'....who scribbles novels all the time - and we've got to relieve him. He'll be delighted at your....'
And then I saw nothing but my giant's back and the yellow veils over her otherwise naked shoulders. Other guests came between us, and there I was quite by myself in Madame Tallien's glittering salon.
I took refuge in a window niche and surveyed the room. But I couldn't see Napoleon anywhere. There were a lot of uniforms there, but not one as shabby as that of my fiance.
The longer I stayed the deeper I crept into the protecting window niche. Not only was my dress impossible but my shoes too appeared quite ridiculous to me. The ladies here didn't wear proper shoes at all, just soles without heels, tied round the feet with narrow gold or silver straps so that the toes were left free, and the toe-nails were painted pink or silver.
I could hear a violin playing in one of the adjoining rooms. Servants in red uniform moved among the guests balancing trays full of enormous bowls, glasses and snacks. I gobbled a smoked salmon roll, but the taste was lost on me because of my excited state. Then two gentlemen came into the window niche and stood near me talking without paying any attention to me. They talked about the people of Paris who wouldn't put up much longer with the rise of prices and would riot soon.
'My dear Fouche,' one of them said, taking snuff with a bored air, 'if I were in Barras' place I'd shoot the mob to bits.'
'For that you'd first have to find someone ready to do the shooting,' the other one remarked.
Thereupon the first man, between two snuff boxes, jerked out the sentence that he had just seen General Bernadette among the guests.
The other one, the man called Fouche, shook his head. 'Bernadotte? Never in your life. But what about that little wretch who keeps hanging round Josephine these days?'
At that moment someone clapped his hands, and over the general murmur I heard the twitter of Madame Tallien's voice:
'Everybody to the green room, please! We have a surprise for our friends.'
I went along with the crowd into an adjoining apartment......'
- Debolina Raja Gupta