This, however, was by no means the wish of Cauchon, whose spy and whisperer, L’Oyseleur, was working against it in the background. Jeanne evidently failed to take up what they meant. She did not understand the distinction between the Church militant and the Church triumphant: that God alone was her judge, and that no tribunal could decide upon the questions which were between her Lord and herself, was too firmly fixed in her mind: and again and again the men whose desire was to make her adopt this expedient, were driven back into the ever repeated questions about St. Catherine and St. Margaret.
One other of her distinctive sayings fell from her in the little interval that remained, in a series of useless questions about her standard. Was it true that this standard had been carried into the Cathedral at Rheims when those of the other captains were left behind? “It had been through the labour and the pain,” she said, “there was good reason that it should have the honour.”
This last movement of a proud spirit, absolutely disinterested and without thought of honour or advancement in the usual sense of the word, gives a sort of trumpet note at the end of these wonderful wranglings in prison, in which, however, there is a softening of tone visible throughout, and evident effect of human nature bringing into immediate contact divers human creatures day after day. Jeanne is often at her best, and never so frequently as during these less formal sittings utters those flying words, simple and noble and of absolute truth to nature, which are noted everywhere, even in the most rambling records.
The private examination, concluding with that last answer about the banner, came to an end on the 17th March, the day before Passion Sunday. Several subsequent days were occupied with repeated consultations in the Bishop’s palace, and the reading over of the minutes of the examinations, to the judges first and afterwards to Jeanne, who acknowledged their correctness, with one or two small amendments. It is only now that Cauchon reappears in his own person. On the morning of the following Sunday, which was Palm Sunday, he and four other doctors with him had a conversation with Jeanne in her prison, very early in the morning, touching her repeated application to be allowed to hear mass and to communicate. The Bishop offered her his ultimatum: if she consented to resume her woman’s dress, she might hear mass, but not otherwise; to which Jeanne replied, sorrowfully, that she would have done so before now if she could; but that it was not in her power to do so. Thus after the long and bitter Lent her hopes of sharing in the sacred feast were finally taken from her. It remains uncertain whether she considered that her change of dress would be direct disobedience to God, which her words seem often to imply; or whether it would mean renunciation of her mission, which she still hoped against hope to be able to resume; or if the fear of personal insult weighed most with her. The latter reason had evidently something to do with it, but, as evidently, not all.