In 1805 Francis Ellery, a young publisher of the London Tablet, was convinced that Napoleon would cross the Channel unless something was done to prevent it. He promptly launched his paper on a campaign to arouse England. The immediate antagonism of his parliament-seeking brother Caradoc, the near collapse of his paper, and a short prison term were the results. On top of all this Francis fell in love with a vivacious French refugee, Gabrielle de Salle. Off to Portugal as the first war correspondent, he returned wounded to find Gabrielle engaged to Caradoc. It soon developed that Gabrielle's brother was a spy for Napoleon. Francis arraged for her to escape to France, where she became an ardent Bonapartist and married the stupid Vicomte de Vitrelle.
At this point a less determined lover than Francis Ellery would have given up. Ahead of him lay long years of waiting, with only the knowledge that Gabrielle liked and trusted him. It was only during Napoleon's retreat from Russia that a brief meeting with Francis made her realize that her patient Englishman was as dear to her as her Emporer.
Primarily a story of Francis and Gabrielle, it is also the story of the leaders of a great period in history; tense, and packed with thousands of details on prisons, hospitals, gambling, a London newspaper in 1805; details which catch the breath of life link the emotions of that period to our own.
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