Therefore what mattered life to him now? She was lost to him for ever, whether he succeeded in snatching her from the guillotine or not. He had but little hope to save her, but he would not owe his life to her.
Anne Mie, seeing him wrapped in his own thoughts, had quietly withdrawn. Her own good sense told her already that Paul Deroulede’s first step would be to try and get his mother out of danger, and out of the country, while there was yet time.
So, without waiting for instructions, she began that same evening to pack up her belongings and those of Madame Deroulede.
There was no longer any hatred in her heart against Juliette. Where Paul Deroulede had failed to understand, there Anne Mie had already made a guess. She firmly believed that nothing now could save Juliette from death, and a great feeling of tenderness had crept into her heart, for the woman whom she had looked upon as an enemy and a rival.
She too had learnt in those brief days the great lesson that revenge belongs to God alone.
The Cheval Borgne.
It was close upon midnight.
The place had become suffocatingly hot; the fumes of rank tobacco, of rancid butter, and or raw spirits hung like a vapour in mid-air.
The principal room in the “Auberge du Cheval Borgne” had been used for the past five years now as the chief meeting-place of the ultra-sansculotte party of the Republic.
The house itself was squalid and dirty, up one of those mean streets which, by their narrow way and shelving buildings, shut out sun, air, and light from their miserable inhabitants.
The Cheval Borgne was one of the most wretched-looking dwellings in this street of evil repute. The plaster was cracked, the walls themselves seemed bulging outward, preparatory to a final collapse. The ceilings were low, and supported by beams black with age and dirt.
At one time it had been celebrated for its vast cellarage, which had contained some rare old wines. And in the days of the Grand Monarch young bucks were wont to quit the gay salons of the ladies, in order to repair to the Cheval Borgne for a night’s carouse.
In those days the vast cellarage was witness of many a dark encounter, of many a mysterious death; could the slimy walls have told their own tale, it would have been one which would have put to shame the wildest chronicles of M. Vidoq.
Now it was no longer so.
Things were done in broad daylight on the Place de la Revolution: there was no need for dark, mysterious cellars, in which to accomplish deeds of murder and of revenge.
Rats and vermin of all sorts worked their way now in the underground portion of the building. They ate up each other, and held their orgies in the cellars, whilst men did the same sort of thing in the rooms above.
It was a club of Equality and Fraternity. Any passer-by was at liberty to enter and take part in the debates, his only qualification for this temporary membership being an inordinate love for Madame la Guillotine.