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A Night In The Garden Of The Tuileries
by [?]

And enough there was to do, if I had been in a mind to do it. All the seats to sit in, all the statuary to inspect, all the flowers to smell. The southern terrace overlooking the Seine was closed, or I might have amused myself with the toy railway of the Prince Imperial that ran nearly the whole length of it, with its switches and turnouts and houses; or I might have passed delightful hours there watching the lights along the river and the blazing illumination on the amusement halls. But I ascended the familiar northern terrace and wandered amid its bowers, in company with Hercules, Meleager, and other worthies I knew only by sight, smelling the orange-blossoms, and trying to fix the site of the old riding-school where the National Assembly sat in 1789.

It must have been eleven o’clock when I found myself down by the private garden next the palace. Many of the lights in the offices of the household had been extinguished, but the private apartments of the Emperor in the wing south of the central pavilion were still illuminated. The Emperor evidently had not so much desire to go to bed as I had. I knew the windows of his petits appartements–as what good American did not?–and I wondered if he was just then taking a little supper, if he had bidden good-night to Eugenie, if he was alone in his room, reflecting upon his grandeur and thinking what suit he should wear on the morrow in his ride to the Bois. Perhaps he was dictating an editorial for the official journal; perhaps he was according an interview to the correspondent of the London Glorifier; perhaps one of the Abbotts was with him. Or was he composing one of those important love-letters of state to Madame Blank which have since delighted the lovers of literature? I am not a spy, and I scorn to look into people’s windows late at night, but I was lonesome and hungry, and all that square round about swarmed with imperial guards, policemen, keen-scented Zouaves, and nobody knows what other suspicious folk. If Napoleon had known that there was a


I suppose he would have called up his family, waked the drum-corps, sent for the Prefect of Police, put on the alert the ‘sergents de ville,’ ordered under arms a regiment of the Imperial Guards, and made it unpleasant for the Man.

All these thoughts passed through my mind, not with the rapidity of lightning, as is usual in such cases, but with the slowness of conviction. If I should be discovered, death would only stare me in the face about a minute. If he waited five minutes, who would believe my story of going to sleep and not hearing the drums? And if it were true, why didn’t I go at once to the gate, and not lurk round there all night like another Clement? And then I wondered if it was not the disagreeable habit of some night-patrol or other to beat round the garden before the Sire went to bed for good, to find just such characters as I was gradually getting to feel myself to be.

But nobody came. Twelve o’clock, one o’clock sounded from the tower of the church of St. Germain l’Auxerrois, from whose belfry the signal was given for the beginning of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew–the same bells that tolled all that dreadful night while the slaughter went on, while the effeminate Charles IX fired from the windows of the Louvre upon stray fugitives on the quay–bells the reminiscent sound of which, a legend (which I fear is not true) says, at length drove Catharine de Medici from the Tuileries.

One o’clock! The lights were going out in the Tuileries, had nearly all gone out. I wondered if the suspicious and timid and wasteful Emperor would keep the gas burning all night in his room. The night-roar of Paris still went on, sounding always to foreign ears like the beginning of a revolution. As I stood there, looking at the window that interested me most, the curtains were drawn, the window was opened, and a form appeared in a white robe. I had never seen the Emperor before in a night-gown, but I should have known him among a thousand. The Man of Destiny had on a white cotton night-cap, with a peaked top and no tassel. It was the most natural thing in the land; he was taking a last look over his restless Paris before he turned in. What if he should see me! I respected that last look and withdrew into the shadow. Tired and hungry, I sat down to reflect upon the pleasures of the gay capital.