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Madame Buonaparte came to see her, recalled the balls at which they had met before the Revolution, and asked her to come some day to breakfast with the First Consul. But Mme. Le Brun did not like the family or surroundings of the Buonaparte, differing so entirely as they did from the society in which she had always lived, and did not receive with much enthusiasm this invitation which was never repeated.

In all her life she never lost the recollection of the enchantment of that day, and many years later, in her altered surroundings, would say to her children, Ah! that day was the fte de ma jeunesse! For she was as much loved as he was detested. German though she was she identified herself with the nation whose crown she wore, she carried on the traditions of Peter the Great and Elizabeth; made friends of the church, the army, and the nobles, and yet had prudence enough to avoid by any open defiance hastening the vengeance of Peter, who, in spite of the warnings of the King of Prussia, despised his enemies, disbelieved in his unpopularity, and occupied himself with projects for adopting as his heir the unfortunate Ivan VI., whom Elizabeth had dethroned and imprisoned, disowning his son, divorcing his wife, and marrying the Countess Woronsoff. Whilst he loitered away his time with the latter at Oranienbaum, the conspiracy broke forth; headed by the brothers Orloff, five men of gigantic stature, powerful and capable in mind and body. They were all in the Guards, and succeeded in bringing over that and six other regiments. Catherine and one of her ladies left the palace in a cart disguised as peasants, then, changing into officers uniforms, arrived at the barracks, where Catherine was hailed with enthusiasm by soldiers, clergy, and people as Catherine II., Empress of all the Russias. [45]

So after much hesitation she consented, but so reluctantly, that even on her way to the church where the marriage was to be celebrated, [19] she still doubted and said to herself, Shall I say Yes or No? The wedding, however, took place, and she even agreed to its being a private one, and being kept secret for some time, because M. Le Brun was engaged to the daughter of a Dutchman with whom he had considerable dealings in pictures, and whom he continued to deceive in this matter until their business affairs were finished.

Now Mme. de Tess was an extremely clever, sensible person, who knew very well how to manage her affairs; and, unlike many of her relations and friends, she did not leave her arrangements and preparations until her life was in imminent danger, and then at a moments notice fly from the country, abandoning all her property, with no provision for the future, taking nothing but her clothes and jewels. But in a few days there were articles about them in the German papers; letters from Berne to the authorities of Zug reproached them for receiving the son and daughter of the infamous galit; the people of Zug disliked the attention so generally drawn upon them, the chief magistrate became uneasy, and as politely as he could asked them to go away.