Deroulede 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 Anthony Dewhurst wore that of an English lacquey.
Five minutes later Deroulede 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 Anthony 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 Deroulede and Anne Mie.
The two ladies, acting under the instructions of Sir Percy, had as originally arranged, pursued their journey northwards, to the populous seaport town.
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 from Paris.
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 Deroulede’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 Deroulede, standing on the deck of the Daydream, saw the shores of France gradually receding from their view.
Deroulede’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 mere dream.