Like a flock of sheep the crowd now followed him.
“The nearest lanterne!” they shouted. “In the streets—in the streets! A la lanterne! The traitors!”
And with many a jeer, many a loathsome curse, and still more loathsome jests, some of the crowd began to file out. A few only remained to see the conclusion of the farce.
Sentence of death.
The “Bulletin du Tribunal Revolutionnaire” 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 Deroulede, however, so the chroniclers aver, though outwardly impassive, was evidently deeply moved. He had very expressive eyes, clear mirrors of the fine, upright soul within, and in them there was a look of intense emotion as he watched the crowd, which he had so often dominated and controlled, now turning in hatred against him.
He seemed actually to be seeing with a spiritual vision, his own popularity wane and die.
But when the thick of the crowd had pushed and jostled itself out of the hall, that transient emotion seemed to disappear, and he allowed himself quietly to be led from the front bench, where he had sat as a privileged member of the National Convention, to a place immediately behind the dock, and between two men of the National Guard.
From that moment he was a prisoner, accused of treason against the Republic, and obviously his mock trial would be hurried through by his triumphant enemies, whilst the temper of the people was at boiling point against him.
Complete silence had succeeded to the raging tumult of the past few moments. Nothing now could be heard in the vast room, save Foucquier-Tinville’s hastily whispered instructions to the clerk nearest to him, and the scratch of the latter’s quill pen against the paper.
The President was, with equal rapididy, affixing his signature to various papers handed up to him by the other clerks. The few remaining spectators, the deputies, and those among the crowd who had elected to see the close of the debate, were silent and expectant.
Merlin was mopping his forehead as if in intense fatigue after a hard struggle; Robespierre was coolly taking snuff.
From where Deroulede 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.