Shows D

good his escape, leaving his infant son in the charge of Madame Sans Gêne. Already promotion and advancement are in the air. Lefebvre obtains a commission, orders arrive for further operations, and Catherine obtains an appointment as vivandière to his regiment. During the fifteen years that succeed events have followed one another rapidly and almost dramatically. The morbid lieutenant who owed seventeen francs for his washing is Emperor of France. The young soldiers who were his friends in those earlier days have become Marshals of the Grand Army. Dukes and generals from the Rue Royale surround the throne, and in their gorgeous habiliments betray little of their lowly origin. With one exception - there is masquerade and pretension. Even Papillon, the good-natured pedlar, the jovial and gay wanderer of the old times, is now cramped in fashionable attire, and limited in his gaieties by fine courtesies and elaborate etiquette. But Sans Gêne, as Duchess of Dantzic, is Sans Gêne still. Alas for the peace of the Courts, too much Sans Gêne. Would it be credited that among all that aristocratic bourgeoisie the Duchess has the effrontery, to be genuinely in love with her "dear old man," her old lover Lefebvre, now Marshal of France? Nay more. There are other scandalous rumours about. The Duchess had been caught by Napoleon's magnificent sisters trying on a new cloak on the terrace at Fontainebleau, and taking lessons in deportment from a mere milliner - Papillon to wit ! A wrangle follows in which Catherine, having retained some of her old fluency, easily routs her opponents, but not before the Emperor has intervened. He is weary of this incessant cackle. His Court is disgraced by conflicts that might be tolerated among washerwomen in the Rue Royale, but cannot be permitted at his Court and round his person. Already he is thinking of his own divorce. To a man who has made his position by adventure, position is everything. A noble wife enhances, while a low-born one degrades it. That a Marshal of France should be mated to a vulgar shrew is an offence to this principle, and to the parvenu crowd that surrounds him. It seems, therefore, quite rational that the Emperor should order his high officers' affairs to the extent of decreeing a divorce where an unsuitable wife appears unable to take the position he has bestowed upon her husband. Marshal Lefebvre, Duke of Dantzic, is peremptorily commanded by Napoleon to discard his wife and marry a lady of the Court, Renee de Saint Mézard. But advancement and well-earned honours have not made the honest soldier less appreciative of his good wife, and he indignantly refuses. The Emperor is inexorable, and, to further distress the couple, a lamentable want of discretion on the part of their adopted son - the child left with them by that Vicornte de Béthune whom they rescued from the mob - places their fate in the hands of the autocrat whose god is ambition. Adhèmar de Béthune is in love and affianced to this same Mademoiselle Renee whom Lefebvre is commanded to marry, and the young man, on learning of his Emperor's infamous plans, insults him, breaks the sword he wears as an officer in his army, and refuses to serve him any longer. Arrest and a death sentence follow promptly. One condition of respite is allowed. The Vicomte shall live if the Duke and Duchess of Dantzic consent to a divorce and the Duke to the remarriage arranged for him. The death of the young man whom they love as a son is brutally laid at their door if they refuse. The Court is jubilant. The Emperor's sisters cannot conceal their satisfaction. The Duchess is forbidden the Court, and opportunity of supplication is therefore impossible. But Catherine is Sans Gêne when circumstances requuire resourcefulness. She has treasured up a small scrap of paper at the head of which figures the name of a certain Lieutenant Bonaparte, and under that name certain details as to shirts and pants, and a grand total of seventeen francs, unpaid, for their washing. Armed with this the distracted but still alert Catherine forces her way to the Emperor. The Court is indignant at this disobedience, and the Emperor orders her to be kept in confinement. One moment alone with him gives her the opportunity she seeks. She produces the bill, demands her seventeen francs, and reminds the now bewildered Emperor that she was that Sans Gêne who took pity on his poverty, and who, when days were hard for her too, not only allowed him this extended credit, but offered to