Madness and Glory: (15,16,17): Freedom
The story of Philippe Pinel, father of modern psychiatry
Posted May 17, 2019
This is a work of historical fiction.
Lalladiere laid on improvised matting in a corner of the main room of the house. The small room which he and his brother, who died in childhood, had once shared was now filled with the apparatus for Roliot’s limited, but life-sustaining, wooden toolmaking business. Lying there, Lalladiere was beset with images of being chased, of large bodies looming over him and rubbing against him, of sitting at a table eating salty gruel. Of staring eyes. Eventually, he fell asleep, waking a few hours later tensely aware of irregular sounds from the street. He tried, then, with vigorous strokes, to break his tension but, back again in that house, was unable to do so.
During the day, he ate quickly and voraciously the sparse amounts of food placed before him. Between meals he sat silently on a straight wooden chair at the table or curled up on the floor in a corner of the room, watching his mother move, without looking at him, about the house. The only voices he heard were those of his mother and her husband Roliot, frequently raised in loud arguing about his being there. Roliot complained about the strangeness of his behavior, his limited but outrageously insane words and beliefs and, above all, his consuming their small supplies of food. He said he even tried a few times to speak with Lalladiere again about being at the execution. Questioned him about how he got there, what he saw, but received nothing but infuriatingly vague replies about conspiracy. Manon alternately screamed and whimpered that her son was sick or, against his will, possessed. He needed to rest there, be safe. Sometimes, she added suspiciously that people or spirits were probably watching all of them, or hovering around the house to try to possess them too. Roliot thought she was going on one of her extremes, or being stirred up by her son.
On the fourth day after he came to the house, Lalladiere went out by himself in the morning. He didn’t say where he was going, or whether he would come back. Standing near the door, they both watched him leave without a word. Manon’s face was cold and expressionless. Despite her insistence on her sick or possessed son’s need for safety, she saw him go and no longer pondered about what could happen.
Lalladiere walked slowly through the familiar streets, with fewer people moving through them than on the day he came. He kept his head up, looking straight ahead, but glanced quickly sideways at each person he passed. Any one might be a pursuer, a torturer, a plotter against him. Watch out, worm, thing of corruption and slime. They are coming to get you. The unusual quiet in his mother’s house, with no thunderous voices despite the tension, had ended.
He retraced his escape path back to the Place de la Revolution. Not desperately racing now, the distance seemed shorter. But at the Place, he felt uncomfortably exposed and alone in the wide expanse. The previously large crowd that surrounded him and allowed him to feel anonymous was replaced by noisy but spread out clumps of moving people. There were a few carts, a larger wagon, two men on horses, and some zigzag lines of walkers. The packed theatre of death was now an open, uncluttered space where free movement, burdensome freedom to choose course and direction, was possible.
He was unsure what to do. He stood motionless near the bridge and considered going to find Jean-Luc. Going back over the bridge, he could angle quickly through the alleys to the area where the boy lived. No, he thought, he had not come out that day to go to Jean-Luc. There was a secret weighing on his mind. A heavy pounding secret. He knew a lot about secrets, they had become deeply buried within him. He had seen secret things, done secret things, and hid them. But this secret was different, it was the reason he left the house that morning. He must continue on.
He entered the rue Nationale, then turned into rue Honoré, the route traversed by the cart of execution. The thought of the former queen’s death had been wiped from his mind. Despite persistent ideas of being killed, sometimes of killing someone else, that filled his consciousness, he could not conjure up a person dead. Death was a torture, a punishment, not a reality. Passages of time, endings, were overwhelming; he could not think of them at all.
The house he headed for was on rue Honoré. Roliot had mentioned that house being on the cart route when trying to get him to talk about the execution. Hearing that, Lalladiere knew he had to go there. Had to warn the man inside.
Make up for what you do. Make up for what you did. This is your chance to make it up. Time, worm, to undo the harm, the vicious harm. Only you can save it. You must tell the secret, undo the harm. Be the savior. You are destined to be the true savior. The savior. Save. Savi. Savior.
He passed the windows of a haberdasher showing a few neatly stacked bolts of cloth, a bakery with shelves holding sparse loaves of bread, a general store displaying boxes of garlic and signs for wine and cognac, the glass front of a furniture maker’s shop backed by an empty looking expanse of darkness. On the street were half-filled carts vending vegetables, licorice water, small oranges or salt. Not teeming as before, but still filled with activity, walkers and vehicles on this Paris street went resolutely to and fro. Intermixed with his plaguing and commanding voices, he heard sounds of vociferous conversation, intermittent shouting, and the bustle both of business and sociability.
He passed more shops until coming to the area near the Palais Royale, where people and motion became scarce. As he approached the huge enclosure, he was strangely almost completely alone on the street. From a nearby entrance, a woman came out with a leap. She turned, saw him, and without a moment’s hesitation, headed directly toward him. Dressed in a tightfitting lavender front slit and petticoat-revealing dress, she was laughing, swaying, and slightly dazed. Immediately behind her another woman suddenly appeared, wearing clothing varying only in color but not in style. She too was bobbling and flauncy, skipping as she walked. Together, they quickly approached Lalladiere.
Another woman came out of the entrance, followed by two more. All were laughing, and one was shrieking. Obviously drugged, some moving their mouths in a chewing motion, they advanced in an uncoordinated dance. Forward, backward, one step sideways, then a little jump. Forward, forward, sideways, sideways, ending with a slide. Shake, sway, skip, skip. The lavender-dressed woman reached him first, swaying closeby while the others moved to surround him. They continued to dance with mounting energy as they bobbed in and out of a loosely formed circle.
As she swayed, she moved seductively close to him, grabbed his hand, and placed a thin, brown fritter-like cake in his palm. Then, she took his other arm and started to lead him toward the entryway to the Palais Royale. He jerked himself backward, and feeling his movement, she clutched onto his arm. As he tried again to move away, she, with all of her might, pulled his arm outward. Lalladiere’s pain was excruciating and intense. Despite her drugged, dazed state, the woman had extraordinary strength. A moment later, a red-dressed, swaying and dancing woman on the other side of him came near, pulled the cake from where it had been put in his hand, and shoved it into his mouth. Though he resisted, he could tell it was slightly juicy and tasted bittersweet.
Filled with the power of frenzied excitement, this woman also grabbed an arm hard, and having him now in a pinioned position, she used her knuckles to push the cake further in. Another woman came up in front of the other two and put both hands on his cheeks in a gesture of mock caress. Suddenly, she dug her fingers into the angles of his jaws and, putting both thumbs into his mouth, attempted to get him to swallow the cake. Two others, still laughing, swaying, and dazed, kneeled down at his sides and began pulling at his genitals.
He tried to resist the agonizing stroking of his crotch and the suffocating pressure in his mouth. He summoned all his strength, attempting to hit, shake, kick them, bite the woman’s thumbs, but all continued clutching with determination greater than he had known. Even from asylum attendants.
He gave out a gurgled shriek, but no one came to stop them. He tried again, a back-throated wail, with no success. Then, as his mouth was stretched to the snapping point, arms agonizingly taut, genitals feeling shrunken with pain, the women suddenly stopped and let go. Still laughing and entranced, they turned away jumping and skipping. And all together went dancing back into the passageway from which they emerged. None looked back. In a flicker of time, they were gone.
As Lalladiere stood alone, shaking himself to restore energy and motion to his head and limbs, two separate walkers on the street looked at him curiously. Had they noticed what had happened? Were they used to seeing the prostitutes of the Palais Royale cavorting, and therefore what had transpired appeared as usual bawdy revelry? Each continued walking.
Lalladiere remained standing for some minutes and searched the empty street behind and in front of him.
More are coming. Watch out. Watch out. They put flames inside and kill you.
He was not sure whether to go on. The drugged women were seducing him. No, it couldn’t be, they were warning him by inflicting pain. They had come from somewhere, some edge of the world, to be with him, worship and punish him, warn him. Still he was determined to give up the secret. He had begun again, had to keep going. Save Danton now, save everything, no matter what. He rubbed his arms and legs, shook himself, and walked unsteadily on. Despite the pain and fear he felt moments before, he was not paralyzed and would go on to resist and fight. They might try to get him, but he would find a way.
It was a dark, cloudy day, there were no shadows or even glimmers of sunlight. With no glare, he was able to see clearly all around him. He continued on beyond the Palais Royale. Look up. See, they’re watching. In the open window of a house above, he saw a woman looking down at him, the sharp outlines of a derisive smirk on her face. He cringed. Despite continuing aches from his encounter, he tried to walk more quickly. Further down the street he came to a cloth and fabric shop where, deep inside, both a dark-jacketed proprietor and a yellow-dressed woman, perhaps a customer, stood looking outward toward him.
He reached the next street, trembling. More people were going back and forth and in their midst he felt safer. But that might at any moment change. The staring, the threatening, the turning on him. As he walked, other people, busy with their own affairs, came into the street. No one paid him any attention. Taking that in, his anxiety changed to desolation and loneliness. Surrounded here by people, he realized he was cut off and alone. But that emptiness was better than being pursued by conspirators, or having dangerous attention from drugged women. Sometimes when he recognized his shrouded feelings of loneliness, let yearnings and even sadness come into his mind, there was less terror, less danger of erupting rage. And there was actual lessening of the din.
What was it, this loneliness he felt? One day, he would think about it more, trying to understand it. Was it being separate and alone, having his own countless thoughts, making all his own movements each day? Products and responsibilities of no one else, no other person? Being human, flawed and vulnerable while no other person feels his feelings, thinks his thoughts, and no one, even by dint of will, love, or purest intentions, can change ravages, fully remove hurts, or ward off personal extinction. When this aloneness – he would later learn could be a savoring enrichment, a pride in capacities – appears only as bitter, terrible reality, it turns to the rotting loneliness.
Loneliness goes with imperfection, desperation, failed strivings, pain. Better to avoid it, feel nothing, not be human. Pushing all away starts very, very early, even before safe thoughts begin. And someday there comes being incessantly on guard, seeing plotting at every turn, hearing voices of condemnation.
“Good citizen,” a person said, addressing Lalladiere, “can you give a sou to a blind man?”
Walking for safety close to the buildings on the street, Lalladiere had stumbled over the outstretched feet of the man who beseeched him. The begging man, who wore a large eyepatch over one eye, was huddled up against a wall near a corner. Not fully blind, he exaggerated his misfortune. Lalladiere regained his balance and stood for a moment looking down on the man.
“A sou, please, citizen. Only a sou.”
The man spoke with a mellow, friendly voice. Despite his huddled position, Lalladiere could see that he was broad shouldered and strong, wearing slightly frayed straight-leg pants and a loose cloth shirt.
“I can tell you are a good man of wealth. Can you spare me something, please?”
Lalladiere wore the knee breeches he had on when first entering the hospital. Though worn and torn in places from long use and climbing during runaways, this clothing was currently considered elitist. He looked for some minutes at the man. There was something reassuring about him, the amiable voice, the disabled large hulk curled up on the pavement. Reaching into his pocket for money he had carefully kept all the time with him, Lalladiere handed the beggar several coins.
“There is danger,” Lalladiere said. “I must get to the house. For a warning. The house is here where the Great One lives.”
“What great one, citizen? You are on the rue Honoré. Who do you look for?” the beggar said as he quickly pocketed the money.
“The In-co-rrupt-ible.” Lalladiere stated the widely known tag as though each syllable had special significance.
“Ah, the citizen Robespierre. Yes, he lives here, a couple of streets down. Over there.” As he pointed in the direction further away, he lifted himself up and stood closely facing Lalladiere. The man was extremely large, which had not been fully apparent when he was huddled up against the building. He stood more than a foot taller than Lalladiere, and his muscular girth was so enormous he seemed to surround him.
With his uncovered eye, which bulged slightly, he rapidly scrutinized Lalladiere from top to toe. Extending a hand outward and snapping his head to one side, he indicated he would show Lalladiere the way.
“This street is a great one for spectacles.” he said affably. “The Austrian whore rolled by the other day. Yesterday, the carts carried twenty traitors. Where are you from, citizen? Not from Paris, of course. Did you come here today?”
“I come from Bicêtre.” For Lalladiere, the beggar, large as he was, seemed especially friendly and even protective as they walked.
“From the prison asylum? That would be some joyous thing. I bet they haven’t washed up all the blood yet from the killings last year. What happened, did you escape?”
“There were many wars there.”
“Yes, I’ll bet it was quite a struggle. I’ve heard they beat the prisoners once a day, whether they do anything or not. Keep them in line. But they killed off all the aristocrats at that place, how come you were still there?”
“Still there. Steal the cravat. Stavarat. Not an aristocrat.”
“So, you are a funny one, eh?” The beggar said, peering quizzically at Lalladiere with his uncovered eye. “You may not want to say it, but I can tell, even though your britches are a little frayed, that you are rich.”
Lalladiere said nothing, walking on expressionless.
“All right. Don’t get mad. But every Jacques and Francois around here don’t go to see deputy Robespierre. He’s getting to be very, very high up. A popular one, too, is he not? If you haven’t escaped from the Bicêtre – you didn’t give me no light at all about that – and you are going now to see Robespierre himself, you must be a pretty important person, too.”
“Pretty important” – words Lalladiere had once heard about himself. That was, it seemed, an eternity before, with the minister. But such words were not ever to be applied to him again.
Worm. Worst than lowest of the low. There is no hope. Nothing. You can have no one’s friendship.
“It’s a short distance down from here. There’s a little side way that turns in toward the house. I’ll show you,” the beggar said. He was walking close to Lalladiere, looking down at him, and concealing a vicious, avaricious smile.
Saint-Just complained to the Committee of Internal Affairs about the escape, as he learned, of a Bicêtre inmate. Couthon, deputy in charge, notified Dr. Pinel and governor Pussin of institutional mismanagement and warned of official action. Policies of corporal punishment, chaining, heavy use of physical treatments, were standard in Paris hospitals. The government would allow rational advances to some degree, but they would not tolerate freely roving maniacs from Bicêtre.
Pinel was worried. Official action so high up in the government could cause their important treatment policy to be stopped, and bring back resentment, danger, and despair. But he also was concerned about his patient Lalladiere. He believed Lalladiere had begun to improve and feared the escape indicated he was suffering a setback, leading to suicide, hurtful actions, or permanent derangement. He urged the governor to exert all necessary effort to find Lalladiere and return him to the asylum. Attendants were dispatched twice to the Rochereau house, once during the day to question Jean-Luc and his mother Suzette, search the surrounding area including roofs and alleyways, and ask neighbors what they had seen. The second time, they went in the evening to confer, after his work day, with Théo Rochereau, and at the same time to explore whether Lalladiere had returned to the area under cover of darkness. There were no clues at any time to his whereabouts.
Denis and Georges, each of whom had been separately sent to the Rochereaus, were assigned now to go back to the Place de la Revolution. Without a scheduled execution, it was far less crowded than before. The two of them carefully searched surrounding outlets and passageways, building clefts and crevices, then moved down to the borders of the river Seine. Returning, they fanned out for considerable distances into the avenues radiating from the Place. On both sides of the river, they stopped at gendarmeries and inquired. No encounters with anyone looking like Lalladiere were reported.
Denis tried to put himself in Lalladiere's place, guess what he had done, where he might have gone. The man, despite the lunacy, was canny and resourceful. He found ways to move swiftly over roofs, and according to the report from the Rochereaus sequestered himself in an odd place like a sub-level cleft without comfort, even without food for days on end. He was strong and always fought hard when he had to be restrained. But he was not without devoted feelings, apparently became attached to the boy who treated him kindly and later followed him all the way to the Place de la Revolution. Instead of making a ruckus there and grabbing on to the boy, he plowed incredibly through the heavy crowd to report to one of the important deputies. About what? Perhaps he suddenly got an idea of getting back his position in the government. This maniac had spunk, was a real challenge.
Denis decided to follow his hunch about re-connecting with the government, and motioned to Georges to follow him over to the former royal riding school where the National Convention met. They might, he thought, just find Lalladiere hanging around there to catch another deputy or maybe hiding out with someone he knew. But, after spending a good deal of time in surveillance of the area, questioning of guards, functionaries, even passersby, they had no success.
"There's no trace of him anywhere," Denis reported to governor Pussin, on their return.
"Nothing at all?"
"Zout, I thought we were getting somewhere with this man. He worked, kept up the calculations. And he was a solid citizen, good patriot before. I did not expect him to run again. Not at all." He paused, then trusting Denis, he added, "The government is down on us about him."
"If it's really important, how about getting to any familiars we know about? Any family he may have gone to?"
"A mother, I believe," the governor said, nodding appreciatively at Denis's participation. "I didn't think of her because she has never come to visit him. Not once. But I shall look for her name in the records. On the other hand, she may live somewhere in the provinces rather than Paris."
"This Lalladiere is a tricky one. Capable of wild actions. Went all the way to the former queen's execution and got those government deputies really worked up. Who knows what he will do next?"
Pussin shook his head after Denis left the room. From long experience, he knew not to expect every inmate to respond well to his work program but he felt disappointment and anger at Lalladiere for the lapse, a betrayal of trust. More than that, he felt angry at himself for his misjudgment. Having first been treated himself many years before at Bicêtre for the tubercular disease scrofula, he had stayed to become an attendant, taught himself, and worked his way up to become the governor of the institution. He was proud that he and his wife Marguerite had learned so much over the years, knew how to be firm and caring, developed techniques together for managing and helping large numbers of the inmates. During their time, there had been a number of escapes but much less than other asylums. Most had been quickly rounded up and brought back. He was worried that this incident, after two other fairly recent escapes, might bring government interventions that would affect all parts of their program. This Bicêtre escapee working up the government deputies was trouble. The doctor was forwarding the work program, their humane treatment and the unchainings, but even such a good physician as Dr. Pinel, such a far-seeing, compassionate man as he, might, under the current pressure, pull back. They had to find Lalladiere and return him.
On the rue Honoré, Lalladiere continued to follow the genial one-eyed beggar. For the moment quite clear-headed, he questioned what he was trying to do. What purpose did this mission serve for anyone, for his or anyone's life, or even for the Revolution? He had heard, through a nothingness-filled state, the secret plot by Tallien and Barras. Up with Robespierre, down with Danton. Kill Danton, kill Robespierre. It was like the games the children all played on the walls. See who could climb, then hit him with stones. Watch him come down and run after them. He always was hit, never could avoid those extremely hard-thrown stones. And when he tried an awkward flight, they laughed and jeered.
And what good was anything now? No one listened to him, no one would ever believe him or care: "No," he said under his breath to himself, "it is our Revolution, he--I--will save it, give up the secret. Overcome. Make the unsuspecting Robespierre know. Rise up, rise up. Save the glorious leaders, man of the people Danton and champion of freedom Robespierre. Save it all.
His mind shifted, a fogging returned. It was pierced by a shriek.
Vile, vile. Filth and corruption. You will never save anything. Try to save yourself. He shook his head lightly.
Never. Never. Never. He shook his head more vigorously. Lowest of low. Vilest of vile. They will get you. They will get you. You won't do or say a thing.
He trembled and thrust his head backward. The beggar, at his side, turned toward him, staring with his functioning eye. "Is there something I can do for you, good citizen? Are you suffering from the chills?"
"From the chills, lowest of low, vilest of vile."
"Oh, worse luck. Well, we shall be there right soon. Yes, we come right up now to the sideway."
As the beggar moved with his enormous frame toward the narrow alley, he came close to Lalladiere, almost enveloping him. Instantly, Lalladiere whirled in the same direction to avoid being pushed.
"Just this way," the large man said, moving even closer.
They entered the alley, a narrow passageway between two grey stone buildings. The light was dim, little sunlight came into the constricted opening between high walls. A few more steps within and they could neither be seen nor see anything on the main street behind them. Lalladiere suddenly felt himself pushed sideways against one of the flat hard walls, his jaw jerked upward, his head pinned. The beggar was jamming his great upper body onto him, crushing him up against the cold stone. From the force of the thrust, Lalladiere lost his breath, gasping desperately for air as the man tore at the pockets of his breeches. He tried, chest heaving, to free up a leg and kick. But the beggar perceived the beginning of the motion and pushed his knee up against Lalladiere's thigh. Another attempt to kick using the other leg. The beggar intercepted this with a thrust of his heavy, bulbous knee directly into Lalladiere's groin. Overwhelmed by pain, an excruciating feeling of hollowness starting between his legs and penetrating upward into his body, Lalladiere slumped toward the ground. The beggar moved back to let him fall, adroitly pushing on one shoulder to make sure he faced frontward.
While Lalladiere lay writhing, the beggar searched the pockets of his coat and found only a small amount of coins and paper money. Grunting with disgust, he ripped the garment open to seek for more underneath. There was nothing in Lalladiere's vest or chemise, but when he ran his hand along the inside portion of the coat, he found a loosely sewed-over pocket with a bulk of paper inside. He tore open the threads, pulled the paper out, and to his amazement it was a document containing the seal and signature of the former king. In the dim light, he brought it close up to his single eye, searching to determine what it was, and whether it had value.
Lalladiere saw the beggar's distraction, and as quickly as he could he rolled himself from under the massive body. Pushing up against the nearby building as support, he came up painfully to his feet. The man immediately turned to grab him. Mind sharpened by danger, Lalladiere quickly realized that the only escape, with the beggar completely blocking the way back, was to go further into the passageway. He pulled away and began to run. The beggar, despite his great size, was remarkably quick on his feet. With a few leaping steps, he overtook Lalladiere, thrusting him again hard up against the wall. But this time, Lalladiere was able to keep his hands unpinned. He flung both palms under the beggar's jaw, pushed upward, and threw back the large head.
Furious, still clutching the paper document of his victim's former attainments, the man began pummeling the trapped body with his other hand. But Lalladiere held his grasp despite intense pain from the meaty clublike fist. He slid his fingers upward on the man's cheeks, digging them in slightly below the level of the eyes. The beggar growled and continued to pound into Lalladiere's belly and chest. At the same time, turning his thick waist sideways, he started bringing his knee upward for another blow to the groin.
Lalladiere saw the motion, and cringed with anticipation of disabling pain. He pushed both hands quickly toward the man's eyes. Two left hand fingers slipped under the eye patch, he felt soft, thin flesh covering the bone rimming the empty socket. Then, unable to avoid the knee thrusting into him, he drove the index finger nail of his right hand deep into the beggar's only eye.
The large man screamed with agony, fell back, and flailed his arms. Lalladiere, escaping the full force of the thrust knee, was now able to maneuver. He turned and ran further up the passageway. He went quickly, though weak from the pummeling, and shortly reached the end. There was no way out. A large high mound of dirt and stones, placed there by men working on the gutters of the neighboring street, was totally blocking the opening.
He fell onto the mound, clawing desperately at the dirt on one side in order to make an outlet. It was hard-packed, damp, and heavy with mixed-in stones. Though he used all his strength, only small crumbled clumps fell away. Behind him, he heard the sound of the beggar who, raging with pain and unable to see, was beginning to follow down the passageway. Stumbling, the gigantic man headed resolutely toward where he heard Lalladiere's running steps, and roared out obscene curses and threats. Lalladiere, mobilized by certain danger, the advancing boom of the beggar's voice, shoved himself tightly against the alleyway stone building and started to edge his way back. Escape past the blinded man, a desperate try to get back out onto the main street, was his only choice.
He moved quickly but cautiously, alternately spread-eagling then drawing his legs together over and over as his hands guided him against the smooth stone. The beggar was also attempting to move rapidly, frenziedly searching with his arms. Several times he tripped over, but then immediately pulled himself up, grabbing at the solid sides for support and direction. Lalladiere could see, as the beggar came toward him, that one hand worked awkwardly. Doubled into a fist, it still clutched the paper with the seal of the King. He punched his fist uselessly for guidance at the wall, holding the paper tightly both in self-punishing outrage and conviction that he needed it. The scrap of parchment must have special value, yield riches and importance. It was also a tangible contact with a lost world of sight.
He wobbled forward, continuing to fill the alleyway with bellowing fury and agony. Keeping to the side where the large man less frequently contacted the wall, Lalladiere edged more closely, watching to avoid his searching and flailing arms. Blood was flowing down from the newly blinded eye. He was becoming weaker and began heavily swaying. With a cracked and tremulous voice, he shouted into the air:
"You shit. Aristocrat from hell. Who are you?"
Lalladiere cringed back and said nothing.
"Carrying the King's paper. Going to see Robespierre. Who in the name of all the plaguing demons are you who did this to me?" As he came nearer, Lalladiere remained flat and quiet against the wall.
"Who are you?" the beggar rasped.
Lalladiere inched forward. The question would not, and could not be answered. It penetrated into every layer of his mind, lunatic and sane, and filled him with despair. Who are you? Even if the beggar were able to trick him into answering, the only possible answer he knew was: No one. Asked again and again, the answer would be: No one.
Pushed up firmly against the wall, biting his lower lip with determination, Lalladiere slid past the looming blind man. Without a sound, he continued steadily along the dark stone, as fast as he could, toward the open end of the alleyway.
During his midday meal, governor Pussin thought more about possible leads, people or places where Lalladiere might go. The man's background was by and large obscure: employed in the government, trusted assistant of Necker, suddenly he became mad. Was he going to be dismissed, threatened with some kind of exposure? Did he squander all his earnings? Pussin had seen cases of lunacy starting from such things.
Time was running out. The longer Lalladiere was out of the asylum, the more difficulties he might have, or cause. A more urgent warning, Dr. Pinel told him, had come from the Committee of Internal Affairs. They alleged that dangerous mental patients had been spotted on the streets of Paris. The Committee was seriously considering issuing orders for re-chaining of Bicêtre inmates and Dr. Pinel's removal if the circumstance was not shortly improved. Increases in Paris lunatics in those times, Dr. Pinel quipped, was certainly not the doing of the Bicêtre asylum. True, an inmate had recently gotten out, been chased around a wide area, but was brought back. Unfortunately, Lalladiere, well-known and still at large, was putting the new treatments at risk.
From an obscure place in his memory, Pussin suddenly recalled hearing Lalladiere obscenely teased by another inmate, a former soldier. He and an attendant were, at the time of admission, escorting Lalladiere to his sleeping quarter when the inmate shouted, together with some gibberish phrases, "I know you, Lalladiere, you were fucking the daughter of Camille Raston. That gorgeous piece, Genevieve. Genevieve. Rasty Genevieve." Lalladiere became immediately upset and had to be restrained on the spot. A bad incident, but Pussin remembered that the soldier inmate had some contacts in the king's government and might be touching on something real. Camille Raston was a former government minister who was now a deputy and fervent revolutionary. It was a long shot to check there, but they needed a lead to find him. As Denis suggested, instead of just wandering around, the man may have gone to someone he knew in his past. If not to this woman, she might perhaps know about other people or places. They could not locate the mother but Raston's place would be easy to determine. Putting down his fork, Pussin turned to Marguerite.
"As soon as they can be spared to go out again, I will send attendants, Denis will be one, to see Genevieve Raston."
"I have a hunch he may have gone there, one of the inmates mentioned her."
"I certainly hope you find him. I should have eyes in the back of my head. I feel bad about how he got out."
Later that day, Denis and Antoine arrived at the Camille Raston residence. Genevieve, they were told by the servant Rochelle, would not be able to see them right away. She had been ill for quite a long period, and continued to be sequestered for several hours each day. It was, Denis said, official business and their need to see her was pressing. Leaving them at the door, Rochelle went upstairs muttering to herself about the need nowadays to comply with everybody's pressures. She came back to tell them to wait in the small parlor room.
After a long half hour, Genevieve came down. Appearing to be in her mid-twenties, she had blond shoulder-length hair falling in curly corkscrew clusters and topped with a black velvet ribbon and a rose. She wore an unadorned light-blue cotton gown, loose but in places thin and adherent enough to outline parts of her attractively rounded body as she moved. Her cheekbones were high and angular, and a slight hollowing of her cheeks gave her a spare, thoughtful expression. At the same time, the upward tilt of her head displayed spirit and vivacity. She was in fact considered vivacious and witty by most who knew her. She was well-liked and popular with her age-mates and the families of other government officials.
"I was told you are looking for Guillaume Lalladiere. Why do you come here? Is he free?"
Denis answered. "We have reason to believe, citizenness, that you knew him before he became insane. He has escaped from the Bicêtre asylum, and we must bring him back."
"Is he violent?"
"Did he speak about me?" she asked with a laughing sound of discomfort rather than pleasure. "There, in the asylum, did he talk of me? Is that how you know?"
"No, citizenness, we ourselves never heard him speak of you. Citizen Pussin, governor of the asylum, told us to come here, that you might know where Lalladiere has gone."
"I have not seen Guillaume for a very long time. I knew he was at the Bicêtre. That he was sent there. But he has not been here. He would not come here. Not now. Never."
Denis looked at Antoine, raising an eyebrow. "Oh, a bad story, is it?" he said, addressing Genevieve. "Perhaps, citizenness, you may know something about the places he goes, where he has spent time? Other connections, associates? Is he likely to be in Paris or gone to the provinces?"
"Have you tried the Palais Royale? Bois de Bologne? Have you tried his mother's?"
"The governor says he has nothing to do with his mother. She has never visited him, or even tried to. Do you think, anyway, it is possible he went there?"
"Perhaps, I couldn't tell. I don't know anymore." She hooked a curl in her hair with a finger. Her next thought made her shiver. "The Seine?" she asked, "have you looked there?"
"Well, then, you think he might have drowned himself? Could be. We never saw him try to hurt himself, not even by refusing to eat like some of them do. Maybe he wandered around out of his mind and fell in. But the police would probably have found out about that and notified us by now. They watch, keep their eyes on the river a lot. Look for people jumping in, doing deals, trying to escape arrest or the guillotine. Anyway, we'll go check there later, and the other places you mentioned, too."
They asked for the mother's address and she went to get it. Returning, she indicated she had nothing more to tell them. Denis, soon out on the street, wondered aloud to Antoine:
"So, she thinks he may have gone to the Palais Royale. To the prostitutes. Hard to think of Lalladiere doing that, he's so tightened up. Anyway, those two must have had a rotten time together."
Antoine shrugged. "He's a lunatic. Do you think he ever was anything else?"
"Sure, what's the trouble? You think he always walked around with some demon inside him? He once was high up in the government. I saw him at that execution trying to talk to big shot deputies. Maybe something happened to him, someone is maybe really out to get him."
"You think too much. He's no government official when he comes at you with the fists, knees, teeth. Do we go to his mother's to look for him?"
Denis didn't think so. He said that they should tell the governor what they had heard, and find out what he wanted them to do. Relatives of inmates, as both he and Antoine knew, were sometimes quite bothersome. Constant looks of dejection or despair or, worse, coldness and disapproval of everyone.
Genevieve, sitting alone in the parlor, was not, as Rochelle said, ill. Before, there had been a long period of anguish and weakness and now, for most of the day, she still remained usually in her room. It all began soon after the terrifying days when Guillaume changed. The man she loved, tenderly, dearly. Both brilliant and inspired, she knew, capable of understanding the finances of the entire country, holding masses of details in his head, full of ideas for betterment of the nation, from whom Necker himself took important advice. This man began to talk of plots against him, had fits of wild-eyed frenzy, gradually became bizarre and incoherent, and finally went, before her eyes, into a strange, stuporous state where he hardly moved at all. She could do nothing for him, believed she had lost him forever.
Nothing in her life helped her get over it. She felt confused, tired, and useless. Her mother insisted that she forget Guillaume, "the frightening, crazy man," and go out to cafés and parties as other ministers’ daughters and sons did. Also, it was time for her to find a suitable, good, and stable husband. But Genevieve would not consider it. She was not interested in dressing up, going dancing, and chatting endlessly about insignificant details of life. She was distressingly aware of the widespread scarcity of food and shortages of goods. She and her family had the good fortune to be well provided for, but she could no more engage in frivolous, wasteful pastimes while so many suffered than she could believe in aristocratic privilege.
She decided to write, in the form of letters, an account of the Revolution. She knew much of the history up to that point, from omnivorous study of newspapers, from her father, and from other government associates like Guillaume. She gained up-to-date information about everyday details and events aided by inside-sourced and colorful dinner table elaboration by her father, who had become as important as a revolutionary deputy as formerly he had been as a royal minister. Each day, she worked hard writing narrative accounts and deeply felt observations at a desk in her room. But, often, she was unsatisfied. At the end of each week, she read all the letters she created, and decided many were too maudlin, or overdramatic, or trite. She tore them up and the next week began all over again. It was a long, repetitious, but, in several ways, gratifying undertaking. For one thing, her mother, acknowledging her literary aspiration, reluctantly stopped insisting she go find someone else.
She wanted to write about the Revolution in a balanced way, showing the privations and goals of individuals, real people, but also the quandaries experienced by the King, the nobility, and the church. Noblesse oblige, devotion, maltreatment, suffering, human foibles, and hopes.
"King Louis is not a bad man," she remembered Guillaume saying to her once with strong feeling in the days before his--what? His loss of sanity. "He believes he is acting to help the people and they don't appreciate it. He agrees to the assemblages, follows advice, but nothing works out. He cannot see through all of the strategies and intrigues of the people around him, pushing him this way and that for their purposes. The queen, too. She's pushed around by plotters because she wants her royal prerogatives. Her privileges, her family, and her family ties come first."
"What do you think will happen, Guillaume?" she asked him then. She loved his thoughtful sensibility and his dedication.
"The people need relief. Necker is trying to bring in the money to help them. But they are starving, they pay and pay and get nothing. Things must change, probably severely."
Her chain of thoughts were interrupted by her mother Veronique Raston's entry into the parlor.
"Rochelle told me some men were here to see you. Why? What did they want?"
"They came to ask me about Guillaume. He has escaped from the Bicêtre asylum."
"Oh, what a horror. Do they think he will come here?"
"No, Maman, they thought I would know where he has gone."
"He must not come here. Terrifying, absolutely terrifying. I shall never forget what happened to him, how he looked. That strange speech, those wild staring eyes."
She paused for a thought, then asked anxiously, "Were they right coming here to you? Do you know anything about where he actually is?" The fright in her eyes turned into stern accusation. "You have gone to see him, even though we warned you over and over never again to do it,"
"No, I have not. I have not even tried, not through the long time he has been in the asylum. But remember, Maman, it wasn't his fault that Necker resigned from the government. You thought once he was a devoted, attractive man. You even several times said he had a handsome face."
"He is a lunatic. He will never get well."
"Who among us is not lunatic, Maman? Why do we fight in the streets and search for traitors? Why give some people liberty and take off the heads of others? If we are in the right, as my good Papa and the leaders say, and we believe, why are so many--people who were comrades--against us? And what about me? Have I been all right? Have I not been wild and grievously at fault?"
"What fault? What are you speaking of?"
"It was because of me that Guillaume became insane."
"My God, do you still hold onto that shameful idea of yours? Just because you stopped seeing him? This idea made you sick, you had to go to bed. We thought by now, with the time gone by, even with that work you do, you were cured you of the obsession. But you are holding onto it to besmirch us, your Papa and me. You put it inside your head, defy us, what we say, in your mind. That man was definitely not for you. Consul General Necker made much of him and prized him, but he surely pulled back when the man went wild and crazy. How many times have I reminded you how he---"
"Stop that, Maman," Genevieve interrupted. "You have reminded me of that over and over. Now he has gotten out of the asylum, he may again try an extreme sacrifice." Her eyes, which up to then had looked pained, now became sad with a thought she had when talking with the attendants. "He may go to his mother."
"His mother? What do you know of his mother? What has she to do with his lying motionless on the floor, letting people move his arms and legs like he was some soft putty. Until finally they got someone to come and say he was insane?"
"I must try to find him, Maman. He may hurt himself. I shall go to his mother's house, try to talk with him before the men go there. They may frighten him into doing something bad."
"What, you go out? And on such a dangerous, disgraceful undertaking? Why would he go to his mother's, whoever she is?" Veronique glared at her daughter before commanding, "You must not leave."
Genevieve stood up and walked past her mother toward the door of the parlor. "I am going to see Guillaume's mother, Maman. He may not have gone there, but even if he didn't, I must see her now, talk with her."
Standing at the entranceway of the parlor, she turned to the chifferobe, took out and put on a shawl. She glanced quickly back at her mother's face, now swollen with fury, and walked out the door.