Memoirs of Vidocq, Volume II/Chapter XXIII
A plan of escape—New proposal to M. Henry—My agreement with the police—Important discoveries—Coco Lacour—A band of robbers—The inspectors under lock and key—The old clothes woman and the assassins—A pretended escape.
I began to grow wearied of escapes and the sort of liberty they procured for me: I did not wish to return to the Bagne; but I preferred a residence at Toulon to that in Paris, if I were compelled to submit to such creatures as Chevalier, Blondy, Deluc and St Germain. I was in this mood in the midst of a considerable number of these supporters of the galleys, whom I had had but too many opportunities of knowing, when several of them proposed that I should help them in trying for a run through the court of the Bons Pauvres. At any other time the project would have made me smile. I did not decline it; but I studied it like a man who considered localities, and so as to preserve for myself that preponderance which my real successes procured for me, and those which were attributed to me—I might say those which I attributed to myself; for as soon as we live amongst rogues, there is always an advantage in passing for the most wicked and the most clever; and such was my well-established reputation, wherever there were four prisoners, at least three had heard of me;—not at all an extraordinary thing, for there were galley-slaves who assumed my name. I was the general to whom all the deeds of his soldiers is attributed; they did not use the places I had taken by assault, but there was no jailor whose vigilance I could not escape, no irons that I could not break through, no wall that I could not penetrate. I was no less famed for courage and skill, and it was the general opinion that I was capable of any deed of renown in case of need. At Brest, at Toulon, at Rochefort, at Anvers, in fact everywhere, I was considered amongst robbers as the most cunning and most bold. The most villanous sought my friendship, because they thought there was still something to be learnt from me, and the greatest novices collected my very words as instructions from which they could gather profit. At Bicêtre, I had a complete court, and they pressed around me, surrounded me, and made tenders, of services and kind offers, and expressed regards of which it would be difficult to form an idea. But now, this prison glory was hateful to me: the more I read the soul of malefactors, the more they laid themselves open to me, the more I pitied society for having nourished in its bosom such offspring. I no longer felt that sentiment of the community of misfortune which had formerly inspired my breast; cruel experience and a riper age had convinced me of the necessity of withdrawing myself from these brigands, whose society I loathed, and whose language was an abomination to me. Decided, at any event, to take part against them for the interest of honest men, I wrote to M. Henry to offer my services afresh, without any other condition than that of not being taken back to the Bagne, resigning myself to finish the duration of my sentence in any prison that might be selected.
My letter pointed out so fully the information I could supply, that M. Henry was struck with it: one only consideration balanced with him; it was the example of many accused or condemned persons, who having engaged to guide the police in its searches, had only given but trifling information, or had even finished themselves by being detected in criminal deeds. To this powerful argument, I opposed the cause of my condemnation, the regularity of my conduct after my escapes, the constancy of my endeavours to procure an honorable existence, and finally I produced my correspondence, my books, my punctuality and credit, and I called for the testimony of all persons with whom I had transacted business, and particularly of my creditors, who had all the greatest confidence in me.
Amongst other papers which I produced was the following, which I here transcribe, because it relates to the reasons of my condemnation, at the same time that it proves the steps taken in my favour by the attorney-general Ranson, during my detention at Douai.
"Douai, le 20 Janvier 1809.
"The Attorney-General Imperial at the court of criminal justice of the department of the North,
"Attests, that the said Vidocq was condemned the 7 Nivose, year 5, to eight years of imprisonment for having forged a pardon.
"That it appears that Vidocq was imprisoned on a charge of insubordination, or other military offence, and that the forgery for which he was sentenced was only intended to aid the escape of a fellow-prisoner.
"The attorney-general attests also, that after the deposition taken by him at the office of the Court, the said Vidocq escaped at the moment they were about to transfer him to the Bagne; that he was retaken and again escaped, and being again retaken, M. Ranson, then attorney-general, had the honor of writing to his excellency the minister of justice to consult him on the question, whether the time elapsed from the condemnation of Vidocq to his re-apprehension might count as freeing him from punishment.
"That a first letter being unanswered, M. Ranson wrote several; and Vidocq interpreting the silence of his excellency as unfavourable, again effected an escape.
"The attorney-general cannot give any of these letters, because the registers and papers of M. Ranson, his predecessor, were removed by his family, who have refused to return them to the archives of the court.
These facts and documents militated strongly in my favour. M. Henry submitted my proposal to the prefect of the police, M. Pasquier, who decided on granting it. After a residence of two months at Bicêtre, I was removed to the Force; and, to avoid suspicion, it was stated amongst the prisoners, that I was kept back in consequence of being implicated in a very bad affair, which was to be enquired into. This precaution, joined to my renown, put me entirely in good odour. Not a prisoner dared breathe a doubt of the gravity of the charge against me. Since I had shown so much boldness and perseverance to escape from a sentence of eight years in irons, I must of necessity have a conscience charged with some great crime, capable, if I should be discovered as the author, of sending me to the scaffold. It was then whispered, and at last stated openly at the Force, in speaking of me, "He is a cut-throat!" And as, in the place where I was confined, an assassin inspires great confidence, I took care not to refute an error so useful to my plans. I was then far from seeing that an imposture, which I allowed freely to he charged upon me, would be thence perpetuated; and that one day, in publishing my Memoirs, it would be necessary to state that I had never committed murder. Since I have been a subject of conversation with the public, how many absurd titles have not been disseminated about me! What lies have not been invented to defame me, by agents interested in representing me as a vile wretch! Sometimes the tale runs, that I had been branded and condemned to perpetual labour at the galleys. Sometimes I was only freed from the guillotine, on condition of giving up to the police a certain number of persons every month; and if one was wanting, the bargain was to be declared void; and that was the reason, they affirm, that for want of real delinquents, I selected them at my pleasure. Did they not go so far as to accuse me of having, at the Café Lamblin, put a silver fork in the pocket of a student? I shall have occasion, at a later period, to revert to some of these calumnies, in several chapters in the following volumes; in which I shall develope the system of police, its means, and mysteries: in fact, all that has been revealed to me,—all that I have known.
The engagement I had entered into was not so easily fulfilled as may be supposed. In fact, I had known a crowd of malefactors; but, incessantly decimated by excesses of all sorts,—by justice, by the horrible discipline of bagnes and prisons, by misery,—this hideous generation had passed away with incredible rapidity: a new race occupied the stage, and I was even ignorant of the names of the actors who composed it; I was not even informed of their exploits. A multitude of robbers were then preying on the capital, and it was impossible to furnish the slightest indication of the principal of them; it was only on my ancient renown that I could rely for obtaining any information of the staff of these Bedouins of our civilization: it availed me, I will not say beyond, but equal to what I could desire. Not a robber arrived at the Force, who did not hasten to seek my company, if he had never seen me, to give himself consequence in the eyes of his comrades; it fed his self-love to appear to be on terms of intimacy with me. I encouraged this singular vanity, and thus insensibly made many discoveries; informations came to me in abundance, and I no longer experienced obstacles in acquitting myself of my undertaking.
To give an idea of the influence I had with the prisoners, it is enough to say, that I inoculated them at will with my opinions, my feelings, my sentiments; they thought by, they swore by me. If they happened to take a prejudice against one of the prisoners, because they thought he was what they called 'a sneak,' I had only to answer for him, and he was at once re-established. I was at once a powerful protector and a pledge of freedom, when it was suspected. The first for whom I gave a guarantee, was a young man, accused of having served the police as a secret agent. They said, that he had been in the pay of the inspector-general, Veyrat; and they added, going to his house with an information, he had carried off a basket of plate.—To rob the inspector's house, was not the crime, but to lay an information! Such, however, was the enormous crime imputed to Coco Lacour, now my successor. Threatened by the whole prison, driven about, repulsed, ill-treated, not daring to set a foot in the courts, where he would certainly have been knocked on the head. Coco came to solicit my protection; and to influence me the more in his favour, he began by making disclosures to me, which I knew how to turn to advantage. At first, I employed my credit in making his peace with the prisoners, who gave up their projects of vengeance. I could not have rendered him a more important service; and Coco, as much from gratitude as a desire of speaking, had soon no secret from me. One day, he had been before the judge of instruction: "Faith," said he, on his return, "I am lucky; none of the plaintiffs recognized me; yet I do not consider myself as safe: there is amongst them a devil of a porter, from whom I stole a silver watch. As I was obliged to talk with him for some time, my features must have been fixed on his memory; and, if he be called, he might do me a mischief, by confronting me; and besides, porters are, from their station, physiognomists." The observation was true; but I made Coco observe, that it was not likely that they would discover this man, and that most probably he would never come of his own accord, since he had not already done so; and, to confirm him in this opinion, I spoke to him of the carelessness or idleness of some people, who do not like to be disturbed. What I said about this, induced Coco to mention the quarter in which the owner of the watch lived, and even told me the number; and this was all I wanted. I took care not to get so complete a detail as might induce a suspicion of me, and that given at the investigation appeared to me sufficient. I mentioned it to M. Henry, who thereupon sent out his spies. The result of the inquiry was as I had foreseen: they found out the porter; and Coco being confronted with him, was overwhelmed by the evidence, and sentenced by the tribunal to two years' imprisonment.
At this period there was in Paris a band of fugitive galley-slaves, who daily perpetrated robberies, without any hope being entertained of putting a termination to their plunderings. Many of them had been apprehended, and acquitted for want of evidence; obstinately entrenched in absence of witnesses, they had long braved the attempts of justice, which could neither oppose to them the testimony of the commission of crime, nor proofs of guilt. To surprise them properly, it would have been necessary to know their domicile; and they were so well concealed, that discovery seemed impossible. Amongst them was one named France (called Tormel), who, on coming to the Force, had nothing more urgent than to ask me for ten francs, to pay his footing, and I was not inclined to refuse his demand. He soon came to join me, and feeling obliged to me, did not hesitate to give me his confidence. At the time of his arrest he had concealed two notes of a thousand francs, from the police, which he gave to me, begging me to advance him money, from time to time, as he needed it. "You do not know me," said he, "but these bills speak for me; I trust them to you, because I know they are better in your hands than in mine; some time or other we will change them, which now would be difficult, and we must wait." I agreed with France, as he wished; I promised to be his banker, as I risked nothing.
Apprehended for violent burglary at an umbrella shop in the passage Feydeau, France had been often, interrogated, and constantly declared that he had no residence. However, the police had learnt that he had an abode; and it was the more interesting to learn it, as it would lead to discovery of instruments of robbery, as well as a great quantity of stolen goods. It was a detection of the highest importance, since it would adduce most material proofs. M. Henry told me that he relied on me for obtaining this information; I manœuvred accordingly, and soon learnt that at the time of his arrest, France was at the corner of the Rue Montmartin and the Rue Notre-Dame des Victoires, in an apartment let by a female receiver of stolen goods, named Josephine Bertrand.
These proofs were positive, but it was difficult to make use of the information without betraying my share in the business to France, who, having only confessed to me, could only suspect me of betraying him. I, however, succeeded; and so little did he suspect that I had abused his confidence, that he told me all his troubles, in proportion as the plan which I had concerted with M. Henry progressed. Besides, the police was so arranged, that they seemed only to be guided by chance, and thus were the arrangements made.
They gained over to their interest one of the lodgers of the house which France had inhabited; and this lodger told the landlord, that, for about three weeks, no movement was seen in the apartment of madame Bertrand; and this awakened and afforded a wide field for conjecture. It was remembered that a person went frequently in and out of this apartment; his absence was talked of, and it was a matter of astonishment that he was not seen: the word disappearance was mentioned, and thence the necessity of the intervention of the commissary; then the opening the door in presence of witnesses; then the discovery of a great number of stolen property belonging to the neighbourhood, and many of the instruments made use of to consummate these robberies. The next enquiry was, what had become of Josephine Bertrand? and all the persons were visited to whom she had referred when she hired the apartments, but nothing could be learnt of this woman; only that a girl, named Lambert, who had succeeded her in the apartment of the Rue Montmartre, had just been apprehended; and as this girl was known as France's mistress it was conjectured that these two had a common residence. France was in consequence conducted to the spot, and recognized by the neighbours. He pretended that he had been taken by surprise, and that they were mistaken, but the jury before whom he was taken decided otherwise, and he was condemned to the gallies for eight years.
France once convicted, it was easy to follow up the traces of his comrades, two of whom were named Fossard and Legagneur. They were watched, but the negligence and want of address in the officers enabled them to escape the pursuit which I directed. The former was a man the more dangerous, as he was very skilful in making false keys. For fifteen months he seemed to defy the police, when one day I learnt that he resided with a hair-dresser in Rue du Temple, facing the common sewer. To apprehend him from home was almost impossible, for he was skilful in disguises, and could detect an officer a hundred paces off; on the other hand, it would be better to seize him in the midst of his professional apparatus, and the produce of his robberies. But the undertaking presented obstacles: Fossard never answered when they knocked at his door, and it was most likely that he had a means of egress and facilities for getting over the roofs. It appeared to me, that the only mode of seizing him was to profit by his absence, and hide in his lodging. M. Henry was of my opinion; and the door being broken open in the presence of a commissary, three agents placed themselves in a closet adjoining a recess. Nearly seventy-two hours elapsed, and nobody arrived; at the end of the third day, the officers having exhausted their provisions, were going away, when they heard a key turn in the lock, and Fossard entered. Immediately two of the officers, in conformity with their instructions, darted from the closet and threw themselves upon him; but Fossard, arming himself with a knife which they had left on the table, frightened them so, that they themselves opened the door which their comrade had closed; and, having turned the key upon them, Fossard quickly descended the staircase, leaving the three agents all the leisure necessary for drawing up a report, in which nothing was wanting except the circumstance of the knife, which they were very cautious in mentioning. We shall see, in the progress of these Memoirs, how, in 1814, I contrived to arrest Fossard; and the particulars of this expedition are not the least interesting of these Memoirs.
Before being sent to the Conciergerie, France, who had never ceased to think me staunch, recommended one of his friends to me, named Legagneur, a fugitive galley-slave, arrested in the Rue de la Mortellerie, at the moment when he was executing a robbery by the aid of false keys; and this man, deprived of all resource in consequence of the departure of his comrade, was thinking of sending for the money which he had deposited with a receiver of stolen goods in the Rue St Dominique, at the Gros-Caillou. Annette, who came constantly to see me at the Force, and sometimes ably abetted me in my pursuits, was charged with the commission; but either from distrust, or a desire to retain it for himself, the receiver received the messenger very ungraciously; and as she insisted, he threatened her with an arrest. Annette returned to tell us that she had failed in her errand. At this information Legagneur would have denounced the receiver, but that was only the first impulse of anger. Growing more calm, he judged it most fitting to defer his vengeance; and, moreover, to make it turn to his profit. "If I denounce him," said he to me, "not only shall I get nothing by it, but he may contrive to appear not at all in fault. It will be best to wait until I get out, and then I will make him squeak." Legagneur, having no farther hope from his receiver, determined to write to two accomplices, Marguerit and Victor Desbois, renowned robbers. Convinced of this old truism, that small presents preserve friendship, in exchange for the aid he asked from them, he sent them the impressions of the locks which he had taken for his own private use. Legagneur again had recourse to the mediation of Annette, who found the two friends at Rue Deux-Ponts, on a wretched ground floor, a place where they never met without taking great previous precaution. It was not their residence. Annette, whom I had desired to do all in her power to learn this, had the sense not to lose sight of them. She followed them for two days, under different disguises; and, on the third, informed me that they slept in the small Rue St Jean, in a house with gardens behind. M. Henry, to whom I communicated this circumstance, arranged all the necessary measures which the nature of the place required; but his officers were not more courageous, nor more skilful, than those from whom Fossard had escaped. The two robbers saved themselves by the gardens, and it was not till some time afterwards that they were apprehended in the Rue St Hyacinthe St Michel.
Legagneur having been in his turn conducted to the Conciergerie, was replaced in my room by the son of a vintner at Versailles, named Robin, who united with the thieves of the capital, told me in our conversations, their arrangements, as well concerning all that had been done, as of their present state and intended plans. He it was who pointed out to me the prisoner Mardargent as a fugitive galley-slave, whilst he was only detained in custody as a deserter; for this latter crime he had been sentenced to twenty-four years labour at the galleys: he had passed some time in the Bagne; and by the help of my notes and recollections, we were soon excellent friends: he fancied (and he was not mistaken) that I should be delighted to meet again my old companions in misfortune; he pointed out several amongst the prisoners, and I was fortunate enough to send back to the galleys a considerable number of those individuals whom justice, for want of the necessary proofs for their conviction, might have let loose upon social life.
Never had any period been marked with more important discoveries than that which ushered in my debût in the service of the police; although scarcely enrolled in this administration, I had already done much for the safety of the capital, and even for the whole of France. Were I to relate half my successes in my new department, my readers' patience would be exhausted, I will simply make mention of an adventure which occurred a few months before I quitted the prison, and which deserves to be rescued from the general oblivion.
One afternoon a tumult arose in the court, which terminated in a violent pugilistic combat; at this hour in the day such there was as much ground for astonishment as if a duel had been fought between Orestes and Pylades. The two champions were Blignon and Charpentier, (called Chante à l'heure), known to live in that disgusting intimacy which has no excuse, even the most rigorous seclusion. A violent quarrel had arisen between them; it was said that jealousy had sprung up to disunite them: however this may be, when the action had ceased, Chante à l'heure, covered with contusions, entered the drinking shop to have his bruises fomented. I was there engaged at my game of piquet. Chante à l'heure, irritated with his defeat, was no longer master of himself; and as the brandy he had called for to wash his hurts, found its way almost unconsciously to his mouth instead, he became proportionably energetic; until at last his mind could no longer contain the angry burst of his feelings. "My good friend," said he to me, ("for you are my very good friend) do you see how this beggar of a Blignon has served me? But he shall not go off scot-free!"
"Oh, never heed him," I replied; "he is stronger than you, and you must mind what you are about. Do you wish to be half killed a second time?"
"Oh, that is not what I mean. If I choose, I can but a stop to his beating me, or any one else again. I know what I know!"
"Well, and what do you know?" cried I, struck by the tone in which he pronounced these last words.
"Yes, yes," answered Chante à l'heure, highly exasperated; "he has done well in driving me to this: I nave only to blab, and his business is settled."
"Nonsense; hold your tongue," said I, affecting not to believe him; "you are both birds of a feather. When you owe any one a spite, you have only to blow at his head, and he would instantly fail."
"You think so, do you?" said Chante à l'heure, striking the table. "Suppose I told you that he had slit a woman's weasand!"
"Not so loud, Chante à l'heure; not so loud," said I, putting my finger significantly on my lips. "You know very well that at Lorcefée (La Force) walls have ears; and you must not turn nose against a comrade."
"What do you call turning nose," replied he, the more irritated in proportion as I feigned a wish to stop him from speaking; "when I tell you that it only depends on me to split upon him in another case."
"That is all very well" I replied; "but to bring a man before the big wigs, we must have proofs!"
"Proofs! Does the devil's child ever want them? Listen. You know the little shopkeeper who lives near the Pont Notre-Dame?"
"An old procuress, mistress of Chatonnet, and wife of the hump-backed man?"
"The same! Well, three months ago, as Blignon and I were blowing a cloud quietly in a boozing ken of the Rue Planche-Mibray, she came there to us. 'There's swag for you, my lads,' said she, 'not far off, in the Rue de la Sonnerie! You are boys of mettle, and I will put you on the lay. An old dowager who has been pocketing lots of blunt; a few days since she received fifteen or twenty thousand francs, in notes or gold; she often comes home in the darkey, and you must slit her windpipe; and when you have prigged the chink, fling her into the river.' At first we did not relish the proposition, and would not hear of it, as we never cared to commit a murder; but the old hag so pestered us by telling us that she was well feathered, and that there was no harm in doing for an old woman, that we agreed to it. It was settled that the procuress should give us notice of the precise right time and hour. However, I felt very I don't-know-howish about it; because, you see, when you are not used to a job of the kind, you feel queerish a bit. But, never mind, all was settled; when next morning, at the Quatre-Cheminées, near Sevres, we met with Voivenel and another pal. Blignon told the business to them, at the same time stating his objection to the murder. They thereupon proposed to give us a hand if we chose. 'Agreed,' replied Blignon: 'where there is enough for two, there is enough for four:' thus we settled it, and they were to be in the rig with us. From that time Voivenel's pal never let us rest, and was impatient for the arrival of the moment. At length the old mother Murder-love told us all was ready. It was a thick fog on the night of the 30th of December. 'Now's the time!' said Blignon. Believe me or not, as you like; but on the word of a thief I would have backed out, but I could not; I was drawn on, and dogged the old woman with the others; and in the evening when, having as we knew, received a considerable sum, she was returning from the house of M. Rousset, a person who let out carriages, in the Alley de la Pompe, we did for her. It was Voivenel's friend who stabbed her, whilst Blignon, having blinded her with his cloak, seized her from behind. I was the only one who did not dabble in her blood, but I saw all, for I was put on the look-out: and I then learnt, and saw, and heard enough to give that scoundrel Blignon his passport to the guillotine."
Chante à l'heure then, with an insensibility which exceeds belief, detailed to me all the minutest circumstances of this murder; I heard this abominable recital to the close, making incredible efforts to conceal my indignation; for every word which he uttered was of a nature to make the hair stand on end of even the least susceptible person. When the villain had finished retracing, with a horrible fidelity, the agonies of his victim, I urged him anew not to break off his friendship with Blignon: but at the same time I dexterously threw oil on the fire I appeared solicitous to extinguish. My plan was to lead Chante à l'heure to make a public confession of the horrible revelation to which rage and revenge had spurred him on. I was further desirous of being enabled to furnish justice with those means of conviction which would be necessary to punish the assassins. Much yet remained in uncertainty; possibly, after all, this affair was merely the fruits of an overheated brain, and Chante à l'heure when no longer under the influence of wine and vengeance, might disavow all recollection of it. However the business might terminate, I lost no time in dispatching to M. Henry a report, in which I explained the affair, as well as the doubts I myself entertained of its veracity; he was not long in replying to my communication, that the crime I alluded to was but too true. M. Henry begged I would endeavour to procure for him the precise account of everything which had preceded and followed this murder; and the very next day my plans were laid to obtain them. It was difficult to procure the arrest of any of the guilty party, without their suspecting the hand which directed the blow; but in this dilemma, as well as in many others in which I had been placed, chance came to my assistance. The following day I went to awaken Chante à l'heure, who, still suffering from the intemperance of the preceding night, was unable to quit his bed; I seated myself beside him, and began to speak of the state of complete intoxication in which I had seen him, as well as of the indiscreet actions he had committed, the reproof appeared to astonish him, but when I repeated a few words of the conversation we had held together, his surprise redoubled, and as I had foreseen, he protested the impossibility of his having used such language; and whether he had effectually lost his recollection, or whether he mistrusted me, he tried hard to persuade me that he had not the slightest remembrance of what had passed. Whether he at this moment spoke the truth, or not, I profited by it to tell him that he had not confined his confidential communications to one alone, but had spoken of all the circumstances of the murder in a loud tone, in the presence of several prisoners who were sitting near the fire, and had heard all that had passed as well myself. "What an unlucky fellow I am," cried he, with every sign of sincere distress. "What have I done? What is to be done to extricate myself from the situation in which it places me?"—"Nothing is more simple," said I; "if you should be questioned as to the scene of yesterday, you can say, 'Upon my word, when I have taken too much drink, I say or do anything; and if I happen to have a spite against a man, I do not now what I might invent about him.'" Chante à l'heure took all this for genuine advice; but on the same morning, a man named Pinson, who passed for a great sneak, was conducted from La Force to the office of the préfet: this exchange could not have occurred more opportunely for my project, and I hastened to acquaint Chante à l'heure with it, adding that all the prisoners believed the Pinson was only removed in the expectation of his making some very important discoveries.
At this intelligence he appeared thunderstruck: "Was he one of those who were present when I was talking the other night?" asked he with strong anxiety. I replied that I had not particularly observed; he then communicated to me more frankly his fears, and I obtained from him fresh particulars, which, sent off without delay to M. Henry, caused all the accomplices in this murder to fall into the hands of justice; the shopkeeper and her husband were of the number. They were all committed to solitary confinement; Blignon and Chante à l'heure in the new building, the others in the infirmary, where they remained a very long time. The public authorities had enquired into it, and I no longer troubled myself with the affair. Nothing material resulted from the investigation, which had been badly begun from the first, and finally the accused were pardoned. My abode at Bicêtre and La Force embraced a point of twenty-one months, during which not a single day passed without my rendering some important service. I believe I might have become a perpetual spy, so far was every one from supposing that any connivance existed between the agents of the public authority and myself. Even the porters and keepers were in ignorance ef the mission with which I was entrusted. Adored by the thieves, esteemed by the most determined bandits (for even these hardened wretches have a sentiment which they call esteem), I could always rely on their devotion to me; they would have been torn to pieces in my service, a proof of which occurred at Bicêtre, where Mardargent, of whom I have before spoken, had several severe battles with some of the prisoners who had dared to assert that I had I had only quitted La Force to serve the police. Coco-Lacour and Goreau, prisoners in the same jail as incorrigible thieves, with no less ardour and generous intrepidity undertook my defence. Perhaps at that time they might have taxed me with ingratitude, that I did not evince to them any greater partiality than I showed to others; but my duty was imperious. Let them now receive the tribute of my gratitude; they have had a more powerful influence than they imagine in the advantages which society has derived from my services.
M. Henry did not allow the préfet to remain in ignorance of the numerous discoveries effected by my sagacity. This functionary, to whom I was represented as a person on whom he might depend, consented at last to put an end to my detention. Every measure was taken that it might not be known that I had recovered my liberty; they sent to fetch me from La Force, and carried me from thence without neglecting any of their rigorous precautions. My handcuffs were replaced, and I ascended the wicker car with the private understanding that I was to escape on the road, and I was not slow in profiting by this permission. The same night my flight was made known, and all the police were in search me. This escape caused much noise, particularly at La Force, where my friends celebrated it with rejoicings, drank to my health, and wished me a safe and prosperous journey.