Earlier, I came across a theory that Inspector Legrasse suffered mental health issues following the Bayou raid, either from the raid itself, having the Cthulhu statue in his possession, or the cult attempting to recover the statue. While popular perception is that all Lovecraft’s heroes go insane, I didn’t recall Legrasse suffering a collapse. Rereading the story again revealed the inspector was potentially even less traumatized than I thought.
When Legrasse attends the 1908 meeting of the American Archeological Society, he is described as “scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offering created”. The report goes on to say indicate that he lent the statue to Professor Webb, who kept it until his death. While mental trauma can present in many ways, not all of them extreme or chronic, surprise at everyone being so interested strongly suggests Legrasse didn’t consider the ritual as significant in the way someone who was still traumatized might.
The story does mention one of the investigators being affected by witnessing the ritual:
“It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which induced one of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal responses to the ritual from some far and unillumined spot deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. This man, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative.”
This contrasts with the narrator’s interview of Legrasse many years later which gained “no more than a detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written”; this consistency over many years suggests a lack of trauma emerging after the event.
The statue ends up with Legrasse because it was returned to him on Professor Webb’s death. While he perhaps technically should have returned it to Police evidence lock up at that point, the investigation into the Bayou ritual and any subsequent prosecutions were long over so, while Lovecraft does not mention either way, it is entirely probable Legrasse was allowed to keep it as a memento of one of his strangest cases rather than because of an ongoing obsession with the case.
Lovecraft’s narrator states that “Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone”; as the narrator believed the cult was acting against those aware of it, so would be predisposed to mention even debatable evidence, this flat statement that the cult didn’t bother Legrasse strongly suggests they didn’t attempt to recover the statue.
Therefore, while it is possible Legrasse was more shaken than the story presents and was hiding it behind a ‘stiff upper lip’, his behaviour and subsequent life—in contrast to many of those mentioned in the story—displays no sign of trauma or later cult interest. A case could be made that he stole the statue, but even that is tenuous given it was tacitly accepted police detectives might keep bits of closed cases.
In fact, Legrasse comes out of his meeting with cosmic horror so well compared even to recurring characters such as Randolph Carter that part of me now wonders if he, and not Carter, was Lovecraft’s Mary Sue.