Ere long Bonaparte ceased to be satisfied with merely getting letters from his Josephine. He desired to have her, in person, with him; and hardly had the tempest of war begun to lull, ere the general summoned his beloved to his side at Milan. She obeyed his call with rapture, and hastened to Italy to join him. Now came proud days of triumph and gratified affection. All Italy hailed Bonaparte as the conquering hero; all Italy did homage to the woman who bore his name, and whose incomparable fascination and amiability, gracefulness and beauty, won all hearts. Her life now resembled a magnificent, glorified, triumphal pageant; a dazzling fairy festival; a tale from the “Arabian Nights” that had become reality, with Josephine for its enchanted heroine, sparkling with stars, and gleaming with golden sunshine.
VICISSITUDES OF DESTINY.
Resplendent was the triumphal procession with which Bonaparte made his proud entry into Paris, on his return from Italy. In the front courtyard of the Luxembourg, the palace occupied by the Corps Legislatif, was erected a vast amphitheatre, in which sat all the high authorities of France; in the centre of the amphitheatre stood the altar of the country, surmounted by three gigantic statues, representing Freedom, Equality, and Peace. As Bonaparte stepped into this space, all the dense crowd that occupied the seats of the amphitheatre rose to their feet with uncovered heads, to hail the conqueror of Italy, and the windows of the palace were thronged with handsomely dressed ladies, who waved welcome to the young hero with their handkerchiefs. But suddenly this splendid festival was marred by a serious mischance. An officer of the Directory, who, the better to satisfy his curiosity, had clambered up on the scaffolding of the right-side wing of the palace, then undergoing extension, fell from it, and struck the ground almost at Napoleon’s feet. A shout of terror burst almost simultaneously from a thousand throats, and the ladies turned pale and shrank back, shuddering, from the windows. The palace, which a moment before had exhibited such a wealth of adornment in these living flowers, now stood there bare, with empty, gaping casements. A perceptible thrill ran through the ranks of the Corps Legislatif, and here and there the whisper passed that this fall of an officer portended the early overthrow of the Directory itself, and that it, too, would soon, like the unfortunate victim of the accident, be lying in its death agonies at the feet of General Bonaparte.
But the Directory, nevertheless, hastened to give the victor of Arcola new fetes every day; and when these fetes were over, and Bonaparte, fatigued with the speeches, the festivities, the toasts, etc., would be on his way returning homeward, there was the populace of Paris, who beset his path in crowds, to greet him with hearty cheers; and these persistent friends he had to recognize, with smiles and shakings of the hand, or with a nod and a pleasant glance.