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I Will Repay

Chapter II. Citizen-Deputy
When, presently, the young girl awoke, with a delicious feeling of rest and well-
being, she had plenty of leisure to think.
So, then, this was his house! She was actually a guest, a rescued protégé,
beneath the roof of Citoyen Déroulède.
He had dragged her from the clutches of the howling mob which she had
provoked; his mother had made her welcome, a sweet-faced, young girl scarce
out of her teens, sad-eyed and slightly deformed, had waited upon her and made
her happy and comfortable.
Juliette de Marny was in the house of the man, whom she had sworn before her
God and before her father to pursue with hatred and revenge.
Ten years had gone by since then.
Lying upon the sweet-scented bed which the hospitality of the Déroulèdes had
provided for her, she seemed to see passing before her the spectres of these
past ten years--the first four, after her brothers death, until the old Duc de
Marny's body slowly followed his soul to its grave.
After that last glimmer of life beside the deathbed of his son, the old Duc had
practically ceased to be. A mute, shrunken figure, he merely existed; his mind
vanished, his memory gone, a wreck whom Nature fortunately remembered at
last, and finally took away from the invalid chair which had been his world.
Then came those few years at the Convent of the Ursulines. Juliette had hoped
that she had a vocation; her whole soul yearned for a secluded, a religious, life,
for great barriers of solemn vows and days spent in prayer and contemplation, to
interpose between herself and the memory of that awful night when, obedient to
her father's will, she had made the solemn oath to avenge her brother's death.
She was only eighteen when she first entered the convent, directly after her
father's death, when she felt very lonely--both morally and mentally lonely--and
followed by the obsession of that oath.
She never spoke of it to anyone except to her confessor, and he, a simple-
minded man of great learning and a total lack of knowledge of the world, was
completely at a loss how to advise.
The Archbishop was consulted. He could grant a dispensation, and release her
of that most solemn vow.
When first this idea was suggested to her, Juliette was exultant. Her entire
nature, which in itself was wholesome, light-hearted, the very reverse of morbid,
rebelled against this unnatural task placed upon her young shoulders. It was only
religion--the strange, warped religion of that extraordinary age--which kept her to
it, which forbade her breaking lightly that most unnatural oath.
The Archbishop was a man of many duties, many engagements. He agreed to
give this strange "cas de conscience" his most earnest attention. He would make
no promises. But Mademoiselle de Marny was rich: a munificent donation to the
poor of Paris, or to some cause dear to the Holy Father himself, might perhaps
be more acceptable to God than the fulfilment of a compulsory vow.
 
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