Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 887 pages of information about Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon Complete.
the same nature.  I received one day an offer of the sum of four hundred thousand francs, which was made me by a lady of a very noble family, if I would influence the Emperor to consider favorably a petition in which she claimed indemnity for a piece of property belonging to her, on which the port of Bayonne had been constructed.  I had succeeded in obtaining favorable answers to applications more difficult than this, but I refused to agree to support her petition solely on account of the offer which had been made to me; I would have been glad to oblige this lady, but only for the pleasure of being obliging, and it was for this reason alone I allowed myself to solicit of the Emperor the pardons which he nearly always granted.  Neither can it be said that I ever demanded of the Emperor licenses for lottery drawings, or anything else of this kind, in which, as is well known, a scandalous commerce is often made, and which, no doubt, if I had demanded them of the Emperor he would have readily granted.

The confidence in me which the Emperor had always shown was such that even at Fontainebleau, when it had been decided that none of the ordinary valets de chambre were to accompany him to the Island of Elba, the Emperor left to my choice the selection of a young man to assist me in my duties.  I selected a boy of the apartments, whose upright character was well known to me, and who was, moreover, the son of Madame Marchand, the head nurse of the King of Rome.  I spoke of him to the Emperor, who accepted him; and I went immediately to inform M. Marchand, who received the position most gratefully, and proved to me, by his thanks, how delighted he would be to accompany us.  I say us, for at this moment I was very far from foreseeing the succession of fatal events which I have faithfully narrated; and it may be seen afterwards, from the manner in which M. Marchand expressed himself concerning me at the Tuileries during the Hundred Days, that I had not bestowed my confidence unworthily.

CHAPTER XXIX.

I became a stranger to all the world after the departure of the Emperor for the Island of Elba, and, filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the kindness with which his Majesty had overwhelmed me during the fourteen years I had passed in his service, thought incessantly of this great man, and took pleasure in renewing in memory all the events, even the most trivial, of my life with him.  I thought it best suited my former position to live in retirement, and passed my time most tranquilly in the bosom of my family in the country-house belonging to me.  At the same time a fatal idea preoccupied my mind involuntarily; for I feared that persons who were jealous of my former favor might succeed in deceiving the Emperor as to my unalterable devotion to his person, and strengthen in his mind the false opinion that they had for a time succeeded in giving him of me.  This opinion, although my conscience told me that it was unjust, was not the less painful to me; but, as will soon be seen, I was fortunate enough to obtain the certainty that my fears in this respect were without foundation.

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