His Excellency came at once in response to the Emperor’s invitation, and I announced him. “See,” said he, pointing to me, “see into what a state you have thrown this fellow! What has he done to be thus treated?” The grand marshal bowed without replying, but with a very dissatisfied air; and the Emperor went on to say that he should have given me his orders more clearly, and that any one was excusable for not executing an order not plainly given. Then turning toward me, his Majesty said, “Monsieur Constant, you may be certain this will not occur again.”
This simple affair furnishes a reply to many false accusations against the Emperor. There was an immense distance between the grand marshal of the palace and the simple valet de chambre of his Majesty, and yet the marshal was reprimanded for a wrong done to the valet de chambre.
The Emperor showed the utmost impartiality in meting out justice in his domestic affairs; and never was the interior of a palace better governed than his, owing to the fact that in his household he alone was master.
The grand marshal felt unkindly toward me for sometime after; but, as I have already said, he was an excellent man, his bad humor soon passed away, and so completely, that on my return to Paris he requested me to stand for him at the baptism of the child of my father-in-law, who had begged him to be its godfather; the godmother was Josephine, who was kind enough to choose my wife to represent her. M. le Duke de Frioul did things with as much nobility and magnanimity as grace; and afterwards I am glad to be able to state in justice to his memory, he eagerly seized every occasion to be useful to me, and to make me forget the discomfort his temporary excitement had caused me.
I fell ill at Valladolid with a violent fever a few days before his Majesty’s departure. On the day appointed for leaving, my illness was at its height; aid as the Emperor feared that the journey might increase, or at any rate prolong, my illness, he forbade my going, and set out without me, recommending to the persons whom he left at Valladolid to take care of my health. When I had gotten somewhat better I was told that his Majesty had left, whereupon I could no longer be controlled, and against my physician’s orders, and in spite of my feebleness, in spite of everything, in fact, had myself placed in a carriage and set out. This was wise; for hardly had I put Valladolid two leagues behind me, than I felt better, and the fever left me. I arrived at Paris five or six days after the Emperor, just after his Majesty had appointed the Count Montesquiou grand chamberlain in place of Prince Talleyrand, whom I met that very day, and who seemed in no wise affected by this disgrace, perhaps he was consoled by the dignity of vice-grand elector which was bestowed on him in exchange.
The Emperor arrived at Paris on the 23d of January, and passed the remainder of the winter there, with the exception of a few days spent at Rambouillet and Saint-Cloud.