Around 6 am, the day after the fall of Robespierre, his successor, Barras, arrived at the Temple Prison.  He saw the young prince lying in a sort of cradle for a bed.  His knees and ankles were swollen, and his room was in a state of repulsive dirtiness.

Barras asked the child to get up, but his request was ignored;  “then he told the municipal officer and the service officer to raise the child with precaution, and to place him on the ground so that he could see him walk.  The child reluctantly complied with the efforts to place him upright.  He was no sooner on his feet than he wanted to lie down again in his cradle where he threw himself head-first.  Barras ordered that he be put on his feet again by holding him underneath his arms;  but, at the first step, he appeared to feel such vivid pain that he was instantly made to sit down.  He was wearing a waistcoat and trousers of grey broadcloth;  the trousers were tight and seemed to hurt him.  Barras, to see what was wrong, had the trousers cut on both sides, from bottom to top, above the knees, which he found to be extemely swollen and of a livid colour.  He learned that the child neither slept nor ate” (Account dictated by Barras to Lombard de Langres).

Barras made his report to the Committee, which decided that doctors would be asked to examine the prisoner.  The prisoners were given into the keeping of one of Barras’ creatures, a gentleman by the name of Laurent, a young creole whom Josephine had recommended as being a safe and devoted man.

Five weeks after Laurent took up his duties, on 31 August 1794, the powder magazine at Grenelle blew up:  the rumour immediately ran through Paris that the Temple prisoners had escaped during a royalist plot.  Their guardian Laurent was accused of having relaxed his surveillance.  “We didn’t know if we were guarding stones or anything else”, wrote a service aide, who probably never saw the prisoners.

In October, Laurent had to reply to insinuations made about him by citizens via several official complaints to different committees.

On 8 November 1794, the General Security Committee decided to choose Citizen Gomin to assist Laurent as Temple guardian.  Gomin had never seen the Dauphin, and said so to Laurent.  It probably didn’t matter as, it was said at the time, the Dauphin had already left the prison.

Fourth part tomorrow.

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