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BRILLIANT is the gilded playhouse

With the gleam of jewelled aims, -

Courtiers, for their honor famous;

Maids of honor, for their charms;

Dames, whose glance has caused a duel,

Smile on princely lovers there:

Every bosom bears a jewel,

Every breast an order rare, -

For the King hath condescended

To appear in royal state,

By his noble peers attended;

So his loyal subjects wait.

In the orchestra's deep corner

Quiet sits old Maitre Francois.

Soured and surly is his manner,

Browned and scarred his face by war;

But to-night, with nervous rattle,

Beats he on his army drum;

In his eyes the fire of battle,

And his lips no longer dumb;

On his breast a ribbon wears he,

Plain, but prized beyond compare, -

For the King but little cares he,

As he hums his chant de guerre!

And o'er all the pomp and splendor

Is a hush of strange suspense;

Laughing lips and bright eyes tender

Make in vain a poor defence.

For, erewhile the jest in drinking,

"To the 'Elban Violet' !"

Keeps to-night in anxious thinking

Every wit disconsolate.

And each courtier, fearful, cowers,

As beneath his armed foes,

When, amid the scent of flowers,

Violet mingles with the rose.

Restless pace among the courtiers

Older men of sterner mien;

At their breasts no royal orders,

Violets blue alone are seen;

'Mid the seeming pleasure-seekers,

Seems their converse low and dark, -

"Hast thou heard the warlike murmur

Coming ever nearer, - hark!

Breathest thou the violet's fragrance

Northward borne on an Eagle's wing?"

Flash their eyes as winter snow-drifts

Sparkle 'neath the breath of spring.

So the evening wore on slowly

In the theatre, flower-strewn.

Still the royal box is empty,

All the powdered nobles gone;

But the hall is filled with vet'rans,

Nobles of another estate.

Quiet ever is the sergeant,

Old Francois has learned to wait;

No one thinks of him, below there,

With his ribbon bright in hue, -

But beneath that precious ribbon

Beats a stout heart ever true.

Hist! There comes a distant murmur,

'Mid the tramp of many feet,

Nearer comes a mighty cheering, -

- Nearer ever - in the street.

As the war-horse at the trumpet,

As the charger at the spur,

Springs to life each grave old soldier,

At the cry "Vive l' Empereur!"

"Il vient! qui vient! le Caporal Violet!"

Surge they up, those vieux moustaches,

Tear the crown from the royal chamber -

Hush! A King falls with that crash!

Look, Francois!! Where just above you,

Maitre d'armes de la Grande Armee,

Rises up the Imperial Eagle!

See, the Lilies fail away!

'Mid the shouts of his own French people,

Sitting on his throne of state,

Bows in pride your loved leader,

Great Napoleon the Great!

Thunders joyous rock the theatre,

Like the thunders soon to come, -

With the falling showers of violets,

Welcomes France her idol home.

Old Francois can shout no longer,

Tears of joy adown him fall,

But he lifts his band of honor

To his "little Corporal."

Ah, how best his hero welcome?

How his pent-up joy discharge? -

He grasps his drum, and, war-inspired,

Rattles out the pas de charge!

Hoarsely cried, "Victoire et gloire!"

Army, people, nation too;

And the roll of the poor old drummer

Led the way to Waterloo.

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