Madame Lalaurie, we know by notarial records, was in Mandeville ten days after, when she executed a power of attorney in favor of her New Orleans business agent, in which act she was “authorized and assisted by her husband, Louis Lalaurie.” So he disappears.
His wife made her way to Mobile—some say to the North—and thence to Paris. Being recognized and confronted there, she again fled. The rest of her story is tradition, but comes very directly. A domestic in a Creole family that knew Madame Lalaurie—and slave women used to enjoy great confidence and familiarity in the Creole households at times—tells that one day a letter from Prance to one of the family informed them that Madame Lalaurie, while spending a season at Pau, had engaged with a party of fashionable people in a boar-hunt, and somehow meeting the boar while apart from her companions had been set upon by the infuriated beast, and too quickly for any one to come to her rescue had been torn and killed. If this occurred after 1836 or 1837 it has no disagreement with Harriet Martineau’s account, that at the latter date Madame Lalaurie was supposed to be still “skulking about some French province under a false name.”
The house remained untouched for at least three years, “ornamented with various writings expressive of indignation and just punishment.” The volume of “L’Abeille” containing this account seems to have been abstracted from the city archives. It was in the last week of April or the first week of May, 1836, that Miss Martineau saw the house. It “stands,” she wrote about a year later, “and is meant to stand, in its ruined state. It was the strange sight of its gaping windows and empty walls, in the midst of a busy street, which excited my wonder, and was the cause of my being told the story the first time. I gathered other particulars afterwards from eye-witnesses.”
So the place came to be looked upon as haunted. In March, 1837, Madame Lalaurie’s agent sold the house to a man who held it but a little over three months and then sold it at the same price that he had paid—only fourteen thousand dollars. The notary who made the earlier act of sale must have found it interesting. He was one of those who had helped find and carry out Madame Lalaurie’s victims. It did not change hands again for twenty-five years. And then—in what state of repair I know not—it was sold at an advance equal to a yearly increase of but six-sevenths of one per cent, on the purchase price of the gaping ruin sold in 1837. There is a certain poetry in notarial records. But we will not delve for it now. Idle talk of strange sights and sounds crowded out of notice any true history the house may have had in those twenty-five years, or until war had destroyed that slavery to whose horridest possibilities the gloomy pile, even when restored and renovated, stood a ghost-ridden monument. Yet its days of dark romance were by no means ended.