Queen Hortense eBook

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

Yet, not one word or one glance had thus far been interchanged by the young couple.  It was in silence that they stepped, after the ceremonies were over, into the carriage that bore them to their new home, in the same small residence in the Rue de la Victoire which her mother had occupied in the first happy weeks of her youthful union with Bonaparte.

Now, another young, newly-married pair were making their entry into this dwelling, but love did not enter with them; affection and happiness did not shine in their faces, as had been the case with Bonaparte and Josephine.  The eyes of Hortense were dimmed with tears, and the countenance of her young husband was dark and gloomy.  For, on his side, he, too, felt no love for this young woman; and, as she never forgave him for having accepted her hand, although he knew that she loved another, he, in like manner, could never forgive her having consented to be his wife, although he had not been the one to solicit it, and although he had never told her that he loved her.  Both had bowed to the will of him who gave the law, not merely to all France, but also to his own family, and who had already become the lord and master of the republic.  Both had married through obedience, not for love; and the consciousness of this compulsion rose like an impassable wall between these two otherwise tender and confiding young hearts.  In the consciousness of this compulsion, too, they would not even try to love one another, or find in each other’s society the happiness that they were forbidden to seek elsewhere.

Pale and mournful, in splendid attire, but with a heavy heart, did Hortense make her appearance at the fetes which were given in honor of her marriage; and it was with a beclouded brow and averted face that Louis Bonaparte received the customary congratulations.  While every one around them exhibited a cheerful and joyous bearing, while parties were given in their honor, and people danced and sang, the young couple only, of all present, were dull and sad.  Louis avoided speaking to Hortense, and she turned her gaze away from him, possibly so that he might not read in it her deep and angry aversion.

But she had to accept her lot; and, since she was thus indissolubly bound up with another, she had to try to live with that other.  Hortense, externally so gentle and yielding, so full of maiden coyness and delicacy, nevertheless possessed a strong and resolute soul, and, in the noble pride of her wounded heart, was unwilling to give any one the right to pity her.  Her soul wept, but she restrained her tears and still tried to smile, were it only that Duroc might not perceive the traces of her grief upon her sunken cheeks.  She had torn this love from her heart, and she rebuked herself that it had left a wound.  She laid claim to happiness no more; but her youth, her proud self-respect, revolted at the idea of continuing to be the slave of misfortune henceforth, and so she formed her firm resolve, saying to herself, with a melancholy smile, “I must manage to be happy, without happiness.  Let me try!”

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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