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It was a pretty thing of delicate French marquetry for which he did not particularly care. Still, it never mattered on what he wrote; a rock or a knapsack would do. The desk had been placed there with other furniture of the same period to brighten the grim Lombard setting for Josephine's arrival, though in its fragility it should have groaned under the invisible wires which stretched from it to the armies of Italy, the seacoast, Paris, Belgium, Austria, and the Rhine. At it he was the chessplayer, sitting blindfolded and playing on many boards.
There was Genoa, for instance, out of which and its environs he had just made the Republic of Liguria. There English ships rode in the harbor; English agents were busy with intrigue in the capital. And his own were moving everywhere, offsetting the foe, and meantime leaving a pinch here, a pinch there, of the yeast of republicanism. Faypault was in charge, watching out for him; but at a distance of a hundred leagues he must watch Faypault and also check the moves of each of his assistants. If only he could have multiplied himself a few times!
In Venice there had been more trouble. There, too, his men had circulated, spreading the yeast of republicanism and the fire of rebellion against the doges. This time the yeast had fermented all too well. The reactionaries, who had no taste for the wholesome bread of freedom, had risen in the night, murdered three hundred of his soldiers, as they walked peacefully through the streets, then slaughtered those in the hospitals. He had sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. But was that
his fault, any more than the Easter riots in Ajaccio, which followed hard on his intrigues-such necessary intrigues, if one were to advance a cause and get anywhere! He himself would not harm a dog, would stop a ship to circle for an hour about a spot to save a drowning man. Still, no use crying over spilled blood. Those massacres must be turned to advantage. So he had written the Directors to keep the rupture open. They had ample cause now for the partition and the tribute.
Then there was Belgium. Austria was defeated but could still carry on the war. She must take loser's terms, yet must have something. He would give up a few of these Venetian cities for the far richer land of Belgium.
And that was not all. The Army of the Rhine; he must keep an eye on that. Desaix, who idolized him, was there, would watch out for his interests. The Directors? Mediocre men whose vanity must be appeased, all at a distance, while he made his treaties over their heads. Fortunately the day and night had twentyfour hours, and besides these duties he had little to attend to, except drafting new constitutions for his republics, building fortresses, deploying troops, investigating army peculations, writing despatches, interviewing spies, attaching to himself new allies, placating disaffected generals and his turbulent familyand listening for Josephine's footstep on the stairs.
The ten minutes were now past, and Bourrienne, announced by the sentry, entered the chamber, rather diffident for one once so overbearing. He had arrived from Paris that
morning, having been sent for by Marmont to act as secretary to the chief; and though the two friends had not met since the old restaurant days, there had been no conversation between them, beyond the formal greetings in the hall below. It was It was with something of a shock, therefore, that he received only this command: "Take this, Bourrienne: 'Section I. The Constitution of the Ligurian Republic.""
Nevertheless he wrote down the paragraphs, bits of the French constitution, of old codes, and other articles which Napoleon from study believed would fit Genoese conditions, and which he shot out, not from notes but from memory, as rapidly he paced the room.
"There, that will do." Then he stopped and faced his secretary and a situation pregnant with both drama and embarrassment. Here was the proud Bourrienne who, but four summers ago, had patronized him, escorted him to a brother's warehouse to pawn his watch, invited him to meals, and boasted about ittaking dictation from him! And the once shabby protégé, now the talk of all Europe, held not only his friend's fortunes but those of many others in the hollow of his hand.
But Napoleon had not meant to snub him. He had been quite sensible of that shock; but he had business on hand, and it was better for Bourrienne to accept at once the situation without any sentimental nonsense. The business over, Napoleon was friendly enough.
"I thank you, my old comrade, for being so discreet, and not trespassing on our former friendship. In public there must be some constraint, as you
"The difficulty," he said, after Joseph entered and Bourrienne left, "is to find old friends with capacity for what you can offer. They continually resent the changed conditions, expect still to live on the old basis. And their constant brooding on another's success spoils their work. "Take Bourrienne now. He is a man of gifts, yet he will always have a grievance. He will never forgive me for those few one-franc dinners he gave me; would wave l'addition before me if he could, instead of earning the rich posts I should be glad to give him. I am afraid the same applies to Lucien."
He sat down, waved Joseph to a chair. Joseph also seemed under some constraint. Perhaps he felt that the little sermon had been intended for him as well as for Bourrienne and Lucien. And it is indeed hard to adjust one's self to sudden glory, particularly when that glory is not due to Providence or one's own merit but to the very vivid personality of a younger brother.
Still, Joseph, who was growing increasingly handsome in a grave way, and would have made the excellent judge that he looked, or the just executor of a large estate, was on the whole a safe man, and his reports were to be relied on. Two of these Napoleon now desired. The first concerned conditions in France.
"It looks more than ever," Joseph began deliberately, "as if another "as if another revolution threatened. The royalists are gaining every day; and in the Club Clichy they plot the overthrow of the government. Already they have won many seats in the Legislative Councils, and they control one Director."
"And the rest are asleep," Napoleon broke in. "They have lost all the energy of '89 which won the Revolution, and do not realize that the victor must be ever vigilant to maintain what is already won. In a false security they dawdle over affairs of state and will come near to bringing the Bourbons back-though not if I can help it. Already the Revolution has done much for the world; and that would be the crime of the ages!"
"Still, you must go warily," returned Joseph. "Directory and Legislature are deadlocked. I would advise espousing neither party too soon."
"And so let the Bourbons back! Never!" returned the younger brother with heat. "But you are right on one point. It is wise not to champion too openly the present Directors, who, with the exception of Carnot, are all muddlers. Meantime we must plan to get our own men in."
"Yourself for one," proposed Joseph-the just judge again playing Apollyon. But Napoleon would have none of it.
"My victories for the present are on the field of battle. First I must consolidate my position there, make secure the glory already won. The other field I shall not enter until I head the pack. That day will come."
Then he returned to the subject from which Apollyon's temptation had deflected him.
"It may be wise also not to take too open a part in the politics of Paris. Let the people appear to settle things themselves, or they may raise the cry of 'Dictator!' But one thing must not be uncertain, that I and the army are republican to the last man. If they lift one finger to restore the Bourbons, I shall loose my battalions on Paris!"
He thought for a moment about ways and means.
"To-morrow I shall send Lavalette on. He is careful, discreet. With you and others we can trust, he can circulate quietly, circumvent the plots of the Club Clichy, and prevent more of the Councils from going over to the Royalist side."
Here he paused in his pacing, angry. "But you are not listening; your mind wanders!" And indeed, for an interlude, Joseph had not been listening. He had been saying to himself: "Why so much of that parade-ground peroration? He is ridiculous. Can he not credit me with some sense?"
Now, Napoleon was seldom ridiculous even when hectoring, lecturing, or riding the high horse; and he did not credit his brothers with any too much wisdom. So he he went on, after calling Joseph back to that attention which all, sooner or later, gave to this frail but dynamic personality:
"Be wise as the serpent, harmless as the dove. Win to us allies from all classes. From coffee-house and gutter, spread anew the gospel of republicanism. Open the minds of all to the dangers of reactionism. Above all, direct the eyes of Paris
to the armies and to Italy! Let them learn to look on us as a woman on her protecting husband, the strong right arm of France!
"Meanwhile I shall aid you with proclamations to the armies, which you shall have printed in the ‘Moniteur,' also in circulars for wide distribution. See that these, too, are read in the Councils and before the public on fête-days. The Directors I shall myself stiffen by advantageous treaties with our foes and new possessions. There shall be gestures enough!"
Joseph, not unreasonably, had another word of caution. "Have you counted on Hoche? He has won his victories, on the Rhine; catches the crowd; is handsome, dashing "
"Too dashing," returned Napoleon. "He rides for a fall.
• · •
"Now a little later, after you have prepared the ground, I shall send Augereau to Paris, to give them a picture of what the army is like. He looks as if he snorted fire from his nostrils and drank a quart of blood before breakfast. That will be impressive. And he is more than merely reckless; he will act with effect, throw all the troops in the capital around the Tuileries, if they try to overthrow the Directors. And he will do it without any instructions from me. This is not only what I like, but is helpful, since we must not appear to have too many fingers in the pie."
Here he took his brother's hand affectionately.
"Louis le Grand said, 'I am the state!' You, Joseph, must preach, for the present crisis, "The Army is the state!' Later we can give them
another formula. . . . And now farewell! I have won success, but with it the bitterness of knowing there are so few one can trust. Of you I am never doubtful. You, my dear brother, have my deepest confidence and love."
This parting message he delivered with utter sincerity and with that melancholy which is never long absent from men of daring imagination who have trusted much to a Fate even more inscrutable than themselves.
From below came the sounds of the music, the lilt of women's laughFor that second report, which concerned not the field of war or politics, but the ball-room, he did
His mother could have given him this report-and of a conduct of which she did not approve as she sat by the wall in a massive Lombard chair which made still more august her impressive bearing.
"Does not mother look well?" said Paulette in an intermission. "There's not a white thread in her brown hair and not a handsomer pair of eyes in the whole room. And her complexion, without rouge, is better than yours or mine, Eliza.
"I am pretty, but I shall fade quickly," she added with strange. foresight for her eighteen years, perhaps a premonition of that dread disease which would destroy her and the brother upstairs as it had their father. "I would give anything to look as she does at forty-seven!"
Letizia had received courteously the celebrities who had presented themselves, answering them usually with short sentences and some re
serve, now and then being roused into the longer periods and precipitous Corsican eloquence of which she was capable. But she was glad that now they had left her to her thoughts. They were many this night.
For one thing, she could look on Pauline's beauty with less disquiet. For Paulette was married-hum, yes, safely enough-even if it had been on pretty short notice, in the chapel below-so short, gossips said, as to be virtually a confession. Well, Leclerc was a good match; and favorite daughters had made slips before
And indeed most of the children had married well-Joseph to the good Julie Clary, who brought a very nice dot, along with a good enough disposition; and Eliza to their old neighbor Bacciochi. True, he played the violin so abominably that Napoleon had threatened to throw him out of the palace. But then Napoleon was no judge of music either; the falsetto in which he sometimes hummed "Malbrouck" was quite as bad. . . . There was Eliza now, approaching with her husband. Certainly no beauty, with her thin flat chest and her longish legs made worse by those high-waisted gowns. But how much her features were like Napoleon's! No, after all, she was not bad looking, and she had done well enough. Bacciochi was dull, but he would be a generous husband.
If only Lucien had shown as much foresight! . . . Poor little Christine Boyer! She was a sweet child and well meaning, even though an innkeeper's daughter. Napoleon would look after them and their babies, if Lucien did not thwart him. And that is just what he might do. . . .
It was sad for a mother to see her children, once so united, in spite of their quarrels... drifting apart to become virtual strangers.
But quest' è troppo! There was that Beauharnais woman again!
"How many times has she danced with him, Paulette?”
"I do not know. Five, I think, maman.”
"Seven," corrected Eliza.
"Basta, basta! It is all so humiliating to Napoleon. I cannot forgive her. She is a light woman."
"Give her sufficient rope, mother. She will do for herself."
"You cannot always tell. Strong men have a way of becoming enslaved by just such women. And she is not only light but extravagant. Panoria Permon writes me that she bought forty hats in one season. That was when she was supposed to be poor. What will she spend, now that she has a successful husband!
"And," she went on, "fame as a general does not necessarily mean wealth. Your brother's salary is only twenty-thousand francs."
"Fifteen, mother," declared Paulette. "Junot told me."
"Signor Junot should not gossip about Napoleon with his sister, nor should you allow it. Even so, it's that much the worse. The creole will ruin him.”
For one thing she knew about her son: he was, in matters of personal conduct, honorable. He might take enough of the booty his arms had won to maintain the appearances necessary to his rank, but not one sou more!
Suddenly, however, she felt ashamed, and exclaimed: "All this talk is disgraceful. Ten