Hortense was compelled to conform to this military command, and depart without arranging her affairs or making any preparations for her journey. Her only possession consisted of jewelry, and this she of course intended to take with her. But she was warned that a troop of enraged Bourbonists, who knew of her approaching departure, had quitted Paris to lie in wait for her on her road, “in order to rob her of the millions in her custody.”
The queen was warned to take no money or articles of value with her, but only that which was absolutely necessary.
General de Mueffling offered her an escort of his soldiers; Hortense declined this offer, but requested that an Austrian officer might be allowed to accompany her for the protection of herself and children on the journey. Count de Boyna, adjutant of Prince Schwartzenberg, was selected for this purpose.
On the evening of the 17th of July, 1815, the Duchess of St. Leu took her departure. She left her faithful friend Louise de Cochelet in Paris to arrange her affairs, and assure the safe-keeping of her jewelry. Accompanied only by her equerry, M. de Marmold, Count Boyna, her children, her maid, and a man-servant, she who had been a queen left Paris to go into exile.
It was a sorrowful journey that Hortense now made through her beloved France, that she could no longer call her country, and that now seemed as ill-disposed toward the emperor and his family as it had once passionately loved them.
In these days of political persecution, the Bonapartists had everywhere hidden themselves in obscure places, or concealed their real disposition beneath the mask of Bourbonism. Those whom Hortense met on her journey were therefore all royalists, who thought they could give no better testimony to their patriotism than by persecuting with cries of scorn, with gestures of hatred, and with loud curses, the woman whose only crime was that she bore the name of him whom France had once adored, and whom the royalists hated.
Count Boyna was more than once compelled to protect Hortense and her children against the furious attacks of royalists—the stranger against her own countrymen! In Dijon, Count Boyna had found it necessary to call on the Austrian military stationed there for assistance in protecting the duchess and her children from the attacks of an infuriated crowd, led by royal guards and beautiful ladies of rank, whose hair was adorned with the lilies of the Bourbons.
[Footnote 55: Cochelet, vol. iii, p. 289.]
Dispirited and broken down by all she had seen and experienced, Hortense at last reached Geneva, happy at the prospect of being able to retire to her little estate of Pregny, to repose after the storms of life. But this refuge was also to be refused her. The French ambassador in Switzerland, who resided in Geneva, informed the authorities of that city that his government would not tolerate the queen’s sojourn so near the French boundary, and demanded that she should depart. The authorities of Geneva complied with this demand, and ordered the Duchess of St. Leu to leave the city immediately.