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 trap:
"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 cried out:
"It is a terrible question! The accused is not obliged to answer it!"
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 question!"
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 f‚e 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 me."
"Whose was the first Voice that came to you when you were thirteen years old?"
"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 F&eeacute;e de Bourlemont, and it made me shiver again, though it was so long ago.