Queen Hortense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Queen Hortense.

On one occasion a nightingale, singing in the bushes beneath his window, had disturbed his rest; on the following morning he caused the general alarm to be sounded, and two battalions of Croats to be drawn up in the park, to begin a campaign against the poor nightingale, who had dared to disturb his repose.

On another occasion, Junot fancied he had discovered a grand conspiracy of all the sheep of Illyria; against this conspiracy he brought the vigilance of the police, all the means of the administration, and the whole severity of the law, into requisition for its suppression.

At another time, he suddenly became desperately enamoured of a beautiful Greek girl, who belonged to his household.  Upon her refusal to meet his advances favorably, a passionate desperation took possession of Junot, and he determined to set fire to his palace, and perish with his love in the flames.  Fortunately, his purpose was discovered, and the fire he had kindled stifled at once.

He would suddenly be overcome with a passionate distaste for the grandeur and splendor that surrounded him, and long to lay aside his brilliant position, and fly to the retirement of an humble and obscure life.

It was his dearest wish to become a peasant, and be able to live in a hut; and, as there was no one who had the right to divest him of his high dignities and grant his desire, he formed the resolution to divest himself of this oppressive grandeur, by the exercise of his own fulness of power, and to withdraw himself from the annoyances imposed upon him by his high position.

Under the pretence of visiting the provinces, he left Trieste, to lead for a few weeks an entirely new life—­a life that seemed, for a brief period, to soothe his excited mind.  He arrived, almost incognito, in the little city of Gorizia, and demanded to be conducted to the most unpretending establishment to which humble and honest laborers were in the habit of resorting for refreshment and relaxation.  He was directed to an establishment called the Ice-house, a place to which poor daily laborers resorted, to repose after the labors of the day, and refresh themselves with a glass of beer or wine.

In this Ice-house the governor of Illyria now took up his abode.  He seldom quitted it, either by day or night; and here, like Haroun-al-Raschid, he took part in the harmless merriment of happy and contented poverty.  And here this poor man was to find a last delight, a last consolation; here he was to find a last friend.

This last friend of the Duke d’Abrantes—­this Pylades of the poor Orestes—­was—­a madman!—­a poor simpleton, of good family, who was so good-humored and harmless that he was allowed to go at large, and free scope given to his innocent freaks.  He, however, possessed a kind of droll, pointed wit, which he sometimes brought to bear most effectively, sparing neither rank nor position.  The half-biting, half-droll remarks of this Diogenes

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Queen Hortense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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