Marie-Josèphe-Angélique, Montréal, Québec, June 21, 1734. Paul Fehmiu Brown, 2005.
"I have orders to apprehend and return an arsonist, but no one has said anything to me with regard to you [Claude Thibault]. However, you will be escorted by my men back to Montréal. You are not to leave the city until the matter has been cleared. You may very well be her accomplice. As for myself, I am convinced that this girl is little more than a passing fancy for you. It will be up to the judge to make that decision." [...]
Twelve hours later, the officer and his men arrived triumphantly in the city with Marie-Josèphe-Angélique.
He gave the squad leader the order to veer onto rue Saint-Paul, in order to allow Marie-Josèphe-Angélique to observe the devastation caused by her alleged deed.
Unknowing of the magnitude of the fire that had consumed forty-six houses, the convent and the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, Marie-Josèphe-Angélique collapsed and fell to the ground.
She was brought to, pulled to her feet and the cortege continued on its way. All along the road, a look of consternation was visible on the stupefied faces of onlookers and children that mothers held by the hand or tightly in their arms. [...]
The speed with which the proceedings took place left many in wonder; there was no proof of guilt. The court already appeared to accept the word of madame Decouagne, prior even to the trial getting underway.
Did the clerk have the authority required to lead an interrogation? It appeared obvious that he was to intimidate Marie-Josèphe-Angélique and take advantage of her state of distress.
For three days and three nights, he harassed her endlessly in order to have
her admit her guilt, but she never ceased to claim her innocence.
The guard disappeared and soon returned with a strapping man carrying various items of torture in his hands.
The clerk snapped his fingers and the man went to work. He grasped Marie-Josèphe-Angélique by the neck and tore her dress down to her torso. He gestured for her to disrobe completely. She did so under the amused look of the guard, who stared at her breasts. She was pushed, her face against the wall, and her ankles were shackled with a long chain, leaving her hands free. A yoke was placed around her neck.
"This man is a deaf mute," stated the clerk. "I advise you not to make any sudden moves in order to free yourself from the yoke. You might sever your neck, which we do not want. For now, we will leave you. When I return, you will either be dead, or you will be ready to confess everything." […]