The Pygmalion Syndrome - Other Stuff

Jan 08

5370 words

Changing of the Guard (The Grenadiers)

Report Submitted by the Right Hon. Genl. Sir Taral Wayne, esq.

© Taral Wayne. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“Mr. Garland, so glad you could come.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Mr. Bonaparte.  But you didn’t tell me it would be a costume affair.”

Thus began the strangest turn in Lew Garland’s theatrical career.  It was a one act play, and the curtain set to fall in just six hours, when the clock struck midnight, Christmas Eve.

“Call me Franz.  I’m not emperor, or general, or performer as you see.  More like the director, if you please.  I didn’t ask if you would come in costume because I had hoped you would consent to be one of the players for tonight’s pageant. I’ve provided everything for it, of course.  Only the viewers need find their own costume.”

Garland had hardly expected an invitation to as grand an affair as this.

Franz Louis Bonaparte was famous throughout Boston for his fashionable social occasions, not merely because of the man’s illustrious circle of acquaintances, nor only because he spared no expense in entertainment, but also because Bonaparte was a man that people talked about.  It was put about that he was a genuine descendant of the original, descended through a daughter to the emperor Maximilian of Mexico no less.  His mother had been fortunate enough to miss the reprisals after the defeat of the emperor at Queretaro in 1867, and his father shrewd enough to evade the disgrace of his uncle Louis Napoleon in 1871.  For them it was a life of business enterprise rather than royalty after that, and their realistic appraisal of opportunities repaid the couple generously.  The fortune their only son Franz Louis inherited upon their untimely deaths in 1912, (their one mistake in life was to book passage on the Titanic), was sufficient to establish a young man in a hundred Paris Societies.  In 1914 Franz Louis decided the better part of valour was an urgent relocation to Boston, however.  He bought his way into every important circle and the graces of every good family.

Mr. Bonaparte’s popularity didn’t end only with his impeccable background.  He was also a world traveler, a raconteur, a hobbyist with diverse passions, an amateur actor with a penchant for ballet and musical theatre, and an accomplished stage magician whose act included illusions, sleight of hand, and Mesmerism.  Especially Mesmerism!

The town still talked of the performance he gave at Lady Adderley’s, in which her daughter Pamela was so convinced she was a cat after her hypnotism, that she slept in a basket for a week, despite all reasoning and the pleas of her distraught parents.  But even that hardly compared to the time Bonaparte turned the tables at the exclusive Garrison Club’s July 4th. smoker, and Mesmerized the audience.  By persuading them that they were Caesar’s Xth. Legion, Bonaparte induced them to besiege a gathering of Moriscos in the next hall celebrating a wedding.  This was scandalous enough on the face of it, but all the more so when the character of the Garrison Club as well as that of the victims was taken into consideration.  It was the talk of the town for weeks and all good fun, provided you were not a Morisco.

For all that, Franz Louis Bonaparte was a stocky, owlish man of ordinary height, in late middle age, with a fringe of salt and pepper hair standing like a palisade from ear to ear.  He wore round little lenses perched high up on his beaky nose, and kept that prominence well raised, as though otherwise his spectacles might race to the end and catapult themselves into the air like a Swiss skier. But his demeanor spoke nothing of the comic.  Bonaparte’s dignity was palpable.  His authority was taken instantly for granted in any company.

Lew Garland on the other hand had not started well in life, had eked out the middle part with indifferent schooling and jobs of no account, and was at present an undistinguished stage actor who played a barber in a play few people were apparently interested in seeing, written by a playwright almost no one had ever heard of.  It wasn’t as though Garland had no acting ability.  It was just that his talents were at their best when entertaining other men’s wives or girlfriends, and not on the boards before a paying audience.  He was not a gigolo exactly.   Garland would not turn down a little “something” from a woman when ends wouldn’t meet, but that was not his inspiration.  Rather, Garland was a man who liked ladies, and had happily discovered that it was best to let other men support them while he and his paramours lived la dolce vita.

“It’s a fine place you have here, Mr. Bonaparte.”

“No, please.  Franz.  It’s as though I already know you.”

“I suppose you had better call me Lewis then, though I hardly understand.  We’ve only just met.” Said  Garland.

He had entered into the sort of world he had only seen painted on backdrops and pretended he belonged to.  Inside the massive oak doors a Mediterranean tiled floor flowed to a broad double staircase, each banister lavishly carved in dark wood polished to the golden gleam of bronze.  A butler, as Garland supposed, waited to one side and took his coat, hat, and cheap stick.

“That is so, but we know someone in common, who has told me a great deal about you of late.  Ah, here she is now… May I present my fiancé.”

A vision of loveliness appeared behind the butler.  She wore the latest tube-like robe de style dress, cut severely just below the knees, bare-armed, her hair bobbed en garconne, and held a pale blue cloche hat clutched in her hands.

“Adelle?” croaked Garland.

“Lew.  Good to met you again,” she said, nervously.  “I wasn’t aware Franz had invited you to the pageant.”

“You spoke of… our acquaintance to Mr. Bona… I mean to Franz?”

“Well, I rather insisted,” Bonaparte interjected.  “She dropped your name quite casually the day before last, and I became interested.  The more I heard about you, Lewis, the more interested I became, and the rather more forcefully enquired of you I’m afraid.  You’re quite the fascinating fellow, my acting friend.”

“I’m… flattered.  Coming from a gentleman such as yourself, any compliment you hand to a struggling actor such as myself is… overwhelming.  I daresay you know quite a bit about giving a performance?  The reputation of your own stage act has reached me.”

“Amateur stuff.” Said Bonaparte.  “I keep my hand in many things, excel in none. Jerry?  Good, you’ve taken Mr. Garland’s things.  If you’ll follow me, Lewis, I’ll pour you a drink while I explain your role in tonight’s entertainment.”

Adelle tugged Lew’s sleeve as he walked, whispering frantically.  “Lew?  I’m sorry about all this.  I swear I never intended to say a thing to Franz, he’s so… possessive.  And devious.  You have no idea.  He twisted my words until I was virtually admitting every…“

“Adelle?” said Bonaparte over his shoulder.  “I hadn’t realized you were still with us. Wouldn’t it be better if you were to see to your own preparations for tonight? Surely there are matters pressing in the kitchen?  Or the nursery?  The children are usually in need of your attention at this hour, no?”

“Yes, Franz. Of course.”  Then, sotto voce to Lew, “I’ll try to speak with you again later, fond heart!”

*   *   *   *

Lew sipped a very fine tawny, wood-aged colheitas port in a wine glass Bonaparte brightly informed him was named a copita, and cost more for a set of twelve than Garland earned from his acting in a month.  Knowing what just one of them cost made Lew so nervous he was in no shape to enjoy the thirty year old, mellow warmth of the Douro Valley’s finest vinho do porto. Even the ease with which Bonaparte used with such unfamiliar words made Lew feel uncomfortable.

“As you may know, Lewis,” spoke Bonaparte, “every year I hold a performance of The Nutcracker for friends and associates.  But you could hardly know that every year I… persuade… a few of those in a chosen circle to help with the performance.  Not actors you understand, but people who in one manner or another have come to my attention during the year, who I wish to reward appropriately.  We all have great fun, the performers as much as any of the audience if they go along with the jest with sufficient grace.  Admittedly, some of my performers feel embarrassment, and may act unexpectedly.  It’s my habit to make small gifts to the ensemble so there will be no hard feelings.”

At hearing this, Lew brightened a little.  A small gift from such a wealthy man would be handsome, and might be pawned when rent was in arrears.

“You will not be performing alone.  However, it’s unlikely you will know any of the other participants.  Indeed, once in costume, they would be difficult to recognize even if one were quite familiar with the person.  I find it better this way.  It protects reputations as well as injured feelings.”  Bonaparte lay back in a broad winged leather chair, totally relaxed, totally in control of his expression, of his environment, and even of Lew.

“I don’t think I understand yet what you want of me.  To take part in your Nutcracker, is that it?”  Lew sipped a little more of the fabulous port.

“In a nutshell, yes.  A little wordplay there, Lewis, eh?”  He laughed.

“But in some fashion different from just acting a part in it?”

“Yes.  I will Mesmerize you into believing you are the part.”

*   *   *   *

While he slipped away to attend other matters, Bonaparte left the actor to nurse his port.  Lew liked less and less the more he heard about tonight’s arrangement.   At first Lew considering slipping out of the mansion while no one watched.   There were so many reasons why that might be the best course.  There was the matter of Adelle to begin with.  How much did the overbearing maestro of the evening know?  Bonaparte had been maddeningly elusive about just what role he expected Lew to play in the production.  And then there was the rather eerie matter of allowing Bonaparte to practice his stage hypnotism upon him.  Lew didn’t like the sound of it at all.  But there was payment to look forward to. As well, it would be hard to explain to anyone curious about his reasons.  He would stay.

“Lewis?  Lew?”  It was Adelle.  She had come into the lounge quietly, closing an inconspicuous door between two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and crossing the space to the leather chairs almost before Lew noticed.

“I have to speak to you.  Thank God you’re alright.”

“Why wouldn’t I be alright?” asked Lew.  “What did you tell him?”

She looked all around, as though Bonaparte might be standing next to the armoire or the 18th. century globe without being seen.  “You don’t know what he’s like.  Once he believes something is being kept from him, he looks at you as though he could see right into your thoughts, and soon you find you can’t keep anything back.”

“Surely you didn’t tell him we’ve been seeing each other for the last four months?”

“I… I don’t think so.  After one of his little ‘interviews’ it can be very hard to know what one did or said.  I could only try to judge what he knew afterward from his expression.”

“You mean he Mesmerized you!  The bastard!  What sort of a man puts his own fiancé in a trance to make her tell her secrets?”  Lew was enraged, not entirely because of the danger to himself, but as much for Adelle’s sake.

“I don’t know!  I don’t know!  Maybe he did and if he did, then he may know everything!  But he didn’t seem angry… enough.  Franz can be very hard to read, but I think he almost seemed amused and not just cross at me.  Perhaps he only thought we were flirting.”

Lew looked thoughtfully at the elfin young woman.  Those vulnerable features he loved to handle roughly and crush to his lips, now seemed only the outward signs of a weak character.  “What might Franz Louis do?” he said coolly.

“Franz Louis might do almost anything.  But whatever he does he will do it with flair and style.  Nothing so coarse as poison in that expensive port I see you he served you.  He won’t demand you meet him in the field of honour either.  That would be too conventional.  Not too mention illegal and easily found out.  Whatever Franz chooses to do will be unpredictable and not to our liking, that much we can be sure of.”

They held hands a few moments, while Lew mumbled meaningless assurances.

“He doesn’t dare.  He would be a laughingstock if ever this should come out.  If we brazen through the evening, we’ll see that he learns nothing more.  It will be alright.”

Then Adelle left through the inconspicuous door as quietly as she’d entered.

*   *   *   *

The guests began arriving at the normal fashionable hour, arriving by brougham or calash or imported motor buggy, escorted in brightly costumed gaggles through the oak doors by liveried footmen hired for the night, and mingled  convivially in the ballroom.  The thousand gas jets and brilliant cut crystal chandeliers were scarcely more dazzling than the assembled crowd.

At one end of the room was a raised stage.  In contrast to the gilded baroque moldings  and veined marble of the dance floor, the stage was a model of austerity.  Maroon drapes shrouded a dark backdrop that suggested deep receding spaces.  Peering from the wings, Lew was astonished by the richness of costume he saw among the audience.  Marie Antoinettes, crusaders, cavaliers, centurions, and clowns.  Beefeaters, bishops, hangmen, Bobbies, and Sikhs.  Acrobats, Lascars, zouaves, dragoons, mandarins, outlaws, ogres, and Zulu.  Cleopatras and Caesars, Marthas and Georges.  There was more than a hint of male military fantasy represented, but there seemed to be no rules except one.  No one was costumed as Napoleon…  or Wellington.

The honour of dressing as Napoleon belonged solely to the heir of the original Grand General.

Approaching unheard, Lew was started when Bonaparte spoke over his shoulder, “Ah, there you are.  I trust you are prepared, Lewis?  The show must begin soon, so if you will look at me it’s time you were immersed in your role.”

*   *   *   *

Lew’s transformation had begun in fact an hour earlier.  Bonaparte had returned to the lounge in a seemingly preoccupied state of mind.  “Will you come with me, Lewis?  I’m afraid for the next little while I am going to be extraordinarily busy with you and your fellow performers.  For now I’m going to lead you to a room where a number of people will assist you into your costume.  I will see you there again at a later moment.”

The room Bonaparte led him to wasn’t far, but the way wasn’t simple either, involving a number of hallways, two staircases and several turns.  Lew thought he could manage the way back if he had to, though.  At last they arrived at a small room whose door seemed to be the only one in a blank section of hall long enough for a number of such rooms.  It was just one more odd detail of a rather odd house.  Inside waited three men who seemed anxious about the time.

Each of the principal performers was dressed in his or her own private quarters scattered around the mansion, they told him, and was attended by his or her own troupe of costumers, hairdressers, and make-up artists.  The attendants were instructed to be sure that none of their charges met the others until they appeared on stage.

“But what about rehearsal?” Lew complained to a man who was busy fitting him into a pair of cream coloured hose and tight puttees over ill-fitting leather shoes.

“No-one needs to rehearse, Sahr” said the man in a plummy British accent that was just shy of true upper class breeding.  “It’s the Nutcracker, Sahr.  Everyone knows the Nutcracker, and the speaking roles will be performed by professional players who have ’hearsed their lines already.  Now if you will be vary good and suck in that paunch, Sahr, I might yet just button your weskit.”

It was a near thing, but the weskit submitted to buttoning all the way from top to bottom, and not a single brass doughboy was through the wrong hole.  Lew relaxed a smidgeon, and thought he could hear the material strain to hold him taut.  Not a single button broke free across the room, though, and he relaxed completely.  He was still taut.

Damn good tailor whoever made this uniform, Lew mused out loud.  “Of course, Sahr.  Mr. Bonaparte can afford the best.  More important, the best are honoured to sarve Mr. Bonaparte.”

If the weskit and hose were tight, the blue Napoleonic jacket was cut to the same exacting lines.  It fit so snugly over the vest that it took an effort to bend his arms at the elbow.  How did people fight in this get-up Lew wondered.  No wonder volleys knocked them over like ten pins, row after row.  He couldn’t imagine ducking or dodging out of the way of a slowly thrown beach ball, let alone round shot or grape from a cannon.

At this point Lew was made up as far as the collar.  Neck stock, headgear, cross belts and other equipage would have to wait for make-up.

“Is this really necessary?”

“If Mr. Bonaparte’s instructions are to be carried out, I’m afraid so Sahr.  And since Mr. Bonaparte is due to arrive for your instruction in just a few minutes, it will be your task to explain to Mr. Bonaparte why you have not allowed me to complete my work.  Now please hold vary still, Sahr.”

Lew held very still, though he felt more like a timid schoolchild than anyone who merited calling  “Sahr”.

He was familiar with pancake and grease paint, but never before had Lew Garland been painted like a fence post.  The white cake went on thick and pasty, and after a few minutes of drying felt like a coat of rubber covering his face.  Next the powdered wig, parted in the middle, swept to either side, and rejoining in a pigtail that would do a Chinaman proud.  A second man was using spirit gum to attach heavy black eyebrows, and a preposterous walrus mustache.  Even more unlikely were the black muttonchop sideburns tucked up under his wig and depending like two dead ferrets in front of his ears.  “Wig and sideburns?”  He asked.

“All ’ccording t’ standard issue ter Boneypart’s Imper-yal Guard, gov’ner,” explained the wig master.   “At least that’s what ter present Mr. Boneypart says.”

A third man brushed rouge on Lew’s cheeks.  He could see the result in a mirror across the room, and might well have blushed naturally.  Dolling up in so much paint and powder would shame a common tart, Lew wanted to say.

“Nearly done, Sahr,” said the man with the plummy accent, before Lew could speak his thoughts.  He helped the uncomfortable actor into his pipeclayed white cross belts, rucksack, and bedroll, combed the tassels of Lew’s epaulettes, and held out his hands to one of the assistants for the bearskin Busby.

The bearskin was the piece de resistance.  Although it was almost eighteen inches tall, to Lew’s eye, a monstrous red plume added another foot of supererogatory height.  It was made of seemingly actual bearskin, piled upon a bronze casque worked with the emperor’s arms.  Still not impressive enough, a lanyard of braided white wool was festooned from ear to crown across the front, ending in tassels that would look a trifle showy on a bell pull.  And just to be certain the whole would make a strong impression, and additional tassel hung from the very apex of the bearskin, a foot above his nose.  Lew had never seen a sofa as upholstered and embellished as this hat.

“You are looking very formidable, Lewis, if I must say so.”  It was Franz.  He was Bonaparte himself, in fact and in appearance, having donned his own costume.  The Little General had never been so commanding in height or girth or authority as his distant relative.  “I am general after all, it seems, but I am still not performing in tonight’s program.  Here is your musket.”  Bonaparte thrust the heavily stocked, muzzle loading weapon in Lew’s hands.  “It is not loaded, of course.  Now you are almost ready.  The other guests performing tonight have been prepared, and it is your turn.  If you will be seated again, we will start.”

Lew sat, clutching the musket like an oar.  “No, no, no.”  Said Bonaparte.  “Hold it in the crook of your arm, upright, and place your hand over your breast.  Let me… “  He moved Lew’s arm like a doll’s.  “Yes, like so.  Now, do you see this watch?”

Lew nodded carefully, lest the massive bearskin slip over his forehead and come to rest on the bridge of his nose.

“It is a beautiful watch, is it not?” continued Bonaparte.  It was, Lew nodded.  “It is also a very valuable watch, with great historical significance.   It was given to me by my father before he boarded the ship for his final voyage.  He had it from his father, who had it from his father, who had it from the emperor, my great-grand uncle, who checked the time on this very watch as he ordered the Royal Guard to break Wellington’s invincible squares in the last hours of Waterloo.  See how well it has been kept.  See how carefully it’s been polished, year after year, generation after generation, gleaming, shiny, ticking…“

Lew didn’t actually remember anything after that until he sat up with a sudden start.

“What was that?  You were saying something about your watch?”

 “Not a thing.  But I believe you will find you know your part now.  Post-hypnotic suggestion: do you understand?”

Lew didn’t, but kept his ignorance to himself on general principle.

Bonaparte excused himself, saying he had other participants to prepare.  Lew’s attendants preceded the general out, but before closing the door behind him Bonaparte warned Lew to remain in his dressing room until needed.  “There is a little while still before you are needed on stage, Lewis.  I have a few others to prepare before the program can proceed.  Since you are all primed to respond to each other in pre-set ways, it would be disaster – to the show of course – if you were to meet each other prematurely.  It would un-do everything.  There is refreshment on the sideboard, and some magazines that should interest you while you wait.  You understand.”

“Yes.  Of  course.”  He didn’t.

Nor did he intend to remain.  Lew held his breath, listening to Bonaparte’s foot steps fade away in distance, and when he could no longer hear the departing general he abruptly stood up.  Lew faced himself in the mirror.  The face that looked back at him was his, but a startling, artificial caricature of him.  He resembled a Napoleonic guardsman only in the way a manikin in a Christmas display window would.  Never mind.  It was unlikely any of this crowd would recognize him.  Even in his professional capacity his audiences weren’t large, and they were of the common sort.  It was more than improbable that anyone from tonight’s guest list had ever seen Lew Garland perform before; it was laughable.  So with no remorse Lew eased the door open a crack, saw the hall was clear, and stepped out.

It took Lew only a few minutes and a number of wrong turns to find backstage, from where he watched the guests arrive.  It was there that Bonaparte found him a little later.

*    *    *    *

Lew didn’t feel hypnotized.  Not at all.  He just knew that he was supposed to wait until the curtains closed and he could no longer see the audience.  Other guardsmen were collecting around him, and at a word from their general they all knew to march silently onto the middle of the stage.  They lined up in perfect form, heels and toes together, arms straight to their sides, muskets grounded. They waited, eyes straight ahead, while stage hands moved a number of properties into their places.  A small, jewel-like, gleaming brass cannon was wheeled in last, lovingly swung around to aim front stage, and the hands left.

The curtain raised.  The ballet began.  While the performers danced, Lew and his fellow guardsmen stood stock still.  Now and then, cued with the music, they would march to one side of the stage or the other, always beginning with an exaggerated goosestep that came perilously close to slapstick.  The mysterious toy maker arrived with his bag of gifts, from which he produced three life-size dolls.  Each wound up, the dolls capered across the stage in delicate Petit Pas de Bris ending in a Grand Minces and several gratuitous Soupcon to the audience’s delight.   Came The nutcracker’s turn he laughed and chomped his wooden jaws .   The Mouse King led his rodent soldiers to battle and expired magnificently when the cannon was fired.  At last The Nutcracker was triumphantly revealed as Herr Toymaker’s nephew himself, and Act One came to its conclusion.

 The curtain fell, but in the orchestra pit the musicians continued to play to cover the noises of the stage crew working out of sight.

Act Two.  The curtain rose once more.  Now the scene was no longer the family Christmas Party, but the Land of Sweets.  The Sugar Plum Fairy entered and introduced the dancers of Chocolate, Coffee,  Tea, and Candy Canes, followed by Mother Ginger’s Bon-Bons and the justly famous Waltz of the Flowers.  At long last Clara rode off with the Prince, who was really the toymaker’s nephew of course, (and formerly The Nutcracker), and the ballet was at an end.

All the while Lew stared placidly ahead, neither curious nor comprehending of the music and activity in front of him.  The curtain came down for the final time and the hired players dispersed.  Lew remained at attention though.  So did the other grenadiers in line to either side of him.  They remained that way for quite a while in fact.  Though he couldn’t see them, Lew was vaguely aware that the sound of merriment on the other side of the embroidered curtain diminished gradually, until there was nothing but silence from the great ballroom.  And still they waited at attention.

Finally, a clock somewhere in the house sounded midnight.  It boomed the hours one after the other until all were counted, and as the twelfth hour faded the sharp sound of footsteps clicking on the wooden boards grew near.  It was Bonaparte, still dressed as The General.

“You did very well, mes enfants.  The ballet was a splendid success and the audience retired in a state of excited satisfaction.  Of course, I had to wait until all had left and the servants dismissed before addressing you.

“You may wonder why it was necessary to go to so much bother to include you in tonight’s program?  You had hardly any role to play, and you may falsely conclude you were little more than part of the scenery.  It is true your part in tonight’s Nutcracker was superficial.  In fact, it was little more than a cover to bring you here.  But now that you are here and in my power, you will remain as you are until it is my pleasure to release you.  In some cases, that may be some time.  Years perhaps.  Even… longer.”

One by one Bonaparte spoke to the toy soldiers in a voice too quiet for the others to hear, and explained to them why they were captive so.  The General moved closer to Lew, and whispered into the ear of the frail soldier to his right.  Then he was at Lew’s ear.

“Lewis, my boy, by now I expect you have worked out the reason for your captivity.  Did you and Adelle truly expect to keep your common little affair secret from me forever?  Did you not consider the possible consequences at all?  I am not a man to be trifled with, Lewis!  Of course, it amuses me to settle accounts this ingenious way rather than with a pistol.  That is altogether too desperate for this day and age, and society frowns on it.  But who will miss a second-rate actor if there is no corpus delicti?”

Lew Garland would have broken into a sweat by this time, but curiously the make-up seemed to prevent it.  The old Lew would have twitched and swallowed and given every sign of extreme agitation, in fact, but the grenadier seemed unable to.  He stood placidly, not even much disturbed of mind.  Bonaparte moved on to the soldier to the left, and began to whisper…

Perhaps only a few minutes passed.  Perhaps nearer an hour.  Lew didn’t give it any thought, but at last Bonaparte walked a few steps away from the line and turned.  Then, as their commanding officer, he told his company of soldiers off.  One by one they passed by The General for review, until only Lew and the soldier to his right remained.

Lew couldn’t know, of course, whatever became of even a single one of the others. The contractor who overcharged Franz Louis Bonaparte to re-lay the tiles in the lavatory might entertain the children of a distant Pasha for a year, or perhaps even several.  Another man, who had cost Bonaparte a substantial sum in a fraudulent business transaction, might have been destined to serve as an ornamental guard by the door of the eccentric English governor of Barbados…  until His Excellency was tired of him.  The third and fourth grenadier could have been destined to be the playthings of a depraved Duchess in the Tuscan countryside, and could expect to be thoroughly worn out before she tired of them!  A very minor king in Southeast Asia thought Bonaparte’s grenadiers might even be useful as soldiers, and had begged The General for all he could spare.  Perhaps Franz Louis had begrudged him one, but likely only one.  He would have pointedly reminded the king he wanted it back in due time too.  If any harm came to it, the king would have to supply a replacement.  (That’s alright, the king had said – he had too many sons anyway.)  The remaining grenadier might be found for the next several months behind the wheel of a Rolls belonging to a retired Russian general who had destroyed far too many of his mental capacities with heavy drinking.

That left Lew, and his twin standing next to him.  Bonaparte turned to them last.

“Would you be so kind, soldier, as to step out,” he said to Lew Garland.  “Now about turn.”  Lew did as he was told and looked into the face of his fellow grenadier.  The soldier was thinner than Lew, and quite a bit shorter, though otherwise identical.  Yet somehow the face looking back at him was different in an important way Lew couldn’t at first understand.  It looked familiar.  It should not have sprouted a heavy mustache and pendulous sideburns as it did, but without them…

Even Lew’s dulled wits sank as he recognized the face staring back at him with such sad eyes.

“Private Lewis Garland, I wish you to meet Private Adelle nee Witherspoon.  She won’t be using her maiden name any more I think.  I came late to the understanding of just how much you enjoyed each other’s company, but not so late that I couldn’t arrange for you to enjoy it together indefinitely.  Now march!  By the left!  Private Adelle knows the way to the nursery where you will be posted until further notice.  The children will find you tremendous fun, and their games will doubtless enliven the years to come.”

When Bonaparte died peacefully in his bed, some sixteen years later, it was found that his will left a pair of surprisingly life-like, life-size wooden soldiers with the estate.

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