Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volume 2
by Mark Twain
Chapter 28 Joan
Chapter 30 The
Red Field of
France Begins to
Chapter 32 The
Chapter 34 The
Jests of the
Chapter 35 The
Heir of France
Chapter 36 Joan
Hears News from
Chapter 37 Again
Chapter 38 The
Chapter 41 The
Maid Will March
BOOK III TRIAL
Chapter 1 The
Maid in Chains
Chapter 2 Joan
Sold to the
Weaving the Net
Chapter 4 All
Ready to Condemn
Chapter 5 Fifty
Chapter 6 The
Maid Baffles Her
Chapter 7 Craft
That Was in Vain
Chapter 8 Joan
Tells of Her
Chapter 9 Her
Chapter 10 The
Their Wits' End
Chapter 11 The
Chapter 13 The
Chapter 14 Joan
Her Twelve Lies
Chapter 16 Joan
Before the Rack
Chapter 19 Our
Last Hopes of
Chapter 20 The
Chapter 22 Joan
Gives the Fatal
Chapter 23 The
Time Is at Hand
Chapter 24 Joan
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF JOAN OF ARC
by THE SIEUR LOUIS DE CONTE
(her page and secretary)
In Two Volumes
Freely translated out of the ancient French into modern English
from the original unpublished manuscript in the National Archives
Chapter 28 Joan Foretells Her Doom
THE TROOPS must have a rest. Two days would be allowed for this.
The morning of the 14th I was writing from Joan's dictation in a
small room which she sometimes used as a private office when she
wanted to get away from officials and their interruptions. Catherine
Boucher came in and sat down and said:
"Joan, dear, I want you to talk to me."
"Indeed, I am not sorry for that, but glad. What is in your mind?"
"This. I scarcely slept last night, for thinking of the dangers you
are running. The Paladin told me how you made the duke stand out of
the way when the cannon-balls were flying all about, and so saved his
"Well, that was right, wasn't it?"
"Right? Yes; but you stayed there yourself. Why will you do like
that? It seems such a wanton risk."
"Oh, no, it was not so. I was not in any danger."
"How can you say that, Joan, with those deadly things flying all
Joan laughed, and tried to turn the subject, but Catherine
persisted. She said:
"It was horribly dangerous, and it could not be necessary to stay
in such a place. And you led an assault again. Joan, it is tempting
Providence. I want you to make me a promise. I want you to promise me
that you will let others lead the assaults, if there must be assaults,
and that you will take better care of yourself in those dreadful
battles. Will you?"
But Joan fought away from the promise and did not give it.
Catherine sat troubled and discontented awhile, then she said:
"Joan, are you going to be a soldier always? These wars are so
long--so long. They last forever and ever and ever."
There was a glad flash in Joan's eye as she cried:
"This campaign will do all the really hard work that is in front of
it in the next four days. The rest of it will be gentler--oh, far less
bloody. Yes, in four days France will gather another trophy like the
redemption of Orleans and make her second long step toward freedom!"
Catherine started (and do did I); then she gazed long at Joan like
one in a trance, murmuring "four days--four days," as if to herself
and unconsciously. Finally she asked, in a low voice that had
something of awe in it:
"Joan, tell me--how is it that you know that? For you do know it, I
"Yes," said Joan, dreamily, "I know--I know. I shall strike--and
strike again. And before the fourth day is finished I shall strike yet
again." She became silent. We sat wondering and still. This was for a
whole minute, she looking at the floor and her lips moving but
uttering nothing. Then came these words, but hardly audible: "And in a
thousand years the English power in France will not rise up from that
It made my flesh creep. It was uncanny. She was in a trance
again--I could see it--just as she was that day in the pastures of
Domremy when she prophesied about us boys in the war and afterward
did not know that she had done it. She was not conscious now; but
Catherine did not know that, and so she said, in a happy voice:
"Oh, I believe it, I believe it, and I am so glad! Then you will
come back and bide with us all your life long, and we will love you
so, and honor you!"
A scarcely perceptible spasm flitted across Joan's face, and the
dreamy voice muttered:
"Before two years are sped I shall die a cruel death!"
I sprang forward with a warning hand up. That is why Catherine did
not scream. She was going to do that--I saw it plainly. Then I
whispered her to slip out of the place, and say nothing of what had
happened. I said Joan was asleep--asleep and dreaming. Catherine
whispered back, and said:
"Oh, I am so grateful that it is only a dream! It sounded like
prophecy." And she was gone.
Like prophecy! I knew it was prophecy; and I sat down crying, as
knowing we should lose her. Soon she started, shivering slightly, and
came to herself, and looked around and saw me crying there, and jumped
out of her chair and ran to me all in a whirl of sympathy and
compassion, and put her hand on my head, and said:
"My poor boy! What is it? Look up and tell me."
I had to tell her a lie; I grieved to do it, but there was no other
way. I picked up an old letter from my table, written by Heaven knows
who, about some matter Heaven knows what, and told her I had just
gotten it from PŠre Fronte, and that in it it said the children's
Fairy Tree had been chopped down by some miscreant or other, and-- I
got no further. She snatched the letter from my hand and searched it
up and down and all over, turning it this way and that, and sobbing
great sobs, and the tears flowing down her cheeks, and ejaculating all
the time, "Oh, cruel, cruel! how could any be so heartless? Ah, poor
Arbre F‚e de Bourlemont gone--and we children loved it so! Show me the
place where it says it!"
And I, still lying, showed her the pretended fatal words on the
pretended fatal page, and she gazed at them through her tears, and
said she could see herself that they were hateful, ugly words--they
"had the very look of it."
Then we heard a strong voice down the corridor announcing:
"His majesty's messenger--with despatches for her Excellency the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of France!"
Chapter 29 Fierce Talbot Reconsiders
I KNEW she had seen the wisdom of the Tree. But when? I could not
know. Doubtless before she had lately told the King to use her, for
that she had but one year left to work in. It had not occurred to me
at the time, but the conviction came upon me now that at that time she
had already seen the Tree. It had brought her a welcome message; that
was plain, otherwise she could not have been so joyous and
light-hearted as she had been these latter days. The death-warning had
nothing dismal about it for her; no, it was remission of exile, it was
leave to come home.
Yes, she had seen the Tree. No one had taken the prophecy to heart
which she made to the King; and for a good reason, no doubt; no one
wanted to take it to heart; all wanted to banish it away and forget
it. And all had succeeded, and would go on to the end placid and
comfortable. All but me alone. I must carry my awful secret without
any to help me. A heavy load, a bitter burden; and would cost me a
daily heartbreak. She was to die; and so soon. I had never dreamed of
that. How could I, and she so strong and fresh and young, and every
day earning a new right to a peaceful and honored old age? For at that
time I though old age valuable. I do not know why, but I thought so.
All young people think it, I believe, they being ignorant and full of
superstitions. She had seen the Tree. All that miserable night those
ancient verses went floating back and forth through my brain:
And when, in exile wand'ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse
of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!
But at dawn the bugles and the drums burst through the dreamy hush
of the morning, and it was turn out all! mount and ride. For there was
red work to be done.
We marched to Meung without halting. There we carried the bridge
by assault, and left a force to hold it, the rest of the army marching
away next morning toward Beaugency, where the lion Talbot, the terror
of the French, was in command. When we arrived at that place, the
English retired into the castle and we sat down in the abandoned town.
Talbot was not at the moment present in person, for he had gone
away to watch for and welcome Fastolfe and his reinforcement of five
Joan placed her batteries and bombarded the castle till night. Then
some news came: Richemont, Constable of France, this long time in
disgrace with the King, largely because of the evil machinations of La
Tremouille and his party, was approaching with a large body of men to
offer his services to Joan--and very much she needed them, now that
Fastolfe was so close by. Richemont had wanted to join us before, when
we first marched on Orleans; but the foolish King, slave of those
paltry advisers of his, warned him to keep his distance and refused
all reconciliation with him.
I go into these details because they are important. Important
because they lead up to the exhibition of a new gift in Joan's
extraordinary mental make-up--statesmanship. It is a sufficiently
strange thing to find that great quality in an ignorant country-girl
of seventeen and a half, but she had it.
Joan was for receiving Richemont cordially, and so was La Hire and
the two young Lavals and other chiefs, but the Lieutenant-General,
d'Alenon, strenuously and stubbornly opposed it. He said he had
absolute orders from the King to deny and defy Richemont, and that if
they were overridden he would leave the army. This would have been a
heavy disaster, indeed. But Joan set herself the task of persuading
him that the salvation of France took precedence of all minor
things--even the commands of a sceptered ass; and she accomplished it.
She persuaded him to disobey the King in the interest of the nation,
and to be reconciled to Count Richemont and welcome him. That was
statesmanship; and of the highest and soundest sort. Whatever thing
men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find
In the early morning, June 17th, the scouts reported the approach
of Talbot and Fastolfe with Fastolfe's succoring force. Then the
drums beat to arms; and we set forth to meet the English, leaving
Richemont and his troops behind to watch the castle of Beaugency and
keep its garrison at home. By and by we came in sight of the enemy.
Fastolfe had tried to convince Talbot that it would be wisest to
retreat and not risk a battle with Joan at this time, but distribute
the new levies among the English strongholds of the Loire, thus
securing them against capture; then be patient and wait--wait for more
levies from Paris; let Joan exhaust her army with fruitless daily
skirmishing; then at the right time fall upon her in resistless mass
and annihilate her. He was a wise old experienced general, was
Fastolfe. But that fierce Talbot would hear of no delay. He was in a
rage over the punishment which the Maid had inflicted upon him at
Orleans and since, and he swore by God and Saint George that he would
have it out with her if he had to fight her all alone. So Fastolfe
yielded, though he said they were now risking the loss of everything
which the English had gained by so many years' work and so many hard
The enemy had taken up a strong position, and were waiting, in
order of battle, with their archers to the front and a stockade before
Night was coming on. A messenger came from the English with a rude
defiance and an offer of battle. But Joan's dignity was not ruffled,
her bearing was not discomposed. She said to the herald:
"Go back and say it is too late to meet to-night; but to-morrow,
please God and our Lady, we will come to close quarters."
The night fell dark and rainy. It was that sort of light steady
rain which falls so softly and brings to one's spirit such serenity
and peace. About ten o'clock D'Alenon, the Bastard of Orleans, La
Hire, Pothon of Saintrailles, and two or three other generals came to
our headquarters tent, and sat down to discuss matters with Joan. Some
thought it was a pity that Joan had declined battle, some thought not.
Then Pothon asked her why she had declined it. She said:
"There was more than one reason. These English are ours--they
cannot get away from us. Wherefore there is no need to take risks, as
at other times. The day was far spent. It is good to have much time
and the fair light of day when one's force is in a weakened
state--nine hundred of us yonder keeping the bridge of Meung under
the Marshal de Rais, fifteen hundred with the Constable of France
keeping the bridge and watching the castle of Beaugency."
"I grieve for this decision, Excellency, but it cannot be helped.
And the case will be the same the morrow, as to that."
Joan was walking up and down just then. She laughed her
affectionate, comrady laugh, and stopping before that old war-tiger
she put her small hand above his head and touched one of his plumes,
"Now tell me, wise man, which feather is it that I touch?"
"In sooth, Excellency, that I cannot."
"Name of God, Bastard, Bastard! you cannot tell me this small
thing, yet are bold to name a large one--telling us what is in the
stomach of the unborn morrow: that we shall not have those men. Now
it is my thought that they will be with us."
That made a stir. All wanted to know why she thought that. But La
Hire took the word and said:
"Let be. If she thinks it, that is enough. It will happen."
Then Pothon of Santrailles said:
"There were other reasons for declining battle, according to the
saying of your Excellency?"
"Yes. One was that we being weak and the day far gone, the battle
might not be decisive. When it is fought it must be decisive. And it
"God grant it, and amen. There were still other reasons?"
"One other--yes." She hesitated a moment, then said: "This was not
the day. To-morrow is the day. It is so written."
They were going to assail her with eager questionings, but she put
up her hand and prevented them. Then she said:
"It will be the most noble and beneficent victory that God has
vouchsafed for France at any time. I pray you question me not as to
whence or how I know this thing, but be content that it is so."
There was pleasure in every face, and conviction and high
confidence. A murmur of conversation broke out, but that was
interrupted by a messenger from the outposts who brought
news--namely, that for an hour there had been stir and movement in
the English camp of a sort unusual at such a time and with a resting
army, he said. Spies had been sent under cover of the rain and
darkness to inquire into it. They had just come back and reported that
large bodies of men had been dimly made out who were slipping
stealthily away in the direction of Meung.
The generals were very much surprised, as any might tell from
"It is a retreat," said Joan.
"It has that look," said D'Alenon.
"It certainly has," observed the Bastard and La Hire.
"It was not to be expected," said Louis de Bourbon, "but one can
divine the purpose of it."
"Yes," responded Joan. "Talbot has reflected. His rash brain has
cooled. He thinks to take the bridge of Meung and escape to the other
side of the river. He knows that this leaves his garrison of Beaugency
at the mercy of fortune, to escape our hands if it can; but there is
no other course if he would avoid this battle, and that he also knows.
But he shall not get the bridge. We will see to that."
"Yes," said D'Alenon, "we must follow him, and take care of that
matter. What of Beaugency?"
"Leave Beaugency to me, gentle duke; I will have it in two hours,
and at no cost of blood."
"It is true, Excellency. You will but need to deliver this news
there and receive the surrender."
"Yes. And I will be with you at Meung with the dawn, fetching the
Constable and his fifteen hundred; and when Talbot knows that
Beaugency has fallen it will have an effect upon him."
"By the mass, yes!" cried La Hire. "He will join his Meung garrison
to his army and break for Paris. Then we shall have our bridge force
with us again, along with our Beaugency watchers, and be stronger for
our great day's work by four-and-twenty hundred able soldiers, as was
here promised within the hour. Verily this Englishman is doing our
errands for us and saving us much blood and trouble. Orders,
Excellency--give us orders!"
"They are simple. Let the men rest three hours longer. At one
o'clock the advance-guard will march, under our command, with Pothon
of Saintrailles as second; the second division will follow at two
under the Lieutenant-General. Keep well in the rear of the enemy, and
see to it that you avoid an engagement. I will ride under guard to
Beaugency and make so quick work there that Ii and the Constable of
France will join you before dawn with his men."
She kept her word. Her guard mounted and we rode off through the
puttering rain, taking with us a captured English officer to confirm
Joan's news. We soon covered the journey and summoned the castle.
Richard Gu‚tin, Talbot's lieutenant, being convinced that he and his
five hundred men were left helpless, conceded that it would be useless
to try to hold out. He could not expect easy terms, yet Joan granted
them nevertheless. His garrison could keep their horses and arms, and
carry away property to the value of a silver mark per man. They could
go whither they pleased, but must not take arms against France again
under ten days.
Before dawn we were with our army again, and with us the Constable
and nearly all his men, for we left only a small garrison in Beaugency
castle. We heard the dull booming of cannon to the front, and knew
that Talbot was beginning his attack on the bridge. But some time
before it was yet light the sound ceased and we heard it no more.
Gu‚tin had sent a messenger through our lines under a safe-conduct
given by Joan, to tell Talbot of the surrender. Of course this
poursuivant had arrived ahead of us. Talbot had held it wisdom to turn
now and retreat upon Paris. When daylight came he had disappeared; and
with him Lord Scales and the garrison of Meung.
What a harvest of English strongholds we had reaped in those three
days!--strongholds which had defied France with quite cool confidence
and plenty of it until we came.
Chapter 30 The Red Field of Patay
WHEN THE morning broke at last on that forever memorable 18th of
June, thee was no enemy discoverable anywhere, as I have said. But
that did not trouble me. I knew we should find him, and that we should
strike him; strike him the promised blow--the one from which the
English power in France would not rise up in a thousand years, as Joan
had said in her trance.
The enemy had plunged into the wide plains of La Beauce--a
roadless waste covered with bushes, with here and there bodies of
forest trees--a region where an army would be hidden from view in a
very little while. We found the trail in the soft wet earth and
followed it. It indicated an orderly march; no confusion, no panic.
But we had to be cautious. In such a piece of country we could
walk into an ambush without any trouble. Therefore Joan sent bodies
of cavalry ahead under La Hire, Pothon, and other captains, to feel
the way. Some of the other officers began to show uneasiness; this
sort of hide-and-go-seek business troubled them and made their
confidence a little shaky. Joan divined their state of mind and cried
"Name of God, what would you? We must smite these English, and we
will. They shall not escape us. Though they were hung to the clouds we
would get them!"
By and by we were nearing Patay; it was about a league away. Now
at this time our reconnaissance, feeling its way in the bush,
frightened a deer, and it went bounding away and was out of sight in
a moment. Then hardly a minute later a dull great shout went up in the
distance toward Patay. It was the English soldiery. They had been shut
up in a garrison so long on moldy food that they could not keep their
delight to themselves when this fine fresh meat came springing into
their midst. Poor creature, it had wrought damage to a nation which
loved it well. For the French knew where the English were now, whereas
the English had no suspicion of where the French were.
La Hire halted where he was, and sent back the tidings. Joan was
radiant with joy. The Duke d'Alenon said to her:
"Very well, we have found them; shall we fight them?"
"Have you good spurs, prince?"
"Why? Will they make us run away?"
"Nenni, en nom de Dieu! These English are ours--they are lost.
They will fly. Who overtakes them will need good spurs.
By the time we had come up with La Hire the English had discovered
our presence. Talbot's force was marching in three bodies. First his
advance-guard; then his artillery; then his battle-corps a good way in
the rear. He was now out of the bush and in a fair open country. He at
once posted his artillery, his advance-guard, and five hundred picked
archers along some hedges where the French would be obliged to pass,
and hoped to hold this position till his battle-corps could come up.
Sir John Fastolfe urged the battle-corps into a gallop. Joan saw her
opportunity and ordered La Hire to advance--which La Hire promptly
did, launching his wild riders like a storm-wind, his customary
The duke and the Bastard wanted to follow, but Joan said:
So they waited--impatiently, and fidgeting in their saddles. But
she was ready--gazing straight before her, measuring, weighing,
calculating--by shades, minutes, fractions of minutes, seconds--with
all her great soul present, in eye, and set of head, and noble pose of
body--but patient, steady, master of herself--master of herself and of
And yonder, receding, receding, plumes lifting and falling, lifting
and falling, streamed the thundering charge of La Hire's godless
crew, La Hire's great figure dominating it and his sword stretched
aloft like a flagstaff.
"Oh, Satan andhis Hellions, see them go!" Somebody muttered it in
And now he was closing up--closing up on Fastolfe's rushing corps.
And now he struck it--struck it hard, and broke its order. It
lifted the duke and the Bastard in their saddles to see it; and they
turned, trembling with excitement, to Joan, saying:
But she put up her hand, still gazing, weighing, calculating, and
Fastolfe's hard-driven battle-corps raged on like an avalanche
toward the waiting advance-guard. Suddenly these conceived the idea
that it was flying in panic before Joan; and so in that instant it
broke and swarmed away in a mad panic itself, with Talbot storming
and cursing after it.
Now was the golden time. Joan drove her spurs home and waved the
advance with her sword. "Follow me!" she cried, and bent her head to
her horse's neck and sped away like the wind!
We went down into the confusion of that flying rout, and for three
long hours we cut and hacked and stabbed. At last the bugles sang
The Battle of Patay was won.
Joan of Arc dismounted, and stood surveying that awful field, lost
in thought. Presently she said:
"The praise is to God. He has smitten with a heavy hand this day."
After a little she lifted her face, and looking afar off, said, with
the manner of one who is thinking aloud, "In a thousand years--a
thousand years--the English power in France will not rise up from
this blow." She stood again a time thinking, then she turned toward
her grouped generals, and there was a glory in her face and a noble
light in her eye; and she said:
"Oh, friends, friends, do you know?--do you comprehend? France is
on the way to be free!"
"And had never been, but for Joan of Arc!" said La Hire, passing
before her and bowing low, the other following and doing likewise; he
muttering as he went, "I will say it though I be damned for it." Then
battalion after battalion of our victorious army swung by, wildly
cheering. And they shouted, "Live forever, Maid of Orleans, live
forever!" while Joan, smiling, stood at the salute with her sword.
This was not the last time I saw the Maid of Orleans on the red
field of Patay. Toward the end of the day I came upon her where the
dead and dying lay stretched all about in heaps and winrows; our men
had mortally wounded an English prisoner who was too poor to pay a
ransom, and from a distance she had seen that cruel thing done; and
had galloped to the place and sent for a priest, and now she was
holding the head of her dying enemy in her lap, and easing him to his
death with comforting soft words, just as his sister might have done;
and the womanly tears running down her face all the time. 
 Lord Ronald Gower (Joan of Arc, p. 82) says: "Michelet
discovered this story in the deposition of Joan of Arc's page, Louis
de Conte, who was probably an eye-witness of the scene." This is
true. It was a part of the testimony of the author of these "Personal
Recollections of Joan of Arc," given by him in the Rehabilitation
proceedings of 1456. -- TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 31 France Begins to Live Again
JOAN HAD said true: France was on the way to be free.
The war called the Hundred Years' War was very sick to-day. Sick
on its English side--for the very first time since its birth,
ninety-one years gone by.
Shall we judge battles by the numbers killed and the ruin wrought?
Or shall we not rather judge them by the results which flowed from
them? Any one will say that a battle is only truly great or small
according to its results. Yes, any one will grant that, for it is the
Judged by results, Patay's place is with the few supremely great
and imposing battles that have been fought since the peoples of the
world first resorted to arms for the settlement of their quarrels. So
judged, it is even possible that Patay has no peer among that few
just mentioned, but stand alone, as the supremest of historic
conflicts. For when it began France lay gasping out the remnant of an
exhausted life, her case wholly hopeless in the view of all political
physicians; when it ended, three hours later, she was convalescent.
Convalescent, and nothing requisite but time and ordinary nursing to
bring her back to perfect health. The dullest physician of them all
could see this, and there was none to deny it.
Many death-sick nations have reached convalescence through a
series of battles, a procession of battles, a weary tale of wasting
conflicts stretching over years, but only one has reached it in a
single day and by a single battle. That nation is France, and that
Remember it and be proud of it; for you are French, and it is the
stateliest fact in the long annals of your country. There it stands,
with its head in the clouds! And when you grow up you will go on
pilgrimage to the field of Patay, and stand uncovered in the presence
of--what? A monument with its head in the clouds? Yes. For all nations
in all times have built monuments on their battle-fields to keep green
the memory of the perishable deed that was wrought there and of the
perishable name of him who wrought it; and will France neglect Patay
and Joan of Arc? Not for long. And will she build a monument scaled to
their rank as compared with the world's other fields and heroes?
Perhaps--if there be room for it under the arch of the sky.
But let us look back a little, and consider certain strange and
impressive facts. The Hundred Years' War began in 1337. It raged on
and on, year after year and year after year; and at last England
stretched France prone with that fearful blow at Crecy. But she rose
and struggled on, year after year, and at last again she went down
under another devastating blow--Poitiers. She gathered her crippled
strength once more, and the war raged on, and on, and still on, year
after year, decade after decade. Children were born, grew up, married,
died--the war raged on; their children in turn grew up, married,
died--the war raged on; their children, growing, saw France struck
down again; this time under the incredible disaster of Agincourt--and
still the war raged on, year after year, and in time these chldren
married in their turn.
France was a wreck, a ruin, a desolation. The half of it belonged
to England, with none to dispute or deny the truth; the other half
belonged to nobody--in three months would be flying the English flag;
the French King was making ready to throw away his crown and flee
beyond the seas.
Now came the ignorant country-maid out of her remote village and
confronted this hoary war, this all-consuming conflagration that had
swept the land for three generations. Then began the briefest and most
amazing campaign that is recorded in history. In seven weeks it was
finished. In seven weeks she hopelessly crippled that gigantic war
that was ninety-one years old. At Orleans she struck it a staggering
blow; on the field of Patay she broke its back.
Think of it. Yes, one can do that; but understand it? Ah, that is
another matter; none will ever be able to comprehend that stupefying
Seven weeks--with her and there a little bloodshed. Perhaps the
most of it, in any single fight, at Patay, where the English began
six thousand strong and left two thousand dead upon the field. It is
said and believed that in three battles alone--Crecy, Poitiers, and
Agincourt--near a hundred thousand Frenchmen fell, without counting
the thousand other fights of that long war. The dead of that war make
a mournful long list--an interminable list. Of men slain in the field
the count goes by tens of thousands; of innocent women and children
slain by bitter hardship and hunger it goes by that appalling term,
It was an ogre, that war; an ogre that went about for near a
hundred years, crunching men and dripping blood from its jaws. And
with her little hand that child of seventeen struck him down; and
yonder he lies stretched on the field of Patay, and will not get up
any more while this old world lasts.
Chapter 32 The Joyous News Flies Fast
THE GREAT news of Patay was carried over the whole of France in
twenty hours, people said. I do not know as to that; but one thing is
sure, anyway: the moment a man got it he flew shouting and glorifying
God and told his neighbor; and that neighbor flew with it to the next
homestead; and so on and so on without resting the word traveled; and
when a man got it in the night, at what hour soever, he jumped out of
his bed and bore the blessed message along. And the joy that went with
it was like the light that flows across the land when an eclipse is
receding from the face of the sun; and, indeed, you may say that
France had lain in an eclipse this long time; yes, buried in a black
gloom which these beneficent tidings were sweeping away now before the
onrush of their white splendor.
The news beat the flying enemy to Yeuville, and the town rose
against its English masters and shut the gates against their
brethren. It flew to Mont Pipeau, to Saint Simon, and to this, that,
and the other English fortress; and straightway the garrison applied
the torch and took to the fields and the woods. A detachment of our
army occupied Meung and pillaged it.
When we reached Orleans that tow was as much as fifty times
insaner with joy than we had ever seen it before--which is saying
much. Night had just fallen, and the illuminations were on so
wonderful a scale that we seemed to plow through seas of fire; and as
to the noise--the hoarse cheering of the multitude, the thundering of
cannon, the clash of bells--indeed, there was never anything like it.
And everywhere rose a new cry that burst upon us like a storm when the
column entered the gates, and nevermore ceased: "Welcome to Joan of
Arc--way for the SAVIOR OF FRANCE!" And there was another cry: "Crecy
is avenged! Poitiers is avenged! Agincourt is avenged!--Patay shall
Mad? Why, you never could imagine it in the world. The prisoners
were in the center of the column. When that came along and the people
caught sight of their masterful old enemy Talbot, that had made them
dance so long to his grim war-music, you may imagine what the uproar
was like if you can, for I can not describe it. They were so glad to
see him that presently they wanted to have him out and hang him; so
Joan had him brought up to the front to ride in her protection. They
made a striking pair.
Chapter 33 Joan's Five Great Deeds
YES, ORLEANS was in a delirium of felicity. She invited the King,
and made sumptuous preparations to receive him, but--he didn't come.
He was simply a serf at that time, and La Tremouille was his master.
Master and serf were visiting together at the master's castle of
At Beaugency Joan had engaged to bring about a reconciliation
between the Constable Richemont and the King. She took Richemont to
Sully-sur-Loire and made her promise good.
The great deeds of Joan of Arc are five:
1. The Raising of the Siege.
2. The Victory of Patay.
3. The Reconciliation at Sully-sur-Loire.
4. The Coronation of the King.
5. The Bloodless March.
We shall come to the Bloodless March presently (and the
Coronation). It was the victorious long march which Joan made through
the enemy's country from Gien to Rheims, and thence to the gates of
Paris, capturing every English town and fortress that barred the road,
from the beginning of the journey to the end of it; and this by the
mere force of her name, and without shedding a drop of blood--perhaps
the most extraordinary campaign in this regard in history--this is the
most glorious of her military exploits.
The Reconciliation was one of Joan's most important achievements.
No one else could have accomplished it; and, in fact, no one else of
high consequence had any disposition to try. In brains, in scientific
warfare, and in statesmanship the Constable Richemont was the ablest
man in France. His loyalty was sincere; his probity was above
suspicion--(and it made him sufficiently conspicuous in that trivial
and conscienceless Court).
In restoring Richemont to France, Joan made thoroughly secure the
successful completion of the great work which she had begun. She had
never seen Richemont until he came to her with his little army. Was it
not wonderful that at a glance she should know him for the one man who
could finish and perfect her work and establish it in perpetuity? How
was it that that child was able to do this? It was because she had the
"seeing eye," as one of our knights had once said. Yes, she had that
great gift--almost the highest and rarest that has been granted to
man. Nothing of an extraordinary sort was still to be done, yet the
remaining work could not safely be left to the King's idiots; for it
would require wise statesmanship and long and patient though desultory
hammering of the enemy. Now and then, for a quarter of a century yet,
there would be a little fighting to do, and a handy man could carry
that on with small disturbance to the rest of the country; and little
by little, and with progressive certainty, the English would disappear
And that happened. Under the influence of Richemont the King
became at a later time a man--a man, a king, a brave and capable and
determined soldier. Within six years after Patay he was leading
storming parties himself; fighting in fortress ditches up to his waist
in water, and climbing scaling-ladders under a furious fire with a
pluck that would have satisfied even Joan of Arc. In time he and
Richemont cleared away all the English; even from regions where the
people had been under their mastership for three hundred years. In
such regions wise and careful work was necessary, for the English rule
had been fair and kindly; and men who have been ruled in that way are
not always anxious for a change.
Which of Joan's five chief deeds shall we call the chiefest? It is
my thought that each in its turn was that. This is saying that, taken
as a whole, they equalized each other, and neither was then greater
than its mate.
Do you perceive? Each was a stage in an ascent. To leave out one
of them would defeat the journey; to achieve one of them at the wrong
time and in the wrong place would have the same effect.
Consider the Coronation. As a masterpiece of diplomacy, where can
you find its superior in our history? Did the King suspect its vast
importance? No. Did his ministers? No. Did the astute Bedford,
representative of the English crown? No. An advantage of incalculable
importance was here under the eyes of the King and of Bedford; the
King could get it by a bold stroke, Bedford could get it without an
effort; but, being ignorant of its value, neither of them put forth
his hand. Of all the wise people in high office in France, only one
knew the priceless worth of this neglected prize--the untaught child
of seventeen, Joan of Arc--and she had known it from the beginning as
an essential detail of her mission.
How did she know it? It was simple: she was a peasant. That tells
the whole story. She was of the people and knew the people; those
others moved in a loftier sphere and knew nothing much about them. We
make little account of that vague, formless, inert mass, that mighty
underlying force which we call "the people"--an epithet which carries
contempt with it. It is a strange attitude; for at bottom we know that
the throne which the people support stands, and that when that support
is removed nothing in this world can save it.
Now, then, consider this fact, and observe its importance.
Whatever the parish priest believes his flock believes; they love
him, they revere him; he is their unfailing friend, their dauntless
protector, their comforter in sorrow, their helper in their day of
need; he has their whole confidence; what he tells them to do, that
they will do, with a blind and affectionate obedience, let it cost
what it may. Add these facts thoughtfully together, and what is the
sum? This: The parish priest governs the nation. What is the King,
then, if the parish priest withdraws his support and deny his
authority? Merely a shadow and no King; let him resign.
Do you get that idea? Then let us proceed. A priest is consecrated
to his office by the awful hand of God, laid upon him by his
appointed representative on earth. That consecration is final;
nothing can undo it, nothing can remove it. Neither the Pope nor any
other power can strip the priest of his office; God gave it, and it is
forever sacred and secure. The dull parish knows all this. To priest
and parish, whatsoever is anointed of God bears an office whose
authority can no longer be disputed or assailed. To the parish priest,
and to his subjects the nation, an uncrowned king is a similitude of a
person who has been named for holy orders but has not been
consecrated; he has no office, he has not been ordained, another may
be appointed to his place. In a word, an uncrowned king is a doubtful
king; but if God appoint him and His servant the Bishop anoint him,
the doubt is annihilated; the priest and the parish are his loyal
subjects straightway, and while he lives they will recognize no king
To Joan of Arc, the peasant-girl, Charles VII. was no King until he
was crowned; to her he was only the Dauphin; that is to say, the
heir. If I have ever made her call him King, it was a mistake; she
called him the Dauphin, and nothing else until after the Coronation.
It shows you as in a mirror--for Joan was a mirror in which the lowly
hosts of France were clearly reflected--that to all that vast
underlying force called "the people," he was no King but only Dauphin
before his crowning, and was indisputably and irrevocably King after
Now you understand what a colossal move on the political
chess-board the Coronation was. Bedford realized this by and by, and
tried to patch up his mistake by crowning his King; but what good
could that do? None in the world.
Speaking of chess, Joan's great acts may be likened to that game.
Each move was made in its proper order, and it as great and effective
because it was made in its proper order and not out of it. Each, at
the time made, seemed the greatest move; but the final result made
them all recognizable as equally essential and equally important. This
is the game, as played:
1. Joan moves to Orleans and Patay--check.
2. Then moves the Reconciliation--but does not proclaim check, it
being a move for position, and to take effect later.
3. Next she moves the Coronation--check.
4. Next, the Bloodless March--check.
5. Final move (after her death), the reconciled Constable
Richemont to the French King's elbow--checkmate.
Chapter 34 The Jests of the Burgundians
THE CAMPAIGN of the Loire had as good as opened the road to
Rheims. There was no sufficient reason now why the Coronation should
not take place. The Coronation would complete the mission which Joan
had received from heaven, and then she would be forever done with war,
and would fly home to her mother and her sheep, and never stir from
the hearthstone and happiness any more. That was her dream; and she
could not rest, she was so impatient to see it fulfilled. She became
so possessed with this matter that I began to lose faith in her two
prophecies of her early death--and, of course, when I found that faith
wavering I encouraged it to waver all the more.
The King was afraid to start to Rheims, because the road was
mile-posted with English fortresses, so to speak. Joan held them in
light esteem and not things to be afraid of in the existing modified
condition of English confidence.
And she was right. As it turned out, the march to Rheims was
nothing but a holiday excursion: Joan did not even take any artillery
along, she was so sure it would not be necessary. We marched from Gien
twelve thousand strong. This was the 29th of June. The Maid rode by
the side of the King; on his other side was the Duke d'Alenon. After
the duke followed three other princes of the blood. After these
followed the Bastard of Orleans, the Marshal de Boussac, and the
Admiral of France. After these came La Hire, Saintrailles, Tremouille,
and a long procession of knights and nobles.
We rested three days before Auxerre. The city provisioned the
army, and a deputation waited upon the King, but we did not enter the
Saint-Florentin opened its gates to the King.
On the 4th of July we reached Saint-Fal, and yonder lay Troyes
before us--a town which had a burning interest for us boys; for we
remembered how seven years before, in the pastures of Domremy, the
Sunflower came with his black flag and brought us the shameful news of
the Treaty of Troyes--that treaty which gave France to England, and a
daughter of our royal line in marriage to the Butcher of Agincourt.
That poor town was not to blame, of course; yet we flushed hot with
that old memory, and hoped there would be a misunderstanding here, for
we dealry wanted to storm the place and burn it. It was powerfully
garrisoned by English and Burgundian soldiery, and was expecting
reinforcements from Paris. Before night we camped before its gates and
made rough work with a sortie which marched out against us.
Joan summoned Troyes to surrender. Its commandant, seeing that she
had no artillery, scoffed at the idea, and sent her a grossly
insulting reply. Five days we consulted and negotiated. No result.
The King was about to turn back now and give up. He was afraid to go
on, leaving this strong place in his rear. Then La Hire put in a word,
with a slap in it for some of his Majesty's advisers:
"The Maid of Orleans undertook this expedition of her own motion;
and it is my mind that it is her judgment that should be followed
here, and not that of any other, let him be of whatsoever breed and
standing he may."
There was wisdom and righteousness in that. So the King sent for
the Maid, and asked her how she thought the prospect looked. She
said, without any tone of doubt or question in her voice:
"In three days' time the place is ours."
The smug Chancellor put in a word now:
"If we were sure of it we would wait her six days."
"Six days, forsooth! Name of God, man, we will enter the gates
Then she mounted, and rode her lines, crying out:
"Make preparation--to your work, friends, to your work! We assault
She worked hard that night, slaving away with her own hands like a
common soldier. She ordered fascines and fagots to be prepared and
thrown into the fosse, thereby to bridge it; and in this rough labor
she took a man's share.
At dawn she took her place at the head of the storming force and
the bugles blew the assault. At that moment a flag of truce was flung
to the breeze from the walls, and Troyes surrendered without firing a
The next day the King with Joan at his side and the Paladin
bearing her banner entered the town in state at the head of the army.
And a goodly army it was now, for it had been growing ever bigger and
bigger from the first.
And now a curious thing happened. By the terms of the treaty made
with the town the garrison of English and Burgundian soldiery were to
be allowed to carry away their "goods" with them. This was well, for
otherwise how would they buy the wherewithal to live? Very well; these
people were all to go out by the one gate, and at the time set for
them to depart we young fellows went to that gate, along with the
Dwarf, to see the march-out. Presently here they came in an
interminable file, the foot-soldiers in the lead. As they approached
one could see that each bore a burden of a bulk and weight to sorely
tax his strength; and we said among ourselves, truly these folk are
well off for poor common soldiers. When they were come nearer, what do
you think? Every rascal of them had a French prisoner on his back!
They were carrying away their "goods," you see--their
property--strictly according to the permission granted by the treaty.
Now think how clever that was, how ingenious. What could a body
say? what could a body do? For certainly these people were within
their right. These prisoners were property; nobody could deny that.
My dears, if those had been English captives, conceive of the
richness of that booty! For English prisoners had been scarce and
precious for a hundred years; whereas it was a different matter with
French prisoners. They had been over-abundant for a century. The
possessor of a French prisoner did not hold him long for ransom, as a
rule, but presently killed him to save the cost of his keep. This
shows you how small was the value of such a possession in those times.
When we took Troyes a calf was worth thirty francs, a sheep sixteen, a
French prisoner eight. It was an enormous price for those other
animals--a price which naturally seems incredible to you. It was the
war, you see. It worked two ways: it made meat dear and prisoners
Well, here were these poor Frenchmen being carried off. What could
we do? Very little of a permanent sort, but we did what we could. We
sent a messenger flying to Joan, and we and the French guards halted
the procession for a parley--to gain time, you see. A big Burgundian
lost his temper and swore a great oath that none should stop him; he
would go, and would take his prisoner with him. But we blocked him
off, and he saw that he was mistaken about going--he couldn't do it.
He exploded into the maddest cursings and revilings, then, and,
unlashing his prisoner from his back, stood him up, all bound and
helpless; then drew his knife, and said to us with a light of
sarcasting triumph in his eye:
"I may not carry him away, you say--yet he is mine, none will
dispute it. Since I may not convey him hence, this property of mine,
there is another way. Yes, I can kill him; not even the dullest among
you will question that right. Ah, you had not thought of
That poor starved fellow begged us with his piteous eyes to save
him; then spoke, and said he had a wife and little children at home.
Think how it wrung our heartstrings. But what could we do? The
Burgundian was within his right. We could only beg and plead for the
prisoner. Which we did. And the Burgundian enjoyed it. He stayed his
hand to hear more of it, and laugh at it. That stung. Then the Dwarf
"Prithee, young sirs, let me beguile him; for when a matter
requiring permission is to the fore, I have indeed a gift in that
sort, as any will tell you that know me well. You smile; and that is
punishment for my vanity; and fairly earned, I grant you. Still, if I
may toy a little, just a little--" saying which he stepped to the
Burgundian and began a fair soft speech, all of goodly and gentle
tenor; and in the midst he mentioned the Maid; and was going on to
say how she out of her good heart would prize and praise this
compassionate deed which he was about to-- It was as far as he got.
The Burgundian burst into his smooth oration with an insult leveled at
Joan of Arc. We sprang forward, but the Dwarf, his face all livid,
brushed us aside and said, in a most grave and earnest way:
"I crave your patience. Am not I her guard of honor? This is my
And saying this he suddenly shot his right hand out and gripped the
great Burgundian by the throat, and so held him upright on his feet.
"You have insulted the Maid," he said; "and the Maid is France. The
tongue that does that earns a long furlough."
One heard the muffled cracking of bones. The Burgundian's eyes
began to protrude from their sockets and stare with a leaden dullness
at vacancy. The color deepened in his face and became an opaque
purple. His hands hung down limp, his body collapsed with a shiver,
every muscle relaxed its tension and ceased from its function. The
Dwarf took away his hand and the column of inert mortality sank
mushily to the ground.
We struck the bonds from the prisoner and told him he was free.
His crawling humbleness changed to frantic joy in a moment, and his
ghastly fear to a childish rage. He flew at that dead corpse and
kicked it, spat in its face, danced upon it, crammed mud into its
mouth, laughing, jeering, cursing, and volleying forth indecencies
and bestialities like a drunken fiend. It was a thing to be expected;
soldiering makes few saints. Many of the onlookers laughed, others
were indifferent, none was surprised. But presently in his mad
caperings the freed man capered within reach of the waiting file, and
another Burgundian promptly slipped a knife through his neck, and down
he went with a death-shriek, his brilliant artery blood spurting ten
feet as straight and bright as a ray of light. There was a great burst
of jolly laughter all around from friend and foe alike; and thus
closed one of the pleasantest incidents of my checkered military life.
And now came Joan hurrying, and deeply troubled. She considered
the claim of the garrison, then said:
"You have right upon your side. It is plain. It was a careless word
to put in the treaty, and covers too much. But ye may not take these
poor men away. They are French, and I will not have it. The King shall
ransom them, every one. Wait till I send you word from him; and hurt
no hair of their heads; for I tell you, I who speak, that that would
cost you very dear."
That settled it. The prisoners were safe for one while, anyway.
Then she rode back eagerly and required that thing of the King, and
would listen to no paltering and no excuses. So the King told her to
have her way, and she rode straight back and bought the captives free
in his name and let them go.
Chapter 35 The Heir of France is Crowned
IT WAS here hat we saw again the Grand Master of the King's
Household, in whose castle Joan was guest when she tarried at Chinon
in those first days of her coming out of her own country. She made him
Bailiff of Troyes now by the King's permission.
And now we marched again; Chƒlons surrendered to us; and there by
Chƒlons in a talk, Joan, being asked if she had no fears for the
future, said yes, one--treachery. Who would believe it? who could
dream it? And yet in a sense it was prophecy. Truly, man is a pitiful
We marched, marched, kept on marching; and at last, on the 16th of
July, we came in sight of our goal, and saw the great cathedraled
towers of Rheims rise out of the distance! Huzza after huzza swept the
army from van to rear; and as for Joan of Arc, there where she sat her
horse gazing, clothed all in white armor, dreamy, beautiful, and in
her face a deep, deep joy, a joy not of earth, oh, she was not flesh,
she was a spirit! Her sublime mission was closing--closing in flawless
triumph. To-morrow she could say, "It is finished--let me go free."
We camped, and the hurry and rush and turmoil of the grand
preparations began. The Archbishop and a great deputation arrived;
and after these came flock after flock, crowd after crowd, of citizens
and country-folk, hurrahing, in, with banners and music, and flowed
over the camp, one rejoicing inundation after another, everybody drunk
with happiness. And all night long Rheims was hard at work, hammering
away, decorating the town, building triumphal arches and clothing the
ancient cathedral within and without in a glory of opulent splendors.
We moved betimes in the morning; the coronation ceremonies would
begin at nine and last five hours. We were aware that the garrison of
English and Burgundian soldiers had given up all thought of resisting
the Maid, and that we should find the gates standing hospitably open
and the whole city ready to welcome us with enthusiasm.
It was a delicious morning, brilliant with sunshine, but cool and
fresh and inspiring. The army was in great form, and fine to see, as
it uncoiled from its lair fold by fold, and stretched away on the
final march of the peaceful Coronation Campaign.
Joan, on her black horse, with the Lieutenant-General and the
personal staff grouped about her, took post for a final review and a
good-by; for she was not expecting to ever be a soldier again, or
ever serve with these or any other soldiers any more after this day.
The army knew this, and believed it was looking for the last time
upon the girlish face of its invincible little Chief, its pet, its
pride, its darling, whom it had ennobled in its private heart with
nobilities of its own creation, call her "Daughter of God," "Savior
of France," "Victory's Sweetheart," "The Page of Christ," together
with still softer titles which were simply na‹f and frank endearments
such as men are used to confer upon children whom they love. And so
one saw a new thing now; a thing bred of the emotion that was present
there on both sides. Always before, in the march-past, the battalions
had gone swinging by in a storm of cheers, heads up and eyes flashing,
the drums rolling, the bands braying p‘ans of victory; but now there
was nothing of that. But for one impressive sound, one could have
closed his eyes and imagined himself in a world of the dead. That one
sound was all that visited the ear in the summer stillness--just that
one sound--the muffled tread of the marching host. As the serried
masses drifted by, the men put their right hands up to their temples,
palms to the front, in military salute, turning their eyes upon Joan's
face in mute God-bless-you and farewell, and keeping them there while
they could. They still kept their hands up in reverent salute many
steps after they had passed by. Every time Joan put her handkerchief
to her eyes you could see a little quiver of emotion crinkle along the
faces of the files.
The march-past after a victory is a thing to drive the heart mad
with jubilation; but this one was a thing to break it.
We rode now to the King's lodgins, which was the Archbishop's
country palace; and he was presently ready, and we galloped off and
took position at the head of the army. By this time the country-people
were arriving in multitudes from every direction and massing
themselves on both sides of the road to get sight of Joan--just as had
been done every day since our first day's march began. Our march now
lay through the grassy plain, and those peasants made a dividing
double border for that plain. They stretched right down through it, a
broad belt of bright colors on each side of the road; for every
peasant girl and woman in it had a white jacket on her body and a
crimson skirt on the rest of her. Endless borders made of poppies and
lilies stretching away in front of us--that is what it looked like.
And that is the kind of lane we had been marching through all these
days. Not a lane between multitudinous flowers standing upright on
their stems--no, these flowers were always kneeling; kneeling, these
human flowers, with their hands and faces lifted toward Joan of Arc,
and the grateful tears streaming down. And all along, those closest to
the road hugged her feet and kissed them and laid their wet cheeks
fondly against them. I never, during all those days, saw any of either
sex stand while she passed, nor any man keep his head covered.
Afterward in the Great Trial these touching scenes were used as a
weapon against her. She had been made an object of adoration by the
people, and this was proof that she was a heretic--so claimed that
As we drew near the city the curving long sweep of ramparts and
towers was gay with fluttering flags and black with masses of people;
and all the air was vibrant with the crash of artillery and gloomed
with drifting clouds of smoke. We entered the gates in state and moved
in procession through the city, with all the guilds and industries in
holiday costume marching in our rear with their banners; and all the
route was hedged with a huzzaing crush of people, and all the windows
were full and all the roofs; and from the balconies hung costly stuffs
of rich colors; and the waving of handkerchiefs, seen in perspective
through a long vista, was like a snowstorm.
Joan's name had been introduced into the prayers of the Church--an
honor theretofore restricted to royalty. But she had a dearer honor
and an honor more to be proud of, from a humbler source: the common
people had had leaden medals struck which bore her effigy and her
escutcheon, and these they wore as charms. One saw them everywhere.
From the Archbishop's Palace, where we halted, and where the King
and Joan were to lodge, the King sent to the Abbey Church of St. Remi,
which was over toward the gate by which we had entered the city, for
the Sainte Ampoule, or flask of holy oil. This oil was not earthly
oil; it was made in heaven; the flask also. The flask, with the oil in
it, was brought down from heaven by a dove. It was sent down to St.
Remi just as he was going to baptize King Clovis, who had become a
Christian. I know this to be true. I had known it long before; for
PŠre Fronte told me in Domremy. I cannot tell you how strange and
awful it made me feel when I saw that flask and knew I was looking
with my own eyes upon a thing which had actually been in heave, a
thing which had been seen by angels, perhaps; and by God Himself of a
certainty, for He sent it. And I was looking upon it--I. At one time I
could have touched it. But I was afraid; for I could not know but that
God had touched it. It is most probable that He had.
From this flask Clovis had been anointed; and from it all the kings
of France had been anointed since. Yes, ever since the time of
Clovis, and that was nine hundred years. And so, as I have said, that
flask of holy oil was sent for, while we waited. A coronation without
that would not have been a coronation at all, in my belief.
Now in order to get the flask, a most ancient ceremonial had to be
gone through with; otherwise the Abbe of St. Remi, hereditary
guardian in perpetuity of the oil, would not deliver it. So, in
accordance with custom, the King deputed five great nobles to ride in
solemn state and richly armed and accoutered, they and their steeds,
to the Abbey Church as a guard of honor to the Archbishop of Rheims
and his canons, who were to bear the King's demand for the oil. When
the five great lords were ready to start, they knelt in a row and put
up their mailed hands before their faces, palm joined to palm, and
swore upon their lives to conduct the sacred vessel safely, and safely
restore it again to the Church of St. Remi after the anointing of the
King. The Archbishop and his subordinates, thus nobly escorted, took
their way to St. Remi. The Archbishop was in grand costume, with his
miter on his head and his cross in his hand. At the door of St. Remi
they halted and formed, to receive the holy vial. Soon one heard the
deep tones of the organ and of chanting men; then one saw a long file
of lights approaching through the dim church. And so came the Abbot,
in his sacerdotal panoply, bearing the vial, with his people following
after. He delivered it, with solemn ceremonies, to the Archbishop;
then the march back began, and it was most impressive; for it moved,
the whole way, between two multitudes of men and women who lay flat
upon their faces and prayed in dumb silence and in dread while that
awful thing went by that had been in heaven.
This august company arrived at the great west door of the
cathedral; and as the Archbishop entered a noble anthem rose and
filled the vast building. The cathedral was packed with
people--people in thousands. Only a wide space down the center had
been kept free. Down this space walked the Archbishop and his canons,
and after them followed those five stately figures in splendid
harness, each bearing his feudal banner--and riding!
Oh, that was a magnificent thing to see. Riding down the cavernous
vastness of the building through the rich lights streaming in long
rays from the pictured windows--oh, there was never anything so grand!
They rode clear to the choir--as much as four hundred feet from
the door, it was said. Then the Archbishop dismissed them, and they
made deep obeisance till their plumes touched their horses' necks,
then made those proud prancing and mincing and dancing creatures go
backward all the way to the door--which was pretty to see, and
graceful; then they stood them on their hind-feet and spun them around
and plunged away and disappeared.
For some minutes there was a deep hush, a waiting pause; a silence
so profound that it was as if all those packed thousands there were
steeped in dreamless slumber--why, you could even notice the faintest
sounds, like the drowsy buzzing of insects; then came a mighty flood
of rich strains from four hundred silver trumpets, and then, framed in
the pointed archway of the great west door, appeared Joan and the
King. They advanced slowly, side by side, through a tempest of
welcome--explosion after explosion of cheers and cries, mingled with
the deep thunders of the organ and rolling tides of triumphant song
from chanting choirs. Behind Joan and the King came the Paladin and
the Banner displayed; and a majestic figure he was, and most proud and
lofty in his bearing, for he knew that the people were marking him and
taking note of the gorgeous state dress which covered his armor.
At his side was the Sire d'Albret, proxy for the Constable of
France, bearing the Sword of State.
After these, in order of rank, came a body royally attired
representing the lay peers of France; it consisted of three princes of
the blood, and La Tremouille and the young De Laval brothers.
These were followed by the representatives of the ecclesiastical
peers--the Archbishop of Rheims, and the Bishops of Laon, Chƒlons,
Orleans, and one other.
Behind these came the Grand Staff, all our great generals and
famous names, and everybody was eager to get a sight of them. Through
all the din one could hear shouts all along that told you where two of
them were: "Live the Bastard of Orleans!" "Satan La Hire forever!"
The august procession reached its appointed place in time, and the
solemnities of the Coronation began. They were long and
imposing--with prayers, and anthems, and sermons, and everything that
is right for such occasions; and Joan was at the King's side all these
hours, with her Standard in her hand. But at last came the grand act:
the King took the oath, he was anointed with the sacred oil; a
splendid personage, followed by train-bearers and other attendants,
approached, bearing the Crown of France upon a cushion, and kneeling
offered it. The King seemed to hesitate--in fact, did hesitate; for he
put out his hand and then stopped with it there in the air over the
crown, the fingers in the attitude of taking hold of it. But that was
for only a moment--though a moment is a notable something when it
stops the heartbeat of twenty thousand people and makes them catch
their breath. Yes, only a moment; then he caught Joan's eye, and she
gave him a look with all the joy of her thankful great soul in it;
then he smiled, and took the Crown of France in his hand, and right
finely and right royally lifted it up and set it upon his head.
Then what a crash there was! All about us cries and cheers, and the
chanting of the choirs and groaning of the organ; and outside the
clamoring of the bells and the booming of the cannon. The fantastic
dream, the incredible dream, the impossible dream of the peasant-child
stood fulfilled; the English power was broken, the Heir of France was
She was like one transfigured, so divine was the joy that shone in
her face as she sank to her knees at the King's feet and looked up at
him through her tears. Her lips were quivering, and her words came
soft and low and broken:
"Now, O gentle King, is the pleasure of God accomplished according
to His command that you should come to Rheims and receive the crown
that belongeth of right to you, and unto none other. My work which was
given me to do is finished; give me your peace, and let me go back to
my mother, who is poor and old, and has need of me."
The King raised her up, and there before all that host he praised
her great deeds in most noble terms; and there he confirmed her
nobility and titles, making her the equal of a count in rank, and
also appointed a household and officers for her according to her
dignity; and then he said:
"You have saved the crown. Speak--require--demand; and whatsoever
grace you ask it shall be granted, though it make the kingdom poor to
Now that was fine, that was royal. Joan was on her knees again
straightway, and said:
"Then, O gentle King, if out of your compassion you will speak the
word, I pray you give commandment that my village, poor and hard
pressed by reason of war, may have its taxes remitted."
"It is so commanded. Say on."
"That is all."
"All? Nothing but that?"
"It is all. I have no other desire."
"But that is nothing--less than nothing. Ask--do not be afraid."
"Indeed, I cannot, gentle King. Do not press me. I will not have
aught else, but only this alone."
The King seemed nonplussed, and stood still a moment, as if trying
to comprehend and realize the full stature of this strange
unselfishness. Then he raised his head and said:
"Whe has one a kingdom and crowned its King; and all she asks and
all she will take is this poor grace--and even this is for others, not
for herself. And it is well; her act being proportioned to the dignity
of one who carries in her head and heart riches which outvalue any
that any King could add, though he gave his all. She shall have her
way. Now, therefore, it is decreed that from this day forth Domremy,
natal village of Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France, called the Maid of
Orleans, is freed from all taxation forever." Whereat the silver horns
blew a jubilant blast.
There, you see, she had had a vision of this very scene the time
she was in a trance in the pastures of Domremy and we asked her to
name to boon she would demand of the King if he should ever chance to
tell her she might claim one. But whether she had the vision or not,
this act showed that after all the dizzy grandeurs that had come upon
her, she was still the same simple, unselfish creature that she was
Yes, Charles VII. remitted those taxes "forever." Often the
gratitude of kings and nations fades and their promises are forgotten
or deliberately violated; but you, who are children of France, should
remember with pride that France has kept this one faithfully.
Sixty-three years have gone by since that day. The taxes of the region
wherein Domremy lies have been collected sixty-three times since then,
and all the villages of that region have paid except that
one--Domremy. The tax-gatherer never visits Domremy. Domremy has long
ago forgotten what that dread sorrow-sowing apparition is like.
Sixty-three tax-books have been filed meantime, and they lie yonder
with the other public records, and any may see them that desire it. At
the top of every page in the sixty-three books stands the name of a
village, and below that5 name its weary burden of taxation is figured
out and displayed; in the case of all save one. It is true, just as I
tell you. In each of the sixty-three books there is a page headed
"Domremi," but under that name not a figure appears. Where the figures
should be, there are three words written; and the same words have been
written every year for all these years; yes, it is a blank page, with
always those grateful words lettered across the face of it--a touching
__________________________________ | | | DOMREMI | | | | RIEN--LA
FUCELLE | |__________________________________| "NOTHING--THE MAID OF
ORLEANS." How brief it is; yet how much it says! It is the nation
speaking. You have the spectacle of that unsentimental thing, a
Government, making reverence to that name and saying to its agent,
"Uncover, and pass on; it is France that commands." Yes, the promise
has been kept; it will be kept always; "forever" was the King's word.
 At two o'clock in the afternoon the ceremonies of the Coronation
came at last to an end; then the procession formed once more, with
Joan and the King at its head, and took up its solemn march through
the midst of the church, all instruments and all people making such
clamor of rejoicing noises as was, indeed, a marvel to hear. An so
ended the third of the great days of Joan's life. And how close
together they stand--May 8th, June 18th, July 17th!
 IT was faithfully kept during three hundred and sixty years and
more; then the over-confident octogenarian's prophecy failed. During
the tumult of the French Revolution the promise was forgotten and the
grace withdrawn. It has remained in disuse ever since. Joan never
asked to be remembered, but France has remembered her with an
inextinguishable love and reverence; Joan never asked for a statue,
but France has lavished them upon her; Joan never asked for a church
for Domremy, but France is building one; Joan never asked for
saintship, but even that is impending. Everything which Joan of Arc
did not ask for has been given her, and with a noble profusion; but
the one humble little thing which she did ask for and get has been
taken away from her. There is something infinitely pathetic about
this. France owes Domremy a hundred years of taxes, and could hardly
find a citizen within her borders who would vote against the payment
of the debt. -- NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 36 Joan Hears News from Home
WE MOUNTED and rode, a spectacle to remember, a most noble display
of rich vestments and nodding plumes, and as we moved between the
banked multitudes they sank down all along abreast of us as we
advanced, like grain before the reaper, and kneeling hailed with a
rousing welcome the consecrated King and his companion the Deliverer
of France. But by and by when we had paraded about the chief parts of
the city and were come near to the end of our course, we being now
approaching the Archbishop's palace, one saw on the right, hard by the
inn that is called the Zebra, a strange t--two men not kneeling but
standing! Standing in the front rank of the kneelers; unconscious,
transfixed, staring. Yes, and clothed in the coarse garb of the
peasantry, these two. Two halberdiers sprang at them in a fury to
teach them better manners; but just as they seized them Joan cried out
"Forbear!" and slid from her saddle and flung her arms about one of
those peasants, calling him by all manner of endearing names, and
sobbing. For it was her father; and the other was her uncle, Laxart.
The news flew everywhere, and shouts of welcome were raised, and
in just one little moment those two despised and unknown plebeians
were become famous and popular and envied, and everybody was in a
fever to get sight of them and be able to say, all their lives long,
that they had seen the father of Joan of Arc and the brother of her
mother. How easy it was for her to do miracles like to this! She was
like the sun; on whatsoever dim and humble object her rays fell, that
thing was straightway drowned in glory.
All graciously the King said:
"Bring them to me."
And she brought them; she radiant with happiness and affection,
they trembling and scared, with their caps in their shaking hands;
and there before all the world the King gave them his hand to kiss,
while the people gazed in envy and admiration; and he said to old
"Give God thanks for that you are father to this child, this
dispenser of immortalities. You who bear a name that will still live
in the mouths of men when all the race of kings has been forgotten,
it is not meet that you bare your head before the fleeting fames and
dignities of a day--cover yourself!" And truly he looked right fine
and princely when he said that. Then he gave order that the Bailly of
Rheims be brought; and when he was come, and stood bent low and bare,
the King said to him, "These two are guests of France;" and bade him
use them hospitably.
I may as well say now as later, that Papa D'Arc and Laxart were
stopping in that little Zebra inn, and that there they remained.
Finer quarters were offered them by the Bailly, also public
distinctions and brave entertainment; but they were frightened at
these projects, they being only humble and ignorant peasants; so they
begged off, and had peace. They could not have enjoyed such things.
Poor souls, they did not even know what to do with their hands, and it
took all their attention to keep from treading on them. The Bailly did
the best he could in the circumstances. He made the innkeeper place a
whole floor at their disposal, and told him to provide everything they
might desire, and charge all to the city. Also the Bailly gave them a
horse apiece and furnishings; which so overwhelmed them with pride and
delight and astonishment that they couldn't speak a word; for in their
lives they had never dreamed of wealth like this, and could not
believe, at first, that the horses were real and would not dissolve to
a mist and blow away. They could not unglue their minds from those
grandeurs, and were always wrenching the conversation out of its
groove and dragging the matter of animals into it, so that they could
say "my horse" here, and "my horse" there and yonder and all around,
and taste the words and lick their chops over them, and spread their
legs and hitch their thumbs in their armpits, and feel as the good God
feels when He looks out on His fleets of constellations plowing the
awful deeps of space and reflects with satisfaction that they are
His--all His. Well, they were the happiest old children one ever saw,
and the simplest.
The city gave a grand banquet to the King and Joan in
mid-afternoon, and to the Court and the Grand Staff; and about the
middle of it PŠre D'Arc and Laxart were sent for, but would not
venture until it was promised that they might sit in a gallery and be
all by themselves and see all that was to be seen and yet be
unmolested. And so they sat there and looked down upon the splendid
spectacle, and were moved till the tears ran down their cheeks to see
the unbelievable honors that were paid to their small darling, and how
na‹vely serene and unafraid she sat there with those consuming glories
beating upon her.
But at last her serenity was broken up. Yes, it stood the strain of
the King's gracious speech; and of D'Alenon's praiseful words, and
the Bastard's; and even La Hire's thunder-blast, which took the place
by storm; but at last, as I have said, they brought a force to bear
which was too strong for her. For at the close the King put up his
hand to command silence, and so waited, with his hand up, till every
sound was dead and it was as if one could almost the stillness, so
profound it was. Then out of some remote corner of that vast place
there rose a plaintive voice, and in tones most tender and sweet and
rich came floating through that enchanted hush our poor old simple
song "L'Arbre Fee le Bourlemont!" and then Joan broke down and put her
face in her hands and cried. Yes, you see, all in a moment the pomps
and grandeurs dissolved away and she was a little child again herding
her sheep with the tranquil pastures stretched about her, and war and
wounds and blood and death and the mad frenzy and turmoil of battle a
dream. Ah, that shows you the power of music, that magician of
magicians, who lifts his wand and says his mysterious word and all
things real pass away and the phantoms of your mind walk before you
clothed in flesh.
That was the King's invention, that sweet and dear surprise.
Indeed, he had fine things hidden away in his nature, though one
seldom got a glimpse of them, with that scheming Tremouille and those
others always standing in the light, and he so indolently content to
save himself fuss and argument and let them have their way.
At the fall of night we the Domremy contingent of the personal
staff were with the father and uncle at the inn, in their private
parlor, brewing generous drinks and breaking ground for a homely talk
about Domremy and the neighbors, when a large parcel arrived from Joan
to be kept till she came; and soon she came herself and sent her guard
away, saying she would take one of her father's rooms and sleep under
his roof, and so be at home again. We of the staff rose and stood, as
was meet, until she made us sit. Then she turned and saw that the two
old men had gotten up too, and were standing in an embarrassed and
unmilitary way; which made her want to laugh, but she kept it in, as
not wishing to hurt them; and got them to their seats and snuggled
down between them, and took a hand of each of them upon her knees and
nestled her own hands in them, and said:
"Now we will nave no more ceremony, but be kin and playmates as in
other times; for I am done with the great wars now, and you two will
take me home with you, and I shall see--" She stopped, and for a
moment her happy face sobered, as if a doubt or a presentiment had
flitted through her mind; then it cleared again, and she said, with a
passionate yearning, "Oh, if the day were but come and we could
The old father was surprised, and said:
"Why, child, are you in earnest? Would you leave doing these
wonders that make you to be praised by everybody while there is still
so much glory to be won; and would you go out from this grand
comradeship with princes and generals to be a drudging villager again
and a nobody? It is not rational."
"No," said the uncle, Laxart, "it is amazing to hear, and indeed
not understandable. It is a stranger thing to hear her say she will
stop the soldiering that it was to hear her say she would begin it;
and I who speak to you can say in all truth that that was the
strangest word that ever I had heard till this day and hour. I would
it could be explained."
"It is not difficult," said Joan. "I was not ever fond of wounds
and suffering, nor fitted by my nature to inflict them; and
quarrelings did always distress me, and noise and tumult were against
my liking, my disposition being toward peace and quietness, and love
for all things that have life; and being made like this, how could I
bear to think of wars and blood, and the pain that goes with them,
and the sorrow and mourning that follow after? But by his angels God
laid His great commands upon me, and could I disobey? I did as I was
bid. Did He command me to do many things? No; only two: to raise the
siege of Orleans, and crown the King at Rheims. The task is finished,
and I am free. Has ever a poor soldier fallen in my sight, whether
friend or foe, and I not felt the pain in my own body, and the grief
of his home-mates in my own heart? No, not one; and, oh, it is such
bliss to know that my release is won, and that I shall not any more
see these cruel things or suffer these tortures of the mind again
Then why should I not go to my village and be as I was before? It is
heaven and ye wonder that I desire it. Ah, ye are men--just men My
mother would understand."
They didn't quite know what to say; so they sat still awhile,
looking pretty vacant. Then old D'Arc said:
"Yes, your mother--that is true. I never saw such a woman. She
worries, and worries, and worries; and wakes nights, and lies so,
thinking--that is, worrying; worrying about you. And when the night
storms go raging along, she moans and says, 'Ah, God pity her, she is
out in this with her poor wet sodliers.' And when the lightning glares
and the thunder crashes she wrings her hands and trembles, saying, 'It
is like the awful cannon and the flash, and yonder somewhere she is
riding down upon the spouting guns and I not there to protect her."
"Ah, poor mother, it is pity, it is pity!"
"Yes, a most strange woman, as I have noticed a many times. When
there is news of a victory and all the village goes mad with pride and
joy, she rushes here and there in a maniacal frenzy till she finds out
the one only thing she cares to know--that you are safe; then down she
goes on her knees in the dirt and praises God as long as there is any
breath left in her body; and all on your account, for she never
mentions the battle once. And always she says, 'Now it is over--now
France is saved--now she will come home'--and always is disappointed
and goes about mourning."
"Don't, father! it breaks my heart. I will be so good to her when I
get home. I will do her work for her, and be her comfort, and she
shall not suffer any more through me."
There was some more talk of this sort, then Uncle Laxart said:
"You have done the will of God, dear, and are quits; it is true,
and none may deny it; but what of the King? You are his best soldier;
what if he command you to stay?"
That was a crusher--and sudden It took Joan a moment or two to
recover from the shock of it; then she said, quite simply and
"The King is my Lord; I am his servant." She was silent and
thoughtful a little while, then she brightened up and said, cheerily,
"But let us drive such thoughts away--this is no time for them. Tell
me about home."
So the two old gossips talked and talked; talked about everything
and everybody in the village; and it was good to hear. Joan out of
her kindness tried to get us into the conversation, but that failed,
of course. She was the Commander-in-Chief, we were nobodies; her name
was the mightiest in France, we were invisible atoms; she was the
comrade of princes and heroes, we of the humble and obscure; she held
rank above all Personages and all Puissances whatsoever in the whole
earth, by right of baring her commission direct from God. To put it in
one word, she was JOAN OF ARC--and when that is said, all is said. To
us she was divine. Between her and us lay the bridgeless abyss which
that word implies. We could not be familiar with her. No, you can see
yourselves that that would have been impossible.
And yet she was so human, too, and so good and kind and dear and
loving and cheery and charming and unspoiled and unaffected! Those
are all the words I think of now, but they are not enough; no, they
are too few and colorless and meager to tell it all, or tell the half.
Those simple old men didn't realize her; they couldn't; they had never
known any people but human beings, and so they had no other standard
to measure her by. To them, after their first little shyness had worn
off, she was just a girl--that was all. It was amazing. It made one
shiver, sometimes, to see how calm and easy and comfortable they were
in her presence, and hear them talk to her exactly as they would have
talked to any other girl in France.
Why, that simple old Laxart sat up there and droned out the most
tedious and empty tale one ever heard, and neither he nor Papa D'Arc
ever gave a thought to the badness of the etiquette of it, or ever
suspected that that foolish tale was anything but dignified and
valuable history. There was not an atom of value in it; and whilst
they thought it distressing and pathetic, it was in fact not pathetic
at all, but actually ridiculous. At least it seemed so to me, and it
seems so yet. Indeed, I know it was, because it made Joan laugh; and
the more sorrowful it got the more it made her laugh; and the Paladin
said that he could have laughed himself if she had not been there, and
Noel Rainguesson said the same. It was about old Laxart going to a
funeral there at Domremy two or three weeks back. He had spots all
over his face and hands, and he got Joan to rub some healing ointment
on them, and while she was doing it, and comforting him, and trying to
say pitying things to him, he told her how it happened. And first he
asked her if she remembered that black bull calf that she left behind
when she came away, and she said indeed she did, and he was a dear,
and she loved him so, and was he well?--and just drowned him in
questions about that creature. And he said it was a young bull now,
and very frisky; and he was to bear a principal hand at a funeral; and
she said, "The bull?" and he said, "No, myself"; but said the bull did
take a hand, but not because of his being invited, for he wasn't; but
anyway he was away over beyond the Fairy Tree, and fell asleep on the
grass with his Sunday funeral clothes on, and a long black rag on his
hat and hanging down his back; and when he woke he saw by the sun how
late it was, and not a moment to lose; and jumped up terribly worried,
and saw the young bull grazing there, and thought maybe he could ride
part way on him and gain time; so he tied a rope around the bull's
body to hold on by, and put a halter on him to steer with, and jumped
on and started; but it was all new to the bull, and he was
discontented with it, and scurried around and bellowed and reared and
pranced, and Uncle Laxart was satisfied, and wanted to get off and go
by the next bull or some other way that was quieter, but he didn't
dare try; and it was getting very warm for him, too, and disturbing
and wearisome, and not proper for Sunday; but by and by the bull lost
all his temper, and went tearing down the slope with his tail in the
air and blowing in the most awful way; and just in the edge of the
village he knocked down some beehives, and the bees turned out and
joined the excursion, and soared along in a black cloud that nearly
hid those other two from sight, and prodded them both, and jabbed them
and speared them and spiked them, and made them bellow and shriek,
and shriek and bellow; and here they came roaring through the village
like a hurricane, and took the funeral procession right in the center,
and sent that section of it sprawling, and galloped over it, and the
rest scattered apart and fled screeching in every direction, every
person with a layer of bees on him, and not a rag of that funeral left
but the corpse; and finally the bull broke for the river and jumped
in, and when they fished Uncle Laxart out he was nearly drowned, and
his face looked like a pudding with raisins in it. And then he turned
around, this old simpleton, and looked a long time in a dazed way at
Joan where she had her face in a cushion, dying, apparently, and says:
"What do you reckon she is laughing at?"
And old D'Arc stood looking at her the same way, sort of absently
scratching his head; but had to give it up, and said he didn't
know--"must have been something that happened when we weren't
Yes, both of those old people thought that that tale was pathetic;
whereas to my mind it was purely ridiculous, and not in any way
valuable to any one. It seemed so to me then, and it seems so to me
yet. And as for history, it does not resemble history; for the office
of history is to furnish serious and important facts that teach;
whereas this strange and useless event teaches nothing; nothing that
I can see, except not to ride a bull to a funeral; and surely no
reflecting person needs to be taught that.
Chapter 37 Again to Arms
NOW THESE were nobles, you know, by decree of the King!--these
precious old infants. But they did not realize it; they could not be
called conscious of it; it was an abstraction, a phantom; to them it
had no substance; their minds could not take hold of it. No, they did
not bother about their nobility; they lived in their horses. The
horses were solid; they were visible facts, and would make a mighty
stir in Domremy. Presently something was said about the Coronation,
and old D'Arc said it was going to be a grand thing to be able to say,
when they got home, that they were present in the very town itself
when it happened. Joan looked troubled, and said:
"Ah, that reminds me. You were here and you didn't send me word.
In the town, indeed! Why, you could have sat with the other nobles,
and ben welcome; and could have looked upon the crowning itself, and
carried that home to tell. Ah, why did you use me so, and send me no
The old father was embarrassed, now, quite visibly embarrassed,
and had the air of one who does not quite know what to say. But Joan
was looking up in his face, her hands upon his shoulders--waiting. He
had to speak; so presently he drew her to his breast, which was
heaving with emotion; and he said, getting out his words with
"There, hide your face, child, and let your old father humble
himself and make his confession. I--I--don't you see, don't you
understand?--I could not know that these grandeurs would not turn
your young head--it would be only natural. I might shame you before
these great per--"
"And then I was afraid, as remembering that cruel thing I said once
in my sinful anger. Oh, appointed of God to be a soldier, and the
greatest in the land! and in my ignorant anger I said I would drown
you with my own hands if you unsexed yourself and brought shame to
your name and family. Ah, how could I ever have said it, and you so
good and dear and innocent! I was afraid; for I was guilty. You
understand it now, my child, and you forgive?"
Do you see? Even that poor groping old land-crab, with his skull
full of pulp, had pride. Isn't it wonderful? And more--he had
conscience; he had a sense of right and wrong, such as it was; he was
able to find remorse. It looks impossible, it looks incredible, but it
is not. I believe that some day it will be found out that peasants are
people. Yes, beings in a great many respects like ourselves. And I
believe that some day they will find this out, too--and then Well,
then I think they will rise up and demand to be regarded as part of
the race, and that by consequence there will be trouble. Whenever one
sees in a book or in a king's proclamation those words "the nation,"
they bring before us the upper classes; only those; we know no other
"nation"; for us and the kings no other "nation" exists. But from the
day that I saw old D'Arc the peasant acting and feeling just as I
should have acted and felt myself, I have carried the conviction in my
heart that our peasants are not merely animals, beasts of burden put
here by the good God to produce food and comfort for the "nation," but
something more and better. You look incredulous. Well, that is your
training; it is the training of everybody; but as for me, I thank that
incident for giving me a better light, and I have never forgotten it.
Let me see--where was I? One's mind wanders around here and there
and yonder, when one is old. I think I said Joan comforted him.
Certainly, that is what she would do--there was no need to say that.
She coaxed him and petted him and caressed him, and laid the memory of
that old hard speech of his to rest. Laid it to rest until she should
be dead. Then he would remember it again--yes, yes! Lord, how those
things sting, and burn, and gnaw--the things which we did against the
innocent dead! And we say in our anguish, "If they could only come
back!" Which is all very well to say, but, as far as I can see, it
doesn't profit anything. In my opinion the best way is not to do the
thing in the first place. And I am not alone in this; I have heard our
two knights say the same thing; and a man there in Orleans--no, I
believe it was at Beaugency, or one of those places--it seems more as
if it was at Beaugency than the others--this man said the same thing
exactly; almost the same words; a dark man with a cast in his eye and
one leg shorter than the other. His name was--was--it is singular that
I can't call that man's name; I had it in my mind only a moment ago,
and I know it begins with--no, I don't remember what it begins with;
but never mind, let it go; I will think of it presently, and then I
will tell you.
Well, pretty soon the old father wanted to know how Joan felt when
she was in the thick of a battle, with the bright blades hacking and
flashing all around her, and the blows rapping and slatting on her
shield, and blood gushing on her from the cloven ghastly face and
broken teeth of the neighbor at her elbow, and the perilous sudden
back surge of massed horses upon a person when the front ranks give
way before a heavy rush of the enemy, and men tumble limp and groaning
out of saddles all around, and battle-flags falling from dead hands
wipe across one's face and hide the tossing turmoil a moment, and in
the reeling and swaying and laboring jumble one's horse's hoofs sink
into soft substances and shrieks of pain respond, and
presently--panic! rush! swarm! flight! and death and hell following
after! And the old fellow got ever so much excited; and strode up and
down, his tongue going like a mill, asking question after question and
never waiting for an answer; and finally he stood Joan up in the
middle of the room and stepped off and scanned her critically, and
"No--I don't understand it. You are so little. So little and
slender. When you had your armor on, to-day, it gave one a sort of
notion of it; but in these pretty silks and velvets, you are only a
dainty page, not a league-striding war-colossus, moving in clouds and
darkness and breathing smoke and thunder. I would God I might see you
at it and go tell your mother! That would help her sleep, poor thing!
Here--teach me the arts of the soldier, that I may explain them to
And she did it. She gave him a pike, and put him through the
manual of arms; and made him do the steps, too. His marching was
incredibly awkward and slovenly, and so was his drill with the pike;
but he didn't know it, and was wonderfully pleased with himself, and
mightily excited and charmed with the ringing, crisp words of command.
I am obliged to say that if looking proud and happy when one is
marching were sufficient, he would have been the perfect soldier.
And he wanted a lesson in sword-play, and got it. But of course
that was beyond him; he was too old. It was beautiful to see Joan
handle the foils, but the old man was a bad failure. He was afraid of
the things, and skipped and dodged and scrambled around like a woman
who has lost her mind on account of the arrival of a bat. He was of no
good as an exhibition. But if La Hire had only come in, that would
have been another matter. Those two fenced often; I saw them many
times. True, Joan was easily his master, but it made a good show for
all that, for La Hire was a grand swordsman. What a swift creature
Joan was! You would see her standing erect with her ankle-bones
together and her foil arched over her head, the hilt in one hand and
the button in the other--the old general opposite, bent forward, left
hand reposing on his back, his foil advanced, slightly wiggling and
squirming, his watching eye boring straight into hers--and all of a
sudden she would give a spring forward, and back again; and there she
was, with the foil arched over her head as before. La Hire had been
hit, but all that the spectator saw of it was a something like a thin
flash of light in the air, but nothing distinct, nothing definite.
We kept the drinkables moving, for that would please the Bailly
and the landlord; and old Laxart and D'Arc got to feeling quite
comfortable, but without being what you could call tipsy. They got
out the presents which they had been buying to carry home--humble
things and cheap, but they would be fine there, and welcome. And they
gave to Joan a present from PŠre Fronte and one from her mother--the
one a little leaden image of the Holy Virgin, the other half a yard of
blue silk ribbon; and she was as pleased as a child; and touched, too,
as one could see plainly enough. Yes, she kissed those poor things
over and over again, as if they had been something costly and
wonderful; and she pinned the Virgin on her doublet, and sent for her
helmet and tied the ribbon on that; first one way, then another; then
a new way, then another new way; and with each effort perching the
helmet on her hand and holding it off this way and that, and canting
her head to one side and then the other, examining the effect, as a
bird does when it has got a new bug. And she said she could almost
wish she was going to the wars again; for then she would fight with
the better courage, as having always with her something which her
mother's touch had blessed.
Old Laxart said he hoped she would go to the wars again, but home
first, for that all the people there were cruel anxious to see
her--and so he went on:
"They are proud of you, dear. Yes, prouder than any village ever
was of anybody before. And indeed it is right and rational; for it is
the first time a village has ever had anybody like you to be proud of
and call its own. And it is strange and beautiful how they try to give
your name to every creature that has a sex that is convenient. It is
but half a year since you began to be spoken of and left us, and so it
is surprising to see how many babies there are already in that region
that are named for you. First it was just Joan; then it was
Joan-Orleans; then Joan-Orleans-Beaugency-Patay; and now the next
ones will have a lot of towns and the Coronation added, of course.
Yes, and the animals the same. They know how you love animals, and so
they try to do you honor and show their love for you by naming all
those creatures after you; insomuch that if a body should step out and
call ''Joan of Arc--come!' 'there would be a landslide of cats and all
such things, each supposing it was the one wanted, and all willing to
take the benefit of the doubt, anyway, for the sake of the food that
might be on delivery. The kitten you left behind--the last estray you
fetched home--bears you name, now, and belongs to PŠre 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 PŠre 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
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 said:
"My business is not with you. You have not craved a council of
war." Then she turned toward the King's privy council, and continued:
"No; it is with you. A council of war! It is amazing. There is but one
thing to do, and only one, and lo, ye call a council of war! Councils
of war have no value but to decide between two or several doubtful
courses. But a council of war when there is only one course? Conceive
of a man in a boat and his family in the water, and he goes out among
his friends to ask what he would better do? A council of war, name of
God! To determine what?"
She stopped, and turned till her eyes rested upon the face of La
Tremouille; and so she stood, silent, measuring him, the excitement
in all faces burning steadily higher and higher, and all pulses
beating faster and faster; then she said, with deliberation:
"Every sane man--whose loyalty is to his King and not a show and a
pretense--knows that there is but one rational thing before us--the
march upon Paris!"
Down came the fist of La Hire with an approving crash upon the
table. La Tremouille turned white with anger, but he pulled himself
firmly together and held his peace. The King's lazy blood was stirred
and his eye kindled finely, for the spirit of war was away down in him
somewhere, and a frank, bold speech always found it and made it tingle
gladsomely. Joan waited to see if the chief minister might wish to
defend his position; but he was experienced and wise, and not a man to
waste his forces where the current was against him. He would wait; the
King's private ear would be at his disposal by and by.
That pious fox the Chancellor of France took the word now. He
washed his soft hands together, smiling persuasively, and said to
"Would it be courteous, your Excellency, to move abruptly from
here without waiting for an answer from the Duke of Burgundy? You may
not know that we are negotiating with his Highness, and that there is
likely to be a fortnight's truce between us; and on his part a pledge
to deliver Paris into our hands without the cost of a blow or the
fatigue of a march thither."
Joan turned to him and said, gravely:
"This is not a confessional, my lord. You were not obliged to
expose that shame here."
The Chancellor's face reddened, and he retorted:
"Shame? What is there shameful about it?"
Joan answered in level, passionless tones:
"One may describe it without hunting far for words. I knew of this
poor comedy, my lord, although it was not intended that I should
know. It is to the credit of the devisers of it that they tried to
conceal it--this comedy whose text and impulse are describable in two
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
"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
"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 English strongholds?"
"That for your English strongholds!" and Joan snapped her fingers
scornfully. "Whence have we marched in these last days? From Gien.
And whither? To Rheims. What bristled between? English strongholds.
What are they now? French ones--and they never cost a blow!" Here
applause broke out from the group of generals, and Joan had to pause a
moment to let it subside. "Yes, English strongholds bristled before
us; now French ones bristle behind us. What is the argument? A child
can read it. The strongholds between us and Paris are garrisoned by no
new breed of English, but by the same breed as those others--with the
same fears, the same questionings, the same weaknesses, the same
disposition to see the heavy hand of God descending upon them. We have
but to march!--on the instant--and they are ours, Paris is ours,
France is ours! Give the word, O my King, command your servant to--"
"Stay!" cried the Chancellor. "It would be madness to put our
affront upon his Highness the Duke of Burgundy. By the treaty which
we have every hope to make with him--"
"Oh, the treaty which we hope to make with him! He has scorned you
for years, and defied you. Is it your subtle persuasions that have
softened his manners and beguiled him to listen to proposals? No; it
was blows!--the blows which we gave him! That is the only teaching
that that sturdy rebel can understand. What does he care for wind? The
treaty which we hope to make with him--alack! He deliver Paris! There
is no pauper in the land that is less able to do it. He deliver Paris!
Ah, but that would make great Bedford smile! Oh, the pitiful pretext!
the blind can see that this thin pour-parler with its fifteen-day
truce has no purpose but to give Bedford time to hurry forward his
forces against us. More treachery--always treachery! We call a council
of war--with nothing to council about; but Bedford calls no council to
teach him what our course is. He knows what he would do in our place.
He would hang his traitors and march upon Paris! O gentle King, rouse!
The way is open, Paris beckons, France implores, Speak and we--"
"Sire, it is madness, sheer madness! Your Excellency, we cannot,
we must not go back from what we have done; we have proposed to
treat, we must treat with the Duke of Burgundy."
"And we will!" said Joan.
"At the point of the lance!"
The house rose, to a man--all that had French hearts--and let go a
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 hand,
"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 cur, entiŠrement,
ainsi que doivent faire loyaux chretiens, et, s'il vous plait de
guerroyer, allez contre les Sarrasins." It was long, but it was good,
and had the sterling ring to it. It is my opinion that it was as fine
and simple and straightforward and eloquent a state paper as she ever
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 Noel Rainguesson, convincingly. "He
is a terror; and not just in this vicinity. His mere name carries a
shudder with it to distant lands--just 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--"
"Noel Rainguesson, you are preparing yourself for trouble. I will
say just one word to you, and it will be to your advantage to--"
I saw that the usual thing had got a start. No man could prophesy
when it would end. So I delivered Joan's message and went off to bed.
Joan made her good-byes to those old fellows in the morning, with
loving embraces and many tears, and with a packed multitude for
sympathizers, and they rode proudly away on their precious horses to
carry their great news home. I had seen better riders, some will say
that; for horsemanship was a new art to them.
The vanguard moved out at dawn and took the road, with bands
braying and banners flying; the second division followed at eight.
Then came the Burgundian ambassadors, and lost us the rest of that
day and the whole of the next. But Joan was on hand, and so they had
their journey for their pains. The rest of us took the road at dawn,
next morning, July 20th. And got how far? Six leagues. Tremouille was
getting in his sly work with the vacillating King, you see. The King
stopped at St. Marcoul and prayed three days. Precious time lost--for
us; precious time gained for Bedford. He would know how to use it.
We could not go on without the King; that would be to leave him in
the conspirators' camp. Joan argued, reasoned, implored; and at last
we got under way again.
Joan's prediction was verified. It was not a campaign, it was only
another holiday excursion. English strongholds lined our route; they
surrendered without a blow; we garrisoned them with Frenchmen and
passed on. Bedford was on the march against us with his new army by
this time, and on the 25th of July the hostile forces faced each other
and made preparation for battle; but Bedford's good judgment
prevailed, and he turned and retreated toward Paris. Now was our
chance. Our men were in great spirits.
Will you believe it? Our poor stick of a King allowed his worthless
advisers to persuade him to start back for Gien, whence he had set
out when we first marched for Rheims and the Coronation And we
actually did start back. The fifteen-day truce had just been concluded
with the Duke of Burgundy, and we would go and tarry at Gien until he
should deliver Paris to us without a fight.
We marched to Bray; then the King changed his mind once more, and
with it his face toward Paris. Joan dictated a letter to the citizens
of Rheims to encourage them to keep heart in spite of the truce, and
promising to stand by them. She furnished them the news herself that
the Kin had made this truce; and in speaking of it she was her usual
frank self. She said she was not satisfied with it, and didn't know
whether she would keep it or not; that if she kept it, it would be
solely out of tenderness for the King's honor. All French children
know those famous words. How na‹ve they are! "De cette trŠve qui a ete
faite, je ne suis pas contente, et je ne sais si je la tiendrai. Si je
la tiens, ce sera seulement pour garder l'honneur du roi." But in any
case, she said, she would not allow the blood royal to be abused, and
would keep the army in good order and ready for work at the end of the
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,
"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.
CompiŠgne 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
We enterd CompiŠgne the 18th of August, turning out the English
garrison and hoisting our own flag.
On the 23d Joan gave command to move upon Paris. The King and the
clique were not satisfied with this, and retired sulking to Senlis,
which had just surrendered. Within a few days many strong places
submitted--Creil, Pont-Saint-Maxence, Choisy, Gournay-sur-Aronde,
Remy, Le Neufville-en-Hez, Moguay, Chantilly, Saintines. The English
power was tumbling, crash after crash! And still the King sulked and
disapproved, and was afraid of our movement against the capital.
On the 26th of August, 1429, Joan camped at St. Denis; in effect,
under the walls of Paris.
And still the King hung back and was afraid. If we could but have
had him there to back us with his authority! Bedford had lost heart
and decided to waive resistance and go an concentrate his strength in
the best and loyalest province remaining to him--Normandy. Ah, if we
could only have persuaded the King to come and countenance us with his
presence and approval at this supreme moment!
Chapter 40 Treachery Conquers Joan
COURIER after courier was despatched to the King, and he promised
to come, but didn't. The Duke d'Alenon 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. Honore. 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'Alenon.
But her spirits were at the very top notch, now. She was brimming
with enthusiasm. She said she would be carried before the gate in the
morning, and in half an hour Paris would be ours without any question.
She could have kept her word. About this there was no doubt. But she
forgot one factor--the King, shadow of that substance named La
Tremouille. The King forbade the attempt!
You see, a new Embassy had just come from the Duke of Burgundy,
and another sham private trade of some sort was on foot.
You would know, without my telling you, that Joan's heart was
nearly broken. Because of the pain of her wound and the pain at her
heart she slept little that night. Several times the watchers heard
muffled sobs from the dark room where she lay at St. Denis, and many
times the grieving words, "It could have been taken--it could have
been taken" which were the only ones she said.
She dragged herself out of bed a day later with a new hope.
D'Alenon had thrown a bridge across the Seine near St. Denis. Might
she not cross by that and assault Paris at another point? But the King
got wind of it and broke the bridge down And more--he declared the
campaign ended! And more still--he had made a new truce and a long
one, in which he had agreed to leave Paris unthreatened and
unmolested, and go back to the Loire whence he had come!
Joan of Arc, who had never been defeated by the enemy, was
defeated by her own King. She had said once that all she feared for
her cause was treachery. It had struck its first blow now. She hung
up her white armor in the royal basilica of St. Denis, and went and
asked the King to relieve her of her functions and let her go home.
As usual, she was wise. Grand combinations, far-reaching great
military moves were at an end, now; for the future, when the truce
should end, the war would be merely a war of random and idle
skirmishes, apparently; work suitable for subalterns, and not
requiring the supervision of a sublime military genius. But the King
would not let her go. The truce did not embrace all France; there were
French strongholds to be watched and preserved; he would need her.
Really, you see, Tremouille wanted to keep her where he could balk and
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,
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
"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 CompiŠgne, 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
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 by one.
Flavy, watching from the city wall, ordered the gate to be closed
and the drawbridge raised. This shut Joan out.
The little personal guard around her thinned swiftly. Both of our
good knights went down disabled; Joan's two brothers fell wounded;
then Noel Rainguesson--all wounded while loyally sheltering Joan from
blows aimed at her. When only the Dwarf and the Paladin were left,
they would not give up, but stood their ground stoutly, a pair of
steel towers streaked and splashed with blood; and where the ax of one
fell, and the sword of the other, an enemy gasped and died.
And so fighting, and loyal to their duty to the last, good simple
souls, they came to their honorable end. Peace to their memories!
they were very dear to me.
Then there was a cheer and a rush, and Joan, still defiant, still
laying about her with her sword, was seized by her cape and dragged
from her horse. She was borne away a prisoner to the Duke of
Burgundy's camp, and after her followed the victorious army roaring
The awful news started instantly on its round; from lip to lip it
flew; and wherever it came it struck the people as with a sort of
paralysis; and they murmured over and over again, as if they were
talking to themselves, or in their sleep, "The Maid of Orleans taken
. . . Joan of Arc a prisoner! . . . the savior of France lost to
us!"--and would keep saying that over, as if they couldn't understand
how it could be, or how God could permit it, poor creatures!
You know what a city is like when it is hung from eaves to
pavement with rustling black? Then you know what Rouse was like, and
some other cities. But can any man tell you what the mourning in the
hearts of the peasantry of France was like? No, nobody can tell you
that, and, poor dumb things, they could not have told you themselves,
but it was there--indeed, yes. Why, it was the spirit of a whole
nation hung with crape!
The 24th of May. We will draw down the curtain now upon the most
strange, and pathetic, and wonderful military drama that has been
played upon the stage of the world. Joan of Arc will march no more.
BOOK III TRIAL AND MARTYRDOM
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
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
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
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
And yet when she heard at last that CompiŠgne 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
CompiŠgne 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
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 CompiŠgne--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
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 CompiŠgne, and hobble into my room as pallid and pathetic an
object as you would wish to see.
"What? Alive? Noel Rainguesson"
It was indeed he. It was a most joyful meeting, that you will
easily know; and also as sad as it was joyful. We could not speak
Joan's name. One's voice would have broken down. We knew who was
meant when she was mentioned; we could say "she" and "her," but we
could not speak the name.
We talked of the personal staff. Old D'Aulon, wounded and a
prisoner, was still with Joan and serving her, by permission of the
Duke of Burgundy. Joan was being treated with respect due to her rank
and to her character as a prisoner of war taken in honorable conflict.
And this was continued--as we learned later--until she fell into the
hands of that bastard of Satan, Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais.
Noel was full of noble and affectionate praises and 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 Noel, with his eyes full of
tears. "Always the pet child of luck!
See how it followed him and stayed by him, from his first step all
through, in the field or out of it; always a splendid figure in the
public eye, courted and envied everywhere; always having a chance to
do fine things and always doing them; in the beginning called the
Paladin in joke, and called it afterward in earnest because he
magnificently made the title good; and at last--supremest luck of
all--died in the field! died with his harness on; died faithful to his
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 dead?"
And presently he said:
"They tore the sacred Standard from his dead hand and carried it
away, their most precious prize after its captured owner. But they
haven't it now. A month ago we put our lives upon the risk--our two
good knights, my fellow-prisoners, and I--and stole it, and got it
smuggled by trusty hands to Orleans, and there it is now, safe for all
time in the Treasury."
I was glad and grateful to learn that. I have seen it often since,
when I have gone to Orleans on the 8th of May to be the petted old
guest of the city and hold the first place of honor at the banquets
and in the processions--I mean since Joan's brothers passed from this
life. It will still be there, sacredly guarded by French love, a
thousand years from now--yes, as long as any shred of it hangs
together.  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
Not for a moment had we ever dreamed of such a thing. We were
young, you see, and did not know the human race, as I have said
before. We had been so proud of our country, so sure of her
nobleness, her magnanimity, her gratitude. We had expected little of
the King, but of France we had expected everything. Everybody knew
that in various towns patriot priests had been marching in procession
urging the people to sacrifice money, property, everything, and buy
the freedom of their heaven-sent deliverer. That the money would be
raised we had not thought of doubting.
But it was all over now, all over. It was a bitter time for us. The
heavens seemed hung with black; all cheer went out from our hearts.
Was this comrade here at my bedside really Noel Rainguesson, that
light-hearted creature whose whole life was but one long joke, and who
used up more breath in laughter than in keeping his body alive? No,
no; that Noel I was to see no more. This one's heart was broken. He
moved grieving about, and absently, like one in a dream; the stream of
his laughter was dried at its source.
Well, that was best. It was my own mood. We were company for each
other. He nursed me patiently through the dull long weeks, and at
last, in January, I was strong enough to go about again. Then he said:
"Shall we go now?"
There was no need to explain. Our hearts were in Rouen; we would
carry our bodies there. All that we cared for in this life was shut up
in that fortress. We could not help her, but it would be some solace
to us to be near her, to breathe the air that she breathed, and look
daily upon the stone walls that hid her. What if we should be made
prisoners there? Well, we could but do our best, and let luck and fate
decide what should happen.
And so we started. We could not realize the change which had come
upon the country. We seemed able to choose our own route and go
whenever we pleased, unchallenged and unmolested. When Joan of Arc was
in the field there was a sort of panic of fear everywhere; but now
that she was out of the way, fear had vanished. Nobody was troubled
about you or afraid of you, nobody was curious about you or your
business, everybody was indifferent.
We presently saw that we could take to the Seine, and not weary
ourselves out with land travel.
So we did it, and were carried in a boat to within a league of
Rouen. Then we got ashore; not on the hilly side, but on the other,
where it is as level as a floor. Nobody could enter or leave the city
without explaining himself. It was because they feared attempts at a
rescue of Joan.
We had no trouble. We stopped in the plain with a family of
peasants and stayed a 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
 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 Noel
and myself; and when the Pierrons found that I knew how to write, the
applied to their confessor in my behalf, and he got a place for me
with a good priest named Manchon, who was to be the chief recorder in
the Great Trial of Joan of Arc now approaching. It was a strange
position for me--clerk to the recorder--and dangerous if my sympathies
and the late employment should be found out. But there was not much
danger. Manchon was at bottom friendly to Joan and would not betray
me; and my name would not, for I had discarded my surname and retained
only my given one, like a person of low degree.
I attended Manchon constantly straight along, out of January and
into February, and was often in the citadel with him--in the very
fortress where Joan was imprisoned, though not in the dungeon where
she was confined, and so did not see her, of course.
Manchon told me everything that had been happening before my
coming. Ever since the purchase of Joan, Cauchon had been busy
packing his jury for the destruction of the Maid--weeks and weeks he
had spent in this bad industry. The University of Paris had sent him a
number of learned and able and trusty ecclesiastics of the stripe he
wanted; and he had scraped together a clergyman of like stripe and
great fame here and there and yonder, until he was able to construct a
formidable court numbering half a hundred distinguished names. French
names they were, but their interests and sympathies were English.
A great officer of the Inquisition was also sent from Paris for the
accused must be tried by the forms of the Inquisition; but this was a
brave and righteous man, and he said squarely that this court had no
power to try the case, wherefore he refused to act; and the same
honest talk was uttered by two or three others.
The Inquisitor was right. The case as here resurrected against Joan
had already been tried long ago at Poitiers, and decided in her
favor. Yes, and by a higher tribunal than this one, for at the head of
it was an Archbishop--he of Rheims--Cauchon's own metropolitan. So
here, you see, a lower court was impudently preparing to try and
redecide a cause which had already been decided by its superior, a
court of higher authority. Imagine it! No, the case could not properly
be tried again. Cauchon could not properly preside in this new court,
for more than one reason:
Rouen was not in his diocese; Joan had not been arrested in her
domicile, which was still Domremy; and finally this proposed judge
was the prisoner's outspoken enemy, and therefore he was incompetent
to try her. Yet all these large difficulties were gotten rid of. The
territorial Chapter of Rouen finally granted territorial letters to
Cauchon--though only after a struggle and under compulsion. Force was
also applied to the Inquisitor, and he was obliged to submit.
So then, the little English King, by his representative, formally
delivered Joan into the hands of the court, but with this
reservation: if the court failed to condemn her, he was to have her
back again Ah, dear, what chance was there for that forsaken and
friendless child? Friendless, indeed--it is the right word. For she
was in a black dungeon, with half a dozen brutal common soldiers
keeping guard night and day in the room where her cage was--for she
was in a cage; an iron cage, and chained to her bed by neck and hands
and feet. Never a person near her whom she had ever seen before; never
a woman at all. Yes, this was, indeed, friendlessness.
Now it was a vassal of Jean de Luxembourg who captured Joan and
CompiŠgne, 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 get
This defiance infuriated Stafford, and he--now think of it--he a
free, strong man, she a chained and helpless girl--he drew his dagger
and flung himself at her to stab her. But Warwick seized him and held
him back. Warwick was wise. Take her life in that way? Send her to
Heaven stainless and undisgraced? It would make her the idol of
France, and the whole nation would rise and march to victory and
emancipation under the inspiration of her spirit. No, she must be
saved for another fate than that.
Well, the time was approaching for the Great Trial. For more than
two months Cauchon had been raking and scraping everywhere for any
odds and ends of evidence or suspicion or conjecture that might be
usable against Joan, and carefully suppressing all evidence that came
to hand in her favor. He had limitless ways and means and powers at
his disposal for preparing and strengthening the case for the
prosecution, and he used them all.
But Joan had no one to prepare her case for her, and she was shut
up in those stone walls and had no friend to appeal to for help. And
as for witnesses, she could not call a single one in her defense; they
were all far away, under the French flag, and this was an English
court; they would have been seized and hanged if they had shown their
faces at the gates of Rouen. No, the prisoner must be the sole
witness--witness for the prosecution, witness for the defense; and
with a verdict of death resolved upon before the doors were opened for
the court's first sitting.
When she learned that the court was made up of ecclesiastics in
the interest of the English, she begged that in fairness an equal
number of priests of the French party should be added to these.
Cauchon scoffed at her message, and would not even deign to answer
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 procŠs 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 procŠs 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 procŠs 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 Noel, so that he might be
there early and secure a place. It would give him a chance to look
again upon the face which we so revered and which was so precious to
us. All the way, both going and coming, I plowed through chattering
and rejoicing multitudes of English soldiery and English-hearted
French citizens. There was no talk but of the coming event. Many times
I heard the remark, accompanied by a pitiless laugh:
"The fat Bishop has got things as he wants them at last, and says
he will lead the vile witch a merry dance and a short one."
But here and there I glimpsed compassion and distress in a face,
and it was not always a French one. English soldiers feared Joan, but
they admired her for her great deeds and her unconquerable spirit.
In the morning Manchon and I went early, yet as we approached the
vast fortress we found crowds of men already there and still others
gathering. The chapel was already full and the way barred against
further admissions of unofficial persons. We took our appointed
places. Throned on high sat the president, Cauchon, Bishop of
Beauvais, in his grand robes, and before him in rows sat his robed
court--fifty distinguished ecclesiastics, men of high degree in the
Church, of clear-cut intellectual faces, men of deep learning, veteran
adepts in strategy and casuistry, practised 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 her name.
What a dainty little figure she was, and how gentle and innocent,
how winning and beautiful in the fresh bloom of her seventeen years!
Those were grand days. And so recent--for she was just nineteen
now--and how much she had seen since, and what wonders she had
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
All this time there had been a muffled hum of conversation, and
rustling of robes and scraping of feet on the floor, a combination of
dull noises which filled all the place. Suddenly:
"Produce the accused!"
It made me catch my breath. My heart began to thump like a hammer.
But there was silence now--silence absolute. All those noises ceased,
and it was as if they had never been. Not a sound; the stillness grew
oppressive; it was like a weight upon one. All faces were turned
toward the door; and one could properly expect that, for most of the
people there suddenly realized, no doubt, that they were about to see,
in actual flesh and blood, what had been to them before only an
embodied prodigy, a word, a phrase, a world-girdling Name.
The stillness continued. Then, far down the stone-paved corridors,
one heard a vague slow sound approaching: clank . . . clink . . .
clank--Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France, in chains!
My head swam; all things whirled and spun about me. Ah, I was
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
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 ankles.
Half-way to her bench she stopped, just where a wide shaft of light
fell slanting from a window, and slowly lifted her face. Another
thrill!--it was totally colorless, white as snow; a face of gleaming
snow set in vivid contrast upon that slender statue of somber
unmitigated black. It was smooth and pure and girlish, beautiful
beyond belief, infinitely sad and sweet. But, dear, dear!
when the challenge of those untamed eyes fell upon that judge, and
the droop vanished from her form and it straightened up soldierly and
noble, my heart leaped for joy; and I said, all is well, all is
well--they have not broken her, they have not conquered her, she is
Joan of Arc still! Yes, it was plain to me now that there was one
spirit there which this dreaded judge could not quell nor make
She moved to her place and mounted the dais and seated herself
upon her bench, gathering her chains into her lap and nestling her
little white hands there. Then she waited in tranquil dignity, the
only person there who seemed unmoved and unexcited. A bronzed and
brawny English soldier, standing at martial ease in the front rank of
the citizen spectators, did now most gallantly and respectfully put up
his great hand and give her the military salute; and she, smiling
friendly, put up hers and returned it; whereat there was a sympathetic
little break of applause, which the judge sternly silence.
Now the memorable inquisition called in history the Great Trial
began. Fifty experts against a novice, and no one to help the novice!
The judge summarized the circumstances of the case and the public
reports and suspicions upon which it was based; then he required Joan
to kneel and make oath that she would answer with exact truthfulness
to all questions asked her.
Joan's mind was not asleep. It suspected that dangerous
possibilities might lie hidden under this apparently fair and
reasonable demand. She answered with the simplicity which so often
spoiled the enemy's best-laid plans in the trial at Poitiers, and
"No; for I do not know what you are going to ask me; you might ask
of me things which I would not tell you."
This incensed the Court, and brought out a brisk flurry of angry
exclamations. Joan was not disturbed. Cauchon raised his voice and
began to speak in the midst of this noise, but he was so angry that he
could hardly get his words out. He said:
"With the divine assistance of our Lord we require you to expedite
these proceedings for the welfare of your conscience. Swear, with
your hands upon the Gospels, that you will answer true to the
questions which shall be asked you!" and he brought down his fat hand
with a crash upon his official table.
Joan said, with composure:
"As concerning my father and mother, and the faith, and what
things I have done since my coming into France, I will gladly answer;
but as regards the revelations which I have received from God, my
Voices have forbidden me to confide them to any save my King--"
Here there was another angry outburst of threats and expletives,
and much movement and confusion; so she had to stop, and wait for the
noise to subside; then her waxen face flushed a little and she
straightened up and fixed her eye on the judge, and finished her
sentence in a voice that had the old ring to it:
--"and I will never reveal these things though you cut my head
Well, maybe you know what a deliberative body of Frenchmen is
like. The judge and half the court were on their feet in a moment,
and all shaking their fists at the prisoner, and all storming and
vituperating at once, so that you could hardly hear yourself think.
They kept this up several minutes; and because Joan sat untroubled
and indifferent they grew madder and noisier all the time. Once she
said, with a fleeting trace of the old-time mischief in her eye and
"Prithee, speak one at a time, fair lords, then I will answer all
At the end of three whole hours of furious debating over the oath,
the situation had not changed a jot. The Bishop was still requiring
an unmodified oath, Joan was refusing for the twentieth time to take
any except the one which she had herself proposed. There was a
physical change apparent, but it was confined to the court and judge;
they were hoarse, droopy, exhausted by their long frenzy, and had a
sort of haggard look in their faces, poor men, whereas Joan was still
placid and reposeful and did not seem noticeably tired.
The noise quieted down; there was a waiting pause of some moments'
duration. Then the judge surrendered to the prisoner, and with
bitterness in his voice told her to take the oath after her own
fashion. Joan sunk at once to her knees; and as she laid her hands
upon the Gospels, that big English soldier set free his mind:
"By God, if she were but English, she were not in this place
another half a second!"
It was the soldier in him responding to the soldier in her. But
what a stinging rebuke it was, what an arraignment of French character
and French royalty! Would that he could have uttered just that one
phrase in the hearing of Orleans! I know that that grateful city, that
adoring city, would have risen to the last man and the last woman,
and marched upon Rouen. Some speeches--speeches that shame a man and
humble him--burn themselves into the memory and remain there. That one
is burned into mine.
After Joan had made oath, Cauchon asked her her name, and where
she was born, and some questions about her family; also what her age
was. She answered these. Then he asked her how much education she had.
"I have learned from my mother the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria,
and the Belief. All that I know was taught me by my mother."
Questions of this unessential sort dribbled on for a considerable
time. Everybody was tired out by now, except Joan. The tribunal
prepared to rise. At this point Cauchon forbade Joan to try to escape
from prison, upon pain of being held guilty of the crime of
heresy--singular logic! She answered simply:
"I am not bound by this proposition. If I could escape I would not
reproach myself, for I have given no promise, and I shall not."
Then she complained of the burden of her chains, and asked that
they might be removed, for she was strongly guarded in that dungeon
and there was no need of them. But the Bishop refused, and reminded
her that she had broken out of prison twice before. Joan of Arc was
too proud to insist. She only said, as she rose to go with the guard:
"It is true, I have wanted to escape, and I do want to escape."
Then she added, in a way that would touch the pity of anybody, I
think, "It is the right of every prisoner."
And so she went from the place in the midst of an impressive
stillness, which made the sharper and more distressful to me the
clank of those pathetic chains.
What presence of mind she had! One could never surprise her out of
it. She saw Noel and me there when she first took her seat on the
bench, and we flushed to the forehead with excitement and emotion, but
her face showed nothing, betrayed nothing. Her eyes sought us fifty
times that day, but they passed on and there was never any ray of
recognition in them. Another would have started upon seeing us, and
then--why, then there could have been trouble for us, of course.
We walked slowly home together, each busy with his own grief and
saying not a word.
 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 her.
The prisoner was brought in. She was as white as ever, but she was
looking no whit worse than she looked when she had first appeared the
day before. Isn't it a strange thing? Yesterday she had sat five hours
on that backless bench with her chains in her lap, baited, badgered,
persecuted by that unholy crew, without even the refreshment of a cup
of water--for she was never offered anything, and if I have made you
know her by this time you will know without my telling you that she
was not a person likely to ask favors of those people. And she had
spent the night caged in her wintry dungeon with her chains upon her;
yet here she was, as I say, collected, unworn, and ready for the
conflict; yes, and the only person there who showed no signs of the
wear and worry of yesterday. And her eyes--ah, you should have seen
them and broken your hearts. Have you seen that veiled deep glow, that
pathetic hurt dignity, that unsubdued and unsubduable spirit that
burns and smolders in the eye of a caged eagle and makes you feel
mean and shabby under the burden of its mute reproach? Her eyes were
like that. How capable they were, and how wonderful! Yes, at all times
and in all circumstances they could express as by print every shade of
the wide range of her moods. In them were hidden floods of gay
sunshine, the softest and peacefulest twilights, and devastating
storms and lightnings. Not in this world have there been others that
were comparable to them. Such is my opinion, and none that had the
privilege to see them would say otherwise than this which I have said
The seance began. And how did it begin, should you think? Exactly
as it began before--with that same tedious thing which had been
settled once, after so much wrangling. The Bishop opened thus:
"You are required now, to take the oath pure and simple, to answer
truly all questions asked you."
Joan replied placidly:
"I have made oath yesterday, my lord; let that suffice."
The Bishop insisted and insisted, with rising temper; Joan but
shook her head and remained silent. At last she said:
"I made oath yesterday; it is sufficient." Then she sighed and
said, "Of a truth, you do burden me too much."
The Bishop still insisted, still commanded, but he could not move
her. At last he gave it up and turned her over for the day's inquest
to an old hand at tricks and traps and deceptive
plausibilities--Beaupere, a doctor of theology. Now notice the form
of this sleek strategist's first remark--flung out in an easy, offhand
way that would have thrown any unwatchful person off his guard:
"Now, Joan, the matter is very simple; just speak up and frankly
and truly answer the questions which I am going to ask you, as you
have sworn to do."
It was a failure. Joan was not asleep. She saw the artifice. She
"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
"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
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 fight."
Then she told how she was balked and interrupted at Vaucouleurs,
but finally got her soldiers, and began her march.
"How were you dressed?"
The court of Poitiers had distinctly decided and decreed that as
God had appointed her to do a man's work, it was meet and no scandal
to religion that she should dress as a man; but no matter, this court
was ready to use any and all weapons against Joan, even broken and
discredited ones, and much was going to be made of this one before
this trial should end.
"I wore a man's dress, also a sword which Robert de Baudricourt
gave me, but no other weapon."
"Who was it that advised you to wear the dress of a man?"
Joan was suspicious again. She would not answer.
The question was repeated.
She refused again.
"Answer. It is a command!"
"Passez outre," was all she said.
So Beaupere gave up the matter for the present.
"What did Baudricourt say to you when you left?"
"He made them that were to go with me promise to take charge of
me, and to me he said, 'Go, and let happen what may!'" (Advienne que
pourra!) After a good deal of questioning upon other matters she was
asked again about her attire. She said it was necessary for her to
dress as a man.
"Did your Voice advise it?"
Joan merely answered placidly:
"I believe my Voice gave me good advice."
It was all that could be got out of her, so the questions wandered
to other matters, and finally to her first meeting with the King at
Chinon. She said she chose out the King, who was unknown to her, by
the revelation of her Voices. All that happened at that time was gone
"Do you still hear those Voices?"
"They come to me every day."
"What do you ask of them?"
"I have never asked of them any recompense but the salvation of my
"Did the Voice always urge you to follow the army?"
He is creeping upon her again. She answered:
"It required me to remain behind at St. Denis. I would have obeyed
if I had been free, but I was helpless by my wound, and the knights
carried me away by force."
"When were you wounded?"
"I was wounded in the moat before Paris, in the assault."
The next question reveals what Beaupere had been leading up to:
"Was it a feast-day?"
You see? The suggestion that a voice coming from God would hardly
advise or permit the violation, by war and bloodshed, of a sacred day.
Joan was troubled a moment, then she answered yes, it was a
"Now, then, tell the this: did you hold it right to make the attack
on such a day?"
This was a shot which might make the first breach in a wall which
had suffered no damage thus far. There was immediate silence in the
court and intense expectancy noticeable all about. But Joan
disappointed the house. She merely made a slight little motion with
her hand, as when one brushes away a fly, and said with reposeful
Smiles danced for a moment in some of the sternest faces there,
and several men even laughed outright. The trap had been long and
laboriously prepared; it fell, and was empty.
The court rose. It had sat for hours, and was cruelly fatigued.
Most of the time had been taken up with apparently idle and
purposeless inquiries about the Chinon events, the exiled Duke of
Orleans, Joan's first proclamation, and so on, but all this seemingly
random stuff had really been sown thick with hidden traps. But Joan
had fortunately escaped them all, some by the protecting luck which
attends upon ignorance and innocence, some by happy accident, the
others by force of her best and surest helper, the clear vision and
lightning intuitions of her extraordinary mind.
Now, then, this daily baiting and badgering of this friendless
girl, a captive in chains, was to continue a long, long
time--dignified sport, a kennel of mastiffs and bloodhounds harassing
a kitten--and I may as well tell you, upon sworn testimony, what it
was like from the first day to the last. When poor Joan had been in
her grave a quarter of a century, the Pope called together that great
court which was to re-examine her history, and whose just verdict
cleared her illustrious name from every spot and stain, and laid upon
the verdict and conduct of our Rouen tribunal the blight of its
everlasting execrations. Manchon and several of the judges who had
been members of our court were among the witnesses who appeared before
that Tribunal of Rehabilitation. Recalling these miserable proceedings
which I have been telling you about, Manchon testified thus:--here you
have it, all in fair print in the unofficial history:
When Joan spoke of her apparitions she was interrupted at almost
every word. They wearied her with long and multiplied interrogatories
upon all sorts of things. Almost every day the interrogatories of the
morning lasted three or four hours; then from these morning
interrogatories they extracted the particularly difficult and subtle
points, and these served as material for the afternoon
interrogatories, which lasted two or three hours. Moment by moment
they skipped from one subject to another; yet in spite of this she
always responded with an astonishing wisdom and memory. She often
corrected the judges, saying, "But I have already answered that once
before--ask the recorder," referring them to me.
And here is the testimony of one of Joan's judges. Remember, these
witnesses are not talking about two or three days, they are talking
about a tedious long procession of days:
They asked her profound questions, but she extricated herself quite
well. Sometimes the questioners changed suddenly and passed on to
another subject to see if she would not contradict herself. They
burdened her with long interrogatories of two or three hours, from
which the judges themselves went forth fatigued. From the snares with
which she was beset the expertest man in the world could not have
extricated himself but with difficulty. She gave her responses with
great prudence; indeed to such a degree that during three weeks I
believed she was inspired.
Ah, had she a mind such as I have described? You see what these
priests say under oath--picked men, men chosen for their places in
that terrible court on account of their learning, their experience,
their keen and practised intellects, and their strong bias against the
prisoner. They make that poor country-girl out the match, and more
than the match, of the sixty-two trained adepts. Isn't it so? They
from the University of Paris, she from the sheepfold and the
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 her!
Joan's eyes kindled, and she rose; rose and stood, fine and noble,
and faced toward the Bishop and said:
"Take care what you do, my lord, you who are my judge, for you
take a terrible responsibility on yourself and you presume too far."
It made a great stir, and Cauchon burst out upon her with an awful
threat--the threat of instant condemnation unless she obeyed. That
made the very bones of my body turn cold, and I saw cheeks about me
blanch--for it meant fire and the stake! But Joan, still standing,
answered him back, proud and undismayed:
"Not all the clergy in Paris and Rouen could condemn me, lacking
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."
The Bishop stormed out again:
"Once more I command you to--"
Joan cut in with a nonchalant "Passez outre," and Cauchon retired
from the struggle; but he retired with some credit this time, for he
offered a compromise, and Joan, always clear-headed, saw protection
for herself in it and promptly and willingly accepted it. She was to
swear to tell the truth "as touching the matters et down in the procŠs
verbal." They could not sail her outside of definite limits, now; her
course was over a charted sea, henceforth. The Bishop had granted more
than he had intended, and more than he would honestly try to abide by.
By command, Beaupere resumed his examination of the accused. It
being Lent, there might be a chance to catch her neglecting some
detail of her religious duties. I could have told him he would fail
there. Why, religion was her life!
"Since when have you eaten or drunk?"
If the least thing had passed her lips in the nature of sustenance,
neither her youth nor the fact that she was being half starved in her
prison could save her from dangerous suspicion of contempt for the
commandments of the Church.
"I have done neither since yesterday at noon."
The priest shifted to the Voices again.
"When have you heard your Voice?"
"Yesterday and to-day."
"At what time?"
"Yesterday it was in the morning."
"What were you doing then?"
"I was asleep and it woke me."
"By touching your arm?"
"No, without touching me."
"Did you thank it? Did you kneel?"
He had Satan in his mind, you see; and was hoping, perhaps, that
by and by it could be shown that she had rendered homage to the arch
enemy of God and man.
"Yes, I thanked it; and knelt in my bed where I was chained, and
joined my hands and begged it to implore God's help for me so that I
might have light and instruction as touching the answers I should give
"Then what did the Voice say?"
"It told me to answer boldly, and God would help me." Then she
turned toward Cauchon and said, "You say that you are my judge; now I
tell you again, take care what you do, for in truth I am sent of God
and you are putting yourself in great danger."
Beaupere asked her if the Voice's counsels were not fickle and
"No. It never contradicts itself. This very day it has told me
again to answer boldly."
"Has it forbidden you to answer only part of what is asked you?"
"I will tell you nothing as to that. I have revelations touching
the King my master, and those I will not tell you." Then she was
stirred by a great emotion, and the tears sprang to her eyes and she
spoke out as with strong conviction, saying:
"I believe wholly--as wholly as I believe the Christian faith and
that God has redeemed us from the fires of hell, that God speaks to
me by that Voice!"
Being questioned further concerning the Voice, she said she was
not at liberty to tell all she knew.
"Do you think God would be displeased at your telling the whole
"The Voice has commanded me to tell the King certain things, and
not you--and some very lately--even last night; things which I would
he knew. He would be more easy at his dinner."
"Why doesn't the Voice speak to the King itself, as it did when you
were with him? Would it not if you asked it?"
"I do not know if it be the wish of God." She was pensive a moment
or two, busy with her thoughts and far away, no doubt; then she added
a remark in which Beaupere, always watchful, always alert, detected a
possible opening--a chance to set a trap. Do you think he jumped at it
instantly, betraying the joy he had in his mind, as a young hand at
craft and artifice would do?
No, oh, no, you could not tell that he had noticed the remark at
all. He slid indifferently away from it at once, and began to ask idle
questions about other things, so as to slip around and spring on it
from behind, so to speak: tedious and empty questions as to whether
the Voice had told her she would escape from this prison; and if it
had furnished answers to be used by her in to-day's seance; if it was
accompanied with a glory of light; if it had eyes, etc. That risky
remark of Joan's was this:
"Without the Grace of God I could do nothing."
The court saw the priest's game, and watched his play with a cruel
eagerness. Poor Joan was grown dreamy and absent; possibly she was
tired. Her life was in imminent danger, and she did not suspect it.
The time was ripe now, and Beaupere quietly and stealthily sprang his
"Are you in a state of Grace?"
Ah, we had two or three honorable brave men in that pack of
judges; and Jean Lefevre was one of them. He sprang to his feet and
"It is a terrible question The accused is not obliged to answer
Cauchon's face flushed black with anger to see this plank flung to
the perishing child, and he shouted:
"Silence! and take your seat. The accused will answer the
There was no hope, no way out of the dilemma; for whether she said
yes or whether she said no, it would be all the same--a disastrous
answer, for the Scriptures had said one cannot know this thing. Think
what hard hearts they were to set this fatal snare for that ignorant
young girl and be proud of such work and happy in it. It was a
miserable moment for me while we waited; it seemed a year. All the
house showed excitement; and mainly it was glad excitement. Joan
looked out upon these hungering faces with innocent, untroubled eyes,
and then humbly and gently she brought out that immortal answer which
brushed the formidable snare away as it had been but a cobweb:
"If I be not in a state of Grace, I pray God place me in it; if I
be in it, I pray God keep me so."
Ah, you will never see an effect like that; no, not while you live.
For a space there was the silence of the grave. Men looked wondering
into each other's faces, and some were awed and crossed themselves;
and I heard Lefevre mutter:
"It was beyond the wisdom of man to devise that answer. Whence
comes this child's amazing inspirations?"
Beaupere presently took up his work again, but the humiliation of
his defeat weighed upon him, and he made but a rambling and dreary
business of it, he not being able to put any heart in it.
He asked Joan a thousand questions about her childhood and about
the oak wood, and the fairies, and the children's games and romps
under our dear Arbre fee de Bourlemont, and this stirring up of old
memories broke her voice and made her cry a little, but she bore up
as well as she could, and answered everything.
Then the priest finished by touching again upon the matter of her
apparel--a matter which was never to be lost sight of in this
still-hunt for this innocent creature's life, but kept always hanging
over her, a menace charged with mournful possibilities:
"Would you like a woman's dress?"
"Indeed yes, if I may go out from this prison--but here, no."
Chapter 8 Joan Tells of Her Visions
THE COURT met next on Monday the 27th. Would you believe it? The
Bishop ignored the contract limiting the examination to matters set
down in the procŠs verbal and again commanded Joan to take the oath
without reservations. She said:
"You should be content I have sworn enough."
She stood her ground, and Cauchon had to yield.
The examination was resumed, concerning Joan's Voices.
"You have said that you recognized them as being the voices of
angels the third time that you heard them. What angels were they?"
"St. Catherine and St. Marguerite."
"How did you know that it was those two saints? How could you tell
the one from the other?"
"I know it was they; and I know how to distinguish them."
"By what sign?"
"By their manner of saluting me. I have been these seven years
under their direction, and I knew who they were because they told
"Whose was the first Voice that came to you when you were thirteen
"It was the Voice of St. Michael. I saw him before my eyes; and he
was not alone, but attended by a cloud of angels."
"Did you see the archangel and the attendant angels in the body, or
in the spirit?"
"I saw them with the eyes of my body, just as I see you; and when
they went away I cried because they did not take me with them."
It made me see that awful shadow again that fell dazzling white
upon her that day under l'Arbre Fe de Bourlemont, and it made me
shiver again, though it was so long ago. It was really not very long
gone by, but it seemed so, because so much had happened since.
"In what shape and form did St. Michael appear?"
"As to that, I have not received permission to speak."
"What did the archangel say to you that first time?"
"I cannot answer you to-day."
Meaning, I think, that she would have to get permission of her
Presently, after some more questions as to the revelations which
had been conveyed through her to the King, she complained of the
unnecessity of all this, and said:
"I will say again, as I have said before many times in these
sittings, that I answered all questions of this sort before the court
at Poitiers, and I would hat you wold bring here the record of that
court and read from that. Prithee, send for that book."
There was no answer. It was a subject that had to be got around
and put aside. That book had wisely been gotten out of the way, for
it contained things which would be very awkward here.
Among them was a decision that Joan's mission was from God,
whereas it was the intention of this inferior court to show that it
was from the devil; also a decision permitting Joan to wear male
attire, whereas it was the purpose of this court to make the male
attire do hurtful work against her.
"How was it that you were moved to come into France--by your own
"Yes, and by command of God. But that it was His will I would note
have come. I would sooner have had my body torn in sunder by horses
than come, lacking that."
Beaupere shifted once more to the matter of the male attire, now,
and proceeded to make a solemn talk about it. That tried Joan's
patience; and presently she interrupted and said:
"It is a trifling thing and of no consequence. And I did not put it
on by counsel of any man, but by command of God."
"Robert de Baudricourt did not order you to wear it?"
"Did you think you did well in taking the dress of a man?"
"I did well to do whatsoever thing God commanded me to do."
"But in this particular case do you think you did well in taking
the dress of a man?"
"I have done nothing but by command of God."
Beaupere made various attempts to lead her into contradictions of
herself; also to put her words and acts in disaccord with the
Scriptures. But it was lost time. He did not succeed. He returned to
her visions, the light which shone about them, her relations with the
King, and so on.
"Was there an angel above the King's head the first time you saw
"By the Blessed Mary!--"
She forced her impatience down, and finished her sentence with
tranquillity: "If there was one I did not see it."
"Was there light?"
"There were more than three thousand soldiers there, and five
hundred torches, without taking account of spiritual light."
"What made the King believe in the revelations which you brought
"He had signs; also the counsel of the clergy."
"What revelations were made to the King?"
"You will not get that out of me this year."
Presently she added: "During three weeks I was questioned by the
clergy at Chinon and Poitiers.
The King had a sign before he would believe; and the clergy were
of opinion that my acts were good and not evil."
The subject was dropped now for a while, and Beaupere took up the
matter of the miraculous sword of Fierbois to see if he could not find
a chance there to fix the crime of sorcery upon Joan.
"How did you know that there was an ancient sword buried in the
ground under the rear of the altar of the church of St. Catherine of
Joan had no concealments to make as to this:
"I knew the sword was there because my Voices told me so; and I
sent to ask that it be given to me to carry in the wars. It seemed to
me that it was not very deep in the ground. The clergy of the church
caused it to be sought for and dug up; and they polished it, and the
rust fell easily off from it."
"Were you wearing it when you were taken in battle at CompiŠgne?"
"No. But I wore it constantly until I left St. Denis after the
attack upon Paris."
This sword, so mysteriously discovered and so long and so
constantly victorious, was suspected of being under the protection of
"Was that sword blest? What blessing had been invoked upon it?"
"None. I loved it because it was found in the church of St.
Catherine, for I loved that church very dearly."
She loved it because it had been built in honor of one of her
"Didn't you lay it upon the altar, to the end that it might be
lucky?" (The altar of St. Denis.) "No."
"Didn't you pray that it might be made lucky?"
"Truly it were no harm to wish that my harness might be
"Then it was not that sword which you wore in the field of
CompiŠgne? What sword did you wear there?"
"The sword of the Burgundian Franquet d'Arras, whom I took
prisoner in the engagement at Lagny. I kept it because it was a good
war-sword--good to lay on stout thumps and blows with."
She said that quite simply; and the contrast between her delicate
little self and the grim soldier words which she dropped with such
easy familiarity from her lips made many spectators smile.
"What is become of the other sword? Where is it now?"
"Is that in the procŠs verbal?"
Beaupere did not answer.
"Which do you love best, your banner or your sword?"
Her eye lighted gladly at the mention of her banner, and she cried
"I love my banner best--oh, forty times more than the sword!
Sometimes I carried it myself when I charged the enemy, to avoid
killing any one." Then she added, na‹vely, and with again that
curious contrast between her girlish little personality and her
subject, "I have never killed anyone."
It made a great many smile; and no wonder, when you consider what
a gentle and innocent little thing she looked. One could hardly
believe she had ever even seen men slaughtered, she look so little
fitted for such things.
"In the final assault at Orleans did you tell your soldiers that
the arrows shot by the enemy and the stones discharged from their
catapults would not strike any one but you?"
"No. And the proof its, that more than a hundred of my men were
struck. I told them to have no doubts and no fears; that they would
raise the siege. I was wounded in the neck by an arrow in the assault
upon the bastille that commanded the bridge, but St. Catherine
comforted me and I was cured in fifteen days without having to quit
the saddle and leave my work."
"Did you know that you were going to be wounded?"
"Yes; and I had told it to the King beforehand. I had it from my
"When you took Jargeau, why did you not put its commandant to
"I offered him leave to go out unhurt from the place, with all his
garrison; and if he would not I would take it by storm."
"And you did, I believe."
"Had your Voices counseled you to take it by storm?"
"As to that, I do not remember."
Thus closed a weary long sitting, without result. Every device that
could be contrived to trap Joan into wrong thinking, wrong doing, or
disloyalty to the Church, or sinfulness as a little child at home or
later, had been tried, and none of them had succeeded. She had come
unscathed through the ordeal.
Was the court discouraged? No. Naturally it was very much
surprised, very much astonished, to find its work baffling and
difficult instead of simple and easy, but it had powerful allies in
the shape of hunger, cold, fatigue, persecution, deception, and
treachery; and opposed to this array nothing but a defenseless and
ignorant girl who must some time or other surrender to bodily and
mental exhaustion or get caught in one of the thousand traps set for
And had the court made no progress during these seemingly
resultless sittings? Yes. It had been feeling its way, groping here,
groping there, and had found one or two vague trails which might
freshen by and by and lead to something. The male attire, for
instance, and the visions and Voices. Of course no one doubted that
she had seen supernatural beings and been spoken to and advised by
them. And of course no one doubted that by supernatural help miracles
had been done by Joan, such as choosing out the King in a crowd when
she had never seen him before, and her discovery of the sword buried
under the altar. It would have been foolish to doubt these things, for
we all know that the air is full of devils and angels that are visible
to traffickers in magic on the one hand and to the stainlessly holy on
the other; but what many and perhaps most did doubt was, that Joan's
visions, Voices, and miracles came from God. It was hoped that in time
they could be proven to have been of satanic origin. Therefore, as
you see, the court's persistent fashion of coming back to that
subject every little while and spooking around it and prying into it
was not to pass the time--it had a strictly business end in view.
Chapter 9 Her Sure Deliverance Foretold
THE NEXT sitting opened on Thursday the first of March.
Fifty-eight judges present--the others resting.
As usual, Joan was required to take an oath without reservations.
She showed no temper this time. She considered herself well
buttressed by the procŠs verbal compromise which Cauchon was so
anxious to repudiate and creep out of; so she merely refused,
distinctly and decidedly; and added, in a spirit of fairness and
"But as to matters set down in the procŠs verbal, I will freely
tell the whole truth--yes, as freely and fully as if I were before the
Here was a chance! We had two or three Popes, then; only one of
them could be the true Pope, of course. Everybody judiciously shirked
the question of which was the true Pope and refrained from naming him,
it being clearly dangerous to go into particulars in this matter. Here
was an opportunity to trick an unadvised girl into bringing herself
into peril, and the unfair judge lost no time in taking advantage of
it. He asked, in a plausibly indolent and absent way:
"Which one do you consider to be the true Pope?"
The house took an attitude of deep attention, and so waited to hear
the answer and see the prey walk into the trap. But when the answer
came it covered the judge with confusion, and you could see many
people covertly chuckling. For Joan asked in a voice and manner which
almost deceived even me, so innocent it seemed:
"Are there two?"
One of the ablest priests in that body and one of the best swearers
there, spoke right out so that half the house heard him, and said:
"By God, it was a master stroke!"
As soon as the judge was better of his embarrassment he came back
to the charge, but was prudent and passed by Joan's question:
"Is it true that you received a letter from the Count of Armagnac
asking you which of the three Popes he ought to obey?"
"Yes, and answered it."
Copies of both letters were produced and read. Joan said that hers
had not been quite strictly copied. She said she had received the
Count's letter when she was just mounting her horse; and added:
"So, in dictating a word or two of reply I said I would try to
answer him from Paris or somewhere where I could be at rest."
She was asked again which Pope she had considered the right one.
"I was not able to instruct the Count of Armagnac as to which one
he ought to obey"; then she added, with a frank fearlessness which
sounded fresh and wholesome in that den of trimmers and shufflers,
"but as for me, I hold that we are bound to obey our Lord the Pope who
is at Rome."
The matter was dropped. They they produced and read a copy of
Joan's first effort at dictating--her proclamation summoning the
English to retire from the siege of Orleans and vacate France--truly
a great and fine production for an unpractised girl of seventeen.
"Do you acknowledge as your own the document which has just been
"Yes, except that there are errors in it--words which make me give
myself too much importance." I saw what was coming; I was troubled
and ashamed. "For instance, I did not say 'Deliver up to the Maid'
(rendez … la Pucelle); I said 'Deliver up to the King' (rendez au
Roi); and I did not call myself 'Commander-in-Chief' (chef de guerre).
All those are words which my secretary substituted; or mayhap he
misheard me or forgot what I said."
She did not look at me when she said it: she spared me that
embarrassment. I hadn't misheard her at all, and hadn't forgotten. I
changed her language purposely, for she was Commander-in-Chief and
entitled to call herself so, and it was becoming and proper, too; and
who was going to surrender anything to the King?--at that time a
stick, a cipher? If any surrendering was done, it would be to the
noble Maid of Vaucouleurs, already famed and formidable though she had
not yet struck a blow.
Ah, there would have been a fine and disagreeable episode (for me)
there, if that pitiless court had discovered that the very scribbler
of that piece of dictation, secretary to Joan of Arc, was present--and
not only present, but helping build the record; and not only that, but
destined at a far distant day to testify against lies and perversions
smuggled into it by Cauchon and deliver them over to eternal infamy!
"Do you acknowledge that you dictated this proclamation?"
"Have you repented of it? Do you retract it?"
Ah, then she was indignant!
"No! Not even these chains"--and she shook them--"not even these
chains can chill the hopes that I uttered there. And more!"--she
rose, and stood a moment with a divine strange light kindling in her
face, then her words burst forth as in a flood--"I warn you now that
before seven years a disaster will smite the English, oh, many fold
greater than the fall of Orleans! and--"
"Silence! Sit down"
"--and then, soon after, they will lose all France!"
Now consider these things. The French armies no longer existed.
The French cause was standing still, our King was standing still,
there was no hint that by and by the Constable Richemont would come
forward and take up the great work of Joan of Arc and finish it. In
face of all this, Joan made that prophecy--made it with perfect
confidence--and it came true. For within five years Paris
fell--1436--and our King marched into it flying the victor's flag. So
the first part of the prophecy was then fulfilled--in fact, almost the
entire prophecy; for, with Paris in our hands, the fulfilment of the
rest of it was assured.
Twenty years later all France was ours excepting a single
Now that will remind you of an earlier prophecy of Joan's. At the
time that she wanted to take Paris and could have done it with ease
if our King had but consented, she said that that was the golden
time; that, with Paris ours, all France would be ours in six months.
But if this golden opportunity to recover France was wasted, said
she, "I give you twenty years to do it in."
She was right. After Paris fell, in 1436, the rest of the work had
to be done city by city, castle by castle, and it took twenty years to
Yes, it was the first day of March, 1431, there in the court, that
she stood in the view of everybody and uttered that strange and
incredible prediction. Now and then, in this world, somebody's
prophecy turns up correct, but when you come to look into it there is
sure to be considerable room for suspicion that the prophecy was made
after the fact. But here the matter is different. There in that court
Joan's prophecy was set down in the official record at the hour and
moment of its utterance, years before the fulfilment, and there you
may read it to this day.
Twenty-five years after Joan's death the record was produced in
the great Court of the Rehabilitation and verified under oath by
Manchon and me, and surviving judges of our court confirmed the
exactness of the record in their testimony.
Joan' startling utterance on that now so celebrated first of March
stirred up a great turmoil, and it was some time before it quieted
down again. Naturally, everybody was troubled, for a prophecy is a
grisly and awful thing, whether one thinks it ascends from hell or
comes down from heaven.
All that these people felt sure of was, that the inspiration back
of it was genuine and puissant.
They would have given their right hands to know the source of it.
At last the questions began again.
"How do you know that those things are going to happen?"
"I know it by revelation. And I know it as surely as I know that
you sit here before me."
This sort of answer was not going to allay the spreading
uneasiness. Therefore, after some further dallying the judge got the
subject out of the way and took up one which he could enjoy more.
"What languages do your Voices speak?"
"St. Marguerite, too?"
"Verily; why not? She is on our side, not on the English!"
Saints and angels who did not condescend to speak English is a
grave affront. They could not be brought into court and punished for
contempt, but the tribunal could take silent note of Joan's remark and
remember it against her; which they did. It might be useful by and by.
"Do your saints and angels wear jewelry?--crowns, rings,
To Joan, questions like these were profane frivolities and not
worthy of serious notice; she answered indifferently. But the
question brought to her mind another matter, and she turned upon
Cauchon and said:
"I had two rings. They have been taken away from me during my
captivity. You have one of them. It is the gift of my brother. Give
it back to me. If not to me, then I pray that it be given to the
The judges conceived the idea that maybe these rings were for the
working of enchantments.
Perhaps they could be made to do Joan a damage.
"Where is the other ring?"
"The Burgundians have it."
"Where did you get it?"
"My father and mother gave it to me."
"It is plain and simple and has 'Jesus and Mary' engraved upon it."
Everybody could see that that was not a valuable equipment to do
devil's rok with. So that trail was not worth following. Still, to
make sure, one of the judges asked Joan if she had ever cured sick
people by touching them with the ring. She said no.
"Now as concerning the fairies, that were used to abide near by
Domremy whereof there are many reports and traditions. It is said
that your godmother surprised these creatures on a summer's night
dancing under the tree called l"Arbre Fee de Bourlemont. Is it not
possible that your pretended saints and angles are but those
"Is that in your procŠs?"
She made no other answer.
"Have you not conversed with St. Marguerite and St. Catherine
under that tree?"
"I do not know."
"Or by the fountain near the tree?"
"What promises did they make you?"
"None but such as they had God's warrant for."
"But what promises did they make?"
"That is not in your procŠs; yet I will say this much: they told me
that the King would become master of his kingdom in spite of his
"And what else?"
There was a pause; then she said humbly:
"They promised to lead me to Paradise."
If faces do really betray what is passing in men's minds, a fear
came upon many in that house, at this time, that maybe, after all, a
chosen servant and herald of God was here being hunted to her death.
The interest deepened. Movements and whisperings ceased: the stillness
became almost painful.
Have you noticed that almost from the beginning the nature of the
questions asked Joan showed that in some way or other the questioner
very often already knew his fact before he asked his question? Have
you noticed that somehow or other the questioners usually knew just
how and were to search for Joan's secrets; that they really knew the
bulk of her privacies--a fact not suspected by her--and that they had
no task before them but to trick her into exposing those secrets?
Do you rememberLoyseleur, the hypocrite, the treacherous priest,
tool of Cauchon? Do you remember that under the sacred seal of the
confessional joan freely and trustingly revealed ot him everything
concerning her history save only a few things regarding her
supernatural revelations which her Voices had forbidden her to tell to
any one--and that the unjust judge, Cauchon, was a hidden listener all
Now you understand how the inquisitors were able to devise that
long array of minutely prying questions; questions whose subtlety and
ingenuity and penetration are astonishing until we come to remember
Loyseleur's performance and recognize their source. Ah, Bishop of
Beauvais, you are now lamenting this cruel iniquity these many years
in hell! Yes verily, unless one has come to your help. There is but
one among the redeemed that would do it; and it is futile to hope that
that one has not already done it--Joan of Arc.
We will return to the questionings.
"Did they make you still another promise?"
"Yes, but that is not in your procŠs. I will not tell it now, but
before three months I will tell it you."
The judge seems to know the matter he is asking about, already;
one gets this idea from his next question.
"Did your Voices tell you that you would be liberated before three
Joan often showed a little flash of surprise at the good guessing
of the judges, and she showed one this time. I was frequently in
terror to find my mind (which Icould not control) criticizing the
Voices and saying, "They counsel her to speak boldly--a thing which
she would do without any suggestion from them or anybody else--but
when it comes to telling her any useful thing, such as how these
conspirators manage to guess their way so skilfully into her affairs,
they are always off attending to some other business."
I am reverent by nature; and when such thoughts swept through my
head they made me cold with fear, and if there was a storm and
thunder at the time, I was so ill that I could but with difficulty
abide at my post and do my work.
"That is not in your procŠs. I do not know when I shall be set
free, but some who wish me out of this world will go from it before
It made some of them shiver.
"Have your Voices told you that you will be delivered from this
Without a doubt they had, and the judge knew it before he asked
"Ask me again in three months and I will tell you." She said it
with such a happy look, the tired prisoner! And I? And Noel
Rainguesson, drooping yonder?--why, the floods of joy went streaming
through us from crown to sole! It was all that we could do to hold
still and keep from making fatal exposure of our feelings.
She was to be set free in three months. That was what she meant;
we saw it. The Voices had told her so, and told her true--true to the
very day--May 30th. But we know now that they had mercifully hidden
from her how she was to be set free, but left her in ignorance. Home
That day was our understanding of it--Noel's and mine; that was
our dream; and now we would count the days, the hours, the minutes.
They would fly lightly along; they would soon be over.
Yes, we would carry our idol home; and there, far from the pomps
and tumults of the world, we would take up our happy life again and
live it out as we had begun it, in the free air and the sunshine, with
the friendly sheep and the friendly people for comrades, and the grace
and charm of the meadows, the woods, and the river always before our
eyes and their deep peace in our hearts. Yes, that was our dream, the
dream that carried us bravely through that three months to an exact
and awful fulfilment, the though of which would have killed us, I
think, if we had foreknown it and been obliged to bear the burden of
it upon our hearts the half of those weary days.
Our reading of the prophecy was this: We believed the King's soul
was going to be smitten with remorse; and that he would privately
plan a rescue with Joan's old lieutenants, D'Alenon and the Bastard
and La Hire, and that this rescue woud take place at the end of the
three months. So we made up our minds to be ready and take a hand in
In the present and also in later sittings Joan was urged to name
the exact day of her deliverance; but she could not do that. She had
not the permission of her Voices. Moreover, the Voices themselves did
not name the precise day. Ever since the fulfilment of the prophecy, I
have believed that Joan had the idea that her deliverance was going to
dome in the form of death. But not that death! Divine as she was,
dauntless as she was in battle, she was human also. She was not solely
a saint, an angel, she was a clay-made girl also--as human a girl as
any in the world, and full of a human girl's sensitiveness and
tenderness and elicacies. And so, that death! No, she could not have
lived the three months with that one before her, I think. You remember
that the first time she was wounded she was frightened, and cried,
just as any other girl of seventeen would have done, although she had
known for eighteen days that she was going to be wounded on that very
day. No, she was not afraid of any ordinary death, and an ordinary
death was what she believed the prophecy of deliverance meant, I
think, for her face showed happiness, not horror, when she uttered it.
Now I will explain why I think as I do. Five weeks before she was
captured in the battle of CompiŠgne, her Voices told her what was
coming. They did not tell her the day or the place, but said she
would be taken prisoner and that it would be before the feast of St.
John. She begged that death, certain and swift, should be her fate,
and the captivity brief; for she was a free spirit, and dreaded the
confinement. The Voices made no promise, but only told her to bear
whatever came. Now as they did not refuse the swift death, a hopeful
young thing like Joan would naturally cherish that fact and make the
most of it, allowing it to grow and establish itself in her mind. And
so now that she was told she was to be "delivered" in three onths, I
think she believed it meant that she would die in her bed in the
prison, and that that was why she looked happy and content--the gates
of Paradise standing open for her, the time so short, you see, her
troubles so soon to be over, her reward so close at hand. Yes, that
would make her look happy, that would make her patient and bold, and
able to fight her fight out like a soldier. Save herself if she could,
of course, and try for the best, for that was the way she was made;
but die with her face to the front if die she must.
Then later, when she charged Cauchon with trying to kill her with
a poisoned fish, her notion that she was to be "delivered" by death
in the prison--if she had it, and I believe she had--would naturally
be greatly strengthened, you see.
But I am wandering from the trial. Joan was asked to definitelyk
name the time that she would be delivered from prison.
"I have always said that I was not permitted to tell you
everything. I am to be set free, and I desire to ask leave of my
Voices to tell you the day. That is why I wish for delay."
"Do your Voices forbid you to tell the truth?"
"Is it that you wish to know matters concerning the King of
France? I tell you again that he will regain his kingdom, and that I
know it as well as I know that you sit here before me in this
tribunal." She sighed and, after a little pause, added: "I should be
dead but for this revelation, which comforts me always."
Some trivial questions were asked her about St. Michael's dress
and appearance. She answered them with dignity, but one saw that they
gave her pain. After a little she said:
"I have great joy in seeing him, for when I see him I have the
feeling that I am not in mortal sin."
She added, "Sometimes St. Marguerite and St. Catherine have
allowed me to confess myself to them."
Here was a possible chance to set a successful snare for her
"When you confessed were you in mortal sin, do you think?"
But her reply did her no hurt. So the inquiry was shifted once more
to the revelations made to the King--secrets which the court had
tried again and again to force out of Joan, but without success.
"Now as to the sign given to the King--"
"I have already told you that I will tell you nothing about it."
"Do you know what the sign was?"
"As to that, you will not find out from me."
All this refers to Joan's secret interview with the King--held
apart, though two or three others were present. It was known--through
Loyseleur, of course--that this sign was a crown and was a pledge of
the verity of Joan's mission. But that is all a mystery until this
day--the nature of the crown, I mean--and will remain a mystery to
the end of time. We can never know whether a real crown descended
upon the King's head, or only a symbol, the mystic fabric of a vision.
"Did you see a crown upon the King's head when he received the
"I cannot tell you as to that, without perjury."
"Did the King have that crown at Rheims?"
"I think the King put upon his head a crown which he found there;
but a much richer one was brought him afterward."
"Have you seen that one?"
"I cannot tell you, without perjury. But whether I have seen it or
not, I have heard say that it was rich and magnificent."
They went on and pestered her to weariness about that mysterious
crown, but they got nothing more out of her. The sitting closed. A
long, hard day for all of us.
Chapter 10 The Inquisitors at Their Wits' End
THE COURT rested a day, then took up work again on Saturday, the
third of March.
This was one of our stormiest sessions. The whole court was out of
patience; and with good reason. These threescore distinguished
churchmen, illustrious tacticians, veteran legal gladiators, had left
important posts where their supervision was needed, to journey hither
from various regions and accomplish a most simple and easy
matter--condemn and send to death a country-lass of nineteen who could
neither read nor write, knew nothing of the wiles and perplexities of
legal procedure, could not call a single witness in her defense, was
allowed no advocate or adviser, and must conduct her case by herself
against a hostile judge and a packed jury. In two hours she would be
hopelessly entangled, routed, defeated, convicted. Nothing could be
more certain that this--so they thought. But it was a mistake. The two
hours had strung out into days; what promised to be a skirmish had
expanded into a siege; the thing which had looked so easy had proven
to be surprisingly difficult; the light victim who was to have been
puffed away like a feather remained planted like a rock; and on top of
all this, if anybody had a right to laugh it was the country-lass and
not the court.
She was not doing that, for that was not her spirit; but others
were doing it. The whole town was laughing in its sleeve, and the
court knew it, and its dignity was deeply hurt. The members could not
hide their annoyance.
And so, as I have said, the session was stormy. It was easy to see
that these men had made up their minds to force words from Joan
to-day which should shorten up her case and bring it to a prompt
conclusion. It shows that after all their experience with her they
did not know her yet.
They went into the battle with energy. They did not leave the
questioning to a particular member; no, everybody helped. They
volleyed questions at Joan from all over the house, and sometimes so
many were talking at once that she had to ask them to deliver their
fire one at a time and not by platoons. The beginning was as usual:
"You are once more required to take the oath pure and simple."
"I will answer to what is in the procŠs verbal. When I do more, I
will choose the occasion for myself."
That old ground was debated and fought over inch by inch with
great bitterness and many threats. But Joan remained steadfast, and
the questionings had to shift to other matters. Half an hour was
spent over Joan's apparitions--their dress, hair, general appearance,
and so on--in the hope of fishing something of a damaging sort out of
the replies; but with no result.
Next, the male attire was reverted to, of course. After many
well-worn questions had been re-asked, one or two new ones were put
"Did not the King or the Queen sometimes ask you to quit the male
"That is not in your procŠs."
"Do you think you would have sinned if you had taken the dress of
"I have done best to serve and obey my sovereign Lord and Master."
After a while the matter of Joan's Standard was taken up, in the
hope of connecting magic and witchcraft with it.
"Did not your men copy your banner in their pennons?"
"The lancers of my guard did it. It was to distinguish them from
the rest of the forces. It was their own idea."
"Were they often renewed?"
"Yes. When the lances were broken they were renewed."
The purpose of the question unveils itself in the next one.
"Did you not say to your men that pennons made like your banner
would be lucky?"
The soldier-spirit in Joan was offended at this puerility. She drew
herself up, and said with dignity and fire: "What I said to them was,
'Ride those English down' and I did it myself."
Whenever she flung out a scornful speech like that at these French
menials in English livery it lashed them into a rage; and that is
what happened this time. There were ten, twenty, sometimes even
thirty of them on their feet at a time, storming at the prisoner
minute after minute, but Joan was not disturbed.
By and by there was peace, and the inquiry was resumed.
It was now sought to turn against Joan the thousand loving honors
which had been done her when she was raising France out of the dirt
and shame of a century of slavery and castigation.
"Did you not cause paintings and images of yourself to be made?"
"No. At Arras I saw a painting of myself kneeling in armor before
the King and delivering him a letter; but I caused no such things to
"Were not masses and prayers said in your honor?"
"If it was done it was not by my command. But if any prayed for me
I think it was no harm."
"Did the French people believe you were sent of God?"
"As to that, I know not; but whether they believed it or not, I was
not the less sent of God."
"If they thought you were sent of God, do you think it was well
"If they believed it, their trust was not abused."
"What impulse was it, think you, that moved the people to kiss
your hands, your feet, and your vestments?"
"They were glad to see me, and so they did those things; and I
could not have prevented them if I had had the heart. Those poor
people came lovingly to me because I had not done them any hurt, but
had done the best I could for them according to my strength."
See what modest little words she uses to describe that touching
specatcle, her marches about France walled in on both sides by the
adoring multitudes: "They were glad to see me." Glad?
Why they were transported with joy to see her. When they could not
kiss her hands or her feet, they knelt in the mire and kissed the
hoof-prints of her horse. They worshiped her; and that is what these
priests were trying to prove. It was nothing to them that she was not
to blame for what other people did. No, if she was worshiped, it was
enough; she was guilty of mortal sin.
Curious logic, one must say.
"Did you not stand sponsor for some children baptized at Rheims?"
"At Troyes I did, and at St. Denis; and I named the boys Charles,
in honor of the King, and the girls I named Joan."
"Did not women touch their rings to those which you wore?"
"Yes, many did, but I did not know their reason for it."
"At Rheims was your Standard carried into the church? Did you
stand at the altar with it in your hand at the Coronation?"
"In passing through the country did you confess yourself in the
Churches and receive the sacrament?"
"In the dress of a man?"
"Yes. But I do not remember that I was in armor."
It was almost a concession almost a half-surrender of the
permission granted her by the Church at Poitiers to dress as a man.
The wily court shifted to another matter: to pursue this one at this
time might call Joan's attention to her small mistake, and by her
native cleverness she might recover her lost ground. The tempestuous
session had worn her and drowsed her alertness.
"It is reported that you brought a dead child to life in the church
at Lagny. Was that in answer to your prayers?"
"As to that, I have no knowledge. Other young girls were praying
for the child, and I joined them and prayed also, doing no more than
"While we prayed it came to life, and cried. It had been dead three
days, and was as black as my doublet. It was straight way baptized,
then it passed from life again and was buried in holy ground."
"Why did you jump from the tower of Beaurevoir by night and try to
"I would go to the succor of CompiŠgne."
It was insinuated that this was an attempt to commit the deep
crime of suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the English.
"Did you not say that you would rather die than be delivered into
the power of the English?"
Joan answered frankly; without perceiving the trap:
"Yes; my words were, that I would rather that my soul be returned
unto God than that I should fall into the hands of the English."
It was now insinuated that when she came to, after jumping from
the tower, she was angry and blasphemed the name of God; and that she
did it again when she heard of the defection of the Commandant of
Soissons. She was hurt and indignant at this, and said:
"It is not true. I have never cursed. It is not my custom to
Chapter 11 The Court Reorganized for Assassination
A HALT was called. It was time. Cauchon was losing ground in the
fight, Joan was gaining it.
There were signs that here and there in the court a judge was being
softened toward Joan by her courage, her presence of mind, her
fortitude, her constancy, her piety, her simplicity and candor, her
manifest purity, the nobility of her character, her fine intelligence,
and the good brave fight she was making, all friendless and alone,
against unfair odds, and there was grave room for fear that this
softening process would spread further and presently bring Cauchon's
plans in danger.
Something must be done, and it was done. Cauchon was not
distinguished for compassion, but he now gave proof that he had it in
his character. He thought it pity to subject so many judges to the
prostrating fatigues of this trial when it could be conducted plenty
well enough by a handful of them. Oh, gentle judge! But he did not
remember to modify the fatigues for the little captive.
He would let all the judges but a handful go, but he would select
the handful himself, and he did.
He chose tigers. If a lamb or two got in, it was by oversight, not
intention; and he knew what to do with lambs when discovered.
He called a small council now, and during five days they sifted the
huge bulk of answers thus far gathered from Joan. They winnowed it of
all chaff, all useless matter--that is, all matter favorable to Joan;
they saved up all matter which could be twisted to her hurt, and out
of this they constructed a basis for a new trial which should have the
semblance of a continuation of the old one. Another change. It was
plain that the public trial had wrought damage: its proceedings had
been discussed all over the town and had moved many to pity the abused
prisoner. There should be no more of that. The sittings should be
secret hereafter, and no spectators admitted. So Noel could come no
more. I sent this news to him. I had not the heart to carry it myself.
I would give the pain a chance to modify before I should see him in
On the 10th of March the secret trial began. A week had passed
since I had seen Joan. Her appearance gave me a great shock. She
looked tired and weak. She was listless and far away, and her answers
showed that she was dazed and not able to keep perfect run of all that
was done and said. Another court would not have taken advantage of her
state, seeing that her life was at stake here, but would have
adjourned and spared her. Did this one? No; it worried her for hours,
and with a glad and eager ferocity, making all it could out of this
great chance, the first one it had had.
She was tortured into confusing herself concerning the "sign"
which had been given the King, and the next day this was continued
hour after hour. As a result, she made partial revealments of
particulars forbidden by her Voice3s; and seemed to me to state as
facts things which were but allegories and visions mixed with facts.
The third day she was brighter, and looked less worn. She was
almost her normal self again, and did her work well. Many attempts
were made to beguile her into saying indiscreet things, but she saw
the purpose in view and answered with tact and wisdom.
"Do you know if St. Catherine and St. Marguerite hate the
"They love whom Our Lord loves, and hate whom He hates."
"Does God hate the English?"
"Of the love or the hatred of God toward the English I know
nothing." Then she spoke up with the old martial ring in her voice
and the old audacity in her words, and added, "But I know this--that
God will send victory to the French, and that all the English will be
flung out of France but the dead ones!"
"Was God on the side of the English when they were prosperous in
"I do not know if God hates the French, but I think that He allowed
them to be chastised for their sins."
It was a sufficiently na‹ve way to account for a chastisement which
had now strung out for ninety-six years. But nobody found fault with
it. There was nobody there who would not punish a sinner ninety-six
years if he could, nor anybody there who would ever dream of such a
thing as the Lord's being any shade less stringent than men.
"Have you ever embraced St. Marguerite and St. Catherine?"
"Yes, both of them."
The evil face of Cauchon betrayed satisfaction when she said that.
"When you hung garlands upon L'Arbre Fee de Bourlemont, did you do
it in honor of your apparitions?"
Satisfaction again. No doubt Cauchon would take it for granted
that she hung them there out of sinful love for the fairies.
"When the saints appeared to you did you bow, did you make
reverence, did you kneel?"
"Yes; I did them the most honor and reverence that I could."
A good point for Cauchon if he could eventually make it appear
that these were no saints to whom she had done reverence, but devils
Now there was the matter of Joan's keeping her supernatural
commerce a secret from her parents. Much might be made of that. In
fact, particular emphasis had been given to it in a private remark
written in the margin of the procŠs: "She concealed her visions from
her parents and from every one." Possibly this disloyalty to her
parents might itself be the sign of the satanic source of her mission.
"Do you think it was right to go away to the wars without getting
your parents' leave? It is written one must honor his father and his
"I have obeyed them in all things but that. And for that I have
begged their forgiveness in a letter and gotten it."
"Ah, you asked their pardon? So you knew you were guilty of sin in
going without their leave!"
Joan was stirred. Her eyes flashed, and she exclaimed:
"I was commanded of God, and it was right to go! If I had had a
hundred fathers and mothers and been a king's daughter to boot I
would have gone."
"Did you never ask your Voices if you might tell your parents?"
"They were willing that I should tell them, but I would not for
anything have given my parents that pain."
Tgo the minds of the questioners this headstrong conduct savored
of pride. That sort of pride would move one to see sacrilegious
"Did not your Voices call you Daughter of God?"
Joan answered with simplicity, and unsuspiciously:
"Yes; before the siege of Orleans and since, they have several
times called me Daughter of God."
Further indications of pride and vanity were sought.
"What horse were you riding when you were captured? Who gave it
"You had other things--riches--of the King?"
"For myself I had horses and arms, and money to pay the service in
"Had you not a treasury?"
"Yes. Ten or twelve thousand crowns." Then she said with na‹vete,
"It was not a great sum to carry on a war with."
"You have it yet?"
"No. It is the King's money. My brothers hold it for him."
"What were the arms which you left as an offering in the church of
"My suit of silver mail and a sword."
"Did you put them there in order that they might be adored?"
"No. It was but an act of devotion. And it is the custom of men of
war who have been wounded to make such offering there. I had been
wounded before Paris."
Nothing appealed to these stony hearts, those dull
imaginations--not even this pretty picture, so simply drawn, of the
wounded girl-soldier hanging her toy harness there in curious
companionship with the grim and dusty iron mail of the historic
defenders of France. No, there was nothing in it for them; nothing,
unless evil and injury for that innocent creature could be gotten out
of it somehow.
"Which aided most--you the Standard, or the Standard you?"
"Whether it was the Standard or whether it was I, is nothing--the
victories came from God."
"But did you base your hopes of victory in yourself or in your
"In neither. In God, and not otherwise."
"Was not your Standard waved around the King's head at the
"No. It was not."
"Why was it that your Standard had place at the crowning of the
King in the Cathedral of Rheims, rather than those of the other
Then, soft and low, came that touching speech which will live as
long as language lives, and pass into all tongues, and move all
gentle hearts wheresoever it shall come, down to the latest day:
"It had borne the burden, it had earned the honor."  How simple
it is, and how beautiful. And how it beggars the studies eloquence of
the masters of oratory. Eloquence was a native gift of Joan of Arc; it
came from her lips without effort and without preparation. Her words
were as sublime as her deeds, as sublime as her character; they had
their source in a great heart and were coined in a great brain.
 What she said has been many times translated, but never with
success. There is a haunting pathos about the original which eludes
all efforts to convey it into our tongue. It is as subtle as an odor,
and escapes in the transmission. Her words were these:
"Il avait ete a la peine, c'etait bien raison qu'il fut a
Monseigneur Ricard, Honorary Vicar-General to the Archbishop of
Aix, finely speaks of it (Jeanne d'Arc la Venerable, page 197) as
"that sublime reply, enduring in the history of celebrated sayings
like the cry of a French and Christian soul wounded unto death in its
patriotism and its faith." -- TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 12 Joan's Master-Stroke Diverted
NOW, as a next move, this small secret court of holy assassins did
a thing so base that even at this day, in my old age, it is hard to
speak of it with patience.
In the beginning of her commerce with her Voices there at Domremy,
the child Joan solemnly devoted her life to God, vowing her pure body
and her pure soul to His service. You will remember that her parents
tried to stop her from going to the wars by haling her to the court at
Toul to compel her to make a marriage which she had never promised to
make--a marriage with our poor, good, windy, big, hard-fighting, and
most dear and lamented comrade, the Standard-Bearer, who fell in
honorable battle and sleeps with God these sixty years, peace to his
ashes! And you will remember how Joan, sixteen years old, stood up in
that venerable court and conducted her case all by herself, and tore
the poor Paladin's case to rags and blew it away with a breath; and
how the astonished old judge on the bench spoke of her as "this
You remember all that. Then think what I felt, to see these false
priests, here in the tribunal wherein Joan had fought a fourth lone
fight in three years, deliberately twist that matter entirely around
and try to make out that Joan haled the Paladin into court and
pretended that he had promised to marry her, and was bent on making
him do it.
Certainly there was no baseness that those people were ashamed to
stoop to in their hunt for that friendless girl's life. What they
wanted to show was this--that she had committed the sin of relapsing
from her vow and trying to violate it.
Joan detailed the true history of the case, but lost her temper as
she went along, and finished with some words for Cauchon which he
remembers yet, whether he is fanning himself in the world he belongs
in or has swindled his way into the other.
The rest of this day and part of the next the court labored upon
the old theme--the male attire. It was shabby work for those grave men
to be engaged in; for they well knew one of Joan's reasons for
clinging to the male dress was, that soldiers of the guard were
always present in her room whether she was asleep or awake, and that
the male dress was a better parotection for her modesty than the
The court knew that one of Joan's purposes had been the
deliverance of the exiled Duke of Orleans, and they were curious to
know how she had intended to manage it. Her plan was
characteristically businesslike, and her statement of it as
characteristically simple and straightforward:
"I would have taken English prisoners enough in France for his
ransom; and failing that, I would have invaded England and brought
him out by force."
That was just her way. If a thing was to be done, it was love
first, and hammer and tongs to follow; but no shilly-shallying
between. She added with a little sigh:
"If I had had my freedom three years, I would have delivered him."
"Have you the permission of your Voices to break out of prison
whenever you can?"
"I have asked their leave several times, but they have not given
I think it is as I have said, she expected the deliverance of
death, and within the prison walls, before the three months should
"Would you escape if you saw the doors open?"
She spoke up frankly and said:
"Yes--for I should see in that the permission of Our Lord. God
helps who help themselves, the proverb says. But except I thought I
had permission, I would not go."
Now, then, at this point, something occurred which convinces me,
every time I think of it--and it struck me so at the time--that for a
moment, at least, her hopes wandered to the King, and put into her
mind the same notion about her deliverance which Noel and I had
settled upon--a rescue by her old soldiers. I think the idea of the
rescue did occur to her, but only as a passing thought, and that it
quickly passed away.
Some remark of the Bishop of Beauvais moved her to remind him once
more that he was an unfair judge, and had no right to preside there,
and that he was putting himself in great danger.
"What danger?" he asked.
"I do not know. St. Catherine has promised me help, but I do not
know the form of it. I do not know whether I am to be delivered from
this prison or whether when you sent me to the scaffold there will
happen a trouble by which I shall be set free. Without much thought as
to this matter, I am of the opinion that it may be one or the other."
After a pause she added these words, memorable forever--words whose
meaning she may have miscaught, misunderstood; as to that we can never
know; words which she may have rightly understood, as to that, also,
we can never know; but words whose mystery fell away from them many a
year ago and revealed their meaning to all the world:
"But what my Voices have said clearest is, that I shall be
delivered by a great victory." She paused, my heart was beating fast,
for to me that great victory meant the sudden bursting in of our old
soldiers with the war-cry and clash of steel at the last moment and
the carrying off of Joan of Arc in triumph. But, oh, that thought had
such a short life! For now she raised her head and finished, with
those solemn words which men still so often quote and dwell
upon--words which filled me with fear, they sounded so like a
prediction. "And always they say 'Submit to whatever comes; do not
grieve for your martyrdom; from it you will ascend into the Kingdom of
Was she thinking of fire and the stake? I think not. I thought of
it myself, but I believe she was only thinking of this slow and cruel
martyrdom of chains and captivity and insult. Surely, martyrdom was
the right name for it.
It was Jean de la Fontaine who was asking the questions. He was
silling to make the most he could out of what she had said:
"As the Voices have told you you are going to Paradise, you feel
certain that that will happen and that you will not be damned in
hell. Is that so?"
"I believe what they told me. I know that I shall be saved."
"It is a weighty answer."
"To me the knowledge that I shall be saved is a great treasure."
"Do you think that after that revelation you could be able to
commit mortal sin?"
"As to that, I do not know. My hope for salvation is in holding
fast to my oath to keep by body and my soul pure."
"Since you know you are to be saved, do you think it necessary to
go to confession?"
The snare was ingeniously devised, but Joan's simple and humble
answer left it empty:
"One cannot keep his conscience too clean."
We were now arriving at the last day of this new trial. Joan had
come through the ordeal well. It had been a long and wearisome
struggle for all concerned. All ways had been tried to convict the
accused, and all had failed, thus far. The inquisitors were
thoroughly vexed and dissatisfied.
However, they resolved to make one more effort, put in one more
day's work. This was done--March 17th. Early in the sitting a notable
trap was set for Joan:
"Will you submit to the determination of the Church all your words
and deeds, whether good or bad?"
That was well planned. Joan was in imminent peril now. If she
should heedlessly say yes, it would put her mission itself upon
trial, and one would know how to decide its source and character
promptly. If she should say no, she would render herself chargeable
with the crime of heresy.
But she was equal to the occasion. She drew a distinct line of
separation between the Church's authority over her as a subject
member, and the matter of her mission. She said she loved the Church
and was ready to support the Christian faith with all her strength;
but as to the works done under her mission, those must be judged by
God alone, who had commanded them to be done.
The judge still insisted that she submit them to the decision of
the Church. She said:
"I will submit them to Our Lord who sent me. It would seem to me
that He and His Church are one, and that there should be no
difficulty about this matter." Then she turned upon the judge and
said, "Why do you make a difficulty when there is no room for any?"
Then Jean de la Fontaine corrected her notion that there was but
one Church. There were two--the Church Triumphant, which is God, the
saints, the angels, and the redeemed, and has its seat in heave; and
the Church Militant, which is our Holy Father the Pope, Vicar of God,
the prelates, the clergy and all good Christians and Catholics, the
which Church has its seat in the earth, is governed by the Holy
Spirit, and cannot err. "Will you not submit those matters to the
"I am come to the King of France from the Church Triumphant on
high by its commandant, and to that Church I will submit all those
things which I have done. For the Church Militant I have no other
The court took note of this straitly worded refusal, and would hope
to get profit out of it; but the matter was dropped for the present,
and a long chase was then made over the old hunting-ground--the
fairies, the visions, the male attire, and all that.
In the afternoon the satanic Bishop himself took the chair and
presided over the closing scenes of the trial. Along toward the
finish, this question was asked by one of the judges:
"You have said to my lord the Bishop that you would answer him as
you would answer before our Holy Father the Pope, and yet there are
several questions which you continually refuse to answer. Would you
not answer the Pope more fully than you have answered before my lord
of Beauvais? Would you not feel obliged to answer the Pope, who is the
Vicar of God, more fully?"
Now a thunder-clap fell out of a clear sky:
"Take me to the Pope. I will answer to everything that I ought to."
It made the Bishop's purple face fairly blanch with consternation.
If Joan had only known, if she had only know! She had lodged a mine
under this black conspiracy able to blow the Bishop's schemes to the
four winds of heaven, and she didn't know it. She had made that speech
by mere instinct, not suspecting what tremendous forces were hidden in
it, and there was none to tell her what she had done. I knew, and
Manchon knew; and if she had known how to read writing we could have
hoped to get the knowledge to her somehow; but speech was the only
way, and none was allowed to approach her near enough for that. So
there she sat, once more Joan of Arc the Victorious, but all
unconscious of it. She was miserably worn and tired, by the long day's
struggle and by illness, or she must have noticed the effect of that
speech and divined the reason of it.
She had made many master-strokes, but this was the master-stroke.
It was an appeal to Rome. It was her clear right; and if she had
persisted in it Cauchon's plot would have tumbled about his ears like
a house of cards, and he would have gone from that place the
worst-beaten man of the century. He was daring, but he was not daring
enough to stand up against that demand if Joan had urged it. But no,
she was ignorant, poor thing, and did not know what a blow she had
struck for life and liberty.
France was not the Church. Rome had no interest in the destruction
of this messenger of God.
Rome would have given her a fair trial, and that was all that her
cause needed. From that trial she would have gone forth free, and
honored, and blessed.
But it was not so fated. Cauchon at once diverted the questions to
other matters and hurried the trial quickly to an end.
As Joan moved feebly away, dragging her chains, I felt stunned and
dazed, and kept saying to myself, "Such a little while ago she said
the saving word and could have gone free; and now, there she goes to
her death; yes, it is to her death, I know it, I feel it. They will
double the guards; they will never let any come near her now between
this and her condemnation, lest she get a hint and speak that word
again. This is the bitterest day that has come to me in all this
Chapter 13 The Third Trial Fails
SO THE SECOND trial in the prison was over. Over, and no definite
result. The character of it I have described to you. It was baser in
one particular than the previous one; for this time the charges had
not been communicated to Joan, therefore she had been obliged to fight
in the dark.
There was no opportunity to do any thinking beforehand; there was
no foreseeing what traps might be set, and no way to prepare for
them. Truly it was a shabby advantage to take of a girl situated as
this one was. One day, during the course of it, an able lawyer of
Normandy, MaŒtre Lohier, happened to be in Rouen, and I will give you
his opinion of that trial, so that you may see that I have been honest
with you, and that my partisanship has not made me deceive you as to
its unfair and illegal character. Cauchon showed Lohier the procŠs and
asked his opinion about the trial. Now this was the opinion which he
gave to Cauchon. He said that the whole thing was null and void; for
these reasons: 1, because the trial was secret, and full freedom of
speech and action on the part of those present not possible; 2,
because the trial touched the honor of the King of France, yet he was
not summoned to defend himself, nor any one appointed to represent
him; 3, because the charges against the prisoner were not communicated
to her; 4, because the accused, although young and simple, had been
forced to defend her cause without help of counsel, notwithstanding
she had so much at stake.
Did that please Bishop Cauchon? It did not. He burst out upon
Lohier with the most savage cursings, and swore he would have him
drowned. Lohier escaped from Rouen and got out of France with all
speed, and so saved his life.
Well, as I have said, the second trial was over, without definite
result. But Cauchon did not give up. He could trump up another. And
still another and another, if necessary. He had the half-promise of an
enormous prize--the Archbishopric of Rouen--if he should succeed in
burning the body and damning to hell the soul of this young girl who
had never done him any harm; and such a prize as that, to a man like
the Bishop of Beauvais, was worth the burning and damning of fifty
harmless girls, let alone one.
So he set to work again straight off next day; and with high
confidence, too, intimating with brutal cheerfulness that he should
succeed this time. It took him and the other scavengers nine days to
dig matter enough out of Joan's testimony and their own inventions to
build up the new mass of charges. And it was a formidable mass indeed,
for it numbered sixty-six articles.
This huge document was carried to the castle the next day, March
27th; and there, before a dozen carefully selected judges, the new
trial was begun.
Opinions were taken, and the tribunal decided that Joan should
hear the articles read this time.
Maybe that was on account of Lohier's remark upon that head; or
maybe it was hoped that the reading would kill the prisoner with
fatigue--for, as it turned out, this reading occupied several days. It
was also decided that Joan should be required to answer squarely to
every article, and that if she refused she should be considered
convicted. You see, Cauchon was managing to narrow her chances more
and more all the time; he was drawing the toils closer and closer.
Joan was brought in, and the Bishop of Beauvais opened with a
speech to her which ought to have made even himself blush, so laden
it was with hypocrisy and lies. He said that this court was composed
of holy and pious churchmen whose hearts were full of benevolence and
compassion toward her, and that they had no wish to hurt her body, but
only a desire to instruct her and lead her into the way of truth and
Why, this man was born a devil; now think of his describing
himself and those hardened slaves of his in such language as that.
And yet, worse was to come. For now having in mind another of
Lohier's h8ints, he had the cold effrontery to make to Joan a
proposition which, I think, will surprise you when you hear it. He
said that this court, recognizing her untaught estate and her
inability to deal with the complex and difficult matters which were
about to be considered, had determined, out of their pity and their
mercifulness, to allow her to choose one or more persons out of their
own number to help her with counsel and advice!
Think of that--a court made up of Loyseleur and his breed of
reptiles. It was granting leave to a lamb to ask help of a wolf. Joan
looked up to see if he was serious, and perceiving that he was at
least pretending to be, she declined, of course.
The Bishop was not expecting any other reply. He had made a show
of fairness and could have it entered on the minutes, therefore he was
Then he commanded Joan to answer straitly to every accusation; and
threatened to cut her off from the Church if she failed to do that or
delayed her answers beyond a given length of time.
Yes, he was narrowing her chances down, step by step.
Thomas de Courcelles began the reading of that interminable
document, article by article. Joan answered to each article in its
turn; sometimes merely denying its truth, sometimes by saying her
answer would be found in the records of the previous trials.
What a strange document that was, and what an exhibition and
exposure of the heart of man, the one creature authorized to boast
that he is made in the image of God. To know Joan of Arc was to know
one who was wholly noble, pure, truthful, brave, compassionate,
generous, pious, unselfish, modest, blameless as the very flowers in
the fields--a nature fine and beautiful, a character supremely great.
To know her from that document would be to know her as the exact
reverse of all that. Nothing that she was appears in it, everything
that she was not appears there in detail.
Consider some of the things it charges against her, and remember
who it is it is speaking of. It calls her a sorceress, a false
prophet, an invoker and companion of evil spirits, a dealer in magic,
a person ignorant of the Catholic faith, a schismatic; she is
sacrilegious, an idolater, an apostate, a blasphemer of God and His
saints, scandalous, seditious, a disturber of the peace; she incites
men to war, and to the spilling of human blood; she discards the
decencies and proprieties of her sex, irreverently assuming the dress
of a man and the vocation of a soldier; she beguiles both princes and
people; she usurps divine honors, and has caused herself to be adored
and venerated, offering her hands and her vestments to be kissed.
There it is--every fact of her life distorted, perverted, reversed.
As a child she had loved the fairies, she had spoken a pitying word
for them when they were banished from their home, she had played
under their tree and around their fountain--hence she was a comrade
of evil spirits.
She had lifted France out of the mud and moved her to strike for
freedom, and led her to victory after victory--hence she was a
disturber of the peace--as indeed she was, and a provoker of war--as
indeed she was again and France will be proud of it and grateful for
it for many a century to come. And she had been adored--as if she
could help that, poor thing, or was in any way to blame for it. The
cowed veteran and the wavering recruit had drunk the spirit of war
from her eyes and touched her sword with theirs and moved forward
invincible--hence she was a sorceress.
And so the document went on, detail by detail, turning these
waters of life to poison, this gold to dross, these proofs of a noble
and beautiful life to evidences of a foul and odious one.
Of course, the sixty-six articles were just a rehash of the things
which had come up in the course of the previous trials, so I will
touch upon this new trial but lightly. In fact, Joan went but little
into detail herself, usually merely saying, "That is not true--passez
outre"; or, "I have answered that before--let the clerk read it in his
record," or saying some other brief thing.
She refused to have her mission examined and tried by the earthly
Church. The refusal was taken note of.
She denied the accusation of idolatry and that she had sought
men's homage. She said:
"If any kissed my hands and my vestments it was not by my desire,
and I did what I could to prevent it."
She had the pluck to say to that deadly tribunal that she did not
know the fairies to be evil beings. She knew it was a perilous thing
to say, but it was not in her nature to speak anything but the truth
when she spoke at all. Danger had no weight with her in such things.
Note was taken of her remark.
She refused, as always before, when asked if she would put off the
male attire if she were given permission to commune. And she added
"When one receives the sacrament, the manner of his dress is a
small thing and of no value in the eyes of Our Lord."
She was charge with being so stubborn in clinging to her male
dress that she would not lay it off even to get the blessed privilege
of hearing mass. She spoke out with spirit and said:
"I would rather die than be untrue to my oath to God."
She was reproached with doing man's work in the wars and thus
deserting the industries proper to her sex. She answered, with some
little touch of soldierly disdain:
"As to the matter of women's work, there's plenty to do it."
It was always a comfort to me to see the soldier spirit crop up in
her. While that remained in her she would be Joan of Arc, and able to
look trouble and fate in the face.
"It appears that this mission of yours which you claim you had
from God, was to make war and pour out human blood."
Joan replied quite simply, contenting herself with explaining that
war was not her first move, but her second:
"To begin with, I demanded that peace should be made. If it was
refused, then I would fight."
The judge mixed the Burgundians and English together in speaking
of the enemy which Joan had come to make war upon. But she showed that
she made a distinction between them by act and word, the Burgundians
being Frenchmen and therefore entitled to less brusque treatment than
the English. She said:
As to the Duke of Burgundy, I required of him, both by letters and
by his ambassadors, that he make peace with the King. As to the
English, the only peace for them was that they leave the country and
Then she said that even with the English she had shown a pacific
disposition, since she had warned them away by proclamation before
"If they had listened to me," said she, "they would have done
wisely." At this point she uttered her prophecy again, saying with
emphasis, "Before seven years they will see it themselves."
Then they presently began to pester her again about her male
costume, and tried to persuade her to voluntarily promise to discard
it. I was never deep, so I think it no wonder that I was puzzled by
their persistency in what seemed a thing of no consequence, and could
not make out what their reason could be. But we all know now. We all
know now that it was another of their treacherous projects. Yes, if
they could but succeed in getting her to formally discard it they
could play a game upon her which would quickly destroy her. So they
kept at their evil work until at last she broke out and said:
"Peace! Without the permission of God I will not lay it off though
you cut off my head!"
At one point she corrected the procŠs verbal, saying:
"It makes me say that everything which I have done was done by the
counsel of Our Lord. I did not say that, I said 'all which I have well
Doubt was cast upon the authenticity of her mission because of the
ignorance and simplicity of the messenger chosen. Joan smiled at
that. She could have reminded these people that Our Lord, who is no
respecter of persons, had chosen the lowly for his high purposes even
oftener than he had chosen bishops and cardinals; but she phrased her
rebuke in simpler terms:
"It is the prerogative of Our Lord to choose His instruments where
She was asked what form of prayer she used in invoking counsel
from on high. She said the form was brief and simple; then she lifted
her pallid face and repeated it, clasping her chained hands:
"Most dear God, in honor of your holy passion I beseech you, if
you love me, that you will reveal to me what I am to answer to these
churchmen. As concerns my dress, I know by what command I have put it
on, but I know not in what manner I am to lay it off. I pray you tell
me what to do."
She was charged with having dared, against the precepts of God and
His saints, to assume empire over men and make herself
Commander-in-Chief. That touched the soldier in her. She had a deep
reverence for priests, but the soldier in her had but small reverence
for a priest's opinions about war; so, in her answer to this charge
she did not condescend to go into any explanations or excuses, but
delivered herself with bland indifference and military brevity.
"If I was Commander-in-Chief, it was to thrash the English."
Death was staring her in the face here all the time, but no matter;
she dearly loved to make these English-hearted Frenchmen squirm, and
whenever they gave her an opening she was prompt to jab her sting into
it. She got great refreshment out of these little episodes. Her days
were a desert; these were the oases in it.
Her being in the wars with men was charged against her as an
indelicacy. She said:
"I had a woman with me when I could--in towns and lodgings. In the
field I always slept in my armor."
That she and her family had been ennobled by the King was charged
against her as evidence that the source of her deeds were sordid
self-seeking. She answered that she had not asked this grace of the
King; it was his own act.
This third trial was ended at last. And once again there was no
Possibly a fourth trial might succeed in defeating this apparently
unconquerable girl. So the malignant Bishop set himself to work to
He appointed a commission to reduce the substance of the sixty-six
articles to twelve compact lies, as a basis for the new attempt. This
was done. It took several days.
Meantime Cauchon went to Joan's cell one day, with Manchon and two
of the judges, Isambard de la Pierre and Martin Ladvenue, to see if he
could not manage somehow to beguile Joan into submitting her mission
to the examination and decision of the Church Militant--that is to
say, to that part of the Church Militant which was represented by
himself and his creatures.
Joan once more positively refused. Isambard de la Pierre had a
heart in his body, and he so pitied this persecuted poor girl that he
ventured to do a very daring thing; for he asked her if she would be
willing to have her case go before the Council of Basel, and said it
contained as many priests of her party as of the English party.
Joan cried out that she would gladly go before so fairly
constructed a tribunal as that; but before Isambard could say another
word Cauchon turned savagely upon him and exclaimed:
"Shut up, in the devil's name!"
Then Manchon ventured to do a brave thing, too, though he did it
in great fear for his life. He asked Cauchon if he should enter
Joan's submission to the Council of Basel upon the minutes.
"No! It is not necessary."
"Ah," said poor Joan, reproachfully, "you set down everything that
is against me, but you will not set down what is for me."
It was piteous. It would have touched the heart of a brute. But
Cauchon was more than that.
Chapter 14 Joan Struggles with Her Twelve Lies
WE WERE now in the first days of April. Joan was ill. She had
fallen ill the 29th of March, the day after the close of the third
trial, and was growing worse when the scene which I have just
described occurred in her cell. It was just like Cauchon to go there
and try to get some advantage out of her weakened state.
Let us note some of the particulars in the new indictment--the
Part of the first one says Joan asserts that she has found her
salvation. She never said anything of the kind. It also says she
refuses to submit herself to the Church. Not true. She was willing to
submit all her acts to this Rouen tribunal except those done by the
command of God in fulfilment of her mission. Those she reserved for
the judgment of God. She refused to recognize Cauchon and his serfs as
the Church, but was willing to go before the Pope or the Council of
A clause of another of the Twelve says she admits having
threatened with death those who would not obey her. Distinctly false.
Another clause says she declares that all she has done has been done
by command of God. What she really said was, all that she had done
well--a correction made by herself as you have already seen.
Another of the Twelve says she claims that she has never committed
any sin. She never made any such claim.
Another makes the wearing of the male dress a sin. If it was, she
had high Catholic authority for committing it--that of the Archbishop
of Rheims and the tribunal of Poitiers.
The Tenth Article was resentful against her for "pretending" that
St. Catherine and St.
Marguerite spoke French and not English, and were French in their
The Twelve were to be submitted first to the learned doctors of
theology of the University of Paris for approval. They were copied
out and ready by the night of April 4th. Then Manchon did another
bold thing: he wrote in the margin that many of the Twelve put
statements in Joan's mouth which were the exact opposite of what she
had said. That fact would not be considered important by the
University of Paris, and would not influence its decision or stir its
humanity, in case it had any--which it hadn't when acting in a
political capacity, as at present--but it was a brave thing for that
good Manchon to do, all the same.
The Twelve were sent to Paris next day, April 5th. That afternoon
there was a great tumult in Rouen, and excited crowds were flocking
through all the chief streets, chattering and seeking for news; for a
report had gone abroad that Joan of Arc was sick unti death. In truth,
these long seances had worn her out, and she was ill indeed. The heads
of the English party were in a state of consternation; for if Joan
should die uncondemned by the Church and go to the grave unsmirched,
the pity and the love of the people would turn her wrongs and
sufferings and death into a holy martyrdom, and she would be even a
mightier power in France dead than she had been when alive.
The Earl of Warwick and the English Cardinal (Winchester) hurried
to the castle and sent messengers flying for physicians. Warwick was a
hard man, a rude, coarse man, a man without compassion. There lay the
sick girl stretched in her chains in her iron cage--not an object to
move man to ungentle speech, one would think; yet Warwick spoke right
out in her hearing and said to the physicians:
"Mind you take good care of her. The King of England has no mind
to have her die a natural death. She is dear to him, for he bought her
dear, and he does not want her to die, save at the stake. Now then,
mind you cure her."
The doctors asked Joan what had made her ill. She said the Bishop
of Beauvais had sent her a fish and she thought it was that.
Then Jean d'Estivet burst out on her, and called her names and
abused her. He understood Joan to be charging the Bishop with
poisoning her, you see; and that was not pleasing to him, for he was
one of Cauchon's most loving and conscienceless slaves, and it
outraged him to have Joan injure his master in the eyes of these great
English chiefs, these being men who could ruin Cauchon and would
promptly do it if they got the conviction that he was capable of
saving Joan from the stake by poisoning her and thus cheating the
English out of all the real value gainable by her purchase from the
Duke of Burgundy.
Joan had a high fever, and the doctors proposed to bleed her.
"Be careful about that; she is smart and is capable of killing
He meant that to escape the stake she might undo the bandage and
let herself bleed to death.
But the doctors bled her anyway, and then she was better.
Not for long, though. Jean d'Estivet could not hold still, he was
so worried and angry about the suspicion of poisoning which Joan had
hinted at; so he came back in the evening and stormed at her till he
brought the fever all back again.
When Warwick heard of this he was in a fine temper, you may be
sure, for here was his prey threatening to escape again, and all
through the over-zeal of this meddling fool. Warwick gave D'Estivet a
quite admirable cursing--admirable as to strength, I mean, for it was
said by persons of culture that the art of it was not good--and after
that the meddler kept still.
Joan remained ill more than two weeks; then she grew better. She
was still very weak, but she could bear a little persecution now
without much danger to her life. It seemed to Cauchon a good time to
furnish it. So he called together some of his doctors of theology and
went to her dungeon. Manchon and I went along to keep the record--that
is, to set down what might be useful to Cauchon, and leave out the
The sight of Joan gave me a shock. Why, she was but a shadow! It
was difficult for me to realize that this frail little creature with
the sad face and drooping form was the same Joan of Arc that I had so
often seen, all fire and enthusiasm, charging through a hail of death
and the lightning and thunder of the guns at the head of her
battalions. It wrung my heart to see her looking like this.
But Cauchon was not touched. He made another of those
conscienceless speeches of his, all dripping with hypocrisy and
guile. He told Joan that among her answers had been some which had
seemed to endanger religion; and as she was ignorant and without
knowledge of the Scriptures, he had brought some good and wise men to
instruct her, if she desired it. Said he, "We are churchmen, and
disposed by our good will as well as by our vocation to procure for
you the salvation of your soul and your body, in every way in our
power, just as we would do the like for our nearest kin or for
ourselves. In this we but follow the example of Holy Church, who never
closes the refuge of her bosom against any that are willing to
Joan thanked him for these sayings and said:
"I seem to be in danger of death from this malady; if it be the
pleasure of God that I die here, I beg that I may be heard in
confession and also receive my Saviour; and that I may be buried in
Cauchon thought he saw his opportunity at last; this weakened body
had the fear of an unblessed death before it and the pains of hell to
follow. This stubborn spirit would surrender now. So he spoke out and
"Then if you want the Sacraments, you must do as all good
Catholics do, and submit to the Church."
He was eager for her answer; but when it came there was no
surrender in it, she still stood to her guns. She turned her head
away and said wearily:
"I have nothing more to say."
Cauchon's temper was stirred, and he raised his voice threateningly
and said that the more she was in danger of death the more she ought
to amend her life; and again he refused the things she begged for
unless she would submit to the Church. Joan said:
"If I die in this prison I beg you to have me buried in holdy
ground; if you will not, I cast myself upon my Saviour."
There was some more conversation of the like sort, then Cauchon
demanded again, and imperiously, that she submit herself and all her
deeds to the Church. His threatening and storming went for nothing.
That body was weak, but the spirit in it was the spirit of Joan of
Arc; and out of that came the steadfast answer which these people were
already so familiar with and detested so sincerely:
"Let come what may. I will neither do nor say any otherwise than I
have said already in your tribunals."
Then the good theologians took turn about and worried her with
reasonings and arguments and Scriptures; and always they held the
lure of the Sacraments before her famishing soul, and tried to bribe
her with them to surrender her mission to the Church's judgment--that
is to their judgment--as if they were the Church! But it availed
nothing. I could have told them that beforehand, if they had asked me.
But they never asked me anything; I was too humble a creature for
Then the interview closed with a threat; a threat of fearful
import; a threat calculated to make a Catholic Christian feel as if
the ground were sinking from under him:
"The Church calls upon you to submit; disobey, and she will
abandon you as if you were a pagan"
Think of being abandoned by the Church!--that august Power in
whose hands is lodged the fate of the human race; whose scepter
stretches beyond the furthest constellation that twinkles in the sky;
whose authority is over millions that live and over the billions that
wait trembling in purgatory for ransom or doom; whose smile opens the
gates of heaven to you, whose frown delivers you to the fires of
everlasting hell; a Power whose dominion overshadows and belittles the
pomps and shows of a village. To be abandoned by one's King--yes, that
is death, and death is much; but to be agandoned by Rome, to be
abandoned by the Church! Ah, death is nothing to that, for that is
consignment to endless life--and such a life!
I could see the red waves tossing in that shoreless lake of fire, I
could see the black myriads of the damned rise out of them and
struggle and sink and rise again; and I knew that Joan was seeing
what I saw, while she paused musing; and I believed that she must
yield now, and in truth I hoped she would, for these men were able to
make the threat good and deliver her over to eternal suffering, and I
knew that it was in their natures to do it.
But I was foolish to think that thought and hope that hope. Joan of
Arc was not made as others are made. Fidelity to principle, fidelity
to truth, fidelity to her word, all these were in her bone and in her
flesh--they were parts of her. She could not change, she could not
cast them out. She was the very genius of Fidelity; she was
Steadfastness incarnated. Where she had taken her stand and planted
her foot, there she would abide; hell itself could not move her from
Her Voices had not given her permission to make the sort of
submission that was required, therefore she would stand fast. She
would wait, in perfect obedience, let come what might.
My heart was like lead in my body when I went out from that
dungeon; but she--she was serene, she was not troubled. She had done
what she believed to be her duty, and that was sufficient; the
consequences were not her affair. The last thing she said that time
was full of this serenity, full of contented repose:
"I am a good Christian born and baptized, and a good Christian I
Chapter 15 Undaunted by Threat of Burning
TWO WEEKS went by; the second of May was come, the chill was
departed out of the air, the wild flowers were springing in the glades
and glens, the birds were piping in the woods, all nature was
brilliant with sunshine, all spirits were renewed and refreshed, all
hearts glad, the world was alive with hope and cheer, the plain beyond
the Seine stretched away soft and rich and green, the river was limpid
and lovely, the leafy islands were dainty to see, and flung still
daintier reflections of themselves upon the shining water; and from
the tall bluffs above the bridge Rouen was become again a delight to
the eye, the most exquisite and satisfying picture of a town that
nestles under the arch of heaven anywhere.
When I say that all hearts were glad and hopeful, I mean it in a
general sense. There were exceptions--we who were the friends of Joan
of Arc, also Joan of Arc herself, that poor girl shut up there in that
frowning stretch of mighty walls and towers: brooding in darkness, so
close to the flooding downpour of sunshine yet so impossibly far away
from it; so longing for any little glimpse of it, yet so implacably
denied it by those wolves in the black gowns who were plotting her
death and the blackening of her good name.
Cauchon was ready to go on with his miserable work. He had a new
scheme to try now. He would see what persuasion could do--argument,
eloquence, poured out upon the incorrigible captive from the mouth of
a trained expert. That was his plan. But the reading of the Twelve
Articles to her was not a part of it. No, even Cauchon was ashamed to
lay that monstrosity before her; even he had a remnant of shame in
him, away down deep, a million fathoms deep, and that remnant asserted
itself now and prevailed.
On this fair second of May, then, the black company gathered
itself together in the spacious chamber at the end of the great hall
of the castle--the Bishop of Beauvais on his throne, and sixty-two
minor judges massed before him, with the guards and recorders at
their stations and the orator at his desk.
Then we heard the far clank of chains, and presently Joan entered
with her keepers and took her seat upon her isolated bench. She was
looking well now, and most fair and beautiful after her fortnight's
rest from wordy persecution.
She glanced about and noted the orator. Doubtless she divined the
The orator had written his speech all out, and had it in his hand,
though he held it back of him out of sight. It was so thick that it
resembled a book. He began flowing, but in the midst of a flowery
period his memory failed him and he had to snatch a furtive glance at
his manuscript--which much injured the effect. Again this happened,
and then a third time. The poor man's face was red with embarrassment,
the whole great house was pitying him, which made the matter worse;
then Joan dropped in a remark which completed the trouble. She said:
"Read your book--and then I will answer you!"
Why, it was almost cruel the way those moldy veterans laughed; and
as for the orator, he looked so flustered and helpless that almost
anybody would have pitied him, and I had difficulty to keep from doing
it myself. Yes, Joan was feeling very well after her rest, and the
native mischief that was in her lay near the surface. It did not show
when she made the remark, but I knew it was close in there back of the
When the orator had gotten back his composure he did a wise thing;
for he followed Joan's advice: he made no more attempts at sham
impromptu oratory, but read his speech straight from his "book." In
the speech he compressed the Twelve Articles into six, and made these
Every now and then he stopped and asked questions, and Joan
replied. The nature of the Church Militant was explained, and once
more Joan was asked to submit herself to it.
She gave her usual answer.
Then she was asked:
"Do you believe the Church can err?"
"I believe it cannot err; but for those deeds and words of mine
which were done and uttered by command of God, I will answer to Him
"Will you say that you have no judge upon earth? Is not our Holy
Father the Pope your judge?"
"I will say nothing about it. I have a good Master who is our Lord,
and to Him I will submit all."
Then came these terrible words:
"If you do not submit to the Church you will be pronounced a
heretic by these judges here present and burned at the stake!"
Ah, that would have smitten you or me dead with fright, but it only
roused the lion heart of Joan of Arc, and in her answer rang that
martial note which had used to stir her soldiers like a bugle-call:
"I will not say otherwise than I have said already; and if I saw
the fire before me I would say it again"
It was uplifting to hear her battle-voice once more and see the
battle-light burn in her eye. Many there were stirred; every man that
was a man was stirred, whether friend or foe; and Manchon risked his
life again, good soul, for he wrote in the margin of the record in
good plain letters these brave words: "Superba responsio!" and there
they have remained these sixty years, and there you may read them to
"Superba responsio!" Yes, it was just that. For this "superb
answer" came from the lips of a girl of nineteen with death and hell
staring her in the face.
Of course, the matter of the male attire was gone over again; and
as usual at wearisome length; also, as usual, the customary bribe was
offered: if she would discard that dress voluntarily they would let
her hear mass. But she answered as she had often answered before:
"I will go in a woman's robe to all services of the Church if I may
be permitted, but I will resume the other dress when I return to my
They set several traps for her in a tentative form; that is to say,
they placed suppositious propositions before her and cunningly tried
to commit her to one end of the propositions without committing
themselves to the other. But she always saw the game and spoiled it.
The trap was in this form:
"Would you be willing to do so and so if we should give you
Her answer was always in this form or to this effect:
"When you give me leave, then you will know."
Yes, Joan was at her best that second of May. She had all her wits
about her, and they could not catch her anywhere. It was a long, long
session, and all the old ground was fought over again, foot by foot,
and the orator-expert worked all his persuasions, all his eloquence;
but the result was the familiar one--a drawn battle, the sixty-two
retiring upon their base, the solitary enemy holding her original
position within her original lines.
Chapter 16 Joan Stands Defiant Before the Rack
THE BRILLIANT weather, the heavenly weather, the bewitching
weather made everybody's heart to sing, as I have told you; yes,
Rouen was feeling light-hearted and gay, and most willing and ready
to break out and laugh upon the least occasion; and so when the news
went around that the young girl in the tower had scored another defeat
against Bishop Cauchon there was abundant laughter--abundant laughter
among the citizens of both parties, for they all hated the Bishop. It
is true, the English-hearted majority of the people wanted Joan
burned, but that did not keep them from laughing at the man they
hated. It would have been perilous for anybody to laugh at the English
chiefs or at the majority of Cauchon's assistant judges, but to laugh
at Cauchon or D'Estivet and Loyseleur was safe--nobody would report
The difference between Cauchon and cochon  was not noticeable
in speech, and so there was plenty of opportunity for puns; the
opportunities were not thrown away.
Some of the jokes got well worn in the course of two or three
months, from repeated use; for every time Cauchon started a new trial
the folk said "The sow has littered  again"; and every time the
trial failed they said it over again, with its other meaning, "The hog
has made a mess of it."
And so, on the third of May, Noel and I, drifting about the town,
heard many a wide-mouthed lout let go his joke and his laugh, and
then move tot he next group, proud of his wit and happy, to work it
"'Od's blood, the sow has littered five times, and five times has
made a mess of it!"
And now and then one was bold enough to say--but he said it
"Sixty-three and the might of England against a girl, and she
camps on the field five times!"
Cauchon lived in the great palace of the Archbishop, and it was
guarded by English soldiery; but no matter, there was never a dark
night but the walls showed next morning that the rude joker had been
there with his paint and brush. Yes, he had been thee, and had smeared
the sacred walls with pictures of hogs in all attitudes except
flattering ones; hogs clothed in a Bishop's vestments and wearing a
Bishop's miter irreverently cocked on the side of their heads.
Cauchon raged and cursed over his defeats and his impotence during
seven says; then he conceived a new scheme. You shall see what it was;
for you have not cruel hearts, and you would never guess it.
On the ninth of May there was a summons, and Manchon and I got out
materials together and started. But this time we were to go to one of
the other towers--not the one which was Joan's prison. It was round
and grim and massive, and built of the plainest and thickest and
solidest masonry--a dismal and forbidding structure.  We entered
the circular room on the ground floor, and I saw what turned me
sick--the instruments of torture and the executioners standing ready!
Here you have the black heart of Cauchon at the blackest, here you
have the proof that in his nature there was no such thing as pity. One
wonders if he ever knew his mother or ever had a sister.
Cauchon was there, and the Vice-Inquisitor and the Abbot of St.
Corneille; also six others, among them that false Loyseleur. The
guards were in their places, the rack was there, and by it stood the
executioner and his aids in their crimson hose and doublets, meet
color for their bloody trade. The picture of Joan rose before me
stretched upon the rack, her feet tied to one end of it, her wrists to
the other, and those red giants turning the windlass and pulling her
limbs out of their sockets. It seemed to me that I could hear the
bones snap and the flesh tear apart, and I did not see how that body
of anointed servants of the merciful Jesus could sit there and look
so placid and indifferent.
After a little, Joan arrived and was brought in. She saw the rack,
she saw the attendants, and the same picture which I had been seeing
must have risen in her mind; but do you think she quailed, do you
think she shuddered? No, there was no sign of that sort. She
straightened herself up, and there was a slight curl of scorn about
her lip; but as for fear, she showed not a vestige of it.
This was a memorable session, but it was the shortest one of all
the list. When Joan had taken her seat a resume of her "crimes" was
read to her. Then Cauchon made a solemn speech. It in he said that in
the course of her several trials Joan had refused to answer some of
the questions and had answered others with lies, but that now he was
going to have the truth out of her, and the whole of it.
Her manner was full of confidence this time; he was sure he had
found a way at last to break this child's stubborn spirit and make
her beg and cry. He would score a victory this time and stop the
mouths of the jokers of Rouen. You see, he was only just a man after
all, and couldn't stand ridicule any better than other people. He
talked high, and his splotchy face lighted itself up with all the
shifting tints and signs of evil pleasure and promised
triumph--purple, yellow, red, green--they were all there, with
sometimes the dull and spongy blue of a drowned man, the uncanniest
of them all. And finally he burst out in a great passion and said:
"There is the rack, and there are its ministers! You will reveal
all now or be put to the torture.
Then she made that great answer which will live forever; made it
without fuss or bravado, and yet how fine and noble was the sound of
"I will tell you nothing more than I have told you; no, not even if
you tear the limbs from my body. And even if in my pain I did say
something otherwise, I would always say afterward that it was the
torture that spoke and not I."
There was no crushing that spirit. You should have seen Cauchon.
Defeated again, and he had not dreamed of such a thing. I heard it
said the next day, around the town, that he had a full confession all
written out, in his pocket and all ready for Joan to sign. I do not
know that that was true, but it probably was, for her mark signed at
the bottom of a confession would be the kind of evidence (for effect
with the public) which Cauchon and his people were particularly value,
No, there was no crushing that spirit, and no beclouding that clear
mind. Consider the depth, the wisdom of that answer, coming from an
ignorant girl. Why, there were not six men in the world who had ever
reflected that words forced out of a person by horrible tortures were
not necessarily words of verity and truth, yet this unlettered
peasant-girl put her finger upon that flaw with an unerring instinct.
I had always supposed that torture brought out the truth--everybody
supposed it; and when Joan came out with those simple common-sense
words they seemed to flood the place with light. It was like a
lightning-flash at midnight which suddenly reveals a fair valley
sprinkled over with silver streams and gleaming villages and
farmsteads where was only an impenetrable world of darkness before.
Manchon stole a sidewise look at me, and his face was full of
surprise; and there was the like to be seen in other faces there.
Consider--they were old, and deeply cultured, yet here was a village
maid able to teach them something which they had not known before. I
heard one of them mutter:
"Verily it is a wonderful creature. She has laid her hand upon an
accepted truth that is as old as the world, and it has crumbled to
dust and rubbish under her touch. Now whence got she that marvelous
The judges laid their heads together and began to talk now. It was
plain, from chance words which one caught now and then, that Cauchon
and Loyseleur were insisting upon the application of the torture, and
that most of the others were urgently objecting.
Finally Cauchon broke out with a good deal of asperity in his voice
and ordered Joan back to her dungeon. That was a happy surprise for
me. I was not expecting that the Bishop would yield.
When Manchon came home that night he said he had found out why the
torture was not applied.
There were two reasons. One was, a fear that Joan might die under
the torture, which would not suit the English at all; the other was,
that the torture would effect nothing if Joan was going to take back
everything she said under its pains; and as to putting her mark to a
confession, it was believed that not even the rack would ever make
her do that.
So all Rouen laughed again, and kept it up for three days, saying:
"The sow has littered six times, and made six messes of it."
And the palace walls got a new decoration--a mitered hog carryinga
discarded rack home on its shoulder, and Loyseleur weeping in its
wake. Many rewards were offered for the capture of these painters, but
nobody applied. Even the English guard feigned blindness and would not
see the artists at work.
The Bishop's anger was very high now. He could not reconcile
himself to the idea of giving up the torture. It was the pleasantest
idea he had invented yet, and he would not cast it by. So he called
in some of his satellites on the twelfth, and urged the torture again.
But it was a failure.
With some, Joan's speech had wrought an effect; others feared she
might die under torture; others did not believe that any amount of
suffering could make her put her mark to a lying confession. There
were fourteen men present, including the Bishop. Eleven of them voted
dead against the torture, and stood their ground in spite of Cauchon's
abuse. Two voted with the Bishop and insisted upon the torture. These
two were Loyseleur and the orator--the man whom Joan had bidden to
"read his book"--Thomas de Courcelles, the renowned pleader and master
Age has taught me charity of speech; but it fails me when I think
of those three names--Cauchon, Courcelles, Loyseleur.
 Hog, pig.
 Cochonner, to litter, to farrow; also, "to make a mess of"!
 The lower half of it remains to-day just as it was then; the
upper half is of a later date. -- TRANSLATOR.
Chapter 17 Supreme in Direst Peril
ANOTHER ten days' wait. The great theologians of that treasury of
all valuable knowledge and all wisdom, the University of Paris, were
still weighing and considering and discussing the Twelve Lies.
I had had but little to do these ten days, so I spent them mainly
in walks about the town with Noel. But there was no pleasure in them,
our spirits being so burdened with cares, and the outlook for Joan
growing steadily darker and darker all the time. And then we naturally
contrasted our circumstances with hers: this freedom and sunshine,
with her darkness and chains; our comradeship, with her lonely estate;
our alleviations of one sort and another, with her destitution in all.
She was used to liberty, but now she had none; she was an out-of-door
creature by nature and habit, but now she was shut up day and night in
a steel cage like an animal; she was used to the light, but now she
was always in a gloom where all objects about her were dim and
spectral; she was used to the thousand various sounds which are the
cheer and music of a busy life, but now she heard only the monotonous
footfall of the sentry pacing his watch; she had been fond of talking
with her mates, but now there was no one to talk to; she had had an
easy laugh, but it was gone dumb now; she had been born for
comradeship, and blithe and busy work, and all manner of joyous
activities, but here were only dreariness, and leaden hours, and weary
inaction, and brooding stillness, and thoughts that travel by day and
night and night and day round and round in the same circle, and wear
the brain and break the heart with weariness. It was death in life;
yes, death in life, that is what it must have been. And there was
another hard thing about it all. A young girl in trouble needs the
soothing solace and support and sympathy of persons of her own sex,
and the delicate offices and gentle ministries which only these can
furnish; yet in all these months of gloomy captivity in her dungeon
Joan never saw the face of a girl or a woman. Think how her heart
would have leaped to see such a face.
Consider. If you would realize how great Joan of Arc was, remember
that it was out of such a place and such circumstances that she came
week after week and month after month and confronted the master
intellects of France single-handed, and baffled their cunningest
schemes, defeated their ablest plans, detected and avoided their
secretest traps and pitfalls, broke their lines, repelled their
assaults, and camped on the field after every engagement; steadfast
always, true to her faith and her ideals; defying torture, defying the
stake, and answering threats of eternal death and the pains of hell
with a simple "Let come what may, here I take my stand and will
Yes, if you would realize how great was the soul, how profound the
wisdom, and how luminous the intellect of Joan of Arc, you must study
her there, where she fought out that long fight all alone--and not
merely against the subtlest brains and deepest learning of France, but
against the ignoble deceits, the meanest treacheries, and the hardest
hearts to be found in any land, pagan or Christian.
She was great in battle--we all know that; great in foresight;
great in loyalty and patriotism; great in persuading discontented
chiefs and reconciling conflicting interests and passions; great in
the ability to discover merit and genius wherever it lay hidden; great
in picturesque and eloquent speech; supremely great in the gift of
firing the hearts of hopeless men and noble enthusiasms, the gift of
turning hares into heroes, slaves and skulkers into battalions that
march to death with songs on their lips. But all these are exalting
activities; they keep hand and heart and brain keyed up to their
work; there is the joy of achievement, the inspiration of stir and
movement, the applause which hails success; the soul is overflowing
with life and energy, the faculties are at white heat; weariness,
despondency, inertia--these do not exist.
Yes, Joan of Arc was great always, great everywhere, but she was
greatest in the Rouen trials.
There she rose above the limitations and infirmities of our human
nature, and accomplished under blighting and unnerving and hopeless
conditions all that her splendid equipment of moral and intellectual
forces could have accomplished if they had been supplemented by the
mighty helps of hope and cheer and light, the presence of friendly
faces, and a fair and equal fight, with the great world looking on and
Chapter 18 Condemned Yet Unafraid
TOWARD THE END of the ten-day interval the University of Paris
rendered its decision concerning the Twelve Articles. By this finding,
Joan was guilty upon all the counts: she must renounce her errors and
make satisfaction, or be abandoned to the secular arm for punishment.
The University's mind was probably already made up before the
Articles were laid before it; yet it took it from the fifth to the
eighteenth to produce its verdict. I think the delay may have been
caused by temporary difficulties concerning two points:
1. As to who the fiends were who were represented in Joan's
Voices; 2. As to whether her saints spoke French only.
You understand, the University decided emphatically that it was
fiends who spoke in those Voices; it would need to prove that, and it
did. It found out who those fiends were, and named them in the
verdict: Belial, Satan, and Behemoth. This has always seemed a
doubtful thing to me, and not entitled to much credit. I think so for
this reason: if the University had actually known it was those three,
it would for very consistency's sake have told how it knew it, and
not stopped with the mere assertion, since it had made joan explain
how she knew they were not fiends. Does not that seem reasonable? To
my mind the University's position was weak, and I will tell you why.
It had claimed that Joan's angels were devils in disguise, and we all
know that devils do disguise themselves as angels; up to that point
the University's position was strong; but you see yourself that it
eats its own argument when it turns around and pretends that it can
tell who such apparitions are, while denying the like ability to a
person with as good a head on her shoulders as the best one the
University could produce.
The doctors of the University had to see those creatures in order
to know; and if Joan was deceived, it is argument that they in their
turn could also be deceived, for their insight and judgment were
surely not clearer than hers.
As to the other point which I have thought may have proved a
difficulty and cost the University delay, I will touch but a moment
upon that, and pass on. The University decided that it was blasphemy
for Joan to say that her saints spoke French and not English, and were
on the French side in political sympathies. I think that the thing
which troubled the doctors of theology was this: they had decided that
the three Voices were Satan and two other devils; but they had also
decided that these Voices were not on the French side--thereby tacitly
asserting that they were on the English side; and if on the English
side, then they must be angels and not devils. Otherwise, the
situation was embarrassing. You see, the University being the wisest
and deepest and most erudite body in the world, it would like to be
logical if it could, for the sake of its reputation; therefore it
would study and study, days and days, trying to find some good
common-sense reason for proving the Voices to be devils in Article No.
1 and proving them to be angels in Article No. 10. However, they had
to give it up. They found no way out; and so, to this day, the
University's verdict remains just so--devils in No. 1, angels in No.
10; and no way to reconcile the discrepancy.
The envoys brought the verdict to Rouen, and with it a letter for
Cauchon which was full of fervid praise. The University complimented
him on his zeal in hunting down this woman "whose venom had infected
the faithful of the whole West," and as recompense it as good as
promised him "a crown of imperishable glory in heaven." Only that!--a
crown in heaven; a promissory note and no indorser; always something
away off yonder; not a word about the Archbishopric of Rouen, which
was the thing Cauchon was destroying his soul for. A crown in heaven;
it must have sounded like a sarcasm to him, after all his hard work.
What should he do in heaven? he did not know anybody there.
On the nineteenth of May a court of fifty judges sat in the
archiepiscopal palace to discuss Joan's fate. A few wanted her
delivered over to the secular arm at once for punishment, but the
rest insisted that she be once more "charitably admonished" first.
So the same court met in the castle on the twenty-third, and Joan
was brought to the bar. Pierre Maurice, a canon of Rouen, made a
speech to Joan in which he admonished her to save her life and her
soul by renouncing her errors and surrendering to the Church. He
finished with a stern threat: if she remained obstinate the damnation
of her soul was certain, the destruction of her body probable. But
Joan was immovable. She said:
"If I were under sentence, and saw the fire before me, and the
executioner ready to light it--more, if I were in the fire itself, I
would say none but the things which I have said in these trials; and
I would abide by them till I died."
A deep silence followed now, which endured some moments. It lay
upon me like a weight. I knew it for an omen. Then Cauchon, grave and
solemn, turned to Pierre Maurice:
"Have you anything further to say?"
The priest bowed low, and said:
"Nothing, my lord."
"Prisoner at the bar, have you anything further to say?"
"Then the debate is closed. To-morrow, sentence will be
pronounced. Remove the prisoner."
She seemed to go from the place erect and noble. But I do not
know; my sight was dim with tears.
To-morrow--twenty-fourth of May! Exactly a year since I saw her go
speeding across the plain at the head of her troops, her silver helmet
shining, her silvery cape fluttering in the wind, her white plumes
flowing, her sword held aloft; saw her charge the Burgundian camp
three times, and carry it; saw her wheel to the right and spur for the
duke's reserves; saws her fling herself against it in the last assault
she was ever to make. And now that fatal day was come again--and see
what it was bringing!
Chapter 19 Our Last Hopes of Rescue Fail
JOAN HAD been adjudged guilty of heresy, sorcery, and all the
other terrible crimes set forth in the Twelve Articles, and her life
was in Cauchon's hands at last. He could send her to the stake at
once. His work was finished now, you think? He was satisfied? Not at
all. What would his Archbishopric be worth if the people should get
the idea into their heads that this faction of interested priests,
slaving under the English lash, had wrongly condemned and burned Joan
of Arc, Deliverer of France? That would be to make of her a holy
martyr. Then her spirit would rise from her body's ashes, a
thousandfold reinforced, and sweep the English domination into the
sea, and Cauchon along with it. No, the victory was not complete yet.
Joan's guilt must be established by evidence which would satisfy the
people. Where was that evidence to be found? There was only one person
in the world who could furnish it--Joan of Arc herself. She must
condemn herself, and in public--at least she must seem to do it.
But how was this to be managed? Weeks had been spent already in
trying to get her to surrender--time wholly wasted; what was to
persuade her now? Torture had been threatened, the fire had been
threatened; what was left? Illness, deadly fatigue, and the sight of
the fire, the presence of the fire! That was left.
Now that was a shrewd thought. She was but a girl after all, and,
under illness and exhaustion, subject to a girl's weaknesses.
Yes, it was shrewdly thought. She had tacitly said herself that
under the bitter pains of the rack they would be able to extort a
false confession from her. It was a hint worth remembering, and it
She had furnished another hint at the same time: that as soon as
the pains were gone, she would retract the confession. That hint was
She had herself taught them what to do, you see. First, they must
wear out her strength, then frighten her with the fire. Second, while
the fright was on her, she must be made to sign a paper.
But she would demand a reading of the paper. They could not
venture to refuse this, with the public there to hear. Suppose that
during the reading her courage should return?--she would refuse to
sign then. Very well, even that difficulty could be got over. They
could read a short paper of no importance, then slip a long and
deadly one into its place and trick her into signing that.
Yet there was still one other difficulty. If they made her seem to
abjure, that would free her from the death-penalty. They could keep
her in a prison of the Church, but they could not kill her.
That would not answer; for only her death would content the
English. Alive she was a terror, in a prison or out of it. She had
escaped from two prisons already.
But even that difficulty could be managed. Cauchon would make
promises to her; in return she would promise to leave off the male
dress. He would violate his promises, and that would so situate her
that she would not be able to keep hers. Her lapse would condemn her
to the stake, and the stake would be ready.
These were the several moves; there was nothing to do but to make
them, each in its order, and the game was won. One might almost name
the day that the betrayed girl, the most innocent creature in France
and the noblest, would go to her pitiful death.
The world knows now that Cauchon's plan was as I have sketched it
to you, but the world did not know it at that time. There are
sufficient indications that Warwick and all the other English chiefs
except the highest one--the Cardinal of Winchester--were not let into
the secret, also, that only Loyseleur and Beaupere, on the French
side, knew the scheme. Sometimes I have doubted if even Loyseleur and
Beaupere knew the whole of it at first. However, if any did, it was
It is usual to let the condemned pass their last night of life in
peace, but this grace was denied to poor Joan, if one may credit the
rumors of the time. Loyseleur was smuggled into her presence, and in
the character of priest, friend, and secret partisan of France and
hater of England, he spent some hours in beseeching her to do "the
only right an righteous thing"--submit to the Church, as a good
Christian should; and that then she would straightway get out of the
clutches of the dreaded English and be transferred to the Church's
prison, where she would be honorably used and have women about her for
jailers. He knew where to touch her. He knew how odious to her was the
presence of her rough and profane English guards; he knew that her
Voices had vaguely promised something which she interpreted to be
escape, rescue, release of some sort, and the chance to burst upon
France once more and victoriously complete the great work which she
had been commissioned of Heaven to do. Also there was that other
thing: if her failing body could be further weakened by loss of rest
and sleep now, her tired mind would be dazed and drowsy on the
morrow, and in ill condition to stand out against persuasions,
threats, and the sight of the stake, and also be purblind to traps and
snares which it would be swift to detect when in its normal estate.
I do not need to tell you that there was no rest for me that night.
Nor for Noel. We went to the main gate of the city before nightfall,
with a hope in our minds, based upon that vague prophecy of Joan's
Voices which seemed to promise a rescue by force at the last moment.
The immense news had flown swiftly far and wide that at last Joan of
Arc was condemned, and would be sentenced and burned alive on the
morrow; and so crowds of people were flowing in at the gate, and other
crowds were being refused admission by the soldiery; these being
people who brought doubtful passes or none at all. We scanned these
crowds eagerly, but thee was nothing about them to indicate that they
were our old war-comrades in disguise, and certainly there were no
familiar faces among them. And so, when the gate was closed at last,
we turned away grieved, and more disappointed than we cared to admit,
either in speech or thought.
The streets were surging tides of excited men. It was difficult to
make one's way. Toward midnight our aimless tramp brought us to the
neighborhood of the beautiful church of St. Ouen, and there all was
bustle and work. The square was a wilderness of torches and people;
and through a guarded passage dividing the pack, laborers were
carrying planks and timbers and disappearing with them through the
gate of the churchyard. We asked what was going forward; the answer
"Scaffolds and the stake. Don't you know that the French witch is
to be burned in the morning?"
Then we went away. We had no heart for that place.
At dawn we were at the city gate again; this time with a hope
which our wearied bodies and fevered minds magnified into a large
probability. We had heard a report that the Abbot of JumiŠges with all
his monks was coming to witness the burning. Our desire, abetted by
our imagination, turned those nine hundred monks into Joan's old
campaigners, and their Abbot into La Hire or the Bastard or D'Alenon;
and we watched them file in, unchallenged, the multitude respectfully
dividing and uncovering while they passed, with our hearts in our
throats and our eyes swimming with tears of joy and pride and
exultation; and we tried to catch glimpses of the faces under the
cowls, and were prepared to give signal to any recognized face that we
were Joan's men and ready and eager to kill and be killed in the good
cause. How foolish we were!
But we were young, you know, and youth hopeth all things,
believeth all things.
Chapter 20 The Betrayal
IN THE MORNING I was at my official post. It was on a platform
raised the height of a man, in the churchyard, under the eaves of St.
Ouen. On this same platform was a crowd of priests and important
citizens, and several lawyers. Abreast it, with a small space between,
was another and larger platform, handsomely canopied against sun and
rain, and richly carpeted; also it was furnished with comfortable
chairs, and with two which were more sumptuous than the others, and
raised above the general level. One of these two was occupied by a
prince of the royal blood of England, his Eminence the Cardinal of
Winchester; the other by Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. In the rest of
the chairs sat three bishops, the Vice-Inquisitor, eight abbots, and
the sixty-two friars and lawyers who had sat as Joan's judges in her
Twenty steps in front of the platforms was another--a table-topped
pyramid of stone, built up in retreating courses, thus forming steps.
Out of this rose that grisly thing, the stake; about the stake bundles
of fagots and firewood were piled. On the ground at the base of the
pyramid stood three crimson figures, the executioner and his
assistants. At their feet lay what had been a goodly heap of brands,
but was now a smokeless nest of ruddy coals; a foot or two from this
was a supplemental supply of wood and fagots compacted into a pile
shoulder-high and containing as much as six packhorse loads. Think of
that. We seem so delicately made, so destructible, so insubstantial;
yet it is easier to reduce a granite statue to ashes than it is to do
that with a man's body.
The sight of the stake sent physical pains tingling down the nerves
of my body; and yet, turn as I would, my eyes would keep coming back
t it, such fascination has the gruesome and the terrible for us.
The space occupied by the platforms and the stake was kept open by
a wall of English soldiery, standing elbow to elbow, erect and
stalwart figures, fine and sightly in their polished steel; while from
behind them on every hand str4etched far away a level plain of human
heads; and there was no window and no housetop within our view,
howsoever distant, but was black with patches and masses of people.
But there was no noise, no stir; it was as if the world was dead.
The impressiveness of this silence and solemnity was deepened by a
leaden twilight, for the sky was hidden by a pall of low-hanging
storm-clouds; and above the remote horizon faint winkings of
heat-lightning played, and now and then one caught the dull
mutterings and complainings of distant thunder.
At last the stillness was broken. From beyond the square rose an
indistinct sound, but familiar--court, crisp phrases of command; next
I saw the plain of heads dividing, and the steady swing of a marching
host was glimpsed between. My heart leaped for a moment. Was it La
Hire and his hellions? No--that was not their gait. No, it was the
prisoner and her escort; it was Joan of Arc, under guard, that was
coming; my spirits sank as low as they had been before. Weak as she
was they made her walk; they would increase her weakness all they
could. The distance was not great--it was but a few hundred yards--but
short as it was it was a heavy tax upon one who had been lying chained
in one spot for months, and whose feet had lost their powers from
inaction. Yes, and for a year Joan had known only the cool damps of a
dungeon, and now she was dragging herself through this sultry summer
heat, this airless and suffocating void. As she entered the gate,
drooping with exhaustion, there was that creature Loyseleur at her
side with his head bent to her ear. We knew afterward that he had been
with her again this morning in the prison wearying her with his
persuasions and enticing her with false promises, and that he was now
still at the same work at the gate, imploring her to yield everything
that would be required of her, and assuring her that if she would do
this all would be well with her: she would be rid of the dreaded
English and find safety in the powerful shelter and protection of the
Church. A miserable man, a stony-hearted man
The moment Joan was seated on the platform she closed her eyes and
allowed her chin to fall; and so sat, with her hands nestling in her
lap, indifferent to everything, caring for nothing but rest. And she
was so white again--white as alabaster.
How the faces of that packed mass of humanity lighted up with
interest, and with what intensity all eyes gazed upon this fragile
girl! And how natural it was; for these people realized that at last
they were looking upon that person whom they had so long hungered to
see; a person whose name and fame filled all Europe, and made all
other names and all other renowns insignificant by comparions; Joan of
Arc, the wonder of the time, and destined to be the wonder of all
And I could read as by print, in their marveling countenances, the
words that were drifting through their minds: "Can it be true, is it
believable, that it is this little creature, this girl, this child
with the good face, the sweet face, the beautiful face, the dear and
bonny face, that has carried fortresses by storm, charged at the head
of victorious armies, blown the might of England out of her path with
a breath, and fought a long campaign, solitary and alone, against the
massed brains and learning of France--and had won it if the fight had
Evidently Cauchon had grown afraid of Manchon because of his
pretty apparent leanings toward Joan, for another recorder was in the
chief place here, which left my master and me nothing to do but sit
idle and look on.
Well, I suppose that everything had been done which could be
thought of to tire Joan's body and mind, but it was a mistake; one
more device had been invented. This was to preach a long sermon to
her in that oppressive heat.
When the preacher began, she cast up one distressed and
disappointed look, then dropped her head again. This preacher was
Guillaume Erard, an oratorical celebrity. He got his text from the
Twelve Lies. He emptied upon Joan al the calumnies in detail that had
been bottled up in that mass of venom, and called her all the brutal
names that the Twelve were labeled with, working himself into a
whirlwind of fury as he went on; but his labors were wasted, she
seemed lost in dreams, she made no sign, she did not seem to hear. At
last he launched this apostrophe:
"O France, how hast thou been abused! Thou hast always been the
home of Christianity; but now, Charles, who calls himself thy King
and governor, indorses, like the heretic and schismatic that he is,
the words and deeds of a worthless and infamous woman" Joan raised
her head, and her eyes began to burn and flash. The preacher turned to
her: "It is to you, Joan, that I speak, and I tell you that your King
is schismatic and a heretic!"
Ah, he might abuse her to his heart's content; she could endure
that; but to her dying moment she could never hear in patience a word
against that ingrate, that treacherous dog our King, whose proper
place was here, at this moment, sword in hand, routing these reptiles
and saving this most noble servant that ever King had in this
world--and he would have been there if he had not been what I have
called him. Joan's loyal soul was outraged, and she turned upon the
preacher and flung out a few words with a spirit which the crowd
recognized as being in accordance with the Joan of Arc traditions:
"By my faith, sir! I make bold to say and swear, on pain of death,
that he is the most noble Christian of all Christians, and the best
lover of the faith and the Church!"
There was an explosion of applause from the crowd--which angered
the preacher, for he had been aching long to hear an expression like
this, and now that it was come at last it had fallen to the wrong
person: he had done all the work; the other had carried off all the
spoil. He stamped his foot and shouted to the sheriff:
"Make her shut up!"
That made the crowd laugh.
A mob has small respect for a grown man who has to call on a
sheriff to protect him from a sick girl.
Joan had damaged the preacher's cause more with one sentence than
he had helped it with a hundred; so he was much put out, and had
trouble to get a good start again. But he needn't have bothered; thee
was no occasion. It was mainly an English-feeling mob. It had but
obeyed a law of our nature--an irresistible law--to enjoy and applaud
a spirited and promptly delivered retort, no matter who makes it. The
mob was with the preacher; it had been beguiled for a moment, but only
that; it would soon return. It was there to see this girl burnt; so
that it got that satisfaction--without too much delay--it would be
Presently the preacher formally summoned Joan to submit to the
Church. He made the demand with confidence, for he had gotten the
idea from Loyseleur and Beaupere that she was worn to the bone,
exhausted, and would not be able to put forth any more resistance;
and, indeed, to look at her it seemed that they must be right.
Nevertheless, she made one more effort to hold her ground, and said,
"As to that matter, I have answered my judges before. I have told
them to report all that I have said and done to our Holy Father the
Pope--to whom, and to God first, I appeal."
Again, out of her native wisdom, she had brought those words of
tremendous import, but was ignorant of their value. But they could
have availed her nothing in any case, now, with the stake there and
these thousands of enemies about her. Yet they made every churchman
there blench, and the preacher changed the subject with all haste.
Well might those criminals blench, for Joan's appeal of her case to
the Pope stripped Cauchon at once of jurisdiction over it, and
annulled all that he and his judges had already done in the matter and
all that they should do in it henceforth.
Joan went on presently to reiterate, after some further talk, that
she had acted by command of God in her deeds and utterances; then,
when an attempt was made to implicate the King, and friends of hers
and his, she stopped that. She said:
"I charge my deeds and words upon no one, neither upon my King nor
any other. If there is any fault in them, I am responsible and no
She was asked if she would not recant those of her words and deeds
which had been pronounced evil by her judges. Here answer made
confusion and damage again:
"I submit them to God and the Pope."
The Pope once more! It was very embarrassing. Here was a person
who was asked to submit her case to the Church, and who frankly
consents--offers to submit it to the very head of it. What more could
any one require? How was one to answer such a formidably unanswerable
answer as that?
The worried judges put their heads together and whispered and
planned and discussed. Then they brought forth this sufficiently
shambling conclusion--but it was the best they could do, in so close
a place: they said the Pope was so far away; and it was not necessary
to go to him anyway, because the present judges had sufficient power
and authority to deal with the present case, and were in effect "the
Church" to that extent. At another time they could have smiled at this
conceit, but not now; they were not comfortable enough now.
The mob was getting impatient. It was beginning to put on a
threatening aspect; it was tired of standing, tired of the scorching
heat; and the thunder was coming nearer, the lightning was flashing
brighter. It was necessary to hurry this matter to a close. Erard
showed Joan a written form, which had been prepared and made all ready
beforehand, and asked her to abjure.
"Abjure? What is abjure?"
She did not know the word. It was explained to her by Massieu. She
tried to understand, but she was breaking, under exhaustion, and she
could not gather the meaning. It was all a jumble and confusion of
strange words. In her despair she sent out this beseeching cry:
"I appeal to the Church universal whether I ought to abjure or
"You shall abjure instantly, or instantly be burnt!"
She glanced up, at those awful words, and for the first time she
saw the stake and the mass of red coals--redder and angrier than ever
now under the constantly deepening storm-gloom. She gasped and
staggered up out of her seat muttering and mumbling incoherently, and
gazed vacantly upon the people and the scene about her like one who is
dazed, or thinks he dreams, and does not know where he is.
The priests crowded about her imploring her to sign the paper,
there were many voices beseeching and urging her at once, there was
great turmoil and shouting and excitement among the populace and
"Sign sign" from the priests; "sign--sign and be saved!" And
Loyseleur was urging at her ear, "Do as I told you--do not destroy
Joan said plaintively to these people:
"Ah, you do not do well to seduce me."
The judges joined their voices to the others. Yes, even the iron in
their hearts melted, and they said:
"O Joan, we pity you so! Take back what you have said, or we must
deliver you up to punishment."
And now there was another voice--it was from the other
platform--pealing solemnly above the din: Cauchon's--reading the
sentence of death!
Joan's strength was all spent. She stood looking about her in a
bewildered way a moment, then slowly she sank to her knees, and bowed
her head and said:
They gave her no time to reconsider--they knew the peril of that.
The moment the words were out of her mouth Massieu was reading to her
the abjuration, and she was repeating the words after him
mechanically, unconsciously--and smiling; for her wandering mind was
far away in some happier world.
Then this short paper of six lines was slipped aside and a long one
of many pages was smuggled into its place, and she, noting nothing,
put her mark on it, saying, in pathetic apology, that she did not know
how to write. But a secretary of the King of England was there to take
care of that defect; he guided her hand with his own, and wrote her
The great crime was accomplished. She had signed--what? She did
not know--but the others knew. She had signed a paper confessing
herself a sorceress, a dealer with devils, a liar, a blasphermer of
God and His angels, a lover of blood, a promoter of sedition, cruel,
wicked, commissioned of Satan; and this signature of hers bound her
to resume the dress of a woman.
There were other promises, but that one would answer, without the
others; and that one could be made to destroy her.
Loyseleur pressed forward and praised her for having done "such a
good day's work."
But she was still dreamy, she hardly heard.
Then Cauchon pronounced the words which dissolved the
excommunication and and restored her to her beloved Church, with all
the dear privileges of worship. Ah, she heard that! You could see it
in the deep gratitude that rose in her face and transfigured it with
But how transient was that happiness! For Cauchon, without a
tremor of pity in his voice, added these crushing words:
"And that she may repent of her crimes and repeat them no more,
she is sentenced to perpetual imprisonment, with the bread of
affliction and the water of anguish!"
Perpetual imprisonment! She had never dreamed of that--such a
thing had never been hinted to her by Loyseleur or by any other.
Loyseleur had distinctly said and promised that "all would be well
with her." And the very last words spoken to her by Erard, on that
very platform, when he was urging her to abjure, was a straight,
unqualified promised--that if she would do it she should go free from
She stood stunned and speechless a moment; then she remembered,
with such solacement as the thought could furnish, that by another
clear promise made by Cauchon himself--she would at least be the
Church's captive, and have women about her in place of a brutal
foreign soldiery. So she turned to the body of priests and said, with
a sad resignation:
"Now, you men of the Church, take me to your prison, and leave me
no longer in the hands of the English"; and she gathered up her chains
and prepared to move.
But alas! now came these shameful words from Cauchon--and with
them a mocking laugh:
"Take her to the prison whence she came!"
Poor abused girl! She stood dumb, smitten, paralyzed. It was
pitiful to see. She had been beguiled, lied to, betrayed; she saw it
The rumbling of a drum broke upon the stillness, and for just one
moment she thought of the glorious deliverance promised by her
Voices--I read it in the rapture that lit her face; then she saw what
it was--her prison escort--and that light faded, never to revive
again. And now her head began a piteous rocking motion, swaying
slowly, this way and that, as is the way when one is suffering
unwordable pain, or when one's heart is broken; then drearily she
went from us, with her face in her hands, and sobbing bitterly.
Chapter 21 Respited Only for Torture
THERE IS no certainty that any one in all Rouen was in the secret
of the deep game which Cauchon was playing except the Cardinal of
Winchester. Then you can imagine the astonishment and stupefaction of
that vast mob gathered there and those crowds of churchmen assembled
on the two platforms, when they saw Joan of Arc moving away, alive and
whole--slipping out of their grip at last, after all this tedious
waiting, all this tantalizing expectancy.
Nobody was able to stir or speak for a while, so paralyzing was the
universal astonishment, so unbelievable the fact that the stake was
actually standing there unoccupied and its prey gone.
Then suddenly everybody broke into a fury of rage; maledictions
and charges of treachery began to fly freely; yes, and even stones: a
stone came near killing the Cardinal of Winchester--it just missed his
head. But the man who threw it was not to blame, for he was excited,
and a person who is excited never can throw straight.
The tumult was very great, indeed, for a while. In the midst of it
a chaplain of the Cardinal even forgot the proprieties so far as to
oppobriously assail the august Bishop of Beauvais himself, shaking
his fist in his face and shouting:
"By God, you are a traitor!"
"You lie!" responded the Bishop.
He a traitor! Oh, far from it; he certainly was the last Frenchman
that any Briton had a right to bring that charge against.
The Early of Warwick lost his temper, too. He was a doughty
soldier, but when it came to the intellectuals--when it came to
delicate chicane, and scheming, and trickery--he couldn't see any
further through a millstone than another. So he burst out in his
frank warrior fashion, and swore that the King of England was being
treacherously used, and that Joan of Arc was going to be allowed to
cheat the stake. But they whispered comfort into his ear:
"Give yourself no uneasiness, my lord; we shall soon have her
Perhaps the like tidings found their way all around, for good news
travels fast as well as bad. At any rate, the ragings presently
quieted down, and the huge concourse crumbled apart and disappeared.
And thus we reached the noon of that fearful Thursday.
We two youths were happy; happier than any words can tell--for we
were not in the secret any more than the rest. Joan's life was saved.
We knew that, and that was enough. France would hear of this day's
infamous work--and then Why, then her gallant sons would flock to her
standard by thousands and thousands, multitudes upon multitudes, and
their wrath would be like the wrath of the ocean when the storm-winds
sweep it; and they would hurl themselves against this doomed city and
overwhelm it like the resistless tides of that ocean, and Joan of Arc
would march again
In six days--seven days--one short week--noble France, grateful
France, indignant France, would be thundering at these gates--let us
count the hours, let us count the minutes, let us count the seconds! O
happy day, O day of ecstasy, how our hearts sang in our bosoms!
For we were young then, yes, we were very young.
Do you think the exhausted prisoner was allowed to rest and sleep
after she had spent the small remnant of her strength in dragging her
tired body back to the dungeon?
No, there was no rest for her, with those sleuth-hounds on her
track. Cauchon and some of his people followed her to her lair
straightway; they found her dazed and dull, her mental and physical
forces in a state of prostration. They told her she had abjured; that
she had made certain promises--among them, to resume the apparel of
her sex; and that if she relapsed, the Church would cast her out for
good and all. She heard the words, but they had no meaning to her. She
was like a person who has taken a narcotic and is dying for sleep,
dying for rest from nagging, dying to be let alone, and who
mechanically does everything the persecutor asks, taking but dull note
of the things done, and but dully recording them in the memory. And so
Joan put on the gown which Cauchon and his people had brought; and
would come to herself by and by, and have at first but a dim idea as
to when and how the change had come about.
Cauchon went away happy and content. Joan had resumed woman's
dress without protest; also she had been formally warned against
relapsing. He had witnesses to these facts. How could matters be
But suppose she should not relapse?
Why, then she must be forced to do it.
Did Cauchon hint to the English guards that thenceforth if they
chose to make their prisoner's captivity crueler and bitterer than
ever, no official notice would be taken of it? Perhaps so; since the
guards did begin that policy at once, and no official notice was
taken of it. Yes, from that moment Joan's life in that dungeon was
made almost unendurable. Do not ask me to enlarge upon it. I will not
Chapter 22 Joan Gives the Fatal Answer
FRIDAY and Saturday were happy days for Noel and me. Our minds
were full of our splendid dream of France aroused--France shaking her
mane--France on the march--France at the gates--Rouen in ashes, and
Joan free! Our imagination was on fire; we were delirious with pride
and joy. For we were very young, as I have said.
We knew nothing about what had been happening in the dungeon in
the yester-afternoon. We supposed that as Joan had abjured and been
taken back into the forgiving bosom of the Church, she was being
gently used now, and her captivity made as pleasant and comfortable
for her as the circumstances would allow. So, in high contentment, we
planned out our share in the great rescue, and fought our part of the
fight over and over again during those two happy days--as happy days
as ever I have known.
Sunday morning came. I was awake, enjoying the balmy, lazy
weather, and thinking. Thinking of the rescue--what else? I had no
other thought now. I was absorbed in that, drunk with the happiness
I heard a voice shouting far down the street, and soon it came
nearer, and I caught the words:
"Joan of Arc has relapsed! The witch's time has come!"
It stopped my heart, it turned my blood to ice. That was more than
sixty years ago, but that triumphant note rings as clear in my memory
to-day as it rang in my ear that long-vanished summer morning. We are
so strangely made; the memories that could make us happy pass away; it
is the memories that break our hearts that abide.
Soon other voices took up that cry--tens, scores, hundreds of
voices; all the world seemed filled with the brutal joy of it. And
there were other clamors--the clatter of rushing feet, merry
congratulations, bursts of coarse laughter, the rolling of drums, the
boom and crash of distant bands profaning the sacred day with the
music of victory and thanksgiving.
About the middle of the afternoon came a summons for Manchon and
me to go to Joan's dungeon--a summons from Cauchon. But by that time
distrust had already taken possession of the English and their
soldiery again, and all Rouen was in an angry and threatening mood. We
could see plenty of evidences of this from our own
windows--fist-shaking, black looks, tumultuous tides of furious men
billowing by along the street.
And we learned that up at the castle things were going very badly,
indeed; that there was a great mob gathered there who considered the
relapse a lie and a priestly trick, and among them many half-drunk
English soldiers. Moreover, these people had gone beyond words. They
had laid hands upon a number of churchmen who were trying to enter the
castle, and it had been difficult work to rescue them and save their
And so Manchon refused to go. He said he would not go a step
without a safeguard from Warwick. So next morning Warwick sent an
escort of soldiers, and then we went. Matters had not grown peacefuler
meantime, but worse. The soldiers protected us from bodily damage, but
as we passed through the great mob at the castle we were assailed with
insults and shameful epithets. I bore it well enough, though, and said
to myself, with secret satisfaction, "In three or four short days, my
lads, you will be employing your tongues in a different sort from
this--and I shall be there to hear."
To my mind these were as good as dead men. How many of them would
still be alive after the rescue that was coming? Not more than enough
to amuse the executioner a short half-hour, certainly.
It turned out that the report was true. Joan had relapsed. She was
sitting there in her chains, clothed again in her male attire.
She accused nobody. That was her way. It was not in her character
to hold a servant to account for what his master had made him do, and
her mind had cleared now, and she knew that the advantage which had
been taken of her the previous morning had its origin, not in the
subordinate but in the master--Cauchon.
Here is what had happened. While Joan slept, in the early morning
of Sunday, one of the guards stole her female apparel and put her
male attire in its place. When she woke she asked for the other
dress, but the guards refused to give it back. She protested, and
said she was forbidden to wear the male dress. But they continued to
refuse. She had to have clothing, for modesty's sake; moreover, she
saw that she could not save her life if she must fight for it against
treacheries like this; so she put on the forbidden garments, knowing
what the end would be. She was weary of the struggle, poor thing.
We had followed in the wake of Cauchon, the Vice-Inquisitor, and
the others--six or eight--and when I saw Joan sitting there,
despondent, forlorn, and still in chains, when I was expecting to
find her situation so different, I did not know what to make of it.
The shock was very great. I had doubted the relapse perhaps; possibly
I had believed in it, but had not realized it.
Cauchon's victory was complete. He had had a harassed and
irritated and disgusted look for a long time, but that was all gone
now, and contentment and serenity had taken its place. His purple
face was full of tranquil and malicious happiness. He went trailing
his robes and stood grandly in front of Joan, with his legs apart,
and remained so more than a minute, gloating over her and enjoying
the sight of this poor ruined creature, who had won so lofty a place
for him in the service of the meek and merciful Jesus, Saviour of the
World, Lord of the Universe--in case England kept her promise to him,
who kept no promises himself.
Presently the judges began to question Joan. One of them, named
Marguerie, who was a man with more insight than prudence, remarked
upon Joan's change of clothing, and said:
"There is something suspicious about this. How could it have come
about without connivance on the part of others? Perhaps even
"Thousand devils!" screamed Cauchon, in a fury. "Will you shut
"Armagnac! Traitor!" shouted the soldiers on guard, and made a
rush for Marguerie with their lances leveled. It was with the
greatest difficulty that he was saved from being run through the
body. He made no more attempts to help the inquiry, poor man. The
other judges proceeded with the questionings.
"Why have you resumed this male habit?"
I did not quite catch her answer, for just then a soldier's halberd
slipped from his fingers and fell on the stone floor with a crash;
but I thought I understood Joan to say that she had resumed it of her
"But you have promised and sworn that you would not go back to
I was full of anxiety to hear her answer to that question; and when
it came it was just what I was expecting. She said--quiet quietly:
"I have never intended and never understood myself to swear I
would not resume it."
There--I had been sure, all along, that she did not know what she
was doing and saying on the platform Thursday, and this answer of
hers was proof that I had not been mistaken. Then she went on to add
"But I had a right to resume it, because the promises made to me
have not been kept--promises that I should be allowed to go to mass
and receive the communion, and that I should be freed from the bondage
of these chains--but they are still upon me, as you see."
"Nevertheless, you have abjured, and have especially promised to
return no more to the dress of a man."
Then Joan held out her fettered hands sorrowfully toward these
unfeeling men and said:
"I would rather die than continue so. But if they may be taken off,
and if I may hear mass, and be removed to a penitential prison, and
have a woman about me, I will be good, and will do what shall seem
good to you that I do."
Cauchon sniffed scoffingly at that. Honor the compact which he and
his had made with her?
Fulfil its conditions? What need of that? Conditions had been a
good thing to concede, temporarily, and for advantage; but they have
served their turn--let something of a fresher sort and of more
consequence be considered. The resumption of the male dress was
sufficient for all practical purposes, but perhaps Joan could be led
to add something to that fatal crime. So Cauchon asked her if her
Voices had spoken to her since Thursday--and he reminded her of her
"Yes," she answered; and then it came out that the Voices had
talked with her about the abjuration--told her about it, I suppose.
She guilelessly reasserted the heavenly origin of her mission, and
did it with the untroubled mien of one who was not conscious that she
had ever knowingly repudiated it. So I was convinced once more that
she had had no notion of what she was doing that Thursday morning on
the platform. Finally she said, "My Voices told me I did very wrong to
confess that what I had done was not well." Then she sighed, and said
with simplicity, "But it was the fear of the fire that made me do so."
That is, fear of the fire had made her sign a paper whose contents
she had not understood then, but understood now by revelation of her
Voices and by testimony of her persecutors.
She was sane now and not exhausted; her courage had come back, and
with it her inborn loyalty to the truth. She was bravely and serenely
speaking it again, knowing that it would deliver her body up to that
very fire which had such terrors for her.
That answer of hers was quite long, quite frank, wholly free from
concealments or palliations. It made me shudder; I knew she was
pronouncing sentence of death upon herself. So did poor Manchon. And
he wrote in the margin abreast of it:
Fatal answer. Yes, all present knew that it was, indeed, a fatal
answer. Then there fell a silence such as falls in a sick-room when
the watchers of the dying draw a deep breath and say softly one to
another, "All is over."
Here, likewise, all was over; but after some moments Cauchon,
wishing to clinch this matter and make it final, put this question:
"Do you still believe that your Voices are St. Marguerite and St.
"Yes--and that they come from God."
"Yet you denied them on the scaffold?"
Then she made direct and clear affirmation that she had never had
any intention to deny them; and that if--I noted the if--"if she had
made some retractions and revocations on the scaffold it was from
fear of the fire, and it was a violation of the truth."
There it is again, you see. She certainly never knew what it was
she had done on the scaffold until she was told of it afterward by
these people and by her Voices.
And now she closed this most painful scene with these words; and
there was a weary note in them that was pathetic:
"I would rather do my penance all at once; let me die. I cannot
endure captivity any longer."
The spirit born for sunshine and liberty so longed for release that
it would take it in any form, even that.
Several among the company of judges went from the place troubled
and sorrowful, the others in another mood. In the court of the castle
we found the Earl of Warwick and fifty English waiting, impatient for
news. As soon as Cauchon saw them he shouted--laughing--think of a man
destroying a friendless poor girl and then having the heart to laugh
"Make yourselves comfortable--it's all over with her!"
Chapter 23 The Time Is at Hand
THE YOUNG can sink into abysses of despondency, and it was so with
Noel and me now; but the hopes of the young are quick to rise again,
and it was so with ours. We called back that vague promise of the
Voices, and said the one to the other that the glorious release was to
happen at "the last moment"--"that other time was not the last moment,
but this is; it will happen now; the King will come, La Hire will
come, and with them our veterans, and behind them all France!" And so
we were full of heart again, and could already hear, in fancy, that
stirring music the clash of steel and the war-cries and the uproar of
the onset, and in fancy see our prisoner free, her chains gone, her
sword in her hand.
But this dream was to pass also, and come to nothing. Late at
night, when Manchon came in, he said:
"I am come from the dungeon, and I have a message for you from
that poor child."
A message to me! If he had been noticing I think he would have
discovered me--discovered that my indifference concerning the
prisoner was a pretense; for I was caught off my guard, and was so
moved and so exalted to be so honored by her that I must have shown
my feeling in my face and manner.
"A message for me, your reverence?"
"Yes. It is something she wishes done. She said she had noticed the
young man who helps me, and that he had a good face; and did I think
he would do a kindness for her? I said I knew you would, and asked her
what it was, and she said a letter--would you write a letter to her
And I said you would. But I said I would do it myself, and gladly;
but she said no, that my labors were heavy, and she thought the young
man would not mind the doing of this service for one not able to do it
for herself, she not knowing how to write. Then I would have sent for
you, and at that the sadness vanished out of her face. Why, it was as
if she was going to see a friend, poor friendless thing. But I was not
permitted. I did my best, but the orders remain as strict as ever, the
doors are closed against all but officials; as before, none but
officials may speak to her. So I went back and told her, and she
sighed, and was sad again. Now this is what she begs you to write to
her mother. It is partly a strange message, and to me means nothing,
but she said her mother would understand. You will 'convey her adoring
love to her family and her village friends, and say there will be no
rescue, for that this night--and it is the third time in the
twelvemonth, and is final--she has seen the Vision of the Tree.'"
"Yes, it is strange, but that is what she said; and said her
parents would understand. And for a little time she was lost in dreams
and thinkings, and her lips moved, and I caught in her muttering these
lines, which she said over two or three times, and they seemed to
bring peace and contentment to her. I set them down, thinking they
might have some connection with her letter and be useful; but it was
not so; they were a mere memory, floating idly in a tired mind, and
they have no meaning, at least no relevancy."
I took the piece of paper, and found what I knew I should find:
And when in exile wand'ring, we Shall fainting yearn for glimpse
of thee, Oh, rise upon our sight!
There was no hope any more. I knew it now. I knew that Joan's
letter was a message to Noel and me, as well as to her family, and
that its object was to banish vain hopes from our minds and tell us
from her own mouth of the blow that was going to fall upon us, so
that we, being her soldiers, would know it for a command to bear it
as became us and her, and so submit to the will of God; and in thus
obeying, find assuagement of our grief. It was like her, for she was
always thinking of others, not of herself. Yes, her heart was sore for
us; she could find time to think of us, the humblest of her servants,
and try to soften our pain, lighten the burden of our troubles--she
that was drinking of the bitter waters; she that was walking in the
Valley of the Shadow of Death.
I wrote the letter. You will know what it cost me, without my
telling you. I wrote it with the same wooden stylus which had put
upon parchment the first words ever dictated by Joan of Arc--that
high summons to the English to vacate France, two years past, when
she was a lass of seventeen; it had now set down the last ones which
she was ever to dictate. Then I broke it. For the pen that had served
Joan of Arc could not serve any that would come after her in this
earth without abasement.
The next day, May 29th, Cauchon summoned his serfs, and forty-two
responded. It is charitable to believe that the other twenty were
ashamed to come. The forty-two pronounced her a relapsed heretic, and
condemned her to be delivered over to the secular arm. Cauchon thanked
Then he sent orders that Joan of Arc be conveyed the next morning
to the place known as the Old Market; and that she be then delivered
to the civil judge, and by the civil judge to the executioner. That
meant she would be burnt.
All the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, the 29th, the news was
flying, and the people of the country-side flocking to Rouen to see
the tragedy--all, at least, who could prove their English sympathies
and count upon admission. The press grew thicker and thicker in the
streets, the excitement grew higher and higher. And now a thing was
noticeable again which had been noticeable more than once before--that
there was pity for Joan in the hearts of many of these people.
Whenever she had been in great danger it had manifested itself, and
now it was apparent again--manifest in a pathetic dumb sorrow which
was visible in many faces.
Early the next morning, Wednesday, Martin Ladvenu and another
friat were sent to Joan to prepare her for death; and Manchon and I
went with them--a hard service for me. We tramped through the dim
corridors, winding this way and that, and piercing ever deeper and
deeper into that vast heart of stone, and at last we stood before
Joan. But she did not know it. She sat with her hands in her lap and
her head bowed, thinking, and her face was very sad. One might not
know what she was thinking of. Of her home, and the peaceful pastures,
and the friends she was no more to see? Of her wrongs, and her
forsaken estate, and the cruelties which had been put upon her? Or was
it of death--the death which she had longed for, and which was now so
Or was it of the kind of death she must suffer? I hoped not; for
she feared only one kind, and that one had for her unspeakable
terrors. I believed she so feared that one that with her strong will
she would shut the thought of it wholly out of her mind, and hope and
believe that God would take pity on her and grant her an easier one;
and so it might chance that the awful news which we were bringing
might come as a surprise to her at last.
We stood silent awhile, but she was still unconscious of us, still
deep in her sad musings and far away. Then Martin Ladvenu said,
She looked up then, with a little start and a wan smile, and said:
"Speak. Have you a message for me?"
"Yes, my poor child. Try to bear it. Do you think you can bear it?"
"Yes"--very softly, and her head drooped again.
"I am come to prepare you for death."
A faint shiver trembled through her wasted body. There was a
pause. In the stillness we could hear our breathings. Then she said,
still in that low voice:
"When will it be?"
The muffled notes of a tolling bell floated to our ears out of the
"Now. The time is at hand."
That slight shiver passed again.
"It is so soon--ah, it is so soon"
There was a long silence. The distant throbbings of the bell pulsed
through it, and we stood motionless and listening. But it was broken
"What death is it?"
"oh, I knew it, I knew it!" She sprang wildly to her feet, and
wound her hands in her hair, and began to writhe and sob, oh, so
piteously, and mourn and grieve and lament, and turn to first one and
then another of us, and search our faces beseechingly, as hoping she
might find help and friendliness there, poor thing--she that had never
denied these to any creature, even her wounded enemy on the
"Oh, cruel, cruel, to treat me so! And must my body, that has never
been defiled, be consumed today and turned to ashes? Ah, sooner would
I that my head were cut off seven times than suffer this woeful death.
I had the promise of the Church's prison when I submitted, and if I
had but been there, and not left here in the hands of my enemies, this
miserable fate had not befallen me.
Oh, I appeal to God the Great Judge, against the injustice which
has been done me."
There was none there that could endure it. They turned away, with
the tears running down their faces. In a moment I was on my knees at
her feet. At once she thought only of my danger, and bent and
whispered in my hear: "Up!--do not peril yourself, good heart.
There--God bless you always!" and I felt the quick clasp of her hand.
Mine was the last hand she touched with hers in life. None saw it;
history does not know of it or tell of it, yet it is true, just as I
have told it. The next moment she saw Cauchon coming, and she went and
stood before him and reproached him, saying:
"Bishop, it is by you that I die!"
He was not shamed, not touched; but said, smoothly:
"Ah, be patient, Joan. You die because you have not kept your
promise, but have returned to your sins."
"Alas," she said, "if you had put me in the Church's prison, and
given me right and proper keepers, as you promised, this would not
have happened. And for this I summon you to answer before God!"
Then Cauchon winced, and looked less placidly content than before,
and he turned him about and went away.
Joan stood awhile musing. She grew calmer, but occasionally she
wiped her eyes, and now and then sobs shook her body; but their
violence was modifying now, and the intervals between them were
growing longer. Finally she looked up and saw Pierre Maurice, who had
come in with the Bishop, and she said to him:
"Master Peter, where shall I be this night?"
"Have you not good hope in God?"
"Yes--and by His grace I shall be in Paradise."
Now Martin Ladvenu heard her in confession; then she begged for
the sacrament. But how grant the communion to one who had been
publicly cut off from the Church, and was now no more entitled to its
privileges than an unbaptized pagan? The brother could not do this,
but he sent to Cauchon to inquire what he must do. All laws, human and
divine, were alike to that man--he respected none of them. He sent
back orders to grant Joan whatever she wished. Her last speech to him
had reached his fears, perhaps; it could not reach his heart, for he
The Eucharist was brought now to that poor soul that had yearned
for it with such unutterable longing all these desolate months. It
was a solemn moment. While we had been in the deeps of the prison,
the public courts of the castle had been filling up with crowds of the
humbler sort of men and women, who had learned what was going on in
Joan's cell, and had come with softened hearts to do--they knew not
what; to hear--they knew not what. We knew nothing of this, for they
were out of our view. And there were other great crowds of the like
caste gathered in masses outside the castle gates. And when the lights
and the other accompaniments of the Sacrament passed by, coming to
Joan in the prison, all those multitudes kneeled down and began to
pray for her, and many wept; and when the solemn ceremony of the
communion began in Joan's cell, out of the distance a moving sound
was borne moaning to our ears--it was those invisible multitudes
chanting the litany for a departing soul.
The fear of the fiery death was gone from Joan of Arc now, to come
again no more, except for one fleeting instant--then it would pass,
and serenity and courage would take its place and abide till the end.
Chapter 24 Joan the Martyr
AT NINE o'clock the Maid of Orleans, Deliverer of France, went
forth in the grace of her innocence and her youth to lay down her
life for the country she loved with such devotion, and for the King
that had abandoned her. She sat in the cart that is used only for
felons. In one respect she was treated worse than a felon; for
whereas she was on her way to be sentenced by the civil arm, she
already bore her judgment inscribed in advance upon a miter-shaped
cap which she wore:
HERETIC, RELAPSED, APOSTATE, IDOLATER In the cart with her sat the
friar Martin Ladvenu and MaŒtre Jean Massieu. She looked girlishly
fair and sweet and saintly in her long white robe, and when a gush of
sunlight flooded her as she emerged from the gloom of the prison and
was yet for a moment still framed in the arch of the somber gate, the
massed multitudes of poor folk murmured "A vision a vision" and sank
to their knees praying, and many of the women weeping; and the moving
invocation for the dying arose again, and was taken up and borne
along, a majestic wave of sound, which accompanied the doomed,
solacing and blessing her, all the sorrowful way to the place of
death. "Christ have pity! Saint Margaret have pity! Pray for her, all
ye saints, archangels, and blessed martyrs, pray for her! Saints and
angels intercede for her! From thy wrath, good Lord, deliver her! O
Lord God, save her! Have mercy on her, we beseech Thee, good Lord!"
It is just and true what one of the histories has said: "The poor
and the helpless had nothing but their prayers to give Joan of Arc;
but these we may believe were not unavailing. There are few more
pathetic events recorded in history than this weeping, helpless,
praying crowd, holding their lighted candles and kneeling on the
pavement beneath the prison walls of the old fortress."
And it was so all the way: thousands upon thousands massed upon
their knees and stretching far down the distances, thick-sown with
the faint yellow candle-flames, like a field starred with golden
But there were some that did not kneel; these were the English
soldiers. They stood elbow to elbow, on each side of Joan's road, and
walled it in all the way; and behind these living walls knelt the
By and by a frantic man in priest's garb came wailing and
lamenting, and tore through the crowd and the barriers of soldiers
and flung himself on his knees by Joan's cart and put up his hands in
supplication, crying out:
"O forgive, forgive!"
It was Loyseleur!
And Joan forgave him; forgave him out of a heart that knew nothing
but forgiveness, nothing but compassion, nothing but pity for all that
suffer, let their offense be what it might. And she had no word of
reproach for this poor wretch who had wrought day and night with
deceits and treacheries and hypocrisies to betray her to her death.
The soldiers would have killed him, but the Earl of Warwick saved
his life. What became of him is not known. He hid himself from the
world somewhere, to endure his remorse as he might.
In the square of the Old Market stood the two platforms and the
stake that had stood before in the churchyard of St. Ouen. The
platforms were occupied as before, the one by Joan and her judges,
the other by great dignitaries, the principal being Cauchon and the
English Cardinal--Winchester. The square was packed with people, the
windows and roofs of the blocks of buildings surrounding it were black
When the preparations had been finished, all noise and movement
gradually ceased, and a waiting stillness followed which was solemn
And now, by order of Cauchon, an ecclesiastic named Nicholas Midi
preached a sermon, wherein he explained that when a branch of the
vine--which is the Church--becomes diseased and corrupt, it must be
cut away or it will corrupt and destroy the whole vine. He made it
appear that Joan, through her wicknedness, was a menace and a peril to
the Church's purity and holiness, and her death therefore necessary.
When he was come to the end of his discourse he turned toward her and
paused a moment, then he said:
"Joan, the Church can no longer protect you. Go in peace!"
Joan had been placed wholly apart and conspicuous, to signify the
Church's abandonment of her, and she sat there in her loneliness,
waiting in patience and resignation for the end. Cauchon addressed
her now. He had been advised to read the form of her abjuration to
her, and had brought it with him; but he changed his mind, fearing
that she would proclaim the truth--that she had never knowingly
abjured--and so bring shame upon him and eternal infamy. He contented
himself with admonishing her to keep in mind her wickednesses, and
repent of them, and think of her salvation. Then he solemnly
pronounced her excommunicate and cut off from the body of the Church.
With a final word he delivered her over to the secular arm for
judgment and sentence.
Joan, weeping, knelt and began to pray. For whom? Herself? Oh,
no--for the King of France. Her voice rose sweet and clear, and
penetrated all hearts with its passionate pathos. She never thought
of his treacheries to her, she never thought of his desertion of her,
she never remembered that it was because he was an ingrate that she
was here to die a miserable death; she remembered only that he was her
King, that she was his loyal and loving subject, and that his enemies
had undermined his cause with evil reports and false charges, and he
not by to defend himself. And so, in the very presence of death, she
forgot her own troubles to implore all in her hearing to be just to
him; to believe that he was good and noble and sincere, and not in any
way to blame for any acts of hers, neither advising them nor urging
them, but being wholly clear and free of all responsibility for them.
Then, closing, she begged in humble and touching words that all here
present would pray for her and would pardon her, both her enemies and
such as might look friendly upon her and feel pity for her in their
There was hardly one heart there that was not touched--even the
English, even the judges showed it, and there was many a lip that
trembled and many an eye that was blurred with tears; yes, even the
English Cardinal's--that man with a political heart of stone but a
human heart of flesh.
The secular judge who should have delivered judgment and
pronounced sentence was himself so disturbed that he forgot his duty,
and Joan went to her death unsentenced--thus completing with an
illegality what had begun illegally and had so continued to the end.
He only said--to the guards:
"Take her"; and to the executioner, "Do your duty."
Joan asked for a cross. None was able to furnish one. But an
English soldier broke a stick in two and crossed the pieces and tied
them together, and this cross he gave her, moved to it by the good
heart that was in him; and she kissed it and put it in her bosom.
Then Isambard de la Pierre went to the church near by and brought her
a consecrated one; and this one also she kissed, and pressed it to her
bosom with rapture, and then kissed it again and again, covering it
with tears and pouring out her gratitude to God and the saints.
And so, weeping, and with her cross to her lips, she climbed up the
cruel steps to the face of the stake, with the friar Isambard at her
side. Then she was helped up to the top of the pile of wood that was
built around the lower third of the stake and stood upon it with her
back against the stake, and the world gazing up at her breathless. The
executioner ascended to her side and wound chains around her slender
body, and so fastened her to the stake. Then he descended to finish
his dreadful office; and there she remained alone--she that had had so
many friends in the days when she was free, and had been so loved and
All these things I saw, albeit dimly and blurred with tears; but I
could bear no more. I continued in my place, but what I shall deliver
to you now I got by others' eyes and others' mouths. Tragic sounds
there were that pierced my ears and wounded my heart as I sat there,
but it is as I tell you:
the latest image recorded by my eyes in that desolating hour was
Joan of Arc with the grace of her comely youth still unmarred; and
that image, untouched by time or decay, has remained with me all my
days. Now I will go on.
If any thought that now, in that solemn hour when all transgressors
repent and confess, she would revoke her revocation and say her great
deeds had been evil deeds and Satan and his fiends their source, they
erred. No such thought was in her blameless mind. She was not thinking
of herself and her troubles, but of others, and of woes that might
befall them. And so, turning her grieving eyes about her, where rose
the towers and spires of that fair city, she said:
"Oh, Rouen, Rouen, must I die here, and must you be my tomb? Ah,
Rouen, Rouen, I have great fear that you will suffer for my death."
A whiff of smoke swept upward past her face, and for one moment
terror seized her and she cried out, "Water! Give me holy water!" but
the next moment her fears were gone, and they came no more to torture
She heard the flames crackling below her, and immediately distress
for a fellow-creature who was in danger took possession of her. It was
the friar Isambard. She had given him her cross and begged him to
raise it toward her face and let her eyes rest in hope and consolation
upon it till she was entered into the peace of God. She made him go
out from the danger of the fire. Then she was satisfied, and said:
"Now keep it always in my sight until the end."
Not even yet could Cauchon, that man without shame, endure to let
her die in peace, but went toward her, all black with crimes and sins
as he was, and cried out:
"I am come, Joan, to exhort you for the last time to repent and
seek the pardon of God."
"I die through you," she said, and these were the last words she
spoke to any upon earth.
Then the pitchy smoke, shot through with red flashes of flame,
rolled up in a thick volume and hid her from sight; and from the
heart of this darkness her voice rose strong and eloquent in prayer,
and when by moments the wind shredded somewhat of the smoke aside,
there were veiled glimpses of an upturned face and moving lips. At
last a mercifully swift tide of flame burst upward, and none saw that
face any more nor that form, and the voice was still.
Yes, she was gone from us: JOAN OF ARC! What little words they
are, to tell of a rich world made empty and poor!
JOAN'S BROTHER Jacques died in Domremy during the Great Trial at
Rouen. This was sccording to the prophecy which Joan made that day in
the pastures the time that she said the rest of us would go to the
When her poor old father heard of the martyrdom it broke his
heart, and he died.
The mother was granted a pension by the city of Orleans, and upon
this she lived out her days, which were many. Twenty-four years after
her illustrious child's death she traveled all the way to Paris in the
winter-time and was present at the opening of the discussion in the
Cathedral of Notre Dame which was the first step in the
Rehabilitation. Paris was crowded with people, from all about France,
who came to get sight of the venerable dame, and it was a touching
spectacle when she moved through these reverent wet-eyed multitudes on
her way to the grand honors awaiting her at the cathedral. With her
were Jean and Pierre, no longer the light-hearted youths who marched
with us from Vaucouleurs, but war-torn veterans with hair beginning to
After the martyrdom Noel and I went back to Domremy, but presently
when the Constable Richemont superseded La Tremouille as the King's
chief adviser and began the completion of Joan's great work, we put on
our harness and returned to the field and fought for the King all
through the wars and skirmishes until France was freed of the English.
It was what Joan would have desired of us; and, dead or alive, her
desire was law for us. All the survivors of the personal staff were
faithful to her memory and fought for the King to the end. Mainly we
were well scattered, but when Paris fell we happened to be together.
It was a great day and a joyous; but it was a sad one at the same
time, because Joan was not there to march into the captured capital
Noel and I remained always together, and I was by his side when
death claimed him. It was in the last great battle of the war. In that
battle fell also Joan's sturdy old enemy Talbot. He was eighty-five
years old, and had spent his whole life in battle. A fine old lion he
was, with his flowing white mane and his tameless spirit; yes, and
his indestructible energy as well; for he fought as knighly and
vigorous a fight that day as the best man there.
La Hire survived the martyrdom thirteen years; and always
fighting, of course, for that was all he enjoyed in life. I did not
see him in all that time, for we were far apart, but one was always
hearing of him.
The Bastard of Orleans and D'Alenon and D'Aulon lived to see
France free, and to testify with Jean and Pierre d'Arc and Pasquerel
and me at the Rehabilitation. But they are all at rest now, these
many years. I alone am left of those who fought at the side of Joan
of Arc in the great wars.
She said I would live until those wars were forgotten--a prophecy
which failed. If I should live a thousand years it would still fail.
For whatsoever had touch with Joan of Arc, that thing is immortal.
Members of Joan's family married, and they have left descendants.
Their descendants are of the nobility, but their family name and
blood bring them honors which no other nobles receive or may hope
for. You have seen how everybody along the way uncovered when those
children came yesterday to pay their duty to me. It was not because
they are noble, it is because they are grandchildren of the brothers
of Joan of Arc.
Now as to the Rehabilitation. Joan crowned the King at Rheims. For
reward he allowed her to be hunted to her death without making one
effort to save her. During the next twenty-three years he remained
indifferent to her memory; indifferent to the fact that her good name
was under a damning blot put there by the priest because of the deeds
which she had done in saving him and his scepter; indifferent to the
fact that France was ashamed, and longed to have the Deliverer's fair
fame restored. Indifferent all that time. Then he suddenly changed and
was anxious to have justice for poor Joan himself. Why? Had he become
grateful at last? Had remorse attacked his hard heart? No, he had a
better reason--a better one for his sort of man. This better reason
was that, now that the English had been finally expelled from the
country, they were beginning to call attention to the fact that this
King had gotten his crown by the hands of a person proven by the
priests to have been in league with Satan and burned for it by them
as a sorceress--therefore, of what value or authority was such a
Kingship as that? Of no value at all; no nation could afford to allow
such a king to remain on the throne.
It was high time to stir now, and the King did it. That is how
Charles VII. came to be smitten with anxiety to have justice done the
memory of his benefactress.
He appealed to the Pope, and the Pope appointed a great commission
of churchmen to examine into the facts of Joan's life and award
judgment. The Commission sat at Paris, at Domremy, at Rouen, at
Orleans, and at several other places, and continued its work during
several months. It examined the records of Joan's trials, it examined
the Bastard of Orleans, and the Duke d'Alenon, and D'Aulon, and
Pasquerel, and Courcelles, and Isambard de la Pierre, and Manchon, and
me, and many others whose names I have made familiar to you; also they
examined more than a hundred witnesses whose names are less familiar
to you--the friends of Joan in Domremy, Vaucouleurs, Orleans, and
other places, and a number of judges and other people who had assisted
at the Rouen trials, the abjuration, and the martyrdom. And out of
this exhaustive examination Joan's character and history came
spotless and perfect, and this verdict was placed upon record, to
I was present upon most of these occasions, and saw again many
faces which I have not seen for a quarter of a century; among them
some well-beloved faces--those of our generals and that of Catherine
Boucher (married, alas!), and also among them certain other faces that
filled me with bitterness--those of Beaupere and Courcelles and a
number of their fellow-fiends. I saw Haumette and Little
Mengette--edging along toward fifty now, and mothers of many children.
I saw Noel's father, and the parents of the Paladin and the Sunflower.
It was beautiful to hear the Duke d'Alenon praise Joan's splendid
capacities as a general, and to hear the Bastard indorse these
praises with his eloquent tongue and then go on and tell how sweet
and good Joan was, and how full of pluck and fire and impetuosity,
and mischief, and mirthfulness, and tenderness, and compassion, and
everything that was pure and fine and noble and lovely. He made her
live again before me, and wrung my heart.
I have finished my story of Joan of Arc, that wonderful child, that
sublime personality, that spirit which in one regard has had no peer
and will have none--this: its purity from all alloy of self-seeking,
self-interest, personal ambition. In it no trace of these motives can
be found, search as you may, and this cannot be said of any other
person whose name appears in profane history.
With Joan of Arc love of country was more than a sentiment--it was
a passion. She was the Genius of Patriotism--she was Patriotism
embodied, concreted, made flesh, and palpable to the touch and visible
to the eye.
Love, Mercy, Charity, Fortitude, War, Peace, Poetry, Music--these
may be symbolized as any shall prefer: by figures of either sex and
of any age; but a slender girl in her first young bloom, with the
martyr's crown upon her head, and in her hand the sword that severed
her country's bonds--shall not this, and no other, stand for
PATRIOTISM through all the ages until time shall end?