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suffers itself to be led by whosoever offers it a thistle as a bait.
I renounce once for all the alliance of public opinion, and I do not
care whether it blesses or crucifies me, whether it calls me emperor
or blockhead. You see now, empress, that I am entirely isolated, for
the ally which you offer to me will do me no good; I do not want it,
and I have no other allies. I thought it necessary to arm, in view
of the formidable armaments of France, and show our adversary that I
am not afraid of him, but am prepared for every thing. I therefore
put my army on the war footing, and showed Bonaparte that Austria is
able to cope with him, and that money and well-disciplined armies
are not wanting to her. But just now I shall not proceed any
further, and, unless something important should occur, all this war-
clamor and all importunities will make no impression on me. The
important event to which I alluded would be Napoleon's defeat in
Spain, whereby he would be compelled to keep his armies there. In
that event, I should no longer be isolated, but Spain would be my
ally, and I should probably declare war. But if matters should turn
out otherwise, if fortune should favor Napoleon there as everywhere
else, necessity alone will determine my course. I shall not attack,
and thereby challenge fate of my own accord; but I shall wait, sword
in hand, for Napoleon to attack me. If he does, God and my good
right will be on my side, and whatever may be the result of the
struggle, people will be unable to say that I rashly plunged into
war and broke the peace. If we succumb, it is the will of God and
the Holy Virgin, and not, our fault. And now, empress," said the
emperor, drawing a deep breath, "I have complied with your wishes
and talked politics with you. I think it will be enough once for
all, and you and you political friends will perceive that you cannot
do any thing with me, and that it will be best for you to let me
entirely alone; for I am so stubborn as not to allow others to lead
me, but pursue my own course. You have promised me, empress, to be a
faithful friend tome. I ask you now to give me a proof of your
friendship. Let us speak of something else than polities; that is
all that I ask of your friendship."

"Well, then, let us drop the subject," said the empress, with a deep
sigh. "Your majesty will be kind enough to permit me now to ask a
favor of you?"

"Ah, you speak as if there were anything that I could refuse you,"
exclaimed the emperor, smiling.

Ludovica bowed slightly. "I pray you, therefore," she said, "to be
kind enough to accompany me to the concert which is to be given at
the university hall. Haydn's 'Creation' will be performed there, and
I believe the old maestro himself will be present to receive the
homage of his admirers."

"H'm, h'm! I am afraid there is something else behind it," said the
emperor, thoughtfully, "and the audience will not content itself
with merely offering homage to old Haydn. But no matter, your
majesty wishes to go to the concert, and it will afford me pleasure
to accompany my empress."

At this moment they heard a low rap at the door leading from the
emperor's cabinet into the conference-room, where the officers of
the private imperial chancery were working.

"Well, what is it?" exclaimed the emperor. "Come in."

The emperor's private chamberlain slipped softly through the half-
opened door, and, on beholding the empress, be stood still without
uttering a word.

"Never mind, the empress will excuse you," said Francis.

"Just tell me what you have come in for."

"Your majesty," said the chamberlain, "the French ambassador, Count
Andreossi, has just arrived, and requests your majesty to grant him
an audience. He says he wishes to communicate information of great
importance to you."

"Why did he not apply to my minister of foreign affairs?" asked the
emperor, indignantly.

"Your majesty, the ambassador begs your pardon, but he says the
Emperor Napoleon gave him express orders to endeavor if possible to
speak with your majesty."

"And he is already in the anteroom, and waits for an immediate
audience?"

"Yes, your majesty."

"Well, then, I will receive him," said the emperor, rising. "Conduct
the ambassador to the small audience-room. - Well?" asked the
emperor, wonderingly, when the chamberlain did not withdraw. "You do
not go? Do you wish to tell me any thing else?"

"I do, your majesty. A courier has just arrived from Paris with
pressing dispatches from Count Metternich to your majesty."

"Ah, that changes the matter!" exclaimed the emperor. "Tell the
ambassador that I can not receive him now, but that he is to come
back in an hour, at eleven precisely, when I shall be ready to
receive him. Tell the courier to come to me at once."

The chamberlain slipped noiselessly out of the door, and the emperor
turned again to the empress:

"Empress," he said, "do me the honor of permitting me to offer you
my arm, and conduct you back to your rooms. You see I am a poor,
tormented man, who is so overwhelmed with business that he cannot
even chat an hour with his wife without being disturbed. Pity me a
little, and prove it to me by permitting me henceforth to rest in
your presence from the cares of business, and not talk politics."

"The wish of my lord and emperor shall be fulfilled," said the
empress, mournfully, taking the arm which the emperor offered to her
to conduct her back to her rooms.

Just as she crossed the threshold of the imperial cabinet, and
stepped into the corridor, she heard the voice of the chamberlain,
who announced: "The courier from Paris, Counsellor von Hudelist."

"All right, I shall be back directly!" exclaimed the emperor, and he
conducted the empress with a somewhat accelerated step through the
corridor. In front of the door at its end he stood still and bowed
to the empress with a pleasant smile.

"I have conducted you now to the frontier of your realm," said
Francis; "permit me, therefore, to return to mine. Farewell! We
shall go to the concert to-night. Farewell!"

Without waiting for the reply of the empress, he turned and hastily
re-entered his cabinet.

Ludovica entered her room and locked the door behind her. "Closed
forever!" she said, with a sigh. "At least I shall not try again to
avail myself of this door, and shall not expose myself again to the
sneers of the emperor. I must, then, bear this disgrace; I must
submit to being disdained and repudiated by my husband; I - But
hush!" the empress interrupted herself, "this is no time for
bewailing my personal fate, for the fate of all Austria is at stake
at this juncture. Highly important events must have occurred at
Paris, else Metternich would not have sent his confidant and
assistant Hudelist, nor would Andreossi demand an audience in so
impetuous a manner. Perhaps this intelligence may at length lead to
a decision to-day, or we may at least contribute to such a result. I
will write to the Archduke John, and ask him to see the emperor.
Perhaps he will succeed better than I did in persuading my husband
to take a determined stand."

She hastened to her writing-desk, and penned that mysterious little
note which she sent to the Archduke John in the book which she
pretended he had lent to her.


CHAPTER III.

THE COURIER AND THE AMBASSADOR.


The emperor, in returning to his cabinet, like the empress,
carefully locked the door behind him. He then turned hastily to the
courier, who was standing near the opposite door, and was just
bowing most ceremoniously to his majesty.

"Hudelist, it is really you, then?" asked the emperor. "You left
your post by the side of Metternich without obtaining my permission
to come to Vienna? Could you not find any other man to bring your
dispatches? I had commissioned you to remain always by the side of
Metternich, watch him carefully, and inform me of what he was doing
and thinking."

"Your majesty, I have brought my report with me," said Hudelist;"
and as for your majesty's order that I should always remain by the
side of Count Metternich, I have hardly violated it by corning to
Vienna, for I believe the Count will follow me in the course of a
few days. Unless your majesty recalls him to Vienna, the Emperor
Napoleon, I think, will expel him from Paris."

"You do not say so!" exclaimed Francis, shrugging his shoulders.
"You think he will issue a manifesto against Metternich, as he did
against the Prussian minister Von Stein? Well, let me hear the news.
What have you to tell me?"

"So many important things, your majesty, that the count and myself
deemed it expedient to report to your majesty verbally, rather than
send a dispatch which might give you only an unsatisfactory idea of
what has occurred. Hence I came post-haste to Vienna, and arrived
here only a quarter of an hour since; I pray your majesty therefore
to pardon me for appearing before you in my travelling-dress."

"Sit down, you must be tired," said the emperor, good-naturedly,
seating himself in an arm-chair, and pointing to the opposite chair.
"Now tell me all!"

"Your majesty," said Hudelist, mysteriously, while a strange
expression of mischievous joy overspread his ugly, pale face, "the
Emperor Napoleon has returned from Spain to France."

The Emperor Francis gave a start and frowned. "Why?" he asked.

"Because he intends to declare war against Austria," said Hudelist,
whose face brightened more and more. "Because Napoleon is
distrustful of us, and convinced that Austria is intent on attacking
him. Besides, he felt no longer at ease in pain, and all sorts of
conspiracies had been entered into in Paris, whereby his return
might have been rendered impossible if he had hesitated any longer."

"Who were the conspirators?"

"Talleyrand and Fouche, the dear friends and obedient servants of
the Emperor Napoleon. He knows full well what their friendship and
devotedness amount to. Hence be had the two gentlemen well watched,
and it seems his spies sent him correct reports, for, after
returning from Spain, he rebuked them unmercifully; be told them,
with the rage of a true Corsican, and regardless of etiquette, what
miserable fellows they were, and how high he stood above them."

"And yet he would like so much to be an emperor in strict.
accordance with court etiquette," said the emperor, laughing. "He is
anxious to have such a court about him as Louis XIV. had. But the
lawyer's son always reappears in the emperor, and, if it please God,
He will one day deprive him of all his power and splendor."

"And, if it please God, your majesty will be His instrument in
putting an end to Napoleon's power and splendor," cried Hudelist,
with a smile which distorted his face strangely, and caused two rows
of large yellow teeth to appear between the pale lips of his
enormous mouth. "It is true he stands firm as yet, and rebukes his
ministers as Nero did his freedmen. Talleyrand was still
thunderstruck at what the emperor had told him, when he had an
interview with Count Metternich and myself in Fouche's green-house.
To be sure, the phrases which he repeated to us were well calculated
to make even the blood of a patient minister boil. Napoleon sent for
the two ministers immediately after his arrival: when they came to
him, he let them stand at the door of his cabinet like humble
suppliants, and, running up and down before them, and casting fiery
glances of anger upon them, he upbraided them with their conduct,
and told them he was aware of all their intrigues, and knew that
they were conspiring with Austria, Spain, and, through Spain, with
England. Then he suddenly stood still in front of them, his hands
folded on his back, and his glances would have crushed the two
ministers if they had not had such a thick skin 'You are impudent
enough to conspire against me!' he shouted, in a thundering voice.
'To whom are you indebted for every thing - for your honors, rank,
and wealth? To me alone! How can you preserve them? By me alone!
Look backward, examine your past. If the Bourbons had reascended the
throne, both of you would have been hanged as regicides and
traitors. And you plot against me? You must be as stupid as you are
ungrateful, if you believe that anybody else could promote your
interest as well as I have done. Had another revolution broken out,
on whatever side you might have placed yourselves, you would
certainly have been the first to be crushed by it!'" [Footnote:
Napoleon's own words - See Schlosser, "History of the Eighteenth
Century," vol. viii., p. 488.]

"That is very plain talk, indeed," said Francis, laughing. "But
Talleyrand and Fouche have sound stomachs; they will digest it, and
not get congestions in consequence of it provided the emperor does
not punish them in a different manner."

"For the time being, he only punished Talleyrand, whom he deprived
of the position and salary of lord chamberlain. Fouche remained
police minister, but both are closely watched by Napoleon's secret
police. Nevertheless, they succeeded in holding a few unobserved
interviews with us. Count Metternich learned also from another very
well-informed quarter many accurate details regarding the plans and
intentions of the Emperor Napoleon."

"What do you mean? What well-informed quarter do you refer to?"
asked the emperor.

"Your majesty," said Hudelist, with a significant grin, "Count
Metternich is a very fine-looking man; now, Queen Caroline of
Naples, Murat's wife, and Napoleon's favorite sister, is by no means
insensible to manly beauty, and she accepted with evident
satisfaction the homage which the count offered to her. For the
rest, Napoleon winked at and encouraged this flirtation; for,
previous to his departure for Spain, he said to his sister loud
enough to be overheard by some of our friends, 'Amusez-nous ce
niais, Monsieur de Metternich. Nous en avons besoin a present!'
[Footnote: Hormayr, "The Emperor Francis and Metternich, a
Fragment," p. 55.] Madame Caroline Murat told Count Metternich, for
instance, that it is the Kings of Bavaria and Wurtemburg that keep
their spies for Napoleon here in Vienna, and that they urged
Napoleon vehemently to return from Spain in order to declare war
against Austria. And Napoleon is determined to comply with their
wishes. He travelled with extraordinary expedition from Madrid to
Paris, stopping only at Valladolid, where he shut himself up for two
days with Maret, his minister of foreign affairs, and dispatched
eighty-four messages in different directions, with orders to
concentrate his forces in Germany, and call out the full contingents
of the Rhenish Confederacy. His own troops and these German
Contingents are to form an array - to which he intends to give the
name of 'the German Army of the Emperor Napoleon.' Although Count
Metternich was aware of all this, he hastened to attend the great
reception which took place at the Tuileries after Napoleon's return,
in order to assure him again of the friendly dispositions of the
imperial court of Austria. But Napoleon gave hire no time for that.
He came to meet him with a furious gesture, and shouted to him in a
thundering voice: 'Well, M. de Metternich! here is fine news from
Vienna. What does all this mean? Have they been stung by scorpions?
Who threatens you? What would you be at? Do you intend again to
disturb the peace of the world and plunge Europe into numberless
calamities? As long as I had my army in Germany, you conceived no
disquietude for your existence; but the moment it is transferred to
Spain, you consider yourselves endangered! What can be the end of
these things? What, but that I must arm as you arm, for at length I
am seriously menaces; I am rightly for my former caution.'"
[Footnote: Napoleon's own words. - See Schlosser, vol. vii., p. 480.]

"What an impudent fellow!" murmured the Emperor Francis to himself.
"And Metternich? What did he reply?"

"Nothing at all, your majesty. He withdrew, returned immediately to
the legation, and I set out that very night to convey this
intelligence to your majesty. Your majesty, we can no longer doubt
that Napoleon has made up his mind to wage war against Austria. His
exasperation has risen to the highest pitch, and the events in Spain
have still more inflamed his rage and vindictiveness." "Then he is
unsuccessful in Spain?" asked the emperor, whose eyes brightened.

"Spain is still bidding him defiance, and fighting with the
enthusiasm of an heroic people who will suffer death rather than be
subjugated by a tyrant. She will never accept King Joseph, whom
Napoleon forced upon her; and as they see themselves deserted and
given up by their royal family, the Spanish patriots turn their eyes
toward Austria, and are ready to proclaim one of your majesty's
brothers king of Spain, if your majesty would send him to them with
an auxiliary army."

"That would be a nice thing!" cried the emperor, angrily. "Not
another word about it! If my brothers should hear it, their heads
would be immediately on fire, for they are very ambitious; hence, it
is much better that they should not learn anything of these chateaux
en Espagne. Tell me rather how it looks in France. Are the French
still satisfied with their emperor by the grace of the people!"

"They are not, your majesty. Let me tell you that not only
Napoleon's own officers, his marshals and ministers, are
dissatisfied with him; but the whole people, those who possess money
as well as those who own no other property than their lives, are
murmuring against the emperor. He robs the moneyed men of their
property by heavy taxes and duties, and those who have nothing but
their lives he threatens with death by forcing muskets into their
hands, and compelling them to do military service. Another
conscription has been ordered, and as the population of France is
decreasing, youths from sixteen to eighteen years old have to be
enrolled. France is tired of these everlasting wars, and she curses
Napoleon's insatiable bloodthirstiness no longer in secret only, but
loud enough to be heard by the emperor from time to time."

"And the army?"

"The army is a part of France, and feels like the rest of the French
people. The marshals are quarrelling among themselves and some of
them hate Napoleon, who never gives them time to repose on their
laurels and enjoy the riches which they have obtained during their
campaigns. The army is a perfect hotbed of conspiracies and secret
societies, some of which are in favor of the restoration of the
republic, while others advocate the restoration of the Bourbons.
Napoleon, who is served well enough at least by his spies, is aware
of all these things. He is afraid of the discontent and disobedience
of his marshals and generals, conspiracies in the army, the
treachery of his ministers, and the murmurs of his people; and he
fears, besides, that the fanaticism of the Spaniards may dim his
military glory; hence, he feels the necessity of arousing the
enthusiasm of his people by fresh battles, of silencing the
malcontents by new victories, and of reviving the heroic spirit of
his army. He hopes to gain these victories in a war between his
German array and the Austrian forces. He is, therefore, firmly
resolved to wage war, and the only question now is, whether your
majesty will anticipate him, or await a declaration of war on his
part. This is about all I have to communicate to your majesty; the
vouchers and other papers I shall have the honor to deposit at the
imperial chancery."

The emperor made no reply, but gazed into vacancy, deeply absorbed
in his reflections. Hudelist fixed his small sparkling eyes on the
bent form of the emperor; and as he contemplated his care-worn,
gloomy face, his flabby features, his protruding under-lip, his
narrow forehead, and his whole emaciated and fragile form, an
expression of scorn overspread the face of the counsellor; and his
large mouth and flashing eyes seemed to say, "You are the emperor,
but I do not envy you, for I am more than you are; I am a man who
knows what he wants."

At this moment the clock commenced striking slowly, and its shrill
notes aroused the emperor from his contemplation.

"Eleven o'clock," he said, rising from his chair, "the hour when I
am to give an audience to the French ambassador. Hudelist, go to the
chancery and wait there until I call you. You will not return to
Paris anyhow, but resume your former position in the chancery of
state. I am glad that you have returned, for I consider you a
faithful, able, and reliable man, whom I have good reason to be
content, and who, I hope, will not betray my confidence. I know,
Hudelist, you are ambitious, and would like to obtain a
distinguished position. Well, serve me - do you hear? - serve none but
me honestly and faithfully; watch everything and watch closely;
never think of obtaining the friendship and good graces of others,
nor seeking for any other protectors, save me; and I shall always be
favorably disposed toward you, and see to it that the cravings of
your ambition are satisfied. Go then, as I said before, to the
chancery of state; and on hearing me re-enter the room, step in
again. There are many other things which I wish to tell you."

"I see through him," said Hudelist, looking with a smile after the
emperor, who closed the door of the cabinet behind him, to repair to
the small reception-room; "yes, I see through the emperor. He is
glad of my return, for I am a good spy for him in regard to the
doings of his brothers, of whom he is jealous, and whom he hates
with all his heart. If I succeed one day in communicating to him
things capable of rendering the archdukes suspicious to him, or even
convicting them of a wrong committed against him, the emperor will
reward and promote me, and, as he says, satisfy the cravings of my
ambition. Well, well, we shall see. If you watch a man very closely
and are really intent on spying out something suspicious in his
conduct, you will in the end surely find some little hook or other
by which you may hold him, and which you may gradually hammer out
and extend until it becomes large enough to hang the whole man on
it. In the first place, I shall pay particular attention to the
Archduke John, for his brother is particularly jealous of and angry
with him. Ah, if I could discovery such a little hook by which to
hold him, the emperor would reward my zeal with money, honors, and
orders, and he would henceforward repose the most implicit
confidence in my fidelity. Well, I shall think of it; the idea is a
good one, and worthy of being matured. I shall form a scheme to make
the good and munificent Archduke John the ladder by which I shall
rise. I must conquer, and if I can do it only by pulling down
others, it is the duty of self-preservation for me not to shrink
from the task. I will now go to the chancery and wait there for the
emperor's return. Ah, how his old limbs trembled when he heard of
Napoleon's return. How hard and unpleasant it was for him to swallow
the bad news which I communicated to him! There is no more
interesting spectacle than that presented by a human face passing
through all the various stages of excitement, and involuntarily
performing in its features the five acts of a tragedy. And all the
better when this human face is that of an emperor. During my whole
journey from Paris to Vienna I was enjoying, by anticipation, the
moment when I should deliver this Pandora's box to the emperor. He
is opposed to war, and must nevertheless wage it; that is the best
part of the joke. Aha! it is a fine sight to behold the gods of this
earth a prey to such human embarrassments! I felt like bursting into
loud laughter at the woe-begone appearance of the emperor. But hush,
hush! I will go to the chancery until he returns."

In the meantime the emperor had repaired to the small reception-
room, where Count Andreossi, the French ambassador, was already
waiting for him.

Francis responded to the respectful greeting of the ambassador by a
scarcely perceptible nod, and strode, with head erect, into the
middle of the room. There he stood still, and casting a stern and
almost defiant glance on the ambassador, he said in a cold,
dignified tone: "You requested an audience of me in a very unusual
manner. I granted it to prove to you my desire to remain at peace
with France. Now speak; What has the ambassador of the Emperor of
the French to say to the Emperor of Austria?"

"Your majesty, I have to present to you, in the first place, the
respects of my master, who has returned from Spain to Paris."

Francis nodded his head slowly. "What next?" he asked.

"Next, my sovereign has charged me with a very difficult commission,



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