“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 very 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 Deroulede or of Anne Mie without the most agonising, 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 analyse 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 immortalise her name through all the ages to come, and cause her countrymen to proclaim her “greater than Brutus.”
Deroulede 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 Deroulede 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 Megaeras and their relentless wheel.