Elysium by Diane Scott Lewis
Amélie hurried to the salon’s front window. “It looks like Governor Lowe is here, Sire.”
Napoleon rose and peered through the holes he’d had his servants cut in the shutters, so he could look out without anyone seeing him. “Yes, our esteemed governor, cowing back from his minions. What could he want?”
Governor Lowe had reigned in, allowing a group of soldiers to ride up near the front porch, their hat plumes fluttering in the wind.
Their smug faces annoying him, Napoleon motioned Saint-Denis out to inquire.
“I wish to speak with the Count de Las Cases,” the governor’s assistant, Sir Thomas Reade, Deputy Adjutant General, announced. His moon-face barely shifted with his sly smile.
Ali returned and Napoleon sent him to fetch the count who sat in the drawing room, having his hair trimmed by the imperial barber.
“Go out there and see what that beast wants with you,” he said when the little man trotted in.
“I must say, I can’t imagine what he might want of my humble person.” The chamberlain bowed, twitched his nose, and stepped out the front door.
Napoleon bent again to scrutinize the trespassers; his shoulder muscles tightened. He nodded to Ali, who slipped out the door and followed Las Cases.
“That’s a large contingent of soldiers for a conversation.” Amélie touched his arm, but he didn’t mind, her hand comforting.
Several minutes later, Reade and another soldier escorted Las Cases out the front gate.
Two more soldiers followed, carrying trunks brimming over with papers obviously from the count’s quarters in the back wing.
Napoleon’s blood boiled.
Saint-Denis bounded up the front steps and into the salon. “Your Majesty, the governor has arrested the Count de Las Cases and the soldiers confiscated everything in his rooms.”
“Arrested for what reason? They’ve stolen all my dictation? This is insufferable! Ali, fetch Count Bertrand. Tell him to send Doctor O’Meara to find out what has happened.” Napoleon’s left
leg twinged, something he experienced when overwrought. He resisted the urge to run out and demand an explanation. But he could no longer act the impetuous youth who let his temper run wild—
snatching up banners and storming bridges on battlefields. He had to preserve his imperial dignity.
“Sire, do the British have a right to seize our people and haul them away like criminals?” Amélie asked, her fawn eyes earnest.
“They will push their arbitrary rights to the limit.” Napoleon felt powerless, unable to protect his own people. Yet he couldn’t let the girl—who unfortunately no longer resembled an undernourished waif— sense his weakness.
How much longer before he could put his escape from exile plans into action?
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