“Ah!” said the Tsar, reassured, slapping Michaud on the shoulder, with a friendly light in his eyes. “You tranquillise me, colonel…”

The Tsar looked down, and for some time he was silent. “Well, go back to the army,” he said, drawing himself up to his full height and with a genial and majestic gesture addressing Michaud, “and tell our brave fellows, tell all my good subjects wherever you go, that when I have not a soldier left, I will put myself at the head of my dear nobility, of my good peasants, and so use the last resources of my empire. It offers me still more than my enemies suppose,” said the Tsar, more and more stirred. “But if it should be written in the decrees of divine Providence,” he said, and his fine, mild eyes, shining with emotion, were raised towards heaven, “that my dynasty should cease to reign on the throne of my ancestors, then after exhausting every means in my power, I would let my beard grow to here” (the Tsar put his hand halfway down his breast), “and go and eat potatoes with the meanest of my peasants rather than sign the shame of my country and my dear people, whose sacrifice I know how to appreciate.” Uttering these words in a voice of much feeling, the Tsar turned quickly away, as though wishing to conceal from Michaud the tears that were starting into his eyes, and he walked to the further end of his study. After standing there some instants, he strode back to Michaud, and with a vigorous action squeezed his arm below the elbow. The Tsar’s fine, mild face was flushed, and his eyes gleamed with energy and anger. “Colonel Michaud, do not forget what I say to you here; perhaps one day we shall recall it with pleasure.…Napoleon or me,” he said, touching his breast, “we can no longer reign together. I have learned to know him. He will not deceive me again…” And the Tsar paused, frowning. Hearing these words, seeing the look of firm determination in the Tsar’s eyes, Michaud, though a foreigner, Russian in heart and soul, felt (as he used to recount later) at that solemn moment moved to enthusiasm by what he had just heard; and in the following phrase he sought to give expression to his own feelings and those of the Russian people, whose representative he considered himself to be.

“Sire!” he said, “your majesty is signing at this moment the glory of the nation and the salvation of Europe!”

With a motion of his head the Tsar dismissed Michaud.

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