Manchon and several of the judges who had been members of our court were among the witnesses who appeared before that Tribunal of Rehabilitation. Recalling these miserable proceedings which I have been telling you about, Manchon testified thus:--here you have it, all in fair print in the unofficial history:
When Joan spoke of her apparitions she was interrupted at almost every word. They wearied her with long and multiplied interrogatories upon all sorts of things. Almost every day the interrogatories of the morning lasted three or four hours; then from these morning interrogatories they extracted the particularly difficult and subtle points, and these served as material for the afternoon interrogatories, which lasted two or three hours. Moment by moment they skipped from one subject to another; yet in spite of this she always responded with an astonishing wisdom and memory. She often corrected the judges, saying, "But I have already answered that once before--ask the recorder," referring them to me.
And here is the testimony of one of Joan's judges. Remember, these witnesses are not talking about two or three days, they are talking about a tedious long procession of days:
They asked her profound questions, but she extricated herself quite well. Sometimes the questioners changed suddenly and passed on to another subject to see if she would not contradict herself. They burdened her with long interrogatories of two or three hours, from which the judges themselves went forth fatigued. From the snares with which she was beset the expertest man in the world could not have extricated himself but with difficulty. She gave her responses with great prudence; indeed to such a degree that during three weeks I believed she was inspired.
Ah, had she a mind such as I have described? You see what these priests say under oath--picked men, men chosen for their places in that terrible court on account of their learning, their experience, their keen and practised intellects, and their strong bias against the prisoner. They make that poor country-girl out the match, and more than the match, of the sixty-two trained adepts. Isn't it so? They from the University of Paris, she from the sheepfold and the cow-stable!
Ah, yes, she was great, she was wonderful. It took six thousand years to produce her; her like will not be seen in the earth again in fifty thousand. Such is my opinion.
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 the right!"
This made a great tumult, and part of it was applause from the spectators. Joan resumed her seat.
The Bishop still insisted. Joan said:
"I have already made oath. It is enough."
The Bishop shouted:
"In refusing to swear, you place yourself under suspicion!"
"Let be. I have 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 weary tone:
"I came from God; I have nothing more to do here.