Urbain Grandier HTML version

Chapter 10
The next day a still more extraordinary scene took place. While M. de Laubardemont was
questioning one of the nuns, the superior came down into the court, barefooted; in her
chemise, and a cord round her neck; and there she remained for two hours, in the midst of
a fearful storm, not shrinking before lightning, thunder, or rain, but waiting till M. de
Laubardemont and the other exorcists should come out. At length the door opened and
the royal commissioner appeared, whereupon Sister Jeanne des Anges, throwing herself
at his feet, declared she had not sufficient strength to play the horrible part they had made
her learn any longer, and that before God and man she declared Urbain Grandier
innocent, saying that all the hatred which she and her companions had felt against him
arose from the baffled desires which his comeliness awoke--desires which the seclusion
of conventional life made still more ardent. M. de Laubardemont threatened her with the
full weight of his displeasure, but she answered, weeping bitterly, that all she now
dreaded was her sin, for though the mercy of the Saviour was great, she felt that the crime
she had committed could never be pardoned. M. de Laubardemont exclaimed that it was
the demon who dwelt in her who was speaking, but she replied that the only demon by
whom she had even been possessed was the spirit of vengeance, and that it was
indulgence in her own evil thoughts, and not a pact with the devil, which had admitted
him into her heart.
With these words she withdrew slowly, still weeping, and going into the garden, attached
one end of the cord round her neck to the branch of a tree, and hanged herself. But some
of the sisters who had followed her cut her down before life was extinct.
The same day an order for her strict seclusion was issued for her as for Sister Claire, and
the circumstances that she was a relation of M. de Laubardemont did not avail to lessen
her punishment in view of the gravity of her fault.
It was impossible to continue the exorcisms other nuns might be tempted to follow the
example, of the superior and Sister Claire, and in that case all would be lost. And besides,
was not Urbain Grandier well and duly convicted? It was announced, therefore, that the
examination had proceeded far enough, and that the judges would consider the evidence
and deliver judgment.
This long succession of violent and irregular breaches of law procedure, the repeated
denials of his claim to justice, the refusal to let his witnesses appear, or to listen to his
defence, all combined to convince Grandier that his ruin was determined on; for the case
had gone so far and had attained such publicity that it was necessary either to punish him
as a sorcerer and magician or to render a royal commissioner, a bishop, an entire
community of nuns, several monks of various orders, many judges of high reputation, and
laymen of birth and standing, liable to the penalties incurred by calumniators. But
although, as this conviction grew, he confronted it with resignation, his courage did not
fail,--and holding it to be his duty as a man and a Christian to defend his life and honour