Part 2 out of 5
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 estray you fetched home--bears you
name, now, and belongs to P�re Fronte, and is the pet nad 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 P�re 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.
Chapter 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
"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
"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
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
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-hally; 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
"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
crach 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
"There, the King surrenders. Carry it to Paris."
And so the applause burst out again, and the historical co9uncil of
war that has bred so many legends was over.
Chapte 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
cœur, enti�rement, ainsi que doivent faire loyaux chr�tiens,
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 detil 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,
"As it seems to me, you are an army in your single person."
"Yes, that is what he is," said No�l Rainguesson, convincingly. "He
is a terror; and not just in this vicinity. His mere name carries a
shudder with it to distant lands--just he 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--"
"No�l 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
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 na�ve they are!
"De cette tr�ve qui a �t� 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.
Compi�gne 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 our for the morning! But in the morning he
was gone again.
We enterd Compi�gne 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
Chapter 40 Treachery Conquers Joan
COURIER after courier was despatched to the King, and he
promised to come, but didn't. The Duke d'Alen�on 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 le3ad 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, say8ing 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'Alen�on.
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
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'Alen�on 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
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.
Chapter 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 rsally 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 Compiegrave;gne,
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 Compi�gne, 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 thee 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
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 No�l 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
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
BOOK III TRIAL AND MARTYRDOM
Chapter 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
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 truck 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 Compi�gne 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 Vend�me, and
Compi�gne 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 Compi�gne--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.
Chapter 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 Compi�gne, and hobble into my room as pallid and
pathetic an object as you would wish to see.
"What? Alive? No�l 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
No�l was full of noble and affectionate praises and appreaciations
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 No�l, 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 charg, 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
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.  Two or three weeks after this talk came tehe
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 No�l
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 No�l 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 wekk, 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 everythng, 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.
 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 clek 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.
Chapter 3 Weaving the Net About Her
IT WAS necessary for me to have some way to gain bread for No�l
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,
Now it was a vassal of Jean de Luxembourg who captured Joan
and Compi�gne, 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,
"See these! They know more than you, an 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
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
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 proc�s 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 proc�s 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 proc�s 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.
Chapter 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 No�l, 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
"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
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
settersof 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
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
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
Chapter 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 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.  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 ther 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
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
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
Now the memorable inquisition called in history the Great Trial
began. Fifty experts against a novice, and no one to help the
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
"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
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
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
"Prithee, speak one at a time, fair lords, then I will answer all of
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
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 No�l 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.
 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. Qq TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 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 curse 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
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 s�ance 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
"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, conquerer 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 na�ve 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.
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,
"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
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
"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
Joan was troubled a moment, then she answered yes, it was a
"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
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
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
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.
Chapter 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
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
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 sword 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
"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."