After several months of romance, Napoleon and Josephine decided to marry.
The notary who made out the marriage contract was one of Josephine’s friends. He secretly advised her against marrying an ‘obscure little officer who has nothing besides his uniform and sword and has no future’. He thought she should find someone of greater worth.
With her charms, he advised, she might attract a wealthy man, perhaps an army contractor or a business investor.
Napoleon was in the next room while the notary was giving his advice to his beloved. He could hear every word he said. Still, he did not disclose he had overheard. Years later, however, he had his revenge.
After his coronation as Emperor, the very same notary appeared before him as a matter of business. At the conclusion of their appointment, Napoleon smiled and observed that Madame de Beauharnais–now that she was Queen of France–had done very well, after all, t0 have married that ‘obscure little officer who possessed nothing besides his uniform and sword and had no future’.
The notary was forced to agree that she, indeed, had done well. As for himself…he was still a notary.