Part 11 out of 14
was in garrison at Mâcon; and when I told him it was the 7th
mounted Chasseurs, he said: 'Good! the colonel is a friend of
mine. Can a waiter take him my card and ask him to breakfast
"So you see how it is. When officers get together they make so
much racket and noise. Perhaps they'll not only breakfast, but
dine and sup together."
"I've told you already, my good man, that I am not sure of passing
the night here. I am expecting letters from Paris, _paste
restante_, which will decide me. In the meantime, light a
fire in No. 2, and make as little noise as possible, to avoid
annoying my neighbors. And, at the same time, send me up pen
and ink, and some paper. I have letters to write."
Montbar's orders were promptly executed, and he himself followed
the waiter to see that Roland was not disturbed by his proximity.
The chamber was just what the landlord had said. Not a movement
could be made, not a word uttered in the next room, that was not
heard. Consequently Montbar distinctly heard the waiter announce
Colonel Saint-Maurice, then the resounding steps of the latter in
the corridor, and the exclamations of the two friends, delighted
to meet again.
On the other hand, Roland, who had been for a moment disturbed
by the noise in the adjoining room, forgot it as soon as it had
ceased, and there was no danger of its being renewed. Montbar,
left alone, seated himself at the table, on which were paper,
pen and ink, and remained perfectly motionless.
The two officers had known each other in Italy, where Roland
was under the command of Saint-Maurice, the latter being then
a captain and Roland a lieutenant. At present their rank was
equal, but Roland had beside a double commission from the First
Consul and the minister of police, which placed all officers
of his own rank under his command, and even, within the limits
of his mission, those of a higher rank.
Morgan had not been mistaken in supposing that Amélie's brother
was in pursuit of the Companions of Jehu. If Roland's nocturnal
search at the Chartreuse of Seillon was not convincing, the
conversation between the young officer and his colleague was
proof positive. In it, it developed that the First Consul was
really sending fifty thousand francs as a gift to the monks of
Saint-Bernard, by post; but that this money was in reality a
trap devised for the capture of the Companions of Jehu, if all
means failed to surprise them in the Chartreuse of Seillon or
some other refuge.
It now-remained to be seen how these bandits should be captured.
The case was eagerly debated between the two officers while they
had breakfast. By the time dessert was served they were both
agreed upon a plan.
That same evening, Morgan received the following letter:
Just as Adler told us, next Friday at five o'clock the mail-coach
will leave Paris with fifty thousand francs for the fathers of
The three places, the one in the coupé and the two in the interior,
are already engaged by three travellers who will join the coach,
one at Sens, the other two at Tonnerre. The travellers are, in the
coupé, one of citizen Fouché's best men: in the interior M. Roland
de Montrevel and the colonel of the 7th Chasseurs, garrisoned at
Mâcon. They will be in civilians' clothes not to excite suspicion,
but armed to the teeth.
Twelve mounted Chasseurs, with muskets, pistols, and sabres, will
escort the coach, but at some distance behind it, so as to arrive
during the fray. The first pistol fired will be the signal for
putting their horses to a gallop and falling upon us.
Now my advice is that, in spite of these precautions, in fact
because of these precautions, the attack should be made at the
place agreed upon, namely the Maison-Blanche. If that is also the
opinion of the comrades, let me know it. I will myself take the
coach, as postilion, from Mâcon to Belleville. I will undertake
to settle the colonel, and one of you must be responsible for
As for M. Roland de Montrevel, no harm will befall him, for I
have a means, known to me alone and by me invented, by which he
can be prevented from leaving the coach.
The precise day and hour at which the mail to Chambéry will pass
the Maison-Blanche is Saturday at six in the evening. Answer in
these words, "Saturday, six of the evening," and all will go on
At midnight Montbar, who had complained of the noise his neighbor
made, and had removed to a room at the opposite end of the inn,
was awakened by a courier, who was none other than the groom
who had brought him his horse ready bridled and saddled in the
morning. The letter contained only these words, followed by a
Saturday, six of the evening. MORGAN.
P.S.--Do not forget, even when fighting, above all when fighting,
that Roland de Montrevel's life is safeguarded.
The young man read this reply with visible satisfaction. The
matter was no longer a mere stoppage of a diligence, but a species
of affair of honor among men of differing opinions, with clashes
of courage and bravery. It was no longer a matter of gold spilled
upon the highroad, but of blood to be shed--not of pistols loaded
with powder, and wielded by a child's hands, but of deadly weapons
handled by soldiers accustomed to their use.
For the rest, as Montbar had all the day that was dawning and
the morrow before him in which to mature his plans, he contented
himself with asking his groom to inquire which postilion would
take the coach at Mâcon at five o'clock for the two stages between
Mâcon and Belleville. He also sent him to buy four screw-rings
and two padlocks fastening with keys.
He already knew that the mail was due at Mâcon at half past four,
waited for the travellers to dine, and started again punctually
at five. No doubt all his plans were previously laid, for, after
giving these directions, Montbar dismissed his servant and went
to sleep like a man who has long arrears of slumber to make up.
The next morning he did not wake, or rather did not come downstairs
until nine o'clock. He asked casually what had become of his
noisy neighbor, and was told that he had started in the Lyons
mail at six in the morning, with his friend the colonel of the
Chasseurs; but the landlord thought they had only engaged places
as far as Tonnerre.
If Monsieur de Jayat had interested himself in the young officer,
the latter, in turn, had made inquiries about him, asking who
he was, whether he came habitually to the hotel, and whether
he would be willing to sell his horse. The landlord had replied
that he knew Monsieur de Jayat well, for he was in the habit
of coming to the hotel whenever business brought him to Mâcon,
and that, as for the horse, he did not believe, considering the
affection the young gentleman showed for the animal, that he would
consent to part with him for any price. On which the traveller
had departed without saying any more.
After breakfast M. de Jayat, who seemed to find time hanging
heavily on his hands, ordered his horse, mounted it, and rode
out from Mâcon by the Lyons road. As long as he was in the town
he allowed his horse to take the pace his fancy dictated, but
once beyond it, he gathered up the reins and pressed the animal
with his knees. The hint sufficed, and the animal broke into
Montbar passed through the villages of Varennes, La Crèche, and
Chapelle-de-Guinchay, and did not stop until he reached the
Maison-Blanche. The spot was exactly as Valensolle had described
it, and was admirably adapted for an ambuscade.
The Maison-Blanche stood in a tiny valley between a sharp declivity
and a rise in the ground. A little rivulet without a name flowed
past the corner of the garden and made its way to the Saône just
above Challe. Tall bushy trees followed the course of the little
stream, and described a half-circle, inclosing the house on three
sides. The house itself was formerly an inn which proved unproductive
to the innkeeper. It had been closed for seven or eight years,
and was beginning to fall into decay. Before reaching it, the
main road coming from Mâcon made a sharp turn.
Montbar examined the locality with the care of an engineer choosing
his ground for a battlefield. He drew a pencil and a note-book
from his pocket and made an accurate plan of the position. Then
he returned to Mâcon.
Two hours later his groom departed, carrying the plan to Morgan,
having informed his master that Antoine was the name of the postilion
who was to take the coach from Mâcon to Belleville. The groom
also gave him the four screw-rings and the two padlocks he had
Montbar ordered up a bottle of old Burgundy, and sent for Antoine.
Ten minutes later Antoine appeared. He was a fine, handsome fellow,
twenty-five or six years of age, about Montbar's height; a fact
which the latter, in looking him over from head to foot, remarked
with satisfaction. The postilion paused at the threshold, and,
carrying his hand to his hat in a military salute, he said: "Did
the citizen send for me?"
"Are you the man they call Antoine?" asked Montbar.
"At your service, and that of your company."
"Well, you can serve me, friend. But close the door and come here."
Antoine closed the door, came within two steps of Montbar, saluted
again, and said: "Ready, master."
"In the first place," said Montbar, "if you have no objections,
we'll drink a glass of wine to the health of your mistress."
"Oh! oh! My mistress!" cried Antoine. "Can fellows like me afford
mistresses? They're all very well for gentlemen such as you."
"Come, you scamp!" said Montbar. "You can't make me believe that,
with your make-up, you've made a vow of chastity."
"Oh! I don't say I'm a monk in that particular. I may have a bit
of a love-affair here and there along the high-road."
"Yes, at every tavern; and that's why we stop so often with our
return horses to drink a drop or fill a pipe."
"Confound it!" said Antoine, with an indescribable twist of the
shoulders. "A fellow must have his fun."
"Well, taste the wine, my lad. I'll warrant it won't make you
weep." And filling a glass, Montbar signed to the postilion to
fill the other.
"A fine honor for me! To your health and that of your company!"
This was an habitual phrase of the worthy postilion, a sort of
extension of politeness which did not need the presence of others
to justify it in his eyes.
"Ha!" said he, after drinking and smacking his lips, "there's
vintage for you--and I have gulped it down at a swallow as if
it were heel-taps!"
"That was a mistake, Antoine."
"Yes, it was a mistake."
"Luckily," said Montbar, refilling his glass, "you can repair it."
"No higher than my thumb, citizen," said the facetious postilion,
taking care that his thumb touched the rim of the glass.
"One minute," said Montbar, just as Antoine was putting his glass
to his lips.
"Just in time," said the postilion; "it was on its way. What is it?"
"You wouldn't let me drink to the health of your mistress, but
I hope you won't refuse to drink to mine."
"Oh! that's never refused, especially with such wine. To the health
of your mistress and her company."
Thereupon citizen Antoine swallowed the crimson liquor, tasting
and relishing it this time.
"Hey!" exclaimed Montbar, "you're in too much of a hurry, my friend."
"Pooh!" retorted the postilion.
"Yes. Suppose I have several mistresses. If I don't name the one
we drink to what good will it do her?"
"Why, that's true!"
"Sad; but you'll have to try again, my friend."
"Ha! Try again, of course! Can't do things half-way with a man
like you. The sin's committed; we'll drink again." And Antoine
held out his glass. Montbar filled it to the brim.
"Now," said Antoine, eying the bottle, and making sure it was
empty, "there must be no mistake. Her name?"
"To the beautiful Josephine!" said Montbar.
"To the beautiful Josephine!" repeated Antoine.
And he swallowed the Burgundy with increasing satisfaction. Then,
after drinking, and wiping his lips on his sleeve, he said, as
he set the glass on the table: "Hey! one moment, citizen."
"What now?" exclaimed Montbar. "Anything wrong this time?"
"I should say so. We've made a great blunder but it's too late
"The bottle is empty."
"That one, yes; but not this one."
So saying, Montbar took from the chimney corner another bottle,
"Ah! ah!" exclaimed Antoine, a radiant smile lighting his face.
"Is there any remedy for it?" asked Montbar.
"There is," replied Antoine, holding out his glass.
Montbar filled it as scrupulously full as he had the first three.
"Well," said the postilion, holding the ruby liquid to the light
and admiring its sparkle, "as I was saying, we drank to the health
of the beautiful Josephine--"
"Yes," said Montbar.
"But," said Antoine, "there are a devilish lot of Josephines in
"True. How many do you suppose there are, Antoine?"
"Perhaps a hundred thousand."
"Granted. What then?"
"Well, out of that hundred thousand a tenth of them must be
"That's a good many."
"Say a twentieth."
"That makes five thousand."
"The devil! You're strong in arithmetic!"
"I'm the son of a schoolmaster."
"Well, to which of those five thousand did we drink, hey?"
"You're right, Antoine. The family name must follow. To the beautiful
"Stop. This glass was begun; it won't do. If the health is to
do her any good, we'll have to empty it and fill it again."
He put the glass to his lips.
"There, it's empty," he said.
"And full," added Montbar, putting the bottle to the glass.
"I'm ready. To the beautiful Josephine--"
"To the beautiful Josephine--Lollier!"
And Montbar emptied his glass.
"By the Lord!" exclaimed Antoine. "Wait a moment. Josephine Lollier!
Why, I know her."
"I didn't say you didn't."
"Josephine Lollier! Why, she's the daughter of the man who keeps
the post-horses at Belleville."
"Damn it!" exclaimed the postilion, "you're not to be pitied--a
pretty slip of a girl! To the health of beautiful Josephine Lollier."
And he swallowed his fifth glass of Burgundy.
"Now," asked Montbar, "do you understand why I had you sent up
here, my lad?"
"No; but I don't bear you any grudge for it, all the same."
"That's very kind of you."
"Oh! I'm a pretty good devil."
"Well, I'll tell you why I sent for you."
"I'm all ears."
"Wait. You'll hear better if your glass is full than if it's empty."
"Are you a doctor for deaf folk?" asked the postilion, banteringly.
"No; but I've lived a good deal among drunkards," replied Montbar,
filling Antoine's glass again.
"A man is not a drunkard because he likes wine," said Antoine.
"I agree with you, my good fellow," replied Montbar. "A man is
only a drunkard when he can't carry his liquor."
"Well said," cried Antoine, who seemed to carry his pretty well.
"You told me that you didn't understand why I had sent for you."
"That's what I said."
"Still, you must have suspected that I had an object?"
"Every man has an object, good or bad, according to our priest,"
observed Antoine, sententiously.
"Well, my friend," resumed Montbar, "mine is to make my way by
night, without being recognized, into the courtyard of Master
Nicolas-Denis Lollier, postmaster at Belleville."
"At Belleville," repeated Antoine, who had followed Montbar's
words with all the attention he was capable of. "You wish to make
your way by night, without being recognized, into the courtyard
of Master Nicolas-Denis Lollier, postmaster at Belleville, in
order to see the beautiful Josephine? Ah, ha! my sly dog!"
"You have it, my dear Antoine; and I wish to get in without being
recognized, because Father Lollier has discovered everything,
and has forbidden his daughter to see me."
"You don't say so. Well, what can I do about it?"
"Your wits are still muddled, Antoine. Drink another glass of
wine to brighten them up."
"Right you are," exclaimed Antoine.
And he swallowed his sixth glass of wine.
"You ask what you can do, Antoine?"
"Yes, what can I do? That's what I ask."
"Everything, my friend."
"Ha! I'm curious to know what. Clear it up, clear it up!" And
he held out his glass.
"You drive the mail to Chambéry to-morrow, don't you?"
"Yes; at six o'clock."
"Well, suppose that Antoine is a good fellow?"
"No supposing about it; he is!"
"Well, this is what Antoine does--"
"Go on; what does he do?"
"In the first place, he empties his glass."
"Done! that's not difficult."
"Then he takes these ten louis."
Montbar spread ten louis on the table.
"Ah, ha!" exclaimed Antoine, "yellow boys, real ones. I thought
those little devils had all emigrated."
"You see there are some left."
"And what is Antoine to do to put them in his pocket?"
"Antoine must lend me his best postilion's suit."
"And let me take his place to-morrow night."
"Ah, yes; so that you can see the beautiful Josephine to-morrow
"Of course. I reach Belleville at eight, drive into the courtyard,
and say the horses are tired and must rest from eight till ten,
and from eight to ten--"
"You can fool Père Lollier."
"Well, there you are, Antoine!"
"There I am! When a fellow's young he goes with the young 'uns;
when he's a bachelor he's in with the bachelors; when he's old
and a papa, he can go with the papas, and cry, 'Long live the
"Then, my good Antoine, you'll lend me your best jacket and
"I've just got a new jacket and breeches that I've never worn."
"And you'll let me take your place?"
"Then I'll give you five louis for earnest money."
"And the rest?"
"Tomorrow, when I pull on the boots; only--there's one precaution
you must take."
"What is it?"
"There's talk of brigands robbing diligences; you'll be careful
to put the holsters on the saddle."
"No, no! Don't you go and shoot those fine young fellows."
"What! do you call robbers who pillage diligences fine young men?"
"A man's not a robber because he takes government money."
"Is that your opinion?"
"I should say so; besides, it's the opinion of a good many other
people, too. As for me, if I were a judge, I'd never in the world
"Perhaps you would drink to their health?"
"Of course, if the wine was good."
"I dare you to do it," said Montbar, emptying the last of the
second bottle into Antoine's glass.
"You know the proverb?" said the postilion.
"What is it?"
"Never defy a fool to commit his folly. To the health of the
Companions of Jehu."
"Amen!" responded Montbar.
"And the five louis?" asked Antoine, putting his glass on the
"There they are."
"Thank you; you shall have the holsters on your saddle; but take
my advice and don't put pistols in 'em; or if you do, follow Père
Jérôme's example--he's the conductor of the Geneva diligence--and
put powder and no balls in 'em."
And with that philanthropic advice, the postilion took his leave,
and went down the stairway singing a postilion's song in a vinous
Montbar followed the song conscientiously through two verses,
then, as the voice died away in the distance, he was obliged
to forego the rest of the song, however interesting he may have
THE CHAMBÉRY MAIL-COACH
The next day, at five in the afternoon, Antoine, anxious, no
doubt, not to be late, was in the courtyard of the Hôtel de la
Poste, harnessing the three horses which were to relay the
Shortly after, the coach rumbled into the courtyard at a gallop,
and was pulled up under the windows of a room close to the servants'
stairway, which had seemed greatly to occupy Antoine's attention.
If any one had paid attention to so slight a detail it might have
been observed that the window-curtain was somewhat imprudently
drawn aside to permit the occupant of the room to see the persons
who got out of the coach. There were three men, who, with the haste
of famished travellers, made their way toward the brilliantly
lighted windows of the common room.
They had scarcely entered, when a smart postilion came down the
kitchen staircase, shod simply with thin pumps over which he
intended to pull his heavy riding-boots, These he received from
Antoine, slipping five louis into his hand at the same time, and
turned for the man to throw his riding cape over his shoulders,
a protection rendered necessary by the severity of the weather.
This completed, Antoine returned hastily to the stables and hid
in the darkest corner. As for the man who had taken his place,
reassured no doubt by the high collar of the cape that concealed
half of his face, he went straight to the horses which stood
ready harnessed, slipped his pistols into the holsters, and,
profitting by the moment when the other horses were being led
into the stable by their postilion, he took a gimlet, which might
in case of need serve as a dagger, from his pocket, and screwed
the four rings into the woodwork of the coach, one into each
door, and the other two into the body of the coach. After which
he put the horses to with a rapidity and skill which bespoke
in him a man familiar from childhood with all the details of
an art pushed to extremes in our day by that honorable class of
society which we call "gentlemen riders."
That done, he waited, quieting his restless horses by voice and
whip, judiciously combined, or used in turn.
Everyone knows the rapidity with which the meals of the unhappy
beings condemned to travel by mail are hurried through. The half-hour
was not up, when the voice of the conductor was heard, calling:
"Come, citizen travellers, take your places."
Montbar placed himself close to the carriage door and recognized
Roland and the colonel of the 7th Chasseurs, perfectly, in spite of
their disguise, as they jumped into the coach, paying no attention
whatever to the postilion.
The latter closed the door upon them, slipped the padlock through
the two rings and turned the key. Then, walking around the coach,
he pretended to drop his whip before the other door, and, in
stooping for it, slipped the second padlock through the rings,
deftly turned the key as he straightened up, and, assured that
the two officers were securely locked in, he sprang upon his
horse, grumbling at the conductor who had left him to do his
work. In fact the conductor was still squabbling with the landlord
over his bill when the third traveller got into his place in
"Are you coming this evening, to-night, or to-morrow morning,
Père François?" cried the pretended postilion, imitating Antoine
as best he could.
"All right, all right, I'm coming," answered the conductor; then,
looking around him: "Why, where are the travellers?" he asked.
"Here," replied the two officers from the interior and the agent
from the coupé.
"Is the door properly closed?" persisted Père François.
"I'll answer for that," said Montbar.
"Then off you go, baggage!" cried the conductor, as he climbed
into the coupé and closed the door behind him.
The postilion did not wait to be told twice; he started his horses,
digging his spurs into the belly of the one he rode and lashing
the others vigorously. The mail-coach dashed forward at a gallop.
Montbar drove as if he had never done anything else in his life;
as he crossed the town the windows rattled and the houses shook;
never did real postilion crack his whip with greater science.
As he left Mâcon he saw a little troop of horse; they were the
twelve chasseurs told off to follow the coach without seeming
to escort it. The colonel passed his head through the window
and made a sign to the sergeant who commanded them.
Montbar did not seem to notice anything; but after going some
four or five hundred yards, he turned his head, while executing
a symphony with his whip, and saw that the escort had started.
"Wait, my babes!" said Montbar, "I'll make you see the country."
And he dug in his spurs and brought down his whip. The horses
seemed to have wings, and the coach flew over the cobblestones
like the chariot of thunder rumbling past. The conductor became
"Hey, Master Antoine," cried he, "are you drunk?"
"Drunk? fine drinking!" replied Montbar; "I dined on a beetroot
"Damn him! If he goes like that," cried Roland, thrusting his
head through the window, "the escort can't keep up."
"You hear what he says!" shrieked the conductor.
"No," replied Montbar, "I don't."
"Well, he says that if you keep this up the escort can't follow."
"Is there an escort?" asked Montbar.
"Of course; we're carrying government money."
"That's different; you ought to have said so at first."
But instead of slacking his pace the coach was whirled along
as before; if there was any change, it was for greater velocity
"Antoine, if there's an accident, I'll shoot you through the head,"
shouted the conductor.
"Run along!" exclaimed Montbar; "everybody knows those pistols
haven't any balls in them."
"Possibly not; but mine have!" cried the police agent.
"That remains to be seen," replied Montbar, keeping on his way
at the same pace without heed to these remonstrances.
On they went with the speed of lightning through the village
of Varennes, then through that of La Crêche and the little town
of Chapelle-de-Guinchay; only half a mile further and they would
reach the Maison-Blanche. The horses were dripping, and tossed
the foam from their mouths as they neighed with excitement.
Montbar glanced behind him; more than a mile back the sparks were
flying from the escort's horses. Before him was the mountainous
declivity. Down it he dashed, gathering the reins to master his
horses when the time came.
The conductor had ceased expostulating, for he saw that the hand
which guided the horses was firm and capable. But from time to
time the colonel thrust his head through the window to look for
Half-way down the slope Montbar had his horses under control,
without, however, seeming to check their course. Then he began
to sing, at the top of his voice, the "Réveil du Peuple," the
song of the royalists, just as the "Marseillaise" was the song
of the Jacobins.
"What's that rogue about?" cried Roland, putting his head through
the window. "Tell him to hold his tongue, conductor, or I'll
put a ball through his loins."
Perhaps the conductor might have repeated Roland's threat to
Montbar, but he suddenly saw a black line blocking the road. "Halt,
conductor!" thundered a voice the next moment.
"Postilion, drive over the bellies of those bandits!" shouted
the police agent.
"Drive on yourself!" said Montbar. "Do you suppose I'm going over
the stomachs of friends? Who-o-ah!"
The mail coach stopped as if by magic.
"Go on! go on!" cried Roland and the colonel, aware that the escort
was too far behind to help them.
"Ha! You villain of a postilion," cried the police agent, springing
out of the coupé, and pointing his pistol at Montbar, "you shall
pay for this."
The words were scarcely uttered when Montbar, forestalling him,
fired, and the agent rolled, mortally wounded, under the wheels
of the coach. His fingers, convulsed by death, touched the trigger
and the pistol went off, but the ball touched no one.
"Conductor," shouted the two officers, "by all the powers of heaven,
open, open, open quickly!"
"Gentlemen," said Morgan, advancing, "we are not attacking your
persons, we merely want the government money. Conductor! that
fifty thousand francs, and quickly too!"
Two shots from the interior made answer for the officers, who,
after vainly shaking the doors, were still more fruitlessly
attempting to force themselves through the windows. No doubt
one of their shots took effect, for a cry of rage was heard and
a flash illuminated the road. The colonel gave a sigh, and fell
back against Roland. He was killed outright.
Roland fired again, but no one replied to him. His pistols were
both discharged; locked in as he was he could not use his sabre,
and he howled with rage.
Meantime the conductor was forced, with a pistol at his throat,
to give up the money. Two men took the bags containing the fifty
thousand francs, and fastened them on Montbar's horse, which his
groom had brought ready saddled and bridled, as if to a meet.
Montbar kicked off his heavy boots and sprang into the saddle.
"My compliments to the First Consul, Monsieur de Montrevel!"
cried Morgan. Then, turning to his companions, he cried: "Scatter
which way you will, you know the rendezvous for to-morrow night."
"Yes, yes," replied ten or a dozen voices.
And the band dispersed like a flock of birds, disappearing down
the valley into the shadow of the trees that lined the banks
of the little river and surrounded the Maison-Blanche.
At that moment the gallop of horses was heard, and the escort,
alarmed by the pistol shots, appeared on the crest of the hill
and came down the slope like an avalanche. But it came too late;
it found only the conductor sitting dazed by the roadside, the
bodies of the colonel and of Fouché's agent, and Roland a prisoner,
roaring like a lion gnawing at the bars of its cage.
LORD GRENVILLE'S REPLY
While the events we have just recorded were transpiring, and
occupying the minds and newspapers of the provinces, other events,
of very different import, were maturing in Paris, which were
destined to occupy the minds and newspapers of the whole world.
Lord Tanlay had returned, bringing the reply of his uncle, Lord
Grenville. This reply consisted of a letter addressed to M. de
Talleyrand, inclosing a memorandum for the First Consul. The
letter was couched in the following terms:
DOWNING STREET, February 14, 1800
Sir--I have received and placed before the King the letter
which you transmitted to me through my nephew, Lord Tanlay.
His Majesty, seeing no reason to depart from the
long-established customs of Europe in treating with foreign
states, directs me to forward you in his name the official
reply which is herewith inclosed.
I have the honor to be, with the highest esteem, your very
humble and obedient servant, GRENVILLE.
The letter was dry; the memorandum curt. Moreover, the First
Consul's letter to King George was autographic, and King George,
not "departing from the long-established customs of Europe in
treating with foreign States," replied by a simple memorandum
written by a secretary.
True, the memorandum was signed "Grenville." It was a long
recrimination against France; against the spirit of disorder,
which disturbed the nation; against the fears which that spirit
of disorder inspired in all Europe; and on the necessity imposed
on the sovereigns of Europe, for the sake of their own safety, to
repress it. In short, the memorandum was virtually a continuation
of the war.
The reading of such a dictum made Bonaparte's eyes flash with the
flame which, in him, preceded his great decisions, as lightning
"So, sir," said he, turning to Lord Tanlay, "this is all you have
"Yes, citizen First Consul."
"Then you did not repeat verbally to your uncle all that I charged
you to say to him?"
"I did not omit a syllable."
"Did you tell him that you had lived in France three years, that
you had seen her, had studied her; that she was strong, powerful,
prosperous and desirous of peace while prepared for war?"
"I told him all that."
"Did you add that the war which England is making against France
is a senseless war; that the spirit of disorder of which they
speak, and which, at the worst, is only the effervescence of
freedom too long restrained, which it were wiser to confine to
France by means of a general peace; that that peace is the sole
_cordon sanitaire_ which can prevent it from crossing our
frontiers; and that if the volcano of war is lighted in France,
France will spread like lava over foreign lands. Italy is delivered,
says the King of England; but from whom? From her liberators.
Italy is delivered, but why? Because I conquered Egypt from the
Delta to the third Cataract; Italy is delivered because I was no
longer in Italy. But--I am here: in a month I can be in Italy.
What do I need to win her back from the Alps to the Adriatic? A
single battle. Do you know what Masséna is doing in defending
Genoa? Waiting for me. Ha! the sovereigns of Europe need war
to protect their crowns? Well, my lord, I tell you that I will
shake Europe until their crowns tremble on their heads. Want
war, do they? Just wait--Bourrienne! Bourrienne!"
The door between the First Consul's study and the secretary's
office opened precipitately, and Bourrienne rushed in, his face
terrified, as though he thought Bonaparte were calling for help.
But when he saw him highly excited, crumpling the diplomatic
memorandum in one hand and striking with the other on his desk,
while Lord Tanlay was standing calm, erect and silent near him,
he understood immediately that England's answer had irritated
the First Consul.
"Did you call me, general?" he asked.
"Yes," said the First Consul, "sit down there and write."
Then in a harsh, jerky voice, without seeking his words, which,
on the contrary, seemed to crowd through the portal of his brain,
he dictated the following proclamation:
SOLDIERS!--In promising peace to the French people, I was your
mouthpiece; I know your power.
You are the same men who conquered the Rhine, Holland and Italy,
and granted peace beneath the walls of astounded Vienna.
Soldiers, it is no longer our own frontiers that you have to
defend; it is the enemy's country you must now invade.
Soldiers, when the time comes, I shall be among you, and
astounded Europe shall remember that you belong to the race
Bourrienne raised his head, expectant, after writing the last
"Well, that's all," said Bonaparte.
"Shall I add the sacramental words: 'Vive la République!'?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"Because we have issued no proclamation during the last four
months, and something may be changed in the ordinary formulas."
"The proclamation will do as it is," said Bonaparte, "add nothing
Taking a pen, he dashed rather than wrote his signature at the
bottom of the paper, then handing it to Bourrienne, he said:
"See that it appears in the 'Moniteur' to-morrow."
Bourrienne left the room, carrying the proclamation with him.
Bonaparte, left alone with Lord Tanlay, walked up and down the
room for a moment, as though he had forgotten the Englishman's
presence; then he stopped suddenly before him.
"My lord," he asked, "do you think you obtained from your uncle
all that another man might have obtained in your place?"
"More, citizen First Consul."
"More! more! Pray, what have you obtained?"
"I think that the citizen First Consul did not read the royal
memorandum with all the attention it deserves."
"Heavens!" exclaimed Bonaparte, "I know it by heart."
"Then the citizen First Consul cannot have weighed the meaning
and the wording of a certain paragraph."
"You think so?"
"I am sure of it; and if the citizen First Consul will permit
me to read him the paragraph to which I allude--"
Bonaparte relaxed his hold upon the crumpled note, and handed
it to Lord Tanlay, saying: "Read it."
Sir John cast his eyes over the document, with which he seemed
to be familiar, paused at the tenth paragraph, and read:
The best and surest means for peace and security, and for their
continuance, would be the restoration of that line of princes who
for so many centuries have preserved to the French nation its
internal prosperity and the respect and consideration of foreign
countries. Such an event would have removed, and at any time will
remove, the obstacles which are now in the way of negotiations
and peace; it would guarantee to France the tranquil possession
of her former territory, and procure for all the other nations of
Europe, through a like tranquillity and peace, that security which
they are now obliged to seek by other means.
"Well," said Bonaparte, impatiently, "I have read all that, and
perfectly understood it. Be Monk, labor for another man, and
your victories, your renown, your genius will be forgiven you;
humble yourself, and you shall be allowed to remain great!"
"Citizen First Consul," said Lord Tanlay, "no one knows better
than I the difference between you and Monk, and how far you surpass
him in genius and renown."
"Then why do you read me that?"
"I only read that paragraph," replied Sir John, "to lead you
to give to the one following its due significance."
"Let's hear it," said Bonaparte, with repressed impatience.
Sir John continued:
But, however desirable such an event may be for France and for
the world, it is not to this means alone that his Majesty
restricts the possibility of a safe and sure pacification.
Sir John emphasized the last words.
"Ah! ah!" exclaimed Bonaparte, stepping hastily to Sir John's
The Englishman continued:
His Majesty does not presume to prescribe to France her form
of government, nor the hands into which she may place the
necessary authority to conduct the affairs of a great and
"Read that again, sir," said Bonaparte, eagerly.
"Read it yourself," replied Sir John.
He handed him the note, and Bonaparte re-read it.
"Was it you, sir," he asked, "who added that paragraph?"
"I certainly insisted on it."
"You are right," he said; "a great step has been taken; the return
of the Bourbons is no longer a condition _sine quâ non_.
I am accepted, not only as a military, but also as a political
power." Then, holding out his hand to Sir John, he added: "Have
you anything to ask of me, sir?"
"The only thing I seek has been asked of you by my friend Roland."
"And I answered, sir, that I shall be pleased to see you the
husband of his sister. If I were richer, or if you were less
so, I would offer to dower her"--Sir John made a motion--"but
as I know your fortune will suffice for two," added Bonaparte,
smiling, "or even more, I leave you the joy of giving not only
happiness, but also wealth to the woman you love. Bourrienne!"
"I have sent it, general," he said.
"Very good," replied the First Consul; "but that is not what I
called you for."
"I await your orders."
"At whatever hour of the day or night Lord Tanlay presents himself,
I shall be happy to receive him without delay; you hear me, my dear
Bourrienne? You hear me, my lord?"
Lord Tanlay bowed his thanks.
"And now," said Bonaparte, "I presume you are in a hurry to be
off to the Château des Noires-Fontaines. I won't detain you,
but there is one condition I impose."
"And that is, general?"
"If I need you for another mission--"
"That is not a condition, citizen First Consul; it is a favor."
Lord Tanlay bowed and withdrew.
Bourrienne prepared to follow him, but Bonaparte called him back.
"Is there a carriage below?" he asked.
Bourrienne looked into the courtyard. "Yes, general."
"Then get ready and come with me."
"I am ready, general; I have only my hat and overcoat to get,
and they are in the office."
"Then let us go," said Bonaparte.
He took up his hat and coat, went down the private staircase, and
signed to the carriage to come up. Notwithstanding Bourrienne's
haste, he got down after him. A footman opened the door; Bonaparte
"Where are we going, general?" asked Bourrienne.
"To the Tuileries," replied Bonaparte.
Bourrienne, amazed, repeated the order, and looked at the First
Consul as if to seek an explanation; but the latter was plunged
in thought, and the secretary, who at this time was still the
friend, thought it best not to disturb him.
The horses started at gallop--Bonaparte's usual mode of
progression--and took the way to the Tuileries.
The Tuileries, inhabited by Louis XVI. after the days of the 5th
and 6th of October, and occupied successively by the Convention
and the Council of Five Hundred, had remained empty and devastated
since the 18th Brumaire. Since that day Bonaparte had more than
once cast his eyes on that ancient palace of royalty; but he knew
the importance of not arousing any suspicion that a future king
might dwell in the palace of the abolished monarchy.
Bonaparte had brought back from Italy a magnificent bust of Junius
Brutus; there was no suitable place for it at the Luxembourg, and
toward the end of November, Bonaparte had sent for the Republican,
David, and ordered him to place the bust in the gallery of the
Tuileries. Who could suppose that David, the friend of Marat,
was preparing the dwelling of a future emperor by placing the
bust of Cæsar's murderer in the gallery of the Tuileries? No one
did suppose, nor even suspect it.
When Bonaparte went to see if the bust were properly placed,
he noticed the havoc committed in the palace of Catherine of
Medicis. The Tuileries were no longer the abode of kings, it
is true, but they were a national palace, and the nation could
not allow one of its palaces to become dilapidated. Bonaparte
sent for citizen Lecomte, the architect, and ordered him to
_clean_ the Tuileries. The word might be taken in both senses
--moral and physical.
The architect was requested to send in an estimate of the cost
of the cleaning. It amounted to five hundred thousand francs.
Bonaparte asked if for that sum, the Tuileries could be converted
into a suitable "palace for the government." The architect replied
that the sum named would suffice not only to restore the Tuileries
to their former condition, but to make them habitable.
A habitable palace, that was all Bonaparte wanted. How should he,
a Republican, need regal luxury? The "palace of the government"
ought to be severely plain, decorated with marbles and statues
only. But what ought those statues to be? It was the First Consul's
duty to select them.
Accordingly, Bonaparte chose them from the three great ages and
the three great nations: from the Greeks, from the Romans, from
France and her rivals. From the Greeks he chose Alexander and
Demosthenes; the genius of conquest and the genius of eloquence.
From the Romans he chose Scipio, Cicero, Cato, Brutus and Cæsar,
placing the great victim side by side with the murderer, as great
almost as himself. From the modern world he chose Gustavus Adolphus,
Turenne, the great Condé, Duguay-Trouin, Marlborough, Prince
Eugene, and the Maréchal de Saxe; and, finally, the great Frederick
and George Washington--false philosophy upon a throne, and true
wisdom founding a free state.
To these he added warlike heroes--Dampierre, Dugommier, Joubert--to
prove that, while he did not fear the memory of a Bourbon in the
great Condé, neither was he jealous of his brothers-in-arms, the
victims of a cause already no longer his.
Matters were in this state at the period of which we are now
speaking; that is, the last of February, 1800. The Tuileries had
been cleaned, the busts were in their niches, the statues were
on their pedestals; and only a favorable occasion was wanting.
That occasion came when the news of Washington's death was received.
The founder of the liberty of the United States had ceased to
breathe on the 14th of December, 1799.
It was that event of which Bonaparte was thinking, when Bourrienne
saw by the expression of his face that he must be left entirely
to the reflections which absorbed him.
The carriage stopped before the Tuileries. Bonaparte sprang out
with the same haste with which he had entered it; went rapidly
up the stairs, and through the apartments, examining more
particularly those which had been inhabited by Louis XVI. and
Marie-Antoinette. In the private study of Louis XVI. he stopped
"Here's where we will live, Bourrienne," he said, suddenly, as
if the latter had followed him through the mental labyrinth in
which he wandered, following the thread of Ariadne which we call
thought. "Yes, we will lodge here; the Third Consul can have the
Pavilion of Flora, and Cambacérès will remain at the Chancellerie."
"In that way," said Bourrienne, "when the time comes, you will
have only one to turn out."
"Come, come," said Bonaparte, catching Bourrienne by the ear,
"that's not bad."
"When shall we move in, general?" asked Bourrienne.
"Oh, not to-morrow; it will take at least a week to prepare the
Parisians to see me leave the Luxembourg for the Tuileries."
"Eight days," exclaimed Bourrienne; "that will do."
"Especially if we begin at once. Come, Bourrienne, to the
With the rapidity that characterized all his movements when serious
matters were in question, he passed through the suites of apartments
he had already visited, ran down the stairs, and sprang into the
carriage, calling out: "To the Luxembourg!"
"Wait, wait," cried Bourrienne, still in the vestibule; "general,
won't you wait for me?"
"Laggard!" exclaimed Bonaparte. And the carriage started, as it
had come, at a gallop.
When Bonaparte re-entered his study he found the minister of police
"Well, what now, citizen Fouché? You look upset. Have I, perchance,
"Citizen First Consul," said the minister, "you seemed to attach
the utmost importance to the destruction of those bands who call
themselves the Companions of Jehu."
"Evidently, since I sent Roland himself to pursue them. Have you
any news of them?"
"Their leader himself."
"He has had the audacity to send me a report of their last exploit."
"The fifty thousand francs you sent to the Saint-Bernard fathers."
"What became of them?"
"The fifty thousand francs?"
"They are in the possession of those brigands, and their leader
informs me he will transfer them shortly to Cadoudal."
"Then Roland is killed?"
"How do you mean, no?"
"My agent is killed; Colonel Maurice is killed; but your aide-de-camp
is safe and sound."
"Then he will hang himself," said Bonaparte.
"What good would that do? The rope would break; you know his luck."
"Or his misfortune, yes--Where is the report?"
"You mean the letter?"
"Letter, report, thing--whatever it was that told you this news."
The minister handed the First Consul a paper inclosed in a perfumed
"The thing you asked for."
Bonaparte read the address: "To the citizen Fouché, minister
of police. Paris." Then he opened the letter, which contained
CITIZEN MINISTER--I have the honor to inform you that the fifty
thousand francs intended for the monks of Saint-Bernard came
into our hands on the night of February 25, 1800 (old style),
and that they will reach those of citizen Cadoudal within the
The affair was well-managed, save for the deaths of your agent
and Colonel Saint-Maurice. As for M. Roland de Montrevel, I have
the satisfaction of informing you that nothing distressing has
befallen him. I did not forget that he was good enough to receive
me at the Luxembourg.
I write you, citizen minister, because I presume that M. Roland
de Montrevel is just now too much occupied in pursuing us to
write you himself. But I am sure that at his first leisure moment
you will receive from him a report containing all the details
into which I cannot enter for lack of time and facilities for
In exchange for the service I render you, citizen minister, I
will ask you to do one for me; namely, inform Madame de Montrevel,
without delay, that her son is in safety. MORGAN.
Maison-Blanche, on the road from Mâcon to Lyons, Saturday, 9 P.M.
"Ha, the devil!" said Bonaparte; "a bold scamp!" Then he added,
with a sigh: "What colonels and captains those men would make me!"
"What are your orders, citizen First Consul?" asked the minister
"None; that concerns Roland. His honor is at stake; and, as he
is not killed, he will take his revenge."
"Then the First Consul will take no further notice of the affair?"
"Not for the present, at any rate." Then, turning to his secretary,
he added, "We have other fish to fry, haven't we, Bourrienne?"
Bourrienne nodded affirmatively.
"When does the First Consul wish to see me again?" asked the
"To-night, at ten o'clock. We move out in eight days."
"Where are you going?"
"To the Tuileries."
Fouché gave a start of amazement.
"Against your opinion, I know," said the First Consul; "but I'll
take the whole business on myself; you have only to obey."
Fouché bowed, and prepared to leave the room.
"By the way!" exclaimed Bonaparte.
Fouché turned round.
"Don't forget to notify Madame de Montrevel that her son is safe
and sound; that's the least you can do for citizen Morgan after
the service he has rendered you."
And he turned his back on the minister of police, who retired,
biting his lips till the blood came.
CHANGE OF RESIDENCE
That same day, the First Consul, left alone with Bourrienne,
dictated the following order, addressed to the Consulate guard
and to the army at large:
Washington is dead! That great man fought against tyranny. He
consolidated the liberty of America. His memory will ever be dear
to the French people, to all free men in both hemispheres, but
especially to the French soldiers, who, like Washington and his
soldiers, have fought for Liberty and Equality. Consequently, the
First Consul orders that the flags and banners of the Republic
shall be hung with crape for ten days.
But the First Consul did not intend to confine himself to this
order of the day.
Among the means he took to facilitate his removal from the Luxembourg
to the Tuileries was one of those fêtes by which he knew, none better,
how to amuse the eyes and also direct the minds of the spectator. This
fête was to take place at the Invalides, or, as they said in those
days, the Temple of Mars. A bust of Washington was to be crowned, and
the flags of Aboukir were to be received from the hands of General
It was one of those combinations which Bonaparte thoroughly
understood--a flash of lightning drawn from the contact of
contrasting facts. He presented the great man of the New World,
and a great victory of the old; young America coupled with the
palms of Thebes and Memphis.
On the day fixed for the ceremony, six thousand cavalry were
in line from the Luxembourg to the Invalides. At eight o'clock,
Bonaparte mounted his horse in the main courtyard of the Consular
palace; issuing by the Rue de Tournon he took the line of the
quays, accompanied by a staff of generals, none of whom were
over thirty-five years of age.
Lannes headed the procession; behind him were sixty Guides
bearing the sixty captured flags; then came Bonaparte about
two horse's-lengths ahead of his staff.
The minister of war, Berthier, awaited the procession under the
dome of the temple. He leaned against a statue of Mars at rest,
and the ministers and councillors of state were grouped around
him. The flags of Denain and Fontenoy, and those of the first
campaign in Italy, were already suspended from the columns which
supported the roof. Two centenarian "Invalids" who had fought
beside Maréchal Saxe were standing, one to the right and one
to the left of Berthier, like caryatides of an ancient world,
gazing across the centuries. To the right, on a raised platform,
was the bust of Washington, which was now to be draped with the
flags of Aboukir. On another platform, opposite to the former,
stood Bonaparte's armchair.
On each side of the temple were tiers of seats in which was gathered
all the elegant society of Paris, or rather that portion of it which
gave its adhesion to the order of ideas then to be celebrated.
When the flags appeared, the trumpets blared, their metallic sounds
echoing through the arches of the temple,
Lannes entered first. At a sign from him, the Guides mounted
two by two the steps of the platform and placed the staffs of
the flags in the holders prepared for them. During this time
Bonaparte took his place in the chair,
Then Lannes advanced to the minister of war, and, in that voice
that rang out so clearly on the battlefield, crying "Forward!"
"Citizen minister, these are the flags of the Ottoman army, destroyed
before your eyes at Aboukir. The army of Egypt, after crossing
burning deserts, surviving thirst and hunger, found itself before
an enemy proud of his numbers and his victories, and believing
that he saw an easy prey in our troops, exhausted by their march
and incessant combats. He had yet to learn that the French soldier
is greater because he knows how to suffer than because he knows how
to vanquish, and that his courage rises and augments in danger.
Three thousand Frenchmen, as you know, fell upon eighteen thousand
barbarians, broke their ranks, forced them back, pressed them
between our lines and the sea; and the terror of our bayonets
is such that the Mussulmans, driven to choose a death, rushed
into the depths of the Mediterranean.
"On that memorable day hung the destinies of Egypt, France and
Europe, and they were saved by your courage,
"Allied Powers! if you dare to violate French territory, and if
the general who was given back to us by the victory of Aboukir
makes an appeal to the nation--Allied Powers! I say to you, that
your successes would be more fatal to you than disasters! What
Frenchman is there who would not march to victory again under
the banners of the First Consul, or serve his apprenticeship to
fame with him?"
Then, addressing the "Invalids," for whom the whole lower gallery
had been reserved, he continued in a still more powerful voice:
"And you, brave veterans, honorable victims of the fate of battles,
you will not be the last to flock under the orders of him who
knows your misfortunes and your glory, and who now delivers to
your keeping these trophies won by your valor. Ah, I know you,
veterans, you burn to sacrifice the half of your remaining lives
to your country and its freedom!"
This specimen of the military eloquence of the conqueror of
Montebello was received with deafening applause. Three times
the minister of war endeavored to make reply; and three times
the bravos cut him short. At last, however, silence came, and
Berthier expressed himself as follows:
"To raise on the banks of the Seine these trophies won on the
banks of the Nile; to hang beneath the domes of our temples,
beside the flags of Vienna, of Petersburg, of London, the banners
blessed in the mosques of Byzantium and Cairo; to see them here,
presented by the same warriors, young in years, old in glory,
whom Victory has so often crowned--these things are granted only
to Republican France.
"Yet this is but a part of what he has done, that hero, in the
flower of his age covered with the laurels of Europe, he, who
stood a victor before the Pyramids, from the summits of which
forty centuries looked down upon him while, surrounded by his
warriors and learned men, he emancipated the native soil of art
and restored to it the lights of civilization.
"Soldiers, plant in this temple of the warrior virtues those
ensigns of the Crescent, captured on the rocks of Canopus by
three thousand Frenchmen from eighteen thousand Ottomans, as
brave as they were barbarous. Let them bear witness, not to the
valor of the French soldier--the universe itself resounds to
that--but to his unalterable constancy, his sublime devotion.
Let the sight of these banners console you, veteran warriors,
you, whose bodies, gloriously mutilated on the field of honor,
deprive your courage of other exercise than hope and prayer.
Let them proclaim from that dome above us, to all the enemies
of France, the influence of genius, the value of the heroes who
captured them; forewarning of the horrors of war all those who
are deaf to our offers of peace. Yes, if they will have war,
they shall have it--war, terrible and unrelenting!
"The nation, satisfied, regards the Army of the East with pride.
"That invincible army will learn with joy that the First Consul is
watchful of its glory. It is the object of the keenest solicitude
on the part of the Republic. It will hear with pride that we have
honored it in our temples, while awaiting the moment when we
shall imitate, if need be, on the fields of Europe, the warlike
virtues it has displayed on the burning sands of Africa and Asia.
"Come, in the name of that army, intrepid general, come in the
name of those heroes among whom you now appear, and receive an
embrace in token of the national gratitude.
"And in the moment when we again take up our arms in defence of
our independence (if the blind fury of kings refuses the peace we
offer), let us cast a branch of laurel on the ashes of Washington,
that hero who freed America from the yoke of our worst and most
implacable enemy. Let his illustrious shade tell us of the glory
which follows a nation's liberator beyond the grave!"
Bonaparte now came down from his platform, and in the name of
France was embraced by Berthier.
M. de Fontanes, who was appointed to pronounce the eulogy on
Washington, waited courteously until the echoes of the torrent
of applause, which seemed to fall in cascades through the vast
amphitheatre, had died away. In the midst of these glorious
individualities, M. de Fontanes was a curiosity, half political,
half literary. After the 18th Fructidor he was proscribed with
Suard and Laharpe; but, being perfectly hidden in a friend's
house, and never going out except at night, he managed to avoid
leaving France. Nevertheless, an accident, impossible to foresee,
had betrayed him. He was knocked down one night on the Place du
Carrousel by a runaway horse, and was recognized by a policeman,
who ran to his assistance. But Fouché, who was at once informed,
not only of his presence in France, but also of his actual
hiding-place, pretended to know nothing of him.
A few days after the 18th Brumaire, Maret, who became later the
Duc de Bassano, Laplace, who continued to be simply a man of
science, and Regnault de Saint-Jean-d'Angely, who died mad, spoke
to the First Consul of M. de Fontanes and of his presence in
"Present him to me," replied the First Consul simply.
M. de Fontanes was presented to Bonaparte, who, recognizing his
supple nature and the unctuous flattery of his eloquence, chose
him to deliver the eulogy on Washington, and perhaps something
of his own at the same time.
M. de Fontanes' address was too long to be reported here; all that
we shall say about it is, that it was precisely what Bonaparte
That evening there was a grand reception at the Luxembourg. During
the ceremony a rumor was spread that the First Consul contemplated
removing to the Tuileries. Persons who were either bold or curious
ventured on a few words to Josephine. She, poor woman, who still
saw before her the tumbrel and the scaffold of Marie Antoinette,
had an instinctive horror of all that might connect her with
royalty; she therefore hesitated to reply and referred all questions
to her husband.
Then another rumor began to be bruited about which served as a
counterpoise to the former. Murat, it was said, had asked the
hand of Mademoiselle Caroline Bonaparte in marriage. But this
marriage was not without its obstacles; Bonaparte had had a quarrel,
lasting over a year, with the man who aspired to the honor of
becoming his brother-in-law. The cause of this quarrel will seem
rather strange to our readers.
Murat, the lion of the army; Murat, whose courage had become
proverbial; Murat, who might well have been taken by a sculptor
as a model for the god of war; Murat, on one occasion, when he
must have slept ill or breakfasted badly, had a moment of weakness.
It happened before Mantua, in which city Wurmser, after the battle
of Rivoli, was forced to shut himself up with twenty-eight thousand
men; General Miollis, with four thousand only, was investing
the place. During a sortie attempted by the Austrians, Murat,
at the head of five hundred men, received an order to charge
three thousand. Murat charged, but feebly. Bonaparte, whose
aide-de-camp he then was, was so irritated that he would not
suffer him to remain about him. This was a great blow to Murat,
all the more because he was at that time desirous of becoming
the general's brother-in-law; he was deeply in love with Caroline
How had that love come about? It can be told in two words. Perhaps
those who read our books singly are surprised that we sometimes
dwell on certain details which seem somewhat long drawn out for
the book in which they appear. The fact is, we are not writing
isolated books, but, as we have already said, we are filling,
or trying to fill, an immense frame. To us, the presence of our
characters is not limited to their appearance in one book. The
man you meet in one book may be a king in a second volume, and
exiled or shot in a third.
Balzac did a great and noble work with a hundred aspects, and
he called it the "Comédie Humaine." Our work, begun at the same
time as his--although, be it understood, we do not praise it--may
fitly be called "The Drama of France."
Now, let us return to Murat, and tell how this love, which had
so glorious and, possibly, so fatal an influence on his destiny,
came to him.
In 1796, Murat was sent to Paris, charged with the duty of presenting
to the Directory the flags and banners taken by the French army at
the battles of Dego and Mondovi. During this voyage he made the
acquaintance of Madame Bonaparte and Madame Tallien. At Madame
Bonaparte's house he again met Mademoiselle Caroline Bonaparte.
We say _again_, for that was not the first time he had met
the woman who was to share the crown of Naples with him. They
had met in Rome, at her brother's house, and, in spite of the
rivalry of a young and handsome Roman prince, she had shown him
a marked preference.
The three women combined to obtain for him the rank of general of
brigade from the Directory. Murat returned to the Army of Italy,
more in love than ever, and, in spite of his new rank, he solicited
and obtained the favor of remaining with the general-in-chief
as aide-de-camp. Unhappily, the fatal sortie took place soon
after, in consequence of which he fell in disgrace with Bonaparte.
This disgrace had for awhile all the characteristics of actual
enmity. Bonaparte dismissed him from his service as aide-de-camp,
and transferred him to Neille's division, and then to that of
Baraguey-d'Hilliers. The result was, that when Bonaparte returned
to Paris after the treaty of Tolentino, Murat did not accompany
This did not at all suit the female triumvirate, who had taken
the young general under its direction. The beautiful intriguers
entered into the campaign, and as the expedition to Egypt was
then preparing, they induced the minister of war to send Murat
with it. He embarked in the same ship as Bonaparte, namely the
"Orient," but the latter did not address a single word to him
during the voyage. After they reached Alexandria, Murat was at
first unable to break the icy barrier opposed to him by the general,
who, more to put him at a distance from his own person than to
give him an opportunity to distinguish himself, confronted him
with Mourad Bey. But, during that campaign, Murat performed such
prodigies of valor that he effaced, by such bravery, the memory
of that momentary weakness; he charged so intrepidly, so madly
at Aboukir, that Bonaparte had not the heart to bear him further
Consequently Murat had returned to France with Bonaparte. He
had powerfully co-operated with him on the 18th and especially
on the 19th Brumaire. He was, therefore, restored to full favor,
and, as a proof of that favor, had received the command of the
He thought this the moment to declare his love, a love already
well-known to Josephine, who favored it; for which she had two
reasons. In the first place, she was a woman in the most charming
acceptation of the word; that is to say, all the gentler passions
of women were attractive to her. Joachim loved Caroline, Caroline
loved Joachim; that was enough to make her wish to protect their
love. In the second place, Bonaparte's brothers detested Josephine;
Joseph and Lucien were her bitterest enemies, and she was not
sorry to make herself two ardent friends in Caroline and Murat.
She therefore encouraged the latter to approach Bonaparte on
Three days before the ceremony we have just described, Murat
had entered Bonaparte's study, and, after endless hesitation and
circumlocution, had proffered his request.
It is probable that the love of the young pair was no news to
Bonaparte, who, however, received it with stern gravity, and
contented himself with replying that he would think it over.
The matter, in fact, required thinking over. Bonaparte came of
a noble family, Murat was the son of an innkeeper. The alliance
at such a moment might have great significance. Was the First
Consul, in spite of his noble birth, in spite of the exalted
rank to which he had raised himself, not only sufficiently
republican, but also sufficiently democratic to mingle his blood
with that of the common people.
He did not reflect long; his strong, good sense, and his logical
mind, told him that he had every interest in allowing the marriage,
and he gave his consent to it the same day.
The double news of this marriage and of the removal to the Tuileries
was launched on the public at the same time; the one was to
counterpoise the other. The First Consul was about to occupy the
palace of the former kings, to sleep in the bed of the Bourbons,
as they said at that time, but he gave his sister to the son of
And now, it may be asked, what dowry did the future Queen of
Naples bring to the hero of Aboukir? Thirty thousand francs and
a diamond necklace, which the First Consul took from his wife,
being too poor to buy one. Josephine, who was very fond of her
necklace, pouted a little; but the gift, thus obtained, was a
triumphant reply to those who claimed that Bonaparte had made
a fortune in Italy; besides, why had she taken the interests
of the young couple so to heart? She had insisted on marrying
them, and she ought to contribute to the dowry.
The result of this clever combination was that on the day when
the Consuls left the Luxembourg for the "palace of the government,"
escorted by the _son of an innkeeper_, soon to be Bonaparte's
brother-in-law, it did not occur to those who saw the procession
pass to do otherwise than admire and applaud. And, in truth,
what could be more admirable and worthy of applause than those
processions, which had at their head such men as Murat, Moreau,
Junot, Duroc, Augereau, and Masséna?
A grand review had been ordered to take place that same day in the
square of the Carrousel. Madame Bonaparte was to be present--not,
to be sure, in the balcony of the clock-tower, that being evidently
too royal, but at the window of Lebrun's apartment in the Pavilion
Bonaparte started at one o'clock precisely from the Luxembourg,
escorted by three thousand picked men, among them the splendid
regiment of the Guides, created three years earlier as a bodyguard
to Bonaparte during the Italian campaign, in consequence of a
great danger he had escaped on one occasion. He was resting in
a small château, after the exhaustion attendant upon the passage
of the Mincio, and was preparing to take a bath, when a retreating
Austrian detachment, losing its way, invaded the château, which
had no other guard than the sentries. Bonaparte had barely time
to escape in his shirt.
A curious difficulty, which deserves to be recorded, arose on the
morning of this removal, which took place the 30th Pluviose, year
VIII. The generals, of course, had their horses and the ministers
their carriages, but the other functionaries had not yet judged
it expedient to go to such an expense. Carriages were therefore
lacking. They were supplied from the hackney coach-stands, and
slips of paper of the same color as the carriages were pasted
over their numbers.
The carriage of the First Consul alone was harnessed with six
white horses, but as the three consuls were in the same carriage,
Bonaparte and Cambacérès on the front seat, and Lebrun on the
back, it was, after all, but two horses apiece. Besides, were
not these six white horses given to the commander-in-chief by
the Emperor Francis himself, after the treaty of Campo-Formio,
a trophy in themselves?
The carriage crossed a part of Paris, following the Rue de
Thionville, the Quai Voltaire, and the Pont-Royal. From the archway
of the Carrousel to the great portal of the Tuileries the Consular
guard lined the way. As Bonaparte passed through the archway, he
raised his head and read the inscription it bore. That inscription
was as follows:
AUGUST 10, 1792.
ROYALTY IS ABOLISHED IN FRANCE
AND SHALL NEVER RISE AGAIN.
An almost imperceptible smile flickered on the First Consul's
At the door of the Tuileries, Bonaparte left the carriage and
sprang into the saddle to review the troops. When he appeared
on his war-horse the applause burst forth wildly on all sides.
After the review was over, he placed himself in front of the
clock-tower, with Murat on his right, Lannes at his left, and
the glorious staff of the Army of Italy behind him. Then began
the march past.
And now it was that one of those inspirations came to him which
engrave themselves forever on the hearts of soldiers. As the
flags of the 30th, the 96th, and the 33d demi-brigades were borne
past him, and he saw that, of those banners, there remained but
a stick and a few rags, riddled with balls and blackened with
powder, he took his hat from his head and bowed.
Then, when the march was over, he dismounted from his horse,
and, with a firm step, he walked up the grand stairway of the
Valois and the Bourbons.
That night, when he was alone with Bourrienne, the latter asked:
"Well, general, are you satisfied?"
"Yes," replied Bonaparte, dreamily, "everything went off nicely,
"I saw you standing near Madame Bonaparte at the ground-floor
window of the Pavilion of Flora."
"I saw you, too, general; you were reading the inscription on
the arch of the Carrousel."
"Yes," said Bonaparte, "'August 10,1792. Royalty is abolished
in France, and shall never rise again.'"
"Shall I have it removed?" asked Bourrienne.
"Useless," replied the First Consul, "it will fall of itself."
Then, with a sigh, he added: "Bourrienne, do you know whom I
"Roland. What the devil is he doing that he doesn't give me any
news of himself?"
We are about to see what Roland was doing.
THE FOLLOWER OF TRAILS
The reader will not have forgotten the situation in which the
escort of chasseurs found the Chambéry mail-coach.
The first thing they did was to look for the obstacle which prevented
Roland from getting out. They found the padlock and wrenched off
Roland bounded from the coach like a tiger from its cage. We have
said that the ground was covered with snow. Roland, hunter and
soldier, had but one idea--to follow the trail of the Companions
of Jehu. He had seen them disappear in the direction of Thoissy;
but he believed they were not likely to continue in that direction
because, between them and the little town ran the Saône, and
there were no bridges across the river between Belleville and
Mâcon. He ordered the escort and the conductor to wait for him
on the highroad, and alone and on foot, without even waiting
to reload his pistols, he started on the tracks of Morgan and
He was not mistaken. A mile from the highroad the fugitives had
come to the river; there they had halted, probably deliberating,
for the trampling of their horses' hoofs was plainly visible; then
they had separated into two troops, one going up the river to
Mâcon, and the other descending it in the direction of Belleville.
This separation was doubtless intended to puzzle their pursuers,
if they were pursued. Roland had heard the parting call of the
leader: "To-morrow night, you know where!" He had no doubt,
therefore, that whichever trail he followed, whether up or down--if
the snow did not melt too fast--would lead him to the rendezvous,
where, either together or singly, the Companions of Jehu were
certain to assemble.
He returned upon his own tracks, ordered the conductor to put
on the boots thrown aside by the pretended postilion, mount the
horse and take the coach to the next relay, namely Belleville.
The sergeant of chasseurs and four of his men, who knew how to
write, were to accompany the conductor and sign his report of
what had occurred. Roland forbade all mention of himself and
where he had gone, lest the brigands should get word of his future
plans. The rest of the escort were to carry back their colonel's
body, and make deposition on their own account, along the same
lines as the conductor, to the authorities, and equally without
mention of Roland.
These orders given, the young man dismounted a chasseur and took
his horse, selecting the one he thought most serviceable. Then
he reloaded his pistols, and put them in the holsters in place
of the regulation weapons of the dismounted chasseur. Having
done this, and promised the conductor and the chasseurs a speedy
vengeance, conditioned, however, on their keeping his present
proceedings secret, he mounted the horse and rode off in the
direction he had already investigated.
When he reached the spot where the two troops had separated,
he had to decide between the different trails. He chose that
which descended the Saône toward Belleville. He had excellent
reason for making this choice, although it might possibly take
him out of his way for six or eight miles. In the first place he
was nearer Belleville than Mâcon; then he had spent twenty-four
hours at Mâcon, and might be recognized there, whereas he had
never stopped at Belleville longer than the time required to
change horses when accident brought him there by post.
The events we have just recorded had taken barely an hour to
happen. Eight o'clock was striking from the church clock at
Thoissy when Roland started in pursuit of the fugitives. The
way was plain; five or six horses had left their imprint on
the snow; one of these horses had paced.
Roland jumped the two or three brooks which watered the space
he had to cross to reach Belleville. A hundred yards from the
town he paused, for here the trail separated again; two of the
six travellers had turned to the right, that is to say, they
had struck away from the river, the four others to the left,
continuing on their way to Belleville. At the outskirts of the
town, another secession had taken place; three of the riders
had gone round the town, one had entered it.
Roland followed the latter, sure that he could recover the traces
of the others. The one who had entered the town and followed
the main street had stopped at a pretty house between court and
garden, numbered 67. He had rung and some one had let him in;
for through the iron grating could be seen traces of footsteps,
and beside them the tracks of a horse being led to the stable.
It was quite evident that one, at least, of the Companions of Jehu
had stopped there. By going to the mayor of the town, exhibiting
his authority, and asking for gendarmes, Roland could have arrested
him at once. But that was not his object; he did not wish to arrest
a solitary individual; he wanted to catch the whole company in
He made a note in his mind of No. 67, and continued on his way.
He crossed the entire town and rode a few hundred paces beyond
it without meeting any fresh traces. He was about to return,
when it occurred to him that, if the tracks of the three riders
reappeared anywhere, it would be at the head of the bridge. And
there, sure enough, he found the hoof-prints of three horses,
which were undoubtedly those he sought, for one of them paced.
Roland galloped in pursuit. On reaching Monceaux--same precaution,
the riders had skirted the village; but Roland was too good a
scout to trouble himself about that. He kept on his way, and at
the other end of Monceaux he recovered the fugitives' tracks. Not
far from Châtillon one of the three horses had left the highroad,
turning to the right toward a little château, standing on a hill
a short distance from the road between Châtillon and Trévoux.
This time the three remaining riders, evidently believing they
had done enough to mislead any one who might be following, had
kept straight on through Châtillon and taken the road to Neuville.
The direction taken by the fugitives was eminently satisfactory
to Roland; they were undoubtedly on their way to Bourg; if they
had not intended to go there they would have taken the road to
Marlieux. Now, Bourg was the headquarters Roland had himself
chosen for the centre of his own operations; it was his own town,
and he knew, with the minuteness of boyish knowledge, every bush,
every ruin, every cavern in the neighborhood.
At Neuville the riders had skirted the village. Roland did not
trouble himself about a ruse, already known and thwarted; but on
the other side he found but one trail. He could not be mistaken
in that horse, however; it was the pacer. Certain of recovering
the trail again, Roland retraced his steps. The two riders had
separated at a road leading off to Vannes; one had taken that
road, the other had skirted the village, which, as we have said,
was on the road to Bourg. This was the one to follow; besides,
the gait of the horse made it easier, as it could not be confused
with any other. Moreover, he was on his way to Bourg, and between
Neuville and Bourg there was but one other village, that of
Saint-Denis. For the rest, it was not probable that the solitary
rider intended to go further than Bourg.
Roland continued on his way with more eagerness than ever, convinced
that he was nearing the end. In fact the rider had not skirted
Bourg, but had boldly entered the town. There, it seemed to Roland
that the man had hesitated, unless this hesitation were a last ruse
to hide his tracks. But after ten minutes spent in following his
devious tracks Roland was sure of his facts; it was not trickery
The print of a man's steps came from a side street; the traveller
and the pedestrian had conferred together for a moment, and then
the former had evidently employed the latter as a guide. From
that point on, the footsteps of a man went side by side with
those of the horse. Both came to an end at the hôtel de la
Belle-Alliance. Roland remembered that the horse wounded in the
attack at Les Carronnières had been brought to this inn. In all
probability there was some connivance between the inn-keeper
and the Companion of Jehu. For the rest, in all probability the
rider would stay there until the next evening. Roland felt by
his own fatigue that the man he was following must need rest.
And Roland, in order not to force his horse and the better to
reconnoitre the tracks he was following, had taken six hours
to do thirty miles.
Three o'olock was striking from the truncated bell-tower of
Nôtre-Dame. Roland debated what to do. Should he stop at some
inn in the town? Impossible, he was too well known in Bourg;
besides, his horse with its cavalry saddle-cloth would excite
suspicion. It was one of the conditions of success that his presence
at Bourg should remain unknown.
He could hide at the Château des Noires-Fontaines and keep on
the watch, but could he trust the servants? Michel and Jacques
would hold their tongues, Roland was sure of them; but Charlotte,
the jailer's daughter, she might gossip. However, it was three
o'clock in the morning, every one was asleep, and the safest
plan was certainly to put himself in communication with Michel.
Michel would find some way of concealing his presence.
To the deep regret of his horse, who had no doubt scented a stable,
Roland wheeled about and rode off in the direction of Pont-d'Ain.
As he passed the church of Brou he glanced at the barrack of the
gendarmes, where, in all probability, they and their captain
were sleeping the sleep of the righteous.
Roland cut through the little strip of forest which jutted into the
road. The snow deadened the sound of his horse's hoofs. Branching
into the road from the other side, he saw two men slinking along in
the ditch, carrying a deer slung by its forelegs to a sapling. He
thought he recognized the cut of the two men, and he spurred his
horse to overtake them. The men were on the watch; they turned,
saw the rider, who was evidently making for them, flung the animal
into the ditch, and made for the shelter of the forest of Seillon.
"Hey, Michel!" cried Roland, more and more convinced that he had
to do with his own gardener.
Michel stopped short; the other man kept on his way across the
"Hey, Jacques!" shouted Roland.
The other man stopped. If they were recognized, it was useless
to fly; besides, there was nothing hostile in the call; the voice
was friendly, rather than threatening.
"Bless me!" said Jacques, "it sounds like M. Roland."
"I do believe it is he," said Michel.
And the two men, instead of continuing their flight, returned
to the highroad.