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Les Miserables

Les Miserables

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Published by: Cristian Rusu on Apr 07, 2013
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Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood

Published by Planet eBook. Visit the site to download free eBooks of classic literature, books and novels. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial 3.0 United States License.


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So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century— the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light— are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Miserables cannot fail to be of use. HAUTEVILLE HOUSE, 1862. FANTINE


Les Miserables


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In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D—— He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806. Although this detail has no connection whatever with the real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, to mention here the various rumors and remarks which had been in circulation about him from the very moment when he arrived in the diocese. True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do. M. Myriel was the son of a councillor of the Parliament of Aix; hence he belonged to the nobility of the bar. It was said that his father, destining him to be the heir of his own post, had married him at a very early age, eighteen or twenty, in accordance with a custom which is rather widely prevalent in parliamentary families. In spite of this marriage, however, it was said that Charles Myriel created a great deal of talk. He was well formed, though rather short in stature, elegant, graceful, intelligent; the whole of the first portion of his life
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had been devoted to the world and to gallantry. The Revolution came; events succeeded each other with precipitation; the parliamentary families, decimated, pursued, hunted down, were dispersed. M. Charles Myriel emigrated to Italy at the very beginning of the Revolution. There his wife died of a malady of the chest, from which she had long suffered. He had no children. What took place next in the fate of M. Myriel? The ruin of the French society of the olden days, the fall of his own family, the tragic spectacles of ‘93, which were, perhaps, even more alarming to the emigrants who viewed them from a distance, with the magnifying powers of terror,—did these cause the ideas of renunciation and solitude to germinate in him? Was he, in the midst of these distractions, these affections which absorbed his life, suddenly smitten with one of those mysterious and terrible blows which sometimes overwhelm, by striking to his heart, a man whom public catastrophes would not shake, by striking at his existence and his fortune? No one could have told: all that was known was, that when he returned from Italy he was a priest. In 1804, M. Myriel was the Cure of B—— [Brignolles]. He was already advanced in years, and lived in a very retired manner. About the epoch of the coronation, some petty affair connected with his curacy—just what, is not precisely known—took him to Paris. Among other powerful persons to whom he went to solicit aid for his parishioners was M. le Cardinal Fesch. One day, when the Emperor had come to visit his uncle, the worthy Cure, who was waiting
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in the anteroom, found himself present when His Majesty passed. Napoleon, on finding himself observed with a certain curiosity by this old man, turned round and said abruptly:— ‘Who is this good man who is staring at me?’ ‘Sire,’ said M. Myriel, ‘you are looking at a good man, and I at a great man. Each of us can profit by it.’ That very evening, the Emperor asked the Cardinal the name of the Cure, and some time afterwards M. Myriel was utterly astonished to learn that he had been appointed Bishop of D—— What truth was there, after all, in the stories which were invented as to the early portion of M. Myriel’s life? No one knew. Very few families had been acquainted with the Myriel family before the Revolution. M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a little town, where there are many mouths which talk, and very few heads which think. He was obliged to undergo it although he was a bishop, and because he was a bishop. But after all, the rumors with which his name was connected were rumors only,—noise, sayings, words; less than words— palabres, as the energetic language of the South expresses it. However that may be, after nine years of episcopal power and of residence in D——, all the stories and subjects of conversation which engross petty towns and petty people at the outset had fallen into profound oblivion. No one would have dared to mention them; no one would have dared to recall them.
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M. Myriel had arrived at D—— accompanied by an elderly spinster, Mademoiselle Baptistine, who was his sister, and ten years his junior. Their only domestic was a female servant of the same age as Mademoiselle Baptistine, and named Madame Magloire, who, after having been the servant of M. le Cure, now assumed the double title of maid to Mademoiselle and housekeeper to Monseigneur. Mademoiselle Baptistine was a long, pale, thin, gentle creature; she realized the ideal expressed by the word ‘respectable”; for it seems that a woman must needs be a mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds, had finally conferred upon her a sort of pallor and transparency; and as she advanced in years she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness. What had been leanness in her youth had become transparency in her maturity; and this diaphaneity allowed the angel to be seen. She was a soul rather than a virgin. Her person seemed made of a shadow; there was hardly sufficient body to provide for sex; a little matter enclosing a light; large eyes forever drooping;— a mere pretext for a soul’s remaining on the earth. Madame Magloire was a little, fat, white old woman, corpulent and bustling; always out of breath,—in the first place, because of her activity, and in the next, because of her asthma. On his arrival, M. Myriel was installed in the episcopal palace with the honors required by the Imperial decrees,
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which class a bishop immediately after a major-general. The mayor and the president paid the first call on him, and he, in turn, paid the first call on the general and the prefect. The installation over, the town waited to see its bishop at work.


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The episcopal palace of D—— adjoins the hospital. The episcopal palace was a huge and beautiful house, built of stone at the beginning of the last century by M. Henri Puget, Doctor of Theology of the Faculty of Paris, Abbe of Simore, who had been Bishop of D—— in 1712. This palace was a genuine seignorial residence. Everything about it had a grand air,—the apartments of the Bishop, the drawing-rooms, the chambers, the principal courtyard, which was very large, with walks encircling it under arcades in the old Florentine fashion, and gardens planted with magnificent trees. In the dining-room, a long and superb gallery which was situated on the ground-floor and opened on the gardens, M. Henri Puget had entertained in state, on July 29, 1714, My Lords Charles Brulart de Genlis, archbishop; Prince d’Embrun; Antoine de Mesgrigny, the capuchin, Bishop of Grasse; Philippe de Vendome, Grand Prior of France, Abbe of Saint Honore de Lerins; Francois de Berton de Crillon, bishop, Baron de Vence; Cesar de SaFree eBooks at Planet eBook.com 11

bran de Forcalquier, bishop, Seignor of Glandeve; and Jean Soanen, Priest of the Oratory, preacher in ordinary to the king, bishop, Seignor of Senez. The portraits of these seven reverend personages decorated this apartment; and this memorable date, the 29th of July, 1714, was there engraved in letters of gold on a table of white marble. The hospital was a low and narrow building of a single story, with a small garden. Three days after his arrival, the Bishop visited the hospital. The visit ended, he had the director requested to be so good as to come to his house. ‘Monsieur the director of the hospital,’ said he to him, ‘how many sick people have you at the present moment?’ ‘Twenty-six, Monseigneur.’ ‘That was the number which I counted,’ said the Bishop. ‘The beds,’ pursued the director, ‘are very much crowded against each other.’ ‘That is what I observed.’ ‘The halls are nothing but rooms, and it is with difficulty that the air can be changed in them.’ ‘So it seems to me.’ ‘And then, when there is a ray of sun, the garden is very small for the convalescents.’ ‘That was what I said to myself.’ ‘In case of epidemics,—we have had the typhus fever this year; we had the sweating sickness two years ago, and a hundred patients at times,—we know not what to do.’ ‘That is the thought which occurred to me.’ ‘What would you have, Monseigneur?’ said the director.
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‘One must resign one’s self.’ This conversation took place in the gallery dining-room on the ground-floor. The Bishop remained silent for a moment; then he turned abruptly to the director of the hospital. ‘Monsieur,’ said he, ‘how many beds do you think this hall alone would hold?’ ‘Monseigneur’s dining-room?’ exclaimed the stupefied director. The Bishop cast a glance round the apartment, and seemed to be taking measures and calculations with his eyes. ‘It would hold full twenty beds,’ said he, as though speaking to himself. Then, raising his voice:— ‘Hold, Monsieur the director of the hospital, I will tell you something. There is evidently a mistake here. There are thirty-six of you, in five or six small rooms. There are three of us here, and we have room for sixty. There is some mistake, I tell you; you have my house, and I have yours. Give me back my house; you are at home here.’ On the following day the thirty-six patients were installed in the Bishop’s palace, and the Bishop was settled in the hospital. M. Myriel had no property, his family having been ruined by the Revolution. His sister was in receipt of a yearly income of five hundred francs, which sufficed for her personal wants at the vicarage. M. Myriel received from the State, in his quality of bishop, a salary of fifteen thousand francs. On the very day when he took up his abode in the
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hospital, M. Myriel settled on the disposition of this sum once for all, in the following manner. We transcribe here a note made by his own hand:— NOTE ON THE REGULATION OF MY HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES. For the little seminary … … … …. . 1,500 livres Society of the mission … … … …. . 100 ‘ For the Lazarists of Montdidier … … …. 100 ‘ Seminary for foreign missions in Paris … … 200 ‘ Congregation of the Holy Spirit … … …. 150 ‘ Religious establishments of the Holy Land …. . 100 ‘ Charitable maternity societies … … …. 300 ‘ Extra, for that of Arles … … … …. 50 ‘ Work for the amelioration of prisons … …. 400 ‘ Work for the relief and delivery of prisoners … 500 ‘ To liberate fathers of families incarcerated for debt 1,000 ‘ Addition to the salary of the poor teachers of the diocese … … … … … …. 2000 ‘ Public granary of the Hautes-Alpes … …. . 100 ‘ Congregation of the ladies of D——, of Manosque, and of Sisteron, for the gratuitous instruction of poor girls … … … … … …. . 1,500 ‘ For the poor … … … … … …. 6,000 ‘ My personal expenses … … … … … 1,000 ‘ ——— Total … … … … … …. . 15,000 ‘
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M. Myriel made no change in this arrangement during the entire period that he occupied the see of D—— As has been seen, he called it regulating his household expenses. This arrangement was accepted with absolute submission by Mademoiselle Baptistine. This holy woman regarded Monseigneur of D—— as at one and the same time her brother and her bishop, her friend according to the flesh and her superior according to the Church. She simply loved and venerated him. When he spoke, she bowed; when he acted, she yielded her adherence. Their only servant, Madame Magloire, grumbled a little. It will be observed that Monsieur the Bishop had reserved for himself only one thousand livres, which, added to the pension of Mademoiselle Baptistine, made fifteen hundred francs a year. On these fifteen hundred francs these two old women and the old man subsisted. And when a village curate came to D——, the Bishop still found means to entertain him, thanks to the severe economy of Madame Magloire, and to the intelligent administration of Mademoiselle Baptistine. One day, after he had been in D—— about three months, the Bishop said:— ‘And still I am quite cramped with it all!’ ‘I should think so!’ exclaimed Madame Magloire. ‘Monseigneur has not even claimed the allowance which the department owes him for the expense of his carriage in town, and for his journeys about the diocese. It was customary for bishops in former days.’ ‘Hold!’ cried the Bishop, ‘you are quite right, Madame
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Magloire.’ And he made his demand. Some time afterwards the General Council took this demand under consideration, and voted him an annual sum of three thousand francs, under this heading: Allowance to M. the Bishop for expenses of carriage, expenses of posting, and expenses of pastoral visits. This provoked a great outcry among the local burgesses; and a senator of the Empire, a former member of the Council of the Five Hundred which favored the 18 Brumaire, and who was provided with a magnificent senatorial office in the vicinity of the town of D——, wrote to M. Bigot de Preameneu, the minister of public worship, a very angry and confidential note on the subject, from which we extract these authentic lines:— ‘Expenses of carriage? What can be done with it in a town of less than four thousand inhabitants? Expenses of journeys? What is the use of these trips, in the first place? Next, how can the posting be accomplished in these mountainous parts? There are no roads. No one travels otherwise than on horseback. Even the bridge between Durance and Chateau-Arnoux can barely support ox-teams. These priests are all thus, greedy and avaricious. This man played the good priest when he first came. Now he does like the rest; he must have a carriage and a posting-chaise, he must have luxuries, like the bishops of the olden days. Oh, all this priesthood! Things will not go well, M. le Comte, until the Emperor has freed us from these black-capped rascals. Down with the Pope! [Matters were getting embroiled with Rome.] For my
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part, I am for Caesar alone.’ Etc., etc. On the other hand, this affair afforded great delight to Madame Magloire. ‘Good,’ said she to Mademoiselle Baptistine; ‘Monseigneur began with other people, but he has had to wind up with himself, after all. He has regulated all his charities. Now here are three thousand francs for us! At last!’ That same evening the Bishop wrote out and handed to his sister a memorandum conceived in the following terms:— EXPENSES OF CARRIAGE AND CIRCUIT. For furnishing meat soup to the patients in the hospital. 1,500 livres For the maternity charitable society of Aix … …. 250 ‘ For the maternity charitable society of Draguignan … 250 ‘ For foundlings … … … … … … … 500 ‘ For orphans … … … … … … …. 500 ‘ ——Total … … … … … … …. . 3,000 ‘ Such was M. Myriel’s budget. As for the chance episcopal perquisites, the fees for marriage bans, dispensations, private baptisms, sermons, benedictions, of churches or chapels, marriages, etc., the Bishop levied them on the wealthy with all the more asperity, since he bestowed them on the needy. After a time, offerings of money flowed in. Those who
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had and those who lacked knocked at M. Myriel’s door,— the latter in search of the alms which the former came to deposit. In less than a year the Bishop had become the treasurer of all benevolence and the cashier of all those in distress. Considerable sums of money passed through his hands, but nothing could induce him to make any change whatever in his mode of life, or add anything superfluous to his bare necessities. Far from it. As there is always more wretchedness below than there is brotherhood above, all was given away, so to speak, before it was received. It was like water on dry soil; no matter how much money he received, he never had any. Then he stripped himself. The usage being that bishops shall announce their baptismal names at the head of their charges and their pastoral letters, the poor people of the country-side had selected, with a sort of affectionate instinct, among the names and prenomens of their bishop, that which had a meaning for them; and they never called him anything except Monseigneur Bienvenu [Welcome]. We will follow their example, and will also call him thus when we have occasion to name him. Moreover, this appellation pleased him. ‘I like that name,’ said he. ‘Bienvenu makes up for the Monseigneur.’ We do not claim that the portrait herewith presented is probable; we confine ourselves to stating that it resembles the original.


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The Bishop did not omit his pastoral visits because he had converted his carriage into alms. The diocese of D—— is a fatiguing one. There are very few plains and a great many mountains; hardly any roads, as we have just seen; thirty-two curacies, forty-one vicarships, and two hundred and eightyfive auxiliary chapels. To visit all these is quite a task. The Bishop managed to do it. He went on foot when it was in the neighborhood, in a tilted spring-cart when it was on the plain, and on a donkey in the mountains. The two old women accompanied him. When the trip was too hard for them, he went alone. One day he arrived at Senez, which is an ancient episcopal city. He was mounted on an ass. His purse, which was very dry at that moment, did not permit him any other equipage. The mayor of the town came to receive him at the gate of the town, and watched him dismount from his ass, with scandalized eyes. Some of the citizens were laughing around him. ‘Monsieur the Mayor,’ said the Bishop, ‘and Messieurs
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Citizens, I perceive that I shock you. You think it very arrogant in a poor priest to ride an animal which was used by Jesus Christ. I have done so from necessity, I assure you, and not from vanity.’ In the course of these trips he was kind and indulgent, and talked rather than preached. He never went far in search of his arguments and his examples. He quoted to the inhabitants of one district the example of a neighboring district. In the cantons where they were harsh to the poor, he said: ‘Look at the people of Briancon! They have conferred on the poor, on widows and orphans, the right to have their meadows mown three days in advance of every one else. They rebuild their houses for them gratuitously when they are ruined. Therefore it is a country which is blessed by God. For a whole century, there has not been a single murderer among them.’ In villages which were greedy for profit and harvest, he said: ‘Look at the people of Embrun! If, at the harvest season, the father of a family has his son away on service in the army, and his daughters at service in the town, and if he is ill and incapacitated, the cure recommends him to the prayers of the congregation; and on Sunday, after the mass, all the inhabitants of the village—men, women, and children—go to the poor man’s field and do his harvesting for him, and carry his straw and his grain to his granary.’ To families divided by questions of money and inheritance he said: ‘Look at the mountaineers of Devolny, a country so wild that the nightingale is not heard there once in fifty years. Well, when the father of a family dies, the boys go off to seek their for20 Les Miserables

tunes, leaving the property to the girls, so that they may find husbands.’ To the cantons which had a taste for lawsuits, and where the farmers ruined themselves in stamped paper, he said: ‘Look at those good peasants in the valley of Queyras! There are three thousand souls of them. Mon Dieu! it is like a little republic. Neither judge nor bailiff is known there. The mayor does everything. He allots the imposts, taxes each person conscientiously, judges quarrels for nothing, divides inheritances without charge, pronounces sentences gratuitously; and he is obeyed, because he is a just man among simple men.’ To villages where he found no schoolmaster, he quoted once more the people of Queyras: ‘Do you know how they manage?’ he said. ‘Since a little country of a dozen or fifteen hearths cannot always support a teacher, they have school-masters who are paid by the whole valley, who make the round of the villages, spending a week in this one, ten days in that, and instruct them. These teachers go to the fairs. I have seen them there. They are to be recognized by the quill pens which they wear in the cord of their hat. Those who teach reading only have one pen; those who teach reading and reckoning have two pens; those who teach reading, reckoning, and Latin have three pens. But what a disgrace to be ignorant! Do like the people of Queyras!’ Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally; in default of examples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, with few phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the real eloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced himself, he was persuasive.
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His conversation was gay and affable. He put himself on a level with the two old women who had passed their lives beside him. When he laughed, it was the laugh of a schoolboy. Madame Magloire liked to call him Your Grace [Votre Grandeur]. One day he rose from his arm-chair, and went to his library in search of a book. This book was on one of the upper shelves. As the bishop was rather short of stature, he could not reach it. ‘Madame Magloire,’ said he, ‘fetch me a chair. My greatness [grandeur] does not reach as far as that shelf.’ One of his distant relatives, Madame la Comtesse de Lo, rarely allowed an opportunity to escape of enumerating, in his presence, what she designated as ‘the expectations’ of her three sons. She had numerous relatives, who were very old and near to death, and of whom her sons were the natural heirs. The youngest of the three was to receive from a grand-aunt a good hundred thousand livres of income; the second was the heir by entail to the title of the Duke,
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his uncle; the eldest was to succeed to the peerage of his grandfather. The Bishop was accustomed to listen in silence to these innocent and pardonable maternal boasts. On one occasion, however, he appeared to be more thoughtful than usual, while Madame de Lo was relating once again the details of all these inheritances and all these ‘expectations.’ She interrupted herself impatiently: ‘Mon Dieu, cousin! What are you thinking about?’ ‘I am thinking,’ replied the Bishop, ‘of a singular remark, which is to be found, I believe, in St. Augustine,—‘Place your hopes in the man from whom you do not inherit.’’ At another time, on receiving a notification of the decease of a gentleman of the country-side, wherein not only the dignities of the dead man, but also the feudal and noble qualifications of all his relatives, spread over an entire page: ‘What a stout back Death has!’ he exclaimed. ‘What a strange burden of titles is cheerfully imposed on him, and how much wit must men have, in order thus to press the tomb into the service of vanity!’ He was gifted, on occasion, with a gentle raillery, which almost always concealed a serious meaning. In the course of one Lent, a youthful vicar came to D——, and preached in the cathedral. He was tolerably eloquent. The subject of his sermon was charity. He urged the rich to give to the poor, in order to avoid hell, which he depicted in the most frightful manner of which he was capable, and to win paradise, which he represented as charming and desirable. Among the audience there was a wealthy retired merchant, who was somewhat of a usurer, named M. Geborand, who had
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amassed two millions in the manufacture of coarse cloth, serges, and woollen galloons. Never in his whole life had M. Geborand bestowed alms on any poor wretch. After the delivery of that sermon, it was observed that he gave a sou every Sunday to the poor old beggar-women at the door of the cathedral. There were six of them to share it. One day the Bishop caught sight of him in the act of bestowing this charity, and said to his sister, with a smile, ‘There is M. Geborand purchasing paradise for a sou.’ When it was a question of charity, he was not to be rebuffed even by a refusal, and on such occasions he gave utterance to remarks which induced reflection. Once he was begging for the poor in a drawing-room of the town; there was present the Marquis de Champtercier, a wealthy and avaricious old man, who contrived to be, at one and the same time, an ultra-royalist and an ultra-Voltairian. This variety of man has actually existed. When the Bishop came to him, he touched his arm, ‘You must give me something, M. le Marquis.’ The Marquis turned round and answered dryly, ‘I have poor people of my own, Monseigneur.’ ‘Give them to me,’ replied the Bishop. One day he preached the following sermon in the cathedral:— ‘My very dear brethren, my good friends, there are thirteen hundred and twenty thousand peasants’ dwellings in France which have but three openings; eighteen hundred and seventeen thousand hovels which have but two openings, the door and one window; and three hundred and forty-six thousand cabins besides which have but one open24 Les Miserables

ing, the door. And this arises from a thing which is called the tax on doors and windows. Just put poor families, old women and little children, in those buildings, and behold the fevers and maladies which result! Alas! God gives air to men; the law sells it to them. I do not blame the law, but I bless God. In the department of the Isere, in the Var, in the two departments of the Alpes, the Hautes, and the Basses, the peasants have not even wheelbarrows; they transport their manure on the backs of men; they have no candles, and they burn resinous sticks, and bits of rope dipped in pitch. That is the state of affairs throughout the whole of the hilly country of Dauphine. They make bread for six months at one time; they bake it with dried cow-dung. In the winter they break this bread up with an axe, and they soak it for twenty-four hours, in order to render it eatable. My brethren, have pity! behold the suffering on all sides of you!’ Born a Provencal, he easily familiarized himself with the dialect of the south. He said, ‘En be! moussu, ses sage?’ as in lower Languedoc; ‘Onte anaras passa?’ as in the BassesAlpes; ‘Puerte un bouen moutu embe un bouen fromage grase,’ as in upper Dauphine. This pleased the people extremely, and contributed not a little to win him access to all spirits. He was perfectly at home in the thatched cottage and in the mountains. He understood how to say the grandest things in the most vulgar of idioms. As he spoke all tongues, he entered into all hearts. Moreover, he was the same towards people of the world and towards the lower classes. He condemned nothing in haste and without taking circumstances into account. He
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said, ‘Examine the road over which the fault has passed.’ Being, as he described himself with a smile, an ex-sinner, he had none of the asperities of austerity, and he professed, with a good deal of distinctness, and without the frown of the ferociously virtuous, a doctrine which may be summed up as follows:— ‘Man has upon him his flesh, which is at once his burden and his temptation. He drags it with him and yields to it. He must watch it, cheek it, repress it, and obey it only at the last extremity. There may be some fault even in this obedience; but the fault thus committed is venial; it is a fall, but a fall on the knees which may terminate in prayer. ‘To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man is the rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright. ‘The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at all is the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subject to sin. Sin is a gravitation.’ When he saw everyone exclaiming very loudly, and growing angry very quickly, ‘Oh! oh!’ he said, with a smile; ‘to all appearance, this is a great crime which all the world commits. These are hypocrisies which have taken fright, and are in haste to make protest and to put themselves under shelter.’ He was indulgent towards women and poor people, on whom the burden of human society rest. He said, ‘The faults of women, of children, of the feeble, the indigent, and the ignorant, are the fault of the husbands, the fathers, the masters, the strong, the rich, and the wise.’ He said, moreover, ‘Teach those who are ignorant as
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many things as possible; society is culpable, in that it does not afford instruction gratis; it is responsible for the night which it produces. This soul is full of shadow; sin is therein committed. The guilty one is not the person who has committed the sin, but the person who has created the shadow.’ It will be perceived that he had a peculiar manner of his own of judging things: I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospel. One day he heard a criminal case, which was in preparation and on the point of trial, discussed in a drawing-room. A wretched man, being at the end of his resources, had coined counterfeit money, out of love for a woman, and for the child which he had had by her. Counterfeiting was still punishable with death at that epoch. The woman had been arrested in the act of passing the first false piece made by the man. She was held, but there were no proofs except against her. She alone could accuse her lover, and destroy him by her confession. She denied; they insisted. She persisted in her denial. Thereupon an idea occurred to the attorney for the crown. He invented an infidelity on the part of the lover, and succeeded, by means of fragments of letters cunningly presented, in persuading the unfortunate woman that she had a rival, and that the man was deceiving her. Thereupon, exasperated by jealousy, she denounced her lover, confessed all, proved all. The man was ruined. He was shortly to be tried at Aix with his accomplice. They were relating the matter, and each one was expressing enthusiasm over the cleverness of the magistrate. By bringing jealousy into play, he had caused
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the truth to burst forth in wrath, he had educed the justice of revenge. The Bishop listened to all this in silence. When they had finished, he inquired,— ‘Where are this man and woman to be tried?’ ‘At the Court of Assizes.’ He went on, ‘And where will the advocate of the crown be tried?’ A tragic event occurred at D—— A man was condemned to death for murder. He was a wretched fellow, not exactly educated, not exactly ignorant, who had been a mountebank at fairs, and a writer for the public. The town took a great interest in the trial. On the eve of the day fixed for the execution of the condemned man, the chaplain of the prison fell ill. A priest was needed to attend the criminal in his last moments. They sent for the cure. It seems that he refused to come, saying, ‘That is no affair of mine. I have nothing to do with that unpleasant task, and with that mountebank: I, too, am ill; and besides, it is not my place.’ This reply was reported to the Bishop, who said, ‘Monsieur le Cure is right: it is not his place; it is mine.’ He went instantly to the prison, descended to the cell of the ‘mountebank,’ called him by name, took him by the hand, and spoke to him. He passed the entire day with him, forgetful of food and sleep, praying to God for the soul of the condemned man, and praying the condemned man for his own. He told him the best truths, which are also the most simple. He was father, brother, friend; he was bishop only to bless. He taught him everything, encouraged and consoled him. The man was on the point of dying in despair. Death
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was an abyss to him. As he stood trembling on its mournful brink, he recoiled with horror. He was not sufficiently ignorant to be absolutely indifferent. His condemnation, which had been a profound shock, had, in a manner, broken through, here and there, that wall which separates us from the mystery of things, and which we call life. He gazed incessantly beyond this world through these fatal breaches, and beheld only darkness. The Bishop made him see light. On the following day, when they came to fetch the unhappy wretch, the Bishop was still there. He followed him, and exhibited himself to the eyes of the crowd in his purple camail and with his episcopal cross upon his neck, side by side with the criminal bound with cords. He mounted the tumbril with him, he mounted the scaffold with him. The sufferer, who had been so gloomy and cast down on the preceding day, was radiant. He felt that his soul was reconciled, and he hoped in God. The Bishop embraced him, and at the moment when the knife was about to fall, he said to him: ‘God raises from the dead him whom man slays; he whom his brothers have rejected finds his Father once more. Pray, believe, enter into life: the Father is there.’ When he descended from the scaffold, there was something in his look which made the people draw aside to let him pass. They did not know which was most worthy of admiration, his pallor or his serenity. On his return to the humble dwelling, which he designated, with a smile, as his palace, he said to his sister, ‘I have just officiated pontifically.’ Since the most sublime things are often those which are
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the least understood, there were people in the town who said, when commenting on this conduct of the Bishop, ‘It is affectation.’ This, however, was a remark which was confined to the drawing-rooms. The populace, which perceives no jest in holy deeds, was touched, and admired him. As for the Bishop, it was a shock to him to have beheld the guillotine, and it was a long time before he recovered from it. In fact, when the scaffold is there, all erected and prepared, it has something about it which produces hallucination. One may feel a certain indifference to the death penalty, one may refrain from pronouncing upon it, from saying yes or no, so long as one has not seen a guillotine with one’s own eyes: but if one encounters one of them, the shock is violent; one is forced to decide, and to take part for or against. Some admire it, like de Maistre; others execrate it, like Beccaria. The guillotine is the concretion of the law; it is called vindicte; it is not neutral, and it does not permit you to remain neutral. He who sees it shivers with the most mysterious of shivers. All social problems erect their interrogation point around this chopping-knife. The scaffold is a vision. The scaffold is not a piece of carpentry; the scaffold is not a machine; the scaffold is not an inert bit of mechanism constructed of wood, iron and cords. It seems as though it were a being, possessed of I know not what sombre initiative; one would say that this piece of carpenter’s work saw, that this machine heard, that this mechanism understood, that this wood, this iron, and these
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cords were possessed of will. In the frightful meditation into which its presence casts the soul the scaffold appears in terrible guise, and as though taking part in what is going on. The scaffold is the accomplice of the executioner; it devours, it eats flesh, it drinks blood; the scaffold is a sort of monster fabricated by the judge and the carpenter, a spectre which seems to live with a horrible vitality composed of all the death which it has inflicted. Therefore, the impression was terrible and profound; on the day following the execution, and on many succeeding days, the Bishop appeared to be crushed. The almost violent serenity of the funereal moment had disappeared; the phantom of social justice tormented him. He, who generally returned from all his deeds with a radiant satisfaction, seemed to be reproaching himself. At times he talked to himself, and stammered lugubrious monologues in a low voice. This is one which his sister overheard one evening and preserved: ‘I did not think that it was so monstrous. It is wrong to become absorbed in the divine law to such a degree as not to perceive human law. Death belongs to God alone. By what right do men touch that unknown thing?’ In course of time these impressions weakened and probably vanished. Nevertheless, it was observed that the Bishop thenceforth avoided passing the place of execution. M. Myriel could be summoned at any hour to the bedside of the sick and dying. He did not ignore the fact that therein lay his greatest duty and his greatest labor. Widowed and orphaned families had no need to summon him; he came of his own accord. He understood how to sit down and hold
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his peace for long hours beside the man who had lost the wife of his love, of the mother who had lost her child. As he knew the moment for silence he knew also the moment for speech. Oh, admirable consoler! He sought not to efface sorrow by forgetfulness, but to magnify and dignify it by hope. He said:— ‘Have a care of the manner in which you turn towards the dead. Think not of that which perishes. Gaze steadily. You will perceive the living light of your well-beloved dead in the depths of heaven.’ He knew that faith is wholesome. He sought to counsel and calm the despairing man, by pointing out to him the resigned man, and to transform the grief which gazes upon a grave by showing him the grief which fixes its gaze upon a star.


Les Miserables

The private life of M. Myriel was filled with the same thoughts as his public life. The voluntary poverty in which the Bishop of D—— lived, would have been a solemn and charming sight for any one who could have viewed it close at hand. Like all old men, and like the majority of thinkers, he slept little. This brief slumber was profound. In the morning he meditated for an hour, then he said his mass, either at the cathedral or in his own house. His mass said, he broke his fast on rye bread dipped in the milk of his own cows. Then he set to work. A Bishop is a very busy man: he must every day receive the secretary of the bishopric, who is generally a canon, and nearly every day his vicars-general. He has congregations to reprove, privileges to grant, a whole ecclesiastical library to examine,— prayer-books, diocesan catechisms, books of
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hours, etc.,—charges to write, sermons to authorize, cures and mayors to reconcile, a clerical correspondence, an administrative correspondence; on one side the State, on the other the Holy See; and a thousand matters of business. What time was left to him, after these thousand details of business, and his offices and his breviary, he bestowed first on the necessitous, the sick, and the afflicted; the time which was left to him from the afflicted, the sick, and the necessitous, he devoted to work. Sometimes he dug in his garden; again, he read or wrote. He had but one word for both these kinds of toil; he called them gardening. ‘The mind is a garden,’ said he. Towards mid-day, when the weather was fine, he went forth and took a stroll in the country or in town, often entering lowly dwellings. He was seen walking alone, buried in his own thoughts, his eyes cast down, supporting himself on his long cane, clad in his wadded purple garment of silk, which was very warm, wearing purple stockings inside his coarse shoes, and surmounted by a flat hat which allowed three golden tassels of large bullion to droop from its three points. It was a perfect festival wherever he appeared. One would have said that his presence had something warming and luminous about it. The children and the old people came out to the doorsteps for the Bishop as for the sun. He bestowed his blessing, and they blessed him. They pointed out his house to any one who was in need of anything. Here and there he halted, accosted the little boys and girls, and smiled upon the mothers. He visited the poor so
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long as he had any money; when he no longer had any, he visited the rich. As he made his cassocks last a long while, and did not wish to have it noticed, he never went out in the town without his wadded purple cloak. This inconvenienced him somewhat in summer. On his return, he dined. The dinner resembled his breakfast. At half-past eight in the evening he supped with his sister, Madame Magloire standing behind them and serving them at table. Nothing could be more frugal than this repast. If, however, the Bishop had one of his cures to supper, Madame Magloire took advantage of the opportunity to serve Monseigneur with some excellent fish from the lake, or with some fine game from the mountains. Every cure furnished the pretext for a good meal: the Bishop did not interfere. With that exception, his ordinary diet consisted only of vegetables boiled in water, and oil soup. Thus it was said in the town, when the Bishop does not indulge in the cheer of a cure, he indulges in the cheer of a trappist. After supper he conversed for half an hour with Mademoiselle Baptistine and Madame Magloire; then he retired to his own room and set to writing, sometimes on loose sheets, and again on the margin of some folio. He was a man of letters and rather learned. He left behind him five or six very curious manuscripts; among others, a dissertation on this verse in Genesis, In the beginning, the spirit of God floated upon the waters. With this verse he compares three texts: the Arabic verse which says, The winds of God
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blew; Flavius Josephus who says, A wind from above was precipitated upon the earth; and finally, the Chaldaic paraphrase of Onkelos, which renders it, A wind coming from God blew upon the face of the waters. In another dissertation, he examines the theological works of Hugo, Bishop of Ptolemais, great-grand-uncle to the writer of this book, and establishes the fact, that to this bishop must be attributed the divers little works published during the last century, under the pseudonym of Barleycourt. Sometimes, in the midst of his reading, no matter what the book might be which he had in his hand, he would suddenly fall into a profound meditation, whence he only emerged to write a few lines on the pages of the volume itself. These lines have often no connection whatever with the book which contains them. We now have under our eyes a note written by him on the margin of a quarto entitled Correspondence of Lord Germain with Generals Clinton, Cornwallis, and the Admirals on the American station. Versailles, Poincot, book-seller; and Paris, Pissot, bookseller, Quai des Augustins. Here is the note:— ‘Oh, you who are! ‘Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful; the Maccabees call you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls you liberty; Baruch calls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom and Truth; John calls you Light; the Books of Kings call you Lord; Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Sanctity; Esdras, Justice; the creation calls you God; man calls you Father; but Solomon calls you Compassion,
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and that is the most beautiful of all your names.’ Toward nine o’clock in the evening the two women retired and betook themselves to their chambers on the first floor, leaving him alone until morning on the ground floor. It is necessary that we should, in this place, give an exact idea of the dwelling of the Bishop of D——

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The house in which he lived consisted, as we have said, of a ground floor, and one story above; three rooms on the ground floor, three chambers on the first, and an attic above. Behind the house was a garden, a quarter of an acre in extent. The two women occupied the first floor; the Bishop was lodged below. The first room, opening on the street, served him as dining-room, the second was his bedroom, and the third his oratory. There was no exit possible from this oratory, except by passing through the bedroom, nor from the bedroom, without passing through the dining-room. At the end of the suite, in the oratory, there was a detached alcove with a bed, for use in cases of hospitality. The Bishop offered this bed to country curates whom business or the requirements of their parishes brought to D—— The pharmacy of the hospital, a small building which had been added to the house, and abutted on the garden, had been transformed into a kitchen and cellar. In addition to this, there was in the garden a stable, which had formerly
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been the kitchen of the hospital, and in which the Bishop kept two cows. No matter what the quantity of milk they gave, he invariably sent half of it every morning to the sick people in the hospital. ‘I am paying my tithes,’ he said. His bedroom was tolerably large, and rather difficult to warm in bad weather. As wood is extremely dear at D——, he hit upon the idea of having a compartment of boards constructed in the cow-shed. Here he passed his evenings during seasons of severe cold: he called it his winter salon. In this winter salon, as in the dining-room, there was no other furniture than a square table in white wood, and four straw-seated chairs. In addition to this the dining-room was ornamented with an antique sideboard, painted pink, in water colors. Out of a similar sideboard, properly draped with white napery and imitation lace, the Bishop had constructed the altar which decorated his oratory. His wealthy penitents and the sainted women of D—— had more than once assessed themselves to raise the money for a new altar for Monseigneur’s oratory; on each occasion he had taken the money and had given it to the poor. ‘The most beautiful of altars,’ he said, ‘is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God.’ In his oratory there were two straw prie-Dieu, and there was an arm-chair, also in straw, in his bedroom. When, by chance, he received seven or eight persons at one time, the prefect, or the general, or the staff of the regiment in garrison, or several pupils from the little seminary, the chairs had to be fetched from the winter salon in the stable, the prie-Dieu from the oratory, and the arm-chair from the
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bedroom: in this way as many as eleven chairs could be collected for the visitors. A room was dismantled for each new guest. It sometimes happened that there were twelve in the party; the Bishop then relieved the embarrassment of the situation by standing in front of the chimney if it was winter, or by strolling in the garden if it was summer. There was still another chair in the detached alcove, but the straw was half gone from it, and it had but three legs, so that it was of service only when propped against the wall. Mademoiselle Baptistine had also in her own room a very large easy-chair of wood, which had formerly been gilded, and which was covered with flowered pekin; but they had been obliged to hoist this bergere up to the first story through the window, as the staircase was too narrow; it could not, therefore, be reckoned among the possibilities in the way of furniture. Mademoiselle Baptistine’s ambition had been to be able to purchase a set of drawing-room furniture in yellow Utrecht velvet, stamped with a rose pattern, and with mahogany in swan’s neck style, with a sofa. But this would have cost five hundred francs at least, and in view of the fact that she had only been able to lay by forty-two francs and ten sous for this purpose in the course of five years, she had ended by renouncing the idea. However, who is there who has attained his ideal? Nothing is more easy to present to the imagination than the Bishop’s bedchamber. A glazed door opened on the garden; opposite this was the bed,—a hospital bed of iron, with
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a canopy of green serge; in the shadow of the bed, behind a curtain, were the utensils of the toilet, which still betrayed the elegant habits of the man of the world: there were two doors, one near the chimney, opening into the oratory; the other near the bookcase, opening into the dining-room. The bookcase was a large cupboard with glass doors filled with books; the chimney was of wood painted to represent marble, and habitually without fire. In the chimney stood a pair of firedogs of iron, ornamented above with two garlanded vases, and flutings which had formerly been silvered with silver leaf, which was a sort of episcopal luxury; above the chimney-piece hung a crucifix of copper, with the silver worn off, fixed on a background of threadbare velvet in a wooden frame from which the gilding had fallen; near the glass door a large table with an inkstand, loaded with a confusion of papers and with huge volumes; before the table an arm-chair of straw; in front of the bed a prie-Dieu, borrowed from the oratory. Two portraits in oval frames were fastened to the wall on each side of the bed. Small gilt inscriptions on the plain surface of the cloth at the side of these figures indicated that the portraits represented, one the Abbe of Chaliot, bishop of Saint Claude; the other, the Abbe Tourteau, vicar-general of Agde, abbe of Grand-Champ, order of Citeaux, diocese of Chartres. When the Bishop succeeded to this apartment, after the hospital patients, he had found these portraits there, and had left them. They were priests, and probably donors—two reasons for respecting them. All that he knew about these two persons was, that they had been appointed
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by the king, the one to his bishopric, the other to his benefice, on the same day, the 27th of April, 1785. Madame Magloire having taken the pictures down to dust, the Bishop had discovered these particulars written in whitish ink on a little square of paper, yellowed by time, and attached to the back of the portrait of the Abbe of Grand-Champ with four wafers. At his window he had an antique curtain of a coarse woollen stuff, which finally became so old, that, in order to avoid the expense of a new one, Madame Magloire was forced to take a large seam in the very middle of it. This seam took the form of a cross. The Bishop often called attention to it: ‘How delightful that is!’ he said. All the rooms in the house, without exception, those on the ground floor as well as those on the first floor, were white-washed, which is a fashion in barracks and hospitals. However, in their latter years, Madame Magloire discovered beneath the paper which had been washed over, paintings, ornamenting the apartment of Mademoiselle Baptistine, as we shall see further on. Before becoming a hospital, this house had been the ancient parliament house of the Bourgeois. Hence this decoration. The chambers were paved in red bricks, which were washed every week, with straw mats in front of all the beds. Altogether, this dwelling, which was attended to by the two women, was exquisitely clean from top to bottom. This was the sole luxury which the Bishop permitted. He said, ‘That takes nothing from the poor.’ It must be confessed, however, that he still retained
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from his former possessions six silver knives and forks and a soup-ladle, which Madame Magloire contemplated every day with delight, as they glistened splendidly upon the coarse linen cloth. And since we are now painting the Bishop of D—— as he was in reality, we must add that he had said more than once, ‘I find it difficult to renounce eating from silver dishes.’ To this silverware must be added two large candlesticks of massive silver, which he had inherited from a great-aunt. These candlesticks held two wax candles, and usually figured on the Bishop’s chimney-piece. When he had any one to dinner, Madame Magloire lighted the two candles and set the candlesticks on the table. In the Bishop’s own chamber, at the head of his bed, there was a small cupboard, in which Madame Magloire locked up the six silver knives and forks and the big spoon every night. But it is necessary to add, that the key was never removed. The garden, which had been rather spoiled by the ugly buildings which we have mentioned, was composed of four alleys in cross-form, radiating from a tank. Another walk made the circuit of the garden, and skirted the white wall which enclosed it. These alleys left behind them four square plots rimmed with box. In three of these, Madame Magloire cultivated vegetables; in the fourth, the Bishop had planted some flowers; here and there stood a few fruit-trees. Madame Magloire had once remarked, with a sort of gentle malice: ‘Monseigneur, you who turn everything to account, have, nevertheless, one useless plot. It would be better to grow salFree eBooks at Planet eBook.com 43

ads there than bouquets.’ ‘Madame Magloire,’ retorted the Bishop, ‘you are mistaken. The beautiful is as useful as the useful.’ He added after a pause, ‘More so, perhaps.’ This plot, consisting of three or four beds, occupied the Bishop almost as much as did his books. He liked to pass an hour or two there, trimming, hoeing, and making holes here and there in the earth, into which he dropped seeds. He was not as hostile to insects as a gardener could have wished to see him. Moreover, he made no pretensions to botany; he ignored groups and consistency; he made not the slightest effort to decide between Tournefort and the natural method; he took part neither with the buds against the cotyledons, nor with Jussieu against Linnaeus. He did not study plants; he loved flowers. He respected learned men greatly; he respected the ignorant still more; and, without ever failing in these two respects, he watered his flower-beds every summer evening with a tin watering-pot painted green. The house had not a single door which could be locked. The door of the dining-room, which, as we have said, opened directly on the cathedral square, had formerly been ornamented with locks and bolts like the door of a prison. The Bishop had had all this ironwork removed, and this door was never fastened, either by night or by day, with anything except the latch. All that the first passerby had to do at any hour, was to give it a push. At first, the two women had been very much tried by this door, which was never fastened, but Monsieur de D—— had said to them, ‘Have bolts put on your rooms, if that will please you.’ They had ended by sharing his confidence, or by at least acting as though they
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shared it. Madame Magloire alone had frights from time to time. As for the Bishop, his thought can be found explained, or at least indicated, in the three lines which he wrote on the margin of a Bible, ‘This is the shade of difference: the door of the physician should never be shut, the door of the priest should always be open.’ On another book, entitled Philosophy of the Medical Science, he had written this other note: ‘Am not I a physician like them? I also have my patients, and then, too, I have some whom I call my unfortunates.’ Again he wrote: ‘Do not inquire the name of him who asks a shelter of you. The very man who is embarrassed by his name is the one who needs shelter.’ It chanced that a worthy cure, I know not whether it was the cure of Couloubroux or the cure of Pompierry, took it into his head to ask him one day, probably at the instigation of Madame Magloire, whether Monsieur was sure that he was not committing an indiscretion, to a certain extent, in leaving his door unfastened day and night, at the mercy of any one who should choose to enter, and whether, in short, he did not fear lest some misfortune might occur in a house so little guarded. The Bishop touched his shoulder, with gentle gravity, and said to him, ‘Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam,’ Unless the Lord guard the house, in vain do they watch who guard it. Then he spoke of something else. He was fond of saying, ‘There is a bravery of the priest as well as the bravery of a colonel of dragoons,—only,’ he added, ‘ours must be tranquil.’
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It is here that a fact falls naturally into place, which we must not omit, because it is one of the sort which show us best what sort of a man the Bishop of D—— was. After the destruction of the band of Gaspard Bes, who had infested the gorges of Ollioules, one of his lieutenants, Cravatte, took refuge in the mountains. He concealed himself for some time with his bandits, the remnant of Gaspard Bes’s troop, in the county of Nice; then he made his way to Piedmont, and suddenly reappeared in France, in the vicinity of Barcelonette. He was first seen at Jauziers, then at Tuiles. He hid himself in the caverns of the Joug-de-l’Aigle, and thence he descended towards the hamlets and villages through the ravines of Ubaye and Ubayette. He even pushed as far as Embrun, entered the cathedral one night, and despoiled the sacristy. His highway robberies laid waste the country-side. The gendarmes were set on his track, but in vain. He always escaped; sometimes he resisted by main force. He was a bold wretch. In the midst of all this terror the Bishop arrived. He was making his circuit to Chastelar. The mayor came to meet him, and urged him
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to retrace his steps. Cravatte was in possession of the mountains as far as Arche, and beyond; there was danger even with an escort; it merely exposed three or four unfortunate gendarmes to no purpose. ‘Therefore,’ said the Bishop, ‘I intend to go without escort.’ ‘You do not really mean that, Monseigneur!’ exclaimed the mayor. ‘I do mean it so thoroughly that I absolutely refuse any gendarmes, and shall set out in an hour.’ ‘Set out?’ ‘Set out.’ ‘Alone?’ ‘Alone.’ ‘Monseigneur, you will not do that!’ ‘There exists yonder in the mountains,’ said the Bishop, ‘a tiny community no bigger than that, which I have not seen for three years. They are my good friends, those gentle and honest shepherds. They own one goat out of every thirty that they tend. They make very pretty woollen cords of various colors, and they play the mountain airs on little flutes with six holes. They need to be told of the good God now and then. What would they say to a bishop who was afraid? What would they say if I did not go?’ ‘But the brigands, Monseigneur?’ ‘Hold,’ said the Bishop, ‘I must think of that. You are right. I may meet them. They, too, need to be told of the good God.’ ‘But, Monseigneur, there is a band of them! A flock of
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wolves!’ ‘Monsieur le maire, it may be that it is of this very flock of wolves that Jesus has constituted me the shepherd. Who knows the ways of Providence?’ ‘They will rob you, Monseigneur.’ ‘I have nothing.’ ‘They will kill you.’ ‘An old goodman of a priest, who passes along mumbling his prayers? Bah! To what purpose?’ ‘Oh, mon Dieu! what if you should meet them!’ ‘I should beg alms of them for my poor.’ ‘Do not go, Monseigneur. In the name of Heaven! You are risking your life!’ ‘Monsieur le maire,’ said the Bishop, ‘is that really all? I am not in the world to guard my own life, but to guard souls.’ They had to allow him to do as he pleased. He set out, accompanied only by a child who offered to serve as a guide. His obstinacy was bruited about the country-side, and caused great consternation. He would take neither his sister nor Madame Magloire. He traversed the mountain on mule-back, encountered no one, and arrived safe and sound at the residence of his ‘good friends,’ the shepherds. He remained there for a fortnight, preaching, administering the sacrament, teaching, exhorting. When the time of his departure approached, he resolved to chant a Te Deum pontifically. He mentioned it to the cure. But what was to be done? There were no episcopal ornaments. They could only place at his disposal a wretched
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village sacristy, with a few ancient chasubles of threadbare damask adorned with imitation lace. ‘Bah!’ said the Bishop. ‘Let us announce our Te Deum from the pulpit, nevertheless, Monsieur le Cure. Things will arrange themselves.’ They instituted a search in the churches of the neighborhood. All the magnificence of these humble parishes combined would not have sufficed to clothe the chorister of a cathedral properly. While they were thus embarrassed, a large chest was brought and deposited in the presbytery for the Bishop, by two unknown horsemen, who departed on the instant. The chest was opened; it contained a cope of cloth of gold, a mitre ornamented with diamonds, an archbishop’s cross, a magnificent crosier,—all the pontifical vestments which had been stolen a month previously from the treasury of Notre Dame d’Embrun. In the chest was a paper, on which these words were written, ‘From Cravatte to Monseigneur Bienvenu.’ ‘Did not I say that things would come right of themselves?’ said the Bishop. Then he added, with a smile, ‘To him who contents himself with the surplice of a curate, God sends the cope of an archbishop.’ ‘Monseigneur,’ murmured the cure, throwing back his head with a smile. ‘God—or the Devil.’ The Bishop looked steadily at the cure, and repeated with authority, ‘God!’ When he returned to Chastelar, the people came out to stare at him as at a curiosity, all along the road. At the
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God permits. against his fellow-man. and he returns from them with his hands full. and things which were very well adapted to be stolen for the benefit of the unfortunate. The great dangers lie within ourselves. when we think that a danger is approaching us. who were waiting for him.’ Then. I set out bearing only my faith in God. One month of his year resembled one hour of his day. It consisted of very handsome things. Let us confine ourselves to prayer. What matters it what threatens our head or our purse! Let us think only of that which threatens our soul. Let us pray. but that our brother may not fall into sin on our account.priest’s house in Chastelar he rejoined Mademoiselle Baptistine and Madame Magloire. very tempting things. Let us fear ourselves. but generally he passed his life in doing the same things at the same moment. As to what became of ‘the treasure’ of the cathedral of Embrun. We relate those of which we know. such incidents were rare in his life. he said again: ‘Let us never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from without.’ That evening. I have brought back the treasure of a cathedral. That which his fellow does. never a precaution on the part of the priest. before he went to bed.’ However. we should be embarrassed by any inquiry in that direction. turning to his sister: ‘Sister. Prejudices are the real robbers. petty dangers. Stolen they had 50 Les Miserables . not for ourselves. vices are the real murderers. and he said to his sister: ‘Well! was I in the right? The poor priest went to his poor mountaineers with empty hands.

a rather obscure note was found among the Bishop’s papers. Only. we make no assertions on this point. However. to decide whether this should be turned over to the cathedral or to the hospital. which may bear some relation to this matter.com 51 . and to cause it to take a short trip in the direction of the poor. and which is couched in these terms.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.already been elsewhere. it only remained to impart a new direction to the theft. Half of the adventure was completed. ‘The question is.

CHAPTER VIII PHILOSOPHY AFTER DRINKING The senator above mentioned was a clever man.’ He even sometimes laughed at him with an amiable authority in the presence of M. good opportunities. not a bad man by any means. and which are called conscience. duty: he had marched straight to his goal. He was an old attorney. heedless of those things which present obstacles. good sides. who rendered all the small services in his power to his sons. softened by success. in life. while he was. justice. in reality. who had made his own way. Everything else seemed to him very stupid. his relations. He laughed willingly and pleasantly over infinite and eternal things. his sons-in-law. and at the ‘Crotchets of that good old fellow the Bishop. having wisely seized upon. good windfalls. Myriel himself. He was intelligent. and just sufficiently educated to think himself a disciple of Epicurus. without once flinching in the line of his advancement and his interest. 52 Les Miserables . only a product of Pigault-Lebrun. and even to his friends. sworn faith. who listened to him.

and M.’ interposed the Bishop. and a revolutionist. The senator resumed:— ‘I hate Diderot. exclaimed:— ‘Egad. a declaimer. I have a philosophy of my own. Then what is the good of the Eternal Father? The Jehovah hypothesis tires me.com 53 . I do not recollect what. who was slightly exhilarated. Bishop. You are on the bed of purple.’ ‘Good devils even. so one lies on it.’ said the Bishop. Suppose the drop to be larger and the spoonful bigger. Bishop. Count*** [this senator] and M. the senator.’ ‘Like yourself. whose reaFree eBooks at Planet eBook. A drop of vinegar in a spoonful of flour paste supplies the fiat lux. I am going to make a confession to you. you have the world. and went on:— ‘Let us be good fellows. a believer in God at bottom. We are two augurs. Hobbes.’ continued the senator. and more bigoted than Voltaire. Count. It is hard for a senator and a bishop to look at each other without winking. though still perfectly dignified. and he was wrong. let’s have a discussion. ‘I declare to you. he is an ideologist.’ ‘And you are right. It is good for nothing but to produce shallow people. senator. for Needham’s eels prove that God is useless.’ The senator was encouraged. Voltaire made sport of Needham. Man is the eel. Pyrrhon. Naigeon are no rascals.’ replied the Bishop.On some semi-official occasion or other. At dessert. ‘that the Marquis d’Argens. Myriel were to dine with the prefect. I have all the philosophers in my library gilded on the edges. ‘As one makes one’s philosophy.

on high. We are at the top. Why? Because I shall have to render an account of my actions. if you can. Let us tell the truth. What a fine dream! After my death it will be a very clever person who can catch me. Let us seek the real. anywhere. and who have raised the veil of Isis: there is no such thing as either good or evil. I must cudgel my brains over good and evil. if one sees no further than the end of other people’s noses? Let us live merrily. I don’t believe. and seize it. over the just and the unjust. Let us get to the bottom of it. I am square on the bottom. there is vegetation. Then you grow strong. Immor54 Les Miserables . Then it gives you exquisite joys. Ah! sacrifice and renunciation are recommended to me. ‘Tis the counsel of an avaricious man to beggars. we who are initiated. Life is all. below. That man has another future elsewhere. not one single word of it. I am not enthusiastic over your Jesus. I am. dig in the earth for it. why? Sacrifice. then. and in order to empty my sack.soning is hollow. which torments me! Hurrah for Zero which leaves me in peace! Between you and me. who preaches renunciation and sacrifice to the last extremity. What the deuce! let us go to the bottom of it! We must scent out the truth. I must take heed to everything I do. I will admit to you that I have good sense. Have a handful of dust seized by a shadow-hand. Let us go into it thoroughly. When? After death. Down with that great All. What is the advantage of being at the top. let us have a superior philosophy. and make confession to my pastor. Let us stick to nature. Renunciation. to what end? I do not see one wolf immolating himself for the happiness of another wolf. as it behooves me to do. over the fas and the nefas. and you laugh.

tality. Whither will enjoyment lead me? To nothingness. I would not say that in the Moniteur. To sacrifice the world to paradise is to let slip the prey for the shadow. and we shall be angels. You have been Sardanapalus. a waiting for dead men’s shoes. Total liquidation. our to-morrow is the night. Fables of nurses. One must eat or be eaten. the Pantheon for some of us: all falls into the great hole. Shall I exist after death? No. Bishop. if you like! What a fine lot Adam has! We are souls. Did I exist before my birth? No. This is the vanishing-point. but I shall have suffered. Be the dupe of the infinite! I’m not such a fool. Inter pocula. besides. we shall see God. After which. but I shall have enjoyed myself. believe me. What am I? A little dust collected in an organism. Whither will suffering lead me? To nothingness. I laugh at the idea of there being any one who has anything to tell me on that subject. Such is my wisdom. the grave-digger is there. What am I to do on this earth? The choice rests with me: suffer or enjoy. you have been Vincent Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 55 . No. bugaboo for children. senator. ta. Finis. Jehovah for men. End. I am a nought. It is better to be the tooth than the grass. with blue wings on our shoulder-blades. ta! What twaddle all these paradises are! God is a nonsensical monster. I shall eat. Ah! what a charming promise! trust to it. My choice is made. go whither I push thee. is a chance. Ta. Beyond the tomb there is nothing but equal nothingness. Do come to my assistance: is it not Tertullian who says that the blessed shall travel from star to star? Very well. egad! but I may whisper it among friends. Death is death. I call myself Monsieur le Comte Nought. We shall be the grasshoppers of the stars. And then.

senator. That is the least he can have. are provided for them to swallow. useful treacheries. They spread it on their dry bread. knifegrinders. That is the truth. I don’t let myself be taken in with that nonsense. and I have my philosophers. and miserable wretches. The good God is good for the populace. whether well or ill acquired. Then live your life. paradise. Of course. it is impossible for me to refrain from congratulating you.’ The Bishop clapped his hands. Those who have succeeded in procuring this admirable materialism have the joy of feeling themselves irresponsible. Bishop. Legends. the soul. I tell you that I have a philosophy of my own. one is no longer a dupe. In truth.—and that they shall enter the tomb with their digestion accomplished. How agreeable that is! I do not say that with reference to you. one does not stupidly allow one’s self to be exiled like Cato. savory capitulations of conscience. I oppose no objection to that. You 56 Les Miserables . sinecures. but I reserve Monsieur Naigeon for myself. dignities. chimeras.de Paul—it makes no difference. and of thinking that they can devour everything without uneasiness. ‘That’s talking!’ he exclaimed. nor burned alive like Jeanne d’Arc. above all things. power.—places. lucrative recantations. God. the stars. there must be something for those who are down. nor stoned like Stephen. ‘What an excellent and really marvellous thing is this materialism! Not every one who wants it can have it. Ah! when one does have it. He who has nothing else has the good. Nevertheless. They gobble it down. immortality. Make use of your I while you have it.—for the barefooted beggars.

so you say. a philosophy of your own.com 57 . refined. and for yourselves. and you do not think it a bad thing that belief in the good God should constitute the philosophy of the people. which is exquisite. and unearthed by special seekers. This philosophy has been extracted from the depths.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. very much as the goose stuffed with chestnuts is the truffled turkey of the poor. and which seasons the voluptuousness of life admirably. But you are good-natured princes. accessible to the rich alone. good for all sauces.great lords have.

Madam Magloire has made some discoveries. would not discredit a chateau in the style of yours. now our two chambers hung with antique paper whitewashed over. Dec. It is our established custom. without his even taking the trouble of speaking in order to explain them.CHAPTER IX THE BROTHER AS DEPICTED BY THE SISTER In order to furnish an idea of the private establishment of the Bishop of D——. MY GOOD MADAM: Not a day passes without our speaking of you. D——. but there is another reason besides. 16. the friend of her childhood. This letter is in our possession. their feminine instincts even. 18—. we cannot do better than transcribe in this place a letter from Mademoiselle Baptistine to Madame the Vicomtess de Boischevron. and of the manner in which those two sainted women subordinated their actions. while washing and dusting the ceilings and walls. which are easily alarmed. to the habits and purposes of the Bishop. Just imagine. their thoughts. Madam Magloire has pulled off all the pa58 Les Miserables .

com 59 . My drawing-room.per. She has also found in a corner of the attic two wooden pier-tables of ancient fashion. They asked us two crowns of six francs each to regild them. and my chamber will be a regular museum. is fifteen feet in height. Madam Magloire has cleaned it all off. which contains no furniture. and I should much prefer a round table of mahogany. eighteen square. under at least ten thicknesses of paper pasted on top. and with beams. which without being good are very tolerable. and which we use for spreading out the linen after washing. the name of which escapes me. as in yours. and Roman ladies [here occurs an illegible word]. but it is much better to give the money to the poor. and the whole revarnished. And the woodwork was of the era of our grandmothers. I am always very happy. and the whole train. and we really must do something for those who are in need. with a ceiling which was formerly painted and gilded. We are almost comfortably lighted and warmed. But my room is the one you ought to see. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. My brother is so good. What shall I say to you? I have Romans. Madam Magloire has discovered. The country is trying in the winter. and they are very ugly besides. where the Roman ladies repaired on one single night. There were things beneath. He gives all he has to the poor and sick. In short. You see that these are great treats. The subject is Telemachus being knighted by Minerva in some gardens. We are very much cramped. this summer she is going to have some small injuries repaired. This was covered with a cloth while this was the hospital. some paintings.

That is his sort of bravery. he travels in winter.My brother has ways of his own. I pray for him and fall asleep. He exposes himself to all sorts of dangers.’ Now I have ended by getting used to it. He would not take us. He does not wish me or Madame Magloire feel any fear for him. he was thought to be dead. I am at ease. he walks in the water. When he talks. He was absent for a fortnight. Last year he went quite alone into a country of robbers. I make a sign to Madam Magloire that she is not to oppose him. He fears nothing. not to speak except when the carriage was making a noise. When he returned on that occasion. At first I used to say to myself. he says. I carry off Madam Magloire. ‘There are no dangers which will stop him. On his return nothing had happened to him. He fears neither suspicious roads nor dangerous encounters. which the thieves had given him. however. all the jewels of the cathedral of Embrun. and he does not like to have us even seem to notice it. he says that a bishop ought to be so. Just imagine! the door of our house is never fastened. I could not refrain from scolding him a little. Whoever chooses to enter finds himself at once in my brother’s room. but was perfectly well. so that no one might hear me. taking care. I enter my chamber. nor night. and said. because I know that if anything 60 Les Miserables . He risks himself as he sees fit. He goes out in the rain. One must know how to understand him. ‘This is the way I have been robbed!’ And then he opened a trunk full of jewels. he is terrible. even at night.

and we abandon ourselves to the care of Providence. it would be the end of me. colonel of the French guards. he would be allowed to do so. This suffices me. After all. and Faoucq. They really are a very ancient Norman family of the generalship of Caen.com 61 . You are aware that he knows everything. and we fall asleep. My brother has no longer any need of saying a word to me. It is written Faux. we tremble together. married Adrien-Charles de Gramont. I should go to the good God with my brother and my bishop. His daughter. a Jean de Faux. But now the habit has been acquired. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Marie-Louise. The last was Guy-Etienne-Alexandre. and that he has memories. It has cost Madam Magloire more trouble than it did me to accustom herself to what she terms his imprudences. and lieutenant-general of the army. and was commander of a regiment. I understand him without his speaking. and something in the light horse of Bretagne. who were gentlemen. We pray together.were to happen to him. peer of France. and a Thomas de Faux. and one of whom was a seigneur de Rochefort. That is the way one has to do with a man who possesses grandeur of soul. son of the Duke Louis de Gramont. what is there for us to fear in this house? There is always some one with us who is stronger than we. I have interrogated my brother with regard to the information which you desire on the subject of the Faux family. because he is still a very good royalist. but the good God dwells here. The devil may pass through it. If the devil were to enter this house. Five hundred years ago there was a Raoul de Faux. Fauq.

without seeming to have even a suspicion of the fact. A thousand good wishes. As for your dear Sylvanie. Sometimes Madame Magloire essayed a remonstrance in advance. Farewell. and yet I grow thinner every day. but they let him alone. and it makes me very happy. without his having oc62 Les Miserables . my paper is at an end. They trembled. Monsieur the Cardinal.Good Madame. and loves me. That is all that I desire. recommend us to the prayers of your sainted relative. The souvenir which she sent through you reached me safely. and saying. and this forces me to leave you.S. P. Your grand nephew is charming. Do you know that he will soon be five years old? Yesterday he saw some one riding by on horseback who had on knee-caps. and he said. bold. ‘What has he got on his knees?’ He is a charming child! His little brother is dragging an old broom about the room. nor afterwards. works as you would wish. They never interfered with him by so much as a word or sign. in spite of the gentle and candid air which never deserted him. she has done well in not wasting the few moments which she passes with you in writing to me. BAPTISTINE. but never at the time. and magnificent. these two women understood how to mould themselves to the Bishop’s ways with that special feminine genius which comprehends the man better than he comprehends himself. My health is not so very bad. She is well. ‘Hu!’ As will be perceived from this letter. At certain moments. like a carriage. sometimes did things that were grand. in any action once entered upon. The Bishop of D——.

even when believing him to be in peril. They confided him to God. I will not say his thought. Thus. Moreover. but his nature. with an admirable delicacy of instinct. to such a degree that they no longer watched over him. Madame Magloire did not say this. they understood. Baptistine said. so perfect was his simplicity. they vaguely felt that he was acting as a bishop. then they were nothing more than two shadows in the house. that her brother’s end would prove her own. They understood. as we have just read. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. when he was not even conscious of it himself in all probability. but she knew it.com 63 . they disappeared. They served him passively.casion to mention it. that certain cares may be put under constraint. and if obedience consisted in disappearing.

His name was G—— Member of the Convention. was a former member of the Convention. if the whole town was to be believed. and when they said ‘citizen. G—— was mentioned with a sort of horror in the little world of D—— A member of the Convention—can you imagine such a thing? That existed from the time when people called each other thou.CHAPTER X THE BISHOP IN THE PRESENCE OF AN UNKNOWN LIGHT At an epoch a little later than the date of the letter cited in the preceding pages. He had been a terrible man. He was a quasi-regicide. on the return of the legitimate princes? They need 64 Les Miserables . he did a thing which. we will state at once. This man. In the country near D—— a man lived quite alone. was even more hazardous than his trip across the mountains infested with bandits.’ This man was almost a monster. He had not voted for the death of the king. but almost. How did it happen that such a man had not been brought before a provost’s court.

without his being clearly conscious of the fact himself. the path which led thither had disappeared under a growth of grass.’ And he added. far from any road. with that sentiment which Free eBooks at Planet eBook. in some hidden turn of a very wild valley.’ But. no one knew exactly where. Since he had dwelt in that valley. ‘There is a soul yonder which is lonely. Nevertheless. There were no neighbors. it was said. and almost repulsive. which seemed natural at the first blush. Was G—— a vulture after all? Yes. not even passers-by. As he had not voted for the death of the king. but a good banishment for life. and had been able to remain in France. clemency must be exercised. For. He dwelt at a distance of three-quarters of an hour from the city.not have cut off his head. deep in his own mind. Besides. as strange. if he were to be judged by the element of ferocity in this solitude of his. a sort of field. and he said. if you please. He had there. ‘I owe him a visit. he shared the general impression. An example. impossible. agreed. a lair. at bottom. let us avow it. and from time to time he gazed at the horizon at a point where a clump of trees marked the valley of the former member of the Convention. a hole. appeared to him after a moment’s reflection. this idea. like all the rest of those people. Gossip of the geese about the vulture.com 65 . and the old member of the Convention inspired him. he was an atheist. The locality was spoken of as though it had been the dwelling of a hangman. the Bishop meditated on the subject. far from any hamlet. in short. etc. he had not been included in the decrees of exile.

It was a very low hut. The sun was setting. on account of his too threadbare cassock. and because of the evening breeze which was sure to rise soon. should the scab of the sheep cause the shepherd to recoil? No.—‘Thank God!’ some added. small. put on his cloak. and that he would not live over night. that paralysis was gaining on him. there was a white-haired man. and which is so well expressed by the word estrangement. had come in quest of a doctor. with a vine nailed against the outside. poor. and had almost touched the horizon when the Bishop arrived at the excommunicated spot. Near the door. took a few steps with a good deal of boldness. Still. the arm-chair of the peasants. entered a neglected paddock. and behind lofty brambles. But what a sheep! The good Bishop was perplexed. the rumor one day spread through the town that a sort of young shepherd. he caught sight of the cavern.borders on hate. leaped a hedge. With a certain beating of the heart. The Bishop took his staff. and clean. Finally. and set out. Sometimes he set out in that direction. that the old wretch was dying. He strode over a ditch. 66 Les Miserables . made his way through a fence of dead boughs. and suddenly. at the extremity of the waste land. smiling at the sun. then he returned. as we have mentioned. in an old wheel-chair. who served the member of the Convention in his hovel. he recognized the fact that he was near the lair.

’ he said. ‘I am going to recover. Who are you. the old man turned his head.’ And his smile quitted the sun to rest upon the child.’ He paused.’ Then he continued:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook. At the sound which he made in walking.com 67 .Near the seated man stood a young boy. While the Bishop was watching him. sir. and then said:— ‘I shall die three hours hence.’ The member of the Convention extended his hand to the Bishop. and his face expressed the sum total of the surprise which a man can still feel after a long life.’ ‘Bienvenu Myriel? I have heard that name.’ ‘Enter. Are you the man whom the people call Monseigneur Welcome?’ ‘I am.’ ‘Monsieur. ‘that any one has entered here.’ The old man resumed with a half-smile ‘In that case. ‘This is the first time since I have been here. but the Bishop did not take it. you are my bishop?’ ‘Something of that sort. He was offering the old man a jar of milk.’ said he. ‘I need nothing.’ replied the old man. the shepherd lad. the old man spoke: ‘Thank you. You certainly do not seem to me to be ill. The Bishop confined himself to the remark:— ‘I am pleased to see that I have been misinformed. The Bishop stepped forward. sir?’ The Bishop answered:— ‘My name is Bienvenu Myriel.

He did not think he discerned God in this manner of dying. the chill has ascended to my knees. was so fond of laughing at ‘His Grace. who on occasion. It will be night then.’ The child entered the hut. when it reaches the heart. common enough to doctors 68 Les Miserables . One has one’s caprices. You can talk to me. thou art tired. and he was almost tempted to retort ‘citizen. So be it.’ The old man turned to the shepherd lad:— ‘Go to thy bed. after all? Dying is a simple affair.‘I am something of a doctor. thou wert awake all last night. to-day. The old man followed him with his eyes.’ The Bishop was not touched as it seems that he should have been. and added. I should have liked to last until the dawn. It is well that there should be witnesses at that moment. let us say the whole. for these petty contradictions of great hearts must be indicated like the rest: he. What does it matter. only my feet were cold. Yesterday. One has no need of the light for that. as though speaking to himself:— ‘I shall die while he sleeps.’ was rather shocked at not being addressed as Monseigneur. it does not fatigue me. is it not? I had myself wheeled out here to take a last look at things. I shall stop. I shall die by starlight. The two slumbers may be good neighbors. but I know that I shall hardly live three hours. I know in what fashion the last hour draws on.’ He was assailed by a fancy for peevish familiarity. The sun is beautiful. You have done well to come and look at a man who is on the point of death. now I feel it mounting to my waist.

would have served his conscience as a matter of reproach. although he generally restrained his curiosity. on his side. There was freedom in his agony. in which one could have distinguished. in connection with any other man. even of the law of charity.and priests. G——. and thought that he had mistaken the door. this member of the Convention. for the first time in his life. bordered on a fault. which. there was something calculated to disconcert death. in his opinion. Meanwhile. his body almost upright. calm. proportioned to the epoch. as it did not have its course in sympathy. the member of the Convention had been surveying him with a modest cordiality. after all. he preserved all the gestures of health. possibly. In his clear glance. his voice vibrating. His legs alone were moFree eBooks at Planet eBook. that humility which is so fitting when one is on the verge of returning to dust. Azrael. in his firm tone. Though so near to his end. G—— seemed to be dying because he willed it so. but which was not habitual with him. In this old man one was conscious of a man put to the proof. was one of those octogenarians who form the subject of astonishment to the physiologist. in the robust movement of his shoulders.com 69 . probably. would have turned back. The Bishop. had been one of the powerful ones of the earth. could not refrain from examining the member of the Convention with an attention which. the Bishop felt in a mood to be severe. This man. The Revolution had many of these men. this representative of the people. A member of the Convention produced on him somewhat the effect of being outside the pale of the law. the Mohammedan angel of the sepulchre.

sir.—ignorance. ‘Do not congratulate me too much. There was a stone there. The member of the Convention resumed:— 70 Les Miserables .’ ‘And conscience. which is authority falsely understood. ‘You did not vote for the death of the king. after all. I voted for the death of that tyrant. but his head survived with all the power of life. ‘It is the same thing. The Bishop sat down. The smile had quite disappeared from his face. ‘I mean to say that man has a tyrant. ‘I congratulate you. Man should be governed only by science.tionless. I did vote for the death of the tyrant.’ The old member of the Convention did not appear to notice the bitter meaning underlying the words ‘after all.’ It was the tone of austerity answering the tone of severity.’ said he. and seemed full of light. His feet were cold and dead. in the tone which one uses for a reprimand.’ He replied.’ added the Bishop. which was very new to him. The exordium was abrupt. ‘What do you mean to say?’ resumed the Bishop. That tyrant engendered royalty. while science is authority rightly understood. at this solemn moment. It was there that the shadows held him fast. Conscience is the quantity of innate science which we have within us. G——. resembled the king in that tale of the Orient who was flesh above and marble below.’ Monseigneur Bienvenu listened in some astonishment to this language.

’ ‘You have demolished. joy which has disappeared! Alas! The work was incomplete. the wind is still there.’ ‘Right has its wrath.‘So far as Louis XVI. Incomplete. It set free all the unknown social quantities. The French Revolution is the Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ ‘Mixed joy. the dawn. To destroy abuses is not sufficient. the French Revolution is the most important step of the human race since the advent of Christ. It was a good thing.’ I did not think that I had the right to kill a man. and the wrath of right is an element of progress. I have aided in the overthrow of prejudices and errors. which is called 1814. appeased. I voted for that. In any case. through its upsetting upon the human race.’ said the Bishop. has become. the end of prostitution for woman.com 71 . it calmed. I voted the end of the tyrant. It may be of use to demolish. but I distrust a demolition complicated with wrath. an urn of joy. enlightened. and in spite of whatever may be said. after that fatal return of the past. it caused the waves of civilization to flow over the earth. We have caused the fall of the old world. and the old world. but I felt it my duty to exterminate evil. was concerned. The mill is there no longer. I voted for fraternity. and to-day. but sublime. concord. it may be. the end of slavery for man. customs must be modified. we were not able to suppress it entirely in ideas. it softened spirits. I said ‘no. The crumbling away of prejudices and errors causes light. the end of night for the child. I admit: we demolished the ancient regime in deeds. In voting for the Republic. that vase of miseries. that is to say. Bishop. ‘You may say troubled joy.

an innocent child who was hung up by the armpits in the Place de Greve. Nevertheless. ‘93! I was expecting that word. he put a good face on the matter. so far as a dying man is capable of exclamation:— ‘Ah.. He replied:— ‘The judge speaks in the name of justice. an innocent child. confessing it.consecration of humanity. in that case I mourn with you. that something within him had suffered extinction. the brother of Cartouche. for the 72 Les Miserables . at the end of fifteen hundred years it burst.’ The Bishop felt. ‘Louis XVII. until death ensued. To me. the priest speaks in the name of pity. regarding the member of the Convention steadily the while. there you go. ‘Louis XVII. and exclaimed. martyred in the tower of the Temple.’ And he added. For whom do you mourn? is it for the innocent child? very good. for the sole crime of having been the brother of Cartouche.’ The Bishop could not refrain from murmuring:— ‘Yes? ‘93!’ The member of the Convention straightened himself up in his chair with an almost lugubrious solemnity. which is nothing but a more lofty justice. A thunderbolt should commit no error. perhaps.! let us see. without. You are putting the thunderbolt on its trial.?’ The conventionary stretched forth his hand and grasped the Bishop’s arm. A cloud had been forming for the space of fifteen hundred years. is no less painful than the grandson of Louis XV. Is it for the royal child? I demand time for reflection.

The Bishop almost regretted having come.com 73 .’ continued the conventionary G—— ‘You have mentioned Louis XVII.’ ‘That is true. It is as august in rags as in fleurs de lys. Let us come to an understanding. Monsieur. and yet he felt vaguely and strangely shaken. full of lightnings. all martyrs.’ said the Bishop. ‘I persist.’ ‘Cartouche? Louis XV.sole crime of having been grandson of Louis XV. Shall we weep for all the innocent.’ said the Bishop in a low voice. you love not the crudities of the true. is its own crown. I will weep with you over the children of kings.’ said the Bishop. ‘Equally!’ exclaimed conventionary G——. His scourge. He seized a rod and cleared out the Temple. the lowly as well as the exalted? I agree to that. Innocence has no need to be a highness. ‘I like not this conjunction of names. provided that you will weep with me over the children of the people.? To which of the two do you object?’ A momentary silence ensued. was a harsh speaker of truths. to me. Monsieur Priest. and our tears must begin before Louis XVII. Christ loved them. as I have told you. When he cried.’ he made no distinction between the little children.’ ‘I weep for all. we must go back further than ‘93. all children. ‘Sinite parvulos.’ ‘Monsieur. ‘and if the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. The conventionary resumed:— ‘Ah. It would not have embarrassed him to bring together the Dauphin of Barabbas and the Dauphin of Herod. Innocence. But in that case.

who make good cheer. I must admit. I repeat my question. took a bit of his cheek between his thumb and his forefinger. He raised himself on one elbow. the people have been suffering a long while. who have vast prebends. who have liveries. sir.— who have kitchens. twenty-five thousand francs. Your name has reached me in a confused manner.balance must incline. you have left it yonder. a prince of the church. the people. who strut about. why have you just questioned me and talked to me about Louis XVII. ten thousand in perquisites. and very badly pronounced. and seeing no one but that child who helps me. You have told me that you are the Bishop. In short. They have been suffering longer. and appealed to the Bishop with a gaze full of all the forces of the death agony. Who are you? You are a bishop. It was almost an explosion. ‘Yes. no doubt. but that affords me no information as to your moral personality. one of those gilded men with heraldic bearings and revenues. let it be on the side of the people.— the bishopric of D—— fifteen thousand francs settled income. And hold! that is not all. never setting foot outside. I do not know you. Ever since I have been in these parts I have dwelt in this enclosure alone. but that signifies nothing: clever men have so many ways of imposing on that honest goodman. I did not hear the sound of your carriage. either. that is to say.’ Another silence ensued. I tell you. total. By the way. a lackey before. who eat moor-hens on Friday. it is true. The conventionary was the first to break it.? I know you not. 74 Les Miserables . behind the coppice at the fork of the roads. as one does mechanically when one interrogates and judges.

and who have palaces.com 75 . The Bishop resumed mildly:— ‘So be it. To whom do I speak? Who are you?’ The Bishop hung his head and replied. how my twentyfive thousand francs income. Your riches and your pleasures are advantages Free eBooks at Planet eBook. You are at my house. as though to sweep away a cloud. and like the rest. But explain to me how my carriage. I have just committed a wrong.’ he said. how my good table and the moor-hens which I eat on Friday. and that ‘93 was not inexorable. palace. but this says either too much or too little. servants. you have this like the rest. which is a few paces off behind the trees yonder. and it becomes me to confine myself to combating your arguments. how my palace and my lackeys prove that clemency is not a duty. this does not enlighten me upon the intrinsic and essential value of the man who comes with the probable intention of bringing wisdom to me. you are my guest. ‘I beseech you to pardon me.’ The conventionary passed his hand across his brow. good table. You discuss my ideas. and who roll in their carriages in the name of Jesus Christ who went barefoot! You are a prelate. it is well. ‘Vermis sum—I am a worm.—revenues. you enjoy it. sir. in a gala coach. sir. horses.a lackey behind. all the sensualities of life. It was the conventionary’s turn to be arrogant. I owe you courtesy.’ ‘A worm of the earth in a carriage?’ growled the conventionary. and the Bishop’s to be humble. ‘Before replying to you.

You think it inexorable. The Bishop quivered under it. The conventionary began to pant. Apart from the Revolution. yes. sir. and they sometimes feel vaguely wounded by the want of respect of logic. but what of the whole monarchy. G—— resumed. which. the asthma of the agony which is mingled with the last breaths interrupted his voice. ‘Let us return to the explanation which you have asked of me. but what name do you give to Montrevel? Fouquier-Tainville is a rascal. I promise you to make no use of them in the future. The best of minds will have their fetiches. is an immense human affirmation. He went on:— ‘Let me say a few words more in this and that direction. but good taste dictates that I shall not make use of them. I am willing. taken as a whole. there was a perfect lucidity of soul in his eyes. ‘93 is. no reply occurred to him. sir? Carrier is a bandit.which I hold over you in the debate. but what is your opinion as to Lamoignon-Baville? Maillard is ter76 Les Miserables . but he was offended by this mode of alluding to Bossuet. alas! a rejoinder. Where were we? What were you saying to me? That ‘93 was inexorable?’ ‘Inexorable.’ ‘I thank you. but it attained its mark with the directness of a point of steel. ‘What think you of Marat clapping his hands at the guillotine?’ ‘What think you of Bossuet chanting the Te Deum over the dragonnades?’ The retort was a harsh one.’ said the Bishop.’ said the Bishop. still.

moreover.—that the human race has been treated harshly. but I am also sorry for that poor Huguenot woman. I am dying. I have too much the advantage. while with a nursing infant. naked to the waist. under Louis the Great. in 1685. archduchess and queen. hungry and pale. sir. When they are over. the last resource of Monseigneur Bienvenu’s resistance. but that it has progressed. the little one. I stop. its result is the world made better. to a stake. I abridge. but what epithet will you allow me for the elder Letellier? Jourdan-Coupe-Tete is a monster. however. but not so great a one as M.com 77 . One remained. beheld that breast and cried and agonized. the executioner said to the woman. a mother and a nurse. ‘Abjure!’ giving her her choice between the death of her infant and the death of her conscience. sir. What say you to that torture of Tantalus as applied to a mother? Bear this well in mind sir: the French Revolution had its reasons for existence. her breast swelled with milk and her heart with anguish.’ The conventionary doubted not that he had successively conquered all the inmost intrenchments of the Bishop. and the child kept at a distance.’ And ceasing to gaze at the Bishop. the Marquis de Louvois.rible. and from this intrenchment. but Saulx-Tavannes. who. its wrath will be absolved by the future. Sir. came forth Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the conventionary concluded his thoughts in these tranquil words:— ‘Yes. the brutalities of progress are called revolutions. if you please? Duchene senior is ferocious. From its most terrible blows there comes forth a caress for the human race. I am sorry for Marie Antoinette. was bound. this fact is recognized.

in other words. quite low. the tear trickled down his livid cheek. He was seized with a fit of trembling. There is.this reply. When the eyelid was full. then. The effort had exhausted him. wherein appeared nearly all the harshness of the beginning:— ‘Progress should believe in God. time pressed. He is there. it would not exist. it was as a priest that he had come: from extreme coldness he had 78 Les Miserables . That I of the infinite is God. his eyes closed. He looked towards heaven. it would not be infinite. It was evident that he had just lived through in a moment the few hours which had been left to him. If the infinite had no person. as though he beheld some one. The Bishop understood this. When he had spoken.’ The former representative of the people made no reply. That which he had said brought him nearer to him who is in death. The supreme moment was approaching. and in his glance a tear gathered slowly. He who is an atheist is but a bad leader for the human race. and he said. Good cannot have an impious servitor. and with the shiver of ecstasy. while his eyes were plunged in the depths:— ‘O thou! O ideal! Thou alone existest!’ The Bishop experienced an indescribable shock. the old man raised a finger heavenward and said:— ‘The infinite is. person would be without limit. an I. After a pause. and to himself. almost in a stammer.’ The dying man had pronounced these last words in a loud voice.

rights and principles existed. A gravity mingled with gloom was imprinted on his countenance. I have comforted the suffering. but it was to bind up the wounds of my country. I have always upheld the march forward of the human race. the vaults of the treasury were encumbered with specie to such a degree that we were forced to shore up the walls. I obeyed. forward towards the light. it is true. I tore the cloth from the altar. I have. Abuses existed. at the very spot where the Merovingian kings had Free eBooks at Planet eBook. in Flanders. he took that wrinkled. ‘Bishop.’ said he.com 79 . and I have sometimes resisted progress without pity. France was menaced. I was sixty years of age when my country called me and commanded me to concern myself with its affairs. ‘This hour is the hour of God. I combated them. I have been one of the masters of the state.passed by degrees to extreme emotion. I offered my breast. I was not rich. protected my own adversaries. Our territory was invaded. I have succored the oppressed. aged and ice-cold hand in his. when the occasion offered. which were on the point of bursting beneath the weight of gold and silver. Do you not think that it would be regrettable if we had met in vain?’ The conventionary opened his eyes again. and bent over the dying man. and contemplation. ‘I have passed my life in meditation. I proclaimed and confessed them. he gazed at those closed eyes. I dined in Dead Tree Street. tyrannies existed. I am poor. men of your profession. I destroyed them. And there is at Peteghem. with a slowness which probably arose more from his dignity of soul than from the failing of his strength. at twenty-two sous. study. I defended it.

did not count for something in his approach to perfection. Any allusion to ‘that old wretch of a G——‘ caused him to fall into a singular preoccupation.their summer palace. From that moment he redoubled his tenderness and brotherly feeling towards all children and sufferers.’ said the Bishop. He passed the whole night in prayer. he contented himself with pointing heavenward. What is it that you have come to ask of me?’ ‘Your blessing. which I saved in 1793. I am on the point of death. After which. the Abbey of Sainte Claire en Beaulieu. persecuted. proscribed. I was hunted down. and the reflection of that grand conscience upon his. When the Bishop raised his head again. I have done my duty according to my powers. scorned. to the poor ignorant masses I present the visage of one damned. He had just expired. For many years past. without hating any one myself. This ‘pastoral visit’ naturally furnished an occasion for a 80 Les Miserables . cursed. Now I am eighty-six years old. And I accept this isolation of hatred. a convent of Urbanists. jeered at. I with my white hair have been conscious that many people think they have the right to despise me. On the following morning some bold and curious persons attempted to speak to him about member of the Convention G——. blackened. pursued. No one could say that the passage of that soul before his. And he knelt down. and all the good that I was able. deeply absorbed in thoughts which cannot be known to us. the face of the conventionary had become august. The Bishop returned home.

addressed this sally to him. Then why go there? What was there to be seen there? He must have been very curious indeed to see a soul carried off by the devil. ‘Was the bedside of such a dying man as that the proper place for a bishop? There was evidently no conversion to be expected. people are inquiring when Your Greatness will receive the red cap!’—‘Oh! oh! that’s a coarse color.’ replied the Bishop. ‘Monseigneur. All those revolutionists are backsliders.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ One day a dowager of the impertinent variety who thinks herself spiritual.murmur of comment in all the little local coteries. ‘It is lucky that those who despise it in a cap revere it in a hat.com 81 .

the Emperor had made him a baron of the Empire. this is. The arrest of the Pope took place. the place to indicate very briefly what his attitude was in the events of that epoch. supposing that Monseigneur Bienvenu ever dreamed of having an attitude. Myriel was summoned by Napoleon to the synod of the bishops of France and Italy convened at Paris. on the night of the 5th to the 6th of July. on this occasion. which rendered him still more gentle.’ His meeting. then. with conventionary G——. which may almost be designated as his union.’ or a ‘patriotic cure. as every one knows. This synod was held at Notre82 Les Miserables . 1809. were we to conclude from this that Monseigneur Welcome was ‘a philosophical bishop. go back a few years. Let us. Myriel to the episcopate. M. That is all.CHAPTER XI A RESTRICTION We should incur a great risk of deceiving ourselves. Some time after the elevation of M. left behind it in his mind a sort of astonishment. Although Monseigneur Bienvenu was far from being a politician. in company with many other bishops. perhaps.

and assembled for the first time on the 15th of June. I would not have all those superfluities. by the way.Dame. M. I am only a poor peasant bishop.’ On another occasion he said.’ The fact is that he displeased them. living so very close to nature. Nevertheless. in churchmen. it appeared that he imported among these eminent personages. Myriel was one of the ninety-five bishops who attended it. ‘What would you have? Those gentlemen are princes. luxury is wrong. 1811. under the presidency of Cardinal Fesch. Bishop of a mountain diocese. when he found himself at the house of one of his most notable colleagues: ‘What beautiful clocks! What beautiful carpets! What beautiful liveries! They must be a great trouble. that the hatred of luxury is not an intelligent hatred. in rusticity and deprivation. and he replied: ‘I embarrassed them. I produced on them the effect of an open door. ideas which altered the temperature of the assembly. The outside air penetrated to them through me. except in connection with representations and ceremonies. This hatred would involve the hatred of the arts. But he was present only at one sitting and at three or four private conferences.com 83 . Among other strange things. it is said that he chanced to remark one evening. He very soon returned to D—— He was interrogated as to this speedy return. crying incessantly in my ears: ‘There are people who are hungry! There are people who are cold! There are poor people! There are poor people!’’ Let us remark. It seems to reveal habits which have very little that is chariFree eBooks at Planet eBook.

we are forced to add that he was glacial towards Napoleon in his decline. and he abstained from ordering public prayers for the Emperor in his diocese during the Hundred Days. Besides his sister. He was harsh for a time towards 84 Les Miserables . nor a drop of sweat. is poverty. what the Bishop of D—— thought. the other a prefect. it seems that he would have been found to be an ultramontane rather than a gallican. but if he had been strongly pressed. that he shared what we call the ‘ideas of the century’ on certain delicate points. and this poverty.table about them. An opulent priest is a contradiction. one a general. as he passed through on his return from the island of Elba. nor blackened nails. Now. The priest must keep close to the poor. and who has neither a singed hair. This is. He wrote to both with tolerable frequency. he gave in his adherence to or applauded all hostile manifestations. can one come in contact incessantly night and day with all this distress. no doubt. Beginning with 1813. all these misfortunes. however. and maintained silence on questions in which Church and State were implicated. It must not be supposed. He refused to see him. Since we are making a portrait. He took very little part in the theological quarrels of the moment. he had two brothers. in the bishop especially. nor a speck of ashes on his face? The first proof of charity in the priest. and since we do not wish to conceal anything. Mademoiselle Baptistine. like the dust of labor? Is it possible to imagine a man near a brazier who is not warm? Can one imagine a workman who is working near a furnace. without having about one’s own person a little of that misery.

The shadow of the passions of the moment traversed this grand and gentle spirit occupied with eternal things. His correspondence with the other brother. Let there be no mistake as to our meaning: we are not confounding what is called ‘political opinions’ with the grand aspiration for progress.the former. because. and charity. worthy man who lived in retirement at Paris. above the fictions and the hatreds of this world. such a man would have done well not to entertain any political opinions. a fine. remained more affectionate. which in our day should be the very foundation of every generous intellect. his cloud. for a single instant. Certainly. truth. turned away from that serene contemplation in which is distinctly discernible. with the sublime faith. the beaming of those three pure radiances. humane. While admitting that it was not for a political office that God created Monseigneur Welcome. Rue Cassette. Thus Monseigneur Bienvenu also had his hour of party spirit. his hour of bitterness.com 85 . we will simply say this: It would have been well if Monseigneur Bienvenu had not been a Royalist. holding a command in Provence at the epoch of the disembarkation at Cannes. Without going deeply into questions which are only indirectly connected with the subject of this book. justice. and if his glance had never been. democratic. patriotic. the general had put himself at the head of twelve hundred men and had pursued the Emperor as though the latter had been a person whom one is desirous of allowing to escape. above the stormy vicissitudes of human things. the ex-prefect. we should have unFree eBooks at Planet eBook.

We only love the fray so long as there is danger. in the presence of those marshals who betrayed. after making all allowance for the despot. when the supreme disasters filled the air. in 1814. his just but perilous resistance to the all-powerful Napoleon. ought not perhaps to have failed to recognize the august and touching features presented by the embrace of a great nation and a great man on the brink of the abyss. in the presence of that idolatry which was loosing its footing and spitting on its idol. In 1813 the cowardly breach of silence of that taciturn legislative body. we let it work. when France was seized with a shiver at their sinister approach. And it was a crime to applaud. 1812 commenced to disarm us. when Providence intervenes and strikes. emboldened by catastrophe. But that which pleases us in people who are rising pleases us less in the case of people who are falling. In 1815. As for us. and in any case. and. possessed only traits which aroused indignation.— it was a duty to turn aside the head. a heart like that of the Bishop of D——. insulting after having deified. the combatants of the first hour have alone the right to be the exterminators of the last. The denunciator of success is the only legitimate executioner of the fall. his proud opposition. the mournful acclamation of the army and the people to the condemned of destiny had nothing laughable in it. 86 Les Miserables . in the presence of that senate which passed from one dunghill to another. when Waterloo could be dimly discerned opening before Napoleon.derstood and admired his protest in the name of right and liberty. He who has not been a stubborn accuser in prosperity should hold his peace in the face of ruin.

which is only another sort of benevolence. so that he should not be obliged to wear his cross. as he said. He was an old non-commissioned officer of the old guard. It must be admitted.’ He was happy to combine in the same imprecation the two things which he most detested. and without bread. In the course of nine years Monseigneur Bienvenu had. that even in the political views with which we have just reproached him. than we who are speaking here. more so. The porter of the town-hall had been placed there by the Emperor. equitable. as much of a Bonapartist as the eagle. and he would not put anything in its place. He had himself devoutly removed the imperial effigy from the cross which Napoleon had given him. reproved him gently. a sage. which the law then stigmatized as seditious speeches.With this exception. humble and dignified. this made a hole.’ he said. and which we are disposed to judge almost with severity. intelligent. Prussia and England. turned out of the house. ‘I will die. This poor fellow occasionally let slip inconsiderate remarks. ‘rather than wear the three frogs upon my heart!’ He liked to scoff aloud at Louis XVIII. a member of the Legion of Honor at Austerlitz. There he was. he never dressed himself in his regimentals. he was tolerant and easy. He was a priest. and appointed him beadle in the cathedral. true. beneficent and kindly. ‘The gouty old creature in English gaiters!’ he said. After the imperial profile disappeared from the Legion of Honor. and a man. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. The Bishop sent for him.com 87 . perhaps. with his wife and children. ‘let him take himself off to Prussia with that queue of his. he was in all things just. He did it so often that he lost his place.

Even his conduct towards Napoleon had been accepted and tacitly pardoned. 88 Les Miserables . by the people. as it were.by dint of holy deeds and gentle manners. but loved their bishop. filled the town of D—— with a sort of tender and filial reverence. the good and weakly flock who adored their emperor.

It is necessary to walk one’s path discreetly. The seekers of the future eddy around the splendid present. Every career has its aspirants. There is no power which has not its dependents. there are big mitres in the Church.CHAPTER XII THE SOLITUDE OF MONSEIGNEUR WELCOME A bishop is almost always surrounded by a full squadron of little abbes. Every bishop who possesses the least influence has about him his patrol of cherubim from the seminary. This is what that charming Saint Francois de Sales calls somewhere ‘les pretres blancs-becs. Every metropolis has its staff of officials. To please a bishop is equivalent to getting one’s foot in the stirrup for a sub-diaconate. who form a train for those who have attained eminence in it.com 89 . Just as there are bigwigs elsewhere. There is no fortune which has not its court.’ callow priests. These are the bishops who stand well at Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and mounts guard over monseigneur’s smile. the apostleship does not disdain the canonship. just as a general is by a covey of young officers. and maintains good order in the episcopal palace. which goes the round.

then monsignor. prebends. skilful. who know how to pray. chaplaincies. and cathedral posts. prelates rather than bishops. how many youthful abbes bear on their heads 90 Les Miserables . A bishop who understands how to become an archbishop. it is a whole solar system on the march. no doubt. and upon all the young men who understand the art of pleasing. archidiaconates. of large parishes. they cause their satellites to progress also. who are rich. into nice little promotions. who are abbes rather than priests. an archbishop who knows how to become a cardinal. who are connecting links between the sacristy and diplomacy. As they advance themselves. you receive the pallium. and between the Eminence and the Holiness there is but the smoke of a ballot. Then what a nursery of aspirations is a seminary! How many blushing choristers. upon the assiduous and the favored. The larger the diocese of the patron. and behold! you are an auditor. you enter a court of papal jurisdiction.Court. and from a Grace to an Eminence is only a step. the fatter the curacy for the favorite. Their prosperity is crumbled up behind the scenes. Happy those who approach them! Being persons of influence. but who know also how to beg. And then. carries you with him as conclavist. Every skull-cap may dream of the tiara. there is Rome. while awaiting episcopal honors. and what a king! the supreme king. then a papal chamberlain. accepted by the world. well endowed. they create a shower about them. The priest is nowadays the only man who can become a king in a regular manner. who feel little scruple at making a whole diocese dance attendance in their person. Their radiance casts a gleam of purple over their suite.

that no sooner had the young men whom he ordained left the seminary than they got themselves recommended to the archbishops of Aix or of Auch. Be it said in passing. devotee that it is. Not a single future dreamed of engrafting itself on this solitary old man. an anchylosis of the joints. Its false resemblance to merit deceives men. Not a single sprouting ambition committed the folly of putting forth its foliage in his shadow. was not accounted among the big mitres. His canons and grand-vicars were good old men. by contagion. an incurable poverty. that they were finished and he was completed. without exit to a cardinalship.Perrette’s pot of milk! Who knows how easy it is for ambition to call itself vocation? in good faith. in short. retiring. We live in the midst of a gloomy society. that is the lesson which falls drop by drop from the slope of corruption. perchance. he might communicate to you. Hence the isolation of Monseigneur Bienvenu. We have seen that he ‘did not take’ in Paris. and this infectious virtue is avoided. and who resembled their bishop. A saint who dwells in a paroxysm of abnegation is a dangerous neighbor. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. which are useful in advancement. For the masses. with this difference. For. This was plain from the complete absence of young priests about him. walled up like him in this diocese. Monseigneur Bienvenu. rather vulgar like himself. humble. and went off in a great hurry. poor. that success is a very hideous thing. Success. and deceiving itself. The impossibility of growing great under Monseigneur Bienvenu was so well understood. more renunciation than you desire. and in short. we repeat it.com 91 . men wish to be pushed.

let an apothecary invent cardboard shoe-soles for the army of the Sambre-and-Meuse. in whatsoever it may consist.—history. and behold! you are a clever man. Be lucky. Let a notary transfigure himself into a deputy: let a false Corneille compose Tiridate. has one dupe. of which he is the father and of which it is the mother. let a preacher become a bishop 92 Les Miserables . Prosperity argues capacity. and construct for himself. Aeschylus. the multitude awards on the spot. Gilding is gold. Juvenal and Tacitus alone grumble at it. so long as you do arrive. Success. a philosophy which is almost official has entered into its service. that Menaechmus of talent. wears the livery of success. to whomsoever attains his object. He who triumphs is venerated. four hundred thousand francs of income. let a military Prudhomme accidentally win the decisive battle of an epoch. and by acclamation.success has almost the same profile as supremacy. In our day. and people will think you great. which compose the splendor of a century. That enormous ability by virtue of which one is Moses. It does no harm to be the first arrival by pure chance. and you will have all the rest. let a eunuch come to possess a harem. contemporary admiration is nothing but short-sightedness. out of this cardboard. Michael Angelo. be happy. let a pork-packer espouse usury. sold as leather. Dante. Outside of five or six immense exceptions. and performs the service of its antechamber. and cause it to bring forth seven or eight millions. or Napoleon. The common herd is an old Narcissus who adores himself. Be born with a silver spoon in your mouth! everything lies in that. Succeed: theory. Win in the lottery. and who applauds the vulgar herd.

just as they call the face of Mousqueton Beauty. and the mien of Claude Majesty.com 93 . let the steward of a fine family be so rich on retiring from service that he is made minister of finances.by force of his nasal drawl. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.—and men call that Genius. With the constellations of space they confound the stars of the abyss which are made in the soft mire of the puddle by the feet of ducks.

‘Thou art with God!’ The point which we consider it our duty to note is.CHAPTER XIII WHAT HE BELIEVED We are not obliged to sound the Bishop of D—— on the score of orthodoxy. we admit the possible development of all beauties of human virtue in a belief that differs from our own. the Bishop possessed an excess of love. In the presence of such a soul we feel ourselves in no mood but respect. Moreover. quia multum 94 Les Miserables . certain natures being given. The point on which we are certain is. In was in that quarter. that the difficulties of faith never resolved themselves into hypocrisy in his case. The conscience of the just man should be accepted on his word. as it were. and which whispers to a man. where souls enter naked. ‘Credo in Patrem. that outside of and beyond his faith. He believed to the extent of his powers. or of that mystery? These secrets of the inner tribunal of the conscience are known only to the tomb.’ he often exclaimed. No decay is possible to the diamond. Moreover. he drew from good works that amount of satisfaction which suffices to the conscience. What did he think of this dogma.

even the best. it was a large. He lived without disdain. He seemed at times to be asking God to commute these penalties. He was indulgent towards God’s creation. almost softened by them. The Bishop of D—— had none of that harshness. hairy. on occasion. the cause. the explanation. which is peculiar to many priests. extended even to things. or the excuse for them. but he seemed to have weighed this saying of Ecclesiastes: ‘Who knoweth whither the soul of the animal goeth?’ Hideousness of aspect. It seemed as though he went thoughtfully away to seek beyond the bounds of life which is apparent. has within him a thoughtless harshness which he reserves for animals. He did not go as far as the Brahmin. One morning he was in his garden. His sister heard him say:— ‘Poor beast! It is not its fault!’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and which. frightful spider. nevertheless. but his sister was walking behind him. and thought himself alone. that portion of chaos which still exists in nature. and with the eye of a linguist who is deciphering a palimpsest. favorite locutions of our sad world where egotism takes its word of command from pedantry. and did not arouse his indignation. Every man. as we have already pointed out.—because he loved much—that he was regarded as vulnerable by ‘serious men. black. What was this excess of love? It was a serene benevolence which overflowed men.amavit. troubled him not. This revery sometimes caused him to utter odd sayings. unseen by him: suddenly he paused and gazed at something on the ground. He examined without wrath.com 95 . deformity of instinct. He was touched.’ ‘grave persons’ and ‘reasonable people”.

held himself erect and smiling. he was fond of taking long strolls on foot. and then there was nothing more venerable possible. at the age of eighty. and of which we have already spoken. Monseigneur Bienvenu had formerly been. and. these formations are indestructible. his step was firm. 96 Les Miserables . there may exist apertures made by drops of water. and.Why not mention these almost divinely childish sayings of kindness? Puerile they may be. in a character. a violent man. for. thought by thought. as we think we have already said. as in a rock. he was rather plump. and had trickled there slowly. In 1815. and his form was but slightly bent. a detail from which we do not pretend to draw any conclusion. One day he sprained his ankle in his effort to avoid stepping on an ant. were to be believed. Monseigneur Welcome had what the people term a ‘fine head. His universal suavity was less an instinct of nature than the result of a grand conviction which had filtered into his heart through the medium of life. if the stories anent his youth. he reached his seventy-fifth birthday. possibly. Gregory XVI. but these sublime puerilities were peculiar to Saint Francis d’Assisi and of Marcus Aurelius. but he did not appear to be more than sixty. When he conversed with that infantile gayety which was one of his charms. a passionate. He was not tall. in order to combat this tendency. Sometimes he fell asleep in his garden. which did not prevent him from being a bad bishop.’ but so amiable was he that they forgot that it was fine.. and even in regard to his manhood. These hollows are uneffaceable. Thus lived this just man.

and indulgent souls where thought is so grand that it can no longer be anything but gentle.people felt at their ease with him. Filled is exactly the word. and of an old man. and one felt that one had before him one of those strong. the cultivation of a bit of land. all of which he had preserved. I know not what. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. in fact. gave him that open and easy air which cause the remark to be made of a man. On the first encounter. renunciation. alms-giving. but a fine man. and beheld him in the least degree pensive. became august also by virtue of meditation. penetrated you by degrees and mounted to your heart.com 97 . filled every day of his life. thoroughly tried. prayer. the fine man became gradually transfigured. study. certainly the Bishop’s day was quite full to the brim. rendered august by his white locks. Respect. confidence. and joy seemed to radiate from his whole person. majesty radiated from his goodness. his very white teeth. But if one remained near him for a few hours. and to one who saw him for the first time. and took on some imposing quality. work. one experienced something of the emotion which one would feel on beholding a smiling angel slowly unfold his wings. ‘He is a fine man. frugality. though his goodness ceased not to be radiant. fraternity. the celebration of the offices of religion. his broad and serious brow. and which were displayed by his smile. of good words and good deeds. hospitality. without ceasing to smile.’ That. it will be recalled. was the effect which he produced upon Napoleon. the consolation of the afflicted. His fresh and ruddy complexion. As we have seen. an unutterable respect. he was nothing. ‘He’s a good fellow”.

a mystery still more strange. adoring. of all the infinities. comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the ether. Sometimes. probably. he gazed upon it. peaceful. and something descend into him. what was passing in his spirit. Mysterious exchange of the abysses of the soul with the abysses of the universe! He thought of the grandeur and presence of God. At such moments. illuminated like a lamp amid the starry night. they heard him pacing slowly along the walks at a very advanced hour of the night. He considered those magnificent conjunctions of atoms. and. while he offered his heart at the hour when nocturnal flowers offer their perfume. to prepare himself for slumber by meditation in the presence of the grand spectacles of the nocturnal heavens. as he poured himself out in ecstasy in the midst of the universal radiance of creation. if the two old women were not asleep. without seeking to comprehend the incomprehensible. it was not complete if cold or rainy weather prevented his passing an hour or two in his garden before going to bed. beneath his eyes. which communicate aspects to matter.Nevertheless. which pierced their way into all his senses. moved amid the darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations and the invisible splendor of God. and after the two women had retired. He did not study God. reveal forces by verifying 98 Les Miserables . It seemed to be a sort of rite with him. of the eternity past. of the future eternity. He was there alone. he felt something take its flight from him. he was dazzled by him. opening his heart to the thoughts which fall from the Unknown. he could not have told himself. communing with himself. that strange mystery.

them. create individualities in unity. between gardening in the daytime and contemplation at night? Was not this narrow enclosure. and all the stars in the sky. sufficient to enable him to adore God in his most divine works. and satisfied his wants. he gazed at the stars. with the heavens for a ceiling. the innumerable in the infinite. who divided the leisure of his life. What more was needed by this old man. was dear to him.com 99 . through light. These conjunctions are formed and dissolved incessantly. in turn? Does not this comprehend all. so encumbered with mean buildings and sheds. and immensity in which to dream. produce beauty. over head that which one can study and meditate upon: some flowers on earth. This quarter of an acre. where there was so little leisure. so poorly planted. He seated himself on a wooden bench. proportions in extent. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. hence life and death. in fact? and what is there left to desire beyond it? A little garden in which to walk. past the puny and stunted silhouettes of his fruit-trees. with his back against a decrepit vine. At one’s feet that which can be cultivated and plucked. and.

particularly at the present moment. That which enlightened this man was his heart. The apostle may be daring. there is nothing to indicate that he risked his mind in apocalypses. and to use an expression now in fashion. no. Since this sort of details might. He would probably have felt a scruple at sounding too far in advance certain problems which are. His wisdom was made of the light which comes from there. which sometimes spring up in solitary spirits. give to the Bishop of D—— a certain ‘pantheistical’ physiognomy. that not one of those persons who knew Monseigneur Welcome would have thought himself authorized to think anything of the sort. in a manner.CHAPTER XIV WHAT HE THOUGHT One last word. either to his credit or discredit. we insist upon it. and there take on a form and grow until they usurp the place of religion. but the bishop must be timid. reserved for terrible great minds. There is a sacred horror beneath the porches of the enigma. Abstruse speculations contain vertigo. many works. those 100 Les Miserables . No systems. that he entertained one of those personal philosophies which are peculiar to our century. and induce the belief.

and who have the terrible vision of the infinite mountain. Their prayer audaciously offers discussion. This is direct religion. that by a sort of splendid reaction. above all dogmas. a passer-by in life. it is probable that the contemplators are contemplated. One might almost say. Monseigneur Welcome was not a genius. the mysterious world which surrounds us renders back what it has received. these powerful reveries have their moral utility. which is full of anxiety and responsibility for him who attempts its steep cliffs. As for him. it analyzes and digs deep into its own bedazzlement. he did not see to condense in flame Free eBooks at Planet eBook. have slipped into insanity. Their adoration interrogates. situated.gloomy openings stand yawning there. Certainly. but something tells you. He would have feared those sublimities whence some very great men even. At his own risk and peril. propose their ideas to God. He did not attempt to impart to his chasuble the folds of Elijah’s mantle. that you must not enter. so to speak. and by these arduous paths one approaches to ideal perfection. there are on earth men who—are they men?— perceive distinctly at the verge of the horizons of revery the heights of the absolute. Monseigneur Welcome was one of these men. he took the path which shortens. Human meditation has no limits. like Swedenborg and Pascal. However that may be. he projected no ray of future upon the dark groundswell of events.— the Gospel’s. Woe to him who penetrates thither! Geniuses in the impenetrable depths of abstraction and pure speculation. you. it with it dazzles nature.com 101 .

and if it is a heresy to pray beyond the texts. Universal misery was his mine. Love each other. he strove to dress the wound. This humble soul loved. the strongest has the most wit.the light of things.’ replied Monseigneur Welcome. that man who believed himself to be a ‘philosopher. the 102 Les Miserables . he was occupied only in finding for himself. The terrible spectacle of created things developed tenderness in him. he toiled at the extraction of pity. without contesting the point.’—‘Well. everywhere he felt fever. Saint Theresa and Saint Jerome would be heretics. The sadness which reigned everywhere was but an excuse for unfailing kindness. he declared this to be complete. There are men who toil at extracting gold. ‘if it is nonsense. and that was the whole of his doctrine. he had nothing of the prophet and nothing of the magician about him.’ the senator who has already been alluded to. everywhere he heard the sound of suffering. said to the Bishop: ‘Just survey the spectacle of the world: all war against all. Your love each other is nonsense. He inclined towards all that groans and all that expiates. and in inspiring others with the best way to compassionate and relieve. without seeking to solve the enigma. The universe appeared to him like an immense malady. desired nothing further. That which exists was for this good and rare priest a permanent subject of sadness which sought consolation. and that was all. That he carried prayer to the pitch of a superhuman aspiration is probable: but one can no more pray too much than one can love too much. and. One day.

the precipices of metaphysics—all those profundities which converge. the fathomless perspectives of abstraction. good and evil. the transformation in death. and who cherished in his own soul a grave respect for darkness. nature. liberty. and the Ens. where lean the gigantic archangels of the human mind. for the apostle in God. Dante.’ Thus he shut himself up. as the pearl in the oyster. he was absolutely satisfied with it. formidable abysses. perpendicular problems. the recapitulation of existences which the tomb contains.com 103 . necessity. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. which Lucretius. sinister obscurities.soul should shut itself up in it. contemplate with eyes flashing lightning. Saint Paul. the way of being against being. he lived there. the Nile. the incomprehensible grafting of successive loves on the persistent I. the substance. the essence. destiny. which seems by its steady gaze on the infinite to cause stars to blaze forth there. Manou. for the atheist in nothingness. the thoughtful somnambulism of the animal. leaving on one side the prodigious questions which attract and terrify. Monseigneur Bienvenu was simply a man who took note of the exterior of mysterious questions without scrutinizing them. the soul. the conscience of man. and without troubling his own mind with them.

BOOK SECOND—THE FALL 104 Les Miserables .

worn and threadbare. a man who was travelling on foot entered the little town of D—— The few inhabitants who were at their windows or on their thresholds at the moment stared at this traveller with a sort of uneasiness. knotty stick in his hand.CHAPTER I THE EVENING OF A DAY OF WALKING Early in the month of October. and dripping with perspiration. a tightly packed soldier knapsack. an enormous. on his back. tattered blouse. patched on one of the elbows with a bit of green cloth sewed on with twine. about an hour before sunset. thickset and robust. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He might have been forty-six or forty-eight years old. an old gray. permitted a view of his hairy breast: he had a cravat twisted into a string. It was difficult to encounter a wayfarer of more wretched appearance. He was a man of medium stature. white on one knee and torn on the other. burned and tanned by sun and wind. fastened at the neck by a small silver anchor.com 105 . in the prime of life. A cap with a drooping leather visor partly concealed his face. well buckled and perfectly new. 1815. His shirt of coarse yellow linen. trousers of blue drilling.

stared attentively at him. He must have been very thirsty: for the children who followed him saw him stop again for a drink.iron-shod shoes on his stockingless feet. the heat. had witnessed the passage of the Emperor Napoleon on his way from Cannes to Paris. His hair was closely cut. This man must have been walking all day. Some women of the ancient market town which is situated below the city had seen him pause beneath the trees of the boulevard Gassendi. A gendarme was seated near the door. seven months previously. the journey on foot. added I know not what sordid quality to this dilapidated whole. for he made his entrance into D—— by the same street which. from the seashore. then came out a quarter of an hour later. Whence came he? From the south. The man pulled off his cap and humbly saluted the gendarme. yet bristling. and directed his steps toward the townhall. on the stone bench which General Drouot had mounted on the 4th of March to read to the frightened throng of the inhabitants of D—— the proclamation of the Gulf Juan. No one knew him. the dust. The sweat. two hundred paces further on. a shaved head and a long beard. The gendarme. and 106 Les Miserables . for it had begun to grow a little. and did not seem to have been cut for some time. followed him for a while with his eyes. and drink at the fountain which stands at the end of the promenade. He entered. he turned to the left. without replying to his salute. perhaps. He was evidently only a chance passer-by. at the fountain in the market-place. On arriving at the corner of the Rue Poichevert. He seemed very much fatigued.

The truth is. All the stoves were lighted.then entered the town-hall. which opened on a level with the street. Any one who Free eBooks at Planet eBook. had made frequent trips thither in the month of January.com 107 . This glory of the Labarre of the Three Dauphins was reflected upon the Labarre of the Cross of Colbas. It was said of him in the town. which was the best in the country-side. and he had betaken himself to the Three Dauphins. ‘That is the cousin of the man of Grenoble. a huge fire blazed gayly in the fireplace. who was also the chief cook. disguised as a carter. and laughter were audible from an adjoining apartment. The host. very busily superintending an excellent dinner designed for the wagoners. at a distance of five and twenty leagues. He entered the kitchen. he had thanked the mayor. and had served in the Guides. many rumors had circulated throughout the country with regard to this inn of the Three Dauphins.’ The man bent his steps towards this inn. who kept the inn of the Three Dauphins in Grenoble. saying. and that he had distributed crosses of honor to the soldiers and handfuls of gold to the citizens. ‘I am going to the house of a brave man of my acquaintance”. whose loud talking. a man of consideration in the town on account of his relationship to another Labarre. was going from one stew-pan to another. conversation. At the time of the Emperor’s landing. It was said that General Bertrand. This inn had for a landlord a certain Jacquin Labarre. that when the Emperor entered Grenoble he had refused to install himself at the hotel of the prefecture. There then existed at D—— a fine inn at the sign of the Cross of Colbas.

‘Immediately. ‘I have money. The evenings are cold there in October.’ said the host. two huge carps from Lake Lauzet and a trout from Lake Alloz were cooking. D—— is in the mountains. On the white margin he wrote a line or two. retained his stick in his hand. Jacquin Labarre.’ The man drew a large leather purse from the pocket of his blouse.’ ‘In that case. ‘By paying for it.’ replied the host. A fat marmot. But as the host went back and forth. put it on the ground near the door.’ said the man. drew a pencil from his pocket. ‘Nothing easier. removed his knapsack from his back. he scrutinized the traveller. without raising his eyes from his stoves:— ‘What do you wish. At that moment he turned his head. and answered.’ replied the landlord. the worthy host. ‘Will dinner be ready soon?’ said the man. sir?’ ‘Food and lodging. and seated himself on a low stool close to the fire. said. The host. took in the traveller’s appearance with a single glance. flanked by white partridges and heather-cocks. hearing the door open and seeing a newcomer enter. then tore off the corner of an old newspaper which was lying on a small table near the window. was turning on a long spit before the fire. folded 108 Les Miserables .has travelled knows that there is no one who indulges in better cheer than wagoners. The man put his purse back in his pocket. we are at your service. with his back turned. While the newcomer was warming himself before the fire. and added. on the stove.

’ ‘What then?’ ‘You have money—‘ ‘Yes. The host unfolded it eagerly.’ ‘I cannot. who appeared to be immersed in reflections which were not very serene. ‘Will dinner be ready soon?’ ‘Immediately. The landlord whispered a word in the scullion’s ear. a truss of straw.’ responded the host.’ The man resumed tranquilly. and then intrusted this scrap of paper to a child who seemed to serve him in the capacity both of scullion and lackey. ‘And I. then tossed his head.’ said the host.’ said the man. like a person who is expecting a reply. ‘a corner of the loft then. ‘Put me in the stable. Once more he inquired. The child returned. He brought back the paper. sir. The traveller saw nothing of all this. The man half rose. Then he took a step in the direction of the traveller.’ ‘Why?’ ‘The horses take up all the space.’ said he. He seemed to read it attentively.it without sealing.’ ‘Very well!’ retorted the man.com 109 . I tell you. ‘have no room.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ ‘It is not that. ‘I cannot receive you. and the child set off on a run in the direction of the town-hall. We will see about that after dinner. ‘What! Are you afraid that I will not pay you? Do you want me to pay you in advance? I have money. and remained thoughtful for a moment.

still in a low voice: ‘Stop! there’s enough of that sort of talk. I sent to 110 Les Miserables .’ The man seated himself again.’ Then the host bent down to his ear.’ said the landlord. He rose. he turned quickly round. struck the stranger as grave. I have travelled twelve leagues.’ ‘By whom?’ ‘By messieurs the wagoners. and I shall remain.’ ‘I have nothing. ‘Ah! bah! But I am dying of hunger. and said in a tone which made him start. I am hungry. Do you want me to tell you your name? Your name is Jean Valjean. ‘Go away!’ At that moment the traveller was bending forward and thrusting some brands into the fire with the iron-shod tip of his staff. I have been walking since sunrise. the host gazed steadily at him and added. I wish to eat.‘I cannot give you any dinner.’ This declaration. The man burst out laughing.’ ‘There is enough food there for twenty. I pay. Now do you want me to tell you who you are? When I saw you come in I suspected something. and turned towards the fireplace and the stoves: ‘Nothing! and all that?’ ‘All that is engaged.’ ‘They have engaged the whole of it and paid for it in advance. and said. without raising his voice.’ ‘How many are there of them?’ ‘Twelve. made in a measured but firm tone. and as he opened his mouth to reply. ‘I am at an inn.

The landlord resumed after a pause. Can you read?’ So saying. The man cast a glance upon it. from the glances of terror and distrust cast by the group. He chose the principal street. talking vivaciously. and this was the reply that was sent to me. he held out to the stranger. to see whether he could not discover some shelter. walking on without ceasing. and took his departure. fully unfolded. Thus he proceeded for some time. and pointing him out with his finger. He glanced about him. and all the passers-by in the street. forgetful of his fatigue. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and. He saw nothing of all this. keeping close to the houses like a sad and humiliated man. ‘I am in the habit of being polite to every one.the town-hall. the paper which had just travelled from the inn to the townhall. and from the town-hall to the inn. Go away!’ The man dropped his head. as is often the case when a man is sad. picked up the knapsack which he had deposited on the ground. He did not turn round a single time. Night was drawing near. All at once he felt the pangs of hunger sharply. he might have divined that his arrival would speedily become an event for the whole town. Had he done so.com 111 . People who are crushed do not look behind them. traversing at random streets of which he knew nothing. They know but too well the evil fate which follows them. he would have seen the host of the Cross of Colbas standing on his threshold. He walked straight on at a venture. surrounded by all the guests of his inn.

which were exhausted with fatigue. He stretched out his feet. is by two doors. ‘Some one who wants supper and bed.’ He approached and seated himself near the hearth. Some men were engaged in drinking there. comrade. The traveller dare not enter by the street door. and peeped through the window into the interior of the low-studded room of the public house. which is also a sort of an inn. Just then a light flashed up at the end of the streets. One opens on the street. a pine branch suspended from a cross-beam of iron was outlined against the white sky of the twilight. ‘Who goes there?’ said the master. He proceeded thither. It proved to be.’ He entered. the other upon a small yard filled with manure. We furnish supper and bed here. a public house. suspended from a crane.The fine hostelry was closed to him. He slipped into the yard. The landlord was warming himself. All the men who were drinking turned round. however lowly. The public house which is in the Rue de Chaffaut. The entrance to this public house. 112 Les Miserables . halted again. They examined him for some time while he was taking off his knapsack. he was seeking some very humble public house. the firelight on the other. The lamp illuminated him on one side. bubbled over the flame. The host said to him. An iron pot. some hovel. ‘There is the fire. then raised the latch timidly and opened the door. The supper is cooking in the pot. The wayfarer halted for a moment. illuminated by a small lamp on a table and by a large fire on the hearth. Come and warm yourself.’ ‘Good. in fact.

had requested him to take him on his crupper. This fishmonger had been a member half an hour previously of the group which surrounded Jacquin Labarre. mingled with that other poignant aspect which habitual suffering bestows. From where he sat he made an imperceptible sign to the tavern-keeper. Now.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and ended by seeming severe.to the fire. and said to him:— ‘You are going to get out of here. the man. assumed a vague appearance of comfort. The tavern-keeper returned to the fireplace. had been to stable his horse at Labarre’s. a fine odor was emitted by the pot. when he met him. a firm. It was. They exchanged a few words in a low tone. The man had again become absorbed in his reflections. I think it was Escoublon. and melancholy profile. it began by seeming humble. beneath his cap. energetic. and had himself related his disagreeable encounter of the morning to the people at the Cross of Colbas. moreover. before entering the public house of the Rue de Chaffaut. The tavern-keeper went to him. One of the men seated at the table. who then seemed already extremely weary.com 113 . The eye shone beneath its lashes like a fire beneath brushwood. laid his hand abruptly on the shoulder of the man. It chanced that he had that very morning encountered this unprepossessing stranger on the road between Bras d’Asse and—I have forgotten the name. which was well pulled down. All that could be distinguished of his face. This physiognomy was strangely composed. however. to which the fishmonger had made no reply except by redoubling his gait. was a fishmonger who.

He rang. ‘Ah! You know?—‘ ‘Yes.’ said he. He peered through the pane as he had done at the public house. and threatened them with his stick: the children dispersed like a flock of birds. As he went out.’ ‘And you are to be turned out of this one. and give me a lodging for the night?’ A voice replied:— ‘The prison is not an inn. Some of them are enclosed only by hedges. threw stones at him. removing his cap politely.’ The wicket closed again. At the door hung an iron chain attached to a bell. ‘Turnkey. and you will be admitted.’ ‘I was sent away from the other inn. the window of which was lighted up.The stranger turned round and replied gently. The wicket opened. He passed before the prison. He retraced his steps in anger. In the midst of these gardens and hedges he caught sight of a small house of a single story. He entered a little street in which there were many gardens.’ ‘Where would you have me go?’ ‘Elsewhere. and who seemed to be lying in wait for him. ‘will you have the kindness to admit me. Within 114 Les Miserables .’ The man took his stick and his knapsack and departed. which lends a cheerful aspect to the street. some children who had followed him from the Cross of Colbas. Get yourself arrested.

He wore a huge leather apron. He tapped again.com 115 . the mother was smiling.was a large whitewashed room. He was a man of lofty stature. and went to the door. Close by a very young woman was nursing another child. A copper lamp illuminated the tablecloth of coarse white linen. The husband rose. in a place where he beheld so much happiness. and the brown. and filled with wine.’ ‘No. that some one is knocking. which he opened. At this table sat a man of about forty. he would find perhaps a little pity. and a cradle in one corner. He heard the woman say. with a merry and open countenance. the child was laughing. a few wooden chairs. smoking soup-tureen. the pewter jug shining like silver. took the lamp. with a bed draped in printed cotton stuff. It is probable that he thought that this joyous house would be hospitable. The stranger paused a moment in revery before this tender and calming spectacle. half peasant. A table was spread in the centre of the room. husband.’ replied the husband. and that. The father was laughing. He tapped on the pane with a very small and feeble knock. who was dandling a little child on his knees. which reached to his Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘It seems to me. and a double-barrelled gun hanging on the wall. What was taking place within him? He alone could have told. He tapped a third time. They did not hear him. half artisan.

I have walked all day long. which is indescribable. I have travelled twelve leagues. prominent eyes. sir.’ said the wayfarer. Can you?— if I pay?’ ‘I would not refuse. in consideration of payment. ‘Could you. in the Rue Chaffaut?’ 116 Les Miserables . white and bare. He did not receive me. his shirt. in which to sleep? Tell me. widely opened and turned back. and all sorts of objects which were upheld by the girdle. a red handkerchief.’ said the peasant. and besides all this. a powder-horn.’ ‘Bah! Impossible. The man replied: ‘I have just come from Puy-Moisson.’ ‘Well?’ The traveller replied with embarrassment: ‘I do not know. This is neither a fair nor a market day. ‘Pardon me. give me a plate of soup and a corner of that shed yonder in the garden. can you? For money?’ ‘Who are you?’ demanded the master of the house. the lower part of his face like a snout. Have you been to Labarre?’ ‘Yes. displayed his bull neck. enormous black whiskers. caused to bulge out. ‘to lodge any respectable man who would pay me. and which a hammer. But why do you not go to the inn?’ ‘There is no room.’ ‘Have you been to What’s-his-name’s.left shoulder. as in a pocket. that air of being on his own ground. He had thick eyelashes. He carried his head thrown backwards.

rascally marauder. he surveyed the newcomer from head to feet. and took his gun down from the wall. Then he closed the door violently. After having scrutinized the man for several moments. with a sort of shudder:— ‘Are you the man?—‘ He cast a fresh glance upon the stranger. the windowshutter was closed. he stammered. A cold wind from the Alps was Free eBooks at Planet eBook. as one scrutinizes a viper. staring in terror at the stranger. ‘A shot from my gun!’ said the peasant.’ said the man. and suddenly exclaimed. and the sound of a bar of iron which was placed against it was audible outside. and the man heard him shoot two large bolts. Night continued to fall. ‘He did not receive me either. ‘Tsomaraude. and with frightened eyes. the master of the house returned to the door and said:— ‘Clear out!’ ‘For pity’s sake. A moment later. with her bosom uncovered. Are you the man? the woman had risen. a glass of water. and had taken refuge precipitately behind her husband. All this took place in less time than it requires to picture it to one’s self. had clasped her two children in her arms.com 117 . took three steps backwards.’[1] [1] Patois of the French Alps: chat de maraude.’ The peasant’s countenance assumed an expression of distrust. at the words.The stranger’s embarrassment increased. as she murmured in a low tone. placed the lamp on the table. Meanwhile.

he set about unbuckling one of the straps.blowing. at least. and found himself in the garden. not without enlarging the rents in his rags. in one of the gardens which bordered the street. made a shield of his knapsack. It was warm there. a sort of hut. the dwelling of a road-laborer. a shelter from the cold. Then. to have recourse to that manoeuvre with his stick which masters in 118 Les Miserables . and as it furnished. in fact. He was himself vigorous and formidable. and he found a tolerably good bed of straw. By the light of the expiring day the stranger perceived. he was suffering from cold and hunger. He thought without doubt. and it resembled those buildings which road-laborers construct for themselves along the roads. He left the garden in the same manner. its door consisted of a very low and narrow aperture. a ferocious growl became audible. but this was. so fatigued was he. It was a dog’s kennel. that it was. At that moment. and made his way out of the kennel in the best way he could. being obliged. but backwards. This sort of dwelling is not usually occupied at night. He raised his eyes. He climbed over the wooden fence resolutely. stretched out on this bed. and crawled into the hut. as the knapsack on his back was in his way. without the power to make a movement. for a moment. The head of an enormous dog was outlined in the darkness at the entrance of the hut. he armed himself with his staff. He threw himself flat on his face. a pillow ready to his hand. which seemed to him to be built of sods. He lay. moreover. He approached the hut. in order to keep the dog respectful.

Free eBooks at Planet eBook. When he felt himself far from every human habitation. He walked thus for some time. was outlined vague and wan against the gloomy horizon. resemble shaved heads. hoping to find some tree or haystack in the fields which would afford him shelter. and as there was still floating in the zenith a remnant of the brightness of twilight. which produces a particularly sinister effect. whose contour was poor and mean. He went out of the town. whence a gleam of light fell upon the earth. with his head still drooping. chased even from that bed of straw and from that miserable kennel. He was in a field.that sort of fencing designate as la rose couverte. ‘I am not even a dog!’ He soon rose again and resumed his march. and found himself once more in the street. after the harvest. which. When he had. without shelter. This was not alone the obscurity of night.com 119 . The earth was thus better lighted than the sky. not without difficulty. as the moon was about to rise. he dropped rather than seated himself on a stone. these clouds formed at the summit of the sky a sort of whitish arch. without a roof over his head. repassed the fence. and the hill. and it appears that a passer-by heard him exclaim. Before him was one of those low hills covered with close-cut stubble. without refuge. it was caused by very low-hanging clouds which seemed to rest upon the hill itself. alone. Meanwhile. The horizon was perfectly black. and which were mounting and filling the whole sky. The whole effect was hideous. he raised his eyes and gazed searchingly about him.

he shook his fist at the church. At the corner of this square there is a printing establishment. lugubrious. and narrow. He passed through a breach and entered the town again. It might have been eight o’clock in the evening. the gates of D—— were closed. He retraced his steps. There are instants when nature seems hostile. which had sustained sieges during the wars of religion. then to the seminary. As he was not acquainted with the streets. This man was evidently very far from having those delicate habits of intelligence and spirit which render one sensible to the mysterious aspects of things. It is there that the proclamations of the Emperor and of the Imperial Guard to the army. nevertheless. which writhed and shivered a few paces distant from the wayfarer.petty. D——. there was something in that sky. that after a moment of immobility and revery he turned back abruptly. which was so profoundly desolate. were printed for the first time. There was nothing in the field or on the hill except a deformed tree. he recommenced his walk at random. he lay down on a stone bench which stands at the 120 Les Miserables . was still surrounded in 1815 by ancient walls flanked by square towers which have been demolished since. in that plain. Worn out with fatigue. brought from the Island of Elba and dictated by Napoleon himself. and no longer entertaining any hope. In this way he came to the prefecture. As he passed through the Cathedral Square. in that hill. in that tree.

my friend?’ said she. ‘to-day I have a mattress of stone.doorway of this printing office. But have you tried? It is impossible for you to pass the night thus. in fact. At that moment an old woman came out of the church. Madame de R—— continued: ‘You cannot obtain lodgings in an inn for so small a sum. my good woman. which stood beside the Bishop’s palace. ‘You have knocked at all doors?’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. You are cold and hungry.’ ‘Alas!’ said Madame de R——.’ The good woman.’ said the man.’ ‘Give it to me all the same. a soldier. She saw the man stretched out in the shadow. ‘What are you doing there.’ ‘You have been a soldier?’ ‘Yes. and pointed out to him on the other side of the street a small.’ ‘Well?’ ‘I have been driven away everywhere. He answered harshly and angrily: ‘As you see. Some one might have given you a lodging out of charity. I am sleeping.’ ‘Why do you not go to the inn?’ ‘Because I have no money.’ The ‘good woman’ touched the man’s arm.com 121 . my good woman.’ ‘I have knocked at all doors. ‘I have only four sous in my purse. who was well worthy the name. no doubt. ‘I have had a mattress of wood for nineteen years. was the Marquise de R—— ‘On this bench?’ she went on. low house.’ The man took the four sous.

’ ‘Knock there.’ ‘Have you knocked at that one?’ ‘No.’ 122 Les Miserables .‘Yes.

the duties of all. duties towards one’s self (Matt. fathers. He was busy over a great work on Duties.). in the Epistle to the Ephesians. secondly. Saint Matthew points them out: duties towards God (Matt. duties towards one’s neighbor (Matt. The duties of all are the great duties. in the Epistle to the Hebrews. to magistrates. As for the other duties the Bishop found them pointed out and prescribed elsewhere: to sovereigns and subjects. duties towards animals (Matt. 29. to wives. 20. to Free eBooks at Planet eBook. unfortunately. His book was divided into two parts: firstly. vii. v.CHAPTER II PRUDENCE COUNSELLED TO WISDOM. vi. by Saint Peter. to the faithful. He was carefully compiling everything that the Fathers and the doctors have said on this important subject. according to the class to which he belongs. remained shut up rather late in his room. which was never completed. to husbands.com 123 . after his promenade through the town. children and servants. vi. the duties of each individual. There are four of these. That evening. 30). 25). to mothers. in the Epistle to the Romans. the Bishop of D——. to young men. 12).

slender. Madame Ma124 Les Miserables . A moment later. to get the silver-ware from the cupboard near his bed. dressed in a gown of puce-colored silk. which she had purchased at that date in Paris. the Bishop. As she performed this service. the table was near the fireplace. which had a door opening on the street (as we have said). plump. just putting the last touches to the table. and that his sister was probably waiting for him. A wood fire was burning there. both of whom were over sixty years of age. and a window opening on the garden. with a big book open on his knees. writing with a good deal of inconvenience upon little squares of paper. shut his book. To borrow vulgar phrases. of the fashion of 1806. with a fireplace. The dining-room was an oblong apartment. Mademoiselle Baptistine gentle. knowing that the table was set. Madame Magloire small. somewhat taller than her brother. which he desired to present to souls. in fact. A lamp stood on the table. when Madame Magloire entered. she was conversing with Mademoiselle Baptistine. frail.virgins. rose from his table. and which had lasted ever since. At eight o’clock he was still at work. Madame Magloire was. vivacious. which possess the merit of giving utterance in a single word to an idea which a whole page would hardly suffice to express. Out of these precepts he was laboriously constructing a harmonious whole. in the Epistle to the Corinthians. and entered the dining-room. according to her wont. One can easily picture to one’s self these two women.

Mademoiselle Baptistine did not even speak. even when she was young. with large. which was larger than the lower. she obeyed passively like her mistress. She confined herself to obeying and pleasing him. and kindly air. imparted to her a rather crabbed and imperious look. those three virtues which mildly warm the soul. breathed forth an ineffable goodness. and yellow stockings. and Mademoiselle Baptistine that of a lady. knotted round the waist with a green ribbon. an apron of cotton cloth in red and green checks. a gold Jeannette cross on a velvet ribbon upon her neck. a narrow. she had large. but as soon as Monseigneur began to speak. puffed sleeves. with flaps and buttons. So long as Monseigneur held his peace. with a stomacher of the same attached by two pins at the upper corners. had gradually elevated that gentleness to sanctiFree eBooks at Planet eBook. sheath-like skirt. the only bit of feminine jewelry that there was in the house. charity. and a long arched nose. but faith. short sleeves. Madame Magloire had an intelligent. her whole person. a very white fichu puffing out from a gown of coarse black woollen stuff. blue. Mademoiselle Baptistine’s gown was cut on the patterns of 1806. coarse shoes on her feet. She had never been pretty. as we have seen. like the women of Marseilles. with a short waist. She concealed her gray hair under a frizzed wig known as the baby wig. prominent eyes. as we stated in the beginning. hope. vivacious.gloire had the air of a peasant. She had always been predestined to gentleness. the two corners of her mouth unequally raised.com 125 . Madame Magloire wore a white quilted cap. but her whole visage. she talked to him resolutely with a mixture of respect and freedom. and her upper lip.

She was haranguing Mademoiselle Baptistine on a subject which was familiar to her and to which the Bishop was also accustomed. and warmed himself. At the moment when the Bishop entered. and care must be taken to duly close. The police was very badly organized. who sought to injure each other by making things happen. People had spoken of a prowler of evil appearance. because there was no love lost between the Prefect and the Mayor. It behooved wise people to play the part of their own police. and those who should take it into their heads to return home late that night might be subjected to unpleasant encounters. Madame Magloire had heard things in divers places. Madame Magloire emphasized these last words. Madame Magloire was talking with considerable vivacity. Nature had made her a lamb. that there are many people now living who still recall the most minute details. and to guard themselves well. moreover. 126 Les Miserables . and to fasten the doors well. The question concerned the lock upon the entrance door.ty. Poor sainted virgin! Sweet memory which has vanished! Mademoiselle Baptistine has so often narrated what passed at the episcopal residence that evening. bar and barricade their houses. He seated himself in front of the fire. but the Bishop had just come from his room. a suspicious vagabond had arrived who must be somewhere about the town. where it was rather cold. religion had made her an angel. It appears that while procuring some provisions for supper.

but the latter had not been willing to take him in. A gallows-bird with a terrible face. Then half-turning in his chair. Monseigneur. the police is so badly regulated’ (a useful repFree eBooks at Planet eBook. She repeated it. she pursued triumphantly:— ‘Yes. Then Mademoiselle Baptistine. He had been seen to arrive by the way of the boulevard Gassendi and roam about the streets in the gloaming. Every one says so. what is the matter? What is the matter? Are we in any great danger?’ Then Madame Magloire began the whole story afresh. was at that moment in the town.—‘Come. exaggerating it a little without being aware of the fact. desirous of satisfying Madame Magloire without displeasing her brother. ventured to say timidly:— ‘Did you hear what Madame Magloire is saying. He did not take up the remark dropped with design by Madame Magloire. brother?’ ‘I have heard something of it in a vague way. a bare-footed vagabond.and then fell to thinking of other things. and raising towards the old servant woman his cordial face. it seemed to her to indicate that the Bishop was on the point of becoming alarmed.com 127 . which so easily grew joyous. a sort of dangerous mendicant. And withal.’ replied the Bishop. placing his hands on his knees. There will be some sort of catastrophe in this town to-night. That is how it is. and which was illuminated from below by the firelight. It appeared that a Bohemian. He had presented himself at Jacquin Labarre’s to obtain lodgings. ‘Really!’ said the Bishop. This willingness to interrogate encouraged Madame Magloire.

moreover.’ At that moment there came a tolerably violent knock on the door. and not even having lights in the streets at night! One goes out. and Mademoiselle there says with me—‘ ‘I. 128 Les Miserables . the locksmith. Monseigneur.’ Madame Magloire continued as though there had been no protest:— ‘We say that this house is not safe at all.’ interrupted his sister. indeed! And I say. Black as ovens. I will go and tell Paulin Musebois. even in the middle of the night. if only for this night. and it is only the work of a moment. for I say that nothing is more terrible than a door which can be opened from the outside with a latch by the first passerby. and besides. Monseigneur has the habit of always saying ‘come in’. and I say that we need bolts. What my brother does is well done. ‘say nothing. ‘Come in. we have them. that if Monseigneur will permit.’ said the Bishop. to come and replace the ancient locks on the doors. ‘The idea of living in a mountainous country. O mon Dieu! there is no need to ask permission. Monseigneur.etition).

then. turning her head by degrees towards the fireplace again. He entered. She trembled. He was hideous. Mademoiselle Baptistine turned round. We already know the man. and halted. beheld the man entering. his cudgel in his hand. It opened wide with a rapid movement. and her face became once more profoundly calm and serene. It was the wayfarer whom we have seen wandering about in search of shelter. and stood with her mouth wide open. audacious. The door opened. and violent expression in his eyes.com 129 .CHAPTER III THE HEROISM OF PASSIVE OBEDIENCE. The fire on the hearth lighted him up. she began to observe her brother. weary. It was a sinister apparition. and half started up in terror. Madame Magloire had not even the strength to utter a cry. as though some one had given it an energetic and resolute push. A man entered. advanced a step. He had his knapsack on his shoulders. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. leaving the door open behind him. a rough.

No one would take me. ‘Be off. twelve leagues on foot. and I reentered the town. the man rested both hands on his staff. and said to me. They said to me. and without waiting for the Bishop to speak. intending to sleep in the open air. which I had shown at the town-hall. One would have said that he knew who I was. doubtless to ask the new-comer what he desired. I was liberated four days ago. the dog bit me and chased me off. A good woman pointed out your house to me. I am a convict from the galleys. directed his gaze at the old man and the two women. This evening. I have travelled a dozen leagues to-day on foot. which is my destination. I thought it was going to rain. and they turned me out. when I arrived in these parts. I have been walking for four days since I left Toulon. I went to an inn. as though he had been a man. ‘Knock there!’ I have knocked.’ at both places. I will pay. beneath the stars. I am 130 Les Miserables . and am on my way to Pontarlier. I am very weary.The Bishop fixed a tranquil eye on the man. in a loud voice:— ‘See here. Yonder. in the square. the jailer would not admit me. I went to an inn. I have passed nineteen years in the galleys. to seek the recess of a doorway. because of my yellow passport. he said. in the course of nineteen years. As he opened his mouth. which I earned in the galleys by my labor. My name is Jean Valjean. I went to the prison. There were no stars. I went into the fields. What is that to me? I have money. I had to do it. What is this place? Do you keep an inn? I have money—savings. One hundred and nine francs fifteen sous. I went into a dog’s kennel. I meant to sleep on a stone bench.

Are you willing to receive me? Is this an inn? Will you give me something to eat and a bed? Have you a stable?’ ‘Madame Magloire. fourteen years for having attempted to escape on four occasions. up to that time sombre and harsh.’ The man advanced three paces. discharged convict. Yellow. He is a very dangerous man. I learned in the galleys. and your bed will be prepared while you are supping. The Bishop turned to the man. ‘that’s not it. Will you read it? I know how to read. The expression of his face. ‘Sit down. I come from the galleys.’ He drew from his pocket a large sheet of yellow paper. ‘you will put white sheets on the bed in the alcove.very hungry. This serves to expel me from every place where I go. this is what they put on this passport: ‘Jean Valjean.’ said the Bishop. ‘Stop. Did you hear? I am a galley-slave. Madame Magloire retired to execute these orders.com 131 . which he unfolded. as though he had not quite understood.’ There! Every one has cast me out. Are you willing that I should remain?’ ‘Madame Magloire. ‘Here’s my passport. and warm yourself.’ said the Bishop. ‘you will set another place. a convict. as you see.’ At this point the man suddenly comprehended. Hold.’ he resumed. We are going to sup in a few moments.’ We have already explained the character of the two women’s obedience. There is a school there for those who choose to learn. and approached the lamp which was on the table. bore Free eBooks at Planet eBook. sir. native of’—that is nothing to you—‘has been nineteen years in the galleys: five years for house-breaking and burglary.

’ added the man. I have money. Then you do not require me to pay?’ ‘No. of joy. monsieur the inn-keeper. A good priest is a very good thing. You are an inn-keeper.’ As he spoke. ‘keep your money. ‘a priest who lives here. truly! I had not perceived your skull-cap. Besides. I will pay well. He continued: ‘You are humane.’ ‘A priest!’ said the man. are you not?’ ‘I am. Monsieur le Cure. replaced his passport in his pocket. How much have you? Did you not tell me one hundred and nine francs?’ ‘And fifteen sous. so I told you at once who I am. what a good woman that was who directed me hither! I am going to sup! A bed with a mattress and sheets. you have not scorned me. but what is your name? I will pay anything you ask. He began stammering like a crazy man:— ‘Really? What! You will keep me? You do not drive me forth? A convict! You call me sir! You do not address me as thou? ‘Get out of here. You are a fine man. are you not? the cure of this big church? Well! I am a fool.’ said the Bishop. 132 Les Miserables . Oh. and seated himself. what a fine priest! Then you are not going to demand any money of me? You are the cure. ‘Oh.the imprint of stupefaction. like the rest of the world! a bed! It is nineteen years since I have slept in a bed! You actually do not want me to go! You are good people. he deposited his knapsack and his cudgel in a corner. of doubt. I felt sure that you would expel me. Mademoiselle Baptistine gazed mildly at him. you dog!’ is what people always say to me. Pardon me. and became extraordinary.’ replied the Bishop.

’ Each time that he uttered the word sir. but he was too far off. but it is such a far-off thing to me! You understand what we are! He said mass in the middle of the galleys. ‘Madame Magloire.’ said the Bishop. She brought a silver fork and spoon. He had a pointed thing. We were all ranged in lines on the three sides. the Bishop had gone and shut the door. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Madame Magloire returned. He was the Bishop of Majore at Marseilles. the man’s face lighted up.’ ‘Nineteen years!’ The Bishop sighed deeply. which she placed on the table. I say that very badly. In four days I have spent only twenty-five sous. And one day I saw a bishop there. I will tell you that we had a chaplain in the galleys. on an altar. We could not see very well. You must be cold.com 133 . That is what a bishop is like. Monseigneur is what they call him. on his head. you understand. which I earned by helping unload some wagons at Grasse. ‘place those things as near the fire as possible. made of gold. and we did not hear. in his voice which was so gently grave and polished. with cannons with lighted matches facing us. it glittered in the bright light of midday. The man continued: ‘I have still the whole of my money.‘One hundred and nine francs fifteen sous. Pardon me. which had remained wide open. sir. He is the cure who rules over the other cures.’ While he was speaking.’ And turning to his guest: ‘The night wind is harsh on the Alps. Since you are an abbe. And how long did it take you to earn that?’ ‘Nineteen years. He spoke.

What need have I to know your name? Besides. And do not thank me.’ exclaimed the man. that you are much more at home here than I am myself. do not say that I receive you in my house. except the man who needs a refuge. You suffer. that I no 134 Les Miserables .’ said the man. ‘I was very hungry when I entered here. gently touched his hand. You receive me into your house. you do not despise me.’ The man opened his eyes in astonishment. and placed them. who was sitting close to him. Madame Magloire understood him. on the table.’ ‘Stop.’ said the Bishop. who are passing by. ‘you are called my brother. you are welcome. Yet I have not concealed from you whence I come and that I am an unfortunate man. Everything here is yours. ‘Really? You knew what I was called?’ ‘Yes. but you are so good.’ The Bishop. You light your candles for me. No one is at home here. before you told me you had one which I knew. ‘This lamp gives a very bad light. and went to get the two silver candlesticks from the chimney-piece in Monseigneur’s bed-chamber. but whether he has a grief. it is the house of Jesus Christ. Ignominy thirsts for consideration. ‘Monsieur le Cure. This door does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name. ‘you are good. This is not my house. lighted. you are hungry and thirsty.’ replied the Bishop. I say to you. Monsieur le Cure.Monsieur to a convict is like a glass of water to one of the shipwrecked of the Medusa. ‘You could not help telling me who you were.

’ The Bishop looked at him. even sick and in bed. you are more worthy than any one of us. added to the Bishop’s ordinary fare a bottle of his old Mauves wine. the cell for one word. perfectly peaceable and natural. a bit of mutton. heat. took her seat at his left. if you emerge with thoughts of good-will and of peace. figs. the convicts. ‘To table!’ he cried vivaciously. Now there is the yellow passport.’ In the meantime. The Bishop’s face at once assumed that expression of gayety which is peculiar to hospitable natures. and said. of her own accord. the thrashings. ‘you have come from a very sad place. the red coat. a fresh cheese. made with water. Madame Magloire had served supper: soup.longer know what has happened to me. Listen. dogs are happier! Nineteen years! I am forty-six.’ ‘Yes. Mademoiselle Baptistine. still the chain! Dogs. and salt. As was his custom when a stranger supped with him. If you emerge from that sad place with thoughts of hatred and of wrath against mankind. a plank to sleep on. That is what it is like. a little bacon.’ resumed the Bishop. bread.com 135 . he made the man sit on his right. the ball on the ankle. There will be more joy in heaven over the tear-bathed face of a repentant sinner than over the white robes of a hundred just men. you are deserving of pity. and a large loaf of rye bread. She had. the double chain for nothing. cold. then helped the soup himFree eBooks at Planet eBook. oil.— ‘You have suffered much?’ ‘Oh. The Bishop asked a blessing. toil.

136 Les Miserables . when the Bishop had any one to supper. in fact. and a moment later the three sets of silver forks and spoons demanded by the Bishop were glittering upon the cloth. which was full of charm in that gentle and severe household. according to his custom. went out without saying a word. to lay out the whole six sets of silver on the tablecloth—an innocent ostentation. which raised poverty into dignity. This graceful semblance of luxury was a kind of child’s play. Madame Magloire understood the remark.self. only placed the three sets of forks and spoons which were absolutely necessary. All at once the Bishop said: ‘It strikes me there is something missing on this table. The man began to eat with avidity. symmetrically arranged before the three persons seated at the table. it was the usage of the house.’ Madame Magloire had. Now.

I see that plainly. You cannot be even a curate. but I must say that the carters who would not allow me to eat with them keep a better table than you do. wherein the conversation between the convict and the Bishop is described with ingenious minuteness. Now. However. You are poor.CHAPTER IV DETAILS CONCERNING THE CHEESE-DAIRIES OF PONTARLIER.com 137 . My brother replied:— ‘‘They are more fatigued than I. all this is far too good for me. in order to convey an idea of what passed at that table.’ returned the man. ‘… This man paid no attention to any one. ‘they have more money. the remark rather shocked me. we cannot do better than to transcribe here a passage from one of Mademoiselle Baptistine’s letters to Madame Boischevron.’ ‘‘No. He ate with the voracity of a starving man.’ ‘Between ourselves. Are Free eBooks at Planet eBook. after supper he said: ‘‘Monsieur le Cure of the good God.

and there I lived for some time by the toil of my hands. One has only to choose.’ ‘I think that is what the man said. Then he went on:— ‘‘I must be on my way by daybreak to-morrow. is it to Pontarlier that you are going?’ ‘‘With my road marked out for me. I took refuge in Franche-Comte at first.’ ‘‘You are going to a good country. you certainly ought to be a cure!’ ‘‘The good God is more than just. oil factories. at Audincourt. M. twenty iron foundries at least. if the good God were but just. ‘A moment later he added:— ‘‘Monsieur Jean Valjean. I found plenty to occupy me. If the nights are cold.’ said my brother. copper works. Then he interrupted himself and addressed me:— ‘‘Have we not some relatives in those parts. situated at Lods.’ ‘I think I am not mistaken in saying that those are the names which my brother mentioned. the days are hot. ‘but in ‘93.’ resumed my brother. one had only one’s arms.you really a cure? Ah. Travelling is hard. among others. My will was good. are tolerably large. who was captain of the gates at Pontarlier under the old regime. four of which. I worked. one had no longer any relatives. tanneries.’ said my brother. There are paper mills.’ ‘‘Yes. at Chatillon. distilleries. my dear sister?’ ‘I replied. ‘During the Revolution my family was ruined.— ‘‘We did have some. They 138 Les Miserables . de Lucenet. watch factories on a large scale. steel mills. and at Beure.

with great minuteness. that they were divided into two classes: the big barns which belong to the rich. One thing struck me. It is towards the end of April that the work of the cheese-dairies begins. which he does not drink himself. because he says that wine is expensive. these are the peasants of mid-mountain. which belong to the poor. and where there are forty or fifty cows which produce from seven to eight thousand cheeses each summer. He recurred frequently to that comfortable trade of grurin. ‘They engage the services of a cheese-maker. a truly patriarchal and truly charming industry. whom they call the grurin.com 139 . while urging the man to eat. which they call fruitieres. in the country of Pontarlier. This man was what I have told you. explained to him.have. my sister. who hold their cows in common. Monsieur Valjean. and share the proceeds. that this would afford him a refuge. as though he wished the man to understand. neither during supper. Well. and marks the quantity on a double tally. did my brothFree eBooks at Planet eBook. without advising him directly and harshly. the grurin receives the milk of the associates three times a day. It is their cheese-dairies. and the associated fruitieres.’ ‘The man recovered his animation as he ate. nor during the entire evening. it is towards the middle of June that the cheese-makers drive their cows to the mountains. interspersing his words with graceful attentions to me. what these fruitieres of Pontarlier were. whither you are going.’ ‘Then my brother. My brother made him drink that good Mauves wine. My brother imparted all these details with that easy gayety of his with which you are acquainted.

it was an occasion for preaching him a little sermon. unfortunate man in his hands to afford a chance to nourish his soul as well as his body. that at one time. My brother did not even ask him from what country he came. with an exhortation to conduct himself better in the future. or a little commiseration. dear Madame. no doubt. that this man. For in his history there is a fault. I think I have comprehended what was passing in my brother’s heart. whose name is Jean Valjean. had his misfortune only too vividly present in his mind. fearing lest in this remark there might have escaped him something which might wound the man. To such a point did he carry it. and who. he stopped short. and of impressing the Bishop on the convict. seasoned with moralizing and advice. he added. with the exception of a few words about Jesus when he entered. and my brother seemed to avoid everything which could remind him of it. something truly evangelical in this delicacy which abstains from ser140 Les Miserables . This might have appeared to any one else who had this. and to make him believe. By dint of reflection.er utter a single word. To all appearances. that he was a person like any other. He was thinking. by treating him just in his ordinary way. Is not this indeed. so that a mark of the passage might remain behind. who exercise a gentle labor near heaven. if only momentarily. when my brother was speaking of the mountaineers of Pontarlier. to understand charity well? Is there not. nor of what my brother was. nor what was his history. that the best thing was to divert him from it. which could remind the man of what he was. are happy because they are innocent. and to bestow upon him some reproach.

what I can say is that.mon. Gedeon le Provost. The man was not paying much heed to anything then. and we both went up stairs. I sent Madame Magloire down a moment later. then he turned to the man and said to him. He was no longer talking. even to me he was the same as he is every evening. if he entertained all these ideas. as well as the little ivory-handled knife which I use at table. It is a pity that this skin is old. My brother kissed the child on the brow. with her little one in her arms. and he supped with this Jean Valjean with the same air and in the same manner in which he would have supped with M. which was in my room.com 141 . My brother bought it while he was in Germany. ‘Madame Magloire returned immediately. near the sources of the Danube. I understood that we must retire. there came a knock at the door. Nevertheless. In any case. and borrowed fifteen sous which I had about me to give to Mother Gerbaud. We said our Free eBooks at Planet eBook. in order to allow this traveller to go to sleep. all the hair is falling out. from allusions? and is not the truest pity. to carry to the man’s bed a goat skin from the Black Forest.’ Madame Magloire cleared the table very promptly. my brother said grace. The nights are frigid. and that keeps one warm. when he had reached the figs. or with the curate of the parish. from beginning to end. ‘You must be in great need of your bed. at Tottlingen. when a man has a sore point. he gave no sign of them. and he seemed very much fatigued. It was Mother Gerbaud. After poor old Gerbaud had taken her departure. not to touch it at all? It has seemed to me that this might have been my brother’s private thought. from moralizing. ‘Towards the end.

’ 142 Les Miserables . without saying a word to each other. and then we each retired to our own chambers.prayers in the drawing-room. where we hang up the linen.

‘may you pass a good night. Monseigneur Bienvenu took one of the two silver candlesticks from the table.com 143 . you shall drink a cup of warm milk from our cows. handed the other to his guest.’ said the Bishop. and said to him. This was her last care every evening before she went to bed. The Bishop installed his guest in the alcove.CHAPTER V TRANQUILLITY After bidding his sister good night.’ said the man. before you set out. Tomorrow morning. A fresh white bed had been prepared there. it was necessary to traverse the Bishop’s bedroom. ‘Well. The man set the candle down on a small table. I will conduct you to your room. At the moment when he was crossing this apartment. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the house was so arranged that in order to pass into the oratory where the alcove was situated. Madame Magloire was putting away the silverware in the cupboard near the head of the bed. Monsieur l’Abbe. or to get out of it.’ The man followed him. As might have been observed from what has been said above.’ ‘Thanks.— ‘Monsieur.

and bending upon his host a savage gaze. walking. had they witnessed it. he raised two fingers of his right hand and bestowed his benediction on the man. when all of a sudden. he returned to his bedroom. meditating. A moment later he was in his garden. Even at this day it is difficult for us to explain what inspired him at that moment. close to yourself like this?’ He broke off. The Bishop knelt before this curtain as he passed and said a brief prayer. a large serge curtain drawn from wall to wall concealed the altar. he made a strange movement. who did not bow. folded his arms. contemplating. and without transition. which would have frozen the two sainted women with horror. and added with a laugh in which there lurked something monstrous:— ‘Have you really reflected well? How do you know that I have not been an assassin?’ The Bishop replied:— ‘That is the concern of the good God. and without turning his head or looking behind him. Did he intend to convey a warning or to throw out a menace? Was he simply obeying a sort of instinctive impulse which was obscure even to himself? He turned abruptly to the old man. he exclaimed in a hoarse voice:— ‘Ah! really! You lodge me in your house.Hardly had he pronounced these words full of peace.’ Then gravely. his heart and soul wholly absorbed in those grand and mysterious things which God shows at night to 144 Les Miserables . and moving his lips like one who is praying or talking to himself. When the alcove was in use.

all dressed as he was. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. upon the bed.the eyes which remain open. he was actually so fatigued that he did not even profit by the nice white sheets. Snuffing out his candle with his nostrils after the manner of convicts. A few minutes later all were asleep in the little house. where he immediately fell into a profound sleep.com 145 . As for the man. Midnight struck as the Bishop returned from his garden to his apartment. he dropped.

His mother was named Jeanne Mathieu. he became a tree-pruner at Faverolles. On the whole. He had not learned to read in his childhood. however. This sister had brought up Jean Valjean. All that remained to Jean Valjean was a sister older than himself. and a contraction of viola Jean. like himself. had been killed by a fall from a tree. His mother had died of a milk fever.CHAPTER VI JEAN VALJEAN Towards the middle of the night Jean Valjean woke. which had not been properly attended to. When he reached man’s estate. a tree-pruner. ‘here’s Jean. and so long as she had a husband she lodged and fed her young brother. He had lost his father and mother at a very early age. boys and girls. his father was called Jean Valjean or Vlajean. The eldest of the seven children was 146 Les Miserables . The husband died. His father.’ Jean Valjean was of that thoughtful but not gloomy disposition which constitutes the peculiarity of affectionate natures. at least. there was something decidedly sluggish and insignificant about Jean Valjean in appearance. Jean Valjean came from a poor peasant family of Brie. probably a sobriquet.—a widow with seven children.

which they drank behind a hedge or in some alley corner. in their mother’s name. supported the sister who had brought him up. He had never known a ‘kind woman friend’ in his native parts. Thus his youth had been spent in rude and ill-paid toil.—to give to one of her children. In pruning season he earned eighteen sous a day. This was done simply as a duty and even a little churlishly on the part of Jean Valjean. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. in his turn. his long hair falling about his bowl and concealing his eyes. not far from the Valjean thatched cottage. then he hired out as a hay-maker. His sister. habitually famished. Jean Valjean gruffly and grumblingly paid Marie-Claude for the pint of milk behind their mother’s back. mother Jeanne. Jean Valjean had just attained his twenty-fifth year. on the other side of the lane. she would have punished the delinquents severely. snatching the jug from each other so hastily that the little girls spilled it on their aprons and down their necks. As he went on eating. The youngest. as laborer.eight years old. sometimes went to borrow from Marie-Claude a pint of milk. one.—a bit of meat. a farmer’s wife named Marie-Claude. as neat-herd on a farm. a slice of bacon. the heart of the cabbage. and. He took the father’s place. with his head bent over the table and almost into his soup. He returned at night weary. There was at Faverolles. he had the air of perceiving nothing and allowing it. the Valjean children. and the children were not punished. If their mother had known of this marauding. often took the best part of his repast from his bowl while he was eating. and ate his broth without uttering a word.com 147 . He had not had the time to fall in love.

The cities make ferocious men because they make corrupt men. the smuggler lives in the mountains or on the sea. through the grating and the glass. the robber fled at the full speed of his legs. He arrived in time to see an arm passed through a hole made by a blow from a fist. There exists a legitimate prejudice against poachers. The thief had flung away the loaf. The arm seized a loaf of bread and carried it off. He had a gun which he used better than any one else in the world. Jean had no work. the forest. but often without destroying the humane side. Seven children! One Sunday evening. they develop the fierce side. He did whatever he could. No bread literally. Nevertheless. he was a bit of a poacher. This took place in 1795. The poacher. A very hard winter came. His sister worked also but what could she do with seven little children? It was a sad group enveloped in misery. The family had no bread. 148 Les Miserables . like the smuggler.as a drudge. we will remark cursorily. It was Jean Valjean. The mountain. smacks too strongly of the brigand. was preparing to go to bed. Isabeau ran after him and stopped him. which was being gradually annihilated. The poacher lives in the forest. the sea. make savage men. when he heard a violent blow on the grated front of his shop. the baker on the Church Square at Faverolles. there is still an abyss between these races of men and the hideous assassin of the towns. and this injured his case. Isabeau ran out in haste. Maubert Isabeau. but his arm was still bleeding. Jean Valjean was taken before the tribunals of the time for theft and breaking and entering an inhabited house at night.

won by the general-in-chief of the army of Italy. they impeded his speech. What an ominous minute is that in which society draws back and consummates the irreparable abandonment of a sentient being! Jean Valjean was condemned to five years in the galleys. was disentangling from amid the vague ideas of a poor man. he raised his right hand and lowered it gradually seven times. It is probable that he. calls Buona-Parte. The terms of the Code were explicit. who is now nearly eighty years old. He was seated on the ground like the others. year IV. as though he were touching in succession seven heads of unequal heights. he had done for the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. on that same day a great gang of galley-slaves was put in chains at Bicetre. in the north angle of the courtyard.com 149 . also. ‘I was a tree-pruner at Faverolles. whom the message of the Directory to the Five Hundred. of the 2d of Floreal. On the 22d of April. An old turnkey of the prison. there are moments when the penal laws decree a shipwreck. There occur formidable hours in our civilization. ignorant of everything. the victory of Montenotte.’ Then still sobbing. was announced in Paris. Jean Valjean formed a part of that gang. he wept. something excessive. except that it was horrible.. While the bolt of his iron collar was being riveted behind his head with heavy blows from the hammer. still recalls perfectly that unfortunate wretch who was chained to the end of the fourth line. his tears stifled him. he only managed to say from time to time. He did not seem to comprehend his position. and from this gesture it was divined that the thing which he had done.Jean Valjean was pronounced guilty. 1796. whatever it was.

there was a scar. They quitted the country. He set out for Toulon. The clock-tower of what had been their village forgot them. She 150 Les Miserables . What became of his sister? What became of the seven children? Who troubled himself about that? What becomes of the handful of leaves from the young tree which is sawed off at the root? It is always the same story.601. after a few years’ residence in the galleys. Some one who had known them in their own country had seen his sister. All that had constituted his life. In that heart. At Toulon he was clothed in the red cassock. even to his name. henceforth without support.sake of clothing and nourishing seven little children. She lived in a poor street Rear Saint-Sulpice. Jean Valjean himself forgot them. during all the time which he spent at Toulon. gloomy shades. These poor living beings. He arrived there. did he hear his sister mentioned. into which disappear in succession so many unlucky heads. in the Rue du Gindre. This happened.—who even knows?— each in his own direction perhaps. where there had been a wound. in the sombre march of the human race. without refuge. She was in Paris. I know not through what channels the news reached him. towards the end of the fourth year of his captivity. with a chain on his neck. these creatures of God. and little by little buried themselves in that cold mist which engulfs solitary destinies. after a journey of twenty-seven days. I think. he was no longer even Jean Valjean. the boundary line of what had been their field forgot them. without guide. he was number 24. Only once. That is all. wandered away at random. on a cart. was effaced.

When the workmen passed in the morning.had with her only one child. a spinning-wheel. where she was a folder and stitcher. and the little one slumbered in a corner. it was a moment. an old woman. Nothing from them ever reached him again. But as she entered the printing office at six. No. That is what was told to Jean Valjean. In the same building with the printing office there was a school. the youngest. and he entered. At seven o’clock the school opened. who was seven years old. because he was in the way. pressing himself close to the cat that he might suffer less from cold. a flash. and in the continuation of this Free eBooks at Planet eBook. overcome with drowsiness. When it rained. he never beheld them. and to this school she took her little boy. for the school to open. where there was a pallet. as though a window had suddenly been opened upon the destiny of those things whom he had loved. She was obliged to be there at six o’clock in the morning—long before daylight in winter. took pity on him. He heard nothing more forever. and the school only opened at seven. they beheld this poor little being seated on the pavement. 3 Rue du Sabot. and two wooden chairs. Every morning she went to a printing office. a little boy. they said. Where were the other six? Perhaps she did not know herself. she took him into her den. They talked to him about it for one day. the portress. and often fast asleep in the shadow. crouched down and doubled up over his basket. the child had to wait in the courtyard.com 151 . for an hour— one hour of a winter night in the open air! They would not allow the child to come into the printing office. he never met them again. then all closed again.

provided for by a special code. he had entered there in 1796. he succeeded no better. of a striking clock. I think it was during his thirteenth year. of the path. to a prolongation of his term for three years. This case. Nineteen years. for this crime. Three years for those four hours. but could not accomplish his flight fully. He had neither eaten nor slept for thirty-six hours. he was released. He escaped. Sixteen years. as is the custom in that sad place. he made a last attempt. of a bush. he availed himself of it. Escape and rebellion. In the sixth year his turn to escape occurred again. Three years for this fresh attempt. of a passing man. which made eight years. Thirteen years. The maritime tribunal condemned him. to be afraid of everything. he again profited by it. of the day because one can see. His comrades assisted him. Finally. Towards the end of this fourth year Jean Valjean’s turn to escape arrived. was punished by an addition of five years. 1815. of sleep.—of a smoking roof. The cannon were fired. He wandered for two days in the fields at liberty. On the evening of the second day he was captured. In the tenth year his turn came round again. two of them in the double chain. of a galloping horse. if being at liberty is to be hunted. and only succeeded in getting retaken at the end of four hours of absence. to quake at the slightest noise. and at night the patrol found him hidden under the keel of a vessel in process of construction. for having broken a 152 Les Miserables . he resisted the galley guards who seized him. of the highway. to turn the head every instant. of a barking dog. In October. of the night because one cannot see. He was missing at roll-call.mournful history they will not be met with any more.

Room for a brief parenthesis.pane of glass and taken a loaf of bread. during his studies on the penal question and damnation by law. Jean Valjean had stolen a loaf. he emerged impassive. Jean Valjean had entered the galleys sobbing and shuddering. that the author of this book has come across the theft of a loaf of bread as the point of departure for the disaster of a destiny. He had entered in despair.com 153 . What had taken place in that soul? Free eBooks at Planet eBook. This is the second time. English statistics prove the fact that four thefts out of five in London have hunger for their immediate cause. Claude Gaux had stolen a loaf. he emerged gloomy.

because it is itself which creates them. He was. as we have said. that that loaf of bread would probably not have been refused to him had he asked for it. he withdrew into his own consciousness and meditated. in hardship. that. upon the plank bed of the convict. but he was not a fool. it would have been better to wait until he could get it through compassion or through work. which also possesses a clearness of vision of its own. Beneath the cudgel. in any case. beneath the burning sun of the galleys. He admitted that he had committed an extreme and blameworthy act. in the cell. He began by putting himself on trial. beneath the chain. He constituted himself the tribunal. He recognized the fact that he was not an innocent man unjustly punished. an ignorant man. that it is not an unanswerable argument to say. augmented the small amount of daylight which existed in this mind.CHAPTER VII THE INTERIOR OF DESPAIR Let us try to say it. Unhappiness. The light of nature was ignited in him. It is necessary that society should look at these things. ‘Can one wait when 154 Les Miserables .

that. in respect to the penalty. should have lacked bread. Whether there had not been more abuse on the part of the law. it is very rare for any one to die of hunger. that it is therefore necessary to have patience. unfortunate wretch. an industrious man. Whether it was not a serious thing. out of work. Then he asked himself— Whether he had been the only one in fault in his fatal history. that that would even have been better for those poor little children.com 155 . the fault once committed and confessed. that it had been an act of madness for him. of replacing the fault of the delinquent by the fault of the repression. that that is in any case a poor door through which to escape from misery through which infamy enters. Whether the over-weight of the penalty was not equivalent to the annihilation of the crime. in the one which contains expiation. a miserable. and next. and the debtor into the creditor. without dying. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Whether there had not been an excess of weights in one balance of the scale. than there had been on the part of the culprit in respect to his fault. and to imagine that one can escape from misery through theft. that he. And whether. in the first place. both morally and physically. of converting the guilty man into the victim. literally. that he. fortunately or unfortunately. that he was in the wrong. a laborer. the chastisement had not been ferocious and disproportioned.one is hungry?’ That. to take society at large violently by the collar. man is so constituted that he can suffer long and much. and did not result in reversing the situation. in short. and of ranging the law definitely on the side of the man who had violated it.

he finally arrived at the conclusion that his punishment was not. He condemned it to his hatred. He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering. He asked himself whether human society could have the right to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own unreasonable lack of foresight. a crime which was being committed afresh every day. Anger may be both foolish and absurd. one is exasperated only when there is 156 Les Miserables . had not ended in becoming a sort of outrage perpetrated by the stronger upon the feebler. complicated by successive aggravations for attempts at escape. one can be irritated wrongfully. he judged society and condemned it. a default of work and an excess of punishment. He declared to himself that there was no equilibrium between the harm which he had caused and the harm which was being done to him. a crime of society against the individual. and to seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess. but that it most assuredly was iniquitous.Whether this penalty. in truth. Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance. These questions put and answered. and consequently the most deserving of consideration. unjust. and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should not hesitate to call it to account. and in the other case for its pitiless foresight. a crime which had lasted nineteen years.

an evil nature. Every contact with them had been a blow. He was of the number who had a mind. which had caused his unhappiness. human society had done him nothing but harm. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. after having judged society. he had gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war. Men had only touched him to bruise him. and he condemned it also. and darkness on the other. he judged Providence. And besides. kept by the Ignorantin friars. education and enlightenment can serve to eke out evil. He went to school at the age of forty. since his infancy.com 157 . Jean Valjean felt himself exasperated. In certain cases. and which it shows to those whom it strikes. which had made society. From suffering to suffering. where the most necessary branches were taught to those of the unfortunate men who had a mind for them. and that in this war he was the conquered. This is a sad thing to say. since the days of his mother. Thus during nineteen years of torture and slavery. Jean Valjean had not. Light entered it on one side. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to bear it away with him when he departed. to write. this soul mounted and at the same time fell. of his sister. He had no other weapon than his hate. as we have seen. had he ever encountered a friendly word and a kindly glance. Never. he had never seen anything of it save that angry face which it calls Justice. and learned to read. He felt that to fortify his intelligence was to fortify his hate. to cipher.some show of right on one’s side at bottom. There was at Toulon a school for the convicts.

— the observing physiologist would have beheld an ir158 Les Miserables . Certainly. condemned by civilization. and make to glow with splendor. fate being evil? Can the heart become misshapen and contract incurable deformities and infirmities under the oppression of a disproportionate unhappiness. serious. and regarding heaven with severity. ignite. and become evil. immortal in the other. which were for Jean Valjean hours of revery. and was conscious that he was becoming impious. incorruptible in this world. Does human nature thus change utterly and from top to bottom? Can the man created good by God be rendered wicked by man? Can the soul be completely made over by fate. to the last of which every physiologist would probably have responded no. a pariah of the laws which regarded the man with wrath. with the end of his chain thrust into his pocket to prevent its dragging. during the hours of repose.He was still good when he arrived at the galleys. was there not in the soul of Jean Valjean in particular. and thoughtful. he there condemned Providence. as the vertebral column beneath too low a vault? Is there not in every human soul. and felt that he was becoming wicked. this gloomy galley-slave. He there condemned society. seated with folded arms upon the bar of some capstan. which good can develop. and that without hesitation. and which evil can never wholly extinguish? Grave and obscure questions. a divine element. silent. It is difficult not to indulge in meditation at this point.—and we make no attempt to dissimulate the fact. had he beheld at Toulon. fan. a first spark.

which we have attempted to analyze. for so many years. after their formation. There was too much ignorance in Jean Valjean. feeling his way like a blind man and a dreamer. he suffered in the shadows. mounted and descended to the lugubrious aspects which had. by degrees. Jean Valjean was in the shadows. he would have turned aside his gaze from the caverns of which he would have caught a glimpse within this soul. of the law’s making. formed the inner horizon of his spirit? Was he conscious of all that passed within him. he would. but he would not have even essayed any treatment. there suddenly came Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He dwelt habitually in this shadow.com 159 . perchance. Only. At times he did not rightly know himself what he felt. he would have effaced from this existence the word which the finger of God has. he hated in the shadows. to prevent much vagueness from still lingering there. as perfectly clear to Jean Valjean as we have tried to render it for those who read us? Did Jean Valjean distinctly perceive. and of all that was working there? That is something which we do not presume to state. and had he seen distinctly during the process of their formation. inscribed upon the brow of every man. even after his misfortune. Was this state of his soul.—hope.remediable misery. it is something which we do not even believe. nevertheless. and. like Dante at the portals of hell. one might have said that he hated in advance of himself. have pitied this sick man. all the elements of which his moral misery was composed? Had this rough and unlettered man gathered a perfectly clear perception of the succession of ideas through which he had. at intervals.

in which that which is pitiless—that is to say. He escaped impetuously. the fresh severities inflicted on him only served to render him still more wild. The peculiarity of pains of this nature. a surcharge of suffering. which we must not omit. The beast alone acted. little by little. at paying out a cable or winding up a capstan. without reflecting for an instant on the result. behind. 160 Les Miserables . The flash passed. by a sort of stupid transfiguration. and where was he? He no longer knew. that which is brutalizing—predominates. ‘Flee!’ Reason would have said. is to transform a man. into a wild beast. nor on the experiences which he had already gone through. an access of wrath. ‘Remain!’ But in the presence of so violent a temptation. Jean Valjean was worth four men. sometimes into a ferocious beast. from without and from within. as often as the opportunity had presented itself. When he was recaptured. reason vanished. like the wolf who finds his cage open. is that he possessed a physical strength which was not approached by a single one of the denizens of the galleys. Jean Valjean’s successive and obstinate attempts at escape would alone suffice to prove this strange working of the law upon the human soul. the hideous precipices and the sombre perspective of his destiny. utterly useless and foolish as they were. nothing remained but instinct. Instinct said to him.to him. in front. the night closed in again. One detail. and caused to appear abruptly all around him. At work. Jean Valjean would have renewed these attempts. amid the gleams of a frightful light. a livid and rapid flash which illuminated his whole soul.

we may remark in passing. with his elbows and his heels fitted into the unevenness of the stone. Certain convicts who were forever dreaming of escape. he seemed to be occupied in the constant contemplation of something Free eBooks at Planet eBook. To climb a vertical surface. with the tension of his back and legs. once or twice a year. and when the occasion demanded it. His comrades had nicknamed him Jean the Jack-screw. An angle of the wall being given. when they were repairing the balcony of the town-hall at Toulon. He laughed not at all. one of those admirable caryatids of Puget. It is the science of muscles. and to find points of support where hardly a projection was visible. was play to Jean Valjean. Once. men who are forever envious of the flies and birds. He sometimes mounted thus even to the roof of the galley prison. Jean Valjean. and gave the workmen time to arrive. He spoke but little. became loosened. His suppleness even exceeded his strength. he replaced that implement which is called a jack-screw. whence. he raised himself as if by magic to the third story.He sometimes lifted and sustained enormous weights on his back. that lugubrious laugh of the convict.com 161 . and was formerly called orgueil [pride]. which is like the echo of the laugh of a demon. supported the caryatid with his shoulder. ended by making a veritable science of force and skill combined. To all appearance. is derived the name of the Rue Montorgueil. An excessive emotion was required to wring from him. and was on the point of falling. which support the balcony. near the Halles [Fishmarket] in Paris. who was present. An entire system of mysterious statics is daily practised by prisoners.

crowned and dazzling. unhappy men lost in the lowest of those limbos at which no one any longer looks.— laws. and deeds. men. here and there in that swarming and formless mass. he perceived with terror. prejudices. and which was nothing else than that prodigious pyramid which we call civilization. now near him.—whose outlines escaped him. deeds. men. some group. collecting and mounting above him. in fact. It seemed to him that these distant splendors. far from dissipating his night. here the galley-sergeant and his cudgel. In that obscure and wan shadow within which he crawled. things—went and came above him. rendered it more funereal and more black. each time that he turned his neck and essayed to raise his glance. yonder the mitred archbishop. away at the top. 162 Les Miserables . Athwart the unhealthy perceptions of an incomplete nature and a crushed intelligence. some detail. like a sort of sun. there the gendarme and his sword. mingled with rage. walking over him and crushing him with I know not what peacefulness in its cruelty and inexorability in its indifference. whose mass terrified him. the reproved of the law. over his head. beyond the range of his vision. He was absorbed. he was confusedly conscious that some monstrous thing was resting on him. All this— laws. the Emperor. Souls which have fallen to the bottom of all possible misfortune. a sort of frightful accumulation of things. vividly illuminated.terrible. prejudices. He distinguished. in accordance with the complicated and mysterious movement which God imparts to civilization. now afar off and on inaccessible tablelands.

we will confine ourselves to the statement that. All these things. realities full of spectres. nor radiant sky. Jean Valjean.’ He gazed at the galley-sergeant standing a few paces from him. think that same thing which Jean Valjean thought. resting upon their heads. he paused. I know not what vent-hole daylight habitually illumined his soul. It would almost be true to say that there existed for Jean Valjean neither sun. so formidable for him who is without. at one and the same time riper and more troubled than of yore. All of a sudden the phantom dealt him a blow with his cudgel. Visible nature hardly existed for him. ‘It is a dream. Everything which had happened to him seemed to him absurd. nor fresh April dawns. phantasmagories full of realities. had eventually created for him a sort of interior state which is almost indescribable. everything that surrounded him seemed to him impossible. He said to himself. the galley-sergeant seemed a phantom to him. nor fine summer days. amid his convict toil. it would. doubtless. To sum up.feel the whole weight of this human society. so frightful for him who is beneath. At times. the inoffensive Free eBooks at Planet eBook. In this situation Jean Valjean meditated. that which can be summed up and translated into positive results in all that we have just pointed out. rose in revolt. in the course of nineteen years. He fell to thinking. in conclusion. and what could be the nature of his meditation? If the grain of millet beneath the millstone had thoughts.com 163 . His reason.

It will be perceived that it was not without reason that Jean Valjean’s passport described him as a very dangerous man. but with fatal sureness. within a given time. then the hatred of creation. becomes. entirely instinctive. was hatred of human law. the innocent. His deliberate deeds passed through three successive phases. and brutal desire to do harm to some living being. the eye is dry. of evil action which was rapid. 164 Les Miserables . no matter whom. of two sorts of evil action: firstly. thanks to the manner in which the galleys had moulded him. and which manifests itself by a vague. perseverance. with the false ideas which such a misfortune can furnish. consciously argued out and premeditated. the hatred of society.tree-pruner of Faverolles. if it be not arrested in its development by some providential incident. had become capable. if there are any such. The point of departure. bitterness of soul. From year to year this soul had dried away slowly. like the point of arrival. which natures of a certain stamp can alone traverse. the reaction even against the good. that hatred which. When the heart is dry. for all his thoughts. incessant. the formidable convict of Toulon. and the just. then the hatred of the human race. will. On his departure from the galleys it had been nineteen years since he had shed a tear. unpremeditated.—reasoning. a profound sense of indignities suffered. of evil action which was serious. in the nature of reprisals for the evil which he had undergone. grave. dashing. secondly. He had for moving causes his habitual wrath.

It retreats. It passes on. Now. he was one of the crew. it diminishes in size. He is in the tremendous sea. The man disappears. trembling under the hurricane.CHAPTER VIII BILLOWS AND SHADOWS A man overboard! What matters it? The vessel does not halt. he was a living man. his miserable head is but a speck amid the immensity of the waves. all is at an end. he is not heard. what has taken place? He has slipped. He gives vent to desperate cries from out of the depths. is wholly absorbed in its own workings. He was there but just now. he had his part of breath and of sunlight. he rises again to the surface. the passengers and sailors do not even see the drowning man. The billows. The wind blows. That sombre ship has a path which it is forced to pursue. he has fallen. encompass him hideously. the tossings of the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he plunges. torn and lashed by the wind. Under foot he has nothing but what flees and crumbles. What a spectre is that retreating sail! He gazes and gazes at it frantically. he went and came along the deck with the rest.com 165 . he calls. he stretches out his arms. then reappears. The vessel. it grows dim.

which seem to come from beyond the limits of the earth. He tries to defend himself. Nevertheless. He raises his eyes and beholds only the lividness of the clouds. Barely visible in the pale shadows of the horizon. just as there are angels above human distresses. frightful and unknown vegetations seize him. He feels himself buried in those two infinities. then. There are birds in the clouds. his petty strength all exhausted instantly. 166 Les Miserables . he makes an effort. combats the inexhaustible. It seems as though all that water were hate. Where. but what can they do for him? They sing and fly and float. He is tortured by this madness. knot about his feet. the cowardly ocean attacks him furiously. the immense madness of the sea. that he forms part of the foam. he is conscious that he is becoming an abyss. he rattles in the death agony. all the tongues of water dash over his head. he catches glimpses of precipices filled with night. the other is a shroud. The wind blows in gusts. the waves toss him from one to another. he struggles. he hears noises strange to man. amid his death-pangs. he drinks in the bitterness. at one and the same time: the one is a tomb. all the foam overwhelms him. draw him to them. He. and from one knows not what frightful region beyond. the ocean and the sky. he tries to sustain himself.abyss bear him away. the enormity plays with his agony. to drown him. He witnesses. is the ship? Yonder. a populace of waves spits upon him. confused openings half devour him. he swims. every time that he sinks. and he.

There are no more men.Night descends. his strength is exhausted. losses of men and of souls on the way! Ocean into which falls all that the law lets slip! Disastrous absence of help! Oh. he chooses the alternative of death. he is alone in the formidable twilight gulf. fog. Around him darkness. he feels under him the monstrous billows of the invisible. and grasp nothingness. He thinks of the gloomy adventures of the corpse in the limitless shadow. Not a point of support. nothing in heaven. Oh. Help! Help! He still shouts on. he twists himself. he lets himself go. moral death! The sea is the inexorable social night into which the peFree eBooks at Planet eBook. he abandons his grip. clouds. he resists not. the imperturbable tempest obeys only the infinite. gusts. Nothing on the horizon. The bottomless cold paralyzes him. the waves. His hands contract convulsively. has vanished. they are deaf. Beneath him the depths. the seaweed. whirlwinds. he sinks. and then he tosses forevermore in the lugubrious dreary depths of engulfment.com 167 . he has been swimming for hours. the reef. Winds. the stormy and nonsentient tumult. Where is God? He shouts. he stiffens himself. they close. solitude. He beseeches the tempest. implacable march of human societies! Oh. useless stars! What is to be done? The desperate man gives up. that distant thing in which there were men. the undefined curling of those wild waters. In him horror and fatigue. that ship. He implores the expanse. he shouts. he is weary.

The soul. The sea is the immensity of wretchedness. going down stream in this gulf.nal laws fling their condemned. may become a corpse. Who shall resuscitate it? 168 Les Miserables .

At all events. Jean Valjean had been dazzled by the idea of liberty. when Jean Valjean heard in his ear the strange words. which had been counted out to him on his departure. He had understood nothing of this. his hoard had been reduced by various local levies to the sum of one hundred and nine francs fifteen sous. and had thought himself wronged. And this was encompassed with much bitterness. Thou art free! the moment seemed improbable and unprecedented.CHAPTER IX NEW TROUBLES When the hour came for him to take his departure from the galleys. Let us say the word—robbed. suddenly penetrated within him. He very speedily perceived what sort of liberty it is to which a yellow passport is provided. But it was not long before this ray paled.com 169 . a ray of the true light of the living. ought to amount to a hundred and seventy-one francs. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. during his sojourn in the galleys. which entailed a diminution of about eighty francs. a ray of vivid light. It is but just to add that he had forgotten to include in his calculations the forced repose of Sundays and festival days during nineteen years. He had calculated that his earnings. He had believed in a new life.

He was intelligent.On the day following his liberation. While he was at work. When evening arrived. observed him. he saw. the State. in front of an orange-flower distillery. he did his best. Jean Valjean resumed his labor. he had been told thirty sous. That is what happened to him at Grasse. A little while before he had questioned one of the workmen as to the amount which they earned each day at this occupation. and demanded his papers. as he was forced to set out again on the following day. The master looked him straight between the eyes. he considered that he had been robbed. He offered his services. He set to work. robust. One gets free from the galleys. adroit. the master seemed pleased. The owner did not utter a word.’ There. but not from the sentence.’ He persisted. had robbed him wholesale. some men engaged in unloading bales. Now it was the individual who was robbing him at retail. but handed him fifteen sous. He was told. Liberation is not deliverance. they were accepted. by diminishing his hoard. It was necessary to show him the yellow passport. He objected. he presented himself to the owner of the distillery and requested to be paid. Society. We have seen in what manner he was received at D—— 170 Les Miserables . ‘That is enough for thee. at Grasse. Business was pressing. a gendarme passed. again. That done. and said to him ‘Beware of the prison.

He was at one of those moments when the thoughts which one has in one’s mind are troubled. He could not get to sleep again. It was nearly twenty years since he had slept in a bed. He had slept more than four hours. He was accustomed not to devote many hours to repose. although he had not undressed. What woke him was that his bed was too good. He opened his eyes and stared into the gloom which surrounded him. Jean Valjean awoke. but not a second time. When many varied sensations have agitated the day. with the intention of going to sleep once more. There was a sort of dark confusion in his brain. when various matters preoccupy the mind. the sensation was too novel not to disturb his slumbers.com 171 . His memories of the olden Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Sleep comes more easily than it returns. one falls asleep once. and. and he fell to thinking.CHAPTER X THE MAN AROUSED As the Cathedral clock struck two in the morning. His fatigue had passed away. This is what happened to Jean Valjean. then he closed them again.

then suddenly disappearing. as in a muddy and perturbed pool. We will mention this thought at once: he had observed the six sets of silver forks and spoons and the ladle which Madame Magloire had placed on the table.—Just as he was traversing the adjoining room to reach the one in which he then was.— He had taken careful note of this cupboard. becoming disproportionately large.—On the right.time and of the immediate present floated there pell-mell and mingled confusedly. then he hung his legs over the edge of the bed.— From the ladle one could get at least two hundred francs.—A few paces distant. He remained for a time thoughtfully in this attitude. Three o’clock struck.—They were solid. losing their proper forms. and placed his feet on the floor.—And old silver. Many thoughts occurred to him.—They were there. He opened his eyes again. 172 Les Miserables .— Double what he had earned in nineteen years. drew himself up abruptly into a sitting posture.—It is true that he would have earned more if ‘the administration had not robbed him. as you entered from the dining-room. seated on his bed. almost without knowing it. the old servant-woman had been in the act of placing them in a little cupboard near the head of the bed. Those six sets of silver haunted him. and thus found himself. which he had thrown down on a corner of the alcove. but there was one which kept constantly presenting itself afresh.’ His mind wavered for a whole hour in fluctuations with which there was certainly mingled some struggle. stretched out his arm and felt of his knapsack. and which drove away all others.

and would have so remained indefinitely. and then he thought. It seemed to him that that stroke said to him. and in a manner oppressed him. Throughout this hideous meditation.which would have been suggestive of something sinister for any one who had seen him thus in the dark. then he walked straight ahead. sufficient to enable a person to see his way. hesitated still another moment. then he resumed his thoughtful attitude. This twilight. across which coursed large clouds driven by the wind. of a convict named Brevet. re-entered. and whose trousers had been upheld by a single suspender of knitted cotton. with short steps. He remained in this situation. ‘Come on!’ He rose to his feet. intermittent on account of the clouds. whom he had known in the galleys. alternate shadow and gleams of light. entered. All of a sudden he stooped down. there was a full moon. and became motionless once more. eclipses. without knowing why. all was quiet in the house. the thoughts which we have above indicated moved incessantly through his brain. then bright openings of the clouds. of which he caught a glimpse. to the window. and indoors a sort of twilight. also. The checkered pattern of that suspender recurred incessantly to his mind. and with the mechanical persistence of revery. resembled the sort of livid light which falls through an air-hole Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and listened. removed his shoes and placed them softly on the mat beside the bed. had not the clock struck one—the half or quarter hour. the only person awake in that house where all were sleeping. This created. even until daybreak. withdrew. The night was not very dark. outdoors.com 173 .

put on his cap. according to the fashion of the country. grasped his knapsack. strode to his alcove. and resolutely seized the object which he had deposited there. and it was 174 Les Miserables . possibly it was a club. before which the passersby come and go. It had no grating. shut the whole thing up again. at the extremity. he executed a movement like that of a man who has made up his mind. In the daytime it would have been possible to recognize it as nothing more than a miner’s candlestick. put his shoes into one of his pockets. sometimes employed in quarrying stone from the lofty hills which environ Toulon. it opened in the garden and was fastened. threw the knapsack on his shoulders. Convicts were. which indicated that the wall separated the garden from an avenue or lane planted with trees. fumbled in it. he closed it again immediately. It resembled a short bar of iron. He opened it. Jean Valjean examined it. but as a rush of cold and piercing air penetrated the room abruptly. spaced at regular intervals. opened it. went and placed it in the angle of the window. Perhaps it was a lever. drew the visor down over his eyes. Having taken this survey.in a cellar. The garden was enclosed by a tolerably low white wall. only by a small pin. He scrutinized the garden with that attentive gaze which studies rather than looks. pulled out of it something which he placed on the bed. It would have been difficult to distinguish in that darkness for what employment that bit of iron could have been designed. then returned to the bed. he perceived tops of trees. at that period. Far away. pointed like a pike at one end. felt for his cudgel. easy to climb. On arriving at the window.

He took the candlestick in his right hand.com 175 . occupied by the Bishop. On arriving at this door. by means of which they are stuck into the rock. as we already know. These miners’ candlesticks are of massive iron. terminated at the lower extremity by a point. The Bishop had not closed it.not rare for them to have miners’ tools at their command. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. holding his breath and trying to deaden the sound of his tread. he found it ajar. he directed his steps to the door of the adjoining room.

more energetic than the two preceding. which enlarged the opening a little. to enlarge the aperture still further. 176 Les Miserables . then gave the door a second and a bolder push. and gave the door a third push. But near the door there stood a little table. This time a badly oiled hinge suddenly emitted amid the silence a hoarse and prolonged cry. with the furtive and uneasy gentleness of a cat which is desirous of entering. lightly. and made an imperceptible and silent movement. He pushed it gently with the tip of his finger. and barred the entrance. He waited a moment.CHAPTER XI WHAT HE DOES Jean Valjean listened. Jean Valjean recognized the difficulty. Not a sound. He decided on his course of action. at any cost. It continued to yield in silence. He gave the door a push. The opening was now large enough to allow him to pass. It was necessary. which formed an embarrassing angle with it. The door yielded to this pressure.

like the shock of an earthquake. and had suddenly assumed a terrible life.Jean Valjean shuddered. people would come to their assistance. He heard the arteries in his temples beating like two forge hammers. not daring to make a movement. He lent an ear. He ventured to peep into the next room.com 177 . the old man would rise at once. Nothing was moving in the house. The noise of the hinge rang in his ears with something of the piercing and formidable sound of the trump of the Day of Judgment. and had shouted. petrified like the statue of salt. and warn and to wake those who were asleep. Several minutes elapsed. and the gendarmerie on hand. Even when he had thought himself lost. For a moment he thought himself lost. Nothing had stirred there. Nevertheless. but there still reigned a frightful tumult within him. pushed by him. bewildered. had taken the alarm. This first danger was past. It seemed impossible to him that the horrible clamor of that irritated hinge should not have disturbed the entire household. The noise made by the rusty hinge had not awakened any one. In the fantastic exaggerations of the first moment he almost imagined that that hinge had just become animated. He halted. The door had fallen wide open. He remained where he was. the two old women would shriek out. he did not retreat. and fell back from the tips of his toes upon his heels. he had not drawn Free eBooks at Planet eBook. shuddering. and it seemed to him that his breath issued from his breast with the roar of the wind issuing from a cavern. in less than a quarter of an hour the town would be in an uproar. the door. and that it was barking like a dog to arouse every one.

adorned with the pastoral ring. This room was in a state of perfect calm. At the moment when Jean Valjean paused in front of the bed. He took a step and entered the room. Nature sometimes mingles her effects and her spectacles with our actions with sombre and intelligent appropriateness. in a garment of brown wool. His head was thrown back on the pillow. His only thought now was to finish as soon as possible. It was more than a 178 Les Miserables . suddenly illuminated the Bishop’s pale face. He could hear. in the careless attitude of repose. Jean Valjean advanced with precaution. He suddenly came to a halt. volumes piled upon a stool. on account of the cold of the Basses-Alps. a prie-Dieu. which covered his arms to the wrists. Here and there vague and confused forms were distinguishable. which in the daylight were papers scattered on a table. His whole face was illumined with a vague expression of satisfaction. He was near the bed. was hanging over the edge of the bed. He had arrived there sooner than he had thought for. open folios.back. He was sleeping peacefully. and which at that hour were only shadowy corners and whitish spots. at the extremity of the room. his hand. this cloud parted. He lay in his bed almost completely dressed. the even and tranquil breathing of the sleeping Bishop. and of felicity. an arm-chair heaped with clothing. as though on purpose. and a ray of light. taking care not to knock against the furniture. For the last half-hour a large cloud had covered the heavens. as though she desired to make us reflect. and whence had fallen so many good deeds and so many holy actions. of hope. traversing the long window.

the silence. that face in which all was hope and all was confidence. that garden without a quiver. that head of an old man. and with a neighbor like himself. without being himself aware of it. for that heaven was within him. with his iron candlestick in his hand. There was something almost divine in this man. and almost a radiance.com 179 . and stood motionless. The moral world has no grander spectacle than this: a troubled and uneasy conscience. at the same time. and enveloped in a sort of serene and majestic aureole that white hair. of which he was vaguely but imperiously conscious. the sleeping Bishop seemed as in a glory. That moon in the sky. which has arrived on the brink of an evil action. who was thus august. that slumbering nature. Jean Valjean was in the shadow. had about it something sublime. The soul of the just contemplates in sleep a mysterious heaven. contemplating the slumber of the just. A reflection of that heaven rested on the Bishop. so to speak. however. He bore upon his brow the indescribable reflection of a light which was invisible. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. gentle and veiled in an ineffable half-light. the hour. It was. and that slumber of an infant. This confidence terrified him. that house which was so calm. those closed eyes. the moment. That heaven was his conscience. Never had he beheld anything like this.smile. a luminous transparency. frightened by this luminous old man. upon that inward radiance. added some solemn and unspeakable quality to the venerable repose of this man. It remained. That slumber in that isolation. At the moment when the ray of moonlight superposed itself.

What was evident was. But what was the nature of this emotion? His eye never quitted the old man. then stepped rapidly past the bed. and Jean Valjean fell to meditating once more. One would have said that he was hesitating between the two abysses. his cap in his left hand. his club in his right hand. Even on his visage it would have been impossible to distinguish anything with certainty.— the one in which one loses one’s self and that in which one saves one’s self. It was a sort of haggard astonishment. which seemed to be extending its arms to both of them. without glancing at the Bish180 Les Miserables . The gleam of the moon rendered confusedly visible the crucifix over the chimney-piece. He seemed prepared to crush that skull or to kiss that hand. then his arm fell back with the same deliberation.No one could have told what was passing within him. his hair bristling all over his savage head. that he was touched and astounded. The only thing which was clearly to be inferred from his attitude and his physiognomy was a strange indecision. it is necessary to think of the most violent of things in the presence of the most gentle. Suddenly Jean Valjean replaced his cap on his brow. He gazed at it. The Bishop continued to sleep in profound peace beneath that terrifying gaze. with a benediction for one and pardon for the other. In order to attempt to form an idea of it. But what was his thought? It would have been impossible to divine it. At the expiration of a few minutes his left arm rose slowly towards his brow. and he took off his cap. not even himself. and that was all.

and fled. leaped over the wall like a tiger. opened the window. straight to the cupboard. which he saw near the head. crossed the garden. traversed the chamber with long strides. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.op.com 181 . put the silver into his knapsack. re-entered the oratory. the key was there. the first thing which presented itself to him was the basket of silverware. he opened it. gained the door. without taking any precautions and without troubling himself about the noise. threw away the basket. he raised his iron candlestick as though to force the lock. seized his cudgel. he seized it. bestrode the window-sill of the ground-floor.

CHAPTER XII THE BISHOP WORKS The next morning at sunrise Monseigneur Bienvenu was strolling in his garden. and was sighing as he examined a plant of co182 Les Miserables . ‘I did not know what had become of it. ‘so it is the silver which troubles you? I don’t know where it is.’ The Bishop had just picked up the basket in a flower-bed. Monseigneur!’ she exclaimed.’ ‘Great. ‘Monseigneur. entered the alcove.’ returned the Bishop.’ ‘Well!’ said she. The Bishop had just bent down. Madame Magloire had rushed to the oratory.’ In a twinkling.’ replied the Bishop. ‘Jesus the Lord be blessed!’ she resumed. ‘Nothing in it! And the silver?’ ‘Ah. and returned to the Bishop. ‘does your Grace know where the basket of silver is?’ ‘Yes. with all the vivacity of an alert old woman. He presented it to Madame Magloire. Madame Magloire ran up to him in utter consternation. good God! It is stolen! That man who was here last night has stolen it. ‘Here it is.

‘Monseigneur. was that silver ours?’ Madame Magloire was speechless. nor for Mademoiselle’s. evidently. He jumped over into Cochefilet Lane. the man is gone! The silver has been stolen!’ As she uttered this exclamation. ‘It is not for my sake. He rose up at Madame Magloire’s cry.’ ‘Iron forks and spoons. where traces of the wall having been scaled were visible. But it is for the sake of Monseigneur. What is Monseigneur to eat with now?’ The Bishop gazed at her with an air of amazement.’ ‘Alas! Jesus!’ returned Madame Magloire.com 183 .’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘Pewter has an odor. Who was that man? A poor man. Ah. then. Another silence ensued. her eyes fell upon a corner of the garden. in the first place. then the Bishop went on:— ‘Madame Magloire. It makes no difference to us. come! Are there no such things as pewter forks and spoons?’ Madame Magloire shrugged her shoulders. ‘Stay! yonder is the way he went. which the basket had broken as it fell across the bed. The coping of the wall had been torn away.chlearia des Guillons. then he raised his grave eyes. I have for a long time detained that silver wrongfully. and said gently to Madame Magloire:— ‘And. the abomination! He has stolen our silver!’ The Bishop remained silent for a moment. ‘Ah. It belonged to the poor.

truly. who was grumbling under her breath. making a military salute. mon Dieu! it makes one shudder to think of it!’ As the brother and sister were about to rise from the table. ‘to take in a man like that! and to lodge him close to one’s self! And how fortunate that he did nothing but steal! Ah. ‘So he is not the cure?’ 184 Les Miserables . ‘Monseigneur—‘ said he. was standing near the door. raised his head with an air of stupefaction. and to Madame Magloire. A singular and violent group made its appearance on the threshold. The door opened. who was dejected and seemed overwhelmed.’ A few moments later he was breakfasting at the very table at which Jean Valjean had sat on the previous evening. Three men were holding a fourth man by the collar. Monseigneur Welcome remarked gayly to his sister. there came a knock at the door.’ said Madame Magloire to herself. The three men were gendarmes. As he ate his breakfast. Jean Valjean. ‘Iron has a taste. ‘wooden ones then.’ said the Bishop. that one really does not need either fork or spoon.’ ‘Very well. the other was Jean Valjean. even of wood. A brigadier of gendarmes. ‘A pretty idea. in order to dip a bit of bread in a cup of milk. who seemed to be in command of the group. At this word.Madame Magloire made an expressive grimace. ‘Monseigneur!’ he murmured. ‘Come in.’ said the Bishop. He entered and advanced to the Bishop. as she went and came. who said nothing.

thou art released. Why did you not carry them away with your forks and spoons?’ Jean Valjean opened his eyes wide. ‘Monseigneur. and as though he were talking in his sleep. then? We came across him. in an almost inarticulate voice. and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs.’ In the meantime. Well.’ replied the brigadier.’ replied the Bishop. dost thou not understand?’ said one of the gendarmes. ‘Is it true that I am to be released?’ he said.com 185 . ‘Ah! here you are!’ he exclaimed.‘Silence!’ said the gendarme. and stared at the venerable Bishop with an expression which no human tongue can render any account of. He had this silver—‘ ‘And he told you. We stopped him to look into the matter.’ said the brigadier of gendarmes. The gendarmes released Jean Valjean. He was walking like a man who is running away. ‘Yes. Monseigneur Bienvenu had advanced as quickly as his great age permitted. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘so what this man said is true.’ interposed the Bishop with a smile. ‘we can let him go?’ ‘Certainly.’ ‘In that case. who recoiled. ‘He is Monseigneur the Bishop. ‘I am glad to see you. ‘that it had been given to him by a kind old fellow of a priest with whom he had passed the night? I see how the matter stands. which are of silver like the rest. looking at Jean Valjean. but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too. And you have brought him back here? It is a mistake.

turning to the gendarmes:— ‘You may retire. it is not necessary to pass through the garden. my friend. when you return. ‘Now. you no longer belong to evil. and said in a low voice:— ‘Do not forget. and brought them to Jean Valjean. I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition. remained speechless. without a gesture. took the two silver candlesticks. It is your soul that I buy from you. You can always enter and depart through the street door. He took the two candlesticks mechanically.’ Then. never forget.‘My friend. and I give it to God.’ Jean Valjean. that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man. It is never fastened with anything but a latch. By the way.’ resumed the Bishop.’ He stepped to the chimney-piece. Take them.’ The gendarmes retired. Jean Valjean was trembling in every limb. my brother.’ 186 Les Miserables . The Bishop drew near to him. without a look which could disconcert the Bishop. here are your candlesticks. ‘before you go.’ said the Bishop. and with a bewildered air. but to good. ‘go in peace. Jean Valjean was like a man on the point of fainting. who had no recollection of ever having promised anything. either by day or by night. The two women looked on without uttering a word. He resumed with solemnity:— ‘Jean Valjean. The Bishop had emphasized the words when he uttered them. gentlemen.

without having eaten anything and without feeling hungry. He asked himself what would replace this. He perceived with dismay that the sort of frightful calm which the injustice of his misfortune had conferred upon him was giving way within him. and that things should not have happened in this way.com 187 .CHAPTER XIII LITTLE GERVAIS Jean Valjean left the town as though he were fleeing from it. He was the prey of a throng of novel sensations. He wandered thus the whole morning. There came over him at moments a strange emotion which he resisted and to which he opposed the hardness acquired during the last twenty years of his life. there were still a few late flowers in the hedgeFree eBooks at Planet eBook. it would have agitated him less. This state of mind fatigued him. He was conscious of a sort of rage. taking whatever roads and paths presented themselves to him. He set out at a very hasty pace through the fields. without perceiving that he was incessantly retracing his steps. At times he would have actually preferred to be in prison with the gendarmes. Although the season was tolerably far advanced. He could not have told whether he was touched or humiliated. he did not know against whom it was directed.

a joyous sound became audible. He turned his head and saw a little Savoyard. casting long shadows athwart the soil from every pebble.rows here and there. it was so long since they had recurred to him. These memories were almost intolerable to him. Unutterable thoughts assembled within him in this manner all day long. Not even the spire of a distant village. 188 Les Miserables . whose odor as he passed through them in his march recalled to him memories of his childhood. and his marmot-box on his back. probably. Without stopping his song. Jean Valjean sat down behind a bush upon a large ruddy plain. his hurdygurdy on his hip. and played at knuckle-bones with some coins which he had in his hand—his whole fortune. One of those gay and gentle children. There was nothing on the horizon except the Alps. which would have contributed not a little to render his rags terrifying to any one who might have encountered him. about ten years of age. Jean Valjean might have been three leagues distant from D—— A path which intersected the plain passed a few paces from the bush. the lad halted in his march from time to time. In the middle of this meditation. coming up the path and singing. As the sun declined to its setting. who go from land to land affording a view of their knees through the holes in their trousers. which was absolutely deserted. Among this money there was one forty-sou piece.

’ Jean Valjean’s eyes remained fixed on the earth. In the meantime. The child began again. sir.’ said Jean Valjean. and made no reply. without perceiving Jean Valjean. and tossed up his handful of sous. ‘give me back my money. This time the forty-sou piece escaped him. Jean Valjean set his foot upon it. ‘Sir.’ ‘What is your name?’ said Jean Valjean. sir. The only sound was the tiny.’ Jean Valjean dropped his head. feeble cries of a flock of birds of passage. with that childish confidence which is composed of ignorance and innocence. which. which was traversing the heavens at an immense height. and went rolling towards the brushwood until it reached Jean Valjean. He showed no astonishment. The child was standing with his back to the sun. As far as the eye could see there was not a person on the plain or on the path. which cast threads of gold in his hair and empurpled with its blood-red gleam the savage face of Jean Valjean. up to that time. ‘my white piece! my Free eBooks at Planet eBook. but walked straight up to the man.The child halted beside the bush.’ resumed the child.com 189 .’ said the little Savoyard. ‘My piece of money!’ cried the child. ‘Little Gervais.’ ‘Go away. ‘Sir. ‘my money. he had caught with a good deal of adroitness on the back of his hand. ‘My money. The spot was absolutely solitary. the child had looked after his coin and had caught sight of him.

‘Who’s there?’ ‘I. running at the top of his speed. if you please!’ Then irritated. though he was so small. will you take your foot away? Take your foot away. in a sort of amazement. or we’ll see!’ ‘Ah! It’s still you!’ said Jean Valjean. He gazed at the child. Jean Valjean raised his head. sir.silver!’ It seemed as though Jean Valjean did not hear him. in the midst of his own revery. His eyes were troubled. and after a few moments of stupor he set out. he added:— ‘Will you take yourself off!’ The frightened child looked at him. sir. ‘Little Gervais! I! Give me back my forty sous. 190 Les Miserables . and rising abruptly to his feet. Nevertheless. At the same time he made an effort to displace the big ironshod shoe which rested on his treasure. He still remained seated. his foot still resting on the silver piece. The child grasped him by the collar of his blouse and shook him. ‘I want my piece of money! my piece of forty sous!’ The child wept.’ replied the child. lack of breath forced him to halt after a certain distance. then he stretched out his hand towards his cudgel and cried in a terrible voice. then began to tremble from head to foot. if you please! Take your foot away. and becoming almost menacing:— ‘Come now. and Jean Valjean heard him sobbing. without daring to turn his neck or to utter a cry.

At the end of a few moments the child had disappeared. He had remained standing and had not changed his attitude after the child’s flight. as he stood there erect and shivering. it is probable that he was feverish. as though the thing which lay glittering there in the gloom had been an open eye riveted upon him. seized it. he had just begun to feel the chill of evening. He settled his cap more firmly on his brow. The shadows were descending around Jean Valjean. like a terriFree eBooks at Planet eBook. At that moment he caught sight of the forty-sou piece. fixed ten or twelve paces in front of him. seemed to be scrutinizing with profound attention the shape of an ancient fragment of blue earthenware which had fallen in the grass. His gaze. He recoiled three paces. sought mechanically to cross and button his blouse. All at once he shivered. and straightened himself up again and began to gaze afar off over the plain. without being able to detach his gaze from the spot which his foot had trodden but an instant before. at the same time casting his eyes towards all points of the horizon. At the expiration of a few moments he darted convulsively towards the silver coin. advanced a step and stopped to pick up his cudgel.com 191 . which his foot had half ground into the earth. The sun had set. ‘What is this?’ he muttered between his teeth. It was as though he had received a galvanic shock. and which was shining among the pebbles. The breath heaved his chest at long and irregular intervals. then halted. He had eaten nothing all day.

if the child had heard him. An icy north wind was blowing. then he began to run. ‘Little Gervais! Little Gervais!’ Assuredly. with a voice which was the most formidable and the most disconsolate that it was possible to hear. One would have said that they were threatening and pursuing some one. He stepped up to him and said:— 192 Les Miserables . ‘Ah!’ and set out rapidly in the direction in which the child had disappeared. He set out on his march again. great banks of violet haze were rising in the gleam of the twilight. He encountered a priest on horseback. the plain was cold and vague. looked about him and saw nothing. He saw nothing. and imparted to things around him a sort of lugubrious life. The bushes shook their thin little arms with incredible fury. After about thirty paces he paused. He said. Night was falling. he would have been alarmed and would have taken good care not to show himself.fied wild animal which is seeking refuge. There was no reply. There was nothing around him but an obscurity in which his gaze was lost. He was encompassed by space. But the child was no doubt already far away. Then he shouted with all his might:— ‘Little Gervais! Little Gervais!’ He paused and waited. and a silence which engulfed his voice. and from time to time he halted and shouted into that solitude. The landscape was gloomy and deserted.

about ten years old. Such persons pass through these parts.’ said the priest. with a marmot. One of those Savoyards. wildly:— ‘Monsieur l’Abbe.’ He drew two five-franc pieces from his money-bag and handed them to the priest. ‘Monsieur le Cure. and gave them to the priest. you know?’ ‘I have not seen him. he was a little lad.‘Monsieur le Cure.com 193 . much alarmed. have you seen a child pass?’ ‘No. Two or three times he ran across the plain towards something which conveyed to him the effect of a human being reclining or crouching Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ he said. calling. gazing. but he met no one. in the direction which he had first taken. he is a little stranger. and a hurdy-gurdy. Then he added.’ The priest put spurs to his horse and fled in haste. Jean Valjean set out on a run.’ Jean Valjean seized two more coins of five francs each with violence. In this way he traversed a tolerably long distance. have me arrested. I think. Monsieur le Cure.’ ‘Little Gervais? There are no villages here? Can you tell me?’ ‘If he is like what you say. We know nothing of them. I am a thief. ‘One named Little Gervais?’ ‘I have seen no one. shouting. this is for your poor people. ‘For your poor. my friend.

He could not yield to the evidence of what was going on within him. his fists clenched in his hair and his face on his knees. he fell exhausted. ‘Little Gervais! Little Gervais! Little Gervais!’ His shout died away in the mist. quite thrown out of everything that had been his thought hitherto. which is the fortress of evil within us. it turned out to be nothing but brushwood or rocks nearly on a level with the earth. ‘You have promised me to become an honest man. at a spot where three paths intersected each other. on a large stone. he stopped. 194 Les Miserables . I buy your soul. He hardened himself against the angelic action and the gentle words of the old man. he was. He sent his gaze into the distance and shouted for the last time. as though an invisible power had suddenly overwhelmed him with the weight of his evil conscience. ‘Little Gervais!’ but in a feeble and almost inarticulate voice. The moon had risen. It was his last effort. It was the first time that he had wept in nineteen years. At length. and he cried. that if he yielded. that his obduracy was finally settled if he resisted this clemency. I give it to the good God. When Jean Valjean left the Bishop’s house. without even awakening an echo. He was indistinctly conscious that the pardon of this priest was the greatest assault and the most formidable attack which had moved him yet. He murmured yet once more. as we have seen. ‘I am a wretch!’ Then his heart burst.down. I take it away from the spirit of perversity. his legs gave way abruptly under him. To this celestial kindness he opposed pride.’ This recurred to his mind unceasingly. and he began to cry.

he must become a monster? Here. that it behooved him now. which we have already put to ourselves elsewhere: did he catch some shadow of all this in his thought. As he walked thus with haggard eyes. that if he were not henceforth the best of men. or fall lower than the convict. so to speak. that there no longer remained a middle course for him. does form the education of the intelligence. that if he wished to remain evil. had been begun between his viciousness and the goodness of that man.com 195 . did he have a distinct perception of what might result to him from his adventure at D——? Did he understand all those mysterious murmurs which warn or importune the spirit at certain moments of life? Did a voice whisper in his ear that he had just passed the solemn hour of his destiny. he would be the worst. in a confused way? Misfortune certainly. and which pleased him. a colossal and final struggle.he should be obliged to renounce that hatred with which the actions of other men had filled his soul through so many years. it is doubtful whether Jean Valjean was in a condition to disentangle all that we have here indicated. that if he wished to become good be must become an angel. On emerging from that black and deformed thing Free eBooks at Planet eBook. some questions must be put. and they only succeeded in throwing him into an unutterable and almost painful state of emotion. to mount higher than the Bishop. nevertheless. In the presence of these lights. he but caught glimpses of. If these ideas occurred to him. rather than saw them. that this time it was necessary to conquer or to be conquered. as we have said. and that a struggle. again. he proceeded like a man who is intoxicated.

filled him with tremors and anxiety. Like an owl. of the evil thoughts which he had brought away from the galleys. even less than that. as too vivid a light would have hurt his eyes on emerging from the dark. and had robbed him of his forty sous. That which was certain. who should suddenly see the sun rise. the possible life which offered itself to him henceforth. and it was also. as it were.—strange phenomenon. It was because. that it was no longer in his power to make it as though the Bishop had not spoken to him and had not touched him. had simply placed his foot upon that money. while the intelligence was struggling amid so many novel and hitherto unheard-of thoughts besetting it. Jean Valjean recoiled with anguish and uttered a cry of terror. was that he was no longer the same man. Why? He certainly could not have explained it. that everything about him was changed. as it were. the convict had been dazzled and blinded. it was not he who stole.— a remnant of impulse. who. Let us say it simply. a result of what is called in statics. was this the last effect and the supreme effort. that which he did not doubt. it was the beast. all pure and radiant. In this state of mind he had encountered little Gervais.which is called the galleys. acquired force? It was that. and one which was possible only in the situation in which he found 196 Les Miserables . He no longer knew where he really was. by habit and instinct. the Bishop had hurt his soul. The future life. it was not the man. by virtue. When intelligence re-awakened and beheld that action of the brute. perhaps.

This. He had almost reached the point of asking himself who that man was.com 197 . as we have remarked. At the moment when he exclaimed ‘I am a wretch!’ he had just perceived what he was. he had done a thing of which he was no longer capable. and on the other the light. all bewildered. and as if he had. even before examining himself and reflecting. He actually saw that Jean Valjean. there before him. that he seemed to himself to be no longer anything more than a phantom. before him. then. His brain was going through one of those violent and yet perfectly calm moments in which revery is so profound that Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Jean Valjean. Excess of unhappiness had. this last evil action had a decisive effect on him. he tried to find the child in order to return his money to him. in flesh and blood.—in stealing the money from that child. as certain chemical reagents act upon a troubled mixture by precipitating one element and clarifying the other. First of all. his knapsack filled with stolen objects on his back. the hideous galley-convict. cudgel in hand. and acted on his soul. with his resolute and gloomy visage. that sinister face. he halted in despair. and he was already separated from himself to such a degree. with his thoughts filled with abominable projects. it abruptly traversed that chaos which he bore in his mind. placed on one side the thick obscurity. when he recognized the fact that this was impossible. and dispersed it. his blouse on his hips. was in the nature of a vision. and he was horrified by him. However that may be. like one who seeks to save himself. then. in the state in which it then was. made him in some sort a visionary.himself.

athwart this hallucination. in proportion as his revery continued. which are peculiar to this sort of ecstasies. and at the same time. his internal hardness. the figures which one has in one’s own mind. what had happened to him at the Bishop’s. he perceived in a mysterious depth a sort of light which he at first took for a torch. One no longer beholds the object which one has before one. with more fright than a child. he recognized the fact that it possessed a human form and that this torch was the Bishop. After a certain time he was no longer anything more than a shade. Nothing less than the first was required to soften the second. face to face. Thus he contemplated himself. a light at once ravishing and terrible. as though apart from one’s self. so did Jean Valjean grow less and vanish. His conscience weighed in turn these two men thus placed before it. his external brutishness. On scrutinizing this light which appeared to his conscience with more attention. he filled the whole soul of this wretched man with a magnificent radiance. the last thing that he 198 Les Miserables . so to speak. The Bishop alone remained. and one sees.— the Bishop and Jean Valjean. his dismissal to liberty. Jean Valjean wept for a long time. an extraordinary light. he sobbed with more weakness than a woman. He wept burning tears. By one of those singular effects. as the Bishop grew great and resplendent in his eyes. rejoicing in manifold plans of vengeance. His past life. daylight penetrated more and more clearly into his soul. As he wept. All at once he disappeared. his long expiation.it absorbs reality. his first fault.

Free eBooks at Planet eBook.had done. How many hours did he weep thus? What did he do after he had wept? Whither did he go! No one ever knew. in front of the door of Monseigneur Welcome. The only thing which seems to be authenticated is that that same night the carrier who served Grenoble at that epoch. and all the more monstrous since it had come after the Bishop’s pardon. kneeling on the pavement in the shadow.com 199 . and it seemed horrible to him. and it seemed frightful to him. but with a clearness which he had never hitherto witnessed. He examined his life. that theft of forty sous from a child. a crime all the more cowardly. saw. a man in the attitude of prayer. as he traversed the street in which the Bishop’s residence was situated. In the meantime a gentle light rested over this life and this soul. his soul. It seemed to him that he beheld Satan by the light of Paradise. and who arrived at D—— about three o’clock in the morning.—all this recurred to his mind and appeared clearly to him.

—IN THE YEAR 1817 200 Les Miserables .BOOK THIRD.

entitled the twenty-second of his reign.. after the mode of the Austrian. Lynch was this: being mayor of Bordeaux. with a certain royal assurance which was not wanting in pride. the Duke d’Angouleme. Hence his peerage. The brilliant action performed by M. In 1817 fashion swallowed up little boys of from four to six years of age in vast caps of morocco leather with ear-tabs resembling Esquimaux mitres. hoping for powder and the return of the royal bird. in his costume of a peer of France. It was the candid time at which Count Lynch sat every Sunday as church-warden in the church-warden’s pew of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Napoleon Free eBooks at Planet eBook. with his red ribbon and his long nose and the majesty of profile peculiar to a man who has performed a brilliant action. were besmeared with azure and decked with fleurs-de-lys. he had surrendered the city a little too promptly to M.com 201 . instead of numbers they bore the names of departments. the regiments were called legions. It is the year in which M. Bruguiere de Sorsum was celebrated.CHAPTER I THE YEAR 1817 1817 is the year which Louis XVIII. The French army was dressed in white. 1814. on the 12th of March. All the hairdressers’ shops.

Potier reigned. from which the gilding was falling. Legitimacy had just asserted itself by cutting off the hand. he was having his old coats turned. the mass of federation in the Champ de Mars. 1790. and the Abbe Louis. The Field of May had this remarkable point: that it had been held in the month of June and in the Field of March (Mars). There were still Prussians in France. painted blue. of Carbonneau. Louis had served it in the capacity of deacon. of Pleignier. rotting amid the grass. then the head. Talleyrand had said it as bishop. In 1817 Pelligrini sang. Two or three of these columns had disappeared in these bivouac fires. on the 14th of July. These were the columns which two years before had upheld the Emperor’s platform in the Champ de Mai. grand chamberlain. with the laugh of the two augurs. The most recent Parisian sensation was the crime of Dautun. and had warmed the large hands of the Imperial troops. in the side-alleys of this same Champ de Mars. appointed minister of finance. and since England refused him green cloth. M. Helena.was at St. and of Tolleron. In 1817. two great cylinders of wood might have been seen lying in the rain. In this year. with traces of eagles and bees. both of them had celebrated. who had thrown his brother’s head into the fountain of the 202 Les Miserables . Mademoiselle Bigottini danced. Delalot was a personage. two things were popular: the Voltaire-Touquet and the snuff-box a la Charter. The Prince de Talleyrand. Odry did not yet exist. They were blackened here and there with the scorches of the bivouac of Austrians encamped near Gros-Caillou. laughed as they looked at each other. Madame Saqui had succeeded to Forioso. 1817.

Louis XVIII. The N’s were scratched off the Louvre. On the platform of the octagonal tower of the Hotel de Cluny. much preoccupied while annotating Horace with the corner of his finger-nail. The Duchesse de Duras read to three or four friends her unpublished Ourika. named d’Arlincourt.—Napoleon and Mathurin Bruneau. which was destined to cover Chaumareix with infamy and Gericault with glory. in the interim.Flower-Market. on account of the lack of news from that fatal frigate. Bellart was officially eloquent.. Claire d’Albe and Malek-Adel were masterpieces. which had served as an observatory to Messier. heroes who have become emperors. The bridge of Austerlitz had abdicated. in sky-blue satin. had two anxieties.. was still to be seen. Madame Cottin was proFree eBooks at Planet eBook. and was entitled the bridge of the King’s Garden [du Jardin du Roi]. named Marchangy. until there should be a false Marchangy. served as a shop for a cooper. They had begun to feel anxious at the Naval Department. The Happiness procured through Study. the naval astronomer under Louis XVI. In his shadow could be seen germinating that future advocate-general of Broe. in her boudoir furnished by X. M. a double enigma.com 203 . The French Academy had given for its prize subject. Colonel Selves was going to Egypt to become Soliman-Pasha. and makers of wooden shoes who have become dauphins. dedicated to the sarcasms of Paul-Louis Courier. in the Rue de La Harpe. There was a false Chateaubriand. The palace of Thermes. The Medusa. which disguised the bridge of Austerlitz and the Jardin des Plantes at one stroke. the little shed of boards.

the author of Agnese. being lord high admiral. should be tolerated. That t made the good middle-class people laugh heartily at the expense of the great writer. In journals which sold themselves. Arnault had no longer any wit. prostituted journalists. The Duc de Berri. with words by Edmond Geraud. directed the little private concerts of the Marquise de Sasenaye in the Rue Ville l’Eveque. Their form was restricted. otherwise the monarchical principle would have received a wound. Soult had won no 204 Les Miserables . already surveyed from the shadow by Louvel. with a square face and a wart on his cheek. In the Council of Ministers the question was agitated whether vignettes representing slack-rope performances. The body-guard hissed Mademoiselle Mars. M. against the Cafe Valois. The grand newspapers were all very small. The Yellow Dwarf was transferred into Mirror.claimed the chief writer of the epoch. The Institute had the academician. for the Duc d’Angouleme. David had no longer any talent. The Constitutionnel was constitutional. and which attracted throngs of street urchins. The Cafe Lemblin stood up for the Emperor. La Minerve called Chateaubriand Chateaubriant. but their liberty was great. it was evident that the city of Angouleme had all the qualities of a seaport. Paer. Carnot was no longer honest. insulted the exiles of 1815. had just been married to a princess of Sicily. a good sort of fellow. which adorned Franconi’s advertising posters. All the young girls were singing the Hermit of Saint-Avelle. A royal ordinance erected Angouleme into a naval school. which upheld the Bourbons. stricken from its list of members. Madame de Stael had died a year previously. Napoleon Bonaparte.

All sensible people were agreed that the era of revolution had been closed forever by King Louis XVIII. surnamed ‘The Immortal Author of the Charter. having. and slippers. Chateaubriand stood every morning at his window at No. to say Napoleon. or to say the voters.’ MM. was making the rough draft of his privy assembly to consolidate the monarchy. or to say the allies. the regicides. clad in footed trousers. This is no new fact. and they derided the prescribed man well on this occasion. as the police made it their religious duty to intercept them. 4. to some extent with Monsieur’s approval. reigned. it struck the royalist journals as amusing. and De Chappedelaine were preparing the sketch.’ On the platform of the Pont-Neuf. Delaverderie was conferring with Trogoff. No one is ignorant of the fact that letters sent to an exile by post very rarely reached him. with his eyes fixed on a mirror. M. it is true that Napoleon had no longer any genius. the word Redivivus was carved on the pedestal that awaited the statue of Henry IV. Piet. L’Epingle Noire was already plotting in his own quarter. ‘We must write to Bacot. Descartes complained of it in his exile. or to say Buonaparte. 27 Rue Saint-Dominique. O’Mahoney. Decazes. No. of what was to become later on ‘The Conspiracy of the Bord de l’Eau’—of the waterside. What separated two men more than an abyss was to say. Canuel. Now David. a complete set Free eBooks at Planet eBook. who was liberal to a degree.. in a Belgian publication. The leaders of the Right said at grave conjunctures. with a madras kerchief knotted over his gray hair. in the Rue Therese. to say the enemies. shown some displeasure at not receiving letters which had been written to him.com 205 .battles. M.

cleaning his teeth. Fabvier was factious. with the following title: Works of Voltaire. Divorce was abolished. M. Lyceums called themselves colleges. published an edition of Voltaire. while he dictated The Monarchy according to the Charter to M. The general 206 Les Miserables . Pilorge. upon whose pediment the removal of the letters still allowed THEATRE OF THE EMPRESS to be plainly read. of the French Academy. de Trinquelague would do on such or such an occasion. M. everywhere exhibited. The counter-police of the chateau had denounced to her Royal Highness Madame. Clausel de Coussergues. People took part for or against Cugnet de Montarlot. The Liberal. Clausel de Montals differed on divers points from M.. ‘That will attract purchasers. the Duc d’Orleans. de Salaberry was not satisfied. M. had The Two Philiberts played at the Odeon. which the comedian Moliere had not been able to do. de Feletez signed himself A. decorated on the collar with a golden fleurde-lys. Serious men asked themselves what M. the portrait. the Duc de Berri. Hoffmann signed himself Z.’ said the ingenious editor. M.of dentist’s instruments spread out before him. who belonged to the Academy. Bavoux was revolutionary. who made a better appearance in his uniform of a colonel-general of hussars than M. his secretary. preferred Lafon to Talma. The comedian Picard. The collegians. assuming an authoritative tone. which were charming. Pelicier. in his uniform of colonel-general of dragoons— a serious inconvenience. Charles Nodier wrote Therese Aubert. of M. The city of Paris was having the dome of the Invalides regilded at its own expense. fought each other apropos of the King of Rome. Criticism.

a sort of plaything. whom the future will recall. Charles Loyson would be the genius of the century. The quarrel over the valley of Dappes was begun between Switzerland and France by a memoir from Captain. of an unknown priest. a note to a poem by Millevoye introduced him to France in these terms: a certain Lord Baron.opinion was that M. M. at a latter date. who. afterwards General Dufour. There was a celebrated Fourier at the Academy of Science. administered the diocese of Lyons. whom posterity has forgotten. and this verse was composed on him:— “Even when Loyson steals. the reformer of the Institute by a coup d’etat. and in some garret an obscure Fourier. ignored. Lord Byron was beginning to make his mark. Archbishop of Amasie. The Parisians stared indifferently at this useless thing. from the Pont Royal to the Pont Louis XV. M. in terms of praise. one feels that he has paws.com 207 . named Felicite-Robert. envy was beginning to gnaw at him—a sign of glory. de Vaublanc. it was a piece of mechanism which was not good for much. The Abbe Caron was speaking. David d’Angers was trying to work in marble. was erecting his sublime dream. an utopia—a steamboat. became Lamennais.’ As Cardinal Fesch refused to resign. the distinguished author of numerous Free eBooks at Planet eBook. de Pins. Saint-Simon. the idle dream of a dream-ridden inventor.. to a private gathering of seminarists in the blind alley of Feuillantines. A thing which smoked and clattered on the Seine with the noise of a swimming dog went and came beneath the windows of the Tuileries.

and threatened each other with their fists on the subject of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Traitors showed themselves unbuttoned. exbishop.academicians. arm in arm. and succeeded therein not at all. made a thousand efforts to have pomme de terre [potato] pronounced parmentiere. on seeing the Comte d’Artois enter Notre Dame. tried to please bigoted reaction by reconciling fossils with texts and by making mastodons flatter Moses. in the royalist polemics. M. The Abbe Gregoire. men who had gone over to the enemy on the eve of battle made no 208 Les Miserables . Francois de Neufchateau. was still recognizable on account of its whiteness. Cuvier. to the state of ‘Infamous Gregoire. the mining aperture made by Blucher to blow up the bridge had been stopped up. the praiseworthy cultivator of the memory of Parmentier. Royer Collard.’ A seditious utterance. after having created them. ex-conventionary.’ The locution of which we have made use—passed to the state of—has been condemned as a neologism by M. had said aloud: ‘Sapristi! I regret the time when I saw Bonaparte and Talma enter the Bel Sauvage. ex-senator. the two years previously. on account of his piety. Dupuytren and Recamier entered into a quarrel in the amphitheatre of the School of Medicine. The Faubourg Saint-Germain and the pavilion de Marsan wished to have M. had passed. could not succeed in becoming one himself. Under the third arch of the Pont de Jena. and batches of members. the new stone with which. Six months in prison. with one eye on Genesis and the other on nature. Justice summoned to its bar a man who. Delaveau for prefect of police. ordinances.

nor little leaves in vegetation.com 209 . History neglects nearly all these particulars. these details. pell-mell. In this year of 1817 four young Parisians arranged ‘a fine farce.— there are no trivial facts in humanity. deserters from Ligny and Quatre-Bras. It is of the physiognomy of the years that the physiognomy of the centuries is composed. This is what floats up confusedly. Nevertheless. and is now forgotten. and strutted immodestly in the light of day. the infinity would overwhelm it.secret of their recompense. for the year 1817. and cannot do otherwise. exhibited their devotion to the monarchy in the most barefaced manner. in the brazenness of their well-paid turpitude.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.—are useful. which are wrongly called trivial. in the cynicism of riches and dignities.

at that epoch.CHAPTER II A DOUBLE QUARTETTE These Parisians came. had but just won the battle of Waterloo. Oscar. so named because she had been in England. for. Oscar advances. Naturally. Fameuil. Arthurs did not yet exist. with that charming April which is called twenty years. elegance was Scandinavian and Caledonian. the second. These young men were insignificant. I shall behold him! People had just emerged from Ossian. They were four Oscars. one from Toulouse. Li210 Les Miserables . and the fourth from Montauban. and the first of the Arthurs. Listolier. each of them had his mistress. neither good nor bad. the last. the third from Cahors. Burn for him the perfumes of Araby! exclaimed romance. four specimens of humanity taken at random. of Cahors. neither geniuses nor fools. another from Limoges. of Limoges. These Oscars bore the names. one says Parisian: to study in Paris is to be born in Paris. and when one says student. neither wise nor ignorant. Blachevelle. Blachevelle loved Favourite. Wellington. of Toulouse. the next. the pure English style was only to prevail later. but they were students. handsome. one of Felix Tholomyes. every one has seen such faces. of Montauban.

though hardly begun. and in their souls that flower of honesty which survives the first fall in woman.com 211 . because she was the youngest of them.stolier adored Dahlia. Poverty and coquetry are two fatal counsellors. and not yet entirely divorced from their needles. Not to conceal anything. Dahlia. Zephine. and one was called the old. These badly guarded souls listen. who was still in her first illusions. and the lover who had borne the name of Adolph in the first chapter had turned out to be Alphonse in the second. could not have said as much. They are overwhelmed with splendor of all that is immaculate and inaccessible. and more emancipated into the tumult of life than Fantine the Blonde. because of her beautiful. Tholomyes had Fantine. called the Blonde. Alas! what if the Jungfrau were hungry? Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and the beautiful daughters of the people have both of them whispering in their ear. There had already been more than one episode in their romance. Favourite. each on its own side. an abridgment of Josephine. and the stones which are thrown at them. and especially Favourite. but still retaining on their faces something of the serenity of toil. who had taken for her nickname the name of a flower. more heedless. sunny hair. the three first were more experienced. One of the four was called the young. Dahlia. perfumed and radiant. and Gustave in the third. the old one was twenty-three. Zephine. still a little like working-women. Hence the falls which they accomplish. Fameuil idolized Zephine. one scolds and the other flatters. somewhat disturbed by intrigues. and Fantine were four ravishing young women.

was admired by Dahlia and Zephine. She had had an establishment of her own very early in life. had a mattress which she owned brought in. remained hours without uttering a word.’ ‘I am your mother. the proof of this is that. It was having rosy nails that were too pretty which had drawn Dahlia to Listolier. breakfasted. and ate and drank. who went out to give lessons in spite of his age. How could she make such nails work? She who wishes to remain virtuous must not have pity on her hands. As for Zephine. This professor. Such loves are always accompanied by such friendships. and installed herself. a brutal man and a braggart. the young girls were friends. and went down to the porter’s quarters for company. She met her father from time to time. he had fallen in love in consequence of this accident. had entered her apartments. and had said to her. to idleness. The result had been Favourite. and he bowed to her. and supped for four. sir. ‘You do not know me. had one day seen a chambermaid’s gown catch on a fender. Mamemoiselle?’ ‘No.’ Then the old woman opened the sideboard. after making all due allowances for 212 Les Miserables . This cross and pious old mother never spoke to Favourite. dined. One morning an old woman with the air of a devotee. Her father was an old unmarried professor of mathematics. Goodness and philosophy are two distinct things.Favourite having been in England. where she spoke ill of her daughter.’ The young men were comrades. to others perhaps. she had conquered Fameuil by her roguish and caressing little way of saying ‘Yes. when he was a young man.

She had Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a sole love. so to speak. Zephine. and Tholomyes? Solomon would reply that love forms a part of wisdom. no baptismal name. and remained pure as long as she could. At the age of ten. who had encountered her. Favourite. and Dahlia were philosophical young women. Fantine quitted the town and went to service with some farmers in the neighborhood. with fine teeth. she had no family. sur M. she bore on her brow the sign of the anonymous and the unknown. She bore the name which pleased the first random passer-by. of all the four.these little irregular households. the Church no longer existed. She alone. Fantine was one of those beings who blossom. Though she had emerged from the most unfathomable depths of social shadow. She was called Fantine.’ Fantine was beautiful. At fifteen she came to Paris ‘to seek her fortune. Of what parents? Who can say? She had never known father or mother. Why Fantine? She had never borne any other name. This human creature had entered life in just this way. She was a lovely blonde. while Fantine was a good girl. She was called little Fantine. was not called ‘thou’ by a single one of them. Good! some one will exclaim.com 213 . No one knew more than that. She had no family name. We will confine ourselves to saying that the love of Fantine was a first love. running bare-legged in the street. from the dregs of the people. She was born at M. At the epoch of her birth the Directory still existed. a faithful love. when a very small child. She received the name as she received the water from the clouds upon her brow when it rained.

and he had been attacked by a watering in one eye. has its hunger. he replaced his teeth with buffooneries. gayety was kindled. the skull at thirty. Fantine had long evaded Tholomyes in the mazes of the hill of the Pantheon. But in proportion as his youth disappeared. still for the sake of her living. Tholomyes was the antique old student. but in such a way as constantly to encounter him again. which was packing up for departure long before its time. also. She loved Tholomyes. He was dilapidated but still in flower. Tholomyes was a fast man of thirty. and he had the beginning of a bald spot. the knee at forty. four thousand francs! a splendid scandal on Mount Sainte-Genevieve. There is a way of avoiding which resembles seeking. he was rich. of which he himself said with sadness. and her pearls were in her mouth. The streets of the Latin quarter. where so many adventurers twine and untwine. In short. beat a retreat 214 Les Miserables . filled with throngs of students and grisettes. He was wrinkled and toothless. It was he who possessed the wit. His digestion was mediocre. She worked for her living. the eclogue took place. his health with irony. but her gold was on her head. His youth. passion for her. his hair with mirth.—she loved. An amour for him. Listolier. his weeping eye laughed incessantly. and Fameuil formed a sort of group of which Tholomyes was the head. he had an income of four thousand francs. then. Blachevelle.gold and pearls for her dowry. and badly preserved.— for the heart. saw the beginning of their dream.

’ Thereupon. and said to them:— ‘Fantine. let us discuss the question. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and no one saw anything but fire. perform thy miracle. with the gesture of an oracle. We have promised them solemnly that we would. Pressure on both sides. Yellow face.in good order. it seems to me. ‘That is an idea. They are forever talking about it to us. He made a few verses now and then. and Blachevelle exclaimed. Tholomyes lowered his voice and articulated something so mirthful.’ so our beauties say to me incessantly. bursting with laughter. he was the leader. The moment has arrived. In addition to this he doubted everything to the last degree. they entered. The result of these shades was a dazzling pleasure party which took place on the following Sunday. Dahlia. just as the old women in Naples cry to Saint Januarius. ‘Faccia gialluta. Is it possible that irony is derived from it? One day Tholomyes took the three others aside. ‘Tholomyes. Being thus ironical and bald. and Favourite have been teasing us for nearly a year to give them a surprise. the four young men inviting the four young girls. when will you bring forth your surprise?’ At the same time our parents keep writing to us. to me in particular. He had had a piece rejected at the Vaudeville.com 215 . and the remainder of their confidential colloquy was lost in shadow.’ A smoky tap-room presented itself. that a vast and enthusiastic grin broke out upon the four mouths simultaneously. fa o miracolo. Iron is an English word. which is a vast force in the eyes of the weak. Zephine.

had written the following to Tholomyes in the name of the four: ‘It is a good hour to emerge from happiness. there is the railway car. summer day.’ That is why they rose at five o’clock in the morning. there is now the steamboat. the physiognomy of what may be called circumparisian life has changed completely in the last half-century. looked at the dry cascade and exclaimed. ‘This must be very beautiful when there is water!’ They breakfasted at the Tete-Noir. where 216 Les Miserables . where there was a tender-boat. The Paris of 1862 is a city which has France for its outskirts. The vacation was beginning. bright. Favourite. On the preceding day. The four couples conscientiously went through with all the country follies possible at that time. where there was the cuckoo. the only one who knew how to write. forty-five years ago. people speak of Fecamp nowadays as they spoke of Saint-Cloud in those days. Then they went to Saint-Cloud by the coach. The suburbs of Paris are no longer the same. and it was a warm.CHAPTER III FOUR AND FOUR It is hard nowadays to picture to one’s self what a pleasure-trip of students and grisettes to the country was like.

com 217 . ate apple tarts everywhere.Castaing had not yet been. holding aside the branches. as he strolled that day beneath the chestnut-trees of Saint-Cloud. they ascended Diogenes’ lantern.’ as he thought of the Graces. Matutinal intoxication of life! adorable years! the wings of the dragonfly quiver. down a slope all wet with rain. M. A good old classic poet. and crying. saw them pass about ten o’clock in the morning. laughing. on account of the charming head which is coming on behind you? Have you slid. my new boots! what a state they are in!’ Let us say at once that that merry obstacle.’ All four were madly pretty. Favourite. It was a perfect delirium. Blachevelle’s Free eBooks at Planet eBook.—a sign of rain. with a magisterial and maternal tone. From time to time they bestowed little taps on the young men. with a beloved woman holding your hand. a shower. although Favourite had said as they set out. bought reed-pipes at Neuilly. le Chevalier de Labouisse. do you not remember? Have you rambled through the brushwood. a good fellow who had an Eleonore. children. and were perfectly happy. ‘Ah. they gambled for macaroons at the roulette establishment of the Pont de Sevres. was lacking in the case of this good-humored party. ‘There is one too many of them. and exclaimed. then famous. The young girls rustled and chatted like warblers escaped from their cage. ‘The slugs are crawling in the paths. Oh. whoever you may be. picked bouquets at Pateaux. they treated themselves to a game of ring-throwing under the quincunx of trees of the grand fountain.

and clinging to each other. jumped the ditches. the old one. imitation India shawl of Ternaux’s manufacture. with straps of braided copper wire. a strange thing called a cigar in his mouth. Tholomyes followed. he smoked. dominating the group. never left each other. more from an instinct of coquetry than from friendship. who were engaged in discussing their professors. as he treated himself to everything. as later on. but one felt the force of government in him. He was very gay. and completed each other. Zephine and Dahlia. the first keepsakes had just made their appearance. Nothing was sacred to him. Delvincourt and M. Byronism dawned for men. explained to Fantine the difference that existed between M. Blachevelle seemed to have been created expressly to carry Favourite’s single-bordered. whom chance had made beautiful in such a way that they set each off when they were together. there was dictation in his joviality. stalked distractedly over bushes. and presided over this merry-making with the spirit of a young female faun. he carried a stout rattan worth two hundred francs in his hand. Blondeau. they assumed English poses. ‘What trousers! What energy!’ 218 Les Miserables .friend. and. with veneration. melancholy was dawning for women. the one aged three and twenty. his principal ornament was a pair of trousers of elephant-leg pattern of nankeen. Zephine and Dahlia had their hair dressed in rolls. ran on in front under the great green boughs. Listolier and Fameuil. on his arm on Sundays. ‘That Tholomyes is astounding!’ said the others. and the hair of the tender sex began to droop dolefully.

in the contest for Free eBooks at Planet eBook. shadowy lashes drooped discreetly over the jollity of the lower part of the face as though to call a halt. whose name. concealing and displaying at one and the same time. a Marseilles invention. seemed an alluring godsend of decency. Her thick blond hair. beneath flower-adorned hats. a corruption of the words quinze aout. its indiscretion. The corners of her mouth voluptuously turned up. open-worked stockings. would. pronounced after the fashion of the Canebiere. heat. seemed made for the flight of Galatea under the willows. and that sort of muslin spencer. had an air of encouraging the audacious. which in summer. and which easily uncoiled. and midday. The three others. with its transparencies. She preferred to carry her little hat of sewed straw.As for Fantine. signifies fine weather.com 219 . as we have already said.—laughter. she was a joy to behold. wore low-necked dresses without disguise. Her splendid teeth had evidently received an office from God. less timid. but by the side of these audacious outfits. have awarded the prize for coquetry to this canezou. She wore a gown of mauve barege. canezou. white. but her long. blond Fantine’s canezou. perhaps. as in the antique masks of Erigone. with its long white strings. and its reticence. and the famous Court of Love. whose ribbons traced an X on her fine. are very graceful and enticing. which was inclined to wave. little reddish brown buskins. There was something indescribably harmonious and striking about her entire dress. with the sea-green eyes. presided over by the Vicomtesse de Cette. and which it was necessary to fasten up incessantly. Her rosy lips babbled enchantingly. in her hand rather than on her head.

delicate of profile. She was beautiful in the two ways— style and rhythm. She remained a little astonished. To an observer who studied her attentively. was an invincible expression of reserve and modesty. and her love affair. shoulders modelled as though by Coustou. visible through the muslin. Those rare dreamers. Brilliant of face. sculptural and exquisite—such was Fantine. a strong and supple nape of the neck. a gayety cooled by dreaminess. joy. at times. without being too conscious of it. would have caught a glimpse in this little working-woman. We have said that Fantine was joy. that which breathed from her athwart all the intoxication of her age. Style is the form of the ideal. a white skin which. heavy lids. the wisest. through the transparency of her Parisian grace. This does happen. the robust throat of the Juno of AEgina. and beneath these feminine adornments and these ribbons one could divine a statue. The most ingenious is. white. a cheek that was young and fresh. feet arched and small. here and there allowed the azure branching of the veins to be seen. 220 Les Miserables . with eyes of a deep blue. Fantine had the long. with a voluptuous dimple in the middle. she was also modesty. This chaste astonishment is the shade of difference which separates Psyche from Venus. and in that statue a soul. the season. wrists and ankles admirably formed. rhythm is its movement. of the ancient sacred euphony. This daughter of the shadows was thoroughbred.the prize of modesty. mysterious priests of the beautiful who silently confront everything with perfection. Fantine was beautiful.

which makes Barberousse fall in love with a Diana found in the treasures of Iconia.fine fingers of the vestal virgin who stirs the ashes of the sacred fire with a golden pin. This sudden and sometimes severely accentuated gravity resembled the disdain of a goddess. and there was nothing more singular and disturbing than to see gayety become so suddenly extinct there. a mysterious sign of chastity. and meditation succeed to cheerfulness without any transition state. her face in repose was supremely virginal. Fantine was innocence floating high over fault. as we shall have more than ample opportunity to see. in the very characteristic interval which separates the base of the nose from the upper lip. her chin. a sort of serious and almost austere dignity suddenly overwhelmed her at certain times. she had that imperceptible and charming fold. Her brow. and from which harmony of countenance results. presented that equilibrium of outline which is quite distinct from equilibrium of proportion. her nose. Although she would have refused nothing to Tholomyes.com 221 . so be it. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Love is a fault.

without malice. running. and to be laughing. the trees. The flower-beds of Saint-Cloud perfumed the air. fresh. from one end to the other. mingled with the sun. plucking convolvulus. bees pillaged the jasmines. the branches gesticulated in the wind. The four merry couples. were resplendent. all received. the birds. in the august park of the King of France there was a pack of vagabonds. wetting their pink.CHAPTER IV THOLOMYES IS SO MERRY THAT HE SINGS A SPANISH DITTY That day was composed of dawn. who was hedged about with that vague resistance of hers composed 222 Les Miserables . the kisses of all. with the exception of Fantine. the breath of the Seine rustled the leaves vaguely. a whole bohemia of butterflies swooped down upon the yarrow. All nature seemed to be having a holiday. dancing. And in this community of Paradise. to some extent. the flowers. the fields. talking. the clover. wild. singing. open-work stockings in the tall grass. and the sterile oats. chasing butterflies.

so greatly are they dazzled by it. Diderot stretches out his arms to all these love idyls. Lancret. They laugh and hunt. Such things are joys. which is forever beginning anew. Hence the popularity of spring among thinkers.—in that eternal hedge-school of lovers. those adorations which burst forth in the manner of pronouncing a syllable. And the little cries. The departure for Cythera! exclaims Watteau. and there is in the air the brilliance of an apotheosis—what a transfiguration effected by love! Notaries’ clerks are gods. poets. After breakfast the four couples went to what was then Free eBooks at Planet eBook.—all this blazes forth and takes its place among the celestial glories. The patrician and the knife-grinder. the courtiers and townspeople. who have flitted away into the azure sky. Beautiful women waste themselves sweetly. painters. There was once a fairy who created the fields and forests expressly for those in love. ‘You always have a queer look about you. as they used to say in olden times.com 223 . and make a caress and light spring forth from everything. the limb of the law.of dreaminess and wildness. the waists embraced on the fly. and who was in love. These passages of happy couples are a profound appeal to life and nature. and which will last as long as there are hedges and scholars. all are subjects of this fairy.’ said Favourite to her. observe these ecstasies and know not what to make of it. Philosophers. and d’Urfe mingles druids with them. the duke and the peer. those jargons which are melodies. the pursuits through the grass. the painter of plebeians. contemplates his bourgeois. They think that this will never come to an end. those cherries torn from one mouth by another.

At Issy an incident occurred. at that time owned by Bourguin the contractor. visited the manikin anchorite in his grotto. were covered with a million tiny white rosettes. and which. 224 Les Miserables .called the King’s Square to see a newly arrived plant from India. tried the mysterious little effects of the famous cabinet of mirrors. whose name escapes our memory at this moment. There was always an admiring crowd about it. at that epoch. sang. Amor me llama. happened to be wide open. one after the other. They had stoutly shaken the swing attached to the two chestnut-trees celebrated by the Abbe de Bernis. Tholomyes exclaimed. was attracting all Paris to SaintCloud. As he swung these beauties. Toulouse being the cousin of Tolosa. the Toulousan Tholomyes. After viewing the shrub. amid peals of laughter. this gave the shrub the air of a head of hair studded with flowers. producing folds in the fluttering skirts which Greuze would have found to his taste. to a melancholy chant. who was somewhat of a Spaniard. probably inspired by some lovely maid dashing in full flight upon a rope between two trees:— “Soy de Badajoz. It was an odd and charming shrub with a long stem. The truly national park.    “Badajoz is my home. whose numerous branches. the wanton trap worthy of a satyr become a millionaire or of Turcaret metamorphosed into a Priapus. They passed the gates. bristling and leafless and as fine as threads. ‘I offer you asses!’ and having agreed upon a price with the owner of the asses. they returned by way of Vanvres and Issy. the old ballad gallega.     And Love is my name.

said Favourite.    I receive at thy feet” Fantine alone refused to swing.      To my eyes in flame. Porque ensenas. From time to time Favourite exclaimed:— ‘And the surprise? I claim the surprise. frightened at their happiness. After leaving the asses there was a fresh delight. they crossed the Seine in a boat. as the reader will remember.    For instruction meet A tuas piernas. were sliding down the Russian mountains. and proceeding from Passy on foot they reached the barrier of l’Etoile. They had been up since five o’clock that morning. a singular edifice which then occupied the heights of Beaujon. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. About three o’clock the four couples.com 225 .     All my soul doth come. on Sunday fatigue does not work. but bah! there is no such thing as fatigue on Sunday. ‘I don’t like to have people put on airs like that.’ muttered Favourite. Es en mi ojos.Toda mi alma. and whose undulating line was visible above the trees of the Champs Elysees.’ replied Tholomyes.’ ‘Patience. with a good deal of acrimony.

at the other the four couples seated round a merry confusion of platters. jugs of beer mingled with flasks of wine. and the radiant party of eight. glasses. very little order on the table. whose sign could then be seen in the Rue de Rivoli. with an alcove and a bed at the end (they had been obliged to put up with this accommodation in view of the Sunday crowd). a magnificent August sunlight lightly touching the panes. the quay and the river. dishes.’ 226 Les Miserables . became stranded in Bombarda’s public house. two windows whence they could survey beyond the elms.CHAPTER V AT BOMBARDA’S The Russian mountains having been exhausted. they began to think about dinner. some disorder beneath it.  “They made beneath the table A noise. somewhat weary at last. near Delorme Alley. A large but ugly room. upon one of them a triumphant mountain of bouquets. mingled with the hats of men and women. two tables. and bottles. a clatter of the feet that was abominable. Bombarda. a branch establishment which had been set up in the Champs-Elysees by that famous restaurant-keeper.

filled with sunshine and with people. the then celebrated Bourbon air. Many wore the silver fleur-de-lys suspended from the white-watered ribbon. someFree eBooks at Planet eBook.’ ‘Give us back our father from Ghent. This was the state which the shepherd idyl. and which had for its refrain:— “Rendez-nous notre pere de Gand.’ Groups of dwellers in the suburbs. were prancing in a cloud of gold. The sun was setting. the white flag. A squadron of magnificent body-guards. were nothing but light and dust. The Champs-Elysees.says Moliere. which was destined to strike the Hundred Days with lightning. who formed into circles and applauded. were descending the Avenue de Neuilly. which had not yet wholly disappeared from button-holes in the year 1817. was choked with happy promenaders. amid the passersby. their appetites were satisfied. The Place de la Concorde.  Give us back our father. with their clarions at their head.  Rendez-nous notre pere. those neighing marbles. the two things of which glory is composed. once more. in Sunday array. which had become the Place Louis XV. Carriages were going and coming. showing faintly rosy in the setting sun. The horses of Marly.com 227 . Here and there choruses of little girls threw to the winds. had reached at half-past four in the afternoon. begun at five o’clock in the morning. floated over the dome of the Tuileries.

The populace is restless in the provinces. were playing at rings and revolving on the wooden horses. like the bourgeois. there stood on the public square in Corinth the colossal bronze figure of a cat.times even decorated with the fleur-de-lys. others were engaged in drinking. it is an amiable rabble. In their eyes it was liberty incarnate. it was the epoch when a special and private report of Chief of Police Angeles to the King. however. It is remarkable that the stature of this population should have diminished in the last fifty years. Sire. Sire. scattered over the large square and the Marigny square. It was a time of undisputed peace and profound royalist security.’ Prefects of the police do not deem it possible that a cat can transform itself into a lion. and as though to serve as pendant to the Minerva Aptera of the Piraeus. that does happen. on the subject of the suburbs of Paris. it is not in Paris. Every thing was radiant. These are very pretty men. some journeyman printers had on paper caps. and the populace of the suburbs is still more puny than at the time of the Revolution. It is not dangerous. They are as heedless and as indolent as cats. Moreover. and in that lies the miracle wrought by the populace of Paris. There is nothing to be feared on the part of the populace of Paris the capital. their laughter was audible. It would take all of two of them to make one of your grenadiers. In short. terminated with these lines:— ‘Taking all things into consideration. The ingenuous police of the Restoration beheld the populace of Paris in too 228 Les Miserables . there is nothing to be feared from these people. the cat so despised by Count Angles possessed the esteem of the republics of old.

we will return to our four couples. give him a gun. Is it a question of country. he will produce the 10th of August. this little man will arise. this man of the faubourgs will grow in stature. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he only overthrows Louis XVI. you will have Austerlitz. make him sing the Marseillaise. it is his delight. and his breath will become a tempest. is it a question of liberty. Proportion his song to his nature. It is. mixed with arms. Give him a pike. let him not be trusted nevertheless. that the Revolution. and there will issue forth from that slender chest enough wind to disarrange the folds of the Alps. he is worthy of admiration in every sort of fury.‘rose-colored’ a light. This note jotted down on the margin of Angles’ report. The dinner. he tears up the pavements. and his gaze will be terrible. When the hour strikes. Beware! his hair filled with wrath. and he will free the world. he is ready for any sort of cool deed. Take care! he will make of the first Rue Grenetat which comes to hand Caudine Forks. his blouse drapes itself like the folds of a chlamys.. He is Napoleon’s stay and Danton’s resource. is epic. He sings. was drawing to its close.com 229 . no one can better assume the air of forgetfulness. no one is more frankly frivolous and lazy than he. and you will see! As long as he has for refrain nothing but la Carmagnole. conquers Europe. he enlists. it is not so much of ‘an amiable rabble’ as it is thought. The Parisian is to the Frenchman what the Athenian was to the Greek: no one sleeps more soundly than he. but when there is glory at the end of it. thanks to the suburban man of Paris. as we have said.

Favourite. Zephine was laughing. I adore you. ‘Ah! Do not say that even in jest! If you were to cease to love me. I would throw you into the water. Favourite gazed tenderly at Blachevelle and said:— ‘Blachevelle. if I were to cease to love you?’ ‘I!’ cried Favourite. I would scratch you.’ Blachevelle smiled with the voluptuous self-conceit of a man who is tickled in his self-love. it is as impossible to reproduce one as the other.’ This called forth a question from Blachevelle:— ‘What would you do. Fameuil and Dahlia were humming. I would have you arrested. Listolier blowing a wooden trumpet which he had purchased at Saint-Cloud. Favourite resumed:— 230 Les Miserables . I should rend you. the chat of love. Tholomyes was drinking. the chat at table is smoke.CHAPTER VI A CHAPTER IN WHICH THEY ADORE EACH OTHER Chat at table. the chat of love is a cloud. I would spring after you. Fantine smiling.

do you know him? One can see that he is an actor by profession. I tell Blachevelle that I adore him—how I lie! Hey! How I do lie!’ Favourite paused. ‘He is avaricious. that young man.‘Yes. said in a low voice to Favourite. seizing her fork again. Dahlia. I love actors. But. Ah! he is very nice. It has done nothing but rain Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Never mind. He idolizes me so. to black holes. He is very nice. declaiming. not at all! Rabble!’ Blachevelle threw himself back in his chair. and closed both eyes proudly.’ It is only artists who can say such things as that. you are splitting my head!’ So he goes up to rat-ridden garrets. as high as he can mount.’ replied Favourite in the same tone. that one day when he saw me making batter for some pancakes. make your gloves into fritters. and there he sets to singing. that Blachevelle of yours?’ ‘I? I detest him. my dear. He is the son of a former precentor of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas. and I will eat them. how do I know what? so that he can be heard down stairs! He earns twenty sous a day at an attorney’s by penning quibbles. I would scream to the police! Ah! I should not restrain myself. he said to me: ‘Mamselle. as she ate. I love the little fellow opposite me in my house. Dahlia. There he goes with his shouting. and then went on:— ‘I am sad.com 231 . you see. Ah! he is very nice. I am in a fair way to go out of my head over that little fellow. in an ecstasy. his mother says to him: ‘Ah! mon Dieu! my peace of mind is gone. As soon as he comes in. amid the uproar:— ‘So you really idolize him deeply.

the wind irritates me. one does not know what to eat. as the English say. there are hardly any green peas in the market.’ 232 Les Miserables . and that disgusts me with life. I have the spleen. the wind does not abate.all summer. Blachevelle is very stingy. here we are dining in a room with a bed in it. butter is so dear! and then you see it is horrible.

Bombance. ‘Let us not talk at random nor too fast. Excess of zeal ruins peach-trees and apricot-trees. Let us eat with meditation.CHAPTER VII THE WISDOM OF THOLOMYES In the meantime. if it makes haste. ‘Bombarda. No haste.’ A hollow sound of rebellion rumbled through the group. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. gentlemen. ‘Leave us in peace. it was no longer anything but noise. ‘Down with the tyrant!’ said Fameuil. it is done for. gentlemen! Grimod de la Reyniere agrees with Talleyrand. and Bambochel!’ cried Listolier. Excess of zeal kills the grace and the mirth of good dinners.com 233 . Let us not hurry. it gets frozen. if we wish to be brilliant. the rest talked together tumultuously all at once. while some sang.’ he exclaimed. No zeal. Consider the springtime. ‘Let us reflect. Tholomyes. Running beer gathers no froth. let us make haste slowly. Let us mingle majesty with the feast. Too much improvisation empties the mind in a stupid way. Tholomyes intervened.’ said Blachevelle. that is to say.

I repeat. no one would have remembered the city of Toryne. the most sublime. ‘Come to yourselves.’ resumed Fameuil.’ added Listolier. jollities. The jest falls. The Marquis de Montcalm was at that time a celebrated royalist. ‘contemplate my calmness [mon calme]. ‘We are sober. AEschylus on Polynices. no zeal. Far be it from me to insult the pun! I honor it in proportion to its merits. brothers.’ retorted Tholomyes. and that had it not been for it. All the frogs held their peace. or plays on words. no matter where.‘Sunday exists. That once conceded.’ cried Tholomyes. Listen to me. the most charming of humanity.’ ‘You are the Marquis of that. a Greek name which signifies a ladle. A whitish speck flattened against the rock does not prevent the condor from soaring aloft. Jesus Christ made a pun on St. Everything which falls in that way is not necessarily worthy of enthusiasm and respect. ‘Tholomyes. no hubbub. Cleopatra on Octavius. This pun which has fallen from the skies must not be received with too much stupor. I repeat. ‘Friends. Peter. no excess. And observe that Cleopatra’s pun preceded the battle of Actium. The pun is the dung of the mind which soars.’ remarked Blachevelle. and perhaps outside of humanity. I have the prudence 234 Les Miserables . nothing more. and the mind after producing a piece of stupidity plunges into the azure depths. with the accent of a man who had recovered his empire. gayety. I return to my exhortation. even in witticisms. Moses on Isaac. This mediocre play upon words produced the effect of a stone in a pool. All the most august. have made puns.

‘There must be a limit. even to dinners. ladies. when the hour strikes. good sense and art are requisite. There must be a limit. even to rebuses. You are fond of apple turnovers. has a stomach which must not be filled too full. Est modus in rebus.of Amphiaraus and the baldness of Caesar. ‘what a pretty word! I love that name.’ Favourite listened with profound attention. to effect his own arrest. and carry one’s self to the post. takes a heroic resolve. Even in the matter of turnovers. And remember this: each one of our passions. one must set one’s own fantasy to the violin. apparently it does not follow that it is absolutely necessary that I should be an imbecile. for I know the difference between the question put and the question pending. self-control must be exercised when the matter becomes urgent. It is true that my name is Felix Tholomyes.’ said she. for I have sustained a thesis in Latin upon the manner in which torture was administered at Rome at the epoch when Munatius Demens was quaestor of the Parricide. The sage is the man who knows how. Have some confidence in me. do not indulge in them to excess. I recommend you to moderation in your desires. because I am going to be a doctor. Happy is he who. for I have succeeded to some extent in my study of the law. In all things the word finis must be written in good season. even love. at a given moment. It Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Indigestion is charged by the good God with preaching morality to stomachs. and abdicates like Sylla or Origenes. I speak well. ‘Felix. Gula punit Gulax. Gluttony chastises the glutton. according to the verdict of my examinations.com 235 . the bolt must be drawn on appetite.

which was still greater! Ladies. the boot of Tzar Peter. ‘distrust her. And the proof of it. is this: like people. twenty-six. She detests the serpent from professional jealousy. girdles of herbs. twenty-five. to do without the nuptial bed. the cuartin of the Balearic Isles. starve yourself. the cantaro of Alicante. The arrobe of Castile contains sixteen litres. thirty. twelve.’ said Tholomyes. that is Spanish. the application of a plate of lead. ‘you are drunk!’ ‘Pardieu.’ ‘Tholomyes!’ cried Blachevelle. ‘Glory to wine! Nunc te. take 236 Les Miserables . Do you wish never to feel the prick. and add thereto cold baths. hard labor. ‘Woman.’ said Listolier. and fomentations of oxycrat. canam! Pardon me ladies. Long live that Tzar who was great. he rose. gorge yourself with nitrous beverages.’ Tholomyes went on:— ‘Quirites.’ resumed Tholomyes. excessive exercise. senoras. the almude of the Canaries. And. The serpent is the shop over the way. sleep not. my friends. lotions made with the subacetate of lead. drink emulsions of poppies and agnus castus.’ responded Tholomyes. Bacche.’ ‘I prefer a woman. and potions of nymphaeas. work yourself to death. and to brave love? Nothing more simple.is Latin. hold vigil.’ resumed Blachevelle. Here is the receipt: lemonade. like cask. and long live his boot. it means prosper. ‘Then be gay. Woe to him who yields himself to the unstable heart of woman! Woman is perfidious and disingenuous. refilling his glass. caballeros. ‘I agree to that. gentlemen. drag blocks. season this with a strict diet.

I say. O Favourite. You have the air of a pretty face upon which some one has sat down by mistake. O Josephine. make a mistake in your neighbor if you see fit. and Blachevelle fell in love.com 237 . error is love. It is not made for that.’ because I pass from poetry to prose. beauty begins with thee. It has been said. Listen! before thee. but let us. error is human. That touched me. There was a Greek painter named Euphorion. That Greek alone would have been worthy to paint thy mouth. and I am not happy. Ladies. or to eat it like Eve. it errs gayly. distrust names. whoever we may be. The property of love is to err. face more than irregular. You were speaking of my name a little while ago. Words are liars. O Zephine. As for Favourite. It would be a mistake to write to Liege[2] for corks. Let us not blindly accept the indications which they afford us. The one he loved was Favourite. who was surnamed the painter of the lips. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. They may delude us. Thou deservest the letters-patent of the beautiful woman. our gentle love. you would be charming were you not all askew. O Favourite. I cease to address you as ‘thou. there was never a creature worthy of the name. thou hast Ionian lips. O nymphs and muses! one day when Blachevelle was crossing the gutter in the Rue Guerin-Boisseau. it is thou who hast created her. I am called Felix. I have just referred to Eve. I idolize you all.the advice of a friend. and to Pau for gloves. This prologue pleased him. Thou wert made to receive the apple like Venus. he espied a beautiful girl with white stockings well drawn up. which displayed her legs. A love affair is not made to crouch down and brutalize itself like an English serving-maid who has callouses on her knees from scrubbing.

O Fantine. pensive person. avoid that risk. Sugar is the most desiccating of all salts. I am all illusion. A flower should smell sweet. and who. she is a dreamer. so be it. sugar is a salt. hence the coagulation. and woman should have wit. remember this. you are a woman from the beauteous Orient. with her eyes fixed on heaven. O Fantine. But bah! what am I saying? I am wasting my words. and who sings and prays and gazes into the azure without very well knowing what she sees or what she is doing. That is why diabetes borders on consumption. it sucks the liquids of the blood through the veins. Tholomyes. a second piece of advice: do not marry. wanders in a garden where there are more birds than are in existence. O woman. your pretty little white teeth adore sugar. who has strayed into the life of a grisette. Girls are incurable on the subject of marriage. that blond maid of Chimeras! as for the rest. it takes well or ill.Miss Dahlia. I say nothing of Fantine. sweet morning light. everything about her is freshness. hence tubercles in the lungs. Ladies. marriage is a graft. I would call myself Rosa. suavity. heed me well. hence death. a musing. but who takes refuge in illusions. but. youth. maid worthy of being called Marguerite or Pearl. were I in your place. and that is nibbling sugar. Well. You have but one fault. All salts are withering. but she does not even hear me. Now. 238 Les Miserables . and then the solidification of the blood. know this: I. thoughtful. and all that we wise men can say will not prevent the waistcoat-makers and the shoe-stitchers from dreaming of husbands studded with diamonds. you eat too much sugar. she is a phantom possessed of the form of a nymph and the modesty of a nun. O nibbling sex. my beauties.

No quarter. William carried off the Saxon women. Tholomyes.’ [2] Liege: a cork-tree. war to the death! a pretty woman is a casus belli. and you will live. and are dissipated and take their flight with them. which have their birth in the vapor of pipes. do not crunch sugar. Romulus carried off the Sabines.com 239 .’ said Blachevelle. the enemy has it. I throw the sublime proclamation of Bonaparte to the army of Italy: ‘Soldiers. struck up to a plaintive air. rob each other of your well-beloved without remorse. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. one of those studio songs composed of the first words which come to hand. ‘Take breath.Then. you are in need of everything. The man who is not loved soars like a vulture over the mistresses of other men. All the invasions of history have been determined by petticoats. In love there are no friends. rhymed richly and not at all. make conquest. Tholomyes paused. Pau: a jest on peau. supported by Listolier and Fameuil. Everywhere where there is a pretty woman hostility is open. Caesar carried off the Roman women. At the same moment Blachevelle. Chassez across. Woman is man’s right. I turn to the men: gentlemen. as destitute of sense as the gesture of the tree and the sound of the wind. a pretty woman is flagrant misdemeanor. to all those unfortunate men who are widowers. skin. This is the couplet by which the group replied to Tholomyes’ harangue:— “The father turkey-cocks so grave Some money to an agent gave. and for my own part.

240 Les Miserables . Embrace me.That master good Clermont-Tonnerre Might be made pope on Saint Johns’ day fair. The birds are astonishing. and of the Allee de l’Observatoire! O pensive infantry soldiers! O all those charming nurses who. Summer. Fantine!’ He made a mistake and embraced Favourite. Let us be neither prudes nor prudent men nor prudhommes. The flies buzz in the sun. The sun has sneezed out the humming bird. And then their agent. and began again:— ‘Down with wisdom! Forget all that I have said. O creation! The world is a great diamond. Let Justinian be the male. Let us complete our course of law by folly and eating! Indigestion and the digest. the female! Joy in the depths! Live. be merry. he emptied his glass. whose wrath burned. refilled it. But this good Clermont could not be Made pope. All is beautiful. filled.’ This was not calculated to calm Tholomyes’ improvisation. With all their money back returned. I propose a toast to mirth. because no priest was he. I salute thee! O Luxembourg! O Georgics of the Rue Madame. while they guard the children. My soul flits away into the virgin forests and to the savannas. I am happy. What a festival everywhere! The nightingale is a gratuitous Elleviou. and Feasting. amuse themselves! The pampas of America would please me if I had not the arcades of the Odeon.

Now. He was looking at the dome of the Invalides. which was visible from Bombarda’s windows.’ exclaimed Fameuil. ‘a quarrel is better.’ observed Tholomyes.’ exclaimed Zephine. ‘Tholomyes. silver is more valuable than bone. Blachevelle persisted:— ‘Look at the knives.’ said Favourite.’ ‘A discussion is a good thing. ‘There is more luxury.’ replied Tholomyes. there are mirrors [glaces] on the walls. It is more Asiatic.’ declared Blachevelle.com 241 .’ ‘I prefer them [glaces. ices] on my plate. The handles are of silver at Bombarda’s and of bone at Edon’s. Look at the room downstairs.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘Listolier and I were having a discussion just now. ‘I prefer Bombarda to Edon.’ ‘We were disputing about philosophy. A pause ensued.’ ‘Except for those who have a silver chin.CHAPTER VIII THE DEATH OF A HORSE ‘The dinners are better at Edon’s than at Bombarda’s.

One lies. Descartes or Spinoza?’ ‘Desaugiers. All is not at an end on earth since we can still talk nonsense. which you are drinking with so tranquil an air is Madeira wine. but one doubts. This decree pronounced. There are still human beings here below who know how to open and close the surprise box of the paradox merrily. the magnificent eating-house keeper. We lie. ladies.’ said Tholomyes. That is fine. The unexpected bursts forth from the syllogism. For that I return thanks to the immortal gods. you must know. and Thygelion of Chaeronea if he could bring me a Greek cour242 Les Miserables . One affirms. gives you those three hundred and seventeen fathoms for four francs and fifty centimes. from the vineyard of Coural das Freiras. Choux. he took a drink. your opinions fix the law.’ Again Fameuil interrupted him:— ‘Tholomyes. which is three hundred and seventeen fathoms above the level of the sea. Who is your favorite author?’ ‘Ber—‘ ‘Quin?’ ‘No.‘Well?’ ‘Which do you prefer. but one laughs. and went on:— ‘I consent to live. This. Attention while you drink! three hundred and seventeen fathoms! and Monsieur Bombarda.’ And Tholomyes continued:— ‘Honor to Bombarda! He would equal Munophis of Elephanta if he could but get me an Indian dancing-girl.

she was a soul. ladies? Although she lived at an epoch when women had. for. Socrates plus Manon Lescaut. more ardent hued than fire. This incident attracted a crowd. a soul of a rosy and purple hue. says Virgil. as yet. and one fit for the knacker. would have found some difficulty in stopping. the wornout. Do you know what Aspasia was.com 243 . had not a horse fallen down upon the quay just at that moment. Tholomyes’ merry auditors turned their heads. It was a Beauceron mare. exhausted beast had refused to proceed any further. On arriving in front of Bombarda’s. The shock caused the cart and the orator to come to a dead halt. as Aspasia embarked with Pericles upon the fleet at Samos. old and thin. never to rise again. Hardly had the cursing and indignant carter had time to utter with proper energy the sacramental word.’ Tholomyes. nothing more unpublished by the creator in creation! Nil sub sole novum. oh. backed up with a pitiless cut of the whip. when the jade fell. amor omnibus idem.tesan. One last word. and Tholomyes took advantage of the opportunity to bring his allocution to a close with this melancholy strophe:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Aspasia was a creature in whom two extremes of womanhood met. she was the goddess prostitute. once started. says Solomon. Alas! always the same. no soul. and Carabine mounts with Carabin into the bark at Saint-Cloud. Aspasia was created in case a mistress should be needed for Prometheus. Matin (the jade). fresher than the dawn. and nothing new. On hearing the hubbub made by the passersby. Apuleius tells us of them. which was dragging a very heavy cart. ladies! there were Bombardas in Greece and in Egypt.

for the space of a morning (or jade). The moment has arrived. ‘It is beginning to be amusing already. ‘Poor horse!’ sighed Fantine. the hour for giving these ladies a surprise has struck.’ 244 Les Miserables .  L’espace d’un matin!’ [3] She belonged to that circle where cuckoos and carriages share the same fate. Et.’ said she. she lived. Wait for us a moment.’ ‘It begins with a kiss. ‘Don’t be too long.’ murmured Fantine. rosse. Each gravely bestowed a kiss on his mistress’s brow.’ said Blachevelle. now! the surprise?’ ‘Exactly. Favourite clapped her hands on their departure. folding her arms and throwing her head back. as jades live.’ replied Tholomyes. and a jade herself. elle a vecu ce que vivant les rosses. ‘On the brow. then all four filed out through the door. ‘we are waiting for you. ladies.’ added Tholomyes. with their fingers on their lips. looked resolutely at Tholomyes and said:— ‘Come. How can one be such a pitiful fool as that!’ At that moment Favourite. ‘Gentlemen. And Dahlia exclaimed:— ‘There is Fantine on the point of crying over horses.“Elle etait de ce monde ou coucous et carrosses[3]  Ont le meme destin.

painted yelFree eBooks at Planet eBook.CHAPTER IX A MERRY END TO MIRTH When the young girls were left alone.’ Their attention was soon distracted by the movements on the shore of the lake. Nearly all the stage-coaches for the south and west passed through the Champs-Elysees. From moment to moment. smiled. ‘Don’t be long!’ cried Fantine. ‘I want it to be of gold. they leaned two by two on the window-sills. chatting. made signs to them. some huge vehicle. which they could see through the branches of the large trees. craning out their heads. The majority followed the quay and went through the Passy Barrier. and which diverted them greatly. ‘For my part. It was the hour for the departure of the mail-coaches and diligences. They saw the young men emerge from the Cafe Bombarda arm in arm. The latter turned round. ‘It will certainly be something pretty.’ said Favourite. and disappeared in that dusty Sunday throng which makes a weekly invasion into the Champs-Elysees. ‘What are they going to bring us?’ said Zephine.com 245 .’ said Dahlia. and talking from one window to the other.

‘This Fantine is surprising. rendered shapeless by trunks. I am coming to take a look at her out of curiosity. ‘I thought the diligence never stopped. with dust for smoke. tarpaulins. by the way. you shall pick me up on the quay as you pass. That is done every day. noisily harnessed. You do not know life. rushed through the crowd with all the sparks of a forge.’ It chanced that one of these vehicles. This surprised Fantine.’ joined in Dahlia. grinding the pavements. heavily loaded. halted for a moment. and takes me. ‘That’s odd!’ said she. like a person who is just waking up. the waiter who had 246 Les Miserables . and valises.low and black. ‘Well.’ Favourite shrugged her shoulders.’ said she. changing all the paving-stones into steels. then set out again at a gallop. Suppose a case: I am a traveller. I say to the diligence. halts. ‘I will go on in advance. ‘and the surprise?’ ‘Yes. This uproar delighted the young girls. which they could only see with difficulty through the thick elms. sees me.’ The diligence passes.’ In this manner a certain time elapsed. my dear. and an air of fury. All at once Favourite made a movement. Favourite exclaimed:— ‘What a row! One would say that it was a pile of chains flying away. As Fantine concluded this sigh. full of heads which immediately disappeared. She is dazzled by the simplest things. ‘the famous surprise?’ ‘They are a very long time about it!’ said Fantine.

and offer to kill calves for us. five fiery horses will be bearing us to our papas and mammas. The waiter replied:— ‘It is a paper that those gentlemen left for these ladies.’ ‘Why did you not bring it at once?’ ‘Because. We are pulling up our stakes. The Toulouse diligence tears us from the abyss.com 247 . we obey them. opened it. ‘the gentlemen ordered me not to deliver it to the ladies for an hour. they desire our return. ‘What is that?’ demanded Favourite. We are going. to respectaFree eBooks at Planet eBook. At the hour when you read this. He held in his hand something which resembled a letter. which is puerile and honest. O our little beauties! We return to society. these old folks implore us. and read [she knew how to read]:— ‘OUR BELOVED:— ‘You must know that we have parents. these good men and these good women call us prodigal sons. Now. a letter.’ She tore the letter open hastily.served them at dinner entered. Being virtuous. ‘there is no address. but this is what is written on it—‘ ‘THIS IS THE SURPRISE. They are called fathers and mothers by the civil code.’ said the waiter. It was.’ Favourite snatched the paper from the waiter’s hand. as Bossuet says. We flee in the arms of Lafitte and on the wings of Caillard. we are gone. ‘Stop!’ said she. and the abyss is you. to duty. Parents—you do not know much about such things. these parents groan. in fact.

We are sacrificing ourselves.’ resumed Favourite. ‘For the space of nearly two years we have made you happy.’ said Dahlia. Adieu. indeed. This is an adventure.’ retorted Favourite. We bear you no grudge for that.’ The four young women looked at each other. The dinner is paid for. That is evident. ‘In that case. fathers of families. ‘Postscriptum. It is necessary for the good of the country that we should be.’ ‘No. all the same. ‘it was one of Tholomyes’ ideas. If this letter lacerates you. like the rest of the world. ‘It makes me in love with him. ‘That must have been Blachevelle’s idea. rural police. and councillors of state. Mourn for us in haste. and replace us with speed. FELIX THOLOMYES. ‘death to Blachevelle. Venerate us. at the rate of three leagues an hour.’ ‘It is very droll.’ said Zephine.bility. prefects. And they burst out laughing. ‘it’s a very pretty farce. L I S T O L I E R . F A M U E I L . at full trot. do the same by it. Favourite was the first to break the silence. No sooner is he gone than he is loved. ‘ S i g n e d : B L A C H E V E L L E . 248 Les Miserables . ‘Well!’ she exclaimed. and long live Tholomyes!’ ‘Long live Tholomyes!’ exclaimed Dahlia and Zephine.

she had given herself to this Tholomyes as to a husband. as we have said.Fantine laughed with the rest. and the poor girl had a child. It was her first love affair. when she had returned to her room. An hour later.com 249 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook. she wept.


com 251 . during the first quarter of this century. at Montfermeil. the attention of any painter Free eBooks at Planet eBook. or. one evening in the spring of 1818. Below ran this inscription: AT THE SIGN OF SERGEANT OF WATERLOO (Au Sargent de Waterloo). which encumbered the street in front of the cook-shop of the Sergeant of Waterloo. husband and wife. Over the door there was a board nailed flat against the wall. red spots represented blood. Nothing is more common than a cart or a truck at the door of a hostelry. the rest of the picture consisted of smoke.CHAPTER I ONE MOTHER MEETS ANOTHER MOTHER There was. the latter wearing the big gilt epaulettes of a general. Nevertheless. near Paris. the fragment of a vehicle. the vehicle. to speak more accurately. with large silver stars. This cook-shop was kept by some people named Thenardier. by its mass. It was situated in Boulanger Lane. and probably represented a battle. Upon this board was painted something which resembled a man carrying another man on his back. a sort of cook-shop which no longer exists. would certainly have attracted.

like drapery. it had the air of the galleys. The whole thing was compact. a huge chain. and Shakespeare. and misshapen. and the shaft. next. The wood was disappearing under mud. It was the fore-carriage of one of those trucks which are used in wooded tracts of country.who had passed that way. tolerably like that with which people are fond of ornamenting cathedrals. Under the axle-tree hung. which it was its office to transport. Homer would have bound Polyphemus with it. and which have no other reasons for existence than the above. a hideous yellowish daubing hue. Why was that fore-carriage of a truck in that place in the street? In the first place. the fellies. Caliban. not the beams. There is a throng of institutions in the old social order. a layer of mud. This chain suggested. but of cyclopean and superhuman galleys. worthy of some Goliath of a convict. The centre of the chain swung very near the ground in 252 Les Miserables . in order that it might finish the process of rusting. The ruts of the road had bestowed on the wheels. the axle. overwhelming. the hub. It seemed like the gun-carriage of an enormous cannon. and it seemed to have been detached from some monster. into which was fitted a heavy shaft. This fore-carriage was composed of a massive iron axle-tree with a pivot. and the iron beneath rust. and which serve to transport thick planks and the trunks of trees. and which was supported by two huge wheels. but the mastodons and mammoths which it might have served to harness. to encumber the street. which one comes across in this fashion as one walks about outdoors.

which resembled a cry of rage.’ The two children. their eyes were a triumph. on that particular evening. the gigantic forecarriage. the other. and had said. a blossoming shrub which grew near wafted to the passers-by perfumes which seemed to emanate from them. by the way. all entangled in curves and wild angles. A handkerchief. Their innocent faces were two delighted surprises. the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. rose in a vault. the younger in the arms of the other. A few paces apart. ‘Come! there’s a plaything for my children. one about two years and a half old. and in the loop. there were seated and grouped. A mother had caught sight of that frightful chain.the middle. crouching down upon the threshold of the hostelry. Above and around these two delicate heads. like the entrance of a cavern. one would have said that they were two roses amid old iron.com 253 . all made of happiness and steeped in light. as in the rope of a swing. were radiant with pleasure. One had chestnut hair. the other. their fresh cheeks were full of laughter. cleverly knotted about them. watching them carefully. for fear of accidents. the mother. with that animal and celestial expression which is peculiar to maternity. not a very prepossessing woman. though touching at that moment. black with rust. At every backward and forward swing the hideous links emitted a strident sound. in exquisite interlacement. brown. two little girls. the child of eighteen months displayed her pretty little bare stomach with the chaste indecency of childhood. who were dressed prettily and with some elegance. eighteen months. almost terrible. was swinging the two children by means of a long cord. prevented their falling out.

said a warrior. In the meantime. She was carrying. a large carpet-bag. so far as the coquetry of her dress was 254 Les Miserables . A woman stood before her. which seemed very heavy. and nothing could be more charming than this caprice of chance which had made of a chain of Titans the swing of cherubim. some one had approached her. and the contemplation of her daughters. in addition. which she carried in her arms. two or three years of age. It was a girl. prevented her hearing and seeing what was going on in the street. as she was beginning the first couplet of the romance. then she turned her head. This woman’s child was one of the most divine creatures that it is possible to behold.little girls were in ecstasies.’ “To the fair and tender Imogene—‘ replied the mother. the mother hummed in a discordant voice a romance then celebrated:— “It must be. This woman also had a child. a few paces distant. continuing her romance. As she rocked her little ones. and suddenly she heard a voice saying very near her ear:— ‘You have two beautiful children there. She could have entered into competition with the two other little ones. the setting sun mingled in this joy. Madame.’ Her song.

was folded into a fichu. she wore a cloak of coarse brown woollen stuff. The little beauty inspired a desire to take a bite from the apples of her cheeks. in them children sleep profoundly. except that they must be very large. She was dressed like a working-woman who is inclined to turn into a peasant again.com 255 . firm. She was pale. nun-like cap. she wore a cap of fine linen. She was young. Her eyes did not seem to have been dry for a very long time. such as the Invalides use. but was severely concealed beneath an ugly. close. Was she handsome? Perhaps. The folds of her skirt were raised so as to permit a view of her white. tight. Of her eyes nothing could be known. and concealed her figure clumsily. She slept with that slumber of absolute confidence peculiar to her age. a golden lock of which had escaped. The arms of mothers are made of tenderness. she had a very weary and rather sickly appearance. It was Fantine. tied under the chin. Her hair. As for the mother.concerned. but in that attire it was not apparent. seemed very thick. She was admirably rosy and healthy. and dimpled leg. She was asleep. A smile displays beautiful teeth when one has them. A large blue handkerchief. and Valenciennes lace on her cap. a linen gown. and that they had magnificent lashes. Her hands were sunburnt and all dotted with freckles. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She gazed upon her daughter asleep in her arms with the air peculiar to a mother who has nursed her own child. and coarse shoes. but she did not smile. ribbons on her bodice. her appearance was sad and poverty-stricken. her forefinger was hardened and lacerated with the needle.

’ What had taken place during those ten months? It can be divined. Fantine barely knew how to read. full of bells. in her childhood she had only been taught to sign her name. minus the habit of work and plus the taste for pleasure. then a third. it melts and leaves the branch quite black. Nevertheless. it was now closed to her. Fantine had immediately lost sight of Favourite. the bond once broken on the side of the men. but difficult to recognize. Tholomyes replied to none of them. of folly. and of music. they would have been greatly astonished had any one told them a fortnight later. and did not know how to write. After abandonment. Fantine had remained alone. which seemed made of mirth. there no longer existed any reason for such a thing. As for her toilette. A melancholy fold. The father of her child gone. then a second. wrinkled her right cheek. and perfumed with lilacs had vanished like that beautiful and dazzling hoar-frost which is mistaken for diamonds in the sunlight. straightened circumstances. it was evident that she still retained her beauty.It was Fantine. she had a public letter-writer indite an epistle to Tholomyes. that they had been friends. it was loosed between the women. on scrutinizing her attentively. Zephine and Dahlia. She had no resource. that aerial toilette of muslin and ribbons.— she found herself absolutely isolated. Ten months had elapsed since the ‘pretty farce. which resembled the beginning of irony. Fantine 256 Les Miserables .—alas! such ruptures are irrevocable. Drawn away by her liaison with Tholomyes to disdain the pretty trade which she knew. she had neglected to keep her market open.

She had committed a fault. There. occurred to her. She sold all that she had. and a holy one it was. and had put all her silks. on a beautiful spring morning. which produced for her two hundred francs. was modesty and virtue. Courage was necessary. bearing her child on her back. and of gliding into a worse state.heard the gossips say. This woman had. no one but this woman. all her ribbons. In a confused way she perceived the necessity of a separation which would be more painful than the first one. nothing but her child. in all the world. had the fierce bravery of life. the only vanity which was left to her. sur M. and all her laces on her daughter. as they looked at her child: ‘Who takes those children seriously! One only shrugs one’s shoulders over such children!’ Then she thought of Tholomyes. yes. she possessed it. But what was she to do? She no longer knew to whom to apply. as will be remembered. her little debts paid. she had only about eighty francs left. all her ornaments. At the age of twenty-two. Fantine. who had shrugged his shoulders over his child. She was vaguely conscious that she was on the verge of falling into distress. Any one who had seen these two pass would have had pity on them. and her heart grew gloomy toward that man. but she took her resolution. as we shall see. The idea of returning to her native town of M. She had already valiantly renounced finery. but it would be necessary to conceal her fault. and held herself firm.com 257 . she quitted Paris. Fantine Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and the child had. but the foundation of her nature. some one might possibly know her and give her work. Her heart contracted. had dressed herself in linen. and who did not take that innocent being seriously. in all the world.

in such emotion that at the moment when their mother was recovering her breath between two couplets of her song. after having. wealthy and influential. Charms exist. These two little girls were a charm to this mother. the two little girls. and this had tired her chest. from time to time. for three or four sous a league. and bade the 258 Les Miserables . the ‘little suburban coach service. that. Madame. As she passed the Thenardier hostelry. she could not refrain from addressing to her the remark which we have just read:— ‘You have two pretty children. Felix Tholomyes. Let us confine ourselves to saying. and she had halted in front of that vision of joy. he was a great provincial lawyer. she admired them. The presence of angels is an announcement of Paradise. she beheld the mysterious HERE of Providence. twenty years later. above this inn. We shall have no further occasion to speak of M. and a very severe juryman.’ The most ferocious creatures are disarmed by caresses bestowed on their young. Towards the middle of the day. These two little creatures were evidently happy.’ Fantine found herself at Montfermeil. travelled. had dazzled her in a manner. a wise elector. She gazed at them in much emotion. and she coughed a little. in the alley Boulanger.had nursed her child. The mother raised her head and thanked her. blissful in the monster swing. She gazed at them. under King Louis Philippe. in what was then known as the Petites Voitures des Environs de Paris. She thought that. he was still a man of pleasure. for the sake of resting herself.

she was barely thirty. and felt fatigued. in her own native parts. she herself being seated on the threshold. thin and angular— the type of the soldier’s wife in all its unpleasantness. but masculine creature.wayfarer sit down on the bench at the door. as she was carrying her child. that her work in Paris had failed her.’ This Madame Thenardier was a sandy-complexioned woman. that. she resumed humming between her teeth:— “It must be so. She was still young. She was a simpering. and that she was on her way to seek it elsewhere. That she was a working-woman. If this crouching woman had stood upright. troubled her confidence. might have frightened the traveller at the outset. with a languishing air.’ Then. A person who is seated instead of standing erect— destinies hang upon such a thing as that. her mind still running on her romance. ‘We keep this inn. her lofty stature and her frame of a perambulating colossus suitable for fairs. Old romances produce that effect when rubbed against the imagination of cookshop woman. that her husband was dead. she had got into the Villemomble Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ said the mother of the two little girls. with slight modifications. that she had left Paris that morning on foot. which she owed to her perusal of romances. I am a knight.com 259 . ‘My name is Madame Thenardier. The two women began to chat. The traveller told her story. and disturbed what caused what we have to relate to vanish. And I am off to Palestine. and what was odd.

she slipped to the ground with the unconquerable energy of a little being which wished to run. which was an immense pleasure. and put out her tongue. and energetically dug a cavity big enough for a fly. with that serious and sometimes severe air of little children. 260 Les Miserables . At this word she bestowed on her daughter a passionate kiss. that the little one had walked a little. in sign of admiration. The two women pursued their chat. that from Villemomble she had come to Montfermeil on foot. The child opened her eyes. all three of you. great blue eyes like her mother’s. because she was so young. stopped short. and although the mother held fast to her. but not much. the goodness of the mother is written in the gayety of the child. which is a mystery of their luminous innocence in the presence of our twilight of virtue. which woke her.’ Children become acquainted quickly at that age. made them descend from the swing. One would say that they feel themselves to be angels. and at the expiration of a minute the little Thenardiers were playing with the new-comer at making holes in the ground. and the jewel had fallen asleep.coach when she met it. and said:— ‘Now amuse yourselves. she had seized a scrap of wood which served her for a shovel. and looked at—what? Nothing. and that they know us to be men. The grave-digger’s business becomes a subject for laughter when performed by a child. All at once she caught sight of the two others in the swing. The new-comer was very gay. Then the child began to laugh. Mother Thenardier released her daughters. and that she had been obliged to take her up.

read Euphrasie. and they were in ecstasies over it.’ In the meantime. It is a sort of derivative which disarranges and disconcerts the whole science of etymologists. We have known a grandmother who succeeded in turning Theodore into Gnon.’ ‘That is the age of my eldest.‘What is your little one’s name?’ ‘Cosette. Their radiant brows touched each other. ‘one would swear that they were three sisters!’ This remark was probably the spark which the other mother had been waiting for.com 261 . ‘How easily children get acquainted at once!’ exclaimed Mother Thenardier. looked at her fixedly. She seized the Thenardier’s hand. the three little girls were grouped in an attitude of profound anxiety and blissfulness. Cosette’s mother continued:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and Francoise into Sillette. an event had happened. But out of Euphrasie the mother had made Cosette by that sweet and graceful instinct of mothers and of the populace which changes Josepha into Pepita. one would have said that there were three heads in one aureole. ‘How old is she?’ ‘She is going on three. The child’s name was Euphrasie. and they were afraid.’ For Cosette. and said:— ‘Will you keep my child for me?’ The Thenardier made one of those movements of surprise which signify neither assent nor refusal. a big worm had emerged from the ground.

’ added the man’s voice. I shall have enough left to reach the country. ‘I will give you six francs a month. ‘I will give it. That is just the thing. I shall earn money there. I said: ‘Here is a good mother.’ The man’s voice resumed:— ‘The little one has an outfit?’ 262 Les Miserables . said a warrior. And she hummed vaguely. and as soon as I have a little I will return for my darling.’ replied the Thenardier. It was the good God who caused me to pass your inn.’ said the Thenardier.’ And then.’ said the mother. And six months paid in advance. fifty-seven francs.’ ‘Six times seven makes forty-two. ‘I have eighty francs. by travelling on foot. When I caught sight of your little ones. so clean. I cannot take my daughter to the country.’ Here a man’s voice called from the depths of the cook-shop:— ‘Not for less than seven francs.’ said Madame Thenardier. it overwhelmed me. so pretty.‘You see. it will not be long before I return. Will you keep my child for me?’ ‘I must see about it. with these figures:— “It must be.’ said the mother. and so happy. With a child one can find no situation.’ ‘I will pay it. ‘And fifteen francs in addition for preliminary expenses. My work will not permit it. ‘Total. that will make three sisters. People are ridiculous in the country.

’ said the woman.’ When Cosette’s mother had taken her departure.com 263 . The mother passed the night at the inn. ‘Of course I shall give it to you. but they are despairs! A neighbor of the Thenardiers met this mother as she was setting out. ‘That’s good. everything by the dozen. ‘Of course she has an outfit.‘That is my husband. I lacked fifty francs. and light henceforth and set out on the following morning. and came back with the remark:— ‘I have just seen a woman crying in the street so that it was enough to rend your heart. Do you know that I should have had a bailiff and a protest after me? You played the mouse-trap nicely with your young ones.’ ‘You must hand it over.—I understood perfectly that it was your husband. It is here.’ struck in the man’s voice again. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the poor treasure.’ said the Thenardier. intending to return soon. the man said to the woman:— ‘That will serve to pay my note for one hundred and ten francs which falls due to-morrow.—And a beautiful outfit.’ ‘Without suspecting it. in my carpet-bag. and silk gowns like a lady. fastened her carpet-bag once more. The bargain was concluded. ‘It would be very queer if I were to leave my daughter quite naked!’ The master’s face appeared.’ said he. gave up her money and left her child. now reduced in volume by the removal of the outfit. too! a senseless outfit. People arrange such departures tranquilly.’ said the mother.

but the cat rejoices even over a lean mouse. There was in the woman a substratum of the brute. which is between the class called ‘middle’ and the class denominated as ‘inferior. and of intelligent people who have descended in the scale. easily become monstrous. Who were these Thenardiers? Let us say a word or two of them now. They were of those dwarfed natures which.CHAPTER II FIRST SKETCH OF TWO UNPREPOSSESSING FIGURES The mouse which had been caught was a pitiful specimen. without possessing the generous impulse of the workingman nor the honest order of the bourgeois.’ and which combines some of the defects of the second with nearly all the vices of the first. These beings belonged to that bastard class composed of coarse people who have been successful. if a dull fire chances to warm them up. and in the man 264 Les Miserables . We will complete the sketch later on.

com 265 . for he knew how to do a little of everything. retrograding in life rather than advancing. This Thenardier. had been a soldier— a sergeant. Both were susceptible. This man and woman possessed such souls. was troublesome for a physiognomist. if he himself was to be believed. and had even conducted himself with tolerable valor. employing experience to augment their deformity. We shall see later on how much truth there was in this. They are uneasy in the rear and threatening in front. He had painted it himself. and becoming more and more impregnated with an ever-augmenting blackness. one obtains a glimpse of sombre secrets in their past and of sombre mysteries in their future. growing incessantly worse.the material for a blackguard. in particular. The shadow which they bear in their glance denounces them. it would seem. was no longer anything Free eBooks at Planet eBook. There exist crab-like souls which are continually retreating towards the darkness. after having been Clelie. He had probably been through the campaign of 1815. of the sort of hideous progress which is accomplished in the direction of evil. The sign of his hostelry was in allusion to one of his feats of arms. One can only look at some men to distrust them. There is something of the unknown about them. It was at the epoch when the ancient classical romance which. Thenardier. One can no more answer for what they have done than for what they will do. and badly. for one feels that they are dark in both directions. he said. From merely hearing them utter a word or seeing them make a gesture. in the highest degree.

who had dabbled in stupid romances. However. Later on. I know not to what diversion. and from Madame de Lafayette to Madame Barthelemy-Hadot. and ‘in what concerns the sex. was setting the loving hearts of the portresses of Paris aflame. unmitigated lout. began to grow gray. a ruffian lettered to the extent of the grammar. and which may be designated as the anarchy of baptismal names. when very young. the poor little thing came near being called Gulnare. Now. coarse and fine at one and the same time. but. In them she drowned what brains she possessed. and even a little later. having fallen from Mademoiselle de Scuderi to Madame Bournon-Malarme. but ever more and more vulgar. effected by a romance of Ducray-Dumenil. vicious woman. This had given her. a scamp of a certain depth. By the side of this romantic element 266 Les Miserables . Madame Thenardier was just intelligent enough to read this sort of books. arranged in a romantically drooping fashion. we will remark by the way. she owed the fact that she merely bore the name of Azelma. a sort of pensive attitude towards her husband. when her hair. The result was that her eldest daughter was named Eponine. everything was not ridiculous and superficial in that curious epoch to which we are alluding. and even ravaging the suburbs to some extent. still noble. the female Thenardier was nothing but a coarse. when the Magaera began to be developed from the Pamela. one cannot read nonsense with impunity. so far as sentimentalism was concerned.’ as he said in his jargon—a downright. She lived on them.but Lodoiska. given to the perusal of Pigault-Lebrun. His wife was twelve or fifteen years younger than he was. as for the younger.

The irresistible penetration of the new inspiration is there as everywhere else. It is not rare for the neatherd’s boy nowadays to bear the name of Arthur.com 267 .which we have just indicated there is the social symptom. which places the ‘elegant’ name on the plebeian and the rustic name on the aristocrat. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and for the vicomte— if there are still any vicomtes—to be called Thomas. Pierre. or Alphonse. Beneath this apparent discord there is a great and a profound thing.— the French Revolution. is nothing else than an eddy of equality. Alfred. or Jacques. This displacement.

caused to be written. a little worse than the cat. they dressed her in the cast-off petticoats and chemises of the Thenardier brats. at M. from a wooden bowl similar to theirs. As she had no longer any clothes. and they treated her accordingly. The cook-shop was in a bad way. as we shall see later on. and pawned it at the pawnbroker’s for sixty francs.CHAPTER III THE LARK It is not all in all sufficient to be wicked in order to prosper. The mother. who had established herself. the cat and the dog were her habitual table-companions. As soon as that sum was spent. in rags. Thenardier had been able to avoid a protest and to honor his signature. The Thenardiers replied invariably. or. Moreover. On the following month they were again in need of money. that is to say. a letter every month. more correctly. They fed her on what all the rest had left—a little better than the dog. that she might have news of her child. ‘Cosette is do268 Les Miserables . wrote. Cosette ate with them under the table. the Thenardiers grew accustomed to look on the little girl merely as a child whom they were caring for out of charity. Thanks to the traveller’s fifty-seven francs. The woman took Cosette’s outfit to Paris.. sur M.

ill-used.ing wonderfully well. The mother. It is sad to think that the love of a mother can possess villainous aspects. Her daughters received nothing but caresses. it is certain that her daughters. ‘and was coming on well. who should not have understood anything of this world or of God. Little as was the space occupied by Cosette. would have received the whole of it. If she had not had Cosette.com 269 . scolded. who lived Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Mother Thenardier loved her two daughters passionately. in sooth! What does she expect us to do with her seven francs?’ and he wrote to demand twelve francs. like many women of her sort.’ submitted. This woman. had a load of caresses and a burden of blows and injuries to dispense each day. idolized as they were. and seeing beside her two little creatures like herself. feeble being. and continued her remittances with tolerable regularity from month to month. Cosette could not make a motion which did not draw down upon her head a heavy shower of violent blows and unmerited chastisement. and forwarded the twelve francs. but the stranger did them the service to divert the blows to herself. and that that little child diminished the air which her daughters breathed. incessantly punished. which caused her to hate the stranger. Certain natures cannot love on the one hand without hating on the other. The year was not completed when Thenardier said: ‘A fine favor she is doing us. it seemed to her as though it were taken from her own. whom they had persuaded into the belief that her child was happy. The sweet.’ At the expiration of the first six months the mother sent seven francs for the seventh month. beaten.

‘worked for 270 Les Miserables . as soon as she began to develop a little. that is not probable. People in the village said:— ‘Those Thenardiers are good people. an orphan turned bandit. As long as Cosette was little. The size is smaller. that is all. who.’ he exclaimed. and so did her wretchedness. she was the scape-goat of the two other children. that the child was probably a bastard. saying that ‘the creature’ was growing and ‘eating. ‘or I’ll fire her brat right into the middle of her secrets. and that the mother could not acknowledge it. before she was even five years old. and yet they are bringing up a poor child who was abandoned on their hands!’ They thought that Cosette’s mother had forgotten her.in a ray of dawn! Madame Thenardier was vicious with Cosette. I must have an increase. being alone in the world. Alas! it is true. ‘Let her not bother me. then another. Thenardier. From year to year the child grew. Social suffering begins at all ages. In the meanwhile. as the official documents state. that is to say. Have we not recently seen the trial of a man named Dumollard. it is impossible to say by what obscure means. having learned. They are not rich. Children at that age are only copies of their mother. she became the servant of the household. from the age of five. exacted fifteen francs a month.’ The mother paid the fifteen francs.’ and threatening to send her away. Eponine and Azelma were vicious. Five years old! the reader will say. A year passed.

because. The populace. sur M. and shivering little creature. to sweep the rooms. no bigger than a bird. since the mother. sweeping the street before daylight. It was a heart-breaking thing to see this poor child.his living and stole’? Cosette was made to run on errands. and a tear in her great eyes. full of holes. she would not have recognized her child. who was still at M. which inspired pain. who was awake every morning before any one else in the house or the village. The Thenardiers considered themselves all the more authorized to behave in this manner. Some months she was in arrears. shivering in the winter in her old rags of linen. Nothing remained to her except her beautiful eyes.com 271 . not yet six years old. large as they were. Only the little lark never sang. Cosette. She had an indescribably uneasy look. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She was called the Lark in the neighborhood. ‘The sly creature. the courtyard. so pretty and rosy on her arrival in that house. Injustice had made her peevish. was now thin and pale. frightened. and was always in the street or the fields before daybreak.’ said the Thenardiers. had become irregular in her payments. with an enormous broom in her tiny red hands. If this mother had returned to Montfermeil at the end of these three years. it seemed as though one beheld in them a still larger amount of sadness. who are fond of these figures of speech. to even carry burdens. to wash the dishes. had taken a fancy to bestow this name on this trembling. and misery had made her ugly. the street..

BOOK FIFTH. 272 Les Miserables .— THE DESCENT.

she had continued her journey. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. we should almost say. While Fantine had been slowly descending from wretchedness to wretchedness.com 273 . Fantine had quitted her province ten years before. seemed to have abandoned her child? Where was she? What was she doing? After leaving her little Cosette with the Thenardiers. and we regard it as useful to develop it at length. her native town had prospered. it will be remembered. M. This. was in 1818. had changed its aspect.CHAPTER I THE HISTORY OF A PROGRESS IN BLACK GLASS TRINKETS And in the meantime. sur M. sur M. This detail is important. to underline it. and had reached M. what had become of that mother who according to the people at Montfermeil. About two years previously one of those industrial facts which are the grand events of small districts had taken place.

for bracelets in particular. It was rumored that he had come to town with very little money. sur M. M. had established himself in the town. which reacted on the manufacture. gum-lac for resin. In less than three years the inventor of this process had become rich.From time immemorial. in the second place. Thus three results ensued from one idea. He was a stranger in the Department. an advantage to the consumer. a benefit to the country. in fact.. to improve the workmanship. enlisted in the service of 274 Les Miserables . to sell at a lower price.’ Towards the close of 1815 a man. It was from this slender capital. while trebling the profit. which had rendered it possible in the first place. a few hundred francs at the most. At the moment when Fantine returned to M. This very small change had effected a revolution. sur M. and. This very small change had. and had been inspired with the idea of substituting. an unheard-of transformation had taken place in the production of ‘black goods. in this manufacture. which is good. which is better. in the third place. had had for its special industry the imitation of English jet and the black glass trinkets of Germany. a stranger. for slides of soldered sheet-iron. prodigiously reduced the cost of the raw material. Of his origin. of the beginning of his career. which was a benefit to the manufacturer. This industry had always vegetated. nothing was known. very little. and had made every one about him rich. slides of sheet-iron simply laid together. to raise the price of manufacture. on account of the high price of the raw material.

the appearance. that he had drawn his own fortune.com 275 . on a December evening. sur M. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a large fire had broken out in the town-hall. at the risk of his own life. developed by method and thought. Afterwards they had learned his name. sur M. This man had rushed into the flames and saved. knapsack on back and thorn club in hand. he had only the garments. just at nightfall. He was called Father Madeleine.an ingenious idea. On his arrival at M. two children who belonged to the captain of the gendarmerie. and the language of a workingman. It appears that on the very day when he made his obscure entry into the little town of M.. this is why they had forgotten to ask him for his passport. and the fortune of the whole countryside.

He was all the more firmly set on this severity. It was the only thing in which he was in a manner intolerant. sur M. M. of the women pure morals. probity. and so that the women and girls might remain discreet. Father Madeleine’s profits were such. had become a rather important centre of trade. and who was good. which consumes a good deal of black jet. and the other for women. sur M. one for the men. almost rivalled London and Berlin in this branch of commerce. M. and of all. since M.. being 276 Les Miserables . Thanks to the rapid progress of the industry which he had so admirably re-constructed. who had a preoccupied air. That was all that could be said about him.CHAPTER II MADELEINE He was a man about fifty years of age. Spain. He had separated the work-rooms in order to separate the sexes. sur M. Father Madeleine required of the men good will. Any one who was hungry could present himself there. that at the end of the second year he was able to erect a large factory. in which there were two vast workrooms. On this point he was inflexible. and was sure of finding employment and bread. made enormous purchases there each year.

In 1820 he was known to have a sum of six hundred and thirty thousand francs lodged in his name with Laffitte. M. now everything lived with a healthy life of toil. everything had languished in the country. no dwelling so lowly that there was not some little joy within it. one for girls. and one day he said to some one who expressed surprise. opportunities for corruption abounded. it did not seem as though that were his chief care. Slack seasons and wretchedness were unknown. Be an honest woman. The lower town. The hospital was badly endowed. a salary twice as large as their meagre official salary. the other for boys. He appeared to be thinking much of others. and his presence was a godsend. ‘The two prime funcFree eBooks at Planet eBook. sur M.com 277 . Father Madeleine made his fortune. his coming had been a boon. There was no pocket so obscure that it had not a little money in it. he founded six beds there. As we have said. in the midst of this activity of which he was the cause and the pivot.a garrison town. However. he had spent more than a million for the town and its poor. but before reserving these six hundred and thirty thousand francs. in which he lived. is divided into the upper and the lower town. but a singular thing in a simple man of business. Father Madeleine gave employment to every one. had but one school. a miserable hovel. He exacted but one thing: Be an honest man. A strong circulation warmed everything and penetrated everywhere. He allotted a salary from his own funds to the two instructors. and little of himself. which was falling to ruin: he constructed two. Before Father Madeleine’s arrival.

tionaries of the state are the nurse and the schoolmaster. whose creature and friend he had been. Ambition was at that time. a new quarter. The poor profited by this terror as well as the good God. when they watched his beginnings. and went to high mass and to vespers. a thing then almost unknown in France. and a fund for aiding old and infirm workmen. He went regularly to low mass every Sunday. soon began to grow uneasy over this religion. The local deputy.’ This seemed all the more probable since the man was religious. the good souls said. for the honorable deputy also founded two beds in the hospital. As his factory was a centre. At first. a race to the steeple. rose rapidly around him. who nosed out all rivalry everywhere. which made twelve. he perceived in him a possible candidate. Duc d’Otrante. This deputy had been a member of the legislative body of the Empire.’ When they saw him enriching the country before he enriched himself. in which there were a good many indigent families. he took a Jesuit confessor. the good souls said. But when he beheld the wealthy manufacturer Madeleine going to low mass at seven o’clock. ‘He’s a jolly fellow who means to get rich. in the direct acceptation of the word. He indulged in gentle raillery at God with closed doors. and even practised his religion to a certain degree. and resolved to outdo him. and shared the religious ideas of a father of the Oratoire. a thing which was very favorably viewed at that epoch. ‘He is an ambitious man. Nevertheless. in 1819 a rumor one morning circulated 278 Les Miserables . known under the name of Fouche. he established there a free dispensary.’ He created at his own expense an infant school.

A fresh excitement in the little town. The good souls got out of their predicament by saying. the King appointed the inventor a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. In this same year of 1819 the products of the new process invented by Madeleine figured in the industrial exhibition. his workmen and the children continued to call him Father Madeleine. adored him. was in an uproar. and he endured this adoration with a sort of melancholy gravity. Monsieur Madeleine. sur M.through the town to the effect that.com 279 . ‘After all. sur M. Well. His workmen. Decidedly this man was an enigma. Father Madeleine was to be appointed by the King. in town. Those who had pronounced this new-comer to be ‘an ambitious fellow. when the jury made their report. On the following day Father Madeleine refused. mayor of M. he is some sort of an adventurer. ‘There! what did we say!’ All M. in particular. so it was the cross that he wanted! Father Madeleine refused the cross. he was so useful and he was so gentle that people had been obliged to honor and respect him. to exclaim. In proportion Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the poor owed him everything. The rumor was well founded. he was called.’ We have seen that the country owed much to him. ‘people in society’ bowed to him. Several days later the appointment appeared in the Moniteur. and that was what was most adapted to make him smile. on the representations of the prefect and in consideration of the services rendered by him to the country. and he received invitations in the town. When he was known to be rich.’ seized with delight on this opportunity which all men desire.

They made a thousand advances to him. opened both leaves of their foldingdoors to the millionnaire. No one knows where he came from. It was noticed that the thing which seemed chiefly to bring him to a decision was the almost irritated apostrophe addressed to him by an old woman of the people. they said.. but the prefect resisted his refusal.. they said. who called to him from her threshold. invitations rained down upon him. in an angry way: ‘A good mayor is a useful thing. He would not know how to behave in society. It has not been absolutely proved that he knows how to read. Is he drawing back before the good which he can do?’ 280 Les Miserables . that the King again appointed him mayor of the town. sur M.’ When he was seen to decline honors. which. ‘Society’ claimed him for its own. ‘He is an adventurer. of no education. ‘He is an ignorant man.’ When they saw him scattering his money about.’ When they saw him repulse society.’ In 1820. ‘He is a man of business. The prim little drawingrooms on M.’ When they saw him making money. they said. ‘He is an ambitious man. the services which he had rendered to the district were so dazzling. He refused. This time the good gossips had no trouble. had at first been closed to the artisan. the people in the street besought him. of course. five years after his arrival in M.as he mounted. they said. sur M. the urging was so vigorous that he ended by accepting. throve. ‘He is a brute. He again declined. the opinion of the whole country round about was so unanimous. all the notabilities of the place came to implore him.

This was the third phase of his ascent. Monsieur Madeleine became Monsieur le Maire.com 281 . Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

he gave. He had a well-selected little library. he remained as simple as on the first day. and more gentle with 282 Les Miserables . sur M. a serious eye. but. ever since his arrival at M.. The women said of him. He fulfilled his duties as mayor. in order to get rid of the necessity for smiling. In proportion as leisure came to him with fortune. ‘What a good-natured bear!’ His pleasure consisted in strolling in the fields. the thoughtful visage of a philosopher. with that exception. he escaped quickly. He habitually wore a hat with a wide brim.CHAPTER III SUMS DEPOSITED WITH LAFFITTE On the other hand. the sunburned complexion of a laborer. he seemed to take advantage of it to cultivate his mind. books are cold but safe friends. he smiled to relieve himself of the necessity of talking. with an open book before him. It had been observed that. he lived in solitude. He had gray hair. He spoke to but few people. more choice. He avoided polite attentions. He always took his meals alone. and a long coat of coarse cloth. buttoned to the chin. which he read. He loved books. his language had grown more polished.

on the walls and the ceilings. his shooting was something so infallible as to inspire terror. He taught them how to destroy scurf on wheat. When he passed through a village. He offered his assistance to any one who was in need of it. It was thought that he must. He had ‘recipes’ for exterminating from a field. When he did happen to do so. but they were empty on his return. blight. and said: ‘They are dead. which he taught to the peasants. it was thought that he was still prodigiously strong. simply by the odor of a guinea-pig which he placed in it. and surrounded him like a swarm of gnats. Nevertheless. since he knew all sorts of useful secrets. He never shot at a little bird. in the past. He never killed an inoffensive animal. and how to chase away weevils by hanging up orviot in bloom everywhere.every passing year. he examined the plants. He liked to carry a gun with him on his strolls. which were uprooted and already dried. He always had his pockets full of money when he went out. foxtail. released a wheel clogged in the mud. lifted a horse. tares. Although he was no longer young. He defended a rabbit warren against rats. it would be a good thing to know how to make Free eBooks at Planet eBook. have lived a country life.com 283 . One day he saw some country people busily engaged in pulling up nettles. or stopped a runaway bull by the horns. the ragged brats ran joyously after him. and all parasitic growths which destroy the wheat. but he rarely made use of it. by sprinkling it and the granary and inundating the cracks in the floor with a solution of common salt. among the grass and in the houses.

He seemed to like to give to his thoughts for text these funereal psalmodies filled with the vision of the other world. With his eyes fixed on heaven. produces a beautiful yellow coloringmatter. the root. Moreover. Widowhood and the grief of others attracted him. when it is older. With the exercise of a little care. pounded. the leaf makes an excellent vegetable. mixed with fodder. There are only bad cultivators. and it is difficult to collect it. When the nettle is young.’ The children loved him because he knew how to make charming little trifles of straw and cocoanuts. with the priests groaning around a coffin. mixed with salt. And what is required for the nettle? A little soil. the nettle could be made useful. no culture. Only the seed falls as it is ripe. with families dressed in black. gives gloss to the hair of animals. Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. he mingled with the friends clad in mourning. after a pause: ‘Remember this. nettles are good for poultry. no care. it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. 284 Les Miserables . When he saw the door of a church hung in black. It is exterminated. That is all. he entered: he sought out funerals as other men seek christenings. he listened with a sort of aspiration towards all the mysteries of the infinite. because of his great gentleness. my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. which can be cut twice. The seed of the nettle. it is an excellent hay.use of them. it is neglected and it becomes hurtful. those sad voices which sing on the verge of the obscure abyss of death. Chopped up. they are good for horned cattle. How many men resemble the nettle!’ He added.

at night.’ an observation full of the type of wit of petty towns. and hung with paper worth twelve sous. There is a happy man who has not a contented air. concealing his agency in them as a man conceals himself because of evil actions.’ Some people maintained that he was a mysterious person. so that one of the elegant and malicious young women of M. It is said to be a grotto. which was a regular anchorite’s cell. They could see nothing remarkable about it. pray show us your chamber.’ He smiled. The people said: ‘There is a rich man who has not a haughty air. during his absence. came to him one day.He performed a multitude of good actions. sur M. The ‘malefactor’ who had been there was Father Madeleine. like all furniture of that sort. ‘for they were hall-marked. A poor wretch on returning to his attic would find that his door had been opened. and asked: ‘Monsieur le Maire. and introduced them instantly into this ‘grotto. sometimes even forced. except two candlesticks of antique pattern which stood on the chimney-piece and appeared to be silver. The poor man made a clamor over it: some malefactor had been there! He entered. and the first thing he beheld was a piece of gold lying forgotten on some piece of furniture. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and that no one ever entered his chamber. furnished with winged hour-glasses and enlivened by cross-bones and skulls of dead men! This was much talked of. He was affable and sad.com 285 . which was rather ugly. The room was very simply furnished in mahogany. he ascended staircases furtively. He penetrated houses privately.’ They were well punished for their curiosity.

so that. It was also whispered about that he had ‘immense’ sums deposited with Laffitte. 286 Les Miserables . it was added. ‘these two or three millions’ were reducible. and that it was a hermit’s cave. a mysterious retreat. a hole. a tomb. to six hundred and thirty or forty thousand francs. and carry off his two or three millions in ten minutes. sign a receipt. Madeleine could make his appearance at Laffitte’s any morning. with this peculiar feature.Nevertheless. In reality. people continued to say that no one ever got into the room. that they were always at his immediate disposal. as we have said. M.

Let us remark by the way. a sister. it is because I possess the whole of her heart”. a charming being.CHAPTER IV M. and content to be blind. surnamed ‘Monseigneur Bienvenu. To have continually at one’s side a woman. is. in fact. Bishop of D——. to be able to incessantly measure one’s affection by the amount of her presence which she bestows on us. MADELEINE IN MOURNING At the beginning of 1820 the newspapers announced the death of M. where nothing is complete. The Bishop of D——to supply here a detail which the papers omitted— had been blind for many years before his death. as his sister was beside him. and to say to ourselves. to know that we are indispensable to a person who is necessary to us. Myriel.’ who had died in the odor of sanctity at the age of eighty-two. to behold her Free eBooks at Planet eBook. one of the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness upon this earth. ‘Since she consecrates the whole of her time to me.com 287 . that to be blind and to be loved. who is there because you need her and because she cannot do without you. a daughter.

undergoes a mysterious blossoming.thought in lieu of her face. of this speech. the star around which this angel gravitates. uninterruptedly there. to feel one’s self all the more powerful because of one’s infirmity. found and tested. if she departs. and reappears like reality. this conviction the blind man possesses. loved for one’s own sake—let us say rather. to lean upon that immovable reed. and to be able to take it in one’s arms. One does not lose the sight when one has love. Soul seeks soul. return. to be able to verify the fidelity of one being amid the eclipse of the world. to touch Providence with one’s hands. to become in one’s obscurity. to regard the rustle of a gown as the sound of wings. The supreme happiness of life consists in the conviction that one is loved. And this soul. A hand sustains you. Does he lack anything? No. from her worship to her pity. she vanishes like a dream. and behold! she is 288 Les Miserables . loved in spite of one’s self.—few felicities equal this. One feels warmth approaching. never to be left. gropingly. that obscure. to have that sweet weakness aiding you.—what bliss! The heart. And what love! A love wholly constituted of virtue! There is no blindness where there is certainty. and through one’s obscurity. it is but to return again. it is hers: a mouth lightly touches your brow. One would not exchange that shadow for all brightness! The angel soul is there. celestial flower. To have everything of her. it is hers. is a woman. to manifest at each instant one’s personal attraction. to hear her come and go. it is her mouth: you hear a breath very near you. retire.—God made tangible. speak. To be served in distress is to be caressed. and finds it. and to think that one is the centre of these steps. sing.

On the following day. instantly and at one blow. le Maire is doubtless a cousin of the late Bishop of D——?’ He said. ventured to ask him. ‘M. M. which are enormous in that void. this raised M. one is a radiance amid the night. the probable relative of a bishop. One evening. and procured for him.com 289 . ‘He has gone into mourning for the Bishop of D——‘ said the drawing-rooms. Madeleine’s credit greatly. with ecstasy. It was from this paradise that Monseigneur Welcome had passed to the other.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. This mourning was noticed in the town. and supplying the vanished universe to you. One sees nothing. The most ineffable accents of the feminine voice employed to lull you. The microscopic Faubourg Saint-Germain of the place meditated raising the quarantine against M. Madeleine’s origin. And there are a thousand little cares. with gayety. One is caressed with the soul. Madeleine perceived the advancement which he had obtained. by the more numerous courtesies of the old women and the more plentiful smiles of the young ones. It was concluded that some relationship existed between him and the venerable Bishop. One overflows with serenity. but one feels that one is adored. ‘No. a ruler in that petty great world. and with crape on his hat. M. Madeleine appeared clad wholly in black. Nothings. Madeleine. who was curious by right of seniority. The announcement of his death was reprinted by the local journal of M. sur M. It seemed to throw a light on M. and commented on. It is a paradise of shadows.there. sur M. a certain consideration in the noble world of M. Madame.

‘It is because I was a servant in his family in my youth. The little Savoyards told each other about it: a great many of them passed that way. the mayor had him summoned. 290 Les Miserables .’ He replied. inquired his name.‘But. and gave him money. that every time that he encountered in the town a young Savoyard who was roaming about the country and seeking chimneys to sweep. was.’ Another thing which was remarked. ‘you are wearing mourning for him.’ resumed the dowager.

unanimous.com 291 . There had at first been exercised against M. and with good reason. which in the course of six or seven years gradually took possession of the whole district. with almost the same accent as ‘Monseigneur the Bishop’ had been pronounced in D—— in 1815. he prevented lawsuits. in virtue of a sort of law which all those who rise must submit to. all this opposition subsided. Madeleine.CHAPTER V VAGUE FLASHES ON THE HORIZON Little by little. then merely malicious remarks. cordial. blackening and calumnies. It seemed as though he had for a soul the book of the natural law. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. sur M. then even this entirely disappeared. It was like an epidemic of veneration. Madeleine. respect became complete. Every one took him for the judge. then they grew to be nothing more than ill-nature. in the arrondissement. and in the course of time. he reconciled enemies. and towards 1821 the moment arrived when the word ‘Monsieur le Maire’ was pronounced at M. One single man in the town. People came from a distance of ten leagues around to consult M. He put an end to differences.

intractable. with folded arms and a slow shake of the head.’ This person. clad in an irongray frock-coat. a man of lofty stature. and his upper lip raised in company with his lower to his nose. which creates antipathies and sympathies. and which never belies itself. and the man-fox of the presence of the man-lion. secretly warns the man-dog of the presence of the man-cat. was one of those men who. turned round abruptly behind him. In any case. after all? I certainly have seen him somewhere. and wearing a battered hat. grave with a gravity which was almost menacing. remained his opponent as though a sort of incorruptible and imperturbable instinct kept him on the alert and uneasy. which fatally separates one nature from another nature. I am not his dupe. stubborn to all counsels of the intelligence and to all the dissolvents of reason. in whatever manner destinies are arranged. clear in its obscurity. Madeleine was passing along a street. armed with a heavy cane. whatever Father Madeleine did. and followed him with his eyes until he disappeared. and. arrest the spectator’s attention. It seems. as though there existed in certain men a veritable bestial instinct. which feels no disquiet. though pure and upright. It frequently happened that when M. calm. which does not hold its peace. which does not hesitate. imperious. like all instincts. in fact. surrounded by the blessings of all. infallible.absolutely escaped this contagion. 292 Les Miserables . and which. even when only seen by a rapid glimpse. a sort of significant grimace which might be translated by: ‘What is that man. affectionate.

When Javert arrived at M. Animals are nothing else than the figures of our virtues and our vices. Sometimes even several of them at a time. and Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine. that from the oyster to the eagle. our souls being realities and having a goal which is appropriate to them. It is our conviction that if souls were visible to the eyes. hardly perceived by the thinker. which is complicated with an air of baseness mingled with an air of authority. and we could easily recognize this truth. the posFree eBooks at Planet eBook. Only since animals are mere shadows. straying before our eyes. Comte Angeles. the visible phantoms of our souls. Chabouillet.His name was Javert. all animals exist in man. and that each one of them is in a man. God has bestowed on them intelligence. He had not seen Madeleine’s beginnings. we should be able to see distinctly that strange thing that each one individual of the human race corresponds to some one of the species of the animal creation. the fortune of the great manufacturer was already made. from the pig to the tiger. he exercised the unpleasant but useful functions of an inspector. that is to say. God has not made them capable of education in the full sense of the word. Certain police officers have a peculiar physiognomy.com 293 . Javert possessed this physiognomy minus the baseness. God shows them to us in order to induce us to reflect. what is the use? On the contrary. then prefect of police at Paris. and he belonged to the police. sur M. Javert owed the post which he occupied to the protection of M. the secretary of the Minister of State. At M. sur M.

the utility which it contains.— those who attack it and those who guard it. and the result will be Javert. be it said. and he despaired of ever re-entering it. he 294 Les Miserables . if the reader will admit. and without prejudging the profound question of the anterior or ulterior personality of the beings which are not man. The peasants of Asturias are convinced that in every litter of wolves there is one dog.sibility of education. Social education. complicated with an inexpressible hatred for the race of bohemians whence he was sprung. can always draw from a soul. he would devour the other little ones. let us pass on. He entered the police. The visible I in nowise authorizes the thinker to deny the latent I. of whatever sort it may be. when well done. he thought that he was outside the pale of society. as he grew up. As he grew up. whose husband was in the galleys. with us. which is killed by the mother because. for a moment. He observed that society unpardoningly excludes two classes of men. he was conscious of an indescribable foundation of rigidity. Javert had been born in prison. otherwise. Having made this reservation. Give to this dog-son of a wolf a human face. it will be easy for us to say what there was in Police Officer Javert. is of course from the restricted point of view of the terrestrial life which is apparent. regularity. Now. This. of a fortune-teller. that in every man there is one of the animal species of creation. at the same time. he had no choice except between these two classes. and probity.

but his gums. from the prime minister to the rural policeman. was a watchdog. by dint of exaggerating them. like an imprint of wrath.—and his laugh was rare and terrible.—his thin lips parted and revealed to view not only his teeth. are only forms of rebellion. he was a tiger. At forty years of age he was an inspector. with two deep nostrils. During his youth he had been employed in the convict establishments of the South. This man was composed of two very simple and two very good sentiments. towards which enormous whiskers ascended on his cheeks. central frown. his gaze was obscure.’ which we have just applied to Javert. and disgust every one who had once crossed the legal threshold of evil.com 295 . He covered with scorn. and in his eyes. his air that of ferocious command. comparatively. serious. hatred of rebellion. as on the muzzle of a wild beast. when he laughed. One felt ill at ease when he saw these two forests and these two caverns for the first time. When Javert laughed.—respect for authority. He Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Before proceeding further. ‘human face.succeeded there. let us come to an understanding as to the words. Javert. his mouth pursed up and terrible. The human face of Javert consisted of a flat nose. he had very little skull and a great deal of jaw. robbery. aversion. He enveloped in a blind and profound faith every one who had a function in the state. murder. but he rendered them almost bad. between his eyes there was a permanent. his hair concealed his forehead and fell over his eyebrows. and around his nose there formed a flattened and savage fold. all crimes. As for the rest.

Nothing good can come from them.was absolute. and admitted no exceptions. Brutus in Vidocq. humble and haughty. He had introduced a straight line into what is the most crooked thing in the world. he said. His glance was like a gimlet. And he would have done it with that sort of inward satisfaction which is conferred by virtue. cold and piercing. and he was a spy as other men are priests. would not have failed to declare that Jav296 Les Miserables . withal. of authenticating. and would have denounced his mother. a melancholy dreamer. chastity. as the Spartans understood Sparta. the magistrate is never the wrong. if the reader will have it so. the religion of his functions.’ He fully shared the opinion of those extreme minds which attribute to human law I know not what power of making. austere. the police understood. if she had broken her ban. demons.’ On the other hand. ‘The functionary can make no mistake. he possessed the conscience of his usefulness. a ferocious honesty. He was stoical. which at that epoch seasoned with lofty cosmogony those things which were called the ultra newspapers. abnegation. It was implacable duty. His whole life hung on these two words: watchfulness and supervision. serious. Woe to the man who fell into his hands! He would have arrested his own father. a marble informer. And. The mystical school of Joseph de Maistre. like fanatics. if the latter had escaped from the galleys. Javert’s whole person was expressive of the man who spies and who withdraws himself from observation. ‘These men are irremediably lost. with never a diversion. a life of privation. On the one hand. he said. or. a pitiless lying in wait. and who place a Styx at the base of society. isolation.

Madeleine had finally perceived the fact. The name of Javert routed them by its mere utterance. His brow was not visible. But when the occasion presented itself. there was suddenly seen to emerge from all this shadow. Vagrants. As we have said. as from an ambuscade. Therein lay his connection with humanity. He did not even put a question to Javert. but it seemed to be of no importance to him. Such was this formidable man. it disappeared beneath his hat: his eyes were not visible. since they were lost under his eyebrows: his chin was not visible. In his leisure moments. which were far from frequent. this caused him to be not wholly illiterate. a baleful glance. he carried it under his coat. he permitted himself a pinch of snuff. a narrow and angular forehead. they were drawn up in his sleeves: and his cane was not visible. M. enormous hands. although he hated books. and a monstrous cudgel. he neither sought nor avoided him.ert was a symbol. This could be recognized by some emphasis in his speech. for it was plunged in his cravat: his hands were not visible.com 297 . he read. Javert was like an eye constantly fixed on M. An eye full of suspicion and conjecture. the face of Javert petrified them at sight. he bore that embarrassing and almost oppressive gaze without appearing to notice it. The reader will have no difficulty in understanding that Javert was the terror of that whole class which the annual statistics of the Ministry of Justice designates under the rubric. a threatening chin. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. When he was pleased with himself. he had no vices. Madeleine.

all the anterior traces which Father Madeleine might have left elsewhere. and he sometimes said in covert words. with that curiosity which belongs to the race. ‘I think I have him!’ Then he remained pensive for three days. One day. that some one had gleaned certain information in a certain district about a family which had disappeared. his strange manner appeared to produce an impression on M. Moreover. from some words which escaped Javert. and defeated. He seemed to know. and this furnishes the necessary corrective for the too absolute sense which certain words might present. nevertheless. 298 Les Miserables . Otherwise. and the peculiarity of instinct is that it can become confused. Javert was evidently somewhat disconcerted by the perfect naturalness and tranquillity of M. Once he chanced to say. it would be superior to intelligence. and uttered not a word. It was on the following occasion. and into which there enters as much instinct as will. It was divined. there can be nothing really infallible in a human creature. as he was talking to himself. as he did all the rest of the world. and the beast would be found to be provided with a better light than man.He treated Javert with ease and courtesy. thrown off the track. Madeleine. that he had secretly investigated. It seemed that the thread which he thought he held had broken. Madeleine.

CHAPTER VI FATHER FAUCHELEVENT One morning M. Madeleine was passing through an unpaved alley of M. Fauchelevent had seen this simple workman grow rich. The old man was caught in the wheels. on every occasion. a lawyer. Fauchelevent. he had turned carter. and neither family nor children. Madeleine had at that time. and he had done all he could. This had filled him with jealousy. had a business which was beginning to be in a bad way. The cart was quite heavily laden. was being ruined. while he. sur M. his horse having tumbled down. This Fauchelevent was one of the few enemies whom M. An old man named Father Fauchelevent had just fallen beneath his cart. an ex-notary and a peasant who was almost educated. to injure Madeleine. he heard a noise. and as the old man had nothing left but a cart and a horse.. and saw a group some distance away. Then bankruptcy had come. The horse had two broken legs and could not rise. When Madeleine arrived in the neighborhood.com 299 . Father Fauchelevent was ratFree eBooks at Planet eBook. He approached. The fall had been so unlucky that the whole weight of the vehicle rested on his breast.

M. the soil was soaked. it will take a good quarter of an hour. They had tried. might kill him.’ said Madeleine to the peasants. where there is a farrier. ‘Help!’ cried old Fauchelevent. It was evident that his ribs would be broken in five minutes more.tling in the throat in the most lamentable manner. It had rained on the preceding night. ‘Who will be good and save the old man?’ M. Javert. ‘How long will it take to get it?’ ‘They have gone for the nearest. Madeleine arrived. aid awkwardly given.’ answered the peasant. ‘It is impossible to wait another quarter of an hour.’ ‘A quarter of an hour!’ exclaimed Madeleine. to Flachot’s place. but in vain. Madeleine turned towards those present:— ‘Is there a jack-screw to be had?’ ‘One has been sent for. ‘We must!’ ‘But it will be too late then! Don’t you see that the cart is sinking?’ ‘Well!’ 300 Les Miserables . but it makes no difference. had sent for a jack-screw. who were staring at him. An unmethodical effort. to drag him out. People stood aside respectfully. It was impossible to disengage him otherwise than by lifting the vehicle off of him. a wrong shake. who had come up at the moment of the accident. The cart was sinking deeper into the earth every moment. and crushing the old carter’s breast more and more.

’ said a voice. He had not noticed him on his arrival.’ resumed Madeleine. The persons present dropped their eyes.’ Madeleine shuddered.’ The same silence. emphasizing every word that he uttered:— ‘Monsieur Madeleine.’ said Madeleine.’ ‘Ah!’ said Madeleine. And then he runs the risk of getting crushed!’ ‘Come. One would have to be a terrible man to do such a thing as lift a cart like that on his back.’ began Madeleine again. ‘It is not the will which is lacking.‘Listen.’ Then. One of them muttered: ‘A man would need to be devilish strong. ‘In the galleys at Toulon. Javert went on:— ‘It is strength. I have never known but one man capable of doing what you ask. ‘there is still room enough under the cart to allow a man to crawl beneath it and raise it with his back. ‘twenty louis. M. ‘Ten louis. and recognized Javert.com 301 . with an air of indifference.’ Madeleine turned pale. he went on. Madeleine turned round. gazing fixedly at M. Is there any one here who has stout loins and heart? There are five louis d’or to be earned!’ Not a man in the group stirred. Only half a minute. and the poor man can be taken out. Madeleine. Javert added. but without removing his eyes from Madeleine:— ‘He was a convict. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

and smiled sadly.’ ‘Ah! It is crushing me!’ cried the old man. and shrieked:— ‘I am strangling! My ribs are breaking! a screw! something! Ah!’ Madeleine glanced about him. They beheld Madeleine. The wheels had continued to sink. and it had become almost impossible for Madeleine to make his way from under the vehicle. no one who wishes to earn twenty louis and save the life of this poor old man?’ No one stirred. All the spectators were panting. They shouted to him. Javert resumed:— ‘I have never known but one man who could take the place of a screw. make two vain efforts to bring his knees and his elbows together. They 302 Les Miserables . ‘Is there. the cart rose slowly. the wheels half emerged from the ruts. A terrible moment of expectation and silence ensued. and before the crowd had even had time to utter a cry. met Javert’s falcon eye still fixed upon him. come out!’ Old Fauchelevent himself said to him. the cart continued to sink slowly. without saying a word. ‘Father Madeleine. he was underneath the vehicle. almost flat on his stomach beneath that terrible weight. Madeleine raised his head. ‘Monsieur Madeleine. and he was that convict. go away! You see that I am fated to die! Leave me! You will get yourself crushed also!’ Madeleine made no reply. then. he fell on his knees. Father Fauchelevent rattled in the throat. Suddenly the enormous mass was seen to quiver. Then.Meanwhile. looked at the motionless peasants.

though dripping with perspiration. As for him. His clothes were torn and covered with mud.com 303 . The cart was raised by twenty arms. ‘Make haste! Help!’ It was Madeleine. and he fixed his tranquil eye on Javert. he bore upon his countenance an indescribable expression of happy and celestial suffering. The devotion of a single man had given force and courage to all. All wept. Old Fauchelevent was saved. who was still staring at him. They rushed forwards. The old man kissed his knees and called him the good God. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He was pale. Madeleine rose. who had just made a final effort.heard a stifled voice crying.

CHAPTER VII FAUCHELEVENT BECOMES A GARDENER IN PARIS Fauchelevent had dislocated his kneepan in his fall. Father Madeleine had him conveyed to an infirmary which he had established for his workmen in the factory building itself. Fauchelevent recovered. Madeleine.’ The cart was broken. and which was served by two sisters of charity. M. but his knee remained stiff. on the recommendation of the sisters of charity and of his priest. and the horse was dead. Madeleine was appointed mayor. When the re304 Les Miserables . On the following morning the old man found a thousand-franc bank-note on his night-stand. Some time afterwards. M. he felt the sort of shudder which a watch-dog might experience on smelling a wolf in his master’s clothes. From that time forth he avoided him as much as he possibly could. Madeleine clothed in the scarf which gave him authority over the town. got the good man a place as gardener in a female convent in the Rue Saint-Antoine in Paris. The first time that Javert beheld M. with these words in Father Madeleine’s writing: ‘I purchase your horse and cart.

he exhausts and oversteps his respite. This prosperity created at M. and this led to this arrondissement being frequently cited from all the rest by M. Such was the condition of the country when Fantine returned thither.. Fortunately. when there is no commerce. and the state expends a great deal of money in the charges for compelling and collection.—the cost of collecting the taxes. and she therefore earned but little by her day’s work. the problem was solved. when work is lacking. She presented herself there. sur M. she could not be very skilful at it. the tax-payer resists imposts through penury. the taxes are paid easily and cost the state nothing. When the population suffers. No one remembered her. but it was sufficient. Madeleine’s factory was like the face of a friend. and he could not do otherwise than meet the mayor. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.quirements of the service imperatively demanded it. then Minister of Finance. It may be said. that there is one infallible thermometer of the public misery and riches. he addressed him with profound respect. When work is abundant. In the course of seven years the expense of collecting the taxes had diminished three-fourths in the arrondissement of M. de Villele.com 305 . she was earning her living. sur M. This never deceives. another symptom which was none the less significant for not being visible. The trade was entirely new to Fantine. by Father Madeleine had. besides the visible signs which we have mentioned. when the country is rich and happy. the door of M. and was admitted to the women’s workroom.

As she only knew how to sign her name. As she was not able to say that she was married she took good care. she forgot many things. She hired a little room and furnished on credit on the strength of her future work—a lingering trace of her improvident ways. and was almost happy. her beautiful hair. that Fantine 306 Les Miserables . as we have seen. To live honestly by her own labor. At first. she paid the Thenardiers promptly. It began to be said in an undertone. her fine teeth. She bought a looking-glass. and this was noticed. she was obliged to write through a public letter-writer. took pleasure in surveying in it her youth. She wrote often. she felt joyful for a moment. she thought only of Cosette and of the possible future. in the women’s workroom. what mercy from heaven! The taste for work had really returned to her.CHAPTER VIII MADAME VICTURNIEN EXPENDS THIRTY FRANCS ON MORALITY When Fantine saw that she was making her living. not to mention her little girl. as the reader has seen.

So-and-So never hang his key on its nail on Tuesday? Why does he always take the narrow streets? Why does Madame always descend from her hackney-coach before reaching her house? Why does she send out to purchase six sheets of note paper. of no consequence whatever to them. knowing. Certain persons are malicious solely through a necessity Free eBooks at Planet eBook. they will make the drivers of hackney-coaches and lackeys tipsy. these enigmas illuminated by the light of day.‘wrote letters’ and that ‘she had ways about her. and penetrating into things. duels. to the great joy of those who have ‘found out everything. and broken lives.’ without any interest in the matter. suborn a porter. take more trouble. for the sake of obtaining the key to these enigmas. bring on catastrophies. A sad thing. and that gratuitously. the ruin of families. they will bribe errand-porters. There exist beings who. and by pure instinct. They will follow up such and such a man or woman for whole days. in cold and rain. waste more time.com 307 . for their own pleasure. spend more money. without receiving any other payment for their curiosity than curiosity.’ There is no one for spying on people’s actions like those who are not concerned in them. when she has a ‘whole stationer’s shop full of it?’ etc. A pure passion for seeing. than would be required for ten good actions. which are. moreover. under alley-way doors at night. Why does that gentleman never come except at nightfall? Why does Mr. Why? For no reason. buy a waiting-maid. And often these secrets once known. failures. these mysteries made public. they will do sentry duty for hours at a time on the corners of the streets. A pure itch for talking.

talked to the Thenardiers. It was remarked that in the workroom she often turned aside. Madame Victurnien was fifty-six. and that she paid the carriage on the letter. the chat of the drawingroom. and said on her return: ‘For my five and thirty francs I have freed my mind. in the midst of the rest. many a one was jealous of her golden hair and of her white teeth. inn-keeper at Montfermeil. ‘She must be a pretty sort of a woman. It was observed that she wrote twice a month at least.for talking. Their conversation. The public writer. These were the moments when she was thinking of her child. a good old man who could not fill his stomach with red wine without emptying his pocket of secrets. and their combustibles are furnished by their neighbors. and reenforced the mask of ugliness with the mask of age. In addition. gossip of the anteroom. was made to talk in the wine-shop. also. I have seen the child. perhaps. Breaking the gloomy bonds of the past is a mournful task. They managed to obtain the address: Monsieur. to wipe away a tear. A 308 Les Miserables . Monsieur Thenardier. In short.’ The gossip who did this thing was a gorgon named Madame Victurnien. it was discovered that Fantine had a child. So Fantine was watched. they need a great amount of combustibles. the guardian and door-keeper of every one’s virtue. of the man whom she had loved. who made the trip to Montfermeil.’ An old gossip was found. is like those chimneys which consume wood rapidly.

and who had ruled over her masterfully and bent her to his will. she had married a monk who had fled from his cloister in a red cap.’ All this took time. ‘I have seen the child. She was dry. The superintendent ordered her to leave the shop on the instant. She could not leave the neighborhood. She was a nettle in which the rustle of the cassock was visible. and requested her. when. told her that she was no longer employed in the shop. She was in high favor at the episcopal palace of Arras. she was in debt for her rent and furniture. At the Restoration she had turned bigot. the superintendent of the workroom handed her fifty francs from the mayor. whose widow she was. captious.quavering voice. Besides. So this Madame Victurnien went to Montfermeil. in the mayor’s name. all this in memory of her monk. had just exacted fifteen francs instead of twelve. sharp. one morning. and returned with the remark. and passed from the Bernardines to the Jacobins.com 309 . She had a small property. and that with so much energy that the priests had forgiven her her monk. This was the very month when the Thenardiers. almost venomous. Fifty francs was not sufficient to cancel this debt. Fantine was overwhelmed. a whimsical mind. in ‘93. Fantine had been at the factory for more than a year. She stammered a few supplicating words. rough. peevish. which she bequeathed with much ostentation to a religious community. Fantine was only a Free eBooks at Planet eBook. to leave the neighborhood. This old dame had once been young—astonishing fact! In her youth. after having demanded twelve francs instead of six.

she did not dare. The mayor had given her fifty francs because he was good. She was advised to see the mayor. So her fault was now known to every one. Overcome with shame.moderately good workwoman. She bowed before the decision. she quitted the shop. and had dismissed her because he was just. even more than with despair. She no longer felt strong enough to say a word. 310 Les Miserables . and returned to her room.

Madeleine relied wholly on her. M. M. that the superintendent had instituted the suit. and he had full confidence in this superintendent. she had given them from a fund which M. and executed Fantine.—a truly respectable person. Life is full of just such combinations of events. It was with this full power. The best men are often obliged to delegate their authority. equitable. But M. whom the priest had provided for him. Madeleine had intrusted to her for charitaFree eBooks at Planet eBook. At the head of this room he had placed an elderly spinster. Madeleine had heard nothing of all this. but not having in the same degree that charity which consists in understanding and in forgiving. upright. and the conviction that she was doing right.com 311 . full of the charity which consists in giving. As regards the fifty francs. firm.CHAPTER IX MADAME VICTURNIEN’S SUCCESS So the monk’s widow was good for something. Madeleine was in the habit of almost never entering the women’s workroom. judged. condemned.

and earned twelve sous a day. It was at this point that she began to pay the Thenardiers irregularly. Fantine tried to obtain a situation as a servant in the neighborhood. returned to the latter three-quarters of his goods. Fantine learned how to live without fire entirely in the winter.’ The householder. These are the two chambers. ‘You are young and pretty. and found herself without work. and still about fifty francs in debt. She could not leave town. how to give up a bird which eats a half a farthing’s worth of millet every two days. taught her the art of living in misery. you can pay. there is the living on nothing. to whom she was in debt for her furniture—and what furniture!—said to her. how to make a coverlet of one’s petticoat. 312 Les Miserables . However. how to save one’s candle. without a trade. with nothing but her bed. No one would have her. kept only necessaries. said to her. she went from house to house. The second-hand dealer. and of which she rendered no account. the old woman who lighted her candle for her when she returned at night.’ She divided the fifty francs between the landlord and the furniture-dealer. I will have you arrested as a thief. and a petticoat of one’s coverlet. Back of living on little. the first is dark. whom she owed for her rent. by taking one’s meals by the light of the opposite window. No one knows all that certain feeble creatures. Her daughter cost her ten. She began to make coarse shirts for soldiers of the garrison.ble purposes. ‘If you leave. the second is black. and for giving assistance to the workwomen.

Fantine acquired this sublime talent. trouble on the other. It ends by being a talent. There are many such virtuous people in this lower world. one eats less.who have grown old in privation and honesty.’ It would have been a great happiness to have her little girl with her in this distress. uneasiness. a little bread on one hand. by only sleeping five hours. This life has a morrow.com 313 . she was in debt to the Thenardiers! How could she pay them? And the journey! How pay for that? The old woman who had given her lessons in what may be called the life of indigence. poor and charitable towards the poor.—all this will support me. and working all the rest of the time at my sewing. and believing in God. then. And. and regained a little courage. every one stared at her and no one greeted her. the cold and bitter scorn of the passers-by penetrated her very flesh and soul Free eBooks at Planet eBook. When she was in the street. I shall always manage to nearly earn my bread. Fantine had been so ashamed that she had not dared to go out. But what then! Make her share her own destitution! And then. knowing how to write just sufficiently to sign herself Marguerite. She thought of having her come. who was pious with a true piety. when one is sad. was a sainted spinster named Marguerite. and pointed at her. can get out of a sou. she divined that people turned round behind her. which is science. and even towards the rich. sufferings. At first. ‘Bah! I say to myself. At this epoch she said to a neighbor. some day they will be in the world above. Well.

and it flowed about her like floss silk. she experienced a moment of happy coquetry.’ and congratulated herself. bearing her head well up. ‘thanks to her. ‘It is all the same to me. and this obscurity is a garment. noticed the distress of ‘that creature’ who. when she combed her beautiful hair in the morning with an old broken comb. Marguerite. At the expiration of two or three months she shook off her shame. 314 Les Miserables . and began to go about as though there were nothing the matter. Gradually she decided on her course. The happiness of the evil-minded is black. Excess of toil wore out Fantine. In Paris. and the little dry cough which troubled her increased. She went and came. no one knows you. Madame Victurnien sometimes saw her passing. It seems as though an unfortunate woman were utterly bare beneath the sarcasm and the curiosity of all in small towns.’ she said. and was conscious that she was becoming brazen-faced. at least. Oh! how she would have liked to betake herself to Paris! Impossible! She was obliged to accustom herself to disrepute. as she had accustomed herself to indigence. from her window. with a bitter smile.’ had been ‘put back in her proper place.like a north wind. She sometimes said to her neighbor. ‘Just feel how hot my hands are!’ Nevertheless.

One day they wrote to her that her little Cosette was entirely naked in that cold weather. fogs. Short days. A frightful season! Winter changes the water of heaven and the heart of man into a stone. twilight. but winter came again. Her admirable golden hair fell to her knees. no light. Her creditors harrassed her. it is impossible to see clearly at it. Fantine earned too little.com 315 . less work. and crushed it in her hands all day long. who were not promptly paid. The whole day is a cavern. the evening joining on to the morning. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. wrote to her constantly letters whose contents drove her to despair. and that her mother must send at least ten francs for this. Her debts had increased. She received the letter. The sky is but a vent-hole. ‘What splendid hair!’ exclaimed the barber. that she needed a woollen skirt. and pulled out her comb.CHAPTER X RESULT OF THE SUCCESS She had been dismissed towards the end of the winter. That evening she went into a barber’s shop at the corner of the street. no noonday. the window is gray. The Thenardiers. The sun has the air of a beggar. the summer passed. Winter: no warmth. and whose carriage ruined her.

when the workpeople were at the door. ‘Ten francs. 316 Les Miserables . the first who offered. she came to hate him also. When she passed the factory in working hours. This petticoat made the Thenardiers furious. An old workwoman who once saw her laughing and singing in this fashion said. a man whom she did not love.‘How much will you give me for it?’ said she.’ She purchased a knitted petticoat and sent it to the Thenardiers. They gave the petticoat to Eponine. Fantine thought: ‘My child is no longer cold. When she saw that she could no longer dress her hair. she affected to laugh and sing.’ She put on little round caps which concealed her shorn head. she began to hate every one about her. by dint of repeating to herself that it was he who had discharged her. She had long shared the universal veneration for Father Madeleine. out of bravado and with rage in her heart. that he was the cause of her unhappiness. in disgust. ‘There’s a girl who will come to a bad end. It was the money that they wanted. and in which she was still pretty. who beat her. She adored her child. The poor Lark continued to shiver. and who abandoned her as she had taken him. Dark thoughts held possession of Fantine’s heart. and most of all. yet. I have clothed her with my hair. He was a miserable scamp. a sort of mendicant musician. a lazy beggar.’ She took a lover.’ ‘Cut it off.

who was holding forth. ‘What makes you so gay?’ She replied: ‘A fine piece of stupidity that some country people have written to me. ‘When I get rich.The lower she descended. He was a quack dentist on his rounds. Her cough did not leave her. she saw a great many people collected around a carriage of eccentric shape. She said.’ She burst out laughing. Some one met her and said to her. the little one will be dead.’ Nevertheless she went to a dormer window in the staircase and read the letter once more. and we can no longer pay for them. running and leaping and still laughing. the darker everything grew about her. the more radiant shone that little angel at the bottom of her heart.com 317 . who was offering to Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Then she descended the stairs and emerged. and she had sweats on her back. They demand forty francs of me. you peasants!’ As she crossed the square. they call it. upon the top of which stood a man dressed in red. This is ruining us. One day she received from the Thenardiers a letter couched in the following terms: ‘Cosette is ill with a malady which is going the rounds of the neighborhood. Expensive drugs are required. A miliary fever.’ and she laughed. I will have my Cosette with me. and said to her old neighbor: ‘Ah! they are good! Forty francs! the idea! That makes two napoleons! Where do they think I am to get them? These peasants are stupid. So much for you. If you do not send us forty francs before the week is out. truly.

‘The palettes.’ Fantine returned home. you will find me there. the two upper ones. who are laughing. but my teeth! Ah! what a monster of a man! I should prefer to throw myself head first on the pavement from the fifth story! He told me that he should be at the Tillac d’Argent this evening. powders and elixirs. and suddenly exclaimed: ‘You have beautiful teeth. come this evening to the inn of the Tillac d’Argent. which contained slang for the populace and jargon for respectable people. they may prove of service. and began to laugh with the rest at the harangue. ‘Here’s a lucky girl!’ Fantine fled and stopped her ears that she might not hear the hoarse voice of the man shouting to her: ‘Reflect. laughing girl. you girl there. Fantine mingled in the group. my beauty! two napoleons.’ ‘What are my palettes?’ asked Fantine. The tooth-puller espied the lovely.the public full sets of teeth. 318 Les Miserables . I will give you a gold napoleon apiece for them. if you want to sell me your palettes. ‘are the front teeth. opiates. She was furious. and related the occurrence to her good neighbor Marguerite: ‘Can you understand such a thing? Is he not an abominable man? How can they allow such people to go about the country! Pull out my two front teeth! Why.’ replied the dental professor. I should be horrible! My hair will grow again.’ ‘How horrible!’ exclaimed Fantine. If your heart bids you. ‘Two napoleons!’ grumbled a toothless old woman who was present.’ ‘And what did he offer?’ asked Marguerite.

’ said Marguerite. and was almost entirely conFree eBooks at Planet eBook.— she found Fantine seated on her bed.’ ‘That makes forty francs. and in this manner used only one candle for the two. she said to Marguerite.’ ‘Then it attacks children?’ ‘Children in particular. ‘that makes forty francs. That evening she went out.’ ‘Yes.’ She remained thoughtful. She had not lain down.’ ‘Do people die of it?’ ‘They may. On her return.’ ‘How does one get it?’ ‘It is a malady that one gets without knowing how. The next morning.‘Two napoleons. Fantine left the room and went to read her letter once more on the staircase. ‘it is a disease.’ said Fantine. At the expiration of a quarter of an hour she left her sewing and went to read the Thenardiers’ letter once more on the staircase. and began her work. Her candle had burned all night. where the inns are situated.com 319 . pale and frozen. Her cap had fallen on her knees. when Marguerite entered Fantine’s room before daylight.’ ‘Does it require many drugs?’ ‘Oh! terrible drugs. and was seen to turn her steps in the direction of the Rue de Paris. who was at work beside her:— ‘What is a miliary fever? Do you know?’ ‘Yes.—for they always worked together.’ answered the old spinster.

and exclaimed:— ‘Lord! the candle is all burned out! Something has happened. She had long since quitted her cell on the second floor for an attic with only a latch to fasten it. who turned toward her her head bereft of its hair. for lack of succor. it is a fortune! Where did you get those louis d’or?’ ‘I got them. ‘Why. and she had a black hole in her mouth.’ replied Fantine. ‘Ah! Jesus God!’ cried Marguerite. It was a bloody smile. Fantine?’ ‘Nothing. next the roof.sumed. A reddish saliva soiled the corners of her lips. she pointed out to the spinster two napoleons which were glittering on the table. ‘what is the matter with you. ‘Quite the contrary.’ Then she looked at Fantine. The two teeth had been extracted. I am content. She sent the forty francs to Montfermeil. At the same time she smiled. Fantine threw her mirror out of the window. one of those 320 Les Miserables . The candle illuminated her countenance.’ So saying. Cosette was not ill. My child will not die of that frightful malady. ‘Jesus!’ said Marguerite. Marguerite halted on the threshold. Fantine had grown ten years older since the preceding night. petrified at this tremendous wastefulness.’ replied Fantine. After all it was a ruse of the Thenardiers to obtain money.

com 321 . A little rosebush which she had. She sewed seventeen hours a day.attics whose extremity forms an angle with the floor. with scraps of calico which tore at the slightest movement. with dirty caps. and nine sous a day! Her creditors were more pitiless than ever. She went out. The Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She found them in the street. and in which the various levels of the water remained long marked by these circles of ice. but made no complaint. and she felt a steady pain in her shoulder towards the top of the left shoulder-blade. She coughed a great deal. which reduced the daily earnings of working-women to nine sous. She passed many a night weeping and thinking. she lost her coquetry. Seventeen hours of toil. forgotten. she no longer mended her linen. a mattress on the floor. she found them again on her staircase. The poor occupant can reach the end of his chamber as he can the end of his destiny. She had lost her shame. Her eyes were very bright. In the other corner was a butterpot to hold water. Whether from lack of time or from indifference. She had no longer a bed. she dragged her stockings down into her shoes. in one corner. only by bending over more and more. She patched her bodice. a rag which she called her coverlet. A final sign. She deeply hated Father Madeleine. which froze in winter. had dried up. and a seatless chair still remained. who made the prisoners work at a discount. This was evident from the perpendicular wrinkles. which was old and worn out. suddenly made prices fall. As the heels wore out. and knocks you on the head every instant. but a contractor for the work of prisons. The people to whom she was indebted made ‘scenes’ and gave her no peace.

‘When will you pay me.’ thought Fantine. and that she might do what she liked with herself. and die if she chose. ‘let us sell what is left. convalescent as she was from her heavy illness. good God! She felt that she was being hunted. otherwise he would turn little Cosette out of doors.second-hand dealer. ‘A hundred francs. ‘But in what trade can one earn a hundred sous a day?’ ‘Come!’ said she. Thenardier wrote to her that he had waited with decidedly too much amiability and that he must have a hundred francs at once.’ The unfortunate girl became a woman of the town. you hussy?’ What did they want of her. and something of the wild beast developed in her. About the same time. 322 Les Miserables . who had taken back nearly all his furniture. into the cold and the streets. said to her incessantly.

It still exists. This is not one of the least of man’s disgraces. A dolorous bargain.com 323 . The sacred law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization. it is said that slavery has disappeared from European civilization. and it is called prostitution. From hunger. as yet. A soul for a morsel of bread. she is the severe and dishonored figure. society accepts. maternity. cold. Whoever touches her feels cold. permeate it. This is a mistake. isolation. she endures you. Misery offers. From whom? From misery.CHAPTER XI CHRISTUS NOS LIBERAVIT What is this history of Fantine? It is society purchasing a slave. nothing is left to Fantine of that which she had formerly been. weakness. destitution. She passes. She has become marble in becoming mire. It weighs upon the woman. but it weighs only upon the woman. she ignores you. that is to say. beauty. At the point in this melancholy drama which we have now reached. but it does not. Life and Free eBooks at Planet eBook. upon grace.

Alas! What are all these fates. experienced everything. as death resembles sleep. mourned everything. 324 Les Miserables . with that resignation which resembles indifference. lost everything. His name is God. He is alone. driven on pell-mell? Whither are they going? Why are they thus? He who knows that sees the whole of the shadow. All has happened to her that will happen to her. She is resigned. At least. suffered everything. She has felt everything. Let all the clouds fall upon her. and that one has reached the bottom of anything whatever. borne everything. and all the ocean sweep over her! What matters it to her? She is a sponge that is soaked.the social order have said their last word for her. but it is an error to imagine that fate can be exhausted. she believes it to be so. She no longer avoids anything.

smoke. a little folly. play billiards. smell of tobacco. and Paris through the medium of Free eBooks at Planet eBook. admire tragedy. my woods”. hunt. yawn. who would be rustics in a drawing-room. despise women. BAMATABOIS’S INACTIVITY There is in all small towns. who hiss actresses at the theatre to prove that they are persons of taste. copy London through Paris. who stick at a sou. wear out their old boots. ‘My fields. who say. cyphers. and who think themselves gentlemen in the dram-shop. who have a little land. and there was at M. These are beings of the great neuter species: impotent men.CHAPTER XII M. drink. a little wit. live at the cafe. stare at travellers as they descend from the diligence. in particular. a class of young men who nibble away an income of fifteen hundred francs with the same air with which their prototypes devour two hundred thousand francs a year in Paris. have a dog which eats the bones under the table. exaggerate the fashions.com 325 . dine at the inn. and a mistress who eats the dishes on the table. my peasants. parasites. quarrel with the officers of the garrison to prove that they are men of war. sur M.

hair worn in a tuft. and spurs the pedestrian. and conversation set off by puns of Potier. but always uneven. a big cravat. varying from one to eleven—a limit which was never exceeded. one would say.’ They are simply men without employment.’ if they were poorer. the bored. a tall hat with a narrow brim. worn one on top of the other—the red and blue inside. The provincial dandy wore the longest of spurs and the fiercest of mustaches. high shoes with little irons on the heels. It was the period of the conflict of the republics of South America with the King of Spain. and a pair of trousers of a lighter shade of olive. At that period a dandy was composed of a tall collar. a double row of silver buttons set close to each other and running up to the shoulder. would have been one of these men. of a short-waisted olive coat. and were called moril326 Les Miserables . never work. of Bolivar against Morillo. M. three vests of different colors. ‘They are idlers. Narrow-brimmed hats were royalist. an enormous cane. serve no use. Felix Tholomyes. and do no great harm. If they were richer. Add to this. At that epoch mustaches indicated the bourgeois. and some knaves. spurs and a mustache. grow old as dullards. Among these unemployed there are bores. ornamented on the two seams with an indefinite.Pont-A-Mousson. Over all. with a codfish tail. ‘They are dandies. number of lines. dreamers. had he remained in his own province and never beheld Paris. a watch with trinkets. one would say.

in front of the officers’ cafe. and was. one of these dandies. like the condemned soldier who returns under the rods. The woman. This gentleman was known as M. for he was decidedly fashionable. The small effect which he produced no doubt piqued the lounger. Each time that the woman passed in front of him. and thrust it abruptly into her back.com 327 . made him no reply.. then. 1823. and nevertheless continued her promenade in silence. together with a puff from his cigar. liberals wore hats with wide brims. bent down. towards the first of January. This dandy was smoking. which were called bolivars. such as.los. ‘How ugly you are!— Will you get out of my sight?—You have no teeth!’ etc. between her bare shoulders. decorated spectre which went and came through the snow. The woman uttered a Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he bestowed on her. some apostrophe which he considered witty and mirthful. Bamatabois. was amusing himself by tormenting a creature who was prowling about in a ball-dress. he crept up behind her with the gait of a wolf. which brought her every five minutes within reach of this sarcasm. etc. did not even glance at him. and stifling his laugh. moreover. on a snowy evening. after that which is related in the preceding pages. one of these unemployed. Eight or ten months. with neck uncovered and flowers in her hair. a melancholy. and with a sombre regularity. and taking advantage of a moment when her back was turned. warmly enveloped in one of those large cloaks which completed the fashionable costume in cold weather. picked up a handful of snow from the pavement. a ‘right thinker.’ for he wore a morillo.

burying her nails in his face. seized the woman by her satin bodice. whirled round. and a large and merry circle. livid with wrath. 328 Les Miserables . her furious voice suddenly died away. passers-by collected. his hat on the ground. she turned pale instead of livid. horrible. and she trembled with a quiver of terror. gave a leap like a panther. the officers ran out in throngs from the cafe. poured forth in a voice roughened by brandy. did. the woman striking out with feet and fists. The dandy took advantage of the incident to make his escape. It was Fantine. minus hair and teeth. with the most frightful words which could fall from the guard-room into the gutter. howling. indeed. bareheaded. and hurled herself upon the man. Her eyes were glassy. She had recognized Javert. whom there was some difficulty in recognizing as a man and a woman: the man struggling. Suddenly a man of lofty stature emerged vivaciously from the crowd. hooting and applauding. and said to her. ‘Follow me!’ The woman raised her head. These insults.roar. At the noise thus produced. which was covered with mud. proceed in hideous wise from a mouth which lacked its two front teeth. was formed around this whirlwind composed of two beings.

CHAPTER XIII THE SOLUTION OF SOME QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE MUNICIPAL POLICE Javert thrust aside the spectators. Supreme misery an occasion for obscenity. The cloud of spectators followed. entered with Fantine. who raised themselves on tiptoe. in their effort to see. broke the circle. Javert opened the door. warmed by a stove. which was a low room. with a glazed and grated door opening on the street.com 329 . and guarded by a detachment. in a paroxysm of delight. jesting. Neither he nor she uttered a word. and set out with long strides towards the police station. She yielded mechanically. which is situated at the extremity of the square. CuriFree eBooks at Planet eBook. and craned their necks in front of the thick glass of the station-house. dragging the wretched woman after him. and shut the door behind him. to the great disappointment of the curious. On arriving at the police station.

He judged and condemned. On entering. He was entering judgment. He summoned all the ideas which could possibly exist in his mind.osity is a sort of gluttony. insulted and attacked by a creature who was outside all pales. This class of women is consigned by our laws entirely to the discretion of the police. punish them. The sergeant of the guard brought a lighted candle to the table. Nevertheless. Javert seated himself. He had just beheld. It was evident that he had just witnessed the commission of a crime. Javert was impassive. and began to write. his redoubtable discretionary power. as seems good to them. he was seriously and deeply preoccupied. A prostitute had made an attempt on the life of a citizen. motionless and mute. He wrote in silence. he. It was one of those moments when he was exercising without control. in the street. but subject to all the scruples of a severe conscience. and confiscate at their will those two sorry things which they entitle their industry and their liberty. The latter do what they please. At that moment he was conscious that his police agent’s stool was a tribunal. To see is to devour. crouching down like a terrified dog. as he handed it to him. his grave face betrayed no emotion whatever. yonder. 330 Les Miserables . around the great thing which he was doing. Javert. in the person of a freeholder and an elector. When he had finished he signed the paper. The more he examined the deed of this woman. society. folded it. the more shocked he felt. and said to the sergeant of the guard. Fantine fell down in a corner. drew a sheet of stamped paper from his pocket. He had seen that.

without rising. ‘Six months in which to earn seven sous a day! But what will become of Cosette? My daughter! my daughter! But I still owe the Thenardiers over a hundred francs. One gives way to vivacity. with clasped hands. put snow in my back. and then. and taking great strides on her knees. I swear to you by the good God that I was not to blame! That gentleman. as you see. you would have seen. You know that one is not master of one’s self at the first moment. whom I do not know. Monsieur Javert. among the muddy boots of all those men. ‘Six months! six months of prison!’ she exclaimed. I did nothing. Monsieur Inspector?’ She dragged herself across the damp floor. ‘Monsieur Javert. do you know that. Has any one the right to put snow down our backs when we are walking along peaceably. he had been saying impertinent things to me for a long time: ‘You are ugly! you have no teeth!’ I know well that I have no longer those teeth.’ Then.’ The unhappy woman shuddered. I said to myself. turning to Fantine. If you had seen the beginning. ‘I beseech your mercy. ‘The gentleman is amusing himself.’ I was honest with him. good Monsieur Inspector! is there not some person here who saw it and can tell you that this is quite true? Perhaps I did wrong to get angry. I assure you that I was not in the wrong. It was at that moment that he put the snow down my back. the bourgeois.’ said she.‘Take three men and conduct this creature to jail.com 331 . ‘You are to have six months of it. when some one puts something cold down Free eBooks at Planet eBook. I did not speak to him. And then. and doing no harm to any one? I am rather ill.

it was only necessary to glance into my closets. I must pay one hundred francs. my Cosette! Oh. and such people are unreasonable. but seven sous is one’s earnings. stammering softly with a voice of agony. shaken with sobs. and it would have been evident that I was not a coquettish and untidy woman. which 332 Les Miserables . short cough. If she were older. but it benumbs the senses. Oh. my God! It makes no difference to me whether I ask his pardon. Oh. poor creature? I will tell you: it is the Thenardiers. I am not a bad woman at bottom. but it cannot be done at that age. They want money. Monsieur Javert. my little angel of the Holy Virgin! what will become of her. What I do is so vile! Oh. Great sorrow is a divine and terrible ray. Do me the favor to-day. I do not love it. a great deal of linen. her neck bare. It is not cowardliness and gluttony that have made me what I am. peasants. for this once. Why did he go away? I would ask his pardon. she might earn her living. and just fancy. I had linen. it was out of misery. Don’t put me in prison! You see. there is a little girl who will be turned out into the street to get along as best she may. in the very heart of the winter. and coughing with a dry. Monsieur Javert!’ She spoke thus. my good Monsieur Javert. Hold! you do not know that in prison one can earn only seven sous a day. rent in twain. and you must have pity on such a being. my God! I cannot have her with me. inn-keepers. wringing her hands. When I was happy. If I have drunk brandy. blinded with tears. Have pity on me. or my little girl will be sent to me.your back just when you are not expecting it! I did wrong to spoil that gentleman’s hat. it is not the government’s fault.

thrust aside the soldiers with both arms. She rose to her feet with one bound. A few moments earlier a man had entered. ‘the Eternal Father in person could do nothing more. saluting him with a sort of aggrieved awkwardness:— ‘Excuse me. and tenderly kissed the police agent’s coat. who would not rise. walked straight up to M. but a heart of wood cannot be softened. She sank down. and listened to Fantine’s despairing supplications. Mayor—‘ The words ‘Mr. ‘Mercy!’ Javert turned his back.’ Javert raised his eyes and recognized M. At that moment Fantine had become beautiful once more. Madeleine. like a spectre springing from the earth. Mr. From time to time she paused. he emerged from the shadow. ‘Come!’ said Javert. murmuring. The soldiers seized her by the arms. He removed his hat. if you please. leaned his back against it. He shut the door. but no one had paid any heed to him. Now march! The Eternal Father in person could do nothing more.com 333 .transfigures the unhappy. Mayor’ produced a curious effect upon Fantine. and. Have you entirely finished? You will get six months.’ she understood that her fate was sealed.’ At these solemn words. At the instant when the soldiers laid their hands upon the unfortunate woman. Madeleine before any Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She would have softened a heart of granite. ‘I have heard you out. and said:— ‘One moment.

and then he. To see a woman of the town spit in the mayor’s face was a thing so monstrous that. caught a glimpse of I know not what simple explanation of this prodigious attack. and as to what this mayor might be. that magistrate. le Maire!’ Then she burst into a laugh. at the very bottom of his thought. like a person who is reeling. and began to speak in a low voice. he made a hideous comparison as to what this woman was. On the other hand. and gazing intently at him. and spit in his face. He experienced at that moment.’ Javert felt that he was on the verge of going mad. the sum total of possible astonishment had been exceeded in his case. with a bewildered air. he would have regarded it as a sacrilege to believe it possible. she cried:— ‘Ah! so it is you who are M. set this woman at liberty. The words had produced no less strange an effect on Fantine. with horror. thought and word failed him equally. calmly wipe his face and say.one could prevent her.’ he underwent a sort of intoxication of amazement. ‘Set this woman at liberty. she glanced about her. But when he beheld that mayor. and said:— ‘Inspector Javert. Nevertheless. He remained mute. blow upon blow and almost simultaneously. M. the most violent emotions which he had ever undergone in all his life. and clung to the damper of the stove. Madeleine wiped his face. as though talking to herself:— ‘At liberty! I am to be allowed to go! I am not to go to prison for six months! Who said that? It is not possible that 334 Les Miserables . She raised her bare arm. in his most daring flights of fancy.

there is one improvement which these gentlemen of the police ought to make. Ah! my God! I beg your pardon. I am paying my rent now. was it not? Make inquiries. and who are much happier. Monsieur Javert. Then one has to become whatever one can. that old blackguard of a mayor. As for me. I had my little Cosette.com 335 . to prevent prison contractors from wronging poor people. my good Monsieur Javert. what is? To dismiss a poor girl who is doing her work honestly! Then I could no longer earn enough. and I was actually forced to become a bad woman. and it is not enough to live on. and that is. We women have but one silk dress for evening wear. If that is not a horror. who gossip in the workroom. It cannot have been that monster of a mayor! Was it you. I will explain it to you. and all this misery followed. the price falls to nine sous. Just imagine. After that I stamped on that gentleman’s hat in front of the officers’ cafe. see here! I will tell you about it. who said that I was to be set free? Oh. O Monsieur Javert! it was you who gave orders that I am to be set free. Now you understand how it is that that blackguard of a mayor caused all the mischief. you see: you are earning twelve sous at shirt-making. I have unintentionally touched the damper of the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. they will tell you that I am perfectly honest. You see that I did not do wrong deliberately—truly. speak to my landlord.any one could have said that. is the cause of all. and you will let me go. I did not hear aright. Monsieur Javert. but he had spoiled my whole dress with snow. In the first place. he turned me out! all because of a pack of rascally women. That monster of a mayor. and everywhere I behold women who are far more wicked than I.

one must divert themselves in some way. and it has made it smoke. it is for the sake of the little one. ‘Only. but on reflection. But to-day. you came here to frighten me. you come. in fact.stove. He put it back in his pocket. since you are a good man. she turned to the inspector again:— ‘And yet. Inspector. you see. It was empty. you fellows. you hussy!’ Oh! I won’t do it again. you say that I am to be set at liberty. who was looking at Javert only. I am afraid of my good Monsieur Javert!’ So saying. Madeleine listened to her with profound attention.’ M. Mr. for six months in prison would prevent my supporting my child. I am afraid of Monsieur Javert. you. I cried because it 336 Les Miserables . it is necessary to be just. did you see how I spit in his face? Ah! you old wretch of a mayor. we are here for them to amuse themselves with. I understand that you are just. While she was speaking. Inspector. and that makes the officers laugh. don’t do it again. but I’m not afraid of you. He said to Fantine. of course! And then. I will not stir. Monsieur Javert! They may do whatever they please to me now. it is perfectly simple: a man amuses himself by putting snow down a woman’s back. you see. you lead off the woman who is in the wrong. he fumbled in his waistcoat. ‘How much did you say that you owed?’ Fantine. turned towards him:— ‘Was I speaking to you?’ Then. addressing the soldiers:— ‘Say. you are certainly obliged to preserve order. drew out his purse and opened it. Mr. and we—well.

don’t be afraid— it is here. I was not expecting that snow from the gentleman at all. I have a cough. dropped the folds of her skirt.’ said Madeleine. ‘Sergeant!’ he cried. Monsieur l’Inspecteur has said that I am to be released. and the doctor tells me. I seem to have a burning ball in my stomach. almost to the height of her knee. saying to the soldiers in a low voice. white throat and looked smilingly at him.’ She laid her hand on the latch of the door. which had been pushed up as she dragged herself along. her voice was caressing. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He raised his head with an expression of sovereign authority. and stepped towards the door. and I am going.com 337 . One step more and she would be in the street. which is waiting to be put away somewhere. The sound of the latch roused him. an expression all the more alarming in proportion as the authority rests on a low level. All at once she rapidly adjusted her disordered garments. with his eyes fixed on the ground. ‘don’t you see that that jade is walking off! Who bade you let her go?’ ‘I. give me your hand. and then as I told you. ferocious in the wild beast.hurt me. she placed Javert’s coarse hand on her delicate. motionless. atrocious in the man of no estate. cast athwart this scene like some displaced statue.’ Here. ‘Take care of yourself.’ She no longer wept. I am not well. Javert up to that moment had remained erect. and with a friendly nod:— ‘Children. feel.

that it was indispensable that the small should be made great. in this prodigious extremity. and that. Had he reached the point of forgetting the mayor’s presence? Had he finally declared to himself that it was impossible that any ‘authority’ should have given such an order. did he say to himself. that it was necessary to recur to supreme resolutions. law. pale. I. as we have just heard. without intending it? Or. and that the mayor must certainly have said one thing by mistake for another. that the policeman should become a dispenser of justice. Police Inspector Javert was seen to turn toward the mayor. but her glance strayed from Madeleine to Javert.Fantine trembled at the sound of Javert’s voice. morality. and a look of despair. Madeleine uttered that word. was personified in him. Javert? However that may be. that the police spy should transform himself into a magistrate. with blue lips. after the mayor’s suggestion that Fantine should be set at liberty. government. It was evident that Javert must have been exasperated beyond measure before he would permit himself to apostrophize the sergeant as he had done. society in its entirety. cold. and from Javert to Madeleine in turn. order. At the sound of Madeleine’s voice she turned around. and from that moment forth she uttered no word. his whole body agitated by an imperceptible quiver and an unprecedented occurrence. when M. nor dared so much as to breathe freely. according to which was speaking. and say to 338 Les Miserables . in view of the enormities of which he had been a witness for the past two hours. and let go of the latch as a thief relinquishes the article which he has stolen.

I have heard this woman.him.’ ‘I am obeying my duty. that cannot be.com 339 .’ replied M. ‘listen. I think.’ replied the mayor.’ said M.’ At this decisive word. she will not serve a single day. and I feel no hesitation in explaining matters to you. Madeleine. do not know what I see. You are an honest man.’ ‘Then content yourself with obeying. ‘This miserable woman has insulted a citizen. The insult is not to him but to the law. Mayor. Madeleine. ‘My own insult belongs to me. Here is the true state of the case: I was passing through the square just as you were leading this woman away. Javert ventured to fix a searching Free eBooks at Planet eBook. there were still groups of people standing about. with downcast eyes but a firm voice:— ‘Mr. I can do what I please about it.’ M.’ ‘I beg Monsieur le Maire’s pardon.’ Javert retorted:— ‘This wretch has just insulted Monsieur le Maire. I know what I am doing. Mr. Mayor. and I made inquiries and learned everything.’ ‘Why not?’ said M.’ ‘Inspector Javert. Madeleine replied gently:— ‘Heed this well.’ ‘That concerns me. My duty demands that this woman shall serve six months in prison. in a calm and conciliating tone. ‘the highest law is conscience.’ ‘And I. Madeleine.’ ‘Inspector Javert. it was the townsman who was in the wrong and who should have been arrested by properly conducted police.

Such things as there are in the world! In any case. and sixty-six of the code of criminal examination.’ said M. to the question of the gentleman. permit me—‘ ‘Not another word. Mayor—‘ ‘I refer you to article eighty-one of the law of the 13th of December. 340 Les Miserables . who is an elector and the proprietor of that handsome house with a balcony. it is for the first time in my life. and said in a severe voice which no one in the town had heard hitherto:— ‘The matter to which you refer is one connected with the municipal police. I am the judge. but he will permit me to remark that I am within the bounds of my authority. ‘But. According to the terms of articles nine. Monsieur le Maire.’ Then M.’ ‘But—‘ ‘Leave the room. eleven. I order that this woman shall be set at liberty.’ Javert ventured to make a final effort. in regard to arbitrary detention. Mr. I was present. this is a question of police regulations in the streets.’ ‘Monsieur le Maire. which forms the corner of the esplanade. fifteen. but in a tone of voice that was still profoundly respectful:— ‘I am sorry to oppose Monsieur le Maire. and concerns me.look on the mayor and to say. 1799. and I shall detain this woman Fantine. three stories high and entirely of cut stone. This woman flung herself on Monsieur Bamatabnois. I confine myself. Madeleine. Madeleine folded his arms. since Monsieur le Maire desires it.

her soul. that mayor whom she had so long regarded as the author of all her woes. then. dawn in her heart. she also was the prey to a strange confusion. she trembled. he had saved her! Had she. that which made her shudder from head to foot was the fact that this angel. the other was leading her back towards the light. her life. Madeleine she felt the frightful shades of hatred crumble and melt within her. she looked on in affright.Javert received the blow erect. her child. Nevertheless. the one spoke like her demon. Fantine stood aside from the door and stared at him in amazement as he passed. indescribable. When Javert had taken his departure. in combat before her very eyes. the other like her good angel. In this conflict. Madeleine turned to her and said to her in a deliberate voice. that Madeleine! And at the very moment when she had insulted him in so hideous a fashion. which was both joy. one of these men was drawing her towards darkness. He bowed to the very earth before the mayor and left the room. confidence and love. been mistaken? Must she change her whole soul? She did not know. like a seFree eBooks at Planet eBook.com 341 . and at every word uttered by M. viewed through the exaggerations of terror. M. She had just seen herself a subject of dispute between two opposing powers. like a Russian soldier. in his breast. this liberator. and. these two men had appeared to her like two giants. full in the face. She had seen two men who held in their hands her liberty. The angel had conquered the demon. was the very man whom she abhorred. strange to say. She listened in bewilderment. and something warm and ineffable.

To live free. and I feel that it is true. in Paris. rich. Why did you not apply to me? But here. respectable with Cosette. or you shall go to her. You shall not work any longer if you do not like. I was even ignorant of the fact that you had left my shop. I will pay your debts.’ This was more than Fantine could bear. She stared stupidly at this man who was talking to her. I believe that it is true.rious man who does not wish to weep and who finds some difficulty in speaking:— ‘I have heard you. 342 Les Miserables .— you have never ceased to be virtuous and holy in the sight of God. and could only give vent to two or three sobs. or where you please. I will send for your child. she knelt in front of M. And listen! I declare to you that if all is as you say. happy. ‘Oh! Oh! Oh!’ Her limbs gave way beneath her. I undertake the care of your child and yourself. to see all these realities of paradise blossom of a sudden in the midst of her misery. and before he could prevent her he felt her grasp his hand and press her lips to it. Oh! poor woman.—and I do not doubt it. You shall be honest and happy once more. I will give all the money you require. Then she fainted. You shall live here. I knew nothing about what you have mentioned. Madeleine. To have Cosette! To leave this life of infamy.

com 343 .BOOK SIXTH.—JAVERT Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

At last she said timidly:— ‘What are you doing?’ M. Madeleine had Fantine removed to that infirmary which he had established in his own house. Madeleine standing there and looking at something over her head. He had been 344 Les Miserables . however. She heard some one breathing close to her bed. She passed a part of the night in delirium and raving. and saw that it was fixed on a crucifix which was nailed to the wall. anguish. Madeleine was transfigured in Fantine’s eyes. she drew aside the curtain and saw M. She followed its direction. Fantine awoke. He seemed to her to be clothed in light. He was absorbed in a sort of prayer. towards midday. He confided her to the sisters. On the morrow. At length. Madeleine had been there for an hour. She gazed at him for a long time without daring to interrupt him. who put her to bed. A burning fever had come on. she fell asleep. Thenceforth.CHAPTER I THE BEGINNING OF REPOSE M. M. and supplication. His gaze was full of pity.

I have slept. poor mother. ‘For the martyr here below. responding to the first question which she had put to him as though he had just heard it:— ‘I was praying to the martyr there on high. Javert wrote a letter. He knew all now. He knew Fantine’s history in all its heart-rending details. The next morning be posted it himself at the office of M. You see this hell from which you have just emerged is the first form of heaven. the post-mistress and some other persons who saw the letter before it was sent off. He went on:— ‘You have suffered much. and the superscription ran: To Monsieur Chabouillet. sur M. thought that he was sending in his Free eBooks at Planet eBook. But she smiled on him with that sublime smile in which two teeth were lacking. Oh! do not complain. It was addressed to Paris.’ M. and replied:— ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Well. It was necessary to begin there.com 345 . you now have the dowry of the elect. and who recognized Javert’s handwriting on the cover.’ she replied. He took her hand. ‘I think that I am better.’ He answered. That same night. It is nothing.’ He sighed deeply. felt of her pulse.’ And he added in his own mind. It is thus that men are transformed into angels. As the affair in the station-house had been bruited about. It is not their fault they do not know how to go to work otherwise. Secretary of Monsieur le Prefet of Police.waiting for Fantine to awake. Madeleine had passed the night and the morning in making inquiries.

Some ninny has taken a fancy to the mother. ‘don’t let’s allow the child to go. Those who have seen the bas-reliefs of Rheims will recall the inflation of the lower lip of the wise virgins as they survey the foolish virgins. The sisters had at first only received and nursed ‘that woman’ with repugnance.’ ‘Christi!’ said Thenardier.’ In the meantime.—one for the doctor. Received on account. This lark is going to turn into a milch cow. sur M. ‘Make haste to bring Cosette. where her sick mother required her presence. and to fetch the child instantly to M. In this memorandum two indisputable items figured up over three hundred francs. telling them to pay themselves from that sum. It was only a question of a trifling substitution of names. Madeleine made haste to write to the Thenardiers. This dazzled Thenardier. M. ‘The devil!’ said the man to his wife. three hundred francs. He sent them three hundred francs. M. the other for the apothecary who had attended and physicked Eponine and Azelma through two long illnesses. I see through it.’ He replied with a very well drawn-up bill for five hundred and some odd francs. and wrote. Madeleine immediately sent three hundred francs more.. had not been ill.resignation. At the foot of the memorandum Thenardier wrote. The ancient scorn of the vestals for the ambubajae is one of the 346 Les Miserables . Cosette. ‘let’s not give up the child. Fantine owed them one hundred and twenty francs. as we have already said. She still remained in the infirmary. Fantine did not recover.

At that age the wings have not fallen off. astonished eyes. I shall gaze at her. She is an angel.’ M. perhaps. I could not have borne her sad. her condition seemed to become more grave from week to week. She said all kinds of humble and gentle things.com 347 . She may arrive at any moment. ‘Oh!’ she said. At that time Free eBooks at Planet eBook. I should not have liked to have my Cosette with me. One day the sisters heard her say amid her fever: ‘I have been a sinner.most profound instincts of feminine dignity. On the contrary. it will be a sign that God has pardoned me. Madeleine went to see her twice a day. my sisters. That handful of snow applied to her bare skin between her shoulder-blades had brought about a sudden suppression of perspiration. It was for her sake that I did evil. ‘how happy I am going to be!’ We have just said that she did not recover her health. the sisters felt it with the double force contributed by religion. She knows nothing at all. I shall feel the benediction of the good God when Cosette is here. you see. and that is why God pardons me. I am expecting her. it will do me good to see that innocent creature. and the mother in her provoked tenderness. But in a few days Fantine disarmed them. and each time she asked him:— ‘Shall I see my Cosette soon?’ He answered:— ‘To-morrow. While I was leading a bad life. but when I have my child beside me.’ And the mother’s pale face grew radiant. as a consequence of which the malady which had been smouldering within her for many years was violently developed at last.

etc.’ and gave a hundred insufficient reasons for it. I will go myself. M. and made her sign it:— ‘MONSIEUR THENARDIER:— 348 Les Miserables . That that would restore your health.’ He wrote the following letter to Fantine’s dictation. Fantine inquired:— ‘What did the doctor say?’ M. there still remained some petty but pressing debts in the neighborhood.’ ‘Well! Make haste and get it here!’ M.people were beginning to follow the fine Laennec’s fine suggestions in the study and treatment of chest maladies. Cosette was not quite well enough to take a journey in the winter. ‘he is right! But what do those Thenardiers mean by keeping my Cosette from me! Oh! she is coming. ‘I shall send some one to fetch Cosette!’ said Father Madeleine. Madeleine said to the doctor:— ‘Well?’ ‘Has she not a child which she desires to see?’ said the doctor. ‘He said that your child was to be brought speedily.. Madeleine forced himself to smile. ‘If necessary. Madeleine shuddered. etc. And then. ‘Yes. At last I behold happiness close beside me!’ In the meantime Thenardier did not ‘let go of the child. and they were collecting the bills for them. The doctor sounded Fantine’s chest and shook his head.’ ‘Oh!’ she rejoined.

Carve as we will the mysterious block of which our life is made. ‘FANTINE. the black vein of destiny constantly reappears in it. You will be paid for all the little things.You will deliver Cosette to this person.com 349 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ In the meantime a serious incident occurred. I have the honor to salute you with respect.

his eyes fixed on the docket which he was turning over and annotating. He could not help thinking of poor Fantine. occupied in arranging in advance some pressing matters connected with the mayor’s office. Javert entered. when he was informed that Police Inspector Javert was desirous of speaking with him. M. Madeleine had retained his seat near the fire. 350 Les Miserables .’ he said. and M. Javert had avoided him more than ever since the affair of the police-station.CHAPTER II HOW JEAN MAY BECOME CHAMP One morning M. He did not disturb himself on Javert’s account. Madeleine could not refrain from a disagreeable impression on hearing this name. in case he should decide to take the trip to Montfermeil. ‘Admit him. Madeleine had not seen him. and which contained the trials of the commission on highways for the infraction of police regulations. and it suited him to be glacial in his manner. Madeleine was in his study. pen in hand.

Javert advanced two or three paces into the study. If any physiognomist who had been familiar with Javert. nor distrust. in an attitude almost of discipline. and there he stood. ingenuous roughness of a man who has never been gentle and who has always been patient. he was subject to abrupt changes of opinion. whose back was turned to him. His physiognomy had never been more peculiar and startling. austere. without making a movement. that Javert had but just gone through some great interior struggle. perfectly erect. Like violent people in general. calm. he halted a few paces in the rear of the mayor’s arm-chair. Madeleine with a look in which there was neither rancor. he waited without uttering a word. The mayor did not look at him. with eyes cast Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the monk. honest. and had examined Javert at that moment. anger. with the cold. this spy who was incapable of a lie. hat in hand. this singular composite of the Roman. serious. and who had made a lengthy study of this savage in the service of civilization. without breaking the silence. in genuine humility and tranquil resignation. this unspotted police agent—if any physiognomist had known his secret and long-cherished aversion for M.Javert bestowed a respectful salute on the mayor.com 351 . On entering he bowed to M. sincere. and the corporal. and ferocious conscience. he would have said to himself. and halted. upright. Madeleine. but went on annotating this docket. Javert had nothing in his soul which he had not also in his countenance. his conflict with the mayor on the subject of Fantine. ‘What has taken place?’ It was evident to any one acquainted with that clear. the Spartan.

’ ‘What act?’ ‘An inferior agent of the authorities has failed in respect. At last the mayor laid down his pen and turned half round. That face. ‘You?’ ‘I. and in the gravest manner. Mr.’ 352 Les Miserables . His whole person breathed lowliness and firmness and an indescribable courageous despondency. a culpable act has been committed. and an expression which was half-way between that of a soldier in the presence of his officer and a criminal in the presence of his judge. Mayor. All the sentiments as well as all the memories which one might have attributed to him had disappeared. no longer bore any trace of anything but a melancholy depression. as impenetrable and simple as granite. ‘I. until it should please the mayor to turn round. ‘Well! What is it? What is the matter. preclude simplicity.’ said Javert. as it is my duty to do.’ ‘Who is the agent?’ asked M. Madeleine. Javert?’ Javert remained silent for an instant as though collecting his ideas. I have come to bring the fact to your knowledge.down. ‘This is the matter.’ ‘And who is the magistrate who has reason to complain of the agent?’ ‘You. Mayor. which did not. towards a magistrate. however. then raised his voice with a sort of sad solemnity. Mr.

’ ‘Come. ‘Mr. Mayor.’ M. six weeks ago. Be so to-day. and resumed. but that does not suffice.’ ‘Informed against me!’ ‘At the Prefecture of Police in Paris. then. Mr. Javert interrupted him:— ‘You will say that I might have handed in my resignation. Madeleine. and I informed against you. I was furious.’ ‘You shall understand. you were severe with me the other day.’ And after a pause he added:— ‘Mr. I have failed in my duty. still coldly and sadly:— ‘Mr. so it be. Mayor. and unjustly. Madeleine opened his mouth in amazement. I ought to be punished.’ said Javert. Mayor. ‘What nonsense is this? What is the meaning of this? What culpable act have you been guilty of towards me? What have you done to me? What are your wrongs with regard to me? You accuse yourself. Handing in one’s resignation is honorable. in consequence of the scene over that woman. That is well. Mayor. I have come to request you to instigate the authorities to dismiss me. Madeleine sat erect in his arm-chair.M. you wish to be superseded—‘ ‘Turned out. I must be turned out. ‘Turned out. now! Why?’ exclaimed M. Javert went on.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ Javert sighed from the very bottom of his chest. I do not understand.com 353 . with justice. with a severe air and his eyes still cast down.

which you drag a little. I took you for a certain Jean Valjean.— I hardly know what all. who had not raised his eyes. robbed a bishop. as it appears. who had taken up the docket again several moments before this.’ ‘A certain—What did you say the name was?’ ‘Jean Valjean. I had had an idea for a long time. resumed with an air of perfect indifference:— ‘And what reply did you receive?’ ‘That I was mad. on a public highway on the person of a little Savoyard. went on:— ‘I thought it was so. He was a convict whom I was in the habit of seeing twenty years ago. Javert. He disappeared eight years ago. who was not in the habit of laughing much oftener than Javert himself. On leaving the galleys. I denounced you at the Prefecture!’ M. when I was adjutant-guard of convicts at Toulon. your leg. accompanied with violence. Madeleine. burst out laughing now:— ‘As a mayor who had encroached on the province of the police?’ ‘As an ex-convict. your skill in marksmanship. Madeleine.’ ‘Well?’ 354 Les Miserables . I fancied. I did this thing! Wrath impelled me. inquiries which you had caused to be made at Faverolles. the strength of your loins.—absurdities! But. this Jean Valjean.’ The mayor turned livid. a resemblance. In short.M. the adventure with old Fauchelevant. at all events. then he committed another theft. and he has been sought. no one knows how.

a theft had been committed. It seems that there was in the neighborhood near Ailly-le-Haut-Clocher an old fellow who was called Father Champmathieu. gazed fixedly at Javert. My Champmathieu was arrested. branches of trees broken. who is detained for I know not what. where the departmental prison is situated. no sooner had Champmathieu arrived than Brevet exclaims: ‘Eh! Why. I know that man! He is a fagot![4] Take a good look Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Lately. because of good behavior. Mr.’ ‘I am forced to do so. since the real Jean Valjean has been found.com 355 . No one knows what such people subsist on. Father Champmathieu was arrested for the theft of some cider apples from—Well.’ ‘It is lucky that you recognize the fact. The scamp is locked up. He still had the branch of apple-tree in his hand. ‘The jail being in a bad condition. No one paid any attention to him. a wall scaled. Up to this point it was merely an affair of a misdemeanor. Mayor. Madeleine was holding dropped from his hand. he raised his head.‘Well. But here is where Providence intervened. and who has been appointed turnkey of the house. and said with his indescribable accent:— ‘Ah!’ Javert continued:— ‘This is the way it is. In this prison at Arras there is an ex-convict named Brevet. they were right. no matter.’ The sheet of paper which M. Mayor. Mr. the examining magistrate finds it convenient to transfer Champmathieu to Arras. He was a very wretched creature. last autumn.

When such people are not mud. The case is investigated. It is not known where they have gone. notably at Faverolles. and nothing was found. You know that among those classes a family often disappears. my good man! You are Jean Valjean!’ ‘Jean Valjean! who’s Jean Valjean?’ Champmathieu feigns astonishment. There all trace of him was lost. and behold him transformed into Champmathieu. and to have had a daughter. what was Jean Valjean? A pruner of trees. This Valjean’s Christian name was Jean. a pruner of trees in various localities. And then. they are dust. Parbleu! You understand. What more natural to suppose than that.’ says Brevet. who was a laundress. The family of Jean Valjean is no longer there. A long time afterwards he was seen again in Auvergne. there is 356 Les Miserables . This is what they discovered: This Champmathieu had been. he should have taken his mother’s name for the purpose of concealing himself. we were there together. Now. The thing was well ventilated for me. and his mother’s surname was Mathieu. Search was made. Where? At Faverolles. The local pronunciation turns Jean into Chan—he is called Chan Mathieu. thirty years ago. and have called himself Jean Mathieu? He goes to Auvergne. as the beginning of the story dates thirty years back. ‘You are Jean Valjean! You have been in the galleys of Toulon.at me. before going to the galleys for theft. then in Paris. do you not? Inquiries were made at Faverolles. ‘Don’t play the innocent dodge. Another fact.’ Champmathieu denies it. it was twenty years ago. but that has not been proved. where he is said to have been a wheelwright. on emerging from the galleys. Our man offers no opposition. You follow me.

’ M. Inquiries were made at Toulon. mechanically taking pinches of powdered wood for blotting ink from the wooden bowl which stood on the table. with that mournful laugh which comes from profound conviction. his face incorruptible. ‘O! Sure!’ He stood there thoughtfully for a moment. the same air. Mayor. when I thought that I had that same Jean Valjean here.— the same height. in short. They do not hesitate. there are only two convicts in existence who have seen Jean Valjean. I am sorry.no longer any one at Faverolles who knew Jean Valjean. and he added:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook. You can imagine whether this surprised me.—he is fifty-four. the truth is the truth. but that man is Jean Valjean. Besides Brevet. Champmathieu is conducted to me—‘ [4] An ex-convict. and that Jean Valjean is at Arras. I write to the examining judge. he is Jean Valjean for them as well as for Brevet. it is he. and are sentenced for life. a very low voice:— ‘You are sure?’ Javert began to laugh. The same age. They are taken from the galleys and confronted with the pretended Champmathieu. in the power of the authorities. and as melancholy as ever:— ‘Mr. they are Cochepaille and Chenildieu. Madeleine. he sends for me.com 357 . the same man. Madeleine resumed in. I recognized him also. I was told that I had lost my reason. ‘Well?’ interposed M. It was precisely at this moment that I forwarded my denunciation to the Prefecture in Paris. Javert replied.

he says. for a man it is a misdemeanor. I beg your pardon. who six weeks before had humiliated him in the presence of the whole station-house. Mr. he has his previous conviction against him. But Jean Valjean is a sly dog.’ Javert. for a convict it is a crime. To climb a wall. he would not be Jean Valjean. Mayor. it is far better. it is the galleys for life. If he is Jean Valjean. he would cry out—the kettle sings before the fire.—M. to purloin apples. and bade him ‘leave the room. Mr. Oh! the rogue is clever! But it makes no difference.’—Javert. Any other man would have felt that things were getting hot for him. The deuce! there is plenty to dispute in the matter. And then. that haughty man. he would struggle. he pretends to be stupid. Mayor. is there not? Yes. as he addressed these grave and supplicating words to the man. But he has not the appearance of understanding. Robbing and housebreaking—it is all there. to break a branch. there is the affair with the little Savoyard. is a mischievous trick in a child. The proofs 358 Les Miserables . for any one but Jean Valjean. It is no longer a question of correctional police. That is the way I recognized him. ‘I am Champmathieu. It is no longer a matter of a few days in prison. et cetera. I hope.‘And even now that I have seen the real Jean Valjean. it’s a bad business. who will return. and I won’t depart from that!’ He has an astonished air. was unconsciously full of simplicity and dignity. it is a matter for the Court of Assizes. I do not see how I could have thought otherwise. Madeleine made no other reply to his prayer than the abrupt question:— ‘And what does this man say?’ ‘Ah! Indeed.

you will betake yourself at once to the house of the woman Buseaupied.are there. In truth. Javert. He must be punished. I shall go there to give my testimony. and you will prepare documents. You will tell her that she must enter her complaint against carter Pierre Chesnelong. and Rue du Garraud-Blanc. But I am giving you a great deal of work. I have been summoned. and taken up his docket. The case has been taken to the Assizes at Arras. and was turning over the leaves tranquilly. you will verify the infractions of police regulations which have been reported to me in the Rue Guibourg. Are you not to be absent? Did you not tell me that you were going to Arras on that matter in a week or ten days?’ ‘Sooner than that. at Widow Doris’s. who sells herbs at the corner of the Rue Saint-Saulve. I thought that I had said to Monsieur le Maire that Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He turned to Javert:— ‘That will do. and we have pressing business on hand. You will then go to M. Madeleine had turned to his desk again. then?’ ‘Why. all these details interest me but little. He complained that there is a gutter on the adjoining house which discharges rain-water on his premises. at Madame Renee le Bosse’s. Charcellay. The man is a brute. and is undermining the foundations of his house. the old scamp will be condemned. He has been recognized by four persons.’ M. like a busy man. We are wasting our time. reading and writing by turns. After that. Mayor. Javert.’ ‘On what day.com 359 . Mr. Rue Montre-de-Champigny. who came near crushing this woman and her child.

there is still something of which I must remind you.’ M. ‘Excuse me. Mayor.’ M. which is certain. Madeleine made an imperceptible movement.’ Javert gazed at M. The judgment will be pronounced to-morrow evening at latest. ‘What is it now?’ demanded M. you are a man of honor. Madeleine rose. ‘Javert. ‘that the matter concerns me. and that I am to set out by diligence to-night.’ ‘I repeat.’ ‘What is it?’ ‘That I must be dismissed. Moreover. Madeleine. and said in a tranquil voice:— ‘Mr. And he dismissed Javert with a wave of the hand. ‘Mr. You exaggerate your fault.’ ‘That is well. I cannot grant you that. you deserve promotion instead of degradation. heeding his own thought only. and I esteem you.the case was to be tried to-morrow. Mayor. this is an offence which concerns me.’ said M. I wish you to retain your post. But I shall not wait for the sentence. in whose depths his not very enlightened but pure and rigid conscience seemed visible. continued:— 360 Les Miserables . Mr.’ said he. Mayor.’ replied M. Javert did not withdraw.’ But Javert. Javert. at the most. Madeleine. Madeleine with his candid eyes. Madeleine. I shall return here as soon as my deposition has been taken. ‘And how long will the case last?’ ‘One day.

I have often been severe in the course of my life towards others. the difficulty lies in being just. I should be a blackguard! Those who say. very serious. you. I must Free eBooks at Planet eBook. It is our right to cherish suspicion. ‘That blackguard of a Javert!’ would be in the right. Ought I to spare myself more than others? No! What! I should be good for nothing but to chastise others. Now. a magistrate! That is serious. with the object of wreaking my vengeance. I do not desire that you should treat me kindly. That is nothing. I. not I! You would have seen! Mr. is what I call false kindness. I am not exaggerating. I want none of it for myself. a respectable man. I have denounced you as a convict. Mayor. your kindness roused sufficient bad blood in me when it was directed to others. I should not have been kind to you. Mayor. and have expelled him. This is the way I reason: I have suspected you unjustly. the man who is down against the man who is up in the world. although suspicion directed above ourselves is an abuse.com 361 . a mayor.‘So far as exaggeration is concerned. That is just. the police agent against the mayor. in a fit of rage. one word more. Mayor. But without proofs. if I were not severe towards myself. That is the sort of kindness which disorganizes society. an agent of the authorities! If one of my subordinates had done what I have done. Mr. I should have declared him unworthy of the service. and not myself! Why. I have done well. The kindness which consists in upholding a woman of the town against a citizen. Good God! it is very easy to be kind. Well? Stop. Mr. I have insulted authority in your person. all the justice that I have done would become injustice. Come! if you had been what I thought you.

which died away on the pavement of the corridor.’ He withdrew. ‘I shall continue to serve until I am superseded. the good of the service demands an example. when I have proceeded with vigor against rascals.’ All this was uttered in a proud. if I ever catch you in fault. And he offered him his hand. and directed his steps towards the door. I will till the soil. despairing. Mayor. Mr. cashiered. you may rest at your ease!’ I have flinched. which lent indescribable grandeur to this singular.’ he said. 362 Les Miserables . So much the worse! Come.’ said M. it makes no difference to me. I have arms. Mr. ‘If you flinch. Mayor. but this must not be. sure step. discharged. from the moment when I have misused the police. expelled! That is well. I simply require the discharge of Inspector Javert. and said in a wild voice:— ‘Excuse me. I am no more than a police spy. M. humble. There he wheeled round.’ Then he bowed profoundly. When I have subdued malefactors. Mayor. Javert recoiled. I have caught myself in a fault. and with eyes still downcast:— ‘Mr.’ He added between his teeth:— ‘A police spy.treat myself as I would treat any other man. I have often said to myself. Madeleine remained thoughtfully listening to the firm. honest man. yet convinced tone. A mayor does not offer his hand to a police spy. yes. Madeleine. ‘We shall see.

BOOK SEVENTH.—THE CHAMPMATHIEU AFFAIR Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 363 .

bore the names of Sister Perpetue and Sister Simplice.CHAPTER I SISTER SIMPLICE The incidents the reader is about to peruse were not all known at M. Madeleine went to see Fantine according to his wont. a sister of charity in a coarse style. M. who had entered the service of God as one enters any other service. On the afternoon following the visit of Javert. which we preserve out of respect for the truth. like all sisters of charity. Lazariste ladies. The two nuns who performed the services of nurse in the infirmary. But the small portion of them which became known left such a memory in that town that a serious gap would exist in this book if we did not narrate them in their most minute details. These rustics 364 Les Miserables . She was a nun as other women are cooks. Sister Perpetue was an ordinary villager. he had Sister Simplice summoned. Before entering Fantine’s room. The monastic orders gladly accept this heavy peasant earthenware. which is easily fashioned into a Capuchin or an Ursuline. Among these details the reader will encounter two or three improbable circumstances. This type is not so very rare. sur M.

in which he mingles as much freedom as servitude: ‘They shall have for their convent only the house of the sick. She was so gentle that she appeared fragile. Beside Sister Perpetue. austere. No one could have told Sister Simplice’s age. for veil only modesty. with a waxen pallor. and ruddy. She was a person— we dare not say a woman—who was gentle. She touched Free eBooks at Planet eBook. sugared the potion according to the bigotry or the hypocrisy of the invalid. well-bred. for cell only a hired room. was bold. and who had never lied. was crabbed with the dying. she was the taper beside the candle. cold. for chapel only their parish church. honest.com 365 . who chattered her patois. droned. but she was more solid than granite. roughly. the one turns into the other without much effort. The transition from a drover to a Carmelite is not in the least violent. the fund of ignorance common to the village and the cloister is a preparation ready at hand. stoned their death agony with prayers mumbled in a rage. and it becomes a frock. for enclosure only obedience. Sister Simplice was white. and places the boor at once on the same footing as the monk: a little more amplitude in the smock. Vincent de Paul has divinely traced the features of the Sister of Charity in these admirable words. and it seemed as though she would never grow old. treated her patients abruptly. for cloister only the streets of the town and the wards of the hospitals. Sister Perpetue was a robust nun from Marines near Pontoise. grumbled. for gratings only the fear of God.are utilized for the rough work of devotion.’ This ideal was realized in the living person of Sister Simplice: she had never been young. almost flung God in their faces.

To lie a little is not possible: he who lies. it was the accent of her virtue. There was not a single spider’s web. That is what she thought. Little lie. the sacred truth. There was. innocent lie. so she did. for any interest whatever. Her smile was white. finding in this harsh contact a continual reminder of heaven and of God. and as she thought. never to have said. silence in her speech. even in indifference. The result was the whiteness which we have mentioned—a whiteness which covered even her lips and her eyes with radiance. She did not.the unhappy with fingers that were charmingly pure and fine. any single thing which was not the truth. lies the whole lie. her glance was white. The Abbe Sicard speaks of Sister Simplice in a letter to the deaf-mute Massieu. She was almost renowned in the congregation for this imperturbable veracity. This delicacy accommodated itself to the serge gown. on the glass window of that conscience. Satan has two names. To lie is the very face of the demon. Never to have lied. However pure and sincere we may be. we all bear upon our candor the crack of the little. so to speak. was Sister Simplice’s distinctive trait. not a grain of dust. as we know. he is called Satan and Lying. she had taken the name of Simplice by special choice. On entering the order of Saint Vincent de Paul. she said just what was necessary. innocent lie—does such a thing exist? To lie is the absolute form of evil. Simplice of Sicily. Let us emphasize one detail. and she possessed a tone of voice which would have equally edified a confessional or enchanted a drawing-room. is the saint who preferred to allow both her breasts to be torn off rather than to say that she had been born at Segesta 366 Les Miserables .

which the sister recalled later on. and she had devoted herself almost exclusively to her care. He urged every one repeatedly not to allow the invalid to want for anything. Madeleine’s appearance every day as one awaits a ray of warmth and joy. She did not understand Latin. Sister Simplice. But this was explained when it became known that the docFree eBooks at Planet eBook.com 367 . had had two faults which she had gradually corrected: she had a taste for dainties. She never read anything but a book of prayers printed in Latin. On leaving the sister. but she understood the book.’ M. in coarse type. She said to the sisters. It was noticed that there was a moment when his countenance became very sombre. ‘I only live when Monsieur le Maire is here. to Fantine’s great delight.when she had been born at Syracuse— a lie which would have saved her. and she liked to receive letters. Only he remained an hour instead of half an hour. Fantine awaited M. This pious woman had conceived an affection for Fantine. Madeleine took Sister Simplice apart and recommended Fantine to her in a singular tone. This patron saint suited this soul. M. he approached Fantine. Madeleine she asked him:— ‘And Cosette?’ He replied with a smile:— ‘Soon. on her entrance into the order. As soon as she saw M. Madeleine was the same as usual with Fantine.’ She had a great deal of fever that day. probably feeling a latent virtue there.

’ Then he returned to the town-hall.tor had bent down to his ear and said to him. and the clerk observed him attentively examining a road map of France which hung in his study. 368 Les Miserables . He wrote a few figures on a bit of paper with a pencil. ‘She is losing ground fast.

stood motionless. He laid his hand quickly on the knocker and lifted it.’ In order to reach this Scaufflaire. then turned about.CHAPTER II THE PERSPICACITY OF MASTER SCAUFFLAIRE From the town-hall he betook himself to the extremity of the town. Madeleine resided. and resumed his way with a sort of haste which had not been apparent previously. as though in thought. The cure was. the shortest way was to take the little-frequented street in which was situated the parsonage of the parish in which M. and after the lapse of a few seconds. and this person noticed this: After the mayor had passed the priest’s house he halted. instead of allowing the knocker to fall abruptly. then he paused again and stopped short.com 369 . to a Fleming named Master Scaufflaer. At the moment when M. it was said. who let out ‘horses and cabriolets as desired. which had an iron knocker. and retraced his steps to the door of the parsonage. a worthy. Madeleine arrived in front of the parsonage there was but one passer-by in the street. he placed it gently. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and sensible man. French Scaufflaire. respectable.

What do you mean by a good horse?’ ‘I mean a horse which can travel twenty leagues in a day. ‘all my horses are good. 6. Mayor. Madeleine found Master Scaufflaire at home. Bah! He reared. he laid everybody flat on the ground.’ he said. engaged in stitching a harness over. and no one knew 370 Les Miserables . He is full of fire. ‘I have just what you want. ‘Master Scaufflaire. The figures were 5. My little white horse—you may have seen him pass occasionally.’ said the Fleming.’ ‘And how long can he rest at the end of his journey?’ ‘He must be able to set out again on the next day if necessary. ‘total. 8 1/2.’ ‘The deuce! the deuce! And it is twenty leagues?’ M. as well say twenty leagues. nineteen and a half. They wanted to make a saddle-horse of him at first. Madeleine drew from his pocket the paper on which he had pencilled some figures. he kicked.’ returned the Fleming. He was thought to be vicious. He showed it to the Fleming.’ he inquired. he is a small beast from Lower Boulonnais.’ ‘The deuce!’ said the Fleming. Mayor.’ ‘Hitched to a cabriolet?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘To traverse the same road?’ ‘Yes. ‘You see. ‘Twenty leagues!’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Mr.M. ‘have you a good horse?’ ‘Mr.

It does not suit his ideas to be a saddle-horse.’ ‘That is understood. you will give him half an hour’s breathing spell midway of the road. and some one must be by while he is eating to prevent the stable boy of the inn from stealing his oats. Monsieur le Maire will travel alone and without baggage.what to do with him. he will eat.’ ‘Does Monsieur le Maire know how to drive?’ ‘Yes. he is as gentle as a girl. and in less than eight hours. he goes like the wind.com 371 . Ah! indeed he must not be mounted. Carry? No.’ ‘State them.’ ‘But as Monsieur le Maire will have no one with him. in order not to overload the horse?’ ‘Agreed. I harnessed him to a carriage. for I have noticed that in inns the oats are more often drunk by the stable men than eaten by the horses.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ ‘In the second place—is the cabriolet for Monsieur le Maire?’ ‘Yes. That is what he wanted.’ ‘Well.’ ‘In the first place. he will be obliged to take the trouble himself of seeing that the oats are not stolen. ‘Draw? Yes.’ ‘Some one will be by. sir.’ ‘And he will accomplish the trip?’ ‘Your twenty leagues all at a full trot. Every one has his ambition. I bought him.’ We must suppose that is what he said to himself. But here are the conditions.

Madeleine did not reply.’ replied Scaufflaire. and the beast’s food to be at Monsieur le Maire’s expense.’ ‘I consent to that.‘I am to have thirty francs a day. Master Scaufflaire continued:— ‘That it may rain?’ M. Madeleine raised his head and said:— ‘The tilbury and the horse will be in front of my door tomorrow morning at half-past four o’clock. Madeleine preserved silence.’ ‘Fourthly. Monsieur le Maire must consent to travel in a little tilbury that I own. but it has no cover.’ ‘It is light. Monsieur le Maire. The Fleming resumed:— ‘That it is very cold?’ M. and would fatigue the horse.’ ‘That makes no difference to me. for such a journey a cabriolet would be too heavy. scratching a speck in the wood of the table with his thumbnail. then. Madeleine drew three napoleons from his purse and laid them on the table. ‘Here is the pay for two days in advance.’ ‘Has Monsieur le Maire reflected that we are in the middle of winter?’ M.’ ‘Of course. Where is Monsieur le Maire going?’ 372 Les Miserables . he resumed with that careless air which the Flemings understand so well how to mingle with their shrewdness:— ‘But this is what I am thinking of now: Monsieur le Maire has not told me where he is going.’ M. The days of rest to be paid for also—not a farthing less.

and this time he did not return. Monsieur le Maire. ‘Monsieur Scaufflaire. You shall give me back the sum at my return. Are there many descends between here and the place whither you are going?’ ‘Do not forget to be at my door at precisely half-past four o’clock to-morrow morning.’ said he.’ ‘Here it is. with a broad smile.He had been thinking of nothing else since the beginning of the conversation.’ said the Fleming. ‘at what sum do you estimate the value of the horse and tilbury which you are to let to me. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Monsieur le Maire. it was the mayor once more.’ M. At what value do you estimate your horse and cabriolet?’ ‘Five hundred francs. ‘So be it. Monsieur le Maire. ‘Are your horse’s forelegs good?’ said M. He still wore the same impassive and preoccupied air.’ as he himself said some time afterwards. then left the room. Madeleine. Madeleine laid a bank-bill on the table. The Fleming remained ‘utterly stupid.— the one bearing the other?’ ‘The one dragging the other. Well?’ ‘Does Monsieur le Maire wish to purchase them or me?’ ‘No. but he did not know why he had not dared to put the question.’ replied M. ‘Yes.com 373 . but I wish to guarantee you in any case. The mayor had been gone two or three minutes when the door opened again. You must hold him in a little when going down hill. and he took his departure. Madeleine.

’ ‘What?’ ‘It is five leagues from here to Hesdin.’ This cashier occupied a room situated directly under 374 Les Miserables .’ said the husband. Madeleine had returned home.Master Scaufflaire experienced a frightful regret that he had not said a thousand francs. and it lay on the chimney-piece. eight and a half from Saint-Pol to Arras. He ascended to his room. which was a very simple act. ‘I don’t believe it. He had taken the longest way to return from Master Scaufflaire’s. adding:— ‘Is Monsieur le Maire ill? I thought he had a rather singular air. Besides the horse and tilbury together were worth but a hundred crowns. M. M. six from Hesdin to Saint-Pol. ‘Where the devil could Monsieur le Maire be going?’ They held counsel together.’ said the wife. and he had wished to avoid it. and she mentioned it to the cashier when he came home. ‘Five.’ Meanwhile. The Fleming picked it up and studied it. six. M. Nevertheless. The Fleming called his wife. as though the parsonage door had been a temptation for him. noticed that the latter’s light was extinguished at half-past eight. ‘He is going to Paris. the portress of the factory.’ He turned to his wife:— ‘I have found out. eight and a half? That must designate the posting relays. at the same time. Madeleine had forgotten the paper with the figures on it. and there he shut himself up. and related the affair to her. who was. He is going to Arras. since he liked to go to bed early. Madeleine’s only servant.

He paid no heed to the portress’s words. quite awake now. The reflection wavered. usually. Towards midnight he woke up with a start. An hour or two later he waked again. He listened. as though some one were walking in the room above him. Madeleine’s room. but now it was pale and peaceful. and staring. as though it came rather from a fire which had been lighted than from a candle. but went to bed and to sleep. The window was still open. like the reflection of a lamp or of a candle. The shadow of the window-frame was not shown. The same step was still passing slowly and regularly back and forth overhead. then a piece of furniture was disarranged. it could only come from the window of M.com 375 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook. This is what had taken place in M. The cashier fell asleep again. and then shut again. and recognized M. The fact that this window was open in such cold weather was surprising. Madeleine’s step. then a pause ensued. which indicated that the window was wide open. Madeleine’s chamber. The reflection was still visible on the wall. it was a footstep pacing back and forth. He listened more attentively. Madeleine’s chamber until he rose in the morning. A moment later the cashier heard a noise which resembled that of a cupboard being opened.M. Madeleine’s chamber. there was no noise in M. then the step began again. This struck him as strange. in his sleep he had heard a noise above his head. The cashier sat up in bed. from the direction of the rays. and through his window-panes he saw the reddish gleam of a lighted window reflected on the opposite wall.

it is the inmost recesses of the soul. more complicated. it is the battlefield of the passions. Conscience is the chaos of chimeras. There is a spectacle more grand than the sea. Madeleine is no other than Jean Valjean. To make the poem of the human conscience. and more infinite. would be to blend all epics into one superior and definitive epic. We have already gazed into the depths of this conscience. and of temptations. The eye of the spirit can nowhere find more dazzling brilliance and more shadow than in man. the lair of ideas of which we are ashamed. it can fix itself on no other thing which is more formidable. were it only with reference to a single man. We do so not without emotion and trepidation. already divined that M. of lusts. 376 Les Miserables . it is the pandemonium of sophisms. were it only in connection with the basest of men.CHAPTER III A TEMPEST IN A SKULL The reader has. the moment has now come when we must take another look into it. no doubt. it is heaven: there is a spectacle more grand than heaven. There is nothing more terrible in existence than this sort of contemplation. the furnace of dreams. more mysterious.

What a solemn thing is this infinity which every man bears within him. gaze into that obscurity.—to conceal his name and to sanctify his life. nevertheless. crept from town to town. He succeeded in disappearing. at certain hours. conceived the idea which we have mentioned. gaze into that soul. to escape men and to return to God. skirmishes of dragons and hydras and swarms of phantoms. Let us enter.. as we have seen. before which he hesitated. sur M.. as in Dante. It was more than a transformation. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. What the Bishop had wished to make of him. reassured and hopeful. and look behind. happy in feeling his conscience saddened by the past and the first half of his existence belied by the last. Here is one before us. it was a transfiguration. battles of giants. succeeded in rendering himself safe from seizure and inaccessible. having henceforth only two thoughts. sold the Bishop’s silver. From that moment forth he was.com 377 . beneath that external silence. visionary circles. are in progress. upon whose threshold we hesitate. reserving only the candlesticks as a souvenir.Penetrate. sur M. past the livid face of a human being who is engaged in reflection. he lived in peace. as in Milton. established at M. a totally different man. and. traversed France. There. We have but little to add to what the reader already knows of what had happened to Jean Valjean after the adventure with Little Gervais. like those recorded in Homer. came to M. accomplished what we have related. that he carried out. and which he measures with despair against the caprices of his brain and the actions of his life! Alighieri one day met with a sinister-looking door. thenceforth.

In general. Sometimes. as though he thought. it must be confessed. and as though intoxicated with the sinister eccentricity of his destiny. they turned him towards the gloom.These two thoughts were so closely intertwined in his mind that they formed but a single one there. they conspired to regulate the conduct of his life. collected information regarding the families at Faverolles. and just. both were equally absorbing and imperative and ruled his slightest actions. they conflicted. sur M. At the moment when that name. and saved old Fauchelevent’s life. He understood this confusedly but profoundly at the very first words pronounced by Javert. engaged in so serious a struggle. worn mourning for him. holy. called M. he was struck with stupor. they counselled him to the same things. Never had the two ideas which governed the unhappy man whose sufferings we are narrating. summoned and interrogated all the little Savoyards who passed that way. the man whom all the country of M. It seemed. and through 378 Les Miserables . In that case. as we have already remarked. as the reader will remember. however. which he had buried beneath so many layers. At the same time. was so strangely articulated. they rendered him kindly and simple. Thus. that his first duty was not towards himself. nothing just like this had yet presented itself. in spite of all his reserve and all his prudence. he had preserved the Bishop’s candlesticks. when the latter entered his study. following the example of all those who have been wise. despite the disquieting insinuations of Javert. Madeleine did not hesitate to sacrifice the first to the second—his security to his virtue.

He remained in this state during the rest of the day. shook off thought as to what he had to do. and resumed his calmness as a warrior picks up his buckler. at the bottom of which lay heaven. Then it passed away. that would have been beautiful. He was carried away. by the instinct of self-preservation. at first. but had continued to walk with the same step towards this yawning precipice. if this man had not flinched for an instant. ‘We will see! We will see!’ He repressed this first. generous instinct. postponed all decision with the firmness of terror. took into consideration Javert’s presence. a whirlwind within. He took no ‘preservative measures. after so many years of repentance and abnegation. He felt shadows filled with thunders and lightnings descending upon his head.’ as they may be called. and he said to himself. We must render an account of the things which went on in this soul. a profound tranquillity without. stifled his emotions. It would be beautiful. even in the presence of so terrible a conjecture. and recoiled before heroism. like a soldier at the approach of an assault.com 379 . As he listened to Javert. and we can only tell what there was there. EveryFree eBooks at Planet eBook. but it was not thus. no doubt. to take that Champmathieu out of prison and place himself there.this stupor he felt that shudder which precedes great shocks. in the midst of a penitence admirably begun. the first thought which occurred to him was to go. he rallied all his ideas in haste. He bent like an oak at the approach of a storm. this was as painful and as poignant as an incision in the living flesh. to run and denounce himself. that great danger. after the Bishop’s holy words.

He dined with a good deal of appetite. as he was. except that he had received a great blow. A moment later he extinguished his light. beyond the shadow of any suspicion. On returning to his room. and jostling together in his brain. he communed with himself. and he engaged the tilbury from Scaufflaire in order to be prepared in any event. He feared lest something more should enter. By whom? Alas! That on which he desired to close the door had already entered. and found it unprecedented. He repaired to Fantine’s bed of suffering. in case he should be obliged to be absent himself.— his conscience. and prolonged his visit. there could be nothing out of the way in being a witness to what was to take place. as usual. and without having the least in the world made up his mind to this trip.thing was still confused. and he could have told nothing about himself. 380 Les Miserables . through a kindly instinct. and bolted his door. that which he desired to blind was staring him in the face. He was barricading himself against possibilities. so unprecedented that in the midst of his revery he rose from his chair. he said to himself that being. He had a vague feeling that he might be obliged to go to Arras. It seemed to him as though he might be seen. telling himself that he must behave thus. His trouble was so great that he could not perceive the form of a single idea distinctly. and recommend her well to the sisters. moved by some inexplicable impulse of anxiety. He examined the situation. it embarrassed him.

His head was burning. he felt himself invisible.—not the whole Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he deluded himself at first. Gradually. He returned and seated himself at the table. He went to the window and threw it wide open. and so far from suspecting anything! What was I doing yesterday at this hour? What is there in this incident? What will the end be? What is to be done?’ This was the torment in which he found himself. His brain had lost its power of retaining ideas. leaned his head on his hand. and he was able to catch a glimpse with precision of the reality. and began to meditate in the dark. the bolt once drawn. he had a feeling of security and of solitude. the candle extinguished. however.His conscience. and from which he sought to draw proof and resolution. God. he thought himself impregnable. they passed like waves. and that he spoke to me in that manner? Who can that Champmathieu be? So he resembles me! Is it possible? When I reflect that yesterday I was so tranquil. Nothing but anguish extricated itself from this tumult which overwhelmed his will and his reason.com 381 . There were no stars in the sky. Nevertheless. that is to say. The first hour passed in this manner. vague outlines began to take form and to fix themselves in his meditation. Then he took possession of himself: he set his elbows on the table. and he clutched his brow in both hands to arrest them. ‘Where do I stand? Am not I dreaming? What have I heard? Is it really true that I have seen that Javert.

He began by recognizing the fact that. capable of dissipating the mystery in which he had enveloped himself. Jean Valjean. than that of rendering his existence at once clearer and more impenetrable. would suddenly emerge from the darkness and rise in front of him.situation. during his sleepless nights. Independently of the severe and religious aim which he had assigned to his actions. all that he had made up to that day had been nothing but a hole in which to bury his name. when the hideous words. That which he had always feared most of all in his hours of self-communion. was to ever hear that name pronounced. if so it seemed good to him. out of his confrontation with the phantom of Jean Valjean. critical and extraordinary as was this situation. that this prodigious incident would have no other result. he was completely master of it. and that. Assuredly. the good 382 Les Miserables . would suddenly blaze forth above his head. that that light would but produce an obscurity more dense. so far as he was concerned. also. he had said to himself. He shuddered at the very thought that this was possible. if any one had said to him at such moments that the hour would come when that name would ring in his ears. but some of the details. that this rent veil would but increase the mystery. that on the day when that name made its reappearance it would cause his new life to vanish from about him. and—who knows?— perhaps even his new soul within him. when that formidable light. and that that name would not menace him. This only caused an increase of his stupor. that that would be the end of all things for him. that this earthquake would solidify his edifice.

at this moment. He came more and more to an understanding of his position.com 383 . it was necessary that some one. and he acknowledged this to himself: That his place was empty in the galleys. present in society under the name Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and that he found himself slipping down a declivity in the middle of the night. himself or that other man.and worthy citizen Monsieur Madeleine would emerge more honored. and then he said to himself. whom destiny had mistaken for him. ‘that. It seemed to him that he had but just waked up from some inexplicable dream. he would have tossed his head and regarded the words as those of a madman. He distinctly perceived in the darkness a stranger. and whom she was thrusting into the gulf in his stead. a man unknown to him. on the very brink of the abyss. and more respected than ever—if any one had told him that. erect. shivering. and that. in order that the gulf might close once more. that this was inevitable and fatal. he had a substitute. and God had permitted these wild fancies to become real things! His revery continued to grow clearer. as regards himself. The light became complete. more peaceful. that the theft from little Gervais had led him back to it. being present in the galleys in the person of that Champmathieu. that this vacant place would await him. holding back all in vain. Well. all this was precisely what had just come to pass. and draw him on until he filled it. should fall into it: he had only let things take their course. that it appeared that a certain Champmathieu had that ill luck. all that accumulation of impossibilities was a fact. it was still awaiting him. that do what he would.

he will leave me in peace. always making a point at me. that terrible instinct which seemed to have divined me. all is over. Madeleine. and which may be called an outburst of inward laughter. that some catastrophe had happened to me! After all. a sort of convulsion of the conscience which stirs up all that there is doubtful in the heart. provided that he did not prevent men from sealing over the head of that Champmathieu this stone of infamy which. like the stone of the sepulchre. absolutely turned from the trail: henceforth he is satisfied. that frightful hunting-dog. Who knows? it is even probable that he will wish to leave town! And all this has been brought about without any aid from me. what then?’ he said to himself. he has his Jean Valjean. which no man feels more than two or three times in the course of his life. who has been annoying me so long. which had divined me— good God! and which followed me everywhere. that there suddenly took place in him that indescribable movement. I had but one partly open door through which my past might invade my life. ‘what am I afraid of? What is there in all that for me to think about? I am safe. that is not my fault in 384 Les Miserables .’ All this was so strange and so violent. never to rise again. which is composed of irony. people would think. if it does bring harm to some one. he had nothing more to fear. is thrown off the scent. and of despair. ‘Well. and behold that door is walled up forever! That Javert. He hastily relighted his candle. of joy. engaged elsewhere. falls once. and I count for nothing in it! Ah! but where is the misfortune in this? Upon my honor.of M. to see me.

One can no more prevent thought from recurring to an idea than one can the sea from returning to the shore: the sailor calls it the tide.—I have now attained. and why does God will it? In order that I may continue what I have begun. bending over what may be called his own abyss. that I may do good. ‘let us think no more about it. the guilty man calls it remorse. the dream of my nights. a little while ago. that it may be said at last. that a little happiness has been attached to the penance which I have undergone. and to ask his advice. let things take their course. do what he Free eBooks at Planet eBook. it is God who wills it. the object of my prayers to Heaven. God upheaves the soul as he does the ocean. Really. Have I the right to disarrange what it has arranged? What do I ask now? Why should I meddle? It does not concern me. this is evidently what he would have said to me: It is settled. it is because it wishes it so to be.—security.’ said he. let the good God do as he likes!’ Thus did he address himself in the depths of his own conscience. evidently. and to that virtue to which I have returned. I do not understand why I was afraid.com 385 . he rose from his chair. and began to pace the room: ‘Come. my resolve is taken!’ but he felt no joy. Quite the reverse. After the expiration of a few moments. I can do nothing against the will of God. what! I am not satisfied: but what more do I want? The goal to which I have aspired for so many years. that I may one day be a grand and encouraging example. to enter the house of that good cure.the least: it is Providence which has done it all.

it is in this sense only that the words so often employed in this chapter. two thousand years ago. one speaks to one’s self. and in order to make ourselves fully understood. there is a great tumult. to allow this error of fate and of men to be carried out. exclaims to one’s self without breaking the external silence. yielding to that mysterious power which said to him: ‘Think!’ as it said to another condemned man. It may even be said that the word is never a more magnificent mystery than when it goes from thought to conscience within a man. he said. he exclaimed. talks to one’s self. to lend himself to it through his silence. he resumed the gloomy dialogue in which it was he who spoke and he who listened. sneaking. to do nothing. was to do everything! that this was hypocritical baseness in the last degree! that it was a base. He interrogated himself upon that ‘settled resolve. everything about us talks except the mouth. there is no living being who has not done it. It is certain that people do talk to themselves.would. and listened to that which he would have preferred not to hear. The realities of the soul are none the less realities because they are not visible and palpable. and when it returns from conscience to thought.’ He confessed to himself that all that he had just arranged in his mind was monstrous. must be understood. cowardly. in short. ‘March on!’ Before proceeding further. ab386 Les Miserables . let us insist upon one necessary observation. saying that which he would have preferred to ignore. So he asked himself where he stood. that ‘to let things take their course. to let the good God do as he liked. not to hinder it.’ was simply horrible.

He was becoming an assassin. to achieve his resurrection. a wretched man. out of duty. in truth. and to close forever that hell whence he had just emerged. that was. ‘My object is attained!’ He declared to himself that his life really had an object. his life. struck down with so melancholy an error.com 387 . the convict Jean Valjean. to fall back there in appearance was to escape from it in reality. He spit it out with disgust. to become honest and good once more. morally murdering. the wretched man had just tasted the bitter savor of an evil thought and of an evil action. and the most odious of thieves! He was robbing another of his existence. his place in the sunshine. which he had always desired. his peace. He continued to question himself. He was murdering. to surrender himself to save that man. hideous crime! For the first time in eight years. that death beneath the open sky. that alone. which was the true one—to save. to become once more. He was inflicting on him that frightful living death. but what object? To conceal his name? To deceive the police? Was it for so petty a thing that he had done all that he had done? Had he not another and a grand object.ject. which is called the galleys. to be a just man? Was it not that above all. but his soul. to resume his own name. not his person. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. which the Bishop had enjoined upon him—to shut the door on his past? But he was not shutting it! great God! he was re-opening it by committing an infamous action! He was becoming a thief once more. On the other hand. He asked himself severely what he had meant by this.

He wrote and sealed a letter. He took his books. Paris. that men saw his life. ‘What is the use?’ He felt that the Bishop was there. that the Bishop was present all the more because he was dead. ‘let us decide upon this. would be abominable to him. Banker. let us do our duty. the most poignant of victories. Rue d’Artois. deliver the false Jean Valjean. without perceiving that he was speaking aloud. So he must go to Arras. Alas! that was the greatest of sacrifices. all his penitence was wasted. Sad fate! he would enter into sanctity only in the eyes of God when he returned to infamy in the eyes of men. and put them in order.’ said he. let us save this man. and on the envelope it might have been read. There was no longer any need of saying. that the Bishop was gazing fixedly at him. that henceforth Mayor Madeleine. verified them. and denounce the real one. ‘Well. To Monsieur Laffitte. that men beheld his mask. but that the Bishop saw his face. and that the convict Jean Valjean would be pure and admirable in his sight. but that the Bishop beheld his conscience. He flung in the fire a bundle of bills which he had against petty and embarrassed tradesmen.’ He uttered these words aloud. with all his virtues. his whole life was useless. had there been any one in his chamber at the moment. but it must be done. the last step to take.This must be done! He had done nothing if he did not do all this. He drew from his secretary a pocket-book which contained several banknotes and the passport of which he had made use that same year when he went to the elections. Any one who had seen him during the execution of these 388 Les Miserables .

which flamed before his eyes and changed its place as he altered the direction of his glance:— ‘Go! Tell your name! Denounce yourself!’ In the same way he beheld. good. formed the double rule of his soul. and it seemed to him that he beheld within himself. and he perceived the distance which separated them. He saw them in conflict. that the first was selfdevotion. at other times he raised his head and fixed his gaze upon some point of the wall. up to that time. and that the other said. necessarily. In proportion as he meditated. Laffitte. and that the other was personality. my neighbor. into which there entered such grave thought. When he had finished the letter to M. while the other might become bad. together with the pocket-book. that one emanated from the light. They had now attained colossal statures. would have had no suspicion of what was going on within him. he put it into his pocket. For the first time they appeared to him as absolutely distinct. and the other from darkness. His revery had not swerved from its course. the sanctification of his life. in that infinFree eBooks at Planet eBook.—the concealment of his name. as though there existed at that point something which he wished to elucidate or interrogate. as though they had passed before him in visible forms. He continued to see his duty clearly. and began his walk once more. they grew before the eyes of his spirit. myself.com 389 . that the one said. written in luminous letters. the two ideas which had. They were antagonistic.various acts. Only occasionally did his lips move. He recognized the fact that one of these ideas was.

and seems to dispense with proofs. and that they would have mercy on him. the grand test. One moment he said to himself that he was. perhaps. a goddess and a giant contending. and that Champmathieu marked the second. But the fever. but they continued to fortify him in his resolution. And who knows? Did he steal? Has it been proved? The name of Jean Valjean overwhelms him. He answered himself: ‘If this man has. after all. It is a long way from that to the galleys. allayed for an instant. perhaps. A thousand thoughts traversed his mind. He was filled with terror. that means a month in prison. the heroism of his deed might. this Champmathieu was not interesting. After the grand crisis. and what he had done for the district. in the midst of the darkness and the lights. but it seemed to him that the good thought was getting the upper hand.’ In another instant the thought had occurred to him that. taking the matter too keenly. He felt that he was on the brink of the second decisive crisis of his conscience and of his destiny. and he smiled 390 Les Miserables .ity of which we were recently speaking. stolen a few apples. that. when he denounced himself. indeed. and that he had actually been guilty of theft. Do not the attorneys for the Crown always proceed in this manner? He is supposed to be a thief because he is known to be a convict. that the Bishop had marked the first phase of his new life. and his honest life for the last seven years. gradually resumed possession of him. But this supposition vanished very quickly. be taken into consideration.

detached himself more and more from earth. would render him liable to penal servitude for life. and pitiless shame. the green cap. sur M. of indifferent matters. that this affair would certainly come up. that perhaps he should not be more unhappy after doing his duty than after having avoided it. his popularity. in spite of himself. in any case. his good name. and. but his brain grow weary. that. if he accomplished his sacrifice. the deference and veneration paid to him. his wealth. that if he allowed things to take their own course.com 391 . his charity. his consideration. He turned aside from all illusions. the iron necklet. or holiness within and infamy without. he still paced Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and sought strength and consolation elsewhere. unceasing toil. he must make his choice: virtue without and abomination within.bitterly as he remembered that the theft of the forty sous from little Gervais put him in the position of a man guilty of a second offence after conviction. He told himself that he must do his duty. At length he told himself that it must be so. the post.. He began to think of other things. that he had not authority to alter the arrangements made on high. would be seasoned with a crime. his good works. a celestial idea would be mingled with the galleys. And what would be the taste of all these holy things when bound up with this hideous thing? while. that his destiny was thus allotted. according to the precise terms of the law. his virtue. The stirring up of these lugubrious ideas did not cause his courage to fail. The veins in his temples throbbed violently. if he remained at M.

Fantine. he lighted a small fire. it is always I and nothing but I: but. In the meantime he had relapsed into his stupor. to conceal my person or to save my soul. it is proper for me to hold my tongue or to denounce myself. he recalled in this connection the fact that. ‘I had resolved to inform against myself. he counted the twelve strokes of the two clocks. it seemed to him as though everything about him were undergoing a change of aspect: he exclaimed:— ‘Ah! but I have hitherto considered no one but myself. but it is egotism all the same. he had seen in an ironmonger’s shop an ancient clock for sale. a few days previously. He was cold. ‘Ah! yes. to be a despicable and respected magistrate. it did not occur to him to close the window.to and fro. he was obliged to make a tolerably vigorous effort to recall what had been the subject of his thoughts before midnight had struck. it is I. ‘and what about that poor woman?’ Here a fresh crisis declared itself. Antoine-Albin de Romainville. he thought of Fantine. midnight sounded first from the parish church. What if I were to think a lit392 Les Miserables . produced the effect of an unexpected ray of light. upon which was written the name. then from the town-hall. by appearing thus abruptly in his revery. ‘Hold!’ said he. good God! all this is egotism.’ he said to himself. he finally succeeded in doing this. these are diverse forms of egotism.’ And then. or an infamous and venerable convict. all of a sudden. and compared the sounds of the two bells.

workers. everything dies: and this woman. circulation. let us examine the matter. but it did not last long. whom I have promised to her mother. but what Free eBooks at Planet eBook. that is well— and what then? What is going on here? Ah! here is a country. this Champmathieu is released. aged grandsires. do I not also owe something to this woman.tle about others? The highest holiness is to think of others. the I effaced. if I denounce myself. the I forgotten. let us see how it will be if I do not denounce myself. stimulated. informed with life. it is true. he seemed to undergo a momentary hesitation and trepidation. credit. this man is going to the galleys. what happens? The mother dies. here are factories. poor people! All this I have created. lacking me. an industry. who has suffered so much. it is I who have placed the brand on the hearth and meat in the pot. everywhere where there is a smoking chimney. If I do not denounce myself? come. what would be the result of all this? What if I denounce myself? I am arrested. enriched the whole country-side. fecundated. who possesses so many merits in spite of her fall. I have elevated. in reparation for the evil which I have done her? If I disappear. I have created ease. children. The I excepted. before me there was nothing. the soul is lacking. all these I provide with their living. the cause of all whose misery I have unwittingly been! And that child whom I meant to go in search of. and he answered himself calmly:— ‘Well. that is what will take place. I take myself off. a town. the child becomes what it can. I am put back in the galleys. he paused.’ After putting this question to himself. both men and women.com 393 . vivified. come.

because I should have thought of no one but myself. murder. a good-for-nothing. no one knows whom. all crimes: and this poor mother rears her child. and all that for the sake of an old wretch of an apple-thief who. What! because it would have pleased me to play the grand and generous. a whole country-side must perish! a poor woman must die in the hospital! a poor little girl must die in the street! like dogs. but just at bottom. a trifle exaggerated. and with wretchedness debauchery. all vices disappear. villages spring up where there were only farms before. prostitution. after all. the district becomes populated. and behold a whole country rich and honest! Ah! I was a fool! I was absurd! what was that I was saying about denouncing myself? I really must pay attention and not be precipitate about anything. which save a guilty 394 Les Miserables . a thief. evidently. families. the prosperity of all goes on augmenting. if not for that. I go on: in ten years I shall have made ten millions. a hundred families. ah. industries are aroused and animated.the deuce! he has stolen! There is no use in my saying that he has not been guilty of theft. a thousand families. most assuredly. this is abominable! And without the mother even having seen her child once more. for he has! I remain here. the idea! for the sake of saving from a punishment. I scatter them over the country. perhaps. indeed. this is melodrama. theft. farms rise where there was nothing. wretchedness disappears. are happy. what is that to me? It is not for myself that I am doing it. almost without the child’s having known her mother. fine scruples. I have nothing of my own. has deserved the galleys for something else. factories and shops are multiplied.

this time. in that alone there is virtue.’ he thought. this is for the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and I was going to neglect my duty towards all these poor creatures. let us no longer vacillate.’ He rose and resumed his march. mothers. let things take their course. which save an old vagabond who has only a few years to live at most. in that lies self-sacrifice. It seemed to him. and he was dazzled as he gazed upon it. This poor little Cosette who has no one in the world but me.man and sacrifice the innocent. to accept. wives. this evil action which compromises my soul alone. and who is. he seemed to be content. he had at last found one of these diamonds. those peoples are rascals. and that my conscience will reproach me for it some day. and that he now held it in his hand. Diamonds are found only in the dark places of the earth. and who will not be more unhappy in the galleys than in his hovel. my resolve is taken. and I was about to commit that unspeakable folly! Let us put it at the worst: suppose that there is a wrong action on my part in this. after having descended into these depths. I am on the right road. one of these truths. let us no longer hang back.com 395 . blue with cold at this moment in the den of those Thenardiers. children. I have the solution. ‘Yes. truths are found only in the depths of thought. I must end by holding fast to something. that. after having long groped among the darkest of these shadows. and which sacrifice a whole population. ‘this is right. for the good of others. these reproaches which weigh only on myself. no doubt. and I was going off to denounce myself.

let him look out for himself. so much the worse for that head. ‘Come!’ he said. not for my own. and took out a small key. an old knapsack. if it halts and descends on a head. all these things must disappear. I no longer know anything. I am Madeleine. dumb things which would bear witness against me. drew out his purse. in this hiding-place there were some rags— a blue linen blouse. I am quite another man now. a secret receptacle opened. so hidden was it in the most sombre tones of the design which covered the wall-paper.’ He proceeded a few paces further. Those who had seen 396 Les Miserables . that does not concern me. I do not know that man. and said:— ‘Hold! it has relieved me to come to a decision. it is settled.interest of all.’ He looked into the little mirror which hung above his chimney-piece. in this very room there are objects which would betray me. ‘I must not flinch before any of the consequences of the resolution which I have once adopted. it turns out that some one is Jean Valjean at the present moment. opened it. it is a fatal name which was floating abroad in the night. and Madeleine I remain. Woe to the man who is Jean Valjean! I am no longer he. an old pair of trousers. he inserted the key in a lock whose aperture could hardly be seen. a sort of false cupboard constructed in the angle between the wall and the chimney-piece.’ He fumbled in his pocket. and a huge thorn cudgel shod with iron at both ends. there are still threads which attach me to that Jean Valjean. they must be broken. then he stopped short.

Everything was on fire. and flung them all.—no doubt the forty-sou piece stolen from the little Savoyard.com 397 . he concealed the door behind a heavy piece of furniture. but paced back and forth with Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the room and the opposite wall were lighted up with a fierce. it revealed something which sparkled in the ashes. 1815. in order to remind himself continually of his starting-point. He closed the false cupboard again. but he had concealed all that came from the galleys. He had preserved them as he had preserved the silver candlesticks. He did not look at the fire. knapsack. he took the whole in his arms at once. which he pushed in front of it. the thorn cudgel snapped and threw out sparks to the middle of the chamber. into the fire. red. since it was now empty. cudgel. He cast a furtive glance towards the door. and with redoubled precautions. with a quick and abrupt movement. then. together with the hideous rags which it contained.Jean Valjean at the epoch when he passed through D—— in October. After the lapse of a few seconds. henceforth unnecessary. tremulous glow. rags. and he had allowed the candlesticks which came from the Bishop to be seen. By bending over. As the knapsack was consumed. as though he feared that it would open in spite of the bolt which fastened it. one could have readily recognized a coin. could easily have recognized all the pieces of this miserable outfit. without bestowing so much as a glance on the things which he had so religiously and so perilously preserved for so many years.

They must be destroyed also.’ He seized the two candlesticks. A minute more. who will be condemned. do! That is right! Applaud yourself! So it is settled. resolved. perhaps. At that moment it seemed to him that he heard a voice within him shouting: ‘Jean Valjean! Jean Valjean!’ His hair rose upright: he became like a man who is listening to some terrible thing. which shone vaguely on the chimney-piece. done nothing. who is about to be taken for you. through the glow. whose whole misfortune lies in your name. and converted into a sort of unrecognizable bar of metal. who will finish his days in abjectness and horror. He stirred the live coals with one of the candlesticks. He felt a sense of real comfort. that’s it! finish!’ said the voice. ‘Hold!’ he thought. ‘the whole of Jean Valjean is still in them. He bent over the hearth and warmed himself for a moment. agreed: here is an old man who does not know what is wanted of him. ‘Complete what you are about! Destroy these candlesticks! Annihilate this souvenir! Forget the Bishop! Forget everything! Destroy this Champmathieu. upon whom your name weighs like a crime. ‘How good warmth is!’ said he. and they were both in the fire.the same step. an innocent man. fixed. who has. There was still fire enough to allow of their being put out of shape. All at once his eye fell on the two silver candlesticks. ‘Yes. 398 Les Miserables .

and only one which no one will hear. remain Monsieur le Maire. which will make a great noise. But that within him which had spoken had not finished. and who will drag your chain in the galleys. Then he resumed. there will be around you many voices. it is well arranged thus. virtuous. rear the orphan. that he glanced around the room in a sort of terror. who will bear your name in ignominy. which will talk very loud. remain honorable and honored. with a laugh which resembled that of an idiot:— ‘How stupid I am! There can be no one!’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Yes. nourish the indigent. He thought that he heard the last words so distinctly. ‘Is there any one here?’ he demanded aloud. Well! listen.’ This voice.com 399 . there will be a man who will wear your red blouse. enrich the town. feeble at first.That is good! Be an honest man yourself. wretch!’ The perspiration streamed from his brow. The voice continued:— ‘Jean Valjean. while you are here in the midst of joy and light. and which will bless you. He fixed a haggard eye on the candlesticks. in utter bewilderment. and which had proceeded from the most obscure depths of his conscience. and admired. and. It seemed to him that it had detached itself from him. and only the malediction will ascend to God. and which will curse you in the dark. had gradually become startling and formidable. live happy. infamous man! All those benedictions will fall back before they reach heaven. and that it was now speaking outside of him. Ah. and he now heard it in his very ear. during this time.

which troubled the dreams of the sleeping man beneath him. The two ideas which counselled him appeared to him equally fatal. to be overwhelmed by precisely the means which Providence seemed to have employed. He should have to bid farewell to that existence which was so good. What a fatality! What conjunction that that Champmathieu should have been taken for him. but the person who was there was of those whom the human eye cannot see. so pure. Then he resumed his monotonous and lugubrious tramp. at first. Denounce himself. This tramping to and fro soothed and at the same time intoxicated him. great God! Deliver himself up! With immense despair he faced all that he should be obliged to leave. so radiant. as though people moved about for the purpose of asking advice of everything that they may encounter by change of place. to strengthen his position! There was a moment when he reflected on the future. He placed the candlesticks on the chimney-piece. he should never more experience the sweetness of having 400 Les Miserables . He now recoiled in equal terror before both the resolutions at which he had arrived in turn. After the lapse of a few minutes he no longer knew his position. to honor. on supreme occasions. he should never more bestow alms on the little children. to liberty. all that he should be obliged to take up once more. and awoke him with a start. he should never more hear the birds sing in the month of May. He should never more stroll in the fields.There was some one. to the respect of all. It sometimes seems.

his old portress. their green caps drawn over their eyes. who was mayor of M. overwhelmed with lassitude.glances of gratitude and love fixed upon him. after having been what he was! If he were only young again! but to be addressed in his old age as ‘thou’ by any one who pleased. what misery! Can destiny. the red waistcoat. sur M. Oh. and become as monstrous as the human heart? And do what he would. dripping with perspiration. fatigue. Great God! instead of that. the camp bed all those horrors which he knew so well! At his age. to remount. be as malicious as an intelligent being. he always fell back upon the heartrending dilemma which lay at the foundation of his revery: ‘Should he remain in paradise and become a demon? Should he return to hell and become an angel?’ What was to be done? Great God! what was to be done? Free eBooks at Planet eBook. to have to stretch out his leg night and morning to the hammer of the roundsman who visits the gang. two by two. the ladder staircase of the galleys beneath the sergeant’s whip. to submit to the curiosity of strangers. Never again should he read those books. would never more bring him his coffee in the morning. never more should he write on that little table of white wood. the cell. the only servant whom he kept. the chain on his ankle. that little chamber! Everything seemed charming to him at that moment. the iron necklet.’. the convict gang.com 401 . then. who would be told: ‘That man yonder is the famous Jean Valjean. and at night. to be searched by the convict-guard. to receive the galley-sergeant’s cudgellings. he should quit that house which he had built. to wear iron-bound shoes on his bare feet.

where young lovers go to pluck lilacs in the month of April. and definitely. The name of Romainville recurred incessantly to his mind. Thus did this unhappy soul struggle in its anguish. for the last time. in a manner. He tried to put to himself. He wavered outwardly as well as inwardly.The torment from which he had escaped with so much difficulty was unchained afresh within him. and that of necessity. 402 Les Miserables . He was no further advanced than at the beginning.— the agony of his happiness. He walked like a little child who is permitted to toddle alone. He only felt that. something in him must die. fallen prostrate with fatigue: Ought he to denounce himself? Ought he to hold his peace? He could not manage to see anything distinctly. he made an effort to recover the mastery of his mind. The vague aspects of all the courses of reasoning which had been sketched out by his meditations quivered and vanished. At intervals. and without his being able to escape the fact. that he was passing through a death agony. He thought that Romainville was a little grove near Paris. His ideas began to grow confused once more. into smoke. as he combated his lassitude. they assumed a kind of stupefied and mechanical quality which is peculiar to despair. with the two verses of a song which he had heard in the past. the problem over which he had. that he was entering a sepulchre on the right hand as much as on the left. Alas! all his resolution had again taken possession of him. or the agony of his virtue. one after the other. to whatever course of action he made up his mind.

com 403 . while the olive-trees quivered in the wild wind of the infinite.Eighteen hundred years before this unfortunate man. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the terrible cup which appeared to Him dripping with darkness and overflowing with shadows in the depths all studded with stars. the mysterious Being in whom are summed up all the sanctities and all the sufferings of humanity had also long thrust aside with his hand.

gloomy plain. On the envelope we find this line inscribed. a vast. There he fell asleep and had a dream. bore no relation to the situation. This nightmare struck him so forcibly that he wrote it down later on. We think that we have here reproduced the thing in strict accordance with the text.CHAPTER IV FORMS ASSUMED BY SUFFERING DURING SLEEP Three o’clock in the morning had just struck. Of whatever nature this dream may be. almost uninterruptedly. 404 Les Miserables . and he had been walking thus for five hours. This dream.’ ‘I was in a plain. Here it is. the history of this night would be incomplete if we were to omit it: it is the gloomy adventure of an ailing soul. where there was no grass. It is one of the papers in his own handwriting which he has bequeathed to us. when he at length allowed himself to drop into his chair. ‘The Dream I had that Night. like the majority of dreams. It did not seem to me to be daylight nor yet night. but it made an impression on him. except by its painful and heart-rending character.

He was entirely nude. I never think. After proceeding a few paces. of the hue of ashes. I received no reply when I spoke: I perceived that my brother was no longer with me. a man was standing erect against the wall. even the sky. I saw the door of a house open. In his hand he held a switch which was as supple as a vine-shoot and as heavy as iron. Everything was dirt-colored. I reflected that it must be Romainville. The man had no hair. I said to this Man:— ‘‘What country is this? Where am I?’ The man made no reply. As we talked we felt cold because of that open window. I entered the second.com 405 .‘I was walking with my brother. ‘My brother said to me. ‘There were no trees in the plain. ‘The first chamber was deserted. ‘The first street that I entered was deserted. ‘I entered a village which I espied.’ ‘There existed a hollow way wherein one saw neither a single shrub nor a spear of moss. I must say. and whom I now hardly remember. the brother of my childish years. (Why Romainville?)[5] [5] This parenthesis is due to Jean Valjean. Behind the angle formed by the two streets. the brother of whom. I entered a second street. who had always worked with her window open from the time when she came to live on the street. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘We were conversing and we met some passers-by. We were talking of a neighbor of ours in former days. and I entered. This horseman passed and said nothing to us. and mounted on a horse which was earth color. We saw a man passing close to us. we could see his skull and the veins on it. ‘Let us take to the hollow road.

All the streets were deserted. In an instant this crowd had overtaken and surrounded me. They made no noise as they walked. ‘I strolled into the village. I said to this man. They had strange heads. walking through the chambers or strolling in the gardens. stood a silent man. yet they walked faster than I did. He was icy cold. behind each door. But behind each angle of the walls. ‘What garden is this? Where am I?’ The man did not answer.’ He woke. These men watched me pass. ‘Then the first one whom I had seen and questioned on entering the town said to me:— ‘‘Whither are you going! Do you not know that you have been dead this long time?’ ‘I opened my mouth to reply. Behind the first tree I found a man standing upright. ‘I left the town and began to ramble about the fields. The faces of these men were earthen in hue. behind each tree. I recognized all the men whom I had seen in that town. I quitted the house and entered the garden. ‘The house had a garden. Only one was to be seen at a time. ‘After the lapse of some time I turned back and saw a great crowd coming up behind me.Behind the door of this chamber a man was standing erect against the wall. The garden was deserted. and perceived that it was a town. I inquired of this man. ‘Whose house is this? Where am I?’ The man replied not. and I perceived that there was no one near me. all the doors were open. A wind which was chill like the 406 Les Miserables . They did not seem to be in a hurry. Not a single living being was passing in the streets.

He shuddered from head to foot. It was a tilbury harnessed to a small white horse. He rose. There were no stars in the sky even yet. and cried in a terrible voice:— ‘Who is there?’ Some one said:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ But this confusion vanished. which had been left open on their hinges. By the light which they cast he was able to distinguish the form of this vehicle. resounded from the earth. The candle was nearing its end. ‘Hold!’ said he. he went to the window. Below him he perceived two red stars. From his window the yard of the house and the street were visible. a second sound similar to the first roused him thoroughly.breeze of dawn was rattling the leaves of the window. he looked and recognized the fact that these two stars were the lanterns of a carriage. ‘Who is coming here so early in the morning?’ At that moment there came a light tap on the door of his chamber. A sharp. ‘there are no stars in the sky.com 407 . The fire was out. As his thoughts were still half immersed in the mists of sleep. It was still black night. ‘What vehicle is this?’ he said to himself. whose rays lengthened and shortened in a singular manner through the darkness. The noise which he had heard was the trampling of the horse’s hoofs on the pavement. harsh noise. which made him drop his eyes. They are on earth now.

She even ventured to uplift her voice once more:— ‘What am I to say. He examined the flame of the candle with a stupid air.’ ‘What is that to me?’ ‘The cabriolet is here. and that I am coming down.’ ‘What coachman?’ ‘M. it is just five o’clock in the morning. and from around the wick he took some of the burning wax.’ ‘What tilbury?’ ‘Did not Monsieur le Maire order a tilbury?’ ‘No.’ 408 Les Miserables .’ ‘What cabriolet?’ ‘The tilbury. Monsieur le Maire?’ ‘Say that it is well.’ he resumed. she would have been frightened. Monsieur le Maire. Scaufflaire?’ That name sent a shudder over him.’ said he. as though a flash of lightning had passed in front of his face. Monsieur le Maire. A tolerably long silence ensued.’ ‘M. The old woman waited for him. ‘Ah! yes. ‘what is it?’ ‘Monsieur le Maire. Scaufflaire!’ If the old woman could have seen him at that moment. ‘M. which he rolled between his fingers.’ He recognized the voice of the old woman who was his portress. ‘The coachman says that he has come for Monsieur le Maire. Scaufflaire’s coachman. ‘Well!’ he replied.‘I.

These mail-wagons were two-wheeled cabriolets. and the cabriolet yellow. drag a great train behind them. and which may still be seen on the road in Germany. had something distorted and hunchbacked about them.com 409 . one for the postboy. was still operated at this period by small mail-wagons of the time of the Empire. the other for the traveller. offensive axles which keep other vehicles at a distance. and having but two seats. and which. I think. an immense oblong coffer.CHAPTER V HINDRANCES The posting service from Arras to M. upholstered inside with fawn-colored leather. This coffer was painted black. which have no counterparts nowadays. and climbing up some road to the horizon. after the mail from Paris had passed. arrived at M. But they travelled at a very rapid rate. sur M. termites. The wheels were armed with those long. was placed behind the vehicle and formed a part of it. These vehicles. they resembled the insects which are called. and when one saw them passing in the distance. a little before five Free eBooks at Planet eBook. sur M. hung on springs. though with but little corselet. The post-wagon which set out from Arras at one o’clock every night. The despatch box.

into that obscure cavern of the unknown? However. He was driving at random. collided at the corner of a street. with a little tilbury harnessed to a white horse. What man is there who has not entered. Something urged him forward. He was.o’clock in the morning. Why was he hastening? He did not know. which was going in the opposite direction. Whither was he going? He could not have told. Why was he going to Arras? He repeated what he had already said to himself when 410 Les Miserables . a man enveloped in a mantle. The postman shouted to the man to stop. as he had been at the first moment. but the traveller paid no heed and pursued his road at full gallop. That night the wagon which was descending to M. just as it was entering the town. None of the actions of his conscience had been decisive. He plunged into the night as into a gulf. more than ever. by the Hesdin road. done nothing. something drew him on. ‘That man is in a devilish hurry!’ said the postman. The wheel of the tilbury received quite a violent shock. Whither? To Arras. no doubt. sur M. The man thus hastening on was the one whom we have just seen struggling in convulsions which are certainly deserving of pity. and he shuddered. No one could have told what was taking place within him. he had resolved on nothing. formed no plan. every one will understand it. at least once in his life. At times he was conscious of it. decided nothing. and in which there was but one person. straight ahead. but he might have been going elsewhere as well.

he held his destiny. he would have preferred not to go to Arras. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Nevertheless. his conscience would probably be greatly relieved to allow him to go to the galleys in his stead. that Cochepaille. In proportion as the cabriolet advanced. and even trot which accomplishes two leagues and a half an hour. which was proceeding at that fine. that all conjectures and all suppositions were fixed on Champmathieu. there was no reason why he should not see with his own eyes. after all. and judge of matters for himself. however bad it might be. and that there is nothing so headstrong as suppositions and conjectures. whatever the result was to be. regular. he was going thither. that one made mountains out of everything from a distance. in his own hand. that accordingly there was no danger. but they certainly would not recognize him. no doubt. that he must know what took place.com 411 .—bah! what an idea! that Javert was a hundred leagues from suspecting the truth. when he should have seen that Champmathieu. old convicts who had known him.he had hired Scaufflaire’s cabriolet: that. to tell the whole truth. that Javert would indeed be there. At bottom. That it was. that no decision could be arrived at without having observed and scrutinized. that he was master of it. some wretch. that this was even prudent. He clung to this thought. and that Brevet. a dark moment. but that he should emerge from it. he felt something within him draw back. that. that Chenildieu. at any rate. As he meditated. he whipped up his horse. that.

‘And yet there are people there within who are sleeping!’ The trot of the horse. which has too much head. Each time that he passed one of those isolated dwellings which sometimes border on the highway. monotonous noise. It was broad daylight when he arrived at Hesdin. He did not get out of the tilbury. he stared at all the chilly figures of a winter’s dawn as they passed before his eyes. produced a gentle. He did not see them. a large crupper. and to have him given some oats. but a robust and healthy race. These things are charming when one is joyous. to that small race of the Boulonnais. fine legs. but without his being aware of it. the wheels on the road. but without seeing them. The morning has its spectres as well as the evening. thin. he said to himself. and not enough neck and shoulders. sur M. The stableman who brought the oats suddenly bent down and examined the left wheel. The excellent beast had travelled five leagues in two hours. He watched the horizon grow white. to allow the horse a breathing spell. He halted in front of the inn. and had not a drop of sweat on his loins. The horse belonged. the bells on the harness. these black silhouettes of trees and of hills added some gloomy and sinister quality to the violent state of his soul. 412 Les Miserables . the town of M. lay far behind him. as Scaufflaire had said.At daybreak he was in the open country. too much belly. but which has a broad chest. and solid hoofs—a homely. and by means of a sort of penetration which was almost physical. and lugubrious when one is sad.

’ he said to the stableman. ‘is there a wheelwright here?’ ‘Certainly. Just see here!’ The wheel really had suffered serious damage. sir. with his eyes fixed on the wheel. then he rose erect and said:— ‘Because. Hey! Master Bourgaillard!’ Master Bourgaillard. was standing on his own threshold.’ He sprang out of the tilbury.com 413 . ‘What is that you say. ‘Ah?’’ The man bent down once more. The shock administered by the mail-wagon had split two spokes and strained the hub. ‘Five leagues. though this wheel has travelled five leagues. was silent for a moment.’ ‘Do me the service to go and fetch him.’ ‘Ah!’ ‘Why do you say. with an air of not having roused himself from his revery:— ‘Why?’ ‘Have you come from a great distance?’ went on the man.‘Are you going far in this condition?’ said the man. ‘My friend. He replied. He came. the wheelwright. it certainly will not travel another quarter of a league. so that the nut no longer held firm. examined the wheel and made Free eBooks at Planet eBook. my friend?’ ‘I say that it is a miracle that you should have travelled five leagues without you and your horse rolling into some ditch on the highway.’ ‘He is only a step from here.

Two new spokes and a hub must be made. Two wheels cannot be put together hap-hazard.’ ‘I will pay whatever you ask. then. ‘Can you repair this wheel immediately?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Impossible.’ ‘When can I set out again?’ ‘To-morrow. sir?’ ‘In a very great hurry. in two hours. Are you in a hurry.’ ‘The matter cannot wait until to-morrow. Two wheels make a pair. I must set out again in an hour at the latest. sir. Monsieur will not be able to start before to-morrow morning. sir.’ 414 Les Miserables .’ ‘Well.’ ‘Impossible.’ ‘Impossible to-day.’ ‘I have no wheel on hand that would fit your cabriolet. sir.’ ‘Have you not a wheel that you can sell me? Then I could start again at once.a grimace like a surgeon when the latter thinks a limb is broken.’ ‘A spare wheel?’ ‘Yes. What if you were to replace this wheel instead of repairing it?’ ‘How so?’ ‘You are a wheelwright?’ ‘Certainly.’ ‘To-morrow!’ ‘There is a long day’s work on it.

and who only uses it on the thirty-sixth of the month—never. of course.‘In that case.’ ‘It is useless. it would require two horses. as you see.’ ‘We live in a poor country. ‘an old calash under the shed yonder.’ ‘Try. There is.’ ‘Where is Monsieur going?’ ‘To Arras.’ ‘And Monsieur wishes to reach there to-day?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘By taking two post-horses?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Does it make any difference whether Monsieur arrives Free eBooks at Planet eBook. which belongs to a bourgeois of the town.’ ‘Not all wheels fit all axles. for what matters it to me? But the bourgeois must not see it pass— and then. in truth. who gave it to me to take care of.’ ‘I will take two post-horses.’ ‘What! not even a spring-cart? I am not hard to please. We are but a poor country here. sell it to me. I might let that to you.’ ‘I have none. ‘You treat the cabriolets that people let you so well! If I had one.’ added the wheelwright. I would not let it to you!’ ‘Well. it is a calash. then. nevertheless. sir. sell me a pair of wheels.’ ‘Have you a cabriolet that you can let me have?’ The wheelwright had seen at the first glance that the tilbury was a hired vehicle. I have nothing to sell but cart-wheels.com 415 . He shrugged his shoulders. that is to say. sir.

he will not bear it. you remind me of that. But you will not find one for sale nor to let.’ 416 Les Miserables .’ ‘Then—‘ ‘But I can surely hire a horse in the village?’ ‘A horse to travel to Arras at one stretch?’ ‘Yes. you see. There are many hills to ascend. by taking post-horses— Monsieur has his passport?’ ‘Yes. You would have to buy it to begin with. because no one knows you. I will go on horseback. Monsieur will have to wait three or four hours at the least at every relay. But will this horse bear the saddle?’ ‘That is true.’ ‘Well. The season for ploughing is just beginning. by taking post-horses.’ ‘What am I to do?’ ‘The best thing is to let me repair the wheel like an honest man. the horses are in the fields.’ ‘There is one thing to be said about that. then. We are on a cross-road.’ ‘Without doubt. and horses are seized upon everywhere. from the post as well as elsewhere. and set out on your journey to-morrow. Unharness the cabriolet. heavy teams are required. And. they drive at a walk. or for a thousand.’ ‘Come then. The relays are badly served.’ ‘That would require such a horse as does not exist in these parts. Some one can surely sell me a saddle in the neighborhood. Monsieur cannot reach Arras before to-morrow.at four o’clock to-morrow morning?’ ‘Certainly not. for five hundred francs.

It was evident that Providence was intervening. the one going as well as the one coming. It was no lonFree eBooks at Planet eBook. he had nothing with which to reproach himself.’ ‘Is there another wheelwright?’ The stableman and the wheelwright replied in concert. nor fatigue.‘To-morrow will be too late. and a good long one.’ ‘What if the spokes were to be tied together with ropes?’ ‘That could be done with the spokes. with a toss of the head ‘No. Both the posts pass at night.com 417 . he had just made every possible effort to continue the journey.’ ‘Is there any one in this village who lets out teams?’ ‘No. That it was it who had broken the wheel of the tilbury and who was stopping him on the road. that was no fault of his. nor by the expense. If he went no further. He had not yielded to this sort of first summons. he had loyally and scrupulously exhausted all means.’ ‘The deuce!’ ‘Is there not a mail-wagon which runs to Arras? When will it pass?’ ‘To-night.’ ‘What! It will take you a day to mend this wheel?’ ‘A day.’ ‘If you set two men to work?’ ‘If I set ten men to work. and the felly is in a bad state.’ He felt an immense joy. not with the hub. too. It did not concern him further. he had been deterred neither by the season.

and it is probable that we should not have had to relate any of the occurrences which the reader is about to peruse. After listening for a few minutes. things would have rested there. some people who were passing back and forth halted around them. to whom no one had paid any heed. Any colloquy in the street inevitably attracts a crowd. but the act of Providence. and that now he had nothing to do but retrace his steps quietly. While he was questioning the wheelwright. no one would have heard him. and was manifesting Himself. this child returned.’ said the woman. ‘Monsieur. it would have had no witnesses. He was accompanied by an old woman. resolved to retrace his steps. At the moment when the traveller. He said himself that he had done all he could. If his conversation with the wheelwright had taken place in a chamber of the inn. ‘my boy tells me that you 418 Les Miserables . It seemed to him that God was for him now. It seemed to him that the hand of iron which had held his heart in its grasp for the last twenty hours had just released him. a young lad. after the inward deliberation which we have just described. There are always people who ask nothing better than to become spectators. It was not the act of his own conscience.ger his fault. He breathed freely and to the full extent of his lungs for the first time since Javert’s visit. but this conversation had taken place in the street. He breathed again. detached himself from the group and ran off.

com 419 . it would not go much further than the tilbury. ready to seize him once more. He answered:— ‘Yes.’ etc.’ And he hastened to add:— ‘But there is none in the place. ran on its two wheels and could go to Arras.. All this was true. ‘At my house. my good woman. in despair at the prospect of the traveller escaping their clutches. but this trap. etc. The old woman really had in her shed a sort of basket spring-cart. whatever it was.’ replied the old woman. He thought that he beheld the hand which had relaxed its grasp reappear in the darkness behind him. this thing. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the wheels were rusted and eaten with moisture. the rain came into it. ‘Where?’ interpolated the wheelwright.’ ‘Certainly there is.’ These simple words uttered by an old woman led by a child made the perspiration trickle down his limbs. ‘It was a frightful old trap. it rests flat on the axle. the gentleman would make a great mistake if he trusted himself to it.wish to hire a cabriolet. He shuddered. a regular ramshackle old stage-wagon. I am in search of a cabriolet which I can hire. The wheelwright and the stable-man. interfered.’ said the old woman. it is an actual fact that the seats were suspended inside it by leather thongs. this ramshackle old vehicle. The fatal hand had grasped him again.

left the tilbury with the wheelwright to be repaired. and found it absurd. As he left Hesdin. climbed into it.’ said the latter. a certain joy in the thought that he should not go whither he was now proceeding. At the moment when the cart moved off. ‘Monsieur. ‘you shall have nothing. he was taking this trip of his own free will.’ ‘Well?’ ‘You have not given me anything. intending to reclaim it on his return. you scamp?’ said he. And assuredly nothing would happen except what he should choose. ‘Ah! it’s you.’ He who gave to all so readily thought this demand exorbitant and almost odious.’ He whipped up his horse and set off at full speed. ‘it was I who got the cart for you. a moment previously. He had lost a great deal of time at Hesdin. It was the old woman’s little boy. He wanted to 420 Les Miserables . He examined this joy with a sort of wrath.He paid what was asked. Why should he feel joy at turning back? After all. and resumed the road which he had been travelling since morning. had the white horse put to the cart. he heard a voice shouting to him: ‘Stop! Stop!’ He halted the cart with a vigorous movement which contained a feverish and convulsive element resembling hope. he admitted that he had felt. No one was forcing him to it.

she led him to the public room where there were tables covered with waxed cloth. he seized the bread. I even have a good appetite. took a mouthful.’ A big Flemish servant-maid placed his knife and fork in all haste. ‘That is what ailed me. and pulled for two. ‘I had not breakfasted. but it was the month of February. At Saint-Pol he had the horse unharnessed at the first inn he came to and led to the stable. who had a rosy. there had been rain. I am in a hurry. as he had promised Scaufflaire. he stood beside the manger while the horse was eating. The little horse was courageous.com 421 . and then slowly replaced it on the table. He took nearly four hours to go from Hesdin to SaintPol. And then. The inn-keeper’s wife came to the stable.’ He followed the woman. there were many ascents. he said to this man:— ‘Why is their bread so bitter here?’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ he thought. four hours for five leagues. ‘Make haste!’ said he. The cart was very heavy. ‘I must start again. he thought of sad and confusing things. and did not touch it again.make it good. he looked at the girl with a sensation of comfort. ‘Does not Monsieur wish to breakfast?’ ‘Come.’ His breakfast was served. and in addition. A carter was eating at another table. that is true. cheerful face. it was no longer the tilbury. the roads were bad.

the tilled fields pass by. broken at every turn of the road. he watched the trees. he did make comparisons between the shifting horizon and our human existence: all the things of life are perpetually fleeing before us. this is a sort of contemplation which sometimes suffices to the soul. we stretch out our hands to grasp what is passing. the dark and bright intervals are intermingled. all at once. a laborer. it is true that the days were still short. Twilight was falling when the children who were coming out of school beheld this traveller enter Tinques. we hasten.The carter was a German and did not understand him. What is more melancholy and more profound than to see a thousand objects for the first and the last time? To travel is to be born and to die at every instant. all is black. after a dazzling moment. in the vaguest region of his mind. each event is a turn in the road. who was mending the road with stones. and we see a veiled and unknown person unharnessing amid the shadows. vanished. as he emerged from the village. we distinguish an obscure door. we are old. raised his head and said to him:— 422 Les Miserables . he did not halt at Tinques. we look. and. He returned to the stable and remained near the horse. which is only five leagues from Arras. and the way in which the landscape. perhaps. An hour later he had quitted Saint-Pol and was directing his course towards Tinques. What did he do during this journey? Of what was he thinking? As in the morning. the gloomy horse of life. we feel a shock. the thatched roofs. and almost relieves it from thought. an eclipse. which has been drawing us halts.

’ ‘And. sleep there.’ ‘How is that? the posting guide only says five leagues and a quarter. ‘Yes.’ ‘Ah!’ returned the road-mender. you will cross the river. and get an extra horse.’ ‘That is different. you can reach Arras to-morrow. there is no way to proceed further.com 423 .’ ‘You do not belong in these parts?’ ‘No. ‘shall I give you a piece of advice? your horse is tired. ‘so you don’t know that the road is under repair? You will find it barred a quarter of an hour further on. when you reach Camblin. but go to the inn all the same.‘That horse is very much fatigued. return to Tinques. stop! sir. and I shall lose my way.’ ‘I must be there this evening.’ The poor beast was. ‘Are you going to Arras?’ added the road-mender. and asked the laborer:— ‘How far is it from here to Arras?’ ‘Nearly seven good leagues. that is the road to Mont-Saint-Eloy which leads to Arras. there is a good inn there. you will turn to the right. the stable-boy will guide you through the cross-roads. in fact.’ ‘Really?’ ‘You will take the road on the left.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ He stopped his horse. leading to Carency.’ ‘But it is night. it is all cross-roads. besides. going at a walk.’ ‘If you go on at that rate you will not arrive very early.’ resumed the road-mender.

a strong breeze which blew in from the sea produced a sound in all quarters of the horizon. if you wish to return and sleep at Tinques. sir. Night had fully come.He followed the road-mender’s advice. we could be in Arras early to-morrow morning. They turned into the cross-road.’ In one of the jolts. the cart lurched from one rut to the other. black. he passed the same spot again. low-hanging.’ He replied. retraced his steps. sir. this road is very bad at night. but they set out again at a gallop.’ said the postilion. who called himself a postilion. the way became frightfully bad. was seated on the shaft of the cariole.’ He cut a branch from a tree and made a whiffle-tree of it. as of some one moving furniture. ‘Have you a bit of rope and a knife?’ ‘Yes. everything that could be seen assumed attitudes of terror. half an hour later. Still. the whiffle-tree broke. This caused another loss of twenty minutes. ‘There’s the whiffle-tree broken. crisp fogs crept over the hills and wrenched themselves away like smoke: there were whitish gleams in the clouds. he felt that he had lost time. The plain was gloomy. and. but this time at full speed. with a good horse to aid. a stableboy. and you shall have a double fee. How many things shiver beneath these vast breaths of the 424 Les Miserables . ‘I don’t know how to harness my horse now. he said to the postilion:— ‘Keep at a trot.

they had crossed the river and left Mont-Saint-Eloy behind them. and very little for the lawyers to say. the sittings of the Court of Assizes began at nine o’clock in the morning. that there would then remain only a question of identity. useless. that the theft of the apples would be very brief. The night grew more profound. we have but three leagues still to go. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. thinking it odd the while that it had not occurred to him sooner: that all this trouble which he was taking was. and it seemed but yesterday.night! He was stiff with cold. he for the first time indulged in this reflection. he asked the boy:— ‘What time is it?’ ‘Seven o’clock.’ At that moment.com 425 . he vaguely recalled his other nocturnal trip in the vast plain in the neighborhood of D——. that he should arrive after all was over. we shall reach Arras at eight. The postilion whipped up the horses. that he was foolish to go thus straight ahead without knowing whether he would be of any service or not. then he sketched out some calculations in his mind: that. have informed himself of that. ordinarily. perhaps. at least. he had eaten nothing since the night before. that he did not know so much as the hour of the trial. that it could not be a long affair. eight years previously. four or five depositions. The hour struck from a distant tower. sir. that he should.

Madeleine arrived. Her eyes were hollow and staring. It seems as though. he assumed an alarmed look. Each time that Sister Simplice asked her how she felt. at the moment when Fantine had just lost her last modesty. Madeleine. and laid plaits in her sheets. All the morning she was melancholy. calculations which seemed to be calculations of distances. she replied invariably. she had had dreams: in the morning. her fever had doubled in intensity. said but little.’ Some months before this. They seemed almost extinguished at intervals. ‘Well. in a low voice. and ordered that he should be informed as soon as M. She had passed a very bad night. at the approach of a certain dark hour. her cough was frightful. I should like to see M. then lighted up again and shone like stars. she was delirious. and her last 426 Les Miserables . her last shame. the light of heaven fills those who are quitting the light of earth. when the doctor paid his visit. murmuring the while.CHAPTER VI SISTER SIMPLICE PUT TO THE PROOF But at that moment Fantine was joyous.

a clayey skin. Madeleine usually came to see the invalid at three o’clock. The clock struck a quarter past three. No one entered. prominent shoulder-blades. in general. now she was the spectre of herself. pinched nostrils. Fantine sat up in bed. she who could. She said nothing. This creature of five and twenty had a wrinkled brow. joined her yellow.joy. M. As exactness is kindness. a leaden complexion. About half-past two. teeth from which the gums had receded. sister?’ Three o’clock struck. hardly turn over. and the nun heard her utter one of those profound sighs which seem to throw off dejection. she asked the nun more than ten times. Alas! how illness improvises old-age! At mid-day the physician returned. Fantine fell back on her pillow. the door did not open. motionless and apparently holding her breath. flabby cheeks. ‘What time is it. and her golden hair was growing out sprinkled with gray. Then Fantine turned and looked at the door. but began to plait the sheets once more. and shook his head.com 427 . a bony neck. At the third stroke. fleshless hands in a sort of convulsive clasp. Physical suffering had completed the work of moral suffering. he was exact. she was the shadow of herself. her eyes riveted on the door. The sister dared not speak to her. frail limbs. Fantine began to be restless. gave some directions. In the course of twenty minutes. She remained thus for a quarter of an hour. inquired whether the mayor had made his appearance at the infirmary. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

since I am going away to-morrow. but she uttered no name.’ Sister Simplice herself was surprised at M. very low and gently. Fantine started up and looked towards the door. hide ‘neath my veil the child whom you one day begged from me.Half an hour passed. Her thought was clearly perceptible. ‘Yestere’en the Virgin Mary came near my stove. In the meantime. buy thread. and said to me. corn-flowers are blue. then fell back again. corn-flowers are blue. She was livid and her lips were blue. This is what Fantine was singing:— “Lovely things we will buy As we stroll the faubourgs through. All at once she began to sing in a voice as feeble as a breath. One would have said that something dark was descending upon her. Then the sister heard her say. Fantine was staring at the tester of her bed. then an hour. ‘He is wrong not to come to-day. buy linen. she blamed no one. She smiled now and then. in a broidered mantle clad. The nun listened. ‘Here. Roses are pink.’ “Lovely things we will buy 428 Les Miserables . every time the clock struck. buy a needle. Madeleine’s delay. She seemed to be endeavoring to recall something. no one came. she made no complaint. But she coughed in a melancholy way. I love my love. Five o’clock struck. Haste to the city.

spoiling not. God may give me his loveliest star.’—‘Madame. ‘‘Wash this linen. what is to be done?’—‘Then make of it a winding-sheet in which to bury me. and corn-flowers are blue.As we stroll the faubourgs through. the child is no longer here. beside my stove I have set a cradle with ribbons decked. weep.’ This song was an old cradle romance with which she had. what shall I do with this linen fine?’—‘Make of it clothes for thy newborn babe.’ “Lovely things we will buy As we stroll the faubourgs through. which I will embroider and fill with flowers. a petticoat fair with its bodice fine. She sang it in so sad a voice. I love my love. even a nun. and which had never recurred to her mind in all the five years during which she had been parted from her child. ‘Madame. I love my love. soiling not. corn-flowers are blue. Roses are pink. accustomed as she was to austerities. and to so sweet an air. lulled her little Cosette to sleep.’ “Roses are pink and corn-flowers are blue. in former days. Make of it. corn-flowers are blue. I prefer the child thou hast granted me. The sister.com 429 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’—‘Where?’—‘In the stream. ‘Dear Holy Virgin. that it was enough to make any one. felt a tear spring to her eyes.

as usual. Fantine did not seem to hear it. that no one knew what road he had taken. that he had gone alone. and her head thrust through the opening of the curtains. Fantine. that the mayor had set out that morning before six o’clock. that others asserted that they had met him on the road to Paris. the sister interrogating. that people said he had been seen to turn into the road to Arras. with the feverish vivacity of certain organic maladies. Sister Simplice sent a serving-maid to inquire of the portress of the factory. That when he went away he had been very gentle. which unite the free movements of health with the frightful emaciation of death. whether the mayor had returned. with her shrivelled hands resting on the bolster. in a little tilbury harnessed to a white horse. and that he had merely told the portress not to expect him that night. Madeleine! Why are you talking so low? What is he doing? Why does he not come?’ 430 Les Miserables . The girl returned in a few minutes. Fantine was still motionless and seemed absorbed in her own thoughts. While the two women were whispering together. and if he would not come to the infirmary soon. with their backs turned to Fantine’s bed. She no longer seemed to pay attention to anything about her. and was listening. cold as the weather was. The servant informed Sister Simplice in a very low tone. without even a driver. the servant conjecturing.The clock struck six. All at once she cried:— ‘You are speaking of M. had raised herself to her knees in bed.

it seemed to her that the mere communication of the truth to the invalid would. continued in a loud voice. and that this was a serious matter in Fantine’s present state. for it was a lie that the maid had proposed to her. her lips moved. You are whispering it to each other there. the sister raised her calm. deal her a terrible blow. and said.’ said the sister. ‘Answer me!’ cried Fantine. ‘Say that he is busy with the city council.com 431 . they wheeled round in affright. my child.Her voice was so abrupt and hoarse that the two women thought they heard the voice of a man. ‘Gone!’ she cried.’ Fantine raised herself and crouched on her heels in the bed: her eyes sparkled. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ Fantine. ‘lie down again.’ Sister Simplice blushed faintly. ‘he has gone to get Cosette. without doubt.’ Then she raised her arms to heaven. ‘Monsieur le Maire has gone away.’ The servant-maid hastened to say in the nun’s ear. I want to know it. sad eyes to Fantine. On the other hand. she was praying in a low voice. and her white face became ineffable. and with an accent that was both imperious and heart-rending:— ‘He cannot come? Why not? You know the reason. Her flush did not last long.’ ‘Be calm. without changing her attitude. indescribable joy beamed from that melancholy face. The servant stammered:— ‘The portress told me that he could not come to-day.

soon? He wants to give me a surprise. it is very wrong to talk loudly. ‘Sister. and the latter was pained to feel that perspiration. I will do anything you wish. Soon. and which Sister Simplice had given her. Montfermeil is a little to the left as you come thence. the authorities will not allow them to keep the child since they have received their pay. it is nearly five years since I saw her last. I know that well. when I spoke to him of Cosette. for they have been paid. M. you cannot imagine how much attached one gets to children. he need not even go through Paris.’ She lay down again. I beg your pardon for having spoken so loud. she will 432 Les Miserables .’ said the sister. ‘try to rest now. they cannot say anything. can they? they will give back Cosette. ‘He set out this morning for Paris. you know! he made me sign a letter so that she could be taken from the Thenardiers. I was naughty just now. I am not ill at all any more. ‘My child. just think! he has gone to Montfermeil to get my little Cosette. and kissed the little silver cross which she wore on her neck. I am even quite hungry.When her prayer was finished. Madeleine is good. my good sister. Do not make signs to me that I must not talk. but. and then. I am very happy: the good God is good.’ Fantine took the sister’s hand in her moist hands.’ she said. you see. helped the nun to arrange her pillow. ‘I am willing to lie down again. in fact. sister! I am extremely happy. I am going to see Cosette again. Do you remember how he said to me yesterday. with the nun’s assistance. and do not talk any more. I am doing well.

will he not? to-morrow will be a festival day. ‘Oh. she laughed softly. to-morrow morning. you will see! If you only knew what pretty little rosy fingers she had! In the first place. she spoke in a lively and natural voice.com 433 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook. how good M. replied. I call her Cosette. le Maire is to go! it is very cold! it is true. now and then she talked. that I should see Cosette again soon. at least? he will be here to-morrow. she is seven years old. ‘I shall see Cosette to-morrow! you see. but the diligences go very quickly! he will be here to-morrow with Cosette: how far is it from here to Montfermeil?’ The sister. she was all rosy now. the joy of a mother is almost infantile. you must remind me to put on my little cap that has lace on it. good sister of the good God. who had no idea of distances. like this! she must be a big girl now. like that. that I am no longer ill.be so pretty. I am mad. What a place that Montfermeil is! I took that journey on foot once. I could dance if any one wished it. I think that he will be here to-morrow. she will have very beautiful hands. Stop! this morning I was looking at the dust on the chimney-piece. she is quite a young lady. he had on his cloak. it was very long for me. she had ridiculous hands when she was only a year old. Oh. her whole face was one smile. but her name is really Euphrasie. sister. Mon Dieu! how wrong it is not to see one’s children for years! One ought to reflect that life is not eternal. and I had a sort of idea come across me.’ ‘To-morrow! to-morrow!’ said Fantine.’ A person who had seen her a quarter of an hour previously would not have understood the change.

and when I cannot sleep at night. I can hear her asleep.’ Fantine laid her head on her pillow and said in a low voice: ‘Yes. The sister drew the curtains together again. he saw Fantine’s big eyes gazing at him. her little gentle 434 Les Miserables .‘Well. lie down again. She added:— ‘See! there is just room. and. poor kitten. entered softly. that her guess was correct: the doctor approved. Between seven and eight o’clock the doctor came. ‘She will be allowed to sleep beside me in a little bed. by the light of the taper. hoping that she would fall into a doze. for you are going to have your child. ‘now that you are happy. sir?’ The doctor thought that she was delirious. and she went on:— ‘You see. and she said nothing more.’ resumed the nun. without stirring. and approached the bed on tiptoe. and do not talk any more. be good. He returned to Fantine’s bed. after all. I shall be able to say good morning to her. he thought Fantine was asleep. will she not. She said to him.’ The doctor took Sister Simplice aside. without even moving her head. every one here is right. and that in their doubt they had not thought it well to undeceive the invalid. that it was possible. not hearing any sound. he opened the curtains a little. Madeleine was absent for a day or two. she began to stare all about her with wide-open eyes and a joyous air.’ And then. who believed that the mayor had gone to Montfermeil. when she wakes up in the morning. mind me. and she explained matters to him. that M. Sister Simplice is right.

As he took his departure.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. I am cured. if good luck willed that the mayor should actually arrive to-morrow with the child. but all those things are such mysteries: we may be able to save her. a sort of life had suddenly supervened and reanimated this poor. who knows? there are crises so astounding. the pressure on her chest had decreased. she was better. and. le Maire has gone to get that mite of a child?’ The doctor recommended silence. worn-out creature. her pulse had regained its strength. a calming potion. hold! in truth. She stretched out her arm.breathing will do me good. he said to the sister:— ‘She is doing better. and exclaimed with a laugh:— ‘Ah. and that all painful emotions should be avoided. in case the fever should increase again during the night. ‘did the sister tell you that M.com 435 . Cosette will arrive to-morrow.’ said the doctor. and in an advanced state.’ ‘Give me your hand.’ she went on. you did not know it.’ The doctor was surprised. great joy has been known to arrest maladies. he prescribed an infusion of pure chinchona. ‘Doctor. I know well that this is an organic disease.

which we left on the road. and with his own hands led the little white horse to the stable. ‘Does Monsieur wish a bed? Does Monsieur require sup436 Les Miserables . responded with an abstracted air to the attentions of the people of the inn. the man whom we have been following up to this moment alighted from it. The landlady of the hotel entered. sat down there. entered the porte-cochere of the Hotel de la Poste in Arras. but at bottom. then he opened the door of a billiard-room which was situated on the ground floor. he did himself the justice to acknowledge that it was not his fault. and leaned his elbows on a table. he was not sorry. sent back the extra horse.CHAPTER VII THE TRAVELLER ON HIS ARRIVAL TAKES PRECAUTIONS FOR DEPARTURE It was nearly eight o’clock in the evening when the cart. he had taken fourteen hours for the journey which he had counted on making in six.

’ He inquired:— ‘Is not the posting-station located here?’ ‘Yes. the seat beside the post-boy chanced to be vacant. as though he feared lest some one should hear the question which he was about to put. and inquired whether there was any way of returning that same night to M. ‘Will not the horse be in a condition to set out again tomorrow morning?’ ‘Oh.com 437 . and he walked on at random. the streets were dark. ‘Monsieur. Monsieur! he must rest for two days at least. He was not acquainted with Arras. not without having first glanced behind and in front of him.’ This done. he engaged it and paid for it.’ Here he broke his silence. He crossed the little river Crinchon. he left the hotel and began to wander about the town. A citizen was passing along with a lantern. but he seemed bent upon not asking the way of the passers-by. by the mail-wagon. he decided to apply to this man.’ said the clerk. sir. ‘The stableman says that Monsieur’s horse is extremely fatigued.per?’ He made a sign of the head in the negative. After some hesitation. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he showed his passport.’ The hostess conducted him to the office. and found himself in a labyrinth of narrow alleys where he lost his way. sur M. ‘do not fail to be here ready to start at precisely one o’clock in the morning.

the man pointed out to him four long windows all lighted up.’ On the way. Do you see those four windows? That is the Court of Assizes. who was an oldish man.’ said the bourgeois. that is to say. sir. if you please.’ said he. sir.’ ‘Is it there that the Assizes are held?’ he asked. however. ‘Certainly. in the front of a vast and gloomy building. There is light there. ‘well. built a grand hall there.’ ‘You do not belong in town. you have arrived in season. M. ‘where is the court-house. ‘Stop.’ When they arrived on the grand square. and they are holding an evening session. sir?’ replied the bourgeois. The matter must have been greatly protracted. in the direction of the hotel of the prefecture. who was bishop in ‘82. you see. and the courts are holding their sittings provisionally in the prefecture. It is in this grand hall that the court is held. the prefecture of to-day was the bishop’s palace before the Revolution. the bourgeois said to him:— ‘If Monsieur desires to witness a case. follow me. ‘Upon my word. so they are not through. you are in luck. de Conzie.‘Monsieur. sir. for the court-house is undergoing repairs just at this moment. it is rather late. I only wish to speak to one of the lawyers. The sittings generally close at six o’clock. here is 438 Les Miserables . Do you take an interest in this affair? Is it a criminal case? Are you a witness?’ He replied:— ‘I have not come on any business. I happen to be going in the direction of the court-house.’ ‘That is different.

on the threshold of the halls of justice.the door where the sentry stands. murmuring together in low voices. This spacious hall. ‘What stage have they reached. illuminated by a single lamp. sir?’ he asked.com 439 . I know no one here. ‘Excuse me sir. The obscurity was such that he did not fear to accost the first lawyer whom he met. intermingled with lawyers in their gowns. It is always a heart-breaking thing to see these congregations of men robed in black. Has judgment been pronounced?’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and served as the large hall of the palace of justice. was the old hall of the episcopal palace. separated it from the large apartment where the court was sitting. which was closed at that moment. were whispering together here and there.’ said the lawyer. You have only to ascend the grand staircase. perhaps you are a relative?’ ‘No. All these groups seem to the passing and thoughtful observer so many sombre hives where buzzing spirits construct in concert all sorts of dark edifices. and a few minutes later he was in a hall containing many people. and where groups. Condemnations pronounced in advance are more likely to be the result. It is rare that charity and pity are the outcome of these words.’ He conformed to the bourgeois’s directions. ‘It is finished. A double-leaved door. ‘Finished!’ This word was repeated in such accents that the lawyer turned round.

and when the hearing is resumed. Of what are you speaking?’ ‘Nothing. you might 440 Les Miserables . The matter was very simple. and she was condemned for life. It is about a sort of blackguard.’ ‘So it was a woman?’ said he. I don’t know his name exactly. ‘I really think that there is not.’ ‘What other case?’ ‘Oh! this one is a clear case also. the hearing has been suspended. There is a great crowd. Some people have gone out. ‘Why. certainly. There’s a bandit’s phiz for you! I’d send him to the galleys on the strength of his face alone.’ ‘Is there any way of getting into the court-room. a man arrested for a second offence. how comes it that the hall is still lighted?’ ‘For another case.‘Of course. sir?’ said he. The woman had murdered her child. which was begun about two hours ago. the infanticide was proved. a convict who has been guilty of theft. ‘There was no identity to be established. in a voice so weak that it was barely audible:— ‘Then his identity was established?’ ‘What identity?’ replied the lawyer.’ He continued. However. But since it is all over. Nothing else was possible. the jury threw out the question of premeditation.’ ‘To penal servitude?’ ‘For life. The Limosin woman.

com 441 .make an effort. but that did not appear to be entirely proved. and never missed his culprits. They had begun with the infanticide. When he saw that nothing was settled.’ ‘Where is the entrance?’ ‘Through yonder large door. the attorney-general was very clever.’ replied the usher. The docket of the session was very heavy. he was a brilliant fellow who wrote verses. almost simultaneously. and the speech of the public prosecutor were still to come. He inquired of this usher:— ‘Will the door be opened soon. but the lawyer’s plea. It was that which lent a bad aspect to his case. The man would probably be condemned.’ The lawyer left him. pierced his heart like needles of ice and like blades of fire. the man’s examination and the depositions of the witnesses had been completed. and now they had reached the convict. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. An usher stood at the door communicating with the hall of the Assizes. it could not be finished before midnight. that he had already been in the galleys at Toulon. The words of this indifferent spectator had. sir?’ ‘It will not be opened at all. but he could not have told whether what he felt was pain or pleasure. the old offender. However. all possible emotions. what had been proved was.’ This man had stolen apples. in turn. He drew near to many groups and listened to what they were saying. the ‘return horse. almost intermingled with each other. In the course of a few moments he had experienced. he breathed freely once more. the president had appointed for the same day two short and simple cases.

Mayor of M.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because the hall is full. but Monsieur le President only admits public functionaries to them. drew out his pocket-book. and upon that leaf he wrote rapidly. walked straight up to the usher. He retired with bowed head.’ replied the usher. this line: M. Madeleine. tore out a leaf.‘What! It will not be opened when the hearing is resumed? Is not the hearing suspended?’ ‘The hearing has just been begun again. made his way through the crowd.’ ‘What! There is not room for one more?’ ‘Not another one. ‘but the door will not be opened again. then he ascended the stairs once more with great strides. sur M.’ So saying. as though hesitating at every step. On reaching the landing-place. The violent conflict which had been going on within him since the preceding evening was not yet ended. two or three extra places behind Monsieur le President. to tell the truth. and said in an authoritative manner:— 442 Les Miserables . All at once he opened his coat. took from it a pencil. It is probable that he was holding counsel with himself. No one can enter now.’ The usher added after a pause: ‘There are. he leaned his back against the balusters and folded his arms. and every moment he encountered some new phase of it. by the light of the street lantern. traversed the antechamber. and slowly descended the stairs. the usher turned his back. handed him the paper. The door is closed..

’ The usher took the paper. cast a glance upon it.com 443 .‘Take this to Monsieur le President. and obeyed. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

there was not one out of the hundred and forty communes of the arrondissement of M. sur M.CHAPTER VIII AN ENTRANCE BY FAVOR Although he did not suspect the fact. when occasion offered. it had eventually passed the confines of a small district and had been spread abroad through two or three neighboring departments. the mayor of M. Everywhere the name of M. He had even at need contrived to aid and multiply the industries of other arrondissements. and the hydraulic manufacture of cloth at Boubers-sur-Canche. the flax-spinning industry at Frevent. who was presiding over this session of the Assizes at Arras. enjoyed a sort of celebrity. sur M. its mayor. was ac444 Les Miserables . supported with his credit and his funds the linen factory at Boulogne. For the space of seven years his reputation for virtue had filled the whole of Bas Boulonnais. which was not indebted to him for some benefit. Arras and Douai envied the happy little town of M. The Councillor of the Royal Court of Douai. sur M. Madeleine was pronounced with veneration. Besides the service which he had rendered to the chief town by resuscitating the black jet industry. It was thus that he had.

and as he chanced to be near the light. and who was now bowing to the earth before him. He unfolded it. bent over the back of the President’s arm-chair and handed him the paper on which was inscribed the line which we have just perused. with this name which was so profoundly and universally honored.’ the President. you are now in the council-chamber. ‘The President of the Court of Assizes presents his respects to M. A few minutes later he found himself alone in a sort of wainscoted cabinet of severe aspect.com 445 . The last words of the usher who had just quitted him still rang in his ears: ‘Monsieur. he could read it. placed upon a table with a green cloth. Madeleine. seized a pen and wrote a few words at the bottom of the paper and returned it to the usher. ‘Will Monsieur do me the honor to follow me?’ It was the same usher who had turned his back upon him but a moment previously. In the midst of his revery he heard some one saying to him. When the usher. adding: ‘The gentleman desires to be present at the trial. in the same place and the same attitude in which the usher had left him. He followed the usher. you Free eBooks at Planet eBook. lighted by two wax candles. At the same time. ‘Admit him. discreetly opening the door which connected the council-chamber with the court-room.quainted. saying. the usher handed him the paper.’ The unhappy man whose history we are relating had remained near the door of the hall.’ He crushed the paper in his hand as though those words contained for him a strange and bitter aftertaste. with a quick and deferential movement. in common with the rest of the world.

He had eaten nothing for four and twenty hours. under glass. the 9th of June. and which his fate was at that moment traversing. doubtless. and in which Pache forwarded to the commune the list of ministers and deputies held in arrest by them. It is chiefly at the moment when there is the greatest need for attaching them to the painful realities of life. but he was not conscious of it. mayor of Paris and minister. through an error. He stared at the wall. It seemed to him that he felt nothing. but could not. an ancient autograph letter of Jean Nicolas Pache. He was in the very place where the judges deliberated and condemned. he was worn out by the jolts of the cart. wondering that it should be that chamber and that it should be he. that this letter struck him as very curious. then he looked at himself. Any spectator who had chanced to see him at that moment.’ These words were mingled in his thoughts with a vague memory of narrow corridors and dark staircases which he had recently traversed. that the threads of thought snap within the brain. The supreme moment had arrived. The usher had left him alone. would have imagined. and you will find yourself in the court-room. no doubt. behind the President’s chair. where so many lives had been broken. and who had watched him. which was soon to ring with his name. With stupid tranquillity he surveyed this peaceful and terrible apartment. He sought to collect his faculties. for he 446 Les Miserables . and which contained.. of the year II. and dated. He approached a black frame which was suspended on the wall.have only to turn the copper handle of yonder door.

The same silence reigned. Beads of perspiration burst forth among his hair and trickled down upon his temples. not a sound in front. he listened. he was outside in a corridor. went to it. He was thinking of Fantine and Cosette. remained fixed on that brass handle. As he dreamed. paused there. and there was the same darkness around him. opened it. At a certain moment he made that indescribable gesture of a sort of authority mingled with rebellion. He had almost forgotten that door. and passed out. making all sorts of angles. which is intended to convey. He read it without paying any attention to it. and little by little became impregnated with fear. He was no longer in that chamber. the perspiration lay ice-cold on his brow. and he fled as though pursued. His glance.did not take his eyes from it. he turned round. he straightened himself up with a shiver. He breathed. a long. he leaned against the wall. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and his eyes fell upon the brass knob of the door which separated him from the Court of Assizes. then grew terrified. caught sight of the door through which he had entered in front of him. and he read it two or three times. He was out of breath. narrow corridor. ‘Pardieu! who compels me to this?’ Then he wheeled briskly round. he still listened. he staggered. and which does so well convey. calm at first. not a sound behind him. When he had turned many angles in this corridor. The stone was cold. lighted here and there by lanterns similar to the night taper of invalids.com 447 . broken by steps and gratings. and unconsciously. the corridor through which he had approached.

Had he listened. shone like a terrible star for him. ‘Alas!’ A quarter of an hour passed thus. and he did not hear. there alone in the darkness. He walked slowly. dropped his arms. He was in the court-room. At length he bowed his head. He gazed at it as a lamb might gaze into the eye of a tiger. From time to time he advanced a step and approached the door. trembling with cold and with something else. and as though crushed. he grasped the knob convulsively. perchance. He had meditated all night long. he found himself near the door. Suddenly. The first thing he caught sight of was the knob of the door. sighed with agony.Then. and retraced his steps. he meditated. He re-entered the council-chamber. It seemed as though some one had overtaken him in his flight and was leading him back. which said. He could not take his eyes from it. without himself knowing how it happened. too. he would have heard the sound of the adjoining hall like a sort of confused murmur. the door opened. which was round and of polished brass. 448 Les Miserables . This knob. he had meditated all the day: he heard within him but one voice. but he did not listen.

on the tables candles in brass candlesticks. who were gnawing their nails or closing their eyelids. a ragged crowd. suspended from nails in the wainscot. doors blackened by handmarks. where all the apparatus of a criminal case. It was a vast and badly lighted apartment. lawyers in all sorts of attitudes. at the other end. and remained standing. At the one end of the hall. in threadbare robes.com 449 . sadness. with its petty and mournful gravity in the midst of the throng. spotted woodwork. with abstracted air. contemplating what he saw.CHAPTER IX A PLACE WHERE CONVICTIONS ARE IN PROCESS OF FORMATION He advanced a pace. darkness. now full of silence. the one where he was. and from all this Free eBooks at Planet eBook. tap-room lamps which emitted more smoke than light. closed the door mechanically behind him. a dirty ceiling. ugliness. tables covered with serge that was yellow rather than green. were judges. soldiers with hard but honest faces. now full of uproar. was in process of development. ancient.

sat a man between two gendarmes. full of hatred. his eyes went thither naturally. as though they had known beforehand where that figure was. he saw him. and. in the stretch of wall on the President’s left.there was disengaged an austere and august impression. and frightened about him. He thought he was looking at himself. No one in all that throng paid any attention to him. all glances were directed towards a single point. but exactly similar in attitude and aspect. people had drawn aside to make way for him. just as it was on the day when he entered D——. and that grand divine thing which is called justice. who had seen M. not absolutely the same in face. with his bristling hair. a wooden bench placed against a small door. This man was the man. he had bowed to him. on this bench.. there was something indescribably coarse. illuminated by several candles. sur M. understanding that the personage who had just entered was the mayor of M. the attorney-general. with that wild and uneasy eye. with that blouse. Madeleine at 450 Les Miserables . the President had turned his head. stupid. ‘Good God! shall I become like that again?’ This creature seemed to be at least sixty. At the sound made by the opening door. of course. grown old. He said to himself with a shudder. He did not seek him. concealing his soul in that hideous mass of frightful thoughts which he had spent nineteen years in collecting on the floor of the prison. for one there felt that grand human thing which is called the law.

there they were. he was watching. all these he had already beheld once. they were real gendarmes and real judges. a throng of cruelly curious heads. gendarmes. it was another self of his that was there! all called that man who was being tried Jean Valjean. with all that there is formidable in reality.. clerks. Everything was there. the apparatus was the same. and of spectators. unheard-of vision. a real crowd. All this was yawning before him.com 451 . the hour of the night. and exclaimed in the deepest recesses of his soul. they existed. of soldiers. all were the same. enacted by his spectre. and real men of flesh and blood: it was all over. ‘Never!’ And by a tragic play of destiny which made all his ideas tremble. he beheld the monstrous aspects of his past reappear and live once more around him. and rendered him nearly mad. only above the President’s head there hung a crucifix. in days gone by. he was the victim of a sort of hallucination. twenty-seven years before. recognized him and saluted him also: he had hardly perceived it. it was no longer an effort of his memory. a mirage of his thought. sur M.M. something which the courts had lacked at the time of his condemnation: God had been abFree eBooks at Planet eBook. he had a sort of representation of the most horrible moment of his life. the faces of the judges. he had encountered those fatal things once more. they moved. he shut his eyes. Judges. Under his very eyes. whither the duties of his office had called him more than once. He was horrified by it.

gradually he recovered. an old offender who has broken his ban. terrified at the thought that he might be seen. he dropped into it. At the moment of this entrance. a bandit. and they were unanimous. This man. he attained that phase of composure where it is possible to listen. called the Pierron orchard. witnesses had been heard.sent when he had been judged. The attention of all was excited to the highest pitch. but did not see him. the defendant’s lawyer had just finished his plea. which stood on the judge’s desk. a miserable specimen of humanity. Bamatabois was one of the jurors. broken in the orchard of a neighbor. the affair had lasted for three hours: for three hours that crowd had been watching a strange man. as we have just said. There was a chair behind him. we have here. either profoundly stupid or profoundly subtle. and then. gradually bending beneath the weight of a terrible likeness. He looked for Javert. in our hands. Who was this man? an examination had been made. was a vagabond who had been found in a field carrying a branch laden with ripe apples. an ex-convict. a miscreant 452 Les Miserables . the hall was sparely lighted. light had abounded throughout the entire debate. when he was seated. he had fully regained consciousness of the reality of things. the accusation said: ‘We have in our grasp not only a marauder. as the reader already knows. to conceal his face from the whole room. M. he could now see without being seen. he took advantage of a pile of cardboard boxes. a stealer of fruit. the seat of the witnesses was hidden from him by the clerk’s table.

besides the galleys. and like a stranger in the midst of this society which was seizing fast upon him. replied with embarrassment. accompanied by violence. with more anxiety than he did himself.com 453 . and who.of the most dangerous description. Who was this man? what was the nature of his apathy? was it imbecility or craft? Did he understand too well. a crime provided for by article 383 of the Penal Code. on the person of a child. he was an idiot in the presence of all these minds ranged in order of battle around him. which descended ever closer over his head. in case his identity were established. committed a highway robbery. in the face of the unanimity of the witnesses. it is a case of a second offence. was a denial.’ In the face of this accusation. on emerging from the galleys at Toulon. the likeness increased every moment. eight years ago. he made signs and gestures which were meant to convey No. later on he will be judged for the old crime. or else he stared at the ceiling: he spoke with difficulty. whom justice has long been in search of. when his identity shall have been judicially established. the accused appeared to be astonished more than anything else. a Savoyard named Little Gervais. or did he not underFree eBooks at Planet eBook. a malefactor named Jean Valjean. and the affair of Little Gervais were to end thereafter in condemnation. from head to foot. there was even a glimpse of a possibility afforded. but his whole person. the right to try him for which we reserve hereafter. nevertheless. that sentence freighted with calamity. condemn him for the fresh deed. and the entire crowd surveyed. a possible death penalty. it was a question of the most menacing future for him. He has just committed a fresh theft.

accordingly.—an awkward matter couched in fine style. in that provincial tongue which has long constituted the eloquence of the bar. but Benigne Bossuet himself was obliged to allude to a chicken in the midst of a funeral oration. the General Commandant of the province. the age of Louis XIV. the arguments. the monarch. a sainted pontiff. the temple of Melpomene. and which was formerly employed by all advocates. the king. the accents which we have just listened to. to whom it is suited on account of its grave sonorousness and its majestic stride.. etc.stand at all? these were questions which divided the crowd. the illustrious warrior. at Paris as well as at Romorantin or at Montbrison. and a woman a spouse. The lawyer had. is no longer spoken except by the official orators of magistracy. the pupils in the seminary. it was also obscure. etc. a musical solemnity. a theatre. The lawyer established the fact that the theft of the apples had 454 Les Miserables . begun with an explanation as to the theft of the apples. Monseigneur the Bishop. and which to-day. there was something both terrible and puzzling in this case: the drama was not only melancholy. the grand age. the imposture which distills its venom through the columns of those organs. a tongue in which a husband is called a consort. a concert.. the eloquent interpreter of public prosecution. the centre of art and civilization. these tender levities. the reigning family. The counsel for the defence had spoken tolerably well. the august blood of our kings. and he extricated himself from the situation in stately fashion. the district-attorney. who. errors imputed to newspapers. and seemed to divide the jury. having become classic. Paris.

and would have won for him the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. His client. did that prove that he was the thief of the apples? that was a presumption at the most. ‘in good faith. had not been seen scaling that wall nor breaking that branch by any one.— in short. and his counsel. Where was there any proof to the contrary? No doubt that branch had been broken off and concealed after the scaling of the wall. An admission upon this last point would certainly have been better. The prisoner. to this testimony. well attested. persisted in calling Champmathieu. the theft and his character of convict. positively and without hesitation. The lawyer did not deny that that character appeared to be. four witnesses recognize Champmathieu. He had been taken with that branch (which the lawyer preferred to call a bough) in his possession. the counsel could oppose nothing but the denial of his client. the accused had resided at Faverolles. but supposing that he was the convict Jean Valjean.com 455 .’ He obstinately denied everything. the denial of an interested party. in his character of counsel. had adopted ‘a bad system of defence. Jean Valjean. but he said that he had found it broken off and lying on the ground. whom he. the accused had exercised the calling of a tree-pruner there. and had picked it up. to these signs. it was true. not a proof.not been circumstantially proved. But what proof was there that that thief had been Champmathieu? One thing only. all that was true.’ was obliged to admit it. then thrown away by the alarmed marauder. there was no doubt that there had been a thief in the case. the name of Champmathieu might well have had its origin in Jean Mathieu. His character as an ex-convict. unhappily. as that convict.

etc. but ought not the paucity of this intelligence to be taken into consideration? This man was visibly stupid. by means of a clever autonomasia which went back to the sources and causes of crime. was that a reason for condemning him? As for the affair with Little Gervais. as district-attorneys usually are.’ and skilfully took advantage of this loyalty. then dawning under the name of the Satanic school. So this man was Jean Valjean. Long-continued wretchedness in the galleys. the counsel need not discuss it. which had been bestowed upon it by 456 Les Miserables . The district-attorney answered the counsel for the defence. The lawyer wound up by beseeching the jury and the court. The advocate had seemed to admit that the prisoner was Jean Valjean. thinking. He took note of this. He was violent and florid. the counsel had advised him to do this. He reached the accused through all the concessions made by his lawyer. He defended himself badly. It was an error. and not the frightful chastisement which descends upon the convict guilty of a second offence. no doubt. This point had been conceded to the accusation and could no longer be disputed. long misery outside the galleys. the district-attorney thundered against the immorality of the romantic school. had brutalized him.indulgence of his judges. Here. but the accused had obstinately refused. He congratulated the counsel for the defence on his ‘loyalty. that he would save everything by admitting nothing. it did not enter into the case. if the identity of Jean Valjean appeared to them to be evident. to apply to him the police penalties which are provided for a criminal who has broken his ban.

the district-attorney resumed with an oratorical turn calculated to raise the enthusiasm of the journal of the prefecture to the highest pitch on the following day: And it is such a man. While the Free eBooks at Planet eBook.. and Cochepaille.com 457 . Javert. etc.. the upright inspector of police. etc. the convicts Brevet. who denies the crime. Who was this Jean Valjean? Description of Jean Valjean: a monster spewed forth. the theft. The model for this sort of description is contained in the tale of Theramene. inured by his past life to culpable deeds. or rather... etc. to the influence of this perverse literature the crime of Champmathieu. as was proved by the crime committed against Little Gervais. gentlemen of the jury. he attributed. and three of his former companions in infamy. denies everything. Chenildieu. of Jean Valjean. not without some probability. still holding in his hand the object stolen.. etc. etc. etc. to speak more correctly. a few paces from a wall that had been scaled.. he passed on to Jean Valjean himself. four witnesses recognize him—Javert. which is not useful to tragedy. What obduracy! You will do justice. etc.’ The description finished. to which we will not recur. What does he offer in opposition to this overwhelming unanimity? His denial.. denies even his own identity! In addition to a hundred other proofs. The audience and the jury ‘shuddered. it is such a man. the climbing the wall. and but little reformed by his sojourn in the galleys. caught upon the highway in the very act of theft.. without means of existence. but which every day renders great services to judicial eloquence. Having exhausted these considerations. etc.the critics of the Quotidienne and the Oriflamme. etc. etc. vagabond. beggar.

he moved his head slowly from right to left and from left to right in the sort of mute and melancholy protest with which he had contented himself since the beginning of the argument. From time to time. and which set forth in all its nakedness the ‘profound perversity’ of this man. as the reader will remember. began by complimenting Monsieur l’Avocat-General on his ‘admirable speech. the accused listened to him open-mouthed. which denoted not imbecility. but craft. 458 Les Miserables . At that time.’ then replied as best he could. Baloup. at those ‘energetic’ moments of the prosecutor’s speech.district-attorney was speaking. it was penal servitude for life. but he weakened. when eloquence which cannot contain itself overflows in a flood of withering epithets and envelops the accused like a storm. with a sort of amazement in which some admiration was assuredly blended. The counsel for the defence rose. ‘That is what comes of not having asked M. the ground was evidently slipping away from under his feet. He ended by making his reserves on the affair of Little Gervais and demanding a severe sentence. a habit of deceiving justice. evidently deliberate. skill. Two or three times the spectators who were nearest to him heard him say in a low voice. He was evidently surprised that a man could talk like that.’ The district-attorney directed the attention of the jury to this stupid attitude.

The President had the accused stand up. took another look. as he stood there. He said:— ‘This is what I have to say. and that it was with Monsieur Baloup.— as though they were all pressing forward to issue forth at once. ‘Have you anything to add to your defence?’ The man did not appear to understand. pell-mell.— incoherent. laid his monstrous fist on the rim of woodwork in front of his bench. That I have been a wheelwright in Paris. he began to speak. the gendarmes. The President repeated the question. and all at once. It seemed. from the manner in which the words escaped from his mouth. and addressed to him the customary question. his counsel. This time the man heard it. stared at the audience. fixing his glance upon the district-attorney. cast his eyes about him. It is Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the jury. He made a motion like a man who is just waking up.CHAPTER X THE SYSTEM OF DENIALS The moment for closing the debate had arrived. tumbling over each other. the court. twisting in his hands a terrible cap which he had. impetuous.com 459 . He seemed to understand. It was like an eruption.

never in closed workshops. you wash at the faucet in front of you. but the masters don’t like it. The masters took advantage of my age— and then I had my daughter. She came home at seven o’clock in the evening. which is terrible. There are people who have not much linen. they call him nothing but an old bird. when it freezes. old beast! I was not earning more than thirty sous a day. you are not so cold. and went to bed at once. in snow. and wait until late. I was in a bad state. workmen are so mean! When a man is no longer young. and water drops on you from everywhere. if you do not wash. all day long up to her waist in a tub. The planks are badly joined. She earned a little also. That penetrates. They paid me as little as possible. She has also worked at the laundry of the Enfants-Rouges. In winter one gets so cold that one beats one’s arms together to warm one’s self. she was so tired. in courtyards. under sheds when the masters are good. you see. It sufficed for us two. you have your petticoats all damp above and below. you must still wash.a hard trade. I was fifty-three. they say it wastes time. where the water comes through faucets. and rinse in a basin behind you. but there is that hot steam. Her 460 Les Miserables . When the wind cuts your face. As it is enclosed. and which ruins your eyes. because space is required. in rain. Handling iron when there is ice between the paving-stones is hard work. At forty a man is done for. also. That wears a man out quickly One is old while he is still quite young in that trade. it is all the same. And then. who was a laundress at the river. In the wheelwright’s trade one works always in the open air. you lose your custom. She had trouble. You are not in the tub there.

The President. She is dead. I am telling the truth. He had become bankrupt. raised his voice. and may induce vital results. I tell you. an attentive and benevolent man. We have not been very happy. Baloup does. rapid. and remained standing. and not understanding why. He reminded ‘the gentlemen of the jury’ that ‘the sieur Baloup. formerly a master-wheelwright. he enjoined him to listen to what he was about to say. with whom the accused stated that he had served. hoarse voice. The gravest presumptions rest upon you. Ah. had been summoned in vain.husband beat her.’ Then turning to the accused. He stared at the public. Once he paused to salute some one in the crowd. The sort of affirmations which he seemed to fling out before him at random came like hiccoughs. with a sort of irritated and savage ingenuousness. you have only to ask. and added: ‘You are in a position where reflection is necessary.com 461 . Baloup’s. the audience burst into a laugh. Prisoner. and was not to be found. who did not go to the ball. and to each he added the gesture of a woodcutter who is splitting wood. perceiving that they were laughing. He had said these things in a loud.’ The man ceased speaking. he began to laugh himself. I don’t know what is wanted of me. Go see at M. and. Who knows Father Champmathieu there? But M. in your Free eBooks at Planet eBook. There. yes! how stupid I am! Paris is a gulf. She was a good girl. and who was very peaceable. When he had finished. I remember one Shrove-Tuesday when she went to bed at eight o’clock. and after all. It was inauspicious.

and steal the apples. that you are the convict. did you or did you not climb the wall of the Pierron orchard. Jean Valjean.’ said the district-attorney. ‘Prisoner. and who knows what answer he is going to make. Your embarrassment condemns you. I summon you for the last time to explain yourself clearly on two points. commit the crime of breaking in and theft? In the second place. which was the name of his mother. Jean Valjean— yes or no?’ The prisoner shook his head with a capable air. and said:— ‘In the first place—‘ Then he stared at his cap. in a severe voice. break the branch. It is evident that you have been guilty of entering.’ The prisoner had finally resumed his seat. You are not answering anything that has been asked of you. and of the theft of ripe apples from the Pierron orchard. like a man who has thoroughly understood. In the first place. I could not find words for it at first. that you were born at Faverolles. that you are! This what I wanted to say. ‘pay attention. It is evident that your name is not Champmathieu. concealed first under the name of Jean Mathieu. and exclaimed:— ‘You are very wicked. that you went to Auvergne. turned towards the President. are you the discharged convict. I have stolen noth462 Les Miserables . he arose abruptly when the district-attorney had finished. stared at the ceiling. The gentlemen of the jury will form their own opinion.own interests. and held his peace. He opened his mouth. where you were a pruner of trees. that is to say.

ing. I picked up from the ground things that were lying there. I am a man who does not have something to eat every day. who is a good fellow. I think that my father and mother were people who strolled along the highways. I have been in Auvergne. Jean Mathieu! I don’t know those persons. I have been at Faverolles. Well! can’t a man have been in Auvergne. that would be too convenient. people talk against me. answer!’ I don’t know how to explain. I don’t know myself: it’s not everybody who has a house in which to come into the world. they tell me. Jean Valjean. I picked up the branch without knowing that it would get me into trouble. I worked for M. or at Faverolles. take that as you like. which had made the whole country yellow: even the ponds were overflowed. and that I am Father Champmathieu. I have been Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘Answer!’ The gendarme. Boulevard de l’Hopital. ‘Come. they called me young fellow. more than that I cannot say. I have no education. I found a broken branch with apples on the ground. they are villagers. You are very clever to tell me where I was born. my name is Champmathieu. I have not stolen. and nothing sprang from the sand any more but the little blades of grass at the wayside. and says to me in a low voice. I was coming from Ailly. Pardi. nudges my elbow. and they have been dragging me about for the last three months. I was walking through the country after a shower. without having been in the galleys? I tell you that I have not stolen. now they call me old fellow. Baloup. I have been in prison.com 463 . that is where they wrong me. because they do not see this. I am a poor man. those are my baptismal names. I know nothing different. When I was a child. You say.

Javert is an estimable man. ‘In the absence of sieur Javert. there! Why is everybody pursuing me so furiously?’ The district-attorney had remained standing. recalled by his duties to the capital of a neighboring arrondissement.’ ‘I would remind the district-attorney.—we demand that it shall please you and that it shall please the court to summon once more into this place the convicts Brevet. I think it my duty to remind the gentlemen of the jury of what he said here a few hours ago. President. ‘that Police-Inspector Javert. who does honor by his rigorous and strict probity to inferior but important functions. 464 Les Miserables . but who will not succeed in so doing. we have accorded him permission. and Police-Inspector Javert. with the consent of the district-attorney and of the counsel for the prisoner. These are the terms of his deposition: ‘I do not even stand in need of circumstantial proofs and moral presumptions to give the lie to the prisoner’s denial. You worry me with your nonsense.’ responded the district-attorney. Cochepaille. The name of this man is not Champmathieu.— we shall attend to that. in view of the confused but exceedingly clever denials of the prisoner.’ said the President. Baloup. and question them for the last time as to the identity of the prisoner with the convict Jean Valjean.’ ‘That is true. I recognize him perfectly. who would like to pass himself off as an idiot. Mr. and Chenildieu. he addressed the President:— ‘Monsieur le President. I have had a settled residence.with M. left the courtroom and the town as soon as he had made his deposition.

The audience was in suspense. The President transmitted the order to an usher. the three witnesses Brevet. and the air of a rascal. The ex-convict Brevet wore the black and gray waistcoat of the central prisons. The districtattorney concluded by insisting. The two sometimes go together. and. It is only with extreme regret that he was released at the expiration of his term.’ The chaplains bore good testimony as to his religious habits. and all breasts heaved as though they had contained but one soul. that in default of Javert. He made five or six attempts to escape.’’ This extremely precise statement appeared to produce a vivid impression on the public and on the jury. Besides the theft from Little Gervais. who had a sort of business man’s face. the door of the witnesses’ room opened.com 465 . The usher. I suspect him of a theft committed in the house of His Grace the late Bishop of D—— I often saw him at the time when I was adjutant of the galleyguard at the prison in Toulon. accompanied by a gendarme ready to lend him armed assistance. He was a man of whom his superiors said.he is an ex-convict named Jean Valjean. whither fresh misdeeds had led him. He underwent nineteen years of penal servitude for theft. he had become something in the nature of a turnkey. and Cochepaille should be heard once more and solemnly interrogated. and is very vicious and much to be feared. I repeat that I recognize him perfectly. a moment later. and from the Pierron orchard. Chenildieu. It must not be forgotten Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Brevet was a person sixty years of age. In prison. ‘He tries to make himself of use. introduced the convict Brevet.

whence he had 466 Les Miserables . which a word from you may enlighten.’ said the President.’ Chenildieu was brought in. It is to this sentiment that I appeal at this decisive hour.’ said the President. He has the air of a brute now. Brevet. ‘Yes. Rise. who entered at Toulon in 1796. ‘Nevertheless. this man.that this passed under the Restoration. and tell us on your soul and conscience. a prisoner for life. recall your souvenirs. then turned towards the court. and you cannot take an oath. there may remain.’ ‘Take your seat. as was indicated by his red cassock and his green cap. on the other hand. there is still time to retract if you think you have been mistaken. that man is Jean Valjean.’ continued the President. a sentiment of honor and of equity. if you persist in recognizing this man as your former companion in the galleys. and left in 1815. remain standing. he was sly at the galleys: I recognize him positively.’ Brevet dropped his eyes. ‘even in the man whom the law has degraded. I left a year later.—reflect before replying to me: consider on the one hand. The instant is solemn. ‘you have undergone an ignominious sentence. Jean Valjean?’ Brevet looked at the prisoner. ‘Brevet. President. prisoner. but it must be because age has brutalized him. justice. ‘Prisoner.—and I hope it does. and I stick to it. when the divine mercy permits it. Mr. take a good look at the accused. If it still exists in you. He was serving out his sentence at the galleys of Toulon. I was the first to recognize him. whom a word from you may ruin.

frail. He was a small man of about fifty. feverish. who had come from the galleys. was a peasant from Lourdes. who had a sort of sickly feebleness about all his limbs and his whole person. So you are sulking. He was one of those wretched men whom nature has sketched out for wild beasts.com 467 . ‘Pardieu.’ said the President. The President tried to touch him with some grave and Free eBooks at Planet eBook. old fellow?’ ‘Go take your seat. and from a shepherd he had slipped into a brigand. The President invited him to reflection. His companions in the galleys had nicknamed him I-deny-God (Je-nie Dieu. Chenildieu raised his head and looked the crowd in the face. He was another convict for life. wrinkled. brisk. if he persisted in recognition of the prisoner. as if I didn’t recognize him! We were attached to the same chain for five years. and was dressed in red. yellow. At the moment when he reminded him of his infamy which deprived him of the right to take an oath. and on whom society puts the finishing touches as convicts in the galleys. The President addressed him in nearly the same words which he had used to Brevet. Cochepaille was no less savage and seemed even more stupid than the prisoner. like Chenildieu. The usher brought in Cochepaille. and an immense force in his glance.been brought for this case. brazen-faced. Chenildieu burst out laughing. Chenildieu). He had guarded the flocks among the mountains. and asked him as he had asked Brevet. and a half-bear of the Pyrenees.

’ At that moment there was a movement just beside the President. ‘enforce silence! I am going to sum up the arguments. ‘Famous!’ The President addressed him:— ‘Have you heard. he’s a nice one!’ after the second. had raised in the audience a murmur of bad augury for the prisoner.’ said Cochepaille. prisoner? What have you to say?’ He replied:— ‘I say. ‘Famous!’’ An uproar broke out among the audience. ‘Ushers. ‘He is Jean Valjean. the gendarmes. according to the accusation. because he was so strong. as he had asked the other two. well. and was communicated to the jury. without hesitation or trouble.—a murmur which increased and lasted longer each time that a fresh declaration was added to the proceeding. ‘He was even called Jean-the-Screw. a little louder. his principal means of defence. with that astounded face which was. evidently sincere and in good faith. a voice was heard crying:— ‘Brevet! Chenildieu! Cochepaille! look here!’ All who heard that voice were chilled. he cried. in recognizing the man who was standing before him. with an air that was almost that of satisfaction. so lamentable and 468 Les Miserables .pathetic words. it was evident that the man was lost. ‘Good!’ at the third. he said.’ Each of these affirmations from these three men. had heard him mutter between his teeth: ‘Ah. if he persisted.’ said the President. his neighbors. at the first. The prisoner had listened to them. and asked him.

the district-attorney. and was standing in the middle of the hall. and exclaimed in concert:— ‘M. Bamatabois.terrible was it. twenty persons.com 469 . had just risen. all eyes were turned to the point whence it had proceeded. Madeleine!’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. A man. the President. recognized him. placed among the privileged spectators who were seated behind the court. M. had pushed open the half-door which separated the tribunal from the audience.

there was no disorder in his clothing. The clerk’s lamp illumined his countenance. his hair. the voice had been so heart-rending. All heads were raised: the sensation was indescribable. they could not believe that that tranquil man had been the one to give that terrible outcry. in fact. and he trembled slightly. had advanced towards the witnesses Cochepaille. was now entirely white: it had turned white during the hour he had sat there. M. which had still been gray on his arrival in Arras. Even before the President and the district-attorney could utter a word. at that moment. This indecision only lasted a few seconds. the man who stood there appeared so calm that they did not understand at first. the man whom all still called. They asked themselves whether he had indeed uttered that cry. before the ushers and the gendarmes could make a gesture.CHAPTER XI CHAMPMATHIEU MORE AND MORE ASTONISHED It was he. there was a momentary hesitation in the audience. his coat was carefully buttoned. He held his hat in his hand. Madeleine. 470 Les Miserables . he was very pale.

com 471 . made a military salute. and asked in accents which all understood:— ‘Is there a physician present?’ The district-attorney took the word:— ‘Gentlemen of the jury. Madeleine. order the prisoner to be released! Mr. like yourselves. President. the face of the President was stamped with sympathy and sadness. You all know. he had exchanged a rapid sign with the district-attorney and a few low-toned words with the assistant judges. and to conduct him to Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and said in a gentle voice:— ‘Gentlemen of the jury.Brevet. we join the President in requesting him to attend to M. mayor of M. who was intimidated. he addressed the public. and indicated by a sign of the head that they did not know him. those within the hall experienced that sort of religious terror which seizes the masses when something grand has been done. the very strange and unexpected incident which disturbs the audience inspires us. He is not the man whom you are in search of. M. the first commotion of astonishment had been followed by a silence like that of the grave. the honorable M. if there is a physician in the audience. In the meantime. only with a sentiment which it is unnecessary for us to express.. ‘Do you not recognize me?’ said he. Madeleine turned towards the jury and the court. sur M. Madeleine. and Chenildieu.’ Not a mouth breathed. have me arrested. by reputation at least. it is I: I am Jean Valjean. Cochepaille. All three remained speechless.

he interrupted him in accents full of suavity and authority. and as they now ring in the ears of those who heard them nearly forty years ago:— ‘I thank you. for here I am: but I have done my best. I am the only one here who sees the matter clearly. Madeleine did not allow the district-attorney to finish. you see. Perhaps it was not altogether his fault. you will hear it one of these days. who is on high. it is true. Mr. immediately after the trial by one of the witnesses to this scene. I robbed Monseigneur the Bishop. but I am not mad. the infamy from which I have tried to escape is an injurious thing. I have become rich. but. nor any advice to give to society. Before 472 Les Miserables . reflect upon that. it is true that I robbed Little Gervais. I am that miserable criminal. I have tried to re-enter the ranks of the honest. there are many things which I cannot tell. looks down on what I am doing at this moment. the galleys make the convict what he is. I concealed myself under another name. honorable judges! a man who has been so greatly humbled as I have has neither any remonstrances to make to Providence. you were on the point of committing a great error.’ M. and I am telling you the truth. It seems that that is not to be done. and that suffices. You can take me. Listen. release this man! I am fulfilling a duty. I have become a mayor. if you please. God. here they are literally. In short. I will not narrate the story of my life to you. District-Attorney.his home. These are the words which he uttered. you shall see. as they were written down. they were right in telling you that Jean Valjean was a very vicious wretch.

you who conferred on yourself the name of ‘Jenie-Dieu. I became a firebrand. he would recognize me. I became vicious: I was a block of wood. ‘M.com 473 . among the ashes in the fireplace. I was stupid. Brevet?’ He paused. the galleys wrought a change in me. is this true?’ ‘It is true. hesitated for an instant. you cannot understand what I am saying.’ said Chenildieu. He turned to the three convicts. as severity had ruined me. Good God! the districtattorney shakes his head. He addressed himself to Cochepaille:— Free eBooks at Planet eBook.going to the galleys. Madeleine has gone mad!’ you do not believe me! that is distressing. in order to efface the three letters T. because you one day laid your shoulder against the chafingdish full of coals.’ your whole right shoulder bears a deep burn. Do not. take me. and surveyed him from head to foot with a frightened air. indulgence and kindness saved me. You will find at my house. pardon me.. you say. seven years ago. with very little intelligence. a sort of idiot. condemn this man! What! these men do not recognize me! I wish Javert were here. Later on.’ Nothing can reproduce the sombre and kindly melancholy of tone which accompanied these words. and said:— ‘Well. from little Gervais. I have nothing farther to add. But. the forty-sou piece which I stole. answer. and said:— ‘Do you remember the knitted suspenders with a checked pattern which you wore in the galleys?’ Brevet gave a start of surprise. do you remember. nevertheless. I was a poor peasant. P. which are still visible. F. at least. I recognize you. He continued:— ‘Chenildieu.

The peculiarity of sublime spectacles is. The unhappy man turned to the spectators and the judges with a smile which still rends the hearts of all who saw it whenever they think of it. the districtattorney forgot he was there for the purpose of prosecuting. it was also a smile of despair. nor gendarmes.‘Cochepaille. the counsel for the defence that he was there to defend. the President that he was there to preside. March 1. there was nothing but staring eyes and sympathizing hearts. 1815. It was evident that they had Jean Valjean before their eyes. that they capture all souls and turn witnesses into spectators. It was a striking circumstance that no question was put. It was a smile of triumph. no one. near the bend in your left arm. The appearance of this man had sufficed to suffuse with light that matter which had been so 474 Les Miserables . that no authority intervened. probably. you have. all eyes were focused on him and on his bare arm. the date is that of the landing of the Emperor at Cannes. ‘You see plainly. That was clear. pull up your sleeve!’ Cochepaille pushed up his sleeve. accusers. ‘that I am Jean Valjean. a date stamped in blue letters with burnt powder. probably. No one. No one recalled any longer the part that each might be called upon to play. there was the date. could have explained what he felt.’ In that chamber there were no longer either judges. A gendarme held a light close to it.’ he said. said to himself that he was witnessing the splendid outburst of a grand light: all felt themselves inwardly dazzled.

’ He directed his steps towards the door.com 475 . little possible oppositions.obscure but a moment previously. District-Attorney.’ resumed Jean Valjean. Mr. I consider that I am to be envied. but it is certain that he found the door open when he reached it. all who are present—consider me worthy of pity. The details. do you not? Good God! When I think of what I was on the point of doing. not an arm extended to hinder him. as by a sort of electric revelation. ‘I shall withdraw. Not a voice was raised. I should have preferred not to have had this occur. It was an impression which vanished speedily. ‘I do not wish to disturb the court further. understood instantly and at a single glance the simple and magnificent history of a man who was delivering himself up so that another man might not be condemned in his stead. I have many things to do. On arriving there he turned round and said:— ‘I am at your command. Nevertheless. but which was irresistible at the moment. he knows whither I am going. the hesitations. All stood aside. were swallowed up in that vast and luminous fact.’ Then he addressed the audience:— ‘All of you.’ He withdrew. without any further explanation: the whole crowd. he can have me arrested when he likes. He traversed the crowd slowly. At that moment there was about him that divine something which causes multitudes to stand aside and make way for a man. since you do not arrest me. The district-attorney knows who I am. and the door closed behind him as it had Free eBooks at Planet eBook. It was never known who opened the door.

and comprehending nothing of this vision. for those who do certain sovereign things are always sure of being served by some one in the crowd. Less than an hour after this. being at once released. thinking that all men were fools.opened. and Champmathieu. went off in a state of stupefaction. the verdict of the jury freed the said Champmathieu from all accusations. 476 Les Miserables .

BOOK EIGHTH.—A COUNTER-BLOW Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 477 .

Suddenly she raised her head and uttered a faint shriek.’ She explained to him what had passed: that Fantine had 478 Les Miserables . and scrutinizing things very closely. Fantine had passed a sleepless and feverish night. He replied in a low voice:— ‘How is that poor woman?’ ‘Not so bad just now. he had just entered silently. ‘Is it you. The worthy sister had been in the laboratory of the infirmary but a few moments. at daybreak she fell asleep. who had been watching with her. Sister Simplice. but we have been very uneasy. Mayor?’ she exclaimed. MADELEINE CONTEMPLATES HIS HAIR The day had begun to dawn.CHAPTER I IN WHAT MIRROR M. on account of the dimness which the half-light of dawn spreads over all objects. availed herself of this slumber to go and prepare a new potion of chinchona. Mr. bending over her drugs and phials. filled with happy visions. M. Madeleine stood before her.

What shall we say to her?’ He reflected for a moment. ‘what has happened to you? Your hair is perfectly white!’ ‘White!’ said he. ‘Good God. The sister felt chilled by something strange of which she Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘you were right not to undeceive her. The sister dared not question the mayor. The sister chanced to raise her eyes to it. Madeleine’s face. but she perceived plainly from his air that he had not come from there. and as though his mind were on something else. and that she was better now. looked at his hair. ‘God will inspire us.’ said he. M. The light fell full on M. half aloud. She rummaged in a drawer. Mayor. ‘All that is good.’ responded the sister. and pulled out the little glass which the doctor of the infirmary used to see whether a patient was dead and whether he no longer breathed.’ ‘Yes.’ murmured the sister.com 479 . she will see you and will not see her child. Madeleine took the mirror. ‘But we cannot tell a lie. and said:— ‘Well!’ He uttered the word indifferently.been very ill the day before. It was broad daylight in the room. Mr. sir!’ she exclaimed.’ said he. ‘but now. Sister Simplice had no mirror. because she thought that the mayor had gone to Montfermeil to get her child.

lowering her eyes and her voice respectfully:— ‘In that case.’ He made some remarks about a door which shut badly. ‘Of course.’ went on the sister. then he entered Fantine’s chamber. sister. but Monsieur le Maire may enter. I must see her. and it would be easy to inspire her with patience. She replied. she is asleep.’ ‘If she were not to see Monsieur le Maire until that time. perhaps. and when the child arrived. Her breath issued from her breast with that tragic sound which is peculiar to those maladies. Madeleine seemed to reflect for a few moments. She was asleep.’ M. then he said with his calm gravity:— ‘No. ‘she would not know that Monsieur le Maire had returned. she would naturally think Monsieur le Maire had just come with the child. be in haste. and the noise of which might awaken the sick woman. hardly venturing to put the question.’ which communicated an obscure and singular sense to the words of the mayor’s speech. and which breaks the hearts of mothers when they are watching through the night beside their 480 Les Miserables . approached the bed and drew aside the curtains. timidly.caught a glimpse in all this. but it will take two or three days at least. We should not have to enact a lie. He inquired:— ‘Can I see her?’ ‘Is not Monsieur le Maire going to have her child brought back to her?’ said the sister.’ The nun did not appear to notice this word ‘perhaps. I may.

Free eBooks at Planet eBook. gazing in turn upon the sick woman and the crucifix. which could be felt as they rustled. he praying. as he had done two months before. after the lapse of two months. He stood beside the bed. though they could not be seen. and seems to both withdraw and to offer itself at one and the same time. The human body has something of this tremor when the instant arrives in which the mysterious fingers of Death are about to pluck the soul. palpitated. one would never have dreamed that she was an invalid whose life was almost despaired of.sleeping child who is condemned to death. To see her thus. her cheeks were crimson. her long golden lashes. Her pallor had become whiteness. on the day when he had come for the first time to see her in that asylum. only now. as though there were some one in the chamber whom he must enjoin to silence. The sister had not entered with him. She resembled rather something on the point of soaring away than something on the point of dying. the only beauty of her youth and her virginity which remained to her.com 481 . all ready to open wide and bear her away. and which transfigured her in her sleep. The branch trembles when a hand approaches it to pluck a flower. Madeleine remained for some time motionless beside that bed. They were both still there in the same attitude— she sleeping. But this painful respiration hardly troubled a sort of ineffable serenity which overspread her countenance. with his finger on his lips. Her whole person was trembling with an indescribable unfolding of wings. though they remained closed and drooping. M. her hair was gray and his was white.

and said quietly. with a smile:— ‘And Cosette?’ 482 Les Miserables .She opened her eyes. saw him.

Madeleine. Fortunately.’ said the doctor. the doctor had been warned. I have been following you with my eyes all night long. She continued:— ‘I knew that you were there. with so much certainty. and he now made his appearance. That simple question. and you had around you all sorts of celestial forms. He came to the aid of M.com 483 . that he found not a word of reply. I have seen you for a long. ‘your child is here. with such a complete absence of disquiet and of doubt.’ Fantine’s eyes beamed and filled her whole face with Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ He raised his glance to the crucifix. Why did not you place her on my bed against the moment of my waking?’ He made some mechanical reply which he was never afterwards able to recall. I was asleep. my child.CHAPTER II FANTINE HAPPY She made no movement of either surprise or of joy.’ she resumed. ‘tell me where Cosette is. but I saw you. ‘And Cosette?’ was put with so profound a faith. You were in a glory. ‘But. she was joy itself. ‘Calm yourself. long time.

you fear the emotion. It is not enough to see her. ‘I beg your pardon. for her.’ said the doctor. that I sometimes do not know what I am saying. ‘bring her to me!’ Touching illusion of a mother! Cosette was. The sight of your child would agitate you and do you harm. Do you know? If she were brought to me now. who has been brought to me expressly from Montfermeil? 484 Les Miserables . so many misfortunes have happened to me. ‘how excited you become. That is all. but I swear to you that it would not have harmed me to see my daughter. I should talk to her very gently.’ The poor mother bowed her head.light. I have been seeing her. I understand you. Formerly I should never have spoken as I have just done. When you are reasonable.’ said the doctor. I really beg your pardon. Is it not quite natural that I should desire to see my daughter.’ She interrupted him impetuously:— ‘But I am cured! Oh. ‘Oh!’ she exclaimed. So long as you are in this state I shall oppose your having your child. doctor. I will wait as long as you like. You still have some fever. I have not taken my eyes from her since yesterday evening. ‘not just now. I tell you that I am cured! What an ass that doctor is! The idea! I want to see my child!’ ‘You see. still the little child who is carried. I will bring her to you myself. She clasped her hands with an expression which contained all that is possible to prayer in the way of violence and tenderness. it is necessary that you should live for her. ‘Not yet. You must be cured first.

and persons who smiled at me. Madeleine. poor darling! Children have no memories. When it is seen that I am very calm.com 485 . he shall bring me Cosette. they will say. But while she controlled herself she could not refrain from questioning M. She must have forgotten me by this time. I know well that I am about to be happy. And did she have white linen? Did those Thenardiers keep her clean? How have they fed her? Oh! if you only knew how I have suffered. and not stir. I am well.’ as she expressed it in the feebleness of illness which resembles infancy. and thinks of nothing any longer. When Monsieur le Docteur pleases. She turned towards him. how I should like to see her! Do you think her pretty.I am not angry.’’ M. A child sees one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow. Did she stand the journey well? Alas! she will not recognize me. putting such questions as that to myself during all the time of my wretchedness. Now. Oh. they might make no difficulty about bringing Cosette to her. in order that. I am perfectly conscious that there is nothing the matter with me any more. she was making a visible effort to be calm and ‘very good. They are like birds. it is all past. ‘Did you have a pleasant trip. All night long I have seen white things. seeing her so peaceable. ‘She must have her child. I have no longer any fever. Monsieur le Maire? Oh! how good you were to go and get her for me! Only tell me how she is. Madeleine was sitting on a chair beside the bed. to please these ladies here. but I am going to behave as though I were ill. Monsieur le Maire? Is not my daughter beautiful? You must have been very cold in that diligence! Could she not be brought for Free eBooks at Planet eBook. I am happy.

it was evident that he had come to tell her things before which his mind now hesitated. Madeleine was still holding her hand. But in the midst of this pause Fantine exclaimed:— ‘I hear her! mon Dieu. and gazing at her with anxiety. ‘Cosette is beautiful. having finished his visit.’ he said. You shall see her soon. fits of coughing interrupted Fantine at nearly every word. you are the master. and began to listen with rapture. ‘Cosette is well. ‘Montfermeil is quite pretty. she feared that she had injured by her too passionate lamentations the confidence which she was desirous of inspiring. Tell me. and she began to talk of indifferent things. and that makes you cough. Sister Simplice remained alone with them. The doctor. but calm yourself. There was a child playing in the yard—the child of the portress or of some work-woman. I hear her!’ She stretched out her arm to enjoin silence about her. It was one of those acci486 Les Miserables .’ M. you are talking with too much vivacity. Fantine did not murmur. held her breath. That inn of theirs is a sort of a cook-shop. and you are throwing your arms out from under the clothes. Are the Thenardiers prosperous? There are not many travellers in their parts. retired. is it not? People go there on pleasure parties in summer. it could be so if you chose!’ He took her hand.’ In fact.just one little instant? She might be taken away directly afterwards.

Ah! when will she take her first communion?’ She began to reckon on her fingers. She will run over the grass after butterflies. She continued to talk to herself. Alas! in what are the plays of children not intermingled. ‘One. Madeleine has promised it to me. she will look like a little woman.’ The child retreated as it had come. It was this little girl whom Fantine heard singing. running to warm herself. you do not know how foolish I become when I think of my daughter’s first communion!’ She began to laugh. and M. two. laughing.’ But the smiling background of her thoughts came to the front again. The child—a little girl— was going and coming. ‘it is my Cosette! I recognize her voice. I will watch her. and openwork stockings. in a low voice: ‘How wicked that doctor is not to allow me to see my daughter! That man has an evil countenance. that he has. Madeleine heard her say. Fantine listened for a while longer. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.dents which are always occurring. My daughter will play in the garden. O my good sister. She must know her letters by this time. with her head resting on the pillow: ‘How happy we are going to be! We shall have a little garden the very first thing. singing at the top of her voice. Then she will take her first communion. then her face clouded over. the voice died away. ‘Oh!’ she resumed. M.com 487 . and which seem to form a part of the mysterious stage-setting of mournful scenes. three. In five years she will have a white veil. I will make her spell. four—she is seven years old.

All at once she ceased speaking. she no longer breathed. He turned. his mind absorbed in reflection which had no bottom. on something alarming at the other extremity of the room. was ghastly. 488 Les Miserables . and she seemed to have fixed her eyes. which had been radiant but a moment before. ‘what ails you. her thin shoulder emerged from her chemise. and this caused him to raise his head mechanically. rendered large with terror. Fantine had become terrible. her face. ‘Good God!’ he exclaimed. and with the other made him a sign to look behind him. and beheld Javert. she did not remove her eyes from the object which she seemed to see. Fantine?’ She made no reply.He had released Fantine’s hand. she had raised herself to a sitting posture. He listened to her words as one listens to the sighing of the breeze. with his eyes on the ground. She no longer spoke. She removed one hand from his arm.

then to enter the infirmary and see Fantine. Madeleine quitted the Hall of Assizes in Arras.CHAPTER III JAVERT SATISFIED This is what had taken place. The counsel for the defence had some difficulty in refuting this harangue and in establishing that. which would be explained thereafter. Laffitte. The district-attorney’s persistence was visibly at variance with the sentiments of every one. to declare that his convictions had not been in the least modified by that curious incident.. and his first care had been to post a letter to M.com 489 . in the meantime. sur M. who was evidently the real Jean Valjean. However. He regained his inn just in time to set out again by the mail-wagon. and of the jury. had taken the word to deplore the mad deed of the honorable mayor of M. of the court. in which he had engaged his place. The half-hour after midnight had just struck when M. A little before six o’clock in the morning he had arrived at M. sur M. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.. recovering from his first shock. the condemnation of that Champmathieu. of the public. when the district-attorney. he had hardly quitted the audience hall of the Court of Assizes. and to demand.

by a special messenger. The order for his arrest was accordingly despatched. of the real Jean Valjean. the district-attorney was bent on having a Jean Valjean. when alluding to the landing at Cannes. and that the jury had before their eyes now only an innocent man. sur M. the aspect of the matter had been thoroughly altered. upon judicial errors. Madeleine. etc.. in his summing up. Thence the lawyer had drawn some epiphonemas. at the same time. and as he had no longer Champmathieu. The district-attorney forwarded it to M. Nevertheless. and he had been shocked to hear the Mayor of M. he took Madeleine. a devoted and almost an ardent royalist. after all. is the district-attorney’s. the district-attorney shut himself up with the President. unfortunately. in which there was a great deal of of. take its course. sur M. not very fresh. written with his own hand. His first emotion having passed off. le Maire of M. etc. sur M.. the President did not offer many objections. say the Emperor. Immediately after Champmathieu had been set at liberty. the President. that is to say. They conferred ‘as to the necessity of seizing the person of M. Justice must.’ This phrase. and not Bonaparte. when all was said. and in a few minutes the jury had thrown Champmathieu out of the case. on the minutes of his report to the attorney-general. although the President was a kindly and a tolerably intelligent man. And then. at full speed.in consequence of the revelations of M. had joined the counsel for the defence. and entrusted its execution to Police 490 Les Miserables . he was.

calm. The reader knows that Javert had returned to M. could have divined nothing of what had taken place. signed by the district-attorney.’ Any one who did not know Javert. This betrayed unwonted agitation. it Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He was cool. in two words. rigid with the buttons of his coat. was recognized as the liberated convict.. and he had just mounted the stairs with his habitual deliberation. would have shuddered. Javert was just getting out of bed when the messenger handed him the order of arrest and the command to produce the prisoner. Jean Valjean. informed Javert of what had taken place at Arras. The buckle of his leather stock was under his left ear instead of at the nape of his neck. grave. who. sur M. mayor of M. and who had examined him attentively at the moment. who.com 491 . That he should have set the buckle of his stock awry. Javert was a complete character.Inspector Javert. The messenger himself was a very clever member of the police. sur M. was couched in these words: ‘Inspector Javert will apprehend the body of the Sieur Madeleine. who never had a wrinkle in his duty or in his uniform. methodical with malefactors. immediately after having given his deposition. and would have thought his air the most ordinary in the world. Any one who was thoroughly acquainted with him. his gray hair was perfectly smooth upon his temples. The order of arrest. and who had chanced to see him at the moment when he penetrated the antechamber of the infirmary. in this day’s session of the court.

The instant that Madeleine’s glance encountered Javert’s glance. without moving from his post. In the bend of his elbow the leaden head of his enormous cane. No human sentiment can be as terrible as joy. became terrible. accustomed as she was to seeing armed men inquiring for the mayor. and entered. All at once Fantine raised her eyes. The satisfaction of at last getting hold of Jean Valjean caused all that was in his soul to appear in his countenance. He stood erect in the half-open door. without stirring. pushed the door open with the gentleness of a sicknurse or a police spy. had made a requisition on the neighboring post for a corporal and four soldiers. which was buttoned up to the chin.was indispensable that there should have taken place in him one of those emotions which may be designated as internal earthquakes. without approaching him. Properly speaking. who was utterly unsuspicious. 492 Les Miserables . his hat on his head and his left hand thrust into his coat. It was the visage of a demon who has just found his damned soul. he did not enter. Javert. On arriving at Fantine’s chamber. without his presence being perceived. Madeleine turn round. saw him. The depths having been stirred up. He had come in a simple way. had left the soldiers in the courtyard. and made M. Thus he remained for nearly a minute. had had Fantine’s room pointed out to him by the portress. mounted to the surface. which was hidden behind him. could be seen. Javert turned the handle.

though frightful. he flaunted abroad in open day the superhuman bestiality of a ferocious archangel. personified justice. reason. The deformity of triumph overspread that narrow brow. he was causing the law to yield up its thunders. Javert. conviction. the sense of duty. lost the scent. he was radiant.The humiliation of having. perdition. and of having for so long cherished a just instinct. for a few moments. vice. in an error with regard to Champmathieu. was effaced by pride at having so well and accurately divined in the first place. candor. all the stars. Javert was in heaven at that moment. at an infinite distance. happy and indignant. Probity. he was avenging society. All the demonstrations of horror which a satisfied face can afford were there. he had authority. sincerity. in some slight degree. the case judged. and truth in their celestial function of crushing out evil. Erect. the legal conscience. the public prosecution. light. and there was an incontestable grandeur in this monstrous Saint Michael. The terrible shadow of the action which he was accomplishing caused the vague flash of the social sword to be visible in his clenched fist. hell. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. he smiled. he was standing erect in the midst of a glory. had nothing ignoble about him. Javert. There existed in his victory a remnant of defiance and of combat. but with a confused intuition of the necessity of his presence and of his success. he was lending a helping hand to the absolute. he held his heel upon crime. he was protecting order. Without putting the thing clearly to himself. rebellion. Behind him and around him. and of having indulged. Javert’s content shone forth in his sovereign attitude. brilliant. he. he exterminated. haughty.com 493 .

they are virtues which have one vice. 494 Les Miserables . wherein was displayed all that may be designated as the evil of the good. Nothing could be so poignant and so terrible as this face. pitiless joy of a fanatic in the full flood of his atrocity preserves a certain lugubriously venerable radiance. remain grand: their majesty.are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed. as is every ignorant man who triumphs. the majesty peculiar to the human conscience. but which. even when hideous. clings to them in the midst of horror. The honest. Javert in his formidable happiness was to be pitied.—error. Without himself suspecting the fact.

and said:— ‘I know what you want. but the only thing which she did not doubt was that he had come to get her. ‘Be quick about it!’ he said ‘Bequiabouit. Her ailing brain comprehended nothing.’ Javert replied:— ‘Be quick about it!’ There lay in the inflection of voice which accompanied these words something indescribably fierce and frenzied. save me!’ Jean Valjean—we shall henceforth not speak of him otherwise— had risen. she felt her life quitting her. it is not for you that he is come. she hid her face in both hands.CHAPTER IV AUTHORITY REASSERTS ITS RIGHTS Fantine had not seen Javert since the day on which the mayor had torn her from the man. Javert did not say. He said to Fantine in the gentlest and calmest of voices:— ‘Be at ease.com 495 .’ Then he addressed Javert. and shrieked in her anguish:— ‘Monsieur Madeleine.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She could not endure that terrible face.

But the mayor was there. he did not advance a single step. Jean Valjean was a sort of mysterious combatant. He did not proceed according to his custom. This arrest was not a beginning. Then she beheld a most unprecedented thing. He confined himself to saying. a thing so unprecedented that nothing equal to it had appeared to her even in the blackest deliriums of fever. It seemed to her that 496 Les Miserables . without being able to throw him. she saw the mayor bow his head. he did not enter into the matter. what had she to fear? Javert advanced to the middle of the room. ‘Be quick about it!’ As he spoke thus. At Javert’s exclamation. he hurled at Jean Valjean a glance which he threw out like a grappling-hook. She shuddered. but an end. a wrestler in the dark whom he had had in his grasp for the last five years. he exhibited no warrant of arrest. It was this glance which Fantine had felt penetrating to the very marrow of her bones two months previously.No orthography can do justice to the accent with which it was uttered: it was no longer a human word: it was a roar. To whom could that abject use of ‘thou’ be addressed? To her only. the police spy. She beheld Javert. who was not to be laid hands upon. No one was present excepting the nun and the mayor. and with which he was accustomed to draw wretches violently to him. Fantine opened her eyes once more. In his eyes. seize the mayor by the collar. and cried:— ‘See here now! Art thou coming?’ The unhappy woman glanced about her.

’ Jean Valjean turned towards him and said very rapidly and in a very low voice:— ‘Grant me three days’ grace! three days in which to go and fetch the child of this unhappy woman. ‘Monsieur le Maire!’ shrieked Fantine. I will pay whatever is necessary.’ ‘Monsieur. ‘people are in the habit of talking aloud to me. He said:— ‘Javert—‘ Javert interrupted him: ‘Call me Mr. Javert burst out laughing with that frightful laugh which displayed all his gums.com 497 . ‘I should like to say a word to you in private. Inspector. ‘Come now.’ ‘Aloud! Say it aloud!’ replied Javert.’ Jean Valjean went on in a lower tone:— ‘I have a request to make of you—‘ ‘I tell you to speak loud.the world was coming to an end.’ ‘But you alone should hear it—‘ ‘What difference does that make to me? I shall not listen. I did not think you such a fool! You ask me to give you three days in which to run away! You say that it is for the purpose of fetching that creature’s child! Ah! Ah! That’s good! That’s Free eBooks at Planet eBook. grasped Jean Valjean by the collar. You shall accompany me if you choose. Javert had. ‘There is no longer any Monsieur le Maire here!’ Jean Valjean made no attempt to disengage the hand which grasped the collar of his coat. in fact.’ said Jean Valjean.’ ‘You are making sport of me!’ cried Javert.

a convict named Jean Valjean! And I have him in my grasp! That’s what there is!’ Fantine raised herself in bed with a bound. supporting herself on her stiffened arms and on both hands: she gazed at Jean Valjean. ‘My child!’ she cried. 498 Les Miserables . opening her hands convulsively. she gazed at the nun. a brigand. where is Cosette? I want my child! Monsieur Madeleine! Monsieur le Maire!’ Javert stamped his foot. she stretched out her arms in her agony. she gazed at Javert. you hussy? It’s a pretty sort of a place where convicts are magistrates. a rattle proceeded from the depths of her throat. ‘to go and fetch my child! She is not here. and fumbling about her like a drowning person. then! Answer me. it is high time!’ He stared intently at Fantine. her teeth chattered. and added. ‘And now there’s the other one! Will you hold your tongue. sightless eyes. and where women of the town are cared for like countesses! Ah! But we are going to change all that. then suddenly fell back on her pillow. shirt and collar:— ‘I tell you that there is no Monsieur Madeleine and that there is no Monsieur le Maire. sister. There is a thief.really capital!’ Fantine was seized with a fit of trembling. she opened her mouth as though to speak. once more taking into his grasp Jean Valjean’s cravat. with gaping mouth and staring. Her head struck the head-board of the bed and fell forwards on her breast.

and his brow on his hand. and that is. and began to contemFree eBooks at Planet eBook.’ One thing is certain.’ ‘Let’s have an end of this!’ shouted Javert. Let us economize all that. When he arrived there he turned and said to Javert. Jean Valjean. ‘I am not here to listen to argument. It did occur to him to summon the guard. and opened it as he would have opened the hand of a baby. in a fury. and which served the sisters as a camp-bed when they were watching with the sick. in a twinkling wrenched off the head-piece. Javert retreated towards the door. without removing his eyes from Jean Valjean. in a voice that was barely audible:— ‘I advise you not to disturb me at this moment. grasped the principal rod like a bludgeon. and glanced at Javert.com 499 . then he said to Javert:— ‘You have murdered that woman. that Javert trembled. Jean Valjean stepped up to this bed. so he remained. or you’ll get the thumbscrews!’ In the corner of the room stood an old iron bedstead. Jean Valjean laid his hand upon the detaining hand of Javert. Jean Valjean rested his elbow on the knob at the head of the bed. and leaned against the door-post. the guard is below. armed with his bar of iron. an easy matter to muscles like his. which was already in a dilapidated condition.She was dead. which was in a decidedly decrepit state. but Jean Valjean might avail himself of that moment to effect his escape. grasped his cane by the small end. march on instantly. walked slowly up to Fantine’s couch.

’ 500 Les Miserables . often said that at the moment that Jean Valjean whispered in Fantine’s ear. sublime realities. and in those dim eyes. that signifies entrance into the great light. perhaps. ‘Now. That done.plate the motionless body of Fantine. he closed her eyes. say to that woman. who was dead? What words were those? No one on earth heard them. ‘I am at your disposal. and arranged it on the pillow as a mother might have done for her child. Fantine’s face seemed strangely illuminated at that moment. Death. Jean Valjean took Fantine’s head in both his hands. Did the dead woman hear them? There are some touching illusions which are. absorbed.’ said he. What did he say to her? What could this man. filled with the amazement of the tomb. that Sister Simplice. the sole witness of the incident. Fantine’s hand was hanging over the side of the bed. then he tied the string of her chemise. Then he rose. which lay extended there. Jean Valjean knelt down before that hand. mute. lifted it gently. who was reproved. The point as to which there exists no doubt is. she distinctly beheld an ineffable smile dawn on those pale lips. Upon his face and in his attitude there was nothing but inexpressible pity. He remained thus. and spoke to her in a low voice. and smoothed her hair back under her cap. and kissed it. evidently with no further thought of anything connected with this life. After a few moments of this meditation he bent towards Fantine. and turned to Javert.

Bojean.’ ‘Until he is transferred!’ ‘He is to be transferred!’ ‘Where is he to be taken?’ ‘He will be tried at the Assizes for a highway robbery which he committed long ago.’ ‘Arrested!’ ‘In prison. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and he was nothing but a ‘convict from the galleys. We are sorry that we cannot conceal the fact. he had a frightful name. Boujean. In less than two hours all the good that he had done had been forgotten.’ It is just to add that the details of what had taken place at Arras were not yet known. while waiting to be transferred. or rather. an extraordinary commotion in M. in the city prison. Madeleine?’ ‘Yes.CHAPTER V A SUITABLE TOMB Javert deposited Jean Valjean in the city prison. sur M.’ ‘Really?’ ‘His name was not Madeleine at all.’ nearly every one deserted him. The arrest of M.’ ‘Ah! Good God!’ ‘He has been arrested. ‘He was a convict. Bejean. All day long conversations like the following were to be heard in all quarters of the town:— ‘You don’t know? He was a liberated convict!’ ‘Who?’ ‘The mayor. That man was too good. Madeleine occasioned a sensation.com 501 . that at the single word.’ ‘Bah! M.’ ‘Well! I suspected as much.

It will be a lesson to the Bonapartists!’ It was thus that the phantom which had been called M. and absorbed in sad reflections. the good portress rose mechanically. One old lady. as though she was expecting him. Only three or four persons in all the town remained faithful to his memory.too perfect. and set the candlestick on one side. good old woman bad done all this without being 502 Les Miserables . Towards the hour when M. Madeleine vanished from M. the street was deserted. The old portress who had served him was among the number. I always thought there was some evil history back of all that.’ The ‘drawing-rooms’ particularly abounded in remarks of this nature. There was no one in the house but the two nuns. the carriage gate was bolted. still in a thorough fright. Madeleine was accustomed to return home. Sister Perpetue and Sister Simplice. who were watching beside the body of Fantine. and the flat candlestick which he used every evening to go up to his quarters. he bestowed sous on all the little scamps he came across. took from a drawer the key of M. The factory had been closed all day. The poor. He refused the cross. and became absorbed in thought once more. sur M. Then she sat down again on her chair. a subscriber to the Drapeau Blanc. made the following remark. Madeleine’s chamber. On the evening of that day the worthy old woman was sitting in her lodge. too affected. then she hung the key on the nail whence he was accustomed to take it. the depth of which it is impossible to fathom:— ‘I am not sorry.

Monsieur le Maire. I broke a bar of one of the windows. ‘Good God. She is with that poor woman. that arm. It was several seconds before she could speak. ‘I was there. and exclaimed. Jean Valjean was still Monsieur le Maire to her.’ she cried at last.’ said he. It was M. and stood there with gaping mouth. when she related the adventure afterwards. ‘In prison. It was only at the expiration of two hours that she roused herself from her revery. the conclusion of her sentence would have been lacking in respect towards the beginning. I let myself drop from the top of a roof. and a shriek which she confined to her throat. go and find Sister Simplice for me. seized the key and the candlestick. The portress raised her eyes. he was quite sure that she would guard him better than he should guard himself. He gave her no orders. ‘Hold! My good God Jesus! And I hung his key on the nail!’ At that moment the small window in the lodge opened. No one ever found out how he had managed to get into Free eBooks at Planet eBook. as she said herself. Madeleine. and lighted the taper at the candle which was burning there. She knew that hand. no doubt.’ The old woman obeyed in all haste. He finished her thought. the sleeve of that coat.conscious of it. a hand passed through. and here I am. I am going up to my room. ‘I thought you were—‘ She stopped.com 503 . she had a seizure.

He ascended the staircase leading to his chamber. In the strips of linen thus prepared he wrapped the two silver candlesticks. No trace of the disorder of the night before last remained. opened his door with very little noise. He had. He took a sheet of paper. which I mentioned at the Court of Assizes. which he tore in pieces. he 504 Les Miserables . then returned for his candle and re-entered his room. and the coin in such a way that they were the first things to be seen on entering the room. it will be recollected that his window could be seen from the street. at his bed which had not been disturbed for three days. He cast a glance about him. The portress had ‘done up’ his room. on which he wrote: ‘These are the two tips of my iron-shod cudgel and the forty-sou piece stolen from Little Gervais. he left his candle on the top step of his stairs. This point was never explained. and his latchkey must have been taken from him. and always carried about him. only she had picked out of the ashes and placed neatly on the table the two iron ends of the cudgel and the forty-sou piece which had been blackened by the fire. at his table. From a cupboard he pulled out one of his old shirts. the bits of iron.the courtyard without opening the big gates.’ and he arranged this piece of paper. a pass-key which opened a little side-door. He betrayed neither haste nor agitation. It was a useful precaution. went and closed his window and his shutters by feeling. On arriving at the top. at his chair. but he must have been searched. and while he was wrapping up the Bishop’s candlesticks.

She was pale. and she was trembling. It was probably the prisonbread which he had carried with him in his flight. which he handed to the nun. and force it to reappear on the surface. There came two taps at the door. ‘Sister. and of the funeral of the woman who died yesterday. saying. The peculiar feature of the violences of destiny is. they wring human nature from our very bowels. that however polished or cool we may be. This was proved by the crumbs which were found on the floor of the room when the authorities made an examination later on. He will be so good as to pay out of it the expenses of my trial. ‘Come in. her eyes were red. She succeeded in saying.com 505 . She read:— ‘I beg Monsieur le Cure to keep an eye on all that I leave behind me. but she only managed to stammer a few inarticulate sounds. ‘You can read it.’ The paper was not folded.’ said he. you will give this to Monsieur le Cure.nibbled at a piece of black bread.’ said he. Jean Valjean had just finished writing a few lines on a paper. The rest is for the poor. She cast a glance upon it. however:— ‘Does not Monsieur le Maire desire to take a last look at Free eBooks at Planet eBook. The emotions of that day had turned the nun into a woman once more.’ The sister tried to speak. She had wept. the candle which she carried trembled in her hand. It was Sister Simplice.

his element. and gave but very little light.’ He had hardly finished when a loud noise became audible on the staircase. In his eyes. nor all the evening. The nun did not raise her eyes.that poor. The door opened. the very air he breathed. The whispers of many men and the protestations of the portress were audible in the corridor. and the old portress saying in her loudest and most piercing tones:— ‘My good sir. of course. They heard a tumult of ascending footsteps. was veneration for all authority. unhappy woman?’ ‘No. It will be remembered that the fundamental point in Javert. Javert entered.’ They recognized Javert’s voice. and that I have not even left the door. nevertheless.’ said he. The chamber was so arranged that the door in opening masked the corner of the wall on the right. 506 Les Miserables . The candle was on the chimney-piece. This was impregnable. Jean Valjean blew out the light and placed himself in this angle. Sister Simplice fell on her knees near the table. I swear to you by the good God.’ A man responded:— ‘But there is a light in that room. She was praying. it would only end in their arresting me in that room. and that would disturb her. that not a soul has entered this house all day. Javert caught sight of the nun and halted in amazement. and admitted of neither objection nor restriction. ‘I am pursued.

In his eyes. This was Sister Simplice. a priest was a mind. without hesitation. one after the other. with a single door which never opened except to allow the truth to pass through. ‘you will excuse me if I persist.’ She lied.’ said he.’ ‘Then. On perceiving the sister. promptly. who had never told a lie in her life. during which the poor portress felt as though she should faint. ‘are you alone in this room?’ A terrible moment ensued. ‘Sister. it is my duty.the ecclesiastical authority was the chief of all. he was religious. But there was also another duty which bound him and impelled him imperiously in the opposite direction. Javert knew it.com 507 . as a person does when sacrificing herself. She had lied twice in succession. you have not seen a certain person—a man— this evening? He has escaped. and held her in special veneration in consequence. you have not seen him?’ The sister replied:— ‘No. superficial and correct on this point as on all others. we are in search of him—that Jean Valjean.’ resumed Javert. a nun was a creature who never sins. His second movement was to remain and to venture on at least one question. they were souls walled in from this world. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. who never makes a mistake. The sister raised her eyes and answered:— ‘Yes. his first movement was to retire.

—the earth. Perhaps that was the one. leaving behind him nothing but his blouse. you have rejoined your sisters. that he was carrying a bundle. a man. But an aged workman had died in the infirmary of the factory a few days before. The cure thought that he was doing right. in reserving as much money as possible from what Jean Valjean had left for the poor. was rapidly departing from M. It has been established by the testimony of two or three carters who met him. and which was still smoking on the table. and he retired with a deep bow. and perhaps he really was. O sainted maid! you left this world many years ago. Fantine was given back to that mother. in the direction of Paris. That is why he had a very simple funeral for Fantine. in the light. may this lie be counted to your credit in paradise! The sister’s affirmation was for Javert so decisive a thing that he did not even observe the singularity of that candle which had but just been extinguished. marching amid trees and mists.‘Pardon me.’ said Javert. and reduced it to that strictly necessary form known as the pauper’s grave. after all? A convict and a woman of the town. An hour later. the angels. and where the 508 Les Miserables . That man was Jean Valjean. Where had he obtained that blouse? No one ever found out. sur M. the virgins. One last word about Fantine. Who was concerned. and your brothers. that he was dressed in a blouse. So Fantine was buried in the free corner of the cemetery which belongs to anybody and everybody. We all have a mother.

com 509 . Fantine was laid in the shade. God knows where to find the soul again. she was subjected to the promiscuousness of ashes. ‘Fantine”] Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Her grave resembled her bed.poor are lost. among the first bones that came to hand. She was thrown into the public grave. [The end of Volume I. Fortunately.

COSETTE 510 Les Miserables .VOLUME II.

—WATERLOO Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 511 .BOOK FIRST.

a traveller. and produce something in the nature of enormous waves. Private Cafe. by the side of a sort of mouldy gibbet bearing the inscription Ancient Barrier No. He was pursuing a broad paved road. In the west he perceived the slate-roofed tower of Braine-l’Alleud. A quarter of a league further on. which undulated between two rows of trees. He had passed Lillois and Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. on a beautiful May morning. the person who is telling this story.CHAPTER I WHAT IS MET WITH ON THE WAY FROM NIVELLES Last year (1861). Echabeau. was coming from Nivelles. over the hills which succeed each other. He had just left behind a wood upon an eminence. He was on foot. and at the angle of the cross-road. a public house. The 512 Les Miserables . raise the road and let it fall again. 4. bearing on its front this sign: At the Four Winds (Aux Quatre Vents). he arrived at the bottom of a little valley. and directing his course towards La Hulpe. where there is water which passes beneath an arch made through the embankment of the road. which has the form of a reversed vase.

On the right. with bricks set in contrast. he found himself before a large door of arched stone. a large bundle of hop-poles. was carolling in a distracted manner in a large tree. A young girl was weeding in a field. grew all the flowers of May. The sun was charming. with a rectilinear impost. skirting a wall of the fifteenth century. is dispersed over the meadows on the other. a plough. was fluttering in the wind. and a ladder suspended along an old penthouse with straw partitions. a badly paved path plunged into the bushes. was an inn.. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. probably of some outside spectacle. almost touched the door. The two decrepit leaves which barred it were ornamented with an old rusty knocker. which fills the valley on one side of the road. A brave little bird. A severe facade rose above this door. surmounted by a pointed gable.clump of sparsely planted but very green trees. probably a lover. The door was closed. where a huge yellow poster. beside a pool in which a flotilla of ducks was navigating. the branches had that soft shivering of May. After traversing a hundred paces. perpendicular to the facade. lime smoking in a square hole. through which. In the meadow before the door lay three harrows. a heap of dried brushwood near a flourishing hedge. with a fourwheeled cart at the door. At one corner of the inn. which seems to proceed rather from the nests than from the wind. The wayfarer struck into this. a wall. such as a parish festival.com 513 . in disorder. close to the road. flanked by two flat medallions. in the sombre style of Louis XIV. and flanked it with an abrupt right angle. and disappears gracefully and as in order in the direction of Braine-l’Alleud.

The bullet did not pierce the wood. higher up in the door. is the hole of a big iron bullet as large as an egg. ‘It was a French cannon-ball which made that. and perceived what he was looking at. and went off to look over the tops of the hedges. and a peasant woman emerged.’ ‘What is the name of this place?’ inquired the wayfarer. She saw the wayfarer. and on this elevation something which at that distance resembled a lion. he perceived a sort of little elevation. At this moment the leaves of the door parted. in the stone on the left. resembling the hollow of a sphere. 514 Les Miserables . On the horizon through the trees. The traveller straightened himself up. And she added:— ‘That which you see there.’ she said to him. ‘Hougomont. He was on the battle-field of Waterloo. He walked on a few paces. near a nail.The wayfarer bent over and examined a rather large circular excavation.’ said the peasant woman. at the foot of the pier of the door.

It was a chateau. a chapel surmounted by a small bell-tower. of the time of Henry IV. beside this door. which that great wood-cutter of Europe. the beginning of the obstacle. with its flagstone and its iron reel. called Napoleon. The traveller pushed open the door. The first thing which struck him in this paddock was a door of the sixteenth century. an old well. This manor was built by Hugo.—this was a funereal spot. everything else having fallen prostrate around it. a blossoming pear-tree Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the same who endowed the sixth chaplaincy of the Abbey of Villiers. some carts. and a turkey spreading its tail. permitting a glimpse of the trees of an orchard. some shovels. a manure-hole. it is no longer anything but a farm. In a wall near the arcade opens another arched door. a chicken jumping. Hougomont is Hugomons. elbowed an ancient calash under the porch. Sire of Somerel. encountered at Waterloo.com 515 .CHAPTER II HOUGOMONT Hougomont.. which here simulates an arcade. A monumental aspect often has its birth in ruin. the first knot under the blows of his axe. For the antiquary. some pickaxes. and entered the courtyard. the first resistance.

516 Les Miserables . presents a sort of irregular rectangle. Chickens are scattering its dust abroad with their beaks. hangs suspended to the wall. the divisions of Foy. guarded by this wall. comprising buildings and enclosures. it is a huge dog. broken by the French. and miscarried. who shows his teeth and replaces the English. It is this angle which contains the southern door. Guilleminot. Hougomont viewed on the map. would. but without taking it. Kellermann’s balls were exhausted on this heroic section of wall. Napoleon sent his brother Jerome against Hougomont. Hougomont has two doors. The English behaved admirably there. could he but have seized it. and the brigade of Soye could not do more than effect the beginning of a breach on the south. and the northern door. the conquest of which was one of Napoleon’s dreams. and Bachelu hurled themselves against it. that of the chateau. belonging to the farm. which commands it only a gun’s length away. Bauduin’s brigade was not strong enough to force Hougomont on the north. have given him the world likewise.trained in espalier against the wall of the chapel—behold the court. A bit of the north door. Cooke’s four companies of guards there held out for seven hours against the fury of an army. as a geometrical plan. one angle of which is nicked out. nearly the entire corps of Reille was employed against it. It consists of four planks nailed to two cross-beams. on which the scars of the attack are visible. The farm buildings border the courtyard on the south. A growl is audible. This corner of earth.—the southern door. perhaps.

the confusion of the fray was petrified there. It was there that Bauduin was killed.—from behind the walls. quivering trees seem to be making an effort to flee. The French. from the depths of the cellars. one might say.—disembowelled. the holes are wounds. but could not stand their ground. through all the air-holes. The dispute over this entrance was furious. rises in a crumbling state. stands half-open at the bottom of the paddock. from the summits of the garrets. the breaches cry aloud. the only ruin now remaining of the manor of Hougomont. it was only yesterday. all sorts of imprints of bloody hands were visible on the door-posts. and which has had a piece applied to it to replace the panel suspended on the wall. This courtyard was more built up in 1815 than it is today. built of stone below. the drooping. its horror is visible there. The walls are in the death agony. The storm of the combat still lingers in this courtyard. it lives and it dies there. which was beaten in by the French. It is a simple door for carts. through every crack in the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. such as exist in all farms. the chapel for a block-house.com 517 . the stones fall. one wing of the chateau. Buildings which have since been pulled down then formed redans and angles. fired on from every point. with the two large leaves made of rustic planks: beyond lie the meadows.The northern door. through all the casements. The English barricaded themselves there. The chateau served for a dungeon. For a long time. the French made their way in. There men exterminated each other. it is cut squarely in the wall. Beside the chapel. of brick above which closes in the courtyard on the north.

All the rest resembles a jaw which has been denuded of its teeth. the spiral of the staircase. an old window-frame with the glass all broken to pieces—such is the chapel. cracked from the ground floor to the very roof. Half a score of steps still cling to the wall. Since 1815 it has taken to growing through the staircase. appears like the inside of a broken shell. The mass has not been said there since the carnage. which has recovered its calm. through windows garnished with bars of iron. below the crucifix a square air-hole stopped up with a bundle of hay. which form a heap among the nettles. The staircase has two stories. There are two old trees there: one is dead. the other is wounded at its base. is singular. Near the altar there is nailed up a wooden statue of Saint Anne. These inaccessible steps are solid in their niches.— fetched fagots and set fire to walls and men. Nevertheless. two small arched windows. and massed on its upper steps. and is clothed with verdure in April. Four whitewashed walls. the English. These consisted of large slabs of blue stone. the altar has been left there— an altar of unpolished wood. a door opposite the altar. on the ground. the reply to the grape-shot was a conflagration. had cut off the lower steps. in one corner. on the first is cut the figure of a trident. besieged on the staircase. A massacre took place in the chapel. In the ruined wing.stones. placed against a background of roughhewn stone. the English guards were in ambush in these rooms. the head of the infant Jesus has been car518 Les Miserables . the dismantled chambers of the main building of brick are visible. of the fifteenth century. The interior. over the door a large wooden crucifix.

this corpse was Sub-Lieutenant Legros. his family fled and concealed themselves in the woods. the door was burned. The nations insulted each other there. of which only the blackened stumps are now to be seen. a well is visible on the left. Why is water not drawn there? Because it is full of skeletons. The walls are covered with inscriptions. according to the assertion of the people of the neighborhood. decapitated. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and were then dislodged. the floor was burned. who were masters of the chapel for a moment. Why is there no bucket and pulley to this? It is because water is no longer drawn there. There are French names with exclamation points. On the 18th of June. The flames filled this building.— a miracle. was less fortunate than the Christ. The forest surrounding the Abbey of Villiers sheltered these unfortunate people who had been scattered abroad. set fire to it. The last person who drew water from the well was named Guillaume van Kylsom. There are two in this courtyard. The wall was freshly whitewashed in 1849. On emerging from the chapel. it was a perfect furnace.—a sign of wrath. Near the feet of Christ this name is to be read: Henquinez.ried off by a large ball.com 519 . and was gardener there. It was at the door of this chapel that the corpse was picked up which held an axe in its hand. then it stopped. The infant Jesus. The French. One inquires. Then these others: Conde de Rio Maior Marques y Marquesa de Almagro (Habana). the wooden Christ was not burned. The fire preyed upon his feet. 1815. He was a peasant who lived at Hougomont.

and she causes the pest to follow glory. of which only the beams remain. part stone. It is there that the water was drawn. and folded like the leaves of a screen. Many drank there their last draught. It seems that on the night succeeding the interment. This well was deep. Were they all dead? Legend says they were not. They tore him from his hiding-place. After the engagement. surround it on all sides. and simulating a small. which mark the site of these poor bivouacs trembling in the depths of the thickets. They were thirsty. and it was turned into a sepulchre.for many days and nights. square tower. The iron supports of the well on the right form a cross.’ and concealed himself in the cellar. This little tower had a platform. Death has a fashion of harassing victory. On leaning 520 Les Miserables . they were in haste to bury the dead bodies. part brick. Guillaume van Kylsom remained at Hougomont. With too much haste perhaps. The typhus is a concomitant of triumph. possibly the hole made by a shell. this Guillaume brought them water. such as old boles of burned trees. The English discovered him there. Three hundred dead bodies were cast into it. by administering blows with the flats of their swords. feeble voices were heard calling from the well. and the combatants forced this frightened man to serve them. The fourth side is open. This well where drank so many of the dead was destined to die itself. The wall at the bottom has a sort of shapeless loophole. This well is isolated in the middle of the courtyard. There are at this day certain traces recognizable. It was from this well that he drew it. Three walls. ‘to guard the chateau.

the third Free eBooks at Planet eBook. The slab has here been replaced by a cross-beam. Wilda. so we were told. We glued our ears to the earth to hear. but there is still the stone basin which served the overflow. Upon this door. is still inhabited. The family who occupy the house had for their grandfather Guillaume van Kylsom. against which lean five or six shapeless fragments of knotty and petrified wood which resemble huge bones. The rain-water collects there. A woman with gray hair said to us: ‘I was there. and went boum! boum!’ A door opening from the courtyard on the left led into the orchard. At the moment when the Hanoverian lieutenant. The orchard is terrible. My sister. was terrified and wept. the old gardener. and from time to time a bird of the neighboring forests comes thither to drink. There is no longer either pail. one might almost say. One house in this ruin.com 521 . who was older. a French sapper hewed off his hand with an axe. chain. I was three years old. The door of this house opens on the courtyard. I went there in my mother’s arms. The base of the walls all about the well is concealed in a growth of nettles. dead long since. This well has not in front of it that large blue slab which forms the table for all wells in Belgium. It is in three parts. there is an iron handle with trefoils placed slanting.over. I imitated the cannon. or pulley. grasped this handle in order to take refuge in the farm. beside a pretty Gothic lockplate. in three acts. The first part is a garden. the eye is lost in a deep cylinder of brick which is filled with a heaped-up mass of shadows. the second is an orchard. They carried us off to the woods. the farmhouse. and then flies away.

The wall seems ready to renew the combat. on the right. It was a seignorial garden in the first French style which preceded Le Notre. further down than the orchard. that six light-infantry men of the 1st. a wall. intrepid and with no shelter save the currant-bushes. It was in this garden. One enters the garden first. to-day it is ruins and briars. hunted down and caught like bears in their dens. and being unable to escape. and at the end. It slopes downwards. a wall. properly speaking. The Hanoverians lined this balustrade and fired from above. the buildings of the chateau and the farm. is planted with gooseberry bushes. choked with a wild growth of vegetation. and terminated by a monumental terrace of cut stone. The wall on the right is of brick. Almost all bear scratches of bullets. with balustrade with a double curve. Forty-three balusters can still be counted on their sockets. took a quarter of an hour to die. the wall at the bottom is of stone. within the limits of those few square fathoms. One broken baluster is placed on the pediment like a fractured leg. The infantry men. six against two hundred. These three parts have a common enclosure: on the side of the entrance. one of which was armed with carbines. There. the rest lie prostrate in the grass. 522 Les Miserables . having made their way thither. accepted the combat with two Hanoverian companies.is a wood. on the left. replying from below. One mounts a few steps and passes from the garden into the orchard. a hedge. The pilasters are surmounted by globes which resemble cannon-balls of stone. fifteen hundred men fell in less than an hour.

Thirty-eight loopholes. with the English guards behind it. the thirty-eight loopholes firing at once a shower of grape-shot and balls. In the middle of the grass one observes an uprooted tree-bole which lies there all verdant. In front of the sixth are placed two English tombs of granite. against which Kellermann’s two batteries were trained. This orchard is sentient. The outside of the wall. is gnawed by grape-shot. cords of hair. Major Blackmann leaned against it to die. Duplat. Thus Waterloo began. traverse the spaces between the trees and force the passer-by to bend his head. and Soye’s brigade was broken against it. on which linen is drying. A battalion of Nassau. was overwhelmed there. the French scaled it with their nails. and one’s foot dives into mole-holes. It has its buttercups and its daisies. Nevertheless. pierced by the English at irregular heights. are there still. and found the wall both an obstacle and an ambuscade. in the month of May. They fought hand to hand amid the trees. seven hundred strong. descended from a French family which fled on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. There are loopholes only in the south wall. The wall is hidden on the outside by a tall hedge. the cart-horses browse there. like others. All this grass has been soaked in blood. the French came up. as the principal attack came from that quarter. one walks over this uncultivated land. thinking that they had to deal only with a hedge. As they had no ladders. the grass is tall there. the orchard was taken. An aged and falling Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Beneath a great tree in the neighborhood fell the German general. crossed it.com 523 .

apple-tree leans far over to one side.[6] The skeletons of dead trees abound in this orchard. killed. with their throats cut. There is not one which has not had its bullet or its biscayan. Bauduin. give me three francs. the English Guards mutilated. twenty French battalions. and if you like. shot.—and all this so that a peasant can say to-day to the traveller: Monsieur. [6] A bullet as large as an egg. I will explain to you the affair of Waterloo! 524 Les Miserables . French blood. carnage. and at the end of it is a wood full of violets. Nearly all the appletrees are falling with age. decimated. Foy wounded. Crows fly through their branches. German blood mingled in fury. besides the forty from Reille’s corps. its wound dressed with a bandage of straw and of clayey loam. the regiment of Nassau and the regiment of Brunswick destroyed. conflagration. Duplat killed. burned. three thousand men in that hovel of Hougomont alone cut down. slashed to pieces. a rivulet formed of English blood. Blackmann killed. a well crammed with corpses. massacre.

com 525 . and a cloud traversing the sky out of season sufficed to make a world crumble.CHAPTER III THE EIGHTEENTH OF JUNE. 1815. and felt the effects of this. The foundation of this wonderful captain was the man who. and that gave Blucher time to come up. Napoleon was an artillery officer. The battle of Waterloo could not be begun until half-past eleven o’clock. Why? Because the ground was wet. and even a little earlier than the epoch when the action narrated in the first part of this book took place. decided the downfall of Napoleon. 1815 Let us turn back. If it had not rained in the night between the 17th and the 18th of June. The artillery had to wait until it became a little firmer before they could manoeuvre. All that Providence required in order to make Waterloo the end of Austerlitz was a little more rain. the fate of Europe would have been different. A few drops of water. in the report to the Directory on Aboukir.—that is one of the story-teller’s rights.— and put ourselves once more in the year 1815. said: Such Free eBooks at Planet eBook. more or less.

the action would have begun at six o’clock in the morning. He overwhelmed the weak point with grape-shot.— and he intrusted this task to the cannon-ball. to pulverize regiments. the soul as well as the body? Did the veteran make himself disastrously felt in the leader? In a word. The battle would have been won and ended at two o’clock. Napoleon had two hundred and forty. There was something of the sharpshooter in his genius. he relied all the more on his artillery. and made a breach in it. 1815.—for him everything lay in this. as many historians of note have thought. A redoubtable method. was this genius. What amount of blame attaches to Napoleon for the loss of this battle? Is the shipwreck due to the pilot? Was it the evident physical decline of Napoleon that complicated this epoch by an inward diminution of force? Had the twenty years of war worn out the blade as it had worn the scabbard. to crush and disperse masses. because he had numbers on his side. he joined and dissolved battles with cannon. and the artillery capable of moving. united with genius. rendered this gloomy athlete of the pugilism of war invincible for the space of fifteen years. On the 18th of June. three hours before the change of fortune in favor of the Prussians. strike incessantly. Wellington had only one hundred and fifty-nine mouths of fire. He treated the strategy of the hostile general like a citadel. The key to his victory was to make the artillery converge on one point. To beat in squares. Suppose the soil dry. and one which. All his plans of battle were arranged for projectiles. to strike. 526 Les Miserables . to break lines.a one of our balls killed six men. strike.

to carry Mont-Saint-Jean. no longer discern the crumbling brink of abysses? Had he lost his power of scenting out catastrophes? He who had in former days known all the roads to triumph. and the Prussian half on Tongres. when genius grows short-sighted? Old age has no hold on the geniuses of the ideal. is it to grow less for the Hannibals and the Bonapartes? Had Napoleon lost the direct sense of victory? Had he reached the point where he could no longer recognize the reef. who may be called the giants of action. to the precipice? Was he seized at the age of forty-six with a supreme madness? Was that titanic charioteer of destiny no longer anything more than an immense dare-devil? We do not think so.suffering from an eclipse? Did he go into a frenzy in order to disguise his weakened powers from himself? Did he begin to waver under the delusion of a breath of adventure? Had he become—a grave matter in a general—unconscious of peril? Is there an age. to drive the British half back on Hal. for the Dantes and Michael Angelos to grow old is to grow in greatness. a masterpiece. by the confession of all. to cut them in two. and who. His plan of battle was. had he now reached that state of sinister amazement when he could lead his tumultuous legions harnessed to it.com 527 . pointed them out with a sovereign finger. could no longer divine the snare. to hurl the GerFree eBooks at Planet eBook. to seize Brussels. in this class of material great men. from the summit of his chariot of lightning. To go straight to the centre of the Allies’ line. to make a breach in the enemy. to make two shattered fragments of Wellington and Blucher.

according to Napoleon. a collection of facts which contain illusions. and from another point of view by a whole pleiad of historians. and finished in a masterly manner. Charras. taking appearances for realities. Of course. this history. Thiers. the populace. has been finished. a chain of accidents dominated the two leaders at Waterloo. we are but a distant witness. but this history is not our subject. and the Englishman into the sea. Vaulabelle.[7] [7] Walter Scott. All this was contained in that battle. a seeker bending over that soil all made of human flesh. we do not here pretend to furnish a history of the battle of Waterloo. from one point of view by Napoleon. in the name of science. moreover. Afterwards people would see. in our opinion. that mysterious culprit. a passer-by on the plain. we have no right to oppose. we possess neither military practice nor strategic ability which authorize a system. one of the scenes of the foundation of the story which we are relating is connected with this battle. we judge like that ingenious judge. no doubt. perchance. Quinet.man into the Rhine. and when it becomes a question of destiny. Lamartine. we leave the historians at loggerheads. 528 Les Miserables . As for us.

CHAPTER IV A Those persons who wish to gain a clear idea of the battle of Waterloo have only to place. the right limb is the road to Genappe. The triangle included in the top of the A. It was there that the lion has been placed. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the involuntary symbol of the supreme heroism of the Imperial Guard. Behind the tip of the A. mentally.com 529 . The top of the A is Mont-Saint-Jean. behind the plateau of MontSaint-Jean. The left limb of the A is the road to Nivelles. The dispute over this plateau constituted the whole battle. where Napoleon was. the tie of the A is the hollow road to Ohain from Braine-l’Alleud. the right tip is the Belle-Alliance. d’Erlon facing Picton. the lower left tip is Hougomont. a capital A. between the two limbs and the tie. At the centre of this chord is the precise point where the final word of the battle was pronounced. is the forest of Soignes. Reille facing Hill. The wings of the two armies extended to the right and left of the two roads to Genappe and Nivelles. where Wellington is. is the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean. where Reille is stationed with Jerome Bonaparte. on the ground.

had examined it as the possible seat of a great battle. for the lack of a hovel under whose cover they can draw up. glass in hand. a ravine. 1815. He who quits the field is beaten. of examining the most insignificant clump of trees. an unevenness in the ground. Wellington. The English army was stationed above. at daybreak. with the sagacity of foresight. upon the heights of Rossomme. It is a question of seizing the opponent round the waist. and there end in the forest. and prevent its retreat. a chance turn in the landscape. the French army below. The two generals had attentively studied the plain of Mont-Saint-Jean. It is almost superfluous here to sketch the appearance of Napoleon on horseback. let the reader picture to himself a vast undulating sweep of ground. They clutch at everything: a bush is a point of support. each rise commands the next rise. a regiment yields its ground. a cross-path encountered at the right moment. that 530 Les Miserables . on June 18. The one seeks to trip up the other. hence the necessity devolving on the responsible leader. All the world has seen him before we can show him. Napoleon the bad post. That calm profile under the little three-cornered hat of the school of Brienne. Wellington had the good post. and of studying deeply the slightest relief in the ground. now called the plain of Waterloo. In the preceding year. Two hostile troops on a field of battle are two wrestlers. an angle of the wall offers them a rest to the shoulder. Upon this spot. and all the undulations mount towards MontSaint-Jean. and for this duel. can stay the heel of that colossus which is called an army.As for the plain itself. a grove. on the 18th of June.

tyranny follows the tyrant. from the same man it constructs two different phantoms. it often casts a shadow in places where people had hitherto beheld rays. Jerusalem murdered lessens Titus. his great coat hiding his epaulets. That light called history is pitiless. it possesses this peculiar and divine quality. and the one attacks the other and executes justice on it. It is a misfortune for a man to leave behind him the night which bears his form. saluted with acclamations by some. Babylon violated lessens Alexander. That figure stood for a long time wholly in the light. Hence arises a truer measure in the definitive judgments of nations. and precisely because it is wholly light.green uniform. the sword of Marengo. his leather trousers. Rome enchained lessens Caesar. pure light as it is. Hessian boots over silk stockings. silver spurs.—that whole figure of the last of the Caesars is present to all imaginations. this arose from a certain legendary dimness evolved by the majority of heroes. the corner of red ribbon peeping from beneath his vest. and which always veils the truth for a longer or shorter time. severely regarded by others. and the shadows of the despot contend with the brilliancy of the leader. that.com 531 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the white horse with the saddle-cloth of purple velvet bearing on the corners crowned N’s and eagles. but to-day history and daylight have arrived. the white revers concealing the star of the Legion of Honor.

uncertain. aiming it now at one point. In order to do 532 Les Miserables . the water had accumulated here and there in the hollows of the plain as if in casks. the circingles of the horses were dripping with liquid mud.CHAPTER V THE QUID OBSCURUM OF BATTLES Every one is acquainted with the first phase of this battle. the earth had been cut up by the downpour. all movement. hesitating. If the wheat and rye trampled down by this cohort of transports on the march had not filled in the ruts and strewn a litter beneath the wheels. at some points the gear of the artillery carriages was buried up to the axles. but still more so for the English than for the French. a beginning which was troubled. in the direction of Papelotte would have been impossible. particularly in the valleys. of the battle. as we have already explained. and it had been his wish to wait until the horse batteries could move and gallop freely. was in the habit of keeping all his artillery well in hand. It had rained all night. Napoleon. now at another. like a pistol. menacing to both armies. The affair began late.

to turn Wellington back on Hougomont. the plan was to draw Wellington thither. in fact. instead of massing his troops there. The action was begun furiously. perhaps. When the first cannon was fired. La Haie-Sainte was carried. by the left wing of the French resting on Hougomont. The attack of the right wing of the French on Papelotte was calculated. to overthrow the English left. only four more companies of guards and one battalion from Brunswick.com 533 . thence on Braine-l’Alleud. looked at his watch.that it was necessary that the sun should come out and dry the soil. and noted that it was thirty-five minutes past eleven. Colville. and Wellington. to force Mont-Saint-Jean. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. to bar the passage against possible Prussians. It was no longer the rendezvous of Austerlitz. and Ney pushed forward the right wing of the French against the left wing of the English. But the sun did not make its appearance. could confine himself to despatching thither. With the exception of a few incidents this attack succeeded Papelotte was taken. and to make him swerve to the left. which rested on Papelotte. with more fury. At the same time Napoleon attacked the centre by hurling Quiot’s brigade on La Haie-Sainte. nothing easier. than the Emperor would have wished. to cut off the road to Brussels. thence on Hal. the English general. This plan would have succeeded if the four companies of the English guards and the brave Belgians of Perponcher’s division had not held the position solidly. as reinforcements. The attack on Hougomont was something of a feint.

and participates in the sombreness of the handto-hand conflict. their inexperience extricated them intrepidly from the dilemma. the great white gaiters of our grenadiers. the English soldiers with great. so to speak. white circular pads on the slopes of their shoulders for epaulets. We perceive vast fluctuations in that fog. the Hanoverian lighthorse with their oblong casques of leather. This novice of an infantry had dash. hussar dolmans. red boots with a thousand wrinkles.A detail to be noted. pendant colbacks. pictures. the middle portion of this battle is almost indistinct. There is in this day an obscure interval. not what is suited to the needs of Gribeauval. left somewhat to himself. they performed particularly excellent service as skirmishers: the soldier skirmisher. from mid-day to four o’clock. These young soldiers were valiant in the presence of our redoubtable infantry. cross-belts. There was in the English infantry. the almost black infantry of Brunswick mingled with the scarlet infantry of England. with brass hands and red horse-tails. floating sabre-taches. A certain amount of tempest is always mingled with a 534 Les Miserables . Twilight reigns over it. These recruits displayed some of the French ingenuity and fury. particularly in Kempt’s brigade. a great many raw recruits. not strategic lines—what Salvator Rosa requires. This displeased Wellington. heavy shakos garlanded with torsades. a dizzy mirage. the Scotch with their bare knees and plaids. his own general. becomes. paraphernalia of war almost unknown to-day. After the taking of La Haie-Sainte the battle wavered. cartridge-boxes for grenades.

the sombre folds advance and retreat. The line of battle waves and undulates like a thread. There was something there. the particular feature which pleases him amid this pell-mell. the hurricane alone is trustworthy. Quid obscurum. Rembrandt is better than Vandermeulen. the battalions are like smoke. not a day.com 535 . hurls back. the shock of armed masses has an incalculable ebb. In order to depict a battle. and disperses these tragic multitudes. What is a fray? an oscillation? The immobility of a mathematical plan expresses a minute. that there Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Such a point of the field of battle devours more combatants than such another. Whatever may be the combinations of the generals. the fronts of the armies waver. the open spots change place. to some extent. seek it. distends.battle. lies at three o’clock. exact at noon. It has disappeared. It becomes necessary to pour out more soldiers than one would like. there is required one of those powerful painters who have chaos in their brushes. Let us add. Where the infantry stood the artillery arrives. the regiments form capes and gulfs as they enter and withdraw. the cavalry rushes in where the artillery was. Geometry is deceptive. quid divinum. Each historian traces. a series of expenditures which are the unforeseen. Vandermeulen. a sort of wind from the sepulchre pushes forward. During the action the plans of the two leaders enter into each other and become mutually thrown out of shape. the trails of blood gush illogically. That is what confers on Folard the right to contradict Polybius. just as more or less spongy soils soak up more or less quickly the water which is poured on them. all these reefs are continually moving in front of each other.

and disperses into innumerable detailed feats. at a certain moment in the afternoon the battle came to a point. the evident right to sum up the whole. becomes specialized. 536 Les Miserables . however conscientious he may be. ‘belong rather to the biography of the regiments than to the history of the army. which is true of all great armed encounters.’ The historian has. He cannot do more than seize the principal outlines of the struggle. which. to borrow the expression of Napoleon himself. absolutely. and it is not given to any one narrator. to fix. Nevertheless. This. the form of that horrible cloud which is called a battle.is a certain instant when the battle degenerates into a combat. in this case. is particularly applicable to Waterloo.

all the officers. At the very moment when the English had captured from the French the flag of the 105th of the line.CHAPTER VI FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON Towards four o’clock the condition of the English army was serious. The Prince of Orange. shouted to the Hollando-Belgians: ‘Nassau! Brunswick! Never retreat!’ Hill. Picton was dead. desperate and intrepid. Picton. Hougomont still held out. for Wellington. the foremost boxer in England. two bases of action. with a bullet through the head. only forty-two men survived. Picton of the left wing. the French had killed the English general. La Haie-Sainte was taken. The battle had. had come up to the support of Wellington. but was on fire. having been weakened.com 537 . The Prince of Orange was in command of the centre. Three thousand combatants had been massacred in that barn. had been killed there by a little Free eBooks at Planet eBook. except five. Of the German battalion which defended it. Hill of the right wing. A sergeant of the English Guards. Hougomont and La Haie-Sainte. reputed invulnerable by his companions. were either dead or captured.

thrust the throat of a cannon between two branches. had been annihilated. That point still held firm. riddled by seven lancethrusts. who was at Braine-l’Alleud. It rested on that stout stone dwelling which at that time belonged to the domain of Nivelles. embattled the shrubs. All about the plateau the English had cut the hedges here and there. out of three lieutenant-colonels. the centre.—Hamilton wounded.French drummer-boy. and which marks the intersection of the roads—a pile of the sixteenth century. Many flags had been lost. Two divisions. He summoned thither Hill. one from Alten’s division. That valiant cavalry had bent beneath the lancers of Bro and beneath the cuirassiers of Travers. he summoned Chasse. six hundred remained. Alten put to the sword. The Scotch Grays no longer existed. carried by a prince of the house of Deux-Ponts. and in front of it the slope. was strongly posted. Hougomont injured. rather concave. and so robust that the cannon-balls rebounded from it without injuring it. The centre of the English army. It occupied the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean. La Haie-Sainte taken. Ponsonby had fallen. having behind it the village. two lay on the earth. which was tolerably steep then. There artillery was ambushed in the 538 Les Miserables . Mater slain. made embrasures in the hawthorntrees. Wellington reinforced it. and one from the battalion of Lunenburg. there now existed but one rallying-point. and very compact. the fifth and the sixth. Ponsonby’s great dragoons had been hacked to pieces. very dense. Baring had been dislodged. out of twelve hundred horses. Gordon was dead. Marsh was dead. who was at Merle-Braine.

was thrown back on the Free eBooks at Planet eBook.brushwood. To his English. The artillery would have been lost among the morasses. the centre of the AngloDutch army was well posted. Nassau’s contingent. armed with carabines. that Haxo. was concealed in the tall wheat. he gave as reinforcements and aids. had discovered nothing of it. An army could not retreat thither without dissolving. on the edge of the plateau a battalion of Kempt’s brigade. to the guards of Maitland. Kielmansegg’s Hanoverians. incontestably authorized by war. plus Clinton’s division.—would have been a disorganized flight. as Charras says. It was at the season when the grain is tall. according to many a man versed in the art. To this centre.com 539 . Wellington added one of Chasse’s brigades taken from the right wing. and Ompteda’s Germans. the regiments would have broken up immediately there. which permits traps. The peril of this position lay in the forest of Soignes. The retreat. This placed twenty-six battalions under his hand.—though it is disputed by others. who had been despatched by the Emperor at nine o’clock in the morning to reconnoitre the enemy’s batteries. the 95th. then adjoining the field of battle. to the regiments of Halkett. and one of Wincke’s brigades taken from the left wing. This punic labor. to the brigades of Mitchell. was so well done. The right wing. and had returned and reported to Napoleon that there were no obstacles except the two barricades which barred the road to Nivelles and to Genappe. Thus assured and buttressed. and intersected by the ponds of Groenendael and Boitsfort. the infantry of Brunswick.

fourteen hundred horse strong. the English line drew back. was ranged behind a very low garden wall. Wellington shouted to his old companions of Talavera. This work was not finished. beneath an elm. An enormous battery was masked by sacks of earth at the spot where there now stands what is called the ‘Museum of Waterloo. Wellington had. would have been almost a redoubt. fell at his side.’ The day was evidently turning out ill. cut down. the rest had disappeared: 540 Les Miserables . Suddenly nothing was visible on the crest of the plateau except the artillery and the sharpshooters. was on horseback. The bullets rained about him. behind a rise in the ground. ‘To hold this spot to the last man. of Vittoria. purchased later on for two hundred francs. Wellington was coldly heroic. His aide-de-camp. Lord Hill. which an Englishman.’ replied Wellington. which. The battery. what are your orders in case you are killed?’ ‘To do like me.’ Besides this. To Clinton he said laconically. Gordon. Somerset remained. and there remained the whole day in the same attitude. there had been no time to make a palisade for it. can retreat be thought of? Think of old England!’ Towards four o’clock. which is still in existence. Somerset’s Dragoon Guards. of Salamanca: ‘Boys.centre. It was the remaining half of the justly celebrated English cavalry. a little in advance of the old mill of Mont-Saint-Jean. Ponsonby destroyed. uneasy but impassive. backed up with a coating of bags of sand and a large slope of earth. an enthusiastic vandal. if completed. Wellington. and carried off. said to him: ‘My lord. pointing to a shell which had burst.

a retrograde movement took place. the English front hid itself. ‘The beginning of retreat!’ cried Napoleon.com 541 . now intersected by the back road of the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean.the regiments. retreated into the bottom. dislodged by the shells and the French bullets. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Wellington drew back.

satisfied at the sight of the long line of the English camp-fires illuminating the whole horizon from Frischemont to Braine-l’Alleud. The greatest favorites of destiny make mistakes. to whom he had assigned a day on the field of Waterloo. that profound soul masked by marble beamed blindly. in storm and rain. he 542 Les Miserables .CHAPTER VII NAPOLEON IN A GOOD HUMOR The Emperor. the communes in the neighborhood of Rossomme. said the legionaries of the Fulminatrix Legion. Pompeius flebit. On the 18th of June. Pompey was not destined to weep on that occasion. The man who had been gloomy at Austerlitz was gay at Waterloo. though ill and discommoded on horseback by a local trouble. in company with Bertrand. but it is certain that Caesar laughed. While exploring on horseback at one o’clock on the preceding night. it had seemed to him that fate. was exact to the appointment. Ridet Caesar. Our joys are composed of shadow. His impenetrability had been smiling ever since the morning. had never been in a better humor than on that day. The supreme smile is God’s alone.

and this fatalist was heard to cast into the darkness this mysterious saying. and remained for some time motionless. near the wood of Hougomont. He said: ‘It is the rear-guard of the English getting under way for the purpose of decamping. Nothing was stirring.com 543 . ‘That little Englishman needs a lesson. he regained the animation which he had shown at his landing on the first of March. he heard the tread of a column on the march. The silence on earth was profound. I will take prisoners the six thousand English who have just arrived at Ostend. The rain redoubled in violence. not a bivouac-fire had been extinguished.stopped his horse. every instant of that night was marked by a joy for him. he lost one illusion. He traversed the line of the principal outposts.’ said Napoleon. officers who had been despatched to reconnoitre announced to him that the enemy was not making any movement. ‘We are in accord. the English army was asleep. At half-past two. At four o’clock. and cried.’ Napoleon was mistaken. the only noise was in the heavens. he thought at the moment that it was a retreat on the part of Wellington. when he pointed out to the Grand-Marshal the enthusiastic peasant of the Gulf Juan. the thunder rolled while the Emperor was speaking.’ He conversed expansively. Bertrand. a peasant was brought in to him by Free eBooks at Planet eBook. halting here and there to talk to the sentinels. They were no longer in accord. here is a reinforcement already!’ On the night of the 17th to the 18th of June he rallied Wellington. At half-past three o’clock in the morning. ‘Well. He took not a moment for sleep. gazing at the lightning and listening to the thunder.

At five o’clock. who said. with a face of an archbishop. ‘We have ninety chances out of a hundred. probably Vivian’s brigade. a rough man of war. seated himself. saying to Soult as he did so. This did not prevent Napoleon from exclaiming cheerfully to Ney. however. ‘He 544 Les Miserables .’ says Gourgaud. in Brussels. said.’ That was his way. at the Duchess of Richmond’s. ‘So much the better!’ exclaimed Napoleon. they were wet and fasting. with a truss of straw for a carpet. ‘The ball takes place to-day. ‘A pretty checker-board. at the extreme left.’ In the morning he dismounted in the mud on the slope which forms an angle with the Plancenoit road. embedded in the soft roads. this peasant had served as guide to a brigade of English cavalry. it was said that Wellington had been to a ball two nights before.’ The Emperor jested with Ney.’ At eight o’clock the Emperor’s breakfast was brought to him. which was on its way to take up a position in the village of Ohain.’ In consequence of the rains during the night. the transports of provisions. ‘I prefer to overthrow them rather than to drive them back. had not been able to arrive by morning. the soldiers had had no sleep. He invited many generals to it. two Belgian deserters reported to him that they had just quitted their regiment. and spread out on the table the chart of the battle-field. had a kitchen table and a peasant’s chair brought to him from the farm of Rossomme. ‘Wellington will not be so simple as to wait for Your Majesty. and Soult. and that the English army was ready for battle. ‘He was fond of jesting.the scouts. During breakfast.’ says Fleury de Chaboulon. ‘A merry humor was at the foundation of his character.

on the open sea.abounded in pleasantries. then two generals seated themselves on the truss of straw. the Emperor was touched. the Emperor. having encountered the brig L’Inconstant. At nine o’clock. on which Napoleon was concealed. and having asked the news of Napoleon from L’Inconstant. and the Emperor dictated to them the order of battle. ranged in echelons and set in motion in five columns. which he had adopted at the isle of Elba.’ A man who laughs like that is on familiar terms with events. Le Zephyr. joyous. with rolls on the drums and the blasts of trumpets. It was he who called his grenadiers ‘his grumblers”. and twice exclaimed. the music at their head.’ says Benjamin Constant. which were more peculiar than witty.com 545 .’ is the remark of one of them. he pinched their ears. vast. the artillery between the brigades. mighty. a sea of casques. he pulled their mustaches. as they beat the march. at the instant when the French army. ‘The Emperor is well. the French brig of war. During the mysterious trip from the island of Elba to France. Napoleon indulged in many fits of this laughter during the breakfast at Waterloo. After breakfast he meditated for a quarter of an hour. who still wore in his hat the white and amaranthine cockade sown with bees. These gayeties of a giant are worthy of insistence. ‘Magnificent! Magnificent!’ Between nine o’clock and half-past ten the whole army. on the 27th of February. and answered for himself. ‘The Emperor did nothing but play pranks on us. of sabres. and of bayonets on the horizon. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. laughingly seized the speaking-trumpet. had deployed— the divisions in two lines. pen in hand and their paper on their knees.

which precedes engagements. The third station. and selected for his post of observation a contracted elevation of turf to the right of the road from Genappe to Brussels. the one adopted at seven o’clock in the evening. and Lobau.’ Sure of the issue. with their superb horses. Around this knoll the balls rebounded from the 546 Les Miserables . General. and said to him. perceiving on his left. the Emperor tapped Haxo on the shoulder. which he had appointed to barricade Mont-Saint-Jean as soon as the village should be carried. it is a rather elevated knoll.’ Then he mounted his horse. detached by his orders from the corps of Erlon. to repeat the Emperor’s expression. like that which heralds the beginning of a storm. ‘It is a pity. which was his second station during the battle. Reille. and behind which the guard was massed on a slope of the plain.’ A few moments after the formation of the battle-array. as he beheld the three batteries of twelvepounders. is formidable. ‘There are four and twenty handsome maids. forming. which was situated at the intersection of the Nivelles and the Genappe roads. had taken up its position and ranged itself in six lines. ‘the figure of six V’s. in the midst of that profound silence. at a spot where there now stands a large tomb. which still exists. massing themselves. he encouraged with a smile. between La Belle-Alliance and La Haie-Sainte. he said. advanced beyond Rossomme. the company of sappers of the first corps. as they passed before him. and destined to begin the action by taking Mont-Saint-Jean. those admirable Scotch Grays.incredible as it may appear. All this serenity had been traversed by but a single word of haughty pity.

surmounted by the lion. disintegrated. by the oxidization of six and forty years. and old fragments of iron which parted like elder-twigs between the fingers. a hostile and terrified peasant. in the friable soil of this knoll. who was attached to the saddle of a hussar. By taking from this mournful field the wherewithal to make a monument to it. Mouldy cannon-balls. and with its fuse broken off level with the bomb. old sword-blades. Every one is aware that the variously inclined undulations of the plains.pavements of the road. he had over his head the shriek of the bullets and of the heavy artillery. and shapeless projectiles. rises to-day. but which was almost Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘They have altered my field of battle!’ Where the great pyramid of earth. and who turned round at every discharge of canister and tried to hide behind Napoleon: ‘Fool. was unearthed. A few years ago. and history. no longer finds her bearings there. 1815. Lacoste. still charged.com 547 . As at Brienne. a shell of sixty pounds.’ He who writes these lines has himself found. It has been disfigured for the sake of glorifying it. up to Napoleon himself. disconcerted. are no longer what they were on June 18. It was at this last post that the Emperor said to his guide. on turning over the sand. when he beheld Waterloo once more. two years later. Wellington. the remains of the neck of a bomb. eaten up with rust. Scabra rubigine. it is shameful! You’ll get yourself killed with a ball in the back. were picked up at the spot where his horse’ feet stood. there was a hillock which descended in an easy slope towards the Nivelles road. where the engagement between Napoleon and Wellington took place. its real relief has been taken away. exclaimed.

and the men not only slipped back. the rains had still farther increased this acclivity. is on the left. only. are connected by a road about a league and a half in length. which was the centre of the combat. Braine-l’Alleud is a Belgian village. which traverses the plain along its undulating level. this road cut the crest of the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean between the two highways from Genappe and Nivelles. particularly on the side of La Haie-Sainte. the mud complicated the problem of the ascent. the German tomb. and often enters and buries itself in the hills like a furrow. The elevation of this escarpment can still be measured by the height of the two knolls of the two great sepulchres which enclose the road from Genappe to Brussels: one. On the 18th of June. as at the present day. Thanks to the thousands upon thousands of cartloads of earth employed in the hillock one hundred and fifty feet in height and half a mile in circumference.an escarpment on the side of the highway to Genappe. which makes a ravine of this road in some places. it was abrupt and difficult of approach. the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean is now accessible by an easy slope. The slope there is so steep that the English cannon could not see the farm. but stuck fast in the mire. On the day of battle. Ohain is another. There is no French tomb. 1815. both of them concealed in curves of the landscape. is on the right. The whole of that plain is a sepulchre for France. These villages. 548 Les Miserables . What was this trench? Let us explain. the English tomb. Along the crest of the plateau ran a sort of trench whose presence it was impossible for the distant observer to divine. In 1815. the other. situated in the bottom of the valley.

CY A ETE ECRASE PAR MALHEUR SOUS UN CHARIOT.it is now on a level with the plain. being too steep. the top of which has disappeared in the process of clearing the ground. MONSIEUR BERNARD DE BRYE MARCHAND A BRUXELLE LE [Illegible] FEVRIER 1637.[8] It was so deep on the table-land of Mont-Saint-Jean that a peasant.com 549 . 1637. a trench throughout the greater portion of its course. as is proved by a stone cross which stands near the cemetery. O. M. and still is. and whose banks. by a slide from the slope. [8] This is the inscription:— D. sometimes a dozen feet in depth. This road was. and the date of the accident. Its two slopes have been appropriated for the monumental hillock. particularly in winter. Monsieur Bernard Debrye. but whose overturned pedestal is still visible on the grassy slope to the left of the highway between La Haie-Sainte and the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean. Mathieu Nicaise. and which gives the name of the dead. under driving rains. in 1783. February. On the day of battle. this hollow road whose existence was Free eBooks at Planet eBook. as is stated on another stone cross. was crushed there. it was then a hollow way. Merchant of Brussels. The road was so narrow at the Braine-l’Alleud entrance that a passer-by was crushed by a cart. a hollow trench. crumbled away here and there. Accidents happened here.

in no way indicated. terrible. a rut concealed in the soil. that is to say. a trench at the summit of the escarpment. was invisible. 550 Les Miserables . bordering the crest of Mont-Saint-Jean.

so that the canister was turned into a splash. and there embedding themselves in the rain-soaked soil. the uselessness of Pire’s demonstration on Braine-l’Alleud.CHAPTER VIII THE EMPEROR PUTS A QUESTION TO THE GUIDE LACOSTE So. as we have seen.com 551 . Guilleminot’s fatal heedlessness when he had neither petard nor powder sacks. on the morning of Waterloo. the disabling of Foy. the plan of battle conceived by him was. and only succeeding in producing volcanoes of mud.—the resistance of Hougomont. the killing of Bauduin. really admirable. almost exterminated. the right wing Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the small effect of the bombs falling in the English lines. its very various changes. the tenacity of La Haie-Sainte. The battle once begun. the miring of the batteries. all that cavalry. the fifteen unescorted pieces overwhelmed in a hollow way by Uxbridge. the unexpected wall against which Soye’s brigade was shattered. Napoleon was content. He was right. fifteen squadrons.

the flag of the 105th taken. Lieutenant Vieux. Bourgeois. the left wing badly cut into. that black Prussian hussar stopped by runners of the flying column of three hundred light cavalry on the scout between Wavre and Plancenoit. Marcognet’s division caught between the infantry and the cavalry. put to the sword by Ponsonby. in spite of the Comte d’Erlon. that Hercules graduated at the Polytechnic School. Quiot repulsed.—all these stormy incidents passing like the clouds of battle before Napoleon. Donzelot. fifteen hundred men killed in the orchard of Hougomont in less than an hour. Napoleon was accustomed 552 Les Miserables . men delivered over to grape-shot. the side-battery suddenly unmasked on their flank. and Durutte compromised. attacking columns disorganized. both Frischemont and Smohain. the Prince of Saxe-Weimar holding and guarding. Grouchy’s delay. instead of echelonning the four divisions of the first corps. his battery of seven pieces spiked. wounded at the moment when he was beating in with an axe the door of La Haie-Sainte under the downright fire of the English barricade which barred the angle of the road from Genappe to Brussels. eighteen hundred men overthrown in a still shorter time about La Haie-Sainte. the frightful holes made in these masses by the cannon-balls. the flag of the 45th captured. Ney’s strange mistake in massing. arranged in ranks twenty-seven deep and with a frontage of two hundred. the alarming things that had been said by prisoners. shot down at the very muzzle of the guns amid the grain by Best and Pack.of the English badly alarmed. had hardly troubled his gaze and had not overshadowed that face of imperial certainty.

Thou wilt not dare. He suddenly beheld the table-land of Mont-SaintJean cleared. but hiding itself. and the van of the English army disappear. it was Crecy. swept his glass for the last time over all the points of the field of battle. A mysterious frown becomes perceptible in the depths of the heavens. The man of Marengo was wiping out Agincourt. he was not alarmed if the beginnings did go astray. Nevertheless. At the moment when Wellington retreated. cipher by cipher. he knew how to wait. His guard. Malplaquet. It was rallying. standing behind him with groundFree eBooks at Planet eBook. Poitiers. and he treated destiny as his equal: he seemed to say to fate. since he thought himself the master and the possessor at the end. Napoleon thought himself protected in good and tolerated in evil. So the Emperor. a connivance. which was equivalent to the invulnerability of antiquity. driven into a corner at the forest of Soignes and destroyed—that was the definitive conquest of England by France. or thought that he had. he never added up the heart-rending details. supposing himself to be out of the question. one might almost say a complicity. and Fontainebleau behind one. it seems as though one might distrust Waterloo.com 553 . provided that they furnished the total. of events in his favor. He had.to gaze steadily at war. Composed half of light and half of shadow. ciphers mattered little to him. The Emperor half rose in his stirrups. Wellington. The lightning of victory flashed from his eyes. victory. Napoleon shuddered. when one has Beresina. and Ramillies avenged. meditating on this terrible turn of fortune. Leipzig.

he seemed to be counting each bush. and that on the road to Nivelles where gleamed the Dutch bayonets of Chasse’s brigade. 554 Les Miserables . Near this barricade he observed the old chapel of Saint Nicholas. He had just found his clap of thunder. The Emperor straightened himself up and fell to thinking. Napoleon was one of those geniuses from whom thunder darts. painted white. Napoleon turning round abruptly. he bent down and spoke in a low voice to the guide Lacoste. He gave orders to Milhaud’s cuirassiers to carry the table-land of Mont-Saint-Jean. The guide made a negative sign with his head. He pondered. Wellington had drawn back. which was probably perfidious. which stands at the angle of the cross-road near Braine-l’Alleud. the square of rye. watched him from below with a sort of religion. He gazed with some intentness at the English barricades of the two highways. that on the road to Genappe above La Haie-Sainte. despatched an express at full speed to Paris to announce that the battle was won. All that remained to do was to complete this retreat by crushing him.ed arms. the path. noted the declivities. the only ones out of all the English artillery which commanded the extremity of the field of battle. he examined the slopes.— two large abatis of trees. scrutinized the clumps of trees. armed with two cannon.

with braying of trumpets and all the music playing ‘Let us watch o’er the Safety of the Empire. and they had behind them to support them Lefebvre-Desnouettes’s division. on colossal horses.—the one hundred and six picked gendarmes. at nine o’clock. That morning the whole army had admired them. had. the light cavalry of the Guard.’ they had come in a solid column. another in their centre. and deployed in two ranks between the roads to Genappe and Frischemont.CHAPTER IX THE UNEXPECTED There were three thousand five hundred of them. They were giant men. so to speak. and long sabre-swords. when. They formed a front a quarter of a league in extent. eleven hundred and ninety-seven men. There were six and twenty squadrons of them. so cleverly arranged by Napoleon. They wore casques without horse-tails. with horse-pistols in their holsters. with one of their batteries on their flank. which. having on its extreme left Kellermann’s cuirassiers and on its extreme right Milhaud’s cuirassiers. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. two wings of iron. and the lancers of the guard of eight hundred and eighty lances. and taken up their position for battle in that powerful second line. and cuirasses of beaten iron.com 555 .

by a simultaneous movement and like one man. It seemed as though two immense adders of steel were to be seen crawling towards the crest of the table-land. They ascended. standards and trumpets flung to the breeze. Nothing like it had been seen since the taking of the great redoubt of the Muskowa by the heavy cavalry. A confusion of helmets. Being two divisions. All their cavalry. with the precision of a brazen battering-ram which is effecting a breach. through a storm of grape-shot which burst upon them. Wathier’s division held the right. with upraised swords. It seemed as though that mass had become a monster and had but one soul. then emerging from that shadow. Murat was lacking here. Each column undulated and swelled like the ring of a polyp. The enormous squadrons were set in motion. their colossal trampling was audible. still compact and in close ranks. but Ney was again present. of 556 Les Miserables . They could be seen through a vast cloud of smoke which was rent here and there. imperturbable. the terrible muddy slope of the table-land of Mont-Saint-Jean. plunged into the terrible depths in which so many men had already fallen. disappeared there in the smoke. Ney drew his sword and placed himself at their head. It traversed the battle like a prodigy. grave. Then a formidable spectacle was seen. reappeared on the other side of the valley. there were two columns of them. Delort’s division was on the left. mounting at a full trot. descended.Aide-de-camp Bernard carried them the Emperor’s orders. formed in columns by divisions. threatening. the hill of La Belle Alliance. in the intervals between the musketry and the artillery.

then. and casques. brandishing sabres. Odd numerical coincidence. the cuirasses like the scales on the hydra. formed into thirteen squares. and standards. Behind the crest of the plateau.cries. They did not see the cuirassiers. appeared above the crest.—twenty-six battalions rode to meet twenty-six battalions. calm. invulnerable. and the cuirassiers did not see them. a stormy heaving of the cruppers of horses amid the cannons and the flourish of trumpets. a long file of uplifted arms. in the ancient Orphic epics. all at once. trumpets. Something parallel to this vision appeared. the alternate and symmetrical tramp of their hoofs at full trot. in two lines. the old hippanthropes. horrible. and three thousand heads with gray mustaches. They heard the swelling noise of three thousand horse. mute. motionless. no doubt. which told of the centaurs. over all. and it was like the appearance of an earthquake. the jingling of the cuirasses. two battalions to the square. in the shadow of the masked battery. the clang of the sabres and a sort of grand and savage breathing. six in the second. a terrible and disciplined tumult. those Titans with human heads and equestrian chests who scaled Olympus at a gallop. shouting. sublime—gods and beasts. ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ All this cavalry debouched on the plateau. the English infantry. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. with seven in the first line. waited. taking aim at that which was on the point of appearing. They listened to the rise of this flood of men.com 557 . of sabres. These narrations seemed to belong to another age. the stocks of their guns to their shoulders. There ensued a most terrible silence.

the rest marched over them and passed on. crushing and overwhelming the riders.— a trench between them and the English. the head of the column of cuirassiers reared up with a frightful clamor. the horses reared and fell backward. says that two thousand horses and fifteen hundred men were buried in the hollow road of Ohain. two fathoms deep between its double slopes. on the English left. slid down. ungovernable. On arriving at the culminating point of the crest. It was a terrible moment. yawning. grinding each other. a tragic incident. the cuirassiers had just caught sight of a trench. Almost a third of Dubois’s brigade fell into that abyss. and the third pushed on the second. It was the hollow road of Ohain.— the force which had been acquired to crush the English crushed the French. utterly given over to fury and their course of extermination of the squares and cannon. unexpected.— the whole column being no longer anything more than a projectile. This began the loss of the battle. the inexorable ravine could only yield when filled. This figure probably comprises all the other corpses which were flung into this ravine the day after the combat. horses and riders rolled there pell-mell. A local tradition. forming but one mass of flesh in this gulf: when this trench was full of living men. landed on their haunches. the second file pushed the first into it. and there being no means of retreat. directly under the horses’ feet. on our right. The ravine was there. all four feet in the air.All at once. 558 Les Miserables . which evidently exaggerates matters.

Bonaparte victor at Waterloo. We might almost affirm that Napoleon’s catastrophe originated in that sign of a peasant’s head. The ill will of events had declared itself long before. Was it possible that Napoleon should have won that battle? We answer No.com 559 . Other fatalities were destined to arise. nevertheless. before giving the order for this charge of Milhaud’s cuirassiers. The excessive weight of this man in human destiny disturbed the balance. The guide had answered No. This individual alone counted for more than a universal group. that does not come within the law of the nineteenth century. Another series of facts was in preparation. he had probably put a question as to the possibility of an obstacle. and put on the alert by the little white chapel which marks its angle of junction with the Nivelles highway. an hour previously.—this would be mortal to civilization were it to last. Because of God. had captured the flag of the Lunenburg battalion. The moment had arrived for the incorruptible Free eBooks at Planet eBook. It was time that this vast man should fall. to the guide Lacoste. but had not been able to see that hollow road. These plethoras of all human vitality concentrated in a single head. Why? Because of Wellington? Because of Blucher? No. which did not even form a wrinkle on the surface of the plateau. making a charge to one side. had scrutinized the ground. the world mounting to the brain of one man. Napoleon. Warned.Let us note in passing that it was Dubois’s sorely tried brigade which. in which there was no longer any room for Napoleon.

Waterloo is not a battle. had complained. mothers in tears. over-filled cemeteries. to which the abyss lends an ear. there are mysterious groanings of the shades.and supreme equity to alter its plan.— these are formidable pleaders. as of the material. He embarrassed God. world depend. 560 Les Miserables . Probably the principles and the elements. Smoking blood. on which the regular gravitations of the moral. it is a change of front on the part of the Universe. When the earth is suffering from too heavy a burden. Napoleon had been denounced in the infinite and his fall had been decided on.

CHAPTER X THE PLATEAU OF MONT-SAINT-JEAN The battery was unmasked at the same moment with the ravine. The cuirassiers hurled themselves on the English squares. The intrepid General Delort made the military salute to the English battery.com 561 . with bridles loose. but not discouraged them. They belonged to that class of men who. as though he had a presentiment of an ambush. when diminished in number. The cuirassiers had not had even the time for a halt. Wathier’s column alone had suffered in the disaster. Delort’s column. had arrived whole. The whole of the flying artillery of the English had reentered the squares at a gallop. At full speed. Sixty cannons and the thirteen squares darted lightning point-blank on the cuirassiers. swords in their teeth pistols in fist. increase in courage.—such was the attack. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. The disaster of the hollow road had decimated. which Ney had deflected to the left.

and when all this flesh turns into granite. the cuirassiers made breaches in the squares. desperately assaulted. The squares. in the midst of these four living wells. ground to dust under the horses. Their great horses reared. those cuirassiers were no longer cavalry. the most exposed of all. and closed again. the second ranks shot them down.There are moments in battles in which the soul hardens the man until the soldier is changed into a statue. behind the second rank the cannoneers charged their guns. Inexhaustible in the matter of grape-shot. That cold infantry remained impassive. they were a tempest. hence a hideousness of wounds which has probably never been seen anywhere else. permitted the passage of an eruption of grape-shot. A frenzied whirl enveloped them. Files of men disappeared. did not stir. Each square was a volcano attacked by a cloud. the front of the square parted. gigantic. The cannon-balls ploughed furrows in these cuirassiers. The bayonets plunged into the bellies of these centaurs. The cuirassiers replied by crushing them. All the faces of the English squares were attacked at once. The square on the extreme right. The English battalions. wasted by this mad cavalry. they were craters. was almost annihilated at the very first 562 Les Miserables . strode across the ranks. they created explosions in their assailants’ midst. The form of this combat was monstrous. leaped over the bayonets and fell. Then it was terrible. closed up their ranks without flinching. These squares were no longer battalions. The first rank knelt and received the cuirassiers on their bayonets. being in the air. lava contended with lightning.

while men were being exterminated around him. he would have won the battle. had to face all sides. and still further diminished by the catastrophe of the ravine. The English cavalry was at their back. The bagpipe-player in the centre dropped his melancholy eyes. Before them two squares. The cuirassiers. before and in the rear. put an end to the song by killing the singer. filled with the reflections of the forests and the lakes. the cuirassiers attacked on the flank and in front. What mattered it to them? They were a whirlwind. Trip with the Belgian carabineers. relatively few in number. with his pibroch under his arm. which hewed down the bagpipes and the arm which bore it. in profound inattention. On the right. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. who had been the assailants. The sword of a cuirassier. Somerset had Dornberg with the German light-horse.shock. found themselves assailed. All at once. This forgetfulness was his great and fatal mistake. some Hanoverian battalions yielded. but they multiplied themselves so that each man of them was equal to ten. Somerset meant fourteen hundred dragoons of the guard.com 563 . behind them Somerset. had almost the whole English army against them. Had Napoleon at that same moment thought of his infantry. Nevertheless. as did the Greeks recalling Argos. Wellington perceived it. Their valor was something indescribable. These Scotchmen died thinking of Ben Lothian. played the Highland airs. lt was formed of the 75th regiment of Highlanders. the cuirassiers. and seated on a drum. and thought of his cavalry. and on his left. by infantry and cavalry.

it was a shadow. recaptured. Half the cuirassiers remained on the plateau. pierced on the shoulder by a ball from a biscayan. Wellington.In addition to this. The cuirassiers quitted the cavalry to return to the infantry. Ney rushed up with the lancers and Lefebvre-Desnouettes’s light-horse. One of their cuirasses. The English army was profoundly shaken. fell dead. He said in an undertone. admired heroically. It was no longer a hand-to-hand conflict.[9] is in the collection of the Waterloo Museum. Fuller. a dizzy transport of souls and courage. to put it more exactly. their lieutenant-colonel. There were a dozen assaults. Ney had four horses killed under him. or. or they could never have been wounded in the back. captured again. three-quarters vanquished. For such Frenchmen nothing less than such Englishmen was needed. the whole of that formidable rout collared each other without releasing the other. The squares still held firm. This extraordinary cavalry petrified Clinton. they had behind them the battery. had they not been enfeebled in their first shock by the disaster of the hollow road the cuirassiers would have overwhelmed the centre and decided the victory. It was necessary that it should be so. There is no doubt that. which was still thundering. ‘Sublime!’ 564 Les Miserables . This conflict lasted two hours. The plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean was captured. In an instant the fourteen hundred dragoon guards numbered only eight hundred. a hurricane of lightning swords. who had seen Talavera and Badajoz. [9] A heavy rifled gun. a fury.

This strange battle was like a duel between two raging. The crisis was at hand. Which of the two will be the first to fall? The conflict on the plateau continued. As every one was in possession of the plateau. and in fact it remained. They seemed rooted in that fatal soil on both sides. Wellington held the village and the culminating plain. One of the men who picked up the body still lives at Mont-Saint-Jean. with the English. One thing is certain. still fighting and still resisting. But the weakening of the English seemed irremediable. is expending all his blood. Ney had only the crest and the slope.The cuirassiers annihilated seven squares out of thirteen. in front of the farm of La Belle Alliance. and Brussels meet and intersect each other. which three cuirassiers and three chasseurs of the Guard bore to the Emperor. wounded men. Genappe. at the very point where the four roads from Nivelles. La Hulpe. Wellington felt that he was yielding. The cuirassiers had not succeeded. His name is Dehaze. a cuirassier and his horse were found dead among the woodwork of the scales for vehicles at Mont-Saint-Jean. He was eighteen years old at that time. and captured from the English regiments six flags. took or spiked sixty pieces of ordnance.com 565 . that on the day after the battle. Wellington’s situation had grown worse. This horseman had pierced the English lines. no one held it. to a great extent. each of whom. since the centre was not broken through. What had become of the cuirassiers? No one could have told. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

who. The second regiment of footguards had lost five lieutenant-colonels. Barne wounded. had his knee shattered. in that tussle of the cuirassiers. the English army was in the worse case of the two. such and such a battalion was commanded only by a captain or a lieutenant. a singular coincidence which paints the exhaustion of the two armies. fought against Wellington. Lord Uxbridge. ‘he must let himself be killed!’ Almost at that same moment. ‘Infantry! Where does he expect me to get it? Does he think I can make it?’ Nevertheless. in 1815. the whole of Wellington’s staff decimated. and Blancard were disabled. four captains. who had his leg buried on the following day. Alten’s division. Ney demanded infantry from Napoleon. The loss in officers was considerable. on the left wing. on the side of the English there was Alten wounded. Kempt.’ replied Wellington. l’Heritier. Colbert. the intrepid Belgians of Van Kluze’s brigade strewed the rye-fields all along the Nivelles road. and 566 Les Miserables . rallied to the English standard. ‘There are none. A few men clustered round a flag marked the post of a regiment. Ompteda killed. demanded reinforcements. already so roughly handled at La Haie-Sainte. on the French side. Van Meeren killed. was almost destroyed. intermingled with Spaniards in our ranks in 1811. If. The furious onsets of those great squadrons with cuirasses of iron and breasts of steel had ground the infantry to nothing. and England had the worse of it in that bloody scale. hardly anything was left of those Dutch grenadiers. Dnop. fought against Napoleon.The bleeding of that army was horrible. Delort. Delancey killed. and Napoleon exclaimed. Travers. and who.

This panic was such that it attacked the Prince de Conde at Mechlin. had turned bridle in the presence of the fray. Vincent. Alava. 450 soldiers killed. the 79th Highlanders had lost 24 officers wounded. cried. These facts are attested by Siborne.com 567 . and of Vivian’s and Vandeleur’s brigades. the Spanish commissioner. for a distance of nearly two leagues in the direction of Brussels. the roads were encumbered with fugitives. and he was heard to Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and Louis XVIII. The Dutch. The transports. which flanked the left wing. With the exception of the feeble reserve echelonned behind the ambulance established at the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean. ‘Alarm!’ From Vert-Coucou to Groentendael. rushed headlong thither. the baggage-wagons. a whole regiment. the wagons filled with wounded. who was destined to be tried later on and cashiered.three ensigns. and had fled to the forest of Soignes. 18 officers killed. and Pringle. according to the testimony of eye-witnesses who are still alive. exaggerating the disaster. thought the Duke lost. A number of batteries lay unhorsed. the Austrian commissioner. on perceiving that the French were gaining ground and approaching the forest. At five o’clock Wellington drew out his watch. who were present at the battle in the English staff. but his lips blanched. sowing defeat all the way to Brussels. ammunition-wagons. The Iron Duke remained calm. Wellington had no cavalry left. with Colonel Hacke at its head. mowed down by the French cavalry. the first battalion of the 30th infantry had lost 24 officers and 1. The Hanoverian hussars of Cumberland. at Ghent. goes so far as to say that the Anglo-Dutch army was reduced to thirty-four thousand men.200 soldiers.

murmur these sinister words. ‘Blucher. 568 Les Miserables . Here comes the change of face in this giant drama. or night!’ It was at about that moment that a distant line of bayonets gleamed on the heights in the direction of Frischemont.

Grouchy hoped for. If the little shepherd who served as guide to Bulow. Blucher’s lieutenant. Muffling. ‘The battle was lost. the Prussian army would have come out upon a ravine impassable for artillery. the throne of the world was expected. Fate has these turns. have been different. Death instead of life. instead of below Plancenoit. and Blucher would not have found Wellington on his feet. perhaps. as will be seen.com 569 . A GOOD GUIDE TO BULOW The painful surprise of Napoleon is well known. declares that one hour’s delay. By any other route than that below Plancenoit. and Bulow would not have arrived. it was Saint Helena that was seen. He Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Now the Prussian general. had advised him to debouch from the forest above Frischemont.CHAPTER XI A BAD GUIDE TO NAPOLEON. Blucher arriving.’ It was time that Bulow should arrive. Napoleon would have won the battle of Waterloo. the form of the nineteenth century might.

been very much delayed. as early as mid-day.had. Had the action been begun two hours earlier. and had been obliged to wait until the conflagration was extinguished. but the roads were impassable. and Blucher would have fallen on the battle won by Napoleon. His vanguard was very 570 Les Miserables . evidently Grouchy.’ Then he asked the Duc de Dalmatie. All the glasses of the staff had studied ‘the cloud’ pointed out by the Emperor. ‘I see yonder a cloud. it would have been over at four o’clock. moreover. something which had attracted his attention. and his divisions stuck fast in the mire. answered. to descry with his field-glass. Such are these immense risks proportioned to an infinite which we cannot comprehend. on the extreme horizon. It was mid-day before Bulow’s vanguard had been able to reach Chapelle-Saint-Lambert. Some said: ‘It is trees. Moreover. ‘Four or five thousand men. The Emperor had been the first. that the cloud did not move. which seems to me to be troops. so the caissons and ammunition-wagons could not pass between two rows of burning houses. He had said. Bulow had not moved. Sire. he had been obliged to pass the Dyle on the narrow bridge of Wavre. The ruts were up to the hubs of the cannons. and had set out at daybreak. The Emperor detached Domon’s division of light cavalry to reconnoitre in that quarter. He had bivouacked at Dion-le-Mont. in fact. what do you see in the direction of Chapelle-Saint-Lambert?’ The marshal.’ But it remained motionless in the mist. ‘Soult.’ The truth is. the street leading to the bridge had been fired by the French. levelling his glass.

’ A little later. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Hacke. the cavalry of Prince William of Prussia debouched from the forest of Paris. and uttered these remarkable words: ‘We must give air to the English army. but at five o’clock. Hiller.feeble. and could accomplish nothing. and Ryssel deployed before Lobau’s corps. and he had received orders to concentrate his forces before entering into line. He was obliged to wait for the body of the army corps. perceiving Wellington’s peril. the divisions of Losthin.com 571 . and the Prussian cannon-balls began to rain even upon the ranks of the guard in reserve behind Napoleon. Blucher ordered Bulow to attack. Plancenoit was in flames.

disaster in front. the Guard entering the line in the midst of this terrible crumbling of all things. the English grape-shot and the Prussian grape-shot aiding each other. disaster on the flank. ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ History records nothing more touching than that agony bursting forth in acclamations. a fresh battle precipitating itself on our dismantled regiments at nightfall. Marcognet swept from the plateau of Ohain. eighty-six months of fire thundering simultaneously. the whole English line resuming the offensive and thrust forward. Lobau caught on the flank. Conscious that they were about to die. the battle broken to pieces. the French driven back. the gigantic breach made in the French army.—the irruption of a third army. All of a sudden.—it was eight o’clock in the evening—the clouds on the horizon parted.CHAPTER XII THE GUARD Every one knows the rest. Pirch the first coming up with Bulow. and allowed the grand and 572 Les Miserables . Durutte dislodged from Papelotte. The sky had been overcast all day long. the extermination. Donzelot and Quiot retreating. Zieten’s cavalry led by Blucher in person. at that very moment. they shouted.

they thought they beheld twenty victories entering the field of battle. his eyes aflame. all hurled themselves forwards. Poret de Morvan.com 573 . sprang up. Roguet. in line. with flight behind it. Ney. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.sinister glow of the setting sun to pass through. Harlet. and the final carnage began. lying flat behind the hedges. the Imperial Guard felt the army losing ground around it. He had his fifth horse killed under him there. no timid men in its ranks. and aim straight!’ The red regiment of English guards. ‘Up. more crushed. When the tall caps of the grenadiers of the Guard. with their large plaques bearing the eagle appeared. Not a man was missing in that suicide. and those who were the conquerors. it continued to advance. with uniform unbuttoned. great with all the grandeur of accepted death. the enemy felt a respect for France. losing more men at every step that it took. Guards. symmetrical. The soldier in that troop was as much of a hero as the general. athwart the elms on the Nivelles road. retreated. They had seen it rise at Austerlitz. and in the vast shock of the rout it heard the desperate flight which had taken the place of the ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ and. but Wellington shouted. were there. Perspiring. foaming at the mouth. tranquil. in the midst of that combat. Each battalion of the Guard was commanded by a general for this final catastrophe. Friant. Mallet. believing themselves to be vanquished. There were none who hesitated. In the darkness. a cloud of grape-shot riddled the tricolored flag and whistled round our eagles. with wings outspread. offered himself to all blows in that tempest. bewildered. Michel.

He was haggard and angry. he shouted: ‘So there is nothing for me! Oh! I should like to have all these English bullets enter my bowels!’ Unhappy man. ‘Come and see how a Marshal of France dies on the field of battle!’ But in vain.one of his epaulets half cut off by a sword-stroke from a horseguard. he did not die. he said. bleeding. a broken sword in his hand. magnificent. ‘Are you not going to get yourself killed?’ In the midst of all that artillery engaged in crushing a handful of men. At Drouet d’Erlon he hurled this question. bemired. his plaque with the great eagle dented by a bullet. thou wert reserved for French bullets! 574 Les Miserables .

Lobau at one extremity. The soldiers fly from him. Papelotte. The disintegration is unprecedented. floats. rolls. Pack. jostles. shouting. places himself across the Brussels road.—Hougomont. squadrons and battalions break and disperse against each other. is precipitated. He strives to detain the army. All yields. and without hat.CHAPTER XIII THE CATASTROPHE The rout behind the Guard was melancholy. like the tremendous foam of battle. cracks. he insults it. La Haie-Sainte. Best.com 575 . and Rylandt. he clings to the rout. splits. In vain does Free eBooks at Planet eBook. or sword. He is overwhelmed. falls. leaps upon it. and Reille at the other. Plancenoit. The army yielded suddenly on all sides at once. are drawn into the tide. ‘Long live Marshal Ney!’ Two of Durutte’s regiments go and come in affright as though tossed back and forth between the swords of the Uhlans and the fusillade of the brigades of Kempt. The cry ‘Treachery!’ was followed by a cry of ‘Save yourselves who can!’ An army which is disbanding is like a thaw. Ney borrows a horse. friends kill each other in order to escape. hastens. he recalls it to its duty. stopping both English and French. cravat. the worst of hand-to-hand conflicts is the defeat.

the paths. dashes forwards. no more generals. transports overturned. trampled down. encumbered by this invasion of forty thousand men. Horses lash out. Lions converted into goats. to draw up in line. Quiot retreats before Vivian. the bridges. Lobau before Bulow. Zieten putting France to the sword at its leisure. the plains. flies. falls beneath the feet of the English dragoons. threatens. clog the road and occasion massacres. no more comrades. the soldiers of the artillery-train unharness the caissons and use the horses to make their escape. to present a battle front. The Prussian cavalry. exterminates. an inexpressible terror. the valleys. Lobau rallied three hundred men. the woods. but at the first volley of Prussian canister. Arms are lost. knapsacks and guns flung among the rye. the cannons flee. with all four wheels in the air. urges. All the mouths which in the morning had shouted. A dizzy multitude fills the roads. entreats them. ‘Long live the Emperor!’ remain gaping. an effort was made to wheel about. At Genappe. newly arrived. the hills.Napoleon erect walls from what is left to him of his Guard. all took to flight 576 Les Miserables . harangues. The entrance to the village was barricaded. Kellermann before Vandeleur. Men are crushed. Guyot. Domon and Subervic before Prince William of Prussia. kills. in vain does he expend in a last effort his last serviceable squadrons. others walk over the dead and the living. passages forced at the point of the sword. slashes. no more officers. they hardly recognize him. Morand before Pirch. Such was the flight. who led the Emperor’s squadrons to the charge. hews. Napoleon gallops past the line of fugitives. Shouts despair.

Blucher ordered extermination. that they were not more entirely the conquerors. traversed Gosselies. Alas! and who. traversed Frasnes. surrendered his sword to a huzzar of death. Roguet had set the lugubrious example of threatening with death any French grenadier who should bring him a Prussian prisoner. The victory was completed by the assassination of the vanquished. this downfall into ruin of the loftiest bravery which ever astounded history. was fleeing in that manner? The Grand Army. with nothing left to say nor to do. traversed Charleroi. then. That volley of grape-shot can be seen to-day imprinted on the ancient gable of a brick building on the right of the road at a few minutes’ distance before you enter Genappe. furious.again. The Prussians threw themselves into Genappe. who took the sword and slew the prisoner. Let us inflict punishment. feeling the present shadow of a terrible presence. and Lobau was taken. since we are history: old Blucher disgraced himself. Duhesme. This vertigo. The shadow of an enormous right is projected athwart Waterloo.com 577 . The force which is mightier than man produced that day.—is that causeless? No. no doubt. Hence the terrified wrinkle of those brows. Blucher outdid Roguet. The pursuit was stupendous. The desperate route traversed Genappe. Hoc erat in Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Those who had conquered Europe have fallen prone on the earth. and only halted at the frontier. traversed Quatre-Bras. It is the day of destiny. traversed Thuin. hence all those great souls surrendering their swords. hemmed in at the doorway of an inn at Genappe. the general of the Young Guard. This ferocity put the finishing touch to the disaster. this terror.

Bernard and Bertrand seized by the skirt of his coat and detained a man. dragged to that point by the current of the rout. the immense somnambulist of this dream which had crumbled. That day the perspective of the human race underwent a change. Some one. had passed the bridle of his horse over his arm. The disappearance of the great man was necessary to the advent of the great century. pensive. Waterloo is the hinge of the nineteenth century. there is something of the meteor. In the battle of Waterloo there is something more than a cloud. in a meadow near Genappe. gloomy. haggard. At nightfall. essaying once more to advance. took the responsibility on himself. who. a person to whom one replies not. 578 Les Miserables . and with wild eye was returning alone to Waterloo.fatis. God has passed by. It was Napoleon. sinister. had just dismounted. The panic of heroes can be explained.

died with them. There. death also.CHAPTER XIV THE LAST SQUARE Several squares of the Guard. died alone. and. some on the heights of Rossomme. Each regiment. vanquished. allowed themselves to be enveloped therein. invincible. Wagram. Night came. motionless amid this stream of the defeat. at the foot of that declivity which the cuirassiers had ascended. now inundated by the masses of the English. under a frightful density of projectiles. isolated from the rest. held their own until night. one of them was left at the foot of the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean. others on the plain of Mont-Saint-Jean. as rocks in running water. It was commanded by an obscure officer named Cambronne. Ulm. At each discharge. At twilight. In that fatal valley. terrible. and having no bond with the army. They had taken up position for this final action. the square diminished and Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 579 . this square fought on. under the converging fires of the victorious hostile cavalry. those gloomy squares endured their death-throes in formidable fashion. now shattered in every part. towards nine o’clock in the evening. they awaited that double shadow. Jena. Friedland. abandoned.

advanced upon them and gazed at them. ‘Surrender. formed a circle round their heads. all the lintstocks of the English batteries approached the cannons. ‘——-. when their guns. with emotion. When this legion had been reduced to a handful. a sort of sacred terror. Through the shades of twilight they could hear the pieces being loaded. and then. the white sky viewed through wheels and gun-carriages. These combatants had around them something in the nature of a swarm of spectres.} 580 Les Miserables . were no longer anything but clubs. there reigned among the conquerors. which the heroes saw constantly through the smoke. shouted to them.’ {EDITOR’S COMMENTARY: Another edition of this book has the word ‘Merde!’ in lieu of the ——above. This furnished a sort of respite. and the English artillery. the colossal death’s-head. the matches all lighted. when nothing was left of their flag but a rag. continually contracting its four walls. It replied to the grape-shot with a fusillade. like the eyes of tigers at night. in the depths of the battle. taking breath. around those men dying so sublimely. brave Frenchmen!’ Cambronne replied. the bullets all gone. listened in the darkness to that gloomy and ever-decreasing thunder. holding the supreme moment suspended above these men. became silent. the black profiles of cannon. when the heap of corpses was larger than the group of survivors. silhouettes of men on horseback. an English general. Colville according to some.replied. The fugitives pausing breathless for a moment in the distance. Maitland according to others.

in despair at five. to give this pedestal to the future lion.CHAPTER XV CAMBRONNE If any French reader object to having his susceptibilities offended. and it was not this man’s fault if he survived after he was shot. giving way at four o’clock. then.— Cambronne. This would enjoin us from consigning something sublime to History. to the treacherous wall of HouFree eBooks at Planet eBook. nor Blucher.com 581 . let us violate this injunction. to hurl such a challenge to the midnight rainstorm. what could be grander? For being willing to die is the same as to die. nor Wellington. among those giants there was one Titan. The winner of the battle of Waterloo was not Napoleon. To make that reply and then perish. To thunder forth such a reply at the lightning-flash that kills you is to conquer! Thus to answer the Catastrophe. who took no part in the engagement. At our own risk and peril. who was put to flight. one would have to refrain from repeating in his presence what is perhaps the finest reply that a Frenchman ever made. Now. thus to speak to Fate. The winner of Waterloo was Cambronne.

—this is immense! It was an insult such as a thunder-cloud might hurl! It reaches the grandeur of AEschylus! Cambronne’s reply produces the effect of a violent break. This Cambronne. to offer kings privies which the Caesars once knew. Blucher could not have finished. insolently to end Waterloo with Mardigras. they have just crushed Napo582 Les Miserables . the Jupiter’s darting thunderbolts. to finish Leonidas with Rabellais. they have a hundred thousand victorious soldiers. and back of the hundred thousand a million. to act so as to stand upright though fallen. he is offered this mockery. to drown in two syllables the European coalition. this man spending his last hour. the general’s flushed with victory. their cannon stand with yawning mouths. realizes that here is a falsehood. to Blucher’s arrival. to the sunken road of Ohain. to have the laugh on your side after such a carnage. to Grouchy’s delay.— life! How could he restrain himself? Yonder are all the kings of Europe. this unknown soldier. the match is lighted. and the grand army. to lose the field and preserve history. Who conquered? Wellington? No! Had it not been for Blucher. Was it Blucher? No! If Wellington had not begun. to be Irony itself in the tomb. and at the moment when his rage is bursting forth because of it. ‘Tis the overflow of agony bursting forth. this infinitesimal of war. to make the lowest of words the most lofty by entwining with it the glory of France. a falsehood in a catastrophe.gomont. to set the crown on this victory by a word impossible to speak. and so doubly agonizing. they grind down under their heels the Imperial guards. he was lost. ‘Tis like the breaking of a heart under a weight of scorn.

In face of this mean and mighty victory.—that would be a trifle: he hurls it at the past in the name of the Revolution.— only this earthworm is left to protest. by brute matter. He will protest. to invent such an expression. It is heard. ‘Fire!’ The batteries flamed. He grants its overwhelming immensity. Cambronne invents the word for Waterloo as Rouget invents the ‘Marseillaise.’ under the visitation of a breath from on high. Danton seems to be speaking! Kleber seems to be bellowing! At that word from Cambronne. and Cambronne is recognized as possessed by the ancient spirit of the Titans. but he establishes its triviality. from all those brazen mouths belched a last terrible gush of grape-shot. and only Cambronne remains. Borne down by numbers. by superior force. and the froth is the word.com 583 . This challenge of titanic scorn Cambronne hurls not only at Europe in the name of the Empire. the English voice responded. and they shake. and one of them sings the song supreme. the hill trembled. and when the smoke Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a vast volume of smoke. vaguely white in the light of the rising moon. he finds in his soul an expression: ‘Excrement!’ We repeat it. Then he seeks for the appropriate word as one seeks for a sword. to do thus.leon. An emanation from the divine whirlwind leaps forth and comes sweeping over these men. this desperate soldier stands erect. His mouth froths. is to be the conqueror! The spirit of mighty days at that portentous moment made its descent on that unknown man. and he does more than spit upon it.— to use that word. rolled out. and the other utters the frightful cry. in face of this victory which counts none victorious.

here and there. That formidable remnant had been annihilated. expired on Mont-Saint-Jean. even a quiver in the bodies. and cheerfully whipping up his horse at four o’clock in the morning. 584 Les Miserables . The four walls of the living redoubt lay prone. it was thus that the French legions. and hardly was there discernible. passes whistling. greater than the Roman legions. on the spot where nowadays Joseph. on the soil watered with rain and blood. the Guard was dead. amid the gloomy grain. there was no longer anything there. who drives the post-wagon from Nivelles.dispersed.

in fact. terror. Some stammer. greater successes assured for the morrow. seized with his haughty glance the characteristic outlines of that catastrophe of human genius in conflict with divine chance. a crumbling of the military monarchy which. and in this dazzled state they fumble about.CHAPTER XVI QUOT LIBRAS IN DUCE? The battle of Waterloo is an enigma.—all was lost by a moment of panic. others lisp.[10] Blucher sees nothing in it but fire. For Napoleon it was a panic. the defeat of war. Charras alone. It was a day of lightning brilliancy. The bulletins are confused. Dictees de Sainte Helene. Wellington understands nothing in regard to it. false measures repaired. [10] ‘A battle terminated. It is as obscure to those who won it as to those who lost it. the commentaries involved. though we hold another judgment than his on some points. Look at the reports.com 585 . All the other historians suffer from being somewhat dazzled. Jomini divides the battle of Waterloo into four moments. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’—Napoleon. to the vast stupefaction of kings. Muffling cuts it up into three changes. drew all the kingdoms after it— the fall of force. a day finished.

Often a battle is lost and progress is conquered. their intelligence. There is less glory and more liberty. At this epoch when Waterloo is only a clashing of swords. They are majestic because they think. stamped with superhuman necessity. the part played by men amounts to nothing. The elevation of level which they contribute to civilization is intrinsic with them. and in that aurora England and Germany have a magnificent radiance. reason takes the word. If we take Waterloo from Wellington and Blucher. it proceeds from themselves and not from an accident. It is only barbarous peoples who undergo rapid growth after a victory. do we thereby deprive England and Germany of anything? No. especially in our day. heroes and conquerors. The drum holds its peace. thank God! their dignity. Neither that illustrious England nor that august Germany enter into the problem of Waterloo. nations are great. their genius. can put in the lottery of battles. Thank Heaven. nor Germany. above Wellington. are neither elevated nor abased by the good or bad fortune of a captain. 586 Les Miserables . England has Byron. above Blucher. Their specific gravity in the human species results from something more than a combat. Germany has Schiller. independently of the lugubrious feats of the sword. It is a game in which he who loses wins. nor France is contained in a scabbard. are not numbers which those gamblers. Let us. A vast dawn of ideas is the peculiarity of our century. The aggrandizement which they have brought to the nineteenth century has not Waterloo as its source.In this event. Their honor. Civilized people. Neither England. That is the temporary vanity of torrents swelled by a storm.

strategy. faith in a star mingled with strategic science. and on this occasion. Napoleon and Wellington. the despot going even so far as to tyrannize over the field of battle. They are not enemies. elevating but perturbing it. with an obstinate coolness. the forest. who is fond of antitheses. an indescribable something which gazes like an eagle. which takes advantage of the ground. nothing voluntarily left to chance. The quine[11] won by Europe. The winning number in the lottery. the stream.com 587 . associated with destiny. [11] Five winning numbers in a lottery. superhuman instinct. genius was vanquished by calculation. moreover. carnage. the hill. executed according to rule. intuition. It was not worth while to place a lion there. and in a manner. watch in hand. geometry.therefore. an imperturbable method. On one side. military oddity. on the other. Never did God. Let us render to chance that which is due to chance. Wellington was the Bareme of war. is the strangest encounter in history. precision. absolute regularity. Waterloo. reserves spared. summoned. divination. a prodigious art in disdainful impetuosity. they are opposites. all the mysteries of a profound soul. an assured retreat. forced to obey. the ancient classic courage. and to God that which is due to God. paid by France. which preserve the equilibrium of battalions. On both Free eBooks at Planet eBook. war regulated. a more extraordinary comparison. and which strikes like the lightning. the plain. tactics. What is Waterloo? A victory? No. prudence. foresight. a flaming glance. speak of Waterloo coldly from both sides. Napoleon was its Michael Angelo. make a more striking contrast.

at his dawning. Bonaparte. hence. It was the exact calculator who succeeded. without shoes. The old tactics had been not only struck as by lightning. The old owl had fled before the young vulture. he did not come. but disgraced. almost without an army. the five armies of the emperor of Germany. that rancor had the last word. On the 18th of June. Wurmser on Beaulieu. and absurdly won victories in the impossible? Whence had issued that fulminating convict. Napoleon was waiting for Grouchy. Montebello. of the regular sword against the flaming sword. one after the other. without cannon. Mantua. again in front of him. upsetting Beaulieu on Alvinzi. and beneath Lodi. and as it lost its footing. Who was that Corsican of six and twenty? What signified that splendid ignoramus. without ammunition. Wellington expected Blucher. A triumph of the mediocres which is sweet to the majority. the younger. without provisions. and beaten him superbly. Melas on Wurmser. Arcola. it wrote: Waterloo. nothing in his favor. had encountered him in Italy. Wellington is classic war taking its revenge. with everything against him. with a mere handful of men against masses. the implacable rancor of the old Caesarism against the new. In his decline. hurled himself on Europe combined. 588 Les Miserables . 1815. who. Montenotte. who almost without taking breath.sides some one was awaited. he came. Destiny consented to this irony. Mack on Melas? Who was this novice in war with the effrontery of a luminary? The academical military school excommunicated him. and with the same set of combatants in hand. Napoleon found Wurmser. pulverized. and of the exchequer against genius.

to get Wurmser.com 589 . it was her army. those utterly raw recruits. it sufficed to blanch the hair of Wellington. those Highlanders playing the pibroch under the shower of grape-shot. To make Wellington so great is to belittle England. the superb thing about England there. Wellington is nothing but a hero like many another. the English blood. Wellington was tenacious. those Horse Guards. and we are not seeking to lessen it: but the least of his foot-soldiers and of his cavalry would have been as solid as he. that cavalry of Ponsonby and Somerset. declares in a letter to Lord Bathurst. those battalions of Rylandt. Waterloo is a battle of the first order.In fact. those regiments of Maitland and of Mitchell. 1815. who hardly knew how to handle a musket holding their own against Essling’s and Rivoli’s old troops.—that is what was grand. Those Scotch Grays. is England. to the English army. was a ‘detestable army. was herself. no offence to her. the army which fought on the 18th of June. that infantry of Pack and Kempt. Wellington. the English resolution. It was not her captain. oddly ungrateful. As for us. won by a captain of the second. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. that his army.’ What does that sombre intermingling of bones buried beneath the furrows of Waterloo think of that? England has been too modest in the matter of Wellington. all our glorification goes to the English soldier. in that lay his merit. the English firmness. The iron soldier is worth as much as the Iron Duke. That which must be admired in the battle of Waterloo.

She believes in heredity and hierarchy. As a workman. It will be remembered. Grouchy deaf to the cannon. it was more of a massacre than of a battle at Waterloo. Napoleon’s guide deceiving him. She still cherishes. From this 590 Les Miserables . surpassed by none in power and glory. could not be mentioned by Lord Paglan. in an encounter of the nature of Waterloo. But this great England will be angry at what we are saying here. as a soldier. that at the battle of Inkermann a sergeant who had. it allows itself to be disdained. saved the army. the hollow road of Ohain. half a league. That which we admire above all. let us say it plainly. as the English military hierarchy does not permit any hero below the grade of an officer to be mentioned in the reports.— the whole of this cataclysm is wonderfully conducted. seventy-two thousand combatants on each side. On the whole. is the marvellous cleverness of chance. it is to England that the trophy is due. If trophy there be.to the English people. Of all pitched battles. instead of the figure of a man. if. And as a people. Wellington. after her own 1688 and our 1789. Waterloo is the one which has the smallest front for such a number of combatants. Bulow’s guide enlightening him. A nocturnal rain. Napoleon three-quarters of a league. This people. The column of Waterloo would be more just. it allows itself to be flogged. it bore on high the statue of a people. and not as a people. it appears. it willingly subordinates itself and takes a lord for its head. regards itself as a nation. the wall of Hougomont. the feudal illusion.

French. the battle-field resumes its reality. as it were. and yet it clashes together and combats still. and the following proportion established: Loss of men: at Austerlitz. At Wagram. French. if he watches. the vague clamor of the battle phantom. Russians and Prussians. lines of infantry undulate over the plain. Russians. if he listens. moreover. the lion vanishes in air. the death rattle in the depths of a tomb. the gleam of bayonets.denseness the carnage arose. The following calculation has been made. thirteen per cent. Austrians. fifty-six per cent. the hallucination of the catastrophe takes possession of him. if he dreams like Virgil in the fatal plains of Philippi. one hundred and fortyfour thousand combatants. fourteen. sixty thousand dead. The frightful 18th of June lives again. French. those lights are cuirassiers. At Waterloo. that skeleton Napoleon. and the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and it resembles all plains. forty-four. all this no longer exists. the false monumental hillock disappears. thirtyseven per cent. that other skeleton is Wellington. the frightened dreamer beholds the flash of sabres. At the Moskowa. the tremendous interchange of thunders. thirty per cent. and if a traveller strolls there. furious gallops traverse the horizon. forty-one per cent. he hears. fourteen. At night. those shadows are grenadiers. To-day the field of Waterloo has the calm which belongs to the earth. fourteen per cent. French. thirteen per cent. thirty-one. the Allies. Russians. French. the flare of bombs. Austrians. Total for Waterloo.com 591 . At Bautzen. forty-four per cent. the impassive support of man. a sort of visionary mist arises from it.

ravines are empurpled. Plancenoit. Papelotte. Hougomont. and the trees quiver. appear confusedly crowned with whirlwinds of spectres engaged in exterminating each other. Frischemont. Mont-Saint-Jean. and there is fury even in the clouds and in the shadows. 592 Les Miserables . all those terrible heights.

it is Petersburg. That such an eagle should emerge from such an egg is certainly unexpected. the Hapsburgs with the Bourbons. and that a constitutional Free eBooks at Planet eBook. If one places one’s self at the culminating point of view of the question. The final extinction of that vast people which had been in eruption for twenty-six years—such was the dream. It is Europe against France. To us. Waterloo is intentionally a counter-revolutionary victory. and Vienna against Paris.com 593 . Berlin. it is the 14th of July. that the Empire having been despotic. it is the statu quo against the initiative.CHAPTER XVII IS WATERLOO TO BE CONSIDERED GOOD? There exists a very respectable liberal school which does not hate Waterloo. Waterloo is but the stupefied date of liberty. Waterloo bears divine right on its crupper. the Romanoffs. the Hohenzollerns. attacked through the 20th of March. was forced to be liberal. The solidarity of the Brunswicks. the Nassaus. It is true. 1815. We do not belong to it. it is the monarchies clearing the decks in opposition to the indomitable French rioting. 1789. the kingdom by the natural reaction of things.

594 Les Miserables . That sinister victory was vanquished by liberty. in Bonaparte overthrowing the old thrones. Louis XVIII. If you wish to gain an idea of what revolution is. an orator. It employs Wellington to make of Foy. and the good old tottering invalid of Father Elysee. and a sergeant on the throne of Sweden. To-morrow fulfils its work irresistibly. after Waterloo. at Saint-Ouen countersigns the declaration of the rights of man. had no other effect than to cause the revolutionary work to be continued in another direction. Waterloo. to the great regret of the conquerors.order was the unwilling result of Waterloo. of the conqueror without. It is because revolution cannot be really conquered. and if you wish to acquire an idea of the nature of progress. Bonaparte places a postilion on the throne of Naples. by cutting short the demolition of European thrones by the sword. Thus does progress proceed. call it To-morrow. but adjusts to its divine work the man who has bestridden the Alps. The slashers have finished. who was only a soldier. and that being providential and absolutely fatal. It makes use of the gouty man as well as of the conqueror. It does not become disconcerted. in Louis XVIII. granting and conforming to the charter. of the gouty man within. There is no such thing as a bad tool for that workman. and it is already fulfilling it to-day. call it Progress. it is always cropping up afresh: before Waterloo. The century that Waterloo was intended to arrest has pursued its march. It always reaches its goal strangely. employing inequality to demonstrate equality. it was the turn of the thinkers. Foy falls at Hougomont and rises again in the tribune.

it returned to the stammer of a charter. in the same manner as. the mounted Robespierre was hurled from his saddle. that which triumphed at Waterloo.com 595 . It was the counter-revolution which murmured that infamous word ‘dismemberment. The counter-revolution was involuntarily liberal. Of intentional liberty there is none. that which. was the counter-revolution. the staff of a marshal of France. that which joyously trundled the barrows full of bones to erect the knoll of the lion. Let us behold in Waterloo only that which is in Waterloo.’ On arriving in Paris. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. 1815”. that which brought him all the marshals’ staffs of Europe. Napoleon was involuntarily revolutionary. On the 18th of June. by a corresponding phenomenon. and it changed its mind. from the heights of the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean. including. hovered over France as over its prey.In short. it is said. it felt those ashes which scorched its feet. and incontestably. that which encouraged Blucher. that which smiled in Wellington’s rear. 1815. it beheld the crater close at hand. as he put the flying army to the sword. that which triumphantly inscribed on that pedestal the date ‘June 18.

was not long breathed. an obscure light. re-entered Paris. the Empire had been glory in person. The circling dances of the 8th of July effaced the enthusiasms of the 20th of March. The Empire sank into a gloom which resembled that of the Roman world as it expired.CHAPTER XVIII A RECRUDESCENCE OF DIVINE RIGHT End of the dictatorship. Louis XVIII. We will say more. Again we behold the abyss. The Corsican became the antithesis of the Bearnese. Compared to the true daylight. 596 Les Miserables .—and bewept by heroic eyes. and halted short. The flag on the dome of the Tuileries was white. It had diffused over the earth all the light which tyranny can give a sombre light. A whole European system crumbled away.— let us acknowledge the fact. only the barbarism of 1815. The Empire was bewept. The exile reigned. as in the days of the barbarians. which must be called by its pet name of the counter-revolution. This disappearance of night produces the effect of an eclipse. it is night. soon fell to panting. If glory lies in the sword converted into a sceptre.

The altar and the throne fraternized majestically. all laden with badly borne victories. recalling the fact that the Duc d’Enghien had perished in the very month when Napoleon was crowned. Bouvines and Fontenoy were mentioned as though they had taken place on the preceding day. and the kings resumed their thrones. aged four. who had performed the coronation very near this death. since the bones of Louis XVI. a terrible pauper’s grave in 1793. The Arc du Carrousel. Austerlitz having become antiquated. whom it was seditious to call the King of Rome. it may be.Hartwell’s pine table took its place in front of the fleur-delys-strewn throne of Louis XIV. extricated itself from its predicament with the statue of the Duc d’Angouleme. and over the continent. of Marengo and Arcola. Where there had been an Imperial Guard.com 597 .. thrown out of its element among these novelties. In the moat of Vincennes a sepulchral shaft sprang from the earth. there was now a red house. and Marie Antoinette lay in that dust. The device non pluribus impar re-appeared on the stone rays representing a sun upon the front of the barracks on the Quai d’Orsay. And these things took place. and Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a little ashamed. Pope Pius VII. Europe adopted the white cockade. was covered with jasper and marble. and the old regime became the new regime. and the master of Europe was put in a cage. tranquilly bestowed his blessing on the fall as he had bestowed it on the elevation. One of the most undisputed forms of the health of society in the nineteenth century was established over France. At Schoenbrunn there was a little shadow. Trestaillon was celebrated. The cemetery of the Madeleine.

Beautiful Alliance. however. the fatal field of Waterloo had said in advance. Belle-Alliance. on the afternoon of a certain summer’s day. because. superstitions and mental reservations. The depths of Europe were full of darkness after Waterloo. even when overthrown. ‘He dead!’ cried the soldier. and not that!’ This 1815 was a sort of lugubrious April. fictions became constitutional. with Article 14 in the heart. Ancient unhealthy and poisonous realities were covered with new appearances. the right divine was masked under a charter. A lie wedded 1789. ‘you don’t know him. the ideal had received the strange name of ideology! It is a grave imprudence in a great man to turn the future into derision.all the shadows and all the light of the earth changed place. prejudices. The populace. The kings placed themselves in this void. were varnished over with liberalism. ‘Go this way. Ancient Europe profited by it to undertake reforms. It was the serpent’s change of skin. a shepherd said to a Prussian in the forest.’ said a passer-by to a veteran of Marengo and Waterloo. There was a Holy Alliance. 598 Les Miserables . that food for cannon which is so fond of the cannoneer. Something enormous remained long empty through Napoleon’s disappearance. Man had been rendered both greater and smaller by Napoleon. In presence and in face of that antique Europe reconstructed. sought him with its glance. the features of a new France were sketched out. Under this reign of splendid matter. Where is he? What is he doing? ‘Napoleon is dead.’ Imagination distrusted this man.

with the rock of Saint Helena on the horizon. Liberty. at one and the same time. and Europe called this the Restoration. The kings reigned. While Napoleon was passing through the death struggle at Longwood. England had him guarded by Hudson Lowe. then that peace? All that darkness did not trouble for a moment the light of that immense Eye before which a grub skipping from one blade of grass to another equals the eagle soaring from belfry to belfry on the towers of Notre Dame. Alexander called him ‘my sleeplessness. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Singular fact! people were.’ This terror was the result of the quantity of revolution which was contained in him. His folded arms became a source of uneasiness to thrones. the sixty thousand men who had fallen on the field of Waterloo were quietly rotting.The future. which the Emperor had rallied. This is what Waterloo was. That is what explains and excuses Bonapartist liberalism. that war. made its entry. in love with the future. but ill at their ease. Napoleon. Liberty. and France had him watched by Montchenu. and something of their peace was shed abroad over the world. Defeat had rendered the vanquished greater. The glowing eyes of all young generations were turned on it. The Congress of Vienna made the treaties in 1815. On its brow it bore the star. This phantom caused the old world to tremble. and the past. all that cloud. Those who had triumphed were alarmed. Bonaparte fallen seemed more lofty than Napoleon erect. But what matters it to the Infinite? all that tempest.com 599 .

and lay half a league from the scene of action. pushed forward. Waterloo took no part. If ever the sic vos non vobis was applicable. betrayed the traces of the fugitives. and aided the massacre. let loose on the retreating rout. Such tragic favors of the night do occur sometimes during catastrophes. Mont-Saint-Jean 600 Les Miserables . Its light favored Blucher’s ferocious pursuit. it certainly is to that village of Waterloo.CHAPTER XIX THE BATTLE-FIELD AT NIGHT Let us return—it is a necessity in this book—to that fatal battle-field. They established their bivouac beyond Rossomme. The English occupied the encampment of the French. On the 18th of June the moon was full. the plain of Mont-Saint-Jean remained deserted. The Prussians. delivered up that disastrous mass to the eager Prussian cavalry. After the last cannon-shot had been fired. Wellington went to the village of Waterloo to draw up his report to Lord Bathurst. it is the usual sign of victory to sleep in the bed of the vanquished.

Every army has a rear-guard. The dawn which follows a battle always rises on naked corpses. La Haie-Sainte was taken by assault.was cannonaded. that generally after conquerors follow thieves. out of the question. these names are hardly known. and Waterloo. For our own part. when the occasion presents itself. after all. Hougomont was burned. we tell the truth about it. Plancenoit was burned. especially the contemporary soldier. to strip a corpse a bit when one is the author of that corpse. Who does this? Who thus soils the triumph? What hideous. The hero of the day is the vampire of the night. But let us leave the soldier. they say. and it is that which must Free eBooks at Planet eBook. it has also. it seems to us impossible that the same hand should pluck laurels and purloin the shoes from a dead man. War has frightful beauties which we have not concealed. there is no relief corps. we do not think so. bears off all the honor. which worked not in the battle.com 601 . La Belle-Alliance beheld the embrace of the two conquerors. One of the most surprising is the prompt stripping of the bodies of the dead after the victory. One has assuredly the right. those who are erect pillage those who are prone on the earth. furtive hand is that which is slipped into the pocket of victory? What pickpockets are they who ply their trade in the rear of glory? Some philosophers—Voltaire among the number—affirm that it is precisely those persons have made the glory. One thing is certain. which is. We are not of the number of those who flatter war. some hideous features. Papelotte was burned. It is the same men. we acknowledge.

was responsible for those beings. interloping sutlers. pretended invalids. have been so popular. then spoke French and followed the English. Turenne was adored by his soldiers because he tolerated pillage. a Spanish straggler who spoke French. The rascal sprang from this marauding. half brigands and lackeys. was traitorously slain and robbed on the battle-field itself. and taking him for one of our own men. wearers of uniforms. formidable limpers. Turenne was so good that he allowed the Palatinate to be delivered over to fire and blood. sometimes accompanied by their wives. The marauders in the train of an army were more or less in number. Bat-like creatures. There are reputations which are deceptive.— we are not speaking of the present. marauders.’ No army. deceived by his Picard jargon. great in other directions. The detestable maxim. beggars offering themselves as guides to officers. so that in the special language they are called ‘stragglers.—dragged all this behind them. Wellington had few. one does not always know why certain generals. trotting along in little carts. according as the chief was more or less severe. It was by one of these wretches. who take no part in the fighting.be blamed. that the Marquis of Fervacques. and stealing things which they sell again. 602 Les Miserables . armies on the march in days gone by. which a strict discipline alone could heal. in the course of the night which followed the victory of Cerisoles. evil permitted constitutes part of goodness. Hoche and Marceau had no stragglers. all the sorts of vespertillos that that twilight called war engenders. they spoke Italian and followed the Germans. no nation. Live on the enemy! produced this leprosy. soldiers’ servants.

Certain nocturnal wading birds produce these silhouettes among the marshes.and we do him the justice to mention it. neither peasant nor soldier. the dead were robbed. a man was prowling about. then rose and fled. Towards midnight. he walked forwards and gazed behind him. but rapine is tenacious. caused him to resemble those twilight larvae which haunt ruins.—neither English nor French. he was uneasy and audacious. Nevertheless. his mysterious and rapid gestures. on the night from the 18th to the 19th of June. bent over abruptly. The marauders stole in one corner of the battlefield while others were being shot in another. To all appearance he was one of those whom we have just described. and which ancient Norman legends call the Alleurs. From time to time he halted. climbing in the direction of the hollow road of Ohain. disturbed something silent and motionless on the ground.com 603 . The moon was sinister over this plain. or rather. Who was this man? The night probably knew more of him than the day. He was clad in a blouse that was something like a great coat. he gave orders that any one caught in the act should be shot. His sliding motion. A glance capable of piercing all that mist deeply would have perceived at some distance a sort of little sutler’s wagFree eBooks at Planet eBook. scrutinized the plain around him as though to see whether he were observed. his attitudes. He had no sack. but evidently he had large pockets under his coat. less a man than a ghoul attracted by the scent of the dead bodies having theft for his victory. Wellington was rigid. and come to rifle Waterloo.

A breath. Hougomont and La Haie-Sainte continued to burn. the other in the east. The darkness was serene. two great flames which were joined by the cordon of bivouac fires of the English. as they extended in an immense semicircle over the hills along the horizon. behind the hovel which adjoins the highway to Nivelles. Perhaps there was some connection between that wagon and that prowler. and in the wagon. to rush towards a glory which one sees 604 Les Miserables . What matters it if the earth be red! the moon remains white. We have described the catastrophe of the road of Ohain. at the angle of the road from Mont-Saint-Jean to Braine l’Alleud. forming. a sort of woman seated on coffers and packages. as it were. In the fields. Not a cloud in the zenith. to see the sun. to possess health and joy. these are the indifferences of the sky. branches of trees broken by grape-shot. Quivers which resembled the departure of souls ran through the grass. it is this: to live. if there exists a reality which surpasses dreams. If there is anything terrible. almost a respiration. moved the shrubbery. upheld by their bark. In the distance the coming and going of patrols and the general rounds of the English camp were audible. one in the west.on with a fluted wicker hood. swayed gently in the breeze of night. like a necklace of rubies with two carbuncles at the extremities. to laugh valiantly. The heart is terrified at the thought of what that death must have been to so many brave men. harnessed to a famished nag which was cropping the grass across its bit as it halted. but not fallen. hidden. to be in full possession of virile force.

to have the light—and all at once. horses on top of one. The edges of the hollow road were encumbered with horses and riders. for the corpses had levelled the road with the plain. to yell. to have a mother. leaves. The thickness of the layer of bodies was proportioned to the depth of the hollow Free eBooks at Planet eBook. to roll. where that lamentable disaster had uttered its death-rattle. to writhe. It will be remembered that it was at the opposite point.com 605 . to fall. to feel in one’s breast lungs which breathe. to struggle in vain. to feel a heel which makes one’s eyes start from their sockets. at a spot which is still pointed out. to see ears of wheat. a will which reasons. in less than a minute. love. to have a wife. since one’s bones have been broken by some kick in the darkness. a heart which beats. men beneath one. and there overflowed in a large pool in front of the abatis of trees which barred the way. to speak. to sink into an abyss. A heap of dead bodies in the upper part. think. and reached the brim like a well-filled bushel of barley. to be crushed. to be beneath. branches. that the destruction of the cuirassiers had taken place. in the direction of the Genappe road. to bite horses’ shoes in one’s rage. not to be able to catch hold of anything. Terrible entanglement! There was no longer any slope. flowers. to crush. inextricably heaped up.dazzling in front of one. to have children. The blood ran even to the Nivelles highway. in the space of a shout. and to say to one’s self. hope. to stifle. ‘But just a little while ago I was a living man!’ There. all was silence now. to feel one’s sword useless. 1815. a river of blood in the lower part—such was that road on the evening of the 18th of June.

with the whole upper portion of his body supported on his two forefingers. and had seized the skirt of his coat. which was a ring of gold. scanning the horizon on his knees. remained in a crouching attitude for a moment. which had closed.road. in the hollow road. this man burst 606 Les Miserables . He wheeled round. He gazed about. A few paces in front of him. he gave a terrible start. That hand had on its finger something sparkling. The man bent over. at the point where it became level. the layer of corpses was thinner. he remained in a stooping and frightened attitude. an open hand. He passed the dead in some sort of hideous review. He felt some one clutch him from behind. projected from beneath that heap of men. Towards the middle. The jackal’s four paws suit some actions. Then coming to a decision. At that moment. and when he rose there was no longer a ring on the hand. He walked with his feet in the blood. and his head peering above the edge of the hollow road. it was the open hand. All at once he paused. which rested on the earth. He was searching that vast tomb. illumined by the moon. he rose to his feet. at the point where the pile of dead came to an end. with his back turned to the heap of dead. An honest man would have been terrified. He did not precisely rise. where Delort’s division had passed. The nocturnal prowler whom we have just shown to the reader was going in that direction.

’ said the prowler. He was a cuirassier. ‘it’s only a dead body. which disappeared into one of the gulfs which he had beneath his great coat. seized the hand. by some happy chance.’ said he. His eyes were still closed. and even an officer of considerable rank. or at least the unconscious. freed the head. where nothing was discernible but blood.’ He bent down again. Then he felt of the officer’s fob. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. if that word is permissible here. Effort is quickly exhausted in the grave. ‘Come.into a laugh. man. grasped the arm. I prefer a spook to a gendarme. On his cuirass he wore the silver cross of the Legion of Honor. a large gold epaulette peeped from beneath the cuirass. pulled out the body. pushed aside everything that was in his way. discovered a watch there. an officer. through the shadows of hollow road. he did not appear to have any broken limbs.com 607 . and a few moments later he was dragging the lifeless. fumbled among the heap. this officer no longer possessed a helmet.’ But the hand weakened and released him. found a purse and pocketed it. ‘is that dead fellow alive? Let’s see. Next he searched his waistcoat. the dead had been vaulted above him in such a manner as to preserve him from being crushed. and took possession of it. ‘Well now. However. The prowler tore off this cross. A furious sword-cut had scarred his face. and.

’ answered the prowler. Take them. the officer opened his eyes.’ said the officer. and detained him. the freshness of the night.’ said the prowler.’ The steps of the patrol became more and more distinct. with the movement of a man who is taking his departure. ‘I am sorry for that.When he had arrived at this stage of succor which he was administering to this dying man. some patrol was probably approaching. the air which he could inhale freely. I must 608 Les Miserables . The abruptness of the movements of the man who was manipulating him. had roused him from his lethargy. ‘You have saved my life. ‘Some one is coming. for the death agony was still in his voice:— ‘Who won the battle?’ ‘The English. I belonged to the French army. Who are you?’ The prowler answered rapidly. The officer raised his arm feebly. you will find a watch and a purse. The officer murmured.’ ‘I have been robbed. The prowler executed the required feint. and in a low voice:— ‘Like yourself. The prowler made no reply. and said:— ‘There is nothing there. A sound of footsteps was audible in the plain. ‘Thanks.’ he said feebly. He raised his head. You should have had them.’ It was already done. The officer went on:— ‘Look in my pockets.

Now get out of the scrape yourself.’ ‘What is your name?’ ‘Thenardier. they would shoot me.’ said the officer.leave you. If they were to catch me. I have saved your life.com 609 . ‘and do you remember mine.’ ‘I shall not forget that name.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. My name is Pontmercy.’ ‘What is your rank?’ ‘Sergeant.

— THE SHIP ORION 610 Les Miserables .BOOK SECOND.

a few months after the surprising events which had taken place at M.430 Jean Valjean had been recaptured. sur M. A man. thanks to the new methods.com 611 . An arrondissement of the Pas de Calais has just been the theatre of an event quite out of the ordinary course. resuscitated some years ago an ancient local industry. that at that epoch the Gazette des Tribunaux was not yet in existence. He had made his fortune in the business. It must be remembered. had. The reader will be grateful to us if we pass rapidly over the sad details.CHAPTER I NUMBER 24. We will confine ourselves to transcribing two paragraphs published by the journals of that day. the manufacture of jet and of black glass trinkets. 1823. and who bore the name of M.601 BECOMES NUMBER 9. and that of the arrondissement Free eBooks at Planet eBook. Madeleine. who was a stranger in the Department. It bears the date of July 25. These articles are rather summary. We borrow the first from the Drapeau Blanc.

is an extract from the Journal de Paris. No one has been able to discover where Jean Valjean has concealed this money since his return to prison at Toulon. This wretch had succeeded in escaping the vigilance of the police. Jean Valjean has been recommitted to prison. Madeleine was no other than an ex-convict who had broken his ban. The second article. moreover. and by perfectly legitimate means. but three or four days after his flight the police laid their hands on him once more. acquired in his business. a sum of over half a million which he had lodged there. and which he had. which enters a little more into detail. named Jean Valjean. of the same date. we will admit. and had succeeded in getting himself appointed mayor of one of our small northern towns. This scoundrel. at the very moment when he was entering one of those little vehicles which run between 612 Les Miserables . and named Jean Valjean. in Paris itself. condemned in 1796 for theft. under circumstances calculated to attract attention. thanks to the indefatigable zeal of the public prosecutor. he had changed his name. Laffitte. It appears that previous to his arrest he had succeeded in withdrawing from the hands of M. who had been liberated. found means to escape. He had been appointed mayor. He has at last been unmasked and arrested. has just appeared before the Court of Assizes of the Var. He had for his concubine a woman of the town. who died of a shock at the moment of his arrest. who is endowed with Herculean strength. A former convict. The police discovered that M. in this town he had established a considerable commerce.as well. in recognition of his services.

and that Jean Valjean was a member of a band of robbers in the south. The reader has not forgotten that Jean Valjean had reliFree eBooks at Planet eBook.’ This bandit refused to defend himself. However that may be. with gentle hands. The king. It was proved by the skilful and eloquent representative of the public prosecutor. “. Arrive from Savoy every year. on the person of one of those honest children who.com 613 . Jean Valjean was pronounced guilty and was condemned to the death penalty in consequence. about eight years ago. and it has not been possible to lay hands on it. Jean Valjean was immediately taken to the prison at Toulon. And who.the capital and the village of Montfermeil (Seine-et-Oise). in immortal verse. He is said to have profited by this interval of three or four days of liberty. he has hidden it in some place known to himself alone. If the indictment is to be trusted. that the theft was committed in complicity with others. do clear Those long canals choked up with soot. in his inexhaustible clemency.. This criminal refused to lodge an appeal. the said Jean Valjean has just been brought before the Assizes of the Department of the Var as accused of highway robbery accompanied with violence. has deigned to commute his penalty to that of penal servitude for life.. as the patriarch of Ferney has said. to withdraw a considerable sum deposited by him with one of our leading bankers. This sum has been estimated at six or seven hundred thousand francs.

for lucre instead of the general good. that egotistical division of great existences which have fallen. He was called 9. M. Madeleine. there took place at M. After this fall. there actually was a soul lacking. in the human community. and we will mention it at once in order that we may not be obliged to recur to the subject. Madeleine had set were tangled and 614 Les Miserables . M. among others the Constitutional. others abandoned the trade. sur M. Thenceforth. sur M. No sooner had he fallen. Envious rivalries arose. Lieutenants are crowned kings. lacking him. and which history has noted only once. Madeleine’s vast workshops were shut.430. superintendents improvise manufacturers out of themselves. sur M. There was no longer a centre. his workmen were scattered. bitterness to cordiality. However. the spirit of combat succeeded to the spirit of organization. because it occurred after the death of Alexander. his buildings fell to ruin. everything was done on a small scale. instead of on a grand scale. the prosperity of M. Some of them quitted the country. everywhere there was competition and animosity. Madeleine had reigned over all and directed all. that fatal dismemberment of flourishing things which is accomplished every day. than each pulled things to himself. obscurely. presented this commutation as a triumph of the priestly party. hatred of one another to the benevolence of the founder towards all. Jean Valjean changed his number in the galleys. Some papers. vanished with M. all that he had foreseen during his night of fever and hesitation was realized.gious habits at M. the threads which M.

The state itself perceived that some one had been crushed somewhere. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the products were debased. for the benefit of the galleys. bankruptcy arrived. the market diminished. Madeleine. de Villele called attention to the fact in the rostrum. All had vanished. 1827. sur M. for lack of orders. the workshops stood still.broken.com 615 . and M. the methods were adulterated. Less than four years after the judgment of the Court of Assizes establishing the identity of Jean Valjean and M. And then there was nothing more for the poor.. in the month of February. confidence was killed. the cost of collecting taxes had doubled in the arrondissement of M. salaries were reduced.

Here. in Montfermeil. then. because a popular superstition in the vicinity of Paris is like an aloe in Siberia. which is all the more curious and all the more precious. We are among those who respect everything which is in the nature of a rare plant. has selected the forest as a 616 Les Miserables . a singular occurrence which took place at about the same epoch. from time immemorial. and which is not lacking in coincidence with certain conjectures of the indictment. There exists in the region of Montfermeil a very ancient superstition. it will be to the purpose to narrate in some detail. POSSIBLY Before proceeding further. WHICH ARE OF THE DEVIL’S COMPOSITION. is the superstition of Montfermeil: it is thought that the devil.CHAPTER II IN WHICH THE READER WILL PERUSE TWO VERSES.

thanks to the perspective of evening. is the one most generally adopted. Finally. This man is habitually engaged in digging a hole. Goodwives affirm that it is no rarity to encounter at nightfall. then to run with great speed to the trench. but is cutting grass for his cows. seemed to spring from his head. Then it is seen that the man is simply a peasant. if only for a month. in fact. and whose teeth. This ought. to open it once more and to seize the ‘treasure’ which the black man has necessarily placed there. In this case one dies within the month. The first is to approach the man and speak to him. that he appears black because it is nightfall. which at all events. and recognizable by the fact. have quite freFree eBooks at Planet eBook. he has two immense horns on his head. presents some advantages. a black man with the air of a carter or a wood-chopper. not to look at him. instead of a cap or hat. There are three ways of profiting by such an encounter. The second way is to watch him. to wait until he has dug his hole. that he is not digging any hole whatever. The man returns home and dies within the week. the last method is not to speak to the black man. who are tempted by every chance. wearing wooden shoes. One then dies within the year. So bold men. clad in trousers and a blouse of linen. As all three methods are attended with their special inconveniences. to render him recognizable.hiding-place for his treasures. in secluded nooks of the forest.com 617 . and that what had been taken for horns is nothing but a dung-fork which he is carrying on his back. and to flee at the best speed of one’s legs. among others that of possessing a treasure. that. until he has filled it and has gone away. the second.

since Tryphon lived in the twelfth century. and when he arrives at the bottom of the hole. toils all night— for it must be done at night. opened the holes excavated by the black man. burns out his candle. near Rouen. lapides. This is what Tryphon’s verses seem to announce to the indiscreet and curious:— “Fodit. breaks his mattock. named Tryphon has left on this subject. Tryphon does not record these two finds. as we are assured. when he lays his hand on the ‘treasure. The success of the operation appears to be but moderate. and tried to rob the devil. nummas. a stone. which an evil Norman monk. enormous efforts are made. and since the devil does not appear to have had the wit to invent powder before Roger Bacon’s 618 Les Miserables . sometimes a spectre folded in four like a sheet of paper in a portfolio. a skeleton. simulacra. a bit of a sorcerer. nihilque.quently. a bleeding body. digs. and in particular the two enigmatical lines in barbarous Latin. if the tradition is to be believed.’ what does he find? What is the devil’s treasure? A sou. sometimes an old pack of cards greasy and worn. sometimes nothing. At least. As. Accordingly. sometimes a crown-piece. and toads spawn on his grave. cadaver. Such trenches are ordinarily extremely deep. which has evidently served the devil. This Tryphon is buried at the Abbey of Saint-Georges de Bocherville. he wets his shirt. et in fossa thesauros condit opaca. a man sweats.’ It seems that in our day there is sometimes found a powder-horn with bullets.

He was subjected to certain police supervision. too humble. as he could find work nowhere. named Boulatruelle. and trembling and smiling in the presence of the gendarmes. and he had the appearance of being in search of something. People thereabouts thought they knew that this Boulatruelle had been in the galleys. a very short time after the epoch when it seemed to the prosecuting attorney that the liberated convict Jean Valjean during his flight of several days had been prowling around Montfermeil. and cards before the time of Charles VI.com 619 . it was remarked in that village that a certain old road-laborer.time. This is what people thought they had noticed:— Of late. one is sure to lose all that one possesses! and as for the powder in the horn. Now. Boulatruelle had taken to quitting his task of stone-breaking and care of the road at a very early hour. He was encountered towards evening in the most deserted clearings. had ‘peculiar ways’ in the forest. The only thing in his favor was that he was a drunkard. Moreover. they said. in the wildest thickets.— probably affiliated to robber bands. too prompt in removing his cap to every one. and to betaking himself to the forest with his pickaxe. This Boulatruelle was a man who was viewed with disfavor by the inhabitants of the district as too respectful. suspected of lying in ambush at verge of copses at nightfall. and. and sometimes he was digFree eBooks at Planet eBook. the administration employed him at reduced rates as a road-mender on the cross-road from Gagny to Lagny. if one plays at cards. it possesses the property of making your gun burst in your face.

and that he would have been put to 620 Les Miserables . The goodwives who passed took him at first for Beelzebub. ‘Eh! Good God! no one knows who has been there or will be there. and that the latter would have been forced to speak. and that there was some mystery in what he was doing. were still curious. surmising that in all this there was probably no fabulous treasure of the legends. and were not in the least reassured thereby. Some persons. It was evident that he sought to hide. In the meantime. Boulatruelle has seen him. and is on the search. then they recognized Boulatruelle. These encounters seemed to cause Boulatruelle a lively displeasure. Boulatruelle’s manoeuvres in the forest ceased. and that the roadmender had half discovered the secret.’ One evening the schoolmaster affirmed that in former times the law would have instituted an inquiry as to what Boulatruelle did in the forest.’ said Thenardier. however. The most ‘puzzled’ were the school-master and Thenardier. the proprietor of the tavern. ‘Will Boulatruelle catch the devil.ging holes. It was said in the village: ‘It is clear that the devil has appeared. and he resumed his regular occupation of roadmending. In sooth.’ The Voltairians added. or will the devil catch Boulatruelle?’ The old women made a great many signs of the cross. ‘He has been in the galleys. he is cunning enough to pocket Lucifer’s hoard. who was everybody’s friend. and people gossiped of something else. and had not disdained to ally himself with Boulatruelle. but some fine windfall of a more serious and palpable sort than the devil’s bank-bills.

at a nook of the forest in the underbrush. it was only after the expiration of seven or eight minutes that the idea of following that ‘person’ had occurred to him. by dint of returning to the charge and of comparing and putting together the few obscure words which he did allow to escape him.com 621 . he had been surprised to see. ‘Let us put him to the wine test. He combined with admirable art. They made an effort. ‘a person who did not belong in those parts. and that Boulatruelle would not have resisted the water test. knew well. but said very little. a shovel and a pickaxe. and in masterly proportions.the torture in case of need. and whom he. without being seen himself. as one might say. on the evening of that day. for example. Boulatruelle obstinately refused to reveal his name. he might have supposed that they were probably the shovel and pick of Father Six-Fours. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. this is what Thenardier and the schoolmaster imagined that they had made out:— One morning. concealed. Boulatruelle. Surprise on the part of Boulatruelle. as he was hidden by a large tree. he saw. However. the thirst of a gormandizer with the discretion of a judge. the watercarrier. Nevertheless. This person carried a package—something square. like a large box or a small trunk. However. and got the old road-mender to drinking. when Boulatruelle was on his way to his work. But. and would have thought no more about it. Translation by Thenardier: A comrade of the galleys. Boulatruelle drank an enormous amount.’ directing his steps towards the densest part of the wood.’ said Thenardier. at daybreak.

’ Two or three hours later. night had descended. sounded. therefore it contained money. From this he had drawn the inference that this person.But it was too late. Now. had dug a hole with his pick. and reclosed the hole with his shovel. the coffer was too small to contain a body. Hence his researches.’ 622 Les Miserables . Then he had adopted the course of watching for him at the edge of the woods. carrying no longer the coffer. There were only a few brave gossips. he was sure that the devil had come. and armed with a pickaxe. and had found neither shovel nor pick. and on perceiving that he was recognized. Boulatruelle had seen this person emerge from the brushwood. he had hastened to the thicket in the morning. and that he would probably knock him over the head on recognizing him. Boulatruelle had allowed the person to pass. who said. Touching effusion of two old comrades on meeting again. because he said to himself that the other man was three times as strong as he was. and Boulatruelle had not been able to catch up with him. searched the entire forest and the thicket. No one in Montfermeil thought any more about it. But the shovel and pick had served as a ray of light to Boulatruelle. the person was already in the thicket. but a shovel and pick. ‘It was moonlight. once in the forest. and had dug wherever the earth appeared to him to have been recently turned up. Boulatruelle had explored. ‘You may be certain that the mender on the Gagny road did not take all that trouble for nothing. buried the coffer. He had ‘ferreted out’ nothing. In vain. and had not dreamed of accosting him.

—for the sea had handled it roughly. It flew some colors which procured for it the regulation salute of eleven guns. the inhabitants of Toulon beheld the entry into their port. 1823. which it returned. This vessel. twenFree eBooks at Planet eBook. in that same year.com 623 . shot for shot. battered as it was.CHAPTER III THE ANKLE-CHAIN MUST HAVE UNDERGONE A CERTAIN PREPARATORY MANIPULATION TO BE THUS BROKEN WITH A BLOW FROM A HAMMER Towards the end of October.— produced a fine effect as it entered the roads. and for the purpose of repairing some damages. and which then formed a part of the Mediterranean squadron. which was employed later at Brest as a school-ship. total. after heavy weather. of the ship Orion.

saluted every day by all fortresses and all ships of war. the sansculottes resuscitated. performing an act devolving on the elder.. which vanish in smoke. M. It has been calculated that what with salvos.ty-two. surnamed by the liberal sheets the hero of Andujar. and a quantity of peculiarities. the ancient and very powerful terrorism of the Holy Office at variance with the chimerical terrorism of the liberals. royal and military politenesses. sunrises and sunsets. in the course of four and twenty hours. a European halt. formalities of roadsteads and citadels. that is to say. monarchy opposing an obstacle to progress described as anarchy. le Duc d’Angouleme. signals of etiquette. 624 Les Miserables . complicated by servitude and by subjection to the cabinets of the North. openings and closings of ports. one hundred and fifty thousand useless shots. A grand family affair for the house of Bourbon. under the name of descamisados. the theories of ‘89 roughly interrupted in the sap.’ This war contained many events in one. to the great terror of dowagers. At six francs the shot. the civilized world. compressing in a triumphal attitude that was somewhat contradicted by his peaceable air. The year 1823 was what the Restoration called ‘the epoch of the Spanish war. All this time the poor were dying of hunger. the branch of France succoring and protecting the branch of Madrid. This is a mere detail. courteous exchanges of uproar. three hundred millions a year. discharged all over the earth. an apparent return to our national traditions. which was making the tour of the world. etc. called to the French idea. that comes to nine hundred thousand francs a day.

and the conquering Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the Prince de Carignan. but aged. soldiers hesitating. as the white standard had been thirty years earlier at Coblentz. made by the princes descended from Louis XIV. it appears as though generals and not battles had been won. but little bloodshed. as in every mine which is surprised and invaded. Such was this war. enrolling himself in that crusade of kings against people as a volunteer. France undoing by her arms that which she had done by her mind. and under the white cockade. hostile leaders sold. principles slaughtered by cannonades.com 625 . the idea of corruption was connected with the victory. cities besieged by millions. history approves of France for making a difficulty about accepting this false triumph. It seemed evident that certain Spanish officers charged with resistance yielded too easily. afterwards Charles Albert. Some feats of arms were serious.beside the son of France as generalissimo. and conducted by generals who had been under Napoleon. after eight years of repose. little honor won. glory for no one. shame for some. and yet possible explosions. no military perils. the soldiers of the Empire setting out on a fresh campaign. but after all. the whole effect was suspicious. was a fine military action. the spirit of liberty and of novelty brought to its senses by bayonets. with grenadier epaulets of red worsted. monks mingled with our troops. Its sad fate was to recall neither the grand war nor grand politics. we repeat.. in addition to this. among others. the tricolored standard waved abroad by a heroic handful of Frenchmen. saddened. the trumpets of this war give back a cracked sound. the taking of the Trocadero.

Thus is war. on whom Saragossa had fallen in formidable ruin. Soldiers of the war of 1808. France is made to arouse the soul of nations. From a still more serious point of view. explained. The war of 1823. for. Blind is he who will not see! It was Bonaparte who said it. The words passive obedience indicate this. the object of the French soldier. It is the nature of France to prefer to have Rostopchine rather than Ballesteros in front of her. frowned in 1823 at the easy surrender of citadels. by foul means. They did not perceive the danger 626 Les Miserables . was the conquest of a yoke for others. An army is a strange masterpiece of combination where force results from an enormous sum of impotence. It was an enterprise of inthralment. not to stifle it. the war of 1823 was fatal to them. That is a solar fact.soldier returned humiliated. at the same time. in short. everything that armies do is by foul means. It was France who committed this monstrous violence. which wounded the military spirit of France. A hideous contradiction. and one which it is also proper to insist upon here. with the exception of wars of liberation. despite humanity. and began to regret Palafox. this war. They took it for a success. As for the Bourbons. made by humanity against humanity. A debasing war. an outrage on the generous Spanish nation. the son of democracy. was then. in which the Bank of France could be read in the folds of the flag. All the revolutions of Europe since 1792 are the French Revolution: liberty darts rays from France. an outrage on the French Revolution. In that campaign. enraged the democratic spirit.

It is not permitted to fall asleep.com 627 . and the crowd loves what is great. Let us return to the ship Orion. nor in the shadow of an army. A ship of the line is composed. liquid. a squadron had been cruising in the Mediterranean. and fluid. either in the shadow of a machineel tree. It is because it is great. having re-established elrey netto in Spain. for it deals at one and the same time with three forms of substance. The presence of a vessel of war in a port has something about it which attracts and engages a crowd. During the operations of the army commanded by the prince generalissimo. They fell into the alarming error of taking the obedience of the soldier for the consent of the nation. Such confidence is the ruin of thrones. at the same time. The spirit of the ambush entered into their politics. The Spanish campaign became in their counsels an argument for force and for adventures by right Divine. and that accidents of the sea had brought it into port at Toulon. They went astray. It has eleven claws of iron with which to seize the granite Free eBooks at Planet eBook.that lies in having an idea slain to order. A ship of the line is one of the most magnificent combinations of the genius of man with the powers of nature.— and it must do battle with all three. 1830 had its germ in 1823. France.—solid. in their innocence. We have just stated that the Orion belonged to this fleet. might well have re-established the absolute king at home. to such a degree that they introduced the immense enfeeblement of a crime into their establishment as an element of strength. of the heaviest and the lightest of possible matter.

and eight feet in depth. The simple pile of chains on a ship of a hundred guns is four feet high.on the bottom of the sea. its lanterns supply the place of the stars. its compass. one has only to enter one of the six-story covered construction stocks. it has its cordage and its canvas. The vessels in process of construction are under a bell-glass there. let this be borne in mind. its iron. against the water. This colossal beam is a yard. brass. it is sixty fathoms long. in the ports of Brest or Toulon. Taking it from its root in the stocks to its tip in the clouds. and more wings and more antennae than winged insects. Thus. It is a floating forest. against the rocks. The English main-mast rises to a height of two hundred and seventeen feet above the water-line. against the shadows. The ocean seeks to lead it astray in the alarming sameness of its billows. its light. taken as a whole. wood. it is only a 628 Les Miserables . In the blackest nights. The navy of our fathers employed cables. Its breath pours out through its hundred and twenty cannons as through enormous trumpets. And moreover. which counsels it and always shows it the north. And how much wood is required to make this ship? Three thousand cubic metres. and lead. that great column of wood which stretches out on the earth as far as the eye can reach is the main-mast. to catch the wind in the clouds. a needle. twenty feet in breadth. against immensity. and replies proudly to the thunder. If one wishes to form an idea of all those gigantic proportions which. but the vessel has its soul. against the wind. as it were. and its diameter at its base is three feet. constitute the ship of the line. ours employs chains.

it floats. nevertheless. then in its infancy. the mixed vessel with a screw is a surprising machine. Hence in the ports curious people abound around these marvellous machines of war and of navigation. without being able to explain perfectly to themselves why. from morning until night. propelled by three thousand square metres of canvas and by an engine of two thousand five hundred horse-power. sluices. and it reigns. accordingly. the ancient vessel of Christopher Columbus and of De Ruyter is one of the masterpieces of man. when those monstrous cannons utter plaintive and futile roars. the quays. which the hurricane bears forth into the void and into night. it is precise in the immense vagueness of the billows.com 629 . is twisted in the jaws of the waves like a fisherman’s hook in the jaws of a pike. At the present time. when all that power and all that majesty are engulfed in a power and majesty which are superior. which weighs tens of thousands. when that anchor. of the simple sailing-vessel. and the jetties of the port of Toulon were covered with a Free eBooks at Planet eBook. has since added new miracles to that prodigy which is called a war vessel. There comes an hour. Every day. It is as inexhaustible in force as is the Infinite in gales. Every time that immense force is displayed to culminate in an immense feebleness it affords men food for thought. for example. Not to mention these new marvels. it stores up the wind in its sails.question here of the military vessel of forty years ago. when the wind bends that mast four hundred feet tall. when the gale breaks that sixty-foot yard like a straw. steam.

as the plating in those days was not of sheet iron. whose business consisted in staring at the Orion. on his way he seized the footrope. it was fully equipped. The Orion was a ship that had been ailing for a long time. lost his balance. he was seen to waver. and damaged the foretop-gallant-shrouds. the topman. The hull had received no damage on the starboard. in the course of its previous cruises thick layers of barnacles had collected on its keel to such a degree as to deprive it of half its speed. the man fell around the yard. the man’s head overbalanced his body. One morning the crowd which was gazing at it witnessed an accident. then with the 630 Les Miserables . the Orion had run back to Toulon. as they say in Paris. A violent equinoctial gale had come up. in consequence of these injuries.multitude of idlers and loungers. with his hands outstretched towards the abyss. and. according to custom. the multitude thronging the Arsenal quay uttered a cry. The crew was busy bending the sails. the vessel had sprung a leak. it had gone into the dry dock the year before this. who had to take the upper corner of the main-top-sail on the starboard. first with one hand. in order to have the barnacles scraped off. It anchored near the Arsenal. but some of the planks had been unnailed here and there. then it had put to sea again. which had first staved in a grating and a porthole on the larboard side. to permit of air entering the hold. and repairs were begun. but this cleaning had affected the bolts of the keel: in the neighborhood of the Balearic Isles the sides had been strained and had opened.

the branch of a tree. his anguish could not be discerned on his face. a pole. is life itself. dared to attempt it. but his exhaustion was visible in every limb. his arms were contracted in horrible twitchings. while all the sailors were Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the unfortunate topman was losing his strength. There are moments when a bit of rope. All were awaiting the minute when he should release his hold on the rope. All at once a man was seen climbing into the rigging with the agility of a tiger-cat. he was a life convict. in the midst of the consternation and the hesitation of the crew. and.com 631 . A convict employed on board with a detachment from the galleys had. It was incurring a frightful risk to go to his assistance. all fishermen of the coast. heads were turned aside that his fall might not be seen. and it is a terrible thing to see a living being detach himself from it and fall like a ripe fruit. every effort which he made to re-ascend served but to augment the oscillations of the foot-rope. In the meantime. and allowed a perfectly white head to be seen: he was not a young man. he wore a green cap. in fact. recently levied for the service. from instant to instant. at the very first instant. like a stone in a sling. the shock of his fall had imparted to the foot-rope a violent swinging motion. a gust of wind carried away his cap. On arriving on a level with the top. the man swayed back and forth at the end of that rope. for fear of exhausting his strength.other. hastened to the officer of the watch. and. he did not shout. he was a convict. and remained hanging from it: the sea lay below him at a dizzy depth. this man was dressed in red. not one of the sailors.

—instead of one man suspended over the gulf. then he began to descend the rope. seemed centuries to those who were looking on. and allowed the other end to hang down. the same tremor contracted every brow. At last. and had dashed into the rigging: no one noticed. all mouths held their breath as though they feared to add the slightest puff to the wind which was swaying the two unfortunate men. and then. at an affirmative sign from the officer he had broken the chain riveted to his ankle with one blow of a hammer. hand over hand. he paused for a few seconds and appeared to be measuring it with his eye. not a cry. In the meantime. he fastened the rope which he had brought to it. he had asked the officer’s permission to risk his life to save the topman. with what ease that chain had been broken. it was only later on that the incident was recalled. not a word. these seconds. one minute more. The convict had 632 Les Miserables . It was high time. the convict raised his eyes to heaven and advanced a step: the crowd drew a long breath. Ten thousand glances were fastened on this group. then he had caught up a rope. during which the breeze swayed the topman at the extremity of a thread. In a twinkling he was on the yard.trembling and drawing back. the convict had succeeded in lowering himself to a position near the sailor. He was seen to run out along the yard: on arriving at the point.—and the anguish was indescribable. and the exhausted and despairing man would have allowed himself to fall into the abyss. not death. only here the spider brought life. there were two. One would have said it was a spider coming to seize a fly. at the instant.

or that his head turned.moored him securely with the cord to which he clung with one hand. then he grasped him in his arms and carried him. while he was working with the other. all eyes were following him. he dropped into the rigging. The frigate Algesiras was anchored alongside the Orion. In order to reach them the more speedily. The search was continued until the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. At a certain moment fear assailed them. the man had not risen to the surface. and from there to the main-top. and the poor convict had fallen between the two vessels: it was to be feared that he would slip under one or the other of them. and to drag the sailor up after him. as though he had fallen into a cask of oil: they sounded. the crowd cheered them on.com 633 . they dived. anxiety again took possession of all souls. they thought they saw him hesitate and stagger. In vain. and women embraced each other on the quay. and ran along one of the lower yards. and all voices were heard to cry with a sort of tender rage. he had disappeared in the sea without leaving a ripple. he held him there a moment to allow him to recover his strength. The fall was perilous. ‘Pardon for that man!’ He. whether it was that he was fatigued. Four men flung themselves hastily into a boat. At that moment the crowd broke into applause: old convict-sergeants among them wept. in the meantime. At last. where he left him in the hands of his comrades. had immediately begun to make his descent to rejoin his detachment. walking on the yard himself to the cap. All at once the crowd uttered a loud shout: the convict had fallen into the sea. he was seen to climb back on the yard.

17. a convict belonging to the detachment on board of the Orion. The body has not yet been found. Yesterday. On the following day the Toulon newspaper printed these lines:— ‘Nov. it is supposed that it is entangled among the piles of the Arsenal point: this man was committed under the number 9. and his name was Jean Valjean. fell into the sea and was drowned.evening: they did not even find the body.430. 1823.’ 634 Les Miserables . on his return from rendering assistance to a sailor.


and cheaply. to be sure. ornamented all the year through with plaster villas. on account of the elevation of 636 Les Miserables . and on Sundays with beaming bourgeois. At the present day it is a tolerably large town. Retired clothmerchants and rusticating attorneys had not discovered it as yet.CHAPTER I THE WATER QUESTION AT MONTFERMEIL Montfermeil is situated between Livry and Chelles. it was a peaceful and charming place. their balconies in twisted iron. Some pleasure-houses of the last century were to be met with there. In 1823 there were at Montfermeil neither so many white houses nor so many well-satisfied citizens: it was only a village in the forest. that peasant rustic life which is so bounteous and so easy. which were recognizable by their grand air. only. which was not on the road to anywhere: there people lived. water was rare there. whose tiny panes cast all sorts of varying shades of green on the white of the closed shutters. and their long windows. on the southern edge of that lofty table-land which separates the Ourcq from the Marne. but Montfermeil was none the less a village.

—little Cosette. found drinking-water only at a little spring half-way down the slope. near the road to Chelles. and who earned about eight sous a day in his enterprise of supplying Montfermeil with water. the aristocracy. In this capacity she it was who ran to fetch water when it was required. The large houses. The other end. and five in winter. It will be remembered that Cosette was useful to the Thenardiers in two ways: they made the mother pay them. the Thenardiers kept Cosette. which surrounds the church and which lies in the direction of Chelles. paid half a farthing a bucketful to a man who made a business of it. he who had no water to drink went to fetch it for himself or did without it. and night once come and the shutters on the ground floor once closed. the end of the village towards Gagny drew its water from the magnificent ponds which exist in the woods there.the plateau. took great care that water should never be lacking Free eBooks at Planet eBook. who was greatly terrified at the idea of going to the spring at night. of which the Thenardier tavern formed a part. about a quarter of an hour from Montfermeil.com 637 . and they made the child serve them. It was necessary to fetch it from a considerable distance. the reason for which we have read in preceding chapters. So when the mother ceased to pay altogether. She took the place of a servant in their house. This constituted the terror of the poor creature whom the reader has probably not forgotten. So the child. Thus each household found it hard work to keep supplied with water. but this good man only worked until seven o’clock in the evening in summer.

and peddlers. clad in rags and coming no one knew whence. and a band of itinerant merchants. there was a menagerie.in the house. had constructed their stalls on the Church Square. among the curiosities displayed in the square. such as our Royal Museum did not possess until 1845. there had been neither snow nor frost up to that time. the Thenardiers’ hostelry was situated. drinking and smoking around four or five candles in the public room of Thenar638 Les Miserables . as the reader will perhaps remember. it belongs to the order of the Apicides. and which have a tricolored cockade for an eye. and to the family of the vultures. we ought even to add that. in which frightful clowns. who had retired to the village. and even extended them into Boulanger Alley. carters. These people filled the inns and drinking-shops. were seated at table. went to see this creature with great devotion. and communicated to that tranquil little district a noisy and joyous life. Christmas of the year 1823 was particularly brilliant at Montfermeil. In order to play the part of a faithful historian. a number of men. Some good old Bonapartist soldiers. under protection of the same tolerance. where. The mountebanks gave out that the tricolored cockade was a unique phenomenon made by God expressly for their menagerie. The beginning of the winter had been mild. exhibited to the peasants of Montfermeil in 1823 one of those horrible Brazilian vultures. I believe that naturalists call this bird Caracara Polyborus. Some mountebanks from Paris had obtained permission of the mayor to erect their booths in the principal street of the village. On Christmas eve itself.

—tables. which abound in certain wheat.’ Etc. fennel. by two objects which were then fashionable in the bourgeois class: to wit. there are tares. the wine turns oily as soon as spring comes. le Duc d’Angouleme. Or a miller would call out:— ‘Are we responsible for what is in the sacks? We find in them a quantity of small seed which we cannot sift out. especially in Breton wheat.’ ‘But the grapes cannot be ripe?’ ‘In those parts the grapes should not be ripe. vetches. I am not fond of grinding Breton wheat.dier’s hostelry.’ ‘Then it is very thin wine?’ ‘There are wines poorer even than these. smokers. were audible amid the uproar:— ‘About Nanterre and Suresnes the vines have flourished greatly. bottles. The date of the year 1823 was indicated. like the following. The grapes must be gathered while green. any more than long-sawyers like to Free eBooks at Planet eBook. but little light and a great deal of noise. They have yielded a great deal of juice under the press.com 639 . not to mention pebbles. The female Thenardier was attending to the supper. This room resembled all drinking-shop rooms. which was roasting in front of a clear fire. drinkers. fox-tail. pewter jugs. strictly local parentheses. nevertheless. Besides political conversations which had for their principal subjects the Spanish war and M. and which we are obliged to send through the mill-stones. and a host of other weeds. a kaleidoscope and a lamp of ribbed tin. her husband was drinking with his customers and talking politics. When ten pieces were reckoned on there have been twelve. hempseed.

You can judge of the bad dust that makes in grinding. who was seated at table with a landed proprietor who was fixing on a price for some meadow work to be performed in the spring. At intervals the cry of a very young child. seated on the cross-bar of the kitchen table near the chimney. her bare feet were thrust into wooden shoes. It was a little boy who had been born to the Thenardiers during one of the preceding winters. ‘the result of the cold. It’s terribly tender. but she did not love him. Laughter and chatter were audible in the adjoining room. They are in the wrong. was saying:— ‘It does no harm to have the grass wet.’ 640 Les Miserables . sir. When the persistent clamor of the brat became too annoying.—‘she did not know why. It yields before the iron. Your grass is young and very hard to cut still. It makes no difference with that grass.’ Etc. from two fresh children’s voices: it was Eponine and Azelma.’ she said. She was in rags. And then people complain of the flour.’—and who was a little more than three years old. The flour is no fault of ours. In the chimney-corner a cat-o’-nine-tails was hanging on a nail. and by the firelight she was engaged in knitting woollen stockings destined for the young Thenardiers.’ In a space between two windows a mower. It cuts better. Dew is a good thing. The mother had nursed him. Cosette was in her usual place.saw beams with nails in them. which was somewhere in the house. A very young kitten was playing about among the chairs. rang through the noise of the dram-shop. ‘Your son is squalling.

’ ‘Bah!’ the mother would reply. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘do go and see what he wants.’ And the neglected child continued to shriek in the dark. ‘he bothers me.com 641 .Thenardier would say.

and considering it under all its aspects. so that there existed a balance of age between husband and wife. who contort themselves at fairs with pavingstones hanging from their hair. a mouse in the service of an elephant. she belonged.— tall. fat. Thenardier had just passed his fiftieth birthday. dotted with red blotches. Madame Thenardier was approaching her forties. to the race of those colossal wild women. Her big face. She did everything about the house. and people. furniture.CHAPTER II TWO COMPLETE PORTRAITS So far in this book the Thenardiers have been viewed only in profile. enormous. Cosette was her only servant. square. did the washing. Our readers have possibly preserved some recollection of this Thenardier woman.—window panes. red. as we have said. which is equivalent to fifty in a woman. and agile. blond. the moment has arrived for making the circuit of this couple. presented the ap642 Les Miserables . Everything trembled at the sound of her voice. and everything else. angular. ever since her first appearance.—made the beds. the cooking.

singularly enough. he smiled habitually. He wore a blouse. Parny. ‘That is a carter”.’ One of her teeth projected when her face was in repose. one said. He greatly resembled the portraits of the Abbe Delille. who had a sickly air and who was wonderfully healthy. His cunning began here. No one had ever succeeded in rendering him drunk. He had the glance of a pole-cat and the bearing of a man of letters. and which made the affected lady peep through the ogress at times. A filousophe [philosophe]. pale. when one saw her drink. feeble man. in a very queer way. even to the beggar to whom he refused half a farthing. Thenardier was a small. ‘That is the hangman. bony. and. when one saw her handle Cosette. She was an ideal market-porter dressed in woman’s clothes. angular. he was a great swindler. He declared that he had ‘a system.com 643 . She swore splendidly.’ In addition.—Voltaire.’ This Thenardier female was like the product of a wench engrafted on a fishwife. He made pretensions to literature and to materialism. There were certain names which he often pronounced to support whatever things he might be saying. one said.pearance of a skimmer. He smoked a big pipe. Saint Augustine. ‘That is a gendarme”. a scientific thief. His coquetry consisted in drinking with the carters. and under his blouse an old black coat. by way of precaution. one said. When one heard her speak. She had a beard. she boasted of being able to crack a nut with one blow of her fist. Raynal. and was almost polite to everybody. ‘That is a woman. Except for the romances which she had read. The Free eBooks at Planet eBook. thin. the idea would never have occurred to any one to say of her.

and a Bonapartist. with wife and children. he was in the habit of relating with exuberance. ‘some quibus. Ebb and flow. a tattered conscience entails a fragmentary life. some Fleming from Lille. and travelling like a family man. apparently at the stormy epoch of June 18. as he said. a Belgian at Brussels. being comfortably astride of both frontiers. in Flanders. the reader is already acquainted with that. It was said in the village that he had studied for the priesthood. selling to some. he had alone. and having. at Waterloo. who had been dangerously wounded. ‘a general.’ Thence arose for his wall the flaring sign. We believe that he had simply studied in Holland for an inn-keeper. a classic.’ he had 644 Les Miserables .’ He was a liberal. covered with his body and saved from death. stealing from others. It will be remembered that he pretended to have served in the army. He had subscribed for the Champ d’Asile. adventure. of ‘the cabaret of the Sergeant of Waterloo. 1815. and. and in the presence of a squadron of death-dealing hussars. This campaign ended. was the leven of his existence. This rascal of composite order was. wandering.species does exist. how. It will be perceived that he exaggerated it a trifle. being a sergeant in the 6th or the 9th light something or other. As for his prowess at Waterloo. in a rickety cart. beating about the country. in the rear of troops on the march. and for his inn the name which it bore in the neighborhood. Thenardier belonged to that variety of marauding sutlers of which we have spoken. a Frenchman in Paris. in all probability. with an instinct for always attaching himself to the victorious army. in the midst of the grape-shot.

or used either one of them where neither exists. accompanied by an oath. He did not disdain his servants. and did not carry this sutler turned eating-house-keeper very far. pronounced a t or an s at the end of words where the opposite letter should occur. on occasion. the schoolmaster had noticed that he pronounced improperly. above all. He composed the travellers’ tariff card in a superior manner. which caused his wife to dispense with them. Thenardier was cunning. It seemed to her that that thin and yellow little man must be an object coveted by all. i.com 645 . slothful. Thenardier. gathered in harvest-time in furrows sown with corpses. capable of wrath to quite the same degree as his wife. He was a fine talker. of gold rings and silver crosses. composed of purses and watches. This is the worst species. but this was very rare. but practised eyes sometimes spied out orthographical errors in it. the seminary. e. an astute and well-balanced man. Thenardier had that peculiar rectilinear something about his gestures which. greedy. was a scamp of a temperate sort.. did not amount to a large total. It is not that Thenardier was not. and clever. recalls the barracks. who was. Nevertheless.come to Montfermeil and set up an inn there. and by a sign of the cross. This quibus. since he was enraged with the human race in general. He allowed it to be thought that he was an educated man.[12] [12] Literally ‘made cuirs”. This giantess was jealous. as he bore within him a deep furnace of hatred. hypocrisy enters into it. And since he was one of those people who are conFree eBooks at Planet eBook. and at such times.

—when all this leaven was stirred up in him and boiled forth from his mouth and eyes.tinually avenging their wrongs. he was terrible. silent or talkative. Thenardier was a sort of special and sovereign being in Madame Thenardier’s eyes. He had something of the look of sailors. Thenardier was a statesman. Every new-comer who entered the tavern said. as a legitimate grievance. Woe to the person who came under his wrath at such a time! In addition to his other qualities. if she had ever had a disagreement as to any detail with ‘Monsieur Thenardier. ‘There is the master of the house. he created. the mastodon obeyed. Thenardier was attentive and penetrating. She was possessed of virtues after her own kind. according to circumstances. The husband was both master and mistress. on catching sight of Madame Thenardier. by the way. sometimes a sign. and always highly intelligent. who are accustomed to screw up their eyes to gaze through marine glasses.’ A mistake. who accuse everything that passes before them of everything which has befallen them. and which is called in par646 Les Miserables . and the calamities of their lives. She was not even the mistress. She would never have committed ‘before strangers’ that mistake so often committed by women. though she did not thoroughly realize it. She worked. the bankruptcies.’—which was an inadmissible hypothesis. the sum total of the deceptions. A word was sufficient for him. He directed everything by a sort of invisible and constant magnetic action.—she would not have blamed her husband in public on any subject whatever. and who are always ready to cast upon the first person who comes to hand.

but an inn-keeper must browse where fate has hitched him. Thenardier was burdened with about fifteen hundred francs’ worth of petty debts. In this same year. ‘exposing the crown. Thenardier was ruining himself at Montfermeil. did not extend to boys. The man had but one thought. It will be understood that the word inn-keeper is here employed in a restricted sense. Viewed on its dwarfed and grotesque side. and does not extend to an entire class. This woman was a formidable creature who loved no one except her children. and who did not fear any one except her husband. at others she felt him like a claw. At certain moments she beheld him like a lighted candle. That mountain of noise and of flesh moved under the little finger of that frail despot.—how to enrich himself.com 647 . this was that grand and universal thing.liamentary language.’ Although their concord had only evil as its result. hence the absolute empire of the man over that woman. She was a mother because she was mammiferous. There was an unknown quantity about Thenardier. and this rendered him anxious. if ruin is possible to zero. there was contemplation in Madame Thenardier’s submission to her husband. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. He did not succeed in this. and. in Switzerland or in the Pyrenees this penniless scamp would have become a millionaire. 1823. the adoration of mind by matter. But her maternity stopped short with her daughters. as we shall see. A theatre worthy of this great talent was lacking. for certain ugly features have a cause in the very depths of eternal beauty.

the feather-bed. the window shut. the mattress and the truss of straw. which was particularly dangerous. the stool. even for the flies which his dog eats!’ This man and this woman were ruse and rage wedded—a hideous and terrible team. to empty small purses. took no heed of yesterday nor of to-morrow. ‘The duty of the inn-keeper. dirty sheets. and. by five hundred thousand devils. all in a minute. the chair. Madame Thenardier thought not of absent creditors. ‘is to sell to the first comer. fire.’ he said to her one day. Thenardier was one of those men who understand best. His theories as a landlord sometimes burst forth in lightning flashes. and a smile. to know how much the shadow uses up the mirror. to pluck the woman. He had professional aphorisms. to make the traveller pay for everything. and quoted for his skill in shooting. Besides. to pick the child clean. and to honestly lighten heavy ones. that thing which is a virtue among barbarous peoples and an object of merchandise among civilized peoples. and lived in a fit of anger. stews.—hospitality. which he inserted into his wife’s mind. a servant. to stop passers-by. with the most profundity and in the most modern fashion.Whatever may have been the obstinate injustice of destiny in this case. the ottoman. the arm-chair. While the husband pondered and combined. the chimney-corner. to shelter travelling families respectfully: to shave the man. light. violently. repose. He had a certain cold and tranquil laugh. to quote the window open. lice. he was an admirable poacher. and in a low voice. 648 Les Miserables . and to put a price on it.

moved heavy articles. The Thenardier hostelry was like a spider’s web. It was something like the fly serving the spiders. There was no mercy for her. ran. The ideal of oppression was realized by this sinister household. The man and the woman each had a different method: Cosette was overwhelmed with blows— this was the woman’s. washed. find themselves thus. fluttered about. subjected to their double pressure. and where she lay trembling. rubbed.com 649 . did the coarse work. What takes place within these souls when they have but just quitted God. at the very dawn of life. a fierce mistress and venomous master.Such were these two beings. very small and in the midst of men all naked! Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and weak as she was. panted. in which Cosette had been caught. dusted. swept. she went barefooted in winter— that was the man’s doing. The poor child passively held her peace. Cosette was between them. like a creature who is at the same time being ground up in a mill and pulled to pieces with pincers. Cosette ran up stairs and down.

AND HORSES MUST HAVE WATER Four new travellers had arrived. she had already suffered so much that she reflected with the lugubrious air of an old woman. ‘How ugly she is with her fist-blow on her eye!’ Cosette was thinking that it was dark. but their thirst was of the sort which applies to the jug rather than to the pitcher. although she was only eight years old. She was somewhat reassured because no one in the Thenardier establishment drank much water. Her eye was black in consequence of a blow from Madame Thenardier’s fist. Any one who had asked for a glass of water among all those glasses 650 Les Miserables . Cosette was meditating sadly. Thirsty people were never lacking there. which caused the latter to remark from time to time. that the pitchers and caraffes in the chambers of the travellers who had arrived must have been filled and that there was no more water in the cistern. for. very dark.CHAPTER III MEN MUST HAVE WINE.

‘there is no more water!’ A momentary silence ensued. The child did not breathe. A thin stream of water trickled from the faucet. But there came a moment when the child trembled.of wine would have appeared a savage to all these men.’ said Madame Thenardier. and said in a harsh voice:— ‘My horse has not been watered. Madame Thenardier raised the cover of a stew-pan which was boiling on the stove. ‘One must needs be a cat to go about the streets without a lantern at this hour!’ And Cosette trembled.’ Cosette applied herself to her work once more. She turned the faucet. but for a quarter of an hour she felt her heart leaping in her bosom like a big snow-flake. ‘Well.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. From time to time one of the drinkers looked into the street. it has.’ said she. ‘Oh. and exclaimed. yes. ‘It’s as black as an oven!’ or.’ retorted the pedler.com 651 . ‘Bah!’ resumed Madame Thenardier. and wished it were the next morning. and I spoke to him. the child had raised her head and was following all the woman’s movements. ‘the horse has had a drink. and half filled the glass. then seized a glass and briskly approached the cistern. ‘this will be enough.’ ‘Yes. ‘I tell you that it has not. he drank out of a bucket. She counted the minutes that passed in this manner. Cosette had emerged from under the table. All at once one of the pedlers who lodged in the hostelry entered. examining the halffilled glass. and it was I who took the water to him. sir!’ said she. a whole bucketful.

and the child could have set down in it at her ease. The Thenardier resumed:— ‘Mademoiselle Dog-lack-name.It was not true.’ The Thenardier threw the street door wide open:— ‘Well. almost under the drinkers’ feet. go and get some. let my horse be watered. ‘Are you coming?’ shrieked Madame Thenardier. ‘There’s a brat as big as my fist who tells lies as big as the house. The Thenardier returned to her stove. and which was hardly audible:— ‘And he drank heartily. now! Where’s that other beast?’ She bent down and discovered Cosette cowering at the other end of the table.’ said the pedler. Cosette lied. then!’ Cosette dropped her head. feebly. you little jade! He has a way of blowing when he has had no water. ‘if the beast has not been watered. and tasted what 652 Les Miserables . ‘In truth. ‘this won’t do at all.’ ‘Come. it must be.’ Cosette persisted.’ Then glancing about her:— ‘Well.’ exclaimed the pedler.’ ‘But. go and water that horse. which I know well. ‘I tell you that he has not been watered. Cosette crawled out of the sort of hole in which she had hidden herself. and added in a voice rendered hoarse with anguish. This bucket was bigger than she was.’ said Cosette. and let that be the end of it!’ Cosette crept under the table again. in a rage. and went for an empty bucket which stood near the chimney-corner. ‘there is no water. that is fair!’ said Madame Thenardier. Madame.

Here’s a fifteen-sou piece. ‘on your way back. She seemed to be waiting for some one to come to her rescue.com 653 . ‘See here.was in the stewpan. grumbling the while:— ‘There’s plenty in the spring. I think I should have done better to strain my onions. pepper. The door closed behind her. bucket in hand. Cosette went out.’ she added. Mam’selle Toad. you will get a big loaf from the baker. ‘Get along with you!’ screamed the Thenardier. with a wooden spoon. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. There never was such a malicious creature as that. she took the coin without saying a word. and put it in that pocket. Then she stood motionless.’ Cosette had a little pocket on one side of her apron.’ Then she rummaged in a drawer which contained sous. and shallots. the open door before her.

extended. glass. established precisely opposite the Thenardiers’ door. The last of these stalls. These booths were all illuminated. All that day. with candles burning in paper funnels. was a toy-shop all glittering with tinsel. then seated at the table at the Thenardiers’ observed. without a mother being found in Montfermeil sufficiently rich or sufficiently 654 Les Miserables . as the schoolmaster. nearly two feet high. produced ‘a magical effect. because the citizens would soon pass on their way to the midnight mass. as the reader will remember. In the first row. with gold wheat-ears on her head. the merchant had placed on a background of white napkins. and magnificent objects of tin. not a star was visible in the sky. which. who was dressed in a robe of pink crepe. an immense doll.CHAPTER IV ENTRANCE ON THE SCENE OF A DOLL The line of open-air booths starting at the church. and far forwards.’ In compensation. as far as the hostelry of the Thenardiers. which had real hair and enamel eyes. this marvel had been displayed to the wonderment of all passers-by under ten years of age.

The whole shop seemed a palace to her: the doll was not a doll. The merchant. The more she looked. it was a vision. towards the lady. Cosette measured the abyss which separated her from that doll. it is true.extravagant to give it to her child. riches. It was joy.com 655 . even the errand with which she was charged. the more dazzled she grew. or at least a princess. as she called it. on the sly. She said to herself that one must be a queen. At the moment when Cosette emerged. produced on her somewhat the effect of being the Eternal Father. and Cosette herself had ventured to cast a glance at it. She thought she was gazing at paradise. In this adoration she forgot everything. she could not refrain from lifting her eyes to that wonderful doll. The poor child paused in amazement. bucket in hand. Eponine and Azelma had passed hours in contemplating it. that beautiful smooth hair. melancholy and overcome as she was. you silly jade! you have not gone? Wait! I’ll give it to you! I want to know what you are doing there! Get Free eBooks at Planet eBook. She gazed at that beautiful pink dress. ‘How happy that doll must be!’ She could not take her eyes from that fantastic stall. splendor. which appeared in a sort of chimerical halo to that unhappy little being so profoundly engulfed in gloomy and chilly misery. to have a ‘thing’ like that. With the sad and innocent sagacity of childhood. There were other dolls behind the large one. who was pacing back and forth in front of his shop. and she thought. She had not yet beheld that doll close to. happiness. which seemed to her to be fairies and genii. All at once the Thenardier’s coarse voice recalled her to reality: ‘What.

you little monster!’ The Thenardier had cast a glance into the street. 656 Les Miserables .along. and had caught sight of Cosette in her ecstasy. and taking the longest strides of which she was capable. dragging her pail. Cosette fled.

muttering between her teeth: ‘Where can that child be going? Is it a werewolf child?’ Then the woman recognized Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and stood still. she did encounter a woman. it was to the spring in the forest in the direction of Chelles that Cosette was obliged to go for her water. The further she went. She plunged into it. So long as she was in Boulanger Lane and in the neighborhood of the church. She did not glance at the display of a single other merchant. The poor child found herself in the dark. However. the lighted stalls illuminated the road. This made a noise which afforded her company. as a certain emotion overcame her. she made as much motion as possible with the handle of the bucket as she walked along.CHAPTER V THE LITTLE ONE ALL ALONE As the Thenardier hostelry was in that part of the village which is near the church. There was no one in the streets. Only. the denser the darkness became.com 657 . who turned around on seeing her. but soon the last light from the last stall vanished.

‘Bah!’ said she. her pace slackened mechanically. When she had passed the corner of the last house. it was the open fields. Now it was the Thenardier who appeared to her. and it reassured her. Black and desert space was before her.—a gesture peculiar to children when terrified and undecided what to do. ‘I will tell him that there was no more water!’ And she resolutely reentered Montfermeil. Cosette paused. and wrath flashing in her eyes. with her hideous. it became impossible to proceed further than the last house. From time to time she caught the flicker of a candle through the crack of a shutter—this was light and life. Then she seized her bucket again. she proceeded with tolerable boldness. possibly. there were people there. where there was no longer any one. The child cast a melancholy 658 Les Miserables . and heard the beasts walking on the grass.’ said she. So long as she had the houses or even the walls only on both sides of her path. thrust her hand into her hair. ‘Well. It had been hard to advance further than the last stall. ‘it’s the Lark!’ In this manner Cosette traversed the labyrinth of tortuous and deserted streets which terminate in the village of Montfermeil on the side of Chelles. where there were beasts.Cosette. fear had lent her audacity. Hardly had she gone a hundred paces when she paused and began to scratch her head again. and began slowly to scratch her head. She gazed in despair at that darkness. But in proportion as she advanced. She took a good look. as it were. and she distinctly saw spectres moving in the trees. It was no longer Montfermeil. where there were spectres. hyena mouth. She set her bucket on the ground.

She went straight before her in desperation. but she did not halt in her advance. and paved with several large stones. surrounded with moss and with those tall. with a tranquil little noise.’s frills. A remnant of instinct guided her vaguely. all shadow. She emerged from the village. Cosette knew the way. She only paused in her course when her breath failed her. she did not get lost. She resumed her path to the spring. She no longer thought. A brook ran out of it. behind her all the phantoms of the night and of the forest. but Free eBooks at Planet eBook. and began to run. about two feet deep. The nocturnal quivering of the forest surrounded her completely. What was she to do? What was to become of her? Where was she to go? In front of her was the spectre of the Thenardier. no longer looking at or listening to anything. hollowed out by the water in a clayey soil. Strange to say. Cosette did not take time to breathe. she no longer saw. As she ran she felt like crying. she entered the forest at a run. for fear of seeing things in the branches and in the brushwood. In this manner she reached the spring. The immensity of night was facing this tiny creature.com 659 .glance before her and behind her. an atom. on the other. crimped grasses which are called Henry IV. It was only seven or eight minutes’ walk from the edge of the woods to the spring. It was before the Thenardier that she recoiled. It was a narrow. On the one hand. It was very dark. natural basin. But she did not turn her eyes either to right or to left. through having gone over it many times in daylight.

and which usually served to support her. magnified the star. Jupiter was setting in the depths. she did not notice that the pocket of her apron had emptied itself into the spring. bent down. The fifteen-sou piece fell into the water. She felt with her left hand in the dark for a young oak which leaned over the spring. she perceived that she was worn out with fatigue. The planet was. but because she could not do otherwise. and which terrified her. She would have liked to set out again at once. The child stared with bewildered eyes at this great star. and set it on the grass. clung to it. gloomily empurpled. with which she was unfamiliar. found one of its branches. and plunged the bucket in the water. and remained crouching there. 660 Les Miserables . but the effort required to fill the bucket had been such that she found it impossible to take a step. One would have called it a luminous wound. which were like masses of smoke. She dropped on the grass. She drew out the bucket nearly full. then she opened them again. Overhead the sky was covered with vast black clouds.she was in the habit of coming to this spring. She was forced to sit down. without knowing why. While thus bent over. She was in a state of such violent excitement that her strength was trebled. in fact. The tragic mask of shadow seemed to bend vaguely over the child. The agitated water in the bucket beside her was describing circles which resembled tin serpents. The mist. She shut her eyes. That done. Cosette neither saw nor heard it fall. very near the horizon and was traversing a dense layer of mist which imparted to it a horrible ruddy hue.

Shadows and trees— two formidable densities. tossed by the breeze. In an eclipse in the night. When the eye sees black. A chimerical reality appears in the indistinct depths. fresh gleams of summertide.com 661 . One inhales the effluvia of the great black void. There are fierce attitudes on the horizon. Slender and misshapen bushes whistled in the clearings. the lugubrious reflected in the funereal. The forest was dark. Great boughs uplifted themselves in frightful wise. obscure dishevelments. one knows not what vague and intangible thing. yet desirous of doing so. Man requires light. No one walks alone in the forest at night without trembling. like the dreams of sleeping flowers. there were none of the vague. One is afraid to glance behind him.A cold wind was blowing from the plain. Whoever buries himself in the opposite of day feels his heart contract. The darkness was bewildering. bendings of mysterious branches. Some bits of dry heather. in the sooty opacity. The tall grasses undulated like eels under the north wind. The inconceivable is outlined a few paces distant from you with a spectral clearness. things grown haggard. The nettles seemed to twist long arms furnished with claws in search of prey. One beholds floating. flew rapidly by. alarming Free eBooks at Planet eBook. there is anxiety even for the stoutest of hearts. On all sides there were lugubrious stretches. the sepulchral immensity of silence. either in space or in one’s own brain. and had the air of fleeing in terror before something which was coming after. not a leaf was moving. the heart sees trouble. livid pools. unknown but possible beings. taciturn profiles which vanish when one advances. The cavities of night. irritated tufts.

torsos of trees. she began to count aloud.— against all this one has no protection. which she had wet in drawing the water. she rose. long handfuls of quivering plants. to the lighted candles.—to flee at full speed through the forest. Then. it was something more terrible even than terror. Her glance fell upon 662 Les Miserables . Without understanding her sensations. Cosette was conscious that she was seized upon by that black enormity of nature. in order to escape from that singular state which she did not understand. she thought she felt that she should not be able to refrain from returning there at the same hour on the morrow. felt cold. by a sort of instinct. across the fields to the houses. and. One is conscious of something hideous. had returned: she had but one thought now. it was no longer terror alone which was gaining possession of her. and the beating of the wings of a tiny soul produces a sound of agony beneath their monstrous vault. four. two. There is no hardihood which does not shudder and which does not feel the vicinity of anguish. she shivered. when she had finished. and so on up to ten. her eye grew wild. There are no words to express the strangeness of that shiver which chilled her to the very bottom of her heart. but which terrified her. as though one’s soul were becoming amalgamated with the darkness. her terror. one. to the windows. This penetration of the shadows is indescribably sinister in the case of a child. this restored her to a true perception of the things about her. Forests are apocalypses. three. Her hands. she began again. a natural and unconquerable terror.

at night. In spite of diminishing the length of her stops. She walked bent forward. the cold water which splashed from the pail fell on her bare legs. like an old woman. and she went on very slowly. she was a child of eight: no one but God saw that sad thing at the moment. she was forced to set it on the ground once more.com 663 .the water which stood before her. but she dared not weep. And her mother. and each time that she did so. she could not make much headway in that manner. and of walking as long as Free eBooks at Planet eBook. so afraid was she of the Thenardier. she was forced to halt from time to time. This took place in the depths of a forest. She took breath for an instant. proceeding a little further this time. alas! For there are things that make the dead open their eyes in their graves. However. that she dared not flee without that bucket of water: she seized the handle with both hands. sobs contracted her throat. After some seconds of repose she set out again. she could hardly lift the pail. She panted with a sort of painful rattle. but again she was obliged to pause. In this manner she advanced a dozen paces. then lifted the handle of the bucket again. no doubt. in winter. even at a distance: it was her custom to imagine the Thenardier always present. and resumed her march. such was the fright which the Thenardier inspired in her. far from all human sight. but the bucket was full. the weight of the bucket strained and stiffened her thin arms. with drooping head. it was heavy. The iron handle completed the benumbing and freezing of her wet and tiny hands.

it was a man who had come up behind her. straight and erect. made a last halt. without uttering a word. and had not yet emerged from the forest. and lifted it vigorously. had seized the handle of the bucket which she was carrying. On arriving near an old chestnut-tree with which she was acquainted. in order that she might get well rested. ‘O my God! my God!’ At that moment she suddenly became conscious that her bucket no longer weighed anything at all: a hand. longer than the rest. was walking beside her through the darkness. but the poor little desperate creature could not refrain from crying. had just seized the handle. A large black form. This anguish was mingled with her terror at being alone in the woods at night. and whose approach she had not heard. which seemed to her enormous. then she summoned up all her strength. she reflected with anguish that it would take her more than an hour to return to Montfermeil in this manner.possible between them. 664 Les Miserables . The child was not afraid. There are instincts for all the encounters of life. picked up her bucket again. and courageously resumed her march. She raised her head. This man. she was worn out with fatigue. and that the Thenardier would beat her.

He wore a very old and very well brushed round hat. in fact. This man. hired a chamber in that isolated quarter. a color that Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a man had walked for rather a long time in the most deserted part of the Boulevard de l’Hopital in Paris. worn perfectly threadbare. We shall see further on that this man had. at the most modest houses on that dilapidated border of the faubourg Saint-Marceau. realized the type of what may be called the well-bred mendicant. of an ochre yellow. and for the man who is very worthy.CHAPTER VI WHICH POSSIBLY PROVES BOULATRUELLE’S INTELLIGENCE On the afternoon of that same Christmas Day. 1823. and he seemed to halt. in his attire.com 665 .—extreme wretchedness combined with extreme cleanliness. by preference. a coarse coat. This man had the air of a person who is seeking lodgings. as in all his person. This is a very rare mixture which inspires intelligent hearts with that double respect which one feels for the man who is very poor.

returned from the emigration. a large waistcoat with pockets of a venerable cut. and would have disposed in his favor any one who observed him attentively. The wrinkles on his brow were well placed. almost invariably. worn gray at the knee. made from red wax: it was a cudgel. At that epoch. cut from some hedge. from his perfectly white hair. the most had been made of its knots. and had an air that was not too threatening. went nearly every day to Choisy-le-Roi: it was one of his favorite excursions. The man seemed to avoid them rather than to seek them. black breeches. in his right he leaned on a sort of a cudgel. his wrinkled brow.was not in the least eccentric at that epoch. he would have hardly been thought fifty. In his left hand he carried a little bundle tied up in a handkerchief. His lip contracted with a strange fold which seemed severe. He would have been pronounced a preceptor in some good family. Judging from his firm tread. and it seemed to be a cane. particularly in the winter. but this without any affectation. and it had received a coral-like head. This stick had been carefully trimmed. and thick shoes with copper buckles. the royal carriage and cavalcade was seen to pass at full speed along the Boulevard 666 Les Miserables . and his countenance. his livid lips. where everything breathed depression and weariness of life. stockings of black worsted. and which was humble. from the singular vigor which stamped all his movements. There are but few passers-by on that boulevard. King Louis XVIII. There was in the depth of his glance an indescribable melancholy serenity. Towards two o’clock. He would have been taken for more than sixty years of age.

the silver plaque of the Saint-Esprit.com 667 . It was rapid but majestic. he stared coldly at the people. with great branches of lilies painted on the panels. all covered with gilding. ‘It is two o’clock.de l’Hopital. for a passing king always creates a tumult. he put on his hat and saluted rarely. hard. He passed. the smile of an educated man. produced a certain effect in the streets of Paris. the cross of the Legion of Honor. This served in lieu of a watch or clock to the poor women of the quarter who said. His massive couch. There was hardly time to cast a glance upon it. and ruddy face. besides. and a wide blue ribbon: it was the king.’ And some rushed forward. crafty eye. and they returned it in kind. thundered noisily along. and others drew up in line. This impotent king had a taste for a fast gallop. as he was not able to walk. in the midst of naked swords. he held his hat decked with white ostrich plumes on his knees enwrapped in high English gaiters. the whole success which he produced is contained in this remark of an inhabitant of the Free eBooks at Planet eBook. the appearance and disappearance of Louis XVIII. he wished to run: that cripple would gladly have had himself drawn by the lightning. a brow freshly powdered a l’oiseau royal. the Golden Fleece. the cross of Saint Louis. pacific and severe. firm. a proud. two great epaulets with bullion fringe floating over a bourgeois coat. When he appeared for the first time in the Saint-Marceau quarter. a huge belly. when he re-entered the city. In the rear angle on the right there was visible on tufted cushions of white satin a large. there he is returning to the Tuileries. Outside of Paris.

the agent lost trace of him. as is stated in a report addressed that same evening to M. opposite the king. and probably did not belong in Paris. he passed in front of the theatre of the Porte 668 Les Miserables .’ This infallible passage of the king at the same hour was. He said to his Majesty. M. therefore. and as twilight was beginning to fall. after having made the turn of the Salpetriere. he redoubled his pace. Prefect of Police. The promenader in the yellow coat evidently did not belong in the quarter. not without turning round many a time to assure himself that he was not being followed. the royal carriage. debouched on the boulevard. le Comte d’Angles. at two o’clock. ‘That big fellow yonder is the government. When the man in the yellow coat had thrown the agent off his track.’ Members of the police. le Duc de Havre from spying him out. ‘Yonder is an evil-looking man. took equal note of him: one of them received an order to follow him. was seated in the carriage. But the man plunged into the deserted little streets of the faubourg. When. At a quarter-past four. as captain of the guard on duty that day. for he was ignorant as to this detail. Minister of State. There was no one but himself in this cross-lane. He drew up hastily behind the corner of the wall of an enclosure. the daily event of the Boulevard de l’Hopital. that is to say. le Duc de Havre. though this did not prevent M. who were clearing the king’s route. surrounded by a squadron of the body-guard all covered with silver lace. he appeared surprised and almost alarmed. when night was fully come.faubourg to his comrade.

They started. The man inquired:— ‘Have you a place?’ ‘Only one—beside me on the box.’ said the coachman. and he entered the Plat d’Etain [the Pewter Platter]. The coachman took to whistling and swearing at his horses. at the diminutive size of his bundle. the coachman tried to enter into conversation. he halted to read it.’ ‘Climb up. ‘I will take it. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. When they had passed the barrier. although he was walking rapidly. for. It was cold. but the traveller only replied in monosyllables. Towards six o’clock in the evening they reached Chelles. ‘Are you going as far as Lagny?’ demanded the coachman. An instant later he was in the blind alley of La Planchette.Saint-Martin. The man did not appear to be thinking of that. the coachman cast a glance at the traveller’s shabby dress.com 669 . summoned by the coachman. where the office of the coach for Lagny was then situated. ‘Yes. The traveller paid to Lagny. and made him pay his fare. The horses were harnessed. This poster. before setting out.’ Nevertheless. Thus they passed Gournay and Neuilly-sur-Marne. and the travellers. This coach set out at half-past four. struck him. illuminated by the theatre lanterns.’ said the man. were hastily climbing the lofty iron ladder of the vehicle. where The Two Convicts was being played that day. The coachman wrapped himself up in his cloak.

The precaution was nearly superfluous. He did not enter the inn. but he does not consider money. He took his bundle and his cudgel and jumped down from the vehicle.’ said the man. When the coach set out for Lagny a few minutes later. then he had turned to the right before reaching the church. he heard people coming. He concealed himself precipitately in a ditch. and he is not to be found. for I do not know him. down the principal street of Chelles. He followed this road rapidly. ‘is a man who does not belong here. ‘There. like a person who was acquainted with the country and had been there before. and there waited until the passers-by were at a distance. into the cross-road leading to Montfermeil. An instant later he had disappeared. but he had gone with great strides through the dark.’ said he. ‘I get down here. to give his horses a breathing spell. he does not enter the inn. for. however. as we have already said. all the houses are shut. So he has dived through the earth. The coachman turned to the inside travellers. He had not the air of owning a sou. he pays to Lagny. At the spot where it is intersected by the ancient tree-bordered road which runs from Gagny to Lagny.The coachman drew up in front of the carters’ inn installed in the ancient buildings of the Royal Abbey. It is night. 670 Les Miserables .’ The man had not plunged into the earth. and he goes only as far as Chelles. it did not encounter him in the principal street of Chelles.

Opposite this tree. like a person who is trying to assure himself that the soil has not recently been disturbed. which was an ash. and he paused in indecision. He stepped up briskly to these stones. Not more than two or three stars were visible in the sky. as though seeking to recognize and count all the warts.com 671 . Then he trod about for awhile on the ground comprised in the space between the tree and the heap of stones. there was a chestnut-tree. and entered the forest with long strides. suffering from a peeling of the bark. It is at this point that the ascent of the hill begins. stood a few paces distant from the pile of stones. at a clearing where there was a great heap of whitish stones. A large tree. and began a careful examination of all the trees. That done. At last he arrived. The man did not return to the road to Montfermeil. step by step. he took his bearings. as though he were passing them in review.it was a very dark December night. he struck across the fields to the right. He raised himself on tiptoe and touched this band of zinc. by dint of feeling his way inch by inch. He went up to this tree and passed his hand over the bark of the trunk. covered with those excrescences which are the warts of vegetation. advancing. Once in the forest he slackened his pace. to which a band of zinc had been nailed by way of dressing. and examined them attentively through the mists of night. as though seeking and following a mysterious road known to himself alone. and resumed his march Free eBooks at Planet eBook. There came a moment when he appeared to lose himself.

and perceived that it was a very young child. he had espied that tiny shadow moving with a groan. and silently grasped the handle of the bucket. As he walked through the thicket in the direction of Montfermeil. depositing a burden on the ground. It was the man who had just met Cosette. Then he approached the child. He drew near.through the forest. 672 Les Miserables . then taking it up and setting out again. laden with an enormous bucket of water.

what you are carrying is very heavy for you. He spoke in a voice that was grave and almost bass. The man accosted her. as we have said.’ he muttered between his teeth. was not frightened. Then he added:— ‘How old are you. ‘I will carry it for you.com 673 .’ said the man. The man walked along beside her. sir.’ ‘Give it to me.’ Cosette raised her head and replied:— ‘Yes.’ ‘And have you come from far like this?’ ‘From the spring in the forest.CHAPTER VII COSETTE SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE STRANGER IN THE DARK Cosette. little one?’ ‘Eight. ‘My child. sir. ‘It really is very heavy.’ ‘Are you going far?’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ Cosette let go of the bucket-handle.

‘What is your name?’ said the man. he set the bucket on the ground. sir.‘A good quarter of an hour’s walk from here. Other people have mothers. if you know where that is. then he removed his hands from Cosette’s shoulders. He looked at her once more.’ answered the child. and set out again. Before the man had time to speak again.’ He paused.’ ‘I don’t know. making an effort to look at her and to see her face in the dark.’ And after a silence she went on:— ‘I think that I never had any. little one?’ ‘At Montfermeil.’ 674 Les Miserables .’ The man halted. ‘Cosette. seized the bucket.’ The man seemed to have received an electric shock. After a moment he inquired:— ‘Where do you live. I have none. bent down and placed both hands on the child’s shoulders.’ ‘That is where we are going?’ ‘Yes. then began again:— ‘Who sent you at such an hour to get water in the forest?’ ‘It was Madame Thenardier. Cosette’s thin and sickly face was vaguely outlined by the livid light in the sky.’ The man said nothing for a moment. she added:— ‘I don’t think so. then he remarked abruptly:— ‘So you have no mother.

sir. her daughters. She had never been taught to turn to Providence and to pray. and which mounted towards heaven. nevertheless.’ ‘We are on the way there. Show me the way.’ said the child. The man walked tolerably fast. From time to time she raised her eyes towards the man. Cosette followed him without difficulty. as you would say.’ This was the way the child simplified the romantic names so dear to the female Thenardier. in a voice which he strove to render indifferent. sir. ‘Well. but in which there was.com 675 . I am going to lodge there to-night. a singular tremor:— ‘What does your Madame Thenardier do?’ ‘She is my mistress. with a sort of tranquillity and an indescribable confidence.’ ‘What little girls?’ ‘Ponine and Zelma. Cosette lifted up her voice:— ‘That is to say.’ ‘Are you alone there?’ ‘Yes.’ said the child.The man resumed. there are two little girls. nevertheless. ‘She keeps the inn.’ Another pause ensued. Several minutes elapsed. The man resumed:— ‘Is there no servant in Madame Thenardier’s house?’ ‘No.’ ‘The inn?’ said the man. She no longer felt any fatigue. ‘Who are Ponine and Zelma?’ ‘They are Madame Thenardier’s young ladies. she felt within her something which resembled hope and joy.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

which was not visible because of the darkness. ‘they have beautiful dolls. sir.’ ‘And you?’ ‘I? I work. I have only a little lead sword. sir. ‘And it will not cut?’ ‘Yes. all full of affairs. I amuse myself.’ ‘How do you amuse yourself?’ ‘In the best way I can.’ ‘All day long?’ ‘Yes. but Cosette did not think of the bread which she had been ordered to fetch. sir.’ After an interval of silence she went on:— ‘Sometimes.’ said the child. too. they amuse themselves. and replied gently:— ‘Yes. ‘it cuts salad and the heads of flies. Cosette guided the stranger through the streets. They passed the bakeshop. Ponine and Zelma will not let me play with their dolls. and 676 Les Miserables .‘And what do those girls do?’ ‘Oh!’ said the child. but I have not many playthings.’ ‘All day long?’ The child raised her great eyes. They play. They let me alone. no longer than that. in which hung a tear. The man had ceased to ply her with questions.’ The child held up her tiny finger.’ They reached the village. things with gold in them. when I have finished my work and they let me.

’ As they approached the tavern. Cosette timidly touched his arm:— ‘Monsieur?’ ‘What. When they had left the church behind them. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ The man handed her the bucket. sir.’ ‘Well?’ ‘Will you let me take my bucket now?’ ‘Why?’ ‘If Madame sees that some one has carried it for me. asked Cosette:— ‘So there is a fair going on here?’ ‘No. on perceiving all the open-air booths.now preserved a gloomy silence. An instant later they were at the tavern door. she will beat me. the man. my child?’ ‘We are quite near the house.com 677 . it is Christmas.

‘here’s a gentleman who wants a lodging. a change of aspect common to tavernkeepers. trembling all over.CHAPTER VIII THE UNPLEASANTNESS OF RECEIVING INTO ONE’S HOUSE A POOR MAN WHO MAY BE A RICH MAN Cosette could not refrain from casting a sidelong glance at the big doll. and eagerly sought the new-comer with her eyes. Madame. 678 Les Miserables . ‘Ah! so it’s you. The door opened. which was still displayed at the toy-merchant’s. you little wretch! good mercy. then she knocked. ‘Yes. The Thenardier appeared with a candle in her hand.’ said Cosette. ‘This is the gentleman?’ said she. raising his hand to his hat.’ The Thenardier speedily replaced her gruff air by her amiable grimace. but you’ve taken your time! The hussy has been amusing herself!’ ‘Madame.’ replied the man.

and to his hat.Wealthy travellers are not so polite. paid particular attention to his frock-coat. backed up by an inflation of the lips. The husband replied by that imperceptible movement of the forefinger. I will pay as though I occupied a room. and.com 679 . I am very sorry. tossing her head.’ ‘Very well. which was a little battered.’ In the meantime. Thereupon. which was absolutely threadbare. This gesture. caused the amiable grimace to vanish. laying his bundle and his Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ ‘Forty sous. agreed. The Thenardier cast a second glance at him.’ said the man.’ ‘Put me where you like.’ The ‘good man’ entered. in the stable.’ ‘That’s true. and screwing up her eyes. ‘it ruins a house to have such people in it. ‘why. in the same tone. but I have no room left. signifies in such cases: A regular beggar. to the Thenardier woman. the man. then!’ ‘Forty sous!’ said a carter. she consulted her husband. the charge is only twenty sous!’ ‘It is forty in his case. She resumed dryly:— ‘Enter. the Thenardier exclaimed:— ‘Ah! see here. my good man. wrinkling her nose. ‘I don’t lodge poor folks for less. and the gruff mien to reappear. which the Thenardier passed in review with one glance. my good man. ‘in the attic. in a low tone.’ added her husband. who was still drinking with the carters. and an inspection of the stranger’s costume and baggage.’ retorted the Thenardier. which. gently.’ ‘Forty sous.

Her entire clothing was but a rag which would have inspired pity in summer. Cosette was thin and pale. Her large eyes. not a scrap of woollen. her attitude. If she had been happy. All she had on was hole-ridden linen. sunken in a sort of shadow.’ The fire which illuminated her at that moment brought into relief all the angles of her bones. The hollows in her neck were enough to make one weep. The merchant who had demanded the bucket of water took it to his horse himself. but she seemed to be hardly six. The man. which marked the places where the Thenardier woman had touched her. and her knitting. This child’s whole person. had seated himself at a table. she might have been pretty. Her naked legs were thin and red. 680 Les Miserables . who had barely moistened his lips in the wine which he had poured out for himself.cudgel on a bench. Her skin was visible here and there and everywhere black and blue spots could be descried. ‘ruined with chilblains. her mien. As she was always shivering. observed the child with peculiar attention. and which inspired horror in winter. Cosette was ugly. We have already given a sketch of that sombre little figure. The corners of her mouth had that curve of habitual anguish which is seen in condemned persons and desperately sick people. were almost put out with weeping. she was nearly eight years old. Cosette resumed her place under the kitchen table. she had acquired the habit of pressing her knees one against the other. and rendered her thinness frightfully apparent. Her hands were. as her mother had divined. on which Cosette made haste to place a bottle of wine and a glass.

wet as she was. her slightest gesture. Fear was diffused all over her. the intervals which she allowed to elapse between one word and the next. expressed and betrayed one sole idea. where’s that bread?’ Cosette. so to speak. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.com 681 . emerged with great haste from beneath the table. admitting of no possible variation except an increase. but sat silently down to her work again.—fear. Her fear was such. and at times so tragic. according to her custom whenever the Thenardier uplifted her voice. fear drew her elbows close to her hips.the sound of her voice. made her occupy as little space as possible. and had become what might be called the habit of her body. she had never known what it is to pray. Cosette did not dare to approach the fire and dry herself. allowed her only the breath that was absolutely necessary. The man in the yellow coat never took his eyes from Cosette. All at once. she was covered with it. her glance. that on her arrival. that it seemed at certain moments as though she were on the verge of becoming an idiot or a demon. her silence. withdrew her heels under her petticoat. the Thenardier exclaimed:— ‘By the way. In the depths of her eyes there was an astonished nook where terror lurked. The expression in the glance of that child of eight years was habitually so gloomy. As we have stated. ‘Have I the time?’ said the Thenardier. she had never set foot in a church.

’ ‘Well?’ ‘He did not open the door. ‘or do you want to rob me of it?’ At the same time.’ ‘You should have knocked. the baker’s shop was shut. 682 Les Miserables . give me back my fifteen-sou piece. She was petrified. Madame. ‘Ah. hoarsely. She had recourse to the expedient of children who live in a constant state of fear. I’ll lead you a pretty dance. In the meantime.’ Cosette plunged her hand into the pocket of her apron. ‘Have you lost that fifteen-sou piece?’ screamed the Thenardier. come now. The fifteen-sou piece was not there. ‘did you hear me?’ Cosette turned her pocket inside out. Madame. ‘Madame. Madame! I will not do so any more!’ The Thenardier took down the whip. This formidable gesture restored to Cosette sufficient strength to shriek:— ‘Mercy. ‘and if you are telling me a lie.’ ‘I did knock. She lied. there was nothing in it. and turned green.’ said the Thenardier. she stretched out her arm towards the cat-o’-nine-tails which hung on a nail in the chimney-corner.’ ‘I’ll find out to-morrow whether that is true.’ said Madame Thenardier.She had completely forgotten the bread. What could have become of that money? The unhappy little creature could not find a word to say.

‘but just now I caught sight of something which had fallen from this little one’s apron pocket. for it was a twenty-sou piece. Besides. ‘Don’t let this ever happen again!’ Cosette returned to what the Thenardier called ‘her kennel.’ said the man. would you like some supper?’ the Thenardier Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ At the same time he bent down and seemed to be searching on the floor for a moment. and confined herself to casting a fierce glance at the child. ‘Yes. The Thenardier raised her arm. here it is. And he held out a silver coin to the Thenardier. Thus far it was only an innocent amazement.’ said she. the man in the yellow coat had been fumbling in the fob of his waistcoat. Perhaps this is it. ‘By the way. with anguish. endeavoring to gather up and conceal her poor half-nude limbs.In the meantime. Madame.com 683 . and rolled aside. accompanied with the remark. ‘Pardon me. but the Thenardier found it to her advantage.’ he went on. straightening himself up. within the angle of the chimney. that’s it.’ and her large eyes. ‘Exactly. She put the coin in her pocket. but a sort of stupefied confidence was mingled with it. the other travellers were drinking or playing cards. It was not it. which were riveted on the traveller. without any one having noticed his movements. began to take on an expression such as they had never worn before. and were not paying attention to anything. Cosette contracted herself into a ball.

Light emanated from these two little beings. the one with shining chestnut tresses. in their gayety. In their toilettes. Will he even pay me for his lodging? It’s very lucky. though the springtime was not wholly effaced. they were on the throne. and then releasing them with that gentle manner of shaking off which is peculiar to mothers. neat. He made no reply. He appeared to be absorbed in thought. the other with long black braids hanging down her back. plump. and a delight to the eye. ‘What frights they are!’ 684 Les Miserables . He hasn’t a sou to pay for a supper. one after the other to her knees. in the noise which they made. Besides this. a door had opened. there was sovereignty. and very charming. that it did not occur to him to steal the money that was on the floor. rosy. ‘He’s some frightfully poor wretch. you children!’ Then drawing them. They were two really pretty little girls. and healthy. ‘Ah! there you are.inquired of the traveller. all the same. and Eponine and Azelma entered.’ In the meantime. There was a hint of winter. ‘What sort of a man is that?’ she muttered between her teeth. the Thenardier said to them in a grumbling tone which was full of adoration. smoothing their hair. but with so much maternal art that the thickness of the stuffs did not detract from the coquetry of arrangement. When they entered. more bourgeois than peasant in looks. tying their ribbons afresh. she exclaimed. They were warmly clad. both vivacious.

that I will. to make use of the expression which all children will understand. All at once. which they turned over and over on their knees with all sorts of joyous chatter. but they already represented the whole society of man. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. ‘Ah! I’ve caught you at it!’ she cried. She was the same as a dog to them.’ The stranger turned to the Thenardier. perceived that Cosette’s mind was distracted. instead of working. Eponine and Azelma did not look at Cosette. without quitting his chair. a real doll. From time to time Cosette raised her eyes from her knitting.They went and seated themselves in the chimney-corner. and that. They had a doll. ‘So that’s the way you work! I’ll make you work to the tune of the whip. and much broken. with an almost timid air. she was paying attention to the little ones at their play. envy on the one side. but it seemed none the less admirable to Cosette. and who had not the air of being frightfully poor. These three little girls did not yet reckon up four and twenty years between them. Madame.com 685 . The doll of the Thenardier sisters was very much faded. disdain on the other. and watched their play with a melancholy air. who had been going back and forth in the room. very old. ‘Bah. who had never had a doll in her life. ‘let her play!’ Such a wish expressed by a traveller who had eaten a slice of mutton and had drunk a couple of bottles of wine with his supper. the Thenardier.’ he said.

‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed a carter who was listening. who have none. and that a man with such a coat should permit himself to have a will. She retorted with acrimony:— ‘She must work. I should think so! five balls!’ Thenardier thought it time to strike in. so to speak. sir. if such is your fancy.’ ‘What is she making?’ went on the stranger. since she eats. with a loud laugh. The Thenardier deigned to reply:— ‘Stockings.’ The man looked at Cosette’s poor little red feet. in a gentle voice which contrasted strangely with his beggarly garments and his porter’s shoulders. Stockings for my little girls. But that a man with such a hat should permit himself such a desire. you will be allowed to have 686 Les Miserables . I don’t feed her to do nothing. and who are absolutely barefoot just now. ‘five francs! the deuce. the lazy creature!’ ‘And how much will that pair of stockings be worth when she has finished them?’ The Thenardier cast a glance of disdain on him. and continued:— ‘When will she have finished this pair of stockings?’ ‘She has at least three or four good days’ work on them still.would have been equivalent to an order.’ ‘Will you sell them for five francs?’ went on the man. ‘Yes. was something which Madame Thenardier did not intend to tolerate. if you please. ‘Thirty sous at least.

‘and.’ replied Thenardier.’ Then he turned to Cosette. in her curt and peremptory fashion.’ he added. her whole little soul thanked the traveller. And while her mouth thanked the Thenardier. play. She bit her lips. his wife whispered in his ear:— ‘Who can this yellow man be?’ ‘I have seen millionaires with coats like that. in a sovereign manner.’ said the Thenardier. Madame? May I play?’ ‘Play!’ said the Thenardier. In the meantime. ‘A real hind wheel! and not counterfeit!’ Thenardier approached and silently put the coin in his pocket. ‘I will pay for them. We can refuse nothing to travellers. She ventured to ask:— ‘Is it true.that pair of stockings for five francs. my child. in a terrible voice.com 687 . ‘But it’s true!’ he cried.’ replied the man. Madame. that he abandoned his glass and hastened up. drawing a five-franc piece from his pocket.’ ‘You must pay on the spot. ‘I will buy that pair of stockings. and her face assumed an expression of hatred. ‘Thanks. Cosette was trembling. ‘Now I own your work. and laying it on the table. Free eBooks at Planet eBook.’ The carter was so much touched by the five-franc piece. examining it.’ said Cosette. Thenardier had resumed his drinking. The Thenardier had no reply to make.

Cosette always moved as little as possible. and Eponine. I will come to see you. She picked up some old rags and her little lead sword from a box behind her. I will be a lady. They had thrown their doll on the ground. who was the elder. she cries.’’ Azelma listened admiringly to Eponine. the drinkers had begun to sing an obscene song. ‘Ah! Mon Dieu!’ and I will say to you: ‘Yes. and then you will see her tail and it will amaze you. in spite of its mewing and its contortions. so children make a doll out of anything which comes to hand. they had just got hold of the cat. was swathing the little cat. Madame. vanishes when one essays to fix it fast. Little girls are made like that just at present. sister. They had just executed a very important operation. In the meantime. And then you will see her ears. this doll is more amusing than the other. While Eponine 688 Les Miserables . and you shall look at her. Eponine and Azelma paid no attention to what was going on. ‘You see. sister.Cosette had dropped her knitting. While performing this serious and difficult work she was saying to her sister in that sweet and adorable language of children. See. She twists. let us play with her. As birds make nests out of everything. like the splendor of the butterfly’s wing. in a quantity of clothes and red and blue scraps. it is my little girl. Gradually. and to laugh at it until the ceiling shook. and that will surprise you. she is warm. Thenardier accompanied and encouraged them. you will perceive her whiskers. She shall be my little girl. but had not left her seat. whose grace. And you will say to me.

to lull to sleep. the big girl into a woman. To care for. she laid it in her arms. sir. Cosette. and quite as impossible. up to that time. as a woman without children. to rock. The first child is the continuation of the last doll. to redress. scold a little. the Thenardier had addressed him only as brave homme or bonhomme.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.and Azelma were bundling up the cat.com 689 . to imagine that something is some one. the child grows into a young girl. You see. ‘I am willing that the child should play.’ said she. The doll is one of the most imperious needs and. assuming a sweetish air that was even more repulsive to behold than her fierce mien.’ she pursued. had dressed up her sword. the man turned. ‘You see. ‘Monsieur. to teach. Madame Thenardier approached the yellow man. At this word.’ she thought. So Cosette had made herself a doll out of the sword. Laffitte. I do not oppose it. there are such queer rich men!’ She came and set her elbows on the table. ‘My husband is right. the young girl into a big girl. on her side. at the same time. to lull it to sleep. to deck.— therein lies the whole woman’s future. That done. Monsieur. one of the most charming instincts of feminine childhood. and baby clothes. to dress. ‘perhaps it is M. to clothe. but it is good for once. to undress. making tiny outfits. While dreaming and chattering. to dandle. she must needs work. and corsages and bodices. and sang to it softly. A little girl without a doll is almost as unhappy. because you are generous. while sewing little gowns. she has nothing.

were repeating their unclean refrain with redoubled gayety. ‘What does Monsieur wish?’ ‘Bread and cheese.’ said the man. We do what we can for her. she has a large head. ‘Her mother didn’t amount to much. She must have water on the brain. She had begun to rock the sort of baby which she had made.’ ‘Ah!’ said the man. as she rocked it.’ added the Thenardier. ‘she abandoned her child. the drinkers. as though warned by some instinct that she was under discussion. had not taken her eyes from the Thenardier’s face. ‘Decidedly. The Thenardier went off to take part in the shouts of laughter. sir! she is a little beggar whom we have taken in through charity. and. she caught a few words here and there. a sort of imbecile child.‘Then this child is not yours?’ demanded the man.’ consented at last to take supper. which was reflected from her fixed eyes. ‘Oh! mon Dieu! no. ‘My mother is dead! my mother is dead! my mother is dead!’ On being urged afresh by the hostess.’ During the whole of this conversation Cosette. and have received no reply these six months. all three-quarters intoxicated. the yellow man. it was a highly spiced and wanton song. 690 Les Miserables . she listened vaguely. gazed at the fire. Meanwhile. in which the Virgin and the infant Jesus were introduced. he is a beggar’ thought Madame Thenardier. ‘the millionaire. Cosette. and fell into his revery once more. from her post under the table. we have written in vain to her native place. It must be that her mother is dead. as you see. she sang in a low voice. for we are not rich.

made sure once more that no one was watching her. ‘Look! sister. the travellers were eating or drinking or singing. Ponine and Zelma were playing with the cat. This joy lasted about a quarter of an hour. She had not a moment to lose. which only half met her needs. not a glance was fixed on her. That pink and shining foot.The drunken men were still singing their song. Madame Thenardier was whispering to her husband and counting over some money. The happiness of playing with a doll was so rare for her that it contained all the violence of voluptuousness. who was slowly devouring his meagre supper. and cast her eyes slowly round the room. which they had abandoned for the cat and had left on the floor a few paces from the kitchen table. seated motionless. All at once. except the traveller. who said to Eponine. An instant later she was in her place again. projecting from the shadow. suddenly struck the eye of Azelma. Then she dropped the swaddled sword. then she slipped quickly up to the doll and seized it. and only turned so as to cast a shadow on the doll which she held in her arms. and the child under the table was singing hers.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook. But with all the precautions that Cosette had taken she did not perceive that one of the doll’s legs stuck out and that the fire on the hearth lighted it up very vividly. Cosette paused. she had just turned round and caught sight of the little Thenardiers’ doll.com 691 . No one had seen her. she crept out from under the table on her hands and knees.

no longer saw or heard anything. Cosette took the doll and laid it gently on the floor with a sort of veneration. and. On this occasion. wounded pride exasperated her wrath still further. ‘Let me alone!’ said her mother. then. Cosette had laid violent hands on the doll belonging to ‘these young ladies. mingled with despair. ‘Cosette!’ repeated the Thenardier. and which has caused this style of woman to be named megaeras. and. ‘what do you want?’ ‘Mother. ‘look there!’ And she pointed to Cosette. and began to tug at her skirt. she turned round. then—not one of the emotions of the day. neither the trip 692 Les Miserables . she clasped her hands.The two little girls paused in stupefaction. without releasing the cat.’ said the child. Cosette. she ran to her mother.’ A czarina who should see a muzhik trying on her imperial son’s blue ribbon would wear no other face. Madame Thenardier’s countenance assumed that peculiar expression which is composed of the terrible mingled with the trifles of life. what is terrible to relate of a child of that age. Cosette had dared to take their doll! Eponine rose. without taking her eyes from it. Cosette had overstepped all bounds. She shrieked in a voice rendered hoarse with indignation:— ‘Cosette!’ Cosette started as though the earth had trembled beneath her. she wrung them. absorbed in the ecstasies of possession.

‘with her frightful hands!’ Here Cosette redoubled her sobs. Meanwhile. ‘Don’t you see?’ said the Thenardier. he carried in both hands the fabulous doll which we have mentioned. opened it.com 693 . ‘What is the matter?’ he said to the Thenardier. this is for you. pointing to the corpus delicti which lay at Cosette’s feet. nor the weight of the bucket of water. the Thenardier profited by his absence to give Cosette a hearty kick under the table. The man went straight to the street door. what if she did play with that doll?’ ‘She touched it with her dirty hands!’ pursued the Thenardier. the man re-appeared. what of it?’ resumed the man. the traveller had risen to his feet. and he set it upright in front of Cosette. nor even the sad words which she had heard Madame Thenardier utter had been able to wring this from her— she wept. she burst out sobbing. saying:— ‘Here.’ replied the Thenardier. The door opened again. which made the child utter loud cries. ‘has permitted herself to touch the children’s doll!’ ‘All this noise for that!’ said the man. nor the sight of the whip. and stepped out. and which all the village brats had been staring at ever since the morning. ‘That beggar. As soon as he had gone. ‘well. ‘Will you stop your noise?’ screamed the Thenardier. ‘Well. nor the loss of the money.to the forest.’ Free eBooks at Planet eBook.

and Azelma were like statues also. Cosette raised her eyes. she gazed at the man approaching her with that doll as she might have gazed at the sun. Eponine. recommenced her conjectures: ‘Who is that old fellow? Is he a poor man? Is he a millionaire? Perhaps he is both. he seemed to be scenting out the man. lighted up by fire-pots and candles so splendidly that it was visible like an illumination through the window of the drinking-shop. a solemn silence reigned through the whole room. He stepped up to his wife and said to her in a low voice:— ‘That machine costs at least thirty francs. as he would have scented out a bag of money. Down on your belly before that man!’ 694 Les Miserables .’ The face of the male Thenardier presented that expressive fold which accentuates the human countenance whenever the dominant instinct appears there in all its bestial force. This did not last longer than the space of a flash of lightning. she stared at the doll.It must be supposed that in the course of the hour and more which he had spent there he had taken confused notice through his revery of that toy shop. she no longer wept. she had the appearance of no longer daring to breathe. she heard the unprecedented words. that is to say. she stared at him. The tavern-keeper stared alternately at the doll and at the traveller. No nonsense. Madame Thenardier. petrified and mute. then she slowly retreated. She no longer cried. The Thenardier. under the table in a corner of the wall. and hid herself at the extreme end. ‘It is for you”. the very drinkers had paused. a thief.

‘Well. with a caressing air. ‘Take it. sir?’ said Cosette. my little Cosette. What she felt at that moment was a little like what she would have felt if she had been abruptly told. that they possess no transition state. like the sky at daybreak.Gross natures have this in common with naive natures. you are the Queen of France. but her eyes began to fill. This was true.com 695 . He appeared to have reached that point of emotion where a man Free eBooks at Planet eBook. with strange beams of joy. it is yours. Her face was still flooded with tears. The gentleman has given it to you. ‘Pardi!’ cried the Thenardier. ‘Is it true? Is the ‘lady’ mine?’ The stranger’s eyes seemed to be full of tears. in a voice that strove to be sweet. Madame?’ No words can render that air. ‘The gentleman has given you a doll. and which was composed of the bitter honey of malicious women. at once despairing. and ecstatic.’ It seemed to her that if she touched that doll. Cosette. terrified. ‘it is yours. for she said to herself that the Thenardier would scold and beat her. She ended by drawing near and murmuring timidly as she turned towards Madame Thenardier:— ‘May I.’ said Thenardier.’ Cosette gazed at the marvellous doll in a sort of terror. up to a certain point. the attraction carried the day. Nevertheless. lightning would dart from it.’ said the Thenardier. ‘Little one. ‘aren’t you going to take your doll?’ Cosette ventured to emerge from her hole.’ ‘Truly.

We are forced to add that at that moment she stuck out her tongue immoderately.’ she said. and began to stare at the floor. who had the air of a visit which Providence was making on Cosette. Cosette. ‘Play. then she asked the man’s permission to send Cosette off also. However. 696 Les Miserables . in an attitude of contemplation. It was an odd moment when Cosette’s rags met and clasped the ribbons and fresh pink muslins of the doll. ‘Madame. ‘I shall call her Catherine. ‘may I put her on a chair?’ ‘Yes. This stranger. It was now the turn of Eponine and Azelma to gaze at Cosette with envy.’ she resumed. Cosette placed Catherine on a chair.’ returned the child. this unknown individual. Cosette hastily withdrew her hand.’ replied the Thenardier. without uttering a word. as though that of the ‘lady’ scorched her. ‘Oh! I am playing. and placed the ‘lady’s’ hand in her tiny hand. my child. then seated herself on the floor in front of her. these emotions were more than she could endure. it was necessary to control herself. Cosette went off to bed.does not speak for fear lest he should weep. All at once she wheeled round and seized the doll in a transport. She made haste to send her daughters to bed. and remained motionless.’ she added with a maternal air. Habituated as she was to dissimulation through endeavoring to copy her husband in all his actions.’ said the stranger. ‘for she has worked hard all day. was the person whom the Thenardier hated worse than any one in the world at that moment. He nodded to Cosette.

it does not concern you. This poorly dressed man. He’s all right. as though to the Duchess de Berry! Is there any sense in it? Is he mad. and who lavished gigantic dolls on dirty little brats in wooden shoes. From time to time the Thenardier went to the other end of the room where her husband was.carrying Catherine in her arms. ‘Old beast! What has he got in his belly. What are you worrying for.com 697 . If the old fellow is a philanthropist. and resumed his thoughtful attitude. She exchanged with her husband words which were all the more furious because she dared not utter them aloud. A traveller can do what he pleases when he pays for it. with a sort of respectful awe. The man had placed his elbows on the table. They were staring at him from a distance. then. and the reasoning of an innkeeper.’ replied Thenardier. to come and upset us in this manner! To want that little monster to play! to give away forty-franc dolls to a jade that I would sell for forty sous. as she said. so long as he has money?’ The language of a master. neither of which admitted of any reply. so I would! A little more and he will be saying Your Majesty to her. ‘if that amuses him! It amuses you to have the little one work. had withdrawn a little. it amuses him to have her play. who drew ‘hind-wheels’ from his pocket with so much ease. what is that to you? If he is an imbecile. to relieve her soul. Free eBooks at Planet eBook. both pedlers and carters. All the other travellers. that mysterious old fellow?’ ‘Why! it is perfectly simple. and had ceased singing.

the drinking-shop was closed. The man was not asleep. The stranger did not stir. the stranger still remained in the same place and the same attitude. she declared herself vanquished. The Thenardiers alone. the chimes had ceased. The midnight mass was over. the public room was deserted. lighted a candle. A good hour passed thus. and one to be feared. had remained in the room. That was all. To repose smacked of luxury and respect. At last Thenardier took off his cap. blew his nose. but he had not said a word since Cosette had left the room. from the date of the number to the printer’s name. stepped gently up to him. but nothing could arouse him. 698 Les Miserables . coughed. out of politeness and curiosity.’ Her husband seated himself at a table in the corner. and creaked his chair. From time to time he changed the elbow on which he leaned. Thenardier fidgeted. the fire extinct. The worthy inn-keeper had perused the Courrier Francais at least three times. spit. ‘Is he going to pass the night in that fashion?’ grumbled the Thenardier. and said to her husband. ‘I’m going to bed. When two o’clock in the morning struck. and ventured to say:— ‘Is not Monsieur going to his repose?’ Not going to bed would have seemed to him excessive and familiar. and began to read the Courrier Francais. ‘Is he asleep?’ thought Thenardier. Many hours passed. Not a movement on the man’s part. the drinkers had taken their departure. Do as you like.was certainly a magnificent fellow.

com 699 . ‘What is this?’ said the traveller. ‘is my wife’s wedding bonnet. ‘And what is this?’ resumed the stranger. ‘you are right. ‘That.’ He took the candle. A chamber where one sleeps costs twenty sous.’ The traveller surveyed the object with a glance which Free eBooks at Planet eBook. a chamber in which one reposes costs twenty francs.’ said the man. all furnished in mahogany. ‘I will conduct you. and Thenardier conducted him to a chamber on the first floor. A very good fire was flickering on the hearth. curtained with red calico. ‘Well!’ said the stranger.These words possess the mysterious and admirable property of swelling the bill on the following day. with a low bedstead. He lighted two perfectly fresh wax candles which figured on the chimney-piece. Thenardier pretended not to hear this unamiable remark. stood a woman’s head-dress in silver wire and orange flowers. ‘It is really our bridal chamber. which was of rare splendor. the man picked up his bundle and cudgel. ‘My wife and I occupy another. On the chimney-piece. with a smile. Where is your stable?’ ‘Sir!’ exclaimed Thenardier.’ said Thenardier.’ said the tavern-keeper. sir. sir. abruptly. under a glass globe.’ ‘I should have liked the stable quite as well. This is only entered three or four times a year.

I’m going to turn Cosette out of doors tomorrow. and a few moments later their candle was extinguished. opened the door. as he did not wish to treat with disrespectful cordiality a man whom he proposed to fleece royally the following morning. however.’ Thenardier replied coldly:— ‘How you do go on!’ They exchanged no further words.’ and would result in what the English call respectability for his house. gazing about him like a person who is in search of 700 Les Miserables . The landlord once gone. without venturing to wish him a good night. the host had disappeared. and quitted the room. The inn-keeper retired to his room. When she heard her husband’s step she turned over and said to him:— ‘Do you know. took one of the two candles. he had deposited his cudgel and his bundle in a corner. ‘There really was a time. he had found this chamber decorated in just this manner. Thenardier had withdrawn discreetly. he threw himself into an arm-chair and remained for some time buried in thought. His wife was in bed. As for the traveller.seemed to say. When he had leased this paltry building for the purpose of converting it into a tavern. Then he removed his shoes. blew out the other. and had purchased the furniture and obtained the orange flowers at second hand. When the traveller turned round. then. but she was not asleep. when that monster was a maiden?’ Thenardier lied. with the idea that this would cast a graceful shadow on ‘his spouse.

The man approached and gazed down upon her. There he heard a very faint and gentle sound like the breathing of a child. He traversed a corridor and came upon a staircase. A door which stood open near Cosette’s pallet permitted a view of a rather large. in order that she might not be so cold. They belonged to Eponine and Azelma. There. Cosette was in a profound sleep. wide open. In this bed Cosette was sleeping. No sheets. At the further extremity. In the winter she did not undress. through a glass door. whose large eyes. stood an uncurtained wicker cradle. He followed this sound. or rather formed by the staircase itself. dark room. Behind these beds. glittered in the dark. This was placed on the floor.something. in the midst of all sorts of old papers and potsherds. and a coverlet so tattered as to show the pallet. he saw two small. From time to time she gave vent to a deep sigh as though she were on the point of waking. The stranger stepped into it. and half hidden. and she strained the doll almost convulsively in her arms. This recess was nothing else than the space under the steps. she was fully dressed. Beside her bed there was only one of her wooden shoes. Against her breast was pressed the doll. was a bed—if one can call by the name of bed a straw pallet so full of holes as to display the straw. and came to a sort of triangular recess built under the staircase. very white beds.com 701 . Free eBooks at Planet eBook. among dust and spiders’ webs. in which the little boy who had cried all the evening lay asleep.

Hope in a child who has never known anything but despair is a sweet and touching thing. It was Cosette’s sabot. The man straightened himself up. their mother. and in each he saw a brand-new and shining tensou piece. The traveller recalled the graceful and immemorial custom in accordance with which children place their shoes in the chimney on Christmas eve. There was no fire in this one. The traveller bent over them. Cosette. half dilapidated and all covered with ashes and dried mud. and was on the point of withdrawing. and each of them had set one of her shoes on the hearth. It was two tiny children’s shoes. He was on the point of retreating when his eye fell upon the fireplace—one of those vast tavern chimneys where there is always so little fire when there is any fire at all. had already paid her visit. He looked at it. he caught sight of another object. 702 Les Miserables . which can always be deceived yet never discouraged. The fairy. had placed her shoe on the hearth-stone also. and which are so cold to look at. with that touching trust of childhood. coquettish in shape and unequal in size. and recognized a wooden shoe. that is to say. but there was something which attracted the stranger’s gaze. there to await in the darkness some sparkling gift from their good fairy. nevertheless. there was not even ashes. Eponine and Azelma had taken care not to omit this. when far in. a frightful shoe of the coarsest description. in the darkest corner of the hearth.The stranger conjectured that this chamber connected with that of the Thenardier pair.

There was nothing in this wooden shoe. The stranger fumbled in his waistcoat, bent over and placed a louis d’or in Cosette’s shoe. Then he regained his own chamber with the stealthy tread of a wolf.

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On the following morning, two hours at least before daybreak, Thenardier, seated beside a candle in the public room of the tavern, pen in hand, was making out the bill for the traveller with the yellow coat. His wife, standing beside him, and half bent over him, was following him with her eyes. They exchanged not a word. On the one hand, there was profound meditation, on the other, the religious admiration with which one watches the birth and development of a marvel of the human mind. A noise was audible in the house; it was the Lark sweeping the stairs. After the lapse of a good quarter of an hour, and some erasures, Thenardier produced the following masterpiece:— BILL OF THE GENTLEMAN IN No. 1. Supper Chamber





francs. ‘

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Candle … … … … 5 ‘ Fire … … … …. 4 ‘ Service … … …. . 1 ‘ TOTAL … … … … 23 francs. Service was written servisse. ‘Twenty-three francs!’ cried the woman, with an enthusiasm which was mingled with some hesitation. Like all great artists, Thenardier was dissatisfied. ‘Peuh!’ he exclaimed. It was the accent of Castlereagh auditing France’s bill at the Congress of Vienna. ‘Monsieur Thenardier, you are right; he certainly owes that,’ murmured the wife, who was thinking of the doll bestowed on Cosette in the presence of her daughters. ‘It is just, but it is too much. He will not pay it.’ Thenardier laughed coldly, as usual, and said:— ‘He will pay.’ This laugh was the supreme assertion of certainty and authority. That which was asserted in this manner must needs be so. His wife did not insist. She set about arranging the table; her husband paced the room. A moment later he added:— ‘I owe full fifteen hundred francs!’ He went and seated himself in the chimney-corner, meditating, with his feet among the warm ashes. ‘Ah! by the way,’ resumed his wife, ‘you don’t forget that I’m going to turn Cosette out of doors to-day? The monster! She breaks my heart with that doll of hers! I’d rather marry Louis XVIII. than keep her another day in the house!’
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Thenardier lighted his pipe, and replied between two puffs:— ‘You will hand that bill to the man.’ Then he went out. Hardly had he left the room when the traveller entered. Thenardier instantly reappeared behind him and remained motionless in the half-open door, visible only to his wife. The yellow man carried his bundle and his cudgel in his hand. ‘Up so early?’ said Madame Thenardier; ‘is Monsieur leaving us already?’ As she spoke thus, she was twisting the bill about in her hands with an embarrassed air, and making creases in it with her nails. Her hard face presented a shade which was not habitual with it,— timidity and scruples. To present such a bill to a man who had so completely the air ‘of a poor wretch’ seemed difficult to her. The traveller appeared to be preoccupied and absent-minded. He replied:— ‘Yes, Madame, I am going.’ ‘So Monsieur has no business in Montfermeil?’ ‘No, I was passing through. That is all. What do I owe you, Madame,’ he added. The Thenardier silently handed him the folded bill. The man unfolded the paper and glanced at it; but his thoughts were evidently elsewhere. ‘Madame,’ he resumed, ‘is business good here in Montfermeil?’
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‘So so, Monsieur,’ replied the Thenardier, stupefied at not witnessing another sort of explosion. She continued, in a dreary and lamentable tone:— ‘Oh! Monsieur, times are so hard! and then, we have so few bourgeois in the neighborhood! All the people are poor, you see. If we had not, now and then, some rich and generous travellers like Monsieur, we should not get along at all. We have so many expenses. Just see, that child is costing us our very eyes.’ ‘What child?’ ‘Why, the little one, you know! Cosette—the Lark, as she is called hereabouts!’ ‘Ah!’ said the man. She went on:— ‘How stupid these peasants are with their nicknames! She has more the air of a bat than of a lark. You see, sir, we do not ask charity, and we cannot bestow it. We earn nothing and we have to pay out a great deal. The license, the imposts, the door and window tax, the hundredths! Monsieur is aware that the government demands a terrible deal of money. And then, I have my daughters. I have no need to bring up other people’s children.’ The man resumed, in that voice which he strove to render indifferent, and in which there lingered a tremor:— ‘What if one were to rid you of her?’ ‘Who? Cosette?’ ‘Yes.’ The landlady’s red and violent face brightened up hideously.
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‘Ah! sir, my dear sir, take her, keep her, lead her off, carry her away, sugar her, stuff her with truffles, drink her, eat her, and the blessings of the good holy Virgin and of all the saints of paradise be upon you!’ ‘Agreed.’ ‘Really! You will take her away?’ ‘I will take her away.’ ‘Immediately?’ ‘Immediately. Call the child.’ ‘Cosette!’ screamed the Thenardier. ‘In the meantime,’ pursued the man, ‘I will pay you what I owe you. How much is it?’ He cast a glance on the bill, and could not restrain a start of surprise:— ‘Twenty-three francs!’ He looked at the landlady, and repeated:— ‘Twenty-three francs?’ There was in the enunciation of these words, thus repeated, an accent between an exclamation and an interrogation point. The Thenardier had had time to prepare herself for the shock. She replied, with assurance:— ‘Good gracious, yes, sir, it is twenty-three francs.’ The stranger laid five five-franc pieces on the table. ‘Go and get the child,’ said he. At that moment Thenardier advanced to the middle of the room, and said:— ‘Monsieur owes twenty-six sous.’ ‘Twenty-six sous!’ exclaimed his wife.
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‘Twenty sous for the chamber,’ resumed Thenardier, coldly, ‘and six sous for his supper. As for the child, I must discuss that matter a little with the gentleman. Leave us, wife.’ Madame Thenardier was dazzled as with the shock caused by unexpected lightning flashes of talent. She was conscious that a great actor was making his entrance on the stage, uttered not a word in reply, and left the room. As soon as they were alone, Thenardier offered the traveller a chair. The traveller seated himself; Thenardier remained standing, and his face assumed a singular expression of good-fellowship and simplicity. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘what I have to say to you is this, that I adore that child.’ The stranger gazed intently at him. ‘What child?’ Thenardier continued:— ‘How strange it is, one grows attached. What money is that? Take back your hundred-sou piece. I adore the child.’ ‘Whom do you mean?’ demanded the stranger. ‘Eh! our little Cosette! Are you not intending to take her away from us? Well, I speak frankly; as true as you are an honest man, I will not consent to it. I shall miss that child. I saw her first when she was a tiny thing. It is true that she costs us money; it is true that she has her faults; it is true that we are not rich; it is true that I have paid out over four hundred francs for drugs for just one of her illnesses! But one must do something for the good God’s sake. She has neither father nor mother. I have brought her up. I have bread
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enough for her and for myself. In truth, I think a great deal of that child. You understand, one conceives an affection for a person; I am a good sort of a beast, I am; I do not reason; I love that little girl; my wife is quick-tempered, but she loves her also. You see, she is just the same as our own child. I want to keep her to babble about the house.’ The stranger kept his eye intently fixed on Thenardier. The latter continued:— ‘Excuse me, sir, but one does not give away one’s child to a passer-by, like that. I am right, am I not? Still, I don’t say— you are rich; you have the air of a very good man,—if it were for her happiness. But one must find out that. You understand: suppose that I were to let her go and to sacrifice myself, I should like to know what becomes of her; I should not wish to lose sight of her; I should like to know with whom she is living, so that I could go to see her from time to time; so that she may know that her good fosterfather is alive, that he is watching over her. In short, there are things which are not possible. I do not even know your name. If you were to take her away, I should say: ‘Well, and the Lark, what has become of her?’ One must, at least, see some petty scrap of paper, some trifle in the way of a passport, you know!’ The stranger, still surveying him with that gaze which penetrates, as the saying goes, to the very depths of the conscience, replied in a grave, firm voice:— ‘Monsieur Thenardier, one does not require a passport to travel five leagues from Paris. If I take Cosette away, I shall take her away, and that is the end of the matter. You will not
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know my name, you will not know my residence, you will not know where she is; and my intention is that she shall never set eyes on you again so long as she lives. I break the thread which binds her foot, and she departs. Does that suit you? Yes or no?’ Since geniuses, like demons, recognize the presence of a superior God by certain signs, Thenardier comprehended that he had to deal with a very strong person. It was like an intuition; he comprehended it with his clear and sagacious promptitude. While drinking with the carters, smoking, and singing coarse songs on the preceding evening, he had devoted the whole of the time to observing the stranger, watching him like a cat, and studying him like a mathematician. He had watched him, both on his own account, for the pleasure of the thing, and through instinct, and had spied upon him as though he had been paid for so doing. Not a movement, not a gesture, on the part of the man in the yellow great-coat had escaped him. Even before the stranger had so clearly manifested his interest in Cosette, Thenardier had divined his purpose. He had caught the old man’s deep glances returning constantly to the child. Who was this man? Why this interest? Why this hideous costume, when he had so much money in his purse? Questions which he put to himself without being able to solve them, and which irritated him. He had pondered it all night long. He could not be Cosette’s father. Was he her grandfather? Then why not make himself known at once? When one has a right, one asserts it. This man evidently had no right over Cosette. What was it, then? Thenardier lost himself in conjectures.
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He caught glimpses of everything, but he saw nothing. Be that as it may, on entering into conversation with the man, sure that there was some secret in the case, that the latter had some interest in remaining in the shadow, he felt himself strong; when he perceived from the stranger’s clear and firm retort, that this mysterious personage was mysterious in so simple a way, he became conscious that he was weak. He had expected nothing of the sort. His conjectures were put to the rout. He rallied his ideas. He weighed everything in the space of a second. Thenardier was one of those men who take in a situation at a glance. He decided that the moment had arrived for proceeding straightforward, and quickly at that. He did as great leaders do at the decisive moment, which they know that they alone recognize; he abruptly unmasked his batteries. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘I am in need of fifteen hundred francs.’ The stranger took from his side pocket an old pocketbook of black leather, opened it, drew out three bank-bills, which he laid on the table. Then he placed his large thumb on the notes and said to the inn-keeper:— ‘Go and fetch Cosette.’ While this was taking place, what had Cosette been doing? On waking up, Cosette had run to get her shoe. In it she had found the gold piece. It was not a Napoleon; it was one of those perfectly new twenty-franc pieces of the Restoration, on whose effigy the little Prussian queue had replaced the laurel wreath. Cosette was dazzled. Her destiny began to intoxicate her. She did not know what a gold piece was;
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she had never seen one; she hid it quickly in her pocket, as though she had stolen it. Still, she felt that it really was hers; she guessed whence her gift had come, but the joy which she experienced was full of fear. She was happy; above all she was stupefied. Such magnificent and beautiful things did not appear real. The doll frightened her, the gold piece frightened her. She trembled vaguely in the presence of this magnificence. The stranger alone did not frighten her. On the contrary, he reassured her. Ever since the preceding evening, amid all her amazement, even in her sleep, she had been thinking in her little childish mind of that man who seemed to be so poor and so sad, and who was so rich and so kind. Everything had changed for her since she had met that good man in the forest. Cosette, less happy than the most insignificant swallow of heaven, had never known what it was to take refuge under a mother’s shadow and under a wing. For the last five years, that is to say, as far back as her memory ran, the poor child had shivered and trembled. She had always been exposed completely naked to the sharp wind of adversity; now it seemed to her she was clothed. Formerly her soul had seemed cold, now it was warm. Cosette was no longer afraid of the Thenardier. She was no longer alone; there was some one there. She hastily set about her regular morning duties. That louis, which she had about her, in the very apron pocket whence the fifteen-sou piece had fallen on the night before, distracted her thoughts. She dared not touch it, but she spent five minutes in gazing at it, with her tongue hanging out, if the truth must be told. As she swept the staircase,
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she paused, remained standing there motionless, forgetful of her broom and of the entire universe, occupied in gazing at that star which was blazing at the bottom of her pocket. It was during one of these periods of contemplation that the Thenardier joined her. She had gone in search of Cosette at her husband’s orders. What was quite unprecedented, she neither struck her nor said an insulting word to her. ‘Cosette,’ she said, almost gently, ‘come immediately.’ An instant later Cosette entered the public room. The stranger took up the bundle which he had brought and untied it. This bundle contained a little woollen gown, an apron, a fustian bodice, a kerchief, a petticoat, woollen stockings, shoes—a complete outfit for a girl of seven years. All was black. ‘My child,’ said the man, ‘take these, and go and dress yourself quickly.’ Daylight was appearing when those of the inhabitants of Montfermeil who had begun to open their doors beheld a poorly clad old man leading a little girl dressed in mourning, and carrying a pink doll in her arms, pass along the road to Paris. They were going in the direction of Livry. It was our man and Cosette. No one knew the man; as Cosette was no longer in rags, many did not recognize her. Cosette was going away. With whom? She did not know. Whither? She knew not. All that she understood was that she was leaving the Thenardier tavern behind her. No one had thought of bidding her farewell, nor had she thought of taking leave of any one. She was leaving that hated and hating house.
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Poor, gentle creature, whose heart had been repressed up to that hour! Cosette walked along gravely, with her large eyes wide open, and gazing at the sky. She had put her louis in the pocket of her new apron. From time to time, she bent down and glanced at it; then she looked at the good man. She felt something as though she were beside the good God.

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Madame Thenardier had allowed her husband to have his own way, as was her wont. She had expected great results. When the man and Cosette had taken their departure, Thenardier allowed a full quarter of an hour to elapse; then he took her aside and showed her the fifteen hundred francs. ‘Is that all?’ said she. It was the first time since they had set up housekeeping that she had dared to criticise one of the master’s acts. The blow told. ‘You are right, in sooth,’ said he; ‘I am a fool. Give me my hat.’ He folded up the three bank-bills, thrust them into his pocket, and ran out in all haste; but he made a mistake and turned to the right first. Some neighbors, of whom he made inquiries, put him on the track again; the Lark and the man had been seen going in the direction of Livry. He fol716 Les Miserables

lowed these hints, walking with great strides, and talking to himself the while:— ‘That man is evidently a million dressed in yellow, and I am an animal. First he gave twenty sous, then five francs, then fifty francs, then fifteen hundred francs, all with equal readiness. He would have given fifteen thousand francs. But I shall overtake him.’ And then, that bundle of clothes prepared beforehand for the child; all that was singular; many mysteries lay concealed under it. One does not let mysteries out of one’s hand when one has once grasped them. The secrets of the wealthy are sponges of gold; one must know how to subject them to pressure. All these thoughts whirled through his brain. ‘I am an animal,’ said he. When one leaves Montfermeil and reaches the turn which the road takes that runs to Livry, it can be seen stretching out before one to a great distance across the plateau. On arriving there, he calculated that he ought to be able to see the old man and the child. He looked as far as his vision reached, and saw nothing. He made fresh inquiries, but he had wasted time. Some passers-by informed him that the man and child of whom he was in search had gone towards the forest in the direction of Gagny. He hastened in that direction. They were far in advance of him; but a child walks slowly, and he walked fast; and then, he was well acquainted with the country. All at once he paused and dealt himself a blow on his forehead like a man who has forgotten some essential point
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and who is ready to retrace his steps. ‘I ought to have taken my gun,’ said he to himself. Thenardier was one of those double natures which sometimes pass through our midst without our being aware of the fact, and who disappear without our finding them out, because destiny has only exhibited one side of them. It is the fate of many men to live thus half submerged. In a calm and even situation, Thenardier possessed all that is required to make—we will not say to be— what people have agreed to call an honest trader, a good bourgeois. At the same time certain circumstances being given, certain shocks arriving to bring his under-nature to the surface, he had all the requisites for a blackguard. He was a shopkeeper in whom there was some taint of the monster. Satan must have occasionally crouched down in some corner of the hovel in which Thenardier dwelt, and have fallen a-dreaming in the presence of this hideous masterpiece. After a momentary hesitation:— ‘Bah!’ he thought; ‘they will have time to make their escape.’ And he pursued his road, walking rapidly straight ahead, and with almost an air of certainty, with the sagacity of a fox scenting a covey of partridges. In truth, when he had passed the ponds and had traversed in an oblique direction the large clearing which lies on the right of the Avenue de Bellevue, and reached that turf alley which nearly makes the circuit of the hill, and covers the arch of the ancient aqueduct of the Abbey of Chelles, he caught sight, over the top of the brushwood, of the hat on
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which he had already erected so many conjectures; it was that man’s hat. The brushwood was not high. Thenardier recognized the fact that the man and Cosette were sitting there. The child could not be seen on account of her small size, but the head of her doll was visible. Thenardier was not mistaken. The man was sitting there, and letting Cosette get somewhat rested. The inn-keeper walked round the brushwood and presented himself abruptly to the eyes of those whom he was in search of. ‘Pardon, excuse me, sir,’ he said, quite breathless, ‘but here are your fifteen hundred francs.’ So saying, he handed the stranger the three bank-bills. The man raised his eyes. ‘What is the meaning of this?’ Thenardier replied respectfully:— ‘It means, sir, that I shall take back Cosette.’ Cosette shuddered, and pressed close to the old man. He replied, gazing to the very bottom of Thenardier’s eyes the while, and enunciating every syllable distinctly:— ‘You are go-ing to take back Co-sette?’ ‘Yes, sir, I am. I will tell you; I have considered the matter. In fact, I have not the right to give her to you. I am an honest man, you see; this child does not belong to me; she belongs to her mother. It was her mother who confided her to me; I can only resign her to her mother. You will say to me, ‘But her mother is dead.’ Good; in that case I can only give the child up to the person who shall bring me a writing, signed by her mother, to the effect that I am to hand the child over to the person therein mentioned; that is clear.’
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The man, without making any reply, fumbled in his pocket, and Thenardier beheld the pocket-book of bankbills make its appearance once more. The tavern-keeper shivered with joy. ‘Good!’ thought he; ‘let us hold firm; he is going to bribe me!’ Before opening the pocket-book, the traveller cast a glance about him: the spot was absolutely deserted; there was not a soul either in the woods or in the valley. The man opened his pocket-book once more and drew from it, not the handful of bills which Thenardier expected, but a simple little paper, which he unfolded and presented fully open to the inn-keeper, saying:— ‘You are right; read!’ Thenardier took the paper and read:— ‘M. SUR M., March 25, 1823. ‘MONSIEUR THENARDIER:— You will deliver Cosette to this person. You will be paid for all the little things. I have the honor to salute you with respect, FANTINE.’ ‘You know that signature?’ resumed the man. It certainly was Fantine’s signature; Thenardier recognized it. There was no reply to make; he experienced two violent vexations, the vexation of renouncing the bribery which he had hoped for, and the vexation of being beaten; the man added:— ‘You may keep this paper as your receipt.’
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Thenardier retreated in tolerably good order. ‘This signature is fairly well imitated,’ he growled between his teeth; ‘however, let it go!’ Then he essayed a desperate effort. ‘It is well, sir,’ he said, ‘since you are the person, but I must be paid for all those little things. A great deal is owing to me.’ The man rose to his feet, filliping the dust from his thread-bare sleeve:— ‘Monsieur Thenardier, in January last, the mother reckoned that she owed you one hundred and twenty francs. In February, you sent her a bill of five hundred francs; you received three hundred francs at the end of February, and three hundred francs at the beginning of March. Since then nine months have elapsed, at fifteen francs a month, the price agreed upon, which makes one hundred and thirtyfive francs. You had received one hundred francs too much; that makes thirty-five still owing you. I have just given you fifteen hundred francs.’ Thenardier’s sensations were those of the wolf at the moment when he feels himself nipped and seized by the steel jaw of the trap. ‘Who is this devil of a man?’ he thought. He did what the wolf does: he shook himself. Audacity had succeeded with him once. ‘Monsieur-I-don’t-know-your-name,’ he said resolutely, and this time casting aside all respectful ceremony, ‘I shall take back Cosette if you do not give me a thousand crowns.’
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The stranger said tranquilly:— ‘Come, Cosette.’ He took Cosette by his left hand, and with his right he picked up his cudgel, which was lying on the ground. Thenardier noted the enormous size of the cudgel and the solitude of the spot. The man plunged into the forest with the child, leaving the inn-keeper motionless and speechless. While they were walking away, Thenardier scrutinized his huge shoulders, which were a little rounded, and his great fists. Then, bringing his eyes back to his own person, they fell upon his feeble arms and his thin hands. ‘I really must have been exceedingly stupid not to have thought to bring my gun,’ he said to himself, ‘since I was going hunting!’ However, the inn-keeper did not give up. ‘I want to know where he is going,’ said he, and he set out to follow them at a distance. Two things were left on his hands, an irony in the shape of the paper signed Fantine, and a consolation, the fifteen hundred francs. The man led Cosette off in the direction of Livry and Bondy. He walked slowly, with drooping head, in an attitude of reflection and sadness. The winter had thinned out the forest, so that Thenardier did not lose them from sight, although he kept at a good distance. The man turned round from time to time, and looked to see if he was being followed. All at once he caught sight of Thenardier. He plunged suddenly into the brushwood with Cosette, where they could both hide themselves. ‘The deuce!’ said Thenar722 Les Miserables

dier, and he redoubled his pace. The thickness of the undergrowth forced him to draw nearer to them. When the man had reached the densest part of the thicket, he wheeled round. It was in vain that Thenardier sought to conceal himself in the branches; he could not prevent the man seeing him. The man cast upon him an uneasy glance, then elevated his head and continued his course. The inn-keeper set out again in pursuit. Thus they continued for two or three hundred paces. All at once the man turned round once more; he saw the inn-keeper. This time he gazed at him with so sombre an air that Thenardier decided that it was ‘useless’ to proceed further. Thenardier retraced his steps.

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Jean Valjean was not dead. When he fell into the sea, or rather, when he threw himself into it, he was not ironed, as we have seen. He swam under water until he reached a vessel at anchor, to which a boat was moored. He found means of hiding himself in this boat until night. At night he swam off again, and reached the shore a little way from Cape Brun. There, as he did not lack money, he procured clothing. A small country-house in the neighborhood of Balaguier was at that time the dressing-room of escaped convicts,—a lucrative specialty. Then Jean Valjean, like all the sorry fugitives who are seeking to evade the vigilance of the law and social fatality, pursued an obscure and undulating itinerary. He found his first refuge at Pradeaux, near Beausset. Then he directed his course towards Grand-Villard, near Briancon, in the Hautes-Alpes. It was a fumbling and uneasy flight,— a mole’s track, whose
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branchings are untraceable. Later on, some trace of his passage into Ain, in the territory of Civrieux, was discovered; in the Pyrenees, at Accons; at the spot called Grange-deDoumec, near the market of Chavailles, and in the environs of Perigueux at Brunies, canton of La Chapelle-Gonaguet. He reached Paris. We have just seen him at Montfermeil. His first care on arriving in Paris had been to buy mourning clothes for a little girl of from seven to eight years of age; then to procure a lodging. That done, he had betaken himself to Montfermeil. It will be remembered that already, during his preceding escape, he had made a mysterious trip thither, or somewhere in that neighborhood, of which the law had gathered an inkling. However, he was thought to be dead, and this still further increased the obscurity which had gathered about him. At Paris, one of the journals which chronicled the fact fell into his hands. He felt reassured and almost at peace, as though he had really been dead. On the evening of the day when Jean Valjean rescued Cosette from the claws of the Thenardiers, he returned to Paris. He re-entered it at nightfall, with the child, by way of the Barrier Monceaux. There he entered a cabriolet, which took him to the esplanade of the Observatoire. There he got out, paid the coachman, took Cosette by the hand, and together they directed their steps through the darkness,— through the deserted streets which adjoin the Ourcine and the Glaciere, towards the Boulevard de l’Hopital. The day had been strange and filled with emotions for Cosette. They had eaten some bread and cheese purchased
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in isolated taverns, behind hedges; they had changed carriages frequently; they had travelled short distances on foot. She made no complaint, but she was weary, and Jean Valjean perceived it by the way she dragged more and more on his hand as she walked. He took her on his back. Cosette, without letting go of Catherine, laid her head on Jean Valjean’s shoulder, and there fell asleep.


Les Miserables


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Forty years ago, a rambler who had ventured into that unknown country of the Salpetriere, and who had mounted to the Barriere d’Italie by way of the boulevard, reached a point where it might be said that Paris disappeared. It was no longer solitude, for there were passers-by; it was not the country, for there were houses and streets; it was not the city, for the streets had ruts like highways, and the grass grew in them; it was not a village, the houses were too lofty. What was it, then? It was an inhabited spot where there was no one; it was a desert place where there was some one; it was a boulevard of the great city, a street of Paris; more wild at night than the forest, more gloomy by day than a cemetery. It was the old quarter of the Marche-aux-Chevaux. The rambler, if he risked himself outside the four decrepit walls of this Marche-aux-Chevaux; if he consented even to pass beyond the Rue du Petit-Banquier, after leaving on his right a garden protected by high walls; then a field in which tan-bark mills rose like gigantic beaver huts; then an enclosure encumbered with timber, with a heap of stumps,
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sawdust, and shavings, on which stood a large dog, barking; then a long, low, utterly dilapidated wall, with a little black door in mourning, laden with mosses, which were covered with flowers in the spring; then, in the most deserted spot, a frightful and decrepit building, on which ran the inscription in large letters: POST NO BILLS,—this daring rambler would have reached little known latitudes at the corner of the Rue des Vignes-Saint-Marcel. There, near a factory, and between two garden walls, there could be seen, at that epoch, a mean building, which, at the first glance, seemed as small as a thatched hovel, and which was, in reality, as large as a cathedral. It presented its side and gable to the public road; hence its apparent diminutiveness. Nearly the whole of the house was hidden. Only the door and one window could be seen. This hovel was only one story high. The first detail that struck the observer was, that the door could never have been anything but the door of a hovel, while the window, if it had been carved out of dressed stone instead of being in rough masonry, might have been the lattice of a lordly mansion. The door was nothing but a collection of worm-eaten planks roughly bound together by cross-beams which resembled roughly hewn logs. It opened directly on a steep staircase of lofty steps, muddy, chalky, plaster-stained, dusty steps, of the same width as itself, which could be seen from the street, running straight up like a ladder and disappearing in the darkness between two walls. The top of the shapeless bay into which this door shut was masked by
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a narrow scantling in the centre of which a triangular hole had been sawed, which served both as wicket and air-hole when the door was closed. On the inside of the door the figures 52 had been traced with a couple of strokes of a brush dipped in ink, and above the scantling the same hand had daubed the number 50, so that one hesitated. Where was one? Above the door it said, ‘Number 50”; the inside replied, ‘no, Number 52.’ No one knows what dust-colored figures were suspended like draperies from the triangular opening. The window was large, sufficiently elevated, garnished with Venetian blinds, and with a frame in large square panes; only these large panes were suffering from various wounds, which were both concealed and betrayed by an ingenious paper bandage. And the blinds, dislocated and unpasted, threatened passers-by rather than screened the occupants. The horizontal slats were missing here and there and had been naively replaced with boards nailed on perpendicularly; so that what began as a blind ended as a shutter. This door with an unclean, and this window with an honest though dilapidated air, thus beheld on the same house, produced the effect of two incomplete beggars walking side by side, with different miens beneath the same rags, the one having always been a mendicant, and the other having once been a gentleman. The staircase led to a very vast edifice which resembled a shed which had been converted into a house. This edifice had, for its intestinal tube, a long corridor, on which opened to right and left sorts of compartments of varied dimensions
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which were inhabitable under stress of circumstances, and rather more like stalls than cells. These chambers received their light from the vague waste grounds in the neighborhood. All this was dark, disagreeable, wan, melancholy, sepulchral; traversed according as the crevices lay in the roof or in the door, by cold rays or by icy winds. An interesting and picturesque peculiarity of this sort of dwelling is the enormous size of the spiders. To the left of the entrance door, on the boulevard side, at about the height of a man from the ground, a small window which had been walled up formed a square niche full of stones which the children had thrown there as they passed by. A portion of this building has recently been demolished. From what still remains of it one can form a judgment as to what it was in former days. As a whole, it was not over a hundred years old. A hundred years is youth in a church and age in a house. It seems as though man’s lodging partook of his ephemeral character, and God’s house of his eternity. The postmen called the house Number 50-52; but it was known in the neighborhood as the Gorbeau house. Let us explain whence this appellation was derived. Collectors of petty details, who become herbalists of anecdotes, and prick slippery dates into their memories with a pin, know that there was in Paris, during the last century, about 1770, two attorneys at the Chatelet named, one Corbeau (Raven), the other Renard (Fox). The two names had been forestalled by La Fontaine. The opportunity was
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too fine for the lawyers; they made the most of it. A parody was immediately put in circulation in the galleries of the court-house, in verses that limped a little:— Maitre Corbeau, sur un dossier perche,[13]  Tenait dans son bee une saisie executoire; Maitre Renard, par l’odeur alleche,  Lui fit a peu pres cette histoire:   He! bonjour. Etc. [13] Lawyer Corbeau, perched on a docket, held in his beak a writ of execution; Lawyer Renard, attracted by the smell, addressed him nearly as follows, etc. The two honest practitioners, embarrassed by the jests, and finding the bearing of their heads interfered with by the shouts of laughter which followed them, resolved to get rid of their names, and hit upon the expedient of applying to the king. Their petition was presented to Louis XV. on the same day when the Papal Nuncio, on the one hand, and the Cardinal de la Roche-Aymon on the other, both devoutly kneeling, were each engaged in putting on, in his Majesty’s presence, a slipper on the bare feet of Madame du Barry, who had just got out of bed. The king, who was laughing, continued to laugh, passed gayly from the two bishops to the two lawyers, and bestowed on these limbs of the law their former names, or nearly so. By the kings command, Maitre Corbeau was permitted to add a tail to his initial letter and to call himself Gorbeau. Maitre Renard was less lucky; all he obtained
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was leave to place a P in front of his R, and to call himself Prenard; so that the second name bore almost as much resemblance as the first. Now, according to local tradition, this Maitre Gorbeau had been the proprietor of the building numbered 50-52 on the Boulevard de l’Hopital. He was even the author of the monumental window. Hence the edifice bore the name of the Gorbeau house. Opposite this house, among the trees of the boulevard, rose a great elm which was three-quarters dead; almost directly facing it opens the Rue de la Barriere des Gobelins, a street then without houses, unpaved, planted with unhealthy trees, which was green or muddy according to the season, and which ended squarely in the exterior wall of Paris. An odor of copperas issued in puffs from the roofs of the neighboring factory. The barrier was close at hand. In 1823 the city wall was still in existence. This barrier itself evoked gloomy fancies in the mind. It was the road to Bicetre. It was through it that, under the Empire and the Restoration, prisoners condemned to death re-entered Paris on the day of their execution. It was there, that, about 1829, was committed that mysterious assassination, called ‘The assassination of the Fontainebleau barrier,’ whose authors justice was never able to discover; a melancholy problem which has never been elucidated, a frightful enigma which has never been unriddled. Take a few steps, and you come upon that fatal Rue Croulebarbe, where Ulbach stabbed the goat-girl of Ivry to the sound of thunder,
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as in the melodramas. A few paces more, and you arrive at the abominable pollarded elms of the Barriere Saint-Jacques, that expedient of the philanthropist to conceal the scaffold, that miserable and shameful Place de Grove of a shop-keeping and bourgeois society, which recoiled before the death penalty, neither daring to abolish it with grandeur, nor to uphold it with authority. Leaving aside this Place Saint-Jacques, which was, as it were, predestined, and which has always been horrible, probably the most mournful spot on that mournful boulevard, seven and thirty years ago, was the spot which even to-day is so unattractive, where stood the building Number 50-52. Bourgeois houses only began to spring up there twentyfive years later. The place was unpleasant. In addition to the gloomy thoughts which assailed one there, one was conscious of being between the Salpetriere, a glimpse of whose dome could be seen, and Bicetre, whose outskirts one was fairly touching; that is to say, between the madness of women and the madness of men. As far as the eye could see, one could perceive nothing but the abattoirs, the city wall, and the fronts of a few factories, resembling barracks or monasteries; everywhere about stood hovels, rubbish, ancient walls blackened like cerecloths, new white walls like windingsheets; everywhere parallel rows of trees, buildings erected on a line, flat constructions, long, cold rows, and the melancholy sadness of right angles. Not an unevenness of the ground, not a caprice in the architecture, not a fold. The ensemble was glacial, regular, hideous. Nothing oppresses the heart like symmetry. It is because symmetry is ennui,
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and ennui is at the very foundation of grief. Despair yawns. Something more terrible than a hell where one suffers may be imagined, and that is a hell where one is bored. If such a hell existed, that bit of the Boulevard de l’Hopital might have formed the entrance to it. Nevertheless, at nightfall, at the moment when the daylight is vanishing, especially in winter, at the hour when the twilight breeze tears from the elms their last russet leaves, when the darkness is deep and starless, or when the moon and the wind are making openings in the clouds and losing themselves in the shadows, this boulevard suddenly becomes frightful. The black lines sink inwards and are lost in the shades, like morsels of the infinite. The passer-by cannot refrain from recalling the innumerable traditions of the place which are connected with the gibbet. The solitude of this spot, where so many crimes have been committed, ha