Deroulede shuddered when first he beheld the scene, shuddered at the very thought of finding Juliette amongst these careless, laughing, thoughtless mimes.
His own, his beautiful Juliette, with her proud face and majestic, queen-like gestures; it was a relief not to see her there.
“Juliette Marny? Inconnue,” was the final word he heard about her.
No one told him that by Deputy Merlin’s strictest orders she had been labelled “dangerous”, and placed in a remote wing of the Luxembourg Palace, together with a few, who, like herself, were allowed to see no one, communicate with no one.
Then when the couvre-feu had sounded, when all public places were closed, when the night watchman had begun his rounds, Deroulede knew that his quest for that night must remain fruitless.
But he could not rest. In and out the tortuous streets of Paris he roamed during the better part of that night. He was now only awaiting the dawn to publicly demand the right to stand beside Juliette.
A hopeless misery was in his heart, a longing for a cessation of life; only one thing kept his brain active, his mind clear: the hope of saving Juliette.
The dawn was breaking in the far east when, wandering along the banks of the river, he suddenly felt a touch on his arm.
“Come to my hovel,” said a pleasant, lazy voice close to his ear, whilst a kindly hand seemed to drag him away from the contemplation of the dark, silent river. “And a demmed, beastly place it is too, but at least we can talk quietly there.”
Deroulede, roused from his meditation, looked up, to see his friend, Sir Percy Blakeney, standing close beside him. Tall, debonnair, well-dressed, he seemed by his very presence to dissipate the morbid atmosphere which was beginning to weigh upon Deroulede’s active mind.
Deroulede followed him readily enough through, the intricate mazes of old Paris, and down the Rue des Arts, until Sir Percy stopped outside a small hostelry, the door of which stood wide open.
“Mine host has nothing to lose from footpads and thieves,” explained the Englishman as he guided his friend through the narrow doorway, then up a flight of rickety stairs, to a small room on the floor above. “He leaves all doors open for anyone to walk in, but, la! the interior of the house looks so uninviting that no one is tempted to enter.”
“I wonder you care to stay here,” remarked Deroulede, with a momentary smile, as he contrasted in his mind the fastidious appearance of his friend with the dinginess and dirt of these surroundings.
Sir Percy deposited his large person in the capacious depths of a creaky chair, stretched his long limbs out before him, and said quietly:
“I am only staying in this demmed hole until the moment when I can drag you out of this murderous city.”
Deroulede shook his head.
“You’d best go back to England, then,” he said, “for I’ll never leave Paris now.”