Juliette was too proud to insist any further. She had hoped, by one word, to soften Madame Deroulede’s and Anne Mie’s heart towards her. She did not know whether they believed that miserable lie which she had been telling to Merlin; she only guessed that for the moment they still thought her the betrayer of Paul Deroulede.
But that one word was not to be spoken. She would have to go forth to her certain trial, to her probable death, under the awful cloud, which she herself had brought over her own life.
She turned quietly, and walked towards the door, where the two men already stood at attention.
Then it was that some heaven-born instinct seemed suddenly to guide Anne Mie. The crippled girl was face to face with a psychological problem, which in itself was far beyond her comprehension, but vaguely she felt that it was a problem. Something in Juliette’s face had already caused her to bitterly repent her action towards her, and now, as this beautiful, refined woman was about to pass from under the shelter of this roof, to the cruel publicity and terrible torture of that awful revolutionary tribunal, Anne Mie’s whole heart went out to her in boundless sympathy.
Before Merlin or the men could prevent her, she had run up to Juliette, taken her hand, which hung listless and cold, and kissed it tenderly.
Juliette seemed to wake as if from a dream. She looked down at Anne Mie with a glance of hope, almost of joy, and whispered:
“It was an oath—I swore it to my father and my dead brother. Tell him.”
Anne Mie could only nod; she could not speak, for her tears were choking her.
“But I’ll atone—with my life. Tell him,” whispered Juliette.
“Now then,” shouted Merlin, “out of the way, hunchback, unless you want to come along too.”
“Forgive me,” said Anne Mie through her tears.
Then the men pushed her roughly aside. But at the door Juliette turned to her once more, and said:
“Petronelle—take care of her...”
And with a firm step she followed the soldiers out of the room.
Presently the front door was heard to open, then to shut with a loud bang, and the house in the Rue Ecole de Medecine was left in silence.
In the Luxembourg prison.
Juliette was alone at last—that is to say, comparatively alone, for there were too many aristocrats, too many criminels and traitors, in the prisons of Paris now, to allow of any seclusion of those who were about to be tried, condemned, and guillotined.
The young girl had been marched through the crowded streets of Paris, followed by a jeering mob, who readily recognised in the gentle, high-bred girl the obvious prey, which the Committee of Public Safety was wont, from time to time to throw to the hungry hydra-headed dog of the Revolution.