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resigned to all the First Consul's eccentricities.

" Then write." And he dictated : —

Bonaparte, First Consul of the Republic, to his Majesty the
kiug of Great Britain and Ireland:

** Called by the French nation to occupy the position of first
magistrate of the republic, I have found it advisable to address
your Majesty personally.

** Must this war, which has for eight years raged throughout
the world, be endless 1 Is there no means of stopping it ?
How can the two most enlightened nations of Europe, both of
them stronger and more powerful than their safety demands,
sacrifice to ideas of vain grandeur or causeless antipathies the
welfare of commerce, the prosperity of their people, and the
happiness of their homes ? How can they fail to realize that
peace is the first of necessities as well as of glories ?

'* These sentiments cannot be strangers to the heart of your
Majesty, — you, who govern a free nation with the sole object
of making it happy.

" Your Majesty will see in this overture only my sincere de-
sire to contribute efi'ectually, for the second time, to a general
peace, by a prompt measure, in all confidence, and without
those formalities which, however necessary in themselves to dis-
guise the dependence of weaker nations, only conceal in stronger
ones the desire to deceive. France and England, by an ex-
cessive use of their strength, may still, unhappily for their
people, resist exhaustion; but I dare to affirm that the destiny


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of all civilized nations is dependent upon the end of a war
which includes the entire world."

Bonaparte stopped. ** I think that will do," he said ;
" read it to me, Bourrienne.'^

Bourrienne read the letter which he had just written.
After each paragraph the First Consul nodded his head,
saying, "Go on." Even before he had heard the last
words, he took the letter from Bourrienne's hands and
signed it with a new pen. He never used the same pen
more than once ; nothing was more disagreeable to him
than to get a stain of ink upon his fingers.

**That is well," he said; **seal it and address it to
Lord Grenville."

Bourrienne did as he had been told. Just then a car-
riage stopped in the courtyard of the Luxembourg. A
moment later the door opened, and Roland appeared.

" Well 1 " asked Bonaparte.

** As I told you, you can do anything. General."

" Did you get your Englishman 1 "

" I met him on the Place de Buci, and knowing that
you do not like to be kept waiting, I took him just as he
was, and forced him to get into the carriage. Upon my
word, for a moment I thought I should have to have him
brought here by the post of the Eue Mazarine : he is in
boots and overcoat."

" Let him come in," said Bonaparte.

"Come in, my lord," said Roland, turning around.

Lord Tanlay appeared upon the threshold. Bonaparte
needed only to glance at him to see that he was a perfect
gentleman. A slight emaciation and a remnant of pallor
gave Sir John a highly distinguished appearance. He
bowed, and waited to be presented, like the true English-
man that he was.


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"General," said Roland, "I have the honor of present-
ing, to you Sir John Tanlay, who was willing to go as far
as the third cataract of the Nile for the pleasure of seeing
you, hut who almost had to be taken by the ear to be
brought as far as the Luxembourg."

"Enter, my lord," said Bonaparte. "This is not the
first time that we have seen each other, nor the first time
I have expressed a desire to know you ; there was an ele-
ment of ingratitude, therefore, in your refusal to grant my

" If I hesitated. General," replied Sir John, in excellent
French, as usual, " it was only because I could not believe
in the honor which you wished to do me."

" And then, as a matter of national sentiment, you de*
test me, do you not, like all your countrymen 1 "

" I must confess, General," replied Sir John, smiling,
" that they do not yet admire you."

" And do you share in the absurd prejudice which be-
lieves that national honor demands that we shall hate to-
day the enemy who may be our friend to-morrow 1 "

" France has been for me a second mother-country, Gen-
eral ; and my friend Roland will tell you that even now I
hope for the moment when I shall belong more to France
than to England."

" Then you would not be sorry to have France and
England clasp hands for the happiness of the world 1 "

" The day when I should see that would be a happy
one for me."

" And if you could contribute towards that result, would
you do so i *'

" I would risk my life to do it."

"Roland has told me that you are related to Lord

" I am his nephew."


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'* Are you on good terms with him 1"

** He dearly loved my mother, who was his elder sister."

" And have you inherited that love 1 "

'* Yes ; but I think it is lying latent until such time as
I shall return to England."

'^Will you undertake to carry a letter to him from

" Addressed to whom 1 "

''To King George III."

** It would be a great honor for me."

*'Will you undertake to tell your uncle by word of
mouth such things as cannot be confided to a letter 1 "

'' Without changing a syllable ; the words of General
Bonaparte are history."

" Very well, tell him — " Then interrupting himself
and turning to Bourrienne, he said, '' Bourrienne, look for
that letter from the emperor of Russia."

Bourrienne opened a portfolio, and, without searching,
took out a letter which he gave to Bonaparte. Bonaparte
glanced at it, and handing it to Lord Tanlay, said, —

" Tell him first, and before all else, that you have read
this letter."

Sir John bowed and read : —

Citizen First Consul, — I have received, armed, and
clothed anew, each one in the uniform of his corps, the nine
thousand Russians who were taken prisoners in Holland, and
whom you have sent me without ransom or exchange or any
other condition.

You did it from pure chivalry, and I claim to be a chevalier
myself. The beat thing that I can offer you in exchange for
this magnificent gift is my friendship. Will you accept it ?

As an eaiTiest of this friendship, I have sent passports to Lord
Whitworth, the English ambassador to St. Petersburg. And
furthermore, if you will second me, I will challenge to a duel


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all sovereigns wbo will not take part against England, and shut
their doors to it. I will begin with my neighbor, the king of
Denmark, and you may read my challenge to him in the " Ga-
zette de la Cour."

Is there anything else for me to add? No, — unless it is
that we two can make laws for all the world; and further-
more, that I am

Your admirer and sincere friend,


Lord Tanlay turned to the First Consul. " Of course
you know that the emperor of Russia is insane," he said.

" Did you learn that from this letter, my lord 1 " asked

" No ; but it only confirms me in my opinion."

" It was from a fool that Henry VI. of Lancaster re-
ceived the crown of Saint Louis ; and the shield of Eng-
land, until such time as I shall scratch them off with my
sword, still bears the fleurs de lis of France."

Sir John smiled. His national pride revolted at this
pretension from the conqueror of the Pyramids.

" But," continued Bonaparte, " we have nothing to do
with that to-day, and it can take its time."

*' Yes," murmured Sir John, " we are still too near

" Oh, I should not fight you upon the sea,*' said Bona-
parte ; " it would take me fifty years to make a maritime
nation of France. It is yonder — " And he motioned
towards the Orient. ** But just now, I repeat, it is a
question not of war but of peace ; I require peace to ac-
complish my dreams, and particularly peace with England.
You see that I play an open game ; I am strong enough
to be frank. When a diplomat will tell the truth, he be-
comes the first statesman in the world, provided no one
will believe him, and that from that time he meets with
no obstacle."


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'* I am then to tell my uncle that you desire peace?"

" While telling him at the same time that I do not fear
war. What I cannot do with King George, I can, as you
see, do with Emperor Paul ; but Russia has not reached
such a point of civilization that I desire it for an ally."

*' A tool is sometimes worth more than an ally."

" Yes ; but as you have said, the emperor is a fool, and
insane men should be disarmed, my lord, rather than
armed. I tell you that two nations like France and Eng-
land must be either inseparable friends or deadly enemies ;
as friends they are the two poles of the earth, balancing
its movement by an equal weight ; as enemies, one would
have to be destroyed in order to make of the other the
axis of the world."

" And if Lord Grenville, without doubting your gejnius,
doubts your power ; if he thinks with our poet Coleridge
that the ocean with its hoarse murmur guards his isle and
serves as its rampart, — what shall I tell him T* ^

" Unroll that map of the world for me, Bourrienne,"
said Bonaparte.

Bourrienne unrolled a map, and Bonaparte drew near.
" Do you see these two rivers 1 " he asked ; and he pointed
out the Volga and the Danube. " There is the road to
India," he added.

** I thought that it was Egypt, General," returned Lord

" I thought so once, too ; or rather I took it because I
did not have any other. The czar opens this one to me ;
may your government not force me to take it ! Do you
follow me]"

" Yea ; go on."

" Well, if England forces me to fight, if I am obliged
to accept an alliance with Catherine's successor, this is
what I shall do. I shall embark forty thousand Russians


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on the Volga ; I sLall make them descend the river as far
as Astrakan ; they will cross the Caspian sea, and wait for
me at Asterabad."

Sir John bowed in token of doep attention.

Bonapaite continued : " I shall embark forty thousand
French on the Danube.*'

*^ I beg your pardon, but the Danube is an Austrian

" I shall have taken Vienna."

Sir John looked at Bonaparte.

" I shall have taken Vienna," continued the latter. '* I
shall embark forty thousand Frenchmen on the Danube ;
I shall find some Russian vessels at its mouth which will
transport them as far as Taganrog ; I will bring them up
along the course of the Don by land as far as Pratisbian-
skaia, from which point they will be transported to Tzar-
itsin ; there they will in their turn descend the Volga in
the same ships which took the forty thousand Russians to
Asterabad ; a fortnight later, and I have eighty thousand
men in western Persia. From Asterabad, the two armies
united will be carried on the Indus; for Persia, the enemy
of England, is our natural ally."

** Yes ; but when you are once in the Punjab you will
no longer have the benefit of the Persian alliance, and an
army of eighty thousand men cannot very well carry its
provisions along with it."

" You forget one thing," said Bonaparte, as if the expe-
dition were already an accomplished fact, ** and that is
that I have left bankers at Teheran and Caboul. Now
recall what happened nine years ago in Lord Cornwallis's
war with Tippoo-Saib : the general-in-chief needed pro-
visions; a simple captain — I do not now recall his
name — '^

"Captain Malcolm," said I^ord Tanlay.


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^' That 's it 1 " exclaimed Bonaparte ; " so you know the
story ! Captain Malcolm had recourse to the caste of the
briiijaries, those bohemiaus of India, who cover the penin-
sula of Hindustan with their encampments, where they
deal exclusively in grains. Well, these hohemiaus are to
those who will pay them faithful to the last sou ; they are
the ones who will feed me."

** You would have to pass the Indus."

** Very well ! '* said Bonaparte ; " there are sixty
leagues between Dera-Ismael-Khan and Attok. I know
the Indus as well as I do the Seine ; it is a slow river,
Tvhich flows at the rate of a league an hour, and whose
medium depth at that place is from twelve to fifteen
feet; and there are perhaps ten fords on my lino of

" Then your line of operations is already traced 1 " asked
Sir John, smiling.

" Yes, provided it lies in the midst of an uninterrupted
stretch of fertile and well- watered provinces ; provided
that in entering upon it I escape the sandy deserts vvhich
separate the lower valley of the Indus from Eadjepout-
anah ; provided, in short, that it is upon the basis of all
invasions of India which have been successful, — from
Mahmoud of Ghizni, in the year 1000, to Nadir-Schah in
1739; and how many, in the interval between those two
dates, have taken the road that I intend to take 1 Let us
pass them in review. After Mahmoud of Ghizni, Maho-
met-Gouii, in 1184, with one hundred and twenty thousand
men ; after him, Timour-Lung, or Timour the Lame, from
which we get Tamerlan, with sixty thousand men ; after
Timour-Lung, Babour ; after Babour, Humayoun. Why,
India is for whoever will or can take it.''

" You forget, citizen Consul, that all these conquerors
whom you have just named have had to do with the

VOL. II. —9


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natives, while you would have the English against yon.
We have in India — "

"Twenty to twenty-two thousand men."

" And a hundred thousand Sepoys."

'* I have taken each into account ; and I ti'eat England
and India, the one with the respect and the other with
the scorn that they merit. Whenever I find European
infantry, I prepare a second, a third, and if necessary a
foui-th line of reserves, in case the first three fall beneath
the English bayonets ; but when I find only Sepoys, all I
need for that rabble is horsewhips. Have you any further
questions to ask me, my lord ) "

" Only one ; do you seriously desire peace 1 "

" Here is the letter in which I ask it of your king, my
lord ; and it is because I want to be sure that it will reach
his Britannic Majesty that I have asked the nephew of
Lord Grenville to be my messenger."

" It shall be done as you desire, citizen ; and if only I
were the uncle instead of the nephew, I could promise

"When will you start?"

"In an hour."

" You have no favor to ask of me before you go 1 "

" None ; and if I had, I leave full powers with my
friend Roland."

" Give me your hand, my lord; it will be a good omen,
since you represent England, and I France."

Sir John accepted the honor which Bonaparte offered
him, with a fine discrimination which indicated at once
his sympathy for France and his reservation in favor of
national honor. Then, having clasped Roland's hand
with brotherly warmth, he bowed again to the First Con-
sul, and went out.

Bonaparte followed him thoughtfully with his eyes;


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then he said suddenly: "Roland, I not only consent to
your sister's marriage with Lord Tanlay, but I desire it ;
do you hear 1 I desire it." And he placed such emphasis
upon each of the three words that they clearly signified,
for those who knew the first Consul, not " I desire," but
"I command."

The tyranny was a sweet one for Roland; and he
acknowledged it gratefully.


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Now let US see what passed at the Chateau of Noires-
Fontaines three days after the events in Paris which we
have just related.

Since first Roland, then Mme. de Montrevel and her
son, and finally Sir John had gone to Paris, — Roland to
rejoin his General ; Mme. de Montrevel to take Edward
to school ; and Sir John to make his matrimonial propo-
sals — to Roland, — Ara^lie had remained alone at the
chateau with Charlotte. We say alone, because Michel
and his son Jacques did not really live at the chateau ;
they slept in a little house by the gate, thus enabling
Michel to perform the duties of door-keeper as well as of
gardener. As a result, in the evening the three rows of
windows in the chllteau were dark, except for Amelie's
room (which was, as we have said, on the first floor over
the garden), and that of Charlotte, which was up in the
third story. Mme. de Montrevel had taken with her the
second maid.

The two young girls were certainly in a very lonely
position in a building which was composed of a dozen
rooms on each of the three floors, — above all at a time
when public rumor told of so many disturbances on the
high-roads. Michel, therefore, had proposed to his young
mistress that he should sleep in the main building in order
to be able to bring help to her in case of need ; but the
latter had with a firm voice declared that she was not at


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all afraid, and that she did not wish the usual arrange-
ments of the chateau to be disturbed. Michel did not
insist, and went away, saying that Mademoiselle could
sleep quietly, since Jacques and he would make the cir-
cuit of the grounds of the chateau.

These arrangements of Michel had seemed to disturb
Amelie for a moment ; but she had soon realized that Michel
confined himself to going with Jacques to the borders of
the forest of Seillon, and the frequent appearance upon
the table either of hare or of roebuck proved that Michel
kept his word and made his promised rounds. Amelie
then ceased to disturb herself about Michel's rounds, which
were exactly in the opposite direction to that in which she
had feared they would be.

Now, as I have said, three days after the events which
I have just related, — or, more correctly speaking, during
the night which followed the third day, — those who were
accustomed to seeing a light in only two windows of the
chateau (in that of Amelie on the first floor and that of
Charlotte on the third) would have been astonished at
noticing that from eleven o'clock until midnight the four
windows on the first floor were lighted up. It is true
that each one of them was lighted by only a single candle.
They might have seen, besides, the figure of a young
girl, who was watching in the direction of the village of

This young girl was Am61ie, — Amelie, pale, breathing
heavily, and seeming to wait anxiously for a signal. At
the end of a few moments she wiped her forehead and
breathed more easily. A fire had just been lighted in
the direction in which she had been looking. She imme-
diately passed from room to room and extinguished, one
after another, the three candles, leaving only the one


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which was in her own room. As if the fire had been
waiting for this, it was extinguished in its turn.

Amelia now sat down near her window and remained
motionless, with her eyes fixed upon the garden. It was a
dark night, without stars or moon ; but at the end of a
quarter of an hour she saw, or rather guessed at, a shadow
which crossed the lawn and approached the chateau. She
placed her single candle in the farthest end of the room,
and came back to open her window.

The one for whom she had been waiting was already
upon the balcony. As upon the first night when we saw
him at her window, he wrapped his arras around the figure
of the young girl and bore her into the room. But she
offered a slight resistance ; she felt for the cord of the
blind, unfastened it from the nail which held it, and the
blind fell with more noise then prudence would perhaps
have indicated. Behind the blind she shut the window.
Then she went to get the candle from the comer where
she had concealed it. Her face was lighted up by it.

The young man uttered a cry of fright, for her face was
covered with tears. " What has happened 1 " he asked.

** A great misfortune," said the young girl.

" Oh, I was sure of it when I saw the signal by which
you summoned me, after having received me last night.
But tell me, is this misfortune irreparable ] "

" Very nearly," replied Am^lie.

" At least I hope it threatens only me."

" It threatens both of us."

The young man passed his hand over his forehead and
wiped, away the perspiration. "Come," he said, "lam

" If you are strong to listen, I am not strong enough to
tell it to you." Then taking a letter from the mantel
piece she said : " Read this. I received it this morning."


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The young man took the letter, and opening it, looked
at the signature. "It is from Mme. de Montrevel," he

" Yes, with a postscript from Eoland."

The young man read : —

My dear Daughter, — I hope the news which I am ahout
to announce to you will cause you as much joy as it has given
me and our dear Roland,

Sir John, whom you have always declared to be without a
heart, and who you pretended was a sort of mechanism, ac-
knowledges that this judgment of him was a correct one until
the day when he saw you ; but he maintains that since that
day he has had a real heart, and that this heart adores you.
Would you ever have suspected it, my dear Amelie, from his
aristocratic and polished manners, in which even the eyes of a
mother recognized no tenderness ?

This morning, while breakfasting with your brother, he
asked officially for your hand. Your brother welcomed the
overture with joy ; but he gave him no decided answer at
first, for the First Consul, when Roland went away to la
Vendue, had already spoken of taking charge of your marriage
arrangements. But the First Consul asked to see Lord Tanlay ;
arill when he saw him. Lord Tanlay from the first moment, in
spite of his national reserve, won the good graces of the First
Consul to such an extent that he charged him on the spot with
a mission for bis uncle, Lord Qrenville. Lord Tanlay started
at once for England. I do not know how many days he will
be absent, but upon his return he will certainly ask permission
to come to you as your betrothed.

Lord Tanlay is still young, with an agreeable face and an
immense fortune. He is admirably connected in England, and
is Roland's friend. I do not know of any man who has more
right, I will not say to your love, my dear Amelie, but your
deep esteem.

I have only a word or two to add. The First Consul is al-
ways very good to me and to your two brothers; and Mme.
Bonaparte has told me that she is only waiting for your mar-


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riage in order to have you near her. They talk of leaving Ibe
Luxembourg and going to live at the Tuileries. Do you
understand all that this change of residence implies ]
Your loving mother,

Clotildb de Montrevel.

Without stopping, the young man went on to Roland's

You have read, my dear little sister, what our good mother
has written. This marriage is suitable on every account. You
must not pretend to be bashful. The First Consul desires
that you shall be Lady Tanlay, which means that he com-
mands it.

I am leaving Paris for a few days ; but if I do not see you,
you will hear from me.

Yours, Roland.

"Well, Charles," asked Am^lie, when the young man
had finished reading, "what do you say to thati "

" It is something which we might expect at any time,
my poor angel, but which is not the less terrible."

"What shall we dor'

" There are three things to be done."

"What are they]"

"First, resist if you have strength for it; it is the
shortest and surest way."

Am^lie hung her head.

" You think you will never dare 9 "

*' Never!"

" But you are my wife, Am^ie ; a priest has blessed
our union."

"But they say that this marriage is nothing in the
sight of the law, since it has been blessed only by a

" And for you," said Morgan, " to be the wife of an out-
law is not enough 1 " As he spoke, his voice trembled.


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Am^lie sprang forward and threw herself into his
arms. " But my mother," she said, — " we did not have
my mother's presence and henediction."

" Because there were risks to run, and we wished to
share them with no one.''

*'And this man, — do you not understand that my
brother said he commanded 1 "

" Oh, if you loved me, Ara61ie, this man would soon
find that though he can change the face of nations, carry
war from one end of the world to another, found a method
of government, and build up a throne, he cannot force
one mouth to say yes when the heart says wo."

" If I loved you I " said Amelie, in a tone of gentle

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 9 of 24)