In the Tuileries the emperor found all his old ministers, his generals, and his courtiers, assembled. All were desirous of seeing and greeting him. An immense concourse of people surged around the entrance on the stair-ways and in the halls.
Borne aloft on the arms and shoulders of the people, the emperor was carried up the stairway, and into his apartments; and, while shouts of joy were resounding within, the thousands without joined the more fortunate ones who had borne the emperor to his apartments, and rent the air with exulting cries of “Vive l’empereur!”
In his cabinet, to which Napoleon immediately repaired, he was received by Queen Julia, wife of Joseph Bonaparte, and Queen Hortense, who had abandoned her place of concealment, and hurried to the Tuileries to salute the emperor.
Napoleon greeted Hortense coldly, he inquired briefly after the health of her sons, and then added, almost severely: “You have placed my nephews in a false position, by permitting them to remain in the midst of my enemies.”
Hortense turned pale, and her eyes filled with tears. The emperor seemed not to notice it. “You have accepted the friendship of my enemies,” said he, “and have placed yourself under obligations to the Bourbons. I depend on Eugene; I hope he will soon be here. I wrote to him from Lyons.”
This was the reception Hortense received from the emperor. He was angry with her for having remained in France, and at the same time the flying Bourbons, who were on their way to Holland, said of her: “The Duchess of St. Leu is to blame for all! Her intrigues alone have brought Napoleon back to Paris.”
THE HUNDRED DAYS.
The hundred days that followed the emperor’s return are like a myth of the olden time, like a poem of Homer, in which heroes destroy worlds with a blow of the hand, and raise armies out of the ground with a stamp of the foot; in which nations perish, and new ones are born within the space of a minute.
These hundred days stand in history as a giant era, and these hundred days of the restored empire were replete with all the earth can offer of fortune, of magnificence, of glory, and of victory, as well as of all that the earth contains that is disgraceful, miserable, traitorous, and perfidious.
Wondrous and brilliant was their commencement. All France seemed to hail the emperor’s return with exultation. Every one hastened to assure him of his unchangeable fidelity, and to persuade him that they had only obeyed the Bourbons under compulsion.
The old splendor of the empire once more prevailed in the Tuileries, where the emperor now held his glittering court again. There was, however, this difference: Queen Hortense now did the honors of the court, in the place of the Empress Marie Louise, who had not returned with her husband; and the emperor could not now show the people his own son, but could only point to his two nephews, the sons of Hortense.