[Banished to the tiny island of Elba just off the Tuscan coast, Napoleon Bonaparte found himself mockingly declared emperor of his miniscule domain. His resignation from the throne of France - ostensibly in the name of the greater good of French interests - marked the end of a lifelong pursuit of power. To him, that meant the end of life itself, attempting suicide via an aged poisoned pill kept on his person. By the pill's poison had eroded over time, Napoleon unable to cheat history of his Waterloo.
Cut off from his family, exhausted by decades of both physical and political swordplay, Napoleon's soul secretly begged surrender. He feared this surrender, for to do so meant to declare his entire life up until that point a complete fraud, a waste of time - and a waste of rivers of French blood. But in his moment of devastation, this surrender proved too sweet to ignore as he thirsted for cool waters in the desert of life. His pride libeled this indulgence a "weakness", but his spirit reveled in these steps towards courage.]
The Emperor of Elba called over Maria, his daily maid. A genius at espionage, he'd espied her for some time, feeling curious to use his previous tactics of life and death for picking out the one who'd save his soul. But he sensed her strength. Like all great leaders in history, Napoleon could read the human heart. But this time his goal stayed true to himself.
"Yes, your Highness, what is you wish?" asked a bowed and kneeling Maria.
"What I wish I wish to be keep secret. This is both to your benefit and mine. Keep the secret and you and your family shall know more money than you'd hope to see in your lifetime. I need to know if you'll accept such a deal or if carrying a secret is too much for you."
Maria was no fool - as Napoleon had suspected - and she knew to weigh her answer carefully and honestly. To answer out of personal greed could be a fatal mistake. She had to know before she answered.
"Yes, sire, I can carry such a burden. Neither my family nor any living soul shall know of this secret I take to my grave. This I am prepared to do, in peace with myself."
Well spoken! A cold, dead heart felt the first few hopeful beats not felt in years, charged by an electric excitement. Even now, after the disasters of a lifetime, can there be hope?
"Thank you, Maria. I've been observing you and find you to be a worthy person." What a change to speak openly and honestly! This is thrilling! No more probing for weaknesses, but letting loose with praise, to build her up, to let her know.
"You speak too well of me, sire, I'm sure." Maria was suspicious, now cursing herself to have agreed to anything with this desperate, lecherous old man down on himself as he faded humiliatingly into history like a bad dream. You fool, woman!
"What I beg of you is this: I wish you to teach me to clean. This will be done between nine and eleven AM in the morning, at which time the house will be cordoned off by all measures for just you and me."
He expected her disbelief. "Yes, and serving too." He lets his words take full effect as he watched her struggle with the surprise, distrusting of a fortune seemingly too good to be true. Her face registered a tentative acceptance but the would-be monarchial maid saw she kept yet a leering watch in the corner of her eye. Ah yes, he had picked well! A woman of strength.
The next morning the Emperor gave his new standing orders in no uncertain terms, upon pain of death was anyone to enter his villa but Maria between 9 and 11. A winking eye between the guards understood: the lusty old man meant to have his fling with this flower still in the beauty of her youth. Napoleon prayed the girl would be up to his expectations, that she too would take courageous steps. When he saw her with an almost concealed smirking smile on her lips as she approached with her usual instruments of cleaning, he knew he'd struck gold.
[With his small stature and thick Corsican accent (Corsica having recently fallen into French domain just before Napoleon's birth), the other children teased the boy into feelings of inadequacy - the beginning of all human wars. He was so shattered that never did he learn to spell well except in rare moments of confidence he did not feel he could sustain. To prove himself, Napoleon got himself admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris.
In the throes of revolution, having beheaded her king and queen, France was surrounded by angry royal enemies who aimed to set her straight. Governing at that time hung only by a shoestring and by all rights such weakness should have buried the fledgling revolution in its infancy. But the fates had a lesson to teach the ruling royalty of Europe as this smart young officer rose in his brilliance to the rank of general by the tender age of 24. Who was this boy who danced around the armies of Europe as a ballerina does a lead footed sloth?]
"I suppose you'll be needing these." Maria dare not laugh as her outstretched arms held forth her rags and cleaning bucket. Not until that moment had she realized how tormented she had been made by them. Taking the job had been a necessity of economics but on a pure planet free of falsity her intelligent mind would race to new frontiers. How many minds like hers had been buried in the stupidity of Man's reckless rule?
"Yes, I will. Thank you."
He took them! Mon Dieu, he wasn't joking after all. Careful, don't get too excited. He could turn on you like a domesticated wolf who suddenly snaps. God, what a feeling to be recognized! Liberté! Liberté!
Secretly, the lost Emperor feared the possible drudgery, that his mind would rebel. It did not. He found actual pleasure in his labors. How long since he'd done honest labor! Slowly, he scrubbed the floor as she in her uniform supervised this new training apart from his military rigors. Ah, what freedom to throw off those shackles of war! No man wishes to train for fighting! If training you must have, train to be a maid!
Growing into her role, Maria realized - and tested - her newfound power. Sitting comfortably in her viewing chair, she called across the room to her servant. Since this was to be a secret she knew she would still be held responsible for any dirtiness found in the house. She explained it to him. "You know you will have to do good work."
"Yes, ma'am." She didn't even give a reason, though the scrubbing king reasoned her logic in his excited loins. He had no choice! He must do his chores whether he liked them or not. And do them well! Would she punish him for a poor performance? In an army, discipline is everything!
(But thank God no one here dies.)
["I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning. Look at Caesar; he fought the first like the last." Napoleon was as much a natural tactician as Mozart a musician. He was daring but rarely reckless, understanding the psychology of battle better than anyone in Europe. He knew no battle could be completely choreographed, that the true key was to remain open to opportunities, to be in a position to exploit them. His defeated enemies called him "lucky" but even luck was part of his plan.
His soldiers were his maids, glorying in their servitude. Do a good job or die! Napoleon's training and inspiration of his men made French fighting forces the most feared in the world. Like Maria the maid, they too wore uniforms denoting of their rank and position in life. And just as the present floor scrubber of Elba knew, theirs was not to question why, theirs was but to do or die.]
Maria, much to the delight of her new servant, began to assume control, not asking permission but because she wished it. "Since you are the maid now, shouldn't you be dressed like one?" The sheer humiliation delighted the king into secret ecstasy as he moved off into the next room to oblige her. "No, not there. Here. Put your new uniform on here. I wish to see you do it myself," commanded She Who Must Be Obeyed.
The former general knew anticipation and apprehension before battle, but this trembling he did not know. This was a new kind of risk, for he knew in the changing of his clothes he must reveal his erect Corsican penis. His nervous hands disrobed, never looking his mistress in the eye. Painfully aware of his erection, he blessed her silent acknowledgement in not chastising him. His fledgling strength may not have survived the guilt. And in a final release of long caged inadequacy, he was forced to realize her female outfit fit his short man's physique.
"My, don't you look pretty, servant boy!"
Oh, this could be addicting! How long have I hidden the insecurity of my size? She lets me reveal all and still be accepted. This is amazing! I'm beginning to think it's true. I have lived my life warring for nothing. I could have found a good woman and simply been myself. Surely my genius could have found better uses than an ill-fated grab for power. You knew it was doomed before the start and yet still you traveled down that path. You weak man, you!
He craved her approval in the quality of his chores and she knew it. His long corrupted soul riddled and drowned in guilt for so many years cheered this long awaited admittance of his sins. His soldiers' lives were not his to do with as he pleased. No family in France did not know the sorrow of a lost child or husband.
This he carried like a bulging boulder.
Napoleon's 24/7 holding of the reins of power strangled him and choked him of his true wants. When that power was taken away, how then to justify his life? But the understanding Maria now held the reins of power, reversing his role of a lifetime. A thousand thrones and a thousand kingdoms he'd give her if he could. What is anything without freedom but a long march into hell - just as his long march into Russia, reducing an army of 400,000 to 40,000. Scrub that floor, you stupid bitch who can't even run his own life right.
[The story of Napoleon grabbing the crown from the Pope's hands at his coronation is a false one - in a physical sense. But the story rang true because it was true in spirit. Napoleon was a man on the run. No power could be enough, no amount of land enough - he must conquer for he was a conquered man. Napoleon ruled France in both clear sighted liberalism and a dark iron fist. But he was no master of himself, just a deeper and deeper prisoner of his pride.
He grew lax and lazy, retreating into long baths. His faltering image suffered great damage after the Russian debacle. How could he reveal to the world he wished to abdicate? But who would love him without his image? Worse yet, who could forgive him? His only salvation - and curse - was to be born into a world of equal fools, of men needing the favors and worship of women. An image could be made perfect - a mere man, not so much. As expected, Napoleon’s empire fell to pieces.]
"3, ma'am." Whack! "4, ma'am." Whack! "5, ma'am." The servant boy had not performed up to the required standards and must be taught a lesson like any good soldier. A walking cane provided the instrument of improvement. After it was over: "Thank you, ma'am, for helping me."
Maria's new found sense of self translated in ways she'd never expected. She came home one day to find her husband helping with the chores - gladly! This meekness she never knew existed shocked her but she knew not to make a big deal of it but give quiet thanks. She also recognized a new peace in her spouse. Naturally her husband did not suffer the torments of a power mad king but she realized fully now the gift she gave to Napoleon, to release him from a lifetime of lies. To a lesser degree, her husband had lived them too.
Maria too was released from her self-pity, from silently complaining of having to play the subservient wife, swallowing her better judgement, wallowing in the degrading feelings and even succumbing to them. Having faced herself, she could never go back to that. Her husband having sensed this and deciding he did not want to lose her, made his choice. She had picked well after all, two people of strength - the neighbors were starting to envy.
"Come now and rub your queen's feet. Be eager in your pleasuring me."
Napoleon was more than eager. He was nearly a functioning man again. The guilt of abandoning Josephine in his false pride ravaged him for years. Yes, tender and eager he was with his present queen's feet, apologizing to all women for hurting the one who meant the most. But the emperor had not passed all his hurdles. What if it were Josephine who made these demands as Maria did? Could he only admit his mistakes in private? Was he only to be free from nine to eleven each morning?
[To Maria the maid he could submit, but to Josephine - never! His well of feelings would never run dry for her. And the formerly most powerful man in the world feared more than God to appear happily in his maid uniform before his royal guards. No, we would not allow such ignominy! He longed for his genius to construct one last glorious idol to be worshipped by the masses - the fate of fearful nerds throughout history.
But in Napoleon's attempt to run from ignominy he created ignominy, equating the word "Waterloo" with final and absolute failure in the minds of every living being to follow. He'd never have met his Waterloo had he revealed his new born self on Elba. Yes, the royalty of Europe and soldiers around the globe would have had a riotous laugh at his expense. But afterwards, then what? Then they too must face "rulers make bad lovers" as they make themselves prisoners to their servants. The illusion of war a battle for love. Live free or die dumb - like Napoleon.]