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I Will Repay

Chapter XIX. Complexities
Citizen-Deputy Déroulède had been privately interviewed by the Committee of
Public Safety, and temporarily allowed to go free.
The brief proceedings had been quite private, the people of Paris were not to
know as yet that their favourite was under a cloud. When he had answered all
the question put to him, and Merlin--just returned from his errand at the
Luxembourg Prison--had given his version of the domiciliary visitation in the
Citizen-Deputy's house, the latter was briefly told that for the moment the
Republic had no grievance against him.
But he knew quite well what that meant. He would be henceforth under
suspicion, watched incessantly, as a mouse is by the cat, and pounced upon, the
moment time would be considered propitious for his final downfall.
The inevitable waning of his popularity would be noted by keen, jealous eyes;
and Déroulède, with his sure knowledge of mankind and of character, knew well
enough that his popularity was bound to wane sooner or later, as all such
ephemeral things do.
In the meanwhile, during the short respite which his enemies would leave him,
his one thought and duty would be to get his mother and Anne Mie safely out of
the country.
And also...
He thought of her, and wondered what had happened. As he walked swiftly
across the narrow footbridge, and reached the other side of the river, the events
of the past few hours rushed upon his memory with terrible, overwhelming force.
A bitter ache filled his heart at the remembrance of her treachery. The baseness
of it all was so appalling. He tried to think if he had ever wronged her; wondered
if perhaps she loved someone else, and wished him out of her way.
But, then, he had been so humble, so unassuming in his love. He had arrogated
nothing unto himself, asked for nothing, demanded nothing in virtue of his
protecting powers over her.
He was torturing himself with this awful wonderment of why she had treated him
thus.
Out of revenge for her brother's death--that was the only explanation he could
find, the only palliation for her crime.
He knew nothing of her oath to her father, and, of course, had never heard of the
sad history of this young, sensitive girl placed in one terrible moment between
her dead brother and her demented father. He only thought of common, sordid
revenge for a sin he had been practically forced to commit.
And how he had loved her! Yes, loved--for that was in the past now.
She had ceased to be a saint or a madonna; she had fallen from her pedestal so
low that he could not find the way to descend and grope after the fragments of
his ideal.
At his own door he was met by Anne Mie in tears.
"She has gone", murmured the young girl. "I feel as if I had murdered her."
 
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