Murat by Alexandre Dumas
MURAT BY ALEXANDRE DUMAS
On the 18th June 1815, at the very moment when the destiny of Europe was being decided at Waterloo, a man dressed like a beggar was silently following the road from Toulon to Marseilles.
Arrived at the entrance of the Gorge of Ollioulles, he halted on a little eminence from which he could see all the surrounding country;
then either because he had reached the end of his journey, or because, before attempting that forbidding, a somber pass which is called the Thermopylae of Provence, he wished to enjoy the magnificent view which spread to the southern horizon a little longer, he went and sat down on the edge of the ditch which bordered the road, turning his back on the mountains which rise like an amphitheater to the north of the town, and having at his feet a rich plain covered with tropical vegetation, exotics of a conservatory, trees, and flowers quite unknown in any other part of France.
Beyond this plain, glittering in the last rays of the sun, pale and motionless as a mirror lay the sea, and on the surface of the water glided one brig-of-war, which, taking advantage of a fresh land breeze, had all sails spread, and was bowling along rapidly, making for Italian seas.
The beggar followed it eagerly with his eyes until it disappeared between the Cape of Gien and the first of the islands of Hyeres, then as the white apparition vanished he sighed deeply, let his head fall into his hands, and remained motionless and absorbed in his reflections until the tramplings of a cavalcade made him start;
he looked up, shook back his long black hair, as if he wished to get rid of the gloomy thoughts which were overwhelming him, and, looking at the entrance to the gorge from