A Book of Remarkable Criminals
drunken violence on the part of her jailors, or had the wretched woman, fearing a
sentence of death, made an effort to avert once again the supreme penalty?
History does not relate.
Ten years passed. A fellow prisoner in the Salpetriere described Mme. Derues as
"scheming, malicious, capable of anything." She was accused of being violent,
and of wishing to revenge herself by setting fire to Paris. At length the Revolution
broke on France, the Bastille fell, and in that same year an old uncle of Mme.
Derues, an ex-soldier of Louis XV., living in Brittany, petitioned for his niece's
release. He protested her innocence, and begged that he might take her to his
home and restore her to her children. For three years he persisted vainly in his
efforts. At last, in the year 1792, it seemed as if they might be crowned with
success. He was told that the case would be re-examined; that it was possible
that the Parliament had judged unjustly. This good news came to him in March.
But in September of that year there took place those shocking massacres in the
Paris prisons, which rank high among the atrocities of the Revolution. At four
o'clock on the afternoon of September 4, the slaughterers visited the Salpetriere
Prison, and fifth among their victims fell the widow of Derues.