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So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social con- 
demnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on 
earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality ; so 
long as the three problems of the age — the degradation of man by 
poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of child- 
hood by physical and spiritual night — are not solved; so long as, in 
certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and 
from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and 
misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless. 

Hauteville House, 1862. 




I The Fall 3 

II To Entrust is Sometimes to Abandon 32 

III The Descent 40 

IV Javert 53 

V The Champmathieu Affair 62 

VI Counter-stroke 92 


I Waterloo Ill' 

II The Ship Orion 120 

III Fulfilment of the Promise to the Departed .... 125 

IV The Old Gorbeau House 160 

V A Dark Chase Needs a Silent Hound 168 

VI Cemeteries Take what is Given Them . . . . . . 184 


I Paris Atomised 219 

II The Grand Bourgeois 221 

III The Grandfather and the Grandson 223 

IV The Friends of the ABC 241 

V The Excellence of Misfortune 247 

VI The Conjunction of Two Stars 254 

VII Patron Minette . 267 

VIII The Noxious Poor 268 


I Eponinb 345 

II The House in the Eue Plumet 355 

III Aid from Below May be Aid from Above 371 

IV The End of which is Unlike the Beginning , . , . 379 

viii Contents 


V Enchantments and Desolations 390 

VI Where ARE They Going ? 406 

VII June 5th, 1832 412 

VIII The Atom Fraternises with the Hurricane .... 417 

IX Corinth 425 

X The Grandeurs of Despair 442 

XI The Eue de l'Homme Arme 460 


T War Between Four Walls 471 

II Mire, but Soul 497 

III Javert off the Track 527 

IV The Grandson and the Grandfather . 531 

V The White Night 544 

VI The Last Drop in the Chalice 548 

VIT The Twilight Wane 555 

VIII Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn 560 


She wore, as on the previous day, her damask dress and her crape hat 



A strange, fierce group appeared on the threshold 26 

His name was Javert and he was one of the police 44 

Several men were seated at table around four or five candles in the low 

hall of the Thenardier tavern 126 

He came out from the doorway in which he was concealed, and made 

his way into the Eue des Postes 170 

Father Fauvent, I am satisfied with you; to-morrow after the burial, 

bring your brother to me . 194 

He went towards the Faubourg Saint Marceau, and asked where he 

could find a commissary of police 300 

Thenardier took the pistol, and aimed at Javert 340 

She answered in a voice so low that it was no more than a breath which 

could scarcely be heard 388 

The band increased at every moment 4^^ 

Marius' bloody face appeared, under the white gleam from the air-hole, 

as if at the bottom of a tomb ^^^ 

He had concealed and buried that sum in the forest of Montfermeil . 538 






An hour before sunset, on the evening of a day in the beginning of 
October, 1815, a man travelling afoot entered the little town of 

D . The few persons who at this time were at their windows 

or their doors, regarded this traveller with a sort of distrust. It 
would have been hard to find a passer-by more wretched in appear- 
ance. He was a man of middle height, stout and hardy, in the 
strength of maturity; he might have been forty-six or seven. A 
slouched leather cap half hid his face, bronzed by the sun and wind, 
and dripping with sweat. His shaggy breast was seen through the 
coarse yellow shirt which at the neck was fastened by a small silver 
anchor; he wore a cravat twisted like a rope; coarse blue trousers, 
worn and shabby, white on one knee, and with holes in the other; an 
old ragged grey blouse, patched on one side with a piece of green 
cloth sewed with twine: upon his back was a well-filled knapsack, 
strongly buckled and quite new. In his hand he carried an enormous 
knotted stick: his stockingless feet were in hobnailed shoes; his hair 
was cropped and his beard long. 

The sweat, the heat, his long walk, and the dust, added an indescrib- 
able meanness to his tattered appearance. 

His hair was shorn, but bristly, for it had begun to grow a little, 

and seemingly had not been cut for some time. Nobody knew him; 

he was evidently a traveller. Whence had he come ? From the south 

— perhaps from the sea; for he was making his entrance into D 

by the same road by which, seven months before, the Emperor !N^a- 

poleon went from Cannes to Paris. This man must have walked all 

day long; for he appeared very weary. Some women of the old city 

which is at the lower part of the town, had seen him stop under the 

trees of the boulevard Gassendi, and drink at the fountain which is at 


^ Les Miserables 

the end of the promenade. He must have been very thirsty, for some 
children who followed him, saw him stop not two hundred steps 
further on and drink again at the fountain in the market-place. 

When he reached the corner of the Eue Poichevert he turned to 
the left and went towards the mayor's office. He went in, and a 
quarter of an hour afterwards he came out. 

The man raised his cap humbly and saluted a gendarme who was 
seated near the door, upon the stone bench which General Drouot 
mounted on the fourth of March, to read to the terrified inhabitants 
of D the proclamation of the Golfe Juan. 

Without returning his salutation, the gendarme looked at him at- 
tentively, watched him for some distance, and then went into the city 

There was then in D , a good inn called La Croix de Colhas; 

its host was named Jacquin Labarre, a man held in some considera- 
tion in the town on account of his relationship with another Labarre, 
who kept an inn at Grenoble called Trois Dauphins, and who had 
served in the Guides. 

The traveller turned his steps towards this inn, which was the best 
in the place, and went at once into the kitchen, which opened out of 
the street. All the ranges were fuming, and a great fire was burning 
briskly in the chimney-place. Mine host, who was at the same time 
head cook, was going from the fire place to the sauce-pans, very busy 
superintending an excellent dinner for some wagoners who were 
laughing and talking noisily in the next room. Whoever has trav- 
elled knows that nobody lives better than wagoners. A fat marmot, 
flanked by white partridges and goose, was turning on a long spit be- 
fore the fire; upon the ranges were cooking two large carps' from 
Lake Lauzet, and a trout from Lake Alloz. 

The host, hearing the door open, and a new-comer enter, said, 
without raising his eyes from his ranges — 

"What will monsieur have?'' 

"Something to eat and lodging." 

"^N'othing more easy," said mine host, but on turning his head and 
taking an observation of the traveller, he added, "for pay." 

The man drew from his pocket a large leather purse, and answered, 

"I have money." 

Fantine ^ 

"Then," said mine host, "I am at your service." 

The man put his purse back into his pocket, took off his knap- 
sack and put it down hard by the door, and holding his stick in his 
hand, sat down on a low stool by the fire. D being in the moun- 
tains, the evenings of October are cold there. 

However, as the host passed backwards and forwards, he kept a 
careful eye on the traveller. 

"Is dinner almost ready?" said the man. 

"Directly," said mine host. 

While the new-comer was warming himself with his back turned, 
the worthy innkeeper, Jacquin Labarre, took a pencil from his pocket, 
and then tore off the corner of an old paper which he pulled from a 
little table near the window. On the margin he wrote a line or two, 
folded it, and handed the scrap of paper to a child, who appeared to 
serve him as lacquey and scullion at the same time. The innkeeper 
whispered a word to the boy, and he ran off in the direction of the 
mayor's office. 

The traveller saw nothing of this. 

He asked a second time: "Is dinner ready?" 

"Yes; in a few moments," said the host. 

The boy came back with a paper. The host unfolded it unhurriedly, 
as one who is expecting an answer. He seemed to read with attention, 
then throwing his head on one side, thought for a moment. Then 
he took a step towards the traveller, who seemed drowned in troublous 

"Monsieur," said he, "I cannot receive you." 

The traveller half rose from his seat. 

"Why? Are you afraid I shall not pay you, or do you want me 
to pay in advance? I have money, I tell you." 

"It is not that." 

"What then ?" 

"You have money — " 

"Yes," said the man. 

"And I," said the host; "I have no room." 

"Well, put me in the stable," quietly replied the man. 

"I cannot." 

"Why ?" 

# Les Miserables 

"Because the horses take all the room." 

"Well," responded the man, "a corner in the garret; a truss of 
straw : we will see about that after dinner." 

"I cannot give you any dinner." 

This declaration, made in a measured but firm tone, appeared serious 
to the traveller. He got up. 

"Ah, bah! but I am dying with hunger. I have walked since 
sunrise; I have travelled twelve leagues. I will pay, and I want 
something to eat." 

"I have nothing," said the host. 

The man burst into a laugh, and turned towards the fire-place and 
the ranges. 

":N'othing! and all that?" 

"All that is engaged." 

"By whom?" 

"By those persons, the wagoners." 

"How many are there of them ?" 


"There is enough there for twenty." 

"They have engaged and paid for it all in advance." 

The man sat down again and said, without raising his voice : "I 
am at an inn. I am hungry, and I shall stay." 

The host bent down to his ear, and said in a voice which made 
him tremble: 

"Go away!" 

At these words the traveller, who was bent over, poking some embers 
in the fire with the iron-shod end of his stick, turned suddenly around, 
and opened his mouth, as if to reply, when the host, looking steadily 
at him, added in the same low tone : "Stop, no more of that. Shall I 
tell you your name ? your name is Jean Valjean, now shall I tell you 
who you are ? When I saw you enter, I suspected something. I sent 
to the mayor's office, and here is the reply. Can you read ?" So saying 
he held towards him the open paper, which had just come from the 
mayor. The man cast a look upon it; the innkeeper, after a short si- 
lence, said : "It is my custom to be polite to all : Go !" 

The man bowed his head, picked up his knapsack, and went out. 

He took the principal street ; he walked at random, slinking near the 

Fantine ^ 

houses like a sad and humiliated man: he did not once turn around. 
If he had turned, he would have seen the innkeeper of the Croix de 
Colhas, standing in his doorway with all his guests, and the passers-by 
gathered about him, speaking excitedly, and pointing him out ; and from 
the looks of fear and distrust which were exchanged, he would have 
guessed that before long his arrival would be the talk of the whole 

He saw nothing of all this : people overwhelmed with trouble do not 
look behind ; they know only too well that misfortune follows them. 

He walked along in this way some time, going by chance down streets 
unknown to him, and forgetting fatigue, as is the case in sorrow. Sud- 
denly he felt a pang of hunger ; night was at hand, and he looked around 
to see if he could not discover a lodging. 

The good inn was closed against him : he sought some humble tavern, 
some poor cellar. 

Just then a light shone at the end of the street ; he saw a pine branch, 
hanging by an iron bracket, against the white sky of the twilight. 
He went thither. 

It was a tavern in the Hue Chaifaut. 

The traveller stopped a moment and looked in at the little window 
upon the low hall of the tavern, lighted by a small lamp upon a table, 
and a great fire in the chimney place. Some men were drinking, and 
the host was warming himself ; an iron-pot hung over the fire seething in 
the blaze. 

Two doors lead into this tavern, which is also a sort of eating-house — 
one from the street, the other from a small court full of rubbish. 

The traveller did not dare to enter by the street door ; he slipped into 
the court, stopped again, then timidly raised the latch, and pushed open 
the door. 

"Who is it V said the host. 

"One who wants supper and a bed." 

"All right : here you can sup and sleep." 

He went in, all the men who were drinking turned towards him ; the 
lamp shining on one side of this face, the firelight on the other, they ex- 
amined him for sonae time as he was taking oif his knapsack. 

The host said to him : "There is the fire ; the supper is cooking in 
the pot ; come and warm yourself, comrade*" 

^ Les Miserables 

He seated himself near the fireplace and stretched his feet out to- 
wards the fire, half dead with fatigue: an inviting odour came from 
the pot. All that could be seen of his face under his slouched cap 
assumed a vague appearance of comfort, which tempered the sorrow- 
ful aspect given him by long-continued suffering. 

His profile was strong, energetic, and sad; a physiognomy strangely 
marked: at first it appeared humble, but it soon became severe. His 
eye shone beneath his eyebrows like a fire beneath a thicket. 

However, one of the men at the table was a fisherman who had put 
up his horse at the stable of Labarre's inn before entering the tavern 
of the Rue de Chaffaut. It so happened that he had met, that same 
morning, this suspicious-looking stranger travelling between Bras 
d^Asse and — I forget the place, I think it is Escoublon. Now, on 
meeting him, the man, who seemed already very much fatigued, had 
aisked him to take him on behind, to which the fisherman responded only 
by doubling his pace. The fisherman, half an hour before, had been 
one of the throng about Jacquin Labarre, and had himself related his 
unpleasant meeting with him to the people of the Croix de Colhws. 
He beckoned to the tavern-keeper to come to him, which he did. They 
exchanged a few words in a low voice ; the traveller had again relapsed 
into thought. 

The tavern-keeper returned to the fire, and laying his hand roughly 
on his shoulder, said harshly: 

"You are going to clear out from here !" 

The stranger turned round and said mildly, 

"Ah! Do you know?" 


"They sent me away from the other inn." 

"And we turn you out of this." 

"Where would you have me go." 

"Somewhere else." 

The man took up his stick and knapsack, and went off. As he went 
out, some children who had followed him from the Croix de Colhas, 
and seemed to be waiting for him, threw stones at him. He turned 
angrily and threatened them with his stick, and they scattered like a 
flock of birds. 

Fan tine ^ 

He passed the prison : an iron chain hung from the door attached to 
a bell. He rang. 

The grating opened. 

"Monsieur Turnkey," said he, taking off his cap respectfully, "will 
you open and let me stay here to-night ?" 

A voice answered : 

"A prison is not a, tavern : get yourself arrested and we will open." 

It was about eight o'clock in the evening: as he did not know the 
streets, he walked at hazard. 

So he came to the prefecture, then to the seminary; on passing by 
the Cathedral square, he shook his fist at the church. 

At the corner of this square stands a printing-office ; there were first 
printed the proclamations of the emperor, and the Imperial Guard to 
the army, brought from the island of Elba, and dictated by Napoleon 

Exhausted with fatigue, and hoping for nothing better, he lay down 
on a stone bench in front of this printing-office. 

Just then an old woman came out of the church. She saw the man 
lying there in the dark, and said : 

"What are you doing there, my friend ?" 

He replied harshly, and with anger in his tone: 

"You see, my good woman, I am going to sleep." 

"Upon the bench ?" said she. 

"For nineteen years I have had a wooden mattress," said the man; 
"to-night I have a stone one." 

"You have been a soldier ?" 

"Yes, my good woman, a soldier." 

"Why don't you go to the inn ?" 

"Because I have no money." 

"Alas!" said Madame de R , "I have only four sous in my 


"Give them then." The man took the four sous, and Madame de 
R continued : 

"You cannot find lodging for so little in an inn. But have you 
tried ? You cannot pass the night so. You must be cold and hungry. 
They should give you lodging for charity." 

1^ Les Miserables 

"I have knocked at every door." 

^ Well, what then ?" 

^'Everybody has driven me away." 

The good woman touched the man's arm and pointed out to him, 
on the other side of the square, a little low house beside the bishop's 

"You have knocked at every door V^ she asked. 


"Have you knocked at that one there ?" 

"Knock there." 


That evening, after his walk in the town, the Bishop of D^ re- 
mained quite late in his room. He was busy with his great work on 
Duty, which unfortunately is left incomplete. He carefully dissected 
all that the Fathers and Doctors have said on this serious topic. His 
book was divided into two parts : First, the duties of all : Secondly, 
the duties of each, according to his position in life. 

At eight o'clock he was still at work, writing with some inconvenience 
on little slips of paper, with a large book open on his knees, when 
Madame Magloire, as usual, came in to take the silver from the panel 
near the bed. A moment after, the bishop, knowing that the table 
was laid, and that his sister was perhaps waiting, closed his book and 
went into the dining-room. 

This dining-room was an oblong apartment, with a fireplace, and 
with a door upon the street, and a window opening into the garden. 

Madame Magloire had just finished placing the plates. ' 

While she was arranging the table, she was talking with Mademoi- 
selle Baptistine. 

The lamp was on the table, which was near the fireplace, where a 
good fire was burning. 

Just as the bishop entered, Madame Magloire was speaking with some 
warmth. She was talking to Mademoiselle upon a familiar subject, 
and one to which the bishop was quite accustomed. It was a discus- 
sion on the means of fastening the front door. 

It seems that while Madame Magloire was out making provision for 

Fantine ^^ 

supper, she had heard the news in sundry places. There was talk 
that an ill-favoured runaway, a suspicious vagabond, had arrived and 
was lurking somewhere in the town, and that some unpleasant ad- 
ventures might befall those who should come home late that night; 
besides, that the police was very bad, as the prefect and the mayor 
did not like one another, and were hoping to injure each other by un- 
toward events ; that it was the part of wise people to be their own police, 
and to protect their own persons ; and that every one ought to be care- 
ful to shut up, bolt, and bar his house properly, and secure his door 

Madame Magloire dwelt upon these last words; but the bishop, 
having come from a cold room, seated himself before the fire and 
began to warm himself, and then, he was thinking of something else. 
He did not hear a word of what was let fall by Madame Magloire, and 
she repeated it. Then Mademoiselle Baptistine, endeavouring to sat- 
isfy Madame Magloire without displeasing her brother, ventured to 
say timidly : 

"Brother, do you hear what Madame Magloire says?" 

"I heard something of it indistinctly," said the bishop. Then turn- 
ing his chair half round, putting his hands on his knees, and raising 
towards the old servant his cordial and good-humoured face, which the 
firelight shone upon, he said : "Well, well ! what is the matter ? Are 
we in any great danger ?" 

Then Madame Magloire began her story again, unconsciously ex- 
aggerating it a little. It appeared that a bare-footed gipsy man, a 
sort of dangerous beggar, was in the town. He had gone for lodging 
to Jacquin Labarre, who had refused to receive him; he had been 
seen to enter the town by the boulevard Gassendi, and to roam through 
the street at dusk. A man with a knapsack and a rope, and a terrible- 
looking face. 

"Indeed!" said the bishop. 

This readiness to question her encouraged Madame Magloire; it 
seemed to indicate that the bishop was really well-nigh alarmed. She 
continued triumphantly: "Yes, monseigneur; it is true. There will 
something happen to-night in the town : everybody says so. The police 
is so badly organised (a convenient repetition). To live in this moun- 
tainous country, and not even to have street lamps! If one goes out, 

1* Les Miserables 

it is dark as a pocket. And I say, monseigneur, and mademoiselle 
says also — " 

"Me?" interrupted the sister; "I say nothing. Whatever my 
brother does is well done." 

Madame Magloire went on as if she had not heard this protestation : 

^'We say that this house is not safe at all; and if monseigneur will 
permit me, I will go and tell Paulin Musebois, the locksmith, to come 
and put the old bolts in the door again ; they are there, and it will take 
but a minute. I say we must have bolts, were it only for to-night; 
for I say that a door which opens by a latch on the outside to the first 
comer, nothing could be more horrible: and then monseigneur has the 
habit of always saying *Come in,' even at midnight. But, my good- 
ness ! there is no need even to ask leave — " 

At this moment there was a violent knock on the door. 

"Come in!" said the bishop. 


The door opened. 

It opened quickly, quite wide, as if pushed by some one boldly and 
with energy. 

A man entered. 

That man, we know already; it was the traveller we have seen 
wandering about in search of a lodging. 

He came in, took one step, and paused, leaving the door open be- 
hind him. He had his knapsack on his back, his stick in his hand, and 
a rough, hard, tired, and fierce look in his eyes, as seen by the firelight. 
He was hideous. It was an apparition of ill omen. 

Madame Magloire had not even the strength to scream. She stood 
trembling with her mouth open. 

Mademoiselle Baptistine turned, saw the man enter, and started up 
half alarmed; then, slowly turning back again towards the fire, she 
looked at her brother, and her face resumed its usual calmness and 

The bishop looked upon the man with a tranquil eye. 

As he was opening his mouth to speak, doubtless to ask the stranger 
what he wanted, the man, leaning with both hands on his club, glanced 

Fantine 13 

from one to another in turn, and without waiting for the bishop to 
speak, said in a loud voice : 

"See here ! My name is Jean Yaljean. I am a convict ; I have been 
nineteen years in the galleys. Four days ago I was set free, and started 
for Pontarlier, which is my destination; during those four days I 
have walked from Toulon. To-day I have walked twelve leagues. 
When I reached this place this evening I went to an inn, and they 
sent me away on account of my yellow passport, which I had shown 
at the mayor's office, as was necessary. I went to another inn; they 
said: ^Get out!' It was the same with one as with another; nobody 
would have me. I went to the prison, and the turnkey would not let 
me in. There in the square I lay down upon a stone ; a good woman 
showed me your house, and said : ^Knock there !' I have knocked. 
What is this place ? Are you an inn ? I have money ; my savings, one 
hundred and nine francs and fifteen sous which I have earned in the 
galleys by my work for nineteen years. I will pay. What do I care ? 
I have money. I am very tired — twelve leagues on foot, and I am 
so hungry. Can I stay ?" 

"Madame Magloire," said the bishop, "put on another plate." 

The man took three steps, and came near the lamp which stood on 
the table. "Stop," he exclaimed; as if he had not been understood, 
"not that, did you understand me? I am a galley-slave — a convict — 
I am just from the galleys." He drew from his pocket a large sheet of 
yellow paper, which he unfolded. "There is my passport, yellow as 
you see. That is enough to have me kicked out wherever I go. Will 
you read it? I know how to read, I do. I learned in the galleys. 
There is a school there for those who care for it. See, here is what they 
have put in the passport: 'Jean Yaljean, a liberated convict, native 

of ,' you don't care for that, 'has been nineteen years in the galleys ; 

^ve years for burglary ; fourteen years for having attempted four times 
to escape. This man is very dangerous. There you have it ! Every- 
body has thrust me out ; will you receive me ? Is this an inn ? Can 
you give me something to eat, and a place to sleep? Have you a 

"Madame Magloire," said the bishop, ''put some sheets on the bed 
in the alcove." 

Madame Magloire went out to fulfil her orders. 

** Les Miserables 

The bishop turned to the man: 

"Monsieur, sit down and warm yourself : we are going to take supper 
presently, and your bed will be made ready while you sup." 

At last the man quite understood ; his face, the expression of which 
till then had been gloomy and hard, now expressed stupefaction, doubt, 
and joy, and became absolutely wonderful. He began to stutter like a 

"True? What! You will keep me? you won't drive me away? a 
convict! You call me Monsieur and don't say ^Get out, dog!' as 
everybody else does. I thought that you would send me away, so I 
told first off who I am. Oh! the fine woman who sent me here! I 
shall have a supper! a bed like other people with mattress and sheets 
— a bed ! It is nineteen years that I have not slept on a bed. You are 
really willing that I should stay? You are good people! Besides I 
have money: I will pay well. I beg your pardon, Monsieur Inn- 
keeper, what is your name? I will pay all you say. You are a fine 
man. You are an innkeeper, an't you ?" 

"I am a priest who lives here," said the bishop. 

While he was talking, the bishop shut the door, which he had left 
wide open. 

Madame Magloire brought in a plate and set it on the table. 

"Madame Magloire," said the bishop, "put this plate as near the fire 
as you can." Then turning towards his guest, he added : "The night 
wind is raw in the Alps ; you must be cold, monsieur." 

Every time he said this word monsieur, with his gently solemn, and 
heartily hospitable voice, the man's countenance lighted up. Monsieur 
to a convict, is a glass of water to a man dying of thirst at sea. Ig- 
nominy thirsts for respect. 

"The lamp," said the bishop, "gives a very poor light." 

Madame Magloire understood him, and going to his bed-chamber, 
took from the mantel the two silver candlesticks, lighted the candles, 
and placed them on the table. 

Meantime she had served up supper; it consisted of soup made of 
water, oil, bread, and salt, a little pork, a scrap of mutton, a few figs, 
a green cheese, and a large loaf of rye bread. She had, without asking, 
added to the usual dinner of the bishop a bottle of fine old Mauves 

Fantine l^ 

The bishop's countenance was lighted up with this expression of 
pleasure, peculiar to hospitable natures. "To supper !" he said briskly, 
as was his habit when he had a guest. He seated the man at his right. 
Mademoiselle Baptistine, perfectly quiet and natural, took her place 
at his left. 

The bishop said the blessing, and then served the soup himself, 
according to his usual custom. The man fell to, eating greedily. 

Suddenly the bishop said. "It seems to me something is lacking 
on the table." 

The fact was, that Madame Magloire had set out only the three 
plates which were necessary. Now it was the custom of the house, 
when the bishop had any one to supper, to set all six of the silver 
plates on the table, an innocent display. This graceful appearance of 
luxury was a sort of childlikeness which was full of charm in this 
gentle but austere household, which elevated poverty to dignity. 

Madame Magloire understood the remark ; without a word she went 
out, and a moment afterwards the three plates for which the bishop had 
asked were shining on the cloth, symmetrically arranged before each of 
the three guests. During the meal there were few words spoken. The 
visitor was plainly weary and it was not long before they made ready 
for the night. 


After having said good-night to his sister, Monseigneur Bienvenu took 
one of the silver candlesticks from the table, handed the other to his 
guest, and said to him: 

"Monsieur, I will show you to your room." 

The man followed him. 

The house was so arranged that one could reach the alcove in the 
oratory only by passing through the bishop's sleeping chamber. Just 
as they were passing through his room Madame Magloire was putting 
up the silver in the cupboard at the head of the bed. It was the last 
thing she did every night before going to bed. 

The bishop left his guest in the alcove, before a clean white bed. 
The man set down the candlestick upon a small table. 

"Come," said the bishop, "a good night's rest to you: to-morrow 

1^ Les Miserables 

morning, before you go, you shall have a cup of warm milk from our 


"Thank you, Monsieur FAbbe," said the man. 

Scarcely had he pronounced these words of peace, when suddenly 
he made a singular motion which would have chilled the two good 
women of the house with horror, had they witnessed it. Even now it 
is hard for us to understand what impulse he obeyed at that moment. 
Did he intend to give a warning or to throw out a menace? Or 
was he simply obeying a sort of instinctive impulse, obscure ever to 
himself? He turned abruptly towards the old man, crossed his 
arms, and casting a wild look upon his host, exclaimed in a harsh 
voice : 

"Ah, now, indeed ! You lodge me in your house, as near you as 

He checked himself, and added, with a laugh, in which there was 
something horrible : 

"Have you reflected upon it? Who tells you that I am not a 
murderer ?" 

The bishop responded : 

"God will take care of that." 

Then with gravity, moving his lips like one praying or talking to 
himself, he raised two fingers of his right hand and blessed the man, 
who, however, did not bow; and without turning his head or looking 
behind him, went into his chamber. 

When the alcove was occupied, a heavy serge curtain was drawn in 
the oratory, concealing the altar. Before this curtain the bishop knelt 
as he passed out, and offered a short prayer. 

A moment afterwards he was walking in the garden, surrendering 
mind and soul to a dreamy contemplation of these grand and myste- 
rious works of God, which night makes visible to the eye. 

As to the man, he was so completely exhausted that he did not even 
avail himself of the clean white sheets; he blew out the candle with 
his nostril, after the manner of convicts, and fell on the bed, dressed 
as he was, into a sound sleep. 

Midnight struck as the bishop came back to his chamber. 

A few moments afterwards all in the little house slept. 

Fantine IT 


TowAEDs the middle of the night, Jean Valjean awoke. 

Jean Yaljean was born of a poor peasant family of Brie. In his 
childhood he had not been taught to read: when he was grown up, he 
chose the occupation of a pruner at Faverolles. His mother's name 
was Jeanne Mathieu, his father's Jean Valjean or Vlajean, probably 
a nickname, a contraction of Voila Jean. 

Jean Valjean was of a thoughtful disposition, but not sad, which 
is characteristic of affectionate natures. Upon the whole, however, 
there was something torpid and insignificant, in the appearance at 
least, of Jean Valjean. He had lost his parents when very young. 
His mother died of malpractice in a milk-fever: his father, a pruner 
before him, was killed by a fall from a tree. Jean Valjean now had 
but one relative left, his sister, a widow with seven children, girls and 
boys. The sister had brought up Jean Valjean, and, as long as her hus- 
band lived, she had taken care of her young brother. Her husband 
died, leaving the eldest of these children eight, the youngest one year 
old. Jean Valjean had just reached his twenty-fifth year : he took the 
father's place, and, in his turn, supported the sister who reared him. 
This he did naturally, as a duty, and even with a sort of moroseness 
on his part. His youth was spent in rough and ill-recompensed labour : 
he never was known to have a sweetheart; he had not time to be in 

' At night he came in weary and ate his soup without saying a word. 
While he was eating, his sister. Mere Jeanne, frequently took from his 
porringer the best of his meal ; a bit of meat, a slice of pork, the heart 
of the cabbage, to give to one of her children. He went on eating, his 
head bent down nearly into the soup, his long hair falling over his 
dish, hiding his eyes, he did not seem to notice anything that was 
done. At Faverolles, not far from the house of the Val jeans, there 
was on the other side of the road a farmer's wife named Marie Claude ; 
the Valjean children, who were always famished, sometimes went in 
their mother's name to borrow a pint of milk, which they would drink 
behind a hedge, or in some corner of the lane, snatching away the 
pitcher so greedily one from another, that the little girls would spill it 

^S Les Miserables 

upon their aprons and their necks ; if their mother had known of this 
exploit she would have punished the delinquents severely. Jean 
Valjean, rough and grumbler as he was, paid Marie Claude; their 
mother never knew it, and so the children escaped. 

He earned in the pruning season eighteen sous a day: after that he 
hired out as reaper, workman, teamster, or labourer. He did what- 
ever he could find to do. His sister worked also, but what could she 
do with seven little children ? It was a sad group, which misery was 
grasping and closing upon, little by little. There was a very severe 
winter ; Jean had no work, the family had no bread ; literally, no bread, 
and seven children. 

One Sunday night, Maubert Isabeau, the baker on the Place de 
I'Eglise, in Faverolles, was just going to bed when he heard a violent 
blow against the barred window of his shop. He got down in time 
to see an arm thrust through the aperture made by the blow of a fist 
on the glass. The arm seized a loaf of bread and took it out. Isabeau 
rushed out ; the thief used his legs valiantly ; Isabeau pursued him and 
caught him. The thief had thrown away the bread, but his arm was 
still bleeding. It was Jean Valjean. 

All that happened in 1795. Jean Valjean was brought before the 
tribunals of the time for "burglary at night, in an inhabited house." 
He had a gun which he used as well as any marksman in the world, 
and was something of a poacher, which hurt him, there being a naturel 
prejudice against poachers. The poacher, like the smuggler, ap- 
proaches very nearly to the brigand. We must say, however, by the 
way, that there is yet a deep gulf between this race of men and the 
hideous assassin of the city. The poacher dwells in the forest, and 
the smuggler in the mountains or upon the sea ; cities produce ferocious 
men, because they produce corrupt men ; the mountains, the forest, and 
the sea, render men savage ; they develop the fierce, but yet do not de- 
stroy the human. 

Jean Valjean was found guilty : the terms of the code were explicit ; 
in our civilisation there are fearful hours ; such are those when the crim- 
inal law pronounces shipwreck upon a man. What a mournful 
moment is that in which society withdraws itself and gives up a think- 
ing being for ever. Jean Valjean was sentenced to ^Ye years in the 

Fantine ^^ 

Near the end of this fourth year, his chance of liberty came to 
Jean Yaljean. His comrades helped him as they always do in that 
dreary place, and he escaped. He wandered two days in freedom 
through the fields; if it is freedom to be hunted, to turn your head 
each moment, to tremble at the least noise, to be afraid of everything, 
of the smoke of a chimney, the passing of a man, the baying of a 
dog, the gallop of a horse, the striking of a clock, of the day because 
you see, and of the night because you do not; of the road, of the 
bush, of sleep. During the evening of the second day he was retaken ; 
he had neither eaten nor slept for thirty-six hours. The maritime 
tribunal extended his sentence three years for this attempt, which 
made eight. In the sixth year his turn of escape came again; he 
tried it, but failed again. He did not answer at roll-call, and the 
alarm cannon was fired. At night the people of the vicinity dis- 
covered him hidden beneath the keel of a vessel on the stocks; he 
resisted the galley guard which seized him. Escape and resistance. 
This the provisions of the special code punished by an addition of 
^ve years, two with the double chain. Thirteen years. The tenth 
year his turn came round again; he made another attempt with no 
better success. Three years for this new attempt. Sixteen years. 
And finally, I think it was in the thirteenth year, he made yet another, 
and was retaken after an absence of only four hours. Three years 
for these four hours. Nineteen years. In October, 1815, he was 
set at large: he had entered in 1796 for having broken a pane of 
glass, and taken a loaf of bread. 


As the cathedral clock struck two, Jean Yaljean awoke. 

What awakened him was, too good a bed. For nearly twenty years 
he had not slept in a bed, and, although he had not undressed, the 
sensation was too novel not to disturb his sleep. 

He had slept something more than four hours. His fatigue had 
passed away. He was not accustomed to give many hours to repose. 

He opened his eyes, and looked for a moment into the obscurity 
about him, then he closed them to go to sleep again. 

When many diverse sensations have disturbed the day, when the 

2^ Les Miserables 

mind is preoccupied, we can fall asleep once, but not a second time. 
Sleep comes at first much more readily than it comes again. Such 
was the case with Jean Valjean. He could not get to sleep again, 
and so he began to think. 

He was in one of those moods in which the ideas we have in our 
minds are perturbed. There was a kind of vague ebb and flow in 
his brain. His oldest and latest memories floated about pell mell, 
and crossed each other confusedly, losing their own shapes, swelling 
beyond measure, then disappearing all at once, as if in a muddy and 
troubled stream. Many thoughts came to him, but there was one 
which continually presented itself, and which drove away all others. 
What that thought was, we shall tell directly. He had noticed the 
six silver plates and the large ladle that Madame Magloire had put 
on the table. 

Those six silver plates took possession of him. There they were, 
within a few steps. At the very moment that he passed through the 
middle room to reach the one he was now in, the old servant was plac- 
ing them in a little cupboard at the head of the bed. He had marked 
that cupboard well : on the right, coming from the dining-room. They 
were solid; and old silver. With the big ladle, they would bring at 
least two hundred francs, double what he had got for nineteen year's 
labour. True; he would have got more if the ''government" had not 
''robbed" him. 

His mind wavered a whole hour, and a long one, in fluctuation 
and in struggle. The clock struck three. He opened his eyes, rose up 
hastily in bed, reached out his arm and felt his haversack, which he had 
put into the corner of the alcove, then he thrust out his legs and placed 
his feet on the ground, and found himself, he knew not how, seated on 
his bed. 

He remained for some time lost in thought in that attitude, which 
would have had a rather ominous look, had any one seen him there in the 
dusk — ^he only awake in the slumbering house. All at once he stooped 
down, took off his shoes, and put them softly upon the mat in front of 
the bed, then he resumed his thinking posture, and was still again. 

In that hideous meditation, the ideas which we have been pointing 
out, troubled his brain without ceasing, entered, departed, returned, 
and became a sort of weight upon him; and then he thought, too, he 

Fantine 21 

knew not why, and with that mechanical obstinacy that belongs to 
reverie, of a convict named Brevet, whom he had known in the galleys, 
and whose trousers were only held up by a single knit cotton suspender. 
The checked pattern of that suspender came continually before his 

He continued in this situation, and would perhaps have remained 
there until daybreak, if the clock had not struck the quarter or the half- 
hour. The clock seemed to say to him : "Come along !'' 

He rose to his feet, hesitated for a moment longer, and listened ; all 
was still in the house; he walked straight and cautiously towards the 
window, which he could discern. The night was not very dark ; there 
was a full moon, across which large clouds were driving before the 
wind. This produced alternations of light and shade, out-of-doors 
eclipses and illuminations, and in-doors a kind of glimmer. This glim- 
mer, enough to enable him to find his way, changing with the passing 
clouds, resembled that sort of livid light, which falls through the win- 
dow of a dungeon before which men are passing and repassing. On 
reaching the window, Jean Valjean examined it. It had no bars, 
opened into the garden, and was fastened, according to the fashion of 
the country, with a little wedge only. He opened it; but as the cold, 
keen air rushed into the room, he closed it again immediately. He 
looked into the garden with that absorbed look which studies rather 
than sees. The garden was enclosed with a white wall, quite low, 
and readily scaled. Beyond, against the sky, he distinguished the 
tops of trees at equal distances apart, which showed that this wall 
separated the garden from an avenue or a lane planted with trees. 

When he had taken this observation, he turned like a man whose 
mind is made up, went to his alcove, took his haversack, opened it, 
fumbled in it, took out something which he laid upon the bed, put 
his shoes into one of his pockets, tied up his bundle, swung it upon his 
shoulders, put on his cap, and pulled the vizor down over his eyes, 
felt for his stick, and went and put it in the corner of the window, then 
returned to the bed, and resolutely took up the object which he had laid 
on it. It looked like a short iron bar, pointed at one end like a spear. 

It would have been hard to distinguish in the darkness for what 
use this piece of iron had been made. Could it be a lever? Could 
it be a club ? 

22 Les Miserables 

In the day-time, it would have been seen to be nothing but a miner's 
drill. At that time, the convicts were sometimes employed in quarry- 
ing stone on the high hills that surround Toulon, and they often had 
miners' tools in their possession. Miners' drills are of solid iron, 
terminating at the lower end in a point, by means of which they are 
sunk into the rock. 

He took the drill in his right hand, and holding his breath, with 
stealthy steps, he moved towards the door of the next room, which 
was the bishop's, as we know. On reaching the door, he found it un- 
latched. The bishop had not closed it. 


Jean Valjean listened, ^ot a sound. 

He pushed the door. 

He pushed it lightly with the end of his finger, with the stealthy 
and timorous carefulness of a cat. The door yielded to the pressure 
with a silent, imperceptible movement, which made the opening a little 

He waited a moment, and then pushed the door again more boldly. 

It yielded gradually and silently. The opening was now wide enough 
for him to pass through; but there was a small table near the door 
which with it formed a troublesome angle, and which barred the en- 

Jean Yaljean saw the obstacle. At all hazards the opening must 
be made still wider. 

He so determined, and pushed the door a third time, harder than 
before. This time a rusty hinge suddenly sent out into the darkness 
a harsh and prolonged creak. 

Jean Yaljean shivered. The noise of this hinge sounded in his 
ears as clear and terrible as the trumpet of the Judgment Day. 

In the fantastic exaggeration of the first moment, he almost imagined 
that this hinge had become animate, and suddenly endowed with a 
terrible life; and that it was barking like a dog to warn everybody, 
and rouse the sleepers. 

He stopped, shuddering and distracted, and dropped from his tip- 
toes to his feet. He felt the pulses of his temples beat like trip- 

Fantine 23 

hammers, and it appeared to him that his breath came from his chest 
with the roar of wind from a caveni. It seemed impossible that the 
horrible sound of this incensed hinge had not shaken the whole house 
with the shock of an earthquake : the door pushed by him had taken the 
alarm, and had called out ; the old man would arise ; the two old women 
would scream; help would come; in a quarter of an hour the town 
would be alive with it, and the gendarmes in pursuit. For a mo- 
ment he thought he was lost. 

He stood still, petrified like the pillar of salt, not daring to stir. 
Some minutes passed. The door was wide open; he ventured a look 
into the room. Nothing had moved. He listened. Nothing was stir- 
ring in the house. The noise of the rusty hinge had wakened nobody. 

This first danger was over, but still he felt within him a frightful 
tumult. Nevertheless he did not flinch. Not even when he thought 
he was lost had he flinched. His only thought was to make an end 
of it quickly. He took one step and was in the room. 

A deep calm filled the chamber. Here and there indistinct, con- 
fused forms could be distinguished; which by day, were papers scat- 
tered over a table, open folios, books piled on a stool, an arm-chair 
with clothes on it, a prie-dieu, but now were only dark corners and 
whitish spots. Jean Valjean advanced, carefully avoiding the furni- 
ture. At the further end of the room he could hear the equal and 
quiet breathing of the sleeping bishop. 

Suddenly he stopped : he was near the bed, he had reached it sooner 
than he thought. 

Nature sometimes joins her effects and her appearances to our acts 
with a sort of serious and intelligent appropriateness, as if she 
would compel us to reflect. For nearly a half hour a great cloud had 
darkened the sky. At the moment when Jean Valjean paused before 
the bed the cloud broke as if purposely, and a ray of moonlight cross- 
ing the high window, suddenly lighted up the bishop's pale face. He 
slept tranquilly. He was almost entirely dressed, though in bed, on 
account of the cold nights of the lower Alps, with a dark woollen gar- 
ment which covered his arms to the wrists. His head had fallen on 
the pillow in the unstudied attitude of slumber; over the side of the 
bed hung his hand, ornamented with the pastoral ring, and which had 
done so many good deeds, so many pious acts. His entire countenance 

24 Les Miserables 

was lit up with, a vague expression of content, hope, and happiness. 
It was more than a smile and almost a radiance. On his forehead 
rested the indescribable reflection of an unseen light. The souls of 
the upright in sleep have vision of a mysterious heaven. 

A reflection from this heaven shone upon the bishop. 

But it was also a luminous transparency, for this heaven was within 
him; this heaven was his conscience. 

At the instant when the moonbeam overlay, so to speak, this inward 
radiance, the sleeping bishop appeared as if in a halo. But it was 
very mild, and veiled in an ineffable twilight. The moon in the sky, 
nature drowsing, the garden without a pulse, the quiet house, the hour, 
the moment, the silence, added something strangely solemn and un- 
utterable to the venerable repose of this man, and enveloped his white 
locks and his closed eyes with a serene and majestic glory, this face 
where all was hope and confidence — this old man's head and infant's 

There was something of divinity almost in this man, thus uncon- 
sciously august. 

Jean Valjean was in the shadow with the iron drill in his hand, erect, 
motionless, terrified, at this radiant figure. He had never seen any- 
thing comparable to it. This confidence filled him with fear. The 
moral world has no greater spectacle than this ; a troubled and restless 
conscience on the verge of committing an evil deed, contemplating the 
sleep of a good man. 

He did not remove his eyes from the old man. The only thing 
which was plain from his attitude and his countenance was a strange 
indecision. You would have said he was hesitating between two 
realms, that of the doomed and that of the saved. He appeared ready 
either to cleave this skull, or to kiss this hand. 

In a few moments he raised his left hand slowly to his forehead 
and took off his hat ; then, letting his hand fall with the same slowness, 
Jean Valjean resumed his contemplations, his cap in his left hand, 
his club in his right, and his hair bristling on his fierce-looking head. 

Under this frightful gaze the bishop still slept in profoundest peace. 

The crucifix above the mantelpiece was dimly visible in the moon- 
light, apparently extending its arms towards both, with a benediction 
for one and a pardon for the other. 

Fantine ^^ 

Suddenly Jean Valjean put on his cap, then passed quickly, with- 
out looking at the bishop, along the bed, straight to the cupboard which 
he perceived near its head; he raised the drill to force the lock; the 
key was in it; he opened it; the first thing he saw was the basket of 
silver, he took it, crossed the room with hasty stride, careless of noise, 
reached the door, entered the oratory, took his stick, stepped out, put 
the silver in his knapsack, threw away the basket, ran across the garden, 
leaped over the wall like a tiger, and fled. 


The next day at sunrise, Monseigneur Bienvenu was walking in the 
garden. Madame Magloire ran towards him quite beside herself. 

^^Monseigneur, monseigneur," cried she, "does your greatness know 
where the silver basket is?" 

"Yes," said the bishop. 

"God be praised !" said she, "I did not know what had become of it." 

The bishop had just found the basket on a flower-bed. He gave 
it to Madame Magloire and said: "There it is." 

"Yes," said she, "but there is nothing in it. The silver ?" 

"Ah!" said the bishop, "it is the silver then that troubles you. I 
do not know where that is." 

"Good heavens ! it is stolen. That man who came last night stole it." 

And in the twinkling of an eye, with all the agility of which her 
age was capable, Madame Magloire ran to the oratory, went into the 
alcove, and came back to the bishop. The bishop was bending with 
some sadness over a cochlearia des Guillons, which the basket had 
broken in falling. He looked up at Madame Magloire's cry: 

"Monseigneur, the man has gone ! the silver is stolen !" 

While she was uttering this exclamation her eyes fell on an angle 
of the garden where she saw traces of an escalade. A capstone of the 
wall had been thrown down. 

"See, there is where he got out; he jumped into Cochefilet lane. 
The abominable fellow ! hie has stolen our silver !" 

The bishop was silent for a moment, then raising his serious eyes, 
he said mildly to Madame Magloire: 

"Now first, did this silver belong to us?" 

26 Les Miserables 

Madame Magloire did not answer; after a moment the bishop con- 
tinued : 

"Madame Magloire, I have for a long time wrongfully withheld 
this silver ; it belonged to the poor. Who was this man ? A poor man 

"Alas ! alas !" returned Madame Magloire. "It is not on my account 
or mademoiselle's; it is all the same to us. But it is on yours, mon- 
^eigneur. What is monsieur going to eat from now?" 

The bishop looked at her with amazement: 

"How so! have we no tin plates?" 

Madame Magloire shrugged her shoulders. 

"Tin smells." 

"Well, then, iron plates." 

Madame Magloire made an expressive gesture. 

"Iron tastes." 

"Well," said the bishop, "then, wooden plates." 

In a few minutes he was breakfasting at the same table at which 
Jean Valjean sat the night before. While breakfasting, Monseigneur 
Bienvenu pleasantly remarked to his sister who said nothing, and 
Madame Magloire who was grumbling to herself, that there was really 
no need even of a wooden spoon or fork to dip a piece of bread into 
a cup of milk. 

"Was there ever such an idea?" said Madame Magloire to herself, 
as she went backwards and forwards : "to take in a man like that, and 
to give him a bed beside him ; and yet what a blessing it was that he 
did nothing but steal ! Oh, my stars ! it makes the chills run over me 
when I think of it !" 

Just as the brother and sister were rising from the table, there was 
a knock at the door. 

"Come in," said the bishop. 

The door opened. A strange, fierce group appeared on the threshold. 
Three men were holding a fourth by the collar. The three men were 
gendarmes; the fourth Jean Valjean. 

A brigadier of gendarmes, who appeared to head the group, was 
near the door. He advanced towards the bishop, giving a military 

"Monseigneur," said he — 

© Dodd, Mead & Company, Jnc, 

Fantine ^"^ 

At this word Jean Valjean, who was sullen and seemed entirely 
cast down, raised his head with a stupefied air — 

"Monseigneur !' he murmured, ^^then it is not the cure!'' 

''Silence!'' said a gendarme, '4t is monseigneur, the bishop." 

In the meantime Monsieur Bienvenu had approached as quickly as 
his great age permitted: 

"Ah, there you are!" said he, looking towards Jean Valjean, "I 
am glad to see you. But! I gave you the candlesticks also, which 
are silver like the rest, and would bring two hundred francs. Why 
did you not take them along with your plates ?" 

Jean Valjean opened his eyes and looked at the bishop with an ex- 
pression which no human tongue could describe. 

"Monseigneur," said the brigadier, "then what this man said was 
true ? We met him. He was going like a man who was running away, 
and we arrested him in order to see. He had this silver." 

"And he told you," interrupted the bishop, with a smile, "that it 
had been given him by a good old priest with whom he had passed 
the night. I see it all. And you brought him back here ? It is all a 

"If that is so," said the brigadier, "we can let him go." 

"Certainly," replied the bishop. 

The gendarmes released Jean Valjean, who shrank back — 

"Is it true that they let me go ?" he said in a voice almost inarticulate, 
as if he were speaking in his sleep. 

"Yes! you can go. Do you not understand?" said a gendarme. 

"My friend," said the bishop, "before you go away, here are your 
candlesticks ; take them." 

He went to the mantelpiece, took the two candlesticks, and brought 
them to Jean Valjean. The two women beheld the action without a 
word, or gesture, or look, that might disturb the bishop. 

Jean Valjean was trembling in every limb. He took the two candle- 
sticks mechanically, and with a wild appearance. 

"Now," said the Bishop, "go in peace. By the way, my friend, 
when you come again, you need not come through the garden. You 
can always come in and go out by the front door. It is closed only 
with a latch, day or night." 

Then turning to the gendarmes, he said : 

28 Les Miserables 

"Messieurs, you can retire." The gendarmes withdrew. 

Jean Yaljean felt like a man who is just about to faint. 

The bishop approached him, and said, in a low voice : 

"Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this 
silver to become an honest man.'' 

Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of this promise, stood con- 
founded. The bishop had laid much stress upon these words as he 
uttered them. He continued, solemnly: 

"Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to 
good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from 
dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God !" 


Jean Valjean went out of the city as if he were escaping. He made 
all haste to get into the open country, taking the first lanes and by- 
paths that offered, without noticing that he was every moment retracr 
ing his steps. He wandered thus all the morning. He had eaten 
nothing, but he felt no hunger. He was the prey of a multitude of 
new sensations. He felt somewhat angry, he knew not against whom. 
He could not have told whether he were touched or humiliated. There 
came over him, at times, a strange relenting which he struggled with, 
and to which he opposed the hardening of his past twenty years. This 
condition wearied him. He saw, with disquietude, shaken within him 
that species of frightful calm which the injustice of his fate had given 
him. He asked himself what should replace it. At times he would 
really have liked better to be in prison with the gendarmes, and that 
things had not happened thus; that would have given him less agita- 
tion. Although the season was well advanced, there were yet here 
and there a few late flowers in the hedges, the odour of which, as it 
met him in his walk, recalled the memories of his childhood. These 
memories were almost insupportable, it was so long since they had 
occurred to him. 

Unspeakable thoughts thus gathered in his mind the whole day. 

As the sun was sinking towards the horizon, lengthening the shadow 
on the ground of the smallest pebble, Jean Valjean was seated behind 
a thicket in a large reddish plain, an absolute desert. There was no 

Fantine 29 

horizon but the Alps. Not even the steeple of a village church. Jean 

Valjean might have been three leagues from Di . A by-path which 

crossed the plain passed a few steps from the thicket. 

In the midst of this meditation, which would have heightened not 
a little the frightful effect of his rags to any one who might have met 
him, he he^rd a joyous sound. 

He turned his head, and saw coming along the path a little Savo- 
yard, a dozen years old, singing, with his hurdygurdy at his side, and 
his marmot box on his back. 

One of those pleasant and gay youngsters who go from place to 
place, with their knees sticking through their trousers. 

Always singing, the boy stopped from time to time, and played 
at tossing up some pieces of money that he had in his hand, probably 
his whole fortune. Among them there was one forty-sous piece. 

The boy stopped by the side of the thicket without seeing Jean 
Valjean, and tossed up his handful of sous; until this time he had 
skilfully caught the whole of them upon the back of his hand. 

This time the forty-sous piece escaped him, and rolled towards the 
thicket, near Jean Valjean. 

Jean Valjean put his foot upon it. 

The boy, however, had followed the piece with his eye, and had seen 
where it went. 

He was not frightened, and walked straight to the man. 

It was an entirely solitary place. Far as the eye could reach there 
was no one on the plain or in the path. Nothing could be heard, but 
the faint cries of a flock of birds of passage, that were flying across the 
sky at an immense height. The child turned his back to the sun, which 
made his hair like threads of gold, and flushed the savage face of Jean 
Valjean with a lurid glow. 

"Monsieur,'' said the little Savoyard, with that childish confidence 
which is made up of ignorance and innocence, "my piece?" 

"What is your name ?" said Valjean. 

"Petit Gervais, monsieur." 

"Get out," said Jean Valjean. 

"Monsieur," continued the boy, "give me my piece." 

Jean Valjean dropped his head and did not answer. 

The child began again: 

30 Les Miserables 

^^My piece, monsieur!" 

Jean Val jean's eye remained fixed on the groand. 

"My piece!'' exclaimed the hoy, "my white piece! my silver f' 

Jean Valjean did not appear to understand. The boy took him 
by the collar of his blouse and shook him. And at the same time he 
made an effort to move the big, iron-soled shoe which was placed upon 
his treasure. 

"I want my piece ! my forty-sous piece !" 

The child began to cry. Jean Valjean raised his head. He still 
kept his seat. His look was troubled. He looked upon the boy with 
an air of wonder, then reached out his hand towards his stick, and 
exclaimed in a terrible voice : "Who is there ?" 

"Me, monsieur," answered the boy. "Petit Gervais! me! me! give 
me my forty sous, if you please ! Take away your foot, monsieur, if 
you please!" Then becoming angry, small as he was, and almost 
threatening : 

"Come, now, will you take away your foot? Why don't you take 
away your foot?" 

"Ah ! you here yet !" said Jean Valjean, and rising hastily to his 
feet, without releasing the piece of money, he added: "You'd better 
take care of yourself !" 

The boy looked at him in terror, then began to tremble from head 
to foot, and after a few seconds of stupor, took to flight and ran with all 
his might without daring to turn his head or to utter a cry. 

At a little distance, however, he stopped for want of breath, and 
Jean Valjean in his reverie heard him sobbing. 

In a few minutes the boy was gone. 

The sun had gone down. 

The shadows were deepening around Jean Valjean. He had not 
eaten during the day; probably he had some fever. 

He had remained standing, and had not changed his attitude since 
the child fled. His breathing was at long and unequal intervals. His 
eyes were fixed on a spot ten or twelve steps before him, and seemed 
to be studying with profound attention the form of an old piece of 
blue crockery that was lying in the grass. All at once he shivered ; he 
began to feel the cold night air. 

He pulled his cap down over his forehead, sought mechanically to 

Fantine ^^ 

fold and button his blouse around him, stepped forward and stooped 
to pick up his stick. 

At that instant he perceived the forty-sous piece which his foot 
had half buried in the ground, and which glistened among the pebbles. 
It was like an electric shock. "What is that ?'' said he, between his 
teeth. He drew back a step or two, then stopped without the power 
to withdraw his gaze from this point which his foot had covered the 
instant before, as if the thing that glistened there in the obscurity had 
been an open eye fixed upon him. 

After a few minutes, he sprang convulsively towards the piece of 
money, seized it, and, rising, looked away over the plain, straining 
his eyes towards all points of the horizon, standing and trembling 
like a frightened deer which is seeking a place of refuge. 

He saw nothing. Night was falling, the plain was cold and bare, 
thick purple mists were rising in the glimmering twilight. 

He said: "Oh!" and began to walk rapidly in the direction in 
which the child had gone. After some thirty steps, he stopped, looked 
about, and saw nothing. 

Then he called with all his might "Petit Gervais ! Petit Gervais !'' 

And then he listened. 

There was no answer. 

The country was desolate and gloomy. On all sides was space. 
There was nothing about him but a shadow in which his gaze was lost, 
and a silence in which his voice was lost. 

A biting norther was blowing, which gave a kind of dismal life to 
everything about him. The bushes shook their little thin arms with 
an incredible fury. One would have said that they were threatening 
and pursuing somebody. 

He began to walk again, then quickened his pace to a run, and from 
time to time stopped and called out in that solitude, in a most desolate 
and terrible voice: 

"Petit Gervais! Petit Gervais!'' 

Surely, if the child had heard him, he would have been frightened, 
and would have hid himself. But doubtless the boy was already far 

He met a priest on horseback. He went up to him and said : 

"Monsieur cure^ have jou seen a child go by ?" 

32 Les Miserables 

"No," said the priest. 

"Petit Gervais was his name?'' 

"I have seen nobody." 

He took two five-franc pieces from his bag, and gave them to the 

"Monsieur cure, this is for your poor. Monsieur cure, he is a little 
fellow, about ten years old, with a marmot, I think, and a hurdygurdy. 
He went this way. One of these Savoyards, you know ?" 

"I have not seen him." 

"Petit Gervais ? is his village near here ? can you tell me ?" 

"If it be as you say, my friend, the little fellow is a foreigner. 
They roam about this country, l^obody knows them." 

Jean Valjean hastily took out two more five-franc pieces, and gave 
them to the priest. 

"For your poor," said he. 

Then he added wildly: 

"Monsieur abbe, have me arrested. I am a robber." 

The priest put spurs to his horse, and fled in great fear. 

Jean Valjean began to run again in the direction which he had first 



There was, during the first quarter of the present century, at Mont- 
f ermeil, near Paris, a sort of chop-house : it is not there now. It was 
kept by a man and his wife, named Thenardier, and was situated in 
the Lane Boulanger. Above the door, nailed flat against the wall, was 
a board, upon which something was painted that looked like a man 
carrying on his back another man wearing the heavy epaulettes of a 
general, gilt and with large silver stars; red blotches typified blood; 
the remainder of the picture was smoke, and probably represented a 
battle. Beneath was this inscription: To the Sergeant op 

ISTothing is commoner than a cart or wagon before the door of an 

Fantine 83 

inn ; nevertheless the vehicle, or more properly speaking, the fragment 
of a vehicle which obstructed the street in front of the Sergeant of 
Waterloo one evening in the spring of 1815, certainly would have at- 
tracted by its bulk the attention of any painter who might have been 

It was the fore-carriage of one of those drays for carrying heavy 
articles, used in wooded countries for transporting joists and trunks of 
trees: it consisted of a massive iron axle-tree with a pivot to which a 
heavy pole was attached, and which was supported by two enormous 
wheels. As a whole, it was squat, crushing, and misshapen: it might 
have been fancied a gigantic gun-carriage. 

The roads had covered the wheels, felloes, limbs, axle, and the pole 
with a coating of hideous yellow-hued mud, similar in tint to that with 
which cathedrals are sometimes decorated. The wood had disappeared 
beneath mud ; and the iron beneath rust. 

Under the axle-tree hung festooned a huge chain fit for a Goliath 
of the galleys. 

The middle of the chain was hanging quite near the ground, under 
the axle; and upon the bend, as on a swinging rope, two little girls 
were seated that evening in exquisite grouping, the smaller, eighteen 
months old, in the lap of the larger, who was two years and a half old. 

A handkerchief carefully knotted kept them from falling. A mother, 
looking upon this frightful chain, had said: "Ah! there is a play- 
thing for my children !" 

The radiant children, picturesquely and tastefully decked, might 
be fancied two roses twining the rusty iron, with their triumphantly 
sparkling eyes, and their blooming, laughing faces. One was a rosy 
blonde, the other a brunette; their artless faces were two ravishing 
surprises ; the perfume that was shed upon the air by a flowering shrub 
near by seemed their own out-breathings ; the smaller one was showing 
her pretty little body with the chaste indecency of babyhood. Above 
and around these delicate heads, moulded in happiness and bathed in 
light, the gigantic carriage, black with rust and almost frightful with its 
entangled curves and abrupt angles, arched like the mouth of a cavern. 

The mother, a woman whose appearance was rather forbidding, but 
touching at this moment, was seated on the sill of the inn, swinging the 
two children by a long string, while she brooded them with her eyes 

34 Les Miserables 

for fear of accident with that animal but heavenly expression peculiar 
to maternity. At each vibration the hideous links uttered a creaking 
noise like an angry cry ; the little ones were in ecstasies, the setting sun 
mingled in the joy, and nothing could be more charming than this cap- 
rice of chance which made of a Titan's chain a swing for cherubim. 

While rocking the babes the mother sang with a voice out of tune 
a then popular song: 

"II le faut, disait un guerrier.'^ 

Her song and watching her children prevented her hearing and see- 
ing what was passing in the street. 

Some one, however, had approached her as she was beginning the 
first couplet of the song, and suddenly she heard a voice say quite near 
her ear: 

"You have two pretty children there, madame.'' 

"A la belle et tendre Imogine,'' 

answered the mother, continuing her song ; then she turned her head. 

A woman was before her at a little distance; she also had a child, 
which she bore in her arms. 

She was carrying in addition a large carpet-bag, which seemed heavy. 

This woman's child was one of the divinest beings that can be 
imagined : a little girl of two or three years. She might have entered 
the lists with the other little ones for coquetry of attire; she wore a 
head-dress of fine linen; ribbons at her shoulders and Valenciennes 
lace on her cap. The folds of her skirt were raised enough to show her 
plump fine white leg: she was charmingly rosy and healthful. The 
pretty little creature gave one a desire to bite her cherry cheeks. We 
can say nothing of her eyes except that they must have been very large, 
and were fringed with superb lashes. She was asleep. 

She was sleeping in the absolutely confiding slumber peculiar to 
her age. Mothers' arms are made of tenderness, and sweet sleep blesses 
the child who lies therein. 

As to the mother, she seemed poor and sad ; she had the appearance 
of a working woman who is seeking to return to the life of a peasant. 
She was young, — and pretty ? It was possible, but in that garb beauty 

Fantine S5 

could not be displayed. Her hair, one blonde mesh of which had 
fallen, seemed very thick, but it was severely fastened up beneath an 
ugly, close, narrow nun's head-dress, tied under the chin. Laughing 
shows fine teeth when one has them, but she did not laugh. Her eyes 
seemed not to have been tearless for a long time. She was pale, and 
looked very weary, and somewhat sick. She gazed upon her child, 
sleeping in her arms, with that peculiar look which only a mother pos- 
sesses who nurses her own child. Her form was climisily masked by 
a large blue handkerchief folded across her bosom. Her hands were 
tanned and spotted with freckles, the forefinger hardened and pricked 
with the needle ; she wore a coarse brown delaine mantle, a calico dress, 
and large heavy shoes. Her name was Fantine. 

"You have two pretty children there, madame." 

The most ferocious animals are disarmed by caresses to their young. 

The mother raised her head and thanked her, and made the stranger 
sit down on the stone step, she herself being on the doorsill: the two 
women began to talk together. 

"My name is Madame Thenardier," said the mother of the two girls : 
"we keep this inn.'' 

Then going on with her song, she sang between her teeth: 

"II le faut, je suis chevalier, 
Et je pars pour la Palestine. 


This Madame Thenardier was a red-haired, brawny, angular woman, 
of the soldier's wife type in all its horror, and, singularly enough, she 
had a lolling air which she had gained from novel-reading. She was 
still young, scarcely thirty years old. If this woman, who was seated 
stooping, had been upright, perhaps her towering form and her broad 
shoulders, those of a movable colossus, fit for a market-woman, would 
have dismayed the traveller, disturbed her confidence, and prevented 
what we have to relate. A person seated instead of standing; fate 
hangs on such a thread as that. 

The traveller told her story, a little modified. 

She said she was a working woman, and her husband was dead. 
"Not being able to procure work in Paris she was going in search of it 
elsewhere ; in her own province ; that she had left Paris that morning 
on foot; that carrying her child she had become tired, and meeting 

36 Les Miserables 

the Villemomble stage had got in ; that from Villemomble she had come 
on foot to Montfermeil; that the child had walked a little, but not 
much, she was so young ; that she was compelled to carry her, and the 
jewel had fallen asleep. 

And at these words she gave her daughter a passionate kiss, which 
wakened her. The child opened its large blue eyes, like its mother's, 
and saw — what? ^Nothing, everything, with that serious and some- 
times severe air of little children, which is one of the mysteries of their 
shining innocence before our shadowy virtues. One would say that 
they felt themselves to be angels, and knew us to be human. Then 
the child began to laugh, and, although the mother restrained her, 
slipped to the ground, with the indomitable energy of a little one that 
wants to run about. All at once she perceived the two others in their 
swing, stopped short, and put out her tongue in token of admiration. 

Mother Thenardier untied the children and took them from the swing, 
saying : 

^Tlay together, all three of you." 

At that age acquaintance is easy, and in a moment the little Then- 
ardiers were playing with the new-comer, making holes in the ground 
to their intense delight. 

This new-comer was very sprightly: the goodness of the mother is 
written in the gaiety of the child; she had taken a splinter of wood, 
which she used as a spade, and was stoutly digging a hole fit for a fly. 

The two women continued to chat. 

^What do you call your child?'' 


For Cosette read Euphrasie. The name of the little one was Eu- 
phrasie. But the mother had made Cosette out of it, by that sweet 
and charming instinct of mothers and of the people, who change Josef a 
into Pepita, and Frangoise into Sillette. That is a kind of derivation 
which deranges and disconcerts all the science of etymologists. We 
knew a grandmother who succeeded in making from Theodore, Gnon. 

"She is going on three years." 

"The age of my oldest." 

The three girls were grouped in an attitude of deep anxiety and 
bliss; a great event had occurred; a large worm had come out of the 
ground ; they were afraid of it, and yet in ecstasies over it. 

Fantine 37 

Their bright foreheads touched each other: three heads in one halo 
of glory. 

^^Children/' exclaimed the Thenardier mother ; "how soon they know 
one another. See them! One would swear they were three sisters." 

These words were the spark which the other mother was probably 
awaiting. She seized the hand of Madame Thenardier and said : 

"Will you keep my child for me?" 

Madame Thenardier made a motion of surprise, which was neither 
consent nor refusal. 

Cosette's mother continued: 

"You see I cannot take my child into the country. Work forbids 
it. With a child I could not find a place there; they are so absurd 
in that district. It is God who has led me before your inn. The sight 
of your little ones, so pretty, and clean, and happy, has overwhelmed 
me. I said: there is a good mother; they will be like three sisters, 
and then it will not be long before I come back. Will you keep my 
child for me ?" 

"I must think over it," said Thenardier. 

"I will give six francs a month." 

Here a man's voice was heard from within : 

"^ot less than seven francs, and six months paid in advance." 

"Six times seven are forty-two," said Thenardier. 

"I will give it," said the mother. 

"And fifteen francs extra for the first expenses," added the man. 

"That's fifty-seven francs," said Madame Thenardier, and in the 
midst of her reckoning she sang indistinctly: 

"II le faut, disait un guerrier.^' 

"I will give it," said the mother ; "I have eighty francs. That will 
leave me enough to go into the country if I walk. I will earn some 
money there, and as soon as I have I will come for my little love." 

The man's voice returned : 

"Has the child a wardrobe?" 

"That is my husband," said Thenardier. 

"Certainly she has, the poor darling. I knew it was your husband. 
And a fine wardrobe it is too, an extravagant wardrobe, everything in 
dozens, and silk dresses like a lady. They are there in my carpet-bag." 

38 Les Miserables 

"You must leave that here," put in the man's voice. 

"Of course I shall give it to you/' said the mother; "it would be 
strange if I should leave my child naked/' 

The face of the master appeared. 

"It is all right/' said he. 

The bargain was concluded. The mother passed the night at the inn, 
gave her money and left her child, fastened again her carpet-bag, 
diminished by her child's wardrobe, and very light now, and set off 
next morning, expecting soon to return. These partings are arranged 
tranquilly, but they are full of despair. 

A neighbour of the Thenardiers met this mother on her way, and 
came in, saying: 

"I have just met a woman in the street, who was crying as if her 
heart would break." 

When Cosette's mother had gone, the man said to his wife : 

"That will do me for my note of 110 francs which falls due to- 
morrow; I was fifty francs short. Do you know I should have had a 
sheriff and a protest ? You have proved a good mousetrap with your 
little ones." 

"Without knowing it,'^ said the woman. 


To be wicked does not insure prosperity — ^for the inn did not succeed 

Thanks to Fantine's fifty-seven francs, Thenardier had been able 
to avoid a protest and to honour his signature. The next month they 
were still in need of money, and the woman carried Cosette's wardrobe 
to Paris and pawned it for sixty francs. When this sum was spent, 
the Thenardiers began to look upon the little girl as a child which 
they sheltered for charity, and treated her as such. Her clothes be- 
ing gone, they dressed her in the cast-off garments of the little Then- 
ardiers, that is in rags. They fed her on the orts and ends, a little 
better than the dog, and a little worse than the cat. The dog and cat 
were her messmates. Cosette ate with them under the table in a wooden 
dish like theirs. 

Her mother, as we shall see hereafter, who found a place at M 

Fantine 3^ 

sur M wrote, or rather had some one write for her, every month, 

inquiring news of her child. The Thenardiers replied invariably: 

"Cosette is doing wonderfully well." 

The six months passed away: the mother sent seven francs for the 
seventh month, and continued to send this sum regularly month after 
month. The year was not ended before Thenardier said: "A pretty 
price that is. What does she expect us to do for her seven francs?" 
And he wrote demanding twelve francs. The mother, whom he per- 
suaded that her child was happy and doing well, assented, and for- 
warded the twelve francs. 

There are certain natures which cannot have love on one side with- 
out hatred on the other. This Thenardier mother passionately loved 
her own little ones: this made her detest the young stranger. It is 
sad to think that a mother's love can have such a dark side. Little as 
was the place Cosette occupied in the house, it seemed to her that this 
little was taken from her children, and that the little one lessened the 
air hers breathed. This woman, like many women of her kind, had a 
certain amount of caresses, and blows, and hard words to dispense each 
day. If she had not had Cosette, it is certain that her daughters idol- 
ised as they were, would have received all, but the little stranger did 
them the service to attract the blows to herself; her children had only 
the caresses. Cosette could not stir that she did not draw down upon 
herself a hailstorm of undeserved and severe chastisements. A weak, 
soft little one who knew nothing of this world, or of God, continually 
ill-treated, scolded, punished, beaten, she saw beside her two other 
youiig things like herself, who lived in a halo of glory! 

The woman was unkind to Cosette, Eponine and Azelma were unkind 
also. Children at that age are only copies of the mother; the size is 
reduced, that is all. 

A year passed and then another. 

People used to say in the village : 

"What good people these Thenardiers are ! They are not rich, and 
yet they bring up a poor child, that has been left with them." 

They thought Cosette was forgotten by her mother. 

Meantime Thenardier, demanded fifteen francs a month, saying 
"that the 'creature' was growing and eating," and threatening to send 
her away. The mother paid the fifteen francs. 

40 Les Miserables 

From year to year the child grew, and her misery also. 

So long as Cosette was very small, she was the scapegoat of the two 
other children ; as soon as she began to grow a little, that is to say, be- 
fore she was ^Ye years old, she became the servant of the house. 

Cosette was made to run of errands, sweep the rooms, the yard, the 
street, wash the dishes, and even carry burdens. The Thenardiers felt 
doubly authorised to treat her thus, as the mother, who still remained 

at M sur M , began to be remiss in her payments. Some 

months remained due. 

Had this mother returned to Montfermeil, at the end of these three 
years, she would not have known her child. Cosette, so fresh and 
pretty when she came to that house, was now thin and wan. She had a 
peculiar restless air. Sly ! said the Thenardiers. 

Injustice had made her sullen, and misery had made her ugly. Her 
fine eyes only remained to her, and they were painful to look at, for, 
large as they were, they seemed to increase the sadness: 

It was a harrowing sight to see in the winter time the poor child, 
not yet six years old, shivering under the tatters of what was once a 
calico dress, sweeping the street before daylight with an enormous 
broom in her little red hands and tears in her large eyes. 

In the place she was called the Lark. People like figurative names 
and were pleased thus to name this little being, not larger than a bird, 
trembling, frightened, and shivering, awake every morning first of 
all in the house and the village, always in the street or in the fields 
before dawn. 

Only the poor lark never sang. 



What had become of this mother, in the meanwhile, who, according to 
the people of Montfermeil, seemed, to have abandoned her child ? where 
was she ? what was she doing ? 

After leaving her little Cosette with the Thenardiers, she went on her 
way and arrived at M sur M . 

Fantine 41 

This, it will be remembered, was in 1818. 

Within about two years there had been accomplished there one of 
those industrial changes which are the great events of small com- 

This circumstance is important and we think it well to relate it, we 
might even say to italicise it. 

From time immemorial the special occupation of the inhabitants of 

M sur M • had been the imitation of English jets and German 

black glass trinkets. The business had always been dull in consequence 
of the high price of the raw material, which reacted upon the manufac- 
ture. At the time of Fantine' s return to M sur M an entire 

transformation had been effected in the production of these 'black 
goods.' Towards the end of the year 1815, an unknown man estab- 
lished himself in the city, and had conceived the idea of substituting 
gum-lac for resin in the manufacture ; and for bracelets, in particular, 
he made the clasps by simply bending the ends of the metal together 
instead of soldering them. 

This very slight change had worked a revolution. 

This very slight change had in fact reduced the price of the raw 
material enormously, and this had rendered it possible, first, to raise 
the wages of the labourer — a benefit to the country — secondly, to im- 
prove the quality of the goods — an advantage for the consumer — and 
thirdly, to sell them at a lower price even while making three times the 
profit — a gain for the manufacturer. 

Thus we have three results from one idea. 

In less than three years the inventor of this process had become rich, 
which was well, and had made all around him rich, which was better. 
He was a stranger in the Department. Nothing was knovni of his 
birth, and but little of his early history. 

The story went that he came to the city with very little money, 
a few hundred francs at most. 

From this slender capital, under the inspiration of an ingenious 
idea, made fruitful by order and care, he had drawn a fortune for him- 
self, and a fortune for the whole region. 

On his arrival at M sur M he had the dress, the manners, 

and the language of a labourer only. 

It seems that the very day on which he thus obscurely entered the 

42 Les Miserables 

little city of M sur M , just at dusk on a December evening, 

with his bundle on his back, and a thorn stick in his hand, a great 
fire had broken out in the town-house. This man rushed into the fire, 
and saved, at the peril of his life, two children, who proved to be 
those of the captain of the gendarmerie, and in the hurry and gratitude 
of the moment no one thought to ask him for his passport. He was 
known from that time by the name of Father Madeleine. 


He was a man of about fifty, who always appeared to be preoccupied 
in mind, and who was good-natured; this was all that could be said 
about him. 

Thanks to the rapid progress of this manufacture, to which he had 

given such wonderful life, M sur M had become a considerable 

centre of business. Immense purchases were made there every year 
for the Spanish markets, where there is a large demand for jet work, 

and M sur M , in this branch of trade, almost competed with 

London and Berlin. The profits of Father Madeleine were so great 
that by the end of the second year he was able to build a large factory, 
in which there were two immense workshops, one for men and the 
other for women: whoever was needy could go there and be sure of 
finding work and wages. Father Madeleine required the men to be 
willing, the women to be of good morals, and all to be honest. 

At length, in 1819, it was reported in the city one morning, that 
upon the recommendation of the prefect, and in consideration of the 
services he had rendered to the country, Father Madeleine had been 

appointed by the king. Mayor of M sur M . Those who had 

pronounced the new-comer "an ambitious man," eagerly seized this op- 
portunity, which all men desire, to exclaim : 

"There ! what did I tell you V 

M sur M was filled with the rumour, and the report 

proved to be well founded, for, a few days afterwards, the nomination 
appeared in the Moniteur. The next day Father Madeleine declined. 

In 1820, ^Ye years after his arrival at M sur M , the serv- 
ices that he had rendered to the region were so brilliant and the wish 
of the whole population was so unanimous, that the king again ap- 

Fantine ^3 

pointed him mayor of the city. He refused again; but the prefect 
resisted his determination, the principal citizens came and urged him 
to accept, and the people in the streets begged him to do so; all in- 
sisted so strongly that at last he yielded. It was remarked that what 
appeared most of all to bring him to this determination, was the al- 
most angry exclamation of an old woman belonging to the poorer class, 
who cried out to him from her door-stone, with some temper : 

"A good mayor is a good thing. Are you afraid of the good you 
can do V 


Little by little in the lapse of time all opposition had ceased. At 
first there had been, as always happens with those who rise by their 
own efforts, slanders and calumnies against Monsieur Madeleine, soon 
this was reduced to satire, then it was only wit, then it vanished en- 
tirely; respect became complete, unanimous, cordial, and there came 
a moment, about 1821, when the words Monsieur the Mayor were pro- 
nounced at M sur M with almost the same accent as the words 

Monseigneur the Bishop at D in 1815. People came from thirty 

miles around to consult Monsieur Madeleine. He settled differences, 
he prevented lawsuits, he reconciled enemies. Everybody, of his own 
will, chose him for judge. He seemed to have the book of the natural 
law by heart. A contagion of veneration had, in the course of six or 
seven years, step by step, spread over the whole country. 

Often, when Monsieur Madeleine passed along the street, calm, 
affectionate, followed by the benedictions of all, it happened that a 
tall man, wearing a flat hat and an iron-grey coat, and armed with a 
stout cane, would turn around abruptly behind him, and follow him 
with his eyes until he disappeared, crossing his arms, slowly shaking 
his head, and pushing his upper with his under lip up to his nose, 
a sort of significant grimace which might be rendered by : "But what 
is that man? I am sure I have seen him somewhere. At all events, 
I at least am not his dupe." 

This personage, grave with an almost threatening gravity, was one 
of those who, even in a hurried interview, command the attention of 
the observer. 

4^ Les Miserables 

His name was Javert, and he was one of the police. 

He exercised at M sur M the unpleasant, but useful, func- 
tion of inspector. He was not there at the date of Madeleine's 
arrival. Javert owed his position to the protection of Monsieur Cha- 
bouillet, the secretary of the Minister of State, Count Angles, then pre- 
fect of police at Paris. When Javert arrived at M sur M 

the fortune of the great manufacturer had been made already, and 
Eather Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine. 

The human face of Javert consisted of a snub nose, with two deep 
nostrils, which were bordered by large bushy whiskers that covered 
both his cheeks. One felt ill at ease the first time he saw those two 
forests and those two caverns. When Javert laughed, which was 
rarely and terribly, his thin lips parted, and showed, not only his 
teeth, but his gums ; and around his nose there was a wrinkle as broad 
and wild as the muzzle of a fallow deer. Javert, when serious, was 
a bull-dog; when he laughed, he was a tiger. For the rest, a small 
head, large jaws, hair hiding the forehead and falling over the eye- 
brows, between the eyes a permanent central frown, a gloomy look, 
a mouth pinched and frightful, and an air of fierce command. 

Such was this formidable man. 

Javert was like an eye always fixed on Monsieur Madeleine; an 
eye full of suspicion and conjecture. Monsieur Madeleine finally 
noticed it, but seemed to consider it of no consequence. He asked 
no question of Javert, he neither sought him nor shunned him, he 
endured this unpleasant and annoying stare without appearing to pay 
any attention to it. He treated Javert as he did everybody else, at 
ease and with kindness. 

From some words that Javert had dropped, it was guessed that he 
had secretly hunted up, with that curiosity which belongs to his race, 
and which is more a matter of instinct than of will, all the traces of his 
previous life which Father Madeleine had left elsewhere. He appeared 
to know, and he said sometimes in a covert way, that somebody had 
gathered certain information in a certain region about a certain miss- 
ing family. Once he happened to say, speaking to himself. "I think 
I have got him!'' Then for three days he remained moody without 
speaking a word. It appeared that the clue which he thought he had 
was broken. 

© Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 

Fantine ^^ 

But, and this is the necessary corrective to what the meaning of 
certain words may have presented in too absolute a sense, there can 
be nothing really infallible in a human creature, and the very pe- 
culiarity of instinct is that it can be disturbed, followed up, and 
routed. Were this not so it would be superior to intelligence, and the 
beast would be in possession of a purer light than man. 

Javert was evidently somewhat disconcerted by the completely 
natural air and the tranquillity of Monsieur Madeleine. 

One day, however, his strange manner appeared to make an im- 
pression upon Monsieur Madeleine. The occasion was this: 


Monsieur Madeleine was walking one morning along one of the un- 

paved alleys of M sur M ; he heard a shouting and saw a 

crowd at a little distance. He went to the spot. An old man, named 
Father Fauchelevent, had fallen under his cart, his horse being thrown 

This Fauchelevent was one of the few who were still enemies of 
Monsieur Madeleine at this time. When Madeleine arrived in the 
place, the business of Fauchelevent, who was a notary of long-standing, 
and very well-read for a rustic, was beginning to decline. Fauchele- 
vent had seen this mere artisan grow rich, while he himself a pro- 
fessional man, had been going to ruin. This had filled him with 
jealousy, and he had done what he could on all occasions to injure 
Madeleine. Then came bankruptcy, and the old man, having nothing 
but a horse and cart, as he was without family, and without children, 
was compelled to earn his living as a carman. 

The horse had his thighs broken, and could not stir. The old man 
was caught between the wheels. Unluckily he had fallen so that the 
whole weight rested upon his breast. The cart was heavily loaded. 
Father Fauchelevent was uttering doleful groans. They had tried to 
pull him out, but in vain. An unlucky effort, inexpert help, a false 
push, might crush him. It was impossible to extricate him otherwise 
than by raising the waggon from beneath. Javert, who came up at 
the moment of the accident, had sent for a jack. 

Monsieur Madeleine came. The crowd fell back with respect. 

46 Les Miserables 

"Help," cried old Eauchelevent. "Who is a good fellow to save an 
old man?" 

Monsieur Madeleine turned towards the bystanders : 

"Has anybody a jack?" 

"They have gone for one," replied a peasant. 

"How soon will it be here?" 

"We sent to the nearest place, to Flachot Place, where there is a 
blacksmith ; but it will take a good quarter of an hour at least." 

"A quarter of an hour !" exclaimed Madeleine. 

It had rained the night before, the road was soft, the cart was sink- 
ing deeper every moment, and pressing more and more on the breast 
of the old carman. It was evident that in less than five minutes his 
ribs would be crushed. 

"We cannot wait a quarter of an hour," said Madeleine to the peas- 
ants who were looking on. 

"We must !" 

"But it will be too late ! Don't you see that the waggon is sinking 
all the while ?" 

"It can't be helped." 

"Listen," resumed Madeleine, "there is room enough still under the 
waggon for a man to crawl in, and lift it with his back. In half a 
minute we will have the poor man out. Is there nobody here who has 
strength and courage ? Five louis d'ors for him !" 

^Nobody stirred in the crowd. 

"Ten louis," said Madeleine. 

The bystanders dropped their eyes. One of them muttered : "He'd 
have to be devilish stout. And then he would risk getting crushed." 

"Come," said Madeleine, "twenty louis." 

The same silence. 

"It is not willingness which they lack," said a voice. 

Monsieur Madeleine turned and saw Javert. He had not noticed 
him when he came. 

Javert continued : 

"It is strength. He must be a terrible man who can raise a waggon 
like that on his back." 

Then, looking fixedly at Monsieur Madeleine, he went on emphasis- 
ing every word that he uttered: 

Fantine ^'^ 

"Monsieur Madeleine, I have known but one man capable of doing 
what you call for." 

Madeleine shuddered. 

Javert added, with an air of indifference, but without taking his 
eyes from Madeleine : 

"He was a convict." 

"Ah!" said Madeleine. 

"In the galleys at Toulon." 

Madeleine became pale. 

Meanwhile the cart was slowly settling down. Father Eauchelevent 
roared and screamed: 

"I am dying! my ribs are breaking! a jack! anything! oh!" 

Madeleine looked around him: 

"Is there nobody, then, who wants to earn twenty louis and save 
this poor old man's life." 

ISTone of the bystanders moved. Javert resumed : 

"I have known but one man who could take the place of a jack; 
that was that convict." 

"Oh ! how it crushes me !" cried the old man. 

Madeleine raised his head, met the falcon eye of Javert still fixed 
upon him, looked at the immovable peasants, and smiled sadly. Then, 
without saying a word, he fell on his knees, and even before the crowd 
had time to utter a cry, he was under the cart. 

There was an awful moment of suspense and of silence. 

Madeleine, lying almost flat under the fearful weight, was twice 
seen to try in vain to bring his elbows and knees nearer together. They 
cried out to him: "Father Madeleine! come out from there!" Old 
Eauchelevent himself said : "Monsieur Madeleine ! go away ! I must 
die, you see that ; leave me ! you will be crushed too." Madeleine made 
no answer. 

The bystanders held their breath. The wheels were still sinking 
and it had now become almost impossible for Madeleine to extricate 

All at once the enormous mass started, the cart rose slowly, the wheels 
came half out of the ruts. A smothered voice was heard, crying: 
"Quick ! help !" It was Madeleine, who had just made a final effort. 

They all rushed to the work. The devotion of one man had given 

^^ Les Miserables 

strength and courage to all. The cart was lifted by twenty arms. Old 
Tauchelevent was safe. 

Madeleine arose. He was very pale, though dripping with sweat. 
His clothes were torn and covered with mud. All wept. The old man 
kissed his knees and called him the good God. He himself wore on 
his face an indescribable expression of joyous and celestial suffering, 
and he looked with tranquil eye upon Javert, who was still watching 


There is in all small cities, and there was at M sur M in 

particular, a set of young men who nibble their fifteen hundred livres 
of income in the country with the same air with which their fellows 
devour two hundred thousand francs a year at Paris. They are be- 
ings of the great neuter species; geldings, parasites, nobodies, who 
have a little land, a little folly, and a little wit, who would be clowns 
in a drawing-room, and think themselves gentlemen in a bar-room, who 
talk about "my fields, my woods, my peasants," hiss the actresses at the 
theatre to prove that they are persons of taste, quarrel with the officers 
of the garrison to show that they are gallant, hunt, smoke, gape, drink, 
take snuff, play billiards, stare at passengers getting out of the coach, 
live at the cafe, dine at the inn, hold fast to a sou, overdo the fashions, 
admire tragedy, despise women, wear out their old boots, copy London 
as reflected from Paris, and Paris as reflected from Pont-a-Mousson, 
grow stupid as they grow old, do no work, do no good, and not much 

Eight or ten months after what has been related in the preceding 
pages, in the early part of January, 1823, one evening when it had 
been snowing, one of these dandies, one of these idlers, a "well- 
intentioned" man, for he wore a morillo, very warmly wrapped 
in one of those large cloaks which completed the fashionable cos- 
tume in cold weather, was amusing himself with tormenting a creature 
who was walking back and forth before the window of the officers' 

Every time that the woman passed before him, he threw out at her, 
with a puff of smoke from his cigar, some remark which he thought 

Fantine 49 

was witty and pleasant, as : ^'How ugly you are !" "Are you trying 
to hide ?" "You have lost your teeth !" etc., etc. This gentleman's 
name was Monsieur Bamatabois. The woman, a rueful, bedizened 
spectre, who was walking backwards and forwards upon the snow, did 
not answer him, did not even look at him, but continued her walk in 
silence and with a dismal regularity that brought her under his sar- 
casm every five minutes, like the condemned soldier who at stated 
periods returns under the rods. This failure to secure attention doubt- 
less piqued the loafer, who, taking advantage of the moment when she 
turned, came up behind her with a stealthy step and stifling his laugh- 
ter, stooped down, seized a handful of snow from the side walk, and 
threw it hastily into her back between her naked shoulders. The girl 
roared with rage, turned, bounded like a panther, and rushed upon the 
man, burying her nails in his face. It was Fantine. 

At the noise which this made, the ofiicers came out of the cafe, a 
crowd gathered, and a large circle was formed, laughing, jeering, and 
applauding, around this centre of attraction composed of two beings 
who could hardly be recognized as a man and a woman, the man de- 
fending himself, his hat knocked off, the woman kicking and striking, 
her head bare, shrieking, livid with wrath, and horrible. 

Suddenly a tall man advanced quickly from the crowd, seized the 
woman by her muddy satin waist, and said : "Follow me !" 

The woman raised her head ; her furious voice died out at once. Her 
eyes were glassy, from livid she had become pale, and she shuddered 
with a shudder of terror. She recognised Javert. 

The dandy profited by this to steal away. 


Javert dismissed the bystanders, broke up the circle, and walked 
off rapidly towards the Bureau of Police, which is at the end of the 
square, dragging the poor creature after him. She made no resis- 
tance, but followed mechanically. ]!^either spoke a word. The flock 
of spectators, in a paroxysm of joy, followed with their jokes. 

When they reached the Bureau of Police, which was a low hall 
warmed by a stove, and guarded by a sentinel, with a grated window 
looking on the street, Javert opened the door, entered with Fantine, 

so Les Miserables 

and closed the door behind him, to the great disappointment of the curi- 
ous crowd who stood upon tiptoe and stretched their necks before the 
dirty window of the guard-house, in their endeavours to see. Curiosity 
is a kind of glutton. To see is to devour. 

On entering Fantine crouched down in a corner motionless and 
silent, like a frightened dog. 

The sergeant of the guard placed a lighted candle on the table. 
Javert sat down, drew from his pocket a sheet of stamped paper, and 
began to write. 

When he had finished, he signed his name, folded the paper, and 
handed it to the sergeant of the guard, saying: "Take three men, 
and carry this girl to jail." Then turning to Fantine: "You are in 
for six months." 

The hapless woman shuddered. 

"Six months ! six months in prison !" cried she. "Six months to 
earn seven sous a day ! but what will become of Cosette ! my daughter ! 
my daughter! Why, I still owe more than a hundred francs to the 
Thenardiers, Monsieur Inspector, do you know that ?" 

She dragged herself along on the floor, dirted by the muddy boots 
of all these men, without rising, clasping her hands, and moving rapidly 
on her knees. 

"Monsieur Javert," said she, "I beg your pity. I assure you that 
I was not in the wrong. If you had seen the beginning, you would have 
seen. I swear to you by the good God that I was not in the wrong. 
That gentleman, whom I do not know, threw snow in my back. Have 
they the right to throw snow into our backs when we are going along 
quietly like that without doing any harm to anybody ? That made me 
wild. I am not very well, you see ! and then he had already been say- 
ing things to me for some time. 'You are homely!' 'You have no 
teeth !' I know too well that I have lost my teeth. I did not do any- 
thing; I thought: 'He is a gentleman who is amusing himself.' I 
was not immodest with him, I did not speak to him. It was then that 
he threw the snow at me. Monsieur Javert, my good Monsieur In- 
spector! was there no one there who saw it and can tell you that this 
is true! I perhaps did wrong to get angry. You know, at the first 
moment, we cannot master ourselves. We are excitable. And then, 
to have something so cold thrown into your back when you are not 

Fan tine 5i 

expecting it. I did wrong to spoil the gentleman's hat. Why has he 
gone away ? I would ask his pardon. Oh ! I would beg his pardon. 
Have pity on me now this once, Monsieur Javert. O my Cosette, O 
my little angel of the good, blessed Virgin, what will she become, poor 
famished child! I tell you the Thenardiers are inn-keepers, boors, 
they have no consideration. They must have money. Do not put me 
in prison! Do you see, she is a little one that they will put out on 
the highway, to do what she can, in the very heart of winter ; you must 
feel pity for such a thing, good Monsieur Javert. If she were older, 
she could earn her living, but she cannot at such an age. Have pity 
on me, Monsieur Javert. 

She talked thus, bent double, shaken with sobs, blinded by tears, 
her neck bare, clenching her hands, coughing with a dry and short 
cough, stammering very feebly with an agonised voice. Great grief 
is a divine and terrible radiance which transfigures the wretched. At 
that moment Fantine had again become beautiful. At certain instants 
she stopped and tenderly kissed the policeman's coat. She would have 
softened a heart of granite ; but you cannot soften a heart of wood. 

"Come," said Javert, "I have heard you. Haven't you got through ? 
March off at once ! you have your six months ! the Eternal Father in 
person could do nothing for you." 

At those solemn words. The Eternal Father in person could do noth- 
ing for you, she understood that her sentence was fixed. She sank 
down murmuring: 

"Mercy !" 

Javert turned his back. 

The soldiers seized her by the arms. 

A few minutes before a man had entered without being noticed. 
He had closed the door, and stood with his back against it, and heard 
the despairing supplication of Fantine. 

When the soldiers put their hands upon the wretched being, who 
would not rise, he stepped forward out of the shadow and said : 

"One moment, if you please !" 

Javert raised his eyes and recognised Monsieur Madeleine. He took 
off his hat, and bowing with a sort of angry awkwardness : 

"Pardon, Monsieur Mayor — " 

"Inspector Javert, set this woman at liberty." 

52 Les Miserables 

"Monsieur Mayor, that cannot be done." 

"Why?" said Monsieur Madeleine. 

"This wretched woman has insulted a citizen." 

"Inspector Javert," replied Monsieur Madeleine, in a conciliating 
and calm tone, "listen. You are an honest man, and I have no ob- 
jection to explain myself to you. The truth is this. I was passing 
through the square when you arrested this woman, there was a crowd 
still there; I learned the circumstances; I know all about it; it is the 
citizen who was in the wrong, and who, by a faithful police, would 
have been arrested." 

Javert went on: 

"I obey my duty. My duty requires that this woman spend six 
months in prison." 

Monsieur Madeleine answered mildly: 

"Listen to this. She shall not a day." 

At these decisive words, Javert had the boldness to look the mayor 
in the eye, and said, but still in a tone of profound respect : 

"I am very sorry to resist Monsieur the Mayor ; it is the first time 
in my life, but he will deign to permit me to observe that I am within 
the limits of my own authority. I will speak, since the mayor desires 
it, on the matter of the citizen. Iwas there. This girl fell upon 
Monsieur Bamatabois, who is an elector and the owner of that fine 
house with a balcony, that stands at the corner of the esplanade, three 
stories high, and all of hewn stone. Indeed, there are some things in 
this world which must be considered. However that may be. Monsieur 
Mayor, this matter belongs to the police of the street; that concerns 
me, and I detain the woman Eantine." 

At this Monsieur Madeleine folded his arms and said in a severe 
tone which nobody in the city had ever yet heard : 

"The matter of which you speak belongs to the municipal police. 
By the terms of articles nine, eleven, fifteen, and sixty-six of the code 
of criminal law, I am the judge of it. I order that this woman be 
set at liberty." 

Javert endeavoured to make a last attempt. 

"But, Monsieur Mayor " 

"I refer you to article eighty-one of the law of December 13th, 1799, 
upon illegal imprisonment." 

Fantine SS 

^'Monsieur Mayor, permit-=— " 

'^Not another word." 

'^However " 

'^Retire," said Monsieur Madeleine. 

Javert received the blow, standing in front, and with open breast 
like a Eussian soldier. He bowed to the ground before the mayor, and 
went out. 

Fantine stood by the door and looked at him with stupor as he 
passed before her. 

When Javert was gone. Monsieur Madeleine turned towards her, and 
said to her, speaking slowly and with difficulty, like a man who is 
struggling that he may not weep : 

"Why did you not apply to me ? But now : I will pay your debts, 
I will have your child come to you, or you shall go to her. You shall 
live here, at Paris, or where you will. I take charge of your child 
and you. You shall do no more work, if you do not wish to. 

This was more than poor Fantine could bear. To have Cosette ! to 
live free, rich, happy, honest, with Cosette ! to see suddenly spring up 
in the midst of her misery all these realities of paradise ! She looked 
as if she were stupefied at the man who was speaking to her, and could 
only pour out two or three sobs: "Oh! oh! oh!" Her limbs gave 
way, she threw herself on her knees before Monsieur Madeleine, and, 
before he could prevent it, he felt that she had seized his hand and 
carried it to her lips. 

Then she fainted. 



Monsieur Madeleine had Fantine taken to the infirmary, which was 
in his own house. He confided her to the sisters, who put her to bed. 
A violent fever came on, and she passed a part of the night in de- 
lirious ravings. Finally, she fell asleep. 

Towards noon the following day, Fantine awoke. She heard a 
breathing near her bed, drew aside the curtain, and saw Monsieur 

^^ Les Miserables 

Madeleine standing gazing at something above his head. His look 
was full of compassionate and supplicating agony. She followed its 
direction, and saw that it was fixed upon a crucifix nailed against the 

From that moment Monsieur Madeleine was transfigured in the eyes 
of Fantine; he seemed to her clothed upon with light. He was ab- 
sorbed in a kind of prayer. She gazed at him for a long while with- 
out daring to interrupt him ; at last she said timidly : 

"What are you doing ?" 

Monsieur Madeleine had been in that place for an hour waiting 
for Fantine to awake. He took her hand, felt her pulse, and said : 

"How do you feel ?" 

"Very well. I have slept," she said. "I think I am getting better 
- — this will be nothing." 

Then he said, answering the question she had first asked him, as if 
she had just asked it : 

"I was praying to the martyr who is on high." 

And in his thought he added : "For the martyr who is here below." 

Monsieur Madeleine had passed the night and morning in inform- 
ing himself about Fantine. He knew all now, he had learned, even 
in all its poignant details, the history of Fantine. 

He went on: 

"You have suffered greatly, poor mother. Oh! do not lament, you 
have now the portion of the elect. It is in this way that mortals be- 
come angels. It is not their fault ; they do not know how to set about 
it otherwise. This hell from which you have come out is the first 
step towards Heaven. We must begin by that." 

He sighed deeply ; but she smiled with this sublime smile from which 
two teeth were gone. 

That same night, Javert wrote a letter, l^ext morning he carried 

this letter himself to the post-office of M sur M . It was 

directed to Paris and bore this address: "To Monsieur Chabouillet, 
Secretary of Monsieur the Prefect of Police." 

As the affair of the Bureau of Police had been noised about, the 
postmistress and some others who saw the letter before it was sent, 
and who recognised Javert's handwriting in the address, thought he 
was sending in his resignation. Monsieur Madeleine wrote im- 

Fantine ^^ 

mediately to the Thenardiers. Fantine owed them a hundred and 
twenty francs. He sent them three hundred francs, telling them to 

pay themselves out of it, and bring the child at once to M sur 

M , where her mother, who was sick, wanted her. 

This astonished Thenardier. 

"The Devil !' he said to his wife, "we won't let go of the child. It 
may be that this lark will become a milch cow. I guess some silly 
fellow had been smitten by the mother." 

He replied by a bill of ^ve hundred and some odd francs carefully 
drawn up. In this bill figured two incontestable items for upwards 
of three hundred francs, one of a physician and the other of an apothe- 
cary who had attended and supplied Eponine and Azelma during two 
long illnesses. Cosette, as we have said, had not been ill. This was 
only a slight substitution of names. Thenardier wrote at the bottom 
of the bill: ^'Received on account three hundred francs" 

Monsieur Madeleine immediately sent three hundred frances more, 
and wrote: "Make haste to bring Cosette." 

"Christy !'' said Thenardier, "we won't let go of the girl." 

Meanwhile Fantine had not recovered. She still remained in the 

Monsieur Madeleine came to see her twice a day, and at each visit 
she asked him: 

"Shall I see my Cosette soon?" 

He answered: 

"Perhaps to-morrow. I expect her every moment." 

And the mother's pale face would brighten. 

"Ah !" she would say, "how happy I shall be." 

We have just said she did not recover : on the contrary, her condition 
seemed to become worse from week to week. That handful of snow 
applied to the naked skin between her shoulder-blades, had caused a 
sudden check of perspiration, in consequence of which the disease, 
which had been forming for some years, at last attacked her violently. 
They were just at that time beginning in the diagnosis and treatment 
of lung diseases to follow the fine theory of Laennec. The doctor 
sounded her lungs and shook his head. 

Monsieur Madeleine said to him: 


56 Les Miserables 

"Has she not a child she is anxious to see V^ said the doctor. 


"Well then, make haste to bring her." 

Monsieur Madeleine gave a shudder. 

Fantine asked him : "What did the doctor say ?" 

Monsieur Madeleine tried to smile. 

"He told us to bring your child at once. That will restore your 

"Oh !" she cried, "he is right. But what is the matter with these 
Thenardiers that they keep my Cosette from me? Oh! She is com- 
ing I Here at last I see happiness near me." 

The Thenardiers, however, did not "let go of the child;" they gave 
a hundred bad reasons. Cosette was too delicate to travel in the winter 
time, and then there were a number of little petty debts, of which they 
were collecting the bills, etc., etc. 

"I will send somebody for Cosette," said Monsieur Madeleine, "if 
necessary, I will go myself." 

He wrote at Fantine's dictation this letter, which she signed. 

"Monsieur Thenardier: 

"You will deliver Cosette to the bearer. 
"He will settle all small debts. 
"I have the honour to salute you with consideration. 


In the meanwhile a serious matter intervened. In vain we chisel, 
as best we can, the mysterious block of which our life is made, the 
black vein of destiny reappears continually. 


One morning Monsieur Madeleine was in his office arranging for some 
pressing business of the mayoralty, in case he should decide to go to 
Montfermeil himself, when he was informed that Javert, the inspector 
of police, wished to speak with him. On hearing this name spoken, 
Monsieur Madeleine could not repress a disagreeable impression. 
Since the affair of the Bureau of Police, Javert had more than ever 
avoided him, and Monsieur Madeleine had not seen him at all. 

Fantine 5-r 

"Let him come in/' said he. 

Javert entered. 

Monsieur Madeleine remained seated near the fire, looking over a 
bundle of papers upon which he was making notes, and which con- 
tained the returns of the police patrol. He did not disturb himself at 
all for Javert : he could not but think of poor Fantine, and it was fit- 
ting that he should receive him very coldly. 

Javert respectfully saluted the mayor, who had his back towards 
him. The mayor did not look up, but continued to make notes on 
the papers. 

Javert advanced a few steps, and paused without breaking silence. 

At last the mayor laid down his pen and turned partly round : 

"Well, what is it? What is the matter, Javert?" 

Javert remained silent a moment as if collecting himself ; then raised 
his voice with a sad solemnity which did not, however, exclude 
simplicity: "There has been a criminal act committed, Monsieur 

"What act?" 

"An inferior agent of the government has been wanting in respect 
to a magistrate, in the gravest manner. I come, as is my duty, to 
bring the fact to your knowledge." 

"Who is this agent ?" asked Monsieur Madeleine. 

"I," said Javert. 


"And who is the magistrate who has to complain of this agent ?" 

"You, Monsieur Mayor." 

Monsieur Madeleine straightened himself in his chair. Javert con- 
tinued, with serious looks and eyes still cast down. 

"Monsieur Mayor, I come to ask you to be so kind as to make charges 
and procure my dismissal." 

Monsieur Madeleine, amazed, opened his mouth. Javert interrup- 
ted him : 

"You will say that I might tender my resignation, but that is not 
enough. To resign is honourable ; I have done wrong. I ought to be 
punished. I must be dismissed." 

And after a pause he added: 

S8 Les Miserables 

"Monsieur Mayor, jou were severe to me the other day, unjustly. 
Be justly so to-day." 

"Ah, indeed! why? What is all this nonsense? What does it all 
mean ? What is the criminal act committed by you* against me ? What 
have you done to me ? How have you wronged me ? You accuse your- 
self : do you wish to be relieved ?" 

"Dismissed," said Javert. 

"Dismissed it is then. It is very strange. I do not understand 

"Monsieur Mayor, six weeks ago, after that scene about that girl, 
I was enraged and I denounced you." 

"Denounced me?" 

"To the Prefecture of Police at Paris." 

Monsieur Madeleine, who did not laugh much oftener than Javert, 
began to laugh : 

"As a mayor having encroached upon the police ?" 

"As a former convict." 

The mayor became livid. 

Javert, who had not raised his eyes, continued: 

"I believed it. Por a long while I had had suspicions. A re- 
semblance, information you obtained at Faverolles, your immense 
strength; the affair of old Pauchelevent ; your skill as a marksman; 
your leg which drags a little — and in fact I don't know what other 
stupidities; but at last I took you for a man named Jean Valjean." 

"Named what? How did you call that name?" 

"Jean Valjean. He was a convict I saw twenty years ago, when 
I was adjutant of the galley guard at Toulon. After leaving the 
galleys this Valjean, it appears, robbed a bishop's palace, then he 
committed another robbery with weapons in his hands, in a highway, 
on a little Savoyard. Por eight years his whereabouts have been un- 
known, and search has been made for him. I fancied — in short, I 
have done this thing. Anger determined me, and I denounced you 
to the prefect." 

M. Madeleine, who had taken up the file of papers again, a few 
moments before, said with a tone of perfect indifference : "And what 
answer did you get?" 

"That I was crazy." 

Fantine ^^ 


"Well; they were right." 

"It is fortunate that you think so !" 

"It must be so, the real Jean Valjean has been found." 

The paper that M. Madeleine held fell from his hand ; he raised 
his head, looked steadily at Javert, and said in an inexpressible tone : 


Javert continued: 

"I will tell you how it is, Monsieur Mayor. There was, it appears, 
in the country, near Ailly-le-Haut Clocher, a simple sort of fellow who 
was called Father Champmathieu. He was very poor. Nobody paid 
any attention to him. Such folks live, one hardly knows how. 
Finally, this last fall. Father Champmathieu was arrested for stealing 

cider apples from , but that is of no consequence. There was a 

theft, a wall scaled, branches of trees broken. Our Champmathieu 
was arrested; he had even then a branch of an apple-tree in his hand. 
The rogue wa^ caged. So far, it was nothing more than a penitentiary 
matter. But here comes in the hand of Providence. The jail being 
in a bad condition, the police justice thought it best to take him to 
Arras, where the prison of the department is. In this prison at Arras 
there was a former convict named Brevet, who is there for some trifle, 
and who, for his good conduct, has been made turnkey. No sooner 
was Champmathieu set down, than Brevet cried out: ^Ha, ha! I 
know that man. He is a fagot/ ^ 

" ^Look up here, my good man. You are Jean Valjean.' 'Jean 
Valjean, who is Jean Valjean V Champmathieu plays off the astonished. 
'Don't play ignorance,' said Brevet. 'You are Jean Valjean ; you were 
in the galleys at Toulon. It is twenty years ago. We were there to- 
gether.' Champmathieu denied it all. Faith! you understand; they 
fathomed it. The case was worked up. Besides Brevet there are only 
two convicts who have seen Jean Valjean. They are convicts for 
life; their names are Cochepaille and Chenildieu. These men were 
brought from the galleys and confronted with the pretended Champ- 
mathieu. They did not hesitate. To them as well as to Brevet it was 
Jean Valjean. Same age ; fifty-four years old ; same height ; same ap- 
pearance, in fact the same man; it is he. At this time it was that 

^ Former convict. 

60 Les Miserables 

I sent my denunciation to the Prefecture at Paris. They replied that 
I was out of my mind, and that Jean Valjean was at Arras in the hands 
of Justice. You may imagine how that astonished me ; I who believed 
that I had here the same Jean Valjean. I wrote to the justice; he 
sent for me and brought Champmathieu before me." 

^'Well/' interrupted Monsieur Madeleine. 

Javert replied, with an incorruptible and sad face: 

"Monsieur Mayor, truth is truth. I am sorry for it, but that man 
is Jean Valjean. I recognised him also." 

Monsieur Madeleine said in a very low voice : 

"Are you sure ?" 

Javert began to laugh with the suppressed laugh which indicates 
profound conviction. 

"H'm, sure!" 

He remained a moment in thought, mechanically taking up pinches 
of the powdered wood used to dry ink, from the box on the table, and 
then added: 

"And now that I see the real Jean Valjean, I do not understand 
how I ever could have believed anything else. I beg your pardon. 
Monsieur Mayor." 

In uttering these serious and supplicating words to him, who six 
weeks before had humiliated him before the entire guard, and had said 
"Retire!" Javert, this haughty man, was unconsciously full of sim- 
plicity and dignity. Monsieur Madeleine answered his request, by this 
abrupt question: 

"And what did the man say?" 

"Oh, bless me! Monsieur Mayor, the affair is a bad one. If it is 
Jean Valjean, it is a second offence. To climb a wall, break a branch, 
and take apples, for a child is only a trespass ; for a man it is a mis- 
demeanour; for a convict it is a crime. Scaling a wall and theft 
includes everything. It is not a case for a police court, but for the 
assizes. It is not a few days' imprisonment, but the galleys for life. 
And then there is the affair of the little Savoyard, who I hope will be 
found. Oh, the rascal is cunning ! But it is all the same, there is the 
evidence. Four persons have recognised him, and the old villain will 
be condemned. It has been taken to the assizes at Arras. I am going 
to testify. I have been summoned." 

Fantine ^1 

Monsieur Madeleine had turned again to his desk, and was quietly 
looking over his papers, reading and writing alternately, like a man 
pressed with business. He turned again towards Javert : 

^^Did you not tell me you were going to Arras in eight or ten days 
on this matter?'' 

"Sooner than that. Monsieur Mayor." 

"What day then ?" 

" I think I told monsieur that the case would be tried to-morrow, 
and that I should leave by the diligence to-night." 

Monsieur Madeleine made an imperceptible motion. 

"And how long will the matter last ?" 

"One day at longest. Sentence will be pronounced at latest to- 
morrow evening. But I shall not wait for the sentence, which is cer- 
tain; as soon as my testimony is given I shall return here." 

"Very well," said Monsieur Madeleine. 

And he dismissed him with a wave of his hand. 

Javert did not go. 

"Your pardon, monsieur," said he. 

"What more is there ?" asked Monsieur Madeleine. 

"Monsieur Mayor, there is one thing more to which I desire to call 
your attention." 

"What is it ?" 

"It is that I ought to be dismissed." 

Monsieur Madeleine arose. 

"Javert you are a man of honour and I esteem you. You exaggerate 
your fault. Besides, this is an offence which concerns me. You are 
worthy of promotion rather than disgrace. I desire you to keep your 

Javert looked at Monsieur Madeleine with his calm eyes, in whose 
depths it seemed that one beheld his conscience, unenlightened, but 
stern and pure, and said in a tranquil voice: 

"Monsieur Mayor, I cannot agree to that." 

"I repeat," said Monsieur Madeleine, "that this matter concerns me." 

But Javert, with his one idea, continued: 

"As to exaggerating, I do not exaggerate. This is the way I reason. 
I have unjustly suspected you. That is nothing. It is our province 
to suspect, although it may be an abuse of our right to suspect our su- 

^2 Les Miserables 

periors. But without proofs and in a fit of anger, with revenge as my 
aim, I denounced you as a convict — ^you, a respectable man, a mayor, 
and a magistrate. This is a serious matter very serious. I have com- 
mitted an offence against authority in your person, I who am the agent 
of authority. If one of my subordinates had done what I have, I 
would have pronounced him unworthy of the service, and sent him away. 

All this was said in a tone of proud humility, a desperate and resolute 
tone, which gave an indescribably whimsical grandeur to this oddly 
honest man. 

^^We will see," said Monsieur Madeleine. 

And he held out his hand to him. 

Javert started back, and said fiercely: 

"Pardon, Monsieur Mayor, that should not be. A mayor does not 
give his hand to a spy." 

He added between his teeth : 

"Spy, yes; from the moment I abused the power of my position, 
I have been nothing better than a spy !" 

Then he bowed profoundly, and went towards the door. 

There he turned around: his eyes yet downcast. 

"Monsieur Mayor, I will continue in the service until I am relieved." 

He went out. Monsieur Madeleine sat musing, listening to his firm 
and resolute step as it died away along the corridor. 



The events which follow were never all known at M — ■■ — sur M- 

But the few which did leak out have left such memories in that city, that 
it would be a serious omission in this book if we did not relate them 
in their minutest details. 

Among these details, the reader will meet with two or three im- 
probable circumstances, which we will preserve from respect for the 

In the afternoon following the visit of Javertj M. Madeleine went 
to see Fantine as usual. 

Fantine ^^ 

Before going to Fantine^s room, he sent for Sister Simplice. 

The two nuns who attended the infirmary, Lazarists as all these 
Sisters of Charity are, were called Sister Perpetue and Sister Simplice. 

Monsieur Madeleine took Sister Simplice aside and recommended 
Fantine to her with a singular emphasis, which the sister remembered 
at a later day. 

On leaving the sister he approached Fantine. 

Fantine awaited each day the appearance of Monsieur Madeleine 
as one awaits a ray of warmth and of joy. She would say to the sisters: 
"I live only when the Mayor is here.'' 

That day she had more fever. As soon as she saw Monsieur Made- 
leine, she asked him : 


He answered with a smile: 

"Very soon." 

Monsieur Madeleine, while with Fantine, seemed the same as usual. 
Only he stayed an hour instead of half an hour, to the great satis- 
faction of Fantine. He made a thousand charges to everybody that 
the sick woman might want for nothing. It was noticed that at one 
moment his countenance became very sombre. But this was explained 
when it was known that the doctor had, bending close to his ear, said 
to him: '^She is sinking fast." 

Then he returned to the mayor's office, and the office boy saw him 
examine attentively a road-map of France which hung in his room. He 
made a few figures in pencil upon a piece of paper. 


From the mayor's office he went to the outskirts of the city, to 
a Fleming's, Master Scaufflaer, Frenchified into Scaufflaire, who kept 
horses to let and "chaises if desired." 

In order to go to Scaufflaire's, the nearest way was by a rarely fre- 
quented street, on which was the parsonage of the parish in which 
Monsieur Madeleine lived. The cure was, it was said, a worthy and 
respectable man, and a good counsellor. At the moment when Mon- 
sieur Madeleine arrived in front of the parsonage, there was but one 
person passing in the street, and he remarked this: the mayor, after 


6^ Les Miserables 

passing by the cure's house, stopped, stood still a moment, then turned 
back and retraced his steps as far as the door of the parsonage, which 
was a large door with an iron knocker. He seized the knocker quickly 
and raised it ; then he stopped anew, stood a short time as if in thought, 
and after a few seconds, instead of letting the knocker fall smartly, he 
replaced it gently, and resumed his walk with a sort of haste that he had 
not shown before. 

Monsieur Madeleine found Master Scaufflaire at home busy repair- 
ing a harness. 

^Master Scaufflaire," he asked, "have you a good horse?" 
'Monsieur Mayor," said the Fleming, "all my horses are good. 
What do you understand by a good horse ?" 

"I understand a horse that can go twenty leagues in a day." 

"The devil !" said the Fleming, "twenty leagues !" 


"Before a chaise?" 


"And how long will he rest after the journey ?" 

"He must be able to start again the next day in case of need." 

"To do the same thing again ?" 


"The devil ! and it is twenty leagues ?" 

Monsieur Madeleine drew from his pocket the paper on which he had 
pencilled the figures. He showed them to the Fleming. They were 
the figures, 5, 6, 8%. 

'^ou see," said he. "Total, nineteen and a half, that is to say 
twenty leagues." 

"Monsieur Mayor," resumed the Fleming, "I have just what you 
want. My little white horse, you must have seen him sometimes pass- 
ing; he is a little beast from Bas-Boulonnais. He is full of fire. 

"And he will make the trip?" 

"Your twenty leagues, all the way at a full trot, and in less than 
eight hours. But there are some conditions." 

"Name them." 

"First, you must let him breathe an hour when you are half way; 
he will eat, and somebody must be by while he eats to prevent the tavern 

Fantine 6S 

boy from stealing his oats ; for I have noticed that at taverns, oats are 
oftener drunk bj the stable boys than eaten by the horses." 

"Somebody shall be there." 

"Secondly — is the chaise for Monsieur the Mayor?" 


"Monsieur the Mayor knows how to drive ?" 


"Well, Monsieur the Mayor will travel alone and without baggage, so 
as not to overload the horse." 


"But Monsieur the Mayor, having no one with him, will be obliged 
to take the trouble of seeing to the oats himself." 

"So said." 

"I must have thirty francs a day, the day he rests included. N^ot 
a penny less, and the fodder of the beast at the expense of Monsieur the 

Monsieur Madeleine took three Kapoleons from his purse and laid 
them on the table. 

"There is two days, in advance. 

"Fourthly, for such a trip, a chaise would be too heavy ; that would 
tire the horse. Monsieur the Mayor must consent to travel in a little 
tilbury that I have." 

"I consent to that." 

"It is light, but it is open." 

"It is all the same to me." 

"Has Monsieur the Mayor reflected that it is winter?" 

Monsieur Madeleine did not answer; the Fleming went on: 

"That it is very cold ?" 

Monsieur Madeleine kept silence. 

Master Scaufflaire continued: 

"That it may rain?" 

Monsieur Madeleine raised his head and said : 

"The horse and the tilbury will be before my door to-morrow at half- 
past four in the morning." 

"That is understood. Monsieur Mayor," answered Scaufflaire, 
then scratching a stain on the top of the table with his thumb nail, he 

^^ Les Miserables 

resumed with that careless air that Flemings so well know how to 
associate with their shrewdness : 

"Why, I have just thought of it ! Monsieur the Mayor has not told 
me where he is going. Where is Monsieur the Mayor going?'' 

He had thought of nothing else since the beginning of the conversa- 
tion, but without knowing why, he had not dared to ask the question. 

"Has your horse good forelegs?" said Monsieur Madeleine. 

"Yes, Monsieur Mayor. You will hold him up a little going down- 
hill. Is there much downhill between here and where you are going V^ 

"Don't forget to be at my door precisely at half-past four in the morn- 
ing," answered Monsieur Madeleine, and he went out. 

The Fleming was left "dumb-founded," as he said himself some time 

The mayor had been gone two or three minutes, when the door again 
opened ; it was the mayor. 

He had the same impassive and absent-minded air as ever. 

"Monsieur Scaufflaire," said he, "at what sum do you value the horse 
and tilbury that you furnish me, the one carrying the other ?" 

"The one drawing the other. Monsieur Mayor," said the Fleming 
with a loud laugh. 

"As you like. How much?" 

"Does Monsieur the Mayor wish to buy them ?" 

"No, but at all events I wish to garrantee them to you. On my re- 
turn you can give me back the amount. At how much do you value 
horse and chaise ?" 

"Five hundred francs, Monsieur Mayor!" 

"Here it is." 

Monsieur Madeleine placed a banknote on the table, then went 
out, and this time did not return. 

Master Scaufflaire regretted terribly that he had not said a thousand 
francs. In fact, the horse and tilbury, in the lump, were worth a hun- 
dred crowns. 

The Fleming called his wife and related the affair to her. Where 
the deuce could the mayor be going? They talked it over. "He is 
going to Paris," said the wife. *'I don't believe it," said the husband. 
Monsieur Madeleine had forgotten the paper on which he had marked 

Fantine ^'^ 

the figures, and left it on the mantel. The Fleming seized it and 
studied it. Five, six, eight and a half? this must mean the relays 
of the post. He turned to his wife : "I have found it out." *^How ?" 
"It is ^Ye leagues from here to Hesdin, six from Hesdin to Saint Pol, 
eight and a half from Saint Pol to Arras. He is going to Arras.'' 

Meanwhile Monsieur Madeleine had reached home. To return from 
Master Scaufflaire's he had taken a longer road, as if the door of the 
parsonage were a temptation to him, and he wished to avoid it. He 
went up to his room, and shut himself in, which was nothing remark- 
able, for he usually went to bed early. However, the janitress of the 
factory, who was at the same time Monsieur Madeleine's only servant, 
observed that his light was out at half-past eight, and she mentioned 
it to the cashier who came in, adding : 

"Is Monsieur the Mayor sick? I thought that his manner was a 
little singular." 

The cashier occupied a room situated exactly beneath Monsieur 
Madeleine's. He paid no attention to the portress's words, went to 
bed, and went to sleep. Towards midnight he suddenly awoke; he 
had heard, in his sleep, a noise overhead. He listened. It was a step 
that went and came, as if someone were walking in the room above. 
He listened more attentively, and recognised Monsieur Madeleine's 
step. That appeared strange to him; ordinarily no noise was made 
in Monsieur Madeleine's room before his hour of rising. A moment 
afterwards, the cashier heard something that sounded like the opening 
and shutting of a wardrobe, then a piece of furniture was moved, there 
was another silence, and the step began again. The cashier rose up in 
bed, threw off his drowsiness, looked out, and through his window-panes, 
saw upon an opposite wall the ruddy reflection of a lighted window. 
From the direction of the rays, it could only be the window of Monsieur 
Madeleine's chamber. The reflection trembled as if it came rather 
from a bright fire than from a light. The shadow of the sash could 
not be seen, which indicated that the window was wide open. Cold 
as it was, this open window was surprising. The cashier fell asleep 
again. An hour or two afterwards he awoke again. The same step, 
slow and regular, was coming and going constantly over his head. 

The reflection continued visible upon the wall, but it was now pale 

^8 Les Miserables 

and steady like the light from a lamp or a candle. The window was 
still open. 

Let us see what was passing in Monsieur Madeleine's room. 


The reader has doubtless divined that Monsieur Madeleine is none 
other than Jean Valjean. 

We have but little to add to what the reader already knows, con- 
cerning what had happened to Jean Valjean, since his adventure with 
Petit Gervais. From that moment, we have seen, he was another man. 
What the bishop had desired to do with him, that he had executed. It 
was more than a transformation — it was a transfiguration. 

He succeeded in escaping from sight, sold the bishop's silver, keep- 
ing only the candlesticks as souvenirs, glided quietly from city to city 

across France, came to M — — sur M , conceived the idea that we 

have described, accomplished what we have related, gained the point 
of making himself unassailable and inaccessible, and thenceforward, 

established at M sur M , happy to feel his conscience saddened 

by his past, and the last half of his existence giving the lie to the first, 
he lived peaceable, reassured, and hopeful, having but two thoughts: 
to conceal his name, and to sanctify his life; to escape from men 
and to return to God. 

IsTever had the two ideas that governed the unfortunate man whose 
sufferings we are relating, engaged in so serious a struggle. He com- 
prehended this confusedly, but thoroughly, from the first words that 
Javert pronounced on entering his office. At the moment when that 
name which he had so deeply buried was so strangely uttered, he was 
seized with stupor, and as if intoxicated by the sinister grotesqueness 
of his destiny, and through that stupor he felt the shudder which 
precedes great shocks ; he bent like an oak at the approach of a storm, 
like a soldier at the approach of an assault. He felt clouds full of 
thunderings and lightnings gathering upon his head. Even while 
listening to Javert, his first thought was to go, to run, to denounce 
himself, to drag this Champmathieu out of prison, and to put himself 
in his place ; it was painful and sharp as an incision into the living flesh, 
but passed away, and he said to himself: 'Tet us see! Let us see!" 

Fantine ^^ 

He repressed this first generous impulse and recoiled before such 

Doubtless it would have been fine if, after the holy words of the 
bishop, after so many years of repentance and self-denial, in the midst 
of a penitence admirably commenced, even in the presence of so terri- 
ble a conjecture, he had not faltered an instant, and had continued to 
march on with even pace towards that yawning pit at the bottom of 
which was heaven ; this would have been fine, but this was not the case. 
We must render an account of what took place in that soul, and we can 
relate only what was there. What first gained control was the instinct 
of self preservation ; he collected his ideas hastily, stifled his emotions, 
took into consideration the presence of Javert, the great danger, post- 
poned any decision with the firmness of terror, banished from his mind 
all consideration of the course he should pursue, and resumed his 
calmness as a gladiator retakes his buckler. 

For the rest of the day he was in this state, a tempest within, a 
perfect calm without ; he took only what might be called precautionary 
measures. All was still confused and jostling in his brain ; the agita- 
tion there was such that he did not see distinctly the form of any idea ; 
and he could have told nothing of himself, unless it were that he had 
just received a terrible blow. He went according to his habit to the 
sick bed of Fantine, and prolonged his visit, by an instinct of kind- 
ness, saying to himself that he ought to do so, and recommend her 
earnestly to the sisters, in case it should happen that he would have 
to be absent. He felt vaguely that it would perhaps be necessary for 
him to go to Arras ; and without having in the least decided upon this 
journey, he said to himself that, entirely free from suspicion as he 
was, there would be no difiiculty in being a witness of what might pass, 
and he engaged Scaufflaire's tilbury, in order to be prepared for any 

He dined with a good appetite. 

Returning to his room he collected his thoughts. 

He examined the situation and found it an unheard-of one; so 
unheard-of that in the midst of his revery, by some strange impulse 
of almost inexplicable anxiety, he rose from his chair, and bolted his 
door. He feared lest something might yet enter. He barricaded him- 
self against all possibilities. 

'^^ Les Miserables 

A moment afterwards he blew out his light. It annoyed him. 

It seemed to him that somebody could see him. 

Who ? Somebody ? 

Alas! what he wanted to keep out of doors had entered; what he 
wanted to render blind was looking upon him. His conscience. 

His conscience, that is to say, God. 

At the first moment, however, he deluded himself ; he had a feeling 
of safety and solitude; the bolt drawn, he believed himself invisible. 
Then he took possession of himself; he placed his elbows on the table, 
rested his head on his hand, and set himself to meditating in the 

"Where am I ? Am I not in a dream ? What have I heard ? Is 
it really true that I saw this Javert, and that he talked to me so ? Who 
can this Champmathieu be ? He resembles me then ? Is it possible ? 
When I think that yesterday I was so calm, and so far from suspecting 
anything ! What was I doing yesterday at this time ? What is there 
in this matter ? How will it turn out ? What is to be done ?" 

The first hour thus rolled away. 

Little by little, however, vague outlines began to take form and to 
^x themselves in his meditation ; he could perceive, with the precision 
of reality, not the whole of the situation, but a few details. 

It seemed to him that he had just awaked from some wondrous slum- 
ber, and that he found himself gliding over a precipice in the middle 
of the night, standing, shivering, recoiling in vain, upon the very edge 
of an abyss. He perceived distinctly in the gloom an unknown man, 
a stranger, whom fate had mistaken for him, and was pushing into the 
gulf in his place. It was necessary, in order that the gulf should be 
closed, that some one should fall in, he or the other. 

He had only to let it alone. 

The light became complete, and he recognised this : That his place 
at the galleys was empty, that do what he could it was always await- 
ing him, that the robbing of Petit Gervais sent him back there, that 
his empty place would await him and attract him until he should be 
there, that this was inevitable and fatal. And then he said to him- 
self : That at this very moment he had a substitute, that it appeared 
that a man named Champmathieu had that unhappy lot, and that, as 
for himself, present in future at the galleys in the person of this 

Fantine -^1 

Champmathieu, present in society under the name of Monsieur Made- 
leine, he had nothing more to fear, provided he did not prevent men 
from sealing upon the head of this Champmathieu that stone of in- 
famy which, like the stone of the sepulchre, falls once never to rise 

All this was so violent and so strange that he suddenly felt that kind 
of indescribable movement that no man experiences more than two 
or three times in his life, a sort of convulsion of the conscience that 
stirs up all that is dubious in the heart, which is composed of irony, 
of joy, and of despair, and which might be called a burst of interior 

He hastily relighted his candle. 

For the first time within eight years, the unhappy man had just 
tasted the bitter flavour of a wicked thought and a wicked action. 

He spit it out with disgust. 

He continued to question himself. He sternly asked himself what 
he had understood by this: ^^My object is attained." He declared 
that his life, in truth, did have an object. But what object ? to con- 
ceal his name ? to deceive the police ? was it for so petty a thing that 
he had done all that he had done? had he no other object, which was 
the great one, which was the true one? To save, not his body, but 
his soul. To become honest and good again. To be an upright man ! 
was it not that above all, that alone, which he had always wished, and 
which the bishop had enjoined upon him? To close the door on his 
past ? But he was not closing it, great God ! he was re-opening it by 
committing an infamous act! for he became a robber again, and the 
most odious of robbers! he robbed another of his existence, his life, 
his peace, his place in the world, he became an assassin ! he murdered, 
he murdered in a moral sense a wretched man, he inflicted upon him 
that frightful life in death, that living burial, which is called the 
galleys! on the contrary, to deliver himself up, to save this man 
stricken by so ghastly a mistake, to reassume his name, to become 
again from duty the convict Jean Valjean ; that was really to achieve 
his resurrection, and to close for ever the hell from whence he had 
emerged ! to fall back into it in appearance, was to emerge in reality ! 
he must do that ! all he had done was nothing, if he did not do that ! 
all hi» life was useless, all his suffering was lost. He had only to ask 

"^^ Les Miserables 

the question : "What is the use ?" He felt that the bishop was there, 
that the bishop was present all the more that he was dead, that the 
bishop was looking fixedlj at him, that henceforth Mayor Madeleine 
with all his virtues would be abominable to him, and the galley slave, 
Jean Yaljean, would be admirable and pure in his sight. That men 
saw his mask, but the bishop saw his face. That men saw his life, 
but the bishop saw his conscience. He must then go to Arras, deliver 
the wrong Jean Valjean, denounce the right one. Alas! that was the 
greatest of sacrifices, the most poignant of victories, the final step to be 
taken, but he must do it. Mournful destiny ! he could only enter 
into sanctity in the eyes of God, by returning into infamy in the eyes 
of men! 

"Well," said he, "let us take this course ! let us do our duty ! Let 
us save this man !'' 

He pronounced these words in a loud voice, without perceiving that 
he was speaking aloud. 

He took his books, verified them, and put them in order. He threw 
into the fire a package of notes which he held against needy small 
traders. He wrote a letter, which he sealed, and upon the envelope of 
which might have been read, if there had been any one in the room 
at the time: Monsieur Laffitte, hanker^ Rue d'Artois, Paris, 

He drew from a secretary a pocket-book containing some banknotes 
and the passport that he had used that same year in going to the 

Had any one seen him while he was doing these various acts with 
such serious meditation, he would not have suspected what was passing 
within him. Still at intervals his lips quivered ; at other times he 
raised his head and fixed his eye on some point of the wall, as if he 
saw just there something that he wished to clear up or to interrogate. 

The letter to Monsieur Laffitte finished, he put it in his pocket as 
well as the pocket-book, and began his walk again. 

The current of his thought had not changed. He still saw his duty 
clearly written in luminous letters which flared out before his eyes, and 
moved with his gaze: *'Go! avow thy name! denounce thyself T' 

At another moment, the idea occurred to him that, if he should de- 
nounce himself, perhaps the heroism of his action, and his honest life 

Fantine "^^ 

for the past seven years, and what he had done for the country, would 
be considered, and he would be pardoned. 

But this supposition quickly vanished, and he smiled bitterly at the 
thought, that the robbery of the forty sous from Petit Gervais made 
him a second offender, that the matter would certainly reappear, and 
by the precise terms of the law he would be condemned to hard labour 
for life. 

His blood rushed violently to his temples. He walked back and 
forth constantly. Midnight was struck first from the parish church, 
then from the city hall. He counted the twelve strokes of the two 
clocks, and he compared the sound of the two bells. It reminded him 
that, a few days before, he had seen at a junkshop an old bell for sale, 
upon which was this name: Antoine Alhin de Romainville, 

He was cold. He kindled a fire. He did not think to close the 

Meanwhile he had fallen into his stupor again. It required not a 
little effort to recall his mind to what he was thinking of before the 
clocks struck. He succeeded at last. 

"Ah! yes,'^ said he, "I had formed the resolution to denounce 

Denounce himself, great God! Give himself up! He saw with 
infinite despair all that he must leave, all that he must resume. He 
must then bid farewell to this existence, so good, so pure, so radiant; 
to this respect of all, to honour, to liberty ! ^o more would he go out 
to walk in the fields, never again would he hear the birds singing in 
the month of May, never more give alms to the little children! ISTo 
longer would he feel the sweetness of looks of gratitude and of love ! 
He would leave this house that he had built, this little room ! Every- 
thing appeared charming to him now. He would read no more in 
these books, he would write no more on this little white wood table! 
His old portress, the only servant he had, would no longer bring him 
his coffee in the morning. Great God! instead of that, the galley- 
crew, the iron collar, the red blouse, the chain at his foot, fatigue, the 
dungeon, the plank-bed, all these horrors, which he knew so well ! At 
his age, after having been what he was ! If he were still young ! But 
so old, to be insulted by the first comer, to be tumbled about by the 

74 Les Miserablcs 

prison guard, to be struck by the jailor's- stick! To have his bare 
feet in iron-bound shoes! To submit morning and evening his leg 
to the hammer of the roundsman who tests the fetters! To endure 
the curiosity of strangers who would be told: This one is the famous 
Jean Vol jean, who was Mayor of M — — sur M / At night, drip- 
ping with sweat, overwhelmed with weariness, the green cap over his 
eyes, to mount two by two, under the sergeant's whip, the step-ladder 
of the floating prison. Oh, what wretchedness ! Can destiny then be 
malignant like an intelligent being, and become monstrous like the 
human heart? 


The clock struck three. For ^ye hours he had been walking thus, 
almost without interruption, when he dropped into his chair. 
He fell asleep and dreamed. 

He awoke. He was chilly. A wind as cold as the morning wind 
made the sashes of the still open window swing on their hinges. The 
fire had gone out. The candle was low in the socket. The night was 
yet dark. 

He arose and went to the window. There were still no stars in the 

From his window he could look into the court-yard and into the 
street. A harsh, rattling noise that suddenly resounded from the 
ground made him look down. 

He saw below him two red stars, whose rays danced back and forth 
grotesquely in the shadow. 

His mind was still half buried in the mist of his reverie : "Yes !" 
thought he, "there are none in the sky. They are on the earth 

This confusion, however, faded away; a second noise like the first 
awakened him completely; he looked, and he saw that these two stars 
were the lamps of a carriage. By the light which they emitted, he 
could distinguish the form of a carriage. It was a tilbury drawn by 
a small white horse. The noise which he had heard was the sound 
of the horse's hoofs upon the pavement. 

Fantine '^^ 

^^What carriage is that ?" said he to himself. "Who is it that comes 
so early?" 

At that moment there was a low rap at the door of his room. 

He shuddered from head to foot and cried in a terrible voice : 

"Who is there V 

Some one answered: 

"I, Monsieur Mayor." 

He recognised the voice of the old woman, his portress. 

"Well," said he, "what is it r 

"Monsieur Mayor, it is just ^ve o'clock." 

"What is that to me ?" 

"Monsieur Mayor, it is the chaise." 

"What chaise?" 

"The tilbury." 

"What tilbury?" 

"Did not Monsieur the Mayor order a tilbury ?" 

"No," said he. 

"The driver says that he has come for Monsieur the Mayor." 

"What driver?" 

"Monsieur Scaufflaire's driver." 

"Monsieur Scaufflaire ?" 

That name startled him as if a flash had passed before his face. 

"Oh, yes !' he said, "Monsieur Scaufflaire !" 

Could the old woman have seen him at that moment she would have 
been frightened. 

There was a long silence. He examined the flame of the candle 
with a stupid air, and took some of the melted wax from around the 
wick and rolled it in his fingers. The old woman was waiting. She 
ventured, however, to speak again: 

"Monsieur Mayor, what shall I say?" 

"Say that it is right, and I am coming down." 


The postal service from Arras to M sur M was still per- 
formed at this time by the little mail waggons of the date of the 
empire. These mail waggons were two-wheeled cabriolets, lined with 

'^^ Les Miserables 

buckskin, hung upon jointed springs, and having but two seats, one 
for the driver, the other for the traveller. The wheels were armed 
with those long threatening hubs which keep other vehicles at a dis- 
tance, and which are still seen upon the roads of Germany. The 
letters were carried in a huge oblong box placed behind the cabriolet 
and making a part of it. This box was painted black and the cabriolet 

These vehicles, which nothing now resembles, were indescribably 
misshapen and clumsy, and when they were seen from a distance crawl- 
ing along some road in the horizon, they were like those insects called, 
I think, termites, which with a slender body draw a great train be- 
hind. They went, however, very fast. The mail that left Arras every 
night at one o'clock, after the passing of the courier from Paris, 
arrived at M sur M a little before ^ve in the morning. 

That night the mail that came down to M sur M by the 

road from Hesdin, at the turn of a street just as it was entering the 
city, ran against a little tilbury drawn by a white horse, which was 
going in the opposite direction, and in which there was only one per- 
son, a man wrapped in a cloak. The wheel of the tilbury received a 
very severe blow. The courier cried out to the man to stop, but the 
traveller did not listen and kept on his way at a rapid trot. 

"There is a man in a devilish hurry !" said the courier. 

The man who was in such a hurry was he whom we have seen 
struggling in such pitiable convulsions. 

Where was he going? He could not have told. Why was he in 
haste ? He did not know. He went forward at haphazard. Whither ? 
To Arras, doubtless; but perhaps he was going elsewhere also. At 
moments he felt this, and he shuddered. He plunged into that dark- 
ness as into a yawning gulf. Something pushed him, something drew 
him on. What was passing within him, no one could describe, all will 
understand. What man has not entered, at least once in his life, into 
this dark cavern of the unknown ? 

At daybreak he was in the open country; the city of M sur 

M was a long way behind. He saw the horizon growing lighter ; 

he beheld, without seeing them, all the frozen figures of a winter dawn 
pass before his eyes. Morning has its spectres as well as evening. He 
did not see them, but, without his consciousness, and by a kind of pene- 

Fantine T7 

tration which was almost physical, those black outlines of trees and 
hills added to the tumultuous state of his soul in indescribable gloom 
and apprehension. 

Every time he passed one of the isolated houses that stood here and 
there by the side of the road, he said to himself : "But yet, there are 
people who are sleeping!'' 

The trotting of the horse, the rattling of the harness, the wheels 
upon the pavement, made a gentle, monotonous sound. These things 
are charming when one is joyful, and mournful when one is sad. 

It was broad day when he arrived at Hesdin. He stopped before 
an inn to let his horse breathe and to have some oats given him. 

This horse was, as Scaufflaire had said, of that small breed of the 
Boulonnais which has too much head, too much belly, and not enough 
neck, but which has an open chest, a large rump, fine and slender legs, 
and a firm foot; a homely race, but strong and sound. The excellent 
animal had made ^ve leagues in two hours, and had not turned a 


It was nearly eight o'clock in the evening when the carriole drove 
into the yard of the Hotel de la Poste at Arras. The man whom we 
have followed thus far, got out, answered the hospitalities of the inn's 
people with an absent-minded air, then he opened the door of a billiard- 
room on the first floor, took a seat, and leaned his elbows on the table. 

The landlady entered. 

"Will monsieur have a bed ? will monsieur have supper ?" 

He shook his head. 

"The stable-boy says that monsieur's horse is very tired!" 

Here he broke silence. 

"Is not the horse to start again to-morrow morning?" 

"Oh ! monsieur ! he needs at least two days' rest." 

He asked: 

"Is not the Bureau of the Post here?" 

"Yes, sir." 

The hostess led him to the Bureau ; he showed his passport and in- 
quired if there were an opportunity to return that very night to M ^ 

'^S Les Miserables 

sur M by the mail coach; only one seat was vacant, that by the 

side of the driver; he retained it and paid for it. "Monsieur," said 
the booking clerk, ^^don't fail to be here ready to start at precisely one 
o'clock in the morning.'' 

This done, he left the hotel and began to walk in the city. 

He was not acquainted in Arras, the streets were dark, and he went 
haphazard. J^evertheless he seemed to refrain obstinately from ask- 
ing his way. He crossed the little river Crinchon, and found himself 
in a labyrinth of narrow streets, where he was soon lost. A citizen 
came along with a lantern. After some hesitation, he determined to 
speak to this man, but not until he had looked before and behind, as 
if he were afraid that somebody might overhear the question he was 
about to ask. 

"Monsieur," said he, "the court house, if you please?" 

"You are not a resident of the city, monsieur," answered the citizen, 
who was an old man, "well, follow me, I am going right by the court 
house, that is to say, the city hall. For they are repairing the court 
house just now, and the courts are holding their sessions at the city 
hal], temporarily." 

"Is it there," asked he, "that the assizes are held?" 

"Certainly, monsieur ; you see, what is the city hall to-day was the 
bishop's palace before the revolution. Monsieur de Conzie, who was 
bishop in 'eighty-two, had a large hall built. The court is held in that 

As they walked along, the citizen said to him: 

"If monsieur wishes to see a trial, he is rather late. Ordinarily 
the sessions close at six o'clock." 

However, when they reached the great square, the citizen showed 
him four long lighted windows on the front of a vast dark building. 

"Faith, monsieur, you are in time, you are fortunate. Do you see 
those four windows? that is the court of assizes. There is a light 
there. Then they have not finished. The case must have been pro- 
longed and they are having an evening session. Are you interested in 
this case ? Is it a criminal trial ? Are you a witness ?" 

He answered: 

"I have no business; I only wish to speak to a lawyer." 

Fantine "^^ 


That's another thing/' said the citizen. ^^Stop, monsieur, here is 
the door. The doorkeeper is up there. You have only to go up the 
grand stairway." 

He followed the citizen's instructions, and in a few minutes found 
himself in a hall where there were many people, and scattered groups 
of lawyers in their robes whispering here and there. 

An officer stood near the door which opened into the court-room. 
He asked this officer: 

"Monsieur, will the door be opened soon?" 

"It will not be opened," said the officer. 

"How! it will not be opened when the session is resumed? is there 
not a recess?" 

"The session has just been resumed," answered the officer, "but the 
door will not be opened again." 

"Why not ?" 

"Because the hall is full." 

"What! there are no more seats?" 

"Not a single one. The door is closed. !N'o one can enter." 

The officer added, after a silence: "There are indeed two or three 
places still behind Monsieur the Judge, but Monsieur the Judge 
admits none but public functionaries to them." 

So saying, the officer turned his back. 

He retired with his head bowed down, crossed the ante-chamber, 
and walked slowly down the staircase, seeming to hesitate at every 
step. It is probable that he was holding counsel with himself. The 
violent combat that had been going on within him since the previous 
evening was not finished ; and, every moment, he fell upon some new 
turn. When he reached the turn of the stairway, he leaned against 
the railing and folded his arms. Suddenly he opened his coat, drew 
out his pocket-book, took out a pencil, tore out a sheet, and wrote 
rapidly upon that sheet, by the glimmering light, this line : Monsieur 

Madeleine, Mayor of M sur M ; then he went up the stairs 

again rapidly, passed through the crowd, walked straight to the officer, 
handed him the paper, and said to him with authority: "Carry that 
to Monsieur the Judge." 

The officer took the paper, cast his eye upon it, and obeyed. 

80 Les Miserables 


The Judge of the Royal Court of Douai, who was holding this term 
of the assizes at Arras, was familiar, as well as everybody else, with 
this name so profoundly and so universally honoured. When the officer, 
quietly opening the door which led from the counsel chamber to the 
court room, bent behind the judge's chair and handed him the paper, 
on which was written the line we have just read, adding: "This 
gentleman desires to witness the trial/' the judge made a hasty move- 
ment of deference, seized a pen, wrote a few words at the bottom of the 
paper and handed it back to the officer, saying to him: "Let him 

The unhappy man, whose history we are relating, had remained 
near the door of the hall, in the same place and the same attitude as 
when the officer had left him. He heard, through his thoughts, some 
one saying to him : "Will monsieur do me the honour to follow me ?" 
It was the same officer who had turned his back upon him the minute 
before, and who now bowed to the earth before him. The officer at 
the same time handed him the paper. He unfolded it, and, as he 
happened to be near the lamp, he could read : 

"The Judge of the Court of Assizes presents his respects to Monsieur 

He crushed the paper in his hands, as if those few words had left 
some strange bitter taste behind. 

He followed the officer. 

In a few minutes he found himself alone in a kind of panelled 
cabinet, of a severe appearance, lighted by two wax candles placed 
upon a table covered with green cloth. The last words of the officer 
who had left him still rang in his ear : "Monsieur, you are now in the 
counsel chamber; you have but to turn the brass knob of that door 
and you will find yourself in the court room, behind the judge's chair." 
These words were associated in his thoughts with a vague remembrance 
of the narrow corridors and dark stairways through which he had just 

The officer had left him alone. The decisive moment had arrived. 
He endeavoured to collect his thoughts, but did not succeed. At those 
hours especially when we have sorest need of grasping the sharp 

Fantine 81 

realities of life do the threads of thought snap off in the brain. He 
was in the very place where the judges deliberate and decide. He be- 
held with a stupid tranquillity that silent and formidable room where 
so many existences had been terminated, where his own name would 
be heard so soon, and which his destiny was crossing at this moment. 
He looked at the walls, then he looked at himself, astonished that this 
could be this chamber, and that this could be he. 

He had eaten nothing for more than twenty-four hours; he was 
bruised by the jolting of the carriole, but he did not feel it ; it seemed 
to him that he felt nothing. 

He examined a black frame which hung on the wall, and which con- 
tained under glass an old autograph letter of Jean Nicolas Pache, 
Mayor of Paris, and Minister, dated, doubtless by mistake, June 9th, 
year II., in which Pache sent to the Commune the list of the ministers 
and deputies held in arrest within their limits. A spectator, had he 
seen and watched him then, would have imagined, doubtless, that this 
letter appeared very remarkable to him, for he did not take his eyes 
off from it, and he read it two or three times. He was reading with- 
out paying any attention, and without knowing what he was doing. 
He was thinking of Pantine and Cosette. 

Even while musing, he turned unconsciously, and his eyes en- 
countered the brass knob of the door which separated him from the 
hall of the assizes. He had almost forgotten that door. His counten- 
ance, at first calm, now fell. His eyes were fixed on that brass knob, 
then became set and wild and little by little filled with dismay. Drops 
of sweat started out from his head, and rolled down over his temples. 

At one moment he made, with a kind of authority united to rebel- 
lion, that indescribable gesture which means and which so well says: 
Well! who is there to compel me? Then he turned quickly, saw be- 
fore him the door by which he had entered, went to it, opened it, and 
went out. He was no longer in that room; he was outside, in a 
corridor, a long, narrow corridor, cut up with steps and side-doors, 
making all sorts of angles, lighted here and there by lamps hung on the 
wall similar to nurse-lamps for the sick; it was the corridor by which 
he had come. He drew breath and listened ; no sound behind him, no 
sound before him; he ran as if he were pursued. 

When he had doubled several of the turns of this passage, he listened 

S2 Les Miserables 

again. There was still the same silence and the same shadow ahout 
him. He was out of breath, he tottered, he leaned against the wall. 
The stone was cold; the sweat was icy upon his forehead; he roused 
himself with a shudder. 

Then and there, alone, standing in that obscurity, trembling with 
cold and, perhaps, with something else, he reflected. 

He had reflected all night, he had reflected all day; he now heard 
but one voice within him, which said: "Alas!" 

A quarter of an hour thus rolled away. Finally, he bowed his head, 
sighed with anguish, let his arms fall, and retraced his steps. He 
walked slowly and as if overwhelmed. It seemed as if he had been 
caught in his flight and brought back. 

He entered the counsel chamber again. The first thing that he saw 
was the handle of the door. That handle, round and of polished brass, 
shone out before him like an ominous star. He looked at it as a lamb 
might look at the eye of a tiger. 

His eyes could not move from it. 

From time to time, he took another step towards the door. 

Had he listened, he would have heard, as a kind of confused murmur, 
the noise of the neighbouring hall ; but he did not listen and he did not 

Suddenly, without himself knowing how, he found himself near the 
door, he seized the knob convulsively; the door opened. 

He was in the court room. 


He took a step, closed the door behind him, mechanically, and remained 
standing, noting what he saw. 

It was a large hall, dimly lighted, and noisy and silent by turns, 
where all the machinery of a criminal trial was exhibited, with its 
petty, yet solemn gravity, before the multitude. 

At one end of the hall, that at which he found himself, heedless 
judges, in threadbare robes, were biting their finger-nails, or closing 
their eyelids ; at the other end was a ragged rabble ; there were lawyers 
in all sorts of attitudes; soldiers with honest and hard faces; old, 
stained wainscoting, a dirty ceiling, tables covered with serge, which 

Fantine 83 

was more nearly yellow than green ; doors blackened by finger-marks ; 
tavern lamps, giving more smoke than light, on nails in the panelling; 
candles, in brass candlesticks, on the tables ; everywhere obscurity, un- 
sightliness, and gloom; and from all this there arose an austere and 
august impression ; for men felt therein the presence of that great hu- 
man thing which is called law, and that great divine thing which is 
called justice. 

^o man in this multitude paid any attention to him. All eyes 
converged on a single point, a wooden bench placed against a little 
door, along the wall at the left hand of the judge. Upon this bench, 
which was lighted by several candles, was a man between two gen- 

This was the man. 

He did not look for him, he saw him. His eyes went towards him 
naturally, as if they had known in advance where he was. 

He thought he saw himself, older, doubtless, not precisely the same 
in features, but alike in attitude and appearance, with that bristling 
hair, with those wild and restless eyeballs, with that blouse — just as he 

was on the day he entered D , full of hatred, and concealing in his 

soul that hideous hoard of frightful thoughts which he had spent nine- 
teen years in gathering upon the floor of the galleys. 

He said to himself, with a shudder: "Great God! shall I again 
come to this ?" 

This being appeared at least sixty years old. There was something 
indescribably rough, stupid, and terrified in his appearance. 

At the sound of the door, people had stood aside to make room. 
The judge had turned his head, and supposing the person who entered 

to be the mayor of M sur M , greeted him with a bow. The 

prosecuting attorney, who had seen Madeleine at M sur M , 

whither he had been called more than once by the duties of his ofiice, 
recognised him and bowed likewise. He scarcely perceived them. He 
gazed about him, a prey to a sort of hallucination. 

Judges, clerk, gendarmes, a throng of heads, cruelly curious — he 
had seen all these once before, twenty-seven years ago. He had fallen 
again upon these fearful things ; they were before him, they moved, they 
had being; it was no longer an effort of his memory, a mirage of his 
fancy, but real gendarmes and real judges, a real throng, and real men 

84 Les Miserables 

of flesh and bone. It was done; he saw reappearing and living again 
around him, with all the frightfulness of reality, the monstrous visions 
of the past. 

All this was yawning before him. 

Stricken with horror, he closed his eyes, and exclaimed from the 
depths of his soul : ^^J^ever !" 

And by a tragic sport of destiny, which was agitating all his ideas 
and rendering him almost insane, it was another self before him. This 
man on trial was called by all around him, Jean Valjean ! 

He had before his eyes an unheard-of vision, a sort of representation 
of the most horrible moment of his life, played by his shadow. 

All, everything was there — the same paraphernalia, the same hour 
of the night — almost the same faces, judge and assistant judges, soldiers 
and spectators. But above the head of the judge was a crucifix, a 
thing which did not appear in court rooms at the time of his sentence. 
When he was tried, God was not there. 

A chair was behind him; he sank into it, terrified at the idea that 
he might be observed. When seated, he took advantage of a pile of 
papers on the judges' desk to hide his face from the whole room. He 
could now see without being seen. He entered fully into the spirit of 
the reality ; by degrees he recovered his composure, and arrived at that 
degree of calmness at which it is possible to listen. 

He looked for Javert, but did not see him. The witnesses' seat was 
hidden from him by the clerk's table. And then, as we have just said, 
the hall was very dimly lighted. 


The prosecuting attorney was still standing; he addressed the judge: 
"Sir, in the presence of the confused but very adroit denegations 
of the accused, who endeavours to pass for an idiot, but who will not 
succeed in it — we will prevent him — we request that it may please 
you and the court to call again within the bar, the convicts. Brevet, 
Cochepaille, and Chenildieu, and the police-inspector Javert, and 
to submit them to a final interrogation, concerning the identity of 
the accused with the convict Jean Valjean." 

"I must remind the prosecuting attorney," said the presiding judge, 

Fantine 85 

"that police-inspector Javert, recalled by his duties to the chief town of 
a neighbouring district, left the hall, and the city also, as soon as his 
testimony was taken. We granted him this permission, with the con- 
sent of the prosecuting attorney and the counsel of the accused." 

"True," replied the prosecuting attorney ; "in the absence of Monsieur 
Javert, I think it is a duty to recall to the gentlemen of the jury 
what he said here a few hours ago. Javert is an estimable man, who 
does honour to inferior but important functions, by his rigorous and 
strict probity. These are the terms in which he testified: ^I do not 
need even moral presumptions and material proofs to contradict the 
denials of the accused. I recognise him perfectly. This man's name 
is not Champmathieu ; he is a convict, Jean Valjean, very hard, and 
much feared. He was liberated at the expiration of his term, but 
with extreme regret. He served out nineteen years at hard labour for 
burglary; ia.Ye or six times he attempted to escape. Besides the Petit 
Gervais and Pierron robberies, I suspect him also of a robbery com- 
mitted on his highness, the late Bishop of D — . I often saw him when 
I was adjutant of the galley guard at Toulon. I repeat it ; I recognise 
him perfectly.' " 

This declaration, in terms so precise, appeared to produce a strong 
impression upon the public and jury. The prosecuting attorney con- 
cluded by insisting that, in the absence of Javert, the three witnesses, 
Brevet, Chenildieu, and Cochepaille, should be heard anew and solemnly 

The judge gave an order to an officer, and a moment afterwards the 
door of the witness-room opened, and the officer, accompanied by a 
gendarme ready to lend assistance, led in the convict Brevet. The 
audience was in breathless suspense, and all hearts palpitated as if they 
contained but a single soul. 

The old convict Brevet was clad in the black and grey jacket of the 
central prisons. Brevet was about sixty years old ; he had the face of 
a man of business, and the air of a rogue. They sometimes go together 
He had become something like a turnkey in the prison to which he 
had been brought by new misdeeds. He was one of those men of whom 
their superiors are wont to say, "He tries to make himself useful." The 
chaplain bore good testimony to his religious habits. It must not be 
forgotten that this happened under the Restoration. 

S^ Les Miserables 

"Brevet," said the judge, "you have suffered infamous punishment, 
and cannot take an oath." 

Brevet cast down his eyes. 

"^N^evertheless," continued the judge, "even in the man whom the 
law has degraded there may remain, if divine justice permit, a senti- 
ment of honour and equity. To that sentiment I appeal in this de- 
cisive hour. If it still exist in you, as I hope, reflect before you an- 
swer me; consider on the one hand this man, whom a word from you 
may destroy; on the other hand, justice, which a word from you may 
enlighten. The moment is a solemn one, and there is still time to re- 
tract if you think yourself mistaken. Prisoner, rise. Brevet, look 
well upon the prisoner; collect your remembrances, and say, on your 
soul and conscience, whether you still recognise this man as your former 
comrade in the galleys, Jean Valjean." 

Brevet looked at the prisoner, then turned again to the court. 

"Yes, your honour, I was the first to recognise him, and still do so. 
This man is Jean Valjean, who came to Toulon in 1796, and left in 
1815. I left a year after. He looks like a brute now, but he must 
have grown stupid with age ; at the galleys he was sullen. I recognise 
him now, positively." 

"Sit down," said the judge. "Prisoner, remain standing." 

Chenildieu was brought in, a convict for life, as was shown by his 
red cloak and green cap. He was undergoing his punishment in the 
galleys of Toulon, whence he had been brought for this occasion. He 
was a little man, about fifty years old, active, wrinkled, lean, yellow, 
brazen, restless, with a sort of sickly feebleness in his limbs and whole 
person, and immense force in his eye. His companions in the galleys 
had nicknamed him Je-nie-Dieu. 

The judge addressed nearly the same words to him as to Brevet. 
When he reminded him that his infamy had deprived him of the right 
to take an oath, Chenildieu raised his head and looked the spectators in 
the face. The judge requested him to collect his thoughts, and asked 
him, as he had Brevet, whether he still recognised the prisoner. 

Chenildieu burst out laughing. 

"Gad! do I recognise him! we were ^ye years on the same chain. 
You're sulky with me, are you, old boy ?" 

"Sit down," said the judge. 

Fantine ^'^ 

The officer brought in Cochepaille ; this other convict for life, brought 
from the galleys and dressed in red like Chenildieu, was a peasant from 
Lourdes, and a semi-bear of the Pyrenees. He had tended flocks in 
the mountains, and from shepherd had glided into brigandage. Coche- 
paille was not less uncouth than the accused, and appeared still more 
stupid. He was one of these unfortunate men whom nature turns out 
as wild beasts, and society finishes up into galley slaves. 

The judge attempted to move him by a few serious and pathetic 
words, and asked him, as he had the others, whether he still recognised 
without hesitation or difficulty the man standing before him. 

"It is Jean Valjean,'' said Cochepaille. "The same they called 
Jean-the-Jack, he was so strong." 

Each of the affirmations of these three men, evidently sincere and 
in good faith, had excited in the audience a murmur of evil augury 
for the accused — a murmur which increased in force and continuance, 
every time a new declaration was added to the preceding one. The 
prisoner himself listened to them with that astonished countenance 
which, according to the prosecution, was his principal means of de- 
fence. At the first, the gendarmes by his side heard him mutter be- 
tween his teeth : "Ah, well ! there is one of them !" After the second, 
he said in a louder tone, with an air almost of satisfaction, "Good!" 
At the third, he exclaimed, "Famous!" 

The judge addressed him: 

"Prisoner, you have listened. What have you to say ?" 

He replied : 

"I say — famous !" 

A buzz ran through the crowd and almost invaded the jury. It was 
evident that the man was lost. 

"Officers," said the judge, "enforce order. I am about to sum up 
the case." 

At this moment there was a movement near the judge. A voice was 
heard exclaiming : 

"Brevet, Chenildieu, Cochepaille, look this way!" 

So lamentable and terrible was this voice that those who heard it 
felt their blood run cold. All eyes turned towards the spot whence it 
came. A man, who had been sitting among the privileged spectators 
behind the court, had risen, pushed open the low door which separated 

^8 Les Miserables 

the tribunal from the bar, and was standing in the centre of the hall. 
The judge, the prosecuting attorney, twenty persons recognized him, 
and exclaimed at once : 
"Monsieur Madeleine !" 


It was he, indeed. The clerk's lamp lighted up his face. He held his 
hat in hand ; there was no disorder in his dress ; his overcoat was care- 
fully buttoned. He was very pale, and trembled slightly. His hair, 
already grey when he came to Arras, was now perfectly white. It 
had become so during the time that he had been there. All eyes were 
strained towards him. 

The sensation was indescribable. There was a moment of hesitation 
in the auditory. The voice had been so thrilling, the man standing 
there appeared so calm, that at first nobody could comprehend it. They 
asked who had cried out. They could not believe that this 'tranquil 
man had uttered that fearful cry. 

This indecision lasted but few seconds. Before even the judge and 
prosecuting attorney could say a word, before the gendarmes and officers 
could make a sign, the man, whom all up to this moment called Mon- 
sieur Madeleine, had advanced towards the witnesses, Cochepaille, 
Brevet, and Chenildieu. 

"Do you not recognise me ?" said he. 

All three stood confounded, and indicated by a shake of the head that 
they did not know him. Cochepaille, intimidated, gave the military 
salute. Monsieur Madeleine turned towards the jurors and court, and 
said in a mild voice : 

"Gentlemen of the jury, release the accused. Your honour, order 
my arrest. He is not the man whom you seek; it is I. I am Jean 

]^ot a breath stirred. To the first commotion of astonishment had 
succeeded a sepulchral silence. That species of religious awe was felt 
in the hall which thrills the multitude at the accomplishment of a grand 

IN'evertheless, the face of the judge was marked with sympathy and 
sadness ; he exchanged glances with the prosecuting attorney, and a few 

Fantine ^^ 

whispered words with the assistant judges. He turned to the spectators 
and asked in a tone which was understood by all : 

"Is there a physician here V^ 

The prosecuting attorney continued : 

"Gentlemen of the jury, the strange and unexpected incident which 
disturbs the audience, inspires us, as well as yourselves, with a feeling 
which we have no need to express. You all know, at least by reputa- 
tion, the honourable Monsieur Madeleine, Mayor of M sur M . 

If there be a physician in the audience, we unite with his honour the 
judge in entreating him to be kind enough to lend his assistance to 
Monsieur Madeleine and conduct him to his residence.^' 

Monsieur Madeleine did not permit the prosecuting attorney to fin- 
ish, but interrupted him with a tone full of gentleness and authority. 
These are the words he uttered; we give them literally, as they were 
written down immediately after the trial, by one of the witnesses of the 
scene — as they still ring in the ears of those who heard them, now 
nearly forty years ago. 

"I thank you. Monsieur Prosecuting Attorney, but I am not mad. 
You shall see. You were on the point of committing a great mistake ; 
release that man. I am accomplishing a duty ; I am the unhappy con- 
vict. I am the only one who sees clearly here, and I tell you the truth. 
What I do at this moment, God beholds from on high, and that is suffi- 
cient. You can take me, since I am here. !N"evertheless, I have done 
my best. I have disguised myself under another name, I have become 
rich, I have become a mayor, I have desired to enter again among hon- 
est men. It seems that this cannot be. In short, there are many 
things which I cannot tell. I shall not relate to you the story of my 
life : some day you will know it. I did rob Monsiegneur the Bishop — 
that is true; I did rob Petit Gervais — that is true. They were right 
in telling you that Jean Valjean was a wicked wretch. But all the 
blame may not belong to him. Listen, your honours ; a man so abased 
as I, has no remonstrance to make with Providence, nor advice to give 
to society ; but, mark you, the infamy from which I have sought to rise 
is pernicious to men. The galleys make the galley-slave. Peceive this 
in kindness, if you will. Before the galleys, I was a poor peasant, un- 
intelligent, a species of idiot ; the galleys changed me. I was stupid, I 
became wicked ; I was a log, I became a firebrand. Later, I was saved 

^^ Les Miserables 

by indulgence and kindness, as I had been lost by severity. Blit 
pardon, you cannot comprehend what I say. I have nothing more to 
add. Take me. Great God ! the prosecuting attorney shakes his head. 
You say ^Monsieur Madeleine has gone mad;' you do not believe me. 
This is hard to be borne. Do not condemn that man, at least. What ! 
these men do not know me ! Would that Javert were here. He would 
recognise me!" 

N'othing could express the kindly yet terrible melancholy of the tone 
which accompanied these words. 

He turned to the three convicts : 

"Well ! I recognize you. Brevet, do you remember — '' 

He paused, hesitated a moment, and said : 

"Do you remember those checkered, knit suspenders that you had in 
the galleys ?" 

Brevet started as if struck with surprise, and gazed wildly at him 
from head to foot. He continued : 

"Chenildieu, surnamed by yourself Je-nie-Dieu, the whole of your 
left shoulder has been burned deeply, from laying it one day on a chaf- 
ing dish full of embers, to efface the three letters T. F. P., which yet are 
still to be seen there. Answer me, is this true ?'' 

"It is true!'' said Chenildieu. 

He turned to Cochepaille: 

"Cochepaille, you have on your left arm, near where you have been 
bled, a date put in blue letters with burnt powder. It is the date of 
the landing of the emperor at Cannes, March 1st, 1815. Lift up your 

Cochepaille lifted up his sleeve ; all eyes around him were turned to 
his naked arm. A gendarme brought a lamp ; the date was there. 

The unhappy man turned towards the audience and the court with 
a smile, the thought of which still rends the hearts of those who wit- 
nessed it. It was the smile of triumph; it was also the smile of dis- 

"You see clearly," said he, "that I am Jean Valjean." 

There were no longer either judges, or accusers, or gendarmes in 
the hall; there were only fixed eyes and beating hearts. Nobody re- 
membered longer the part which he had to play; the prosecuting at- 
torney forgot that he was there to prosecute, the judge that he was 

Fantine ^^ 

there to preside, the counsel for the defence that he was there to defend. 
Strange to say no question was put, no authority intervened. It is the 
peculiarity of sublime spectacles that they take possession of every soul, 
and make of every witness a spectator. ]N^obody, perhaps, was posi- 
tively conscious of what he experienced; and, undoubtedly, nobody 
said to himself that he there beheld the effulgence of a great light, yet 
all felt dazzled at heart. 

It was evident that Jean Valjean was before their eyes. That fact 
shone forth. The appearance of this man had been enough fully to 
clear up the case, so obscure a moment before. Without need of any 
further explanation, the multitude, as by a sort of electric revelation, 
comprehended instantly, and at a single glance, this simple and magnifi- 
cent story of a man giving himself up that another might not be con- 
demned in his place. The details, the hesitation, the slight reluctance 
possible were lost in this immense, luminous fact. 

It was an impression which quickly passed over, but for the moment 
it was irresistible. 

"I will not disturb the proceeding further,'' continued Jean Valjean. 
"I am going, since I am not arrested. I have many things to do. 
Monsieur the prosecuting attorney knows where I am going, and will 
have me arrested when he chooses.'' 

He walked towards the outer door. Not a voice was raised, not an 
arm stretched out to prevent him. All stood aside. There was at that 
moment an indescribable divinity within him which makes the mul- 
titudes fall back and make way before a man. He passed through the 
throng with slow steps. It was never known who opened the door, but 
it is certain that the door was open when he came to it. On reaching 
it he turned and said: 

"Monsieur the Prosecuting Attorney, I remain at your disposal." 

He then addressed himself to the auditory. 

"You all, all who are here, think me worthy of pity, do you not? 
Great God, when I think of what I have been on the point of doing, I 
think myself worthy of envy. Still, would that all this had not hap- 
pened !" 

He went out, the door closed as it had opened, for those who do 
deeds sovereignly great are always sure of being served by somebody 
in the multitude. 

^2 Les Miserables 

Less than an hour afterwards, the verdict of the jury discharged 
from all accusation the said Champmathieu ; and Champmathieu, set 
at liberty, forthwith went his way stupefied, thinking all men mad, and 
understanding nothing of this vision. 



Day began to dawn. Fantine had had a feverish and sleepless night, 
yet full of happy visions ; she fell asleep at daybreak. Sister Simplice, 
who had watched with her, took advantage of this slumber to go and pre- 
pare a new potion of quinine. The good sister had been for a few mo- 
ments in the laboratory of the infirmary, bending over her vials and 
drugs, looking at them very closely on account of the mist which the 
dawn casts over all objects, when suddenly she turned her head, and 
uttered a faint cry. M. Madeleine stood before her. He had just 
come in silently. 

"You, Monsieur the Mayor!" she exclaimed. 

"How is the poor woman V He answered in a low voice. 

"Better just now. But we have been very anxious indeed." 

She explained what had happened, that Fantine had been very ill 
the night before, but was now better, because she believed that the mayor 
had gone to Montfermeil for her child. The sister dared not question 
the mayor, but she saw clearly from his manner that he had not come 
from that place. 

"That is well," said he. "You did right not to deceive her." 

"Yes," returned the sister, "but now. Monsieur the Mayor, when she 
sees you without her child, what shall we tell her ?" 

He reflected a moment, then said: 

"God will inspire us." 

"Btit, we cannot tell her a lie," murmured the sister, in a smothered 

The broad daylight streamed into the room, and lighted up the face 
of M. Madeleine. 

The sister happened to raise her eyes. 

Ml. ' 

Fantine ^^ 

"O God, monsieur," she exclaimed. "What has befallen you? 
Tour hair is all white !'' 

"White !'' said he. 

Sister Simplice had no mirror; she rummaged in a case of instru- 
ments, and found a little glass which the physician of the infirmary 
used to discover whether the breath had left the body of a patient. M. 
Madeleine took the glass, looked at his hair in it, and said, "Indeed !" 

He spoke the word with indifference, as if thinking of something else. 

The sister felt chilled by an unknown something, of which she caught 
a glimpse in all this. 

He asked: "Can I see her ?" 

"Will not Monsieur the Mayor bring back her child?" asked the sis- 
ter, scarcely daring to venture a question. 

"Certainly, but two or three days are necessary." 

"If she does not see Monsieur the Mayor here," continued the sister 
timidly, "she will not know that he has returned ; it will be easy for her 
to have patience, and when the child comes, she will think naturally that 
Monsieur the Mayor has just arrived with her. Then we will not 
have to tell her a falsehood." 

Monsieur Madeleine seemed to reflect for a few moments, then said 
with his calm gravity: 

"No, my sister, I must see her. Perhaps I have not much time." 

The nun did not seem to notice this "perhaps," which gave an obscure 
and singular significance to the words of Monsieur the Mayor. She 
answered, lowering her eyes and voice respectfully: 

"In that case, she is asleep, but monsieur can go in." 

The sister did not enter with him. He stood by the bed, with his 
finger on his lips, as if there were some one in the room to silence. 
Fantine opened her eyes, saw him, and said tranquilly, with a smile : 

"And Cosette?" 


She did not start with joy; she was joy itself. The simple question: 
"And Cosette ?" was asked with such deep faith, with so much certainty, 
with so complete an absence of disquiet or doubt, that he could find no 
word in reply. She continued: 

94 Les Miserables 

"I knew you were there ; I was asleep, but I saw you. I have seen 
you for a long time ; I have followed you with my eyes the whole night. 
You were in a halo of glory, and all manner of celestial forms were hov- 
ering around you!" 

He raised his eyes towards the crucifix. 

"But tell me, where is Cosette ?" she resumed. "Why not put her on 
my bed that I might see her the instant I woke ?" 

He answered something mechanically, which he could never after- 
wards recall. 

Happily, the physician had come and had been apprised of this. He 
came to the rescue of M. Madeleine. 

"My child," said he, "be calm, your daughter is here." 

The eyes of Fantine beamed with joy, and lighted up her whole coun- 
tenance. She clasped her hands with an expression full of the most 
violent and most gentle entreaty : 

"Oh !" she exclaimed, "bring her to me !" 

Touching illusion of the mother ; Cosette was still to her a little child 
to be carried in the arms. 

"]N'ot yet, cautioned the physician, "not at this moment. You have 
some fever still. The sight of your child will agitate you, and make 
you worse. We must cure you first." 

She interrupted him impetuously. 

"But I am cured ! I tell you I am cured ! Is this physician a fool ? 
I will see my child." 

"You see how you are carried away !" said the physician. "So long 
as you are in this state, I cannot let you have your child. It is not 
enough to see her, you must live for her. When you are reasonable, I 
will bring her to you myself." 

The poor mother bowed her head. 

"Sir, I ask your pardon. I sincerely ask your pardon. Once I 
would not have spoken as I have now, but so many misfortunes have 
befallen me that sometimes I do not know what I am saying. I under- 
stand, you fear excitement ; I will wait as long as you wish, but I am 
sure that it will not harm me to see my daughter. I see her now, I 
have not taken my eyes from her since last night. Let them bring her 
to me now, and I will just speak to her very gently. That is all. Is 

Fantine ^5 

it not very natural that I should wish to see my child, when they have 
heen to Montf enneil on purpose to hring her to me ? I am not angry. 
I know that I am going to be very happy. All night, I saw figures in 
white, smiling on me. As soon as the doctor pleases, he can bring 
Cosette. My fever is gone, for I am cured ; I feel that there is scarcely 
anything the matter with me ; but I will act as if I were ill, and do 
not stir so as to please the ladies here. When they see that I am calm, 
they will say : *You must give her the child.' " 

M. Madeleine was sitting in a chair by the side of the bed. She 
turned towards him, and made visible efforts to appear calm and ^Very 
good," as she said, in that weakness of disease which resembles child- 
hood, so that, seeing her so peaceful, there should be no objection to 
bringing her Cosette. Nevertheless, although restraining herself, she 
could not help addressing a thousand questions to M. Madeleine. 

"Did you have a pleasant journey. Monsieur the Mayor ? Oh ! how 
good you have been to go for her ! Tell me only how she is ! Did she 
bear* the journey well ? Ah ! she will not know me. In all this time, 
she has forgotten me, poor kitten ! Children have no memory. They 
are like birds. To-day they see one thing, and to-morrow another, and 
remember nothing. Tell me only, were her clothes clean ? Did those 
Thenardiers keep her neat? How did they feed her? Oh, if you 
knew how I have suffered in asking myself all these things in the time 
of my wretchedness ! Now, it is past. I am happy. Oh ! how I want 
to see her ! Monsieur the Mayor, did you think her pretty ? Is not 
my daughter beautiful? You must have been very cold in the dili- 
gence ? Could they not bring her here for one little moment ? They 
might take her away immediately. Say ! you are master here, are you 

He took her hand. "Cosette is beautiful," said he. "Cosette is 
well ; you shall see her soon, but be quiet. You talk too fast ; and then 
you throw your arms out of bed, which makes you cough." 

In fact, coughing fits interrupted Fantine at almost every word. 

She did not murmur ; she feared that by too eager entreaties she had 
weakened the confidence which she wished to inspire, and began to talk 
about indifferent subjects. 

"Montf ermeil is a pretty place, is it not ? In summer people go there 

96 Les Miserables 

on pleasure parties. Do the Thenardiers do a good business? l!Tot 
many great people pass through that country. Their inn is a kind of 

Monsieur Madeleine still held her hand and looked at her with 
anxiety. It was evident that he had come to tell her things before 
which his mind now hesitated. The physician had made his visit and 
retired. Sister Simplice alone remained with them. 

But in the midst of the silence, Fantine cried out : — 

"I hear her! Oh, darling! I hear her!" 

There was a child playing in the court — the child of the portress 
or some workwoman. It was one of those chances which are always 
met with, and which seem to make part of the mysterious representation 
of tragic events. The child, which was a little girl, was running up 
and down to keep herself warm, singing and laughing in a loud voice. 
Alas ! with what are not the plays of children mingled ! Eantine had 
heard this little girl singing. 

"Oh !" said she, "it is my Cosette I I know her voice !" 

The child departed as she had come, and the voice died away. Fan- 
tine listened for some time. A shadow came over her face, and 
Monsieur Madeleine heard her whisper, "How wicked it is of that doctor 
not to let me see my child ! That man has a bad face !" 

But yet her happy train of thought returned. With her head on 
the pillow she continued to talk to herself. "How happy we shall be ! 
We will have a little garden in the first place; Monsieur Madeleine 
has promised it to me. My child will play in the garden. She must 
know her letters now. I will teach her to spell. She will chase butter- 
flies in the grass, and I will watch her. Then there will be her first 
communion. Ah ! when will her first communion be ?" 

She began to count on her fingers. 

"One, two, three, four. She is seven years old. In ^ve years. She 
will have a white veil and open-worked stockings, and will look like 
a little lady. Oh, my good sister, you do not know how foolish I am ; 
here I am thinking of my child's first communion!'' 

And she began to laugh. 

He had let go the hand of Fantine. He listened to the words as 
one listens to the wind that blows, his eyes on the ground, and his mind 
plunged into unfathomable reflections. Suddenly she ceased speaking, 

Fantine 8* 

and raised her head mechanically. Fantine had become appalling. 

She did not speak ; she did not breathe ; she half -raised herself in the 
bed, the covering fell from her emaciated shoulders; her countenance, 
radiant a moment before, became livid, and her eyes, dilated with terror, 
seemed to fasten on something before her at the other end of the room. 

"Good God!" exclaimed he. "What is the matter Fantine?'' 

She did not answer, she did not take her eyes from the object which 
she seemed to see, but touched his arm with one hand, and with the other 
made a sign to him to look behind him. 

He turned, and saw Javert. 


Let us see what has happened. 

The half hour after midnight was striking when M. Madeleine 
left the hall of the Arras Assizes. He had returned to his inn just 
in time to take the mail-coach, in which it will be remembered he had 
retained his seat. A little before six in the morning he had reached 

M sur M , where his first care had been to post a letter to M. 

Laffitte, then go to the infirmary and visit Fantine. 

Meanwhile he had scarcely left the hall of the Court of Assizes when 
the prosecuting attorney, recovering from his first shock, addressed 

the court, deploring the insanity of the honourable Mayor of M 

sur M , declaring that his convictions were in no wise modified 

by this singular incident, which would be explained hereafter, and 
demanding the conviction of this GhampmathieU, who was evidently 
the real Jean Yaljean. The persistence of the prosecuting attorney 
was visibly in contradiction to the sentiment of all — the public, the 
court, and the jury. The counsel for the defence had little difficulty 
in answering this harangue, and establishing that, in consequence of 
the revelations of M. Madeleine — ^that is, of the real Jean Yaljean — 
the aspect of the case was changed, entirely changed, from top to bottom, 
and the jury now had before them an innocent man. The counsel drew 
from this a few passionate appeals, unfortunately not very new, in 
regard to judicial errors, etc., etc. ; the judge, in his summing up, sided 
with the defence; and the jury, after a few moments' consultation, 
acquitted Champmathieu. 

^8 Les Miserables 

But yet the prosecuting attorney must have a Jean Valjean, and 
having lost Champmathieu he took Madeleine. 

Immediately upon the discharge of Champmathieu the prosecuting 
attorney closeted himself with the judge. The subject of their con- 
ference was, "Of the necessity of the arrest of the person of Monsieur 

the Mayor of M sur M ." This sentence, in which there is a 

great deal of of, is the prosecuting attorney's, written by his own hand, 
on the minutes of his report to the Attorney-general. 

The first sensation being over, the judge made few objections. 
Justice must take its course. Then to confess the truth, although the 
judge was a kind man, and really intelligent, he was at the same time 
a strong, almost a zealous royalist, and had been shocked when the 

mayor of M sur M , in speaking of the debarkation at Cannes, 

said the Emperor, instead of Buonaparte, 

The order of arrest was therefore granted. The prosecuting attorney 
sent it to M ■■ sur M by a courier, at full speed, to police in- 
spector Javert. 

Javert was just rising when the courier brought him the warrant 
and order of arrest. 

The courier was himself a policeman, and an intelligent man ; who, 
in three words, acquainted Javert with what had happened at Arras. 

The order of arrest, signed by the prosecuting attorney, was couched 
in these terms : — 

"Inspector Javert will seize the body of Sieur Madeleine, Mayor 

of M sur M , who has this day been identified in court as the 

discharged convict Jean Yaljean." 

One who did not know Javert, on seeing him as he entered the 
hall of the infirmary, could have divined nothing of what was going on, 
and would have thought his manner the most natural imaginable. He 
was cool, calm, grave; his grey hair lay perfectly smooth over his 
temples, and he ascended the stairway with his customary deliberation. 
But one who knew him thoroughly and examined him with attention, 
would have shuddered. The buckle of his leather cravat, instead of 
being on the back of his neck, was under his left ear. This denoted 
an unheard-of agitation. 

Javert was a complete character, without a wrinkle in hia duty or 

Fantine 99 

his uniform, methodical with villains, rigid with the buttons of his 

For him to misplace the buckle of his cravat, he must have received 
one of those shocks which may well be the earthquakes of the soul. 

He came unostentatiously, had taken a corporal and four soldiers 
from a station-house near-by, had left the soldiers in the court, and 
had been shown to Fantine's chamber by the portress, without suspicion, 
accustomed as she was to see armed men asking for the mayor. 

On reaching the room of Fantine, Javert turned the key, pushed open 
the door with the gentleness of a sick-nurse, or a police spy, and en- 

Properly speaking, he did not enter. He remained standing in the 
half-opened door, his hat on his head, and his left hand in his overcoat, 
which was buttoned to the chin. In the bend of his elbow might be 
seen the leaden head of his enormous cane, which disappeared behind 

He remained thus for nearly a minute, unperceived. Suddenly, 
Fantine raised her eyes, saw him, and caused Monsieur Madeleine to 
turn around. 

At the moment when the glance of Madeleine encountered that of 
Javert, Javert, without stirring, without moving, without approaching, 
became terrible. 'No human feeling can ever be so appalling as joy. 

It was the face of a demon who had again found his victim. 


Fantine had not seen Javert since the day the mayor had wrested 
her from him. Her sick brain accounted for nothing, only she was 
sure that he had come for her. She could not endure this hideous face, 
she felt as if she were dying, she hid her face with both hands, and 
shrieked in anguish: 

^^Monsieur Madeleine, save me !'' 

Jean Yaljean, we shall call him by no other name henceforth, had 
risen. He said to Fantine in his gentlest and calmest tone : 

"Be composed ; it is not for you that he comes." 

He then turned to Javert ^nd said ; 

100 Les Miserables 

^^I know what you want." 

Javert answered: 

^^Hurrj along." 

There was in the manner in which these two words were uttered, 
an inexpressible something which reminded you of a wild beast and 
of a madman. Javert did not say "Hurry along!" he said: "Hurr- 
'long!" No orthography can express the tone in which this was pro- 
nounced ; it ceased to be human speech ; it was a howl. 

He did not go through the usual ceremony; he made no words; he 
showed no warrant. To him Jean Valjean was a sort of mysterious 
and intangible antagonist, a shadowy wrestler with whom he had been 
struggling for ^ve years, without being able to throw him. This 
arrest was not a beginning, but an end. He only said: "Hurry 
along !" 

While speaking thus, he did not stir a step, but cast upon Jean 
Valjean a look like a noose, with which he was accustomed to draw the 
wretched to him by force. 

It was the same look which Fantine had felt penetrate to the very 
marrow of her bones, two months before. 

At the exclamation of Javert, Fantine had opened her eyes again. 
But the mayor was there, what could she fear ? 

Javert advanced to the middle of the chamber, exclaiming: 

"Hey, there; are you coming?" 

The unhappy woman looked around her. There was no one but the 
nun and the mayor. To whom could this contemptuous familiarity be 
addressed? To herself alone. She shuddered. 

Then she saw a mysterious thing, so mysterious that its like had 
never appeared to her in the darkest delirium of fever. 

She saw the spy Javert seize Monsieur the Mayor by the collar ; she 
saw Monsieur the Mayor bow his head. The world seemed vanishing 
before her sight. 

Javert, in fact, had taken Jean Valjean by the collar. 

"Monsieur the Mayor !" cried Fantine. 

Javert burst into a horrid laugh, displaying all his teeth. 

"There is no Monsieur the Mayor here any longer !" said he. 

Jean Valjean did not attempt to disturb the hand which grasped the 
collar of his coat. He said : 

Fantine loi 

"Javert— " 

"Javert interrupted him : "Call me Monsieur the Inspector !" 

"Monsieur/' continued Jean Valjean, "I would like to speak a word 
with you in private." 

"Aloud, speak aloud/' said Javert, "people speak aloud to me." 

Jean Valjean went on, lowering his voice. 

"It is a request that I have to make of you — " 

"I tell you to speak aloud." 

"But this should not be heard by any one but yourself." 

"What is that to me ? I will not listen." 

Jean Valjean turned to him and said rapidly and in a very low tone : 

"Give me three days ! Three days to go for the child of this un- 
happy woman! I will pay whatever is necessary. You shall accom- 
pany me if you like." 

"Are you laughing at me !" cried Javert. "Hey ! I did not think 
you so stupid ! You ask for three days to get away, and tell me that 
you are going for this girl's child! Ha, ha, that's good! That is 
good !" 

Fantine shivered. 

"My child !" she exclaimed, "going for my child ! Then she is not 
here ! Sister, tell me, where is Cosette ? I want my child. Mon- 
sieur Madeleine, Monsieur the Mayor !" 

Javert stamped his foot. 

He gazed steadily at Fantine, and added, grasping anew the cravat, 
shirt, and coat collar of Jean Valjean : 

"I tell you that there is no Monsieur Madeleine, and that there is 
no Monsieur the Mayor. There is a robber, there is a brigand, there is 
a convict called Jean Valjean, and I have got him! That is what 
there is!" 

Fantine started upright, supporting herself by her rigid arms and 
hands; she looked at Jean Valjean, then at Javert, and then at the 
nun; she opened her mouth as if to speak; a rattle came from her 
throat, her teeth struck together, she stretched out her arms in anguish, 
convulsively opening her hands, and groping about her like one who 
is drowning; then sank suddenly back upon the pillow. 

Her head struck the head of the bed and fell forward on her breast, 
the mouth gaping, the eyes open and glazed. 

10^ Les Miserables 

She was dead. 

Jean Valjean put his hand on that of Javert which held him and 
opened it a^ he would have opened the hand of a child ; then he said : 

"You have killed this woman." 

"Have done with this!" cried Javert, furious, "I am not here to 
listen to sermons; save all that; the guard is helow; come right 
along, or the handcuffs !" 

There stood in a corner of the room an old iron bedstead in a 
dilapidated condition, which the sisters used as a camp-bed when 
they watched. Jean Valjean went to the bed, wrenched out the rickety 
head bar — a thing easy for muscles like his — in the twinkling of an 
eye, and with the bar in his clenched fist, looked at Javert. Javert 
recoiled towards the door. 

Jean Valjean, his iron bar in hand, walked slowly towards the 
bed of Fantine. On reaching it, he turned and said to Javert in a 
voice that could scarcely be heard : 

"I advise you not to disturb me now." 

I^othing is more certain than that Javert trembled. 

He had an idea of calling the guard, but Jean Valjean might 
profit by his absence to escape. He remained therefore, grasped the 
bottom of his cane, and leaned against the framework of the door 
without taking his eyes from Jean Valjean. 

Jean Valjean rested his elbow upon the post, and his head upon 
his hand, and gazed at Fantine, stretched motionless before him. 
He remained thus, mute and absorbed, evidently lost to everything 
of this life. His countenance and attitude bespoke nothing but 
inexpressible pity. 

After a few moments' reverie, he bent dovm to Fantine, and 
addressed her in a whisper. 

What did he say? What could this condemned man say to this 
dead woman ? What were these words ? They were heard by none 
on earth. Did the dead woman hear them? There are touching 
illusions which perhaps are sublime realities. One thing is beyond 
doubt; Sister Simplice, the only witness of what passed, has often 
related that, at the moment when Jean Valjean whispered in the ear 
of Fantine, she distinctly saw an ineffable smile beam on those pale lips 
and in those dim eyes, full of the wonder of the tomb. 

Fantinc 103 

Jean Valjean took Fantine's head in his hands and arranged it on 
the pillow, as a mother would have done for her child, then fastened 
the string of her night-dress, and replaced her hair beneath her cap. 
This done, he closed her eyes. 

The face of Tantine, at this instant, seemed strangely illumined. 

Death is the entrance into the great light. 

Fantine's hand hung over the side of the bed. Jean Valjean knelt 
before this hand, raised it gently, and kissed it. 

Then he rose, and, turning to Javert, said : 

"Now, I am at your disposal.'^ 


Javert put Jean Valjean in the city prison. 

The arrest of Monsieur Madeleine produced a sensation, or rather 

an extraordinary commotion, at M sur M . We are sorry 

not to be able to disguise the fact that, on this single sentence, he was 
a galley slave, almost everybody abandoned him. In less than two 
hours, all the good he had done was forgotten, and he was "nothing 
but a galley slave." It is just to say that the details of the scene 
at Arras were not yet known. All day long, conversations like this 
were heard in every part of the town: "Don't you know, he was a 
discharged convict!" "He! Who?" "The mayor." "Bah! Mon- 
sieur Madeleine." "Yes." "Indeed!" "His name was not Mad- 
eleine ; he has a horrid name, Be jean. Bo jean, Bon jean !" "Oh ! bless 
me!" "He has been arrested." "Arrested!" "In prison, in the city 
prison to await his removal." "His removal ! where will he be taken ?" 
"To the Court of Assizes for a highway robbery that he once commit- 
ted." "Well ! I always did suspect him. The man was too good, too 
perfect, too sweet. He refused fees, and gave sous to every little black- 
guard he met. I always thought that there must be something bad at 
the bottom of all this." 

"The drawing-rooms," above all, were entirely of this opinion. 

An old lady, a subscriber to the Drapeau Blanc, made this remark, 
the depth of which it is almost impossible to fathom : 

"I am not sorry for it. That will teach the Bonapartists !" 

In this manner the phantom which had been called Monsieur 

1^4 Les Miserables 

Madeleine was dissipated at M sur M . Three or four 

persons alone in the whole city remained faithful to his memory. The 
old portress who had been his servant was among the number. 

On the evening of this same day, the worthy old woman was sitting 
in her lodge, still bewildered and sunk in sad reflections. The factory 
had been closed all day, the carriage doors were bolted, the street was 
deserted. There was no one in the house but the two nuns. Sister 
Perpetue and Sister Simplice, who were watching the corpse of Fantine. 

Towards the time when Monsieur Madeleine had been accustomed 
to return, the honest portress rose mechanically, took the key of his 
room from a drawer, with the taper-stand that he used at night to light 
himself up the stairs, then hung the key on a nail from which he had 
been in the habit of taking it, and placed the taper-stand by its side, 
as if she were expecting him. She then seated herself again in her 
chair, resumed her reflections. The poor old woman had done all 
this without being conscious of it. 

More than two hours had elapsed when she started from her reverie 
and exclaimed, "Why, bless me ! I have hung his key on the nail !" 

Just then, the window of her box opened, a hand passed through the 
opening, took the key and stand, and lighted the taper at the candle 
which was burning. 

The portress raised her eyes ; she was transfixed with astonishment ; 
a cry rose to her lips, but she could not give it utterance. 

She knew the hand, the arm, the coat-sleeve. 

It was M. Madeleine. 

She was speechless for some seconds, thunderstruck, as she said 
herself, afterwards, in giving her account of the affair. 

"My God! Monsieur Mayor!'' she exclaimed, "I thought you 
were " 

She stopped ; the end of her sentence would not have been respectful 
to the beginning. To her, Jean Yaljean was still Monsieur the Mayor. 

He completed her thought. 

"In prison," said he. "I was there ; I broke a bar from a window, 
let myself fall from the top of a roof, and here I am. I am going to 
my room; go for Sister Simplice. She is doubtless beside this poor 

The old servant hastily obeyed. 

Fantine 105 

He gave her no caution, very sure she would guard him better than 
he would guard himself. 

It has never been known how he had succeeded in gaining entrance 
into the court-yard without opening the carriage-door. He had, and 
always carried about him, a pass-key which opened a little side door, 
but he must have been searched, and this taken from him. This 
point is not yet cleared up. 

He ascended the staircase which led to his room. On reaching the 
top, he left his taper stand on the upper stair, opened his door with 
little noise, felt his way to the window and closed the shutter, then 
came back, took his taper, and went into the chamber. 

The precaution was not useless; it will be remembered that his 
window could be seen from the street. 

He cast a glance about him, over his table, his chair, his bed, which 
had not been slept in for three days. There remained no trace of the 
disorder of the night before the last. The portress had ''put the room 
to rights." He took from a wardrobe an old shirt which he tore into 
several pieces and in which he packed two silver candlesticks. In 
all this there was neither haste nor agitation. And even while pack- 
ing the bishop's candlesticks, he was eating a piece of black bread. 
It was probably prison-bread, which he had brought away in escap- 

This has been established by crumbs of bread found on the floor 
of the room, when the court afterwards ordered a search. 

Two gentle taps were heard at the door. 

'^Come in," said he. 

It was Sister Simplice. 

She was pale, her eyes were red, and the candle which she held 
trembled in her hand. The shocks of destiny have this peculiarity; 
however subdued or disciplined our feelings may be, they draw out the 
human nature from the depths of our souls, and compel us to exhibit 
it to others. In the agitation of this day the nun had again become a 
woman. She had wept, and she was trembling. 

Jean Valjean had written a few lines on a piece of paper which he 
handed to the nun, saying: "Sister you will give this to the cure. 

The paper was not folded. She cast her eyes on it. 

"You may read it," said he. 

< V 

^^^ Les Miserables 

She read: "I beg Monsieur the Cure to take charge of all that I 
leave here. He will please defray therefrom the expenses of my trial, 
and of the burial of the woman who died this morning. The remainder 
is for the poor." 

The sister attempted to speak, but could scarcely stammer out a few 
inarticulate sounds. She succeeded, however, in saying: 

"Does not Monsieur the Mayor wish to see this poor unfortunate 
again for the last time?" 

"]S[o," said he, "I am pursued; I should only be arrested in her 
chamber; it would disturb her." 

He had scarcely finished when there was a loud noise on the stair- 
case. They heard a tumult of steps ascending, and the old portress 
exclaiming in her loudest and most piercing tones: 

"My good sir, I swear to you in the name of God, that nobody has 
come in here the whole day, and the whole evening; that I have not 
even once left my door!" 

A man replied : But yet, there is a light in this room." 

They recognised the voice of Javert. 

The chamber was so arranged that the door in opening covered 
the corner of the wall to the right. Jean Valjean blew out the 
taper, and placed himself in this corner. 

Sister Simplice fell on her knees near the table. 

The door opened. 

Javert entered. 

The whispering of several men, and the protestations of the portress 
were heard in the hall. 

The nun did not raise her eyes. She was praying. 

The candle was on the mantel, and gave but a dim light. 

Javert perceived the sister, and stopped abashed. 

The very foundation of Javert, his element, the medium in which he 
breathed, was veneration for all authority. He was perfectly homogen- 
eous, and admitted of no objection, or abridgment. To him, be it under- 
stood, ecclesiastical authority was the highest of all; he was devout, 
superficial, and correct, upon this point as upon all others. In his 
eyes, a priest was a spirit who was never mistaken, a nun was a being 
who never sinned. They were souls walled in from this world, with 
a single door which never opened but for the exit of truth. 

Fantine 107 

On perceiving the sister, his first impulse was to retire. 

But there was also another duty which held him, and which urged 
him imperiously in the opposite direction. His second impulse was to 
remain, and to venture at least one question. 

This was the Sister Simplice, who had never lied in her life. Javert 
knew this, and venerated her especially on account of it. 

"Sister," said he, "are you alone in this room ?" 

There was a fearful instant during which the poor portress felt 
her limbs falter beneath her. The sister raised her eyes, and replied : 


Then continued Javert — "Excuse me if I persist, it is my duty — 
you have not seen this evening a person, a man — he has escaped, 
and we are in search of him — Jean Valjean — you have not seen him ?" 

The sister answered — "^No." 

She lied. Two lies in succession, one upon another, without hesita- 
tion, quickly, as if she were an adept in it. 

"Your pardon!" said Javert, and he withdrew, bowing reverently. 

Oh, holy maiden! for many years thou hast been no more in this 
world; thou hast joined the sisters, the virgins, and thy brethren, 
the angels, in glory; may this falsehood be remembered to thee in 

The affirmation of the sister was to Javert something so decisive that 
he did not even notice the singularity of this taper, just blown out, and 
smoking on the table. 

An hour afterwards, a man was walking rapidly in the darkness 

beneath the trees from M sur M in the direction of Paris. 

This man was Jean Valjean. It has been established, by the testimony 
of two or three waggoners who met him, that he carried a bundle, 
and was dressed in a blouse. Where did he get this blouse ? It was 
never known. Nevertheless, an old artisan had died in the infirmary of 
the factory a few days before, leaving nothing but his blouse. This 
might have been the one. 

A last word in regard to Pantine. 

We have all one mother — ^the earth. Pantine was restored to this 

The cure thought best, and did well perhaps, to reserve out of what 
Jean Valjean had left, the largest amount possible for the poor. After 

108 Les Miserables 

all, who were in question ? — a convict and a woman of the town. This 
was why he simplified the burial of Eantine, and reduced it to that 
bare necessity called the Potter^s field. 

And so Fantine was buried in the common grave of the cemetery, 
which is for everybody and for all, and in which the poor are lost. 
Happily, God knows where to find the soul. Fantine was laid away 
in the darkness with bodies which had no name ; she suffered the prom- 
iscuity of dust. She was thrown into the public pit. Her tomb was 
like her bed. 




On a beautiful morning in May, last year (1861), a traveller, lie who 
tells this story, was journeying from Nivelles towards La Hulpe. He 
travelled a-foot. He was following, between two rows of trees, a broad 
road, undulating over the hills, which, one after another, upheave 
it and let it fall again, like enormous waves. He had passed Lillois 
and Bois-Seigneur-Isaac. He saw to the west the slated steeple of 
Braine-FAlleud, which has the form of an inverted vase. He had just 
passed a wood upon a hill, and at the corner of a cross-road, beside a 
sort of worm-eaten sign-post, bearing the inscription — Old Tool-Gate, 
No. 4 — a tavern with this sign: — The Four Winds. Echaleau, Pri- 
vate Cafe. 

Half a mile from this tavern, he reached the bottom of a little 
valley, where a stream flowed beneath an arch in the embankment of 
the road. The cluster of trees, thin-sown but very green, which fills 
the vale on one side of the road, on the other spreads out into meadows, 
and sweeps away in graceful disorder towards Braine FAlleud. 

At this point there was at the right, and immediately on the road, 
an inn, with a four-wheeled cart before the door, a great bundle of 
hop-poles, a plough, a pile of dry brush near a quick-set hedge, some 
lime which was smoking in a square hole in the ground, and a ladder 
lying along an old shed with mangers for straw. A young girl was 
pulling weeds in a field, where a large green poster, probably of a 
travelling show at some annual fair, fluttered in the wind. At the 
corner of the inn, beside a pond, in which a flotilla of ducks was navi- 
gating, a difiicult foot-path lost itself in the shrubbery. The traveller 
took this path. 

At the end of a hundred paces, passing a wall of the fifteenth century, 
surmounted by a sharp gable of crossed bricks, he found himself op- 
posite a great arched stone doorway, with rectilinear impost, in the 
solemn style of Louis XIV, and plain medallions on the sides. Over 

the entrance was a severe fagade, and a wall perpendicular to the 


112 Les Miserables 

fagade almost touched the doorway, flanking it at an abrupt right 
angle. On the meadow before the door lay three harrows, through 
which were blooming, as best they could, all the flowers of May. The 
doorway was closed. It was shut by two decrepit folding-doors, dec- 
orated with an old rusty knocker. 

The sunshine was enchanting; the branches of the trees had that 
gentle tremulousness of the month of May which seems to come from 
the birds' nests rather than the wind. A spruce little bird, probably 
in love, was singing desperately in a tall tree. 

The traveller paused and examined in the stone at the left of the 
door, near the ground a large circular excavation like the hollow of a 
sphere. Just then the folding-doors opened, and a peasant woman 
came out. 

She saw the traveller, and perceived what he was examining. 

"It was a French ball which did that," said she. 

And she added — 

"What you see there, higher up, in the door, near a nail, is the hole 
made by a Biscay musket. The musket has not gone through the 

"What is the name of this place ?" asked the traveller. 

"Hougomont," the woman answered. 

The traveller raised his head. He took a few steps and looked over 
the hedges. He saw in the horizon, through the trees, a sort of hillock, 
and on this hillock something which, in the distance, resembled a lion. 

He was on the battle-field of Waterloo. 

THE 18th of JUNE, 1815 . 

Let us go back, for such is the story-teller's privilege, and place our- 
selves in the year of 1815, a little before the date of the commencement 
of the action narrated in the first part of this book. 

Had it not rained on the night of the iTth of June, 1815, the future 
of Europe would have been changed. A few drops of water more or 
less prostrated IsTapoleon. That Waterloo should be the end of 
Austerlitz, Providence needed only a little rain, and an unseasonable 
cloud crossing the sky sufiiced for the overthrow of a world. 

The battle of Waterloo — and this gave Blucher time to come up — 

Cosette 113 

could not be commenced before half-past eleven. Why ? Because the 
ground was soft. It was necessary to wait for it to acquire some little 
firmness so that the artillery could manoeuvre. 

N'apoleon was an artillery officer, and he never forgot it. The 
foundation of this prodigious captain was the man who, in his re- 
port to the Directory upon Aboukir, said: Such of our halls killed 
six men. All his plans of battle were made for projectiles. To con- 
verge the artillery upon a given point was his key of victory. He 
treated the strategy of the hostile general as a citadel, and battered it 
to a breach. He overwhelmed the weak point with grape; he joined 
and resolved battles with cannon. There was marksmanship in his 
genius. To destroy squares, to pulverise regiments, to break lines, to 
crush and disperse masses, all this was for him, to strike, strike, strike 
incessantly, and he intrusted this duty to the cannon ball. A formid- 
able method, which, joined to genius, made this sombre athlete of the 
pugilism of war invincible for fifteen years. 

On the 18th of June, he counted on his artillery the more because 
he had the advantage in numbers. Wellington had only a hundred and 
fifty-nine guns; Napoleon had two hundred and forty. 

Had the ground been dry, and the artillery able to move, the action 
would have been commenced at six o'clock in the morning. The battle 
would have been won and finished at two o'clock, three hours before the 
Prussians turned the scale of fortune. 

Sow much fault is there on the part of Napoleon in the loss of this 
battle? Is the shipwreck to he imputed to the pilot? 

Was the evident physical decline of Napoleon accompanied at this 
time by a corresponding mental decline ? had his twenty years of war 
worn out the sword as well as the sheath, the soul as well as the body ? 
was the veteran injuriously felt in the captain? in a word, was that 
genius, as many considerable historians have thought, under an eclipse ? 
had he put on a frenzy to disguise his enf eeblement from himself ? did 
he begin to waver, and be bewildered by a random blast? was he 
becoming, a grave fault in a general, careless of danger? in that class 
of material great men who may be called the giants of action, is there 
an age when their genius becomes shortsighted ? Old age has no hold 
on the geniuses of the ideal ; for the Dantes and the Michael Angelos, 
to grow old is to grow great ; for the Hannibals and Bonapartes is it to 

114: Les Miserables 

grow less? had IN^apoleon lost his clear sense of victory? could he no 
longer recognise the shoal, no longer divine the snare, no longer dis- 
cern the crumbling edge of the abyss ? had he lost the instinct of dis- 
aster ? was he, who formerly knew all the paths of triumph, and who, 
from the height of his flashing car, pointed them out with sovereign 
flnger, now under such dark hallucination as to drive his tumultuous 
train of legions over the precipices ? was he seized, at forty-six years, 
with a supreme madness ? was this titanic driver of Destiny now only 
a monstrous breakneck ? 

We think not. 

His plan of battle was, all confess, a masterpiece. To march straight 
to the centre of the allied line, pierce the enemy, cut them in two, push 
the British half upon Hal and the Prussian half upon Tongres, make 
of Wellington and Blucher two fragments, carry Mont Saint Jean, 
seize Brussels, throw the German into the Ehine, and the Englishman 
into the sea. All this, for Napoleon, was in this battle. What would 
follow, anybody can see. 

We do not, of course, profess to give here the history of Waterloo ; 
one of the scenes that gave rise to the drama which we are describing 
hangs upon that battle ; but the history of the battle is not our subject ; 
that history moreover is told, and told in a masterly way, from one point 
of view by E^apoleon, from the other point of view by Charras. As for 
us, we leave the two historians to their contest; we are only a witness 
at a distance, a passer in the plain, a seeker bending over this ground 
kneaded with human flesh, taking perhaps appearances for realities; 
we have no right to cope in the name of science with a mass of facts in 
which there is doubtless some mirage; we have neither the military 
experience nor the strategic ability which authorises a system; in our 
opinion, a chain of accidents overruled both captains at Waterloo ; and 
when destiny is called in, this mysterious accused, we judge like the 
people, that artless judge. 

Those who would get a clear idea of the battle of Waterloo have only 
to lay down upon the ground in their mind a capital A. The left stroke 
of the A is the road from Nivelles, the right stroke is the road from 
Genappe, the cross of the A is the sunken road from Ohain to Braine 
TAlleud. The top of the A is Mont Saint Jean, Wellington is there; 
the left-hand lower point is Hougomont, Reille is there with Jerome 

Cosette 115 

Bonaparte; the right-hand lower point is La Belle Alliance, Napoleon 
is there. A little below the point where the cross of the A meets and 
cuts the right stroke, is La Haie Sainte. At the middle of this cross 
is the precise point where the final battle-word was spoken. There the 
lion is placed, the involuntary symbol of the supreme heroism of the 
Imperial Guard. 

The triangle contained at the top of the A, between the two strokes 
and the cross, is the plateau of Mont Saint Jean. The struggle for 
this plateau was the whole of the battle. 

The wings of the two armies extended to the right and left of the 
roads from Genappe and from Nivelles ; D'Erlon being opposite Picton, 
Reille opposite Hill. 

Behind the point of the A, behind the plateau of Mont Saint Jean, 
is the forest of Soignes. 

As to the plain itself, we must imagine a vast undulating country; 
each wave commanding the next, and these undulations rising towards 
Mont Saint Jean, are there bounded by the forest. 

Two hostile armies upon a field of battle are two wrestlers. Their 
arms are locked; each seeks to throw the other. They grasp at every 
aid; a thicket is a point of support; a comer of a wall is a brace for 
the shoulder; for lack of a few sheds to lean upon a regiment loses 
its footing; a depression in the plain, a movement of the soil, a con- 
venient cross path, a wood, a ravine, may catch the heel of this colossus 
which is called an army, and prevent him from falling. He who leaves 
the field is beaten. Hence, for the responsible chief, the necessity of 
examining the smallest tuft of trees and appreciating the slightest 
details of contour. 

Both generals had carisfully studied the plain of Mont Saint Jean, 
now called the plain of Waterloo. Already in the preceding year, 
Wellington, with the sagacity of prescience, had examined it as a pos- 
sible site for a great battle. On this ground and for this contest Well- 
ington had the favourable side, J^apoleon the unfavourable. The Eng- 
lish army was above, the French army below. 

To sketch here the appearance of Napoleon, on horseback, glass in 
hand, upon the heights of Rossomme, at dawn on the 18th of June, 
1815, would be almost superfluous. Before we point him out, every- 
body has seen him. This calm profile under the little chapeau of the 

11^ Les Miserables 

school of Brienne, this green uniform, the white facings concealing 
the stars on his breast, the overcoat concealing the epaulets, the bit of 
red sash under the waistcoat, the leather breeches, the white horse with 
his housings of purple velvet with crowned N.'s and eagles on the 
corners, the Hessian boots over silk stockings, the silver spurs, the 
Marengo sword, this whole form of the last Caesar lives in all imagina- 
tions, applauded by half the world, reprobated by the rest. 

That form has long been fully illuminated; it did have certain 
traditional obscurity through which most heroes pass, and which always 
veils the truth for a longer or shorter time; but now the history is 
luminous and complete. 

This light of history is pitiless ; it has this strange and divine quality 
that, all luminous as it is, and precisely because it is luminous, it 
casts a shadow just where we saw a radiance ; of the same man it makes 
two different phantoms, and the one attacks and punishes the other, 
and the darkness of the despot struggles with the splendour of the cap- 
tain. Hence results a truer measure in the final judgment of the 
nations. Babylon violated lessens Alexander; Rome enslaved lessens 
Caesar; massacred Jerusalem lessens Titus. Tyranny follows the ty- 
rant. It is woe to a man to leave behind a shadow which has his form. 


We return, for it is a requirement of this book, to the fatal field of 

On the 18th of June, 1815, the moon was full. Its light favoured 
the ferocious pursuit of Bliicher, disclosed the traces of the fugitives, 
delivered this helpless mass to the bloodthirsty Prussian cavalry, and 
aided in the massacre. Night sometimes lends such tragic assistance 
to catastrophe. 

When the last gun had been fired the plain of Mont Saint Jean 
remained deserted. 

The English occupied the camp of the French; it is the usual veri- 
fication of victory to sleep in the bed of the vanquished. They estab- 
lished their bivouac around Rossomme. The Prussians, let loose upon 
the fugitives, pushed forward. Wellington went to the village of 
Waterloo to make up his report to Lord Bathurst. 

Cosette 11^ 

Towards midnight a man was prowling or rather crawling along the 
sunken road of Ohain. He was, to all appearances, neither English nor 
French, peasant nor soldier, less a man than a ghoul, attracted by the 
scent of the corpses, counting theft for victory, coming to rifle Waterloo. 
He was dressed in a blouse which was in part a capote, was.restless and 
daring, looking behind and before as he went. Who was this man? 
l^ight, probably, knew more of his doings than day! He had no 
knapsack, but evidently large pockets under his capote. From time to 
time he stopped, examined the plain around him as if to see if he were 
observed, stooped down suddenly, stirred on the ground something 
silent and motionless, then rose up and skulked away. His gliding 
movement, his attitudes, his rapid and mysterious gestures, made him 
seem like those twilight spectres which haunt ruins and which the old 
Norman legends call the Goers. 

Certain nocturnal water-birds make such motions in marshes. 

An eye which had carefully penetrated all this haze, might have 
noticed at some distance, standing as it were concealed behind the ruin 
which is on the N^ivelle road at the corner of the route from Mont Saint 
Jean to Brain TAlleud, a sort of little sutler's waggon, covered with 
tarred osiers, harnessed to a famished jade browsing nettles through 
her bit, and in the waggon a sort of woman seated on some trunks 
and packages. Perhaps there was some connection between this wag- 
gon and the prowler. 

The night was serene. Not a cloud was in the zenith. What 
mattered it that the earth was red, the moon retained her whiteness. 
Such is the indifference of heaven. In the meadows, branches of trees 
broken by grape, but not fallen, and held by the bark, swung gently 
in the night wind. A breath, almost a respiration, moved the brush- 
wood. There was a quivering in the grass which seemed like the 
departure of souls. 

The tread of the patrols and groundsmen of the English camp could 
be heard dimly in the distance. 

Hougomont and La Haie Sainte continued to bum, making, one in 
the east and the other in the west, two great flames, to which was at- 
tached, like a necklace of rubies with two carbuncles at its extremities, 
the cordon of bivouac fires of the English, extending in ai? immense 
semicircle over the hills of the horizon. 

l^S Les Miserables 

The cut of the sunken road was filled with horses and riders in- 
extricably heaped together. Terrible entanglement. There were no 
longer slopes to the road ; dead bodies filled it even with the plain, and 
came to the edge of the banks like a well-measured bushel of barley. 
A mass of dead above, a river of blood below — such was this road on the 
evening of the 18th of June, 1815. The blood ran even to the Nivelles 
road, and oozed through in a large pool in front of the abattis of trees, 
which barred that road, at a spot which is still shown. It was, it will 
be remembered, at the opposite point, towards the road from Genappe, 
that the burying of the cuirassiers took place. The thickness of the 
mass of bodies was proportioned to the depth of the hollow road. 
Towards the middle, at a spot where it became shallower, over which 
Delord's division had passed, this bed of death became thinner. 

The night prowler which we have just introduced to the reader went 
in this direction. He ferreted through this immense grave. He looked 
about. He passed an indescribably hideous review of the dead. He 
walked with his feet in blood. 

Suddenly he stopped. 

A few steps before him, in the sunken road, at a point where the 
mound of corpses ended, from under this mass of men and horses 
appeared an open hand, lighted by the moon. 

This hand had something upon a finger which sparkled; it was a 
gold ring. 

The man stooped down, remained a moment, and when he rose 
again there was no ring upon that hand. 

He did not rise up precisely; he remained in a sinister and startled 
attitude, turning his back to the pile of dead, scrutinising the horizon, 
on his knees, all the front of his body being supported on his two fore- 
fingers, his head raised just enough to peep above the edge of the 
hollow road. The four paws of the jackal are adapted to certain 

Then, deciding upon his course, he arose. 

At this moment he experienced a shock. He felt that he was held 
from behind. 

He turned ; it was the open hand, which had closed, seizing the lappel 
of his capote. 

Cosette 119 

An honest man would have been frightened. This man began to 

"Oh," said he, "it's only the dead man. I like a ghost better than 
a gendarme." 

However, the hand relaxed and let go its hold. Strength is soon 
exhausted in the tomb. 

"Ah ha!" returned the prowler, "is this dead man alive? Let 
us see." 

He bent over again, rummaged among the heap, removed whatever 
impeded him, seized the hand, laid hold of the arm, disengaged the 
head, drew out the body, and some moments after dragged into the 
shadow of the hollow road an inanimate man, at least one who was 
senseless. It was a cuirassier, an officer ; an officer, also, of some rank ; 
a great gold epaulet protruded from beneath his cuirass, but he had no 
casque. A furious sabre cut had disfigured his face, where nothing 
but blood was to be seen. It did not seem, however, that he had any 
limbs broken ; and by some happy chance ; if the word is possible here, 
the bodies arched above him in such a way as to prevent his being 
crushed. His eyes were closed. 

He had on his cuirass the silver cross of the Legion of Honour. 

The prowler tore off this cross, which disappeared in one of the gulfs 
which he had under his capote. 

After which he felt the officer's fob, found a watch there, and took it. 
Then he rummaged in his vest and found a purse, which he pocketed. 

When he had reached this phase of the succour he was lending the 
dying man, the officer opened his eyes. 

"Thanks," said he feebly. 

The rough movements of the man handling him, the coolness of the 
night, and breathing the fresh air freely, had roused him from his 

The prowler answered not. He raised his head. The sound of a 
footstep could be heard on the plain ; probably it was some patrol who 
was approaching. 

The officer murmured, for there were still signs of suffering in his 
voice : 

^^Whp has gained the battle ?" 

120 Les Miserables 

^^The English," answered the prowler. 

The officer replied: 

"Search my pockets. You will there find a purse and a watch. 
Take them." 

This had already been done. 

The prowler made a pretence of executing the command, and said: 

"There is nothing there." 

"I have been robbed," replied the officer ; "I am sorry. They would 
have been yours." 

The step of the patrol became more and more distinct. 

Somebody is coming," said the prowler, making a movement as if 
he would go. 

The officer, raising himself up painfully upon one arm, held him 

"You have saved my life. Who are you ?" 

The prowler answered quick and low: 

"I belong, like yourself, to the French army. I must go. If I am 
taken I shall be shot. I have saved your life. Help yourself now." 

"What is your grade?" 


"What is your name ?" 


"I shall not forget that name," said the officer. "And you, remember 
mine. My name is Pontmercy." 



Jean valjean has been retaken. 

We shall be pardoned for passing rapidly over the painful details. 
We shall merely reproduce a couple of items published in the news- 
papers of that day, some few months after the remarkable events that 
occurred at M sur M — — . 

The articles referred to are somewhat laconic. It will be remem- 

Cosette 121 

bered that the Gazette des Tribunaux had not yet been established. 

We copy the first from the Drapeau Blanc, It is dated the 25th of 
July, 1823: 

"A district of the Pas-de-Calais has just been the scene of an 
extraordinary occurrence. A stranger in that department, known 
as Monsieur Madeleine, had, within a few years past, restored, by means 
of certain new processes, the manufacture of jet and black glass 
ware — a former local branch of industry. He had made his own 
fortune by it, and, in fact, that of the entire district. In acknowledg- 
ment of his services he had been appointed mayor. The police has 
discovered that Monsieur Madeleine was none other than an escaped 
convict, condemned in 1796 for robbery, and named Jean Valjean. 
This Jean Yaljean has been sent back to the galleys. It appears that 
previous to his arrest, he succeeded in withdrawing from Laffitte's a 
sum amounting to more than half a million which he had deposited 
there, and which it is said, by the way, he had very legitimately re- 
alised in his business. Since his return to the galleys at Toulon, 
it has been impossible to discover where Jean Valjean concealed this 

The second article, which enters a little more into detail, is taken from 
the Journal de Paris of the same date: 

"An old convict, named Jean Valjean, has recently been brought 
before the Var Assizes, under circumstances calculated to attract 
attention. This villain had succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the 
police; he had changed his name, and had even been adroit enough 
to procure the appointment of mayor in one of our small towns in the 
N^orth. He had established in this town a very considerable business, 
but was, at length, unmasked and arrested, thanks to the indefatig- 
able zeal of the public authorities. Consequently, Jean Valjean, being 
found guilty, was condemned to death. The criminal refused to appeal 
to the higher courts, and the king, in his inexhaustible clemency, 
deigned to commute his sentence to that of hard labour in prison 
for life. Jean Valjean was immediately forwarded to the galleys at 

It will not be forgotten that Jean Valjean had at M sur M 

certain religious habits. Some of the newspapers and, among them, the 

122 Les Miserables 

Constitutionnel, held up this commutation as a triumph of the clerical 

Jean Valjean changed his numher at the galleys. He became 9430. 


Towards the end of October, in that same year, 1823, the inhabitants 
of Toulon saw coming back into their port, in consequence of heavy 
weather, and in order to repair some damages, the ship Orion, which 
was at a later period employed at Brest as a vessel of instruction, 
and which then formed a part of the Mediterranean squadron. This 
ship, crippled as she was, for the sea had used her roughly, produced 
some sensation on entering the roadstead. She flew I forget what 
pennant, but it entitled her to a regular salute of eleven guns, which 
she returned shot for shot : in all twenty-two. 

Every day from morning till night, the quays, the wharves, and the 
piers of the port of Toulon were covered with a throng of saunterers 
and idlers, whose occupation consisted in gazing at the Orion, 

The Orion was a ship that had long been in bad condition. During 
her previous voyages, thick layers of shellfish had gathered on her 
bottom to such an extent as to seriously impede her progress; she had 
been put on the dry-dock the year before, to be scraped, and then she 
had gone to sea again. But this scraping had injured her fastening. 

In the latitude of the Balearic Isles, her planking had loosened and 
opened, and as there was in those days no copper sheathing, the ship 
had leaked. A fierce equinoctial came on, which had stove in the 
larboard bows and a porthole, and damaged the fore-chain-wales. In 
consequence of these injuries, the Orion had put back to Toulon. 

She was moored near the arsenal. She was in commission and 
they were repairing her. The hull had not been injured on the star- 
board side, but a few planks had been taken off here and there, accord- 
ing to custom, to admit the air to the framework. 

One morning the throng which was gazing at her witnessed an 

The crew was engaged in furling sail. The topman, whose duty it 

Cosette 123 

was to take in the starboard upper corner of the main top-sail, lost 
his balance. He was seen tottering; the dense throng assembled on 
the wharf of the arsenal uttered a cry, the man's head overbalanced his 
body, and he whirled over the yard, his arms outstretched towards 
the deep ; as he went over, he grasped the man-ropes, first with one hand, 
and then the other, and hung suspended in that manner. The sea 
lay far below him at a giddy depth. The shock of his fall had given 
to the man-ropes a violent swinging motion, and the poor fellow hung 
dangling to and fro at the end of this line, like a stone in a sling. 

To go to his aid was to run a frightful risk. None of the crew, 
who were all fishermen of the coast recently taken into service, dared 
attempt it. In the meantime, the poor topman was becoming ex:- 
hausted ; his agony could not be seen in his countenance, but his increas- 
ing weakness could be detected in the movements of all his limbs. His 
arms twisted about in horrible contortions. Every attempt he made to 
reascend only increased the oscillations of the man-ropes. He did not 
cry out, for fear of losing his strength. All were now looking forward 
to the moment when he should let go of the rope, and, at instants, all 
turned their heads away that they might not see him fall. There are 
moments when a rope's end, a pole, the branch of a tree, is life itself, 
and it is a frightful thing to see a living being lose his hold upon it, and 
fall like a ripe fruit. 

Suddenly, a man was discovered clambering up the rigging with 
the agility of a wildcat. This man was clad in red — it was a convict ; 
he wore a green cap — it was a convict for life. As he reached the 
round top, a gust of wind blew off his cap and revealed a head entirely 
white : it was not a young man. 

In fact, one of the convicts employed on board in some prison 
task, had at the first alarm, run to the officer of the watch, and, 
amid the confusion and hesitation of the crew, while all the sailors 
trembled and shrank back, had asked permission to save the topman's 
life at the risk of his own. A sign of assent being given, with one blow 
of a hammer he broke the chain riveted to the iron ring at his ankle, 
then took a rope in his hand, and flung himself into the shrouds. No- 
body, at the moment, noticed with what ease the chain was broken. 
It was only some time afterwards that anybody remembered it. 

In a twinkling he was upon the yard. He paused a few seconds, 

124 Les Miserables 

and seemed to measure it with his glance. Those seconds, during which 
the wind swayed the sailor to and fro at the end of the rope, seemed 
ages to the lookers-on. At length, the convict raised his eyes to heaven, 
and took a step forward. The crowd drew a long breath. He was 
seen to run along the yard. On reaching its extreme tip, he fastened 
one end of the rope he had with him, and let the other hang at 
full length. Thereupon, he began to let himself down by his hands 
along this rope, and then there was an inexpressible sensation of 
terror; instead of one man, two were seen dangling at that giddy 

You would have said it was a spider seizing a fly; only, in this 
case, the spider was bringing life, and not death. Ten thousand eyes 
were fixed upon the group. ISTot a cry; not a word was uttered; 
the same emotion contracted every brow. Every man held his breath, 
as if afraid to add the least whisper to the wind which was swaying 
the two unfortunate men. 

However, the convict had at length, managed to make his way 
down to the seaman. It was time; one minute more, and the man, 
exhausted and despairing, would have fallen into the deep. The 
convict firmly secured him to the rope to which he clung with one 
hand while he worked with the other. Finally, he was seen reascend- 
ing to the yard and hauling the sailor after him; he supported him 
there, for an instant, to let him recover his strength, and then, lifting 
him in his arms, carried him, as he walked along the yard, to the 
crosstrees, and from there to the round-top, where he left him in the 
hands of his messmates. 

Then the throng applauded ; old galley sergeants wept, women hugged 
each other on the wharves, and on all sides, voices were heard exclaim- 
ing, with a sort of tenderly subdued enthusiasm : — "This man must be 
pardoned !" 

He, however, had made it a point of duty to descend again immed- 
iately, and go back to his work. In order to arrive more quickly, 
he slid down the rigging, and started to run along a lower yard. 
All eyes were following him. There was a certain moment when 
every one felt alarmed ; whether it was that he felt fatigued, or because 
his head swam, people thought they saw him hesitate and stagger. 

Cosette 125 

Suddenly, the throng uttered a thrilling outcry : the convict had fallen 
into the sea. 

The fall was perilous. The frigate Algesiras was moored close to 
the Orion, and the poor convict had plunged between the two ships. 
It was feared that he would be drawn under one or the other. Four 
men sprang, at once, into a boat. The people cheered them on, and 
anxiety again took possession of all minds. The man had not again 
risen to the surface. He had disappeared in the sea, without making 
even a ripple, as though he had fallen into a cask of oil. They sounded 
and dragged the place. It was in vain. The search was continued 
until night, but not even the body was found. 

The next morning, the Toulon Journal published the following 
lines: — "November 17, 1823. Yesterday, a convict at work on board 
of the Orion, on his return from rescuing a sailor, fell into the sea, and 
was drowned. His body was not recovered. It is presumed that 
it has been caught under the piles at the pier-head of the arsenal. 
This man was registered by the number 9430, and his name was Jean 




MoNTFERMEiL is situatcd between Livry and Chelles, upon the southern 
slope of the high plateau which separates the Ourcq from the Marne. 
At present, it is a considerable town, adorned all the year round with 
stuccoed villas, and, on Sundays, with citizens in full blossom. In 
1823, there were at Montfermeil neither so many white houses nor 
so many comfortable citizens ; it was nothing but a village in the woods. 
You would find, indeed, here and there a few country seats of the 
last century, recognisable by their grand appearance, their balconies 
of twisted iron, and those long windows the little panes of which show 
all sort of different greens upon the white of the closed shutters, Btit 

126 Les Miserables 

Montfermeil was none the less a village. Retired dry-goods merchants 
and amateur villagers had not yet discovered it. It was a peaceful 
and charming spot, and not upon the road to any place ; the inhabitants 
cheaply enjoyed that rural life which is so luxuriant and so easy of 
enjoyment. But water was scarce there on account of the height 
of the plateau. 

They had to go a considerable distance for it. The end of the village 
towards Gagny drew its water from the magnificent ponds in the forest 
on that side ; the other end, which surrounds the church and which is 
towards Chelles, found drinking-water only at a little spring on the 
side of the hill, near the road to Chelles, about fifteen minutes' walk 
from Montfermeil. 

It was therefore a serious matter for each household to obtain its 
supply of water. The great houses, the aristocracy, the Thenardier 
tavern included, paid a penny a bucket-full to an old man who made 
it his business, and whose income from the Montfermeil water-works 
was about eight sous per day ; but this man worked only till seven o'clock 
in summer and ^ve in the winter, and when night had come on and the 
first-floor shutters were closed, whoever had no drinking-water went 
after it, or went without it. 

This was the terror of the poor being whom the reader has not 
perhaps forgotten — little Cosette. It will be remembered that Cosette 
was useful to the Thenardiers in two ways, they got pay from the 
mother and work from the child. Thus when the mother ceased entirely 
to pay, we have seen why, in the preceding chapters, the Thenardiers 
kept Cosette. She saved them a servant. In that capacity she ran 
for water when it was wanted. So the child, always horrified at the 
idea of going to the spring at night, took good care that water should 
never be wanting at the house. 

Christmas in the year 1823 was particularly brilliant at Mont- 
f ermeil. The early part of the winter had been mild ; so far there had 
been neither frost nor snow. Some jugglers from Paris had obtained 
permission from the mayor to set up their stalls in the main street 
of the village, and a company of pedlars had, under the same licence, 
put up their booths in the square before the church and even in the 
lane du Boul anger, upon which, as the reader perhaps remembers, 
the Thenardier chop-house was situated. This filled up the taverns 

© Dodd, Mead &■ Company, Inc. 



Cosette 12? 

and pot-Houses, and gave to this little quiet place a noisy and joyous 

On that Christmas evening several men, waggoners and pedlars, 
were seated at table and drinking around four or five candles in the 
low hall of the Thenardier tavern. This room resembled all bar- 
rooms; tables, pewter-mugs, bottles, drinkers, smokers, little light, 
and much noise. The date, 1823, was, however, indicated by the 
two things then in vogue with the middle classes, which were on the 
table, a kaleidoscope and a fluted tin lamp. Thenardier, the wife, was 
looking to the supper, which was cooking before a bright blazing fire ; 
the husband, Thenardier, was drinking with his guests and talking 

Cosette was at her usual place, seated on the cross-piece of the 
Jiitchen table, near the fireplace; she was clad in rags; her bare feet 
were in wooden shoes, and by the light of the fire she was knitting 
woollen stockings for the little Thenardiers. A young kitten was 
playing under the chairs. In a neighbouring room the fresh voices 
of two children were heard laughing and prattling; it was Eponine 
and Azelma. 

In the chimney-corner, a cow-hide hung upon a nail. 

At intervals, the cry of a very young child, which was somewhere in 
the house, was heard above the noise of the bar-room 

When the hungry clamour became too much to bear : — "Your boy is 
squalling,'' said Thenardier, "why don't you go and see what he wants ?" 
"Bah!" answered the mother; "I am sick of him." And the poor 
little fellow continued to cry in the darkness. 


Four new guests had just come in. 

Cosette was musing sadly; for, though she was only eight years 
old, she had already suffered so much that she mused with the mourn- 
ful air of an old woman. 

She had a black eye from a blow of the Thenardiess's fist, which 
made the Thenardiess say from time to time, "How ugly she is with her 
patch on her eye." 

Cosette was then thinking that it was evening, late in the evening, 

138 Les Miserables 

that the bowls and pitchers in the rooms of the travellers who had 
arrived must be filled immediately, and that there was no more water 
in the cistern. 

One thing comforted her a little; they did not drink much water 
in the Thenardier tavern. There were plenty of people there who 
were thirsty ; but it was the kind of thirst which reaches rather towards 
the jug than the pitcher. Had anybody asked for a glass of water 
among these glasses of wine, he would have seemed a savage to all 
those men. However there was an instant when the child trembled; 
the Thenardiess raised the cover of a kettle which was boiling on the 
range, then took a glass and hastily approached the cistern. She 
turned the faucet; the child had raised her head and followed all her 
movements. A thin stream of water ran from the faucet, and filled the 
glass half full. 

^^Here,'' said she, ^^there is no more water!" Then she was silent 
for a moment. The child held her breath. 

"Pshaw !" continued the Thenardiess, examining the half-filled glass, 
'^there is enough of it, such as it is." 

Cosette resumed her work, but for more than a quarter of an hour 
she felt her heart leaping into her throat like a great ball. 

She counted the minutes as they thus rolled away, and eagerly 
wished it were morning. 

From time to time, one of the drinkers would look out into the 
street and exclaim: — "It is as black as an oven!" or, "It would take 
a cat to go along the street without a lantern tonight!" And Cosette 

All at once, one of the pedlars who lodged in the tavern came in, 
and said in a harsh voice: 

"You have not watered my horse." 

"Yes we have, sure," said the Thenardiess. 

"I tell you no, ma'am," replied the pedlar. 

Cosette came out from under the table. 

"Oh yes, monsieur!" said she, "the horse did drink; he drank in the 
bucket, the bucket full, and 'twas me that carried it to him, and I talked 
to him." 

This was not true. Cosette lied. 

"Here is a girl as big as my fist, who can tell a lie as big as a house,'' 

Cosette 129 

exclaimed the pedlar. "I tell jou that he has not had any water, little 
wench ! He has a way of blowing when he has not had any water, 
that I know well enough." 

Cosette persisted, and added in a voice stifled with anguish, and 
which could hardly be heard: 

"But he did drink a good deal.'^ 

"Come,'' continued the pedlar, in a passion, "that is enough; give 
my horse some water, and say no more about it." 

Cosette went back under the table. 

"Well of course that is right," said the Thenardiess ; if the beast has 
not had any water, she must have some." 

Then looking about her: 

"Well, what has become of that girl?" 

She stooped down and discovered Cosette crouched at the other end 
of the table, almost under the feet of the drinkers. 

"Am't you coming?" cried the Thenardiess. 

Cosette came out of the kind of a hole where she had hidden. The 
Thenardiess continued: 

"Mademoiselle Dog-without-a-name, go and carry some drink to this 

"But, ma'am," said Cosette feebly, "there is no water." 

The Thenardiess threw the street door wide open. 

"Well, go after some!" 

Cosette hung her head, and went for an empty bucket that was by 
the chimney corner. 

The bucket was larger than she, and the child could have sat down 
in it comfortably. 

The Thenardiess went back to her range, and tasted what was in the 
kettle with a wooden spoon, grumbling the while. 

"There is some at the spring. She is the worst girl that ever was. 
I think 'twould have been better if I'd left out the onions." 

Then she fumbled in a drawer where there were some pennies, pep- 
per, and garlic. 

"Here, Mamselle Toad," added she, "get a big loaf at the baker's, 
as you come back. Here is fifteen sous." 

Cosette had a little pocket in the side of her apron; she took the 
piece without saying a word, and put it in that pocket. 

130 Les Miserables 

Then she remained motionless, bucket in hand, the open door before 
her. She seemed to be waiting for somebody to come to her aid. 
"Get along!" cried the Thenardiess. 
Cosette went out. The door closed. 


The row of booths extended along the street from the church, the reader 
will remember, as far as the Thenardier tavern. These booths, on 
account of the approaching passage of the citizens on their way to the 
midnight mass, were all illuminated with candles burning in paper 
lanterns, which, as the schoolmaster of Montfermeil, who was at that 
moment seated at one of Thenardier's tables, said, produced a magical 
effect. In retaliation, not a star was to be seen in the sky. 

The last of these stalls, set up exactly opposite Thenardier's door, 
was a toy-shop, all glittering with trinkets, glass beads, and things 
magnificent in tin. In the first rank, and in front, the merchant had 
placed, upon a bed of white napkins, a great doll nearly two feet high 
dressed in a robe of pink-crape with golden wheat-ears on its head, 
and which had real hair and enamel eyes. The whole day, this marvel 
had been displayed to the bewilderment of the passers under ten years 
of age, but there had not been found in Montfermeil a mother rich 
enough, or prodigal enough to give it to her child. Eponine and 
Azelma had passed hours in contemplating it, and Cosette herself, 
furtively, it is true, had dared to look at it. 

At the moment when Cosette went out, bucket in hand, all gloomy 
and overwhelmed as she was, she could not help raising her eyes 
towards this wonderful doll, towards the lady, as she cailed it. The 
poor child stopped petrified. She had not seen this doll so near before. 

This whole booth seemed a palace to her; this doll was not a doll, 
it was a vision. It was a joy, splendour, riches, happiness, and it 
appeared in a sort of chimerical radiance to this unfortunate little 
being, buried so deeply in a cold and dismal misery. Cosette was 
measuring with the sad and simple sagacity of childhood the abyss 
which separated her from that doll. She was saying to herself that 
one must be a queen, or ajt least a princess, to have a "thing'' like 
that. She gazed upon this beautiful pink dress, this beautiful smooth 

Cosette 131 

hair, and she was thinking, "How happy must be that doll!" Her 
eye could not turn away from this fantastic booth. The longer she 
looked, the more she was dazzled. She thought she saw paradise. 
There were other dolls behind the large one that appeared to her to be 
fairies and genii. The merchant walking to and fro in the back part 
of his stall, suggested the Eternal Father. 

In this adoration, she forgot everything, even the errand on which 
she had been sent. Suddenly, the harsh voice of the Thenardiess 
called her back to the reality: "How, jade, haven't you gone yet? 
Hold on; I am coming for you! I'd like to know what she's doing 
there ? Little monster, be off !" 

The Thenardiess had glanced into the street, and perceived Cosette 
in ecstasy. 

Cosette fled with her bucket, running as fast as she could. 


As the Thenardier tavern was in that part of the village which 
is near the church, Cosette had to go to the spring in the woods towards 
Chelles to draw water. 

She looked no more at the displays in the booths, so long as she 
was in the lane Boulanger ; and in the vicinity of the church, the illum- 
inated stalls lighted the way, but soon the last gleam from the last 
stall disappeared. The poor child found herself in darkness. She 
became buried in it. Only, as she became the prey of a certain 
sensation, she shook the handle of the bucket as much as she could on 
her way. That made a noise, which kept her company. 

The further she went, the thicker became the darkness. There was 
no longer anybody in the street. However, she met a woman who 
turned around on seeing her pass, and remained motionless muttering 
between her teeth; "Where in the world can that child be going? Is 
it a phantom child?" Then the woman recognised Cosette. "Oh," 
said she, "it is the lark!" 

Cosette thus passed through the labyrinth of crooked and deserted 
streets, which terminates the village of Montfermeil towards Chelles. 
As long as she had houses, or even walls, on the sides of the road, 
she went on boldly enough. From time to time, she saw the light 

132 Les Miserables 

of a candle through the cracks of a shutter ; it was light and life to her ; 
there were people there; that kept up her courage. However, as 
she advanced, her speed slackened as if mechanically. When she had 
passed the corner of the last house, Cosette stopped. To go beyond 
the last booth had been difficult; to go further than the last house 
became impossible. She put the bucket on the ground, buried her 
hands in her hair, and began to scratch her head slowly, a motion pecu- 
liar to terrified and hesitating children. It was Montfermeil no longer, 
it was the open country ; dark and deserted space was before her. She 
looked with despair into this darkness where nobody was, where there 
were beasts, where there were perhaps ghosts. She looked intensely, 
and she heard the animals walking in the grass, and she distinctly saw 
the ghosts moving in the trees. Then she seized her bucket again; 
fear gave her boldness : "Pshaw," said she, "I will tell her there isn't 
any more water !" And she resolutely went back into Montfermeil. 

She had scarcely gone a hundred steps when she stopped again, and 
began to scratch her head. Now, it was the Thenardiess that appeared 
to her ; the hideous Thenardiess, with her hyena mouth, and wrath flash- 
ing from her eyes. The child cast a pitiful glance before her and 
behind her. What could she do ? What would become of her ? Where 
should she go ? Before her, the spectre of the Thenardiess ; behind her, 
all the phantoms of night and of the forest. It was at the Thenardiess 
that she recoiled. She took the road to the spring again, and began 
to run. She ran out of the village; she ran into the woods, seeing 
nothing, hearing nothing. She did not stop running until out of 
breath, and even then she staggered on. She went right on, desperate. 

Even while running she wanted to cry. 

The nocturnal tremulousness of the forest wrapped her about com- 

She thought no more; she saw nothing more. The immensity of 
night confronted this little creature. On one side, the infinite shadow ; 
on the other, an atom. 

It was only seven or eight minutes' walk from the edge of the woods 
to the spring. Cosette knew the road, from travelling it several 
times a day. Strange thing, she did not lose her way. A remnant of 
instinct guided her blindly. But she neither turned her eyes to the 

Cosette 133 

right nor to the left, for fear of seeing things in the trees and in the 
bushes. Thus she arrived at the spring. 

It was a small natural basin, made by the water in the loamy soil, 
about two feet deep, surrounded with moss, and with that long figured 
grass called Henry Fourth's collars, and paved with a few large stones. 
A brook escaped from it with a gentle, tranquil murmur. 

Cosette did not take time to breathe. It was very dark, but she 
was accustomed to come to this fountain. She felt with her left hand 
in the darkness for a young oak which bent over the spring and usually 
served her as a support, found a branch, swung herself from it, bent 
down and plunged the bucket in the water. She was for a moment 
so excited that her strength was tripled. When she was thus bent over, 
she did not notice that the pocket of her apron emptied itself into 
the spring. The fifteen-sous piece fell into the water. Cosette neither 
saw it nor heard it fall. She drew out the bucket almost full and set it 
on the grass. 

This done, she perceived that her strength was exhausted. She 
was anxious to start at once; but the effort of filling the bucket had 
been so great that it was impossible for her to take a step. She was 
compelled to sit down. She fell upon the grass and remained in a 
crouching posture. 

Her hands, which she had wet in drawing the water, felt cold. She 
arose. Her fear had returned, a natural and insurmountable fear. 
She had only one thought, to fly ; to fly with all her might, across woods, 
across fields, to houses, to windows, to lighted candles. Her eyes 
fell upon the bucket that was before her. Such was the dread with 
which the Thenardiess inspired her, that she did not dare to go without 
the bucket of water. She grasped the handle with both hands. She 
could hardly lift the bucket. 

She went a dozen steps in this manner, but the bucket was full, it 
was heavy, she was compelled to rest it on the ground. She breathed an 
instant, then grasped the handle again, and walked on, this time a 
little longer. But she had to stop again. After resting a few seconds, 
she started on. She walked bending forward, her head down, like 
an old woman : the weight of the bucket strained and stiffened her thin 
arms. The iron handle was numbing and freezing her little wet hands ; 

1^4 Les Miserables 

from time to time she had to stop, and every time she stopped, the 
cold water that splashed from the bucket fell upon her naked knees. 
This took place in the depth of a wood, at night, in the winter, far 
from all human sight ; it was a child of eight years ; there was none but 
God that moment who saw this sad thing. 

She breathed with a kind of mournful rattle; sobs choked her, but 
she did not dare to weep, so fearful was she of theThenardiess, even 
at a distance. She always imagined that the Thenardiess was near. 

However she could not make much headway in this manner, and was 
getting along very slowly. She tried hard to shorten her resting spells, 
and to walk as far as possible between them. She remembered with 
anguish that it would take her more than an hour to return to Mont- 
fermeil thus, and that the Thenardiess would beat her. This anguish 
added to her dismay at being alone in the woods at night. She was 
worn out with fatigue, and was not yet out of the forest. Arriving 
near an old chestnut tree which she knew, she made a last halt, longer 
than the others, to get well rested ; then she gathered all her strength, 
took up the bucket again, and began to walk on courageously. Mean- 
while the poor little despairing thing could not help crying : "Oh ! my 
God! my God!" 

At that moment she felt all at once that the weight of the bucket 
was gone. A hand, which seemed enormous to her, had just caught the 
handle, and was carrying it easily. She raised her head. A large dark 
form, straight and erect, was walking beside her in the gloom. It was 
a man who had come up behind her, and whom she had not heard. This 
man, without saying a word, had grasped the handle of the bucket she 
was carrying. 

There are instincts for all the crises of life. 

The child was not afraid. 


The man spoke to her. His voice was serious, and was almost a 

"My child, that is very heavy for you which you are carrying there." 

Cosette raised her head and answered: 

Cosette 135 

"Yes, monsieur." 

"Give it to me," the man continued, "I will carry it for you." 

Cosette let go of the bucket. The man walked along with her. 

"It is very heavy, indeed," said he to himself. Then he added : 

"Little girl, how old are you ?" 

"Eight years, monsieur." 

"And have you come far in this way ?" 

"From the spring in the woods." 

"And are you going far ?" 

"A good quarter of an hour from here." 

The man remained a moment without speaking, then he said abruptly : 

"You have no mother then?" 

"I don't know," answered the child. 

Before the man had time to say a word, she added : 

"I don't believe I have. All the rest have one. For my part, I have 

And after a silence, she added : 

"I believe I never had any." 

The man stopped, put the bucket on the ground, stooped down and 
placed his hands upon the child's shoulders, making an effort to look 
at her and see her face in the darkness. 

The thin and puny face of Cosette was vaguely outlined in the livid 
light, of the sky. 

"What is your name ?" said the man. 


It seemed as if the man had an electric shock. He looked at her 
again, then letting go of her shoulders, took up the bucket, and walked 

A moment after, he asked: 

"Little girl, where do you live?" 

"At Montfermeil, if you know it." 

"It is there that we are going ?" 

"Yes, monsieur." 

He made another pause, and then he began : 

"Who is it that has sent you out into the woods after water at this 
time of night?" 

136 Les Miserables 

"Madame Thenardier." 

The man resumed with a tone of voice which he tried to render in- 
different, but in which there was nevertheless a singular tremor : 

"What does she do, your Madame Thenardier ?'^ 

"She is my mistress," said the child. She keeps the tavern." 

"The tavern,'' said the man. "Well I am going there to lodge to- 
night. Show me the way." 

"We are going there," said the child. 

The man walked very fast. Cosette followed him without difficulty. 
She felt fatigue no more. From time to time, she raised her eyes 
towards this man with a sort of tranquillity and inexpressible confi- 
dence. She had never been taught to turn towards Providence and to 
pray. However, she felt in her bosom something that resembled hope 
and joy, and which rose towards heaven. 

A few minutes passed. The man spoke: 

"Is there no servant at Madame Thenardier's ?" 

"^0, monsieur." 

"Are you alone ?" 

"Yes, monsieur." 

They reached the village ; Cosette guided the stranger through the 
streets. They passed by the bakery, but Cosette did not think of the 
bread she was to have brought back. The man questioned her no 
more, and now niaintained a mournful silence. When they had passed 
the church, the man seeing all these booths in the street, asked Cosette : 

"Is it fair-time here!" 

"No, monsieur, it is Christmas." 

As they drew near the tavern, Cosette timidly touched his arm: 

"Monsieur ?" 

"What, my child ?" 

"Here we are close by the house." 


"Will you let me take the bucket now?" 

"What for?" 

"Because, if madame sees that anybody brought it for me, she will 
beat me." 

The man gave her the bucket. A moment after they were at the door 
of the chop-house. 

Cosette 137 


Cosette could not help casting one look towards the grand doll still 
displayed in the toy-shop, then she rapped. The door opened. The 
Thenardiess appeared with a candle in her hand. 

"Oh ! it is you, you little heggar ! Lud-amassy ! you have taken your 
time! she has been playing, the wench!" 

"Madame," said Cosette, trembling, "there is a gentleman who is 
coming to lodge." 

The Thenardiess very quickly replaced her fierce air by her ami- 
able grimace, a change at sight peculiar to innkeepers, and looked for 
the new-comer with eager eyes. 

"Is it monsieur ?" said she. 

"Yes, madame," answered the man, touching his hat. 

Rich travellers are not so polite. This gesture and the sight of 
the stranger's costume and baggage which the Thenardiess passed in 
review at a glance made the amiable grimace disappear and the fierce 
air reappear. She added drily : 

"Enter, goodman." 

The "goodman" entered. The Thenardiess cast a second glance at 
him, examined particularly his long coat which was absolutely thread- 
bare, and his hat which was somewhat broken, and with a nod, a wink, 
and a turn of her nose, consulted her husband, who was still drinking 
with the waggoners. The husband answered by that imperceptible 
shake of the forefinger which, supported by a protrusion of the lips, 
signifies in such a case: "complete destitution." Upon this the The- 
nardiess exclaimed: 

"Ah ! my brave man, I am very sorry, but I have no room." 

"Put me where you will," said the man, "in the garret, in the stable. 
I will pay as if I had a room." 

"Forty sous." 

"Forty sous. Well." 

"In advance." 

"Forty sous," whispered a waggoner to the Thenardiess, "but it is 
only twenty sous." 

"It is forty sous for him," replied the Thenardiess in the same 
tone. "I don't lodge poor people for less." 

138 Les Miserables 

"That is true," added her husband softly, "it ruins a house to have 
this sort of people." 

Meanwhile the man, after leaving his stick and bundle on a bench, 
had seated himself at a table on which Cosette had been quick to place 
a bottle of wine and a glass. The pedlar, who had asked for the bucket 
of water, had gone himself to carry it to his horse. Cosette had re- 
sumed her place under the kitchen table and her knitting. 

The man, who hardly touched his lips to the wine he had turned 
out, was contemplating the child with a strange attention. 
Suddenly, the Thenardiess exclaimed out: 
"Oh! I forgot! that bread!" 

Cosette, according to her custom whenever the Thenardiess raised her 
voice sprang out quickly from under the table. 

She had entirely forgotten the bread. She had recourse to the 
expedient of children who are always terrified. She lied. 
Madame, the baker was shut." 
You ought to have knocked." 
I did knock, madame." 
"Well ?" 

"He didn't open." 

"I'll find out to-morrow if that is true," said the Thenardiess, "and 
if you are lying you will lead a pretty dance. Meantime, give me back 
the fifteen-sous piece. 

Cosette plunged her hand into her apron pocket, and turned white. 
The fifteen-sous piece was not there. 

"Come," said the Thenardiess, "didn't you hear me ?" 
Cosette turned her pocket inside out ; there was nothing there. What 
could have become of that money? The little unfortunate could not 
utter a word. She was petrified. 

"Have you lost it, the fifteen-sous piece ?" screamed the Thenardiess, 
"or do you want to steal it from me ?" 

At the same time she reached her arm towards the cowhide hanging 
in the chimney corner. 

This menacing movement gave Cosette the strength to cry out: 
"Forgive me ! Madame ! Madame ! I won't do so any more !" 
The Thenardiess took down the whip. 
Meanwhile the man in the yellow coat had been fumbling in his 

Cosette 13^ 

waistcoat pocket, without being noticed. The other travellers were 
drinking or playing cards, and paid no attention to anything. 

Cosette was writhing with anguish in the chimney-corner, trying to 
gather up and hide her poor half -naked limbs. The Thenardiess raised 
her arm. 

"I beg your pardon, madame," said the man, "but I just now saw 
something fall out of the pocket of that little girPs apron and roll away. 
That may be it." 

At the same time he stooped down and appeared to search on the 
floor for an instant. 

"Just so, here it is," said he, rising. 

And he handed a silver piece to the Thenardiess. 

"Yes, that is it," said she. 

That was not it, for it was a twenty-sous piece, but the Thenardiess 
found her profit in it. She put the piece in her pocket, and con- 
tented herself with casting a ferocious look at the child and saying: 

"Don't let that happen again, ever." 

Cosette went back to what the Thenardiess called "her hole," 
and her large eyes fixed upon the unknown traveller, began to assume 
an expression that it had never known before. It was still only an 
artless astonishment, but a sort of blind confidence was associated with 

A door now opened, and Eponine and Azelma came in. 

They were really two pretty little girls, rather city girls than 
peasants, very charming, one with her well-polished auburn tresses, the 
other with her long black braids falling down her back, and both so 
lively, neat, plump, fresh, and healthy, that it was a pleasure to see 
them. They were warmly clad, but with such maternal art, that the 
thickness of the stuff detracted nothing from the coquetry of the fit. 
Winter was provided against without effacing spring. These two little 
girls shed light around them. Moreover, they were regnant. In their 
toilet, in their gaiety, in the noise they made, there was sovereignty. 
When they entered, the Thenardiess said to them in a scolding tone, 
which was full of adoration : "Ah ! you are here then, you children !" 

Then, taking them upon her knees one after the other, smoothing 
their hair, tying over their ribbons, and finally letting them go with 
that gentle sort of a shake which is peculiar to mothers, she exclaimed : 

1^0 Les Miserables 

"Are they dowdies!'' 

They went and sat down by the fire. They had a doll which they 
turned backwards and forwards upon their knees with many pretty 
prattlings. From time to time, Cosette raised her eyes from her knit- 
ting, and looked sadly at them as they were playing. 

Eponine and Azelma did not notice Cosette. To them she was like 
the dog. These three little girls could not count twenty-four years 
among them all, and they already represented all human society; on 
one side envy, on the other disdain. 

The doll of the Thenardier sisters was very much faded, and very 
old and broken; and it appeared none the less wonderful to Cosette, 
who had never in her life had a doll, a real doll, to use an expression 
that all children will understand. 

All at once, the Thenardiess who was continually going and coming 
about the room, noticed that Cosette's attention was distracted, and 
that instead of working she was busied with the little girls who were 

"Ah! IVe caught you!'' cried she. "That is the way you work! 
I'll make you work with a cowhide, I will." 

The stranger, without leaving his chair, turned towards the Then- 

"Madame," said he, smiling diffidently. "Pshaw! let her play!" 

Cosette had left her knitting, but she had not moved from her place. 
Cosette always " stirred as little as was possible. She had taken 
from a little box behind her a few old rags, and her little lead sword. 

Eponine and Azelma paid no attention to what was going on. 
They had just performed a very important operation ; they had caught 
the kitten. They had thrown the doll on the floor, and Eponine, the 
elder, was dressing the kitten, in spite of her miaulings and contor- 
tions, with a lot of clothes and red and blue rags. While she was en- 
gaged in this serious and difficult labour, she was talking to her sister 
in that sweet and charming language of children, the grace of which^ 
like the splendour of butterfly's wings, escapes when we try to preserve 

"Look! look, sister, this doll is more amusing than the other. She 
moves, she cries, she is warm. Come, sister, let us play with her. 
She shall be my little girl ; I will be a lady. I'll come to see you, and 

Cosette 141 

you must look at her. By and by you must see her whiskers, and you 
must be surprised. And then you must see her ears, and then you must 
see her tail, and that will astonish you. And you must say to me; 
^Oh ! my stars !' and I will say to you, ^Yes, madame, it is a little girl 
that I have like that.' Little girls are like that now." 

Azelma listened to Eponine with wonder. 

As birds make a nest of anything, children make a doll of no matter 
what. While Eponine and Azelma were dressing up the cat, Cosette, 
for her part, had dressed up the sword. That done, she had laid it 
upon her arm, and was singing it softly to sleep. 

The Thenardiess, on her part, approached the man. 

^^Monsieur," said she — 

At this word monsieur^ the man turned. The Thenardiess had 
called him before only hrave man or good man, 

^^You see, monsieur," she pursued, putting on her sweetest look, 
which was still more unendurable than her ferocious manner, ^^I am 
very willing the child should play, I am not opposed to it ; it is well for 
once, because you are generous. But, you see, she is poor; she must 

"The child is not yours, then ?" asked the man. 

"Oh dear ! no, monsieur ! It is a little pauper that we have taken in 
through charity. A sort of imbecile child. She must have water 
on her brain. Her head is big, as you see. We do all we can for her, 
but we are not rich. We write in vain to her country ; for six months 
we have had no answer. We think that her mother must be dead." 

"Ah !" said the man, and he fell back into his reverie. 

"This mother was no great things," added the Thenardiess. "She 
abandoned her child." 

During this conversation, Cosette, as if an instinct had warned her 
that they were talking about her, had not taken her eyes from the The- 
nardiess. She listened. She heard a few words here and there. 

All at once, Cosette stopped. She had just turned and seen the little 
Thenardiers' doll, which they had forsaken for the cat and left on 
the floor, a few steps from the kitchen table. 

Then she let the bundled-up sword, that only half satisfied her, 
fall, and ran her eyes slowly around the room. The Thenardiess was 
whispering to her husband and counting some money, Eponine and 

142 Les Miserables 

Azelma were playing with the cat, the travellers were eating or drinking 
or singing, nobody was looking at her. She had not a moment to lose. 
She crept out from under the table on her hands and knees, made sure 
once more that nobody was watching her, then darted quickly to the 
doll, and seized it. An instant afterwards she was at her place, seated, 
motionless, only turned in such a way as to keep the doll that she held 
in her arms in the shadow. The happiness of playing with a doll 
was so rare to her that it had all the violence of rapture. 

Nobody had seen her, except the traveller, who was slowly eating 
his meagre supper. 

This joy lasted for nearly a quarter of an hour. 

But in spite of Cosette's precautions, she did not perceive that one 
of the doll's feet stuck out, and that the fire of the fireplace lighted it 
up very vividly. This rosy and luminous foot which protruded from 
the shadow suddenly caught Azelma's eye, and she said to Eponine: 
"Oh! sister!" 

The two little girls stopped, stupefied; Cosette had dared to take 
the doll. 

Eponine got up, and without letting go of the cat, went to her mother 
and began to pull at her skirt. 

"Let me alone," said the mother ; "what do you want ?" 

"Mother," said the child, "look there." 

And she pointed at Cosette. 

Cosette wholly absorbed in the ecstasy of her possession, saw and 
heard nothing else. 

The face of the Thenardiess assumed the peculiar expression which 
is composed of the terrible mingled with the commonplace, and which 
has given this class of women the name of furies. 

This time wounded pride exasperated her anger still more. Cosette 
had leaped over all barriers. Cosette had laid her hands upon the doll 
of "those young ladies." A czarina who had seen a moujik trying 
on the grand cordon of her imperial son would have had the same 

She cried with a voice hard with indignation : 

"Cosette !" 

Cosette shuddered as if the earth had quaked beneath her. She 
turned around. 

Cosette 143 

"Cosette!" repeated the Thenardiess. 

Cosette took the doll and placed it gently on the floor with a kind 
or veneration mingled with despair. Then, without taking away 
her eyes, she joined her hands, and, what is frightful to tell in a child 
of that age, she wrung them ; then, what none of the emotions of the day 
had drawn from her, neither the run in the wood, nor the weight of the 
bucket of water, nor the loss of the money, nor the sight of the cowhide, 
nor even the stern words she had heard from the Thenardiess, she burst 
into tears. She sobbed. 

Meanwhile the traveller arose. 

"What is the matter V^ said he to the Thenardiess. 

"Don't you see ?" said the Thenardiess, pointing with her finger 
to the corpus delicti lying at Cosette' s feet. 

"Well, what is that?" said the man. 

"That beggar," answered the Thenardiess, "has dared to touch the 
children's doll." 

"All this noise about that ?" said the man. "Well, what if she did 
play with that doll ?" 

"She has touched it with her dirty hands !" continued the Thenardiess, 
"with her horrid hands!" 

Here Cosette redoubled her sobs. 

"Be still !" cried the Thenardiess 

The man walked straight to the street door, opened it, and went out. 

As soon as he had gone, the Thenardiess profited by his absence to 
give Cosette under the table a severe kick, which made the child 

The door opened again, and the man reappeared, holding in his hands 
the fabulous doll of which we have spoken, and which had been the 
admiration of all the youngsters of the village since morning; he stood 
it up before Cosette, saying: 

"Here, this is for you." 

It is probable that during the time he had been there — more than 
an hour — in the midst of his reverie, he had caught confused glimpses 
of this toy-shop, lighted up with lamps and candles so splendidly 
that it shone through the bar-room window like an illumination, 

Cosette raised her eyes; she saw the man approach her with the 
doll as she would have seen the sun approach, she heard those astounding 

144 Les Miserables 

words: This is for you. She looked at him, she looked at the doll, 
then she drew hack slowly, and went and hid as far as she could under 
the table in the corner of the room. 

She wept no more, she cried no more, she had the appearance of no 
longer daring to breathe. 

The Thenardiess, Eponine, and Azelma were so many statues. Even 
the drinkers stopped. There was a solemn silence in the whole bar- 

The Thenardiess, petrified and mute, recommenced her conjectures 
anew : "What is this old fellow ? is he a pauper ? is he a millionare ? 
Perhaps he's both, that is a robber." 

The face of the husband Thenardier presented that expressive 
wrinkle which marks the human countenance whenever the dominant 
instinct appears in it with all its brutal power. The innkeeper con- 
templated by turns the doll and the traveller ; he seemed to be scenting 
this man as he would have scented a bag of money. This only lasted 
for a moment. He approached his wife and whispered to her: 

"That machine cost at least thirty francs. No nonsense. Down 
on your knees before the man!" 

Coarse natures have this in common with artless natures, that they 
have no transitions. 

"Well, Cosette," said the Thenardiess in a voice which was meant to 
be sweet, and which was entirely composed of the sour honey of 
vicious women, "a'n't you going to take your doll ?" 

Cosette ventured to come out of her hole. 

"My little Cosette," said Thenardier with a caressing air, "Monsieur 
gives you a doll. Take it. It is yours." 

Cosette looked upon the wonderful doll with a sort of terror. Her 
face was still flooded with tears, but her eyes began to fill, like the 
sky in the breaking of the dawn, with strange radiations of joy. 
What she experienced at that moment was almost like what she would 
have felt if someone had said to her suddenly: Little girl, you are 
queen of France. 

It seemed to her that if she touched that doll, thunder would spring 
forth from it. 

Which was true to some extent, for she thought that the Thenardiess 
would scold and beat her. 

Cosette 14:5 

However the attraction overcame her. She finally approached and 
timidly murmured, turning towards the Thenardiess : 

"Can I, madame f 

No expression can describe her look, at once full of despair, dismay, 
and transport. 

"Good Lord !'' said the Thenardiess, "it is yours. Since monsieur 
gives it to you." 

"Is it true, is it true, monsieur ?" said Cosette ; "is the lady for me ?" 

The stranger appeared to have his eyes full of tears. He seemed 
to be at that stage of emotion in which one does not speak for fear of 
weeping. He nodded assent to Cosette, and put the hand of "the lady'' 
in her little hand. 

Cosette withdrew her hand hastily, as if that o:^ the lady burned her, 
and looked down at the floor. We are compelled to add, that at that 
instant she thrust out her tongue enormously. All at once she turned, 
and seized the doll eagerly. 

"I will call her Catharine," said she. 

It was a strange moment when Cosette's rags met and pressed 
against the ribbons and the fresh pink muslins of the doll. 

"Madame," said she, "may I put her in a chair ?" 

"Yes, my child," answered the Thenardiess. 

It was Eponine and Azelma now who looked upon Cosette with 

Cosette placed Catharine on a chair, then sat down on the floor 
before her, and remained motionless, without saying a word, in the 
attitude of contemplation. 

"Why don't you play, Cosette?" said the stranger. 

"Oh ! I am playing," answered the child. 

This stranger, this unknown man, who seemed like a visit from 
Providence to Cosette, was at that moment the being which the 
Thenardiess hated more than aught else in the world. However 
she was compelled to restrain herself. Her emotions were more than 
she could endure, accustomed as she was to dissimulation, by endeav- 
ouring to copy her husband in all her actions. She sent her daughters 
to bed immediately, then asked the yellow man's permission to send 
Cosette to bed — who is very tired to-day, added she, with a motherly 
air. Cosette went to bed, holding Catharine in her arms. 

i^^ Les Miserables 

Several hours passed away. The midnight mass was said, the 
revel was finished, the drinkers had gone, the house was closed, 
the room was deserted, the fire had gone out, the stranger still remained 
in the same place and in the same posture. From time to time he 
changed the elbow on which he rested. That was all. But he had not 
spoken a word since Cosette was gone. 

The Thenardiers alone, out of propriety and curiosity, had re- 
mained in the room. 

Finally, Thenardier took off his cap, approached softly, and ventured 
to say: — 

"Is monsieur not going to repose V^ 

Not going to bed would have seemed to him too much and too famil- 
iar. To repose implied luxury, and there was respect in it. Such 
words have the mysterious and wonderful property of swelling the bill 
in the morning. A room in which you go to bed costs twenty sous; 
a room in which you repose costs twenty francs. 

"Yes," said the stranger, "you are right. Where is your stable ?" 

"Monsieur," said Thenardier, with a smile, "I will conduct mon- 


He took the candle, the man took his bundle and his staff, and 
Thenardier led him into a room on the first floor, which was very showy, 
furnished all in mahogany, with a high-post bedstead and red calico cur- 

"What is this ?" said the traveller. 

"It is properly our bridal chamber," said the innkeeper. "We 
occupy another like this, my spouse and I ; this is not open more than 
three or four times a year." 

"I should have liked the stable as well," said the man, bluntly. 

Thenardier did not appear to hear this not very civil answer. 

He lighted two entirely new wax candles, which were displayed upon 
the mantel ; a good fire was blazing in the fireplace. There was on the 
mantel, under a glass case, a woman's head-dress of silver thread and 

"What is this ?" said the stranger. 

"Monsieur," said Thenardier, it is my wife's bridal cap." 

The traveller looked at the object with a look which seemed to say : 
"There was a moment, then, when this monster was a virgin.^ 


Cosette 14:7 

Thenardier lied, however. When he hired this shanty to turn it 
into a chop-house, he found the room thus furnished, and bought this 
furniture, and purchased at second-hand these orange-flowers, think- 
ing that this would cast a gracious light over ^^his spouse," and that 
the house would derive from them what the English call respecta- 

When the traveller turned again the host had disappeared. Thenar- 
dier had discreetly taken himself out of the way without daring to say 
good-night, not desiring to treat with a disrespectful cordiality a man 
whom he proposed to skin royally in the morning. 

The innkeeper retired to this room; his wife was in bed, but not 
asleep. When she heard her husband's step, she turned towards him, 
and said: 

"You know that I am going to kick Cosette out doors to-morrow !" 

Thenardier coolly answered : 

"You are, indeed I" 

They exchanged no further words, and in a few moments their can- 
dle was blown out. 

For his part, the traveller had put his staff and bundle in a corner. 
The host gone, he sat down in an arm-chair, and remained some time 
thinking. Then he drew off his shoes, took one of the two candles, blew 
out the other, pushed open the door, and went out of the room, looking 
about him as if he were searching for something. He passed through 
a hall, and came to the stairway. There he heard a very soft little 
sound, which resembled the breathing of a child. Guided by this 
sound he came to a sort of triangular nook built under the stairs, or, 
rather, formed by the staircase itself. This hole was nothing but the 
space beneath the stairs. There, among all sorts of old baskets and 
old rubbish, in the dust and among the cobwebs, there was a bed ; if a 
mattress so full of holes as to show the straw, and a covering so full of 
holes as to show the mattress, can be called a bed. There were no 
sheets. This was placed on the floor immediately on the tiles. In 
this bed Cosette was sleeping. 

The man approached and looked at her. 

Cosette was sleeping soundly; she was dressed. In the winter she 
did not undress on account of the cold. She held the doll clasped in 
her arms; its large open eyes shone in the obscurity. From time to 

148 Les Miserables 

time she heaved a deep sigh, as if she were about to wake, and she 
hugged the doll almost convulsively. There was only one of her wooden 
shoes at the side of her bed. An open door near Cosette's nook dis- 
closed a large dark room. The stranger entered. At the further end, 
through a glass window, he perceived two little beds with very white 
spreads. They were those of Azelma and Eponine. Half hid behind 
these beds was a willow cradle without curtains, in which the little 
boy who had cried all the evening was sleeping. 

The stranger conjectured that this room communicated with that of 
the Thenardiers. He was about to withdraw when his eye fell upon 
the fireplace, one of those huge tavern fireplaces where there is always 
so little fire, when there is a fire, and which are so cold to look upon. 
In this one there was no fire, there were not even any ashes. What 
there was, however, attracted the traveller's attention. It was two 
little children's shoes, of coquettish shape and of different sizes. The 
traveller remembered the graceful and immemorial custom of children 
putting their shoes in the fireplace on Christmas night, to wait there 
in the darkness in expectation of some shining gift from their good 
fairy. Eponine and Azelma had taken good care not to forget this, 
and each had put one of her shoes in the fireplace. 

The traveller bent over them. 

The fairy — that is to say, the mother — had already made her visit, 
and shining in aach shoe was a beautiful new ten-sous piece. 

The man rose up and was on the point of going away, when he per- 
ceived further along, by itself, in the darkest corner of the fireplace, 
another object. He looked, and recognised a shoe, a horrid wooden 
shoe of the clumsiest sort, half broken and covered with ashes and dried 
mud. It was Cosette's shoe. Cosette, with that touching confidence 
of childhood which can always be deceived without ever being dis- 
couraged, had also placed her shoe in the fireplace. 

What a sublime and sweet thing is hope in a child who has never 
known anything but despair! 

There was nothing in this wooden shoe. 

The stranger fumbled in his waitscoat, bent over, and dropped into 
Cosette's shoe a gold Louis. 

Then he went back to his room with stealthy tread. 

Cosette 149 


On the following morning, at least two hours before day, Thenardier, 
seated at a table in the bar-room, a candle by his side, with pen in hand, 
was making out the bill of the traveller in the yellow coat. 

His wife was standing, half bent over him, following him with her 
eyes, ^ot a word passed between them. It was, on one side, a 
profound meditation, on the other that religious admiration with 
which we observe a marvel of the human mind spring up and expand. 
A noise was heard in the house; it was the lark, sweeping the stairs. 

After a good quarter of an hour and some erasures, Thenardier pro- 
duced this masterpiece. 


Supper 3 frs. 

Eoom 10 " 

Candle 5 '' 

Fire 4 " 

Service 1 " 

Total 23 frs. 

Service was written servisse. 

"Twenty-three francs!" exclaimed the woman, with an enthusiasm 
which was mingled with some hesitation. 

Like all great artists, Thenardier was not satisfied. 

"Pooh !'' said he. 

It was the accent of Castlereagh drawing up for the Congress of 
Vienna the bill which France was to pay. 

"Monsieur Thenardier, you are right, he deserves it," murmured 
the woman, thinking of the doll given to Cosette in the presence of 
her daughters ; "it is right ! but it's too much. He won't pay it." 

Thenardier put on his cold laugh, and said : "He will pay it." 

This laugh was the highest sign of certainty and authority. What 
was thus said, must be. The woman did not insist. She began to 
arrange the tables; the husband walked back and forth in the room. 
A moment after he added : 

"I owe, at least, fifteen hundred francs !" 

ISO Les Miserables 

He seated himself thouglitfully in the chimney corner, his feet in 
the warm ashes. 

"Ah ha !'' replied the woman, "you don't forget that I kick Cosette 
out of the house to-day? The monster! it tears my vitals to see her 
with her doll ! I would rather marry Louis XVIII. than keep her in 
the house another day !" 

Thenardier lighted his pipe, and answered between two puifs: 

"You'll give the bill to the man." 

Then he went out. 

He was scarcely out of the room when the traveller came in. 

Thenardier reappeared immediately behind him, and remained 
motionless in the half-open door, visible only to his wife. 

The man carried his staff and bundle in his hand. 

"Up so soon!'' said the Thenardiess; "is monsieur going to leave 
us already?" 

While speaking, she turned the bill in her hands with an embar- 
rassed look, and made creases in it with her nails. Her hard face 
exhibited a shade of timidity and doubt that was not habitual. 

To present such a bill to a man who had so perfectly the appearance 
of "a pauper" seemed too awkward to her. 

The traveller appeared pre-occupied and absent-minded. 

He answered: 

"Yes, madame, I am going away." 

"Monsieur, then, had no business at Montf ermeil ?" replied she. 

"N'o, I am passing through ; that is all. Madame," added he, "what 
do I owe ?" 

The Thenardiess, without answering, handed him the folded bill. 

The man unfolded the paper and looked at it ; but his thoughts were 
evidently elsewhere. 

"Madame," replied he, "do you do a good business in Montfer- 
meil ?" 

"So-so, monsieur," answered the Thenardiess, stupefied at seeing 
no other explosion. 

She continued in a mournful and lamenting strain: 

"Oh! monsieur, the times are very hard, and then we have so few 
rich people around here! It is a very little place, you see. If we 

Cosette 151 

only had rich travellers now and then, like monsieur! We have so 
many expenses ! Why, that little girl eats us out of house and home." 

"What little girl?" 

"Why, the little girl you know ! Cosette ! the lark, as they call her 
about here !" 

"Ah !" said the man. 

She continued: 

"How stupid these peasants are with their nicknames ! She looks 
more like a bat than a lark. You see, monsieur, we don't ask charity, 
but we are not able to give it. We make nothing, and have a great 
deal to pay. The licence, the excise, the doors and windows, the tax 
on everything! Monsieur knows that the government demands a deal 
of money. And then I have my own girls. I have nothing to spend 
on other people's children." 

The man replied in a voice which he endeavoured to render indiffer- 
ent, and in which there was a slight tremulousness. 

"Suppose you were relieved of her?" 

"Who? Cosette?" 


The red and violent face of the woman became illumined with a 
hideous expression. 

"Ah, monsieur! my good monsieur! take her, keep her, take her 
away, carry her off, sugar her, stuff her, drink her, eat her, and be 
blessed by the holy Virgin and all the saints in Paradise !" 


"E-eally ! you will take her away ?" 

"I will." 

"Immediately ?" 

"Immediately. Call the child." 

"Cosette !" cried the Thenardiess. 

"In the meantime," continued the man, "I will pay my bill. How 
much is it ?" 

He cast a glance at the bill, and could not repress a movement of 

"Twenty-three francs ?" 

He looked at the hostess and repeated: 

152 Les Miserables 

"Twenty-tliree francs?" 

There was, in the pronunciation of these two sentences, thus re- 
peated, the accent which lies between the point of exclamation and the 
point of interrogation. 

The Thenardiess had had time to prepare herself for the shock. 
She replied with assurance: 

"Yes, of course, monsieur ! it is twenty-three francs." 

The stranger placed ^ve five-franc pieces upon the table. 

"Go for the little girl," said he. 

At this moment Thenardier advanced into the middle of the room 
and said: 

"Monsieur owes twenty-six sous." 

"Twenty-six sous !" exclaimed the woman. 

"Twenty sous for the room," continued Thenardier coldly, "and six 
for supper. As to the little girl, I must have some talk with monsieur 
about that. Leave us, wife." 

The Thenardiess was dazzled by one of those unexpected flashes 
which emanate from talent. She felt that the great actor had entered 
upon the scene, answered not a word, and went out. 

As soon as they were alone, Thenardier offered the traveller a 
chair. The traveller sat down, but Thenardier remained standing, 
and his face assumed a singular expression of good-nature and 

"Monsieur," said he, "listen, I, must say that I adore this child." 

The stranger looked at him steadily. 

"What child ?" 

Thenardier continued: 

"How strangely we become attached! What is all this silver? 
Take back your money. This child I adore." 

"Who is that?" asked the stranger. 

"Oh, our little Cosette ! And you wish to take her away from us ? 
Indeed, I speak frankly, as true as you are an honourable man, I can- 
not consent to it. I should miss her. I have had her since she was 
very small. It is true, she costs us money; it is true she has her 
faults, it is true we are not rich, it is true I paid four hundred francs 
for medicines at one time when she was sick. But we must do some- 
thing for God. She has neither father nor mother; I have brought 

Cosette 153 

her up. I have bread enough for her and for myself. In fact, I 
must keep this child. You understand, we have affections; I am a 
good beast; myself; I do not reason; I love this little girl; my wife 
is hasty, but she loves her also. You see, she is like our own child. 
I feel the need of her prattle in the house." 

The stranger was looking steadily at him all the while. He con- 
tinued : 

"Pardon me, excuse me, monsieur, but one does not give his child 
like that to a traveller. IsnH it true that I am right ? After that, I 
don't say — you are rich and have the appearance of a very fine man — 
if it is for her advantage, — but I must know about it. You under- 
stand ? On the supposition that I should let her go and sacrifice my 
own feelings, I should want to know where she is going. I would 
not want to lose sight of her, I should want to know who she was with, 
that I might come and see her now and then, and that she might know 
that her good foster-father was still watching over her. Finally, there 
are things which are not possible. I do not know even your name. 
If you should take her away, I should say, alas for the little Lark, 
where has she gone? I must, at least see some poor rag of paper, a 
bit of a passport, something." 

The stranger, without removing from him this gaze which went, 
so to speak, to the bottom of his conscience, answered in a severe and 
firm tone: 

"Monsieur Thenardier, people do not take a passport to come five 
leagues from Paris. If I take Cosette, I take her, that is all. You 
will not know my name, you will not know my abode, you will not 
know where she goes, and my intention is that she shall never see you 
again in her life. Do you agree to that ? Yes or no ?" 

"Monsieur," said he, "I must have fifteen hundred francs." 

The stranger took from his side-pocket an old black leather pocket- 
book, opened it, and drew forth three bank bills which he placed upon 
the table. He then rested his large thumb on these bills, and said 
to the tavern-keeper. 

"Bring Cosette." 

An instant after, Cosette entered the bar-room. 

The stranger took the bundle he had brought and untied it. This 
bundle contained a little woollen frock, an apron, a coarse cotton under- 

154 Les Miserables 

garment, a petticoat, a scarf, woollen stockings, and shoes — a complete 
dress for a girl of seven years. It was all in black. 

"My child," said the man, "take this and go and dress yourself 

The day was breaking when those of the inhabitants of Montfermeil 
who were beginning to open their doors, saw pass on the road to Paris 
a poorly clad goodman leading a little girl dressed in mourning who 
had a pink doll in her arms. They were going towards Livry. 

It was the stranger and Cosette. 

'No one recognised the man; as Cosette was not now in tatters, few 
recognised her. 

Cosette was going away. With whom? She was ignorant. 
Where ? She knew not. All she understood was, that she was leaving 
behind the Thenardier chop-house. ^Nobody had thought of bidding 
her good-by, nor had she of bidding good-by to anybody. She went 
out from that house, hated and hating. 

Poor gentle being, whose heart had only been crushed hitherto. 

Cosette walked seriously along, opening her large eyes, and looking 
at the sky. She had put her louis in the pocket of her new apron. 
Prom time to time she bent over and cast a glance at it, and then looked 
at the goodman. She felt somewhat as if she were near God. 


The Thenardiess, according to her custom, had left her husband alone. 
She was expecting great events. When the man and Cosette were 
gone, Thenardier, after a good quarter of an hour, took her aside, and 
showed her the fifteen hundred francs. 

"What's that ?" said she. 

It was the first time, since the beginning of their housekeeping, 
that she had dared to criticise the act of her master. 

He felt the blow. 

"True, you are right," said he ; I am a fool. Give me my hat." 

He folded the three bank bills, thrust them into his pocket, and 
started in all haste, but he missed the direction and took the road to 
the right. Some neighbours of whom he inquired put him on the 
track; the Lark and the man had been seen to go in the direction of 

Cosette 155 

Livry. He followed this indication, walking rapidly and talking to 

"This man is evidently a millionaire dressed in yellow, and as for 
me, I am a brute. He first gave twenty sous, then five francs, then 
fifty francs, then fifteen hundred francs, all so readily. He would 
have given fifteen thousand francs. But I shall catch him." 

And then this bundle of clothes, made ready beforehand for the 
little girl ; all that was strange, there was a good deal of mystery under 
it. When one gets hold of a mystery, he does not let go of it. The 
secrets of the rich are sponges full of gold ; a man ought to know how 
to squeeze them. All these thoughts were whirling in his brain. "I 
am a brute," said he. 

On leaving Montfermeil and reaching the turn made by the road 
to Livry, the route may be seen for a long distance on the plateau. On 
reaching this point he counted on being able to see the man and the 
little girl. He looked as far as his eye could reach, but saw nothing. 
He inquired again. In the meanwhile he was losing time. The 
passer-by told him that the man and child whom he sought had travelled 
towards the wood in the direction of Gagny. He hastened in this 

They had the start of him, but a child walks slowly, and he went 
rapidly. And then the country was well known to him. 

Suddenly he stopped and struck his forehead like a man who has 
forgotten the main thing, and who thinks of retracing his steps. 

"I ought to have taken my gun !" said he. 

Thenardier was one of those double natures who sometimes appear 
among us without our knowledge, and disappear without ever being 
known, because destiny has shown us but one side of them. It is the 
fate of many men to live thus half submerged. In a quiet ordinary 
situation, Thenardier had all that is necessary to make — we do not 
say to be — what passes for an honest tradesman, a good citizen. At 
the same time, under certain circumstances, under the operation of 
certain occurrences exciting his baser nature, he had in him all that 
was necessary to be a villain. He was a shopkeeper, in which lay 
hidden a monster. Satan ought for a moment to have squatted in 
some corner of the hole in which Thenardier lived and studied this 
hideous masterpiece. 

156 Les Miserables 

After hesitating an instant: 

^'Bah !" thought he, "they would have time to escape !" 

And he continued on his way, going rapidly forward, and almost 
as if he were certain, with the sagacity of the fox scenting a flock 
of partridges. 

In fact, when he had passed the ponds, and crossed obliquely the 
large meadow at the right of the avenue de Bellevue, as he reached the 
grassy path which nearly encircles the hill, and which covers the arch 
of the old aqueduct of the abbey of Chelles, he perceived above a bush, 
the hat on which he had already built so many conjectures. It was 
the man's hat. The bushes were low. Thenardier perceived that the 
man and Cosette were seated there. The child could not be seen, she 
was so short, but he could see the head of the doll. 

Thenardier was not deceived. The man had sat down there to give 
Cosette a little rest. The chop-house keeper turned aside the bushes, 
and suddenly appeared before the eyes of those whom he sought. 

"Pardon me, excuse me, monsieur," said he, all out of breath; 
*'but here are your fifteen hundred francs." 

So saying, he held out the three bank bills to the stranger. 

The man raised his eyes : 

"What does that mean ?" 

Thenardier answered respectfully: 

"Monsieur, that means that I take back Cosette." 

Cosette shuddered, and hugged close to the goodman. 

He answered, looking Thenardier straight in the eyes, and spacing 
his syllables. 

"You— take— back— Cosette ?" 

"Yes, monsieur, I take her back. I tell you I have reflected. In- 
deed, I haven't the right to give her to you. I am an honest man, 
you see. This little girl is not mine. She belongs to her mother. 
Her mother has confided her to me; I can only give her up to her 
mother. You will tell me: But her mother is dead. Well. In 
that case, I can only give up the child to a person who shall bring me a 
written order, signed by the mother, stating I should deliver the child 
to him. That is clear." 

The man, without answering, felt in his pocket, and Thenardier 
saw the pocket-book containing the bank bills reappear. 

Cosette 157 

The tavern-keeper felt a thrill of joy. 

"Good!'' thought he; "hold on. He is going to corrupt me!" 

Before opening the pocket-book, the traveller cast a look about him. 
The place was entirely deserted. There was not a soul either in the 
wood, or in the valley. The man opened the pocket-book, and drew 
from it, not the handful of bank-bills which Thenardier expected, but 
a little piece of paper, which he unfolded and presented open to the 
innkeeper, saying: 

"You are right. Read that!" 

Thenardier took the paper and read. 

"M sur M , March 25, 1823. 

"Monsieur Thenardier: 

"You will deliver Cosette to the bearer. He will settle all small debts. 

"I have the honour to salute you with consideration. 


"You know that signature ?" replied the man. 

It was indeed the signature of Fantine. Thenardier recognised it. 

There was nothing to say. He felt doubly enraged, enraged at 
being compelled to give up the bribe which he hoped for, and enraged 
at being beaten. The man added: 

"You can keep this paper as your receipt." 

Thenardier retreated in good order. 

"This signature is very well imitated," he grumbled between his 
teeth. "Well, so be it !" 

Then he made a desperate effort. 

"Monsieur," said he, "it is all right. Then you are the person. 
But you must settle ^all small debts.' There is a large amount due 
to me." 

The man rose to his feet, and said at the same time, snapping with 
his thumb and finger some dust from his threadbare sleeve : 

"Monsieur Thenardier, in January the mother reckoned that she 
owed you a hundred and twenty francs; you sent her in February a 
memorandum of ^yb hundred francs; you received three hundred 
francs at the end of February, and three hundred at the beginning of 
March. There has since elapsed nine months which, at fifteen francs 
per month, the price agreed upon, amounts to a hundred and thirty- 

158 Les Miserables 

^Ye francs. You had received a hundred francs in advance. There 
remain thirty-five francs due you. I have just given you fifteen hun- 
dred francs." 

Thenardier felt what the wolf feels the moment when he finds him- 
self seized and crushed by the steel jaws of the trap. 

^^What is this devil of a man ?" thought he. 

He did what the wolf does, he gave a spring. Audacity had suc- 
ceeded with him once already. 

"Monsieur-I-don't-know-your-name," said he resolutely, and putting 
aside this time all show of respect. "I shall take back Cosette or you 
must give me a thousand crowns." 

The stranger said quietly: 

"Come, Cosette." 

He took Cosette with his left hand, and with the right picked up 
his staff, which was on the ground. 

Thenardier noted the enormous size of the cudgel, and the solitude of 
the place. 

The man disappeared in the wood with the child, leaving the chop- 
house keeper motionless and non-plussed. 

As they walked away, Thenardier observed his broad shoulders, a 
little rounded, and his big fists. 

Then his eyes fell back upon his own puny arms and thin hands. 
"I must have been a fool indeed," thought he, "not to have brought my 
gun, as I was going on a hunt." < 

However, the innkeeper did not abandon the pursuit. 

"I must know where he goes," said he; and he began to follow 
them at a distance. There remained two things in his possession, 
one a bitter mockery, the piece of paper signed Fantine, and the other 
a consolation, the fifteen hundred francs. 

The man was leading Cosette in the direction of Livry and Bondy. 
He was walking slowly, his head bent down, in an attitude of reflec- 
tion and sadness. The winter had bereft the wood of foliage, so that 
Thenardier did not lose sight of them, though remaining at a consider- 
able distance behind. From time to time the man turned, and looked 
to see if he were followed. Suddenly he perceived Thenardier. He 
at once entered a coppice with Cosette, and both disappeared from 
sight. "The devil!" said Thenardier. And he redoubled his pace. 

Cosette 1^9 

The density of the thicket compelled him to approach them. When 
the man reached the thickest part of the wood, he turned again. 
Thenardier had endeavoured to conceal himself in the branches in 
vain, he could not prevent the man from seeing him. The man cast 
an uneasy glance at him, then shook his head, and resumed his journey. 
The innkeeper again took up the pursuit. They walked thus two or 
three hundred paces. Suddenly the man turned again. He per- 
ceived the innkeeper. This time he looked at him so forbiddingly 
that Thenardier judged it "unprofitable" to go further. Thenardier 
went home. 


Jean Valjean was not dead. 

When he fell into the sea, or rather when he threw himself into it, 
he was, as we have seen, free from his irons. He swam under water 
to a ship at anchor to which a boat was fastened. 

He found means to conceal himself in this boat until evening. 
At night he betook himself again to the water, and reached the land 
a short distance from Cape Brun. 

There, as he did not lack for money, he could procure clothes. A 
little public-house in the environs of Balaguier was then the place 
which supplied clothing for escaped convicts, a lucrative business. 
Then Jean Valjean, like all those joyless fugitives who are endeavouring 
to throw off the track the spy of the law and social fatality, followed 
an obscure and wandering path. He found an asylum first in Pra- 
deaux, near Beausset. Then he went towards Grand Villard, near 
Briangon, in the Hautes Alpes. Groping and restless flight, threading 
the mazes of the mole whose windings are unknown. There were after- 
wards found some trace of his passage in Ain, on the territory of 
Civrieux, in the Pyrenees at Accons, at a place called the Grange-de- 
Domecq, near the hamlet of Chavailles, and in the environs of 
Perigneux, at Brunies, a canton of Chapelle Gonaguet. He finally 
reached Paris. We have seen him at Montfermeil. 

His first care, on reaching Paris, had been to purchase a mourning 
dress for a little girl of seven years, then to procure lodgings. That 
done, he had gone to Montfermeil. 

160 Les Miserables 

At the time of his former escape, or near that time, he had made a 
mysterious journey of which justice had had some glimpse. 

Moreover, he was believed to be dead, and that thickened the ob- 
scurity which surrounded him. At Paris there fell into his hands 
a paper which chronicled the fact. He felt reassured, and almost at 
peace as if he really had been dead. 

On the evening of the same day that Jean Valjean had rescued 
Cosette from the clutches of the Thenardiess, he entered Paris again. 
He entered the city at night-fall, with the child, by the barriere de 
Monceaux. There he took a cabriolet, which carried him as far as 
the esplanade of the Observatory. There he got out, paid the driver, 
took Cosette by the hand, and both in the darkness of the night, through 
the deserted streets in the vicinity of I'Ourcine and la Glaciere, walked 
towards the boulevard de I'Hopital. 

The day had been strange and full of emotion for Cosette ; they had 
eaten behind hedges bread and cheese bought at isolated chop-houses ; 
they had often changed carriages, and had travelled short distances on 
foot. She did not complain; but she was tired, and Jean Valjean 
perceived it by her pulling more heavily at his hand while walking. 
He took her in his arms; Cosette, without letting go of Catharine, 
laid her head on Jean Val jean's shoulder, and went to sleep. 



Before the Gorbeau tenement Jean Valjean stopped. Like the birds 
of prey, he had chosen this lonely place to make his nest. 

He fumbled in his waistcoat and took from it a sort of night-key, 
opened the door, entered, then carefully closed it again and ascended 
the stairway, still carrying Cosette. 

At the top of the stairway he drew from his pocket another key, 
with which he opened another door. The chamber which he entered 
and closed again immediately was a sort of garret, rather spacious, 
furnished only with a mattress spread on the floor, a table and a few 

Cosette 161 

chairs. A stove containing a fire, the coals of which were visible, 
stood in one corner. The street lamp of the boulevard shed a dim 
light through this poor interior. At the further extremity there was 
a little room containing a cot bed. On this Jean Valjean laid the 
child without waking her. 

He struck a light with flint and steel and lit a candle, which, with 
his tinder-box, stood ready beforehand, on the table; and, as he had 
done on the preceding evening, he began to gaze upon Cosette with a 
look of ecstasy, in which the expression of goodness and tenderness 
went almost to the verge of insanity. The little girl, with that tran- 
quil confidence which belongs only to extreme strength or extreme weak- 
ness, had fallen asleep without knowing with whom she was, and 
continued to slumber without knowing where she was. 

Jean Valjean bent down and kissed the child's hand. 

Nine months before, he had kissed the hand of the mother, who 
also had just fallen asleep. 

The same mournful, pious, agonising feeling now filled his heart. 

He knelt down by the bedside of Cosette. 

It was broad daylight, and yet the child slept on. A pale ray from 
the December sun struggled through the garret window and traced 
upon the ceiling long streaks of light and shade. Suddenly a carrier's 
waggon, heavily laden, trundled over the cobble-stones of the boulevard, 
and shook the old building like the rumbling of a tempest, jarring it 
from cellar to roof -tree. 

"Yes, madame !'' cried Cosette, starting up out of sleep, "here I 
am ! here I am !" 

And she threw herself from the bed, her eyelids still half closed 
with the weight of slumber, stretching out her hand towards the 
corner of the wall. 

"Oh ! what shall I do ? Where is my broom ?" said she. 

By this time her eyes were fully open, and she saw the smiling face 
of Jean Valjean. 

"Oh ! yes — so it is !'' said the child. "Good morning, monsieur." 

Children at once accept joy and happiness with quick familiarity, 
being themselves naturally all happiness and joy. 

Cosette noticed Catharine at the foot of the bed, laid hold of her 
at once, and, playing the while, asked Jean Valjean a thousand ques- 

162 Les Miserables 

tions. — Wliere was she? Was Paris a big place? Was Madame 
Thenar dier really far away ? Wouldn't she come back again, etc., etc. 
All at once she exclaimed, "How pretty it is here!" 

It was a frightful hovel, but she felt free. 

"Must I sweep ?" she continued at length. 

"Play!" replied Jean Valjean. 

And thus the day passed by. Cosette without troubling herself 
with trying to understand anything about it, was inexpressibly happy 
with her doll and her good friend. 


The dawn of the next day found Jean Valjean again near the bed 
of Cosette. He waited there, motionless, to see her wake. 

Something new was entering his soul. 

Jean Valjean had never loved anything. For twenty-five years 
he had been alone in the world. He had never been a father, lover, 
husband, or friend. At the galleys, he was cross, sullen, abstinent, 
ignorant, and intractable. The heart of the old convict was full of 
freshness. His sister and her children had left in his memory only 
a vague and distant impression, which had finally almost entirely 
vanished. He had made every exertion to find them again, and, not 
succeeding, had forgotten them. Human nature is thus constituted. 
The other tender emotions of his youth, if any such he had, were lost 
in an abyss. 

When he saw Cosette, when he had taken her, carried her away, and 
rescued her, he left his heart moved. All that he had of feeling and 
affection was aroused and vehemently attracted towards this child. He 
would approach the bed where she slept, and would tremble there with 
delight; he felt inward yearnings, like a mother, and knew not what 
they were; for it is something very incomprehensible and very sweet, 
this grand and strange emotion of a heart in its first love. 

Poor old heart, so young ! 

But, as he was fifty-five, and Cosette was but eight years old, all 
that he might have felt of love in his entire life melted into a sort of 
ineffable radiance. 

This was the second white vision he had seen. The bishop had 

Cosette 163 

caused the dawn of virtue on his horizon; Cosette evoked the dawn 
of love. 

The first few days rolled by amid this bewilderment. 

In the meanwhile, Jean Valjean had well chosen his hiding-place. 
He was there in a state of security that seemed to be complete. 

The apartment with the side chamber which he occupied with 
Cosette, was the one whose window looked out upon the boulevard. 
This window being the only one in the house, there was no neighbour's 
prying eye to fear either from that side or opposite. 

The lower floor of 'No. 50-52 was a sort of dilapidated shed; it 
served as a sort of stable for market gardeners, and had no communi- 
cation with the upper floor. It was separated from it by the flooring, 
which had neither stairway nor trap-door, and was, as it were, the 
diaphragm of the old building. The upper floor contained several 
rooms and a few lofts, only one of which was occupied — by an old 
woman, who was maid of all work to Jean Valjean. All the rest was 

It was this old woman, honoured with the title of landlady, but, 
in reality, intrusted with the functions of portress, who had rented 
him these lodgings on Christmas Day. He had passed himself off 
to her as a gentleman of means, ruined by the Spanish Bonds, who 
was going to live there with his granddaughter. He had paid her for 
six months in advance, and engaged the old dame to furnish the 
chamber and the little bedroom, as we have described them. This old 
woman it was who had kindled the fire in the stove and made every- 
thing ready for them, on the evening of their arrival. 

Weeks rolled by. These two beings led in that wretched shelter a 
happy life. 

From the earliest dawn, Cosette laughed, prattled, and sang. Chil- 
dren have their morning song, like birds. 

Sometimes it happened that Jean Valjean would take her little red 
hand, all chapped and frost-bitten as it was, and kiss it. The poor 
child, accustomed only to blows, had no idea what this meant, and 
would draw back ashamed. 

At times, she grew serious and looked musingly at her little black 
dress. Cosette was no longer in rags ; she was in mourning. She was 
issuing from utter poverty and was entering upon life. 

164 Les Miserables 

Jean Yaljean had begun to teach her to read. Sometimes, while 
teaching the child to spell, he would remember that it was with the 
intention of accomplishing evil that he had learned to read, in the 
galleys. This intention had now been changed into teaching a child 
to read. Then the old convict would smile with the pensive smile of 

He felt in this a pre-ordination from on high, a volition of some 
one more than man, and he would lose himself in reverie. Good 
thoughts as well as bad have their abysses. 

To teach Cosette to read, and to watch her playing, was nearly all 
Jean Val jean's life. And then, he would talk to her about her mother, 
and teach her to pray. 

She called him Father, and knew him by no other name. 


Jean" Yaljean was prudent enough never to go out in the daytime. 
Every evening, however, about twilight, he would walk for an hour 
or two, sometimes alone, often with Cosette, selecting the most un- 
frequented side alleys of the boulevards and going into the churches 
at nightfall. He was fond of going to St. Medard, which is the nearest 
church. When he did not take Cosette, she remained with the old 
woman ; but it was the child's ' delight to go out with her kind old 
friend. She preferred an hour with him even to her delicious tete-d- 
tetes with Catharine. He would walk along holding her by the hand, 
and telling her pleasant things. It turned out that Cosette was very 
playful. The old woman was housekeeper and cook, and did the mar- 
keting. They lived frugally, always with a little fire in the stove, but 
like people in embarrassed circumstances. Jean Yaljean made no 
change in the furniture described on the first day, excepting that he 
caused a solid door to be put up in place of the glass door of Cosette's 
little bed-chamber. 

He still wore his yellow coat, his black pantaloons and his old hat. 
On the street he was taken for a beggar. It sometimes happened 
that kind-hearted dames, in passing, would turn and hand him a penny. 
Jean Yaljean accepted the penny and bowed humbly. It chanced, 

Cosette 165 

sometimes, also, that he would meet some wretched creature begging 
alms, and then, glancing about him to be sure that no one was looking, 
he would stealthily approach the beggar, slip a piece of money, often 
silver, into his hand, and walk rapidly away. This had its incon- 
veniences. He began to be known in the quarter as the beggar who 
gives alms, 


There was, in the neighbourhood of Saint Medard, a beggar who sat 
crouching over the edge of a condemned public well near by, and to 
whom Jean Valjean often gave alms. He never passed this man 
without giving him a few pennies. Sometimes he spoke to him. Those 
who were envious of this poor creature said he was in the pay of the 
police. He was an old church beadle of seventy-five, who was always 
mumbling prayers. 

One evening, as Jean Valjean was passing that way, unaccompanied 
by Cosette, he noticed the beggar sitting in his usual place, under the 
street lamp which had just been lighted. The man, according to 
custom, seemed to be praying and was bent over. Jean Valjean 
walked up to him, and put a piece of money in his hand, as usual. 
The beggar suddenly raised his eyes, gazed intently at Jean Valjean, 
and then quickly dropped his head. This movement was like a flash ; 
Jean Valjean shuddered; it seemed to him that he had just seen, by 
the light of the street-lamp, not the calm sanctimonious face of the aged 
beadle, but a terrible and well-known countenance. He experienced 
the sensation one would feel on finding himself suddenly face to face, 
in the gloom, with a tiger. He recoiled, horror-stricken and petrified, 
daring neither to breathe nor to speak, to stay nor to fly, but gazing 
upon the beggar who had once more bent down his head, with its tat- 
tered covering, and seemed to be no longer conscious of his presence. 
At this singular moment, an instinct, perhaps the mysterious instinct 
of self-preservation, prevented Jean Valjean from uttering a word. 
The beggar had the same form, the same rags, the same general ap- 
pearance as on every other day. "Pshaw !" said Jean Valjean to him- 
self, "I am mad! I am dreaming! It cannot be!" And he went 
home, anxious and ill at ease. 

166 Les Miserables 

He scarcely dared to admit, even to himself, that the countenance 
he thought he had seen was the face of Javert. 

That night, upon reflection, he regretted that he had not questioned 
the man so as to compel him to raise his head a second time. On the 
morrow, at nightfall, he went thither, again. The beggar was in his 
place. "Good day! Good day!" said Jean Yaljean, with firmness, 
as he gave him the accustomed alms. The beggar raised his head and 
answered in a whining voice: "Thanks, kind sir, thanks!" It was, 
indeed, only the old beadle. 

Jean Yaljean now felt reassured. He even began to laugh. "What 
the deuce was I about to fancy that I saw Javert," thought he ; "is my 
sight growing poor already ?" And he thought no more about it. 

Some days after, it might be eight o'clock in the evening, he was in 
his room, giving Cosette her spelling lesson, which the child was re- 
peating in a loud voice, when he heard the door of the building open 
and close again. That seemed odd to him. The old woman, the only 
occupant of the house beside himself and Cosette, always went to bed 
at dark to save candles. Jean Valjean made a sign to Cosette to be 
silent. He heard some one coming up stairs. Possibly, it might be 
the old woman who had felt unwell and had been to the druggist's. 
Jean Valjean listened. The footsteps was heavy, and sounded like a 
man's; but the old woman wore heavy shoes, and there is nothing so 
much like the step of a man as the step of an old woman. However, 
Jean Yaljean blew out his candle. 

He sent Cosette to bed, telling her in a suppressed voice to lie down 
very quietly — and, as he kissed her forehead, the footsteps stopped. 
Jean Yaljean remained silent and motionless, his back turned towards 
the door, still seated on his chair from which he had not moved, and 
holding his breath in the darkness. After a considerable interval, not 
hearing anything more, he turned round without making any noise, 
and as he raised his eyes towards the door of his room, he saw a light 
through the keyhole. This ray of light was an evil star in the black 
background of the door and the wall. There was, evidently somebody 
outside with a candle who was listening. 

A few minutes elapsed, and the light disappeared. But he heard 
no sound of footsteps, which seemed to indicate that whoever was listen- 
ing at the door had taken off his shoes. 

Cosette 16T 

Jean Valjean threw himself on his bed without undressing, but could 
not shut his eyes that night. 

At daybreak, as he was sinking into slumber from fatigue, he was 
aroused, again, by the creaking of the door of some room at the end of 
the hall, and then he heard the same footstep which had ascended the 
stairs, on the preceding night. The step approached. He started 
from his bed and placed his eye to the keyhole, which was quite a 
large one, hoping to get a glimpse of the person, whoever it might be, 
who had made his way into the building in the night-time and had 
listened at his door. It was a man, indeed, who passed by Jean Val- 
jean's room, this time without stopping. The hall was still too dark 
for him to make out his features; but, when the man reached the 
stairs, a ray of light from without made his figure stand out like a 
profile, and Jean Valjean had a full view of his back. The man was 
tall, wore a long frock-coat, and had a cudgel under his arm. It was 
the redoubtable form of Javert. 

Jean Valjean might have tried to get another look at him through 
his window that opened on the boulevard, but he would have to raise 
the sash, and that he dared not do. 

It was evident that the man had entered by means of a key, as if at 
home. "Who, then, had given him the key ? — and what was the mean- 
ing of this ?" 

At seven in the morning, when the old lady came to clear up the 
rooms, Jean Valjean eyed her sharply, but asked her no questions. 
The good dame appeared as usual. 

While she was doing her sweeping, she said : — 

"Perhaps monsieur heard some one come in, last night?" 

At her age and on that boulevard, eight in the evening is the very 
darkest of the night. 

"Ah ! yes, by the way, I did," he answered in the most natural tone. 
"Who was it?" 

"It's a new lodger," said the old woman," who has come into the 

"And his name is ?" 

"Well, I hardly recollect now. Dumont or Daumont. — Some such 
name as that." 

"And what is he — this M. Daumont ?" 

168 Les Miserables 

The old woman studied him, a moment, through her little foxy eyes, 
and answered*: 

^^He's a gentleman living on his income like you." 

She may have intended nothing by this, but Jean Valjean thought 
he could make out that she did. 

When the old woman was gone, he made a roll of a hundred francs 
he had in a drawer and put it into his pocket. Do what he would to 
manage this so that the clinking of the silver should not be heard, a 
iive-franc piece escaped his grasp and rolled jingling away over the 

At dusk, he went to the street-door and looked carefully up and down 
the boulevard. 'No one was to be seen. The boulevard seemed to be 
utterly deserted. It is true that there might have been some one hid- 
den behind a tree. 

He went upstairs again. 

"Come," said he to Cosette. 

He took her by the hand and they both went out. 



Jean Valjeajst knew, no more than Cosette, where he was going. He 
trusted in God, as she trusted in him. It seemed to him that he also 
held some one greater than himself by the hand ; he believed he felt a 
being leading him, invisible. Finally, he had no definite idea, no 
plan, no project. He was not even absolutely sure that this was 
Javert, and then it might be Javert, and Javert not know that he was 
Jean Valjean. Was he not disguised ? was he not supposed to be dead ? 
N^evertheless, singular things had happened within the last few days. 
He wanted no more of them. He was determined not to enter Gorbeau 
House again. Like the animal hunted from his den, he was looking for 
a hole to hide in until he could find one to remain in. 

Jean Valjean described many and varied labyrinths in the Quartier 
Mouffetard, which was asleep already as if it were still under the dis- 

Cosette , 16^ 

cipline of the middle age and the yoke of the curfew; he produced 
different combinations, in wise strategy, with the Rue Censier and 
the Rue Copeau, the Rue du Battoir Saint Victor and the Rue du 
Puits TErmite. There are lodgings in that region, but he did not 
even enter them, not finding what suited him. He had no doubt what- 
ever that if, perchance, they had sought his track, they had lost it. 

As eleven o'clock struck in the tower of Saint Etienne du Mont, he 
crossed the Rue de Pontoise in front of the bureau of the Commissary 
of Police, which is at No. 14. Some moments afterwards, the instinct 
of which we have already spoken made him turn his head. At this 
moment he saw distinctly — thanks to the commissary's lamp which re- 
vealed them — three men following him quite near, pass one after 
another under this lamp on the dark side of the street. One of these 
men entered the passage leading to the commissary's house. The one 
in advance appeared to him decidedly suspicious. 

"Come, child !" said he to Cosette, and he made haste to get out of 
the Rue de Pontoise. 

He made a circuit, went round the arcade des Patriarches, which 
was closed on account of the lateness of the hour, walked rapidly 
through the Rue de I'Epee-de-Bois and the Rue de I'Arbalete, and 
plunged into the Rue des Postes. 

There was a square there, where the College Rollin now is, and from 
which branches off the Rue JSTeuve-Sainte-Genevieve. 

(We need not say that the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve is an old 
street, and that there a postchaise did not pass once in ten years through 
the Rue des Postes. This Rue des Postes was in the thirteenth cen- 
tury inhabited by potters, and its true name is Rue des Pots.) 

The moon lighted up this square brightly. Jean Valjean concealed 
himself in a doorway, calculating that if these men were still following 
him, he could not fail to get a good view of them when they crossed 
this lighted space. 

In fact, three minutes had not elapsed when the men appeared. 
There were now four of them; all were tall, dressed in long brown 
coats, with round hats, and great clubs in their hands. They were not 
less fearfully forbidding by their size and their large fists than by their 
stealthy tread in the darkness. One would have taken them for four 
spectres in citizen's dress. 

I'^O Les Miserables 

They stopped in the centre of the square and formed a group like 
people consulting. They appeared undecided. The man who seemed 
to be the leader turned and energetically pointed in the direction in 
which Jean Valjean was; one of the others seemed to insist with some 
obstinacy on the contrary direction. At the instant when the leader 
turned, the moon shone full in his face. Jean Valjean recognised 
Javert perfectly. 



IJncertainty was at an end for Jean Valjean; happily, it still con- 
tinued with these men. He took advantage of their hesitation; it 
was time lost for them, gained for him. He came out from the door- 
way in which he was concealed, and made his way into the E,ue des 
Postes towards the region of the Jardin des Plantes. Cosette began 
to be tired; he took her in his arms, and carried her. There was no- 
body in the streets, and the lamps had not been lighted on account of 
the moon. 

He doubled his pace. 

He passed through the Rue de la Clef, then by the Fontaine de Saint 
Victor along the Jardin des Plantes by the lower streets, and reached 
the quay. There he looked around. The quay was deserted. The 
streets were deserted. ^N^obody behind him. He took breath. 

He arrived at the bridge of Austerlitz. 

It was still a toll-bridge at this period. 

He presented himself at the toll-house and gave a sous. 

"It is two sous,'' said the toll-keeper. "You are carrying a child 
who can walk. Pay for two." 

He paid, annoyed that his passage should have attracted observation. 
All flight should be a gliding. 

A large cart was passing the Seine at the same time, and like him 
was going towards the right bank. This could be made of use. He 
could go the whole length of the bridge in the shade of this cart. 

Towards the middle of the bridge, Cosette, her feet becoming numb, 
desired to walk. He put her down and took her by the hand. 

The bridge passed, he perceived some wood-yards a little to the right 

@ Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc, 



Cosette I'i^l 

and walked in that direction. To get there, he must venture into 
a large clear open space. He did not hesitate. Those who followed 
him were evidently thrown off his track, and Jean Valjean believed 
himself out of danger. Sought for, he might be, but followed he was 

A little street, the Kue du Chemin Vert Saint Antoine, opened 
between two wood-yards inclosed by walls. This street was narrow, 
obscure, and seemed made expressly for him. Before entering it, he 
looked back. 

From the point where he was, he could see the whole length of the 
bridge of Austerlitz. 

Four shadows, at that moment, entered upon the bridge. 
These shadows were coming from the Jardin des Plantes towards the 
right bank. 

These four shadows were the four men. 

Jean Valjean felt a shudder like that of the deer when he sees the 
hounds again upon his track. 

One hope was left for him; it was that these men had not entered 
upon the bridge, and had not perceived him when he crossed the large 
square clear space leading Cosette by the hand. 

In that case, by plunging into the little street before him, if he could 
succeed in reaching the wood-yards, the marshes, the fields, the open 
grounds, he could escape. 

It seemed to him that he might trust himself to this silent little 
street. He entered it. 


Some three hundred paces on, he reached a point where the street 
forked. It divided into two streets, the one turning off obliquely to 
the left, the other to the right. Jean Valjean had before him the two 
branches of a Y. Which should he choose? 

He did not hesitate, but took the right. 


Because the left branch led towards the faubourg — this is to say, 
towards the inhabited region, and the right branch towards the coun- 
try — that is, towards the uninhabited region. 

^"^^ Les Miserables 

But now, they no longer walked very fast. Cosette's step slackened 
Jean Valjean's pace. 

He took her up and carried her again. Cosette rested her head 
upon the goodman's shoulder, and did not say a word. 

He turned, from time to time, and looked back. He took care to 
keep always on the dark side of the street. The street was straight 
behind him. The two or three first times he turned, he saw nothing; 
the silence was complete, and he kept on his way somewhat reassured. 
Suddenly, on turning again, he thought he saw in the portion of the 
street through which he had just passed, far in the obscurity, some- 
thing which stirred. 

He plunged forward rather than walked, hoping to find some side 
street by which to escape, and once more to elude his pursuers. 

He came to a wall. 

This wall, however, did not prevent him from going further; it was 
a wall forming the side of a cross alley, in which the street Jean Val- 
jean was then in came to an end. 
i . Here again he must decide ; should he take the right or the left ? 

He looked to the right. The alley ran out to a space between some 
buildings that were mere sheds or barns, then terminated abruptly. 
The end of this blind alley was plain to be seen — a great white wall. 

He looked to the left. The alley on this side was open and, about 
two hundred paces further on, ran into a street of which it was an 
affluent. In this direction lay safety. 

The instant Jean Valjean decided to turn to the left, to try to reach 
the street which he saw at the end of the alley, he perceived, at the 
corner of the alley and the street towards which he was just about go- 
ing, a sort of black, motionless statue. 

It was a man, who had just been posted there, evidently, and who 
was waiting for him, guarding the passage. 

Jean Valjean was startled. 

What should he do ? 

There was now no time to turn back. What he had seen moving in 
the obscurity some distance behind him, the moment before, was un- 
doubtedly Javert and his squad. Javert probably had already reached 
the commencement of the street of which Jean Valjean was at the end. 
Javert, to all appearance, was acquainted with this little trap, and 

Cosette i'?3 

had taken his precautions by sending one of his men to guard the exit. 
These conjectures, so like certainties, whirled about wildly in Jean 
Valjean^s troubled brain, as a handful of dust flies before a sudden 
blast. He scrutinised the Cul-de-sac Genrot; there were high walls. 
He scrutinised the Petite Rue Picpus; there was a sentinel. He saw 
that dark form repeated in black upon the white pavement flooded with 
moonlight. To advance, was to fall upon that man. To go back, was 
to throw himself into Javert's hands. Jean Valjean felt as if caught 
by a chain that was slowly winding up. He looked up into the sky in 


At this moment a muffled and regular sound began to make itself 
heard at some distance. Jean Valjean ventured to thrust his head a 
little way around the corner of the street. Seven or eight soldiers, 
formed in platoon, had just turned into the Rue Polonceau. He saw 
the gleam of their bayonets. They were coming towards him. 

These soldiers, at whose head he distinguished the tall form of 
Javert, advanced slowly and with precaution. They stopped fre- 
quently. It was plain they were exploring all the recesses of the walls 
and all the entrances of doors and alleys. 

It was — and here conjecture could not be deceived — some patrol 
which Javert had met and which he had put in requisition. 

Javert's two assistants marched in the ranks. 

At the rate at which they were marching, and with the stops they 
were making, it would take them about a quarter of an hour to arrive 
at the spot where Jean Valjean was. It was a frightful moment. A 
few minutes separated Jean Valjean from that awful precipice which 
was opening before him for the third time. And the galleys now were 
no longer simply the galleys, they were Cosette lost for ever ; that is to 
say, a life in death. 

There was now only one thing possible. 

Jean Valjean had this peculiarity, that he might be said to carry 
two knapsacks; in one he had the thoughts of a saint, in the other the 
formidable talents of a convict. He helped himself from one or the 
other as occasion required. 

174 Les Miserables 

Among other resources, thanks to his numerous escapes from the 
galleys at Toulon, he had, it will be remembered, become master of that 
incredible art of raising himself, in the right angle of a wall, if need 
be to the height of a sixth story; an art without ladders or props, by 
mere muscular strength, supporting himself by the back of his neck, 
his shoulders, his hips, and his knees, hardly making use of the few 
projections of the stone, which rendered so terrible and so celebrated 
the corner of the yard of the Conciergerie of Paris by which, some 
twenty years ago, the convict Battemolle made his escape. 

Jean Yaljean measured with his eyes the wall above which he saw 
the lime tree. It was about eighteen feet high. The angle that it 
made with the gable of the great building was filled in its lower part 
with a pile of masonry of triangular shape, probably intended to 
preserve this too convenient recess from a too public use. This pre- 
ventive filling-up of the corners of a wall is very common in Paris. 

This pile was about ^Ye feet high. From its top the space to climb 
to get upon the wall was hardly more than fourteen feet. 

The wall was capped by a flat stone without any projection. 

The difiiculty was Cosette. Cosette did not know how to scale a 
wall. Abandon her? Jean Valjean did not think of it. To carry 
her was impossible. The whole strength of a man is necessary to ac- 
complish these strange ascents. The least burden would make him lose 
his centre of gravity and he would fall. 

He needed a cord. Jean Valjean had none. Where could he find 
a cord, at midnight, in the Eue Polonceau ? Truly at that instant, if 
Jean Valjean had had a kingdom, he would have given it for a rope. 

All extreme situations have their flashes which sometimes make us 
blind, sometimes illuminate us. 

The despairing gaze of Jean Valjean encountered the lamp-post in 
the Cul-de-sac Genrot. 

At this epoch there were no gas-lights in the streets of Paris. At 
nightfall they lighted the street lamps, which were placed at intervals, 
and were raised and lowered by means of a rope traversing the street 
from end to end, running through the grooves of posts. The reel on 
which this rope was wound was inclosed below the lantern in a little 
iron box, the key of which was kept by the lamp4ighter, and the rope 
itself was protected by a casing of metal. 

Cosette 175 

Jean Valjean, with the energy of a final struggle, crossed the street 
at a bound, entered the cul-de-sac, sprang the bolt of the little box with 
the point of his knife, and an instant after was back at the side of 
Cosette. He had a rope. These desperate inventors of expedients, 
in their struggles with fatality, move electrically in case of need. 

We have explained that the street lamps had not been lighted that 
night. The lamp in the Cul-de-sac Genrot was then, as a matter of 
course extinguished like the rest, and one might pass by without even 
noticing that it was not in its place. 

Meanwhile the hour, the place, the darkness, the preoccupation of 
Jean Valjean, his singular actions, his going to and fro, all this began 
to disturb Cosette. Any other child would have uttered loud cries long 
before. She contented herself with pulling Jean Valjean by the skirt 
of his coat. The sound of the approaching patrol was constantly be- 
coming more and more distinct. 

"Father," said she, in a whisper, "I am afraid. Who is that is 
coming ?" 

"Hush!" answered the unhappy man, "it is the Thenardiess." 

Cosette shuddered. He added: 

"Don't say a word ; I'll take care of her. If you cry, if you make 
any noise, the Thenardiess will hear you. She is coming to catch you." 

Then, without any haste, but without doing anything a second time, 
with a firm and rapid decision, so much the more remarkable at such 
a moment when the patrol and Javert might come upon him at any 
instant, he took off his cravat, passed it around Cosette's body under the 
arms, taking care that it should not hurt the child, attached this cravat 
to an end of the rope by means of the knot which seamen call a swallow- 
knot, took the other end of the rope in his teeth, took off his shoes and 
stockings and threw them over the wall, climbed upon the pile of 
masonry and began to raise himself in the angle of the wall and the 
gable with as much solidity and certainty as if he had the rounds of a 
ladder under his heels and his elbows. Half a minute had not passed 
before he was on his knees on the wall. 

Cosette watched him, stupefied, without saying a word. Jean Val- 
j can's charge and the name of the Thenardiess had made her dumb. 

All at once, she heard Jean Val jean's voice calling to her in a low 
whisper : 

1^6 Les Miserables 

^Tut your back against the wall." 

She obeyed. 

^^Don't speak, and don't be afraid," added Jean Yaljean. 

And she felt herself lifted from the ground. 

Eefore she had time to think where she was she was at the top of 
the wall. 

Jean Valjean seized her, put her on his back, took her two little 
hands in his left hand, lay down flat and crawled along the top of the 
wall as far as the cut-off corner. As he had supposed, there was a 
building there, the roof of which sloped from the top of the wooden 
casing very nearly to the ground, with a gentle inclination, and just 
reaching to the lime-tree. 

A fortunate circumstance, for the wall was much higher on this side 
than on the street. Jean Valjean saw the ground beneath him at a 
great depth. 

He had just reached the inclined plane of the roof, and had not yet 
left the crest of the wall, when a violent uproar proclaimed the arrival 
of the patrol. He heard the thundering voice of Javert : 

"Search the cul-de-sac I The Eue Droit Mur is guarded, the Petite 
Rue Picpus also. I'll answer for it he is in the cul-de-sac." 

The soldiers rushed into the Cul-de-sac Genrot. 

Jean Valjean slid down the roof, keeping hold of Cosette, reached 
the lime-tree, and jumped to the ground. Whether from terror, or 
from courage, Cosette had not uttered a whisper. Her hands were a 
little scraped. 


Jean Valjean found himself in a sort of garden, very large and of 
a singular appearance; one of those gloomy gardens which seem made 
to be seen in the winter and at night. This garden was oblong, with 
a row of large poplars at the further end, some tall forest trees in the 
corners, and a clear space in the centre, where stood a very large 
isolated tree, then a few fruit trees, contorted and shaggy, like big 
bushes, some vegetable beds, a melon patch the glass covers of which 
shone in the moonlight, and an old well. There were here and there 
benches which seemed black with moss. The walks were bordered 

Cosette 1T7 

with sorry little shrubs perfectly straight. The grass covered half of 
them, and a green moss covered the rest. 

Jean Valjean had on one side the building, down the roof of which 
he had come, a wood-pile, and behind the wood, against the wall, a 
stone statue, the mutilated face of which was now nothing but a shape- 
less mask which was seen dimly through the obscurity. 

The building was in ruins, but some dismantled rooms could be dis- 
tinguished in it, one of which was well filled, and appeared to serve 
as a shed. 

The large building of the Rue Droit Mur which ran back on the 
Petite Rue Picpus, presented upon this garden two square fagades. 
These inside facades were still more gloomy than those on the outside. 
All the windows were grated. 'No light was to be seen. On the upper 
stories there were shutters as in prisons. The shadow of one of these 
fagades was projected upon the other, and fell on the garden like an 
immense black pall. 

No other house could be seen. The further end of the garden was 
lost in mist and in darkness. Still, he could make out walls inter- 
secting, as if there were other cultivated grounds beyond, as well as the 
low roofs of the Rue Polonceau. 

^N^othing can be imagined more wild and more solitary than this 
garden. There was no one there, which was very natural on account 
of the hour ; but it did not seem as if the place were made for anybody 
to walk in, even in broad noon. 

Jean Val jean's first care had been to find his shoes, and put them 
on; then he entered the shed with Cosette. A man trying to escape 
never thinks himself sufiiciently concealed. The child, thinking con- 
stantly of the Thenardiess, shared his instinct, and cowered down as 
closely as she could. 

Cosette trembled, and pressed closely to his side. They heard the 
tumultuous clamour of the patrol ransacking the cul-de-sac and the 
street, the clatter of their muskets against the stones, the calls of Javert 
to the watchmen he had stationed, and his imprecations mingled with 
words which they could not distinguish. 

At the end of a quarter of an hour it seemed as though this stormy 
rumbling began to recede. Jean Valjean did not breathe. 

He had placed his hand gently upon Cosette's mouth. 

1'^^ Les Miserables 

But the solitude about him was so strangely calm that that frightful 
din, so furious and so near, did not even cast over it a shadow of dis- 
turbance. It seemed as if these walls were built of the deaf stones 
spoken of in Scripture. 

Suddenly, in the midst of this deep calm, a new sound arose; a 
celestial, divine, ineffable sound, as ravishing as the other was horrible. 
It was a hymn which came forth from the darkness, a bewildering 
mingling of prayer and harmony in the obscure and fearful silence of 
the night ; voices of women, but voices with the pure accents of virgins, 
and artless accents of children; those voices which are not of earth, 
and which resemble those that the new-born still hear, and the dying 
hear already. This song came from the gloomy building which over- 
looked the garden. At the moment when the uproar of the demons 
receded, one would have said, it was a choir of angels approaching in 
the darkness. 

Cosette and Jean Valjean fell on their knees. 

They knew not what it was; they knew not where they were; but 
they both felt, the man and the child, the penitent and the innocent, 
that they ought to be on their knees. 

These voices had this strange effect ; they did not prevent the build- 
ing from appearing deserted. It was like a supernatural song in an 
uninhabited dwelling. 

While these voices were singing Jean Valjean was entirely absorbed 
in them. He no longer saw the night, he saw a blue sky. He seemed 
to feel the spreading of these wings which we all have within us. 

The chant ceased. Perhaps it had lasted a long time. Jean Val- 
jean could not have told. Hours of ecstasy are never more than a 

All had again relapsed into silence. There was nothing more in the 
street, nothing more in the garden. That which threatened, that which 
reassured, all had vanished. The wind rattled the dry grass on the 
top of the wall, which made a low, soft, and mournful noise. 


The child had laid her head upon a stone and gone to sleep. 

He sat down near her and looked at her. Little by little, as he be- 

Cosette 179 

held her, he grew calm, and regained possession of his clearness of 

He plainly perceived this truth, the basis of his life henceforth, that 
so long as she should be alive, so long as he should have her with him, 
he should need nothing except for her, and fear nothing save on her 
account. He did not even realise that he was very cold, having taken 
off his coat to cover her. 

Meanwhile, through the reverie into which he had fallen, he had 
heard for some time a singular noise. It sounded like a little bell 
that some one was shaking. This noise was in the garden. It was 
heard distinctly, though feebly. It resembled the dimly heard tinkling 
of cow-bells in the pastures at night. 

This noise made Jean Valjean turn. 

He looked, and saw that there was some one in the garden. 

Something which resembled a man was walking among the glass 
cases of the melon patch, rising up, stooping down, stopping, with a 
regular motion, as if he were drawing or stretching something upon 
the ground. This being appeared to limp. 

Jean Valjean shuddered with the continual tremor of the outcast. 
To them everything is hostile and suspicious They distrust the 
day because it helps to discover them, and the night because it 
helps to surprise them. Just now he was shuddering because the 
garden was empty, now he shuddered because there was some one 
in it. 

He fell again from chimerical terrors into real terrors. He said 
to himself that perhaps Javert and his spies had not gone away, that 
they had doubtless left somebody on the watch in the street; that, if 
this man should discover him in the garden, he would cry thief, and 
would deliver him up. He took the sleeping Cosette gently in his arms 
and carried her into the furthest corner of the shed behind a heap of 
old furniture that was out of use. Cosette did not stir. 

From there he watched the strange motions of the man in the melon 
patch. It seemed very singular, but the sound of the bell followed 
every movement of the man. When the man approached, the sound 
approached ; when he moved away, the sound moved away ; if he made 
some sudden motion, a trill accompanied the motion ; when he stopped, 
the noise ceased. It seemed evident that the bell was fastened to this 

180 Les Miserables 

man; but then what could that mean? what was this man to whom a 
bell was hung as to a ram or a cow ? 

While he was revolving these questions, he touched Cosette's hands. 
They were icy. 

"Oh! God!" said he. 

He called to her in a low voice: 


She did not open her eyes. 

He shook her smartly. 

She did not wake. 

"Could she be dead?" said he, and he sprang up, shuddering from 
head to foot. 

The most frightful thoughts rushed through his mind in confusion. 
There are moments when hideous suppositions besiege us like a throng 
of furies and violently force the portals of our brain. When those 
we love are in danger, our solicitude invents all sorts of follies. He 
remembered that sleep may be fatal in the open air in a cold night. 

Cosette was pallid; she had fallen prostrate on the ground at his 
feet, making no sign. 

He listened for her breathing ; she was breathing ; but with a respira- 
tion that appeared feeble and about to stop. 

How should he get her warm again ? how rouse her ? All else was 
banished from his thoughts. He rushed desperately out of the ruin. 

It was absolutely necessary that in less than a quarter of an hour 
Cosette should be in bed and before a j&re. 


He walked straight to the man whom he saw in the garden. He had 
taken in his hand the roll of money which was in his vest-pocket. 

This man had his head down, and did not see him coming. A few 
strides, Jean Valjean was at his side. 

Jean Valjean approached him, exclaiming: 

"A hundred francs !" 

The man started and raised his eyes. 

"A hundred francs for you," continued Jean Valjean, "if you will 
give me refuge to-night." 

• Cosette ' 181 

The moon shone full in Jean Valjean's bewildered face. 

"What, it is you, Father Madeleine !" said the man. 

This name, thus pronounced, at this dark hour, in this unknown 
place, by this unknown man, made Jean Valjean start back. 

He was ready for anything but that. The speaker was an old man, 
bent and lame, dressed much like a peasant, who had on his left knee 
a leather knee-cap from which hung a bell. His face was in the shade, 
and could not be distinguished. 

Meanwhile the goodman had taken off his cap, and was exclaiming, 
tremulously : 

"Ah ! my God ! how did you come here. Father Madeleine ? How 
did you get in, O Lord ? Did you fall from the sky ? There is no 
doubt, if you ever do fall, you will fall from there. And what has 
happened to you ? You have no cravat, you have no hat, you have no 
coat ? Do you know that you would have frightened anybody who did 
not know you ? No coat ? Merciful heavens ! are the saints all crazy 
now ? But how did you get in ?" 

One word did not wait for another. The old man spoke with a 
rustic volubility in which there was nothing disquieting. All this was 
said with a mixture of astonishment, and frank good nature. 

"Who are you ? and what is this house !" asked Jean Yaljean. 

"Oh! indeed, that is good now," exclaimed the old man, "I am the 
one you got the place for here, and this house is the one you got me 
the place in. What ! you don't remember me ?" 

"No," said Jean Yaljean. "And how does it happen that you 
know me ?^ 

"You saved my life ?" said the man. 

He turned, a ray of the moon lighted up his side face, and Jean 
Yaljean recognised old Fauchelevent. 

"Ah !" said Jean Yaljean, "it is you ? yes, I remember you." 

"That is very fortunate!" said the old man, in a reproachful tone. 

"And what are you doing here ?" added Jean Yaljean. 

"Oh! I am covering my melons." 

Old Fauchelevent had in his hand, indeed, at the moment when Jean 
Yaljean accosted him, the end of a piece of awning which he was 
stretching out over the melon patch. He had already spread out sev- 
eral in this way during the hour he had been in the garden. It was 

182 Les Miserables 

this work which made him go through the peculiar motions observed 
by Jean Valjean from the shed. 

He continued: 

"I said to myself: the moon is bright, there is going to be a frost. 
Suppose I put their jackets on my melons ? And," added he, looking 
at Jean Yaljean, with a loud laugh, "you would have done well to do 
as much for yourself ? but how did you come here ?" 

Jean Valjean, finding that he was known by this man, at least under 
his name of Madeleine, went no further with his precautions. He 
multiplied questions. Oddly enough their parts seemed reversed. It 
was he, the intruder, who put questions. 

"And what is this bell you have on your knee V 

"That!'' answered Fauchelevent, "that is so that they may" keep 
away from me.'' 

"How! keep away from you?" 

Old Fauchelevent winked in an indescribable manner. 

"Ah! Bless me! there's nothing but women in this house; plenty 
of young girls. It seems that I am dangerous to meet. The bell 
warns them. When I come they go away." 

"What is this house?" 

"Why, you know very well." 

":t^o, I don't." 

"Why, you got me this place here as gardener." 

"Answer me as if I didn't know." 

"Well, it is the Convent of the Petit Picpus, then." 

Jean Valjean remembered. Chance, that is to say. Providence, 
had thrown him precisely into this convent of the Quartier Saint An- 
toine, to which old Fauchelevent, crippled by his fall from his cart, 
had been admitted, upon his recommendation, two years before. He 
repeated as if he were talking to himself: 

"The Convent of the Petit Picpus !" 

"But now, really," resumed Fauchelevent, "how the deuce did you 
manage to get in, you. Father Madeleine ? It is no use for you to be 
a saint, you are a man ; and no men come in here." 

"But you are here." 

"There is none but me." 

"But," resumed Jean Valjean, "I must stay here." 

Cosette 183 

"Oh! my God," exclaimed Fauchelevent. 

Jean yaljean approached the old man, and said to him in a grave 

voice : 

"Father Fauchelevent, I saved your life/' 

"I was first to remember it," answered Fauchelevent. 

"Well, you can now do for me what I once did for you." 

Fauchelevent grasped in his old wrinkled and trembling hands the 
robust hands of Jean Valjean, and it was some seconds before he could 
speak; at last he exclaimed: 

"Oh! that would be a blessing of God if I could do something for 
you, in return for that ! I save your life ! Monsieur Mayor, the old 
man is at your disposal." 

A wonderful joy had, as it were, transfigured the old gardener. A 
radiance seemed to shine forth from his face. 

"What do you want me to do ?" he added. 

"I will explain. You have a room?" 

"I have a solitary shanty, over there, behind the ruins of the old 
convent, in a corner that nobody ever sees. There are three rooms." 

The shanty was in fact so well concealed behind the ruins, and so 
well arranged, that no one should see it — that Jean Valjean had not 
seen it. 

"Good," said Jean Valjean. "E^ow I ask of you two things." 

'^^What are they. Monsieur Madeleine?" 

"First, that you will not tell anybody what you know about me. 
Second, that you will not attempt to learn anything more." 

"As you please. I know that you can do nothing dishonourable, 
and that you have always been a man of God. And then, besides, it 
was you that put me here. It is your place, I am yours." 

"Very well. But now come with me. We will go for the child." 

'^AhV^ said Fauchelevent, "there is a child!" 

He said not a word more, but followed Jean Valjean as a dog follows 
his master. 

In half an hour Cosette, again become rosy before a good fire, was 
asleep in the old gardener's bed. Jean Valjean had put on his cravat 
and coat ; his hat, which he had thrown over the wall, had been found 
and brought in. While Jean Valjean was putting on his coat, Fauch- 
elevent had taken off his knee-cap with the bell attached, which now, 

184 Les Miserables 

hanging on a nail near a shutter, decorated the wall. The two men 
were warming themselves, with their elbows on a table, on which 
Fauchelevent had set a piece of cheese, some brown bread, a bottle of 
wine, and two glasses, and the old man said to Jean Yaljean, putting 
his hand on his knee: 

"Ah! Father Madeleine! you didn't know me at first? You save 
people's lives and then you forget them? Oh! that's bad; they re- 
member you. You are ungrateful !" 



Into this house it was that Jean Valjean had, as Fauchelevent said, 
"fallen from heaven." 

When Cosette had been put to bed, Jean Valjean and Fauchelevent 
had taken a glass of wine and a piece of cheese before a blazing fire ; 
then, the only bed in the shanty being occupied by Cosette, they had 
thrown themselves each upon a bundle of straw. Before closing his 
eyes, Jean Valjean had said: "Henceforth, I must remain here." 
These words were chasing one another through Fauchelevent's head the 
whole night. 

To tell the truth, neither of them had slept. 

Jean Valjean, feeling that he was discovered and Javert was upon 
his track, knew full well that he and Cosette were lost should they re- 
turn into the city. Since the new blast which had burst upon him, had 
thrown him into this cloister, Jean Valjean had but one thought, to 
remain there. IsTow, for one in his unfortunate position, this convent 
was at once the safest and the most dangerous place; the most danger- 
ous, for, no man being allowed to enter it, if he should be discovered, it 
was a flagrant crime, and Jean Valjean would take but one step from 
the convent to prison ; the safest, for if he succeeded in getting permis- 
sion to remain, who would come there to look for him ? To live in an 
impossible place ; that would be safety. 

At daybreak, having dreamed enormously, old Fauchelevent 
opened his eyes, and saw Monsieur Madeleine, who, seated upon his 

Cosette 185 

bunch of straw, was looking at Cosette as she slept. Fauchelevent half 
arose, and said: — 

"Now that you are here, how are you going to manage to come in ?" 

This question summed up the situation, and wakened Jean Valjean 
from his reverie. 

The two men took counsel. 

"To begin with," said Fauchelevent, "you will not set foot outside of 
this room, neither the little girl nor you. One step in the garden, we 
are ruined.' ' 

"That is true." 

"Monsieur Madeleine," resumed Fauchelevent, "you have arrived at 
a very good time ; I mean to say very bad ; there is one of these ladies 
dangerously sick. On that account they do not look this way much. 
She must be dying. They are saying the forty-hour prayers. The 
whole community is in derangement. That takes up their attention. 
She who is about departing is a saint. In fact, we are all saints here ; 
all the difference between them and me is, that they say : our cell, and 
I say: my shanty. They are going to have the orison for the dying, 
and then the orison for the dead. For to-day we shall be quiet here ; 
and I do not answer for to-morrow." 

"However," observed Jean Valjean, "this shanty is under the corner 
of the wall ; it is hidden by a sort of ruin ; there are trees ; they cannot 
see it from the convent." 

"And I add, that the nuns never come near it." 

"Well ?" said Jean Valjean. 

The interrogation point which followed that well, meant: it seems 
to me that we can remain concealed. This interrogation point Fauche- 
levent answered: — 

"There are the little girls." 

"What little girls ?" asked Jean Valjean. 

As Fauchelevent opened his mouth to explain the words he had just 
uttered, a single stroke of a bell was heard. 

"The nun is dead," said he. "There is the knell." 

And he motioned to Jean Valjean to listen. 

The bell sounded a second time. 

"It is the knell, Monsieur Madeleine. The bell will strike every 
minute, for twenty-four hours, until the body goes out of the church. 

1^^ Les Miserables 

You see they play. In their recreations, if a ball roll here, that is 
enough for them to come after it, in spite of the rules, and rummage 
all about here. Those cherubs are little devils." 

"Who ?" asked Jean Valjean. 

"The little girls. You would be found out very soon. They would 
cry, ^What ! a man !' But there is no danger to-day. There will be no 
recreation. The day will be all prayers. You hear the bell. As I 
told you, a stroke every minute. It is the knell." 

"I understand, Father Fauchelevent. There are boarding scholars." 

And Jean Valjean thought within himself: — 

"Here, then, Cosette can be educated, too." 

Fauchelevent exclaimed: — 

"Zounds! they are the little girls for you! And how they would 
scream at sight of you ! and how they would run ! Here, to be a man, 
is to have the plague. You see how they fasten a bell to my leg, as 
they would to a wild beast." 

Jean Valjean was studying more and more deeply. "The convent 
would save us," murmured he. Then he raised his voice: 

"Yes, the difficulty is in remaining." 

"JSTo," said Fauchelevent, "it is to get out." 

Jean Valjean felt his blood run cold. 

"To get out ?" 

"Yes, Monsieur Madeleine, in order to come in, it is necessary that 
you should get out." 

And, after waiting for a sound from the tolling bell to die away, 
Fauchelevent pursued: — 

"It would not do to have you found here like this. Whence do you 
come ? for me you have fallen from heaven, because I know you ; but 
for the nuns, you must come in at the door. 

Suddenly they heard a complicated ringing upon another bell. 

"Oh!" said Fauchelevent, "that is the ring for the mothers. They 
are going to the chapter. They always hold a chapter when anybody 
dies. She died at daybreak. It is usually at daybreak that people 
die. But cannot you go out the way you came in ? Let us see ; this 
is not to question you, but where did you come in ?" 

Jean Valjean became pale ; the bare idea of climbing down again into 
that formidable street, made him shudder. Make your way out of 

Cosette IS'? 

a forest full of tigers, and when out, fancy yourself advised by a friend 
to return. Jean Valjean imagined all the police still swarming in the 
quarter, officers on the watch, sentries everywhere, frightful fists 
stretched out towards his collar, Javert, perhaps, at the corner of the 

'^Impossible," said he. ^Tather Fauchelevent, let it go that I fell 
from on high." 

"Ah ! I believe it, I believe it," replied Eauchelevent. "You have 
no need to tell me so. God must have taken you into his hand, to have 
a close look at you, and then put you down. Only he meant to put you 
into a monastery ; he made a mistake. Hark ! another ring ; that is to 
warn the porter to go and notify the municipality, so that they may go 
and notify the death-physician, so that he may come and see that there is 
really a dead woman. All that is the ceremony of dying. These good 
ladies do not like this visit very much. A physician believes in 
nothing. He lifts the veil. He even lifts something else, sometimes. 
How soon they have notified the inspector, this time! What can be 
the matter ? Your little one is asleep yet. What is her name ?" 


"She is your girl ? that is to say : you should be her grandfather ?" 


"For her, to get out will be easy. I have my door, which opens into 
the court. I knock ; the porter opens. I have my basket on my back ; 
the little girl is inside; I go out. Father Fauchelevent goes out with 
his basket — that is all simple. You will tell the little girl to keep 
very still. She will be under cover. I will leave her as soon as I can, 
with a good old friend of mine, a fruiteress, in the Rue du Chemin 
Vert, who is deaf, and who has a little bed. I will scream into the 
fruiteress's ear that she is my niece, and she must keep her for me till 
to-morrow. Then the little girl will come back with you ; for I shall 
bring you back. It must be done. But how are you going to manage 
to get out ?" 

Jean Valjean shook his head. 

"Let nobody see me, that is all. Father Fauchelevent. Find some 
means to get me out, like Cosette, in a basket, and under cover." 

Fauchelevent scratched the tip of his ear with the middle finger of 
his left hand — a sign of serious embarrassment. 

^^S Les Miserables 

A third ring made a diversion. 

"That is the death-physician going away/' said Fauehelevent. "He 
has looked, and said she is dead; it is right. When the inspector has 
vised the passport for paradise, the undertaker sends a coffin. If it is a 
mother, the mothers lay her out ; if it is a sister, the sisters lay her out. 
After which, I nail it up. That's a part of my gardening. A gar- 
dener is something of a gravedigger. They put her in a low room in 
the church which communicates with the street, and where no man can 
enter except the death-physician. I do not count the bearers and my- 
self for men. In that room I nail the coffin. The bearers come and 
take her, and whip-up, driver : that is the way they go to heaven. They 
bring in a box with nothing in it, they carry it away with something 
inside. That is what an interment is. De profundis/' 

A ray of the rising sun beamed upon the face of the sleeping Cosette, 
who half-opened her mouth dreamily, seeming like an angel drinking in 
the light. Jean Valjean was looking at her. He no longer heard 

i^ot being heard is no reason for silence. The brave old gardener 
quietly continued his garrulous rehearsal. 

"The grave is at the Yaugirard cemetery. They pretend that this 
Vaugirard cemetery is going to be suppressed. It is an ancient ceme- 
tery, which is not according to the regulations, which does not wear the 
uniform, and which is going to be retired. I am sorry for it, for it is 
convenient. I have a friend there — Father Mestienne, the grave- 
digger. The nuns here have the privilege of being carried to that 
cemetery at night-fall. There is an order of the Prefecture, expressly 
for them. But what events since yesterday? Mother Crucifixion is 
dead, and Father Madeleine" 

"Is buried,'' said Jean Yaljean, sadly smiling. 

Fauehelevent echoed the word. 

"Eeally, if you were here for good, it would be a genuine burial." 

A fourth time the bell rang out. Fauehelevent quickly took down 
the knee-piece and bell from the nail, and buckled it on his knee. 

"This time, it is for me. The mother prioress wants me. Well! 
I am pricking myself with the tongue of my buckle. Monsieur 
Madeleine, do not stir, but wait for me. There is something new. If 
you are hungry, there is the wine, and bread and cheese." 

Cosette 189 

And he went out of the hut, saying. "I am coming, I am coming." 

Jean Valjean saw him hasten across the garden, as fast as his crooked 
leg would let him, with side glances at his melons the while. 

In less than ten minutes. Father Eauchelevent, whose bell put the 
nuns to flight as he went along, rapped softly at a door, and a gentle 
voice answered — Forever, Forever! that is to say. Come in. 

This door was that of the parlour allotted to the gardener, for use 
when it was necessary to communicate with him. This parlour was 
near the hall of the chapter. The prioress, seated in the only chair in 
the parlour, was waiting for Fauchelevent. 


A SERIOUS and troubled bearing is peculiar, on critical occasions, to 
certain characters and certain professions, especially priests and 
monastics. At the moment when Fauchelevent entered, this double 
sign of preoccupation marked the countenance of the prioress, the 
charming and learned Mademoiselle de Blemeur, Mother Innocent, who 
was ordinarily cheerful. 

The gardener made a timid bow, and stopped at the threshold of the 
cell. The prioress, who was saying her rosary, raised her eyes and 

"Ah! it is you. Father Fauvent." 

This abbreviation had been adopted in the convent. 

Fauchelevent again began his bow. 

"Father Fauvent, I have called you." 

"I am here, reverend mother." 

"I wish to speak to you." 

"And I, for my part," said Fauchelevent, with a boldness at which 
he was alarmed himself, "I have something to say to the most reverend 

The prioress looked at him. 

"Ah, you have a communication to make to me." 

"A petition!" 

"Well, what is it?" 

The goodman, with the assurance of one who feels that he is appreci- 
ated, began before the reverend prioress a rustic harangue, quite diffuse 

190 Les Miserables 

and very profound. He spoke at length of his age, his infirmities, of 
the weight of years henceforth doubly heavy upon him, of the growing 
demands of his work, of the size of the garden, of the nights to be 
spent, like last night for example, when he had to put awnings over 
the melons on account of the moon; and he finally ended with this: 
"that he had a brother — (the prioress gave a start) — a brother not 
young — (second start of the prioress, but a reassured start) — ^that if it 
was desired, this brother could come and live with him and help him; 
that he was an excellent gardener ; that the community would get good 
services from him, better than his own; that, otherwise, if his brother 
were not admitted, as he, the oldest, felt that he was broken down, and 
unequal to the labour, he would be obliged to leave, though with much 
regret ; and that his brother had a little girl that he would bring with 
him, who would be reared under God in the house, and who, perhaps, 
— ^who knows ? — would some day become a nun. 

When he had finished, the prioress stopped the sliding of her rosary 
through her fingers, and said : 

"Can you, between now and night, procure a strong iron bar ?" 

"For what work ?" 

"To be used as a lever?" 

"Yes, reverend mother," answered Fauchelevent. 

The prioress, without adding a word, arose, and went into the next 
room, which was the hall of the chapter, where the vocal mothers were 
probably assembled: Fauchelevent remained alone. 


About a quarter of an hour elapsed. The prioress returned and re- 
sumed her seat. 

Both seemed preoccupied. We report as well as we can the dialogue 
that followed. 

"Father Fauvent?" 

"Keverend mother?" 

"You are familiar with the chapel?" 

^I have a little box there to go to mass, and the offices." 

"And you have been in the choir about your work ?" 

"Two or three times." 

Cosette 4^i 

^^A stone is to be raised." 


"The slab of the pavement at the side of the altar." 

"The stone that covers the vault" 


"That is a piece of work where it would be well to have two men." 

"Mother Ascension, who is as strong as a man, will help you." 

"A woman is never a man." 

"We have only a woman to help you. Everybody does what he can. 
Because Dom Mabillon gives four hundred and seventeen epistles of 
St. Bernard, and Merlonus Horstius gives only three hundred and 
sixty-seven, I do not despise Merlonus Horstius." 

":N'or I either." 

"Merit consists in work according to our strength. A cloister is not 
a ship-yard." 

"And a woman is not a man. My brother is very strong." 

"And then you will have a lever." 

"That is the only kind of key that fits that kind of door." 

"There is a ring in the stone." 

^I will pass the lever through it." 

^And the stone is arranged to turn on a pivot." 

^^Yexj well, reverend mother, I will open the vault." 

"And the four mother choristers will assist you." 

"And when the vault is opened ?" 

"It must be shut again." 

"Is that all?" 


"Give me your orders, most reverend mother.'* 

"Fauvent, we have confidence in you." 

"I am here to do everything." 

"And to keep silent about everything." 

"Yes, reverend mother." 

"When the vault is opened ." 

"I will shut it again." 

"But before ." 

"What, reverend mother ?" 

"Something must be let down." 

192 Les Miserables 

There was silence. The prioress, after a quivering of the under-lip 
which resembled hesitation, spoke: 

"Father Fauvent, Mother Crucifixion will be buried in the coffin in 
which she has slept for twenty years." 

•'That is right." 

''It is a continuation of sleep." 

•'I shall have to nail her up then in that coffin." 


''And we will put aside the undertaker's coffin ?" 


•'I am at the disposal of the most reverend community." 

"The four mother choristers will help you." 

•'To nail up the coffin ? I don't need them." 

"ISTo. To let it down." 

"Where ?" 

'Into the vault." 

'What vault ?" 

'Under the altar." 

Fauchelevent gave a start. 

"The vault under the altar !" 

'Under the altar." 

"But " 

"You will have an iron bar." 

'Yes, but ^" 

"You will lift the stone with the bar by means of the ring." 

"But " 

"We must obey the dead. To be buried in the vault under the altar 
of the chapel, not to go into profane ground, to remain in death where 
she prayed in life; this was the last request of Mother Crucifixion. 
She has asked it, that is to say, commanded it." 

"But it is forbidden." 

"Forbidden by men, enjoined by God." 

"If it should come to be known ?" 

"We have confidence in you." 

"Oh ! as for me, I am like a stone in your wall." 

"The chapter has assembled. The vocal mothers, whom I have just 
consulted again and who are now deliberating, have decided that Mother 

Cosette 193 

Crucifixion should be, according to her desire, buried in her coffin 
under our altar. Think, Father Fauvent, if there should be miracles 
performed here ! what glory under God for the community ! Miracles 
spring from tombs." 

"But, reverend Mother, if the agent of the Health Commission " 

The prioress drew breath, then turning towards Fauchelevent : 

"Father Fauvent, is it settled V 

"It is settled, reverend mother." 

"Can we count upon you ?" 

"I shall obey." 

"It is well." 

"I am entirely devoted to the convent." 

"It is understood, you will close the coffiba. The sisters will carry 
it into the chapel. The office for the dead will be said. Then they will 
return to the cloister. Between eleven o'clock and midnight, you will 
come with your iron bar. All will be done with the greatest secrecy. 
There will be in the chapel only the four mother choristers, Mother 
Ascension, and you." 

"Keverend mother ?" 


"If you should ever have any other work like this, my brother is very 
strong. A Turk." 

"You will do it as quickly as possible." 

"I cannot go very fast. I am infirm; it is on that account I need 
help. I limp." 

"Father Fauvent, now I think of it, we will take a whole hour. It 
is not too much. Be at the high altar with the iron bar at eleven 
o'clock. The office commences at midnight. It must all be finished 
a good quarter of an hour before." 

"I will do everything to prove my zeal for the community. This is 
the arrangement. I shall nail up the coffin. At eleven o'clock 
precisely I will be in the chapel. The mother choristers will be there. 
Mother Ascension will be there. Two men would be better. But 
no matter! I shall have my lever. We shall open the vault, let 
down the coffin, and close the vault again. After which, there will be 
no trace of anything. The government will suspect nothing. Rever- 
end mother, is this all so ?" 

1^4: Les Miserables 

"What more is there, then ?" 

"There is still the empty coffin." 

This brought them to a stand. Fauchelevent pondered. The 
prioress pondered. 

"Father Fauvent, what shall be done with the coffin ?'' 

"It will be put in the ground." 


Another silence. Fauchelevent made with his left hand that peculiar 
gesture, which dismisses an unpleasant question. 

"Keverend mother, I nail up the coffin in the lower room in the 
church, and nobody can come in there except me, and I will cover the 
coffin with the pall." 

"Yes, but the bearers, in putting it into the hearse and in letting it 
down into the grave, will surely perceive that there is nothing inside." 

"Ah! the de !" exclaimed Fauchelevent. 

The prioress began to cross herself, and looked fixedly at the gardener. 
Vil stuck in his throat. 

He made haste to think of an expedient to make her forget the oath. 

"Reverend mother, I will put some earth into the coffin. That will 
have the effect of a body." 

"You are right. Earth is the same thing as man. So you will pre- 
pare the empty coffin ?" 

"I will attend to that." 

The face of the prioress, till then dark and anxious, became again 
serene. She made him the sign of a superior dismissing an inferior. 
Fauchelevent moved towards the door. As he was going out, the 
prioress gently raised her voice." 

"Father Fauvent, I am satisfied with you ; to-morrow after the burial, 
bring your brother to me, and tell him to bring his daughter." 


The strides of the lame are like the glances of the one-eyed; they do 
not speedily reach their aim. Furthermore, Fauchelevent was per- 
plexed. It took him nearly a quarter of an hour to get back to the 

^ Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 



Cosettc 195 

shanty in the garden. Cosette was awake. Jean Valjean had seated 
her near the fire. At the moment when Fauchelevent entered, Jean 
Valjean was showing her the gardener's basket hanging on the wall 
and saying to her : 

"Listen attentively to me, my little Cosette. We must go away from 
this house, but we shall come back, and we shall be very well off 
here. The good man here will carry you out on his back inside 
there. You will wait for me at a lady's. I shall come and find you. 
Above all, if you do not want the Thenardiess to take you back, obey and 
say nothing." 

Cosette nodded her head with a serious look. 

At the sound of Fauchelevent opening the door, Jean Valjean turned. 

"Well ?" 

"All is arranged, and nothing is," said Fauchelevent. "I have per- 
mission to bring you in ; but before bringing you in, it is necessary to 
get you out. That is where the cart is blocked 1 For the little girl, it 
is easy enough." 

"You will carry her out ?" 

"And she will keep quiet?" 

"I will answer for it." 

"But you, Father Madeleine ?" 

And, after an anxious silence, Fauchelevent exclaimed : 

"But why not go out the way you came in ?" 

Jean Valjean, as before, merely answered : "Impossible." 

Fauchelevent, talking more to himself than to Jean Valjean, 
grumbled : 

"There is another thing that torments me. I said I would put in 
some earth. But I think that earth inside, instead of a body, will 
not be like it ; that will not do, it will shake about ; it will move. The 
men will feel it. You understand. Father Madeleine, the government 
will find it out." 

Jean Valjean stared at him, and thought that he was raving. 

Fauchelevent resumed: 

"How the d ickens are you going to get out ? For all this must 

be done to-morrow. To-morrow I am to bring you in. The prioress 
expects you." 

Then he explained to Jean Valjean that this was a reward for a 

196 Les Miserables 

service that he, Fauchelevent, was rendering to the community. That 
it was a part of his duties to assist in burials, that he nailed up the 
coffins, and attended the gravedigger at the cemetery. That the nun 
who died that morning had requested to be buried in the coffin which she 
had used as a bed, and interred in the vault under the altar of the 
chapel. That this was forbidden by the regulations of the police, but 
that she was one of those departed ones to whom nothing is refused. 
That the prioress and the vocal mothers intended to carry out the will 
of the deceased. So much the worse for the government. That he, 
Fauchelevent, would nail up the coffin in the cell, raise the stone in 
the chapel, and let down the body into the vault. And that, in return 
for this, the prioress would admit his brother into the house as gardener 
and his niece as boarder. That his brother was M. Madeleine, and 
that his niece was Cosette. That the prioress had told him to bring 
his brother the next evening, after the fictitious burial at the cemetery. 
But that he could not bring M. Madeleine from the outside, if M. 
Madeleine were not outside. That that was the first difficulty. And 
then that he had another difficulty; the empty coffin." 

"What is the empty coffin ?'' asked Jean Yaljean. 

Fauchelevent responded : 

"The coffin from the administration." 

"What coffin? and what administration?" 

"A nun dies. The municipality physician comes and says : there is 
a nun dead. The government sends a coffin. The next day it sends a 
hearse and some bearers to take the coffin and carry it to the cemetery. 
The bearers will come and take up the coffin; there will be nothing 
in it." 

"Put somebody in it." 

"A dead body ? I have none." 


"What then?" 

"A living body." 

"What living body ?" 

"Me," said Jean Valjean. 

Fauchelevent, who had taken a seat, sprang up as if a cracker had 
burst under his chair. 


Cosette 19^ 

"Why not ?" 

Jean Valjean had one of those rare smiles which came over him like 
the aurora in a winter sky. 

"You know, Fauchelevent, that you said: Mother Crucifixion is 
dead, and that I added: and Father Madeleine is buried. It will 
be so." 

"Ah ! good, you are laughing, you are not talking seriously." 

"Very seriously. I must get out !" 


"And I told you to find a basket and a cover for me also." 


*The basket will be of pine, and the cover will be a black cloth." 

"In the first place, a white cloth. The nuns are buried in white." 

"Well, a white cloth." 

"You are not like other men, Father Madeleine." 

To see such devices, which are nothing more than the savage and 
foolhardy inventions of the galleys, appear in the midst of the peaceful 
things that surrounded him and mingled with what he called the 
"little jog-jog of the convent," was to Fauchelevent an astonishment 
comparable to that of a person who should see a seamew fishing in the 
brook in the Rue St. Denis. 

Jean Valjean continued : 

"The question is, how to get out without being seen. This is the 
means. But in the first place tell me, how is it done? where is this 

"The empty one?" 


"Down in what is called the dead-room. It is on two trestles and 
under the pall." 

"What is the length of the coffin?" 

"Six feet." 

"What is the dead-room?" 

"It is a room on the ground floor, with a grated window towards 
the garden, closed on the outside with a shutter, and two doors; one 
leading to the convent, the other to the church." 

"What church ?" 

"The church on the street, the church for everybody ?" 

1^^ Les Miserables 

"Have you the keys of those two doors?'' 

"JSTo. I have the key of the door that opens into the convent; the 
porter has the key to the door that opens into the church." 

"When does the porter open that door ?" 

"Only to let in the bearers, who come after the coffin ; as soon as the 
coffin goes out, the door is closed again." 

"Who nails up the coffin ?" 

"I do." 

"Who puts the cloth on it ?" 

"I do." 

"Are you alone." 

"1^0 other man, except the police physician, can enter the dead-room. 
That is even written upon the wall." 

"Could you, to-night, when all are asleep in the convent, hide me in 
that room?" 

"No. But I can hide you in a little dark closet which opens into 
the dead-room, where I keep my burial tools, and of which I have the 
care and the key." 

"At what hour will the hearse come after the coffin to-morrow?" 

"About three o'clock in the afternoon. The burial takes place at 
the Vaugirard cemetery, a little before night. It is not very 


"I shall remain hidden in your tool-closet all night and all the morn- 
ing. And about eating ? I shall be hungry." 

"I will bring you something." 

"You can come and nail me up in the coffin at two o'clock." 

Fauchelevent started back, and began to snap his fingers. 

"But it is impossible!" 

"Pshaw ! to take a hammer and drive some nails into a board ?" 

What seemed unheard-of to Fauchelevent was, we repeat simple to 
Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean had been in worse straits. He who has 
been a prisoner knows the art of making himself small according to 
the dimensions of the place for escape. The prisoner is subject to 
flight as the sick man is to the crisis which cures or kills him. An 
escape is a cure. What does not one undergo to be cured? To be 
nailed up and carried out in a chest like a bundle, to live a long time 
in a box, to find air where there is none, to economise the breath for 

Cosette 199 

entire hours, to know how to be stifled without dying — that was one of 
the gloomy talents of Jean Valjean. 

Moreover, a cofiin in which there is a living being, that convict's 
expedient, is also an emperor's expedient. If we can believe the monk 
Austin Castillejo, this was the means which Charles V., desiring after 
his abdication to see La Plombes again a last time, employed to bring 
her into the monastery of St. Juste and to take her out again. 

Fauchelevent, recovering a little, exclaimed: 

"But how will you manage to breathe ?" 

"I shall breathe." 

"In that box ? Only to think of it suffocates me." 

"You surely have a gimlet, you can make a few little holes about the 
mouth here and there, and you can nail it without drawing the upper 
board tight." 

"Good ! But if you happen to cough or sneeze ?" 

"He who is escaping never coughs and never sneezes." 

And Jean Valjean added : 

"Father Eauchelevent, I must decide : either to be taken here, or to 
be willing to go out in the hearse." 

Everybody has noticed the taste which cats have for stopping and 
loitering in a half -open door. Who has not said to a cat : Why don't 
you come in ? There are men who, with an opportunity half -open 
before them, have a similar tendency to remain undecided between two 
resolutions, at the risk of being crushed by destiny abruptly closing 
the opportunity. The over prudent, cats as they are, and because they 
are cats, sometimes run more danger than the bold. Fauchelevent was 
of this hesitating nature. However, Jean Val jean's coolness won him 
over in spite of himself. He grumbled: 

"It is true, there is no other way." 

Jean Valjean resumed: 

"The only thing that I am anxious about, is what will be done at 
the cemetery." 

"That is just what does not embarrass me," exclaimed Fauchelevent. 
"If you are sure of getting yourself out of the coffin, I am sure of 
getting you out of the grave. The gravedigger is a drunkard and a 
friei?d of mine. He is Father Mestienne. An old son of the old vine. 

The gravedigger puts the dead in the grave, and I put the grave- 

200 Les Miserables 

digger in my pocket. I will tell you what will take place. We shall 
arrive a little before dusk, three-quarters of an hour before the cem- 
etery gates are closed. The hearse will go to the grave. I shall fol- 
low; that is my business. I will have a hammar, a chisel, and some 
pincers in my pocket. The hearse stops, the bearers tie a rope around 
your coffin and let you down. The priest says the prayers, makes the 
sign of the cross, sprinkles the holy water, and is off. I remain alone 
with Father Mestienne. He is my friend, I tell you. One of two 
things ; either he will be drunk, or he will not be drunk. If he is not 
drunk, I say to him: come and take a drink before the Good Quince 
is shut. I get him away, I fuddle him ; Father Mestienne is not long 
in getting fuddled, he is always half way. I lay him under the table, 
I take his card from him to return to the cemetery with, and I come 
back without him. You will have only me to deal with. If he is 
drunk, I say to him : be off. I'll do your work. He goes away, and I 
pull you out of the hole." 

Jean Valjean extended his hand, upon which Tauchelevent threw 
himself with a rustic outburst of touching devotion. 
"It is settled. Father Fauchelevent. All will go well." 
"Provided nothing goes amiss," thought Fauchelevent. "How ter- 
rible that would be !" 


^N'ext day, as the sun was declining, the scattered passers on the Boule- 
vard du Maine took off their hats at the passage of an old-fashioned 
hearse, adorned with death's-heads, cross-bones, and tear-drops. In 
this hearse there was a coffin covered with a white cloth, upon which 
was displayed a large black cross like a great dummy with hanging 
arms. A draped carriage, in which might be seen a priest in a sur- 
plice, and a choir-boy in a red calotte, followed. Two bearers in grey 
uniform with black trimmings walked on the right and left of the 
hearse. In the rear came an old man dressed like a labourer, who 
limped. The procession moved towards the Vaugirard cemetery. 

Sticking out of the man's pocket were the handle of a hammar, the 
blade of a cold chisel, and the double handles of a pair of pincers. 

Fauchelevent limped behind the hearse, very well satisfied. His two 

Cosette 201 

twin plots, one with the nuns, the other with M. Madeleine, one for 
the convent, the other against it, had succeeded equally well. Jean 
Valjean's calmness had that powerful tranquillity which is contagious. 
Fauchelevent had now no doubt of success. What remained to be done 
was nothing. Within two years he had fuddled the gravedigger ten 
times, good Father Mestienne, a rubicund old fellow. Father Mes- 
tienne was play for him. He did what he liked with him. He got 
him drunk at will and at his fancy. Mestienne saw through Fau- 
chelevent's eyes. Fauchelevent's security was complete. 

At the moment the convoy entered the avenue leadii^g to the ceme- 
tery, Fauchelevent, happy, looked at the hearse and rubbed his big 
hands together, saying in an undertone : 

"Here's a farce!'' 

Suddenly the hearse stopped; they were at the gate. It was nec- 
essary to exhibit the burial permit. The undertaker whispered with 
the porter of the cemetery. During this colloquy, which always 
causes a delay of a minute or two, somebody, an unknown man, came 
and placed himself behind the hearse at Fauchelevent's side. He was 
a working-man, who wore a vest with large pockets, and had a pick 
under his arm. 

Fauchelevent looked at this unknown man. 

"Who are you?" he asked. 

The man answered: 

"The gravedigger." 

Should a man survive a cannon-shot through his breast, he would 
present the appearance that Fauchelevent did. 

"The gravedigger ?" 




"The gravedigger is Father Mestienne," 

"He was." 

"How! he was?" 

"He is dead." 

Fauchelevent was ready for anything but this, that a gravedigger 
could die. It is, however, true ; gravediggers themselves die. By dint 
of digging graves for others, they open their own. 

202 Les Miserables 

Fauchelevent remained speechless. He had hardly the strength to 
stammer out : 

"But it's not possible !" 

"It is so.'' 

"But," repeated he, feebly, "the gravedigger is Father Mestienne." 

"After Napoleon, Louis XVIII. After Mestienne, Gribier. Peas- 
ant, my name is Gribier." 

Fauchelevent grew pale ; he stared at Gribier. 

He was a long, thin, livid man, perfectly funereal. He had the ap- 
pearance of a broken-down doctor turned gravedigger. 

Fauchelevent burst out laughing. 

"Ah ! what droll things happen ! Father Mestienne is dead. Little 
Father Mestienne is dead, but hurrah for little Father Lenoir! You 
know what little Father Lenoir is ? It is the mug of red for a six spot. 
It is the mug of Surene, zounds ! real Paris Surene. So he is dead, 
old Mestienne ! I am sorry for it ; he was a jolly fellow. But you too, 
you are a jolly fellow. Isn't that so, comrade? we will go and take 
a drink together, right away." 

The man answered: "I have studied, I have graduated. I never 

The hearse had started, and was rolling along the main avenue of 
the cemetery. 

Fauchelevent -had slackened his pace. He limped still more from 
anxiety than from infirmity. 

The gravedigger walked before him. 

Fauchelevent again scrutinised the unexpected Gribier. 

He was one of those men who, though young, have an old appear- 
ance, and who, though thin, are very strong. 

"Comrade !" cried Fauchelevent. 

The man turned. 

"I am the gravedigger of the convent." 

"My colleague," said the man. 

Fauchelevent, illiterate, but very keen, understood that he had to do 
with a very formidable species, a good talker. 

He mumbled out : 

"Is it so. Father Mestienne is dead?" 

The man answered : 

Cosette 203 

"Perfectly. The good God consulted his list of bills payable. It 
was Father Mestienne's turn. Father Mestienne is dead." 

Fauchelevent repeated mechanically. 

"The good God." 

"The good God," said the man authoritatively. "What the philos- 
ophers call the Eternal Father; the Jacobins, the Supreme Being." 

"Are we not going to make each other's acquaintance ?" stammered 

"It is made. You are a peasant, I am a Parisian." 

"We are not acquainted as long as we have not drunk together. He 
who empties his glass empties his heart. Come and drink with me. 
You can't refuse." 

"Business first." 

Fauchelevent said to himself: I am lost. 

They were now only a few rods from the path that led to the nun's 

The gravedigger continued : 

"Peasant, I have seven youngsters that I must feed. As they must 
eat, I must not drink." 

And he added with the satisfaction of a serious being who is making 
a sententious phrase: 

"Their hunger is the enemy of my thirst." 

The hearse turned a huge cypress, left the main path, took a little one, 
entered upon the grounds, and was lost in a thicket. This indicated 
the immediate proximity of the grave. Fauchelevent slackened his 
pace, but could not slacken that of the hearse. Luckily the mellow soil, 
wet by the winter rains, stuck to the wheels, and made the track heavy. 

He approached the gravedigger. 

"They have such a good little Argenteuil wine," suggested Fauche- 

"Villager," continued the man, "I ought not to be a gravedigger. 
My father was porter at the Prytanee. He intended me for litera- 
ture. But he was unfortunate. He met with losses at the Bourse, I 
was obliged to renounce the condition of an author. However I am still 
a public scribe." 

"But then you are not the gravedigger ?" replied Fauchelevent, catch- 
ing at a straw, feeble as it was. 

2^^ Les Miserables 

"One does not prevent the other. I cumulate.'' 

Fauchelevent did not understand this last word. 

"Let us go and drink," said he. 

Here an observation is necessary. Fauchelevent whatever was his 
anguish, proposed to drink, but did not explain himself on one point ; 
who should pay ? Ordinarily Fauchelevent proposed, and Father Mes- 
tienne paid. A proposal to drink resulted evidently from the new sit- 
uation produced by the fact of the new gravedigger, and this proposal 
he must make; but the old gardener left, not unintentionally, the 
proverbial quarter an of hour of Eabelais in the shade. As for him, 
Fauchelevent, however excited he was, he did not care about paying. 

The gravedigger went on with a smile of superiority : 

"We must live. I accepted the succession of Father Mestienne. 
When one has almost finished his classes, he is a philosopher. To the 
labour of my hand, I have added the labour of my arm. I have my 
little writer's shop at the Market in the Rue de Sevres. You know? 
the market of the Parapluies. All the cooks of the Croix Rouge come 
to me ; I patch up their declarations to their true loves. In the morning 
I write love letters ; in the evening I dig graves. Such is life, country- 

The hearse advanced ; Fauchelevent, full of anxiety, looked about him 
on all sides. Great drops of sweat were falling from his forehead. 

"However," continued the gravedigger, "one cannot serve two mis- 
tresses; I must choose between the pen and the pick. The pick hurts 
my hand." 

The hearse stopped. 

The choir-boy got out of the mourning carriage, then the priest. 

One of the forward wheels of the hearse mounted on a little heap 
of earth, beyond which was seen an open grave. 

"Here is a farce !" repeated Fauchelevent in consternation. 


Who was in the coffin? We know. Jean Valjean. 
Jean Valjean had arranged it so that he could live in it, and could 
breathe a very little. 

It is a strange thing to what extent an easy conscience gives calm- 

Cosette 205 

ness in other respects. The entire combination prearranged by Jean 
Valjean had been executed, and executed well, since the night before. 
He counted, as did Fauchelevent, upon Father Mestienne. He had no 
doubt of the result. Never was a situation more critical, never calm- 
ness more complete. 

The four boards of the coffin exhaled a kind of terrible peace. It 
seemed as if something of the repose of the dead had entered into the 
tranquillity of Jean Yaljean. 

From within that coffin he had been able to follow, and he had fol- 
lowed, all the phases of the fearful drama which he was playing with 

Soon after Fauchelevent had finished nailing down the upper board, 
Jean Valjean had felt himself carried out, then wheeled along. By 
the diminished jolting, he had felt that he was passing from the pave- 
ment to the hard ground ; that is to say, that he was leaving the streets 
and entering upon the boulevards. By a dull sound, he had divined 
that they were crossing the bridge of Austerlitz. At the first stop he 
had comprehended that they were entering the cemetery ; at the second 
stop he had said : here is the grave. 

He felt that hands hastily seized the coffin, then a harsh scraping 
upon the boards; he concluded that that was a rope which they were 
tying around the coffin to let it down into the excavation. 

Then he felt a kind of dizziness. 

Probably the bearer and the gravedigger had tipped the coffin and let 
the head down before the feet. He returned fully to himself on feel- 
ing that he was horizontal and motionless. He had touched the bottom 

He felt a certain chill. 

A voice arose above him, icy and solemn. He heard pass away, some 
Latin words which he did not understand, pronounced so slowly that he 
could catch them one after another : 

^'Qui dormiunt in terrce pulvere, evigilahunt ; alii in vitam oeternam, 
et alii in opprobrium, ut videani semper/' 

A child's voice said : 

'^De profundis/' 

The deep voice recommenced : 

^'Requiem wternam dona ei, Domine" 

The child's voice responded: 

206 Les Miserables 

"Et lux perpetua luceat ei/' 

He heard upon the board which covered him something like the gentle 
patter of a few drops of rain. It was probably the holy water. 

He thought: "This will soon be finished. A little more patience. 
The priest is going away. Fauchelevent will take Mestienne away to 
drink. They will leave me. Then Fauchelevent will come back 
alone, and I shall get out. That will take a good hour." 

The deep voice resumed. 

"Bequiescat in pace/' 

And the child's voice said: 


Jean Valjean, intently listening, perceived something like receding 

"N^ow there they go," thought he. "I am alone." 

All at once he heard a sound above his head which seemed to him like 
a clap of thunder. 

It was a spadeful of earth falling upon the coffin. 

A second spadeful of earth fell. 

One of the holes by which he breathed was stopped up. 

A third spadeful of earth fell. 

Then a fourth. 

There are things stronger than the strongest man. Jean Valjean 
lost consciousness. 

in which will be found the origin of the saying i 
don't lose your card 

Let us see what occurred over the coffin in which Jean Yaljean lay. 

When the hearse had departed and the priest and the choir-boy 
had got into the carriage, and were gone, Fauchelevent, who had never 
taken his eyes off the gravedigger, saw him stoop, and grasp his spade, 
which was standing upright in the heap of earth. 

Hereupon, Fauchelevent, formed a supreme resolve. 

Placing himself between the grave and the gravedigger, and folding 
his arms, he said : 

"I'll pay for it!" 

Cosette 207 

The gravedigger eyed him with amazement, and replied : 

'What, peasant ?" 

Fauchelevent repeated: 

"I'll pay for it." 

"For what?" 

"For the wine." 

"What wine ?" 

"The Argenteuil." 

"Where's the Argenteuil?" 

"At the Good Quince." 

"Go to the devil !" said the gravedigger. 

And he threw a spadeful of earth upon the coffin. 

The coffin gave back a hollow sound. Fauchelevent felt himself 
stagger, and nearly fell into the grave. In a voice in which the stran- 
gling sound of the death-rattle began to be heard, he cried : 

"Come, comrade, before the Good Quince closes!" 

The gravedigger took up another spadeful of earth. Fauchelevent 
continued : 

"I'll pay," and he seized the gravedigger by the arm. 

"Hark ye, comrade," he said, "I am the gravedigger of the convent, 
and have come to help you. It's a job we can do at night. Let us 
take a drink first." 

And as he spoke, even while clinging desperately to this urgent 
effort, he asked himself, with some misgiving: "And even should he 
drink — will he get tipsy?" 

"Good rustic," said the gravedigger, "if you insist, I consent. We'll 
have a drink, but after my work, never before it." 

And he tossed his spade again. Fauchelevent held him. 

"It is Argenteuil at six sous the pint !" 

"Ah, bah!" said the gravedigger, you're a bore. Ding-dong, ding- 
dong, the same thing over and over again ; that's all you can say. Be 
off, about your business." 

And he threw in the second spadeful. 

Fauchelevent had reached that point where a man knows no longer 
what he is saying. 

"Oh ! come on, and take a glass, since I'm the one to pay," he again 

208 Les Miserables 

"When weVe put the child to bed," said the gravedigger. 

He tossed in the third spadeful: then, plunging his spade into the 
earth, he added: 

"You see, now, it's going to be cold to-night, and the dead one 
would cry out after us, if we were to plant her there without good 

At this moment, in the act of filling his spade, the gravedigger 
stooped low, and the pocket of his vest gaped open. 

The bewildered eyes of Fauchelevent rested mechanically on this 
pocket, and remained fixed. 

The sun was not yet hidden behind the horizon, and there was still 
light enough to distinguish something white in the gaping pocket. 

All the lightning which the eye of a Picardy peasant can contain 
flashed into the pupils of Fauchelevent. A new idea had struck him. 

Without the gravedigger, who was occupied with his spadeful of 
earth, perceiving him, he slipped his hand from behind into the pocket, 
and took from him the white object it contained. 

The gravedigger flung into the grave the fourth spadeful. 

Just as he was turning to take the fifth, Fauchelevent, looking at him 
with imperturbable calmness, asked: 

"By the way, my new friend, have you got your card ?" 

The gravedigger stopped. 

"What card?" 

"The sun is setting." 

"Well let him put on his night-cap." 

"The cemetery-gate will be closed." 

"Well, what then?" 

"Have you your card ?" 

"Oh ! my card !" said the gravedigger, and he felt in his pocket. 

Having rummaged one pocket he tried another. From these, he 
proceeded to try his watch-fobs, exploring the first, and turning the 
second inside out. 

"No!" said he, "no! I haven't got my card. I must have for- 
gotten it." 

"Fifteen francs fine!" said Fauchelevent. 

The gravedigger turned green. Green is the paleness of people 
naturally livid. 

Cosette 209 

"Oh, good-gracious God, what a fool I am !" he exclaimed. "Fifteen 
francs fine !^' 

"Three hundred-sou pieces." said Fauchelevent. 

The gravedigger dropped his spade. 

Fauchelevent's turn had come. 

"Come! come, recruit," said Fauchelevent, "never despair; there's 
nothing to kill oneself about, and feed the worms. Fifteen francs are 
fifteen francs, and beside, you may not have them to pay. I am an old 
hand, and you a new one. I know all the tricks and traps and turns 
and twists of the business; I'll give you a friend's advice. One 
thing is clear — the sun is setting — and the graveyard will be closed in 
■GiVe minutes." 

"That's true," replied the gravedigger. 

"Five minutes is not time enough for you to fill the grave — it's as 
deep as the very devil — and get out of this before the gate is shut." 

"You're right." 

"In that case, there is fifteen francs fine." 

"Fifteen francs !" 

"But you have time. . . . Where do you live ?" 

"Just by the barriere. Fifteen minutes' walk. Number 87 Rue 
de Yaugirard." 

"You have time, if you will hang your toggery about your neck, 
to get out at once." 

"That's true." 

"Once outside of the gate, you scamper home, get your card, come 
back, and the gatekeeper will let you in again. Having your card, 
there's nothing to pay. Then you can bury your dead man. I'll 
stay here, and watch him while you're gone, to see that he doesn't run 

"I owe you my life, peasant !" 

"Be off, then quick!" said Fauchelevent. 

The gravedigger overcome with gratitude shook his hands, and 
started at a run. 

When the gravedigger had disappeared through the bushes, Fauche- 
levent listened until his footsteps died away, and then, bending over 
the grave, called out in a low voice: 

"Father Madeleine !" 

210 Les Miserables 

1^0 answer. 

Fauchelevent shuddered. He dropped rather than clambered down 
into the grave, threw himself upon the head of the coffin, and cried out : 

"Are you there ?" 

Silence in the coffin. 

Fauchelevent, no longer able to breathe for the shiver that was on 
him, took his cold chisel and hammer, and wrenched off the top board. 
The face of Jean Valjean could be seen in the twilight, his eyes closed 
and his cheeks colourless. 

Fauchelevent's hair stood erect with alarm ; he rose to his feet, and 
then tottered with his back against the side of the grave, ready to sink 
down upon the coffin. He looked upon Jean Valjean. 

Jean Valjean lay there pallid and motionless. 

Fauchelevent murmured in a voice as low as a whisper : 

"He is dead!" 

Then straightening himself, and crossing his arms so violently, that 
his clenched fists sounded against his shoulders, he exclaimed : 

"This is the way I have saved him !" 

Then the poor old man began to sob, talking aloud to himself the 
while, for it is a mistake to think that talking to one's self is not natural. 
Powerful emotions often speak aloud. 

"It's Father Mestienne's fault. What did he die for, the fool? 
What was the use of going off in that way, just when no one expected 
it ? It was he who killed poor M. Madeleine. Father Madeleine ! He 
is in the coffin. He's settled. There's an end of it. ^Now, what's the 
sense of such things? Good God! he's dead! Yes, and his little 
girl — what am I to do with her? What will the fruit-woman say? 
That such a man could die in that way. Good Heaven, is it possible ! 
When I think that he put himself under my cart! . . . Father 
Madeleine! Father Madeleine! Mercy, he's suffocated, I said so — 
but, he wouldn't believe me. Now, here's a pretty piece of business ! 
He's dead — one of the very best men God ever made ; aye, the best, the 
very best ! And his little girl ! I'm not going back there again. I'm 
going to stay here. To have done such a thing as this ! It's well worth 
while to be two old greybeards, in order to be two old fools. But, to 
begin with, how did he manage to get into the convent — that's where 
it started. Such things shouldn't be done. Father Madeleine! 

Cosette 211 

Father Madeleine! Father Madeleine! Madeleine! Monsieur 
Madeleine! Monsieur Mayor! He doesn't hear me. Get yourself 
out of this now, if you please." 

And he tore his hair. 

At a distance, through the trees, a harsh grating sound was heard. 
It was the gate of the cemetery closing. 

Fauchelevent again bent over Jean Valjean, but suddenly started 
back with all the recoil that was possible in a grave. Jean Val jean's 
eyes were open, and gazing at him. 

To behold death is terrifying, and to see a sudden restoration is 
nearly as much so. Fauchelevent became cold and white as a stone, hag- 
gard and utterly disconcerted by all these powerful emotions, and not 
knowing whether he had the dead or the living to deal with, stared at 
Jean Valjean, who in turn stared at him. 

"I was falling asleep," said Jean Valjean. 

And he rose to a sitting posture. 

Fauchelevent dropped on his knees. 

"Oh, blessed Virgin! How you frightened me!" 

Then, springing again to his feet, he cried: 

"Thank you. Father Madeleine !" 

Jean Valjean had merely swooned. The open air had revived him. 

Joy is the reflex of terror. Fauchelevent had nearly as much diffi- 
culty as Jean Valjean in coming to himself. 

"Then you're not dead! Oh, what good sense you have! I called 
you so loudly that you got over it. When I saw you with your eyes 
shut, I said, Well, there now! he's suffocated!' I should have gone 
raving mad — ^mad enough for a strait jacket. They'd have put me in 
the Bicetre. What would you have had me do, if you had been dead ? 
And your little girl! the fruit-woman would have understood nothing 
about it! A child plumped into her lap, and its grandfather dead! 
What a story to tell ! By all the saints in heaven, what a story ! Ah ! 
but you're alive — that's the best of it." 

"I am cold," said Jean Valjean. 

These words recalled Fauchelevent completely to the real state of 
affairs, which were urgent. These two men, even when restored, felt, 
without knowing it, a peculiar agitation and a strange inward trouble, 
which was but the sinister bewilderment of the place. 

212 Les Miserables 

^Tet us get away from here at once," said Fauchelevent. 

He thrust his hand into his pocket, and drew from it a flask with 
which he was provided. 

^^But a drop of this first!" said he. 

The flask completed what the open air had begun. Jean Valjean 
took a swallow of brandy, and felt thoroughly restored. 

He got out of the coffin, and assisted Fauchelevent to nail down the 
lid again. Three minutes afterwards, they were out of the grave. 

After this, Eauchelevant was calm enough. He took his time. The 
cemetery was closed. There was no fear of the return of Gribier the 
gravedigger. That recruit was at home hunting up his ^^card," and 
rather unlikely to find it, as it was in Fauchelevent's pocket. Without 
his card, he could not get back into the cemetery. 

Fauchelevent took the spade and Jean Yaljean the pick, and to- 
gether they buried the empty coffin. 

When the grave was filled, Fauchelevent said to Jean Valjean: 

^^Come, let us go ; I'll keep the spade, you take the pick." 

Night was coming on rapidly. 


An hour later, in the depth of night, two men and a child stood in 
front of No. 62, Petite Eue Picpus. The elder of the men lifted the 
knocker and rapped. 

It was Fauchelevent, Jean Yaljean, and Cosette. 

The two men had gone to look for Cosette at the shop of the fruit- 
eress of the Pue de Chemin Vert, where Fauchelevent had left her on 
the preceding evening. Cosette had passed the twenty-four hours 
wondering what it all meant and trembling in silence. She trembled 
so much that she had not wept, nor had she tasted food nor slept. The 
worthy fruit-woman had asked her a thousand questions without ob- 
taining any other answer than a sad look that never varied. Cosette 
did not let a word of all she had heard and seen, in the last two days, 
escape her. She divined that a crisis had come. She felt, in her very 
heart, that she must be "good." Who has not experienced the supreme 
effect of these two words pronounced in a certain tone in the ear of 

Cosette 213 

some frightened creature, "Don't speak!" Fear is mute. Besides, 
no one ever keeps a secret so well as a child. 

But when, after those mournful four-and-twenty hours, she again 
saw Jean Valjean, she uttered such a cry of joy that any thoughtful 
person hearing her would have divined in it an escape from some 
yawning gulf. 

Fauchelevent belonged to the convent and knew all the pass-words. 
Every door opened before him. 

Thus was that doubly fearful problem solved of getting out and 
getting in again. 

The porter, who had his instructions, opened the little side door 
which served to communicate between the court and the garden, and 
which, twenty years ago, could still be seen from the street, in the wall 
at the extremity of the court, facing the porte-cochere. The porter ad- 
mitted all three by this door, and from that point they went to this 
private inner parlour, where Fauchelevent had, on the previous eve- 
ning, received the orders of the prioress. 

The prioress, rosary in hand, was awaiting them. A mother, with 
her veil down, stood near her. A modest taper lighted, or one might 
almost say, pretended to light up the parlour. 

The prioress scrutinised Jean Valjean. Nothing scans so carefully 
as a downcast eye. 

Then she proceeded to question: 

"You are the brother?" 

"Yes, reverend mother," replied Fauchelevent. 

"What is your name?" 

Fauchelevent replied: 

"Ultimus Fauchelevent!" 

He had, in reality, had a brother named Ultimus, who was dead. 

"From what part of the country are you?" 

Fauchelevent answered: 

"From Picquigny, near Amiens." 

"What is your age?" 

Fauchelevent answered: 


"What is your business?" 

214 Les Miserables 

Fauchelevent answered: 


"Are you a true Christian ?" 

Fauchelevent answered: 

"All of our family are such." 

"Is this your little girl ?" 

!Fauchelevent answered: 

"Yes, reverend mother." 

"You are her father?" 

Fauchelevent answered: 

"Her grandfather." 

The mother said to the prioress in an undertone: 

"He answers well." 

Jean Valjean had not spoken a word. 

The prioress looked at Cosette attentively, and then said aside to 
the mother — 

"She will be homely." 

The two mothers talked together very low for a few minutes in a 
corner of the parlour, and then the prioress turned and said — 

"Father Fauvent, you will have another knee-cap and bell. We 
need two, now." 

So, next morning, two little bells were heard tinkling in the garden, 
and the nuns could not keep from lifting a corner of their veils. They 
saw two men digging side by side, in the lower part of the garden under 
the trees — Fauvent and another. Immense event! The silence was 
broken, so far as to say — 

"It's an assistant-gardener!" 

The mothers added: 

"He is Father Fauvent's brother." 

In fact, Jean Valjean was regularly installed; he had the leather 
knee-cap and the bell; henceforth he had his commission. His name 
ivas Ultimus Fauchelevent. 

The strongest recommendation for Cosette's admission had been the 
remark of the prioress: She will he homely. 

The prioress having uttered this prediction, immediately took 
Cosette into her friendship and gave her a place in the school building 
fts a charity pupil. 

Cosette 215 

There is nothing not entirely logical in this. 

It is all in vain to have no mirrors in convents ; women are conscious 
of their own appearance; young girls who know that they are pretty 
do not readily become nuns; the inclination to the calling being in 
inverse proportion to good looks, more is expected from the homely 
than from the handsome ones. Hence a marked preference for the 

This whole affair elevated good old Fauchelevent greatly; he had 
achieved a triple success; — in the eyes of Jean Valjean whom he had 
rescued and sheltered; with the gravedigger, Gribier, who said he had 
saved him from a fine; and, at the convent, which, thanks to him, in 
retaining the coffin of Mother Crucifixion under the altar, eluded Caesar 
and satisfied God. There was a coffin with a body in it at the Petit 
Picpus, and a coffin without a body in the Vaugirard cemetery. Pub- 
lic order was greatly disturbed thereby, undoubtedly, but nobody per- 
ceived it. As for the convent, its gratitude to Fauchelevent was deep. 
Fauchelevent became the best of servants and the most precious of 


CosETTEj in becoming a pupil at the convent, had to assume the dress 
of the school girls. Jean Valjean succeeded in having the garments 
which she had laid aside, given to him. It was the same mourning suit 
he had carried for her to put on when she left the Thenardiers. It was 
not much worn. Jean Valjean rolled up these garments, as well as the 
woollen stockings and shoes, with much camphor and other aromatic 
substances of which there is such an abundance in convents, and packed 
them in a small valise which he managed to procure. He put this 
valise in a chair near his bed, and always kept the key of it in his pocket. 
If those holy women had possessed aught of the discrimination of 
Javert, they might have remarked, in the course of time, that when 
there was any little errand to run outside for on account of the garden, 
it was always the elder Fauchelevent, old, infirm, and lame as he was, 
who went, and never the other ; but, whether it be that eyes continually 
fixed upon God cannot play the spy, or whether they were too con- 
stantly employed in watching one another, they noticed nothing. 

216 Les Miserables 

However, Jean Valjean was well satisfied to keep quiet and still. 
Javert watched the quarter for a good long month. 

The convent was to Jean Yaljean like an island surrounded by wide 
waters. These four walls were, henceforth, the world to him. 
Within them he could see enough of the sky to be calm, and enough of 
Cosette to be happy. 

A very pleasant life began again for him. 

Everything around him, this quiet garden, these balmy flowers, 
these children, shouting with joy, these meek and simple women, this 
silent cloister, gradually entered into all his being, and, little by little, 
his soul subsided into silence like this cloister, into fragrance like these 
flowers, into peace like this garden, into simplicity like these women, 
into joy like these children. And then he reflected that two houses of 
God had received him in succession at the two critical moments of his 
life, the first when every door was closed and human society repelled 
him; the second, when human society again howled upon his track, 
and the galleys once more gaped for him; and that, had it not been 
for the first, he should have fallen back into crime, and, had it not been 
for the second, into punishment. 

His whole heart melted in gratitude, and he loved more and more. 

Several years passed thus. Cosette was growing. 




About eight or nine years after the events narrated in the second part 
of this story, there was seen, on the Boulevard du Temple, and in the 
neighbourhood of the Chateau d'Eau, a little boy of eleven or twelve 
years of age. This child was well muffled up in a man's pair of pan- 
taloons, but he had not got them from his father, and in a woman's 
chemise, which was not an inheritance from his mother. Strangers 
had clothed him in these rags out of charity. Still, he had a father 
and a mother. But his father never thought of him, and his mother 
did not love him. He was one of those children so deserving of pity 
from all, who have fathers and mothers, and yet are orphans. 

This little boy never felt so happy as when in the street. The pave- 
ment was not so hard to him as the heart of his mother. 

His parents had thrown him out into life with a kick. 

He had quite ingenuously spread his wings, and taken flight. 

He was a boisterous, pallid, nimble, wide-awake, roguish urchin, 
with an air at once vivacious and sickly. He went, came, sang, played 
pitch and toss, scraped the gutters, stole a little, but he did it gaily, 
like the cats and the sparrows, laughed when people called him an 
errand-boy, and got angry when they called him a ragamuffin. He 
had no shelter, no food, no fire, no love, but he was light-hearted be- 
cause he was free. 

When these poor creatures are men, the millstone of our social sys- 
tem almost always comes in contact with them, and grinds them, but 
while they are children they escape because they are little. The 
smallest hole saves them. 

However, deserted as this lad was, it happened sometimes, every 

two or three months, that he would say to himself: "Come, I'll go 

and see my mother !" Then he would leave the Boulevard, the Cirque, 

the Porte Saint Martin, go down along the quays, cross the bridges, 

reach the suburbs, walk as far as the Salpetriere, and arrive — where? 

Precisely at that double number, 50-52, which is known to the reader, 

the Gorbeau building. 


220 Les Miserables 

At the period referred to, the tenement No. 50-52, usually empty, 
and permanently decorated with the placard "Eooms to let," was, for 
a wonder, tenanted by several persons who, in all other respects, as is 
always the case at Paris, had no relation to or connection with each 
other. They all belonged to that indigent class which begins with the 
small bourgeois in embarrassed circumstances, and descends, from 
grade to grade of wretchedness, through the lower strata of society, 
until it reaches those two beings in whom all the material things of 
civilisation terminate, the scavenger and the rag-picker. 

The ^landlady'' of the time of Jean Valjean was dead, and had been 
replaced by another exactly like her. I do not remember what philos- 
opher it was who said : "There is never any lack of old women." 

The new old woman was called Madame Burgon, and her life had 
been remarkable for nothing except a dynasty of three paroquets, 
which had in succession wielded the sceptre of her affections. 

Among those who lived in the building, the wretchedest of all were 
a family of four persons, father, mother, and two daughters nearly 
grown, all four lodging in the same garret room, one of those cells of 
which we have already spoken. 

This family at first sight presented nothing very peculiar but its 
extreme destitution; the father, in renting the room, had given his 
name as Jondrette. .Some time after his moving in, which had sin- 
gularly resembled, to borrow the memorable expression of the land- 
lady, the entrance of nothing at all, this Jondrette said to the old 
woman, who, like her predecessor, was, at the same time, portress and 
swept the stairs: "Mother So and So, if anybody should come and 
ask for a Pole or an Italian or, perhaps, a Spaniard, that is for me." 

isTow, this family was the family of our sprightly little barefooted ur- 
chin. When he came there, he found distress and, what is sadder still, 
no smile ; a cold hearthstone and cold hearts. When he came in, they 
would ask: "Where have you come from?" He would answer: 
"From the street." When he was going away they would ask him: 
"Where are you going to?" He would answer: "Into the street." 
His mother would say to him: "What have you come here for?" 

The child lived, in this absence of affection, like those pale plants 
that spring up in cellars. He felt no suffering from this mode of ex- 

Marius 221 

istence, and bore no ill-will to anybody. He did not know how a 
father and mother ought to be. 

But yet his mother loved his sisters. 

We had forgotten to say that on the Boulevard du Temple this boy 
went by the name of little Gavroche. Why was his name Gavroche ? 
Probably because his father's name was Jondrette. 

To break all links seems to be the instinct of some wretched families. 
Nevertheless, let us remember Gavroche ; we shall meet him again. 

The room occupied by the Jondrettes in the Gorbeau tenement was 
the last at the end of the hall. The adjoining cell was tenanted by a 
very poor young man who was called Monsieur Marius. 

Let us see who and what Monsieur Marius was. 



In the Eue Boucherat, Rue de Normandie, and Rue de Saintonge, 
there still remain a few old inhabitants who preserve a memory of a 
fine old man named M. Gillenormand, and who like to talk about him. 
This man was old when they were young. This figure, to those who 
look sadly upon that vague swarm of shadows which they call the past, 
has not yet entirely disappeared from the labyrinth of streets in the 
neighbourhood of the Temple, to which, under Louis XIV., were given 
the names of all the provinces of France, precisely as in our days the 
names of all the capitals of Europe have been given to the streets in 
the new Quartier Tivoli; an advance, be it said by the way, in which 
progress is visible. 

M. Gillenormand, who was as much alive as any man can be, in 
1831, was one of those men who have become curiosities, simply be- 
cause they have lived a long time ; and who are strange, because form- 
erly they were like everybody else, and now they are no longer like 
anybody else. He was a peculiar old man, and very truly a man of 
another age — the genuine bourgeois of the eighteenth century,- a very 
perfect specimen, a little haughty, wearing his good old bourgeoisie as 

222 Les Miserables 

marquises wear their marquisates. He had passed his ninetieth year, 
walked erect, spoke in a loud voice, saw clearly, drank hard, ate, slept, 
and snored. He had every one of his thirty-two teeth. He wore 
glasses only when reading. He had had two wives; by the first a 
daughter, who had remained unmarried, and by the second another 
daughter, who died when about thirty years old, and who had married 
for love, or luck, or otherwise, a soldier of fortune, who had served in 
the armies of the republic and the empire, had won the cross at Aus- 
terlitz, and been made colonel at Waterloo. ''This is the disgrace of 
my family/' said the old bourgeois. He took a great deal of snuff, 
and had a peculiar skill in rufiling his lace frill with the back of his 
hand. He had very little belief in God. 


As to the two daughters of Monsieur Gillenormand, we have just 
spoken of them. They were born ten years apart. In their youth 
they resembled each other very little; and in character as well as in 
countenance, were as far from being sisters as possible. The younger 
was a cheerful soul, attracted towards everything that is bright, busy 
with flowers, poetry, and music, carried away into the glories of space, 
enthusiastic; ethereal, affianced from childhood in the ideal to a dim 
heroic figure. The elder had also her chimera ; in the azure depth she 
saw a contractor, some good, coarse commissary, very rich, a husband 
splendidly stupid, a million-made man, or even a prefect; receptions 
at the prefecture, an usher of the ante-chamber, with the chain on his 
neck, official balls, harangues at the mayor's, to be ''Madame la prefete/' 
this whirled in her imagination. The two sisters wandered thus, each 
in her own fancy, when they were young girls. Both had wings, one 
like an angel, the other like a goose. 

"No ambition is fully realised, here below at least. !No paradise be- 
comes terrestrial at the period in which we live. The younger had 
married the man of her dreams, but she was dead. The elder was not 

At the moment she makes her entry into the story which we are re- 
lating, she was an old piece of virtue, an incombustible prude, one of 
the sharpest noses and one of the most obtuse minds which could be 

Marius 223 

discovered. A characteristic incident. Outside of the immediate 
family nobody had ever known her first name. She was called 
Mademoiselle Gillenormand the elder. 

We must say that in growing old, Mademoiselle Gillenormand had 
rather gained than lost. This is the case with passive natures. She 
had never been peevish, which is a relative goodness ; and then, years 
wear off angles, and the softening of time had come upon her. She 
was sad with an obscure sadness of which she had not the secret herself. 
There was in her whole person the stupor of a life ended but never 

She kept her father's house. These households of an old man and 
an old maid are not rare, and always have the touching aspect of two 
feeblenesses leaning upon each other. 

There was besides in the house, between this old maid and this old 
man, a child, a little boy, always trembling and mute before M. Gille- 
normand. M. Gillenormand never spoke to this child but with stern 
voice, and sometimes with uplifted cane: ''Here! Monsieur — rascal, 
hlack-guard, come here! Answer me, rogue! Let me see you, scape- 
grace !'' etc. etc. He idolised him. 

It was his grandson. We shall see this child again. 



Whoever, at that day, had passed through the little city of Vernon, 
and walked over that beautiful monumental bridge which will be very 
soon replaced, let us hope, by some horrid wire bridge, would have 
noticed, as his glance fell from the top of the parapet, a man of about 
fifty, with a leather casque on his head, dressed in pantaloons and 
waistcoat of coarse grey cloth, to which something yellow was stitched 
which had been a red ribbon, shod in wooden shoes, browned by the 
sun, his face almost black and his hair almost white, a large scar upon 
his forehead extending down his cheek, bent, bowed down, older than 
his years, walking nearly every day with a spade and a pruning knife in 
his hand, in one of those walled compartments, in the vicinity of the 

224 Les Miserables 

bridge, which, like a chain of terraces border the left bank of the Seine, 
— charming inclosures full of flowers of which one would say, if they 
were much larger, they are gardens, and if they were a little smaller, 
they are Bouquets. All these inclosures are bounded by the river on 
one side and by a house on the other. The man in the waistcoat and 
wooden shoes of whom we have just spoken lived, about the year 1817, 
in the smallest of these inclosures and the humblest of these houses. 
He lived there solitary and alone, in silence and in poverty, with a 
woman who was neither young nor old, neither beautiful nor ugly, 
neither peasant nor bourgeois, who waited upon him. The square of 
earth which he called his garden was celebrated in the town for the 
beauty of the flowers which he cultivated in it. Flowers were his 

By dint of labour, perseverance, attention, and pails of water, he had 
succeeded in creating after the Creator, and had invented certain tulips 
and dahlias which seemed to have been forgotten by Nature. He was 
ingenious; he anticipated Soulange Bodin in the formation of little 
clumps of heather earth for the culture of rare and precious shrubs 
from America and China. By break of day, in summer, he was in 
his walks, digging, pruning, weeding, watering, walking in the midst 
of his flowers with an air of kindness, sadness, and gentleness, some- 
times dreamy and motionless for whole hours, listening to the song of 
a bird in a tree, the prattling of a child in a house, or oftener with his 
eyes fixed on some drop of dew at the end of a spear of grass, of which 
the sun was making a carbuncle. His table was very frugal, and he 
drank more milk than wine. An urchin would make him yield, 
his servant scolded him. He was timid, so much so as to seem un- 
sociable, he rarely went out, and saw nobody but the poor who 
rapped at his window, and his cure. Abbe Mabeuf, a good old man. 
Still, if any of the inhabitants of the city or strangers, whoever they 
might be, curious to see his tulips and roses, knocked at his little 
house, he opened his door with a smile. This was the brigand of the 

Whoever, at the same time, had read the military memoirs, the bi- 
ographies, the Moniteur, and the bulletins of the Grand Army, would 
have been struck by a name which appears rather often, the name of 
George Pontmercy. When quite young, this George Pontmercy was a 

Marius 225 

soldier in the regiment of Saintonge. The revolution broke out. The 
regiment of Saintonge was in the Army of the Rhine. For the old 
regiments of the monarchy kept their province names even after the 
fall of the monarchy, and were not brigaded until 1794. Pontmercy 
fought at Spires, at Worms, at Neustadt, at Turkheim, at Alzey, at 
Mayence where he was one of the two hundred who formed Houchard's 
rear-guard. He with eleven others held their ground against the 
Prince of Hesse's corps behind the old rampart of Andernach, and 
only fell back upon the bulk of the army when the hostile cannon had 
effected a breach from the top of the parapet to the slope of the glacis. 
He was under Kleber at Marchiennes, and at the battle of Mont Palis- 
sel, where he had his arm broken by a musket-ball. Then he passed 
to the Italian frontier, and he was one of the thirty grenadiers who 
defended the Col di Tende with Joubert. Joubert was made Adjutant- 
General, and Pontmercy Second-Lieutenant. Pontmercy was by the 
side of Berthier in the midst of the storm of balls on that dav of Lodi 
of which Bonaparte said: Berthier was cannoneer, cavalier, and 
grenadier. He saw his old general, Joubert, fall at IN^ovi, at the mo- 
ment when, with uplifted sword, he was crying: Forward! Being 
embarked with his company, through the necessities of the campaign, 
in a pinnace, which was on the way from Genoa to some little port 
on the coast, he fell into a wasp's-nest of seven or eight English vessels. 
The Genoese captain wanted to throw the guns into the sea, hide the 
soldiers in the hold, and slip through in the dark like a merchantman. 
Pontmercy had the colours seized to the halyards of the ensign-staff, 
and passed proudly under the guns of the British frigates. Fifty 
miles further on, his boldness increasing, he attacked with his pinnace 
and captured a large English transport carrying troops to Sicily, so 
loaded with men and horses that the vessel was full to the hatches. 
In 1805, he was in that division of Malher which captured Giinzburg 
from the Archduke Ferdinand. At Weltingen he received in his 
arms under a shower of balls Colonel Maupetit, who was mortally 
wounded at the head of the 9th Dragoons. He distinguished himself 
at Austerlitz in that wonderful march in echelon under the enemy's 
fire. When the cavalry of the Russian Imperial Guard crushed a 
battalion of the 4th of the Line, Pontmercy was one of those who re- 
venged the repulse, and overthrew the Guard. The emperor gave him 

226 Les Miserables 

the cross. Pontmercy successively saw Wurmser made prisoner in 
Mantua, Melas in Alexandria, and Mack in Ulm. He was in the eighth 
corps, of the Grand Army, which Mortier commanded, and which took 
Hamburg. Then he passed into the 55th of the Line, which was the 
old Flanders regiment. At Eylau, he was in the churchyard where 
the heroic captain Louis Hugo, uncle of the author of this book, sus- 
tained alone with his company of eighty-three men, for two hours, 
the whole effort of the enemy's army. Pontmercy was one of the three 
who came out of that churchyard alive. He was at Eriedland. Then 
he saw Moscow, then the Beresina, then Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, 
Wachau, Leipsic, and the defiles of Glenhausen, then Montmirail, 
Chateau-Thierry, Craon, the banks of the Marne, the banks of the 
Aisne, and the formidable position at Laon. At Arnay le Due, a 
captain, he sabred ten cossacks, and saved, not his general, but his 
corporal. He was wounded on that occasion, and twenty-seven splin- 
ters were extracted from his left arm alone. Eight days before the 
capitulation of Paris, he exchanged with a comrade, and entered the 
cavalry. He had what was called under the old regime the douhle- 
handj that is to say equal skill in managing, as a soldier, the sabre or 
the musket, as an officer, a squadron or a battalion. It is this skill, 
perfected by military education, which gives rise to certain special 
arms, the dragoons, for instance, who are both cavalry and infantry. 
He accompanied Napoleon to the island of Elba. At Waterloo he 
led a squadron of cuirassiers in Dubois' brigade. He it was who took 
the colours from the Lunenburg battalion. He carried the colours to 
the emperor's feet. He was covered with blood. He had received, in 
seizing the colours, a sabre stroke across his face. The emperor, well 
pleased, cried to him: You are a Colonel, you are a Baron, you are 
an Officer of the Legion of Honour! Pontmercy answered: Sire, 
I thank you for my widow. An hour afterwards, he fell in the ravine 
of Ohain. !N"ow who was this George Pontmercy ? He was that very 
brigand of the Loire. 

We have already seen something of his history. After Waterloo, 
Pontmercy, drawn out, as will be remembered, from the sunken road 
of Ohain, succeeded in regaining the army, and was passed along from 
ambulance to ambulance to the cantonments of the Loire. 

Marius 227 

He had nothing but his very scanty half-pay as chief of squadron. 
He hired the smallest house he could find in Vernon. He lived there 
alone; how we have just seen. Under the empire, between two wars, 
he had found time to marry Mademoiselle Gillenormand. The old 
bourgeois, who really felt outraged, consented with a sigh, saying: 
''The greatest families are forced to it/' In 1815, Madame Pontmercy, 
an admirable woman in every respect, noble and rare, and worthy of 
her husband, died, leaving a child. This child would have been the 
coloners joy in his solitude; but the grandfather had imperiously 
demanded his grandson; declaring that, unless he were given up to 
him, he would disinherit him. The father yielded for the sake of the 
little boy, and not being able to have his child he set about loving 

He had moreover given up everything, making no movement nor 
conspiring with others. He divided his thoughts between the inno- 
cent things he was doing, and the grand things he had done. He 
passed his time hoping for a pink or remembering Austerlitz. 

M. Gillenormand had no intercourse with his son-in-law. The 
colonel was to him "a bandit," and he was to the colonel "a blockhead." 
M. Gillenormand never spoke of the colonel, unless sometimes to make 
mocking allusions to "his barony." It was expressly understood that 
Pontmercy should never endeavour to see his son or speak to him, under 
pain of the boy being turned away, and disinherited. To the Gil- 
lenormands, Pontmercy was pestiferous. They intended to bring up 
the child to their liking. The colonel did wrong perhaps to accept 
these conditions, but he submitted to them, thinking that he was doing 
right, and sacrificing himself alone. 

The . inheritance from the grandfather Gillenormand was a small 
affair, but the inheritance from Mile. Gillenormand the elder was con- 
siderable. This aunt, who had remained single, was very rich from 
the maternal side, and the son of her sister was her natural heir. 
The child, whose name was Marius, knew that he had a father, but 
nothing more. Nobody spoke a word to him about him. However, 
in the society into which his grandfather took him, the whisperings, 
the hints, the winks, enlightened the little boy's mind at length; he 
finally comprehended something of it, and as he naturally imbibed, by 

228 Les Miserables 

a sort of infiltration and slow penetration, the ideas and opinions which 
formed, so to say, the air he breathed, he came little by little to think 
of his father only with shame and with a closed heart. 

While he was thus growing up, every two or three months the colonel 
would escape, come furtively to Paris like a fugitive from justice 
breaking his ban, and go to Saint Sulpice, at the hour when Aunt 
Gillenormand took Marius to mass. There, trembling lest the aunt 
should turn round, concealed behind a pillar, motionless, not daring to 
breathe, he saw his child. The scarred veteran was afraid of the old 

From this, in fact came his connection with the cure of Vernon, 
Abbe Mabeuf. 

This worthy priest was the brother of a warden of Saint Sulpice, 
who had several times noticed this man gazing upon his child, and the 
scar on his cheek, and the big tears in his eyes. This man, who had 
so really the appearance ol a man, and who wept like a woman, had 
attracted the warden's attention. This face remained in his memory. 
One day, having gone to Vernon to see his brother, he met Colonel 
Pontmercy on the bridge, and recognised the man of Saint Sulpice. 
The warden spoke of it to the cure, and the two, under some pretext, 
made the colonel a visit. This visit led to others. The colonel, who 
at first was very reserved, Anally unbosomed himself, and the cure and 
the warden came to know the whole story, and how Pontmercy was 
sacrificing his own happiness to the future of his child. The result 
was that the cure felt a veneration and tenderness for him, and the 
colonel, on his part, felt an affection for the cure. And, moreover, 
when it happens that both are sincere and good, nothing will mix and 
amalgamate more easily than an old priest and an old soldier. In 
reality, they are the same kind of man. One has devoted himself 
to his country upon earth, the other to his country in heaven ; there is 
no other difference. 

Twice a year, on the first of January and on St. George's Day, 
Marius wrote filial letters to his father, which his aunt dictated, and 
which, one would have said, were copied from some Complete Letter 
Writer ; this was all that M. Gillenormand allowed ; and the father 
answered with very tender letters, which the grandfather thrust into 
his pocket without reading. 

Marius 229 


The completion of Marius' classical studies was coincident with M. 
Gillenormand's retirement from the world. The old man bade fare- 
well to the Faubourg Saint Germain, and to Madame de T.'s salon, and 
established himself in the Marais, at his house in the Rue des Filles du 
Calvaire. His servants there were, in addition to the porter, the 
chambermaid l^icolette who had succeeded Magnon, and the short- 
winded and pursy Basque. 

In 1827, Marius had just attained his eighteenth year. On coming 
in one evening, he saw his grandfather with a letter in his hand. 

"Marius," said M. Gillenormand, "you will set out to-morrow for 

"What for V said Marius. 

"To see your father." 

Marius shuddered. He had thought of everything but this, that 
a day might come, when he would have to see his father. Nothing 
could have been more unlooked for, more surprising, and, we must say, 
more disagreeable. It was aversion compelled to intimacy. It was 
not chagrin; no, it was pure drudgery. 

Marius, besides his feelings of political antipathy, was convinced that 
his father, the sabrer, as M. Gillenormand called him in his gentler 
moments, did not love him; that was clear, since he had abandoned 
him and left him to others. Feeling that he was not loved at all, he 
had no love. ^Nothing more natural, said he to himself. 

He was so astounded that he did not question M. Gillenormand. 
The grandfather continued : 

"It appears that he is sick. He asks for you." 

And after a moment of silence he added : 

"Start to-morrow morning. I think there is at the Cour des 
Fontaines a conveyance which starts at six o'clock and arrives at night. 
Take it. He says the case is urgent." 

Then he crumpled up the letter and put it in his pocket. Marius 
could have started that evening and been with his father the next 
morning. A diligence then made the trip to Eouen from the Rue du 
Bouloi by night passing through Vernon. Neither M. Gillenormand 
nor Marius thought of inquiring. 

230 Les Miserables 

The next day at dusk, Marius arrived at Vernon. Candles were 
just beginning to be lighted. He asked the first person he met for 
the house of Monsieur Pontmercy. For in his feelings he agreed with 
the Eestoration, and he, too, recognised his father neither as baron nor 
as colonel. 

The house was pointed out to him. He rang; a woman came and 
opened the door with a small lamp in her hand. 

"Monsieur Pontmercy ?'' said Marius. 

The woman remained motionless. 

"Is it here?" asked Marius. 

The woman gave an affirmative nod of the head. 

"Can I speak with him ?" 

The woman gave a negative sign. 

"But I am his son!" resumed Marius. ^^He expects me." 

"He expects you no longer," said the woman. 

Then he perceived that she was in tears. 

She pointed to the door of a low room ; he entered. 

In this room, which was lighted by a tallow candle on the mantel, 
there were three men, one of them standing, one on his knees, and 
one stripped to his shirt and lying at full length upon the floor. The 
one upon the floor was the colonel. 

The two others were a physician and a priest who was praying. 

The colonel had been three days before attacked with a brain fever. 
At the beginning of the sickness, having a presentiment of ill, he had 
written to Monsieur Gillenormand to ask for his son. He had grown 
worse. On the very evening of Marius' arrival at Vernon, the colonel 
had had a fit of delirium; he sprang out of his bed in spite of the 
servant, crying: "My son has not come! I am going to meet him!" 
Then he had gone out of his room and fallen upon the floor of the 
hall. He had but just died. 

The doctor and the cure had been sent for. The doctor had come too 
late, the cure had come too late. The son also had come too late. 

By the dim light of the candle, they could distinguish upon the 
cheek of the pale and prostrate colonel a big tear which had fallen from 
his death-stricken eye. The eye was glazed, but the tear was not dry. 
This tear was for his son's delay. 

Marius looked upon this man, whom he saw for the first time, and 

Marius 231 

for the last — this venerable and manly face, these open eyes which saw 
not, this white hair, these robust limbs upon which he distinguished 
here and there brown lines which were sabre-cuts, and a species of red 
stars which were bullet-holes. He looked upon that gigantic scar 
which imprinted heroism upon this face on which God had impressed 
goodness. He thought that this man was his father and that this man 
was dead, and he remained unmoved. 

The sorrow which he experienced was the sorrow which he would 
have felt before any other man whom he might have seen stretched out 
in death. 

Mourning, bitter mourning was in that room. The servant was 
lamenting by herself in a corner, the cure was praying, and his sobs 
were heard ; the doctor was wiping his eyes ; the corpse itself wept. 

This doctor, this priest, and this woman, looked at Marius through 
their affliction without saying a word ; it was he who was the stranger. 
Marius, too little moved, felt ashamed and embarrassed at his attitude ; 
he had his hat in his hand, he let it fall to the floor, to make believe 
that grief deprived him of strength to hold it. 

At the same time he felt something like remorse, and he despised 
himself for acting thus. But was it his fault ? He did not love his 
father, indeed! 

The colonel left nothing. The sale of his furniture hardly paid 
for his burial. The servant found a scrap of paper which she handed 
to Marius. It contained this, in the handwriting of the colonel: 

"For my Son. — The emperor made me a baron upon the battle-field 
of Waterloo. Since the Eestoration contests this title which I have 
bought with my blood, my son will take it and bear it. I need not say 
that he will be worthy of it." On the back, the colonel had added: 
^^At this same battle of Waterloo, a sergeant saved my life. This 
man's name is Thenardier. ISTot long ago, I believe he was keeping a 
little tavern in a village in the suburbs of Paris, at Chelles or at Mont- 
fermeil. If my son meets him, he will do Thenardier all the service 
he can." 

Not from duty towards his father, but on account of that vague 
respect for death which is always so imperious in the heart of man, 
Marius took this paper and pressed it. 

'No trace remained of the colonel. Monsieur Gillenormand had hia 

232 Les Miserables 

sword and uniform sold to a second-liand dealer. The neighbours 
stripped the garden and carried off the rare flowers. The other plants 
became briery and scraggy, and died. 

Marius remained only forty-eight hours at Vernon. After the 
burial, he returned to Paris and went back to his law, thinking no 
more of his father than if he had never lived. In two days the colonel 
had been buried, and in three days forgotten. 

Marius wore crape on his hat. That was all. 


Marius had preserved the religious habits of his childhood. One 
Sunday he had gone to hear mass at Saint Sulpice, at this same 
chapel of the Virgin to which his aunt took him when he was a little 
boy, and being that day more absent-minded and dreamy than usual, 
he took his place behind a pillar and knelt down, without noticing it, 
before a Utrecht velvet chair, on the backs of which this name 
was written: Monsieur Maheuf, churchwarden. The mass had 
hardly commenced when an old man presented himself and said to 
Marius : 

"Monsieur, this is my place." 

Marius moved away readily, and the old man took his chair. 

After mass, Marius remained absorbed in thought a few steps dis- 
tant; the old man approached him again and said: "I beg your 
pardon, monsieur, for having disturbed you a little while ago, and for 
disturbing you again now ; but you must have thought me impertinent, 
and I must explain.'^ 

"Monsieur," said Marius, "it is unnecessary." 

"Yes!" resumed the old man; "I do not wish you to have a bad 
opinion of me. You see I think a great deal of that place. It seems 
to me that the mass is better there. Why ? I will tell you. To that 
place I have seen for ten years, regularly, every two or three months, 
a poor, brave father come, who had no other opportunity and no other 
way of seeing his child, being prevented through some family arrange- 
ments. He came at the hour when he knew his son was brought to 
mass. The little one never suspected that his father was here. He 
did not even know, perhaps, that he had a father, the innocent boy! 

Marius 233 

The father, for his part, kept behind a pillar, so that nobody should 
see him. He looked at his child, and wept. This poor man wor- 
shipped this little boy. I saw that. This place has become sanctified, 
as it were, for me, and I have acquired the habit of coming here to hear 
mass. I prefer it to the bench, where I have a right to be as a warden. 
I was even acquainted slightly with this unfortunate gentleman. He 
had a father-in-law, a rich aunt, relatives, I do not remember exactly, 
who threatened to disinherit the child if he, the father, should see him. 
He had sacrificed himself that his son might some day be rich and 
happy. They were separated by political opinions. Certainly I ap- 
prove of political opinions, but there are people who do not know where 
to stop. Bless me ! because a man was at Waterloo he is not a monster ; 
a father is not separated from his child for that. He was one of 
Bonaparte's colonels. He is dead, I believe. He lived at Vernon, 
where my brother is cure, and his name is something like Pontmarie, 
or Montpercy. He had a handsome sabre cut." 

"Pontmercy," said Marius, turning pale. 

"Exactly; Pontmercy. Did you know him?" 

"Monsieur," said Marius, "he was my father." 

The old churchwarden clasped his hands, and exclaimed — 

"Ah! you are the child! Yes, that is it; ought to be a man now. 
Well! poor child, you can say that you had a father who loved you 

Marius offered his arm to the old man, and walked with him to 
his house. IsText day he said to Monsieur Gillenormand : — 

"We have arranged a hunting party with a few friends. Will you 
permit me to be absent for three days ?" 

"Four," answered the grandfather; "go; amuse yourself." 

And with a wink he whispered to his daughter — 

"Some love affair!" 


Where Marius went we shall see a little further on. 

Marius was absent three days, then he returned to Paris, went 
straight to the library of the law-school, and asked for the file of the 

234 Les Miserables 

He read the Monitev/r; he read all the histories of the republic and 
the empire; the Memorial de 8ainte-Helene; all the memoirs, journals, 
bulletins, proclamations; he devoured everything. The first time he 
met his father's name in the bulletins of the grand army he had a 
fever for a whole week. He went to see the generals under whom 
George Pontmercy had served — among others, Count H. The church- 
warden, Mabeuf, whom he had gone to see again, gave him an account 
of the life at Vernon, the colonel's retreat, his flowers and his solitude. 
iMarius came to understand fully this rare, sublime, and gentle man, 
this sort of lion-lamb who was his father. 

In the meantime, engrossed in this study, which took up all his 
time, as well as all his thoughts, he hardly saw the Gillenormands 
more. At the hours of meals he appeared ; then when they looked for 
him, he was gone. The aunt grumbled. The grandfather smiled. 
^Toh, poh! it is the age for the lasses!" Sometimes the old man 
added : "The devil ! I thought that it was some gallantry. It seems 
to be a passion.'' 

It was a passion, indeed. Marius was on the way to adoration for 
his father. 

One night he was alone in his little room next the roof. His candle 
was lighted ; he was reading, leaning on his table by the open window. 
All manner of reveries came over him from the expanse of space and 
mingled with his thought. What a spectacle is night! We hear 
dull sounds, not knowing whence they come; we see Jupiter, twelve 
hundred times larger than the earth, glistening like an ember, the 
welkin is black, the stars sparkle, it is terror-inspiring. 

He was reading the bulletins of the Grand Army, those heroic 
strophes written on the battle-field ; he saw there at intervals his father's 
name, the emperor's name everywhere ; the whole of the grand empire 
appeared before him; he felt as if a tide were swelling and rising 
within him; it seemed to him at moments that his father was passing 
by him like a breath, and whispering in his ear; gradually he grew 
wandering; he thought he heard the drums, the cannon, the trumpets, 
the measured tread of the battalions, the dull and distant gallop of the 
cavalry; from time to time he lifted his eyes to the sky and saw the 
colossal constellations shining in the limitless abysses, then they fell 

Marius 235 

back upon the book, and saw there other colossal things moving about 
confusedly. His heart was full. He was transported, trembling, 
breathless; suddenly, without himself knowing what moved him, or 
what he was obeying, he arose, stretched his arms out of the window, 
gazed fixedly into the gloom, the silence, the darkling infinite, the 
eternal immensity, and cried : Vive Temper eur ! 

When, in this mysterious labour, he had entirely cast off his old 
Bourbon and ultra skin, when he had shed the aristocrat, the Jacobite, 
and the royalist, when he was fully revolutionary, thoroughly demo- 
cratic, and almost republican, he went to an engraver on the Quai des 
Orfevres, and ordered a hundred cards bearing this name: Baron 
Marius Pontmercy. 

This was but a very logical consequence of the change which had 
taken place in him, a change in which everything gravitated about his 

However, as he knew nobody, and could not leave his cards at any- 
body's door, he put them in his pocket. 

Through affection and veneration for his father, Marius had almost 
reached aversion for his grandfather. 

!N'othing of this, however, as we have said, was betrayed externally. 
Only he was more and more frigid ; laconic at meals, and scarcely ever 
in the house. When his aunt scolded him for it, he was very mild, 
and gave as an excuse his studies, courts, examinations, dissertations, 
etc. The grandfather did not change his infallible diagnosis: "In 
love ? I understand it." 

Marius was absent for a while from time to time. 

"Where can he go to ?" asked his aunt. 

On one of these journeys, which were always very short, he went 
to Montfermeil in obedience to the injunction which his father had 
left him, and sought for the former sergeant of Waterloo, the inn- 
keeper Thenardier. Thenardier had failed, the inn was closed, and 
nobody knew what had become of him. While making these researches, 
Marius was away from the house four days. 

"Decidedly," said the grandfather, "he is going astray." 

They thought they noticed that he wore something, upon his breast 
and under his shirt, hung from his neck by a black ribbon. 

236 Les Miserables 


One morning, Mile. Gillenormand the elder had retired to her room 
as much excited as her placidity allowed. Marius had asked his 
grandfather again for permission to make a short journey, adding that 
he intended to set out that evening. ^^Go !'' the grandfather had 
answered, and M. Gillenormand had added aside, lifting his eyebrows 
to the top of his forehead : "He is getting to be an old offender.'' 

Marius, on that evening which followed, mounted the diligence. 
At daybreak, the driver of the diligence shouted : "Vernon ! Vernon 
relay! passengers for Vernon?" At this moment a pair of black 
pantaloons getting down from the imperiale, appeared before the 
window of the coupe. It was Marius. A little peasant girl, beside 
the coach, among the horses and postillions, was offering flowers to 
the passengers. "Flowers for your ladies," cried she. Marius ap- 
proached her and bought the most beautiful flowers in her basket. 
Arriving at the church, he did not go in, but went behind the building. 
He disappeared at the corner of one of the buttresses of the apsis. 
There, his face hid in his hands, he knelt in the grass, upon a grave. 
He had scattered his bouquet. At the end of the grave, at an eleva- 
tion which marked the head, there was a black wooden cross, with this 
name in white letters : COLONEL BARON POJSTTMEECY. 


It was here that Marius had come the first time that he absented him- 
self from Paris. It was here that he returned every time that M. Gil- 
lenormand said : he sleeps out. 

Marius returned from Vernon early in the morning of the third 
day, was set down at his grandfather's, and, fatigued by the two nights 
passed in the diligence, feeling the need of making up for his lack of 
sleep by an hour at the swimming school, ran quickly up to his room, 
took only time enough to lay off his travelling coat and the black 
ribbon which he wore about his neck, and went away to the bath. 

M. Gillenormand, who had risen early like all old persons who are in 
good health, had heard him come in, and hastened as fast as he could 

Marius 237 

with his old legs, to climb to the top of the stairs where Marius' room 
was, that he might embrace him, question him while embracing him, 
and find out something about where he came from. 

But the youth had taken less time to go down than the octogenarian 
to go up, and when Grandfather Gillenormand entered the garret room, 
Marius was no longer there. 

The bed was not disturbed, and upon the bed were displayed with- 
out distrust the coat and the black ribbon. 

"I like that better," said M. Gillenormand. 

And a moment afterwards he entered the parlour where Mademoiselle 
Gillenormand the elder was already seated, embroidering her cab 

The entrance was triumphal. 

M. Gillenormand held in one hand the coat and in the other the 
neck ribbon, and cried: 

"Victory! We are going to penetrate the mystery! we shall know 
the end of the end, we shall feel of the libertinism of our trickster! 
here we are with the romance even. I have the portrait!" 

In fact, a black shagreen box, much like a medallion, was fastened 
to the ribbon. 

The old man took this box and looked at it some time without 
opening it, with that air of desire, ravishment, and anger, with which 
a poor, hungry devil sees an excellent dinner pass under his nose, when 
it is not for him. 

"For it is evidently a portrait. I know all about that. This is 
worn tenderly upon the heart. What fools they are! Some abomin- 
able quean, enough to make one shudder probably ! Young folks have 
such bad taste in these days !" 

"Let us see, father," said the old maid. 

The box opened by pressing a spring. They found nothing in it 
but a piece of paper carefully folded. 

''From the same io the same/' said M. Gillenormand, bursting with 
laughter. "I know what that is. A love-letter!" 

"Ah ! then let us read it !" said the aunt. 

And she put on her spectacles. They unfolded the paper and read this : 

"For my son, — The emperor made me a baron upon the battlefield of 

238 Les Miserables 

Waterloo. Since the restoration contests this title which I have bought 
with my blood, my son will take it and bear it. I need not say that he 
will be worthy of iV 

The feelings of the father and daughter cannot be described. They 
felt chilled as by the breath of a death's head. They did not exchange 
a word. M. Gillenormand, however, said in a low voice, and as if 
talking to himself: 

"It is the handwriting of that sabrer." 
The aunt examined the paper, turned it on all sides, then put it back 
in the box. 

Just at that moment, a little oblong package, wrapped in blue paper, 
fell from a pocket of the coat. Mademoiselle Gillenormand picked 
it up and unfolded the blue paper. It was Marius' hundred cards. 
She passed one of then to M. Gillenormand, who read : Baron Marius 

The old man rang. IsTicolette came. M. Gillenormand took the 
ribbon, the box, and the coat, threw all on the floor in the middle of 
the parlour, and said: 

"Take away those things." 

A full hour passed in complete silence. The old man and the old 
maid sat with their backs turned to one another, and were probably, 
each on their side, thinking over the same things. At the end of 
that hour, aunt Gillenormand said: 


A few minutes afterwards, JVCarius made his appearance. He came 
in. Even before crossing the threshold of the parlour, he perceived his 
grandfather holding one of his cards in his hand, who, on seeing him, 
exclaimed with his crushing air of sneering, bourgeois superiority: 

"Stop ! stop ! stop ! stop ! stop ! you are a baron now. I present you 
my compliments. What does this mean?" 

Marius coloured slightly, and answered: 

"It means that I am my father's son." 

M. Gillenormand checked his laugh, and said harshly: 

"Your father ; I am your father." 

"My father," resumed Marius with downcast eyes and stern man- 
ner, "was a humble and heroic man, who served the Republic and 

Marius 239 

France gloriously, who was great in the greatest history that men 
have ever made, who lived a quarter of a century in the camp, hy day 
under grape and under balls, by night in the snow, in the mud, and in 
the rain, who captured colours, who received twenty wounds, who died 
forgotten and abandoned, and who had but one fault; that was in 
loving too dearly two ingrates, his country and me." 

This was more than M. Gillenormand could listen to. At the word. 
Republic^ he rose, or rather, sprang to his feet. Every one of the 
words which Marius had pronounced, had produced the effect upon the 
old royalist's face, of a blast from a bellows upon a burning coal. From 
dark he had become red, from red purple, and from purple glowing. 

^'Marius!" exclaimed he, "abominable child! I don't know what 
your father was ! I don't want to know ! I know nothing about him 
and I don't know him! but what I do know is, that there was never 
anything but miserable wretches among all that rabble ! that they were 
all beggars, assassins, red caps, thieves! I say all! I say all! I 
know nobody! I say all! do you hear, Marius? Look you, indeed, 
you are as much a baron as my slipper! they were all bandits who 
served Eobespierre ! all brigands who served B-u-o-naparte ! all traitors 
who betrayed, betrayed, betrayed! their legitimate king! all cowards 
who ran from the Prussians and English at Waterloo ! That is what 
I know. If your father is among them I don't know him, I am sorry 
for it, so much the worse, your servant !" 

In his turn, Marius now became the coal, and M. Gillenormand 
the bellows. Marius shuddered in every limb, he knew not what to do, 
his head burned. He was the priest who sees all his wafers thrown 
to the winds, the fakir who sees a passer-by spit upon his idol. He 
could not allow such things to be said before him unanswered. But 
what could he do? His father had been trodden under foot and 
stamped upon in his presence, but by whom? by his grandfather. 
How should he avenge the one without outraging the other? It was 
impossible for him to insult his grandfather, and it was equally im- 
possible for him not to avenge his father. On one hand a sacred tomb, 
on the other white hairs. He was for a few moments dizzy and stag- 
gering with all this whirlwind in his head; then he raised his eyes, 
looked straight at his grandfather, and cried in a thundering voice: 

24^ Les Miserables 

"Down with the Bourbons, and that great hog Louis XVIII. V^ 
Louis XVIII. had been dead for four years ; but it was all the same 
to him. 

The old man, scarlet as he was, suddenly became whiter than his 
hair. He turned towards a bust of the Duke de Berry which stood 
upon the mantle, and bowed to it profoundly with a sort of peculiar 
majesty. Then he walked twice, slowly and in silence, from the fire- 
place to the window and from the window to the fireplace, traversing 
the whole length of the room and making the floor crack as if an image 
of stone were walking over it. The second time, he bent towards his 
daughter, who was enduring the shock with the stupor of an aged sheep, 
and said to her with a smile that was almost calm : 

"A baron like Monsieur and a bourgeois like me cannot remain 
under the same roof." 

And all at once straightening up, pallid, trembling, terrible, his fore- 
head swelling with the fearful radiance of anger, he stretched his arm 
towards Marius and cried to him: 
"Be off." 

Marius left the house. 

The next day, M. Gillenormand said to his daughter: 
"You. will send sixty pistoles every six months to this blood-drinker, 
and never speak of him to me again." 

Having an immense residuum of fury to expend, and not knowing 
what to do with it, he spoke to his daughter with coldness for more 
than three months. 

Marius, for his part, departed in indignation. A circumstance, 
which we must mention, had aggravated his exasperation still more. 
There are always such little fatalities complicating domestic dramas. 
Feelings are embittered by them, although in reality the faults are 
none the greater. In hurriedly carrying away, at the old man's com- 
mand, Marius' "things" to his room, ]!^icolette had, without perceiving 
it, dropped, probably on the garret stairs, which were dark, the black 
shagreen medallion which contained the paper written by the colonel. 
Neither the paper nor the medallion could be found. Marius was con- 
vinced that "Monsieur Gillenormand" — from that day forth he never 
named him othewise — ^had thrown "his father's will" into the fire. 
He knew by heart the few lines written by the colonel, and consequently 

Marius 241 

nothing was lost. But the paper, the writing, that sacred relic, all 
that was his heart itself. What had been done with it ? 

Marius went away without saying where he was going, and without 
knowing where he was going, with thirty francs, his watch, and a few 
clothes in a carpet bag. He hired a cabriolet by the hour, jumped in, 
and drove at random towards the Latin quarter. 

What was Marius to do ? 



At that period, apparently indifferent, something of a revolutionary 
thrill was vaguely felt. Whispers coming from the depths of '89 and 
of '92 were in the air. Young Paris was, excuse the expression, in the 
process of moulting. People were transformed almost without sus- 
pecting it, by the very movement of the time. The hand which moves 
over the dial moves also among souls. Each one took the step forward 
which was before him. Royalists became liberals, liberals became 

It was like a rising tide, complicated by a thousand ebbs; the 
peculiarity of the ebb is to make mixtures; thence very singular com- 
binations of ideas; men worshipped at the same time Napoleon and 
liberty. We are now writing history. These were the mirages of 
that day. Opinions pass through phases. Voltairian royalism, a 
grotesque variety, had a fellow not less strange, Bonapartist liberalism. 

Other groups of minds were more serious. They fathomed princi- 
ple ; they attached themselves to right. They longed for the absolute, 
they caught glimpses of the infinite realisations; the absolute, by its 
very rigidity, pushes the mind towards the boundless, and makes it 
float in the illimitable. There is nothing like dream to create the 
future. Utopia to-day, flesh and blood to-morrow. 

Advanced opinions had double foundations. The appearance of 
mystery threatened "the established orders of things," which was sullen 
and suspicious — a sign in the highest degree revolutionary. The 
reservations of power meet the reservations of the people in the sap. 

242 Les Miserables 

The incubation of insurrections replies to the plotting of coups d'etat. 

At that time there were not yet in France any of those underlying 
organisations like the German Tugendbund and the Italian Carbonari ; 
but here and there obscure excavations were branching out. La 
Cougourde was assuming form at Aix; there was in Paris, among 
other affiliations of this kind, the Society of the Friends of the ABC. 

Who were the Friends of the ABC? A society having as its aim, 
in appearance, the education of children; in reality, the elevation of 

They declared themselves the Friends of the A B C.^ The ahaisse 
[the abased] were the people. They wished to raise them up. A pun 
at which you should not laugh. 

The Friends of the ABC were not numerous, it was a secret society 
in the embryonic state ; we should almost say a coterie, if coteries pro- 
duced heroes. They met in Paris, at two places, near the Halles, in 
a wine shop called Corinthe, which will be referred to hereafter, and 
near the Pantheon, in a little coffee-house on the Place Saint Michel, 
called Le Cafe Musain, now torn down; the first of these two places 
of rendezvous was near the working-men, the second near the students. 

The ordinary conventicles of the Friends of the ABC were held 
in a back room of the Cafe Musain. 

This room, quite distant from the cafe, with which it communicated 
by a very long passage, had two windows, and an exit by a private 
stairway upon the little Eue des Gres. They smoked, drank, played, 
and laughed there. They talked very loud about everything, and in 
whispers about something else. On the wall was nailed, an indication 
sufficient to awaken the suspicion of a police officer, an old map of 
France under the republic. 

Most of the Friends of the A Bi C were students, in thorough under- 
standing with a few working-men. The names of the principal are as 
follows. They belong to a certain extent to history: Enjolras, 
Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Lesgle or 
Laigle, Joly, Grataire. 

These young men constituted a sort of family among themselves, by 
force of friendship. All except Laigle were from the South. 

"^ A B C in French, is pronounced ah-bay-say, exactly like the French word, 

Marius 243 

This was a remarkable group. Enjolras, whom we have named 
first, was an only son and was rich. Besides Enjolras who represented 
the logic of the revolution, Combeferre represented its philosophy. 
Between the logic of the revolution and its philosophy, there is this 
difference — that its logic could conclude with war, while its philoso- 
phy could only end in peace. Combeferre completed and corrected 
Enjolras. He was lower and broader. His desire was to instil into 
all minds the broad principles of general ideas; he said: ^^Kevolution, 
but civilisation;" and about the steep mountain he spread the vast 
blue horizon. Hence, in all Combeferre's views, there was something 
attainable and practicable. Jean Prouvaire was yet a shade more sub- 
dued than Combeferre. Eeuilly was a fan-maker, an orphan, who 
with difficulty earned three francs a day, and who had but one thought, 
to deliver the world. Courfeyrac had a father whose name was M. 
Courfeyrac. One of the false ideas of the restoration in point of 
aristocracy and nobility was its faith in the particle. 

Enjolras was the chief, Combeferre was the guide, Courfeyrac was 
the centre. The others gave more light, he gave more heat ; the truth 
is, that he had all the qualities of a centre, roundness and radiance. 
Bahorel had figured in the bloody tumult of June, 1822, on the occa- 
sion of the burial of young Lallemand. The bald member of the club 
was son of Lesgle, or Legle, and signed his name Legle (de Meaux). 
His comrades, for the sake of brevity, called him Bossuet. Bossuet 
was slowly making his way towards the legal profession ; he was doing 
his law, in the manner of Bahorel. Bossuet had never much domicile, 
sometimes none at all. He lodged sometimes with one, sometimes with 
another, oftenest with Joly. Joly was studying medicine. He was 
two years younger than Bossuet. 

All these young men, diverse as they were, and of whom, as a whole, 
we ought only to speak seriously, had the same religion: Progress. 
All were legitimate sons of the French Eevolution. 

Among all these passionate hearts and all these undoubting minds 
there was one sceptic. How did he happen to be there ? from juxta- 
position. The name of this sceptic was Grantaire, and he usually 
signed with this rebus : R (grand R, great R). 

All these words ; rights of the people, rights of man, social contract, 
French Revolution, republic, democracy, humanity, civilisation, re- 

244 Les Miserables 

ligion, progress, were to Grantaire, very nearly meaningless. He 
smiled at them. Scepticism, that caries of the intellect, had not left 
one entire idea in his mind. He lived in irony. This was his axiom : 
There is only one certainty, my full glass. 

Still, this sceptic had a fanaticism. This fanaticism was neither an 
idea, nor a dogma, nor an art, nor a science; it was a man: Enjolras. 
Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras. To whom did this 
anarchical doubter ally himself in this phalanx of absolute minds ? To 
the most absolute. In what way did Enjolras subjugate him? By 
ideas ? 'No. By character. A phenomenon often seen. A sceptic 
adhering to a believer ; that is as simple as the law of the complemen- 
tary colours. What we lack attracts us. Xobody loves the light like 
the blind man. Grantaire, a true satellite of Enjolras, lived in this 
circle of young people ; he dwelt in it ; he took pleasure only in it ; he 
followed them everywhere. His delight was to see these forms coming 
and going in the fumes of the wine. He was tolerated for his good- 
humour. Enjolras, being a believer, disdained this sceptic, and being 


sober, scorned this drunkard. He granted him a little haughty pity. 
Grantaire was an unaccepted Pylades. Always rudely treated by 
Enjolras, harshly repelled, rejected, yet returning, he said of Enjolras : 
"What a fine statute!" It was among these men that Marius lived in 
Paris, having installed himself in a room at the Hotel de la Porte 
Sainte Jacques, side by side with Courfeyrac. 


One morning, Courfeyrac abruptly put this question to Marius. 

"By the way, have you any political opinions ?" 

"What do you mean ?'' said Marius, almost offended at the question. 

"What are you ?" 

"Bonapartist democrat." 

"Grey shade of quiet mouse colour," said Courfeyrac. 

The next day, Courfeyrac introduced Marius to the Cafe Musain. 
Then he whispered in his ear with a smile: "I must give you your 
admission into the revolution." And he took him into the room of the 
Friends of the ABC. He presented him to the other members, say- 

Marius 245 

ing in an undertone this simple word which Marius did not under- 
stand: "A pupil." 

Marius had fallen into a mental wasps' nest. Still, although silent 
and serious, he was not the less winged, nor the less armed. 

Marius, up to this time solitary and inclined to soliloquy and privacy 
by habit and by taste, was a little bewildered at this flock of young 
men about him. All these different progressives attacked him at once, 
and perplexed him. The tumultuous sweep and sway of all these 
minds at liberty and at work set his ideas in a whirl. Sometimes, in 
the confusion, they went so far from him that he had some difficulty 
in finding them again. He heard talk of philosophy, of literature, of 
art, of history, of religion, in a style he had not looked for. He caught 
glimpses of strange appearances; and, as he did not bring them into 
perspective, he was not sure that it was not a chaos that he saw. On 
abandoning his grandfather's opinions for his father's, he had thought 
himself settled; he now suspected, with anxiety, and without daring 
to confess it to himself, that he was not. The angle under which he 
saw all things was beginning to change anew. A certain oscillation 
shook the whole horizon of his brain. A strange internal moving-day. 
He almost suffered from it. 

It seemed that there were to these young men no "sacred things." 
Marius heard, upon every subject, a singular language annoying to his 
still timid mind. 

In this trouble in which his mind was plunged he scarcely gave a 
thought to certain serious phases of existence. The realities of life 
do not allow themselves to be forgotten. They came and jogged his 
memory sharply. 

One morning, the keeper of the house entered Marius' room, and 
said to him: 

"I am in need of money." 

"Ask Courfeyrac to come and speak with me," said Marius. 

Courfeyrac came; the host left them. Marius related to him what 
he had not thought of telling him before, that he was, so to speak, 
alone in the world, without any relatives. 

"What are you going to become ?" said Courfeyrac. 

"I have no idea," answered Marius. 

246 Les Miserables 

"What are you going to do ? 

"I have no idea.^' 

"Have you any money V^ 

"Fifteen francs." 

"Do you v^ish me to lend you some?" 


"Have you any clothes?" 

"What you see." 

"Have you any jewellery ?" 

"A watch." 

"A silver one ?" 

"Gold, here it is." 

"I know a dealer in clothing who will take your overcoat and one 
pair of trousers." 

"That is good." 

"You will then have but one pair of trousers, one waistcoat, one hat, 
and one coat." 

"And my boots." 

"What ? you will not go barefoot ? what opulence !" 

"That will be enough." 

"I know a watchmaker who will buy your watch." 

"That is good." 

"No, it is not good. What will you do afterwards?" 

"What I must. Anything honourable at least." 

"Do you know English?" 


"Do you know German?" 


"That is bad." 


"Because a friend of mine, a bookseller, is making a sort of en- 
cyclopaedia, for which you could have translated German or English, 
articles. It is poor pay, but it gives a living." 

"I will learn English and German." 

"And in the meantime ?" 

"In the meantime I will eat my coats and my watch." 

The clothes dealer was sent for. He gave twenty francs for the 

Marius 247 

clothes. They went to the watchmaker. He gave forty-five francs 
for the watch. 

"That is not bad," said Marius to Courfeyrac, on returning to the 
house; "with my fifteen francs, this makes eighty francs." 

"The hotel bill ?" observed Courfeyrac. 

"Ah ! I forgot," said Marius. 

The host presented his bill, which must be paid on the spot. It 
amounted to seventy francs. 

^^I have ten francs left," said Marius. 

^'The devil," said Courfeyrac, "you will have ^ye francs to eat 
while you are learning English, and ^Ye francs while you are learning 
German. That will be swallowing a language very rapidly or a hun- 
dred-sous piece very slowly." 

Meanwhile Aunt Gillenormaiid, who was really a kind person on sad 
occasions, had finally unearthed Marius' lodgings. 

One morning when Marius came home from the school, he found a 
letter from his aunt, and the sixty pistoles, that is to say, six hundred 
francs in gold, in a sealed box. 

Marius sent the thirty louis back to his aunt, with a respectful letter, 
in which he told her that he had the means of living, and that he could 
provide henceforth for all his necessities. At that time he had three 
francs left. 

The aunt did not inform the grandfather of this refusal, lest she 
should exasperate him. Indeed, had he not said: "Let nobody ever 
speak to me of this blood-drinker ?" 

Marius left the Porte Sainte Jacques Hotel, unwilling to contract 



Life became stern to Marius. To eat his coats and his watch was 
nothing. He chewed that inexpressible thing which is called the cud 
of bitterness. A horrible thing, which includes days without bread, 
nights without sleep, evenings without a candle, a hearth without a 

248 Les Miserables 

fire, weeks without labour, a future without hope, a coat out at the 
elbows, an old hat which makes young girls laugh, the door found shut 
against you at night because you have not paid your rent, the insolence 
of the porter and the landlord, the jibes of neighbours, humiliations, 
self-respect outraged, any drudgery acceptable, disgust, bitterness, 
prostration — Marius learned how one swallows down all these things, 
and how they are often the only things that one has to swallow. At 
that period of existence, when man has need of pride, because he has 
need of love, he felt that he was mocked at because he was badly 
dressed, and ridiculed because he was poor. At the age when youth 
swells the heart with an imperial pride, he more than once dropped his 
eyes upon his worn-out boots, and experienced the undeserved shame 
and the poignant blushes of misery. Wonderful and terrible trial, 
from which the feeble come out infamous, from which the strong come 
out sublime. Crucible into which destiny casts a man whenever she 
desires a scoundrel or a demi-god. 

For there are many great deeds done in the small struggles of life. 
There is a determined though unseen bravery, which defends itself foot 
to foot in the darkness against the fatal invasions of necessity and of 
baseness. ISToble and mysterious triumphs which no eye sees, which 
no renown rewards, which no flourish of triumph salutes. Life, mis- 
fortune, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battle-fields which have 
their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious 

There was a period in Marius' life when he swept his ov^n hall, 
when he bought a pennyworth of Brie cheese at the market-woman's, 
when he waited for nightfall to make his way to the baker's and buy 
a loaf of bread, which he carried furtively to his garret, as if he had 
stolen it. Sometimes there was seen to glide into the corner meat- 
market, in the midst of the jeering cooks who elbowed him, an awk- 
ward young man, with books under his arm, who had a timid and 
frightened appearance, and who, as he entered, took off his hat from 
his forehead, which was dripping with sweat, made a low bow to the 
astonished butcher, another bow to the butcher's boy, asked for a mut- 
ton cutlet, paid six or seven sous for it, wrapped it up in paper, put 
it under his arm between two books, and went away. It was Marius. 
On this cutlet, which he cooked himself, he lived three days. 

Marius 249 

The first day he ate the meat; the second day he ate the fat; the 
third day he gnawed the bone. On several occasions, Aunt Gillenor- 
mand made overtures, and sent him the sixty pistoles. Marius always 
sent them back, saying that he had no need of anything. 

He was still in mourning for his father, he had never left off black 
clothes. His clothes left him, however. A day came, at last, when he 
had no coat. His trousers were going also. What was to be done? 
Courfeyrac, for whom he also had done some good turns, gave him an 
old coat. For thirty sous, Marius had it turned by some porter or 
other, and it was a new coat. But this coat was green. Then Marius 
did not go out till after nightfall. That made his coat black. De- 
siring always to be in mourning, he clothed himself with night. 

Through all this, he procured admission to the bar. He was re- 
puted to occupy Courfeyrac's room, which was decent, and where a 
certain number of law books, supported and filled out by some odd 
volumes of novels, made up the library required by the rules. 

When Marius had become a lawyer, he informed his grandfather 
of it, in a letter which was frigid, but full of submission and respect, 
M. Gillenormand took the letter with trembling hands, read it, and 
threw it, torn in pieces, into the basket. Two or three days afterwards. 
Mademoiselle Gillenormand overheard her father, who was alone in 
his room, talking aloud. This was always the case when he was much 
excited. She listened: the old man said: "If you were not a fool, 
you would know that a man cannot be a baron and a Isiwyer at the same 


It is with misery as with everything else. It gradually becomes en- 
durable. It ends by taking form and becoming fixed. You vegetate, 
that is to say, you develop in some wretched fashion, but sufficient for 
existence. This is the way in which Marius Pontmercy's life was 

He had got out of the narrowest place; the pass widened a little 
before him. By dint of hard work, courage, perseverance, and will, he 
had succeeded in earning by his labour about seven hundred francs a 
year. He had learned German and English; thanks to Courfeyrac, 
who introduced him to his friend the publisher, Marius filled, in the 

250 Les Miserables 

literary department of the bookhouse, the useful role of utility. He 
made out prospectuses, translated from the journals, annotated repub- 
lications, compiled biographies, etc., net result, year in and year out, 
seven hundred francs. He lived on this. How? Not badly. We 
are going to tell. 

Marius occupied, at an annual rent of thirty francs, a wretched little 
room in the Gorbeau tenement, with no fireplace, called a cabinet, in 
which there was no more furniture than was indispensable. The 
furniture was his own. He gave three francs a month to the old 
woman who had charge of the building, for sweeping his room and 
bringing him every morning a little warm water, a fresh egg, and a 
penny loaf of bread. On this loaf and this egg he breakfasted. His 
breakfast varied from two or four sous, as eggs were cheap or dear. 
At six o'clock in the evening he went down into the Rue Saint Jacques, 
to dine at Rousseau's, opposite Basset's, the print dealer's, at the corner 
of the Rue des Mathurins. He ate no soup. He took a sixpenny 
plate of meat, a threepenny half-plate of vegetables, and a threepenny 
dessert. For three sous, as much bread as he liked. As for wine, he 
drank water. On paying at the counter, where Madame Rousseau 
was seated majestically, still plump and fresh also in those days, he 
gave a sou to the waiter, and Madame Rousseau gave him a smile. 
Then he went away. For sixteen sous, he had a smile and a dinner. 

This Rousseau restaurant, where so few bottles and so many pitchers 
were emptied, was rather an appeasant than a restorant. It is not kept 
now. The master had a fine title ; he was called Rousseau the Aquatic. 

Thus, breakfast four sous, dinner sixteen sous, his food cost him 
twenty sous a day, which was three hundred and sixty-five francs a 
year. Add the thirty francs for his lodging, and the thirty-six francs 
to the old woman, and a few other trifling expenses, and for four hun- 
dred and fifty francs, Marius was fed, lodged, and waited upon. His 
clothes cost him a hundred francs, his linen fifty francs, his washing 
fifty francs; the whole did not exceed six hundred and fifty francs. 
This left him fifty francs. He was rich. He occasionally lent ten 
francs to a friend. Courfeyrac borrowed sixty francs of him once. 
As for fire, having no fireplace, Marius had "simplified" it. 

M^arius always had two complete suits, one old "for every day," the 
other quite new, for special occasions. Both were black. He had 

Marius 251 

but three shirts, one he had on, another in the drawer, the third at the 
washerwoman's. He renewed them as they wore out. They were 
usually ragged, so he buttoned his coat to his chin. 

For Marius to arrive at this flourishing condition had required 
years. Hard years, and difficult ones; those to get through, these to 
climb. Marius had never given up for a single day. He had under- 
gone everything, in the shape of privation; he had done everything, 
except get into debt. He gave himself this credit, that he had never 
owed a sou to anybody. For him a debt was the beginning of slavery. 
He felt even that a creditor is worse than a master ; for a master owns 
only your person, a creditor owns your dignity and can belabour that. 
Eather than borrow, he did not eat. He had had many days of fast- 
ing. Feeling that all extremes meet, and that if we do not take care, 
abasement of fortune may lead to baseness of soul, he watched jealously 
over his pride. Such a habit or such a carriage as, in any other con- 
dition, would have appeared deferential, seemed humiliating, and he 
braced himself against it. He risked nothing, not wishing to take a 
backward step. He had a kind of stern blush upon his face. He was 
timid even to rudeness. 

In all his trials he felt encouraged and sometimes even upborne by 
a secret force within. The soul helps the body, and at certain mo- 
ments- uplifts it. It is the only bird which sustains its cage. 

By the side of his father's name, another name was engraven upon 
Marius' heart, the name of Thenardier. Marius, in his enthusiastic 
yet serious nature, surrounded with a sort of halo the man to whom, 
as he thought, he owed his father's life, that brave sergeant who had 
saved the colonel in the midst of the balls and bullets of Waterloo. 
He never separated the memory of this man from the memory of his 
father, and he associated them in his veneration. It was a sort of 
worship with two steps, the high altar for the colonel, the low one for 
Thenardier. ^^What," thought he, "when my father lay dying on the 
field of battle, Thenardier could find him through the smoke and the 
grape, and bring him off on his shoulders, and yet he owed him noth- 
ing; while I, who owe so much to Thenardier, I cannot reach him. 
Oh ! I will find him !" Indeed, to find Thenardier, Marius would have 
given one of his arms, and all his blood. To see Thenardier, to render 
some service to Thenardier, to say to him — "You do not know me. 

252 Les Miserables 

but I do know you. Here I am, dispose of me !" This was the sweet- 
est and most magnificent dream of Marius. 


Mabius was now twenty years old. It was three years since he had 
left his grandfather. They remained on the same terms on both sides, 
without attempting a reconciliation, and without seeking to meet. 
And, indeed, what was the use of meeting ? to come in conflict ? 
Which would have had the best of it ? Marius was a vase of brass, 
but M. Gillenormand was an iron pot. 

To tell the truth, Marius was mistaken as to his grandfather's heart. 
He imagined that M. Gillenormand had never loved him, and that this 
crusty and harsh yet smiling old man, who swore, screamed, stormed, 
and lifted his cane, felt for him at most only the affection, at once 
slight and severe, of the old men of comedy. Marius was deceived. 
There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grand- 
father who does not adore his grandson. In reality, we have said, M. 
Gillenormand worshipped Marius. He worshipped him in his own 
way, with an accompaniment of cuffs, and even of blows; but, when 
the child was gone, he felt a dark void in his heart; he ordered that 
nobody should speak of him again, and regretted that he was so well 
obeyed. Sometimes it happened that some blundering, officious body 
would speak to him of Marius, and ask : "What is your grandson do- 
ing, or what has become of him?'' The old bourgeois would answer, 
with a sigh, if he was too sad, or giving his ruffle a tap, if he wished to 
seem gay: "Monsieur the Baron Pontmercy is pettifogging in some 

While the old man was regretting, Marius was rejoicing. As with 
all good hearts, suffering had taken away his bitterness. He thought 
of M. Gillenormand only with kindness, but he had determined to re- 
ceive nothing more from the man who had been cruel to his father. 
This was now the softened translation of his first indignation. More- 
over, he was happy in having suffered, and in suffering still. It was 
for his father. His hard life satisfied him, and pleased him. He 
said to himself with a sort of pleasure that — it was the very least; that 
it was — an expiation; that — save for this, he would have been punished 
otherwise and later, for his unnatural indifference towards his father, 

Marius 253 

and towards such a father ; — that it would not have been just that his 
father should have had all the suffering, and himself none; — what 
were his efforts and his privation, moreover, compared with the heroic 
life of the colonel ? that finally his only way of drawing near his father, 
and becoming like him, was to be valiant against indigence as he had 
been brave against the enemy; and that this was doubtless what the 
colonel meant by the words; ''He will he worthy of it/' Words 
which Marius continued to bear, not upon his breast, the colonel's paper 
having disappeared, but in his heart. 

Meantime, although he was a lawyer, and whatever Grandfather 
Gillenormand might think, he was not pleading, he was not even petti- 
fogging. Eeverie had turned him away from the law. To consort 
with attorneys, to attend courts, to hunt up cases, was wearisome. 
Why should he do it? He saw no reason for changing his business. 
This cheap and obscure book-making had produced him sure work, 
work with little labour, which was sufficient for him. 

Marius' life was solitary. From his taste for remaining outside of 
everything, and also from having been startled by its excesses, he had 
decided not to enter the group presided over by Enjolras. They had re- 
mained good friends ; they were ready to help one another, if need were, 
in all possible ways ; but nothing more. Marius had two friends, one 
young,. Courfeyrac, and one old, M. Mabeuf. He inclined towards 
the old one. First he was indebted to him for the revolution through 
which he had gone; he was indebted to him for having known and 
loved his father. ''He operated upon me for the cataract/' said he. 
Certainly, this churchwarden had been decisive. 

M. Mabeuf was not, however, on that occasion anything more than 
the calm and passive agent of providence. He had enlightened Marius 
accidentally and without knowing it, as a candle does which somebody 
carries ; he had been the candle and not the somebody. 

As to the interior political revolution in Marius, M. Mabeuf was 
entirely incapable of comprehending it, desiring it, or directing it. 


Marius had a liking for this open-hearted old man, who saw that he 
was being slowly seized by indigence, and who bad come gradually to 

254 Les Miserables 

be astonished at it, without, however, as yet becoming sad. Marius 
met Courfeyrac, and went to see Monsieur Mabeuf. Very rarely, 
however; once or twice a month, at most. 

It was Marius' delight to take long walks alone on the outer boule- 
vards, or in the Champ de Mars, or in the less frequented walks of the 
Luxembourg. He sometimes spent half a day in looking at a vegetable 
garden, at the beds of salad, the fowls on the dung-heap, and the horse 
turning the wheel of the pump. The passers-by looked at him with 
surprise, and some thought that he had a suspicious appearance and an 
ill-omened manner. He was only a poor young man, dreaming with- 
out an object. 

It was in one of these walks that he had discovered the Gorbeau 
tenement, and its isolation and cheapness being an attraction to him, 
he had taken a room in it. He was only known in it by the name of 
Monsieur Marius. 

Towards the middle of this year, 1831, the old woman who waited 
upon Marius told him that his neighbours, the wretched Jondrette 
family, were to be turned into the street. Marius, who passed almost 
all his days out of doors, hardly knew that he had any neighbours. 

"Why are they turned out ?" said he. 

"Because they do not pay their rent ; they owe for two terms." 

"How much is that ?'' 

"Twenty francs," said the old woman. 

Marius had thirty francs in reserve in a drawer. 

"Here," said he, to the old woman, "there are twenty-five francs. 
Pay for these poor people, give them five francs, and do not tell them 
that it is from me." 

BOOK VI— THE co]srju:NrcTio]sr or two stars 

THE nickname: mode of formation of family names 

Marius was now a fine-looking young man, of medium height, with 
heavy jet black hair, a high intelligent brow, large and passionate 
nostrils, a frank and calm expression, and an indescribable something 

Marius 255 

beaming from every feature, which was at onee lofty, thoughtful, and 
innocent. His profile, all the lines of which were rounded, but with- 
out loss of strength, possessed that Germanic gentleness which has made 
its way into French physiognomy through Alsace and Lorraine, and 
that entire absence of angles which rendered the Sicambri so recog- 
nisable among the Romans, and which distinguishes the leonine from 
the aquiline race. He was at that season of life at which the mind of 
men who think, is made up in nearly equal proportions of depth and 
simplicity. In a difficult situation he possessed all the essentials of 
stupidity; another turn of the screw, and he could become sublime. 
His manners were reserved, cold, polished, far from free. But as his 
mouth was very pleasant, his lips the reddest and his teeth the whitest 
in the world, his smile corrected the severity of his physiognomy. At 
certain moments there was a strange contrast between this chaste brow 
and this voluptuous smile. His eye was small, his look great. 

At the time of his most wretched poverty, he noticed that girls 
turned when he passed, and with a deathly feeling in his heart he fled 
or hid himself. He thought they looked at him on account of his old 
clothes, and that they were laughing at him; the truth is, that they 
looked at him because of his graceful appearance, and that they 
dreamed over it. 

For more than a year Marius had noticed in a retired walk of the 
Luxembourg, the walk which borders the parapet of the Pepiniere, a 
man and a girl quite young, nearly always sitting side by side, on the 
same seat, at the most retired end of the walk, near the Rue de POuest. 
Whenever that chance which controls the promenades of men whose 
eye is turned within, led Marius to this walk, and it was almost every 
day, he found this couple there. The man might be sixty years old; 
he seemed sad and serious; his whole person presented the robust but 
wearied appearance of a soldier retired from active service. Had he 
worn a decoration, Marius would have said: it is an old officer. His 
expression was kind, but it did not invite approach, and he never re- 
turned a look. He wore a blue coat and pantaloons, and a broad- 
brimmed hat, which always appeared to be new; a black cravat, and 
Quaker linen, that is to say, brilliantly white, but of coarse texture. 

The first time the young girl that accompanied him sat down on the 
seat which they seemed to have adopted, she looked like a girl of about 

256 Les Miserables 

thirteen or fourteen, puny to the extent of being almost ugly, awkward, 
insignificant, yet promising, perhaps to have rather fine eyes. But 
they were always looking about with a disagreeable assurance. She 
wore the dress, at once aged and childish, peculiar to the convent 
school-girl, an ill-fitting garment of coarse black merino. They ap- 
peared to be father and daughter. 

For two or three days Marius scrutinised this old man, who was not 
yet an aged man, and this little girl, not yet a woman; then he paid 
no more attention to them. For their part they did not even seem to 
see him. They talked with each other peacefully, and with indiffer^ 
ence to all else. The girl chatted incessantly and gaily. The old 
man spoke little, and at times looked upon her with an unutterable ex- 
pression of fatherliness. 

Marius had acquired a sort of mechanical habit of promenading on 
this walk. He always found them there. 

It was usually thus: 

Marius would generally reach the walk at the end opposite their 
seat, promenade the whole length of it, passing before them, then re- 
turn to the end by which he entered, and so on. He performed this 
turn ^ve or six times in his promenade, and this promenade ^ve or 
six tinaes a week, but they and he had never come to exchange 
bows. This man and this young girl, though they appeared, and per- 
haps because they appeared, to avoid observation, had naturally excited 
the attention of the ^ye or six students, who, from time to time, took 
their promenades along the Pepiniere ; the studious after their lecture, 
the others after their game of billiards. Courfeyrac, who belonged to 
the latter, had noticed them at some time or other, but finding the girl 
homely, had very quickly and carefully avoided them. He had fled 
like a Parthian, launching a nickname behind him. Struck especially 
by the dress of the little girl and the hair of the old man, he had named 
the daughter Mademoiselle Lanoire ^Black^ and the father Monsieur 
Lehlanc \_White'] ; and so, as nobody knew them otherwise, in the ab- 
sence of a name, this surname had become fixed. The students said: 
"Ah ! Monsieur Leblanc is at his seat !" and Marius, like the rest, had 
found it convenient to call this unknown gentleman M. Leblanc. 

We shall do as they did, and say M. Leblanc for the convenience of 
this story. 

Marius 257 

Marius saw them thus nearly every day at the same hour during the 
first year. He found the man very much to his liking, but the girl 
rather disagreeable. 


The second year, at the precise point of this history to which the 
reader has arrived, it so happened that Marius broke off this habit of 
going to the Luxembourg, without really knowing why himself, and 
there were nearly six months during which he did not set foot in his 
walk. At last he went back there again one day ; it was a serene sum- 
mer morning, Marius was as happy as one always is when the weather 
is fine. It seemed to him as if he had in his heart all the bird songs 
which he heard, and all the bits of blue sky which he saw through the 

He went straight to "his walk," and as soon as he reached it, he saw, 
still on the same seat, this well known pair. When he came near them, 
however, he saw that it was indeed the same man, but it seemed to him 
that it was no longer the same girl. The woman whom he now saw 
was a noble, beautiful creature, with all the most bewitching outlines 
of woman, at the precise moment at which they are yet combined with 
all the most charming graces of childhood, — that pure and fleeting mo- 
ment which can only be translated by these two words: sweet fifteen. 
Beautiful chestnut hair, shaded with veins of gold, a brow which 
seemed chiselled marble, cheeks which seemed made of roses, a pale in- 
carnadine, a flushed whiteness, an exquisite mouth, whence came a 
smile like a gleam of sunshine, and a voice like music, a head which 
Raphael would have given to Mary, on a neck which Jean Goujon 
would have given to Venus. And that nothing might be wanting to 
this ravishing form, the nose was not beautiful, it was pretty ; neither 
straight nor curved, neither Italian nor Greek; it was the Parisian 
nose; that is, something sprightly, fine, irregular, and pure, the 
despair of painters and the charm of poets. 

When Marius passed near her, he could not see her eyes, which were 
always cast down. He saw only her long chestnut lashes, eloquent of 
mystery and modesty. 

But that did not prevent the beautiful girl from smiling as she lis- 
tened to the white-haired man who was speaking to her, and nothing 

258 Les Miserables 

was so transporting as this maidenly smile with these downcast eyes. 

At the first instant Marius thought it was another daughter of the 
same man, a sister doubtless of her whom he had seen before. But 
when the invariable habit of his promenade led him for the second time 
near the seat, and he had looked at her attentively, he recognised that 
she was the same. In six months the little girl had become a young 
woman ; that was all. N^othing is more frequent than this phenomenon. 
There is a moment when girls bloom out in a twinkling, and become 
roses all at once. Yesterday we left them children, to-day we find them 

She had not only grown ; she had become idealised. As three April 
days are enough for certain trees to put on a covering of flowers, so 
six months had been enough for her to put on a mantle of beauty. 

And then she was no longer the school-girl with her plush hat, her 
merino dress, her shapeless shoes, and her red hands; taste had come 
to her with beauty. She was a woman well dressed, with a sort of sim- 
ple and rich elegance without any particular style. She wore a dress of 
black damask, a mantle of the same, and a white crape hat. Her 
white gloves showed the delicacy of her hand which played with the 
Chinese ivory handle of her parasol, and her silk boot betrayed the 
smallne^s of her foot. When you passed near her, her whole toilet 
exhaled the penetrating fragrance of youth. 

As to the man, he was still the same. 

The second time that Marius came near her, the young girl raised 
her eyes ; they were of a deep celestial blue, but in this veiled azure was 
nothing yet beyond the look of a child. She looked at Marius with 
indifference, as she would have looked at any little monkey playing 
under the sycamores, or the marble vase which cast its shadow over the 
bench ; and Marius also continued his promenade thinking of something 

He passed four or five times more by the seat where the young girl 
was, without even turning his eyes towards her. 

On the following days he came as usual to the Luxembourg, as 
usual he found "the father and daughter'' there, but he paid no atten- 
tion to them. He thought no more of this girl now that she was 
handsome than he had thought of her when she was homely. He 
passed very near the bench on which she sat^ because that was his habit. 

Marius 269 


One day the air was mild, the Luxembourg was flooded with sunshine 
and shadow, the sky was as clear as if the angels had washed it in the 
morning, the sparrows were twittering in the depths of the chestnut 
trees, Marius had opened his whole soul to nature, he was thinking of 
nothing, he was living and breathing, he passed near this seat, the 
young girl raised her eyes, their glances met. 

But what was there now in the glance of the young girl ? Marius 
could not have told. There was nothing, and there was everything. 
It was a strange flash. 

She cast down her eyes, and he continued on his way. 

At night, on retiring to his garret, Marius cast a look upon his 
dress, and for the first time perceived that he had the slovenliness, the 
indecency, and the unheard-of stupidity, to promenade in the Luxem- 
bourg with his "every day" suit, a hat broken near the band, coarse 
teamsters' boots, black pantaloons shiny at the knees, and a black coat 
threadbare at the elbows. 


The next day, at the usual hour, Marius took from his closet his new 
coat, his new pantaloons, his new hat, and his new boots; he dressed 
himself in this panoply complete, put on his gloves, prodigious 
prodigality, and went to the Luxembourg. 

When he entered the walk he saw M. Leblanc and the young girl at 
the other end "on their seat." He buttoned his coat, stretched it down 
that there might be no wrinkles, noticed with some complaisance the 
lustre of his pantaloons, and marched upon the seat. There was some- 
thing of attack in this march, and certainly a desire of conquest. I 
say, then, he marched upon the seat, as I would say: Hannibal 
marched upon Rome. 

As he drew nearer, his step became slower and slower. At some 
distance from the seat, long before he had reached the end of the walk, 
he stopped, and he did not himself know how it happened, but he 
turned back. He did not even say to himself that he would not go to 

^^^ Les Miserables 

the end. It was doubtful if the young girl could see him so far off, and 
notice his fine appearance in his new suit. However, he held himself 
very straight, so that he might look well, in case anybody who was be- 
hind should happen to notice him. 

He reached the opposite end and then returned, and this time he 
approached a little nearer to the seat. He even came to within about 
three trees of it, but there he felt an indescribable lack of power to go 
further, and he hesitated. He thought he had seen the young girl's 
face bent towards him. Still he made a great and manly effort, con- 
quered his hesitation, and continued his advance. In a few seconds, 
he was passing before the seat, erect and firm, blushing to his ears, 
without daring to cast a look to the right or the left, and with his hand 
in his coat like a statesman. At the moment he passed under the guns 
of the fortress, he felt a frightful palpitation of the heart. She wore, 
as on the previous day, her damask dress and her crape hat. He heard 
the sound of an ineffable voice, which might be "her voice." She was 
talking quietly. She was very pretty. He felt it, though he made no 
effort to see her. 

He passed the seat, went to the end of the walk, which was quite 
near, then turned and passed again before the beautiful girl. This 
time he was very pale. Indeed, he was experiencing nothing that was 
not very" disagreeable. He walked away from the seat and from the 
young girl, and although his back was turned, he imagined that she 
was looking at him, and that made him stumble. 

He made no effort to approach the seat again, he stopped midway of 
the walk, and sat down there — a thing which he never did — casting 
many side glances, and thinking, in the most indistinct depths of his 
mind, that after all it must be difficult for persons whose white hat and 
black dress he admired, to be absolutely insensible to his glossy panta- 
loons and his new coat. 

At the end of a quarter of an hour, he rose, as if to recommence his 
walk towards this seat, which was encircled by a halo. He, however, 
stood silent and motionless. For the first time in fifteen months, he 
said to himself, that this gentleman, who sat there every day with his 
daughter, had undoubtedly noticed him, and probably thought his as- 
siduity very strange. 

Tor the first time, also, he felt a certain irreverence in designating 

Marius 261 

this unknown man, even in the silence of his thought, by the nickname 
of M. Leblanc. 

He remained thus for some minutes with his head down tracing de- 
signs on the ground with a little stick which he had in his hand. 

Then he turned abruptly away from the seat, away from Monsieur 
Leblanc and his daughter, and went home. 

That day he forgot to go to dinner. At eight o'clock in the evening 
he discovered it, and as it was too late to go down to the Rue Saint 
Jacques, "JSTo matter,'' said he, and he ate a piece of bread. 

He did not retire until he had carefully brushed and folded his coat. 


ISText day. Ma'am Bougon, — thus Courfeyrac designated the old 
portress-landlady of the Gorbeau tenement, — Ma'am Bougon — her 
name was in reality Madame Bougon, but this terrible fellow Cour- 
feyrac respected nothing, — Ma'am Bougon was stupefied with astonish- 
ment to see Monsieur Marius go out again with his new coat. 

He went again to the Luxembourg, but did not get beyond his seat 
midway of the walk. He sat down there as on the day previous, gaz- 
ing from a distance and seeing distinctly the white hat, the black dress, 
and especially the bluish light. He did not stir from the seat, and did 
not go home until the gates of the Luxembourg were shut. He did not 
see Monsieur Leblanc and his daughter retire. He concluded from 
that that they left the garden by the gate on the Eue de I'Ouest. Later, 
some weeks afterwards, when he thought of it, he could not remember 
where he had dined that night. 

The next day, for the third time. Ma'am Bougon was thunderstruck. 
Marius went out with his new suit. ^Three days running!" she ex- 

She made an attempt to follow him, but Marius walked briskly and 
with immense strides; it was a hippopotamus undertaking to catch a 
chamois. In two minutes she lost sight of him, and came back out of 
breath, three quarters choked by her asthma, and furious. "The silly 
fellow," she muttered, "to put on his handsome clothes every day and 
make people run like that!" 

Marius had gone to the Luxembourg. 

^^^ Les Miserables 

The young girl was there with Monsieur Leblane. Marius ap- 
proached as near as he could, seeming to be reading a book, but he was 
still very far off, then he returned and sat down on his seat, where he 
spent four hours watching the artless little sparrows as they hopped 
along the walk ; they seemed to him to be mocking him. 

Thus a fortnight rolled away. Marius went to the Luxembourg, no 
longer to promenade, but to sit down, always in the same place, and 
without knowing why. Once there he did not stir. Every morning 
he put on his new suit, not to be conspicuous, and he began again the 
next morning. 

She was indeed of a marvellous beauty. The only remark which 
could be made, that would resemble a criticism, is that the contradic- 
tion between her look, which was sad, and her smile, which was joy- 
ous, gave to her countenance something a little wild, which produced 
this effect, that at certain moments this sweet face became strange 
without ceasing to be charming. 


On one of the last days of the second week, Marius was as usual sitting 
on his seat, holding in his hand an open book of which he had not 
turned a leaf for two hours. Suddenly he trembled. A great event 
was commencing at the end of the walk. Monsieur Leblane and his 
daughter had left their seat, the daughter had taken the arm of the 
father, and they were coming slowly towards the middle of the walk 
where Marius was. Marius closed his book, then he opened it, then 
he made an attempt to read. He trembled. The halo was coming 
straight towards him. "O dear!" thought he, "I shall not have time 
to take an attitude." However, the man with the white hair and the 
young girl were advancing. It seemed to him that it would last a 
century, and that it was only a second. "What are they coming by 
here for ?" he asked himself. "What ! is she going to pass this place ! 
Are her feet to press this ground in this walk, but a step from me?" 
He was overwhelmed, he would gladly have been very handsome, he 
would gladly have worn the cross of the Legion of Honour. He 
heard the gentle and measured sound of their steps approaching. He 
imagined that Monsieur Leblane was hurling angry looks upon him. 

Marius 263 

'*Is he going to speak to me ?" thought he. He bowed his head ; when 
he raised it they were quite near him. The young girl passed, and in 
passing she looked at him. She looked at him steadily, with a sweet 
and thoughtful look which made Marius tremble from head to foot. 
It seemed to him that she reproached him for having been so long with- 
out coming to her, and that she said: ^^It is I who come.'' Marius 
was bewildered by these eyes full of flashing light and fathomless 

He felt as though his brain were on fire. She had come to him, 
what happiness ! And then, how she had looked at him ! She seemed 
more beautiful than she had ever seemed before. 

He followed her with his eyes till she disappeared, then he began to 
walk in the Luxembourg like a madman. It is probable that at times 
he laughed, alone as he was, and spoke aloud. 

He went out of the Luxembourg to find her again in some street. 

He was desperately in love. 

One glance had done all that. 

When the mine is loaded, and the match is ready, nothing is simpler. 
A glance is a spark. 

It was all over with him. Marius loved a woman. His destiny was 
entering upon the unknown. 


A WHOLE month passed during which Marius went every day to the 
Luxembourg. When the hour came, nothing could keep him away. 
"He is out at service/' said Courfeyrac. Marius lived in transports. 
It is certain that the young girl looked at him. 

He finally grew bolder, and approached nearer to the seat. How- 
ever he passed before it no more, obeying at once the instinct of 
timidity and the instinct of prudence, peculiar to lovers. He thought 
it better not to attract the "attention of the father." He formed his 
combinations of stations behind trees and the pedestals of statues with 
consummate art, so as to be seen as much as possible by the young girl 
and as little as possible by the old gentleman. Sometimes he would 
stand for half an hour motionless behind some Leonidas or Spartacus 
with a book in his hand, over which his eyes, timidly raised, were 

264 Les Miserables 

looking for the young girl, while she, for her part, was turning her 
charming profile towards him, suffused with a smile. While yet 
talking in the most natural and quiet way in the world with the white- 
haired man, she rested upon Marius all the dreams of a maidenly and 
passionate eye. 

We must, however, suppose that M. Leblanc perceived something 
of this at last, for often when Marius came, he would rise and begin to 
promenade. He had left their accustomed place, and had taken the 
seat at the other end of the walk, near the Gladiator, as if to see 
whether Marius would follow them. , Marius did not understand it, 
and committed that blunder. ^^The father" began to be less punctual, 
and did not bring "his daughter" every day. Sometimes he came 
alone. Then Marius did not stay. Another blunder. 

Marius took no note of these symptoms. From the phase of timidity 
he had passed, a natural and inevitable progress, to the phase of blind- 
ness. His love grew. He dreamed of her every night. And then 
there came to him a good fortune for which he had not even hoped, 
oil upon the fire, double darkness upon his eyes. One night, at dusk, 
he found on the seat, which "M. Leblanc and his daughter" had just 
left, a handkerchief, a plain handkerchief without embroidery, but 
white, fine, and which appeared to him to exhale ineffable odours. He 
seized it in transport. This handkerchief was marked with the letters 
IT. F. : Marius knew nothing of this beautiful girl, neither her family, 
nor her name, nor her dwelling; these two letters were the first thing 
he had caught of her, adorable initials upon which he began straight- 
way to build his castle. It was evidently her first name. Ursula, 
thought he, what a sweet name ! He kissed the handkerchief, inhaled 
its perfume, put it over his heart, on his flesh in the day-time, and at 
night went to sleep with it on his lips. 

"I feel her whole soul in it !" he exclaimed. 

This handkerchief belonged to the old gentleman, who had simply 
let it fall from his pocket. 


We have seen how Marius discovered, or thought he discovered, that 
Her name was Ursula. 

Marius 265 

Hunger comes with love. To know that her name was Ursula had 
been much ; it was little. In three or four weeks Marius had devoured 
this piece of good fortune. He desired another. He wished to know 
where she lived. 

He had committed one blunder in falling into the snare of the seat 
by the Gladiator. He had committed a second by not remaining at 
the Luxembourg when Monsieur Leblanc came there alone. He com- 
mitted a third, a monstrous one. He followed ^^Ursula." 

She lived in the Rue de 1' Quest, in the least frequented part of it, 
in a new three-story house, of modest appearance. 

From that moment Marius added to his happiness in seeing her at 
the Luxembourg, the happiness of following her home. 

His hunger increased. He knew her name, her first name, at 
least, the charming name, the real name of a woman; he knew where 
she lived; he desired to know who she was. 

One night after he had followed them home, and seen them dis- 
appear at the porte-cochere, he entered after them, and said boldly to 
the porter: — 

'^Is it the gentleman on the first floor who has just come in ?" 

"ITo," answered the porter. "It is the gentleman on the third." 

Another fact. This success made Marius still bolder. 

"In front ?" he asked. 

"Faith !" said the porter, "the house is only built on the street." 

"And what is this gentleman ?" 

"He lives on his income, monsieur. A very kind man, who does a 
great deal of good among the poor, though not rich." 

"What is his name?" continued Marius. 

The porter raised his head, and said : — 

"Is monsieur a detective ?" 

Marius retired, much abashed, but still in great transports. He 
was getting on. 

"Good," thought he. "I know that her name is Ursula, that she 
is the daughter of a retired gentleman, and that she lives there, in the 
third story, in the Rue de TOuest." 

^ext day Monsieur Leblanc and his daughter made but a short visit 
to the Luxembourg; they went away while it was yet broad daylight. 
Marius followed them into the Rue de FOuest, as was his custom. On 

266 Les Miserables 

Teaching the porte-cochere, Monsieur Leblanc passed his daughter in, 
and then stopped, and before entering himself, turned and looked 
steadily at Marius. The day after that they did not come to the 
Luxembourg. Marius waited in vain all day. 

At nightfall he went to the Eue de F Quest, and saw a light in the 
windows of the third story. He walked beneath these windows until 
the light was put out. 

The next day nobody at the Luxembourg. Marius waited all day, 
and then went to perform his night duty under the windows. That 
took him till ten o'clock in the evening. His dinner took care of itself. 
Fever supports the sick man, and love the lover. 

He passed a week in this way. Monsieur Leblanc and his daughter 
appeared at the Luxembourg no more. Marius made melancholy con- 
jectures; he dared not watch the porte-cochere during the day. He 
limited himself to going at night to gaze upon the reddish light of the 
windows. At times he saw shadows moving, and his heart beat high. 

On the eighth day when he reached the house, there was no light in 
the windows. ^^What!" he said, "the lamp is not yet lighted. But 
yet it is dark. Or they have gone out V^ He waited till ten o'clock. 

Till midnight. Till one o'clock in the morning. ]^o light appeared 
in the third story windows, and nobody entered the house. He went 
away very gloomy. 

On the morrow — for he lived only from morrow to morrow; there 
was no longer any to-day, so to speak, to him — on the morrow he found 
nobody at the Luxembourg, he waited; at dusk he went to the house. 
'No light in the windows; the blinds were closed; the third story was 
entirely dark. 

Marius knocked at the porte-cochere; went in and said to the 
porter : — 

"The gentleman of the third floor ?" 

"Moved," answered the porter. 

Marius tottered, and said feebly: 

"Since when?" 


"Where does he live now ?" 

"I don't know anything about it.'' 

"He has not left his new address, then V^ 

Marius 267 

And the porter, looking up, recognised Marius. 
"What ! it is you !" said he, but decidedly now, "you do keep a bright 



A QUARTETTE of baudits, Claquesous, Gueulemer, Babet, and Mont- 
parnasse, ruled from 1830 to 1835 over the third sub-stage of Paris. 

Gueulemer was a Hercules without a pedestal. His cave was the 
Arche-Marion sewer. He was six feet high, and had a marble chest, 
b^-azen biceps, cavernous lungs, a colossus' body, and a bird's skull. 
You would think you saw the Farnese Hercules dressed in duck panta- 
loons and a cotton-velvet waistcoat. Gueulemer built in this sculp- 
tural fashion, could have subdued monsters; he found it easier to 
become one. Low forehead, large temples, less than forty, the foot 
of a goose, coarse short hair, a bushy cheek, a wild boar's beard ; from 
this you see the man. His muscles asked for work, his stupidity would 
have none. This was a huge lazy force. He was an assassin through 
nonchalance. He was thought to be a Creole. Probably there was a 
little of Marshall Brown in him, he having been a porter at Avignon 
in 1815. After this he had become a bandit. 

The diaphaneity of Babet contrasted with the meatiness of Gueule- 
mer. Babet was thin and shrewd. He was transparent, but impen- 
etrable. You could see the light through his bones, but nothing 
through his eye. He professed to be a chemist. He had been bar- 
keeper for Bobeche, and clown for Bobino. He had played vaudeville 
at Saint Mihiel. He was an affected man, a great talker, who italicised 
his smiles and quoted his gestures. 

What was Claquesous? He was night. Before showing himself, 
he waited till the sky was daubed with black. At night he came out 
of a hole, which he went into again before day. Where was this hole ? 
^NTobody knew. In the most perfect obscurity, and to his accomplices, 
he always turned his back when he spoke. Was his name Claquesous ? 

268 Les Miserables 

No. He said: "My name is Nothing-at-all." If a candle was 
brouglit, he put on a mask. He was a ventriloquist. Babet said: 
"Claquesous is a night-hird with two voices/' Claquesous was rest- 
less, roving, terrible. It was not certain that he had a name, 
Claquesous being a nickname; it was not certain that he had a voice, 
his chest speaking oftener than his mouth; it was not certain that he 
had a face, nobody having ever seen anything but his mask. He 
disappeared as if he sank into the ground ; he came like an apparition. 

A mournful sight was Montparnasse. Montparnasse was a child; 
less than twenty, with a pretty face, lips like cherries, charming black 
locks, the glow of spring in his eyes; he had all the vices and aspired 
to all the crimes. The digestion of what was bad gave him an appe- 
tite for what was worse. He was the gamin turned vagabond, and the 
vagabond become an assassin. He was genteel, effeminate, graceful, 
robust, weak, and ferocious. He wore his hat turned upon the left 
side, to make room for the tuft of hair, according to the fashion of 
1829. He lived by robbery. 

Few prowlers were so much feared as Montparnasse. At eighteen, 
he had already left several corpses on his track. More than one 
traveller lay in the shadow of this wretch, with extended arms and with 
his face in a pool of blood. Frizzled, pomaded, with slender waist, 
hips like a woman, the bust of a Prussian officer, a buzz of admiration 
about him from the girls of the boulevard, an elaborately-tied cravat, 
a slung-shot in his pocket, a flower in his button-hole; such was this 
charmer of the sepulchre. 




Summer passed, then autumn ; winter came. Neither M. Leblanc nor 
the young girl had set foot in the Luxembourg. Marius had now but 
one thought, to see that sweet, that adorable face again. He searched 
continually; he searched everywhere: he found nothing. He was no 

Marius 269 

longer Marius the enthusiastic dreamer, the resolute man, ardent yet 
firm, the bold challenger of destiny, the brain which projected and 
built future upon future, the young heart full of plans, projects, prides, 
ideas, and desires; he was a lost dog. He fell into a melancholy. It 
was all over with him. Work disgusted him, walking fatigued him, 
solitude wearied him, vast nature, once so full of forms, of illumina- 
tions, of voices, of counsels, of perspectives, of horizons, of teachings, 
was now a void before him. It seemed to him that everything had 

He was still full of thought, for he could not be otherwise; but he 
no longer found pleasure in his thoughts. To all which they were 
silently but incessantly proposing to him, he answered in the gloom: 
What is the use ? 

He reproached himself a hundred times. Why did I follow her? 
I was so happy in seeing her only! She looked upon me; was not 
that infinite? She had the appearance of loving me. Was not that 
everything ? I desired to have what ? There is nothing more after 

At another time, an accidental meeting produced a singular effect 
upon him. In one of the little streets in the neighbourhood of the 
Boulevard des Invalides, he saw a man dressed like a labourer, wearing 
a cap with a long visor, from beneath which escaped a few locks of 
very white hair. Marius was struck by the beauty of this white hair, 
and noticed the man who was walking with slow steps and seemed 
absorbed in painful meditation. Strangely enough, it appeared to him 
that he recognised M. Leblanc. It was the same hair, the same profile, 
as far as the cap allowed him to see, the same manner, only sadder. 
But why these working-man's clothes? what did that mean? what did 
this disguise signify? Marius was astounded. When he came to 
himself, his first impulse was to follow the man; who knows but he 
had at last caught the trace which he was seeking? At all events, 
he must see the man again nearer, and clear up the enigma. But this 
idea occurred to him too late, the man was now gone. He had taken 
some side-street, and Marius could not find him again. This adventure 
occupied his mind for a few days, and then faded away. "After all," 
said he to himself, *4t is probably only a resemblance." 

2^0 Les Miserables 


Makius still lived in the Gorbeau tenement. He paid no attention to 
anybody there. 

At this time, it is true, there were no occupants remaining in the 
house but himself and those Jondrettes whose rent he had once paid, 
without having ever spoken, however, either to the father, or to the 
mother, or to the daughters. The other tenants had moved away or 
died, or had been turned out for not paying their rent. 

One day, in the course of this winter, the sun shone a little in the 
afternoon, but it was the second of February, that ancient Candlemas- 
day whose treacherous sun, the precursor of six weeks of cold, inspired 
Matthew Laensberg with these two lines, which have deservedly become 
classic : 

Qu'il luise ou qu'il luiserne, 
L^ours rentre en sa caverne.^ 

Marius had just left his ; night was falling. It was his dinner hour ; 
for it was still necessary for him to go to dinner, alas ! oh, infirmity of 
the ideal passions. 

He had just crossed his door-sill which Ma'am Bougon was sweeping 
at that very moment, muttering at the same time this memorable 
monologue : 

"What is there that is cheap now? everything is dear. There is 
nothing but people's trouble that is cheap; that comes for nothing, 
people's trouble." 

Marius went slowly up the boulevard towards the barriere, on the 
way to the Rue Saint Jacques. He was walking thoughtfully, with 
his head down. 

Suddenly he felt that he was elbowed in the dusk; he turned, and 
saw two young girls in rags, one tall and slender, the other a little 
shorter, passing rapidly by, breathless, frightened, and apparently in 
flight; they had met him, had not seen him, and had jostled him in 
passing. Marius could see in the twilight their livid faces, their hair 

^ Let it gleam or let it glimmer. 
The Bear returns into his cave. 

Marius 2Y1 

tangled and flying, their frightful bonnets, their tattered skirts, and 
their naked feet. As they ran they were talking to each other. The 
taller one said in a very low voice : 

"The cognes came. They just missed pincer me at the demicercle/' 

The other answered : "I saw them. I cavaU, cavale, cavaU." 

Marius understood, through this dismal argot, that the gendarmes, 
or the city police, had not succeeded in seizing these two girls, and that 
the girls had escaped. 

They plunged in under the trees of the boulevard behind him, and 
for a few seconds made a kind of dim whiteness in the obscurity which 
soon faded out. 

Marius stopped for a moment. 

He was about to resume his course when he perceived a little greyish 
packet on the ground at his feet. He stooped down and picked it up. 
It was a sort of envelope which appeared to contain papers. 

"Good," said he, "those poor creatures must have dropped this !" 

He retraced his steps, he called, he did not find them ; he concluded 
they were already beyond hearing, put the packet in his pocket, and 
went to dinner. 

On his way, in an alley on the Rue Mouffetard, he saw a child's 
coffin covered with a black cloth, placed upon three chairs and 
lighted by a candle. The two girls of the twilight returned to his 

"Poor mothers,'' thought he. "There is one thing sadder than to 
see their children die — to see them lead evil lives." 

Then these shadows which had varied his sadness went out from his 
thoughts, and he fell back into his customary train. He began to think 
of his six months of love and happiness in the open air and the broad 
daylight under the beautiful trees of the Luxembourg. 

"How dark my life has become!" said he to himself. "Young 
girls still pass before me. Only formerly they were angels ; now they 
are ghouls." 


In the evening, as he was undressing to go to bed, he happened to feel 
in his coat-pocket the packet which he had picked up on the boulevard, 

272 Les Miserables 

He had forgotten it. He thought it might be well to open it, and that 
the packet might perhaps contain the address of the young girls, if, in 
reality, it belonged to them, or at all events the information necessary 
to restore it to the person who had lost it. 

He opened the envelope. 

It was unsealed and contained four letters, also unsealed. 

The addresses were upon them. 

All four exhaled an odour of wretched tobacco. 

The first letter was addressed: To Madame, Madame the Marchio- 
ness de Grucheray, Square opposite the Chamber of Deputies, No, 

Marius said to himself that he should probably find in this letter the 
information of which he was in search, and that, moreover, as the letter 
was not sealed, probably it might be read without impropriety. He 
read the letter hurriedly. It was signed by ^^Don Alvabes;, Spanish 
captain of cabalry" 

'No address was added to the signature. Marius hoped to find the 
address in the second letter the superscription of which ran : to Madame, 
Madame the Comtess de Montvernet, Rue Cassette, No. 9. This letter 
was simply signed, "Mother Balizard." 

Marius passed to the third letter, which was, like the preceding, a 
begging, one, this time signed by one "Genflot, man of letters." 

He finally opened the fourth letter. There was on the address : To 
the heneficent gentleman of the church Saint Jaques du Haut Pas. It 
contained these few lines : 

"Beneficent man, 

"If you will deign to accompany my daughter, you will see a misserable 
calamity, and I will show you my certificates. 

"At the sight of these writings your generous soul will be moved with a 
sentiment of lively benevolence, for" true philosophers always experience 
vivid emotions. 

"Agree, compassionate man, that one must experience the most cruel 
necessity, and that it is very painful, to obtain relief, to have it attested 
by authority as if we were not free to suffer and to die of inanition while 
waiting for some one to relieve our missery. The fates are very cruel to 
some and too lavish or too careful to others. 

"I await your presence or your offering, if you deign to make it, and I 

Marius 273 

pray you to have the kindness to accept the respectful sentiments with 
which I am proud to be, 
"Truly magnanimous man, 

"Your very humble 

"And very obedient servant, 

"P. Fabantou, dramatic artist.'* 

After reading these four letters, Marius did not j&nd himself much 
wiser than before. 

In the first place none of the signers gave his address. 

Then they seemed to come from four different individuals, Don 
Alvares, Mother Balizard, the poet Genflot, and the dramatic artist 
Fabantou ; but, strangely enough, these letters were all four written in 
the same hand. 

What was the conclusion from that, unless that they came from the 
same person? 

Moreover, and this rendered the conjecture still more probable, the 
paper, coarse and yellow, was the same in all four, the odour of to- 
bacco was the same, and although there was an evident endeavour to 
vary the style, the same faults of orthography were reproduced with 
a very quiet certainty, * and Genflot, the man of letters, was no more 
free from them than the Spanish captain. 

To endeavour to unriddle this little mystery was a useless labour. 
If it had not been a waif, it would have had the appearance of a mysti- 
fication. Marius was too sad to take a joke kindly even from chance, 
or to lend himself to the game which the street pavement seemed to 
wish to play with him. 

I^othing, however, indicated that these letters belonged to the girls 
whom Marius had met on the boulevard. After all, they were but 
waste paper evidently without value. 

Marius put them back into the envelope, threw it into a corner, and 
went to bed. 

About seven o'clock in the morning, he had got up and breakfasted, 
and was trying to set about his work when there was a gentle rap at 
his door. 

There was a second rap, very gentle like the first. 

274 Les Miserables 

"Come in/' said Marius. 
The door opened. 

"What do you want, Ma'am Bongon ?" asked Marius, without raising 
his eyes from the books and papers which he had on his table. 
A voice, which was not Ma'am Bougon's, answered : 
"I beg your pardon. Monsieur " 

Marius turned quickly and saw a young girl. 


A GIRL who was quite young, was standing in the half-opened door. 
The little round window through which the light found its way into 
the garret was exactly opposite the door, and lit up this form with a 
pallid light. It was a pale, puny, meagre creature, nothing but a 
chemise and a skirt covered a shivering and chilly nakedness. A string 
for a belt, a string for a headdress, sharp shoulders protruding from 
the chemise, a blond and lymphatic pallor, dirty shoulder-blades, red 
hands, the mouth open and sunken, some teeth gone, the eyes dull, bold, 
and drooping, the form of an unripe young girl and the look of a 
corrupted old woman; fifty years joined with fifteen; one of those 
beings who are both feeble and horrible at once, and who make those 
shudder whom they do not make weep. 

Marius arose and gazed with a kind of astonishment upon this 
being, so much like the shadowy forms which pass across our dreams. 

The most touching thing about it was that this young girl had not 
come into the world to be ugly. In her early childhood, she must 
have even been pretty. The grace of her youth was still struggling 
against the hideous old age brought on by debauchery and poverty. A 
remnant of beauty was dying out upon this face of sixteen, like the 
pale sun which is extinguished by frightful clouds at the dawn of a 
winter's day. 

The face was not absolutely unknown to Marius. He thought he 
remembered having seen it somewhere. 

"What do you wish, mademoiselle ?" asked he. 

The young girl answered with her voice like a drunken galley- 
slave's : 

"Here is a letter for you, Monsieur Marius." 

Marius 275 

She called Marius by his name ; he could not doubt that her business 
was with him ; but what was this girl ? how did she know his name ? 

Without waiting for an invitation, she entered. She entered reso- 
lutely, looking at the whole room and the unmade bed with a sort of 
assurance which chilled the heart. She was barefooted. Great holes 
in her skirt revealed her long limbs and her sharp knees. She was 

She had really in her hand a letter which she presented to Marius. 

Marius, in opening this letter, noticed that the enormously large 
wafer was still wet. The message could not have come far. He read : 

"My amiable neighbour, young man ! 

"I have learned your kindness towards me, that you have paid my 
rent six months ago. I bless you, young man. My eldest daughter will 
tell you that we have been without a morsel of bread for two days, four 
persons, and my spouse sick. If I am not desseived by my thoughts, I 
think I may hope that your generous heart will soften at this exposure and 
that the desire will subjugate you of being propitious to me by deigning to 
lavish upon me some light gift. 

"I am with the distinguished consideration which is due to the bene- 
factors of humanity, 


"P. S. My daughter will await your orders, dear Monsieur Marius." 

This letter, in the midst of the obscure accident which had occupied 
Marius' s thoughts since the previous evening, was a candle in a cave. 
Everything was suddenly cleared up. 

This letter came from the same source as the other four. It was the 
same writing, the same style, the same orthography, the same paper, 
the same odour of tobacco. 

There were -Q.Ye missives, five stories, Rve names, ^Ye signatures, 
and a single signer. The Spanish Captain Don Alvares, the unfortu- 
nate Mother Balizard, the dramatic poet Genflot, the old comedy writer 
Fabantou, were all four named Jondrette, if indeed the name of 
Jondrette himself was Jondrette. 

During the now rather long time that Marius had lived in the 
tenement, he had had, as we have said, but very few opportunities to 
see, or even catch a glimpse of his very poor neighbours. His mind 

276 Les Miserables 

was elsewhere, and where the mind is, thither the eyes are directed. 
He must have met the Jondrettes in the passage and on the stairs, 
more than once, but to him they were only shadows; he had taken so 
little notice that on the previous evening he had brushed against the 
Jondrette girls upon the boulevard without recognising them; for it 
was evidently they ; and it was with great difficulty that this girl, who 
had just come into his room, had awakened in him, beneath his dis- 
gust and pity, a vague remembrance of having met with her elsewhere. 

]^ow he saw everything clearly. He understood that the occupation 
of his neighbour Jondrette in his distress was to work upon the sym- 
pathies of benevolent persons; that he procured their addresses, and 
that he wrote under assumed names letters to people whom he deemed 
rich and compassionate, which his daughters carried, at their risk and 
peril ; for this father was one who risked his daughters ; he was playing 
a game with destiny, and he put them into the stake. Marius under- 
stood, to judge by their flight in the evening, by their breathlessness, 
by their terror, by those words of argot which he had heard, that 
probably these unfortunate things were carrying on also some of the 
secret trades of darkness, and that from all this the result was, in the 
midst of human society constituted as it is, two miserable beings who 
were neither children, nor girls, nor women, a species of impure yet 
innocent monsters produced by misery. 

She went to the table. 

"Ah !" said she, "books !" 

A light flashed through her glassy eye. She resumed, and her tone 
expressed that happiness of being able to boast of something, to which 
no human creature is insensible: 

"I can read, I can." 

She hastily caught up the book which lay open on the table, and 
read fluently: 

" General Bauduin received the order to take five battalions of 

his brigade and carry the chateau of Hougomont, which is in the mid- 
dle of the plain of Waterloo " 

She stopped: 

"Ah, Waterloo! I know that. It is a battle in old times. My 
father was there ; my father served in the armies. We are jolly good 
Bonapartists at home, that we are. Against English, Waterloo is." 

Marius 2Y7 

She put down the book, took up a pen and exclaimed : 

"And I can write, too !" 

She dipped the pen in the ink, and turning towards Marius: 

"Would you like to see? Here, I am going to write a word to 

And before he had had time to answer, she wrote upon a sheet of 
blank paper which was on the middle of the table : ^^The Cognes are 

Then, throwing down the pen : 

"There are no mistakes in spelling. You can look. We have re- 
ceived an education, my sister and I. We have not always been what 
we are. We were not made " 

Here she stopped, fixed her faded eye upon Marius, and burst out 
laughing, saying in a tone which contained complete anguish stifled 
hy complete cynicism: 

"Bah !" 

Marius had drawn back quietly. 

"Mademoiselle,'' said he, with his cold gravity, "I have here a packet, 
which is yours, I think. Permit me to return it to you." 

And he handed her the envelope, which contained the four letters. 

She. clapped her hands and exclaimed : 

"We have looked everywhere !" 

Then she snatched the packet, and opened the envelope, saying : 

"Lordy, Lordy, haven't we looked, my sister and I ? And you have 
found it ! on the boulevard, didn't you ? It must have been on the 
boulevard? You see, this dropped when we ran. It was my brat 
of a sister who made the stupid blunder. When we got home, we 
could not find it. As we did not want to be beaten, since that is need- 
less, since that is entirely needless, since that is absolutely needless, 
we said at home that we had carried the letters to the persons and that 
they told us : Nix ! l^ow here they are, these poor letters. And 
how did you know they were mine ? Ah, yes ! by the writing ! It was 
you, then, that we knocked against last evening. We did not see 
you, really ! I said to my sister : "Is that a gentleman ? My sister 
said: — I think it is a gentleman!" 

Meanwhile, she had unfolded the petition addressed "to the beneficent 
gentleman of the church Saint Jacques du Haut Pas." 

278 Les Miserables 

"Here!" said she, "this is for the old fellow who goes to mass. 
And this too is the hour. I am going to carry it to him. He will give 
us something perhaps for breakfast." 

Then she began to laugh, and added : 

"Do you know what it will be if we have breakfast to-day ? It will 
be that we shall have had our breakfast for day before yesterday, our 
dinner for day before yesterday, our breakfast for yesterday, our 
dinner for yesterday, all that at one time this morning. Yes ! zounds ! 
if you're not satisfied, stuff till you burst, dogs !" 

This reminded Marius of what the poor girl had come to his room 

After a thorough exploration of his pockets, Marius at last got to- 
gether ^Ye francs and sixteen sous. This was at the time all that he 
had in the world. "That is enough for my dinner to-day," thought 
he, "to-morrow we will see." He took the sixteen sous, and gave the 
five francs to the young girl. 

She took the piece eagerly. 

"Good," said she, "there is some sunshine!" 

She drew her chemise up over her shoulders, made a low bow to 
Marius, then a familiar wave of the hand, and moved towards the 

On her way she saw on the bureau a dry crust of bread moulding 
there in the dust ; she sprang upon it, and bit it, muttering : 

"That is good ! it is hard ! it breaks my teeth !" 

Then she went out. 


Fob 1a.Ye years Marius had lived in poverty, in privation, in distress 
even, but he perceived that he had never known real misery. Eeal 
misery he had just seen. It was this sprite which had just passed 
before his eyes. In fact, he who has seen the misery of man only has 
seen nothing, he must see the misery of woman; he who has seen the 
misery of woman only has seen nothing, he must see the misery of 

This young girl was to Marius a sort of messenger from the night. 

She revealed to him an entire and hideous aspect of the darkness. 

Marius 279 

Marius almost reproached himself with the fact that he had been 
so absorbed in his reveries and passion that he had not until now cast 
a glance upon his neighbours. Paying their rent was a mechanical 
impulse; everybody would have had that impulse; but he, Marius, 
should have done better. What ! a mere wall separated him from these 
abandoned beings, who lived by groping in the night without the pale 
of the living; he came in contact with them, he was in some sort the 
last link of the human race which they touched, he heard them live 
or rather breathe beside him, and he took no notice of them! every 
day at every moment, he heard them through the wall, walking, going, 
coming, talking, and he did not lend his ear ! and in these words there 
were groans, and he did not even listen, his thoughts were elsewhere, 
upon dreams, upon impossible glimmerings, upon loves in the sky, 
upon infatuations; and all the while human beings, his brothers in 
Jesus Christ, his brothers in the people, were suffering death agonies 
beside him! agonising uselessly; he even caused a portion of their 
suffering, and aggravated it. For had they had another neighbour, 
a less chimerical and more observant neighbour, an ordinary and chari- 
table man, it was clear that their poverty would have been noticed, their 
signals of distress would have been seen, and long ago perhaps they 
would have been gathered up and saved! Undoubtedly they seemed 
very depraved, very corrupt, very vile, very hateful, even, but those 
are rare who fall without becoming degraded; there is a point, more- 
over, at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and 
confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Miserahles; whose 
fault is it ? And then, is it not when the fall is lowest that charity 
ought to be greatest ? 

While he thus preached to himself, for there were times when Marius, 
like all truly honest hearts, was his own monitor, and scolded himself 
more than he deserved, he looked at the wall which separated him 
from the Jondrettes, as if he could send his pitying glance through 
that partition to warn those unfortunate beings. The wall was a thin 
layer of plaster, upheld by laths and joists, through which, as we have 
just seen, voices and words could be distinguished perfectly. I^one 
but the dreamer, Marius, would not have perceived this before. There 
was no paper hung on this wall, either on the side of the Jondrettes, or 
on Marius' side; its coarse construction was bare to the eye. Almost 

280 Les Miserables 

unconsciously, Marius examined this partition; sometimes reverie ex- 
amines, observes, and scrutinises, as thought would do. Suddenly he 
arose, he noticed towards the top, near the ceiling, a triangular hole, 
where three laths left a space between them. The plaster which should 
have stopped this hole was gone, and by getting upon the bureau he 
could see through that hole into the Jondrettes' garret. Pity has and 
should have its curiosity. This hole was a kind of Judas. It is law- 
ful to look upon misfortune like a betrayer for the sake of relieving 
it. "Let us see what these people are," thought Marius, ^^and to what 
they are reduced." 

He climbed upon the bureau, put his eye to the crevice, and looked. 


Cities, like forests, have their dens in which hide all their vilest and 
most terrible monsters. But in cities, what hides thus is ferocious, 
unclean, and petty, that is to say, ugly; in forests, what hides is 
ferocious, savage, and grand, that is to say, beautiful. Den for den, 
those of beasts are preferable to those of men. Caverns are better than 
the wretched holes which shelter humanity. 

What Marius saw was a hole. 

Marius was poor and his room was poorly furnished, but even as 
his poverty was noble, his garret was clean. The den into which his 
eyes were at that moment directed, was abject, filthy, fetid, infectious, 
gloomy, unclean. All the furniture was a straw chair, a rickety table, 
a few old broken dishes, and in two of the corners two indescribable 
pallets; all the light came from a dormer window of four panes, cur- 
tained with spider's webs. Just enough light came through that loop- 
hole to make a man's face appear like the face of a phantom. The 
walls had a leprous look, and were covered with seams and scars like 
a face disfigured by some horrible malady; a putrid moisture oozed 
from them. Obscene pictures could be discovered upon them coarsely 
sketched in charcoal. 

One of the pallets was near the door, the other near the window. 
Each had one end next the chimney and both were opposite Marius. 
In a corner near the opening through which Marius was looking, hang- 
ing upon the wall in a black wooden frame, was a coloured engraving 

Marius 281 

at the bottom of which was written in large letters : THE DREAM. 

Below this frame a sort of wooden panel longer than it was wide 
was standing on the floor and leaning at an angle against the wall. 
It had the appearance of a picture set against the wall, of a frame 
probably daubed on the other side, of a pier glass taken down from a 
wall and forgotten to be hung again. 

By the table, upon which Marius saw a pen, ink, and paper, was 
seated a man of about sixty, small, thin, livid, haggard, with a keen, 
cruel, and restless air; a hideous harpy. 

This man had a long grey beard. He was dressed in a woman's 
chemise, which showed his shaggy breast and his naked arms bristling 
with grey hairs. Below this chemise, were a pair of muddy panta- 
loons and boots from which the toes stuck out. 

He had a pipe in his mouth, and was smoking. . There was no more 
bread in the den, but there was tobacco. 

He was writing, probably some such letter as those which Marius 
had read. 

Here he stopped, struck his fist on the table, and added, gnashing his 
teeth : 

"Oh ! I could eat the world !'' 

A big woman, who might have been forty years old or a hundred, 
was squatting near the fireplace, upon her bare feet. 

She also was dressed only in a chemise and a knit skirt patched 
with pieces of old cloth. A coarse tow apron covered half the skirt. 
Although this woman was bent and drawn up into herself, it could 
be seen that she was very tall. She was a kind of giantess by the side 
of her husband. She had hideous hair, light red sprinkled with grey, 
that she pushed back from time to time with her huge shining hands 
which had flat nails. 

Upon one of the pallets Marius could discern a sort of slender little 
wan girl seated, almost naked, with her feet hanging down, having the 
appearance neither of listening, nor of seeing, nor of living. 

The younger sister, doubtless, of the one who had come to his room. 

She appeared to be eleven or twelve years old. On examining her 
attentively, he saw that she must be fourteen. It was the child who, 
the evening before, on the boulevard, said: "I cavale, cavale, cavale!" 

The man became silent, the woman did not speak, the girl did not 

^S2 Les Miserables 

seem to breathe. Marius could hear the pen scratching over the paper. 

The man muttered out, without ceasing to write : — ^ ^Rabble ! rabble ! 
all is rabble !" 

This variation upon the ejaculation of Solomon drew a sigh from the 

"My darling, be calm," said she. "Do not hurt yourself, dear. 
You are too good to write to all those people, my man.'' 

In poverty bodies hug close to each other, as in the cold, but hearts 
grow distant. This woman, according to all appearance, must have 
loved this man with as much love as was in her; but probably, in the 
repeated mutual reproaches which grew out of the frightful distress 
that weighed upon them all, this love had become extinguished. She 
now felt towards her husband nothing more than the ashes of affection. 
Still the words of endearment, as often happens, had survived. She 
said to him : Dear; my darling; my man, etc., with her lips, her heart 
was silent. 

The man returned to his writing. 


Marius, with a heavy heart, was about to get down from the sort of 
observatory which he had extemporised, when a sound attracted his 
attention, and induced him to remain in his place. 

The door of the garret was hastily opened. The eldest daughter 
appeared upon the threshold. On her feet she had coarse men's shoes, 
covered with mud, which had been spattered as high as her red ankles, 
and she was wrapped in a ragged old gown which Marius had not seen 
upon her an hour before, but which she had probably left at his door 
that she might inspire the more pity, and which she must have put on 
upon going out. She came in, pushed the door to behind her, stopped 
to take breath, for she was quite breathless, then cried with an ex- 
pression of joy and triumph: 

"He is coming!" 

The father turned his eyes, the woman turned her head, the younger 
sister did not stir. 

"Who V asked the father. 

"The gentleman !" 

Marius 283 

"The philanthropist V 


"Of the church of Saint Jacques ?" 


"That old man?" 


"Is he going to come ?" 

"He is behind me?" 

"You are sure?" 

"I am sure." 

"There, true, he is coming?" 

"He is coming in a fiacre." 

"In a fiacre. It is Eothschild ?" 

The father arose. 

"And you are sure, then, sure that he is coming?" 

"He is at my heels," said she. 

The man sprang up. There was a sort of illumination on his face. 

"Wife!" cried he, "you hear. Here is the philanthropist. Put 
out the fire." 

The astounded woman did not stir. 

The father, with the agility of a mountebank, caught a broken pot 
which stood on the mantel, and threw some water upon the embers. 

Then turning to his elder daughter: 

"You ! unbottom the chair !" 

His daughter did not understand him at all. 

He seized the chair, and with a kick he ruined the seat. His leg 
went through it. 

As he drew out his leg, he asked his daughter : 

"Is it cold?" 

"Very cold. It snows." 

The father turned towards the youngest girl, who was on the pallet 
near the window, and cried in a thundering voice: 

"Quick! off the bed, good-for-nothing! will you never do any« 
thing ? break a pane of glass !" 

The little girl sprang off the bed trembling. 

"Break a pane of glass !" said he again. 

The child was speechless. 

284 Les Miserables 

"Do you hear me?" repeated the father, "I tell you to break a 
pane !" 

The child, with a sort of terrified obedience, rose upon tiptoe, and 
struck her fist into a pane. The glass broke and fell with a crash. 

"Good," said the father. 

He was serious, yet rapid. His eyes ran hastily over all the nooks 
and corners of the garret. 

You would have said he was a general, making his final preparations 
at the moment when the battle was about to begin. 

The mother, who had not yet said a word, got up and asked in a 
slow, muffled tone, her words seeming to come out as if curdled: 

"Dear, what is it you want to do ?" 

"Get into bed," answered the man. 

His tone admitted of no deliberation. The mother obeyed, and 
threw herself heavily upon one of the pallets. 

Meanwhile a sob was heard in a corner. 

"What is that ?" cried the father. 

The youngest daughter, without coming out of the darkness into 
which she had shrunk, showed her bleeding fist. In breaking the 
glass she had cut herself; she had gone to her mother's bed, and she 
was weeping in silence. 

It was the mother's turn to rise and cry out. 

"You see now ! what stupid things you are doing ? breaking your 
glass, she has cut herself !" 

"So much the better !" said the man. "I knew she would." 

"How! so much the better?" resumed the woman. 

"Silence !" replied the father. "I suppress the liberty of the press." 

Then tearing the chemise which he had on, he made a bandage with 
which he hastily wrapped up the little girl's bleeding wrist. 

That done, his eye fell upon the torn chemise with satisfaction. 

"And the chemise too," said he, "all this has a good appearance. 

An icy wind whistled at the window and came into the room. The 
mist from without entered and spread about like a whitish wadding 
picked apart by invisible fingers. Through the broken pane the falling 
snow was seen. The cold promised the day before by the Candlemas 
sun had come indeed. 

The father cast a glance about him as if to assure himself that he 

Marius 285 

had forgotten nothing. He took an old shovel and spread ashes over 
the moistened embers in such a way as to hide them completely. 
Then rising and standing with his back to the chimney : 
"Now," said he, "we can receive the philanthropist." 


The large girl went to her father and laid her hand on his. 

"Feel how cold I am," said she. 

"Pshaw!" answered the father. "I am a good deal colder than 

The mother cried impetuously: 

"You always have everything better than the rest, even pain." 

"Down!" said the man. 

The mother, after a peculiar look from the man, held her peace. 

There was a moment of silence in the den. The eldest daughter 
was scraping the mud off the bottom of her dress with a careless air, 
the young sister continued to sob; the mother had taken her head in 
both hands and was covering her with kisses, saying to her in a low 

"My treasure, I beg of you, it will be nothing, do not cry, you will 
make your father angry." 

"ISTo !" cried the father, "on the contrary ! sob ! sob ! that does finely." 

Then turning to the eldest : 

"Ah ! but he does not come ! if he was not coming, I shall have put 
out my fire, knocked the bottom out of my chair, torn my chemise, 
and broken my window for nothing." 

"And cut the little girl!" murmured the mother. 

"Do you know," resumed the father, "that it is as cold as a dog in 
this devilish garret ?" 

Just then there was a light rap at the door, the man rushed for- 
ward and opened it, exclaiming with many low bows and smiles of 
adoration : 

"Come in, monsieur! deign to come in, my noble benefactor, as 
well as your charming young lady." 

A man of mature age and a young girl appeared at the door of the 

286 Les Miserables 

Marius had not left his place. What he felt at that moment escapes 
human language. 

It was She. 

Whoever has loved, knows all the radiant meaning contained in the 
three letters of this word: She. 

It was indeed she. Marius could hardly discern her through the 
luminous vapour which suddenly spread over his eyes. It was that 
sweet absent being, that star which had been his light, for six months, 
it was that eye, that brow, that mouth, that beautiful vanished face 
which had produced night when it went away. The vision had been 
in an eclipse, it was reappearing. 

She appeared again in this gloom, in this garret, in this shapeless 
den, in this horror ! 

Marius shuddered desperately. What ! it was she ! the beating of his 
heart disturbed his sight. He felt ready to melt into tears. What! 
at last he saw her again after having sought for her so long! it 
seemed to him that he had just lost his soul and that he had just 
found it again. 

She was still the same, a little paler only ; her delicate face was set in 
a violet velvet hat, her form was hidden under a black satin pelisse, 
below her long dress he caught a glimpse of her little foot squeezed into 
a silk buskin. 

She was still accompanied by Monsieur Leblanc. 

She stepped into the room and laid a large package on the table. 

The elder Jondrette girl had retreated behind the door and was 
looking upon that velvet hat, that silk dress, and that charming happy 
face, with an evil eye. 


The den was so dark that people who come from outdoors felt as if 
they were entering a cellar on coming in. The two new-comers stepped 
forward, therefore, with some hesitation, hardly discerning the dim 
forms about them, while they were seen and examined with perfect ease 
by the tenants of the garret, whose eyes were accustomed to this twi- 

Marius 287 

Monsieur Leblanc approached with his kind and compassionate look, 
and said to the father : 

^^Monsieur, you will find in this package some new clothes, some 
stockings, and some new coverlids." 

"Our angelic benefactor overwhelms us," said Jondrette, bowing 
down to the floor. Then, stooping to his eldest daughter's ear, while 
the two visitors were examining this lamentable abode, he added 
rapidly in a whisper : 

"Well ! what did I tell you ? rags ? no money. They are all alike ! 
Tell me, how was the letter to this old blubber-lip signed ?" 

"Fabantou," answered the daughter. 

"The dramatic artist, good!" 

This was lucky for Jondrette, for at that very moment Monsieur 
Leblanc turned towards him and said to him, with the appearance of 
one who is trying to recollect a name: 

"I see that you are to be pitied. Monsieur " 

"Fabantou," said Jondrette quickly. 

"Monsieur Fabantou, yes, that is it. I remember." 

"Dramatic artist, monsieur, and who has had his successes." 

Here Jondrette evidently thought the moment come to make an im- 
pression upon the "philanthropist." He exclaimed in a tone of voice 
which belongs to the braggadocio of the juggler at a fair, and, at the 
same time, to the humility of a beggar on the highway: "Pupil of 
Talma ! Monsieur ! I am a pupil of Talma ! Fortune once smiled 
on me. Alas ! now it is the turn of misfortune. Look, my benefactor, 
no bread, no fire. My poor darlings have no fire ! My only chair un- 
seated ! A broken window ! in such weather as is this ! My spouse in 
bed! sick!" 

"Poor woman!" said Monsieur Leblanc. 

"My child injured!" added Jondrette. 

The child, whose attention had been diverted by the arrival of the 
strangers, was staring at "the young lady," and had ceased her sobbing. 

"Why don't you cry ? why don't you scream ?" said Jondrette to her 
in a whisper. 

At the same time he pinched her injured hand. All this with the 
skill of a juggler. 

288 Les Miserables 

The little one uttered loud cries. 

The adorable young girl whom Marius in his heart called *^his 
Ursula'' went quickly to her : 

^'Poor, dear child!'' said she. 

^^Look, my beautiful young lady," pursued Jondrette, ^^her bleeding 
wrist ! It is an accident which happened in working at a machine by 
which she earned six sous a day. It may be necessary to cut off her 

^'Indeed !" said the old gentleman alarmed. 

The little girl, taking this seriously, began to sob again beautifully. 

"Alas, yes, my benefactor !" answered the father. 

For some moments, Jondrette had been looking at "the philan- 
thropist" in a strange manner. Even while speaking, he seemed to 
scrutinise him closely as if he were trying to recall some reminiscence. 
Suddenly, taking advantage of a moment when the new-comers were 
anxiously questioning the smaller girl about her mutilated hand, he 
passed over to his wife who was lying in her bed, appearing to be over- 
whelmed and stupid, and said to her quickly and in a very low tone: 

"Notice that man !" 

Then turning towards M. Leblanc, and continuing his lamentation: 

"You see, monsieur ! my whole dress is nothing but a chemise of my 
wife's ! and that all torn ! in the heart of winter. I cannot go out, for 
lack of a coat. If I had a sign of a coat, I should go to see Mademoi- 
selle Mars, who knows me, and of whom I am a great favourite. She 
is still living in the Eue de la Tour des Dames, is not she? You 
know, monsieur, we have played together in the provinces. I shared 
her laurels. But no, nothing ! And not a sou in the house ! My 
wife sick, not a sou! My daughter dangerously injured, not a sou! 
My spouse has choking fits. It is her time of life, and the nervous 
system has something to do with it. She needs aid, and my daughter 
also ! But the doctor ! but the druggist ! how can I pay them ! not a 
penny! I would fall on my knees before a penny, monsieur! You 
see how the arts are fallen ! Well, monsieur, my worthy monsieur, do 
you know what is going to happen to-morrow? To-morrow is the 4th 
of February, the fatal day, the last delay that my landlord will give 
me ; if I do not pay him this evening, to-morrow my eldest daughter, 
myself, my spouse with her fever, my child with her wound, we shall 

Marius 289 

all four be turned out of doors, and driven off into the street, upon 
the boulevard, without shelter, into the rain, upon the snow. You see, 
monsieur, I owe four quarters, a year ! that is sixty francs." 

Jondrette lied. Four quarters would have made but forty francs, 
and he could not have owed for four, since it was not six months since 
Marius had paid for two. 

M. Leblanc took ^ve francs from his pocket and threw them on the 

Jondrette had time to mutter into the ear of his elder daughter: 

"The whelp ! what does he think I am going to do with his five 
francs? That will not pay for my chair and my window! I must 
make my expenses !'' 

Meantime, M. Leblanc had taken off a large brown overcoat which 
he wore over his blue surtout, and hung it over the back of the chair. 

"Monsieur Fabantou,'' said he, "I have only these five francs with 
me ; but I am going to take my daughter home, and I will return this 
evening ; is it not this evening that you have to pay ?" 

Jondrette's face lighted up with a strange expression. He answered 
quickly : 

"Yes, my noble monsieur. At eight o'clock, I must be at my land- 

"I will be here at six o'clock, and I will bring you the sixty francs." 

"My benefactor!" cried Jondrette, distractedly. 

And he added in an undertone: 

"Take a good look at him, wife !" 

M. Leblanc took the arm of the beautiful young girl, and turned 
towards the door: 

"Till this evening, my friends," said he. 

"Six o'clock," said Jondrette. 

"Six o'clock precisely." 

Just then the overcoat on the chair caught the eye of the elder 

"Monsieur," said she, "you forget your coat." 

Jondrette threw a crushing glance at his daughter, accompanied by 
a terrible shrug of the shoulders. 

M. Leblanc turned and answered with a smile: 

"I do not forget it, I leave it." 

290 Les Miserables 

"0 my patron," said Jondrette, "my noble benefactor, I am melting 
into tears ! Allow me to conduct you to your carriage." 

"If you go out," replied M. Leblanc, "put on this overcoat. It is 
really very cold." 

Jondrette did not make him say it twice. He put on the brown 
overcoat very quickly. 

And they went out all three, Jondrette preceding the two strangers. 


Marius had lost nothing of all this scene, and yet in reality he had 
seen nothing of it. His eyes had remained fixed upon the young girl, 
his heart had, so to speak, seized upon her and enveloped her entirely, 
from her first step into the garret. 

While the young girl was opening the bundle, unfolding the clothes 
and the coverlids, questioning the sick mother kindly and the little 
injured girl tenderly, he watched all her motions, he endeavoured to 
hear her words. He knew her eyes, her forehead, her beauty, her 
stature, her gait, he did not know the sound of her voice. He thought 
he had caught a few words of it once at the Luxembourg, but he was 
not absolutely sure. He would have given ten years of his life to hear 
it, to be able to carry a little of that music in his soul. But all was 
lost in the wretched displays and trumpet blasts of Jondrette. 
This added a real anger to the transport of Marius. He brooded her 
with his eyes. He could not imagine that it really was that divine 
creature which he saw in the midst of the misshapen beings of this 
monstrous den. He seemed to see a humming-bird among toads. 

When he went out, he had but one thought, to follow her, not to give 
up her track, not to leave her without knowing where she lived, not to 
lose her again, at least, after having so miraculously found her ! He 
leaped down from the bureau and took his hat. As he was putting his 
hand on the bolt, and was just going out, he reflected and stopped. 
The hall was long, the stairs steep, Jondrette a great talker, M. Leblanc 
doubtless had not yet got into his carriage ; if he should turn round in 
the passage or on the stairs, or on the doorstep, and perceive him, 
Marius, in that house, he would certainly be alarmed and would find 
means to escape him anew, and it would be all over at once. What 

Marius 291 

was to be done ? wait a little ? but during the delay the carriage might 
go. Marius was perplexed. At last he took the risk and went out of 
his room. 

There was nobody in the hall. He ran to the stairs. There was 
nobody on the stairs. He hurried down, and reached the boulevard in 
time to see a fiacre turn the corner of the Kue du Petit Banquier and 
return into the city. 

Marius rushed in that direction. When he reached the corner of 
the boulevard, he saw the fiacre again going rapidly down the Rue 
Mouffetard; the fiacre was already at a long distance, there was no 
means of reaching it; what should he do? run after it? impossible; 
and then from the carriage they would certainly notice a man running 
at full speed in pursuit of them, and the father would recognise him. 
Just at this moment, marvellous and unheard-of good fortune, Marius 
saw a public cab passing along the boulevard, empty. There was but 
one course to take, to get into this cab, and follow the fiacre. That was 
sure, effectual, and without danger. 

Marius made a sign to the driver to stop, and cried to him : 

"Right away!" 

Marius had no cravat, he had on his old working coat, some of the 
buttons of which were missing, and his shirt was torn in one of the 
plaits of the bosom. 

The driver stopped, winked, and reached his left hand towards 
Marius, rubbing his forefinger gently with his thumb. 

"What V said Marius. 

"Pay in advance," said the driver. 

Marius remembered that he had only sixteen sous with him. 

"How much ?" he asked. 

"Forty sous." 

"I will pay when I get back." 

The driver made no reply, but to whistle an air from La Palisse and 
whip up his horse. 

Marius saw the cab move away with a bewildered air. Pbr the want 
of twenty-four sous he was losing his joy, his happiness, his love ! he 
was falling back into night! he had seen, and he was again becoming 
blind. He thought bitterly, and it must indeed be said, with deep 
regret, of the five francs he had given that very morning to that mis- 

292 Les Miserables 

erable girl. Had he had those five francs he would have been saved, 
he would have been bom again, he would have come out of limbo and 
darkness, he would have come out of his isolation, his spleen, his be- 
reavement ; he would have again knotted the black thread of his destiny 
with that beautiful golden thread which had just floated before his 
eyes and broken off once more! He returned to the old tenement in 

He might have thought that M. Leblanc had promised to return in 
the evening, and that he had only to take better care to follow then; 
but in his wrapt contemplation he had hardly understood it. 

Just as he went up the stairs, he noticed on the other side of the 
boulevard, beside the deserted wall of the Rue de la Barriere des 
Gobelins, Jondrette in the "philanthropist's" overcoat, talking to one 
of those men of dangerous appearance, who, by common consent, are 
called prowlers of the harrieres; men of equivocal faces, suspicious 
speech, who have an appearance of evil intentions, and who usually 
sleep by day, which leads us to suppose that they work by night. 

These two men quietly talking while the snow was whirling about 
them in its fall made a picture which a policeman certainly would have 
observed, but which Marius hardly noticed. 

^N'evertheless, however mournful was the subject of his reflections, 
he could not help saying to himself that this prowler of the harrieres 
with whom Jondrette was talking, resembled a certain Panchaud, alias 
Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, whom Courfeyrac had once pointed out to 
him, and who passed in the quartier for a very dangerous night- 


Marius mounted the stairs of the old tenement with slow steps; just 
as he was going into his cell, he perceived in the hall behind him the 
elder Jondrette girl, who was following him. This girl was odious to 
his sight ; it was she who had his ^ye francs, it was too late to ask her 
for them, the cab was there no longer, the fiacre was far away. More- 
over she would not give them back to him. As to questioning her about 
the address of the people who had just come, that was useless ; it was 

Marius 293 

plain that she did not know, since the letter signed Fabantou was ad- 
dressed to the beneficent gentleman of the Church Saint Jacques du 
Haut Pas. 

Marius went into his room and pushed to his door behind him. 

It did not close; he turned and saw a hand holding the door partly 

"What is it ?" he asked ; ''who is there ?" 

It was the Jondrette girl. 

"Is it you?" said Marius almost harshly, "you again? What do 
you want of me ?" 

She seemed thoughtful and did not look at him. She had lost the 
assurance which she had had in the morning. She did not come in, 
but stopped in the dusky hall, where Marius perceived her through the 
half-open door. 

"Come now, will you answer ?" said Marius. "What is it you want 
of me ?" 

She raised her mournful eyes, in which a sort of confused light 
seemed to shine dimly, and said to him: 

"Monsieur Marius, you look sad. What is the matter with you?" 

"With me ?" 

"Yes, you." 

"There is nothing the matter with me." 

"Yes !" 


"I tell you there is!" 

"Let me be quiet!" 

Marius pushed the door anew, she still held it back. 

"Stop," said she, "you are wrong. Though you may not be rich, 
you were good this morning. Be so again now. You gave me some- 
thing to eat, tell me now what ails you. 

An idea came into Marius' mind. What straw do we despise when 
we feel that we are sinking. 

He approached the girl. 

"Listen," said he to her, kindly. 

She interrupted him with a flash of joy in her eyes. 

"Oh ! yes, talk softly to me ! I like that better." 

294 Les Miserables 

"Well/' resumed he, "you brought this old gentleman here with his 


"Do you know their address ?" 


"Find it for me." 

The girFs eyes, which had been gloomy, had become joyful; they 
now became dark. 

"Is that what you want ?" she asked. 

She looked steadily at him. 

"What will you give me ?" 

"Anything you wish !" 

"Anything I wish ?" 


"You shall have the address." 

She looked down, and then with a hasty movement closed the door. 

Marius was alone. 

He dropped into a chair, with his head and both elbows on the bed, 
swallowed up in thoughts which he could not grasp, and as if he were 
in a fit of vertigo. All that had taken place since morning, the ap- 
pearance of the angel, her disappearance, what this poor creature had 
just said to him, a gleam of hope floating in an ocean of despair, — all 
this was confusedly crowding his brain. 

Suddenly he was violently awakened from his reverie. 

He heard the loud, harsh voice of Jondrette pronounce these words 
for him, full of the strangest interest: 

"I tell you that I am sure of it, and that I recognised him !" 

Of whom was Jondrette talking? he had recognised whom? M. 
Leblanc? the father of "his Ursula?" What! did Jondrette know 
him ? was Marius just about to get in this sudden and unexpected way 
all the information the lack of which made his life obscure to himself ? 
was he as last to know whom he loved, who that young girl was ? who 
her father was ? was the thick shadow which enveloped them to be rolled 
away ? was the veil to be rent ? Oh ! heavens ! 

He sprang, rather than mounted, upon the bureau, and resumed his 
place near the little aperture in the partition. 

He again saw the interior of the Jondrette dea. 

Marius 295 


Nothing had changed in the appearance of the family, except that the 
wife and daughters had opened the package, and put on the woollen 
stockings and underclothes. Two new coverlids were thrown over the 
two beds. 

Jondrette had evidently just come in. He had not yet recovered his 
regular breathing. His daughters were sitting on the floor near the 
fireplace, the elder binding up the hand of the younger. His wife lay 
as if exhausted upon the pallet near the fireplace, with an astonished 
countenance. Jondrette was walking up and down the garret with 
rapid strides. His eyes had an extraordinary look. 

The woman, who seemed timid and stricken with stupor before her 
husband, ventured to say to him: 

"What, really? you are sure?" 

"Sure! It was eight years ago! but I recognise him! Ah! I 
recognise him! I recognised him immediately. What! it did not 
strike you?" 

"And yet I told you to pay attention. But it is the same height, 
the same face, hardly any older ; there are some men who do not grow 
old ; I don't know how they do it ; it is the same tone of voice. He is 
better dressed, that is all ! Ah ! mysterious old devil, I have got you, 
all right!" 

He checked himself, and said to his daughters : 

"You go out ! It is queer that it did not strike your eye." 

They got up to obey. 

The mother stammered out: 

"With her sore hand ?" 

"The air will do her good," said Jondrette. "Go along." 

It was clear that this man was one of those to whom there is no reply. 
The two girls went out. 

Just as they were passing the door, the father caught the elder by the 
arm, and said with a peculiar tone: 

"You will be here at five o'clock precisely. Both of you. I shall 
need you." 

296 Les Miserables 

Marius redoubled his attention. 

Alone with his wife, Jondrette began to walk the room again, and 
took two or three turns in his silence. Then he spent a few minutes in 
tucking the bottom of the woman's chemise which he wore into the 
waist of his trousers. 

Suddenly he turned towards the woman, folded his arms, and ex- 
claimed : 

"And do you want I should tell you one thing? the young lady — " 

"Well, what?'' said the woman, "the young lady?" 

Marius could doubt no longer, it was indeed of her that they were 
talking. He listened with an intense anxiety. His whole life was 
concentrated in his ears. 

But Jondrette stooped down, and whispered to his wife. Then he 
straightened up and finished aloud: 

"It is she !" 

"That girl?" said the wife. 

"That girl!" said the husband. 

No words could express what there was in the that girl of the 
mother. It was surprise, rage, hatred, anger, mingled and combined 
in a monstrous intonation. The few words that had been spoken, 
some name, doubtless, which her husband had whispered in her ear, 
had been enough to rouse this huge drowsy woman and to change her 
repulsiveness to hideousness. 

"Impossible!" she exclaimed, "when I think that my daughters go 
barefoot and have not a dress to put on! What! a satin pelisse, a 
velvet hat, buskins, and all ! more than two hundred francs worth ! one 
would think she was a lady! no, you are mistaken! why, in the first 
place she was horrid, this one is not bad ! she is really not bad ! it can- 
not be she !" 

"I tell you it is she. You will see." 

At this absolute affirmation, the woman raised her big red and blond 
face and looked at the ceiling with a hideous expression. At that mo- 
ment she appeared to Marius still more terrible than her husband. 
She was a swine with the look of a tigress. 

"What!" she resumed, "this horrible beautiful young lady who 
looked at my girls with an appearance of pity, can she be that beggar ! 
Oh, I would like to stamp her heart out 1" 

Marius 297 

She sprang off the bed, and remained a moment standing, her hair 
flying, her nostrils distended, her mouth half open, her fists clenched 
and drawn back. Then she fell back upon the pallet. The man still 
walked back and forth, paying no attention to his female. 

After a few moments of silence, he approached her and stopped be- 
fore her, with folded arms, as before. 

"And do you want I should tell you one thing?" 

"What V' she asked. 

He answered in a quick and low voice: 

"My fortune is made." 

The woman stared at him with that look which means: Has the 
man who is talking to me gone crazy ? 

"What do you mean?" asked the woman. 

He shook his head, winked and lifted his voice like a street doctor 
about to make a demonstration: 

"What do I mean ? listen !" 

"Hist!" muttered the woman, "not so loud! if it means business 
nobody must hear." 

"Pshaw! who is there to hear? our neighbour? I saw him go out 
just now. Besides, does he hear, the great stupid ? and then I tell you 
that I saw him go out." 

- Nevertheless, by a sort of instinct, Jondrette lowered his voice, not 
enough however, for his words to escape Marius. A favourable cir- 
cumstance, and one which enabled Marius to lose nothing of this con- 
versation, was that the fallen snow deafened the sound of the carriages 
on the boulevard. 

Marius heard this: 

"Listen attentively. He is caught, the Croesus! it is all right. It 
is already done. Everything is arranged. I have seen the men. He 
will come this evening at six o^clock. To bring his sixty francs, the 
rascal! did you see how I got that out, my sixty francs, my landlord, 
my 4th of February ! it is not even a quarter ! was that stupid ! He 
will come then at six o'clock! our neighbour is gone to dinner then. 
Mother Bougon is washing dishes in the city. There is nobody in the 
house. Our neighbour never comes back before eleven o'clock. The 
girls will stand watch. You shall help us. He will be his own 

298 Les Miserables 

"And if he should not be his own executor," asked the wife. 

Jondrette made a sinister gesture and said; 

"We will execute him." 

And he burst into a laugh. 

It was the j&rst time that Marius had seen him laugh. This laugh 
was cold and feeble, and made him shudder. 

Jondrette opened a closet near the chimney, took out an old cap 
and put it on his head after brushing it with his sleeve. 

"Now," said he, "I am going out. I have still some men to see. 
Some good ones. You will see how it is going to work. I shall be 
back as soon as possible, it is a great hand to play, look out for the 

And with his two fists in the two pockets of his trousers, he stood 
a moment in thought, then exclaimed: 

"Do you know that it is very lucky indeed that he did not recognise 
me ? If he had been the one to recognise me he would not have come 
back. He would escape us! It is my beard that saved me! my ro- 
mantic beard ! my pretty little romantic beard !" 

And he began to laugh again. 

He went to the window. The snow was still falling, and blotted 
out the grey sky. 

"What villainous weather !" said he. 

Then folding his coat : 

"The skin is too large. It is all the same," added he, "he did 
devilish well to leave it for me, the old scoundrel! Without this I 
should not have been able to go out and the whole thing would have 
been spoiled ! But on what do things hang !" 

And pulling his cap over his eyes, he went out. 

Hardly had he had time to take a few steps in the hall, when the 
door opened and his tawny and cunning face again appeared. 

"I forget," said he. "You will have a charcoal fire." 

And he threw into his wife's apron the five-franc piece which the 
"philanthropist" had left him. 

"A charcoal fire ?" asked the woman. 


"How many bushels ?" 

"Two good ones." 

Marius 299 

"That will be thirty sous. With the rest, I will buy something for 

"The devil, no." 


"The piece of a hundred sous is not to be spent." 


"Because I shall have something to buy." 



"How much will you need?" 

"Where is there a tool store near here ?" 

"Kue Mouffetard." 

"Oh ! yes, at the corner of some street ; I see the shop." 

"But tell me now how much you will need for what you have to 

"Fifty sous or three francs." 

"There won't be much left for dinner." 

^Don't bother about eating to-day. There is better business." 

That is enough, my jewel." 

At this word from his wife, Jondrette closed the door, and Marius 
heard his steps recede along the hall and go rapidly down the stairs. 

Just then the clock of Saint Medard struck one. 



Marius^ all dreamer as he was, was, as we have said, of a firm and 
energetic nature. His habits of solitary meditation, while developing 
sympathy and compassion in him, had perhaps diminished his liability 
to become irritated, but left intact the faculty of indignation; he had 
the benevolence of a brahmin and the severity of a judge; he would 
have pitied a toad, but he would have crushed a viper. Now, it was 
into a viper's hole that he had just been looking ; it was a nest of mon- 
sters that he had before his eyes. 

"I must put my foot on these wretches," said he. 

!N"one of the enigmas which he hoped to see unriddled were yet 
cleared up; on the contrary, all had perhaps become still darker; he 


300 Les Miserables 

knew nothing more of the beautiful child of the Luxembourg or of the 
man whom he called M. Leblanc, except that Jondrette knew them. 
Across the dark words which had been uttered, he saw distinctly but 
one thing, that an ambuscade was preparing, an ambuscade obscure, 
but terrible; that they were both running a great risk, she probably, 
her father certainly ; that he must foil the hideous combinations of the 
Jondrettes and break the web of these spiders. 

He looked for a moment at the female Jondrette. She had pulled 
an old sheet-iron furnace out of a corner and she ,was fumbling among 
the old iron. 

He got down from the bureau as quietly as he could, taking care to 
make no noise. 

In the midst of his dread at what was in preparation, and the horror 
with which the Jondrettes had inspired him, he felt a sort of joy at 
the idea that it would perhaps be given to him to render so great a 
service to her whom he loved. 

But what was he to do ? warn the persons threatened ? where should 
he find them ? He did not know their address. They had reappeared 
to his eyes for an instant, then they had again plunged into the 
boundless depths of Paris. Wait at the door for M. Leblanc at six 
o'clock in the evening, the time when he would arrive, and warn him 
of the plot ? But Jondrette and his men would see him watching, the 
place was solitary, they would be stronger than he, they would find 
means to seize him or get him out of the way, and he whom Marius 
wished to save would be lost. One o'clock had just struck, the am- 
buscade was to be carried out at six. Marius had ^Ye hours before 

There was but one thing to be done. 

He put on his presentable coat, tied a cravat about his neck, took 
his hat, and went out, without making any more noise than if he had 
been walking barefooted upon moss. 

Besides the Jondrette woman was still fumbling over her old iron. 

Once out of the house, he went to the Bue du Petit Banquier. 

He was about midway of that street near a very low wall which he 
could have stepped over in some places and which bordered a broad 
field, he was walking slowly, absorbed in his thoughts as he was, and 
the snow deafened his steps; all at once he heard voices talking very 

© Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 



Marius 301 

near him. He turned his head, the street was empty, there was no- 
body in it, it was broad daylight, and yet he heard voices distinctly. 

It occurred to him to look over this wall. 

There were in fact two men there with their backs to the wall, 
seated in the snow, and talking in a low tone. 

These two forms were unknown to him, one was a bearded man in a 
blouse, and the other a long-haired man in tatters. The bearded man 
had on a Greek cap, the other was bareheaded, and there was snow in 
his hair. 

By bending his head over above them, Marius could hear. 

The long-haired one jogged the other with his elbow, and said: 

"With Patron-Minette, it can't fail." 

"Do you think so ?" said the bearded one ; and the long-haired one 
replied : 

"It will be a fafiot of five hundred halles for each of us, and the 
worst that can happen : five years, six years, -ten years at most !" 

The other answered hesitatingly, shivering under his Greek cap: 

"Yes, it is a real thing. We can't go against such things." 

"I tell you that the affair can't fail," replied the long-haired one. 
"Father What's-his-name's maringotte will be harnessed." 

Then they began to talk about a melodrama which they had seen 
the evening before at La Gaite. 

Marius went on his way. 

It seemed to him that the obscure words of these men, so strangely 
hidden behind that wall, and crouching down in the snow, were not 
perhaps without some connection with Jondrette's terrible projects. 
That must be the affair. 

He went towards the Faubourg Saint Marceau, and asked at the 
first shop in his way where he could find a commissary of police. 

^Number 14, Rue de Pontoise, was pointed out to him. 

Marius went thither. 

Passing a baker's shop, he bought a two-sou loaf and ate it, foreseeing 
that he would have no dinner. 

On his way he rendered to Providence its due. He thought that if 
he had not given his five francs to the Jondrette girl in the morning, 
he would have followed M. Leblanc's fiacre, and consequently known 
nothing of this, so that there would have been no obstacle to the am- 

302 Les Miserables 

buscade of the Jondrettes, and M. Leblanc would have been lost, and 
doubtless his daughter with him. 


On reaching N'umber 14 Eue de Pontoise, he went up stairs and asked 
for the commissary of police. 

'^The commissary of police is not in," ^aid one of the office boys; 
^^but there is an inspector who answers for him. Would you like to 
speak to him ? is it urgent ?" 

"Yes," said Marius. 

The office boy introduced him into the commissary's private room. 
A man of tall stature was standing there, behind a railing, in front 
of a stove, and holding up with both hands the flaps of a huge over- 
coat with three capes. He had a square face, a thin and firm mouth, 
very fierce, bushy, greyish whiskers, and an eye that would turn your 
pockets inside out. You might have said of this eye, not that it pene- 
trated, but that it ransacked. 

This man's appearance was not much less ferocious or formidable 
than Jondrette's; ,it is sometimes no less startling to meet the dog 
than the wolf. 

"What do you wish ?" said he to Marius, without adding monsieur. 

"The commissary of police ?" 

"He is absent. I answer for him." 

"It is a very secret affair." 

"Speak, then." 

"And very urgent." 

"Then speak quickly." 

This man, calm and abrupt, was at the same time alarming and re- 
assuring. He inspired fear and confidence. Marius related his ad- 
venture. — That a person whom he only knew by sight was to be drawn 
into an ambuscade that very evening ; that occupying the room next the 
place, he, Marius Pontmercy, attorney, had heard the whole plot through 
the partition ; that the scoundrel who had contrived the plot was named 
Jondrette ; that he had accomplices, probably prowlers of the barrieres, 
among others a certain Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille; 
that Jondrette's daughters would stand watch ; that there was no means 

Marius 3^3 

of warning the threatened man, as not even his name was known ; and 
finally, that all this was to be done at six o'clock that evening, at the 
most desolate spot on the Boulevard de I'Hopital, in the house num- 
bered 50-52. 

At that number the inspector raised his head, and said coolly : 

^^It is then in the room at the end of the hall V^ 

"Exactly,'^ said Marius, and he added, "Do you know that house ?" 

The inspector remained silent a moment, then answered, warming 
the heel of his boot at the door of the stove : 

"It seems so." 

He continued between his teeth, speaking less to Marius than to his 

"There ought to be a dash of Patron-Minette in this." 

That word struck Marius. 

"Patron-Minette," said he. "Indeed, I heard that word pro- 

And he related to the inspector the dialogue between the long- 
haired man and the bearded man in the snow behind the wall on the 
Rue du Petit Banquier. 

The inspector muttered : 

"The long-haired one must be Brujon, and the bearded one must be 
Demi-Liard, alias Deux-Milliards." 

He had dropped his eyes again, and was considering. 

"As to the Father What's-his-name, I have a suspicion of who he 
is. There, I have burnt my coat. They always make too much fire 
in these cursed stoves. I^umber 50-52. Old Gorbeau property." 

Then he looked at Marius : 

"You have seen only this bearded man and this long-haired man?" 

"And Panchaud." 

"You did not see a sort of little devilish rat prowling about there ?" 


"N'or a great, big, clumsy heap, like the elephant in the Jardin des 


"ISTor a villain who has the appearance of an old red cue ?" 


"As to the fourth, nobody sees him, not even his helpers, clerks, 

304 Les Miserables 

and agents. It is not very surprising that you did not see him." 

"No. What are all these beings ?" inquired Marius. 

The inspector answered: 

"And then it is not their hour." 

He relapsed into silence, then resumed: 

"i^o. 50-52. I know the shanty. Impossible to hide ourselves in 
the interior without the artists perceiving us, then they would leave 
and break up the play. They are so modest ! the public annoys them. 
^NTone of that, none of that. I want to hear them sing, and make them 

This monologue finished, he turned towards Marius and asked him, 
looking steadily at him : 

"Will you be afraid ?" 

"Of what ?" said Marius. 

"Of these men ?" 

"No more than of you !" replied Marius rudely, who began to notice 
that this police spy had not yet called him monsieur. 

The inspector looked at Marius still more steadily, and continued 
with a sententious solemnity: 

"You speak now like a brave man and an honest man. Courage 
does not fear crime, and honesty does not fear authority." 

Marius interrupted him: 

"That is well enough; but what are you going to do?" 

The inspector merely answered: 

"The lodgers in that house have latch-keys to get in with at night. 
You must have one ?" 

"Yes," said Marius. 

"Have you it with you ?" 


"Give it to me," said the inspector. 

Marius took his key from his waistcoat, handed it to the inspector, 
and added: 

"If you trust me, you will come in force." 

The inspector threw a glance upon Marius such as Voltaire would 
have thrown upon a provincial academician who had proposed a 
rhyme to him; with a single movement he plunged both his hands, 
which were enormous, into the two immense pockets of his overcoat, 

Marius 305 

and took out two small steel pistols, of the kind called fisticuffs. He 
presented them to Marius, saying hastily and abruptly : 

^Take these. Go back home. Hide yourself in your room; let 
them think you have gone out. They are loaded. Each with two 
balls. You will watch; there is a hole in the wall, as you have told 
me. The men will come. Let them go on a little. When you deem 
the affair at a point, and when it is time to stop it, you will fire off a 
pistol. ISTot too soon. The rest is my affair. A pistol shot in the air, 
into the ceiling, no matter where. Above all, not too soon. Wait till 
the consummation is commenced; you are a lawyer, you know what 
that is." 

Marius took the pistols and put them in the side pocket of his coat. 

"They make a bunch that way, they show," said the inspector. 
"Put them in your fobs rather." 

Marius hid the pistols in his fobs. 

"ISTow," pursued the inspector, "there is not a minute to be lost by 
anybody. What time is it ? Half past two. It is at seven ?" 

"Six o'clock," said Marius. 

"I have time enough," continued the inspector, "but I have only 
enough. Forget nothing of what I have told you. Bang. A pistol 

"Be assured," answered Marius. 

And as Marius placed his hand on the latch of the door to go out, 
the inspector called to him : 

"By the way, if you need me between now and then, come or send 
here. You will ask for Inspector Javert." 



Maeius sat down on his bed. It might have been half-past five o'clock. 
A half-hour only separated him from what was to come. He heard 
his arteries beat as one hears the ticking of a watch in the dark. He 
thought of this double march that was going on that moment in the 
darkness, crime advancing on the one hand, justice coming on the 
other. He was not afraid, but he could not think without a sort of 
shudder of the things which were so soon to take place. To him, as to 

306 Les Miserables 

all those whom some surprising adventure has suddenly befallen, this 
whole day seemed but a dream; and, to assure himself that he was not 
the prey of a nightmare, he had to feel the chill of the two steel pistols 
in his fob-pockets. 

It was not now snowing; the moon, growing brighter and brighter, 
was getting clear of the haze, and its light, mingled with the white 
reflection from the fallen snow, gave the room a twilight appearance. 

There was a light in the Jondrette den. Marius saw the hole in the 
partition shine with a red gleam which appeared to him bloody. 

He was sure that this gleam could hardly be produced by a candle. 
However, there was no movement in their room, nobody was stirring 
there, nobody spoke, not a breath, the stillness was icy and deep, and 
save for that light he could have believed that he was beside a sepulchre. 

Marius took his boots off softly, and pushed them under his bed. 

Some minutes passed. Marius heard the lower door turn on its 
hinges ; a heavy and rapid step ascended the stairs and passed along the 
corridor, the latch of the garret was noisily lifted ; Jondrette came in. 

Several voices were heard immediately. The whole family was in 
the garret. Only they kept silence in the absence of the master, like 
the cubs in the absence of the wolf. 

"It is me,'' said he. 

"Good evening, peremuche/' squeaked the daughters. 

"Well !" said the mother. 

"All goes to a charm," answered Jondrette, "but my feet are as 
cold as a dog's. Good, that is right, you are dressed up. You must 
be able to inspire confidence." 

"All ready to go out." 

"You will forget nothing of what I told you ! you will do the whole 
of it?" 

"Rest assured about that." 

"Because — " said Jondrette. And he did not finish his sentence. 

Marius heard him put something heavy on the table. It was a 
chisel which he had bought. 

"Ah, ha !" said Jondrette, "have you been eating here ?" 

"Yes," said the mother, "I have had three big potatoes and some 
salt. I took advantage of the fire to cook them." 

"Well," replied Jondrette, "to-morrow I will take you to dine with 

Marius 307 

me. There will be a duck and the accompaniments. You shall dine 
like Charles X. ; everything is going well ?" 

Then he added, lowering his voice : 

^^The mouse-trap is open. The cats are ready." 

He lowered his voice still more, and said: 

"Put that into the fire." 

Marius heard a sound of charcoal, as if somebody was striking it 
with pincers or some iron tool, and Jondrette continued: 

"Have you greased the hinges of the door, so that they shall not 
make any noise ?" 

"Yes," answered the mother. 

"What time is it ?" 

"Six o'clock, almost. The half has just struck on Saint Medard." 

"The devil!" said Jondrette, "the girls must go and stand watch. 
Come here, you children, and listen to me." 

There was a whispering. 

Jondrette's voice rose again: 

"Has Burgon gone out?" 

"Yes," said the mother. 

"Are you sure there is nobody at home in our neighbour's room?" 

"He has not been back to-day, and you know that it is his dinner 

"You are sure?" 


"It is all the same," replied Jondrette; "there is no harm in 
going to see whether he is at home. Daughter, take the candle and 


Marius dropped on his hands and knees, and crept noiselessly under 
the bed. 

Hardly had he concealed himself, when he perceived a light through 
the cracks of his door. 

"P'pa," cried a voice, "he has gone out." 

He recognised the voice of the elder girl. 

"Have you gone in ?" asked the father. 

"No," answered the girl, "but as his key is in his door, he has gone 

The father cried: 

308 Les Miserables 

"Go in just the same." 

The door opened, and Marius saw the tall girl come in with a can- 
dle. She had the same appearance as in the morning, except that 
she was still more horrible in this light. 

She walked straight towards the bed. Marius had a moment of 
inexpressible anxiety, but there was a mirror nailed on the wall near 
the bed; it was to that she was going. She stretched up on tiptoe 
and looked at herself in it. A sound of old iron rattling was heard 
in the next room. 

She went to the window and looked out, speaking aloud in her half- 
crazy way. 

"How ugly Paris is when he puts a white shirt on!" said she. 

She returned to the mirror and renewed her grimaces, taking alter- 
nately front and three-quarter views of herself. 

"Well," cried her father, "what are you doing now ?" 

"I am looking under the bed and the furniture," answered she, 
continuing to arrange her hair; "there is nobody here." 

"Booby!" howled the father. "Here immediately, and let us lose 
no time." 

"I am coming! I am coming!" said she. "One has no time for 
anything in their shanty." 

She cast a last glance at the mirror, and went out, shutting the door 
after her. 

A moment afterwards, Marius heard the sound of the bare feet of 
the two young girls in the passage, and the voice of Jondrette crying 
to them. 

"Pay attention, now! one towards the barriere, the other at the 
corner of the Kue du Petit Banquier. Don't lose sight of the house 
door a minute, and if you see the least thing, here immediately ! tum- 
ble along ! You have a key to come in with." 

The elder daughter muttered: 

"To stand sentry barefoot in the snow!" 

"To-morrow you shall have boots of beetle colour silk!" said the 

They went down the stairs, and, a few seconds afterwards, 
the sound of the lower door shutting announced that they had gone 

Marius 309 


Marius judged that the time had come to resume his place at his 
observatory. In a twinkling, and with the agility of his age, he was 
at the hole in the partition. 

He looked in. 

The interior of the Jondrette apartment presented a singular ap- 
pearance, and Marius found the explanation of the strange light which 
he had noticed. A candle was burning in a verdigrised candlestick, 
but it was not that which really lighted the room. The entire den 
was, as it were, illuminated by the reflection of a large sheet iron fur- 
nace in the fireplace, which was filled with lighted charcoal. The 
fire which the female Jondrette had made ready in the daytime. The 
charcoal was burning and the furnace was red hot, a blue flame danced 
over it and helped to show the form of the chisel bought by Jondrette, 
which was growing ruddy among the coals. In a comer near the door, 
and arranged as if for anticipated use, were two heaps which appeared 
to be, one a heap of old iron, the other a heap of ropes. All this would 
have made one, who had known nothing of what was going forward, 
waver between a very sinister idea and a very simple idea. The room 
thus lighted up seemed rather a smithy than a mouth of hell; but 
Jondrette, in that glare, had rather the appearance of a demon than 
of a blacksmith. 

The heat of the glowing coals was such that the candle upon the 
table melted on the side towards the furnace and was burning fastest 
on that side. An old copper dark lantern, worthy of Diogenes turned 
Cartouche, stood upon the mantel. 

The furnace, which was set into the fireplace, beside the almost 
extinguished embers, sent its smoke into the flue of the chimney and 
exhaled no odour. 

The moon, shining through the four panes of the window, threw 
its whiteness into the ruddy and flaming garret ; and to Marius' poetic 
mind, a dreamer even in the moment of action, it was like a thought of 
heaven mingled with the shapeless nightmares of earth. 

Suddenly Jondrette raised his voice: 

"By the way, now, I think of it. In such weather as this he will 

310 Les Miserables 

come in a fiacre. Light the lantern, take it, and go down. You will 
stay there behind the lower door. The moment you hear the carriage 
stop, you will open immediately, he will come up, you will light him 
up the stairs and above the hall, and when he comes in here, you will 
go down again immediately, pay the driver, and send the fiacre away." 

"And the money?" asked the woman. 

Jondrette fumbled in his trousers and handed her ^Ye francs. 

"What is that?" she exclaimed. 

Jondrette answered with dignity: — 

"It is the monarch which our neighbour gave this morning." And 
he added: — 

"Do you know? we must have two chairs here." 

"What for?" 

"To sit in." 

Marius felt a shiver run down his back on hearing the woman make 
this quiet reply: — 

"Pardieu ! I will get our neighbour's." 

And with rapid movement she opened the door of the den, and went 
out into the hall. 

Marius physically had not the time to get down from the bureau, 
and go and hide himself under the bed. 

"Take the candle," cried Jondrette. 

"INTo," said she, "that would bother me ; I have two chairs to bring. 
It is moonlight." 

Marius heard the heavy hand of mother Jondrette groping after 
his key in the dark. The door opened. He stood nailed to his place 
by apprehension and stupor. 

The woman came in. 

The gable window let in a ray of moonlight, between two great sheets 
of shadow. One of these sheets of shadow entirely covered the wall 
against which Marius was leaning, so as to conceal him. 

The mother Jondrette raised her eyes, did not see Marius, took the 
two chairs, the only chairs which Marius had, and went out, slamming 
the door noisily behind her. 

She went back into the den. 

"Here are the two chairs." 

"And here is the lantern," said the husband. "Go down quick." 

Marius 311 

She hastily obeyed, and Jondrette was left alone. 

He arranged the two chairs on the two sides of the table, turned 
the chisel over 'in the fire, put an old screen in front of the fireplace, 
which concealed the furnace, then went to the corner where the heap 
of ropes was, and stooped down, as if to examine something. Marius 
then perceived that what he had taken for a shapeless heap, was a rope 
ladder, very well made, with wooden rounds, and two large hooks to 
hang it by. 

This ladder and a few big tools, actual masses of iron, which were 
thrown upon the pile of old iron heaped up behind the door, were not 
in the Jondrette den in the morning, and had evidently been brought 
there in the afternoon, during Marius' absence. 

"Those are smith's tools," thought Marius. 

Had Marius been a little better informed in this line, he would have 
recognised, in what he took for smith's tools, certain instruments 
capable of picking a lock or forcing a door, and others capable of cutting 
or hacking, — the two families of sinister tools, which thieves call cadets 
and fauchants. 

The fireplace and the table, with the two chairs, were exactly op- 
posite Marius. The furnace was hidden; the room was now lighted 
only by the candle ; the least thing upon the table or the mantel made 
a great shadow. A broken water-pitcher masked the half of one wall. 
There was in the room a calm which was inexpressibly hideous and 
threatening. The approach of some appalling thing could be felt. 

Jondrette had let his pipe go out — a sure sign that he was intensely 
absorbed — and had come back and sat down. The candle made the 
savage ends and corners of his face stand out prominently. There 
were contractions of his brows, and abrupt openings of his right hand, as 
if he were replying to the last counsels of a dark interior monologue. 
In one of these obscure replies which he was making to himself, he 
drew the table drawer out quickly towards him, took out a long carving 
knife which was hidden there, and tried its edge on his nail. This 
done, he put the knife back into the drawer, and shut it. 

Marius, for his part, grasped the pistol which was in his right fob 
pocket, took it out, and cocked it. 

The pistol in cocking gave a little clear, sharp sound. 

Jondrette started, and half rose from bis chair. 

312 Les Miserables 

"Who is there?" cried he. 

Marius held his breath; Jondrette listened a moment, then began 
to laugh, saying: — 

"What a fool I am ? It is the partition cracking." 
Marius kept the pistol in his hand. 


Just then the distant and melancholy vibration of a bell shook the 
windows. Six o'clock struck on Saint Medard. 

Jondrette marked each stroke with a nod of his head. At the sixth 
stroke, he snuffed the candle with his fingers. 

Then he began to walk about the room, listened in the hall, walked, 
listened again : "Provided he comes !" muttered he ; then he returned 
to his chair. 

He had hardly sat down when the door opened. 

The mother Jondrette had opened it, and stood in the hall making 
a horrible, amiable grimace, which was lighted up from beneath by 
one of the holes of the dark lantern. 

"Walk in," said she. 

"Walk in, my benefactor," repeated Jondrette, rising precipitately. 

Monsieur Leblanc appeared. 

He had an air of serenity which made him singularly venerable. 

He laid four louis upon the table. 

"Monsieur Fabantou," said he, "that is for your rent and your 
pressing wants. We will see about the rest." 

"God reward you, my gracious benefactor!" said Jondrette, and 
rapidly approaching his wife: 

"Send away the fiacre !" 

She slipped away, while her husband was lavishing bows and offering 
a chair to Monsieur Leblanc. A moment afterwards she came back 
and whispered in his ear: 

"It is done." 

The snow which had been falling ever since morning, was so deep 
that they had not heard the fiacre arrive, and did not hear it go away. 

Meanwhile Monsieur Leblanc had taken a seat. 

Marius 313 

Jondrette had taken possession of the other chair opposite Monsieur 

Now, to form an idea of the scene which follows, let the reader call 
to mind the chilly night, the solitudes of La Salpetriere covered with 
snow, and white in the moonlight, like immense shrouds, the flickering 
light of the street lamps here and there reddening these tragic boule- 
vards and the long rows of black elms, not a passer perhaps within a 
mile around, the Gorbeau tenement at its deepest degree of silence, 
horror, and night, in that tenement, in the midst of these solitudes, 
in the midst of this darkness, the vast Jondrette garret lighted by a 
candle, and in this den two men seated at a table. Monsieur Leblanc 
tranquil, Jondrette smiling and terrible, his wife, the wolf dam, in a 
comer, and, behind the partition, Marius, invisible, alert, losing no 
word, losing no movement, his eye on the watch, the pistol in his 

Marius, moreover, was experiencing nothing but an emotion of hor- 
ror, no fear. He clasped the butt of the pistol, and felt reassured. 
"I shall stop this wretch when I please," thought he. 

He felt that the police was somewhere near by in ambush, awaiting 
the signal agreed upon, and all ready to stretch out its arm. 

He hoped, moreover, that from this terrible meeting between Jon- 
drette and Monsieur Leblanc some light would be thrown upon all that 
he was interested to know. 


No sooner was Monsieur Leblanc seated than he turned his eyes towards 
the empty pallets. 

"How does the poor little injured girl do ?" he inquired. 

"Badly,'' answered Jondrette with a doleful yet grateful smile, "very 
badly, my worthy monsieur. Her eldest sister has taken her to the 
Bourbe to have her arm dressed. You will see them, they will be 
back directly." 

"Madame Fabantou appears to me much better ?" resumed Monsieur 
Leblanc, casting his eyes upon the grotesque accoutrement of the 
female Jondrette, who, standing between him and the door, as if she 

314 Les Miserables 

were already guarding the exit, was looking at him in a threatening 
and almost a defiant posture. 

^^She is dying," said Jondrette. "But you see, monsieur! she 
has so much courage, that woman! She is not a woman, she is an 

The woman, touched hy the compliment, retorted with the smirk of 
a flattered monster: 

"You are always too kind to me, Monsieur Jondrette." 

"Jondrette!" said M. Leblanc. "I thought that your name was 

"Fabantou or Jondrette!" replied the husband hastily. "Sobriquet 
as an artist!" 

And, directing a shrug of the shoulders towards his wife, which M. 
Leblanc 'did not see, he continued with an emphatic and caressing tone 
of voice : 

"Ah ! how well we have always got along together, this poor dear 
and I ? What would be left to us, if it were not for that ? We are so 
unfortunate, my respected monsieur ! We have arms, no labour ! We 
have courage, no work ! I do not know how the government arranges 
it, but, upon my word of honour, I am no Jacobin, monsieur, I am a 
brawler, I wish them no harm, but if I were the ministers, upon my 
most sacred word, it would go differently. 

While Jondrette was talking, with an apparent disorder which de- 
tracted nothing from the crafty and cunning expression of his phy- 
siognomy, Marius raised his eyes, and perceived at the back of the 
room somebody whom he had not before seen. A man had come in 
so noiselessly that nobody had heard the door turn on its hinges. This 
man had a knit woollen waistcoat of violet colour, old, worn-out, stained, 
cut, and showing gaps at all its folds, full trousers of cotton velvet, 
socks on his feet, no shirt, his neck bare, his arms bare and tattooed, 
and his face stained black. He sat down in silence and with folded 
arms on the nearest bed, and as he kept behind the woman, he was 
distinguished only with difficulty. 

That kind of magnetic instinct which warns the eye made M. Le- 
blanc turn almost at the same time with Marius. He could not help 
a movement of surprise, which did not escape Jondrette : 

"Ah! I see!" exclaimed Jondrette, buttoning up his coat with a 

Marius 315 

complacent air, "you are looking at your overcoat. It's a fit ! my faith, 
it's a fit!'' 

"Who is that man ?" said M. Leblanc. 

"That man?" said Jondrette, "that is a neighbour. Pay no atten- 
tion to him." 

The neighbour had a singular appearance. However, factories of 
chemical products abound in the Faubourg Saint Marceau. Many 
machinists might have their faces blacked. The whole person of M. 
Leblanc, moreover, breathed a candid and intrepid confidence. He 
resumed : 

^Tardon me ; what were you saying to me, Monsieur Fabantou ?" 

"I was telling you, monsieur and dear patron," replied Jondrette, 
leaning his elbows on the table, and gazing at M. Leblanc with fixed 
and tender eyes, similar to the eyes of a boa constrictor, "I was telling 
you that I had a picture to sell." 

A slight noise was made at the door. A second man entered, and sat 
down on the bed behind the female Jondrette. He had his arjis bare, 
like the first, and a mask of ink or of soot. 

Although this man had, literally, slipped into the room, he could 
not prevent M. Leblanc from perceiving him. 

"Do not mind them," said Jondrette. "They are people of the 
house. I was telling you, then, that I have a valuable painting left. 
Here, monsieur, look." 

He got up, went to the wall, at the foot of which stood the panel 
of which we have spoken, and turned it round, still leaving it resting 
against the wall. It was something, in fact, that resembled a picture, 
and which the candle scarcely revealed. Marius could make nothing 
out of it, Jondrette being between him and the picture; he merely 
caught a glimpse of a coarse daub, with a sort of principal personage, 
coloured in the crude and glaring style of strolling panoramas and 
paintings upon screens. 

"What is that ?" asked M. Leblanc. 

Jondrette exclaimed: 

"A painting by a master ; a picture of great price, my benefactor ! 
I cling to it as to my two daughters, it calls up memories to me ! but 
I have told you, and I cannot unsay it, I am so unfortunate that I 
would part with it." 

316 Les Miserables 

Whether bj chance, or whether there was some beginning of distrust, 
while examining the picture, M. Leblanc glanced towards the back of 
the room. There were now four men there, three seated on the bed, 
one standing near the door-casing; all four bare-armed, motionless, 
and with blackened faces. One of those who were on the bed was 
leaning against the wall, with his eyes closed, and one would have 
said he was asleep. This one was old; his white hair over his black 
face was horrible. The two others appeared young; one was bearded, 
the other had long hair. 'None of them had shoes on; those who did 
not have socks were barefooted. 

Jondrette noticed that M. Leblanc's eye was fixed upon these men. 

"They are friends. They live near by," said he. "They are dark 
because they work in charcoal. They are chimney doctors. Do not 
occupy your mind with them, my benefactor, but buy my picture. 
Take pity on my misery. I shall not sell it to you at a high price. 
How much do you estimate it worth ?" 

"But," said M. Leblanc, looking Jondrette full in the face and like 
a man who puts himself on his guard, "this is some tavern sign, it is 
worth about three francs." 

Jondrette answered calmly: 

"Have you your pocket-book here ? I will be satisfied with a thou- 
sand crowns." 

M. Leblanc rose to his feet, placed his back to the wall, and ran his 
eye rapidly over the room. He had Jondrette at his left on the side 
towards the window, and his wife and the four men at his right on,' the 
side towards the door. The four men did not stir, and had not even 
the appearance of seeing him; Jondrette had begun again to talk in a 
plaintive key, with his eye so wild and his tones so mournful, that M. 
Leblanc might have thought that he had before his eyes nothing more 
nor less than a man gone crazy from misery. 

While speaking Jondrette did not look at M. Leblanc, who was 
watching him. M. Leblanc's eye was fixed upon Jondrette, and Jon- 
drette's eye upon the door. Marius' breathless attention went from 
one to the other. M. Leblanc appeared to ask himself, "Is this an 
idiot ?" Jondrette repeated two or three times with all sorts of varied 
inflections in the drawling and begging style: "I can only throw 

Marius 317 

myself into the river ! I went down three steps for that the other day 
by the side of the bridge of Austerlitz !" 

Suddenly his dull eye lighted up with a hideous glare, this little 
man straightened up and became horrifying, he took a step towards 
M. Leblanc and cried to him in a voice of thunder : 

"But all that is not the question ! do you know me V^ 


The door of the garret had been suddenly flung open, disclosing three 
men in blue blouses with black paper masks. The first was spare and 
had a long iron-bound cudgel; the second, who was a sort of colossus, 
held by the middle of the handle, with the axe down, a butcher's pole- 
axe. The third, a broad-shouldered man, not so thin as the first, nor 
so heavy as the second, held in his clenched fists an enormous key 
stolen from some prison door. 

It appeared that it was the arrival of these men for which Jondrette 
was waiting. A rapid dialogue commenced between him and the man 
with the cudgel, the spare man. 

"Is everything ready?" said Jondrette. 

"Yes," answered the spare man. 

"Where is Montparnasse then?" 

"The young primate stopped to chat with your daughter." 

"Which one ?" 

"The elder." 

"Is there a fiacre below?" 


"The maringoUe is ready?" 


'With two good horses ?" 


"It is waiting where I said it should wait ?" 


"Good," said Jondrette. 

M. Leblanc was very pale. He looked over everything in the room 
about him like a man who understands into what he has fallen, and 
his head, directed in turn towards all the heads which surrounded him, 

^1^ Les Miserables 

moved on his neck with an attentive and astonished slowness, but there 
was nothing in his manner which resembled fear. He had made an 
extemporised intrenchment of the table ; and this man who, the moment 
before, had the appearance only of a good old man, had suddenly be- 
come a sort of athlete, and placed his powerful fist upon the back of 
his chair with a surprising and formidable gesture. 

This old man, so firm and so brave before so great a peril, seemed 
to be one of those natures who are courageous as they are good, simply 
and naturally. The father of a woman that we love is never a stranger 
to us. Marius felt proud of this unknown man. 

Three of the men of whom Jondrette had said: they are chimney 
doctors, had taken from the heap of old iron, one a large pair of 
shears, another a steelyard bar, the third a hammer, and placed them- 
selves before the door without saying a word. The old man was still 
on the bed, and had merely opened his eyes. The woman Jondrette 
was sitting beside him. 

Marius thought that in a few seconds more the time would come 
to interfere, and he raised his right hand towards the ceiling, in the 
direction of the hall, ready to let off his pistol-shot. 

Jondrette, after his colloquy with the man who had the cudgel, 
turned again towards M. Leblanc and repeated his question, accom- 
panying it with that low, smothered, and terrible laugh of his : 

"You do not recognise me, then?" 

M. Leblanc looked him in the face, and answered: 


Then Jondrette came up to the table. He leaned forward over the 
candle, folding his arms, and pushing his angulai? and ferocious jaws 
up towards the calm face of M. Leblanc, as nearly as he could without 
forcing him to draw back, and in that posture, like a wild beast just 
about to bite, he cried: 

"My name is not Fabantou, my name is not Jondrette, my name is 
Thenardier ! I am the innkeeper at Montfermeil ! do you understand 
me ? Thenardier ! now do you know me V^ 

An imperceptible flush passed over M. Leblanc's forehead, and he 
answered without tremor or elevation of voice, and with his usual 
placidness : 

"^0 more than before*'* 

Marius 319 

Marius did not hear this answer. Could anybody have seen him 
at that moment in that darkness, he would have seen that he was hag- 
gard, astounded, and thunderstruck. When Jondrette had said : My 
name is Thenardier, Marius had trembled in every limb, and supported 
himself against the wall as if he had felt the chill of a sword-blade 
through his heart. Then his right arm, which was just ready to fire the 
signal shot, dropped slowly down, and at the moment that Jondrette had 
repeated: Do you understand me, Thenardier? Marius' nerveless 
fingers had almost dropped the pistol. Jondrette, in unveiling who he 
was, had not moved M. Leblanc, but he had completely unnerved 
Marius. That name of Thenardier, which M. Leblanc did not seem 
to know, Marius knew. Remember what that name was to him! that 
name he had worn on his heart, written in his father's will ! he carried 
it in the innermost place of his thoughts, in the holiest spot of his 
memory, in that sacred command: "A man named Thenardier saved 
my life. If my son should meet him, he will do him all the good he 
can." That name, we remember, was one of the devotions of his 
soul ; he mingled it with the name of his father in his worship. What ! 
here was Thenardier, here was that Thenardier, here was that inn- 
keeper of Montf ermeil, for whom he had so long and so vainly sought ! 
He. had found him at last, and how? this saviour of his father was a 
bandit ! this man, to whom he, Marius, burned to devote himself, was 
a monster ! this deliverer of Colonel Pontmercy was in the actual com- 
mission of a crime, the shape of which Marius did not see very dis- 
tinctly, but which looked like an assassination ! and upon whom. Great 
God ! what a fatality ! what a bitter mockery of Fate ! His father 
from the depths of his coffin commanded him to do all the good he 
could to Thenardier; for four years Marius had had no other thought 
than to acquit this debt of his father, and the moment that he was 
about to cause a brigand to be seized by justice, in the midst of a 
crime, destiny called to him : that is Thenardier ! his father's life, 
saved in a storm of grape upon the heroic field of Waterloo, he was at 
last about to reward this man for, and to reward him with the scaffold ! 
He had resolved, if ever he found this Thenardier, to accost him in no 
other wise than by throwing himself at his feet, and now he found him 
indeed, but to deliver him to the executioner! his father said to him: 
Aid Thenardier! and he was answering that adored and holy voice by 

320 Les Miserables 

crushing Thenardier ! presenting as a spectacle to his father in his 

tomb, the man who had snatched him from death at the peril of his 

life, executed in the Place St. Jaques by the act of his son, this Marius 

to whom he had bequeathed this man! And what a mockery to have 

worn so long upon his breast the last wishes of his father, written by 

his hand, only to act so frightfully contrary to them ! but on the other 

hand, to see this ambuscade and not prevent it ! to condemn the victim 

and spare the assassin, could he be bound to any gratitude towards such 

a wretch ? all the ideas which Marius had had for the last four years 

were, as it were, pierced through and through by this unexpected blow. 

He shuddered. Everything depends upon him. He held in his hand, 

they all unconscious, those beings who were moving there before his 

eyes. If he fired the pistol, M. Leblanc was saved and Thenardier 

was lost; if he did not, M. Leblanc was sacrificed, and, perhaps, 

Thenardier escaped. To hurl down the one, or to let the other fall! 

remorse on either hand. What was to be done? which should he 

choose? be wanting to his most imperious memories, to so many deep 

resolutions, to his most sacred duty, to that most venerated paper! be 

wanting to his father's will, or suffer a crime to be accomplished? 

He seemed on the one hand to hear "his Ursula'^ entreating him for her 

father,- and on the other the colonel commending Thenardier to him. 

He felt that he was mad. His knees gave way beneath him; and he 

had not even time to deliberate, with such fury was the scene which 

he had before his eyes rushing forward. It was like a whirlwind, 

which he had thought himself master of, and which was carrying him 

away. He was on the point of fainting. 

Meanwhile Thenardier, we will call him by no other name hence- 
forth, was walking to and fro before the table in a sort of bewilderment 
and frenzied triumph. 

He clutched the candle and put it on the mantel with such a shock 
that the flame was almost extinguished and the tallow was spattered 
upon the wall. 

Then he turned towards M. Leblanc, and with a frightful look, spit 
out this: 

"Singed! smoked! basted! spitted!" 

And he began to walk again, in full explosion. 

"Ha!'' cried he, "I have found you again at last, monsieur philan- 

Marius 321 

thropist ! monsieur threadbare millionaire ! monsieur giver of dolls ! 
old marrow-bones ! ha ! you do not know me ? no, it was not you who 
came to Montfermeil, to my inn, eight years ago, the night of Christ- 
mas, 1832 ! it was not you who took away Fantine's child from my 
house ! the Lark ! it was not you who had a yellow coat ! no ! and a pack- 
age of clothes in your hand just as you came here this morning! say 
now, wife! it is his mania it appears, to carry packages of woollen 
stockings into houses! old benevolence, get out! Are you a hosier, 
monsieur millionaire? you give the poor your shop sweepings, holy 
man ! what a charlatan ! Ha ! you do not know me ? Well, I knew 
you ! I knew you immediately as soon as you stuck your nose in here. 
Ah ! you are going to find out at last that it is not all roses to go into 
people's houses like that, under pretext of their being inns, with worn- 
out clothes, with the appearance of a pauper, to whom anybody would 
have given a sou, to deceive persons, to act the generous, take their help 
away, and threaten them in the woods, and that you do not get quit 
of it by bringing back afterwards, when people are ruined, an over- 
coat that is too large and two paltry hospital coverlids, old beggar, 
child-stealer !'' 

Thenardier stopped. He was out of breath. His little narrow 
chest was blowing like a blacksmith's bellows. His eye was full of the 
base delight of a feeble, cruel, and cowardly animal, which can finally 
prostrate that of which it has stood in awe, and insult what it has 
flattered, the joy of a dwarf putting his heel upon the head of Goliath, 
the joy of a jackal beginning to tear a sick bull, dead enough not to be 
able to defend himself, alive enough yet to suffer. 

M. Leblanc did not interrupt him but said when he stopped : 

"I do not know what you mean. You are mistaken. I am a very 
poor man and anything but a millionaire. I do not know you; you 
mistake me for another.'' 

"Ha !" screamed Thenardier, "good mountebank ! You stick to that 
joke yet ! You are in the fog, my old boy ! Ah ! you do not remem- 
ber ! You do not see who I am !" 

"Pardon me, monsieur," answered M. Leblanc, with a tone of polite- 
ness which, at such a moment, had a peculiarly strange and powerful 
effect, "I see that you are a bandit." 

Who has not noticed it, hateful beings have their tender points; 

322 Les Miserables 

monsters are easily annoyed. At this word bandit, the Thenardiess 
sprang off her bed. Thenardier seized his chair as if he were going 
to crush it in his hands: "Don't you stir," cried he to his wife, and 
turning towards M. Leblanc: 

"Bandit ! Yes, I know that you call us so, you rich people ! Yes ! 
it is true I have failed ; I am in concealment, I have no bread ; I have 
not a sou, I am a bandit ! Here are three days that I have eaten noth- 
ing, I am a bandit !'' 

Here Thenardier took a step towards the men who were before the 
door and added with a shudder: 

"When I think that he dares to come and talk to me, as if I were a 

Then addressing M. Leblanc with a fresh burst of frenzy : 

"And know this, too, monsieur philanthropist ! I am no doubtful 
man. I am not a man whose name nobody knows, and who comes into 
houses to carry off children. I am an old French soldier; I ought to 
be decorated. I was at Waterloo, I was, and in that battle I saved a 
general, named the Comte de Pontmercy. This picture which you see, 
and which was painted by David at Bruqueselles, do you know who it 
represents ? It represents me. David desired to immortalise that feat 
of arms. I have Gene^-al Pontmercy on my back, and I am carrying 
him through the storm of grape. That is history. He has never done 
anything at all for me, this general ; he is no better than other people. 
But, nevertheless, I saved his life at the risk of my own, and I have 
my pockets full of certificates. I am a soldier of Waterloo — name of 
a thousand names ! And now that I have had the goodness to tell you 
all this, let us make an end of it; I must have some money; I must 
have a good deal of money, I must have an immense deal of money, or I 
will exterminate you, by the thunder of God !" 

Marius had regained some control over his distress, and was listen- 
ing. The last possibility of doubt had now vanished. It was indeed 
the Thenardier of the will. Marius shuddered at that reproach of in- 
gratitude flung at his father, and which he was on the point of justify- 
ing so fatally. His perplexities were redoubled. Moreover^ there was 
in all these words of Thenardier, in his tone, in his gestures, in his 
look which flashed out flames at every word, there was in this explosion 
of an evil nature exposing its entire self, in this mixture of bragga- 

Marius 323 

docio and abjectness, of pride and pettiness, of rage and folly in this 
chaos of real grievances and false sentiments, in this shamelessness of 
a wicked man tasting the sweetness of violence, in this brazen naked- 
ness of a deformed soul, in this conflagration of every suffering com- 
bined with every hatred, something which was as hideous as evil and as 
sharp and bitter as the truth. 

The picture by a master, the purchase of which he had proposed to 
!M. Leblanc, was, the reader has guessed, nothing more than the sign 
of his chop-house, the only relic which he had saved from his shipwreck 
at Montfermeil. 

As he had ceased to intercept Marius' line of vision, Marius could 
now look at the thing, and in this daub he really made out a battle, a 
background of smoke, and one man carrying off another. It was the 
group of Thenardier and Pontmercy; the saviour sergeant, the colonel 
saved. Marius was as it were intoxicated; this picture in some sort 
restored his father to life ; it was not now the sign of the Montfermeil 
inn, it was a resurrection ; in it a tomb half opened, from it a phantom 
arose. Marius heard his heart ring in his temples, he had the cannon 
of Waterloo sounding in his ears; his bleeding father dimly painted 
upon this dusky panel startled him, and it seemed to him that that 
shapeless shadow was gazing steadily upon him. 

When Thenardier had taken breath he fixed his bloodshot eyes upon 
Monsieur Leblanc, and said in a low and abrupt tone: 

"What have you to say before we begin to dance with you ?" 

Monsieur Leblanc said nothing. In the midst of this silence a 
hoarse voice threw in this ghastly sarcasm from the hall: 

"If there is any wood to split, I am on hand !" 

It was the man with the pole-axe who was making merry. 

At the same time a huge face, bristly and dirty, appeared in the 
doorway, with a hideous laugh, which showed not teeth, but fangs. 

It was the face of the man with the pole-axe. 

"What have you taken off your mask for?" cried Thenardier, fu- 

"To laugh,'' replied the man. 

For some moments, Monsieur Leblanc had seemed to follow and 
to watch all the movements of Thenardier, who, blinded and bewildered 
by his own rage, was walking to and fro in the den with the confidence 

324 Les Miserables 

inspired by the feeling that the door was guarded, having armed pos- 
session of a disarmed man, and being nine to one, even if the Thenar- 
diess should count for but one man. In his apostrophe to the man with 
the pole-axe, he turned his back to Monsieur Leblanc. 

Monsieur Leblanc seized this opportunity, pushed the chair away 
with his foot, the table with his hand, and at one bound, with a marvel- 
lous agility, before Thenardier had had time to turn around, he was 
at the window. To open it, get up and step through it, was the work 
of a second. He was half outside when six strong hands seized him, 
and drew him forcibly back into the room. The three ^^chimney doc- 
tors" had thrown themselves upon him. At the same time the 
Thenardiess had clutched him by the hair. 

At the disturbance which this made, the other bandits ran in from 
the hall. The old man, who was on the bed, and who seemed over- 
whelmed with wine, got off the pallet, and came tottering along with a 
road-mender's hammer in his hand. 

One of the "chimney doctors," whose blackened face was lighted up 
by the candle, and in whom Marius, in spite of this colouring, recog- 
nised Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, raised a sort of 
loaded club made of a bar of iron with a knob of lead at each end, over 
Monsieur Leblanc's head. 

Marius could not endure this sight. "Father," thought he, "pardon 
me !" And his finger sought the trigger of the pistol. The shot was 
just about to be fired, when Thenardier's voice cried: 

"Do him no harm!" 

This desperate attempt of the victim, far from exasperating Thenar- 
dier, had calmed him. There were two men in him, the ferocious man 
and the crafty man., Up to this moment, in the first flush of triumph, 
before his prey stricken down and motionless, the ferocious man had 
been predominant; when the victim resisted, and seemed to desire a 
struggle, the crafty man reappeared and resumed control. 

"Do him no harm !" he repeated, and without suspecting it, the first 
result of this was to stop the pistol which was just ready to go off, and 
paralyse Marius, to whom the urgency seemed to disappear, and who, in 
view of this new phase of affairs, saw no impropriety in waiting longer. 
.Who knows but some chance may arise which will save him from the 

Marius 325 

fearful alternative of letting the father of Ursula perish, or destroying 
the saviour of the colonel ! 

A herculean struggle had commenced. With one blow full in the 
chest M. Leblanc had sent the old man sprawling into the middle of 
the room, then with two back strokes had knocked down two other as- 
sailants, whom he held one under each knee; the wretches screamed 
under the pressure as if they had been under a granite mill-stone ; but 
the four others had seized the formidable old man by the arms and the 
back, and held him down over the two prostrate ^^chimney doctors." 
Thus, master of the latter and mastered by the former, crushing those 
below him and suffocating under those above him, vainly endeavouring 
to shake off all the violence and blows which were heaped upon him, 
M. Leblanc disappeared under the horrible group of the bandits, like 
a wild boar under a howling pack of hounds and mastiffs. 

They succeeded in throwing him over upon the bed nearest to the 
window, and held him there in awe. The Thenardiess had not let 
go of his hair. 

"Here," said Thenardier, "let it alone. You will tear your shawl." 

The Thenardiess obeyed, as the she-wolf obeys her mate, with a growl. 

"Now, the rest of you," continued Thenardier, "search him." 

M. Leblanc seemed to have given up all resistance. They searched 
him. There was nothing upon him but a leather purse which con- 
tained six francs, and his handkerchief. 

Thenardier put the handkerchief in his pocket. 

"What ! no pocket-book ?" he asked. 

Nor any watch," answered one of the "chimney doctors." 

"It is all the same," muttered, with the voice of a ventriloquist, the 
masked man who had the big key, "he is an old rough." 

Thenardier went to the corner by the door and took a bundle of 
ropes which he threw to them. 

"Tie him to the foot of the bed," said he, and perceiving the old 
fellow who lay motionless, when he was stretched across the room by 
the blow of M. Leblanc's fist : 

"Is Boulatruelle dead?" asked he. 

"No," answered Bigrenaille, "he is drunk." 

"Sweep him into a comer," said Thenardier. 

326 Les Miserables 

Two of the * ^chimney doctors" pushed the drunkard up to the heap 
of old iron with their feet. 

"Babet, what did you bring so many for?" said Thenardier in a 
low tone to the man with the cudgel, "it is needless." 

"What would you have ?" replied the man with the cudgel, "they all 
wanted to be in. The season is bad. There is nothing doing." 

The pallet upon which M. Leblanc had been thrown was a sort of 
hospital bed supported by four big roughly squared wooden posts. M. 
Leblanc made no resistance. The brigands bound him firmly, stand- 
ing, with his feet to the floor, by the bed-post furthest from the window 
and nearest to the chimney. 

When the last knot was tied, Thenardier took a chair and came and 
sat down nearly in front of M. Leblanc. Thenardier looked no longer 
like himself, in a few seconds the expression of his face had passed 
from unbridled violence to tranquil and crafty mildness. Marius 
hardly recognized in that polite, clerkly smile, the almost beastly 
mouth which was foaming a moment before; he looked with astonish- 
ment upon this fantastic and alarming metamorphosis, and he expe- 
rienced what a man would feel who should see a tiger change itself into 
an attorney. 

"Monsieur," said Thenardier. 

And with a gesture dismissing the brigands who still had their hands 
upon M. Leblanc: 

"Move off a little, and let me talk with monsieur." 

They all retired towards the door. He resumed: 

"Monsieur, you were wrong in trying to jump out the window. You 
might have broken your leg. ISI'ow, if you please, we will talk quietly. 
In the first place I must inform you of a circumstance I have noticed, 
which is that you have not yet made the least outcry." 

Thenardier was right; this incident was true, although it had es- 
caped Marius in his anxiety. M. Leblanc had only uttered a few words 
without raising his voice, and, even in his struggle by the window with 
the six bandits, he had preserved the most profound and the most re- 
markable silence. Thenardier continued: 

"Indeed ! you might have cried thief a little, for I should not have 
found it inconvenient. Murder ! that is said upon occasion, and, as far 
as I am concerned, I should not have taken it in bad part. It is very 

Marius 327 

natural that one should make a little noise when he finds himself with 
persons who do not inspire him with as much confidence as they might ; 
you might have done it, and we should not have disturbed you. We 
would not even have gagged you. And I will tell you why. It is be- 
cause this room is very deaf. That is all I can say for it, but I can say 
that. It is a cave. We could fire a bomb here, and at the nearest 
guardhouse it would sound like a drunkard's snore. Here a cannon 
would go boom, and thunder would go puff. It is a convenient apart- 
ment. But, in short, you did not cry out, that was better, I make you 
my compliments for it, and I will tell you what I conclude from it: 
my dear monsieur, when a man cries out, who is it that comes? The 
police. And after the police? Justice. Well! you did not cry out; 
because you were no more anxious than we to see justice and the police 
come. It is because, — I suspected as much long ago, — you have some 
interest in concealing something. For our part we have the same in- 
terest. N^ow we can come to an understanding." 

While speaking thus, it seemed as though Thenardier, with his gaze 
fixed upon Monsieur Leblanc, was endeavouring to thrust the daggers 
which he looked, into the very conscience of his prisoner. His lan- 
guage, moreover, marked by a sort of subdued and sullen insolence, was 
reserved and almost select, and in this wretch who was just before 
nothing but a brigand, one could now perceive the man who studied to 
be a priest. 

The silence which the prisoner had preserved, this precaution which 
he had carried even to the extent of endangering his life, the resistance 
to the first impulse of nature, which is to utter a cry, all this, it must 
be said, since it had been remarked, was annoying to Marius, and 
painfully astonished him. 

The observation of Thenardier, well founded as it was, added in 
Marius' eyes still more to the obscurity of the mysterious cloud that 
enveloped this strange and serious face to which Courfeyrac had given 
the nickname of Monsieur Leblanc. But whatever he might be, bound 
with ropes, surrounded by assassins, half buried, so to speak, in a 
grave which was deepening beneath him every moment, before the fury 
as well as before the mildness of Thenardier, this man remained impas- 
sible; and Marius could not repress at such a moment his admiration 
for that superbly melancholy face. 

328 Les Miserables 

Here was evidently a soul inaccessible to fear, and ignorant of dis- 
may. Here was one of those men who are superior to astonishment in 
desperate situations. However extreme the crisis, however inevitable 
the catastrophe, there was nothing there of the agony of the drowning 
man, staring with horrified eyes as he sinks to the bottom. 

Thenardier quietly got up, went to the fireplace, took away the 
screen which he leaned against the nearest pallet, and thus revealed 
the furnace full of glowing coals in which the prisoner could plainly 
see the chisel at a white heat, spotted here and there with little scarlet 

Then Thenardier came back and sat down by Monsieur Leblanc. 

"I continue,'^ said he. ^^Now we can come to an understanding. 
Let us arrange this amicably. I was wrong to fly into a passion just 
now. I do not know where my wits were, I went much too far, I 
talked extravagantly. For instance, because you are a millionaire, I 
told you that I wanted money, a good deal of money, an immense deal 
of money. That would not be reasonable. My God, rich as you may 
be, you have your expenses ; who does not have them ? I do not want 
to ruin you, I am not a catch-poll, after all. I am not one of those 
people who, because they have the advantage in position, use it to be 
ridiculous. Here, I am willing to go half way and make some sacrifice 
on my part. I need only two hundred thousand francs." 

Monsieur Leblanc did not breathe a word. Thenardier went on: 

"You see that I water my wine pretty well. I do not know the state 
of your fortune, but I know that you do not care much for money, and 
a benevolent man like you can certainly give two hundred thousand 
francs to a father of a family who is unfortunate. Certainly you are 
reasonable also, you do not imagine that I would take the trouble I 
have to-day, and that I would organise the affair of this evening, which 
is a very fine piece of work, in the opinion of these gentlemen, to end off 
by asking you for enough to go and drink fifteen sou red wine and eat 
veal at Desnoyers'. Two hundred thousand francs, it is worth it. 
That trifle once out of your pocket, I assure you that all is said, and 
that you need not fear a snap of the flnger. You will say : but I have 
not two hundred thousand francs with me. Oh! I am not exacting. 
I do not require that. I only ask one thing. Have the goodness to 
write what I shall dictate." 

Marius 329 

Here Thenardier paused, then he added, emphasising each word and 
casting a smile towards the furnace: 

"I give you notice that I shall not admit that you cannot write." 

A grand inquisitor might have envied that smile. 

Thenardier pushed the table close up to Monsieur Leblanc, and took 
the inkstand, a pen, and a sheet of paper from the drawer, which he 
left partly open, and from which gleamed the long blade of the knife. 

He laid the sheet of paper before Monsieur Leblanc. 

"Write," said he. 

The prisoner spoke at last: 

"How do you expect me to write ? I am tied." 

"That is true, pardon me !" said Thenardier, "you are quite right." 

And turning towards Bigrenaille : 

"Untie monsieur's right arm." 

Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, executed Thenardier's 
order. When the prisoner's right hand was free, Thenardier dipped 
the pen into the ink, and presented it to him. 

"Remember, monsieur, that you are in our power, at our discretion, 
that no human power can take you away from here, and that we should 
be really grieved to be obliged to proceed to unpleasant extremities. 
I know neither your name nor your address, but I give you notice that 
you will remain tied until the person whose duty it will be to carry the 
letter which you are about to write, has returned. Have the kindness 
now to write." 

"What?" asked the prisoner. 

"I will dictate." 

M. Leblanc took the pen. 

Thenardier began to dictate : 

"My daughter — " 

The prisoner shuddered and lifted his eyes to Thenardier. 

"Put ^my dear daughter,' " said Thenardier. M. Leblanc obeyed. 
Thenardier continued: 

"Come immediately — " 

He stopped. 

"You call her daughter, do you not ?" 

^Who ?" asked M. Leblanc. 

"Zounds !" said Thenardier, "the little girl, the Lark.'' 

330 Les Miserables 

M. Leblanc answered without the least apparent emotion: 

"I do not know what you mean." 

"Well, go on," said Thenardier, and he began to dictate again. 

"Come immediately, I have imperative need of you. The person 
who will give you this note is directed to bring you to me. I am wait- 
ing for you. Come with confidence." 

M. Leblanc had written the whole. Thenardier added : 

"Ah ! strike out come with confidence, that might lead her to suppose 
that the thing is not quite clear and that distrust is possible." 

M. Leblanc erased the three words. 

"I^ow," continued Thenardier, "sign it. What is your name?" 

The prisoner laid down the pen and asked : 

"For whom is this letter ?" 

"You know very well," answered Thenardier, "for the little girl, I 
have just told you." 

It was evident that Thenardier avoided naming the young girl in 
question. He said "the Lark," he said "the little girl," but he did not 
pronounce the name. The precaution of a shrewd man preserving his 
own secret before his accomplices. To speak the name would have 
been to give up the whole "affair" to them, and to tell them more than 
they needed to know. ^ 

He resumed: 

"Sign it. What is your name ?" 

"Urbain Fabre," said the prisoner. 

Thenardier, with the movement of a cat, thrust his hand into his 
pocket and pulled out the handkerchief taken from M. Leblanc. He 
looked for the mark upon it and held it up to the candle. 

"U. F. That is it. Urbain Fabre. Well, sign U. F." 

The prisoner signed. 

"As it takes two hands to fold the letter, give it to me, I will fold it." 

This done, Thenardier resumed: 

"Put on the address. Mademoiselle Fabre, at your house. I know 
that you live not very far from here, in the neighbourhood of Saint 
Jacques du Haut Pas, since you go there to mass every day, but I do 
not know in what street. I see that you understand your situation. 
As you have not lied about your name, you will not lie about your ad- 
dress. Put it on yourself." 

Marius 3^1 

The prisoner remained thoughtful for a moment, then he took the 
pen and wrote: 

"Mademoiselle Fabre, at Monsieur Urbain Fabre's, Rue Saint 
Dominique d'Enfer, N'o. 17." 

Thenardier seized the letter with a sart of feverish convulsive move- 

"Wife !" cried he. 

The Thenardiess sprang forward. 

"Here is the letter. You know what you have to do. There is a 
fiacre below. Go right away, and come back ditto." 

And addressing the man with the pole-axe: 

"Here, since you have taken off your hide-your-nose, go with the 
woman. You will get up behind the fiacre. You know where you 
left the maringotte/' 

"Yes," said the man. 

And, laying down his pole-axe in a corner, he followed the Thenar- 

As they were going away, Thenardier put his head through the half- 
open door and screamed into the hall: 

"Above all things do not lose the letter! remember that you have 
two hundred thousand francs with you." 

The harsh voice of the Thenardiess answered: 

"Eest assured, I have put it in my bosom." 

A minute had not passed when the snapping of a whip was heard, 
which grew fainter and rapidly died away. 

"Good!" muttered Thenardier. "They are going good speed. At 
that speed the bourgeoise will be back in three quarters of an hour." 

He drew a chair near the fireplace and sat down, folding his arms 
and holding his muddy boots up to the furnace. 

"My feet are cold," said he. 

There were now but five bandits left in the den with Thenardier and 
the prisoner. These men, through the masks or the black varnish 
which covered their faces and made of them, as fear might suggest, 
charcoal men, negroes, or demons, had a heavy and dismal appearance, 
and one felt that they would execute a crime as they would any drudg- 
ery, quietly, without anger and without mercy, with a sort of irksome- 
ness. They were heaped together in a corner like brutes, and were 

332 Les Miserables 

silent. Thenardier was warming his feet. The prisoner had relapsed 
into his taciturnity. A gloomy stillness had succeeded the savage tu- 
mult which filled the garret a few moments hefore. 

The candle, in which a large thief had formed, hardly lighted up 
the enormous den, the fire had grown dull, and all their monstrous 
heads made huge shadows on the walls and on the ceiling. 

'No sound could be heard save the quiet breathing of the drunken 
old man, who was asleep. 

Marius was waiting in an anxiety which everything increased. The 
riddle was more impenetrable than ever. Who was this "little girl," 
whom Thenardier had also called the Lark? was it his "Ursula?" 
The prisoner had not seemed to be moved by this word, the Lark, and 
answered in the most natural way in the world : I do not know what you 
mean. On the other hand, the two letters U. F. were explained; it 
was Urbain Fabre, and Ursula's name was no longer Ursula. This 
Marius saw most clearly. A sort of hideous fascination held him spell- 
bound to the place from which he observed and commanded this whole 
scene. There he was, almost incapable of reflection and motion, as if 
annihilated by such horrible things in so close proximity. He was 
waiting, hoping for some movement, no matter what, unable to collect 
his ideas and not knowing what course to take. 

"At all events," said he, "if the Lark is she, I shall certainly see 
her, for the Thenardiess is going to bring her here. Then all will be 
plain. I will give my blood and my life if need be, but I will deliver 
her. Nothing shall stop me." 

Nearly half an hour passed thus. Thenardier appeared absorbed 
in a dark meditation, the prisoner did not stir. Nevertheless Marius 
thought he had beared at intervals and for some moments a little dull 
noise from the direction of the prisoner. 

Suddenly Thenardier addressed the prisoner: 

"Monsieur Fabre, here, so much let me tell you at once." 

These few words seemed to promise a clearing up. Marius listened 
closely. Thenardier continued: 

"My spouse is coming back, do not be impatient. I think the Lark 
is really your daughter, and I find it quite natural that you should 
keep her. But listen a moment ; with your letter, my wife is going to 
find her. I told my wife to dress up, as you saw, so that your young 

Marius 333 

lady would follow her without hesitation. They will both get into 
the fiacre with my comrade behind. There is somewhere outside one 
of the barriers a maringotte with two very good horses harnessed. 
They will take your young lady there. She will get out of the carriage. 
My comrade will get into the maringotte with her, and my wife will 
come back here to tell us: ^It is done.' As to your young lady, no 
harm will be done her ; the maringotte will take her to a place where she 
will be quiet, and as soon as you have given me the little two hundred 
thousand francs, she will be sent back to you. If you have me arrested, 
my comrade will give the Lark a pinch, that is all." 

The prisoner did not utter a word. After a pause, Thenardier con- 
tinued : 

"It is very simple, as you see. There will be no harm done unless 
you wish there should be. That is the whole story. I tell you in ad- 
vance so that you may know." 

He stopped; the prisoner did not break the silence, and Thenardier 
resumed : 

"As soon as my spouse has got back and said : ^The Lark is on her 
way,' we will release you, and you will be free to go home to bed. 
You see that we have no bad intentions." 

Appalling images passed before Marius' mind. What! this young 
girl whom they were kidnapping, they were not going to bring her 
here? One of those monsters was going to carry her off into the 
gloom ? where ? — And if it were she ! And it was clear that it was she ! 
Marius felt his heart cease to beat. What was he to do ? Fire off the 
pistol? put all these wretches into the hands of justice? But the 
hideous man of the pole-axe would none the less be out of all reach with 
the young girl, and Marius remembered these words of Thenardier, the 
bloody signification of which he divined : If you have me arrested, my 
comrade will give the Larh a pinch, 

ISTow it was not by the colonel's will alone, it was by his love itself, 
by the peril of her whom he loved, that he felt himself held back. 

This fearful situation, which had lasted now for more than an hour, 
changed its aspect at every moment. Marius had the strength to pass 
in review successively all the most heart-rending conjectures, seeking 
some hope and finding more. The tumult of his thoughts strangely 
contrasted with the deathly silence of the den. 

334 Les Miserables 

In the midst of this silence they heard the sound of the door of the 
stairway which opened, then closed. 

The prisoner made a movement in his bonds. 

"Here is the bourgeoise," said Thenardier. 

He had hardly said this, when in fact the Thenardiess burst into the 
room, red, panting, with glaring eyes, and cried, striking her big hands 
upon her hips both at the same time : 

"False address!'' 

The bandit whom she had taken with her, came in behind her and 
picked up his pole-axe again: 

"False address?" repeated Thenardier. 

She continued: 

"JSTobody! Rue Saint Dominique, number seventeen, no Monsieur 
Urbain Fabre ! They do not know who he is !" 

She stopped for lack of breath, then continued : 

"Monsieur Thenardier ! this old -'fellow has cheated you ! you are too 
good, do you see! I would have cut up the Margoulette for you in 
quarters, to begin with! and if he had been ugly, 'I would have cooked 
him alive ! Then he would have had to talk, and had to tell where the 
girl is, and had to tell where the rhino is ! That is how I would have 
fixed it! No wonder that they say men are stupider than women! 
Nobody ! number seventeen ! It is a large porte-cochere ! No Mon- 
sieur Fabre ! Rue Saint Dominique, full gallop, and drink-money to 
the driver, and all! I spoke to the porter and the portress, who is 
a fine stout woman, they did not know the fellow." 

Marius breathed. She, Ursula or the Lark, she whom he no longer 
knew what to call, was safe. 

While his exasperated wife was vociferating, Thenardier had seated 
himself on the table; he sat a few seconds without saying a word, 
swinging his right leg, which was hanging down, and gazing upon the 
furnace with a look of savage reverie. 

At last he said to the prisoner with a slow and singularly ferocious 
inflection : 

"A false address ! what did you hope for by that ?" 

"To gain time !" cried the prisoner with a ringing voice. 

And at the same moment he shook off his bonds; they were cut. 
The prisoner was no longer fastened to the bed save by one leg. 

Marius ^^^ 


Before the seven men had had time to recover themselves and to 
spring upon him, he had bent over to the fireplace, reached his hand 
towards the furnace, then rose up, and now Thenardier, the Thenar- 
diess, and the bandits, thrown by the shock into the back part of the 
room, beheld him with stupefaction, holding above his head the glowing 
chisel, from which fell an ominous light, almost free and in a formid- 
able attitude. 

At the judicial inquest, to which the ambuscade in the Gorbeau 
tenement gave rise in the sequel, it appeared that a big sou, cut and 
worked in a peculiar fashion, was found in the garret, when the police 
made a descent upon it ; this big sou was one of those marvels of labour 
which the patience of the galleys produces in the darkness and for the 
darkness, marvels which are nothing else but instruments of escape. 
These hideous and delicate products of a wonderful art are to jewellery 
what the metaphors of argot are to poetry. There are Benvenuto 
Cellinis in the galleys, even as there are Villous in language. The un- 
happy man who aspires to deliverance, finds the means, sometimes 
without tools, with a folding knife, with an old case knife, to split a 
sou into two thin plates, to hollow out these two plates without touch- 
ing the stamp of the mint, and to cut a screw-thread upon the edge of 
the sou, so as to make the plates adhere anew. This screws and un- 
screws at will; it is a box. In this box, they conceal a watch-spring, 
and this watch-spring, well-handled, cuts off rings of some size and 
bars of iron. The unfortunate convict is supposed to possess only a 
sou; no, he possesses liberty. A big sou of this kind, on subsequent 
examination by the police, was found open and in two pieces in the 
room under the pallet near the window. There was also discovered a 
little saw of blue steel which could be concealed in the big sou. It is 
probable that when the bandits were searching the prisoner's pockets, 
he had this big sou upon him and succeeded in hiding it in his hand ; 
and that afterwards, having his right hand free, he unscrewed it and 
used the saw to cut the ropes by which he was fastened, which would 
explain the slight noise and the imperceptible movements which Marius 
had noticed. 

Being unable to stoop down for fear of betraying himself, he had 
not cut the cords on his left leg. 

The bandits had recovered their first surprise. 

336 Les Miserables 

"Be easy," said Bigrenaille to Thenardier. "He holds yet by one 
leg, and he will not go off, I answer for it. I tied that shank for him." 

The prisoner now raised his voice : 

"You are pitiable, but my life is not worth the trouble of so long a 
defence. As to your imagining that you could make me speak, that 
you could make me write what I do not wish to write, that you could 
make me say what I do not wish to say " 

He pulled up the sleeve of his left arm, and added: 


At the same time he extended his arm, and laid upon the naked 
flesh the glowing chisel, which he held in his right hand, by the wooden 

They heard the hissing of the burning flesh; the odour peculiar to 
chambers of torture spread through the den. Marius staggered, lost 
in horror ; the brigands themselves felt a shudder ; the face of the won- 
derful old man hardly contracted, and while the red iron was sinking 
into the smoking, impassible, and almost august wound, he turned upon 
Thenardier his fine face, in which there was no hatred, and in which 
suffering was swallowed up in a serene majesty. 

With great and lofty natures the revolt of the flesh and the senses 
against the assaults of physical pain, brings out the soul, and makes it 
appear on the countenance, in the same way as mutinies of the soldiery 
force the captain to show himself. 

"Wretches," said he, "have no more fear for me than I have of you." 

"And drawing the chisel out of the wound, he threw it through the 
window, which was still open; the horrible glowing tool disappeared, 
whirling into the night, and fell in the distance and was quenched in 
the snow. 

The prisoner resumed : 

"Do with me what you will." 

He was disarmed. 

"Lay hold of him," said Thenardier. 

Two of the brigands laid their hands upon his shoulders, and the 
masked man with the ventriloquist's voice placed himself in front of 
him, ready to knock out his brains with a blow of the key, at the least 

At the same time Marius heard beneath him, at the foot of the par- 

Marius 337 

tition, but so near that he could not see those who were talking, this 
colloquy, exchanged in a low voice: 

"There is only one thing more to do.'' 

"To kill him!" 

"That is it." 

It was the husband and wife who were holding counsel. 

Thenardier walked with slow steps towards the table, opened the 
drawer, and took out the knife. 

Marius was tormenting the trigger of his pistol. Unparalleled per- 
plexity ! For an hour there had been two voices in his conscience, one 
telling him to respect the will of his father, the other crying to him to 
succour the prisoner. These two voices, without interruption, con- 
tinued their struggle, which threw him into agony. He had vaguely 
hoped up to that moment to find some means of reconciling these two 
duties, but no possible way had arisen. The peril was now urgent, the 
last limit of hope was passed ; at a few steps from the prisoner, Thenar- 
dier was reflecting, with the knife in his hand. 

Marius cast his eyes wildly about him; the last mechanical resource 
of despair. 

Suddenly he started. 

At his feet, on the table, a clear ray of the full moon illuminated,, 
and seemed to point out to him a sheet of paper. Upon that sheet he 
read this line, written in large letters that very morning, by the elder of 
the Thenardier girls: 

"The Cognes are here."*^ 

An idea, a flash crossed Marius' mind ; that was the means which he 
sought ; the solution of this dreadful problem which was torturing him, 
to spare the assassin and to save the victim. He knelt down upon his 
bureau, reached out his arm, caught up the sheet of paper, quietly de- 
tached a bit of plaster from the partition, wrapped it in the paper, and 
threw the whole through the crevice into the middle of the den. 

It was time. Thenardier had conquered his last fears, or his last 
scruples, and was moving towards the prisoner. 

"Something fell !" cried the Thenardiess. 

"What is it ?" said the husband. 

The woman sprung forward, and picked up the piece of plaster 
wrapped in the paper. She handed it to her husband. 

338 Les Miserables 

"How did this come in ?" asked Thenardier. 

"Egad!'' said the woman, "how do you suppose it got in? It came 
through the window." 

"I saw it pass," said Bigrenaille. 

Thenardier hurriedly unfolded the paper, and held it up to the 

"It is Eponine's writing. The devil !" 

He made a sign to his wife, who approached quickly, and he showed 
her the line written on the sheet of paper; then he added in a hollow^ 
voice : 

"Quick ! the ladder ! leave the meat in the trap, and clear the camp !" 

"Without cutting the man's throat ?" asked the Thenardiess. 

"We have not the time." 

"Which way ?" inquired Bigrenaille. 

"Through the window," answered Thenardier. "Eponine threw the 
stone through the window, that shows that the house is not watched on 
that side." 

The mask with the ventriloquist's voice laid down his big key, lifted 
both arms into the air, and opened and shut his hands rapidly three 
times, without saying a word. This was like the signal to clear the 
decks in a fleet. The brigands, who were holding the prisoner, let go 
of him; in the twinkling of an eye, the rope ladder was unrolled out 
of the window, and firmly fixed to the casing by the two iron hooks. 

The prisoner paid no attention to what was passing about him. He 
seemed to be dreaming or praying. 

As soon as the ladder was fixed, Thenardier cried : 

"Come, bourgeoise!" 

And he rushed towards the window. 

But as he was stepping out, Bigrenaille seized him roughly by the 

"]^o ; say now, old joker ! after us." 

"After us !' howled the bandits. 

"You are children," said Thenardier. "We are losing time. The 
railles are at our heels." 

"Well," said one of the bandits, "let us draw lots who shall go out 

Marius 339 

Thenardier exclaimed: 

'^Are you fools? are you cracked? You are a mess of johards! 
Losing time, isn't it ? drawing lots, isn't it ? with a wet finger ! for the 
short straw ! write our names ! put them in a cap ! " 

"Would you like my hat ?" cried a voice from the door. 

They all turned round. It was Javert. 

He had his hat in his hand, and was holding it out smiling. 


Javert, at nightfall, had posted his men and hid himself behind the 
trees on the Rue de la Barriere des Gobelins, which fronts the Gorbeau 
tenement on the other side of the boulevard. He commenced by open- 
ing "his pocket," to put into it the two young girls, who were charged 
with watching the approaches to the den. But he only "bagged'^ 
Azelma. As for Eponine, she was not at her post; she had dis- 
appeared, and he could not take her. Then Javert put himself in rest, 
and listened for the signal agreed upon. The going and coming of the 
fiacre fretted him greatly. At last, he became impatient, and, sure 
that there was a nest there, sure of being ''in good luck/' having recog- 
nised several of the bandits who had gone in, he finally decided to go 
up without waiting for the pistol shot. 

It will be remembered that he had Marius' pass-key. 

He had come at the right time. 

The frightened bandits rushed for the arms which they had thrown 
down anywhere when they had attempted to escape. In less than a 
second, these seven men, terrible to look upon, were grouped in a pos- 
ture of defence; one with his pole-axe, another with his key, a third 
with his club, the others with the shears, the pincers, and the hammers, 
Thenardier grasping his knife. The Thenardiess seized a huge paving- 
stone which was in the comer of the window, and which served her 
daughters for a cricket. 

Javert put on his hat again, and stepped into the room, his arms 
folded, his cane under his arm, his sword in its sheath. 

"Halt there," said he. "You will not pass out through the window, 
you will pass out through the door. It is less unwholesome. There 

340 Les Miserables 

are seven of you, fifteen of ns. Don't let us collar you like Auvergnats. 
Be genteel." 

Eigrenaille took a pistol which he had concealed under his blouse, 
and put it into Thenardier's hand, whispering in his ear : 

"It is Javert. I dare not fire at that man. Dare you ?" 

"Parbleuf' answered Thenar dier. 

"Well, fire." 

Thenardier took the pistol, and aimed at Javert. 

Javert, who was within three paces, looked at him steadily, and con- 
tented himself with saying: 

"Don't fire, now ! It will fiash in the pan." 

Thenardier pulled the trigger. The pistol fiashed in the pan. 

"I told you so !" said Javert. 

Eigrenaille threw his tomahawk at Javert's feet. 

"You are the emperor of the devils! I surrender." 

"And you ?" asked Javert of the other bandits. 

They answered: 

"We, too." 

Javert replied calmly: 

"That is it, that is well, I said so, you are genteel." 

"I only ask one thing," said Eigrenaille, "that is, that I shan't be 
refused tobacco while I am in solitary." 

"Granted," said Javert. 

And turning round and calling behind him: 

"Come in now!" 

A squad of sergents de ville with drawn swords, and officers armed 
with axes and clubs, rushed in at Javert's call. They bound the ban- 
dits. This crowd of men, dimly lighted by a candle, filled the den 
with shadow. 

"Handcuffs on all!" cried Javert. 

"Come on, then !" cried a voice which was not a man's voice, but of 
which nobody could have said: "It is the voice of a woman." 

The Thenardiess had intrenched herself in one of the corners of the 
window, and it was she who had just uttered this roar. 

She had thrown off her shawl, but kept on her hat; her husband, 
crouched down behind her, was almost hidden beneath the fallen shawl, 
and she covered him with her body, holding the paving stone with both 

© Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 

Marius 341 

hands above her head with the poise of a giantess who is going to hurl 
a rock. 

"Take care!" she cried. 

They all crowded back towards the hall. A wide space was left in 
the middle of the garret. 

The Thenardiess cast a glance at the bandits who had allowed them- 
selves to be tied, and muttered in a harsh and guttural tone : 

"The cowards !" 

Javert smiled, and advanced into the open space which the Thenar- 
diess was watching with all her eyes. 

"Don't come near ! get out," cried she, "or I will crush you !" 

"What a grenadier!" said Javert; "mother, you have a beard like a 
man, but I have claws like a woman." 

And he continued to advance. 

The Thenardiess, her hair flying wildly and terrible, braced her legs, 
bent backwards, and threw the paving stone wildly at Javert's head. 
Javert stooped, the stone passed over him, hit the wall behind, from 
which it knocked down a large piece of the plastering, and returned, 
bounding from corner to corner across the room, luckily almost empty, 
finally stopping at Javert's heels. 

At that moment Javert reached the Thenardier couple. One of his 
huge hands fell upon the shoulder of the woman, and the other upon 
her husband's head. 

"The handcuffs !" cried he. 

The police officers returned in a body, and in a few seconds Javert's 
order was executed. 

The Thenardiess, completely crushed, looked at her manacled hands 
and those of her Ijusband, dropped to the floor and exclaimed, with 
tears in her eyes: 

"My daughters!" 

"They are provided for," said Javert. 

Meanwhile the officers had found the drunken fellow who was asleep 
behind the door, and shook him. He awoke stammering. 

"Is it over, Jondrette ?" 

"Yes," answered Javert. 

The six manacled bandits were standing; however, they still re- 
tained their spectral appearance, three blackened, three masked. 

342 Les Miserables 

"Keep on your masks/' said Javert. 

And, passing them in review with the eye of a Frederic II. at parade 
at Potsdam, he said to the three "chimney doctors:" 

"Good day, Bigrenaille. Good day, Brujon. Good day. Deux 

Then, turning towards the three masks, he said to the man of the 
pole-axe : 

"Good day, Gueulemer." 

And to the man of the cudgel : 

"Good day, Babet." 

And to the ventriloquist: 

"Your health, Claquesous." 

Just then he perceived the prisoner of the bandits, who, since the 
entrance of the police, had not uttered a word, and had held his head 

"Untie monsieur !" said Javert, "and let nobody go out." 

This said, he sat down with authority before the table, on which the 
candle and the writing materials still were, drew a stamped sheet from 
his pocket, and commenced his prooes-verbal. 

When he had written the first lines, a part of the formula, which is 
always the same, he raised his eyes : 

"Bring forward the gentleman whom these gentlemen had bound." 

The officers looked about them. 

"Well," asked Javert, "where is he now?" 

The prisoner of the bandits, M. Leblanc, M. Urbain Fabre, the fa- 
ther of Ursula, or the Lark, had disappeared. 

The door was guarded, but the window was not. As soon as he saw 
that he was unbound, and while Javert was writing, he had taken ad- 
vantage of the disturbance, the tumult, the confusion, the obscurity, 
and a moment when their attention was was not fixed upon him, to 
leap out of the window. 

An officer ran to the window, and looked out; nobody could be seen 

The rope ladder was still trembling. 

"The devil!" said Javert, between his teeth, "that must have been 
the best one.'' 






Maeius had seen the unexpected denouement of the amhuscade upon 
the track of which he had put Javert; hut hardly had Javert left the 
old ruin, carrying away his prisoners in three coaches, when Marius 
also slipped out of the house. It was only nine o'clock in the evening. 
Marius went to Courfeyrac's. Courfeyrac was no longer the imper- 
turbable inhabitant of the Latin Quarter; he had gone to live in the 
Rue de la Verrerie "for political reasons"; this quarter was one of 
those in which the insurrection was fond of installing itself in those 
days. Marius said to Courfeyrac : "I have come to sleep with you.'' 
Courfeyrac drew a mattress from his bed, where there were two, laid 
it on the floor, and said : "There you are." 

The next day, by seven o'clock in the morning, Marius went back to 
the tenement, paid his rent, and what was due to Ma'am Bougon, had 
his books, bed, table, bureau, and his two chairs loaded upon a hand- 
cart, and went off without leaving his address, so that when Javert 
came back in the forenoon to question Marius about the events of the 
evening, he found only Ma'am Bougon, who answered him, "moved!" 

Ma'am Bougon was convinced that Marius was somehow an accom- 
plice of the robbers seized the night before. "Who would have thought 
so ?" she exclaimed among the portresses of the quarter, "a young man 
who had so much the appearance of a girl !" 

Marius had two reasons for this prompt removal. The first was, 
that he now had a horror of that house, where he had seen, so near at 
hand, and in all its most repulsive and most ferocious development, a 
social deformity perhaps still more hideous than the evil rich man : the 
evil poor. The second was, that he did not wish to figure in the trial 
which would probably follow, and be brought forward to testify against 

Javert thought that the young man, whose name he had not retained, 

had been frightened and had escaped, or, perhaps, had not even re- 


2^^ Les Miserables 

turned home at the time of the ambuscade; still he made some effort 
to find him, but he did not succeed. 

A month rolled away, then another. Marius was still with Courfey- 
rac. He knew from a young attorney, an habitual attendant in the 
ante-rooms of the court, that Thenardier was in solitary confinement. 
Every Monday Marius sent to the clerk of La Force ^ve francs for 

Marius, having now no money, borrowed the five francs of Courfey- 
rac. It was the first time in his life that he had borrowed money. 
This periodical ^ve francs was a double enigma, to them. ^^To whom 
can it go ?" thought Courfeyrac. "Where can it come from ?" Thenar- 
dier asked himself. 

Marius, moreover, was in sore affliction. Everything had relapsed 
into darkness. He no longer saw anything before him; his life was 
again plunged into that mystery in which he had been blindly groping. 
He had for a moment seen close at hand in that obscurity, the young 
girl whom he loved, the old man who seemed her father, these unknown 
beings who were his only interest and his only hope in this world ; and 
at the moment he had thought to hold them fast, a breath had swept 
all those shadows away. Not a spark of certainty or truth had escaped 
even from that most fearful shock. !N"o conjecture was possible. He 
knew not even the name which he had thought he knew. Certainly it 
was no longer Ursula. And the Lark was a nickname. And what 
should he think of the old man? Was he really hiding from the po- 
lice ? The white-haired working-man whom Marius had met in the 
neighbourhood of the Invalides recurred to his mind. It now became 
probable that that working-man and M. Leblanc were the same man. 
He disguised himself then ? This man had heroic sides and equivocal 
sides. Why had he not called for help? why had he escaped? was he, 
yes or no, the father of the young girl ? Einally, was he really the man 
whom Thenardier thought he recognised? Could Thenardier have 
been mistaken? So many problems without issue. All this, it is 
true detracted nothing from the angelic charms of the young girl of the 
Luxembourg. Bitter wretchedness ; Marius had a passion in his heart, 
and night over his eyes. He was pushed, he was drawn, and he could 
not stir. All had vanished, except love. Even of love, he had lost the 

Saint Denis 347 

instincts and the sudden illuminations. Ordinarily, this flame which 
consumes us, illumines us also a little, and sheds some useful light 
without. Those vague promptings of passion, Marius no longer even 
heard. N^ever did he say to himself : Suppose I go there ? suppose 
I try this? She whom he could no longer call Ursula was evidently 
somewhere ; nothing indicated to Marius the direction in which he must 
seek for her. His whole life was now resumed in two words: an ab- 
solute uncertainty in an impenetrable mist. To see her again, Her; 
he aspired to this continually ; he hoped for it no longer. 

The days passed, however, one after another, and there was nothing 
new. It seemed to him, merely, that the dreary space which remained 
for him to run through was contracting with every instant. He 
thought that he already saw distinctly the brink of the bottomless 

"What !'' he repeated to himself, "shall I never see her again before !'' 

If you go up the Rue Saint Jacques, leave the Barriere at your side, 
and follow the old interior boulevard to the left for some distance, you 
come to the Eue de la Sante, then La Glaciere, and, a little before reach- 
ing the small stream of the Gobelins, you find a sort of field, which is, in 
the long and monotonous circuit of the boulevards of Paris, the only 
spot where Ruysdael would be tempted to sit down. 

That indescribable something from which grace springs is there, a 
green meadow crossed by tight drawn ropes, on which rags are drying 
in the wind, an old market-garden farmhouse built in the time of Louis 
XIII. , with its large roof grotesquely pierced with dormer windows, 
broken palisade fences, a small pond between the poplars, women, 
laughter, voices; in the horizon the Pantheon, the tree of the Deaf- 
mutes, the Yal de Grace, black, squat, fantastic, amusing, magnificent, 
and in the background the severe square summits of the towers of 
Notre Dame. 

As the place is worth seeing, nobody goes there. Hardly a cart or 
a waggon once in a quarter of an hour. 

It happened one day that Marius' solitary walks conducted him to 
this spot near this pond. That day there was a rarity on the boulevard, 
a passer. Marius, vaguely struck with the almost sylvan charm of the 
spot, asked this traveller : "What is the name of this place V^ 

348 Les Miserables 

The traveller answered: "It is the Field of the Lark." 

And he added : "It was here that Ulbach killed the shepherdess of 

But after that word, "the Lark," Marius had heard nothing more. 
There are such sudden congelations in the dreamy state, which a word is 
sufficient to produce. The whole mind condenses abruptly about one 
idea, and ceases to be capable of any other perception. 

The Lark was the appellation which, in the depths of Marius' mel- 
ancholy, had replaced Ursula. "Yes," said he in the kind of unreason- 
ing stupor peculiar to these mysterious asides, "this is her field. I 
shall learn here where she lives." 

This was absurd, but irresistible. 

And he came every day to this Field of the Lark. 


Marius now visited nobody, but he sometimes happened to meet Father 

While Marius was slowly descending those dismal steps, which one 
might call cellar stairs, and which lead into places without light 
where we hear the happy walking above us, M. Mabeuf also was de- 

M. Mabeuf could only cultivate a few rare plants which like mois- 
ture and shade. He was not discouraged, however. He had ob- 
tained a bit of ground in the Jardin des Plantes, with a good 
exposure, to carry on, "at his own cost," his experiments upon indigo. 
He had reduced his breakfast to two eggs, and he left one of them for 
his old servant, whose wages he had not paid for fifteen months. And 
often his breakfast was his only meal. He laughed no more with his 
childlike laugh, he had become morose, and he now received no visits. 
Marius was right in not thinking to come. Sometimes, at the hour 
when M. Mabeuf went to the Jardin des Plantes, the old man and 
the young man met on the Boulevard de FHopital. They did not 
speak, but sadly nodded their heads. It is a bitter thing that there 
should be a moment when misery unbinds! They had been two 
friends, they were two passers. 

One night M. Mabeuf saw a singular apparition. 

Saint Denis 3^9 

He had come home while it was still broad day. Mother Plutarch, 
his devoted old servant, whose health was poor, was sick and gone to 
bed. He had dined on a bone on which a little meat was left, and a 
bit of bread which he had found on the kitchen table, and had sat 
down on a block of stone, which took the place of a seat in his garden. 

IN'ear this seat there rose, in the fashion of the old orchard-gardens, 
a sort of hut, in a ruinous condition, of joists and boards, a warren 
on the ground floor, a fruit-house above. There were no rabbits in 
the warren, but there were a few apples in the fruit-house. A 
remnant of the winter's store. 

M. Mabeuf had begun to look through, reading by the way, with 
the help of his spectacles, two books which enchanted him, and in 
which he was even absorbed, a more serious thing at his age. Twilight 
was beginning to whiten all above and to blacken all below. As he 
read, Father Mabeuf was looking over the book which he held in his 
hand, at his plants, and among others at a magnificent rhododendron 
which was one of his consolations ; there had been four days of drought, 
wind, and sun, without a drop of rain; the stalks bent over, the buds 
hung down, the leaves were falling, they all needed to be watered; 
the rhododendron especially was a sad sight. Father Mabeuf was one 
of those to whom plants have souls. The old man worked all day on 
his indigo bed, he was exhausted with fatigue, he got up neverthe- 
less, put his books upon the bench, and walked, bent over and with 
tottering steps, to the well, but when he had grasped the chain, he could 
not even draw it far enough to unhook it. Then he turned and looked 
with a look of anguish towards the sky which was filling with stars. 

The evening had that serenity which buries the sorrows of man 
under a strangely dreary yet eternal joy. The night promised to be 
as dry as the day had been. 

"Stars everywhere !" thought the old man ; "not the smallest cloud ! 
not a drop of water." 

And his head, which had been raised for a moment, fell back upon 
his breast. 

He raised it again and looked at the sky, murmuring: 

"A drop of dew ! a little pity !" 

He endeavoured once more to unhook the well-chain, but he could 

350 Les Miserables 

At this moment he heard a voice which said: 

"Father Mabeuf, would you like to have me water your garden?" 

At the same time he heard a sound like that of a passing deer in the 
hedge, and he saw springing out of the shrubbery a sort of tall, slender 
girl, who came and stood before him, looking boldly at him. She had 
less the appearance of a human being than of a form which had just 
been bom of the twilight. 

Before Father Mabeuf, who was easily startled, and who was, as 
we have said, subject to fear, could answer a word, this being, whose 
motions seemed grotesquely abrupt in the obscurity, had unhooked the 
chain, plunged in and drawn out the bucket, and filled the watering- 
pot, and the goodman saw this apparition with bare feet and a ragged 
skirt running along the beds, distributing life about her. The sound 
of the water upon the leaves filled Father Mabeuf s soul with trans- 
port. It seemed to him that now the rhododendron was happy. 

When the first bucket was emptied, the girl drew a second, then a 
third. She watered the whole garden. 

Moving thus along the walks, her outline appearing entirely black, 
shaking her torn shawl over her long angular arms, she seemed some- 
thing like a bat. 

When she had ended. Father Mabeuf approached her with tears in 
his eyes, and laid his hand upon her forehead. 

"God will bless you," said he, "you are an angel, since you care 
for flowers." 

"1^0," she answered, "I am the devil, but that is all the same 
to me." 

The old man exclaimed, without waiting for and without hearing 
her answer: 

"What a pity that I am so unfortunate and so poor, and that I 
cannot do anything for you!" 

"You can do something," said she. 


"Tell me where M. Marius lives." 

The old man did not understand. 

"What Monsieur Marius?" 

He raised his glassy eye and appeared to be looking for something 
that had vanished. 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

"A young man who used to come here." 

Meanwhile M. Mabeuf had fumbled in his memory. 

"Ah! yes, — " he exclaimed, "I know what you mean. Listen, 
now ! Monsieur Marius — the Baron Marius Pontmercy, yes ! he lives 
— or rather he does not live there now — ah ! well, I don't know." 

While he spoke, he had bent over to tie up a branch of the 
rhododendron, and he continued: 

"Ah! I remember now. He passes up the boulevard very often, 
and goes toward La Glaciere, Eue Croulebarbe. The Field of the 
Lark. Go that way. He isn't hard to find." 

When M. Mabeuf rose up, there was nobody there; the girl had 

He was decidedly a little frightened. 

"Eeally," thought he, "if my garden was not watered, I should 
think it was a spirit." 

An hour later when he had gone to bed, this returned to him, and, 
as he was falling asleep, at that troubled moment when thought, like 
that fabulous bird which changes itself into fish to pass through the 
sea, gradually takes the form of dream to pass through sleep, he said 
to himself confusedly : 

"Indeed, this much resembles what Rubaudiere relates of the goblins. 
Could it be a goblin?" 


A FEW days after this visit of a "spirit" to Father Mabeuf, one morn- 
ing Marius went "to take a little walk," hoping that it would enable 
him to work on his return. It was eternally so. He lived in the 
Field of the Lark rather than in Courfeyrac's room. This was his 
real address: Boulevard de la Sante, seventh tree from the Eue 

That morning, he had left this seventh tree, and sat down on the 
bank of the brook of the Gobelins. The bright sun was gleaming 
through the new and glossy leaves. 

He was thinking of "Her!" And his dreaminess, becoming re- 
proachful, fell back upon himself; he thought sorrowfully of the idle- 
ness, the paralysis of the soul, which was growing up within him, and 

^^2 Les Miserables 

of that night which was thickening before him hour by hour so rapidly 
that he had already ceased to see the sun. 

Meanwhile, through this painful evolution of indistinct ideas which 
were not even a soliloquy, so much had action become enfeebled within 
him, and he no longer had even the strength to develop his grief — 
through this melancholy distraction, the sensations of the world with- 
out reached him. He heard behind and below him, on both banks 
of the stream, the washerwoman of the Gobelins beating their linen; 
and over his head, the birds chattering and singing in the elms. 
On the one hand the sound of liberty, of happy unconcern, of 
winged leisure; on the other, the sound of labour. A thing which 
made him muse profoundly, and almost reflect, thqse two joyoua 

All at once, in the midst of his ecstasy of exhaustion, he heard a 
voice which was known to him, say : 

'^Ah ! there he is !" 

He raised his eyes and recognised the unfortunate child who had 
come to his room one morning, the elder of the Thenardier girls, 
Eponine ; he now knew her name. Singular fact, she had become more 
wretched and more beautiful, two steps which seemed impossible. She 
had accomplished a double progress towards the light, and towards 
distress. She was barefooted and in rags, as on the day when she had 
so resolutely entered his room, only her rags were two months older; 
the holes were larger, the tatters dirtier. It was the same rough voice, 
the same forehead tanned and wrinkled by exposure; the same free, 
wild, and wandering gaze. She had, in addition to her former ex- 
pression, that mixture of fear and sorrow which the experience of a 
prison adds to misery. 

She had spears of straw and grass in her hair, not like Ophelia from 
having gone mad through the contagion of Hamlet's madness, but be- 
cause she had slept in some stable loft. 

And with all this, she was beautiful. What a star thou art, O 
vouth ! 

Meantime, she had stopped before Marius, with an expression of 
pleasure upon her livid face, and something which resembled a smile. 

She stood for a few seconds, as if she could not speak. 

"I have found you, then?" said she at last. "Father Mabeuf was 

Saint Denis 353 

right ; it was on this boulevard. How I have looked for you ? if you 
only knew? Do you know? I have been in the jug. A fortnight! 
They have let me out! seeing that there was nothing against me, and 
then I was not of the age of discernment. It lacked two months. 
Oh ! how I have looked for you ! it is six weeks now. You don't live 
down there any longer ?'' 

"]^o," said Marius. 

"Oh! I understand. On account of the affair. Such scares are 
disagreeable. You have moved. What! why do you wear such an 
old hat as that ? a young man like you ought to have fine clothes. Do 
you know, Monsieur Marius ? Father Mabeuf calls you Baron Marius, 
I forget what more. It's not true that you are a baron? barons are 
old fellows, they go to the Luxembourg in front of the chateau where 
there is the most sun, they read the Quotidienne for a sou. I went 
once for a letter to a baron's like that. He was more than a hundred 
years old. But tell me, where do you live now ?" 

Marius did not answer. 

"Ah !'^ she continued, "you have a hole in your shirt. I must mend 
it for you." 

She resumed with an expression which gradually grew darker: 

"You don't seem to be glad to see me ?" 

Marius said nothing; she herself was silent for a moment, then ex- 
claimed : 

"But if I would, I could easily make you glad !" 

"How?" inquired Marius. "What does that mean?" 

"Ah ! you used to speak more kindly to me !" replied she. 

"Well, what is it that you mean ?" 

She bit her lip; she seemed to hesitate, as if passing through a 
kind of interior struggle. At last, she appeared to decide upon her 

"So much the worse, it makes no difference. You look sad, I want 
you to be glad. But promise me that you will laugh, I want to see 
you laugh and hear you say : Ah, well ! that is good. Poor Monsieur 
Marius ! you know, you promised me that you would give me whatever 
I should ask — " 

"Yes! but tell me!" 

She looked into Marius' eyes and said: 

354 Les Miserables 

"I have the address." 

Marius turned pale. All his blood flowed back to his heart. 

"What address ?" 

"The address you asked me for!" 

She added as if she were making an effort: 

"The address — ^you know well enough!" 

"Yes!" stammered Marius. 

"Of the young lady!" 

Having pronounced this word, she sighed deeply. 

Marius sprang up from the bank on which he was sitting, and took 
her wildly by the hand. 

"Oh! come! show me the way, tell me! ask me for whatever you 
will! Where is it?" 

"Come with me," she answered. "I am not sure of the street and 
the number; it is away on the other side from here, but I know the 
house very well. I will show you." 

She withdrew her hand and added in a tone which would have 
pierced the heart of an observer, but which did not even touch the 
intoxicated and transported Marius: 

"Oh! how glad you are!" 

A cloud passed over, Marius' brow. He seized Eponine by the arm: 

"Swear to me one thing !" 

"Swear?" said she, "what does that mean? Ah! you want me to 
swear ?" 

And she laughed. 

"Your father! promise me, Eponine! swear to me that you will 
not give this address to your father!" 

She turned towards him with an astounded appearance. 

"Eponine ! How do you know that my name is Eponine ?" 

"Promise what I ask you !" 

But she did not seem to understand. 

"That is nice ! you called me Eponine !" 

Marius caught her by both arms at once. 

"But answer me now, in heaven's name! pay attention to what I 
am saying, swear to me that you will not give the address you know 
to your father !" 

"My father?" said she. "Oh! yes, my father! Do not be con- 

Saint Denis 355 

cerned on his account. He is in solitary. Besides, do I busy myself 
about my father!" 

"But you don't promise me !" exclaimed Marius. 

"Let me go then !" said she, bursting into a laugh, "how you shake 
me! Yes! yes! I promise you that! I swear to you that! What is 
it to me? I won't give the address to my father. There! will that 
do ? is that it ?" 

"!N'or to anybody?" said Marius. 

"!N'or to anybody." 

"Now," added Marius, "show me the way." 

"Right away?" 

"Right away." 



Towards the middle of the last century, a velvet-capped president of 
the Parlement of Paris had ''une petite maison' built in the Eaubourg 
Saint Germain, in the deserted Rue de Blomet, now called the Rue 
Plumet, not far from the spot which then went by the name of the 
Combat des Animaux. 

This was a summer-house of but two stories; two rooms on the 
ground floor, two chambers in the second story, a kitchen below, a 
boudoir above, a garret next the roof, the whole fronted by a garden 
with a large iron grated gate opening on the street. This garden 
contained about an acre. This was all that the passers-by could see; 
but in the rear of the house there was a small yard, at the further 
end of which there was a low building, two rooms only and a cellar, 
a convenience intended to conceal a child and nurse in case of need. 
This building communicated, from the rear, by a masked door open- 
ing secretly, with a long narrow passage, paved, winding, open to 
the sky, bordered by two high walls, and which, concealed with 
wonderful art, and as it were lost between the inclosures of the gardens 
and fields, all the corners and turnings of which it followed, came to 
an end at another door, also concealed, which opened a third of a 

3^6 Les Miserables 

mile away, almost in another quartier, upon the unbuilt end of the 
Rue de Babylone. 

The house, built of stone in the Mansard style, wainscoted, and 
furnished in the Watteau style, rock-work within, peruke without, 
walled about with a triple hedge of flowers, had a discreet, coquettish, 
and solemn appearance about it, suitable to a caprice of love and of 

This house and this passage, which have since disappeared, were 
still in existence fifteen years ago. In '93, a coppersmith bought the 
house to pull it down, but not being able to pay the price for it, the 
nation sent him into bankruptcy. So that it was the house that 
pulled down the coppersmith. Thereafter the house remained empty, 
and fell slowly into ruin, like all dwellings to which the presence 
of man no longer communicates life. It remained, furnished with its 
old furniture, and always for sale or for let, and the ten or twelve 
persons who passed through the Rue Plumet in the course of a year 
were notified of this by a yellow and illegible piece of paper which 
had hung upon the railing of the garden since 1810. 

Towards the end of the Restoration, these same passers might have 
noticed that the paper had disappeared, and that, also, the shutters 
of the upper story were open. The house was indeed occupied. The 
windows had "little curtains," a sign that there was a woman there. 

In the month of October, 1829, a man of a certain age had appeared 
and hired the house as it stood, including, of course, the building in 
the rear, and the passage which ran out to the Rue de Babylone. He 
had the secret openings of the two doors of this passage repaired. 
The house, as we have just said, was still nearly furnished with the 
president's old furniture. The new tenant had ordered a few repairs, 
added here and there what was lacking, put in a few flags in the 
yard, a few bricks in the basement, a few steps in the staircase, a 
few tiles in the floors, a few panes in the windows, and finally came 
and installed himself with a young girl and an aged servant, with- 
out any noise, rather like somebody stealing in than like a man who 
enters his own house. The neighbours did not gossip about it, for 
the reason that there were no neighbours. 

This tenant, to partial extent, was Jean Yaljean; the young girl 
was Cosette. The servant was a spinster named Toussaint, whom 

Saint Denis ^^'^ 

Jean Valjean had saved from the hospital and misery, and Who 
was old, stuttering, and a native of a province, three qualities which 
had determined Jean Valjean to take her with him. He hired the 
house under the name of Monsieur Fauchelevent, gentleman. In 
what has been related hitherto, the reader doubtless recognised Jean 
Valjean even before Thenar dier did. 

Why had Jean Valjean left the convent of the Petit Picpus ? What 
had happened ? 

Nothing had happened. 

As we remember, Jean Valjean was happy in the convent, so happy 
that his conscience at last began to be troubled. He saw Cosette 
every day, he felt paternity springing up and developing within 
him more and more, he brooded this child with his soul, he said to 
himself that she was his, that nothing could take her from him, that 
this would be so indefinitely, that certainly she would become a nun, 
being every day gently led on towards it, that thus the convent was 
henceforth the universe to her as well as him, that he would grow old 
there and she would grow up there, that she would grow old there 
and he would die there; that finally, ravishing hope, no separation 
was possible. In reflecting upon this, he at last began to find diffi- 
culties. He questioned himself. He asked himself if all this hap- 
piness were really his own, if it were not made up of the happiness 
of another, of the happiness of this child whom he was appropriating 
and plundering, he, an old man; if this was not robbery? He 
said to himself that this child had a right to know what life was 
before renouncing it; that to cut her off, in advance, and, in some 
sort, without consulting her, from all pleasure, under pretence of 
saving her from all trial, to take advantage of her ignorance and 
isolation, to give her an artificial vocation, was to outrage a human 
creature and to lie to God. And who knows but, thinking over all 
this some day, and being a nun with regret, Cosette might come to 
hate him? a final thought, which was almost selfish and less heroic 
than the others, but which was insupportable to him. He resolved 
to leave the convent. 

He resolved it, he recognised with despair that it must be done. 
As to objections, there were none. Five years of sojourn between 
those four walls, and of absence from among men, had necessarily 

358 Les Miserables 

destroyed or dispersed the elements of alarm. He might return tran- 
quilly among men. He had grown old, and all had changed. Who 
would recognise him now? And then, to look at the worst, there 
was no danger save for himself, and he had no right to condemn 
Cosette to the cloister for the reason that he had been condemned to 
the galleys. What, moreover, is danger in presence of duty? 
Finally, nothing prevented him from being prudent, and taking proper 

As to Cosette's education, it was almost finished and complete. 

His determination once formed, he awaited an opportunity. It 
was not slow to present itself. Old Fauchelevent died. 

Jean Valjean asked an audience of the reverend prioress, and told 
her that having received a small inheritance on the death of his 
brother, which enabled him to live henceforth without labour, he 
would leave the service of the convent, and take away his daughter; 
but that, as it was not just that Cosette, not taking her vows, should 
have been educated gratuitously, he humbly begged the reverend prior- 
ess to allow him to offer the community, as indemnity for the five 
years which Cosette had passed there, the sum of ^yo thousand 

Thus Jean Valjean left the convent of the Perpetual Adoration. 

On leaving the convent, he took in his own hands, and would not 
entrust to any assistant, the little box, the key of which he always had 
about him. This box puzzled Cosette, on account of the odour of 
embalming which came from it. 

Let us say at once, that henceforth this box never left him more. 
He always had it in his room. It was the first, and sometimes the 
only thing that he carried away in his changes of abode. Cosette 
laughed about it, and called this box the inseparable, saying: "I am 
jealous of it." 

Jean Valjean nevertheless did not appear again in the open city 
without deep anxiety. 

He discovered the house in the Eue Plumet, and buried himself 
in it. He was henceforth in possession of the name of Ultimus Fauch- 

At the same time he hired two other lodgings in Paris, in order 
to attract less attention than if he always remained in the same 

Saint Denis 359 

quartier, to be able to change his abode on occasion, at the slightest 
anxiety which he might feel, and finally, that he might not again 
find himself in such a strait as on the night when he had so 
miraculously escaped from Javert. These two lodgings were two very 
humble dwellings, and of a poor appearance, in two quartiers widely 
distant from each other, one in the Eue de F Quest, the other in the 
Rue de V Homme Arme. 

He went from time to time, now to the Rue de THomme Arme, 
and now to the Rue de I'Ouest, to spend a month or six weeks, with 
Cosette, without taking Toussaint. He was waited upon by the por- 
ters, and gave himself out for a man of some means of the suburbs, 
having a foothold in the city. This lofty virtue had three domiciles 
in Paris in order to escape from the police. 


Still, properly speaking, he lived in the Rue Plumet, and he had 
ordered his life there in the following manner: 

Cosette with the servant occupied the house; she had the large 
bedroom with painted piers, the boudoir with gilded mouldings, the 
president's parlour furnished with tapestry and huge arm-chairs; she 
had the garden. Jean Valjean had a bed put into Cosette's chamber 
with a canopy of antique damask in three colours, and an old and 
beautiful Persian carpet, bought at Mother Gaucher's in the Rue du 
Figuier Saint Paul, and, to soften the severity of these magnificent 
relics, he had added to this curiosity shop all the little lively and grace- 
ful pieces of furniture used by young girls, an etagere, a bookcase 
and gilt books, a writing-case, a blotting-case, a work-table inlaid with 
pearl, a silver-gilt dressing-case, a dressing table in Japan porcelain. 
Long damask curtains of three colours, on a red ground, matching 
those of the bed, hung at the second story windows. On the first floor, 
tapestry curtains. All winter Oosette's Petite Maison was warmed 
from top to bottom. For his part, he lived in the sort of porter's 
lodge in the back-yard, with a mattress on a cot bedstead, a white wood 
table, two straw chairs, an earthen water-pitcher, a few books upon a 
board, his dear box in a corner, never any fire. He dined with 
Cosette, and there was a black loaf on the table for him. He said to 

360 Les Miserables 

Toussaint, when she entered their service : "Mademoiselle is the mis- 
tress of the house." ^^And you, m-monsieur?" replied Toussaint, 
astounded. "Me, I am much better than the master, I am the father." 

Cosette had been trained to housekeeping in the convent, and she 
regulated the expenses, which were very moderate. Every day Jean 
Valjean took Cosette's arm, and went to walk with her. They went to 
the least frequented walk of the Luxembourg, and every Sunday to 
mass, always at Saint Jacques du Haut Pas, because it was quite dis- 
tant. As that is a very poor quartier, he gave much alms there, and 
the unfortunate surrounded him in the church, which had given him 
the title of the superscription of the epistle of the Thenardiers: To 
the benevolent gentleman of the church of Saint Jacques du Haut Pas. 
He was fond of taking Cosette to visit the needy and the sick. 'No 
stranger came into the house in the Rue Plumet. Toussaint brought 
the provisions, and Jean Valjean himself went after the water to a 
watering trough which was near by on the boulevard. They kept the 
wood and the wine in a kind of semi-subterranean vault covered with 
rock-work, which was near the door on the Rue de Babylone, and 
which had formerly served the president as a grotto; for, in the time 
of the Folies and the Petites Maisons, there was no love without a 
grotto. ~ 

There was on the Rue de Babylone door a box for letters and papers ; 
but the three occupants of the summer-house on the Rue Plumet re- 
ceiving neither papers nor letters, the entire use of the box, formerly 
the agent of amours and the confidant of a legal spark, was now limited 
to the notices of the receiver of taxes and the Guard warnings. Por 
M. Fauchelevent belonged to the National Guard: he had not been 
able to escape the close meshes of the enrolment of 1831. The munici- 
pal investigation made at that time had extended even to the convent 
of the Petit Picpus, a sort of impenetrable and holy cloud from which 
Jean Valjean had come forth venerable in the eyes of his magistracy, 
and, in consequence, worthy of mounting guard. 

Three or four times a year, Jean Valjean donned his uniform, and 
performed his duties; very willingly moreover; it was a good dis- 
guise for him, which associated him with everybody else while leav- 
ing him solitary. Jean Valjean had completed his sixtieth year, the 
age of legal exemption; but he did not appear more than fifty; more- 

Saint Denis 9^1 

over, he had no desire to escape from his sergeant-major and to cavil 
with the Count de Lobau ; he had no civil standing ; he was concealing 
his name, he was concealing his identity, he was concealing his age, 
he was concealing everything; and, we have just said, he was very 
willingly a National Guard. To resemble the crowd who pay their 
taxes, this was his whole ambition. This man had for his ideal within, 
the angel — without, the bourgeois. 

We must note one incident, however. When Jean Valjean went 
out with Cosette, he dressed as we have seen, and had much the air of 
an old officer. When he went out alone, and this was most usually 
in the evening, he was always clad in the waistcoat and trousers of a 
working-man, and wore a cap which hid his face. Was this pre- 
caution, or humility? Both at once. Cosette was accustomed to the 
enigmatic aspect of her destiny, and hardly noticed her father^s 
singularities. As for Toussaint, she venerated Jean Valjean, and 
thought everything good that he did. One day, her butcher, who had 
caught sight of Jean Valjean, said to her: "That is a funny body." 
She answered: "He is a s-saint!" 

Neither Jean Valjean, nor Cosette, nor Toussaint, ever came in or 
went out except by the gate on the Rue de Babylone. Unless one 
had seen them through the grated gate of the garden, it would have 
been difficult to guess that they lived in the Rue Plumet. This gate 
always remained closed. Jean Valjean had left the garden unculti- 
vated, that it might not attract attention. 

In this, he deceived himself, perhaps. 


One day Cosette happened to look in her mirror, and she said to her- 
self: "What!'' It seemed to her almost that she was pretty. This 
threw her into strange anxiety. Up to this moment she had never 
thought of her face. She had seen herself in her glass, but she had 
not looked at herself. And then, she had often been told that she 
was homely; Jean Valjean alone would quietly say: "Why no! why! 
no!" However that might be, Cosette had always thought herself 
homely, and had grown up in that idea with the pliant resignation 
of childhood. And now suddenly her mirror said like Jean Valjean: 

2^2 Les Miserables 

"Why no!" She had no sleep that night. "If I were pretty!" 
thought she, "how funny it would be if I should be pretty !" And she 
called to mind those of her companions whose beauty had made an im- 
pression in the convent, and said: "What! I should be like Made- 
moiselle Such-a-one!" 

The next day she looked at herself, but not by chance, and she 
doubted. "Where were my wits gone ?" said she, "no, I am homely." 
She had merely slept badly, her eyes were dark and she was pale. 
She had not felt very happy the evening before, in the thought that 
she was beautiful, but she was sad at thinking so no longer. She did 
not look at herself again, and for more than a fortnight she tried to 
dress her hair with her back to the mirror. 

In the evening after dinner, she regularly made tapestry or did 
some convent work in the parlour, while Jean Valjean read by her 
side. Once, on raising her eyes from her work, she was very much 
surprised at the anxious way in which her father was looking at her. 

At another time, she was passing along the street, and it seemed to 
her that somebody behind her, whom she did not see, said: "Pretty 
woman ! but badly dressed." "Pshaw !" thought she, "that is not me. 
I am well dressed and homely." She had on at the time her plush hat 
and merino dress. 

At last, she was in the garden one day, and heard poor old Toussaint 
saying: "Monsieur, do you notice how pretty mademoiselle is grow- 
ing?" Cosette did not hear what her father answered. Toussaint^s 
words threw her into a sort of commotion. She ran out of the garden, 
went up to her room, hurried to the glass, it was three months since 
she had looked at herself, and uttered a cry. She was dazzled by her- 

She was beautiful and handsome; she could not help being of 
Toussaint's and her mirror's opinion. Her form was complete, her 
skin had become white, her hair had grown lustrous, an unknown 
splendour was lighted up in her blue eyes. The consciousness of her 
beauty came to her entire, in a moment, like broad daylight when it 
bursts upon us ; others noticed it moreover, Toussaint said so, it was of 
her evidently that the passer had spoken, there was no more doubt; 
she went down into the garden again, thinking herself a queen, hear- 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

ing the birds sing, it was in winter, seeing the sky golden, the sunshine 
in the trees, flowers among the shrubbery, wild, mad, in an inexpres- 
sible rapture. 

For his part, Jean Valjean felt a deep and undefinable anguish in 

his heart. 

From that day, he noticed that Cosette, who previously was always 
asking to stay in, saying: "Father, I enjoy myself better here with 
you," was now always asking to go out. Indeed, what is the use of 
having a pretty face and a delightful dress, if you do not show them ? 

He also noticed that Cosette no longer had the same taste for the 
back-yard. She now preferred to stay in the garden, walking even 
without displeasure before the grating. Jean Valjean, ferocious, did 
not set his foot in the garden. He stayed in his back-yard, like a dog. 

Cosette, by learning that she was beautiful, lost the grace of not 
knowing it ; an exquisite grace, for beauty heightened by artlessness is 
iiieffable, and nothing is so adorable as dazzling innocence, going on 
her way, and holding in her hand, all unconscious, the key of a para- 
dise. But what she lost in ingenuous grace, she gained in pensive and 
serious charm. Her whole person, pervaded by the joys of youth, 
innocence, and beauty, breathed a splendid melancholy. 

It was at this period that Marius, after the lapse of six months, saw 
her again at the Luxembourg. 


Every condition has its instinct. The old and eternal mother, Nature, 
silently warned Jean Valjean of the presence of Marius. Jean Val- 
jean shuddered in the darkness of his mind. Jean Valjean saw noth- 
ing, knew nothing, but still gazed with persistent fixedness at the dark- 
ness which surrounded him, as if he perceived on one side something 
which was building, and on the other something which was falling 
down. Marius, also warned, and, according to the deep law of God, 
by this same mother, Nature, did all that he could to hide himself 
from the "father." It happened, however, that Jean Valjean some- 
times perceived him. Marius' ways were no longer at all natural. 
He had an equivocal prudence and an awkward boldness. He ceased 

^^^ Les Miserables 

to come near them as formerly; he sat down at a distance, and re- 
mained there in an ecstasy; he had a book and pretended to be read- 
ing; why did he pretend? Formerly he came with his old coat, now 
he had his new coat on every day ; it was not very certain that he did 
not curl his hair, he had strange eyes, he wore gloves; in short, Jean 
Valjean cordially detested this young man. 

Cosette gave no ground for suspicion. Without knowing exactly 
what affected her, she had a very definite feeling that it was some- 
thing, and that it must be concealed. 

There was between the taste for dress which had arisen in Cosette 
and the habit of wearing new coats which had grown upon this un- 
known man, a parallelism which made Jean Valjean anxious. It was 
an accident perhaps, doubtless, certainly, but a threatening accident. 

We know the rest. The insanity of Marius continued. One day 
he followed Cosette to the Rue F Quest. Another day he spoke to the 
porter : the porter in his turn spoke, and said to Jean Valjean : ^'Mon- 
sieur, who is that curious young man who has been asking for you ?" 
The next day, Jean Valjean cast that glance at Marius which Marius 
finally perceived. A week after, Jean Valjean had moved. He re- 
solved that he would never set his foot again either in the Luxembourg, 
or in the Rue de 1' Quest. He returned to the Rue Plumet. 

Cosette did not complain, she said nothing, she asked no questions, 
she did not seek to know any reason ; she was already at that point at 
which one fears discovery and self -betrayal. Jean Valjean had no 
experience of this misery, the only misery which is charming, the only 
misery which he did not know ; for this reason, he did not understand 
the deep significance of Cosette's silence. He noticed only that she had 
become sad, and he became gloomy. There was on either side an 
armed inexperience. 

Qnce he made a trial. He asked Cosette : 

"Would you like to go to the Luxembourg?" 

A light illumined Cosette's pale face. 

"Yes," said she. 

They went. Three months had passed. Marius went there no 
longer. Marius was not there. 

The next day, Jean Valjean asked Cosette again: 

Saint Denis 365 

^ Would you like to go to the Luxembourg?" 

She answered sadly and quietly: 


Jean Valjean was hurt by this sadness, and harrowed by this 

What was taking place in this spirit so young, and already so im- 
penetrable? What was in course of accomplishment in it? what was 
happening to Cosette's soul? Sometimes, instead of going to bed, 
Jean Yaljean sat by his bedside with his head in his hands, and he 
spent whole nights asking himself: "What is there in Cosette^s 
mind ?" and thinking what things she could be thinking about. 

For her part, Cosette was languishing. She suffered from the 
absence of Marius, as she had rejoiced in his presence, in a peculiar 
way, without really knowing it. When Jean Valjean ceased to take 
her on their usual walk, her woman's instinct murmured confusedly 
in the depths of her heart, that she must not appear to cling to the 
Luxembourg; and that if it were indifferent to her, her father would 
take her back there. But days, weeks, and months passed away. Jean 
Valjean had tacitly accepted Cosette's tacit consent. She regretted it. 
It was too late. The day she returned to the Luxembourg, Marius longer there. Marius then had disappeared; it was all over; 
what could she do ? Would she ever find him again ? 

Still she did not let Jean Valjean see anything, except her paleness. 
She kept her face sweet for him. 

This paleness was more than suflScient to make Jean Valjean 
anxious. Sometimes he asked her: 

"What is the matter with you?" 

She answered: 


And after a silence, as she felt that he was sad also, she continued: 

"And you, father, is not something the matter with you ?" 

"Me ? nothing," said he. 

These two beings, who had loved each other so exclusively, and with 
so touching a love, and who had lived so long for each other, were 
now suffering by each other, and through each other; without speak- 
ing of it, without harsh feeling, and smiling the while. 

3^^ Les Miserables 


The more unliappy of the two was Jean Valjean. Youth, even in 
its sorrows, always has a brilliancy of its own. 

At certain moments, Jean Valjean suffered so much that he became 
puerile. It is the peculiarity of grief to bring out the childish side 
of man. He felt irresistibly that Cosette was escaping him. He 
would have been glad to put forth an effort, to hold her fast, to rouse 
her enthusiasm by something external and striking. These ideas, 
puerile, as we have just said, and at the same time senile, gave him by 
their very childishness a just idea of the influence of gewgaws over the 
imagination of young girls. He chanced once to see a general pass 
in the street on horseback in full uniform. Count Coutard, Command- 
ant of Paris. He envied this gilded man; he thought what happiness 
it would be to be able to put on that coat which was an incontestable 
thing, that if Cosette saw him thus it would dazzle her, that when he 
sliould give his arm to Cosette and pass before the gate of the Tuileries 
they would present arms to him, and that that would so satisfy Cosette 
that- it would destroy her inclination to look at the young men. 

An unexpected shock came to him in the midst of these sad thoughts. 

In the isolated life which they were leading, and since they had 
come to live in Rue Plumet, they had formed a habit. They some- 
times made a pleasure excursion to go and see the sun rise, a gentle 
]oy suited to those who are entering upon life and those who are leav- 

ing it. 

Even after their life had been saddened, they continued their habit 
of morning walks. 

So one October morning, tempted by the deep serenity of the autumn 
of 1831, they had gone out, and found themselves at daybreak near 
the Barriere du Maine. All was peace and silence; nobody upon the 
highway ; on the footpaths a few scattered working-men, hardly visible, 
going to their work. 

Jean Valjean was seated in the side walk, upon some timbers lying 
by the gate of a lumber-yard. He had his face turned towards the 
road, and his back towards the light; he had forgotten the sun which 
was just rising; he had fallen into one of those deep meditations in 

Saint Denis ^^'^ 

which the whole mind is absorbed, which even imprison the sense, and 
which are equivalent to four walls. 

Suddenly, Cosette exclaimed: "Father, I should think somebody 
was coming down there.'' Jean Valjean looked up. 

Cosette was right. 

The highway which leads to the ancient Barriere du Maine is a 
prolongation, as everybody knows, of the Eue de Sevres, and is inter- 
sected at a right angle by the interior boulevard. At the corner of 
the highway and the boulevard, at the point where they diverge, a 
sound was heard, difficult of explanation at such an hour, and a kind 
of moving confusion appeared. Some shapeless thing which came 
from the boulevard was entering upon the highway. 

It grew larger, it seemed to move in order, stil it was bristling and 
quivering; it looked like a waggon^ but they could not make out the 
load. There were horses, wheels, cries; whips were cracking. By 
degrees the features became definite, although enveloped in darkness. 
It was in fact a waggon which had just turned out of the boulevard 
into the road, and which was making its way towards the barriere, 
near which Jean Valjean was; a second, of the same appearance, 
followed it, then a third, then a fourth; seven vehicles turned in in 
succession, the horses' heads touching the rear of the waggons. Dark 
forms were moving upon these waggons, flashes were seen in the twi- 
light as if of drawn swords, a clanking was heard which resembled 
the rattling of chains ; it advanced, the voices grew louder, and it was 
as terrible a thing as comes forth from the cavern of dreams. 

As it approached it took form, and outlined itself behind the trees 
with the pallor of an apparition; the mass whitened; daylight, which 
was rising little by little, spread a pallid gleam over this crawling 
thing, which was at once sepulchral and alive, the heads of the shadows 
became the faces of corpses, and it was this: 

Seven waggons were moving in file upon the road. Six of them were 
of a peculiar structure. They resembled coopers' drays; they were 
a sort of long ladder placed upon two wheels, forming thills at the 
forward end. Each dray, or better, each ladder, was drawn by four 
horses tandem. Upon these ladders strange clusters of men were 
carried. In the little light that there was, these men were not seen, 
they were only guessed. Twenty-four on each waggon, twelve on each 

^^^ Les Miserable^ 

side, back to back, their faces towards the passers-by, their legs hang- 
ing down, these men were travelling thus; and they had behind them 
something which clanked and which was a chain, and at their necks 
something which shone and which was an iron collar. Each had his 
collar, but the chain was for all; so that these twenty-four men, if 
they should chance to get down from the dray and walk, would be made 
subject to a sort of inexorable unity, and have to wriggle over the 
ground with the chain for a backbone, very much like centipedes. In 
front and rear of each waggon, two men, armed with muskets, stood, 
each having an end of the chain under his foot. The collars were 
square. The seventh waggon, a huge cart with racks, but without a 
cover, had four wheels and six horses, and carried a resounding pile 
of iron kettles, melting pots, furnaces, and chains, over which were 
scattered a number of men, who were bound and lying at full length, 
and who appeared to be sick. This cart, entirely exposed to view, 
was furnished with broken hurdles which seemed to have served in 
the ancient punishments. 

These waggons kept the middle of the street. At either side 
marched a row of guards of infamous appearance, wearing three- 
pronged hats like the soldiers of the Directory, stained, torn, filthy, 
muffled up in Invalides' uniforms and hearse-boys' trousers, half grey 
and half blue, almost in tatters, with red epaulets, yellow cross-belts, 
sheath-knives, muskets, and clubs: a species of servant-soldiers. 
These sbirri seemed a compound of the abjectness of the beggar and 
the authority of the executioner. The one who appeared to be their 
chief had a horsewhip in his hand. All these details, blurred by the 
twilight, were becoming clearer and clearer in the growing light. At 
the head and the rear of the convoy, gendarmes marched on horseback, 
solemn, and with drawn swords. 

This . cortege was so long that when the first waggon reached the 
barriere, the last had hardly turned out of the boulevard. 

A crowd, come from nobody knows where, and gathered in a twink- 
ling, as is frequently the case in Paris, were pushing along the two 
sides of the highway and looking on. In the neighbouring lanes there 
were heard people shouting and calling each other, and the wooden 
shoes of the market gardeners who were running to see. 

The men heaped upon the drays were silent as they were jolted 

Saint Denis 369 

along. They were livid with the chill of the morning. They all had 
tow trousers, and their bare feet in wooden shoes. The rest of their 
costume was according to the fancy of misery. Their dress was 
hideously variegated: nothing is more dismal than the harlequin of 
rags. Felt hats jammed out of shape, glazed caps, horrible cloth caps, 
and beside the linen monkey-jacket, the black coat out at the elbows; 
several had women's hats; others had baskets on their heads; hairy 
breasts could be seen, and through the holes in their clothing tattooings 
could be discerned ; temples of love, burning hearts, cupids, eruptions, 
and red sores could also be seen. Two or three had a rope of straw 
fixed to the bars of the dray, and hung beneath them like a stirrup, 
which sustained their feet. One of them held in his hand and carried 
to his mouth something which looked like a black stone, which he 
seemed to be gnawing; it was bread which he was eating. There 
were none but dry eyes among them ; they were rayless, or lighted with 
an evil light. The troop of escort was cursing, the chained did not 
whisper ; from time to time there was heard the sound of the blow of a 
club upon their shoulders or their heads; some of these men were 
yawning ; their rags were terrible ; their feet hung down, their shoulders 
swung, their heads struck together, their irons rattled, their eyes 
glared fiercely, their fists were clenched or opened inertly like the 
hands of the dead ; behind the convoy a troop of children were burst- 
ing with laughter. 

This file of waggons, whatever it was, was dismal. It was evident 
that to-morrow, that in an hour, a shower might spring up, that it 
would be followed by another, and another, and that the worn-out 
clothing would be soaked through, that once wet, these men would 
never get dry, that once chilled, they would never get warm again, 
that their tow trousers would be fastened to their skin by the rain, 
that water would fill their wooden shoes, that blows of the whip could 
not prevent the chattering of their jaws, that the chain would continue 
to hold them by the neck, that their feet would continue to swing ; and 
it was impossible not to shudder at seeing these human creatures thus 
bound and passive under the chilling clouds of autumn, and given up 
to the rain, to the wind, to all the fury of the elements, like trees and 

The clubs did not spare even the sick, who lay tied with ropes and 

'^o Les Miserables 

motionless in tlie seventh waggon, and who seemed to have been thrown 
there like sacks filled with misery. 

Jean Yal jean's eye had become frightful. It was no longer an eye ; 
it was that deep window, which takes the place of the look in certain 
unfortunate beings, who seem unconscious of reality, and from which 
flashes out the reflection of horrors and catastrophes. He was not 
looking upon a sight ; a vision was appearing to him. He endeavoured 
to rise, to flee, to escape; he could not move a limb. Sometimes 
things which you see, clutch you and hold you. He was spell-bound, 
stupefied, petrified, asking himself, through a vague unutterable 
anguish, what was the meaning of this sepulchral persecution, and 
whence came this pandemonium which was pursuing him. AH at 
once he raised his hand to his forehead, a common gesture with those 
to whom memory suddenly returns; he remembered that this was 
really the route, that this detour was usual to avoid meeting the king, 
which was always possible on the Fontainebleau road, and that, thirty- 
five years before, he had passed through this barriere. 

Cosette, though from another cause, was equally terrified. She 
did not comprehend; her breath failed her; what she saw did not 
seem possible to her ; at last she exclaimed : 

^Tather ! what can there be in those waggons ?" 

Jean Valjean answered: 


"And where are they going ?" 

"To the galleys.'^ 

At this moment the cudgelling, multiplied by a hundred hands, 
reached its climax ; blows with the flat of the sword joined in ; it was a 
fury of whips and clubs; the galley slaves crouched down, a hideous 
obedience was produced by the punishment, and all were silent with the 
look of chained wolves. Cosette trembled in every limb ; she continued : 

"Father, are they still men ?" 

"Sometimes," said the wretched man. 

It was in fact the chain which, setting out before day from Bicetre, 
took the Mans road to avoid Fontainebleau, where the king then was. 
This detour made the terrible journey last three or four days longer; 
but to spare the royal person the sight of the punishment, it may well 
be prolonged. 

Saint Denis 371 

Jean Valjean returned home overwhelmed. Such encounters are 
shocks, and the memory which they leave resembles a convulsion. 

Jean Valjean, however, on the way back to the Rue de Babylone 
with Cosette, did not notice that she asked him other questions regard- 
ing what they had just seen ; perhaps he was himself too much absorbed 
in his own dejection to heed her words or to answer them. But at 
night, as Cosette was leaving him to go to bed, he heard her say in an 
undertone, and as if talking to herself: "It seems to me that if I 
should meet one of those men in my path, O my God, I should die 
just from seeing him near me !" 

Fortunately it happened that on the morrow of this tragic day there 
were, in consequence of some official celebration, fetes in Paris, a re- 
view in the Champ de Mars, rowing matches upon the Seine, theatri- 
cals in the Champs Elysees, fireworks at TEtoile, illuminations every- 
where. Jean Valjean, doing violence to his habits, took Cosette to 
these festivities, for the purpose of diverting her mind from the mem- 
ories of the day before, and of effacing under the laughing tumult of 
all Paris, the abominable thing which had passed before her. The re- 
view, which enlivened the fete, made the display of uniforms quite 
natural; Jean Valjean put on his National Guard uniform with the 
vague interior feeling of a man who is taking refuge. Yet the ob- 
ject of this walk seemed attained. Cosette, whose law it was to please 
her father, and for whom, moreover, every sight was new, accepted 
the diversion with the easy and blithe grace of youth, and did not 
look disdainfully upon that promiscuous bowl of joy which is called 
a public fete; so that Jean Valjean could believe that he had suc- 
ceeded, and that no trace remained of the hideous vision. 




Thus their life gradually darkened. 

There was left to them but one distraction, and this had formerly 
been a pleasure: that was to carry bread to those who were hungry, 

372 Les Miserables 

and clothing to those who were cold. In these visits to the poor, in 
which Cosette often accompanied Jean Valjean, they found some rem- 
nant of their former lightheartedness ; and, sometimes, when they had 
had a good day, when many sorrows had heen relieved and many little 
children revived and made warm, Cosette, in the evening, was a little 
gay. It was at this period that they visited the Jondrette den. 

The day after that visit, Jean Yaljean appeared in the cottage in 
the morning, with his ordinary calmness, but with a large wound on 
his left arm, very much inflamed and very venomous, which resembled 
a burn, and which he explained in some fashion. This wound 
confined him within doors more than a month with fever. He would 
see no physician. When Cosette urged it: "Call the dog-doctor," 
said he. 

Cosette dressed it night and morning with so divine a grace and so 
angelic a pleasure in being useful to him, that Jean Valjean felt all 
his old happiness return, his fears and his anxieties dissipate, and he 
looked upon Cosette, saying: "Oh! the good wound! Oh! the kind 
hurt !" 

Cosette, as her father was sick, had deserted the summer-house, and 
regained her taste for the little lodge and the backyard. She spent 
almost all her time with Jean Valjean, and read to him the books 
which he liked. In general, books of travels. Jean Valjean was born 
anew; his happiness revived with inexpressible radiance; the Luxem- 
bourg, the unknown young prowler, Cosette's coldness, all these clouds 
of his soul faded away. He now said to himself: "I imagined all 
that. I am an old fool." 

His happiness was so great, that the frightful discovery of the 
Thenardiers, made in the Jondrette den, and. so unexpectedly, had 
in some sort glided over him. He had succeeded in escaping; 
his trace was lost, what mattered the rest! he thought of it only 
to grieve over those wretches. "They are now in prison, and can 
do no harm in future," thought he, "but what a pitiful family in 
distress !" 

As to the hideous vision of the Barriere du Maine, Cosette had never 
mentioned it again. 

At the convent, Sister Sainte Mechthilde had taught Cosette music. 
Cosette had the voice of a warbler with a soul, and sometimes in the 

Saint Denis 373 

evening, in the humble lodging of the wounded man, she sang plaintive 
songs which rejoiced Jean Valjean. 

Spring came, the garden was so wonderful at that season of the 
year, that Jean Valjean said to Cosette: '^You never go there, I 
wish you would walk in it." "As you will, father," said Cosette. 

And, out of obedience to her father, she resumed her walks in the 
garden, oftenest alone, for, as we have remarked, Jean Valjean, who 
probably dreaded being seen through the gate, hardly ever went there. 

Jean Valj can's wound had been a diversion. 

When Cosette saw that her father was suffering less, and that he 
was getting well, and that he seemed happy, she felt a contentment 
that she did not even notice, so gently and naturally did it come upon 
her. It was then the month of March, the days were growing longer, 
winter was departing, winter always carries with it something of our 
sadness; then April came, that daybreak of summer, fresh like every 
dawn, gay like every childhood; weeping a little sometimes like the 
infant that it is. N'ature in this month has charming gleams which 
pass from the sky, the clouds, the trees, the fields, and the flowers, 
into the heart of man. 

Cosette was still too young for this April joy, which resembled her, 
not to find its way to her heart. Insensibly, and without a suspicion 
on her part, the darkness passed away from her mind. In the spring 
it becomes light in sad souls, as at noon it becomes light in cellars. 
And Cosette was not now very sad. So it was, however, but she did not 
notice it. In the morning, about ten o'clock, after breakfast, when 
she had succeeded in enticing her father into the garden for a quarter 
of an hour, and while she was walking in the sun in front of the steps, 
supporting his wounded arm, she did not perceive that she was laugh- 
ing every moment, and that she was happy. 

Jean Valjean saw her, with intoxication, again become fresh and 

"Oh ! the blessed wound !" repeated he in a whisper. 

And he was grateful to the Thenardiers. 

As soon as his wound was cured, he resumed his solitary and twi- 
light walks. 

It would be a mistake to believe that one can walk in this way alone 
in the uninhabited regions of Paris, and not meet with some adventure. 

374 Les Miserables 


One evening the little gamin Gavroche had had no dinner; he re- 
membered that he had had no dinner also the day before ; this was be- 
coming tiresome. He resolved that he would try for some supper. 
He went wandering about beyond La Salpetriere, in the deserted spots ; 
those are the places for good luck ; where there is nobody, can be found 
something. He came to a settlement which appeared to him to be 
the village of Austerlitz. 

In one of his preceding strolls, he had noticed an old garden there 
haunted by an old man and an old woman, and in this garden a pass- 
able apple tree. Beside this apple tree, there was a sort of fruit-loft 
poorly inclosed where the conquest of an apple might be made. An 
apple is a supper; an apple is life. What ruined Adam might save 
Gavroche. The garden was upon a solitary lane unpaved and bordered 
with bushes for lack of houses; a hedge separated it from the lane. 

Gavroche directed his steps towards the garden; he found the lane, 
he recognised the apple tree, he verified the fruit-loft, he examined the 
hedge ; a hedge is a stride. Day was declining, not a cat in the lane, 
the time was good. Gavroche sketched out the escalade, then suddenly 
stopped. Somebody was talking in the garden. Gavroche looked 
through one of the openings of the hedge. 

Within two steps of him, at the foot of the hedge on the other side, 
precisely at the point where the hole he was meditating would have 
taken him, lay a stone which made a kind of seat, and on this seat 
the old man of the garden was sitting with the old woman standing 
before him. The old woman was muttering. Gavroche, who was any- 
thing but discreet, listened. 

"Monsieur Mabeuf !" said the old woman. 

'^Mabeuf !'' thought Gavroche, "that is a funny name." 

The old man who was addressed made no motion. The old woman 
repeated : 

"Monsieur Mabeuf." 

The old man, without raising his eyes from the ground, determined 
to answer: 

Saint Denis 375 

"What, Mother Plutarch V 

"Mother Plutarch!'' thought Gavroche, "another funny name." 

Mother Plutarch resumed, and the old man was forced to enter into 
the conversation: 

"The landlord is dissatisfied." 

"Why so?" 

"There are three quarters due." 

"In three months there will be four." 

"He says that he will turn you out of doors to sleep." 

"I shall go." 

"The grocery woman wants to be paid. She holds on to her wood. 
What will you keep warm with this winter? We shall have no wood." 

"There is the sun." 

"The butcher refuses credit, he will not give us any more meat." 

"That is all right. I do not digest meat well. It is too heavy." 

"What shall we have for dinner?" 


"The baker demands something on account, and says no money, no 

"Very well." 

"What will you eat ?" 

"We have the apples from the apple tree." 

"But, monsieur, we can't live like that without money." 

"I have not any." 

The old woman went away, the old man remained alone. He began 
to reflect. Gavroche was reflecting on his side. It was almost night. 

The first result of Gavroche's reflection was that instead of climbing 
over the hedge he crept under. The branches separated a little at the 
bottom of the bushes. 

"Heigho," exclaimed Gavroche internally, "an alcove!" and he hid 
in it. He almost touched Father Mabeuf's seat. He heard the octo- 
genarian breathe. 

Then, for dinner, he tried to sleep. 

Sleep of a cat, sleep with one eye. Even while crouching there 
Gavroche kept watch. 

The whiteness of the twilight sky blanched the earth, and the lane 
made a livid line between two rows of dusky bushes. 

376 Les Miserables 

Suddenly, upon that whitened band two dim forms appeared. One 
came before — the other, at some distance, behind. 

^^There are two fellows," growled Gavroche. 

The first form seemed some old bourgeois bent and thoughtful, 
dressed more than simply, walking with the slow pace of an aged man, 
and taking his ease in the starry evening. 

The second was straight, firm, and slight. It regulated its step 
by the step of the first; but in the unwonted slowness of the gait, 
dexterity and agility were manifest. This form had, in addition to 
something wild and startling, the whole appearance of what was then 
called a dandy ; the hat was of the latest style, the coat was black, well 
cut, probably of fine cloth, and closely fitted to the form. The head 
was held up with a robust grace, and, under the hat, could be seen in 
the twilight the pale profile of a young man. This profile had a rose 
in its mouth. The second form was well known to Gavroche : it was 

As to the other, he could have said nothing about it, except that it 
was an old goodman. 

Gavroche immediately applied himself to observation. 

One of these two passers evidently had designs upon the other. Gav- 
roche was well situated to see the issue. The alcove had very con- 
veniently become a hiding-place. 

Montpamasse hiding, at such an hour, in such a place — it was 
threatening. Gavroche felt his gamin's heart moved with pity for the 
old man. 

What could he do ? intervene ? one weakness in aid of another ? 
That would be ludicrous to Montpamasse. Gavroche could not con- 
ceal it from himself that, to this formidable bandit of eighteen, the old 
man first, the child afterwards, would be but two mouthfuk. 

While Gavroche was deliberating, the attack was made, sharp and 
hideous. The attack of a tiger on a wild ass, a spider on a fly. 
Montpamasse, on a sudden, threw away the rose, sprang upon the 
old man, collared him, grasped him and fastened to him, and Gavroche 
could hardly restrain a cry. A moment afterwards, one of these men 
was under the other, exhausted, panting, struggling, with a knee 
of marble upon his breast. Only it was not altogether as Gavroche 
had expected. The one on the ground was Montpamasse; the 

Saint Denis 377 

one above was the goodman. All this happened a few steps from 

The old man had received the shock, and had returned it, and re- 
turned it so terribly that in the twinkling of an eye the assailant and 
assailed had changed parts. 

"There is a brave Invalide !'' thought Gavroche. 

And he could not help clapping his hands. But it was a clapping 
of hands thrown away. It did not reach the two combatants, ab- 
sorbed and deafened by each other, and mingling their breath in the 

There was silence. Montparnasse ceased to struggle. Gavroche said 
this aside : "Can he be dead ?" 

The goodman had not spoken a word, nor uttered a cry. He arose, 
and Gavroche heard him say to Montparnasse: 

"Get up." 

Montparnasse got up, but the goodman held him. Montparnasse 
had the humiliated and furious attitude of a wolf caught by a sheep. 

Gavroche looked and listened, endeavouring to double his eyes by his 
ears. He was enormously amused. 

He was rewarded for his conscientious anxiety as a spectator. He 
was able to seize upon the wing the following dialogue, which borrowed 
a strangely tragic tone from the darkness. The goodman questioned. 
Montparnasse responded. 

"How old are you ?" 


"You are strong and well. Why don't you work ?" 

"It is fatiguing." 

"What is your business ?" 


"Speak seriously. Can I do anything for you? What would you 
like to be ?" 

"A robber." 

There was a silence. The old man seemed to be thinking deeply. 
He was motionless, yet did not release Montparnasse. 

From time to time the young bandit, vigorous and nimble, made 
the efforts of a beast caught in a snare. He gave a spring, attempted 
a trip, twisted his limbs desperately, endeavoured to escape. The old 

2'!^8 Les Miserables 

man did not appear to perceive it, and with a single hand held his 
two arms with the sovereign indifference of absolute strength. 

The old man's reverie continued for some time, then, looking steadily 
upon Montparnasse, he gently raised his voice and addressed to him, in 
that obscurity in which they were, a sort of solemn allocution of which 
Gavroche did not lose a syllable: 

'^My child, you are entering by laziness into the most laborious of 
existences. Ah! you declare yourself a loafer! prepare to labour. 
Have you seen a terrible machine called the rolling-mill ? Beware 
of it, it is a cunning and ferocious thing ; if it but catch the skirt of 
your coat, you are drawn in entirely. This machine is idleness. Stop, 
while there is yet time, and save yourself! otherwise, it is all over; 
you will soon be between the wheels. Once caught, hope for nothing 
more. To fatigue, idler ! no more rest. The implacable iron hand of 
labour has seized you. Earn a living, have a task, accomplish a duty, 
you do not wish it! To be like others is tiresome! Well! you will 
be different. Labour is the law ; he who spurns it as tiresome will have 
it as a punishment. You are unwilling to be a working-man, you 
will be a slave. Labour releases you on the one hand only to retake 
you oil the otherj you are unwilling to be her friend, you will be her 
negro. Ah ! you have refused the honest weariness of men, you shall 
have the sweat of the damned. While others sing, you will rave. You 
will see from afar, from below, other men at work; it will seem to 
you that they are at rest. The labourer, the reaper, the sailor, the 
blacksmith, will appear to you in the light like the blessed in a para- 
dise. Oh ! my child, you are taking a mistaken road, laziness is giv- 
ing you bad advice; the hardest of all labour is robbery. Trust me, 
do not undertake this dreadful drudgery of being an idler. To be- 
come a rascal is not comfortable. It is not so hard to be an honest 
man. Go, now, and think of what I have said to you. And now, what 
did you want of me ? my purse ? here it is." 

And the old man, releasing Montparnasse, put his purse in his 
hand, which Montparnasse weighed for a moment; after which, with 
the same mechanical precaution as if he had stolen it, Montparnasse 
let it slide gently into the back pocket of his coat. 

All this said and done, the goodman turned his back and quietly 
resumed his walk. 

Saint Denis 379 

"Blockliead !" murmured Montparnasse. 

Who was this goodman ? the reader has doubtless guessed. 

Montparnasse, in stupefaction, watched him till he disappeared in 
the twilight. This contemplation was fatal to him. 

While the old man was moving away, Gavroche was approaching. 

Gavroche, with a side glance, made sure that Father Mabeuf, per- 
haps asleep, was still sitting on the seat. Then the urchin came out 
of his bushes, and began to creep along in the shade, behind the 
motionless Montparnasse. He reached Montparnasse thus without be- 
ing seen or heard, gently insinuated his hand into the back pocket 
of the fine black cloth coat, took the purse, withdrew his hand, and, 
creeping off again, glided away like an adder into the darkness. 
Montparnasse, who had no reason to be upon his guard, and who was 
reflecting for the first time in his life, perceived nothing of it. Gav- 
roche, when he had reached the point where Father Mabeuf was, threw 
the purse over the hedge, and fled at full speed. 

The purse fell on the foot of Father Mabeuf. This shock awoke 
him. He stooped down, and picked up the purse. He did not under- 
stand it at all, and he opened it. It was a purse with two compart- 
ments; in one there were some small coins; in the other, there were 
six napoleons. 

M. Mabeuf, very much startled, carried the thing to his governess. 

"This falls from the sky," said Mother Plutarch. 



In the first fortnight in April, Jean Valjean went on a journey. This, 
we know, happened with him from time to time, at very long intervals. 
He remained absent one or two days at the most. Where did he go ? 
nobody knew, not even Cosette. Once only, on one of these trips, 
she had accompanied him in a fiacre as far as the corner of a little cul- 
de-sac, on which she read: Impasse de la Planchette. There he got 
out, and the fiacre took Cosette back to the Rue de Babylone. It was 

^^^ Les Miserables 

generally when money was needed for the household expenses that 
Jean Yaljean made these little journeys. 

Jean Valjean then was absent. He had said: '^I shall be back 
in three days." 

In the evening, Cosette was alone in the parlour. To amuse her- 
self, she had opened her piano and began to sing, playing an ac- 
companiment, the chorus from Euryanthe: Hunters wandering in the 
woods! which is perhaps the finest piece in all music. 

All at once it seemed to her that she heard a step in the garden. 

It could not be her father, he was absent ; it could not be Toussaint, 
she was in bed. It was ten o'clock at night. 

She went to the window shutter which was closed and put her ear 
to it. 

It appeared to her that it was a man's step, and that he was tread- 
ing very softly. 

She ran immediately up to the first story, into her room, opened 
a slide in her blind, and looked into the garden. The moon was 
full. She could see as plainly as in broad day. 

There was nobody there. 

She opened the window. The garden was absolutely silent, and all 
that she could see of the street was as deserted as it always was. 

Cosette thought she had been mistaken. She had imagined she 
heard this noise. It was a hallucination produced by Weber's sombre 
and majestic chorus, which opens before the mind startling depths, 
which trembles before the eye like a bewildering forest, and in which 
we hear the crackling of the dead branches beneath the anxious step 
of the hunters dimly seen in the twilight. 

She thought no more about it. 

Moreover, Cosette by nature was not easily startled. There was 
in her veins the blood of the gipsy and of the adventuress who goes 
barefoot. It must be remembered she was rather a lark than a dove. 
She was wild and brave at heart. 

The next day, not so late, at nightfall, she was walking in the 
garden. In the midst of the confused thoughts which filled her mind, 
she thought she heard for a moment a sound like the sound of the 
evening before, as if somebody were walking in the darkness under the 
trees, not very far from her, but she said to herself that nothing is 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

more like a step in the grass than the rustling of two limbs against 
each other, and she paid no attention to it. Moreover, she saw nothing. 

She left "the bush;'' she had to cross a little green grass-plot to 
reach the steps. The moon, which had just risen behind her, pro- 
jected, as Cosette came out from the shrubbery, her shadow before her 
upon this grass-plot. 

Cosette stood still, terrified. 

By the side of her shadow, the moon marked out distinctly upon 
the sward another shadow singularly frightful and terrible, a shadow 
with a round hat. 

It was like the shadow of a man who might have been standing in 
the edge of the shrubbery, a few steps behind Cosette. 

For a moment she was unable to speak, or cry, or call, or stir, 
or turn her head. 

At last she summoned up all her courage and resolutely turned round. 

There was nobody there. 

She looked upon the ground. The shadow had disappeared. 

She returned into the shrubbery, boldly hunted through the corners, 
went as far as the gate, and found nothing. 

She felt her blood run cold. Was this also a hallucination ? What ! 
two days in succession ? One hallucination may pass, but two halluci- 
nations ? What made her most anxious was that the shadow was cer- 
tainly not a phantom. Phantoms never wear round hats. 

The next day Jean Valjean returned. Cosette narrated to him 
what she thought she had heard and seen. She expected to be re- 
assured, and that her father would shrug his shoulders and say : "You 
are a foolish little girl." 

Jean Valjean became anxious. 

"It may be nothing," said he to her. 

He left her under some pretext and went into the garden, and she 
saw him examining the gate very closely. 

In the night she awoke; now she was certain, and she distinctly 
heard somebody walking very near the steps under her window. She 
ran to her slide and opened it. There was in fact a man in the garden 
with a big club in his hand. Just as she was about to cry out, the 
moon lighted up the man's face. It was her father. 

She went back to bed, saying : "So he is really anxious !" 

382 Les Miserables 

Jean Valjean passed that night in the garden and the two nights 
following. Cosette saw him through the hole in her shutter. 

The third night the moon was smaller and rose later, it might have 
been one o'clock in the morning, she heard a loud burst of laughter 
and her father's voice calling her: 


She sprang out of bed, threw on her dressing-gown, and opened 
her window. 

Her father was below on the grass-plot. 

"I woke you up to show you," said he. "Look, here is your shadow 
in a round hat." 

And he pointed to a shadow on the sward made by the moon, and 
which really bore a close resemblance to the appearance of a man in 
a round hat. It was a figure produced by a sheet-iron stove-pipe with 
a cap, which rose above a neighbouring roof. 

Cosette also began to laugh, all her gloomy suppositions fell to the 
ground, and the next day, while breakfasting with her father, she made 
merry over the mysterious garden haunted by shadows of stove-pipes. 

Jean Yaljean became entirely calm again; as to Cosette, she did 
not notice very carefully whether the stove-pipe was really in the 
direction of the shadow which she had seen, or thought she saw, and 
whether the moon was in the same part of the sky. She made no 
question about the oddity of a stove-pipe which is afraid of being 
caught in the act, and which retires when you look at its shadow, for 
the shadow had disappeared when Cosette turned round, and Cosette 
had really believed that she was certain of that. Cosette was fully 
reassured. The demonstration appeared to her complete, and the idea 
that there could have been anybody walking in the garden that eve- 
ning, or that night, no longer entered her head. 

A few days afterwards, however, a new incident occurred. 


In the garden, near the grated gate, on the street, there was a stone 
seat protected from the gaze of the curious by a hedge, but which, 
nevertheless, by an effort, the arm of a passer could reach through the 
grating and the hedge. 

Saint Denis ^83 

One evening in this same month of April, Jean Valjean had gone 
out; Cosette, after sunset, had sat down on this seat. The wind was 
freshening in the trees, Cosette was musing; a vague sadness was 
coming over her little by little, that invincible sadness which evening 
gives and which comes perhaps, who knows ? from the mystery of the 
tomb half-opened at that hour. 

Cosette rose, slowly made the round of the garden, walking in the 
grass which was wet with dew, and saying to herself through the kind 
of melancholy somnambulism in which she was enveloped: "One 
really needs wooden shoes for the garden at this hour. I shall catch 

She returned to the seat. 

Just as she was sitting down, she noticed in the place she had left 
a stone of considerable size which evidently was not there the moment 

Cosette reflected upon this stone, asking herself what it meant. 
Suddenly, the idea that this stone did not come upon the seat of it- 
self, that somebody had put it there, that an arm had passed through 
that grating, this idea came to her and made her afraid. It was a 
genuine fear this time; there was the stone. 'No doubt was possible, 
she did not touch it, fled without daring to look behind her, took refuge 
in the house, and immediately shut the glass-door of the stairs with 
shutter, bar, and bolt. She asked Toussaint: 

"Has my father come in?" 

"!N"ot yet, mademoiselle." 

Jean Valjean, a man given to thought and a night-walker, fre- 
quently did not return till quite late. 

"Toussaint," resumed Cosette, "you are careful in the evening to 
bar the shutters well, upon the garden at least, and to really put the 
little iron things into the little rings which fasten?" 

"Oh! never fear, mademoiselle." 

Toussaint did not fail, and Cosette well knew it, but she could not 
help adding: 

"Because it is so solitary about here!" 

"For that matter," said Toussaint, "that is true. We would be 
assassinated before we would have time to say Bt>o ! And then, mon- 
sieur doesn't sleep in the house. But don't be afraid, mademoiselle, I 

^^^ Les Miserables 

fasten the windows like Bastilles. Lone women! I am sure it is 
enough to make us shudder! Just imagine it! to see men come into 
the room at night and say to you : Hush ! and set themselves to cut- 
ting your throat. It isn't so much the dying, people die, that is all 
right, we know very well that we must die, but it is the horror of 
having such people touch you. And then their knives, they must cut 
badly! O God!" 

"Be still," said Cosette. "Fasten everything well." 
Cosette, dismayed by the melodrama improvised by Toussaint, and 
perhaps also by the memory of the apparitions of the previous week 
which came back to her, did not even dare to say to her: "Go and 
look at the stone which somebody has laid on the seat!" for fear of 
opening the garden door again, and lest "the men" would come in. 
She had all the doors and windows carefully closed, made Toussaint 
go over the whole house from cellar to garret, shut herself up in her 
room, drew her bolts, looked under her bed, lay down, and slept 
badly. All night she saw the stone big as a mountain and full of 

At sunrise — the peculiarity of sunrise is to make us laugh at all our 
terrors of the night, and our laugh is always proportioned to the fear 
we have had — at sunrise Cosette, on waking, looked upon her fright 
as upon a nightmare, and said to herself: "What have I been dream- 
ing about ? This is like those steps which I thought I heard at night 
last week in the garden ! it is like the shadow of the stove-pipe ! And 
am I going to be a coward now !" 

The sun, which shone through the cracks of her shutters, and made 
the damask curtains purple, reassured her to such an extent that it all 
vanished from her thoughts, even the stone. 

"There was no stone on the bench, any more than there was a man 
with a round hat in the garden ; I dreamed the stone as I did the rest." 

She dressed herself, went down to the garden, ran to the bench, and 
felt a cold sweat. The stone was there. 

But this was only for a moment. What is fright by night is 
curiosity by day. 

"Pshaw!" said she, "now let us see." 

She raised the stone, which was pretty large. There was something 
underneath which resembled a letter. 

Saint Denis 285 

It was a white paper envelope. Cosette seized it; there was no 
address on the one side, no wafer on the other. Still the envelope, 
although open, was not empty. Papers could be seen in it. 

Cosette examined it. There was no more fright, there was curiosity 
no more; there was a beginning of anxious interest. 

Cosette took out of the envelope what it contained, a quire of paper, 
each page of which was numbered and contained a few lines written 
in a rather pretty hand-writing, thought Cosette, and very fine. 

Cosette looked for a name, there was none; a signature, there was 
none. To whom was it addressed? to her probably, since a hand had 
placed the packet upon her seat. From whom did it come ? An 
irresistible fascination took possession of her, she endeavoured to turn 
her eyes away from these leaves which trembled in her hand, she 
looked at the sky, the street, the acacias all steeped in light, some 
pigeons which were flying about a neighbouring roof, then all at once 
her eye eagerly sought the manuscript, and she said to herself that she 
must know what there was in it. 

This is what she read: 


TiTE reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a 
single being even to God, this is love. 

Love is the salutation of the angel to the stars. 

How sad is the soul when it is sad from love ! 

Oh ! to be laid side by side in the same tomb, hand clasped in hand, 
and from time to time, in the darkness, to caress a finger gently, that 
would sufiice for my eternity. 

You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love, 
is to live by it. 

Love. A sombre starry transfiguration is mingled with this cruci- 
fixion. There is ecstasy in the agony. 

386 Les Miserables 

O joy of the birds ! it is because they have their nest that they have 
their song. 

Love is a celestial respiration of the air of paradise. 

I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His 
hat was old, his coat was threadbare — there were holes at his elbows; 
the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul. 


During the reading, Cosette entered gradually into reverie. 

She began again to contemplate the letter. It was written in a 
ravishing hand-writing, thought Cosette; in the same hand, but with 
different inks, sometimes very black, sometimes pale, as ink is put 
into the ink-stand, and consequently on different days. It was then 
a thought which had poured itself out there, sigh by sigh, irregularly, 
without order, without choice, without aim, at hazard. Cosette had 
never read anything like it. 

'Now these pages, from whom could they come? Who could have 
written them? 

Cosette did not hesitate for a moment. One single man. 


She fled, went back to the house and shut herself up in her room 
to read over the manuscript again, to learn it by heart, and to muse. 
When she had read it well, she kissed it, and put it in her bosom. 

It was done. Cosette had fallen back into the profound seraphic 
love. The abyss of Eden had reopened. 


When evening came, Jean Yaljean went out; Cosette dressed her- 
self. She arranged her hair in the manner which best became her, 
and she put on a dress the neck of which, as it had received one cut 
of the scissors too much, and as, by this slope, it allowed the turn of 
the neck to be seen, was, as young girls say, "a little immodest.'' 

Saint Denis 387 

It was not the least in the world immodest, but it was prettier than 
otherwise. She did all this without knowing why. 

Did she intend to go out ? no. 

Did she expect a visit? no. 

At dusk, she went down to the garden. Toussaint was busy in her 
kitchen, which looked out upon the back-yard. 

She began to walk under the branches, putting them aside with 
her hand from time to time, because there were some that were very 

She thus reached the seat. 

The stone was still there. 

She sat down, and laid her soft white hand upon that stone as if 
she would caress it and thank it. 

All at once, she had that indefinable impression which we feel, 
though we see nothing, when there is somebody standing behind us. 

She turned her head and arose. 

It was he. 

He was bareheaded. He appeared pale and thin. She hardly dis- 
cerned his black dress. The twilight dimmed his fine forehead, and 
covered his eyes with darkness. He had, under a veil of incomparable 
sweetness, something of death and of night. His face was lighted 
by the light of a dying day, and by the thought of a departing soul. 

It seemed as if he was not yet a phantom, and was now no longer 
a man. 

His hat was lying a few steps distant in the shrubbery. 

Cosette, ready to faint, did not utter a cry. She drew back slowly, 
for she felt herself attracted forward. He did not stir. Through the 
sad and ineffable something which enwrapped him, she felt the look 
of his eyes, which she did not see. 

Cosette, in retreating, encountered a tree, and leaned against it. 
But for this tree, she would have fallen. 

Then she heard his voice, that voice which she had never really 
heard, hardly rising above the rustling of the leaves, and murmuring: 

"Pardon me, I am here. My heart is bursting, I could not live as 
I was, I have come. Have you read what I placed there, on this 
seat ? do you recognise me at all ? do not be afraid of me. It is a long 
time now, do you remember the day when you looked upon me? it 

388 Les Miserables 

was at the Luxembourg, near the Gladiator. And the day when you 
passed me ? it was the 16th of June and the 2nd of July. It will soon 
be a year. For a very long time now, I have not seen you at all. 
I asked the chairkeeper, she told me that she saw you no more. You 
lived in the Rue de 1' Quest, on the third floor front, in a new house, 
you see that I know! I followed you. What was I to do? And 
then you disappeared. I thought I saw you pass once when I was 
reading the papers under the arches of the Odeon. I ran. But no. 
It was a person who had a hat like yours. At night, I come here. 
Do not be afraid, nobody sees me. I come for a near look at your 
windows. I walk very softly that you may not hear, for perhaps 
you would be afraid. The other evening I was behind you, you turned 
round, I fled. Once I heard you sing. I was happy. Does it dis- 
turb you that I should hear you sing through the shutter ? it can do 
you no harm. It cannot, can it ? See, you are my angel, let me come 
sometimes ; I believe I am going to die. If you but knew ! I adore 
you ! Pardon me, I am talking to you, I do not know what I am say- 
ing to you, perhaps I annoy you, do I annoy you ?" 

"O mother!'' said she. 

And she sank down upon herself as if she were dying. 

He caught her, she fell, he caught her in his arms, he grasped her 
tightly, unconscious of what he was doing. He supported her even 
while tottering himself. He felt as if his head were enveloped in 
smoke ; flashes of light passed through his eyelids ; his ideas vanished ; 
it seemed to him that he was performing a religious act, and that he 
was committing a profanation. Moreover, he did not feel one 
passionate emotion for this ravishing woman, whose form he felt 
against his heart. He was lost in love. 

She took his hand and laid it on her heart. He felt the paper there, 
and stammered: 

"You love me, then?" 

She answered in a voice so low that it was no more than a breath 
which could scarcely be heard: 

"Hush ! you know it !" 

And she hid her blushing head in the bosom of the proud and 
intoxicated young man. 

He fell upon the seat, she by his side. There were no more words. 


© Dodd, Mead &■ Company, Inc. 



Saint Denis ^^^ 

The stars were beginning to shine. How was it that their lips met? 
How is it that the bird sings, that the snow melts, that the rose opens, 
that May blooms, that the dawn whitens behind the black trees on the 
shivering summit of the hills ? 

One kiss, and that was all. 

Both trembled, and they looked at each other in the darkness with 
brilliant eyes. 

They felt neither the fresh night, nor the cold stone, nor the damp 
ground, nor the wet grass, they looked at each other, and their hearts 
were full of thought. They had clasped hands, without knowing it. 

She did not ask him, she did not even think of it, in what way and 
by what means he had succeeded in penetrating into the garden. It 
seemed so natural to her that he should be there ? 

From time to time Marius' knee touched Cosette's knee, which gave 
them both a thrill. 

At intervals, Cosette faltered out a word. Her soul trembled upon 
her lips like a drop of dew upon a flower. 

Gradually they began to talk. Overflow succeeded to silence, which 
is fulness. The night was serene and splendid above their heads. 
These two beings, pure as spirits, told each other all their dreams, 
their frenzies, their ecstasies, their chimseras, their despondencies, 
how they had adored each other from afar, how they had longed for 
each other, their despair when they had ceased to see each other. 
They confided to each other in an intimacy of the ideal, which even 
now nothing could have increased, all that was most hidden and most 
mysterious of themselves. They related to each other, with a candid 
faith in their illusions, all that love, youth, and that remnant of child- 
hood was theirs, suggested to their thought. These two hearts poured 
themselves out into each other, so that at the end of an hour, it was 
the young man who had the young girPs soul and the young girl who 
had the soul of the young man. They inter-penetrated, they enchanted, 
they dazzled each other. 

When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, 
she laid her head upon his shoulder, and asked him: 

"What is your name?" 

"My name is Marius," said he. "And yours?" 

"My name is Cosette." 

^^0 Les Miserables 



Jean Valjean suspected nothing. 

Cosette, a little less dreamy than Marius, was cheerful, and that 
was enough to make Jean Valjean happy. The thoughts of Cosette, 
her tender preoccupations, the image of Marius which filled her soul, 
detracted nothing from the incomparable purity of her beautiful, 
chaste, and smiling forehead. She was at the age when the maiden 
bears her love as the angel bears her lily. And then when two lovers 
have an understanding they always get along well; any third person 
who might disturb their love, is kept in perfect blindness by a very 
few precautions, always the same for all lovers. Thus never any 
objections from Cosette to Jean Valjean. Did he wish to take 
a walk ? yes, my dear father. Did he wish to remain at home ? very 
well. Would he spend the evening with Cosette ? she was in raptures. 
As he always retired at ten o'clock, at such times Marius would not 
come to the garden till after that hour, when from the street he would 
hear Cosette open the glass-door leading out on the steps. We need 
not say that Marius was never met by day. Jean Valjean no longer 
even thought that Marius was in existence. Once, only, one morning, 
he happened to say to Cosette : "Why, you have something white on 
your back !" The evening before, Marius, in a transport, had pressed 
Cosette against the wall. 

Old Toussaint, who went to bed early, thought of nothing but going 
to sleep, once her work was done, and was ignorant of all, like Jean 

Never did Marius set foot into the house. When he was with 
Cosette they hid themselves in a recess near the steps, so that they 
could neither be seen nor heard from the street, and they sat there, 
contenting themselves often, by way of conversation, with pressing 
each other's hands twenty times a minute while looking into the 
branches of the trees. At such moments, a thunderbolt might have 
fallen within thirty paces of them, and they would not have suspected 

Saint Denis 391 

it, so deeply was the reverie of the one absorbed and buried in the 
reverie of the other. 

The -whole garden was between them and the street. Whenever 
Marius came in and went out, he carefully replaced the bar of the 
grating in such a way that no derangement was visible. 

He went away commonly about midnight, returning to Courfeyrac's. 

Courfeyrac, a practical man, was not pleased at this reflection of an 
invisible paradise upon Marius; he had little taste for unpublished 
passions, he was impatient at them, and he occasionally would serve 
Marius with a summons to return to the real. 

One morning, he threw out this admonition: 

"My dear fellow, you strike me at present as being situated in the 
moon, kingdom of dream, province of illusion, capital Soap-Bubble. 
Come, be a good boy, what is her name ?'' 

But nothing could make Marius "confess." You might have torn 
his nails out sooner than one of the two sacred syllables which com- 
posed that ineffable name, Cosette. True love is luminous as the 
dawn, and silent as the grave. Only there was to Courfeyrac, this 
change in Marius, that he had a radiant taciturnity. 

During this sweet month of May, Marius and Cosette knew these 
transcendent joys: 

To quarrel and to say monsieur and mademoiselle, merely to say 
Marius and Cosette better afterwards ; 

To talk at length, and with most minute detail, of people who did 
not interest them in the least; a further proof that, in this ravishing 
opera which is called love, the libretto is almost nothing; 

For Marius, to listen to Cosette talking dress ; 

For Cosette, to listen to Marius talking politics; 

To hear, knee touching knee, the waggons roll along the Rue de 
Baby lone ; 

To gaze upon the same planet in space, or the same worm glow in 
the grass; 

To keep silence together ; a pleasure still greater than to talk ; 

Etc., etc. 

Meanwhile various complications were approaching. 

One evening Marius was making his way to the rendezvous by the 
Boulevard des Invalides ; he usually walked with his head bent down ; 

392 Les Miserables 

as he was just turning the corner of the Rue Plumet, he heard sonie 
one saying very near him: 

"Good evening, Monsieur Marius." 

He looked up, and recognised Eponine. 

This produced a singular effect upon him. He had not thought 
even once of this girl since the day she brought him to the Eue Plumet, 
he had not seen her again, and she had completely gone out of his mind. 
He had motives of gratitude only towards her; he owed his present 
happiness to her, and still it was annoying to him to meet her. 

It is a mistake to suppose that passion, when it is fortunate and 
pure, leads man to a state of perfection; it leads him simply, as we 
have said, to a state of forgetfulness. In this situation man forgets 
to be bad, but he also forgets to be good. Gratitude, duty, necessary 
and troublesome memories, vanish. At any other time Marius would 
have felt very differently towards Eponine. Absorbed in Cosette, he 
had not even clearly in his mind that this Eponine's name was Eponine 
Thenardier, and that she bore a name written in his father's will, that 
name to which he would have been, a few months before, so ardently 
devoted. We show Marius just as he was. His father himself, dis- 
appeared somewhat from his soul beneath the splendour of his love. 

He answered with some embarrassment: 

"What ! is it you, Eponine ?" 

"Why do you speak to me so sternly? Have I done anything to 
you V 

"^o," answered he. 

Certainly, he had nothing against her. Ear from it. Only, he 
felt that he could not do otherwise, now that he had whispered to 
Cosette, than speak coldly to Eponine. 

As he was silent, she exclaimed: 

"Tell me now—" 

Then she stopped. It seemed as if words failed this creature, once 
so reckless and so bold. She attempted to smile and could not. She 
resumed : 

"Well ?— " 

Then she was silent again, and stood with her eyes cast down. 

"Good evening, Monsieur Marius," said she all at once abruptly, 
and she went away. 

Saint Denis ^^^ 



!N'ever had the sky been more studded with stars, or more charming, 
the trees more tremulous, the odour of the shrubs more penetrating; 
never had the birds gone to sleep in the leaves with a softer sound; 
never had all the harmonies of the universal serenity better responded 
to the interior music of love ; never had Marius been more enamoured, 
more happy, more in ecstasy. But he had found Cosette sad. Cosette 
had been weeping. Her eyes were red. 

It was the first cloud in this wonderful dream. 

Marius' first word was: 

"What is the matter ?" 

And she answered: 


Then she sat down on the seat near the stairs, and as he took his 
place all trembling beside her, she continued: 

"My father told me this morning to hold myself in readiness, that 
he had business, and that perhaps we should go away.'' 

Marius shuddered from head to foot. 

When we are at the end of life, to die means to go away; when 
we are at the beginning, to go away means to die. 

For six weeks Marius, gradually, slowly, by degrees, had been each 
day taking possession of Cosette. A possession entirely ideal, but 
thorough. As we have entirely explained, in the first love, the soul 
is taken far before the body; afterwards the body is taken far before 
the soul; sometimes the soul is not taken at all; the Faublas and the 
Prudhommes add : because there is none ; but the sarcasm is fortunately 
a blasphemy. Marius then possessed Cosette, as minds possess; but 
he wrapped her in his whole soul, and clasped her jealously with an 
incredible conviction. He possessed her smile, her breath, her per- 
fume, the deep radiance of her blue eyes, the softness of her skin 
when he touched her hand, the charming mark that she had on her 
neck, all her thoughts. They had agreed never to go to sleep with- 
out dreaming of each other, and they had kept their word. He 
possessed all Cosette's dreams. 

^^^ Les Miserables 

Marius awoke. For six weeks Marius had lived, as we have said, 
outside of life; this word, going away, brought him roughly back to it. 

He could not find a word. She said to him in her turn. 

''What is the matter?" 

He answered so low that Cosette hardly heard him : 

"I don't understand what you have said." 

She resumed: 

"This morning my father told me to arrange all my little affairs 
and to be ready, that he would give me his clothes to pack, that he 
was obliged to take a journey, that we were going away, that we must 
have a large trunk for me and a small one for him, to get all that 
ready within a week from now, and that we should go perhaps to 

"But it is monstrous!" exclaimed Marius. 

It is certain that at that moment, in Marius' mind, no abuse of 
power, no violence, no abomination of the most cruel tyrants, no action 
of Busiris, Tiberius, or Henry VIII., was equal in ferocity to this: 
M. Fauchelevent taking his daughter to England because he has 

He asked in a feeble voice: 

"And when should you start ?" 

"He didn't say when." 

"And when should you return ?" 

"He didn't say when." 

Marius arose, and said coldly: 

"Cosette, shall you go?" 

Cosette turned upon him her beautiful eyes full of anguish and 
answered with a sort of bewilderment : 


"To England ? shall you go ?" 

"Why do you speak so to me ?" 

"I ask you if you shall go ?" 

"What would you have me do ?" said she, clasping her hands. 

"So, you will go ?" 

"If my father goes ?" 

"So, you will go ?" 

Cosette took Marius' hand and pressed it without answering. 

Saint Denis 395 

"Very well/' said Marius. "Then I shall go elsewhere." 

Cosette felt the meaning of this word still more than she under- 
stood it. She turned so pale that her face became white in the dark- 
ness. She stammered: 

"What do you mean ?" 

Marius looked at her, then slowly raised his eyes towards heaven 
and answered: 


When his eyes were lowered, he saw Cosette smiling upon him. 
The smile of the woman whom we love has a brilliancy which we 
can see by night. 

"How stupid we are ! Marius, I have an idea." 

"What V 

"Go if we go! I will tell you where! Come and join me where 
I am!" 

Marius was now a man entirely awakened. He had fallen back 
into reality. He cried to Cosette : 

"Go with you? are you mad? But it takes money, and I have 
none ! Go to England ? Why I owe now, I don't know, more than ten 
louis to Courf eyrac, one of my friends whom you do not know ! Why 
I have an old hat which is not worth three francs, I have a coat from 
which some of the buttons are gone in front, my shirt is all torn, 
my elbows are out, my boots let in the water; for six weeks I have 
not thought of it, and I have not told you about it. Cosette! I 
am a miserable wretch. You only see me at night, and you give me 
your love; if you should see me by day, you would give me a sou! 
Go to England ? Ah ! I have not the means to pay for a passport !" 

He threw himself against a tree which was near by, standing with 
his arms above his head, his forehead against the bark, feeling neither 
the tree which was chafing his skin, nor the fever which was hammer- 
ing his temples, motionless, and ready to fall, like a statue of Despair. 

He was a long time thus. One might remain through eternity in 
such abysses. At last he turned. He heard behind him a little 
stifled sound, soft and sad. 

It was Cosette sobbing. 

She had been weeping more than two hours while Marius had been 

396 Les Miserables 

He came to her, fell on his knees, and, prostrating himself slowly, 
he took the tip of her foot which peeped from under her dress and 
kissed it. 

She allowed it in silence. There are moments when woman accepts, 
like a goddess sombre and resigned, the religion of love. 

"Do not weep,'' said he. 

She murmured: 

"Because I am perhaps going away, and you cannot come!" 

He continued: 

"Do you love me?" 

She answered him by sobbing out that word of Paradise which is 
never more enrapturing than when it comes through tears : 

"I adore you!" 

He continued with a tone of voice which was an inexpressible caress : 

"Do not weep. Tell me, will you do this for me, not to weep ?" 

"Do you love me too ?" said she. 

He caught her hand. 

"Cosette, I have never given my word of honour to anybody, be- 
cause I stand in awe of my word of honour. I feel that my father 
is at my side. Now, I give you my most sacred word of honour that, 
if you go away, I shall die." 

There was in the tone with which he pronounced these words a 
melancholy so solemn and so quiet, that Cosette trembled. She felt 
that chill which is given by a stern and true fact passing over us. 
Prom the shock she ceased weeping. 

"Now listen," said he, "do not expect me to-morrow." 

"Why not ?" 

"Do not expect me till the day after to-morrow !" 

"Oh ! why not ?" 

"You will see." 

"A day without seeing you! Why, that is impossible." 

"Let us sacrifice one day to gain perhaps a whole life." 

And Marius added in an under tone, and aside : 

"He is a man who changes none of his habits, and he has never 
received anybody till evening." 

"What man are you speaking of?" inquired Cosette. 

"Me? I said nothing." 

Saint Denis 297 

"What is it you hope for, then?" 

"Wait till day after to-morrow." 

"You wish it ?" 

"Yes, Cosette." 

She took his head in both her hands, rising on tiptoe to reach his 
height, and striving to see his hope in his eyes. 

Marius continued : 

"It occurs to me, you must know my address, something may hap- 
pen, we don't know; I live with that friend named Courfeyrac, Kue 
de la Verrerie, number 16." 

He put his hand in his pocket, took out a penknife, and wrote with 
the blade upon the plastering of the wall: 

16, Rue de la Verrerie. 

Cosette, meanwhile, began to look into his eyes again. 

"Tell me your idea. Marius, you have an idea. Tell me. Oh! 
tell me, so that I may pass a good night!" 

"My idea is this: that it is impossible that God should wish to 
separate us. Expect me day after to-morrow." 

"What shall I do till then ?" said Cosette. "You, you are out doors, 
you go, you come ! How happy men are. I have to stay alone. Oh ! 
how, sad I shall be! What is it you are going to do to-morrow eve- 
ning, tell me?" 

"I shall try a plan." 

"Then I will pray God, and I will think of you from now till then, 
that you may succeed. I will not ask any more questions, since you 
wish me not to. You are my master. I shall spend my evening to- 
morrow singing that music of Euryanthe which you love, and which 
you came to hear one evening behind my shutter. But day after 
to-morrow you will come early; I shall expect you at night, at nine 
o'clock precisely. I forewarn you. Oh dear! how sad it is that the 
days are long! You understand; — when the clock strikes nine, I 
shall be in the garden." 

"And I too." 

And without saying it, moved by the same thought, drawn on 
by those electric currents which put two lovers in continual communi- 
cation, both intoxicated with pleasure even in their grief, they fell into 
each other's arms, without perceiving that their lips were joined, while 

3^S Les Miserables 

their uplifted eyes, overflowing with ecstasy and full of tears, were 
fixed upon the stars. 

When Marius went out, the street was empty. 

While Marius was thinking with his head against the tree, an idea 
had passed through his mind ; an idea, alas ! which he himself deemed 
senseless and impossible. He had formed a desperate resolution. 


Grandfather Gilxenormand had, at this period, fully completed 
his ninety-first year. He still lived with Mademoiselle Gillenormand, 
Rue des Filles du Calvaire, No. 6, in that old house which belonged to 
him. He was, as we remember, one of those antique old men who 
await death still erect, whom age loads without making them stoop, 
and whom grief itself does not bend. 

He had had hung in his room, at the foot of his bed, as the first 
thing which he wished to see on awaking, an old portrait of his other 
daughter, she who was dead, Madame Pontmercy, a portrait taken 
when she was eighteen years old. He looked at this portrait inces- 
santly. He happened one day to say, while looking at it: 

"I think it looks like the child." 

"Like my sister ?" replied Mademoiselle Gillenormand. "Why yes." 

The old man added: 

"And like him also." 

Once, as he was sitting, his knees pressed together, and his eyes 
almost closed, in a posture of dejection, his daughter ventured to say 
to him : 

"Father, are you still so angry with him ?" 

She stopped, not daring to go further. 

"With whom?" asked he. 

"With that poor Marius?" 

He raised his old head, laid his thin and wrinkled fist upon the 
table, and cried in his most irritated and quivering tone: 

"Poor Marius, you say? That gentleman is a rascal, a worthless 
knave, a little ungrateful vanity, with no heart, no soul, a proud, a 
wicked man I" 

Saint Denis 399 

And he turned away that his daughter might not see the tear he 
had in his eyes. 

Three days later, after a silence which had lasted for four hours, 
he said to his daughter snappishly : 

"I have had the honour to beg Mademoiselle Gillenormand never 
to speak to me of him." 

Aunt Gillenormand gave up all attempts and came to this pro- 
found diagnosis: ^'My father never loved my sister very much after 
her folly. It is clear that he detests Marius." 

"After her folly'' meant: after she married the colonel. 

One evening, it was the 4th of June, which did not prevent Monsieur 
Gillenormand from having a blazing fire in his fireplace, he had said 
goodnight to his daughter who was sewing in the adjoining room. He 
was alone in his room with the rural scenery, his feet upon the and- 
irons, half enveloped in his vast coromandel screen with nine folds, 
leaning upon his table on which two candles were burning under a 
green shade, buried in his tapestried armchair, a book in his hand, but 
not reading. He was dressed, according to his custom, en incroyahle, 
and resembled an antique portrait of Garat. This would have caused 
him to be followed in the streets, but his daughter always covered him 
when he went out, with a huge bishop's doublet, which hid his dress. 
At home, except in getting up and going to bed, he never wore a 
dressing-gown. '^It gives an old look/' said he. 

Monsieur Gillenormand thought of Marius lovingly and bitterly; 
and, as usual, the bitterness predominated. An increase of tender- 
ness always ended by boiling over and turning into indignation. He 
was at that point where we seek to adopt a course, and to accept what 
rends us. He was just explaining to himself that there was no longer 
any reason for Marius to return, that if he had been going to return, 
he would have done so already, that he must give him up. He en- 
deavoured to bring himself to the idea that it was over with, and that 
he would die without seeing "that gentleman" again. But his whole 
nature revolted; his old paternity could not consent to it. "What?" 
said he, this was his sorrowful refrain, "he will not come back !" His 
bald head had fallen upon his breast, and he was vaguely fixing a la- 
mentable and irritated look upon the embers on his hearth. 

400 Les Miserables 

In the deepest of his reverie, his old domestic, Basque^ came in and 
asked : 

"Can monsieur receive Monsieur Marius?'' 

The old man straightened up, pallid and like a corpse which rises 
under a galvanic shock. All his blood had flown back to his heart. 
He faltered: 

"Monsieur Marius what ?" 

"I don't know," answered Basque, intimidated and thrown out of 
countenance by his master's appearance, "I have not seen him. Nico- 
lette just told me : There is a young man here, say that it is Monsieur 

M. Grillenormand stammered out in a whisper : 

"Show him in." 

And he remained in the same attitude, his head shaking, his eyes 
fixed on the door. It opened. A young man entered. It was Marius. 

Marius stopped at the door, as if waiting to be asked to come in. 

His almost wretched dress was not perceived in the obscurity pro- 
duced by the green shade. Only his face, calm and grave, but 
strangely sad, could be distinguished. 

M. Gillenormand, as if congested with astonishment and joy, sat 
for some moments without seeing anything but a light, as when one 
is in presence of an apparition. He was almost fainting; he per- 
ceived Marius through a blinding haze. It was indeed he, it was 
indeed Marius ! 

At last ! after four years ! He seized him, so to speak, all over at 
a glance. He thought him beautiful, noble, striking, adult, a complete 
man, with graceful attitude and pleasing air. He would gladly have 
opened his arms, called him, rushed upon him, his heart melted in 
rapture, affectionate words welled and overflowed in his breast; in- 
deed, all this tenderness started up and came to his lips, and, through 
the contrast which was the groundwork of his nature, there came forth 
a harsh word. He said abruptly: 

"What is it you come here for?" 

Marius answered with embarrassment : 


M. Gillenormand would have had Marius throw himself into his 
arms. He was displeased with Marius and with himself. He felt 

Saint Denis ^^1 

that he was rough, and that Marius was cold. It was to the goodman 
an insupportable and irritating anguish, to feel himself so tender and 
so much in tears within, while he could only be harsh without. The 
bitterness returned. He interrupted Marius with a sharp tone; 

"Then what do you come for V^ 

This then signified: // you don't come to embrace me, Marius 
looked at his grandfather, whose pallor had changed to marble. 


The old man continued, in a stern voice: 

"Do you come to ask my pardon ? have you seen your fault ?" 

He thought to put Marius on the track, and that "the child" was 
going to bend. Marius shuddered ; it was the disavowal of his father 
which was asked of him ; he cast down his eyes and answered : 

"No, monsieur." 

"And then," exclaimed the old man impetuously, with a grief which 
was bitter and full of anger, "what do you want with me ?" 

Marius clasped his hands, took a step, and said in a feeble and 
trembling voice: 

"Monsieur, have pity on me." 

This word moved M. Gillenormand ; spoken sooner, it would have 
softened him, but it came too late. The grandfather arose; he sup- 
ported himself upon his cane with both hands, his lips were white, his 
forehead quivered, but his tall stature commanded the stooping Marius. 

"Pity on you, monsieur ! The youth asks pity from the old man of 
ninety-one ! You are entering life, I am leaving it ; you go to the 
theatre, the ball, the cafe, the billiard-room; you have wit, you please 
the women, you are a handsome fellow, while I cannot leave my chim- 
ney corner in midsummer ; you are rich, with the only riches there are, 
while I have all the poverties of old age; infirmity, isolation! You 
have your thirty-two teeth, a good stomach, a keen eye, strength, ap- 
petite, health, cheerfulness, a forest of black hair, while I have not 
even white hair left ; I have lost my teeth, I am losing my legs, I am 
losing my memory, there are three names of streets which I am always 
confounding, the Rue Chariot, the Rue du Chaume, and the Rue Saint 
Claude, there is where I am ; you have the whole future before you full 
of sunshine, while I am beginning not to see another drop of it, so deep 
am I getting into the night ; you are in love, of course, I am not loved 

402 Les Miserables 

by anybody in the world ; and you ask pity of me. Zounds, Moliere 
forgot this. If that is the way you jest at the Palais, Messieurs 
Lawyers, I offer you my sincere compliments. You are funny fel- 

And the octogenarian resumed in an angry and stern voice : 

*^Come now, what do you want of me ?" 

"Monsieur," said Marius, "I know that my presence is displeasing 
to you, but I come only to ask one thing of you, and then I will go away 

"You are a fool!" said the old man. "Who tells you to go away?" 

This was the translation of those loving words which he had deep 
in his heart: Come, ash my pardon now! Throw yourself on my 
neck! M. Gillenormand felt that Marius was going to leave him 
in a few moments, that his unkind reception repelled him, that his 
harshness was driving him away; he said all this to himself, and his 
anguish increased; and as his anguish immediately turned into anger, 
his harshness augmented. He would have had Marius comprehend, 
and Marius did not comprehend ; which rendered the goodman furious. 
He continued: 

"What ! you have left me ! me, your* grandfather, you have left 
my house to go nobody knows where; you have afflicted your aunt, 
you have been, that is clear, it is more pleasant, leading the life of 
a bachelor, playing the elegant, going home at all hours, amusing 
yourself; you have not given me a sign of life; you have contracted 
debts without even telling me to pay them; you have made yourself 
a breaker of windows and a rioter, and, at the end of four years, you 
come to my house, and have nothing to say but that !" 

This violent method of pushing the grandson to tenderness pro- 
duced only silence on the part of Marius. M. Gillenormand folded 
his arms, a posture which with him was particularly imperious, and 
apostrophised Marius bitterly. 

"Let us make an end of it.. You have come to ask something of 
me, say you ? Well what ? what is it ? speak !" 

"Monsieur," said Marius, with the look of a man who feels that 
he is about to fall into an abyss, "I come to ask your permission to 

M, Gillenormand rang. Basque, the valet, half opened the door. 

Saint Denis ^^3 

^^Send my daughter in." 

A second later — the door opened again. Mademoiselle Gillenor- 
mand did not come in, but showed herself. Marius was standing, 
mute, his arms hanging down, with the look of a criminal. M. 
Gillenormand was coming and going up and down the room. He 
turned towards his daughter and said to her : 

'^JS'othing. It is Monsieur Marius. Bid him good evening. Mon- 
sieur wishes to marry. That is all. Go." 

The crisp, harsh tones of the old man's voice announced a strange 
fulness of feeling. The aunt looked at Marius with a bewildered air, 
appeared hardly to recognise him, allowed neither a motion nor a 
syllable to escape her, and disappeared at a breath from her father, 
quicker than a dry leaf before a hurricane. 

Meanwhile Grandfather Gillenormand had returned and stood with 
his back to the fireplace. 

"You marry! at twenty-one! You have arranged that! You have 
nothing but a permission to ask! a formality. Sit down, monsieur. 
Well, you have had a revolution since I had the honour to see you. 
The Jacobins have had the upper hand. You ought to be satisfied. 
You are a republican, are you not, since you are a baron? You 
arrange that. The republic is sauce to the barony. Are you decorated 
by July ? — did you take a bit of the Louvre, monsieur ? There is close 
by here, in the Rue Saint Antoine, opposite the Rue des Nonaindieres, 
a ball incrusted in the wall of the third story of a house with this 
inscription: July 28th, 1830. Go and see that. That produces a 
good effect. Ah! Pretty things those friends of yours do. By the 
way, are they not making a fountain in the square of the monument 
of M. the Duke de Berry ? So you want to marry ? Whom ? can the 
question be asked without indiscretion?" 

He stopped, and, before Marius had had time to answer, he added 
violently : 

"Come now, you have a business? your fortune made? how much 
do you earn at your lawyer's trade ?" 

"ITothing," said Marius, with a firmness and resolution which were 
almost savage. 

"Nothing? you have nothing to live on but the twelve hundred 
livres which I send you ?" 

404 Les Miserables 

Marius made no answer. M. Gillenormand continued: 

"Then I understand the girl is rich V 

"As I am/' 

"What ! no dowry V 


"Some expectations?'' 

"I believe not." 

"With nothing to her back ! and what is the father ?" 

"I do not know." 

"What is her name ?" 

"Mademoiselle Fauchelevent." 

"Fauchewhat ?" 

"Fauchele vent . " 

"Pttt!" said the old man. 

"Monsieur !" exclaimed Marius. 

M. Gillenormand interrupted him with the tone of a man who is 
talking to himself. 

"That is it, twenty-one, no business, twelve hundred livres a year, 
Madame the Baroness Pontmercy will go to market to buy two sous' 
worth of parsley." 

"Monsieur," said Marius, in the desperation of the last vanishing 
hope, "I supplicate you ! I conjure you, in the name of heaven, with 
clasped hands, monsieur, I throw myself at your feet, allow me to 
marry her!" 

The old man burst into a shrill, dreary laugh, through which he 
coughed and spoke. 

"Ha, ha, ha ! you said to yourself, The devil ! I will go and find 
that old wig, that silly dolt ! What a pity that I am not twenty-five ! 
how I would toss him a good respectful notice ! how I would give him 
the go-by. !Never mind, I will say to him: Old idiot, you are too 
happy to see me, I desire to marry, I desire to espouse mamselle no 
matter whom, daughter of monsieur no matter what, I have no shoes, 
she has no chemise, all right ; I desire to throw to the dogs my career, 
my future, my youth, my life ; I desire to make a plunge into misery 
with a wife at my neck, that is my idea, you must consent to it! and 
the old fossil will consent.' Go, my boy, as you like, tie your stone to 

Saint Denis 405 

yourself, espouse your Pousselevent, your Couplevent — ISTever, mon- 
sieur ! never !" 



At the tone in which this "never" was pronounced Marius lost all 

He rose, picked up his hat which was on the floor, and walked 
towards the door with a firm and assured step. There he turned, 
bowed profoundly before his grandfather, raised his head again, and 

"Five years ago you outraged my father; to-day you have outraged 
my wife. I ask nothing more of you, monsieur. Adieu." 

Grandfather Gillenormand, astounded, opened his mouth, stretched 
out his arms, attempted to rise, but before he could utter a word, the 
door was closed and Marius had disappeared. 

The old man was for a few moments motionless, and as it were 
thunder-stricken, unable to speak or breathe, as if a hand were clutch- 
ing his throat. At last he tore himself from his chair, ran to the door 
as fast as a man who is ninety-one can run, opened it and cried: 

"Help ! help !" 

His daughter appeared, then the servants. He continued with a 
pitiful rattle in his voice: 

"Run after him ; catch him ! what have I done to him ! he is mad ! 
he is going away ! Oh ! my God ! oh ! my God ! — this time he will not 
come back !" 

He went to the window which looked upon the street, opened it with 
his tremulous old hands, hung more than half his body outside, while 
Basque and Nicolette held him from behind, and cried: 

"Marius! Marius! Marius! Marius!" 

But Marius was already out of hearing, and was at that very mo- 
ment turning the comer of the Rue Saint Louis. 

The octogenarian carried his hands to his temples two or three times, 
with an expression of anguish, drew back tottering, and sank into an 
armchair, pulseless, voiceless, tearless, shaking his head, and moving 
his lips with a stupid air, having now nothing in his eyes or in his 
heart but something deep and mournful, which resembled night. 

406 Les Miserables 



That very day, towards four o'clock in the afternoon, Jean Valjean 
was sitting alone upon the reverse of one of the most solitary embank- 
ments of the Champ de Mars. Whether from prudence, or from de- 
sire for meditation, or simply as a result of one of those insensible 
changes of habits which creep little by little into all lives, he now rarely 
went out with Cosette. He wore his working-man's waistcoat, brown 
linen trousers, and his cap with the long visor hid his face. He was 
now calm and happy in regard to Cosette; what had for some time 
alarmed and disturbed him was dissipated; but within a week or two 
anxieties of a different nature had come upon him. One day, when 
walking on the boulevard, he had seen Thenardier who was known to 
have escaped from prison with several of his evil followers; thanks to 
his disguise, Thenardier had not recognised him; but since then Jean 
Valjean had seen him again several times, and he was now certain that 
Thenardier was prowling about the quartier. This was sufficient to 
make him take a serious step. Thenardier there ! he and his com- 
panions at large! this was all dangers at once. Moreover, Paris was 
not quiet: the political troubles had this inconvenience for him who 
had any thing in his life to conceal, that the police had become very 
active, and very secret, and that in seeking to track out a man like 
Pepin or Morey, they would be very likely to discover a man like Jean 
Valjean. Jean Valjean had decided to leave Paris, and even Erance, 
and to pass over to England. He had told Cosette. In less than a 
week he wished to be gone. He was sitting on the embankment in 
the Champ de Mars, revolving all manner of thoughts in his mind, 
Thenardier, the police, the journey, and the difficulty of procuring a 

On all these points he was anxious. 

Finally , an inexplicable circumstance which had just burst upon 
him, and with which he was still warm, had added to his alarm. On 
the morning of that very day, being the only one up in the house, 


Saint Denis 407 

and walking in the garden before Cosette's shutters were open, he had 
suddenly come upon this line scratched upon the wall, probably with 
a nail. 

16, Rue de la Verrerie. 

It was quite recent, the lines were white in the old black mortar, 
a tuft of nettles at the foot of the wall was powdered with fresh fine 
plaster. It had probably been written during the night. What was 
it ? an address ? a signal for others ? a warning for him ? At all events, 
it was evident that the garden had been violated, and that some per- 
sons unknown had penetrated into it. He recalled the strange inci- 
dents which had already alarmed the house. His mind worked upon 
this canvass. He took good care not to speak to Cosette of the line 
written on the wall, for fear of frightening her. 

In the midst of these meditations, he perceived, by a shadow which 
the sun projected, that somebody had just stopped upon the crest of 
the embankment immediately behind him. He was about to turn 
round, when a folded paper fell upon his knees, as if a hand had 
dropped it from above his head. He took the paper, unfolded it, 
and read on it this word, written in large letters with a pencil : 


Jean Valjean rose hastily, there was no longer anybody on the em- 
bankment; he looked about him, and perceived a species of being 
larger than a child, smaller than a man, dressed in a grey blouse, and 
trousers of dirt-coloured cotton velvet, which jumped over the parapet 
and let itself slide into the ditch of the Champ de Mars. 

Jean Valjean returned home immediately, full of thought. 


Marius had left M. Gillenormand's desolate. He had entered with a 
very small hope; he came out with an immense despair. 

He began to walk the streets, the resource of those who suffer. He 
thought of nothing which he could ever remember. At two o'clock 
in the morning he returned to Courfeyrac's, and threw himself, dressed 
as he was, upon his mattress. It was broad sunlight when he fell 
asleep, with that frightful, heavy slumber in which the ideas come 
and go in the brain* When he awoke, he saw standing in the room, 

408 Les Miserables 

their hats upon their heads, all ready to go out, and very busy, 
Courfeyrac, Enjolras, Feuilly, and Combeferre. 

Courfeyrac said to him: 

^^Are you going to the funeral of General Lamarque?" 

It seemed to him that Courfeyrac was speaking Chinese. 

He went out some time after them. He put into his pocket the 
pistols which Javert had confided to him at the time of the adventure 
of the 3rd of February, and which had remained in his hands. These 
pistols were still loaded. It would be difficult to say what obscure 
thought he had in his mind in taking them with him. 

He rambled about all day without knowing where; it rained at 
intervals, he did not perceive it; for his dinner he bought a penny 
roll at a baker's, put it in his pocket, and forgot it. It would appear 
that he took a bath in the Seine without being conscious of it. There 
are moments when a man has a furnace in his brain. Marius was 
in one of those moments. He hoped nothing more, he feared nothing 
more; he had reached this condition since the evening before. He 
waited for night with feverish impatience, he had but one clear idea; 
that was, that at nine o'clock he should see Cosette. This last happi- 
ness was. now his whole future; afterwards, darkness. At intervals, 
while walking along the most deserted boulevards, he seemed to hear 
strange sounds in Paris. He roused himself from his reverie, and 
said: "Are they fighting?" 

At nightfall, at precisely nine o'clock, as he had promised Cosette, 
he was in the Rue Plumet. When he approached the grating he for- 
got everything else. It was forty-eight hours since he had seen Cosette, 
he was going to see her again, every other thought faded away, and 
he felt now only a deep and wonderful joy. Those minutes in which 
we live centuries always have this sovereign and wonderful peculiar- 
ity, that for the moment while they are passing, they entirely fill the 

Marius displaced the grating, and sprang into the garden. Cosette 
was not at the place where she usually waited for him. He crossed 
the thicket and went to the recess near the steps. "She is waiting 
for me there," said he. Cosette was not there. He raised his eyes, 
and saw that the shutters of the house were closed. He took a turn 
around the garden, the garden was deserted. Then he returned to the 

Saint Denis 409 

house, and, mad with love, intoxicated, dismayed, exasperated with 
grief and anxiety, like a master who returns home in an untoward 
hour, he rapped on the shutters. He rapped, he rapped again, at the 
risk of seeing the window open and the forbidding face of the father 
appear and ask him : *'What do you want ?" This was nothing com- 
pared with what he now began to see. When he had rapped, he raised 
his voice and called Cosette. "Cosette!" cried he. "Cosette!" re- 
peated he imperiously. There was no answer. It was settled. No- 
body in the garden; nobody in the house. 

Marius fixed his despairing eyes upon that dismal house, as black, 
as silent, and more empty than a tomb. He looked at the stone seat 
where he had passed so many adorable hours with Cosette. Then he 
sat down upon the steps, his heart full of tenderness and resolution, 
he blessed his love in the depths of his thought, and he said to himself 
that since Cosette was gone, there was nothing more for him but to die. 

Suddenly he heard a voice which appeared to come from the street, 
and which cried through the trees: 

"Monsieur Marius!'' 

He arose. 

"Hey?" said he. 

"Monsieur Marius, is it you?" 


"Monsieur Marius," added the voice, "your friends are expecting 
you at the barricade, in the Eue de la Chanvrerie." 

This voice was not entirely unknown to him. It resembled the 
harsh and roughened voice of Eponine. Marius ran to the grating, 
pushed aside the movable bar, passed his head through, and saw some- 
body who appeared to him to be a young man rapidly disappearing 
in the twilight, 


Jean Valjean's purse was useless to M. Mabeuf. M. Mabeuf, in 
his venerable childlike austerity, had not accepted the gift of the stars ; 
he did not admit that a star could coin itself into gold louis. He did 
not guess that what fell from the sky came from Gavroche. He 
carried the purse to the Commissary of Police of the quartier, as a 

^^^ Les Miserables 

lost article, placed by the finder at the disposition of claimants. The 
purse was lost, in fact. We need not say that nobody reclaimed it, 
and it did not help M. Mabeuf. 

Por the rest, M. Mabeuf had continued to descend. 

The year before, he owed his housekeeper her wages; now he owed 
three quarters of his rent. Before this, and for a long time before, 
he had given up the two eggs and the bit of beef which he used to eat 
from time to time. He dined on bread and potatoes. He had sold 
his last furniture, then all his spare bedding and clothing, then his 
collections of plants and his pictures ; but he still had his most precious 
books, several of which were of great rarity. 

One day Mother Plutarch said to him : 

"I have nothing to buy the dinner with." 

What she called the dinner was a loaf of bread and four or ^ve 

"On credit V said M. Mabeuf. 

"You know well enough that they refuse me." 

M. Mabeuf opened his library, looked long at all his books one after 
another, as a father, compelled to decimate his children, would look 
at them before choosing, then took one of them hastily, put it under 
his arm, and went out. He returned two hours afterwards with noth- 
ing under his arm, laid thirty sous on the table, and said : 

"You will get some dinner." 

From that moment. Mother Plutarch saw settling over the old man's 
white face a dark veil which was never lifted again. 

The next day, the day after, every day, he had to begin again. M. 
Mabeuf went out with a book and came back with a piece of money. 
As the bookstall keepers saw that he was forced to sell, they bought 
from him for twenty sous what he had paid twenty francs for, some- 
times to the same booksellers. Volume by volume, the whole library 
passed away. He said at times: "I am eighty years old however," 
as if he had some lingering hope of reaching the end of his days be- 
fore reaching the end of his books. His sadness increased. Once, 
however, he had a pleasure. He went out with a Robert Estienne 
which he sold for thirty-five sous on the Quai Malaquais and returned 
with an Aldine which he had bought for forty sous in the Eue des 

Saint Denis 411 

Gres. "I owe five sous," said he to Mother Plutarch, glowing with 


That day he did not dine. 

He had acquired the habit, every evening before going to bed, of 
reading a few pages in his Diogenes Laertius. He knew Greek well 
enough to enjoy the peculiarities of the text which he possessed. He 
had now no other joy. Some weeks rolled by. Suddenly Mother 
Plutarch fell sick. There is one thing sadder than having nothing 
with which to buy bread from the baker; that is, having nothing with 
which to buy drugs from the apothecary. One night, the doctor had 
ordered a very dear potion. And then, the sickness was growing worse, 
a nurse was needed. M. Mabeuf opened his bookcase ; there was noth- 
ing more there. The last volume had gone. The Diogenes Laertius 
alone remained. 

He put the unique copy under his arm and went out, it was the 
4th of June, 1832; he went to the Porte Saint Jacques, to Royol's 
Successor's, and returned with a hundred francs. He laid the pile 
of five-franc pieces on the old servant's bedroom table, and went back 
to his room without saying a word. 

The next day, by dawn, he was seated on the stone post in the 
garden, and he might have been seen from over the hedge all the morn- 
ing motionless, his head bowed down, his eyes vaguely fixed upon the 
withered beds. At intervals he wept; the old man did not seem to 
perceive it.. In the afternoon, extraordinary sounds broke out in Paris. 
They resembled musket shots, and the clamour of a multitude. 

Father Mabeuf raised his head. He saw a gardener going by, 
and asked: 

"What is that ?" 

The gardener answered, his spade upon his shoulder, and in the 
most quiet tone: 

"It's the emeutes." 

"What emeutes?" 

"Yes. They are fighting." 

"What are they fighting for ?" 

"Oh! Lordy!" said the gardener. 

"Whereabouts?" continued M. Mabeuf. 

412 Les Miserables 

"!N^ear the Arsenal." 

Father Mabeuf went into the house, took his hat, looked mechanically 
for a book to put under his arm did not find any, said: "Ah! it is 
true !" and went away with a bewildered air. 


A bueial: opportunity fob re-birth 

The events which we are about to relate belong to that dramatic 
and living reality which the historian sometimes neglects, for lack of 
time and space. In them, however, we insist, in them is the life, the 
palpitation, the quivering of humanity. Little incidents, are, so to 
speak, the foliage of great events and are lost in the distance of history. 
The epoch known as that of emeutes abounds in details of this kind. 
The judicial investigations, for other reasons than history, did not 
reveal everything, nor perhaps get to the bottom of everything. We 
shall therefore bring to light, among the known and public circum- 
stances, some things which have never been known, deeds, over some 
of which oblivion has passed; over others, death. Most of the actors 
in those gigantic scenes have disappeared ; from the morrow they were 
silent; but what we shall relate, we can say that we saw. We shall 
change some names, for history relates and does not inform against, 
but we shall paint reality. From the nature of the book which we 
are writing, we only show one side and an episode, and that certainly 
the least known, of the days of the 5th and 6th of June, 1832 ; but we 
shall do it in such a way that the reader may catch a glimpse, under 
the gloomy veil which we are about to lift, of the real countenance of 
that fearful public tragedy. 

In the spring of 1832, although for three months the cholera had 
chilled all hearts and thrown over their agitation an inexpressibly 
mournful calm, Paris had for a long time been ready for a commotion. 
The great city resembles a piece of artillery ; when it is loaded the 
falling of a spark is enough, the shot goes off. In June, 1832, the 
spark was the death of General Lanaarque. 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

Lamarque was a man of renown and of action. He had had suc- 
cessively, under the Empire and under the Restoration, the two 
braveries necessary to the two epochs, the bravery of the battlefield 
and the bravery of the rostrum. He was eloquent as he had been 
valiant; men felt a sword in his speech. Like Foy, his predecessor, 
after having upheld command, he upheld liberty. He sat between the 
left and the extreme left, loved by the people because he accepted the 
chances of the future, loved by the masses because he had served 
the emperor well. He was, with Counts Gerard and Drouet, one of 
Napoleon's marshals in petto. The treaties of 1815 regarded him as 
a personal offence. He hated Wellington with a direct hatred which 
pleased the multitude; and for seventeen years, hardly noticing inter- 
mediate events, he had majestically preserved the sadness of Water- 
loo. In his death-agony, at his latest hour, he had pressed against 
his breast a sword which was presented to him by the officers of the 
Hundred Days. E'apoleon died pronouncing the word armee, La- 
marque pronouncing the word patrie. 

His death, which had been looked for, was dreaded by the people 
as a loss, and by the government as an opportunity. This death was 
a mourning. Like everything which is bitter, mourning may turn 
into revolt. This is what happened. 

The eve and the morning of the 5th of June, the day fixed for 
the funeral of Lamarque, the Faubourg Saint Antoine, through the 
edge of which the procession was to pass, assumed a formidable aspect. 
That tumultuous network of streets was full of rumour. Men armed 
themselves as they could. Some joiners carried their bench-claw "to 
stave in the doors.'' One of them had made a dagger of a shoe-hook 
by breaking off the hook and sharpening the stump. Another, in the 
fever "to attack," had slept for three nights without undressing. A 
carpenter named Lombier met a comrade, who asked him: "Where 
are you going?" "Well! I have no arms." "What then?" "I am 
going to my yard to look for my compasses." "What for ?" "I don't 
know," said Lombier. A certain Jacqueline, a man of business, hailed 
every working-man who passed by with: "Come, you!" He bought 
ten sous' worth of wine, and said: "Have you any work?" "]N^o." 
"Go to Filspierre's, between the Barriere Montreuil and the Barriere 
Charonne, you will find work." They found at Filspierre's cartridges 

414 Les Miserables 

and arms. Certain known chiefs did the post; that is to say, ran from 
one house to another to assemble their people. At Barthelemy's, near 
the Barriere dn Trone, and at Capet's, at the Petit Chapeau, the 
drinkers accosted each other seriously. They were heard to say: 
''Where is your pistol f ''Under my blouse/' "And yours?" 
"Under my shirt/' On the Rue Traversiere, in front of the Roland 
workshop, and in the Cour de la Maison Brulee, in front of Bernier's 
machine-shop, groups were whispering. Among the most ardent, a 
certain Mavot was noticed, who never worked more than a week in 
one shop, the masters sending him away, "because they had to dispute 
with him every day." Mavot was killed the next day in the barri- 
cade, in the Rue Menilmontant. Pretot, who was also to die in the 
conflict, seconded Mavot, and to this question : "What is your object ?" 
answered: "Insurrection/' Some working-men, gathered at the 
comer of the Rue de Bercy, were waiting for a man named Lemarin, 
revolutionary officer for the Faubourg Saint Marceau. Orders were 
passed about almost publicly. 

On the 5th of June, then, a day of mingled rain and sunshine, the 
procession t)f General Lamarque passed through Paris with the official 
military pomp, somewhat increased by way of precaution. Two 
battalions, drums muffled, muskets reversed, ten thousand !N^ational 
Guards, their sabres at their sides, the batteries of artillery of the 
National Guard, escorted the coffin. The hearse was drawn by young 
men. The officers of the Invalides followed immediately bearing 
branches of laurel. Then came a countless multitude, strange and 
agitated, the sectionaries of the Friends of the People, the Law School^ 
the Medical School, refugees from all nations, Spanish, Italian, Ger- 
man, Polish flags, horizontal tri-coloured flags, every possible banner, 
children waving green branches, stone-cutters and carpenters, who were 
on a strike at that very moment, printers recognisable by their paper 
caps, walking two by two, three by three, uttering cries, almost all 
brandishing clubs, a few swords, without order, and yet with a single 
soul, now a rout, now a column. Some platoons chose chiefs; a man, 
armed with a pair of pistols openly worn, seemed to be passing others 
in review as they filed off before him. On the cross alleys of the 
boulevards, in the branches of the trees, on the balconies, at the win- 
dows, on the roofs, were swarms of heads, men, women, children ; their 

Saint Denis 415 

eyes were full of anxiety. An armed multitude was passing by, a 
terrified multitude was looking on. 

The government also was observing. It was observing, with its 
hand upon the hilt of the sword. One might have seen, all ready to 
march, with full cartridge-boxes, guns and musquetoons loaded, in the 
Place Louis XV., four squadrons of carbineers, in the saddle, trumpets 
at their heads, in the Latin Quarter and at the Jardin des Plantes, the 
Municipal Guard, en echelon from street to street, at the Halle aux Vins 
a squadron of dragoons, at La Greve one half of the 12th Light, the 
other half at the Bastille, the 6th dragoons at the Celestins, the Court 
of the Louvre full of artillery. The rest of the troops were stationed 
in the barracks, without counting the regiments in the environs of 
Paris. Anxious authority held suspended over the threatening mul- 
titude twenty-four thousand soldiers in the city, and thirty thousand 
in the banlieue. 

The cortege made its way, with a feverish slowness, from the house 
of death, along the boulevards as far as the Bastille. It rained from 
time to time; the rain had no effect upon that throng. Several inci- 
dents, the coffin drawn around the Vendome column, the stones thrown 
at the Duke de Fitz-James who was seen on a balcony with his hat on, 
the Gallic cock torn from a popular flag and dragged in the mud, a 
sergeant de ville wounded by a sword thrust at the Porte Saint Martin, 
an officer of the 12th Light saying aloud: "I am a republican," the 
Polytechnic School unlooked for after its forced countersign, the cries : 
Vive Vecole polytechnique ! Vive la repuhlique! marked the progress 
of the procession. At the Bastille, long and formidable files of the 
curious from the Faubourg Saint Antoine made their junction with 
the cortege, and a certain terrible ebullition began to upheave the 

One man was heard saying to another: "Do you see that man 
with the red beard? it is he who will say when we must draw." It 
would appear that that same red beard was found afterwards with the 
same office in another emeute; the Quenisset affair. 

The hearse passed the Bastille, followed the canal, crossed the little 
bridge, and reached the esplanade of the Bridge of Austerlitz. There 
it stopped. At this moment a bird's-eye view of this multitude would 
have presented the appearance of a comet, the head of which was it 

416 Les Miserables 

the esplanade, while the tail, spreading over the Quai Bourdon, covered 
the Bastille, and stretched along the boulevard as far as the Porte 
Saint Martin. A circle was formed about the hearse. The vast 
assemblage became silent. Lafayette spoke and bade farewell to 
Lamarque. It was a touching and august moment, all heads were 
uncovered, all hearts throbbed. Suddenly a man on horseback, dressed 
in black, appeared in the midst of the throng with a red flag, others 
say with a pike surmounted by a red cap. Lafayette turned away his 
head. Exelmans left the cortege. 

This red flag raised a storm and disappeared in it. From the 
Boulevard Bourdon to the Bridge of Austerlitz one of those shouts 
which resemble billows moved the multitude. Two prodigious shouts 
arose: Lamarque to the Pantheon! Lafayette to the Hotel de Ville! 
Some young men, amid the cheers of the throng, harnessed themselves, 
and began to draw Lamarque in the hearse over the bridge of Austerlitz, 
and Lafayette in a fiacre along the Quai Morland. 

In the crowd which surrounded and cheered Lafayette, was noticed 
and pointed out a German, named Ludwig Snyder, who afterwards 
died a centenarian, who had also been in the war of 1776, and who had 
fought at Trenton under Washington, and under Lafayette at Brandy- 

Meanwhile, on the left bank, the municipal cavalry was in motion, 
and had just barred the bridge, on the right bank the dragoons left 
the Celestins and deployed along the Quai Morland. The men who 
were drawing Lafayette suddenly perceived them at the corner of the 
Quai, and cried : "the dragoons !'' The dragoons were advancing 
at a walk, in silence, their pistols in their holsters, their sabres in their 
sheaths, their musketoons in their rests, with an air of gloomy ex- 

At two hundred paces from the little bridge, they halted'. The 
fiacre in which Lafayette was, made its way up to them, they opened 
their ranks, let it pass, and closed again behind it. At that moment 
the dragoons and the multitude came together. The women fled in 

What took place in that fatal moment? nobody could tell. It was 
the dark moment when two clouds mingle. Some say that a trumpet- 
flourish sounding the charge was heard from the direction of the 


Saint Denis 417 

Arsenal, others that a dagger-thrust was given by a child to a dragoon. 
The fact is that three shots were suddenly fired, the first killed the 
chief of the squadron, Cholet, the second killed an old deaf woman 
who was closing her window in the Eue Contrescarpe, the third singed 
the epaulet of an officer; a woman cried: "They are beginning too 
soon!" and all at once there was seen, from the side opposite the 
Quai Morland, a squadron of dragoons which had remained in barracks 
turning out on the gallop, with swords drawn, from the Kue Bassom- 
pierre and the Boulevard Bourdon, and sweeping all before them. 

There are no more words, the tempest breaks loose, stones fall like 
hail, musketry bursts forth, many rush headlong down the bank and 
cross the little arm of the Seine now filled up, the yards of the He 
Louviers, that vast ready-made citadel, bristle with combatants, they 
tear up stakes, they fire pistol-shots, a barricade is planned out, the 
young men crowded back, pass the Bridge of Austerlitz with the hearse 
at a run, and charge on the Municipal Guard, the carbineers rush up, 
the dragoons ply the sabre, the mass scatters in every direction, a 
rumour of war flies to the four corners of Paris, men cry: "To 
arms!" they run, they tumble, they fly, they resist. Wrath sweeps 
along the emeute as the wind sweeps along a flre. 





At the moment the insurrection, springing up at the shock of the people 
with the troops in front of the Arsenal, determined a backward move- 
ment in the multitude which was following the hearse and which, for 
the whole length of the boulevards, weighed, so to say, upon the head 
of the procession, there was a frightful reflux. The mass wavered, 
the ranks broke, all ran, darted, slipped away, some with cries of 
attack, others with the pallor of flight. The great river which covered 
the boulevards divided in a twinkling, overflowed on the right and on 
the left, and poured in torrents into two hundred streets at once with 

4^18 Les Miserables 

the rushing of an opened mill-sluice. At this moment a ragged child 
who was coming down the Rue Menilmontant, holding in his hand a 
branch of laburnum in bloom, which he had just gathered on the 
heights of Belleville, caught sight, before a second-hand dealer's shop, 
of an old horse pistol. He threw his flowering branch upon the pave- 
ment, and cried: 

^ ^Mother What's-your-name, I'll borrow your machine." 

And he ran off with the pistol. 

It was little Gavroche going to war. 

On the boulevard he perceived that the pistol had no hammer. 

Soon he had reached, pistol in hand, the Rue du Pont aux 
Choux. He noticed that there was now, in that street, but one shop 
open, and, a matter worthy of reflection, a pastry-cook's shop. This 
was a providential opportunity to eat one more apple-puff before 
entering the unknown. Gavroche stopped, fumbled in his trousers, 
felt in his fob, turned out his pockets, found nothing in them, not a 
sou, and began to cry: "Help!" 

It is hard to lack the- final cake. 

Gavroche, none the less continued on his way. 

Two minutes later, he was in the Rue Saint Louis. While passing 
through the Rue du Pare Royal he felt the need of some compensation 
for the impossible apple-puff, and he gave himself the immense pleasure 
of tearing down the theatre posters in broad day. 

A little further along, seeing a group of well-to-do persons pass by, 
who appeared to him to be men of property, he shrugged his shoulders, 
and spit out at random this mouthful of philosophic bile: 

"These rich men, how fat they are! they stuff themselves. They 
wallow in good dinners. Ask them what they do with their money. 
They don't know anything about it. They eat it, they do! How 
much of it the belly carries away." 


The brandishing of a pistol without a hammer, holding it in one's hand 
in the open street, is such a public function that Gavroche felt his 
spirits rise higher with every step. He cried, between the snatches 
of the Marseillaise which he was singing : 

Saint Denis 419 

"It's all going well. I suffer a good deal in my left paw, I am 
broken with my rheumatism, but I am content, citizens. The bourgeois 
have nothing to do but to behave themselves, I am going to sneeze 
subversive couplets at them. What are the detectives? they are dogs. 
By jinks! don't let us fail in respect for dogs. I^ow I wish I had 
one to my pistol.^ I come from the boulevard, my friends, it is get- 
ting hot, it is boiling over a little, it is simmering. It is time to skim 
the pot. Forward, men! let their impure blood water the furrows! 
I give my days for my country. I have had enough of despotism." 

At that moment, the horse of a lancer of the National Guard, who 
was passing, having fallen down, Gavroche laid his pistol on the pave- 
ment, and raised up the man, then he helped to raise the horse. After 
which he picked up his pistol, and resumed his way. 

In the Eue de Thorigny, all was peace and silence. This apathy, 
suited to the Marais, contrasted with the vast surrounding uproar. 
Pour gossips were chatting upon a doorstep. 

Soon after, Gavroche passed the Hotel Lamoignon. There he 
shouted out this appeal : 

"En route for battle !" 

And he was seized with a fit of melancholy. He looked at his 
pistol with a reproachful air, which seemed an endeavour to soften it: 

"I go off," said he to it, "but you do not go off." 

One dog may distract attention from another. A very lean cur 
was passing. Gavroche was moved to pity. 

"My poor bow-wow," said he, ^^ave you swallowed a barrel, then, 
that all the hoops show ?" 

Then he bent his steps towards the Orme Saint Gervais. 


A WORTHY barber, was at this moment in his shop, busy shaving an 
old legionary soldier who had served under the empire. They were 
chatting. The barber had naturally spoken to the veteran of the 
emeute, then of General Lamarque, and from Lamarque they had come 
to the emperor. Hence a conversation between a barber and a soldier, 
which Prudhomme, if he had been present, would have enriched with 

^ The French call the hammer of a pistol, the dog of it. 

420 Les Miserables 

arabesques, and which he would have entitled : Dialogue of the razor 
and the sahre, 

"Monsieur," said the wig-maker, ^^how did the emperor mount on 
horseback ?" 

"Badly. He didn't know how to fall. So he never fell." 

"Did he have fine horses ? he must have had fine horses !" 

"The day he gave me the cross, I noticed his animal. She was a 
running mare, perfectly white. Her ears were very wide apart, 
saddle deep, head fine, marked with a black star, neck very long, knees 
strongly jointed, ribs protruding, shoulders sloping, hind quarterns 
powerful. A little more than fifteen hands high." 

"A pretty horse," said the barber. 

"It was the animal of his majesty." 

The barber felt that after this word a little silence was proper, he 
conformed to it, then resumed: 

"The emperor was never wounded but once, was he, monsieur?" 

The old soldier answered with the calm and sovereign tone of a man 
who was there: 

"In the heel. At Katisbon. I never saw him so well dressed as he 
was that day. He was as neat as a penny." 

"And you. Monsieur Veteran, you must have been wounded often ?" 

"I ?" said the soldier, "ah ! no great thing. I got two sabre slashes 
in my neck at Marengo, a ball in my right arm at Austerlitz, another 
in my left hip at Jena, at Eriedland a bayonet thrust — there, — at 
Moscow seven or eight lance thrusts, no matter where, at Lutzen a 
shell burst which crushed my finger — Ah! and then at Waterloo a 
bullet in my leg. That is all." 

"How beautiful it is," exclaimed the barber with a pindaric accent, 
"to die on the field of battle ! Upon my word, rather than die in my 
bed, of sickness, slowly, a little every day, with drugs, plasters, syringes, 
and medicine, I would prefer a cannon ball in my belly." 

"You are not fastidious," said the soldier. 

He had hardly finished when a frightful crash shook the shop. A 
pane of the window had been suddenly shattered. 

The barber became pallid. 

"O God!" cried he, "there is one!" 


Saint Denis ^21 

"A cannon ball." 

"Here it is," said tlie soldier. 

And he picked up something which was rolling on the floor. It was 
a stone. 

The barber ran to the broken window and saw Gavroche, who was 
running with all his might towards the Saint Jean market. On 
passing the barber's shop, Gavroche, could not resist the desire to bid 
him good day, and had sent a stone through his sash. 

"See !" screamed the barber, who from white had become blue, "he 
makes mischief for the sake of mischief. What has anybody done 
to that gamin?'* 


Meanwhile Gavroche at the Saint Jean market, where the guard was 
already disarmed, had just — effected his junction — with a band led 
by Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Feuilly. They were al- 
most armed. Bahorel and Jean Prouvaire had joined them and en- 
larged the group. Enjolras' had a double-barrelled fowling piece. 
Combeferre a National Guard's musket bearing the number of the 
legion, and at his waist two pistols which could be seen, his coat being 
unbuttoned, Jean Prouvaire an old cavalry musketoon, Bahorel a 
carbine; Courfeyrac was brandishing an unsheathed sword-cane. 
Feuilly, a drawn sabre in his hand, marched in the van, crying : "Po- 
land for ever!" 

They came from the Quai Morland cravatless, hatless, breathless, 
soaked by the rain, lightning in their eyes. Gavroche approached 
them calmly: 

"Where are we going ?" 

"Come on," said Courfeyrac. 

Behind Feuilly marched, or rather bounded, Bahorel, a fish in the 
water of the emeute. He had a crimson waistcoat, and those words 
which crush everything. His waistcoat overcame a passer, who cried 
out in desperation: 

"There are the reds!" 

"The red, the reds!" replied BahoreL "A comical fear, bourgeois. 
As for me, I don't tremble before a red poppy, the little red hood in- 

422 Les Miserables 

spires me with no dismay. Bourgeois, believe me, leave the fear of 
red to horned cattle." 

A tumultuous cortege accompanied them, students, artists, young 
men affiliated to the Cougourde d'Aix, workingmen, rivermen, armed 
with clubs and bayonets; a few, like Combeferre, with pistols thrust 
into their waistbands. An old man, who appeared very old, was march- 
ing with this band. He was not armed, and he was hurrying, that 
he should not be left behind, although he had a thoughtful expression. 
Gavroche perceived him: 

^^Whossat?'' said he to Courfeyrac. 

"That is an old man." 

It was M. Mabeuf . 


We must tell what had happened. 

Enjolras and his friends were on the Boulevard Bourdon, near the 
warehouses, at the moment the dragoons charged. Enjolras, Courfey- 
rac, and Combeferre were among those who took to the Rue Bassomi- 
pierre, crying: "To the barricades!" In the Rue Lesdiguieres they 
met an old man trudging along. What attracted their attention was, 
that this goodman was walking zigzag, as if he were drunk. More- 
over, he had his hat in his hand, although it had been raining all the 
morning, and was raining hard at that very moment. Courfeyrac 
recognised Father Mabeuf. He knew from having seen him many 
times accompanying Marius to his door. Knowing the peaceful and 
more than timid habits of the old church-warden-bookworm, and 
astounded at seeing him in the midst of this tumult, within two steps 
of the cavalry charges, almost in the midst of a fusilade, bareheaded 
in the rain, and walking among the bullets, he went up to him, and 
the emeuter of five-and-twenty and the octogenarian exchanged this 
dialogue : 

"Monsieur Mabeuf, go home." 

"What for?" 

"There is going to be a row." 

"Very well." 

"Sabre strokes, musket shots, Monsieur Mabeuf." 

© Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 


Saint Denis ^23 

"Very well." 

"Cannon shots." 

"Very well. Where are you going, you boys?" 

"We are going to pitch the government over." 

"Very well." 

And he followed them. From that moment he had not uttered a 
word. His step had suddenly become firm; some workingmen had 
offered him an arm, he refused with a shake of the head. He advanced 
almost to the front rank of the column, having at once the motion of a 
man who is walking, and the countenance of a man who is asleep. 

"What a desperate goodman!" murmured the students. The 
rumour ran through the assemblage that he was — an ancient Con- 
ventionist — an old regicide. The company had turned into the Rue 
de la Verrerie. 


The band increased at every moment. Towards the Rue des Billettes 
a man of tall stature, who was turning grey, whose rough and bold 
mien Courfeyrac, Enjolras, and Combeferre noticed, but whom none 
of them knew, joined them. Gavroche, busy singing, whistling, 
humming, going forward and rapping on the shutters of the shops 
with the butt of his hammerless pistol, paid no attention to this 

It happened that, in the Rue de la Verrerie, they passed by Courfey- 
rac's door. 

"That is lucky," said Courfeyrac, "I have forgotten my purse, and 
I have lost my hat." He left the company and went up to his room, 
four stairs at a time. He took an old hat and his purse. He took also 
a large square box, of the size of a big valise, which was hidden among 
his dirty clothes. As he was running down again, the portress hailed 

"Portress, what is your name?" responded Courfeyrac. 

The portress stood aghast. 

"Why, you know it very well; I am the portress, my name is 
Mother Veuvain." 

"Well, if you call me Monsieur de Courfeyrac again, I shall call 

424 Les Miserables 

you Mother de Veuvain. Now, speak, what is it? What do you 
want ?" 

"There is somebody who wishes to speak to you." 

"Who is it?" 

''I don't know." 

"Where is he ?" 

"In my lodge." 

"The devil!" said Courfeyrae. 

"But he has been waiting more than an hour for you to come home !" 
replied the portress. 

At the same time, a sort of young working-man, thin, pale, small, 
freckled, dressed in a torn blouse and patched pantaloons of ribbed 
velvet, and who had rather the appearance of a girl in boy's clothes 
than of a man, came out of the lodge and said to Courfeyrae in a voice 
which, to be sure, was not the least in the world a woman's voice. 

"Monsieur Marius, if you please?" 

"He is not in." 

"Will he be in this evening?" 

"I don't know anything about it." 

And Courfeyrae added: "As for myself, I shall not be in." 

The young man looked fixedly at him, and asked him: 

"Why so ?" 


"Where are you going then ?" 

"What is that to you ?" 

"Do you want me to carry your box ?" 

"I am going to the barricades." 

"Do you want me to go with you ?" 

"If you like," answered Courfeyrae. "The road is free ; the streets 
belong to everybody." 

And he ran off to rejoin his friends. When he had rejoined them, 
he gave the box to one of them to carry. It was not until a quarter 
of an hour afterwards that he perceived that the young man had in 
fact followed them. 

A mob does not go precisely where it wishes. A gust of wind carries 
it along. They went beyond Saint Merry and found themselves, with- 
out really knowing how, in the Hue Saint Denis. 

Saint Denis ^^^ 



The Parisians who, to-day, upon entering the Kue Kambuteau from 
the side of the markets, notice on their right, opposite the Rue 
Mondetour, a basket-maker^s shop, with a basket for a sign, in the 
shape of the Emperor Napoleon the Great, with this inscription : 


do not suspect the terrible scenes which this very place saw thirty 
years ago. 

Here were the Eue de la Chanvrerie, which the old signs spelled 
Chanverrerie, and the celebrated wine-shop called Corinth. 

Permit us to recur, for the sake of clearness, to the simple means 
already employed by us for Waterloo. Those who would picture to 
themselves with sufficient exactness the confused blocks of houses which 
stood at that period near the Pointe Saint Eustache, at the northeast 
comer of the markets of Paris, where is now the mouth of the Rue 
Rambuteau, have only to figure to themselves, touching the Rue Saint 
Denis at its summit, and the markets at its base, an N, of which the 
two vertical strokes would be the Rue de la Grande Truanderie and 
the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and the Rue de la Petite Truanderie would 
make the transverse stroke. The old Rue Mondetour cut the three 
strokes at the most awkward angles. So that the labyrinthine en^ 
tanglement of these four streets sufficed to make, in a space of four 
hundred square yards, between the markets and the Rue Saint Denis, 
in one direction, and between the Rue du Cygne and the Rue des 
Precheurs in the other direction, seven islets of houses, oddly inter- 
secting, of various sizes, placed crosswise and as if by chance, and 
separated but slightly, like blocks of stone in a stone yard, by narrow 

^Napoleon is made^ 
all op willow braid. 

426 Les Miserables 

We say narrow crevices, and we cannot give a more just idea of 
those obscure, contracted, angular lanes, bordered by ruins eight stories 
high. These houses were so dilapidated, that in the Eues de la 
Chanvrerie and de la Petite Truanderie, the fronts were shored up with 
beams, reaching from one house to another. The street was narrow 
and the gutter wide, the passer walked along a pavement which was 
always wet, beside shops that were like cellars, great stone blocks en- 
circled with iron, immense garbage heaps, and alley gates armed with 
enormous and venerable gratings. The Eue Kambuteau has devas- 
tated all this. 

The name Mondetour pictures marvellously well the windings of all 
this route. A little further along you found them still better expressed 
by the Rue Pirouette, which ran into the Eue Mondetour. 

The passer who came from the Eue Saint Denis into the Eue de la 
Chanvrerie saw it gradually narrow away before him as if he had 
entered an elongated funnel. At the end of the street, which was very 
short, he found the passage barred on the market side, and he would 
have thought himself in a cul-de-sac, if he had not perceived on the 
right and on the left two black openings by which he could escape. 
These were the Eue Mondetour, which communicated on the one side 
with the Eue des Precheurs, on the other with the Eues du Cygne and 
Petite Truanderie. At the end of this sort of cul-de-sac, at the comer 
of the opening on the right, might be seen a house lower than the rest, 
and forming a kind of cape on the street. 

In this house, only two stories high, had* been festively installed 
for three hundred years an illustrious wine-shop. This wine-shop 
raised a joyful sound in the very place which old Theophile has 
rendered famous in these two lines: 

La branle le squelette horrible 
D'un pauvre amant qui se pendit.^ 

The location was good. The proprietorship descended from father 
to son. 

As we have said, Corinth was one of the meeting, if not rallying 
places, of Courfeyrac and his friends. It was Grantaire who had dis- 
covered Corinth. They drank there, they ate there, they shouted there ; 

^ There rattles the horrible skeleton of a poor lover who hung himself. 

Saint Denis 427 

they paid little, they paid poorly, they did not pay at all, they were 
always welcome. Father Hucheloup was a goodman. 

Hucheloup, a goodman, we have just said, was a cook with mous- 
taches: an amusing variety. He had always an ill-humoured face, 
seemed to wish to intimidate his customers, grumbled at people who 
came to his house, and appeared more disposed to pick a quarrel with 
them than to serve them their soup. And still, we maintain, they 
were always welcome. This oddity had brought custom to his shop, 
and led young men to him, saying to each other: "Come and hear 
Father Hucheloup grumble.'' He had been a fencing-master. He 
would suddenly burst out laughing. Coarse voice, good devil. His 
was a comic heart, with a tragic face ; he asked nothing better than to 
frighten you, much like those snuff-boxes which have the shape of a 
pistol. The discharge is a sneeze. 

His wife was Mother Hucheloup, a bearded creature, and very ugly. 

Towards 1830, Father Hucheloup died. His widow, scarcely con- 
solable, continued the wine-shop. But the cuisine degenerated and 
became execrable, the wine, which had always been bad became fright- 
ful. Courfeyrac and his friends continued to go to Corinth, however 
— "from pity," said Bossuet. 

Widow Hucheloup was short-winded and deformed, with memories 
of the country. She relieved their tiresomeness by her pronunciation. 
She had a way of her own of saying things which spiced her village 
and spring-time reminiscences. It had once been her fortune, she 
affirmed, to hear "the lead-breasts sing in the hawkthoms." 

The room on the first floor, in which was "the restaurant," was a 
long and wide room, encumbered with stools, crickets, chairs, benches, 
and tables, and a rickety old billiard-table. It was reached by the 
spiral staircase which terminated at the corner of the room in a square 
hole like the hatchway of a ship. 

This room, lighted by a single narrow window and by a lamp which 
was always burning, had the appearance of a garret. All the pieces 
of furniture on four legs behaved as if they had but three. 

Two servants, called Chowder and Fricassee, and for whom nobody 
had ever known any other names, helped Ma'am Hucheloup to put 
upon the tables the pitchers of blue wine and the various broths which 
were served to the hungry in earthen dishes. Chowder, fat, round, 

428 Les Miserables 

red, and boisterous, former favourite sultana of the defunct Huche- 
loup, was uglier than any mythological monster; still, as it is fitting 
that the servant should always keep behind the mistress, she was less 
ugly than Ma'am Hucheloup. Fricassee, long, delicate, white with 
a lymphatic whiteness, rings around her eyes, eyelids drooping, al- 
ways exhausted and dejected, subject to what might be called chronic 
weariness, up first, in bed last, served everybody, even the other servant, 
mildly and in silence, smiling through fatigue with a sort of vague 
sleepy smile. 


The place was indeed admirably chosen, the entrance of the street 
wide, the further end contracted and like a cul-de-sac, Corinth 
throttling it, Eue Mondetour easy to bar at the right and left, no 
attack possible except from the Kue Saint Denis, that is from the front, 
and without cover. 

At the irruption of the mob, dismay seized the whole street, not 
a passer but had gone into eclipse- In a flash, at the end, on the right, 
on the left, shops, stalls, alley gates, windows, blinds, dormer-windows, 
shutters of every size, were closed from the ground to the roofs. One 
frightened old woman had fixed a mattress before her window on two 
clothes poles, as a shield against the musketry. The wine-shop was the 
only house which remained open; and that for a good reason, because 
the band had rushed into it. "Oh my God ! Oh my God !'' sighed 
Ma'am Hucheloup. 

Bossuet had gone down to meet Courfeyrac. 

Joly, who had come to the window, cried: 

"Courfeyrac, you bust take ad ubbrella. You will catch cold." 

Meanwhile, in a few minutes, twenty iron bars had been wrested 
from the grated front of the wine-shop, twenty yards of pavement had 
been torn up; Gavroche and Bahorel had seized on its passage and 
tipped over the dray of a lime merchant named Anceau, this dray con- 
tained three barrels full of lime, which they had placed under the piles 
of paving stones; Enjolras had opened the trap-door of the cellar and 
all the widow Hucheloup's empty casks had gone to flank the lime 
barrels ; Feuilly, with his fingers accustomed to colour the delicate folds 

Saint Denis 429 

of fans, had buttressed the barrels and the dray "with two massive heaps 
of stones. Stones improvised like the rest, and obtained nobody 
knows where. Some shoring-timbers had been pulled down from the 
front of a neighbouring house and laid upon the casks. When Bossuet 
and Courfeyrac turned round, half the street was already barred by a 
rampart higher than a man. There is nothing like the popular hand 
to build whatever can be built by demolishing. 

Chowder and Fricassee had joined the labourers. Fricassee went 
back and forth loaded with rubbish. Her weariness contributed to 
the barricade. She served paving stones, as she would have served 
wine, with a sleepy air. 

An omnibus with two white horses passed at the end of the street. 

Bossuet sprang over the pavement, ran, stopped the driver, made the 
passengers get down, gave his hand "to the ladies," dismissed the con- 
ductor, and came back with the vehicle, leading the horses by the 

"An omnibus," said he, "doesn't pass Corinth." 

A moment later the horses were unhitched and going off at will 
through the Eue Mondetour, and the omnibus, lying on its side, com- 
pleted the barring of the street. 

Ma'am Hucheloup, completely upset, had taken refuge in the first 

Her eyes were wandering, and she looked without seeing, crying in 
a whisper. Her cries were dismayed and dared not come out of her 

"It is the end of the world," she murmured. 


CouEFEYEAC, cvcu while helping to demolish the wine-shop, sought to 
console the widowed landlady. 

"Mother Hucheloup, were you not complaining the other day that 
you had been summoned and fined because Fricassee had shaken a rug 
out of your window ?" 

"Yes, my good Monsieur Courfeyrac. Oh ! my God ! are you going 
to put that table also into your horror ? And besides that, for the rug, 
and also for a flower-pot which fell from the attic into the street, the 

430 Les Miserables 

government fined me a hundred francs. If that isn't an abomi- 
nation !'' 

"Well, Mother Hucheloup, we are avenging you." 

Mother Hueheloup, in this reparation which they were making her, 
did not seem to very well understand her advantage. She was satisfied 
after the manner of that Arab woman who, having received a blow 
from her husband, went to complain to her father, crying for vengeance 
and saying : "Father, you owe my husband affront for affront." The 
father asked: "Upon which cheek did you receive the blow?" 
"Upon the left cheek." The father struck the right cheek, and said: 
"Now you are satisfied. Go and tell your husband that he has struck 
my daughter, but that I have struck his wife." 

The rain had ceased. Recruits had arrived. Some working-men 
had brought under their blouses a keg of powder, a hamper containing 
bottles of vitriol, two or three carnival torches, and a basket full of 
lamps, "relics of the king's fete," which fete was quiet recent, having 
taken place the 1st of May. It was said that these supplies came from 
a grocer of the Faubourg Saint Antoine, named Pepin. They broke 
the only lamp in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, the lamp opposite the Rue 
Saint Denis, and all the lamps in the surrounding streets, Mondetour, 
du Cygne, des Precheurs, and de la Grande and de la Petite 

Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac, directed everything. Two 
barricades were now building at the same time, both resting on the 
house of Corinth and making a right angle; the larger one closed the 
Rue de la Chanvrerie, the other closed the Rue Mondetour in the direc- 
tion of the Rue du Cygne. This last barricade, very narrow, was con- 
structed only of casks and paving stones. There were about fifty 
labourers there, some thirty armed with muskets, for, on their way, 
they had effected a wholesale loan from an armourer's shop. 

I^othing could be more fantastic and more motley than this band. 
One had a short-jacket, a cavalry sabre, and two horse-pistols; another 
was in shirt sleeves, with a round hat, and a powder-horn hung at his 
side ; a third had a breast-plate of nine sheets of brown paper, and was 
armed with a saddler's awl. There was one of them who cried: "Let 
us exterminate to the last man, and die on the point of our bayonets!*' 
This man had no bayonet. Another displayed over his coat a cross- 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

belt and cartridge-box of the National Guard, with the box cover 
adorned with this inscription in red cloth: Public Order. Many 
muskets bearing the numbers of their legions, few hats, no cravats, 
many bare arms, some pikes. Add to this all ages, all faces, small pale 
young men, bronzed wharfmen. All were hurrying, and, while help- 
ing each other, they talked about the possible chances — that they 
would have help by three o'clock in the morning — that they were sure 
of one regiment — that Paris would rise^ Terrible subjects, with which 
were mingled a sort of cordial joviality. One would have said they 
were brothers, they did not know each other's names. Great perils 
have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers. 

A fire had been kindled in the kitchen, and they were melting pitch- 
ers, dishes, forks, all the pewter ware of the wine-shop into bullets. 
They drank throught it all. Percussion-caps and buckshot rolled pell- 
mell upon the tables with glasses of wine. In the billiard-room. Ma'am 
Hucheloup, Chowder, and Fricassee, variously modified by terror, one 
being stupefied, another breathless, the third alert, were tearing up old 
linen and making lint; three insurgents assisted them, three long- 
haired, bearded, and moustached wags who tore up the cloth with the 
fingers of a linen-draper, and who made them tremble. 

The man of tall stature whom Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Enjolras 
had noticed, at the moment he joined the company at the corner of 
the Rue des Billettes, was working on the little barricade, and making 
himself useful there. Gavroche worked on the large one. As for the 
young man who had waited for Courfeyrac at his house, and had asked 
him for Monsieur Marius, he had disappeared very nearly at the mo- 
ment the omnibus was overturned. 

Gavroche, completely carried away and radiant, had charged him- 
self with making all ready. He went, came, mounted, descended, 
remounted, bustled, sparkled. He seemed to be there for the encour- 
agement of all. Had he a spur? yes, certainly, his misery; had he 
wings ? yes, certainly, his joy. Gavroche was a whirlwind. They saw 
him incessantly, they heard him constantly. He filled the air, being 
everywhere at once. He was a kind of stimulating ubiquity ; no stop 
possible with him. The enormous barricade felt him on its back. He 
vexed the loungers, he excited the idle, he reanimated the weary, he 
provoked the thoughtful, kept some in cheerfulness, others in breath, 

^^^ Les Miserables 

others in anger, all in motion, piqued a student, was biting to a working- 
man; took position, stopped, started on, flitted above the tumult and 
the effort, leaped from these to those, murmured, hummed, and stirred 
up the whole train ; the fly on the revolutionary coach. 

Perpetual motion was in his little arms, and perpetual clamour in 
his little lungs. 

" Cheer ly ? more paving stones ? more barrels ? more machines ? where 
are there any ? A basket of plaster, to stop that hole. It is too small, 
your barricade. It must go higher. Pile on everything, brace it with 
everything. Break up the house. A barricade is Mother Gibou's tea- 
party. Hold on, there is a glass-door." 

This made the labourers exclaim : 

"A glass-door? what do you want us to do with a glass-door, 
tubercle V 

"Hercules yourselves?" retorted Gavroche. "A glass-door in a bar- 
ricade is excellent. It doesn't prevent attacking it, but it bothers them 
in taking it. Then you have never hooked apples over a wall with 
broken bottles on it ? A glass-door, it will cut the corns of the l^ational 
Guards, when they try to climb over the barricade. Golly! glass is 
the devil. Ah, now, you haven't an unbridled imagination, my 

Still, he was furious at his pistol without a hammer. He went from 
one to another, demanding: "A musket? I want a musket? Why 
don't you give me a musket ?" 

"A musket for you ?" said Combeferre. 

"Well ?" replied Gavroche, "why not ? I had one in 1830, in the 
dispute with Charles X." 

Enjolras shrugged his shoulders. 

"When there are enough for the men, we will give them to the 

Gavroche turned fiercely, and answered him : 

"If you are killed before me, I will take yours." 

" Gamin r' said Enjolras. 

"Smooth-face?" said Gavroche.^ 

A stray dandy who was lounging at the end of the street made a 

Gavroche cried to him: 

Saint Denis 4:33 

"Come with us, young man? Well, this poor old country, you 
won't do anything for her then ?" 
The dandy fled. 


The journals of the time which said that the barricade of the Kue 
de la Chanvrerie, that almost inexpugnable construction^ as they call 
it, attained the level of a second story, were mistaken. The fact is, 
that it did not exceed an average height of six or seven feet. It was 
built in such a manner that the combatants could, at will, either dis- 
appear behind the wall, or look over it, and even scale the crest of it 
by means of a quadruple range of paving-stones superposed and ar- 
ranged like steps on the inner side. The front of the barricade on 
the outside, composed of piles of paving-stones and of barrels bound 
together by timbers and boards which were interlocked in the wheels 
of the Anceau cart and the overturned omnibus, had a bristling and 
inextricable aspect. 

An opening sufficient for a man to pass through had been left between 
the wall of the houses and the extremity of the barricade furthest 
from the wine-shop, so that a sortie was possible. The pole of the 
omnibus was turned directly up and held with ropes, and a red flag, 
fixed to this pole, floated over the barricade. 

The little Mondetour barricade, hidden behind the wine-shop, was 
not visible. The two barricades united formed a staunch redoubt. 
Enjolras and Courfeyrac had not thought proper to barricade the other 
end of the Eue Mondetour which opens a passage to the markets 
through the Rue des Precheurs, wishing doubtless to preserve a pos- 
sible communication with the outside, and having little dread of being 
attacked from the dangerous and difficult alley des Precheurs. 

All this labour was accomplished without hindrance in less than 
an hour, and without this handful of bold men seeing a bearskin-cap 
or a bayonet arise. The few bourgeois who still ventured at that period 
of the emeute into the Hue Saint Denis cast a glance down the Eue 
de la Chanvrerie, perceived the barricade, and redoubled their pace. 

The two barricades finished, the flag run up, a table was dragged out 
of the wine-shop; and Courfeyrac mounted upon the table. Enjolras 

434 Les Miserables 

brought the square box and Courfeyrac opened it. This box was filled 
with cartridges. When they saw the cartridges, there was a shudder 
among the bravest, and a moment of silence. 

Courfeyrac distributed them with a smile. 

Each one received thirty cartridges. Many had powder and set 
about making others with the balls which they were moulding. As 
for the keg of powder, it was on a table by itself near the door, and 
it was reserved. 

The long-roll which was running through all Paris was not dis- 
continued, but it had got to be only a montonous sound to which they 
paid no more attention. This sound sometimes receded, sometimes 
approached, with melancholy undulations. 

They loaded their muskets and their carbines all together, without 
precipitation, with a solemn gravity. Enjolras placed three sentinels 
outside the barricades, one in the Hue de la Chanvrerie, the second 
in the Rue des Precheurs, the third at the corner of la Petite 

Then, the barricades built, the posts assigned, the muskets loaded, 
the videttes placed, alone in these fearful streets in which there were 
now no passers, surrounded by these dumb, and as it were dead houses, 
which throbbed with no human motion, enwrapped by the deepening 
shadows of the twilight, which was beginning to fall, in the midst of 
this obscurity and this silence, through which they felt the advance 
of something inexpressibly tragical and terrifying, isolated, armed, 
determined, tranquil, they waited. 


It was now quite night, nothing came. There were only confused 
sounds, and at intervals volleys of musketry; but rare, ill-sustained, 
and distant. This respite, which was thus prolonged, was a sign that 
the government was taking its time, and massing its forces. These 
fifty men were awaiting sixty thousand. 

Enjolras felt himself possessed by that impatience which seizes 
strong souls on the threshold of formidable events. He went to find 
Gavroche who had set himself to making cartridges in the basement 
room by the doubtful light of two candles placed upon the counter 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

through precaution on account of the powder scattered over the tables. 
These two candles threw no rays outside. The insurgents moreover 
had taken care not to have any lights in the upper stories. 

Gavroche at this moment was very much engaged, not exactly with 
his cartridges. 

The man from the Kue des Billettes had just entered the basement 
room and had taken a seat at the table which was least lighted. An 
infantry musket of large model had fallen to his lot, and he held it 
between his knees. Gavroche hitherto, distracted by a hundred 
"amusing'' things, had not even seen this man. 

When he came in, Gavroche mechanically followed him with his 
eyes, admiring his musket, then, suddenly, when the man had sat 
down, the gamin arose. Had any one watched this man up to this 
time, he would have seen him observe everything in the barricade and 
in the band insurgents with a singular attention; but since he had 
come into the room, he had fallen into a kind of meditation and ap- 
peared to see nothing more of what was going on. The gamin ap- 
proached this thoughtful personage, and began to turn about him on 
the points of his toes as one walks when near somebody whom he fears 
to awake. At the same time, over his childish face, at once so saucy 
and so serious, so flighty and so profound, so cheerful and so touching, 
there passed all those grimaces of the old which signify: "Oh bah! 
impossible! I am befogged! I am dreaming! can it be? no, it isn't! 
why yes! why no!" etc. Gavroche balanced himself upon his heels, 
clenched both fists in his pockets, twisted his neck like a bird, expended 
in one measureless pout all the sagacity of his lower lip. He was 
stupefied, uncertain, credulous, convinced, bewildered. He had the 
appearance of the chief of the eunuchs in the slave market discovering 
a Venus among dumpies, and the air of an amateur recognising a 
Eaphael in a heap of daubs. Everything in him was at work, the in- 
stinct which scents and the intellect which combines. It was evident 
that an event had occurred with Gavroche. 

It was in the deepest of this meditation that Enjolras accosted him. 

"You are small," said Enjolras, "nobody will see you. Go out 
of the barricades, glide along by the houses, look about the streets a 
little, and come and tell me what is going on." 

Gavroche straightened himself up. 

^^^ Les Miserables 

"Little folks are good for something then! that is very lucky! I 

will go! meantime, trust the little folks, distrust the big " And 

Gavroche, raising his head and lowering his voice, added, pointing 
to the man of the Rue des Billettes : 

"You see that big fellow there ?" 

"Well V 

"He is a spy." 

"You are sure ?" 

"It isn't a fortnight since he pulled me by the ear off the cornice 
of the Pont Royal where I was taking the air." 

Enjolras hastily left the gaming and murmured a few words very 
low to a working-man from the wine docks who was there. The 
working-man went out of the room and returned almost immediately, 
accompanied by three others. The four men, four broad-shouldered 
porters, placed themselves, without doing anything which could attract 
attention, behind the table on which the man of the Rue des Billettes 
was leaning. They were evidently ready to throw themselves upon 

Then Enjolras approached the man and asked him: 

"Who are you ?" 

At this abrupt question, the man gave a start. He looked straight 
to the bottom of Enjolras' frank eye and appeared to catch his thought. 
He smiled with a smile which, of all things in the world, was the most 
disdainful, the most energetic, and the most resolute, and answered 
with a haughty gravity: 

"I see how it is ^Well, yes !" 

"You are a spy ?" 

"I am an officer of the government." 

"Your name is ?" 


Enjolras made a sign to the four men. In a twinkling, before Javert 
had had time to turn around, he was collared, thrown down, bound, 

They found upon him a little round card framed between two 
glasses, and bearing on one side the arms of France, engraved with this 
legend : Surveillance et vigildnce, and on the other side this endorse- 

Saint Denis 43T 

ment: SayeilT, inspector of police, aged fifty-two, and the signature 
of the prefect of police of the time, M. Gisquet. 

He had besides his watch and his purse, which contained a few 
gold pieces. They left him his purse and his watch. Under the 
watch, at the bottom of his fob, they felt and seized a paper in an 
envelope, which Enjolras opened, and on which he read these six lines, 
written by the prefect's own hand. 

"As soon as his political mission is fulfilled, 
Inspector Javert will ascertain, by a special ex- 
amination, whether it be true that male- 
factors have resorts on the slope of the 
right bank of the .Seine, near the bridge of 

The search finished, they raised Javert, tied his arms behind his 
back, and fastened him in the middle of the basement-room to that 
celebrated post which had formerly given its name to the wine-shop. 

Gavroche, who had witnessed the whole scene and approved the 
whole by silent nods of his head, approached Javert and said to him : 

"The mouse has caught the cat." 

All this was executed so rapidly that it was finished as soon as it 
was perceived about the wine-shop. Javert had not uttered a cry. 
Seeing Javert tied to the post, Courfeyrac, Bossuet, Joly, Combeferro, 
and the men scattered about the two barricades, ran in. 

Javert, backed up against the post, and so surrounded with ropes 
that he could make no movement, held up his head with the intrepid 
serenity of the man who has never lied. 

"It is a spy," said Enjolras. 

And turning towards Javert : 

"You will be shot ten minutes before the barricade is taken." 

Javert replied in his most imperious tone: 

"Why not immediately ?" 

"We are economising powder." 

"Then do it with a knife." 

"Spy," said the handsome Enjolras, "we are judges, not assassins." 

Then he called Gavroche. 

^38 Les Miserables 

"You ! go about your business ! Do what I told you." 

"I am going," cried Gavroche. 

And stopping just as lie was starting: 

"By the way, you will give me his musket!" And he added: "I 
leave you the musician, but I want the clarionet." 

The gamin made a military salute, and sprang gaily through the 
opening in the large barricade. 


The tragic picture which we have commenced would not be complete, 
the reader would not see in their exact and real relief these grand 
moments of social parturition and of revolutionary birth in which 
there is convulsion mingled with effort, were we to omit, in the out- 
line here sketched, an incident full of epic and savage horror which 
occurred almost immediately after Gavroche's departure. 

Mobs, as we know, are like snowballs, and gather a heap of 
tumultuous men as they roll. These men do not ask one another 
whence they come. Among the passers who had joined themselves to 
the company led by Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac, there was 
a person wearing a porter's waistcoat worn out at the shoulders, who 
gesticulated and vociferated and had the appearance of a sort of savage 
drunkard. This man, who was named or nicknamed Le Cabuc, and 
who was moreover entirely unknown to those who attempted to recognise 
him, very drunk, or feigning to be, was seated with a few others at 
a table which they had brought outside of the wine-shop. This Cabuc, 
while inciting those to drink who were with him, seemed to gaze with 
an air of reflection upon the large house at the back of the barricade, 
the ^ve stories of which overlooked the whole street and faced towards 
the Rue Saint Denis. Suddenly he exclaimed : 

"Comrades, do you know? it is from that house that we must fire. 
If we are at the windows, devil a one can come into the street." 

"Yes, but the house is shut up," said one of the drinkers. 


"They won't open.'' 

"Stave the door in!" 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

Le Cabuc runs to the door, which had a very massive knocker, and 
raps. The door does not open. He raps a second time. Nobody 
answers. A third rap. The same silence. 

"Is there anybody here ?" cries Le Cabuc. 

!N"othing stirs. 

Then he seizes a musket and begins to beat the door with the butt. 
It was an old alley door, arched, low, narrow, solid, entirely of oak, 
lined on the inside with sheet-iron and with iron braces, a genuine 
postern of a bastille. The blows made the house tre^^ble, but did 
not shake the door. 

IN'evertheless it is probable that the inhabitants were alarmed, for 
they finally saw a little square window on the third story light up and 
open, and there appeared at this window a candle, and the pfous and 
frightened face of a grey-haired goodman who was the porter. 

The man who was knocking, stopped. 

"Messieurs," asked the porter, "what do you wish ?" 

"Open !" said Le Cabuc. 

"Messieurs, that cannot be." 

"Open, I tell you !" 

"Impossible, messieurs !" 

Le. Cabuc took his musket and aimed at the porter's head, but 
as he was below, and it was very dark, the porter did not see him. 

"Yes, or no, will you open?" 

"No, messieurs!" 

"You say no ?" 

"I say no, my good — " 

The porter did not finish. The musket went off; the ball entered 
under his chin and passed out at the back of the neck, passing through 
the jugular. The old man sank down without a sigh. The candle 
fell and was extinguished, and nothing could now be seen but an im- 
movable head lying on the edge of the window, and a little whitish 
smoke floating towards the roof. 

"That's it !" said Le Cabuc, letting the butt of his musket drop on 
the pavement. 

Hardly had he uttered these words when he felt a hand pounce upon 
his shoulder with the weight of an eagle's talons, and heard a voice 
which said to him: 

440 Les Miserables 

"On your knees." 

The murderer turned and saw before him the white cold face of 
Enjolras. Enjolras had a pistol in his hand. 

At the explosion, he had come up. 

He had grasped with his left hand Le Cabuc's collar, blouse, shirt, 
and suspenders. 

"On your knees," repeated he. 

And with a majestic movement the slender young man of twenty 
bent the broad-shouldered and robust porter like a reed and made him 
kneel in the mud. Le Cabuc tried to resist, but he seemed to have been 
seized by a superhuman grasp. 

Pale, his neck bare, his hair flying, Enjolras, with his woman's face, 
had at that moment an inexpressible something of the ancient Themis. 
His distended nostrils, his downcast eyes, gave to his implacable 
Greek profile that expression of wrath and that expression of chastity 
which from the point of view of the ancient world belonged to justice. 

The whole barricade ran up, then all ranged in a circle at a dis- 
tance, feeling that it was impossible to utter a word in presence of the 
act which, they were about to witness. 

Le Cabuc, vanquished, no longer attempted to defend himself, but 
trembled in every limb. Enjolras let go of him and took out his 

"Collect your thoughts," said he. "Pray or think. You have one 

"Pardon!" murmured the murderer, then he bowed his head and 
mumbled some inarticulate oaths. 

Enjolras did not take his eyes off his watch ; he let the minute pass, 
then he put his watch back into his fob. This done, he took Le Cabuc, 
who was writhing against his knees and howling, by the hair, and 
placed the muzzle of his pistol at his ear. Many of those intrepid 
men, who had so tranquilly entered upon the most terrible of enter- 
prises, turned away their heads. 

They heard the explosion, the assassin fell face forward on the 
pavement, and Enjolras straightened up and cast about him his look 
determined and severe. 

Then he pushed the body away with his foot, and said : 

"Throw that outside*" 

Saint Denis ^41 

Three men lifted the body of the wretch, which was quivering with 
the last mechanical convulsions of the life that had flown, and threw 
it over the small barricade into the little Rue Mondetour. 

Enjolras had remained thoughtful. Shadow, mysterious and grand, 
was slowly spreading over his fearful serenity. He suddenly raised 
his voice. There was a silence. 

"Citizens,'* said Enjolras, ^Vhat that man did is horrible, and what 
I have done is terrible. He killed, that is why I killed him. I was 
forced to do it, for the insurrection must have its discipline. Assassi- 
nation is a still greater crime here than elsewhere; we are under the 
eye of the revolution, we are the priests of the republic, we are the 
sacramental host of duty, and none must be able to calumniate our 
combat. I therefore judged and condemned that man to death. As 
for myself, compelled to do what I have done, but abhorring it, I have 
judged myself also, and you shall soon see to what I have sentenced 

Those who heard shuddered. 

"We will share your fate," cried Combeferre. 

"So be it," added Enjolras. "A word more. In executing that 
man, I obeyed necessity ; but necessity is a monster of the old world, the 
name of necessity is Fatality. Now the law of progress is, that mon- 
sters disappear before angels, and that Fatality vanish before Fra- 
ternity. This is not a moment to pronounce the word love. No 
matter, I pronounce it, and I glorify it. Love, thine is the future. 
Death, I use thee, but I hate thee. Citizens, there shall be in the 
future neither darkness nor thunderbolts; neither ferocious ignorance 
nor blood for blood. As Satan shall be no more, so Michael shall be 
no more. In the future no man shall slay his fellow, the earth shall 
be radiant, the human race shall love. It will come, citizens, that 
day when all shall be concord, harmony, light, joy, and life; it will 
come, and it is that it may come that we are going to die." 

Enjolras was silent. His virgin lips closed; and he remained 
some time standing on the spot where he had spilled blood, in marble 
immobility. His fixed eye made all about him speak low. 

Jean Prouvaire and Combeferre silently grasped hands, and, lean- 
ing upon one another in the corner of the barricade, considered, with 
an admiration not unmingled with compassion, this severe young man, 

4:42 Les Miserables 

executioner and priest, luminous like the crystal, and rock also. 

Let us say right here that later, after the action, when the corpses 
were carried to the Morgue and searched, there was a police officer's 
card found on Le Cabuc. The author of this book had in his own 
hands, in 1848, the special report made on that subject to the prefect 
of police in 1832. 

Let us add that, if we are to believe a police tradition, strange, 
but probably well founded, Le Cabuc was Claquesous. The fact is, 
that after the death of Le Cabuc, nothing more was heard of Claquesous. 
Claquesous left no trace on his disappearance, he would seem to have 
been amalgamated with the invisible. His life had been darkness, his 
end was night. 

The whole insurgent group were still under the emotion of this 
tragic trial, so quickly instituted and so quickly terminated, when 
Courfeyrac again saw in the barricade the small young man who in 
the morning had called at his house for Marius. 

This boy, who had a bold and reckless air, had come at night to 
rejoin the insurgents. 


THE flag: first act 

!N'oTHiNG came yet. The clock of Saint Merry had struck ten. En- 
jolras and Combeferre had sat down, carbine in hand, near the open- 
ing of the great barricade. They were not talking, they were listening ; 
seeking to catch even the faintest and most distant sound of a march. 

Suddenly, in the midst of this dismal calm, a clear, young, cheerful 
voice, which seemed to come from the Rue Saint Denis, arose and 
began to sing distinctly to the old popular air, Au clair de la lune, these 
lines which ended in a sort of cry similar to the crow of a cock : 

Mon nez est en larmes, 
Hon ami Bugeaud, 
Pret-moi tes gendarmes 
Four leur dire un mot. 

Saint Denis ^^ 

En capote bleue, 
La poule au shako, 
Voici la banlieue! 
Co-cocorico ! ^ 

They grasped each other by the hand: 

"It is Gavroche," said Enjolras. 

"He is warning us," said Combeferre. 

A headlong run startled the empty street; they saw a creature 
nimbler than a clown climb over the omnibus, and Gavroche bounded 
into the barricade all breathless, saying: 

"My musket ! Here they are." 

An electric thrill ran through the whole barricade, and a moving 
of hands was heard, feeling for their muskets. 

"Do you want my carbine ?" said Enjolras to the gamin, 

"I want the big musket," answered Gavroche. 

And he took Javert's musket. 

Two sentinels had been driven back, and had come in almost at 
the same time as Gavroche. They were the sentinel from the end of 
the street, and the vidette from la Petite Truanderie. The vidette 
in the little Rue des Precheurs remained at his post, which indicated 
that nothing was coming from the direction of the bridges and the 

The Rue de la Chanvrerie, in which a few paving-stones were dimly 
visible by the reflection of the light which was thrown upon the flag, 
offered to the insurgents the appearance of a great black porch opening 
into a cloud of smoke. 

Every man had taken his post for the combat. 

Suddenly, from the depth of that shadow, a voice, so much the more 
ominous, because nobody could be seen, and because it seemed as if 
it were the obscurity itself which was speaking, cried : 

"Who is there ?" 

^ My nose is in tears, 
My good friend Bugeaud, 
Just lend me your spears 
To tell them my woe. 
In blue cassimere, 
And feathered shako. 
The banlieue is here! 
Co-cocorico ! 

^44 Les Miserables 

At the same time thej heard the click of the levelled muskets. 

Enjolras answered in a lofty and ringing tone : 

"French Eevolution!'' 

"Fire !" said the voice. 

A flash empurpled all the facades on the street, as if the door of 
a furnace were opened and suddenly closed. 

A fearful explosion burst over the barricade. The red flag fell. 
The volley had been so heavy and so dense that it had cut the staff, 
that is to say, the very point of the pole of the omnibus. Some balls, 
which ricocheted from the cornices of the houses, entered the barricade 
and wounded several men. 

The impression produced by this first charge was freezing. The 
attack was impetuous, and such as to make the boldest ponder. It 
was evident that they had to do with a whole regiment at least. 

"Comrades," cried Courfeyrac, "don't waste the powder. Let us 
wait to reply till they come into the street." 

"Aud, first of all," said Enjolras, "let us hoist the flag again !" 

He picked up the flag which had fallen just at his feet. 

They heard from without the rattling of the ramrods in the muskets : 
the troops were reloading. 

Enjolras continued: 

"Who is there here who has courage? who replants the flag on the 
barricade ?" 

ISTobody answered. To mount the barricade at the moment when 
without doubt it was aimed at anew, was simply death. The bravest 
hesitates to sentence himself, Enjolras himself felt a shudder. He 
repeated : 

"J^obody volunteers !" 


Since they had arrived at Corinth and had commenced building the 
barricade, hardly any attention had been paid to Father Mabeuf. M. 
Mabeuf, however, had not left the company. He had entered the 
ground floor of the wine-shop and sat down behind the counter. There 
he had been, so to speak, annihilated in himself. When everybody 

Saint Denis 44^ 

had gone to take his place for the combat, there remained in the base- 
ment room only Javert tied to the post, an insurgent with drawn sabre 
watching Javert, and he, Mabeuf. At the moment of the attack, at 
the discharge, the physical shock reached him, and, as it were, 
awakened him ; he rose suddenly, crossed the room, and at the instant 
when Enjolras repeated his appeal: "Nobody volunteers?" they saw 
the old man appear in the doorway of the wine-shop. 

His presence produced some commotion in the group. A cry arose : 

"It is the Voter! it is the Conventionist ! it is the Representative 
of the people !" 

It is probable that he did not hear. 

He walked straight to Enjolras, the insurgents fell back before him 
with a religious awe, he snatched the flag from Enjolras, who drew back 
petrified, and then, nobody daring to stop him, or to aid him, this old 
man of eighty, with shaking head but firm foot, began to climb slowly 
up the stairway of paving-stones built into the barricade. It was so 
gloomy and so grand that all about him cried: "Hats off!" At each 
step it was frightful; his white hair, his decrepit face, his large fore- 
head bald and wrinkled, his hollow eyes, his quivering and open mouth, 
his old arm raising the red banner, surged up out of the shadow and 
grew grand in the bloody light of the torch, and they seemed to see 
the ghost of '93 rising out of the earth, the flag of terror in its hand. 

When he was on the top of the last step, when this trembling and 
terrible phantom, standing upon that mound of rubbish before twelve 
hundred invisible muskets, rose up, in the face of death and as if he 
were stronger than it, the whole barricade had in the darkness a super- 
natural and colossal appearance. 

There was one of those silences which occur only in presence of 

In the midst of this silence the old man waved the red flag and cried : 

*'Yive la revolution! vive la repuhlique! fraternity! equality! and 

They heard from the barricade a low and rapid muttering like 
the murmur of a hurried priest dispatching a prayer. It was probably 
the commissary of police who was making the legal summons at the 
other end of the street. 

4^6 Les Miserables 

Then the same ringing voice which had cried: "Whb is there?" 

"Disperse !" 

M. Mabeuf, pallid, haggard, his eyes illumined by the mournful 
fires of insanity, raised the flag above his head and repeated : 

''Vive la republique T' 

"Fire!" said the voice. 

A second discharge, like a shower of grape, beat against the barricade. 

The old man fell upon his knees, then rose up, let the flag drop, and 
fell backwards upon the pavement within, like a log, at full length 
with his arms crossed. 

Streams of blood ran from beneath him. His old face, pale and 
sad, seemed to behold the sky. 

One of those emotions superior to man, which make us forget even 
to defend ourselves, seized the insurgents, and they approached the 
corpse with a respectful dismay. 

"What men these regicides are !" said Enjolras. 

Courfeyrac bent over to Enjolras' ear. 

"This is only for you, and I don't wish to diminish the enthusiasm. 
But he was anything but a regicide. I knew him. His name was 
Father Mabeuf. I don't know what ailed him to-day. But he was a 
brave blockhead. Just look at his head." 

"Blockhead and Brutus heart," answered Enjolras. 

Then he raised his voice: 

"Citizens! This is the example which the old give to the young. 
We hesitated, he came ! we fell back, he advanced ! Behold what those 
who tremble with old age teach those who tremble with fear! This 
patriarch is august in the sight of the country. He has had a long 
life and a magnificent death ! Now let us protect his corpse, let every 
one defend this old man dead as he would defend his father living, 
and let his presence among us make the barricade impregnable!" 

A murmur of gloomy and determined adhesion followed these words. 

Enjolras stooped down, raised the old man's head, and timidly 
kissed him on the forehead, then separating his arms, and handling 
the dead with a tender care, as if he feared to hurt him, he took off 
his coat, showed the bleeding holes to all, and said i 

"There now is our flag.'' 

Saint Denis 44Y 


They threw a long black shawl belonging to the widow Hucheloup 
over Father Mabeuf. Six men made a barrow of their muskets, they 
laid the corpse upon it, and they bore it, bare-headed, with a solemn 
slowness, to the large table in the basement room. 

These men, completely absorbed in the grave and sacred thing 
which they were doing, no longer thought of the perilous situation in 
which they were. 

When the corpse passed near Javert, who was still impassible, 
Enjolras said to the spy: 

"You! directly." 

During this time little Gavroche, who alone had not left his post 
and had remained on the watch, thought he saw some men approaching 
the barricade with a stealthy step. Suddenly he cried : 

"Take care!" 

Courfeyrac, Enjolras, Jean Prouvaire, Combeferre, Joly, Bahorel, 
Bossuet, all sprang tumultuously from the wine-shop. There was 
hardly a moment to spare. They perceived a sparkling breadth of 
bayonets undulating above the barricade. Municipal Guards of tall 
stature were penetrating, some by climbing over the omnibus, others 
by the opening, pushing before them the gamin, who fell back, but 
did not fly. 

The moment was critical. It was that first fearful instant of the 
inundation, when the stream rises to the level of the bank and when 
the water begins to infiltrate through the fissures in the dyke. A 
second more, and the barricade had been taken. 

Bahorel sprang upon the first Municipal Guard who entered, and 
killed him at the very muzzle of his carbine ; the second killed Bahorel 
with his bayonet. Another had already prostrated Courfeyrac, who 
was crying "Help !" The largest of all, a kind of colossus, marched 
upon Gavroche with fixed bayonet. The gamin took Javert's enor- 
mous musket in his little arms, aimed it resolutely at the giant, and 
pulled the trigger. Nothing went off. Javert had not loaded his 
musket. The Municipal Guard burst into a laugh and raised his 
bayonet over the child. 

4^S Les Miserables 

Before the bayonet touched Gavroche the musket dropped from 
the soldier's hands, a ball had struck the Municipal Guard in the middle 
of the forehead, and he fell on his back. A second ball struck the 
other Guard, who had assailed Courfeyrac, full in the breast, and 
threw him upon the pavement. 

It was Marius who had just entered the barricade. 


Marius, still hidden in the corner of the Eue Mondetour, had watched 
the first phase of the combat, irresolute and shuddering. However, 
he was not able long to resist that mysterious and sovereign infatua- 
tion which we may call the appeal of the abyss. Before the imminence 
of the danger, before the death of M. Mabeuf, that fatal enigma, be- 
fore Bahorel slain, Courfeyrac crying "Help!" that child threatened, 
his friends to succour or to avenge, all hesitation had vanished, and 
he had rushed into the conflict, his two pistols in his hands. By the 
first shot he had saved Gavroche, and by the second delivered Courfey- 
rac. . 

At the shots, at the cries of the wounded Guards, the assailants had 
scaled the intrenchment, upon the summit of which could now be seen 
thronging Municipal guards, soldiers of the Line, !N"ational Guards of 
the banlieue, musket in hand. They already covered more than two- 
thirds of the wall, but they did not leap into the inclosure ; they seemed 
to hesitate, fearing some snare. They looked into the obscure barri- 
cade as one would look into a den of lions. The light of the torch 
only lighted up their bayonets, their bearskin caps, and the upper part 
of their anxious and angry faces. 

Marius had now no arms, he had thrown away his discharged pis- 
tols, but he had noticed the keg of powder in the basement room near 
the door. 

As he turned half round, looking in that direction, a soldier aimed 
at him. At the moment the soldier aimed at Marius, a hand was laid 
upon the muzzle of the musket, and stopped it. It was somebody 
who had sprung forward, the young working-man with velvet panta- 
loons. The shot went off, passed through the hand, and perhaps also 
through the working-man, for he fell, but the ball did not reach Marius. 

Saint Denis 449 

All this in the smoke, rather guessed than seen. Marius, who was 
entering the basement room, hardly noticed it. Still he had caught a 
dim glimpse of that musket directed at him, and that hand which had 
stopped it, and he had heard the shot. But in moments like that the 
things which we see, waver and rush headlong, and we stop for nothing. 
We feel ourselves vaguely pushed towards still deeper shadow, and all 
is cloud. 

The insurgents, surprised, but not dismayed, had rallied. Enjolras 
had cried: ''Wait! don't fire at random!" In the first confusion, in 
fact, they might hit one another. Most of them had gone up to the 
window of the second story and to the dormer windows, whence they 
commanded the assailants. The most determined, with Enjolras, 
Courfeyrac, Jean Prouvaire, and Combeferre, had haughtily placed 
their backs to the houses in the rear, openly facing the ranks of 
soldiers and guards which crowded the barricade. 

All this was accomplished without precipitation, with that strange 
and threatening gravity which precedes melees. On both sides they 
were taking aim, the muzzles of the guns almost touching; they were 
so near that they could talk with each other in an ordinary tone. Just 
as the spark was about to fly, an officer in a gorget and with huge 
epaulets, extended his sword and said: 

"Take aim!" 

"Fire !" said Enjolras. 

The two explosions were simultaneous, and everything disappeared 
in the smoke. 

A stinging and stifling smoke amid which writhed, with dull and 
feeble groans, the wounded and the dying. 

When the smoke cleared away, on both sides the combatants were 
seen, thinned out, but still in the same places, and reloading their 
pieces in silence. 

Suddenly, a thundering voice was heard, crying : 

''Begone, or I'll blow up the barricade !" 

All turned in the direction whence the voice came. 

Marius had entered the basement room, and had taken the keg of 
powder, then he had profited by the smoke and the kind of obscure 
fog which filled the intrenched inclosure, to glide along the barricade 
as far as that cage of paving-stones in which the torch was fixed. To 

450 Les Miserables 

pull out the torch, to put the keg of powder in its place, to push the 
pile of paving-stones upon the keg, which stove it in, with a sort of 
terrible self-control — all this had been for Marius the work of stoop- 
ing down and rising up; and now all, National Guards, Municipal 
Guards, officers, soldiers, grouped at the other extremity of the barri- 
cade, beheld him with horror, his foot upon the stones, the torch in 
his hand, his stern face lighted by a deadly resolution, bending the 
flame of the torch towards that formidable pile in which they dis- 
cerned the broken barrel of powder, and uttering that terrific cry : 

"Begone, or I'll blow up the barricade!" 

Marius upon this barricade, after the octogenarian, was the vision 
of the young revolution after the apparition of the old. 

"Blow up the barricade !" said a sergeant, "and yourself also !" 

Marius answered: 

"And myself also." 

And he approached the torch to the keg of powder. 

But there was no longer anybody on the wall. The assailants, 
leaving their dead and wounded, fled pell-mell and in disorder towards 
the extremity of the street, and were again lost in the night. It was 
a rout. 

The barricade was redeemed. 


All flocked round Marius. Courfeyrac sprang to his neck. 

"You here !" 

"How fortunate !" said Combeferre. 

"You came in good time !" said Bossuet. 

"Without you I should have been dead!" continued Courfeyrac. 

"Without you I'd been gobbled !" added Gavroche. 

Marius inquired: 

"Where is the chief?" 

"You are the chief," said Enjolras. 

Marius had all day had a furnace in his brain, now it was a whirl- 
wind. This whirlwind which was within him, affected him as if it 
were without, and were sweeping him along. It seemed to him that 
he was already at an immense distance from life. His two luminous 

Saint Denis 4:^1 

months of joy and of love, terminating abruptly upon this frightful 
precipice, Cosette lost to him, this barricade, M. Mabeuf dying for 
the republic, himself a chief of insurgents, all these things appeared 
a monstrous nightmare. He was obliged to make a mental effort to 
assure himself that all this which surrounded him was real. Marius 
had lived too little as yet to know that nothing is more imminent than 
the impossible, and that what we must always foresee is the unforeseen. 
He was a spectator of his own drama, as of a play which one does 
not comprehend. 

In this mist in which his mind was struggling, he did not recognise 
Javert, who, bound to his post, had not moved his head during the 
attack upon the barricade, and who had beheld the revolt going on 
about him with the resignation of a martyr and the mastery of a 
judge. Marius did not even perceive him. 

Meanwhile the assailants made no movement, they were heard 
marching and swarming at the end of the street, but they did not 
venture forward, either that they were awaiting orders, or that before 
rushing anew upon that impregnable redoubt, they were await- 
ing reinforcements. The insurgents had posted sentinels, and 
some who were students in medicine had set about dressing the 

They had thrown the tables out of the wine-shop, with the ex- 
ception of two reserved for lint and cartridges, and that on which lay 
Father Mabeuf; they added them to the barricade, and had replaced 
them in the basement room by the mattresses from the beds of widow 
Hucheloup, and the servants. Upon these mattresses they had laid 
the wounded; as for the three poor creatures who lived in Corinth, 
nobody knew what had become of them. They found them at last, 
however, hidden in the cellar. 

A bitter emotion came to darken their joy over the redeemed 

They called the roll. One of the insurgents was missing. And 
who ? One of the dearest. One of the most valiant, Jean Prouvaire. 
They sought him among the wounded, he was not there. They 
sought him among the dead, he was not there. He was evidently a 

Combeferre said to Enjolras: 

^^2 Les Miserables 

"They have our friend; we have their officer. Have you set your 
heart on the death of this spy?" 

"Yes," said Enjolras; "but less than on the life of Jean Prouvaire." 

This passed in the basement room near Javert's post. 

"Well," replied Combeferre, "I am going to tie my handkerchief 
to my cane, and go with a flag of truce to offer to give them their 
man for ours." 

"Listen," said Enjolras, laying his hand on Combeferre's arm. 

There was a significant clinking of arms at the end of the street. 

They heard a manly voice cry: 

''Vive la France! Vive Vavenirf' 

They recognised Prouvaire's voice. 

There was a flash and an explosion. 

Silence reigned again. 

"They have killed him," exclaimed Combeferre. 

Enjolras looked at Javert and said to him: 

"Your friends have just shot you." 


A PECULIARITY of this kind of war is that the attack on the barri- 
cades is almost always made in front, and that in general the assailants 
abstain from turning the positions, whether it be that they dread 
ambuscades, or that they fear to become entangled in the crooked 
streets. The whole attention of the insurgents therefore was directed 
to the great barricade, which was evidently the point still threatened, 
and where the struggle must infallibly recommence. Marius, how- 
ever, thought of the little barricade and went to it. It was deserted, 
and was guarded only by the lamp which flickered between the stones. 
The little Kue Mondetour, moreover, and the branch streets de la Petite 
Truanderie and du Cygne, were perfectly quiet. 

As Marius, the inspection made, was retiring, he heard his name 
faintly pronounced in the obscurity: 

"Monsieur Marius!" 

He shuddered, for he recognised the voice which had called him 
two hours before, through the grating in the Rue Plumet. 

Only this voice now seemed to be but a breath. 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

He looked about him and saw nobody. 

Marius thought he was deceived, and that it was an illusion added 
bj his mind to the extraordinary realities which were thronging about 
him. He started to leave the retired recess in which the barricade 
was situated. 

"Monsieur Marius !" repeated the voice. 

This time he could not doubt, he had heard distinctly; he looked, 
and saw nothing. 

"At your feet," said the voice. 

He stooped and saw a form in the shadow, which was dragging it- 
self towards him. It was crawling along the pavement. It was this 
that had spoken to him. 

The lamp enabled him to distinguish a blouse, a pair of torn panta- 
loons of course velvet, bare feet, and something which resembled a pool 
of blood. Marius caught a glimpse of a pale face which rose towards 
him and said to him : 

"You do not know me V^ 



Marius bent down quickly. It was indeed that unhappy child. 
She was dressed as a man. 

"How came you here ? what are you doing there ?" 

"I am dying," said she. 

There are words and incidents which rouse beings who are crushed. 
Marius exclaimed, with a start: 

"You are wounded ! Wait, I will carry you into the room ! They 
will dress your wounds ! Is it serious ? how shall I take you up so as 
not to hurt you ? Where are you hurt ? Help ! my God ! But what 
did you come here for ?" 

And he tried to pass his arm under her to lift her. 

In lifting her he touched her hand. 

She uttered a feeble cry. 

"Have I hurt you ?" asked Marius. 

"A little." 

"But I have only touched your hand." 

She raised her hand into Marius' sight, and Marius saw in the 
centre of that hand a black hole. 

4^4: Les Miserables 

"What is the matter with your hand ?" said he. 

"It is pierced." 



"By what?" 

"By a hall." 


"Did you see a musket aimed at you ?" 

"Yes, and a hand which stopped it." 

"That was mine." 

Marius shuddered. 

"What madness! Poor child! But that is not so had, if that is 
all, it is nothing, let me carry you to a hed. They will care for you, 
people don't die from a shot in the hand." 

She murmured : 

"The ball passed through my hand, but it went out through my 
back. It is useless to take me from here. I will tell you how you 
can care for me, better than a surgeon. Sit down by me on that stone." 

He obeyed; she laid her head on Marius' knees, and without look- 
ing at him, she said: 

"Oh ! how good it is ! How kind he is ! That is it ! I don't suffer 
any more !" 

She remained a moment in silence, then she turned her head with 
effort and looked at Marius. 

"Do you know. Monsieur Marius? It worried me that you should 
go into that garden, it was silly, since it was I who had shown you the 
house, and then indeed I ought surely to have known that a young man 
like you — " 

She stopped, and, leaping over the gloomy transitions which were 
doubtless in her mind, she added with a heartrending smile : 

"You thought me ugly, didn't you ?" 

She continued: 

"See, you are lost ! Nobody will get out of the barricade, now. It 
was I who led you into this, it was ! You are going to die, I am sure. 
And still when I saw him aiming at you, I put up my hand upon the 
muzzle of the musket. How droll it is ! But it was because I wanted 
to die before you. When I got this ball, I dragged myself here, no- 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

body saw me, nobody picked me up. I waited for you, I said: He 
will not come then ? Oh ! if you knew, I bit my blouse, I suffered so 
much! ISTow I am well. Do you remember the day when I came 
into your room, and when I looked at myself in your mirror. 

She had a wandering, grave, and touching air. Her torn blouse 
showed her bare throat. While she was talking she rested her wounded 
hand upon her breast where there was another hole, from which there 
came with each pulsation a flow of blood like a jet of wine from an 
open bung. 

Marius gazed upon this unfortunate creature with profound com- 

*'0h!'' she exclaimed suddenly, "it is coming back. I am stifling!" 

She seized her blouse and bit it, and her legs writhed upon the pave- 

At this moment the chicken voice of little Gavroche resounded 
through the barricade. The child had mounted upon a table to load 
his musket and was gaily singing the song then so popular: 

En voyant Lafayette 
Le gendarme repete 
Sativons-nous ! sauvons-nous ! sauvons-nous ! 

Eponine raised herself up, and listened, then she murmured: 

"It is he." 

And turning towards Marius: 

"My brother is here. He must not see me. He would scold me." 

"Your brother ?" asked Marius, who thought in the bitterest and 
most sorrowful 'depths of his heart, of the duties which his father had 
bequeathed him towards the Thenardiers, "who is your brother ?" 

"That little boy." 

"The one who is singing?" 


Marius started. 

"Oh! don't go away!" said she, "it will not be long now!" 

She was sitting almost upright, but her voice was very low and 
broken by hiccoughs. At intervals the death-rattle interrupted her. 
She approached her face as near as she could to Marius' face. She 
added with a strange expression : 

^^6 Les Miserables 

"Listen, I don't want to deceive you. I have a letter in my pocket 
for you. Since yesterday. I was told to put it in the post. I kept 
it. I didn't want it to reach you. But you would not like it of me 
perhaps when we meet again so soon. We do meet again, don't we ? 
Take your letter." 

She grasped Marius' hand convulsively with her wounded hand, 
but she seemed no longer to feel the pain. She put Marius' hand into 
the pocket of her blouse. Marius really felt a paper there. 

"Take it," said she. 

Marius took the letter. 

She made a sign of satisfaction and of consent. 

"J^ow for my pains, promise me — " 

And she hesitated. 

"What?" asked Marius. 

"Promise me!" 

"I promise you." 

"Promise to kiss me on the forehead when I am dead. I shall feel 

She let her head fall back upon Marius' knees and her eyelids 
closed. He thought that poor soul had gone. Eponine lay motion- 
less; but just :when Marius supposed her for ever asleep, she slowly 
opened her eyes in which the gloomy deepness of death appeared, and 
said to him with an accent the sweetness of which already seemed to 
come from another world: 

"And then, do you know, Monsieur Marius, I believe I was a little 
in love with you." 

She essayed to smile again and expired. • 


Marius kept his promise. He kissed that livid forehead from which 
oozed an icy sweat. This was not infidelity to Cosette; it was a 
thoughtful and gentle farewell to an unhappy soul. 

He had not taken the letter which Eponine had given him without 
a thrill. He had felt at once the presence of an event. He was im- 
patient to read it. The heart of man is thus made; the unfortunate 
child had hardly closed her eyes when Marius thought to unfold this 

Saint Denis ^^'^ 

paper. He laid her gently upon the ground, and went away. Some- 
thing told him that he could not read that letter in sight of this corpse. 
He went to a candle in the basement-room. It was a little note, 
folded and sealed with the elegant care of woman. The address was 
in a woman's hand, and ran: 

"To Monsieur, Monsieur Marius Pontmercy, at M. Courfeyrac's, 
Eue de la Verrerie, No. 16.'' 

He broke the seal and read : 

"My beloved, alas! my father wishes to start immediately. We 
shall be to-night in the Eue de THomme Arme, No. 7. In a week we 
shall be in England. Cosette. June 4th." 

Such was the innocence of this love that Marius did not even know 
Cosette's handwriting. 

What happened may be told in a few words. Eponine had done 
it all. She had changed rags with the first young rogue who thought 
it amusing to dress as a woman while Eponine disguised herself as a 
man. It was she who, in the Champ de Mars, had given Jean Valjean 
the expressive warning: Remove, Jean Yaljean returned home, and 
said to Cosette: we start to-mgJit, and we are going to the Rue de 
VHomme Arme with Toussaint. Next week we shall he in London. 
Cosette, prostrated by this unexpected blow, had hastily written two 
lines to Marius. But how should she get the letter to the post ? She 
did not go out alone, and Toussaint, surprised at such an errand, 
would surely show the letter to M. Fauchelevent. In this anxiety, 
Cosette saw, through the grating, Eponine in men's clothes, who was 
now prowling continually about the garden. Cosette called "this young 
working-man" and handed him five francs and the letter, saying to 
him: "carry this letter to its address right away." Eponine put the 
letter in her pocket. The next day, June 5th, she went to Cour- 
feyrac's to ask for Marius, not to give him the letter, but, a thing 
which every jealous and loving soul will understand, "to see." There 
she waited for Marius, or, at least, for Courf eyrac — still to see. When 
Courf eyrac said to her : we are going to the barricades, an idea flashed 
across her mind. To throw herself into that death as she would have 
thrown herself into any other, and to push Marius into it. She 

458 Les Miserables 

followed Courfeyrac, made sure of the post where they were building 
the barricade; and very sure, since Marius had received no notice, 
and she had intercepted the letter, that he would at nightfall be at 
his usual evening rendezvous, she went to the Rue Plumet, waited there 
for Marius, and sent him, in the name of his friends, an appeal which 
must, she thought, lead him to the barricade. She counted upon 
Marius' despair when he should not find Cosette; she was not mis- 
taken. She returned herself to the Rue de la Chanvrerie. We have 
seen what she did there. She died with that tragic joy of jealous 
hearts which drag the being they love into death with them, saying: 
nobody shall have him! 

Marius covered Cosette's letter with kisses. She loved him then? 
He had for a moment the idea that now he need not die. Then he 
said to himself: "She is going away. Her father takes her to Eng- 
land, and my grandfather refuses to consent to the marriage. E^othing 
is changed in the fatality." Dreamers, like Marius, have these su- 
preme depressions, and paths hence are chosen in despair. The fatigue 
of life is insupportable; death is sooner over. Then he thought that 
there were two duties remaining for him to fulfil: to inform Cosette 
of his death and to send her a last farewell, and to save from the im- 
minent catastrophe which was approaching, this poor child, Eponine's 
brother and Thenardier's son. 

He had a pocket-book with him; the same that had contained the 
pages upon which he had written so many thoughts of love for Cosette. 
He tore out a leaf and wrote with a pencil these few lines : 

"Our marriage was impossible. I have asked my grandfather, he has 
refused; I am without fortune, and you also. I ran to your house, I did 
not find you, you know the promise that I gave you? I keep it, I die, I 
love you. When you read this, my soul will be near you, and will smile 
upon you.^' 

Having nothing to seal this letter with, he merely folded the paper, 
and wrote upon it this address : 

''To Mademoiselle Cosette Fauchelevent, at M. Fauchele vent's. Rue 
de V Homme Arme, No, 7/' 

The letter folded, he remained a moment in thought, took his 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

pocket-book again, opened it, and wrote these four lines on the first 
page with the same pencil; 

"My name is Marius Pontmercy. Carry my 
corpse to my grandfather's, M. Gillenormand, 
Eue des Filles du Calvaire, No. 6, in the 

He put the book into his coat-pocket, then he called Gavroche. The 
gamin, at the sound of Marius' voice, ran up with his joyous and 
devoted face: 

"Will you do something for me ?" 

"Anything," said Gavroche. "God of the good God! without you, 
I should have been cooked, sure." 

"You see this letter ?" 


"Take it. Go out of the barricade immediately (Gavroche, dis- 
turbed, began to scratch his ear), and to-morrow morning you will 
carry it to its address, to Mademoiselle Cosette, at M. Fauchelevent's, 
Rue de PHomme Arme 'No. 7." 

The heroic boy answered : 

"Ah, well, but in that time they'll take the barricade, and I shan't 
be here." 

"The barricade will not be attacked again before daybreak, according 
to all appearance, and will not be taken before to-morrow noon." 

The new respite which the assailants allowed the barricade was. In 
fact, prolonged. It was one of those intermissions, frequent in night 
combats, which are always followed by a redoubled fury. 

"Well," said Gavroche, "suppose I go and carry your letter in the 
morning ?" 

"It will be too late. The barricade will probably be blockaded; 
all the streets will be guarded, and you cannot get out. Go, right 
away !" 

Gavroche had nothing more to say; he stood there, undecided, and 
sadly scratching his ear. Suddenly, with one of his birdlike motions, 
he took the letter: 

"All right," said he. 

460 Les Miserables 

And he started off on a run by the little Rue Mondetour. 

Gavroche had an idea which decided him, but which he did not 
tell, for fear Marius would make some objection to it. 

That idea "was this: 

"It is hardly midnight, the Rue de THomme Arme is not far, I will 
carry the letter right away, and I shall get back in time." 



On the eve of that same day, June 5th, Jean Yaljean, accompanied 
by Cosette and Toussaint, the devoted domestic, had installed himself 
in the Rue de THomme Arme. A sudden turn of fortune awaited 
him there. 

Cosette had not left the Rue Plumet without an attempt at resist- 
ance. Eor the first time since they had lived together, Cosette's will 
and Jean Valjean's will had shown themselves distinct, and had been, 
if not conflicting, at least contradictory. There was no objection to 
one side and inflexibility on the other. The abrupt advice: remove, 
thrown to Jean Valjean by an unknown hand, had so far alarmed him 
as to render him absolute. He believed himself tracked out and pur- 
sued. Cosette had to yield. 

In this departure from the Rue Plumet, which was almost a flight, 
Jean Valjean carried nothing but the little embalmed valise christened 
by Cosette the inseparable, Eull trunks would have required porters, 
and porters are witnesses. They had a coach come to the door on the 
Rue Babylone, and they went away. 

It was with great difficulty that Toussaint obtained permission to 
pack up a little linen and clothing and a few toilet articles. Cosette 
herself carried only her writing-desk and her blotter. 

Jean Yaljean, to increase the solitude and mystery of this disappear- 
ance, had arranged so as not to leave the cottage on the Rue Plumet 
till the close of the day, which left Cosette time to write her notei to 
Marius. They arrived in the Rue de THomme Arme after nightfall. 

They went silently to bed. 

Saint Denis ^61 

The lodging in the Hue de rHomme Arme was situated in a rear 
court, on the second story, and consisted of two bedrooms, a dining- 
room, and a kitchen adjoining the dining-room, with a loft where there 
was a cot-bed which fell to Toussaint. The dining-room was at the 
same time the ante-chamber, and separated the two bedrooms. The 
apartments contained all necessary furniture. 

We are assured almost as foolishly as we are alarmed; human na- 
ture is so constituted. Hardly was Jean Valjean in the Kue de 
I'Homme Arme, before his anxiety grew less, and by degrees was dis- 
sipated. There are quieting spots which act in some sort mechanically 
upon the mind. Obscure street, peaceful inhabitants. Jean Valjean 
felt some strange contagion of tranquillity in that lane of the ancient 
Paris, so narrow that it was barred to carriages by a tranverse joist 
laid upon two posts, dumb and deaf in the midst of the noisy city, 
twilight in broad day, and, so to speak, incapable of emotions between 
its two rows of lofty, century-old houses which are silent like the 
patriarchs that they are. There is stagnant oblivion in this street. 
Jean Valjean breathed there. By what means could anybody find him 
there ? 

His first care was to place the inseparable by his side. 

He slept well. Night counsels; we may add: night calms. l!^ext 
morning he awoke almost cheerful. He thought the dining-room 
charming, although it was hideous, furnished with an old round table, 
a low sideboard surmounted by a hanging mirror, a worm-eaten arm- 
chair, and a few other chairs loaded down with Toussaint's bundles. 
Through an opening in one of these bundles, Jean Valjean's National 
Guard uniform could be seen. 

As for Cosette, she had Toussaint bring a bowl of soup to her room, 
and did not make her appearance till evening. 

About five o'clock, Toussaint, who was coming and going, very busy 
with this little removal, set a cold fowl on the dining-room table, which 
Cosette, out of deference to her father, consented to look at. 

This done, Cosette, upon pretext of a severe headache, said good 
night to Jean Valjean, and shut herself up in her bedroom. Jean Val- 
jean ate a chicken's wing with a good appetite, and, leaning on the 
tables, clearing his brow little by little, was regaining his sense of 

462 Les Miserables 

While he was making this frugal dinner, he became confusedly 
aware, on two or three occasions, of the stammering of Toussaint, who 
said to him: "Monsieur, there is a row; they are fighting in Paris." 
But, absorbed in a multitude of interior combinations, he paid no at- 
tention to it. To tell the truth, he had not heard. 

He arose, and began to walk from the window to the door, and from 
the door to the window, growing calmer and calmer. 

While yet walking up and down, with slow steps, his eye suddenly 
met something strange. 

He perceived facing him, in the inclined mirror which hung above 
the sideboard, and he distinctly read the lines which follow: 

"My beloved, alas ! my father wishes to start immediately. We 
shall be to-night in the Eue de I'Homme Arme, No. 7. In a week we 
shall be in England. Cosette. June 4th.'^ 

Jean Valjean stood aghast. 

Cosette, on arriving, had laid her blotter on the sideboard before the 
mirror, and, wholly absorbed in her sorrowful anguish, had forgotten 
it there, without even noticing that she left it wide open, and open ex- 
actly at the page upon which she had dried the lines written by 
her, and which she had given in charge to the young workman pass- 
ing through the Rue Plumet. The writing was imprinted upon the 

The mirror reflected the writing. 

There resulted what is called in geometry the symmetrical image; 
so that the writing reversed on the blotter was corrected by the mirror, 
and presented its original form; and Jean Valjean had beneath his 
eyes the letter written in the evening by Cosette to Marius. 

It was simple and withering. 

Jean Valjean went to the mirror. He read over the lines again, but 
he did not believe it. They produced upon him the effect of an ap- 
parition in a flash of lightning. It was hallucination. It was im- 
possible. It was not. 

Little by little his perception became more precise; he looked at 
Cosette's blotter, and the consciousness of the real fact returned to him. 
He took the blotter and said: "It comes from that." He feverishly 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

examined the fine lines imprinted on the blotter, the reversal of the 
letters made a fantastic scrawl of them, and he saw no sense in them. 
Then he said to himself: ^'But that does not mean anything, there 
is nothing written there." And he drew a long breath, with an in- 
expressible sense of relief. Who has not felt these silly joys in mo- 
ments of horror ? The soul does not give itself up to despair until it 
has exhausted all illusions. 

He held the blotter in his hand and gazed at it, stupidly happy, al- 
most laughing at the hallucination of which he had been the dupe. All 
at once his eyes fell upon the mirror, and he saw the vision again. 
This time it was not a mirage. The second sight of a vision is a real- 
ity, it was palpable, it was the writing restored by the mirror. He 

Jean Valjean tottered, let the blotter fall, and sank down into the 
old armchair by the sideboard, his head drooping, his eye glassy, be- 
wildered. He said to himself that it was clear, and that the light of 
the world was for ever eclipsed, and that Cosette had written that to 
somebody. Then he heard his soul, again become terrible, give a sul- 
len roar in the darkness. Go, then, and take from the lion the dog 
which he has in his cage. 

His instinct did not hesitate. He put together certain circum- 
stances, certain dates, certain blushes, and certain pallors of Cosette, 
and he said to himself: "It is he." The divination of despair is a 
sort of mysterious bow which never misses its aim. With his first 
conjecture, he hit Marius. He did not know the name, but he found 
the man at once. He perceived distinctly, at the bottom of the im- 
placable evocation of memory, the unknown prowler of the Luxem- 
bourg, that wretched seeker of amours, that romantic idler, that 
imbecile, that coward, for it is cowardice to come and make sweet eyes 
at girls who are beside their father who loves them. 

After he had fully determined that that young man was at the bot- 
tom of this state of affairs, and that it all came from him, he Jean 
Valjean, the regenerated man, the man who had laboured so much 
upon his soul, the man who had made so many efforts to resolve all 
life, all misery, and all misfortune into love; he looked within him- 
self, and there he saw a spectre, Hatred. 

464 Les Miserables 

While he was thinking, Toussaint entered. Jean Valjean arose, 
and asked her: 

"In what direction is it ? Do you know ?" 

Toussaint, astonished, could only answer: 

"If you please?'' 

Jean Valjean resumed: 

"Didn't you tell me just now that they were fighting ?" 

"Oh! yes, monsieur," answered Toussaint. "It is over by Saint 

There are some mechanical impulses which come to us, without our 
knowledge even, from our deepest thoughts. It was doubtless under 
the influence of an impulse of this kind, and of which he was hardly 
conscious, that Jean Valjean ^ve minutes afterwards found himself 
in the street. 

He was bare-headed, seated upon the stone block by the door of his 
house. He seemed to be listening. 

The night had come. 


How much time did he pass thus ? What were the ebbs and the flows 
of that tragic meditation? did he straighten up? could he remain 
bowed? had he been bent so far as to break? could he yet straighten 
himself, and regain a foothold in his conscience upon something solid ? 
He himself probably could not have told. 

The street was empty. A few anxious bourgeois, who were rapidly 
returning home, hardly perceived him. Every man for himself in 
times of peril. The lamplighter came as usual to light the lamp which 
hung exactly opposite the door of E'o. 7, and went away. Jean Val- 
jean, to one who had examined him in that shadow, would not have 
seemed a living man. There he was, seated upon the block by his door, 
immovable as a goblin of ice. There is congelation in despair. The 
tocsin was heard, and vague stormy sounds were heard. In the midst 
of all this conclusive clamour of the bell mingled with the emeute, the 
clock of St. Paul's struck eleven, gravely and without haste, for the 
tocsin is man ; the hour is God. The passing of the hour had no effect 
upon Jean Valjean; Jean Valjean did not stir. However, almost at 

Saint Denis ^^^ 

that very moment, there was a sharp explosion in the direction of the 
markets, a second followed, more violent still ; it was probable that at- 
tack on the barricade of the Eue de la Chanvrerie which we have just 
seen repulsed by Marius. At this double discharge, the fury of which 
seemed increased by the stupor of the night, Jean Valjean was startled ; 
he looked up in the direction whence the sound came; then he sank 
down upon the block, folded his arms, and his head dropped slowly 
upon his breast. 

He resumed his dark dialogue with himself. 

Suddenly he raised his eyes, somebody was walking in the street, 
he heard steps near him, he looked, and, by the light of the lamp, in 
the direction of the Archives, he perceived a livid face, young and 

Gavroche had just arrived in the Eue de THomme Arme. 

Gavroche was looking in the air, and appeared to be searching for 
something. He saw Jean Valjean perfectly, but he took no notice of 

Gavroche, after looking into the air, looked on the ground ; he raised 
himself on tiptoe and felt of the doors and windows of the ground 
floors; they were all closed, bolted, and chained. After having found 
five or six houses barricaded in this way, the gamin shrugged his shoul- 
ders, and took counsel with himself in these terms : 


Then he began to look into the air again. 

Jean Valjean, who, the instant before, in the state of mind in which 
he was, would not have spoken nor even replied to anybody, felt irre- 
sistibly impelled to address a word to this child. 

"Small boy," said he, "what is the matter with you ?" 

"The matter is that I am hungry," answered Gavroche tartly. And 
he added: "Small yourself." 

Jean Valjean felt in his pocket and took out a five-franc piece. 

"You are a fine fellow," said Gavroche. 

And he put the five-franc piece into one of his pockets. 

His confidence increasing, he added: 

"Do you belong in the street ?" 

"Yes; why?" 

"Could you show me number seven ?" 

466 Les Miserables 

"What do you want with number seven?" 

Here the boy stopped; he feared that he had said too much; he 
plunged his nails vigorously into his hair, and merely answered : 

"Ah! that's it.'' 

An idea flashed across Jean Valj can's mind. Anguish has such 
lucidities. He said to the child: 

"Have you brought the letter I am waiting for ?" 

"You ?" said Gavroche. "You are not a woman." 

"The letter is for Mademoiselle Cosette ; isn't it ?" 

"Cosette?" muttered Gavroche, "Yes, I believe it is that funny 

"Well," resumed Jean Yaljean, "I am to deliver the letter to her. 
Give it to me." 

"In that case you must know that I am sent from the barricade?" 

"Of course," said Jean Yaljean. 

Gavroche thrust his hand into another of his pockets, and drew 
out a folded paper. 

Then he gave a military salute. 

"Respect for the despatch," said he. "It comes from the pro- 
visional government." 

"Give it to me," said Jean Yaljean. 

Gavroche held the paper raised above his head. 

"Don't imagine that this is a love-letter. It for a woman, but it 
is for the people. We men, we are fighting and we respect the sex. 
We don't do as they do in high life, where there are lions who send 
love-letters to camels." 

"Give it to me." 

"The fact is," continued Gavroche, "you look to me like a fine 

"Give it to me quick." 

"Take it." 

And he handed the paper to Jean Yaljean. 

"And hurry yourself. Monsieur What's-your-name, for Mamselle 
What's-her-namess is waiting." 

Gavroche was proud of having produced this word. 

Jean Yaljean asked. 

"Is it to Saint Merry that the answer is to be sent ?" 

Saint Denis ^^'^ 

"In that case/' exclaimed Gavroche, "you would make one of those 
cakes vulgarly called blunders. That letter comes from the barricade 
in the Kue de la Chanvrerie, and I am going back there. Good night, 

This said, Gavroche went away, or rather, resumed his flight like 
an escaped bird towards the spot whence he came. He replunged 
into the obscurity as if he made a hole in it, with the rapidity and 
precision of a projectile; the little Eue de I'Homme Arme again be- 
came silent and solitary; in a twinkling, this strange child, who had 
within him shadow and dream, was buried in the dusk of those rows 
of black houses, and was lost therein like smoke in the darkness ; and 
one might have thought him dissipated and vanished, if, a few minutes 
after his disappearance, a loud crashing of glass and the splendid 
patatras of a lamp falling upon the pavement had not abruptly re- 
awakened the indignant bourgeois. It was Gavroche passing along the 
Eue du Chaume. 


Jean Valjean went in with Marius' letter. 

He groped his way upstairs, pleased with the darkness like an owl 
which holds his prey, opened and softly closed the door, listened to 
see if he heard any sound, decided that, according to all appearances, 
Cosette and Toussaint were asleep, plunged three or four matches 
into the bottle of the Fumade tinder-box before he could raise a spark, 
his hand trembled so much; there was theft in what he was about to 
do. At last, his candle was lighted, he leaned his elbows on the table, 
unfolded the paper, and read. 

In violent emotions, we do not read, we prostrate the paper which 
we hold, so to speak, we strangle it like a victim, we crush the paper, 
we bury the nails of our wrath or our delight in it; we run to the 
end, we leap to the beginning; the attention has a fever; it compre- 
hends by wholesale, almost, the essential: it seizes a point, and all 
the rest disappears. In Marius' note to Cosette, Jean Valjean saw 
only these words. 

" 1 die. When you read this, my soul will be near you." 

Before these two lines, he was horribly dazzled; he sat a moment 

468 Les Miserables 

as if cnished by the change of emotion which was wrought within him, 
he looked at Marius' note with a sort of drunken astonishment; he 
had before his eyes that splendour, the death of the hated being. 

He uttered a hideous cry of inward joy. So, it was finished. The 
end came sooner than he had dared to hope. The being who en- 
cumbered his destiny was disappearing. He was going away of him- 
self, freely, of his own accord. Without any intervention on his, 
Jean Val jean's part, without any fault of his, "that man" was about 
to die. Perhaps even he was already dead. — Here his fever began 
to calculate. — 'No. He is not dead yet. The letter was evidently 
written to be read by Cosette in the morning; since those two dis- 
charges which were heard between eleven o'clock and midnight, there 
has been nothing; the barricade will not be seriously attacked till 
daybreak; but it is all the same, for the moment "that man" meddled 
with this war, he was lost; he is caught in the net. Jean Valjean 
felt that he was delivered. He would then find himself once more 
alone with Cosette. Kivalry ceased; the future recommenced. He 
had oply to keep the note in his pocket. Cosette would never know 
what had become of "that man." "I have only to let things take their 
course. That man cannot escape. If he is not dead yet, it is certain 
that he will die. What happiness !" 

All this said within himself, he became gloomy. 

Then he went down and waked the porter. 

About an hour afterwards, Jean Yaljean went out in the full dress 
of a !N^ational Guard, and armed. The porter had easily found in 
the neighbourhood what was necessary to complete his equipment. He 
had a loaded musket and a cartridge-box full of cartridges. He went 
in the direction of the markets. 




The insurgents, under the eye of Enjolras, for Marius no longer 
looked to anything, turned the night to advantage. The barricade 
was not only repaired, but made larger. They raised it two feet. 
Iron bars planted in the paving stones resembled lances in rest. 
All sorts of rubbish added, and brought from all sides, increased the 
exterior intricacy. The redoubt was skilfully made over into a wall 
within and a thicket without. 

They rebuilt the stairway of paving-stones, which permitted ascent, 
as upon a citadel wall. 

They put the barricade in order, cleared up the basement room, took 
the kitchen for a hospital, completed the dressing of the wounds; 
gathered up the powder scattered over the floor and the tables, cast 
bullets, made cartridges, scraped lint, distributed the arms of the fallen, 
cleaned the interior of the redoubt, picked up the fragments, carried 
away the corpses. 

They deposited the dead in a heap in the little Rue Mondetour, of 
which they were still masters. The pavement was red for a long time 
at that spot. Among the dead were four National Guards of the 
banlieue. Enjolras had their uniforms laid aside. 

Enjolras advised two hours of sleep. Advice from Enjolras was 
an order. Still, three or four only profited by it. Feuilly employed 
these two hours in engraving this inscription on the wall which fronted 
the wine-shop: 


These three words, graven in the stone with a nail, were still legible 
on that wall in 1848. 

The three women took advantage of the night's respite to disappear 

finally, which made the insurgents breathe more freely. 

They found refuge in some neighbouring house. 


^'^2 Les Miserables 

Most of the wounded could and would still fight. There were, upon 
a straw mattress and some bunches of straw, in the kitchen now be- 
come a hospital, five men severely wounded, two of whom were Muni- 
cipal Guards. The wounds of the Municipal Guards were dressed 

Nothing now remained in the basement room but Mabeuf, under 
his black cloth, and Javert bound to the post. 

^'This is the dead-room," said Enjolras. 

In the interior of this room, feebly lighted by a candle, at the very 
end the funeral table being behind the post like a horizontal bar, a 
sort of large dim cross was produced by Javert standing, and Mabeuf 

The pole of the omnibus, although maimed by the musketry, was 
still high enough for them to hang a flag upon it. 

Enjolras, who had this quality of a chief, always to do as he said, 
fastened the pierced and bloody coat of the slain old man to this pole. 

About two o'clock in the morning, they took a count. There were 
left thirty-seven of them. 

Day was beginning to dawn. 


Enjolras had gone to make a reconnaissance. He went out by the 
little Rue Mondetour, creeping along by the houses. 

The insurgents, we must say, were full of hope. The manner in 
which they had repelled the attack during the night, had led them 
almost to contempt in advance for the attack at daybreak. They 
had no more doubt of their success than of their cause. Moreover, 
help was evidently about to come. They counted on it. With that 
facility for triumphant prophecy which is a part of the strength of 
the fighting Frenchmen, they divided into three distinct phases the 
day which was opening: at six o'clock in the morning a regiment, 
"which had been laboured with," would come over. At noon, in- 
surrection of all Paris ; at sundown, revolution. 

They heard the tocsin of Saint Merry, which had not been silent 
a moment since the evening; a proof that the other barricade, the 
great one, that of Jeanne, still held out. 

Jean Valjean ^'<^^ 

All these hopes were communicated from one to another in a sort 
of cheerful yet terrible whisper, which resembled the buzz of a hive 
of bees at war. 

Enjolras reappeared. He returned from his gloomy eagle's walk 
in the obscurity without. He listened for a moment to all this joy 
with folded arms, one hand over his mouth. Then, fresh and rosy in 
the growing whiteness of the morning, he said: 

"The whole army of Paris fights. A third of that army is pressing 
upon the barricade in which you are. Besides the National Guard, 
I distinguished the shakos of the Fifth of the line and the colours of 
the Sixth Legion. You will be attacked in an hour. As for the 
people, they were boiling yesterday, but this morning they do not stir. 
^Nothing to expect, nothing to hope. iNTo more from a Faubourg than 
from a regiment. You are abandoned." 

These words fell upon the buzzing of the groups, and wrought the 
effect which the first drops of the tempest produce upon the swarm. 
All were dumb. There was a moment of inexpressible silence, when 
you might have heard the flight of death. 

This moment was short. 

A voice, from the most obscure depths of the groups, cried to En- 
jolras : 

"So be it. Let us make the barricade twenty feet high, and let 
us all stand by it. Citizens, let us offer the protest of corpses. Let 
us show that, if the people abandon the republicans, the republicans 
do not abandon the people." 

These words relieved the minds of all from the painful cloud 
of personal anxieties. They were greeted by an enthusiastic acclama- 

The name of the man who thus spoke was never known; it was 
some obscure blouse-wearer, an unknown, a forgotten man, a passing 
hero, that great anonymous always found in human crises and in social 
births, who, at the proper instant, speaks the decisive word supremely, 
and who vanishes into the darkness after having for a moment repre- 
sented, in the light of a flash, the people and God. 

This inexorable resolution so filled the air of June 6, 1832, that, al- 
most at the same hour, in the barricade of Saint Merry, the insurgents 
raised this shout which was proved on the trial, and which has be- 

474 Les Miserables 

come historical: "Let them come to our aid or let them not come, 
what matter ? Let us die here to the last man.'' 

As we see, the two barricades, although essentially isolated, com- 


After the man of the people, who decreed "the protest of corpses," 
had spoken and given the formula of the common soul, from all lips 
arose a strangely satisfied and terrible cry, funereal in meaning and 
triumphant in tone: 

"Long live death! Let us all stay!" 

"Why all?" said Enjolras. 

"All! all!" 

Enjolras resumed: 

"The position is good, the barricade is fine. Thirty men are enough. 
Why sacrifice forty ?" 

They replied: 

"Because nobody wants to go away." 

"Citizens," cried Enjolras, and there was in his voice almost an 
angry tremor, "the republic is not rich enough in men to incur useless 
expenditures. Vainglory is a squandering. If it is the duty of some 
to go away, that duty should be performed as well as any other." 

Enjolras, the man of principle, had over his co-religionists that 
sort of omnipotence which emanates from the absolute. Still, not- 
withstanding this omnipotence, there was a murmur. 

Chief to his finger-ends, Enjolras, seeing that they murmured, in- 
sisted. He resumed haughtily: 

"Let those who fear to be one of but thirty, say so." 

The murmurs redoubled. 

"Besides," observed a voice from one of the groups, "to go away 
is easily said. The barricade is hemmed in." 

"^N^ot towards the markets," said Enjolras. "The Eue Mondetour 
is open, and by the Rue des Precheurs one can reach the Marche des 

"And there," put in another voice from the group, "he will be 
taken. He will fall upon some grand guard of the line or the banlieue. 

Jean Valjean ^'^^ 

Thej will see a man going by in a cap and blouse. 'Where do you 
come from, fellow? you belong to the barricade, don't you?' And 
they look at your hands. You smell of powder. Shot." 

Enjolras, without answering, touched Combeferre's shoulder^ and 
they both went into the basement room. 

They came back a moment afterwards. Enjolras held out in his 
hands the four uniforms which he had reserved. Combeferre followed 
him, bringing the cross belts and shakos. 

"With this uniform," said Enjolras, "you can mingle with the 
ranks and escape. Here are enough for four." 

And he threw the four uniforms upon the unpaved ground. 

!N"o wavering in the stoical auditory. Combeferre spoke : 

"Come," said he, "we must have a little pity. Do you know what 
the question is now? It is a question of women. Let us see. Are 
there any wives, yes or no? are there any children, yes or no? Are 
there, yes or no, any mothers, who rock the cradle with their foot and 
who have heaps of little ones about them? Let him among you who 
has never seen the breast of a nursing-woman hold up his hand. Ah ! 
you wish to die, I wish it also, I, who am speaking to you, but I do 
not wish to feel the ghosts of women wringing their hands about me. 
Die, so be it, but do not make others die. Suicides like those which 
will be accomplished here are sublime; but suicide is strict, and can 
have no extension; and as soon as it touches those next you, the name 
of suicide is murder. Think of the little flaxen heads, and think of 
the white hairs. 

All bowed their heads with a gloomy air. 

Strange contradictions of the human heart in its most sublime mo- 
ments ! Combeferre, who spoke thus, was not an orphan. He re- 
membered the mothers of others, and he forgot his own. He was 
going to be killed. He was "selfish." 

Marius, fasting, feverish, successively driven from every hope, 
stranded upon grief, most dismal of shipwrecks, saturated with violent 
emotions and feeling the end approach, was sinking deeper and deeper 
into that visionary stupor which always precedes the fatal hour when 
voluntarily accepted. 

He raised his voice: 

"Enjolras and Combeferre are right," said he; "no useless sacri< 

476 Les Miserables 

fice. I add my voice to theirs, and we must hasten. Combeferre 
has given the criteria. There are among you some who have families, 
mothers, sisters, wives, children. Let those leave the ranks.'' 

Nobody stirred. 

^^Married men and supports of families, out of the ranks!" re- 
peated Marius. 

His authority was great. Enjolras was indeed the chief of the 
barricade, but Marius was its saviour. 

^^I order it," cried Enjolras. 

*'I beseech you," said Marius. 

Then, roused by the words of Combeferre, shaken by the order of 
Enjolras, moved by the prayer of Marius, those heroic men began to 
inform against each other. "That is true," said a young man to a 
middle-aged man. "You are the father of a family. Go away." 
"It is you rather," answered the man, "you have two sisters whom you 
support." And an unparalleled conflict broke out. It was as to which 
should not allow himself to be laid at the door of the tomb. 

"Make haste," said Courfeyrac, "in a quarter of an hour it will 
be too late." 

"Citizens," continued Enjolras, "this is the republic, and universal 
suffrage reigns. Designate yourselves those who ought to go." 

They obeyed. In a few minutes five were unanimously designated 
and left the ranks. 

"There are five!" exclaimed Marius. 

There were only four uniforms. 

"Well," resumed the ^ve, "one must stay." 

And it was who should stay, and who should find reasons why the 
others should not stay. The generous quarrel recommenced. 

"You, you have a wife who loves you." "As for you, you have 
your old mother." "You have neither father nor mother, what will 
become of your three little brothers ?" "You are the father of ^ve 
children." "You have a right to live, you are seventeen, it is too 


These grand revolutionary barricades were rendezvous of heroisms. 
The improbable there was natural. These men were not astonished 
at each other. 

"Be quick," repeated Courfeyrac. 

Jean Valjean ^'^'^ 

Somebody cried out from the group, to Marius: 

"Designate yourself, which must stay." 

"Yes," said the five, "choose. We will obey you." 

Marius now believed no emotion possible. Still at this idea: to 
select a man for death, all his blood flowed back towards his heart. 
He would have turned pale if he could have been paler. 

He advanced towards the ^yb^ who smiled upon him, and each, his 
eye full of that grand flame which we see in the depth of history over 
the Thermopylses, cried to him: 

"Me! me! me!" 

And Marius, in a stupor, counted them ; there were still five ! Then 
his eyes fell upon the four uniforms. 

At this moment a fifth uniform dropped, as if from heaven, upon 
the four others. 

The fifth man was saved. 

Marius raised his eyes and saw M. Fauchelevent. 

Jean Valjean had just entered the barricade. 

Whether by information obtained, or by instinct, or by chance, he 
came by the little Rue Mondetour. Thanks to his National Guard 
dress, he had passed easily. 


The five men designated went out of the barricade by the little Rue 
Mondetour; they resembled National Guards perfectly; one of them 
went away weeping. Before starting, they embraced those who re- 

When the ^ve men sent away into life had gone, Enjolras thought 
of the one condemned to death. He went into the basement room. 
Javert, tied to the pillar, was thinking. 

"Do you need anything?" Enjolras asked him. 

Javert answered: 

"When shall you kill me ?" 

"Wait. We need all our cartridges at present." 

"Then, give me a drink," said Javert. 

Enjolras presented him with a glass of water himself, and, as 
Javert was bound, he helped him to drink. 

^"^^ Les Miserables 

'^Is that all?" resumed Enjolras. 

"I am uncomfortable at this post," answered Javert. "It was not 
affectionate to leave me here. Tie me as you please, but you can 
surely lay me on a table. Like the other." 

And with a motion of his head he indicated M. Mabeuf s body. 

There was, it will be remembered, at the back of the room, a long 
wide table, upon which they had cast balls and made cartridges. All 
the cartridges being made and all the powder used up, this table was 

At Enjolras' order, four insurgents untied Javert from the post. 
While they were untying him, a fifth held a bayonet to his breast. 
They left his hands tied behind his back, they put a small yet strong 
whipcord about his feet, which permitted him to take fifteen-inch 
steps like those who are mounting the scaffold, and they made him 
walk to the table at the back of the room, on which they extended him, 
tightly bound by the middle of his body. 

For greater security, by means of a rope fixed to his neck, they 
added to the system of bonds which rendered all escape impossible, 
that species of ligature, called in the prisons a martingale, which, 
starting from the back of the neck, divides over the stomach, and is 
fastened to the hands after passing between the legs. 

While they were binding Javert, a man, on the threshold of the 
door, gazed at him with singular attention. The shade which this 
man produced made Javert turn his head. He raised his eyes and 
recognised Jean Valjean. He did not even start, he haughtily dropped 
his eyelids, and merely said : "It is very natural." 


It was growing light rapidly. But not a window was opened, not 
a door stood ajar; it was the dawn, not the hour of awakening. 

As on the evening before, the attention of all was turned, and we 
might almost say threw its weight upon the end of the street, now 
lighted and visible. 

They had not long to wait. Activity distinctly recommenced in 
the direction Saint Leu, but it did not resemble the movement of the 
first attack. A rattle of chains, the menacing jolt of a mass, a click- 

Jean Valjean ^'^^ 

ing of brass bounding over the pavement, a sort of solemn uproar, 
announced that an ominous body of iron was approaching. There 
v^as a shudder in the midst of those peaceful old streets, cut through 
and built up for the fruitful circulation of interests and ideas, 
and which were not made for the monstrous rumbling of the wheels 
of war. 

The stare of all the combatants upon the extremity of the street 
became wild. 

A piece of artillery appeared. 

The gunners pushed forward the piece ; it was all ready to be loaded ; 
the fore wheels had been removed; two supported the carriage, four 
were at the wheels, others followed with the caisson. The smoke of 
the burning match was seen. 

"Fire!" cried Enjolras. 

The whole barricade flashed fire, the explosion was terrible; an 
avalanche of smoke covered and effaced the gun and the men ; in a few 
seconds the cloud dissipated, and the cannon and the men reappeared ; 
those in charge of the piece placed it in position in front of the barri- 
cade, slowly, correctly, and without haste. ISTot a man had been 
touched. Then the gunner, bearing his weight on the breech, to ele- 
vate the range, began to point the cannon with the gravity of an 
astronomer adjusting a telescope. 

"Bravo for the gunners !" cried Bossuet. 

And the whole barricade clapped hands. 

A moment afterwards, placed squarely in the very middle of the 
street, astride of the gutter, the gun was in battery. A formidable 
mouth was opened upon the barricade. 

"Come, be lively!" said Courfeyrac. "There is the brute. After 
the fillip, the knock-down. The army stretches out its big paw to us. 
The barricade is going to be seriously shaken. The musketry feels, 
the artillery takes." 

"Reload arms," said Enjolras. 

How was the facing of the barricade going to behave under fire? 
would the shot make a breach ? That was the question. While the in- 
surgents were reloading their muskets, the gunners loaded the cannon. 

There was intense anxiety in the redoubt. 

The gun went off; the detonation burst upon them. 

^^^ Les Miscrables 

"Present!" cried a cheerful voice. 

And at the same time with the ball, Gavroche tumbled into the 

He came by the way of the Eue du Cygne, and he had nimbly 
clambered over the minor barricade, which fronted upon the labyrinth 
of the Petite Truanderie. 

Gavroche produced more effect in the barricade than the ball. 

The ball lost itself in the jumble of the rubbish. At the very ut- 
most it broke a wheel of the omnibus, and finished the old Anceau 
cart. Seeing which, the barricade began to laugh. 

"Proceed,'' cried Bossuet to the gunners. 


Meanwhile Enjolras, on his battlement, was watching, listening with 
intense attention. 

The assailants, dissatisfied doubtless with the effect of their fire, 
had^ not repeated it. 

A company of infantry of the line had come in and occupied the 
extremity of the street, in the rear of the gun. The soldiers tore up 
the pavement, and with the stones constructed a little low wall, a sort 
of breastwork, which was hardly more than eighteen inches high, and 
which fronted the barricade. At the corner on the left of this breast- 
work, they saw at the head of the column of a battalion of the banlieue 
massed in the Eue St. Denis. 

Enjolras, on the watch, thought he distinguished the peculiar sound 
which is made when canisters of grape are taken from the caisson, 
and he saw the gunner change the aim and incline the piece slightly 
to the left. Then the cannoneers began to load. The gunner seized 
the linstock himself and brought it near the touch-hole. 

"Heads down, keep close to the wall!'' cried Enjolras, "and all on 
your knees along the barricade !" 

The insurgents, who were scattered in front of the wine-shop, and 
who had left their posts of combat on Gavroche's arrival, rushed pell- 
mell towards the barricade ; but before Enjolras' order was executed, the 
discharge took place with the fearful rattle of grape-shot. It was so 
in fact. 

Jean Valjean ^^^ 

The charge was directed at the opening of the redoubt, it ricocheted 
upon the wall, and this terrible ricochet killed two men and wounded 

If that continued, the barricade was no longer tenable. It was not 
proof against grape. 

There was a sound of consternation. 

"Let us prevent the second shot, at any rate," said Enjolras. 

And, lowering his carbine, he aimed at the gunner, who, at that 
moment, bending over the breech of the gun, was correcting and finally 
adjusting the aim. 

This gunner was a fine-looking sergeant of artillery, quite young, 
of fair complexion, with a very mild face, and the intelligent air pe- 
culiar to that predestined and formidable arm which, by perfecting 
itself in horror, must end in killing war. 

Combeferre, standing near Enjolras, looked at this young man. 

"What a pity!" said Combeferre. "What a hideous thing these 
butcheries are ! Come, when there are no more kings, there will be 
no more war. Enjolras, you are aiming at that sergeant, you are not 
looking at him. Just think that he is a charming young man ; he is 
intrepid; you see that he is a thinker; these young artillery-men are 
well educated; he has a father, a mother, a family; he is in love, 
probably; he is at most twenty-five years old; he might be your 

"He is," said Enjolras. 

"Yes," said Combeferre, "and mine also. Well, don't let us kill 

"Let me alone. We must do what we must." 

And a tear rolled slowly down Enjolras' marble cheek. 

At the same time he pressed the trigger of his carbine. The flash 
leaped forth. The artillery-man turned twice round, his arms stretched 
out before him, and his head raised as if to drink the air, then he fell 
over on his side upon the gun, and lay there motionless. His back 
could be seen, from the centre of which a stream of blood gushed up- 
wards. The ball had entered his breast and passed through his body. 
He was dead. 

It was necessary to carry him away and to replace him. It was 
indeed some minutes gained. 

482 Les Miserables 


Theee was confusion in the counsel of the barricade. The gun was 
about to be fired again. They could not hold out a quarter of an hour 
in that storm of grape. It was absolutely necessary to deaden the 

Enjolras threw out his command: 

"We must put a mattress there." 

"We have none," said Combeferre, "the wounded are on them." 

Jean Valjean, seated apart on a block, at the comer of the wine- 
shop, his musket between his knees, had, up to this moment, taken no 
part in what was going on. He seemed not to hear the combatants 
about him say: "There is a musket which is doing nothing." 

At the order given by Enjolras, he got up. 

On the arrival of the company in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, an old 
woman, foreseeing bullets, had put her mattress before her window. 
This, window, a garret window, was on the roof of a house of six 
stories standing a little outside of the barricade. The mattress, placed 
crosswise, rested at the bottom upon two clothes-poles, and was sus- 
tained above by two ropes which, in the distance, seemed like thieads, 
and which were fastened to nails driven into the window casing. 
These two ropes could be seen distinctly against the sky like hairs. 

"Can somebody lend me a double-barrelled carbine?" said Jean 

Enjolras, who had just reloaded his, handed it to him. 

Jean Valjean aimed at the window and fired. 

One of the two ropes of the mattress was cut. 

The mattress now hung only by one thread. 

Jean Valjean fired the second barrel. The second rope struck the. 
glass of the window. The mattress slid down between the two poles 
and fell into the street. 

The barricade applauded. 

All cried : 

"There is a mattress." 

"Yes," said Combeferre, "but who will go after it ?" 

The mattress had, in fact, fallen outside of the barricade, between 

Jean Valjean 483 

the besieged and the besiegers, l^ow, the death of the gunner having 
exasperated the troops, the soldiers, for some moments, had been lying 
on their faces behind the line of paving-stones which they had raised, 
and, to make up for the compulsory silence of the gun, which was 
quiet while its service was being reorganised, they had opened fire on 
the barricade. The insurgents made no response to this musketry, 
to spare their ammunition. The fusilade was broken against the 
barricade ; but the street, which it filled with balls, was terrible. 

Jean Valjean went out at the opening, entered the street, passed 
through the storm of balls, went to the mattress, picked it up, put it 
on his back, and returned to the barricade. 

He put the mattress into the opening himself. He fixed it against 
the wall in such a way that the artillerymen did not see it. 

This done, they awaited the charge of grape. 

They had not long to wait. 

The cannon vomited its package of shot with a roar. But there 
was no ricochet. The grape miscarried upon the mattress. The de- 
sired effect was obtained. The barricade was preserved. 

"Citizen,'' said Enjolras to Jean Valjean, "the republic thanks you." 

Bossuet admired and laughed. He exclaimed: 

"It is immoral that a mattress should have so much power. Tri- 
umph of that which yields over that which thunders. But it is all the 
same ; glory to the mattress which nullifies a cannon." 


CouRFEYRAC Suddenly perceived somebody at the foot of the barricade, 
outside in the street, under the balls. 

Gavroche had taken a basket from the wine-shop, had gone out by 
the opening, and was quietly occupied in emptying into his basket 
the full cartridge-boxes of the IsTational Guards who had been killed 
on the slope of the redoubt. 

"What are you doing there ?" said Courfeyrac. 

Gavroche cocked up his nose. 

"Citizen, I am filling my basket." 

"Why, don't you see the grape ?" 

Gavroche answered: 

484 Les Miserables 

^^Well, it rains. What then V 

Courfeyrac cried: 


"Directly," said Gavroche. 

And with a bound, he sprang into the street. 

Some twenty dead lay scattered along the whole length of the street 
on the pavement. Twenty cartridge-boxes for Gavroche, a supply of 
cartridges for the barricade. 

The smoke in the street was like a fog. 

Under the folds of this veil of smoke, and thanks to his small size, 
he could advance far into the street without being seen. He emptied 
the first seven or eight cartridge-boxes without much danger. 

He crawled on his belly, ran on his hands and feet, took his basket 
in his teeth, twisted, glided, writhed, wormed his way from one body 
to another, and emptied a cartridge-box as a monkey opens a nut. 

From the barricade, of which he was still within hearing, they dared 
not call to him to return, for fear of attracting attention to him. 

On pne corpse, that of a corporal, he found a powder-flask. 

"In case of thirst," said he as he put it into his pocket. 

By successive advances, he reached a point where the fog from the 
firing became transparent. 

So that the sharp-shooters of the line drawn up and on the alert 
behind their wall of paving-stones, and the sharp-shooters of the banlieue 
massed at the corner of the street, suddenly discovered something 
moving in the smoke. 

Just as Gavroche was relieving a sergeant who lay near a stone- 
block of his cartridges, a ball struck the body. 

"The deuce!" said Gavroche. "So they are killing my dead for 

A second ball splintered the pavement beside him. A third upset 
his basket. 

Gavroche looked and saw that it came from the banlieue. 

Then he picked up his basket, put into it the cartridge which had 
fallen out, without losing a single one, and, advancing towards the 
fusilade, began to empty another cartridge-box. There a fourth ball 
just missed him again. 

This continued thus for some time. 

Jean Valjean 4S5 

The sight was appalling and fascinating. Gavroche, fired at, mocked 
the firing. He appeared to be very much amused. It was the sparrow 
pecking at the hunters. They aimed at him incessantly, they always 
missed him. The l^ational Guards and the soldiers laughed as they 
aimed at him. He lay down, then rose up, hid himself in a doorway, 
then sprang out, disappeared, reappeared, escaped, returned, retorted 
upon the volleys by wry faces, and meanwhile pillaged cartridges, 
emptied cartridge-boxes, and filled his basket. The insurgents, breath- 
less with anxiety, followed him with their eyes. The barricade was 
trembling; he was singing. It was not a child; it was not a man; it 
was a strange fairy gamin. One would have said the invulnerable 
dwarf of the melee. The bullets ran after him, he was more nimble 
than they. He was playing an indescribably terrible game of hide- 
and-seek with death; every time the flatnosed face of the spectre ap- 
proached, the gamin snapped his fingers. 

One bullet, however, better aimed or more treacherous than the 
others, reached the Will-o^-the-wisp child. They saw Gavroche totter, 
then he fell. The whole barricade gave a cry; but there was an 
Antaeus in this pigmy; for the gamin to touch the pavement is like 
the giant touching the earth ; Gavroche had fallen only to rise again ; he 
sat up, a long stream of blood rolled down his face, he raised both 
arms in air, looked in the direction whence the shot came, and began 
to sing. 

He did not finish. A second ball from the same marksman cut 
him short. This time he fell with his face upon the pavement, and 
did not stir again. That little great soul had taken flight. 


We must dwell upon a psychological fact, peculiar to barricades. 
N'othing which characterises this surprising war of the streets should 
be omitted. 

There is an apocalypse in civil war, all the mists of the unknown 
are mingled with these savage flames, revolutions are sphinxes, and 
he who has passed through a barricade, believes he has passed through 
a dream. 

What is felt in those places, as we shall see in what follows, is 

486 Les Miserables 

more and is less than life. Once out of the barricade, a man no longer 
knows what he has seen in it. He was terrible, he does not know it. 
He was surrounded by combating ideas which had human faces; he 
had his head in the light of the future. There were corpses lying 
and phantoms standing. The hours were colossal, and seemed hours 
of eternity. He lived in death. Shadows passed by. What were 
they ? He saw hands on which there was blood ; it was an appalling 
uproar, it was also a hideous silence; there were open mouths which 
shouted, and other open mouths which held their peace; he was in 
the smoke, in the night, perhaps. He thinks he has touched the 
ominous ooze of the unknown depths; he sees something red in his 
nails. He remembers nothing more. Thus passed the hours on this 
fatal morning. 

Suddenly between two discharges they heard the distant sound 
of a clock striking. 

'*It is noon," said Combeferre. 

The twelve strokes had not sounded when Enjolras sprang to his 
feet,' and flung down from the top of the barricade this thundering 
shout : 

"Carry some paving stones into the house. Fortify the windows 
with them. Half the men to the muskets, the other half to the stones. 
]J^ot a minute to lose." 

A platoon of sappers, their axes on their shoulders, had just ap- 
peared in order of battle at the end of the street. 

This could only be the head of a column; and of what column? 
The column of attack, evidently. The sappers, whose duty it is to 
demolish the barricade, must always precede the soldiers whose duty 
it is to scale it. 

They were evidently close upon the moment which Monsieur de 
Clermont Tonnerre, in 1822, called "the twist of the necklace." 

Enjolras' order was executed with the correct haste peculiar to 
ships and barricades, the only places of combat whence escape is 
impossible. In less than a minute, two-thirds of the paving-stones 
which Enjolras had had piled up at the door of the Corinth were 
carried up to the first story and to the garret; and before a second 
minute had elapsed, these stones, artistically laid one upon another, 
walled up half the height of the window on the first story and the 

Jean Valjean 487 

dormer windows of the attic. A few openings, carefully arranged hf 
Feuilly, chief builder, allowed musket barrels to pass through. This 
armament of the windows could be performed the more easily since 
the grape had ceased. The two pieces were now firing balls upon 
the centre of the wall, in order to make a hole, and if it were possible, 
a breach for the assult. 

When the paving-stones, destined for the last defence, were in 
position, Enjolras had them carry up to the first story the bottles 
which he had placed under the table where Mabeuf was. 

"Who will drink that?" Bossuet asked him. 

"They," answered Enjolras. 

Then they barricaded the basement window, and they held in 
readiness the iron cross-pieces which served to bar the door of the 
wine-shop on the inside at night. 

The fortress was complete. The barricade was the rampart, the 
wine-shop was the donjon. 

With the paving-stones which remained, they closed up the opening 
beside the barricade. 

As the defenders of a barricade are always obliged to husband 
their ammunition, and as the besiegers know it, the besiegers perfect 
their arrangements with a sort of provoking leisure, expose themselves 
to fire before the time, but in appearance more in reality, and take 
their ease. The preparations for attack are always made with a 
certain methodical slowness, after which the thunderbolt. 

This slowness allowed Enjolras to look over the whole, and to per- 
fect the whole. He felt that since such men were to die, their death 
should be a masterpiece. 

He said to Marius: "We are the two chiefs; I will give the last 
orders within. You stay outside and watch." 

Marius posted himself for observation upon the crest of the 

Enjolras had the door of the kitchen, which, we remember, was 
the hospital, nailed up. 

"1^0 spattering on the wounded," said he. 

He gave his last instructions in the basement-room in a quick but 
deep and calm voice; Eeuilly listened, and answered in the name 
of all. 

488 Les Miserables 

"First story, hold your axes ready to cut the staircase. Have 
you them ?" 

^^Yes/' said Feuilly. 

''How many?" 

"Two axes and a pole-ax." 

"Very well. There are twenty-six effective men left." 

"How many muskets are there ?" 


"Eight too many. Keep these eight muskets loaded like the rest, 
and at hand. Swords and pistols in your belts. Twenty men to the 
barricade. Six in ambush at the dormer windows and at the win- 
dow on the first story to fire upon the assailants through the loopholes 
in the paving stones. Let there be no useless labourer here. Imme- 
diately, when the drum beats the charge, let the twenty from below 
rush to the barricade. The first there will get the best places." 

These dispositions made, he turned towards Javert, and said to him : 

"I won't forget you." 

And laying a pistol on the table, he added : 

"The last man to leave this room will blow out the spy's brains!" 

"1^0, do not leave this corpse with ours. You can climb over 
the little barricade on the Eue Mondetour. It is only four feet high. 
The man is well tied. You will take him there, and execute him 

There was one man, at that moment, who was more impassable than 
Enjolras; it was Javert. 

Here Jean Valjean appeared. 

He was in the throng of insurgents. He stepped forward, and said 
to Enjolras: 

"You are the commander?" 

"Yes." ^ 

"You thanked me just now." ' 

"In the name of the republic. The barricade has two saviours, 
Monsieur Pontmercy and you." 

"Do you think that I deserve a reward?" 


"Well, I ask one." 


Jean Valjean ^^^ 

"To blow out that man's brains myself." 

Javert raised his head, saw Jean Yaljean, made an , imperceptible 
movement, and said: 

"That is appropriate." 

As for Enjolras, he had begun to reload his carbine; he cast his 
eyes about him: 

"1^0 objection." 

And turning towards Jean Valjean: "Take the spy." 

Jean Valjean, in fact, took possession of Javert by sitting down 
on the end of the table. He caught up the pistol, and a slight click 
announced that he had cocked it. 

Almost at the same moment, they heard a flourish of trumpets. 

"Come on!" cried Marius, from the top of the barricade. 

Javert began to laugh with that noiseless laugh which was peculiar 
to him, and, looking fixedly upon the insurgents, said to them : 

"Your health is hardly better than mine." 

"All outside ?" cried Enjolras. 

The insurgents sprang forward in a tumult, and, as they went out, 
they received in the back, allow us the expression, this speech from 
Javert : 

"Farewell till immediately!" 


When Jean Valjean was alone with Javert, he untied the rope that 
held the prisoner by the middle of the body, the knot of which was 
under the table. Then he motioned to him to get up. 

Javert obeyed, with that undefinable smile into which the supremacy 
of enchained authority is condensed. 

Jean Valjean took Javert by the martingale as you would take 
a beast of burden by a strap, and, drawing him after him, went out 
of the wine-shop slowly, for Javert, with his legs fettered, could take 
only very short steps. 

Jean Valjean had the pistol in his hand. 

They crossed thus the interior trapezium of the barricade. 

The insurgents, intent upon the imminent attack, were looking the 
other way. 

^^^ Les Miserables 

Marius, alone, placed towards the left extremity of the wall, saw 
them pass. This group of the victim and the executioner borrowed 
a light from the sepulchral gleam which he had in his soul. 

Jean Valjean, with some difficulty, bound as Javert was, but with- 
out letting go of him for a single instant, made him scale the little 
intrenchment on the Kue Mondetour. 

When they had climbed over this wall, they found themselves alone 
in the little street. Nobody saw them now. The corner of the house 
hid them from the insurgents. The corpses carried out from the 
barricades made a terrible mound a few steps off. 

Jean Valjean put the pistol under his arm, and fixed upon Javert 
a look which had no need of words to say : "Javert, it is I." 

Javert answered: 

"Take your revenge." 

Jean Valjean took a knife out of his pocket, and opened it. 

"A surin!" exclaimed Javert. "You are right. That suits you 

Jean Valjean cut the martingale which Javert had about his neck, 
then he cut the ropes which he had on his wrists, then, stooping down, 
he cut the cord which he had on his feet ; and, rising, he said to him : 

"You are free." 

Javert was not easily astonished. Still, complete master as he was, 
of himself, he could not escape an emotion. He stood aghast and 

Jean Valjean continued: 

"I don't expect to leave this place. Still, if by chance I should, 
I live, under the name of Fauchelevent, in the Rue de THomme Arme, 
^Number Seven." 

Javert had the scowl of a tiger half opening a comer of his mouth, 
and he muttered between his teeth : 

"Take care." 

"Go," said Jean Valjean. 

Javert resumed: 

"You said Fauchelevent, Eue de rHomme Arme?" 

"Number Seven." 

Javert repeated in an undertone: "Number seven." He buttoned 
his coat, restored the military stiffness between his shoulders, turned 

Jean Valjean ^^^ 

half around, folded his arms, supporting his chin with one hand, and 
walked off in the direction of the markets. Jean Valjean followed 
him with his eyes. After a few steps, Javert turned back, and cried 
to Jean Valjean: 

"You annoy me. Kill me rather." 

Javert did not notice that his tone was more respectful towards 
Jean Valjean. 

"Go away," said Jean Valjean. 

Javert receded with slow steps. A moment afterwards, he turned 
the corner of the Rue des Precheurs. 

When Javert was gone, Jean Valjean fired the pistol in the air. 

Then he re-entered the barricade and said : "It is done." 

Meanwhile what had taken place is this: 

Marius, busy rather with the street than the wine-shop, had not 
until then looked attentively at the spy who was bound in the dusky 
rear of the basement-room. 

When he saw him in broad day clambering over the barricade on his 
way to die, he recognised him. A sudden reminiscence came into his 
mind. He remem-bered the inspector of the Rue de Pontoise, and the 
two pistols which he had handed him and which he had used, he, 
Marius, in this very barricade ; and not only did he recollect the face, 
but he recalled the name. 

This reminiscence, however, was misty and indistinct, like all his 
ideas. It was an affirmation which he made to himself, it was a ques- 
tion which he put: "Is not this that inspector of police who told me 
his name was Javert?" 

Perhaps there was still time to interfere for this man? But he 
must know if it were indeed that Javert. 

Marius called to Enjolras, who had just taken his place at the other 
end of the barricade. 


"What ?" 

"What is that man's name?" 

"Who ?" 

"The police officer. Do you know his name ?" 

"Of course. He told us." 

"What is his name ?" 

492 Les Miserables 


Marius sprang up. 

At that moment they heard the pistol-shot. 

Jean Valjean appeared and cried: '^It is done." 

A dreary chill passed through the heart of Marius. 


Suddenly the drum beat the charge.