Part 2 out of 5
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
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.
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
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.
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
"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, 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."
"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! 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
"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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"What are they?"
"Different schemes I have drawn up, in case my original plan should
"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
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
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."
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
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
"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!"
"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
Déroulède felt this magnetism, and therefore did not resent the
implied suggestion, anent the saint whom he was still content to
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
"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."
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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?"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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
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.
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
This is the latest invention for securing the safety of this one and
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
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
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.
"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.
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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.
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
"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?"
"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
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
"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."
"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
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
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!"
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
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
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
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
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
"Himself, Citizen-Deputy," rejoined the latter, with a sneer, "at your
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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."