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I Will Repay

Chapter XV. Detected
The opening and shutting of the door roused them both from their dreams.
Anne Mie, pale, trembling, with eyes looking wild and terrified, had glided into the
room.
Déroulède had sprung to his feet. In a moment he had thrust his own happiness
into the background at sight of the poor child's obvious suffering. He went quickly
towards her, and would have spoken to her, but she run past him up to Madame
Déroulède, as if she were beside herself with some unexplainable terror.
"Anne Mie," he said firmly, "what is it? Have those devils dared..."
In a moment reality had come rushing back upon him with full force, and bitter
reproaches surged up in his heart against himself, for having in this moment of
selfish joy forgotten those who looked up to him for help and protection.
He knew the temper of the brutes who had been set upon his track, knew that
low-minded Merlin and his noisome ways, and blamed himself severely for
having left Anne Mie and Pétronelle alone with him even for a few moments.
But Anne Mie quickly reassured him.
"They have not molested us much," she said, speaking with a visible effort and
enforced calmness. "Pétronelle and I were together, and they made us open all
the cupboards and uncover all the dishes. They then asked us many questions."
"Questions? Of what kind?" asked Déroulède.
"About you, Paul," replied Anne Mie, "and about maman, and also about --about
the citizeness, your guest."
Déroulède looked at her closely, vaguely wondering at the strange attitude of the
child. She was evidently labouring under some strong excitement, and in her thin,
brown little hand she was clutching a piece of paper.
"Anne Mie! Child," he said very gently, "you seem quite upset--as if something
terrible had happened. What is that paper you are holding, my dear?"
Anne Mie gazed down upon it. She was obviously making frantic efforts to
maintain her self-possession.
Juliette at first sight of Anne Mie seemed literally to have been turned to stone.
She sat upright, rigid as a statue, her eyes fixed upon the poor, crippled girl as if
upon an inexorable judge, about to pronounce sentence upon her of life or death.
Instinct, that keen sense of coming danger which Nature sometimes gives to her
elect, had told her that, within the next few seconds, her doom would be sealed;
that Fate would descend upon her, holding the sword of Nemesis; and it was
Anne Mie's tiny, half-shrivelled hand which had placed that sword into the grasp
of Fate.
"What is that paper? Will you let me see it, Anne Mie?" repeated Déroulède.
"Citizen Merlin gave it to me just now," began Anne Mie more quietly; "he seems
very wroth at finding nothing compromising against you, Paul. They were a long
time in the kitchen, and now they have gone to search my room and Pétronelle's;
but Merlin--oh! that awful man!--he seemed like a beast infuriated with his
disappointment."
"Yes, yes."
 
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