didn't you pray that it might be made lucky?"
"Truly it were no harm to wish that my harness might be fortunate."
"Then it was not that sword which you wore in the field of Compiegne? What sword did you wear there?"
"The sword of the Burgundian Franquet d'Arras, whom I took prisoner in the engagement at Lagny. I kept it because it was a good war-sword—good to lay on stout thumps and blows with."
She said that quite simply; and the contrast between her delicate little self and the grim soldier words which she dropped with such easy familiarity from her lips made many spectators smile.
"What is become of the other sword? Where is it now?"
"Is that in the proces verbal?"
Beaupere did not answer.
"Which do you love best, your banner or your sword?"
Her eye lighted gladly at the mention of her banner, and she cried out:
"I love my banner best—oh, forty times more than the sword! Sometimes I carried it myself when I charged the enemy, to avoid killing any one." Then she added, naively, and with again that curious contrast between her girlish little personality and her subject, "I have never killed anyone."
It made a great many smile; and no wonder, when you consider what a gentle and innocent little thing she looked. One could hardly believe she had ever even seen men slaughtered, she look so little fitted for such things.
"In the final assault at Orleans did you tell your soldiers that the arrows shot by the enemy and the stones discharged from their catapults would not strike any one but you?"
"No. And the proof is, that more than a hundred of my men were struck. I told them to have no doubts and no fears; that they would raise the siege. I was wounded in the neck by an arrow in the assault upon the bastille that commanded the bridge, but St. Catherine comforted me and I was cured in fifteen days without having to quit the saddle and leave my work."
"Did you know that you were going to be wounded?"
"Yes; and I had told it to the King beforehand. I had it from my Voices."
"When you took Jargeau, why did you not put its commandant to ransom?"
"I offered him leave to go out unhurt from the place, with all his garrison; and if he would not I would take it by storm."
"And you did, I believe."
"Had your Voices counseled you to take it by storm?"
"As to that, I do not remember."
Thus closed a weary long sitting, without result. Every device that could be contrived to trap Joan into wrong thinking, wrong doing, or disloyalty to the Church, or sinfulness as a little child at home or later, had been tried, and none of them had succeeded. She had come unscathed through the ordeal.
Was the court discouraged? No. Naturally it was very much surprised, very much astonished, to find its work baffling and difficult instead of simple and easy, but it had powerful allies in the shape of hunger, cold, fatigue, persecution, deception, and treachery; and opposed to this array nothing but a defenseless and ignorant girl who must some time or other surrender to bodily and mental exhaustion or get caught in one of the thousand traps set for her.
And had the court made no progress during these seemingly resultless sittings? Yes. It had been feeling its way, groping here, groping there, and had found one or two vague trails which might freshen by and by and lead to something. The male attire, for instance, and the visions and Voices. Of course no one doubted that she had seen supernatural beings and been spoken to and advised by them. And of course no one doubted that by supernatural help miracles had been done by Joan, such as choosing out the King in a crowd when she had never seen him before, and her discovery of the sword buried under the altar. It would have been foolish to doubt these things, for we all know that the air is full of devils and angels that are visible to traffickers in magic on the one hand and to the stainlessly holy on the other; but what many and perhaps most did doubt was, that Joan's visions, Voices, and miracles came from God. It was hoped that in time they could be proven to have been of satanic origin. Therefore, as you see, the court's persistent fashion of coming back to that subject every little while and spooking around it and prying into it was not to pass the time—it had a strictly business end in view.
9 Her Sure Deliverance Foretold
THE NEXT sitting opened on Thursday the first of March. Fifty-eight judges present—the others resting.
As usual, Joan was required to take an oath without reservations. She showed no temper this time. She considered herself well buttressed by the proces verbal compromise which Cauchon was so anxious to repudiate and creep out of; so she merely refused, distinctly and decidedly; and added, in a spirit of fairness and candor:
"But as to matters set down in the proces verbal, I will freely tell the whole truth—yes, as freely and fully as if I were before the Pope."
Here was a chance! We had two or three Popes, then; only one of them could be the true Pope, of course. Everybody judiciously shirked the question of which was the true Pope and refrained from naming him, it being clearly dangerous to go into particulars in this matter. Here was an opportunity to trick an unadvised girl into bringing herself into peril, and the unfair judge lost no time in taking advantage of it. He asked, in a plausibly indolent and absent way:
"Which one do you consider to be the true Pope?"
The house took an attitude of deep attention, and so waited to hear the answer and see the prey walk into the trap. But when the answer came it covered the judge with confusion, and you could see many people covertly chuckling. For Joan asked in a voice and manner which almost deceived even me, so innocent it seemed:
"Are there two?"
One of the ablest priests in that body and one of the best swearers there, spoke right out so that half the house heard him, and said:
"By God, it was a master stroke!"
As soon as the judge was better of his embarrassment he came back to the charge, but was prudent and passed by Joan's question:
"Is it true that you received a letter from the Count of Armagnac asking you which of the three Popes he ought to obey?"
"Yes, and answered it."
Copies of both letters were produced and read. Joan said that hers had not been quite strictly copied. She said she had received the Count's letter when she was just mounting her horse; and added:
"So, in dictating a word or two of reply I said I would try to answer him from Paris or somewhere where I could be at rest."
She was asked again which Pope she had considered the right one.
"I was not able to instruct the Count of Armagnac as to which one he ought to obey"; then she added, with a frank fearlessness which sounded fresh and wholesome in that den of trimmers and shufflers, "but as for me, I hold that we are bound to obey our Lord the Pope who is at Rome."
The matter was dropped. They produced and read a copy of Joan's first effort at dictating—her proclamation summoning the English to retire from the siege of Orleans and vacate France—truly a great and fine production for an unpractised girl of seventeen.
"Do you acknowledge as your own the document which has just been read?"
"Yes, except that there are errors in it—words which make me give myself too much importance." I saw what was coming; I was troubled and ashamed. "For instance, I did not say 'Deliver up to the Maid' (rendez au la Pucelle); I said 'Deliver up to the King' (rendez au Roi); and I did not call myself 'Commander-in-Chief' (chef de guerre). All those are words which my secretary substituted; or mayhap he misheard me or forgot what I said."
She did not look at me when she said it: she spared me that embarrassment. I hadn't misheard her at all, and hadn't forgotten. I changed her language purposely, for she was Commander-in-Chief and entitled to call herself so, and it was becoming and proper, too; and who was going to surrender anything to the King?—at that time a stick, a cipher? If any surrendering was done, it would be to the noble Maid of Vaucouleurs, already famed and formidable though she had not yet struck a blow.
Ah, there would have been a fine and disagreeable episode (for me) there, if that pitiless court had discovered that the very scribbler of that piece of dictation, secretary to Joan of Arc, was present—and not only present, but helping build the record; and not only that, but destined at a far distant day to testify against lies and perversions smuggled into it by Cauchon and deliver them over to eternal infamy!
"Do you acknowledge that you dictated this proclamation?"
"Have you repented of it? Do you retract it?"
Ah, then she was indignant!
"No! Not even these chains"—and she shook them—"not even these chains can chill the hopes that I uttered there. And more!"—she rose, and stood a moment with a divine strange light kindling in her face, then her words burst forth as in a flood—"I warn you now that before seven years a disaster will smite the English, oh, many fold greater than the fall of Orleans! and—"
"Silence! Sit down!"
"—and then, soon after, they will lose all France!"
Now consider these things. The French armies no longer existed. The French cause was standing still, our King was standing still, there was no hint that by and by the Constable Richemont would come forward and take up the great work of Joan of Arc and finish it. In face of all this, Joan made that prophecy—made it with perfect confidence—and it came true. For within five years Paris fell—1436—and our King marched into it flying the victor's flag. So the first part of the prophecy was then fulfilled—in fact, almost the entire prophecy; for, with Paris in our hands, the fulfilment of the rest of it was assured.
Twenty years later all France was ours excepting a single town—Calais.
Now that will remind you of an earlier prophecy of Joan's. At the time that she wanted to take Paris and could have done it with ease if our King had but consented, she said that that was the golden time; that, with Paris ours, all France would be ours in six months. But if this golden opportunity to recover France was wasted, said she, "I give you twenty years to do it in."
She was right. After Paris fell, in 1436, the rest of the work had to be done city by city, castle by castle, and it took twenty years to finish it.
Yes, it was the first day of March, 1431, there in the court, that she stood in the view of everybody and uttered that strange and incredible prediction. Now and then, in this world, somebody's prophecy turns up correct, but when you come to look into it there is sure to be considerable room for suspicion that the prophecy was made after the fact. But here the matter is different. There in that court Joan's prophecy was set down in the official record at the hour and moment of its utterance, years before the fulfilment, and there you may read it to this day.
Twenty-five years after Joan's death the record was produced in the great Court of the Rehabilitation and verified under oath by Manchon and me, and surviving judges of our court confirmed the exactness of the record in their testimony.
Joan' startling utterance on that now so celebrated first of March stirred up a great turmoil, and it was some time before it quieted down again. Naturally, everybody was troubled, for a prophecy is a grisly and awful thing, whether one thinks it ascends from hell or comes down from heaven.
All that these people felt sure of was, that the inspiration back of it was genuine and puissant.
They would have given their right hands to know the source of it.
At last the questions began again.
"How do you know that those things are going to happen?"
"I know it by revelation. And I know it as surely as I know that you sit here before me."
This sort of answer was not going to allay the spreading uneasiness. Therefore, after some further dallying the judge got the subject out of the way and took up one which he could enjoy more.
"What languages do your Voices speak?"
"St. Marguerite, too?"
"Verily; why not? She is on our side, not on the English!"
Saints and angels who did not condescend to speak English is a grave affront. They could not be brought into court and punished for contempt, but the tribunal could take silent note of Joan's remark and remember it against her; which they did. It might be useful by and by.
"Do your saints and angels wear jewelry?—crowns, rings, earrings?"
To Joan, questions like these were profane frivolities and not worthy of serious notice; she answered indifferently. But the question brought to her mind another matter, and she turned upon Cauchon and said:
"I had two rings. They have been taken away from me during my captivity. You have one of them. It is the gift of my brother. Give it back to me. If not to me, then I pray that it be given to the Church."
The judges conceived the idea that maybe these rings were for the working of enchantments.
Perhaps they could be made to do Joan a damage.
"Where is the other ring?"
"The Burgundians have it."
"Where did you get it?"
"My father and mother gave it to me."
"It is plain and simple and has 'Jesus and Mary' engraved upon it."
Everybody could see that that was not a valuable equipment to do devil's work with. So that trail was not worth following. Still, to make sure, one of the judges asked Joan if she had ever cured sick people by touching them with the ring. She said no.
"Now as concerning the fairies, that were used to abide near by Domremy whereof there are many reports and traditions. It is said that your godmother surprised these creatures on a summer's night dancing under the tree called l'Arbre Fee de Bourlemont. Is it not possible that your pretended saints and angels are but those fairies?"
"Is that in your proces?"
She made no other answer.
"Have you not conversed with St. Marguerite and St. Catherine under that tree?"
"I do not know."
"Or by the fountain near the tree?"
"What promises did they make you?"
"None but such as they had God's warrant for."
"But what promises did they make?"
"That is not in your proces; yet I will say this much: they told me that the King would become master of his kingdom in spite of his enemies."
"And what else?"
There was a pause; then she said humbly:
"They promised to lead me to Paradise."
If faces do really betray what is passing in men's minds, a fear came upon many in that house, at this time, that maybe, after all, a chosen servant and herald of God was here being hunted to her death. The interest deepened. Movements and whisperings ceased: the stillness became almost painful.
Have you noticed that almost from the beginning the nature of the questions asked Joan showed that in some way or other the questioner very often already knew his fact before he asked his question? Have you noticed that somehow or other the questioners usually knew just how and where to search for Joan's secrets; that they really knew the bulk of her privacies—a fact not suspected by her—and that they had no task before them but to trick her into exposing those secrets?
Do you remember Loyseleur, the hypocrite, the treacherous priest, tool of Cauchon? Do you remember that under the sacred seal of the confessional Joan freely and trustingly revealed to him everything concerning her history save only a few things regarding her supernatural revelations which her Voices had forbidden her to tell to any one—and that the unjust judge, Cauchon, was a hidden listener all the time?
Now you understand how the inquisitors were able to devise that long array of minutely prying questions; questions whose subtlety and ingenuity and penetration are astonishing until we come to remember Loyseleur's performance and recognize their source. Ah, Bishop of Beauvais, you are now lamenting this cruel iniquity these many years in hell! Yes verily, unless one has come to your help. There is but one among the redeemed that would do it; and it is futile to hope that that one has not already done it—Joan of Arc.
We will return to the questionings.
"Did they make you still another promise?"
"Yes, but that is not in your proces. I will not tell it now, but before three months I will tell it you."
The judge seems to know the matter he is asking about, already; one gets this idea from his next question.
"Did your Voices tell you that you would be liberated before three months?"
Joan often showed a little flash of surprise at the good guessing of the judges, and she showed one this time. I was frequently in terror to find my mind (which I could not control) criticizing the Voices and saying, "They counsel her to speak boldly—a thing which she would do without any suggestion from them or anybody else—but when it comes to telling her any useful thing, such as how these conspirators manage to guess their way so skilfully into her affairs, they are always off attending to some other business."
I am reverent by nature; and when such thoughts swept through my head they made me cold with fear, and if there was a storm and thunder at the time, I was so ill that I could but with difficulty abide at my post and do my work.
"That is not in your proces. I do not know when I shall be set free, but some who wish me out of this world will go from it before me."
It made some of them shiver.
"Have your Voices told you that you will be delivered from this prison?"
Without a doubt they had, and the judge knew it before he asked the question.
"Ask me again in three months and I will tell you." She said it with such a happy look, the tired prisoner! And I? And Noel Rainguesson, drooping yonder?—why, the floods of joy went streaming through us from crown to sole! It was all that we could do to hold still and keep from making fatal exposure of our feelings.
She was to be set free in three months. That was what she meant; we saw it. The Voices had told her so, and told her true—true to the very day—May 30th. But we know now that they had mercifully hidden from her how she was to be set free, but left her in ignorance. Home again!
That day was our understanding of it—Noel's and mine; that was our dream; and now we would count the days, the hours, the minutes. They would fly lightly along; they would soon be over.
Yes, we would carry our idol home; and there, far from the pomps and tumults of the world, we would take up our happy life again and live it out as we had begun it, in the free air and the sunshine, with the friendly sheep and the friendly people for comrades, and the grace and charm of the meadows, the woods, and the river always before our eyes and their deep peace in our hearts. Yes, that was our dream, the dream that carried us bravely through that three months to an exact and awful fulfilment, the thought of which would have killed us, I think, if we had foreknown it and been obliged to bear the burden of it upon our hearts the half of those weary days.
Our reading of the prophecy was this: We believed the King's soul was going to be smitten with remorse; and that he would privately plan a rescue with Joan's old lieutenants, D'Alencon and the Bastard and La Hire, and that this rescue would take place at the end of the three months. So we made up our minds to be ready and take a hand in it.
In the present and also in later sittings Joan was urged to name the exact day of her deliverance; but she could not do that. She had not the permission of her Voices. Moreover, the Voices themselves did not name the precise day. Ever since the fulfilment of the prophecy, I have believed that Joan had the idea that her deliverance was going to come in the form of death. But not that death! Divine as she was, dauntless as she was in battle, she was human also. She was not solely a saint, an angel, she was a clay-made girl also—as human a girl as any in the world, and full of a human girl's sensitiveness and tenderness and delicacies. And so, that death! No, she could not have lived the three months with that one before her, I think. You remember that the first time she was wounded she was frightened, and cried, just as any other girl of seventeen would have done, although she had known for eighteen days that she was going to be wounded on that very day. No, she was not afraid of any ordinary death, and an ordinary death was what she believed the prophecy of deliverance meant, I think, for her face showed happiness, not horror, when she uttered it.
Now I will explain why I think as I do. Five weeks before she was captured in the battle of Compiegne, her Voices told her what was coming. They did not tell her the day or the place, but said she would be taken prisoner and that it would be before the feast of St. John. She begged that death, certain and swift, should be her fate, and the captivity brief; for she was a free spirit, and dreaded the confinement. The Voices made no promise, but only told her to bear whatever came. Now as they did not refuse the swift death, a hopeful young thing like Joan would naturally cherish that fact and make the most of it, allowing it to grow and establish itself in her mind. And so now that she was told she was to be "delivered" in three months, I think she believed it meant that she would die in her bed in the prison, and that that was why she looked happy and content—the gates of Paradise standing open for her, the time so short, you see, her troubles so soon to be over, her reward so close at hand. Yes, that would make her look happy, that would make her patient and bold, and able to fight her fight out like a soldier. Save herself if she could, of course, and try for the best, for that was the way she was made; but die with her face to the front if die she must.
Then later, when she charged Cauchon with trying to kill her with a poisoned fish, her notion that she was to be "delivered" by death in the prison—if she had it, and I believe she had—would naturally be greatly strengthened, you see.
But I am wandering from the trial. Joan was asked to definitely name the time that she would be delivered from prison.
"I have always said that I was not permitted to tell you everything. I am to be set free, and I desire to ask leave of my Voices to tell you the day. That is why I wish for delay."
"Do your Voices forbid you to tell the truth?"
"Is it that you wish to know matters concerning the King of France? I tell you again that he will regain his kingdom, and that I know it as well as I know that you sit here before me in this tribunal." She sighed and, after a little pause, added: "I should be dead but for this revelation, which comforts me always."
Some trivial questions were asked her about St. Michael's dress and appearance. She answered them with dignity, but one saw that they gave her pain. After a little she said:
"I have great joy in seeing him, for when I see him I have the feeling that I am not in mortal sin."
She added, "Sometimes St. Marguerite and St. Catherine have allowed me to confess myself to them."
Here was a possible chance to set a successful snare for her innocence.
"When you confessed were you in mortal sin, do you think?"
But her reply did her no hurt. So the inquiry was shifted once more to the revelations made to the King—secrets which the court had tried again and again to force out of Joan, but without success.
"Now as to the sign given to the King—"
"I have already told you that I will tell you nothing about it."
"Do you know what the sign was?"
"As to that, you will not find out from me."
All this refers to Joan's secret interview with the King—held apart, though two or three others were present. It was known—through Loyseleur, of course—that this sign was a crown and was a pledge of the verity of Joan's mission. But that is all a mystery until this day—the nature of the crown, I mean—and will remain a mystery to the end of time. We can never know whether a real crown descended upon the King's head, or only a symbol, the mystic fabric of a vision.
"Did you see a crown upon the King's head when he received the revelation?"
"I cannot tell you as to that, without perjury."
"Did the King have that crown at Rheims?"
"I think the King put upon his head a crown which he found there; but a much richer one was brought him afterward."
"Have you seen that one?"
"I cannot tell you, without perjury. But whether I have seen it or not, I have heard say that it was rich and magnificent."
They went on and pestered her to weariness about that mysterious crown, but they got nothing more out of her. The sitting closed. A long, hard day for all of us.
10 The Inquisitors at Their Wits' End
THE COURT rested a day, then took up work again on Saturday, the third of March.
This was one of our stormiest sessions. The whole court was out of patience; and with good reason. These threescore distinguished churchmen, illustrious tacticians, veteran legal gladiators, had left important posts where their supervision was needed, to journey hither from various regions and accomplish a most simple and easy matter—condemn and send to death a country-lass of nineteen who could neither read nor write, knew nothing of the wiles and perplexities of legal procedure, could not call a single witness in her defense, was allowed no advocate or adviser, and must conduct her case by herself against a hostile judge and a packed jury. In two hours she would be hopelessly entangled, routed, defeated, convicted. Nothing could be more certain that this—so they thought. But it was a mistake. The two hours had strung out into days; what promised to be a skirmish had expanded into a siege; the thing which had looked so easy had proven to be surprisingly difficult; the light victim who was to have been puffed away like a feather remained planted like a rock; and on top of all this, if anybody had a right to laugh it was the country-lass and not the court.
She was not doing that, for that was not her spirit; but others were doing it. The whole town was laughing in its sleeve, and the court knew it, and its dignity was deeply hurt. The members could not hide their annoyance.
And so, as I have said, the session was stormy. It was easy to see that these men had made up their minds to force words from Joan to-day which should shorten up her case and bring it to a prompt conclusion. It shows that after all their experience with her they did not know her yet.
They went into the battle with energy. They did not leave the questioning to a particular member; no, everybody helped. They volleyed questions at Joan from all over the house, and sometimes so many were talking at once that she had to ask them to deliver their fire one at a time and not by platoons. The beginning was as usual:
"You are once more required to take the oath pure and simple."
"I will answer to what is in the proces verbal. When I do more, I will choose the occasion for myself."
That old ground was debated and fought over inch by inch with great bitterness and many threats. But Joan remained steadfast, and the questionings had to shift to other matters. Half an hour was spent over Joan's apparitions—their dress, hair, general appearance, and so on—in the hope of fishing something of a damaging sort out of the replies; but with no result.
Next, the male attire was reverted to, of course. After many well-worn questions had been re-asked, one or two new ones were put forward.
"Did not the King or the Queen sometimes ask you to quit the male dress?"
"That is not in your proces."
"Do you think you would have sinned if you had taken the dress of your sex?"
"I have done best to serve and obey my sovereign Lord and Master."
After a while the matter of Joan's Standard was taken up, in the hope of connecting magic and witchcraft with it.
"Did not your men copy your banner in their pennons?"
"The lancers of my guard did it. It was to distinguish them from the rest of the forces. It was their own idea."
"Were they often renewed?"
"Yes. When the lances were broken they were renewed."
The purpose of the question unveils itself in the next one.
"Did you not say to your men that pennons made like your banner would be lucky?"
The soldier-spirit in Joan was offended at this puerility. She drew herself up, and said with dignity and fire: "What I said to them was, 'Ride those English down!' and I did it myself."
Whenever she flung out a scornful speech like that at these French menials in English livery it lashed them into a rage; and that is what happened this time. There were ten, twenty, sometimes even thirty of them on their feet at a time, storming at the prisoner minute after minute, but Joan was not disturbed.
By and by there was peace, and the inquiry was resumed.
It was now sought to turn against Joan the thousand loving honors which had been done her when she was raising France out of the dirt and shame of a century of slavery and castigation.
"Did you not cause paintings and images of yourself to be made?"
"No. At Arras I saw a painting of myself kneeling in armor before the King and delivering him a letter; but I caused no such things to be made."
"Were not masses and prayers said in your honor?"
"If it was done it was not by my command. But if any prayed for me I think it was no harm."
"Did the French people believe you were sent of God?"
"As to that, I know not; but whether they believed it or not, I was not the less sent of God."
"If they thought you were sent of God, do you think it was well thought?"
"If they believed it, their trust was not abused."
"What impulse was it, think you, that moved the people to kiss your hands, your feet, and your vestments?"
"They were glad to see me, and so they did those things; and I could not have prevented them if I had had the heart. Those poor people came lovingly to me because I had not done them any hurt, but had done the best I could for them according to my strength."
See what modest little words she uses to describe that touching spectacle, her marches about France walled in on both sides by the adoring multitudes: "They were glad to see me." Glad?
Why they were transported with joy to see her. When they could not kiss her hands or her feet, they knelt in the mire and kissed the hoof-prints of her horse. They worshiped her; and that is what these priests were trying to prove. It was nothing to them that she was not to blame for what other people did. No, if she was worshiped, it was enough; she was guilty of mortal sin.
Curious logic, one must say.
"Did you not stand sponsor for some children baptized at Rheims?"
"At Troyes I did, and at St. Denis; and I named the boys Charles, in honor of the King, and the girls I named Joan."
"Did not women touch their rings to those which you wore?"
"Yes, many did, but I did not know their reason for it."
"At Rheims was your Standard carried into the church? Did you stand at the altar with it in your hand at the Coronation?"
"In passing through the country did you confess yourself in the Churches and receive the sacrament?"
"In the dress of a man?"
"Yes. But I do not remember that I was in armor."
It was almost a concession! almost a half-surrender of the permission granted her by the Church at Poitiers to dress as a man. The wily court shifted to another matter: to pursue this one at this time might call Joan's attention to her small mistake, and by her native cleverness she might recover her lost ground. The tempestuous session had worn her and drowsed her alertness.
"It is reported that you brought a dead child to life in the church at Lagny. Was that in answer to your prayers?"
"As to that, I have no knowledge. Other young girls were praying for the child, and I joined them and prayed also, doing no more than they."
"While we prayed it came to life, and cried. It had been dead three days, and was as black as my doublet. It was straight way baptized, then it passed from life again and was buried in holy ground."
"Why did you jump from the tower of Beaurevoir by night and try to escape?"
"I would go to the succor of Compiegne."
It was insinuated that this was an attempt to commit the deep crime of suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the English.
"Did you not say that you would rather die than be delivered into the power of the English?"
Joan answered frankly; without perceiving the trap:
"Yes; my words were, that I would rather that my soul be returned unto God than that I should fall into the hands of the English."
It was now insinuated that when she came to, after jumping from the tower, she was angry and blasphemed the name of God; and that she did it again when she heard of the defection of the Commandant of Soissons. She was hurt and indignant at this, and said:
"It is not true. I have never cursed. It is not my custom to swear."
11 The Court Reorganized for Assassination
A HALT was called. It was time. Cauchon was losing ground in the fight, Joan was gaining it.
There were signs that here and there in the court a judge was being softened toward Joan by her courage, her presence of mind, her fortitude, her constancy, her piety, her simplicity and candor, her manifest purity, the nobility of her character, her fine intelligence, and the good brave fight she was making, all friendless and alone, against unfair odds, and there was grave room for fear that this softening process would spread further and presently bring Cauchon's plans in danger.
Something must be done, and it was done. Cauchon was not distinguished for compassion, but he now gave proof that he had it in his character. He thought it pity to subject so many judges to the prostrating fatigues of this trial when it could be conducted plenty well enough by a handful of them. Oh, gentle judge! But he did not remember to modify the fatigues for the little captive.
He would let all the judges but a handful go, but he would select the handful himself, and he did.
He chose tigers. If a lamb or two got in, it was by oversight, not intention; and he knew what to do with lambs when discovered.
He called a small council now, and during five days they sifted the huge bulk of answers thus far gathered from Joan. They winnowed it of all chaff, all useless matter—that is, all matter favorable to Joan; they saved up all matter which could be twisted to her hurt, and out of this they constructed a basis for a new trial which should have the semblance of a continuation of the old one. Another change. It was plain that the public trial had wrought damage: its proceedings had been discussed all over the town and had moved many to pity the abused prisoner. There should be no more of that. The sittings should be secret hereafter, and no spectators admitted. So Noel could come no more. I sent this news to him. I had not the heart to carry it myself. I would give the pain a chance to modify before I should see him in the evening.
On the 10th of March the secret trial began. A week had passed since I had seen Joan. Her appearance gave me a great shock. She looked tired and weak. She was listless and far away, and her answers showed that she was dazed and not able to keep perfect run of all that was done and said. Another court would not have taken advantage of her state, seeing that her life was at stake here, but would have adjourned and spared her. Did this one? No; it worried her for hours, and with a glad and eager ferocity, making all it could out of this great chance, the first one it had had.
She was tortured into confusing herself concerning the "sign" which had been given the King, and the next day this was continued hour after hour. As a result, she made partial revealments of particulars forbidden by her Voices; and seemed to me to state as facts things which were but allegories and visions mixed with facts.
The third day she was brighter, and looked less worn. She was almost her normal self again, and did her work well. Many attempts were made to beguile her into saying indiscreet things, but she saw the purpose in view and answered with tact and wisdom.
"Do you know if St. Catherine and St. Marguerite hate the English?"
"They love whom Our Lord loves, and hate whom He hates."
"Does God hate the English?"
"Of the love or the hatred of God toward the English I know nothing." Then she spoke up with the old martial ring in her voice and the old audacity in her words, and added, "But I know this—that God will send victory to the French, and that all the English will be flung out of France but the dead ones!"
"Was God on the side of the English when they were prosperous in France?"
"I do not know if God hates the French, but I think that He allowed them to be chastised for their sins."
It was a sufficiently naive way to account for a chastisement which had now strung out for ninety-six years. But nobody found fault with it. There was nobody there who would not punish a sinner ninety-six years if he could, nor anybody there who would ever dream of such a thing as the Lord's being any shade less stringent than men.
"Have you ever embraced St. Marguerite and St. Catherine?"
"Yes, both of them."
The evil face of Cauchon betrayed satisfaction when she said that.
"When you hung garlands upon L'Arbre Fee Bourlemont, did you do it in honor of your apparitions?"
Satisfaction again. No doubt Cauchon would take it for granted that she hung them there out of sinful love for the fairies.
"When the saints appeared to you did you bow, did you make reverence, did you kneel?"
"Yes; I did them the most honor and reverence that I could."
A good point for Cauchon if he could eventually make it appear that these were no saints to whom she had done reverence, but devils in disguise.
Now there was the matter of Joan's keeping her supernatural commerce a secret from her parents. Much might be made of that. In fact, particular emphasis had been given to it in a private remark written in the margin of the proces: "She concealed her visions from her parents and from every one." Possibly this disloyalty to her parents might itself be the sign of the satanic source of her mission.
"Do you think it was right to go away to the wars without getting your parents' leave? It is written one must honor his father and his mother."
"I have obeyed them in all things but that. And for that I have begged their forgiveness in a letter and gotten it."
"Ah, you asked their pardon? So you knew you were guilty of sin in going without their leave!"
Joan was stirred. Her eyes flashed, and she exclaimed:
"I was commanded of God, and it was right to go! If I had had a hundred fathers and mothers and been a king's daughter to boot I would have gone."
"Did you never ask your Voices if you might tell your parents?"
"They were willing that I should tell them, but I would not for anything have given my parents that pain."
To the minds of the questioners this headstrong conduct savored of pride. That sort of pride would move one to see sacrilegious adorations.
"Did not your Voices call you Daughter of God?"
Joan answered with simplicity, and unsuspiciously:
"Yes; before the siege of Orleans and since, they have several times called me Daughter of God."
Further indications of pride and vanity were sought.
"What horse were you riding when you were captured? Who gave it you?"
"You had other things—riches—of the King?"
"For myself I had horses and arms, and money to pay the service in my household."
"Had you not a treasury?"
"Yes. Ten or twelve thousand crowns." Then she said with naivete "It was not a great sum to carry on a war with."
"You have it yet?"
"No. It is the King's money. My brothers hold it for him."
"What were the arms which you left as an offering in the church of St. Denis?"
"My suit of silver mail and a sword."
"Did you put them there in order that they might be adored?"
"No. It was but an act of devotion. And it is the custom of men of war who have been wounded to make such offering there. I had been wounded before Paris."
Nothing appealed to these stony hearts, those dull imaginations—not even this pretty picture, so simply drawn, of the wounded girl-soldier hanging her toy harness there in curious companionship with the grim and dusty iron mail of the historic defenders of France. No, there was nothing in it for them; nothing, unless evil and injury for that innocent creature could be gotten out of it somehow.
"Which aided most—you the Standard, or the Standard you?"
"Whether it was the Standard or whether it was I, is nothing—the victories came from God."
"But did you base your hopes of victory in yourself or in your Standard?"
"In neither. In God, and not otherwise."
"Was not your Standard waved around the King's head at the Coronation?"
"No. It was not."
"Why was it that your Standard had place at the crowning of the King in the Cathedral of Rheims, rather than those of the other captains?"
Then, soft and low, came that touching speech which will live as long as language lives, and pass into all tongues, and move all gentle hearts wheresoever it shall come, down to the latest day:
"It had borne the burden, it had earned the honor." (1) How simple it is, and how beautiful. And how it beggars the studies eloquence of the masters of oratory. Eloquence was a native gift of Joan of Arc; it came from her lips without effort and without preparation. Her words were as sublime as her deeds, as sublime as her character; they had their source in a great heart and were coined in a great brain.
(1) What she said has been many times translated, but never with success. There is a haunting pathos about the original which eludes all efforts to convey it into our tongue. It is as subtle as an odor, and escapes in the transmission. Her words were these:
"Il avait, a la peine, c'etait bien raison qu'il fut a l'honneur."
Monseigneur Ricard, Honorary Vicar-General to the Archbishop of Aix, finely speaks of it (Jeanne d'Arc la Venerable, page 197) as "that sublime reply, enduring in the history of celebrated sayings like the cry of a French and Christian soul wounded unto death in its patriotism and its faith." — TRANSLATOR.
12 Joan's Master-Stroke Diverted
NOW, as a next move, this small secret court of holy assassins did a thing so base that even at this day, in my old age, it is hard to speak of it with patience.
In the beginning of her commerce with her Voices there at Domremy, the child Joan solemnly devoted her life to God, vowing her pure body and her pure soul to His service. You will remember that her parents tried to stop her from going to the wars by haling her to the court at Toul to compel her to make a marriage which she had never promised to make—a marriage with our poor, good, windy, big, hard-fighting, and most dear and lamented comrade, the Standard-Bearer, who fell in honorable battle and sleeps with God these sixty years, peace to his ashes! And you will remember how Joan, sixteen years old, stood up in that venerable court and conducted her case all by herself, and tore the poor Paladin's case to rags and blew it away with a breath; and how the astonished old judge on the bench spoke of her as "this marvelous child."
You remember all that. Then think what I felt, to see these false priests, here in the tribunal wherein Joan had fought a fourth lone fight in three years, deliberately twist that matter entirely around and try to make out that Joan haled the Paladin into court and pretended that he had promised to marry her, and was bent on making him do it.
Certainly there was no baseness that those people were ashamed to stoop to in their hunt for that friendless girl's life. What they wanted to show was this—that she had committed the sin of relapsing from her vow and trying to violate it.
Joan detailed the true history of the case, but lost her temper as she went along, and finished with some words for Cauchon which he remembers yet, whether he is fanning himself in the world he belongs in or has swindled his way into the other.
The rest of this day and part of the next the court labored upon the old theme—the male attire. It was shabby work for those grave men to be engaged in; for they well knew one of Joan's reasons for clinging to the male dress was, that soldiers of the guard were always present in her room whether she was asleep or awake, and that the male dress was a better protection for her modesty than the other.
The court knew that one of Joan's purposes had been the deliverance of the exiled Duke of Orleans, and they were curious to know how she had intended to manage it. Her plan was characteristically businesslike, and her statement of it as characteristically simple and straightforward:
"I would have taken English prisoners enough in France for his ransom; and failing that, I would have invaded England and brought him out by force."
That was just her way. If a thing was to be done, it was love first, and hammer and tongs to follow; but no shilly-shallying between. She added with a little sigh:
"If I had had my freedom three years, I would have delivered him."
"Have you the permission of your Voices to break out of prison whenever you can?"
"I have asked their leave several times, but they have not given it."
I think it is as I have said, she expected the deliverance of death, and within the prison walls, before the three months should expire.
"Would you escape if you saw the doors open?"
She spoke up frankly and said:
"Yes—for I should see in that the permission of Our Lord. God helps who help themselves, the proverb says. But except I thought I had permission, I would not go."
Now, then, at this point, something occurred which convinces me, every time I think of it—and it struck me so at the time—that for a moment, at least, her hopes wandered to the King, and put into her mind the same notion about her deliverance which Noel and I had settled upon—a rescue by her old soldiers. I think the idea of the rescue did occur to her, but only as a passing thought, and that it quickly passed away.
Some remark of the Bishop of Beauvais moved her to remind him once more that he was an unfair judge, and had no right to preside there, and that he was putting himself in great danger.
"What danger?" he asked.
"I do not know. St. Catherine has promised me help, but I do not know the form of it. I do not know whether I am to be delivered from this prison or whether when you sent me to the scaffold there will happen a trouble by which I shall be set free. Without much thought as to this matter, I am of the opinion that it may be one or the other." After a pause she added these words, memorable forever—words whose meaning she may have miscaught, misunderstood; as to that we can never know; words which she may have rightly understood, as to that, also, we can never know; but words whose mystery fell away from them many a year ago and revealed their meaning to all the world:
"But what my Voices have said clearest is, that I shall be delivered by a great victory." She paused, my heart was beating fast, for to me that great victory meant the sudden bursting in of our old soldiers with the war-cry and clash of steel at the last moment and the carrying off of Joan of Arc in triumph. But, oh, that thought had such a short life! For now she raised her head and finished, with those solemn words which men still so often quote and dwell upon—words which filled me with fear, they sounded so like a prediction. "And always they say 'Submit to whatever comes; do not grieve for your martyrdom; from it you will ascend into the Kingdom of Paradise."
Was she thinking of fire and the stake? I think not. I thought of it myself, but I believe she was only thinking of this slow and cruel martyrdom of chains and captivity and insult. Surely, martyrdom was the right name for it.
It was Jean de la Fontaine who was asking the questions. He was willing to make the most he could out of what she had said:
"As the Voices have told you you are going to Paradise, you feel certain that that will happen and that you will not be damned in hell. Is that so?"
"I believe what they told me. I know that I shall be saved."
"It is a weighty answer."
"To me the knowledge that I shall be saved is a great treasure."
"Do you think that after that revelation you could be able to commit mortal sin?"
"As to that, I do not know. My hope for salvation is in holding fast to my oath to keep by body and my soul pure."
"Since you know you are to be saved, do you think it necessary to go to confession?"
The snare was ingeniously devised, but Joan's simple and humble answer left it empty:
"One cannot keep his conscience too clean."
We were now arriving at the last day of this new trial. Joan had come through the ordeal well. It had been a long and wearisome struggle for all concerned. All ways had been tried to convict the accused, and all had failed, thus far. The inquisitors were thoroughly vexed and dissatisfied.
However, they resolved to make one more effort, put in one more day's work. This was done—March 17th. Early in the sitting a notable trap was set for Joan:
"Will you submit to the determination of the Church all your words and deeds, whether good or bad?"
That was well planned. Joan was in imminent peril now. If she should heedlessly say yes, it would put her mission itself upon trial, and one would know how to decide its source and character promptly. If she should say no, she would render herself chargeable with the crime of heresy.
But she was equal to the occasion. She drew a distinct line of separation between the Church's authority over her as a subject member, and the matter of her mission. She said she loved the Church and was ready to support the Christian faith with all her strength; but as to the works done under her mission, those must be judged by God alone, who had commanded them to be done.
The judge still insisted that she submit them to the decision of the Church. She said:
"I will submit them to Our Lord who sent me. It would seem to me that He and His Church are one, and that there should be no difficulty about this matter." Then she turned upon the judge and said, "Why do you make a difficulty when there is no room for any?"
Then Jean de la Fontaine corrected her notion that there was but one Church. There were two—the Church Triumphant, which is God, the saints, the angels, and the redeemed, and has its seat in heaven; and the Church Militant, which is our Holy Father the Pope, Vicar of God, the prelates, the clergy and all good Christians and Catholics, the which Church has its seat in the earth, is governed by the Holy Spirit, and cannot err. "Will you not submit those matters to the Church Militant?"
"I am come to the King of France from the Church Triumphant on high by its commandant, and to that Church I will submit all those things which I have done. For the Church Militant I have no other answer now."
The court took note of this straitly worded refusal, and would hope to get profit out of it; but the matter was dropped for the present, and a long chase was then made over the old hunting-ground—the fairies, the visions, the male attire, and all that.
In the afternoon the satanic Bishop himself took the chair and presided over the closing scenes of the trial. Along toward the finish, this question was asked by one of the judges:
"You have said to my lord the Bishop that you would answer him as you would answer before our Holy Father the Pope, and yet there are several questions which you continually refuse to answer. Would you not answer the Pope more fully than you have answered before my lord of Beauvais? Would you not feel obliged to answer the Pope, who is the Vicar of God, more fully?"
Now a thunder-clap fell out of a clear sky:
"Take me to the Pope. I will answer to everything that I ought to."
It made the Bishop's purple face fairly blanch with consternation. If Joan had only known, if she had only know! She had lodged a mine under this black conspiracy able to blow the Bishop's schemes to the four winds of heaven, and she didn't know it. She had made that speech by mere instinct, not suspecting what tremendous forces were hidden in it, and there was none to tell her what she had done. I knew, and Manchon knew; and if she had known how to read writing we could have hoped to get the knowledge to her somehow; but speech was the only way, and none was allowed to approach her near enough for that. So there she sat, once more Joan of Arc the Victorious, but all unconscious of it. She was miserably worn and tired, by the long day's struggle and by illness, or she must have noticed the effect of that speech and divined the reason of it.
She had made many master-strokes, but this was the master-stroke. It was an appeal to Rome. It was her clear right; and if she had persisted in it Cauchon's plot would have tumbled about his ears like a house of cards, and he would have gone from that place the worst-beaten man of the century. He was daring, but he was not daring enough to stand up against that demand if Joan had urged it. But no, she was ignorant, poor thing, and did not know what a blow she had struck for life and liberty.
France was not the Church. Rome had no interest in the destruction of this messenger of God.
Rome would have given her a fair trial, and that was all that her cause needed. From that trial she would have gone forth free, and honored, and blessed.
But it was not so fated. Cauchon at once diverted the questions to other matters and hurried the trial quickly to an end.
As Joan moved feebly away, dragging her chains, I felt stunned and dazed, and kept saying to myself, "Such a little while ago she said the saving word and could have gone free; and now, there she goes to her death; yes, it is to her death, I know it, I feel it. They will double the guards; they will never let any come near her now between this and her condemnation, lest she get a hint and speak that word again. This is the bitterest day that has come to me in all this miserable time."
13 The Third Trial Fails
SO THE SECOND trial in the prison was over. Over, and no definite result. The character of it I have described to you. It was baser in one particular than the previous one; for this time the charges had not been communicated to Joan, therefore she had been obliged to fight in the dark.
There was no opportunity to do any thinking beforehand; there was no foreseeing what traps might be set, and no way to prepare for them. Truly it was a shabby advantage to take of a girl situated as this one was. One day, during the course of it, an able lawyer of Normandy, Maetre Lohier, happened to be in Rouen, and I will give you his opinion of that trial, so that you may see that I have been honest with you, and that my partisanship has not made me deceive you as to its unfair and illegal character. Cauchon showed Lohier the proces and asked his opinion about the trial. Now this was the opinion which he gave to Cauchon. He said that the whole thing was null and void; for these reasons: 1, because the trial was secret, and full freedom of speech and action on the part of those present not possible; 2, because the trial touched the honor of the King of France, yet he was not summoned to defend himself, nor any one appointed to represent him; 3, because the charges against the prisoner were not communicated to her; 4, because the accused, although young and simple, had been forced to defend her cause without help of counsel, notwithstanding she had so much at stake.
Did that please Bishop Cauchon? It did not. He burst out upon Lohier with the most savage cursings, and swore he would have him drowned. Lohier escaped from Rouen and got out of France with all speed, and so saved his life.
Well, as I have said, the second trial was over, without definite result. But Cauchon did not give up. He could trump up another. And still another and another, if necessary. He had the half-promise of an enormous prize—the Archbishopric of Rouen—if he should succeed in burning the body and damning to hell the soul of this young girl who had never done him any harm; and such a prize as that, to a man like the Bishop of Beauvais, was worth the burning and damning of fifty harmless girls, let alone one.
So he set to work again straight off next day; and with high confidence, too, intimating with brutal cheerfulness that he should succeed this time. It took him and the other scavengers nine days to dig matter enough out of Joan's testimony and their own inventions to build up the new mass of charges. And it was a formidable mass indeed, for it numbered sixty-six articles.
This huge document was carried to the castle the next day, March 27th; and there, before a dozen carefully selected judges, the new trial was begun.
Opinions were taken, and the tribunal decided that Joan should hear the articles read this time.
Maybe that was on account of Lohier's remark upon that head; or maybe it was hoped that the reading would kill the prisoner with fatigue—for, as it turned out, this reading occupied several days. It was also decided that Joan should be required to answer squarely to every article, and that if she refused she should be considered convicted. You see, Cauchon was managing to narrow her chances more and more all the time; he was drawing the toils closer and closer.
Joan was brought in, and the Bishop of Beauvais opened with a speech to her which ought to have made even himself blush, so laden it was with hypocrisy and lies. He said that this court was composed of holy and pious churchmen whose hearts were full of benevolence and compassion toward her, and that they had no wish to hurt her body, but only a desire to instruct her and lead her into the way of truth and salvation.
Why, this man was born a devil; now think of his describing himself and those hardened slaves of his in such language as that.
And yet, worse was to come. For now having in mind another of Lovier's hints, he had the cold effrontery to make to Joan a proposition which, I think, will surprise you when you hear it. He said that this court, recognizing her untaught estate and her inability to deal with the complex and difficult matters which were about to be considered, had determined, out of their pity and their mercifulness, to allow her to choose one or more persons out of their own number to help her with counsel and advice!
Think of that—a court made up of Loyseleur and his breed of reptiles. It was granting leave to a lamb to ask help of a wolf. Joan looked up to see if he was serious, and perceiving that he was at least pretending to be, she declined, of course.
The Bishop was not expecting any other reply. He had made a show of fairness and could have it entered on the minutes, therefore he was satisfied.
Then he commanded Joan to answer straitly to every accusation; and threatened to cut her off from the Church if she failed to do that or delayed her answers beyond a given length of time.
Yes, he was narrowing her chances down, step by step.
Thomas de Courcelles began the reading of that interminable document, article by article. Joan answered to each article in its turn; sometimes merely denying its truth, sometimes by saying her answer would be found in the records of the previous trials.
What a strange document that was, and what an exhibition and exposure of the heart of man, the one creature authorized to boast that he is made in the image of God. To know Joan of Arc was to know one who was wholly noble, pure, truthful, brave, compassionate, generous, pious, unselfish, modest, blameless as the very flowers in the fields—a nature fine and beautiful, a character supremely great. To know her from that document would be to know her as the exact reverse of all that. Nothing that she was appears in it, everything that she was not appears there in detail.
Consider some of the things it charges against her, and remember who it is it is speaking of. It calls her a sorceress, a false prophet, an invoker and companion of evil spirits, a dealer in magic, a person ignorant of the Catholic faith, a schismatic; she is sacrilegious, an idolater, an apostate, a blasphemer of God and His saints, scandalous, seditious, a disturber of the peace; she incites men to war, and to the spilling of human blood; she discards the decencies and proprieties of her sex, irreverently assuming the dress of a man and the vocation of a soldier; she beguiles both princes and people; she usurps divine honors, and has caused herself to be adored and venerated, offering her hands and her vestments to be kissed.
There it is—every fact of her life distorted, perverted, reversed. As a child she had loved the fairies, she had spoken a pitying word for them when they were banished from their home, she had played under their tree and around their fountain—hence she was a comrade of evil spirits.
She had lifted France out of the mud and moved her to strike for freedom, and led her to victory after victory—hence she was a disturber of the peace—as indeed she was, and a provoker of war—as indeed she was again! and France will be proud of it and grateful for it for many a century to come. And she had been adored—as if she could help that, poor thing, or was in any way to blame for it. The cowed veteran and the wavering recruit had drunk the spirit of war from her eyes and touched her sword with theirs and moved forward invincible—hence she was a sorceress.
And so the document went on, detail by detail, turning these waters of life to poison, this gold to dross, these proofs of a noble and beautiful life to evidences of a foul and odious one.
Of course, the sixty-six articles were just a rehash of the things which had come up in the course of the previous trials, so I will touch upon this new trial but lightly. In fact, Joan went but little into detail herself, usually merely saying, "That is not true—passez outre"; or, "I have answered that before—let the clerk read it in his record," or saying some other brief thing.
She refused to have her mission examined and tried by the earthly Church. The refusal was taken note of.
She denied the accusation of idolatry and that she had sought men's homage. She said:
"If any kissed my hands and my vestments it was not by my desire, and I did what I could to prevent it."
She had the pluck to say to that deadly tribunal that she did not know the fairies to be evil beings. She knew it was a perilous thing to say, but it was not in her nature to speak anything but the truth when she spoke at all. Danger had no weight with her in such things. Note was taken of her remark.
She refused, as always before, when asked if she would put off the male attire if she were given permission to commune. And she added this:
"When one receives the sacrament, the manner of his dress is a small thing and of no value in the eyes of Our Lord."
She was charge with being so stubborn in clinging to her male dress that she would not lay it off even to get the blessed privilege of hearing mass. She spoke out with spirit and said:
"I would rather die than be untrue to my oath to God."
She was reproached with doing man's work in the wars and thus deserting the industries proper to her sex. She answered, with some little touch of soldierly disdain:
"As to the matter of women's work, there's plenty to do it."
It was always a comfort to me to see the soldier spirit crop up in her. While that remained in her she would be Joan of Arc, and able to look trouble and fate in the face.
"It appears that this mission of yours which you claim you had from God, was to make war and pour out human blood."
Joan replied quite simply, contenting herself with explaining that war was not her first move, but her second:
"To begin with, I demanded that peace should be made. If it was refused, then I would fight."
The judge mixed the Burgundians and English together in speaking of the enemy which Joan had come to make war upon. But she showed that she made a distinction between them by act and word, the Burgundians being Frenchmen and therefore entitled to less brusque treatment than the English. She said:
"As to the Duke of Burgundy, I required of him, both by letters and by his ambassadors, that he make peace with the King. As to the English, the only peace for them was that they leave the country and go home."
Then she said that even with the English she had shown a pacific disposition, since she had warned them away by proclamation before attacking them.
"If they had listened to me," said she, "they would have done wisely." At this point she uttered her prophecy again, saying with emphasis, "Before seven years they will see it themselves."
Then they presently began to pester her again about her male costume, and tried to persuade her to voluntarily promise to discard it. I was never deep, so I think it no wonder that I was puzzled by their persistency in what seemed a thing of no consequence, and could not make out what their reason could be. But we all know now. We all know now that it was another of their treacherous projects. Yes, if they could but succeed in getting her to formally discard it they could play a game upon her which would quickly destroy her. So they kept at their evil work until at last she broke out and said:
"Peace! Without the permission of God I will not lay it off though you cut off my head!"
At one point she corrected the proces verbal, saying:
"It makes me say that everything which I have done was done by the counsel of Our Lord. I did not say that, I said 'all which I have well done.'"
Doubt was cast upon the authenticity of her mission because of the ignorance and simplicity of the messenger chosen. Joan smiled at that. She could have reminded these people that Our Lord, who is no respecter of persons, had chosen the lowly for his high purposes even oftener than he had chosen bishops and cardinals; but she phrased her rebuke in simpler terms:
"It is the prerogative of Our Lord to choose His instruments where He will."
She was asked what form of prayer she used in invoking counsel from on high. She said the form was brief and simple; then she lifted her pallid face and repeated it, clasping her chained hands:
"Most dear God, in honor of your holy passion I beseech you, if you love me, that you will reveal to me what I am to answer to these churchmen. As concerns my dress, I know by what command I have put it on, but I know not in what manner I am to lay it off. I pray you tell me what to do."
She was charged with having dared, against the precepts of God and His saints, to assume empire over men and make herself Commander-in-Chief. That touched the soldier in her. She had a deep reverence for priests, but the soldier in her had but small reverence for a priest's opinions about war; so, in her answer to this charge she did not condescend to go into any explanations or excuses, but delivered herself with bland indifference and military brevity.
"If I was Commander-in-Chief, it was to thrash the English."
Death was staring her in the face here all the time, but no matter; she dearly loved to make these English-hearted Frenchmen squirm, and whenever they gave her an opening she was prompt to jab her sting into it. She got great refreshment out of these little episodes. Her days were a desert; these were the oases in it.
Her being in the wars with men was charged against her as an indelicacy. She said:
"I had a woman with me when I could—in towns and lodgings. In the field I always slept in my armor."
That she and her family had been ennobled by the King was charged against her as evidence that the source of her deeds were sordid self-seeking. She answered that she had not asked this grace of the King; it was his own act.