That same evening, Josephine received from her husband his full consent to the marriage of her daughter to Louis Bonaparte.
On that very evening, too, Josephine informed her daughter that Duroc had not withstood the test, and that he had now relinquished her, through ambition, as, through ambition, he had previously feigned to love her.
Hortense gazed at her mother with tearless eyes. She had not a word of complaint or reproach to utter; she was conscious merely that a thunder-bolt had just fallen, and had forever dashed to atoms her love, her hopes, her future, and her happiness.
But she no longer had the strength and the will to escape the evil that had flung its meshes around her; she submitted meekly to it. She had been betrayed by love itself; and what cared she now for her future, her embittered, bloomless, scentless life, when he had deceived her —he, the only one whom she had loved?
The next morning Hortense stepped, self-possessed and smiling, into Josephine’s private cabinet, and declared that she was ready to fulfil her mother’s wishes and marry Louis Bonaparte.
Josephine clasped her in her arms, with exclamations of delight. She little knew what a night of anguish, of wailing, of tears, and of despair, Hortense had struggled through, or that her present smiling unconcern was nothing more than the dull hopelessness of a worn-out heart. She did not see that Hortense smiled now only in order that Duroc should not observe that she suffered. Her love for him was dead, but her maidenly pride had survived, and it dried her tears, and conjured up a smile to her struggling lips; it, too, enabled her to declare that she was ready to accept the husband whom her mother might present to her.
Thus, Josephine had accomplished her purpose; she had made one of Bonaparte’s brothers her son. Now there remained the question whether she should attain her other aim through that son, and whether she should find in him a support against the intrigues of the other brothers of the first consul.
CONSUL AND KING.
There was only two days’ interval between the betrothal of the young couple and their wedding; and on the 7th of January, 1802, Hortense was married to Louis Bonaparte, the youngest brother but one of the first consul. Bonaparte, who contented himself with the civil ceremony, and had never given his own union with Josephine the sanction of the Church, was less careless and unconcerned with regard to this youthful alliance, which had, indeed, great need of the blessing of Heaven, in order to prove a source of any good fortune to the young couple. Perhaps he reasoned that the consciousness of the indissoluble character of their union would lead them to an honorable and upright effort for a mutual inclination; perhaps it was because he simply wished to render their separation impossible. Cardinal Caprara was called into the Tuileries, after the civil ceremony concluded, and had to bestow the blessing of God and of the Church upon the bride and bridegroom.