At length silence and loneliness became unendurable. She called Petronelle, and ordered her to pack her boxes.
“We leave for England to-day”, she said curtly.
“For England?” gasped the worthy old soul, who was feeling very happy and comfortable in this hospitable house, and was loth to leave it. “So soon?”
“Why, yes; we had talked of it for some time. We cannot remain here always. My cousins De Crecy are there, and my aunt De Coudremont. We shall be among friends, Petronelle, if we ever get there.”
“If we ever get there!” sighed poor Petronelle; “we have but very little money, ma cherie, and no passports. Have you thought of asking M. Deroulede for them.”
“No, no,” rejoined Juliette hastily; “I’ll see to the passports somehow, Petronelle. Sir Percy Blakeney is English; he’ll tell me what to do.”
“Do you know where he lives, my jewel?”
“Yes; I heard him tell Madame Deroulede last night that he was lodging with a provincial named Brogard at the Sign of the Cruche Cassee. I’ll go seek him, Petronelle; I am sure he will help me. The English are so resourceful and practical. He’ll get us our passports, I know, and advise us as to the best way to proceed. Do you stay here and get all our things ready. I’ll not be long.”
She took up a cloak and hood, and, throwing them over her arm, she slipped out of the room.
Deroulede had left the house earlier in the day. She hoped that he had not yet returned, and ran down the stairs quickly, so that she might go out unperceived.
The house was quite peaceful and still. It seemed strange to Juliette that there did not hang over it some sort of pall-like presentiment of coming evil.
From the kitchen, at some little distance from the hall, Anne Mie’s voice was heard singing an old ditty:
“De ta tige detachee
Pauvre feuille dessechee
Juliette paused a moment. An awful ache had seized her heart; her eyes unconsciously filled with tears, as they roamed round the walls of this house which had sheltered her so hospitably, these three weeks past.
And now whither was she going? Like the poor, dead leaf of the song, she was wastrel, torn from the parent bough, homeless, friendless, having turned against the one hand which, in this great time of peril, had been extended to her in kindness and in love.
Conscience was beginning to rise up against her, and that hydra-headed tyrant Remorse. She closed her eyes to shut out the hideous vision of her crime; she tried to forget this home which her treachery had desecrated.
“Je vais ou va toute
Ou va la feuille de rose
Et la feuille de laurier,”
sang Anne Mie plaintively.