The Duchess of Angouleme wrote in her Recit:  “At the end of October, at one o’clock in the morning, I was asleep when someone knocked on my door;  I rose hastily and I opened all trembling with fear, I saw two men with Laurent;  they looked at me and left without saying anything.”

These lines are not very significant, and nothing suggests that the evasion occurred that night.  That there was an evasion would not appear to be in question.  However, it is not possible to fix the exact date with certainty.

According to Madame Simon, it was when she and her husband left the Temple that it occurred.  She claimed to have taken advantage of the move, to hide the Dauphin in a cart of clothing.  But what happened to him afterwards?

The only thing certain is that, for the rest of her life, after the death of her husband, Widow Simon told the same story, in spite of pressure to change it, and of it being in her own interest to do so.  She continually stated that the Dauphin had been taken from the Temple.

It has been said that her mental faculties had declined at the end of her life.  A medical certificate, five declarations from different people, the clear, not at all incoherent answers she gave to the questions put to her, and to the interrogations to which she was submitted, prove that her mind was functioning perfectly well.

In spite of threats from the police, Widow Simon continued to tell anyone who would listen, that the Dauphin did not die at the Temple.  She said this right in the middle of the reign of Louis XVIII, at a time when such lack of control over her tongue could have caused her serious trouble.

At the moment when these revelations were made public, Widow Simon was at the Hospice des Incurables.  She had entered it on 12 April 1796.  She was in the deepest poverty, having lost the little that she had owned, including her husband’s possessions valued at 70 pounds, which she had inherited.

Widow Simon’s declarations were causing some worry to Louis XVIII’s police.  They even threatened to have her declared insane and locked away.  Some policemen tried to throw suspicion on her declarations by imagining the presence of another Madame Simon in Toulon, and accusing the widow of imposture.  This attempt did not succeed because, by this time, public opinion knew too much.

So, how was the Dauphin’s evasion carried out?  According to Madame Simon, “a hamper which was put on a cart of dirty linen” was used, as well as a cardboard support.  In the official papers, in particular those which she signed, Widow Simon puts the evasion at the moment when the death of Louis XVII was announced, in June 1795.

In these official papers, she says that she did not, herself, organize or help with the evasion, but that she only heard about it.  On the other hand, she appears to have declared to a nun who was caring for her at the Hospice des Incurables:  “They brought in several pieces of furniture in a carriage, a wicker hamper with a double bottom, a cardboard support;  the child that was substituted for the prince was taken out and the prince was put into the carriage with the hamper…  When it was time to leave, the guards wanted to inspect the carriage but I made a big fuss, pushing them, screaming that it was his dirty linen, and to let me pass.”

Therefore, some reserves must be made about the statements of Widow Simon, particularly because the date of 1795 is not possible.  The substitution must have occurred in 1794 when the surveillance teams were changed.  The new guardians had never seen the Dauphin and therefore were not able to denounce the deception.

On top of that, why would the Simons have taken a cart, when they had very few personal goods?  Also, the child visited by Barras was in very bad health, but he was in good health during the custody of the Simons.

The Count of Frotte, famous Vendeen chief, is supposed to have taken the royal child out of Paris and facilitated his flight.  Unless the Dauphin died in prison, and was replaced for political reasons.

Fifth part tomorrow.