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I Will Repay

Chapter XVII. Atonement
Merlin waited a while in the hall, until he heard the noise of the shrieking crowd
gradually die away in the distance, then with a grunt of satisfaction he one more
mounted the stairs.
All these events outside had occurred during a very few minutes, and Madame
Déroulède and Anne Mie had been too anxious as to what was happening in the
streets, to take any notice of Juliette.
They had not dared to step out on to the balcony to see what was going on, and,
therefore, did not understand what the reopening and shutting of the front door
had meant.
The next instant, however, Merlin's heavy, slouching footsteps on the stairs had
caused Anne Mie to look round in alarm.
"It is only the soldiers come back for me," said Juliette quietly.
"For you?"
"Yes; they are coming to take me away. I suppose they did not wish to do it in the
presence of Mr. Déroulède, for fear..."
She had no time to say more. Anne Mie was still looking at her in awed and mute
surprise, when Merlin entered the room.
In his hand he held a leather case, all torn, and split at one end, and a few tiny
scraps of half-charred paper. He walked straight up to Juliette, and roughly thrust
the case and papers into her face.
"These are yours?" he said roughly.
"I suppose you know where they were found?"
She nodded quietly in reply.
"What were these papers which you burnt?"
"Love letters."
"You lie!"
She shrugged her shoulders.
"As you please," she said curtly.
"What were these papers?" he repeated, with a loud obscene oath which,
however, had not the power to disturb the young girl's serenity.
"I have told you," she said: "love letters, which I wished to burn."
"Who was your lover?" he asked.
Then as she did not reply he indicated the street, where cries of "Déroulède! Vive
Déroulède!" still echoed from afar.
"Were the letters from him?"
"You had more than one lover, then?"
He laughed, and a hideous leer seemed further to distort his ugly countenance.
He thrust his face quite close to hers, and she closed her eyes, sick with the
horror of this contact with the degraded wretch. Even Anne Mie had uttered a cry
of sympathy at sight of this evil-smelling, squalid creature torturing, with his close
proximity, the beautiful, refined girl before him.