It had been more than a year and a half since Adnot Delacroix had seen his wife, and he was beginning to feel a desperate, manic need to return to her. It had been a year since the September Massacres. He had been on his way back to Paris from a victory in Valmy when he received the letter from his wife. He had been desperate to retrieve her after he had read the note that detailed the things she had witnessed. Her obvious fear had given her handwriting a jagged edge. A fever had taken hold of Paris and the murderous mob had achieved a bloody climax when it had dismantled the monarch by the end of the previous September. With the execution of King Louis XVI, he found himself unable to return. The National Assembly had redeployed everyone to the unstable borders surrounding the entire country. He debated following those orders. He felt this insistent need in the pit of his stomach to return to Paris and his wife’s side, and yet he knew that if he went AWOL with the current state of the country he would surely be killed. It wouldn’t help her situation if he was dead so he hesitantly followed orders.
That was when Adnot had met Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte had been the leader of the Corsica militia and a fellow Jacobin. He had deep set grey eyes and Adnot found that if you looked too closely you could see the swirling eddies of a brewing sea-side storm under his heavy brow. It was only Bonaparte’s mysteriously powerful eyes that made Adnot give him a second look. Otherwise, Bonaparte was of average height and lean build, with a sickly yellow pallor to his skin, but those eyes let escape the knowledge that this man was both smart and dangerous. An Italian Cosiacan accent colored his French, but he was easy to get along with and easy to drink wine with.
Adnot recognized immediately the importance of this man and he had used everything in his arsenal to become his closest confident. On his own he had done moderately well in the French Army. On the coat tails of Napoleon Bonaparte he was doing extremely well. Adnot now found himself on the hard-won field of victory in the coastal city of Toulon. Together, Adnot and Bonaparte had fought all through the previous night to take the hill that was now filled with artillery. His friend had been injured in the leg and was now being treated but Adnot was able to inhale the morning air and look over the city that even now was being suppressed by the French. The English had used the early morning sun to evacuate out to sea leaving the French royalist rebels to be slaughtered at the point of a bayonet.
The blistery cold sea air blew through Adnot’s long wavy chestnut hair, smelling of salt brine, gun powder, and acrid smoke. They mingled in a way that assaulted his nose and scratched at his throat. The sun was low in the morning sky and it cast a warm light that made the sea sparkle and it brought Adnot much needed relief, and perhaps even hope. Plumes of smoke rose from the coastal city beneath his feet and screams could be heard on the wintery wind that made his nose and stubbled cheeks turn pink. This hill offered an excellent tactical view of Toulon, but in the grey light of dawn if also offered an excellent view of the destruction that was unobservable in the night. Adnot looked on the crumbling infrastructure of the coastal city and felt battle weary. His eyes sagged and he wondered why such a thing was filled with glory. When the time came for dust to gather on his bones he wondered if anyone would remember today’s victory and the people who helped win it. He finally turned his face from the view of the besieged city on the water to hide his face from the biting breeze and, wrapping his blue military jacket tighter around himself, walked from the hill to find his injured friend.
Adnot walked among the now silent canons and couldn’t help but place a hand on the cold steel. He stepped among them softly in the same manner that one would walk among sleeping giants. He looked at the wounded turf with the knowledge that it would re-grow. Perhaps in time, scars, like victories, would fade. Hastily pitched tents dotted the other side of the hill beyond the artillery line and he searched for the tent where his friend was being treated and thought back to one of his first wine laced night with Bonaparte. It had taken an entire bottle of wine for Bonaparte to open up to him. As his Cosiacan accent thickened, Adnot had gently probed into the man’s past. His accent had been a sore spot for him but Adnot’s easy acceptance of it had helped him win Bonaparte’s friendship.
In return, Adnot had offered up bits of his past. He told Bonaparte about Eve and how he had given Eve the Salle de Soupe as a wedding present. After they were married he had carried her slightly drunk over the threshold of the tiny building. She had wanted to be put down but he wanted to carry her up the stairs to their room and she protested sharply as he moved to the narrow staircase at the back building. Adnot should have listened because they had both fallen down the staircase. Bonaparte had laughed boisterously at the story. In time, Adnot had confessed how desperate he was to get back to her. Bonaparte had agreed with him that going AWOL was not the way to go.
He did not have to search long. He found Napoleon in a tent not far from the hill that they had stormed together with rapiers drawn. His blue military jacket was thrown carelessly over a chair beside the bed and his blue trousers were ripped where the bayonet had been buried in his thigh. Napoleon slowly opened his eyes at Adnot and gave his old friend a smile that showed not only his pride in the night’s victory but also the extreme fatigue that he felt. Adnot kneeled beside the bed and took his friend’s hand in his. “Victory becomes you. As we speak, Barras and Fréron are suppressing the city.”
Napoleon answered in a thick Italian accent, “Good, I have extraordinary news my friend. It seems only yesterday that I was made a colonel, but now they wish to make me a Brigadier General.”
Adnot felt his heart soar at the news. His friend’s gains were his as well, but also it would mean a trip to Paris for the honors before being redeployed. He would be able to sweep Eve out of the city. “That is excellent news my friend. Does this mean we will be returning to Paris?”
Napoleon’s face grew serious at the remark and he leveled a penetrating look at Adnot. “I realize why you wish to return to Paris, but I fear returning to the city. The news from the capital is grim. My old fried Augustin Robespierre has informed me that his brother has created a committee. That committee has been executing counterrevolutionaries, and while you and I are staunch Jacobins, there is a dangerous air about the city. I would sooner stay on the front lines than return.”
Adnot’s chest tightened. This was not how this conversation needed to go. If the air above Paris was indeed dangerous then he needed more than ever to return. He had left Eve to fend for herself for too long. “Napoleon, you are a revolutionary hero! How could Paris be a danger to you? You have worked hard for this, and you deserve a respite for your efforts. Besides, how many times have we discussed your grand plans for France? Such things are impossible without the proper political ties. To advance further you need to strengthen your alliances. You need to return to Paris.”
Napoleon had an impressive ego, and Adnot’s manipulation of it was his favorite tool. However, Napoleon was also an extremely intelligent man, and all of his better since told him that returning to Paris before this current blood lust ran its course could be a dangerous ploy. He took many moments to turn what Adnot had said over in his mind before looking up at Adnot with genuine affection. “Adnot, I know that you are trying to manipulate me, but it seems to have worked. You make good points, but we both know that this is no respite. We are leaving one field of battle for another and the enemies we are going to face will be much more dangerous than the English. We will be facing Intellectuals with power.”ns 126.96.36.199da2