“Citiziness Juliette Marny has entrusted me with her defence,” he said, even before the No had escaped Juliette’s white lips, “and I am here to refute the charges brought against her, and to demand in the name of the people of France full acquittal and justice for her.”
Intense excitement, which found vent in loud applause, greeted Deroulede’s statement.
“Ca ira! ca ira! vas-y Deroulede!” came from the crowded benches round; and men, women, and children, wearied with the monotony of the past proceedings, settled themselves down for a quarter of an hour’s keen enjoyment.
If Deroulede had anything to do with it, the trial was sure to end in excitement. And the people were always ready to listen to their special favourite.
The citizen-deputies, drowsy after the long, oppressive day, seemed to rouse themselves to renewed interest. Lebrun, like a big, shaggy dog, shook himself free from creeping somnolence. Robespierre smiled between his thin lips, and looked across at Merlin to see how the situation affected him. The enmity between the Minister of Justice and Citizen Deroulede was well known, and everyone noted, with added zest, that the former wore a keen look of anticipated triumph.
High up, on one of the topmost benches, sat Citizen Lenoir, the stage-manager of this palpitating drama. He looked down, with obvious satisfaction, at the scene which he himself had suggested last night to the members of the Jacobin Club. Merlin’s sharp eyes had tried to pierce the gloom, which wrapped the crowd of spectators, searching vainly to distinguish the broad figure and massive head of the provincial giant.
The light from the petrol lamp shone full on Deroulede’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 Deroulede, 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 Deroulede, 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 Deroulede firmly.
“And how do you substantiate this statement, Citizen-Deputy?” queried Tinville, speaking with mock unctuousness.
“Very simply, Citizen Tinville. The correspondence to which you refer did not belong to the accused, but to me. It consisted of certain communications, which I desired to hold with Marie Antoinette, now a prisoner in the Conciergerie, during my state there as lieutenant-governor. The Citizeness Juliette Marny, by denouncing me, was serving the Republic, for my communications with Marie Antoinette had reference to my own hopes of seeing her quit this country and take refuge in her own native land.”