Therefore, whilst he was in power, whilst he was loved and trusted, he had, figuratively and actually, put his house in order. He had made full preparations for his own inevitable downfall, for that probable flight from Paris of those who were dependent upon him.
He had, as far back as a year ago, provided himself with the necessary passports, and bespoken with his English friend certain measures for the safety of his mother and his crippled little relative. Now it was merely a question of putting these measures into execution.
Within two hours of Juliette Marny’s arrest, Madame Deroulede and Anne Mie had quitted the house in the Rue Ecole de Medecine. They had but little luggage with them, and were ostensibly going into the country to visit a sick cousin.
The mother of the popular Citizen-Deputy was free to travel unmolested. The necessary passports which the safety of the Republic demanded were all in perfect order, and Madame Deroulede and Anne Mie passed through the north gate of Paris an hour before sunset, on that 24th day of Fructidor.
Their large travelling chaise took them some distance on the North Road, where they were to meet Lord Hastings and Lord Anthony Dewhurst, two of The Scarlet Pimpernel’s most trusted lieutenants, who were to escort them as far as the coast, and thence see them safely aboard the English yacht.
On that score, therefore, Deroulede had no anxiety. His chief duty was to his mother and to Anne Mie, and that was now fully discharged.
Then there was old Petronelle.
Ever since the arrest of her young mistress the poor old soul had been in a state of mind bordering on frenzy, and no amount of eloquence on Deroulede’s part would persuade her to quit Paris without Juliette.
“If my pet lamb is to die,” she said amidst heart-broken sobs, “then I have no cause to live. Let those devils take me along too, if they want a useless, old woman like me. But if my darling is allowed to go free, then what would become of her in this awful city without me? She and I have never been separated; she wouldn’t know where to turn for a home. And who would cook for her and iron out her kerchiefs, I’d like to know?”
Reason and common sense were, of course, powerless in face of this sublime and heroic childishness. No one had the heart to tell the old woman that the murderous dog of the Revolution seldom loosened its fangs, once they had closed upon a victim.
All Deroulede could do was to convey Petronelle to the old abode, which Juliette had quitted in order to come to him, and which had never been formally given up. The worthy soul, calmed and refreshed, deluded herself into the idea that she was waiting for the return of her young mistress, and became quite cheerful at sight of the familiar room.
Deroulede had provided her with money and necessaries. He had but few remaining hopes in his heart, but among them was the firmly implanted one that Petronelle was too insignificant to draw upon herself the terrible attention of the Committee of Public Safety.