I have done nothing but by revelation."
Beaupere changed his attack, and began an approach from another quarter. He would slip upon her, you see, under cover of innocent and unimportant questions.
"Did you learn any trade at home?"
"Yes, to sew and to spin." Then the invincible soldier, victor of Patay, conquerer of the lion Talbot, deliverer of Orleans, restorer of a king's crown, commander-in-chief of a nation's armies, straightened herself proudly up, gave her head a little toss, and said with načve complacency, "And when it comes to that, I am not afraid to be matched against any woman in Rouen!"
The crowd of spectators broke out with applause--which pleased Joan--and there was many a friendly and petting smile to be seen. But Cauchon stormed at the people and warned them to keep still and mind their manners.
Beaupere asked other questions. Then:
"Had you other occupations at home?"
"Yes. I helped my mother in the household work and went to the pastures with the sheep and the cattle."
Her voice trembled a little, but one could hardly notice it. As for me, it brought those old enchanted days flooding back to me, and I could not see what I was writing for a little while.
Beaupere cautiously edged along up with other questions toward the forbidden ground, and finally repeated a question which she had refused to answer a little while back--as to whether she had received the Eucharist in those days at other festivals than that of Easter. Joan merely said:
"Passez outre." Or, as one might say, "Pass on to matters which you are privileged to pry into."
I heard a member of the court say to a neighbor:
"As a rule, witnesses are but dull creatures, and an easy prey--yes, and easily embarrassed, easily frightened--but truly one can neither scare this child nor find her dozing."
Presently the house pricked up its ears and began to listen eagerly, for Beaupere began to touch upon Joan's Voices, a matter of consuming interest and curiosity to everybody. His purpose was to trick her into heedless sayings that could indicate that the Voices had sometimes given her evil advice--hence that they had come from Satan, you see. To have dealing with the devil--well, that would send her to the stake in brief order, and that was the deliberate end and aim of this trial.
"When did you first hear these Voices?"
"I was thirteen when I first heard a Voice coming from God to help me to live well. I was frightened. It came at midday, in my father's garden in the summer."
"Had you been fasting?"
"The day before?"
"From what direction did it come?"
"From the right--from toward the church."
"Did it come with a bright light?"
"Oh, indeed yes. It was brilliant. When I came into France I often heard the Voices very loud."
"What did the Voice sound like?"
"It was a noble Voice, and I thought it was sent to me from God. The third time I heard it I recognized it as being an angel's."
"You could understand it?"
"Quite easily. It was always clear."
"What advice did it give you as to the salvation of your soul?"
"It told me to live rightly, and be regular in attendance upon the services of the Church. And it told me that I must go to France."
"In what species of form did the Voice appear?"
Joan looked suspiciously at he priest a moment, then said, tranquilly:
"As to that, I will not tell you."
"Did the Voice seek you often?"
"Yes. Twice or three times a week, saying, 'Leave your village and go to France.'"
"Did you father know about your departure?"
"No. The Voice said, 'Go to France'; therefore I could not abide at home any longer."
"What else did it say?"
"That I should raise the siege of Orleans."
"Was that all?"
"No, I was to go to Vaucouleurs, and Robert de Baudricourt would give me soldiers to go with me to France; and I answered, saying that I was a poor girl who did not know how to ride, neither how to fight."
Then she told how she was balked and interrupted at Vaucouleurs, but finally got her soldiers, and began her march.