Josephine submitted to this law of necessity, and appeared in society. She screened her cares and her heartsores under the covert of smiles, she forced herself into cheerfulness, and when now and then the smile vanished from her lip and tears filled her eyes, she thought of her children, and, mastering her sorrows, she was again the beautiful, lovely woman, whose elegant manners and lively and witty conversation charmed and astonished every one.
At last, after long months of uncertainty, Therese Tallien, her face beaming with joy, came one morning to visit her friend Josephine, and presented to her a paper with a large seal, which Tallien had given her that very morning.
It was an order, signed by the five directors, instructing the administrator of the domains to relieve the capital and the property of General Beauharnais from the sequestration laid upon them, and also to remove the seals from his furniture and his movables, and to reinstate the Widow Beauharnais in possession of all the property left by her husband.
Josephine received this paper with tears of joy, and, full of religious, devout gratitude, she fell on her knees and cried:
“I thank Thee, my God! I thank Thee! My children will no more suffer from want, and now I can give them a suitable education.”
She then fell upon her friend’s neck, thanking her for her faithfulness, and swore her everlasting friendship and affection.
The dark clouds which had so long overshadowed Josephine’s life were now gone, and in its place dawned day, bright and clear.
But the sun which was to illumine this day with wondrous glory had not yet appeared. Therese at this hour reminded her friend of a day in prison when Josephine had assured her friends trembling for her life that she was not going to die, that she would one day be Queen of France.
“Yes,” said Josephine, smiling and thoughtful, “who knows if this prophecy will not be fulfilled? To-day begins for me a new life. I have done with the past, and it will sink behind me in the abyss of oblivion. I trust in the future! It must repay me for all the tears and anxieties of my past life, and who knows if it will not erect me a throne?”
The new Paris.
Yes, they were now ended, the days of sufferings and privations! The wife of General Beauharnais was no more the poor widow who appeared as a petitioner in the drawing-rooms of the members of the Directory, and often obliged, even in the worst kind of weather, to go on foot to the festivals of Madame Tallien, because she lacked the means to pay for a cab; she was no longer the poor mother who had to be satisfied to procure inferior teachers for her children, because she could not possibly pay superior ones.
Now, as by a spell, all was changed, and gold was the magic wand which had produced it. Thanks to this talisman, the Viscountess de Beauharnais could now quit the small, remote, gloomy dwelling in which she had hitherto resided, and could again procure a house, gather society round about her, and, above all things, provide for the education of her children.