Necessarily those were trying days for her, and wearing for everybody that took part; but her share was the hardest, for she had no holidays, but must be always on hand and stay the long hours through, whereas this, that, and the other inquisitor could absent himself and rest up from his fatigues when he got worn out. And yet she showed no wear, no weariness, and but seldom let fly her temper. As a rule she put her day through calm, alert, patient, fencing with those veteran masters of scholarly sword-play and coming out always without a scratch.
One day a Dominican sprung upon her a question which made everybody cock up his ears with interest; as for me, I trembled, and said to myself she is done this time, poor Joan, for there is no way of answering this. The sly Dominican began in this way—in a sort of indolent fashion, as if the thing he was about was a matter of no moment:
"You assert that God has willed to deliver France from this English bondage?"
"Yes, He has willed it."
"You wish for men-at-arms, so that you may go to the relief of Orleans, I believe?"
"Yes—and the sooner the better."
"God is all-powerful, and able to do whatsoever thing He wills to do, is it not so?"
"Most surely. None doubts it."
The Dominican lifted his head suddenly, and sprung that question I have spoken of, with exultation:
"Then answer me this. If He has willed to deliver France, and is able to do whatsoever He wills, where is the need for men-at-arms?"
There was a fine stir and commotion when he said that, and a sudden thrusting forward of heads and putting up of hands to ears to catch the answer; and the Dominican wagged his head with satisfaction, and looked about him collecting his applause, for it shone in every face. But Joan was not disturbed. There was no note of disquiet in her voice when she answered: