Odd things happened from time to time to remind one of the house’s early history. One day a deep hidden well that no one had suspected the existence of was found in the basement of the main house. Another time—But we must be brief.
Matters went on thus for years. But at length there was a sudden and violent change.
The “Radical” party in Louisiana, gorged with private spoils and loathed and hated by the all but unbroken ranks of well-to-do society, though it held a creed as righteous and reasonable as any political party ever held, was going to pieces by the sheer weakness of its own political corruption. It was made mainly of the poor and weak elements of the people. Had it been ever so pure it could not have made headway against the strongest ranks of society concentrating against it with revolutionary intent, when deserted by the power which had called it to responsibility and—Come! this history of a house must not run into the history of a government. It is a fact in our story, however, that in the “Conservative” party there sprung up the “White League,” purposing to wrest the State government from the “Radicals” by force of arms.
On the 14th of September, 1874, the White League met and defeated the Metropolitan Police in a hot and bloody engagement of infantry and artillery on the broad steamboat landing in the very middle of New Orleans. But the Federal authority interfered. The “Radical” government resumed control. But the White League survived and grew in power. In November elections were held, and the State legislature was found to be Republican by a majority of only two.
One bright, spring-like day in December, such as a northern March might give in its best mood, the school had gathered in the “haunted house” as usual, but the hour of duty had not yet struck. Two teachers sat in an upper class-room talking over the history of the house. The older of the two had lately heard of an odd new incident connected with it, and was telling of it. A distinguished foreign visitor, she said, guest at a dinner-party in the city the previous season, turned unexpectedly to his hostess, the talk being of quaint old New Orleans houses, and asked how to find “the house where that celebrated tyrant had lived who was driven from the city by a mob for maltreating her slaves.” The rest of the company sat aghast, while the hostess silenced him by the severe coldness with which she replied that she “knew nothing about it.” One of Madame Lalaurie’s daughters was sitting there, a guest at the table.
When the teacher’s story was told her companion made no comment. She had noticed a singular sound that was increasing in volume. It was out-of-doors—seemed far away; but it was drawing nearer. She started up, for she recognized it now as a clamor of human voices, and remembered that the iron gates had not yet been locked for the day. They hurried to the window, looked down, and saw the narrow street full from wall to wall for a hundred yards with men coming towards them. The front of the crowd had already reached the place and was turning towards the iron gates.