Yet for the sake of her, of her chances of safety and of ultimate freedom, it was undoubtedly best that it should be so.
Arraigned for conspiracy against the Republic, she was liable to secret trial, to be brought up, condemned, and executed before he could even hear of her whereabouts, before he could throw himself before her judges and take all guilt upon himself.
Those suspected of treason against the Republic forfeited, according to Merlin’s most iniquitous Law, their rights of citizenship, in publicity of trial and in defence.
It all might have been finished before Deroulede knew anything of it.
The other way was, of course, more terrible. Brought forth amongst the scum of criminal Paris, on a charge, the horror of which, he could but dimly hope that she was too innocent to fully understand, he dared not even think of what she would suffer.
But undoubtedly it was better so.
The mud thrown at her robes of purity could never cling to her, and at least her trial would be public; he would be there to take all infamy, all disgrace, all opprobrium on himself.
The strength of his appeal would turn her judges’ wrath from her to him; and after these few moments of misery, she would be free to leave Paris, France, to be happy, and to forget him and the memory of him.
An overwhelming, all-compelling love filled his entire soul for the beautiful girl, who had so wronged, yet so nobly tried to save him. A longing for her made his very sinews ache; she was no longer madonna, and her beauty thrilled him, with the passionate, almost sensuous desire to give his life for her.
The indictment against Juliette Marny has become history now.
On that day, the 25th Fructidor, at seven o’clock in the evening, it was read out by the Public Prosecutor, and listened to by the accused —so the Bulletin tells us—with complete calm and apparent indifference. She stood up in that same pillory where once stood poor, guilty Charlotte Corday, where presently would stand proud, guiltless Marie Antoinette.
And Deroulede 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.