I Will Repay! by Baroness Orczy
Prologue Part II
Paris: 1793 -
Chapter IV: The
Chapter V: A Day
In the Woods
Chapter VI: The
Chapter VII: A
Chapter XII: The
Chapter XIV: A
Chapter XX: The
Chapter XXI: A
The Close of Day
The Trial of
Chapter XXV: The
Prologue: Paris: 1783
"Coward! Coward! Coward!"
The words rang out, clear, strident, passionate, in a crescendo of
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 hands 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
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.
Concilation 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 an 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
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
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 blazon 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
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 realized 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 organizer of the tragic farce about
to be enacted on the parquet floor of the gaming saloon.
He looked about the room for a while, scrutinizing 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
"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, scrutinizing 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
"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 apologize?" 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
"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 Marny 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
De Marny came of a race that had wielded the sword for 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
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
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
"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 apologize to a
noble and virtuous woman whom you have outraged—now—at once—on your
"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. Every one 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.
Every one 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 brilliant
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 those mad,
unguarded moments, he seemed literally to throw himself upon
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 realized
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
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
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.
Prologue Part 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
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 characterized 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 brilliant, 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, an 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 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:
thefootsteps 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
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
"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 father'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 her
nurse's arm, and before Pétronelle could prevent her, she had run out
of the room, straight across the dark landing to a large panelled door
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
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 ghost-like in the vast apartments of the princely
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
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 those two silent figures: the living and the
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 fair fight, M. le Duc," replied the young Marquis, awed
in spite of all his frivolity, his lightheartedness, 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
"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 lackeys, 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
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?"
"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 realize. Madness was a word that
had only a vague meaning for her. Though she did not quite 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
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, helpless, 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?"
"That you will avenge your brother's death on his murderer?"
"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
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
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
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 exultation, 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."
"Before the face of Almighty God, who sees and hears me—"
"Before the face of Almighty God, who sees and hears me," repeated
"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
"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
He called for his valet, and allowed himself quietly to be put to
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 Chalier, 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 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
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 traditions, and the annihilation of past
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 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.
Every one 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 downt his
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
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
"Ah! voyons l'aristo!" they shouted every time a man in decent
clothes, a woman with tidy cap and apron, passed swiftly down the
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 revolutionized 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 would 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
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
"Let her pass? Let her pass? Ho! ho! ho!" laughed the old woman,
turning to the nearest group of idlers, and apostrophizing 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
single-handed against 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
"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
Suddenly a miserable harridan struck her straight in the face, with
hard, grimy fist, and a long shout of exultation greeted this monstrous
Then only did the girl seem to lose her self-control.
"À moi," she shouted loudly, whilst hammering with both hands
against the massive doorway. "À moi! Murder! Murder! Citoyen Déroulède,
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 next 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 shouted in her ears like the shrieks of
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
"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 arm-chair:
"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
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
arm-chair. 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
protégée, 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
brother's 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
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. Every
one remembers the Thermidor massacres, and the thirty-four nuns, all
daughters of ancient families of France, who went so cheerfully to the
Juliette was one of those who escaped condemnation. How or why, she
herself could not have told. She was still very young, and still a
postulent; 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
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 than is noble, high or
She was not twenty when the feeble vacillating monarch and his
imperious escort 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-eyes Charlotte, who had committed 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
"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,
"I killed Marat!"
And there in the special place 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
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.
Every one round Juliette listened as he spoke: "It is Citoyen
Déroulède!" whispered the blood-thirsty Amazons, who sat knitting in
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 were talking loudly.
Even Charlotte was almost forgotten whilst Déroulède talked. He had a
fine voice, of strong calibre, which echoed powerfully through the
He was rather short, but broad-shouldered and well knit, with an
expressive hand, which looked slender and delicate below the fine lace
Charlotte Corday was condemned. All Déroulède's eloquence could not
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 herr
own intellectual and moral resources.
What scenes! Great God!
And now to wait for an opportunity! Charlotte Corday, the
half-educated little 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
slightlydeformed: 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 do 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
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
"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 scrutinized 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 emphasized 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
The time before the evening meal slipped by like a dream-hour for
She had lived so much alone, had led such an introspective life,
that she had hardly realized 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
After the first casual greetings with Juliette he had continued a
discussion with his mother, which the young girl's entrance had
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
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
"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 recognized
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 realized 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
He bowed to 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
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 drawn 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
"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
She did not understand that in the simplicity of his heart he only
wished to make amends. The quarrel wiith 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
"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
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 had 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
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, illuminating 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
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,
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 hazelnut 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 land 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 some one there to appreciate the
charm of the : woods, the beauty of that blue sky peeping through the
tangled foliage of the honeysuckle-covered trees. There was some one
to talk to, some one 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
Suresnes, and meant to wander homewards through the woods. It
frightened me, for you will have to go through the north-west barrier,
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
"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
"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
"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? 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
"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
"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 realize 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 realized 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
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
Suresnes, towards great, anarchic, death-dealing 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
"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 every one did in these days, she
cast a rapid glance behind her.
"You need not be afraid," he said; "there is no one here but
"Oh! I echo your words. Poor Marie Antoinette!"
"You pity her?"
"How can I help it?"
"But you are of 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
She looked at him with renewed curiosity in her gaze.
How strange were men in these days! Paul Déroulède, the republican,
the recognized 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.
They 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
agonized memory of the past. But as they crossed the bridge she
recognized : all round her the massive towers of the great city: Notre
Dame, the graceful 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
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 splashing 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 not 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 Day Dream 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."
"Then why did you come?"
"To—What shall I say, my friend?" rejoined Sir Percy Blakeney, 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
"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 Day Dream, 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, every 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 some
one over the water 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 scrutinizingly 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 have I realized 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 unrecognized—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
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
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 musling frock
that at sight of her the tension in Déroulède's face seemed to relax.
Instinctively he had thrown the papers back into his 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.":
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
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 a while. 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, an
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 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
Blakeney's words were the first to stir in his heart a desire for
something beyond that quasi-mediæval worship, something weaker and yet
infinitely stronger, something more earthly 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
"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 sighs 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; an
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,
martyrized, 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 those inspiring 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 Megæras who daily shriek round
the guillotine—are plying with 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 mediæval 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
"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 though 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
astanding 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
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 Révolution, 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 agonized 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 little 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, tradition, 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
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 realized 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, came 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 to 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 lips 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
"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: no 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
A wave of morbid introspection swept over her soul. She realized 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, tradition, 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 Almighty 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 Judgement 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 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, agonizing France. She
had no one to help her, no one to comfort her. That very peaceful,
comtemplative 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 which 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 committed 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 an 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. That was perhaps
the most bitter moment of this awful soul of 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 child-like, 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, tidies 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 that 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 this assertion, papers and
plans, are still in the house of the Citizen-Deputy Déroulède.
This statement is made by one who knows.
II. 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 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 Luxembourd 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.
Every one 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 are 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
A great poster glued to the wall bears the words:
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
Henceforth every one 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 man 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 agonized 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 mouth-like 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 every 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 agonizing, 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 analyze 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 immortalize 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 Megæras and
their relentless wheel.
At length silence and loneliness became unendurable. She called to
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 loath 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
"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
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 a 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 fom
above had remained silent. Weak, miserable, cringing, the human soul,
when torn with earthly passion, must look to its own strength for the
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 life-long 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
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 for 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 palns 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 God-speed, mademoiselle?" he repeated gently.
"God-speed?" 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 Vendémaire. I shall hope to return before the
equinox, but—who can tell?"
"In any case then, Citoyen Déroulède, the farewell I bid you tonight
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 than 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 is 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 you 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 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 traditions, 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
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 ditty
over her work in the kitchen, there had seemed 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
Merlin's Law of the Suspect was in full operation. Some one 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
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 tumbril, which
bore them 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 letter-case, and went to the
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 recognized the foremost
"Himself, Citizen-Deputy," rejoined the latter, with a sneer, "at
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 fellow-men, 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
Sansculottism, the downward levelling of his fellow-men 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
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 privelege 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 minute 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
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
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 next 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 brilliant 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—"Citizeness Juliette Marny. I know that it is useless, under
these circumstances, to ask for consideration for a woman, but I pray
you to remember, so 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 brilliant 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
domiciliary 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 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
"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. Among 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
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 felt 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.
That 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 foul-mouthed creature in the face.
But he submitted, and stood impassive 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 healthy 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
sent by Heaven to gladden his heart and to elevate his every 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 on 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
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
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
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
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 hid 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
At any rate, by remaining where she was, by leaving the events to
shape themselves, discovery was absolutely certain. She chose to take
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
thick 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's 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-coloured
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
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."
"Yes; about me."
"My treasure, my jewel," exclaimed Pétronelle in alarm, "have those
"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
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's 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 proofs 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
This sop would be Juliette, the denunciator, instead of Déroulède
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 her
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,
"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
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 he 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
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 made 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
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
still he worshipped her, and gazed upon her as upon a divinity.
She sat bold 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 of 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 of 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
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
She sat and listened, whilst all around her was still. Madame
Déroulède, at the farther end of the room, was softly muttering a few
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
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 ran 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 citizenness, 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
"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."
"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."
"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.
"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
"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 recognize the
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 had 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 as 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
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
recognize 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
"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 armchair, 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
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, tradition 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
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 appaling crash, and now that hideous death-like 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 realized 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
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
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, agonized 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
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 evil-mouthed 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," 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, wich 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
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.
"À 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!"
"À la lanterne! À 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
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
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
"À 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 realized 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 of 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 once 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.
"Yes; they are coming to take me away. I suppose they did not wish
to do it in the presence of M. 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.
"I suppose you know where they were found?"
She nodded quietly in reply.
"What were these papers which you burnt?"
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?"
"You had more than one lover, then?"
He laughed, and a hideous leer seemed further to distort his ugly
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
"Was that it?" he repeated, suddenly seizing one of her wrists, and
giving it a 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?"
"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 some one 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?"
"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
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
Anne Mie could only nod; she could not speak, for her tears were
"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
Juliette was alone at last—that is to say, comparatively alone, for
there were too many aristocrats, too many criminals and traitors, in
the prisons of Paris now, to allow of any seclusion for 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 recognized 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
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
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 little 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
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
Therefore the past few moments were not wholly hers. She had the
right 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—religion of
superstition and of false ideals—had blinded her, and dragged her into
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:
"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
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:
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 questions 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
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
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.
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 some one 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
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
"Gone? Who? Where?" queried Déroulède rapidly, an icy feeling of
terror gripping him by the heartstrings.
"Juliette has gone," replied Anne Mie; "those awful brutes took her
"Directly after you left. That man Merlin found some ashes and
scraps of paper in her room—"
"Yes; and a torn letter-case."
"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
"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 for 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.
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
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
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
realize 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 the 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
notunderstand 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
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
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
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 of 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. Vidocq.
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
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
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
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 its narrow, cracked window-panes, which let in but an
infinitesimal fraction of air, and that of the foulest, most
The floor was of planks roughly put together; now they were
worm-eaten, bare, save for a think 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
Marat, founder of the organization, had been murdered by a girl's
hand; but Chardon, 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
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 friends 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
And Merlin had come back empty-handed.
The arrest of a female aristo—the probably 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 realized 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 recognized 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 this
interesting operation, gave forth his views on the broad principles of
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
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 emphasizing the
appellation which had fallen into complete disuse in these days of
"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 for Déroulède's downfall, were ready to exult over that
"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 Westermand and Brunet and Beauharnais for having failed and
failed and failed?
And now it was his turn.
These bloodthirsty jackals had been cheated of their prey; they
would tear him to pieces in compensation for their loss.
"How could I tell?" he murmured roughly, "the woman had denounced
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
The giant had pushed the wine cask aside, it rolled away from under
him, and in the fullness of his contempt for Merlin and his importance,
he stood up before them all, strong in his indictment against
"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 burnt 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 his
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, gutteral 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 aught 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 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
"Ay, ay!" came from every hoarse, parched throat; and twelve gaunt
hands 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 agreeably 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 loath to give up his position as
leader of these extremists—"I suppose, Citizen Lenoir, that you are in
a 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
"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 coal-heaver, 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 every one 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
"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."
"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 or brandy to ease his parched throat.
A veritable chorus of enthusiasm greeted the end of his long
peroration. The Machiavellian scheme, almost devilish in its cunning,
in its subtle knowledge of human nature and of the heart-strings of a
noble organization 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
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. Every one there was eager and enthusiastic
for the fray. Lenoir, having spoken at such length, had now become
silent, but every one 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 bade 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 echoes 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 a 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 or 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
He paused, and once more every one nodded approval.
"Yes; he is dangerous. We'll leave him in peace to-morrow, but
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
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 Pairs 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 Antony 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
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 heartbroken 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
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 becamse 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 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 handed 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
Then began Déroulède's weary quest through those twelve prisons of
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 beneficient 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
But the Citizen-Deputy was allowed to look for rooms of the Temple,
to the vast ball-rooms 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 their snow-white 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
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,
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, debonair,
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
"And I fear me that she has placed herself beyond our reach," said
"You know that she is in the Luxembourg Prison?" queried the
"I guessed it, but could find no proof."
"And 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
"Yet she betrayed you," he said tenatively.
"And to atone for that sin—an oath, mind you, friend, sworn to her
father—she is ready to give her life for me."
"And you are prepared to forgive?"
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
"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
"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; an 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
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 Prosecutor to mop his high, bony cranium
before he 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
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 indefensive, 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
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
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 de
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
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 many 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 mediæval 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 Révolutionnaire. It is their privelege, almost their duty, as
representatives of the people, to see that the sittings are properly
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 every one 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 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 room.
"Tiens! Papa Déroulède!" she says, pointing an attenuated little
finger across at him, and turning eagerly to those around her, her eyes
dilating in wistful 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 agonized misery as he responds to the greeting of the
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 de Tribunal
Révolutionnaire, under date 25th Fructidor, year II. of the
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 Prosecutor.
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 prisons 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
All day he had waited for this awful moment, forgetting his own
misery, his own agonized feeling of an irretrievable loss, in the
horrible thought of what she would endure, what she would
think, when first she realized 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 suuspected 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
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 and 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 against you?"
Jeers, shouts, laughter, and curses greeted this speech of the
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 fingernails into
his flesh, trying by physical pain to drown the sufferings from his
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, then 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
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 twenty-four hours
had dragged their weary lengths along, since the arrest of the woman he
In a moment he was on his feet before them all, accustomed to speak,
to dominate, to command.
"Citizeness 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
"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
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
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 every one 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
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 stay 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 priveleged darling
of this unruly population, the father of the children, the friend of
the women, the sympathizer 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.
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
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
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 illconcealed 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
"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 relationships 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
of 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 has 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
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
Obviously at the present moment, if Juliette's face 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
"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?" retored Déroulède proudly.
A murmur of approval greeted these words, and Tinville remarked
"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
"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
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
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
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-faced aristocrat had for weeks now, months, or
years 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 that
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 flood-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
The President 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.
"À la lanterne les traîtres! Mort à Déroulède. À la lanterne!
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! À 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
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
priveleged 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 the raging tumult of the last 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
The President was, with equal rapidity, 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
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 cognizance 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 rapidity 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 Englnad 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 neighboring
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
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 full upon his face. The foremost of the
crowd recognized 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 wished to tear him to pieces.
"À la lanterne! À 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
"À la lanterne! À la lanterne!" was the continual hoarse cry of the
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
Only the women who squatted round the gallows had not moved from
their position of vantage; one of these Magæras 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! À la lanterne les traîtres!"
Santerre 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 II of the Revolution it was not good to
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
"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
"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 be
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 manuvre will give us time to deliver the prisoners safely at the
The man spoke hurriedly and peremptorily, and Santerre 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
The thick mist, which grew more and more dense, favoured the new
manuvre, and the constant roll of drums drowned the hastily given
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
Santerre 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
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 Santerre had placed under the
command of the soldier who had transmitted to him the orders of the
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 now. Love is
Love—whole, trustful, passionate. Love is perfect understanding and
And so they followed their escort whithersoever it chose to lead
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—
The word of command rang out clearly and distinctly through the
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:
"À 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
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
these 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
Santerre 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, dumbfounded, 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
"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
"Blakeney—" began Déroulède.
But Sir Percy quickly interrupted him:
"Hush, man! we have but a few moments. Remember you 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 realizes 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
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
Santerre 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, but 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 hands 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
Lord Antony 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? Every one 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
"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 uopn 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
"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 Antony 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
Hardly had he spoken when the door of the adjoining room was pushed
open, and a horrible apparition stood before them. 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 realize 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
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.
À 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
Citizen Santerre 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 disappeared.
"They are safe in the Temple by now!" shouted Santerre 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 agaisnt 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: "À la lanterne! À 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
"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 Antony 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.
Every one was shouting; the women louder than the rest; one of them
was dragging the length of the rope, which might still be useful.
"Ça ira! ça ira! À la lanterne! À la lanterne! les traîtres!"
And Déroulède, holding Juliette by the hand, shouted lustily with
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 "À 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 spare
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
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
mulitude, for the suggestion was received with renewed shouts of the
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 with 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 them 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,
"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 sheep-like 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 them 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
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 places, 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 sea-gull's cry.
The little band ran boldly towards the east. Down the Rue de la
Republique 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.
Every one had forgotten what it was that caused him or her to rush on
so blindly, so madly, towards the nearest barrier.
But every one 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 and 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 illuminated 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 vagues 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 cemetary of Père
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 flashes 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
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 Helöise.
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 stands 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
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 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 Antony Dewhurst wore that of an English lackey.
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 Antony 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
The two ladies, acting under the instructions of Sir Percy, had, as
originally arranged, pursued their journey northwards, to the populous
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
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 Day Dream, saw the shores of France gradually receding from
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
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 in 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.