I Will Repay HTML version
Chapter XXV. The defence
Intense excitement, which found vent in loud applause, greeted Déroulède's
"Ça ira! ça ira! vas-y Déroulède!" came from the crowded benches round; and
men, women, and children, wearied with the monotony of the past proceedings,
settled themselves down for a quarter of an hour's keen enjoyment.
If Déroulède had anything to do with it, the trial was sure to end in excitement.
And the people were always ready to listen to their special favourite.
The citizen-deputies, drowsy after the long, oppressive day, seemed to rouse
themselves to renewed interest. Lebrun, like a big, shaggy dog, shook himself
free from creeping somnolence. Robespierre smiled between his thin lips, and
looked across at Merlin to see how the situation affected him. The enmity
between the Minister of Justice and Citizen Déroulède was well known, and
everyone noted, with added zest, that the former wore a keen look of anticipated
High up, on one of the topmost benches, sat Citizen Lenoir, the stage-manager
of this palpitating drama. He looked down, with obvious satisfaction, at the scene
which he himself had suggested last night to the members of the Jacobin Club.
Merlin's sharp eyes had tried to pierce the gloom, which wrapped the crowd of
spectators, searching vainly to distinguish the broad figure and massive head of
the provincial giant.
The light from the petrol lamp shone full on Déroulède's earnest, dark
countenance as he looked Juliette's infamous accuser full in the face, but the
tallow candles, flickering weirdly on the President's desk, threw Tinville's short,
spare figure and large, unkempt head into curious grotesque silhouette.
Juliette apparently had lost none of her calm, and there was no one there
sufficiently interested in her personality to note the tinge of delicate colour which,
at the first word of Déroulède, had slowly mounted to her pale cheeks.
Tinville waited until the wave of excitement had broken upon the shoals of
Then he resumed:
"Then, Citizen Déroulède, what have you to say, why sentence should not be
passed upon the accused?"
"I have to say that the accused is innocent of every charge brought against her in
your indictment," replied Déroulède firmly.
"And how do you substantiate this statement, Citizen-Deputy?" queried Tinville,
speaking with mock unctuousness.
"Very simply, Citizen Tinville. The correspondence to which you refer did not
belong to the accused, but to me. It consisted of certain communications, which I
desired to hold with Marie Antoinette, now a prisoner in the Conciergerie, during
my state there as lieutenant-governor. The Citizeness Juliette Marny, by
denouncing me, was serving the Republic, for my communications with Marie
Antoinette had reference to my own hopes of seeing her quit this country and
take refuge in her own native land."