The emperor assured his daughter’s ambassador that he had reason to hope for the best for her, but that he was powerless to insist on any action in her behalf.
“I love my daughter,” said the good emperor, “and I love my son-in-law, and I am ready to shed my heart’s blood for them.”
“Majesty,” said the duke, interrupting him, “no such sacrifice is required at your hands.”
“I am ready to shed my blood for them,” continued the emperor, “to sacrifice my life for them, and I repeat it, I have promised the allies to do nothing except in conjunction with them, and to consent to all they determine. Moreover, my minister, Count Metternich, is at this moment with them, and I shall ratify everything which he has signed.”
[Footnote 30: Bourrienne, vol. x., p. 129.]
But the emperor still hoped that that which Metternich should sign for him, would be the declaration that the little King of Rome was to be the King of France.
But the zeal of the royalists was destined to annihilate this hope.
The Emperor of Russia had now taken up his residence in Talleyrand’s house. He had yielded to the entreaties of the shrewd French diplomat, who well knew how much easier it would be to bend the will of the Agamemnon of the holy alliance to his wishes, when he should have him in hand, as it were, day and night. In offering the emperor his hospitality, it was Talleyrand’s intention to make him his prisoner, body and soul, and to use him to his own advantage.
[Footnote 31: Memoires d’une Femme de Qualite.]
It was therefore to Talleyrand that Countess Ducayla hastened to concert measures with the Bonapartist of yesterday, who had transformed himself into the zealous legitimist of to-day.
Talleyrand undertook to secure the countess an audience with the Russian emperor, and he succeeded.
While conducting the beautiful countess to the czar’s cabinet, Talleyrand whispered in her ear: “Imitate Madame de Lemalle—endeavor to make a great stroke. The emperor is gallant, and what he denies to diplomacy he may, perhaps, accord to the ladies.”
He left her at the door, and the countess entered the emperor’s cabinet alone. She no sooner saw him, than she sank on her knees, and stretched out her arms.
With a knightly courtesy, the emperor immediately hastened forward to assist her to rise.
“What are you doing?” asked he, almost in alarm. “A noble lady never has occasion to bend the knee to a cavalier.”
“Sire,” exclaimed the countess, “I kneel before you, because it is my purpose to implore of your majesty the happiness which you alone can restore to us; it will be a double pleasure to possess Louis XVIII. once more, when Alexander I. shall have given him to us!”
“Is it then true that the French people are still devoted to the Bourbon family?”
“Yes, sire, they are our only hope; on them we bestow our whole love!”