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La Séquestrée de Poitiers.

Bernice Cooke Art Artwork Galway Artist Giclée Prints Halloween Inlove Old Buildings Pen and Watercolor prints Romance Short story Writer

Paris the Eiffel Tower

Paris 1846 and a beautiful young girl at twenty five was scouring every ball and social gathering for a life partner, a suitor, someone she could love and would love her back.

She found him, a lawyer, an older gentleman, not enough money to balance his books, but it was love and she fell madly.

Blanche was a high flying romantic at heart, when she fell, she fell hard and nothing could prevent this beautiful union.

Woman in Victorian Clothing looking out a window

Until that is, she went home.  Home was Number 21 Rue de la Visitation Poitiers.  A wealthy neighborhood, littered with upstanding citizens.  Blanche's late Father Emile was head of the local Arts Faculty.  Her brother Marcel, had graduated from law school and was now a former administrative official with Puget - Théniers Commune.  Her Mother Madame Louise Monnier Demarconnary was a respectable widower, having previously won an award from the Committee of Good Works for her lavish contributions to the city, and she was appalled at Blanche's new suitor.  His age, lack of money and respect would be a stain on her beautiful daughter's life.  Begging and pleading with her young daughter to end this fanciful love affair, but to no avail, Blanche would not be deterred.

Madame Louise in her extreme frustration locked her daughter into an attic room, high up under the eaves of Number 21. Certain her daughter would see sense and surrender her romantic liaison.

Blanche was headstrong and would certainly not be persuaded to give up her love.  Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, Blanche had disappeared from society and life.  Much to the grief of her mother and brother who kept up this farcical charade.

In 1885 Blanche's love passed away.  Blanche was nowhere to be seen, cries and moans from the attic were explained away to their neighbors, “It was only a delirious servant and they being upstanding citizens felt it was their duty to look after her, even if it meant locking her up for her own safety”, that seemed to satisfy the curious minds.

Madame Louse and Marcel mourned the loss of Blanche and life continued on as normal.

May 1901 and the Paris Attorney General received an anonymous tip off in the form of a handwritten letter, unsigned and scrawled.  It described the sorry tale of the Monnier house.

The police were curious, but cautious, as it may be a hoax, but they then remembered the sudden disappearance of Blanche and the questions in the community.  This led them to investigate the claims of this mysterious letter.

Arriving at Number 21 Rue de la Visitation, to an unanswered door, they burst in, greeted by a wall of a foul smelling aroma.  Following the stench upstairs to the attic, they stopped outside a padlocked room.  Breaking the door open, the putrid smell wafting from the darkness, dust covered curtains hung limply from the nailed shut windows.

Unhinging the shutters allowed rays of light to penetrate the room, in the furthest corner to their complete horror they discovered the answer to the foul stench.

Blanche lay cowering, tethered to a rotten mattress, littered with feces and remnants of food, soaked in urine, her withered skeletal body unable to move from where she lay. Barely alive but grateful to be found.  Naked with only a measly blanket to hide behind, she only weighed fifty pounds.

Horrified at their grim discovery, they arrested Madame Louise and her son; an angry mob had gathered outside as Blanche was removed from her prison.  The anger was palpable, the disgust immense, how could they have done this to a beautiful young girl, now twenty five years later, psychologically damaged.

Madame Louise suffered a heart attack, dying fifteen days later, after her full confession to the abduction and imprisonment of her daughter.  Her son Marcel stood trial for assisting his Mother, a sentence of fifteen months was handed down.  He was later acquitted as he claimed that Blanche could’ve left her confinement at any time and that she had had ample opportunity to escape.  He also stated that both himself and the servants were  terrified of Madame Louse and were too scared to risk releasing Blanche at the time.

Marcel walked from the courtroom as a free man.

Blanche never regained her full health.  She was mentally damaged from her ordeal, spending her remaining time in a sanatorium in Bois.

In her words “Grateful to be able to breathe in fresh air again”.

Blanche passed away in 1913.

But what of the anonymous tip off, the police never did discover who wrote the letter.

Speculation is that a servant finally broke their silence and spilled.

An old typewriter