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SCENE: PART FIRST
Even as we understood, Sire, and have ordered. Nought lags but day, to light our victory!
VOICE OF NAPOLEON
Now let us up and ride the bivouacs round,
And note positions ere the soldiers sleep.
—Omit not from to-morrow's home dispatch
Direction that this blow of Trafalgar
Be hushed in all the news-sheets sold in France,
Or, if reported, let it be portrayed
As a rash fight whereout we came not worst,
But were so broken by the boisterous eve
That England claims to be the conqueror.
There emerge from the tent NAPOLEON and the Marshals, who all mount the horses that are led up, and proceed through the frost and rime towards the bivouacs. At the Emperor's approach to the nearest soldiery they spring up.
SOLDIERS The Emperor! He's here! The Emperor's here!
AN OLD GRENADIER (approaching Napoleon familiarly)
We'll bring thee Russian guns and flags galore To celebrate thy coronation-day!
They gather into wisps the straw, hay, and other litter on which they have been lying, and kindling these at the dying fires, wave them as torches. This is repeated as each fire is reached, till the whole French position is one wide illumination. The most enthusiastic of the soldiers follow the Emperor in a throng as he progresses, and his whereabouts in the vast field is denoted by their cries.
CHORUS OF THE PITIES (aerial music)
Strange suasive pull of personality !
CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS
His projects they unknow, his grin unsee !