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 procäs. 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 months?"

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.

Joan answered:

"That is not in your procäs. I do not know when I shall be set free, but some who wish me out of this world will go from it before me."

It made some of them shiver.

"Have your Voices told you that you will be delivered from this prison?"

Without a doubt they had, and the judge knew it before he asked the question.

"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 NoČl 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 again!

That day was our understanding of it--NoČl'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'Alenáon 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 it.

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.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book