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  • 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 aristocratic guests of M. Laporte had recovered from the presumptuous conduct of their plebeian comrade, the storm broke. The peasants of France rose and cast their masters down from their lofty heights to ruin and death. When the smoke and blood of the French Revolution had passed away, all but two of Monsieur Laporte's former guests had perished. Of these two, one, the Count de Passy, was a crossing sweeper, the other, Napoleon Bonaparte, was Emperor of France and master of Europe. François, who of old had waited on the guests, was now one of Napoleon's most trusted generals. On the anniversary of M. Laporte's dinner, Napoleon, believing himself to be the sole survivor, decided to visit the inn and dream over bygone days. In a low dive in the slums of Paris, the ruined Count de Passy overheard a Bourbon plot to assassinate the Emperor after he arrived at the inn. The Count hastened to the inn, arriving in time to frustrate the plot, by forcing one of the spies to take the Emperor's place and meet the death prepared for Napoleon. After the other conspirator had been led off by the guards, de Passy made himself known to his old enemy. The grateful Emperor, overcome with the memories of the past, bade General François resume his old duties of waiter. Then the Count and Napoleon seated themselves in their old places and drank to the health of Monsieur Laporte.


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