This pamphlet, spread broadcast among the people, was soon reported to the leaders of the rabble. Adam Lux was arrested for treason against the Republic; but even these men had no desire to make a martyr of this hot-headed youth. They would stop his mouth without taking his life. Therefore he was tried and speedily found guilty, but an offer was made him that he might have passports that would allow him to return to Germany if only he would sign a retraction of his printed words.
Little did the judges understand the fiery heart of the man they had to deal with. To die on the same scaffold as the woman whom he had idealized was to him the crowning triumph of his romantic love. He gave a prompt and insolent refusal to their offer. He swore that if released he would denounce his darling’s murderers with a still greater passion.
In anger the tribunal sentenced him to death. Only then he smiled and thanked his judges courteously, and soon after went blithely to the guillotine like a bridegroom to his marriage feast.
Adam Lux! Spirit courtship had been carried on silently all through that terrible cross-examination of Charlotte Corday. His heart was betrothed to hers in that single gleam of the setting sun when she bowed beneath the knife. One may believe that these two souls were finally united when the same knife fell sullenly upon his neck and when his life-blood sprinkled the altar that was still stained with hers.
There are four women who may be said to have deeply influenced the life of Napoleon. These four are the only ones who need to be taken into account by the student of his imperial career. The great emperor was susceptible to feminine charms at all times; but just as it used to be said of him that “his smile never rose above his eyes,” so it might as truly be said that in most instances the throbbing of his heart did not affect his actions.
Women to him were the creatures of the moment, although he might seem to care for them and to show his affection in extravagant ways, as in his affair with Mlle. Georges, the beautiful but rather tiresome actress. As for Mme. de Stael, she bored him to distraction by her assumption of wisdom. That was not the kind of woman that Napoleon cared for. He preferred that a woman should be womanly, and not a sort of owl to sit and talk with him about the theory of government.
When it came to married women they interested him only because of the children they might bear to grow up as recruits for his insatiate armies. At the public balls given at the Tuileries he would walk about the gorgeous drawing-rooms, and when a lady was presented to him he would snap out, sharply:
“How many children have you?”
If she were able to answer that she had several the emperor would look pleased and would pay her some compliment; but if she said that she had none he would turn upon her sharply and say: