“You must see the Emperor of Russia, because he so much desires it. I conjure you, on my knees, to do me this favor! The emperor conducts himself so handsomely that every one is constrained to respect him; one forgets that he is the conqueror, and can only remember him as the protector. He seems to be the refuge of all those who have lost all, and are in distress. His conduct is admirable; he receives none but business calls, and such others as are absolutely necessary. The fair ladies of the Faubourg St. Germain cannot boast of his attention to them, and this does him all the more credit, he being, as it is said, very susceptible to the fair sex. He told Prince Leopold that he intended going to Novara, adding: ’You know that I love and esteem this family; Prince Eugene is the prince of knights; I esteem the Empress Josephine, Queen Hortense, and Prince Eugene, all the more from the fact that her demeanor toward the Emperor Napoleon has been so much more noble than that of so many others, who should have shown him more devotion.’ How could it be possible not to respect a man of such nobility of character? I trust you will soon have an opportunity of judging of this yourself. For God’s sake, return!
But these entreaties were all in vain. M. de Marmold arrived at Louis in time to see the queen; he delivered the letters of her friends, and did all that lay in his power to persuade her not to go to Rambouillet.
But Hortense held firmly to her intention. “You are right,” said she. “All this is true; but I shall, nevertheless, go to the Empress Marie Louise, for it is my duty to do so. If unpleasant consequences should result from this step for me, I shall pay no attention to them, but merely continue to do my duty. Of all of us, the Empress Marie Louise must be the most unhappy, and must stand most in need of consolation; it is, therefore, at her side that I can be of most use, and nothing can alter my determination.”
QUEEN HORTENSE AND THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER.
Queen Hortense had gone to Rambouillet, in spite of the entreaties and exhortations of her friends. The Empress Marie Louise had, however, received her with an air of embarrassment. She had told the queen that she was expecting her father, the Emperor of Austria, and that she feared the queen’s presence might make him feel ill at ease. Moreover, the young empress, although dejected and grave, was by no means so sorrowful and miserable as Hortense expected. The fate of her husband had not wounded the heart of Marie Louise as deeply as that of the Empress Josephine.
Hortense felt that she was not needed there; that the presence of the Emperor of Austria would suffice to console the Empress of France for her husband’s overthrow. She thought of Josephine, who was so deeply saddened by Napoleon’s fate; and finding that, instead of consoling, she only embarrassed the Empress Marie Louise, she hastened to relieve her of her presence.