The Companions of Jehu
28. Family Matters
Let us leave our four hunters on their way to Lagny--where, thanks to the
passports they owed to the obligingness of certain clerks in citizen Fouché's
employ, they exchanged their own horses for post-horses and their coachman for
a postilion--and see why the First Consul had sent for Roland.
After leaving Morgan, Roland had hastened to obey the general's orders. He
found the latter standing in deep thought before the fireplace. At the sound of his
entrance General Bonaparte raised his head.
"What were you two saying to each other?" asked Bonaparte, without preamble,
trusting to Roland's habit of answering his thought.
"Why," said Roland, "we paid each other all sorts of compliments, and parted the
best friends in the world."
"How does he impress you?"
"As a perfectly well-bred man."
"How old do you take him to be?"
"About my age, at the outside."
"So I think; his voice is youthful. What now, Roland, can I be mistaken? Is there a
new royalist generation growing up?"
"No, general," replied Roland, shrugging his shoulders; "it's the remains of the old
"Well, Roland, we must build up another, devoted to my son--if ever I have one."
Roland made a gesture which might be translated into the words, "I don't object."
Bonaparte understood the gesture perfectly.
"You must do more than not object," said he; "you must contribute to it."
A nervous shudder passed over Roland's body.
"In what way, general?" he asked.
Roland burst out laughing.
"Good! With my aneurism?" he asked.
Bonaparte looked at him, and said: "My dear Roland, your aneurism looks to me
very much like a pretext for remaining single."
"Do you think so?"
"Yes; and as I am a moral man I insist upon marriage."
"Does that mean that I am immoral," retorted Roland, "or that I cause any
scandal with my mistresses?"
"Augustus," answered Bonaparte, "created laws against celibates, depriving
them of their rights as Roman citizens."
"I'll wait until you are Augustus; as yet, you are only Cæsar."
Bonaparte came closer to the young man, and, laying his hands on his
shoulders, said: "Roland, there are some names I do not wish to see extinct, and
among them is that of Montrevel."