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Etext from cadytech.com
This is a reproduction of an 1893 English translation of an 1858 novel
AT about eighteen leagues from Munich (which the Guide in Germany of Messieurs Richard and Quetinde signates as one of the most eminent cities not only of Bavaria, but of Europe; at nine leagues from Augsburg, made famous by the diet in which Melancthon, in 1530, digested the formula of the Lutheran law, at twenty-five leagues from Ratisbon which, in the obscurest rooms of its town-hall, saw, from 1662 to 1806, an assembly of the states of the German Empire) rose, like an advanced sentinel, overlooking the course of the Danube, the little town of Donauwerth.
Four roads led to the ancient city where Louis the Severe, upon an unjust suspicion of unfaithfulness, had the unfortunate Marie de Brabant decapitated; two that come from Stuttgard,that is to say from France, those of Nordlingen and Dillingen; and two that come from Austria, those of Augsburg and of Aichach. The two first follow the left bank of the Danube; the two others, situated upon the right bank of the stream, cross it, on reaching Donauwerth, over a simple wooden bridge.
At the present time, as a railroad passes to Donauwerth, and as steamboats descend the Danube from Ulm to the Black Sea, the city has become somewhat important, and affects a certain activity; but it was not thus at the commencement of this century.
And yet the old free city which, in ordinary times, seems a temple raised to the goddess Solitude and the god Silence, presented, upon the 17th of April, 1809, a spectacle so unusual to its two thousand five hundred inhabitants, that with the exception of the infants in the cradle, and infirm old men, who, the latter from their infirmity, the former from their weakness, were forced to remain at home, all the population encumbered its streets and squares, and particularly the street into which led the two streets coming from Stuttgard and the Place du Chateau.
In short, since the evening of the 13th of April, at the moment when three post-chaises, accompanied by wagons and carts, had stopped at the Hotel de l'Ecrevisse, and from the first had descended a general officer wearing, like the Emperor, a little hat and a frock-coat under his uniform, and from the two others, staff-officers; the rumor bad spread around that the victor of Marengo and Austerlitz had chosen the little town of Donauwerth as a point of departure of his operations in the new campaign which he was to open against Austria.
This general officer, whom the most curious, on that evening, had viewed through the hotel windows, was a man of fifty-six or fifty-seven years of age, whom the better-informed assorted to be the old Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neuchatel, who proceeded the Emperor but by two or three days. He had, on the night of bis arrival, sent couriers in all directions, and ordered, upon Donauwerth, a concentration of troops which, on the third day after, had commenced to operate; so that they heard nothing within and without the town, but drums and trumpets, and saw, coming from the four cardinal points only Bavarian, Wurtemburgian, and French regiments.
Let us say a word upon those two old enemies, who are called France and Austria, and of the circumstances which, having broken the treaty sworn at Presburg between the Emperor Napoleon and the Emperor Francis II., led to all this movement.
The Emperor Napoleon was at war with Spain.
This is how it happened.
The treaty of Amiens which had, in 1803, brought peace with England, had lasted but a year, England having prevailed upon John VI,, King of Portugal, to break his engagement with the Emperor of the French. Napoleon only wrote this one line; signed with his name:
“The House of Braganza has ceased to reign.”
John VI., driven from Europe, was forced to trust himself to the waves, cross the Atlantic, and demand shelter in the Portuguese colonies.
Camoens, in his shipwreck upon the coast of Cochin China, had saved his poem, which he upheld with one hand while he swam with the other. John VI., in the tempest which bore him to Rio Janeiro, was compelled to leave his crown behind him. It is true that he found another on his arrival, and that, in exchange for his lost European kingdom, he was proclaimed Emperor of Brazil.
The French armies, which had obtained passage across Spain, occupied Portugal, of which Junot was named governor.
So small a place was Portugal, that they only gave it a governor.
But the Emperor's projects stopped not there.
The treaty of Presburg, imposed upon Austria after the battle of Austerlitz, had assured to Eugene Beauharnais the vice-royalty of Italy; the treaty of Tilsit, imposed on Prussia and Russia after the battle of Friedland, had given to Jerome the kingdom of Westphalia; he now acted to displace Joseph and place Marat.
The precautions were taken.
A secret article of the treaty of Tilsit authorized the Emperor of Russia to take Finland, and the Emperor of the French to take Spain.
There now only remained an occasion to be found.
The occasion was not slow to present itself,
Murat was staying at Madrid with secret instructions. King Charles IV. complained to Murat of big quarrels with his son, who was endeavoring to make him abdicate, and who had succeeded him under the name of Ferdinand VII. Murat counseled King Charles IV. to call in his ally. Napoleon. Charles IV., who had nothing to lose, gratefully accepted the arbitrage, and Ferdinand VIII., who was not the strongest, consented with uneasiness.
Murat urged them gently toward Bayonne, where Napoleon awaited them. Once under the lion's claw, all was done for them. Charles IV. abdicated in favor of Joseph, declaring that Ferdinand VII, was unworthy to reign. Then Napoleon laid his right hand upon the father, his left upon the son; sending the former to Compeigne, the other to the Chateau of Valencais.
If this performance was agreed to by Russia, which had its recompense, it in no way satisfied England, which had gained only the Continental system. So the latter kept her eyes upon Spain, and held herself in readiness to take advantage of the first insurrection, which beside, was not slow to burst out.
The 27th of May, 1808, the day of St. Ferdinand, ten different places were in insurrection, and particularly Cadiz, where the insurgents Seized upon the French fleet, which had taken refuge there after the disastrous encounter at Trafalgar.
Then, in less time than a month, all over Spain, was spread the following catechism:
“Who art thou, my child ?”
“Spaniard, by the grace of God.”
“What do you mean by that ?”
“I mean to say that I am a good man.”
“Who is the enemy of our felicity ?”
“The Emperor of the French.”
“Who is this Emperor of the French ?”
“A wicked man, the source of all evil, the destroyer of all good, the focus of all vices.”
“How many natures has he ?”
“Two: human nature and diabolical nature.''
“How many Emperors of the French are there ?”
“One, alone, in three deceitful persons.”
“What are they called ?”
“Napoleon, Murat, and Manuel Godoi.”
“Which of the three is the worst ?”
“They are all equally bad.”
“From what is Napoleon derived ?”
“And Murat ?”
“And Godoi ?”
“From the combination of the two.”
“What is the spirit of the first ?”
“Pride and despotism.”
“Of the second ?”
“Rapine and cruelty
“Of the third ?”
“Cupidity, treachery, and ignorance.”
“Who are the French ?”
“Anciently Christians, now become heretics.”
“What torture deserves the Spaniard who fails in his duties ?”
“The death and the infamy of a traitor.”
“How ought the Spanish to conduct themselves ?”
“According to the precepts of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“What will deliver us form our enemies ?”
“Trust in each other and arms.”
“Is it a sin to put a Frenchman to death ?”
“No, father; on the contrary, one gains heaven by slaying one of these heretic dogs.”
In the above lie singular principles; but they were in harmony with the savage ignorance of the people who invoked them.
There followed a general rising which resulted in the capitulation of Baylen, signed the 22nd of July, 1808.
On the 31st of the same month, an English army disembarked in Portugal.
On the 21st of August took place the Battle of Vimiero, which cost the French a dozen pieces of cannon, and fifteen hundred men slain or wounded: finally, on the 30th, the convention of Cintra stipulated the evacuation of Portugal by Junot and his army.
The effect of this news had been terrible in Paris.
To reverse it, Napoleon knew but one remedy, his presence.
Fortune still accompanied him. The land of Spain, in its turn, saw the wonders of Rivoli, the Pyramids, Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland.
He shook the hand of the Emperor Alexander, assured himself of the dispositions of Prussia and Austria, that the new King of Saxe watched over Dresden, waiting till the new King of Westphalia, Hesse-Cassel, brought him from Germany eight thousand veterans, touched Paris in passing to announce to the legislative body that soon the eagles would be planted upon the towers of Lisbon, and forthwith set off for Spain.
He arrived at Tolosa on the 4th of November. On the 10th Marshal Soult, aided by General Mouton, made himself master of Burgos, took twenty cannon, killed three thousand Spaniards, and took an equal number of prisoners.
On the 12th, Marshal Victor defeated the army of Romana and Blake at Espinosa, killed eight thousand men, ten generals, making twelve thousand prisoners, and capturing fifty cannon.
The 23rd saw Marshal Lannes destroy the army of Palafox and Castanos, gaining thirty guns and three thousand prisoners, and slaying or drowning four thousand men at Tudela.
The road to Madrid is open ! Enter the city of Philip the Fifth, sire. Are you not the heritor of Louis XIV., and do you not know the way to all capitals ? Beside, a deputation from the city of Madrid awaits you, and comes before you to ask the pardon you would accord. Now, ascend upon the platform of the Escurial. and listen; you will hear nothing more than echoes of victory !
Stay, here comes a wind from the east, bearing the sound of the actions of Cardeden Clinas, Slobregat, San Felice, and Molino-del-Rey; five new names to write in the journals, and five the more enemies in Catalonia.
Hold, here is the west wind, in its turn, which wafts gently to your ear the tidings that Soult has beaten Moore's rear guard and has made a Spanish division lay down its arms: then, better still, your lieutenant has passed over the body of the Spaniards; he has reached the English, who have thrown themselves into their vessels, which have opened their sails and disappeared, leaving upon the field of battle the general-in-chief and two generals slain,
Here comes the north wind which, all charged with flames, bears you the news of the taking of Saragossa. They fought twenty-eight days before entering the place, sire! and, twenty-eight days more after entering, where they cut their way from house to house, as at Sagonte, Numance and Calahorra! Men have resisted, women have struggled, children have fought, priests have encouraged! The French are masters of Saragossa, that is to say of what was a city and what is now but a ruin!
Here is the south wind bringing you the news of the taking of Oporto. The insurrection is smothered, or else extinguished in Spain; Portugal is overrun, that is reconquered; you have kept your word, sire! your eagles are planted upon the towers of Lisbon.
But where are you, O vanquisher! and why, as you have come, have you departed with a bound ?
Ah! yes, your old enemy, England, has seduced Austria; she tells her that you are seven hundred leagues from Vienna, that you have need of all your forces around you, and that the moment is good to retake from you, whom Pope Pius the Seventh is going to excommunicate, like Henry IV. of Germany and Philip Augustus of France, the land of Italy and to drive you from Germany. Austria, the presumptuous, has believed it ! she has formed together five hundred thousand men, she has put them in the hands of her three Archdukes Charles, Louis and John, and has said to them: “Go, my black eagles! I give to your talons the red eagle of France.”
On the 17th of January, Napoleon set off for Valladolid; the 18th, at midnight, he struck at the door of the Tuileries, saying “Open, it is the future conqueror of Eckmuhl and Wagram!”
The future conqueror of Eckmuhl and Wagram, however, returned to Paris in very bad humor.
The Spanish war, which he had believed useful, was one he had no sympathy for; but once engaged, it had had, at least this advantage, the drawing the English to the continent.
Like the Libyan giant, it was when he touched the earth that Napoleon felt really strong. If he had been Themistocles, he would have awaited the Persians at Athens, and not have detached Athens to transport it to the gulf of Salamis.
Fortune, that mistress who had always been so faithful to him, whom he had forced to accompany him from the Adige to the Nile, or to follow him from Niemen to Mancanarez, Fortune had betrayed him at Aboukir and at Trafalgar.
And it was at the moment when he had gained three victories over the English, killing two of their generals, wounding a third, and repulsing them into the sea as Hector had done to the Greeks in the absence of Achilles, that he had been forced to quit the Peninsula, upon the announcement of what was passing in Austria and also in France.
So, arriving at the Tuileries and entering his apartments, scarce throwing a glance upon the bed although it was two o'clock in the morning, and passing from his bed-chamber into his cabinet, he said:
“Let some one go and awaken the Archchancellor, and warn the Minister of Police and the Grand Elector that I await them, the first at four o'clock, the second at five.”
“Ought her Majesty the Empress to be told of your Majesty's return ?” inquired the usher to whom this order had been given.
The Emperor reflected a moment.
“No,” said he; “I wish first to see the Minister of Police—only take care that I am not disturbed until his coming; I wish to sleep.”
The usher went out and Napoleon remained alone.
Then turning his eyes to the clock he said:
“Quarter past two; at half after I shall awake.”
And throwing himself upon an arm-chair, he extended his left hand upon the arm of the seat, passed his right band between his waistcoat and shirt, leaned his head on the mahogany back, closed his eyes, uttered a faint sigh and slept.
Napoleon possessed, like Caesar, that precious faculty of sleeping when he would, where he would, and as long as he pleased; when he once said, “I shall sleep a quarter of an hour,” it was rare that the aide-de-camp, the usher or the secretary to whom the order was given, and who, at the precise moment, entered to arouse him, found him not opening his eyes.
Beside, he had another privilege, granted like the first to men of genius; Napoleon awoke without any transition whatever from deep slumber to wakefulness; his eyes, on opening seemed immediately illuminated; his brain was as clear, his ideas as precise a second after his slumber as a second before.
The door was hardly shut behind the usher, charged to call together the three men of state, than Napoleon was asleep, and—strange thing! without one trace of the passions which agitated his mind being reflected on his face.
A single candle burned in the cabinet.
At the desire expressed by the Emperor to sleep a few minutes, the usher had taken away the two candelabras, whose too bright a light might have, striking his eyelids, affected Napoleon's eyes; he had only left the candle, by the aid of which he had lighted his master and lit the candelabras.
The entire cabinet swam thus in one of those soft and transparent half-tints which give to objects so charming and so vaporous a vagueness. It is in the midst of this luminous obscurity, or this obscure light as you will, that pass those dreams caused by sleep, or appear those phantoms which are invoked by remorse.
One would have believed that one of those dreams or one of those phantoms had waited but for this mysterious light to reign around the Emperor; for, instantly he had closed his eyes, the tapestry, which fell before a little door it hid, was upraised, and there appeared a white form having, thanks to the gauze which wrapped it and its flexibility of movements, all the fantastic aspect of a shade.
The figure stopped an instant in the door, as in an encasement of shadows; then with a step so light, so aerial, that the silence was not broken even by the creak of the floor, she slowly approached Napoleon.
When near him, she held out from a cloud of muslin a charming hand which she placed upon the back of the chair, near that head which seemed one of the Roman emperors; she sometime kept her eyes upon the visage, calm as a medal of Augustus, uttered a half retained sigh, laid her left hand upon her heart to compress its beatings, bent over, retaining her breath, kissed the sleeper's brow more with her breath than with her lips, and feeling at that contact, all light as it was, a quiver of the muscles of that face, before so immovable that one would think it a wax mask, she drew herself quickly back.
The motion she had provoked, however, was as imperceptible as passing; that calm countenance, wrinkled a moment by that breath of love, as is the lake by the breeze of night, resumed its placid physiognomy, while, with and still on her heart, the shadowy visitor approached the bureau, wrote some lines on a half sheet of paper, returned to the sleeper, slipped the paper into the opening produced between the shirt and the waistcoat by the introduction of a hand no less white and delicate than her own; then, as lightly as she came, smothering the sound of her steps in the carpet's soft thickness, disappeared by the same door that had given her entrance.
Some seconds after the vanishing of this vision, and as the clock was about to ring the half after two, the sleeper opened his eyes and withdrew his hand from his breast.
The half hour sounded.
Napoleon smiled as would have smiled Augustus, at seeing that he was as much master of himself asleep as awake, and picked up a paper which had fallen as he took out his hand.
Upon this paper, he distinguished some written words, and bent toward the only light which lit up the apartment; but before he could decipher the words, he had recognized the writing.
He sighed and read:
“Thou art here! I have embraced thee. She who loves thee more than all the world.”
“Josephine !” murmured he, looking around him, as if he expected to see her appear in the depths of the apartment or leap from behind some piece of furniture.
But he was really alone.
At this moment, the door opened, the usher entered carrying the two candelabras, and announced:
“His excellence Monsieur the Archchancellor.”
Napoleon arose, went to the mantel-piece, leant upon it and waited.
Behind the usher appeared the high personage who had been introduced.
REGIS DE CAMBACERES was, at this period, fifty-six years of age, that is to say, fifteen or sixteen years older than they called him.
As to character, he was a kind and benevolent man. A wise jurisconsult, he had succeeded his father as counselor to the court of the exchequer; in 1792 he had been elected deputy to the National Convention; on the 19th of January, 1793, he had voted for the reprieve; he had become in 1794, president of the. committee of public safety; had been appointed the following year, minister of justice; in 1799, had been chosen by Bonaparte as second consul; lastly, in 1804, had been named Archchancellor, created Prince of the Empire, and made Duke of Parma.
As to constitution, he was a man of middling stature, tending to turn to obesity, fond of good living, affected in dress, who, though one of the gentlemen of the long robe, had taken to the air of the court, with a facility and promptitude which was well appreciated by the great reconstructor of the social edifice.
Then, in the eyes of Napoleon, he had yet another sort of merit: Cambaceres had perfectly comprehended that the man of genius who had advanced upon the political scene and who, passing by his side, had attached his fortune to his own, and as his equal received him in his familiarity, had a right to his respect in becoming that elect of destiny who, at the time of which we write, commanded Europe; without descending to humility, he placed himself in the position—not of a man who flatters—but of one who admires.
So, always ready to obey the Emperor's first desire, a quarter of an hour had sufficed for him to make his dressing in a style which would be judged irreproachable in the circle of the Tuileries, and, though aroused at two o'clock of the morning, that is to say in the midst of his slumber, which was to him essentially disagreeable, he arrived with as lively an eye and as smiling a mouth as would have been seen in him at seven o'clock of the evening, to wit, the hour when, after having left table and taken his coffee, he was enjoying that happy state, which, at the end of a good dinner, accompanies an easy digestion.
The visage which received him was far from having the air of good humor which lit up his own; so, perceiving it, the Archchancellor made a movement which bore resemblance to a step in retreat.
Napoleon, with his eagle eye, from which not only nothing of great things escaped, but also none of little ones, saw the movement, understood the cause, and softening the expression of his face, said:
“Oh, come ! come ! M. the Archchancellor! it is not you whom I want !”
“ I hope your Majesty may never want me,” responded Cambaceres; “for I should be a most unfortunate man the day when I incur your displeasure.”
At this moment the valet de chambre retired, leaving the two candelabras and taking the candles.
“Constant,” said the Emperor, “close the door, watch in the ante-chamber and let the person whom I expect enter the green saloon.”
Then turning to Cambaceres, he said, as he breathed after a long suffocation:
“Ah, here I am in France! here I am at the Tuileries ! We are alone, M. the Archchancellor, let us speak with open hearts.”
“Sire,” said the Archchancellor, “apart from the respect which sets a barrier to my words, I never speak otherwise to your Majesty.”
The Emperor fixed upon him a piercing look.
“You fatigue, Cambaceres: you make sad; contrary to the others, whose design is to throw light, you efface things each day; I do not like that; think that, in the civil order, you are the first after me.”
“I know that your Majesty has treated me according to his generosity and not agreeably to my merits.”
'“You are wrong, I have treated you pursuant to your worth; it is for that I entrusted to you the bringing up of the laws, not only when they were born, but during the gestation of their mother Justice, before they were born. Well, the Code of criminal examination does not move, does not advance: I told you that I wished it to be terminated in the year 1808, but, here we are at the 23rd of January, 1809, and, although the legislative body will remain assembled during my absence, this code is not finished and may not be perhaps for three months yet.”
“Will your Majesty permit me to say, upon that subject, the whole truth?” hazarded the Archchancellor,
“Proceed,” said the Emperor.
“Well, sire, I see—I do not say with fear, for I should have no fear while your Majesty holds the sword or the scepter—I see, with regret, that a spirit of inquietude and indiscipline commences to glide over all.”
“You have no need to say that, sir, I see it! and it is as much to combat that spirit as to contest the Austrians that I came here.”
“So, for instance, sire,” resumed Cambaceres, “the legislative body—”
“The legislative body,” repeated Napoleon, accenting the two words and shrugging his shoulders.
“The legislative body,” continued Cambaceres, like a man determined to finish his thought, “the legislative body, where the rare opposers never can unite more than twelve or fifteen votes against the projects that we submit, the legislative body still resist us, and twice put eighty black balls, once one hundred.”
“Well, I will overturn the legislative body!”
“No, sire, you will select a moment when it will be more disposed for approbation. Remain in Paris—when your Majesty is at Paris, all goes swimmingly.”
“I know that; but, unfortunately. I cannot stay.”
“So much the worse !”
“Yes, so much the worse! Just now I recollected the word, and it reminds me of a certain Malet.”
“Does your Majesty say that he cannot remain in Paris ?”
“Do yon think that it was to remain in Paris that I came in four days from Valladolid ? No; in three months I must be in Vienna.”
“Oh, sire !” said Cambaceres, with a sigh, “still war.”
“You, also, Cambaceres? But it is I who has made this war?”
“Sire, Spain,” ventured the Archchancellor.
“Yes, that was, perhaps; but why have I undertaken it ? Because I believe myself sure of the peace with the North. Can I doubt that with Russia for ally, Westphalia and Holland for sisters, Bavaria for friend, Prussia reduced to an army of forty thousand men, can I doubt that from Austria I will cut one of her two heads—Italy? Can I doubt that Austria will find means to raise and arm five hundred thousand men against me ? But they are in the waters of the Lethe, and not in those of the Danube, which runs to Vienna. They have forgotten even the lessons of experience! They must learn new ones ! They shall, and, this time, terrible ones, I answer for it !
“I do not wish war—I have no interest in it—and the whole of Europe is witness that all my efforts, all my attentions, were directed toward that field of battle which England has chosen, namely, Spain. Austria, who has once already saved the English, in 1805, at the moment when I was about to cross the Straits of Dover, saves them again today, at the moment when I was about to drive them, from the first to the last, into the sea ! I know quite well that, disappearing in one place, they would re-appear in another; but England is not, like France, a warlike nation: it is a commercial nation, it is Carthage, without Hannibal. I shall have finished by exhausting its soldiers, or by forcing it to leave India; and, if the Emperor Alexander is true to his word, it is there that I expect—Oh, Austria ! Austria ! She shall pay dearly for this diversion ! She shall instantly disarm, or she shall be made to sustain a war of destruction. If she disarms in a manner that will leave me no doubts of her future intentions, I will myself replace the sword in the sheath, for I am not desirous to draw it save in Spain and against the English. Otherwise I will throw four hundred thousand men upon Vienna, and, for the future, England will have no more allies on the Continent.”
“Four hundred thousand men, sire,” repeated Cambaceres.
“You ask me where they are, do you not ?”
“Yes, sire: I can scarce see a hundred thousand disposable.”
“Ah! they commence to count my soldiers, and you are one of first, the Archchancellor !”
“They say; 'He has no more than two hundred thousand men: but a hundred and fifty thousand, but a hundred thousand!' They say; 'We may escape the master enfeebled, the master is no more than two armies !' They are wrong—”
Napoleon struck his forehead.
“My strength is here !”
Then, extending both his arena, he added:
“And here are my armies. You would like to know how I can get together four hundred thousand men ? I will tell you.”
“I will tell you—not for you, Cambaceres, who may perhaps yet have faith in my fortune—I will tell you that you may repeat it to others. My army of the Rhine counts one-and-twenty regiments of infantry, which are four battalions each; they ought to have five; but in face of reality, not illusion ! that will make me eighty-four battalions strong; that is to say, seventy thousand infantry. I have, over that, my four divisions, Carra, St. Cyr, Legrand, Boudet and Molltor; they are only three battalions, say thirty thousand men; that makes a hundred thousand, without reckoning the five thousand men of the division Dupas. I have fourteen regiments of cuirassiers, which will give me twelve thousand horsemen at least, and taking all that remain disposable in the depots, I shall bear away fourteen thousand. I have seventeen regiments of light cavalry, put them at seventeen thousand men; besides, my depots overflow with dragoons ready formed; they will come from Languedoc, Guieene, Poitou, and Anjou, so I shall easily have five or six thousand. We have already a hundred thousand infantry and thirty-five thousand cavalry,”
“Sire, all that only amounts to one hundred and thirty-five thousand men, and your Majesty said four hundred thousand.”
“Wait; twenty thousand artillery, twenty of the guard, a hundred thousand Germans.”
“That sire, makes in all two hundred and seventy-five thousand men.”
“Good ! I will draw fifty thousand from my Italian army; they will march by Tarvis and join me in Bavaria. Add to them ten thousand Italians and ten thousand Frenchmen drawn from Dalmatia, and we have seventy thousand men the more.”
“Which makes us three hundred and forty-five thousand men.”
“Well, you will see that we shall have too many in a moment.”
“I seek for the balance, sire.”
“You forget my conscripts, sir, you forget that your senate authorized, in last September, two levies of men.”
“One, that of 1809, is already under arms; that of 1810 ought not, according to the law, serve the first year, save in the interior.”
“ Yes, sir; but do you believe that one hundred and fifty departments are not sufficient for eighty thousand men ? No; I shall carry the levy to a hundred thousand, and I will have a recall of twenty thousand upon the classes of 1809, 1808, 1807, and 1806. That will give me eighty thousand men, and eighty thousand men made, men of twenty, twenty-one, two, and three years of age, whilst those of 1810 are but eighteen years old, so I can, without inconvenience, let them grow up.”
“Sire, the one hundred and fifteen departments every year have never furnished more than three hundred and thirty-seven thousand men of the age of military service; take one hundred thousand men from three hundred and thirty-seven thousand, that is, taking more than a quarter, and there is not a population that would not soon perish if they took each year a quarter of the males who have reached the age of manhood.”
“And who told you they are to be taken every year ? These eighty thousand men are to form my guard; it will be for them but a three months' affair. Once is not always, it is the first and the last. Before the end of April, I shall be upon the Danube with four hundred thousand men; then, as she has done today, Austria may count my legions, and I tell you, if she forces ma to strike, Europe will be forever dismayed at the blows I will strike!”
“Your Majesty has no other orders to give me ?” said he.
“Tomorrow let the legislative body assemble.”
“It has been in session since your departure, sire.”
“That is true—tomorrow it will know my will.”
Cambaceres made a movement to withdraw; but returning, he said:
“Your Majesty spoke of a certain General Malet—”
“Ah! you're right—but it is with M. Fouche, I will speak of that. Say, as you pass, that they may send me M. Fouche, who ought to be in the green saloon,”
Cambaceres bowed and went toward the door, when, as he reached it, Napoleon cried in his most gentle voice, accompanying the farewell with a friendly sign:
“Adieu, my dear Archchancellor.”
This made the latter leave the room more tranquil for himself, but no less uneasy for France.
Again alone, Napoleon paced the room with long strides.
Since nine years of reigning, for the consulate had been a reign, be had seen, beneath the admiration he had inspired, mistrust and disapprobation even, but never doubt.
They doubted now—what ? his good fortune.
They even blamed! and from whence had he first been censured ? in his army, in his guard, in his veterans.
Baylen, with its fatal capitulation, had dealt a terrible blow to his renown.
Varus, at least, had been slain with the three legions he had asked of Augustus: Varus had not surrendered.
Before quitting Valladolid even, Napoleon was instructed upon all which Cambaceres had told him, and on more beside.
The evening of his departure, he had reviewed his grenadiers; he had been informed that these praetorians murmured at his leaving them in Spain; he wished to see all these old faces embrowned by the sun of Italy and Egypt, to know if they had the audacity to be discontented.
He dismounted and passed their ranks on foot.
The grenadiers, mute and gloomy, presented arms; not a single cry of “Vive l'Empereur!” was to be heard. One man muttered;
“Sire, in France!”
This is what Napoleon expected.
With an irresistible movement he snatched the gun from his hands and drawing him from the ranks, said;
“Wretch! you deserve to be shot, and but little keeps me from doing it.”
Then addressing the others, he added:
“Ah, I know how it is; you wish to return to Paris, to resume your habits and your mistresses. Well, I will keep you under arms twenty-four years!”
And he threw the gun back to the grenadier, who let it fall from grief.
In this moment of exasperation, he perceived General Legendre, one of the signers of the capitulation of Baylen.
He went right up to him with a threatening eye.
The general stopped as if his feet had taken root in the ground.
“Your hand, general,” said he.
The general held out his hand with hesitation.
“This hand,” said the Emperor, regarding it, “how is it that it has not withered by signing the capitulation of Baylen!”
And he threw it from him as he would have done that of a traitor.
The general who, in signing, had only obeyed superior orders, remained thunderstruck.
Then Napoleon, mounting his horse, with flaming visage, had returned to Valladolid from whence, as we have said, he started the following day for France.
He was still in this frame of mind when the usher, again opening the door, announced:
“His Excellency the Minister of Police.”
And Fouche's pale face, more pallid from fear, appeared hesitatingly upon the door-sill.
“Yes, sire,” said Napoleon, “I can understand why you hesitate to present yourself to me.”
Fouche was one of those characters which recede before the unknown danger, but who march to it, or await it, when it has taken a form.
“I, sire?” said he raising his head with its yellow hair, livid tint, sleepy blue eyes and large mouth; “I, the former iron monger of Lyons, why should I hesitate to present myself before your Majesty?”
“Because I am not a Louis XVI. !”
“Your Majesty makes allusion—and it is not the first time—to my vote of the 19th January—”
“What if I do make allusion to that ?”
“I answer then that, as deputy to the National Convention, I swore an oath to the nation and not to the king; I kept my oath to the nation.”
“And to whom did you make oath on the 13th Thermidor, the year VII.? Was it to me ?”
“Why did you then serve me so well on the 18th Brumaire?”
“Does your Majesty recollect the saying of Louis XIV.: 'The State, it is I?' ”
“Well, sire, on the 18th Brumaire, the nation was you; that is why I served you.”
“That did not prevent me, in 1803, from taking away the portfolio from you.”
“Your Majesty hoped to find a Minister of Police, if not more faithful, at least more skilful, than I—He returned me my portfolio in 1804.”
Napoleon made a few paces before the mantel, his head bowed upon his breast, crushing in his hand the paper on which Josephine had written some words.
“Who authorized you,” demanded he, suddenly stopping, uplifting his bead and fixing his falcon eye, as Dante says, upon his Minister of Police, “who authorized you to speak of divorce to the Empress ?”
If Fouche had not been too far from the light, one could have seen a more livid tint than the first pass over his countenance.
“Sire,” responded he, “I thought I knew that your Majesty ardently desires divorce.”
“Have I confided that desire to you ?”
“I said I thought I knew, and I also thought it would be agreeable to your Majesty to prepare the Empress for the sacrifice.”
“Yes, brutally, according to your habit.”
“Sire, one never changes his nature; I commenced by being perfect among the Oratorians and by commanding unruly children: there has always remained to me some of my youth's impatience, I am a tree without fruit, ask no flowers of me.”
“Monsieur Fouche, your friend” (Napoleon designedly emphasized these two words), “your friend M. de Talleyrand makes but one recommendation to his servants; 'Not too much zeal.' ”
“I will borrow his axiom to apply it to you; you had too much zeal, that time; I wish no one to precede me in affairs of state or affairs of family.”
Fouche kept silence.
“And, apropos of M. de Talleyrand,” said the Emperor, “how comes it that, having left you mortal enemies, I find you intimate friends ? During ten years of reciprocal hate and disparagement, I have heard you treat him as a frivolous diplomatist, and have heard him treat you as a rude intriguer; you, scorning a diplomacy which goes alone, you pretend, while aided by victory; he, railing the vain display of a police which the general submission renders easy and even useless. Is the situation so serious that, sacrificing yourself to the nation, as you say, you mutually forget your disagreements? Reproached by officials, you are publicly reconciled, and publicly visit; you say in a low tone that I may meet in Spain the knife of a fanatic or in Austria a cannon-ball; is that what you say ?”
“Sire,” rejoined Fouche, “Spanish knives have known great kings: witness Henry IV. Austrian bullets are known to captains: witness Turenne and Marshal Berwick.”
“You reply by a flattery to a fact, sir; I am not dead, and do not wish my succession to be shared and I living.”
“Sire, that idea is far from all my thoughts, and especially from ours.”
“So little is it far from your thoughts, on the contrary, my successor is already chosen, designated by you. Why have they not had him consecrated in advance? The moment is a good one—the Pope is about to excommunicate me! Do you believe, sir, that the crown of France fits all heads ? They may make of a grand-duke of Saxe a king of Saxe, Monsieur; but they do not make of a grand-duke of Berri a king of France nor an emperor of the French; to be one, he must be of the blood of Saint Louis; to be the other, he must be of mine. It is true that you have a means of hastening the moment when I shall be no more.”
“Sire,” said Fouche, “I wait for your Majesty to indicate that means to me.”
“Eh, morbleau ! it is to leave conspirators unpunished.”
“What ! have men conspired against your Majesty and remained unpunished ? Sire, name them.”
“Oh, that's nothing difficult, and I will name you three.”
“Your Majesty means the pretended conspiracy discovered by your Prefect of Police, M. Dubois ?”
“Yes, my Prefect of Police, M. Dubois, who is not like you, devoted to the nation, Monsieur Fouche, but who is devoted to me.”
Fouche slightly shrugged his shoulders; the movement, imperceptible, as it was, did not escape the emperor.
“Raise your shoulders, not daring to raise your voice !” said Napoleon, frowning. “I never like these strong minds; they make plots.”
“Does your Majesty know the men he speaks of ?”
“I know two of them, sir, I know General Malet, an incorrigible conspirator.”
“Does your Majesty believe that General Malet conspires ?”
“I am sure of it,”
“And your Majesty fears a conspiracy headed by a madman ?”
“You are doubly wrong; first, I fear nothing; next, General Malet is not a madman.”
“He is at least a monomaniac.”
“Yes but one whose monomania is terrible, you will allow; for it consists in taking advantage, one day or another, of my absence, also in waiting until I am three hundred, four hundred, six hundred leagues, perhaps, away, to suddenly spread around the rumor of my death, and with that tidings, make an uprising.”
“Does your Majesty believe the thing possible?”
“While I have no heir, yes.”
“That's why I made so bold as to speak of divorce to her Majesty the Empress.”
“Do not let us return to that. You scorn Malet; you have set him at liberty. Do you know one thing, Monsieur, one thing that my Minister of Police knows ? It is that Malet is but one of the threads of an invisible conspiracy which even has hold in my army !”
“Ah, yes, the Philadelphians—does your Majesty believe in the magic of Colonel Oudet?”
“I believe in Arena, Monsieur; I believe in Cadoudal—I believe in Moreau. General Malet is one of these dreamers, one of these illuminati, one of these madmen if you will; but one of those dangerous madmen who must have cells and strait jackets; you have put yours at liberty ! As for the second conspirator, M. Servan, is he a madman ? rather a regicide !”
“Like me, sire.”
“Yes, but a regicide of the class of the Girondists, an old lover of Madame Roland, a man who, as the minister of Louis XVI., betrayed Louis XVI., and who to wipe away his disgrace made the 10th August.”
“With the people.”
“Monsieur, the people did what they were made to do! See your two faubourgs, the Faubourg Saint Marceau and the Faubourg Saint Antoine so disturbed under Alexandre and Santerre, do they stir today when my hand is over them ? I do not know the third fanatic, a M. Florent Guyot, but I know Malet and Servan; would you set those two at defiance ! beside one is a general, the other a colonel; it is a bad example under a military government, for two officers to conspire.”
“Sire, an eye shall be kept upon them.”
“And now, Monsieur, there remains for me to make a reproach more grave than I have yet addressed you.”
Fouche bowed like a man who awaits.
“What have you done with the public mind, sir ?”
Fouche understood perfectly; only, to have time to answer he pretended not to have heard aright.
“The public mind ?” repeated he; “I must ask what your Majesty means ?”
“I mean,” resumed Napoleon, whose anger passed all words, “you have allowed minds to wander upon the events of the day, you have permitted them to interpret my last campaign, marked at each step by success, as a campaign overflowing with reverses. Such are the words by which Paris elevates the foreigner ! Do you know from whence they come ? From Saint Petersburg. I have enemies whom you give free speech; you let them say that my authority is enfeebled, that the nation is disgusted at my policy, that my means of action are diminished; the result is, Austria, who believes all this idle talk, deems the moment favorable and would attack me—but, enemies without or within, I will exterminate all ! By the bye, you received my letter the 31st of December ?”
“Which, sire ?”
“Dated from Benevent.”
“That in which there was question of the sons of emigres ?”
“You seem to have forgotten it a little.”
“Would your Majesty have me repeat it word for word ?”
“I will not be displeased at assuring myself of your memory. Let us have it.”
“First,” said Fouche, drawing a portfolio from his pocket, “here's the letter.”
And he took the letter from the portfolio,
“Ah, ah!” said Napoleon, “you have it about you ?”
“Your Majesty's autographical correspondence never quits me, sire. When I was prefect with the Oratorians, I every morning read my breviary; since I have become Minister of Police, I each morning read your Majesty's letters. Here,” continued Fouche without opening the letter, “here is what this dispatch contains—”
“Oh, sir, it is not the text I want, it is the substance.”
“Well. Your Majesty said that the families of emigres have kept their children from the conscription; he added that he desired me to draw up a list of ten of these families from each department and of fifty from Paris, that there might be sent to the military school of Saint Cyr all the young men of those families who should be of the age of eighteen years. Your Majesty added besides that, if they lodged any complaints, I was to purely and simply reply that it was his pleasure.”
“That is correct ! I do not wish, by the division of families which are not in the system, a fraction of France, minute though it be, to keep back efforts which make the present generation form the glory of the generation to come—now go, that is all I have to say.”
Fouche bowed; but as he did not retire with the promptitude of a dismissed man, Napoleon inquired:
“Sire, returned the Minister, “your Majesty has told me many things to prove that my police is badly formed.”
“I will state one fact alone to prove the contrary. At Bayonne your Majesty stopped two hours.”
“Your Majesty had a report presented him,”
“A report ?”
“Yes, upon things he believes he has against me, a report desiring me to be revoked and replaced by M. Savary.”
“Is that report signed ? ”
“It is signed, sire; and just as I have upon me your Majesty's letters, your Majesty has that report—there, sire, in the left pocket of your coat.”
And, with his finger, Fouche designated the part of the uniform where was situated the. pocket.
“You see, sire,” added he, “that my police is as well made as upon certain points, are those of M. Lenoir and M. Sartine.”
And without waiting for the Emperor's reply, Fouche, who was near the door, disappeared.
Napoleon said nothing; only he put his hand in the pocket, drew out a sheet of paper folded twice, unfolded it, cast his eyes upon it, then turning to the door, he said, with an almost imperceptible smile:
“Ah ! you are right; you are still the most skillful.”
And added in a lower tone:
“Why are you not also honest ?”
Then tearing the paper, he threw the fragments into the fire.
At this moment the usher announced:
“His Excellency the Grand Chamberlain.”
And the smiling face of the Prince of Benevento appeared behind that of the usher.
Poets invent nothing.
When, accompanying the Prussian armies who went to fight at Valmy, Goethe, that prince of doubt, that king of sophism, wrote his drama of Faust, he never surely imagined that God had already created his human hero as well as his diabolical character, and that the two were incessantly appearing upon the scene, the one with his dreamy brow, the other with his cloven foot.
Only, the Faust of God was called Napoleon; only, the Mephistopheles of God was called Talleyrand.
As Faust was sounding the depths of science, Napoleon was exhausting politics; and as Mephistopheles caused Faust's ruin by saying: “again! again!” so did Talleyrand lose Napoleon by saying: “Always! always!”
The same also as Faust, in his moments of disgust, endeavored to deliver himself from. Mephistopheles, Napoleon, in his hours of doubt, attempted to withdraw himself from Talleyrand; but, as if they were bound to each other by an infernal compact, they were not separated, but when the soul of the dreamer, the poet, the conqueror, fell into the abyss.
Perhaps, of the three persons sent for by the Emperor, that heart which beat the quickest was that of M. de Talleyrand; but, to a certainty, it was he who presented himself with the most smiling air.
Napoleon regarded him with a sort of nervous shudder; then, extending his hand that he might penetrate no farther into the cabinet, he said:
“Prince de Benevento, I have but two words to say to you. What I most of all in the world detest are not those persons who disavow me; but those who, to disavow me, disavow themselves. You say all around that you are a stranger to the Duke d'Enghein's death; above all you repeat that you are a stranger to the war with Spain. A stranger to the Duke d'Enghein's death ? you counseled it in writing ! a stranger to the Spanish war ? I have letters in which you adjured me to recommence the policy of Louis XIV ! Monsieur de Talleyrand, to fail in memory is a great defect in my eyes; you will send me tomorrow your key as chamberlain, which not only is destined, but has already been given beforehand to M. de Montesquiou.”
Thereupon, without adding a word, without dismissing the Prince, without taking leave of him, Napoleon left the cabinet by the door which led to Josephine's apartments.
M. de Talleyrand staggered as on the day when, upon the steps of the Church of St. Dennis, he had received a cuff from Maubreuil; but, this time, the shock only hurt his fortune, and the Grand Chamberlain reckoned, as Mephistopheles upon Faust, upon gaining back more than he had lost.
And now our readers will recollect that, in that same night, Napoleon had said to Cambaceres that he would be before the end of April upon the Danube with four hundred thousand men; that is why, on the 11th April, in the morning, all the population of Donauwerth crowded the streets and squares of the city
It expected Napoleon.
TOWARD nine o'clock of the morning, a great movement swayed the throng, and cries, running like flame along a train of powder, from the extremity of the Street of Dillingen toward the center of the town, announced that something new had happened.
What had occurred was this; a courier clad in green and gold lace, preceded the Emperor's coach, which was coming half a league behind him.
He rapidly crossed the Street of Dillingen, making signs with his whip for the crowd to open and give him passage; then he proceeded up the streets which mounted to the upper city; reappeared upon the castle square, and was buried under the massive portal of the former Abbey of Holy Cross, become the royal palace.
It was here that lodgings had been prepared for the Emperor, and that Berthier awaited,
The courier's arrival had brought, however, no news to the Prince of Neuchatel: holding an excellent glass, and mounted upon the abbey roof, he had, ten minutes before the courier's coining, descried the imperial coaches advancing at full speed along the highway.
On April the 9th, the Archduke Charles sent the following letter, addressed to the “General-in-Chief of the French Army.” The letter bore no other direction; was it the Emperor Napoleon whom the Archduke Charles designated by this title, and was the Marquis de Buonaparte for him as for the Abbe Loriquet, only the General-in-Chief of his Majesty Louis XVIII ? If thus it was, the Archduke inclined to stubbornness ! Whether it was the General-in-Chief, the Marshal, the Prince, the King or the Emperor who was designated by that title, here is what the letter contained:
“After the declaration of his Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, I warn M. the General-in-Chief of the French Army, that I have the order to proceed onward with the troops placed under my command, and treat as enemies all those who offer me resistance.”
This letter was dated the 9th; on the evening of the 12th, the Emperor Napoleon, at that moment at the Tuileries, had been informed by a telegraphic despatch, of the commencement of hostilities.
He set off on the morning of the 13th, and on the 16th, reached Dillingen, where he had fought the King of Bavaria, who had abandoned his capital, and retired twenty leagues from it.
Fatigued with his seventy-two hours' march, Napoleon had stopped at Dillingen to pass the night, and had promised to restore the fugitive king to his capital before fifteen days.
Then, at seven in the morning, he had again set off, and, doubtless wishing to regain that lost night, he had ridden with slackened bridle.
He passed through the streets like a lightning flash, climbed the mountain's steep without relaxing the pace of the horses, and finally put foot to ground in the castle court, at the foot of the staircase where the Major-General awaited him.
Compliments were brief with Napoleon; he let fall one “Good day, Berthier !” which the Prince of Neuchatel received grumbling and biting his nails as habitual to him, made a sign of the hand to the staff, and guided by a dozen domestics placed like stakes driven into the ground for landmarks, he darted toward the apartment which had been prepared for him.
A large map of Bavaria, on which each tree, torrent, valley, village, every house even, indicated, awaited him, ready opened on an
Napoleon ran to the table, while an aide-de-camp laid upon a stand the travelling portfolio, and the servant drew the bed from its leathern wrapper, and arranged it in a corner of the saloon.
“Well,” said he to Berthier, putting his finger upon Donauwerth, otherwise upon the place he was now in; “are you in communication with Davoust ?”
“Yes, sire,” rejoined Berthier.
“With Massena ?”
“With Oudinot ?”
“All's right, then. Where are they ?”
“Marshal Davoust is at Ratisbon, Marshal Massena and General Oudinot are at Augsburg; the officers sent by each of them awaited your Majesty to give him news.”
“Have you sent spies out ?”
“Two have already returned; I expect soon the third, the most skilful.”
“What are you to do ?”
“I shall, as closely as possible, conform to your Majesty's plans, which are to march direct from Ratisbon upon Vienna by the high road of the Danube, confiding to the stream the sick, the wounded, and all the weighty portions of the army.”
“Good ! the boats will not fail you; I have brought up all that could he found upon the rivers and streams of Bavaria and they should descend into the Danube as soon as they cross the tributary streams; lately I have brought twelve hundred of my best Boulogne seamen in case we have a battle upon the islands. Have you purchased the picks and shovels ?”
“Fifty thousand; is that enough ?”
“It is not too much—to conclude, what have you done since the evening of the thirteenth you were here ?”
“I first of all ordered a concentration of all the troops at Ratisbon—”
“Did you not receive my letter which ordered you, on the contrary, to unite them at Augsburg ?”
“I did, sire; I, consequently, countermanded the order, and sent Oudinot and his men, they having already started; but I believed it my duty to leave Davoust at Ratisbon.”
“Then the army is divided into two masses: one at Ratisbon, the other at Augsburg ?”
“With the Bavarians between the two.”
“Has there been any collision in any spot ?”
“Yes, at Landshut.”
“Between whom ?”
“Between the Austrians and the Bavarians ?”
“What division ?”
“The division Duroc.”
“Are the Bavarians well conducted ?”
“Perfectly, sire; nevertheless, they were obliged to fall back from four times their number.”
“Where are they at this moment ?”
“Here, sire, in the forest of Durnbach, protected by the Abens.”
“What number are they ?”
“To the number of about twenty seven thousand.”
“And where is the Archduke ?”
“Between the Isar and Ratisbon, sire; but the country is so covered, that it is impossible to have positive information.”
“Bid the officer who came from Marshal Davoust enter.”
Berthier transmitted the order to an aide-de-camp, who opened a door, and introduced a young officer of the light horse, appearing to be from twenty-five to twenty-six years of age.
The Emperor cast upon the newcomer a rapid glance and made a satisfied sign; it was impossible to see a finer and more elegant horseman.
“You come from Ratisbon, Lieutenant ?” said the Emperor.
“Yes, sire,” returned the young officer.
“At what hour did you start ?”
“At one of the morning, sire,”
“Are you sent by Davoust ?”
“In what situation was he at the moment of your departure ?”
“Sire, he had with him four divisions of infantry, one of cuirassiers, one of light cavalry.”
“In all ?”
“About fifty thousand men, sire; only Generals Nansouty and Espagne, with the heavy cavalry and a portion of the light cavalry; General Demont, with the four battalions and the park, have taken the left of the Danube.”
“Was the concentration around Ratisbon made without difficulty ?”
“Sire, the divisions Gudin, Morand and St. Hilaire arrived without firing a shot; but the division Friant, which covered them, has constantly been skirmishing with the enemy, and, although it has destroyed all the bridges of the Wils behind it, it is probable that today Marshal Davoust will be attacked at Ratisbon.”
“How many hours did it take you to come from Ratisbon here ?”
“Seven hours, sire.”
“The distance is—”
“Are you too much fatigued to take the saddle again in two hours ?”
“His Majesty knows well that no one is ever fatigued in his service. Let another horse be given me and I will go when your Majesty pleases.”
“Your name ?”
“Go, and lie down for two hours. Lieutenant; but be ready in two hours.”
Lieutenant Richard saluted and then went out.
At this moment an aide-de-camp came to speak to Berthier in a low tone.
“Let Marshal Massena's envoy enter,” said the Emperor.
“Sire,” responded Berthier, “I do not think it necessary; I questioned him and drew from him all it is useful to know; Massena is at Augsburg with Oudinot, Molitor, Boudet, the Bavarians and the Wurtemburgers, that is to say with about ninety thousand men. But I believe I have something better to offer your Majesty.”
“The spy has returned.”
“He passed through the Austrian lines.”
“Let him come in.”
“Your Majesty knows that these men often refuse to speak before many persons.”
“Leave me alone with him.”
“Does not your Majesty fear—”
“What have I to fear ?”
“They speak of illuminati, of fanatics.”
“Let him enter first and I will see if you may leave me alone with him.”
Berthier went and opened a little door giving entrance to a cabinet and drew out a man of thirty years of age, clad in the dress of a woodcutter of the Black Forest.
The man made a few steps into the chamber, then he stopped before Napoleon and, making the military salute, said:
“May God preserve your Majesty from all evil.”
The Emperor eyed him attentively.
“Oh, oh ! it seems we are acquainted, my man!”
“Sire, it is I who, the eve of Austerlitz, gave you, at the bivouac, information upon the positions of the Russian and Austrian army.”
“Information perfectly exact, Master Schlick.”
“Ah, time and thunder !” cried the false woodcutter employing the oath most used by the Germans, “the Emperor remembers me ! All's right, then !”
“Yes,” said the Emperor, “all is right.” And, making a sign to the chief of staff, he added:
“I think you can without inconvenience leave me alone with this man.”
This was probably the thought of the Prince of Neuchatel also; for he withdrew with his aide-de-camps without making the least observation.
“First of all,” said the Emperor “let us get on more quickly. Can you give me news of the Archduke ?”
“Of him or of his army, sire ?”
“Of both, it possible.”
“Yes, sire, I can tell you of both; I have one of my cousins who serves in his army and my brother-in-law who is his valet-de-chambre.”
“Where is he, and where is the greater part of his army ?”
“Without reckoning General Beilegarde's fifty thousand men who march from Bohemia to the Danube, and who ought, at Ratisbon, exchange cannon-shot with Marshal Davoust, the Archduke has under his hand one hundred and fifty thousand men; the 10th of last April, the Prince with sixty thousand men, crossed the Inn.”
“Can you follow upon a map all the movements which you name ?”
“Why not ? one has been to school, thank heaven ?”
The Emperor pointed out to the spy the map spread upon the table.
“Then, look out the Inn upon that map.”
The spy had only need to throw a glance upon it, and put his finger between Passau. and Tittmaning.
“It was here, sire,” said he, “that the Archduke crossed the river; at the same time General Hohenzollern, with thirty thousand men, passed it above Mulheim; lastly, another body of forty thousand men, commanded—I can't say by whom, for I was by the Archduke, whom I never lost sight of, crossed the river at Scharding.”
“Near the Danube, therefore ?”
“But how is it that, having passed the Inn on the 10th, the Austrians are not farther advanced ?”
“Ah! because they were benumbed with cold and remained for four days between the Inn and the Isar; it was but yesterday that they passed the Isar before Landshut, and there they were warmed—”
“By the Bavarians ?”
“By the Bavarians; only, as the latter, with their twenty-seven or twenty-eight thousand men, could not resist, they retired into the forest of Durnbach.”
“So we are no more than a dozen leagues from the enemy ?”
“Not so much as that even ! for, since the morning he has been marching. It is true that one cannot march quickly when one is forced to cross a network of little rivers, like the Abens, to the left the great and little Labor; to the right, woods, swamps and marshes, and they have only two causeways, that from Landshut at Neustadt, and that from Landshut at Kelheim,”
“There remains to him still that of Eckmuhl, which leads more directly to Ratisbon.”
“Sire, I saw the Austrian troops moving on the two other roads, and knowing that your Majesty should be today at Donauwerth and that he would wish to have news, I set out and here I am.”
“That is right; you have not told me much; but I have learnt what you know.”
“Will not your Majesty ask me other questions ?”
“Of what ?”
“Of the state of the country, for instance; upon the secret societies, the holy Vehm.”
“What ! you are paying attention to that sort of business, are you?”
“I take care of all in my line.”
“Well, I ask nothing better than to know what Germany thinks of us.”
“She is simply exasperated against the French, who, not content with beating and humiliating her, occupy and devour her.”
“These Germans of yours don't know Marshal Saxe's proverb: 'War must nourish war' ”
“Excuse me, sire, they do know it; but they would rather have themselves nourished than nourish others. Thus, sire, they speak of freeing those princes who do not know how to deliver themselves from you.”
“Ah, ah! by what means'”
“By two means; the first is general insurrection.”
Napoleon made a movement of his lips which meant scorn.
“That might happen if I was beaten by the Archduke Charles; but—”
“But ?” repeated the spy. “But I shall beat him,” said Napoleon, “and consequently the insurrection will not take place. Pass on to the second means of deliverance.”
“The second is a stab of a knife, sire.” “Bah ! they do not kill a man like me.” “They killed Caesar.” “Ah ! circumstances are different; then it was a piece of good luck for Caesar to be killed. He was something like fifty-three years of age, that is to say, the age when the genius of man commences to decline; he had always been fortunate: 'Fortune loves young men !' as Louis XIV. said to M. de Villeroy; she had perhaps turned her back on him. One or two defeats, and Caesar would no more have been an Alexander; he would have been a Pyrrhus or a Hannibal. He had the luck to find twenty fools who did not understand that Caesar was not a Roman, but was the soul of Rome; they slew the Emperor, but from the very blood of the Emperor, was born the Empire ! Be easy, I am not of the age of Caesar; France is not, in 1800, what Rome was in the year 44 B.C. I they will not kill me, Master Schlick.”
And Napoleon began laughing at this historical outbreak he had made before a peasant; it is true that he had answered less to that peasant than to his own thought.
“That is all possible,” returned Schlick; “but I no less caution your Majesty to pay attention to those hands which approached too near, and above all, when those hands belong to the members of the Union of Virtue.”
“I thought all these associations extinct.”
“Sire, the German Princes and Queen Louise, especially, have rekindled them with vigor; so that at this hour there are, perhaps, in Germany, two thousand young men who have vowed to assassinate you.”
“And has this sect places of meeting ?”
“Undoubtedly; not only points of Union, but, moreover, its formulas, its initiations, its devices, its signs of recognition.”
“How do you know all this ?”
“I am one of it.”
Napoleon, despite himself, made a step back.
“Oh, fear nothing, sire. I am, like the buckler is for the armor—to parry the blows.”
“And where do the members meet ?”
“Wherever there is a ruin or a cave; the Germans are great lovers of the picturesque, as your Majesty knows, and they mingle poetry with everything. For example, if your Majesty goes to Abensberg, and visits the old castle, the castle in ruins which crowns the mountains and overlooks the Abens—well, in one of its halls I was received, eight days ago.”
“Well and good;” said Napoleon; “without giving the intelligence more attention than it deserves, I shall not neglect it. Go ! I will look to you when I have need of you.”
Schlick saluted and left by the same door which had given him entrance.
Napoleon remained pensive.
“A knife-thrust !” murmured he, “he is right, 'tis soon given and as soon received ! Henry IV., also, prepared an expedition against Germany, when he was stabbed; but Henry IV. was of the age of fifty-seven years like Caesar, he has achieved his work. I!—I have not finished mine; and then great misfortunes do not come but when one is past fifty; Hannibal, Mithridates, Caesar, Henry IV. There was Alexander, who died at three-and-thirty years,” added he, “but to die like Alexander is not a misfortune.”
At this moment an aide-de-camp entered.
“What is it ?” demanded Napoleon.
“Sire,” said the aide-de-camp, “it's an officer arriving from the Italian army, and coming from the Viceroy. Does your Majesty wish to see him ?”
“Yes, this instant !” said Napoleon, “bid him enter.”
“Enter, sir,” said the aide-de-camp.
The officer appeared upon the sill of the door, holding his three-cornered hat in his hand.
He was a young man of from twenty-five to twenty-six years of age, wearing the uniform of the officers of the Viceroy's staff, to wit, a blue coat with silver shoulder-knots, and the collar broidered with silver.
As for his appearance, there must something peculiar have existed in it, for, on seeing him, Napoleon who was on the point of speaking, stopped short; then, eyeing the young man from head to foot, he inquired:
“What is the object of this masquerade, sir ?”
The young man looked round about him to be sure that this question was addressed to him: but seeing that he was alone with the Emperor, he said:
“ Sire, excuse me; I do not understand.”
“Why have you this blue coat on, instead of the green one you wore just now ?”
“Sire, since the two years I have had the honor to form a part his Highness the Viceroy's staff, I have worn no other dress than that under which I have the honor of presenting myself to you.”
“Since when have you arrived ? ”
“I just got down from my horse, sire.”
“Whence came you ?”
“What's your name ?”
Napoleon looked at the young man with still more attention.
“Have you some letters from Eugene for me ?”
At the same time the young man drew from his pocket a letter bearing the arms of the Viceroy of Italy.
“What if this letter had been taken from you,” asked Napoleon, “or it had been lost ?”
“His Highness made me learn it by heart,”
“But, sir,” said Napoleon, “will you tell me how it is that an hour ago you came from Ratisbon in the costume of a light horseman of the guard, and how, ten minutes ago, you came from Pordenone in the dress of an officer of Eugene's staff ? how, in short, are you charged at the one time to give me news from Davoust and from the Viceroy of Italy ?”
“I beg your pardon, sire, but did not your Majesty say that an hour ago there arrived, coming from Marshal Davoust, an officer of the guard ?”
“An hour ago, yes.”
“About five or six-and-twenty years ?”
“Of your age.”
“Who resembles me ? ”
“So as to be taken for you.”
“And he is called ?—your Majesty will excuse my questioning him, but I am so glad !”
“He is called Lieutenant Richard.”
“He is my brother, sire I my twin brother ! it's five years since we saw each other.”
“Ah ! I comprehend—well, you shall see him.”
“Oh, sire, let me embrace him Dear Paul and I will go anywhere on the instant after.”
“Are you in a state to journey again ?”
“Sire, I hope to have the honor of bearing your orders.”
“Well ! go and embrace your brother, and hold yourself ready to start.”
The young man, at the summit of his joy, saluted and went out.
Napoleon, once more alone, unsealed the letter.
Upon the first lines, his brow became clouded.
“Oh, Eugene! Eugene!” said he, “my weakness for you has blinded me; a good colonel, not so good a general, and a bad general-in-chief! The Army of Italy in retreat upon Sacile, all of a rear guard destroyed by the fault of General Sahuc! Luckily I shall have no need of the Army of Italy—Berthier! Berthier!”
The chief of the staff appeared.
“My plan is stopped,” said Napoleon.
“Have ten couriers ready to bear my orders, let each order be tripled and sent to its destination by three different roads.”
WHILE Napoleon gives to ten different messengers orders whose results we shall soon see; while the two brothers, Paul and Louis Richard, who have not met for five years, and whose astonishing resemblance had led to the singular quid pro quo which was produced under our eyes, are throwing themselves into each other's arms, with the feeling of two brothers who at any moment may be separated by a ball or a bullet, let us see what passes in the little town of Abensberg, situated about seven or eight leagues from Ratisbon.
Four young men from sixteen to eighteen years of age, belonging, one to the University of Heidelberg, the other to the University of Leipsic, the third to the University of Tubingen, the fourth to the University of Gottingen, are walking along, arm-in-arm, singing the march of Major Schill, who came to uprear at Berlin the standard of revolt against Napoleon.
At the sound of this march, another young man of about twenty or twenty-one years of age, seated near a young girl of sixteen years who was embroidering at a tambourine-frame whilst her sister, a child of nine years, played in a corner with her doll, started, rose and went to the window.
At the moment when the four singers passed, they perceived his brow, which had become slightly pale in a second riveted to the glass, and they made him a sign which he replied to with another almost imperceptible. The young girl, on seeing him rise, had followed him with her eyes and, skillfully as had been made the sign by which he had answered, she had remarked it.
“What is it, Frederic ?” inquired she.
“Nothing, my dear Margaret,” replied the young man, resuming his seat beside her.
The young girl whom we designate by the name of Margaret was, in all respects, worthy to bear that name, if we give it for patron the poetic creation of Goethe's which was then quite the rage in Germany.
She was fair as a true daughter of Arminius, with blue eyes the color of the sky; her long hair, when untwisted, would fall to the ground, and, when she bent over the bank of the Abens to look like an undine into the transparent river, the water, which murmuring with astonishment, went to flow into the Danube, believed it was reflecting the image of some woman turned to a flower, or some flower transformed into a woman.
Her sister was yet only one of those white and rosy children who play upon the golden sands which destiny scatters from heaping hands upon the delicious path over which one enters life.
As for the student who, on hearing Major Schill's March, had flattened his face against the window-pane and who, on Margaret's call had seated himself by her side, he was, as we have said, a young man of twenty, of middling stature, a little thin, either from fatigue or night studies, or from one of those terrible thoughts which shade the face of Cassius or Jacques Clements; his long light hair, curling naturally, fell upon his shoulders; his mouth was small, but firm in contour, and, when opened, displayed teeth white as pearls; an undefinable expression of melancholy overspread his countenance.
“Nothing,'' he had responded on coming to reseat himself by Margaret; but that reply had not encouraged the young girl; and though she had not answered and had, in appearance, resumed working with the utmost attention, Frederic, who enclosed her in his ardent regard, had seen two tears silently hang upon the long eyelashes, tremble and instant at their extremity like two pearls, and fall upon the carpet.
The little girl, who had quitted the corner where she had been playing to come and ask Margaret's advice upon her doll's dress, saw the tears fall also; for, with the indiscretion and simple curiosity of children, she inquired:
“Why are you weeping. Sister Margaret ? Has Frederic made you cry ?”
These words struck the student to the depths of his heart.
He knelt down at the young girl's feet:
“Oh Margaret ! dear Margaret,” said he, “pardon me.”
“Pardon what ?” demanded the young girl, casting upon her lover her fine eyes, still humid with that rain of the heart which is called tears.
“Pardon me my sadness, my preoccupation, my folly even !”
The young girl shook her head, but said nothing.
“Listen to me,” resumed Frederic, “there may he a means yet for us to be happy.”
“Oh, what is it ? say it !” rejoined the maiden; “and if it is in my power for me to give you happiness, if I must sacrifice my life, you shall be happy, Staps !”
“Well, obtain from your father the permission for our marriage without delay, and, once married, let us fly ! let us quit Germany; let us go into some corner of the world where that man's name has not been heard.”
“You require two impossible things, my poor Frederic,” responded the young girl. “Leave my father ! you well know, when you told me for the first time that you loved me, and when I, in my heart's simplicity said that I also loved you, you know well that an indisputable condition was attached by me to our union.”
“Yes,” said Fritz, rising and pressing his head between his two hands; “yes, not to quit your father, it is true.”
And, after making a few steps into the chamber, he fell, near the window, upon a large armchair.
The young girl rose in her turn, and went to kneel before him.
“Fritz,” said she, “be reasonable! you know our position; you know my father's scanty fortune; my mother, on dying, left him with a child in the cradle, and I have taken her place in the cares of the house and those which Lieschen must receive—”
“I know, Margaret, you are an angel, and you learn nothing new when I say that.”
“I should have believed you had forgotten that, nevertheless, Frederic, when you propose our marriage, for us to fly, for me to abandon my father.”
“But if your father consents?”
“Oh, selfish heart !” said the young girl. “There's no doubt he would consent, because in one hand be would hold my happiness, in his other his isolation, and be would rather live alone than have his daughter unhappy.”
“He would not live alone, Margaret, for little Lieschen would he with him.”
“And what service could that little child of eight years render him, if he could exist an impossible life ? My fathers curacy brings him in four hundred thalers; well, thanks to my economy, that sum suffices for the needs of us three; but, when another person would be here, four hundred thalers would not be enough for two.”
“My parents have some fortune, Margaret: they will make a sacrifice, and your father shall want for nothing.”
“What of his daughter, ingrate ? what of his daughter whom you bereave him of ? O Staps, when you entered this house that fine spring morning; when you saluted the inmates with the friendly words: 'God and happiness be with pure hearts and humble fortunes !' you should have said: 'M. Stiller, you are receiving a man who will love your daughter Margaret—and who, when he shall be beloved by her, in recompense for your paternal welcome, your cordial hospitality will do all he can to take away your daughter, under the pretext that he can only be happy in a country where the name of Napoleon has not resounded.' ”
“Oh, Margaret—Margaret ! I cannot, nevertheless, be happy but on that condition, I swear to you; and, beside,” muttered he, in a scarcely intelligible voice, “I shall not be happy but by breaking the most holy oaths !”
It may be that Margaret had not heard the second portion of the phrase which the young man had forced through his closed teeth, or it may be that, having heard them, she had not understood; in either case, however, she only replied to the first part.
“You can only be happy in a land where the name of the terrible Emperor has never been heard, you say ? Where is this land ? in what part of the world is it situated ? You have doubtless some way, poor dear insane one, to reach one of the stars which twinkle above our heads; and yet, who can say that the inhabitants of those planets do not hang over to see what happens in our world ?”
“You are right,” responded Frederic, attempting to smile; “and it is I who am a madman.”
“ No, Fritz,” said Margaret, with profound sadness “no, you are not a madman. I know what you are.”
“You are a conspirator, Fritz.”
“Do they call him a conspirator who would free his country ?” cried the young man, and from his eyes was ejected a double flame.
“They call conspirator him who forms part of a secret society or of a mysterious brotherhood. Can you look me in the face and dare you say that you do not belong to the Burschenshaft.*”
* Burschenschaft: a union of all the universities in one general fraternity.
“Why should I deny it ? All Germany's loyal hearts are with us.”
“Dare you say, Frederic, that Major Schill's March which you heard, which made you start, rise and go to the window, is not a signal ?”
“Margaret,” rejoined Fritz, “see how I love you, and how that love I bear to you is ready to make me do shameful things. Yes, I do belong to the Union of Virtue; yes, I am one of the wissende; yes, that march is a signal; yes, what you have not said, the Antichrist is but eight leagues from us; well, if you tell me: 'Frederic, let us go and be happy ! let us live one for the other, and one by the other !' I will forget my friends—my oaths; I will forget Germany, and go with you, Margaret, leaving my name to be nailed with a dagger to the defaming tree ! Dare you say, now, that I love you not !”
Wissende: those who know or are in a secret; a term which comes down from the ancient Tribunal of the Fehm Gericht.
“In you turn, Frederic, you shall see if I do not love you also. Why do you not take a gun ? why are you not in the ranks of the defenders of Germany ? why are you not fighting in the name of your country ? you risk your life, it is true; but all Germans owe their lives to Germany.”
“So have I thought, Margaret; but that man is enchanted: like the old knights of our legends, be passes through the midst of fire, balls and bullets, and the fire is extinguished, the balls fall short, the bullets go wide of the mark !”
“Yes, but is the steel more sure ?”
“Fritz, here's my father ! for heaven's sake, hide from him what you have not concealed from me: he will curse thee and drive thee away !”
“Is he then, so bad a German and so good a Frenchman ?” said Fritz, with a bitter smile.
“He is neither German nor French, he is a Christian! he deplores all wars which sovereigns style glorious encounters, and which he calls cruel butcheries, and his good heart has wished the realization of that impossible dream, the seeing men loving instead of hating each other !”
And, while little Lieschen, leaving her doll and playthings, ran to meet Pastor Stiller, Margaret resumed her work upon which rolled two new tears which she did not even try to conceal like the previous ones.
The pastor entered, very sad—almost dejected. He embraced his two daughters and held out his hand to Frederic.
“Well,” demanded Staps, “what news ?”
“Hark !” said the pastor, “listen.”
Every one lent the ear and they heard the Austrian trumpeters sounding Lutzow's March.
“Ah,” cried Frederic with joy, “here at last are the avengers !”
And he rushed out of the house, to be one of the first, to welcome those soldiers whom the Archduke Charles entitled the Savers of Germany.
They were the men of the Austrian General Thierry, who was going to take his position at Arnhofen.
On the very instant even, scouts were sent out toward Ratisbon.
The result of their inquiries was that Napoleon had that very morning arrived at Donauwerth.
It would be difficult to tell the impression which this news had upon the Austrian soldiers; but, unquestionably it had the influence to exalt the hatred of the students of the different universities who, no one knew why, for some time since had seemed to be assembling in the little town of Abensberg.
A second time four students, arm in arm, passed through the place singing Major Schill's March, as If they feared it had not been heard the first time.
Aside from the tidings of Napoleon's arrival at Donauwerth, all other news was vague: the Austrian officers, and even the general himself, had not one certain detail upon the position of the French army; they only knew that the greater portion of the troops were at Ratisbon and Augsberg,
They made a halt; they hesitated to venture, without more positive information, into the country thickly wooded and intersected by many little rivers.
Night came; the posts were placed with all the precautions of watch-words and countersigns which are taken before an enemy. The sentinels were all over, even on the draw-bridge of the old castle in the ruins of Abensberg.
The sentinels were every hour relieved. He who watched from midnight to one of the morning, at the post of the old castle, saw, at that moment when the last stroke of twelve sounded, two men enveloped in cloaks approaching him.
He cried: “Who goes there ?”
“Friends !” replied in German one of the two men.
Then, nearing the sentinel and opening his mantle to prove that he did not bear arms either offensive or defensive, he gave the watchword with such exactness that the sentinel made no attempt to stop the passage of him and his companion.
Five minutes after, another man appeared.
The same challenge was said, the like precautions taken and the same answer returned.
Fourteen persons alike wrapped up in brown mantles, passed in this manner between midnight and a quarter of an hour later, marching sometime one by one, again two together and often by threes, but nevermore.
Once past the sentinel, each of these mysterious personages drew a black mask from under his mantle and fitted it to his face.
A quarter after twelve rang out at the moment when the two last presented themselves, making the number sixteen.
These latter are the ones we will follow.
Like the others, they crossed the draw-bridge; like the others, they entered the ruins; but, on reaching a gigantic pillar which seemed of itself to support the whole vault, the one of the two men who went before the other, stopped.
“Lieutenant,” said he in French, in a low tone, “do not forget that it is no schoolboy's prank we are playing; either of us recognized, we are dead men.”
“I know it,” responded the second; “but do you believe they will recognize me by my accent?”
“Oh, no ! you speak German like a native, and if you are recognized it will not be by your words.”
“Then, by what will they find me out ? It is not from my face, since we are masked.”
“The moment will come when you must unmask.”
“This is the first time I ever was in Abensberg, and I was in Ratisbon since yesterday only.”
“Have you seriously reflected ?”
“I have reflected.”
“Again I remind you that it is no childish game they play there, although they are boys who play it; it is a life or death affair; upon a suspicion, you will be stabbed !”
“You speak of life as if it were an important thing to one who risks his any day upon the battle-field.”
“On the field of battle, yes, 'tis all very well, in broad daylight, to gain a second epaulette or a cross; but here, if the worst comes, it is darkly the thing happens, in the gloom, at the bottom of a cave ! No one delights in being struck in the back or strangled like a Russian czar or an Ottoman vizier.”
“Master Schlick,” said, in a firm voice, he in whom the other thought to inspire fears, “I have received a mission and I shall accomplish it.”
“Be it so,” returned the spy, “I have warned you, you are free to do as you please.”
“I am warned.”
“In case of danger, do not calculate upon my aid; I will only share your fate and not save you. I think much of the napoleons of his Majesty the Emperor of the French; but I think still more of my head.”
“I claim nothing from you, but the thing you have engaged yourself to do, to wit, to introduce me among the brothers of the Union of Virtue, and present me to them as an adept.”
“Remark that at the least danger I shall deny you and rather thrice than once, like St. Peter.”
“I permit you to do so.”
“So you persist ?”
“Then, say no more.”
With these words. Master Schlick pushed a spring hidden in the sculpture of a pillar which turned upon itself, and discovered a narrow opening large enough for a man to pass.
A flight of stairs seemed to conduct to a subterranean hall; it was lit up by a lamp, suspended in the very inside of the pillar, which may have been a dozen feet in exterior circumference.
The guide, through the eyeholes in black mask, threw a last look upon his companion as if to say:
“There is time yet.”
And, in truth, they were out of the sentinel's sight; not a sound was to be heard in the ruins, and a black sky, without moon or stars, seemed to weigh down upon the holes which the hand of time had made in the gigantic walls.
“Let us go on,” said the one of the two companions who is unknown to us.
As if he had only waited for these last words, the guide stepped upon the winding stairs.
The stranger followed him.
Behind them the door closed.
Arriving at the bottom of the steps, he who served as guide to the other encountered a door of bronze, upon which he knocked three times at different equally distant intervals; each of the three blows resounded on the door as if the striker had beat an Indian tom-tom.
“Attention!” said Schlick, “the door will open, and the watcher awaits us on the other side.”
The door indeed opened and a masked man presented himself at the opening; it was the watcher.
“What hour is it ?” demanded the watcher of the two companions.
“The hour when comes the day,” responded Schlick.
What dost thou do so early in the morning ?”
“I rose with the day.”
“What to do ?”
“Whence comest thou ?”
“From the west.”
“By whom art thou sent ?”
“By the avenger.”
“Give the proof of thy mission.”
“ 'Tis here.”
And he presented to the watcher a little piece of wood of octagonal form, like those which hang to the keys of the German inns.
Upon this slip was written the word BADEN.
The watcher thereupon let this token of the newcomer's identity fall into an urn where had already been deposited the little boards of the brothers who had preceded Schlick.
“And this one,” demanded the watcher of Schlick, as he pointed with his finger to the unknown, “who is he?”
“A blind man,” replied the latter, in excellent German.
“What seekest thou here ?”
“Hast thou a sponsor ?”
“Aye, he who proceeded me.”
“Does he answer for thee ? ”
“Ask that of him.”
“Dost thou answer for him whom thou presentest, brother ?”
“I answer for him.”
“ 'Tis well,” said the watcher; “let him enter the chamber of meditation. When the hour to receive him shall come, he will be called.”
And opening a door sunken in the wall, he introduced Master Schlick's companion into a sort of dungeon illuminated by a lamp, and having no other furniture than a seat and a stone table, like those on which, according to the legend of the Rhine, is seated and sleeps in an enchanted slumber, which is to last until Germany awakes in one whole unity, the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa.
As for Schlick, leaving his young comrade to his meditations, he advanced toward a grating which gave entrance into the principal hall.
The grate, pushed by the watcher, opened before him.
THROUGH this grate one entered, as we have said, upon a subterranean hall; the chamber was called the hall of council; it was hung with black, and was lighted by a single lamp, which descended from the ceiling, sustained by an iron chain.
Beneath the lamp was a heap of weapons composed of guns, swords, and pistols thrown there without order, but nevertheless disposed in such a manner that on the cry of alarm each one could on the instant, with a single bound, select the weapon most agreeable to him. The light of the lamp fell upon the barrels of guns and pistols, upon the blades of sabres and swords, and was reflected in menacing flashes.
On the other side of this pile of arms, in front of the grate, was a black marble table destined for the president of the gloomy assembly, and placed upon the stage three steps high.
Behind the table rose the high back of the presidential chair, surmounted with a bronze eagle which was neither the double-headed eagle of the old house of Hapsburg, the two-headed eagle of the old house of Russia, or the Byzantine eagle of Charlemagne; this seat served at once as chair and throne.
Sixteen small barrels of powder, placed circularly on each side of the pyramid of arms, were the seats of the affiliated; these barrels indicated that, in case of surprise, it would be the duty of the members of the association to blow up themselves and comrades rather than surrender.
A single door led to the hall.
Perhaps, under the black hangings we have mentioned, there existed other doors; but, if there were such, they were hidden from the eyes and were only known to the seers.
Just as the grating closed behind Schlick, the half hour of midnight was rung out from an invisible clock.
A masked man detached himself from one of the groups the members formed, and, mounting upon the platform, said:
“Brothers, hearken to me.”
All were silent and they turned toward him who spoke.
“Brothers,” repeated he, “the night advances, time passes.”
Then, addressing the watcher, he asked:
“Watcher, how many seers ?”
“Sixteen, myself comprised,” responded the other.
“Then the seventeenth is a traitor, a prisoner, or is dead,” said the personage who had questioned him; “for who dares fail at this meeting, when its object is the deliverance of Germany ?”
“Brother,'' returned the watcher, “the seventeenth is not a traitor, or a prisoner, or is he dead; he mounts guard at the door under the uniform of an Austrian soldier.”
“In that case the sitting may open ?”
The heads bowed in token of acquiescence.
“Brothers,” continued the game orator,” do not forget that, the same as each minister at the congress represents a king, so we here, represent a people. Watcher, read the names.”
The watcher pronounced one after another the following names:
“Baden, Nassau, Hesse, Wurtemberg, Westphalia, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Bohemia, Spain, the Tyrol, Saxe, Luxemburg, Hanover, Holstein, Mecklenburg, Bavaria.”
To each of these names, excepting that of Hanover, had the answer “Present” been made.
It was the representative of Hanover who stood sentinel outside.
“Draw one of the names from the urn,” continued the man who had already spoken, “and the brother whose name it bears shall be our president.”
The watcher plunged his hand into the urn and drew out a little wooden tablet.
“Hesse,” said he.
“That is I,” replied one of the men.
And whilst the brother who till then had presided, descended the three steps, the president who had been appointed by fate ascended and seated himself, with the marble table before him.
“Brothers,” said he, “take your places.”
The fifteen members sat down leaving one seat vacant; to wit that of the representative of Hanover.
“Brothers,” said the president, “we are to receive a novice, and are to select by chance one of us who is to be the avenger. Let us first proceed with the reception and afterward draw lots. Who answers for the new brother ?”
“I,” said Schlick rising.
“Who art thou ?”
“ 'Tis well; let the two youngest brothers rise and go seek the candidate.”
Each of the members said their ages aloud; then the two youngest, who were the representatives of Tyrol and Bavaria, being one of the age of twenty, the other of one-and-twenty years, rose and went to the neophyte, who an instant after appeared at the grating where his sponsor awaited him.
His eyes were bandaged.
Those who were with him conducted him into the hall some four or five paces, then turning away they returned to their places.
The sponsor of the new member alone remained with him.
A deep silence reigned around; all eyes were turned upon the neophyte; then, in the midst of the stillness, was heard the voice of the president, who demanded in an imperious voice:
“Brother, what hour is it ?”
“The hour when the master wakes and the slave sleeps,” rejoined the candidate.
“Did you count the strokes ?”
“I have heard nothing since it rang for the master.”
“When will you hear ?”
“When it shall have awakened the slave.”
“Where is the master ?”
“Where is the slave ?”
“On the ground.”
“What drinks the master ?”
“What drinks the slave ?”
“What would you do to the two ?”
“I would seat the slave at the table and the master should lie on the earth.”
“Are you master or are you slave ?”
“Neither one nor the other.”
“What are you then ?”
“I am nothing yet; but I aspire to be something.”
“One who may see.”
“Do you know the functions ?”
“I will learn them.”
“Who will inform you ?”
“Have you weapons ?”
“I have this cord and dagger.”
“What is that cord ?”
“The symbol of our strength and our union.”
“What are you according to that symbol ?”
“I am one of the hempen threads whom the union has wrought and the strength has twisted.”
“Why have you taken this cord ?”
“ To bind and to strengthen.”
“Why that dagger ?”
“To cut and to disunite.”
“Are you ready to swear that you will make use of that cord and dagger against all condemned whose names shall be inscribed in the book of blood ?”
“I swear it.”
“Will you yield yourself to the cord and the steel if you should betray the oath which you are to make upon the blade and the cross ?”
“I will yield.”** We produce the exact formula of initiation. See, for more complete details, the Drama of “Leo Burckhart,” which we made, some sixteen years ago, with Gerard de Nerval, and the excellent preface upon the secret societies of Germany, which our dear fellow laborer and friend wrote alone.
“ 'Tis well; you are received among the number of the friends of the Union of Virtue. And now you are free; accordingly as your heart is confiding or mistrustful, take off or keep on your mask.”
The young man, without hesitation, with the one movement, took off both bandage and mask; at the same time he let fall his cloak.
“He who fears naught,” said he, “may look and be looked at with uncovered face.”
They then saw a handsome young man of from five to six-and-twenty years of age, with a military hearing, with blue eyes and deep nut-brown hair and mustache, clad in the complete apparel of a student, although. In all likelihood, he had quitted, for many years, the benches of the university.
But, at the moment when all eyes were turned on him, the door of bronze in the center pillar abruptly opened, and the seventeenth member, who represented Hanover and who had mounted guard without, entered in the greatest confusion.
“Brothers,” cried he, “we are lost !”
“What do you mean ?” inquired the president.
“More than a hundred persons have entered the ruins, who have said the watchword, whom consequently I mistook for brothers and who are probably enemies who surround us !”
“Why do you believe that ?”
“Firstly, because you are but sixteen here.”
“ Then, relieved from my post, I entered the castle ruins in my turn but, instead of descending", I concealed myself behind a hillock, suspecting some treachery, and from thence spied who succeeded me, who I am sure is not one of us. At the end of a few instants, a troop of nearly fifty men, all armed came to him: the chief of the band advanced, and the sentinel let pass both troop and leader, who are dispersed throughout the ruins. Then I ran here to alarm you, and I hoped to arrive in time, if not to save you, at least to die with you. Then, to arms, brothers ! to arms !”
There was a moment of terrible confusion, during which each one ran to the arsenal and selected the weapon in the use of which he was most skilled. In the midst of the disorder, Schlick, approaching the candidate, said hurriedly to him:
“Put on your mask and endeavor to fly, the hall has many issues.”
“I will put on my mask. but I shall not fly,” replied the young man.
“Then arm yourself and fight !”
The young man darted toward the heap of arms; but, during his words with Schlick, short though they had been, his companions had taken away the guns and pistols; a sword only remained to him. During this time also, they had heard from without the pillar the clash of weapons, and suddenly through the door of bronze, which the representative of Hanover, in his precipitation, had not tightly shut, they saw appear the menacing points of bayonets.
“Fire !” cried the president.
Ten members of the cabal obeyed; but they only heard the strike of the flint upon the pan, and they saw but the sparks flying off from the shock.
“We are betrayed !” cried the students, “these muskets were discharged. To the secret doors, brothers ! to the secret doors !”
And the affiliated, like men who had foreseen the danger, rushed toward different points of the tapestry; but the tapestry was torn down in five or six places, on the moment, and through each they saw flash the steel of gun barrels and swords.
The students stopped and looked bewildered around them, they were enclosed in a circle of bayonets; a hundred and fifty soldiers in the Bavarian uniform enwrapped them.
“Brothers,” said the president, “there remains to us but one thing, we can die !”
“Then in a lower tone, he commanded:
“Put fire to the powder !”
The order circulated in the ranks and as if they were receding before the bayonets, the conspirators, by a man ever as skillfully combined as the others, withdrew from the circumference to the center, followed and compressed by the Bavarian soldiers, who closed them in.
On reaching the middle, the students made ready artillery fusees prepared beforehand for this extremity, then each one lit his fusee and rushed toward the cask which served him as a seat.
But they gave vent to a cry of rage; for the match enclosing and rubbed in powder, had been substituted an ordinary match that would not take fire.
“Betrayed ! sold !” cried from all sides the students, throwing down their useless weapons.
“The devil !” exclaimed Schlick in his companion's ear, “it seems to me that all goes bad—it is true,” added he, speaking still lower, “that we will get out of the affair; by saying who we are, since the Bavarians are your Emperor's allies.”
And he went to mingle with the group of students.
At this moment the Bavarian soldiers were so close, that they had no more than five or six paces to make for the bayonets to touch the breasts of the eighteen conspirators.
“Gentlemen,” said the Captain who commanded the troop: “in the name of King Maximilian of Bavaria, you are prisoners !”
“ 'Tis true,?” said the president, “for we are under the reign of force; only we are prisoners, not persons who gave themselves up.”
“That matters little to me,” responded the officer: “I have not come to play upon words, but to do my duty by accomplishing the orders I have received.”
“Friends,” cried the president, “prisoners to the King of Bavaria, in the bands of the King of Bavaria about to die by the blows of the King of Bavaria, what is the judgment you mete out to him ?”
“The King of Bavaria,” said a voice, “is a traitor.”
“Who should be stricken off from the great Germanic family ?” said another.
“Who ceases to be a German prince and who shall hereafter sign himself: Ally of the French!”
“Whom all members of one of our human societies have the right to strike with the dagger.”
“Whose heart all members of human society have the right to pluck out !”
“Silence !” said the officer. In a terrible voice.
“Germany forever !” cried as with one voice all the students.
“Silence,” said the officer, “let every one of you form a line without resistance.”
“So be it,” said the president, “if we are to be shot. True soldiers of Germany to your ranks.”
The members obeyed, taking their place with high head and defiant look.
The Captain drew a paper from his pocket and read:
“Captain Ernest de Muhldorf will take one hundred and fifty men and will surround the ruins of Abensberg Castle which serves as receptacle of a band of conspirators; he will arrest all those he finds in the place called the council hall, which was formerly the hall of the secret tribunal; he will have them placed in a line; if there are ten, he will shoot one; if twenty he will shoot two, and so on. The execution over, the others may be set at liberty.”
“Munich, the 16th April, 1809.”
“Germany forever !” was the prisoners' sole reply.
“Eh!” whispered Master Schlick to his companion,” try to change your place, Lieutenant; I believe you're exactly the tenth.”
But he to whom this warning had been made, gave no reply, and did not stir.
“Gentlemen,” said the Captain, “I do not know who you are; but I am a soldier, and a soldier must do his duty. Military justice is rapid, and I am charged to do Justice.”
“Do it !” returned one voice.
“Do it !” responded in chorus all the voices.
The Captain counted from right to left to the tenth.
As Schlick had said, his comrade, the new seer, was the tenth.
“Leave the ranks,” said the Captain.
The young man obeyed.
“It is you who are to pay the tithe of blood, sir,” said the Captain.
“Very well, sir,” responded the candidate in a calm voice.
“Are you ready ?”
“Have you any requests to make ?”
“Have you no parents—no friends—no family ?”
“I have a brother. The man who introduced me ought to be free when I have paid for all; that man knows my brother and will tell him how I died.”
“Are you Catholic or Protestant ?”
“Perhaps you desire a priest.”
“I risk death every day, and God, who rules my heart, knows I have nothing to reproach myself with.”
“So you ask neither grace nor delay ?”
“I am taken with arms in my hands, conspiring against the ally of the King of Bavaria, and, in consequence, against the King of Bavaria himself—do with me as you will.”
“Then prepare yourself to die.”
“I have already told you I was ready.”
“You are free to keep on your mask or take it off; if you keep it on you shall be buried with it and no one shall know who you are.”
“But if I keep it on it will be believed I did so to prevent my pallor from being perceived; I take it off.”
And the young man, tearing away the black covering, showed his smiling visage.
A murmur of admiration ran though the assemblage.
A Bavarian soldier approached the prisoner, holding in his hand a folded handkerchief.
The prisoner raised his hand and pushed aside the hand and the handkerchief.
“You asked me just now if I had not some request to make you,” continued the young man with the same firmness of voice, the same dignity of look; “I have one.”
“What is it?” demanded the Captain.
“I am a soldier like you, sir; an officer like you; I desire to have my eyes unbandaged, and ask to command the fire.”
“Well, then,” said the young man, “it is I who am waiting.”
One of the affiliated left the ranks, and, extending his hand, said:
“Brother, In the name of Bavaria, I salute thee, martyr !”
The seventeen others did likewise, each in the name of a people.
The Captain did the same, vanquished, without doubt, by that all powerful feeling which is taken by courage upon a soldier's heart.
The prisoner went himself to the wall.
“Am I right here, Captain ?” inquired he.
The captain made an affirmative sign.
“Eight men,” said the Captain.
Eight men advanced.
“Place yourselves ten paces from the condemned, in two rows, and obey the command.”
The eight men went to the designated place.
“Are your guns loaded ?” demanded the condemned.
“Yes,” responded the Captain.
“That will shorten my work,” said the young man, smiling. Then. in a loud tone, he said:
“Attention, comrades !”
The eight men's eyes were fixed upon him.
“Carry arms !”
The soldiers obeyed the command.
“Present arms !”
The movement followed the order with true military precision.
“Butt to the cheek,” continued the condemned.
The muzzles of eight guns were lowered and pointed to him.
“My sponsor,” said he, with a smile, “bring a light near my face, so that you may witness if your son does you honor,”
“That is useless, sir,” said the Captain; “we are sure you are a brave man.”
“In that case, fire !”
The eight shots were fired, making but one detonation; but to the condemned man's great astonishment, he not only remained standing, but moreover was untouched and felt no pain.
“Germany forever,” cried with one voice students and soldiers.
“What means this ?” exclaimed the young member, doubting his senses.
“The meaning is,” said Schlick, “it is a proof, and one you have passed though gloriously !”
“Long live Germany !” repeated every voice.
“Now, brother,” said to Schlick's candidate the same young man who had been the first to shake his hand, and salute him as martyr, “now, brother, it is permitted you to turn pale, you are not allowed to tremble.”
The young officer came from the wall, and going to him who had just spoken, he took his hand, and, for all answer, applied it to his heart.
“I bow before you,” said the other; “for my heart beats quicker than yours.”
“And now, brothers,” demanded the prisoner set free, the condemned returned to life, “have you no work to be done ?”
“Brothers,” said the president to the Captain and his soldiers,” you may retire, leave us alone, and watch over us.”
The Captain and his men withdrew.
During this time, Schlick had approached his companion, and said in a low voice:
“Time and thunder ! you have a proud courage, and my belief is that from this day you have the right to call yourself Coeur de Lion.”
The president followed with his eyes the brothers of an inferior order who had played the part of officers and soldiers, until the last had gone out.
Then turning to the seers, he said:
“Brothers, retake your places.”
And he went to reseat himself in his chair, while each member of the association took the places they had quitted to face the danger.
“Silence !” said the president.
Sound seemed to die away, and all life appeared extinct, even to the beating of the heart.
“Avengers,” said the president, “what hour is it ?”
One of the associates arose.
“Who is that who got up?” inquired Richard Coeur de Lion, of his sponsor.
“The accuser,” rejoined Schlick.
The accuser responded to the president's demand in these words:
“It is the hour of resolution.”
“Avengers, what is the weather ?”
“The tempest is ready to burst.”
“Avengers, in whose hands is the thunderbolt ?”
“In the hands of God and in ours.”
“Avengers, where is the holy Fehme ?”
“It died in Westphalia, it is revived in Bavaria.”
“What proof have you of your words ?”
“This meeting itself.”
“Brother, I give you permission to accuse. Accuse; we will judge.”
“I accuse the Emperor Napoleon of undertaking the greatest crime that exists in a German's eyes, that of wishing to destroy the nationality of Germany. It is to destroy that nationality that he appointed his brother-in-law, Murat, Grand Duke of Berg; it is to destroy that nationality that he dethroned the Emperor Francis the Second, and put in his place his brother Joseph, whom the Spanish would not have; in short, it is to destroy the nationality of Germany that he has to-day made Bavaria fight against Austria, the Confederation of the Rhine against the Empire, friends against friends, Germans against Germans, brothers against brothers.”
“Brothers,” said the president, “are you with the accuser? are you against him?”
“We are for him, we are with him, we accuse as he does. Germany now and forever!”
“Is the Emperor Napoleon guilty in your eyes?”
“Yes!” shouted in chorus all the affiliated.
“What punishment is his doom?”
“Who will give that to him?”
“And from among you?”
“The elected of fate.”
“Watcher, bring hither the urn.”
The order was complied with.
“Brothers,” said the president, “we will put In the urn as many white balls as there are provinces united here by there representatives, and also one black ball; if the latter remains at the bottom of the urn, it is that God disapproves of our design, and charges himself with the avenging, for the black ball will be that of God. Do you accept what I propose?”
“Yea,” responded all the voices.
“He who takes the black ball will devote his life to the accomplishment of the sacred work?”
“Yes,” again answered every voice.
“He swears to die without denouncing his brothers, to die as if the act were an isolated deed, to die as our new brother now would have died without a murmur, without a complaint?”
“Yes,” responded all the voices.
“The white balls then, and the black one,” said the president.
The watcher overturned the urn; seventeen white and one black ball rolled upon the table.
The president counted the white balls, and, as he counted them, threw them back into the vase; lastly he cast in the black ball, and, without touching them with his hand, mixed up the balls by shaking the vase.
Then he said, when this operation was accomplished:
“Now, the deputies of the provinces will take out one apiece in their alphabetical order. What province does our new brother represent?”
“Alsace,” replied the lately introduced candidate.
“Alsace!” cried the members, “but you are, then, a Frenchman?”
“French or German, as you will.”
“You are right,” cried two or three voices, “the Alsacians are Germans, the Alsacians belong to the great Germanic family. Long live Germany!”
“Brothers,” said the president, “what do you decide about our new brother?”
“As he has been received, as he is affiliated, as he has supported the ordeal, and as Holland, Spain and Italy are represented here, I do not see why France should not be also.”
“'Tis well,” said the president, “those who are in favor of the name of Alsace being put in the urn will raise their hands.”
Every hand was uplifted.
“Brothers,” said the president, “Alsace is German.”
And he threw into the urn an eighteenth white ball which the watcher had presented him.
“And now,” continued he, “ proceed in alphabetical order.”
“Alsace,” said he.
The young man advanced toward the urn, and, at the moment when he plunged in his hand, they saw upon his countenance a hesitation of which not a shade had been perceived when he commanded the firing party.
He drew out a white ball.
“White!” ejaculated he, but ill concealing his joy.
“White!” repeated all the voices.
“Baden!” called the president.
Schlick resolutely introduced his hand into the vase, and he took out a white ball.
“White.” said all the voices.
“Bavaria! ” continued the president.
The deputy of Bavaria advanced, plunged his hand into the urn, and drew out the black ball.
“Black,” said he, in a voice calm and almost joyous.
“Black!” echoed every voice.
“'Tis well,” said the deputy of Bavaria, “in three months. Napoleon shall be dead or I will be shot.”
“Germany forever!” repeated in chorus every member.
As the design of the meeting had been attained, the friends of the Union of Virtue separated .
ONE evening, in a corner of the imperial palace of Schoenbrunn, the young Duke de Reichstadt was conversing with the son of Prince Charles; and while they were conversing together, the children were laughing so loudly that the Prince who, on his side, was seriously talking with the Emperor, the Archdukes and Archduchesses, fearing that their highnesses and majesties would be incommoded by the laughter of the august prattlers, believed it his duty to interfere, and from one end to the other of the room, asked the children what occasioned their glee, and why they were so laughing.
“Oh, papa!” responded the eldest of the Archduke's sons, “pay no attention; it is only Reichstadt, who is telling us how his father always beats you, and that much amuses us.”
The Archduke Charles, who was a truly brave man. laughed still louder than his children; upon seeing which, the Emperor, the Archdukes and Archduchesses burst out into laughter as heartily and perhaps more heartily than the Archduke Charles.
It is true that at the time they laughed so frankly in Vienna at the illustrious Archduke's defeats, the victor of Tengen, Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmuhl and Ratisbon was dead.
The above anecdote is authentic: it was narrated to me by Queen Hortense, during the eight days of hospitality which she had the kindness to give me, in 1832, at the Castle of Arenenberg a short time after the death of the King of Rome.
Let us consecrate one chapter to that campaign of 1809, one of the most wonderful of Napoleon's.
We left the Emperor, on mid-day of the 17th of April, at Donauwerth, ready to forward his orders to his marshals and lieutenants. He to whom he was in the most haste to despatch them, because that one was the most distant, and consequently would receive them after a long delay, was Marshal Davoust, who, as we have before said, occupied Ratisbon. Thus the first officer asked for by Napoleon, to bear the despatches he would dictate, was Lieutenant Paul Richard; but the Prince of Neuchatel, biting his nails with an embarrassed air, announced to the Emperor that he had disposed of that officer for a particular mission.
It is true that in the stead of him he offered, if the Emperor absolutely desired the despatch to be carried by a courier of the name of Richard-it is true, we say, that the Prince of Neuchatel offered Lieutenant Louis Richard, who had arrived from Italy.
But the Emperor declared that, from the moment when he could not send back to Marshal Davoust the same man the latter had sent him, it mattered little to him what was the name of the courier, provided that that courier was active, brave, and intelligent.
An officer presented himself.
The Emperor gave him the despatch addressed to Marshal Davoust.
Beside, Berthier had taken two copies of this despatch and sent them off by two other men, and by two different roads.
It would have been a great misfortune if, by three couriers, not one went safely!
Here is what were the orders of the Emperor to his Lieutenant:
“Immediately quit Ratisbon, leaving behind one regiment to guard the place.
“Ascend the Danube, making your way prudently but resolutely, between the stream and the mass of the Austrians.
“Lastly, join him (Napoleon) by Abach and Ober-Saal, in the neighborhood of Abensberg, at the place where the Abens empties into the Danube.”
These orders on the way to Davoust, the next thing was to warn Massena.
Three new messengers were chosen and the following order was sent tripled:
“The Emperor orders Marshal Massena to quit Augsburg, on the morning of the 18th, to descend Abens by the road of Plaffenhofen, on the left flank of the Austrians, the Emperor finally reserving the directing of the Marshal toward the Danube, toward the Isar, toward Neustadt, or toward Landshut.
“The marshal will start on hearing the march in Tyrol, and will leave at Augsburg a good commander, two German regiments, all the men sick or fatigued, food and ammunition enough to hold out fifteen days.
“The Emperor recommends the marshal to descend the Danube in all haste; for never had he more need of his devotion.”
This despatch ended by these three words and this abbreviated signature, written by the Emperor's own hand.
“Activity and quickness !
These two despatches off his hands. Napoleon asked for Lieutenant Louis Richard; if Berthier had not also sent him on some mission as he had his brother.
The young man presented himself, all joyful at having seen his dear Paul, refreshed by his two hours repose, and ready again to start.
The Emperor had ready for Prince Eugene, a letter conceived in the ensuing terms:
“You have lost, by permitting yourself to fight at Pordenone, all chance of entering with us Vienna, in which we shall, prohably, be by the 15th of the coming month. Come to join us as speedily as you can and march directly upon the capital of Austria; nothing is changed from the forrner orders I sent you.
“Upon this. M. le Prince, the present having no other ends, I pray God to keep you in His holy and worthy guard.
“P. S.—I have ordered General Macdonald to return to the Army of Italy with particular orders which he will only communicate to you.”
The young officer received the letters from the Emperor's own hands, bowed, went out, leaped upon his horse and disappeared.
An instant after, the Emperor quitted Donauwerth and departed for Ingolstadt, which act placed him between Ratisbon and Augsburg, that is to say in the center of the movement.
Well known are the different distances which separate Donauwerth from Ratisbon, and Donauwerth from Augsburg.
At Donauwerth, the Emperor was but two-and-twenty leagues from Ratisbon, and only eight or nine leagues from Augsburg.
The result was that Massena received his orders at about five o'clock and immediately made the preparations to depart, at daybreak on the next day, the 18th; while it was not late in the evening when Davoust received the orders which concerned him.
It took the marshal all the day of the 18th first, to get together his fifty thousand men, finally to rally the division Friant which, during the crossing it had operated from Bayrouth to Amberg, had come in collision with the Austrian body of General Bellegarde, and which had covered the body to which it belonged, and lastly, to transport the total of his troops from the right bank of the Danube to the left bank, while the division Morand remained battling under the walls of Ratisbon.
This army of Bellegarde,* composed of fifty thousand men, which took no part in the combat, was the army of Bohemia which, in his system of concentration, the Archduke Charles had called to him.
* Let no one be astonished to continually meet with French names like those of Bellegarde, Thierry, Lusignan, Latour, and the like in the Austrian ranks; it has been so for nearly three centuries.
The day of the 18th was therefore employed by Marshal Davoust in having passed from the right to the left bank the divisions of Gudin and Saint-Hilaire, and General Saint Sulpice's heavy cavalry, whilst General Montbrun's light cavalry pushed forward, spreading like a fan upon Straubing, upon Abach, and upon Eckmuhl, reconnoiterings whose design was to learn the real position of the Archduke; for Marshal Davoust had instinctively taken, as if the very air had warned him and his men, a way between the army of Hungary, which was coming to repulse Friant's division, and the mass of the Austrian army, arriving by the Landshut road.
The general rendezvous was, as may beseen, upon the plateau of the Abens, at Abensberg.
On the morning of the 19th Marsbal Davoust began his march.
We are not writing a history of this celebrated campaign, and in consequence we will not follow the Marshal's fine and prudent march upon the left bank of the great stream, amid his terrible enemies; we will content ourselves with following up the thread of a conspiracy which had for its aim the accomplishing with the dagger that which fortune had refused to have done by the sword, the musket, and the cannon.
On account of this gigantic movement it is, therefore, to the steps of Napoleon we must attach ourselves, since it is him who is particularly threatened by the events which the preceding chapter made us acquainted with.
In the night of the 19th and the morning of the 20th he had descended from Ingolstadt to Vohburg; there he had learned that, after a feeble engagement, the Austrians, who were advanced to Abensberg, the place he bad designated as the rallying-point, had been driven back, and that the plateau upon which Marshal Davoust's troops should debouch was free.
Throughout all the day of the 19th, they heard cannon.
On the 20th, at nine of the morning, a cavalcade composed of the Emperor and all the staff of the Prince of Neuchatel, preceded by guides, had arrived on the plateau of Abensberg, and had stopped at the most elevated place of the castle, about one hundred paces from the house of the Pastor Stiller.
They offered to show Napoleon into a house; but he had preferred to remain in the open air, upon a slope from whence he could view the country, to his right as far as Birwang, on his left to Thann.
Moreover, at the end of a conversation with his scout, Schlick, the Prince of Neuchatel had taken precautions to protect the Emperor's person.
From dawn to sunset all the regiment which occupied Abensberg had received the order to lodge in the dwellings in the neighborhood of the plateau, and to camp in the intervals between houses, and also in the ruins of the old castle.
Napoleon, without perceiving it, and, above all, without his preoccupation permitting him to perceive anything, was thus surrounded with a girdle of soldiers watching over him.
Beside, the Emperor never occupied his time in taking precautions of this kind; that regarded those about him; whether be believed in Providence, like a good Christian, in fatality, like a Mussulman, or in destiny, like a Roman, he, in either case, offered himself to the enemy's bullets as the fanatic's steel; his life concerned God, who had his designs upon him.
Here, following his habit, a table was fixed for him, maps were spread upon it, and there they made him reports.
Here is what had happened that morning.
Marshal Davoust had started from Ratisbon at daybreak, in four columns; his advance guard went to the left along tile highroad of Ratisbon to Landshut, passing by Eckmuhl; two columns marched as the center by the village roads; finally the extreme right, composed of the baggage, followed the road which extends along the Danube from Ratisbon to Mainburg.
The same day, the Archduke Charles was at Rohr, that is to say, upon a plateau similar to that of Abensberg, overlooking at once the valleys of the Danube and the greater Laber, a river which pursuing a course opposite to the Abens, throws itself into the Danube fifteen leagues above Ratisbon, while the Abens empties into the same stream fifteen leagues below the above mentioned place; the same day, the 19th, say we, at the same time as Marshal Davoust received and executed the order to march upon Abensberg, Prince Charles, believing he would find the Marshal at Ratisbon, made the resolution to march upon him and crush him between the eighty thousand men he was conducting and the fifty thousand men of Bellegarde's army, which ought to have arrived by Bohemia, and which as we have seen, had really arrived since they had had a collision with the Friant division.
It resulted from these two movements that Napoleon should find Abensberg, and that Prince Charles, excepting the regiment which had been left behind by Marshal Davoust, ought to find Ratisbon evacuated; but also, at whatever point of the diagonal line they were, the left extremities of the two armies should inevitably come together.
Prince Charles followed the eastern declivity of the chain of hills which separate the valley of the Danube from the valley of the greater Laber; Marshal Davoust proceeded by the western slope.
The Gudin division, which formed the extreme left of the French, had spread out to a great distance the sharpshooters of the 7th Legion; these skirmishers had met those of the Prince of Rosenberg, and had exchanged with them a certain number of gunshots; but Marshal Davoust seeing that the engagement was not a serious one, had galloped his horse and had personally given the order for the two columns to continue their march, and for the skirmishers to follow the columns with the appearance of giving way.
The Austrian skirmishers had then seized upon the village of Schneidart, evacuated by the 7th Legion, and General Rosenberg's troops to whom they belonged, had gone to Dinzling, while General Hohenzollern had entered Hausein, which had been evacuated by the 7th Legion, and occupied a mass of wood which formed an immense horseshoe face to face to the village of Tengen.
It was there that by right should meet the two extreme lefts of the French and Austrian armies; it was there, indeed, that they met. It was the news of this meeting they brought to Napoleon.
It had been terrible.
They had fought at Dinzling; the combatants, at that point, were Montbrun against Rosenberg.
They had fought at Tengen; the combatants at that place, were St. Hilaire and Friant against Hohenzollern and Princes Louis and Maurice of Leichtenstein..
Then, beside, there had been contests between all the intermediate posts which linked the extreme lefts.
But the Archduke Charles was deceived: he had mistaken the French left for their extreme right; he had thought he had before him Napoleon and the French army, while the mass of the French, on the contrary, were slipping between the Danube and the greater portion of the enemy toward him.
It followed that in his errors. Prince Charles had remained upon the heights of the Grub, a passive spectator of the action, with twelve battalions of grenadiers, not wishing to risk a definite battle before having rallied to him the Archduke Louis's part of the army.
He consequently sent orders for the Archduke Louis to remain where he was, preparing, with the wise slowness of Austrian princes, to attack the next day only.
But here are the details which welcomed Napoleon upon the morning's action.
General Montbrun's van had lost two hundred men; the division Friant, three hundred; the division St. Hilaire, seventeen hundred; the division Morand, twenty-five; the Bavarians, one hundred or a hundred and fifty horsemen; in all, about two thousand five hundred men.
The enemy, on his part, had lost: at Dinzling, five hundred men; at Tengen, four thousand five hundred; at Buch and at Arnhofen, seven or eight hundred; total, nearly six thousand men.
Napoleon saw that which the Archduke Charles had not seen; like the eagle which he had made his standard. It was one of his privileges to soar above events on the wings of his genius. Almost at the same time that he arrived at Abensberg, Marshal Davoust reached it by Tengen and Burkdorff, Marshall Lannes appeared on the side of Neustadt, and Wrede's division, stationed from Biburg to Siegenburg, held itself in readiness to pass the Abens river.
Napoleon decided that the army should wheel upon Tengen, force the posts of the Austrian center, cut in two the line of Prince Charles's operations, and throw all his rear guard to Landshut by the Danube; after which he would return, and, if Prince Charles was not in that part of the army destroyed or dispersed, he would bring back all his forces to take the Archduke and his army between the two fires.
In consequence he ordered Marshal Davoust to stay firmly at Tengen with twenty- four thousand men; he ordered Lannes to march straight before him with twenty-five thousand men and seize upon Rohr, at whatever price it cost; he ordered Marshal Lefebvre, who commanded forty thousand Bavarians and Wurtembergers, to secure Arnhofen and Offonstetten, finally, foreseeing that, the next day, the Austrian rear guard in rout, would try to pass the Danube at Landshut, he ordered Marshal Massena, who had become useless to him from the moment he had disposed of a body of ninety thousand men, to proceed directly to Landshut by way of Freising and Moonsburg.
Then he viewed defile before him all the Bavarians and Wurtembergers who were to put themselves into line, enemies become allies of the French, whom he harangued as they passed, leaving at each period, time for the officers to translate lila words into German.
He said to them;
“People of the great Germanic family, it is not for me you are to fight. to-day, it is for yourselves; it is your nationality I defend against the house of Austria, despairing at no more holding you under its yoke.
“This time, I shall soon return you peace, and that forever! and will leave you with such an increase of power, that in the future you may defend yourselves against the pretentions of your former rulers.
“And, beside,” added he, placing himself in their ranks, “it is with you I will fight to-day, and will leave the fortune of France and my life to your loyalty.”
Scarce had he pronounced these words than a gunshot was heard, and his hat, raised from off his head, fell at his horse's feet.
We are wrong in saying that a gunshot was heard, for hardly had the report been heard above the tumult, and the fall of his hat was attributed to an abrupt movement his horse had made.
A Baravian officer stepped from the ranks, picked up the Emperor's hat and presented it to Napoleon.
The latter cast a rapid glance upon it, smiled, and replaced it on his head.
There upon the troops descended the plateau, marching upon Arnhofen.
On reaching the bottom of the plateau, Berthier approached the Emporer to recieve his last orders: Napoleon gave them to him: then, taking off his hat, be pointed out to the Major-General a bullet hole, aa he said, quietly:
“Six inches lower, the King of France would have been called Lonis the Eighteenth!”
Berthier turned pale as he saw the danger the Emperor had escaped, and, bending toward an aide de-cainp, he said:
“Let Lieutenant Paul Richard be called, this instant.” I
THAT which Napoleon had foreseen came to pass.
Lannes, who held the left with twenty thousand foot soldiers, fifteen hundred chasseurs, and three thousand five hundred cuirassiers, advanced upon Rohr, which be had, it will be remembered, received the order to secure, cost what it might, by way of Bachel and Offstetten.
He marched through a country scattered with forests, and cut up with many defiles, so that his column came in contact with the Austrian General, Thierry,and, his infantry: the cavalry, which was accomplishing the movement ordered by the Archduke upon Ratisbon-the cavalry, we repeat, marching more rapidly than the infantry, having already passed.
Lannes charged this infantry with his fifteen hundred mounted chasseurs who fell upon it with slackened reins.
Instead of forming in squares and awaiting the charge, the infantry, which was ignorant of the small number of horsemen charging them, endeavored to gain the shelter of the woods; but before reaching cover they cut down.
General Thierry retired in disorder upon Rohr, where he found General Schusteck.
The two Generals combined their forces.
But Lannes, recalling the order he had received to gain Rohr at any price, made his chasseurs pursue the fugitives, urging them on with sabre blows.
The Austrian Generals had three thousand hussars, whom they sent to check the chasseurs; Lannes, seeing the movement, sent from his side a regiment of cuirassiers, who went through and through the divisions of hussars, and forced them back upon the village of Rohr.
At this moment up came the twenty thousand French foot-soldiers.
The 30th regiment, sustained by the cuirassiers, attacked the village in front, while the 13th and 17th separated to the right and left to surround it.
The two Austrian regiments staid long enough in the village to put themselves in retreat: at the end of a half-hour's action their columns left Rohr tor Rothenburg.
Lannes despatched a messenger, who set off at a gallop to bear to the Emperor the tidings that Rohr was taken, and his order executed; he announced, beside, that he would drive the Austrians before him as long as it was light enough to take aim.
This news reached Napoleon at the moment when his Wurtemburgers and his Bavarians chased before them the Archduke Louis over the causeway of Neustadt to Landshut; a pursuit which lasted throughout the day, and which left no repose for the Archduke till he reached Pfaffenhausen.
Napoleon, learning of the taking of Rohr. had urged on his horse to Lannes; he arrived that evening at Rothenburg. It was here his lieutenant had stopped, as he had promised, only at nightfall.
The day had been splendid.
Lannes had scarcely lost two hundred men, and had slain or taken four thousand of the enemy. General Thierry was among the number of prisoners.
Lefebvre's Bavarians and Wurtembergers had lost one thousand men, having killed of the enemy three thousand and driven them into the Iser.
But the importance ot the day had not been in the number of men lost, though that was much: it was in the separation of the Archduke Charles from his left. The Austrian army was cut in two by Napoleon, operating at the head of nearly a hundred thousand men; he could then attack one after another the two portions of the mutilated serpent.
But Napoleon was ignorant of Prince Charles' real position. He thought be had driven his army to the Iser in such a situation as to force it to come to action, and resolved to rush upon him the next day with all his force to surprise him at Landshut, that is to say, at the passage of that river, which flows into the Danube eight or ten leagues from Landshut,
If Massena met with no obstacle upon his route and arrived in time, all that there were of Austrains betveen Napoleon and the Iser would be slain, taken, or drowned.
So the order was given to Davoust, who had not stirred from Tengen, where he served as pivot, to the whole army. for him to leave the few troops he had before him at that place, and follow the movement of the army toward the Iser, turning upon Ratisbon to crush Bellegarde when they should have got clear of the Archduke Charles.
Napoleon at last believed that it was Prince Charles whom he was pursuing; he did not conceive that the few troops Davoust held in check were the main body of the Austrian army. How could he suppose; in short, that during thirty-six hours the Archduke Charles, at the head of nearly sixty thousand men, would give no sign of life?
It was thus, that throughout the 20th, ignorant that the French army was gliding in betwixt him and his army, and not wishing to attack him in front. Prince Charles was waiting until he made a junction with the Archduke Louis, fifty thousand men whom Napoleon was about driving into the Iser.
But; at the sound of cannon, the Archduke Charles had comprehended that something was taking place; he had wheeled about and, setting his back to Ratisbon where he ought to find the army of Bohemia, he had established himself across the road from Ratisbon to Landshut, having Eckmuhl before him.
Napoleon never changed his clothes, so eager was he to meet the Austrians the following day; but the Austrians pressed on the faster in flight than he was in pursuit.
They reached Landshut at night, by the double road of Rothenburg and Pfaffenhausen.
Nevertheless Napoleon had reflected: the Austrians appeared to have yielded the ground very easily: was it the entire mass or a party only, which he was driving before him as the autumnal wind whirls the yellow leaves?
Davoust, whom he had left in his rear; were he and his men not exposed to be cut off by those bold and sudden attacks his enemies might have concealed till now?
This was one of those frequent bursts of Napoleon's genius which came to illumine him in the midst of this glorious night which separated two days of victory.
He detached General Demont's division. General Nansouty's cuirassiers, General Deroy's and the Prince Royal's Bavarian divisions, and sent them all to Davoust, while he, with the twenty-five thousand men of Lannes, and General Wrede's Bavarians, continued to urge the Austrians on Landshut, where, moreover, he reckoned upon finding Massena with thirty thousand men.
Toward nine of the morning, the Emperor was at Altdorf with General Morand's infantry, the cuirassiers and light horse. All along the road, he bad picked up fugitives, wounded, artillery, and baggage; the retreat had finally turned into a rout.
Clear of the woods, upon a little table-land from whence he overlooked the fertile plains of the Iser, with Landshut in the perspective, he stopped.
It was a fine sight for a conqueror.
The enemy's army flying disbanded; cavalry, artillery, baggage, were pressing pell-mell upon the bridges, it was a frightful tumult, a terrific confusion.
There was nothing more than killing.
But, in his haste to arrive and to see, Napoleon had advanced the greater portion of his army; he had with him on the elevation only some eight or nine thousand men; the remainder were following.
Bessieres, at the head of the cuirassiers, Lannes, commanding the chasseurs and the 13th Legion of the Morand division, charging both like simple colonels of the vanguard, fell upon this mass eight times more numerous than their own.
The Austrian cavalry extricated themselves from this confusion, and endeavored to stop the French, and defend their friends' passage; but cuirassiers, chasseurs, and infantry felt the Emperor's fortune in them and with them; they overcame this cavalry.
The Austrians made a superhuman effort, and rallied their Infantry; but Morand's division had come up entire, and the Austrian infantry, cut up in its turn, was obliged to take to the bridges.
Happily for them, the French artillery had not followed; still a dozen pieces had been made ready, which poured a hail of bullets upon all those on the bridges who had escaped swordcuts and bayonet thrusts. The steel killed but slowly; the cannon more quickly does its work.
During this time, they were picking up the fallen strewn upon the plain, those who had not. the power to fly over the bridges, and who surrendered, not daring to throw themselves into the Iser; they heaped up cannons, baggage, and a superb train of pontoons drawn upon carts, with which they proposed to cross not only the Danube, but. the Rhine itself.
This was the scourge which Xerxes brought to chastise the Greeks, and with which he had beaten the sea.
As the enemy passed the bridges, a portion retired to Muhldorf on Neumarkt, whilst those who were less urged by fear took up positions in the town of Landshut and in the suburb of Seligenthal; but, beside Morand's division, which, as we have stated, arrived entire, the heads of Massena's column appeared toward Moosburg; they had arrived too late to cut off the Austrians' retreat, but soon enough to take part in the combat.
All at once there was seen, in the direction of the principal bridge, a heavy smoke rising; it was theAustrians firing the bridge, that they might at the one time put fire and water between them and the French.
Napoleon turned toward one of his aide-de-camps.
“Go, Mouton,'' said he.
The General understood; he bore the command to the 17th regiment, and without other harangue than these words:
“The Emperor looks on you; follow me!” He led them straight to the flaming bridge.
They made the crossing under the menace of three different kinds of death-water, fire and balls; then they darted into the rugged streets of Landshut.
From the heights of the place, the Austrians might have seen the French rush in from all sides; Napoleon with twenty-five thousand men, Wrede with twenty thousand.
The enemy lost ground.
Few were slain, two or three thousand men, perhaps; cannon was wanting. But they took seven or eight thousand prisoners, captured baggage, artillery and materials; then they broke, which was the most important, the Archduke's line of operations, so that it could never be reconstructed.
At the moment when the battle under his eyes was nearly over. Napoleon stopped and listened.
The report of a cannon might he heard behind him, between the lesser and the greater Laber.
Napoleon, with an artillery man's exercised ear, was sure that there was fighting going on some eight or nine leagues from him.
It was, decidedly, Davoust who had come in contact with the enemy.
But with what enemy?
Was it Bellegarde's army arriving from Bohemia? was it the Austrian army commanded by Prince Charles? for the Emperor commenced to fear that he had left the Archduke behind him: was it both of them, that is to say, a body of about one hundred and ten thousand men?
One alone of these armies would have been too much for Davoust's forty thousand men. Nevertheless Napoleon would not leave his position, and, by receding from a vanquished wing, permit the latter to rally and attack his rear. He waited, confiding in the courage and prudence of Marshal Davoust; but he waited full of anxiety.
The cannon continued to rumble with the same fury, and the sound came to Eckmuhl.
At eight o'clock of the evening only the fire ceased.
On the preceding night Napoleon had thrown himself, all clothed, upon his bed; this night he never touched it.
At eleven o'clock General Pire, coming from Marshal Davoust, was announced.
“The Emperor uttered a cry of joy, and rushed to the General.
“Well?” demanded he, before the latter had time to open his mouth.
“All's well, sire!” the General hastened to reply.
“Good! What has happened, Pire? tell me all.”
Then Pire related to this man of bronze, who fought during the day, and kept awake through the nights, what had occurred.
Davoust, in accomplishing his orders and tending to the left, had met the troops of Rosenberg and Hohenzollern; he had attacked them, and to clear the road, had repulsed them upon Eckmuhl.
During this retreat ot the Austrians, they had valiantly carried with the bayonet the two villages of Paring and Schierling. They had there the struggle which had lasted three hours, when they had seen the reinforcement sent by Napoleon arrive.
Then Davoust had seen that, since the Emperor had sent him twenty thousand men, he had no further need of him that to keep the foe in sight.
The enemy had entrenched themselves in Eckmuhl, and appeared disposed to defend it; Davoust had cannonaded the place; it was, beside, giving news to the Emperor by the voice most familiar to his ear: that of cannon. Napoleon had heard the voice. General Pire had come to translate it to him.
“Davoust had lost fourteen hundred men, and had killed three thousand Austrians. Napoleon, on his side, had, at Lanshut, lost three hundred men, and had, as our readers know, slain or taken seven thousand of his opponents. Total of the day: ten thousand Austrians unable to renew the combat.
Whilst General Pire was by him, they announced a courier coming from Ratisbon: he had passed by way of Abensburg, Pfaffenhausen and Altdorf, the same day as Napoleon had followed.
Here is the news brought him.
The Emperor, it will be remembered, had given Davoust the order to leave a regiment at Ratisbon. A very little thing was a regiment; but having need of all his forces, Napoleon had not left more.
Davoust had chosen the 65th regiment, commanded by Colonel Coutard; he was sure of the men, sure of the commander.
The Colonel had barred the gates, barricaded the streets, and had made all ready to defend to the last.
On the 19th, the day of the Battle of Abensberg, the army of Bohemia, fifty thousand strong, had presented itself at the gates of Ratisbon.
The regiment had begun an action against the army, and, with their muskets, had slain eight hundred men; but, on the ensuing day, upon the right bank of the Danube, the Archduke Charles's army had appeared, coming from Landshut.
The regiment had shot all their remaining cartridges against this new army; then, in the impossibility of defending a place like Ratisbon with two thousand bayonets against more than a hundred thousand men, Colonel Coutard had delayed as long as he could, passing part of the morning in parleying, and, finally, about five of the evening, he had surrendered, requiring free passage for his messenger.
The latter had instantly started off at a gallop; he had gone twenty leagues in ten hours, and at one o'clock of the morning, had come upon the Emperor at Landshut. The news which he brought was most important; Colonel Coutard and his regiment were taken; but Napoleon had gained details upon the enemy's position.
The armies of Austria and Bohemia had made their junction, and the Archduke Charles held the country from Eckmuhl almost to Ratisbon.
So, the enemy which Davoust kept in sight, was Prince Charles's army. The Emperor had only to turn upon him at Eckmuhl and destroy him between Davoust's forty thousand men and his eighty thousand men; but there was no time to be lost.
General Pire remounted his horse and set out for Eckmuhl. He was to announce to Marshal Davoust that the Emperor, with all his forces, would arrive between twelve and one o'clock; his presence would be signalized by a thunderbolt; fifty pieces of artillery fired off at the one time. That should be for Davoust the signal of attack.
The messenger having gone, the Emperor went above the Iser in the pursuit of the Archduke Louis's forty thousand men, which in three days had lost twenty-five thousand! the light cavalry of General Marulaz, a portion of the German cavalry, General Wrede's Bavarian division, and the Molitor division.
He drew up twenty thousand men in echelons between the Danube and the Iser, from Neustadt to Landshut.
Then he despatched, by the road from Landshut to Ratisbon, and by the valley ot the greater Laber, General Saint Sulpice with his four cuirassier regiments. General Vandamme with his Wurtembergers, and Marshal Lannes with the six cuirassier regiments of General Nansouty and the Gudin and Morand divisions.
The order was to march all night, that they might arrive at Eckmuhl at midday, rest an hour and attack.
Lastly, he himself departed with Massena's three divisions and General Espagne's division of cuirassiers.
Thus, Davoust had thirty-five thousand men or thereabouts; Generals Vandamme and Saint Sulpice were bringing him thirteen or fourteen thousand, Lannes twenty-flve thousand, Napoleon fifteen or sixteen thousand; in all something like a mass of ninety thousand men with whom the Archduke Charles had to cope
At this moment, the Archduke, after having hesitated two days, finally came to a decision; this was to attempt upon the French line of operation the same maneuver which Napoleon was coming to execute upon his.
He resolved to essay an attack upon Abach.
As General Montbrun's cuirassiers (who had as we have seen, fought at Dinzling on the 19th) had continued to skirmish at Abach where they had remained with the Austrian light troops, the Archduke believed he had before him a large force, while it was really only a wheeling-point of the army which, after having been the extreme French right, had become the extreme left, and which, having formed his rear-guard all the time Napoleon marched from Abensberg to Landshut, had turned into his van-guard at the time when, returning against Ratisbon, the Emperor was marching from Landshut to Eckmuhl.
To give General Kullowrath, detached from the army of Bohemia, time to pass over to the Danube's left bank, Prince Charles decided that the attack should take place between noon and one o'clock. This was, our readers will remember, the moment chosen by Napoleon to force the passage of Eckmuhl.
Two columns would be employed in this movement: one of twenty-four thousand men, who were to march from Burg Weinting to Abach, and one of twelve thousand men, who should march from Weilhoe upon Peising; while the third, forty thousand string, composed of General Rosenberg's troops stationed in front of Marshal Davoust in the villages of Ober and Euter Leuchling, of Hohenzollern's body, which barred the causeway of Eckmuhl, of the grenadiers of the reserve and the cuirassiers who were to guard, toward Egglofsheim, the plain of Ratisbon, had the order to remain motionless throughout the time the two other columns were operating.
Night passed in these dispositlons.
The day broke misty; a thick fog covered all the plain, and did not disappear until nine o'clock of the morning.
We have said that time was given General Kollowrath to pass the Danube; that passage was not finished till midday.
Up to that moment not a single gunshot had been heard.
The two bodies were upon the march, one to Abach, the other on Peising, when all of a sudden resounded a frightful cannonade from the direction of Buchausen. It was the entire French army, led on by Napoleon, which was debouching before Eckmuhl.
The emperor had no need to give the agreed-upon signal; on seeing him, the Austrians had saluted him with a hail of grapeshot.
The Wurtembergers, who formed the head of the column, yielded at first under this terrible form, sustained by the charges of General Wukassovich's light cavalry; but Vandamme pushed them forward and, aided by the Morand and Gudin divisions, made himself the master of the village of Lintach, and then was joined on his left by the Demont division and the Bavarians, which Napoleon's foresight had, it will be remembered, sent there the day before.
On hearing the cannonade, Davoust had let loose his two divisions, which had been more than an hour awaiting the signal impatiently.
Their artillery commenced to clear a space before them upon the enemy's front with a shower of grapeshot.
Beneath this terrible fire, the Austrians abandoned their first line and entrenching themselves in the two villages of Ober Leuchling and Unter Leuchling, received in their turn the St. Hilaire division which came in their pursuit, with a fearful discharge of musketry: but they had to deal with men inured to fire!
The village of Ober Leuchling was first taken by the bayonet. More rugged and better barricaded, Unter Leuchling held out longer; under the double fire from the village and the elevation which surmounted it, the 10th Legion lost five hundred men in the five minutes it took them to climb the steep. But the village was entered and, once entered, was taken.
Within it the 10th Legion penetrated, killed all who remained and made three hundred prisoners,
The defenders of the two villages retired then to the plateau; the 10th pursued the dreadful volley of musketry.
General Friant instantly launched forth his divisions into the woods which extended between the two villages.
General Barbanegre placed himself at the head of the 48th and the 111th, and, advancing with the bayonet through the clearings of the forest, he fell, above the villages, upon the three regiments, Archduke Louis, Chasteler and Coburg, and drove them on to the causeway of Eckmuhl.
Then the action became general.
General Rosenberg's body crowded back, as we have said, on the causeway of Eckmuhl, endeavored to maintain its ground notwithstanding the charges of the 48th and the 111th; the Bavarian cavalry, aided by the French cuirassiers, charged the Austrian cavalry into the prairie; the Wurtemberg foot-soldiers tried twice to take the village of Eckmuhl from Wukassovich's infantry and having succeeded in their second charge, forced all that infantry to clamber up the superior heights,
What remained for Napoleon to do was this; to make his way through masses which encumbered the causeway, and rush up the heights where had taken refuge the regiments of theArchduke Louis, of Chasteler and Coburg, all Wukassovich's infantry, and a portion of the Biber brigade.
Lannes took the Gudin division crossed the greater Laber, ascended the eminences of Rocking in a vertical direction, passed the Austrian right, and turning upon it, drove it from plateau to plateau.
During this time Napoleon sent out his cavalry to cut off the Austrians in retreat.
Seeing this movement, the latter stopped, and sent rolling down upon the Bavarian and Wurtemberg horsemen their light cavalry which, charging from the top, aided as they were by the descent of the ground, made their enemy stagger; but the latter overthrown, the charging party found themselves in face of a wall of iron; that was the French cuirassiers.
The iron wall set off at a gallop, passed over the Austrian cavalry, pierced through the mass of the foe, and arrived at the summit of the causeway at the same moment when, from the opposite side, the infantry of General Gudin, who was master of Rocking, appeared on the height.
The foot-soldiers saw this fine charge, and those splendid troopers who had charged going up as the enemy had charged descending, and the entire division clapped their hands and shouted:
“Long live the cuirassiers!”
At that same time. General Saint Hilaire, passing through the wooded table-land which overlooked Unter Leuchling, thrust the enemy from covert to covert, and despite the charges of Vincent's light horse and the hussars of Stipsiez, pushed them back in disorder upon that causeway on which reigned so terrible a confusion.
The Austrians, in flight, sought shelter behind their cuirassiers, ranged in order of battle of Egglofsheim, about two leagues of Eckmuhl.
Then, the French in their turn debouched into the plain, the cavalry in the center, the infantry upon the right.
The cavalry was composed of the Bavarian and Wurtemberg regiments of Generals Saint Sulpice and Nansouty.
An earthduake could not have shaken the earth more than did that tramp of fifty thousand horses!
The divisions Friant and Saint Hilaire, excited by the victory, ran at a pace almost as rapid as went the horsemen.
The shock of that mass was terrible.
On seeing them come, the Austrian cavalry had started from their side and came to meet them.
It was seven o'clock of the evening; in April, the time of twilight.
There was a frightful conflict, a blood-thirsty, unheard-of one, in which was engulphed every instant new combatants: hussars, light horsemen, cuirassiers, French, Bavarians, Austrians, striking in the night almost at hazard,lighting up the obscurity for an hour by the sparks which flew from sabers and breastplates.
Then, suddenly, like a lake which had overflowed its bank, all this mingled mass moved in the direction of Ratisbon.
The last rampart was broken, the last resistance overcome. Once in flight, the Austrian cuirassiers, who only wore the cuirass in front, as if they were never to show their back to the foe, were lost; two thousand of them covered the way with their dead bodies, all struck from behind, all slain as if by dagger thrusts.
Napoleon gave the order to cease the combat; the pursuers might encounter the Archduke's second army, fresh and in good order, and then would run the risk of being destroyed against it.
If the Archduke kept before Ratisbon, they must the next day give a fifth battle; if he passed the Danube, they must pursue him.
It was time to bivouac; the soldiers were dying with fatigue; those who had arrived from Landshut had marched from day-break till noon, and had then fought from noon to eight o'clock of the evening.
Massena's three divisions had arrived at three of the afternoon, and had no need of rest.
Theday had been a rough one! The victory had cost dear.
Two thousand five hundred Frenchmen were disabled. The Austrlans had six thousand killed or wounded, and lost three thousand prisoners; twenty-five to thirty pieces of artillery had fallen into their enemy's hands.
Davoust had gained the title of Prince of Eckmuhl, and Napoleon had obtained the right to repose a few hours.
In all probability, the Archduke Charles would not risk battle the following day; he would undertake to repass the Danube. In fact, as Napoleon had foreseen, the Archduke made his dispositions during the night.
Surprised in his movement upon Rising, he had arrived in time to secure the village of Eckmuhl, but not soon enough to arrest the retrograde movement of his troops; his army was too far beyond discipline to offer battle at this moment, above all, when having the Danube at his back; lastly, he had too little cavalry for that cavalry to essay a defence of the plain which extends from Egglofsheim to Ratisbon.
The Archduke therefore passed the Danube, half over the stone bridge of Ratisbon, half over the bridge of boats, which the Bohemian army bad brought with it. General Kollowrath's troops, which had had no other task Than going to Abach and returning, covered the retreat.
At three o'clock in the morning, the Archduke's army commenced its march; it went upon the two bridges, leaving Kollowrath betore the town to mask and protact the movement, and before Kollowrath, all his cavalry.
The Austrians expected to be attacked before day, and were not deceived; at four o'clock, Napoleon was on his horse.
As soon as objects could be distinguished, the French light cavalry advanced, having the mission to discover if they were to give battle or to pursue a retreating enemy.
The Austrian cavalry gave them no time to make observations; it rushed upon the Frenchmen with the rage of brave soldiers having to wipe away their previous defeat.
Then, a conflict, similar to that which night alone interrupted again took place. While fighting, the Austrian troopers fell back toward the town, drawing upon them the attention of the French, that the grenadiers and the remainder of the infantry might have time to gain the other bank by the bridge of boats.
But some hussars perceived what was going on, and running to Marshal Lannes they showed him the greater part of the army, which was crossing the stream below Ratisbon.
Lannes called together all he had of artillery and established a battery, which belched forth a shower of balls and shells upon the bridge of boats.
At the end of an hour, the bridge was broken, a thousand men killed or drowned, and the boats shattered and in flames, going down the current of the Danube, swept thus away to bear to Vienna the news of the Archduke's defeat.
On the other side, Kollowrath, to give Prince Charles's army the time to defile, threw up entrenchments in the town, and closed the gates before the bayonets of the French light infantry.
The town had but one wall, with towers from place to place, and a wide ditch.
Napoleon gave the order to scale this wall; he did not wish to give the Archduke time to blow up the stone bridge over which he had need to continue his pursuit.
Forty pieces of artillery were raised in battery in less than a quarter of an hour, and began to demolish the wall with balls and set fire to the place with shells.
Napoleon advanced within half a gunshot of the wall, covered with the Austrian sharpshooters.
It was uselessly he was implored to retire; he refused to take a single step backward.
All at once, with the same coolness with which a fencing master announces a thrust of a foil in an attack, he said:
Berthier, who had not quitted him, and had him covered as much as possible, ran to him, visibly turning pale, and cried:
“I told you the truth, sire; this is the counterpart of the one at Abensberg.”
“Yes,” said Napoleon; “only at Abensberg he shot too high, and at Ratisbon he shot too low !”
On the 13th of the May following Napoleon entered Vienna, and the drum-major of the First Regiment of the Guard said, curling his moustache and gazing at the palace of the Emperor Francis II.:
“This, then, is that old House of Austria the Emperor had said so much about.”
ON Tuesday, the 17th of October of the year 1809, that is, five months, day for day, after the second taking possession of Vienna by the French army, an officer of forty years or age, wearing the uniform of an Austrian general, accompanied by two aides-de-camp, and a servant with a led horse, pursued the road from Altenburg to Vienna.
The frankness of his physiognomy, the clearness of his look, indicating, according to Gall's phrenological system, that among the good qualities or faults of his organization, whether one examined him in a moral or a diplomatic point of view, stratagem held but a small place, did not prevent his visage being overshadowed by a species of gloomy veil which was evidently the reflection of his thought.
The consequence was his two aides-de-camp, leaving their general to his preoccupation, instead of escorting him to the right and to the left, after exchanging a look, fell back a little in the rear, and followed, conversing carelessly, the principal personage of this cavalcade; followed as they were themselves, at an equal distance. by the domestic who led the horse.
It was in the neighborhood of four o'clock of the afternoon, and night was beginning to come on.
On perceiving these horsemen from afar, a young man who, doubtless, had been reposing on the roadside, rose, crossed the ditch, and approached the line on which the general and his attendants would pass.
He wasa young man of middling stature, with blonde hair falling upon his shoulders, blue eyes clouded by a frown which appeared habitual to him, and light moustache, which just commencing to grow, had all the flexible virginity of down.
He wore a cap in which were three oak leaves, a short frockcoat, light grey pantaloons, and flexible leather boots coming above the knee, which constituted, if not the uniform, at least the usual attire of the German student.
The movement which he had made at sight of the cavalcade seemed to indicate that he had some favor or at least some information to ask of him who appeared the chief.
In fact, after having cast a rapid glance upon the officer who rode at the head, the young man said:
“Sir Count, will your Excellency have the kindness to tell me it I am far from Vienna?”
The officer was so deeply buried in his thoughts, that he had heard the sound of the voice, but had not understood the sense of the words.
He lowered, with a benevolent look, his eyes upon the young man, who renewed his question concerning the distance which still separated him from the city.
“Three leagues, my young friend,” responded the General.
“Sir Count,” resumed the young man in a firm voice, as if he were asking a thing so simple that he underwent no chance of refusal:
''I am at the end of a long journey, very much wearied, forced to reach Vienna this evening; will you be so good as to permit me to mount the horse which your servant leads?”
The officer regarded the young man more attentively than the former time, and, recognizing in him all the characters of a distinguished education, said:
Then, turning to his servant, said:
“John, give this horse to-your name, sir ?”
“To a wearied traveler, Sir Count.”
“To a wearied traveler,” repeated the General, with a smile indicating that he respected the incognito under which this new-comer appeared desirous of remaining.
John obeyed, and the young man, under the half mocking eyes of the two aides-de-camp, vaulted into the saddle with an ease which proved that be was no stranger, if not to the art, at least to the first principles of equitation.
Then, as if his place was not near a servant, he pushed his horse forward in such a manner as to be on the same line with the aides-de-camp.
The General had not lost a single detail of these different maneuvers.
“Noble student,'' said he, after an instant's silence.
“Sir Count !” replied the young-man.
“Does your desire to remain unknown reach to such a point as not to allow you to proceed side by side with me ?”
“Not so,” said the young man; “for, first of all I have no right to that familiarity; then, if permitted, I should fear to distract your Excellency from the grave thoughts into which you would naturally be plunged.”
The officer regarded the young man with still greater curiosity than he had heretofore done.
“So, s??,” said he, “since you call me Sir Count, you know my name ?”
“I believe,” rejoined the student, “I have the honor of riding side by side with Monsieur the General Count de Bubna.”
The General made a movement of the head which showed that the young man was not wrong.
Then he resumed:
“You have spoken of grave thoughts I was buried in; do you therefore know my aim in going to Vienna?”
“Does not your Excellency go to Vienna to treat directly of peace with the Emperor of the French?”
“Pardon me, my dear sir,” said Count de Bubna, laughing; “yon may have appreciated my discretion when it acted in respect to the incognito you wish to preserve; but you will acknowledge that we are no more upon an equal footing from the moment when I know neither who you are nor why you go to Vienna, while you know. not only who I am, but also what is my mission.”
“As for being upon an equality with you, Sir Count, your Excellency only has need to see my dress, and but to recall the favor I asked of you, to believe in my profound humility by you.”
“But, still,” insisted Count de Bubna, “you do know me. You know why I go to Vienna.”
“I know your Excellency, because I saw you under fire: first, at Abensberg. next, at Ratisbon; I know what your Excellency is to do in Vienna, because I quitted Altenberg, where were held conferences between the French and Austrian plenipotentiaries, and because rumor has spread around that, weary at seeing nothing advance between the hands of Nugent and Metternich, the Emperor Francis the Second bade you go to the Castle ot Dotis, where he has dwelt since the battle of Wagram, to give you his full powers.”
“I must agree that you are perfectly instructed, noble student, upon my qualities and my mission; but permit me in my turn to call upon my perspicuity, in default of your conference. First, I divine from your account that you are a Bavarian.”
“Yes, Sir Count, I am from Eckmuhl.”
“We are enemies therefore?”
“Enemies?” said the young man, regarding the Count. “Do I hear your Excellency aright?”
“Enemies, in truth! we have fought one against the other, Bavarians and Austrians.”
“When I saw you at Abensberg and Ratisbon, Sir Count,” said the student, “I was not fighting against you, and, if ever we are enemies, it shall not be when you make war; it shall rather be when you make peace.”
The Count eyed the young man with all the fixedness and deepness his look was capable of doing.
“Sir Student,” said he at the end of an instant, “you have known and now know all there is of happiness and misfortune in this world: chance has made you meet me; chance made my servant have a led horse; chance wearied you and was the cause of your asking to mount that horse; in short, chance has made me do that which another would have refused to do to a stranger; I have granted that request, as to a friend.”
The student bowed.
“You appear sad and unfortunate; is your sorrow one of those which may be consoled? Is your misfortune of those one can soften?”
“You see well enough,” responded the young man with a deep melancholy accent, “that I have no advantage over you, and that you know me as well as I know you! Ask me nothing more, now: you know my country, you know my opinion, you know my heart.”
“Excuse my asking something more; for I will repeat my question: 'Can I console your sadness? can I alleviate your misfortune?' ”
The young man shook his head.
“My sadness cannot be consoled, Sir Count,” responded he; “my mistortane is irreparable!”
“Ah! young man, young man,” said Count de Bubna, “there is love beneath it all!”
“Yes, though that love is not the sole thing.”
“'Tis possible; but I answer that that is your greatest evil.”
“You have justly hit it, Sir Count.”
“Is the woman you love unfaithful?”
“Is she dead?”
“She has been dishonored by a French officer, sir!”
“Ah, poor child!” said the Count, holding out his hand to his young traveling companion, in token of the double interest he bore to him and to the young girl or whose misfortune he had heard. “So that-” resumed he, continuing to question, but evidently more from sympathy than by curiosity.
“So that,” the young man went on, “so that I come from accompanying the father and the two sisters-she had a sister, a child nine years old-into Baden where, hiding his name, the poor father may conceal his shame, and after having accompanied them there, I have returned here.”
“Yes-you are no more astonished at my being fatigued, are you? and that, wishing absolutely to reach Vienna this evening, I have had recourse to your obligingness!”
“I understand,” said the Count: “the man who dishonored your lover is at Vienna?”
“And he who has dishonored my country also!” muttered the young man, but too low for M. de Bubna to hear him.
“In my time, they drew the sword well at the University of Gottingen,” said the Count, making an allusion to the design which, without doubt in his mind, led the young man to Vienna.
But the student did not reply.
“Look you,” pursued the Count, “you are speaking to a soldier! to a man who knows that all affronts demand reparation, and who will never let a man like you be outraged!”
“Well?” said the young man.
“Well, confess that you come to Vienna to slay the man who has dishonored your mistress.”
“To slay him?”
“Fairly of course,” interrupted the Count, “the sword or pistol in hand.”
“I do not know this man, I never saw him, I do not know his name.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the Count. “Then it is not him you seek.”
“I believe I told you, Sir Count, that love was not my sole preoccupation.”
“I shall not ask you what is the other.”
“You are right, for I would not tell it you.”
“So you would have me learn no more?”
“Of you, of your projects, your hopes.”
“My hopes? I have no more hopes! my projects are yours; only you wish the peace of Austria; I wish the peace of the world; I am a poor student, weak, ignorant, by whose name you would learn nothing, albeit it may be destined to become celebrated one day.”
“And will you not tell me your name?”
“Sir Count I am in haste to arrive at Vienna; will you permit me to take the horse I am riding, and I will precede you? In that case, you will tell me at what hotel you propose to dismount, and the man who brings your horrse shall be charged, at the same time, to bear my thanks and tell you my name.”
“The horse you ride is yours, noble student; as for me, I will descend at the Hotel of Prussia; if you have anything to tell me, you will find me there.”
“Then God save you. Sir Count!” said the young man.
And, putting his horse to the gallop, he soon came in sight of the arsenal, then of the promenade of the Graben, then of the ancient glacis of the city, bombarded at the time of the Archduke Maximilian's resistance, and, finally, of the Imperial palace.
At this point of his course, the young man turned to the left, stopped before a door of a house in the suburb of Mariahilf, struck three blows at equal intervals with the brass knocker which shone on the door, and was introduced, he and his horse, into a courtyard.
The door closed behind him.
But at the moment when, in his turn Count de Bubna attained the ramparts of the city and proceeded toward the Hotel of Prussia, followed by the two aides-de-camp and his domestic, that little door of the suburb of Mariahilf reopened; the young man whom we saw bestride the horse came out on foot, and, throwing, while passing, enquiring looks on the houses, soon entered the shop of a dealer of old iron. There, after having had many different formed knives shown him, he set his choice upon a long bladed knife with a black haft, which he bought for a zwanziger (about fifteen cents).
Then, leaving the shop, he re-entered the little house of the suburb of Mariahilf, and while a domestic was rubbing down Count de Bubna's horse, the young man carefully pointed hiaknife upon a stone, and, no doubt assured that the point was sufficiently fine and the blade sharp enough, he took out a pencil, and, tearing a leaf from his tablets, he wrote upon it:
“To his Excellency, General Count de Bubna, at the Hotel of Prussia.
“His grateful and devoted servant,
Ten minutes afterward, the horse was in the stables of the Hotel of Prussia, and the note in the hands of Count de Bubna.
AT three kilometres* from Vienna, above the suburb of Mariahilf, a little to the loft, rises the imperial Palace of Schoenbrunn, commenced by Joseph the First and finished by Maria Theresa.
* A kilometre, 1093.6389 yards.
This was the ordinary general quarter of Napoleon each time he took Vienna; it was there he lodged in 1805, after the Battle of Austerlitz; it was there be stayed in 1809, after the Battle of Wagram; it was there his son was in 1815, after the Battle of Waterloo.
Save the brick walls and pointed roofs, Schoenbrunn is built very nearly on the plan of Fontainebleau; it is a house with two wings, a double staircase crowning the peristyle, and giving upon the first floor. Parallel to the principal building, low constructions which serve as stables and servants' halls join the extremities of each wing and, leaving to the stairs an opening of a dozen metres*, from each side of which rise an obelisk, finish and encircle the court.
* A metre is 39 37/100 inches.
This entrance is reached by a bridge under which rolls one of those thousand brooks which empty into the Danube, without having acquired enough importance for geography to take the trouble to give them names.
Behind the chateau extends the garden, disposed in an amphitheatrical form, and surmounted by a terrace placed at the summit of an immense lawn, which is flanked on either side, by a charming grove full of shade and freshness.
It was upon this terrace that on Tuesday, the 12th of October, in the same year, 1809, the Victor of Wagram was walking impatiently, almost carelessly.
Because his genie, this time again, had borne him away; because fortune, once more, had been faithful to him, but yet he had felt in his destiny a commencement of resistance: because after having struggled against men, he had undertaken to conflict the forces of nature and had comprehended that, if he dared again tempt God, nature, which had given him that terrible warning at the Danube, would no longer leave him a conqueror!
Why impatiently ?
Because, notwithstanding seven successive defeats, Austria, who was taken, would not surrender.
For an instant, Napoleon had had the hope to efface the House of Hapsburg from the number of reigning families, as he had stricken out the House of Braganza in Portugal and the House or Bourbon in Spain; but he had seen that the talons of the double-headed eagle were more strongly clutched to the empire than he had believed. It would nevertheless be a fine thing to tear away the three crowns of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary, and disperse them upon Austrian or German heads! But he knew that proud dream was impossible, and it was with great pains only that he obtained the four or five milllons of souls from the six or seven provinces he had asked them of.
The first conferences had taken place toward the end of August, between Metternich, Nugent and Champagny, and yet they had reached the 12th of October without there being a definite reply drawn from the Austrian diplomatists.
The conditions put down by the French negotiator were too harsh for theAustrians. They had for cause of negotiation the uti possidetis *
* See M. Thiers so exact, so precise, so clear in everything which is strategic, financial, and negotiatory.
You know what this uti possidetis is; do you not, dear reader? Well, I will tell you.
The Emperor Napoleon asked his brother the Emperor of Austria, to abandon to France, not the territory which his armies occupied, which was impossible, since his armies occupied Znaim, Vienna, Brunn, Presburg, Adelsberg, Gratz, but the equivalent of that territory in other places.
That would be nine millions of inhabitants and twelve or fifteen thousands of leagues, that is to say, a little more than a quarter of his states.
Nevertheless, little by little, Napoleon had lowered his demand to four or five millions of souls and six or seven thousand square leagues of earth.
Francis II. found that still too much.
So, as he knew with what facility one obtained concessions from that terrible vanquisher when one addressed directly to certain points of his character, he had decided, in lieu of leaving the thing longer in the hands of the diplomatists, to send to Napoleon General Count de Bubna, his aide-de-camp, at once a man of war, a man of the world, and a man of mind.
We have in the preceding chapter, made the acquaintance of the negotiator of his Imperial Majesty, Francis the second; we have therefore nothing to add to his moral and physical qualities.
It was this negotiator whom the Emperor Napoleon, not less pressed to return to France than the Emperor of Austria was eager to see him go, was awaiting with so great an impatience that, every five minutes, interrupting his silent and agitated promenade, he would press his face modeled like one of an antique bust, against the glass door, looking toward the chateau.
At length, the general diplomatist appeared, mounting the declivity of verdure which led from the chateau to the terrace.
Napoleon was so little master of his impatience that contrary to the laws of etiquette, which required M.de Bubna to be introduced to him by certain formalities, he opened the door himself.
“Come, come; Monsieur de Bubna,” said he on perceiving him. “My brother, the Emperor of Austria, was right to complain of our negotiators: all these diplomatic fellows are really merchants of words! The victory is to him who puts in most merchandize, as they say in commerce. The soldiers to treat of peace! We will work it like a battle, Monsieur de Bubna.”
“In that case, sire, I yield myself beaten beforehand,” rejoined the Count. “Make your conditions therefore; I give up my sword.”
“Still you must discuss those conditions. Stay, I will display a frankness which would be imprudence did I not know my strength, and if I were not in a position to render useless all diplomatic dissimulations. Look you, you know what I ask; what are you charged to grant me?”
“Your Majesty wishes to enlarge Saxe, strengthen Bavaria, appropriate upon the Adriatic. Would it not be better for him to increase New Poland?”
Napoleon stopped M. de Bubna with a smile and a gesture.
“That is to say, embroil myself with Russia,” said he. “Yea, doubtless that would be better for Austria, though Russia has proven that she was a very warm ally, by leaving me to fight Austria alone, her true enemy.”
“Sire, your Majesty is master and can carry the discussion upon the ground which best suits him; but permit me to say-”
“That we are moving away from the discussion?” interposed the Emperor. ''That is possible. However, M. de Bubna, we can terminate all in a day, in an hour, if you speak as frankly in the name of your sovereign as I have spoken in my own name. You are right, I have no interest in procuring some millions of inhabitants the more in Saxe and Bavaria: my interest, my true interest, is to pursue the policy of my predecessors; to finish the work commenced by Henry IV., Richelieu, and Louis XIV.; it is, in short, to destroy the Austrian monarchy by separating the three crowns of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary. To separate these three crowns, we must fight again, and although it is probable it will end in that, I give you my word of honor I have not the desire!”
“Well, sire, why not rather attach Austria to you by an intimate alliance?”
“By what means?”
“Sire, there are two ways to make peace. One, generous and worthy of your Majesty; that, is to give back to Austria all the provinces you have taken from her, to reinstate her as powerful as she was before the war, and then to trust to her loyalty and her gratitude. The other. permit ine to say, illiberal, dangerous, cruel, but little profitable to the despoiled power, less profitable to the power which is the despoiler-”
“Pardon my stopping you, M. de Bubna,” said Napoleon. “The first system of peace, after Austerlitz, when his Majesty, my brother, came to see me at my bivouac, I tried, upon his word, to wage no more war. I made restitution of all his states, excepting the few I held to keep the campaign. After having done thus, I might, it seemed to me, have calculated upon a lasting peace; but, scarce had I been engaged against the English and Spanish, than I beheld all the promises broken, all the oaths betrayed! I can no more place faith in your Emperor's word, sir. Hold,” added Napoleon, “would you have a proof that it is not personally against Austria that I make war, and that it is your Emperor alone I mistrust? The Emperor Francis is ceaselessly speaking of his disgust for the throne, and his desire to abdicate; well, let him abdicate in favor of his brother, the Grand Duke of Wurtemburg, whom I love and am loved by, who has a will, and will not let the English sway him; let him abdicate, and I will quit Vienna, and give up to his successor all the provinces I have taken, and, so far from requiring the one hundred and fifty millions which remain still from the contribution of two hundred millions which I have settled upon Austria, I will return him the fifty millions received. I will lend him another hundred on his simple word, if he has need of it, and, perhaps-yes, more still, I will yield him the Tyrol!”
“Sire,” responded M. de Bubna, much embarrassed, “I do not doubt that the Emperor, my master, on learning the extreme condition which your Majesty attaches to peace, will decide to abdicate, liking better to assure the integrity of the Empire in the hands of his successor than wear a crown thus mutilated upon his own head.”
“Understand me rightly,” resumed Napoleon, “those are not my utmost or extreme conditions as you say: it is a supposition; the respect which should be between sovereigns prevents my imposing the like; only, I say that, if retreating is to the taste of your Emperor, well, it shall be, as you will see, a great blessing for Austria. But, in short, as I do not believe in that result, as I wish no more to depend upon the generosity of Austria, I am forced to go back to my first proposals-”
“Softening them, sire, I hope!”
“So be it-I renounce the uti possidetis. I claimed three circles in Bohemia; I required upper Austria to the Ens; I abandon the Ens, I yield a portion of the Carinthia and only preserve Villach; I make restitution of Clagenfurt, but I keep Carniole and the right of Saxe to Bosnia; I ask two million six hundred thousand subjects in Germany. There remains Galicia; I should do something for an ally who has not seconded me, 'tis true, but who has not betrayed me; I sought to make it a grand dukedom; we should both be easy on that side, for we will hold no more war in those territories. It is not thus on the Italian border I forewarn you: there must be a large road to Turkey, a road by way of which may be sent three hundred thousand men and three hundred pieces of cannon! My influence upon the Mediterranean is subordinate to my influence upon the Porte; that influence I can only have by making myself the neighbor of the Ottoman Empire. The land must be mine inasmuch as, each time I am ready to take to the ocean or to the Mediterranean to meet the English,your master takes England from my hands! Let us leave my allies and return to me and my empire. Give me what I ask upon the Adriatic and in Illyria, and in everything else you find me accommodating. But understand me fully, M. de Bubna, that is my ultimatum; you may go, I will send out my orders for the resumption of hostilities. Since the battle of Wagram, my army has been every-day augmented; my infantry is complete, rested, better than ever; all my cavalry is remounted in Germany; I have five hundred pieces of cannon drawn, and three hundred others ready to mount upon the walls of the places I occupy. Junot, Massena, and Lafebere have eighty thousand men in Saxe and Bohemia, Davoust, Oudinot and my guard form a body of a hundred and fifty thousand men; with that number, I will start by Presburg and will go to deal, to the bottom of Hungary, blows which will be the last to the Austrian monarchy.”
“Sire,” interrupted M. de Bubna, “your Majesty has set me the example of frankness. We no more wish a war which may destroy us; but. yet, we do not prefer a peace almost as disastrous as war. Your Majesty has spoken of two hundred and thirty thousand soldiers; we have three hundred thousand; but, at the head of them is wanting a general who may cope with your Majesty. May your Majesty hearken to the appeal which we make to his generosity and give us his last word.”
“Take a pen. Monsieur, and write,” said Napoleon.
Count de Bubna seated himself, took a pen and, under the Emperor's dictation, wrote the following ultimatum:
“On the side of Italy: The circle of Villach in that of Clagenfurt, that is the opening of the Noric Alps; more, Laybach and right bank of the Save to Bosnia.
“On the side of Bavaria: A line drawn between Passau and Lintz, starting at the Danube in the neighborhood of Efferding. falling upon Schwanstadt, leaving the place to the territory of Gmund, and stopping in the country Salzburg by the Lake of Kammer See.
“On the side of Bohemia: Some unimportant boundaries which I will designate, and which are not to include more than fifty thousand souls in population.
“On the side of Galicia, New Galicia: from the Vistula to the left of the Silica, from the Vistula to the Bug on the right; the circle of Zamrose with less groundl on the side of Cracow, but joining the salt mines of Wielieska.”
“So you see,” continued Napoleon, “instead of sixteen hundred thousand subjects in Italy and Austria, I content myself with fourteen hundred thousand and in place of three millions of subjects in Galicia, with two millions only.”
“And your Majesty relinquishes his other pretentions?” inquired M. du Bubna, quickly.
“Oh, no.” said Napoleon, “you do not comprehend! there are two important points to regulate: the first-”
M. de Bubna was ready to write.
“Stay, do not write,” said the Emperor.
“These two important points to be settled will be the subject of a particular letter between your master and me; beside, what I have to ask you is not complicated, and your memory, I am sure, will be sufficient. I will, you understand ” it is not I wish, but I will have Austria reduce her army to a hundred and fifty thousand men, and she must count me down a hundred millions to complete the war contribution of which I have only received fifty till now.”
“Sire, that is hard,” said M. de Bubna.
“It is so,” responded the Emperor.
“But still, there must be a termination to this vassalage.”
“Hold,” said Napoleon, “I will play a fine game with your master. The end of this vassalage since thus you term it. will be that of maritime war. Let England give us peace, a certain, lasting peace, and I will authorize you to re-arm the five hundred thousand men you had at the commencement of the campaign.”
“Sire,” demanded M. de Bubna, rising, “when ought I to return?” .
“Monsieur,” said Napoleon, taking a sudden resolution, “it is useless for you to return, inasmuch as you would not find me here.”
“Your Majesty is going?”
“For Styria, yes.”
“And when?” ,
“To-morrow-you have my ultimatum; M. de Champagny has my full powers. If it must be a battle, I shall return; but I tell you, Monsieur de Bubna, woe to those who are the cause of my coming back!”
“Your Majesty is going?” repeated M. de Bubna, stupefled.
“By heaven, yes! Come with me, M. de Bubna; I will pass, in the court-yard of the chateau, my farewell review.”
M. de Bubna was certain, this time, that those were really Napoleon's last words.
He rose, put in his pocket the note he had written, and followed the Emperor.
Both descended the declivity of the greensward, went through the chateau, and appeared upon the staircase on the side of the court.
The yard was surrounded with people.
The Emperor approached the balcony which formed the center of the two united steps. He had M.de Bubna on the right, on his left the Prince of Neuchatel.
Rapp, his aide-de-camp, stood a little way from him, upon the third step of the staircase.
The soldiers defiled beneath the balcony with the cry of “Vive l'Empereur!” and formed in a square in the court-yard.
The Emperor made a sign for M. de Bubna to follow him, and descended the steps to go and place himself at the square.
Rapp continued to march before him, for he had been forewarned that the Emperor had something to fear.
Moreover, since four or five months he had done thus, and above all, Berthier's watchful eye sought for the assassin promised by the secret assembly of the ruins of Abensberg Castle.
All at once, at the moment when the crowd parted to make room for Napoleon, a young man, instead of turning aside like the others, threw himself forward.
Rapp saw something shine like a flash of fire; he extended his arm, and grasped by the wrist a hand armed with a knife.
“Staps!” cried M. de Bubna. “Oh. sire, sire-”
“What is it?” inquired the Emperor, smiling.
“It is, sire, a young man who wished to assassinate you. Did you not see him?”
“I never see those things. Monsieur. Either I am necessary to France, and then I am cuirassed by my mission; or lam useless, in which case, God will dispose of me!”
Then, without being further inquieted about the assassin, whom Rapp placed in the hands of the gendarmes, he entered the square, as calm as on the day when, at Abensberg, a bullet had penetrated his hat; or as on the day when, at Ratisbon, he had been wounded in the foot.
But, in a low tone, he had said to Berthier:
“M. de Bubna knows that young man.”
“How do you know that, sire?”
“On seeing him, he uttered his name.”
“And this young man is called?”
TWO hours after the review and after M. de Bubna's departure. Napoleon might have been seen again in the same pavilion in which we found him that morning.
This time, however, he was not alone; but, on the contrary, walking up and down with a man of fifty years of age, with a quick, intelligent glance, who was attired in black, and with whom he was familiarly conversing.
This man was his physician, Corvisart.
“Do you know, sire, that I was much troubled when I was called for in your behalf?” said the illustrious doctor. “The rumor of an attempted assassination upon your person had reached my ears, and I was in fear that you were wounded.”
“Thanks for your promptitude in coming hither, my dear doctor; it is nothing, as you see, and if I did send for you, it was not for myself.”
“For whom then?”
“It is for my assassin.”
“Has he, then, received some bad wound in the scuffle, or did he try to commit suicide?”
“As for being hurt when he was secured, I believe, on the other hand, he was shown so much solicitude that he has not received a single scratch, and I have not heard of his making any attempt upon his life.”
“Well, then; sire, why have you had me sent for?”
“M. de Bubna, who by chance travelled with this young man and who lent him a horse to finish his last stage, has said some words to me which have interested me in him.”
“In your assassin ? ”
Why not ? I appreciate persistence, my dear Corvisart, and I am of the belief that that is a virtue M. Frederick Staps is endowed with. I wish to know whether this persistence is in him a virtue or a monomania, if he is a patriot or a madman. Will you charge yourself with finding that out?”
“I will try, sire.”
“There is below it all a woman's story, interesting enough, which I may comprehend, but which nowise regards us.”
“In short,” said Corvisart, “your Majesty wishes a pretext to save him?”
“It may be,” responded Napoleon.
“Well, sire,” rejoined Corvisart. come in: we will examine him.”
Napoleon called Rapp and asked if his orders had been executed.
“Yes, sire,” replied the General.
“Then, let the prisoner enter.”
Rapp went out; an instant after the young man came in between two gendarmes, handcuffed.
Rapp appeared behind him.
“Take those off that lad's hands,” said Napoleon.
He was obeyed.
Then, turning to Rapp, he added:
“Leave him alone with me and Corvisart.”
The General hesitated; Napoleon frowned as may have frowned Olympian Jove.
Rapp made the two gendarmes go out before him, threw a last look upon the three personages whom he left together, and went out, promising inwardly to keep his hand upon his saber hilt and his ear nailed to the door.
The Emperor was seated at the end of an oval table; Corvisart was standing near him.
“Do you speak French?” inquired the Emperor of Staps.
“A little,” responded the latter.
“Would you answer by interpreter, or endeavor to reply directly?”
“I prefer to reply directly.”
“Is Frederick Staps really your name?”
“From whence come you?”
“How long have you been in Vienna?”
“What was your design in coming here?”
“I came in the design to ask peace of you and to prove it is necessary.”
“Did you believe I would have listened to a man without a mission?”
“My mission is more holy than M.de Bubna's.”
“M. de Bubna came to me on the part of the Emperor.”
“I came on that of God!”
Napoleon looked at Corvisart questioning him with his eye; the latter made sign which meant:
“And if I had not listened to you, what was then your intention?” demanded the Emperor, turning again to Staps.
“To kill you.”
“What harm have I done to you?”
“You oppress my country.”
“Your country rose against me; I vanquished it, that is the chance of war! Alexander conquered and oppressed the Persians, Caesar overcame and oppressed the Gauls, Charlemagne subdued and oppressed the Saxons.”
“A Persian, I would have stabbed Alexander! A Gaul, I would have poniarded Caesar! A Saxon, my dagger would have pierced Charlemagne's breast!”
“Is it a religious fanaticism which determined you?”
“No, it is national patriotism.”
“Have you accomplices?”
“My father himself is ignorant of my projects.”
“Have you not already seen me?”
“Three times before this, which makes the fourth: the first time at Abensberg, the second at Ratisbon. the third in the court-yard of the palace of Schoenbrunn.”
“Are you a free-mason?”
“No.” “An illuminati?”
“Do you know Major Schill?”
“Do you know Brutus?”
“Which one? there were two.”
“Yes,” said Napoleon, with an expressive smile, “ he who slew his father, and he who slew his son-are you acquainted with the conspiracies of Moreau and Pichegru?”
“I only know what is said in the papers.”
“What think you of these men?”
“That they worked for themselves and feared death.''
“They found upon you a woman's portrait did they not?”
“I prayed them to leave me it, and it was given back on my prayer.”
“Who is that woman?”
“What. matters that?”
“I wish to know who she is.”
“She is a young girl whom I was to marry.”
“You love! you have a father, a betrothed, and you become an assassin!”
“I yielded to a voice which said in me: 'Strike!' ”
“But after having struck, did you hope to escape?”
“I had not even the desire.”
“From whence comes this distaste of life?”
“Because fatality has given me an impossible life.”
“If I pardon you, what use will you make of your liberty?”
“As I am convinced, that you wish the ruin of Germany, I would await another occasion, I would beltcr choose my time, and perchance that time I should succeed.”
The Emperor shrugged his shoulders.
“Now, Corvisart,” said he, “the rest regards you, examine him and tell me what you think.”
Corvisart felt the young man's pulse, placed his ear to his breast, and looked in his eyes.
“He is a fanatic of the family of those called Cassius and Jacques Clement,” said he.
“And no madness?” demanded Napoleon.
“Not a whit.”
“Four pulsations more than in the ordinary state.”
“Then he is calm?”
The Emperor marched straight to the young man, and fixing upon him his profound look he said:
“Do you wish to live?”
“Why should I?”
“To he happy.”
“I can no more be so.”
“Promise to return to your father, to your affianced, to dwell tranquil and inoffensive, and I will pardon you.”
The young man regarded Napoleon with an astonished air. Then, after a pause, he said:
“I should make a vain promise.”
“I should not keep it.”
“Do you know that you will be Judged by a council of war, and consequently in three days all would be over?”
“I am ready to die.”
“Listen, I am going to-morrow; you will, therefore, be judged and shot in my absence.”
“Shall I be shot?” demanded Staps, with a sort of joy.
''Yes-at least, as I have said, if you do not wish to engage your word.”
“It is an engagement taken with God.” said the young man, shaking his head.
“But at the moment of leaving life, you may perhaps regret it.”
“I do not believe it.”
“ 'Tis possible, nevertheless.”
“No doubt; man is weak.”
“Well, if you are not weak, but repentant.”
“What should I do?”
“Will you promise to do what I ask you?”
“And then, show this paper to the president of the commission.”
And Napoleon, writing some words on a paper, folded and gave it to Staps, the latter took it, and without reading it, put it in his waistcoat pocket.
“A last time, Corvisart,” said Napoleon, “ you are sure this man is not mad ? ”
“He is not, sir.”
Rapp appeared again.
“Lead the accused back to prison,” said the Emperor; “let there be assembleda military committee who are to judge his crime.”
Then, turning to Corvisart:
“Doctor,” be pursued, as if his mind had preserved no recollection of what had passed, “tell me one thing.”
“What is it?”
“May a man, when forty years of age, have children?”
“And a man of fifty?”
“And a man of sixty? ”
“And a man of seventy?”
The Emperor smiled.
“There must be a child to me! there must be a son!” said Napoleon, “If that madman had slain me, to whom would have returned the throne of France?”
Then. letting his head fall upon his breast he murmured:
“There is one thing which frightens me: that is that it is no more the French Revolution but me whom they hate, and whom they pursue as the author of the universal evil, as the agent of that incessant and terrible trouble which shakes the world; and, still, God is my witness that it is not I who wish war! What more, then, are they than I, all those kings who find fanatics to adore them and assassins to defend them? They are more than I,” added he, “they are born upon the throne-ah! if I were only my grandson!”
And, falling onto his chair, he remained for some minutes pensive, with his forehead leaning upon his hand.
What passed during those few minutes in that profound head, and what wave of thoughts dashed itself against that unbreakable mind, firm as the rook?
That is one of those secrets which dwelt between him and God.
At length, he slowly drew to him a sheet of paper, took a pen, dipped it in the ink, and turning it many times between his fingers, wrote:
“TO THE MINISTER OF POLICE.
“Schoenbrunn, October the 12th, 1890.
“A young man seventeen years of age, the son of a Lutheran minister of Erfurth, endeavored to approach me at this day's parade: he was arrested by the officers, and, as they remarked the youth's troubled air, that excited suspicions: they searched him and found a dagger upon him.
“I have had an interview with him, and the little miscreant, who appears to be well informed, has said that he wished to assassinate me to deliver Austria from the presence of the French. I have discovered in him neither religious nor political fanaticism; he does not seem to me to well know what was Brutus. The fever of exaltation has prevented him learning more. Let him be questioned when he becomes cool. It may be that it will be nothing.
“I thus instruct you upon the event, that it may not be made more important than it appears to be. Keep this for yourself secretly; it caused no disturbance in the parade; I myself perceived nothing.
“P. S.—I repeat it anew to you, there must be no question of that act.”
Then ringing, he said to the usher:
“The General is here, sire.”
“Let him enter then.”
Rapp came in.
“Rapp,” said Napoleon, “choose a sure courier, and let him take this letter to M. Fouche.”
Rapp, with a military promptness and a passive obedience, took the letter and wheeled upon his heels.
“To him alone! to himself!” cried the Emperor.
THE day following the one upon which, pursuant to the programme he had given M. de Bubna, Napoleon had quitted Vienna, rumor circulated, around toward the evening, that the council of war, convoked by Marshall Berthier's order, had condemned Frederic Staps to the penalty of death.
The accused had confessed everything, had in no ways tried to avoid the accusation, and, after having heard his sentence pronounced, had asked neither pardon nor respite.
Only once within his prison, he had desired them to pray the Lieutenant, reporter of the court, who was a young officer of light infantry named Paul Richard, to come and see him the next day, some instants before the execution.
Then he made his prayer, had recommended them to arouse him early, and had given bis gaoler, in recompense for his cares, four gold Frederics which he had about him and which constituted all his fortune.
Thereupon he had thrown himself on his bed, had taken a medallion from his pocket and had tenderly kissed it many times; finally he had fallen asleep while pressing that medallion to his heart.
At six o'clock of the morning, the gaoler had come into his room and awoke him.
Then Staps had opened his eyes smiling, had thanked him who came, for so short a time; to return him to existence, had made his dressing with a sort of care, had parted his fine hair with particular coquetry, and when he was asked what he desired for breakfast had responded.
“I think a cup of milk will suffice.”
He was just emptying that cnp when the young officer from whom he had solicited an interview in extremis appeared upon the doorsill.
It was evident that the young officer, although he let no embarrassment be perceived, would have rather had the condemned man's choice fallen upon another than him,
“I thank you sir,” said Staps, “for having been willing to answer my invitation; I have a service to ask you.”
“And you see me ready to render it to you sir,” replied the young officer.
“This is not the first time we've seen each other. Lieutenant.”
“Alas! no. Monsieur, and I regret that fate selected me to be reporter on your case.”
“Oh! it is not only to the three sessions of the council of war where I appeared that I made allusion, sir; we have seen each other before.”
“That may be. Monsieur; but I have completely forgotten when our interview took place.”
“Nothing more natural: I was masked and you were not.”
“Ah!” said Paul Richard starting, “ 'twas in the ruins of Abensberg?”
“It was there, in fact; and for an instant you, also, may have believed you were to be shot.”
“Unfortunately, that which was a play with me is a reality with you,” said the Lieutenant.
“Right; but you were ignorant that it was a play and you went resolutely to the end. Lieutenant Richard, you are a brave man, and he was right who baptized you, that evening, Richard Coeur de Lion. ”
The young officer turned pale.
“Do you know why I was there, Monsieur?”
“No, Lieutenant; but that a soldier is the slave of his command, as an honest man is the slave of his word-well. little matters the rest! I recognized your face and said to myself: 'all valiant hearts are brothers; you have there a brother, Staps, and you can boldly ask a last service of him.' ”
“And you are not wrung; all that he can possibly do for you, in the limits of his duty, I will do.”
“Oh! be easy,” replied the prisoner; ” I have nothing to ask of you which may compromise you.”
“Speak,” said the young man.
“I love a young girl,” resumed Staps: “had not the events which have transpired occurred, she would have been my wife; her father and my father are friends; our marriage was stopped-”
“Yes,”said the young officer: “but it was then that you entered the association of the Tugendbund; 'twas then that fate designated you to stab the Emperor, and 'twas then all your hopes of love were destroyed?”
“No,” responded Staps, mournfully.
“Continue,” said the officer.
“In sooth, my moments are reckoned-rest easy, I shall not make you wait.”
The Lieutenant bowed his head in token of conviction.
“You know,” continued Staps, “that they found upon me a female portrait?”
“I asked them to leave that portrait on me till the time of my death.”
“And they satisfied that request without hesitation.”
“Well, sir, when I die, that portrait will be here, upon my heart.”
And the prisoner passed his hand to his breast.
“Do you wish that portrait buried with you?”
“Nay, after my death I wish a friend to take it and do me the kindness to place it one day or another in the hands of my betrothed, whom he will tell in what way I died, and above all that I died thinking of her.”
“Does she live in Bavaria?”
“No, sir; after a terrible catastrophe, she and her father quitted Bavaria, and went to establish themselves at Wolfach, a little town of the duchy of Baden, there you will find her.”
“Well; at, the moment of dying, you will hand me the portrait.”
“I have told you that I wished to die with it against my heart; you will, therefore, take it from ny body after death.”
“The name of that young girl?”
“It is written on the back of the portrait.”
“Is that all?”
“No, a last service. I do not wish, sir, to be confounded with vulgar aasassins. After having taken the portrait from my breast, you will open my right hand; it will hold a paper which you will have the obligingness to hand to the officers who formed the council of war before which I appeared, and the Colonel who presided.”
“That shall be done as you desire, is there anything else;”
“Then I shall do more than press your hand and wish you good courage.”
“I accept the hand and wish, sir, though the wish, as you may see, will be useless. Where shall I see you again?”
“Upon the place of execution.”
“On the esplanade, then?”
“On the esplanade. ”
The young man and the prisoner shook hands a last time, and the officer went out.
The militarl prison in which they had placed Staps was situated upon the parade ground. The execution was to take place at eight o'clock; It was three-quarters past seven; the esplanade was covered with people.
The throng appertained in part to the French army and partly to the Viennese population.
When they saw Paul Richard come from the prison, they surrounded him, and craved news of the prisoner.
Paul responded that the prisoner, having recognized him as one whom he had met at Abensberg, had had him caled as the only person to whom he could entrust his last wishes.
“Will he be surely executed this morning?” inquired a Captain who had been one of the council of war.
“Yes,” said Paul, “you know, Captain, that the sentences of military justice are executed without delay.”
“Certainly; but I also know that the Colonel has said that the prisoner might ask mercy from Marshal Berthier, and the Colonel told me, after reading the sentence, that in case of a demand of that nature, the Prince of Neuchatel had full powers from the Emperor.”
“Well,” said Paul, “the prisoner has not profited by the Colonel's advice.”
“But will he not do so?” demanded several voices.
“No; I think the unfortunate man has, in desiring death, some reason that is known only to himself and God.”
At that moment eight o'clock sounded.
The prison door opened.
A sergeant passed out first then four men followed.
Behind these four men came the culprit.
He had left his coat and vest in the prison, and wore only his shirt, his pantaloons, and boots.
His visage was pale but calm-devoid of any expression of pride or weakness.
They saw in him man coolly prepared to meet death.
This man knew to what he was going; although he sacrificed his life at the age of twenty, enthusiasm did not exalt him; and if, in lieu of enthusiasm, he had been filled with that sentiment which had made him commit his crime, in face of death that fictitious and feverish sentiment had made way for an immovable resolution, which one could read in the slight contraction of his eyebrows, and in the wrinkles of his chin and lips, which gave to his mouth the appearance of a smile.
Behind the criminal marched the remainder of the firing-party-that is, six men.
Scarce had he made three steps from the bastion than he looked about him as if seeking some one.
His eyes encountered those of Lieutenant Paul Richard, which seemed to say, “Here I am; you see I keep my word to you.”
Then he saluted with his head, and the slight trace of inquietude which bad for a second clouded his visage disappeared.
They continued to advance to the place of execution.
Suddenly a cannon-shot was heard.
“What is that?” demanded Staps.
“It is because peace was signed last night, and that cannon is announcing it to Germany.”
“Peace?” repeated the prisoner. “Is it true what you are telling me?”
“Without doubt,” someone answered.
“Then,” said be, “let me thank God.”
“For having at length returned peace to Germany.”
And the young man, bending one knee to the ground, made, between the two rows of soldiers who accompanied him, a short prayer.
At the moment he was rising, Richard approached him, and said:
“Does not that somewhat change your disposition?”
“Why do you make that question?”
“That you may ask mercy; it is possible it will be granted—”
The culprit, stopped.
“You know the service I expect from you, Lieutenant.”
“Are you now as before ready to keep that promise of yours?”
“Well, your hand then.”
Richard extended his hand.
Staps passed from his right to his left hand an object which Richard could not see; after which action he shook the young officer's hand cordially.
All that was done simply without ostentation, but with the same firmness which Richard had up to then remarked in him.
Then the procession resumed its march.
There were some three hundred paces to make from the prison door to the spot where was to take place the execution.
They were no longer than ten minutes accomplishing that.
During these ten minutes, the cannon was fired regularly from minute to minute.
Staps saw then that they had not deceived him, being assured, from the precision of the shots, that it was on account of some great solemnity.
They arrived upon the glacis, where the detachment halted.
“Is it here?” asked Staps.
“Yes, Monsieur,” rejoined the sergeant.
“May I choose the direction toward which I wish to turn in dying?”
The sergeant did not comprehend.
Richard approached anew.
Staps repeated his request, which Richard explained to the sergeant; the condemned desired to die with his eyes turned to the west, that is to say, looking at Abensberg.
This desire was complied with.
“Sir,” said Staps to Richard, “I know that I am very exacting; but as I have no pretension, to command the firing party myself, not being a soldier, I would like it to he done by the voice of one friend whom I have at this moment among those who have come to see me die.”
Richard looked at the sergeant.
“Do it, Lieutenant,” said the latter.
“Richard replied to Staps with a movement of the head, which signified that his wish would be satisfied.
“Now I am ready.” said the condemned.
A soldier came near him with a handkerchief.
“Oh! Lieutenant,” said Staps, “did you believe there was need of that?”
Lieutenant Richard made a sign.
The soldier went away, carrying the handkerchief.
Then, in a voice less steady than when he had said it for himself in the ruins of Abensberg Castle, the Lieutenant began:
In the midst of the deep silence which overspread the glacis, there was heard the rattling of the guns.
A cannon shot resounded in the space.
“Present arms! to the shoulder!”
Then, as the Lieutenant hesitated to pronounce the last word of command, Staps took it up in a firm voice:
The soldiers paid no attention whether the order had been given by the Lieutenant or the condemned—they obeyed.
The muskets sent forth their deadly contents; Frederic Staps fell pierced with eight balls.
Lieutenant Richard had turned aside his eyes.
When he again turned to the condemned, living an instant before, who was already no more than a corpse, he saw that the young man was dead, his left hand pressed to his side, and his right clenched.
He went to the lifeless body.
“My friends,” said he, “to me this unfortunate man intrusted his last instructions. He has upon his breast a woman's portrait, and in his hand a note.”
The soldiers respectfully dispersed.
Thereupon, Richard knelt down, raised Frederic Staps's body upon his knee, unbuttoned his shirt. and perceived a chain of hair as thin as a thread, and drew it from the young man's breast.
A medallion was suspended to that chain.
The Lieutenant hesitatingly brought the portrait to his eyes, and, on seeing it, sent forth a cry.
“Margaret Stiller!” ejaculated he. “Oh, I suspected it!”
Then, hurriedly catching the corpse's right hand, which he opened with an effort, he took from it a paper, which he unfolded.
The paper contained but these four words:
“I grant pardon.
“Oh, the unhappy one!” cried Paul Richard; “he wished to die.”
Then he added, in a gloomy tone, as he shook with a convulsive hand the paper and the medallion: “And it is I—I am the cause of his death!”
ON the 14th day of September, 1812, from the height of the Mount Salut, Napoleon, by the rays of a fine winter's sun, had seen glitter the gilded domes of the holy city; and all his army, diminished a quarter by the Battle of Borodino, but still ninety thousand strong, had clapped their hands and cried: “Moscow! Moscow!” as fourteen years previous, attempting the East by an opposite portal, it had cried: “The Pyramids! the Pyramids!”
That same evening Napoleon entered deserted Moscow.
The Gauls, at least, on taking the Capitol, when led by that unknown Brenn, from whose title the Latin historians have made the name of a man, by calling him Brennus; the Gauls, say we, on taking the Capitol, found at least the senators seated in their curule chairs: that was something to kill.
It was not so in Moscow; there were only to be found the French traders, who came, horrorstruck, to announce that strange intelligence: “Moscow is deserted!”
Then, the same night, Napoleon was, not awakened, for Napoleon did not sleep, but surprised by the cry: “Fire! to the fire!”
Upon this cry, he went to one of windows of the Kremlin overlooking the city: the palace of commerce was in flames!
He at first attributed the fire to imprudence; he accused Mortier of not rightly forming the police of the army; he acccused a drunken soldier of having set the building on fire; he ordered that soldier to be found out, punished, shot! But they said that it was not thus the thing had taken place: but between midnight and one o'clock, a globe of fire had fallen through the air on the palace, and from that had come not only the fire, but the incendiary signal.
In truth it was a signal; for, almost at the same time that fire had appeared, there uprose flame from three other points of the city.
Napoleon still doubted; but reports succeeded; fire had broke out at. the Exchange, and the men had been seen spreading it with tar-covered lances! In twenty, thirty, aye, a hundred different houses, shells hidden at the bottom of stoves exploded when those stoves had been lit, wounding or killing the French soldiers and firing the houses. Better or worse still: troops of men overran the streets with torches in hand: they spread the conflagration with an eager intoxication, perhaps the intoxication of patriotism: the sight of the French only the more strengthened them: threats only excited them to pursue the work of destruction, they could not tear the torches from their hands, and by saber strokes were made perforce to cut off their hands and torches.
Napoleon listened to all these recitals with deep astonishment: he would not believe, he rejected all evidence, and kept murmuring:
“Oh, the miscreants! the barbarians! the Scythians!”
Day came, less brilllant than night; night was illumined by flames, the day was obscured by smoke.
They could not turn Napoleon from the sight; he went from window to window crying:
“Put out that fire! extinguish it!''
And for the second time his voice, so powerful on men, was powerless on the elements.
He had uttered a similar cry at Vienna, the day of the Battle of Essling, when the Danube had risen and carried away his bridges; but after all he had vanquished the Danube.
Might he not subdue fire as he had overcome water?
No! as fed by an invisible power, the fire extended its immense circle, which ever came nearer. Napoleon was literally surrounded by a sea of flames: every house was a tossing wave of fire, and the terrible sea gained incessantly and began to break against the walls of the Kremlin
The day passed thus. They pressed around the Emperor, they adjured him to quit the Kremlin: but he, as if fearing they would tear him away by force, clung to the window bars. Night came on, and the fire was so near that the flame floated upon his countenance with a flery reflection like to that radiant visage of that other Jupiter assailed by theTitans.
All those who believed they had influence upon him ran to him; his intimate confidant, the Prince of Neuchatel, then his brother-in-law, Murat, then his son-in-law, Prince Eugene: they prayed, they supplicated him; he seemed deaf, insensible, mute! All his faculties were concentrated in the one sense, sight! With folded arms, bared head, his visage gilded by the light, he looked.
All at once a murmur passed from mouth to mouth, each transmitting it more rapidly to his neighbor, and he giving it to the next till it reached the Emperor:
“The fire has caught the Kremlin!”
It was not yet sufficient.
“Let it be extinguished,” said the Emperor.
They obeyed: the fire was got under.
Ten minutes after, the same murmur was renewed more menacingly.
“Extinguish! extinguish!” repeated Napoleon.
But, a third time, the place was afire; it had broken out in the tower of the arsenal. This time they caught the incendiary: he was a soldier of the police.
They brought him before Napoleon, who interrogated him.
The man obeyed a received order. From whom had be received that order? From his chief; and his chief from whom? From his.
So the order came from above; so it was not the individual fanaticism of some miscreant who burnt down the capital of Russia: it was a superior order which was executed, a prearranged plan accomplished.
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders, and with a gesture of disgust bade them take the incendiary from his sight. They took the latter into a court and killed him with bayonet thrusts: he died laughing, and pronouncing in Russlan threatening words.
These words were heard by a Pole; he ascended the palace steps with a frightened air, and reached almost to the chamber where Napoleon would obstinately remain.
“The Kremlin is mined!” said he; “the Russians had the idea of blowing up the Emperor and all his staff.”
“Sire,” said Eugene, “against men, one fights like Caesar and Alexander; against the gods. one struggles as did Diomedes and Achilles; but one may not contest fire!”
“Let us go,” said Napoleon, deciding, “which is the North Staircase?”
The doors opened rapidly; the guides darted forward to indicate the way, eager themselves to escape the danger, and they descended the famous North Staircase, immortalized by the massacre of the Strelitz.
“Where would the Emperor have his headquarters transported?” inquired Berthler.
“Upon the road to St. Petersburg,” answered Napoleon, “in the Imperial castle of Petrowsky.”
Thus, notwithstanding the conflagration, the flames, the menacing mine; in spite of the volcano yawning beneath his feet, he would not retreat he would not recede to the side of France; on the contrary, ho would be aleague the more upon the way to St. Petersburg.
But could they reach Petrowsky? They had waited too long! to that moment they had been occupied by the conflagration; now, they were deterred by fire which blocked up the way.
Thanks to a species of passage cut in the rock, they gained a sort of postern and at last got out of the Kremlin.
But once out of it, they were no more only near flames: they found themselves in the center of an immense brasier; the streets had disappeared, overwhelmed by whirlwinds of smoke; the air, loaded with cinders, ceased to be respirable and burnt the throat.
They threw themselves at haphazard into what most resembled a street. Luckily it was one, indeed, but narrow, tortuous, flaming on either side.
The Emperor advanced on foot, in the midst of twenty men; before him, beating the air with their hats to render it so that it might be breathed, marched Murat and Eugene; Berthier followed him, remaing behind as always; passing where the Emperor passed, going neither before or by his side; perceiving his impulsion, but never taking the initiative.
They went on in this manner between two walls of fire, under a vault of fire, upon an earth of fire! Enflamed beams fell to the right and left; melted iron and lead tell rolling from the roofs as does rain in a stormy day. Flames, bending under the wind, licked, with the points of their devouring tongues, the plumes of the officers; then, suddenly rising, they darted up to heaven like so many ardent streamers.
They must break out, find an issue or stifle !
Five minutes longer, no one could leave that vent-hole of hell!
They had for an instant the idea of retracing their steps; but many houses had fallen behind them and they saw a flaming barrier bar all retreat.
“Forward, then! forward!” said Murat.
“Forward!” repeated Eugene.
“Forward,” said Napoleon himself.
But those who formed the vanguard, covering their heads with their hands, replied in a smothered voice:
“Impossible, we cannot see any more! the fire is all over.”
At this moment, they heard, from the midst of the smoke, a voice which cried:
“This way, sire! this way!”
A young man of thirty years of age, his face slashed by a saber-cut, still pale from his recent wound, appeared to the left of the Emperor, springing from a whirling cloud of smoke.
“Guide us.'' said Napoleon.
“Through here, sire!” said the young man.
And, replunging through the smoke, he repeated:
“ This way, this way! I'll answer for all.”
Napoleon placed his handkerchief to his mouth; the air bad become insupportable, suffocating, deathgiving.
“This way, sire!” the voice kept saying.
At the end of a few steps the flame indeed was less ardent, the smoke less thick; they had come into a quarter burned down in the morning.
A general officer, borne upon a litter, was by the devouring enclosure from whence they had come as by a miracle; it was Marshal Davoust, wounded at La Moscowa, who had made them carry him to the Kremlin to beg Napoleon to leave that fatal palace.
On perceiving the Emperor, he half rose, extending his arms to him; the Emperor received them gratefully but calmly, as if he were doing an ordinary thing.
At this moment they saw appear, fifty paces distant, a convoy of powder coming through the flames.
“Let the Emperor pass!” cried the young officer.
“Let the powder pass, Monsieur,” said the Emperor. “Powder, in case of fire,” added he, essaying a smile, “is alwaysc what is most urgent to save.”
A caisson blew up.
Those who were near the Emperor pressed around him.
A second caisson, then a third, and a fourth blew up like the first one; the fragments fell like a fiery rain.
There were fifty: they waited until they had passed then they took up their march. On reaching the door of Petrowsky, the Emperor inquired:
“Is not that person who marches before us, Lieutenant Richard, whom you sent to me at Donauwerth, and who came so opportunely to allow us our way through the flames?”
“Yes, sire,” said Davoust; “only he has become captain.”
“He must not stop there, Davoust, and while awaiting for you to make him chief of battalion, give him your cross of officer of the Legion of Honor.”
The Marshal called the young officer and, detaching his gold cross, said:
“Captain Richard, from the Emperor.”
Captain Richard bowed and Napoleon in passing, made with his hand a sign which meant: “I have recognized you and shall not forget you.”
The young man retired, ready to die for the Emperor, without a regret, without a complaint.
The next day, Napoleon, on awakening, ran to the window opening on the side of Moscow; he hoped to find the conflagration extinguished or at least calmed; the whole city was a sheet of fire, a cloud of smoke! That Moscow which he had come to seek from afar, which had seemed to fly and be more distant the further he went, like the mirages in the desert: that Moscow; when at last he had laid his hand upon it was but a heap of ashes! It was no more only the armies of the Czar which could not be grasped, it was the cities themselves.
What was to be done by the man of 1805, 1806, 1809; the man of rapid resolutions, the man who had left the camp of Boulogne to go to gain the Battle of Austerlitz, the man who had quitted the Tuileries announcing beforehand the day he would enter Berlin, the man who had left Spain, traversed France and marched to Vienna?
He would march upon St. Petersburg; he said so at least.
On the table was unrolled the map, which indicated the road to the second capital of the Muscovite Empire; but on a neighboring table is unfolded the map which displays the way to Paris.
He waited eight days before taking a resolution; it took eight days for his letter to reach the Emperor Alexander at St. Petersburg and provoke a reply. It was to the 19th September: there was time to take a course.
At the end of the three first days, the city was consumed, it is true, but the fire had burned itself out; the Kremlin saved, was rendered habitable.
The Emperor returned to the Kremlin: it seemed to him, on entering, that he took Moscow a second time.
From thence he could see the terrible spectacle of a famished army, devouring the remains of a city.
During the three days which it had taken for Moscow to be consumed and destroyed. Murat had lost the trace of General Kutusoff, whom he was not long without news of him.
Kutusoff, after having fled to the east, had turned suddenly toward the south, and stationed himself between Moscow and Kalfuga.
Napoleon ordered Murat to pursue him. Murat obeyed, and met his adversary on the 29th of September, afterward on the 11th of October.
The rumor of two battles made Napoleon start in the midst of his hopes. That which happened to him was as unexpected as that which bytimes occurs in one of those fine summer days when one all at once hears the thunder rumble, without seeing in the sky the clouds from whence it came.
Save in his last Austrian campaign, the Emperor had always seen, with the capital taken, the war terminated; why was it not so in this as in other campaigns? why was it not the case in Moscow as in other capitals?
But, in this case, there was one thing, or rather three things exciting fear which Napoleon had never before encountered: three silences; the silence of Moscow, the silence of that desert surrounding Moscow, finally, the silence of Alexander, who seemed nowise disturbed by the conflagration of Moscow. Napoleon counted the days; there were eleven days, eleven centuries of this silence's duration!
Obstinacy carried the day; Napoleon passed the winter in Moscow.
He appointed an intendant to the capital of the Russian Empire; he organized municipalities; orders were given for the provisioning of the army; they made of the city a great entrenched camp; bread and salt, those two great repairers of human strength, were not wanting: the horses they could not feed were slain and dried; if lodgings were wanting, they established themselves in caves; the first actors of Paris came to play at Moscow as they had played at Dresden. For five months they remained thus; five months are soon passed. In the spring, reinforcements arrived; the whole of Lithuania hastened to arms and joined the French.
Aye, but what would Paris say, that Paris which for five months, had had no tidings of its Emperor and an army of a hundred and fifty thousand men? what would be done by the Prussians and Austrians, those uncertain allies, who might at any moment, become enemies?
The third of October saw a new resolution taken; they burned down what remained of Moscow, they marched by way of Twer upon St. Petersburg; Macdonald there rejoined the greater part of the army; Murat and Davoust commanded the rear guard.
This new plan was read to the generals by Eugene; the generals, marshals, princes, kings, stared with wonder; they asked if their Emperor was insane.
No; only fortune had failed him. At other times, when he had been obliged to make a step backward, he had felt near him, and leant upon her; this day she was no more there, and his arms had found nought but a void.
Indeed, it was not this he must have, it was peace.
The Emperor would have sent Caulaincourt, who had been for two years ambassador near Alexander, was he not the one to obtain good conditions? and whom the Czar had constantly treated as a friend. But Caulaincourt refused; he knew Alexander. Napoleon would have no word of answer other than that he must completely evacuate the territory.
They called Lauriston. He accepted, setting off for Kutusoff's camp, to demand of the old General a pass to St. Petersburg; but Kutusoff's orders did not extend so far: he proposed to despatch Count Volkonsky to St. Petersburg, never doubting but that the latter would return as he had departed. He was right; neither Volkonsky, nor Lauriston, nor Caulaincourt would have brought back a reply; the winter was charged to do that!
Toward the 14th of October, it arrived; they saw the first snows.
The Emperor at length understood the warning; he gave the order to despoil all the churches of the ornaments that they might serve as trophies for the French armies. The Invalides received a good share; they had for their dome the golden cross of the great Ivan, which had been on top of the principal dome of the Kremlin.
On the 10th, without there being a question of retreat, the fatal word which marked the tottering of the imperial fortune was not even pronounced; on the 16th, they achemine (sent forward) upon Mojaisk the Claparede division, the trophies of the campaign and all the wounded or sick in a transportable state.
The sick and wounded who could not sustain the fatigue of the journey were left behind at the Foundling Hospital. There were also in that house of pain as many Russians as French; the surgeons who cared for one and the other with an equal care and a philanthropy which knew no difference between the nations, and for whom men are men, the surgeons remained with them.
All of a sudden the cannon, which moreover had not ceased to thunder at one point or another, rumbled nearer to Moscow.
The Emperor, who passed Ney's divisions in review in the court-yard of the Kremlin, heard the sound, but pretended to have heard nothing; and that evening, as no one else dared to announce the terrible news, Duroc hazarded it; he entered where was the Emperor, and told him that Kutusoff had attacked Ney at Voronova, turned the left of the King of Naples, cut off his retreat, taking twelve cannons, twenty caissons, thirty forges, had killed two generals and disabled four thousand men; the King of Naples had been wounded while performing miracles to restore the battle, which, thanks to Poniatowski, Claparede, and Latour Maubourgh, had been but half lost.
This was what Napoleon awaited; there had been wanting a pretext to quit Moscow, this pretext he found in the news.
He must chastise Kutusoff.
During the night of the 18th, the army having been in movement upon Voronova, and the next day, the 19th, the Emperor quitted himself the holy city, extending his hand toward Kaluga, and saying:
“Woe to those whom I meet in my path!”
They had remained thirty-five days at Moscow; they came from it with one hundred and forty thousand men, fifty thousand horses, five hundred guns, two thousand artillery wagons, four thousand caissons, calashes, coaches and carts of all kinds.
Four days after, in the night from the 22nd to the 23rd October, toward one o'clock of the morning, albeit the army was three stages from Moscow, the air was pressed by a violent explosion, and the ground shook as in an earthquake.
Those who watched about the Emperor, sprang up, all affrighted, asking what was the catastrophe which could cause a like concussion.
Duroc entered the chamber of the Emperor who had thrown himself fully dressed on his bed. The Emperor was not asleep, and at the sound the Marshal made on entering, he turned his head.
“Did you hear that. sire?” inquired Duroc.
“Yes,” rejoined Napoleon.
“It is nothing; only the Kremlin being blown up.”
And he turned his head to the wall.
Duroc went out.
IT was on the 19th of November, one month after the leaving of Moscow.
A French column, four or five thousand strong, dragging with it a dozen cannons, was extended like a long black line, a day's journey this side of Smolensko, between Korytnia and Krasnot.
Three hundred horsemen rode upon the flanks of this column.
These horsemen, rallied at Smolensko, belonged to all arms; by a great effort only had they been united and put on the road. What had becomeof their regiments or even the corps they had formed part of, not one knew; what would become of them? what would become, in the ensuing spring, of the snow over which they marched?
At the instant we cast our eyes upon these unfortunate fragments of one of the finest corps of the army, Napoleon, who preceded it by three days' march, was about entering Orcha with six thousand men of the Old Guard, the remaining of thirty-five thousand: Eugene, with eighteen hundred men, alt that were left of forty-two thousand; Davoust, with four thousand soldiers the remaining of seventy thousand! It was this that Napoleon, marching himself baton in hand to show the example of courage and patience, obstinately called the Grand Army.
Oh, falls of Hannibal! to-morrows of Attila.
On the 14th of November, when leaving Smolensko, the Emperor had resolved that Prince Eugene and Marshals Ney and Davoust should follow him successively: Eugene the first, Davoust next, and Ney the third. He had, beside, ordered them to put the interval of a day between each departure. Consequently he having set out on the 14th, Eugene started on the 15th; Davoust on the 16th; Ney, the 17th.
The latter had been enjoined to shatter the carriages of all pieces of artillery which he abandoned, to destroy all munitions, to push before him all the stragglers of the army, and to blow up in four places the ramparts of the city.
Ney had religiously executed these orders; then, the last one he had advanced along that road, already wasted by the three armies which preceded his own.
It is true they were not armies. Napoleon's six thousand guards, Eugene's eighteen hundred soldiers, Davoust's four thousand combatants; but they were worse: they were men famished by one-and-thirty days of retreat across the snow and desert, who kept no more discipline than each believed necessary for his personal preservation.
Those whom we have above mentioned, were therefore the remainder of the four divisions commanded by Ney at the commencement of the campaign, and were advancing, as before said, between Korytnia and Krasnoi reduced to four or five thousand bayonets and two or three hundred horsemen.
All of a sudden the few scouts who marched in advance stopped and looked down; Ney ran to them, and recognized that which riveted their attention to be the recent traces of a battle-field; the snow was covered with blood, strewn with shivered weapons, and mutilated corpses; the dead, in long files, marked the ranks which, living, they had filled.
Suddenly one of the horsemen, who, under a bearskin, hid the tatters of the uniform of an officer of the chasseurs of the guard, leaped to the ground.
“Oh!” muttered he, “It is Prince Eugene's body which fought here. See, upon the plates of the riddled shakos the number of his regiments.”
And he followed, with anxiety, the long rows of dead soldiers, which were lying like sown seed at the bottom of the furrows; but his search was futile: the dead were by thousands! Night was coming on, moreover, and he must resume his way.
Without doubt the combat had been over since morning, for not one wounded person made answer to the shouts which the new-comers sent loudly over the battle-field to open those eyes which perchance had been just then closed.
Night had passed upon the scene of action, and, in the thirty degrees below zero of the atmosphere, night without fere was surely death. Therefore all was silent on that surface of one or two leagues, all covered with corpses.
At least the funeral track indicated the road to follow. They pursued it for two hours, when they stopped.
There they must pass the night, bivouac, make fires.
It was, each night, a terrible thing to halt; then, every one wandered at hazard, seeking some cabin to demolish, something to maraud. Many went off, and one was always astonished at the few who returned; the cold killed some, the Cossack lances slew others, some were led away prisoners.
This evening long journeys were not made; a foreat of fir trees furnished wood, the slain horses served as food, and, as they had only left Smolensko the previous evening, they still had bread.
The officer whom we saw leap from his horse and search among the dead, was one of the first to return to the battle-field; but, since they had passed, a troop of wolves had come in the night, and they must be driven away.
Fortunately, the carnivora preferred human to animal's flesh: the horses were on that account untouched, and furnished a plentiful repast for the troop we have followed.
Fires were kindled, sentinels stationed, and, aside from the yells and howls of wolves, the night was tranquil enough.
At daybreak of the morrow, the marshal gave the signal of departure; a spirit of fire in a body of steel, he was ever the last to lie down and the first afoot.
As usual, some hundreds of men remained lying around the fire, half extinguished, and smoking; they had become, during their slumbers, so stupefied and so near to death, that they looked as if it were shorter and less painful to put them out of existence at once.
They resumed the march; it had snowed during the night, it snowed still; they went on by a compass, turning their backs to the north, over an ocean of ice. Heading the column were Ney, General Richard, and two or three other generals, preceded themselves by men not forming an advance guard, but disbanded, who were more eager to arrive than the others.
Unexpectedly, a singular movement attracted Ney's attention; those men who preceded them reined in suddenly, and forming fearful groups as the more advanced began to fall back upon those who followed them. Ney put his horse to the gallop, asked what was the matter, and, through a clearing of the snow which, for a moment, had fallen less thick, was pointed out the surrounding mountains all black with Russians.
They had thrown themselves right upon the flank of Kutusoff's army—the ninety thousand men who pursued Napoleon! They had not seen them on account of the snow, because they marched with lowered head; but the Russians, from the heights they were placed upon, had for an hour followed with their eyes the little column which so imprudently had delivered themselves into their hands.
In truth, the immense half-circle which the Russlan army formed had but to join the two extremities, and Ney's five or six thousand men would be caught in a vast ampitheatre.
Ney ordered the weapons to be got ready.
At this moment they saw an officer wrapped in a cloak come from the enemy directly toward the French. He was one sent to parley
They awaited him.
When within thirty paces of the first ranks he raised and waved his hat; not only was he the bearer of a flag of truce, but also a Frenchman.
On the instant when there ran along the line this short word:
“A Frenchman! a Frenchman!”
The chasseur officer whom we saw turning the dead bodies ot that last battle-field had crossed. and who recognized those bodies as belonging to Prince Eugene's army, pushed his steed forward, dismounted, and threw himself into the arms of the new comer.
The two officers exchanged some words.
Then these two men who, each on his side, had sought the other among the killed, thanked God in a fraternal embrace for again meeting alive.
During this time many had ran to them and surrounded them.
The young officer descended from the dizzy heights and thereupon explained his mission; he was Prince Eugene's orderly officer; he had been captured in that same battle which had left its dead stricken down in their ranks, and whose field tlicy had the evening before traversed; the old Russian field-marshal had recognized Ney and sent him to propose surrender.
“And you, a Frenchman, took this mission upon yourself?” said Ney to the young man.
“Hold, Monsieur le Marechal and allow me to finish,” responded the latter. “I will first of all repeat to you the field-marshal's words, and will then add mine. He would not dare, he said to me, to make such a proposal to so great a general, to so renowned a warrior, if there remained to that foeman whom he honors one chance of safety; but eighty thousand Russians and one hundred guns are before and around him, and he has sent a French prisoner, thinking that the latter's word would doubtless be found more worthy of credence than the word of a Russian officer.”
“That is well,” returned Ney, “you have spoken for the Russians; speak for yourself now.”
“If I speak for myself, M. le Marechal, I will say that, yesterday morning, the same proposition was made to Prince Eugene, and Prince Eugene responded by charging with the bayonet eighty thousand men with six thousand.”
“Well and good!” said Ney, “you commence to speak French, Monsieur.”
“If we had to do with Milaradovitch, I would say to you: 'We are lost, let us die together!' We have Kutusoff though: we shall lose a quarter, a third, half of our men, but we will escape.”
“Well,” resumed Ney, “return to Kutusoff, and tell him what you should have said at first, to wit, that a Marshal of France may be slain, but he'll never surrender.”
“Oh, I did tell him that,” simply responded the young officer.
Then, turning to his brother, he said:
“Now, Paul, any weapon whatever! that I may, in the fray, get rid ot my guard and join you.”
The chasseur officer drew from behind his bear-skin a long Toula dagger with a Persian blade and the hilt damascened with gold, and, giving it to his brother, said:
“Mind, I shall expect you.”
The young orderly officer saluted the Marshal, and went back to the Russians.
Then Ney took advantage of this moment of respite to unite all his men.
On one side, eighty thousand Russians, with full, deep ranks of well-fed men, in double lines; a superb cavalry, a formidable artillery, having, moreover, which doubled all before, superiority of position; on the other, five thousand soldiers pertaining to all classes, a column lost in the desert, of mutilated men, dying of cold and hunger.
No matter! they were five thousand men who are to attack eighty thousand! Ney gives the signal.
Fifteen hundred men, the wreck of the Richard division, were at the head: General Richard and his fifteen hundred men were the first opening; Ney and the rest of the army threw themselves onward after them.
At the first step Richard made toward the Russians, all those hills, an instant before cold and mute, thundered and threw out flames like so many volcanoes. Richard and his fifteen hundred clambered tbrough this fire, up the hill fronting them; they came upon a ravine in which they were buried up to the neck, they crossed it and struck against the Russian line which drove them back into the ravine.
But then Ney was already in their midst; he rallied them, reformed them, and advanced at their head, ordering four hundred Illyrians, among whom was the chasseur officer, to take the enemy in flank.
That appears insane, does it not? four hundred men taking eighty thousand men in flank! one man attacking two hundred and fifty men!
It was thus they did, nevertheless, in those days of heroic warfare.
With this three hundred men, Ney mounted to the assault of that living citadel, and, with his four hundred Illyrians, Captain Paul Richard attacked the army in flank.
Ney did not harangue his soldiers; he said not one word; he put himself at the head and marched; all followed him.
The first line was attacked with the bayonet and overcome.
The second was two hundred paces further on.
“Forward!” cried Ney.
But at the moment they had attained the second line, thirty pieces of cannon in battery thundered on the two flanks; the column, divided into three pieces like a serpent, writhed and fell back, bearing with it its Marshal.
They had attempted impossibility!
“Back! at the ordinary pace!” cried the Marshal.
“Do you hear, soldiers?” cried General Richard; “the Marshal says at the ordinary pace!”
And the men receded at the common step, crossing the ravine, at the same step and came again, continually marching at the slow pace, on the same spot from whence they had started; only they had began the attack with five thousand men and had returned with two thousand men.
But, to make amends, from the side of the mountain came down the four hundred Illyrians, more numerous than when they had gone up; they had encountered a Russian column of five hundred men conducting three hundred prisoners, French, Polish, German; they had rushed upon that column with the fury of despair, and, after an instant's contest, the column had fallen back, the prisoners had been delivered, and the two brothers, Paul and Louis Richard, were again clasped in each other's arms.
It was then they saw Ney and his two thousand men retrograding and reforming under Kutusoff's fire. The movement falling upon the center, Captain Paul Richard had given the order to join the Marshal's corps.
What had they to do? Form into square and die!
But the prisoners arrived; they knew Kutusoff; he who had let Napoleon and Eugene pass, would let Ney pass also; the latter had only to make a detour. Kutusoff scarcely ever pursued, he trusted in the winter of his country: winter, according to him, was an enemy more rapid and more sure than the bullet. “Winter,” said he, “is my general-in-chief; I am but the lieutenant of winter.”
At this moment, as if to aid the retreat, the snow recommenced to fall.
Ney reflected an instant, and gave the order to retrograde toward Smolonsko.
Every one stood mute with surprise; were they to return to the north, to the cold? were they to turn their backs to Napoleon?
“Toward Smolensko, at the odinary pace,” repeated Ney.
They comprehended that some plan lay below it all, probably the safety of the column. They took their places in the ranks and marched under the grapeshot of fifty pieces of artillery, but under the shot alone.
Truth to say, the prediction of the prisoners was accomplished: Kutusoff, the Scandinavian Fabius, remained upon the hills. Not one of them durst stir from his place without, the orders of the General-in.Chief. A single Russian corps rolled down the heights to the plain, and came in collision with the two thousand men—all was finished!
But the artillery thundered and the mitraille rained down upon that wreck of the army, almost as thick as the snow, which forced the gunners to aim at random. The slain fell and lay extended with the rigidity of corpses; the wounded fell also, rose, marched, fell again, tried to get up, fell again, moved; then little by little the snow did for them what it had done for the dead; it covered them with the Immense winding-sheet with which the Russian winter strove to enshroud the pride of France.
From place to place the way was dotted with little eminences, red at first, which whitened by degrees; these eminences were the corpses of the army.
In the midst of this march, blinded by the snow, they came upon a black, thick mass: it was a new Russian column.
“Stop! who are you?” cried the general who commanded this column.
“Fire!” said the Marshal.
“Silence!” said a Pole, who had been one of the delivered prisoners.
Then advancing-, he said, In Russian:
“Do you not recognize us? We are Owvarof's corps, and are turning the French, who are taken in the ravine.”
The Russian general was satisfied with this reply, and let pass, the obscurity caused by the snow being as great as the disorder done by the bullets, the French column, which made a halt but two leagues from Prince Eugene's battlefield.
It was not of Russian gunshot and beyond the Field Marshal's sight.
OF the number of the wounded remaining behind was Captain Paul Rihbard; a shot had broken his thigh, and, at the same time, killed his horse. In the midst of the disorder he had fallen without his fall being remarked by his brother; but, the same as, from minute to minute, Paul's looks were for his brother, so, from minute to minute Louis kept his eyes on the search for Paul. Louis soon perceived that his brother was nowhere nigh him; he questioned of him; a German had seebn him fall with his steed.
Louis was afoot; he took his course backward, calling Paul with all his power.
A voice answered him.
Through the flakes of falling snow, he darted in the direction of the voice; an eminence commenced to form, covering a rider and his horse. Paul had fallen, his leg entangled under his steed; unable to disengage himself with his other leg, which was broken, he was tranquilly awaiting death, when his brother's voice had reached his ear.
Louis, with superhuman strength, raised the horse which was dead, and disengaged his brother's leg; then he drew his brother to him, took him in his arms as he might a child, and endeavored to carry him.
But Paul having made him comprehend the impossibility of following the column in this way, he rested him seated against the horse's dead body and retook his course toward his comrades.
Paul drew big pistols from the holsters of his horse, and got ready to blow out the brains of the two first Cossacks who should approach him.
Louis rejoined the column, upon which the Russian artillery were still firing grapeshot; he mingled in, walking, with the horsemen. There remained about one hundred and fifty of the latter. The first who was slain, and who dropped his reins, let them fall into the bands of Louis, who had waited for that moment; the latter helped the body to the ground by taking the feet from the stirrups, leaped into the empty saddle, turned the animal's head in the direction of the Russian army, and a second time retraced his steps.
He stopped from time to time and shouted with all his might: he had reckoned upon an enormous fir-tree to serve him as direction: but the snowflakes formed before his eyes so thick a screen, that at ten paces distant it was impossible to distinguish anything. He continued to call: for the second time, a voice replied to his own; he directed his way toward the sound.
The artillery was still firing; but the cold and misery was so great that they paid no more attention to the balls. Lucky they who were slain outright! What they feared was the snow, the cold, the wolves coming to eat the wounded half dead.
With cries and cries, the brothers again found each other.
Louis took Paul once more in his arms and lifted him upon the horse; either from self-command, or that he did not feel his broken leg, the captain uttered no complaint.
Louis seized the horse by the bridle: Paul clung to the pommel of the saddle, and they set off after the French column.
For half a league or so, as in that fairy tale where the pebbles showed their road to the poor children, the dead bodies or rather heaps of snow and tracks of blood indicated the road of the column.
When past the half-league, there was no more blood; it was now the wounded who could not continue their road, and who thus left their own selves as guides; then the blood, covered over with snow, disappeared in its turn.
They were out of reach of the Russian bullets; they marched at hazard.
In two hours' time, the horse, who had not eaten since leaving Smolensko, commenced to stumble at every step, and, at last, fell; by blows, Louis forced it twice or thrice to rise.
Then Paul supplicated his brother to abandon him; safe and sound as was the latter, enveloped in a good mantle, he could, adding to his clothing the bearskin which covered his brother, rejoin the column and be saved with it, that is if that column was to be saved; but Louis shrugged his shoulders.
“Brother,” said he, “you see well enough that the marshal is counterfeiting a march; he wishes to deceive Kutusoff, then he will retrace his steps, gain the Dnieper, and join the French army at Liady or at Orcha.”
In his turn, Paul shook his head
“And when do you believe the column will come back?”
“To-night, or to-morrow morning, at the latest,” boldly returned Louis.
“Then let us make a bargain.”
“What is it?”
“Do you engage yourself on honor to keep it ?” “Speak.”
“I will accept your aid till to-morrow; if the column does not come by that day you shall leave me?”
“We shall see.”
“To-morrow you will abandon me?”
“Well, yes,” responded Louis, to break his brother's persistence, “it is agreed.”
“Here it is.”
“Do what you will with me until to-morrow morning.”
Louis cast his eyes around him; an army, probably Prince Eugene's, had bivouacked there: a cabin, one alone, was still standing in this solitude; no doubt it had been the shelter of the viceroy. Louis took his brother in his arms, and bore him to the deepest corner of the hut; then he went out for some wood.
Some thin firs, white like phantoms, rose from place to place; many fragments had been knocked off by the balls, Louis took a large bough, which he carried into the cabin; then he heaped together some little straw which be found in a corner.
Paul saw his brother's intention, and to kindle the fire offered one of his pistols; but Louis told him to keep it: it was an invaluable defence against wolves, who, perchance, would visit them that night, and against the Cossacks, who would surely visit them the next day.
He went next to the horse which had fallen, and ferreted in the holsters. He found, not only a pair of pistols, but also (in a pouch) powder and balls.
He returned enchanted with his success.
The wounded man followed him with his eyes with deep tenderness. To encourage his brother, Louis appeared without disquietude, almost joyful, He shook the snow from the resinous branches, made a heap of these boughs in the middle of the hut, another pile in a corner, placed under the heap all the straw he could find, took from his pocket a scrap of paper, wrapped up in it a charge of powder, unloaded with the ramrod screw one of his pistols, leaving in it half a charge without wadding, aimed the pistol at the paper, and pulled the trigger, when there issued from the muzzle a flame without any sound. This flame set fire to the powder enclosed in the paper, which was thus lit.
Then Louis blew quickly; paper and straw caught fire first, then, with a little resistance, the fir splinters burst into flames also.
Five minutes thereafter the whole pile was burning; there wag nothing more to be done than keep feeding it.
“And now,” said Paul. “what is there to eat?”
“Wait,” rejoined Louis.
And be went back to the horse, to cut out a steak with that Toula dagger which he had given his brother and which had so well served the latter to disembarrass himself of the Russians; but the poor beast was not dead yet, and as if he had been forewarned of what was going to happen, he made an effort, rose, and crawling along toward the fireside, entered the cabin and began to crunch the green ends of the branches. “Ah, glutton,” said Louis.
But he had not the heart to kill him; beside, Paul opposed it: if they could give the poor animal a litte vigor, they could use him the following day.
Louis went out again on the discovery, leaving to his brother a flask in which was still left a few drops of brandy. He found a birch tree whose twigs were less bitter than those of the fir: he cut down the entire tree and dragged it to the hut. The most tender sprouts were pulled for the horse's provender: the boughs and the trunk were laid aside to feed the fire.
Night drew on apace.
“With all this,” inquired Paul, “what will we eat?”
“Rest easy,” said Louis. “I have a plan.”
Suddenly, from four or five sides at once they heard howls.
“There,” said Louis, “there's our supper coming to us.”
In an instant more, they saw black forms crossing over the snow; by times one of these shadows would turn, look at the fire and then, as if the flame was reflected in its eyes, there shone from them two lights.
“I understand,”said Paul: “the first which comes near the cabin you will shoot?”
“Just so, brother.”
“Take my two pistols; they are from the manufactory of Versailles: they are worth more than yours.”
“Not so! The Cossacks are perhaps roving near here: they will hear the report and will run here.”
“What will you do then?”
Louis enveloped his left arm with the horse's chabrack, the animal having, after having eaten the birch twigs, lain down in a corner of the hut; then he took his dagger in his right hand, binding it to his wrist with his handkerchief, and, going out, stationed himself behind the trunk of a tree, ten paces from the cabin.
He had not been there more than five minutes ere an enormous wolf had scented him and posted itself within five paces of him, looking at him with flaming eyes and gnashing his teeth,
Louis marched straight upon the wolf, the latter receded, but slowly without fleeing, his eyes continually fixed upon the young officer and himself in readiness to spring upon him if he made a misstep.
All at once it seemed to Loula that the earth gave way beneath him, and that he fell into the abyss of snow.
Indeed, he had been entangled in a ravine; the snow which had not yielded under the wolf's light feet, bent under his own.
At the same time it seemed to him that something sharp was buried in his shoulder. Instinctively he raised his hand armed with the poniard, and immediately felt the wolf's fangs leave their hold, and a warm liquid poured down upon his face; he had plunged the dagger to its hilt in the animal's breast. The struggle was only one of dying agony.
The wolf sought to escape; but at six paces distant he lay bleeding on the snow; as for Louis, while struggling, he had entered up to his knees in water.
He must regain the plain by climbing up the bank; thanks to his dagger, of which he made a hold by sticking it in the frozen earth, he accomplished it. He hastened to the wolf; who at his approach tried vainly to fly: then he took him by the hind paws and dragged him to the hut.
“Well?” asked Paul.
“Well,” said Louis, “here is, without counting the fur, a roast such as no king, no prince, no marshal of .France could have this night for supper.”
“But look at the blood you are covered with. ”
“That's nothing; it came from the wolf.”
There was a little of his blood mingled with the wolf's, but Louis would not speak of that.
He disembowelled and skinned the animal, from which he cut a steak. Fortunately, since the retreat of the French army, the wolves were very fat.
At length, Louis took from the fire a layer of live coals, broiled the bleeding flesh, and turning to his brother, said:
“Well, what say you to my roast?”
“I say,” murmured the wounded man, “that I should like a glass of water better.”
“Your wish shall be satisfied, brother.”
And detaching one of the holsters from the horse's saddle, putting in that holster seven or eight leaden balls and suspending it by his untwisted shoulder knots, Paul saw him go out. He went to the ravine, lowered the holster down into the stream, whose ice-covered surface he had broken through with his feet, and drew it up full of water.
A number of wolves followed him; if he had made a misstep, all would have been over with him. The broiled flesh, the smoke from which had been diffused about the hut, had attracted these animals from a quarter of a league's distance.
Louis returned safe and untouched, and gave the holster full of water to his brother, who emptied it at a draught, as if it had been an ordinary glass. Louis went once more to the ravine, but holding this time in his left hand a flaming brand. Some of the snarling marauders had approached very near him on his return, snapping their teeth together so savagely that he judged it prudent to take this precaution; the brand kept them at a distance, and like the first time, Louis returned unharmed.
As for being assailed in the cabin, there was no fear of that; as long as the fire burned the wolves would not come near, and Louis had collected enough wood to keep up the fire till the next morning.
The provision of water and fuel being thus assured, Louis extended himself by his brother, pulled out with his dagger's point one of the wolf-steaks which appeared to him roasted enough, and began to devour it with the same gusto as if it had been a bear-steak cooked at the fire of the most snug tavern In London.
Paul viewed him with a melancholy eye
“Won't you eat?” said Louis.
“No; I am only thirsty.”
“Drink!” said Louis presenting the holster to his brother.
The latter took it and drank greedily several swallows.
“Drink it all,” said Louis; “the fountain is not far off.”
“No, I thank you,” responded Paul, “I have to speak with you beside.”
Louis looked at his brother interrogatively
“Yes, brother, and seriously!” added the wounded captain.
“Speak,” said Louis.
“It is possible that you may be deceived, brother, in hoping that the column will retrace its steps.''
“It is possible it may do otherwise,” said Louis
“No matter; admit that it may not return.”
“I hardly believe it,” persisted Louis.
“But I admit it,'' said Paul, “or, rather, look you, not to contradict you, I suppose it.”
“Well?” inquired Louis, regarding his brother uneasily.
“Well, if by daylight to-morrow it has not returned, it is I who will put you in search of it.”
“Hem!” exclaimed Louis, with an air which signified: “That's not so sure.”
“That's settled, brother; beside, we will discuss it to-morrow morning.”
“So be it.”
“In the meantime, as you have some chances the more than I of reaching France, let me make a confesion to you.”
“Yes. Hark you, brother, I have done an evil deed.”
“It is so, nevertheless; and but for that I could die without remorse—”
“Why should you die?” interposed Louis.
“In brief, if I should die, for me to die without remorse, you must promise to repair that wrong action.”
“Say on; and what man can do for another man, I shall do.”
“Brother, there lives in Germany a young girl, daughter of a pastor, of the Pastor of Abensberg—you know that village where the Emperor was shot at?”
“That young girl, whom they call Margaret Stiller, I dishonored!”
“I forewarned you—'twas more than an evil deed, it was a crime! I know not why, (I think often of her, 'tis true), but I thought of that young girl when the shot struck me. 'This is a heavenly punishment!' said I to myself as I fell.”
“I was much tempted in falling, to tell you in two words what I relate fully now; but I reflected that, by calling you, it was to destroy you with myself, and I alone was to die.”
“Ah, yes; I remarked your absence, though.”
“And you came like a devoted brother! I should not thank you, Louis; what you have done for me, I would have done for you; but in your return, I saw a favor from heaven which might enable me to repair my wrong actions. That young girl whom I dishonored, took by force, violated—what would you? I was drunk with powder and fired by anger! that young girl had a lover; he, her betrothed, was that Frederic Staps who tried to kill the Emperor at Schoenbrunn.”
“Alas, yes! it resembles a romance. That Frederic Staps, who saw me in a meeting of Illuminati (I have not time to tell why I was there), asked for me to come into his prison; I went in to him. He entreated me to accompany him tothe place of execution, and made me promise, when he should he dead, to take a medallion which he wore on his breast, and to read a paper which he would hold in his right hand; after having read this paper, I was to pass it to the Colonel presiding at the council of war which sentenced him to death. I promised him all: I went with him to the place of execution: he fell, pierced with five or six balls.”
“And you took the portrait?”
“And I took the portrait, and I read the paper. The portrait was a likeness of Margaret Stiller!”
“Stay—the paper had on it three words and a signature: 'I grant pardon. Napoleon.' ”
“ You understand, he craved no mercy! what should he have done? His beloved had been dishonored by a villain—that villain was I, brother, I!”
“That villain, brother, was I!” repeated Paul. “Now, you understand? if I die, you are my inheritor; we have each nearly two hundred thousand francs ($40,000); you will have no need of my money; I therefore say, brother, I do not know whether you can find this woman, but once you are on the return to France, you will seek her in Germany, will you not?”
“You will seek Margaret Stiller. Her father, I repeat, was pastor at Abensberg in 1809.”
“When you shall have found her, you will tell her what has happened, how heaven has punished me, how, in a deserted cabin, amid the howls of the wolves and the hurrahs of the Cossacks, I related to you that villainous act; how you promised to repair my crime, as well as such a crime may be repaired, by giving her all my fortune. To aid you in her search, here's her portrait.”
And he drew from his breast the picture which he had taken from the body of Staps.
Louis slipped the hair chain over his head, upon his neck, and said:
“Rest easy, brother!”
“Your hand,” said Paul.
“ 'Tis here.”
“Now, try to sleep; you have need of your forces for to-morrow.”
“Would you have me sleep ?”
“Well, try it, however, I am going to do so.”
Louis rose, threw an armful of larch and fir upon the almost extinguished fire; then, taking a brand from the firs, he flung it, whirling, into the midst of the wolves who, attracted by the broiled flesh, but held at a distance by the fire, were arranged in a semi-circle around the hut, whilst others came snuffing at the interstices of the planks.
The wolves, frightened by the flaming brand which rolled among them, took to flight howling.
The fire threw out a great light; “Louis wrapped himself up in his mantle, and laid down by his brother with the intention not to fall asleep; but, at the end of a quarter of an hour, fatigue, the need of repose, so imperious in youth, commenced to confound objects to his eyes and ideas in his mind, things became vague and indistinct, till finally all became dull to his looks as to his brain; he slept.
At daybreak, he was awoke by the pressure of a hand.
Ho opened bis eyes; it was Paul who aroused him from his repose.
“Brother,” said the wounded man, “I am thirsty,”
Louis rubbed his eyes, recalled his thoughts, picked up the bolster which served as a bucket, and made his way to the ravine.
Hardly had he left the hut, than be heard behind him the detonation of a firearm.
He retraced his steps, struck with a sinister presentiment.
Paul, feeling that, with his broken thigh, he was all obstacle to his brother's flight, had blown out his brains!
LOUIS RICHARD was not wrong in his conjectures: Ney, in going toward the north, had but the intention of deceiving the Russians; a stranger to the details which we have related, turning aloof his head that he might not see his men fall, stopping up his ears so as not to hear his wounded men's cries, he marched straight before him, no more caring for the hail of bullets and balls than he did for the snowflakes which had filled up the tracks by which he might have recognized his way.
At the end of three hours' time the marshal stopped; he came upon a village, abandoned like all the villages were; one or two armies, perhaps three, had already passed through it: there remained no doors, no windows; all which could replenish a fire was burnt. He therefore wished not to prolong his halt: before day came he set off once more. The Dneiper ought to run in front of him: but in front of him were the Russians; he had to march straight to the east, then along an angle toward the west, and he would find the stream.
About nine o'clock cannon shots were to be heard. Was it a portion of the army sent in his search by the order of Napoleon, who feared, he was lost?
No; the salvos were too regular; it was the Russians, who were celebrating their victory in their camp.
Without boats or any materials for building bridges, Ney and the two thousand men which remained to him must continue to pursue their way—and eighty thousand men were mounted upon that road! Ney could not escape them.
What those pieces of artillery really announced. was the taking of Ney.
The marshal explained this to his soldiers.
“Now,” said he, “we must deceive them: tomorrow before day, we depart; to-morrow, before night, we will join the army.”
The night was less harsh than one spent on the plain: though doors and windows were broken, it was still some shelter,
At four of the morning the commander of the army aroused the soldiers without the aid of drum or trumpet.
There was an hour's delay in awaking the sleepers and forcing them to get into readiness to start; three or four hundred would remain, whom no prayers, entreaties or threats could determine to rise.
They took up the same road they had used the foregoing evening.
For two hours they marched thus, when suddenly the soldiers who formed the head of the column stopped and appeared to consult.
Ney ran to them.
“What is it?” demanded the marshal, “and what disquiets you?”
The soldiers pointed out to him a red point, a column of smoke which showed black against the grey sky.
Were they not falling upon an advanced post of Cossacks?
A man devoted himself, made a turn and came back, saying that what they perceived was an isolated hut which might serve as a habitation to some moujik; there were no traces of Russians or Cossacks to be found in the neighborhood.
They marched straight to the cabin.
When they were but twenty paces distant, they saw come from it a man holding a pistol in each hand.
“Qui vive?” challenged this man.
“A Frenchman, a Frenchman!” shouted together five hundred voices. The man entered the cabin.
They could understand nothing of this indifference. This Frenchman must have lost his reason; how could he receive his brothers so coldly? They advanced, they entered the cabin and found him on his knees beside a corpse.
“Captain Louis Richard!” murmured several voices.
“He who called his brother.” said the German who had seen Paul fall.
Ney entered in his turn.
Louis recognized him,
“Sir Marshal,” said he, “you seek the Dneiper, do you not?”
“Yes,” rejoined the marshal.
“Well, have my brother buried and I'll lead you straight to the river.”
“As brave soldiers as he,” responded the Marshal, “have been left without burial; little as may be the time we spend in digging a pit, it will be time lost.”
“Sir Marshal, I saw last night, wolves devour corpses, and do not wish my brother to be devoured by wolves. The time we lose, I promise you will be repaid.”
“Find out if there are any pioneers who have their picks and spades.”
They found four or five men who had preserved their implements.
“Whoever will dig my brother's grave shall have a bearskin and my cloak,” said Louis Richard.
Two men went to work and managed to excavate a shallow pit; they deposited Captain Paul Richard's body within it and covered it with earth; then four men discharged their muskets over the grave.
Not a general had the like funeral honors paid him since the leaving of Moscow.
“There!” said Louis Richard, “let us march, now.”
And conducting the marshal to the ravine into which he had rolled and sank to the knees in water during the night, and which was yet red with the wolf's and his own blood, he said, pointing at the water which ran to the eastward:
“This, Monsieur le Marechal, is incontestably a confluent of the Dneiper; by following this rivulet, we will come to the stream.”
The above was so probable that no one made the slightest observation. They followed the ravine; it led to a village, deserted like all others.
They traversed this village, and on clearing it, perceived the stream.
“Now,” said Louis Richard, “it remains to be known if the river is frozen.”
“It should be,” replied Ney.
They silently neared the bank. Was or was not the river frozen? it was a question of life or death for two thousand men.
The surface was firm! Until reaching this spot the river had been in motion; but, suddenly checked by a sharp turn of the banks, the floating ice hail jammed together, since perhaps an hour before. Above and below, one could see the fragments of ice moving with the river.
“There's nothing more wanted,” said the Marshal, “save the assurance of its bearing. A man who will risk his life willingly for the safety of two thousand Frenchmen!”
He had not finished ere one man hazarded himself upon that pliant surface; it was Louis. That terrible grief he had experienced at his brother's death had rendered him reckless, he would have staked his life on a cast of the dice, he therefore regarded as no merit the risking it for such a result.
The entire army followed him with their eyes, breathless and anxious; without taking the trouble of making a roundabout path to avoid the danger, he attained the other bank.
This was all that could be expected of this intrepid young man; cries of gratefulness came to him from the opposite side.
Then, what they had not demanded, they saw him once more walk over the ice-bound stream, and with the same recklessness of life, return to the column,
“The men on foot can cross, M. le Marechal, provided they go cautiously and one by one; perhaps some horses also may reach the other bank, but the rest must be abandoned while we press on; the ice has commenced to disunite.”
Ney looked around; he had scarce a thousand men. This column, composed of the enfeebled, sick and wounded soldiers, followed by women and children, were separated by their search for provisions.
“I will give three hours for the rallying,” said Ney.
“Pass over, however, Marshal; I will stay here and overlook the columns crossing,” said General Richard.
“I shall go over the last.” responded Ney; “only as I have kept awake all night, during these three hours I will sleep. When the time of the pasage comes, let me be aroused.”
And wrapping his cloak around him, he threw himself down upon the snow, and slept as Caesar, Hannibal or Alexander may have done; for he had that robust constitution of great warriors, that perfect health which completes heroes.
At the end of three hours' time he was awakened. All who could be rallied were on the riverside; it wanted but two hours from day; they must hasten.
Louis repassed the first, with the same good fortune; but those who followed him cried out that they felt the ice crack beneath them; a little further on, they exclaimed that the ice had broken, and they were up to the knees in water; then they had no more need to say anything, inasmuch as everyone heard the ice crack loudly.
“Go only one at a time!” cried out the Marshal.
The sentiment of preservation made him be obeyed.
Then was to be seen a long file of soldiers marching over the moving surface which undulated under their weight.
The first one reached the other bank; but there, an abrupt descent, slippery with ice, seemed to repulse them into the river. They were about to quit the land of old Russia, and one would have said that the land of old Russia wished to keep the living with the dead !
Many a one, half up the bank, lost his footing, rolled down, and breaking with the shock the too brittle ice, disappeared in the stream.
Then about eleven o'clock—it had taken five hours to accomplish the toilsome and dangerous passage—came the turn of the sick, the women and the children; to the river they had been transported in vehicles; these unfortunates would not descend, for the vehicles enclosed all they possessed, and beside, how were they to travel after they had left them?
They had found a point a little more solid, where some horses had gone over; the Marshal permitted the vehicles to attempt the crossing at this spot.
Two or three risked it.
All went well as far as a third of the river's width; there the ice began to yield and crack, and cries made themselves heard; but they could not turn back: there was no safety save on the condition that a considerable weight should not remain long in the same place.
They urged the horses onward, and, despite their instinct, which prompted them not to venture upon the mobile surface, the horses, despairing like the men, overcame their terror and advanced with loud breathing.
Those who had already crossed, those who remained to cross, anxiously watched those who were crossing—all of a sudden they saw those masses, scarce perceptible in the gloom, stop indecisive; the horses' feet were in the water; cries of anguish arose, then broken wails, then moans, which became more and more feeble, at last dying away—then the eyes which had turned in horror away from the sight were carried back to the spot; there was no ice; all had disappeared, engulfed in the abyss! at two or three places the water came bubbling up, that was all.
Forced were they then to quit those precious chariots, and choose what they would save: the selection was long, terror prolonging it. Then the women carrying their infants, the wounded leaning one upon another, the sick dragging themselves painfully along, commenced to defile like a procession of silent phantoms.
One-third remaned in the river, two-thirds were over.
It was no other than a miniature repetition of the terrible drama of the Beresina.
Finally, by midnight, all had passed or were engulfed.
There remained about fifteen hundred men able to bear arms, and three or four thousand sluggards, wounded, sick, women and children.
As for the cannons, they had not even tried to save them; they were sunk.
Ney crossed the last, as he had said he would; then, when arrived on the other side, he urged all this lamentable troop forward.
Louis Richard marched the first; the deep mental pain he felt seemed to have rendered him insensible to cold and danger.
When they had gone a quarter of a league he bent down and examined the road; they had come upon a broken route; deep ruts indicated that artillery, caissons and carts had passed by this way.
They must therefore avoid an army, resisting the cold one day, men another, water another, to fight again.
They were at, the end of their powers; for a long while they had been at the end of hopes! no matter, Ney cried “Forward!” and on they marched.
This road conducted to a village which they surprised.
Then there came a moment of joy to that wandering band, as there is a second of light when, during a gloomy storm, the lightning flashes; they had found what they had missed since leaving Moscow; food, warm dwelling, living beings! These living persons were enemies, it is true; but silence, solitude, death, were they not enemies no less redoubtable?
They stopped two hours in the village, then they resumed their route; there were some twenty or thirty leagues between this place and Orcha, where they hoped to meet the French army.
At ten o'clock, while they were resting in a village (the third they had encountered since one of the morning), they saw the somber forest of firs, which seemed to march with the fugitive column, replete with noise and motion; it was. Platof's Cossacks which were after Ney's army, if one calls an army twelve or fifteen hundred fighting men with five or six thousand idlers.
Another village was nearby, on the Dneiper; they took refuge in it; on the left, at least, they were guaranteed by the stream.
Since dawn, six or eight thousand men and twenty-five pieces of cannon had been following the right flank of the column. Why had they not charged? Why had they not profited by two or three chances of attack?
Their leader was drunk; ho could not give orders, and the soldiers durst not act. This time, Providence was not for the drunkards.
Nevertheless, the moment might come: he would fight, they believed so, at least; but Ney knew his antagonists.
“Soldiers,” said he to his men who were hastily eating, “finish your repast tranquilly; two hundred from among you, the best armed, will suffice to maintain tne enemy in check.”
Two hundred men, united by Louis Richard, surrounded the marshal.
Ney was not wrong. With those two hundred men, he held the six thousand Cossacks in respect. No doubt their chief had not recovered his senses.
At the same time, the order was given to put themselves in movement the instant the meal was over.
In an hour's time, the column once more took up the march.
Perchance the Cossacks wished to preserve the village; for immediately that there was a space left between the last cabin and the last straggler, all the bright lances were lowered, all the cannons belched forth their hurtling contents; the column, enveloped in a cloud of Cossacks, was attacked on all sides.
The wounded, the stragglers, the camp-followers, the women and children, worked up by fear, ran along the little army's flank, where they sought a shelter and which they were pressing back into the stream,
Ney ordered the bayonet to be presented to them; upon those bayonets they were forced to stop.
Then, instead of becoming a cause of ruin, they became a means of safety: instead of being an obstacle, they were a rampart.
The lance-heads were buried in this mass which the cannon-balls swept through: but the thrusts reached not the heart, wounded not to the life: the weak protected the strong, living and involuntary bucklers, but efficacious.
During this while, the marshal pressed forward, protected on one side by the river, on the other by that throng in which attacks were lost.
At times, however, the formation of the ground compelled them to leave the river side, and a line of Cossacks passed between him and the stream; but a discharge did justice, At other times, so as not to use ammunition, Ney, sword in hand, charged at the head of five or six hundred bayonets; then, they pushed the Cossacks before them, precipitating man and horse into the water; friends and toes, French and Russians, rolled into the same water toward the Black Sea.
For two days they marched thus, they went twenty leagues in this manner; they had the appearance of a besieged but moving population. So flees a bull assailed by the gadflies which sting him.
The third night came at length; they saw it fall, as in a hope of repose, but they could not stop; they were forced to leave behind those that fell; some great assassins had the strength of mind to blow out a friend's brains, on his request.
Ney saw all this, and compressed with his two hands his heart, ready to break, and turned aloof his eyes at the point of weeping.
Night came on, say we; they groped through a wood of fir-trees whose branches, when struck, threw down their burdens of snow. All at once, the somber forest was illumined, a discharge of artillery burst, the shot passed whistling, striking down men and trees, each of which emitted their cries of pain.
The column receded disordered.
“Ah, we have them at last!” shouted Ney. “Forward, friends! forward!”
And with fifty soldiers, this human Titan, this Homeric hero, this Ajax who would escape despite the gods, threw himself in advance, and in lieu of flying, made those fly who attacked.
M. de Segur has made of all that a great poem. Why has he only composed that work, and nothing else? Is it the Academy which has prevented him writing?
No; it is because he had seen the terrible sight, and because, feeling the sensations, he wished to render them; it is because, like Aeneas, he might say: Et quorum pars magna fui!
Morning dawned, they found, again the lances and bullets of Platof's Cossacks. It is true they had the forest to shelter them; weak rampart from which with muskets they could not drive away their assailants; the latter kept up with the French escorting and destroying them, showing a line of fire equal in length to the one Ney's men formed. They must wait and receive death without giving it; if they waited they would die.
They marched under fire, they halted under fire, they ate under fire; they were slain marching, halting, eating; one would say that death alone never left them.
Night came, the fourth night; they resolved not to stop but to keep marching. The French would be the nearer to them.
There remained twenty horses, twenty riders; Louis Richard, who had gone through thousands of deaths without receiving a scratch, put himself at the head of the horsemen, and advanced in the direction in which they supposed Orcha to be, that is, the French army.
THE 14th November, as betore mentioned. saw Napoleon quit Smolensko.
The first day they encountered no other enemy than the roads, an enemy, strong, terrible, inveterate enough in itself to destroy an army. They had started during the night in silence; but this silence was interrupted by the imprecations of the soldier drivers, by the blows they laid on their horses, by the noise which was made by the cannons and caissons lifted by great trouble to the summit of some hillock, down whose declivity, overcoming strength by might, fell back pell-mell one upon the other, crushing and shattering themselves at the bottom of the ravine.
The artillery of the guard took twenty-two hours to make five leagues.
The army was spread over a space of about ten leagues, that is to say, from Smolensko to Krasnoi.
The men most eager in flight already attained Krasnoi while the stragglers had scarce left the gates of Smolensko.
Korytnia is half way from Smolensko to Krasnoi, consequently at five leagues from Smolensko, five from Krasnoi. Napoleon calculated upon stopping at Korytnia, but there another road, that of Elnia, crossed that of Krasnoi, and along that road advanced another army, one as much in order as the French were in disorder, as numerous as the French were few, as brisk as the French were languid.
This army was composed of ninety thousand men, commanded by Kutusoff.
His vanguard had preceded the French at Korytnia.
This news was carried to Napoleon.
“It is at Korytnia I intended to stop,” said he; “dislodge the Russians.”
A general, it is not known whom, great names alone rise above in disasters, as large spars attract the eyes in a shipwreck, a general placed himself at the head of a thousand men, and dislodged the Russians from Korytnia.
Despair or rather recklessness of death, had quintupled their forces; that which would scarcely have been done at other times by ten thousand men was done now by five hundred.
At the moment when Napoleon entered Korytnia, he learnt that another advance guard had taken up its post behind a ravine, three leagues from the village; this vanguard was Milaradovitch's, who had arrived with twenty-five thousand men.
It was therefore through one hundred and fifteen thousand men they must cut their way to return to France.
Napoleon listened to this report in the single house that remained standing in the whole village of Korytnia. It was said that this one remaining house was perhaps a trap into which they wished to draw Napoleon; that it might be mined; that some self-sacrificlng moujik would come, at the propitious moment, to set fire to the concealed match, and then that demi-god who had caused on earth more storms than Jupiter had ever made in heaven would disappear like Romulus, in a tempest! Napoleon did or did not hear what they said; he went and seated himself before a table, where lay unfolded the maps of roads, charts of unknown countries, which at best are but approximative.
One of General Sebastiani's aides-de-camp entered.
He had found at Krasnoi the advance-guard of a third army belonging to some one they did not know; Sebastiani mast break through It to render the passage free, that was what he said to Napoleon.
It was moreover rumored, and the same aide-de-camp bore the news, that at Liady, a village situated three leagues from Krasnoi, a fourth vanguard, which they supposed to appertain to some irregular body of Cossacks, had captured those men who were marching isolated, among which captives were two generals.
They expected that Napoleon, on hearing of these hostile movements, which were about being accomplished around and before him, would send the order to Eugene, Davoust, and Ney, remaining at Smolensko, to hasten their march, that they might at least oppose fifteen or twenty, thousand men to two hundred thousand. Napoleon remained pensive, and gave not an order.
The forthcoming day they put themselves in motion, as if the scouts had announced that the way was free; the column, having Napoleon at its center, advanced without precaution, as if the star which guided toward Marengo and Austerlitz was still shining brightly in the snowclouds of Russia.
The marauders and fugitives formed the vanguard; the sick and wounded the rear-guard. At the place only where Napoleon was, beat the heart freely.
Suddenly, they found themselves facing a motionless fire, a rampart of men and horses raised upon a plain of snow.
Marauders and fugitives stopped; the recoil startled the horse of Napoleon, who raised his head, and fixed his glass on the black line, and said;
“They are Cossacks, launch a dozen marksmen against them, let them make an opening, and we will pass.”
An officer took a dozen men, and pierced the screen; the entire hand took to flight, like a flock of scared birds; the passage was free.
But there was a battery shooting from the left; the bullets took the column in flank, and swept the road along which they were proceeding.
All eyes turned to Napoleon.
“Well?” demanded he.
And they pointed out to him, two men struck down by the same missile, ten paces from him.
“Silence that battery,” said he.
Excelmans wounded, headed seven or eight hundred Westphalians, and went to attack the battery, while what remained of the Old Guard pressed around Napoleon to shield him from the shots.
They passed tranquilly and carelessly under the fire; the musicians of the Guard played the air of “Ou peut-on etre mieux qu'au sein de sa famille?” (Where can one be better than in the bosom of his family?)
But the Emperor extended his hand; the music stopped.
“My triends,” said he, “play 'Veilloins au salut de l'Empire.' ” (Let us watch o'er thr Empire's safety.)
And whilst thundered that cannonade to which they would not reply but with that cool and haughty courage, the the musicians of the Guard, calm as at a parade, played the air desired by Napoleon.
The fire was extinguished ere the music ceased.
Excelmans had ascended the acclivity and overthrown artillery and gunners.
“See that,” said Napoleon, “such are the enemies we have against us.”
That day the earth had been more difficult to vanquish than the enemy; the French had lost hardly a hundred men, but at every bend of the road had left a gun, a caisson, a wagon.
Unfortunately, albeit the stragglers had time to pillage the baggage, they had no leisure to spike the guns: each abandoned piece might, an hour afterward, be turned against them.
Napoleon arrived at Krasnoi; but, behind him, that army which from the heights had seen him pass, descended into the plain, and Milaradovitch and his twenty-five thousand men came in between Napoleon and the corps d'armie which followed him.
After having passed the night at Krasnoi, the following day, at the moment of starting, they heard cannon rumbling five or six leagues in the rear; it was Eugene, who, attacked by Miloradovitch, scattered the dead on that field of battle which had been passed over by Marshal Ney, and among the corpses of which we have seen Paul Richard, now a corpse himself, seeking his brother's body.
Napoleon gave the order for the march of the columns to stop; since a long while back, Eugene, his well-beloved son, had repaired his checks at Pordenone and Sacile; the Emperor could not leave Eugene in the hands of his foe.
All day long Napoleon waited; Eugene never appeared.
With evening coming, the cannonade died away.
Napoleon had one hope, and he expressed it aloud, that it might augment his confidence in the adhesion of others; Eugene had doubtlessly turned toward Davoust and Ney, and, the next day they would see the three bodies, united in one, pierce the Russian line and rally with Napoleon's rear guard.
Night passed, day came, nothing appeared: only the cannon was once more heard: it waa Kutusoff who crushed Eugene the night before.
Napoleon called Bessieres, Mortier, and Lefebvre, the three marshals whom he had near him; as for Berthier, he had no need to call him; Berthier never quitted him; Berthier was his shadow.
It was evident that the French army had behind it the whole Russian army; the latter believed it had enwrapped Napoleon: it had let him pass; it believed Caesar taken; they held his lieutenants alone.
By pushing onward, and whilst the Russians fought with Eugene, Davoust and Ney, they might gain one, two stages even upon the enemy; then they would be saved, for they would be in Lithuania, in a friendly land, while it would be the Russians, in their turn, who would be in an enemy's country.
But should they cowardly abandon valorous comrades; save the head at the expense of the limbs? Would it not be better to die all together?
Napoleon ordered no more; he questioned; he no more said “I will!” he said: “What would you?”
One alone replied: “Let us go!”
Then, the wild boar with tusks and bristles of steel turned back; but, at this moment they came to tell him the Russian General Ojarowski had passed with an advance guard; they might not enter Russia with the Russians behind them.
The Emperor called Rapp.
“March upon that vanguard,” said he to him, “without delaying a minute; attack it under cover of the obscurity; not a musket shot, understand; nothing but the bayonet! I wish, for the first time they have shown so much audacity that they shall not forget it for a long time.”
They knew but to obey when Napoleon commanded; without a word, Rapp darted forward; but scarce had he made ten paces than Napoleon recalled him.
A whole world of thoughts had traversed his brain in a minute.
“No,” said he, “remain here, Rapp; I do not wish you to be slain in such a skirmish; I shall next year have need of you at Dantzic. Let Roguet replace you.”
And Rapp went out, thoughtful in his turn, to carry the ordor to General Roguet; thoughful, say we, for, indeed, there was something astonishing that, about to enter Russia, surrounded by one hundred and fifty thousand Russians, when others spoke of France as of an imaginary land, he (Napoleon) saw what be would be in a year, and assigned to one of his lieutenants the city which the latter defended at eighty-five leagues from the place when he and himself seemed without power to withstand her adversary.
Roguet set off, attacked the enemy with the bayonet, drove them from Chirkova and Malievo, and struck them such a blow that the Russian army receded ten leagues, and suspended its movements for twenty-four hours.
Toward the middle of the night, they signalized Eugene.
The Prince arrived alone; he had let daylight shine through the Russians, but he was completely ignorant of what had become of Ney and Davoust. They were probably fighting, for throughout the night he had heard cannon on his right.
Kutusoff was decidedly the providence of the French army; the old man, as cold as his winter, contented himself with destroying with his guns, as the winter destroyed with snow and wind.
Napoleon took advantage of Kutusoff's inertness, and of the shock given by Roguet to Ojarowski, to send, to Orcha and Borisof, Victor with thirty thousand men, and Schwartzenberg with depots; but he would no more abandon Davoust and Ney than he would Eugene.
He would join them; only it was no more as at Eckmuhl, to win a great victory that he made this movement, it would be to save two marshals and the fragments of two armies.
On the 17th, he ordered the making things ready for the start at five of the morning; then, when all the army—what remained of the army —believed they were to march toward Poland, Napoleon turned his back to Poland and turned toward the north.
“Where go we?” demanded all the voices; “what road are we taking?”
“We go to save Davoust and Ney! we take the road of devotion.”
And all voices were hushed; they found the thing simple—they obeyed.
Napoleon would tear his two lieutenants from Russia, or remain there with them. Eugene saved, continued his road toward Liady; after the effort he had made he could still march, but not fight. General Claparede. with the sick and wounded, defended Krasnoi: the sick and wounded were sufficient to hold in respect an enemy which recoiled when it was touched.
When day came, Napoleon found himself between three armies; he had one on his right, one on his left, and one before him. These armies had but to march, unite, and they would stifle between one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers, Napoleon and his eleven thousand men; they had but to bring their batteries up—which had fired for a day—and overwhelm them. Not one could escape! The men remained in their places: the cannons were silent.
There were defenders. Invisible to the French soldiers, who rose menacing to the Russians; they were Rivoli, the Pyramids, Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Friedland, Eckmuhl and Wagram.
It required three years of reverse before one could comprehend the vulnerability of this new Achilles; it wanted England to come and bury in the dying lion's heart the steel of her horseguards; it needed the great ravine of Waterloo to serve as a tomb for the Imperial Guard!
At length the cannon began to fire; it was from behind, at Krasnoi. The enemy, which respected Napoleon, attacked Claparede.
They were enclosed on four sides.
Without doubt that was a signal; the three other sides enflamed in their turns.
They continued to go onward; it was somewhat like the Kremlin: they marched against fire, between two walls of fire.
Suddenly this burning wall opened, miraculously pierced by Davonst and his men.
There remained nothing more to be done but Ney to join them, and then all disengage.
Davoust had not heard speak of him, he only knew that his colleague would be a day behindhand. But it was impossible to wait a day under this fire: the army would have melted entirely away as the bronze in the furnace.
Napoleon called Mortier.
He ordered him to defend Krasnoi and wait for Ney as long as possible, whilst he went to open the army's road by way of Orcha and Liady.
With Napoleon was strength, we have said, and he must have been a terrific machine of war to thrust aside the forty thousand Russians, who, during the movement Napoleon had made toward Smolensko, had glided in between him and Poland.
The Emperor and what remained of the Old Guard took the Krasnoi road; Mortier, Davoust and Roguet sustained the retreat. Roguet and the Young Guard, who made the old head of column at Chirkova and Malievo, formed the next day the rear guard at Krasnoi: on re-entering the town, of the first regiment of infantry, an entire regiment which had twice mounted to the assault against a Russian battery, there remained fifty soldiers and eleven officers!
Napoleon reached Liady that evening; the next day he was at Orcha.
At Smolensko, he had had twenty-five thousand men, one hundred and fifty guns, a military treasure, provisions: at Orcha. he had no more than ten thousand men, twenty-five cannons and a pillaged treasury.
It was no more a retreat, it was a route; it was no mere receding, it was flying.
They sent General Eble, with eight companies of sappers and pioneers, to ensure the passage of those ten thousand men over the Beresina.
Perhaps Napoleon ought to have quitted Orcha; but in quitting Orcha, he was leaving Ney; and, more unfortunate than Augustus, who could at the least demand his legions of Varus, it was he who asked for Ney.
At all hours of the night he Opened hia door and inquired:
“Have you tidings of Ney?”
At every sound which he heard in the street. he threw up the window and asked:
“Is that Ney who arrives?”
All looks were turned to the northward: they could see nothing but the ever-thickening lines of the Russian battalions. They listened and heard not even cannon; it was the silence of the grave; if Ney was living, Ney would be fighting—Ney was dead!
And, as if that death was established, they commenced to repeat one to the other:
“I saw him on the 15th, and this is what he said to me”
“I saw him on the 16th, and here's what he answered me”
And Napoleon said:
“Ney, my brave Ney! all that I have of millions in the vaults of the Tuileries, to buy my Duke of Elchingen, my Prince of La Moscow.”
All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, they heard the steps of a horse coming at a gallop, then followed cries in which were mingled the name of Ney.
“Ney?” cried Napoleon, “who brings me news of Ney?”
They pushed before the Emperor a young man covered with tho tatters of a blue uniform broidered with silver.
Napoleon recognized in him one of Eugene's orderly officers.
“Ah, 'tis you. Monsieur Paul Richard!” said Napoleon.
“No, sire; It is Louis Richardmy brother Paul is dead. But the Marshal lives, sire.”
“Where is he?”
“Three leagues from here: he asks aid.”
“Davoust! Eugene! Mortier! to the succor of Ney! go, my marshals! we have news of Ney. All our hopes are reparable, Ney is saved!”
Eugene entered the first.
“An officer's cross of the Legion of Honor for this messenger of good news, Eugene.”
“Here is my brother's, sire,” said the young man, drawing from his breast the cross which he had unclasped, after his death from Paul's coat.
“Ah, you are here, my brave Louis!” said Eugene. “The tidings are good, but the messenger who bore them better still.”
“Sire,” said Mortier, entering, “here I am ready to go.”
“And I also.” said Eugene.
“I am the Prince's senior,” said Mortier.
“Sire,” returned Eugene, “I am a king; I claim the prerogative of my rank: no one shall give his hand before me to Ney.”
Mortier made a step back.
“Give me your hand,” said the Emperor.
Mortier took Napoleon's hand, and kissed it with a sigh.
“I will make you king one day, Mortier, and then you also may say, 'I claim the prerogative of rank.' ”
Two hours thereafter, Napoleon saw Ney enter his chamber, and extending his hand, he cried:
“I have saved my eagles, since thou art living, my brave Ney \ ”
Then, he added to those who gazed on him as they stood around:
“Messieurs, I would have given three hundred millions, three hours ago, for this minute of joy which God has now given me for nothing!”
THREE years have passed, day for day, since at the commencement of these military scenes we introduced our readers into the private cabinet of Napoleon at the Tuileries; let us beg them to stay in the midst of that sad and mute obscurity of palaces empty of their masters; we are at December the 18th, 1812; they will not long wait amid the silence and shadows.
In fact, at this moment a sorry traveling calash has stopped before the wicket of the Tuileries opening upon the Rue de l'Echelle, and for six minules, has vainly essayed to make it open.
At last the doorkeeper, aroused by the soldiers on guard more than by the knocks at the door, had decided to discover the cause of this noise, and had remained stupefied at the sight of the Mameluke Roustan, clad in his Egyptian uniform, who cried impatiently:
“Be quick, will you! it is the Emperor!”
The doorkeeper rushed to the door, which turned instantly on its hinges; the vehicle passed under the wicket, cut diagonally across the court-yard, and stopped near the vestibule.
Two men, one tall, the other of middling height, both wrapped up in furs, descended from the calash, and rapidly mounted the staircases.
The Mameluke Roustan preceded them, saying only this word:
“The Emperor! the Emperor! the Emperor!”
A footman arrived at the same time as the illustrious traveler, took a candelabra from the hands of one of his comrades who had run up on hearing the noise, and went direct to Napoleon's cabinet.
He knew that sleep was but the second requirement of this man of iron, whom all obeyed.
The Emperor traversed that cabinet wherein, three years before, he had stopped and slept; where poor Josephine, light as a sprite, had come to him, and had pressed a kiss to his brow as gently as a caressing dream.
This time be neither stopped nor slumbered: he passed, saying. In an abrupt voice:
It was always Cambaceres whom he asked for; him only be desired.
Thereupon he entered, followed by the tall man. into the lobby, which led to the apartments of the Empress.
The Empress was about to lie down, sad and suffering; she was dismissing Madame Durand, her femme-de-chambre, and going to bed, when the latter, who was going into the chamber adjacent to that of the Empress, hearing steps in the lobby, opened the door and uttered a cry on seeing two men enter.
Then, not comprehending how two men had been able, at that hour, to penetrate to this room, but ill-assured of the intentions of these two personages, enshrouded in cloaks like conspirators, she rushed to defend the imperial room, when, in one of the two men who threw off his mantle on a chair, she recognized Napoleon.
“The Emperor!” cried she, “the Emperor!”
And she respectfully made way.
The Emperor thereupon made a sign to his companion to await him, and passed into the apartments, saying:
“It is I, Louisa, it is I.”
For the Empress was no more the lovely Creole with a figure graceful in spite of her forty .yearsof age, with charming smile, dark tint, black eyes and hair, the good genie who had received a crown which she had returned a star; it was no more the well-loved, popular Josephine; the Empress was a woman of three-and twenty years, fair, fat, with cold blue eyes which seemed to start from her head, a red and white color, and the under lip pendant; she was the daughter of Francis II., the niece of Marie Antoinette, which made Napoleon the nephew of Louis the Sixteenth; she was the anti-pathetic and unpopular Maria Louisa.
Why had not Napoleon kept the other? why had he sought this one? Mystery of the human heart, inexplicable for all, but which is the same in the Emperor as in the last of his subjects.
“The Emperor!” had exclaimed the astonished Maria Louisa.
“Bonaparte!” would have cried the joyous Josephine.
She was right, that blonde daughter of Arminius, the descendant of the Kaisers with hanging lips; it was no more Bonaparte; it was a the Emperor.
How had he crossed over the distance which from Orcha, where we left him when he had found Ney, separated him from Paris?
In a few words we will say.
In a short halt which the Emperor had made at Korytnia, a courier from France had reached him. This courier was a bearer of a letter from Count Frochot; this letter the Emperor turned pale on reading.
Then he picked up a pen, drew paper before him, and wrote a long reply, but, no doubt fearing that his messenger would be surprised by the Russians, he tore up what he had penned, and, at Orcha, burned up with other papers Count Frochot's letter; then the impression produced by this letter, without being extinguished in his mind, faded a little from his face, which in a few hours became as impassive as heretofore.
Napoleon had decided to retreat by way of Borisof, and our readers will recall to mind that Eble bad been sent to throw bridges across the Beresina,
On the 22nd of November they had set out along a wide road bordered by leafless shrubs; they marched in a liquid mud, which they entered to the knee. A thing beyond belief! many were so weak that, once fallen in this mire, they could not rise, and were drowned!
Then all along the way the news came terrible.
With evening came an officer, galloping with loose bridle, asking for the Emperor,
The Emperor, to give courage to every one, marched on foot like a common soldier, a baton in his hand.
They pointed out the Emperor to the officer.
A messenger of bad news, he came to announce that Borisof had fallen into the power of Tchichagoff.
The Emperor hesitated impassively, but when the recital was finished, he struck the ground with his baton, crying:
“Is it then written on high that all should be against us?”
Then Napoleon stopped, ordering all the useless vehicles and half the forges to be burned, to give the horses to the artillery: that they must use every horse, even their own, rather than leave to the Russians a single cannon or caisson.
Then giving the example, he had plunged into the obscure and immense forest of Minsk. Twelve or fifteen hundred men entered with him, downcast and silent, and little by little the shadow of the Grand Army died away in the wood.
All followed Napoleon as the Hebrew fugitives followed the Pillar of Fire; beside, these men, these spectres were no more afraid of the enemy, but of the winter. The Russians! were they? they were used to cutting a way through their squadroons; but cold, snow, ice, hunger, thirst, were the real obstacles,
They reached the Beresina, and crossed notwithstanding the Russians. The monster which took the army by the feet and pulled it toward it, the gulf which devoured most in its way, was the river; they left there twelve thousand men, for they had rejoined the armies of Victor and Oudinot, but still they crossed.
On the 29th the Emperor quitted the banks of the fatal river.
Three streams had barred his course in a terrible manner, at three different epochs; the Danube at Essling, the Beresina at Borisof, the Elster at Leipsic.
November the 30th, he was at, Pieszenity; the 4th December, at Bienitza; the 5th, at Smorgoni.
Here he united all his marshals, gave to each one the share of eulogy due him, and to himself, the chief, his portion of blame, adding, however, these words:
“If I was a Bourbon, it would have been easy for me not to have committed a fault.”
Then, after having had Eugene read the 29th Bulletin, he officially announced his departure.
This parting was made the same evening ; his presence at Paris was indispensable; from Paris alone he could succor his army, hold under the Austrians and Russians, and organize things so that, three months afterward, he could lay his hand upon five hundred men whom he would find at the Vistula.
As for the command, he left that to the King of Naples.
It was ten o'clock of the evening, the Emperor arose, embraced his lieutenants and set out.
He went within a sorry vehicle with Caulaincourt and Vonsovitch the interpreter; behind him, in a sledge, came Lobau and Duroc; for attendants he brought Roustan and a footman.
First of all be went to Miedniky, where the Duke of Bassano had assured to him provisions; rations of bread, meat, brandy, and forage being there by thc hundred thousand, the army could make a stay of eight days.
From Kovno and Vilkovisky, where he took a sledge, he had sent off couriers whilst they changed horses. At Warsaw, he had stopped, conferred with the Polish minister, asked of them a levy of ten thousand men, had accorded them some subsidies, had promised his return at the head of three hundred thousand men, and had resumed his road.
At Dresden, he had seen the King of Saxe and had written to the Emperor of Austria; then he had dictated to M. de Saint-Aignan, his minister toWeimar, whom he found momentarily in the capital of Saxe, letters to all the colleges of the Rhenish Confederation, and for the principal military commanders of Germany.
There he had left his sledge, and M. de Saint-Aignan had given him one of his carriages. Finally, on the 18th, he was at the Tulleries, as before mentioned.
From Moscow to Smorgoni, he had only been Xenophon, directing his famous retreat; from Smornoni to the French frontier, had been but Richard Coeur de Lion returning from Palestine, whom the first Duke of Austria seized upon and cast into prison; at Paris, in the Tuileries, he found himself once again momentarily at least, the master of Europe.
We have seen him enter, traverse his cabinet, and precipitate himself into Marie Louise's chamber. He was still there when they came to tell him that Cambaceres was awaiting his orders.
Passing the saloon again, he found Cambaceres who was sleeping while awaiting him; he could not do without rest.
“Oh, it is you, then, sire!” ejaculated the Archchancellor.
“Yes, my dear Cambaceres,” rejoined Napoleon, “I arrive as fourteen years ago I came from Egypt, almost a fugitive, after having attempted the Indies by the north, as then I tried it by the east.”
But what Napoleon did not say, was that on his return from Egypt his fortune was at its dawn, while on his return from Russia his destiny was cold and gloomy as the country which he had been forced to leave.
Cambaceres waited; he knew that in such cases Napoleon, having much to say, had need to speak.
Napoleon walked about an instant with his hands behind his back; then suddenly stopping and addressing Cambaceres as if the latter could have followed the working of his thoughts, the same as a way worn traveler leaning over a river's bank watches a stick swept down by the current, he said:
“Thee war which I maintain is practical warfare: I wage it without animosity; I would have wished to spare Russia the evils she herself has doneI wished to arm against her the greater part of her population, by proclaiming the liberty of her serfs: I am against that measure, which devotes to death and the most horrible torture thousands of families.”
Then always responding to his mind, which drew him from the marshes of the Beresina to Paris of pace much more swift than the sledge from Vilkovisky, he continued:
“It is to ideology that France owes all the misfortunes she experiences. Her errors ought to conduct her, and they do conduct her to the rule of the men of blood, who have proclaimed the principle of insurrection as a duty, who have flattered the people into raising them to a sovereignty they are incapable of exercising. When one is called to regenerate a state, they are principles opposed to those he must follow: itis in history he must search for the advantages and inconveniences of different legislations; that is what the magistrates of a great Empire should never lose sight of: they ought, as for example Presidents Harlay and Mole, to be continually ready to defend their sovereign, the throne, and laws. The finest death would be that of a soldier who falls upon the field of honor, if the death of a magistrate who perishes upholding his sovereign, the throne and the laws were not more glorious still but,” added he animating, “contrary to that, there are pusillanimous magistrates who remain constantly below their duty.”
An turning suddenly toward Cambaceres, he said:
“You who are my friend, how has this come to pass?”
Cambaceres had felt this query ascend; he had seen to what tended this flow of words; he comprehended that it was a question of Malet's Conspiracy, the news of which, received at Korytnia, had so much absorbed the Emperor.
“Would your Majesty have details?” demanded Cambaceres.
“Yes, tell me all,” said the Emperor, sitting down.
“Does your Majesty know Malet?”
“Noby sight only; once I perceived him and they said, 'There's General Mallet.' I know that he was of the Society of the Philadelphians, a great friend of Oudet, who was slain at Wagram, which death they lay on my back. In 1808, while I was in Spain, this Malet conspired against me; I might have had him shot then, I had proofs enough for that, but, what would you? I have a horror of blood. That little Staps wished to die; I granted him pardon. They believe to kill me like that the madmen! But let us return to this manhe was in a madhouse in which I permitted his transfer. You see, Cambaceres, that's the way when speaking of me they always commence, making me a harsh tyrant! Where was this mad-house?”
“At the Barrier of the Throne, sire.”
“What do they call the proprietor?”
“Friend or foe?”
“Yes, I ask you if he was in the plot.”
“Ah! good heavens, the poor man! he never suspected it.”
“But he opened the door.”
“Not so, Malet went out under the wall.”
“With an Abbe Lafon, a Bordelais: they had a portfolio full of orders, senatus-consultums, decrees of the senate, proclamations. Two of their accomplices awaited them in the street: Boutreux, a preceptor; Rateau, a corporal.”
“And they were the fellows selected to play, one the part ot prefect of police, the other, that of aide-de-camp?”
“It seems to me that there was still one more priestthese priestsI have done enough for them!”
“He was a Spaniard.”
“Then, that does not surprise me.”
“He was a former prison acquaintance of Malet's; he dwelt in the Place Royale. It was in his house were hidden the weapons and the uniform of general, the aide-de-camp's scarf, a sash of commissioner of police”
“They had foreseen all!” cried Napoleon. “Go on.”
“Malet, once dressed and armed, went and knocked at the door of the Popin court barracks and had himself announced under the name of General Lamotte.”
“So,” muttered Napoleon, “it was under a borrowed name, unheard of, unknown, that these things were done. And the Colonel?”
“The Colonel, sire, was in bed, sick with fever; General Malet broached the subject forthwith in these words: 'Well, Colonel, here's news; Bonaparteis dead!' ”
“Bonaparte!” repeated Napoleon. “Yes, for certain men, I am always Bonaparte! To what has it served me, my fourteen years of success, the 18th Brumaire, the consecration, my alliance with the oldest house of Europe, for the first comer to say; 'Bonaparte is dead!' would all be over? Bonaparte is dead! But Napoleon II., what of him? he is living, it seems to me.”
“Sire,” responded Cambaceres, “you know what a soldier is: he sees an order, he does not discuss it, he obeys.”
“But when the order is false?”
“The colonel believed it true; he called his major; the order was read over by the pretended General Lamotte; the cohort was got together and placed at Malet's disposal. With that cohort, which had not a cartridge, and no guns save the wooden sticks they used in drilling, Malet returned to La Force, had the door opened and called a Corsican named Boccheciampi”
“A Corsican!” interjected Napoleon; “I'm sure he was not duped! And then?” “And then Generals Lahorie and Guidal.”
“Guidal! still another whom I might have had tried by a council of war and sent to Toulon: his communications with the English were flagrant to cover that, I should hope!”
“Well, yes; but instead of that, it was a senator's office that bought him; then came Laborie, to whom they handed his nomination of minister of police, and the order to arrest his predecessor, Rovigo.”
“This latter,” said Napoleon, with that sentiment of strict justice which might alter at times, but which, nevertheless, was in his character, “this latter might have been deceived; awoke at four of the morning, delivered by an armed force, he had an excuse. Let us see, Cambaceres, let us see what all this comes to.”
“Here, sire, the work was divided; while the new minister of police went to arrest the old one, Malet commenced by expediting an order to the Babylone barracks, with a packet addressed to the under-officers who were in quarters; this packet enclosed a copy of the senate's decree, and the order to relieve, with a new company, the posts of the Exchange, the Treasury, tlhe Bank and the city barriers.”
“Who was colonel of that regiment?” demanded Napoleon.
“He resisted, I hope?”
“He had been deceived like Colonel Soulie, and he obeyed.”
Napoleon struck his two hands together.
“At last,” murmured he, “let us see, let us see!”
During this time, Lahorie marched upon the hotel of the general of police after having detached Boutreux upon the prefecture; the prefect was arrested and conducted to La Force.”
“In Guidal's chamberit was well done! Why did he let himself be arrested?”
“Nevertheless, sire, in the midst of tumult, Baron Pasquier had the time to despatch a messenger to the Duke de Rovigo; but the messenger could not see the latter. Lahorie marched quick and proceeded to break in the doors; he was at work at the minister's cabinet when the minister himself appeared at the front door.”
“But were Lahorie and Rovigo not friends? Rovigo once recommended that man to me, I forget on what occasion.”
“They were theeing and thouing each other, sire; and it was in that familiar way of speaking that Lahorie cried: 'Surrender, Savary! Thou art my prisoner: I will do thee no harm!' ”
“Would resist, sire; Savary, you know, is not a man easily arrested; but Lahorie cried: 'Seize him;' and ten men then threw themselves upon the minister, who had no arms, and whom Guidal conducted, raging all the while, to La Force.”
“Go on, go on! I'm listening.”
“Malet, introduced to Count Hullin, Commandant of Paris, had him arrested by order of the Minister of Police, and on the first observation, which Count Hullin made him, laid the latter at his feet with a pistol-shot in the jaw. From thence he went to Adjutant-General Doucet, chief of the staff, announced to him that the new government kept him in his functions and traced out to him the path he was to pursue. Suddenly a man advanced, and interrupting the orator in the middle of hia discourse, said: 'You are no General Lamotte; you are General Malet! You were yesterday, perhaps last night, a prisoner of State.' ”
“Well and good! The right man at last!” ejaculated Napoleon. “And he is called?”
“Laborde, an adjutant, chief of the military police. Thereupon Malet drew out his second pistol, and aimed at Laborde, when General Doucet stopped his arm, and pushed Laborde from the room. Laborde, as he went out, encountered Paques, inspector-general of the ministry, who came to hear the adjutant upon the transfer of Guidal toToulon. To his great astonishment, Paques learned from Laborde that Guidal was a senator, Lahorie minister of police, Boutreux prefect, and that General Hullin had been grievously wounded by a pistol-shot from the hands of General Malet, the head of the provisionary government. Five minutes after, thanks to Laborde and Paques, Malet was once more a prisoner, and they arrested Lahorie who, a believer to the last, could not understand wherefore they arrested him. Guidal was not taken till evening. Boutreux till eight days after.”
“And what remains of it all to-day?” demanded Napoleon.
“There is left Colonel Rabbe, who has obtained a reprieve, and Corporal Rateau, whose uncle is procurer-general at Bourdeaux.”
“And the others?”
“Yes, the conspirators?”
“The three generals, Colonel Soulie, Major Piquerel, four officers of their corps, and two of the Paris Regiments, were shot on October 20th.”
Napoleon remained an instant pensive; then, with a certain hesitation:
“And how did they die?” he asked, fixing upon Cambaceres an eye which meant: “I want the truth.”
“Well, sire, and as becomes soldiers, even when guilty; Malet full of irony, but also full of conviction; the others were calm and firm, but astonished at being executed with a man and for a plot which they knew nothing of.”
“So you believed it your duty to allow that execution to go on, Monsieur the Archchancellor?”
“I believed it my duty, the crime being so great, to claim prompt.justice.”
“Perhaps you are rightin your point of view.”
“In my point of view, sire.”
“Yes, looking upon it with the eyes of an Archchancellor, that is to say, a high justiciary, but in my eyes”
“Pardon me, sire,” said Cambaceres, insisting that he might know Napoleon's whole thought.
“Well, in my way of thinking,” resumed the Emperor, “that is to say, in a political point of view, I should have acted differently.”
“I said mine and not yours, my dear Cambaceres.”
“Then your Majesty would have pardoned”
“All the accomplices, as having believed they obeyed superior orders.”
“That's another thing: I should have had him shut up in Charenton as a madman!”
“So that Colonel Rabbe and Corporal Rateau”
“Let them be set at liberty to-morrow morning, my dear Cambaceres. Let it also be known that I have returned to Paris.”
Then, with one of those signs of familiarity with which Napoleon only honored his intimates, he said:
“Good evening, my dear Archchancellor. To-morrow, at the state-council.”
And entering his own chamber, he muttered:
“Lahorie, Lahorieformerly an aide de-camp of Moreau's! I should not be surprised if Moreau cruises before Havre with an English fleet.”
He was wrong but by a year; the following year Moreau quitted America to come before Dresden, and have his two legs cut off by a French bullet!
The 1st of May, 1813, as he had announced to his marshals on leaving Smorgoni, saw the Emperor in the plain of Lutzen, at the head of an army of three hundred thousand men.
He would have. had five hundred thousand had not Prussia abandoned him, were not Austria all ready to betray him.
It was neither his nor France's fault if he did have two hundred thousand men less than he had said.
On April the 29th, the first cannon-shots were fired.
The 2nd of May, the victory of Lutzen made him master of all the Elbe's left bank, from Bohemia to Hamburg!
ON Saturday, the 23rd of September, 1815, a man-of-war, bearing at her mizzen-peak the British flag. and at her mainmast the admiral's flag, crossed the line at no degrees of latitude, none of longitude, and none of declination; it came from Europe, and, from the course she was taking, seemed to be making her way for South America or for India.
In accordance with the usage of all seamen on vessels of civilized nations, there was a holiday on board; only, the same as all mariners differ, so vary the form.
On the English vessel's deck, as always, command seemed suspended and abandoned to the ship's company, who, in an unanimous voice, had passed it to the oldest tar, who, wielding a trident, decorated with a long beard, and with a gilt paper crown, was seated upon a throne erected at the foot of the mainmast.
There the god Neptune had made them bring before him all those who crossed the line for the first time, who were lathered with tar, shaved or rather scraped with a gigantic tin razor, and on a sign from the god, when they were thus shaved, an immense beer-can which would not yield in size to the famous Heidelberg tun, was upturned over the patient, over whose head flowed a stream of water equivalent to the cascade of Pisse Verne.
With that the ceremony was over, and the passenger, officer, or green hand might go and ry himself in the sun of the equator, while the secretary of Neptune delivered a certificate to him stating that he had paid the toll for passing the Tropics.
In the middle of the ceremony a French officer appeared all at once on the deck, and approaching the god Neptune, said in English:
“Your Majesty, here are one hundred pieces of gold from the Emperor Napoleon.”
“The Emperor Napoleon?” said the god, “I don't know him; I only know General Bonaparte.”
“Well, be it.so,” assented the officer, smiling: “I always forget that General Bonaparte has been Emperor ten yearsI'll begin again and say: 'Your Majesty, here are a hundred Napoleons which are sent on the part of General Bonaparte.' ”
“Then, that's another thing!” said the god, extending his large tarry palm.
But a white, fine, aristocratic hand was interposed betwixt the French officer's hand and the English sailor's, and received the hundred Napoleons, saying:
“Give me that purse, General; I think it more prudent not to have it divided until to-night.”
The god Neptune grumbled in his seaweed beard; but he submitted, and the ceremony was about to confrinue, when a seaman shouted:
“Ahoy! shark, astern!”
“Shark, shark!” cried every voice.
And the god Neptune, left to himself, rose from his throne and went, as had the others, to see what was astern.
With the admiral's permission, (for, as was indicated by the flag floating from the mainmast, the man-of-war carried an admiral) with the admiral's permission, say we, the sailors went to the poop, which is, as we know, reserved for superior officers.
One seaman baited, with a piece of pork, a gigantic fishing hook hung to an iron chain, which he threw into the sea.
The horrible squalus, whose dorsal fin might have been seen above the sen-foam, plunged rapidly, and in a few seconds the mariners, who had attached the chain to a bar, felt a frightful shock; then they saw the tightdrawn chain move swiftly in three or four diverse directions; the links cracked as they pressed against the vessel's side, and one would have dreaded their breaking.
At length the shocks wore more gentle, and there was to be seen something white agitating at the end of the taut chain; it was the belly of the agonized shark.
Then great cries uprose, sent forth by the whole crew: cries of triumph, louder than had been the cries of joy which had preceded them in the most enthusiastic moments of the god Neptune's frolics.
At. these cries they saw come up the stairs of the poop a man who had not yet appeared upon the deck.
This man was clad in the traditonal small hat and green coat of the chasseurs of the guard on which sparkled the badge of the Legion of Honor and a simple chevalier's cross, coupled with the Iron Cross; he was followed by the General who had offered the hundred Napoleons, and by another officer of from forty-flve to fifty years of age, in the uniform of the French navy.
This man was Napoleon: the general who followed him, Montholon, the officer in the navy uniform, Las Cases.
They were on board the Northumberland frigate, commanded by Admiral Cockburn, and sailing for Saint Helena, with the order for the seaman, the officers, and even the admiral, to give Napoleon the title of General Bonaparte; they had been under sail since the 7th August; it was consequently forty-seven days since they had quitted Plymouth Roads.
They were for the first time crossing the line; but by an attention of the admiral's neither the Emperor, reduced to the rank of General Bonaparte as he was, nor any one of the persona who accompanied him were submitted to the ridiculous ceremony of baptism; only having heard the cries change in expression, the illustrious prisoner had mounted to the deck and came to see what were happening.
All was in confusion on board; when Napoleon heard that a shark was hooked and followed in the vessel's wake, he went to seat himself on the cannon which was his habitual seat, and waited.
An instant afterward, the cries of the seamen announced that they were hoisting up the fish; then they saw appear, above the bulwark, his pointed head and maw armed with a triple row of teeth, another effort brought him on the deck; but at the moment he fell, the sailors turned precipitately away, for no one cared to stand too near a witness of his flurry.
In truth, hardly had the shark touched the deck than, thus meeting a hold, he leaped up to the mizzentop; then finding a guncarriage within reach of his jaws he bit in such a manner that his teeth entered the wood so deeply that he remained for an instant motionless, caught in his own trap.
The carpenter profited by his moment; he neared the fish and let fly at his head a terrific blow with an axe.
The animal tore his teeth from the guncarriage in which were left deep prints, and with a single spring went from starboard to larboard. Three or four men whom became across in his way were overturned by the shock; one remained without consciousness. The others leaped upon the hammock nettings, from whence they clambered up the shrouds with the agility of a set of monkeys.
All this occurred amid the shouts and laughter of the crew; the throwing off of discipline rendered the struggle and evolutions of the shark the more picturesque.
Napoleon found at first a certain amusement in this species of battle; then, in the midst of the movements, the cries, the clamor, he fell into a deep reverie.
When he awoke from it, the shark had his head cut off, his belly cut open; a sailor held the animal's heart in his hand, and the ship's surgeon, while the headless boldly laid open from one end to the other, made himself sure that the heart separated from the body continued to contract, so great is the vital power in these animals.
Napoleon was seized with an emotion of pity for this giant suffering; and be turned aloof his eyes, encountering the Count de Las Cases.
“Come,” said he, “that I may dictate to you a chapter of my Memoirs.”
Las Cases followed the Emperor, but as he was disappearing down the companion-way, Commander Ross bent toward the count and inquired:
“Why does General Bonaparte go below?”
“The Emperor goes,” rejoined Las Cases, “because he cannot support the sight of that animal's sufferings.”
The English looked astonished; they had been told that after every action, Napoleon promenaded the battle fields to feast his eyes with the view of the dead and regale his ears with the criess of the wounded.
When the astonishment had passed over, they washed the blood-covered dock and resumed the frolics interrupted by the appearance of the shark.
During this time, Napoleon was dictating the pages wherein be refutes the poisoning of the plague-stricken at Jaffa.
This idea of writing the history of his campaigns was one which had occurred to him to while away his weariness.
The season was warm, the day monotonous: the Emperor, as they crossed the line, rarely mounted to the deck; never before breakfast; and, as in a campaign, breakfasted at irregular hours.
As for the English, they ate their morning meal at eight o'clock, and the French at ten.
From breakfast-time to four o'clock, the Emperor read or conversed with Montholon, Bertrand or Las Cases: at four o'clock he dressed, passed into the common hall and made a party at a game of chess; at five o'clock: the Admiral had the announcement made him that dinner was served up.
Then they placed themselves at table.
The Admiral's dinner lasted usually nearly two hours: that was one hour and fifty minutes more than it took Napoleon to dine. Therefore on the first day, at the moment they were bringing in coffee, the Emperor rose; the Grand Marshal and Las Cases, invited to the Admiral's table, rose likewise and went out.
The astonishment was great; the Admiral was nearly angry; he uttered some words in English upon the Emperor's breach of good manners; but Madame Bertrand, who had remained behind, responded in the same tongue:
“Sir Admiral, you forget, it seems to me, that you have dined with one who has been master of the world, and that when he rose from table, whether it were in Paris, Berlin, or Vienna, the monarchs whom he did the honor to invite to his table, rose behind him and followed him.”
“That is true, Madame,” returned the Admiral; “but as we are not monarchs, and as we are neither in Paris, Berlin, nor Vienna, we do not think ill of General Bonaparte's rising from the table before dinner is over, while we remain.”
From that day forth, entire liberty was taken and accorded.
It was during these long conversations on board that Las Cases received from the Emperor's own mouth all the anecdotes which he cites, in his Memorial, upon the infancy and youth of the Prisoner of Saint Helena; then the time came when this phase of conversation was exhausted; when Napoleon was weary of recounting, although his auditor never wearied ,of listening; and on Saturday, the 19th of September, he had began to dictate his Italian campaign.
With the exception of this distraction, which took him at first half an hour, then an hour, then two, and even three hours, the days passed with a monotonous uniformity, and they proceeded thus from Monday, August the 7th, to Saturday the 13th of October.
This latter day, on dining, the Admiral annnounced that, about six o'clock of the next evening, he hoped to sight St. Helena. This was, our readers will understand, great news for those on board: they had been sixty-seven days at sea.
The following day, in fact, while they were at table, the sailor who was, at two o'clock of the afternoon, stationed on the lookout in the top, cried “Land ho!” They were at dessert; they rose and went upon deck.
The Emperor went forward and searched for land with his eyes,
A kind of mist which seemed to him floating in the horizon was all that he could perceive; he needed the mariner's eye to be sure that that mist was a solid body.
At day break the ensuing morning every one was on the deck. Though during part of the night the vessel had been lying to, they had proceeded far enough, nevertheless, for them to view at this moment, thanks to the clearness of the morning air, the isle, which was visible.
Toward midday they dropped anchor, when they were within three quarters of a league of the shore. It was one hundred and fifty days since Napoleon had quitted Paris; the going to exile had endured longer than that second reign placed between the Island of Elba and Saint Helena.
The Emperor, who had left his chamber sooner than usual, advanced along the gangway, and fixed upon the island a passionless look; not a muscle of his countenance quivered; and, it must be said, this bronze mask was so completely under the control of that modern Augustus, that the sole muscles which appeared living were those bordering the mouth.
The sight of the isle was not very prepossessing, however; they perceived a village as broad as it was long, lost at the bottom of gigantic rocks, naked, dry, burnt up by the sun. As at Gibraltar, they might have promised a hundred louis to the engineer so skillful as to find a spot where a cannon was wanting.
The Emperor, at the end of ten minutes' contemplation, turned to Las Cases.
“Let us to work!” said he.
And he descended, made Las Cases sit down, and began dictating, without his voice indicating the slightest alteration.
The anchor down, the Admiral had immediately entered his yawl and was rowed to the island.
At six o'clock in the evening he had overlooked the entire isle, and thougnt he had found a convenient place; unfortunately, it needed repairs, and these repairs might require two months.
But the positive order of the English ministry was that Napoleon should not touch land before his dwelling was ready to receive him.
But the Admiral hastened to say that, as General Bonaparte was wearied of the sea, he took upon himself the having him disembarked: only the disembarkation was not possible that evening. The Admiral informed him, then, that they would dine an hour earlier than heretofore, so that they might land after dinner.
The next day, on leaving the dining-hall, the Emperor found all the officers united on the quarter-deck, and three-quarters of the crew manning the gang-ways.
A boat waited; he descended with the Admiral and the Grand Marshal.
A quarter of an hour afterward, on Monday. the 16th of October, 1815, ho touched the rock of Saint Helena.
See, for more, the Prometheus of Aeschylus.
AT the same hour whereat Napoleon stepped on the exile's future home, in the little town of Wolfach, which lies hidden at the bottom of one of the most picturesque valleys of the Grand Duchy of Baden, a young girl in her sixteenth year, like Goethe's Margaret, having let her spinning-wheel stop, was leaning against the wall with hanging arms and eyes upraised to heaven, and murmuring a ballad well known in Germany.
The young girl was so absorbed in her thoughts, that she neither heard the door of an interior court open, nor saw enter, or rather stop on the sill of that door, a young man of twenty-nine or thirty years, clad in the costume of the Westphalian peasant.
The young girl started, turned, distinguished the young man through the obscurity which she had allowed to fall around her without lighting the lamp with three wicks by her, and, in an almost frightened tone, exclaimed:
“It is you?”
He neared the young girl, and extending his hand, said:
“What?” cried she.
“Lieschen, go I must; I must quit Wolfach and bury myself deeper in Germany.”
“Do you run any new danger?”
“The danger the proscribed runs, the being arrested; that which one condemned to death runs; the being shot.”
Then, with the air which denoted the man familiarized to all dangers, even the one last mentioned, he added:
“Oh, Heaven!” said the young girl, clasping her hand, “I cannot imagine that.”
“That is why the first words I said to you, three days ago in this same place, on entering this same door on which chancenay, I am wrong. Lieschen! which Providence opened before me, that is why the first words I spoke to you were: 'I am hungry and thirsty; I am proscribed.' ”
“But the other day you told me also that you had found a safe retreat.”
“Lieschen, in quitting you I must make an avowal: that retreat was this very house.”
The young girl gazed at the speaker in affright.
“Our house!” ejaculated she; “you hidden in my father's house without my father's permission?”
“Re-assure yourself, Lieschen,” said the young man; “this house I will leave; but let me tell you first how I came hither, and whom you have received.”
'The young girl pushed her wheel aside with her foot, placed her two hands on her knees and regarded the proscribed man with an eye at the one time disquieted and amicable.
“I was at the Island of Elba with Napoleon; he sent me to France to prepare for his return; I put myself In communication with Colonel Labedoyere and Marshal Ney. Both are shot, I am condemned like them; but, luckier than they, forewarned that I would be arrested, I took flight to Strasburg, my birthplace, where, for a whole month, I stayed concealed in a friend's house. Four days ago, given notice that my retreat was discovered, I leaped over the city walls, crossed the Rhine by swimming, and entered the Grand Duchy of Baden. I walked the whole day by side-roads, familiar to my boyhood, and reached Wolfach. My intention was to go far into Germany where I had a mission to fulfill; but I met you, Lieschen. and all my intentions were scattered to the winds. Man is not master of his destiny, I met you and, come what might, I remained.”
“And nevertheless you are going to-day,” said Lieschen, with a sigh.
“List to me,'' responded the proscribed: “to-day, I saw French Gendarmes in the town; they communicated with those of the Grand Duke, and I do not doubt that at this hour they are one and all in my pursuit.”
“My God! what can be done?” cried the young girl.
“Oh, for me it little matters, dear Lieschen,” said the young man: “but the discovery of a French conspirator in your house would compromise your father, you above all, who, on the prayer which I made you, have guarded my secret.”
“That prayer, it was more myself that made it than you; the secret, I have kept the more willingly because my father (why, I know not, he so good and merciful a Christian), because my father has vowed an implacable hatred against the French; ten times I have remarked that at the simple sight of one of your countrymen, he has shuddered and turned pale! But, still, it you find it more safe to stay here than fly, remain.”
“Lieschen! Dear Lieschen!”
“The life of a man is a thing so precious in the eyes of the Lord, that the Lord, I trust, will pardon what I have done.”
“You are an angel, Lieschen!” said the young man; “it is not solely the danger which I run which makes me depart far from you; but I have, I told you, a pious undertaking to accomplish. I must go in Bavaria.”
“Bavaria?” echoed the young girl uplifting her eyes.
“Yes, in search of a young girl handsome as you, Lieschen, but who was less happy than you. That mission once over I shall be free, and whatsoever the danger I may incur by dwelling upon the frontiers of France, oh! I swear to you I will return.”
“When?” demanded Lieschen.
“When? I know not; but I ask of you three months.”
“Oh, three months!” cried Lieschen joyfully.
“In three months, if you see me, Lieschen, promise that you will acknowledge me.”
“You are not putting my memory to a great test. Monsieur, and I usually keep more than three months a remembrance of my friends.”
At this moment seven o'clock rang out.
The young officer counted one after another the seven vibrations of the clock.
“Seven o'clock!” murmured the young girl; “my father started this morning for Ettenheim and will not be slow to return.”
“Yes,” took up the proscribed; “and beside, I also must go.”
And he proceeded to the open window, from whence he looked at the horizon.
“Great heaven!” exclalined the young girl, suddenly, “do you not hear the sound of a vehicle on the highway?”
“Yes,” replied the proscribed.
“It is my father returned from Ettenheim.”
“Which means I must go.”
The young girl held out her hand to the officer.
“Friend,” said she, “believe me, from the bottom of my heart I would I had the power to say: 'Remain!' ”
The young man retained for an instant in his own the hand extended to him.
“Lieschen,” said he, “yes, I must go, but, before departing, one favor.”
“What is it?”
“Do not let me go without bearing away some token of your kind pity for me! The other evening I would have exchanged each of my days for one of those rose leaves you were casting to the wind; you have about you, its perfume comes to me, a bunch of violets: give it to me and I depart!”
“Here it is. Go, now.”
“Thanks, Lieschen, thanks! I go twice exiled; exiled far from France and exiled from you; but I will returndo not forget me in your prayers, Lieschen.”
“Alas, for whom shall I pray? I know not even your name.”
“Pray for Captain Richard.”
“Oh, my father, my fatherdown there, on the roadgo! go!”
The young man seized Lieschen's hand and pressed it to his ardent lips; then, darting through one door while the other was being opened, he said:
“Au revoir! Lieschen; it cost me too much to say adieu.”
And he disappeared.
THE young girl remained alone, and, for the first time in her life perhaps, having heard the sounds of her father's footsteps, ran not to meet him.
On her name being pronounced by her father's voice, the child started as from a dream, and darted toward him, saying:
“Here I am, father.”
“Come and embrace me, once for yourself, and then for her who is no more.”
The young girl threw her arms around the old man's neck.
“Oh, yes, yes. father!” cried she, feeling his heart leap with the double sentiment which filled it; “oh, yes, yes, father, I will embrace you many times for me and for her, so that you may not perceive that you have lost a daughter.”
The pastor followed her with his eyes, as if he would never weary of viewing her.
“Why are you without light, Lieschen?” inquired he.
“I forgot to light the lamp, father,” responded the young g-irl, in a slightly tremulous voice.
“And you stayed alone thus, in the obscurity?”
“I was dreaming,” stammered the child.
The pastor emitted a sigh; he seemed to have discerned a certain embarrassment in his daughter's voice.
The latter, during this time, had approached the immense fire-place, and picking out a live coal from the ashes, she lit one of the wicks of the brass lamp, which sending up a flame, lit up the figure of an old man of sixty winters. His face was grave; one felt that it was that of a man who had suffered much. Nevertheless, the expression was benevolent; it came through the deep imprint of sadness which misfortune had spread over his features.
The daughter had not made the same reflections as we have done; she was habituated to that visage and its melancholy expression; she found upon it. on looking, a shade of subdued gaiety which struck her; then perceiving that the pastor held a bag in his hand, she inquired:
“Ah, what do you bring there, father?”
He raised the bag.
“Your dowry, my child.”
“My dowry?” said the astonished Lieschen.
The pastor gave her the bag.
“Weigh it,” said he.
The child thought she would have let fall the bag which her father abandoned to her hands.
“Oh, how heavy it is!” said she.
“Why not?” said the old man, triumphantly, “it contains two thousand thalers.”
“Two thousand tha!ers!” repeated the young girl, with an expression as sorrowful as her father's was joyous, “two thousand thalers! That is why you have imposed so many privations upon yourself.”
“What privations?” demanded the old man.
“That is why you have worked beyond your power.”
“When did I work so much, little daughter?”
“You alone have trimmed and pruned our vine.”
“My child,” said the old man, smiling, “the vine is the subject of one of the parables of Scripture, and, by that title, I cannot have too much care of mine. Now take this bag, though it is heavy, and shut it up in the closet at the head of my bedstay, here's the key.”
The young girl lit a candle from the lamp, and went out, bearing the bag whose weight enfeebled her arms.
The pastor watched her, following her with the deeply tender eye with which the father ever regards his child. Then, speaking to himself, he murmured:
“I did not tell her that three thalers were missing from her two thousand: one which I gave to an old woman, and two to a poor paralytic, who has not our Lord to say to him: 'Rise! cast off thy crutches and walk!' but, before the end of the week, they will be replaced, I trust, and the dowry will be intact. Come, then, the man worthy of that treasure of beauty, and my poor Lieschcn will be happy!”
Then raising his eyes to heaven as if he sought the reflection of her who had been lost to him, he added with that smile which is at once a prayer and a doubt:
“Providence owes me that amends!”
At this moment the young girl entered.
“Good father,” said she, “the money is in the closet and here's the key.”
“That is right, my child. And now, I do not know whether you are of my state of mind, Lieschen, but I think it is time for supper; what say you?”
“Yes, father,” replied the girl distractedly.
Then she commenced to spread the table-cloth; but suddenly, leaning her two hands on the table, she regarded the old man with a certain disquietude.
“Lieschen!” said the latter.
“Father?” responded the young girl.
The old man beckoned to her with his hand.
“Come hither,” he said.
Lieschen approached quickly as if his wish had agreed with a desire of her mind.
“Here I am, father.”
“Are you suffering?” asked the pastor.
The child shook her head.
“No,” said she.
“Your mind is away from here, at least?”
“Yes, I have something to tell you; for the first time I hesitate, I am embarrassed.”
“Speak!” said the inquieted pastor, “am I not for you an indulgent father? You can have nothing to reproach yourself with, my child.”
“Listen to me, father. You have often related to me,” said Lieschcn, “how the fathers of our fathers suffered cruel persecutions for religious faith”
“Yes, in former days, in the time of Luther and the Thirty Years' War.”
“And often, with tears in your eyes, you told me of those traits of devotion of those who, at the priceof their liberty, their fortune, their life even, gave shelter to the proscripts.”
“Yes; but in recompense of what they risked on earth, God, I trust, has made a place for them on his right hand in heaven!”
“You would therefore, father, let me have niy heart moved by pity for a man whom a persecution like to that of which we were speaking, has driven from his country?”
“And where is this person?”
“A short time ago, he was here; now he is far away, I hope.”
“And, ere speaking of him, you waited until he was gone?”
“Pardon me, father,” said Lieschen, hesitating, “but this unfortunate man”
“Oh, I can guess,” said the father, “he was a Frenchman, you mean?”
“Yes, father, a Frenchman who had served under the Emperor Napoleon, and who, having helped his return from the Island of Elba, was forced to flee France.”
“Yon have done rightly in following the impulse of your heart, my child; but you were wrong in doubting mine.”
“Would you have received him?”
“Without a doubt: a pastor's roof should ever he the refuge of the banished and the cast-off. Of what age was this Frenchman?”
“Between twenty-eight and thirty years, father.”
“Ah, he was a young man, then?”
“I should I have repelled him because he was young?” retorted Lieschen.
“No, certainly not!” responded the pastor, watching her with disquietude.
“How you look at me, father.”
“I am seeking something,” replied the pastor.
“You had a bunch of violets which you picked from your sister's grave this morning!”
“I might have told you that I had lost them, father,” responded the young girl, tranquilly, “but God guard me from telling an untruth to my good father! For these flowers the Frenchman asked, and I gave him them.”
“Lieschen. Lieschen!” cried the old man, shaking his head, “till to-day I have cited the pastor's daughter as a model to all the girls of the town.”
“Oh, I comprehend you, father, and I answer without blushing and without shame; the stranger asked for the flowers in the name of gratitude, and I gave them to him in the name of friendship.”
“Will you ever again see that young man?” inquired the pastor.
“He said he hoped to see me again, and has fixed three months for the term of his return.”
“Lieschen! Lieschen! beware!”
“Of him, father? oh no!”
“The sons of his country are fatal, my daughter.”
“What mean you?”
“I mean to say that this day is not an ordinary one, my child,” continued the pastor, “it is the sixteenth of October, sad anniversary of a mysterious and premature death.”
“Yes, of the death of our poor Margaret.”
“We no more wear mourning, but the hand of time, rough and cold though it be; has not yet effaced it from our hearts.”
“No, father, and Gretchen's chamber, which remains as it was at the time of her death, is a temple wherein we eternalize and adore her memory.”
“The memory of a saint and martyr, my child! You spoke of the French just now, and asked whence arose the hatred I have against them; well, this day, a day of tears and grief, I will tell you how you were bereft of Margaret, and by what doleful path ascended to the sky that angel which God and thy mother gave me.”
“Oh, my father!” cried Lieschen, “what terrible things could have happened to my sister that, three years after her death, you cannot speak of her without this pallor and emotion?”
“That which happened, dear daughter, I wished to keep to thy innocence, an eternal mystery; but this Frenchman succored by thee, this return promised and expected, perhaps, make to me a duty of concealing nothing from theeif this Frenchman comes back I will tell thee: 'Recollect!' If he never returns, I will say: 'Forget!' ”
“Oh, speak, speak, father.”
The pastor for an instant let his head drop between his hands, as if looking back into the past, and began, stifling a sigh, what follows.
“WE must go back seven years in the past, my dear Lieschen,'' said the old man. “You were then a little child playing with a doll, when they announced all at once the approach of the French from Ratisbon and the coming of the Austrians from Munich.”
“Oh, I remember all that. perfectly, father! I see still only the plateau of Abensbcrg, by the side of the old castle ruins, the little white house with a pine over the door, and apple trees in the garden.”
“Then you recollect the day the Austrians entered?”
“Yes, I was in the parlor with sister Margaret and our friend Staps, when we heard drums in the distance; at the same time, students passed the house singing in chorus a military march. Staps, who was seated by sister's side, got up, and approaching the window, made a sign to the singersFather, what has become of himour friend Staps?”
“He was shot, my child.”
“Shot?” cried the young girl, turning pale.
“For having attempted to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon.”
“Oh,” said the young girl, whose head fell on her hand, “poor Staps! But still, father, it was a great crime he committed! And why did he wish to assassinate the Emperor?”
“Because, in his eyes, he was the oppressor of Germany, my child; then Staps was one of a secret society in which they made, on entering, abnegation of one's will.”
“Then it was he, father, who fired on the Emperor that musket-shot which caused the pillage and burning of Abensberg?”
“I accuse no one, my child, albeit our misfortunes date from that.”
“Yes, you were wounded; they picked you up from among the dead; and, from that day to the one when she died herself, Margaret never ceased to weepwhat was it happened ? Every time I wished you to speak of it, you answered me: 'Hereafter, my child, hereafter.' ”
“Well, here's what happened. Perhaps Napoleon paid no great attention to that bullet which riddled his hat; but General Berthier saw in it a crime which should be punished; he ordered a regiment to return to Abensberg, and do justice, making at need the whole village responsible for a single man's deed. In short, the regiment went back to execute the General's order; but the Austrians had already retaken the village, which the French had abandoned. It was, it appeared, a very important aid to the day's success; the French were thirsting to take itthe Austrians eager to keep it; it was a terrible strife! Our house had been barricaded like a fortress, and I was there, in the midst of the soldiers panting for the carnage, who did their duty in defending their country! only I, a man of peace, who believed that all people were brothers and had but the one country, I shook my head and prayed equally for friends and enemies, for Austrians and French. They could not comprehend that, the poor blind ones! they believed the moment one was not for them', he was against them; they therefore put a gun in my hands and made me fire.”
“Oh, my God!” murmured Lieschen, “and all that occurred above our heads.”
“Yes, my child; but in the noise of the discharge of guns, whilst the bullets whistled past my ears, I said; 'Lord, thou art great, thou art all powerful, thou art merciful, have it that one day these men who now seek their opponent's lives will then give the fraternal embrace! let it be that thou, whom they call the God of War, will be the God of Peace!' Suddenly, in the midst of my prayer, I staggered; my voice failed me, my eyes closed, and I fell bathed in my blood; I had received a ball in my breast.”
“Father!” cried Lieschen, throwing her arms about the old man's neck with an accent as touching as if he had been wounded at that moment.
“The last thing that I saw on falling was your sister, who had quitted her retreat and came to my feet. Oh, what suffered I during that minute which separated life from unconsciousness, day from night, is incalculable, it seemed to me that it was death himself who had touched ime. I held out my hands toward my daughter, whom I still perceived through a veil of blood; I endeavored to stammer her name, to touch her, to bless her; but power to do so was wanting; all disappeared and I was senseless.”
“Oh! poor, dear father!” murmured Lieschen.
“How long a time I remained in the swoon I am ignorant; but what I do know, my poor child, is that on opening my eyes to the pure light of the day, I had more to bewail than when I had shut them in my belief forever; I had more pain in resigning myself than I had in deciding to die! Oh, what was war, war with all its horrors! war followed with all its train of crimes! They had found me lying among the dead, gun in hand, and they had only spared me because they thought me lifeless. The little white house was nothing more than a heap of ashes amid smoking remains; the village was one vast ruin! blood was all over in the furrows of the field, in the gutters of the street, even in the tabernacle of the Lord! it was thus I once more found my child, pale, bewildered, dying and more misfortunate, poor girl! than if she had been dead!”
“Father, father!” cried Lieschen, bursting into tears.
“For all that,” resumed the pastor, with an accent of bitter grief, “for all that, they said that it was a very fine battle, which did honor at once to those who attacked and those who defended. I left my wound to heal of itself; but it was not with your sister as it was with me; cares, tenderness, devotion, could do naught for her, I soon quitted Bavaria for Westphalia, then Westphalia for the Grand Duchy of Baden, calling myself Waldeck instead of Stiller: nothing could attach her to existence, and like me you saw her pale, pine away, lose each day a breath, a smile, until at last, on the 16th of October, 1812, she expired pardoning.
“Poor sister!” murmured Lieschen.
“You understand, now, do you not, why Gretchen, the betrothed of Staps, would espouse neither the student of Heidelburg, nor the son ot the Frankfort banker, nor Count Rudolph of Offenburg? It was because she had been dishonored by Captain Richard.”
“Ah!” ejaculated Lieschen, emitting a cry of pain.
“What?” inquired the old man.
“By Captain Richard?” repeated the young girl.
“Yea, by Captain Richard! That is the name of the miscreant who has clad you in mourning for a year, for at your age mourning is ephemeral, me for all my life.”
“Ah, my God, my God!” murmured Lieschen, borne down beneath the weight ot the name she had heard.
“That is why I,” resumed the pastor, “I, a word of peace; I, a knee bent before the Lord; I consecrated to give and to bless, I ask but one thing; It is that His anger may never bring that man across my path, for I might wrong myself and believe that it was His justice!”
“Father, for mercy's sake!”
And she lowered the old man's arm, elevated to heaven to demand vengeance.
“Yes, you are right, my child,” said the pastor; “let us think no more of that, or let us, at least, think no more of it with a wrathful heart or hating mindIs supper ready? well, let us sit downalas! at the table, between you and me, there is an empty place; poor Margaret's”
The old man seated himself; but, instead of eating, he let his head fall upon his hands.
Lieschen, leaning back in the chair placed in front of her father, was regarding him with a profound sadness, when there suddenly resounded the report of a fire-arm at some little distance; at nearly the same time, they heard precipitate steps, and then the sound ot the yard-door opening quickly.
Lieschen uttered a cry.
The pastor turned and found facing him the young man whom we saw, but a short time previous, take leave of the young maiden.
“It is the same one, father!” murmured Lieschen.
“Enter, sir,” said the old man.
“I am pursued, Monsieur; will you save me a second time?” demanded the fugitive.
“Enter quickly, and sit down to table by meLieschen, a plate, knife and fork. Do you speak German?”
“Yes,” rejoined the young man.
“Well, you are our guest. Be cool and calm! You may yet be saved.”
The young man seated himself at the pastor's table in the same place where, some minutes before, the father regretted not seeing his daughter Margaret.
Lieschen hastily pushed a plate before him, and sat herself down, murmuring:
“Oh, my God, is it Thy wrath, or Thy mercifulness, which has brought him to this place?”
At the same time, a man in the uniform of brigadier (corporal) of gendarmerie bestrode the window-sill, which was open, and, while half his body remained without, a railling face penetrated the interior of the room, with its eyes covering the little table and the three persons seated around it.
“Oh,” said Lieschen in a low voice, “Brigadier Schlick! we are lost.”
But, quite otherwise, the brigadier, who caused so great a fright to poor Lieschen, appeared animated by no hostile intention; he politely took his hat in his hand, and, addressing the pastor, said:
“Good appetite to you. Monsieur Waldeck, and the same to your company!”
Richard east a rapid glance upon the gendarme, and thought he recollected having seen that face before.
As for the pastor, he inquired, imposing on his physiognomy a calmness which was far from his heart:
“What, is the matter?”
“Don't disturb yourselves, Monsieur le Pastor, it is I, Brigadier Schlick, who have come to serve you.”
The gendarme's name, as well as his countenance, was no stranger to our captain; nevertheless he could not call to mind where he had seen the one, and when he had heard the other. On his part, Brigadier Schlick regarded the captain with a fixedness which proved that his memory was at least as good as that of the French officer, if it was not better.
At the end of a few minutes' examination, the gendarme made a movement of the head which indicated that all his doubts, if he had any, were dissipated.
“The burgomaster recommended me,” said he, “to use all sorts of forms with you, M. le Pastor; so you see, I do so. May one enter?”
The pastor looked at the captain in a manner which signified: “be bold of heart, or you are lost!”
Then to the brigadier he said:
“Of course you may enter; was any one ever prevented coming into this dwelling?”
And he added:
“Rise, Lieschen, and light, M. Schlick.”
Lieschen got up, and taking the lamp with a trembling hand, was about to go to the brigadier; but at the very moment, the latter brought his other leg inside the casement, saying:
“Oh. you need not disturb yourself, my pretty miss! windows are doors to us.”
Lieschen turned toward the Frenchman. He was calm, and seemed an actor perfectly a stranger to the scene which was enacted, and to that which was about to be played.
“Be welcome, Monsieur Schlick!” said the pastor, quite firmly.
Lieschen was so pale as to cause the gendarme to seem to pity her.
“Mademoiselle,” said he, “as you are very pale, and as that paleness should be naturally attributed to my unexpected appearance, I wish first of all to prove to you that I am not so bad as I seem.”
While saying this he never let his eyes once quit the Frenchman, who, on his side, kept a good countenance, placed his elbow on the table, leaned his chin on his hand, and looked at the brigadier with an eye, if not as curious, at least as tranquil, as the other's.
“I am charged to pursue and arrest a French fugitive, ex-soldier of the other who formed a conspiracy under those, and who, to avoid a condemnation to death, leur a souffie au poil (has thrown them off the scent), as they say on the other side of the Rhine, and taken refuge in the Grand-Duchy of Baden.”
“What do you call this Frenchman?” inquired the pastor.
“Oh!” said in a low tone the young girl, fearing the blow which, by the name the brigadier was about to pronounce, would be dealt to her parent.
“Sooth to say,” replied Schlick, “till this moment, they have neglected to tell me his name, and gave only the descriptlon.”
Then, keeping the Captain before him, he continued:
“As for the description, here it is: Blue eyes, light hair, pale tint, middling size mouth, white teeth, height five feet four inches, age, twenty-eight to thirty years.”
The pastor, in spite of the fear which he felt, perhaps even on account of that fear, rapidly carried his eyes to his guest.
Lieschen had no need to look at him to know that the description was exact in its most minute details.
The pastor, seeing that up to that moment there had been nothing absolutely hostile in either the look or accent of the brigadier, become bolder, and, making a sign to the young man, said:
“But all this, Monsieur Schlick, does not explain to me—”
“The object of my visit, you mean, Monsieur le Pastor; I will tell you that soon. so rest easy. Just imagine that for three days we had been watching, my two gendarmes and myself, for the lad, without being able to lay our hands on him, though we were certain he was in the neighborhood; but this evening one of my men saw a citizen slipping gently along a hedge; he thought he recognized the individual, and he stopped his way with his carabine: the other fell back; my gendarme started in his pursuit and thought to have him when, on reaching your garden wall, this fellow, who appears well practiced in gymnastics, leaped on a stone, sprang on to your wall and from the wall. jumped down the other side? Then, my man shot at him, less in the hope of hitting him, than to warn us that something was up. We accordingly ran to the place where we found the gendarme loading his carabine; he told us what had happened; and we came to ask you, M. le Pastor, if perchance you bad not seen the frenchman we ran after.”
“I!” said the pastor.
“And if you had not concealed him in your house.”
“How can you suppose that, my dear Schlick, with the hatred I bear to men of his nation?”
“Eh!” said the brigadier, “That's just what I told my comrades.”
“Oh!” cried Liescben, commencing to breathe again.
“I said so to my comrades,” began the gendarme, who seemed to have sworn to make his auditors pass through all the alternatives of hope and fear; “but to me, Schlick, I said: “Bah, the pastor is so good that he is capable of forgetting his hatred, and of giving hospitality even to his greatest enemy!”
“Monsieur Schlick, search all my house, and if you find your man, take him, I permit it.”
“Oh,” responded Schlick, his eyes fixed on the pastor's guest, “from the moment that he whom I seek is not here, it is useless to seek anywhere else.”
And he made what they call, in theatrical terms, a false exit; but the pastor said:
“Monsieur Schlick, will you not do me the pleasure, before leaving us, of drinking with us a glass of Rhine wine?”
“I, Monsieur le Pastor? willingly,” said Schlick, “it will be an occasion to me of drinking a toast to my former companions, the French.”
“Go, my child,” said the pastor to Lieschen. “and bring us some of the best.”
The young girl rose staggering, and was going to light the lamp; but he who, the object of all this trouble, seemed the calmest of all. took the candle from her hand lit in and handed it to her.
The young girl went out, casting behind her a lingering, uneasy look.
BRIGADIER SCHLICK followed Lieschen with his eyes until she had entirely disappeared.
“Yes,” said he, speaking as it to himself, “I comprehend, the young girl wishes at once to go and to remain; she divines that I will profit by her absence to make to you, my dear Monsieur Waldeck, some questions I would not chance before her.”
“You have some questions to ask, M. Schlick?” said the pastor, who saw that the great moment had arrived.
“First of all, with your permission, as they say on the other side of the Rhine, I will ask you quickly, so as not to affright that good Mademoiselle Lieschen, what this gentleman is doing here?”
“But you can see, it seems to me: he is supping with us.”
“Yes, you are right, for I see that well enough; that was only a mode of speech. I wished to ask you, not what Monsieur was doing, but who is Monsieur?”
“Don't you know him?” returned the pastor.
“No,” responded Schlick, but I desire to make his acquaintance.”
And Schlick bowed.
The stranger turned his head with an impatient movement, which signified clearly: “ Why let this comedy proceed which annoys and humiliates me? let me surrender.”
But the pastor, who doubtless knew better than he did how one must act with Brigadier Schlick, made a sign for his guest to have patience, at least some moments longer.
“You know, Monsieur Schlick,” said he, “that before living at Wolfach—”
“You resided in Westphalia and Bavaria, yes; you did me the honor of saying that before.”
“Well, a portion of my family remained in Bavaria.”
“And Monsieur, “ said Schlick, “is—”
“My sister's son, my nephew Neumann,” responded the pastor, hesitating to lie, holy as was the motive which urged him to untruth.
“And he comes here?” began the Brigadier.
“Who knows?” returned the pastor trying to smile.
“Yes, I understand,” said Schlick, “there's a marriage beneath it all. Cousin Neumann comes to marry Cousin Lieschen. Monsieur Neumann, I felicitate you with all my heart.”
The false Neumann bowed.
That was not enough, it appeared, for Brigadier Schlick; for approaching the young man he said:
The young man gave him it, but frowned in so significant a manner that it needed almost an imperative look from the pastor to force him to continue his part; all the while, however, his hand remained perfectly calm and firm in Schlick's hand, and his eyes, which had encountered the brigadier's, never winked a bit.
“He's a brave man,” muttered the gendarme, “and I was not wrong when, seven years ago, I christened him Richard Coeur de Lion.”
He pronounced these last words loud enough for the officer to hear them; but whether they reminded him nothing of the past, or seemed to him devoid of meaning, in either case, he appeared not to comprehend.
Beside, at this moment, Lieschen entered; part of the attention of the pastor and his guest were therefore led to the young girl.
She held in her hand one of those reddish glass bottles with long neck, in form alone constituting a table ornament: she set down the bottle by her father, and only then ventured to fling a look upon the principal actors of the scene; it was evident that that look sought to divine what turn affairs had taken during her absence. The good-humor on Schlick's countenance somewhat encouraged her.
Speaking came naturally to the brigadier; so. regarding Lieschen with a roguish air, he said:
“Sixteen to seventeen years of age, young and pretty—”
Then, turning to the captain, he continued:
“Twenty-eight to thirty years, blue eyes, chestnut hair, pale tint, white teeth; as for stature, I cannot judge, but if Monsieur were standing, I would swear he'd be something like five feet four—come, that will make a charming-couple!”
“The description!” murmured the pastor and Lieschen, together,
“He has recognized me,” said the captain, inwardly.
During this time the pastor had poured out a glass of wine for the brigadier; the latter took it and, rising, said :
“In faith, my pretty miss! since I hold a glass in my hand, I can't resist: I drink to your health! To cousin Neumann! and to your happiness when married!”
Lieschen looked now at her father and then at the young man.as if to ask them what this last signified.
“Well, inquired the gendarme, “have I not done what is right? the intention was good, I swear to you.”
“To the health of my cousin Neumann, to my happiness? I do not understand,” replied the young girl, who had no idea of what had passed during her absence.
The pastor lowered his head.
This was more than the young officer could support: he rose and said in French to the brigadier:
“Monsieur, it is useless to play this comedy any longer; I am the man you seek.”
But the brigadier laid his hand on the speaker's shoulder and said, as he made him seat himself.
“Be silent; I recollect that I am a Frenchman, and I drink to the health of Cousin Neumann, betrothed to the gentle Lieschen, no other thing.”
Then out aloud he went on:
“Then to the health of Cousin Neumann!”
“Monsieur Schlick,” said the pastor, “you're a brave man!”
“But will you be silent, time and thunder! we may be heard,” grumbled the brigadier.
“That is true,” coincided Lieschen.
“I only strive to prove that a man who has been charged by the major general of the Emperor Napoleon (the brigadier touched his hat) to give him interesting news, was not a jobard (a ninny) as they say on the other side of the Rhine.”
“Oh, Monsieur Schlick!” Lieschen could not help saying, “be grateful.”
“Hush! and another time, understand,” said the brigadier still lower; “you will not have to do with the good man Schlick. Now,” added he, “I go to tell my comrades that here, where I believed to find a conspirator, I discovered an intended husband; only,” continued he lowering his voice anew, “I counsel, the bridegroom to hasten his wedding arrangements!”
“Oh, dear Monsieur Schlick!” murmured the young girl clasping her hands in token of thanks.
“Silence!” resumed the brigadier: “hide Monsieur where you will, it little matters, but hide him, and let him not go out until every one is abed. Now, good evening. Monsieur le Pastor! good evening. Mademoiselle Lieschen! good evening, Cousin Neumann!”
And, after having made a last salute accompanied by a sign, the brigadier went out.
The actors in this scene half comic, half dramatic, which had taken place, followed the gendarme with their eyes till he had left the chamber, whose door closed behind him; then, without saying one word, with heaving chest, the pastor went and closed the shutters and the window through which the brigadier had made his entry: from thence, through the shutters, which he held for an instant half opened, he saw the gendarme speak with his two men.
During this time, Lieschen approached the officer.
“Oh, unfortunate that I am!” said she; “I have nearly caused your capture, for any other than Schlick would have arrested you!”
“Yes,” said the pastor, “but thanks to him you are saved.”
“Thanks, thanks a hundred times, my father!” said the officer smiling and kissing the pastor's hand.
“Captain Richard kissing the hands of Margaret's father!” murmured Lieschen, “my God, is it then by mercy and not anger he has come hither?”
“Now, Monsieur, believe me,” said the pastor; “follow the advice given by Schlick.”
Then, pointing to Margaret's chamber, he added:
“Take this key, ascend to that chamber and cross the threshold with respect, for it is the chamber of a poor martyr—go and stay there till called.”
“Thanks,” said the young man; “first, two words—I may be obliged to fly without seeing you, without having time to speak to you—”
“Well, Monsieur?” said the pastor, who, as the danger seemed less imminent, felt his hate against the French revive.
“That man, the brigadier, a short time since recalled to your mind that you had dwelt in Westphalia.”
“Then in Bavaria.”
“He even pronounced the name of the village of Abensberg.”
“Did you really reside in Abensberg?”
“Oh, Heaven!” said Lieschen, “what is he going to say?”
And she drew near to the young man, ready to stop him if she saw him proceed too far.
“At Abensberg,” continued the Captain, did you have, among your brethren, a worthy man named Stiller?”
Lieschen could scarce restrain a cry: she laid her hand on the young man's arm, but he appeared not to comprehend.
“Stiller, Stiller!” repeated the pastor, regarding the officer in astonishment.
“I did know him,” said the pastor.
“Monsieur,” whispered Lieschen, “ think of the danger you run in not following the brigadier's advice.”
“Another word. Mademoiselle, for mercy's sake.”
Then once more addressing the pastor, the officer said:
“Monsieur, I am in the research of M. Stiller, whom I am called near by an important affair: will I find him near Abensberg?”
“What do you want with him?” demanded the pastor in an altered voice.
“Pardon me,” rejoined the young man, “but it concerns a secret not my own; I cannot therefore do anything other than repeat my question.”
And despite the pressure of Lieschen's hand, he insisted:
“Will I still find him in Abensberg, or has he died from his wound?”
“Father!” said the young girl placing a finger on her mouth to supplicate the pastor to keep silent.
The pastor made a sign of his head, saying to his daughter: “Yes, rest easy, my child!” and to the young man:
“Pastor Stiller died from the effects of his wound.”
“Dead!” said the young man in a semi-audible voice; “dead! ”
Then, aloud, he inquired:
“But had he not a daughter?”
Lieschen leaned on the back of a chair, believing she would swoon.
“He had two, Monsieur,” responded the pastor; “of which one would you speak ?”
“Of his daughter Margaret, Monsieur?” Lieschen covered her mouth with both her hands to smother a cry.
The pastor became frightfully pale.
“You know,” said he, “you know he had a daughter Margaret?”
“Yea I know it, Monsieur.”
Then hesitatingly, for he felt that his brother's soul the brother whom he loved so well, was wholly in the question he was about to make, he asked:
“And is his daughter Margaret happy?”
“Oh, truly happy, Monsieur!' 'ejaculated the pastor; “happier than in this world—she is in heaven!”
“Dead also!” murmured the young man, dropping his head.
After an instant's silence, taking the candle from Lieschen's hands, be said:
“That is all, Monsieur; I have nothing more to ask you.”
It was then the pastor who in his turn made a movement to retain his guest; but Lieschen passed between them.
“Father,” said she, “do not forget that Monsieur ought to be concealed, that his life is in danger—in the name of heaven. Monsieur,” continued she, pushing the young man toward the staircase, “in the name of heaven, remain not a minute longer here, but go up to my sister's room!”
The young man stopped astonished.
“Yes, go up,” said she; “and when you are there, unfortunate, look at a portrait which is between the two windows, and fly!”
The officer saw Lieschen's features so strangely affected that he thought not to disobey, divining that there passed in the heart of the young girl and the old man, something which, at this moment at least could not be explained to him.
He let himself, therefore, be dragged away by Lieschen and, whilst the old man—now regarding Lieschen, anon his guest—was asking himself who the latter could be, and what interest he had in Pastor Stiller's research, he opened the door and disappeared.
Hardly had the door swung to behind him. than Lieschen felt her strength fail her, and fell upon a chair.
The pastor went to her and said, uplifting his eyes:
“My God, thanks to Thee, one has been saved! it now must be the other!”
And extending his hand to Lieschen, he continued:
“Come, my child, have courage!”
“What do you mean, father?” demanded the young maiden, quickly raising her head.
“I mean, my poor child, that you love that young man.”
“Him?” ejaculated Lieschen in terror.
“Yes, him,” repeated the old man.
“Oh, no, father!” cried Lieschen, “I affirm that you are wrong.”
“Why utter an untruth. Lieschen? you know that it is useless with me.”
“Oh, I speak the truth, father—or, at least, I will swear one thing to you.”
“You will swear?”
“Yes—by my sister Margaret's grave!”
“And what would you swear, child, by so holy an oath?”
“That that young man shall be nothing to me.”
“Do you not love him?”
“I not only do not love him, but furthermore, he makes me dread him.”
“Father, for heaven's sake, speak no more of him.”
“On the contrary, let us speak of him. Why do you dread him ?”
“For nothing—I know not what I say—I am mad!”
“But, in short—”
In lieu of answering, Lieschen made a step backward, fixing her startled eyes on the door.
“Monsieur Schlick, father!” stammered she; “what is he going to do?”
The pastor turned and perceived, in truth, that the brigadier was standing on the threshold.
SCHLICK wore an embarrassed air; he held his musketoon in his hand, denoting a more hostile intention than the first time, inasmuch, as, previously, he had appeared without arms.
The pastor regarded him with an interrogating eye.
“Ah, yes,” said Schlick, “you believed you were rid of me; Monsieur Waldeck ! and I believed so too; but you know man proposes and God disposes.”
“Yes. I know that; but I am ignorant—”
'“What brought me back, I understand. Zounds, that's hard to tell.”
“Say it. Monsieur Schlick.”
“Monsieur le Pastor, you have before your eyes the most embarrassed man, decidedly, in all the Rhenish Confederation.”
“Embarrassed, how's that?” demanded the pastor, while Lieschen, breathless, breathed in some sort from the words which came from the brigadier's lips.
“I told you,” resumed Schlick, “that I was awaiting fuller information, M. le Pastor?”
“Well, on going to my house, I found it there.”
Then approaching the pastor, he said:
“It appears that he whom we seek is a more dangerous person than I thought!”
“My God,” murmured Lieschen, ''all is not over?”
“More dangerous than you thought?” repeated the old man.
“So dangerous, Monsieur Waldeck, that a price is set on his head.”
Lieschen flung a rapid glance around the chamber; but fleeting as was that look, the brigadier intercepted it in its passage as he would have caught a criminal.
“It is well,” said he to himself, “my man has not departed yet!”
“A price on his head?” demanded the pastor, who, knowing Brigadier Schlick's weakness with regard to money, knew that the struggle had commenced.
“Two thousand thalers! nothing but that, Monsieur Waldeck.”
“Well?” said the pastor, in some sort leaving the road of conversation free to the gendarme.
“Well, I say that he who captures him will have a good sum: that's what I say.”
Lieschen, pale as a corpse, exchanged a fearing look with her father.
“Without reckoning the promotion,” added the brigadier.
“Promotion?” echoed the pastor.
“Certainly! you can understand, M. Waldeck, if it is a brigadier who arrests the conspirator, he would be made quartermaster: if it is a quartermaster, he would be made sublieutenant: but as he may not be taken—”
“Sclilick! what do you say?”
“I say that he may not be taken. Monsieur Waldeck; if he was not here, he might be a long way off—and I returned to make an observalion, of which you will comprehend all the justness.”
“Well, but I think I should get the money and promotion as well as another.”
“Unfortunate!” exclaimed the pastor.
Lieschen said not a word, but she extended her clasped hands toward the brigadier.
“Plague on it!” resumed Scblick,”onels a gendarme, M. le Pastor, and two thousand thalers is twelve years' salary.”
“Oh, and you so generous but now. Monsieur Schlick, for a pitiful sum—”
“Deuce take it! Monsieur Waldeck, how you go on! two thousand thalers are not a pitiful sum; and at the time when I told stories to the Major General, I often risked being hung for five hundred.”
“But,” cried the pastor, “that man whose head is priced, is one of your old friends in arms!”
“I know that well enough,” returned Schlick, “and that's what makes me so troubled.”
Lieschen recovered some hope.
“And in cold blood, M. Schlick, you would have him shot.”
The young girl felt a shudder thrill through her body.
“Zounds, I am in despair Monsieur Waldeck!” rejoined the brigadier, “But what would you have me do? money is scarce in these times, and you may comprehend—to have but twelve steps to go to pick up on the thirteenth a bag of two thousand thalers—may the devil choke me, but it's tempting!”
And saying these words, the gendarme, that there might be no doubt, left to the pastor, carried his eyes to the room door.
“Oh, you, you, Monsieur Schlick, so honest a man!” murmured Lieschen.
“Eh! just so, Mademoiselle,” interposed Schlick, “I remain honest since I am a gendarme, whose duty it is to arrest men.”
“Oh, gendarme though you are, you have a heart !” cried the young girl.
“Yes, certainly I have a heart. Mademoiselle Lieschen, but at the same time I have a wife to maintain, a daughter to marry; one cannot. marry daughters without dowry, you know, Monsieur Waldeck, you who deprive yourself of everything to amass a dowry for Mademoiselle Lieschen; and the two thousand thalers would be my daughter's dowry.”
“You forget. Monsieur Schlick, that part of that sum goes to your companions.”
“Not the least in the world; the Grand Duke's proclamation reads 'To him who arrests—' But my two companions are lying down; I took care not to arouse them, and as it is I alone who will arrest the conspirator, the whole sum will be mine.”
“Father!” whispered Lieschen in the pastor's ear, “I shall never marry.”
The pastor gazed on his child with profound tenderness.
“And you told me you loved him not!” replied he.
Turning to the gendarme, he said:
“I am doing so. M. le Pastor; but permit me, while listening, not to lose sight of that door—there that will do (he turned to face the door), I can see perfectly, and can hear to a marvel.”
“You regret what you do, do you not?”
“I am in despair,” responded the brigadier.
“And you could not willingly bring to the scaffold a man, formerly your countryman, your old brother in arms?”
“I could not console myself. Monsieur Waldeck—never!”
“So that, if you could gain the two thousand thalers without arresting this unfortunate proscribed—”
“Pity is not paid, Monsieur le Pastor.”
“Sometimes, Monsieur Schlick.”
“Who does it ? ”
“Those for whom pity is not solely a virtue, but, beside, a duty.”
“Oh, father!” said Lieschen, joyfully.
“If, for instance, I were to give you the two thousand thalers?”
“Yes, me, to save this man's life.”
“There remains the promotion. Monsieur Waldeck.”
“Oh, you can't be sure of promotion.”
“Well, Monsieur Waldeck, on my honor! as I wish to make a sacrifice on my side, I'll throw aside the promotion.”
“And you will let him escape—the man you pursue?”
“That is to say, Monsieur Waldeck,” resumed the gendarme, smiling, “that if you give me two thousand thalers, which would be so handsome on your part, and would plunge me into so profound an admiration, that you will only have to indicate to which quarter I am to turn my head and for how long a time you desire me to keep my eyes closed.”
“My child,” said the pastor to Lieschen, “here's the key—you know where the money is—”
“Father, father!” exclaimed the young girl, pressing her lips to the pastor's hand.
“One moment. Monsieur Waldeck,” said Schlick.
“Wbat, do you retract?” demanded the pastor.
“Oh, heaven!” murmured the girl.
“No,” said Schlick, “a word is a word, and the bargain is made; only I wish you to know that I am not robbing you of two thousand thalers. Here's the order in question.”
And placing upon the table, but in reach of his hand, the carbine which he had laid down an instant before, he drew from his pocket a paper impressed with the government seal, and read:
“There will be counted out two thousand thalers to any agent of the government who will apprehend and place in the hands of the authority the body of CAPTAIN RICHARD.”
“Oh,” cried Lieschen in despair, “all is lost!”
“Captain Richard?” repeated the pastor, becoming so pale that he seemed about to die; “Captain Richard ! that's not the name, is it?”
“Oh, but so it is!” said Schlick; “there it is in all the letters—read!”
“Captain Richard?” said the pastor, darting upon the carabine which the brigadier had left on the table and grasping it with a movement so rapid that the gendarme had not time to oppose it. “Then he is not for you, but for me.”
And he rushed to the stair-case; but upon the first step, on her knees, was Lieschen, who, catching him around the body, cried to him:
“My father, in the name of your daughter Margaret, who pardoned as she died—”
“Oh, oh!” muttered Schlick, “what's all this?”
There was an instant's pause; then the pastor let the carabine fall slowly from his left hand while with his right, presenting to Lieschen the key of the closet, he said:
“Go, my child, do as prompts thy heart and God's will!”
“Oh,” cried Lieschen, “father, father, to you all my love, to you all my life.”
And it was now the pastor who, almost swooning, fell powerless into a chair before the eyes of the astonished gendarme.
During this time, the door of Margaret's room, which was opened quickly, closed slowly.
“Monsieur Schlick,” said the pastor, wiping from his forehead the sweat which bore witness to the strife which had taken place within him, “Monsieur Schlick, you have your sum less three thalers, however; for I gave away those three thalers in alms this morning; they may have brought a blessing to me, since this evening I have saved the life of a fellow creature.”
“Three thalers?” said Schlick; “ah, in faith. Monsieur Waldeck, I don't think that anything to a good action. And how will I explain to my wife the absence of those three thalers? If I were still a Frenchman, I would say I had eaten them; I am a German, I'll tell her I drank them.”
The brigadier had just completed this reflection, which indicated the profound study he had made on the temperament of the two people to which be had turn by turn belonged, when Lieschen entered, holding the bag in her hands.
“Here's the money,” said she, panting with her haste in bringing it.
“Thanks,” said the brigadier, taking the bag from Lieschen's hands; “ If you were less pretty, I should feel remorse; but with a face like yours, God be thanked, there's no need of dowry.”
“Monsieur Schlick,” said the pastor gravely, “I've your word this time?”
“Oh, be assured. Monsieur Waldeck—only, invite Cousin Neumann to gain Abensberg speedily, where you should join him with that pretty girl there to celebrate the nuptials.”
At the same time that the door of the yard closed behind him, the one on the staircase opened to give passage to the captain; but Lieschen and the pastor only saw the brigadier going out.
Moreover, Schlick had scarce disappeared ere Lieschen, throwing herself into the pastor's arms, exclaimed:
“Oh, father, how good, how great you are!”
The old man pressed his child for an instant to his heart, with a melancholy smile; then, pushing her gently from him. he said:
“Stay, I must now call that man.”
“But not a word, father, will you?” said Lieschen, “not a reproach.”
“Oh, rest tranquil, my child,” said the pastor, “where would, then, be the merit of what I did?”
And, as he raised his head to summon Captain Richard, he perceived him bending over the banisters—all his blood flowed back to his heart.
“Were you there. Monsieur?” began he.
“Yes,” said the young man; “I have heard all, and must say to you, as was just now said by your daughter, 'Oh, Monsieur Stiller, how good, how great you are!' ”
“And you know who I am, then?”
“That portrait between the two windows—”
“You recognized it, Monsieur?”
The young man drew a medallion from his pocket.
“Thanks to this miniature which my brother left me on dying, with the desire for me to seek out Pastor Stiller and his daughter Margaret, to whom he gives his fortune, not in reparation, but in expiation of the evil he had done.”
“So, Monsieur,” cried Lieschen, “Captain Richard—is”
“We were two brothers, dear Lieschen, two twin brothers, both soldiers, both captains, resembling one another to that degree that we could only be distinguished by our uniforms, and that Schlick, who knew my brother, just now, as you may have seen, confounded me with him; it was my brother who was the guilty one, and it was me he charged, when dying, to ask his pardon.”
“Oh, father! father!” murmured Lieschen, falling with clasped hands at the old man's feet.
Eight days afterward, Pastor Stiller received a letter from Amsterdam which contained these words only:
“Come as soon as possible to join me with Lieschen, my father! I am in safety. “LOUIS RICHARD.”