Tales from the Morgue: Surviving Bluebeard, Part 4

2014-07-24T10:00:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Surviving Bluebeard, Part 4Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 24, 2014 10:00 am  • 

Fernande Segret and Henri Landru, using the pseudonym Lucien Guillet, began living together as a married couple, though they were not married.

Lucien solved the problem of his secrecy by telling Fernande that he did secret work, presumably for the government.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Friday, Jan. 6, 1922:

 

Her Home of Happiness, a Home of

      Mystery, Says Bluebeard's Last

           "Companion" Whom He Did Not Kill

_____

Mlle. Segret Recounts How the Fake Lucien Was Soul of Kindness

_____

By FERNANDE SEGRET

CHAPTER IV.

I wonder whether other women have been as happy as I now became with Lucien at the little apartment on the Rue Rochechouart—Landru, but I did not yet know that he was Landru, had done everything that a man could do to prevent me from regretting for even a moment what I had done.

He seemed to anticipate my very slightest wish and to suffer at every shadow that crossed my soul. His life appeared to be devoted to my whims.

When his duties—I did not know exactly what they were—left him free we took long rides in his automobile. Sometimes we were accompanied by a young man whom Lucien called his apprentice and it was not till long after that I learned that this was his son. He was a timid, quiet youth who addressed me respectfully—when he spoke to me at all—as "Madame."

In our evenings at home Landru read to me from his favorite authors—Balzac, De Musset, Flaubert, Sully-Prudhomme, Lamartine, Andre, Chenier and Victor Hugo.

We went often to the theater, choosing those where the greatest lovers of either sex were represented. Life itself was a drama, he told me and those who knew it and how to see it. And he had the instinct of the dramatist himself, for he was always arranging theatrical effects in out home. Our suppers after the theater were like bits of the play and even the lights were arranged by him to make the scene perfect.

We had long psychological discussions too, in which he sometimes analyzed the temptations that beset a woman in Paris especially. To understand her fall, he said it was necessary to understand the nature of her first lover. And he said that women here have too little protection.

* * *

If there had been anything lacking to make my happiness without shadow it was a reconciliation with my mother and at last even that was achieved. She forgave me.

Landru meanwhile had grown even more tender and solicitous and sometimes he even arranged so that he could do part of his work at home while I busied myself about the rooms, gaily attending to my little household duties, pausing now and then for a moment to interrupt him at his desk.

Later his hours became more irregular. He would come home long after midnight and scold me gently because I had waited for him, but these occasions he explained vaguely by reminding me that he was engaged in secret service, having to so with the war and the aftermath. This service also explained the fact that he had not worn the uniform of the army.

On New Year's day after coming to me with his greetings, he announced that he must go immediately to see his colleagues. I reflected that these secret occupations of Lucien were a sufficient explanation for all the mysteries that once had troubled me.

But, more mysteries were to come.

It was on the 18th of January, 1919, that I left him for a day and a night in order to attend a marriage. When I came back he was gone, but there was a note for me. It said that he had been suddenly ordered to go out of the city on an urgent case and that he would return late that night.

He did return, pale, apparently very tired, his shoes and clothing covered with mud. It was shortly before midnight.

I have since learned that the date of his absence coincides with that of one of the crimes they say he committed at Gambais!

He said it had been a strenuous day, but he had accomplished that mission for which he was sent, and had, not without a great effort, managed to catch a late train bringing him back to me. In fact he had gone without his dinner in order not to miss the train, and he added gallantly, that the thought of seeing me had been stimulant enough to take the place of food.

While he was eagerly devouring the cold meat that I placed before him I sought to extract from him some of the details of the enterprise in which he had been engaged. But he smiled mysteriously and spoke of his "oath."

It was sometime after this that he suddenly announced that he had had a stroke of luck. He had found a chance, he said, to get some furniture at a great bargain. The idea was to sell the furnishings of our apartment and make profit by buying the others. The cost, he said was only 3,000 francs and the things were worth a great deal more.

I had no liking for the notion of changing things for furniture picked up at second hand but in spite of my protests Lucien and the pretended apprentice had the furniture taken away and the substitute put in its place. But I was so habituated by this time to the strange things that I had no new suspicion.

Then one morning there came a letter addressed to Lucien and I was about to break the seal when Lucien snatched it from me. I was indignant. But he quickly perused the letter, then handed it to me, smiling, for there was nothing in it that could interest me.

Other letters came later, addressed in the handwriting of a woman but Lucien explained that he was in "commercial" relations with her, and I could not gainsay him, even though one message, couched in business like terms though it was, proposed a rendezvous. Finally he told me that the woman was like himself a member of the secret police. I was forced to accept the explanation, little as it pleased me.

Twice when I was alone a woman came in person—and there was no way for me to know whether she was the writer of the letters. She wanted to speak to Monsieur Guillet, and only to him.

I must have convinced her by my manner that her visits to my home were not welcome, for she appeared no more at my door, but I learned from the concierge that she had not ceased to visit the vicinity and that she had actually held one or two long conversations with Lucien on the stairs.

Early in the spring Lucien's lightness of spirit seemed to desert him. I did not know what was on his mind, but on the fourth of the month he said he had bought some things which were to be taken to Gambais. I was to go with him and his "apprentice" was to drive.

We dined enroute and reached Gambais in the afternoon. The villa long unoccupied,  was damp and musty. On the following morning, Lucien awakened me early, announcing that we must hurry to be in Paris by noon.

Without taking the time even to make the beds we closed the house and departed. That was my last visit to Gambais.

(Continued Tomorrow)

Lucien's talk of the temptations of women in Paris and their lack of protection seems to be a rationalization of his actions. He said a similar thing when he first met Fernande. He offered to walk her to her destination because it wasn't safe for a woman to walk alone in Paris. Little did she know that he was the very person from whom she needed protection.

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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

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