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49. "Gott Erhalte Franz Den Kaiser!"

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For three days the utmost uneasiness and commotion had reigned in Vienna. Nobody wanted to stay at home. Everybody hastened into the street, as if he hoped there to hear at an earlier moment the great news which the people were looking for, and as if the fresh air which had carried to them three days ago the thundering echoes

of the cannon, would waft to them to-day the tidings of the brilliant victory supposed to be achieved by the Emperors Francis and Alexander.

But these victorious tidings did not come; the roar of the cannon had a quicker tongue than the courier who was to bring the news of the victory. He did not come, and yet the good people of Vienna were waiting for him with impatience and, at the same time, with proud and joyful confidence. It is true no one was able to state positively where the battle had been fought, but the people were able to calculate the spot where the great struggle had probably taken place, for they knew that the allies had occupied the immediate environs of Olmutz, and then advanced toward Brunn and Austerlitz, where the French army had established itself. They calculated the time which the courier would consume in order to reach Vienna from the battle-field, and the obstacles and delays that might have possibly impeded his progress were taken into consideration. But no one felt anxious at his prolonged absence; no one doubted that the allies had obtained a great victory.

For their two armies were by far superior to the French army, and Napoleon himself had not hoped for a victory this time; he had fallen back with his army because he wished to avoid a battle with the superior forces of the enemy; he had even gone so far in his despondency as to write to the Emperor of Russia and to sue for peace.

How could people think, therefore, that Napoleon had won the battle, the thunders of which had filled the Viennese three days ago with the utmost exultation?

No, fate had at length stopped the onward career of the conqueror, and it was on Austrian soil that his eagles were to be struck down and his laurels to wither.

Nobody doubted it; the joyful anticipation of a great victory animated every heart and beamed from every eye. They longed for the arrival of the courier, and were overjoyed to celebrate at length a triumph over those supercilious French, who had latterly humiliated and angered the poor people of Vienna on so many occasions.

It is true the French embassy had not yet left Vienna. But that was only a symptom that it had not yet been reached by a courier from the battle-field; else it would have fled from Vienna in the utmost haste.

But the people did not wish to permit the overbearing French to depart from their city in so quiet and unpretending a manner; they wanted to accompany them at least with loud jeers, with scornful shouts and curses.

Thousands, therefore, surrounded the house of the French embassy, where Talleyrand, Napoleon's minister of foreign affairs, had been staying for some days, and no longer did they swallow their wrath and hatred, but they gave vent to it loudly; no longer did they threaten only with their glances, but also with their fists, which they raised menacingly toward the windows of the French minister.

And while thousands had gathered around the embassy building, other thousands strolled out toward Mohringen, and stared breathlessly down the road, hoping to behold the longed-for messenger who would announce to them at length the great victory that had been won.

All at once something in the distance commenced stirring on the road; at times glittering objects, resembling twinkling stars, were to be seen, and then motley colors were discerned; it came nearer and nearer. No doubt it must be a column of soldiers; perhaps some of the heroic regiments which had defeated the French army were already on their homeward march.

Ah, the proud and sanguine people of Vienna regretted now exceedingly that there were no longer any French regiments in the capital, and that they had left their city only a week ago and rejoined Napoleon's army. Now there would have been an opportunity for them to take revenge for the hospitality which they had been compelled for the last two weeks to extend to the French. Now they would have chased the French soldiers in the most ignominious manner through the same streets which they had marched hitherto with so proud and confident a step.

The soldiers drew nearer and nearer; the people hastened to meet them like a huge boa constrictor with thousands and thousands of movable rings, and thousands and thousands of flashing eyes.

But all at once these eyes became fixed and dismayed; the joyful hum, which hitherto had filled the air as though it were a vast multitude of gnats playing in the sun, died away.

Those were not the uniforms of the Austrians, nor of the Russians either! Those were the odious colors of France. The soldiers marching toward Vienna were French regiments.

And couriers appeared too, the longed-for couriers! But they were no Austrian couriers; the tri-colored sash was wrapped around their waists, they did not greet the people with German words and with fraternal German salutations. They galloped past them and shouted "VICTOIRE! VICTOIRE! VIVE L'EMPEREUR NAPOLEON!"

 

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Louisa of Prussia and Her Times -by- Louisa Muhlbach

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