Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 285 pages of information about Queen Hortense.

Napoleon thanked him with a kindly glance, and extended his hand to bid him adieu.

As Talma approached the emperor, a carriage was heard driving up in front of the house.  It was Letitia, the emperor’s mother, who had come to take leave of her son.  Talma stood still, in breathless suspense; in his heart he thanked Providence for permitting him to witness this leave-taking.

“Madame mere” walked past Talma in silence, and without observing him.  She saw only her son, who stood in the middle of the room, his sombre and flashing glance fastened on her with an unutterable expression.  Now they stood face to face, mother and son.  The emperor’s countenance remained immovable as though hewn out of marble.

They stood face to face in silence, but two great tears slowly trickled down the mother’s cheeks.  Talma stood in the background, weeping bitterly.  Napoleon remained unmoved.  Letitia now raised both hands and extended them to the emperor.  “Adieu, my son!” said she, in full and sonorous tones.

Napoleon pressed her hands in his own, and gazed at her long and fixedly; and then, with the same firmness, he said:  “My mother, adieu!”

Once more they gazed at each other; then the emperor let her hand fall.  Letitia turned to go, and at this moment General Bertrand appeared at the door to announce that all was prepared for the journey[54].

[Footnote 54:  This leave-taking was exactly as above described, and Talma himself narrated it to Louise de Cochelet.  See her Memoires, vol. iii, P. 173.]

BOOK IV.

THE DUCHESS OF ST. LEU.

CHAPTER I.

THE BANISHMENT OF THE DUCHESS OF ST. LEU.

For the second time, the Bourbons had entered Paris under the protection of the allies, and Louis XVIII. was once more King of France.  But this time he did not return with his former mild and conciliatory disposition.  He came to punish and to reward; he came unaccompanied by mercy.  The old generals and marshals of the empire, who had not been able to resist their chieftain’s call, were now banished, degraded, or executed.  Ney and Labedoyere paid for their fidelity to the emperor with their blood; and all who were in any way connected with the Bonapartes were relentlessly pursued.  The calumnies that had been circulated in 1814 against the Duchess of St. Leu were now to bear bitter fruit.  These were the dragon’s teeth from which the armed warriors had sprung, who now levelled their swords at the breast of a defenceless woman.

King Louis had returned to the throne of his fathers, but he had not forgotten that he had been told on his flight:  “The Duchess of St. Leu is to blame for all!  Her intrigues have brought Napoleon back!” Now that he was again king, he thought of it, and determined to punish her.  He requested it of Alexander, as a favor, that he should this time not call on the Duchess of St. Leu.

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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