“But I should not dare to hope,” he murmured, “that a similar reason would cause you to call that month a long one.”
She turned perhaps a trifle paler thant she had been hitherto, and her eyes roamed round the room like those of a trapped hare seeking to escape.
“You misunderstand me, Citoyen Deroulede,” she said at last hurriedly. “You have all been kind—very kind—but Petronelle and I can no longer trespass on your hospitality. We have friends in England, and many enemies here...”
“I know,” he interrupted quietly; “it would be the most arrant selfishness on my part to suggest, that you should stay here an hour longer than necessary. I fear that after to-day my roof may no longer prove a sheltering one for you. But will you allow me to arrange for your safety, as I am arranging for that of my mother and Anne Mie? My English friend Sir Percy Blakeney, has a yacht in readiness off the Normandy coast. I have already seen to your passports and to all the arrangements of your journey as far as there, and Sir Percy, or one of his friends, will see you safely on board the English yacht. He has given me his promise that he will do this, and I trust him as I would myself. For the journey through France, my name is a sufficient guarantee that you will be unmolested; and if you will allow it, my mother and Anne Mie will travel in your company. Then...”
“I pray you stop, Citizen Deroulede,” she suddenly interrupted excitedly. “You must forgive me, but I cannot allow thus to make any arrangements for me. Petronelle and I must do as best we can. All your time and trouble should be spent for the benefit of those who have a claim upon you, whilst I...”
“You speak unkindly, mademoiselle; there is no question of claim.”
“And you have no right to think...” she continued, with a growing, nervous excitement, drawing her hand hurriedly away, for he had tried to seize it.
“Ah! pardon me,” he interrupted earnestly, “there you are wrong. I have the right to think of you and for you—the inalienable right conferred upon me by my great love for you.”
“Nay, Juliette; I know my folly, and I know my presumption. I know the pride of your caste and of your party, and how much you despise the partisan of the squalid mob of France. Have I said that I aspired to gain your love? I wonder if I have ever dreamed it? I only know, Juliette, that you are to me something akin to the angels, something white and ethereal, intangible, and perhaps ununderstandable. Yet, knowing my folly, I glory in it, my dear, and I would not let you go out of my life without telling you of that, which has made every hour of the past few weeks a paradise for me—my love for you, Juliette.”
He spoke in that low, impressive voice of his, and with those soft, appealing tones with which she had once heard him pleading for poor Charlotte Corday. Yet now he was not pleading for himself, not for his selfish wish or for his own happiness, only pleading for his love, that she should know of it, and, knowing it, have pity in her heart for him, and let him serve her to the end.