During his sojourn at Vienna, the Emperor had established his headquarters at Schoenbrunn, the name of which has become celebrated by the numerous sojourns of his Majesty there, and is to-day, by a singular coincidence, the residence of his son. [The Duke de Reichstadt, born King of Rome, died July, 1832, soon after Constant wrote.]
I am not certain whether it was during this first sojourn at Schoenbrunn that his Majesty had the extraordinary encounter that I shall now relate. His Majesty, in the uniform of colonel of the chasseurs of the guard, rode every day on horseback, and one morning, while on the road to Vienna, saw approaching a clergyman, accompanied by a woman weeping bitterly, who did not recognize him. Napoleon approached the carriage, and inquired the cause of her grief, and the object and end of her journey. “Monsieur,” replied she, “I live at a village two leagues from here, in a house which has been pillaged by soldiers, and my gardener has been killed. I am now on my way to demand a safeguard from your Emperor, who knew my family well, and is under great obligations to them.”—“What is your name, Madame?”—“De Bunny. I am the daughter of Monsieur de Marbeuf, former governor of Corsica.”—“I am charmed, Madame,” replied Napoleon, “to find an opportunity of serving you. I am the Emperor.” Madame de Bunny remained speechless with astonishment; but Napoleon reassured her, and continuing his route, requested her to go on and await him at his headquarters. On his return he received her, and treated her with remarkable kindness, gave her an escort of the chasseurs of the guard, and dismissed her happy and satisfied.
As soon as the day of Austerlitz was gained, the Emperor hastened to send the courier Moustache to France to announce the news to the Empress, who was then at the chateau of Saint-Cloud. It was nine o’clock in the evening when loud cries of joy were suddenly heard, and the galloping of a horse at full speed, accompanied by the sound of bells, and repeated blows of the whip which announced a courier. The Empress, who was awaiting with the greatest impatience news from the army, rushed to the window, opened it hurriedly, and the words victory and Austerlitz fell on her ears. Eager to know the details, she ran down the steps, followed by her ladies; and Moustache in the most excited manner related the marvelous news, and handed her Majesty the Emperor’s letter, which Josephine read, and then drawing a handsome diamond ring from her finger, gave it to the courier. Poor Moustache had galloped more than fifty leagues that day, and was so exhausted that he had to be lifted from his horse and placed in bed, which it required four persons to accomplish. His last horse, which he had doubtless spared less than the others, fell dead in the court of the chateau.
The Emperor having left Stuttgard, stopped only twenty-four hours at Carlsruhe, and forty-eight hours at Strasburg, and between that place and Paris made only short halts, without manifesting his customary haste, however, or requiring of the postilions the break-neck speed he usually demanded.