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Title: I Will Repay
Author: Baroness Emmuska Orczy




PROLOGUE.

I

Paris: 1783.


"Coward!  Coward!  Coward!"

The words rang out, clear, strident, passionate, in a crescendo of
agonised humiliation.

The boy, quivering with rage, had sprung to his feet, and, losing his
balance, he fell forward clutching at the table, whilst with a
convulsive movement of the lids, he tried in vain to suppress the
tears of shame which were blinding him.

"Coward!"  He tried to shout the insult so that all might hear, but
his parched throat refused him service, his trembling hand sought the
scattered cards upon the table, he collected them together, quickly,
nervously, fingering them with feverish energy, then he hurled them at
the man opposite, whilst with a final effort he still contrived to
mutter: "Coward!"

The older men tried to interpose, but the young ones only laughed,
quite prepared for the adventure which must inevitably ensue, the only
possible ending to a quarrel such as this.

Conciliation or arbitration was out of the question.  Déroulède should
have known better than to speak disrespectfully of Adèle de Montchéri,
when the little Vicomte de Marny's infatuation for the notorious
beauty had been the talk of Paris and Versailles these many months
past.

Adèle was very lovely and a veritable tower of greed and egotism.  The
Marnys were rich and the little Vicomte very young, and just now the
brightly-plumaged hawk was busy plucking the latest pigeon, newly
arrived from its ancestral cote.

The boy was still in the initial stage of his infatuation.  To him
Adèle was a paragon of all the virtues, and he would have done battle
on her behalf against the entire aristocracy of France, in a vain
endeavour to justify his own exalted opinion of one of the most
dissolute women of the epoch. He was a first-rate swordsman too, and
his friends had already learned that it was best to avoid all
allusions to Adèle's beauty and weaknesses.

But Déroulède was a noted blunderer.  He was little versed in the
manners and tones of that high society in which, somehow, he still
seemed and intruder. But for his great wealth, no doubt, he never
would have been admitted within the intimate circle of aristocratic
France. His ancestry was somewhat doubtful and his coat-of-arms
unadorned with quarterings.

But little was known of his family or the origin of its wealth; it was
only known that his father had suddenly become the late King's dearest
friend, and commonly surmised that Déroulède gold had on more than one
occasion filled the emptied coffers of the First Gentleman of France.

Déroulède had not sought the present quarrel.  He had merely blundered
in that clumsy way of his, which was no doubt a part of the
inheritance bequeathed to him by his bourgeois ancestry.

He knew nothing of the little Vicomte's private affairs, still less of
his relationship with Adèle, but he knew enough of the world and
enough of Paris to be acquainted with the lady's reputation. He hated
at all times to speak of women. He was not what in those days would be
termed a ladies' man, and was even somewhat unpopular with the sex.
But in this instance the conversation had drifted in that direction,
and when Adèle's name was mentioned, every one became silent, save the
little Vicomte, who waxed enthusiastic.

A shrug of the shoulders on Déroulède's part had aroused the boy's
ire, then a few casual words, and, without further warning, the insult
had been hurled and the cards thrown in the older man's face.

Déroulède did not move from his seat.  He sat erect and placid, one
knee crossed over the other, his serious, rather swarthy face perhaps
a shade paler than usual: otherwise it seemed as if the insult had
never reached his ears, or the cards struck his cheek.

He had perceived his blunder, just twenty seconds too late.  Now he
was sorry for the boy and angered with himself, but it was too late to
draw back. To avoid a conflict he would at this moment have sacrificed
half his fortune, but not one particle of his dignity.

He knew and respected the old Duc de Marny, a feeble old man now,
almost a dotard whose hitherto spotless _blason_, the young Vicomte,
his son, was doing his best to besmirch.

When the boy fell forward, blind and drunk with rage, Déroulède leant
towards him automatically, quite kindly, and helped him to his feet.
He would have asked the lad's pardon for his own thoughtlessness, had
that been possible: but the stilted code of so-called honour forbade
so logical a proceeding. It would have done no good, and could but
imperil his own reputation without averting the traditional sequel.

The panelled walls of the celebrated gaming saloon had often witnessed
scenes such as this. All those present acted by routine. The etiquette
of duelling prescribed certain formalities, and these were strictly
but rapidly adhered to.

The young Vicomte was quickly surrounded by a close circle of friends.
His great name, his wealth, his father's influence, had opened for him
every door in Versailles and Paris. At this moment he might have had
an army of seconds to support him in the coming conflict.

Déroulède for a while was left alone near the card table, where the
unsnuffed candles began smouldering in their sockets. He had risen to
his feet, somewhat bewildered at the rapid turn of events. His dark,
restless eyes wandered for a moment round the room, as if in quick
search for a friend.

But where the Vicomte was at home by right, Déroulède had only been
admitted by reason of his wealth. His acquaintances and sycophants
were many, but his friends very few.

For the first time this fact was brought home to him.  Every one in
the room must have known and realised that he had not wilfully sought
this quarrel, that throughout he had borne himself as any gentleman
would, yet now, when the issue was so close at hand, no one came
forward to stand by him.

"For form's sake, monsieur, will you choose your seconds?"

It was the young Marquis de Villefranche who spoke, a little
haughtily, with a certain ironical condescension towards the rich
parvenu, who was about to have the honour of crossing swords with one
of the noblest gentlemen in France.

"I pray you, Monsieur le Marquis," rejoined Déroulède coldly, "to make
the choice for me. You see, I have few friends in Paris."

The Marquis bowed, and gracefully flourished his lace handkerchief.
He was accustomed to being appealed to in all matters pertaining to
etiquette, to the toilet, to the latest cut in coats, and the
procedure in duels. Good-natured, foppish, and idle, he felt quite
happy and in his element thus to be made chief organiser of the tragic
farce, about to be enacted on the parquet floor of the gaming saloon.

He looked about the room for a while, scrutinising the faces of those
around him. The gilded youth was crowding round De Marny; a few older
men stood in a group at the farther end of the room: to these the
Marquis turned, and addressing one of them, an elderly man with a
military bearing and a shabby brown coat:

"Mon Colonel," he said, with another flourishing bow; "I am deputed by
M. Déroulède to provide him with seconds for this affair of honour,
may I call upon you to..."

"Certainly, certainly," replied the Colonel.  "I am not intimately
acquainted with M. Déroulède, but since you stand sponsor, M. le
Marquis..."

"Oh!" rejoined the Marquis, lightly, "a mere matter of form, you know.
M. Déroulède belongs to the entourage of Her Majesty. He is a man of
honour. But I am not his sponsor. Marny is my friend, and if you
prefer not to..."

"Indeed I am entirely at M. Déroulède's service," said the Colonel,
who had thrown a quick, scrutinising glance at the isolated figure
near the card table, "if he will accept my services..."

"He will be very glad to accept, my dear Colonel," whispered the
Marquis with an ironical twist of his aristocratic lips. "He has no
friends in our set, and if you and De Quettare will honour him, I
think he should be grateful."

M.  de Quettare, adjutant to M. le Colonel, was ready to follow in the
footsteps of his chief, and the two men, after the prescribed
salutations to M. le Marquis de Villefranche, went across to speak to
Déroulède.

"If you will accept our services, monsieur," began the Colonel
abruptly, "mine, and my adjutant's, M. de Quettare, we place ourselves
entirely at your disposal."

"I thank you, messieurs," rejoined Déroulède. "The whole thing is a
farce, and that young man is a fool; but I have been in the wrong
and..."

"You would wish to apologise?" queried the Colonel icily.

The worthy soldier had heard something of Déroulède's reputed
bourgeois ancestry. This suggestion of an apology was no doubt in
accordance with the customs of the middle-classes, but the Colonel
literally gasped at the unworthiness of the proceeding. An apology?
Bah! Disgusting! cowardly! beneath the dignity of any gentleman,
however wrong he might be. How could two soldiers of His Majesty's
army identify themselves with such doings?

But Déroulède seemed unconscious of the enormity of his suggestion.

"If I could avoid a conflict," he said, "I would tell the Vicomte
that I had no knowledge of his admiration for the lady we were
discussing and..."

"Are you so very much afraid of getting a sword scratch, monsieur?"
interrupted the Colonel impatiently, whilst M. de Quettare elevated a
pair of aristocratic eyebrows in bewilderment at such an extraordinary
display of bourgeois cowardice.

"You mean, Monsieur le Colonel?"--queried Déroulède.

"That you must either fight the Vicomte de Marn to-night, or clear out
of Paris to-morrow. Your position in our set would become untenable,"
retorted the Colonel, not unkindly, for in spite of Déroulède's
extraordinary attitude, there was nothing in his bearing or his
appearance that suggested cowardice or fear.

"I bow to your superior knowledge of your friends, M. le Colonel,"
responded Déroulède, as he silently drew his sword from its sheath.

The centre of the saloon was quickly cleared.  The seconds measured
the length of the swords and then stood behind the antagonists,
slightly in advance of the groups of spectators, who stood massed all
round the room.

They represented the flower of what France had of the best and noblest
in name, in lineage, in chivalry, in that year of grace 1783. The
storm-cloud which a few years hence was destined to break over their
heads, sweeping them from their palaces to the prison and the
guillotine, was only gathering very slowly in the dim horizon of
squalid, starving Paris: for the next half-dozen years they would
still dance and gamble, fight and flirt, surround a tottering throne,
and hoodwink a weak monarch. The Fates' avenging sword still rested in
its sheath; the relentless, ceaseless wheel still bore them up in
their whirl of pleasure; the downward movement had only just begun:
the cry of the oppressed children of France had not yet been heard
above the din of dance music and lovers' serenades.

The young Duc de Châteaudun was there, he who, nine years later, went
to the guillotine on that cold September morning, his hair dressed in
the latest fashion, the finest Mechlin lace around his wrists, playing
a final game of piquet with his younger brother, as the tumbril bore
them along through the hooting, yelling crowd of the half-naked
starvelings of Paris.

There was the Vicomte de Mirepoix, who, a few years later, standing on
the platform of the guillotine, laid a bet with M. de Miranges that
his own blood would flow bluer than that of any other head cut off
that day in France. Citizen Samson heard the bet made, and when De
Mirepoix's head fell into the basket, the headsman lifted it up for M.
de Miranges to see. The latter laughed.

"Mirepoix was always a braggart," he said lightly, as he laid his head
upon the block.

"Who'll take my bet that my blood turns out to be bluer than his?"

But of all these comedies, these tragico-farces of later years, none
who were present on that night, when the Vicomte de Marny fought Paul
Déroulède, had as yet any presentiment.

They watched the two men fighting, with the same casual interest, at
first, which they would have bestowed on the dancing of a new movement
in the minuet.

De Marny came of a race that had wielded the sword of many centuries,
but he was hot, excited, not a little addled with wine and rage.
Déroulède was lucky; he would come out of the affair with a slight
scratch.

A good swordsman too, that wealthy parvenu.  It was interesting to
watch his sword-play: very quiet at first, no feint or parry, scarcely
a riposte, only _en garde,_ always _en garde_ very carefully,
steadily, ready for his antagonist at every turn and in every
circumstance.

Gradually the circle round the combatants narrowed.  A few discreet
exclamations of admiration greeted Déroulède's most successful parry.
De Marny was getting more and more excited, the older man more and
more sober and reserved.

A thoughtless lunge placed the little Vicomte at his opponent's mercy.
The next instant he was disarmed, and the seconds were pressing
forward to end the conflict.

Honour was satisfied: the parvenu and the scion of the ancient race
had crossed swords over the reputation of one of the most dissolute
women in France. Déroulède's moderation was a lesson to all the
hot-headed young bloods who toyed with their lives, their honour,
their reputation as lightly as they did with their lace-edged
handkerchiefs and gold snuff-boxes.

Already Déroulède had drawn back.  With the gentle tact peculiar to
kindly people, he avoided looking at his disarmed antagonist. But
something in the older man's attitude seemed to further nettle the
over-stimulated sensibility of the young Vicomte.

"This is no child's play, monsieur," he said excitedly.  "I demand
full satisfaction."

"And are you not satisfied?" queried Déroulède.  "You have borne
yourself bravely, you have fought in honour of your liege lady. I, on
the other hand..."

"You," shouted the boy hoarsely, "you shall publicly apologise to a
noble and virtuous woman whom you have outraged--now--at--once--on
your knees..."

"You are mad, Vicomte," rejoined Déroulède coldly.  "I am willing to
ask your forgiveness for my blunder..."

"An apology--in public--on your knees..."

The boy had become more and more excited.  He had suffered humiliation
after humiliation. He was a mere lad, spoilt, adulated, pampered from
his boyhood: the wine had got into his head, the intoxication of rage
and hatred blinded his saner judgment.

"Coward!" he shouted again and again.

His seconds tried to interpose, but he waved them feverishly aside.
He would listen to no one. He saw no one save the man who had insulted
Adèle, and who was heaping further insults upon her, by refusing this
public acknowledgment of her virtues.

De Marny hated Déroulède at this moment with the most deadly hatred
the heart of man can conceive. The older man's calm, his chivalry, his
consideration only enhanced the boy's anger and shame.

The hubbub had become general.  Everyone seemed carried away with this
strange fever of enmity, which was seething in the Vicomte's veins.
Most of the young men crowded round De Marny, doing their best to
pacify him. The Marquis de Villefranche declared that the matter was
getting quite outside the rules.

No one took much notice of Déroulède.  In the remote corners of the
saloon a few elderly dandies were laying bets as to the ultimate issue
of the quarrel.

Déroulède, however, was beginning to lose his temper.  He had no
friends in that room, and therefore there was no sympathetic observer
there, to note the gradual darkening of his eyes, like the gathering
of a cloud heavy with the coming storm.

"I pray you, messieurs, let us cease the argument," he said at last,
in a loud, impatient voice. "M. le Vicomte de Marny desires a further
lesson, and, by God! he shall have it. En garde, M. le Vicomte!"

The crowd quickly drew back.  The seconds once more assumed the
bearing and imperturbable expression which their important function
demanded. The hubbub ceased as the swords began to clash.

Everyone felt that farce was turning to tragedy.

And yet it was obvious from the first that Déroulède  merely meant
once more to disarm his antagonist, to give him one more lesson, a
little more severe perhaps than the last. He was such a briljant
swordsman, and De Marny was so excited, that the advantage was with
him from the very first.

How it all happened, nobody afterwards could say.  There is no doubt
that the little Vicomte's sword-play had become more and more wild:
that he uncovered himself in the most reckless way, whilst lunging
wildly at his opponent's breast, until at last, in one of these mad,
unguarded moments, he seemed literally to throw himself upon
Déroulède's weapon.

The latter tried with lightning-swift motion of the wrist to avoid the
fatal issue, but it was too late, and without a sigh or groan, scarce
a tremor, the Vicomte de Marny fell.

The sword dropped out of his hand, and it was Déroulède himself who
caught the boy in his arms.

It had all occurred so quickly and suddenly that no one had realised
it all, until it was over, and the lad was lying prone on the ground,
his elegant blue satin coat stained with red, and his antagonist
bending over him.

There was nothing more to be done.  Etiquette demanded that Déroulède
should withdraw. He was not allowed to do anything for the boy whom he
had so unwillingly sent to his death.

As before, no one took much notice of him.  Silence, the awesome
silence caused by the presence of the great Master, fell upon all
those around. Only in the far corner a shrill voice was heard to say:

"I hold you at five hundred louis, Marquis.  The parvenu is a good
swordsman."

The groups parted as Déroulède walked out of the room, followed by the
Colonel and M. de Quettare, who stood by him to the last. Both were
old and proved soldiers, both had chivalry and courage in them, with
which to do tribute to the brave man whom they had seconded.

At the door of the establishment, they met the leech who had been
summoned some little time ago to hold himself in readiness for any
eventuality.

The great eventuality had occurred: it was beyond the leech's
learning. In the brilliantly lighted saloon above, the only son of the
Duc de Marny was breathing his last, whilst Déroulède, wrapping his
mantle closely round him, strode out into the dark street, all alone.





II

The head of the house of Marny was at this time barely seventy years
of age. But he had lived every hour, every minute of his life, from
the day when the Grand Monarque gave him his first appointment as
gentleman page in waiting when he was a mere lad, barely twelve years
of age, to the moment--some ten years ago now--when Nature's
relentless hand struck him down in the midst of his pleasures,
withered him in a flash as she does a sturdy old oak, and nailed him--
a cripple, almost a dotard--to the invalid chair which he would only
quit for his last resting place.

Juliette was then a mere slip of a girl, an old man's child, the
spoilt darling of his last happy years. She had retained some of the
melancholy which had characterised her mother, the gentle lady who had
endured so much so patiently, and who had bequeathed this final tender
burden--her baby girl--to the briljant, handsome husband whom she
had so deeply loved, and so often forgiven.

When the Duc de Marny entered the final awesome stage of his gilded
career, that deathlike life which he dragged on for ten years wearily
to the grave, Juliette became his only joy, his one gleam of happiness
in the midst of torturing memories.

In her deep, tender eyes he would see mirrored the present, the future
for her, and would forget his past, with all its gaieties, its mad,
merry years, that meant nothing now but bitter regrets, and endless
rosary of the might-have-beens.

And then there was the boy.  The little Vicomte, the future Duc de
Marny, who would in _his_ life and with _his_ youth recreate the glory
of the family, and make France once more ring with the echo of brave
deeds and gallant adventures, which had made the name of Marny so
glorious in camp and court.

The Vicomte was not his father's love, but he was his father's pride,
and from the depths of his huge, cushioned arm-chair, the old man
would listen with delight to stories from Versailles and Paris, the
young Queen and the fascinating Lamballe, the latest play and the
newest star in the theatrical firmament. His feeble, tottering mind
would then take him back, along the paths of memory, to his own youth
and his own triumphs, and in the joy and pride in his son, he would
forget himself for the sake of the boy.

When they brought the Vicomte home that night, Juliette was the first
to wake. She heard the noise outside the great gates, the coach slowly
drawing up, the ring for the doorkeeper, and the sound of Matthieu's
mutterings, who never liked to be called up in the middle of the night
to let anyone through the gates.

Somehow a presentiment of evil at once struck the young girl: the
footsteps sounded so heavy and muffled along the flagged courtyard,
and up the great oak staircase. It seemed as if they were carrying
something heavy, something inert or dead.

She jumped out of bed and hastily wrapped a cloak round her thin
girlish shoulders, and slipped her feet into a pair of heelless shoes,
then she opened her bedroom door and looked out upon the landing.

Two men, whom she did not know, were walking upstairs abreast, two
more were carrying a heavy burden, and Matthieu was behind moaning and
crying bitterly.

Juliette did not move.  She stood in the doorway rigid as a statue.
The little cortège went past her. No one saw her, for the landings in
the Hotel de Marny are very wide, and Matthieu's lantern only threw a
dim, flickering light upon the floor.

The men stopped outside the Vicomte's room.  Matthieu opened it, and
then the five men disappeared within, with their heavy burden.

A moment later old Pétronelle, who had been Juliette's nurse, and was
now her devoted slave, came to her, all bathed in tears.

She had just heard the news, and she could scarcely speak, but she
folded the young girl, her dear pet lamb, in her arms, and rocking
herself to and fro she sobbed and eased her aching, motherly heart.

But Juliette did not cry.  It was all so sudden, so awful.  She, at
fourteen years of age, had never dreamed of death; and now there was
her brother, her Philippe, in whom she had so much joy, so much pride
--he was dead--and her father must be told...

The awfulness of this task seemed to Juliette like unto the last
Judgment Day; a thing so terrible, so appalling, so impossible, that
it would take a host of angels to proclaim its inevitableness.

The old cripple, with one foot in the grave, whose whole feeble mind,
whose pride, whose final flicker of hope was concentrated in his boy,
must be told that the lad had been brought home dead.

"Will you tell him, Pétronelle?" she asked repeatedly, during the
brief intervals when the violence of the old nurse's grief subsided
somewhat.

"No--no--darling, I cannot--I cannot--" moaned Pétronelle, amidst a
renewed shower of sobs.

Juliette's entire soul--a child's soul it was--rose in revolt at
thought of what was before her. She felt angered with God for having
put such a thing upon her. What right had He to demand a girl of her
years to endure so much mental agony?

To lose her brother, and to witness her fathers's grief!  She
couldn't! she couldn't! she couldn't! God was evil and unjust!

A distant tinkle of a bell made all her nerves suddenly quiver.  Her
father was awake then? He had heard the noise, and was ringing his
bell to ask for an explanation of the disturbance.

With one quick movement Juliette jerked herself free from the nurse's
arms, and before Pétronelle could prevent her, she had run out of the
room, straight across the dark landing to a large panelled door
opposite.

The old Duc de Marny was sitting on the edge of his bed, with his
long, thin legs dangling helplessly to the ground.

Crippled as he was, he had struggled to this upright position, he was
making frantic, miserable efforts to raise himself still further. He,
too, had heard the dull thud of feet, the shuffling gait of men when
carrying a heavy burden.

His mind flew back half-a-century, to the days when he had witnessed
scenes wherein he was then merely a half-interested spectator. He knew
the cortège composed of valets and friends, with the leech walking
beside that precious burden, which anon would be deposited on the bed
and left to the tender care of a mourning family.

Who knows what pictures were conjured up before that enfeebled vision?
But he guessed. And when Juliette dashed into his room and stood
before him, pale, trembling, a world of misery in her great eyes, she
knew that he guessed and that she need not tell him. God had already
done that for her.

Pierre, the old Duc's devoted valet, dressed him as quickly as he
could. M. le Duc insisted on having his _habit de cérémonie,_ the rich
suit of black velvet with the priceless lace and diamond buttons,
which he had worn when they laid le Roi Soleil to his eternal rest.

He put on his orders and buckled on his sword.  The gorgeous clothes,
which had suited him so well in the prime of his manhood, hung
somewhat loosely on his attenuated frame, but he looked a grand and
imposing figure, with his white hair tied behind with a great black
bow, and the fine jabot of beautiful point d'Angleterre falling in a
soft cascade below his chin.

Then holding himself as upright as he could, he sat in his invalid
chair, and four flunkeys in full livery carried him to the deathbed of
his son.

All the house was astir by now.  Torches burned in great sockets in
the vast hall and along the massive oak stairway, and hundreds of
candles flickered ghostlike in the vast apartments of the princely
mansion.

The numerous servants were arrayed on the landing, all dressed in the
rich livery of the ducal house.

The death of an heir of the Marnys is an event that history makes a
note of.

The old Duc's chair was placed close to the bed, where lay the dead
body of the young Vicomte. He made no movement, nor did he utter a
word or sigh. Some of those who were present at the time declared that
his mind had completely given way, and that he neither felt nor
understood the death of his son.

The Marquis de Villefranche, who had followed his friend to the last,
took a final leave of the sorrowing house.

Juliette scarcely noticed him.  Her eyes were fixed on her father.
She would not look at her brother. A childlike fear had seized her,
there, suddenly, between these two silent figures: the living and the
dead.

But just as the Marquis was leaving the room, the old man spoke for
the first time.

"Marquis," he said very quietly, "you forget--you have not yet told
me who killed my son."

"It was in a fair fight, M. de Duc," replied the young Marquis, awed
in spite of all his frivolity, his light-heartedness, by this strange,
almost mysterious tragedy.

"Who killed my son, M. le Marquis?" repeated the old man mechanically.
"I have the right to know," he added with sudden, weird energy.

"It was M. Paul Déroulède, M. le Duc," replied the Marquis.  "I
repeat, it was in fair fight."

The old Duc sighed as if in satisfaction.  Then with a courteous
gesture of farewell reminiscent of the _grand siècle_ he added:

"All thanks from me and mine to you, Marquis, would seem but a
mockery. Your devotion to my son is beyond human thanks. I'll not
detain you now. Farewell."

Escorted by two lacqueys, the Marquis passed out of the room.

"Dismiss all the servants, Juliette; I have something to say," said
the old Duc, and the young girl, silent, obedient, did as her father
bade her.

Father and sister were alone with their dead.  As soon as the last
hushed footsteps of the retreating servants died away in the distance.
The Duc de Marny seemed to throw away the lethargy which had enveloped
him until now. With a quick, feverish gesture he seized his daughter's
wrist, and murmured excitedly:

"His name.  You heard his name, Juliette?"

"Yes, father," replied the child.

"Paul Déroulède!  Paul Déroulède!  You'll not forget it?"

"Never, father!"

"He killed your brother!  You understand that?  Killed my only son,
the hope of my house, the last descendant of the most glorious race
that has ever added lustre to the history of France."

"In fair fight, father!" protested the child.

"'Tis not fair for a man to kill a boy," retorted the old man, with
furious energy.

"Déroulède is thirty: my boy was scarce out of his teens: may the
vengeance of God fall upon the murderer!"

Juliette, awed, terrified, was gazing at her father with great,
wondering eyes. He seemed unlike himself. His face wore a curious
expression of ecstasy and of hatred, also of hope and exultation,
whenever he looked steadily at her.

That the final glimmer of a tottering reason was fast leaving the
poor, aching head she was too young to realise. Madness was a word
that had only a vague meaning for her. Though she did not understand
her father at the present moment, though she was half afraid of him,
she would have rejected with scorn and horror any suggestion that he
was mad.

Therefore when he took her hand and, drawing her nearer to the bed and
to himself, placed it upon her dead brother's breast, she recoiled at
the touch of the inanimate body, so unlike anything she had ever
touched before, but she obeyed her father without any question, and
listened to his words as to those of a sage.

"Juliette, you are now fourteen, and able to understand what I am
going to ask of you. If I were not chained to this miserable chair, if
I were not a hopeless, abject cripple, I would not depute anyone, not
even you, my only child, to do that, which God demands that one of us
should do."

He paused a moment, then continued earnestly:

"Remember, Juliette, that you are of the house of Marny, that you are
a Catholic, and that God hears you now. For you shall swear an oath
before Him and me, an oath from which only death can relieve you. Will
you swear, my child?"

"If you wish it, father."

"You have been to confession lately, Juliette?"

"Yes, father; also to holy communion, yesterday," replied the child.
"It was the Fête-Dieu, you know."

"Then you are in a state of grace, my child?"

"I was yesterday morning, father," replied the young girl naïvely,
"but I have committed some little sins since then."

"Then make your confession to God in your heart now.  You must be in a
state of grace when you speak the oath."

The child closed her eyes, and as the old man watched her, he could
see the lips framing the words of her spiritual confession.

Juliette made the sign of the cross, then opened her eyes and looked
at her father.

"I am ready, father," she said; "I hope God has forgiven me the little
sins of yesterday."

"Will you swear, my child?"

"What, father?"

"That you will  avenge your brother's death on his murderer?"

"But, father..."

"Swear it, my child!"

"How can I fulfil that oath, father?--I don't understand..."

"God will guide you, my child.  When you are older you will
understand."

For a moment Juliette still hesitated.  She was just on that
borderland between childhood and womanhood when all the sensibilities,
the nervous system, the emotions, are strung to their highest pitch.

Throughout her short life she had worshipped her father with a
whole-hearted, passionate devotion, which had completely blinded her
to his weakening faculties and the feebleness of his mind.

She was also in that initial stage of enthusiastic piety which
overwhelms every girl of temperament, if she be brought up in the
Roman Catholic religion, when she is first initiated into the
mysteries of the Sacraments.

Juliette had been to confession and communion.  She had been confirmed
by Monseigneur, the Archbishop. Her ardent nature had responded to the
full to the sensuous and ecstatic expressions of the ancient faith.

And somehow her father's wish, her brother's death, all seemed mingled
in her brain with that religion, for which in her juvenile enthusiasm
she would willingly have laid down her life.

She thought of all the saints, whose lives she had been reading.  Her
young heart quivered at the thought of _their_ sacrifices, their
martyrdoms, their sense of duty.

An exaltation, morbid perhaps, superstitious and overwhelming, took
possession of her mind; also, perhaps, far back in the innermost
recesses of her heart, a pride in her own importance, her mission in
life, her individuality: for she was a girl after all, a mere child,
about to become a woman.

But the old Duc was waxing impatient.

"Surely you do not hesitate, Juliette, with your dead brother's body
clamouring mutely for revenge? You, the only Marny left now!--for
from this day I too shall be as dead."

"No, father," said the young girl in an awed whisper, "I do not
hesitate. I will swear, just as you bid me."

"Repeat the words after me, my child."

"Yes, father."

"Before the face of Almighty God, who sees and hears me..."

"Before the face of Almighty God, who sees and hears me," repeated
Juliette firmly.

"I swear that I will seek out Paul Déroulède."

"I swear that I will seek out Paul Déroulède."

"And in any manner which God may dictate to me encompass his death,
his ruin or dishonour, in revenge for my brother's death."

"And in any manner which God may dictate to me encompass his death,
his ruin or dishonour, in revenge for my brother's death," said
Juliette solemnly.

"May my brother's soul remain in torment until the final Judgment Day
if I should break my oath, but may it rest in eternal peace the day on
which his death is fitly avenged."

"May my brother's soul remain in torment until the final Judgment Day
if I should break my oath, but may it rest in eternal peace the day on
which his death is fitly avenged."

The child fell upon her knees.  The oath was spoken, the old man was
satisfied.

He called for his valet, and allowed himself quietly to be put to bed.

One brief hour had transformed a child into a woman.  A dangerous
transformation when the brain is overburdened with emotions, when the
nerves are overstrung and the heart full to breaking.

For the moment, however, the childlike nature reasserted itself for
the last time, for Juliette, sobbing, had fled out of the room, to the
privacy of her own apartment, and thrown herself passionately into the
arms of kind old Pétronelle.





CHAPTER I

Paris: 1793

The outrage.


It would have been very difficult to say why Citizen Déroulède was
quite so popular as he was. Still more difficult would it have been to
state the reason why he remained immune from the prosecutions, which
were being conducted at the rate of several scores a day, now against
the moderate Gironde, anon against the fanatic Mountain, until the
whole of France was transformed into one gigantic prison, that daily
fed the guillotine.

But Déroulède remained unscathed.  Even Merlin's law of the suspect
had so far failed to touch him. And when, last July, the murder of
Marat brought an entire holocaust of victims to the guillotine--from
Adam Lux, who would have put up a statue in honour of Charlotte
Corday, with the inscription: "Greater than Brutus", to Charlier, who
would have had her publicly tortured and burned at the stake for her
crime--Déroulède alone said nothing, and was allowed to remain
silent.

The most seething time of that seething revolution.  No one knew in
the morning if his head would still be on his own shoulders in the
evening, or if it would be held up by Citizen Samson the headsman, for
the sansculottes of Paris to see.

Yet Déroulède was allowed to go his own way.  Marat once said of him:
"Il n'est pas dangereux." The phrase had been taken up. Within the
precincts of the National Convention, Marat was still looked upon as
the great protagonist of Liberty, a martyr to his own convictions
carried to the extreme, to squalor and dirt, to the downward levelling
of man to what is the lowest type in humanity. And his sayings were
still treasured up: even the Girondins did not dare to attack his
memory. Dead Marat was more powerful than his living presentment had
been.

And he had said that Déroulède was not dangerous.  Not dangerous to
Republicanism, to liberty, to that downward, levelling process, the
tearing down of old tradidions, and the annihilation of past
pretensions.

Déroulède had once been very rich.  He had had sufficient prudence to
give away in good time that which, undoubtedly, would have been taken
away from him later on.

But when he gave willingly, at a time when France needed it most, and
before she had learned how to help herself to what she wanted.

And somehow, in this instance, France had not forgotten: an invisible
fortress seemed to surround Citizen Déroulède and keep his enemies at
bay. They were few, but they existed. The National Convention trusted
him. "He was not dangerous" to them. The people looked upon him as one
of themselves, who gave whilst he had something to give. Who can gauge
that most elusive of all things: _Popularity?_

He lived a quiet life, and had never yielded to the omni-prevalent
temptation of writing pamphlets, but lived alone with his mother and
Anne Mie, the little orphaned cousin whom old Madame Déroulède had
taken care of, ever since the child could toddle.

Everyone knew his house in the Rue Ecole de Médecine, not far from the
one wherein Marat lived and died, the only solid, stone house in the
midst of a row of hovels, evil-smelling and squalid.

The street was narrow then, as it is now, and whilst Paris was cutting
off the heads of her children for the sake of Liberty and Fraternity,
she had no time to bother about cleanliness and sanitation.

Rue Ecole de Médecine did little credit to the school after which it
was named, and it was a most unattractive crowd that usually thronged
its uneven, muddy pavements.

A neat gown, a clean kerchief, were quite an unusual sight down this
way, for Anne Mie seldom went out, and old Madame Déroulède hardly
ever left her room. A good deal of brandy was being drunk at the two
drinking bars, one at each end of the long, narrow street, and by five
o'clock in the afternoon it was undoubtedly best for women to remain
indoors.

The crowd of dishevelled elderly Amazons who stood gossiping at the
street corner could hardly be called women now. A ragged petticoat, a
greasy red kerchief round the head, a tattered, stained shift--to
this pass of squalor and shame had Liberty brought the daughters of
France.

And they jeered at any passer-by less filthy, less degraded than
themselves.

"Ah! voyons l'aristo!" they shouted every time a man in decent
clothes, a woman with tidy cap and apron, passed swiftly down the
street.

And the afternoons were very lively.  There was always plenty to see:
first and foremost, the long procession of tumbrils, winding its way
from the prisons to the Place de la Révolution. The forty-four
thousand sections of the Committee of Public Safety sent their quota,
each in their turn, to the guillotine.

At one time these tumbrils contained royal ladies and gentlemen,
_ci-devant_ dukes and princesses, aristocrats from every county in
France, but now this stock was becoming exhausted. The wretched Queen
Marie Antoinette still lingered in the Temple with her son and
daughter. Madame Elisabeth was still allowed to say her prayers in
peace, but _ci-devant_ dukes and counts were getting scarce: those who
had not perished at the hand of Citizen Samson were plying some trade
in Germany or England.

There were aristocratic joiners, innkeepers, and hairdressers.  The
proudest names in France were hidden beneath trade signs in London and
Hamburg. A good number owed their lives to that mysterious Scarlet
Pimpernel, that unknown Englishman who had snatched scores of victims
from the clutches of Tinville the Prosecutor, and sent M. Chauvelin,
baffled, back to France.

Aristocrats were getting scarce, so it was now the turn of deputies of
the National Convention, of men of letters, men of science or of art,
men who had sent others to the guillotine a twelvemonth ago, and men
who had been loudest in defence of anarchy and its Reign of Terror.

They had revolutionised the Calendar: the Citizen-Deputies, and every
good citizen of France, called this 19th day of August 1793 the 2nd
Fructidor of the year I. of the New Era.

At six o'clock on that afternoon a young girl suddenly turned the
angle of the Rue Ecole de Médecine, and after looking quickly to the
right and left she began deliberately walking along the narrow street.

It was crowded just then.  Groups of excited women stood jabbering
before every doorway. It was the home-coming hour after the usual
spectacle on the Place de la Révolution. The men had paused at the
various drinking booths, crowding the women out. It would be the turn
of these Amazons next, at the brandy bars; for the moment they were
left to gossip, and to jeer at the passer-by.

At first the young girl did not seem to heed them.  She walked quickly
along, looking defiantly before her, carrying her head erect, and
stepping carefully from cobblestone to cobblestone, avoiding the mud,
which could have dirtied her dainty shoes.

The harridans passed the time of day to her, and the time of day meant
some obscene remark unfit for women's ears. The young girl wore a
simple grey dress, with fine lawn kerchief neatly folded across her
bosom, a large hat with flowing ribbons sat above the fairest face
that ever gladdened men's eyes to see.

Fairer still it would have been, but for the look of determination
which made it seem hard and old for the girl's years.

She wore the tricolour scarf round her waist, else she had been more
seriously molested ere now. But the Republican colours were her
safeguard: whilst she walked quietly along, no one could harm her.

Then suddenly a curious impulse seemed to seize her.  It was just
outside the large stone house belonging to Citizen-Deputy Déroulède.
She had so far taken no notice of the groups of women which she had
come across. When they obstructed the footway, she had calmly stepped
out into the middle of the road.

It was wise and prudent, for she could close her ears to obscene
language and need pay no heed to insult.

Suddenly she threw up her head defiantly.

"Will you please let me pass?" she said loudly, as a dishevelled
Amazon stood before her with arms akimbo, glancing sarcastically at
the lace petticoat, which just peeped beneath the young girl's simple
grey frock.

"Let her pass?  Let her pass?  Ho! ho! ho!" laughed the old woman,
turning to the nearest group of idlers, and apostrophising them with a
loud oath. "Did _you_ know, citizeness, that this street had been
specially made for aristos to pass along?"

"I am in a hurry, will you let me pass at once?" commanded the young
girl, tapping her foot impatiently on the ground.

There was the whole width of the street on her right, plenty of room
for her to walk along. It seemed positive madness to provoke a quarrel
singlehanded against this noisy group of excited females, just home
from the ghastly spectacle around the guillotine.

And yet she seemed to do it wilfully, as if coming to the end of her
patience, all her proud, aristocratic blood in revolt against this
evil-smelling crowd which surrounded her.

Half-tipsy men and noisome, naked urchins seemed to have sprung from
everywhere.

"Oho, quelle aristo!" they shouted with ironical astonishment, gazing
at the young girl's face, fingering her gown, thrusting begrimed,
hate-distorted faces close to her own.

Instinctively she recoiled and backed towards the house immediately on
her left. It was adorned with a porch made of stout oak beams, with a
tiled roof; an iron lantern descended from this, and there was a stone
parapet below, and a few steps, at right angles from the pavement, led
up to the massive door.

On these steps the young girl had taken refuge.  Proud, defiant, she
confronted the howling mob, which she had so wilfully provoked.

"Of a truth, Citizeness Margot, that grey dress would become you
well!" suggested a young man, whose red cap hung in tatters over an
evil and dissolute-looking face.

"And all that fine lace would make a splendid jabot round the aristo's
neck when Citizen Samson holds up her head for us to see," added
another, as with mock elegance he stooped and with two very grimy
fingers slightly raised the young girl's grey frock, displaying the
lace-edged petticoat beneath.

A volley of oaths and loud, ironical laughter greeted this sally.

"'Tis mighty fine lace to be thus hidden away," commented an elderly
harridan. "Now, would you believe it, my fine madam, but my legs are
bare underneath my kirtle?"

"And dirty, too, I'll lay a wager," laughed another.  "Soap is dear in
Paris just now."

"The lace on the aristo's kerchief would pay the baker's bill of a
whole family for a month!" shouted an excited voice.

Heat and brandy further addled the brains of this group of French
citizens; hatred gleamed out of every eye. Outrage was imminent. The
young girl seemed to know it, but she remained defiant and
self-possessed, gradually stepping back and back up the steps, closely
followed by her assailants.

"To the Jew with the gewgaw, then!" shouted a thin, haggard female
viciously, as she suddenly clutched at the young girl's kerchief, and
with a mocking, triumphant laugh tore it from her bosom.

This outrage seemed to be the signal for the breaking down of the
final barriers which ordinary decency should have raised. The language
and vituperation became such as no chronicler could record.

The girl's dainty white neck, her clear skin, the refined contour of
shoulders and bust, seemed to have aroused the deadliest lust of hate
in these wretched creatures, rendered bestial by famine and squalor.

It seemed almost as if one would vie with the other in seeking for
words which would most offend these small aristocratic ears.

The young girl was now crouching against the doorway, her hands held
up to her ears to shut out the awful sounds. She did not seem
frightened, only appalled at the terrible volcano which she had
provoked.

Suddenly a miserable harridan struck her straight in the face, with
hard, grimy fist, and a long shout of exultation greeted this
monstrous deed.

Then only did the girl seem to lose her self-control.

"A moi," she shouted loudly, whilst hammering with both hands against
the massive doorway. "A moi! Murder! Murder! Citoyen Déroulède, à
moi!"

But her terror was greeted with renewed glee by her assailants.  They
were now roused to the highest point of frenzy: the crowd of brutes
would in the nex moment have torn the helpless girl from her place of
refuge and dragged her into the mire, an outraged prey, for the
satisfaction of an ungovernable hate.

But just as half-a-dozen pairs of talon-like hands clutched
frantically at her skirts, the door behind her was quickly opened. She
felt her arm seized firmly, and herself dragged swiftly within the
shelter of the threshold.

Her senses, overwrought by the terrible adventure which she had just
gone through, were threatening to reel; she heard the massive door
close, shutting out the yells of baffled rage, the ironical laughter,
the obscene words, which sounded in her ears like the shrieks of
Dante's damned.

She could not see her rescuer, for the hall into which he had hastily
dragged her was only dimly lighted. But a peremptory voice said
quickly:

"Up the stairs, the room straight in front of you, my mother is there.
Go quickly."

She had fallen on her knees, cowering against the heavy oak beam which
supported the ceiling, and was straining her eyes to catch sight of
the man, to whom at this moment she perhaps owed more than her life:
but he was standing against the doorway, with his hand on the latch.

"What are you going to do?" she murmured.

"Prevent their breaking into my house in order to drag you out of it,"
he replied quietly; "so, I pray you, do as I bid you."

Mechanically she obeyed him, drew herself to her feet, and, turning
towards the stairs, began slowly to mount the shallow steps. Her knees
were shaking under her, her whole body was trembling with horror at
the awesome crisis she had just traversed.

She dared not look back at her rescuer.  Her head was bent, and her
lips were murmuring half-audible words as she went.

Outside the hooting and yelling was becoming louder and louder.
Enraged fists were hammering violently against the stout oak door.

At the top of the stairs, moved by an irresistible impulse, she turned
and looked into the hall.

She saw his figure dimly outlined in the gloom, one hand on the latch,
his head thrown back to watch her movements.

A door stood ajar immediately in front of her.  She pushed it open and
went within.

At that moment he too opened the door below.  The shrieks of the
howling mob once more resounded close to her ears. It seemed as if
they had surrounded him. She wondered what was happening, and
marvelled how he dared to face that awful crowd alone.

The room into which she had entered was gay and cheerful-looking with
its dainty chintz hangings and graceful, elegant pieces of furniture.
The young girl looked up, as a kindly voice said to her, from out the
depths of a capacious armchair:

"Come in, come in, my dear, and close the door behind you!  Did those
wretches attack you? Never mind. Paul will speak to them. Come here,
my dear, and sit down; there's no cause now for fear."

Without a word the young girl came forward.  She seemed now to be
walking in a dream, the chintz hangings to be swaying ghostlike around
her, the yells and shrieks below to come from the very bowels of the
earth.

The old lady continued to prattle on.  She had taken the girl's hand
in hers, and was gently forcing her down on to a low stool beside her
armchair. She was talking about Paul, and said something about Anne
Mie, and then about the National Convention, and those beasts and
savages, but mostly about Paul.

The noise outside had subsided.  The girl felt strangely sick and
tired. Her head seemed to be whirling round, the furniture to be
dancing round her; the old lady's face looked at her through a swaying
veil, and then--and then...

Tired Nature was having her way at last; she folded the quivering
young body in her motherly arms, and wrapped the aching senses beneath
her merciful mantle of unconsciousness.





CHAPTER II

Citizen-Deputy.


When, presently, the young girl awoke, with a delicious feeling of
rest and well-being, she had plenty of leisure to think.

So, then, this was his house!  She was actually a guest, a rescued
protégé, beneath the roof of Citoyen Déroulède.

He had dragged her from the clutches of the howling mob which she had
provoked; his mother had made her welcome, a sweet-faced, young girl
scarce out of her teens, sad-eyed and slightly deformed, had waited
upon her and made her happy and comfortable.

Juliette de Marny was in the house of the man, whom she had sworn
before her God and before her father to pursue with hatred and
revenge.

Ten years had gone by since then.

Lying upon the sweet-scented bed which the hospitality of the
Déroulèdes had provided for her, she seemed to see passing before her
the spectres of these past ten years--the first four, after her
brothers death, until the old Duc de Marny's body slowly followed his
soul to its grave.

After that last glimmer of life beside the deathbed of his son, the
old Duc had practically ceased to be. A mute, shrunken figure, he
merely existed; his mind vanished, his memory gone, a wreck whom
Nature fortunately remembered at last, and finally took away from the
invalid chair which had been his world.

Then came those few years at the Convent of the Ursulines.  Juliette
had hoped that she had a vocation; her whole soul yearned for a
secluded, a religious, life, for great barriers of solemn vows and
days spent in prayer and contemplation, to interpose between herself
and the memory of that awful night when, obedient to her father's
will, she had made the solemn oath to avenge her brother's death.

She was only eighteen when she first entered the convent, directly
after her father's death, when she felt very lonely--both morally and
mentally lonely--and followed by the obsession of that oath.

She never spoke of it to anyone except to her confessor, and he, a
simple-minded man of great learning and a total lack of knowledge of
the world, was completely at a loss how to advise.

The Archbishop was consulted.  He could grant a dispensation, and
release her of that most solemn vow.

When first this idea was suggested to her, Juliette was exultant.  Her
entire nature, which in itself was wholesome, light-hearted, the very
reverse of morbid, rebelled against this unnatural task placed upon
her young shoulders. It was only religion--the strange, warped
religion of that extraordinary age--which kept her to it, which
forbade her breaking lightly that most unnatural oath.

The Archbishop was a man of many duties, many engagements.  He agreed
to give this strange "cas de conscience" his most earnest attention.
He would make no promises. But Mademoiselle de Marny was rich: a
munificent donation to the poor of Paris, or to some cause dear to the
Holy Father himself, might perhaps be more acceptable to God than the
fulfilment of a compulsory vow.

Juliette, within the convent walls, was waiting patiently for the
Archbishop's decision at the very moment, when the greatest upheaval
the world has ever known was beginning to shake the very foundations
of France.

The Archbishop had other things now to think about than isolated cases
of conscience. He forgot all about Juliette, probably. He was busy
consoling a monarch for the loss of his throne, and preparing himself
and his royal patron for the scaffold.

The Convent of the Ursulines was scattered during the Terror.
Everyone remembers the Thermidor massacres, and the thirty-four nuns,
all daughters of ancient families of France, who went so cheerfully to
the scaffold.

Juliette was one of those who escaped condemnation.  How or why, she
herself could not have told. She was very young, and still a
postulant; she was allowed to live in retirement with Pétronelle, her
old nurse, who had remained faithful through all these years.

Then the Archbishop was prosecuted and imprisoned.  Juliette made
frantic efforts to see him, but all in vain. When he died, she looked
upon her spiritual guide's death as a direct warning from God, that
nothing could relieve her of her oath.

She had watched the turmoils of the Revolution through the attic
window of her tiny apartment in Paris. Waited upon by faithful
Pétronelle, she had been forced to live on the savings of that worthy
old soul, as all her property, all the Marny estates, the _dot_ she
took with her to the convent--everything, in fact--had been seized
by the Revolutionary Government, self appointed to level fortunes, as
well as individuals.

From that attic window she had seen beautiful Paris writhing under the
pitiless lash of the demon of terror which it had provoked; she had
heard the rumble of the tumbrils, dragging day after day their load of
victims to the insatiable maker of this Revolution of Fraternity--the
Guillotine.

She had seen the gay, light-hearted people of this Star-City turned to
howling beasts of prey, its women changed to sexless vultures, with
murderous talons implanted in everything that is noble, high or
beautiful.

She was not twenty when the feeble, vacillating monarch and his
imperious consort were dragged back--a pair of humiliated prisoners--
to the capital from which they had tried to flee.

Two years later, she had heard the cries of an entire people exulting
over a regicide. Then the murder of Marat, by a young girl like
herself, the pale-faced, large-eyed Charlotte, who had commited a
crime for the sake of a conviction. "Greater than Brutus!" some had
called her. Greater than Joan of Arc, for it was to a mission of evil
and of sin that she was called from the depths of her Breton village,
and not to one of glory and triumph.

"Greater than Brutus!"

Juliette followed the trial of Charlotte Corday with all the
passionate ardour of her exalted temperament.

Just think what an effect it must have had upon the mind of this young
girl, who for nine years--the best of her life--had also lived with
the idea of a sublime mission pervading her very soul.

She watched Charlotte Corday at her trial.  Conquering her natural
repulsion for such scenes, and the crowds which usually watched them,
she had forced her way into the foremost rank of the narrow gallery
which overlooked the Hall of the Revolutionary Tribunal.

She heard the indictment, heard Tinville's speech and the calling of
the witnesses.

"All this is unnecessary.  I killed Marat!"

Juliette heard the fresh young voice ringing out clearly above the
murmur of voices, the howls of execration; she saw the beautiful young
face, clear, calm, impassive.

"I killed Marat!"

And there in the special space allotted to the Citizen-Deputies,
sitting among those who represented the party of the Moderate Gironde,
was Paul Déroulède, the man whom she had sworn to pursue with a
vengeance as great, as complete, as that which guided Charlotte
Corday's hand.

She watched him during the trial, and wondered if he had any
presentiment of the hatred which dogged him, like unto the one which
had dogged Marat.

He was very dark, almost swarthy a son of the South, with brown hair,
free from powder, thrown back and revealing the brow of a student
rather than that of a legislator. He watched Charlotte Corday
earnestly, and Juliette who watched him saw the look of measureless
pity, which softened the otherwise hard look of his close-set eyes.

He made an impassioned speech for the defence: a speech which has
become historic. It would have cost any other man his head.

Juliette marvelled at his courage; to defend Charlotte Corday was
equivalent to acquiescing in the death of Marat: Marat, the friend of
the people; Marat, whom his funeral orators had compared to the Great,
the Sacred Leveller of Mankind!

But Déroulède's speech was not a defence, it was an appeal.  The most
eloquent man of that eloquent age, his words seemed to find that
hidden bit of sentiment which still lurked in the hearts of these
strange protagonists of Hate.

Everyone round Juliette listened as he spoke: "It is Citoyen
Déroulède!" whispered the bloodthirsty Amazons, who sat knitting in
the gallery.

But there was no further comment.  A huge, magnificently-equipped
hospital for sick children had been thrown open in Paris that very
morning, a gift to the nation from Citoyen Déroulède. Surely he was
privileged to talk a little, if it pleased him. His hospital would
cover quite a good many defalcations.

Even the rabid Mountain, Danton, Merlin, Santerre, shrugged their
shoulders. "It is Déroulède, let him talk an he list. Murdered Marat
said of him that he was not dangerous."

Juliette heard it all.  The knitters round her ware talking loudly.
Even Charlotte was almost forgotten whilst Déroulède talked. He had a
fine voice, of strong calibre, which echoed powerfully through the
hall.

He was rather short, but broad-shouldered and well knit, with an
expressive hand, which looked slender and delicate below the fine lace
ruffle.

Charlotte Corday was condemned.  All Déroulède's eloquence could not
save her.

Juliette left the court in a state of mad exultation.  She was very
young: the scenes she had witnessed in the past two years could not
help but excite the imagination of a young girl, left entirely to her
own intellectual and moral resources.

What scenes!  Great God!

And now to wait for an opportunity!  Charlotte Corday, the
half-educated litte provincial should not put to shame Mademoiselle de
Marny, the daughter of a hundred dukes, of those who had made France
before she took to unmaking herself.

But she could not formulate any definite plans.  Pétronelle, poor old
soul, her only confidante, was not of the stuff that heroines are made
of. Juliette felt impelled by duty, and duty at best is not so prompt
a counsellor as love or hate.

Her adventure outside Déroulède's house had not been premeditated.
Impulse and coincidence had worked their will with her.

She had been in the habit, daily, for the past month, of wandering
down the Rue Ecole de Médecine, ostensibly to gaze at Marat's
dwelling, as crowds of idlers were wont to do, but really in order to
look at Déroulède's house. Once or twice she saw him coming or going
from home. Once she caught sight of the inner hall, and of a young
girl in a dark kirtle and snow-white kerchief bidding him good-bye at
his door. Another time she caught sight of him at the corner of the
street, helping that same young girl over the muddy pavement. He had
just met her, and she was carrying a basket of provisions: he took it
from her and carried it to the house.

Chivalrous--eh?--and innately so, evidently, for the girl was slightly
deformed: hardly a hunchback, but weak and unattractive-looking, with
melancholy eyes, and a pale, pinched face.

It was the thought of that little act of simple chivalry, witnessed
the day before, which caused Juliette to provoke the scene which, but
for Déroulède's timely interference, might have ended so fatally. But
she reckoned on that interference: the whole thing had occurred to her
suddenly, and she had carried it through.

Had not her father said to her that when the time came, God would show
her a means to the end?

And now she was inside the house of the man who had murdered her
brother and sent her sorrowing father, a poor, senseless maniac,
tottering to the grave.

Would God's finger point again, and show her what to to next, how best
to accomplish what she had sworn to do?






CHAPTER III

Hospitality.


"Is there anything more I can do for you now, mademoiselle?"

The gentle, timid voice roused Juliette from the contemplation of the
past.

She smiled at Anne Mie, and held her hand out towards her.

"You have all been so kind," she said, "I want to get up now and thank
you all."

"Don't move unless you feel quite well."

"I am quite well now.  Those horrid people frightened me so, that is
why I fainted."

"They would have half-killed you, if..."

"Will you tell me where I am?" asked Juliette.

"In the house of M. Paul Déroulède--I should have said of
Citizen-Deputy Déroulède. He rescued you from the mob, and pacified
them. He has such a beautiful voice that he can make anyone listen to
him, and..."

"And you are fond of him, mademoiselle?" added Juliette, suddenly
feeling a mist of tears rising to her eyes.

"Of course I am fond of him," rejoined the other girl simply, whilst a
look of the most tender-hearted devotion seemed to beautify her pale
face. "He and Madame Déroulède have brought me up; I never knew my
parents. They have cared for me, and he has taught me all I know."

"What do they call you, mademoiselle?"

"My name is Anne Mie."

"And mine, Juliette--Juliette Marny," she added after a slight
hesitation. "I have no parents either. My old nurse, Pétronelle, has
brought me up, and--But tell me more about M. Déroulède--I owe him
so much, I'd like to know him better."

"Will you not let me arrange your hair?" said Anne Mie as if purposely
evading a direct reply. "M. Déroulède is in the salon with madame. You
can see him then."

Juliette asked no more questions, but allowed Anne Mie to tidy her
hair for her, to lend her a fresh kerchief and generally to efface all
traces of her terrible adventure. She felt puzzled and tearful. Anne
Mie's gentleness seemed somehow to jar on her spirits. She could not
understand the girl's position in the Déroulède household. Was she a
relative, or a superior servant? In these troublous times she might
easily have been both.

In any case she was a childhood's companion of the Citizen-Deputy--
whether on an equal or a humbler footing, Juliette would have given
much to ascertain.

With the marvellous instinct peculiar to women of temperament, she had
already divined Anne Mie's love for Déroulède. The poor young
cripple's very soul seemed to quiver magnetically at the bare mention
of his name, her whole face became transfigured: Juliette even thought
her beautiful then.

She looked at herself critically in the glass, and adjusted a curl,
which looked its best when it was rebellious. She scrutinised her own
face carefully; why? she could not tell: another of those subtle
feminine instincts perhaps.

The becoming simplicity of the prevailing mode suited her to
perfection. The waist line, rather high but clearly defined--a
precursor of the later more accentuated fashion--gave grace to her
long slender limbs, and emphasised the lissomeness of her figure. The
kerchief, edged with fine lace, and neatly folded across her bosom,
softened the contour of her girlish bust and shoulders.

And her hair was a veritable glory round her dainty, piquant face.
Soft, fair, and curly, it emerged in a golden halo from beneath the
prettiest little lace cap imaginable.

She turned and faced Anne Mie, ready to follow her out of the room,
and the young crippled girl sighed as she smoothed down the folds of
her own apron, and gave a final touch to the completion of Juliette's
attire.

The time before the evening meal slipped by like a dream-hour for
Juliette.

She had lived so much alone, had led such an introspective life, that
she had hardly realised and understood all that was going on around
her. At the time when the inner vitality of France first asserted
itself and then swept away all that hindered its mad progress, she was
tied to the invalid chair of her half-demented father; then, after
that, the sheltering walls of the Ursuline Convent had hidden from her
mental vision the true meaning of the great conflict, between the Old
Era and the New.

Déroulède was neither a pedant nor yet a revolutionary: his theories
were Utopian and he had an extraordinary overpowering sympathy for his
fellow-men.

After the first casual greetings with Juliette, he had continued a
discussion with his mother, which the young girl's entrance had
interrupted.

He seemed to take but little notice of her, although at times his
dark, keen eyes would seek hers, as if challenging her for a reply.

He was talking of the mob of Paris, whom he evidently understood so
well. Incidents such as the one which Juliette had provoked, had led
to rape and theft, often to murder, before now: but outside
Citizen-Deputy Déroulède's house everything was quiet, half-an-hour
after Juliette's escape from that howling, brutish crowd.

He had merely spoken to them, for about twenty minutes, and they had
gone away quite quietly, without even touching one hair of his head.
He seemed to love them: to know how to separate the little good that
was in them, from that hard crust of evil, which misery had put around
their hearts.

Once he addressed Juliette somewhat abruptly: "Pardon me,
mademoiselle, but for your own sake we must guard you a prisoner here
awhile. No one would harm you under this roof, but it would not be
safe for you to cross the neighbouring streets to-night."

"But I must go, monsieur.  Indeed, indeed I must!" she said earnestly.
"I am deeply grateful to you, but I could not leave Pétronelle."

"Who is Pétronelle?"

"My dear old nurse, monsieur.  She has never left me.  Think how
anxious and miserable she must be, at my prolonged absence."

"Where does she live?"

"At No. 15 Rue Taitbout, but..."

"Will you allow me to take her a message?--telling her that you are
safe and under my roof, where it is obviously more prudent that you
should remain at present."

"If you think it best, monsieur," she replied.

Inwardly she was trembling with excitement.  God had not only brought
her to this house, but willed that she should stay in it.

"In whose name shall I take the message, mademoiselle?" he asked.

"My name is Juliette Marny."

She watched him keenly as she said it, but there was not the slightest
sign in his expressive face, to show that he had recognised the name.

Ten years is a long time, and every one had lived through so much
during those years! A wave of intense wrath swept through Juliette's
soul, as she realised that he had forgotten. The name meant nothing to
him! It did not recall to him the fact that his hand was stained with
blood. During ten years she had suffered, she had fought with herself,
fought for him as it were, against the Fate which she was destined to
mete out to him, whilst he had forgotten, or at least had ceased to
think.

He bowed to her and went out of the room.

The wave of wrath subsided, and she was left alone with Madame
Déroulède: presently Anne Mie came in.

The three women chatted together, waiting for the return of the master
of the house. Juliette felt well and, in spite of herself, almost
happy. She had lived so long in the miserable, little attic alone with
Pétronelle that she enjoyed the well-being of this refined home. It
was not so grand or gorgeous of course as her father's princely palace
opposite the Louvre, a wreck now, since it was annexed by the
Committee of National Defence, for the housing of soldiery. But the
Déroulèdes' home was essentially a refined one. The delicate china on
the tall chimney-piece, the few bits of Buhl and Vernis Martin about
the room, the vision through the open doorway of the supper-table
spread with a fine white cloth, and sparkling with silver, all spoke
of fastidious tastes, of habits of luxury and elegance, which the
spirit of Equality and Anarchy had not succeeded in eradicating.

When Déroulède  came back, he brought an atmosphere of breezy
cheerfulness with him.

The street was quiet now, and when walking past the hospital--his own
gift to the Nation--he had been loudly cheered. One or two ironical
voices had asked him what he had done with the aristo and her lace
furbelows, but it remained at that and Mademoiselle Marny need have no
fear.

He had brought Pétronelle along with him: his careless, lavish
hospitality would have suggested the housing of Juliette's entire
domestic establishment, had she possessed one.

As it was, the worthy old soul's deluge of happy tears had melted his
kindly heart. He offered her and her young mistress shelter, until the
small cloud should have rolled by.

After that he suggested a journey to England.  Emigration now was the
only real safety, and Mademoiselle Marny had unpleasantly draw on
herself the attention of the Paris rabble. No doubt, within the next
few days her name would figure among the "suspect." She would be
safest out of the country, and could not do better than place herself
under the guidance of that English enthusiast, who had helped so many
persecuted Frenchmen to escape from the terrors of the Revolution: the
man who was such a thorn in the flesh of the Committee of Public
Safety, and who went by the nickname of The Scarlet Pimpernel.





CHAPTER IV

The faithful house-dog.


After supper they talked of Charlotte Corday.

Juliette clung to the vision of that heroine, and liked to talk of
her. She appeared as a justification of her own actions, which somehow
seemed to require justification.

She loved to hear Paul Déroulède talk; liked to provoke his enthusiasm
and to see his stern, dark face light up with the inward fire of the
enthusiast.

She had openly avowed herself as the daughter of the Duc de Marny.
When she actually named her father, and her brother killed in duel,
she saw Déroulède looking long and searchingly at her. Evidently he
wondered if she knew everything: but she returned his gaze fearlessly
and frankly, and he apparently was satisfied.

Madame Déroulède seemed to know nothing of the circumstances of that
duel. Déroulède tried to draw Juliette out, to make her speak of her
brother. She replied to his questions quite openly, but there was
nothing in what she said, suggestive of the fact that she knew who
killed her brother.

She wanted him to know who she was.  If he feared an enemy in her,
there was yet time enough for him to close his doors against her.

But less than a minute later, he had renewed his warmest offers of
hospitality.

"Until we can arrange for your journey to England," he added with a
short sigh, as if reluctant to part from her.

To Juliette his attitude seemed one of complete indifference for the
wrong he had done to her and to her father: feeling that she was an
avenging spirit, with flaming sword in hand, pursuing her brother's
murderer like a relentless Nemesis, she would have preferred to see
him cowed before her, even afraid of her, though she was only a young
and delicate girl.

She did not understand that in the simplicity of his heart, he only
wished to make amends. The quarrel with the young Vicomte de Marny had
been forced upon him, the fight had been honourable and fair, and on
his side fought with every desire to spare the young man. He had
merely been the instrument of Fate, but he felt happy that Fate once
more used him as her tool, this time to save the sister.

Whilst Déroulède and Juliette talked together Anne Mie cleared the
supper-table, then came and sat on a low stool at madame's feet. She
took no part in the conversation, but every now and then Juliette felt
the girl's melancholy eyes fixed almost reproachfully upon her.

When Juliette had retired with Pétronelle, Déroulède  took Anne Mie's
hand in his.

"You will be kind to my guest, Anne Mie, won't you?  She seems very
lonely, and has gone through a great deal."

"Not more than I have," murmured the young girl involuntarily.

"You are not happy, Anne Mie?  I thought..."

"Is a wretched, deformed creature ever happy?" she said with sudden
vehemence, as tears of mortification rushed to her eyes, in spite of
herself.

"I did not think that you were wretched," he replied with some
sadness, "and neither in my eyes, nor in my mother's, are you in any
way deformed."

Her mood changed at once.  She clung to him, pressing his hand between
her own.

"Forgive me! I--I don't know what's the matter with me to-night," she
said with a nervous little laugh. "Let me see, you asked me to be kind
to Mademoiselle Marny, did you not?"

He nodded with a smile.

"Of course I'll be kind to her.  Isn't every one kind to one who is
young and beautiful, and has great, appealing eyes, and soft, curly
hair? Ah me! how easy is the path in life for some people! What do you
want me to do, Paul? Wait on her? Be her little maid? Soothe her
nerves or what? I'll do it all, though in her eyes I shall remain both
wretched and deformed, a creature to pity, the harmless, necessary
house-dog..."

She paused a moment: said "Good-night" to him, and turned to go,
candle in hand, looking pathetic and fragile, with that ugly contour
of shoulder, which Déroulède assured her he could not see.

The candle flickered in the draught, illumining the thin, pinched
face, the large melancholy eyes of the faithful house-dog.

"Who can watch and bite!" she said half-audibly as she slipped out of
the room. "For I do not trust you, my fine madam, and there was
something about that comedy this afternoon, which somehow, I don't
quite understand."





CHAPTER V

A day in the woods.


But whilst men and women set to work to make the towns of France
hideous with their shrieks and their hootings, their mock-trials and
bloody guillotines, they could not quite prevent Nature from working
her sweet will with the country.

June, July, and August had received new names--they were now called
Messidor, Thermidor, and Fructidor, but under these new names they
continued to pour forth upon the earth the same old fruits, the same
flowers, the same grass in the meadows and leaves upon the trees.

Messidor brought its quota of wild roses in the hedgerows, just as
archaic June had done. Thermidor covered the barren cornfields with
its flaming mantle of scarlet poppies, and Fructidor, though now
called August, still tipped the wild sorrel with dots of crimson, and
laid the first wash of tender colour on the pale cheeks of the
ripening peaches.

And Juliette--young, girlish, feminine and inconsequent--had sighed
for country and sunshine, had longed for a ramble in the woods, the
music of the birds, the sight of the meadows sugared with marguerites.

She had left the house early: accompanied by Pétronelle, she had been
rowed along the river as far as Suresnes. They had brought some bread
and fresh butter, a little wine and fruit in a basket, and from here
she meant to wander homewards through the woods.

It was all so peaceful, so remote: even the noise of shrieking,
howling Paris did not reach the leafy thickets of Suresnes.

It almost seemed as if this little old-world village had been
forgotten by the destroyers of France. It had never been a royal
residence, the woods had never been preserved for royal sport: there
was no vengeance to be wreaked upon its peaceful glades and sleepy,
fragrant meadows.

Juliette spent a happy day; she loved the flowers, the trees, the
birds, and Pétronelle was silent and sympathetic. As the afternoon
wore on, and it was time to go home, Juliette turned townwards with a
sigh.

You all know that road through the woods, which lies to the north-west
of Paris: so leafy, so secluded. No large, hundred-year-old trees, no
fine oaks or antique elms, but numberless delicate stems of hazel-nut
and young ash, covered with honeysuckle at this time of year,
sweet-smelling and so peaceful after that awful turmoil of the town.

Obedient to Madame Déroulède's suggestion, Juliette had tied a
tricolour scarf round her waist, and a Phrygian cap of crimson cloth,
with the inevitable rosette on one side, adorned her curly head.

She had gathered a huge bouquet of poppies, marguerites and blue lupin
--Nature's tribute to the national colours--and as she wandered
through the sylvan glades she looked like some quaint dweller of the
woods--a sprite, mayhap--with old mother Pétronelle trotting behind
her, like an attendant witch.

Suddenly she paused, for in the near distance she had perceived the
sound of footsteps upon the leafy turf, and the next moment Paul
Déroulède emerged from out the thicket and came rapidly towards her.

"We were so anxious about you at home!" he said, almost by way of an
apology. "My mother became so restless..."

"That to quiet her fears you came in search of me!" she retorted with
a gay little laugh, the laugh of a young girl, scarce a woman as yet,
who feels that she is good to look at, good to talk to, who feels her
wings for the first time, the wings with which to soar into that mad,
merry, elusive and called Romance. Ay, her wings! but her power also!
that sweet, subtle power of the woman: the yoke which men love, rail
at, and love again, the yoke that enslaves them and gives them the joy
of kings.

How happy the day had been!  Yet it had been incomplete!

Pétronelle was somewhat dull, and Juliette was too young to enjoy long
companionship with her own thoughts. Now suddenly the day seemed to
have become perfect. There was someone there to appreciate the charm
of the woods, the beauty of that blue sky peeping though the tangled
foliage of the honeysuckle-covered trees. There was some one to talk
to, someone to admire the fresh white frock Juliette had put on that
morning.

"But how did you know where to find me?" she asked with a quaint touch
of immature coquetry.

"I didn't know," he replied quietly.  "They told me you had gone to
Suresness, and meant to wander homewards through the woods. It
frightened me, for you will have to go through the north-west barrier,
and..."

"Well?"

He smiled, and looked earnestly for a moment at the dainty apparition
before him.

"Well, you know!" he said gaily, "that tricolour scarf and the red cap
are not quite sufficient as a disguise: you look anything but a
staunch friend of the people. I guessed that your muslin frock would
be clean, and that there would still be some tell-tale lace upon it."

She laughed again, and with delicate fingers lifted her pretty muslin
frock, displaying a white frou-frou of flounces beneath the hem.

"How careless and childish!" he said, almost roughly.

"Would you have me coarse and grimy to be a fitting match for your
partisans?" she retorted.

His tone of mentor nettled her, his attitude seemed to her priggish
and dictatorial, and as the sun disappearing behind a sudden cloud, so
her childish merriment quickly gave place to a feeling of
unexplainable disappointment.

"I humbly beg your pardon," he said quietly,  "And must crave your
kind indulgence for my mood: but I have been so anxious..."

"Why should you be anxious about me?"

She had meant to say this indifferently, as if caring little what the
reply might be: but in her effort to seem indifferent her voice became
haughty, a reminiscence of the days when she still was the daughter of
the Duc de Marny, the richest and most high-born heiress in France.

"Was that presumptuous?" he asked, with a slight touch of irony, in
response to her own hauteur.

"It was merely unnecessary," she replied.  "I have already laid too
many burdens on your shoulders, without wishing to add that of
anxiety."

"You have laid no burden on me," he said quietly, "save one of
gratitude."

"Gratitude?  What have I done?"

"You committed a foolish, thoughtless act outside my door, and gave me
the chance of easing my conscience of a heavy load."

"In what way?"

"I had never hoped that the Fates would be so kind as to allow me to
render a member of your family a slight service."

"I understand that you saved my life the other day, Monsieur
Déroulède. I know that I am still in peril and that I owe my safety to
you..."

"Do you also know that your brother owed his death to me?"

She closed her lips firmly, unable to reply, wrathful with him, for
having suddenly and without any warning, placed a clumsy hand upon
that hidden sore.

"I always meant to tell you," he continued somewhat hurriedly; "for it
almost seemed to me that I have been cheating you, these last few
days. I don't suppose that you can quite realise what it means to me
to tell you this just now; but I owe it to you, I think. In later
years you might find out, and then regret the days you spent under my
roof. I called you childish a moment ago, you must forgive me; I know
that you are a woman, and hope therefore that you will understand me.
I killed your brother in fair fight. He provoked me as no man was ever
provoked before..."

"Is it necessary, M. Déroulède, that you should tell me all this?" she
interrupted him with some impatience.

"I thought you ought to know."

"You must know, on the other hand, that I have no means of hearing the
history of the quarrel from my brother's point of view now."

The moment the words were out of her lips she had realised how cruelly
she had spoken. He did not reply; he was too chivalrous, too gentle,
to reproach her. Perhaps he understood for the first time how bitterly
she had felt her brother's death, and how deeply she must be
suffering, now that she knew herself to be face to face with his
murderer.

She stole a quick glance at him, through her tears.  She was deeply
penitent for what she had said. It almost seemed to her as if a dual
nature was at war within her.

The mention of her brother's name, the recollection of that awful
night beside his dead body, of those four years whilst she watched her
father's moribund reason slowly wandering towards the grave, seemed to
rouse in her a spirit of rebellion, and of evil, which she felt was
not entirely of herself.

The woods had become quite silent.  It was late afternoon, and they
had gradually wandered farther and farther away from pretty sylvan
Suresness, towards great, anarchic, deathdealing Paris. In this part
of the woods the birds had left their homes; the trees, shorn of their
lower branches looked like gaunt spectres, raising melancholy heads
towards the relentless, silent sky.

In the distance, from behind the barriers, a couple of miles away, the
boom of a gun was heard.

"They are closing the barriers," he said quietly after a long pause.
"I am glad I was fortunate enough to meet you."

"It was kind of you to seek for me," she said meekly.  "I didn't mean
what I said just now..."

"I pray you, say no more about it.  I can so well understand.  I only
wish..."

"It would be best I should leave your house," she said gently; "I have
so ill repaid your hospitality. Pétronelle and I can easily go back to
our lodgings."

"You would break my mother's heart if you left her now," he said,
almost roughly. "She has become very fond of you, and knows, just as
well as I do, the dangers that would beset you outside my house. My
coarse and grimy partisans," he added, with a bitter touch of sarcasm,
"have that advantage, that they are loyal to me, and would not harm
you while under my roof."

"But you..." she murmured.

She felt somehow that she had wounded him very deeply, and was half
angry with herself for her seeming ingratitude, and yet childishly
glad to have suppressed in him that attitude of mentorship, which he
was beginning to assume over her.

"You need not fear that my presence will offend you much longer,
mademoiselle," he said coldly. "I can quite understand how hateful it
must be to you, though I would have wished that you could believe at
least in my sincerity."

"Are you going away then?"

"Not out of Paris altogether.  I have accepted the post of Governor of
the Conciergerie."

"Ah!--where the poor Queen..."

She checked herself suddenly.  Those words would have been called
treasonable to the people of France.

Instinctively and furtively, as everyone did in these days, she cast a
rapid glance behind her.

"You need not be afraid," he said; "there is no one here but
Pétronelle."

"And you."

"Oh! I echo your words.  Poor Marie Antoinette!"

"You pity her?"

"How can I help it?"

"But your are that horrible National Convention, who will try her,
condemn her, execute her as they did the King."

"I am of the National Convention.  But I will not condemn her, nor be
a party to another crime. I go as Governor of the Conciergerie, to
help her, if I can."

"But your popularity--your life--if you befriend her?"

"As you say, mademoiselle, my life, if I befriend her," he said
simply.

She looked at him with renewed curiosity in her gaze.

How strange were men in these days!  Paul Déroulède, the republican,
the recognised idol of the lawless people of France, was about to risk
his life for the woman he had helped to dethrone.

Pity with him did not end with the rabble of Paris; it had reached
Charlotte Corday, though it failed to save her, and now it extended to
the poor dispossessed Queen. Somehow, in his face this time, she saw
either success or death.

"When do you leave?" she asked.

"To-morrow night."

She said nothing more.  Strangely enough, a tinge of melancholy had
settled over her spirits. No doubt the proximity of the town was the
cause of this. She could already hear the familiar noise of muffled
drums, the loud, excited shrieking of the mob, who stood round the
gates of Paris, at this time of the evening, waiting to witness some
important capture, perhaps that of a hated aristocrat striving to
escape from the people's revenge.

The had reached the edge of the wood, and gradually, as she walked,
the flowers she had gathered fell unheeded out of her listless hands
one by one.

First the blue lupins: their bud-laden heads were heavy and they
dropped to the ground, followed by the white marguerites, that lay
thick behind her now on the grass like a shroud. The red poppies were
the lightest, their thin gummy stalks clung to her hands longer than
the rest. At last she let them fall too, singly, like great drops of
blood, that glistened as her long white gown swept them aside.

Déroulède was absorbed in his thoughts, and seemed not to heed her.
At the barrier, however, he roused himself and took out the passes
which alone enabled Juliette and Pétronelle to re-enter the town
unchallenged. He himself as Citizen-Deputy could come and go as he
wished.

Juliette shuddered as the great gates closed behind her with a heavy
clank. It seemed to shut out even the memory of this happy day, which
for a brief space had been quite perfect.

She did not know Paris very well, and wondered where lay that gloomy
Conciergerie, where a dethroned queen was living her last days, in an
agonised memory of the past. But as they crossed the bridge she
recognised all round her the massive towers of the great city: Notre
Dame, the grateful spire of La Sainte Chapelle, the sombre outline of
St. Gervais, and behind her the Louvre with its great history and
irreclaimable grandeur. How small her own tragedy seemed in the midst
of this great sanguinary drama, the last act of which had not yet even
begun. Her own revenge, her oath, her tribulations, what were they in
comparison with that great flaming Nemesis which had swept away a
throne, that vow of retaliation carried out by thousands against other
thousands, that long story of degradation, of regicide, of fratricide,
the awesome chapters of which were still being unfolded one by one?

She felt small and petty: ashamed of the pleasure she had felt in the
woods, ashamed of her high spirits and light-heartedness, ashamed of
that feeling of sudden pity and admiration for the man who had done
her and her family so deep an injury, which she was too feeble, too
vacillating to avenge.

The majestic outline of the Louvre seemed to frown sarcastically on
her weakness, the silent river to mock her and her wavering purpose.
The man beside her had wronged her and hers far more deeply than the
Bourbons had wronged their people. The people of France were taking
their revenge, and God had at the close of this last happy day of her
life pointed once more to the means for her great end.





CHAPTER VI

The Scarlet Pimpernel.


It was some few hours later.  The ladies sat in the drawing-room,
silent and anxious.

Soon after supper a visitor had called, and had been closeted with
Paul Déroulède in the latter's study for the past two hours.

A tall, somewhat lazy-looking figure, he was sitting at a table face
to face with the Citizen-Deputy. On a chair beside him lay a heavy
caped coat, covered with the dust and the splashings of a long
journey, but he himself was attired in clothes that suggested the most
fastidious taste, and the most perfect of tailors; he wore with
apparent ease the eccentric fashion of the time, the short-waisted
coat of many lapels, the double waistcoat and billows of delicate
lace. Unlike Déroulède he was of great height, with fair hair and a
somewhat lazy expression in his good-natured blue eyes, and as he
spoke, there was just a soupçon of foreign accent in the pronunciation
of the French vowels, a certain drawl of o's and a's, that would have
betrayed the Britisher to an observant ear.

The two men had been talking earnestly for some time, the tall
Englishman was watching his friend keenly, whilst an amused, pleasant
smile lingered round the corners of his firm mouth and jaw. Déroulède,
restless and enthusiastic, was pacing to and fro.

"But I don't understand now, how you managed to reach Paris, my dear
Blakeney!" said Déroulède at last, placing an anxious hand on his
friend's shoulder. "The government has not forgotten The Scarlet
Pimpernel."

"La!  I took care of that!" responded Blakeney with his short,
pleasant laugh. "I sent Tinville my autograph this morning."

"You are mad, Blakeney!"

"Not altogether, my friend.  My faith! 'twas on only foolhardiness
caused me to grant that devilish prosecutor another sight of my
scarlet device. I knew what you maniacs would be after, so I came
across in the _Daydream,_just to see if I couldn't get my share of the
fun."

"Fun, you call it?" queried the other bitterly.

"Nay! what would you have me call it?  A mad, insane, senseless
tragedy, with but one issue?--the guillotine for you all."

"The why did you come?"

"To-- What shall I say, my friend?" rejoined Sir Percy Blakeny, with
that inimitable drawl of his. "To give your demmed government
something else to think about, whilst you are all busy running your
heads into a noose."

"What makes you think we are doing that?"

"Three things, my friend--may I offer you a pinch of snuff--No?--Ah
well!..." And with the graceful gesture of an accomplished dandy, Sir
Percy flicked off a grain of dust from his immaculate Mechlin ruffles.

"Three things," he continued quietly; "an imprisoned Queen, about to
be tried for her life, the temperament of a Frenchman--some of them--
and the idiocy of mankind generally. These three things make me think
that a certain section of hot-headed Republicans with yourself, my
dear Déroulède, _en tête,_ are about to attempt the most stupid,
senseless, purposeless thing that was ever concocted by the excitable
brain of a demmed Frenchman."

Déroulède smiled.

"Does it not seem amusing to you, Blakeney, that you should sit there
and condemn anyone for planning mad, insane, senseless things."

"La!  I'll not sit, I'll stand!" rejoined Blakeney with a laugh, as he
drew himself up to his full height, and stretched his long, lazy
limbs. "And now let me tell you, friend, that my league of The Scarlet
Pimpernel never attempted the impossible, and to try and drag the
Queen out of the clutches of these murderous rascals now, is
attempting the unattainable."

"And yet we mean to try."

"I know it.  I guessed it, that is why I came: that is also why I sent
a pleasant little note to the Committee of Public Safety, signed with
the device they know so well: The Scarlet Pimpernel."

"Well?"

"Well! the result is obvious.  Robespierre, Danton, Tinville, Merlin,
and the whole of the demmed murderous crowd, will be busy looking
after me--a needle in a haystack. They'll put the abortive attempt
down to me, and you may--_ma foi!_ I only suggest that you _may_
escape safely out of France--in the _Daydream,_ and with the help of
your humble servant."

"But in the meanwhile they'll discover you, and they'll not let you
escape a second time."

"My friend! if a terrier were to lose his temper, he never would run a
rat to earth. Now your Revolutionary Government has lost its temper
with me, ever since I slipped through Chauvelin's fingers; they are
blind with their own fury, whilst I am perfectly happy and cool as a
cucumber. My life has become valuable to me, my friend. There is
someone over the water now who weeps when I don't return--No! no!
never fear--they'll not get The Scarlet Pimpernel this journey..."

He laughed, a gay, pleasant laugh, and his strong, firm face seemed to
soften at thought of the beautiful wife, over in England, who was
waiting anxiously for his safe return.

"And yet you'll not help us to rescue the Queen?" rejoined Déroulède,
with some bitterness.

"By every means in my power," replied Blakeney, "save the insane.  But
I will help to get you all out of the demmed hole, when you have
failed."

"We'll not fail", asserted the other hotly.

Sir Percy Blakeney went close up to his friend and placed his long,
slender hand, with a touch of almost womanly tenderness upon the
latter's shoulder.

"Will you tell me your plans?"

In a moment Déroulède was all fire and enthusiasm.

"There are not many of us in it," he began, "although half France will
be in sympathy with us. We have plenty of money, of course, and also
the necessary disguise for the royal lady."

"Yes?"

"I, in the meanwhile, have asked for and obtained the post of Governor
of the Conciergerie; I go into my new quarters to-morrow. In the
meanwhile, I am making arrangements for my mother and--and those
dependent upon me to quit France immediately."

Blakeney had perceived the slight hesitation when Déroulède  mentioned
those dependent upon him. He looked scrutinisingly at his friend, who
continued quickly:

"I am still very popular among the people.  My family can go about
unmolested. I must get them out of France, however, in case--in
case..."

"Of course," rejoined the other simply.

"As soon as I am assured that they are safe, my friends and I can
prosecute our plans. You see the trial of the Queen has not yet been
decided on, but I know that it is in the air. We hope to get her away,
disguised in one of the uniforms of the National Guard. As you know,
it will be my duty to make the final round every evening in the
prison, and to see that everything is safe for the night. Two fellows
watch all night, in the room next to that occupied by the Queen.
Usually they drink and play cards all night long. I want an
opportunity to drug their brandy, and thus to render them more loutish
and idiotic than usual; then for a blow on the head that will make
them senseless. It should be easy, for I have a strong fist, and after
that..."

"Well?  After that, friend?" rejoined Sir Percy earnestly, "after
that? Shall I fill in the details of the picture?--the guard
twenty-five strong outside the Conciergerie, how will you pass them?"

"I as the Governor, followed by one of my guards..."

"To go whither?"

"I have the right to come and go as I please."

"I' faith! so you have, but 'one of your guards'--eh?  Wrapped to the
eyes in a long mantle to hide the female figure beneath. I have been
in Paris but a few hours, and yet already I have realised that there
is not one demmed citizen within its walls, who does not at this
moment suspect some other demmed citizen of conniving at the Queen's
escape. Even the sparrows on the house-tops are objects of suspicion.
No figure wrapped in a mantle will from this day forth leave Paris
unchallenged."

"But you yourself, friend?" suggested Déroulède.  "You think you can
quit Paris unrecognised--then why not the Queen?"

"Because she is a woman, and has been a queen.  She has nerves, poor
soul, and weaknesses of body and of mind now. Alas for her! Alas for
France! who wreaks such idle vengeance on so poor an enemy? Can you
take hold of Marie Antoinette by the shoulders, shove her into the
bottom of a cart and pile sacks of potatoes on the top of her? I did
that to the Comtesse de Tournai and her daughter, as stiff-necked a
pair of French aristocrats as ever deserved the guillotine for their
insane prejudices. But can you do it to Marie Antoinette? She'd rebuke
you publicly, and betray herself and you in a flash, sooner than
submit to a loss of dignity."

"But would you leave her to her fate?"

"Ah! there's the trouble, friend.  Do you think you need appeal to the
sense of chivalry of my league? We are still twenty strong, and heart
and soul in sympathy with your mad schemes. The poor, poor Queen! But
you are bound to fail, and then who will help you all, if we too are
put out of the way?"

"We should succeed if you helped us.  At one time you used proudly to
say: 'The League of The Scarlet Pimpernel has never failed.'"

"Because it attempted nothing which it could not accomplish.  But, la!
since you put me on my mettle--Demm it all! I'll have to think about
it!"

And he laughed that funny, somewhat inane laugh of his, which had
deceived the clever men of two countries as to his real personality.

Déroulède went up to the heavy oak desk which occupied a conspicuous
place in the centre of one of the walls. He unlocked it and drew forth
a bundle of papers.

"Will you look through these?" he asked, handing them to Sir Percy
Blakeney.

"What are they?"

"Different schemes I have drawn up, in case my original plan should
not succeed."

"Burn them, my friend," said Blakeney laconically.  "Have you not yet
learned the lesson of never putting your hand to paper?"

"I can't burn these.  You see, I shall not be able to have long
conversations with Marie Antoinette. I must give her my suggestions in
writing, that she may study them and not fail me, through lack of
knowledge of her part."

"Better that than papers in these times, my friend: these papers, if
found, would send you, untried, to the guillotine."

"I am careful, and, at present, quite beyond suspicion.  Moreover,
among the papers is a complete collection of passports, suitable for
any character the Queen and her attendant may be forced to assume. It
has taken me some months to collect them, so as not to arouse
suspicion; I gradually got them together, on one pretence or another:
now I am ready for any eventuality..."

He suddenly paused.  A look in his friend's face had given him a swift
warning.

He turned, and there in the doorway, holding back the heavy portière,
stood Juliette, graceful, smiling, a little pale, this no doubt owing
to the flickering light of the unsnuffed candles.

So young and girlish did she look in her soft, white muslin frock that
at sight of her the tension in Déroulède's face seemed to relax.
Instinctively he had thrown the papers back into the desk, but his
look had softened, from the fire of obstinate energy to that of
inexpressible tenderness.

Blakeney was quietly watching the young girl as she stood in the
doorway, a little bashful and undecided.

"Madame Déroulède sent me," she said hesitatingly, "she says the hour
is getting late and she is very anxious. M. Déroulède, would you come
and reassure her?"

"In a moment, mademoiselle," he replied lightly, "my friend and I have
just finished our talk. May I have the honour to present him?--Sir
Percy Blakeney, a traveller from England. Blakeney, this is
Mademoiselle Juliette de Marny, my mother's guest."





CHAPTER VII

A warning.


Sir Percy bowed very low, with all the graceful flourish and elaborate
gesture the eccentric customs of the time demanded.

He had not said a word, since the first exclamation of warning, with
which he had drawn his friend's attention to the young girl in the
doorway.

Noiselessly, as she had come, Juliette glided out of the room again,
leaving behind her an atmosphere of wild flowers, of the bouquet she
had gathered, then scattered in the woods.

There was silence in the room for awhile.  Déroulède was locking up
his desk and slipping the keys into his pocket.

"Shall we join my mother for a moment, Blakeney?" he said, moving
towards the door.

"I shall be proud to pay my respects," replied Sir Percy; "but before
we close the subject, I think I'll change my mind about those papers.
If I am to be of service to you I think I had best look through them,
and give you my opinion of your schemes."

Déroulède looked at him keenly for a moment.

"Certainly," he said at last, going up to his desk.  "I'll stay with
you whilst you read them through."

"La! not to-night, my friend," said Sir Percy lightly; "the hour is
late, and madame is waiting for us. They'll be quite safe with me, and
you'll entrust them to my care."

Déroulède  seemed to hesitate.  Blakeney had spoken in his usual airy
manner, and was even now busy readjusting the set of his
perfectly-tailored coat.

"Perhaps you cannot quite trust me?" laughed Sir Percy gaily.  "I
seemed too lukewarm just now."

"No; it's not that, Blakeney!" said Déroulède quietly at last.  "There
is no mistrust in me, all the mistrust is on your side."

"Faith!--" began Sir Percy.

"Nay! do not explain.  I understand and appreciate your friendship,
but I should like to convince you how unjust is your mistrust of one
of God's purest angels, that ever walked the earth."

"Oho! that's it, is it, friend Déroulède?  Methought you had foresworn
the sex altogether, and now you are in love."

"Madly, blindly, stupidly in love, my friend," said Déroulède with a
sigh. "Hopelessly, I fear me!"

"Why hopelessly?"

"She is the daughter of the late Duc de Marny, one of the oldest names
in France; a Royalist to the backbone..."

"Hence your overwhelming sympathy for the Queen!"

"Nay! you wrong me there, friend.  I'd have tried to save the Queen,
even if I had never learned to love Juliette. But you see now how
unjust were your suspicions."

"Had I any?"

"Don't deny it.  You were loud in urging me to burn those papers a
moment ago. You called them useless and dangerous and now..."

"I still think them useless and dangerous, and by reading them would
wish to confirm my opinion and give weight to my arguments."

"If I were to part from them now I would seem to be mistrusting her."

"You are a mad idealist, my dear Déroulède!"

"How can I help it?  I have lived under the same roof with her for
three weeks now. I have begun to understand what a saint is like."

"And 'twill be when you understand that your idol has feet of clay
that you'll learn the real lesson of love," said Blakeney earnestly.

"Is it love to worship a saint in heaven, whom you dare not touch, who
hovers above you like a cloud, which floats away from you even as you
gaze? To love is to feel one being in the world at one with us, our
equal in sin as well as in virtue. To love, for us men, is to clasp
one woman with our arms, feeling that she lives and breathes just as
we do, suffers as we do, thinks with us, loves with us, and, above
all, sins with us. Your mock saint who stands in a niche is not a
woman if she have not suffered, still less a woman if she have not
sinned. Fall at the feet of your idol an you wish, but drag her down
to your level after that--the only level she should ever reach, that
of your heart."

Who shall render faithfully a true account of the magnetism which
poured forth from this remarkable man as he spoke: this well-dressed,
foppish apostle of the greatest love that man has ever known. And as
he spoke the whole story of his own great, true love for the woman who
once had so deeply wronged him seemed to stand clearly written in the
strong, lazy, good-humoured, kindly face glowing with tenderness for
her.

Déroulède felt this magnetism, and therefore did not resent the
implied suggestion, anent the saint whom he was still content to
worship.

A dreamer and an idealist, his mind held spellbound by the great
social problems which were causing the upheaval of a whole country, he
had not yet had the time to learn the sweet lesson which Nature
teaches to her elect--the lesson of a great, a true, human and
passionate love. To him, at present, Juliette represented the perfect
embodiment of his most idealistic dreams. She stood in his mind so far
above him that if she proved unattainable, he would scarce have
suffered. It was such a foregone conclusion.

Blakeney's words were the first to stir in his heart a desire for
something beyond that quasi-mediaeval worship, something weaker and
yet infinitely stronger, something more earthy and yet almost divine.

"And now, shall we join the ladies?" said Blakeney after a long pause,
during which the mental workings of his alert brain were almost
visible, in the earnest look which he cast at his friend. "You shall
keep the papers in your desk, give them into the keeping of your
saint, trust her all in all rather than not at all, and if the time
should come that your heaven-enthroned ideal fall somewhat heavily to
earth, then give me the privilege of being a witness to your
happiness."

"You are still mistrustful, Blakeney," said Déroulède lightly.  "If
you say much more I'll give these papers into Mademoiselle Marny's
keeping until to-morrow."





CHAPTER VIII

Anne Mie.


That night, when Blakeney, wrapped in his cloak, was walking down the
Rue Ecole de Médecine towards his own lodgings, he suddenly felt a
timid hand upon his sleeve.

Anne Mie stood beside him, her pale, melancholy face peeping up at the
tall Englishman, through the folds of a dark hood closely tied under
her chin.

"Monsieur," she said timidly, "do not think me very presumptuous.  I--
I would wish to have five minutes' talk with you--may I?"

He looked down with great kindness at the quaint, wizened little
figure, and the strong face softened at the sight of the poor,
deformed shoulder, the hard, pinched look of the young mouth, the
general look of pathetic helplessness which appeals so strongly to the
chivalrous.

"Indeed, mademoiselle," he said gently, "you make me very proud; and I
can serve you in any way, I pray you command me. But," he added,
seeing Anne Mie's somewhat scared look, "this street is scarce fit for
private conversation. Shall we try and find a better spot?"

Paris had not yet gone to bed.  In these times it was really safest to
be out in the open streets. There, everybody was more busy, more on
the move, on the lookout for suspected houses, leaving the wanderer
alone.

Blakeney led Anne Mie towards the Luxembourg Gardens, the great
devastated pleasure-ground of the ci-devant tyrants of the people. The
beautiful Anne of Austria, and the Medici before her, Louis XIII, and
his gallant musketeers--all have given place to the great
cannon-forging industry of this besieged Republic. France, attacked on
every side, is forcing her sons to defend her: persecuted, martyrised,
done to death by her, she is still their Mother: La Patrie, who needs
their arms against the foreign foe. England is threatening the north,
Prussia and Austria the east. Admiral Hood's flag is flying on Toulon
Arsenal.

The siege of the Republic!

And the Republic is fighting for dear life.  The Tuileries and
Luxembourg Gardens are transformed into a township of gigantic
smithies; and Anne Mie, with scared eyes, and clinging to Blakeney's
arm, cast furtive, terrified glances at the huge furnaces and the
begrimed, darkly scowling faces of the workers within.

"The people of France in arms against tyranny!"  Great placards,
bearing these inspiriting words, are affixed to gallows-shaped posts,
and flutter in the evening breeze, rendered scorching by the heat of
the furnaces all around.

Farther on, a group of older men, squatting on the ground, are busy
making tents, and some women--the same Megaeras who daily shriek
round the guillotine--are plying their needles and scissors for the
purpose of making clothes for the soldiers.

The soldiers are the entire able-bodied male population of France.

"The people of France in arms against tyranny!"

That is their sign, their trade-mark; one of these placards, fitfully
illumined by a torch of resin, towers above a group of children busy
tearing up scraps of old linen--their mothers', their sisters' linen
--in order to make lint for the wounded.

Loud curses and suppressed mutterings fill the smoke-laden air.

The people of France, in arms against tyranny, is bending its broad
back before the most cruel, the most absolute and brutish
slave-driving ever exercised over mankind.

Not even mediaeval Christianity has ever dared such wholesale
enforcements of its doctrines, as this constitution of Liberty and
Fraternity.

Merlin's "Law of the Suspect" has just been formulated.  From now
onward each and every citizen of France must watch his words, his
looks, his gestures, lest they be suspect. Of what--of treason to the
Republic, to the people? Nay, worse! lest they be suspect of being
suspect to the great era of Liberty.

Therefore in the smithies and among the groups of tent-makers a
moment's negligence, a careless attention to the work, might lead to a
brief trial on the morrow and the inevitable guillotine. Negligence is
treason to the higher interests of the Republic.

Blakeney dragged Anne Mie away from the sight.  These roaring furnaces
frightened her; he took her down the Place St Michel, towards the
river. It was quieter here.

"What dreadful people they have become," she said, shuddering; "even I
can remember how different they used to be."

The houses on the banks of the river were mostly converted into
hospitals, preparatory for the great siege. Some hundred mètres lower
down, the new children's hospital, endowed by Citizen-Deputy
Déroulède, loomed, white, clean, and comfortable-looking, amidst its
more squalid fellows.

"I think it would be best not to sit down," suggested Blakeney, "and
wiser for you to throw your hood away from your face."

He seemed to have no fears for himself; many had said that he bore a
charmed life; and yet ever since Admiral Hood had planted his flag on
Toulon Arsenal, the English were more feared than ever, and The
Scarlet Pimpernel more hated than most.

"You wished to speak to me about Paul Déroulède," he said kindly,
seeing that the young girl was making desperate efforts to say what
lay on her mind. "He is my friend, you know."

"Yes; that is why I wished to ask you a question," she replied.

"What is it?"

"Who is Juliette de Marny, and why did she seek an entrance into
Paul's house?"

"Did she seek it, then?"

"Yes; I saw the scene from the balcony.  At the time it did not strike
me as a farce. I merely thought that she had been stupid and
foolhardy. But since then I have reflected. She provoked the mob of
the street, wilfully, just at the very moment when she reached M.
Déroulède's door. She meant to appeal to his chivalry, and called for
help, well knowing that he would respond."

She spoke rapidly and excitedly now, throwing off all shyness and
reserve. Blakeney was forced to check her vehemence, which might have
been thought "suspicious" by some idle citizen unpleasantly inclined.

"Well? And now?" he asked, for the young girl had paused, as if
ashamed of her excitement.

"And now she stays in the house, on and on, day after day," continued
Anne Mie, speaking more quietly, though with no less intensity. "Why
does she not go? She is not safe in France. She belongs to the most
hated of all the classes--the idle, rich aristocrats of the old
régime. Paul has several times suggested plans for her emigration to
England. Madame Déroulède, who is an angel, loves her, and would not
like to part from her, but it would be obviously wiser for her to go,
and yet she stays. Why?"

"Presumably because..."

"Because she is in love with Paul?" interrupted Anne Mie vehemently.
"No, no; she does not love him--at least--Oh! sometimes I don't
know. Her eyes light up when he comes, and she is listless when he
goes. She always spends a longer time over her toilet, when we expect
him home to dinner," she added, with a touch of naïve femininity. "But--
if it be love, then that love is strange and unwomanly; it is a love
that will not be for his good..."

"Why should you think that?"

"I don't know," said the girl simply.  "Isn't it an instinct?"

"Not a very unerring one in this case, I fear."

"Why?"

"Because your own love for Paul Déroulède has blinded you---Ah! you
must pardon me, mademoiselle; you sought this conversation and not I,
and I fear me I have wounded you. Yet I would wish you to know how
deep is my sympathy with you, and how great my desire to render you a
service if I could."

"I was about to ask a service of you, monsieur."

"Then command me, I beg of you."

"You are Paul's friend--persuade him that that woman in his house is
a standing danger to his life and liberty."

"He would not listen to me."

"Oh! a man always listens to another."

"Except on one subject--the woman he loves."

He had said the last words very gently but very firmly.  He was
deeply, tenderly sorry for the poor, deformed, fragile girl, doomed to
be a witness of that most heartrending of human tragedies, the passing
away of her own scarce-hoped-for happiness. But he felt that at this
moment the kindest act would be one of complete truth. He knew that
Paul Déroulède's heart was completely given to Juliette de Marny; he
too, like Anne Mie, instinctively mistrusted the beautiful girl and
her strange, silent ways, but, unlike the poor hunchback, he knew that
no sin which Juliette might commit would henceforth tear her from out
the heart of his friend; that if, indeed, she turned out to be false,
or even treacherous, she would, nevertheless, still hold a place in
Déroulède's very soul, which no one else would ever fill.

"You think he loves her?" asked Anne Mie at last.

"I am sure of it."

"And she?"

"Ah! I do not know.  I would trust your instinct--a woman's--sooner
than my own."

"She is false, I tell you, and is hatching treason against Paul."

"Then all we can do is to wait."

"Wait?"

"And watch carefully, earnestly, all the time.  There! shall I pledge
you my word that Déroulède shall come to no harm?"

"Pledge me your word that you'll part him from that woman."

"Nay; that is beyond my power.  A man like Paul Déroulède only loves
once in life, but when he does, it is for always."

Once more she was silent, pressing her lips closely together, as if
afraid of what she might say.

He saw that she was bitterly disappointed, and sought for a means of
tempering the cruelty of the blow.

"It will be your task to watch over Paul," he said; "with your
friendship to guard and protect him, we need have no fear for his
safety, I think."

"I will watch," she replied quietly.

Gradually he had led her steps back towards the Rue Ecole de Médecine.

A great melancholy had fallen over his bold, adventurous spirit.  How
full of tragedies was this great city, in the last throes of its
insane and cruel struggle for an unattainable goal. And yet, despite
its guillotine and mock trials, its tyrannical laws and overfilled
prisons, its very sorrows paled before the dead, dull misery of this
deformed girl's heart.

A wild exaltation, a fever of enthusiasm lent glamour to the scenes
which were daily enacted on the Place de la Revolution, turning the
final acts of the tragedies into glaring, lurid melodrama, almost
unreal in its poignant appeal to the sensibilities.

But here there was only this dead, dull misery, an aching heart, a
poor, fragile creature in the throes of an agonised struggle for a
fast-disappearing happiness.

Anne Mie hardly knew now what she had hoped, when she sought this
interview with Sir Percy Blakeney. Drowning in a sea of hopelessness,
she had clutched at what might prove a chance of safety. Her reason
told her that Paul's friend was right. Déroulède was a man who would
love but once in his life. He had never loved--for he had too much
pitied--poor, pathetic litte Anne Mie.

Nay; why should we say that love and pity are akin?

Love, the great, the strong, the conquering god--Love that subdues a
world, and rides roughshod over principle, virtue, tradidion, over
home, kindred, and religion--what cares he for the easy conquest of
the pathetic being, who appeals to his sympathy?

Love means equality--the same height of heroism or of sin.  When Love
stoops to pity, he has ceased to soar in the boundless space, that
rarefied atmosphere wherein man feels himself made at last truly in
the image of God.





CHAPTER IX

Jealousy.


At the door of her home Blakeney parted from Anne Mie, with all the
courtesy with which he would have bade adieu to the greatest lady in
his own land.

Anne Mie let herself into the house with her own latch-key.  She
closed the heavy door noiselessly, then glided upstairs like a quaint
little ghost.

But on the landing above she met Paul Déroulède.

He had just come out of his room, and was still fully dressed.

"Anne Mie!" he said, with such an obvious cry of pleasure, that the
young girl, with beating heart, paused a moment on the top of the
stairs, as if hoping to hear that cry again, feeling that indeed he
was glad to see her, had been uneasy because of her long absence.

"Have I made you anxious?" she asked at last.

"Anxious!" he exclaimed.  "Little one, I have hardly lived this last
hour, since I realised that you had gone out so late as this, and all
alone."

"How did you know?"

"Mademoiselle de Marny knocked at my door an hour ago.  She had gone
to your room to see you, and, not finding you there, she searched the
house for you, and finally, in her anxiety, come to me. We did not
dare to tell my mother. I won't ask you where you have been, Anne Mie,
but another time, remember, little one, that the streets of Paris are
not safe, and that those who love you suffer deeply, when they know
you to be in peril."

"Those who love me!" murmured the girl under her breath.

"Could you not have asked me to come with you?"

"No; I wanted to be alone.  The streets were quite safe, and--I
wanted to speak with Sir Percy Blakeney."

"With Blakeney?" he exclaimed in boundless astonishment.  "Why, what
in the world did you want to say him?"

The girl, so unaccustomed to lying, had blurted out the truth, almost
against her will.

"I thought he could help me, as I was much perturbed and restless."

"You went to him sooner than to me?" said Déroulède in a tone of
gentle reproach, and still puzzled at this extraordinary action on the
part of the girl, usually so shy and reserved.

"My anxiety was about you, and you would have mocked me for it."

"Indeed, I should never mock you, Anne Mie.  But why should you be
anxious about me?"

"Because I see you wandering blindly on the brink of a great danger,
and because I see you confiding in those, whom you had best mistrust."

He frowned a little, and bit his lip to check the rough word that was
on the tip of his tongue.

"Is Sir Percy Blakeney one of those whom I had best mistrust?" he said
lightly.

"No," she answered curtly.

"Then, dear, there is no cause for unrest.  He is the only one of my
friends whom you have not known intimately. All those who are round me
now, you know that you can trust and that you can love," he added
earnestly and significantly.

He took her hand; it was trembling with obvious suppressed agitation.
She knew that he had guessed what was passing in her mind, and now was
deeply ashamed of what she had done. She had been tortured with
jealousy for the past three weeks, but at least she had suffered quite
alone: on one had been allowed to touch that wound, which more often
than not, excites derision rather than pity. Now, by her own actions,
two men knew her secret. Both were kind and sympathetic; but Déroulède
resented her imputations, and Blakeney had been unable to help her.

A wave of morbid introspection swept over her soul.  She realised in a
moment how petty and base had been her thoughts and how purposeless
her actions. She would have given her life at this moment to eradicate
from Déroulède's mind the knowledge of her own jealousy; she hoped
that at least he had not guessed her love.

She tried to read his thoughts, but in the dark passage, only dimly
lighted by the candles in Déroulède's room beyond, she could not see
the expression of his face, but the hand which held hers was warm and
tender. She felt herself pitied, and blushed at the thought. With a
hasty good-night she fled down the passage, and locked herself in her
room, alone with her own thoughts at last.





CHAPTER X

Denunciation.


But what of Juliette?

What of this wild, passionate, romantic creature tortured by a Titanic
conflict? She, but a girl, scarcely yet a woman, torn by the greatest
antagonistic powers that ever fought for a human soul. On the one side
duty, tradidion, her dead brother, her father--above all, her
religion and the oath she had sworn before God; on the other justice
and honour, a case of right and wrong, honesty and pity.

How she fought with these powers now!

She fought with them, struggled with them on her knees.  She tried to
crush memory, tried to forget that awful midnight scene ten years ago,
her brother's dead body, her father's avenging hand holding her own,
as he begged her to do that, which he was too feeble, too old to
accomplish.

His words rang in her ears from across that long vista of the past.

"Before the face of Almighthy God, who sees and hears me, I swear..."

And she had repeated those words loudly and of her own free will, with
her hand resting on her brother's breast, and God Himself looking down
upon her, for she had called upon Him to listen.

"I swear that I will seek out Paul Déroulède, and in any manner which
God may dictate to me encompass his death, his ruin, or dishonour in
revenge for my brother's death. May my brother's soul remain in
torment until the final Judgment Day if I should break my oath, but
may it rest in eternal peace, the day on which his death is fitly
avenged."

Almost it seemed to her as if father and brother were standing by her
side, as she knelt and prayed.--Oh! how she prayed!

In many ways she was only a child.  All her years had been passed in
confinement, either beside her dying father or, later, between the
four walls of the Ursuline Convent. And during those years her soul
had been fed on a contemplative, ecstatic religion, a kind of
sanctified superstition, which she would have deemed sacrilege to
combat.

Her first step into womanhood was taken with that oath upon her lips;
since then, with a stoical sense of duty, she had lashed herself into
a daily, hourly remembrance of the great mission imposed upon her.

To have neglected it would have been, to her, equal to denying God.

She had but vague ideas of the doctrinal side of religion.  Purgatory
was to her merely a word, but a word representing a real spiritual
state--one of expectancy, of restlessness, of sorrow. And vaguely,
yet determinedly, she believed that her brother's soul suffered,
because she had been too weak to fulfil her oath.

The Church had not come to her rescue.  The ministers of her religion
were scattered to the four corners of besieged, agonising France. She
had no one to help her, no one to comfort her. That very peaceful,
contemplative life she had led in the convent, only served to enhance
her feeling of the solemnity of her mission.

It was true, it was inevitable, because it was so hard.

To the few who, throughout those troublous times, had kept a feeling
of veneration for their religion, this religion had become one of
abnegation and martyrdom.

A spirit of uncompromising Jansenism seemed to call forth sacrifices
and renunciation, whereas the happy-go-lucky Catholicism of the past
century had only suggested an easy, flowered path, to a comfortable,
well-upholstered heaven.

The harder the task seemed with was set before her, the more real it
became to Juliette. God, she firmly believed, had at last, after ten
years, shown her the way to wreak vengeance upon her brother's
murderer. He had brought her to this house, caused her to see and hear
part of the conversation between Blakeney and Déroulède, and this at
the moment of all others, when even the semblance of a conspiracy
against the Republic would bring the one inevitable result in its
train: disgrace first, the hasty mock trial, the hall of justice, and
the guillotine.

She tried not to hate Déroulède.  She wished to judge him coldly and
impartially, or rather to indict him before the throne of God, and to
punish him for the crime he had commited ten years ago. Her personal
feelings must remain out of the question.

Had Charlotte Corday considered her own sensibilities, when with her
own hand she put and end to Marat?

Juliette remained on her knees for hours.  She heard Anne Mie come
home, and Déroulède's voice of welcome on the landing. Thas was
perhaps the most bitter moment of this awful soul conflict, for it
brought to her mind the remembrance of those others who would suffer
too, and who were innocent--Madame Déroulède and poor, crippled Anne
Mie. They had done no wrong, and yet how heavily would they be
punished!

And then the saner judgment, the human, material code of ethics gained
for a while the upper hand. Juliette would rise from her knees, dry
her eyes, prepare quietly to go to bed, and to forget all about the
awful, relentless Fate which dragged her to the fulfilment of its
will, and then sink back, broken-hearted, murmuring impassioned
prayers for forgiveness to her father, her brother, her God.

The soul was young and ardent, and it fought for abnegation,
martyrdom, and stern duty; the body was childlike, and it fought for
peace, contentment, and quiet reason.

The rational body was conquered by the passionate, powerful soul.

Blame not the child, for in herself she was innocent.  She was but
another of the many victims of this cruel, mad, hysterical time, that
spirit of relentless tyranny, forcing its doctrines upon the weak.

With the first break of dawn Juliette at last finally rose from her
knees, bathed her burning eyes and head, tidied her hair and dress,
then she sat down at the table, and began to write.

She was a transformed being now, no longer a child, essentially a
woman--a Joan of Arc with a mission, a Charlotte Corday going to
martyrdom, a human, suffering, erring soul, committing a great crime
for the sake of an idea.

She wrote out carefully and with a steady hand the denunciation of
Citizen-Deputy Déroulède which has become an historical document, and
is preserved in the chronicles of France.

You have all seen it at the Musée Carnavalet in its glass case, its
yellow paper and faded ink revealing nothing of the soul conflict of
which it was the culminating victory. The cramped, somewhat
schoolgirlish writing is the mute, pathetic witness of one of the
saddest tragedies, that era of sorrow and crime has ever known:

  _To the Representatives of the People now sitting in Assembly at
   the National Convention_

  You trust and believe in the Representative of the people:
  Citizen-Deputy Paul Déroulède. He is false, and a traitor to the
  Republic. He is planning, and hopes to effect, the release of
  ci-devant Marie Antoinette, widow of the traitor Louis Capet. Haste!
  ye representatives of the people! proofs of his assertion, papers
  and plans, are still in the house of the Citizen-Deputy Déroulède.
  This statement is made by one who knows.

  _I. The 23rd Fructidor._


When her letter was written she read it through carefully, made the
one or two little corrections, which are still visible in the
document, then folded her missive, hid it within the folds of her
kerchief, and, wrapping a dark cloak and hood round her, she slipped
noiselessly out of her room.

The house was all quiet and still.  She shuddered a little as the cool
morning air fanned her hot cheeks: it seemed like the breath of
ghosts.

She ran quickly down the stairs, and as rapidly as she could, pushed
back the heavy bolts of the front door, and slipped out into the
street.

Already the city was beginning to stir.  There was no time for sleep,
when so much had to be done for the safety of the threatened Republic.
As Juliette turned her steps towards the river, she met the crowd of
workmen, whom France was employing for her defence.

Behind her, in the Luxembourg Gardens, and all along the opposite bank
of the river, the furnaces were already ablaze, and the smiths at work
forging the guns.

At every step now Juliette came across the great placards, pinned to
the tall gallows-shaped posts, which proclaim to every passing citizen,
that the people of France are up and in arms.

Right across the Place de l'Institut a procession of market carts,
laden with vegetables and a little fruit, wends its way slowly towards
the centre of the town. They each carry tiny tricolour flags, with a
Pike and Cap of Liberty surmounting the flagstaff.

They are good patriots the market-gardeners, who come in daily to feed
the starving mob of Paris, with the few handfuls of watery potatoes,
and miserable, vermin-eaten cabbages, which that fraternal Revolution
still allows them to grow without hindrance.

Everyone seems busy with their work thus early in the morning: the
business of killing does not begin until later in the day.

For the moment Juliette can get along quite unmolested: the women and
children mostly hurrying on towards the vast encampments in the
Tuileries, where lint, and bandages, and coats for the soldiers are
manufactured all the day.

The walls of all the houses bear the great patriotic device: "_Liberté,
Egalité, Fraternité, sinon La Mort)"; others are more political in
their proclamation: "_La Republique une et indivisible_."

But on the walls of the Louvre, of the great palace of whilom kings,
where the Roi Soleil held his Court, and flirted with the prettiest
women in France, there the new and great Republic has affixed its
final mandate.

A great poster glued to the wall bears the words: "_La Loi concernan
les Suspects_." Below the poster is a huge wooden box with a slit at
the top.

This is the latest invention for securing the safety of this one and
indivisible Republic.

Henceforth everyone becomes a traitor at one word of denunciation from
an idler or an enemy, and, as in the most tyrannical days of the
Spanish Inquisition one-half of the nation was set to spy upon the
other, that wooden box, with its slit, is put there ready to receive
denunciations from one hand against another.

Had Juliette paused but for the fraction of a second, had she stopped
to read the placard setting forth this odious law, had she only
reflected, then she would even now have turned back, and fled from
that gruesome box of infamies, as she would from a dangerous and
noisome reptile or from the pestilence.

But her long vigil, her prayers, her ecstatic visions of heroic
martyrs had now completely numbed her faculties. Her vitality, her
sensibilities were gone: she had become an automaton gliding to her
doom, without a thought or a tremor.

She drew the letter from her bosom, and with a steady hand dropped it
into the box. The irreclaimable had now occurred. Nothing she could
henceforth say or do, no prayers or agonised vigils, no miracles even,
could undo her action or save Paul Déroulède from trial and
guillotine.

One or two groups of people hurrying to their work had seen her drop
the letter into the box. A couple of small children paused, finger in
mouth, gazing at her with inane curiosity; one woman uttered a coarse
jest, all of them shrugged their shoulders, and passed on, on their
way. Those who habitually crossed this spot were used to such sights.

That wooden box, with its mouthlike slit was like an insatiable
monster that was constantly fed, yet was still gaping for more.

Having done the deed Juliette turned, and as rapidly as she had come,
so she went back to her temporary home.

A home no more now; she must leave it at once, to-day if possible.
This much she knew, that she no longer could touch the bread of the
man she had betrayed. She would not appear at breakfast, she could
plead a headache, and in the afternoon Pétronelle should pack her
things.

She turned into a little shop close by, and asked for a glass of milk
and a bit of bread. The woman who served her eyed her with some
curiosity, for Juliette just now looked almost out of her mind.

She had not yet begun to think, and she had ceased to suffer.

Both would come presently, and with them the memory of this last
irretrievable hour and a just estimate of what she had done.





CHAPTER XI

"Vengeance is mine".


The pretence of a headache enabled Juliette to keep in her room the
greater part of the day. She would have liked to shut herself out from
the entire world during those hours which she spent face to face with
her own thoughts and her own sufferings.

The sight of Anne Mie's pathetic little face as she brought her food
and delicacies and various little comforts, was positive torture to
the poor, harrowed soul.

At very sound in the great, silent house she started up, quivering
with apprehension and horror. Had the sword of Damocles, which she
herself had suspended, already fallen over the heads of those who had
shown her nothing but kindness?

She could not think of Madame Déroulède or of Anne Mie without the
most agonising, the most torturing shame.

And what of him--the man she had so remorselessly, so ruthlessly
betrayed to a tribunal which would know no mercy?

Juliette dared not think of him.

She had never tried to analyse her feelings with regard to him.  At
the time of Charlotte Corday's trial, when his sonorous voice rang out
in its pathetic appeal for the misguided woman, Juliette had given him
ungrudging admiration. She remembered now how strongly his magnetic
personality had roused in her a feeling of enthusiasm for the poor
girl, who had come from the depths of her quiet provincial home, in
order to accomplish the horrible deed which would immortalise her name
through all the ages to come, and cause her countrymen to proclaim her
"greater than Brutus."

Déroulède was pleading for the life of that woman, and it was his very
appeal which had aroused Juliette's dormant energy, for the cause
which her dead father had enjoined her not to forget. It was Déroulède
again whom she had seen but a few weeks ago, standing alone before the
mob who would have torn her to pieces, haranguing them on her behalf,
speaking to them with that quiet, strong voice of his, ruling them
with the rule of love and pity, and turning their wrath to gentleness.

Did she hate him, then?

Surely, surely she hated him for having thrust himself into her life,
for having caused her brother's death and covered her father's
declining years with sorrow. And, above all, she hated him--indeed,
indeed it was hate!--for being the cause of this most hideous action
of her life: an action to which she had been driven against her will,
one of basest ingratitude and treachery, foreign to every sentiment
within her heart, cowardly, abject, the unconscious outcome of this
strange magnetism which emanated from him and had cast a spell over
her, transforming her individuality and will power, and making of her
an unconscious and automatic instrument of Fate.

She would not speak of God's finger again: it was Fate--pagan,
devilish Fate!--the weird, shrivelled women who sit and spin their
interminable thread. They had decreed; and Juliette, unable to fight,
blind and broken by the conflict, had succumbed to the Megaeras and
their relentless wheel.

At length silence and loneliness became unendurable.  She called
Pétronelle, and ordered her to pack her boxes.

"We leave for England to-day", she said curtly.

"For England?" gasped the worthy old soul, who was feeling very happy
and comfortable in this hospitable house, and was loth to leave it.
"So soon?"

"Why, yes; we had talked of it for some time.  We cannot remain here
always. My cousins De Crécy are there, and my aunt De Coudremont. We
shall be among friends, Pétronelle, if we ever get there."

"If we ever get there!" sighed poor Pétronelle; "we have but very
little money, _ma chérie,_ and no passports. Have you thought of
asking M. Déroulède for them."

"No, no," rejoined Juliette hastily; "I'll see to the passports
somehow, Pétronelle. Sir Percy Blakeney is English; he'll tell me what
to do."

"Do you know where he lives, my jewel?"

"Yes; I heard him tell Madame Déroulède last night that he was lodging
with a provincial named Brogard at the Sign of the Cruche Cassée. I'll
go seek him, Pétronelle; I am sure he will help me. The English are so
resourceful and practical. He'll get us our passports, I know, and
advise us as to the best way to proceed. Do you stay here and get all
our things ready. I'll not be long."

She took up a cloak and hood, and, throwing them over her arm, she
slipped out of the room.

Déroulède  had left the house earlier in the day.  She hoped that he
had not yet returned, and ran down the stairs quickly, so that she
might go out unperceived.

The house was quite peaceful and still.  It seemed strange to Juliette
that there did not hang over it some sort of pall-like presentiment of
coming evil.

From the kitchen, at some little distance from the hall, Anne Mie's
voice was heard singing an old ditty:

   "De ta tige détachée
    Pauvre feuille désséchée
    Où vas-tu?"

Juliette paused a moment.  An awful ache had seized her heart; her
eyes unconsciously filled with tears, as they roamed round the walls
of this house which had sheltered her so hospitably, these three weeks
past.

And now whither was she going?  Like the poor, dead leaf of the song,
she was wastrel, torn from the parent bough, homeless, friendless,
having turned against the one hand which, in this great time of peril,
had been extended to her in kindness and in love.

Conscience was beginning to rise up against her, and that hydra-headed
tyrant Remorse. She closed her eyes to shut out the hideous vision of
her crime; she tried to forget this home which her treachery had
desecrated.

    "Je vais où va toute chose
     Où va la feuille de rose
     Et la feuille de laurier,"

sang Anne Mie plaintively.

A great sob broke from Juliette's aching heart.  The misery of it all
was more than she could bear. Ah, pity her if you can! She had fought
and striven, and been conquered. A girl's soul is so young, so
impressionable; and she had grown up with that one, awful,
all-pervading idea of duty to accomplish, a most solemn oath to
fulfil, one sworn to her dying father, and on the dead body of her
brother. She had begged for guidance, prayed for release, and the
voice from above had remained silent. Weak, miserable, cringing, the
human soul, when torn with earthly passion, must look at its own
strength for the fight.

And now the end had come.  That swift, scarce tangible dream of peace,
which had flitted through her mind during the past few weeks, had
vanished with the dawn, and she was left desolate, alone with her
great sin and its lifelong expiation.

Scarce knowing what she did, she fell on her knees, there on that
threshold, which she was about to leave for ever. Fate had placed on
her young shoulders a burden too heavy for her to bear.

"Juliette!"

At first she did not move.  It was his voice coming from the study
behind her. Its magic thrilled her, as it had done that day in the
Hall of Justice. Strong, passionate, tender, it seemed now to raise
every echo of response in her heart. She thought it was a dream, and
remained there on her knees lest it should be dispelled.

Then she heard his footsteps on the flagstones of the hall.  Anne
Mie's plaintive singing had died away in the distance. She started,
and jumped to her feet, hastily drying her eyes. The momentary dream
was dispelled, and she was ashamed of her weakness.

He, the cause of all her sorrows, of her sin, and of her degradation,
had no right to see her suffer.

She would have fled out of the house now, but it was too late.  He had
come out of his study, and, seeing her there on her knees weeping, he
came quickly forward, trying, with all the innate chivalry of his
upright nature, not to let her see that he had been a witness to her
tears.

"You are going out, mademoiselle?" he said courteously, as, wrapping
her cloak around her, she was turning towards the door.

"Yes, yes," she replied hastily; "a small errand, I..."

"Is it anything I can do for you?"

"No."

"If..." he added, with visible embarrassment, "if your errand would
brook a delay, might I crave the honour of your presence in my study
for a few moments?"

"My errand brooks of no delay, Citizen Déroulède," she said as
composedly as she could, "and perhaps on my return I might..."

"I am leaving almost directly, mademoiselle, and I would wish to bid
you good-bye."

He stood aside to allow her to pass, either out, through the street
door or across the hall to his study.

There had been no reproach in his voice towards the guest, who was
thus leaving him without a word of farewell. Perhaps if there had been
any, Juliette would have rebelled. As it was, an unconquerable
magnetism seemed to draw her towards him, and, making an almost
imperceptible sign of acquiescence, she glided past him into his room.

The study was dark and cool; for the room faced the west, and the
shutters had been closed, in order to keep out the hot August sun. At
first Juliette could see nothing, but she felt his presence near her,
as he followed her into the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.

"It is kind of you, mademoiselle," he said gently, "to accede to my
request, which was perhaps presumptuous. But, you see, I am leaving
this house to-day, and I had a selfish longing to hear your voice
bidding me farewell."

Juliette's large, burning eyes were gradually piercing the semi-gloom
around her. She could see him distinctly now, standing close beside
her, in an attitude of the deepest, almost reverential respect.

The study was as usual neat and tidy, denoting the orderly habits of a
man of action and energy. On the ground there was a valise, ready
strapped as if or a journey, and on the top of it a bulky letter-case
of stout pigskin, secured with a small steel lock. Juliette's eyes
fastened upon this case with a look of fascination and of horror.
Obviously it contained Déroulède's papers, the plans for Marie
Antoinette's escape, the passports of which he had spoken the day
before to his friend, Sir Percy Blakeney--the proofs, in fact, which
she had offered to the representatives of the people, in support of
her denunciation of the Citizen-Deputy.

After his request he had said nothing more.  He was waiting for her to
speak; but her voice felt parched; it seemed to her as if hands of
steel were gripping her throat, smothering the words she would have
longed to speak.

"Will you not wish me godspeed, mademoiselle?" he repeated gently.

"Godspeed?"  Oh! the awful irony of it all!  Should God speed him to a
mock trial and to the guillotine? He was going thither, though he did
not know it, and was even now trying to take the hand which had
deliberately sent him there.

At last she made an effort to speak, and in a toneless, even voice she
contrived to murmur:

"You are not going for long, Citizen-Deputy?"

"In these times, mademoiselle," he replied, "any farewell might be for
ever. But I am actually going for a month to the Conciergerie, to take
charge of the unfortunate prisoner there."

"For a month!" she repeated mechanically.

"Oh yes!" he said, with a smile.  "You see, our present Government is
afraid that poor Marie Antoinette will exercise her fascinations over
any lieutenant-governor of her prison, if he remain near her long
enough, so a new one is appointed every month. I shall be in charge
during this coming Vendémiaire. I shall hope to return before the
equinox, but--who can tell?"

"In any case then, Citoyen Déroulède, the farewell I bid you to-night
will be a very long one."

"A month will seem a century to me," he said earnestly, "since I must
spend it without seeing you, but..."

He looked long and searchingly at her.  He did not understand her in
her present mood, so scared and wild did she seem, so unlike that
girlish, light-hearted self, which had made the dull old house so
bright these past few weeks.

"But I should not dare to hope," he murmured, "that a similar reason
would cause you to call that month a long one."

She turned perhaps a trifle paler thant she had been hitherto, and her
eyes roamed round the room like those of a trapped hare seeking to
escape.

"You misunderstand me, Citoyen Déroulède," she said at last hurriedly.
"You have all been kind--very kind--but Pétronelle and I can no
longer trespass on your hospitality. We have friends in England, and
many enemies here..."

"I know," he interrupted quietly; "it would be the most arrant
selfishness on my part to suggest, that you should stay here an hour
longer than necessary. I fear that after to-day my roof may no longer
prove a sheltering one for you. But will you allow me to arrange for
your safety, as I am arranging for that of my mother and Anne Mie? My
English friend Sir Percy Blakeney, has a yacht in readiness off the
Normandy coast. I have already seen to your passports and to all the
arrangements of your journey as far as there, and Sir Percy, or one of
his friends, will see you safely on board the English yacht. He has
given me his promise that he will do this, and I trust him as I would
myself. For the journey through France, my name is a sufficient
guarantee that you will be unmolested; and if you will allow it, my
mother and Anne Mie will travel in your company. Then..."

"I pray you stop, Citizen Déroulède," she suddenly interrupted
excitedly. "You must forgive me, but I cannot allow thus to make any
arrangements for me. Pétronelle and I must do as best we can. All your
time and trouble should be spent for the benefit of those who have a
claim upon you, whilst I..."

"You speak unkindly, mademoiselle; there is no question of claim."

"And you have no right to think..." she continued, with a growing,
nervous excitement, drawing her hand hurriedly away, for he had tried
to seize it.

"Ah! pardon me," he interrupted earnestly, "there you are wrong.  I
have the right to think of you and for you--the inalienable right
conferred upon me by my great love for you."

"Citizen-Deputy!"

"Nay, Juliette; I know my folly, and I know my presumption.  I know
the pride of your caste and of your party, and how much you despise
the partisan of the squalid mob of France. Have I said that I aspired
to gain your love? I wonder if I have ever dreamed it? I only know,
Juliette, that you are to me something akin to the angels, something
white and ethereal, intangible, and perhaps ununderstandable. Yet,
knowing my folly, I glory in it, my dear, and I would not let you go
out of my life without telling you of that, which has made every hour
of the past few weeks a paradise for me--my love for you, Juliette."

He spoke in that low, impressive voice of his, and with those soft,
appealing tones with which she had once heard him pleading for poor
Charlotte Corday. Yet now he was not pleading for himself, not for his
selfish wish or for his own happiness, only pleading for his love,
that she should know of it, and, knowing it, have pity in her heart
for him, and let him serve her to the end.

He did not say anything more for a while; he had taken her hand, which
she no longer withdrew from him, for there was sweet pleasure in
feeling his strong fingers close tremblingly over hers. He pressed his
lips upon her hand, upon the soft palm and delicate wrist, his burning
kisses bearing witness to the tumultuous passion, which his reverence
for her was holding in check.

She tried to tear herself away from him, but he would not let her go:

"Do not go away just yet, Juliette," he pleaded.  "Think!  I may never
see you again; but when you are far from me--in England, perhaps--
amongst your own kith and kin, will you try sometimes to think kindly
of one who so wildly, so madly worships you?"

She would have stilled, an she could, the beating of her heart, which
went out to him at last with all the passionate intensity of her
great, pent-up love. Every word he spoke had its echo within her very
soul, and she tried not to hear his tender appeal, not to see his dark
head bending in worship before her. She tried to forget his presence,
not to know that he was there--he, the man whom she had betrayed to
serve her own miserable vengeance, whom in her mad, exalted rage she
had thought that she hated, but whom she now knew that she loved
better than her life, better than her soul, her tradidions, or her
oath.

Now, at this moment, she made every effort to conjure up the vision of
her brother brought home dead upon a stretcher, of her father's
declining years, rendered hideous by the mind unhinged through the
great sorrow.

She tried to think of the avenging finger of God pointing the way to
the fulfilment of her oath, and called to Him to stand by her in this
terrible agony of her soul.

And God spoke to her at last; through the eternal vistas of boundless
universe, from that heaven which had known no pity, His voice came to
her now, clear, awesome, and implacable:

"Vengeance is mine!  I will repay!"





CHAPTER XII

The sword of Damocles.


"In the name of the Republic!"

Absorbed in his thoughts, his dreams, his present happiness, Déroulède
had heard nothing of what was going on in the house, during the past
few seconds.

At first, to Anne Mie, who was still singing her melancholy didty over
her work in the kitchen, there had seem nothing unusual in the
peremptory ring at the front-door bell. She pulled down her sleeves
over her thin arms, smoothed down her cooking apron, then only did she
run to see who the visitor might be.

As soon as she had opened the door, however, she understood.

Five men were standing before her, four of whom wore the uniform of
the National Guard, and the fifth, the tricolour scarf fringed with
gold, which denoted service under the Convention.

This man seemed to be in command of the others, and he immediately
stepped into the hall, followed by his four companions, who at a sign
from him, effectively cut off Anne Mie from what had been her imminent
purpose--namely, to run to the study and warn Déroulède of his
danger.

That it was danger of the most certain, the most deadly kind she never
doubted for one moment. Even had her instinct not warned her, she
would have guessed. One glance at the five men had sufficed to tell
her: their attitude, their curt word of command, their air of
authority as they crossed the hall--everything revealed the purpose
of their visit: a domiciliary search in the house of Citizen-Deputy
Déroulède.

Merlin's Law of the Suspect was in full operation.  Someone had
denounced the Citizen-Deputy to the Committee of Public Safety; and in
this year of grace, 1793, and I. of the Revolution, men and women were
daily sent to the guillotine on suspicion.

Anne Mie would have screamed, had she dared, but instinct such as hers
was far too keen, to betray her into so injudicious an act. She felt
that, were Paul Déroulède's eyes upon her at this moment, he would
wish her to remain calm and outwardly serene.

The foremost man--he with the tricolour scarf--had already crossed
the hall, and was standing outside the study door. It was his word of
command which first roused Déroulède from his dream:

"In the name of the Republic!"

Déroulède did not immediately drop the small hand, which a moment ago
he had been covering with kisses. He held it to his lips once more,
very gently, lingering over this last fond caress, as if over an
eternal farewell, then he straightened out his broad, well-knit
figure, and turned to the door.

He was very pale, but there was neither fear nor even surprise
expressed in his earnest, deep-set eyes. They still seemed to be
looking afar, gazing upon a heaven-born vision, which the touch of her
hand and the avowal of his love had conjured up before him.

"In the name of the Republic'"

Once more, for the third time--according to custom--the words rang
out, clear, distinct, peremptory.

In that one fraction of a second, whilst those six words were spoken,
Déroulède's eyes wandered swiftly towards the heavy letter-case, which
now held his condemnation, and a wild, mad thought--the mere animal
desire to escape from danger--surged up in his brain.

The plans for the escape of Marie Antoinette, the various passports,
worded in accordance with the possible disguises the unfortunate Queen
might assume--all these papers were more than sufficient proof of
what would be termed his treason against the Republic.

He could already hear the indictment against him, could see the filthy
mob of Paris dancing a wild saraband round the tumbrill, which bore
him towards the guillotine; he could hear their yells of execration,
could feel the insults hurled against him, by those who had most
admired, most envied him. And from all this he would have escaped if
he could, if it had not been too late.

It was but a second, or less, whilst the words were spoken outside his
door, and whilst all other thoughts in him were absorbed in this one
mad desire for escape. He even made a movement, as if to snatch up the
letter-case and to hide it about his person. But it was heavy and
bulky; it would be sure to attract attention, and might bring upon him
the additional indignity of being forced to submit to a personal
search.

He caught Juliette's eyes fixed upon him with an intensity of gaze
which, in that same one mad moment, revealed to him the depths of her
love. Then the second's weakness was gone; he was once more quiet,
firm, the man of action, accustomed to meet danger boldly, to rule and
to subdue the most turgid mob.

With a quiet shrug of the shoulders, he dismissed all thought of the
compromising lettercase, and went to the door.

Already, as no reply had come to the third word of command, it had
been thrown open from outside, and Déroulède found himself face to
face with the five men.

"Citizen Merlin!" he said quietly, as he recognised the foremost among
them.

"Himself, Citizen-Deputy," rejoined the latter, with a sneer, "at your
service."

Anne Mie, in a remote corner of the hall, had heard the name, and felt
her very soul sicken at its sound.

Merlin!  Author of that infamous Law of the Suspect which had set man
against man, a father against his son, brother against brother, and
friend against friend, had made of every human creature a bloodhound
on the track of his fellowmen, dogging in order not to be dogged,
denouncing, spying, hounding, in order not to be denounced.

And he, Merlin, gloried in this, the most fiendishly evil law ever
perpetrated for the degradation of the human race.

There is that sketch of him in the Musée Carnavalet, drawn just before
he, in his turn, went to expiate his crimes on that very guillotine,
which he had sharpened and wielded so powerfully against his fellows.
The artist has well caught the slouchy, slovenly look of his loosely
knit figure, his long limbs and narrow head, with the snakelike eyes
and slightly receding chin. Like Marat, his model and prototype,
Merlin affected dirty, ragged clothes. The real Sanscullottism, the
downward levelling of his fellowmen to the lowest rung of the social
ladder, pervaded every action of this noted product of the great
Revolution.

Even Déroulède, whose entire soul was filled with a great,
all-understanding pity for the weaknesses of mankind, recoiled at
sight of this incarnation of the spirit of squalor and degradation, of
all that was left of the noble Utopian theories of the makers of the
Revolution.

Merlin grinned when he saw Déroulède standing there, calm, impassive,
well dressed, as if prepared to receive an honoured guest, rather than
a summons to submit to the greatest indignity a proud man has ever
been called upon to suffer.

Merlin had always hated the popular Citizen-Deputy.  Friend and
boon-companion of Marat and his gang, he had for over two years now
exerted all the influence he possessed in order to bring Déroulède
under a cloud of suspicion.

But Déroulède had the ear of the populace.  No one understood as he
did the tone of a Paris mob; and the National Convention, ever
terrified of the volcano it had kindled, felt that a popular member of
its assembly was more useful alive than dead.

But now at last Merlin was having his way.  An anonymous denunciation
against Déroulède had reached the Public Prosecutor that day. Tinville
and Merlin were the fastest of friends, so the latter easily obtained
the privilege of being the first to proclaim to his hated enemy, the
news of his downfall.

He stood facing Déroulède for a moment, enjoying the present situation
to its full. The light from the vast hall struck full upon the
powerful figure of the Citizen-Deputy and upon his firm, dark face and
magnetic, restless eyes. Behind him the study, with its closely-drawn
shutters, appeared wrapped in gloom.

Merlin turned to his men, and, still delighted with his position of a
cat playing with a mouse, he pointed to Déroulède, with a smile and a
shrug of the shoulders.

"_Voyez-moi donc çà,_" he said, with a coarse jest, and expectorating
contemptuously upon the floor, "the aristocrat seems not to understand
that we are here in the name of the Republic. There is a very good
proverb, Citizen-Deputy," he added, once more addressing Déroulède,
"which you seem to have forgotten, and that is that the pitcher which
goes too often to the well breaks at last. You have conspired against
the liberties of the people for the past ten years. Retribution has
come to you at last; the people of France have come to their senses.
The National Convention wants to know what treason you are hatching
between these four walls, and it has deputed me to find out all there
is to know."

"At your service, Citizen-Deputy!" said Déroulède, quietly stepping
aside, in order to make way for Merlin and his men.

Resistance was useless, and, like all strong, determined natures, he
knew when it was best to give in.

During this while, Juliette had neither moved nor uttered a sound.
Little more than a minuted had elapsed since the moment when the first
peremptory order, to open in the name of the Republic, had sounded
like the tocsin through the stillness of the house. Déroulède's kisses
were still hot upon her hand, his words of love were still ringing in
her ears.

And now this awful, deadly peril, which she with her own hand had
brought on the man she loved!

If in one moment's anguish the soul be allowed to expiate a lifelong
sin, then indeed did Juliette atone during this one terrible second.

Her conscience, her heart, her entire being rose in revolt against her
crime. Her oath, her life, her final denunciation appeared before her
in all their hideousness.

And now it was too late.

Déroulède stood facing Merlin, his most implacable enemy.  The latter
was giving orders to his men, preparatory to searching the house, and
there, just on the top of the valise, lay the letter-case, obviously
containing those papers, to which the day before she had overheard
Déroulède making allusion, whilst he spoke to his friend, Sir Percy
Blakeney.

An unexplainable instinct seemed to tell her that the papers were in
that case. Her eyes were riveted on it, as if fascinated. An awful
terror held her enthralled for one second more, whilst her thoughts,
her longings, her desires were all centred on the safety of that one
thing.

The nex instant she had seized it and thrown it upon the sofa.  Then
seating herself beside it, with the gesture of a queen and the grace
of a Parisienne, she had spread the ample folds of her skirts over the
compromising case, hiding it entirely from view.

Merlin in the hall was ordering two men to stand one on each side of
Déroulède, and two more to follow him into the room. Now he entered it
himself, his narrow eyes trying to pierce the semi-obscurity, which
was rendered more palpable by the briljant light in the hall.

He had not seen Juliette's gesture, but he had heard the _frou-frou_
of her skirts, as she seated herself upon the sofa.

"You are not alone Citizen-Deputy, I see," he said, with a sneer, as
his snakelike eyes lighted upon the young girl.

"My guest, Citizen Merlin," replied Déroulède as calmly as he could--
"Citizen Juliette Marny. I know that it is useless, under these
circumstances, to ask for consideration for a woman, but I pray you to
remember, as far as is possible, that although we are all Republicans,
we are also Frenchmen, and all still equal in our sentiment of
chivalry towards our mothers, our sisters, or our guests."

Merlin chuckled, and gazed for a moment ironically at Juliette.  He
had held, between his talon-like fingers, that very morning, a thin
scrap of paper, on which a schoolgirlish hand had scrawled the
denunciation against Citizen-Deputy Déroulède.

Coarse in nature, and still coarser in thoughts, this representative
of the people had very quickly arrived at a conclusion in his mind,
with regard to this so-called guest in the Déroulède household.

"A discarded mistress," he muttered to himself.  "Just had another
scene, I suppose. He's got tired of her, and she's given him away out
of spite."

Satisfied with this explanation of the situation, he was quite
inclined to be amiable to Juliette. Moreover, he had caught sight of
the valise, and almost thought that the young girl's eyes had directed
his attention towards it.

"Open those shutters!" he commanded, "this place is like a vault."

One of the men obeyed immediately, and as the briljant August sun came
streaming into the room, Merlin once more turned to Déroulède.

"Information has been laid against you, Citizen-Deputy," he said, "by
an anonymous writer, who states that you have just now in your
possession correspondence or other papers intended for the Widow
Capet: and the Committee of Public Safety has entrusted me and these
citizens to seize such correspondence, and make you answerable for its
presence in your house."

Déroulède hesitated for one brief fraction of a second.  As soon as
the shutters had been opened, and the room flooded in daylight, he had
at once perceived that his letter-case had disappeared, and guessed,
from Juliette's attitude upon the sofa, that she had concealed it
about her person. It was this which caused him to hesitate.

His heart was filled with boundless gratitude to her for her noble
effort to save him, but he would have given his life at this moment,
to undo what she had done.

The Terrorists were no respecters of persons or of sex.  A domicillary
search order, in those days, conferred full powers on those in
authority, and Juliette might at any moment now be peremptorily
ordered to rise. Through her action she had made herself one with the
Citizen-Deputy; if the case were found under the folds of her skirts,
she would be accused of connivance, or at any rate of the equally
grave charge of shielding a traitor.

The manly pride in him rebelled at the thought of owing his immediate
safety to a woman, yet he could not now discard her help, without
compromising her irretrievably.

He dared not even to look again towards her, for he felt that at this
moment her life as well as his own lay in the quiver of an eyelid; and
Merlin's keen, narrow eyes were fixed upon him in eager search for a
tremor, a flash, which might betray fear or prove an admission of
guilt.

Juliette sat there, calm, impassive, disdainful, and she seemed to
Déroulède more angelic, more unattainable even than before. He could
have worshipped her for her heroism, her resourcefulness, her quiet
aloofness from all these coarse creatures who filled the room with the
odour of their dirty clothes, with their rough jests, and their
noisome suggestions.

"Well, Citizen-Deputy," sneered Merlin after a while, "you do not
reply, I notice."

"The insinuation is unworthy of a reply, citizen," replied Déroulède
quietly; "my services to the Republic are well known. I should have
thought that the Committee of Public Safety would disdain an anonymous
denunciation against a faithful servant of the people of France."

"The Committee of Public Safety knows its own business best,
Citizen-Deputy," rejoined Merlin roughly. "If the accusation prove a
calumny, so much the better for you. I presume," he added with a
sneer, "that you do not propose to offer any resistance whilst these
citizens and I search your house."

Without another word Déroulède handed a bunch of keys to the man by
his side. Every kind of opposition, argument even, would be worse than
useless.

Merlin had ordered the valise and desk to be searched, and two men
were busy turning out the contents of both on to the floor. But the
desk now only contained a few private household accounts, and notes
for the various speeches which Déroulède had at various times
delivered in the assemblies of the National Convention. Amont these, a
few pencil jottings for his great defence of Charlotte Corday were
eagerly seized upon by Merlin, and his grimy, clawlike hands fastened
upon this scrap of paper, as upon a welcome prey.

But there was nothing else of any importance.  Déroulède was a man of
thought and of action, with all the enthusiasm of real conviction, but
none of the carelessness of a fanatic. The papers which were contained
in the letter-case, and which he was taking with him to the
Conciergerie, he considered were necessary to the success of his
plans, otherwise he never would have kept them, and they were the only
proofs that could be brought up against him.

The valise itself was only packed with the few necessaries for a
month's sojourn at the Conciergerie; and the men, under Merlin's
guidance, were vainly trying to find something, anything that might be
construed into treasonable correspondence with the unfortunate
prisoner there.

Merlin, whilst his men were busy with the search, was sprawling in one
of the big leather-covered chairs, on the arms of which his dirty
finger-nails were beating an impatient devil's tattoo. He was at no
pains to conceal the intense disappointment which he would experience,
were his errand to prove fruitless.

His narrow eyes every now and then wandered towards Juliette, as if
asking for her help and guidance. She, understanding his frame of
mind, responded to the look. Shutting her mentality off from the
coarse suggestion of his attitude towards her, she played her part
with cunning, and without flinching. With a glance here and there, she
directed the men in their search. Déroulède himself could scarcely
refrain from looking at her; he was puzzled, and vaguely marvelled at
the perfection, with which she carried through her rôle to the end.

Merlin found himself baffled.

He knew quite well that Citizen-Deputy Déroulède was not a man to be
lightly dealt with. No mere suspicion or anonymous denunciation would
be sufficient in his case, to bring him before the tribunal of the
Revolution. Unless there were proofs--positive, irrefutable, damnable
proofs--of Paul Déroulède's treachery, the Public Prosecutor would
never dare to frame an indictment against him. The mob of Paris would
rise to defend its idol; the hideous hags, who plied their knitting at
the foot of the scaffold, would tear the guillotine down, before they
would allow Déroulède to mount it.

Thas was Déroulède's stronghold: the people of Paris, whom he had
loved through all their infamies, and whom he had succoured and helped
in their private need; and above all the women of Paris, whose
children he had caused to be tended in the hospitals which he had
built for them--this they had not yet forgotten, and Merlin knew it.
One day they would forget--soon, perhaps--then they would turn on
their former idol, and, howling, send him to his death, amidst cries
of rancour and execration. When that day came there would be no need
to worry about treason or about proofs. When the populace had
forgotten all that he had done, then Déroulède would fall.

But that time was not yet.

The men had finished ransacking the room; every scrap of paper, every
portable article had been eagerly seized upon.

Merlin, half blind with fury, had jumped to his feet.

"Search him!" he ordered peremptorily.

Déroulède set his teeth, and made no protest, calling up every fibre
of moral strength within him, to aid him in submitting to this
indignity. At a coarse jest from Merlin, he buried his nails into the
palms of his hand, not to strike the foulmouthed creature in the face.
But he submitted, and stood impassive by, whilst the pockets of his
coat were turned inside out by the rough hands of the soldiers.

All the while Juliette had remained silent, watching Merlin as any
hawk would its prey. But the Terrorist, through the very coarseness of
his nature, was in this case completely fooled.

He knew that it was Juliette who had denounced Déroulède, and had
satisfied himself as to her motive. Because he was low and brutish and
degraded, he never once suspected the truth, never saw in that
beautiful young woman, anything of the double nature within her, of
that curious, self-torturing, at times morbid sense of religion and of
duty, at war with her own upright, innately heathy disposition.

The low-born, self-degraded Terrorist had put his own construction on
Juliette's action, and with this he was satisfied, since it answered
to his own estimate of the human race, the race which he was doing his
best to bring down to the level of the beast.

Therefore Merlin did not interfere with Juliette, but contented
himself with insinuating, by jest and action, what her share in this
day's work had been. To these hints Déroulède, of course, paid no
heed. For him Juliette was as far above political intrigue as the
angels. He would as soon have suspected one of the saints enshrined in
Notre Dame as this beautiful, almost ethereal creature, who had been
send by Heaven to gladden his heart and to elevate his very thought.

But Juliette understood Merlin's attitude, and guessed that her
written denunciation had come into his hands. Her every thought, every
living sensation within her, was centred in this one thing: to save
the man she loved from the consequences of her own crime against him.
And for this, even the shadow of suspicion must be removed from him.
Merlin's iniquitous law should not touch him again.

When Déroulède at last had been released, after the outrage to which
he had been personally subjected, Merlin was literally, and
figuratively too, looking about him for an issue to his present
dubious position.

Judging others by his own standard of conduct, he feared now that the
popular Citizen-Deputy would incite the mob against him, in revenge
for the indignities which he had had to suffer. And with it all the
Terrorist was convinced that Déroulède was guilty, that proofs of his
treason did exist, if only he knew where to lay hands on them.

He turned to Juliette with an unexpressed query in his adder-like
eyes. She shrugged her shoulders, and made a gesture as if pointing
towards the door.

"There are other rooms in the house besides this," her gesture seemed
to say; "try them. The proofs are there, 'tis for you to find them."

Merlin had been standing between her and Déroulède, so that the latter
saw neither query nor reply.

"You are cunning, Citizen-Deputy," said Merlin now, turning towards
him, "and no doubt you have been at pains to put your treasonable
correspondence out of the way. You must understand that the Committee
of Public Safety will not be satisfied with a mere examination of your
study," he added, assuming an air of ironical benevolence, "and I
presume you will have no objection, if I and these citizen soldiers
pay a visit to other portions of your house."

"As you please," responded Déroulède drily.

"You will accompany us, Citizen-Deputy," commanded the other curtly.

The four men of the National Guard formed themselves into line outside
the study door; with a peremptory nod, Merlin ordered Déroulède to
pass between them, then he too prepared to follow. At the door he
turned, and once more faced Juliette.

"As for you, citizeness," he said, with a sudden access of viciousness
against her, "if you have brought us here on a fool's errand, it will
go ill with you, remember. Do not leave the house until our return. I
may have some questions to put to you."





CHAPTER XIII

Tangled meshes.


Juliette waited a moment or two, until the footsteps of the six men
died away up the massive oak stairs.

For the first time, since the sword of Damocles had fallen, she was
alone with her thoughts.

She had but a few moments at her command in which to devise an issue
out of these tangled meshes, which she had woven round the man she
loved.

Merlin and his men would return anon.  The comedy could not be kept up
through another visit from them, and while the compromising
letter-case remained in Déroulède's private study he was in imminent
danger at the hands of his enemy.

She thought for a moment of concealing the case about her person, but
a second's reflection showed her the futility of such a move. She had
not seen the papers themselves; any one of them might be an absolute
proof of Déroulède's guilt; the correspondence might be in his
handwriting.

If Merlin, furious, baffled, vicious, were to order her to be
searched! The horror of the indignity made her shudder, but she would
have submitted to that, if thereby she could have saved Déroulède. But
of this she could not be sure until after she had looked through the
papers, and this she had not the time to do.

Her first and greatest idea was to get out of this room, his private
study, with the compromising papers. Not a trace of them must be found
here, if he were to remain beyond suspicion.

She rose from the sofa, and peeped through the door.  The hall was now
deserted; from the left wing of the house, on the floor above, the
heavy footsteps of the soldiers and Merlin's occasional brutish laugh
could be distinctly heard.

Juliette listened for a moment, trying to understand what was
happening. Yes; they had all gone to Déroulède's bedroom, which was on
the extreme left, at the end of the first-floor landing. There might
be just time to accomplish what she had now resolved to do.

As best she could, she did the bulky leather case in the folds of her
skirt. It was literally neck or nothing now. If she were caught on the
stairs by one of the men nothing could save her or--possibly--
Déroulède.

At any rate, by remaining where she was, by leaving the events to
shape themselves, discovery was absolutely certain. She chose to take
the risk.

She slipped noiselessly out of the room and up the great oak stairs.
Merlin and his men, busy with their search in Déroulède's bedroom,
took no heed of what was going on behind them; Juliette arrived on the
landing, and turned sharply to her right, running noiselessly along
the tick Aubusson carpet, and thence quickly to her own room.

All this had taken less than a minute to accomplish.  The very next
moment she heard Merlin's voice ordering one of his men to stand at
attention on the landing, but by that time she was safe inside her
room. She closed the door noiselessly.

Pétronelle, who had been busy all the afternoon packing up her young
mistress' things, had fallen asleep in an arm-chair. Unconscious of
the terrible events which were rapidly succeeding each other in the
house, the worthy old soul was snoring peaceably, with her hands
complacently folded on her ample bosom.

Juliette, for the moment, took no notice of her.  As quickly and as
dexterously as she could, she was tearing open the heavy leather case
with a sharp pair of scissors, and very soon its contents were
scattered before her on the table.

One glance at them was sufficient to convince her that most of the
papers would undoubtedly, if found, send Déroulède to the guillotine.
Most of the correspondence was in the Citizen-Deputy's handwriting.
She had, of course, no time to examine it more closely, but instinct
naturally told her that it was of a highly compromising character.

She gathered the papers up into a heap, tearing some of them up into
strips; then she spread them out upon the ash-pan in front of the
large earthenware stove, which stood in a corner of the room.

Unfortunately, this was a hot day in August.  Her task would have been
far easier if she had wished to destroy a bundle of papers in the
depth of winter, when there was a good fire burning in the stove.

But her purpose was firm and her incentive, the greatest that has ever
spurred mankind to heroism.

Regardless of any consequences to herself, she had but the one object
in view, to save Déroulède at all costs.

On the wall facing her bed, and immediately above a velvet-covered
prie-dieu, there was a small figure of the Virgin and Child--one of
those quaintly pretty devices for holding holy water, which the
reverent superstition of the past century rendered a necessary adjunct
of every girl's room.

In front of the figure a small lamp was kept perpetually burning.
This Juliette now took between her fingers, carefully, lest the tiny
flame should die out. First she poured the oil over the fragments of
paper in the ash-pan, then with the wick she set fire to the whole
compromising correspondence.

The oil helped the paper to burn quickly; the smell, or perhaps the
presence of Juliette in the room caused worthy old Pétronelle to wake.

"It's nothing, Pétronelle," said Juliette quietly; "only a few old
letters I am burning. But I want to be alone for a few moments--will
you go down to the kitchen until I call you?"

Accustomed to do as her young mistress commanded, Pétronelle rose
without a word.

"I have finished putting away your few things, my jewel.  There,
there! why didn't you tell me to burn your papers for you? You have
soiled your dear hands, and..."

"Sh! Sh! Pétronelle!" said Juliette impatiently, and gently pushing
the garrulous old woman towards the door. "Run to the kitchen now
quickly, and don't come out of it until I call you. And, Pétronelle,"
she added, "you will see soldiers about the house perhaps."

"Soldiers!  The good God have mercy!"

"Don't be frightened, Pétronelle.  But they may ask you questions."

"Questions?"

"Yes; about me."

"My treasure, my jewel," exclaimed Pétronelle in alarm, "have those
devils...?"

"No, no; nothing has happened as yet, but, you know, in these times
there is always danger."

"Good God!  Holy Mary!  Mother of God!"

"Nothing 'll happen if you try to keep quite calm and do exactly as I
tell you. Go to the kitchen, and wait there until I call you. If the
soldiers come in and question you, if they try to frighten you,
remember that we have nothing to fear from men, and that our lives are
in God's keeping."

All the while that Juliette spoke, she was watching the heap of paper
being gradually reduced to ashes. She tried to fan the flames as best
she could, but some of the correspondence was on tough paper, and was
slow in being consumed. Pétronelle, tearful but obedient, prepared to
leave the room. She was overawed by her mistress' air of aloofness,
the pale face rendered ethereally beautiful by the sufferings she had
gone through. The eyes glowed large and magnetic, as if in presence of
spiritual visions beyond mortal ken; the golden hair looked like a
saintly halo above the white, immaculate young brow.

Pétronelle made the sign of the cross, as if she were in the presence
of a saint.

As she opened the door there was a sudden draught, and the last
flickering flame died out in the ash-pan. Juliette, seeing that
Pétronelle had gone, hastily turned over the few half burnt fragments
of paper that were left. In none of them had the writing remained
legible. All that was compromising to Déroulède was effectually
reduced to dust. The small wick in the lamp at the foot of the Virgin
and Child had burned itself out for want of oil; there was no means
for Juliette to strike another light and to destroy what remained. The
leather case was, of course, still there, with its sides ripped open,
an indestructible thing.

There was nothing to be done about that.  Juliette after a second's
hesitation threw it among her dresses in the valise.

Then she too went out of the room.





CHAPTER XIV

A happy moment.


The search in the Citizen-Deputy's bedroom had proved as fruitless as
that in his study. Merlin was beginning to have vague doubts as to
whether he had been effectively fooled.

His manner towards Déroulède had undergone a change.  He had become
suave and unctuous, a kind of elephantine irony pervading his
laborious attempts at conciliation. He and the Public Prosecutor would
be severely blamed for this day's work, if the popular Deputy, relying
upon the support of the people of Paris, chose to take his revenge.

In France, in this glorious year of the Revolution, there was but one
step between censure and indictment. And Merlin knew it. Therefore,
although he had not given up all hope of finding proofs of Déroulède's
treason, although by the latter's attitude he remained quite convinced
that such proof did exist, he was already reckoning upon the cat's
paw, the sop he would offer to that Cerberus, the Committee of Public
Safety, in exchange for his own exculpation in the matter.

This sop would be Juliette, the denunclator instead of Déroulède the
denounced.

But he was still seeking for the proofs.

Somewhat changing his tactics, he had allowed Déroulède to join his
mother in the living-room, and had betaken himself to the kitchen in
search of Anne Mie, whom he had previously caught sight of in the
hall. There he also found old Pétronelle, whom he could scare out of
het wits to his heart's content, but from whom he was quite unable to
extract any useful information. Pétronelle was too stupid to be
dangerous, and Anne Mie was too much on the alert.

But, with a vague idea that a cunning man might choose the most
unlikely places for the concealment of compromising property, he was
ransacking the kitchen from floor to ceiling.

In the living-room Déroulède was doing his best to reassure his
mother, who, in her turn, was forcing herself to be brave, and not to
show by her tears how deeply she feared for the safety of her son. As
soon as Déroulède had been freed from the presence of the soldiers, he
had hastened back to his study, only to find that Juliette had gone,
and that the letter-case had also disappeared. Not knowing what to
think, trembling for the safety of the woman he adored, he was just
debating whether he would seek for her in her own room, when she came
towards him across the landing.

There seemed a halo around her now.  Déroulède felt that she had never
been so beautiful and to him so unattainable. Something told him then,
that at this moment she was as far away from him, as if she were an
inhabitant of another, more ethereal planet.

When she saw him coming towards her, she put a finger to her lips, and
whispered:

"Sh! sh! the papers are destroyed, burned."

"And I owe my safety to you!"

He had said it with his whole soul, an infinity of gratitude filled
his heart, a joy and pride in that she had cared for his safety.

But at his words she had grown paler than she was before.  Her eyes,
large, dilated, and dark, were fixed upon him with an intensity of
gaze which almost startled him. He thought that she was about to
faint, that the emotions of the past half hour had been too much for
her overstrung nerves. He took her hand, and gently dragged her into
the living-room.

She sank into a chair, as if utterly weary and exhausted, and he,
forgetting his danger, forgetting the world and all else besides,
knelt at her feet, and held her hands in his.

She sat bolt upright, her great eyes still fixed upon him.  At first
it seemed as if she could not be satiated with looking at her; he felt
as if he had never, never really seen her. She had been a dream of
beauty to him ever since that awful afternoon when he had held her,
half fainting, in his arms, and had dragged her under the shelter of
his roof.

From that hour he had worshipped her: she had cast over him the magic
spell of her refinement, her beauty, that aroma of youth and innocence
which makes such a strong appeal to the man of sentiment.

He had worshipped her and not tried to understand.  He would have
deemed it almost sacrilege to pry into the mysteries of her inner
self, of that second nature in her which at times mad her silent, and
almost morose, and cast a lurid gloom over her young beauty.

And though his love for her had grown in intensity, it had remained as
heaven born as he deemed her to be--the love of a mortal for a saint,
the ecstatic adoration of a St Francis for his Madonna.

Sir Percy Blakeney had called Déroulède an idealist.  He was that, in
the strictest sense, and Juliette had embodied all that was best in
his idealism.

It was for the first time to-day, that he had held her hand just for a
moment longer than mere conventionality allowed. The first kiss on her
finger-tips had sent the blood rushing wildly to his heart; but he
still worshipped her, and gazed upon her as upon a divinity.

She sat bolt upright in the chair, abandoning her small, cold hands to
his burning grasp.

His very senses ached with the longing to clasp her in his arms, to
draw her to him, and to feel her pulses beat closer against his. It
was almost torture now to gaze upon her beauty--that small, oval
face, almost like a child's, the large eyes which at times had seemed
to be blue but which now appeared to be a deep, unfathomable colour,
like the tempestuous sea.

"Juliette!" he murmured at last, as his soul went out to her in a
passionate appeal for the first kiss.

A shudder seemed to go through her entire frame, her very lips turned
white and cold, and he, not understanding, timorous, chivalrous and
humble, thought that she was repelled by his ardour and frightened by
a passion to which she was too pure to respond.

Nothing but that one word had been spoken--just her name, an appeal
from a strong man, overmastered at last by his boundless love--and
she, poor, stricken soul, who had so much loved, so deeply wronged
him, shuddered at the thought af what she might have done, had Fate
not helped her to save him.

Half ashamed of his passion, he bowed his dark head over her hands,
and, once more forcing himself to be calm now, he kissed her
finger-tips reverently.

When he looked up again the hard lines in her face had softened, and
two tears were slowly trickling down her pale cheeks.

"Will you forgive me, madonna?" he said gently.  "I am only a man and
you are very beautiful. No--don't take your little hands away. I am
quite calm now, and know how one should speak to angels."

Reason, justice, rectitude--everything was urging Juliette to close
her ears to the words of love, spoken by the man whom she had
betrayed. But who shall blame her for listening to the sweetest sound
the ears of a woman can ever hear--the sound of the voice of the
loved one in his first declaration of love?

She sat and listened, whilst he whispered to her those soft, endearing
words, of which a strong man alone possesses the enchanting secret.

She sat and listened, whilst all around her was still.  Madame
Déroulède, at the farther end of the room, was softly muttering a few
prayers.

They were all alone these two in the mad and beautiful world, which
man has created for himself--the world of romance--that world more
wonderful than any heaven, where only those may enter who have learned
the sweet lesson of love. Déroulède roamed in it at will. He had
created his own romance, wherein he was as a humble worshipper,
spending his life in the service of his madonna.

And she too forgot the earth, forgot the reality, her oath, her crime
and its punishment, and began to think that it was good to live, good
to love, and good to have at her feet the one man in all the world
whom she could fondly worship.

Who shall tell what he whispered?  Enough that she listened and that
she smiled; and he, seeing her smile, felt happy.





CHAPTER XV


Detected.


The opening and shutting of the door roused them both from their
dreams.

Anne Mie, pale, trembling, with eyes looking wild and terrified, had
glided into the room.

Déroulède  had sprung to his feet.  In a moment he had thrust his own
happiness into the background at sight of the poor child's obvious
suffering. He went quickly towards her, and would have spoken to her,
but she run past him up to Madame Déroulède, as if she were beside
herself with some unexplainable terror.

"Anne Mie," he said firmly, "what is it?  Have those devils dared..."

In a moment reality had come rushing back upon him with full force,
and bitter reproaches surged up in his heart against himself, for
having in this moment of selfish joy forgotten those who looked up to
him for help and protection.

He knew the temper of the brutes who had been set upon his track, knew
that low-minded Merlin and his noisome ways, and blamed himself
severely for having left Anne Mie and Pétronelle alone with him even
for a few moments.

But Anne Mie quickly reassured him.

"They have not molested us much," she said, speaking with a visible
effort and enforced calmness. "Pétronelle and I were together, and
they made us open all the cupboards and uncover all the dishes. They
then asked us many questions."

"Questions?  Of what kind?" asked Déroulède.

"About you, Paul," replied Anne Mie, "and about maman, and also about
--about the citizeness, your guest."

Déroulède  looked at her closely, vaguely wondering at the strange
attitude of the child. She was evidently labouring under some strong
excitement, and in her thin, brown little hand she was clutching a
piece of paper.

"Anne Mie!  Child," he said very gently, "you seem quite upset--as if
something terrible had happened. What is that paper you are holding,
my dear?"

Anne Mie gazed down upon it.  She was obviously making frantic efforts
to maintain her self-possession.

Juliette at first sight of Anne Mie seemed literally to have been
turned to stone. She sat upright, rigid as a statue, her eyes fixed
upon the poor, crippled girl as if upon an inexorable judge, about to
pronounce sentence upon her of life or death.

Instinct, that keen sense of coming danger which Nature sometimes
gives to her elect, had told her that, within the next few seconds,
her doom would be sealed; that Fate would descend upon her, holding
the sword of Nemesis; and it was Anne Mie's tiny, half-shrivelled hand
which had placed that sword into the grasp of Fate.

"What is that paper?  Will you let me see it, Anne Mie?" repeated
Déroulède.

"Citizen Merlin gave it to me just now," began Anne Mie more quietly;
"he seems very wroth at finding nothing compromising against you,
Paul. They were a long time in the kitchen, and now they have gone to
search my room and Pétronelle's; but Merlin--oh! that awful man!--he
seemed like a beast infuriated with his disappointment."

"Yes, yes."

"I don't know what he hoped to get out of me, for I told him that you
never spoke to your mother or to me about your political business, and
that I was not in the habit of listening at the keyholes."

"Yes.  And..."

"Then he began to speak of--of our guest--but, of course, there
again I could tell him nothing. He seemed to be puzzled as to who had
denounced you. He spoke about an anonymous denunciation, which reached
the Public Prosecutor early this morning. It was written on a scrap of
paper, and thrown into the public box, it seems, and..."

"It is indeed very strange," said Déroulède, musing over this
extraordinary occurrence, and still more over Anne Mie's strange
excitement in the telling of it. "I never knew I had a hidden enemy. I
wonder if I shall ever find out..."

"That is just what I said to Citizen Merlin," rejoined Anne Mie.

"What?"

"That I wondered if you, or--or any of us who love you, will ever
find out who your hidden enemy might be."

"It was a mistake to talk so fully with such a brute, little one."

"I didn't say much, and I thought it wisest to humour him, as he
seemed to wish to talk on that subject."

"Well?  And what did he say?"

"He laughed, and asked me if I would very much like to know."

"I hope you said No, Anne Mie?"

"Indeed, indeed, I said Yes," she retorted with sudden energy, her
eyes fixed now upon Juliette, who still sat rigid and silent, watching
every movement of Anne Mie from the moment in which she began to tell
her story.

"Would I not wish to know who is your enemy, Paul--the creature who
was base and treacherous enough to attempt to deliver you into the
hands of those merciless villains? What wrong had you done to anyone?"

"Sh!  Hush, Anne Mie! you are too excited," he said, smiling now, in
spite of himself, at the young girl's vehemence over what he thought
was but a trifle--the discovery of his own enemy.

"I am sorry, Paul.  How can I help being excited," rejoined Anne Mie
with quaint, pathetic gentleness, "when I speak of such base
treachery, as that which Merlin has suggested?"

"Well?  And what did he suggest?"

"He did more than suggest," whispered Anne Mie almost inaudibly; "he
gave me this paper--the anonymous denunciation which reached the
Public Prosecutor this morning--he thought one of us might recognise
the handwriting."

Then she paused, some five steps away from Déroulède, holding out
towards him the crumpled paper, which up to now she had clutched
determinedly in her hand. Déroulède was about to take it from her, and
just before he had turned to do so, his eyes lighted on Juliette.

She said nothing, she had merely risen instinctively, and had reached
Anne Mie's side in less than the fraction of a second.

It was all a flash, and there was dead silence in the room, but in
that one-hundredth part of a second, Déroulède had read guilt in the
face of Juliette.

It was nothing but instinct, a sudden, awful, unexplainable
revelation. Her soul seemed suddenly to stand before him in all its
misery and in all its sin.

It was if the fire from heaven had descended in one terrific crash,
burying beneath its devastating flames his ideals, his happiness, and
his divinity. She was no longer there. His madonna had ceased to be.

There stood before him a beautiful woman, on whom he had lavished all
the pent-up treasures of his love, whom he had succoured, sheltered,
and protected, and who had repaid him thus.

She had forced an entry into his house; she had spied upon him, dogged
him, lied to him. The moment was too sudden, too awful for him to make
even a wild guess at her motives. His entire life, his whole past, the
present, and the future, were all blotted out in this awful dispersal
of his most cherished dream. He had forgotten everything else save her
appalling treachery; how could he even remember that once, long ago,
in fair fight, he had killed her brother?

She did not even try now to hide her guilt.

A look of appeal, touching in its trustfulness, went out to him,
begging him to spare her further shame. Perhaps she felt that love,
such as his, could not be killed in a flash.

His entire nature was full of pity, and to that pity she made a final
appeal, lest she should be humiliated before Madame Déroulède and Anne
Mie.

And he, still under the spell of those magic moments when he had knelt
at her feet, understood her prayer, and closing his eyes just for one
brief moment in order to shut out for ever that radiant vision of a
pure angel whom he had worshipped, turned quietly to Anne Mie.

"Give me that paper, Anne Mie," he said coldly.  "I may perhaps
recognise the handwriting of my most bitter enemy."

"'Tis unnecessary now," replied Anne Mie slowly, still gazing at the
face of Juliette, in which she too had read what she wished to read.

The paper dropped out of her hand.

Déroulède stooped to pick it up.  He unfolded it, smoothed it out, and
then saw that it was blank.

"There is nothing written on this paper," he said mechanically.

"No," rejoined Anne Mie; "no other words save the story of her
treachery."

"What you have done is evil and wicked, Anne Mie."

"Perhaps so; but I had guessed the truth, and I wished to know.  God
showed me this way, how to do it, and how to let you know as well."

"The less you speak of God just now, Anne Mie, the better, I think.
Will you attend to maman? she seems faint and ill."

Madame Déroulède, silent and placid in her arm-chair, had watched the
tragic scene before her, almost like a disinterested spectator. All
her ideas and all her thoughts had been paralysed, since the moment
when the first summons at the front door had warned her of the
imminence of the peril to her son.

The final discovery of Juliette's treachery had left her impassive.
Since her son was in danger, she cared little as to whence that danger
had come.

Obedient to Déroulède's wish, Anne Mie was attending to the old lady's
comforts. The poor, crippled girl was already feeling the terrible
reaction of her deed.

In her childish mind she had planned this way, in which to bring the
traitor to shame. Anne Mie knew nothing, cared nothing, about the
motives which had actuated Juliette; all she knew was that a terrible
Judas-like deed had been perpetrated against the man, on whom she
herself had lavished her pathetic, hopeless love.

All the pent-up jealousy which had tortured her for the past three
weeks rose up, and goaded her into unmasking her rival.

Never for a moment did she doubt Juliette's guilt.  The god of love
may be blind, tradidion has so decreed it, but the demon of jealousy
has a hundred eyes, more keen than those of the lynx.

Anne Mie, pushed aside by Merlin's men when they forced their way into
Déroulède's study, had, nevertheless, followed them to the door. When
the curtains were drawn aside and the room filled with light, she had
seen Juliette enthroned, apparently calm and placid, upon the sofa.

It was instinct, the instinct born of her own rejected passion, which
caused her to read in the beautiful girl's face all that lay hidden
behind the pale, impassive mask. That same second sight made her
understand Merlin's hints and allusions. She caught every inflection
of his voice, heard everything, saw everything.

And in the midst of her anxiety and her terrors for the man she loved,
there was the wild, primitive, intensely human joy at the thought of
bringing that enthroned idol, who had stolen his love, down to earth
at last.

Anne Mie was not clever; she was simple and childish, with no
complexity of passions or devious ways of intellect. It was her
elemental jealousy which suggested the cunning plan for the unmasking
of Juliette. She would make the girl cringe and fear, threaten her
with discovery, and through her very terror shame her before Paul
Déroulède.

And now it was all done; it had all occurred as she had planned it.
Paul knew that his love had been wasted upon a liar and a traitor, and
Juliette stood pale, humiliated, a veritable wreck of shamed humanity.

Anne Mie had triumphed, and was profoundly,  abjectly wretched in her
triumph. Great sobs seemed to tear at her very heart-strings. She had
pulled down Paul's idol from her pedestal, but the one look she had
cast at his face had shown her that she had also wrecked his life.

He seemed almost old now.  The earnest, restless gaze had gone from
his eyes; he was staring mutely before him, twisting between nerveless
fingers that blank scrap of paper, which had been the means of
annihilating his dream.

All energy of attitude, all strength of bearing, which were his chief
characteristics, seemed to have gone. There was a look of complete
blankness, of hopelessness in his listless gesture.

"How he loved her!" sighed Anne Mie, as she tenderly wrapped the shawl
round Madame Déroulède's shoulders.

Juliette had said nothing; it seemed as if her very life had gone out
of her. She was a mere statue now, her mind numb, her heart dead, her
very existence a fragile piece of mechanism. But she was looking at
Déroulède. That one sense in her had remained alive: her sight.

She looked and looked: and saw every passing sign of mental agony on
his face: the look of recognition of her guilt, the bewilderment at
the appalling crash, and now that hideous deathlike emptiness of his
soul and mind.

Never once did she detect horror or loathing.  He had tried to save
her from being further humiliated before his mother, but there was no
hatred or contempt in his eyes, when he realised that she had been
unmasked by a trick.

She looked and looked, for there was no hope in her, not even despair.
There was nothing in her mind, nothing in her soul, but a great
pall-like blank.

Then gradually, as the minutes sped on, she saw the strong soul within
him make a sudden fight against the darkness of his despair: the
movement of the fingers became less listless; the powerful, energetic
figure straightened itself out; remembrance of other matters, other
interests than his own began to lift the overwhelming burden of his
grief.

He remembered the letter-case containing the compromising papers.  A
vague wonder arose in him as to Juliette's motives in warding off,
through her concealment of it, the inevitable moment of its discovery
by Merlin.

The thought that her entire being had undergone a change, and that she
now wished to save him, never once entered his mind; if it had, he
would have dismissed it as the outcome of maudlin sentimentality, the
conceit of the fop, who believes his personality to be irresistible.

His own self-torturing humility pointed but to the one conclusion:
that she had fooled him all along; fooled him when she sought his
protection; fooled him when she taught him to love her; fooled him,
above all, at the moment when, subjugated by the intensity of his
passion, he had for one brief second ceased to worship in order to
love.

When the bitter remembrance of that moment of sweetest folly rushed
back to his aching brain, then at last did he look up at her with one
final, agonised look of reproach, so great, so tender, and yet so
final, that Anne Mie, who saw it, felt as if her own heart would break
with the pity of it all.

But Juliette had caught the look too.  The tension of her nerves
seemed suddenly to relax. Memory rushed back upon her with tumultuous
intensity. Very gradually her knees gave beneath her, and at last she
knelt down on the floor before him, her golden head bent under the
burden of her guilt and her shame.





CHAPTER XVI

Under arrest.


Déroulède did not attempt to go to her.

Only presently, when the heavy footsteps of Merlin and his men were
once more heard upon the landing, she quietly rose to her feet.

She had accomplished her act of humiliation and repentance, there
before them all. She looked for the last time upon those whom she had
so deeply wronged, and in her heart spoke an eternal farewell to that
great, and mighty, and holy love which she had called forth and then
had so hopelessly crushed.

Now she was ready for the atonement.

Merlin had already swaggered into the room.  The long and arduous
search throughout the house had not improved either his temper or his
personal appearance. He was more covered with grime than he had been
before, and his narrow forehead had almost disappeared beneath the
tangled mass of his ill-kempt hair, which he had perpetually tugged
forward and roughed up in his angry impatience.

One look at his face had already told Juliette what she wished to
know. He had searched her room, and found the fragments of burnt
paper, which she had purposely left in the ash-pan.

How he would act now was the one thing of importance left for Juliette
to ponder over. That she would not escape arrest and condemnation was
at once made clear to her. Merlin's look of sneering contempt, when he
glanced towards her, had told her that.

Déroulède himself had been conscious of a feeling of intense relief
when the men re-entered the room. The tension had become unendurable.
When he saw his dethroned madonna kneel in humiliation at his feet, an
overwhelming pain had wrenched his very heart-strings.

And yet he could not go to her.  The passionate, human nature within
him felt a certain proud exultation at seeing her there.

She was not above him now, she was no longer akin to the angels.

He had given no further thought to his own immediate danger.  Vaguely
he guessed that Merlin would find the leather case. Where it was he
could not tell; perhaps Juliette herself had handed it to the
soldiers. She had only hidden it for a few moments, out of impulse
perhaps, fearing lest, at the first instant of its discovery, Merlin
might betray her.

He remembered now those hints and insinuations which had gone out from
the Terrorist to Juliette whilst the search was being conducted in the
study. At the time he had merely looked upon these as a base attempt
at insult, and had tortured himself almost beyond bearing, in the
endeavour to refrain from punishing that evilmouthed creature, who
dared to bandy words with his madonna.

But now he understood, and felt his very soul writhing with shame at
the remembrance of it all.

Oh yes; the return of Merlin and his men, the presence of these grimy,
degraded brutes, was welcome now. He would have wished to crowd in the
entire world, the universe and its population, between him and his
fallen idol.

Merlin's manner towards him had lost nothing of its ironical
benevolence. There was even a touch of obsequiousness apparent in the
ugly face, as the representative of the people approached the popular
Citizen-Deputy.

"Citizen-Deputy," began Merlin, "I have to bring you the welcome news,
that we have found nothing in your house that in any way can cast
suspicion upon your loyalty to the Republic. My orders, however, were
to bring you before the Committee of Public Safety, whether I had
found proofs of your guilt or not. I have found none."

He was watching Déroulède keenly, hoping even at this eleventh hour to
detect a look or a sign, which would furnish him with the proofs for
which he was seeking. The slightest suggestion of relief on
Déroulède's part, a sigh of satisfaction, would have been sufficient
at this moment, to convince him and the Committee of Public Safety
that the Citizen-Deputy was guilty after all.

But Déroulède never moved.  He was sufficiently master of himself not
to express either surprise or satisfaction. Yet he felt both--
satisfaction not for his own safety, but because of his mother and
Anne Mie, whom he would immediately send out of the country, out of
all danger; and also because of her, of Juliette Marny, his guest,
who, whatever she may have done against him, had still a claim on his
protection. His feeling of surprise was less keen, and quite
transient. Merlin had not found the letter-case. Juliette, stricken
with tardy remorse perhaps, had succeeded in concealing it. The matter
had practically ceased to interest him. It was equally galling to owe
his betrayal or his ultimate safety to her.

He kissed his mother tenderly, bidding her good-bye, and pressed Anne
Mie's timid little hand warmly between his own. He did what he could
to reassure them, but, for their own sakes, he dared say nothing
before Merlin, as to his plans for their safety.

After that he was ready to follow the soldiers.

As he passed close to Juliette he bowed, and almost inaudibly
whispered:

"Adieu!"

She heard the whisper, but did not respond.  Her look alone gave him
the reply to his eternal farewell.

His footsteps and those of his escort were heard echoing down the
staircase, then the hall door to open and shut. Through the open
window came the sound of hoarse cheering as the popular Citizen-Deputy
appeared in the street.

Merlin, with two men beside him, remained under the portico; he told
off the other two to escort Déroulède as far as the Hall of Justice,
where sat the members of the Committee of Public Safety. The Terrorist
had a vague fear that the Citizen-Deputy would speak to the mob.

An unruly crowd of women had evidently been awaiting his appearance.
The news had quickly spread along the streets that Merlin, Merlin
himself, the ardent, bloodthirsty Jacobin, had made a descent upon
Paul Déroulède's house, escorted by four soldiers. Such an indignity,
put upon the man they most trusted in the entire assembly of the
Convention, had greatly incensed the crowd. The women jeered at the
soldiers as soon as they appeared, and Merlin dared not actually
forbid Déroulède to speak.

_"A la lanterne, vieux crétin!"_ shouted one of the women, thrusting
her fist under Merlin's nose.

"Give the word, Citizen-Deputy," rejoined another, "and we'll break
his ugly face. _Nous lui casserons la gueule!_"

"_A la lanterne!  A la lanterne!"_

One word from Déroulède now would have caused an open riot, and in
those days self defence against the mob was construed into enmity
against the people.

Merlin's work, too, was not yet accomplished.  He had had no intention
of escorting Déroulède himself; he had still important business to
transact inside the house which he had just quitted, and had merely
wished to get the Citizen-Deputy well out of the way, before he went
upstairs again.

Moreover, he had expected something of a riot in the streets.  The
temper of the people of Paris was at fever heat just now. The hatred
of the populace against a certain class, and against certain
individuals, was only equalled by their enthusiasm in favour of
others.

They had worshipped Marat for his squalor and his vices; they
worshipped Danton for his energy and Robespierre for his calm; they
worshipped Déroulède for his voice, his gentleness and his pity, for
his care of their children and the eloquence of his speech.

It was that eloquence which Merlin feared now; but he little knew the
type of man he had to deal with.

Déroulède's influence over the most unruly, the most vicious populace
the history of the world has ever known, was not obtained through
fanning its passions. That popularity, though brilliant, is always
ephemeral. The passions of a mob will invariably turn against those
who have helped to rouse them. Marat did not live to see the waning of
his star; Danton was dragged to the guillotine by those whom he had
taught to look upon that instrument of death as the only possible and
unanswerable political argument; Robespierre succumbed to the orgies
of bloodshed he himself had brought about. But Déroulède remained
master of the people of Paris for as long as he chose to exert that
mastery. When they listened to him they felt better, nobler, less
hopelessly degraded.

He kept up in their poor, misguided hearts that last flickering sense
of manhood which their bloodthirsty tyrants, under the guise of
Fraternity and Equality, were doing their best to smother.

Even now, when he might have turned the temper of the small crowd
outside his door to his own advantage, he preferred to say nothing; he
even pacified them with a gesture.

He well knew that those whom he incited against Merlin now would, once
their blood was up, probably turn against him in less than
half-an-hour.

Merlin, who all along had meant to return to the house, took his
opportunity now. He allowed Déroulède and the two men to go on ahead,
and beat a hasty retreat back into the house, followed by the jeers of
the women.

_"A la lanterne, vieux crétin!"_ they shouted as soon as the hall door
was once more closed in their faces. A few of them began hammering
against the door with their fists; then they realised that their
special favourite, Citizen-Deputy Déroulède, was marching along
between two soldiers, as if he were a prisoner. The word went round
that he was under arrest, and was being taken to the Hall of Justice--
a prisoner.

This was not to be.  The mob of Paris had been taught that it was the
master in the city, and it had learned its lesson well. For the moment
it had chosen to take Paul Déroulède under its special protection, and
as a guard of honour to him--the women in ragged kirtles, the men
with bare legs and stripped to the waist, the children all yelling,
hooting, and shrieking--followed him, to see that none dared harm
him.





CHAPTER XVII

Atonement.


Merlin waited a while in the hall, until he heard the noise of the
shrieking crowd gradually die away in the distance, then with a grunt
of satisfaction he one more mounted the stairs.

All these events outside had occurred during a very few minutes, and
Madame Déroulède and Anne Mie had been too anxious as to what was
happening in the streets, to take any notice of Juliette.

They had not dared to step out on to the balcony to see what was going
on, and, therefore, did not understand what the reopening and shutting
of the front door had meant.

The next instant, however, Merlin's heavy, slouching footsteps on the
stairs had caused Anne Mie to look round in alarm.

"It is only the soldiers come back for me," said Juliette quietly.

"For you?"

"Yes; they are coming to take me away.  I suppose they did not wish to
do it in the presence of Mr. Déroulède, for fear..."

She had no time to say more.  Anne Mie was still looking at her in
awed and mute surprise, when Merlin entered the room.

In his hand he held a leather case, all torn, and split at one end,
and a few tiny scraps of half-charred paper. He walked straight up to
Juliette, and roughly thrust the case and papers into her face.

"These are yours?" he said roughly.

"Yes."

"I suppose you know where they were found?"

She nodded quietly in reply.

"What were these papers which you burnt?"

"Love letters."

"You lie!"

She shrugged her shoulders.

"As you please," she said curtly.

"What were these papers?" he repeated, with a loud obscene oath which,
however, had not the power to disturb the young girl's serenity.

"I have told you," she said: "love letters, which I wished to burn."

"Who was your lover?" he asked.

Then as she did not reply he indicated the street, where cries of
"Déroulède! Vive Déroulède!" still echoed from afar.

"Were the letters from him?"

"No."

"You had more than one lover, then?"

He laughed, and a hideous leer seemed further to distort his ugly
countenance.

He thrust his face quite close to hers, and she closed her eyes, sick
with the horror of this contact with the degraded wretch. Even Anne
Mie had uttered a cry of sympathy at sight of this evil-smelling,
squalid creature torturing, with his close proximity, the beautiful,
refined girl before him.

With a rough gesture he put his clawlike hand under her delicate chin,
forcing her to turn round and to look at him. She shuddered at the
loathsome touch, but her quietude never forsook her for a moment.

It was into the power of wretches such as this man, that she had
wilfully delivered the man she loved. This brutish creature's
familiarity put the finishing touch to her own degradation, but it
gave her the courage to carry through her purpose to the end.

"You had more than one lover, then?" said Merlin, with a laugh which
would have pleased the devil himself. "And you wished to send one of
them to the guillotine in order to make way for the other? Was that
it?"

"Was that it?" he repeated, suddenly seizing one of her wrists, and
giving it as savage twist, so that she almost screamed with the pain.

"Yes," she replied firmly.

"Do you know that you brought me here on a fool's errand?" he asked
viciously; "that the Citizen-Deputy Déroulède cannot be sent to the
guillotine on mere suspicion, eh? Did you know that, when you wrote
out that denunciation?"

"No; I did not know."

"You thought we could arrest him on mere suspicion?"

"Yes."

"You knew he was Innocent?"

"I knew it."

"Why did you burn your love letters?"

"I was afraid that they would be found, and would be brought under the
notice of the Citizen-Deputy."

"A splendid combination, _ma foi!_" said Merlin, with an oath, as he
turned to the two other women, who sat pale and shrinking in a corner
of the room, not understanding what was going on, not knowing what to
think or what to believe. They had known nothing of Déroulède's plans
for the escape of Marie Antoinette, they didn't know what the
letter-case had contained, and yet they both vaguely felt that the
beautiful girl, who stood up so calmly before the loathsome Terrorist,
was not a wanton, as she tried to make out, but only misguided, mad
perhaps--perhaps a martyr.

"Did you know anything of this?" queried Merlin roughly from trembling
Anne Mie.

"Nothing," she replied.

"No one knew anything of my private affairs or of my private
correspondence," said Juliette coldly; "as you say, it was a splendid
combination. I had hoped that it would succeed. But I understand now
that Citizen-Deputy Déroulède is a personage of too much importance to
be brought to trial on mere suspicion, and my denunciation of him was
not based on facts."

"And do you know, my fine aristocrat," sneered Merlin viciously, "that
it is not wise either to fool the Committee of Public Safety, or to
denounce without cause one of the representatives of the people?"

"I know," she rejoined quietly, "that you, Citizen Merlin, are
determined that someone shall pay for this day's blunder. You dare not
now attack the Citizen-Deputy, and so you must be content with me."

"Enough of this talk now; I have no time to bandy words with aristos,"
he said roughly.

"Come now, follow the men quietly.  Resistance would only aggravate
your case."

"I am quite prepared to follow you.  May I speak two words to my
friends before I go?"

"No."

"I may never be able to speak to them again."

"I have said No, and I mean No.  Now then, forward.  March!  I have
wasted too much time already."

Juliette was too proud to insist any further.  She had hoped, by one
word, to soften Madame Déroulède's and Anne Mie's heart towards her.
She did not know whether they believed that miserable lie which she
had been telling to Merlin; she only guessed that for the moment they
still thought her the betrayer of Paul Déroulède.

But that one word was not to be spoken.  She would have to go forth to
her certain trial, to her probable death, under the awful cloud, which
she herself had brought over her own life.

She turned quietly, and walked towards the door, where the two men
already stood at attention.

Then it was that some heaven-born instinct seemed suddenly to guide
Anne Mie. The crippled girl was face to face with a psychological
problem, which in itself was far beyond her comprehension, but vaguely
she felt that it was a problem. Something in Juliette's face had
already caused her to bitterly repent her action towards her, and now,
as this beautiful, refined woman was about to pass from under the
shelter of this roof, to the cruel publicity and terrible torture of
that awful revolutionary tribunal, Anne Mie's whole heart went out to
her in boundless sympathy.

Before Merlin or the men could prevent her, she had run up to
Juliette, taken her hand, which hung listless and cold, and kissed it
tenderly.

Juliette seemed to wake as if from a dream.  She looked down at Anne
Mie with a glance of hope, almost of joy, and whispered:

"It was an oath--I swore it to my father and my dead brother.  Tell
him."

Anne Mie could only nod; she could not speak, for her tears were
choking her.

"But I'll atone--with my life. Tell him," whispered Juliette.

"Now then," shouted Merlin, "out of the way, hunchback, unless you
want to come along too."

"Forgive me," said Anne Mie through her tears.

Then the men pushed her roughly aside.  But at the door Juliette
turned to her once more, and said:

"Pétronelle--take care of her..."

And with a firm step she followed the soldiers out of the room.

Presently the front door was heard to open, then to shut with a loud
bang, and the house in the Rue Ecole de Médecine was left in silence.





CHAPTER XVIII

In the Luxembourg prison.


Juliette was alone at last--that is to say, comparatively alone, for
there were too many aristocrats, too many criminels and traitors, in
the prisons of Paris now, to allow of any seclusion of those who were
about to be tried, condemned, and guillotined.

The young girl had been marched through the crowded streets of Paris,
followed by a jeering mob, who readily recognised in the gentle,
high-bred girl the obvious prey, which the Committee of Public Safety
was wont, from time to time to throw to the hungry hydra-headed dog of
the Revolution.

Lately the squalid spectators of the noisome spectacle on the Place de
la Guillotine had had few of these very welcome sights: an aristocrat
--a real, elegant, refined woman, with white hands and proud, pale
face--mounting the steps of the same scaffold on which perished the
vilest criminals and most degraded brutes.

Madame Guillotine was, above all, catholic in her tastes, her gaunt
arms, painted blood red, were open alike to the murderer and the
thief, the aristocrats of ancient lineage, and the proletariat from
the gutter.

But lately the executions had been almost exclusively of a political
character. The Girondins were fighting their last upon the bloody
arena of the Revolution. One by one they fell still fighting, still
preaching moderation, still foretelling disaster and appealing to that
people, whom they had roused from one slavery, in order to throw it
headlong under a tyrannical yoke more brutish, more absolute than
before.

There were twelve prisons in Paris then, and forty thousand in France,
and they were all full. An entire army went round the country
recruiting prisoners. There was no room for separate cells, no room
for privacy, no cause or desire for the most elementary sense of
delicacy.

Women, men, children--all were herded together, for one day, perhaps
two, and a night or so, and then death would obliterate the petty
annoyances, the womanly blushes caused by this sordid propinquity.

Death levelled all, erased everything.

When Marie Antoinette mounted the guillotine she had forgotten that
for six weeks she practically lived day and night in the immediate
companionship of a set of degraded soldiery.

Juliette, as she marched through the streets between two men of the
National Guard, and followed by Merlin, was hooted and jeered at,
insulted, pelted with mud. One woman tried to push past the soldiers,
and to strike her in the face--a woman! not thirty!--and who was
dragging a pale, squalid little boy by the hand.

"_Crache donc sur l'aristo, voyons!_" the woman said to this poor,
miserable litte scrap of humanity as the soldiers pushed her roughly
aside. "Spit on the aristocrat!" And the child tortured its own small,
parched mouth so that, in obedience to its mother, it might defile and
bespatter a beautiful, innocent girl.

The soldiers laughed, and improved the occasion with another insulting
jest. Even Merlin forgot his vexation, delighted at the incident.

But Juliette had seen nothing of it all.

She was walking as in a dream.  The mob did not exist for her; she
heard neither insult nor vituperation. She did not see the evil, dirty
faces pushed now and then quite close to her; she did not feel the
rough hands of the soldiers jostling her through the crowd: she had
gone back to her own world of romance, where she dwelt alone now with
the man she loved. Instead of the squalid houses of Paris, with their
eternal device of Fraternity and Equality, there were beautiful trees
and shrubs of laurel and of roses around her, making the air fragrant
with their soft, intoxicating perfumes; sweet voices from the land of
dreams filled the atmosphere with their tender murmur, whilst overhead
a cloudless sky illumined this earthly paradise.

She was happy--supremely, completely happy.  She had saved him from
the consequences of her own iniquitous crime, and she was about to
give her life for him, so that his safety might be more completely
assured.

Her love for him he would never know; now he knew only her crime, but
presently, when she would be convicted and condemned, confronted with
a few scraps of burned paper and a torn letter-case, then he would
know that she had stood her trial, self-accused, and meant to die for
him.

Therfore the past few moments were now wholly hers.  She had the
rights to dwell on those few happy seconds when she listened to the
avowal of his love. It was ethereal, and perhaps not altogether human,
but it was hers. She had been his divinity, his madonna; he had loved
in her that, which was her truer, her better self.

What was base in her was not truly her.  That awful oath, sworn so
solemnly, had been her relentless tyrant; and her religion--a
religion of superstition and of false ideals--had blinded her, and
dragged her into crime.

She had arrogated to herself that which was God's alone--"Vengeance!"
which is not for man.

That through it all she should have known love, and learned its tender
secrets, was more than she deserved. That she should have felt his
burning kisses on her hand was heavenly compensation for all she would
have to suffer.

And so she allowed them to drag her through the sansculotte mob of
Paris, who would have torn her to pieces then and there, so as not to
delay the pleasure of seeing her die.

They took her to the Luxembourg, once the palace of the Medici, the
home of proud "Monsieur" in the days of the Great Monarch, now a
loathsome, overfilled prison.

It was then six o'clock in the afternoon, drawing towards the close of
this memorable day. She was handed over to the governor of the prison,
a short, thick-set man in black trousers and black-shag woollen shirt,
and wearing a dirty red cap, with tricolour rosette on the side of his
unkempt head.

He eyed her up and down as she passed under the narrow doorway, then
murmured one swift query to Merlin:

"Dangerous?"

"Yes," replied Merlin laconically.

"You understand," added the governor; "we are so crowded.  We ought to
know if individual attention is required."

"Certainly," said Merlin, "you will be personally responsible for this
prisoner to the Committee of Public Safety."

"Any visitors allowed?"

"Certainly not, without the special permission of the Public
Prosecutor."

Juliette heard this brief exchange of words over her future fate.

No visitor would be allowed to see her.  Well, perhaps that would be
best. She would have been afraid to meet Déroulède again, afraid to
read in his eyes that story of his dead love, which alone might have
destroyed her present happiness.

And she wished to see no one.  She had a memory to dwell on--a short,
heavenly memory. It consisted of a few words, a kiss--the last one--
on her hand, and that passionate murmur which had escaped from his
lips when he knelt at her feet:

"Juliette!"





CHAPTER XIX

Complexities.


Citizen-Deputy Déroulède had been privately interviewed by the
Committee of Public Safety, and temporarily allowed to go free.

The brief proceedings had been quite private, the people of Paris were
not to know as yet that their favourite was under a cloud. When he had
answered all the question put to him, and Merlin--just returned from
his errand at the Luxembourg Prison--had given his version of the
domiciliary visitation in the Citizen-Deputy's house, the latter was
briefly told that for the moment the Republic had no grievance against
him.

But he knew quite well what that meant.  He would be henceforth under
suspicion, watched incessantly, as a mouse is by the cat, and pounced
upon, the moment time would be considered propitious for his final
downfall.

The inevitable waning of his popularity would be noted by keen,
jealous eyes; and Déroulède, with his sure knowledge of mankind and of
character, knew well enough that his popularity was bound to wane
sooner or later, as all such ephemeral things do.

In the meanwhile, during the short respite which his enemies would
leave him, his one thought and duty would be to get his mother and
Anne Mie safely out of the country.

And also...

He thought of _her,_ and wondered what had happened.  As he walked
swiftly across the narrow footbridge, and reached the other side of
the river, the events of the past few hours rushed upon his memory
with terrible, overwhelming force.

A bitter ache filled his heart at the remembrance of her treachery.
The baseness of it all was so appalling. He tried to think if he had
ever wronged her; wondered if perhaps she loved someone else, and
wished _him_ out of her way.

But, then, he had been so humble, so unassuming in his love.  He had
arrogated nothing unto himself, asked for nothing, demanded nothing in
virtue of his protecting powers over her.

He was torturing himself with this awful wonderment of why she had
treated him thus.

Out of revenge for her brother's death--that was the only explanation
he could find, the only palliation for her crime.

He knew nothing of her oath to her father, and, of course, had never
heard of the sad history of this young, sensitive girl placed in one
terrible moment between her dead brother and her demented father. He
only thought of common, sordid revenge for a sin he had been
practically forced to commit.

And how he had loved her!
Yes, _loved_--for that was in the past now.

She had ceased to be a saint or a madonna; she had fallen from her
pedestal so low that he could not find the way to descend and grope
after the fragments of his ideal.

At his own door he was met by Anne Mie in tears.

"She has gone", murmured the young girl.  "I feel as if I had murdered
her."

"Gone?  Who?  Where?" queried Déroulède rapidly, an icy feeling of
terror gripping him by the heart-strings.

"Juliette has gone," replied Anne Mie; "those awful brutes took her
away."

"When?"

"Directly after you left.  That man Merlin found some ashes and scraps
of paper in her room..."

"Ashes?"

"Yes; and a torn letter-case."

"Great God!"

"She said that they were love letters, which she had been burning for
fear you should see them."

"She said so?  Anne Mie, Anne Mie, are you quite sure?"

It was all so horrible, and he did not quite understand it all; his
brain, which was usually so keen and so active, refused him service at
this terrible juncture.

"Yes; I am quite sure," continued Anne Mie, in the midst of her tears.
"And oh! that awful Merlin said some dastardly things. But she
persisted in her story, that she had--another lover. Oh, Paul, I am
sure it is not true. I hated her because--because--you loved her so,
and I mistrusted her, but I cannot believe that she was quite as base
as that."

"No, no, child," he said in a toneless, miserable voice; "she was not
so base as that. Tell me more of what she said."

"She said very little else.  But Merlin asked her whether she had
denounced you so as to get you out of the way. He hinted that--
that..."

"That I was her lover too?"

"Yes," murmured Anne Mie.

She hardly liked to look at him; the strong face had become hard and
set in its misery.

"And she allowed them to say all this?" he asked at last.

"Yes.  And she followed them without a murmur, as Merlin said she
would have to answer before the Committee of Public Safety, for having
fooled the representatives of the people."

"She'll answer for it with her life," murmured Déroulède.  "And with
mine!" he added half audibly.

Anne Mie did not hear him; her pathetic little soul was filled with a
great, an overwhelming pity of Juliette and for Paul.

"Before they took her away," she said, placing her thin,
delicate-looking hands on his arm. "I ran to her, and bade her
farewell. The soldiers pushed me roughly aside; but I contrived to
kiss her--and then she whispered a few words to me."

"Yes?  What were they?"

"'It was an oath,' she said.  'I swore it to my father and to my dead
brother. Tell him,'" repeated Anne Mie slowly.

An oath!

Now he understood, and oh! how he pitied her.  How terribly she must
have suffered in her poor, harassed soul when her noble, upright
nature fought against this hideous treachery.

That she was true and brave in herself, of that Déroulède had no
doubt. And now this awful sin upon her conscience, which must be
causing her endless misery.

And, alas! the atonement would never free her from the load of
self-condemnation. She had elected to pay with her life for her
treason against him and his family. She would be arraigned before a
tribunal which would inevitably condemn her. Oh! the pity of it all!

One moment's passionate emotion, a lifelong superstition and mistaken
sense of duty, and now this endless misery, this terrible atonement of
a wrong that could never be undone.

And she had never loved him!

That was the true, the only sting which he knew now; it rankled more
than her sin, more than her falsehood, more than the shattering of his
ideal.

With a passionate desire for his safety, she had sacrificed herself in
order to atone for the material evil which she had done.

But there was the wreck of his hopes and of his dreams!

Never until now, when he had irretrievably lost her, did Déroulède
realise how great had been his hopes; how he had watched day after day
for a look in her eyes, a word from her lips, to show him that she too
--his unattainable saint--would one day come to earth, and respond to
his love.

And now and then, when her beautiful face lighted up at sight of him,
when she smiled a greeting to him on his return from his work, when
she looked with pride and admiration on him from the public bench in
the assemblies of the Convention--then he had begun to hope, to
think, to dream.

And it was all a sham!  A mask to hide the terrible conflict that was
raging within her soul, nothing more.

She did not love him, of that he felt convinced.  Man like, he did not
understand to the full that great and wonderful enigma, which has
puzzled the world since primeval times: a woman's heart.

The eternal contradictions which go to make up the complex nature of
an emotional woman were quite incomprehensible to him. Juliette had
betrayed him to serve her own sense of what was just and right, her
revenge and her oath. Therefore she did not love him.

It was logic, sound common-sense, and, aided by his own diffidence
where women were concerned, it seemed to him irrefutable.

To a man like Paul Déroulède, a man of thought, of purpose, and of
action, the idea of being false to the thing loved, of hate and love
being interchangeable, was absolutely foreign and unbelievable. He had
never hated the thing he loved or loved the thing he hated. A man's
feelings in these respects are so much less complex, so much less
contradictory.

Would a man betray his friend?  No--never.  He might betray his
enemy, the creature he abhorred, whose downfall would cause him joy.
But his friend? The very idea was repugnant, impossible to an upright
nature.

Juliette's ultimate access of generosity in trying to save him, when
she was at last brought face to face with the terrible wrong she had
committed, _that_ he put down to one of those noble impulses of which
he knew her soul to be fully capable, and even then his own diffidence
suggested that she did it more for the sake of his mother or for Anne
Mie rather than for him.

Therefore what mattered life to him now?  She was lost to him for
ever, whether he succeeded in snatching her from the guillotine or
not. He had but little hope to save her, but he would not owe his life
to her.

Anne Mie, seeing him wrapped in his own thoughts, had quietly
withdrawn. Her own good sense told her already that Paul Déroulède's
first step would be to try and get his mother out of danger, and out
of the country, while there was yet time.

So, without waiting for instructions, she began that same evening to
pack up her belongings and those of Madame Déroulède.

There was no longer any hatred in her heart against Juliette.  Where
Paul Déroulède had failed to understand, there Anne Mie had already
made a guess. She firmly believed that nothing now could save Juliette
from death, and a great feeling of tenderness had crept into her
heart, for the woman whom she had looked upon as an enemy and a rival.

She too had learnt in those brief days the great lesson that revenge
belongs to God alone.





CHAPTER XX

The Cheval Borgne.


It was close upon midnight.

The place had become suffocatingly hot; the fumes of rank tobacco, of
rancid butter, and or raw spirits hung like a vapour in mid-air.

The principal room in the "Auberge du Cheval Borgne" had been used for
the past five years now as the chief meeting-place of the
ultra-sansculotte party of the Republic.

The house itself was squalid and dirty, up one of those mean streets
which, by their narrow way and shelving buildings, shut out sun, air,
and light from their miserable inhabitants.

The Cheval Borgne was one of the most wretched-looking dwellings in
this street of evil repute. The plaster was cracked, the walls
themselves seemed bulging outward, preparatory to a final collapse.
The ceilings were low, and supported by beams black with age and dirt.

At one time it had been celebrated for its vast cellarage, which had
contained some rare old wines. And in the days of the Grand Monarch
young bucks were wont to quit the gay salons of the ladies, in order
to repair to the Cheval Borgne for a night's carouse.

In those days the vast cellarage was witness of many a dark encounter,
of many a mysterious death; could the slimy walls have told their own
tale, it would have been one which would have put to shame the wildest
chronicles of M. Vidoq.

Now it was no longer so.

Things were done in broad daylight on the Place de la Révolution:
there was no need for dark, mysterious cellars, in which to accomplish
deeds of murder and of revenge.

Rats and vermin of all sorts worked their way now in the underground
portion of the building. They ate up each other, and held their orgies
in the cellars, whilst men did the same sort of thing in the rooms
above.

It was a club of Equality and Fraternity.  Any passer-by was at
liberty to enter and take part in the debates, his only qualification
for this temporary membership being an inordinate love for Madame la
Guillotine.

It was from the sordid rooms of the Cheval Borgne that most of the
denunciations had gone forth which led but to the one inevitable
ending--death.

They sat in conclave here, some twoscore or so at first, the rabid
patriots of this poor, downtrodden France. They talked of Liberty
mostly, with many oaths and curses against the tyrants, and then
started a tyranny, an autocracy, ten thousand times more awful than
any wielded by the dissolute Bourbons.

And this was the temple of Liberty, this dark, damp, evil-smelling
brothel, with is narrow, cracked window-panes, which let in but an
infinitesimal fraction of air, and that of the foulest, most
unwholesome kind.

The floor was of planks roughly put together; now they were
worm-eaten, bare, save for a thick carpet of greasy dust, which
deadened the sound of booted feet. The place only boasted of a couple
of chairs, both of which had to be propped against the wall lest they
should break, and bring the sitter down upon the floor; otherwise a
number of empty wine barrels did duty for seats, and rough deal boards
on broken trestles for tables.

There had once been a paper on the walls, now it hung down in strips,
showing the cracked plaster beneath. The whole place had a tone of
yellowish-grey grime all over it, save where, in the centre of the
room, on a rough double post, shaped like the guillotine, a scarlet
cap of Liberty gave a note of lurid colour to the dismal surroundings.

On the walls here and there the eternal device, so sublime in
conception, so sordid in execution, recalled the aims of the so-called
club: "Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité, sinon la Mort."

Below the device, in one or two corners of the room, the wall was
further adorned with rough charcoal sketches, mostly of an obscene
character, the work of one of the members of the club, who had chosen
this means of degrading his art.

To-night the assembly had been reduced to less than a score.

Even according to the dictates of these apostles of Fraternity: _"la
guillotine va toujours"_--the guillotine goes on always. She had
become the most potent factor in the machinery of government, of this
great Revolution, and she had been daily, almost hourly fed through
the activity of this nameless club, which held its weird and awesome
sittings in the dank coffee-room of the Cheval Borgne.

The number of the active members had been reduced.  Like the rats in
the cellars below, they had done away with one another, swallowed one
another up, torn each other to pieces in this wild rage for a Utopian
fraternity.

Marat, founder of the organisation, had been murdered by a girl's
hand; but Charon, Manuel, Osselin had gone the usual way, denounced by
their colleagues, Rabaut, Custine, Bison, who in their turn were sent
to the guillotine by those more powerful, perhaps more eloquent, than
themselves.

It was merely a case of who could shout the loudest at an assembly of
the National Convention.

_"La guillotine va toujours!"_

After the death of Marat, Merlin became the most prominent member of
the club--he and Foucquier-Tinville, his bosom friend, Public
Prosecutor, and the most bloodthirsty homicide of this homicidal age.

Bosom friend both, yet they worked against one another, undermining
each other's popularity, whispering persistently, one against the
other: "He is a traitor!" It had become just a neck-to-neck race
between them towards the inevitable goal--the guillotine.

Foucquier-Tinville is in the ascendant for the moment.  Merlin had
been given a task which he had failed to accomplish. For days now,
weeks even, the debates of this noble assembly had been chiefly
concerned with the downfall of Citizen-Deputy Déroulède. His
popularity, his calm security in the midst of this reign of terror and
anarchy, had been a terrible thorn in the flesh of these rabid
Jacobins.

And now the climax had been reached.  An anonymous denunciation
had roused the hopes of these sanguinary patriots. It all sounded
perfectly plausible. To try and save that traitor, Marie Antoinette,
the widow of Louis Capet, was just the sort of scheme that would
originate in the brain of Paul Déroulède.

He had always been at heart an aristocrat, and the feeling of chivalry
for a persecuted woman was only the outward signs of his secret
adherence to the hated class.

Merlin had been sent to search the Deputy's house for proofs of the
latter's guilt.

And Merlin had come back empty-handed.

The arrest of a female aristo--the probable mistress of Déroulède,
who obviously had denounced him--was but small compensation for the
failure of the more important capture.

As soon as Merlin joined his friends in the low, ill-lit,
evil-smelling room he realised at once that there was a feeling of
hostility against him.

Tinville, enthroned on one of the few chairs of which the Cheval
Borgne could boast, was surrounded by a group of surly adherents.

On the rough trestles a number of glasses, half filled with raw
potato-spirit, gave the keynote to the temper of the assembly.

All those present were dressed in the black-shag spencer, the seedy
black breeches, and down-at-heel boots, which had become recognised as
the distinctive uniform of the sansculotte party. The inevitable
Phrygian cap, with its tricolour cockade, appeared on the heads of all
those present, in various stages of dirt and decay.

Tinville had chosen to assume a sarcastic tone with regard to his
whilom bosom friend, Merlin. Leaning both elbows on the table, he was
picking his teeth with a steel fork, and in the intervals of his
interesting operation, gave forth his views on the broad principles of
patriotism.

Those who sat round him felt that his star was in the ascendant and
assumed the position of satellites. Merlin as he entered had grunted a
sullen "Good-eve," and sat himself down in a remote corner of the
room.

His greeting had been responded to with a few jeers and a good many
dark, threatening looks. Tinville himself had bowed to him with mock
sarcasm and an unpleasant leer.

One of the patriots, a huge fellow, almost a giant, with heavy, coarse
fists and broad shoulders that obviously suggested coal-heaving, had,
after a few satirical observations, dragged one of the empty wine
barrels to Merlin's table, and sat down opposite him.

"Take care, Citizen Lenoir," said Tinville, with an evil laugh,
"Citizen-Deputy Merlin will arrest you instead of Deputy Déroulède,
whom he has allowed to slip through his fingers."

"Nay; I've no fear," replied Lenoir, with an oath.  "Citizen Merlin is
too much of an aristo to hurt anyone; his hands are too clean; he does
not care to do the dirty work of the Republic. Isn't that so, Monsieur
Merlin?" added the giant, with a mock bow, and emphasising the
appellation which had fallen into complete disuse in these days of
equality.

"My patriotism is too well known," said Merlin roughly, "to fear any
attacks from jealous enemies; and as for my search in the
Citizen-Deputy's house this afternoon, I was told to find proofs
against him, and I found none."

Lenoir expectorated on the floor, crossed his dark hairy arms over the
table, and said quietly:

"Real patriotism, as the true Jacobin understands it, makes the proofs
it wants and leaves nothing to chance."

A chorus of hoarse murmurs of "Vive la Liberté!" greeted this harangue
of the burly coal-heaver.

Feeling that he had gained the ear and approval of the gallery, Lenoir
seemed, as it were, to spread himself out, to arrogate to himself the
leadership of this band of malcontents, who, disappointed in their
lust of Déroulède's downfall, were ready to exult over that of Merlin.

"You were a fool, Citizen Merlin," said Lenoir with slow significance,
"not to see that the woman was playing her own game."

Merlin had become livid under the grime on his face.  With this
ill-kempt sansculotte giant in front of him, he almost felt as if he
were already arraigned before that awful, merciless tribunal, to which
he had dragged so many innocent victims.

Already he felt, as he sat ensconced behind a table in the far corner
of the room, that he was a prisoner at the bar, answering for his
failure with his life.

His own laws, his own theories now stood in bloody array against him.
Was it not he who had framed the indictments against General Custine
for having failed to subdue the cities of the south? against General
Westerman and Brunet and Beauharnais for having failed and failed and
failed?

And now it was his turn.

Thes bloodthirsty jackals had been cheated of their prey; they would
tear him to pieces in compensation of their loss.

"How could I tell?" he murmured roughly, "the woman had denounced
him."

A chorus of angry derision greeted this feeble attempt at defence.

"By your own law, Citizen-Deputy Merlin," commented Tinville
sarcastically, "it is a crime against the Republic to be suspected of
treason. It is evident, however, that it is quite one thing to frame a
law and quite another to obey it."

"What could I have done?"

"Hark at the innocent!" rejoined Lenoir, with a sneer.  "What could he
have done? Patriots, friends, brothers, I ask you, what could he have
done?"

The giant had pushed the wine cask aside, it rolled away from under
him, and in the fulness of his contempt for Merlin and his impotence,
he stood up before them all, strong in his indictment against
treasonable incapacity.

"I ask you," he repeated, with a loud oath, "what any patriot would
do, what you or I would have done, in the house of a man whom we all
_know_ is a traitor to the Republic? Brothers, friends, Citizen-Deputy
Merlin found a heap of burn paper in a grate, he found a letter-case
which had obviously contained important documents, and he asks us what
he could do!"

"Déroulède is too important a man to be tried without proofs.  The
whole mob of Paris would have turned on us for having arraigned him,
for having dared lay hands upon his sacred person."

"Without proofs?  Who said there were no proofs?" queried Lenoir.

"I found the burnt papers and torn letter-case in the woman's room.
She owned that they were love letters, and that she had denounced
Déroulède in order to be rid of him."

"Then let me tell you, Citizen-Deputy Merlin, that a true patriot
would have found those papers in Déroulède's, and not the woman's
room; that in the hands of a faithful servant of the Republic those
documents would not all have been destroyed, for he would have 'found'
one letter addressed to the Widow Capet, which would have proved
conclusively that Citizen-Deputy Déroulède was a traitor. That is what
a true patriot would have done--what I would have done. _Pardi!_
since Déroulède is so important a personage, since we must all put on
kid gloves when we lay hands upon him, then let us fight him with
other weapons. Are we aristocrats that we should hesitate to play the
part of jackal to this cunning fox? Citizen-Deputy Merlin, are you the
son of some ci-devant duke or prince that you dared not _forge_ a
document which would bring a traitor to his doom? Nay; let me tell
you, friends, that the Republic has no use for curs, and calls him a
traitor who allows one of her enemies to remain inviolate through his
cowardice, his terror of that intangible and fleeting shadow--the
wrath of a Paris mob."

Thunderous applause greeted this peroration, which had been delivered
with an accompaniment of violent gesture and a wealth of obscene
epithets, quite beyond the power of the mere chronicler to render.
Lenoir had a harsh, strident voice, very high pitched, and he spoke
with a broad, provincial accent, somewhat difficult to locate, but
quite unlike the hoarse, guttural tones of the low-class Parisian. His
enthusiasm made him seem impressive. He looked, in his ragged,
dust-stained clothes, the very personification of the squalid herd
which had driven culture, art, refinement to the scaffold in order to
make way for sordid vice, and satisfied lusts of hate.





CHAPTER XXI

A Jacobin orator.


Tinville alone had remained silent during Lenoir's  impassioned
speech. It seemed to be his turn now to become surly. He sat picking
his teeth, and staring moodily at the enthusiastic orator, who had so
obviously diverted popular feeling in his own direction. And Tinville
brooked popularity only for himself.

"It is easy to talk now, Citizen--er--Lenoir.  Is that your name?
Well, you are a comparative stranger here, Citizen Lenoir, and have
not yet proved to the Republic that you can do ought else but talk."

"If somebody did not talk, Citizen Tinville--is that your name?"
rejoined Lenoir, with a sneer--"if somebody didn't talk, nothing
would get done. You all sit here, and condemn the Citizen-Deputy
Merlin for being a fool, and I must say I am with you there, but..."

"_Pardi!_ tell us your 'but' citizen," said Tinville, for the
coal-heaver had paused, as if trying to collect his thoughts. He had
dragged a wine barrel to collect his thoughts. He had dragged a wine
barrel close to the trestle table, and now sat astride upon it, facing
Tinville and the group of Jacobins. The flickering tallow candle
behind him threw into bold silhouette his square, massive head,
crowned with its Phrygian cap, and the great breadth of his shoulders,
with the shabby knitted spencer and low, turned-down collar.

He had long, thin hands, which were covered with successive coats of
coal dust, and with these he constantly made weird gestures, as if in
the act of gripping some live thing by the throat.

"We all know that the Deputy Déroulède is a traitor, eh?" he said,
addressing the company in general.

"We do," came with uniform assent from all those present.

"Then let us put it to the vote.  The Ayes mean death, the Noes
freedom."

"Ay, ay!" came from every hoarse, parched throat; and twelve gaunt
hand were lifted up demanding death for Citizen-Deputy Déroulède.

"The Ayes have it," said Lenoir quietly, "Now all we need do is to
decide how best to carry out our purpose."

Merlin, very agreeable surprised to see public attention thus diverted
from his own misdeeds, had gradually lost his surly attitude. He too
dragged one of the wine barrels, which did duty for chairs, close to
the trestle table, and thus the members of the nameless Jacobin club
made a compact group, picturesque in its weird horror, its
uncompromising, flaunting ugliness.

"I suppose," said Tinville, who was loth to give up his position as
leader of these extremists--"I suppose, Citizen Lenoir, that you are
in position to furnish me with proofs of the Citizen-Deputy's guilt?"

"If I furnish you with such proofs, Citizen Tinville," retorted the
other, "will you, as Public Prosecutor, carry the indictment through?"

"It is my duty to publicly accuse those who are traitors to the
Republic."

"And you, Citizen Merlin," queried Lenoir, "will you help the Republic
to the best of your ability to be rid of a traitor?"

"My services to the cause of our great Revolution are too well known
-" began Merlin.

But Lenoir interrupted him with impatience.

"_Pardi!_but  we'll have no rhetoric now, Citizen Merlin.  We all know
that you have blundered, and that the Republic cares little for those
of her sons who have failed, but whilst you are still Minister of
Justice the people of France have need of you--for bringing _other_
traitors to the guillotine."

He spoke this last phrase slowly and significantly, lingering on the
word "other," as if he wished its whole awesome meaning to penetrate
well into Merlin's brain.

"What is your advice then, Citizen Lenoir?"

Apparently, by unanimous consent, the coalheaver, from some obscure
province of France, had been tacitly acknowledged the leader of the
band. Merlin, still in terror for himself, looked to him for advice;
even Tinville was ready to be guided by him. All were at one in their
desire to rid themselves of Déroulède, who by his clean living, his
aloofness from their own hideous orgies and deadly hates, seemed a
living reproach to them all; and they all felt that in Lenoir there
must exist some secret dislike of the popular Citizen-Deputy, which
would give him a clear insight of how best to bring about his
downfall.

"What is your advice?" had been Merlin's query, and everyone there
listened eagerly for what was to come.

"We are all agreed," commenced Lenoir quietly, "that just at this
moment it would be unwise to arraign the Citizen-Deputy without
material proof. The mob of Paris worship him, and would turn against
those who had tried to dethrone their idol. Now, Citizen Merlin failed
to furnish us with proofs of Déroulède's guilt. For the moment he is a
free man, and I imagine a wise one; within two days he will have
quitted this country, well knowing that, if he stayed long enough to
see his popularity wane, he would also outstay his welcome on earth
altogether."

"Ay!  Ay! said some of the men approvingly, whilst others laughed
hoarsely at the weird jest.

"I propose, therefore," continued Lenoir after a slight pause, "that
it shall be Citizen-Deputy Déroulède himself who shall furnish to the
people of France proofs of his own treason against the Republic."

"But how?  But how?" rapid, loud and excited queries greeted this
extraordinary suggestion from the provincial giant.

"By the simplest means imaginable," retorted Lenoir with imperturbable
calm. "Isn't there a good proverb which our grandmothers used to
quote, that if you only give a man a sufficient length of rope, he is
sure to hang himself? We'll give our aristocratic Citizen-Deputy
plenty of rope, I'll warrant, if only our present Minister of
Justice," he added, indicating Merlin, "will help us in the little
comedy which I propose that we should play."

"Yes!  Yes!  Go on!" said Merlin excitedly.

"The woman who denounced Déroulède--that is our trump card,"
continued Lenoir, now waxing enthusiastic with his own scheme and his
own eloquence. "She denounced him. Ergo, he had been her lover, whom
she wished to be rid of--why? Not, as Citizen Merlin supposed,
because he had discarded her. No, no; she had another lover--she has
admitted that. She wished to be rid of Déroulède to make way for the
other, because he was too persistent--ergo, because he loved her."

"Well, and what does that prove?" queried Tinville with dry sarcasm.

"It proves that Déroulède, being in love with the woman, would do much
to save her from the guillotine."

"Of course."

"_Pardi!_ let him try, say I," rejoined Lenoir placidly.  "Give him
the rope with which to hang himself."

"What does he mean?" asked one or two of the men, whose dull brains
had not quite as yet grasped the full meaning of this monstrous
scheme.

"You don't understand what I mean, citizens; you think I am mad, or
drunk, or a traitor like Déroulède? _Eh bien!_ give me your attention
five minutes longer, and you shall see. Let me suppose that we have
reached the moment when the woman--what is her name? Oh! ah! yes!
Juliette Marny--stands in the Hall of Justice on her trial before the
Committee of Public Safety. Citizen Foucquier-Tinville, one of our
greatest patriots, reads the indictment against her: the papers
surreptitiously burnt, the torn, mysterious letter-case found in her
room. If these are presumed, in the indictment, to be treasonable
correspondence with the enemies of the Republic, condemnation follows
at once, then the guillotine. There is no defence, no respite. The
Minister of Justice, according to Article IX of the Law framed by
himself, allows no advocate to those directly accused of treason.
But," continued the giant, with slow and calm impressiveness, "in the
case of ordinary, civil indictments, offences against public morality
or matters pertaining to the penal code, the Minister of Justice
allows the accused to be publicly defended. Place Juliette Marny in
the dock on a treasonable charge, she will be hustled out of the court
in a few minutes, amongst a batch of other traitors, dragged back to
her own prison, and executed in the early dawn, before Déroulède has
had time to frame a plan for her safety or defence. If, then, he tries
to move heaven and earth to rescue the woman he loves, the mob of
Paris may,--who knows?--take his part warmly. They are mad where
Déroulède is concerned; and we all know that two devoted lovers have
ere now found favour with the people of France--a curious remnant of
sentimentalism, I suppose--and the popular Citizen-Deputy knows
better than anyone else on earth, how to play upon the sentimental
feelings of the populace. Now, in the case of a penal offence, mark
where the difference would be! The woman Juliette Marny, arraigned for
wantonness, for an offence against public morals; the burnt
correspondence, admitted to be the letters of a lover--her hatred for
Déroulède suggesting the false denunciation. Then the Minister of
Justice allows an advocate to defend her. She has none in court; but
think you Déroulède would not step forward, and bring all the fervour
of his eloquence to bear in favour of his mistress? Can you hear his
impassioned speech on her behalf?--I can--the rope, I tell you,
citizens, with which he'll hang himself. Will he admit in open court
that the burnt correspondence was another lover's letters? No!--a
thousand times no!--and, in the face of his emphatic denial of the
existence of another lover for Juliette, it will be for our clever
Public Prosecutor to bring him down to an admission that the
correspondence was his, that it was treasonable, that she burnt them
to save him."

He paused, exhausted at last, mopping his forehead, then drinking
large gulps of brandy to ease his parched throat.

A veritable chorus of enthusiasm greeted the end of his long
peroration. The Machiavelian scheme, almost devilish in its cunning,
in its subtle knowledge of human nature and of the heart-strings of a
noble organisation like Déroulède's, commended itself to these
patriots, who were thirsting for the downfall of a superior enemy.

Even Tinville lost his attitude of dry sarcasm; his thin cheeks were
glowing with the lust of the fight.

Already for the past few months, the trials before the Committee of
Public Safety had been dull, monotonous, uninteresting. Charlotte
Corday had been a happy diversion, but otherwise it had been the case
of various deputies, who had held views that had become too moderate,
or of the generals who had failed to subdue the towns or provinces of
the south.

But now this trial on the morrow--the excitement of it all, the trap
laid for Déroulède, the pleasure of seeing him take the first step
towards his own downfall. Everyone there was eager and enthusiastic
for the fray. Lenoir, having spoken at such length, had now become
silent, but everyone else talked, and drank brandy, and hugged his own
hate and likely triumph.

For several hours, far into the night, the sitting was continued.
Each one of the score of members had some comment to make on Lenoir's
speech, some suggestion to offer.

Lenoir himself was the first to break up this weird gathering of human
jackals, already exulting over their prey. He bad his companions a
quiet good-night, then passed out into the dark street.

After he had gone there were a few seconds of complete silence in the
dark and sordid room, where men's ugliest passions were holding
absolute sway. The giant's heavy footsteps echoed along the ill-paved
street, and gradually died away in the distance.

Then at last Foucquier-Tinville, the Public Prosecutor, spoke:

"And who is that man?" he asked, addressing the assembly of patriots.

Most of them did not know.

"A provincial from the north," said one of the men at last; "he has
been here several times before now, and last year he was a fairly
constant attendant. I believe he is a butcher by trade, and I fancy he
comes from Calais. He was originally brought here by Citizen Brogard,
who is good patriot enough."

One by one the members of this bond of Fraternity began to file out of
the Cheval Borgne. They nodded curt good-nights to each other, and
then went to their respective abodes, which surely could not be
dignified with the name of home.

Tinville remained one of the last; he and Merlin seemed suddenly to
have buried the hatchet, which a few hours ago had threatened to
destroy one of the other of these whilom bosom friends.

Two or three of the most ardent of these ardent extremists had
gathered round the Public Prosecutor, and Merlin, the framer of the
Law of the Suspect.

"What say you, citizens?" said Tinville at last quietly.  "That man
Lenoir, meseems, is too eloquent--eh?"

"Dangerous," pronounced Merlin, whilst the others nodded approval.

"But his scheme is good," suggested one of the men.

"And we'll avail ourselves of it," assented Tinville, "but
afterwards..."

He paused, and once more everyone nodded approval.

"Yes; he is dangerous.  We'll leave him in peace to-morrow, but
afterwards..."

With a gentle hand Tinville caressed the tall double post, which stood
in the centre of the room, and which was shaped like the guillotine.
An evil look was on his face: the grin of a death-dealing monster,
savage and envious. The others laughed in grim content. Merlin grunted
a surly approval. He had no cause to love the provincial coal-heaver
who had raised a raucous voice to threaten him.

Then, nodding to one another, the last of the patriots, satisfied with
this night's work, passed out into the night.

The watchman was making his rounds, carrying his lantern, and shouting
his customary cry:

"Inhabitants of Paris, sleep quietly.  Everything is in order,
everything is at peace."





CHAPTER XXII

The close of day.


Déroulède  had spent the whole of this same night in a wild,
impassioned search for Juliette.

Earlier in the day, soon after Anne Mie's revelations, he had sought
out his English friend, Sir Percy Blakeney, and talked over with him
the final arrangements for the removal of Madame Déroulède and Anne
Mie from Paris.

Though he was a born idealist and a Utopian, Paul Déroulède had never
for a moment had any illusions with regard to his own popularity. He
knew that at any time, and for any trivial cause, the love which the
mob bore him would readily turn to hate. He had seen Mirabeau's
popularity wane, La Fayette's, Desmoulin's--was it likely that _he_
alone would survive the inevitable death of so ephemeral a thing?

Therefore, whilst he was in power, whilst he was loved and trusted, he
had, figuratively and actually, put his house in order. He had made
full preparations for his own inevitable downfall, for that probable
flight from Paris of those who were dependent upon him.

He had, as far back as a year ago, provided himself with the necessary
passports, and bespoken with his English friend certain measures for
the safety of his mother and his crippled little relative. Now it was
merely a question of putting these measures into execution.

Within two hours of Juliette Marny's arrest, Madame Déroulède and Anne
Mie had quitted the house in the Rue Ecole de Médecine. They had but
little luggage with them, and were ostensibly going into the country
to visit a sick cousin.

The mother of the popular Citizen-Deputy was free to travel
unmolested. The necessary passports which the safety of the Republic
demanded were all in perfect order, and Madame Déroulède and Anne Mie
passed through the north gate of Paris an hour before sunset, on that
24th day of Fructidor.

Their large travelling chaise took them some distance on the North
Road, where they were to meet Lord Hastings and Lord Anthony Dewhurst,
two of The Scarlet Pimpernel's most trusted lieutenants, who were to
escort them as far as the coast, and thence see them safely aboard the
English yacht.

On that score, therefore, Déroulède had no anxiety.  His chief duty
was to his mother and to Anne Mie, and that was now fully discharged.

Then there was old Pétronelle.

Ever since the arrest of her young mistress the poor old soul had been
in a state of mind bordering on frenzy, and no amount of eloquence on
Déroulède's part would persuade her to quit Paris without Juliette.

"If my pet lamb is to die," she said amidst heart-broken sobs, "then I
have no cause to live. Let those devils take me along too, if they
want a useless, old woman like me. But if my darling is allowed to go
free, then what would become of her in this awful city without me? She
and I have never been separated; she wouldn't know where to turn for a
home. And who would cook for her and iron out her kerchiefs, I'd like
to know?"

Reason and common sense were, of course, powerless in face of this
sublime and heroic childishness. No one had the heart to tell the old
woman that the murderous dog of the Revolution seldom loosened its
fangs, once they had closed upon a victim.

All Déroulède could do was to convey Pétronelle to the old abode,
which Juliette had quitted in order to come to him, and which had
never been formally given up. The worthy soul, calmed and refreshed,
deluded herself into the idea that she was waiting for the return of
her young mistress, and became quite cheerful at sight of the familiar
room.

Déroulède had provided her with money and necessaries.  He had but few
remaining hopes in his heart, but among them was the firmly implanted
one that Pétronelle was too insignificant to draw upon herself the
terrible attention of the Committee of Public Safety.

By the nightfall he had seen the good woman safely installed.  Then
only did he feel free.

At last he could devote himself to what seemed to him the one, the
only, aim of his life--to find Juliette.

A dozen prisons in this vast Paris!

Over five thousand prisoners on that night, awaiting trial,
condemnation and death.

Déroulède at first, strong in his own power, his personality, had
thought that the task would be comparatively easy.

At the Palais de Justice they would tell him nothing: the list of new
arrests had not yet been handled in by the commandant of Paris,
Citizen Santerre, who classified and docketed the miserable herd of
aspirants for the next day's guillotine.

The lists, moreover, would not be completed until the next day, when
the trials of the new prisoners would already be imminent.

The work of the Committee of Public Safety was done without much
delay.

Then began Déroulède's weary quest through those twelve prisons of
Paris. From the Temple to the Conciergerie, from Palais Condé to the
Luxembourg, he spent hours in the fruitless search.

Everywhere the same shrug of the shoulders, the same indifferent reply
to his eager query:

"Juliette Marny?  _Inconnue._"

Unknown!  She had not yet been docketed, not yet classified; she was
still one of that immense flock of cattle, sent in ever-increasing
numbers to the slaughter-house.

Presently, to-morrow, after a trial which might last ten minutes,
after a hasty condemnation and quick return to prison, she would be
listed as one of the traitors, whom this great and beneficent Republic
sent daily to the guillotine.

Vainly did Déroulède try to persuade, to entreat, to bribe.  The
sullen guardians of these twelve charnel-houses knew nothing of
individual prisoners.

But the Citizen-Deputy was allowed to look for himself.  He was
conducted to the great vaulted rooms of the Temple, to the vast
ballrooms of the Palais Condé, where herded the condemned and those
still awaiting trial; he was allowed to witness there the grim
farcical tragedies, with which the captives beguiled the few hours
which separated them from death.

Mock trials were acted there; Tinville was mimicked; then the Place de
la Révolution; Samson the headsman, with a couple of inverted chairs
to represent the guillotine.

Daughters of dukes and princes, descendants of ancient lineage, acted
in these weird and ghastly comedies. The ladies, with hair bound high
over their heads, would kneel before the inverted chairs, and place
the snowwhite necks beneath this imaginary guillotine. Speeches were
delivered to a mock populace, whilst a mock Santerre ordered a mock
roll of drums to drown the last flow of eloquence of the supposed
victim.

Oh! the horror of it all--the pity, pathos, and misery of this
ghastly parody, in the very face of the sublimity of death!

Déroulède shuddered when first he beheld the scene, shuddered at the
very thought of finding Juliette amongst these careless, laughing,
thoughtless mimes.

His own, his beautiful Juliette, with her proud face and majestic,
queen-like gestures; it was a relief not to see her there.

"Juliette Marny?  _Inconnue,_" was the final word he heard about her.

No one told him that by Deputy Merlin's strictest orders she had been
labelled "dangerous", and placed in a remote wing of the Luxembourg
Palace, together with a few, who, like herself, were allowed to see no
one, communicate with no one.

Then when the _couvre-feu_ had sounded, when all public places were
closed, when the night watchman had begun his rounds, Déroulède knew
that his quest for that night must remain fruitless.

But he could not rest.  In and out the tortuous streets of Paris he
roamed during the better part of that night. He was now only awaiting
the dawn to publicly demand the right to stand beside Juliette.

A hopeless misery was in his heart, a longing for a cessation of life;
only one thing kept his brain active, his mind clear: the hope of
saving Juliette.

The dawn was breaking in the far east when, wandering along the banks
of the river, he suddenly felt a touch on his arm.

"Come to my hovel," said a pleasant, lazy voice close to his ear,
whilst a kindly hand seemed to drag him away from the contemplation of
the dark, silent river. "And a demmed, beastly place it is too, but at
least we can talk quietly there."

Déroulède, roused from his meditation, looked up, to see his friend,
Sir Percy Blakeney, standing close beside him. Tall, débonnair,
well-dressed, he seemed by his very presence to dissipate the morbid
atmosphere which was beginning to weigh upon Déroulède's active mind.

Déroulède followed him readily enough through, the intricate mazes of
old Paris, and down the Rue des Arts, until Sir Percy stopped outside
a small hostelry, the door of which stood wide open.

"Mine host has nothing to lose from footpads and thieves," explained
the Englishman as he guided his friend through the narrow doorway,
then up a flight of rickety stairs, to a small room on the floor
above. "He leaves all doors open for anyone to walk in, but, la! the
interior of the house looks so uninviting that no one is tempted to
enter."

"I wonder you care to stay here," remarked Déroulède, with a momentary
smile, as he contrasted in his mind the fastidious appearance of his
friend with the dinginess and dirt of these surroundings.

Sir Percy deposited his large person in the capacious depths of a
creaky chair, stretched his long limbs out before him, and said
quietly:

"I am only staying in this demmed hole until the moment when I can
drag you out of this murderous city."

Déroulède shook his head.

"You'd best go back to England, then," he said, "for I'll never leave
Paris now."

"Not without Juliette Marny, shall we say?" rejoined Sir Percy
placidly.

"And I fear me that she has placed herself beyond our reach," said
Déroulède sombrely.

"You know that she is in the Luxembourg Prison?" queried the
Englishman suddenly.

"I guessed it, but could find no proof."

"And that she will be tried to-morrow?"

"They never keep a prisoner pining too long," replied Déroulède
bitterly. "I guessed that too."

"What do you mean to do?"

"Defend her with the last breath in my body."

"You love her still, then?" asked Blakeney, with a smile.

"Still?"  The look, the accent, the agony of a hopeless passion
conveyed in that one word, told Sir Percy Blakeney all that he wished
to know.

"Yet she betrayed you," he said tentatively.

"And to atone for that sin--an oath, mind you, friend, sworn to her
father--she is already to give her life for me."

"And you are prepared to forgive?"

"To understand _is_ to forgive," rejoined Déroulède simply, "and I
love her."

"Your madonna!" said Blakeney, with a gently ironical smile.

"No; the woman I love, with all her weaknesses, all her sins; the
woman to gain whom I would give my soul, to save whom I will give my
life."

"And she?"

"She does not love me--would she have betrayed me else?"

He sat beside the table, and buried his head in his hands.  Not even
his dearest friend should see how much he had suffered, how deeply his
love had been wounded.

Sir Percy said nothing, a curious, pleasant smile lurked round the
corners of his mobile mouth. Through his mind there flitted the vision
of beautiful Marguerite, who had so much loved yet so deeply wronged
him, and, looking at his friend, he thought that Déroulède too would
soon learn all the contradictions, which wage a constant war in the
innermost recesses of a feminine heart.

He made a movement as if he would say something more, something of
grave import, then seemed to think better of it, and shrugged his
broad shoulders, as if to say:

"Let time and chance take their course now."

When Déroulède looked up again Sir Percy was sitting placidly in the
arm-chair, with an absolutely blank expression on his face.

"Now that you know how much I love her, my friend," said Déroulède as
soon as he had mastered his emotions, "will you look after her when
they have condemned me, and save her for my sake?"

A curious, enigmatic smile suddenly illumined Sir Percy's earnest
countenance.

"Save her?  Do you attribute supernatural powers to me, then, or to
The League of The Scarlet Pimpernel?"

"To you, I think," rejoined Déroulède seriously.

Once more it seemed as if Sir Percy were about to reveal something of
great importance to his friend, then once more he checked himself. The
Scarlet Pimpernel was, above all, far-seeing and practical, a man of
action and not of impulse. The glowing eyes of his friend, his
nervous, febrile movements, did not suggest that he was in a fit state
to be entrusted with plans, the success of which hung on a mere
thread.

Therefore Sir Percy only smiled, and said quietly:

"Well, I'll do my best."





CHAPTER XXIII

Justice.


The day had been an unusually busy one.

Five and thirty prisoners, arraigned before the bar of the Committee
of Public Safety, had been tried in the last eight hours--an average
of rather more than four to the hour; twelve minutes and a half in
which to send a human creature, full of life and health, to solve the
great enigma which lies hidden beyond the waters of the Styx.

And Citizen-Deputy Foucquier-Tinville, the Public Prosecutor, had
surpassed himself. He seemed indefatigable.

Each of these five and thirty prisoners had been arraigned for treason
against the Republic, for conspiracy with her enemies, and all had to
have irrefutable proofs of their guilt brought before the Committee of
Public Safety. Sometimes a few letters, written to friends abroad, and
seized at the frontier; a word of condemnation of the measures of the
extremists; and expression of horror at the massacres on the Place de
la Révolution, where the guillotine creaked incessantly--these were
irrefutable proofs; or else perhaps a couple of pistols, or an old
family sword seized in the house of a peaceful citizen, would be
brought against a prisoner, as an irrefutable proof of his warlike
dispositions against the Republic.

Oh! it was not difficult!

Out of five and thirty indictments, Foucquier-Tinville had obtained
thirty convictions.

No wonder his friends declared that he had surpassed himself.  It had
indeed been a glorious day, and the glow of satisfaction as much as
the heat, caused the Public Prosecutors to mop his high, bony cranium
before he had adjourned for the much-needed respite for refreshment.

The day's work was not yet done.

The "politicals" had been disposed of, and there had been such an
accumulation of them recently that it was difficult to keep pace with
the arrests.

And in the meanwhile the criminal record of the great city had not
diminished. Because men butchered one another in the name of Equality,
there were none the fewer among the Fraternity of thieves and petty
pilferers, of ordinary cut-throats and public wantons.

And these too had to be dealt with by law.  The guillotine was
impartial, and fell with equal velocity on the neck of the proud duke
and the gutter-born _fille de joie,_ on a descendant of the Bourbons
and the wastrel born in a brothel.

The ministerial decrees favoured the proletariat.  A crime against the
Republic was indefensible, but one against the individual was dealt
with, with all the paraphernalia of an elaborate administration of
justice. There were citizen judges and citizen advocates, and the
rabble, who crowded in to listen to the trials, acted as honorary
jury.

It was all thoroughly well done.  The citizen criminals were given
every chance.

The afternoon of this hot August day, one of the last of glorious
Fructidor, had begun to wane, and the shades of evening to slowly
creep into the long, bare room where this travesty of justice was
being administered.

The Citizen-President sat at the extreme end of the room, on a rough
wooden bench, with a desk in front of him littered with papers.

Just above him, on the bare, whitewashed wall, the words: "La
République: une et indivisible," and below them the device: "Liberté,
Egalité, Fraternité!"

To the right and left of the Citizen-President, four clerks were busy
making entries in that ponderous ledger, that amazing record of the
foulest crimes the world has ever known, the "Bulletin du Tribunal
Révolutionnaire."

At present no one is speaking, and the grating of the clerks' quill
pens against the paper is the only sound which disturbs the silence of
the hall.

In front of the President, on a bench lower than his, sits Citizen
Foucquier-Tinville, rested and refreshed, ready to take up his
occupation, for as may hours as his country demands it of him.

On every desk a tallow candle, smoking and spluttering, throws a weird
light, and more weird shadows, on the faces of clerks and President,
on blank walls and ominous devices.

In the centre of the room a platform surrounded by an iron railing is
ready for the accused. Just in front of it, from the tall, raftered
ceiling above, there hangs a small brass lamp, with a green
_abat-jour._

Each side of the long, whitewashed walls there are three rows of
benches, beautiful old carved oak pews, snatched from Nôtre Dame and
from the Churches of St Eustache and St Germain l'Auxerrois. Instead
of the pious worshippers of mediaeval times, they now accommodate the
lookers-on of the grim spectacle of unfortunates, in their brief halt
before the scaffold.

The front row of these benches is reserved for those citizen-deputies
who desire to be present at the debates of the Tribunal
Révolutonnaire. It is their privilege, almost their duty, as
representatives of the people, to see that the sittings are properly
conducted.

These benches are already well filled.  At one end, on the left,
Citizen Merlin, Minister of Justice, sits; next to him
Citizen-Minister Lebrun; also Citizen Robespierre, still in the height
of his ascendancy, and watching the proceedings with those pale,
watery eyes of his and that curious, disdainful smile, which have
earned for him the nickname of "the sea-green incorruptible."

Other well-known faces are there also, dimly outlined in the
fast-gathering gloom. But everyone notes Citizen-Deputy Déroulède, the
idol of the people, as he sits on the extreme end of a bench on the
right, with arms tightly folded across his chest, the light from the
hanging lamp falling straight on his dark head and proud, straight
brows, with the large, restless, eager eyes.

Anon the Citizen-President rings a hand-bell, and there is a
discordant noise of hoarse laughter and loud curses, some pushing,
jolting, and swearing, as the general public is admitted into the
hall.

Heaven save us!  What a rabble!
Has humanity really such a scum?

Women with a single ragged kirtle and shift, through the interstices
of which the naked, grime-covered flesh shows shamelessly: with bare
legs, and feet thrust into heavy sabots, hair dishevelled, and evil,
spirit-sodden faces: women without a semblance of womanhood, with
shrivelled, barren breasts, and dry, parched lips, that have never
known how to kiss. Women without emotion save that of hate, without
desire, save for the satisfaction of hunger and thirst, and lust for
revenge against their sisters less wretched, less unsexed than
themselves. They crowd in, jostling one another, swarming into the
front rows of the benches, where they can get a better view of the
miserable victims about to be pilloried before them.

And the men without a semblance of manhood.  Bent under the heavy care
of their own degradation, dead to pity, to love, to chivalry; dead to
all save an inordinate longing for the sight of blood.

And God help them all! for there were the children too.  Children--
save the mark!--with pallid, precocious little faces, pinched with
the ravages of starvation, gazing with dim, filmy eyes on this world
of rapacity and hideousness. Children who have seen death!

Oh, the horror of it!  Not beautiful, peaceful death, a slumber or a
dream, a loved parent or fond sister or brother lying all in white
amidst a wealth of flowers, but death in its most awesome aspect,
violent, lurid, horrible.

And now they stare around them with eager, greedy eyes, awaiting the
amusement of the spectacle; gazing at the President, with his tall
Phrygian cap; at the clerks wielding their indefatigable quill pens,
writing, writing, writing; at the flickering lights, throwing clouds
of sooty smoke, up to the dark ceiling above.

Then suddenly the eyes of one little mite--a poor, tiny midget not
yet in her teens--alight on Paul Déroulède's face, on the opposite
side of the rooms.

"_Tiens!_ Papa Déroulède!" she says, pointing an attenuated litte
finger across at him, and turning eagerly to those around her, her
eyes dilating in wishful recollection of a happy afternoon spent in
Papa Déroulède's house, with fine white bread to eat in plenty, and
great jars of foaming milk.

He rouses himself from his apathy, and his great earnest eyes lose
their look of agonised misery, as he responds to the greeting of the
little one.

For one moment--oh! a mere fraction of a second--the squalid faces,
the miserable, starved expressions of the crowd, soften at sight of
him. There is a faint murmur among the women, which perhaps God's
recording angel registered as a blessing. Who knows?

Foucquier-Tinville suppresses a sneer, and the Citizen-President
impatiently rings his hand-bell again.

"Bring forth the accused!" he commands in stentorian tones.

There is a movement of satisfaction among the crowd, and the angel of
God is forced to hide his face again.





CHAPTER XXIV

The trial of Juliette.


It is all indelibly placed on record in the "Bulletin du Tribunal
Révolutionnaire," under date 25th Fructidor, year I. of the
Revolution.

Anyone who cares may read, for the Bulletin is in the Archives of the
Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris.

One by one the accused had been brought forth, escorted by two men of
the National Guard in ragged, stained uniforms of red, white, and
blue; they were then conducted to the small raised platform in the
centre of the hall, and made to listen to the charge brought against
them by Citizen Foucquier-Tinville, the Public Presecutor.

They were petty charges mostly: pilfering, fraud, theft, occasionally
arson or manslaughter. One man, however, was arraigned for murder with
highway robbery, and a woman for the most ignoble traffic, which evil
feminine ingenuity could invent.

These two were condemned to the guillotine, the others sent to the
galleys at Brest or Toulon--the forger along with the petty thief,
the housebreaker with the absconding clerk.

There was no room in the prison for ordinary offences against the
criminal code; they were overfilled already with so-called traitors
against the Republic.

Three women were sent to the penitentiary at the Salpêtriere, and were
dragged out of the court shrilly protesting their innocence, and
followed by obscene jeers from the spectators on the benches.

Then there was a momentary hush.

Juliette Marny had been brought in.

She was quite calm, and exquisitely beautiful, dressed in a plain grey
bodice and kirtle, with a black band round her slim waist and a soft
white kerchief folded across her bosom. Beneath the tiny, white cap
her golden hair appeared in dainty, curly profusion; her child-like,
oval face was very white, but otherwise quite serene.

She seemed absolutely unconscious of her surroundings, and walked with
a firm step up to the platform, looking neither to the right nor to
the left of her.

Therefore she did not see Déroulède.  A great, a wonderful radiance
seemed to shine in her large eyes--the radiance of self-sacrifice.

She was offering not only her life, but everything a woman of
refinement holds most dear, for the safety of the man she loved.

A feeling that was almost physical pain, so intense was it, overcame
Déroulède, when at last he heard her name loudly called by the Public
Prosecutor.

All day he had waited for this awful moment, forgetting his own
misery, his own agonised feeling of an irretrievable loss, in the
horrible thought of what _she_ would endure, what _she_ would think,
when first she realised the terrible indignity, which was to be put
upon her.

Yet for the sake of her, of her chances of safety and of ultimate
freedom, it was undoubtedly best that it should be so.

Arraigned for conspiracy against the Republic, she was liable to
secret trial, to be brought up, condemned, and executed before he
could even hear of her whereabouts, before he could throw himself
before her judges and take all guilt upon himself.

Those suspected of treason against the Republic forfeited, according
to Merlin's most iniquitous Law, their rights of citizenship, in
publicity of trial and in defence.

It all might have been finished before Déroulède knew anything of it.

The other way was, of course, more terrible.  Brought forth amongst
the scum of criminal Paris, on a charge, the horror of which, he could
but dimly hope that she was too innocent to fully understand, he dared
not even think of what she would suffer.

But undoubtedly it was better so.

The mud thrown at her robes of purity could never cling to her, and at
least her trial would be public; he would be there to take all infamy,
all disgrace, all opprobrium on himself.

The strength of his appeal would turn her judges' wrath from her to
him; and after these few moments of misery, she would be free to leave
Paris, France, to be happy, and to forget him and the memory of him.

An overwhelming, all-compelling love filled his entire soul for the
beautiful girl, who had so wronged, yet so nobly tried to save him. A
longing for her made his very sinews ache; she was no longer madonna,
and her beauty thrilled him, with the passionate, almost sensuous
desire to give his life for her.

The indictment against Juliette Marny has become history now.

On that day, the 25th Fructidor, at seven o'clock in the evening, it
was read out by the Public Prosecutor, and listened to by the accused
--so the Bulletin tells us--with complete calm and apparent
indifference. She stood up in that same pillory where once stood poor,
guilty Charlotte Corday, where presently would stand proud, guiltless
Marie Antoinette.

And Déroulède listened to the scurrilous document, with all the
outward calm his strength of will could command. He would have liked
to rise from his seat then and there, at once, and in mad, purely
animal fury have, with a blow of his fist, quashed the words in
Foucquier-Tinville's lying throat.

But for her sake he was bound to listen, and,  above all, to act
quietly, deliberately, according to form and procedure, so as in no
way to imperil her cause.

Therefore he listened whilst the Public Prosecutor spoke.

"Juliette Marny, you are hereby accused of having, by a false and
malicious denunciation, slandered the person of a representative of
the people; you caused the Revolutionary Tribunal, through this same
mischievous act, to bring a charge against this representative of the
people, to institute a domiciliary search in his house, and to waste
valuable time, which otherwise belonged to the service of the
Republic. And this you did, not from a misguided sense of duty towards
your country, but in wanton and impure spirit, to be rid of the
surveillance of one who had your welfare at heart, and who tried to
prevent your leading the immoral life which had become a public
scandal, and which has now brought you before this court of justice,
to answer to a charge of wantonness, impurity, defamation of
character, and corruption of public morals. In proof of which I now
place before the court your own admission, that more than one citizen
of the Republic has been led by you into immoral relationship with
yourself; and further, your own admission, that your accusation
against Citizen-Deputy Déroulède was false and mischievous; and
further, and finally, your immoral and obscene correspondence with
some persons unknown, which you vainly tried to destroy. In
consideration of which, and in the name of the people of France, whose
spokesman I am, I demand that you be taken hence from this Hall of
Justice to the Place de la Révolution, in full view of the citizens of
Paris an its environs, and clad in a soiled white garment, emblem of
the smirch upon your soul, that there you be publicly whipped by the
hands of Citizen Samson, the public executioner; after which, that you
be taken to the prison of the Salpêtriere, there to be further
detained at the discretion of the Committee of Public Safety. And now,
Juliette Marny, you have heard the indictment preferred against you,
have you anything to say, why the sentence which I have demanded shall
not be passed upon you?"

Jeers, shouts, laughter, and curses greeted this speech of the Public
Prosecutor.

All that was most vile and most bestial in this miserable, misguided
people struggling for Utopia and Liberty, seemed to come to the
surface, whilst listening to the reading of this most infamous
document.

The delight of seeing this beautiful, ethereal woman, almost unearthly
in her proud aloofness, smirched with the vilest mud to which the
vituperation of man can contrive to sink, was a veritable treat to the
degraded wretches.

The women yelled hoarse approval; the children, not understanding,
laughed in mirthless glee; the men, with loud curses, showed their
appreciation of Foucquier-Tinville's speech.

As for Déroulède, the mental agony he endured surpassed any torture
which the devils, they say, reserve for the damned. His sinews cracked
in his frantic efforts to control himself; he dug his finger-nails
into his flesh, trying by physical pain to drown the sufferings of his
mind.

He thought that his reason was tottering, that he would go mad if he
heard another word of this infamy. The hooting and yelling of that
filthy mob sounded like the cries of lost souls, shrieking from hell.
All his pity for them was gone, his love for humanity, his devotion to
the suffering poor.

A great, an immense hatred for this ghastly Revolution and the people
it professed to free filled his whole being, together with a mad,
hideous desire to see them suffer, starve, die a miserable, loathsome
death. The passion of hate, that now overwhelmed his soul, was at
least as ugly as theirs. He was, for one brief moment, now at one with
them in their inordinate lust for revenge.

Only Juliette throughout all this remained calm, silent, impassive.

She had heard the indictment, heard the loathsome sentence, for her
white cheeks had gradually become ashy pale, but never for a moment
did she depart from her attitude of proud aloofness.

She never once turned her head towards the mob who insulted her.  She
waited in complete passiveness until the yelling and shouting had
subsided, motionless save for her finger-tips, which beat an impatient
tattoo upon the railing in front of her.

The Bulletin says that she took out her handkerchief and wiped her
face with it. _Elle s'essuya le front qui fut perlé de sueur._ The
heat had become oppressive.

The atmosphere was overcharged with the dank, penetrating odour of
steaming, dirty clothes. The room, though vast, was close and
suffocating, the tallow candles flickering in the humid, hot air threw
the faces of the President and clerks into bold relief, with curious
caricature effects of light and shade.

The petrol lamp above the head of the accused had flared up, and begun
to smoke, causing the chimney to crack with a sharp report. This
diversion effected a momentary silence among the crowd, and the Public
Prosecutor was able to repeat his query:

"Juliette Marny, have you anything to say in reply to the charge
brought against you, and why the sentence which I have demanded should
not be passed against you?"

The sooty smoke from the lamp came down in small, black, greasy
particles; Juliette with her slender finger-tips flicked one of these
quietly off her sleeve, the she replied:

"No; I have nothing to say."

"Have you instructed an advocate to defend you, according to your
rights of citizenship, which the Law allows?" added the Public
Prosecutor solemnly.

Juliette would have replied at once; her mouth had already framed the
No with which she meant to answer.

But now at last had come Déroulède's hour.  For this he had been
silent, had suffered and had held his peace, whilst twice twenty-four
hours had dragged their weary lengths along, since the arrest of the
woman he loved.

In a moment he was on his feet before them all, accustomed to speak,
to dominate, to command.

"Citiziness Juliette Marny has entrusted me with her defence," he
said, even before the No had escaped Juliette's white lips, "and I am
here to refute the charges brought against her, and to demand in the
name of the people of France full acquittal and justice for her."





CHAPTER XXV

The defence.


Intense excitement, which found vent in loud applause, greeted
Déroulède's statement.

"_Ça ira! ça ira! vas-y Déroulède!_" came from the crowded benches
round; and men, women, and children, wearied with the monotony of the
past proceedings, settled themselves down for a quarter of an hour's
keen enjoyment.

If Déroulède had anything to do with it, the trial was sure to end in
excitement. And the people were always ready to listen to their
special favourite.

The citizen-deputies, drowsy after the long, oppressive day, seemed to
rouse themselves to renewed interest. Lebrun, like a big, shaggy dog,
shook himself free from creeping somnolence. Robespierre smiled
between his thin lips, and looked across at Merlin to see how the
situation affected him. The enmity between the Minister of Justice and
Citizen Déroulède was well known, and everyone noted, with added zest,
that the former wore a keen look of anticipated triumph.

High up, on one of the topmost benches, sat Citizen Lenoir, the
stage-manager of this palpitating drama. He looked down, with obvious
satisfaction, at the scene which he himself had suggested last night
to the members of the Jacobin Club. Merlin's sharp eyes had tried to
pierce the gloom, which wrapped the crowd of spectators, searching
vainly to distinguish the broad figure and massive head of the
provincial giant.

The light from the petrol lamp shone full on Déroulède's earnest, dark
countenance as he looked Juliette's infamous accuser full in the face,
but the tallow candles, flickering weirdly on the President's desk,
threw Tinville's short, spare figure and large, unkempt head into
curious grotesque silhouette.

Juliette apparently had lost none of her calm, and there was no one
there sufficiently interested in her personality to note the tinge of
delicate colour which, at the first word of Déroulède, had slowly
mounted to her pale cheeks.

Tinville waited until the wave of excitement had broken upon the
shoals of expectancy.

Then he resumed:

"Then, Citizen Déroulède, what have _you_ to say, why sentence should
not be passed upon the accused?"

"I have to say that the accused is innocent of every charge brought
against her in your indictment," replied Déroulède firmly.

"And how do you substantiate this statement, Citizen-Deputy?" queried
Tinville, speaking with mock unctuousness.

"Very simply, Citizen Tinville.  The correspondence to which you refer
did not belong to the accused, but to me. It consisted of certain
communications, which I desired to hold with Marie Antoinette, now a
prisoner in the Conciergerie, during my state there as
lieutenant-governor. The Citizeness Juliette Marny, by denouncing me,
was serving the Republic, for my communications with Marie Antoinette
had reference to my own hopes of seeing her quit this country and take
refuge in her own native land."

Gradually, as Déroulède spoke, a murmur, like the distant roar of a
monstrous breaker, rose among the crowd on the upper benches. As he
continued quietly and firmly, so it grew in volume and in intensity,
until his last words were drowned in one mighty, thunderous shout of
horror and execration.

Déroulède, the friend and idol of the people, the privileged darling
of this unruly population, the father of the children, the friend of
the women, the sympathiser in all troubles, Papa Déroulède as the
little ones called him--he a traitor, self-accused, plotting and
planning for an ex-tyrant, a harlot who had called herself a queen,
for Marie Antoinette the Austrian, who had desired and worked for the
overthrow of France! He, Déroulède, a traitor!

In one moment, as he spoke, the love which in their crude hearts they
bore him, that animal primitive love, was turned to sudden, equally
irresponsible hate. He had deceived them, laughed at them, tried to
bribe them by feeding their little ones!

Bah! the bread of the traitor!  It might have choked the children.

Surprise at first had taken their breath away.  Already they had
marvelled why he should stand up to defend a wanton. And now, probably
feeling that he was on the point of being found out, he thought it
better to make a clean breast of his own treason, trusting in his
popularity, in his power over the people.

Bah!!!

Not one extenuating circumstance did they find in their hardened
hearts for him.

He had been their idol, enshrined in their squalid, degraded minds,
and now he had fallen, shattered beyond recall, and they hated and
loathed him as much as they had loved him before.

And this his enemies noted, and smiled with complete satisfaction.

Merlin heaved a sigh of relief.  Tinville nodded his shaggy head, in
token of intense delight.

What that provincial coal-heaver had foretold had indeed come to pass.

The populace, that most fickle of all fickle things in this world, had
turned all at once against its favourite. This Lenoir had predicted,
and the transition had been even more rapid than he had anticipated.

Déroulède had been given a length of rope, and, figuratively speaking,
had already hanged himself.

The reality was a mere matter of a few hours now.  At dawn to-morrow
the guillotine; and the mob of Paris, who yesterday would have torn
his detractors limb from limb, would on the morrow be dragging him,
with hoots and yells and howls of execration, to the scaffold.

The most shadowy of all footholds, that of the whim of a populace, had
already given way under him. His enemies knew it, and were exulting in
their triumph. He knew it himself, and stood up, calmly defiant, ready
for any event, if only he succeeded in snatching her beautiful head
from the ready embrace of the guillotine.

Juliette herself had remained as if entranced.  The colour had again
fled from her cheeks, leaving them paler, more ashen than before. It
seemed as if in this moment she suffered more than human creature
could bear, more than any torture she had undergone hitherto.

He would not owe his life to her.

That was the one overwhelming thought in her, which annihilated all
others. His love for her was dead, and he would not accept the great
sacrifice at her hands.

Thus these two in the supreme moment of their life saw each other, yet
did not understand. A word, a touch would have given them both the key
to one another's heart, and it now seemed as if death would part them
for ever, whilst that great enigma remained unsolved.

The Public Prosecutor had been waiting until the noise had somewhat
subsided, and his voice could be heard above the din, then he said,
with a smile of ill-concealed satisfaction:

"And is the court, then, to understand, Citizen-Deputy Déroulède, that
it was you who tried to burn the treasonable correspondence and to
destroy the case which contained it?"

"The treasonable correspondence was mine, and it was I who destroyed
it."

"But the accused admitted before Citizen Merlin that she herself was
trying to burn certain love letters, that would have brought to light
her illicit relationship with another man than yourself," argued
Tinville suavely. The rope was perhaps not quite long enough;
Déroulède must have all that could be given him, ere this memorable
sitting was adjourned.

Déroulède, however, instead of directing his reply straight to his
enemy, now turned towards the dense crowd of spectators, on the
benches opposite to him.

"Citizens, friends, brothers," he said warmly, "the accused is only a
girl, young, innocent knowing nothing of peril or of sin. You all have
mothers, sisters, daughters--have you not watched those dear to you
in the many moods of which a feminine heart is capable; have you not
seen them affectionate, tender, and impulsive? Would you love them so
dearly but for the fickleness of their moods? Have you not worshipped
them in your hearts, for those sublime impulses which put all man's
plans and calculations to shame? Look on the accused, citizens. She
loves the Republic, the people of France, and feared that I, an
unworthy representative of her sons, was hatching treason against our
great mother. That was her first wayward impulse--to stop me before I
committed the awful crime, to punish me, or perhaps only to warn me.
Does a young girl calculate, citizens? She acts as her heart dictates;
her reason but awakes from slumber later on, when the act is done.
Then comes repentance sometimes: another impulse of tenderness which we
all revere. Would you extract vinegar from rose leaves? Just as
readily could you find reason in a young girl's head. Is that a crime?
She wished to thwart me in my treason; then, seeing me in peril, the
sincere friendship she had for me gained the upper hand once more. She
loved my mother, who might be losing a son; she loved my crippled
foster-sister; for _their_ sakes, not for mine--a traitor's--did she
yield to another, a heavenly impulse, that of saving me from the
consequences of my own folly. Was _that_ a crime, citizens? When you
are ailing, do not your mothers, sisters, wives tend you? when you are
seriously ill, would they not give their heart's blood to save you?
and when, in the dark hours of your lives, some deed which you would
not openly avow before the world overweights your soul with its burden
of remorse, is it not again your womenkind who come to you, with
tender words and soothing voices, trying to ease your aching
conscience, bringing solace, comfort, and peace? And so it was with
the accused, citizens. She had seen my crime, and longed to punish it;
she saw those who had befriended her in sorrow, and she tried to ease
their pain by taking _my_ guilt upon her shoulders. She has suffered
for the noble lie, which she had told on my behalf, as no woman has
ever been made to suffer before. She has stood, white and innocent as
your new-born children, in the pillory of infamy. She was ready to
endure death, and what was ten thousand times worse than death,
because of her own warm-hearted affection. But you, citizens of
France, who, above all, are noble, true, and chivalrous, you will not
allow the sweet impulses of young and tender womanhood to be punished
with the ban of felony. To you, women of France, I appeal in the name
of your childhood, your girlhood, your motherhood; take her to your
hearts, she is worthy of it, worthier now for having blushed before
you, worthier than any heroine in the great roll of honour of France."

His magnetic voice went echoing along the rafters of the great, sordid
Hall of Justice, filling it with a glory it had never known before.
His enthusiasm thrilled his hearers, his appeal to their honour and
chivalry roused all the finer feelings within them. Still hating him
for his treason, his magical appeal had turned their hearts towards
her.

They had listened to him without interruption, and now at last, when
he paused, it was very evident, by muttered exclamations and glances
cast at Juliette, that popular feeling, which up to the present had
practically ignored her, now went out towards her personality with
overwhelming sympathy.

Obviously at the present moment, if Juliette's fate had been put to
the plebiscite, she would have been unanimously acquitted.

Merlin, as Déroulède spoke, had once or twice tried to read his friend
Foucquier-Tinville's enigmatical expression, but the Public
Prosecutor, with his face in deep shadow, had not moved a muscle
during the Citizen-Deputy's noble peroration. He sat at his desk, chin
resting on hand, staring before him with an expression of
indifference, almost of boredom.

Now, when Déroulède finished speaking, and the outburst of human
enthusiasm had somewhat subsided, he rose slowly to his feet, and said
quietly:

"So you maintain, Citizen-Deputy, that the accused is a chaste and
innocent girl, unjustly charged with immorality?"

"I do," protested Déroulède loudly.

"And will you tell the court why you are so ready to publicly accuse
yourself of treason against the Republic, knowing full well all the
consequences of your action?"

"Would any Frenchman care to save his own life at the expense of a
woman's honour?" retorted Déroulède proudly.

A murmur of approval greeted these words, and Tinville remarked
unctuously:

"Quite so, quite so.  We esteem your chivalry, Citizen-Deputy.  The
same spirit, no doubt, actuates you to maintain that the accused knew
nothing of the papers which you say you destroyed?"

"She knew nothing of them.  I destroyed them; I did not know that they
had been found; on my return to my house I discovered that the
Citizeness Juliette Marny had falsely accused herself of having
destroyed some papers surreptitiously."

"She said they were love letters."

"It is false."

"You declare her to be pure and chaste?"

"Before the whole world."

"Yet you were in the habit of frequenting the bedroom of this pure and
chaste girl, who dwelt under your roof," said Tinville with slow and
deliberate sarcasm.

"It is false."

"If it be false, Citizen Déroulède," continued the other with the same
unctuous suavity, "then how comes it that the correspondence which you
admit was treasonable, and therefore presumably secret--how comes it
that it was found, still smouldering, in the chaste young woman's
bedroom, and the torn letter-case concealed among her dresses in a
valise?"

"It is false."

"The Minister of Justice, Citizen-Deputy Merlin, will answer for the
truth of that."

"It is the truth," said Juliette quietly.

Her voice rang out clear, almost triumphant, in the midst of the
breathless pause, caused by the previous swift questions and loud
answers.

Déroulède now was silent.

This one simple fact he did not know.  Anne Mie, in telling him the
events in connection with the arrest of Juliette, had omitted to give
him the one little detail, that the burnt letters were found in the
young girl's bedroom.

Up to the moment when the Public Prosecutor confronted him with it, he
had been under the impression that she had destroyed the papers and
the letter-case in the study, where she had remained alone after
Merlin and his men had left the room. She could easily have burnt them
there, as a tiny spirit lamp was always kept alight on a side table
for the use of smokers.

This little fact now altered the entire course of events.  Tinville
had but to frame an indignant ejaculation:

"Citizens of France, see how you are being befooled and hoodwinked!"

Then he turned once more to Déroulède.

"Citizen Déroulède..." he began.

But in the tumult that ensued he could no longer hear his own voice.
The pent-up rage of the entire mob of Paris seemed to find vent for
itself in the howls with which the crowd now tried to drown the rest
of the proceedings.

As their brutish hearts had been suddenly melted on behalf of
Juliette, in response to Déroulède's passionate appeal, so now they
swiftly changed their sympathetic attitude to one of horror and
execration.

Two people had fooled and deceived them.  One of these they had
reverenced and trusted, as much as their degraded minds were capable
of reverencing anything, therefore _his_ sin seemed doubly damnable.

He and that pale-face aristocrat had for weeks now, months, or year
perhaps, conspired against the Republic, against the Revolution, which
had been made by a people thirsting for liberty. During these months
and years _he_ had talked to them, and they had listened; he had
poured forth treasures of eloquence, cajoled them, as he had done just
now.

The noise and hubbub were growing apace.  If Tinville and Merlin had
desired to infuriate the mob, they had more than succeeded. All thas
was most bestial, most savage in this awful Parisian populace rose to
the surface now in one wild, mad desire for revenge.

The crowd rushed down from the benches, over one another's heads, over
children's fallen bodies; they rushed down because they wanted to get
at him, their whilom favourite, and at his pale-faced mistress, and
tear them to pieces, hit them, scratch out their eyes. They snarled
like so many wild beasts, the women shrieked, the children cried, and
the men of the National Guard, hurrying forward, had much ado to keep
back this food-tide of hate.

Had any of them broken loose, from behind the barrier of bayonets
hastily raised against them, it would have fared ill with Déroulède
and Juliette.

The Pesident wildly rang his bell, and his voice, quivering with
excitement, was heard once or twice above the din.

"Clear the court!  Clear the court!"

But the people refused to be cleared out of court.

"_A la lanterne les traîtres!  Mort à Déroulède.  A la lanterne!
l'aristo!_"

And in the thickest of the crowd,  the broad shoulders and massive
head of Citizen Lenoir towered above the others.

At first it seemed as if he had been urging on the mob in its fury.
His strident voice, with its broad provincial accent, was heard
distinctly shouting loud vituperations against the accused.

Then at a given moment, when the tumult was at its height, when the
National Guard felt their bayonets giving way before this onrushing
tide of human jackals, Lenoir changed his tactics.

"_Tiens! c'est bête!_" he shouted loudly, "we shall do far better with
the traitors when we get them outside. What say you, citizens? Shall
we leave the judges here to conclude the farce, and arrange for its
sequel ourselves outside the 'Tigre Jaune'?"

At first but little heed was paid to his suggestion, and he repeated
it once or twice, adding some interesting details:

"One is freer in the streets, where these apes of the National Guard
can't get between the people of France and their just revenge. _Ma
foi!_" he added, squaring his broad shoulders, and pushing his way
through the crowd towards the door, "I for one am going to see where
hangs the most suitable _lanterne._"

Like a flock of sheep the crowd now followed him.

"The nearest _lanterne!_" they shouted.  "In the streets--in the
streets! _A la lanterne!_ The traitors!"

And with many a jeer, many a loathsome curse, and still more loathsome
jests, some of the crowd began to file out. A few only remained to see
the conclusion of the farce.





CHAPTER XXVI

Sentence of death.


The "Bulletin du Tribunal Révolutionnaire" tells us that both the
accused had remained perfectly calm during the turmoil which raged
within the bare walls of the Hall of Justice.

Citizen-Deputy Déroulède, however, so the chroniclers aver, though
outwardly impassive, was evidently deeply moved. He had very
expressive eyes, clear mirrors of the fine, upright soul within, and
in them there was a look of intense emotion as he watched the crowd,
which he had so often dominated and controlled, now turning in hatred
against him.

He seemed actually to be seeing with a spiritual vision, his own
popularity wane and die.

But when the thick of the crowd had pushed and jostled itself out of
the hall, that transient emotion seemed to disappear, and he allowed
himself quietly to be led from the front bench, where he had sat as a
privileged member of the National Convention, to a place immediately
behind the dock, and between two men of the National Guard.

From that moment he was a prisoner, accused of treason against the
Republic, and obviously his mock trial would be hurried through by his
triumphant enemies, whilst the temper of the people was at boiling
point against him.

Complete silence had succeeded to the raging tumult of the past few
moments. Nothing now could be heard in the vast room, save
Foucquier-Tinville's hastily whispered instructions to the clerk
nearest to him, and the scratch of the latter's quill pen against the
paper.

The President was, with equal rapididy, affixing his signature to
various papers handed up to him by the other clerks. The few remaining
spectators, the deputies, and those among the crowd who had elected to
see the close of the debate, were silent and expectant.

Merlin was mopping his forehead as if in intense fatigue after a hard
struggle; Robespierre was coolly taking snuff.

From where Déroulède stood, he could see Juliette's graceful figure
silhouetted against the light of the petrol lamp. His heart was torn
between intense misery at having failed to save her and a curious,
exultant joy at thought of dying beside her.

He knew the procedure of this revolutionary tribunal well--knew that
within the next few moments he too would be condemned, that they would
both be hustled out of the crowd and dragged through the streets of
Paris, and finally thrown into the same prison, to herd with those
who, like themselves, had but a few hours to live.

And then to-morrow at dawn, death for them both under the guillotine.
Death in public, with all its attendant horrors: the packed tumbril;
the priest, in civil clothes, appointed by this godless government,
muttering conventional prayers and valueless exhortations.

And in his heart there was nothing but love for her--love and an
intense pity--for the punishment she was suffering was far greater
than her crime. He hoped that in her heart remorse would not be too
bitter; and he looked forward with joy to the next few hours, which he
would pass near her, during which he could perhaps still console and
soothe her.

She was but the victim of an ideal, of Fate stronger than her own
will. She stood, an innocent martyr to the great mistake of her life.

But the minutes sped on.  Foucquier-Tinville had evidently completed
his new indictments.

The one against Juliette Marny was read out first.  She was now
accused of conspiring with Paul Déroulède against the safety of the
Republic, by having cognisance of a treasonable correspondence carried
on with the prisoner, Marie Antoinette; by virtue of which accusation
the Public Prosecutor asked her if she had anything to say.

"No," she replied loudly and firmly.  "I pray to God for the safety
and deliverance of our Queen, Marie Antoinette, and for the overthrow
of this Reign of Terror and Anarchy."

These words, registered in the "Bulletin du Tribunal Révolutionnaire"
were taken as final and irrefutable proofs of her guilt, and she was
then summarily condemned to death.

She was then made to step down from the dock and Déroulède to stand in
her place.

He listened quietly to the long indictment which Foucquier-Tinville
had already framed against him the evening before, in readiness for
this contingency. The words "treason against the Republic" occurred
conspicuously and repeatedly. The document itself is at one with the
thousands of written charges, framed by that odious Foucquier-Tinville
during these periods of bloodshed, and which in themselves are the
most scathing indictments against the odious travesty of Justice,
perpetrated with his help.

Self-accused, and avowedly a traitor, Déroulède was not even asked if
he had anything to say; sentence of death was passed on him, with the
rapididy and callousness peculiar to these proceedings.

After which Paul Déroulède and Juliette Marny were led forth, under
strong escort, into the street.





CHAPTER XXVII

The Fructidor Riots.


Many accounts, more or less authentic, have been published of the
events known to history as the "Fructidor Riots."

But this is how it all happened: at any rate it is the version related
some few days later in England to the Prince of Wales by no less a
personage than Sir Percy Blakeney; and who indeed should know better
than The Scarlet Pimpernel himself?

Déroulède and Juliette Marny were the last of the batch of prisoners
who were tried on that memorable day of Fructidor.

There had been such a number of these, that all the covered carts in
use for the conveyance of prisoners to and from the Hall of Justice
had already been despatched with their weighty human load; thus it was
that only a rough wooden cart, hoodless and rickety, was available,
and into this Déroulède and Juliette were ordered to mount.

It was now close on nine o'clock in the evening.  The streets of
Paris, sparsely illuminated here and there with solitary oil lamps
swung across from house to house on wires, presented a miserable and
squalid appearance. A thin, misty rain had begun to fall, transforming
the ill-paved roads into morasses of sticky mud.

The Hall of Justice was surrounded by a howling and shrieking mob,
who, having imbibed all the stores of brandy in the neighbouring
drinking bars, was now waiting outside in the dripping rain for the
express purpose of venting its pent-up, spirit-sodden lust of rage
against the man whom it had once worshipped, but whom now it hated.
Men, women, and even children swarmed round the principal entrances of
the Palais de Justice, along the bank of the river as far as the Pont
au Change, and up towards the Luxembourg Palace, now transformed into
the prison, to which the condemned would no doubt be conveyed.

Along the river-bank, and immediately facing the Palais de Justice, a
row of gallows-shaped posts, at intervals of a hundred yards or more,
held each a smoky petrol lamp, at a height of some eight feet from the
ground.

One of these lamps had been knocked down, and from the post itself
there now hung ominously a length of rope, with a noose at the end.

Around this improvised gallows a group of women sat, or rather
squatted, in the mud; their ragged shifts and kirtles, soaked through
with the drizzling rain, hung dankly on their emaciated forms; their
hair, in some cases grey, and in others dark or straw-coloured, clung
matted round their wet faces, on which the dirt and the damp had drawn
weird and grotesque lines.

The men were restless and noisy, rushing aimlessly hither and thither,
from the corner of the bridge, up the Rue du Palais, fearful lest
their prey be conjured away ere their vengeance was satisfied.

Oh, how they hated their former idol now!  Citizen Lenoir, with his
broad shoulders and powerful, grime-covered head, towered above the
throng; his strident voice, with its raucous, provincial accent, could
be distinctly heard above the din, egging on the men, shouting to the
women, stirring up hatred against the prisoners, wherever it showed
signs of abating in intensity.

The coal-heaver, hailing from some distant province, seemed to have
set himself the grim task of provoking the infuriated populace to some
terrible deed of revenge against Déroulède and Juliette.

The darkness of the street, the fast-falling mist which obscured the
light from the meagre oil lamps, seemed to add a certain weirdness to
this moving, seething multitude. No one could see his neighbour. In
the blackness of the night the muttering or yelling figures moved
about like some spectral creatures from hellish regions--the Akous of
Brittany who call to those about to die; whilst the women squatting in
the oozing mud, beneath that swinging piece of rope, looked like a
group of ghostly witches, waiting for the hour of their Sabbath.

As Déroulède emerged into the open, the light from a swinging lantern
in the doorway fell upon his face. The foremost of the crowd
recognised him; a howl of execration went up to the cloud-covered sky,
and a hundred hands were thrust out in deadly menace against him.

It seemed as if they whished to tear him to pieces.

"_A la lanterne!  A la lanterne! le traître!_"

He shivered slightly, as if with the sudden blast of cold, humid air,
but he stepped quietly into the cart, closely followed by Juliette.

The strong escort of the National Guard, with Commandant Santerre and
his two drummers, had much ado to keep back the mob. It was not the
policy of the revolutionary government to allow excesses of summary
justice in the streets: the public execution of traitors on the Place
de la Révolution, the processions in the tumbrils, were thought to be
wholesome examples for other would-be traitors to mark and digest.

Citizen Santerre, military commandant of Paris, had ordered his men to
use their bayonets ruthlessly, and, to further overawe the populace,
he ordered a prolonged roll of drums, lest Déroulède took it into his
head to speak to the crowd.

But Déroulède had no such intention: he seemed chiefly concerned in
shielding Juliette from the cold; she had been made to sit in the cart
beside him, and he had taken off his coat, and was wrapping it round
her against the penetrating rain.

The eye-witnesses of these memorable events have declared that, at a
given moment, he looked up suddenly with a curious, eager expression
in his eyes, and then raised himself in the cart and seemed to be
trying to penetrate the gloom round him, as if in search of a face, or
perhaps a voice.

"_A la lanterne!  A la lanterne!_" was the continual hoarse  cry of
the mob.

Up to now, flanked in their rear by the outer walls of the Palais de
Justice, the soldiers had found it a fairly easy task to keep the
crowd at bay. But there came a time when the cart was bound to move
out into the open, in order to convey the prisoners along, by the Rue
du Palais, up to the Luxembourg Prison.

This task, however, had become more and more difficult every moment.
The people of Paris, who for two years had been told by its tyrants
that it was supreme lord of the universe, was mad with rage at seeing
its desires frustrated by a few soldiers.

The drums had been greeted by terrific yells, which effectually
drowned their roll; the first movement of the cart was hailed by a
veritable tumult.

Only the women who squatted round the gallows had not moved from their
position of vantage; one of these Mægæras was quietly readjusting the
rope, which had got out of place.

But all the men and some of the women were literally besieging the
cart, and threatening the soldiers, who stood between them and the
object of their fury.

It seemed as if nothing now could save Déroulède and Juliette from an
immediate and horrible death.

"_A mort!  A mort!  A la lanterne les traîtres!_"

Santerne himself, who had shouted himself hoarse, was at a loss what
to do. He had sent one man to the nearest cavalry barracks, but
reinforcements would still be some little time coming; whilst in the
meanwhile his men were getting exhausted, and the mob, more and more
excited, threatened to break through their line at every moment.

There was not another second to be lost.

Santerre was for letting the mob have its way, and he would willingly
have thrown it the prey for which it clamoured; but orders were
orders, and in the year I. of the Revolution it was not good to
disobey.

At this supreme moment of perplexity he suddenly felt a respectful
touch on his arm.

Close behind him a soldier of the National Guard--not one of his own
men--was standing at attention, and holding a small, folded paper in
his hand.

"Sent to you by the Minister of Justice," whispered the soldier
hurriedly. "The citizen-deputies have watched the tumult from the
Hall; they say, you must not lose an instant."

Santerre withdrew from the front rank, up against the side of the
cart, where a rough stable lantern had been fixed. He took the paper
from the soldier's hand, and, hastily tearing it open, he read it by
the dim light of the lantern.

As he read, his thick, coarse features expressed the keenest
satisfaction.

"You have two more men with you?" he asked quickly.

"Yes, citizen," replied the man, pointing towards his right; "and the
Citizen-Minister said you would give me two more."

"You'll take the prisoners quietly across to the Prison of the Temple
--you understand that?"

"Yes, citizen; Citizen Merlin has given me full instructions.  You can
have the cart drawn back a little more under the shadow of the
portico, where the prisoners can be made to alight; they can then
given into my charge. You in the meantime are to stay here with your
men, round the empty cart, as long as you can. Reinforcements have
been sent for, and must soon be here. When they arrive you are to move
along with the cart, as if you were making for the Luxembourg Prison.
This manoeuvre will give us time to deliver the prisoners safely at
the Temple."

The man spoke hurriedly and peremptorily, and Santerne was only too
ready to obey. He felt relieved at thought of reinforcements, and glad
to be rid of the responsibility of conducting such troublesome
prisoners.

The thick mist, which grew more and more dense, favoured the new
manoeuvre, and the constant roll of drums drowned the hastily given
orders.

The cart was drawn back into the deepest shadow of the great portico,
and whilst the mob were howling their loudest, and yelling out frantic
demands for the traitors, Déroulède and Juliette were summarily
ordered to step out of the cart. No one saw them, for the darkness
here was intense.

"Follow quietly!" whispered a raucous voice in their ears as they did
so, "or my orders are to shoot you where you stand."

But neither of them had any wish for resistance.  Juliette, cold and
numb, was clinging to Déroulède, who had placed a protecting arm round
her.

Santerne had told off two of his men to join the new escort of the
prisoners, and presently the small party, skirting the walls of the
Palais de Justice, began to walk rapidly away from the scene of the
riot.

Déroulède noted that some half-dozen men seemed to be surrounding him
and Juliette, but the drizzling rain blurred every outline. The
blackness of the night too had become absolutely dense, and in the
distance the cries of the populace grew more and more faint.





CHAPTER XXVIII

The unexpected.


The small party walked on in silence.  It seemed to consist of a very
few men of the National Guard, whom Santerne had placed under the
command of the soldier who had transmitted to him the orders of the
Citizen-Deputies.

Juliette and Déroulède both vaguely wondered whither they were being
led; to some other prison mayhap, away from the fury of the populace.
They were conscious of a sense of satisfaction at thought of being
freed from that pack of raging wild beasts.

Beyond that they cared nothing.  Both felt already the shadow of death
hovering over them. The supreme moment of their lives had come, and
had found them side by side.

What neither fear nor remorse, sorrow nor joy, could do, that the
great and mighty Shadow accomplished in a trice.

Juliette, looking death bravely in the face, held out her hand, and
sought that of the man she loved.

There was not one word spoken between them, not even a murmur.

Déroulède, with the unerring instinct of his own unselfish passion,
understood all that the tiny hand wished to convey to him.

In a moment everything was forgotten save the joy of this touch.
Death, or the fear of death, had ceased to exist. Life was beautiful,
and in the soul of these two human creatures there was perfect peace,
almost perfect happiness.

With one grasp of the hand they had sought and found one another's
soul. What mattered the yelling crowd, the noise and tumult of this
sordid world? They had found one another, and, hand-in-hand,
shoulder-to-shoulder, they had gone off wandering into the land of
dreams, where dwelt neither doubt nor treachery, where there was
nothing to forgive.

He no longer said: "She does not love me--would she have betrayed me
else?" He felt the clinging, trustful touch of her hand, and knew
that, with all her faults, her great sin and her lasting sorrow, her
woman's heart, Heaven's most priceless treasure, was indeed truly his.

And she knew that he had forgiven--nay, that he had naught to forgive
--for Love is sweet and tender, and judges not. Love is Love--whole,
trustful, passionate. Love is perfect understanding and perfect peace.

And so they followed their escort whithersoever it chose to lead them.

Their eyes wandered aimlessly over the mist-laden landscape of this
portion of deserted Paris. They had turned away from the river now,
and were following the Rue des Arts. Close by on the right was the
dismal little hostelry, "La Cruche Cassée," where Sir Percy Blakeney
lived. Déroulède, as they neared the place, caught himself vaguely
wondering what had become of his English friend.

But it would take more than the ingenuity of the Scarlet Pimpernel to
get two noted prisoners out of Paris to-day. Even if...

"Halt!"

The word of command rang out clearly and distinctly through the
rain-soaked atmosphere.

Déroulède threw up his head and listened.  Something strange and
unaccountable in that same word of command had struck his sensitive
ear.

Yet the party had halted, and there was a click as of bayonets or
muskets levelled ready to fire.

All had happened in less than a few seconds.  The next moment there
was a loud cry:

"_A moi,_ Déroulède! 'tis the Scarlet Pimpernel!"

A vigorous blow from an unseen hand had knocked down and extinguished
the nearest street lantern.

Déroulède felt that he and Juliette were being hastily dragged under
an adjoining doorway even as the cheery voice echoed along the narrow
street.

Half-a-dozen men were struggling below in the mud, and there was a
plentiful supply of honest English oaths. It looked as if the men of
the National Guard had fallen upon one another, and had it not been
for those same English oaths perhaps Déroulède and Juliette would have
been slower to understand.

"Well done, Tony!  Gadzooks, Ffoulkes, that was a smart bit of work!"

The lazy, pleasant voice was unmistakable, but, God in heaven! where
did it come from?

Of one thing there could be no doubt.  The two men despatched by
Santerne were lying disabled on the ground, whilst three other
soldiers were busy pinioning them with ropes.

What did it all mean?

"La, friend Déroulède! you had not thought, I trust, that I would
leave Mademoiselle Juliette in such a demmed, uncomfortable hole?"

And there, close beside Déroulède  and Juliette, stood the tall figure
of the Jacobin orator, the bloodthirsty Citizen Lenoir. The two young
people gazed and gazed, then looked again, dumfounded, hardly daring
to trust their vision, for through the grime-covered mask of the
gigantic coal-heaver a pair of merry blue eyes was regarding them with
lazy-amusement.

"La!  I do look a miserable object, I know," said the pseudo
coal-heaver at last, "but 'twas the only way to get those murderous
devils to do what I wanted. A thousand pardons, mademoiselle; 'twas I
brought you to such a terrible pass, but la! you are amongst friends
now. Will you deign to forgive me?"

Juliette looked up.  Her great, earnest eyes, now swimming in tears,
sought those of the brave man who had so nobly stood by her and the
man she loved.

"Blakeney..." began Déroulède.

But Sir Percy quickly interrupted him:

"Hush, man! we have but a few moments.  Remember your are in Paris
still, and the Lord only knows how we shall all get out of this
murderous city to-night. I have said that you and mademoiselle are
among friends. That is all for the moment. I had to get you together,
or I should have failed. I could only succeed by subjecting you and
mademoiselle to terrible indignities. Our League could plan but one
rescue, and I had to adopt the best means at my command to have you
condemned and led away together. Faith!" he added, with a pleasant
laugh, "my friend Tinville will not be pleased when he realises that
Citizen Lenoir has dragged the Citizen-Deputies by the nose."

Whilst he spoke he had led Déroulède and Juliette into a dark and
narrow room on the ground floor of the hostelry, and presently he
called loudly for Brogard, the host of this uninviting abode.

"Brogard!" shouted Sir Percy.  "Where is that ass Brogard?  La! man,"
he added as Citizen Brogard, obsequious and fussy, and with pockets
stuffed with English gold, came shuffling along, "where do you hide
your engaging countenance? Here! another length of rope for the
gallant soldiers. Bring them in here, then give them that potion down
their throats, as I have prescribed. Demm it! I wish we need not have
brought them along, but that devil Santerre might have been suspicious
else. They'll come to no harm, though, and can do us no mischief."

He prattled along merrily.  Innately kind and chivalrous, he wished to
give Déroulède and Juliette time to recover from their dazed surprise.

The transition from dull despair to buoyant hope had been so sudden:
it had all happened in less than three minutes.

The scuffle had been short and sudden outside.  The two soldiers of
Santerne had been taken completely unawares, and the three young
lieutenants of the Scarlet Pimpernel had fallen on them with such
vigour that they had hardly had time to utter a cry of "Help!"

Moreover, that cry would have been useless.  The night was dark and
wet, and those citizens who felt ready for excitement were busy
mobbing the Hall of Justice, a mile and a half away. One or two heads
had appeared at the small windows of the squalid houses opposite, out
it was too dark to see anything, and the scuffle had very quickly
subsided.

All was silent now in the Rue des Arts, and in the grimy coffee-room
of the Cruche Cassée two soldiers of the National Guard were lying
bound and gagged, whilst three others were gaily laughing, and wiping
their rain-soaked hand and faces.

In the midst of them all stood the tall, athletic figure of the bold
adventurer who had planned this impudent coup.

"La! we've got so far, friends,  haven't we?" he said cheerily, "and
now for the immediate future. We must all be out of Paris to-night, or
the guillotine for the lot of us to-morrow."

He spoke gaily, and with that pleasant drawl of his which was so well
known in the fashionable assemblies of London; but there was a ring of
earnestness in his voice, and his lieutenants looked up at him, ready
to obey him in all things, but aware that danger was looming
threateningly ahead.

Lord Anthony Dewhurst, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, and Lord Hastings, dressed
as soldiers of the National Guard, had played their part to
perfection. Lord Hastings had presented the order to Santerre, and the
three young bucks, at the word of command from their chief, had fallen
upon and overpowered the two men whom the commandant of Paris had
despatched to look after the prisoners.

So far all was well.  But how to get out of Paris?  Everyone looked to
the Scarlet Pimpernel for guidance.

Sir Percy now turned to Juliette, and with the consummate grace which
the elaborate etiquette of the times demanded, he made her a courtly
bow.

"Mademoiselle de Marny," he said, "allow me to conduct you to a room,
which though unworthy of your presence will, nevertheless, enable you
to rest quietly for a few minutes, whilst I give my friend Déroulède
further advice and instructions. In the room you will find a disguise,
which I pray you to don with all haste. La! they are filthy rags, I
own, but your life and--and ours depend upon your help."

Gallantly he kissed the tips of her fingers, and opened the door of an
adjoining room to enable her to pass through; then he stood aside, so
that her final look, as she went, might be for Déroulède.

As soon as the door had closed upon her he once more turned to the
men.

"Those uniforms will not do now," he said peremptorily; "there are
bundles of abominable clothes here, Tony. Will you all don them as
quickly as you can? We must all look as filthy a band of
_sansculottes_ to-night as ever walked the streets of Paris."

His lazy drawl had deserted him now.  He was the man of action and of
thought, the bold adventurer who held the lives of his friends in the
hollow of his hand.

The four men hastily obeyed.  Lord Anthony Dewhurst--one of the most
elegant dandies of London society--had brought forth from a dank
cupboard a bundle of clothes, mere rags, filthy but useful.

Within ten minutes the change was accomplished, and four dirty,
slouchy figures stood confronting their chief.

"That's capital!" said Sir Percy merrily.

"Now for Mademoiselle de Marny."

Hardly had he spoken when the door of the adjoining room was pushed
open, and a horrible apparition stood before the men. A woman in
filthy bodice and skirt, with face covered in grime, her yellow hair,
matted and greasy, thrust under a dirty and crumpled cap.

A shout of rapturous delight greeted this uncanny apparition.

Juliette, like the true woman she was, had found all her energy and
spirits now that she felt that she had an important part to play. She
woke from her dream to realise that noble friends had risked their
lives for the man she loved and for her.

Of herself she did not think; she only remembered that her presence of
mind, her physical and mental strength, would be needed to carry the
rescue to a successful end.

Therefore with the rags of a Paris _tricotteuse_ she had also donned
her personality. She played her part valiantly, and one look at the
perfection of her disguise was sufficient to assure the leader of this
band of heroes that his instructions would be carried through to the
letter.

Déroulède too now looked the ragged _sansculotte_ to the life, with
bare and muddy feet, frayed breeches, and shabby, black-shag spencer.
The four men stood waiting together with Juliette, whilst Sir Percy
gave them his final instructions.

"We'll mix with the crowd," he said, "and do all that the crowd does.
It is for us to see that that unruly crowd does what we want.
Mademoiselle de Marny, a thousand congratulations. I entreat you to
take hold of my friend Déroulède's hand, and not to let go of it, on
any pretext whatever. La! not a difficult task, I ween," he added,
with his genial smile; "and yours, Déroulède, is equally easy. I
enjoin you to take charge of Mademoiselle Juliette, and on no account
to leave her side until we are out of Paris."

"Out of Paris!" echoed Déroulède, with a troubled sigh.

"Aye!" rejoined Sir Percy boldly; "out of Paris! with a howling mob at
our heels causing the authorities to take double precautions. And
above all remember, friends, that our rallying cry is the shrill call
of the sea-mew thrice repeated. Follow it until you are outside the
gates of Paris. Once there, listen for it again; it will lead you to
freedom and safety at last. Aye! Outside Paris, by the grace of God."

The hearts of his hearers thrilled as they heard him.  Who could help
but follow this brave and gallant adventurer, with the magic voice and
the noble bearing?

"And now _en route_!" said Blakeney finally, "that ass Santerre will
have dispersed the pack of yelling hyenas with his cavalry by now.
They'll to the Temple prison to find their prey; we'll in their wake.
_A moi,_ friends! and remember the sea-gull's cry."

Déroulède drew Juliette's hand in his.

"We are ready," he said; "and God bless the Scarlet Pimpernel."

Then the five men, with Juliette in their midst, went out into the
street once more.





CHAPTER XXIX

Père Lachaise.


It was not difficult to guess which way the crowd had gone; yells,
hoots, and hoarse cries could be heard from the farther side of the
river.

Citizen Santerne had been unable to keep the mob back until the
arrival of the cavalry reinforcements. Within five minutes of the
abduction of Déroulède and Juliette the crowd had broken through the
line of soldiers, and had stormed the cart, only to find it empty, and
the prey dissappeared.

"They are safe in the Temple by now!" shouted Santerne hoarsely, in
savage triumph at seeing them all baffled.

At first it seemed as if the wrath of the infuriated populace, fooled
in its lust for vengeance, would vent itself against the commandant of
Paris and his soldiers; for a moment even Santerre's ruddy cheeks had
paled at the sudden vision of this unlooked for danger.

Then just as suddenly the cry was raised.

"To the Temple!"

"To the Temple!  To the Temple!" came in ready response.

The cry was soon taken up by the entire crowd, and in less than two
minutes the purlieus of the Hall of Justice were deserted, and the
Pont St Michel, then the Cité and the Pont au Change, swarmed with the
rioters. Thence along the north bank of the river, and up the Rue du
Temple, the people still yelling, muttering, singing the "_Ça ira,_"
and shouting: "_A la lanterne! A la lanterne!_"

Sir Percy Blakeney and his little band of followers had found the Pont
Neuf and the adjoining streets practically deserted. A few stragglers
from the crowd, soaked through with the rain, their enthusiasm damped,
and their throats choked with the mist, were sulkily returning to
their homes.

The desultory group of six _sansculottes_ attracted little or no
attention, and Sir Percy boldly challenged every passer-by.

"The way to the Rue du Temple, citizen?" he asked once or twice, or:

"Have they hung the traitor yet?  Can you tell me, citizeness?"

A grunt or an oath were the usual replies, but no one took any further
notice of the gigantic coal-heaver and his ragged friends.

At the corner of one of the cross streets, between the Rue du Temple
and the Rue des Archives, Sir Percy Blakeney suddenly turned to his
followers:

"We are close to the rabble now," he said in a whisper, and speaking
in English; "do you all follow the nearest stragglers, and get as soon
as possible into the thickest of the crowd. We'll meet again outside
the prison--and remember the sea-gull's cry."

He did not wait for an answer, and presently disappeared in the mist.

Already a few stragglers, hangers-on of the multitude, were gradually
coming into view, and the yells could be distinctly heard. The mob had
evidently assembled in the great square outside the prison, and was
loudly demanding the object of its wrath.

The moment for cool-headed action was at hand.  The Scarlet Pimpernel
had planned the whole thing, but it was for his followers and for
those, whom he was endeavouring to rescue from certain death, to help
him heart and soul.

Déroulède's grasp tightened on Juliette's little hand.

"Are you frightened, my beloved?" he whispered.

"Not whilst you are near me," she murmured in reply.

A few more minutes' walk up the Rue des Archives and they were in the
thick of the crowd. Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, Lord Anthony Dewhurst, and
Lord Hastings, the three Englishmen, were in front; Déroulède and
Juliette immediately behind them.

The mob itself now carried them along.  A motley throng they were,
soaked through with the rain, drunk with their own baffled rage, and
with the brandy which they had imbibed.

Everyone was shouting; the women louder than the rest; one of them was
dragging the length of rope, which might still be useful.

"_Ça ira! ça ira!  A la lanterne!  A la lanterne! les traîtres!_"

And Déroulède, holding Juliette by the hand, shouted lustily with
them:

"_Ça ira!_"

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes turned, and laughed.  It was rare sport for these
young bucks, and they all entered into the spirit of the situation.
They all shouted "_A la lanterne!_" egging and encouraging those
around them.

Déroulède and Juliette felt the intoxication of the adventure.  They
were drunk with the joy of their reunion, and seized with the wild,
mad, passionate desire for freedom and for life... Life and love!

So they pushed and jostled on in the mud, followed the crowd, sang and
yelled louder than any of them. Was not that very crowd the great
bulwark of their safety?

As well have sought for the proverbial needle in the haystack, as for
two escaped prisoners in this mad, heaving throng.

The large open space in front of the Temple Prison looked like one
great, seething, black mass.

The darkness was almost thick here, the ground like a morass, with
inches of clayey mud, which stuck to everything, whilst the sparse
lanterns, hung to the prison walls and beneath the portico, threw
practically no light into the square.

As the little band, composed of the three Englishmen, and of
Déroulède, holding Juliette by the hand, emerged into the open space,
they heard a strident cry, like that of a sea-mew thrice repeated, and
a hoarse voice shouting from out the darkness:

"_Ma foi!_  I'll not believe that the prisoners are in the Temple now!
It is my belief, friends, citizens, that we have been fooled once
more!"

The voice, with its strange, unaccountable accent, which seemed to
belong to no province of France, dominated the almost deafening noise;
it penetrated through, even into the brandy-soddened minds of the
multitude, for the suggestion was received with renewed shouts of the
wildest wrath.

Like one great, living, seething mass the crowd literally bore down
upon the huge and frowning prison. Pushing, jostling, yelling, the
women screaming, the men cursing, it seemed as if that awesome day--
the 14th of July--was to have its sanguinary counterpart to-night, as
if the Temple were destined to share the fate of the Bastille.

Obedient to their leader's orders the three young Englishmen remained
in the thick of the crowd: together wit Déroulède they contrived to
form a sturdy rampart round Juliette, effectually protecting her
against rough buffetings.

On their right, towards the direction of Ménilmontant, the sea-mew's
cry at intervals gave the strength and courage.

The foremost rank of the crowd had reached the portico of the
building, and, with howls and snatches of their gutter song, were
loudly clamouring for the guardian of the grim prison.

No one appeared; the great gates with their massive bars and hinges
remained silent and defiant.

The crowd was becoming dangerous: whispers of the victory of the
Bastille, five years ago, engendered thoughts of pillage and of arson.

Then the strident voice was heard again:

"_Pardi!_ the prisoners are not in the Temple!  The dolts have allowed
them to escape, and now are afraid of the wrath of the people!"

It was strange how easily the mob assimilated this new idea.  Perhaps
the dark, frowning block of massive buildings had overawed them with
its peaceful strength, perhaps the dripping rain and oozing clay had
damped their desire for an immediate storming of the grim citadel;
perhaps it was merely the human characteristic of a wish for something
new, something unexpected.

Be that as it may, the cry was certainly taken up with marvellous,
quick-change rapididy.

"The prisoners have escaped!  The prisoners have escaped!"

Some were for proceeding with the storming of the Temple, but they
were in the minority. All along, the crowd had been more inclined for
private revenge than for martial deeds of valour; the Bastille had
been taken by daylight; the effort might not have been so successful
on a pitch-black night such as this, when one could not see one's hand
before one's eyes, and the drizzling rain went through to the marrow.

"They've got through one of the barriers by now!" suggested the same
voice from out the darkness.

"The barriers--the barriers!" came in sheeplike echo from the crowd.

The little group of fugitives and their friends tightened their hold
on one another.

They had understood at last.

"It is for us to see that the crowd does what we want," the Scarlet
Pimpernel had said.

He wanted it to take him and his friends out of Paris, and, by God! he
was like to succeed.

Juliette's heart within her beat almost to choking; her strong little
hand gripped Déroulède's fingers with the wild strength of a mad
exultation.

Next to the man to whom she had given her love and her very soul she
admired and looked up to the remarkable and noble adventurer, the
high-born and exquisite dandy, who with grime-covered face, and strong
limbs encased in filthy clothes, was playing the most glorious part
ever enacted upon the stage.

"To the barriers--to the barriers!"

Like a herd of wild horses, driven by the whip of the herdsmen, the
mob began to scatter in all directions. Not knowing what it wanted,
not knowing what it would find, half forgetting the very cause and
object of its wrath, it made one gigantic rush for the gates of the
great city through which the prisoners were supposed to have escaped.

The three Englishmen and Déroulède, with Juliette well protected in
their midst, had not joined the general onrush as yet. The crowd in
the open place was still very thick, the outward-branching streets
were very narrow: through these the multitude, scampering, hurrying,
scurrying, like a human torrent let out of a whirlpool, rushed down
headlong towards the barriers.

Up the Rue Turbigo to the Belleville gate, the Rue des Filles, and the
Rue du Chemin Vert, towards Popincourt, they ran, knocking each other
down, jostling the weaker ones on one side, trampling others
underfoot. They were all rough, coarse creatures, accustomed to these
wild bousculades, ready to pick themselves up, again after any number
of falls; whilst the mud was slimy and soft to tumble on, and those
who did the trampling had no shoes on their feet.

They rushed out from the dark, open place, these creatures of the
night, into streets darker still.

On they ran--on! on!--now in thick, heaving masses, anon in loose,
straggling groups--some north, some south, some east, some west.

But it was from the east that came the seagull's cry.

The little band rand boldly towards the east.  Down the Rue de la
République they followed their leader's call. The crowd was very thick
here; the Barrière Ménilmontant was close by, and beyond it there was
the cemetery of Père Lachaise. It was the nearest gate to the Temple
Prison, and the mob wanted to be up and doing, not to spend too much
time running along the muddy streets and getting wet and cold, but to
repeat the glorious exploits of the 14th of July, and capture the
barriers of Paris by force of will rather than force of arms.

In this rushing mob the four men, with Juliette in their midst,
remained quite unchallenged, mere units in an unruly crowd.

In a quarter of an hour Ménilmontant was reached.

The great gates of the city were well guarded by detachments of the
National Guard, each under command of an officer. Twenty strong at
most--what was that against such a throng?

Who had ever dreamed of Paris being stormed from within?

At every gate to the north and east of the city there was now a rabble
some four or five thousand strong, wanting it knew not what. Everyone
had forgotten what it was that caused him or her to rush on so
blindly, so madly, towards the nearest barrier.

But everyone knew that he or she wanted to get through that barrier,
to attack the soldiery, to knock down the captain of the Guard.

And with a wild cry every city gate was stormed.

Like one huge wind-tossed wave, the populace on that memorable night
of Fructidor, broke against the cordon of soldiery, that vainly tried
to keep it back. Men and women, drunk with brandy and exultation,
shouted "_Quatorze Juillet!_" and amidst curses and threats demanded
the opening of the gates.

The people of France _would_ have its will.

Was it not the supreme lord an ruler of the land, the arbiter of the
Fate of this great, beautiful, and maddened country?

The National Guard was powerless; the officers in command could offer
but feeble resistance.

The desultory fire, which in the darkness and the pouring rain did
very little harm, had the effect of further infuriating the mob.

The drizzle had turned to a deluge, a veritable heavy summer downpour,
with occasional distant claps of thunder and incessant sheet-lightning,
which ever and anon illumined with its weird, fantastic flash this
heaving throng, these begrimed faces, crowned with red caps of
Liberty, these witchlike female creatures with wet, straggly hair and
gaunt, menacing arms.

Within half-an-hour the people of Paris was outside its own gates.

Victory was complete.  The Guard did not resist; the officers had
surrendered; the great and mighty rabble had had its way.

Exultant, it swarmed around the fortifications and along the _terrains
vauges_ which it had conquered by its will.

But the downpour was continuous, and with victory came satiety--
satiety coupled with wet skins, muddy feet, tired, wearied bodies, and
throats parched with continual shouting.

At Ménilmontant, where the crowd had been thickest, the tempers
highest, and the yells most strident, there now stretched before this
tired, excited throng, the peaceful vastness of the cemetery of Père
Lachaise.

The great alleys of sombre monuments, the weird cedars with their
fantastic branches, like arms of a hundred ghosts, quelled and awed
these hooting masses of degraded humanity.

The silent majesty of this city of the dead seemed to frown with
withering scorn on the passions of the sister city.

Instinctively the rabble was cowed.  The cemetery looked dark, dismal,
and deserted. The flashed of lightning seemed to reveal ghostlike
processions of the departed heroes of France, wandering silently
amidst the tombs.

And the populace turned with a shudder away from this vast place of
eternal peace.

From within the cemetery gates, there was suddenly heard the sound of
a sea-mew calling thrice to its mate. And five dark figures, wrapped
in cloaks, gradually detached themselves from the throng, and one by
one slipped into the grounds of Père Lachaise through that break in
the wall, which is quite close to the main entrance.

Once more the sea-gull's cry.

Those in the crowd who heard it, shivered beneath their dripping
clothes. They thought it was a soul in pain risen from one of the
graves, and some of the women, forgetting the last few years of
godlessness, hastily crossed themselves, and muttered an invocation to
the Virgin Mary.

Within the gates all was silent and at peace.  The sodden earth gave
forth no echo of the muffled footsteps, which slowly crept towards the
massive block of stone, which covers the graves of the immortal lovers
--Abélard and Heloïse.





CHAPTER XXX

Conclusion.


There is but little else to record.

History has told us how, shamefaced, tired, dripping, the great,
all-powerful people of Paris quietly slunk back to their homes, even
before the first cock-crow in the villages beyond the gates, acclaimed
the pale streak of dawn.

But long before that, even before the church bells of the great city
had tolled the midnight hour, Sir Percy Blakeney and his little band
of followers had reached the little tavern which stand close to the
farthest gate of Père Lachaise.

Without a word, like six silent ghosts, they had traversed the vast
cemetery, and reached the quiet hostelry, where the sounds of the
seething revolution only came, attenuated by their passage through the
peaceful city of the dead.

English gold had easily purchased silence and good will from the
half-starved keeper of this wayside inn. A huge travelling chaise
already stood in readiness, and four good Flanders horses had been
pawing the ground impatiently for the past half hour. From the window
of the chaise old Pétronelle's face, wet with anxious tears, was
peering anxiously.

A cry of joy and surprise escaped Déroulède and Juliette, and both
turned, with a feeling akin to awe, towards the wonderful man who had
planned and carried through this bold adventure.

"Nay, my friend," said Sir Percy, speaking more especially to
Déroulède; "if you only knew how simple it all was! Gold can do so
many things, and my only merit seems to be the possession of plenty of
that commodity. You told me yourself how you had provided for old
Pétronelle. Under the most solemn assurance that she would meet her
young mistress here, I got her to leave Paris. She came out most
bravely this morning in one of the market carts. She is so obviously a
woman of the people, that no one suspected her. As for the worthy
couple who keep this wayside hostel, they have been well paid, and
money soon procures a chaise and horses. My English friends and I, we
have our own passports, and one for Mademoiselle Juliette, who must
travel as an English lady, with her old nurse, Pétronelle. There are
some decent clothes in readiness for us all in the inn. A quarter of
an hour in which to don them and we must on our way. You can use your
own passport, of course; your arrest has been so very sudden that it
has not yet been cancelled, and we have an eight hours' start of our
enemies. They'll wake up to-morrow morning, begad! and find that you
have slipped through their fingers."

He spoke with easy carelessness, and that slow drawl of his, as if he
were talking airy nothings in a London drawing-room, instead of
recounting the most daring, most colossal piece of effrontery the
adventurous brain of man could conceive.

Déroulède could say nothing.  His own noble heart was too full of
gratitude towards his friend to express it all in a few words.

And time, of course, was precious.

Within the prescribed quarter of an hour the little band of heroes had
doffed their grimy, ragged clothes, and now appeared dressed as
respectable bourgeois of Paris _en route_ for the country. Sir Percy
Blakeney had donned the livery of a coachman of a well-to-do house,
whilst Lord Anthony Dewhurst wore that of an English lacquey.

Five minutes later Déroulède had lifted Juliette into the travelling
chaise, and in spite of fatigue, of anxiety, and emotion, it was
immeasurable happiness to feel her arm encircling his shoulders in
perfect joy and trust.

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Hastings joined them inside the chaise;
Lord Anthony sat next to Sir Percy on the box.

And whilst the crowd of Paris was still wondering why it had stormed
the gates of the city, the escaped prisoners were borne along the
muddy roads of France at breakneck speed northward to the coast.

Sir Percy Blakeney held the reins himself.  With his noble heart full
of joy, the gallant adventurer himself drove his friends to safety.

They had an eight hours' start, and the league of the Scarlet
Pimpernel had done its work thoroughly: well provided with passports,
and with relays awaiting them at every station of fifty miles or so,
the journey, though wearisome was free from further adventure.

At Le Havre the little party embarked on board Sir Percy Blakeney's
yacht the _Day dream,_ where they met Madame Déroulède and Anne Mie.

The two ladies, acting under the instructions of Sir Percy, had as
originally arranged, pursued their journey northwards, to the populous
seaport town.

Anne Mie's first meeting with Juliette was intensely pathetic.  The
poor little cripple had spent the last few days in an agony of
remorse, whilst the heavy travelling chaise bore her farther and
farther away from Paris.

She thought Juliette dead, and Paul a prey to despair, and her tender
soul ached when she remembered that it was she who had given the final
deadly stab to the heart of the man she loved.

Hers was the nature born to abnegation: aye! and one destined to find
bliss therein. And when one glance in Paul Déroulède's face told her
that she was forgiven, her cup of joy at seeing him happy beside his
beloved, was unalloyed with any bitterness.

                *   *   *   *   *

It was in the beautiful, rosy dawn of one of the last days of that
memorable Fructidor, when Juliette and Paul Déroulède, standing on
the deck of the _Daydream,_ saw the shores of France gradually receding
from their view.

Déroulède's arm was round his beloved, her golden hair, fanned by the
breeze, brushed lightly against his cheek.

"Madonna!" he murmured.

She turned her head to him.  It was the first time that they were
quite alone, the first time that all thought of danger had become a
mere dream.

What had the future in store for them, in that beautiful, strange land
to which the graceful yacht was swiftly bearing them?

England, the land of freedom, would shelter their happiness and their
joy; and they looked out towards the North, where lay, still hidden in
the arms of the distant horizon, the white cliffs of Albion, whilst
the mist even now was wrapping it its obliterating embrace the shores
of the land where they had both suffered, where they had both learned
to love.

He took her in his arms.

"My wife!" he whispered.

The rosy light touched her golden hair; he raised her face to his, and
soul met soul in one long, passionate kiss.



THE END





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