This incident in a great career is historically correct, claims the author, and has not been written at length before nor used in fiction or drama.
ONE of the smaller State Rooms in the King’s Palace at Berlin was brilliantly alight with the soft glow of many wax candles set in gilt sconces and candelabra everywhere, reflected in mirrors and in the polished floor. Beautiful paintings and upholstery of crimson velvet and gold, together with inlaid cabinets, against the wall, holding valuable china, made the room seem warmer and more homelike than some of the large stately salons, and for this reason, Napoleon, Emperor of the trench and Conqueror of the Prussian capital, had chosen it as his private reception room, where he held small audiences, on occasions other
than State ones.
It was the last of his own personal suite of apartments and leading from it were his study, his bedroom and dressing-room, with a private winding stairway strictly reserved to his own use. As he entered it on this particular November evening in the early eighteen-hundreds a little group of people already waiting for him, dispersed, leaving space in the centre of the room for him and the two men accompanying him.
THE Princess’ colour rose and her eyes were wistful. “I would like to ■how him that I am grateful for all he has done towards you, dearest—but it will be difficult if he discourages me.” Her husband glanced towards the Emperor, who was standing now with his back to the room, discoursing to Savary.
“You must refuse to be discouraged,” he said impatiently. “Make yourself pleasant to him the instant I present you. He has a weakness for your sex—it is well known.”
"I have heard, on the contrary, that he adores his Empress and that Josephine has a peculiar charm which men are very sensible of. Besides I would not appeal to him in that way, even if I could. It might give him the idea that I was not altogether loyal to you—as I am, you know well.”
The Prince made an impatient exclamation.
“It is your duty,” he said, “to think of me and of your country. He is our conqueror. We desire consideration from him for our compatriots. He must be appeased. The surest way to success with him is through a woman’s beauty. And you are beautiful, little one, as you know. For my sake make yourself as charming to Napoleon as you did to me, when first we met. You were not afraid of me—eh?”
“No—because I loved you at first right.”
Her charming eyes, radiant with pride and love, smiled into his, for these were early days and they had scarcely lost sight of their honeymoon yet.
“Then, if you love me still—”
“But of course!” she broke in with ■ubdued vehemence. “What are you *».ying?”
“Since you love me still,” amended the Prince, “make up your mind to
charm the Corsican. It will be easy for you to withdraw when you have gained his promise for certain concessions.
Your country demands it of you.”
She was silent for a moment. Then her eyes lighted up for, womanlike, she found the idea of making a sacrifice for her people attractive, and she said, “Yes, I will try to please him—the little Emperor!”
And at this instant she met his eyes, bent full upon her face, and blushed, for they seemed to be reading the words upon her lips.
Napoleon had paused in his talk and looked round towards Prince Hatzfeld, his quick glance passing on to the young wife whose well-poised head and round white throat, set on a pair of exquisite shoulders, caught his admiration.
The Emperor was in one of his most didactic moods and, with a brief glance and salute to the others, he passed on to the far end of the salon, still talking earnestly to Duroc, his Grand Marshal, and General Savary, Director of the Secret Police.
The group in deference to his obvious wish, resumed their conversation in voices sufficiently loud to show that they were not listening to his emphatic sentences spoken ami-voix. For unless he was deliberately talking to the general company, Napoleon had a great objection to being overheard.
A young and exceedingly attractive woman who had been chatting with the others, drew her husband aside now and said, with a glance towards the Emperor, I feel afraid of him. How abrupt he is—yet how dominating.”
Prince Hatzfeld gave her a chiding glance. “Afraid!” he echoed. “You will certainly fail to please him if you show fear. He admires women and they can venture things with him that men would not dare. You must be spirited, even in your deference, or he will dismiss you with a curt word or two.”
However he turned his back again and continued his conversation. “You warn me of what I have already anticipated and taken precautions against,” he said brusquely to Savary. “It was to provide for this contingency, which I foresaw, that I placed the Post Offices under the control of my special Police—which means under your control, my friend. See that you take full advantage of it.”
“I am exercising the most careful supervision,” Savary answered, “and yet, Sire, I cannot trace the spy. But there certainly is one. The letter, guarded as it was, that referred to the number and disposition of your Majesty’s forces was written by someone in possession of accurate knowledge—someone who is attached to the person of King Frederick William. It was an answer to some communication from Berlin, signed only by initials and addressed to initials at the Municipal Guards Club. We re-sealed the letter carefully so that no one could detect that it had been opened. Yet it is still in the Club letter-rack. No one has claimed it.”
“Would you care,” asked Napoleon grimly, "to know the name of the traitor in our camp?”
Savary looked a question in reply.
The Emperor went to a writing-table and, taking a pen
and a piece of paper, wrote a name down, then folded the paper and placed it in an envelope which he sealed.
“The name is there,” he said, as he handed the envelope to Savary. “When you have found the spy, open and read!”
Savary bowed, perplexed and chagrined.
ONLY a month had passed since Napoleon made his triumphant entry through the gate of Charlottenberg, into Berlin, with the Imperial Guard as escort, and during that period he had been busy with the administration of his new empire, the organization of his Government, and the arrangement of his forces.
He had already promulgated the Berlin Decree, in which orders were issued to all peoples, nations, and languages under the Imperial Government, or allied with France, to enforce the Continental blockade, prohibiting all commercial intercourse with England, her allies and colonies. Yet he had apparently found time and means to ascertain who the traitor at Berlin was, while Savary, with all his ingenuity and the Secret Agencies at his command was still in ignorance. It was like the Emperor.
If he noticed inefficiency on the part of a Minister or official, he did the, task himself, in order to convey at once a rebuke and a lesson.
Savary knit his brows in thought and the Emperor, with the cleft at the corner of his lips deepening in a «mile, ironical but kindly, said, “Speeches pass away but acts remain! You are silent, Savary. I shall expect some decisive action from you before the next twenty-four hours are over.”
And turning to Duroc he said, “Marshal, I think you know the Princess Hatzfeld, do you not? Is that she who i« with the Prince?”
“Yes, Sire. They have not been married more than a few months.”
“And she was—?”
“Daughter of the Minister Schulenbourg.”
“Who hates France—is it not so?”
“He has that reputation, Sire.”
“Tell the Prince I desire to speak to him. He will doubtless present his wife tome.”
Duroc crossed the room to Hatzfeld and delivered the
message. The Prince signed to the Princess to follow him, at a short distance, and hastened to Napoleon.
“All goes well with the town, Governor?” enquired the Emperor, for one of his first appointments had been that of Hatzfeld to the Civil Governorship of the Capital, where lately he had served his King, Frederick William of Prussia.
■^TAPOLEON had formed a municipal Guard of sixty ’ members, together with two thousand of the richest burgesses, to assist in maintaining order and discipline in Berlin, and had nominated the Prince head of the Guard, in addition to his other post.
“All goes well,” replied the Prince.
“I am going to review a Division to-morrow,” said Napoleon, “and shall be away for some hours. But I count on tranquility under your rule during my absence.” “You can rely on me,” replied the Prince with assurance, adding, “May I be permitted the honor of presenting my wife to your Majesty?”
“I shall be pleased to make the Princess’s acquaintance.”
The Princess advanced and took the hand extendedlo her by Napoleon. He detained her fingers an instant longer than formality prescribed and his keen eyes searched her face while he did so.
The Princess’s fingers fluttered a little in the firm close clasp, and her eyelashes bashfully veiled the confusion in her eyes.
“You are wearing a red ribbon, Madame,” he said. “It is an antagonistic color to me—the color of England!”
She looked up smiling, as he released her hand. “The ribbon came from your own Paris,” she said, “but if your Majesty asks, I can take it off.”
“I do not ask,” he retorted. “I command or I am silent.”
“Then I will take a woman’s privilege,” she answered gently, “and grant what is unasked.” She untied the knot and drew the ribbon from its place. Duroc and Hatzfeld retreated a pace or two, talking together, for they realized that Napoleon was interested.
“You are right, Madame,” he said. “A woman is never so charming as when she gives something without demanding anything in return—for love, in fact.”
“It is woman’s province,” she replied, “just as war—in which everything has to be paid for—is a man’s!”
TTE LOOKED at her intently for a moment. Was she really ingenuous or had she some deep and crafty meaning in this remark.
“War and Love,” he said at last, “the two great forces —which combine sometimes. The only victory possible for a man, in love’s warfare, is flight. And even then he is flying from his health and happiness, for there is neither without woman.”
“Your Majesty is too great a conqueror himself,” the Princess said, “to grudge conquest to us poor women, I am sure.”
“I not only do not grudge it,” he said, “but I assist it. I ask no quarter.”
She made a little murmur of dissent.
“You doubt it?” he asked.
“I must not contradict you, Sire,” she answered demurely.
“I am never angry when contradicted,” he said; “I ask to be enlightened. What makes you think that it would not be easy to capture me?”
“Instinct, I suppose,” she admitted, “or rather intuition. It is the feminine of reason, as your Majesty knows.” She was fencing with him, lightly and tactfully, with just sufficient coquetry to attract him.
The Emperor took the red ribbon with which her fingers were toying. “Shall this be a gage between us,” he demanded, “a signal that your intuition is at fault?”
The Princess did not answer. A faint colour dyed her cheeks, for Napoleon spoke with meaning and she understood that the little bout of flirtation between them was becoming more serious.
“Shall I take silence as consent?” he asked insistently, though in a lower voice.
She glanced at him with embarrassment. “You see me,” he continued, “practically disarmed and at your mercy. I do not fight where I am sure of defeat. I abandoned my artillery at Mantua because I had only thirty-thousand men, and there were a hundred thousand against me. You are too strong for me, Madame. I know it in advance.”
She tried to smile and regain the easy lightness of their first conversation.
“You will turn my head, Sire, ” she said, “if you flatter meso.”
“And it will be the first time it has been turned?”
“No—I made a conquest of my husband the night that we met.”
APOLEON understood well why she mentioned the ^ ' Prince; she was nervously reminding him of her husband’s presence.
“That goes without saying,” he replied, "but—since then? You can confess yourself to me, Madame—you know I have been anointed!”
“I will confess that one other man has shared my thoughts recently—thoughts of affection and respectful gratitude.”
He made a gesture of impatience. “A poor substitute for stronger feeling,” he commented; “neither men nor women are ever attached to one by benefits conferred. I beg you to displace me in your heart as a benefactor. I do not wish to enter it by the escalier de service
The Princess began to feel troubled. It was difficult to keep up the semblance of badinage when he insisted on being so personal and so intimate.
However she laughed and shook her head. “I do not think any staircase would keep your Majesty out,” she said, “if you had made up your mind to enter anywhere. There is such a thing as a master-mind, and a masterkey.”
“Danton was right,” he remarked, “when he said that only three things were necessary to success—De Vaudace, puis de l'aduace, et encore de l'audace! What do you say, Madame?”
“For a man,” she answered, “yes; for a woman, no.”
“You are right,” the Emperor said. “I have no sympathy with intriguing females. I have been accustomed to those who are amiable, gentle and conciliatory —and such I love.”
There was a passionate fire in his eyes, and a dangerous ring in his voice. The Princess felt her heart beat quicker at the call of this magnetic personality; she began to understand Napoleon’s extraordinary influence when he chose to exert it.
“You and I, Madame,” he went on, “are opposite in nature. We form a contrast which again completes a perfect whole. I should like to talk with you when we are more private. If you will depart now and return later, when the audience is at an end, we can arrive at a closer estimate of one another.”
TT WAS an assignation, veiled but imperious—a com-*■ mand, more than an entreaty. The Princess looked involuntarily towards her husband and caught an approving glance from him.
“You honor me, Sire,” she answered.
“It is my delight to honor you, Madame,” he replied. "I shall be ready to receive you at half-past-eleven.”
It was at this critical moment that a letter was brought to the Emperor, who, with a word of excuse, opened it. It contained an enclosure, at which he glanced before crushing it in his hand. The Princess made a curtesy and turned to rejoin her husband.
THE Guard looked for further orders, standing on either side of the Prince, who with flashing eyes and a curious whiteness coming round his lips, confronted the Emperor, his hand upon his sword.
“The offence you are accused of is that of a spy,” Napoleon said. “You have yourself suggested the proceedings that should be carried out if guilt is proved. I hold the proof here,” he struck the enclosure which he was grasping, “in a letter in your own handwriting.”
He made a signal of command to the Guard, and the Prince struck dumb—for he had recognized his treacherous letter—yielded his sword and was marched away.
“Duroc,” said the Emperor, “Savary has just sent me this letter, intercepted on its way to the Postmaster, containing an enclosure addressed to the King of Prussia. The enclosure is an account of everything that has happened in Berlin since my arrival here, with the minutest details as to my forces and plans. The letter c’oncludes with a hope that King Frederick will soon be re-instated, while 1 am ousted. It is signed ‘Hatzfeld.’ ”
Duroc was amazed. “After your trust in him and your magnanimity in placing him at the head of affairs, it is a poor return, Sire. I am convinced the Princess has no knowledge of her husband’s treachery.”
“Why?” The question was curt and peremptory. “Because I knew her well before her marriage. She is gentle and straightforward, I am sure.”
“She is unfortunate then to be mixed up in this. The motive for her presentation to me is very apparent. However, there must be no delay in this matter. The Prince must be proved guilty—for this letter admits of no possible denial or exculpation—and will be shot forthwith. My presence here is not necessary. I shall keep my engagement and the trial can proceed without me. I will see Savary before I quit the Palace but no one else, and give him back this incriminating letter, with its enclosure, so that it can be produced in evidence. When Savary opens the sealed envelope I gave him this evening, he will find the name of the spy—Hatzfeld!”
He turned on his heel and passing rapidly through the
Heaven let me see him and speak with him!” Duroc could not refuse her. “I will risk the Emperor’s displeasure,” he exclaimed, “no matter what it costs me. Conceal yourself, Madame, and when the Emperor passes through, you will have your chance. I will leave the room and keep anyone from entering so that the coast shall be clear for you.”
Napoleon, however, looking past her, at Prince Hatzfeld, made a gesture to him to approach.
“I have a communication here,” he said, tapping the letter he held,
“which reveals that certain information is leaking out to the Prussians, about my troops. Will you render me assistance in discovering the culprit?”
The Prince expressed both surprise and loyalty. “You can count on the Municipal Guard,” he said.
“There is not one amongst my men who is not grateful to you, Sire, for your recognition of the Guard, and personally I am absolutely at your service.”
Napoleon made a gesture to Duroc, at this moment, which the Marshal understood. He conducted the Princess to the door and afterwards, one by one, dispersed the small company, telling them that affairs of State prevented the Emperor from granting any further audiences.
During those moments Napoleon read again the letter in his hand and then looking intently at the Prince asked, “In your opinion what should be the punishment for a spy who betrays a high trust?”
“Such a man,” answered Hatzfeld decisively, “could expect no leniency. He should be arrested, tried by court-martial, and, if proved guilty, shot at once.”
The Emperor made no direct reply. Instead he spoke to Duroc.
“Send for the Guard,” he said.
The Grand Marshal obeyed; and there was silence for some moments until the Guard filed
Napoleon returned their salute and, with a sharp intonation of voice, gave a swift, brief order:
“Arrest the Prince Hatzfeld.”
The Guard advanced, while the Prince, thunderstruck, broke into furious protest.
“What does this mean?” he said, “this injustice, this insult? You have made no accusation against me, Sire. I demand to know v/ith what offence I am charged. I refuse to yield.”
door leading to his own room, let it close after him.
Duroc walked up and down the salon, perplexed
and undecided. The Emperor doubtless had gone to prepare for his midnight ride out of the capital; for the moment Duroc dared not disturb him. Yet there was still much to be arranged, with regard to Hatzfeld’s trial. Savary might, of course, arrive for an audience at any moment, and Duroc must be there to receive him and explain the Emperor’s wishes.
AS HE paced to and fro, there came a vehement knocking at the door, and, finding there was no result to his permission to enter, the Grand Marshal strode to the door and opened it.
A figure in white satin passed swiftly in, and trembling hands were raised in appeal to him while Princess Hatzfeld’s shaking lips tried to form the words which she had come to say.
At last she gained sufficient voice to stammer, “My husband! They tell me he has been arrested!”
“It is, alas! true, Madame,” Duroc answered gravely. “Help me!” she exclaimed, “for the sake of our former friendship! What is it that the Prince is charged with?” “Alas! Madame, it is with treason. I know of no way of assisting you. It is in the Emperor’s hands. He has ordered that your husband should be tried at once by court-martial.”
She reeled slightly and put out her hand to support herself. Duroc gently assisted her to a chair.
“I must see him at once—the Emperor,” she said. “Madame, he has given orders that no one but General Savary is to be admitted. He will grant no further audience now before he starts.”
“But he gave me an appointment—a rendez-vous— here, at half-past-eleven. He must have forgotten that. I have his own permission to be here."
Duroc looked at her in perplexity. “In that case,” he said with hesitation, “it might be possible. Yet his orders just now were quite explicit. No one but Savary.”
The Princess clasped Duroc’s hand between her own, her eyes full of tears. “It is life and death,” she pleaded, “my husband’s and my own—for I could not survive him. Let me see the Emperor. Tell him I came by his own appointment and that you could not persuade me to leave—say anything you like—only for the love of
CHE dried her eyes rapidly and rose, looking ^ round for a hiding-place and finally choosing the curtains which hung over a window close to the door by which Napoleon would return. Duroc disposed them so that she could watch the door without being seen by Napoleon; and then passed out to the corridor. Five leaden moments passed, and then the door was flung open and Napoleon, in his riding gear, strode in, saying sharply “Duroc!”
The Princess glided out and flung herself on her knees. He stared at her angrily for an instant, then put out his hand and, taking hers, made an imperious gesture for her to rise.
“How is this?” he demanded.
“You asked me to return at this time, Sire.” “I invited you to see how you would respond to my invitation,” he answered brusquely, “to make sure that your husband’s honour was not too dear to you.”
“It is not true,” she cried passionately. “You have had my husband arrested for treason but he is no traitor. He is innocent. I swear it on my life.”
“Your husband is a spy,” Napoleon answered, “and must meet the fate of spies. But you—who responded to all my advances, even to this last and unmistakable one—what is he to you? You cannot pretend to grieve for a man whom you were ready to betray—as he has betrayed me.” “Sire,” she said, her pride restraining the tears that burnt her eyes, “you are cruel and unjust to both of us. I had no intention of bringing dishonour to my husband and I should not have endeavoured to please you if it had not been for his wish. I meant, if he insisted on my keeping your rendezvous, to tell you, as I tell you now, that I love him better than my life. You would have been generous and let me go unharmed—you are too great a man to be ungenerous.”
“So—it was as I suspected,” Napoleon exclaimed, “your husband wished to involve you, in the hope that if his treachery were discovered, you would win his pardon from me. He is base indeed; even you, who love him, cannot fail to condemn him for this traffic in your charms.” “Sire,” she said, “he wished me merely to please you in order to soften you towards our people—nothing more. He had not anticipated, any more than I had, that you would pay so much court to me. He loves me and he is innocent. Give him back to me and he will serve your Majesty well and truly. You have been misinformed. He is no spy.”
Napoleon, gazing steadily at her, took from his breast the letter and held it out to her.
“Whose handwriting is this?” he asked sternly. “The writer of this letter is the traitor.”
SHE took the letter and scanned it, then she burst into tears. “It is my husband’s writing!” she sobbed. “God help him!”
Then, as Napoleon’s gaze softened a little, for he had shewn her the letter to test her, and to see if she would have some ready lie with which to cajole him, she sank again onto her knees and lifted her clasped hands to him.
“Sire,” she said, “I have heard that your Empress is very dear to you and that your greatest wish has been to have a son of whom she was the mother. If this were so, would you refuse her anything that she asked you? If she were only here, I would appeal to her. I would say, ‘When my son sees the light he will learn that his father died a shameful death as a traitor and that he has only a broken-hearted mother to console him for such a loss.' ’’ Napoleon’s stern regard melted. Again he raised her but with a gentleness this time that was almost tender.
“You are right, Madame,” he said, “the Empresa Josephine is very dear to me and for her sake I have sympathy with all women who show goodness and feeling and truth—as you have done. Your husband is fortunate in having such a wife and in the prospect of a son who may inherit her good qualities.”
“You will pardon him, Sire,” she whispered breathlessly. Continued on page 71
Continued from page 2L
‘Madame, you hold the sole proof of the Prince’s guilt in your hand. If you refuse to return it to me, what can I do? I do not war against women, as I told you.” * She looked at him with an eager question. “You mean, Sire—?”
“I mean that if you were to destroy it, I should be compelled to order the Prince’s release—since there would be no documentary evidence against him.”
CHE gave along, deep, rapturous sigh u and, with her eyes on the Emperor, moved to the fireplace and held the letter over the flames.
The Emperor made no attempt to stop her. She dropped the envelope and its contents into the heart of the fire.
Then she came back to him, with shining eyes and a radiant smile on her tremulous mouth.
He stretched out his hand and took hers; and, as she raised his to her lips, he called “Duroc!” in a loud, clear voice.
The Grand Marshal entered quickly and stood just inside the door.
“The Princess,” said Napoleon, “whom you permitted to enter here, has so much belief in her husband’s innocence that she has indignantly destroyed the compromising document. We have now no evidence against him. See that he is immediately released and informed of the circumstance.”
Duroc bowed and withdrew.
The Princess would again have knelt to thank the Emperor, but he prevented her.
“Your husband has a better wife than he deserves, Madame,” he said. “Tell him, from me, to cherish and protect her. May Heaven grant to all of us such loyalty as yours.”
He led her to the door, and stood saluting her as she went out.
Then, with a return of his usual imperious manner, he rapidly passed into the corridor and was gone.