“What need we any further witness; for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.” Jeanne’s protracted, broken, yet continuous apology and defence, overawed her judges; they do not seem to have interrupted it with questions. It was enough and more than enough. She had relapsed; the end of all things had come, the will of her enemies could now be accomplished. No one could say she had not had full justice done her; every formality had been fulfilled, every lingering formula carried out. Now there was but one thing before her, whose sad young voice with many pauses thus sighed forth its last utterance; and for her judges, one last spectacle to prepare, and the work to complete which it had taken them three long months to do.
CHAPTER XVIII — THE SACRIFICE. MAY 31, 1431.
It is not necessary to be a good man in order to divine what in certain circumstances a good and pure spirit will do. The Bishop of Beauvais had entertained no doubt as to what would happen. He knew exactly, with a perspicuity creditable to his perceptions at least, that, notwithstanding the effect which his theatrical mise en scene had produced upon the imagination of Jeanne, no power in heaven or earth would induce that young soul to content itself with a lie. He knew it, though lies were his daily bread; the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. He had bidden his English patrons to wait a little, and now his predictions were triumphantly fulfilled. It is hard to believe of any man that on such a certainty he could have calculated and laid his devilish plans; but there would seem to have existed in the mediaeval churchman a certain horrible thirst for the blood of a relapsed heretic which was peculiar to their age and profession, and which no better principle in their own minds could subdue. It was their appetite, their delight of sensation, in distinction from the other appetites perhaps scarcely less cruel which other men indulged with no such horrified denunciation from the rest of the world. Others, it is evident, shared with Cauchon that sharp sensation of dreadful pleasure in finding her out; young Courcelles, so modest and unassuming and so learned, among the rest; not L’Oyseleur, it appears by the sequel. That Judas, like the greater traitor, was struck to the heart; but the less bad man who had only persecuted, not betrayed, stood high in superior virtue, and only rejoiced that at last the victim was ready to drop into the flames which had been so carefully prepared.