Greatcoat thrown across
he moved out onto the terrace. Marie, in the doorway, saw her shadow cast
onto the snow and below, the soldiers' campfires pierced the darkness.
He turned, and with a groan, "I love you, Marie," took her in
"Against my will I love you," she whispered. "I believe
his wont to confide in her,
on her implicit trust of him, their relationship was founded during the
ensuing months. When he spoke of putting a crown on the fair head he loved
to caress, Marie refused. The independence of Poland, guaranteed by Napoleon's
signature, was all she would accept from the man she loved.
Content to follow him from headquarters to headquarters, to come to his
suite, she found happiness. She took his mind from the ardours of ruling
the world by teaching him to dance.
In Paris, she considered it a privilege to meet the Emperor's mother,
Laetitia Bonaparte. She went straight to the heart of Marie, whose gentle
charm was equally captivating to her guest.
"You and I seem to be the only ones who ask nothing of my Napoleon
but his happiness," Madame Bonaparte said before leaving.
to divorce the Empress Josephine was already common gossip, since Count
Walewska had successfully petitioned for his annulment, Marie would not
have been human had her hopes remained entirely modest. Knowledge that
she was going to have a child heightened her excitement.
Napoleon, having brought Austria to its knees, was occupying the Hapsburg
Palace at Shoenbrunn. In celebration of his fortieth birthday, fireworks
fell in coloured stars in the Palace gardens, and over the pavilion, topped
by a giant letter "N."
Marie followed her lover through the gorgeous rooms which it obviously
delighted him to show her. But, though she felt the pressure of his arms,
the long kiss for which she had hoped, she was aware of a confidence in
store which would prove upsetting. While she knelt by him, it came.
"Marie, my darling, I am determined to found a dynasty. I must have
an heir. I have decided to marry a princess of one of the royal houses
of Europe -- of this house, in fact -- so that I, whom the Austrians hate
as an upstart, an adventurer, can mingle my blood with theirs."