Napoleon remained silent a moment at this news: a shadow passed over his countenance; then his brow brightened again, and he exclaimed: “Well, I would sooner see it there, than in the dust of the streets!”
Days of happiness.
The prophecy of the old woman in Martinique had now been fulfilled: Josephine was more than a queen, she was an empress! She stood on life’s summit, and a world lay at her feet. Before the husband who stood at her side, the princes and the people of Europe bowed in the dust, and paid him homage—the hero who by new victories had won ever-increasing fame and fresh laurels, who had defeated Austria, Prussia, and Russia, and who had engraven on the rolls of French glory the mighty victories of Austerlitz, Jena, and Eylau!
Josephine stood on the pinnacle of life; she saw the princes of foreign states come to France as conquered, as captives, and as allies, to bring to her husband and to herself the homage of subjects; she saw devoted courtiers and flatterers; pomp and splendor surrounded her on every side.
Amid this glory she remained simple and modest—she never gave up her cheerful gentleness and mildness; she never forgot the days which had been; she never allowed herself to be exalted by the brilliancy of the moment to an ambitious pride or to a lofty self-conceit. The friends of the widow Josephine de Beauharnais always found in the empress Josephine a thankful, obliging friend, ever ready to appeal to her husband, and intercede with him in their behalf. To the royalists, when weary of their long exile, though poor and helpless still loyal to the royal family—when they returned to France with bleeding feet and wounded hearts, to implore from the Emperor of the French the privilege of dying in their native country—to them all Josephine was a counsellor, a helper, a compassionate protectress. With deep interest she inquired from them how it fared with the Count de Lille, whom her heart yet named as the King of France, though her lips dared not utter it. All the assistance she gave to the royalists, and the protection she afforded them, oftentimes despite Napoleon’s anger, all the loyalty, the generosity, and self-denial she manifested, were the quiet sacrifice which she offered to God for her own happiness, and with which she sought to propitiate the revengeful spirit of the old monarchy, loitering perchance in the Tuileries, where she now, in the place of the wife of the Count de Lille, was enthroned as sovereign.
Josephine’s heart was unwearied and inexhaustible in well-doing and in liberality; if Napoleon was truly the emperor and the father of the army and of the soldiers, Josephine was equally the empress and the mother of the poor and unfortunate.
But she was also, in the true sense of the word, the empress of the happy. No one understood so well as she did how to be the leader at festivals, to preside at a joyous company, to give new attractions by her gracious womanly sweetness and amiableness, or to receive homage with such beaming eyes, and to make others happy while she herself seemed to be made happy by them.