A Book of Remarkable Criminals HTML version
Partnership in Crime
The Widow Gras
Report of the trial of the woman Gras and Gaudry in the Gazette des Tribunaux.
The case is dealt with also by Mace in his "Femmes Criminelles."
I. THE CHARMER
Jenny Amenaide Brecourt was born in Paris in the year 1837. Her father was a
printer, her mother sold vegetables. The parents neglected the child, but a lady of
title took pity on her, and when she was five years old adopted her. Even as a
little girl she was haughty and imperious. At the age of eight she refused to play
with another child on the ground of her companion's social inferiority. "The
daughter of a Baroness," she said, "cannot play with the daughter of a wine-
merchant." When she was eleven years old, her parents took her away from her
protectress and sent her into the streets to sell gingerbread--a dangerous
experience for a child of tender years. After six years of street life, Amenaide
sought out her benefactress and begged her to take her back. The Baroness
consented, and found her employment in a silk manufactory. One day the girl,
now eighteen years old, attended the wedding of one of her companions in the
factory. She returned home after the ceremony thoughtful.
She said that she wanted to get married. The Baroness did not take her
statement seriously, and on the grocer calling one day, said in jest to Amenaide,
"You want a husband, there's one."
But Amenaide was in earnest. She accepted the suggestion and, to the
Baroness' surprise, insisted on taking the grocer as her husband. Reluctantly the
good lady gave her consent, and in 1855 Amenaide Brecourt became the wife of
the grocer Gras.
A union, so hasty and ill-considered, was not likely to be of long duration. With
the help of the worthy Baroness the newly married couple started a grocery
business. But Amenaide was too economical for her husband and mother-in-law.
Quarrels ensued, recriminations. In a spirit of unamiable prophecy husband and
wife foretold each other's future. "You will die in a hospital," said the wife. "You
will land your carcase in prison," retorted the husband. In both instances they
were correct in their anticipations. One day the husband disappeared. For a short
time Amenaide returned to her long-suffering protectress, and then she too
When she is heard of again, Amenaide Brecourt has become Jeanne de la Cour.
Jeanne de la Cour is a courtesan. She has tried commerce, acting, literature,
journalism, and failed at them all. Henceforth men are to make her fortune for
her. Such charms as she may possess, such allurements as she can offer, she is
ready to employ without heart or feeling to accomplish her end. Without real
passion, she has an almost abnormal, erotic sensibility, which serves in its stead.
She cares only for one person, her sister. To her Jeanne de la Cour unfolded her
philosophy of life. While pretending to love men, she is going to make them
suffer. They are to be her playthings, she knows how to snare them: "All is dust
and lies. So much the worse for the men who get in my way. Men are mere