After Waterloo, What
he ordered were parapets of dirt around the perimeter of his empire at Deadwood to fend off the madding trade winds and the eyes of the English, how many thousand English to keep him in his desert enclave on St. Helena. Inside the parapets he saw to the installation of a formal garden sufficient to halt the advance of an enemy more clever than his witless jailors. When the hundred peach trees of the promenade wilted, canaries in the aviary, and carp in the pool keeled, and the pièce de résistance, a brazen Napoleonic eagle, had the wings hung out to dry and humpback of a cormorant, he had to laugh that otherworldly laugh of his. The worst was the fountain that sputtered like an old man's seed. He disappeared for days. And still— throughout the summer of 1820 guards saw the bloated Emperor (no one suspected arsenic) wielding a watering can at 5:00 A.M. in his tattered nightgown and dirty red headband. Barely able to walk, he persisted in irrigating his passion flowers and éternelles and seven kinds of rose. He called the first his Marie-Louises, the second his Josephines, and the rest his "little ladies." They would never remarry, carried on no affairs, told no one of his "difficulty." They were all the forces he had left to fight the enemy--not the assassin who laced his white Bordeaux with arsenic, but the sot who knew the poison by heart and took it gladly.
McQuilkin, Rennie. "After Waterloo, What (Poem)." American Scholar 72, no. 3 (Summer2003 2003): 32. History Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed August 22, 2013).
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