Page:Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.djvu/498

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Chapter XIX

Joan had been adjudged guilty of heresy, sorcery, and all the other terrible crimes set forth in the Twelve Articles, and her life was in Cauchon's hands at last. He could send her to the stake at once. His work was finished now, you think? He was satisfied? Not at all. What would his Archbishopric be worth if the people should get the idea into their heads that this faction of interested priests, slaving under the English lash, had wrongly condemned and burned Joan of Arc, Deliverer of France? That would be to make of her a holy martyr. Then her spirit would rise from her body's ashes, a thousandfold reinforced, and sweep the English domination into the sea, and Cauchon along with it. No, the victory was not complete yet. Joan's guilt must be established by evidence which would satisfy the people. Where was that evidence to be found? There was only one person in the world who could furnish it—Joan of Arc herself. She must condemn herself, and in public—at least she must seem to do it.

But how was this to be managed? Weeks had been spent already in trying to get her to surrender—time wholly wasted; what was to persuade her now? Torture had been threatened, the fire had been threatened; what was left? Illness, deadly fatigue, and the sight of the fire, the presence of the fire! That was left.

Now that was a shrewd thought. She was but a girl after all, and, under illness and exhaustion, subject to a girl's weaknesses.

Yes, it was shrewdly thought. She had tacitly said, herself, that under the bitter pains of the rack they would be