Excerpt from Murder On The Rue Cassette:
Prison de Mazas, April 1874
A few days after Loffredo was imprisoned, his lawyer paid him a visit. He advised him to plead guilty. He told Loffredo that he’d made inquiries and because of Elena’s reputation in Paris and the fact that she’d been estranged for seven years, he’d be given a light sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. “A crime of passion, nothing more, old chap.” He’d be released in a few months. Loffredo refused, telling the lawyer he was innocent. He asked for paper and wrote to Serafina while his lawyer waited, tapping his fingers on the top of the table.
Once a day they led him to a small courtyard where he exercised. After a week of this with no word from anyone, he boxed with the earth, forming his hands into fists and pounding the ground beneath his feet and then on the stone walls, but a whistle blew and guards cuffed him and took him back to his cell. After the incident with the stones, his shoelaces and razor were removed. Small creatures grew in his beard. When he tried to imagine his library in Oltramari, the picture faded. Freedom in the mind be damned.
One morning a new guard brought him bread and café. The café was strong, the bread warm and fresh. The guard smiled and called him “my lord.” That afternoon he heard the key turning the tumblers. The friendly guard opened the door. He carried shaving utensils. Loffredo was told to ready himself for a visitor. Another guard appeared who restrained him with ankle and wrist cuffs and the two guards led him to the visitors’ room. The clanking of the chains on the floor reverberated on his teeth. Rosa stood when he entered. Her eyes teared when she saw him.
Photo: Edmund Duranty by Edgar Degas, Pastel on paper, 1879. Public Domain.