Thus died the Maid of France—with “Jesus, Jesus,” on her lips—till the merciful smoke breathing upwards choked that voice in her throat; and one who was like unto the Son of God, who was with her in the fire, wiped all memory of the bitter cross, wavering uplifted through the air in the good monk’s trembling hands—from eyes which opened bright upon the light and peace of that Paradise of which she had so long thought and dreamed.
CHAPTER XVIII — AFTER.
The natural burst of remorse which follows such an event is well known in history; and is as certainly to be expected as the details of the great catastrophe itself. We feel almost as if, had there not been fact and evidence for such a revulsion of feeling, it must have been recorded all the same, being inevitable. The executioner, perhaps the most innocent of all, sought out Frere Isambard, and confessed to him in an anguish of remorse fearing never to be pardoned for what he had done. An Englishman who had sworn to add a faggot to the flames in which the witch should be burned, when he rushed forward to keep his word was seized with sudden compunction—believed that he saw a white dove flutter forth from amid the smoke over her head, and, almost fainting at the sight, had to be led by his comrades to the nearest tavern for refreshment, a life-like touch in which we recognise our countryman; but he too found his way that afternoon to Frere Isambard like the other. A horrible story is told by the Bourgeois de Paris, whose contemporary journal is one of the authorities for this period, that “the fire was drawn aside” in order that Jeanne’s form, with all its clothing burned away, should be visible by one last act of shameless insult to the crowd. The fifteenth century believed, as we have said, everything that is cruel and horrible, as indeed the vulgar mind does at all ages; but such brutal imaginings have seldom any truth to support them, and there is no such suggestion in the actual record. Isambard and Massieu heard from one of the officials that when every other part of her body was destroyed the heart was found intact, but was, by the order of Winchester, flung into the Seine along with all the ashes of that sacrifice. It was wise no doubt that no relics should be kept.
Other details were murmured abroad amid the excited talk that followed this dreadful scene. “When she was enveloped by the smoke, she cried out for water, holy water, and called to St. Michael; then hung her head upon her breast and breathing forth the name of Jesus, gently died.” “Being in the flame her voice never ceased repeating in a loud voice the holy name of Jesus, and invoking without cease the saints of paradise, she gave up her spirit, bowing her head and saying the name of Jesus in sign of the fervour of her faith.” One of the Canons of Rouen, standing sobbing in the crowd, said to another: “Would that my soul were in