The men had finished ransacking the room; every scrap of paper, every portable article had been eagerly seized upon.
Merlin, half blind with fury, had jumped to his feet.
“Search him!” he ordered peremptorily.
Deroulede set his teeth, and made no protest, calling up every fibre of moral strength within him, to aid him in submitting to this indignity. At a coarse jest from Merlin, he buried his nails into the palms of his hand, not to strike the foulmouthed creature in the face. But he submitted, and stood impassive by, whilst the pockets of his coat were turned inside out by the rough hands of the soldiers.
All the while Juliette had remained silent, watching Merlin as any hawk would its prey. But the Terrorist, through the very coarseness of his nature, was in this case completely fooled.
He knew that it was Juliette who had denounced Deroulede, and had satisfied himself as to her motive. Because he was low and brutish and degraded, he never once suspected the truth, never saw in that beautiful young woman, anything of the double nature within her, of that curious, self-torturing, at times morbid sense of religion and of duty, at war with her own upright, innately heathy disposition.
The low-born, self-degraded Terrorist had put his own construction on Juliette’s action, and with this he was satisfied, since it answered to his own estimate of the human race, the race which he was doing his best to bring down to the level of the beast.
Therefore Merlin did not interfere with Juliette, but contented himself with insinuating, by jest and action, what her share in this day’s work had been. To these hints Deroulede, of course, paid no heed. For him Juliette was as far above political intrigue as the angels. He would as soon have suspected one of the saints enshrined in Notre Dame as this beautiful, almost ethereal creature, who had been send by Heaven to gladden his heart and to elevate his very thought.
But Juliette understood Merlin’s attitude, and guessed that her written denunciation had come into his hands. Her every thought, every living sensation within her, was centred in this one thing: to save the man she loved from the consequences of her own crime against him. And for this, even the shadow of suspicion must be removed from him. Merlin’s iniquitous law should not touch him again.
When Deroulede at last had been released, after the outrage to which he had been personally subjected, Merlin was literally, and figuratively too, looking about him for an issue to his present dubious position.
Judging others by his own standard of conduct, he feared now that the popular Citizen-Deputy would incite the mob against him, in revenge for the indignities which he had had to suffer. And with it all the Terrorist was convinced that Deroulede was guilty, that proofs of his treason did exist, if only he knew where to lay hands on them.