Talleyrand was the consummate courtier, especially in serving his master
Napoleon. When the two men were first getting to know each other,
Napoleon once said in passing, "I shall come to lunch at your house one of
these days." Talleyrand had a house at Auteuil, in the suburbs of Paris. "I
should be delighted, mon general," the minister replied, "and since my
house is elose to the Bois de Boulogne, you will be able to amuse yourself
with a bit of shooting in the aftemoon."
"I do not like shooting," said Napoleon, "But I love hunting. Are there
any boars in the Bois de Boulogne?

" Napoleon came from Corsica, where
boar hunting was a great sport. By asking if there were boars in a Paris
park, he showed hirnself still a provincial, almost a rube. Talleyrand did not
laugh, however, but he could not resist a practical joke on the man who
was now his master in politics, although not in blood and nobility, since
Talleyrand came from an old aristocratic family. To Napoleon's question,
then, he simply replied, "Very few, mon general, but I dare say you will manage to find one."
It was arranged that Napoleon would arrive at Talleyrand's house the
following day at seven A.M. and would spend the moming there. The "boar
hunt" would take place in the aftemoon. Throughout the moming the excited general talked nothing but boar hunting. Meanwhile,

 Talleyrand secretly had his servants go to the market, buy two enormous black pigs, and
take them to the great park.
After lunch, the hunters and their hounds set off for the Bois de
Boulogne. At a secret signal from Talleyrand, the servants loosed one of the
pigs. "I see a boar," Napoleon cried joyfully, jumping onto his horse to give
chase. Talleyrand stayed behind. It took half an hour of galloping through
the park before the "boar" was finally captured. At the moment of triumph,
however, Napoleon was approached by one of his aides, who knew the
creature could not possibly be a boar, and feared the general would be
ridiculed once the story got out: "Sir," he told Napoleon, "you realize of
course that this is not a boar but a pig."
Flying into a rage, Napoleon immediately set off at a gallop for Talleyrand's house. He realized along the way that he would now be the butt
of many a joke, and that exploding at Talleyrand would only make hirn
LAW 24 189
190 LAW 24
more ridiculous; it would be better to make a show of good humor. Still, he
did not hide his displeasure weIl.
Talleyrand decided to try to soothe the general's bruised ego. He told
Napoleon not to go back to Paris yet-he should again go hunting in the
park. There were many rabbits there, and hunting them had been a favorite pastime of Louis XVI. Talleyrand even offered to let Napoleon use a
set of guns that had once belonged to Louis. With much flattery and cajolery, he once again got Napoleon to agree to a hunt.
The party left for the park in the late aftemoon. 

Along the way,
Napoleon told Talleyrand, "I'm not Louis XVI, I surely won't kill even one
rabbit." Yet that aftemoon, strangely enough, the park was teeming with
rabbits. Napoleon killed at least fifty of them, and his mood changed from
anger to satisfaction. At the end of his wild shooting spree, however, the
same aide approached hirn and whispered in his ear, "To tell the truth, sir, 

am beginning to believe these are not wild rabbits. I suspect that rascal Talleyrand has played another joke on us." (The aide was right: Talleyrand
had in fact sent his servants back to the market, where they had purchased
dozens of rabbits and then had released them in the Bois de Boulogne.)
Napoleon immediately mounted his horse and galloped away, this
time retuming straight to Paris. He later threatened Talleyrand, wamed
hirn not to tell a soul what had happened; if he became the laughingstock
of Paris, there would be hell to pay.
It took months for Napoleon to be able to trust Talleyrand again, and
he never totally forgave hirn his humiliation.
Courtiers are like magicians: They deceptively play with appearances,
only letting those around them see what they want them to see.

 With so
much deception and manipulation afoot, it is essential to keep people from
seeing your tricks and glimpsing your sleight of hand.
Talleyrand was normally the Grand Wizard of Courtiership, and but
for Napoleon's aide, he probably would have gotten away completely with
both pleasing his master and having a joke at the general's expense. But
courtiership is a subtle art, and overlooked traps and inadvertent mistakes
can ruin your best tricks. Never risk being caught in your maneuvers;
never let people see your devices. If that happens you instantly pass in people's perceptions from a courtier of great manners to a loathsome rogue. It
is a delicate game you play; apply the utrnost attention to covering your
tracks, and never let your master unmask you.

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