Her heart was like to break. At their word she would have faced the fire. She meant to do so now, notwithstanding the terrible, the heartrending ache of hope that was still in her. But they did not give her that heroic command. Still and always, they said God will help you, our Lord will stand by you. What did that mean? It must mean deliverance, deliverance! What else could it mean? If she held her head high as she returned to the horrible monotony of that prison so often left with hope, so often re-entered in sadness, it must soon have dropped upon her tired bosom. Slowly the clouds had settled round her. Over and over again had she affirmed them to be true—these voices that had guided her steps and led her to victory. And they had promised her the aid of God if she went forward boldly, and spoke and did not fear. But now every way of salvation was closing; all around her were fierce soldiers thirsting for her blood, smooth priests who admonished her in charity, threatening her with eternal fire for the soul, temporal fire for the body. She felt that fire, already blowing towards her as if on the breath of the evening wind, and her girlish flesh shrank. Was that what the voices had called deliverance? was that the grand victory, the aid of the Lord?
It may well be imagined that Jeanne slept but little that night; she had reached the lowest depths; her soul had begun to lose itself in bitterness, in the horror of a doubt. The atmosphere of her prison became intolerable, and the noise of her guards keeping up their rough jests half through the night, their stamping and clamour, and the clang of their arms when relieved. Early next morning a party of her usual visitors came in upon her to give her fresh instruction and advice. Something new was about to happen to-day. She was to be led forth, to breathe the air of heaven, to confront the people, the raging sea of men’s faces, all the unknown world about her. The crowd had never been unfriendly to Jeanne. It had closed about her, almost wherever she was visible, with sweet applause and outcries of joy. Perhaps a little hope stirred her heart in the thought of being surrounded once more by the common folk, though probably it did not occur to her