The way these people were said to have met their untimely end, the way their passing was painted for them by sycophantic artists, it was like they dropped dead in the middle of a party. Napoleon, stone cold amongst so many admirals and clergymen, children even—as if he had wanted them there. Medals and satchels and sailor’s caps all crammed into that Longwood bedroom like a ship’s hold in a sudden storm.
When all you want to do is lie alone a little while, feel the world slipping through your own small space. You want to be there, by yourself, carefully, horribly, wonderfully, as the last of your fading fires disappear. You want a simple view: a crumpled palm, a plain cracked ceiling: a reminder that all this worry is naught but simple moments stitched together, and this is just one more.
He walks the grounds on the days before his death, a scarf muffling his face, protecting his throat from the random slashes of the wind. So strange that all the will in the world would keep him here, in this modest house with only one cannon facing the sea.