When Monsieur Laporte died, he provided in his will that an annual dinner should be given to six of his dearest friends for so long a period as any of them should remain alive. Among these friends was a certain obscure lieutenant of artillery named Napoleon Bonaparte. In his dingy regimentals, Bonaparte made a striking contrast with the other recipients of Monsieur Laporte's bounty. The other five were aristocrats, powered, frivolous elegants of the day, careless and blind to the storm gradually rising in their land. From the heights of their disdainful superiority, they looked askance at the shabby Corsican lieutenant with whom they were forced to dine once a year. Matters grew worse when the shabby lieutenant dared to raise his eyes to the lovely Cecilie de Cloche Forêt. They grew still worse when M. Bonaparte, in a duel with Cecilie's lover, the Count de Passy, negligently disarmed that young man and made him a present of his life as though it had been an old hat. But before the ...
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