"If I be not in the state of grace I pray God place me in it."
FRIDAY, Joan had a day of rest—if rest it might be called—in prison. Comparative rest, for though Cauchon and the Earl of Warwick visited her in her prison they did not stay long and they did not ask her many questions.
Manchon, the chief recorder of the trial, and one to whom we are indebted that it is handed down so true in all its details, tells of this visit to Joan in prison, for he accompanied them. They went to gaze at her as they might go to see a dangerous animal, captured and safely caged to ensure public safety.
There were three keys to her prison. The English Cardinal or his secretary carried one, the representative of the Inquisition carried another, and the Promoter of the trial carried the third.
For the king and statesmen of England had paid a thousand pounds for her, and had promised an annuity of three hundred pounds to the Burgundian soldier who had captured her.
They valued 'their prize too highly to let her out of their mind or sight for a whole day.
Three English soldiers were locked in with her, and besides these she saw no one except by special permission of Warwick or Cauchon. The Duchess of Bedford was asked to have her examined by competent women in the beginning and this was done. The Duchess appointed two women who pronounced Joan "a maiden pure and good," and the Duchess forthwith warned her husband to see that no harm came to the girl's honor.
Nevertheless, Joan retained her dress of a man for better safety; and her ignorance of the English language saved her from the coarse talk of her jailers, who played cards and cracked jokes all day, unmindful of her unless when they piously wished she was dead so they might have a change of scene and occupation.
On Saturday, February 24, early in the morning was opened 'the third day of the trial. The Bishop and sixty-two assessors present.
The accused was brought in wearily dragging her chains, and then the same struggle began as on the two other days, the struggle to make her swear unreservedly to answer truly all their questions.
In the exact words of the Evidence:
"We did require the aforenamed Jeanne to swear to speak the truth simply and absolutely on the questions to be addressed to her, without adding any restrictions to her oath. We did 'three times thus admonish her. She answered:
"I Give me leave to speak. By my faith! You may well ask me such things as I will not tell you. Perhaps on many of the things you may ask me I shall not tell you truly, especially on those that touch on my revelations; for you may constrain me to say 'things that I have sworn not to say; then I should be perjured, which you ought not to wish' And then she looked keenly at the Bishop and said:
" ‘I tell you, take good heed of what you say, you who are my judge; you take great responsibility in thus charging me. I should say that it is enough to have sworn twice."'
But the hectoring went on. We have it word for word in the documents, and none of it is immaterial for it concerns this great drama of five hundred years ago, newly revived through the recent action of the Church in giving Joan to us as a mediator with God.
Cauchon seemed not to notice her warning, but asked again:
"Will you swear simply and absolutely?
"You may surely do without this.
I have sworn enough already, twice. All the clergy of Rouen and Paris cannot condemn me if it be not law. Of my coming into France I will speak the truth willingly; but I will not say all: the space of eight days would not suffice."
"Take the advice of the Assessors whether you should swear or not."
"Of my coming into France I will speak truth willingly; but not of the rest. Speak no more of it to me."
"You render yourself liable to suspicion in not being willing to speak the truth absolutely."
"Speak to me no more of it. Pass on."
"We again require you to swear, precisely and absolutely."
"I will say willingly what I know, and yet not all."
And holding out her manacled hands, she said in most appealing tones:
"I am come in God's name; I have nothing to do here; let me be sent back to God, whence I came."
"Again we summon and require you to swear, under pain of going forth charged with what is imputed to you."
"A last time we require you to swear, and urgently admonish you to speak the truth on all that concerns your trial, you expose yourself to great peril by such a refusal."
Now he had said it, "on all that concerns your trial." Not "absolutely and precisely." If he had said it so at first it would have been all right, but they thought to spring it on the child. But she was wiser than they deemed her and saw the point.
"I am ready to speak the truth on what I know touching the trial," was her quick response in a relieved tone of voice.
Disgusted with his seeming victory that was really a victory for her, Cauchon turned to Beaupere and bade him question her—which he did as follows. We give it word for word, as it is in the Records:
"How long is it since you have had food and drink?"
"Since yesterday afternoon."
This and subsequent inquiries as to Joan's habit of fasting was to prove a weak bodily health that might prove her visions merely hallucinations. Joan's usual meal was bread dipped in wine and water.
"How long is it since you heard your Voices?"
"I heard them yesterday and to-day."
'At what hour yesterday did you hear them?
"Yesterday I heard them three times--once in the morning, once at Vespers, and again when the Ave Maria rang in the evening. I have even heard them oftener than that."
"What were you doing yesterday morning when the Voice came to you?"
"I was asleep; the Voice woke me."
"By touching you on the arm?"
"It awoke me without touching me.
"Was it in your room?"
"Not so far as I know, but in the Castle."
"Did you thank it and did you go on your knees? "
"I did thank it--sitting on the bed; I joined my hands; I implored its help. The Voice said to me I ‘Answer boldly!’ I asked advice as to how I should answer, begging it to entreat for this the counsel of the Lord. The Voice said to me: ‘Answer boldly; God will help thee.' Before I had prayed it to give me counsel, it said to me several words I could not readily understand. After I was awake it said to me ‘Answer boldly!’"
Turning full on Bishop Cauchon:
"You say you are my judge. Take care what you are doing; for in truth I am sent by God, and you place yourself in great danger."
Beaupere then continued:
"Has this Voice sometimes -varied in its counsel? "
"I have never found it to give two contrary opinions. This night I heard it say again Answer boldly!’ "
"Has your Voice forbidden you to say everything on what you are asked?"
"I will not answer you about that. I have revelations touching the king that I will not tell you."
Then rising and lifting her face and her voice, as if speaking to far beyond her surroundings, she said while the tears sprang to her eyes:
"I believe wholly—as firmly as I believe in the Christian Faith, and that God has redeemed us from the pains of hell, that Voice hath come to me from God, and by His command. The Voice comes to me from God; and I do not tell you all I know about it, for I have far greater fear of doing wrong in saying 'to you things that would displease it, than I have of answering you."
"Is it displeasing to God to speak the truth?"
"My Voices have entrusted to me certain things to tell to the king not to you. This very night they told me many things for the welfare of my king, which I would he might know at once,
even if I should drink no wine until Easter; the king would be more joyful at his dinner."
"Can you not so deal with your Voices that they will convey this news to your king?"
"I know not if it be God's will. If it please God He will know how to reveal it to the king and I shall be well content."
"Why does not this Voice speak any more to your king, as it did when you were in his presence?"
"I do not know if it be the will of God."
Again her thoughts were above and joining her manacled hands she said feelingly:
"Without the grace of God I should not know how to do anything."
She sat down again with a preoccupied air, and looking pitifully weary. Beaupere saw his chance:
"Are you in the grace of God?"
Joan was brought back from her dreaminess. She turned her face on Beaupere for a moment, as if trying to fathom his question.
It was a big question from a venerable doctor of theology to a young girl who acknowledged she did not know A from B.
One of the judges, Jean Lefevre, rose in his place instantly and cried out:
"It is a terrible question. The accused is not obliged to answer it."
Poor Joan. It was about the only hint of counsel she had had so far in her battle with these theologians and logicians.
Cauchon was angry in a flash.
" Silence! Take your seat. The accused will answer the question."
But in the mouth of babes God puts wisdom to confound the mighty. While all the court held its breath to hear, Joan humbly and gently gave the memorable answer to that snaring question:
"If I be not in a state of grace, I pray God place me in it; if I am, may God keep me 'there."
Beaupere and Cauchon exchanged glances and Lefevre said for all to hear:
"It was beyond the wisdom of man to devise that answer."
Joan went on:
"I should be the saddest in all the world if I knew that I were not in the grace of God. But if I were in a state of sin, do you think 'the Voice would come to me? I would that every one could hear the, Voice as I hear it. I think I was about thirteen when it came to me for the first time."
Talking of her youth brought a new thought to Beaupere.
He took a new tack in his effort to make the poor girl say something damaging to her character or the character of her Voices. The Fairy Tree was a strong point in their attack. But he must come to it indirectly so as to catch her unprepared.
"Has your counsel revealed to you that you will escape from prison?"
"I have nothing to tell you about that."
"Besides the Voice do you see anything?"
"I will not tell you all; I have not leave; my oath does not touch on that. My Voice is good and to be honored. I am not bound to answer you about it. I request that the points on which I do not now answer may be given me in writing. There is a saying among children that sometimes one is hanged for speaking the truth."
"Do the Domremy people side with the Burgundians or with the opposite party?"
"I knew only one Burgundian at Domremy; I should have been quite willing for them to have cut off his head—always had it pleased God."
"Were the people of Maxey Burgundians?"
"They were. As soon as I knew that my Voices were for the king of France, I loved the Burgundians no more."
"Had you any intention of fighting the Burgundians?"
"I had a great will and desire that my king should have his own kingdom."
"When you came into France did you wish to be a man?"
"I have answered this elsewhere."
"Did you not take the animals to the fields?"
" I have already answered this also. When I was bigger and had come to the years of discretion I did not look after the animals generally. But I helped to take them to the meadows and to a castle called The Island, for fear of the soldiers."
"What have you to say about a certain tree which is near to your village?"
This tree, like the man's dress, was one of the points on which 'they hoped to catch Joan. If her Voices and the Fairies could be connected, Joan's condemnation would be swift and easy.
But all unconscious of the malicious intent of her questioner, she answered frankly, and gave in a few words a graphic history of the tree:
"Not far from Domremy there is a tree 'that they call 'the Ladies' Tree'; others call it I the Fairies' Tree.' Nearby is a spring where people sick of the fever come to drink, as I have heard, and to seek water to restore their health.
I have myself seen them come thus; but I do not know if they were healed."
"I have heard that the sick if once cured, come to this tree to walk about. It is a beautiful tree, a beech, from which comes the ‘beau may.’ It belongs to the Seigneur Pierre de Bourlemont, Knight. I have sometimes been to play with the young girls, to make garlands for our Lady of Domremy. Often I have heard old folks—not of my lineage—say that the fairies haunt this tree. I have also heard one of my godmothers, named Jeanne, wife of the Maire Aubrey of Domremy, say that she has seen fairies there; whether it be true I do not know. As for me, I never saw them that I know of. Nor anywhere else that I know of. I have seen the young girls putting garlands on the branches of this tree, and I myself have sometimes put them there with my companions; sometimes we took these garlands away—sometimes we left them there. Ever since I knew that it was necessary for me to come into France, I have given myself up as little as possible to these distractions and games.
"Since I was grown up I do not remember to have danced there. I may have danced there when very young with the young children. I have sung there more than danced."
"There is also a wood called ‘the Oakwood,’ which can be seen from my father's door; it is not more than half a league away. I do not know and have never heard if the fairies appear there; but my brother told me that it is said in the neighborhood: I Jeannette received her mission at the fairy tree. It is not the case. I told him the contrary. When I came before the king several people asked me if there were not in my country a woods called the Oakwood, because there were prophecies which said that from the neighborhood of this wood would come a maid who should do marvelous things. I put no faith in that."
Joan was heard with great attention and the recorders bent over their papers putting down every word, and the secret recorders behind the curtains too, and from Joan's frank story of the fairies' tree and the Oakwood they made up, as we shall see later, a whole tissue of damaging superstitions against her.
Beaupere had enough to think about for one day so he contented himself with one more question, harking back to the old subject:
"Would you like to have a woman's dress?"
"Give me one and I will take it and be gone from prison. Otherwise no. I am content with what I have, since it pleases God that I wear it."
"Since it pleases God that I wear it I am content with it."
There was a saint's answer to a lawyer's quibbling question. Beaupere being a theologian should appreciate the religious beauty of it. But he shut his eyes to that and only counted it as a further refusal to abandon what they pretended to look upon as a horror:
"A woman in a man's dress."
The day's work is duly ended in the records in these words:
"This done, We stayed the Interrogation, and put off the remainder to Tuesday next, on which day we have convoked all the Assessors, at the same place and hour."