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 pupil.

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 Malesherbes.

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 deteriorated.

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 costs.

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. Fenayrou:

“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 evening.

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 discovered 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,” answered 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 impersonated 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 extenuating 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 death.

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.


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