Near the Emperor’s cabinet was a small room in which the secretaries stayed, furnished with a desk, on which notes or petitions were—often placed. This room was usually occupied by the cabinet usher, and the Emperor was accustomed to enter it if he wished to hold a private conversation without being overheard by the secretaries. When the Emperor entered this room the usher withdrew and remained outside the door; he was responsible for everything in this room, which was never opened except by express orders from his Majesty.
Marshal Bessieres had several days before presented to the Emperor a request for promotion from a colonel of the army which he had warmly supported. One morning the marshal entered the little room of which I have just spoken, and finding his petition already signed lying on the desk, he carried it off, without being noticed by my wife’s uncle who was on duty. A few hours after, the Emperor wished to examine this petition again, and was very sure he had left it in this small room; but it was not there, and it was thought that the usher must have allowed some one to enter without his Majesty’s orders. Search was made everywhere in this room and in the Emperor’s cabinet, and even in the apartments of the Empress, and at last it was necessary to announce to his Majesty that the search had been in vain; whereupon the Emperor gave way to one of those bursts of anger which were so terrible though fortunately so rare, which terrified the whole chateau, and the poor usher received orders never to appear in his sight again. At last Marshal Bessieres, having been told of this terrible commotion, came to accuse himself. The Emperor was appeased, the usher restored to favor, and everything forgotten; though each one was more careful than ever that nothing should be disturbed, and that the Emperor should find at his finger’s end whatever papers he needed.
The Emperor would not allow any one to be introduced without his permission, either into the Empress’s apartments or his own; and this was the one fault for which the people of the household could not expect pardon. Once, I do not exactly remember when, the wife of one of the Swiss Guard allowed one of her lovers to enter the apartments of the Empress; and this unfortunate woman, without the knowledge of her imprudent mistress, took in soft wax an impression of the key of the jewel-box which I have already mentioned as having belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette, and, by means of a false key made from this impression, succeeded in stealing several articles of jewelry. The police soon discovered the author of the robbery who was punished as he deserved, though another person was also punished who did not deserve it, for the poor husband lost his place.