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I Will Repay

Chapter X. Denunciation
But what of Juliette?
What of this wild, passionate, romantic creature tortured by a Titanic conflict?
She, but a girl, scarcely yet a woman, torn by the greatest antagonistic powers
that ever fought for a human soul. On the one side duty, tradidion, her dead
brother, her father--above all, her religion and the oath she had sworn before
God; on the other justice and honour, a case of right and wrong, honesty and
pity.
How she fought with these powers now!
She fought with them, struggled with them on her knees. She tried to crush
memory, tried to forget that awful midnight scene ten years ago, her brother's
dead body, her father's avenging hand holding her own, as he begged her to do
that, which he was too feeble, too old to accomplish.
His words rang in her ears from across that long vista of the past.
"Before the face of Almighthy God, who sees and hears me, I swear..."
And she had repeated those words loudly and of her own free will, with her hand
resting on her brother's breast, and God Himself looking down upon her, for she
had called upon Him to listen.
"I swear that I will seek out Paul Déroulède, and in any manner which God may
dictate to me encompass his death, his ruin, or dishonour in revenge for my
brother's death. May my brother's soul remain in torment until the final Judgment
Day if I should break my oath, but may it rest in eternal peace, the day on which
his death is fitly avenged."
Almost it seemed to her as if father and brother were standing by her side, as
she knelt and prayed.--Oh! how she prayed!
In many ways she was only a child. All her years had been passed in
confinement, either beside her dying father or, later, between the four walls of the
Ursuline Convent. And during those years her soul had been fed on a
contemplative, ecstatic religion, a kind of sanctified superstition, which she would
have deemed sacrilege to combat.
Her first step into womanhood was taken with that oath upon her lips; since then,
with a stoical sense of duty, she had lashed herself into a daily, hourly
remembrance of the great mission imposed upon her.
To have neglected it would have been, to her, equal to denying God.
She had but vague ideas of the doctrinal side of religion. Purgatory was to her
merely a word, but a word representing a real spiritual state--one of expectancy,
of restlessness, of sorrow. And vaguely, yet determinedly, she believed that her
brother's soul suffered, because she had been too weak to fulfil her oath.
The Church had not come to her rescue. The ministers of her religion were
scattered to the four corners of besieged, agonising France. She had no one to
help her, no one to comfort her. That very peaceful, contemplative life she had
led in the convent, only served to enhance her feeling of the solemnity of her
mission.
It was true, it was inevitable, because it was so hard.
 
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