Page:Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.djvu/483

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Chapter XVI

The brilliant weather, the heavenly weather, the bewitching weather made everybody's heart to sing, as I have told you; yes, Rouen was feeling light-hearted and gay, and most willing and ready to break out and laugh upon the least occasion; and so when the news went around that the young girl in the tower had scored another defeat against Bishop Cauchon there was abundant laughter—abundant laughter among the citizens of both parties, for they all hated the Bishop. It is true, the English-hearted majority of the people wanted Joan burned, but that did not keep them from laughing at the man they hated. It would have been perilous for anybody to laugh at the English chiefs or at the majority of Cauchon's assistant judges, but to laugh at Cauchon or D'Estivet and Loyseleur was safe—nobody would report it.

The difference between Cauchon and cochon[1] was not noticeable in speech, and so there was plenty of opportunity for puns; the opportunities were not thrown away.

Some of the jokes got well worn in the course of two or three months, from repeated use; for every time Cauchon started a new trial the folk said "The sow has littered[2] again"; and every time the trial failed they said it over again, with its other meaning, "The hog has made a mess of it."

And so, on the third of May, Noël and I, drifting about the town, heard many a wide-mouthed lout let go his joke and his laugh, and then move to the next group, proud of his wit and happy, to work it off again—

  1. Hog, pig.
  2. Cochonner, to litter, to farrow; also, "to make a mess of"!