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that the First Consul spoils his breeches coasting down glaciers!"
"He did, madame la première consul," assented the smiling Rapp. "A little device to cheer on his men. There were many such."
"Allons donc! monsieur le général, you are no better. What I want to know is how he appears in battle. I have never attended one."
"You should see him, to see war at its most glorious," broke in Junot. He had a brave uniform, sideburns like Louis; his eyes were together, his mouth rather petulant for so brave a warrior, and he was to die in a madhouse; but he had spirit and dash enough on the field. This was echoed exultantly as he spoke in praise of his chief: "Even with grape falling like hail all around him, his horse shot under him, he is cool. He knows not fear!"
"If madame la première consul will permit," eagerly put in Constant; "I have undressed him and-" "What? Underclothes again!"
"No, madame. It is of wounds I speak. His body is covered with scars."
Junot, sensitive and demonstrative as a woman, dashed the tears from his eyes with the back of a hairy hand. "He conceals them from all of us," he said, "even from me," this almost with a touch of reproach; then he resumed:
"I have said he was cool and laconic, not arguing as he does here with his councillors. But suddenly he speaks, and when he does, there is no general or dragoon but obeys. His voice itself sweeps you on like a mountain torrent. And his glance? I know not how to describe it, madame. But it is as though some
thing cold like steel and yet on fire suddenly flashed from a scabbard. He is a little man. With one push you could bowl him over. Yet you run-and toward the enemy!"
Josephine thought that now she was getting the feel of it all; but she was mystified by the handsome Rapp, who, whistling the while, for he scorned all etiquette, was arranging balls, cues and pieces of chalk on the table.
"It takes more than magnetism to win battles," he said. "There is strategy. Now here you have the whole field of the second Italian campaign. Perhaps, madame, you can catch its grandeur of design.'
Puzzled, she drew nearer, as Rapp went on:
"This will make it easier to understand. The Northwest corner of the table is France; North-center, Switzerland; Northeast here, Austria; and below lies Italy. Between are the Alps-these cues-note that they form an impassable barrier. Below these Alps are the Austrian forces, those white balls, scattered over the whole Lombard plain. They have won it back while the General was in Egypt, all except Genoa and two towns on the coast where Masséna and Suchet with their few detachments-those pieces of chalk—are practically bottled up.
"Now the First Consul is in Switzerland. He has not much of an army, only thirty-five thousand hastily patched-up troops, having generously sent on his best corps to Moreau on the Rhine. But then poor troops with Napoleon are better than picked ones with Moreau; and Lannes, Desaix, Victor, under the Consul's direction, are whipping them into shape.
"Very well. He has four courses open; and here you must catch the first point, the strategy of the position he had chosen. He could do so many things: help Moreau on the Rhine against the North Austrian army; climb over the Alps by the eastern pass and so sweep the Tyrol; or by the western pass join Masséna on the coast. There is another pass, this one in the middle, the great St. Bernard; but that he cannot go over, oh no!"
"But he " Junot started to protest.
"Do not interrupt," expostulated expostulated Rapp. "I'll leave all the glory of warfare to you. This is cold strategy. Now the way by the coast is comparatively easy, and the one his generals in council gathered together, expect him to take.
"But,' says the General, 'that is my '96 campaign all over again. I must have a new one to surprise them. Besides, if I join Masséna on the west, I shall face the whole Austrian army scattered over the Italian plain in superior numbers, with their base, Austria at their back, and my back to the sea. I shall choose the middle pass!'
"But, General,' say all the staff including the growling Junot here, 'you cannot. St. Bernard is impassable!'
"Tiens! What dictionary do you use? The word is not in mine. There we shall cross, catch them between the west and their base, defeat their superior corps one by one. Further we shall capture Milan which will give us prestige with the Italians and a tremendous moral advantage.'
army. Hollowed out tree-trunks to carry his cannon; each drawn by a hundred men. And when they grew tired and gazed, disheartened, at the icy ascent, the peaks all around like some gigantic cheval-de-frise of the gods, he treads alongside of them, cheering them on, slapping their backs, or he orders the drums to beat to stir the blood. For this purpose, too, he slid down the glaciers like a schoolboy and spoiled Constant's good breeches.
"As I said, there were many such devices. His brain is fertile. When we come to Monte Albredo, which really puts the 'impassable' in his dictionary, and has a fort at the foot commanding the only road, he covers the cannon wheels with straw, also the horses' hoofs and sends them through by night.
"And now watch-he is over-in Italy! He strikes-and very swiftly he can strike-first this division here, that one there, all over the Lombard plain; fools them all. No let-up; fight, march, fight, then march again. He leaves garrisons behind-more of those pieces of chalk on the greenat Milan, Ivrea, Lodi, every town; then crosses the Po, all the time sending out feelers for the main body of old Melas, the Austrian chief.
"Now he splits his forces, sends Lannes to Montebello, Desaix south, while he continues westward, leaving all points in his rear strategically covered and thereby diminishing his forces. Then suddenly, in the vale of Marengo, where the river Tanaro flows into the Po, he comes up with Melas."
"With triple our numbers," interpolated Junot, whose eyes dilated as
"And this he did with his small he relived it all.
"No, double; but it was enough," retorted the more conservative Rapp, as he rearranged his little symbols.
"And now consider the table no longer the whole field of operations, but just that of the immediate battle. Here you have the town of Marengo, which a little river with very steep banks, cuts in two. Our inferior forces have been driven out, but we reform and try to recapture it. Gaily we go on, not in straight platoons, madame, as at your reviews, but in waves, the bravest at the apex, and debouch through the narrow streets. At the same time young Kellermann organizes a little charge of horse on the banks through the orchard just outside the town. But the whitecoats are strongly intrenched. They pour a murderous fire down on us from houses and church towers. Young and old, we go down, some leaning up against lintels, others sprawled on their backs, all in very strange postures, madame, quite as if they had been sacks tossed from the windows, with contents ripped open.
"Meantime, on our right, the enemy guns sprayed Kellermann's dragoons as they stormed through the orchards. We had lost all our cannon but five and could not support them. Here, too, were queer postures, stranger perhaps, since beasts are more easily stricken with terror. Horses plunging distracted, or in their frenzy rearing straight up; others tumbled against walls, with their riders crumpled under them, or trumpeting through the orchards, saddles under and their masters dragged by the stirrups; and still others, legs in air, flat on their backs, and shattered open. Such, madame,
is the glory of warfare, a picture of battle-at which you say you have never been present.
"Four times that morning we retreated from Marengo. Four times, taking such shelter as we could from farm-house or grove, we advanced again. The last time, Napoleon came up at a gallop to exhort us and to order in his Consular Guard. We cheered. At last we were saved, and in they plunged, like an ocean breaker, coats of green, and the sunlight of gilt casques and chinstraps interlaced in the white foam of their plumes.
"But down the steep banks they, too, go floundering-only four hundred coming back at a mad gallop. After all, the day is not saved. Can it be that our chief has lost his cunning; that he is no longer the conqueror?
"Still he stands immovable, his eyes ranging the valley as we gather on a hill for the last stand; Marmont's five baby guns on the left, our Foot in the center, on the left, a little way off, Kellermann's heavy dragoons. And from the village toward us, come the Austrians, a fine sight with their banners flying and their band instruments gleaming in the sun.
"Ah! There is is dust floating around the green shoulder of that neighboring hill. Desaix! Up from. the south. the south. The chief gallops to meet him as on up the slopes march the whitecoats, like leaguelong rakes with their bayonets, and the teeth all toward us. We fireteeth are gone from the rakes—again -more teeth missing. But there are fresh legions coming on. And now the chief speaks-a few curt words-one short swift gesture and
Marmont's guns roar, catching them on the flank; then our muskets in front rattle and Kellermann's Horse plunges and we crush their flank.
"The sun, setting on the white towers of the church, is red now. It seems reflected on the hill as the columns, torn by grape and mangled by saber, fall back down the slope, race through the orchards, past the church, and on to the little river. And again Napoleon is master-all Italy rewon!
"A pinch of luck, some claim, Desaix coming up. No bigger than the pinch that falls to all commanders. He mixes his ingredients, counting on luck. If Desaix had not come, Napoleon, somehow would have made his own luck. I have never yet seen it fail."
"But did he not say something fine on the field?" asked Josephine.
"Ah! Brave words to thrill the ladies and the sentimental fire-eaters like Junot!" laughed Rapp. "He did -something about, 'Remember, my boys, it is your commander's habit to sleep on the battlefield!' He has said better things, some which even this cool head has thrilled to. But the words do not matter, nor even the battle which I have tried to make vivid to please a lady's whim. It is the strategy; the whole sweep of the campaign, the grandeur of design; so many objectives in one! Can you not see?"
Josephine could not. She thought these pictures of her husband in battle rather fearsome. She still preferred him at levées and in red coats. Perhaps she better understood this strange man she had married when Rapp spoke of the death of Desaix, whom Napoleon loved.
"For hours," Rapp said, "the General seldom spoke; when he did, he would talk of nothing else, not even victory. 'Desaix,' he would remark mournfully, 'was a unique character; the last of Plutarch's men!"
Junot, Josephine observed, seemed jealous that such affection could not have been bestowed on him. "Poor Junot!" she said to herself, and to show her sympathy, clung to him as they left the room, though the candid Rapp was far more handsome.
But if Josephine could not grasp the tactics of battle, those of peace were easily understood,-the balls, for instance, when she entered on his arm to receive the tribute of the generals and their wives, many of low degree and a little awkward in their new-won splendor. She did not stay now to dance or flirt, but would make a turn of the room, pausing as Napoleon chatted amiably with this favorite or that, or chided some woman for her too forward dress. "Put on more!" he would say. "I will have none of the vices of the old régime. No woman shall go half-clad and no man boast of his conquests."
Then there were the reviews which she watched from the serene windows, at her side ambassadors and famous soldiers; throngs of ladies, too, from every land in the world. No longer was the courtyard crowded with ragged trousers and stockingcaps; it blossomed with color like the regimented flower-beds on the other side of the palace. Each uniform had been a matter of profound study to quartermasters, generals, and even the wives of the generals, all striving to invent some still more
startling combination. Laurette Permon, now Madame Junot, was quite puffed up over the adoption of her wonderful idea for a shapka.
In solid ranks the platoons marched by, the long lines of legs rising and falling in unison, chins and torsos immovable. So they passed through the court of the Louvre, the arch of the clock-tower and the Carrousel, or were ranged against the quiet background of the old palace: now blue coats with crimson collars, again green with white breeches: then green with red-striped trousers. And now the horse-artillery in pink with fur-lined coats over their shoulders, and plum-dolmaned hussars with trousers of braided blue; and an infinite variety of head-gear: chapeaux with tricolored rosettes, black vizored shakoes with long plumes of white; the gold casques of the dragoons with glittering chin-straps; black shapkas with yellow pompons; the éclaireurs' furred colbacks; lancers' shapkas shaped like inverted hour-glasses, with aigrettes and red pompons rising above.
But it was not all parade. The little commander was everywhere, now on his splendid black, striding up and down the ranks with vibrant exhortation, or signaling out some veteran or cadet for preferment, sometimes being coached by his aides as to the name and record of the candidate, more often recalling them from his own prodigious memory. He loved it all; would keep them for hours in the court, as he examined equipment, handling each sword and lance and musket as affectionately as a hunter his fowlingpieces or a fisherman his rods.
Josephine had another opportunity
to observe her husband and gage him with the eyes of men; an opportunity which, as it turned out, she later regretted.
She had persuaded Fouché to escort her to a secret gallery above the hall where the Corps Legislatif was discussing the new Code which, more than any of his conquests or monuments, was to immortalize the conqueror's name. That she chose such a guide as this diabolical Minister of Police should have occasioned comment; but Josephine, though she filled her new position with regal grace and, except in her outrageous extravagance, was now far more discreet, never showed the same fastidiousness in her choice of companions that she showed in manners and dress.
So, laughing musically, she ascended the stairs to the secret gallery where they eavesdropped,the sandy death's-head beside the blue eyes and the tortoise-shell comb set in the rich chestnut coils, all lustrous even in the dusk of the gallery-gazing down, through crevices cunningly concealed in the acanthus leaves of the cornice, on the councillors in crescent rows; on the two associate consuls,-Cambacèrés with his long pointed nose and Miltonic mouth, Lebrun with his smaller features like tiny islands in relief surrounded by an ocean of chin and cheek; then on the little man presiding, who galvanized all. Gone now was the jaundiced complexion, the frailty, even the rapierlike wiriness of the Egyptian campaign. paign. "See, Fouché," she said, "how he has filled out. Twenty louis to five that in the year he shows a paunch.'