Laura Bow 1: About the Croutons

About the Croutons

Learning about the Crouton family is not essential for completing the game, but you may find it very interesting. To gather more information, ask/tell everyone about the Croutons, Sarah and her ghost, the treasure and the estate. Most of the characters either know nothing of these topics (Ethel, Gertie, Gloria, Dr. Feels and Fifi) or won’t discuss them with you (the Colonel and Jeeves). Lillian, Rudy and Clarence know some facts about the Croutons, while Celie knows most of all, assumably since she or her ancestors were slaves of the Croutons. The bible contains information about the family members.

After gathering pieces of information, here is the history of the Croutons:

The Crouton ancestors, Francois Pierre (born 1787, passed away 1832) and Claudette Marie (nee Tourte, born 1796, passed away 1856) Crouton, developed the old plantation in the 1820’s. It was planted in sugar cane. The plantation become prosperous and thriving, expanding on vast acreage, and the Croutons grew in wealth. They had two sons – Thomas Simon (born 1816) and Claude Francois (born 1819).

What became of Claude is unknown, except that he was buried in the family tomb with his brother and sister-in-law.

Thomas Simon Crouton married Mary Frances (nee O’Neil, born 1827) in 1848. In 1851, tragedy clouded their lives: their infant son William Thomas passed away, not a year after his birth. The reason for his death is not revealed.

Sarah Marie Crouton was born in 1854, two years before her grandmother passed away. She and her parents lived in wealth and prosperity, till the Civil War, during which great disaster fell upon them.

During the war, the plantation was ruined, and Thomas and Mary were killed. They were buried in the family tomb. Most of the fields and the buildings were destroyed, except the main house and several outbuildings (among them the stable, carriage house, playhouse, gazebo, chapel, tomb, bell tower and shack). Sarah was away at school during all the trouble, so her life was saved. When she returned, she found that both her family and home were lost.

Prior to their demise, Thomas and Mary wanted to assure their daughter would have means of decent living, in case the worst happened. They hid the family jewels inside the tomb, to which the only entrance is via secret trapdoor in the hedge garden. To make sure no one else would find the jewels by chance, they hid the two necessary items for gaining entrance to the tomb in separate places – the valve handle inside the armor suit and the crank in the bell tower. They put a note with vague clues for the locations of the valve handle and the crank – for no one but Sarah would decipher it – inside the bible, which they hid under loose board in the chapel floor, as followed:

Our end is near. The bell will ring solemnly on our final night, and then will sound no more. Sir Lancelot will forever salute us. Do not weep for us, my child. We will watch over you. We love you. Do not ever forget.

In addition, Thomas and Mary hid more explicit note inside the armor suit, along with the valve handle, as followed:

Our dearest daughter Sarah,
We knew you would know to look in the armor. This war is terrible! We fear our end is near. In case you’re not the only one to find this note, we won’t give too much away. Use this valve handle with your favorite water nymph. Don’t ever forget… we love you very much!
Love forever,
Papa and Mama

Unfortunately, Sarah failed to find the jewels – perhaps she did not know where the bible is hidden, or she could not decipher the note inside it. Either way, the treasure was never recovered. The poor girl, whose fate was so cruel, became homeless and penniless, and never got over her grief. She lived several more years in great sorrow and poverty, and died of terrible fever in 1871, at age 17. Some people say Sarah haunts the old graveyard like she is still looking for the missing treasure.

Since there is no further information about other family members, Sarah was apparently the last descendant of the Croutons. With her demise, that was the end of the ill-fated Crouton family.

With no one to inherit the estate and renovate it, the remaining buildings deteriorated and the swamp expanded and swallowed most of the land, surrounding the island with alligator-infested bayou, leaving only mere fragment of what used to be the once grand plantation.

Years later, Colonel Henri Dijon purchased the estate. His relatives could not understand why would the Colonel wish to live on such gloomy and isolated place, but he chose the island due to those very reasons – to spend his life far away from greedy, rude and selfish people, accompanied only with his staff and pets.

At the terrible night on May 27th 1925, when eight people were killed in the Dijon estate, Laura Bow found the lost treasure. The Colonel let her keep it wholly as a reward for saving his life.

Note: I read several articles claiming – without any foundation whatsoever – that Sarah was mother of the Colonel, Ethel and their brother Jacques (Gertie’s late husband). I disagree to the above assumption, mainly because there is not even vaguest indication in the game for any family relation between the Croutons and the Dijons – if there was, surely Celie would know and tell that to Laura, considering her vast knowledge of the Croutons. Furthermore, while it is possible, it was improbable that during her short life span, Sarah could give birth to three children in a row.