"Is there anything more I can do for you now, mademoiselle?"
The gentle, timid voice roused Juliette from the contemplation of the past.
She smiled at Anne Mie, and held her hand out towards her.
"You have all been so kind," she said, "I want to get up now and thank you all."
"Don't move unless you feel quite well."
"I am quite well now. Those horrid people frightened me so, that is why I fainted."
"They would have half-killed you, if--"
"Will you tell me where I am?" asked Juliette.
"In the house of M. Paul Déroulède--I should have said of Citizen-Deputy Déroulède. He rescued you from the mob, and pacified them. He has such a beautiful voice that he can make anyone listen to him, and--"
"And you are fond of him, mademoiselle?" added Juliette, suddenly feeling a mist of tears rising to her eyes.
"Of course I am fond of him," rejoined the other girl simply, whilst a look of the most tender-hearted devotion seemed to beautify her pale face. "He and Madame Déroulède have brought me up; I never knew my parents. They have cared for me, and he has taught me all I know."
"What do they call you, mademoiselle?"
"My name is Anne Mie."
"And mine, Juliette--Juliette Marny," she added after a slight hesitation. "I have no parents either. My old nurse, Pétronelle, has brought me up, and--But tell me more about M. Déroulède--I owe him so much, I'd like to know him better."
"Will you not let me arrange your hair?" said Anne Mie as if purposely evading a direct reply. "M. Déroulède is in the salon with madame. You can see him then."
Juliette asked no more questions, but allowed Anne Mie to tidy her hair for her, to lend her a fresh kerchief and generally to efface all traces of her terrible adventure. She felt puzzled and tearful. Anne Mie's gentleness seemed somehow to jar on her spirits. She could not understand the girl's position in the Déroulède household. Was she a relative, or a superior servant? In these troublous times she might easily have been both.
In any case she was a childhood's companion of the Citizen-Deputy--whether on an equal or a humbler footing, Juliette would have given much to ascertain.
With the marvellous instinct peculiar to women of temperament, she had already divined Anne Mie's love for Déroulède. The poor young cripple's very soul seemed to quiver magnetically at the bare mention of his name, her whole face became transfigured: Juliette even thought her beautiful then.
She looked at herself critically in the glass, and adjusted a curl, which looked its best when it was rebellious. She scrutinized her own face carefully; why? she could not tell: another of those subtle feminine instincts perhaps.
The becoming simplicity of the prevailing mode suited her to perfection. The waist line, rather high but clearly defined--a precursor of the later more accentuated fashion--gave grace to her long slender limbs, and emphasized the lissomeness of her figure. The kerchief, edged with fine lace, and neatly folded across her bosom, softened the contour of her girlish bust and shoulders.
And her hair was a veritable glory round her dainty, piquant face. Soft, fair, and curly, it emerged in a golden halo from beneath the prettiest little lace cap imaginable.
She turned and faced Anne Mie, ready to follow her out of the room, and the young crippled girl sighed as she smoothed down the folds of her own apron, and gave a final touch to the completion of Juliette's attire.
The time before the evening meal slipped by like a dream-hour for Juliette.
She had lived so much alone, had led such an introspective life, that she had hardly realized and understood all that was going on around her. At the time when the inner vitality of France first asserted itself and then swept away all that hindered its mad progress, she was tied to the invalid chair of her half-demented father; then, after that, the sheltering walls of the Ursuline Convent had hidden from her mental vision the true meaning of the great conflict, between the Old Era and the New.
Déroulède was neither a pedant nor yet a revolutionary: his theories were Utopian and he had an extraordinary overpowering sympathy for his fellow-men.
After the first casual greetings with Juliette he had continued a discussion with his mother, which the young girl's entrance had interrupted.
He seemed to take but little notice of her, although at times his dark, keen eyes would seek hers, as if challenging her for a reply.
He was talking of the mob of Paris, whom he evidently understood so well. Incidents such as the one which Juliette had provoked, had led to rape and theft, often to murder, before now: but outside Citizen-Deputy Déroulède's house everything was quiet half an hour after Juliette's escape from that howling, brutish crowd.
He had merely spoken to them for about twenty minutes, and they had gone away quite quietly, without even touching one hair of his head. He seemed to love them: to know how to separate the little good that was in them from that hard crust of evil, which misery had put around their hearts.
Once he addressed Juliette somewhat abruptly: "Pardon me, mademoiselle, but for your own sake we must guard you a prisoner here awhile. No one would harm you under this roof, but it would not be safe for you to cross the neighbouring streets to-night."
"But I must go, monsieur. Indeed, indeed I must!" she said earnestly. "I am deeply grateful to you, but I could not leave Pétronelle."
"Who is Pétronelle?"
"My dear old nurse, monsieur. She has never left me. Think how anxious and miserable she must be at my prolonged absence."
"Where does she live?"
"At No. 15 Rue Taitbout, but--"
"Will you allow me to take her a message?--telling her that you are safe and under my roof, where it is obviously more prudent that you should remain at present."
"If you think it best, monsieur," she replied.
Inwardly she was trembling with excitement. God had not only brought her to this house, but willed that she should stay in it.
"In whose name shall I take the message, mademoiselle?" he asked.
"My name is Juliette Marny."
She watched him keenly as she said it, but there was not the slightest sign in his expressive face to show that he had recognized the name.
Ten years is a long time, and every one had lived through so much during those years! A wave of intense wrath swept through Juliette's soul, as she realized that he had forgotten. The name meant nothing to him! It did not recall to him the fact that his hand was stained with blood. During ten years she had suffered, she had fought with herself, fought for him as it were, against the Fate which she was destined to mete out to him, whilst he had forgotten, or at least had ceased to think.
He bowed to her and went out of the room.
The wave of wrath subsided, and she was left alone with Madame Déroulède: presently Anne Mie came in.
The three women chatted together, waiting for the return of the master of the house. Juliette felt well, and, in spite of herself, almost happy. She had lived so long in the miserable little attic alone with Pétronelle that she enjoyed the well-being of this refined home. It was not so grand or gorgeous of course as her father's princely palace opposite the Louvre, a wreck now, since it was annexed by the Committee of National Defence, for the housing of soldiery. But the Déroulèdes' home was essentially a refined one. The delicate china on the tall chimney-piece, the few bits of Buhl and Vernis Martin about the room, the vision through the open doorway of the supper-table spread with a fine white cloth, and sparkling with silver, all spoke of fastidious tastes, of habits of luxury and elegance, which the spirit of Equality and Anarchy had not succeeded in eradicating.
When Déroulède came back, he brought an atmosphere of breezy cheerfulness with him.
The street was quiet now, and when walking past the hospital--his own gift to the Nation--he had been loudly cheered. One or two ironical voices had asked him what he had done with the aristo and her lace furbelows, but it remained at that and Mademoiselle Marny need have no fear.
He had brought Pétronelle along with him: his careless, lavish hospitality would have suggested the housing of Juliette's entire domestic establishment, had she possessed one.
As it was, the worthy old soul's deluge of happy tears had melted his kindly heart. He offered her and her young mistress shelter until the small cloud should have rolled by.
After that he suggested a journey to England. Emigration now was the only real safety, and Mademoiselle Marny had unpleasantly drawn on herself the attention of the Paris rabble. No doubt, within the next few days her name would figure among the "suspect." She would be safest out of the country, and could not do better than place herself under the guidance of that English enthusiast, who had helped so many persecuted Frenchmen to escape from the terrors of the Revolution: the man who was such a thorn in the flesh of the Committee of Public Safety, and who went by the nickname of The Scarlet Pimpernel.