Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Murat, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

enemies, forced to make a detour, left them a few moments of liberty.

But soon shouts were heard: Giorgio Pellegrino, Trenta Capelli,
followed by the whole population of Pizzo, rushed out about a hundred
and fifty paces from where Murat, Franceschetti, and Campana were
straining themselves to make the boat glide down the sand.

These cries were immediately followed by a volley.  Campana fell,
with a bullet through his heart.

The boat, however, was launched.  Franceschetti sprang into it, Murat
was about to follow, but he had not observed that the spurs of his
riding-boots had caught in the meshes of the net.  The boat, yielding
to the push he gave it, glided away, and the king fell head foremost,
with his feet on land and his face in the water.  Before he had time
to pick himself up, the populace had fallen on him: in one instant
they had torn away his epaulettes, his banner, and his coat, and
would have torn him to bits himself, had not Giorgio Pellegrino and
Trenta Capelli taken him under their protection, and giving him an
arm on each side, defended him in their turn against the people.
Thus he crossed the square as a prisoner where an hour before he had
walked as a king.

His captors took him to the castle: he was pushed into the common
prison, the door was shut upon him, and the king found himself among
thieves and murderers, who, not knowing him, took him for a companion
in crime, and greeted him with foul language and hoots of derision.

A quarter of an hour later the door of the gaol opened and Commander
Mattei came in: he found Murat standing with head proudly erect and
folded arms.  There was an expression of indefinable loftiness in
this half-naked man whose face was stained with blood and bespattered
with mud.  Mattei bowed before him.

"Commander," said Murat, recognising his rank by his epaulettes,
"look round you and tell me whether this is a prison for a king."

Then a strange thing happened: the criminals, who, believing Murat
their accomplice, had welcomed him with vociferations and laughter,
now bent before his royal majesty, which had not overawed Pellegrino
and Trenta Capelli, and retired silently to the depths of their
dungeon.

Misfortune had invested Murat with a new power.

Commander Mattei murmured some excuse, and invited Murat to follow
him to a room that he had had prepared for him; but before going out,
Murat put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a handful of gold and
let it fall in a shower in the midst of the gaol.

"See," he said, turning towards the prisoners, "it shall not be said
that you have received a visit from a king, prisoner and crownless as
he is, without having received largesse."

"Long live Joachim!" cried the prisoners.

Murat smiled bitterly.  Those same words repeated by the same number
of voices an hour before in the public square, instead of resounding
in the prison, would have made him King of Naples.

The most important events proceed sometimes from such mere trifles,
that it seems as if God and the devil must throw dice for the life or
death of men, for the rise or fall of empires.

Murat followed Commander Mattei: he led him to a little room which
the porter had put at his disposal.  Mattei was going to retire when
Murat called him back.

"Commander," he said, "I want a scented bath."

"Sire, it will be difficult to obtain."

"Here are fifty ducats; let someone buy all the eau de Cologne that
can be obtained.  Ah--and let some tailors be sent to me."

"It will be impossible to find anyone here capable of making anything
but a peasant's clothes."

"Send someone to Monteleone to fetch them from there."

The commander bowed and went out.

Murat was in his bath when the Lavaliere Alcala was announced, a
General and Governor of the town.  He had sent damask coverlets,
curtains, and arm-chairs.  Murat was touched by this attention, and
it gave him fresh composure.  At two o'clock the same day General
Nunziante arrived from Santa-Tropea with three thousand men.  Murat
greeted his old acquaintance with pleasure; but at the first word the
king perceived that he was before his judge, and that he had not come
for the purpose of making a visit, but to make an official inquiry.

Murat contented himself with stating that he had been on his way from
Corsica to Trieste with a passport from the Emperor of Austria when
stormy weather and lack of provisions had forced him to put into
Pizzo.  All other questions Murat met with a stubborn silence; then
at least, wearied by his importunity--

"General," he said, "can you lend me some clothes after my bath?"

The general understood that he could expect no more information, and,
bowing to the king, he went out.  Ten minutes later, a complete
uniform was brought to Murat; he put it on immediately, asked for a
pen and ink, wrote to the commander-in-chief of the Austrian troops
at Naples, to the English ambassador, and to his wife, to tell them
of his detention at Pizzo.  These letters written, he got up and
paced his room for some time in evident agitation; at last, needing
fresh air, he opened the window.  There was a view of the very beach
where he had been captured.

Two men were digging a hole in the sand at the foot of the little
redoubt.  Murat watched them mechanically.  When the two men had
finished, they went into a neighbouring house and soon came out,
bearing a corpse in their arms.

The king searched his memory, and indeed it seemed to him that in the
midst of that terrible scene he had seen someone fall, but who it was
he no longer remembered.  The corpse was quite without covering, but
by the long black hair and youthful outlines the king recognised
Campana, the aide-decamp he had always loved best.

This scene, watched from a prison window in the twilight, this
solitary burial on the shore, in the sand, moved Murat more deeply
than his own fate.  Great tears filled his eyes and fell silently
down the leonine face.  At that moment General Nunziante came in and
surprised him with outstretched arms and face bathed with tears.
Murat heard him enter and turned round, and seeing the old soldier's
surprise.

"Yes, general," he said, "I weep; I weep for that boy, just
twenty-four, entrusted to me by his parents, whose death I have
brought about.  I weep for that vast, brilliant future which is
buried in an unknown grave, in an enemy's country, on a hostile
shore.  Oh, Campana!  Campana!  if ever I am king again, I will raise
you a royal tomb."

The general had had dinner served in an adjacent room.  Murat
followed him and sat down to table, but he could not eat.  The sight
which he had just witnessed had made him heartbroken, and yet without
a line on his brow that man had been through the battles of Aboukir,
Eylau, and Moscow!  After dinner, Murat went into his room again,
gave his various letters to General Nunziante, and begged to be left
alone.  The general went away.

Murat paced round his room several times, walking with long steps,
and pausing from time to time before the window, but without opening
it.

At last he overcame a deep reluctance, put his hand on the bolt and
drew the lattice towards him.

It was a calm, clear night: one could see the whole shore.  He looked
for Campana's grave.  Two dogs scratching the sand showed him the
spot.

The king shut the window violently, and without undressing threw
himself onto his bed.  At last, fearing that his agitation would be
attributed to personal alarm, he undressed and went to bed, to sleep,
or seem to sleep all night.

On the morning of the 9th the tailors whom Murat had asked for
arrived.  He ordered a great many clothes, taking the trouble to
explain all the details suggested by his fastidious taste.  He was
thus employed when General Nunziante came in.  He listened sadly to
the king's commands.  He had just received telegraphic despatches
ordering him to try the King of Naples by court-martial as a public
enemy.  But he found the king so confident, so tranquil, almost
cheerful indeed, that he had not the heart to announce his trial to
him, and took upon himself to delay the opening of operation until he
received written instructions.  These arrived on the evening of the
12th.  They were couched in the following terms:

                         NAPLES, October 9, 1815

"Ferdinand, by the grace of God, etc .  .  .  .  wills and decrees
the following:

"Art.  1.  General Murat is to be tried by court-martial, the members
whereof are to be nominated by our Minister of War.

"Art.  2.  Only half an hour is to be accorded to the condemned for
the exercises of religion.

"(Signed) FERDINAND."


Another despatch from the minister contained the names of the members
of the commission.  They were:--

Giuseppe Fosculo, adjutant, commander-in-chief of the staff,
president.

Laffaello Scalfaro, chief of the legion of Lower Calabria.

Latereo Natali, lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Marines.

Gennaro Lanzetta, lieutenant-colonel of the Engineers.

W. T. captain of Artillery.

Francois de Venge, ditto.

Francesco Martellari, lieutenant of Artillery.

Francesco Froio, lieutenant in the 3rd regiment of the line.

Giovanni delta Camera, Public Prosecutor to the Criminal Courts of
Lower Calabria.

Francesco Papavassi, registrar.


The commission assembled that night.

On the 13th October, at six o'clock in the morning, Captain Stratti
came into the king's prison; he was sound asleep.  Stratti was going
away again, when he stumbled against a chair; the noise awoke Murat.

"What do you want with me, captain?" asked the king.

Stratti tried to speak, but his voice failed him.

"Ah ha!" said Murat, "you must have had news from Naples."

"Yes, sire," muttered Stratti.

"What are they?" said Murat.

"Your trial, sire."

"And by whose order will sentence be pronounced, if you please?
Where will they find peers to judge me?  If they consider me as a
king, I must have a tribunal of kings; if I am a marshal of France, I
must have a court of marshals; if I am a general, and that is the
least I can be, I must have a jury of generals."

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com