"Did you see a crown upon the King's head when he received the revelation?"

"I cannot tell you as to that, without perjury."

"Did the King have that crown at Rheims?"

"I think the King put upon his head a crown which he found there; but a much richer one was brought him afterward."

"Have you seen that one?"

"I cannot tell you, without perjury. But whether I have seen it or not, I have heard say that it was rich and magnificent."

They went on and pestered her to weariness about that mysterious crown, but they got nothing more out of her. The sitting closed. A long, hard day for all of us.

Chapter 10 The Inquisitors at Their Wits' End

THE COURT rested a day, then took up work again on Saturday, the third of March.

This was one of our stormiest sessions. The whole court was out of patience; and with good reason. These threescore distinguished churchmen, illustrious tacticians, veteran legal gladiators, had left important posts where their supervision was needed, to journey hither from various regions and accomplish a most simple and easy matter--condemn and send to death a country-lass of nineteen who could neither read nor write, knew nothing of the wiles and perplexities of legal procedure, could not call a single witness in her defense, was allowed no advocate or adviser, and must conduct her case by herself against a hostile judge and a packed jury. In two hours she would be hopelessly entangled, routed, defeated, convicted. Nothing could be more certain that this--so they thought. But it was a mistake. The two hours had strung out into days; what promised to be a skirmish had expanded into a siege; the thing which had looked so easy had proven to be surprisingly difficult; the light victim who was to have been puffed away like a feather remained planted like a rock; and on top of all this, if anybody had a right to laugh it was the country-lass and not the court.

She was not doing that, for that was not her spirit; but others were doing it. The whole town was laughing in its sleeve, and the court knew it, and its dignity was deeply hurt. The members could not hide their annoyance.

And so, as I have said, the session was stormy. It was easy to see that these men had made up their minds to force words from Joan to-day which should shorten up her case and bring it to a prompt conclusion. It shows that after all their experience with her they did not know her yet.

They went into the battle with energy. They did not leave the questioning to a particular member; no, everybody helped. They volleyed questions at Joan from all over the house, and sometimes so many were talking at once that she had to ask them to deliver their fire one at a time and not by platoons. The beginning was as usual:

"You are once more required to take the oath pure and simple."

"I will answer to what is in the procs verbal. When I do more, I will choose the occasion for myself."

That old ground was debated and fought over inch by inch with great bitterness and many threats. But Joan remained steadfast, and the questionings had to shift to other matters. Half an hour was spent over Joan's apparitions--their dress, hair, general appearance, and so on--in the hope of fishing something of a damaging sort out of the replies; but with no result.

Next, the male attire was reverted to, of course. After many well-worn questions had been re-asked, one or two new ones were put forward.

"Did not the King or the Queen sometimes ask you to quit the male dress?"

"That is not in your procs."

"Do you think you would have sinned if you had taken the dress of your sex?"

"I have done best to serve and obey my sovereign Lord and Master."

After a while the matter of Joan's Standard was taken up, in the hope of connecting magic and witchcraft with it.

"Did not your men copy your banner in their pennons?"

"The lancers of my guard did it. It was to distinguish them from the rest of the forces. It was their own idea."

"Were they often renewed?"

"Yes. When the lances were broken they were renewed."

The purpose of the question unveils itself in the next one.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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