Abbildungen der Seite

a very old man, who had been the Austrian equivalent of such in the Duo de Reichstadt's a title). regiment. He was one of his Then came & orisis in the olosest personal friends, and life of the unfortunate Aiglon; gave her many details respect- he persuaded the Emperor to ing the Dao's life at the Court come and see the regiment of the Emperor Francis. Marie manoeuvre, after which he rode Louise was then living in Italy ap to receive his congratulawith Count Neipperg, and her tions, and for a while moved son was never allowed to visit along with the Imperial Staff her, but occasionally she came in a line parallel to that which to Vienna and saw him there. the troops were taking. TurnHis name, of course, was ing his horse to resume his Napoleon, but that word was post at the head of the regi. never attered, and he was ment, he found that a wide supposed not to know that ditoh lay between them. He he was the great Emperor's was a very fine horseman. son.

“ Comme l'a été mon petit At this point I asked the garçon," said the Empress, Empress if she believed the with the sad, lingering infleoconcealment of such a faot tion her voice took whenever was possible, recalling that a she mentioned the Prince Imoertain illegitimate obild at & perial, : : . and, setting his boarding-school I was at was horse at the obstacle, he oleared sapposed by our schoolmistress it with such dash and grace to be ignorant of what was that, moved to sadden admiradelioately called her “misfor- tion, the regiment shouted as tane,” bat, as a matter of fact, one manknew all about it. The Empress “ Vivo Napoléon !” said she imagined it must have This was almost & penal been thus with the Duo de offence; the regiment was Reichstadt, but Prokesch had taken from him and bidden to told her that not a soul about resume its old name. . . . This that Court dared to mention by order of the all-powerful the dreadful name of Napoleon Minister, Metterniob. even in a dream, so terrifio was From that moment, Prokesoh the ban placed upon it by Met- said, the falseness of the young ternich. Strange to say, the Dake's position, the hopelessyoung Dake was far more be- ness of his fate, seemed sudloved and petted by his grand. denly to dawn upon him; it father than all the rest of the was as if some vital chord bad Imperial children, and, as a snapped. He languished, beconcession to his passionate came a prey to settled melan. love of soldiering, the Emperor choly, and the seeds of tagave him one of his most beroulosis, which had always famous mounted regiments of been latent, developed the Gaard, and had it re- rapidly, that the world bechristened “The Duo de Reich- lieved he had been poisoned. stadt's Own" (or whatever is Later on in that conversation the Empress told me that, make the best of things, and when at the Tuileries, she had get as muoh distraotion out of seen a diary of Marie Louise life as possible. that was evidently genuine, and from which one gathered She herself was one of the that her nature was romantio most fundamentally serious and sentimental to the last natures I have ever known, degree. Moreover, she had and I oannot imagine that she been brought up to abjure would ever have found relief any oharaoteristios or prefer- from sorrow in what are oalled enoeg of her own, even more “les distractions." Fate drove than are other princesses— her baok, with blow after blow, fashioned, in short, to fit in apon her ultimate reserves, anywhere; and onoe she had and fortunately these were soon Neipperg, she desired many and reliable. Without never to hear Napoleon's name wishing to appear unduly mentioned. As for her sup- ognioal, foremost among these posed longing to join him at I must place the possession of St Helena-a touching legend a very large private fortune. which was pat about in de. But what must have helped fenoe of that least sympathetic her as much as anything was of royal ladies, and, as we know, her inexhaustible interest in enoouraged by the Prisoner of life itself, whether abstract St Helena himself-never was questions, history, politios, or anything farther from the the lives of others. She never truth!

seemed to me to think of herSpeaking of other legends self at all, not to pity herself, such as posterity is apt to not to consider herself in any weave around certain crowned way. She endured, .. and heads, the Empress onoe made went on. I have seen her in laugh about

her own all sorts of situations and in mother-in-law, La Reine Hor various moods; in what I cantense. We outsiders have not desoribe as other than the always imagined that the highest spirits, . . . and in life of this deeply-tried Queen what, with equal sinoerity, was a record of unbroken mel- must be called & bad temper. anoholy; but, acoording to the But never once have I heard Empress, a gayer, more plea- her utter a mean or angenerous sure-loving nature never ex- thought. isted. The harps and willow- Be her weaknesses what trees

embellishments they may-and I have never added by sentimental oom- seen any of the slightest oonmentators : "C'était de son sequenoe—the extreme pobility époque," she remarked, “il of her nature, together with fallait à 00 temps - là que her flawless kindness, remain toutes les femmes fondissent the master impressions. Her en pleurs"; and I must add that manners were perfoot, because the Empress had nothing but she was never thinking of hersympathy for people who, in self, and was quick beyond spite of slings and arrows, belief to guess the feelings of



others. If she thought she ohanged their habits, root and had given, whether inadvert- branch. The Empress spoke ently or in the heat of argu- freely before those in whose ment, the very slightest pain, discretion she had complete or even & passing wound to confidenoe; but in all those five vanity, no trouble was too years the only comment I great for her to take in order heard escape her lips was a to soothe that person's ruffled perpetual fear that her guests feelings. And if one had no were bored to death, and a other friend in the world to regret that it was out of her whom to turn in trouble, to power, given war-time oonher one could turn with con. ditions, to do anything to fidence. All she did was done alleviate that boredom. on grand lines—20 hanging baok, no half measures, not And all this time a shadow the faintest desire for com- worse than death hung over mendation or applause, and her, . . . for she was called very little expectation of grati. upon to face the probability of tude. Her generosity in money total blindness. She had been matters was unbounded, her one of the most assiduong charities unlimited, 1 ... but readers I have known-not of the world heard nothing of novels, for which she had a these things. Only the other contempt as unreasonable as day I was staggered to learn it was adamantine, but of stiff what immense sums she had books which most people given to hospitals in Franoe, would have thought twice both French and Spanish, about tackling. True, she during the war; but the was immensely fond of conbeneficiaries were sternly for- versation and of company; bidden to publish the facts, but the relations and inti

which both my in- mates she was accustomed to formant and I thought was a receive as guests, year after pity.

year, were now out of her When the Germans invaded reach. For one thing, Gov. Belgium, the head of the Bona- ernments discouraged private parte family and his wife were travelling; for another, there bidden to consider Farn. was now no room for guests borough Hill their home, and at Farnborough Hill. Even there they, their children and from such distraction as casual their servants, lived till peace English visitors might have was signed. It

It was only afforded her she found herself natural; no one could desire debarred, ... for who had that it should be otherwise. time or petrol for visiting in Yet I often wondered how those days? It may be im. many ladies of ninety would agined, therefore, what it accommodate themselves 80 meant to her to be deprived simply, naturally, and gen- of books, and unfortunately erously to a situation that she could not bear to be read

· The Empress left one million francs to charities in her Will.

to, yet no one ever heard quiokly, and the aid of Aline her grumble.

and her other maid was in. Onoe, when a cold oonfined voked at the finishing-off parts her upstairs, I found her and and other orises. One day her old maid, Aline, who had when I went into her sittingbeen with her at the Tuileries, room she was busily rolling busy pasting anoient cuttings into a ball a skein of wool from newspapers into huge that was stretched across two sorap-books. The maid, farohair-baoks: “ Vous voyez à more shaky than the mistress, quoi je suis réduite,” she said. bat at least in possession of It stabbed one's heart to hear her eyesight, was on all-fours her. She knew that, ... and on the floor; the Empress, that is why she never comseated in her chair, was point. plained. ing with a stick to the outtinge Of her amazing physical she wished pasted into a par- vigour at ninety-three the tioular place - oooasionally, following adventure will give under the influence of an an idea,

an idea. She had been going attaok of mistrast, insisting upstairs to dress for dinner, on having the whole monstrous and arrived at the top, book lifted on to the table, and thought there was stills seizing the paste-brush herself. step. Finding none, in order But gently, firmly, with Tuil. to avoid falling on her face, eries courtesy, Aline would she hurled herself backwards intervene: “Non, Majesté, ... with such violence tbat she pas comme cela, . . . o'est tout fell down the whole flight, her à fait de travers "; and with head bumping on each of its the same gentle firmness the twelve steps. Her rheumatio book would be removed, the wrists were slightly sprained brush extrioated from the and she could not get up, but Empress's obstinately elutoh- luokily Antonia and Aline ing fingers, and the former heard her ories for help and operator would resume opera- picked her up. She hated a tions. Whereupon the Empress fuss being made over her, and would shrug her shoulders. was not feeling in the least “Aline croit toujours qu'il inclined to faint. When, theren'y a qu'elle pour bien faire fore, Aline reappeared with a les choses !" she would say, glass of oognao, she was so and resign herself to the in- provoked, and rejeoted the evitable. The relation between stimulant with suoh emphasis, those two always touched and that it flew over the banisters, amused me deeply.

glass and all. Only once do I remember Up to a few years ago time the Empress seeming to pity had left but little mark on her, herself. She had always de- and there was no diminution tested needlework, but now of her beauty—the touobing took to knitting comforters majestio beauty of a once and cholera - belts for her supremely beautiful woman wounded officers. I cannot say who, if I may again quote Lord these efforts progressed very Rosebery's dedioation, bad

[ocr errors]

“ lived on

the summits of the loveliness of the hat was spendour, sorrow, and oatag- well received. That vision was trophe with supreme dignity so striking that I reoorded the and oourage. The face was impression in my diary, little of the pallor of ivory, the thinking it was to be the last. figure full and gracious, and in And when in June news came spite of her rheumatism she of the success of the operawas ereot and active. But with. tion, I had been counting, as in the last five or six years she never before, on seeing her beoame smaller and thinner, again in a week or two algo rather deaf, and with the younger and

more radiant onooming of blindness she than ever in the triumph of began to stoop; but one al- her recovered sight! ways felt it was because she ohose to, rather than because Going for the last time it was inevitable. And, strange through what I have written, to relate, in spite of her blind- and considering the lines in ness, if some small catas- the portrait here attempted, trophe happened, a tiny oraok I see that I have spoken more in a huge plate - glass win. than once of the brillianoy of dow, for instanoe, whioh it the Empresa's intelleot, yet was hoped would escape her seem to have dwelt chiefly notice, the event proved the on its lapses! . . . vainness of that hope. Το This is inevitable. She the last, in moments of fire— wrote no books, and during and at least one suoh oocurred the years I knew her took no whenever one saw her-forty pablio action. I aware years would fall from her like that M. Marooni was thunder& garment. Forty? That is struck at her grasp of the to understate the case. ...

problems of wireless teleLet us

rather say sixty! graphy; that M. Santos DaPersonally, I never got acous-mont, and later on the officers tomed to this transfiguration, of the Royal Aeroplane Factory, and was always amazed afresh were amazed at her knowledge when it happened.

of their partioular subjeot. The very last time I saw her, But to say so here does not in November 1919, it was à carry as muoh farther. bright sunny day and she had All you can go by is the olagg just oome in from the garden. of books she read habitually, She had on a now hat, and and how she discussed them looked so magnificent that I afterwards; above all, by her stood astonished on the thres- conversation, in whioh it was hold. Wherenpon she oried impossible not to feel the easy out, “Qu'avez - vous dono? power of her brain, and the Eatrez — entrez!” It would complete independence and have been impossible to give originality of her points of the real reason of that pause, view. for, to her, the association of As for lapses . . , the spots old age and beauty was on the sun are far more inludiorous, but an allusion to teresting symptoms of that

« ZurückWeiter »