I Will Repay
Chapter XIV. A happy moment
The search in the Citizen-Deputy's bedroom had proved as fruitless as that in his
study. Merlin was beginning to have vague doubts as to whether he had been
His manner towards Déroulède had undergone a change. He had become suave
and unctuous, a kind of elephantine irony pervading his laborious attempts at
conciliation. He and the Public Prosecutor would be severely blamed for this
day's work, if the popular Deputy, relying upon the support of the people of Paris,
chose to take his revenge.
In France, in this glorious year of the Revolution, there was but one step between
censure and indictment. And Merlin knew it. Therefore, although he had not
given up all hope of finding proofs of Déroulède's treason, although by the latter's
attitude he remained quite convinced that such proof did exist, he was already
reckoning upon the cat's paw, the sop he would offer to that Cerberus, the
Committee of Public Safety, in exchange for his own exculpation in the matter.
This sop would be Juliette, the denunclator instead of Déroulède the denounced.
But he was still seeking for the proofs.
Somewhat changing his tactics, he had allowed Déroulède to join his mother in
the living-room, and had betaken himself to the kitchen in search of Anne Mie,
whom he had previously caught sight of in the hall. There he also found old
Pétronelle, whom he could scare out of het wits to his heart's content, but from
whom he was quite unable to extract any useful information. Pétronelle was too
stupid to be dangerous, and Anne Mie was too much on the alert.
But, with a vague idea that a cunning man might choose the most unlikely places
for the concealment of compromising property, he was ransacking the kitchen
from floor to ceiling.
In the living-room Déroulède was doing his best to reassure his mother, who, in
her turn, was forcing herself to be brave, and not to show by her tears how
deeply she feared for the safety of her son. As soon as Déroulède had been
freed from the presence of the soldiers, he had hastened back to his study, only
to find that Juliette had gone, and that the letter-case had also disappeared. Not
knowing what to think, trembling for the safety of the woman he adored, he was
just debating whether he would seek for her in her own room, when she came
towards him across the landing.
There seemed a halo around her now. Déroulède felt that she had never been so
beautiful and to him so unattainable. Something told him then, that at this
moment she was as far away from him, as if she were an inhabitant of another,
more ethereal planet.
When she saw him coming towards her, she put a finger to her lips, and
"Sh! sh! the papers are destroyed, burned."
"And I owe my safety to you!"
He had said it with his whole soul, an infinity of gratitude filled his heart, a joy and
pride in that she had cared for his safety.