A Book of Remarkable Criminals
H. B. Irving

Part 5 out of 5

President: Very good.

The appearance in the witness box of the widow's unhappy victim
evoked sympathy. He gave his evidence quietly, without
resentment or indignation. As he told his story the widow, whose
eyes were fixed on him all the time, murmured: "Georges!
Georges! Defend me! Defend me!" "I state the facts," he

The prisoners could only defend themselves by trying to throw on
each other the guilt of the crime. M. Demange represented Gaudry
as acting under the influence of his passion for the Widow Gras.
Lachaud, on the other hand, attributed the crime solely to
Gaudry's jealousy of the widow's lover, and contended that he was
the sole author of the outrage.

The jury by their verdict assigned to the widow the greater share
of responsibility. She was found guilty in the full degree, but
to Gaudry were accorded extenuating circumstances. The widow was
condemned to fifteen years' penal servitude, her accomplice to
five years' imprisonment.

It is dreadful to think how very near the Widow Gras came to
accomplishing successfully her diabolical crime. A little less
percipitancy on her part, and she might have secured the fruits
of her cruelty. Her undoubted powers of fascination, in spite of
the fiendishness of her real character, are doubly proved by the
devotion of her lover and the guilt of her accomplice. At the
same time, with that strange contradiction inherent in human
nature, the Jekyll and Hyde elements which, in varying degree,
are present in all men and women, the Widow Gras had a genuine
love for her young sister. Her hatred of men was reasoned,
deliberate, merciless and implacable. There is something almost
sadic in the combination in her character of erotic sensibility
with extreme cruelty.

Vitalis and Marie Boyer

I found the story of this case in a brochure published in Paris
as one of a series of modern causes celebres. I have
compared it with the reports of the trial in the Gazette des

In the May of 1874, in the town of Montpellier, M. Boyer, a
retired merchant, some forty-six years of age, lay dying. For
some months previous to his death he had been confined to his
bed, crippled by rheumatic gout. As the hour of his death drew
near, M. Boyer was filled with a great longing to see his
daughter, Marie, a girl of fifteen, and embrace her for the last
time. The girl was being educated in a convent at Marseilles.
One of M. Boyer's friends offered to go there to fetch her. On
arriving at the convent, he was told that Marie had become
greatly attracted by the prospect of a religious life. "You are
happy," the Mother Superior had written to her mother, "very
happy never to have allowed the impure breath of the world to
have soiled this little flower. She loves you and her father
more than one can say." Her father's friend found the girl
dressed in the costume of a novice, and was told that she had
expressed her desire to take, one day, her final vows. He
informed Marie of her father's dying state, of his earnest wish
to see her for the last time, and told her that he had come to
take her to his bedside. "Take me away from here?" she
exclaimed. The Mother Superior, surprised at her apparent
reluctance to go, impressed on her the duty of acceding to
her father's wish. To the astonishment of both, Marie refused to
leave the convent. If she could save her father's life, she
said, she would go, but, as that was impossible and she dreaded
going out into the world again, she would stay and pray for her
father in the chapel of the convent, where her prayers would be
quite as effective as by his bedside. In vain the friend and the
Mother Superior tried to bend her resolution.

Happily M. Boyer died before he could learn of his daughter's
singular refusal. But it had made an unfavourable impression on
the friend's mind. He looked on Marie as a girl without real
feeling, an egoist, her religion purely superficial, hiding a
cold and selfish disposition; he felt some doubt as to the future
development of her character.

M. Boyer left a widow, a dark handsome woman, forty years of age.

Some twenty years before his death, Marie Salat had come to live
with M. Boyer as a domestic servant. He fell in love with her,
she became his mistress, and a few months before the birth of
Marie, M. Boyer made her his wife. Madame Boyer was at heart a
woman of ardent and voluptuous passions that only wanted
opportunity to become careless in their gratification. Her
husband's long illness gave her such an opportunity. At the time
of his death she was carrying on an intrigue with a bookseller's
assistant, Leon Vitalis, a young man of twenty-one. Her bed-
ridden husband, ignorant of her infidelity, accepted gratefully
the help of Vitalis, whom his wife described as a relative, in
the regulation of his affairs. At length the unsuspecting Boyer
died. The night of his death Madame Boyer spent with her lover.

The mother had never felt any great affection for her only child.

During her husband's lifetime she was glad to have Marie out
of the way at the convent. But the death of M. Boyer changed the
situation. He had left almost the whole of his fortune, about
100,000 francs, to his daughter, appointing her mother her legal
guardian with a right to the enjoyment of the income on the cap-

ital until Marie should come of age. Madame Boyer had not
hitherto taken her daughter's religious devotion very seriously.
But now that the greater part of her husband's fortune was left
to Marie, she realised that, should her daughter persist in her
intention of taking the veil, that fortune would in a very few
years pass into the hands of the sisterhood. Without delay
Madame Boyer exercised her authority, and withdrew Marie from the
convent. The girl quitted it with every demonstration of genuine

Marie Boyer when she left the convent was growing into a tall and
attractive woman, her figure slight and elegant, her hair and
eyes dark, dainty and charming in her manner. Removed from the
influences of convent life, her religious devotion became a thing
of the past. In her new surroundings she gave herself up to the
enjoyments of music and the theatre. She realised that she was a
pretty girl, whose beauty well repaid the hours she now spent in
the adornment of her person. The charms of Marie were not lost
on Leon Vitalis. Mean and significant in appearance, Vitalis
would seem to have been one of those men who, without any great
physical recommendation, have the knack of making themselves
attractive to women. After her husband's death Madame Boyer had
yielded herself completely to his influence and her own undoubted
passion for him. She had given him the money with which to
purchase a business of his own as a second-hand bookseller. This
trade the enterprising and greedy young man combined with money-
lending and he clandestine sale of improper books and
photographs. To such a man the coming of Marie Boyer was a
significant event. She was younger, more attractive than her
mother; in a very few years the whole of her father's fortune
would be hers. Slowly Vitalis set himself to win the girl's
affections. The mother's suspicions were aroused; her jealousy
was excited. She sent Marie to complete her education at a
convent school in Lyons. This was in the April of 1875. By this
time Marie and Vitalis had become friendly enough to arrange to
correspond clandestinely during the girl's absence from home.
Marie was so far ignorant of the relations of Vitalis with her

Her daughter sent away, Madame Boyer surrendered herself with
complete abandonment to her passion for her lover. At Castelnau,
close to Montpellier, she bought a small country house. There
she could give full rein to her desire. To the scandal of the
occasional passer-by she and her lover would bathe in a stream
that passed through the property, and sport together on the
grass. Indoors there were always books from Vitalis' collection
to stimulate their lascivious appetites. This life of pastoral
impropriety lasted until the middle of August, when Marie Boyer
came home from Lyons.

Vitalis would have concealed from the young girl as long as he
could the nature of his relations with Madame Boyer, but his
mistress by her own deliberate conduct made all concealment
impossible. Whether from the utter recklessness of her passion
for Vitalis, or a desire to kill in her daughter's heart any
attachment which she may have felt towards her lover, the mother
paraded openly before her daughter the intimacy of her relations
with Vitalis, and with the help of the literature with which the
young bookseller supplied her, set about corrupting her child's
mind to her own depraved level. The effect of her extraordinary
conduct was, however, the opposite to what she had intended.
The mind of the young girl was corrupted; she was familiarised
with vice. But in her heart she did not blame Vitalis for what
she saw and suffered; she pitied, she excused him. It was her
mother whom she grew to hate, with a hate all the more determined
for the cold passionless exterior beneath which it was concealed.

Madame Boyer's deliberate display of her passion for Vitalis
served only to aggravate and intensify in Marie Boyer an
unnatural jealousy that was fast growing up between mother and

Marie did not return to the school at Lyons. In the winter of
1875, Madame Boyer gave up the country house and, with her
daughter, settled in one of the suburbs of Montpellier. In the
January of 1876 a theft occurred in her household which obliged
Madame Boyer to communicate with the police. Spendthrift and
incompetent in the management of her affairs, she was hoarding
and suspicious about money itself. Cash and bonds she would hide
away in unexpected places, such as books, dresses, even a soup
tureen. One of her most ingenious hiding places was a portrait
of her late husband, behind which she concealed some bearer bonds
in landed security, amounting to about 11,000 francs. One day in
January these bonds disappeared. She suspected a theft, and
informed the police. Three days later she withdrew her
complaint, and no more was heard of the matter. As Marie and
Vitalis were the only persons who could have known her secret,
the inference is obvious. When, later in the year, Vitalis
announced his intention of going to Paris on business, his
mistress expressed to him the hope that he would "have a good
time" with her bonds. Vitalis left for Paris. But there was now
a distinct understanding between Marie and himself. Vitalis had
declared himself her lover and asked her to marry him. The
following letter, written to him by Marie Boyer in the
October of 1876, shows her attitude toward his proposal:

"I thank you very sincerely for your letter, which has given me
very great-pleasure, because it tells me that you are well. It
sets my mind at rest, for my feelings towards you are the same as
ever. I don't say they are those of love, for I don't know
myself; I don't know what such feelings are. But I feel a real
affection for you which may well turn to love. How should I not
hold in affectionate remembrance one who has done everything for
me? But love does not come to order. So I can't and don't wish
to give any positive answer about our marriage--all depends on
circumstances. I don't want any promise from you, I want you to
be as free as I am. I am not fickle, you know me well enough for
that. So don't ask me to give you any promise. You may find my
letter a little cold. But I know too much of life to pledge
myself lightly. I assure you I think on it often. Sometimes I
blush when I think what marriage means."

Madame Boyer, displeased at the theft, had let her lover go
without any great reluctance. No sooner had he gone than she
began to miss him. Life seemed dull without him. Mother and
daughter were united at least in their common regret at the
absence of the young bookseller. To vary the monotony of
existence, to find if possible a husband for her daughter, Madame
Boyer decided to leave Montpellier for Marseilles, and there
start some kind of business. The daughter, who foresaw greater
amusement and pleasure in the life of a large city, assented
willingly. On October 6, 1876, they arrived at Marseilles, and
soon after Madame bought at a price considerably higher than
their value, two shops adjoining one another in the Rue de
la Republique. One was a cheese shop, the other a milliner's.

The mother arranged that she should look after the cheese shop,
while her daughter presided over the milliner's. The two shops
were next door to one another. Behind the milliner's was a
drawing-room, behind the cheese shop a kitchen; these two rooms
communicated with each other by a large dark room at the back of
the building. In the kitchen was a trap-door leading to a
cellar. The two women shared a bedroom in an adjoining house.

Vitalis had opposed the scheme of his mistress to start shop-
keeping in Marseilles. He knew how unfitted she was to undertake
a business of any kind. But neither mother nor daughter would
relinquish the plan. It remained therefore to make the best of
it. Vitalis saw that he must get the business into his own
hands; and to do that, to obtain full control of Madame Boyer's
affairs, he must continue to play the lover to her. To the
satisfaction of the two women, he announced his intention of
coming to Marseilles in the New Year of 1877. It was arranged
that he should pass as a nephew of Madame Boyer, the cousin of
Marie. He arrived at Marseilles on January 1, and received a
cordial welcome. Of the domestic arrangements that ensued, it is
sufficient to say that they were calculated to whet the jealousy
and inflame the hatred that Marie felt towards her mother, who
now persisted as before in parading before her daughter the
intimacy of her relations with Vitalis.

In these circumstances Vitalis succeeded in extracting from his
mistress a power of attorney, giving him authority to deal with
her affairs and sell the two businesses, which were turning out
unprofitable. This done, he told Marie, whose growing attachment
to him, strange as it may seem, had turned to love, that now at
last they could be free. He would sell the two shops, and
with the money released by the sale they could go away to-

gether. Suddenly Madame Boyer fell ill, and was confined to her
bed. Left to themselves, the growing passion of Marie Boyer for
Vitalis culminated in her surrender. But for the sick mother the
happiness of the lovers was complete. If only her illness were
more serious, more likely to be fatal in its result! "If only
God would take her!" said Vitalis. "Yes," replied her daughter,
"she has caused us so much suffering!"

To Madame Boyer her illness had brought hours of torment, and at
last remorse. She realised the duplicity of her lover, she knew
that he meant to desert her for her daughter, she saw what wrong
she had done that daughter, she suspected even that Marie and
Vitalis were poisoning her. Irreligious till now, her thoughts
turned to religion. As soon as she could leave her bed she would
go to Mass and make atonement for her sin; she would recover her
power of attorney, get rid of Vitalis for good and all, and send
her daughter back to a convent. But it was too late. Nemesis
was swift to overtake the hapless woman. Try as he might,
Vitalis had found it impossible to sell the shops at anything but
a worthless figure. He had no money of his own, with which to
take Marie away. He knew that her mother had resolved on his
instant dismissal.

As soon as Madame Boyer was recovered sufficiently to leave her
bed, she turned on her former lover, denounced his treachery,
accused him of robbing and swindling her, and bade him go without
delay. To Vitalis dismissal meant ruin, to Marie it meant the
loss of her lover. During her illness the two young people had
wished Madame Boyer dead, but she had recovered. Providence or
Nature having refused to assist Vitalis, he resolved to fall back
on art. He gave up a whole night's rest to the consideration of
the question. As a result of his deliberations he suggested
to the girl of seventeen the murder of her mother. "This must
end," said Vitalis. "Yes, it must," replied Marie. Vitalis
asked her if she had any objection to such a crime. Marie
hesitated, the victim was her mother. Vitalis reminded her what
sort of a mother she had been to her. The girl said that she was
terrified at the sight of blood; Vitalis promised that her mother
should be strangled. At length Marie consented. That night on
some slight pretext Madame Boyer broke out into violent
reproaches against her daughter. She little knew that every
reproach she uttered served only to harden in her daughter's
heart her unnatural resolve.

On the morning of March 19 Madame Boyer rose early to go to Mass.

Before she went out, she reminded Vitalis that this was his last
day in her service, that when she returned she would expect to
find him gone. It was after seven when she left the house. The
lovers had no time to lose; the deed must be done immediately on
the mother's return. They arranged that Vitalis should get rid
of the shop-boy, and that, as soon as he had gone, Marie should
shut and lock the front doors of the two shops. At one o'clock
Madame Boyer came back. She expressed her astonishment and
disgust that Vitalis still lingered, and threatened to send for
the police to turn him out. Vitalis told the shop-boy that he
could go away for a few hours; they had some family affairs to
settle. The boy departed. Madame Boyer, tired after her long
morning in the town, was resting on a sofa in the sitting-room,
at the back of the milliner's shop. Vitalis entered the room,
and after a few heated words, struck her a violent blow in the
chest. She fell back on the sofa, calling to her daughter to
come to her assistance. The daughter sought to drown her
mother's cries by banging the doors, and opening and shutting
drawers. Vitalis, who was now trying to throttle his
victim, called to Marie to shut the front doors of the two shops.

To do so Marie had to pass through the sitting-room, and was a
witness to the unsuccessful efforts of Vitalis to strangle her
mother. Having closed the doors, she retired into the milliner's
shop to await the issue. After a few moments her lover called to
her for the large cheese knife; he had caught up a kitchen knife,
but in his struggles it had slipped from his grasp. Quickly
Marie fetched the knife and returned to the sitting-room. There
a desperate struggle was taking place between the man and woman.
At one moment it seemed as if Madame Boyer would get the better
of Vitalis, whom nature had not endowed greatly for work of this
kind. Marie came to his aid. She kicked and beat her mother,
until at last the wretched creature released her hold and sank
back exhausted. With the cheese knife, which her daughter had
fetched, Vitalis killed Madame Boyer.

They were murderers now, the young lovers. What to do with the
body? The boy would be coming back soon. The cellar under the
kitchen seemed the obvious place of concealment. With the help
of a cord the body was lowered into the cellar, and Marie washed
the floor of the sitting-room. The boy came back. He asked
where Madame Boyer was. Vitalis told him that she was getting
ready to return to Montpellier the same evening, and that he had
arranged to go with her, but that he had no intention of doing
so; he would accompany her to the station, he said, and then at
the last moment, just as the train was starting, slip away and
let her go on her journey alone. To the boy, who knew enough of
the inner history of the household to enjoy the piquancy of the
situation, such a trick seemed quite amusing. He went away
picturing in his mind the scene at the railway station and its
humorous possibilities.

At seven o'clock Vitalis and Marie Boyer were alone once more
with the murdered woman. They had the whole night before them.
Vitalis had already considered the matter of the disposal of the
body. He had bought a pick and spade. He intended to bury his
former mistress in the soil under the cellar. After that had
been done, he and Marie would sell the business for what it would
fetch, and go to Brussels--an admirable plan, which two
unforeseen circumstances defeated. The Rue de la Republique
was built on a rock, blasted out for the purpose. The shop-boy
had gone to the station that evening to enjoy the joke which, he
believed, was to be played on his mistress.

When Vitalis tried to dig a grave into the ground beneath the
cellar he realised the full horror of the disappointment. What
was to be done? They must throw the body into the sea. But how
to get it there? The crime of Billoir, an old soldier, who the
year before in Paris had killed his mistress in a fit of anger
and cut up her body, was fresh in the recollection of Vitalis.
The guilty couple decided to dismember the body of Madame Boyer
and so disfigure her face as to render it unrecognisable. In the
presence of Marie, Vitalis did this, and the two lovers set out
at midnight to discover some place convenient for the reception
of the remains. They found the harbour too busy for their
purpose, and decided to wait until the morrow, when they would go
farther afield. They returned home and retired for the night,
occupying the bed in which Madame Boyer had slept the night

On the morning of the 20th the lovers rose early, and a curious
neighbour, looking through the keyhole, saw them counting
joyously money and valuables, as they took them from Madame
Boyer's cash-box. When the shop-boy arrived, he asked Vitalis
for news of Madame Boyer. Vitalis told him that he had gone
with her to the station, that she had taken the train to
Montpellier, and that, in accordance with his plan, he had given
her the slip just as the train was starting. This the boy knew
to be false: he had been to the station himself to enjoy the fun,
and had seen neither Vitalis nor Madame Boyer. He began to
suspect some mystery. In the evening, when the shops had been
closed, and he had been sent about his business, he waited and
watched. In a short time he saw Vitalis and Marie Boyer leave
the house, the former dragging a hand-cart containing two large
parcels, while Marie walked by his side. They travelled some
distance with their burden, leaving the city behind them, hoping
to find some deserted spot along the coast where they could
conceal the evidence of their crime. Their nerves were shaken by
meeting with a custom-house officer, who asked them what it was
they had in the cart. Vitalis answered that it was a traveller's
luggage, and the officer let them pass on. But soon after,
afraid to risk another such experience, the guilty couple turned
out the parcels into a ditch, covered them with stones and sand,
and hurried home.

The next day, the shop-boy and the inquisitive neighbour having
consulted together, went to the Commissary of Police and told him
of the mysterious disappearance of Madame Boyer. The Commissary
promised to investigate the matter, and had just dismissed his
informants when word was brought to him of the discovery, in a
ditch outside Marseilles, of two parcels containing human
remains. He called back the boy and took him to view the body at
the Morgue. The boy was able, by the clothes, to identify the
body as that of his late mistress. The Commissary went straight
to the shops in the Rue de la Republique, where he found the
young lovers preparing for flight. At first they denied all
knowledge of the crime, and said that Madame Boyer had gone to
Montpellier. They were arrested, and it was not long before they
both confessed their guilt to the examining magistrate.

Vitalis and Marie Boyer were tried before the Assize Court at Aix
on July 2, 1877. Vitalis is described as mean and insignificant
in appearance, thin, round-backed, of a bilious complexion; Marie
Boyer as a pretty, dark girl, her features cold in expression,
dainty and elegant. At her trial she seemed to be still so
greatly under the influence of Vitalis that during her
interrogatory the President sent him out of court. To the
examining magistrate Marie Boyer, in describing her mother's mur-
der, had written, "I cannot think how I came to take part in it.
I, who wouldn't have stayed in the presence of a corpse for all
the money in the world." Vitalis was condemned to death, and was
executed on August 17. He died fearful and penitent,
acknowledging his miserable career to be a warning to misguided
youth. Extenuating circumstances were accorded to Marie Boyer,
and she was sentenced to penal servitude for life. Her conduct
in prison was so repentant and exemplary that she was released in

M. Proal, a distinguished French judge, and the author of some
important works on crime, acted as the examining magistrate in
the case of Vitalis and Marie Boyer. He thus sums up his
impression of the two criminals: "Here is an instance of how
greed and baseness on the one side, lust and jealousy on the
other, bring about by degrees a change in the characters of
criminals, and, after some hesitation, the suggestion and
accomplishment of parricide, Is it necessary to seek an
explanation of the crime in any psychic abnormality which is
negatived to all appearances by the antecedents of the guilty
pair? Is it necessary to ask it of anatomy or physiology?
Is not the crime the result of moral degradation gradually
asserting itself in two individuals, whose moral and intellectual
faculties are the same as those of other men, but who fall, step
by step, into vice and crime? It is by a succession of wrongful
acts that a man first reaches the frontier of crime and then at
length crosses it."

The Fenayrou Case

There is an account of this case in Bataille "Causes Criminelles
et Mondaines" (1882), and in Mace's book, "Femmes
Criminelles." It is alluded to in "Souvenirs d'un President
d'Assises," by Berard des Glajeux.
The murder of the chemist Aubert by Marin Fenayrou and his wife
Gabrielle was perpetrated near Paris in the year 1882. In its
beginning the story is commonplace enough. Fenayrou was the son
of a small chemist in the South of France, and had come to Paris
from the Aveyron Department to follow his father's vocation. He
obtained a situation as apprentice in the Rue de la Ferme des
Mathurins in the shop of a M. Gibon. On the death of M. Gibon
his widow thought she saw in Fenayrou a man capable of carrying
on her late husband's business. She gave her daughter in
marriage to her apprentice, and installed him in the shop. The
ungrateful son-in-law, sure of his wife and his business and
contrary to his express promise, turned the old lady out of the
house. This occurred in the year 1870, Fenayrou being then
thirty years of age, his wife, Gabrielle, seventeen.

They were an ill-assorted and unattractive couple. The man, a
compound of coarse brutality and shrewd cunning, was at heart
lazy and selfish, the woman a spoilt child, in whom a real want
of feeling was supplied by a shallow sentimentalism. Vain of the
superior refinement conferred on her by a good middle-class
education, she despised and soon came to loathe her coarse
husband, and lapsed into a condition of disappointment and
discontent that was only relieved superficially by an
extravagant devotion to religious exercises.

It was in 1875, when the disillusionment of Mme. Fenayrou was
complete, that her husband received into his shop a pupil, a
youth of twenty-one, Louis Aubert. He was the son of a Norman
tradesman. The ambitious father had wished his son to enter the
church, but the son preferred to be a chemist. He was a shrewd,
hard-working fellow, with an eye to the main chance and a taste
for pleasures that cost him nothing, jovial, but vulgar and self-
satisfied, the kind of man who, having enjoyed the favours of
woman, treats her with arrogance and contempt, till from loving
she comes to loathe him--a characteristic example, according to
M. Bourget, of le faux homme a femmes. Such was Aubert,
Fenayrou's pupil. He was soon to become something more than

Fenayrou as chemist had not answered to the expectations of his
mother-in-law. His innate laziness and love of coarse pleasures
had asserted themselves. At first his wife had shared in the
enjoyments, but as time went on and after the birth of their two
children, things became less prosperous. She was left at home
while Fenayrou spent his time in drinking bocks of beer, betting
and attending race-meetings. It was necessary, under these
circumstances, that someone should attend to the business of the
shop. In Aubert Fenayrou found a ready and willing assistant.

From 1876 to 1880, save for an occasional absence for military
service, Aubert lived with the Fenayrous, managing the business
and making love to the bored and neglected wife, who after a few
months became his mistress. Did Fenayrou know of this intrigue
or not? That is a crucial question in the case. If he did not,
it was not for want of warning from certain of his friends
and neighbours, to whom the intrigue was a matter of common
knowledge. Did he refuse to believe in his wife's guilt? or,
dependent as he was for his living on the exertions of his
assistant, did he deliberately ignore it, relying on his wife's
attractions to keep the assiduous Aubert at work in the shop? In
any case Aubert's arrogance, which had increased with the
consciousness of his importance to the husband and his conquest
of the wife, led in August of 1880, to a rupture. Aubert left
the Fenayrous and bought a business of his own on the Boulevard

Before his departure Aubert had tried to persuade Mme. Gibon to
sell up her son-in-law by claiming from him the unpaid purchase-
money for her husband's shop. He represented Fenayrou as an idle
gambler, and hinted that he would find her a new purchaser. Such
an underhand proceeding was likely to provoke resentment if it
should come to the ears of Fenayrou. During the two years that
elapsed between his departure from Fenayrou's house and his
murder, Aubert had prospered in his shop on the Boulevard
Malesherbes, whilst the fortunes of the Fenayrous had steadily

At the end of the year 1881 Fenayrou sold his shop and went with
his family to live on one of the outer boulevards, that of
Gouvion-Saint-Cyr. He had obtained a post in a shady mining
company, in which he had persuaded his mother-in-law to invest
20,000 francs. He had attempted also to make money by selling
fradulent imitations of a famous table-water. For this offence,
at the beginning of 1882, he was condemned by the Correctional
Tribunal of Paris to three months' imprisonment and 1,000 francs

In March of 1882 the situation of the Fenayrous was parlous, that
of Aubert still prosperous.

Since Aubert's departure Mme. Fenayrou had entertained
another lover, a gentleman on the staff of a sporting newspaper,
one of Fenayrou's turf acquaintances. This gentleman had found
her a cold mistress, preferring the ideal to the real. As a
murderess Madame Fenayrou overcame this weakness.

If we are to believe Fenayrou's story, the most critical day in
his life was March 22, 1882, for it was on that day, according to
his account, that he learnt for the first time of his wife's
intrigue with Aubert. Horrified and enraged at the discovery, he
took from her her nuptial wreath, her wedding-ring, her
jewellery, removed from its frame her picture in charcoal which
hung in the drawing-room, and told her, paralysed with terror,
that the only means of saving her life was to help him to murder
her lover.

Two months later, with her assistance, this outraged husband
accomplished his purpose with diabolical deliberation. He must
have been well aware that, had he acted on the natural impulse of
the moment and revenged himself then and there on Aubert, he
would have committed what is regarded by a French jury as the
most venial of crimes, and would have escaped with little or no
punishment. He preferred, for reasons of his own, to set about
the commission of a deliberate and cold-blooded murder that bears
the stamp of a more sinister motive than the vengeance of a
wronged husband.

The only step he took after the alleged confession of his wife on
March 22 was to go to a commissary of police and ask him to
recover from Aubert certain letters of his wife's that were in
his possession. This the commissary refused to do. Mme. Gibon,
the mother-in-law, was sent to Aubert to try to recover the
letters, but Aubert declined to give them up, and wrote to Mme.

"Madame, to my displeasure I have had a visit this morning from
your mother, who has come to my home and made a most unnecessary
scene and reproached me with facts so serious that I must beg you
to see me without delay. It concerns your honour and
mine. . . . I have no fear of being confronted with your husband
and yourself. I am ready, when you wish, to justify
myself. . . . Please do all you can to prevent a repetition of
your mother's visit or I shall have to call in the police."

It is clear that the Fenayrous attached the utmost importance to
the recovery of this correspondence, which disappeared with
Aubert's death. Was the prime motive of the murder the recovery
and destruction of these letters? Was Aubert possessed of some
knowledge concerning the Fenayrous that placed them at his mercy?

It would seem so. To a friend who had warned him of the danger
to which his intimacy with Gabrielle Fenayrou exposed him, Aubert
had replied, "Bah! I've nothing to fear. I hold them in my
power." The nature of the hold which Aubert boasted that he
possessed over these two persons remains the unsolved mystery of
the case, "that limit of investigation," in the words of a French
judge, "one finds in most great cases, beyond which justice
strays into the unknown."

That such a hold existed, Aubert's own statement and the
desperate attempts made by the Fenayrous to get back these
letters, would seem to prove beyond question. Had Aubert
consented to return them, would he have saved his life? It seems
probable. As it was, he was doomed. Fenayrou hated him. They
had had a row on a race-course, in the course of which Aubert had
humiliated his former master. More than this, Aubert had boasted
openly of his relations with Mme. Fenayrou, and the fact had
reached the ears of the husband. Fenayrou believed also, though
erroneously, that Aubert had informed against him in the matter
of the table-water fraud. Whether his knowledge of Aubert's
relations with his wife was recent or of long standing, he had
other grounds of hate against his former pupil. He himself had
failed in life, but he saw his rival prosperous, arrogant in his
prosperity, threatening, dangerous to his peace of mind; he
envied and feared as well as hated him. Cruel, cunning and
sinister, Fenayrou spent the next two months in the meditation of
a revenge that was not only to remove the man he feared, but was
to give him a truly fiendish opportunity of satisfying his
ferocious hatred.

And the wife what of her share in the business? Had she also
come to hate Aubert? Or did she seek to expiate her guilt by
assisting her husband in the punishment of her seducer? A
witness at the trial described Mme. Fenayrou as "a soft paste"
that could be moulded equally well to vice or virtue, a woman
destitute of real feeling or strength of will, who, under the
direction of her husband, carried out implicitly, precisely and
carefully her part in an atrocious murder, whose only effort to
prevent the commission of such a deed was to slip away into a
church a few minutes before she was to meet the man she was
decoying to his death, and pray that his murder might be averted.

Her religious sense, like the images in the hat of Louis XI., was
a source of comfort and consolation in the doing of evil, but
powerless to restrain her from the act itself, in the presence of
a will stronger than her own. At the time of his death Aubert
contemplated marriage, and had advertised for a wife. If Mme.
Fenayrou was aware of this, it may have served to stimulate her
resentment against her lover, but there seems little reason to
doubt that, left to herself, she would never have had the will or
the energy to give that resentment practical expression. It
required the dictation of the vindictive and malevolent Fenayrou
to crystallise her hatred of Aubert into a deliberate
participation in his murder.

Eight or nine miles north-west of Paris lies the small town of
Chatou, a pleasant country resort for tired Parisians. Here
Madeleine Brohan, the famous actress, had inhabited a small
villa, a two-storied building. At the beginning of 1882 it was
to let. In the April of that year a person of the name of "Hess"
agreed to take it at a quarterly rent of 1,200 francs, and paid
300 in advance. "Hess" was no other than Fenayrou--the villa
that had belonged to Madeleine Brohan the scene chosen for
Aubert's murder. Fenayrou was determined to spare no expense in
the execution of his design: it was to cost him some 3,000 francs
before he had finished with it.

As to the actual manner of his betrayer's death, the outraged
husband found it difficult to make up his mind. It was not to be
prompt, nor was unnecessary suffering to be avoided. At first he
favoured a pair of "infernal" opera-glasses that concealed a
couple of steel points which, by means of a spring, would dart
out into the eyes of anyone using them and destroy their sight.
This rather elaborate and uncertain machine was abandoned later
in favour of a trap for catching wolves. This was to be placed
under the table, and seize in its huge iron teeth the legs of the
victim. In the end simplicity, in the shape of a hammer and
sword-stick, won the day. An assistant was taken in the person
of Lucien Fenayrou, a brother of Marin.

This humble and obliging individual, a maker of children's toys,
regarded his brother the chemist with something like veneration
as the gentleman and man of education of the family. Fifty
francs must have seemed to him an almost superfluous inducement
to assist in the execution of what appeared to be an act of
legitimate vengeance, an affair of family honour in which the
wife and brother of the injured husband were in duty bound to
participate. Mme. Fenayrou, with characteristic superstition,
chose the day of her boy's first communion to broach the subject
of the murder to Lucien. By what was perhaps more than
coincidence, Ascension Day, May 18, was selected as the day for
the crime itself. There were practical reasons also. It was a
Thursday and a public holiday. On Thursdays the Fenayrou
children spent the day with their grandmother, and at holiday
time there was a special midnight train from Chatou to Paris that
would enable the murderers to return to town after the commission
of their crime. A goat chaise and twenty-six feet of gas piping
had been purchased by Fenayrou and taken down to the villa.

Nothing remained but to secure the presence of the victim. At
the direction of her husband Mme. Fenayrou wrote to Aubert on May
14, a letter in which she protested her undying love for him, and
expressed a desire to resume their previous relations. Aubert
demurred at first, but, as she became more pressing, yielded at
length to her suggestion. If it cost him nothing, Aubert was the
last man to decline an invitation of the kind. A trip to Chatou
was arranged for Ascension Day, May 18, by the train leaving
Paris from the St. Lazare Station, at half-past eight in the

On the afternoon of that day Fenayrou, his wife and his brother
sent the children to their grandmother and left Paris for Chatou
at three o'clock. Arrived there, they went to the villa,
Fenayrou carrying the twenty-six feet of gas-piping wound round
him like some huge hunting-horn. He spent the afternoon in
beating out the piping till it was flat, and in making a gag. He
tried to take up the flooring in the kitchen, but this plan for
the concealment of the body was abandoned in favour of the
river. As soon as these preparations, in which he was assisted
by his two relatives, had been completed, Fenayrou placed a
candle, some matches and the sword-stick on the drawing-room
table and returned to Paris.

The three conspirators dined together heartily in the Avenue de
Clichy--soup, fish, entree, sweet and cheese, washed down by a
bottle of claret and a pint of burgundy, coffee to follow, with a
glass of chartreuse for Madame. To the waiter the party seemed
in the best of spirits. Dinner ended, the two men returned to
Chatou by the 7.35 train, leaving Gabrielle to follow an hour
later with Aubert. Fenayrou had taken three second-class return
tickets for his wife, his brother and himself, and a single for
their visitor. It was during the interval between the departure
of her husband and her meeting with Aubert that Mme. Fenayrou
went into the church of St. Louis d'Antin and prayed.

At half-past eight she met Aubert at the St. Lazare Station, gave
him his ticket and the two set out for Chatou--a strange journey
Mme. Fenayrou was asked what they talked about in the railway
carriage. "Mere nothings," she replied. Aubert abused her
mother; for her own part, she was very agitated--tres
emotionnee. It was about half-past nine when they reached
their destination. The sight of the little villa pleased Aubert.

"Ah!" he said, "this is good. I should like a house like this
and twenty thousand francs a year!" As he entered the hall,
surprised at the darkness, he exclaimed: "The devil! it's
precious dark! `tu sais, Gabrielle, que je ne suis pas un
heros d'aventure.'" The woman pushed him into the drawing-
room. He struck a match on his trousers. Fenayrou, who had been
lurking in the darkness in his shirt sleeves, made a blow at him
with the hammer, but it was ineffectual. A struggle ensued. The
room was plunged in darkness. Gabrielle waited outside.
After a little, her husband called for a light; she came in and
lit a candle on the mantelpiece. Fenayrou was getting the worst
of the encounter. She ran to his help, and dragged off his
opponent. Fenayrou was free. He struck again with the hammer.
Aubert fell, and for some ten minutes Fenayrou stood over the
battered and bleeding man abusing and insulting him, exulting in
his vengeance. Then he stabbed him twice with the sword-stick,
and so ended the business.

The murderers had to wait till past eleven to get rid of the
body, as the streets were full of holiday-makers. When all was
quiet they put it into the goat chaise, wrapped round with the
gas-piping, and wheeled it on to the Chatou bridge. To prevent
noise they let the body down by a rope into the water. It was
heavier than they thought, and fell with a loud splash into the
river. "Hullo!" exclaimed a night-fisherman, who was mending his
tackle not far from the bridge, "there go those butchers again,
chucking their filth into the Seine!"

As soon as they had taken the chaise back to the villa, the three
assassins hurried to the station to catch the last train.
Arriving there a little before their time, they went into a
neighbouring cafe. Fenayrou had three bocks, Lucien one, and
Madame another glass of chartreuse. So home to Paris. Lucien
reached his house about two in the morning. "Well," asked his
wife, "did you have a good day?" "Splendid," was the reply.

Eleven days passed. Fenayrou paid a visit to the villa to clean
it and put it in order. Otherwise he went about his business as
usual, attending race meetings, indulging in a picnic and a visit
to the Salon. On May 27 a man named Bailly, who, by a strange
coincidence, was known by the nickname of "the Chemist," walking
by the river, had his attention called by a bargeman to a corpse
that was floating on the water. He fished it out. It was
that of Aubert. In spite of a gag tired over his mouth the water
had got into the body, and, notwithstanding the weight of the
lead piping, it had risen to the surface.

As soon as the police had been informed of the disappearance of
Aubert, their suspicions had fallen on the Fenayrous in
consequence of the request which Marin Fenayrou had made to the
commissary of police to aid him in the recovery from Aubert of
his wife's letters. But there had been nothing further in their
conduct to provoke suspicion. When, however, the body was dis-

covered and at the same time an anonymous letter received
denouncing the Fenayrous as the murderers of Aubert, the police
decided on their arrest. On the morning of June 8 M. Mace,
then head of the Detective Department, called at their house. He
found Fenayrou in a dressing-gown. This righteous avenger of his
wife's seduction denied his guilt, like any common criminal, but
M. Mace handed him over to one of his men, to be taken
immediately to Versailles. He himself took charge of Madame,
and, in the first-class carriage full of people, in which they
travelled together to Versailles, she whispered to the detective
a full confession of the crime.

Mace has left us an account of this singular railway journey.
It was two o'clock in the afternoon. In the carriage were five
ladies and a young man who was reading La Vie Parisienne. Mme.
Fenayrou was silent and thoughtful. "You're thinking of your
present position?" asked the detective. "No, I'm thinking of my
mother and my dear children." "They don't seem to care much
about their father," remarked Mace. "Perhaps not." "Why?"
asked M. Mace. "Because of his violent temper," was the
reply. After some further conversation and the departure at
Courbevoie of the young man with La Vie Parisienne, Mme.
Fenayrou asked abruptly: "Do you think my husband guilty?"
"I'm sure of it." "So does Aubert's sister." "Certainly," an-

swered M. Mace; "she looks on the crime as one of revenge."
"But my brother-in-law," urged the woman, "could have had no
motive for vengeance against Aubert." Mace answered coldly
that he would have to explain how he had employed his time on
Ascension Day. "You see criminals everywhere," answered Madame.

After the train had left St. Cloud, where the other occupants of
the carriage had alighted, the detective and his prisoner were
alone, free of interruption till Versailles should be reached.
Hitherto they had spoken in whispers; now Mace seized the
opportunity to urge the woman to unbosom herself to him, to
reveal her part in the crime. She burst into tears. There was
an interval of silence; then she thanked Mace for the kindness
and consideration he had shown her. "You wish me," she asked,
"to betray my husband?" "Without any design or intention on your
part," discreetly answered the detective; "but by the sole force
of circumstances you are placed in such a position that you
cannot help betraying him."

Whether convinced or not of this tyranny of circumstance, Mme.
Fenayrou obeyed her mentor, and calmly, coldly, without regret or
remorse, told him the story of the assassination. Towards the
end of her narration she softened a little. "I know I am a
criminal," she exclaimed. "Since this morning I have done
nothing but lie. I am sick of it; it makes me suffer too much.
Don't tell my husband until this evening that I have confessed;
there's no need, for, after what I have told you, you can easily
expose his falsehoods and so get at the truth."

That evening the three prisoners--Lucien had been arrested at the
same time as the other two--were brought to Chatou. Identified
by the gardener as the lessee of the villa, Fenayrou
abandoned his protestations of innocence and admitted his guilt.
The crime was then and there reconstituted in the presence of the
examining magistrate. With the help of a gendarme, who imper-

sonated Aubert, Fenayrou repeated the incidents of the murder.
The goat-chaise was wheeled to the bridge, and there in the
presence of an indignant crowd, the murderer showed how the body
had been lowered into the river.

After a magisterial investigation lasting two months, which
failed to shed any new light on the more mysterious elements in
the case, Fenayrou, his wife and brother were indicted on August
19 before the Assize Court for the Seine-et-Oise Department,
sitting at Versailles.

The attitude of the three culprits was hardly such as to provoke
the sympathies of even a French jury. Fenayrou seemed to be
giving a clumsy and unconvincing performance of the role of
the wronged husband; his heavy figure clothed in an ill-fitting
suit of "blue dittos," his ill-kempt red beard and bock-stained
moustache did not help him in his impersonation. Mme. Fenayrou,
pale, colourless, insignificant, was cold and impenetrable. She
described the murder of her lover "as if she were giving her cook
a household recipe for making apricot Jam." Lucien was humble
and lachrymose.

In his interrogatory of the husband the President, M. Berard
des Glajeux, showed himself frankly sceptical as to the
ingenuousness of Fenayrou's motives in assassinating Aubert.
"Now, what was the motive of this horrible crime?" he asked.
"Revenge," answered Fenayrou.

President: But consider the care you took to hide the body and
destroy all trace of your guilt; that is not the way in which a
husband sets out to avenge his honour; these are the methods
of the assassin! With your wife's help you could have caught
Aubert in flagrante delicto and killed him on the spot, and the
law would have absolved you. Instead of which you decoy him into
a hideous snare. Public opinion suggests that jealousy of your
former assistant's success, and mortification at your own
failure, were the real motives. Or was it not perhaps that you
had been in the habit of rendering somewhat dubious services to
some of your promiscuous clients?

Fenayrou: Nothing of the kind, I swear it!

President: Do not protest too much. Remember that among your
acquaintances you were suspected of cheating at cards. As a
chemist you had been convinced of fraud. Perhaps Aubert knew
something against you. Some act of poisoning, or abortion, in
which you had been concerned? Many witnesses have believed this.

Your mother-in-law is said to have remarked, "My son-in-law will
end in jail."

Fenayrou (bursting into tears): This is too dreadful.

President: And Dr. Durand, an old friend of Aubert, remembers
the deceased saying to him, "One has nothing to fear from people
one holds in one's hands."

Fenayrou: I don't know what he meant.

President: Or, considering the cruelty, cowardice, the cold
calculation displayed in the commission of the crime, shall we
say this was a woman's not a man's revenge. You have said your
wife acted as your slave--was it not the other way about?

Fenayrou: No; it was my revenge, mine alone.

The view that regarded Mme. Fenayrou as a soft, malleable paste
was not the view of the President.

"Why," he asked the woman, "did you commit this horrible murder,
decoy your lover to his death?" "Because I had repented," was
the answer; "I had wronged my husband, and since he had been
condemned for fraud, I loved him the more for being unfortunate.
And then I feared for my children."

President: Is that really the case?

Mme. Fenayrou: Certainly it is.

President: Then your whole existence has been one of lies and
hypocrisy. Whilst you were deceiving your husband and teaching
your children to despise him you were covering him with caresses.

You have played false to both husband and lover--to Aubert in
decoying him to his death, to your husband by denouncing him
directly you were arrested. You have betrayed everybody. The
only person you have not betrayed is yourself. What sort of a
woman are you? As you and Aubert went into the drawing-room on
the evening of the murder you said loudly, "This is the way," so
that your husband, hearing your voice outside, should not strike
you by mistake in the darkness. If Lucien had not told us that
you attacked Aubert whilst he was struggling with your husband,
we should never have known it, for you would never have admitted
it, and your husband has all along refused to implicate
you. . . . You have said that you had ceased to care for your
lover: he had ceased to care for you. He was prosperous, happy,
about to marry: you hated him, and you showed your hate when,
during the murder, you flung yourself upon him and cried,
"Wretch!" Is that the behaviour of a woman who represents
herself to have been the timid slave of her husband? No. This
crime is the revenge of a cowardly and pitiless woman, who writes
down in her account book the expenses of the trip to Chatou and,
after the murder, picnics merrily in the green fields. It was
you who steeled your husband to the task.

How far the President was justified in thus inverting the parts
played by the husband and wife in the crime must be a matter
of opinion. In his volume of Souvenirs M. Berard des
Glajeux modifies considerably the view which he perhaps felt it
his duty to express in his interrogatory of Gabrielle Fenayrou.
He describes her as soft and flexible by nature, the repentant
slave of her husband, seeking to atone for her wrong to him by
helping him in his revenge. The one feature in the character of
Mme. Fenayrou that seems most clearly demonstrated is its
absolute insensibility under any circumstances whatsoever.

The submissive Lucien had little to say for himself, nor could
any motive for joining in the murder beyond a readiness to oblige
his brother be suggested. In his Souvenirs M. Berard des
Glajeux states that to-day it would seem to be clearly
established that Lucien acted blindly at the bidding of his
sister-in-law, "qu'il avait beaucoup aimee et qui n'avait pas
ete cruelle a son egard."

The evidence recapitulated for the most part the facts already
set out. The description of Mme. Fenayrou by the gentleman on
the sporting newspaper who had succeeded Aubert in her affections
is, under the circumstances, interesting: "She was sad,
melancholy; I questioned her, and she told me she was married to
a coarse man who neglected her, failed to understand her, and had
never loved her. I became her lover but, except on a few
occasions, our relations were those of good friends. She was a
woman with few material wants, affectionate, expansive, an
idealist, one who had suffered much and sought from without a
happiness her marriage had never brought her. I believe her to
have been the blind tool of her husband."

From motives of delicacy the evidence of this gentleman was read
in his presence; he was not examined orally. His eulogy of his
mistress is loyal. Against it may be set the words of the
Procureur de la Republique, M. Delegorgue: "Never has a more
thorough-paced, a more hideous monster been seated in the dock of
an assize court. This woman is the personification of falsehood,
depravity, cowardice and treachery. She is worthy of the supreme
penalty." The jury were not of this opinion. They preferred to
regard Mme. Fenayrou as playing a secondary part to that of her
husband. They accorded in both her case and that of Lucien ex-

tenuating circumstances. The woman was sentenced to penal
servitude for life, Lucien to seven years. Fenayrou, for whose
conduct the jury could find no extenuation, was condemned to

It is the custom in certain assize towns for the President, after
pronouncing sentence, to visit a prisoner who had been ordered
for execution. M. Berard des Glajeux describes his visit to
Fenayrou at Versailles. He was already in prison dress, sobbing.

His iron nature, which during five days had never flinched, had
broken down; but it was not for himself he wept, but for his
wife, his children, his brother; of his own fate he took no
account. At the same moment his wife was in the lodge of the
courthouse waiting for the cab that was to take her to her
prison. Freed from the anxieties of the trial, knowing her life
to be spared, without so much as a thought for the husband whom
she had never loved, she had tidied herself up, and now, with all
the ease of a woman, whose misfortunes have not destroyed her
self-possession, was doing the honours of the jail. It was she
who received her judge.

But Fenayrou was not to die. The Court of Cassation, to which he
had made the usual appeal after condemnation, decided that the
proceedings at Versailles had been vitiated by the fact that the
evidence of Gabrielle Fenayrou's second lover had not been taken
ORALLY, within the requirements of the criminal code;
consequently a new trial was ordered before the Paris Assize
Court. This second trial, which commenced on October 12, saved
Fenayrou's head. The Parisian jury showed themselves more
lenient than their colleagues at Versailles. Not only was
Fenayrou accorded extenuating circumstances, but Lucien was
acquitted altogether. The only person to whom these new
proceedings brought no benefit was Mme. Fenayrou, whose sentence
remained unaltered.

Marin Fenayrou was sent to New Caledonia to serve his punishment.

There he was allowed to open a dispensary, but, proving
dishonest, he lost his license and became a ferryman--a very
Charon for terrestrial passengers. He died in New Caledonia of
cancer of the liver.

Gabrielle Fenayrou made an exemplary prisoner, so exemplary that,
owing to her good conduct and a certain ascendancy she exercised
over her fellow-prisoners, she was made forewoman of one of the
workshops. Whilst holding this position she had the honour of
receiving, among those entrusted to her charge, another
Gabrielle, murderess, Gabrielle Bompard, the history of whose
crime is next to be related.

Eyraud and Bompard

There are accounts of this case in Bataille "Causes Criminelles
et Mondaines," 1890, and in Volume X. of Fouquier "Causes
Celebres." "L'Affaire Gouffe" by Dr. Lacassagne, Lyons,
1891, and Goron "L'Amour Criminel" may be consulted.

ON July 27, in the year 1889, the Parisian police were informed
of the disappearance of one Gouffe, a bailiff. He had been
last seen by two friends on the Boulevard Montmartre at about ten
minutes past seven on the evening of the 26th, a Friday. Since
then nothing had been heard of him, either at his office in the
Rue Montmartre, or at his private house in the Rue Rougemont.
This was surprising in the case of a man of regular habits even
in his irregularities, robust health, and cheerful spirits.

Gouffe was a widower, forty-two years of age. He had three
daughters who lived happily with him in the Rue Rougemont. He
did a good trade as bailiff and process-server, and at times had
considerable sums of money in his possession. These he would
never leave behind him at his office, but carry home at the end
of the day's work, except on Fridays. Friday nights Gouffe
always spent away from home. As the society he sought on these
nights was of a promiscuous character, he was in the habit of
leaving at his office any large sum of money that had come into
his hands during the day.

About nine o'clock on this particular Friday night, July 26, the
hall-porter at Gouffe's office in the Rue Montmartre heard
someone, whom he had taken at first to be the bailiff himself,
enter the hall and go upstairs to the office, where he
remained a few minutes. As he descended the stairs the porter
came out of his lodge and, seeing it was a stranger, accosted
him. But the man hurried away without giving the porter time to
see his face.

When the office was examined the next day everything was found in
perfect order, and a sum of 14,000 francs, hidden away behind
some papers, untouched. The safe had not been tampered with;
there was, in short, nothing unusual about the room except ten
long matches that were lying half burnt on the floor.

On hearing of the bailiff's disappearance and the mysterious
visitor to his office, the police, who were convinced that
Gouffe had been the victim of some criminal design, inquired
closely into his habits, his friends, his associates, men and
women. But the one man who could have breathed the name that
would have set the police on the track of the real culprits was,
for reasons of his own, silent. The police examined many
persons, but without arriving at any useful result.

However, on August 15, in a thicket at the foot of a slope
running down from the road that passes through the district of
Millery, about ten miles from Lyons, a roadmender, attracted by a
peculiar smell, discovered the remains of what appeared to be a
human body. They were wrapped in a cloth, but so decomposed as
to make identification almost impossible. M. Goron, at that time
head of the Parisian detective police, believed them to be the
remains of Gouffe, but a relative of the missing man, whom he
sent to Lyons, failed to identify them. Two days after the
discovery of the corpse, there were found near Millery the broken
fragments of a trunk, the lock of which fitted a key that had
been picked up near the body. A label on the trunk showed that
it had been dispatched from Paris to Lyons on July 27, 188--, but
the final figure of the date was obliterated. Reference to
the books of the railway company showed that on July 27, 1889,
the day following the disappearance of Gouffe, a trunk similar
in size and weight to that found near Millery had been sent from
Paris to Lyons.

The judicial authorities at Lyons scouted the idea that either
the corpse or the trunk found at Millery had any connection with
the disappearance of Gouffe. When M. Goron, bent on following
up what he believed to be important clues, went himself to Lyons
he found that the remains, after being photographed, had been
interred in the common burying-ground. The young doctor who had
made the autopsy produced triumphantly some hair taken from the
head of the corpse and showed M. Goron that whilst Gouffe's
hair was admittedly auburn and cut short, this was black, and had
evidently been worn long. M. Goron, after looking carefully at
the hair, asked for some distilled water. He put the lock of
hair into it and, after a few minutes' immersion, cleansed of the
blood, grease and dust that had caked them together, the hairs
appeared clearly to be short and auburn. The doctor admitted his

Fortified by this success, Goron was able to procure the
exhumation of the body. A fresh autopsy was performed by Dr.
Lacassagne, the eminent medical jurist of the Lyons School of
Medicine. He was able to pronounce with certainty that the
remains were those of the bailiff, Gouffe. An injury to the
right ankle, a weakness of the right leg, the absence of a
particular tooth and other admitted peculiarities in Gouffe's
physical conformation, were present in the corpse, placing its
identity beyond question. This second post-mortem revealed
furthermore an injury to the thyroid cartilage of the larynx that
had been inflicted beyond any doubt whatever, declared Dr.
Lacassagne, before death.

There was little reason to doubt that Gouffe had been the
victim of murder by strangulation.

But by whom had the crime been committed? It was now the end of
November. Four months had passed since the bailiff's murder, and
the police had no clue to its perpetrators. At one time a friend
of Gouffe's had been suspected and placed under arrest, but he
was released for want of evidence.

One day toward the close of November, in the course of a
conversation with M. Goron, a witness who had known Gouffe
surprised him by saying abruptly, "There's another man who
disappeared about the same time as Gouffe." M. Goron pricked
up his ears. The witness explained that he had not mentioned the
fact before, as he had not connected it with his friend's
disappearance; the man's name, he said, was Eyraud, Michel
Eyraud, M. Goron made some inquires as to this Michel Eyraud. He
learnt that he was a married man, forty-six years of age, once a
distiller at Sevres, recently commission-agent to a bankrupt
firm, that he had left France suddenly, about the time of the
disappearance of Gouffe, and that he had a mistress, one
Gabrielle Bompard, who had disappeared with him. Instinctively
M. Goron connected this fugitive couple with the fate of the
murdered bailiff.

Confirmation of his suspicions was to come from London. The
remains of the trunk found at Millery had been skilfully put
together and exposed at the Morgue in Paris, whilst the Gouffe
family had offered a reward of 500 francs to anybody who could in
any way identify the trunk. Beyond producing a large crop of
anonymous letters, in one of which the crime was attributed to
General Boulanger, then in Jersey, these measures seemed likely
to prove fruitless. But one day in December, from the keeper of
a boarding-house in Gower Street, M. Goron received a letter
informing him that the writer believed that Eyraud and
Gabrielle Bompard had stayed recently at his house, and that on
July 14 the woman, whom he knew only as "Gabrielle," had left for
France, crossing by Newhaven and Dieppe, and taking with her a
large and almost empty trunk, which she had purchased in London.
Inquires made by the French detectives established the
correctness of this correspondent's information. An assistant at
a trunk shop in the Euston Road was able to identify the trunk--
brought over from Paris for the purpose--as one purchased in his
shop on July 12 by a Frenchman answering to the description of
Michel Eyraud. The wife of the boarding-house keeper recollected
having expressed to Gabrielle her surprise that she should buy
such an enormous piece of luggage when she had only one dress to
put into it. "Oh that's all right," answered Gabrielle
smilingly, "we shall have plenty to fill it with in Paris!"
Gabrielle had gone to Paris with the trunk on July 14, come back
to London on the 17th, and on the 20th she and Eyraud returned
together to Paris From these facts it seemed more than probable
that these two were the assassins so eagerly sought for by the
police, and it seemed clear also that the murder had been done in
Paris. But what had become of this couple, in what street, in
what house in Paris had the crime been committed? These were
questions the police were powerless to answer.

The year 1889 came to an end, the murderers were still at large.
But on January 21, 1890, M. Goron found lying on his table a
large letter bearing the New York postmark. He opened it, and to
his astonishment read at the end the signature "Michel Eyraud."
It was a curious letter, but undoubtedly genuine. In it Eyraud
protested against the suspicions directed against himself; they
were, he wrote, merely unfortunate coincidences. Gouffe had
been his friend; he had had no share whatever in his death;
his only misfortune had been his association with "that serpent,
Gabrielle Bompard." He had certainly bought a large trunk for
her, but she told him that she had sold it. They had gone to
America together, he to avoid financial difficulties in which he
had been involved by the dishonesty of the Jews. There Gabrielle
had deserted him for another man. He concluded a very long
letter by declaring his belief in Gabrielle's innocence--"the
great trouble with her is that she is such a liar and also has a
dozen lovers after her." He promised that, as soon as he learnt
that Gabrielle had returned to Paris, he would, of his own free
will, place himself in the hands of M. Goron.

He was to have an early opportunity of redeeming his pledge, for
on the day following the receipt of his letter a short, well-made
woman, dressed neatly in black, with dyed hair, greyish-blue
eyes, good teeth, a disproportionately large head and a lively
and intelligent expression of face, presented herself at the
Prefecture of Police and asked for an interview with the Prefect.

Requested to give her name, she replied, with a smile, "Gabrielle
Bompard." She was accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman, who
appeared to be devoted to her. Gabrielle Bompard and her friend
were taken to the private room of M. Loze, the Prefect of
Police. There, in a half-amused way, without the least concern,
sitting at times on the edge of the Prefect's writing-table,
Gabrielle Bompard told how she had been the unwilling accomplice
of her lover, Eyraud, in the murder of the bailiff, Gouffe.
The crime, she stated, had been committed in No. 3 in the Rue
Tronson-Ducoudray, but she had not been present; she knew nothing
of it but what had been told her by Eyraud. After the murder she
had accompanied him to America; there they had met the middle-
aged gentleman, her companion. Eyraud had proposed that
they should murder and rob him, but she had divulged the plot to
the gentleman and asked him to take her away. It was acting on
his advice that she had returned to France, determined to give
her evidence to the judicial authorities in Paris. The middle-
aged gentleman declared himself ready to vouch for the truth of a
great part of this interesting narrative. There they both
imagined apparently that the affair would be ended. They were
extremely surprised when the Prefect, after listening to their
statements, sent for a detective-inspector who showed Gabrielle
Bompard a warrant for her arrest. After an affecting parting, at
least on the part of the middle-aged gentleman, Gabrielle Bompard
was taken to prison. There she soon recovered her spirits, which
had at no time been very gravely depressed by her critical situ-


According to Eyraud's letters, if anyone knew anything about
Gouffe's murder, it was Gabrielle Bompard; according to the
woman's statement, it was Eyraud, and Eyraud alone, who had
committed it. As they were both liars--the woman perhaps the
greater liar of the two--their statements are not to be taken as
other than forlorn attempts to shift the blame on to each other's

Before extracting from their various avowals, which grew more
complete as time went on, the story of the crime, let us follow
Eyraud in his flight from justice, which terminated in the May of
1890 by his arrest in Havana.

Immediately after the arrest of Gabrielle, two French detectives
set out for America to trace and run down if possible her
deserted lover. For more than a month they traversed Canada and
the United States in search of their prey. The track of the
fugitive was marked from New York to San Francisco by acts of
thieving and swindling. At the former city he had made the
acquaintance of a wealthy Turk, from whom, under the pretence of
wishing to be photographed in it, he had borrowed a magnificent
oriental robe. The photograph was taken, but Eyraud forgot to
return the costly robe.

At another time he was lodging in the same house as a young
American actor, called in the French accounts of the incident
"Sir Stout." To "Sir Stout" Eyraud would appear to have given a
most convincing performance of the betrayed husband; his wife, he
said, had deserted him for another man; he raved and stormed au-

dibly in his bedroom, deploring his fate and vowing vengeance.
These noisy representations so impressed "Sir Stout" that, on the
outraged husband declaring himself to be a Mexican for the moment
without funds, the benevolent comedian lent him eighty dollars,
which, it is almost needless to add, he never saw again. In
narrating this incident to the French detectives, "Sir Stout"
describes Eyraud's performance as great, surpassing even those of

Similar stories of theft and debauchery met the detectives at
every turn, but, helped in a great measure by the publicity the
American newspapers gave to the movements of his pursuers, Eyraud
was able to elude them, and in March they returned to France to
concert further plans for his capture.

Eyraud had gone to Mexico. From there he had written a letter to
M. Rochefort's newspaper, L'Intransigeant, in which he declared
Gouffe to have been murdered by Gabrielle and an unknown.
But, when official inquiries were made in Mexico as to his
whereabouts, the bird had flown.

At Havana, in Cuba, there lived a French dressmaker and clothes-
merchant named Puchen. In the month of February a stranger,
ragged and unkempt, but evidently a fellow-countryman,
visited her shop and offered to sell her a superb Turkish
costume. The contrast between the wretchedness of the vendor and
the magnificence of his wares struck Madame Puchen at the time.
But her surprise was converted into suspicion when she read in
the American newspapers a description of the Turkish garment
stolen by Michel Eyraud, the reputed assassin of the bailiff
Gouffe. It was one morning in the middle of May that Mme.
Puchen read the description of the robe that had been offered her
in February by her strange visitor. To her astonishment, about
two o'clock the same afternoon, she saw the stranger standing
before her door. She beckoned to him, and asked him if he still
had his Turkish robe with him; he seemed confused, and said that
he had sold it. The conversation drifted on to ordinary topics;
the stranger described some of his recent adventures in Mexico.
"Oh!" exclaimed the dressmaker, "they say Eyraud, the murderer,
is in Mexico! Did you come across him? Were you in Paris at the
time of the murder?" The stranger answered in the negative, but
his face betrayed his uneasiness. "Do you know you're rather
like him?" said the woman, in a half-joking way. The stranger
laughed, and shortly after went out, saying he would return. He
did return on May 15, bringing with him a number of the
Republique Illustree that contained an almost
unrecognisable portrait of Eyraud. He said he had picked it up
in a cafe. "What a blackguard he looks!" he exclaimed as he
threw the paper on the table. But the dressmaker's suspicions
were not allayed by the stranger's uncomplimentary reference to
the murderer. As soon as he had gone, she went to the French
Consul and told him her story.

By one of those singular coincidences that are inadmissable in
fiction or drama, but occur at times in real life, there happened
to be in Havana, of all places, a man who had been employed
by Eyraud at the time that he had owned a distillery at
Sevres. The Consul, on hearing the statement of Mme. Puchen,
sent for this man and told him that a person believed to be
Eyraud was in Havana. As the man left the Consulate, whom should
he meet in the street but Eyraud himself! The fugitive had been
watching the movements of Mme. Puchen; he had suspected, after
the interview, that the woman would denounce him to the
authorities. He now saw that disguise was useless. He greeted
his ex-employe, took him into a cafe, there admitted his
identity and begged him not to betray him. It was midnight when
they left the cafe. Eyraud, repenting of his confidence, and no
doubt anxious to rid himself of a dangerous witness, took his
friend into an ill-lighted and deserted street; but the friend,
conscious of his delicate situation, hailed a passing cab and
made off as quickly as he could.

Next day, the 20th, the search for Eyraud was set about in
earnest. The Spanish authorities, informed of his presence in
Havana, directed the police to spare no effort to lay hands on
him. The Hotel Roma, at which he had been staying, was visited;
but Eyraud, scenting danger, had gone to an hotel opposite the
railway station. His things were packed ready for flight on the
following morning. How was he to pass the night? True to his
instincts, a house of ill-fame, at which he had been entertained
already, seemed the safest and most pleasant refuge; but, when,
seedy and shabby, he presented himself at the door, he was sent
back into the street. It was past one in the morning. The
lonely murderer wandered aimlessly in the streets, restless,
nervous, a prey to apprehension, not knowing where to go. Again
the man from Sevres met him. "It's all up with me!" said
Eyraud, and disappeared in the darkness. At two in the morning a
police officer, who had been patrolling the town in search
of the criminal, saw, in the distance, a man walking to and fro,
seemingly uncertain which way to turn. Hearing footsteps the man
turned round and walked resolutely past the policeman, saying
good-night in Spanish. "Who are you? What's your address?" the
officer asked abruptly. "Gorski, Hotel Roma!" was the answer.
This was enough for the officer. Eyraud was know{sic} to have
passed as "Gorski," the Hotel Roma had already been searched as
one of his hiding-places. To seize and handcuff "Gorski" was the
work of a moment. An examination of the luggage left by the so-
called Gorski at his last hotel and a determined attempt at
suicide made by their prisoner during the night proved
conclusively that to the Spanish police was the credit of having
laid by the heels, ten months after the commission of the crime,
Michel Eyraud, one of the assassins of the bailiff Gouffe.

On June 16 Eyraud was delivered over to the French police. He
reached France on the 20th, and on July 1 made his first
appearance before the examining magistrate.

It will be well at this point in the narrative to describe how
Eyraud and Gabrielle Bompard came to be associated together in
crime. Gabrielle Bompard was twenty-two years of age at the time
of her arrest, the fourth child of a merchant of Lille, a strong,
hardworking, respectable man. Her mother, a delicate woman, had
died of lung disease when Gabrielle was thirteen. Even as a
child lying and vicious, thinking only of men and clothes,
Gabrielle, after being expelled as incorrigible from four
educational establishments, stayed at a fifth for some three
years. There she astonished those in authority over her by her
precocious propensity for vice, her treacherous and lying
disposition, and a lewdness of tongue rare in one of her age
and comparative inexperience. At eighteen she returned to
her father's house, only to quit it for a lover whom, she
alleged, had hypnotised and then seduced her. Gabrielle was
singularly susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. Her father
implored the family doctor to endeavour to persuade her, while in
the hypnotic state, to reform her deplorable conduct. The doctor
did his best but with no success. He declared Gabrielle to be a
neuropath, who had not found in her home such influences as would
have tended to overcome her vicious instincts. Perhaps the
doctor was inclined to sympathise rather too readily with his
patient, if we are to accept the report of those distinguished
medical gentlemen who, at a later date, examined carefully into
the mental and physical characteristics of Gabrielle Bompard.

This girl of twenty had developed into a supreme instance of the
"unmoral" woman, the conscienceless egoist, morally colour-blind,
vain, lewd, the intelligence quick and alert but having no
influence whatever on conduct. One instance will suffice to show
the sinister levity, the utter absence of all moral sense in this
strange creature.

After the murder of Gouffe, Gabrielle spent the night alone
with the trunk containing the bailiff's corpse. Asked by M.
Goron what were her sensations during this ghastly vigil,
she replied with a smile, "You'd never guess what a funny
idea come into my head! You see it was not very pleasant
for me being thus tete-a-tete with a corpse, I couldn't sleep.
So I thought what fun it would be to go into the street and pick up
some respectable gentleman from the provinces. I'd bring him up to
the room, and just as he was beginning to enjoy himself say,
`Would you like to see a bailiff?' open the trunk suddenly and,
before he could recover from his horror, run out into the street
and fetch the police. Just think what a fool the respectable
gentleman would have looked when the officers came!"

Such callousness is almost unsurpassed in the annals of criminal
insensibility. Nero fiddling over burning Rome, Thurtell fresh
from the murder of Weare, inviting Hunt, the singer and his
accomplice, to "tip them a stave" after supper, Edwards, the
Camberwell murderer, reading with gusto to friends the report of
a fashionable divorce case, post from the murder of a young
married couple and their baby--even examples such as these pale
before the levity of the "little demon," as the French detectives
christened Gabrielle.

Such was Gabrielle Bompard when, on July 26, exactly one year to
a day before the murder of Gouffe, she met in Paris Michel
Eyraud. These two were made for each other. If Gabrielle were
unmoral, Eyraud was immoral. Forty-six at the time of
Gouffe's murder, he was sufficiently practised in vice to
appreciate and enjoy the flagrantly vicious propensities of the
young Gabrielle. All his life Eyraud had spent his substance in
debauchery. His passions were violent and at times
uncontrollable, but unlike many remarkable men of a similar
temperament, this strong animalism was not in his case
accompanied by a capacity for vigorous intellectual exertion or a
great power of work. "Understand this," said Eyraud to one of
the detectives who brought him back to France, "I have never done
any work, and I never will do any work." To him work was
derogatory; better anything than that. Unfortunately it could
not be avoided altogether, but with Eyraud such work as he was
compelled at different times to endure was only a means for
procuring money for his degraded pleasures, and when honest work
became too troublesome, dishonesty served in its stead. When he
met Gabrielle he was almost at the end of his tether, bankrupt
and discredited. At a pinch he might squeeze a little money
out of his wife, with whom he continued to live in spite of his
open infidelities.

Save for such help as he could get from her small dowry, he was
without resources. A deserter from the army during the Mexican
war in 1869, he had since then engaged in various commercial
enterprises, all of which had failed, chiefly through his own
extravagance, violence and dishonesty. Gabrielle was quick to
empty his pockets of what little remained in them. The proceeds
of her own immorality, which Eyraud was quite ready to share,
soon proved insufficient to replenish them. Confronted with
ruin, Eyraud and Gompard hit on a plan by which the woman should
decoy some would-be admirer to a convenient trysting-place.
There, dead or alive, the victim was to be made the means of
supplying their wants.

On further reflection dead seemed more expedient than alive,
extortion from a living victim too risky an enterprise. Their
plans were carefully prepared. Gabrielle was to hire a ground-
floor apartment, so that any noise, such as footsteps or the fall
of a body, would not be heard by persons living underneath.

At the beginning of July, 1889, Eyraud and Bompard were in
London. There they bought at a West End draper's a red and white
silk girdle, and at a shop in Gower Street a large travelling
trunk. They bought, also in London, about thirteen feet of
cording, a pulley and, on returning to Paris on July 20, some
twenty feet of packing-cloth, which Gabrielle, sitting at her
window on the fine summer evenings, sewed up into a large bag.

The necessary ground-floor apartment had been found at No. 3 Rue
Tronson-Ducoudray. Here Gabrielle installed herself on July 24.
The bedroom was convenient for the assassins' purpose, the bed
standing in an alcove separated by curtains from the rest of the
room. To the beam forming the crosspiece at the entrance
into the alcove Eyraud fixed a pulley. Through the pulley ran a
rope, having at one end of it a swivel, so that a man, hiding
behind the curtains could, by pulling the rope strongly, haul up
anything that might be attached to the swivel at the other end.
It was with the help of this simple piece of mechanism and a good
long pull from Eyraud that the impecunious couple hoped to refill
their pockets.

The victim was chosen on the 25th. Eyraud had already known of
Gouffe's existence, but on that day, Thursday, in a
conversation with a common friend, Eyraud learnt that the bailiff
Gouffe was rich, that he was in the habit of having
considerable sums of money in his care, and that on Friday nights
Gouffe made it his habit to sleep from home. There was no
time to lose. The next day Gabrielle accosted Gouffe as he
was going to his dejeuner and, after some little conversation
agreed to meet him at eight o'clock that evening.

The afternoon was spent in preparing for the bailiff's reception
in the Rue Tronson-Ducoudray. A lounge-chair was so arranged
that it stood with its back to the alcove, within which the
pulley and rope had been fixed by Eyraud. Gouffe was to sit
on the chair, Gabrielle on his knee. Gabrielle was then
playfully to slip round his neck, in the form of a noose, the
cord of her dressing gown and, unseen by him, attach one end of
it to the swivel of the rope held by Eyraud. Her accomplice had
only to give a strong pull and the bailiff's course was run.[17]

[17] One writer on the case has suggested that the story of the
murder by rope and pulley was invented by Eyraud and Bompard to
mitigate the full extent of their guilt, and that the bailiff was
strangled while in bed with the woman. But the purchase of the
necessary materials in London would seem to imply a more
practical motive for the use of rope and pulley.

At six o'clock Eyraud and Bompard dined together, after
which Eyraud returned to the apartment, whilst Bompard went to
meet Gouffe near the Madeline Church. What occurred
afterwards at No. 3 Rue Tronson-Ducoudray is best described in
the statement made by Eyraud at his trial.

"At a quarter past eight there was a ring at the bell. I hid
myself behind the curtain. Gouffe came in. `You've a nice
little nest here,' he said. `Yes, a fancy of mine,' replied
Gabrielle, `Eyraud knows nothing about it.' `Oh, you're tired of
him,' asked Gouffe. `Yes,' she replied, `that's all over.'
Gabrielle drew Gouffe down on to the chair. She showed him
the cord of her dressing-gown and said that a wealthy admirer had
given it to her. `Very elegant,' said Gouffe, `but I didn't
come here to see that.'

"She then sat on his knee and, as if in play, slipped the cord
round his neck; then putting her hand behind him, she fixed the
end of the cord into the swivel, and said to him laughingly,
`What a nice necktie it makes!' That was the signal. Eyraud
pulled the cord vigorously and, in two minutes, Gouffe had
ceased to live."

Eyraud took from the dead man his watch and ring, 150 francs and
his keys. With these he hurried to Gouffe's office and made a
fevered search for money. It was fruitless. In his trembling
haste the murderer missed a sum of 14,000 francs that was lying
behind some papers, and returned, baffled and despairing, to his
mistress and the corpse. The crime had been a ghastly failure.
Fortified by brandy and champagne, and with the help of the
woman, Eyraud stripped the body, put it into the bag that had
been sewn by Gabrielle, and pushed the bag into the trunk.
Leaving his mistress to spend the night with their hateful
luggage, Eyraud returned home and, in his own words, "worn out by
the excitement of the day, slept heavily."

The next day Eyraud, after saying good-bye to his wife and
daughter, left with Gabrielle for Lyons. On the 28th they got
rid at Millery of the body of Gouffe and the trunk in which it
had travelled; his boots and clothes they threw into the sea at
Marseilles. There Eyraud borrowed 500 francs from his brother.
Gabrielle raised 2,000 francs in Paris, where they spent August
18 and 19, after which they left for England, and from England
sailed for America. During their short stay in Paris Eyraud had
the audacity to call at the apartment in the Rue Tronson-
Ducoudray for his hat, which he had left behind; in the hurry of
the crime he had taken away Gouffe's by mistake.

Eyraud had been brought back to Paris from Cuba at the end of
June, 1890. Soon after his return, in the room in which
Gouffe had been done to death and in the presence of the
examining magistrate, M. Goron, and some fifteen other persons,
Eyraud was confronted with his accomplice. Each denied
vehemently, with hatred and passion, the other's story. Neither
denied the murder, but each tried to represent the other as the
more guilty of the two. Eyraud said that the suggestion and plan
of the crime had come from Gabrielle; that she had placed around
Gouffe's neck the cord that throttled him. Gabrielle
attributed the inception of the murder to Eyraud, and said that
he had strangled the bailiff with his own hands.

Eyraud, since his return, had seemed indifferent to his own fate;
whatever it might be, he wished that his mistress should share
it. He had no objection to going to the guillotine as long as he
was sure that Gabrielle would accompany him. She sought to
escape such a consummation by representing herself as a mere
instrument in Eyraud's hands. It was even urged in her defence
that, in committing the crime, she had acted under the
influence of hypnotic suggestion on the part of her accomplice.
Three doctors appointed by the examining magistrate to report on
her mental state came unanimously to the conclusion that, though
undoubtedly susceptible to hypnotic suggestion, there was no
ground for thinking that she had been acting under such influence
when she participated in the murder of Gouffe. Intellectually
the medical gentlemen found her alert and sane enough, but
morally blind.

The trial of Eyraud and Bompard took place before the Paris
Assize Court on December 16, 1890. It had been delayed owing to
the proceedings of an enterprising journalist. The names of the
jurymen who were to be called on to serve at the assize had been
published. The journalist conceived the brilliant idea of
interviewing some of these gentlemen.

He succeeded in seeing four of them, but in his article which
appeared in the Matin newspaper said that he had seen twenty-
one. Nine of them, he stated, had declared themselves in favour
of Gabrielle Bompard, but in some of these he had discerned a
certain "eroticism of the pupil of the eye" to which he
attributed their leniency. A month's imprisonment was the reward
of these flights of journalistic imagination.

A further scandal in connection with the trial was caused by the
lavish distribution of tickets of admission to all sorts and
kinds of persons by the presiding judge, M. Robert, whose
occasional levities in the course of the proceedings are
melancholy reading. As a result of his indulgence a circular was
issued shortly after the trial by M. Fallieres, then Minister
of Justice, limiting the powers of presidents of assize in
admitting visitors into the reserved part of the court.

The proceedings at the trial added little to the known facts
of the case. Both Eyraud and Bompard continued to endeavour to
shift the blame on to each other's shoulders. A curious feature
of the trial was the appearance for the defence of a M.
Liegeois, a professor of law at Nancy. To the dismay of the
Court, he took advantage of a clause in the Code of Criminal
Instruction which permits a witness to give his evidence without
interruption, to deliver an address lasting four hours on
hypnotic suggestion. He undertook to prove that, not only
Gabrielle Bompard, but Troppmann, Madame Weiss, and Gabrielle
Fenayrou also, had committed murder under the influence of
suggestion.[18] In replying to this rather fantastic defence,
the Procureur-General, M. Quesnay de Beaurepaire, quoted a
statement of Dr. Brouardel, the eminent medical jurist who had
been called for the prosecution, that "there exists no instance
of a crime, or attempted crime committed under the influence of
hypnotic suggestion." As to the influence of Eyraud over
Bompard, M. de Beaurepaire said: "The one outstanding fact that
has been eternally true for six thousand years is that the
stronger will can possess the weaker: that is no peculiar part of
the history of hypnotism; it belongs to the history of the world.

Dr. Liegeois himself, in coming to this court to-day, has
fallen a victim to the suggestion of the young advocate who has
persuaded him to come here to air his theories." The Court
wisely declined to allow an attempt to be made to hypnotise the
woman Bompard in the presence of her judges, and M. Henri
Robert, her advocate, in his appeal to the jury, threw over
altogether any idea of hypnotic suggestion, resting his plea on
the moral weakness and irresponsibility of his client.

[18] Moll in his "Hypnotism" (London, 1909) states that, after
Gabrielle Bompard's release M. Liegeois succeeded in putting
her into a hypnotic state, in which she re-acted the scene in
which the crime was originally suggested to her. The value of
such experiments with a woman as mischievous and untruthful as
Gabrielle Bompard must be very doubtful. No trustworthy instance
seems to be recorded in which a crime has been committed under,
or brought about by, hypnotic or post-hypnotic suggestion,
though, according to Moll, "the possibility of such a crime
cannot be unconditionally denied."

In sheer wickedness there seems little enough to choose between
Eyraud and Bompard. But, in asking a verdict without extenuating
circumstances against the woman, the Procureur-General was
by no means insistent. He could not, he said, ask for less, his
duty would not permit it: "But I am ready to confess that my
feelings as a man suffer by the duty imposed on me as a
magistrate. On one occasion, at the outset of my career, it fell
to my lot to ask from a jury the head of a woman. I felt then
the same kind of distress of mind I feel to-day. The jury
rejected my demand; they accorded extenuating circumstances;
though defeated, I left the court a happier man. What are you
going to do to-day, gentlemen? It rests with you. What I cannot
ask of you, you have the right to accord. But when the supreme
moment comes to return your verdict, remember that you have sworn
to judge firmly and fearlessly." The jury accorded extenuating
circumstances to the woman, but refused them to the man. After a
trial lasting four days Eyraud was sentenced to death, Bompard to
twenty years penal servitude.

At first Eyraud appeared to accept his fate with resignation. He
wrote to his daughter that he was tired of life, and that his
death was the best thing that could happen for her mother and
herself. But, as time went on and the efforts of his advocate to
obtain a commutation of his sentence held out some hope of
reprieve, Eyraud became more reluctant to quit the world.

"There are grounds for a successful appeal," he wrote, "I am
pretty certain that my sentence will be commuted. . . . You ask
me what I do? Nothing much. I can't write; the pens are so
bad. I read part of the time, smoke pipes, and sleep a great
deal. Sometimes I play cards, and talk a little. I have a room
as large as yours at Sevres. I walk up and down it, thinking
of you all."

But his hopes were to be disappointed. The Court of Cassation
rejected his appeal. A petition was addressed to President
Carnot, but, with a firmness that has not characterised some of
his successors in office, he refused to commute the sentence.

On the morning of February 3, 1891, Eyraud noticed that the
warders, who usually went off duty at six o'clock, remained at
their posts. An hour later the Governor of the Roquette prison
entered his cell, and informed him that the time had come for the
execution of the sentence. Eyraud received the intelligence
quietly. The only excitement he betrayed was a sudden outburst
of violent animosity against M. Constans, then Minister of the
Interior. Eyraud had been a Boulangist, and so may have
nourished some resentment against the Minister who, by his
adroitness, had helped to bring about the General's ruin.
Whatever his precise motive, he suddenly exclaimed that M.
Constans was his murderer: "It's he who is having me
guillotined; he's got what he wanted; I suppose now he'll
decorate Gabrielle!" He died with the name of the hated Minister
on his lips.

{not ocr'd}


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