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I Will Repay

Chapter XVI. Under arrest
Déroulède did not attempt to go to her.
Only presently, when the heavy footsteps of Merlin and his men were once more
heard upon the landing, she quietly rose to her feet.
She had accomplished her act of humiliation and repentance, there before them
all. She looked for the last time upon those whom she had so deeply wronged,
and in her heart spoke an eternal farewell to that great, and mighty, and holy love
which she had called forth and then had so hopelessly crushed.
Now she was ready for the atonement.
Merlin had already swaggered into the room. The long and arduous search
throughout the house had not improved either his temper or his personal
appearance. He was more covered with grime than he had been before, and his
narrow forehead had almost disappeared beneath the tangled mass of his ill-
kempt hair, which he had perpetually tugged forward and roughed up in his angry
impatience.
One look at his face had already told Juliette what she wished to know. He had
searched her room, and found the fragments of burnt paper, which she had
purposely left in the ash-pan.
How he would act now was the one thing of importance left for Juliette to ponder
over. That she would not escape arrest and condemnation was at once made
clear to her. Merlin's look of sneering contempt, when he glanced towards her,
had told her that.
Déroulède himself had been conscious of a feeling of intense relief when the
men re-entered the room. The tension had become unendurable. When he saw
his dethroned madonna kneel in humiliation at his feet, an overwhelming pain
had wrenched his very heart-strings.
And yet he could not go to her. The passionate, human nature within him felt a
certain proud exultation at seeing her there.
She was not above him now, she was no longer akin to the angels.
He had given no further thought to his own immediate danger. Vaguely he
guessed that Merlin would find the leather case. Where it was he could not tell;
perhaps Juliette herself had handed it to the soldiers. She had only hidden it for a
few moments, out of impulse perhaps, fearing lest, at the first instant of its
discovery, Merlin might betray her.
He remembered now those hints and insinuations which had gone out from the
Terrorist to Juliette whilst the search was being conducted in the study. At the
time he had merely looked upon these as a base attempt at insult, and had
tortured himself almost beyond bearing, in the endeavour to refrain from
punishing that evilmouthed creature, who dared to bandy words with his
madonna.
But now he understood, and felt his very soul writhing with shame at the
remembrance of it all.
 
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