Tales from the Morgue: Surviving Bluebeard, Part 3

2014-07-23T10:00:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Surviving Bluebeard, Part 3Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 23, 2014 10:00 am  • 

Lucien, who was really Henri Landru, had left Fernande's home in a rage. Yet, he had arranged the meeting between Fernande and her former fiance, now returned from the war. Knowing what we know now — and what Fernande did not know then — one must conclude Lucien's behavior was calculated to encourage Fernande to pledge herself to him.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Thursday, Jan. 5, 1922:

 

The "Girl He Didn't Kill" Gives

            Herself to Landru, the Bluebeard

_____

Mlle. Segret Reveals Machinations of Her Murderous Lover

_____

This is the third chapter of Fernande Segret's own story, written for the Arizona Daily Star of her life with Henri Landru, the Bluebeard of Gambais, whom she knew under the pseudonym of Lucien Guillet. She is the one "he did not kill."

* * *

By FERNANDE SEGRET

Chapter III.

The last interview with my first fiance had left me without illusions. I send him away and was sure that Lucien would be with me again almost immediately, despite the rage he had exhibited at his departure. But hours passed and still he did not come.

Abandoned by both? As this thought took ever clearer form in my tortured brain it was suddenly crowded out by a newer premonition, a dread. I felt—I cannot tell why— that Lucien would kill himself, if he had not already done so. No longer did I hesitate. I was determined, disregarding all considerations that ought to have restrained me, to go at once to his home.

I remembered a quarrel we had in September when my nerves had been so affected by the suspicions of my mother. I had told him of my fears and begged him to do something, say something that would brush them away. He had been evasive.

"I myself, cannot understand," he said, "why my papers do not arrive."

Furious, I had lost control of myself and told him all that was in my heart. I had used words that were deliberately meant to cause pain; insulted him; tried everything in a vain effort to draw from him one word that would give me hope.

He had listened coldly, saying nothing, his facial expression immobile until my nerves gave way and I burst out sobbing.

Then he had come calmly to me, taken my hands in his, spoken more as a father than as a lover at first then protested again his love and fidelity and swore again that I should be his wife. Only—only I must be patient a little longer.

All this had been before that fatal day of the armistice. And now I was to go to his house to learn—I knew not what.

It was 6 o'clock in the evening.

The door of Lucien's apartments was open, and yet I saw no light within. I called out and there was no response. Terror struggled against my resolve, but I went in and hurried from room to room. A bit of paper on the table revealed two lines from Faust. The hand was that of Lucien, yet strangely altered, perhaps by its trembling. These were the lines:

"Vains echos de la joie humaine
"Passez...passez votre chemin."

("Vain echoes of human happiness
"Go...go your way.")

With heavy feet and a heavier heart I went into his chamber and here a strange scene met me. The floor was strewn with withered roses. My portrait, draped in black, was hanging in its accustomed place and before it was placed a chair in the manner of a Prie-Dieu, as if he had knelt there as before an idol or a sacred image.

Even while I was bitterly reproaching myself, holding that I was to blame for the tragedy which I felt sure had occurred, I heard the opening of a door.

It was Lucien. He threw himself at my feet, his head buried in my lap and my hands were wet with his tears. He had not spoken but our hearts were united as never before. I reproached him gently for the folly he had contemplated. Why should we both suffer so?

"You are right, beloved," he said at last. "Adoring each other as we do why should we be troubled about unimportant things? What to us are the mere formalities to which ordinary mortals are subservient? Are we not above such stupid things? Does not out love surpass all laws and formulae?"

He begged me to assure him that I attached no importance to the misunderstandings that had separated us and made us suffer. He wanted me to prove that I was free from the prejudices that inhabit love and spoil beauty. We should live each for the other, he said, in spite of all difficulties.

"Let us not lose one moment of the happiness that is possible for us," he implored. "Ah, chere petite aimee, you are mine, you belong to me! Nobody—do you hear?—nobody shall take you from my arms."

Never had I known Lucien to be like this. Never had I founds him in such a state of exultation. Again and again, and wildly, he kissed me, and his arms tightened about me as if he defied all the powers of the world to take me from him.

"Ah, you shall learn, dear one," he said in a shaken voice, "you shall learn what it is to be loved, and you shall see that I know how to make you happy."

Happiness? For me? How bitterly I reproached myself now for the words of cruelty I had once spoken to him! Now I felt that there was nothing—nothing I could not face to recompense him.

He was telling me while his arms trembled about me, that he felt himself capable of the greatest of achievements, provided they should be fore me—for me alone. And his voice changed as he said very gravely, that if I ever left him again it would certainly cause his death; that it would be my hand signing the warrant.

How could I; how could any woman doubt the sincerity of such an avowal? My strength was gone. He had spoken the truth when he said that I belonged to him. Completely conquered, my soul no longer my own, I closed my eyes and told him very softly that from this moment my heart was beating for him alone; that it would never change.

It meant that I was to make my home henceforth in the little apartment of Lucien in the Rue Rochechouart. There were some things that must be done. I must go first to my home—I must see my mother. Then I would return.

One more passionate embrace and I left Lucien there and went out into the street. Slowly I walked away wondering how I should tell my mother. I had not yet chosen the words when I arrived and she saw at once the change that had come over me.

Then the words came unbidden. I told her exactly what had happened, concealing nothing. She pleaded with me, argued, wept, used every artifice to destroy the idol that I had enshrined in my soul.

Her efforts were in vain, and worse than in vain, for the more she attacked the character of the man I loved, the more passionately I defended him. The natural feeling between mother and daughter was poisoned with misunderstanding. There were words that burned and at last I tore myself away.

Darkness was in the streets as I returned, hurrying under the lights and through the shadows of Paris, conscience numbed or dead, until I came to his door.

End of Chapter III.

Well! If "Lucien" should have been an actor on the stage, Fernande should have written romance novels. She has the prose of such books down perfectly.

She has also taught us that perhaps one should listen to one's mother.

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About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com