Hearts of the First Empire (1913)
Short | Drama | Romance
In the spring of 1810, the Peninsular War begins, and fearing that the Austrian Army may again take the field (he having ignominiously defeated them the previous year), Napoleon arrests the Count de Mauperg, high in the favor of the Austrian Emperor. Francis. Mauperg is to remain in Paris for six months as a hostage for the good behavior of his sovereign. Emperor Napoleon's wife, Marie Louise, one day when driving, intervenes in behalf of a poor girl named Beatrice Duprell, who is being cruelly beaten by an old hag. Mere Pignone. The empress compensates the woman with a bag of money and takes Beatrice to the castle. On account of her awkwardness and unsophisticated manners, her first appearance causes much laughter. Directly after Count de Mauperg's presentation to the courtiers by Napoleon, the empress, with her ladies, enters. Beatrice is presented to the emperor, and instead of making a courtly bow, she acts in a hoydenish manner. This arouses laughter from the court, 'but her part is taken by Mauperg, who conceives an admiration for her, and the emperor orders that the court dancing master instruct her in French etiquette. Six months have nearly passed and Beatrice, now well acquainted with the French court manners, is sought after by the courtiers and Count de Mauperg, whom she favors. This arouses the impassioned jealousy of Duc de Beaufort, a courtier, who reminds Napoleon that Mauperg's hostage has nearly expired, thinking that by this way he will got rid of his rival. Just as Mauperg is about to leave he is secretly handed a note in which he is commanded, as a true servant of Austria, to slay the tyrant emperor. Beaufort, hearing of this, arrests Mauperg's servant, obtains the note, which he brings to the emperor. Hearing that Beaufort is commanded to arrest Mauperg, Beatrice encounters the courtier in the corridor and, after a tussle, kills him with a rapier. Beatrice divests the dead man of his outer garments, goes to the apartment of Mauperg, tells him what she has done, and together they flee from the country.