All the pent-up jealousy which had tortured her for the past three weeks rose up, and goaded her into unmasking her rival.
Never for a moment did she doubt Juliette’s guilt. The god of love may be blind, tradidion has so decreed it, but the demon of jealousy has a hundred eyes, more keen than those of the lynx.
Anne Mie, pushed aside by Merlin’s men when they forced their way into Deroulede’s study, had, nevertheless, followed them to the door. When the curtains were drawn aside and the room filled with light, she had seen Juliette enthroned, apparently calm and placid, upon the sofa.
It was instinct, the instinct born of her own rejected passion, which caused her to read in the beautiful girl’s face all that lay hidden behind the pale, impassive mask. That same second sight made her understand Merlin’s hints and allusions. She caught every inflection of his voice, heard everything, saw everything.
And in the midst of her anxiety and her terrors for the man she loved, there was the wild, primitive, intensely human joy at the thought of bringing that enthroned idol, who had stolen his love, down to earth at last.
Anne Mie was not clever; she was simple and childish, with no complexity of passions or devious ways of intellect. It was her elemental jealousy which suggested the cunning plan for the unmasking of Juliette. She would make the girl cringe and fear, threaten her with discovery, and through her very terror shame her before Paul Deroulede.
And now it was all done; it had all occurred as she had planned it. Paul knew that his love had been wasted upon a liar and a traitor, and Juliette stood pale, humiliated, a veritable wreck of shamed humanity.
Anne Mie had triumphed, and was profoundly, abjectly wretched in her triumph. Great sobs seemed to tear at her very heart-strings. She had pulled down Paul’s idol from her pedestal, but the one look she had cast at his face had shown her that she had also wrecked his life.
He seemed almost old now. The earnest, restless gaze had gone from his eyes; he was staring mutely before him, twisting between nerveless fingers that blank scrap of paper, which had been the means of annihilating his dream.
All energy of attitude, all strength of bearing, which were his chief characteristics, seemed to have gone. There was a look of complete blankness, of hopelessness in his listless gesture.
“How he loved her!” sighed Anne Mie, as she tenderly wrapped the shawl round Madame Deroulede’s shoulders.
Juliette had said nothing; it seemed as if her very life had gone out of her. She was a mere statue now, her mind numb, her heart dead, her very existence a fragile piece of mechanism. But she was looking at Deroulede. That one sense in her had remained alive: her sight.
She looked and looked: and saw every passing sign of mental agony on his face: the look of recognition of her guilt, the bewilderment at the appalling crash, and now that hideous deathlike emptiness of his soul and mind.