“Are you aware,” exclaimed Descourtis, as he rushed into the apartment of Cambaceres, who was at that moment conversing with the Count de Pere, “have you already been informed that this ceremony is really to take place to-morrow?”
“Yes, to-morrow is the fated day. To-morrow we are to be delivered over to the daggers of fanatics.”
“Is this the pardon that was promised us?”
“As for that,” exclaimed the Count de Pere (a good royalist), “I was not aware that there was an article in the constitution forbidding the reinterment of the mortal remains of the royal pair. The proceeding will be perfectly lawful.”
“It is their purpose to infuriate the populace,” exclaimed Descourtis, pale with inward agitation. “Old recollections are to be recalled and a mute accusation hurled at us. But we shall some day be restored to power again, and then we will remember also!”
Cambaceres, who had listened to this conversation in silence, now stepped forward, and, taking Descourtis’s hand in his own, pressed it tenderly.
“Ah, my friend,” said he, in sad and solemn tones, “I would we were permitted to march behind the funeral-car in mourning-robes to-morrow! We owe this proof of repentance to France and to ourselves!”
The solemn funeral celebration took place on the following day. All Paris took part in it. Every one, even the old republicans, the Bonapartists as well as the royalists, joined the funeral procession, in order to testify that they had abandoned the past and were repentant.
Slowly and solemnly, amid the ringing of all the bells, the roll of the drum, the thunders of artillery, and the chants of the clergy, the procession moved onward.
The golden crown, which hung suspended over the funeral-car, shone lustrously in the sunlight. It had fallen from the heads of the royal pair while they still lived; it now adorned them in death.
Slowly and solemnly the procession moved onward; it had arrived at the Boulevards which separates the two streets of Montmartre. Suddenly a terrible, thousand-voiced cry of horror burst upon the air.
The crown, which hung suspended over the funeral-car, had fallen down, touching the coffins with a dismal sound, and then broke into fragments on the glittering snow of the street.
This occurred on the 21st of January; two months later, at the same hour, and on the same day, the crown of Louis XVIII. fell from his head, and Napoleon placed it on his own!
NAPOLEON’S RETURN FROM ELBA.
A cry of tremendous import reverberated through Paris, all France, and all Europe, in the first days of March, 1815. Napoleon, it was said, had quitted Elba, and would soon arrive in France!
The royalists heard it with dismay, the Bonapartists with a delight that they hardly took the pains to conceal.