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From the Library of 
Dr. F. Louis Barber 




VOL. ill. 

libitum ir tux* 



Marius' tiflF**etvng with Cosette 




Hfio fork 









MAR g 9 

EMtum i? ffiitxr 



VOL. Ill 











































VI. RES ANGUSTA v . 113 










II. Lux FACTA EST 143 













































PARIS has a child, and the forest has a bird; the bird is 
called a sparrow, the child is called a gutter-snipe. 

Couple these two ideas, which contain the one all the fur- 
nace, the other all the dawn ; bring the two sparks, Paris and 
childhood, into collision, and a little being springs from them, 
homuncio, as Plautus would say. 

This little being is joyous; he does not eat every day, and 
he goes to the theatre every night if he thinks proper. He 
has no shirt on his body, no shoes on his feet, and no roof 
over his head; he is like the flies of heaven., which have none 
of those things. He is from seven to thirteen years of age, 
lives in bands, lodges in the open air, wears an old pair of 
his father's trousers, which descend lower than his heels, an 
old hat belonging to some other father, which comes below his 
ears, and one yellow list brace. He runs, lies in wait, begs, 
kills time, colours pipes, swears like a fiend, haunts the wine- 


shop, knows thieves, speaks familiarly to street-girls, talks 
slang, sings filthy songs, and has no evil in his heart; for he 
has in his soul a pearl, Innocence; and pearls are not to be 
dissolved by mud. So long as man is a child, God wills that 
he shall be innocent. 

If we were to ask the enormous city, " What is this crea- 
ture ? " it would reply, " It is my little one." 



fTlHE gutter-snipe of Paris is the dwarf of the giantess. 
JL Let us not exaggerate. This cherub of the gutter has 
sometimes a shirt, but if so, has only one; he sometimes has 
shoes, but then they have no soles ; he has sometimes a home, 
and likes it, for he finds his mother there ; but he prefers the 
street, because he finds liberty there. He has games of his 
own, and tricks of his own, based on hatred of the shopkeep- 
ing class, and he has metaphors of his own: thus, to be dead 
and buried, he calls, " eating dandelions by the root." He has 
trades of his own, fetching hackney coaches, opening car- 
riage doors, collecting toll for ferriage across the streets, in 
heavy storms, which he calls " building the Pont des Arts," 
crying speeches made by the authorities in favor of the French 
people, and cleaning out the cracks in the pavement. He has 
also a currency of his own, composed of all the little pieces 
of wrought copper that can be picked up in the streets. This 
curious money, which takes the name of " rags," has an un- 
varying and well-established value in this childish Bohemia. 

Lastly, he has a fauna of his own, which he studiously ob- 
serves in every hole and corner, the lady -bird, the death's- 
head moth, the daddy long-legs, and the " devil," a black in- 
sect which threatens by wriggling its tail, armed with two 


horns. He has his fabulous monster, which has scales on its 
belly, but is not a lizard, and spots on its back, but is not a 
toad ; it lives in holes in old limekilns and dried-up wells ; it is 
black, hairy, slimy, and crawls about, at one moment slowly, 
at another quickly ; it utters no sound, but glares, and is so 
terrible that no one has ever seen it. This monster he calls 
the " deaf-one," and looking for it under stones is a pleasure 
of a dreadful nature. Another pleasure is to raise a paving- 
stone suddenly and look at the wood-lice. Each region of 
Paris is celebrated for the interesting " finds " which may be 
made in it ; thus, there are earwigs in the timber-yards of the 
Ursulines, centipedes in the Pantheon, and tadpoles in the 
ditches of the Champs de Mars. 

As for witticisms, this child is as full of them as Talley- 
rand; but, though no less cynical, he is more honest. He is 
gifted with indescribable and unforeseen joviality, and startles 
the shopkeeper by his mad laugh. His range extends from 
genteel comedy to farce. 

A funeral passes, and among the persons following is a 
physician. " Hullo ! " shouts a gutter-snipe, " when did doc- 
tors begin to carry home their owi? work? " 

Another is in a crowd. A serious man, adorned with spec- 
tacles and watch-seals, turns indignantly : " You scoundrel, 
what do you mean by seizing my wife's waist?" 

" I, sir ? Search me ! " 



AT night, thanks to a few half-pence which he always 
contrives to procure, the homuncio enters a theatre. 
On crossing this magical threshold, he is transfigured; he was 
a gutter-snipe, and he becomes a titi. 1 Theatres are like over- 

i Chicken: slang term, taken from the sound made in calling poultry. 


turned vessels, which have their hold in the air; and the titis 
congregate in the hold. The titi is to the gutter-snipe, what 
the butterfly is to the chrysalis, the same being, but now 
flying and hovering. It is enough for him to be there, with 
his radiant happiness, his power of enthusiasm and delight, 
and the clapping of his hands, which resembles the flapping 
of wings; the narrow, fetid, obscure, dirty, unhealthy, hide- 
ous, abominable hold at onc$ becomes paradise. 1 

Give a being what is useless and deprive him of what is 
necessary, and you will have the gutter-snipe. 

He is not devoid of literary instinct. His tastes we con- 
fess it with all proper regret are not classic. He is by na- 
ture but little of an academician. 

This creature bawls, chaffs, squabbles, and fights; wears 
patches like a baby, and ra^s like a philosopher; fishes in the 
gutter, sports in the sewers, extracts gayety from filth, 
scourges the town with hi: wit, grins and bites, whistles and 
sings, applauds and hisses, tempers Hallelujah with Matan- 
turlurette, hums every known tune, from De Profundis to the 
Anvil Chorus, finds without looking, knows his own ignorance, 
is a Spartan even to filching, foolish even to wisdom, lyrical 
even to filth, would sprawl on Olympus, wallows in the dung- 
heap, and emerges from it covered with stars. The gutter- 
snipe of Paris is Rabelais in his youth. 

He is not satisfied with his trousers, unless they have watch- 

He is not easily surprised, and still less easily frightened; 
he sings down superstitions, takes the wind out of exaggera- 
tions, mocks at mysteries, puts out his tongue at ghosts, takes 
the poetry out of high flown metaphors, and introduces cari- 
cature into the most serious affairs. It is not that he is pro- 
saic, far from it ; but he substitutes a farcical phantasma- 
goria for solemn vision. If Adamastor were to appear to him, 
the gutter-snipe would say, " Hullo, old Bogy ! " 

1 Anglice: gallery gods, nigger heaven. 




PARIS begins with the loafer and ends with the gutter- 
snipe, two beings of which no other city is capable; 
the passive acceptance which is satisfied with looking, and the 
inexhaustible initiative, Prudhomme and Fouillou. Paris 
alone has this in its natural history ; all monarchy is contained 
in the loafer, all anarchy in the gutter-snipe. 

This pale child of the Paris faubourgs lives and develops, 
makes ties and looses them in suffering, a thoughtful witness 
in the presence of social realities and human things. He be- 
lieves himself reckless, but he is not; he looks on, ready to 
laugh, but also ready for something else. Whoever you may 
be, if your name be Prejudice, Abuse, Ignominy, Oppression, 
Iniquity, Despotism, Injustice, Fanaticism, or Tyranny, be- 
ware of the gaping gutter-snipe. 

This little fellow will grow. 

Of what clay is he made? Of any dirt that comes to hand. 
Take a handful of mud, a breath, and you have Adam. It is 
sufficient for a God to pass ; and a God has ever passed over 
the gutter-snipe. Fortune toils for this little being, though 
by the word fortune we mean to some extent, luck. Will this 
pigmy, moulded of coarse common clay, ignorant, illiterate, 
bewildered, vulgar, low, become an Ionian or a Breotian? 
Wait awhile, currit rota, and the genius of Paris, that demon 
which creates the children of chance and the men of destiny, 
will reverse the process of the Latin potter, and make an am- 
phora of the earthen jar. 




rilHE gutter-snipe loves the town, but he loves solitude as 
JL well ; for there is something of the sage in him. He is 
urbis amator like Fuscus, and ruris amator like Flaccus. 

To wander about dreamily, that is, to loaf, is an ex- 
cellent employment of time for a philosopher, particularly 
in that somewhat artificial country, ugly enough, but odd and 
composed of two natures, that surrounds certain large cities, 
and notably Paris. To study the suburbs is to study the 
amphibious, the trees end and the roofs begin; the grass 
ends and the pavement begins ; the furrows end and the shops 
begin; the ruts end and the passions begin; the divine mur- 
mur ends and human reason begins, and all is extraordinarily 

Such is the motive of the apparently objectless strolls of 
the dreamer in those unattractive parts, which the passer-by 
at once brands with the epithet, " dreary." 

The author of these lines was for a long time a prowler 
about the suburbs of Paris, and it is a source of profound 
memories for him. The worn grass, the stony path, the chalk, 
the marl, the plaster, the rough monotony of waste and fal- 
low land, the young plants in the market-garden suddenly 
seen in a hollow, the mixture of the wild and the tame, the vast 
desert nooks where the garrison drummers hold their noisy 
practising, producing a sort of stammer of battle, these deep 
solitudes by day and cut-throat dens by night, the clumsy mill 
turning in the wind, the windlasses of the quarries, the wine- 
shops at the corners of the cemeteries, the mysterious charm 
of the tall dark walls cutting at right angles immense open 
fields bathed in sunshine and full of butterflies, all this at- 
tracted him. 

Hardly any one on earth knows those singular spots, the 


Glaciere, the Cimette, the hideous wall of Grenelle pock- 
marked with bullets, Mont Parnasse, the Fosse aux Loups, 
Les Aubiers on the bank of the Marne, Mont Souris, the 
Tombe Issoire, or the Pierre Plate de Chatillon, where there 
is an old exhausted quarry, which is now used only for grow- 
ing mushrooms, and is closed by a trap door of rotten boards 
flush with the ground. The Campagna of Rome is one idea, 
and the outskirts of Paris another. To see in what a horizon 
offers us nought but fields, houses, or trees, is to remain on 
the surface; for all aspects of things are thoughts of God. 
The spot where a plain forms its junction with a town is al- 
ways stamped with a peculiar, penetrating melancholy; for 
Nature and humanity appeal to you simultaneously, and local 
peculiarities make their appearance there. 

Any one who has wandered as we have, in those solitudes 
contiguous to the suburbs, which may be called the limbos of 
Paris, has seen here and there, in the most deserted spot, and 
at the most unexpected moment, behind a scrubby hedge, or 
in the corner of some melancholy wall, children grouped tu- 
multuously, fetid, muddy, dusty, unkempt, and ragged, play- 
ing ring-taw, crowned with corn-flowers. They are the little 
runagates of poor families. This outer boulevard is their 
breathing-place; the outskirts belong to them, and they eter- 
nally play truant there. There they ingenuously sing their 
repertory of unclean songs. There they are, or, to speak more 
correctly, there they dwell, far from any eye, in the gentle 
warmth of May or June. Circling round a hole in the ground, 
snapping marbles with thumb and fingers, squabbling for 
farthings, irresponsible, airy, free, and happy; no sooner do 
they see you, than they remember that they have a trade and 
must earn their living, and they offer to sell you an old woollen 
stocking full of May-bugs or a spray of lilac. Such a meet- 
ing with chance children is one of the charming and yet heart- 
rending charms of the environs of Paris. 

Sometimes there are girls among the crowd of boys, arc 
they their sisters? almost grown up, thin, feverish, sun- 
burned, and freckled, crowned with wheat-ears and poppies; 


gay, haggard, and barefooted. You may see them eating 
cherries among the wheat, and at night hear them laugh. 
These groups, warmly illumined by the bright light of midday, 
or dimly seen in the twilight, long occupy the dreamer; and 
these visions mingle with his musings. 

Paris is the centre, the suburb is the circumference; it is 
the whole earth to these children. They never venture beyond 
it, and can no more escape from the Parisian atmosphere than 
fish can exist out of water. For them there is nothing two 
leagues beyond the barriers; Ivry, Gentilly, Arcueil, Belle- 
ville, Aubervilliers, Menilmontant, Choisy le Roi, Billancourt, 
Meudon, Issy, Vanvre, Sevres, Puteaux, Neuilly, Gennevil- 
liers, Colombes, Romainville, Chatou, Asnieres, Bougival, Nan- 
terre, Enghien, Noisy-le-sec, Nogent, Gournay, Drancy, and 
Gonesse, their universe ends there. 



AT the almost contemporary period, when this story hap- 
pened, there was not, as there is now, a policeman at 
every street-corner (a blessing which we have no time to dis- 
cuss), and lost children abounded in Paris. Statistics give us 
an average of two hundred and sixty homeless children, 
picked up annually by the police of that day, in unenclosed 
fields, in houses in process of building, and under the arches 
of bridges. One of these nests, which became famous, pro- 
duced " the swallows of the Pont d'Arcole." This, by the way, 
is the most disastrous of social symptoms; for all the crimes 
of the man begin with the vagabondage of the child. 

We must except Paris, however. In a relative degree, and, 
in spite of the memory which we have just evoked, the excep- 
tion is a just one. While in any other great city, a vagabond 


child is a ruined man, while nearly everywhere the boy left to 
himself is, to some extent, sacrificed and given over to a sort 
of fatal immersion in public vice, which destroys honour and 
conscience within him, the gutter-snipe of Paris, though out- 
wardly marred and dented, is inwardly almost intact. It is a 
magnificent thing to put on record, and one which 
shines forth in the splendid probity of our popular revo- 
lutions, that a certain incorruptibility results from the idea 
which exists in the atmosphere of Paris, as from the salt which 
exists in the waters of the ocean. To breathe Paris preserves 
the soul. 

But what we have just stated, does not in any way de- 
crease the heart-pang which we feel every time we meet one 
of these lads, around whom we fancy that we can see the 
threads of a broken family fluttering. In our present civ- 
ilization, which is still so incomplete, it is no very uncommon 
thing to see families thus broken up emptying themselves into 
the darkness, not knowing what has become of their children, 
and allowing their own offspring to fall upon the public high- 
way. Hence these obscure destinies. This sad state of af- 
fairs has become proverbial, and is known as " being cast on 
the pavement of Paris." 

Let us remark parenthetically that such desertion of 
children was not discouraged under the ancient monarchy. A 
little of the Bohemian and Egyptian element in the lower 
classes suited the higher spheres, and the powerful profited by 
it. Hatred of national education was a dogma ; of what good 
were " half-lights " ? Such was the countersign. Now, the 
vagabond child is the corollary of the ignorant child. 

Besides, the monarchy sometimes wanted children, and then 
it skimmed the streets. 

In the reign of Louis XIV., to go no further back, the 
king wished, rightly enough, to create a fleet. The idea was 
good, but let us look at the means. No fleet is possible un- 
less you have beside the sailing vessel, that plaything of the 
winds, vessels which can be sent wherever may be necessary, 
or be used as tugs, impelled by oars or steam; and in those 


days galleys were to the navy what steam-vessels now are. 
Hence galleys were needed ; but galleys are only moved by the 
galley-slave, and hence the latter must be procured. Colbert 
ordered the governors of provinces, and the parliaments, to 
produce as many convicts as they could; and the magistrates 
displayed great complaisance in the matter. A man kept on 
his hat when a procession passed; that was a Huguenot at- 
titude, and he was sent to the galleys. A boy was found in 
the streets ; provided that he was fifteen years of age, and had 
no place to sleep, he was sent to the galleys. It was a great 
reign, a great age. 

In the reign of Louis XV., children disappeared in Paris. 
The police carried them off, and no one knew for what mys- 
terious purpose. Monstrous conjectures were whispered as 
to the king's purple baths. It sometimes happened that when 
boys ran short, the exempts seized such as had parents; and 
the parents in their despair attacked the exempts. In such 
a case, Parliament interfered and hanged whom? The 
exempts? No; the fathers. 



THE Parisian gutter-snipe almost constitutes a caste; and 
we might perhaps say, Not every boy who wishes to 
belong to it can do so. 

The word gutter-snipe (gamin) was printed for the first 
time, and passed from the popular speech into literature, in 
1834. It made its first appearance in a work called " Claude 
Gueux ; " the scandal was great, but the word has remained. 

The elements that constitute the consideration of gutter- 
snipes for one another are very various. We knew and as- 


sociated with one who was greatly respected and admired be- 
cause he had seen a man fall from the top of the towers of 
Notre-Dame; another, because he had managed to enter the 
backyard where the statues of the dome of the Invalides were 
temporarily deposited, and " cribbed " lead from them ; 
another, because he had seen a diligence upset; another, be- 
cause he " knew " a soldier who had all but put out the eye 
of a civilian. 

This explains the exclamation of the Parisian gutter-snipe, 
at which the vulgar laughed without understanding its depth : 
" Good gracious, how unlucky I am ! Just think that I never 
saw anybody fall from a fifth floor ! " 

Assuredly it was a neat remark of a peasant : " Father So- 
and-so, your wife has died of her illness; why did you not 
send for a doctor?" "What would you have, sir? We 
poor people * die of ourselves.' ' But if all the passiveness 
of the peasant is contained in this remark, all the free-think- 
ing anarchy of the child of the suburbs will be found in the 
following: A man condemned to death is listening to the con- 
fessor in the cart, and the child of Paris protests, " He is 
talking to his ' parson.' Oh, the sneak ! " 

A certain audacity in religious matters sets off the gutter- 
snipe. It is important to be strong-minded. 

To be present at executions is a duty. He points at the 
guillotine and laughs. He calls it by all sorts of pet names, 
-End of the Soup; the Grumbler; Mother in the Blue (the 
sky ) ; the Last Mouthful, etc. In order to lose none of the 
sight, he climbs walls, scales balconies, mounts trees, hangs to 
gratings, clings to chimney-pots. The gutter-snipe is a born 
slater, as he is a born sailor; and he has no more fear of a 
roof than of a mast. No holiday comes up to an execution on 
the Greve; Samson and the Abbe Montes are the truly pop- 
ular names. The sufferer is hooted to encourage him, and is 
sometimes admired. Lacenaire, when a gutter-snipe, seeing 
the frightful Dautun die bravely, uttered a remark in which 
lay a future: "I was jealous of him." In the community 
of gutter-snipes, Voltaire is unknown, but Papavoine is fa- 


mous. Politicians and murderers are mingled in the same leg- 
end, and traditions exist as to the last garments of all. They 
know that Tolleron wore a night cap, Avril a fur cap, Louvel 
a round hat; that old Delaporte was bald and bare-headed, 
Castaing rosy-cheeked and good-looking, and that Bories had 
a romantic beard; Jean Martin kept his braces on; and Le- 
couffe and his mother abused each other. " Don't quarrel 
about your basket," a gutter-snipe shouted to them. Another 
little fellow climbed up a lamp-post on the quay, in order to 
get a glimpse of Debacker as he passed; and a policeman 
posted there frowned at him. " Let me climb up, Mr. Police- 
man ; " and to soften the man in authority, he added : " I 
shall not fall." " What do I care whether you fall or not ? " 
replied the policeman. 

Among gutter-snipes a memorable accident is highly es- 
teemed, and a lad attains the summit of consideration if he 
gives himself a deep cut " to the bone." 

The fist is no small element of respect; and one of the 
things which a gutter-snipe is very fond of saying is, " I 
am precious strong." To be left-handed renders you envi- 
able, while squinting is held in great esteem. 



IN summer the gutter-snipe is metamorphosed into a frog, 
and leaps off the coal-barges and the washer-women's 
boats in front of the Jean and Austerlitz bridges into the Seine 
and into all possible infractions of the laws of decency. Still, 
the police are on the watch, and hence results a highly dra- 
matic situation, which once gave rise to a fraternal and mem- 
orable cry. This cry, which became celebrated about 1830, 
is a strategic warning from boy to boy; it scans like a verse 


of Homer, with a notation almost as indescribable as the Eleu- 
siac song of the Panathenaea, and in it we may trace the an- 
cient Evohe, " Hullo, Titi, hullo, ho, here comes the cop ; 
pick up your duds, and be off through the sewer ! " 

Sometimes this gnat that is the name he gives himself 
can read, sometimes he can write and daub after a fashion. 
He does not hesitate to acquire, by some mysterious mutual 
instruction, all the talents which may be useful to the public 
cause. From 1815 to 1830 he imitated the cry of a turkey; 
from 1830 to 1848 he scratched pears upon every wall. One 
summer evening, Louis Philippe, returning home on foot, 
saw a very little scamp, no bigger than that, sweating in his 
efforts to raise himself high enough to draw a gigantic pear 
with charcoal on one pillar of the Neuilly gates ; and the king, 
with that kindness which he inherited from Henri IV., helped 
the boy, finished the pear and gave him a louis, saying, " The 
pear is on that too." 

The gutter-snipe loves a commotion, and any violent up- 
roar pleases him. He hates priests. One day a young ras- 
cal was seen putting his thumb and finger to his nose at the 
gateway of No. 69, Rue de 1'Universite. " Why are you 
doing that to that gate ? " a passer-by asked ; the lad an- 
swered, " A priest lives there." The Papal Nuncio, in fact, 
resided there. 

Still, however great the gutter-snipe's Voltaireanism may 
be, if the opportunity is offered him to be a chorister, he may 
possibly accept, and in that case serves Mass civilly. There 
are two things of which he is the Tantalus, and which he con- 
stantly desires without ever being able to attain them, to 
overthrow the government and to have his trousers mended. 

The gutter-snipe, in a perfect state, is acquainted with all 
the police of Paris, and when he meet one, can always put 
a name to his face. He tells them off on his fingers, studies 
their habits, and has his special notes about each. He reads 
the minds of the police like an open book, and will say fluently 
and without hesitating, " So-and-so is a traitor, So-and-so 
is very mean, So-and-so is great, So-and-so is ridiculous." 


(The italicized words have all a peculiar meaning in his 
mouth. ) That one thinks that the Pont Neuf belongs to him, 
and prevents " people " from walking on the cornice, outside 
the parapet; that other has a mania for pulling the ears of 
" persons," etc. 



r ilHIS lad may be traced in Poquelin, a son of the Mar- 
JL kets, and again in Beaumarchais, for gutter-snipes 
have a tinge of the Gallic temper. When blended with com- 
mon sense, it sometimes adds strength, as alcohol does to wine ; 
at other times it is a defect. Homer, it is true repeats him- 
self; and we might say that Voltaire plays the gutter-snipe. 
Camille Desmoulins was a son of the faubourgs. Champion- 
net, who abused miracles, rose from the pavement of Paris ; 
when quite a lad, he " inundated the porticos " of St. Jean de 
Beauvais and St. Etienne du Mont, and was on such familiar 
terms with the shrine of St. Genevieve as eventually to give 
his orders to the vial of St. Januarius. 

The Parisian gutter-snipe is respectful, ironical, and inso- 
lent. He has bad teeth because he is ill fed and his stomach 
suffers, and fine eyes because he has wit. He would hop up 
the steps of paradise on one foot in the very presence of 
Jehovah. He is clever at boxing, and all creeds are possible 
to him. He plays in the gutter, and draws himself up at the 
sound of a riot. His effrontery cannot be subdued by grape- 
shot. He was a vagabond, and he is a hero; and, like the 
little Theban, he shakes the lion's skin. Barra the drummer 
was a Parisian gutter-snipe. He shouts " Forward ! " as the 
horse in Scripture says " Ha ! ha ! " and in an instant he 
changes from a brat to a giant. 

This child of the mud is also the child of the ideal; to 


see this we need only measure the distance between Moliere 
and Barra. 

In a word, the gutter-snipe is a being who amuses himself 
because he is unhappy. 



TO sum it all up once more: the Paris gutter-snipe of 
the present day, like the Grceculus of Rome in former 
times, is the youthful populace with the wrinkle of the Old 
World on its brow. 

The gutter-snipe is a grace to the nation, and at the same 
time a malady, a malady which must be cured. In what 
way? By light. 

Light is sanitary and illumining. 

All generous social irradiations issue from science, letters, 
the arts and instruction. Make men, make men ! Enlighten 
them in order that they may warm you. Sooner or later the 
splendid question of universal instruction will present itself 
with the irresistible authority of absolute truth ; and then those 
who govern under the sway of French ideas will have to make 
a choice between children of France and gutter-snipes of 
Paris, between flames in the light or will-o'-the-wisps in the 

The gutter-snipe expresses Paris, and Paris expresses the 
world ; for Paris is a total. It is the firmament of the human 
race ; and the whole of this prodigious city is an epitome of 
dead customs and living customs. The man who sees Paris 
imagines that he sees universal history, with sky and constel- 
lations in the intervals. Paris has a Capitol in the Town 
Hall, a Parthenon in Notre-Dame, a Mons Aventinus in the 
Faubourg St. Antoine, an Asinarium in the Sorbonne, a Pan- 


theon in the Pantheon, a Via Sacra in the Boulevard des 
Italiens, a Temple of the Winds in public opinion, and it 
substitutes ridicule for the Gemoniae. Its majo is now called 
a " rich cove," its Tramteverino is a " son of the Faubougs," 
its hammal a " market porter," its lazzarone is one of the 
" swell mob," and its cockney a " masher." All that exists 
elsewhere exists in Paris. Dumarsais's fish-fag might retort 
to the herbseller of Euripides; Vejanus, the discobolus, lives 
again in the rope-dancer Forioso; Therapontiginus Miles 
might walk arm-in-arm with Grenadier Vademoncoeur ; Dama- 
sippus the broker would be happy among the dealers in 
bric-a-brac; Vincennes would hold Socrates under lock and 
key, just as Agora would pounce on Diderot; Grimod de la 
Regniere discovered larded beef as Curtillus invented roast 
hedgehog. We see the trapeze of which we read in Plautus 
reappear under the balloon of the Arc de 1'Etoile ; the sword 
swallower of Poecilus encountered by Apuleius, is a swallower 
of swords on the Pont Neuf ; Rameau' nephew and Curculion 
the parasite form a pair; Ergasiles would have himself intro- 
duced to Cambaceres by d' Aigref euille ; the four fops of 
Rome, Alcesimarchus, Phasdromus, Dicabolus, and Argiryp- 
pus, descend the Courtille in Labatut's post-chaise; Aulus 
Gellius stopped before Congrio no longer than Charles Nodier 
did before Punchinello ; Marto is not a tigress, but Pardalieca 
was not a dragon. Pantolabus the jester humbugs Nomen- 
tamus the gourmet at the Cafe Anglais, Hermogenes is a 
tenor in the Champs Elysees, and Thrasius the beggar, dressed 
as Bobeche, carries round the hat for him; the troublesome 
fellow who catches hold of your coat-button in the Tuileries 
makes you repeat after a lapse of two thousand years the 
apostrophe of Thesprion, Quis properantem me prehendit 
pallio? The wine of Suresne is a parody on the wine of Alba ; 
the red brim of Desaugers balances the vast cup of Balatron ; 
Pere Lachaise exhales beneath night showers the same gleams 
as the Esquiliae; and the poor man's grave, bought for five 
years, is quite equal to the hired coffin of the slave. 

Seek for anything which Paris has not. The tub of 


Trophonius contains nothing which is not in Mesmer's trough ; 
Ergaphilas lives again in Cagliostro ; the Brahmin Vasaphanta 
is incarnated in the Count de St. Germain; and the Cemetery 
of St. Medard performs quite as good miracles as the Oumou- 
mie Mosque at Damascus. 

Paris has an Esop in Mayeux, and a Canidia in Made- 
moiselle Lenormand ; it is startled as Delphi was by the flam- 
ing realities of the vision ; it makes tables turn as Dodona did 
tripods ; it places a grisette upon the throne as Rome placed a 
courtesan ; and, after all, if Louis XV. is worse than Claudius, 
Madame du Barry is better than Messalina. Paris combines 
in an unprecedented type what is dead and what we have el- 
bowed, Greek nudity, the Hebrew ulcer, and Gascon puns. 
It mixes up Diogenes, Job, and Jackpudding, dresses a ghost 
in old numbers of the " Constitutional," and make Shadrach 
a Duclos. 

Although Plutarch says that " the tyrant never grows old," 
Rome, under Scylla as under Domitian, was resigned, and 
willing to mix water with its wine. The Tiber was a Lethe, 
if we may believe the somewhat doctrinary eulogium which 
Varus Vibiscus made of it. " Contra Gracchos Tiberim habe- 
mus. Bibere Tiberim, id est seditionem oblivisci." Paris 
drinks a million quarts of water a day, but that does not pre- 
vent it from sounding the alarm and ringing the tocsin when 
the occasion offers. 

With this exception, Paris is good-natured; it accepts 
everything royally; it is not hard to please in the matter of 
its Venus; its Callipyge is a Hottentot; provided that it 
laughs, it forgives; ugliness amuses it, deformity sets it in 
a roar, and vice diverts it; if you are droll, you may be a 
scoundrel; even hypocrisy, that supreme cynicism, does not 
revolt it ; it is so literary that it does not hold its nose before 
Basile, and ie no more scandalized by TartufFe's prayer than 
Horace was terrified by the " hiccough " of Priapus. No 
feature of the universal face is wanting in the profile of Paris ; 
the Bal Mabille is not the Polymnian dance of the Janiculum, 
but the hirer out of dresses devours the lorette with her eyes 


exactly as the procuress Staphyla watched the virgin Plane- 
sium. The Barriere du Combat is not a Coliseum, but people 
are as ferocious there as if Caesar were looking on. The 
Syrian hostess has more grace than Mother Saguet; but if 
Virgil frequented the Roman wine-shop, David of Angers, 
Balzac, and Charlet have seated themselves in Parisian pot- 
houses. Paris reigns, geniuses flash forth in it, and red-tails 
prosper. Adonai's passes through it in his twelve-wheeled car 
of thunder and lightning; and Silenus makes his entrance on 
his ass. For Silenus read Ramponneau. 

Paris is the synonym of Cosmos; Paris is Athens, Rome, 
Sybaris, Jerusalem, and Pantin. All civilizations are found 
there in abridged form, but so are all barbarisms. Paris 
would be very sorry not to have a guillotine. 

A little of the Place de Greve is useful; for what would 
this eternal festival be without that seasoning? The laws 
have wisely provided for that ; and, thanks to them, the knife 
drips blood upon this Shrove Tuesday. 



THERE is no limit to Paris. No other city has held 
that sway which at times derides those whom it holds 
in subjection. "To please you, O Athenians!" Alexander 
exclaimed. Paris makes more than the law, for it makes 
the fashion ; and it produces more than fashion, for it pro- 
duces routine. Paris may be stupid, if it think proper. At 
times it indulges in that luxury, and then the universe is 
stupid with it; but Paris soon wakes up, rubs its eyes, says, 
" How stupid I am ! " and laughs in the face of the human 
race. What a marvel such a city is ! How strange it is to 
find this grandeur and this buffoonery side by side, to see that 


all this majesty is not disturbed by this parody, and that the 
same mouth can to-day blow the trumpet of the Judgment 
L fy, and to-morrow a penny whistle ! Paris has a sovereign 
gayety; but the gayety is lightning, and its farce holds a 
sceptre. Its hurricane sometimes proceeds from a grimace; 
its explosions, its days, its masterpieces, its prodigies, its 
epics, go forth to the ends of the world, and so do its cock- 
and-bull tales. Its laugh is the crater of a volcano which 
bespatters the world; and its jokes are sparks of fire. It 
imposes upon nations its caricatures as well as its ideal ; and 
the loftiest monuments of human civilization accept its ironies 
and lend their eternity to its tricks. It is superb; it has a 
prodigious July 14, which delivers the globe; it compels all 
nations to take the oath in the tennis-court ; its night of Au- 
gust 4 dissolves in three hours a thousand years of feudalism ; 
it makes of its logic the muscle of unanimous will; it multi- 
plies itself in every form of the sublime ; it fills with its lustre 
Washington, Kosciusko, Bolivar, Bozzaris, Riego, Bern, 
Manin, Lopez, John Brown, and Garibaldi; it is found wher- 
ever the future bursts into flame, at Boston in 1779, at the 
Isle of Leon in 1820, at Pesth in 1848, at Palermo in I860; 
it whispers the powerful watchword " Liberty " in the ear 
of the American abolitionists assembled at Harper's Ferry, 
and in that of the patriots of Ancona assembled in the dark- 
ness before the Gozzi inn, on the sea-shore; it creates Canaris, 
it creates Quiroga, it creates Pisacane; it radiates grandeur 
upon the earth; it was by going whither its blast impelled 
him that Byron died at Missolonghi, and Mazet at Barcelona ; 
it is the tribune under the feet of Mirabeau, and a crater under 
those of Robespierre ; its books, its plays, its art, science, liter- 
ature, and philosophy are the manuals of the human race; 
it has Pascal, Regnier, Corneille, Descartes, and Rousseau; 
Voltaire for all moments, Moliere for all ages; it makes the 
universal mouth speak its language, and that language be- 
comes the Word; it constructs in every mind the idea of 
progress; the liberating dogmas which it forges are the 
" pistol under the pillow " of generations ; and it is with the 


soul of its thinkers and its poets that all heroes of all nations 
have been formed since 1789. Still, this does not prevent it 
from playing the gutter-snipe ; and the enormous genius which 
is called Paris, while transfiguring the world with its light, 
draws Bouginier's nose with charcoal on the wall of the Tem- 
ple of Thesus and writes " Credeville the Thief " upon the 

Paris constantly shows its teeth; when it is not scolding it 
is laughing, such is Paris. 

The smoke from its chimneys constitutes the ideas of the 
universe; it is a pile of mud and stones if you like, but it is, 
above all, a moral being. It is more than grand, it is im- 
mense; and why? Because it dares. 

Daring is the price paid of progress. 

All sublime contests are more or less the rewards of bold- 
ness. In order that the Revolution should take place, it is 
not enough that Montesquieu should foresee it, Diderot preach 
it, Beaumarchais announce it, Condorcet calculate it, Arouet 
prepare it, and Rousseau premeditate it ; Danton must dare it. 

The cry Audacity! is a fiat lux. In order that the hu- 
man race may progress, it must have proud lessons of courage 
permanently before it. Rashness dazzles history, and is one 
of man's great sources of light. The dawn dares when it 
breaks. To attempt, to brave, persist, and persevere, to be 
faithful xo one's self, to wrestle with destiny, to astound the 
catastrophe by the slight fear which it causes us, now to con- 
front unjust power, again to insult intoxicated victory, to 
hold firm and withstand, such is the example which nations 
need and the light which electrifies them. The same formid- 
able flash proceeds from the torch of Prometheus and the 
short clay pipe of Cambronne. 




AS for the Parisian people, even when full grown, it is 
always the gutter-snipe; to depict the lad is to depict 
the city, and that is the reason why we have studied the eagle 
in the saucy sparrow. 

The Parisian race, we say again, is found most truly in 
the Faubourgs. There it is pure-blooded, there we find the 
real physiognomy, there the people work and suffer; and toil 
and suffering are the two faces of man. There are there 
immense numbers of strange beings, among whom may be 
found the wildest types, from the porter of La Rapee to the 
knacker of Montfauon. Fcex urbis, Cicero exclaims ; mob, 
Burke adds indignantly ; a rabble, a multitude, a populace. 
These words are quickly uttered ; but no matter ! What do I 
care that they go about barefoot? They cannot read; so 
much the worse. Will you abandon them on that account? 
Will you convert their distress into a curse? Cannot light 
penetrate these masses? Let us revert to that cry: Light! 
and let us insist upon it. Light, light; who knows whether 
this darkness may not become transparent? For are not 
revolutions themselves transfigurations? Come, philosophers, 
teach, enlighten, illumine, think aloud, speak aloud, run joy- 
fully into the sunshine, fraternize with public places, an- 
nounce the glad tidings, spread alphabets abroad, proclaim 
the rights of man, sing the " Marseillaise," sow enthusiasms, 
and pluck green branches from the oaks. Make a whirlwind 
of the idea. This crowd may be made sublime. Let us learn 
how to make use of that vast conflagration of principles and 
virtues, which crackles and bursts into flame at certain hours. 
These bare feet, these naked arms, these rags, this ignorance, 
this abjectness, this darkness, may be employed for the con- 
quest of the ideal. Look beyond the people, and you will 


perceive the truth. The vile sand which you trample 
underfoot, when cast into the furnace and melted, will become 
splendid crystal ; and by its aid, Galileo and Newton will dis- 
cover stars. 



EIGHT or nine years after the events recorded in the sec- 
ond part of this story, there might have been seen on 
the Boulevard du Temple and in the region of the Chateau 
d'Eau, a little boy about eleven or twelve years of age, who 
would have tolerably well realized the ideal of a gutter- 
snipe as sketched above, had he not had, with the smile of 
his age on his lips, a heart absolutely gloomy and void. This 
child was rigged out in a man's trousers, but he did not get 
them from his father, and a woman's jacket, which did not 
come from his mother. Some person had clothed him in 
rags out of charity. Yet he had a father and a mother ; but 
his father did not think of him, and his mother did not love 

He was one of those children most worthy of pity, who 
have father and mother, and yet are orphans. 

This child was never so comfortable anywhere as in the 
street, for the paving-stones were less hard to him than his 
mother's heart. 

His parents had kicked him out into life, and he had simply 
tried his wings. 

He was a noisy, pale, active, sharp, impudent lad, with a 
cunning and sickly look. He came and went, sang, played at 
hop-scotch, scraped the gutters, pilfered a little, but gayly, 
like cats and sparrows, laughed when he was called a scamp, 
and got angry when called a thief. 


He had no bed, no bread, no fire, no love; but he was 
happy because he was free. 

When these poor creatures are men, the mill-stones of the 
social order nearly always crush them ; but so long as they are 
children they escape because they are small. The slightest 
hole saves them. 

Still, abandoned as this child was, it happened every two 
or three months that he said, " Well, I'll go and see mamma." 
Then he quitted the Boulevard, the Circus, the Porte St. Mar- 
tin, went along the quays, crossed bridges, reached the Fau- 
bourgs, reached the Salpetriere, and stopped, where ? Ex- 
actly at that double No. 5052, which the reader knows, the 
Gorbeau House. 

At this period, No. 5052, which was usually deserted and 
eternally decorated with a bill of " Lodgings to Let," was, 
strange to say, inhabited by several persons who had no ac- 
quaintance with each other, as is always the case in Paris. 
All belonged to that indigent class which begins with the last 
small tradesman in difficulties, and is prolonged from wretch- 
edness to wretchedness to those two beings in whom all the 
material things of civilization end, the scavenger and the 

The "chief lodger" of Jean Val jean's day was dead, and 
her place had been taken by another exactly like her. I for- 
get now what philosopher said, " There is never any want of 
old women." 

This new old woman was called Madame Bourgon, and 
had nothing remarkable about her life save a dynasty of three 
paroquets which had successively reigned over her soul. 

The most wretched of all the persons inhabiting the house 
were a family of four persons, father, mother, and two half- 
grown daughters, all four living in the same attic, one of 
the cells to which we have alluded. 

At first sight this family was not very peculiar, save for 
its extreme destitution; and the father, on hiring the room, 
stated that his name was Jondrette. A short time after he 
moved in, which had borne a striking resemblance (to em- 


ploy the memorable remark of the " chief lodger") to "the 
coming in of nothing at all," this Jondrette had said to the 
woman, who, like her predecessor, was also portress, and swept 
the stairs, " Mother So-and-so, if any one should chance to 
ask for a Pole or an Italian, or perhaps a Spaniard, I am 
the party." 

This was the family of the merry little vagabond. He 
joined it, and found distress, and, what is sadder still, not a 
smile; a cold hearth and cold hearts. When he entered, they 
asked, " Where do you come from ? " and he answered, " From 
the street ; " when he went away, " Where are you going ? " 
and he answered, " To the street." His mother would say, 
" What do you want here? " 

The boy lived in this absence of affection like the pale 
plants which grow in cellars. He was not hurt by it, and 
he blamed no one; he did not know exactly how a father and 
mother ought to be. 

However, his mother loved his sisters. 

We have forgotten to mention that on the Boulevard du 
Temple the lad was called Little Gavroche. Why was he 
called Gavroche? Probably because his father's name was 

It seems to be the instinct of some wretched families to 
break the thread which binds them. 

The room which the Jondrettes occupied in the Gorbeau 
House was the last at the end of the passage. The cell next 
to it was occupied by a very poor young man called Mon- 
sieur Marius. 

Let us explain who this Monsieur Marius was. 





THERE are still a few persons residing in the Rue 
Boucherat, Rue de Normandie, and Rue de Saintonge, 
who can remember a gentleman of the name of Gillenormand, 
and who speak kindly of him; he was old when they were 
young. This dim figure has not entirely disappeared for 
those who look sadly at the vague congregation of shadows 
called the past from the labyrinth of streets near the Tem- 
ple, which in the reign of Louis XIV. received the names 
of all the provinces of France, exactly in the same 
way as in our time the names of all the capitals of Europe 
have been given to the streets in the new Tivoli quarter; a 
progression, by the bye, in which progress is visible. 

M. Gillenormand, who was as lively as possible in 1831, 
was one of those men who have become curiosities to be looked 
at, solely because they have lived a long time, and who are 
strange because they once resembled everybody and now 
no longer resemble any one. He was a peculiar old man, 
and most certainly the man of another age, the true, 
complete and rather haughty tradesman of the eighteenth 
century, who wore his honest old tradesmanship with the 
same air as marquises wear their marquisate. He had 
passed his ninetieth year, walked upright, talked loudly, 



saw clearly, drank hard, ate, slept, and snored. He still had 
his two-and-thirty teeth, and only wore spectacles to read 
with. He was of an amorous temper, but said that for the 
last ten years he had decidedly and entirely given up women. 
" He could no longer please," he said ; he did not add, " I 
am too old," but " I am too poor. If I were not ruined he, 
he, he ! " In fact, all that was left him was an income of 
about fifteen thousand francs. His dream was to drop into 
a large inheritance, and have one hundred thousand francs 
a year, in order to keep mistresses. As we see, he did not 
belong to that sickly variety of octogenarians who, like Vol- 
taire, were dying all their life ; his longevity was not that of 
the cracked jug, and this jolly old gentleman had constantly 
enjoyed good health. He was superficial, quick, easily 
angered, and he would storm at the slightest thing, most usu- 
ally contrary to all reason. When he was contradicted, he 
raised his cane and thrashed people, as folks used to do in 
the great century. He had a daughter upward of fifty years 
of age and unmarried, whom he gave a good licking when he 
was in a passion, and whom he would have liked to horsewhip, 
for he still fancied her eight years of age. He boxed his 
servants' ears soundly, and would say, " Ah, carrion ! " One 
of his oaths was, " By the pantoftoche of the pantouftochade! " 
He had strange fits of tranquillity. He was shaved every 
morning by a barber who had been mad, and who detested 
him; for he was jealous of M. Gillenormand on account of 
his wife who was a pretty little coquette. M. Gillenormand 
admired his own discernment in everything, and declared him- 
self extremely sagacious. Here is one of his remarks : " I 
have, in truth, some penetration. I am able to say, when a 
flea bites me, from what woman I caught it." The words he 
employed most frequently were " the sensitive man " and " na- 
ture," but he did not give to the latter word the vast accepta- 
tion of our age ; he introduced it after his own fashion into his 
little chimney-corner satires. " Nature," he would say, 
" anxious that civilization should have a little of everything, 
even gives it specimens of amusing barbarism. Europe has 


specimens of Asia and Africa on a small scale; the cat is a 
drawing-room tiger, the lizard a pocket crocodile. The ballet 
girls at the opera are pink savagesses; they do not eat men, 
but they devour them. The little magicians change them into 
oysters and swallow them. The Caribs leave only the bones, 
and they leave only the shell. Such are our manners; we do 
not devour, but we nibble; we do not exterminate, but we 



HE lived in the Marais, at No. 6, Rue des Filles du Cal- 
vaire. The house belonged to him. This house has 
since been pulled down and rebuilt, and the number has prob- 
ably been changed in those revolutions of numeration which 
the streets of Paris undergo. He occupied an old and vast 
suite of rooms on the first floor, furnished to the very ceilings 
with huge Gobelins and Beauvais tapestries representing pas- 
toral scenes; the subjects of the ceilings and panels were re- 
peated in miniature upon the chairs. He surrounded his bed 
with an immense nine-leaved screen of Coromandel lacquer- 
work; long, full curtains hung from the windows, and made 
very splendid, large, broken folds. The garden immediately 
under the windows was reached by a flight of twelve or fifteen 
steps running from one of them, which the old gentleman 
went up and down very nimbly. In addition to a library 
adjoining his bedroom, he had a boudoir of which he was very 
fond, a stylish retreat, hung with magnificent straw-col- 
ored fleur-de-lis hangings with a pattern of flowers, made on 
the galleys of Louis XIV., and ordered by M. de Vivonne of 
his convicts for his mistress. M. Gillenormand inherited this 
from a stern maternal great-aunt, who died at the age of one 
hundred. He had had two wives. His manners were midway, 


between those of the courtier, which he had never been, and 
of the barrister, which he might have been. He was gay and 
caressing when he liked. In his youth he had been one of 
those men who are always deceived by their wives and never 
by their mistresses, because they are at once the most disagree- 
able husbands and the most charming lovers imaginable. He 
was a connoisseur of pictures, and had in his bedroom a marvel- 
ous portrait of some unknown personage, painted by Jor- 
daens with bold syeeps of the brush, and with an infinitude 
of details, in a slap-dash, haphazard style. M. Gillenormand's 
coat was not in the style of Louis XV. or even Louis XVI., but 
it was in the style of the Incroyables of the Directory. He 
had believed himself quite a youth at that time, and followed 
the fashions. His coat was of light cloth, with large flaps, 
a long swallow-tail, and large steel buttons. Add to this, 
knee-breeches and buckle-shoes. He always had his hands 
in his fobs, and said authoritatively, " The French Revolu- 
tion is a lot of ragamuffins." 



AT the age of sixteen, at the opera one night, he had the 
honor of being ogled simultaneously by two mature 
beauties at that time celebrated and sung by Voltaire, Cam- 
argo and Salle. Caught between two fires, he beat a heroic 
retreat upon a little dancing-girl of the name of Nahenry, 
sixteen years of age, like himself, obscure as a cat, of whom he 
was enamoured. He abounded in recollections, and would 
exclaim, " How pretty that Guimard-Guimardini-Guimardi- 
nette was, the last time I saw her at Longchamps, with her 
hair dressed in ' sustained feelings,' her * come and see them ' 
of turquoises, her dress of the colour of ' newly arrived peo- 


pie,' and her ' agitation ' muff." He had worn in his youth 
a waistcoat of Nain-Londrin, to which he was fond of al- 
luding : " I was dressed like a Turk of the Levantine Levant." 
Madame Boufflers, seeing him accidentally when he was twenty 
years of age, declared him to be " a charming madcap." He 
was scandalized at all the names he saw in politics and power, 
and considered them low and common. He read the journals, 
the " newspapers," the " gazettes," as he called them, and 
burst into a laugh. " Oh ! " he would say, " who are these 
people ? Corbiere ! Humann ! Casimir Perrier ! there's a min* 
istry for you ! I can imagine this in a paper : * M. Gillenor- 
mand, minister;' it would be a joke, but they are so stupid 
that it might easily pass." He lightly called everything by 
its proper or improper name, and was not checked by the 
presence of ladies. He uttered coarseness, obscenity, and 
filth with a peculiar calmness and lack of surprise which was 
elegant. That was the fashion, the careless way of his age ; 
for we may draw attention to the fact that the season of 
paraphrase in verse was that of crudities in prose. His 
grandfather had predicted that he would be a man of genius, 
and gave him the two significant Christian names Luke Es- 



MGILLENORMAND won prizes in his youth at the 
. college of Moulins, in which town he was born, and 
was crowned by the hand of the Duke de Nivernais, whom he 
called the Duke de Nevers. Neither the Convention, the death 
of Louis XVI., Napoleon, the return of the Bourbons, nor any- 
thing else could efface the recollection of this coronation. 
The Duke de Nevers was to him the great figure of the age. 
" What a charming nobleman," he would say, " and how well 


his blue ribbon became him ! " In the eyes of M. Gillenor- 
mand, Catherine II. repaired the crime of the division of Po- 
land by purchasing of Bestucheff, for three thousand roubles, 
the secret of the elixir of gold; and on this point he would 
grow animated. " The elixir of gold ! " he would exclaim. 
" Bestucheff's yellow tincture and the drops of General La- 
motte were, in the eighteenth century, the grand remedy for 
love catastrophes, the panacea against Venus at one louis 
the half-ounce bottle. Louis XV. sent two hundred bottles 
of it to the Pope." He would have been greatly exasperated 
had he been told that the elixir of gold is nothing but per- 
chloride of iron. M. Gillenormand adored the Bourbons, and 
held 1789 in horror; he was forever describing how he had es- 
caped during the Reign of Terror, and how he was obliged 
to display great gayety and wit in order not to have his head 
cut off. If any young man dared in his presence to praise the 
Republic, he turned purple, and grew so angry as almost to 
faint. Sometimes he alluded to his ninety years, and said, 
" I trust that I shall not see '93 twice." At other times, 
though, he informed people that he intended to live to be a 



M GILLENORMAND had his theories; here is one of 
. them : " When a man is passionately fond of women, 
and himself has a wife for whom he cares little, who is ugly, 
ill-tempered, legitimate, full of her rights, reliant on the code, 
and jealous at need, there is only one way to get out of the 
hobble and live at peace, it is to leave his purse-strings to 
his wife. This abdication sets him free; his wife is hence- 
forth occupied, grows passionately fond of handling coin, 
verdigrises her fingers, undertakes to instruct peasants and 


train farmers, harangues notaries, visits their offices, follows 
the course of lawsuits, draws up leases, dictates contracts, feels 
herself a queen, sells, buys, regulates, orders, promises and 
compromises, yields, binds and looses, arranges, disarranges, 
saves and squanders; she commits follies, which is a supreme 
and personal pleasure, and that consoles her. While her hus- 
band despises her, she has the satisfaction of ruining her hus- 
band." This theory M. Gillenormand applied to himself, and 
it became his history. His wife, the second one, managed 
his fortune in such a manner that one fine day when he found 
himself a widower, he had just enough left to live on by buy- 
ing an annuity, three-fourths of which would expire with 
him. He had not hesitated, for he did not care much about 
leaving anything to his heir, and besides, he had seen that 
patrimonies had their adventures, and, for instance, became 
" national property ; " he had seen the avatars of the three 
per cent consols, and put but little faith in the Great Book 
of the Public Debt. "All that is Rue Quincampoix ! " 1 he 
would say. His house in the Rue des Filles du Calvaire be- 
longed, as we said, to him ; and he had two servants, " a he and 
a she." When a servant came into his house M. Gillenor- 
mand re-christened him, and gave the men the name of their 
province, Nimois, Comtois, Poitevin, or Picard. His last 
valet was a fat, pursy, short-winded fellow of fifty-five, inca- 
pable of running twenty yards ; but, as he was born at Bay- 
onne, M. Gillenormand called him Basque. As for the maid- 
servants, he called them all Nicolette, even Magnon, to 
whom we shall allude directly. One day a proud cook, a 
cordon blue, of the lofty race of porters, presented herself. 
" What wages do you expect a month ? " asked M. Gillenor- 
mand. " Thirty francs." " What is your name? " " Olym- 
pia." " I will give you fifty, and call you Nicolette." 

* As we should say, " Queer Street." 




IN Gillenormand, sorrow was translated into passion; he 
was furious at being in despair. He had every preju- 
dice and took every license. One of the things of which he 
composed his external relief and internal satisfaction was, as 
we have hinted, having remained a gay fellow and passing 
energetically for such. He called this having a " royal re- 
nown ; " but this rough renown at times brought him sin- 
gular windfalls. One day there was brought to him in a ham- 
per, like a basket of oysters, a big baby, wrapped in rags and 
crying lustily, which a maid-servant, discharged six months 
previously, attributed to him. M. Gillenormand was at that 
time past his eighty-fourth year, and people around him be- 
came indignant and clamorous. " Does the impudent wench 
expect to make anybody believe that? What audacity! 
What an abominable calumny ! " M. Gillenormand, however, 
did not feel at all angry. He looked at the brat with the 
amiable smile of a man flattered by the calumny, and said to 
the company : " Well, what is the matter now ? Is that any- 
thing so wonderful that you should stand there like stuck 
pigs and display your ignorance? The Duke d'Angouleme, 
bastard of his Majesty Charles IX., married at the age of 
eighty-five a silly jade of fifteen; Monsieur Virginal, Mar- 
quis d'Alleuze, and brother of Cardinal de Sourdis, archbishop 
of Bordeaux, had, at the age of eighty-three, by the lady's 
maid of Madame Jacquin, the president's wife, a genuine love- 
child, who was a Knight of Malta and member of the 
Privy Council. One of the great men of this age, Abbe Tab- 
araud, is the son of a man of eighty-seven. These things are 
common enough; and then take the Bible! After this, I de- 
clare that this little gentleman is none of mine, but take care 
of him, for it is not his fault." The creature, the afore- 


said Magnon, sent him a second parcel the next year, also 
a boy, and M. Gillenormand thought it time to capitulate. 
He sent the two brats back to their mother, agreeing to pay 
eighty francs a month for their support, but on condition 
that the said mother was not to do so any more. He added, 
" I expect that the mother will treat them well ; and I shall 
go to see them now and then," which he did. 

He had a brother, a priest, who was for three-and-thirty 
years rector of the Poitiers academy, and died at the age of 
seventy-nine. " I lost him young," he would say. This brother, 
who is mostly forgotten, was a great miser, who, as he was 
a priest, thought himself bound to give alms to the poor whom 
he met; but he never gave them aught but bad or called-in 
money, thus finding means of going to hell by way of paradise. 
As for M. Gillenormand the elder, he never haggled over his 
alms, but gave cheerfully and generously ; he was benevolent, 
brusque, and charitable, and had he been rich, his declining 
years would have been magnificent. He liked everything that 
concerned him to be done grandly, even his rogueries. When 
he was swindled one day in the matter of an inheritance by a 
man of business, in a clumsy and evident way, he made the sol- 
emn remark : " Sir, that was very awkwardly done, and I am 
ashamed of such clumsiness. Everything has degenerated 
in this age, even the swindlers. Good gracious ! a man of my 
stamp ought not to be robbed in that way. I am plundered 
as if I were in a wood, but clumsily plundered: sylvce sint 
conside dignae! " He had married twice, as we said ; by his 
first wife he had a girl, who did not marry, and by the second 
another girl, who died at the age of thirty, and who had mar- 
ried, through love or chance, or otherwise, a soldier of fortune, 
who had served in the armies of the republic and the empire, 
won the cross at Austerlitz and his colonel's commission at 
Waterloo. " He is the disgrace of my family," the old 
gentleman used to say. He took a great deal of snuff, and 
had a peculiarly graceful way of shaking his shirt-frill with 

the back of his hand. He believed very little in God. 




SUCH was Luke Esprit Gillenormand, who had not lost his 
hair, which was rather gray than white, and which he 
always wore in " dog's-ears." Altogether he was venerable. 
He was a man of the eighteenth century, frivolous and grand. 

In 1814, and during the early years of the Restoration, M. 
Gillenormand, who was still young, he was only seventy- 
four, resided in the Rue Sirvandoni, near St. Sulpice, 
Faubourg St. Germain. He only retired to the Marias on 
leaving society, that is to say, long after his eightieth 

On leaving the world he immured himself in his habits; 
the chief one, and that which never varied, was to keep his 
door absolutely closed by day and receive nobody, no matter 
the nature of his business, till night. He dined at five, and 
then his door was thrown open; it was the fashion of his 
century, and he would not give it up. " The day is vulgar," 
he would say, " and deserves only closed shutters." People 
of fashion light up their wit when the zenith illumines its 
stars ; and he barricaded himself against everybody, even had 
it been the king, such was the antique elegance of his day. 



AS for M. Gillenormand's two daughters, they were born 
at an interval of ten years. In their youth they had 
resembled each other very slightly, either in character or 
countenance, and were as unlike sisters as possible. The 


younger was a charming creature, who turned to the light, 
loved flowers, poetry, and music, was enthusiastic, ethereal, 
and betrothed from her youth up in fancy to some heroic 
figure. The elder had her chimera too. She saw in the azure 
an army-contractor, some fat and very rich man, a splendidly 
stupid husband, a million converted into a man, or else a 
prefect; the receptions at the prefecture, the usher in the 
anteroom with a chain round his neck, the official balls, the ad- 
dresses at the Town Hall, to be " the prefect's wife," all 
this buzzed in her imagination. The two sisters wandered thus, 
each in her own dream, when they were girls, and both had 
wings, the one those of an angel, the other those of a 

No ambition is fully realized, at least not in this nether 
world; and no paradise becomes earthly in our age. The 
younger married the man of her dreams, but she died; while 
the elder did not marry at all. 

At the period when she enters into our narrative, she was 
an antique piece of virtue, an incombustible prude, with one 
of the sharpest noses and most obtuse minds imaginable. It 
is a characteristic fact that outside of her immediate family 
no one had ever known her Christian name; she was always 
called the elder Mademoiselle Gillenormand. 

In the matter of cant, Mademoiselle Gillenormand could 
have given points to a Miss; she was modesty carried to the 
verge of blackness. She had one frightful reminiscence in 
her life, one day a man saw her garter. 

Age had only heightened this pitiless modesty; her chem- 
isette was never sufficiently opaque, and never high enough. 
She multiplied brooches and pins at places where no one 
dreamed of looking. The peculiarity of prudery is to station 
the more sentries the less the fortress is menaced. 

Still, let who will explain these ancient mysteries of in- 
nocence, she allowed herself to be kissed without displeasure 
by an officer in the Lancers, who was her grand-nephew, and 
Theodule by name. 

In spite of this favoured lancer, however, the ticket of 


" Prude," which we have set upon her, suited her exactly. 
Mademoiselle Gillenormand was a sort of twilight soul, and 
prudery is a semi-virtue and a semi-vice 

She added to prudery the congenial lining of bigotry; she 
belonged to the Sisterhood of the Virgin, wore a white veil 
on certain saints' days, mumbled special orisons, revered " the 
holy blood," venerated " the sacred heart," remained for hours 
in contemplation before a rococo Jesuit altar in a chapel 
which was closed to the lower order of the faithful, and al- 
lowed her soul soar among little marble clouds and through 
large beams of gilded wood. 

She had a chapel friend, an old maid like herself, of the 
name of Vaubois, absolutely imbecile, and by whose side Mile. 
Gillenormand had the pleasure of being an eagle. Beyond 
the Agnus Dei and Ave Maria, Mile. Vaubois knew nothing 
except the different modes of making preserves. Perfect in 
her way, she was the ermine of stupidity without a single spot 
of intelligence. 

We must add that Mile. Gillenormand, as is the case with 
passive natures, rather gained than lost by growing old. She 
had never been ill-natured, which is relative goodness; and, 
then, years smooth angles. The softening influence of time 
had touched her. She had a vague melancholy, of which she 
herself did not possess the secret ; and about her entire person 
there was the stupor of a life finished, although never begun. 

She kept house for her father. M. Gillenormand had his 
daughter, as Monseigneur Beinvenu had his sister, to care for 
him. Such families, consisting of an old man and an old 
maid, are not rare, and have the ever-touching aspect of two 
weaknesses supporting each other. 

There was also in this house, between the old man and the 
old maid, a child, a little boy, who was always trembling and 
dumb in the old gentleman's presence. M. Gillenormand 
never spoke to this boy except in a stern voice, and sometimes 
with uplifted cane. " Come here, sir ! Scamp, scoundrel, 
come here. Answer me, fellow! Only let me look at you, 
vagabond ! " etc. He adored him. 

It was his grandson, and we shall meet him again. 





WHEN M. Gillenormand lived in the Rue Sirvandoni, 
he frequented several very good and aristocratic 
houses. Although a tradesman, M. Gillenormand was wel- 
come in them ; and as he had double measure of wit, namely, 
that which he had and that attributed to him, he was sought 
after and made much of. He never went anywhere save on 
condition of being the chief person present. There are some 
people who desire influence and to be talked about, no matter 
what price they pay; and when they cannot be oracles they 
make themselves buffoons. M. Gillenormand was not of that 
nature; and his domination in the royalist drawing-rooms 
which he frequented cost his self-respect nothing. He was 
an oracle everywhere, and sometimes held his own against M. 
de Bonald, and even M. Bengy-Puy-Valee. 

About 1817 he invariably spent two afternoons a week at 
the house of Baroness de T , a worthy and respectable 
person, whose husband was ambassador to Berlin under Louis 
XVI. Baron de T , who, when alive, was passionately de- 
voted to magnetic ecstasies and visions, died abroad a ruined 
man, leaving as his sole fortune ten MS. volumes bound in 
red morocco and gilt-edged, which contained very curious 



memoirs about Mesmer and his trough. Madame de T 

did not publish these memoirs through dignity, and lived on 
a small annuity which had escaped the wreck, no one knew 

how. Madame de T lived away from Court (" which 

was a very mixed society," as she said), in noble, proud, and 
poor isolation. A few friends gathered twice a week round 
her widowed hearth, and this constituted a purely royalist 
salon. Tea was handed, and people uttered, according as the 
wind veered toward elegy or dithyrambs, groans or cries of 
horror, at the age, the Charter, the Bonapartists, the prostitu- 
tion of the Blue Ribbon to untitled persons, and the Jacobin- 
ism of Louis XVIII. ; and they also whispered about the hopes 
based on Monsieur, afterward Charles X. 

Vulgar songs, in which Napoleon was called Nicholas, were 
greeted here with transports of delight. Duchesses, the most 
charming and delicate of ladies, went into ecstasies over coup- 
lets like the following, which were addressed to the " Fed- 
erals : " 

"Tuck into your trousers, friend, 

The shirt-tails which you . drag. 
Let no one say that patriots 
Would shelter the white flag." 

They amused themselves with puns which they fancied tre- 
mendous, with innocent jokes which they supposed venomous, 
with quatrains and even distichs. Here is one on the Des- 
solles Ministry, the moderate cabinet of which Decases and 
Deserre were members : 

" To plant the tottering throne firmly on its base, 
You must change the soil, the greenhouse, and the house." * 

or else they drew up a list of the House of Peers, " an 
abominably Jacobin chamber," and combined names on this 
list so as to form, for instance, phrases like the following: 
" Damas, Sabran, Gouvion de St. Cyr." All this merrily. 

i Untranslatable pun, founded on the words de sol (Dessolles), de serrt 
(Deserre), and de case (Decases). 


In that society the Revolution was parodied, and they had 
some desire to kindle the same passions in the contrary sense, 
and sang their fa ira. 

" Ah ! ?a ira ! a ira I ?a ira ! 
Les Buonapartist a la lanterne ! " 

Songs are like the guillotine, they cut off indiscrim- 
inately, to-day this head, and to-morrow that. It is only a 

In the Fualdes affair, which belongs to this period, 1816, 
they sided with Bastide and Jausion, because Fualdes was a 
" Bonapartist." They called the liberals " friends and broth- 
ers," and that was the last degree of insult. 

Like some church-steeples, the salon of the Baroness de 
T - had two cocks; one was M. Gillenormand, the other 
Count de Lamothe Valois, of whom they whispered with a sort 
of respect, " You know, the Lamothe of the necklace busi- 
ness." These singular amnesties occur between different 

Let us add this : among tradesmen honoured situations 
are impaired by too facile relations; care must be taken as 
to who is admitted. Just as there is a loss of caloric in the 
vicinity of cold persons, there is a diminution of respect in the 
approach of despised persons. The old high society held 
itself above this law, as above every other; Marigny, brother 
of the Pompadour, visited the Prince de Soubise, not al- 
though, but because he was her brother. Du Barry, god- 
father of the Vaubernier, was most welcome at the house of 
Marshal Richelieu. That world is Olympus, and Mercury 
and the Prince de Guemenee are at home in it. A robber is 
admitted there, provided he be a god. 

The Count de Lamothe, who, in 1815, was seventy-five years 
of age, had nothing remarkable about him beyond his silent 
and sententious air, his cold and angular face, his perfectly 
polite manners, his coat buttoned up to his chin, and his con- 
stantly crossed legs, covered with trousers of the colour of 
burnt sienna. His face was the same colour as his trousers. 


This M. de Lamothe was " esteemed " in this salon on ac- 
count of his " celebrity," and, strange to say, but true, on 
account of his name of Valois. 

As for M. Gillenormand, the respect felt for him was of 
perfectly good alloy. He was an authority; in spite of his 
levity, he had a certain imposing, dignified, honest, and 
haughty manner which did not at all detract from his gayety ; 
and his great age added to this. A man is not a century 
old with impunity. The years eventually form a venerable 
fence around a head. 

He made remarks, too, which had the true sparkle of the 
old school. Thus, when the king of Prussia, after restoring 
Louis XVIII., paid him a visit under the name of Count de 
Ruppin, he was received by the descendant of Louis XIV. 
somewhat as if he were Marquis de Brandebourg, and with 
the most delicate impertinence. M. Gillenormand approved. 
" All kings who are not king of France," he said, <(i are pro- 
vincial kings." One day the following question was asked, 
and the following answer given in his presence : " What has 
been done about the editor of the ' Courrier Fra^ais ' ? " 
" He is to be changed." " There's a c too much," M. Gil- 
lenormand dryly observed. 

At a Te Deum on the anniversary of the return of the 
Bourbons, he said on seeing Talleyrand pass : " There's his 
Excellency, the Evil One." 

M. Gillenormand was generally accompanied by his daugh- 
ter, a tall woman, who was over fifty and looked sixty, and 
by a pretty little boy of seven, red and white, fresh, with 
happy, confident eyes, who never appeared in that drawing- 
room without hearing voices buzz around him : " How pretty 
he is ! What a pity ! poor boy ! " This lad was the one to 
whom we referred just now, and he was called " poor boy " 
because he had for father " a brigand of the Loire." 

This brigand was that son-in-law of M. Gillenormand who 
has already been mentioned, and whom the old gentleman 
called the " disgrace of the family." 




ANY one who had passed at that period through the little 
town of Vernon and walked on the handsome stone 
bridge, which, let us hope, will soon be succeeded by some 
hideous wire bridge, might have noticed, on looking over the 
parapet, a man about fifty, wearing a leathern cap, trousers 
and waistcoat of coarse gray cloth, to which something yellow, 
which had once been a red ribbon, was sewn, shod with wooden 
shoes, his face tanned by the sun and almost black, his hair al- 
most white, a large scar on his forehead which ran down his 
cheek, bowed, and prematurely aged, who walked almost every 
day, spade and bill-hook in hand, in one of the walled en- 
closures near the bridge, which border, like a chain of terraces, 
the left bank of the Seine. They are delicious enclosures full 
of flowers, of which you might say, were they much larger, 
" they are gardens," and if they were a little smaller, " they 
are bouquets." All these enclosures join the river at one end 
and a house at the other. The man in the waistcoat and 
wooden shoes, to whom we have alluded, occupied in 1817 the 
smallest of these enclosures and the humblest of these houses. 
He lived there alone and solitary, silently and poorly, with a 
woman who was neither young nor old, neither pretty nor 
ugly, neither peasant nor townswoman, who waited on him. 
The plot of ground which he called his garden was celebrated 
in the town for the beauty of the flowers that he cultivated. 
These flowers were his occupation. 

By dint of toil, perseverance, attention, and buckets of 
water, he had succeeded in creating after the Creator ; and he 
had invented sundry tulips and dahlias which seemed to have 
been forgotten by Nature. He was ingenious, and forestalled 
Soulange Bodin in the formation of small patches of peat-soil 
for the growth of rare and precious shrubs from America and 


China. From daybreak in summer, he was in his garden- 
walks, pricking out, clipping, hoeing, watering, or moving 
among his flowers, with an air of kindness, sadness and gentle- 
ness. Sometimes he would stand thoughtful and motionless 
for hours, listening to the song of a bird in a tree, the prattle 
of a child in a house, or else gazing at a drop of dew on a 
blade of grass, which the sun converted into a carbuncle. He 
lived very plainly, and drank more milk than wine; a child 
could make him give way, and his servant scolded him. He 
was so timid that he seemed stern, went out rarely, and saw 
no one but the poor, who tapped at his window, and his priest 
Abbe Maboeuf, a good old man. Still, if the inhabitants of 
the town or strangers, curious to see his roses or tulips, came 
and tapped at his little door, he opened it with a smile. He 
was the " brigand of the Loire." 

Any one who at the same time read military memoirs and 
biographies, the " Moniteur," and the bulletins of the Grand 
Army, might have been struck by a name which pretty often 
turns up, that of George Pontmercy. When quite a lad, 
this Pontmercy was a private in the Saintonge regiment, and 
when the Revolution broke out this regiment formed part of 
the army of the Rhine, for the regiments of the monarchy kept 
their provincial names even after the fall of the monarchy, 
and were not divided into brigades till 1794. Pontmercy 
fought at Spires, Worms, Neustadt, Turkheim, Alzey, and at 
Mayence, where he was one of the two hundred who formed 
HouchsrcL's rear- guard. He, with eleven others, held out 
against the corps of the Prince of Hesse behind the old ram- 
part of Andernach, and did not fall back on the main body 
until the enemy's guns had opened a breach from the parapet 
to the foot of the glacis. He was under Kleber at Marchien- 
nes, and at the battle of Mont Palissel, where his arm was 
broken by a rifle-ball ; then he went to the Italian frontier, and 
was one of the thirty grenadiers who defended the Col de 
Tenda with Joubert. Joubert was appointed adjutant-gen- 
eral, and Pontmercy sub-lieutenant ; he was by Berthier's side 
in the midst of the grape-shot on that day at Lodi which 


made Bonaparte say, " Berthier was gunner, trooper, and 
grenadier." He saw his old general, Joubert, fall at Novi 
at the moment when he was shouting, with uplifted sabre, 
" Forward ! " Having embarked with his company on board 
a cutter which sailed from Genoa to some little port on the 
coast, he fell into a wasp's-nest of seven or eight English sail. 
The Genoese commandant wished to throw his guns into the 
sea, to hide the soldiers in the hold, and to slip by in the dark 
as a merchant vessel; but Pontmercy had the tricolour flag 
hoisted at the peak, and proudly passed under the guns of the 
British frigates. Twenty leagues farther on, his audacity in- 
creasing, he attacked and captured a large English transport 
conveying troops to Sicily, and so laden with men and horses 
that the vessel's deck was almost flush with the sea. In 1805 
he belonged to Malher's division, which took Gunzburg from 
the Archduke Ferdinand ; and at Weltingten he received in his 
arms, amid a shower of bullets, Colonel Maupetit, who was 
mortally wounded at the head of the 9th Dragoons. He dis- 
tinguished himself at Austerlitz in that admirable march in 
columns of companies performed under the enemy's fire; and 
when the Russian Imperial Horse Guards destroyed one of the 
battalions of the 4th line infantry, Pontmercy was among 
those who took their revenge and drove back those Guards. 
For this the Emperor gave him the cross. Pontmercy saw 
in turn Wurmser made prisoner at Mantua, Melas at Ales- 
sandria, and Mack at Ulm, and he belonged to the eighth 
corps of the Grand Army, which Mortier commanded, and 
which took Hamburg. Then he joined the 55th regiment of 
the line, which was the old regiment of Flanders; at Eylau, 
he was in the cemetery where the heroic Captain Louis Hugo, 
uncle of the author of this book, withstood with his company 
of eighty-three men, for two hours, the whole effort of the 
hostile army. Pontmercy was one of the three who left that 
cemetery alive. He was at Friedland; then he saw Moscow, 
the Beresina, Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Wachau, Leipsic, and 
the defiles of Gelenhausen ; then Montmirail, Chateau-Thierry, 
Craon, the banks of the Marne, the banks of the Aisne, and 


the formidable position of Lnon. At Arnay le Due, as 
captain, he put ten Cossacks to the sword, and saved not his 
general, but his corporal ; he was cut to pieces on this occasion, 
and seven-and-twenty splinters were taken out of his left 
arm alone. Eight days before the capitulation of Paris, he 
exchanged with a comrade and entered the cavalry ; for he 
had what was called by the old school a " double hand," that 
is to say, an equal aptitude in handling, as private, a sabre 
or musket, as officer, a squadron or a company. From this 
aptitude, improved by military education, certain special 
branches of the service sprang; for instance, the dragoons, 
who are at once cavalry and infantry. He accompanied 
Napoleon to Elba, and at Waterloo was a major of cuirassiers 
in Dubois's brigade. It was he who took the colours of the 
Luneburg battalion, and himself threw them at the Emperor's 
feet. He was covered with blood ; for, on seizing the colours, 
he received a sword-cut across the face. The Emperor, who 
was pleased, cried out to him, " You are a colonel, a baron, 
and an officer of the Legion of Honour ! " Pontmercy an- 
swered, " Sire, I thank you on behalf of my widow." An 
hour later, he fell into the ravine of Ohain. And now who 
was this George Pontmercy ? He was this same " brigand of 
the Loire." 

We have already seen some portion of his history. After 
Waterloo, Pontmercy, drawn, as we remember, out of the 
sunken road of Ohain, succeeded in rejoining the army, and 
dragged himself from ambulance to ambulance as far as the 
cantonments of the Loire. 

The Restoration put him on half-pay, and then sent him 
to Vernon under honourable supervision. King Louis 
XVIII., regarding all that was done during the Hundred 
Days as if it had not happened, recognized neither his rank 
as officer of the Legion of Honour, nor his commission as 
colonel, nor his title as baron. He for his part neglected no 
opportunity to sign himself, " Colonel Baron de Pontmercy." 
He had only one old blue coat, and never went out without 
attaching to it the rosette of the Legion of Honour. The at- 


torney for the crown advised him that he would be tried for 
" illegally " wearing this decoration, and when this hint was 
given him by an officious intermeddler, Pontmercy replied, 
with a bitter smile. " I do not know whether I no longer 
understand French, or whether you do not speak it, but the 
fact remains the same, I do not understand you." Then 
he went out for eight days in succession with his rosette, and 
the authorities did not venture to interfere with him. Twice 
or thrice the Minister of War and the general commanding the 
department wrote to him with the following superscription: 
" Commander Pontmercy ; " and he sent back the letters un- 
opened. At the same moment, Napoleon at St. Helena was 
treating in the same fashion the missives of Sir Hudson Lowe, 
addressed to " General Bonaparte." If we may be forgiven 
the remark, Pontmercy ended by being the very spit of his 
Emperor, as the common people say. 

So, too, there were at Rome, Carthaginian prisoners who 
refused to salute Flaminius, and who had a little of Han- 
nibal's spirit. 

One morning he met the attorney for the crown in one of 
the streets of Vernon, went up to him, and said, " Sir, am I 
allowed to wear my scar? " 

He had nothing but his scanty half-pay as chief of squad- 
ron; and he had taken the smallest house in Vernon, where 
he lived alone, as we have just seen. Under the empire, and 
between two wars, he found time to marry Mile. Gillenormand. 
The old tradesmen, who was indignant at heart, consented 
with a sigh, saying, " The greatest families are forced into 
it." In 1815, Madame Pontmercy, a most admirable woman 
in every respect, and worthy of her husband, died, leaving a 
child. This child would have been the colonel's delight in 
his solitude, but the grandfather imperiously claimed him, de- 
claring that if he were not given up to him, he would disin- 
herit him. The father yielded for the sake of the little one; 
and, deprived of his child, he took to loving flowers. 

He had, moreover, given up everything, neither agitating 
nor conspiring. He shared his thoughts between the innocent 


things which he was doing and the great things which he had 
done; and he spent his time in hoping for a carnation, or in 
calling to mind Austerlitz. 

M. Gillenormand kept up no relations with his son-in-law; 
the colonel was to him a " bandit," and he was to the colonel 
an " ass." M. Gillenormand never mentioned the colonel, ex- 
cept to make mocking allusions to " his barony." It was ex- 
pressly stipulated that Pontmercy should never attempt to see 
his son or to speak to him, under penalty of having him 
thrown on his hands disinherited. To the Gillenormands, 
Pontmercy was a man afflicted with the plague, and they in- 
tended to bring up the child after their own fashion. The 
colonel perhaps did wrong to accept these terms; but he en- 
dured them in the belief that he was acting rightly, and 
sacrificing himself alone. 

The inheritance of the grandfather was a small matter, but 
that of Mile. Gillenormand the elder was considerable; for 
this aunt was very rich on her mother's side, and her sister's 
son was her natural heir. The boy, whose name was Marius, 
knew that he had a father, but nothing more; and no one 
opened his lips to him on the subject. Still, in the society 
into which his grandfather took him, the whispers and winks 
and innuendoes eventually enlightened the boy's mind. He 
understood something at last; and, as he naturally accepted, 
by a sort of infiltration and slow penetration, the ideas and 
opinions which were, so to speak, the air that he breathed, he 
gradually came to think of his father only with shame and an 
aching heart. 

While he was growing up in this way, the colonel every 
two or three months came furtively to Paris, like a convict who 
is breaking his ban, and posted himself at St. Sulpice at the 
hour when Aunt Gillenormand took Marius to Mass. Trem- 
bling lest the aunt should turn round, concealed behind a 
pillar, motionless, and scarce daring to breathe, he gazed at 
his boy. The scarred warrior was afraid of the old maid. 

From this very circumstance rose his friendship with Abbe 
Maboeuf, priest of Vernon. 


This worthy priest had a brother, churchwarden of St. 
Sulpice, who had several times noticed this man contem- 
plating his child, and the scar on his cheek, and the big tears 
in his eye. This man, who looked so thoroughly manly, yet 
who wept like a child, impressed the churchwarden; and the 
face lingered in his memory. One day when he went to Vernon 
to see his brother, he met Colonel Pontmercy on the bridge, 
and recognized the man of St. Sulpice. The churchwarden 
told the story to the priest, and both made some excuse to pay 
a visit to the colonel. This visit led to others, and the colo- 
nel, though at first very reserved, eventually opened his heart, 
and the priest and the churchwarden learned the whole history, 
and how Pontmercy had sacrificed his own happiness to the 
future of his child. The result was that the priest felt a 
veneration and tenderness for him; and the colonel, on his 
side, took the priest into his affection. By the way, when both 
are equally sincere and good, no men amalgamate more easily 
than an old priest and an old soldier, for they are the same 
men at bottom. One devotes himself to his country here 
below, the other to his country above; that is the only dif- 

Twice a year, on January 1 and on St. George's Day, 
Marius wrote his father a duty letter dictated by, his aunt, 
which looked as if copied from a hand-book, for that was 
all M. Gillenormand tolerated; and the father sent very af- 
fectionate replies, which the grandfather thrust into his pocket 
without reading. 



THE parlours of Madame de T were all that Marius 
Pontmercy knew of the world, and they were the sole 
opening by which he could look out into life. This opening 
was gloomy; and more cold than heat, more night than day, 


reached him through this aperture. The boy, who was 
all joy and light when he entered this strange world, thus be- 
came, in a short time, sad, and, what is more contrary still to 
his age, serious. Surrounded by all these imposing and 
singular persons, he looked about him with grave surprise; 
and everything combined to increase his amazement. There 

were in Madame de T 's drawing-room certain old, noble, 

and very venerable ladies, named Mathan, Noe, Levis (pro- 
nounced Levi), and Cambis (pronounced Cambyse). These 
ancient faces and those Biblical names were mingled in the 
boy's mind with his Old Testament, which he learned by heart ; 
and when they were all present, seated in a circle round an ex- 
piring fire, in a room dimly lighted by a green-shaded lamp, 
with their severe profiles, their gray or white hair, their long 
dresses of another age, in which only mournful colours could 
be seen, uttering at lengthened intervals words at once ma- 
jestic and stern, little Marius regarded them with wondering 
eyes, and fancied that he saw not women, but patriarchs and 
Magi, not real beings, but ghosts. 

With these ghosts were mingled several priests, frequenters 

of this old salon, and a few gentlemen, Marquis de Sass , 

secretary to Madame de Berry ; Viscount de Val , who 

published odes under the pseudonym of Charles Antoine, 

Prince de Beauff , who, though still young, had a gray 

head and a clever, pretty wife, whose dress of scarlet velvet, 
fringed with gold, and cut very low in the neck, startled this 

gloom ; Marquis de C d'E , the Frenchman who best 

understood " the various shades of politeness ; " Count 

d'Am , a gentleman with a benevolent chin ; and Chevalier 

de Port de Guy, a pillar of the library of the Louvre, called 
the King's Cabinet. De Port de Guy, bald and rather aged 
than old, used to tell how, in 1793, when he was sixteen years 
of age, he was placed in the hulks as refractory, and chained 
to an octogenarian, the bishop of Mirepoix, also a refractory, 
but as priest, while he was so as soldier. It was at Toulon, and 
their duty was to go at night and collect on the scaffold the 
heads and bodies of persons guillotined during the day. They 


carried these dripping trunks on their backs, and their red 
convict blouses had at the nape of the neck a crust of blood 
which was dry in the morning and moist at night. These 
tragical narratives abounded in the salon of Madame de 

T , and from cursing Marat they came to applaud 

Trestaillon. A few deputies of the " undiscoverable " sort 
played their rubber of whist there; for instance, Thibord 
du Chalard, Lemarchant de Gomicourt, and the celebrated 
scoffer of the right division, Cornet Dincourt. The bailiff of 
Ferrette, with his knee-breeches and his thin legs, occasionally 
walked through the room on his way to Talleyrand's house; 
he had been a companion of Count d'Artois, and, unlike 
Aristotle crouching beneath Campaspe, he had made the 
Guimard crawl on all fours, and thus displayed to future ages 
a philosopher avenged by a bailiff. 

As for the priests, there was Abbe Halma, the same to 
whom Larose, his fellow-contributor to " La Foudre," said, 
"Pooh! Who is not fifty years of age? A few hobble-de- 
hoys, perhaps." Then came Abbe Letourneur, preacher to the 
king; Abbe Frayssinous, who at that time was neither bishop, 
count, minister, nor peer, and who wore a cassock from which 
buttons were absent ; and Abbe Keravenant, priest of St. Ger- 
main des Pres. To these we must add the Papal Nuncio, Mon- 
signore Macchi, archbishop of Nisibi, afterward cardinal, and 
remarkable for his long pensive nose ; and another monsignore, 
whose titles ran as follows : Abbate Palmieri, domestic prelate, 
one of the seven acting prothonotaries of the Holy See, canon 
of the glorious Liberian Basilica, and advocate of the saints, 
postulatore di Santi, an office relating to matters of canon- 
ization, and meaning, very nearly, referendary to the depart- 
ment of paradise. Finally, there were two cardinals, De la 
Luzerne and De Cl - T . Cardinal de Luzerne was an 
author, and was destined to have the honour a few years later 
of signing articles in the " Conservateur " side by side with 

Chateaubriand, while De Cl - T was archbishop of 

Toulouse, and frequently spent the summer in Paris with his 
nephew, Marquis de T , who had been minister of the ma- 


rine and of war. This cardinal was a merry little old gen- 
tleman, who displayed his red stockings under his well cut cas- 
sock. His specialty was a hatred of the encyclopaedia and 
a mad love of billiards ; and persons who on summer evenings 
passed along the Rue M , where the Marquis de T re- 
sided, stopped to listen to the click of the balls and the sharp 
voice of the cardinal crying to his conclavist Monseigneur 
Cottret, bishop in partibus of Caryste, " Mark me a carom, 

Cardinal de Cl T was introduced to Madame 

de T by his most intimate friend, De Roquelaure, ex- 
bishop of Senlis and one of the Forty. De Roquelaure 
was remarkable for his great height and his assiduity at 
the Academy. Through the glass door of the room ad- 
joining the library, in which the French Academy at that time 
met, curious persons could contemplate every Thursday the 
ex-bishop of Senlis usually standing with hair freshly 
powdered, in violet stockings, with his back to the door, appar- 
ently to display his little collar the better. All these ecclesi- 
astics, although for the most part courtiers as much as church- 
men, added to the gravity of the salon, to which five peers of 

France, the Marquis de Vib , the Marquis de Tal , the 

Marquis d'Herb , the Viscount Damb , and the Duke 

de Val , imparted a lordly tone. This Duke de Val , 

though Prince de Monaco, that is to say, a sovereign prince 
abroad, had so lofty an idea of France and the peerage that 
he viewed everything through their medium. It was he who 
said, " The cardinals are the peers of France of Rome, and 
the lords are the peers of France of England." Still, as in the 
present age, the Revolution must be everywhere, this feudal 
salon was ruled, as we have seen, by M. Gillenormand, a trades- 

It was the essence and quintessence of white Parisian so- 
ciety ; and reputations, even royalist ones, were kept in quaran- 
tine there, for there is always anarchy in reputation. Had 
Chateaubriand entered, he would have produced the effect of 
Pere Duchesne. Some converts, however, penetrated this or- 


thodox society through a spirit of toleration. Thus Count de 
Beug was admitted, subject to correction. 

The " noble " salons of the present day no longer resemble 
the one which I am describing, for the royalists of to-day, let 
us say it to their praise, are demagogues. 

At Madame de T 's the society was superior, and the 

taste exquisite and haughty under cover of a great show of 
politeness. Manners there displayed all sorts of involuntary 
refinements, which were the old school itself, still living though 
interred. Some of these habits, especially in the matter of 
language, seem whimsical ; and persons superficially acquainted 
with them would have taken for provincialism what was merely 
antiquated. They called a lady " Madame la Generale ; " 
and " Madame la Colonelle " had not entirely been laid aside. 
The charming Madame de Leon, doubtless remembering the 
Duchesses de Longueville and de Chevreuse, preferred that ap- 
pellation to her title of princess, and the Marchioness de 
Crequy was also called " Madame la Colonelle." 

It was this small high society which invented at the Tuileries 
the refinement of always speaking to the king in the third 
person, as the " king," and never as " your Majesty," as that 
form of address had been " sullied by the usurper." 

Facts and men were j udged there, and the age was ridiculed, 
which saved them the trouble of comprehending it. They 
assisted one another in amazement, and communicated to each 
other that amount of enlightenment which they possessed. 
Methuselah instructed Epimenides, and the deaf man set the 
blind man right. The time which had elapsed since Coblentz 
was declared not to have existed, and in the same way that 
Louis XVIII. was, Dei gratia, in the twenty-fifth year of his 
reign, the emigrants were de jure in the twenty-fifth year of 
their adolescence. 

Everything harmonized there ; no one was too lively, speech 
was like a breath, and the newspapers, in accordance with the 
salon, seemed a papyrus. There were a few young people, but 
they were rather dead. The liveries in the anteroom were 
old; and these personages who had completely passed away 


were served by foot-men of the same character. They all 
had an air of having lived a long time and of obstinately 
struggling against the tomb. To conserve, conservation, 
conservative, represented nearly their entire dictionary, and 
the question was " to be in good odour." There were really 
aromatics in the opinions of these venerable groups, and their 
ideas smelt of vervain. It was a mummied world, in which the 
masters were embalmed and the servants stuffed with straw. 

A worthy old marchioness, ruined by the emigration, who 
had only one woman-servant left, continued to say, " My peo- 

What did they do in Madame de T 's salon? They 

were ultra. 

This remark, though what it represents has possibly not 
disappeared, has no meaning at the present day, so let us ex- 
plain it. 

To be ultra is to go beyond. It is to attack the sceptre in 
the name of the throne, and the mitre in the name of the 
altar; it is to mismanage the affair you have in hand; it is 
to kick over the traces; it is to quarrel with the stake as to 
the degree of cooking which heretics should undergo ; it is to 
reproach the idol for its lack of idolatry ; it is to insult through 
excess of respect ; it is to find the Pope not enough of a Papist, 
the king too little of a royalist, and too much light in the 
night; it is to be dissatisfied with alabaster, snow, the swan, 
and the lily, on behalf of whiteness ; it is to be a partisan of 
things to such a pitch that you become their enemy; it is to 
be so strongly for, that you become against. 

The ultra spirit especially characterizes the first phase of 
the Restoration. 

Nothing in history ever resembled that quarter of an hour 
which begins in 1814 and terminates in 1820, with the acces- 
sion of De Villele, the practical man of the Right. These 
six years were an extraordinary moment; at once brilliant 
and silent, cheerful and gloomy, enlightened, as it were, by the 
radiance of dawn, and at the same time covered by the dark- 
ness of the great catastrophe which still filled the horizon and 


was slowly sinking into the past. There was in this light and 
this shadow a complete world, old and new, comic and melan- 
choly, juvenile and senile, rubbing its eyes; for nothing is so 
like a re-awaking as a return. There was a group that re- 
garded France angrily, and which France regarded ironically ; 
streets full of honest old owls of marquises, ci-devants, amazed 
at everything ; brave and noble gentlemen smiling because they 
were in France, but weeping also, ravished to see their coun- 
try again, and in despair at not finding their monarchy; the 
nobility of the Crusades spitting on the nobility of the em- 
pire, that is to say, of the sword; historic races that had 
lost all sense of history; sons of the companions of Charle- 
magne disdaining the companions of Napoleon. The swords, 
as we have said, hurled insults at each other, the sword of 
Fontenoy was ridiculous, and only a scrap of rusty iron ; the 
sword of Marengo was odious, and only a sabre. The olden 
times misunderstood yesterday, and no one had a feeling for 
what was great or for what was ridiculous. Some called 
Bonaparte " Scapin." This world no longer exists, and noth- 
ing connected with it, let us repeat, now remains. When we 
choose from it some one figure haphazard, and try to make 
it live again in thought, it seems to us as strange as the ante- 
diluvian world; and, in fact, it too was swallowed up by a 
deluge and disappeared under two revolutions. What waves 
ideas are! How quickly do they cover whatever it is their 
mission to destroy and to bury, and how promptly do they pro- 
duce frightful gulfs! 

Such was the aspect of the salon in those distant and can- 
did days when Martainville had more wit than Voltaire. 

These salons had a literature and politics of their own. 
They believed in Fievee, and Agier laid down the law there. 
Colnet, the publisher and bookseller of the Quay Malaquais, 
was commented on ; and Napoleon was thoroughly the Corsican 
ogre to them. At a later date the introduction into history 
of the Marquis de Buonaparte, lieutenant-general of the 
armies of the king, was a concession to the spirit of the age. 

These salons did not long remain pure, and in 1818, a few 


doctrinarians sprang up in them, an alarming shade of 
distinction. In matters of which the ultras were very proud, 
the doctrinarians were somewhat ashamed; they had wit, they 
had silence, their political dogma was properly starched with 
arrogance, and they should have succeeded. They carried 
white neckcloths and tightly buttoned coats to an excess, 
though this was useful. The mistake or misfortune of the 
doctrinarian party was in creating old youth; they assumed 
the attitude of sages, and dreamed of grafting a temperate 
power upon the absolute and excessive principle. They op- 
posed, and at times with rare sense, conservative liberalism, 
to the liberalism which demolishes, and they said, " Thanks 
for royalism, for it has rendered more than one service. It 
has brought back traditions, worship, religion, and respect. 
It is faithful, true, chivalric, loving, and devoted, and has 
blended though reluctantly, the secular grandeurs of the mon- 
archy with the new grandeurs of the nation. It makes a mis- 
take not to understand the Revolution, the empire, glory, 
liberty, young ideas, young generations, and the age; but do 
we not sometimes make the same mistake in regard to them? 
The Revolution, of which we are the heirs, ought to be intelli- 
gent on all points. To attack the royalists is the opposite 
of liberalism ; what a mistake and what blindness ! Revolu- 
tionary France lacks respect for historic France, that is to 
say, for its mother, for itself. After September 5, the no- 
bility of the monarchy were treated like the nobility of the 
empire after July 8; they were unjust to the eagle, and we 
are unjust to the fleur-de-lis. There always must be some- 
thing to proscribe! Does it serve any purpose to ungild the 
crown of Louis XIV. and to scratch off the escutcheon of 
Henri IV.? We sneer at De Vaublanc, who effaced the N's 
from the bridge of Jena, but he only did what we are doing. 
Bouvines belongs to us as much as Marengo, and the fleurs-de- 
lis are ours as well as the N's. They are our patrimony ; then 
why should we dimmish it? The country must be no more 
denied in the past than in the present. Why not accept the 
whole of history? Why not love the whole of France? 


It was thus that the doctrinarians criticised and protected 
the royalists, who were dissatisfied at being criticised, and 
furious at being protected. 

The ultras marked the first epoch of royalism, and the con- 
gregation characterized the second; skill succeeded impetu- 
osity. Let us close our sketch at this point. 

In the course of his narrative, the author of this book found 
on his road this jurious moment of contemporary history, 
and thought himself bound to take a passing glance at it 
and to retrace some of the singular features of this society 
which is unknown at the present day. But he has done so 
rapidly, and without any bitter or derisive idea, for affection- 
ate and respectful reminiscences connected with his mother at- 
tach him to this past. Moreover, let him add, this little world 
had a grandeur of its own, and though we may smile at it we 
cannot despise or hate it. It was the France of other days. 

Marius Pontmercy, like most children, received some sort 
of education. When he left the hands of Aunt Gillenormand, 
his grandfather confided him to a worthy professor of the 
purest classical innocence. This young mind, just expanding, 
passed from a prude to a pedant. 

Marius spent some years at college, and then entered the 
law-school; he was a royalist, a fanatic, and austere. He 
loved his grandfather but little ; the latter's gayety and cyn- 
icism ruffled him, and he was gloomy as regarded his father. 

In other respects he was an ardent yet cold, noble, gen- 
erous, proud, religious, and exalted youth; dignified almost 
to harshness, and pure almost to ferocity. 




close of Marius's classical studies coincided with M. 
A Gillenormand's retirement from society; the old gentle- 
man bade farewell to the Faubourg St. Germain and Madame 

de T 's drawing-room, and withdrew to his house in the 

Marais. His servants were, in addition to the porter, Nico- 
lette, that maid who succeeded Magnon, and the wheezing, 
short-winded Basque to whom we have already alluded. 

In 1827, Marius attained his seventeenth year. On coming 
home one evening he saw his grandfather holding a letter in 
his hand. 

" Marius," said M. Gillenormand, " you will start to-mor- 
row for Vernon." 

" Why ? " asked Marius. 

" To see your father." 

Marius trembled, for he had thought of everything except 
this, that he might one day be obliged to see his father. 
Nothing could be more unexpected, more surprising, and, let 
us add, more disagreeable to him. It was estrangement forced 
into reconciliation, and it was not so much an annoyance as a 

Marius, in addition to his motives of political antipathy, 
was convinced that his father " the slasher," as M. Gill- 
enormand called him on his good-tempered days did not 
love him ; that was evident, as he had abandoned him thus, and 
left him to others. Not feeling himself beloved, he did not 
love; and he said to himself that nothing could be 'simpler. 

He was so surprised that he did not question his grand- 
father, but M. Gillenormand continued : 

" It seems that he is ill, and asks for you." And after a 
pause he added: " Start to-morrow morning. I believe there 


is a coach which leaves at six o'clock and gets to Vernon at 
nightfall. Go by it, for he says that the matter presses." 

Then he crumpled up the letter and put it in his pocket. 
Marius could have started the same night and have been with 
his father the next morning; a diligence at that time used to 
run at night to Rouen, passing through Vernon. But neither 
M. Gillenormand nor Marius dreamed of inquiring. 

On the evening of the following day Marius reached Vernon 
and asked the first passer-by for the house of " Monsieur 
Pontmercy." For in his own mind he was of the same 
opinion as the Restoration, and did not recognize his father's 
claim to the title of either baron or colonel. 

The house was pointed out; he rang, and a woman hold- 
ing a small hand-lamp opened the door. 

" Monsieur Pontmercy ? " asked Marius. 

The woman stood motionless. 

" Is this his house ? " continued Marius. 

The woman nodded her head. 

"Can I speak to him?" 

The woman shook her head. 

" But I am his son," added Marius ; " and he expects me." 

" He no longer expects you," said the woman. 

Then he saw that she was crying. 

She pointed to the door of a parlour, and he went in. 

In this room, which was lighted by a tallow candle placed 
on the mantelpiece, there were three men, one standing, one on 
his knees, and one lying at full length upon the floor, in his 
shirt. The one on the floor was the colonel; the other two 
were a physician, and a priest engaged in prayer. 

The colonel had been attacked by brain fever three days 
before, and, having a foreboding of evil, he wrote to M. 
Gillenormand, asking for his son. The illness grew worse, 
and on the evening of Marius's arrival at Vernon, the colonel 
had an attack of delirium. He leaped out of bed, in spite of 
the maid-servant, crying, " My son does not come, I will go 
to meet him." Then he left his bedroom and fell on the floor 
of the ante- room; he had just expired. 


The physician and the priest were summoned, but both ar- 
rived too late ; the son had also arrived too late. 

By the dim light of the candle, a big tear, which had fallen 
from the colonel's dead eye, could be seen on his pallid cheek. 
The eye was lustreless, but the tear was not dry. That tear 
was caused by his son's delay. 

Marius gazed upon the man whom he saw for the first time 
and the last, upon that venerable and manly face, those open 
eyes which no longer saw, that white hair, and the robust limbs 
upon which could be distinguished here and there brown lines, 
which were sabre-cuts, and red stars, which were bullet holes. 
He gazed at the gigantic scar which stamped heroism on that 
face, upon which God had imprinted goodness. He thought 
that this man was his father, and that this man was dead, and 
he remained unmoved. 

The sorrow which he felt was such as he would have felt in 
the presence of any other man whom he might have seen lying 
dead before him. 

Mourning and lamentation were in that room. The maid- 
servant was weeping in a corner, the priest was praying and 
sobbing, the physician wiped his eyes; the corpse itself wept. 

The physician, priest and woman looked at Marius through 
their affliction without saying a word. Marius, who was so 
little affected, felt ashamed and embarrassed at his own atti- 
tude, and he let the hat, which he held in his hand, fall to 
the ground, in order to induce a belief that sorrow deprived 
him of the strength to hold it. At the same he felt a sort 
of remorse, and despised himself for acting thus. But was 
it his fault? He did not love his father. Why should he! 

The colonel left nothing, and the sale of the furniture 
scarce covered the funeral expenses. 

The maid-servant found a scrap of paper, which she handed 
to Marius. On it were the following lines, written by the 
colonel : 

"For my son: The Emperor made me a baron on the field of Water- 
loo. As the Restoration disputes my right to this title, which I pur- 
chased with my blood, my son will assume it and wear it. Of course 
he will be worthy of it." 

"The physician and the priest were summoned, but both arrived too 
late; the son had also arrived too late." 

Let Miterables. Marius: Page 58. 


On the back the colonel had added : 

"At this same battle of Waterloo a sergeant saved my life; his name 
is Thenardier, and I believe that he has recently kept a small inn in a 
village near Paris, either Chelles or Montfermeil. If my son meet this 
Thenardier he will do all he can for him." 

Not through any affection for his father, but owing to that 
vague respect for death which is ever so imperious in the 
heart of man, Marius took the paper and put it away. 

Nothing was left of the colonel. M. Gillenormand sold 
his sword and uniform to an old-clothes man; the neighbours 
plundered the garden and carried off the rare flowers. The 
other plants became brambles and died. 

Marius remained only forty-eight hours in Vernon. Af- 
ter the funeral he returned to Paris and his legal studies, 
thinking no more of his father than if he had never existed. 
In two days the colonel was buried, and in three forgotten. 

Marius wore crape on his hat, and that was all. 



MARIUS had retained the religious habits of his child- 
hood. One Sunday, when he went to hear Mass at 
St. Sulpice, in the same Lady's chapel to which his aunt took 
him when a boy, being on that day more than usually absent- 
minded and thoughtful, he placed himself behind a pillar, and 
knelt, without paying attention to the fact, upon a plush 
chair, on the back of which was written, " Monsieur Mabauf, 
churchwarden." The Mass had scarce begun when an old 
gentleman presented himself and said to Marius : 
" This is my place, sir." 


Harms at once stepped aside, and the old gentleman took 
bis seat. 

When Mass was ended Marius stood, lost in thought, a 
few steps away; the old gentleman came up to him and 
said : 

" I ask your pardon, sir, for having disturbed you just 
now, and for troubling you afresh now; but you must have 
considered me ill-bred, and so I wish to explain the matter 
to you." 

" It is unnecessary, sir," said Marius. 

" No, it is not," continued the old man, " for I do not wish 
you to have a bad opinion of me. I am attached to this seat, 
and it seems to me that the Mass is better from here, and I 
will tell you why. To this spot, I saw for ten years, at reg- 
ular intervals of two or three months, a poor, good father 
come who had no other opportunity or way of seeing his son, 
because they were separated through family arrangements. 
He came at the hour when he knew that his son would be 
brought to Mass. The boy did not suspect that his father 
was here, perhaps did not know, poor innocent, that he had 
a father. The latter kept behind a pillar so that he might 
not be seen, looked at his child and wept; for the poor man 
adored the little fellow, as I could see. This spot has become 
as it were, hallowed to me, and I have fallen into the habit 
of hearing Mass here. I prefer it to the bench to which I 
have a right as church-warden. I knew the unfortunate gen- 
tleman slightly. He had a father-in-law, a rich aunt, and 
other relatives, who threatened to disinherit the boy if the 
father ever saw him; and he sacrificed himself that his son 
might one day be rich and happy. They were separated on 
account of political opinions ; and though I certainly approve 
of political opinions, there are persons who do not know where 
to stop." 

" Good gracious ! because a man was at Waterloo, he is not 
a monster; a father should not be separated from his child 
on that account. He was one of Bonaparte's colonels, and 
is dead I believe. He lived at Vernon, where my brothex 


is priest, and his name was something like Pontmarie, Mont- 
percy. He had, on my word, a splendid sabre-cut." 

" Pontmercy ! " said Marius, turning pale. 

"Precisely, Pontmercy; did you know him?" 

" He was my father, sir." 

The old churchwarden clasped his hands and exclaimed : 

'* Ah, you are the boy ! Yes, yes, he would be a man now. 
Well, poor boy, you may say that you had a father who loved 
you dearly." 

Marius offered his arm to the old gentleman, and conducted 
him to his house. 

The next day he said to M. Gillenormand : 

" Some friends of mine have arranged a shooting party ; 
will you allow me to go away for three days ? " 

" Four," answered the grandfather ; " go and amuse your- 

He whispered to his daughter with a wink : 

" Some love affair." 



WHERE Marius went, we shall learn presently. 
He was away three days, then returned to Paris, went 
straight to the Library of the Law-School, and asked for a 
file of the " Moniteur." 

He read it; he read all the histories of the Republic and 
the Empire; the Memorial of St. Helena, all the memoirs, 
journals, bulletins, and proclamations, he fairly devoured 
them. The first time that he came across his father's name 
in a bulletin of the Grand Army, he had a fever for a whole 
week. He called upon the generals under whom George Pont- 
mercy had served; among others, Count H . The 


churchwarden, Maboeuf, whom he went to see again, told him 
of the life at Vernon, the colonel's retirement, his flowers, and 
his solitude. Marius at last acquired a perfect knowledge of 
that rare, sublime, and gentle man, that species of lion- 
lamb, who had been his father. 

While occupied with this study, which filled all his moments 
as well as all his thoughts, he scarce ever saw the Gillenor- 
mands. He appeared at meals, but when sought for after 
them, he could not be found. His aunt sulked, but old Gille- 
normand smiled. " Pooh! pooh ! he is just the age for girls." 
Sometimes the old man would add ; " Confound it, I thought 
that it was an affair of gallantry, but it seems that it is a 

It was a passion, in truth; for Marius was beginning to 
adore his father. 

At the same time an extraordinary change took place in 
his ideas, and the phases of this change were numerous and 
successive. As this is the history of many minds in our day, 
we deem it useful to follow these phases step by step, and to 
indicate them all. 

The history which he had just read startled him, and the 
first effect was bewildering. 

The Republic, the Empire, had hitherto been to him but 
monstrous words, the Republic, a guillotine in the twi- 
light ; the Empire, a sabre in the night. He had looked into 
it, and where he expected to find only a chaos of darkness, 
he had seen, with a sort of extraordinary surprise mingled 
with fear and delight, flashing stars, Mirabeau, Vergniaud, 
St. Just, Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins, and Danton, 
and a sun rise, Napoleon. He knew not where he was; and 
he shrank back, blinded by the brilliancy. Gradually, when 
the first surprise had worn off, he grew accustomed to this 
radiance. He considered those deeds without dizziness, and 
examined those personages without terror ; the Revolution and 
the Empire stood out in luminous perspective before his men- 
tal vision. He saw each of these groups of events and facts 
summed up in two tremendous facts* the Revolution in the 


sovereignty of civic right restored to the masses, the Empire 
in the sovereignty of the French idea imposed on Europe ; he 
saw the great figure of the people emerge from the Revolution, 
the great figure of France from the Empire; and he declared 
to himself in his conscience that all this was good. 

What was his bewilderment neglected in this first apprecia- 
tion, which was far too synthetic, we do not think it necessary 
to indicate here. We are describing the state of a mind on the 
march. Progress is not completed in a single stage. This 
said, once for all, in regard to what precedes and what is to 
follow, we will continue. 

He then perceived that up to this moment he had under- 
stood his country no better than he had his father. He had 
known neither the one nor the other, and a sort of voluntary 
night blinded his eyes. He now saw ; and on one side he ad- 
mired, on the other he adored. 

He was full of regret and remorse, and he thought with 
despair that he could now tell only to a tomb all that he had in 
his mind. Of, if his father were alive, if he still had him, if 
God in His compassion and His goodness had allowed his 
father to be still alive, how he would have hastened, how he 
would have rushed, how he would have cried to his father: 
" Father ! Here I am ! It is I ! I have the same heart as 
you ! I am your son ! " How he would have kissed his white 
head, bathed his hair with his tears, gazed at his scar, pressed 
his hands, adored his clothes, and embraced his feet! Oh, 
why did his father die so soon, before his time, before justice 
had been done him, before he had known his son's love? 
Marius had a constant sob in his heart, which perpetually 
said : " Alas ! " At the same time, he became more truly 
serious, more truly grave, more sure of his faith and his 
thought. At each instant, gleams of truth came to complete 
his reason; an inward growth seemed going on within him. 
He was conscious of a sort of natural increase produced by the 
two things so new to him, his father and his country. 

As a door is easily opened when we hold the key, so he 
explained to himself what he had hated, and understood what 


he had abhorred. Henceforth he saw clearly the providential, 
divine, and human meaning of the great things which he had 
been taught to detest, and the great men whom he had been 
instructed to curse. When he thought of his former opinions, 
which were but of yesterday, and which yet seemed to him so 
old, he felt indignant, and yet he smiled. 

From the rehabilitation of his father, he had naturally 
passed to that of Napoleon ; but the latter, we must confess, 
was not effected without labour. 

From childhood he had been imbued with the judgments 
of the party of 1814 about Bonaparte; now, all the prejudices 
of the Restoration, all its interests and all its instincts, tended 
to disfigure Napoleon, and it execrated him even more than 
it did Robespierre. It had rather cleverly profited by the 
weariness of the nation and the hatred of mothers. Bona- 
parte had become a sort of fabulous monster; and in order 
to depict him to the imagination of the people, which, as we 
said just now resembles that of children, the party of 1814 
brought him forward in turn under all sorts of frightful 
masks, from those which are terrible, although still grand, 
down to those which are terrible and also grotesque, from 
Tiberius down to old Bogy. Hence, in speaking of Bona- 
parte, people were at liberty to sob or to burst with laughter, 
provided that hatred underlay the feeling. Marius had never 
had on the subject of " that man," as he was called, any other 
ideas but these in his mind; and they were combined with his 
natural tenacity. There was a headstrong little man within 
him who hated Napoleon. 

On reading history, on studying him, especially in histor- 
ical documents and materials, the veil which hid Napoleon 
from Marius's sight was gradually rent asunder; he caught 
a glimpse of something immense, and suspected that up to 
this moment he had been mistaken about Bonaparte, as about 
all the rest. Each day he saw more clearly; and he began 
to climb slowly, step by step, almost reluctantly at first, then 
with intoxication, and as if attracted by an irresistible facina- 
tion, first, the gloomy steps, then the dimly lighted steps, 


and at last the luminous and splendid steps of enthusiasm. 

One night he was alone in his little garret, his candle was 
lighted, and he was reading at a table by the open window. 
All sorts of reveries reached him from space, and mingled with 
his thoughts. What a spectacle is night! We hear dull 
sounds and know not whence they come ; we see Jupiter, which 
is twelve hundred times larger than the earth, glowing like a 
fire-ball ; the blue sky is black, the stars sparkle, and the whole 
forms a formidable sight. 

He was reading the bulletins of the Grand Army, those 
Homeric strophes written on the battle-field; he saw in them 
at intervals his father's name, and ever that of the Emperor. 
The whole of the great empire rose before him ; he felt, as it 
were, a tide within him swelling and mounting; it seemed at 
moments as if his father passed close to him like a breath, 
and whispered in his ear; strange feelings gradually over- 
came him ; he fancied that he heard drums, cannon, and bu- 
gles, the measured tread of battalions and the dull, distant 
gallop of cavalry. From time to time his eyes were raised 
heavenward and surveyed the colossal constellations flashing 
in the measureless depths ; then they fell again upon the book, 
and there he saw other colossal things stirring confusedly. 
His heart was contracted, he was transported, trembling and 
gasping; and all at once, without knowing what was within 
him or what impulse he obeyed, he sprang up, stretched his 
arms out of the window, and looked fixedly into the shadow, 
the silence, the dark infinitude, the eternal immensity, and 
shouted, " Long live the Emperor ! " 

From this moment all was over. The ogre of Corsica, the 
usurper, the tyrant, the monster who was the lover of his own 
sisters, the actor who took lessons of Talma, the poisoner of 
Jaffa, the tiger, Bonaparte, all this faded away and gave 
place in his mind to a vague, bright radiance in which the 
pale marble phantom of Caesar shone serenely at an inacces- 
sible height. The Emperor had never been to his father more 
than the beloved captain whom a man admires, and for whom 
he sacrifices self; but to Marius he was far more. He was 


the predestined constructor of the French group, which suc- 
ceeded the Roman group in the dominion of the universe ; he 
was the prodigious architect of an earthquake, the successor 
of Charlemagne, Louis XL, Henri IV., Richelieu, Louis XIV., 
and the Committee of Public Safety. He had doubtless his 
blemishes, his faults, and even his crimes, that is to say, he 
was a man; but he was august in his faults, brilliant in his 
blemishes, and powerful in his crime. 

He was the predestined man who compelled all nations to 
say, " The great nation ! " He was even more ; he was the 
very incarnation of France, conquering Europe by the sword 
which he held, and the world by the lustre which he emitted. 
Marius saw in Bonaparte the dazzling spectre which will ever 
stand on the frontier and guard the future. He was a des- 
pot, but a dictator, a despot resulting from a republic, and 
summing up a revolution. Napoleon became for him the man- 
people, as the Saviour is the man-God. 

As we see, after the fashion of all new converts to religion, 
his conversion intoxicated him; he dashed headlong into faith 
and went too far. His nature was such; once upon a down- 
ward slope, it was impossible to check himself. Fanaticism 
for the sword seized upon him, and complicated in his mind 
enthusiasm for the idea. He did not perceive that he ad- 
mired force as well as genius, that is to say, installed in the 
two shriner of his idolatry, on one side that which is divine, 
on the other that which is brutal. He also deceived himself 
on several other points, though in a different way. He ad- 
mitted everything. There is a way of encountering error by 
going to meet the truth. He had a sort of violent good faith 
which accepts everything unconditionally. In the new path 
on which he had entered, in judging the errors of the ancient 
regime as in measuring the glory of Napoleon, he neglected 
the attentuating circumstances. 

However this might be, a prodigious step had been taken. 
Where he had once seen the downfall of monarchy he now saw 
the accession of France. The points of his moral compass 
were changed, and what had once been sunset was now sunrise. 


All these revolutions took place within him, without his 
family suspecting it. 

When, in this mysterious labour, he had entirely lost his 
old Bourbonic and ultra skin, when he had cast off the aristo- 
crat, the Jacobin, and the royalist, when he was a perfect 
revolutionist, profoundly democratic, and almost republican, 
he went to an engraver and ordered one hundred cards, with 
the address, " Baron Marius Pontmercy." 

This was but the logical consequence of the change which 
had taken place in him, a change in which everything gravi- 
tated round his father. 

Still, as he knew nobody, and could not leave his cards at 
anybody's door, he put them in his pocket. 

By another natural consequence, in proportion as he drew 
nearer to his father, to his memory, and to the things for 
which the colonel had fought during five-and-twenty years, 
he drew away from his grandfather. As we said, M. 
Gillenormand's humour had not suited him for a long time 
past, and there already existed between them all the diso- 
nances produced by the contact of a grave young man with 
a frivolous old man. The gayety of Geronte offends and ex- 
asperates the melancholy of Werther. So long as the same 
political opinions and ideas had been common to them both, 
Marius met his grandfather upon them as on a bridge, but 
when the bridge fell there was a great gulf between them; 
and then, besides all else, Marius had indescribable attacks of 
revolt when he reflected that it was M. Gillenormand, who, 
from stupid motives, pitilessly tore him from the colonel, 
thus depriving father of son and son of father. 

Through his reverence for his father, Marius had almost 
grown into an aversion for his grandfather. 

Nothing of this, however, was revealed in his demeanour, 
He merely became colder than before, laconic at meals, and 
was rarely at home. When his aunt scolded him for it, he 
was very gentle, and alleged as excuse his studies, examina- 
tions, lectures, etc. His grandfather, however, still adhered 


to his infallible diagnosis, " He is in love ; I know the symp- 

Marius was absent every now and then. 

" Where does he go ? " asked the aunt. 

In one of his trips, which were always very short, he went 
to Montfermeil in order to obey his father's injunction, and 
sought for the ex-sergeant of Waterloo, Thenardicr, the tav- 
ern-keeper. Thenardier had failed, the public-house was 
shut up, and no one knew what had become of him. In mak- 
ing this search, Marius remained away for four days. 

" He is getting decidedly dissipated," said his grand- 

They also thought they noticed that he wore something 
under his shirt fastened round his neck by a black ribbon. 



WE have alluded to a lancer. 
He was a great-grand-nephew of M. Gillenormand, 
on the father's side, who led a garrison life, far away from 
the domestic hearth. Lieutenant Theodule Gillenormand ful- 
filled all the conditions required to make a handsome officer; 
he had a " lady's waist," a victorious way of clanking his 
sabre, and turned-up mustaches. He came very rarly to Paris, 
so rarely that Marius had never seen him, and the two 
cousins knew each other only by name. Theodule was, we 
think we said, the favourite of Aunt Gillenormand, who pre- 
ferred him because she never saw him ; for not seeing people 
allows us to attribute every possible perfection to them. 

One morning Mile. Gillenormand the elder returned to her 
apartments as much affected as her general placidity would 
allow, Marius had again asked his grandfather's permission 


to make a short trip, adding that he wished to start that same 
evening. " Go," answered the grandfather ; and he added 
to himself, as he raised his eyebrows to the very top of his 
forehead, " Another fit of sleeping from home." Mile. 
Gillenormand went up to her room greatly puzzled, and on 
the staircase dropped this exclamation, " It's too much ! " and 
this question, " But where does he go ? " She spied some 
more or less illicit love affair, some woman in the shadow ; 
a meeting, a mystery, and would not have been sorry to get a 
closer look at it through her spectacles. Scenting a mystery is 
like the first bite at a piece of scandal, and holy souls are not 
averse to this. In the secret compartments of bigotry there 
is some curiosity for scandal. 

She was, therefore, suffering from a vague appetite to 
learn a story. In order to distract this curiosity, which agi- 
tated her a little beyond her wont, she took refuge in her 
talents, and began scalloping, with cotton upon cotton one 
of those embroideries of the Empire and the Restoration, in 
which there are a great many cart-wheels. It was a clumsy 
job, and the workwoman was cross. She had been sitting 
over it for some hours when the door opened. Mile. Gillenor- 
mand raised her nose ; Lieutenant Theodule stood before her, 
making his regulation salute. She uttered a cry of delight; 
for a woman may be old, a prude, devout, and an aunt, but 
she is always glad to see a lancer enter her room. 

" You here, Theodule ! " she exclaimed. 

" On my way through town, aunt." 

" Well, kiss me." 

" There ! " said Theodule as he kissed her. Aunt Gillenor- 
mand walked to her secretary and opened it. 

" You will stop the week out? " 

" My dear aunt, I am off again to-night." 

" Impossible ! " 

" Yet it is so." 

" Stay, my dear Theodule, I entreat you." 

" My heart says Yes, but duty says No. The story is very 
simple: we are changing garrison; we were at Meluii and are 


sent to Gaillon. In order to reach the new garrison, we were 
obliged to pass through Paris ; and I said to myself ; ' I will 
go and see my aunt.' ' 

" And here's for your trouble." 

And she slipped ten louis into his hand. 

" You mean to say for my pleasure, dear aunt." 

Theodule kissed her a second time, and she had the pleas- 
ure of having her neck slightly scratched by his gold-laced 

" Are you travelling on horseback with your regiment ? " 

" No, aunt ; I come to see you by special permission. My 
servant is leading my horse, and I shall travel by the dili- 
gence. By the way, there is one thing I want to ask you." 

"What is it?" 

" It appears that my cousin, Marius Pontmercy, is going 
on a journey, too." 

" How do you know that ? " said the aunt, her curiosity 
being greatly tickled. 

" On reaching Paris I went to the coach-office to take my 
place in the coupe" 


" A traveller had already taken a seat in the imperial, and 
I saw his name in the way-bill ; it was Marius Pontmercy." 

" Oh, the scamp ! " exclaimed the aunt. " Ah, your cousin 
is not a steady lad like you. To think that he is to pass the 
night in a diligence ! " 

" Like myself." 

" But it is your duty ! he does it from dissipation." 

" The deuce ! " said Theodule. 

Here an event occurred to Mile. Gillenormand the elder; 
she had an idea. Had she been a man she would have slapped 
her forehead. She addressed Theodule: 

" Do you know whether your cousin knows you ? " 

" No. I have seen him ; but he never deigned to notice 

" You are sure that you are to travel together? " 

" He in the imperial, I in the coupe." 


"Where does this diligence run?" 

" To Andelys." 

" Is Marius going there ? " 

" Unless he stops on the road, like myself. I get out at 
Vernon to take the Gaillon coach. I know nothing about 
Marius's route." 

" Marius ! what an odious name ! What an idea to call 
him Marius ! Well, your name, at least, is Theodule." 

" I would rather it was Alfred," said the officer. 

"Listen, Theodule." 

" I am listening, aunt." 

"Pay attention." 

" I am paying attention." 

"You hear me?" 


" Well, Marius absents himself from home." 

"Eh, eh!" 

" He travels about the country." 

"Ah, ah!" 

" He sleeps out." 

Oh, oh!" 

" We should like to know the meaning of all this." 

Theodule replied, with the calmness of a man of bronze, 
" some petticoat ! " And with that inward chuckle which de- 
notes certainty, he added : " a girl ! " 

" That is evident ! " exclaimed the aunt, who thought she 
heard M. Gillenormand speak, and who felt her conviction 
become irresistible at the word " girl," accenuated almost in 
the selfsame way by grand-uncle and grand-nephew. She 
continued : 

" Do us a favour. Follow Marius a little. As he does not 
know you, it will be an easy matter. Since there is a girl in 
the case, try to get a look at her; and write and tell us all 
about it, for it will amuse his grandfather." 

Theodule had no excessive inclination for this sort of spy- 
ing, but he was greatly affected by the ten louis, and he 
thought he saw a chance for the continuation of such gifts. 


He accepted the commission, and said, " As you please, 
aunt," and added in an aside, " I am a duenna now ! " 

Mile. Gillenormand kissed him. 

" You would not play such tricks as that, Theodule. You 
obey orders, are the slave of duty, and a scrupulous fellow. 
You would never leave your family to go and see a creature." 

The lancer made the satisfied grimace of Cartouche when 
praised for his probity. 

Marius, on the evening following this dialogue, got into 
the diligence, not suspecting that he was watched. As for 
the watcher, the first thing he did was to fall asleep, and his 
sleep was complete and conscientious. Argus snored the 
whole night. 

At daybreak the guard shouted, " Vernon ; passengers for 
Vernon, get out here ! " and Lieutenant Theodule awoke. 

" All right," he growled, still half asleep ; " I get out here." 

Then, his memory growing gradually clearer, he thought 
of his aunt, the ten louis, and the account he had promised to 
render of Marius's sayings and doings. This made him 

" He is probably no longer in the coach," he thought, as 
he rebuttoned the waistcoat of his undress uniform. " He 
may have stopped at Poissy ; he may have stopped at Triel ; 
if he did not get out at Meulan, he may have done so at 
Mantes, unless he stopped at Rolleboise, or only went as far 
as Passy, with the choice of turning to the left at Estreux, 
or to the right to La Rocheguyon. Run after him, aunty. 
What the deuce shall I write to the old lady ? " 

At this moment the leg of a black trouser descending from 
the imperial appeared at the window of the coupe. 

" Can it be Marius? " said the lieutenant. 

It was Marius. 

A little peasant girl in among the horses and the postilions, 
at the end of the coach, was offering flowers to the passen- 
gers, and crying, " Bouquets for your ladies." 

Marius went up to her, and bought the finest flowers in 
her basket. 


" By jove! " said Theodule, as he leaped out of the coupe, 
" this is growing piquant. Who the deuce is he going to 
carry those flowers to? She must be a deucedly pretty woman 
to deserve so handsome a bouquet. I must have a look at 

And then he followed Marius, no longer by order, but from 
personal curiosity, like those dogs which hunt on their own 

Marius paid no attention to Theodule. Some elegant 
women got out of the diligence, but he did not look at them ; 
he seemed to see nothing around him. 

" He must be precious deep in love," thought Theodule. 

Marius proceeded toward the church. 

" That's good! " Theodule said to himself. " The church, 
that's the thing. Rendezvous spiced with a small amount 
of Mass are the best sort. Nothing is so exquisite as an 
ogle exchanged in the presence of the Virgin." 

On reaching the church, Marius did not enter, but disap- 
peared behind one of the buttresses of the apse. 

" The meeting is to be outside," said Theodule ; " now for 
a look at the girl." And he walked on tiptoe to the corner 
which Marius had just turned. 

On reaching it, he stopped in amazement. 

Marius, with his head in his hands, was kneeling in the 
grass upon a grave, and had strewed his flowers over it. At 
the head of the grave was a black wooden cross, with this 
name in white letters : " COLONEL BARON PONTMEBCY." 
Marius was sobbing. 

The " girl " was a tomb. 




IT was hither that Marius had come the first time that he 
had absented himself from Paris; it was to this spot he 
had returned every time that M. Gillenormand said, " He 
sleeps out." 

Lieutenant Theodule was absolutely disconcerted by this 
unexpected elbowing with a tomb; he felt a singular and dis- 
agreeable sensation, which he was incapable of analyzing, 
and which was composed of respect for a tomb mingled with 
respect for a colonel. He fell back, leaving Marius alone in 
the cemetery, and there was discipline in his retreat; death 
appeared to him with heavy epaulets, and he almost made the 
military salute. Not knowing what to write to his aunt, he 
resolved not to write at all; and there would probably have 
been no result from Theodule's discovery in regard to Marius's 
love affair, had not, by one of those mysterious arrangements 
so frequent in accident, the scene at Vernon had an almost 
immediate counterpart in Paris. 

Marius returned from Vernon very early on the morning 
of the third day, and wearied by two nights spent in a dili- 
gence, and feeling the need of repairing his loss of sleep by 
an hour at the swimming-school, he hurried to his room, laid 
aside his travelling coat and the black ribbon which he wore 
round his neck, and went to the bath. 

M. Gillenormand, who rose at an early hour like all old 
men who are in good health, heard him come in, and hastened 
as quickly as his old legs would carry him, up the stairs lead- 
ing to Marius's garret, in order to welcome him back, and 
to try and find out where he had been. 

But the young man had taken less time to descend than the 
octogenarian to ascend, and when Father Gillenormand en- 
tered the garret Marius was no longer there. 


The bed had not been occupied, and on it lay the coat and 
black ribbon, unsuspectingly. 

" I prefer that," said M. Gillenormand. 

A moment later he entered the drawing-room, where Mile. 
Gillenormand the elder was already seated, embroidering her 

The entrance was triumphant. M. Gillenormand held in 
one hand the coat, in the other the neck-ribbon, and 
shouted : 

" Victory ! we will now penetrate the mystery ; we shall 
learn the cream of the joke; we will lay our finger on the 
libertinage of our sly gentleman. Here is the romance itself. 
I have the portrait ! " 

In fact, a box of shagreen leather, much like a miniature 
case, hung from the ribbon. 

The old man took this box and looked at it for some time 
without opening it, with the air of pleasure, eagerness, and 
anger of a poor starving fellow who sees a splendid dinner, 
which he is not to share, carried past under his very nose. 

" It is evidently a portrait. I am up to that sort of thing. 
It is worn tenderly on the heart, what asses they are ! 
Some horrid fright, who will probably make us shudder. 
Young men have such bad taste nowadays." 

" Let us look, father," said the old maid. 

The case opened by pressing a spring, but they found it 
only a carefully folded paper. 

" From the same to the same," said M. Gillenormand, burst- 
ing into a laugh. " I know what it is, a love letter ! " 

" Indeed ! let us read it," said the aunt. 

She put on her spectacles. They unfolded the paper and 
read as follows. 

" For my son. The Emperor made me a baron on the field of Water- 
loo. As the Restoration disputes my right to this title, which I pur- 
chased with my blood, my son will assume it and wear it. Of course 
he will be worthy of it." 


The feelings of father and daughter cannot be described; 
but they were chilled as if by the breath of a death's head. 
They did not exchange a syllable. 

M. Gillenormand merely said in a low voice, and as if speak- 
ing to himself : 

" It is that slasher's handwriting." 

The aunt examined the slip of paper, turned it about in 
all directions, and then replaced it in the box. 

At the same instant a small square packet, wrapped in 
blue paper, fell from a pocket of the coat. Mile. Gillenor- 
mand picked it up and opened the blue paper. 

It contained Marius's one hundred cards, and she passed 
one to M. Gillenormand, who read, " Barbn Marius Font- 

The old man rang, and Nicolette came in. M. Gillenor- 
mand took the ribbon, the box, and the coat, threw them on 
the floor in the middle of the room, and said: 

" Remove that rubbish ! " 

A long hour passed in the deepest silence ; the old man and 
the old maid sat back to back, thinking, probably, each of 
the same things. 

At the end of this hour, Mile. Gillenormand said : 

" A pretty state of things ! " 

A few minutes after, Marius came in. Even before he 
crossed the threshold he saw his grandfather holding one of 
his cards in his hand. As Marius entered he exclaimed, with 
an air of petty, grinning superiority, which was crushing : 

" Well ! well ! well ! well ! well ! So you are a baron now ; 
I must congratulate you. What does this mean?" 

Marius blushed slightly and answered : 

" It means that I am my father's son." 

M. Gillenormand left off laughing, and said harshly, " I 
am your father." 

" My father," Marine replied, with downcast eyes and a 
stern air, " was a humble and heroic man who gloriously 
served the Republic and France, who was great in the great- 
est history which men have ever made, who lived for a quar- 


ter of a century in a camp, exposed to a shower of grape-shot 
and bullets by day, and in snow, mud, wind, and rain at night. 
He was a man who captured two flags, received twenty wounds, 
died forgotten and forsaken, and who never committed but 
one mistake, that of loving too dearly two ungrateful be- 
ings; his country and myself." 

This was more than M. Gillenormand could bear; at the 
word republic he rose, or rather sprang up. Every word 
that Marius had just uttered produced on the old gentleman's 
face the same effect as the blast of a forge-bellows upon a 
burning log. From a leaden hue he became red, from red, 
purple, and from purple, flaming. 

" Marius," he shouted, " you abominable boy ! I know not 
what your father was, I do not wish to know. I 
know nothing about him. I do not know him. But 
what I do know is, that there never were any but scoundrels 
among those people; they were all rogues, assassins, red 
caps, robbers ! I say, all, I say, all ! I know none 
of them! I say, all; do you understand me, Marius? Look 
here ! You are no more of a baron than my slipper is ! They 
were all bandits who served Robespierre! they were all 
brigands who served B-u-o-naparte ; all traitors who betrayed, 
betrayed, betrayed their legitimate king ! all cowards who ran 
away from the Prussians and the English at Waterloo. That 
is what I know. If your father was one of them, I am ig- 
norant of the fact ! I am sorry for it. So much the worse, 
your humble servant ! " 

In his turn, Marius became the brand, and M. Gillenormand 
the bellows. Marius trembled from head to foot; he knew 
not what to do, and his brain burned. He was the priest 
who sees his consecrated wafers cast to the wind, the fakir 
who beholds a passer-by spit on his idol. Such things must 
not be uttered with impunity in his presence, but what was he 
to do? His father had just been trampled under foot and 
insulted in his presence, but by whom? By his grandfather. 
How was he to avenge the one without outraging the other? 
It was impossible for him to insult his grandfather, and 


equally impossible for him to leave his father unavenged. On 
one side was a sacred tomb, on the other was white hair. 

He reeled for a few moments like a drunken man, then 
raised his eyes, looked fixedly at his grandfather, and shouted 
in a voice of thunder : 

" Down with the Bourbons and that great pig of a Louis 
XVIII. ! " 

Louis XVIII. had been dead four years, but that made no 
difference to him. 

The old man, who had been scarlet, suddenly became whiter 
than his hair. He turned to a bust of the Duke de Berry 
which stood on the mantelpiece, and bowed to its profoundly 
with singular majesty. Then he walked twice, slowly and 
silently, from the mantelpiece to the window, and from the 
window to the mantelpiece, traversing the whole length of 
the room, and making the boards creak as if he were a walk- 
ing marble statue. 

The second time, he bent over his daughter, who was watch- 
ing the disturbance with the stupor of an old sheep, and said 
to her with a smile which was almost calm : 

" A baron like this gentleman and a tradesman like myself 
can no longer remain beneath the same roof." 

And suddenly drawing himself up, livid, trembling, and 
terrible, his brow made more lofty by the fearful radiance of 
wrath, he stretched his arm toward Marius, and shouted : 


Marius left the house. 

Next day M. Gillenormand said to his daughter : 

" You will send sixty pistoles every six months to that 
blood-drinker, and never mention his name to me." 

Having an immense amount of fury to expend, and not 
knowing what to do with it, he continued to address his 
daughter as " you " instead of " thou " for upward of three 

Marius, on his side, left the house indignant. One circum- 
stance, it must be admitted, aggravated his exasperation. 
Theri are always small fatalities of this nature to complicate 


domestic dramas. They increase the grievance, although 
nothing is really added to the wrongs. In hurriedly convey- 
ing, by his grandfather's order, Marius's " rubbish " to his 
bedroom, Nicolette, without observing it, let fall, probably 
on the attic stairs, which were dark, the black shagreen case 
containing the paper written by the colonel. As neither could 
be found, Marius felt convinced that " Monsieur Gillenor- 
mand " he never called him otherwise from that date had 
thrown " his father's will " into the fire. He knew by heart 
the few lines written by the colonel, and, consequently, nothing 
was lost ; but the paper, the writing, that sacred relic, all 
that was his very heart. What had been done with it ? 

Marius went away without saying where he was going and 
without knowing, with thirty francs, his watch, and some 
clothes in a carpet-bag. He jumped into a cab, engaged it by 
the hour, and proceeded at haphazard towards the Latin 

What would become of Marius? 




AT that epoch, which was apparently careless, a certain 
revolutionary quiver was vaguely felt. There were 
breezes in the air which started from the depths of '89 and 
'92; and young men, if we may be forgiven the expression, 
were in the moulting stage. Men were transformed, almost 
without suspecting it, by the mere movement of time ; for the 
hand which moves round the dial also moves in the mind. 
Each took the forward step which he was bound to take; 
royalists became liberals, and liberals turned democrats. It 
was a rising tide complicated by a thousand ebbs, and it is 
the peculiarity of ebbs to cause things to mingle. Hence the 
combination of very singular ideas: men adored both liberty 
and Napoleon. We are writing history here, and such were 
the mirages of that period. Opinions pass through phases; 
and Voltairean royalism, an odd variety, had a no less strange 
counterpart, Bonapartist liberalism. 

Other groups of minds were more serious; here principles 
were sounded, and there men clung to their rights. They be- 
came enthusiastic for the absolute, and obtained glimpses of 
infinite realizations ; for the absolute, by its very rigidity, 
urges souls toward the azure, and causes them to float in il- 
limitable space. There is nothing like dogma to originate 



dreams, and nothing like dreams to engender the future! the 
Utopia of to-day is flesh and bone to-morrow. 

Advanced opinions had a false bottom. A beginning of 
mystery threatened " the established order of things," which 
was suspicious and sly. This is a most revolutionary sign. 
The after-thoughts of authority meet the after-thoughts of 
the people midway in their undermining. The incubation of 
revolutions is the reply to the premeditation of coups d'etat. 

There were not as yet in France any of those vast under- 
lying organizations, like the tugendbund of Germany, or the 
Carbonari of Italy; but here and there were dark subterra- 
nean passages with extensive ramifications. The Cougourde 
was being planned at Aix ; and there existed at Paris, among 
other affiliations of this nature, the society of the Friends of 
the A. B. C. 

What were these Friends of the A. B. C. ? A society whose 
ostensible object was to educate children, but the real one to 
elevate man. 

They called themselves Friends of 'he A. B. C., the 
abaisses, the abused; that is, the people. They wished to 
elevate the people. It would be wrong to laugh at this pun, 
for puns are sometimes serious factors in politics, witness 
the Castratus ad castra, which made Narses general of an 
army; the Barbari and Barberini; Fueros y Fuegos; tu es 
Petrus et super hanc Petram, etc. 

The Friends of the A. B. C. were few in number ; it was a 
secret society, in a state of embryo; we might almost call it a 
coterie, if coteries produced heroes. They assembled at two 
places in Paris, at a tavern called " Corinth " near the 
markets, to which we shall return hereafter, and near the Pan- 
theon in a small cafe on the Place St. Michel, known as the 
Cafe Musain, now demolished ; the first of these meeting-places 
was convenient for the workmen, and the second for the 

The ordinary meetings of the Friends of the A. B. C. were 
held in a back room of the Cafe Musain. 

This room, at some distance from the coffee-room, *tb 


which it communicated, by a very long passage, had two win- 
dows and an exit by a private staircase into the Little Rue 
des Gres. There they smoked, drank, gambled, and laughed; 
they talked very loudly about everything, and in a whisper 
about other things. On the wall hung an old map of France 
under the republic, which would have been enough to put a 
police agent on the scent. 

Most of the Friends of the A. B. C. were students, who 
were on cordial terms with certain workmen. Here are the 
names of the principal members, which belong in a certain 
measure to history; Enjolras, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, 
Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Lesgle or Laigle, Joly, and 

These young men formed a sort of family through their 
friendship, and all came from the South except Laigle. 

This group was a remarkable one. It vanished in the in- 
visible depths which lie behind us. At the point of this drama 
which we have now reached, it will not be labour lost, perhaps, 
to throw a ray of light upon these youthful heads before the 
reader sees them plunged in the shadows of a tragic adven- 

Enjolras, whom we named first, we shall see why, later on, 
was an only son, and rich. 

He was a charming young man, capable of becoming terri- 
ble ; he was angelically beautiful, a fierce Antinous. From the 
pensive depth of his glance, you might have fancied that he 
had gone through the revolutionary apocalypse in some pre- 
ceding existence. He knew its traditions as if he had been an 
eye-witness, and was acquainted with all the minor details of 
the great affair. His was a priestly and warlike nature, 
strange in a young man. He was a churchman and a man of 
war; from the immediate point of view, a soldier of the de- 
mocracy, but, above the contemporary movement, a priest of 
the ideal. His eyes were deep-set, his lids slightly red, his 
lower lip thick and easily disdainful, and his forehead high. 
A good deal of forehead in a face is like a good deal of sky 
in a horizon. Like certain young men at the beginning of this 


century and the end of the last, who became illustrious at an 
early age, he looked excessively young, and was as rosy as a 
school-girl, though he had his hours of pallor. Although a 
man, he seemed still a boy, and his two-and-twenty years 
seemed but seventeen; he was serious, and did not appear to 
know that there was such a being on earth as woman. He had 
but one passion, the right ; and but one thought, to over- 
throw the obstacle. On Mons Aventinus he would have been 
Gracchus; in the Convention he would have been St. Just. 
He scarcely saw the roses, he ignored the spring, and did not 
hear the birds sing; the bare throat of Evadne would have 
affected him as little as it did Aristogiton. To him, as to 
Harmodius, flowers were only good to conceal the sword. He 
was stern in his enjoyments, and before everything that was 
not the republic he chastely lowered his eyes ; he was the marble 
lover of liberty. His language had a sharp inspiration and a 
sort of rhythmic strain. He had unexpected expansions of 
soul. Woe to the girl who ventured to ensnare him ! If any 
grisette of the Place Cambray, or the Rue St. Jean de Beau- 
vais, seeing that face so like that of a collegian out of bounds, 
that page's figure, his long, golden lashes, his blue eyes, his 
hair floating wildly in the breeze, his pink cheeks, cherry lips, 
and exquisite teeth, had felt a longing for all that dawn, and 
tried the effect of her charms upon Enjolras, a terrible look of 
surprise would have suddenly shown her the abyss, and taught 
her not to confound the awful cherub of Ezekiel with the gal- 
lant Cherubino of Beaumarchais. 

By the side of Enjolras, who represented the logic of the 
Revolution, Combeferre represented its philosophy. Between 
the logic and the philosophy of the Revolution there is this 
difference ; the logic may end in war, while the philosophy can 
only lead to peace. Combeferre completed and rectified En- 
jolras ; he was not so tall, but broader. He longed to pour the 
ample principles of general ideas into all minds. He said: 
" Revolution, but civilization ! " and ne opened up the vast 
blue horizon around the mountain-peak. Hence there was 
something accessible and practicable in all Combef erre's views ; 


and the Revolution with him was better suited to breathing 
than with Enjolras. Enjolras expressed its divine right, and 
Combeferre its natural right; and while the former clung to 
Robespierre, the latter confined himself to Condorcet. Combe- 
ferre lived the ordinary life of mankind more than did Enjol- 
ras. If these two young men had been permitted to gain a 
place in history, the one would have been the just man, the 
other the sage. Enjolras was more manly, Combeferre more 
humane; and the distinction between them was that between 
homo and vir. Combeferre was as gentle as Enjolras was 
severe, through natural whiteness ; he loved the word " citizen," 
but preferred the word " man." He would have gladly said 
hombre, like the Spanish. He read everything, went to the 
theatres, attended public lectures, learned from Arago the 
polarization of light, and grew quite excited over a lecture in 
which Geoffroy St. Hilaire explained the double function of 
the external and internal carotid artery, the one which makes 
the face, and the other which produces the brain ; he was con- 
versant with all that was going on, followed science step by 
step, confronted St. Simon with Fourier, deciphered hiero- 
glyphics, broke pebbles which he found, discussed geology, 
drew a silk-worm moth from memory, pointed out the errors in 
French in the dictionary of the Academy, studied Puysegur 
and Deleuze, affirmed nothing, not even miracles, denied noth- 
ing, not even ghosts ; turned over the file of the " Moniteur " 
and reflected. He declared that the future lies in the hand of 
the schoolmaster, and busied himself with educational ques- 
tions. He wished society to labour unceasingly to elevate the 
intellectual and moral standard, to coin science, to bring ideas 
into circulation, and make the minds of youth grow; and he 
feared that the present poverty of methods, the wretchedness 
from a literary point of view of confining studies to two or 
three centuries called classic, the tyrannical dogmatism of 
official pedants, scholastic prejudices, and routine would in 
the end convert our colleges into artificial oyster-beds. He was 
learned, a purist, polite, and polytechnic, a delver, and at the 
time pensive, " even to a chimera," as his friends said. He 


believed in all dreams, railways, the suppression of suffer- 
ing in surgical operations, fixing the image of the camera 
obscura, the electric telegraph, and the steering of balloons. 
He was not much alarmed by the citadels built on all sides 
against the human race by superstitions, despotisms, and 
prej udices ; for he was one of those men who think that science 
will, in the end, turn the position. Enjolras was a chief, and 
Combeferre a guide; you would like to fight under one and 
march with the other. Not that Combeferre was incapable of 
fighting. He did not refuse a hand-to-hand contest with ob- 
stacles, or to attack them by, main force; but it pleased him 
better to bring the human race into harmony with its destiny, 
gradually, by teaching them axioms and promulgating posi- 
tive laws; and with a choice between two lights, his inclina- 
tion was for illumination rather than fire. A fire may cer- 
tainly produce a dawn, but why not wait for daybreak? A 
volcano illumines, but the sun does so far better. Combe- 
ferre, perhaps, preferred the whiteness of the beautiful to the 
flashing of the sublime. A brightness clouded by smoke, 
progress purchased by violence, only half satisfied his tender 
and serious spirit. A headlong hurling of a people into the 
truth, a '93, startled him; stagnation was still more repulsive 
to him, for in it he detected putrefaction and death. Alto- 
gether he preferred scum to miasma, the torrent to the sewer, 
and the falls of Niagara to the Lake of Montfau9on. In a 
word, he desired neither halt nor haste ; and while his tumultu- 
ous friends, who were chivalrously attracted by the absolute, 
adored and invoked splendid revolutionary adventures, Combe- 
ferre inclined to let progress right progress take its 
course. It might be cold, but it was pure, methodical, but 
irreproachable; phlegmatic, but imperturbable. Combeferre 
would have knelt and prayed that this future might come with 
all its candour, and that nothing might disturb the immense 
and virtuous evolution of the nations. The good must be 
innocent, he repeated incessantly. And in truth, if the gran- 
deur of the Revolution is to gaze steadfastly at the dazzling 
ideal, and to fly toward it through the lightning, with blood 


and fire in its talons, the beauty of progress is to be unspotted ; 
and between Washington, who represents the one, and Danton, 
who is the incarnation of the other, the same difference exits 
as separates the angel with the swan's wings from the angel 
with the eagle's wings. 

Jean Prouvaire was of an even softer tinge than Combe- 
f erre ; he was called " Jehan," owing to that little momentary 
fancy which was blended with the powerful and profound 
movement whence issued the very necessary study of the mid- 
dle ages. Jean Prouvaire was always in love, cultivated a 
pot of flowers, played a flute, wrote verses, loved the people, 
pitied women, wept over children, confounded in the same con- 
fidence, God and the future, and blamed the Revolution for 
having caused a royal head to fall, that of Andre Chenier. 
His voice was usually soft, but suddenly became masculine; he 
was erudite, and almost an Orientalist. Above all, he was 
good, a very simple thing to those who know how closely 
goodness borders on grandeur; in the matter of poetry, he 
preferred the immense. He knew Italian, Latin, Greek, and 
Hebrew, and he used his knowledge to read four poets only, 
Dante, Juvenal, ^Eschylus, and Isaiah. In French, he pre- 
ferred Corneille to Racine, and Agrippa d'Aubigne to Cor- 
neille. He was fond of strolling through fields of wild oats 
and corn-flowers, and occupied himself with clouds almost as 
much as with events. His mind had two attitudes, one 
turned to man, the other to God ; he either studied or contem- 
plated. The whole day long he studied social questions, 
wages, capital, credit, marriage, religion, liberty of thought, 
liberty of love, education, the penal code, wretchedness, part- 
nership, property, production, and profit-sharing, the enig- 
ma of the lower world, which casts a shadow over the human 
anthill; and at night he looked at the stars, those enormous 
beings. Like Enjolras, he was rich, and an only son; he 
talked softly, hung his head, looked down, smiled with em- 
barrassment, dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at 
a mere nothing, and was very timid; with all this, he was in- 


Feuilly was a journeyman fan-maker, doubly an orphan, 
who laboriously earned three francs a day, and had but one 
idea, to deliver the world. He had another pre-occupation 
as well, to instruct himself, which he called self-deliverance. 
He had taught himself to read and write ; and all that he knew 
he had learned alone. Feuilly had a generous heart, and 
hugged the whole world. This orphan had adopted the na- 
tions ; and as he had no mother, he meditated on his country. 
He wished that there might not be a man in the world who 
had no country, and he brooded over what we now call the 
" idea of nationalities " with the profound divination of the 
man of the people. He studied history expressly that he 
might be indignant with full knowledge of the facts; and in 
this youthful assembly of Utopians, who were specially inter- 
ested about France, he represented the foreign element. His 
specialty was Greece, Poland, Roumania, Hungary, and Italy ; 
he pronounced these names incessantly, in season and out of 
season, with the tenacity of right. The violations committed 
by Turkey on Greece and Thessaly, by Russia on Warsaw, 
and Austria on Venice, exasperated him. Above all things, 
the great highway robbery of 1772 aroused him. There can 
be no more sovereign eloquence than truth fired with rage; 
and he was eloquent with that eloquence. He never left off 
talking about the infamous date, 1772, the noble and valiant 
people suppressed by treachery, that crime committed by three 
accomplices, and that monstrous ambush, the prototype and 
pattern of all those frightful suppressions of states, which 
have since struck many noble nations, and have, so to speak, 
erased their names from the baptismal register. All the social 
crimes of the present day emanate from the division of Poland, 
and it is a theorem to which all our political crimes are corol- 
laries. There is not a despot or a traitor for a century past 
who has not revised, confirmed, countersigned, and copied, ne 
varietur, the partition of Poland. When we consult the list 
of modern treasons, this appears the first. The Congress of 
Vienna consulted this crime ere it consummated its own ; 1772 
sounded the view-halloo, and 1815 witnessed the death of the 


stag. Such was Feuilly's usual text. This poor workman 
had made himself the guardian of Justice, and she rewarded 
him by making him great. In truth, there is an eternity in 
right. Warsaw can no more be Tartar than Venice Teuton. 
Kings lose their time and their honour in the attempt to make 
them so. Sooner or later the submerged country rises to the 
surface and re-appears. Greece becomes Greece once more, 
and Italy, Italy. The protest of right against the deed, per- 
sists forever. There is no law of prescription for the robbery 
of a nation. Such high acts of pilfering have no future. The 
mark cannot be taken out of a nation like a handkerchief. 

Courfeyrac had a father who was known as M. de Cour- 
feyrac. One of the incorrect ideas of the middle classes under 
the Restoration in the matter of the aristocracy and the nobil- 
ity was a belief in the particle. The particle, as we know, has 
no meaning ; but the middle classes of the time of the Minerve 
esteemed this poor de so highly that they thought themselves 
bound to abdicate it. M. de Chauvelin called himself M. 
Chauvelin ; M. de Caumartin, M. Caumartin ; M. de Constant 
de Rebecque, Benjamin Constant, and M. de Lafayette, M. 
Lafayette. Courfeyrac was unwilling to remain behindhand, 
and called himself plain Courfeyrac. 

As concerns this gentleman, we might almost stop here, 
and content ourselves with saying as regards the rest, " For 
Courfeyrac, see Tholomyes." Courfeyrac, in fact, had that 
vigour of youth which might be called a mental beaute du 
diable. Later on, this vanishes like the prettiness of the kit- 
ten; and all this grace ends with the tradesman on two legs, 
and the tom-cat on four paws. 

This sort of wit is transmitted from generation to genera- 
tion of the successive levies of youth, who pass through the 
schools. They pass it from hand to hand, quasi cursores, 
nearly always the same; so that as we have said, any one who 
had listened to Courfeyrac in 1828, might have fancied he 
was hearing Tholomyes in 1817. Only Courfeyrac was an 
honest fellow, and beneath an apparent outward likeness the 
difference between Tholomyes and himself was great. The 


latent man who existed within the two was very different in the 
first from what it was in the second. In Tholomyes there was 
an attorney, and in Courfeyrac a paladin. 

Enjolras was the chief, Combeferre the guide, and Cour- 
feyrac the centre. The others gave more light, but he pro- 
duced more heat ; he had all the qualities of a centre, round- 
ness and radiance. 

Bahorel had been mixed up in the bloody tumult of June, 
1822, on the occasion of the burial of young Lallemand. 

Bahorel was a good-natured fellow who kept bad company, 
brave, a spendthrift, prodigal to the verge of generosity, a 
chatterbox to the verge of eloquence, bold to the verge of ef- 
frontery, and the very best clay imaginable for the devil's 
moulding. He displayed daring waistcoats and scarlet opin- 
ions. He was turbulent on a grand scale, that is to say, he 
liked nothing so much as a quarrel unless it were a riot, and 
nothing so much as a riot except a revolution. He was ever 
ready to break a pane of glass, to tear up the paving-stones, 
and to demolish a government, just to see the effect; he was a 
student in his eleventh year. He sniffed at the law, but did 
not practise it ; and he had taken as his motto, " Never a law- 
yer," and as his coat-of-arms a night-stand surmounted by a 
square cap. Whenever he passed the law school, which rarely 
happened, he buttoned up his frock-coat, the overcoat had 
not yet been invented, and took hygienic precautions. He 
said of the school gate-way, " What a fine old man ! " and of 
the dean, M. Devincourt, " What a monument ! " He f und 
in his lectures a subject for coarse songs, and in his professors 
an occasion for caricature. He spent a very considerable al- 
lowance, something like three thousand francs, in idleness. 

His parents were peasants in whom he had inculcated a re- 
spect for their son. 

He used to say of them, " They are peasants, and not 
trades-people; that is why they are so intelligent." 

Bahorel, a man of caprice, frequented various cafes; the 
others had habits, he had none. He sauntered, he lounged; 
if errare is human, to saunter is Parisian. In reality, he bad 


a penetrating mind, and was more of a thinker than people 

He served as the connecting link between the Friends of 
the A. B. C. and other groups still unorganized, but destined 
to take form at a later date. 

In this assembly of young men there was one bald-headed 

The Marquis d'Avaray, whom Louis XVIII. made a duke 
because he helped him into a cab on the day when he emi- 
grated, used to tell how, when the king landed in 1814 at 
Calais, upon his return to France, a man handed him a peti- 

" What do you want ? " said the king. 

" A postmastership, sire." 

" What is your name? " 

" L'Aigle."" 

The king frowned, but looked at the signature of the peti- 
tion, and read the name thus written, Lesgle. This anything 
but Bonapartist orthography, touched the king, and he 
smiled. " Sire," the man with the petition went on, " my 
ancestor was a whipper-in named Lesgueules, and my name 
came from that. I called myself Lesgueules, by contraction 
Lesgle, and by corruption L'Aigle." This remark made the 
king smile still more; and later on he gave the man the post- 
office at Meaux, purposely or by accident. 

The bald member of the group was a son of this Lesgle or 
Legle, and signed himself Legle (of Meaux). His com- 
rades, to shorten this, called him Bossuet, who, as everybody 
knows, was christened the Eagle of Meaux. 

Bossuet was a merry fellow, who was always unlucky, and 
his specialty was to succeed in nothing. Per contra, he 
laughed at everything. At the age of five-and-twenty he was 
bald ; his father left him a house and a field, but the son soon 
lost both in a swindling speculation, and nothing was left him. 
He had learning and sense, but they led to nothing ; he failed 
in everything, and everything deceived him. Whatever he 
built up, tumbled down on top of him. If he chopped wood, 


he cut his fingers; and if he had a mistress, he speedily dis- 
covered that he had also a friend. Some misfortune happened 
to him every moment, and hence his joviality. He used to 
say, " I live under a roof of falling tiles." Not easily as- 
tonished, for accident was always foreseen by him, he accepted 
ill luck serenely, and smiled at the pin-pricks of destiny like 
a man who is listening to a good joke. He was poor, but his 
store of good-nature was inexhaustible; he speedily reached 
his last penny, but never his last laugh. When adversity en- 
tered his door, he bowed to his old acquaintance cordially ; he 
tickled catastrophe in the ribs, and was on familiar terms with 
fatality. " How are you, ill luck ? " said he. 

These persecutions of fate had rendered him inventive, and 
he was full of resources. He had no money, but contrived to 
make a " frenzied outlay " whenever he thought proper. One 
night he went so far as to devour a hundred francs in a sup- 
per with a wench, which inspired him in the midst of the orgy 
with the memorable remark, " Fille de cinq Louis, 1 pull off my 

Bossuet was advancing slowly to the legal profession, and 
studied law much after the fashion of Bahorel. Bossuet had 
but little domicile, sometimes none at all. He lived first 
with one and then with another, but most frequently with Joly. 

Joly was a student of medicine, two years younger than 

Joly was the young malade imaginaire. What he had 
gained by his medical studies was to be more of a patient than 
a doctor, for at the age of twenty-three he fancied himself a 
valetudinarian, and spent his life in looking at his tongue in a 
mirror. He declared that a man becomes magnetic like a 
needle, and he placed his bed with the head to the south and 
the foot to the north, so that at night the circulation of his 
blood might not be impeded by the great magnetic current of 
the globe. In storms he felt his pulse, but for all that was the 

1 Fille de Saint Louis: daughter of Saint Louis. A pun based on the 
similar sound of Saint Louis and cinq louis, and five louis jade. Fire 
louis are equivalent to one hundred francs. 


gayest of all. All these incoherences youth, mania, dys- 
pepsia, and fun harmonized, and the result was an eccen- 
tric and agreeable being, whom his comrades, lavish of liquid 
consonants, called " Jol-l-ly." 

Joly had a way of touching his nose with the end of his 
jcane, which is the sign of a sagacious mind. 

All these young men who differed so greatly, and of whom, 
after all, we must speak seriously, had the same religion, 

They all were the direct sons of the French Revolution, 
and the lightest-minded among them became serious when he 
uttered the date, '89. Their fathers in the flesh were, or had 
been, Catholics, royalists, or doctrinarians; but that was of 
little consequence. This confusion, anterior to themselves, 
who were young, did not concern them; the pure blood of 
principles flowed in their veins. They attached themselves, 
without any intermediate tinge, to incorruptible right and 
absolute duty. 

Affiliated and initiated, they sketched out the ideal in their 
subterranean meetings. 

Among all these impassioned hearts and convinced minds 
there was one sceptic; how did he get there? through juxtapo- 
sition. The name of this sceptic was Grantaire, and he usu- 
ally wrote it after the manner of a charade, R. 1 Grantaire 
was a man who carefully avoided believing in anything; he 
was, however, the one of these students who had learned the 
most during his Parisian residence. He knew that the best 
coffee was to be found at Lemblier's and the best billiard-table 
at the Cafe Voltaire; that excellent cakes and agreeable girls 
could be found at the Hermitage on the Boulevard du Maine, 
spatch-cocks at Mother Saquet's, excellent stewed ells at the 
Barriere de la Cunette, and a peculiar white wine at the Bar- 
riere du Combat. He knew the best place for everything; 
also boxing and wrestling, and certain dances, and became a 
fine fencer. Besides all this, he was a mighty drinker. He 
was abominably ugly, and Irma Boissy, the prettiest boot- 
i Grantaire = Grand R. 


binder of that day, in her indignation at his ugliness, passed 
the verdict, " Grantaire is impossible." But Grantaire's fatu- 
ity was not disconcerted by this. He gazed tenderly and fix- 
edly at every woman, and assumed an expression of, " If I 
only liked ! " and he tried to make his companions believe that 
he was in general request with the sex. 

All such words as rights of the people, rights of man, the 
social contract, the French Revolution, the republic, democ- 
racy, humanity, civilization, progress, had as good as no 
meaning to Grantaire. He smiled at them. Scepticism, that 
caries of the intellect, had not left him a single whole idea. 
He lived on irony, and his motto was, " There is only one 
thing certain, my full glass." He ridiculed every act of 
devotion in every party, the brother as much as the father, 
young Robespierre as heartily as Loizerolles. " They made 
great progress by dying," he would exclaim ; and he would say 
of the crucifix : " There is a gallows which was a success." 
Idler, gambler, libertine, and often intoxicated, he annoyed 
these young dreamers by incessantly singing, " J'aimons les 
filles et j'aimons le bon vin " to the tune of " Long live Henri 

This sceptic, however, had one fanaticism; it was neither 
an idea, a dogma, an art, nor a science ; it was a man, En- 
jolras. Grantaire admired, loved, and revered Enjolras. To 
whom did this anarchical doubter cling in this phalanx of ab- 
solute minds? To the most absolute. How did Enjolras sub- 
jugate him? By his ideas? No, but by his character. This 
is a phenomena frequently observed. A sceptic who clings to 
a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colours. 
What we do not possess, attracts us; no one loves daylight 
like the blind man; the dwarf adores the drum-major; and the 
frog has its eyes constantly fixed on heaven. Why? To 
watch the bird in its flight. Grantaire, in whom doubt grov- 
elled, liked to see faith soar in Enjolras. He felt the want 
of him without clearly understanding it, or even dreaming of 
explaining the fact to himself. That chaste, healthy, firm, 
upright, harsh, and candid nature charmed him, and he in- 


stinctively admired his opposite. His soft, yielding, dislo- 
cated, sickly, and shapeless ideas attached themselves to Enjol- 
ras as to a spinal column, and his moral backbone found a sup- 
port in that firmness. Grantaire, by the side of Enjolras, be- 
came somebody again. He was, moreover, himself composed 
of two apparently irreconcilable elements, he was ironical 
and cordial. His mind could do without belief, but his heart 
could not do without friendship. This is a profound contra- 
diction, for an affection is a conviction; but his nature was 
such. Some men are apparently born to be the reverse of the 
coin, the obverse, the inverse. Their names are Pollux, Patro- 
clus, Nisus, Eudamidas, Hephestion, and Pechmeja. They live 
only on condition that they are backed by another man ; their 
name is a sequel, and is never written except preceded by the 
conjunction and; their existence is not their own, but is the 
other side of a destiny which is not theirs. Grantaire was one 
of these men. He was the other side of Enjolras. 

We might almost say that affinities begin with the letters 
of the alphabet. O and P are inseparable in the series. You 
may, as you please, say O and P, or Orestes and Pylades. 

Grantaire, a true satellite of Enjolras, dwelt in this circle 
of young men. he lived there; he enjoyed himself nowhere 
else; and he followed them everywhere. His delight was to 
see their shadows come and go through the fumes of wine. 
He was tolerated for his pleasant humour. 

Enjolras, the believer, disdained this sceptic; and himself 
a sober man, he loathed this drunkard, but he granted him a 
little haughty pity. Grantaire was an unaccepted Pylades ; 
constantly repulsed by Enjolras, harshly rejected, and yet 
ever returning to the charge, he used to say of Enjolras, 
"What a splendid statue!" 




ON a certain afternoon, which, as we shall see, had some 
coincidence with the events recorded above, Laigle de 
Meaux leaned sensuously against the door-post of the Cafe 
Musain. He looked like a caryatid out for a holiday, and 
having nothing to carry but his revery. He stared at the 
Place St. Michel. To lean against something is a mode of 
lying down upright which is not disliked by dreamers. Laigle 
de Meaux was thinking, without melancholy, of a slight mis- 
adventure which had befallen him, two days before, at the law 
school, and which modified his personal plans for the future, 
plans which were somewhat indistinct, however. 

Revery does not prevent a cab from passing, or a dreamer 
from noting the cab. Laigle, whose eyes were absently 
wandering, saw through his somnambulism a two-wheeled ve- 
hicle moving across the Place St. Michel at a foot-pace and 
apparently undecided. What did this cab want? Why was 
it going so slowly? Laigle looked at it, and saw a young 
man seated beside the driver, and in front of the young man, 
a big carpet-bag. The bag displayed to passers-by this 
name, written in large black letters on a card sewed to the 

This name made Laigle change his attitude. He drew him- 
self up, and shouted to the young man in the cab: 

"M. Marius Pontmercy ! " 

The cab stopped on being thus hailed ; and the young man, 
who also appeared to be thinking deeply, raised his eyes. 

"Hullo!" he said. 

"Are you M. Pontmercy?" 

" Yes." 

" I was looking for you," continued Laigle de Meaux. 

"How so?" asked Marius, for it was really he; he had 


just left his grandfather's, and had before him a face which 
he saw for the first time. " I do not know you." 

" And I don't know you, either." 

Marius fancied that he had met with a practical joker; and 
as he was not in the best of tempers, he frowned. Laigle 
went on imperturbably : 

" You were not at lecture the day before yesterday." 

" Very possibly." 

" It is certain." 

" Are you a student ? " asked Marius. 

" Yes, sir, like yourself. The day before yesterday I en- 
tered the law school by chance; as you know, a man ha* an 
idea like that sometimes. The professor was calling the roll ; 
and you know how ridiculous they are just now. If the third 
call remains unaswered, your name is erased from the list^ 
and sixty francs are gone." 

Marius began to listen, and Laigle continued : 

" Blondeau was calling the roll. You know Blondeau has 
a pointed and most malicious nose, and scents out the absent 
with delight. He craftily began with the letter P; and I did 
not listen, because I was not compromised by that letter. The 
roll-call went on capitally ; there was no erasure, and the whole 
world was present. Blondeau was sad; and I said to myself 
aside, ' Blondeau, my love, you will not perform the slightest 
execution to-day.' All at once Blondeau calls out, ; Marius 
Pontmercy ! ' No one answered ; and so Blondeau, full of 
hope, repeats, in a louder voice, * Marius Pontmercy ! ' and 
takes up his pen. I have bowels of compassion, sir, and said 
to myself hurriedly : ' Here's a good fellow who will be 
scratched off the list. Attention ! he is not a proper student, 
a student who studies, a reading man, a pedantic sap, 
strong in science, literature, theology, and philosophy ; one of 
your dullards dressed to kill ; a pin by profession. No ; he is 
an honourable idler, who lounges about, enjoys the country, 
cultivates the grisette, pays his court to the ladies, and is per- 
haps with my mistress at this moment. I must save him; 
death to Blondeau ! ' At this moment Blondeau dipped his 


pen, black with erasures, into the ink, cast his yellow eyes 
around the room, and repeated, for the third time, * Marius 
Pontmercy ! ' I answered, * Here ! ' and so your name was 
not erased." 

" Sir ! " exclaimed Marius. 

" And mine was," added Laigle de Meaux. 

" I do not understand you," said Marius. 

Laigle continued : 

" And yet it was very simple. I was near the desk to an- 
swer, and near the door to escape. The professor looked at 
me with a certain intensity. Suddenly Blondeau who must 
be the crafty nose mentioned by Boileau skipped to the let- 
ter L, which is my letter; for I come from Meaux, and my 
name is L'Esgle." 

" L'Aigle ! " Marius interrupted. " What a glorious 
name ! " 

" Sir, Blondeau came to that glorious name, and exclaimed, 
* L'Aigle ! ' I answer, ' Here ! ' Then Blondeau looks at me 
with the gentleness of a tiger, smiles, and says, * If you are 
Pontmercy, you are not Laigle,' a phrase which appears 
offensive to you, but which was only painful to me. So say- 
ing, he scratched me off the list." 

Marius exclaimed : 

" I am really mortified, sir " 

" First," interrupted Lagle, " I ask leave to embalm Blon- 
deau in a few phrases of heart- felt praise. I will suppose him 
dead, and there will not be much to alter in his thinness, pale- 
ness, coldness, stiffness, and smell; and I say, Erudimini qui 
judicatis terrain. Here lies Blondeau, Blondeau the Nose 
(Blondeau Nasica), the ox of discipline (bos discipline), the 
mastiff of duty, the angel of the roll-call, who was upright, 
square, exact, rigid, honest, and hideous. God erased him as 
he erased me." 

Marius continued, " I am most grieved " 

" Young man," said Laigle, " let this serve you as a les- 
son; in future, be punctual " 

" I beg a thousand pardons," 


" and do not run the risk of getting your neighbour 

" I am in despair " 

Laigle burst into a laugh. 

" And I am enchanted. I was on the verge of becoming a 
lawyer, and this erasure saves me. I renounce the triumphs 
of the bar. I shall not defend the orphan or attack the widow. 
No more toga; no more terms. I am expelled; and I am in- 
debted to you for it, M. Pontmercy. I intend to pay you a 
solemn visit of thanks. Where do you live ? " 

" In this cab," said Marius. 

" A sign of opulence," Laigle remarked calmly. " I con- 
gratulate you; for you have apartments at nine thousand 
francs a year." 

At this moment Courfeyrac came out of the cafe. 

Marius smiled sadly. 

" I have been in this lodging for two hours, and am eager 
to leave it, but I do not know where to go." 

" Come home with me," said Courfeyrac. 

" I have the prior right," observed Laigle ; " but, then, I 
have no home." 

" Hold your tongue, Bossuet ! " remarked Courfeyras. 

" Bossuet ! " said Marius ; " why, you told me your name 
was Laigle." 

" Of Meaux," answered Laigle ; " by metaphor, Bossuet." 

Courfeyrac got into the cab. 

" Hotel de la Porte St. Jacques, driver," said he. 

That same evening Marius was installed in a room in that 
house, next door to Courfeyrac. 




IN a few days, Marius was Courfeyrac's friend; for youth 
is the season of prompt welding and rapid cicatriza- 
tion. Marius breathed freely in Courfeyrac's company, a 
great novelty for him. Courfeyrac asked him no questions, 
and did not even think of doing so ; for at that age faces tell 
everything at once, and words are superfluous. There are 
some young men of whose countenances you may say that 
they gossip, you look at them and know them. One morn- 
ing, however, Courfeyrac suddenly asked him : 

" By the way, have you any political opinions ? " 

" Eh ! what ? " said Marius, almost offended by the ques- 

"What are you?" 

" Bonapartist democrat." 

" The gray colour of a quiet mouse," remarked Courfeyrac. 

Next day he led Marius to the Cafe Musain, and whispered 
in his ear with a smile, " I must admit you to the Revolution," 
and he took him to the room of the Friends of the A. B. C. 
He introduced him to his companions, saying in a low voice, 
" a pupil," which Marius did not at all comprehend. 

Marius had fallen into a wasp's-nest of wits ; but though he 
was silent and grave, he was not the less winged and armed. 

Marius, hitherto solitary, and given to soliloquy and to 
asides, through habit and taste, was somewhat startled by the 
swarm of young men around him. All these various initia- 
tives solicited him at once, and pulled him different ways. The 
tumultuous movement of all these minds at liberty and at work 
set his ideas in a whirl. Sometimes, in his confusion, they 
flew so far from him that he had difficulty in finding them 
again. He heard philosophy, literature, art, history, and re- 
ligion spoken of in an unexpected way; he caught a glimpse 


of strange aspects; and as he did not place them in proper 
perspective, he was not sure that he was not gazing at cha is. 
On giving up his grandfather's opinions for those of lis 
father, he believed himself settled ; but he now suspected, anx- 
iously, and not daring to confess it to himself, that it vas 
not so. The angle in which he viewed everything was begin- 
ning to be displaced afresh. A certain oscillation shook all 
the horizons of his brain. It was a strange internal upset- 
ting, and it almost made him ill. 

It seemed as if there were no " sacred things " for these 
young men. Marius heard singular remarks about all sorts 
of matters which were offensive to his still timid mind. 

A play-bill came under notice, adorned with the title of an 
old stock tragedy of the so-called classical school. " Down 
with the tragedy dear to the tradesman ! " shouted Bahorel ; 
and Marius heard Combeferre reply : 

" You are wrong, Bahorel. The cits love tragedy, and 
they must be left at peace upon that point. Periwigged trag- 
edy has a reason for its existence ; and I am not one of those 
who, for love of JEschylus, contest its right to exist. There 
are rough outlines in Nature, and ready-made parodies in crea- 
tion, a beak which is no beak, wings which are no wings, 
gills which are no gills, feet which are no feet, a dolorous cry 
which inclines you to laugh; there you have the duck. Now, 
since poultry exists by the side of the bird, I do not see why 
classic tragedy should not exist face to face with ancient trag- 

Or else Marius chanced to pass through the Rue Jean Jac- 
ques Rousseau between Enjolras and Courfeyrac, and the 
latter seized his arm. 

" Pay attention ! This is the Rue Platriere, now called Rue 
Jean Jacques Rousseau, on account of a singular family that 
lived here sixty years back. They were Jean Jacques and 
There&e. From time to time, little creatures were born ; The- 
rese brought them into the world, and Jean Jacques brought 
them to the Foundling Hospital." 

d Enjolras reproved Courfeyrac. 


" Silence before Jean Jacques ! I admire that man. I 
grant that he abandoned his children, but he adopted the peo- 

Not one of these young men ever uttered the words, the 
Emperor. Jean Prouvaire alone sometimes said " Napoleon ; " 
all the rest said " Bonaparte." Enjolras pronounced it Buon- 

Marius was vaguely astonished. Initium sapientia:. 



ONE of the conversations among the young men, at which 
Marius was present, and in which he joined now and 
then, was a thorough shock to his mind. 

It came off in the back room of the Cafe Musain, and nearly 
all the Friends of the A. B. C. were collected on that occasion. 
The lamp was solemnly lighted. They talked about one thing 
and another, without passion and with noise, and with the 
exception of Enjolras and Marius, who were silent, all haran- 
gued somewhat at haphazard. Conversations between com- 
rades sometimes are subject to these peaceable tumults. It 
was a game and a skirmish as much as a conversation. Words 
were tossed and caught up, and students chattered in all four 

No woman was admitted to this back room, excepting Loui- 
son, the dish-washer, who passed through from time to time 
to go from the wash-room to the " laboratory." 

Grantaire, who was quite intoxicated, was deafening the 
corner he had seized upon, shouting things, reasonable and 
unreasonable, at the top of his voice : 

" I am thirsty. Mortals, I am dreaming that the tun of 
Heidelberg has a fit of apoplexy, and that I am one of the 


dozen leeches applied to it. I want to drink, for I desire to 
forget life. Life is a hideous invention of somebody with 
whom I am unacquainted. It lasts no time at all, and is worth 
nothing; and a man breaks his neck to live. Life is a stage- 
setting in which there are few practicable entrances ; and hap- 
piness is an old side-scene, painted on one side only. Eccle- 
siastes says, ' All is vanity ; ' and I agree with that worthy gen- 
tleman, who possibly never existed. Zero, not liking to go 
stark naked, clothed himself in vanity. O vanity ! The dress- 
ing up of everything in big words ! A kitchen is a laboratory, 
a dancer a professor, a mountebank a gymnast, a boxer a 
pugilist, an apothecary a chemist, a barber an artist, a brick- 
layer an architect, a jockey a sportsman, and a wood-louse a 
pterygibranch. Vanity has a right side and a wrong side; 
the right side is stupid, it is the negro with his glass beads ; 
the wrong side is foolish, it is the philosopher in his rags. 
I weep over the one and laugh at the other. What are called 
honours and dignities, and even genuine honour and dignity, 
are generally made of pinchbeck. Kings play with human 
pride. Caligula made a horse a consul, and Charles II. 
knighted a sirloin of beef. Drape yourselves, therefore, be- 
tween Consul Incitatus and Sir Roastbeef . As to the intrinsic 
value of people, it is not one bit more respectable; just listen 
to the panegyric which one neighbour makes of another. 
White against white is ferocious. If the lily could talk, how 
it would run down the dove ; and a bigoted woman talking of a 
pious woman is more venomous than the asp and the whip- 
snake. It is a pity that I am an ignoramus, for I would quote 
a multitude of things ; but I know nothing. But for all that, 
I have always had sense. When I was a pupil of Gros, in- 
stead of daubing poor pictures, I spent my time in prigging 
apples. So much for myself; but you others are no better, 
and I have no use for your perfections, excellences, and 
qualities. Every good quality has its corresponding defect. 
Economy is akin to avarice ; generosity is very nearly related 
to extravagance, and courage trenches on braggadocio. 
When you call a man very pious, you mean that he is a bigot ; 


and there are just as many vices in virtue as there are holes 
in the mantle of Diogenes. Which do you admire, the slain 
or the slayer, Caesar or Brutus ? People generally vote for the 
slayer. Long live Brutus ! he was a murderer. Such is 
virtue; it may be virtue, but it is also madness. There are 
some queer spots on these great men; the Brutus who killed 
Cassar was in love with the statue of a little boy. This statue 
was made by the Greek sculptor Strongylion who also pro- 
duced that figure of an Amazon called Finelegs, Eucnemys, 
which Nero carried about with him on his travels. This 
Strongylion left but two statues, which brought Brutus and 
Nero into harmony; Brutus was in love with one, and Nero 
with the other. History is but one long repetition, and one 
century is the plagiarist of another. The battle of Marengo 
is a copy of the battle of Pydna; the Tolbiac of Clovis and 
the Austerlitz of Napoleon are as much alike as two drops of 
blood. I set but little value on victory ; nothing is so stupid as 
to conquer; true glory lies in convincing. But try to prove 
anything ! You are satisfied with success, what mediocrity ! 
and with conquering, what a wretched trifle! Alas! vanity 
and cowardice are everywhere. Everything obeys success, 
even grammar. * Si volet usus,' as Horace says. Hence I 
despise the whole human race. Suppose we descend from uni- 
versals to particulars? Would you wish me to begin by ad- 
miring the people? What people, if you please? Greece? 
The Athenians, those Parisians of former time, killed Phocion, 
as you might say Coligny, and fawned on tyrants to such a 
degree that Anacephorus said of Pisistratus, ' his urine at- 
tracts the bees.' The most considerable man in Greece for 
fifty years was the grammarian Philetas, who was so short 
and small that he was obliged to put lead in his shoes to keep 
the wind from blowing him way. On the great square in 
Corinth stood a statue carved by Silanion, and catalogued by 
Pliny; it represented Episthatus. What did Episthatus do? 
He invented the cross-buttock. There you have a summary 
of Greece and glory, and now let us pass to others. Shall I 
admire England? Shall I admire France? France, why? 


On account of Paris? I have just told you my opinion of 
Athens. England, why? On account of London? I hate 
Carthage. And, besides, London, the metropolis of luxury, is 
the headquarters of misery. In Charing Cross parish alone, 
I one hundred persons die annually of starvation. Such is 
I Albion ; and I will add, as crowning point, that I have seen an 
/English woman dancing in a wreath of roses and blue spec- 
tacles. So, a fig for England. If I do not admire John Bull, 
shall I admire Brother Jonathan with his peculiar institution ? 
Take away ' Time is money,' and what is left of England? 
Take away * Cotton is king,' and what is left of America ? 
Germany is lymph and Italy bile. Shall we go into ecstasies 
over Russia? Voltaire admired that country, and he also ad- 
mired China. I allow that Russia has its beauties, among 
others a powerful despotism ; but I pity the despots, for they 
have delicate health. An Alexis decapitated, a Peter stabbed, 
a Paul strangled, another Paul flattened out with boot-heels, 
sundry Ivans butchered, several Nicholases and Basils poi- 
soned, all this proves that the palace of the Emperors of 
Russia is in a flagrantly unhealthy condition. All civilized 
nations offer to the admiration of the thinker one detail, 
war. Now, war, civilized war, exhausts and sums up all forms 
of banditism, from the brigandage of trabuceros in the gorges 
of Mont Jaxa, down to the forays of Comanche Indians in 
the Doubtful Pass. ' Stuff ! ' you will say ; * Europe is better 
than Asia, after all.' I admit that Asia is absurd; but I do 
not exactly see why you should laugh at the Grand Lama, you 
great western nations, who have blended with your fashions 
and elegances all the complicated filth of majesty, from the 
dirty chemise of Queen Isabella down to the chamber-chair of 
the daupin. At Brussels the most beer is consumed, at Stock- 
holm the most brandy, at Madrid the most chocolate, at 
Amsterdam the most gin, at London the most wine, at Con- 
stantinople the most coffee, and at Paris the most absinthe, 
these are all useful notions. Paris, after all, bears away the 
bell, for in that city the very rag-pickers are sybarites; and 
Diogenes would as soon have been a rag-picker on the Place 


Maubert as tn. philosopher at the Piraeus. Learn this fact also : 
the wine-shops of the rag-pickers are called ' bibines,' and the 
most celebrated are the Casserole and the Abattoir. O pot- 
houses, sample-rooms, bar-rooms, grog-shops, dance-halls, gin- 
mills, dives, saloons, boozing-kens, wine-shops of the rag- 
pickers, caravansaries for caliphs, I call you to witness. I am 
a voluptuary. I dine at Richard's for forty sous, and I must 
have Persian carpets in which to roll the naked Cleopatra. 
Where is Cleopatra? Ah, it is you, Louison? Good- 

Thus poured forth Grantaire, more than drunk, seizing the 
dish-washer as she passed his corner in the backroom of the 
Cafe Musain. 

Bossuet, stretching his hand toward him, strove to silence 
him ; but Grantaire broke out afresh. 

" Eagle of Meaux, down with your paws. You produce 
no effect upon me with your gesture of Hippocrates refusing 
the bric-a-brac of Artaxerxes. You need not try to sooth 
me. Moreover, I am melancholy. What would you have me 
say? Man is bad; man is a deformity. The butterfly is a 
success, but man is a failure. God made a mistake with that 

" A crowd is a choice of ugliness ; the first-comer is a scoun- 
drel, and woman rhymes with human. Yes, I have the spleen, 
complicated with melancholy, homesickness, and a dash of 
hypochondria ; and I am put out, and I rage, and I yawn, and 
I am bored, and I am tired to death, and I am horribly dull. 
To the Devil with God ! " 

" Silence, big R," again remarked Bossuet, who was dis- 
cussing a legal point with some chums, and was plunged waist- 
deep in a phrase of judicial slang, of which the following is 
the end : 

" For my part, although I am scarce an authority, and at 
the most, an amateur lawyer, I assert this, that, according to 
the terms of the customs of Normandy, upon Michaelmas Day, 
and for every year, an equivalent must be paid to the lord of 
the manor, by all and singular, both by proprietors and by 


tenants for life, and that for every lease, copyhold, allodium, 
mortgage " 

"Echo, plaintive nymph I" 

hummed Grantaire. 

Close to Grantaire, at an almost silent table, a quire of 
paper, an inkstand, and a pen between two glasses of brandy 
announced that a farce was being sketched out. 

This great affair was discussed in a low voice, and the 
heads of the two workers almost touched. 

" Let us begin with the names ; for when you have the 
names you have the plot." 

" That is true ; dictate, and I will write." 

" Monsieur Dorimon ? " 

" A man of means ? " 

" Of course. His daughter Celestine." 

" tine. Who next?" 

" Colonel Sainval." 

" Sainval is worn out. I should say Valsin." 

Besides these theatrical aspirants, another group, which also 
took advantage of the noise to talk low, was discussing a 

An old fellow of thirty was advising a young man of eight- 
een, and explaining with what sort of adversary he had to 

" Hang it ! You will have to be careful, for he is a 
splendid swordsman. He can attack, makes no useless feints, 
has a strong wrist, brilliancy, and mathematical parries. And 
then he is left-handed." 

In the corner opposite Grantaire, Joly and Bahorel were 
playing dominos, and talking of love. 

" You are in luck," said Joly ; " you have a mistress who 
is always laughing." 

" There she makes a mistake," said Bahorel. " A man's 
mistress does wrong to laugh, for it encourages him to deceive 
her; for seeing her gay saves you from remorse. If you see 
her sad, you have scruples of conscience." 


" Ungrateful man ! A woman who laughs is so nice. And 
you never quarrel." 

" That results from the treaty we made. On forming our 
little Holy Alliance, we assigned ourselves each a frontier, 
which we never cross. Hence comes peace." 

" Peace is happiness digesting." 

" And you, Jol-1-l-ly, how does your quarrel stand with 
Mamselle, you know whom I mean ? " 

" Oh, she still sulks with cruel patience." 

" And yet you are a lover of most touching thinness." 


" In your place, I would leave her." 

" It's easy to say that." 

" And to do. Is not her name Musichetta? " 

" Yes. Ah, my dear Bahorel, she is a superb girl, very 
literary, with little hands and feet, dresses with taste, is white 
and dimpled, and has eyes like a gypsy fortune-teller. I am 
wild about her." 

" Then you must please her. Dress well, buy fashionable 
trousers ; that will help." 

" For how much? " cried Grantaire. 

The third corner was given over to a poetical discussion. 
Pagan Mythology was quarrelling with Christian Mythology. 
The question was Olympus, whose part Jean Prouvaire took 
out of sheer romance. 

Jean Prouvaire was timid only when in repose. Once ex- 
cited, he broke out; a sort of gayety accentuated his en- 
thusiasm, and he was both laughing and lyric. 

" Let us not insult the gods," said he, " for perhaps they 
have not all departed. Jupiter does not impress me as dead. 
The gods are dreams, you say. Well, even in Nature, such 
as it is at the present day, and after the flight of these 
dreams, we still find all the old Pagan myths. A mountain 
with the profile of a citadel, like the Vignemale, for instance, 
is still to me the headdress of Cybele. It has not yet been 
proved to me that Pan does not come at night to breath into 
the hollow trunks of willows, stopping their holes with his 


fingers in turn ; and I have ever believed that lo had some con- 
nection with the cascade of Pissevache." 

In the last corner, politics were being discussed, and the 
newly granted Charter was pulled to pieces. Corabeferre sup- 
ported it feebly, while Courfeyrac attacked it energetically. 
On the table lay an unlucky copy of the famous Touquet 
Charter. Courfeyrac seized it, and brandished it, mixing 
with his arguments the rustling of this sheet of paper. 

" In the first place, I'll have no kings. If it were only from 
an economic point of view, I'll have none; for a king is a 
parasite, and there are no gratis monarchs. Listen to this: 
kings are an expensive luxury. On the death of Francis I. 
the public debt of France was thirty thousand livres; on the 
death of Louis XIV. it was two milliards six hundred millions, 
at twenty-eight livres the mark, which in 1740 was equivalent, 
according to Desmarets, to four milliards five hundred millions, 
and at the present day would be equal to twelve milliards. In 
the second place, and no offence to Combeferre, a conceded 
charted is a bad expedient of civilization. To save the transi- 
tion, soften the passage, deaden the shock, make the nation 
pass insensibly from monarchy to democracy by the practice 
of constitutional fictions, what detestable reasons are these. 
No, no; let us never enlighten the people with false light. 
Principles pine and grow pale in your constitutional cellar. ' 
No illegitimacy, no compromise, no concession from the king 
to the people ! In all such concessions there is an article ' 
XIV. Besides, the hand that gives is the claw that takes back 
again. I distinctly refuse your charter. A charter is a 
mask, and a lie lurks behind it. A people that accepts a 
charter abdicates; and right is only right when entire. No 
charter, then, I say." 

It was winter. A couple of logs were crackling on the 
hearth. This was tempting, a-nd Courfeyrac did not resist. 
He crumpled up the poor Touquet Charter and threw it in 
the fire; the paper blazed, and Combeferre philosophically 
watched the masterpiece of Louis XVIII. burn, contenting 
himself with saying : 


" The charter metamorphosed into flame." 

And sarcasms, sallies, jests, that French thing which is 
called entrain*, that English thing which is called humour, good 
taste and bad, sound reasons and unsound, all the sky rockets 
of dialogue, ascending together and crossing each other in 
all parts of the room, produced a sort of merry bombardment 
above their heads. 



fllHE collision of young minds has this admirable thing 
J. about it, that the spark can never be foreseen or the 
lightning flash divined. What will shoot forth presently? 
No one knows. The burst of laughter starts from emotion. 
In a comic moment the serious makes its entrance. 

The impulse is given by some chance word; a pun opens 
the way to the unexpected. The dialogue has sharp turns, 
when the view suddenly changes. Hazard is the scene-shifter 
in each conversation. A stern thought, which strangely is- 
sued from a clash of words, suddenly flashed through the 
medley of words in which Grantaire, Bahorel, Prouvaire, Bos- 
suet, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac were blindly slashing and 

How is that a phrase suddenly springs up in conversation 
and underlines itself at once in the attention of those who 
hear it? As we have just said, no one knows. In the midst 
of the general confusion, Bossuet concluded some remark to 
Combeferre with the date : 

" June 18, 1815, Waterloo." 

At this name of Waterloo, Marius, who was leaning over 
a glass of water on a table, removed his hand from under his 
chin, and looked intently at the company. 

" Pardieu ! " Courfeyrac exclaimed (parbleu at this period 


was beginning to go out of fashion), " that number eighteen 
is strange, and strikes me. It is Bonaparte's fatal number. 
Place Louis before and Brumaire behind, and you have the 
man's whole destiny, with this expressive peculiarity, that the 
end treads upon the heels of the beginning." 

Enjolras, who had hitherto been dumb, now broke the 
silence, and said : 

" Courfeyrac, you mean the expiation upon the crime." 

This word crime exceeded the measure which Marius, who 
was already greatly agitated by this sudden reference to 
Waterloo, could accept. 

He rose, walked slowly to the map of France hanging on 
the wall, at the bottom of which was an island in a separate 
compartment; he placed his finger on this compartment and 
said : 

" Corsica, a small island, which made France very 

This was like a breath of icy air; all were silent, for they 
felt that something was about to happen. 

Bahorel, replying to Bossuet, was assuming a victorious 
attitude to which he was addicted, but gave it up in order to 

Enjolras, whose blue eye was fixed on no one, and who 
seemed to be examining space, answered, without looking at 
Marius : 

" France requires no Corsica to be great. France is great 
because she is France. Quia nominor leo." 

Marius felt no desire to retreat; he turned to Enjolras, and 
his voice had a strange vibration, produced by his internal 

" Heaven forbid that I should detract from France ; but it 
is not detracting from her to combine Napoleon with her. 
Come, let us talk; I am a new-comer among you, but I con- 
fess that you astonish me. Where are we? Who are we? 
Who are you? Who am I? Let us come to an understand- 
ing about the Emperor. I hear you call him Buonaparte, 
laying a stress on the u, like the royalists; but I must tell 


yon that my grandfather does better still, for he says * Buona- 
parte.' I thought you were young men, but where is your 
enthusiasm, and what do you do with it? Whom do you ad- 
mire, if not the Emperor? and what more do you want? If 
you will have none of that great man, what great men will you 
have? He had everything? He was complete. In his brain 
was the sum of human faculties. He made codes like Justin- 
ian, and dictated like Cassar; his conversation blended the 
lightnings of Pascal with the thunders of Tacitus; he made 
history and wrote it, and his bulletins are Iliads ; he combined 
the figures of Newton with the metaphor of Mahomet. He 
left behind him in the East, words great as the Pyramids ; at 
Tilsit he taught majesty to Emperors; in the Academy of 
Sciences he answered Laplace ; in the Council of State he held 
his own against Merlin, he gave a soul to the geometry 
of the one and to the sophistry of the other, for he was legist 
with the lawyers, sidereal with the astronomers. Like Crom- 
well, blowing out one of two candles, he went to the Temple 
to bargain for a certain tassel. He saw everything, knew 
everything; but that did not prevent him from laughing 
heartily beside the cradle of his new-born son. And all at 
once startled Europe listened ; armies were on the march, parks 
of artillery rolled along, bridges of boats were thrown across 
rivers, clouds of cavalry galloped in the hurricane, and shouts, 
bugles, and the crash of thrones were heard on every hand. 
The frontiers of kingdoms oscillated on the map, the sound of 
a superhuman sword drawn from its scabbard was heard, and 
he was seen standing erect on the horizon, with a gleaming 
cimeter in his hand, and a splendour in his eyes, unfolding 
amid the thunder his two wings, the Grand Army and the 
Old Guard. He was the archangel of war." 

All were silent, and Enjolras hung his head. Silence al- 
ways produces somewhat the effect of acquiescence, or a sort 
of setting the back against the wall. Marius, almost with- 
out drawing breath, continued with increased enthusiasm: 

" Let us be just, my friends. What a splendid destiny for 
a people to be the empire of such an emperor, when that 


people is France, and adds its own genius to the genius of 
that man ! To appear and reign ; to march and triumph ; to 
have every capital as bivouac; to select grenadiers and make 
kings of them ; to decree the downfall of dynasties ; to trans- 
figure Europe at double-quick step ; to feel when you threaten 
that you lay your hand on the sword-hilt of God ; to follow in 
one man Hannibal, Cassar, and Charlemagne ; to be the people 
of a ruler who accompanies your every day-break with the 
brilliant announcement of a battle gained; to be aroused in 
the morning by the guns of the Invalides; to cast into the 
abysses of light prodigious words which are eternally lumi- 
nous, Marengo, Arcola, Austerlitz, Jena, and Wagram ! 
To produce each moment on the zenith of centuries constella- 
tions of victories ; to make the French empire a counterpart of 
the Roman empire ; to be the great nation, and to give birth to 
the Grand Army ; to send its legions all over the world, as the 
mountain sends its eagles in all directions, to conquer, rule, and 
crush ; to be in Europe a people gilded by glory ; to sound a 
Titanic flourish of trumpets through history; to conquer the 
world twice, by conquest and by amazement, all this is sub- 
lime, and what is there greater ? " 

" To be free," said Combeferre. 

Marius in his turn hung his head. This simple, cold re- 
mark traversed his epic effusion like a steel blade, and he felt 
it fading away within him. When he raised his eyes, Combe- A 
ferre was no longer there. Probably satisfied with his reply 
to the apotheosis, he had left the room, and all, except 
Enjolras, had followed him. Enjolras, alone with Marius, 
gazed gravely at him. Marius, however, having slightly col- 
lected his ideas, did not confess himself defeated; he was 
still in a mental ferment which was in all probability about 
to translate itself into syllogisms directed against Enjolras, 
when he suddenly heard some one singing on the staircase. 
It was Combeferre, and this is what he sang: 

"If Caesar should give me 
Bloody battle and fame, 
And the love of my mother 


I must give for the same, 
To great Caesar I'd say, 
*Take your sceptre, your bay; 
My mother is dearer to me! 
My mother is dearer to me ! ' " 

The wild and tender tone in which Combeferre sang this 
couplet, lent it a strange grandeur. Marius, with his eye 
fixed pensively on the ceiling, repeated almost mechanically, 
" my mother ! " 

At that moment he felt Enjolras's hand on his shoulder. 

" Citizen," said Enjolras, " my mother is the Republic." 



T 1 1 HAT evening left Marius profoundly stirred and with a 
JL sad shadow in his soul. He felt what the earth may feel 
when it is opened by the plowshare that the seed corn may be 
sowed, it feels only the wound ; the growth of the germ and 
the joy of the fruit does not come till later. 

Marius was gloomy; he had only just gained a faith, and 
must he reject it already? He declared to himself that he 
would not; he resolved not to doubt, and began to doubt in- 
voluntarily. To stand between two religions, one of which 
you have not yet lost, and the other which you have not yet 
entered, is unendurable, and twilight only pleases bat-like 
souls. Marius was clear-sighted, and he required true light; 
the semi-lustre of doubt hurt him. Whatever might be his 
desire to remain where he was and cling to what he had, he was 
irresistibly constrained to continue, to advance, to think, to 
go farther. Whither would this lead him? He feared lest, 
after taking so many steps which had brought him nearer his 
father, he was now going to take steps which would carry 



him away from him. His discomfort increased with all the 
reflections that occurred to him, and a rampart rose around 
him. He agreed neither with his grandfather nor his friends. 
He was too rash for the one and behind the times for the 
others; and he found himself doubly isolated, on the side of 
old age and on the side of youth. He left off going to the 
Cafe Musain. 

In the troubled state of his conscience he did not think at 
all of certain serious sides of existence ; but the realities of life 
will not allow themselves to be forgotten, and so they suddenly 
jogged his memory. One morning the landlord came into 
Marius's room, and said to him: 

" Monsieur Courf eyrac recommended you ? " 

" Yes." 

" But I want my money." 

" Ask Courfeyrac to come and speak to me," said Marius. 

When Courfeyrac came, the landlord left them, and Marius 
told his friend what he had not dreamed of telling him be- 
fore, that he was alone in the world, and had no relations. 

" What will become of you ? " said Courfeyrac. 

" I have no idea," Marius answered. 

" What do you intend doing ? " 

" I do not know." 

" Have you any money ? " 

" Fifteen francs." 

" Are you willing to borrow from me? " 

" Never." 

" Have you clothes ? " 

" There they are." 

" And jewelry? " 

" A gold watch." 

" I know a second-hand clothes-man who will take your 
overcoat and a pair of trousers." 

" Very good." 

" You will have only a pair of trousers, a waistcoat, -a hat, 
and a coat left." 

" And my boots." 


" What ! You will not go barefoot ? What opulence ! " 

" That will be enough." 

" I know a jeweler who will buy your watch." 

" All right." 

" No, it is not all right. What will you do after that ? " 

" Anything that is necessary ; anything that is honest." 

" Do you know English ? " 

" No." 

"Or German?" 

" No." 

" So much the worse." 

"Why so?" 

" Because a friend of mine, a publisher, is preparing a 
sort of encyclopaedia, for which you could have translated 
English or German articles. The pay is bad, but it is possible 
to live on it." 

" I will learn English and German." 

" And in the mean time ? " 

" I will eat my clothes and my watch." 

The clothes-dealer was sent for, and gave twenty francs 
for the coat and trousers; next they went to the jeweler, who 
bought the watch for forty-five francs. 

" That's not so bad," said Marius to Courfeyrac on their 
return to the hotel. " With my fifteen francs, that makes 

" And your bill here ? " observed Courfeyrac. 

" Oh, I forgot that ! " said Marius. 

The landlord presented his bill, which Marius was bound 
to pay at once; it amounted to seventy francs. 

" I have ten francs left," said Marius. 

" The deuce ! " exclaimed Courfeyrac. " You will eat up 
five francs while you are learning English, and five while you 
are learning German. That will be swallowing a language 
very quickly or a five-franc piece very slowly." 

Aunt Gillenormand, who was not a bad-hearted woman in 
cases of distress, had at last unearthed her nephew's abode. 

One morning when Marius returned from the law 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 re- 
spectful note, in which he stated that he would be able in 
future to take care of himself. At that moment he had just 
three francs left. 

The aunt did not tell his grandfather of this refusal, for 
fear of exasperating him. Besides, had he not said : " Never 
mention that blood-drinker's name in my presence." 

Marius left the hotel of the Porte St. Jacques, as he did 
not wish to run into debt. 




LIFE became hard for Marius; to eat his clothes and his 
watch was nothing, but he also went through that in- 
describable process known as " chewing the cud." This is a 
horrible thing, containing days without bread, nights without 
sleep, evenings without candle, a hearth without fire, weeks 
without work, a future without hope, a coat out at elbows, an 
old hat at which the girls laugh, the door locked at night be- 
cause the rent is not paid, the insolence of the porter and the 
eating-house keeper, the grins of neighbours, humiliations, 
dignity trampled under foot, work of any sort taken, disgust, 
bitterness, and despair. Marius learned to swallow all these 
things, and that they are often the only things which a man 
has to swallow. At that moment of his existence when a man 
needs his pride because he needs love, he felt that he was de- 
rided because he was meanly dressed, and ridiculous because 
he was poor. At the age when youth swells the heart with im- 
perial pride, he looked down more than once at his worn-out 
boots, and knew the unjust shame and the burning blushes of 
poverty. It is an admirable and a terrible trial, from which 
the weak come forth infamous and the strong sublime. It is 
the crucible into which destiny throws a man whenever it re- 
quires a scoundrel or a demi-god. 



Many great deeds are performed in minor struggles. 
There are obstinate and unknown heroes who defend them- 
selves inch by inch in the shadows against the fatal invasion 
of want and turpitude. Theirs are noble and mysterious 
triumphs which no eye sees, no renown rewards, and no flourish 
of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandon- 
ment, and poverty are battle-fields which have their heroes, 
obscure heroes who are sometimes greater than illustrious 

Firm and exceptional natures are thus created. Misery, 
nearly always a step-mother, is sometimes a mother; destitu- 
tion brings forth strength of soul and mind; distress is the 
nurse of pride, and misfortune is an excellent milk for the 

There was a time in Marius's life when he swept his own 
landing, when he bought a sou's worth of Brie cheese from 
the fruiterer, when he waited till nightfall to go into the 
baker's shop and buy a loaf, which he carried stealthily to his 
garret as if he had stolen it. Sometimes there might have 
been seen slipping into the butcher's shop at the corner, among 
the gossiping cooks who elbowed him, an awkward young 
man, with books under his arm, who had a timid and yet an 
angry air, who on entering removed his hat from his dripping 
forehead, made a deep bow to the butcher's astonished wife, 
another to the foreman, asked for a mutton-chop, paid six or 
seven sous for it, wrapped the chop in paper, put it under 
his arm between two books, and went away. It was Marius; 
and on this chop, which he cooked himself, he lived for three 

On the first day he ate the meat, on the second he ate the 
fat, and on the third he gnawed the bone. Aunt Gillenormand 
made several attempts, and sent him the sixty pistoles; but 
Marius always returned them, saying that he wanted for 

He was still in mourning for his father when the revolution 
which we have described took place within him; and since 
then he had not left off black clothes, but the clothes left 


him. A day came when he had no coat, though his trousers 
would still pass muster. What was he to do? Courfeyrac, 
to whom he, on his side, had done some good turns, gave him 
an old coat. For thirty sous, Marius had it turned by some 
porter, and it became a new coat. But it was green, and 
Marius henceforth did not go out till nightfall, which caused 
his coat to appear black. As he still wished to dress in mourn- 
ing, he wrapped himself in the night. 

In spite of all this he contrived to pass his examination, 
and was admitted to the bar. He was supposed to inhabit 
Courfeyrac's rooms, which were decent, and where a certain 
number of legal tomes, supported by broken-backed volumes 
of novels, represented the library prescribed by the regula- 
tions. His letters were addressed to Courfeyrac's lodgings. 

When Marius was called to the bar, he informed his grand- 
father of the fact in a letter, which was cold, but full of sub- 
mission and respect. M. Gillenormand took the letter with 
a trembling hand, read it, tore it in four pieces, and threw 
them into the waste basket. Two or three days later, Mile. 
Gillenormand heard her father, who was alone in his room, 
talking aloud, as he always did when he was agitated. She 
listened, and heard the old gentleman say, " If you were not 
an ass, you would know that you cannot be at the same time 
a baron and a lawyer." 



IT is the same with misery as with everything else, in the 
end it becomes possible ; it assumes a shape. A man vege- 
tates, that is to say, is developed in a certain poor way, 
which is, however, sufficient for life. This is the sort of 
existence which Marius Pontmercy had secured: 


He had got over the worst straits, and the valley had 
opened slightly before him. By dint of labour, courage, 
perseverance, and will, he contrived to earn about seven hun- 
dred francs a year by his work. He had taught himself Eng- 
lish and German; and, thanks to Courfeyrac, who introduced 
him to his friend the publisher, he filled the modest post of 
hack in his office. He wrote prospectuses, translated news- 
papers, annotated editions, compiled biographies, and, one 
year with another, his net receipts were seven hundred francs. 
He lived upon them how ? Not badly, as we shall show. 

Marius occupied at No. 50-52, for the annual rent of thirty 
francs, a garret without a fireplace, which was called a " cabi- 
net," and contained only the most indispensable articles of 
furniture. This furniture was his own. He paid three francs 
a month to the old " chief lodger " for sweeping out his hole, 
and bringing him every morning a little hot water, a new-laid 
egg, and a roll. On this roll and egg he breakfasted; and 
the outlay varied from two to four sous, according as eggs 
were cheap or dear. At six in the evening, he went to the 
Rue St. Jacques to dine at Rousseau's, exactly opposite Bas- 
set's, the print-shop at the corner of the Rue des Mathurins. 
He did not eat soup, but he ordered a plate of meat for six 
sous, a half portion of vegetables for three sous, and a three 
sous dessert. For three sous he had as much bread as he liked, 
and for wine he drank water. When he paid at the desk, 
where Madame Rousseau, at that period a fat and still good- 
looking dame, was majestically enthroned, 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 
water- jugs were emptied, was rather a sedative than a re- 
storer. It no longer exists ; but the master had a wonderful 
nickname, he was called " Rousseau the Aquatic." 

Thus, with breakfast four sous, dinner sixteen, his food 
cost him three hundred and sixty-five francs a year. Add 
thirty francs for rent, the thirty-six francs for the old woman, 
and a few minor expenses, and for four hundred and fifty 


francs Marius was boarded, lodged, and served. His clothes 
cost him a hundred francs, his linen fifty, his washing fifty, 
but the whole did not exceed six hundred and fifty francs. He 
had fifty left, and was rich; he sometimes lent ten francs to 
a friend, and Courfeyrac once actually borrowed sixty francs 
of him. As for fuel, as Marius had no fireplace, he " sim- 
plified " matters. 

Marius always had two complete suits, one old, for every- 
day wear, and the other new, for occasions; and both were 
black. He had but three shirts, one on, one in the drawer, 
and one at the wash ; and he renewed them as they became worn 
out. As they were usually torn, he had a fashion of button- 
ing his coat to the chin. 

It had taken Marius years to reach this flourisning condi- 
tion, difficult years, in which he underwent great struggles ; 
but his courage had not failed for a single day. As re- 
garded want, he had suffered everything, and he had done 
everything, except run into debt. He gave himself the credit 
of never having owed any one a sou ; for to him debt was the 
beginning of slavery. He said to himself that a creditor is 
worse than a master; for a master only holds your person, 
while a creditor holds your dignity and may insult it. Sooner 
than borrow he went without eating, and he had known many 
days of fasting. Feeling that unless a man is careful, re- 
duction of fortune may lead to baseness of soul, he jealously 
watched over his pride. Many a remark or action which, 
under other circumstances, he would have regarded as defer- 
ence, now seemed to him a platitude, and he resisted it. He 
ventured nothing, as he did not wish to withdraw anything. 
His face wore a stern flush, and he was timid almost to rude- 

In all his trials he was encouraged, and to some extent 
supported, by a secret force within him ; for the soul helps the 
body and at times raises it, and is the only bird that upholds 
its own cage. 

Beside his father's name, another name was engraved on 
Marius's heart, that of Thenardier. Marius, with his grave 


and enthusiastic nature, surrounded with a sort of halo the man 
to whom he owed his father's life, that intrepid sergeant 
who saved his colonel amid the cannon-balls and bullets of 
Waterloo. He never separated the memory of this man from 
that of his father, and he associated them in his veneration ; 
it was a sort of shrine with two steps, the high altar for 
the colonel, the lower one for Thenardier. What doubled the 
tenderness of his gratitude was the thought of the misfortune 
which he knew had befallen Thenardier, swallowed him up. 
Marius had learned at Montfermeil the ruin and bankruptcy 
of the unfortunate landlord, and since then had made extraor- 
dinary afforts to find traces of him, and to reach him in the 
frightful abyss of misery in which Thenardier had disap- 
peared. Marius searched the country: he visited Chelles, 
Bondy, Gournay, Nogent, and Lagny, and obstinately con- 
tinued his search for three years, spending in these explora- 
tions the little money that he saved. No one could give him 
the slightest information of Thenardier, and it was supposed 
that he had gone abroad. His creditors had sought him too, 
with less love, but quite as much perseverance, as Marius, and 
had been unable to lay hands on him. Marius blamed him- 
self, and was almost angry with himself for not succeeding in 
his search; it was the only debt the colonel had left him, and 
he felt in honour bound to pay it. " What ! " he thought, 
" when my father lay dying on the battle-field, Thenardier 
contrived to find him in the midst of the smoke and grape-shot 
and carried him off on his shoulders, although he owed him 
nothing, while I, who owe so much to Thenardier, cannot come 
up with him in the shadow where he is dying of want, and in 
my turn bring him back from death to life. Oh, I will find 
him ! " In fact, Marius would have given one of his arms to 
find Thenardier, and his last drop of blood to save him from 
want; and his sweetest and most magnificent dream was 
to see Thenardier, to do him some service, and say to him, 
" You do not know me, but I know you. Here I am ; dis- 
pose of me." 




AT this period, Marius was twenty years of age. It was 
three years since he left his grandfather's house. They 
remained on the same terms, without attempting a reconcilia- 
tion or trying to meet. What good would it have been to 
meet ? to come into collision again ? Which of them would 
have got the better? Marius was the brass vase, but Father 
Gillenormand was the iron pot. 

We are bound to say that Marius was mistaken as to his 
grandfather's heart; he imagined that M. Gillenormand had 
never loved him, and that the sharp, crusty, laughing old man, 
who cursed, shouted, stormed, and raised his cane, felt for him 
at the most only that slight and severe affection of the Geron- 
tes, the dotards of comedy. Marius was mistaken. There are 
fathers who do not love their children ; but there is no grand- 
father who does not adore his grandson. In his heart, as we 
said, M. Gillenormand idolized Marius. He idolized him, it 
is true, after his own fashion, with an accompaniment of abuse 
and even of blows; but when the lad had disappeared he felt 
a black void in his heart. He insisted that his name should 
never be mentioned, but secretly regretted that he was so stricly 
obeyed. At first, he hoped that this Bonapartist, this Jacobin, 
this terrorist, this Septembrist, would return ; but weeks passed, 
months passed, years passed, and, to the great despair of M. 
Gillenormand the " blood drinker " did not reappear. " I 
could not do otherwise, though, than turn him out," said the 
grandfather ; and he asked himself, " If it were to do over 
again, would I do it? " His pride at once answered " Yes;" 
but his old head, which he silently shook, sorrowfully an- 
swered " No." He had his hours of depression, for he missed 
Marius, and old men require affection as much as they do the 
sun to warm them. However strong he might naturally be, 


the absence of Marius had wrought a change in him ; nothing 
in the world would have induced him to take a step toward the 
" little scamp ; " but he suffered. He never asked about him, 
but he thought of him constantly. He lived in greater retire- 
ment than ever in the Marais; he was still gay and violent 
as of yore, but his gayety had a convulsive harshness, as if 
it contained grief and passion, and his violence generally 
ended in a sort of gentle and sombre depression. He would 
say to himself at times, " Oh, if he were to come back, what a 
hearty box on the ear I would give him ! " 

As for the aunt, she thought too little to love much. To 
her, Marius was only a vague, black shadow; and in the end 
she paid much less attention to him than to the cat or the par- 
rot which she probably had. What added to Father Gillenor- 
mand's secret suffering was, that he shut it up within himself, 
and did not allow its existence to be divined. His chagrin was 
like one of those newly invented furnaces which consume their 
own smoke. Sometimes officious friends would speak to him of 
Marius, and ask, " How is your grandson, and what is he 
doing?" The old tradesman would answer, with a sigh if 
he were sad, or with a flip of his frill if he wished to appear 
gay, " Baron Pontmercy is playing the lawyer in some corner 
or other." 

While the old man regretted, Marius applauded him- 
self. As is the case with all good hearts, misfortune had 
freed him from bitterness. He thought kindly of M. Gil- 
lenormand ; but he was resolved never to accept anything from 
a man who had been unjust to his father. This was the 
mitigated translation of his first indignation. Moreover, he 
was glad that he had suffered, and was still suffering, for he 
did so for his father's sake. The hardness of his life satisfied 
and pleased him; and he said to himself, with a sort of joy, 
that it was the least he could do, and that it was an expiation ; 
that, were it not so, he would have been punished, otherwise 
and hereafter, for his impious indifference toward his father, 
and such a father; that it would not have been just for his 
father to have all the suffering and he none ; and, besides, what 


were his toll and want when compared with the colonel's heroic 
life? Lastly, that his only way of approaching his father, 
and resembling 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 be 
worthy of it," words which Marius continued to wear, not 
on his breast, as the colonel's letter had disappeared, but in 
his heart. 

And then, again, on the day when his grandfather turned 
him out, he was only a boy, while now he was a man and felt 
he was so. Misery, we repeat, had been good for him; for 
poverty in youth, when it succeeds, has the magnificent re- 
sult of turning the whole will toward effort, and the whole soul 
toward aspiration. Poverty at once lays bare material life 
and renders it hideous; and hence come indescribable soarings 
toward the ideal life. The rich young man has a thousand 
brilliant and coarse amusements, races, shooting, dogs, to- 
bacco, gambling, good dinners, and so on, which are occupa- 
tions of the lower side of the soul at the expense of the higher 
and more refined side. The poor young man has to work for 
his bread ; and when he has eaten, he has only revery left him. 
He goes to the free spectacles which God gives him ; he gazes 
at the sky, space, stars, flowers, children, the humanity in 
which he suffers, and the creation in which he shines. He 
looks so much at humanity that he sees the soul, and so much 
at creation that he sees God. He dreams, and feels himself 
great; he dreams again, and feels himself tender. From the 
egotism of the man who suffers, he passes to the compassion of 
the man who contemplates ; and an admirable feeling is aroused 
in him, forgetfulness of self, and pity for all. When he 
thinks of the numberless enjoyments which Nature offers, 
gives, and lavishes on open minds, and refuses to closed minds, 
he, the millionaire of intellect, learns to pity the million- 
aire of money. Hatred departs from his heart in proportion 
as light enters his mind. Moreover, is he unhappy ? No ; for 
the wretchedness of a young man is never wretched. Take the 
first lad who passes, however poor he may be, with his health, 


his strength, his quick step, his sparkling eyes, his blood 
circulating warmly, his black hair, his ruddy cheeks, his coral 
lips, his white teeth, and his pure breath, and he will ever be an 
object of envy to an aged emperor. And then, each morning 
he sets to work afresh to earn his livelihood; and while his 
hands earn bread, his backbone gains strength, and his brain 
ideas. When his work is over, he returns to ineffable ecstasies, 
to contemplation and joys. He lives with his feet set in af- 
flictions, in obstacles, on the pavement, in the brambles, or at 
times in the mud, but his head is in the light. He is firm, 
serene, gentle, peaceful, attentive, serious, satisfied with a little, 
and kindly; and he blesses God for having given him those 
two forms of riches which rich men often lack, labour which 
makes him free, and thought which renders him worthy. 

This is what had happened to Marius; and, truth to tell, 
he inclined almost too much to the side of contemplation. 
From the day when he felt tolerably certain of a livelihood, 
he stopped there, thinking it good to be poor, and taking from 
labour hours which he gave to thought. That is to say, he 
spent entire days now and then in dreaming, plunged like a 
visionary swallowed up in the silent delights of ecstasy. He 
had thus arranged the problem of his life, to toil as little as 
possible at the material task, in order to work as much as 
possible at the impalpable task; in other words, to devote a 
few hours to real life, and throw the rest into the infinite. 
As he thought that he lacked nothing, he did not see that con- 
templation, thus understood, ends by becoming one of the 
forms of indolence; that he was content with subduing the 
absolute necessities of life; and that he was resting too soon. 

It was evident that for such a generous and energetic na- 
ture as his, this could only be a transitional state, and that 
at the first collision with the inevitable complications of des- 
tiny Marius would wake. 

Meantime, although he was called to the bar, and whatever 
Father Gillenormand might think, he did not play the pleader ; 
for revery had turned him away from pleas. It was a bore 
to flatter attorneys, attend regularly at the Palais de Jus- 


tlce, and seek for briefs. And why should he do it? He 
saw no reason to change his means of existence. His obscure 
and ill-paid task was assured to him ; he had but little labour 
over it; and, as we have explained, he considered his income 

One of the publishers for whom he worked M. Magimel, 
I think offered to take him into his own house, to lodge 
him comfortably, find him regular work, and pay him fifteen 
hundred francs a year. To be comfortably lodged, and have 
fifteen hundred francs a year! Agreeable things, no doubt; 
but, then, to resign his liberty, to be a hired servant, a sort of 
literary clerk ! In the opinion of Marius, if he accepted, his 
position would become both better and worse. He would gain 
comfort and lose dignity; he would exchange a complete and 
fine misfortune for an ugly and ridiculous constraint ; it would 
be something like a blind man who should regain the sight of 
one eye. So he declined the offer. 

Marius lived in solitude. Owing to his inclination for hold- 
ing aloof from everything, and also owing to the agitation 
he had undergone, he avoided the society presided over bj 
Enjolras. They remained excellent friends, ready to help 
each other when opportunity offered, but nothing more. 
Marius had two friends, one, young Courfeyrac; the other, 
(< old M. Mabreuf ; and he inclined to the latter. In the first 
place, he owed him the revolution which had taken place in 
him, and to him he owed his knowledge and love of his father. 
" He operated on me for a cataract," he would say. 

Certainly this churchwarden had played a decisive part. 

For all that, M. Maboeuf had only been the calm and im- 
passive agent of Providence in this affair. He had enlight- 
ened Marius accidentally and unconsciously, just as a candle 
does which some one brings into a room; but he had been the 
candle, and not the some one. 

As for the internal political revolution which had taken 
place in Marius, M. Maboeuf was entirely incapable of un- 
derstanding, wishing or directing it. 

As we shall meet M. Maboeuf again, a few remarks about 
him will not be thrown away. 




^/^\N the day when M. Mabceuf said to Marlus, " I cer- 
V_-/ tainly approve of political opinions," he expressed the 
real state of his mind. All political opinions were a matter of 
indifference to him, and he approved of them all without dis- 
tinction, providing that they left him in peace, just as the 
Greeks called the Furies " the beautiful, the good, the charm- 
ing," the Eumenides. M. Maboeuf's political opinion was to 
love plants passionately, and books even more. He possessed, 
like everybody else, his termination in 1st, without which no 
one could exist at that day ; but he was neither royalist, Bon- 
apartist, chartist, Orleanist, nor anarchist, he was a bib- 

He did not understand how men could come to hate each 
other for trifles like the charter, democracy, legitimacy, mon- 
archy, the republic, etc., when there were in the world all sorts 
jf mosses, grasses, and plants which they might look at, and 
piles of folios, and even 32mos, whose pages they might turn 
over. He was very careful not to be useless ; his having 
books, did not prevent his reading them, and being a bota- 
nist did not prevent his being a gardener. When he knew 
Colonel Pontmercy, there was this sympathy between them, 
that the colonel did for flowers what he did for fruits. M. 
Maboeuf had succeeded in producing seedling pears as deli- 
cious as those of St. Germain ; it is to one of his combinations, 
apparently that the October Mirabelle, which is still cele- 
brated, and no less perfumed than the summer Mirabelles, 
owes its origin. He attended Mass more from gentleness 
than devotion, and because, while he loved men's faces but 
hated their noise, he found them assembled and silent only in 
church. Feeling that he must hold some position in the State, 
he selected that of churchwarden. He had never succeeded 


in loving any woman so much as a tulip bulb, nor any man so 
nmch as an Elzevir. He had long passed his sixtieth year, 
when some one asked him one day, " How is it that you never 
married? " " I have forgotten," he said. When he hap- 
pened to say and to whom does it not happen ? " Oh, if 
I were rich ! " it was not when ogling a pretty girl, like Father 
Gillenormand, but when contemplating a quarto. He lived 
alone with an old housekeeper; he was rather gouty, and 
when he slept, his old chalk-stoned fingers formed an arch in 
the folds of the sheets. He had written and published a 
" Flora of the Environs of Cauteretz," with coloured plates, 
a work of some merit of which he possessed the plates, 
and sold it himself. People rang at his door in the Rue 
Mezieres two or three times a day to buy a copy; he made 
a profit of about two thousand francs a year by the book, 
and this was nearly his whole fortune. Although poor, he 
had contrived by patience and privation, and with time, to 
form a valuable collection of all sorts of rare copies. He 
never went out without a book under his arm, and frequently 
returned with two. The sole ornaments of his four rooms 
on the ground-floor, which, with a small garden, formed his 
lodging, were herbals, and engravings by old masters. The 
sight of a musket or a sabre froze him ; and in his life he had 
never walked up to a cannon, not even at the Invalides. He 
had a tolerable stomach, a brother who was a priest, very 
white hair, no teeth in his mouth or in his mind, a tremor in 
every limb, a Picardy accent, a childish laugh, and the air of 
an old sheep. He was easily frightened. Withal, he had 
no other friend or acquaintance among the living than an old 
bookseller at the Porte St. Jacques, of the name of Royol; 
and the dream of his life was to naturalize indigo in France. 
His maid-servant was also a sort of innocent. The good 
woman was an old maid, and Sultan, her tom-cat, who might 
have mewed the " Miserere " of Allegri in the Sistine Chapel, 
Riled her heart, and sufficed for the amount of passion within 
her. Not one of her dreams had ever gone so far as a man. 
She had never got beyond her cat; like him, she had a mus- 


tache. Her glory consisted in spotless white caps, and she 
spent her time on Sunday, after Mass, in counting the linen 
in her box, and spreading on her bed the gowns which she 
bought in the piece and never had made up. She knew how 
to read, and M. Maboeuf had christened her Mother Plutarch. 

M. Maboeuf had taken a fancy to Marius, because the young 
man, being young and gentle, warmed his old age without 
startling his timidity. Youth, combined with gentleness, pro- 
duces on aged people the effect of sun without wind. When 
Marius was saturated with military glory, gunpowder, 
marches and countermarches, and all the prodigious battles 
in which his father gave and received such mighty sabre- 
cuts, he went to see M. Maboeuf, who talked to him about the 
hero in his connection with flowers. 

About the year 1830 his brother, the priest died, and al- 
most immediately after, as when night falls, the entire hori- 
zon grew dark for M. Maboeuf. The bankruptcy of a notary 
despoiled him of ten thousand francs, all he possessed of 
his brother's capital and his own, while the revolution of 
July produced a crisis in the book trade. In times of pres- 
sure the first thing which does not sell is a " Flora ; " and the 
" Flora of the Environs of Cauteretz " stopped short. Weeks 
passed without a purchaser. Sometimes M. Maboeuf started 
at the sound of the house-bell; but Mother Plutarch would 
say sadly, " It is the water-carrier, sir." In a word M. Ma- 
boeuf left the Rue Mezieres one day, resigned his office as 
churchwarden, gave up St. Sulpice, sold a portion, not of his 
books, but of his engravings, for which he cared least, and 
installed himself in a small house on the Boulevard Montpar- 
nasse where, however, he remained only three months, for two 
reasons, in the first place, the ground-floor and garden cost 
three hundred francs, and he did not dare set aside more 
than two hundred francs for rent; and secondly, as he was 
close to the Fatou shooting-gallery, he heard pistol-shots, 
which he could not endure. 

He carried off his " Flora," his copper-plates, his herbals, 
portfolios, and books, and settled down near the Salpetriere, 


in' a sort of thatched cottage, in the village of Austerlitz, 
where he rented for fifty crowns a year three rooms, a garden 
enclosed by a hedge, and a well. He took advantage of this 
removal to sell nearly all his furniture. On the day when he 
entered his new house he was in very good spirits, and drove 
in with his own hands the nails on which the herbariums and 
engravings were to hang. He dug in his garden for the rest 
of the day; and at night, seeing that Mother Plutarch had 
an anxious look and was thoughtful, he tapped her on the 
shoulder and said with a smile, " We have the indigo." 

Only two visitors (the publisher and Marius) were allowed 
admission to his hut in Austerlitz, a noisy name, by the 
way, which was most disagreeable to him. 

As we have remarked, things of this world permeate very 
slowly brains absorbed in wisdom, or folly, or, as often hap- 
pens, in both at once. Their own destiny is remote from 
them. The result of such concentration is a passiveness which, 
were it rational, would resemble philosophy. Men sink, de- 
cline, drift away, even crumble to pieces, without being ex- 
actly conscious of it, though it always ends in a re-awaken- 
ing; but the awakening is tardy. Meantime, it seems as if 
they were neutral in the game, which is being played between 
their happiness and misery; they are the stakes, and look on 
at the game with indifference. 

It was thus that M. Maboeuf remained rather childishly 
but most profoundly serene, amidst the clouds which were 
gradually enveloping him, and while his hopes were extin- 
guished in turn. The habits of his mind had the regular 
movement of a clock ; and when he was once wound up by an 
illusion, he went on for a very long time, even after the illusion 
had disappeared. A clock does not stop at the precise mo- 
ment when the key is lost. 

M. Maboeuf had innocent pleasures, which cost but little 
and were unexpected, and the slightest accident supplied him 
with them. 

One day Mother Plutarch was reading a novel in the corner 
of the room; she was reading aloud, finding that she under- 


stood better in that way. There are some persons who read 
very loud, and look as if they were pledging themselves their 
word of honour about what they are reading. 

Mother Plutarch read her novel with an energy of this 
nature, and M. Maboeuf heard her without listening. 

While reading, Mother Plutarch came to the following 
passage, relating to an officer of dragoons and a beauty: 

" The beauty pouted, and the dragoon " 

Here she broke off to wipe her spectacles. 

" Buddha and the dragon," M. Maboeuf repeated in a low 
voice. " Yes, that is true ; there was a dragon, which lived 
in a cavern, belched flames, and set fire to the sky. Several 
stars had already been burned up by this monster, which had 
tiger claws, by the bye, when Buddha went into its den and 
succeeded in converting the dragon. That is an excellent 
book you are reading, Mother Plutarch, and there cannot be 
a finer legend." 

And M. Mabauf fell into a delicious revery. 



MARIUS liked this candid old man who saw himself slowly 
falling into the clutches of poverty, and who was 
somewhat surprised, yet not depressed, by it. Marius met 
Courfeyracs, and sought M. Maboeuf, very rarely, however ; 
once or twice a month at the most. 

Marius's delight was to take long walks alone, either on the 
outer boulevards, or on the Champ de Mars, or in the least- 
frequented walks of the Luxembourg. He often spent half 
a day looking at a market-garden, the patches of lettuce, 
the fowls on the dung-heap, and the horse turning the water- 
wheel. Passers-by looked at him in surprise, and some 


thought his dress suspicious and his mien dangerous, while 
he was only a poor young man thinking without an object. 

It was in one of these walks that he discovered the Gorbeau 
House; and its isolation and the cheapness tempting him, he 
took a room there. He was known only by the name of M. 

Some of his father's old generals and old comrades invited 
him to come and see them, when they knew of him; and 
Marius did not refuse, for they gave him an opportunity to 
talk of his father. He called thus from time to time upon 
Count Pajol, General Bella vesne, and General Frerion, at 
the Invalides. There was generally music and dancing, and 
on such evenings Marius put on his best suit; but he never 
went to such parties except on days when it was freezing 
tremendously hard, for he could not pay for a vehicle, and 
he would not go unless his boots were like looking-glasses. 

He would sometimes say, though not at all bitterly, " Men 
are so constituted that in a drawing-room you may have mud 
everywhere except on your boots. In order to insure a proper 
reception, only one irreproachable thing is expected of you, 
your conscience? no; your boots." 

All passions, save those of the heart, are dissipated by 
revery. The political fever of Marius vanished thus; and 
the revolution of 1830 aided in this process, by satisfying 
and calming him. He remained the same, except in his pas- 
sion; he still held the same opinions, but they were softened 
down. Properly speaking, he no longer had opinions, but 
sympathies. To what party did he belong? To that of 
humanity. Out of humanity he selected France; out of the 
nation he chose the people; and out of the people, woman, 
and his pity was mainly given to her. Now he preferred an 
idea to a fact, a poet to a hero, and he admired a book like 
Job even more than an event like Marengo; and when after 
a day spent in meditation, he returned at evening along the 
boulevards, and saw through the trees the illimitable space, 
the nameless gleams, the abyss, the shadow, and the mystery, 
all that which is only human seemed to him infinitely little. 


He believed that he had and probably he had reached 
the truth of life and of human philosophy ; and he ended by 
gating at nothing but the sky, the only thing which Truth 
can see from the bottom of her well. 

This did not prevent him from multiplying plans, combina- 
tions, scaffoldings, and projects for the future. In this 
state of revery, any eye which had seen into Marius's interior 
would have been dazzled by the purity of his soul. In fact, 
if our eyes of the flesh were allowed to peer into the con- 
sciences of our neighbours, a man could be judged far more 
surely by what he dreams than by what he thinks. There 
is volition in thought, but there is none in a dream, and the 
latter, which is entirely spontaneous, assumes and retains, even 
in the gigantic and the ideal, the image of our mind. Noth- 
ing proceeds more directly and more sincerely from the bot- 
tom of our soul than our thoughtless and unbounded aspira- 
tions toward the splendours of destiny. The true character 
of every man is far more certainly to be found in these as- 
pirations than in deliberate, rational, and co-ordinated ideas. 
Our chimeras are the things which most resemble ourselves; 
and each man dreams of the unknown and the impossible ac- 
cording to his nature. 

About the middle of the year 1831, the old woman who 
waited on Marius told him that his neighbours, the wretched 
Jondrette family, were going to be turned out. Marius, who 
spent nearly his whole time out-of-doors, scarcely knew that 
he had neighbours. 

" Why are they turned out ? " he asked. 

" Because they do not pay their rent, and owe two quar- 

"How much is it?" 

" Twenty francs," said the old woman. 

Marius had thirty francs in reserve in a drawer. 

" Here are twenty -five francs," he said to the woman ; 
" pay the rent for the poor people, give them five francs, and 
do not tell them where the money comes from." 




decreed that the regiment to which Lieutenant 
Theodule belonged should be quartered in Paris. 
This was an opportunity for Aunt Gillenormand to have a 
second idea; her first one had been to set Theodule to watch 
Marius, and she now plotted to set Theodule in Marius's 

At all events, and in case the grandfather felt a vague 
desire for a youthful face in the house, for such rays of 
dawn are sometimes sweet to ruins, it was expedient to find 
another Marius. " Well," she thought, " it is only a simple 
erratum, such as I see in books ; for Marius read Theodule." 

A grand-nephew is much the same as a grandson, after 
all ; and in default of a barrister you can take a lancer. 

One morning as M. Gillenormand was going to read some- 
thing like the " Quotidienne," his daughter came in and said 
in her softest voice, for the interests of her favourite were at 
stake : 

" Papa, Theodule is coming this morning to pay his re- 
spects to you." 

"Who is Theodule?" 

" Your grand-nephew." 

" Ah ! " said the old gentleman. 

Then he began to read, thought no more of the grand- 
nephew, who was only some Theodule or other, and soon be- 
came angry, which nearly always happened when he read. 
The " sheet " which he held ( a royalist one, we need hardly 
say), announced for the morrow, without any softening of 
words, one of the little daily events of Paris at that day. 
" The pupils of the schools of law and medicine were to as- 
semble in the Pantheon Square at noon, to deliberate." It 
was one of the questions of the moment, the artillery of 
the National Guard, and a conflict between the Minister of 


War and the " Citizen's Militia," on the subject of guns 
parked in the courtyard of the Louvre. The students were 
to " deliberate " on this ; and it did not require much more 
to render M. Gillenormand furious. 

He thought of Marius, who was a student, and who prob- 
ably would go, like the others, " to deliberate at midday in 
the Pantheon Square." 

While he was making these painful reflections, Lieutenant 
Theodule came in, dressed in mufti (which was clever of him), 
and was discreetly introduced by Mile. Gillenormand. The 
lancer had reasoned thus ; " the old Druid has not sunk all 
his money in an annuity, and so it is worth while to disguise 
one's self in plain clothes now and then." 

Mile. Gillenormand said aloud to her father : 

" Theodule, your grand-nephew." 

And in a whisper to the lieutenant : 

" Agree to everything." And she retired. 

The lieutenant, but little accustomed to such venerable meet- 
ings, stammered, with some timidity, " Good-morning, uncle," 
and made a bow which began with the involuntary and me- 
chanical military salute, and ended off with the bow of the 

" Ah, it is you ; very good, sit down," said the old gentle- 
man; and after saying this, he utterly forgot the lancer. 

Theodule sat down, and M. Gillenormand got up. 

He began to walk up and down the room, with his hands 
in his pockets, talking aloud, and pulling with his irritated 
old fingers at the two watches which he wore in his two fobs. 

" That heap of scamps ! so they are to meet in the Pan- 
theon Square! Upon my word, little ragamuffins who were 
at nurse but yesterday! if you were to squeeze their noses 
the milk would run out. And they are to deliberate to-mor- 
row ! What are we coming to ? what are we coming to ? It 
is clear that we are going to the dogs, and the descamisados 
have brought us to it. The Citizen Artillery ! deliberate about 
the Citizen Artillery ! go and chatter in the open air about the 
squibs of the National Guard! and whom will they meet 


there ? Just see to what Jacobinism leads. I will wager what 
ever you like, a million against a counter, that there will be 
none but returned convicts and pickpockets there; for the re- 
publicans and the galley-slaves are like one nose and one 
handkerchief. Carnot used to say, ' Where do you want me 
to go, traitor? ' and Fouche would answer, ' Wherever you 
like, fool ! ' That is what the republicans are." 

" That is true," said Theodule. 

M. Gillenormand half turned his head, saw Theodule, and 
went on : 

" And then to think that that scamp had the villainy to 
become a republican! Why did you leave my house? To 
become a republican ! Psst ! in the first place the people do 
not want your republic, for they have common sense, and 
know very well that there always have been kings, and al- 
ways will be; they know very well that the people are only 
the people after all, and they laugh at your republic, do you 
hear, idiot? Is not such a caprice horrible? To fall in love 
with Pere Duchesne, to make eyes at the guillotine, to sing 
romances, and play the guitar under the balcony of '93, 
why, all these young men ought to be spat upon, they are 
so stupid! They are all alike; not one escapes. They have 
only to breathe the air of the street to go mad. The nine- 
teenth century is poison ; the first rascal who comes along, 
lets his beard grow like a goat's, believes himself a genuine 
scoundrel, and runs away from his old relatives. That is re- 
publican, it is romantic; just be good enough to tell me what 
that word romantic means ; every possible folly. A year 
ago they went to see ' Hernani.' Just let me ask you, 
' Hernani ' ! antitheses, abominations, which are not even writ- 
ten in French. And then there are cannon in the courtyard 
of the Louvre; such is the brigandage of the present age." 

" You are right, uncle," said Theodule. 

M. Gillenormand continued : 

" Guns in the courtyard of the Museum ! What for ? 
Cannon, what would you have? Would you fire grape-shot 
at the Apollo Belvidere? What have cartridges to do with 


the Venus de Medici? Oh, the young men of the presemt 
day are all scamps, and this Benjamin Constant is not much. 
And those who are not villains are boobies ! They do all they 
can to make themselves ugly, they dress badly, they are 
afraid of women, and in the presence of petticoats they have a 
beggarly air which makes the girls laugh; on my word of 
honour, you would think the poor fellows were ashamed of love. 
They are deformed, and put the finishing touch to it by being 
stupid; they repeat the jokes of Tiercelin and Potier; they 
wear sack-coats, hostlers' waistcoats, trousers of coarse cloth, 
boots of coarse leather, and their chatter resembles their plum- 
age, their jargon might be used to resole their boots. And 
all these silly brats have political opinions, and it should be 
strictly prohibited. They manufacture systems, they re- 
model society, they demolish the monarchy, upset all laws, 
put the garret in the place of the cellar, and my porter in 
the place of the king; they turn Europe upside down, recon- 
struct the world, and their love affairs consist in looking 
sheepishly at the legs of the washerwomen as they get into 
their carts. Ah, Marius ! ah, scoundrel ; to go and vociferate 
in the public square! to discuss, debate and take measures 
they call them measures. Great gods! why, disorder is 
degenerating and becoming silly. I have seen chaos; I now 
see a puddle. Scholars deliberating about the National 
Guard! Why, such a thing could not be seen among the 
Ojibiways or the Cacodaches! Savages who go about naked, 
with their noddles dressed like a racket-bat, with a club in their 
paw, are less of brutes than these bachelors of arts, two-penny- 
half-penny monkeys, who set up for judges. Deliberate and 
argue, indeed! Why, the end of the world has come; it is evi- 
dently the end of this wretched terraqueous globe; it wanted 
a final shove, and France has given it. Deliberate, my 
scamps! These things will happen so long as they go and 
read the papers under the arcades of the Odeon ; it costs them 
a sou, and their common sense, and their intelligence, and their 
heart, and soul, and their wits. They leave that place, and 
then take French leave of their family. All newspapers are 


pests, even the * Drapeau Blanc ' ! and Martainville was a 
Jacobin at heart. Ah, just Heaven ! you can boast of having 
driven your grandfather to despair." 

" That is quite plain," said Theodule. 

And taking advantage of the fact that M. Gillenormand 
was taking breath, the lancer added magisterially : 

" There should be no paper but the ' Moniteur,' and no 
book but the ' Army List.' " 

M. Gillenormand went on. 

"It is just like their Sieyes! A regicide who became a 
senator! for that's the way they always end. They scar 
themselves with their thee-ing and thou-ing, so that in the 
long run they may be called Monsieur le Comte , Mon- 
sieur le Comte As-long-as-my-arm, slaughterers of September. 
The philosopher Sieyes! I do myself the justice to say that 
I never cared any more for the philosophy of all these philos- 
ophers than I did for the spectacles of the grimacer of Tivoli. 
One day I saw the senators pass along the Quay Malaquais, 
in violet velvet cloaks studded with bees, and wearing Henri 
IV. hats; they were hideous, and looked like apes from the 
tiger's court. Citizens, I declare to you that your progress 
is madness, that your humanity is a dream, that your revolu- 
tion is a crime, that your republic is a monster, that your 
young and virgin France emerges from a brothel; and I 
maintain it against you all, whether you be journalists, so- 
cial economists, lawyers, or greater connoisseurs of liberty, 
equality, and fraternity than the knife of the guillotine! I 
tell you this plainly, my good fellows." 

" Zounds ! " cried the lieutenant, " that is wonderfully 

M. Gillenormand paused in a gesture which he had begun, 
turned round, gazed intently at Theodule the lancer and 
said : 

" You are an ass." 





MARIUS at this period was a handsome young man of 
middle height, with thick black hair, a lofty and in- 
telligent forehead, open and impassioned nostrils, a calm, 
sincere air, and something haughty, pensive, and innocent 
about his whole face. His profile, in which all the lines were 
rounded without ceasing to be firm, had that Germanic gentle- 
ness which entered France through Alsace and Lorraine, and 
that absence of angles which rendered it so easy to recognize 
the Sicambri among the Romans, and which distinguishes 
the leonine from the aquiline race. He had reached the season 
of life when the mind of men who think is composed in nearly 
equal proportions of depth and simplicity. A serious situ- 
ation being given, he had all that was necessary to be stupid ; 
but, with one more turn of the screw, he could be sublime. 
His manner was reserved, cold, polite, and unexpansive; but 
as his mouth was beautiful, his lips the reddest, and his teeth 
the whitest in the world, his smile corrected any severity in 
his countenance. At certain moments that chaste brow and 
voluptuous smile presented a strange contrast. His eye was 
small, his glance great. 

At the time of his greatest need, he remarked that young 
girls turned to look at him when he passed; and he hurried 



away or hid himself, with death in his soul. He thought that 
they were looking at his shabby clothes, awd laughing at them ; 
but the fact is, they were looking at his grace, and dreaming 
of it. 

This silent misunderstanding between himself and pretty 
passers-by had made him shy, and he did not select one of 
them, for the simple reason that he fled from all. He lived 
thus indefinitely, stupidly, said Courfeyrac. 

Courf eyrac added : " Do not aspire to be venerable, and take 
one bit of advice, my dear fellow. Do not read so many 
books, and look at the wenches a little more. The magpies 
have some good points. Oh, Marius, you will grow a perfect 
brute if you go on shunning women and blushing." 

On other occasions, Courfeyrac, when he met him, would 
say : " Good-morning, Abbe." 

When Courfeyrac had made any remark of this nature, 
Marius for a whole week would avoid women, young and old, 
more than ever, and Courfeyrac into the bargain. 

There were, however, in the whole immense creation, two 
women whom Marius did not shun, and to whom he paid no 
attention. To tell the truth, he would have been greatly sur- 
prised had any one told him that they were women. One was 
the hairy-faced old woman who swept his room, and induced 
Courfeyrac to remark : " Seeing that his servant wears her 
beard, Marius does not wear his ; " the other was a young girl 
whom he saw very frequently and never looked at. 

For more than a year, Marius had noticed in a deserted 
walk of the Luxembourg (the one which borders the Para- 
pet de la Pepiniere), a man and a very young girl, who were 
almost always seated side by side on the same bench at the 
most solitary end of the walk, near the Rue de 1'Ouest. 
Whenever that chance, which meddles with the promenades 
of persons whose gaze is turned inward, led Marius to this 
walk, and that was nearly every day, he found this couple 

The man seemed about sixty years of age. He appeared 
sad and serious, and his whole person presented the robust 


and fatigued appearance peculiar to military men who have 
retired from service. If he had worn a decoration, Marius 
would have said : " He is an old officer." He looked kind, 
but unapproachable, and never fixed his eye on that of an- 
other person. He wore blue trousers, a coat of the same 
colour, and a broad-brimmed hat, all of which seemed con- 
'stantly new, a black cravat, and a Quaker's shirt, that is 
to say, it was dazzlingly white, but very coarse. A grisette 
who passed him one day, said : " What a tidy old widower." 
His hair was very white. 

The first time that the young girl who accompanied him 
sat down with him upon the bench which they seemed to have 
adopted, she was about thirteen or fourteen, so thin as to be 
almost ugly, awkward, insignificant, and with a possible 
promise of fine eyes some day, only they were always raised 
with a sort of displeasing assurance. She wore the garb, at 
once old and childish, of a pupil at some convent, a badly 
cut dress of coarse black merino. They looked like father and 

For two or three days Marius studied the old man, who 
was not yet aged, and this little girl, who was not yet a 
woman, and then paid no further attention to them. They, 
on their side, seemed not even to see him, and talked together 
with a peaceful, careless air. The girl talked incessantly and 
gayly; the old man spoke but little, and at times he fixed 
upon her eyes filled with ineffable paternity. Marius had 
formed the mechanical habit of walking in this alley, and 
invariably found them there. 

This is how matters went on : 

Marius generally arrived by the end of the walk farthest 
from the bench. He walked the whole length, passed them, 
then turned back to the end whence he came, and began again. 
He did this five or six times in the course of his walk, and 
he took the walk nearly every day in the week ; but these per- 
sons and himself never even exchanged a bow. The man and 
the girl, though they appeared, and perhaps because they ap- 
peared, to shun observation, had naturally aroused seme little 


attention on the part of the five or six students who occasion- 
ally strolled along La Pepiniere, the studious after their lec- 
tures, the others after their game of billiards. Courfeyrac 
who belonged to the latter group, had watched them for some 
time; but finding the girl ugly, he got away from them very 
rapidly, firing at them a soubriquet, like a Parthian dart. 
Being solely struck by the dress of the girl and the old man's 
hair, he christened the former Mile. Lanoire, and the latter 
Monsieur Leblanc, so that, as no one knew them otherwise, 
this name adhered to them in the absence of a better. The 
students said : " Ah, M. Leblanc is at his bench ; " and Marius, 
like the rest, found it convenient to call the unknown gentle- 
man M. Leblanc. 

We will follow their example, and speak of him as M. 

Marius saw them almost daily, at the same hour, for a 
year. He found the man to his taste, but the girl rather 



IN the second year, just at the point of our story which 
the reader has now reached, it happened that Marius 
broke off his daily walk in the Luxembourg, without exactly 
knowing why, and was nearly six months without setting foot 
in the garden. One day, however, he returned to it. It was 
a beautiful summer day, and Marius was joyous, as men are 
when the weather is fine. He felt as if he had in his heart all 
the birds' songs that he heard, and all the patches of blue 
sky of which he caught glimpses between the leaves. 

He went straight to " his " walk, and when he reached the 
end he saw the well-known couple seated on the same bench; 
but when he drew near he found that, while it was the same 


man, it did not seem to be the same girl. The person he now 
saw was a tall and lovely creature, possessing the charming 
outlines of the woman at the precise moment when they are 
still combined with the most simple graces of the child, a 
pure and fugitive moment which can only be rendered by the 
two words " fifteen years." She had wonderful auburn hair 
tinted with threads of gold, a forehead that seemed made of 
marble, cheeks that seemed made of rose-leaf, a pale flush, an 
evanescent whiteness, an exquisite mouth, from which smiles 
issued like sunbeams, and words like music, and a head which 
Raffaelle would have given to a -Virgin, set upon a neck which 
Jean Goujon would have given to a Venus. And, that noth- 
ing might be wanting in this ravishing face, the nose was not 
beautiful, but pretty, neither straight nor bent, neither Ital- 
ian nor Greek. It was the Parisian nose, that is to say, 
witty, fine, irregular, and pure, the despair of painters and 
the charm of poets. 

When Marius passed her, he could not see her eyes, which 
she constantly drooped; he only saw her long chestnut lashes, 
penetrated with shadow and modesty. 

This did not prevent the lovely girl from smiling a slfc 
listened to the white-haired man who was speaking to her, 
and nothing could be more ravishing than her fresh smile 
and her downcast eyes. 

At first Marius thought that this was another daughter, 
no doubt a sister of the former. But when the invariable 
habit of his walk brought him for the second time to the 
bench, and he examined her attentively, he perceived that it 
was the same girl. In six months the child had become a 
woman; that was all. Nothing is more frequent than this 
phenomenon. There is a moment when girls blossom out in 
a twinkling and become roses all at once. You left them 
children yesterday, to-day you find them objects of anxiety. 

This girl had not only grown, she was idealized. As three 
days in April suffice to cover certain trees with flowers, six 
months had sufficed to clothe her with beauty; her April had 


We sometimes see poor and insignificant persons suddenly, 
wake up, pass from indigence to opulence, lay out money in 
all sorts of extravagance, and become brilliant, prodigal, and 
magnificent. The reason is that they have just received 
their dividends; a note fell due yesterday. The girl had 
received her six months' allowance. 

And then, she was no longer the boarding-school miss, with 
her plush bonnet, merino dress, thick shoes, and red hands; 
taste had come to her with beauty. She was well dressed, with 
a sort of simple, rich, and unaffected elegance. She wore 
a black brocade dress, a cloak of the same material, and a 
white crape bonnet; her white gloves displayed the delicacy 
of her hand, which played with the ivory handle of a parasol, 
and her satin shoe revealed the smallness of her foot. When 
you passed her, her whole toilet exhaled a youthful and pene- 
trating perfume. 

As for the man, he was still the same. 

The second time that Marius passed, the girl raised her 
eyelids. Her eyes were of a deep coerulean blue, but in this 
veiled azure there was as yet only the glance of a child. She 
looked at Marius carelessly, as she would have looked at the 
child playing under the sycamores, or the marble vase that 
threw a shadow over the bench; and Marius continued his 
walk, thinking of something else. 

He passed the bench four or five times, but did not once 
turn his eyes toward the girl. 

On the following days he returned, as usual, to the Luxem- 
bourg. As usual, he found the " father and daughter " 
there, but he paid no further attention to them. He thought 
no more of the girl now that she was lovely, than he had 
when she was ugly; and though he always passed very close 
to the bench on which she was sitting, it was solely the result 
of habit. 




ONE day the air was warm, the Luxembourg was inun- 
dated with light and shade, the sky was as pure as 
if the angels had washed it that morning, the sparrows were 
twittering shrilly in the leaves of the chestnut-trees, and 
Marius opened his whole soul to Nature. He was thinking of 
nothing; he simply lived and breathed. He passed by the 
bench, the girl raised her eyes, and their two glances met. 

What was there in her look? Marius could not have said. 
There was nothing, and there was everything. It was a 
strange flash. 

She let her eyes fall, and he continued his walk. 

What he had just seen was no longer the simple and in- 
genuous eye of a child, but a mysterious gulf, which had 
half opened and then suddenly closed again. 

There comes a day when every maiden looks in this way, 
and woe to the man on whom her glance falls ! 

This first glance of a soul which does not yet know itself 
is like the dawn in the heavens. It is the awakening of 
something radiant and unknown. Nothing can render the 
mysterious charm of this unexpected glow which suddenly 
illumines the adorable darkness, and is made up of all the 
innocence of the present and all the passion of the future. It 
is a sort of undecided tenderness, which reveals itself acci- 
dentally, and waits. It is a snare which innocence sets un- 
consciously, and in which it captures hearts without wishing 
or knowing it. 

It is a virgin who looks like a woman. 

It is rare for a profound revery not to spring up from 
this glance wherever it falls. All purity and all candour meet 
in that heavenly and fatal beam, which possesses, more than 
the best-managed ogles of coquettes, the magic power of sud- 


denly causing that dangerous flower, full of perfume and 
poison, called love, to expand suddenly in the soul. 

On returning to his garret that evening, Marius took a 
glance at his clothes, and perceived for the first time that he 
had been guilty of the extraordinary impropriety, slovenliness, 
and stupidity of walking in the Luxembourg in his " every- 
day dress,"- - that is to say, with a broken-brimmed hat, 
clumsy boots, black trousers white at the knees, and a black 
coat pale at the elbows. 



THE next day, at the accustomed hour, Marius took out 
of the drawers his new coat, his new trousers, his new 
hat, and his new boots. He dressed himself in this complete 
panoply, put on gloves, a prodigious luxury, and went 
off to the Luxembourg. 

On the way he met Courfeyrac, and pretended not to see 
him. Courfeyrac, on reaching home, said to his friends : 

" I have just met Marius's new hat and new coat, with 
Marius inside them. He was going to pass some examina- 
tion, no doubt, for he looked very stupid." 

On reaching the Luxembourg, Marius walked round the 
fountain and gazed at the swans; then he stood for a long 
time contemplating a statue, whose head was all black with 
mould, and which had lost one hip. Near the basin was a 
comfortable tradesman of about forty, holding by the hand 
a little boy of five, and saying to him : " Avoid all excesses, 
my son; keep at an equal distance from despotism and an- 
archy." Marius listened to this old fellow, then walked round 
the basin once more, and at length proceeded toward " his " 
walk slowly, and as if regretfully. He seemed to be 


at once forced and prevented from going; but he did not 
explain this to himself, and fancied he was behaving as he did 
every day. 

On turning into the walk, he saw M. Leblanc and the young 
lady at the other end, seated on " their " bench. He buttoned 
his coat up to the top, pulled it down so that it should make 
no creases, examined with some complacency the lustre of his 
trousers, and marched on the bench. This march savoured 
of attack, and assuredly of a desire for conquest; and hence 
I say that he marched on the bench, as I would say Hannibal 
marched on Rome. 

Still, all his movements were purely mechanical, and he had 
not in any way altered the habitual preoccupation of his mind 
and labours. He was thinking at that moment that the 
" Baccalaureate's Manual " was a siupid book, and that it 
must have been edited by wondrous ignoramuses, who analyzed 
as masterpieces of the human mind three tragedies of Racine 
and only one comedy of Moliere. There was a shrill whistling 
in his ear, and as he approached the bench he pulled down his 
coat, and his eyes were fixed on the maiden. He imagined 
that she filled the whole end of the walk with a vague blue 

As he drew nearer, his pace gradually slackened. On com- 
ing within a certain distance of the bench, but long before he 
reached the end of the walk, he stopped and did not know 
how it was that he turned back. The young lady could 
scarcely have seen him in the distance, or noted how well he 
looked in his new suit. Still, he held himself very erect, for 
fear any one behind might be looking at him. 

He reached the opposite end, then turned, and this time 
drew a little nearer to the bench. He even got within the 
distance of three trees; but then he felt it impossible to go 
farther, and hesitated. He thought he could see the young 
lady's face turned toward him ; however, he made a masculine 
and violent effort, subdued his hesitation, and walked straight 
on. A few seconds later he passed in front of the bench, up- 
right and firm, but red to the ears, and not daring to glance 

''He passed in front of the bench, upright and firm, but red to the 
ears with his hand thrust into his coat like a statesman." 

Leg Miserablea. Marius: Page 149. 


either to the right or left, with his hand thrust into his coat 
like a statesman. As he passed under the guns of the fort, 
he felt his heart beat violently. She was dressed as on the 
previous day, and he heard an ineffable voice which must be 
" her " voice. She was talking quietly, and was very beauti- 
ful. He felt it, though he did not attempt to look at her. 
" And yet," he thought, " she could not fail to feel esteem 
and consideration for me if she knew that I am the real author 
of the dissertation on Marcos Obregon de la Ronda, which 
M. Fran9ois de Neufchateau appropriated and used as the 
preface to his edition of ' Gil Bias.' ' 

He passed the bench, went to the end of the walk, which 
was close by, then turned, and again passed the young lady. 
This time he was very pale, and his feelings were most dis- 
agreeable. He went away from the bench and the maiden, 
and as his back was turned, he fancied that she was looking 
at him, and this made him stumble. 

He did not again attempt to pass the bench. He stopped 
at about the middle of the walk and then sat down, a 
most unusual thing for him, taking side glances, and think- 
ing in the innermost depths of his soul that after all it was 
hard that a person whose white bonnet and black dress he ad- 
mired should be absolutely insensible to his shining trousers 
and new coat. 

At the end of a quarter of an hour he rose, as if about 
to walk toward that bench which was surrounded by a glory. 
But he remained motionless. For the first time in fifteen 
months he said to himself that the gentleman who sat there 
daily with his daughter must have noticed him, and probably 
considered his assiduity strange. 

For the first time, too, he felt that it was rather irreverent 
to designate that stranger, even in his own thoughts, by the 
nickname of M. Leblanc. 

He stood thus for some minutes with hanging head, making 
sketches in the sand with the stick which he held in his hand. 
Then he suddenly turned in the direction opposite to the 
bench and went home. 

1501 MARIUS 

That day he forgot to dine. He perceived the fact at eight 
in the evening; and as it was too late to go to the Rue St. 
Jacques, he ate a lump of bread. 

He did not go to bed till he had brushed and carefully 
folded his coat. 



THE next day, Ma'am Bougon, as Courfeyrac called the 
old portress, " chief lodger," and charwoman of No. 
5052, though her real name was Madame Bougon, as we 
have stated, but that iconoclast of a Corfeyrac respected noth- 
ing, Ma'am Bougon, to her stupefaction, noticed that 
Marius had gone out again in his best coat. 

He returned to the Luxembourg, but did not go beyond 
his half-way bench. He sat down there, as on the previous 
day, surveying from a distance, and distinctly, seeing the 
white bonnet, the black dress, and, above all, the blue light. 
He did not move or return home till the gates of the Luxem- 
bourg were closed. He did not see M. Leblanc and his daugh- 
ter leave, and hence concluded that they left the garden by 
the gate in the Rue de 1'Ouest. Some weeks after, when re- 
flecting on the subject, he could never remember where he dined 
that day. 

On the next day, the third, Ma'am Bougon received an- 
other thunderstroke: Marius went out in his new coat. 
" Three days running ! " she exclaimed. 

She tried to follow him, but Marius walked quickly, and 
with immense strides. It was a hippopotamus attempting to 
catch up with a chamois. She lost sight of him in two min- 
utes, and went back panting, three parts choked by her 
asthma, and furious. " What sense is there," she growled, 


" in putting on one's best coat every day, and making people 
run like that ! " 

Marius had gone to the Luxembourg. 

M. Leblanc and the young lady were there already. 
Marius approached as near to them as he could, pretending 
to read his book, but he still kept a long distance off, and 
then returned and sat down on his bench, where he spent four 
hours in watching the sparrows, which he fancied were making 
fun of him, hopping about in the walk. 

A fortnight passed in this way. Marius no longer went 
to the Luxembourg to walk, but always to sit down at the 
same spot, without knowing why. When he had arrived 
there, he did not stir. He put on his new coat every morn- 
ing, did not show himself, and began again on the morrow. 

She was decidedly a marvellous beauty. The sole remark 
resembling a criticism that could be made, was, that the con- 
tradiction between her glance, which was sad, and her smile, 
which was joyous, gave her face a slightly startled look, 
which sometimes made the gentle countenance become strange 
without ceasing to be charming. 



ON one of the last days of the second week, Marius was, 
as usual, seated on his bench, holding in his hand 
an open book, in which he had not turned a page for the last 
two hours, when he suddenly started, an event was occurring 
at the end of the walk. M. Leblanc and the girl had left 
their bench, the girl had taken her father's arm, and both were 
moving slowly toward the middle of the walk where Marius 
was. He shut his book, then opened it again and tried to 
read. He trembled. The glory came straight toward him. 


" Oh, heavens ! " he thought, " I shall not have time to strike 
an attitude." The white-haired man and the girl, however, 
advanced; it seemed to him as if this lasted a century, and 
that it was only a second. " What do they want here ? " he 
asked himself. " What ! will she pass here ; will her feet 
tread this sand, this walk, two paces from me ? " He was 
quite upset, he longed to be very handsome, and to have the 
cross of the Legion of Honour. He heard the soft, measured 
sound of their footsteps approaching him, and he imagined 
that M. Leblanc was darting an angry glance at him. " Is 
that gentleman going to speak to me ? " he thought. He 
hung his head, and when he raised it again, they were close 
to him. The girl passed; and as she passed, she looked at 
him, looked at him intently, with a thoughtful sweetness 
which thrilled Marius from head to foot. It seemed to him as 
if she were reproaching him for keeping away from her so 
long, and were saying, " I have come to you instead." 
Marius was dazzled by those eyes full of sunbeams and 

He felt that his brain was on fire. She had come toward 
him, what joy! and then, she had looked at him. She ap- 
peared to him lovelier than he had ever seen her, lovely with 
a beauty at once feminine and angelic ; a perfect beauty, which 
would have made Petrarch sing and Dante kneel. He felt 
as if he were floating in the blue sky ; but at the same time he 
was horribly annoyed because he had dust on his boots. 

He felt sure that she had looked at his boots, too. 

He looked after her till she disappeared. Then he started 
up and walked about the garden like a maniac. He prob- 
ably at times laughed to himself and talked aloud. He was 
so dreamy when he got among the nurse-girls that each of 
them fancied him in love with her. 

He left the Luxembourg in hopes of seeing her in the street. 

He met Courfeyrac under the arches of the Pantheon, and 
said to him, " Come and dine with me." They went to Rous- 
seau's and spent six francs. Marius ate like an ogre, and 
gave six sous to the waiter. After dinner he said to Courfey- 


rac : " Have you read the papers ? What a fine speech 
Audry de Puyraveau made ! " 

He was desperately in love. 

Then he said to Courfeyrac : " Let us go to the theatre ; 
I'll pay." They went to the Porte St. Martin to see Fred- 
erick Lemaitre in the " Auberge des Adrets," and Marius 
was mightily amused. 

At the same time, he became shyer than ever. On leav- 
ing the theatre he refused to look at the garter of a dress- 
maker who was skipping across a gutter; and Courf eyrac 
happening to say, " I should like to add that woman to my 
collection," he felt almost horrified. 

Courfeyrac invited him to breakfast next morning, at the 
Cafe Voltaire. He went, and ate even more than on the 
previous evening. He was very thoughtful and very gay, and 
seemed to take every opportunity to laugh uproariously. A 
party of students collected round the table and talked of the 
absurdities, paid for by the State, which are produced from 
the pulpit of the Sorbonne, and then the conversation turned 
on the faults and omissions in Guicherat's dictionaries and 
grammars. Marius interrupted the discussion by exclaiming : 
" And yet it is very agreeable to have the cross of the Le- 

" That is funny ! " Courfeyrac whispered to Jean Prou- 

" No, it is serious," the other answered. 

It was, indeed, serious. Marius had reached that startling 
and charming hour with which great passions begin. 

A look had effected all this. 

When the mine is loaded, when the fire is ready, nothing 
is more simple. A glance is a spark. 

It was all over. Marius loved a woman, and his destiny 
was entering the unknown. 

The glance of a woman resembles certain combinations of 
wheels which are apparently gentle, but are formidable. You 
daily pass them with impunity, and without suspecting any- 
thing, and a moment comes when you even forget that the 


thing is there. You come, you go, you dream, you speak, 
you laugh. AH at once you are yourself caught, and it is 
all over with you. The wheels hold you fast. The glance 
has caught you; it has caught, no matter where or how, by 
some part of your thought which dragged behind you, or by 
some inattention on your part. You are lost. Your whole 
body is drawn in. A series of mysterious forces seize you, 
and you struggle in vain; human aid is no longer possible. 
You pass from cog-wheel to cog-wheel, from agony to agony, 
from torture to torture, you and your mind, your fortune, 
your future, and your soul; and, according as you are in 
the power of a wicked creature or of a noble heart, you will 
issue from this frightful machinery either disfigured by shame 
or transfigured by passion. 



ISOLATION, detachment from everything, pride, inde- 
pendence, a taste for Nature, the absence of daily and 
material labour, life within himself, the secret struggles of 
chastity, and his benevolent ecstasy toward all creation, had 
prepared Marius for that possession which is called passion. 
His reverence for his father had gradually become a religion, 
and like all religions, withdrew into the depths of his soul; 
something was wanting for the foreground. Love came. 

A whole month passed, during which Marius went daily 
to the Luxembourg. When the hour came, nothing could 
stop him. " He is on duty," said Courfeyrac. Marius lived 
in a state of transport. It is certain that the young lady 
looked at him. 

At last he grew bolder; and went nearer the bench. Still, 
he did not pass in front of it any more, obeying at once tfae 


timid and the prudent instinct of lovers. He thought it ad- 
visable not to attract the father's attention, and hence ar- 
ranged his stations behind trees and the pedestals of statues, 
with profound Machiavelism, so that he might be seen as much 
as possible by the young lady and as little as possible by the 
old gentleman. Sometimes he would stand for half an hour 
motionless in the shadow of some Leonidas or Spartacus, a 
book in his hand, over which his eyes, gently raised, sought 
the lovely girl; and she, for her part, turned her charming 
profile toward him with a vague smile. While talking most 
naturally and quietly with the white-haired man, she fixed 
upon Marius all the reveries of a virginal and impassioned 
eye. It is an old and time-honoured trick which Eve knew 
from the first day of the world, and which every woman knows 
from the first day of her life. Her mouth replied to the one 
and her eye answered the other. 

It must be supposed, however, that M. Leblanc finally no- 
ticed something; for frequently, when Marius came, he got 
up and began to walk about. He left their accustomed seat, 
and adopted the bench close to the Gladiator at the other end 
of the walk, as if to see whether Marius would follow them. 
Marius did not understand, and committed that mistake. 
" The father " began to become unpunctual, and no longer 
brought his " daughter " every day. Sometimes he came 
alone, and then Marius did not stay. This was another mis- 

Marius paid no attention to these symptoms; from the 
timid phase he had passed by a natural and fatal progress 
to a blind phase. His love grew. He dreamed of it every 
night. And then an unexpected happiness occurred to him, 
like oil on the fire, redoubling the darkness over his eyes. 
One evening, at twilight, he found on the bench which " M. 
Leblanc and his daughter " had just quitted, a simple, un- 
embroidered handkerchief, which, however, was white and fine, 
and seemed to him to exhale ineffable odours. He seized it 
with transport. It was marked with the letters U. F. Ma- 
rius knew nothing aboiit the lovely ^firl, neither her 


her name, nor her abode. These two letters were the first 
thing of hers of which he had gained possession, adorable 
initials, upon which he at once began to erect his scaffolding. 
U was evidently the Christian name : " Ursula ! " he thought. 
" What a delicious name ! " He kissed the handkerchief, 
breathed it in, placed it on his heart, next his skin during the 
day, and at night laid it on his lips to lull him to sleep. 

" I can feel her whole soul in it ! " he exclaimed. 

This handkerchief belonged to the old gentleman, who had 
simply let it fall from his pocket. 

On the days following the finding of this treasure, Marius 
only appeared at the Luxembourg in the act of kissing the 
handkerchief and pressing it to his heart. The lovely girl 
did not understand what this meant, and expressed her sur- 
prise by imperceptible signs. 

** O modesty ! " said Marius. 



SINCE we have uttered the word modesty, and since we 
conceal nothing, we are bound to say, however, that on 
one occasion " his Ursula " caused him serious vexation in the 
midst of his ecstasy. It was on one of the days when she 
induced M. Leblanc to leave the bench and stroll about. 
There was a sharp spring breeze, which shook the tops of the 
plane-trees; and father and daughter, arm-in-arm, had just 
passed Marius, who rose and watched them, as was fitting for 
a man in his desperate state. 

All at once a puff of wind more merry than the rest and 
probably ordered to do the business of spring, dashed along 
die walk, enveloped the maiden in a delicious shiver worthy of 
the nymphs of Virgil and the fauns of Theocritus, and raised 


her dress, that dress more sacred than that of Isis, almost 
as high as her garter. A leg of exquisite shape became visi- 
ble. Marius saw it. He was exasperated and furious. 

The maiden rapidly put down her dress, with a divinely 
startled movement; but he was none the less indignant. He 
was alone in the walk, it is true. But there might have been 
somebody there; and what if there had been somebody there! 
Is such a thing conceivable? What she has just done is 
horrible ! Alas ! The poor girl had done nothing, anid there 
was only one culprit, the wind ; but Marius, in whom quivered 
the Bartholo who exists in Cherubino, was determined to be 
dissatisfied, and was jealous of his own shadow. It is thus, 
in fact, that the strange and bitter jealousy of the flesh awak- 
ens in the human heart, and dominates it, even unjustly. Be- 
sides, apart from his jealousy, the sight of that charming leg 
was not at all agreeable to him, and any other woman's white 
stocking would have caused him more pleasure. 

When " his Ursula," having reached the end of the walk, 
turned back with M. Leblanc, and passed the bench on which 
Marius was sitting, he gave her a sullen, savage look. The 
girl drew herself up slightly, and raised her eyelids, which 
means, " Well, what is the matter now? " 

This was their " first quarrel." 

Marius had scarce finished upbraiding her in this way with 
his eyes, when some one crossed the walk. It was a bent vet- 
eran, very much wrinkled, and very pale, wearing the uniform 
of Louis XV., on his breast the little oval patch of red cloth 
with the crossed swords, the soldier's cross of St. Louis, and, 
in addition, decorated with a coat-sleeve in which there was 
no arm, a silver chin, and a wooden leg. Marius fancied that 
that man had an extremely satisfied air. It seemed to him 
that the old cynic, as he hobbled past him, gave him a fra- 
ternal and extremely jovial wink, as if some accident had 
created an understanding between them, and as though they 
had enjoyed some good thing together. Why was this relic 
of Mars so pleased? What had passed between this woode? 
leg and the other? Marius went into a paroxysm of jealousy. 


" Perhaps he was there," he said to himself ; " perhaps he 
saw." And he longed to exterminate the veteran. 

With the help of time, every point grows blunt; and 
Marius's anger with " Ursula," though so just and legitimate, 
passed away. He ended by pardoning her, but it was a 
mighty effort ; and he sulked for three days. 

Still, in spite of all this, and because of all this, his pas- 
sion increased, and grew to madness. 



WE have seen how Marius discovered, or thought he had 
discovered, that she was named Ursula. 

Appetite comes with loving; and to know that her name 
was Ursula was a great deal, but it was little. In three or 
four weeks Marius had devoured this happiness and craved 
another. He wanted to know where she lived. 

He had made one mistake in falling into the trap of the 
bench by the Gladiator; he had committed a second by not 
remaining at the Luxembourg when M. Leblanc went there 
alone ; and he now committed a third, an immense one, he 
followed " Ursula." 

She lived in the Rue de 1'Ouest, in the most isolated part, 
in a new three-story house of modest appearance. 

From this moment, Marius added to his happiness of seeing 
her at the Luxembourg the happiness of following her home. 

His hunger increased; he knew her name, her Christian 
name at least, a charming name, a true woman's name; he 
knew where she lived: he now wanted to know who she was. 

One evening, after following them home and watching them 
disappear through the gate-way, he went in after them, and 
boldly addressed the porter : 


" Is that the gentleman who lives on the first-floor, who 
just went in? " 

" No," answered the porter ; " it was the gentleman on the 

Another step gained ! This success emboldened Marius. 

"Front?" he asked. 

" Hang it ! " said the porter, " our rooms are all front 

" And what is the gentleman's business ? " went on Marius. 

" He lives on his income. He is a very kindly man, who 
does a deal of good to the unfortunate, though he is not rich." 

" What is his name ? " added Marius. 

The porter looked up and said : 

" Are you a detective ? " 

Marius went off much abashed, but highly delighted, for 
he was progressing. 

" Good ! " he thought : " I know that her name is Ursula, 
that she is the daughter of a retired gentleman, and that she 
lives there, on the third-floor, in the Rue de 1'Ouest." 

On the morrow, M. Leblanc and his daughter made but a 
short stay at the Luxembourg, and went away in broad day- 
light. Marius followed them to the Rue de 1'Ouest, as was 
his habit; and on reaching the gate-way, M. Leblanc made 
his daughter go in first, then stopped, turned, and looked in- 
tently at Marius. 

Next day they did not come to the Luxembourg, and Ma- 
rius waited in vain the whole day. 

At nightfall he went to the Rue de 1'Ouest, and saw a light 
in the third-floor windows. 

He walked about beneath those windows till the light was 

The next day there was no one at the Luxembourg ; Marius 
waited all day, and then went and kept night-watch under 
the windows. 

This took up his time till ten o'clock, and his dinner took 
care of itself. Fever nourishes the sick man, and love the 


A week passed in this way. M. Leblanc and his daughter 
did not again appear at the Luxembourg. 

Marius indulged in sorrowful conjectures. He dared not 
watch the gate-way by day ; he contented himself with going 
at night to contemplate the red glow of the window-panes. 
He saw shadows flit across them now and then, and his heart 

On the eighth day, when he arrived beneath the windows, 
there was no light. " What ! " he said to himself, " the lamp 
is not lighted ; can they have gone out ? " He waited till ten 
o'clock, till midnight, till one o'clock; but no light appeared 
in the third-floor windows, and nobody entered the house. 

He went away in a very melancholy mood. 

On the morrow for he only lived from morrow to mor- 
row, and he had no to-day, so to speak he saw nobody at 
the Luxembourg ; he had expected that. At nightfall he went 
to the house. 

There was no light in the windows, the shutters were closed, 
and the third-floor was dark. 

Marius rapped, walked in, and said to the porter : 

" The gentleman on the third-floor? " 

" Moved," answered the porter. 

Marius staggered, and asked feebly : 

" Since when ? " 

" Yesterday." 

" Where is he living now ? " 

" I do not know." 

"Then he did not leave his new address? " 

" No." 

And the porter, looking up, recognized Marius. 

" What ! it's you, is it ? " he said. " Why, you really must 
be a detective ! " 





HUMAN societies all have what is called in theatrical par- 
lance, " the third-floor below." The social soil is 
everywhere undermined, here for good and there for evil. 
These works are superimposed one upon the other. There 
are upper mines and lower mines. There is a top and a bot- 
tom in this obscure subsoil, which sometimes gives way beneath 
the weight of civilization, and which our indifference and care- 
lessness trample under foot. The Encyclopaedia, in the last 
century, was a mine almost open to the sky. Darkness 
that gloomy brooder of primitive Christianity only awaited 
an opportunity to explode beneath the Caesars and to inundate 
the human race with light ; for in the sacred darkness there is 
latent light. Volcanoes are full of a shadow which is capable 
of flashing forth. Every spectre begins by being night. The 
catacombs in which the first Mass was read were not merely 
the cellar of Rome, but also the vaults of the world. 

There are excavations of all sorts beneath that complicated 
marvel, the social structure. There is the religious mine, the 
philosophic mine, the political mine, the social economic mine, 
and the revolutionary mine. One man uses the idea as a pick- 
axe ; another uses ciphers ; another, anger ; and they hail and 

answer each other from one catacomb to another. Utopias 


move beneath the surface in the sewers, and ramify in all 
directions. They sometimes meet there and fraternize. Jean 
Jacques lends his pick to Diogenes, who lends him his lantern 
in turn. Sometimes, though, they fight, and Calvin clutches 
Socinus by the hair. But nothing arrests or interrupts the 
tension of all their energies toward the goal, and the vast 
simultaneous activity which comes and goes, ascends, descends, 
and re-ascends in the darkness, and which slowly substitutes 
top for bottom, and inside for out ; it is like an immense and 
unknown ant-hill. Society hardly suspects this excavation, 
which leaves no trace upon its surface, and yet changes its 
interior organs. There are as many different works as there 
are varying excavations or subterranean adits. What issues 
from all these deep excavations? The future. 

The deeper we go, the more mysterious the miners become. 
Up to a certain point which the social philosopher is able to 
recognize, the work is good; beyond that point, it is doubt- 
ful and mixed; lower still, it becomes terrible. At a certain 
depth the excavations can no longer be penetrated by the 
spirit of civilization, and man's limit of breathing is passed: 
a beginning of monsters becomes possible. 

The downward ladder is a strange one ; and each rung cor- 
responds with a stage upon which philosophy may find foot- 
hold, and where we may meet one of these miners, who are 
sometimes divine, sometimes deformed. Below John Huss, 
there is Luther; below Luther, Descartes; below Descartes, 
Voltaire; below Voltaire, Condorcet; below Condorcet, Robes- 
pierre; below Robespierre, Marat; and below Marat, Ba- 

And so it goes on. Lower still, we note confusedly, at the 
limit which divides the indistinct and the invisible, other 
gloomy men, who perhaps do not exist as yet. Those of yes- 
terday are spectres ; those of the morrow, grubs. The mental 
eye can only distinguish them dimly. The embryonic labour 
of the future is one of the visions of the philosopher. 

A world in limbo, in the foetus state. What an un- 
precedented picture ! 


Saint Simon, Owen, and Fourrier are also there in the side- 

Surely, although a divine and invisible chain, without their 
cognizance, links all the subterranean pioneers, who nearly, 
always fancy themselves isolated, but are not so, their labours 
vary greatly, and the light of some contrasts with the blaze 
of others; some are paradisaic, and others tragical. Still, 
however great the contrast may be, all these labourers, from 
the highest to the most nocturnal, from the wisest down to 
the maddest, are alike in their disinterestedness. Marat for- 
gets himself, like Jesus. They set self aside, omit themselves, 
do not think of themselves. They see something different 
from themselves. They have a glance, and that glance seeks 
the absolute. The first has heaven in his eyes ; the last, how- 
ever enigmatical he may be, has still beneath his brow the pale 
light of the infinite. Venerate every man, no matter what 
he may be doing, who has this sign, a starry eye. 

The shadowy eye is the other sign. 

With it evil begins. 

Reflect and tremble in the presence of the man who does 
not look you in the face. The social order has its black min- 

There is a point where profundity is burial, and where light 
is extinct. 

Below all these mines which we have described; below all 
these galleries, below all this immense, subterranean, venous 
system of progress and Utopia, far deeper in the ground : 
below Marat; below Babeuf ; much, much lower, there is the 
last passage, which has no connection with the upper drifts. 
It is a fearful spot. It is what we termed the " third-floor 

It is the grave of darkness; it is the cellar of the blind. 

It communicates with the abyss. 

164. MARIUS 




HERE disinterestedness dies. The demon is vaguely re- 
vealed. Every one for himself. The blind ego yells, 
seeks, gropes, and gnaws. The social Ugolino exists in this 

The fierce shadows which prowl about this grave, almost 
brutes, almost phantoms, do not trouble themselves about uni- 
versal progress ; they know neither the idea nor the word ; they 
care for nought beyond individual gratification. They are 
almost unconscious, and there is within them a sort of fright- 
ful obliteration. They have two mothers, both step-mothers, 
Ignorance and Misery. Necessity is their guide, and appe- 
tite their only form of satisfaction; they are brutally vora- 
cious, that is to say, ferocious ; not after the fashion of the 
tyrant, but of the tiger. From suffering, these spectres pass 
to crime, fatal affiliation, ghastly propagation, the logic 
of darkness. That which crawls in the social third-floor below 
is no longer the stifled demand of the absolute, but the pro- 
test of matter. Man becomes a dragon ; his starting-point is 
hunger and thirst, and his terminus is Satan. Lacenaire is- 
sued from this vault. 

We have just seen in Book Fourth, one of the compart- 
ments of the upper mine, the great political, revolutionary, 
and philosophic excavation. There, as we said, all is noble, 
pure, dignified and honest. Men may be mistaken there, and 
are mistaken, but the error must be revered, because it implies 
so much heroism ; and the work performed there has a name, 

The time has now come to take a glance at other and 
hideous depths. 

There is beneath society, we repeat, and there ever will be, 


till that Hay, when ignorance is dissipated, the great cavern of 

This cavern is below all, and the enemy of all ; it is hatred, 
without exception. This cavern knows no philosophers, and 
its dagger never cut a pen, while its blackness bears no rela- 
tion to the sublime blackness of the inkstand. The fingers of 
night, which contract beneath this asphyxiating roof, have 
never opened a book or unfolded a newspaper. Babeuf is a 
speculator to Cartouche ; and Marat is an aristocrat to Schin- 
derhannes. The object of this cavern is to overthrow every- 

Everything, including the upper levels which it execrates. 
It not only undermines in its hideous labour the actual social 
order, it undermines philosophy, science, law, human thought, 
civilization, revolution, and progress. Its name is simply rob- 
bery, prostitution, murder, and assassination. It is darkness, 
and it desires chaos. Its roof is made of ignorance. 

All the other mines above it have but one ob j ect, to sup- 
press it. Philosophy and progress strive for this, with all 
their organs simultaneously, by their amelioration of the real 
as well as their contemplation of the ideal. Destroy the cave, 
Ignorance, and you destroy the mole, Crime. 

Let us condense in a few words a portion of what we have 
just written. 

The sole social evil is darkness; humanity is identity, for 
all men are made of the same clay. In this nether world, at 
least, there is no difference in predestination. The same 
shadow before, the same flesh in the present, and the same 
ashes afterward. But ignorance, mixed with the human paste, 
blackens it. This incurable blackness takes possession of man 
and becomes Evil. 




A QUARTET of bandits, Babet, Gueulemer, Claquesous, 
and Montparnasse governed the lowest depths of Paris 
from 1830 to 1835. 

Gueulemer was a Hercules out of place, and his den was 
the Arche-Marion sewer. He was six feet tall, his pectoral 
muscles were of marble, his biceps of bronze, his lungs were 
cavernous, his bust that of a colossus, and his skull that of 
a bird. You fancied you saw the Farnese Hercules, attired 
in ticking trousers and a velveteen jacket. Gueulemer, built 
in this mould, might have subdued monsters; but he had 
found it easier to be one. A low forehead, wide temples, un- 
der forty years of age, yet with crows' feet, rough, short 
hair, and a bushy beard, you can see the man. His muscles 
demanded work, and his stupidity would not accept it. He 
was a great, unoccupied force, an assassin from indifference. 
People believed him to be a Creole ; and he probably had some 
part in the massacre of Marshal Brune, as he was a porter 
at Avignon in 1815. From that stage, he had turned robber. 

Babet's transparency contrasted with the flesh of Gueule- 
mer ; he was thin and learned, transparent but impenetrable. 
You might see daylight through his bones, but not through 
his eyes. He called himself a chemist. He had been a * Billy 
Barlow ' with Bobeche, a clown with Bobino, and had played 
in light comedy at St. Mihiel. He was a man of intentions, 
a fine speaker, who underlined his smiles, and placed his ges- 
tures between inverted commas. His trade was to sell, in 
the open air, plaster busts and portraits of the " chief of the 
State ; " and, in addition to this, he pulled teeth. He had ex- 
hibited phenomena at fairs, and possessed a booth with a 
trumpet and the following show-board, " Babet, dentist, and 
Member of the Academies, performs physical experiments on 


metals and metalloids, extirpates teeth, and undertakes stumps 
given up by the profession. Terms: one tooth, one franc 
fifty centimes ; two teeth, two francs ; three teeth, two francs 
fifty centimes. Take advantage of this opportunity." (The 
last sentence meant, have as many teeth pulled out as pos- 
sible.) He was married and had children, but did not know 
what had become of wife or children. He had lost them, just 
as another man loses his handkerchief. Babet was a strik- 
ing exception in the obscure world to which he belonged, for 
he read the newspapers. One day, when he still had his fam- 
ily with him in his caravan, he read in the " Moniteur " that a 
woman had just been delivered of a child with a calf's snout, 
and he exclaimed : " There's a fortune ! My wife never had 
the sense to produce me a child like that ! " 

Since then, he had given up everything else to " undertake 
Paris," the expression is his own. 

What was Claquesous? He was night, and never showed 
himself till the sky was bedaubed with blackness. In the 
evening he emerged from a hole, to which he returned before 
daybreak. Where was this hole? No one knew. In the 
greatest darkness, and when alone with his accomplices, he 
turned his back when he spoke to them. Was his name 
Claquesous ? No. He said, " My name is Not-at-all." If a 
candle were brought, he put on a mask. He was a ventrilo- 
quist. Babet used to say, " Claquesous is a night-bird with 
two voices." Claquesous was vague, terrible, and a roamer; 
no one was sure that he had a name, for Claquesous was a 
nickname ; no one was sure that he had a voice, for his stomach 
spoke more frequently than his mouth; and no one was sure 
that he had a face, as nothing had ever been seen but his 
mask. He disappeared like a ghost; and when he appeared 
he seemed to issue from the ground. 

Montparnasse was a melancholy creature. He was a lad 
not yet twenty, with a pretty face, lips like cherries, beauti- 
ful black hair, and the light of springtime in his eyes ; he had 
every vice, and aspired to every crime. The digestion of evil 
gave him an appetite for worse. He was the gutter-snipe 


turned pickpocket, and the pickpocket turned garroter. He 
was genteel, effeminate, graceful, robust, soft, and ferocious. 
The brim of his hat was turned up on the left side, to make 
room for a tuft of hair, in the style of 1829. He lived by 
robbery committed with violence. His coat was cut in the 
latest fashion, though worn at the seams. Montparnasse was 
a fashion plate, in a state of want, and committing murders. 
The cause of all this young man's wickedness was a longing to 
be well dressed ; the first grisette who said to him, " You are 
handsome," put the black spot in his heart, and made a Cain 
of this Abel. Finding himself good-looking, he wished to be 
elegant. Now, the height of elegance is idleness; but idle- 
ness in a poor man is crime. Few toughs were so dreaded as 
Montparnasse, and at the age of eighteen he had several 
corpses behind him. More than one wayfarer lay in the 
shadow of this villain, with outstretched arms, and with his 
face in a pool of blood. Curled, pomaded, with his waist 
pinched in, the hips of a woman, the bust of a Prussian officer, 
a buzz of admiration from the girls of the boulevard sur- 
rounding him, a knowingly knotted cravat, a slung-shot in his 
pocket, and a flower in his button-hole, such was this dandy 
of the tomb. 



THESE four ruffians formed a sort of Proteus, winding 
like a serpent through the police ranks, and striving to 
escape the indiscreet glances of Vidocq " under various forms, 
tree, flame, and fountain," borrowing each other's names and 
tricks, asylums for one another, laying aside their personality 
as a man removes a false nose at a masquerade ; sometimes sim- 
plifying matters so as to be only one man, again multiplying 
themselves to such an extent that Coco-Latour himself took 
them for a mob. 


These four men were not four men; they were a sort of 
four-headed robber, working Paris on a grand scale, the 
monstrous polyp of evil inhabiting the crypt of society. 

Thanks to their ramifications, and to the net-work under- 
lying their relations, Babet, Gueulemer, Claquesous, and Mont- 
parnasse, had the general direction of all the ambush work 
in the department of the Seine. The inventors of ideas in 
this style, the men with nocturnal imaginations, applied 
to them to execute their ideas ; the four villains were furnished 
with the canvas, and they undertook to produce the scenery. 
They prepared the stage setting. They were always in a 
position to supply a proportionate and proper staff of men 
for every robbery which was sufficiently lucrative and re- 
quired a stout arm. If a crime were in want of persons to 
carry it out, they sublet the accomplices; and they always 
had a band of actors at the service of all the tragedies of the 

They generally met at nightfall, the hour when they 
awoke % on the plains that border the Salpetriere. There 
they conferred, and, as they had the twelve dark hours be- 
fore them, they settled their employment accordingly. 

Patron-Mmette was the name given in the subterranean 
lurking-places to the association of these four men. In old 
and fantastic popular slang, which is daily dying out, Patron- 
Minette signifies morning, just as entre chien et loup (" be- 
tween dog and wolf") signifies dusk. This appellation was 
probably derived from the hour when their work ended; for 
dawn is the moment for spectres to vanish, and for bandits to 
part. These four men were known by this title. When the 
president of the Assizes visited Lacenaire in prison, he ques- 
tioned him about a crime which the murderer denied. " Who 
committed it ? " the president asked ; and Lacenaire gave this 
answer, which was enigmatical to the magistrate, but plain 
to the police, " Perhaps it was Patron-Minette." 

The plot of a play may sometimes be divined from the list 
of characters ; and a party of bandits may, perhaps, be judged 
in the same way. Here are the names to which the principal 


members of Patron-Minette answered, as they survive in spe- 
cial memoirs : 

Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille. 

Brujon (there was a dynasty of Brujons, about whom we 
may still say a word). 

Boulatruelle, the road-mender, whom we have already seen. 

La veuve (the Widow). 


Homer-Hogu, a negro. 



Fauntleroy, alias the Flower-girl. 

Glorious, a discharged convict. 

Stop-the-coach, alias Monsieur Dupont. 

The Southern Esplanade. 



Kruideniers, alias Bizarro. 



Demi-Liard, alias Two Milliards, etc. 

We pass over some, and not the worst. 

These names have faces, and express not merely beings but 
species. Each of these names corresponds to a variety of 
those poisonous fungi which grow on the underside of civiliza- 

These beings, not very lavish of their faces, were not of 
those whom we see in the street by day. During the day, 
wearied with their wild nights, they went off to sleep in the 
limekilns, the deserted quarries of Montmarte or Montrouge, 
or even in the sewers. They ran to earth. 

What has become of these men? They still exist, and have 
always existed. Horace alludes to them in his " Ambubaia- 
rum collegia, pharmaco-poloe, mendici, mimiae ; " and so as 
long as society is what it is, they will be what they are. Un- 
der the obscure roof of their cellar, they are constantly born 
again from the social leakage. They return as spectres, but 


ever identical; the only difference is that they no longer bear 
the same names, and are no longer in the same skins. 

Individuals are extirpated ; the tribe subsists. 

They have always the same faculties, and from beggar to 
tramp, the race ever remains pure. They guess at purses in 
pockets, and scent out watches in fobs. Gold and silver have 
a peculiar smell for them. There are simple cits of whom 
we might say that they have a " robbable " look. These men 
patiently follow those cits. When a foreigner or a country- 
man passes, they quiver like a spider in its web. 

These men, when we catch a glimpse of them upon a de- 
serted boulevard at midnight, are frightful; they do not seem 
to be men, but forms made of living fog. We might say that 
they habitually form a part of the darkness, that they are in 
no way distinct from it, that they have no other soul than 
shadow, and that they are detached from night only momen- 
tarily, and in order to live a monstrous life for a few mo- 

What is required to make these phantoms vanish? Light, 
floods of light. Not a single bat can resist the dawn. Light 
up the lower strata of society. 



SUMMER passed away, then autumn; winter came. 
Neither M. Leblanc nor the young lady had again set 
foot in the Luxembourg. Marius had but one thought, 
to see that sweet and adorable face once more. He sought 
it ever, he sought it everywhere, but found nothing. He was 
no longer Marius, the enthusiastic dreamer, the resolute, ar- 
dent, and firm man, the bold challenger of destiny, the brain 
that built up future upon future, the young mind encumbered 
with plans, projects, pride, ideas, and desires; he was a lost 
dog. He fell into a black melancholy. All was over; work 
disgusted him, walking fatigued him, and solitude wearied 
him. Mighty Nature, once so full of forms, brightness, 
voices, counsels, perspectives, horizons, teachings, now lay 
empty before him. He felt as if everything had disappeared. 

He still thought, for he could not do otherwise; but he no 
longer took pleasure in his thoughts. To all that they pro- 
posed to him in whispers, he answered in his gloom: " To 
what end? " 

He lavished a hundred reproaches upon himself. " Why 
did I follow her? I was so happy merely in seeing her! 
She looked at me, and was not that immense? She looked as 
if she loved me, and was not that everything? I wanted, 



what? There is nothing beyond that. I was absurd. It is 
my own fault," etc., etc. Courfeyrac, to whom he confided 
nothing (that was his nature), but who guessed pretty nearly 
all (for that was his nature too), had begun by congratulat- 
ing him on being in love, although he was amazed at it. 
Then, seeing Marius in this melancholy state, he ended by 
saying to him : " I see that you have simply been a donkey. 
Come to the Chaumiere." 

Once, putting confidence in a splendid September sun, Ma- 
rius allowed himself to be taken to the ball at Sceaux by 
Courfeyrac, Bossuet, and Grantaire, hoping what a dream ! 
that he might possibly find her there. Of course he did 
not see her whom he sought. " And yet this is the place 
where all lost women are found," Grantaire growled aside. 
Marius left his friends at the ball, and returned on foot, 
through the night, alone, tired, feverish, with sad and troubled 
eyes, stunned by the noise and dust of the vehicles filled with 
merry people singing and shouting on their way home from a 
holiday, and which passed him, as he in his discouragement, 
and in order to relieve his aching head, inhaled the acrid smell 
of the walnut-trees by the roadside. 

He took to living more and more in solitude, crushed, given 
over to his inward anguish, going up and down in his pain 
like a wolf caught in a trap, seeking the absent one every- 
where, and stupefied by love. 

Another time, he had a meeting which produced a strange 
effect upon him. In the little streets adjoining the Boulevard 
des Invalides he passed a man dressed like a workman, and 
wearing a deep-peaked cap, under which white locks peered 
out. Marius was struck by the beauty of this white hair, 
and looked at the man, who was walking slowly and as if ab- 
sorbed in painful meditation. Strange to say, he thought 
that he recognized M. Leblanc ; it was the same hair, the same 
profile, so far as the cap allowed him to see, and the same mien, 
though somewhat more melancholy. But why this workman's 
clothing? What was the meaning of this disguise? Marius 
was greatly surprised ; and when he recovered himself, his first 


impulse was to follow this man. Who knows whether he had 
not at last the clew which he had so long been seeking ; at any 
rate, he must have a close look at the man and clear up 
the enigma. But he hit on this idea too late, for the man 
was no longer there. He had turned into some side street, 
and Marius was unable to find him again. This meeting 
troubled him for some days, and then faded away. " After 
all," he said to himself, " it was probably only a resemblance." 



MARIUS still lived at No. 50-52, but he paid no atten- 
tion to his fellow-lodgers. 

At this period, in truth, there were no other tenants in the 
house but himself and those Jondrettes whose rent he had 
once paid, without ever having spoken to father, mother, or 
daughters. The other lodgers had moved away, were dead, 
or turned out for not paying their rent. 

One day, during that winter, the sun had shown itself a 
little in the afternoon ; but it was February 2, that old Candle- 
mas Day, whose treacherous sun, the precursor of a six weeks' 
frost, inspired Matthew Laensberg with these two lines, which 
have iustly become classic: 

"If the sun shines on Candlemas Day, 
The bear will go back to his cavern, they s*y." 

Marius had just left his cavern, for night was falling. It 
was time to dine; for he had been obliged to take to dining 
again, such is the infirmity of ideal passions. 

He had just crossed his threshold, which Ma'am Bougon 
was at that very moment sweeping, as she uttered the memora- 
ble soliloquy : 


"What is there that is cheap now? Everything is dear. 
Nothing in the world but trouble is cheap, and that may be 
had for nothing ! " 

Marius walked slowly along the boulevard, in the direction 
of the Rue St. Jacques. He walked thoughtfully with hang- 
ing head. 

All at once he felt himself elbowed in the fog. He turned 
and saw two girls in rags, one tall and slim, the other not 
quite so tall, who passed hurriedly, panting, frightened, and 
as if running away ; they were coming toward him, and, not 
seeing him, ran against him as they passed. Marius no- 
ticed in the twilight their livid faces, uncovered heads, dis- 
hevelled hair, their ragged petticoats, and bare feet. As 
they ran they talked together and the elder said in a very low 
voice : 

" The cops came, and nearly nabbed me." 

And the other answered : " I saw them, and so I bolted, 
bolted, bolted." 

In spite of this repulsive slang, Marius understood that the 
police had nearly caught the two girls, and that they had 
managed to escape. 

They disappeared among the trees behind him, and for a 
few minutes produced a sort of vague whiteness in the dark- 
ness, then vanished. 

Marius had stopped for a moment, and was just going on, 
when he saw a small grayish packet lying at his feet. He 
stooped and picked it up; it was a sort of envelope, appar- 
ently containing papers. 

" Why," said he, " those poor girls must have dropped it." 

He turned back and called to them, but could not find them. 
He thought they must be some distance off, so he thrust the 
parcel into his pocket and went to dinner. 

On his way he saw, in a lane leading off the Rue Mouffetard, 
a child's coffin, covered with a black pall, laid on three chairs, 
and illumined by a candle. The two girls in the twilight re- 
turned to his mind. 

" Poor mothers ! " he thought ; " there is something even 


sadder than to see one's children die ; it is to see them lead evil 

Then these shadows, which had varied his melancholy, 
passed from his thoughts, and he fell back into his usual re- 
flections. He began to think of his six months of love and 
happiness in the open air and broad daylight under the glori- 
ous Luxembourg trees. 

" How sad my life has become ! " he said to himself. 
" Girls constantly appear to me ; but formerly they were an- 
gels, and now they are ghouls." 



AT night, as he undressed to go to bed, he found in his 
coat-pocket the parcel which he had picked up in the 
boulevard. He had forgotten it. He thought that it would 
be as well to open it, as the packet might contain the girls' 
address, if it belonged to them, or in any case the information 
necessary to restore it to the person to whom it belonged. 

He opened the envelope, which was not sealed, and which 
contained four letters, also unsealed. 

The addresses were on all four, and they exhaled a fright- 
ful odour of tobacco. 

The first letter was addressed to " Madame, Madame la 
Marquise de Grucheray, on the Square opposite the Chamber 
of Deputies." 

Marius said to himself that he should probably find the 
information he wanted; and as the letter was not sealed, he 
could read it without impropriety. It was drawn up as fol- 
lows : 

MADAME LA MARQUISE, The virtue of clemency and piety is that 
which unites sosiety most closely. Move your Christian feelings, and 


dain a glance of compassion at this unfortunate Spaniard, a victim 
to his loyalty and atachment to the sacred cause of legitimacy, who shed 
his blood, devoted awl his fortune to defend this cause, and is now in the 
greatest missery. He does not doubt that you, honnored lady, will grant 
some asistence to preserve an existence extremely painful for a soldier 
of honnor and edducation, covered with wounds, and he reckons before 
hand on the humanity which annimates you, and the interest which your 
ladyship takes in so unhappy a nacion. Their prayer will not be in 
vain, and their gratitude will retain her charming memory. 

With the most respectful feelings, I have the honnor to be, madame, 


Spanish captain of cavvalry, a Royalist refugee in France, who 
is travelling for his country, and who wants the means to con- 
tinue his jurney. 

No address was attached to the signature, but Marius hoped 
to find it in the second letter, of which the superscription was : 
" To Madame, Madame la Comtesse de Montvernet, No. 9 
Rue Cassette." This is what Marius read : 

MY LADY CONTESSE, It is a unhapy mother of a familly of six chil- 
dren, of which the yungest is only eight months old; I ill since my last 
confinement, deserted by my husband, and hawing no ressourse in the 
world, the most frightful indijance. 

Trusting in your ladyship, she has the honnor to be, madame, with 
profound respect, 


Marius turned to the third letter, which was, like the pre- 
ceding, a begging petition, and he read, 

MOXSIEUK PABOUBGEOT, Elector, wholesale dealer in caps, Rue St. Denis, 
at the corner of the Rue Aux-Fers: 

I venture to adress this letter to you, to ask you to grant me the 
pretious favor of your simpathies, and to interest you in a litterary man, 
who has just sent a drama to the Theatre Francais. The subject is 
historical, and the scene takes place in Auvergne in the time of the em- 
pire. The style, I believe, is natural, laconic, and may possess some 
merit. There are couplets for singing at four places. The comic, the 
serious, and the unexpected elements are blended in it with a variety 
of characters, and a tinge of romance is lightly spread through the whole 
plot, which moves misteriously, and the finale takes place amid several 
brilliant tableaux. My principal desire is to sattisfy the desire which 
progressively animates sosiety ; that is to say, fashion, that capritious 
and vague whirligig which changes with nearly every wind. 

In spite of these qualities, I have reason to fear that jealousy and 


the selfishness of privileged authors may obtain ray exclusion from the 
stage; for I am not unaware of the vexation which is caused to new- 

Monsieur Pabourgeot, your just reputation as the enlightened pro- 
tector of litterary men, emboldens me to send you my daughter, who 
will explain to you our indijant situation, wanting for bread and fire 
in this winter season. To tell you that I wish you to accept the homage 
which I desire to make to you of my drama, and all those that may 
succeed it, is to prove to you how much I desire the honor of sheltering 
myself under your aegis, and adorning my writings with your name. If 
you dain to honor me with the most modest offering, I will at once set to 
work writing a coppy of verses, by which to pay you my debt of gratti- 
tude. These verses, which I will try to render as perfect as possible, 
will be sent to you before they are insirted in the beginning of the 
drama, and produced on the stage. 

My most respectful homage to Monsieur and Madame Pabourgeot. 

GENFLOT, man of letters. 

P. S. If it was only forty sous. I appologize for sending my daugh- 
ter, and not paying my respects personaly; but sad reasons of dress do 
not allow me, alas! to go out. 

Marius then opened the last letter, which was addressed 
to " The Benevolent Gentleman of the Church of St. Jacques 
du Haut-pas ; " and it contained the following lines : 

BENEVOLENT MAN, If you will dain to accompany my daughter you 
will witness a misserable calamity, and I will show you my certificates. 

At the sight of these dokuments your generous soul will be moved by 
a feeling of sensitive benevolence, for true philosophers always experi- 
ence lively emotions. 

Allow, compasionate man, that a man must experience the most cruel 
want, and that it is very painful to obtain any relief, by having it at- 
tested by the authorities, as if a man were not at liberty to suffer and 
die of inanicion, while waiting till our missery is releaved. Fate is too 
cruel to some, and too lavish or protecting for others. I await your 
presence or your offering, if you dain to make one, and I beg you to 
believe in the grateful feeb'ngs with which I have the honor of being, 
really magnanimous sir, 

Your very humble and most obedient servant, 

P. FABANTOU, dramatic artist. 

After reading these four letters, Marius did not find him- 
self much wiser than before. 

In the first place, not one of the writers gave his address. 

In the next, they, appeared to come from four different in- 
dividuals, Don Alvarcs, Mrs. Balizard, Genflot the poet, and 


Fabantou the dramatic artist ; but the queer thing about these 
letters was, that they were all in the same handwriting. 

What conclusion could be drawn from this, save that they 
came from the same person? 

Moreover, and this rendered the conjecture even more 
probable, the paper, which was coarse and yellow, was the 
same for all four ; the tobacco smell was the same ; and though 
an attempt had evidently been made to vary the handwriting, 
the same mistakes in spelling were reproduced with the great- 
est composure, Genflot, the literary man, being no more ex- 
empt from them than the Spanish captain. 

It was time thrown away to strive to read this riddle; and 
if it had not been a chance find, it would have looked like a 
hoax. Marius was too sad to take even a chance jest kindly, 
or to lend himself to a game which the street pavement ap- 
peared desirous to play with him. He felt as if he were 
playing at blind man's buff with these four letters and they 
were mocking him. 

Besides, nothing indicated that these letters belonged to 
the girls whom Marius had met in the boulevard. After 
all, they were evidently papers of no value. 

Marius returned them to the envelope, threw the lot into 
a corner, and went to bed. 

At about seven in the morning, he had just risen and 
breakfasted, and was trying to set to work, when there came 
a gentle tap at the door. 

As he possessed nothing, he never locked his door except 
very rarely, when he had a pressing job to finish. As a rule, 
even when out, he left the key in the lock. " You will be 
robbed," said Ma'am Bougon. 

" Of what? " Marius asked. It is a fact, however, that 
one day a pair of old boots were stolen, to the great triumph 
of Ma'am Bougon. 

There was a second knock, quite as gentle as the first. 

" Come in," said Marius. 

The door opened. 

" What is it, Ma'am Bougon ? " continued Marius, without 


taking his eyes from the books and manuscripts on his table. 

A voice, which was not Ma'am Bougon's, replied: " I beg 
your pardon, sir." 

It was a hollow, cracked, hoarse, strangled voice, the 
voice of an old man, roughened by dram-drinking and ex- 
posure to the cold. 

Marius turned quickly and saw a girl. 



A VERY young girl stood in the half-open door. The 
garret window, through which the light fell, was exactly 
opposite the door, and threw upon her face a sallow gleam. 
She was a wretched, wan, emaciated creature, and had only 
a chemise and a petticoat to cover her shivering and frozen 
nudity. For waist-belt she had a piece of string, for head- 
dress another; pointed shoulders emerged from her chemise; 
she was of a lymphatic pallor, earthly collar-bones, hands red, 
mouth half open and depraved, some teeth gone, eyes dull, 
bold, and sunken. She had the form of an unfinished girl and 
the look of a corrupt old woman ; fifty years blended with 
fifteen. She was one of those beings who are at once weak 
and horrible and who make those shudder whom they do not 
cause to weep. 

Marius had risen, and was staring in a sort of stupor at 
this creature, who was almost like the shadows that traverse 

What was the most heart-rending of all was, that this girl 
had not come into the world to be ugly. In her childhood 
she must even have been pretty. The grace of youth was still 
struggling with the hideous and premature senility of de- 
bauchery and poverty. A remnant of beauty was expiring 


on that countenance of sixteen, like the pallid sun which dies 
out under frightful clouds at dawn on a winter's day. 

The face was not absolutely strange to Marius, and he 
fancied that he had already seen it somewhere. 

" What do you want, miss ? " he asked. 

The girl replied, with her drunken galley-slave's voice: 

" A letter for you, Monsieur Marius." 

She addressed him by name, and hence he could not doubt 
but that her business was with him ; but who was this girl, and 
how did she know his name? 

Without waiting for an invitation, she walked in; she 
walked in boldly, staring about with a sort of assurance that 
wrung the heart, at the whole room and the unmade bed. 
Her feet were bare. Large holes in her petticoat displayed her 
long legs and thin knees. 

She was shivering, and held in her hand a letter, which 
she offered to Marius. 

On opening the letter, he saw that the large clumsy wafer 
was still damp, which proved that the missive had not come a 
long distance. He read : 

MY AMIABLE NEIGHBOUR AND YOUNG SIR, I have herd of your kind- 
ness to me, and that you paid my half-year's rent six months ago. I 
bless you for it, young sir. My eldest daughter will tell you that we 
have been without a morsel of bread for two days (four persons), and 
my wife ill. . If I am not deceived in my opinion, I dare to hope that 
your generous heart will be affected by this statement, and will sudjest 
in you a desire to be propicious to me, by daining to lavish on me a 
trifling charity. 

I am, with the distinguished consideration which is due to the bene- 
factors of humanity, 


P. S. My daughter will wait for your orders, my dear Monsieur 

This letter, in the midst of the mysterious adventure which 
had been troubling Marius ever since the previous evening, 
was like a candle in a cellar; all was suddenly lit up. 

This letter came from the same place as the other letters. 


It was the same handwriting, the same style, the same orthog- 
raphy, the same paper, and the same tobacco smell. 

Here were five letters, five stories, five names, five signa- 
tures and only one writer. The Spanish captain Don Alvares, 
the unhappy mother Balizard, the dramatic author Genflot, 
and the old comedian Fabantou were all four, Jondrette, if, 
indeed, Jondrette's name were really Jondrette. 

During the lengthened period that Marius had inhabited 
this No. 50-52, he had, as we stated, but rare occasion to see, 
or even catch a glimpse of, his very low neighbours. His 
mind was elsewhere ; and where the mind is, there the eyes are 
also. He must have passed the Jondrettes more than once 
in the passage and on the stairs, but they were to him merely 
shadows. He had paid so little attention to them, that on the 
previous evening he had run against the Jondrette girls on 
the boulevard without recognizing them, for it was evi- 
dently they; and it was with great difficulty that the girl 
who had just entered the room aroused in him, in spite of his 
disgust and pity, a vague recollection of having met her 
somewhere before. 

Now he saw everything clearly. He comprehended that his 
neighbour Jondrette had hit upon the trade, in his distress, 
of working upon the charity of benevolent persons; that he 
procured addresses, and wrote under supposititious names to 
people whom he supposed to be rich and charitable, letters 
which his children delivered at their risk and peril; for this 
father had come to such a pass that he hazarded his daughters. 
He was gambling with destiny, and he staked them. Marius 
comprehended that in all probability, judging from their 
flight on the previous evening, their panting, their terror, and 
the slang words which he overheard, these unfortunates car- 
ried on some other dark trades ; and the result of all this was, 
in the midst of human society, as it is now constituted, two 
wretched beings, who were neither children nor girls nor 
women, but a species of impure and innocent monster, the 
product of misery. 

Melancholy beings, without age, name, or sex, to whom 

"While Marius bent upon the girl a pained and astonished gaze, she 
walked about the garret with the boldness of a spectre. 

Les Miserable*. Marius: Page 183. 


neither good nor evil is any longer possible, and who, on 
emerging from childhood have nothing left in the world, 
neither liberty nor virtue nor responsibility; souls that blos- 
somed yesterday and are faded to-day, like the flowers that 
have fallen in the street, and are splashed with mud while 
waiting for a wheel to crush them. 

While Marius bent upon the young girl a pained and as- 
tonished gaze, she walked about the garret with the boldness of 
a spectre, without troubling herself in the slightest degree 
about her state of nudity. Now and then her chemise, un- 
fastened and torn, fell almost to her waist. She moved the 
chairs about, disturbed the toilet articles on the chest of 
drawers, examined Marius's clothes, and rummaged in every 

" Why," she said, " you have a looking-glass ! " 

And she hummed, as if she had been alone, bits of light 
comedy songs and wild refrains, which her guttural and hoarse 
voice rendered mournful. 

But beneath this boldness there was an indescribable con- 
straint, alarm, and humiliation. Effrontery is a disgrace. 

Nothing could well be more sad than to see her flutter about 
the room with the movement of a bird startled by the day- 
light, or with broken wing. It was palpable that under other 
conditions of education and destiny the gay and free de- 
meanor of this girl might have been something gentle and 
charming. Among animals, the creature born to be a dove 
is never changed into an osprey; that is only possible among 

Marius was thinking, and left her alone. She walked up to 
the table. 

"Ah!" said she; "books." 

A gleam darted from her glassy eye; she continued, and 
her accent expressed that happiness which she felt in being 
able to boast of something, to which no human creature is 
insensible : 

" General Bauduin received orders to take the Chateau of Hougomont, 
which stands in the centre of the plain of Waterloo, with the five bat- 
talions of his brigade " 


" I know how to read, I do." 

She quickly seized the book lying on the table, and read 
quite fluently : 

She broke off. 

" Ah, Waterloo ! I know all about that. It was a battle 
long ago. My father was there. He served in the army. 
We are thorough Bonapartists, we are. Waterloo was fought 
against the English." 

She laid down the book, took up a pen, and exclaimed : 

" And I can write, too." 

She dipped the pen in the ink, and turned to Marius, say- 

" Would you like to see ? Look here, I will write a line 
to show you." 

And ere he had time to answer, she wrote on a sheet of 
white paper in the middle of the table, " Here are the cops." 

Then throwing down the pen, she added : 

" There are no mistakes in spelling. You can look. My 
sister and I were well educated. We have not always been 
what we are now ; we were not made ' 

Here she stopped, fixed her eyes on Marius, and burst out 
laughing as she said, with an intonation which contained every 
possible form of agony chocked by every possible form of 
cynicism : 


And then she began to hum these words to a lively air : 

" I'm hungry, papa, 
I've no veal fry; 
I'm cold, mamma, 
No clothes have I. 




Jacquot ! " 

She had scarcely finished the couplet when she exclaimed : 

" Do you ever go to the play, Monsieur Marius ? I do. I 

have a little brother, who is a friend of the actors, who gives 

me tickets every now and then. I don't care for the gallery 


much, though, for you are so squeezed up. Sometimes, too, 
there are rough people there, and people who smell bad." 

Then she stared at Marius, gave him a strange look, and 
said : 

" Do you know, M. Marius, that you are a very good-look- 
ing fellow ? " 

And at the same moment the same thought occurred to 
both, which made her smile and him blush. 

She walked up to him and laid a hand on his shoulder: 
" You don't pay any attention to me ; but I know you, M. 
Marius. I meet you here on the staircase; and then I see 
you going to a swell named M. Maboeuf, who lives over at 
Austerlitz, when I am out that way. Your tumbled hair is 
very becoming." 

She tried to make her voice very soft, and only succeeded 
in making it very low; a part of her words was lost in the 
passage from the larynx to the lips, as on a pianoforte where 
some notes are missing. 

Marius retreated gently. 

" I have a packet," he said, with his cold gravity, " which, 
I believe, belongs to you. Allow me to return it to you." 
And he handed her the envelope which contained the four let- 

She clapped her hands and cried : 

" We looked for it everywhere." 

Then she eagerly seized the parcel and opened the envelope, 

" Lord of lords ! how my sister and I did look for it ! And 
so you found it? On the boulevard, did you not? It must 
have been there! You see, we dropped it while we were run- 
ning, and it was my brat of a sister who was such an ass. 
When we got home we could not find it; and as we did not 
wish to be beaten, which is unnecessary, which is entirely 
unnecessary, which is absolutely unnecessary, we said at 
home that we had delivered the letters, and that the answer 
was, Nix! And here are the poor letters! Well, and how 
did you know that they were mine? Oh, yes, by the writing. 


So, then, it was you that we ran against last night? We could 
not see anything ; and I said to my sister, ' Is it a gentleman ? ' 
and she answered, ' Yes, I think it is a gentleman.' " 

As she said this, she unfolded the petition addressed to the 
" benevolent gentleman of the church of St. Jacques, du 

" Hullo ! " said she, " this is the one for the old swell who 
goes to Mass. Why, 'tis just the hour. I will carry it to 
him. Perhaps he will give us something for breakfast." 

Then she began to laugh again, and added : 

" Do you know what it will mean if we breakfast to-day ? 
We shall have our breakfast of the day before yesterday, our 
dinner of the day before yesterday, our breakfast of yester- 
day, our dinner of yesterday, all that at once this morning. 
Well, hang it ah 1 ! if you are not satisfied, rot, dogs ! " 

This reminded Marius of the hapless girl's errand to him; 
he fumbled in his waistcoat-pocket but found nothing. 

The girl went on, and seemed speaking as if no longer con- 
scious of the presence of Marius : 

" Sometimes I go out at night. Sometimes I do not come 
home. Last winter, before we came here, we lived under the 
arches of the bridges. We huddled close together not to be 
frozen. My little sister cried. How sad the water is. When 
I thought of drowning myself, I said : * No, it is too cold.' 
I go about all alone when I like, and sometimes sleep in ditches. 
Do you know, at night, when I walk along the boulevard, I see 
trees like pitchforks, I see black houses as tall as the towers 
of Notre-Dame; I fancy that the white walls are the river, 
and I say to myself : ' Why, there is water ! ' The stars 
are like lamps in an illumination, and you might say that they 
smoke and the wind blows them out. I feel stunned, as if 
horses were snorting in my ears. Although it is night, I hear 
barrel-organs and spinning-machines ; but what do I know? I 
fancy people are throwing stones at me ; and I run away with- 
out knowing where, for everything turns round me. When 
you have not eaten, you feel queer." 

And she gazed at him with haggard eyes. 


By dint of searching and fumbling in the depths of his 
pockets, Marius succeeded in getting together five francs six- 
teen sous; it was at this moment all that he possessed in the 
world. " Here is my to-day's dinner," he thought, " and to- 
morrow will take care of itself." He kept the sixteen sous 
and gave the girl the five-franc piece. 

She clutched the coin. 

" Good ! " she said, " the sun shines." 

And, as if the sunshine had the property of melting the 
avalanches of slang in her brain, she went on : 

" Five francs ! a shiner ! a monarch ! in these diggins ? that's 
nobby! Well, you are a jolly cock, and my panter is yours. 
Hurrah, boys! two days' stingo; here's a feed; two days to 
lie off ; we'll liquor up well ! and good soup ! you're a daisy ! " 

She pulled her chemise up over her shoulders, made Marius 
a low courtesy, gave a familiar wave of the hand, and walked 
toward the door, saying : 

" Good-day, sir. All right. I must hunt up my old man." 

As she passed, she saw a stale crust of dry bread moulder- 
ing in the dust on the drawers ; she threw herself upon it, and 
bit into it savagely, muttering : 

" It is good, it is hard ; it breaks my teeth ! " 

Then she left the room. 



MARIUS had lived for the past five years in poverty, 
want, and even in distress ; but he now saw that he had 
never known what real misery was. He had just witnessed 
it for the first time; it was the phantom which had just passed 
before him. For, in truth, he who has only seen the misery 
of man has seen nothing ; he must see the misery of woman. 


He who has seen the misery of woman has seen nothing; he 
must see the misery of the child. 

When man has reached his last extremity, he has also 
reached the limit of his resources; and, then, woe to the de- 
fenceless beings who surround him! Work, wages, bread, 
fire, courage, and good will all fail him at once. The light 
of day seems extinguished outside, the moral light is extin- 
guished within him. In these shadows man encounters the 
weakness of the woman and the child, and bends them vio- 
lently to ignominy. 

In such a case, every horror is possible. Despair is sur- 
rounded by thin partitions which all open upon vice and crime. 

Health, youth, honour, the sacred and retiring delicacy of 
the still innocent flesh, the heart, virginity, modesty, that epi- 
dermis of the soul, are foully manipulated by that groping 
hand which seeks resources, meets with opprobrium, and ac- 
cepts it. 

Fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, 
wives, and daughters, cling together and are incorporated, 
almost like a mineral formation, in that misty promiscuity 
of sexes, relations, ages, infamies, and innocencies. They 
crouch, back to back, in a sort of den of destiny. They look 
at each other piteously. Oh! the unfortunates! How pale 
they are! how cold they are! It seems as if they dwelt in a 
planet much farther from the sun than our own. 

This girl was to Marius a sort of emissary from the dark- 
ness. She revealed to him a hideous side of night. 
1 Marius almost reproached himself for the preoccupations 
(of revery and passion which, up to that day, had prevented 
him from bestowing a glance upon his neighbours. The pay- 
ment of their rent was a mechanical impulse, which any one 
might have felt; but he, Marius, ought to have done better. 
What! only a wall separated him from those abandoned crea- 
tures, who lived groping in darkness, beyond the pale of other 
living beings. He stood elbow to elbow with them; he was, 
in some sort, the last link of the human race which they 
touched. He heard them live, or rather die, at his side, and 


he paid no attention to them ! Every moment, every day he 
heard them, through the wall, coming, going, and talking, 
and he did not listen! And in their words were groans, and 
he did not hear them! His thoughts were elsewhere, en- 
gaged with dreams, impossible sunbeams, loves in the air, and 
follies; and yet, human creatures, his brethren in Christ, his 
brethren in the people, were slowly dying by his side, dying 
in vain ! He even formed part of their misfortune, and he ag- 
gravated it. For, if they had had another neighbour, a neigh- 
bour more attentive, less chimerical, an ordinary, charitable 
man, their indigence would surely have been observed, their 
signals of distress perceived, and they might, perhaps, have 
been picked up and rescued long before. They seemed very 
depraved, very corrupt, no doubt, very vile, and indeed very 
odious ; but persons who fall without being degraded are rare ; 
besides, there is a stage where the unfortunate and the in- 
famous are mingled and confounded in one word, a fatal 
word, the miserable. With whom lies the fault ? And then 
again, should not the charity be all the greater in proportion 
as the fall is deep? 

While he read himself this lecture, for there were occa- 
sions on which Marius, like all truly honest souls, was his 
own pedagogue, and reproached himself more than he de- 
served, he gazed at the wall which separated him from the 
Jondrettes, as if his pitying glance could pierce the parti- 
tion and warm those unhappy beings. The wall was a thin 
layer of plaster, supported by laths and beams; and, as we 
have stated, the murmurs of words and voices were distinctly 
heard through it. A man must be a dreamer like Marius 
not to have noticed the fact before. No paper was hung on 
either side of the wall, and its clumsy construction was plainly 
visible. Almost unconsciously, Marius examined the parti- 
tion; for at times revery examines, scrutinizes, and observes 
much as thought does. All at once, he rose; for he had just 
discovered near the top, close to the ceiling, a triangular hole 
produced by a gap between three laths. The plaster which 
once covered this hole had fallen off; and by climbing on his 


chest of drawers, he could see through this aperture into the 
room of the Jondrettes. Commiseration has, and should have, 
its curiosity: The opening formed a sort of peep-hole. It 
is permissible to regard misfortune traitorously in order to aid 

" Let me see," thought Marius, " what these people are 
like, and what state they are in." 

He clambered on the drawers, put his eye to the hole, and 



CITIES, like forests, have their dens, in which everything 
that is most wicked and formidable conceals itself. The 
only difference is, that which hides itself thus in cities is 
ferocious, unclean, and petty, that is to say, ugly. That 
which conceals itself in the forest is ferocious, savage, and 
grand, that is to say, beautiful. Den for den, that of the 
beast is preferable to that of the man. Caverns are better 
than hovels. 

What Marius saw was a hovel. 

Marius was poor, and his room was poverty-stricken; but, 
as his poverty was noble, so his room was clean. The den 
into which he now looked was abject, dirty, fetid, infectious, 
dark and sordid. The only furniture consisted of a straw-bot- 
tomed chair, a rickety table, a few old bits of crockery, and 
in two corners, two indescribable beds. The only light came 
through a sky-light with four panes of glass, festooned with 
spider-webs. Through this opening came just sufficient light 
to make the face of a man seem the face of a spectre. The 
walls had a leprous look, and were covered with gashes and 
scars, like a face disfigured by some horrible disease; a filthy 
damp oozed from them. Obscene sketches, clumsily drawn 
in charcoal, could be distinguished on them. 


The room which Marius occupied had a dilapidated brick 
floor. This one was neither tiled nor planked ; people walked 
directly on the old plaster, which had grown black under the 
feet. Upon this uneven floor, in which the dust was fairly 
incrusted, and which had but one virginity, that of the broom, 
were capriciously grouped constellations of old shoes, boots, 
and frightful rags. This room, however, had a fireplace, and 
for this reason was let at forty francs a year. There was a 
little of everything in this fireplace, a chafing-dish, a pot, 
some broken boards, rags hanging from nails, a bird-cage, 
ashes, and even a little fire. Two brands were smouldering 
there in a melancholy way. 

One thing which increased the horror of this garret was 
its size. It had projections, angles, nooks, black holes under 
the roof, bays, and promontories. Hence came frightful, un- 
fathomable corners, where it seemed as if spiders as big as 
your fist, wood-lice as large as your foot, and possibly some 
human monster, must lurk. 

One of the beds was near the door, the other near the win- 
dow; but one end of each touched the mantelpiece, and faced 

In a corner near the hole through which Marius was 
peeping, a coloured engraving in a black frame, under 
which was written in large letters, " The Dream," hung 
against the wall. It represented a sleeping woman and a 
sleeping child, the child lying on the woman's knees, an eagle 
in a cloud with a crown in its beak, and the woman pushing 
the crown away from the child's head, without awaking it, 
however ; in the background, Napoleon, surrounded by a glory, 
leaning against a dark blue column, with a yellow capital, 
ornamented with this inscription : 





Below this frame, a sort of wooden panel, longer than it was 
broad, was placed on the ground and leaned against the 

It looked like a picture with its face turned to the wall, 
some daub, or some pier-glass detached from a wall and for- 
gotten there while waiting to be rehung. 

At the table, on which Marius noticed pen, ink, and paper, 
sat a man about sixty years of age, short, thin, livid, hag- 
gard, with a crafty, cruel, and uneasy look, a hideous 

If Lavater had studied that face, he would have found the 
vulture blended with the attorney's clerk. The bird of prey 
and the pettifogger rendering each other uglier and more 
complete, the pettifogger of trickery making the bird of 
prey ignoble, and the bird of prey making the pettifogger 

This man had a long gray beard. He wore a woman's 
chemise, which showed his hairy chest arid naked arms, bris- 
tling with gray hairs. Under this chemise were muddy trous- 
ers, and boots out of which his toes stuck. 

He had a pipe in his mouth, and was smoking. There 
was no bread in the hovel, but there was still tobacco. 

He was writing, probably more letters like those which 
Marius had read. 

On the corner of the table lay an old, broken-backed, red 
volume, the size of which, the old 12mo of circulating libra- 
ries, revealed a romance. On the cover sprawled the following 
title, printed in large capitals : " GOD, THE KING, HONOUR, 

As he wrote, the man talked aloud, and Marius heard his 
words : 

" Only to think that there is no equality, even when a man 
is dead ! Just look at Pere Lachaise ! The great, those who 
are rich, are up above, in Acacia Avenue, which is paved. 
They reach it in a coach. The little folk, the poor people, 
the wretched, why, they are put down at the bottom, where 
there is mud up to your knees, in damp holes. They are put 


there that they may rot all the sooner. You can't go to 

see them without sinking into the ground." 

Here he stopped, smote the table with his fist, and added, 
while he gnashed his teeth : 

" Oh, I could eat the world ! " 

A stout woman, who might be forty, or one hundred, 
crouched near the fireplace on her naked heels. She, too, was 
dressed in a chemise and a knit petticoat patched with bits of 
old cloth. An apron of coarse canvas concealed one-half of 
the petticoat. Though this woman was sitting all of a heap, 
it was evident that she was very tall, a sort of giantess be- 
side her husband. She had frightful hair, of a reddish au- 
burn, beginning to turn gray, which she thrust back every now 
and then with her huge greasy hands with their flat nails. 

By her side, on the floor, lay an open volume, of the same 
form as the other, probably part of the same romance. 

On one of the beds, Marius caught a glimpse of a tall, un- 
healthy-looking young girl, sitting there almost naked, and 
with hanging feet, who did not seem to hear, see, or live. 

She was, doubtless, the younger sister of the one who had 
come to his room. 

She appeared to be eleven or twelve years of age; but on 
examining her attentively, it could be seen that she was at 
least fourteen. It was the girl who said on the boulevard on 
the previous night, " I bolted, bolted, bolted." 

She was of that sickly sort who are backward for a long 
time, then shoot up quickly anc suddenly. It is poverty 
which produces these poor human plants. These creatures 
have neither childhood nor youth. At fifteen they seem 
twelve, and at sixteen they seem twenty. To-day a little girl, 
to-morrow a woman. We might almost say that they stride 
through life in order to reach the end more rapidly. 

At this moment, however, she had the look of a child. 

In this abode there was not the slightest sign of work ; not 
a loom, a spinning-wheel, or a single tool, but in one corner 
were some iron implements of dubious aspect. It was that dull 

indolence which follows despair and precedes death. 


Marius gazed for some time at this mournful interior, which 
was more terrifying than the interior of a tomb ; for the hu- 
man soul could be felt stirring there, and life palpitating. 

The garret, the cellar, the hole where some poor wretches 
crawl at the very bottom of the social structure, is not ex- 
actly the sepulchre; it is its antechamber. But, like those 
rich men who display their greatest magnificence at the en- 
trance to their palaces, it seems that death, which is close at 
hand, places all its greatest wretchedness in that vestibule. 

The man was silent, the woman did not speak, and the girl 
did not seem to breathe. The scratching of the pen was dis- 
tinctly audible. 

The man growled, without ceasing to write, " Scoundrels, 
scoundrels, all are scoundrels ! " 

This variation upon Solomon's exclamation drew a sigh 
from the wife. 

" Be calm, my love," she said ; " do not hurt yourself, dar- 
ling. You are too good to write to all those people, hus- 

In misery, bodies draw more closely together, as in cold 
weather, but hearts are estranged. This woman, to all ap- 
pearance, must have loved this man with all the love of which 
she was capable; but probably it had been destroyed by the 
daily and mutual reproaches of the frightful distress that 
pressed upon the whole family. Only the ashes of affection 
for her husband now exis ed within her. Still, caressing ap- 
pellations, as frequently bappens, had survived. She called 
him darling, pet, husband, with her lips; but her heart was 

The man resumed his writing. 




MARIUS, with an aching heart, was just about to descend 
from the species of observatory which he had impro- 
vised, when a sound attracted his attention, and led him to 
remain at his post. 

The door of the garret was suddenly thrown open, and 
the elder daughter appeared on the threshold. She had on 
her feet clumsy men's shoes, covered with mud, which had 
even splashed her red ankles ; and she was covered with an old 
ragged cloak, which Marius had not noticed an hour previ- 
ously, but which she had probably left at his door, in order 
to inspire greater pity, and had put on again when she went 
out. She came in, shut the door after her, stopped to take 
breath, for she was panting, and then cried, with an expression 
of triumph and joy: 

" He is coming ! " 

The father turned his eyes to her, the mother turned her 
head, and the little sister did not move. 

" Who? " asked the father. 

" The gentleman." 

" The philanthropist? " 

" Yes." 

"From the church of St. Jacques?" 

" Yes." 

"That old man?" 

" Yes." 

" He is coming?" 

" He is following me." 

" Are you sure? " 

" I am sure." 

" Sure he is coming? " 

" He is coming in a hackney coach, I tell you." 


" A hackney coach ! Why, he is a regular Rothschild ! " 

The father rose. 

" How can you be sure? If he is coming in a coach, how 
did you get here before him? Did you give him the address, 
and are you certain you told him it was the last door on the 
right at the end of the passage? I only hope he will not 
make a mistake. Did you find him at church? Did he read 
my letter, and what did he say to you ? " 

" Ta, ta, ta," said the girl, " how you gallop, my good 
man. I went into the church; he was in his usual place. I 
made him a courtesy and handed him the letter; he read it, 
and said to me, ' Where do you live, my child? ' I said, ' I 
will show you the way, sir ; ' he said, ' No, give me your ad- 
dress, for my daughter has some purchases to make. I will 
take a hackney coach and be at your house as soon as you.' I 
gave him the address ; and when I mentioned the house, he 
seemed surprised, and hesitated for a moment, but then said, 
' No matter, I will go.' When Mass was over, I saw him 
leave the church and get into a coach with his daughter. And 
of course I told him the last door on the right at the end of 
the passage." 

" And how do you know that he will come ? " 

" I have just seen the coach turn into the Rue du Petit 
Banquier, and that is why I ran." 

" How do you know it was the same coach? " 

" Because I noticed the number, so there ! " 

"What was it?" 

" Four hundred and forty." 

" Good, you are a clever girl." 

The girl looked boldly at her father, and said, as she 
pointed to the shoes on her feet : 

" Perhaps I am a clever girl ; but I tell you I will not put 
on those shoes again. That I won't. In the first place, on 
account of my health; and, in the next, for the sake of de- 
cency. I know nothing more annoying than loose soles that 
go squelch, squelch, squelch, all the time. I would sooner 
go barefoot," 


" You are right," replied the father, in a gentle voice, which 
contrasted with the girl's rudeness ; " but the poor are not ad- 
mitted into churches unless they wear shoes. God's presence 
must not be entered barefoot," he added bitterly. 

Then he returned to the subject that absorbed him. 

" And so you are sure that he will come ? " 

" He is at my heels," she replied. 

The man drew himself up, and there was a sort of illumina- 
tion on his face. 

" Wife," he cried, " you hear ! Here is the philanthropist ; 
put out the fire." 

The stupefied mother did not stir. 

The father, with the agility of an acrobat, seized a cracked 
pitcher which stood on the chimney-piece, and threw water on 
the brands. 

Then he said to his elder daughter: 

" Here, you, pull the straw out of the chair." 

As his daughter did not understand him, he seized the 
chair and kicked the seat out. His leg passed through it. 

As he drew out his leg, he asked his daughter: 

"Is it cold?" 

" Very cold ; it is snowing." 

The father turned to the younger girl, who sat on the bed 
near the window, and shouted in a thundering voice : 

" Quick ! Come off that bed, lazy thing ! Will you never 
do anything ; break a pane of glass ! " 

The little girl jumped off the bed, shivering. 

" Break a pane ! " he continued. 

The girl was quite stunned, and did not move. 

" Do you hear me? " repeated the father. " I tell you to 
break a pane." 

The child, with a sort of terrified obedience, stood on tiptoe 
and broke a pane with her fist. The glass fell with a great 

" All right," said the father. 

He was serious and abrupt. His eye rapidly surveyed 
every corner of the garret. 


He was like a general making his final preparations at the 
moment when an action is about to begin. 

The mother, who had not yet said a word, rose and asked in 
a slow, dull voice, the words seeming to issue as if frozen : 

" Darling, what do you intend to do ? " 

" Go to bed," replied the man. 

His tone admitted of no deliberation. The mother obeyed, 
and threw herself heavily on one of the beds. 

A sob was now heard in one corner. 

" What is that? " cried the father. 

The younger girl, without leaving the dark corner in which 
she was crouching, showed her bleeding fist. In breaking the 
glass, she had cut herself. She crawled close to her mother's 
bed, and cried silently. 

It was the mother's turn to draw herself up and exclaim: 

" See, there ! What nonsensical things you do ! She has 
cut herself in breaking the window for you." 

" All the better," said the man ; " that's what I expected." 

" What do you mean by * all the better ' ? " retorted the 

" Silence ! " replied the father ; " I suppress the liberty of 
the press." 

Then, tearing the chemise which he wore, he made a band- 
age, with which he quickly wrapped the girl's bleeding wrist. 

This done, his eye settled on the torn chemise with satis- 

" And the shirt, too ! " he said ; " all this looks well." An 
icy blast whistled through the pane and entered the room. 
The outside fog penetrated it, and diffused itself like a piece 
of white wadding pulled apart by invisible fingers. Through 
the broken pane the snow could be seen falling. The cold 
promised by the Candlemas sun had really come. The father 
took a look around him, as if to make sure that he had for- 
gotten nothing. He fetched an old shovel and strewed the 
ashes over the wet logs, so as to conceal them entirely. Then, 
getting up and leaning against the chimney-piece he said: 

" Now we can receive the philanthropist." 




elder girl walked up to her father and laid her hand 
A in his. 

" Just feel how cold I am ! " she said. 

" Stuff' ! " answered the father, " I am much colder than 

The mother cried impetuously : 

" You are always better off than others, you are, even in 
bad things." 

" Down ! " said the man. 

The mother, looked at by him in a certain way, held her 
tongue, and there was a momentary silence in the den. 

The elder girl was carelessly removing the mud from the 
edge of her cloak, and her younger sister continued to sob. 
The mother had taken the little one's head between her hands, 
and covered it with kisses, whispering: 

" Pray do not go on so, my treasure ; it will be nothing, so 
don't cry, or you will vex your father." 

" No," cried the father ; " on the contrary, sob, sob away ; 
that's all right." 

Then he turned to the elder girl ; 

" Why, he is not coming ! Suppose lie were not to come ! 
I should have broken my pane, put out my fire, unseated my 
chair, and torn my shirt all for nothing." 

" And hurt the little one," murmured the mother. 

" Do you know," continued the father, " that it is in- 
fernally cold in this devil's own garret? Suppose the man 
did not come ! But no, he keeps us waiting, and says to him- 
self : ' Well, they must wait my pleasure. That's what they 
are sent into the world for ! ' Oh, how I hate the rich ; and 
with what joy, jubilation, enthusiasm, and satisfaction I 
could strangle them all ! All the rich folk, I say, those men 


who pretend to be charitable, who play the devout, attend 
Mass, keep in with the priests, preachy, preachy, in their 
skull-caps, who think themselves above us, who come to hu- 
miliate us, and bring us * clothes,' as they say. They bring 
us old duds not worth four sous ! and bread ! That's not what 
I want, you pack of scoundrels, but money. Ah, money 
never! Because they say that we would spend it in drink, 
and that we are drunkards and vagabonds. And they, what 
are they, pray, and what have they been in their time? 
Thieves, or else they could not have grown rich. Oh, society 
ought to be tossed in a blanket, and the whole lot thrown into 
the air! They would all be smashed, very possibly; but at 
any rate, no one would have anything then, and that would 
be so much gained! But what is your humbug of a benevo- 
lent gentleman about! Why don't he come? Perhaps the 
beast has forgotten the address. I will bet that the old 
brute " 

At that moment there was a gentle tap at the door. The 
man rushed forward and opened it, exclaiming with deep 
bows, and smiles of adoration: 

" Come in, sir ; deign to enter, my respected benefactor, 
as well as your charming daughter." 

A man of middle age and a young lady stood in the door- 

Marius had not left his post. What he felt at this moment 
is beyond the power of the human tongue to tell. It was 

Anyone who has loved knows all the radiant meaning con- 
tained in the three letters that form the word She. 

It was certainly she. Marius could hardly see her through 
the luminous vapour which had suddenly overspread his 

It was that sweet, absent creature, the star which had shone 
upon him for six months; it was those eyes, that brow, that 
mouth, that lovely vanished face which had produced night by 
its departure. The vision had been eclipsed; it now reap- 


It reappeared in this darkness, in this attic, in this filthy 
den, in this horror. 

Marius trembled desperately. What! it was she! The 
palpitation of his heart dimmed his sight. He felt ready to 
burst into tears ! What ! he saw her again, after seeking her 
so long? It seemed to him as if he had lost his soul and had 
just found it again. 

She was still the same, though perhaps a little pale. Her 
delicate face was framed in a violet velvet bonnet, and her 
figure was hidden by a black satin pelisse. Her little foot 
in a silk boot peeped from under her long dress. 

She was still accompanied by M. Leblanc. She walked 
into the room and placed a large parcel on the table. 

The elder Jondrette girl had retired behind the door, and 
looked with jealous eyes at the velvet bonnet, the satin pelisse, 
and the charming, happy face. 



THE garret was so dark that those who entered from with- 
out felt much as if they were going into a cellar. The 
two new-comers, therefore, advanced with some degree of 
hesitation, scarcely able to distinguish the vague forms around 
them, while they were distinctly seen and closely examined by 
the eyes of the denizens of the attic, who were accustomed to 
this twilight. 

M. Leblanc approached Father Jondrette, with his sad and 
kindly smile, and said : 

" You will find in this parcel, sir, new clothes, woollen 
stockings, and blankets." 

" Our angelic benefactor overwhelms us," said Jondrette, 
bowing to the ground. 


Then, bending down to the ear of his elder daughter, he 
added in a hurried whisper, while the two visitors were ex- 
amining this lamentable interior: 

"There! what did I tell you? Old clothes! no money! 
They are all alike! By the way, how was the letter to that 
old ass signed? " 

" Fabantou." 

"The actor; all right." 

It was lucky that Jondrette asked this, for at that very 
moment M. Leblanc turned to him, and said, with the air of a 
person who is trying to remember a name: 

" I see that you are much to be pitied, Monsieur " 

" Fabantou," Jondrette quickly added. 

" Monsieur Fabantou ; yes, that is it ; I remember." 

" An actor, sir, who was successful in his time." 

Here Jondrette evidently believed that the moment had come 
to capture his " philanthropist ; " and he shouted in a voice 
which smacked at once of the bombast of the country mounte- 
bank and the humility of the professional beggar: 

" A pupil of Talma, sir ! I am a pupil of Talma ! For- 
tune smiled upon me formerly, but now, alas! The day of 
misfortune has come. You see, my benefactor, we have no 
bread, no fire. My poor kids have no fire. My sole chair 
without a seat! a pane of glass broken! in such weather as 
this ! my wife in bed, ill ! " 

" Poor woman ! " said M. Leblanc. 

" My child wounded," added Jondrette. 

The child, distracted by the arrival of the strangers, was 
staring at the " young lady," and had ceased sobbing. 

" Cry, I tell you ; roar ! " Jondrette whispered to her. 

At the same time he pinched her injured hand. All this 
was done with the talent of a conjurer. 

The little one uttered piercing cries, and the adorable girl, 
whom Marius in his heart called " his Ursula," quickly ran 
to her. 

" Poor, dear child ! " said she. 

" You see, my beautiful young lady," continued Jondrette, 


" her bleeding wrist. It is the result of an accident which 
happened tQ her while working at a factory to earn six sous 
a day. It is possible that her arm will have to be cut off." 

" Really? " said the old gentleman in alarm. 

The little girl, taking this remark seriously, began to sob 
louder than ever. 

" Alas, yes, my benefactor ! " answered the father. 

For some minutes past, Jondrette had been staring at the 
" philanthropist " in a peculiar way. As he spoke he seemed 
to be studying him attentively, as if trying to recall certain 
memories. All at once, profiting by a moment during which 
the new-comers were questioning the little girl about her in- 
jured hand, he passed close to his wife, who was lying in her 
bed with a surprised and stupid air, and said to her, in a 
hurried whisper: 

" Look at that man ! " 

Then he turned to M. Leblanc and continued his lamenta- 

" See, sir ! My sole clothing consists of a chemise be- 
longing to my wife, and all torn, too ! in the heart of winter. 
I cannot go out for want of a coat. If I had the smallest 
bit of a coat, I would go and call on Mademoiselle Mars, who 
knows me, and is much attached to me. Does she still live in 
the Rue de la Tour des Dames? Do you know, sir, that we 
played together in the provinces, and that I shared her 
laurels ? Celimene would come to my help, sir ! Elmire would 
give alms to Belisarius. But no; nothing! and not a sou in 
the house ! My wife ill, not a sou ! my daughter dangerously 
injured, not a sou! my wife suffers from shortness of breath, 
it comes from her age, and then her nervous system has 
something to do with it. She ought to have treatment, and so 
ought my daughter. But the physician and the apothecary, 
how are they' to be paid? I have not a farthing! I would 
kneel down before a centime, sir. You see to what the arts 
are reduced ! And do you know, my charming young lady, 
and you, my generous protector, who exhale virtue and good- 
ness, and who perfume the church where my poor child sees 


you daily when she goes to say her prayers,, For I am 
bringing up my daughters religiously, sir. I do not wish 
them to take to the stage. Ah, the jades, just let me catch 
them tripping! I do not jest, sir; I'm always kicking up a 
row about honour, morality, and virtue. Just ask them! 
They must walk straight. They have a father. They are 
none of those wretches who begin by having no family, and 
end by marrying the public. Such a girl is Miss Nobody, 
and becomes Madame All-the-world. None of that in the 
Fabantou family ! I mean to bring them up virtuously ; and 
they must be respectable and civil, and believe in God, by 
Jesus ! 

" Well, sir, good sir, do you know what will happen to-mor- 
row? To-morrow is the 4th of February, the fatal day, 
the last day of grace my landlord has granted me, and if 
I do not pay my rent by to-night, my eldest daughter, 
myself, my wife with her fever, my child with her wound, 
we shall all four of us be turned out of here and flung into 
the street, shelterless, in the rain and snow. There, sir! I 
owe four quarters, a year's rent; that is to say, sixty 

Jondrette lied. Four quarters would have been only forty 
francs; and he could not owe four, as it was not six months 
since Marius had paid two for him. 

M. Leblanc took five francs from his pocket and threw them 
on the table. 

Jondrette took time to growl in his grown-up daughter's 

" The cheat ! what does he expect me to do with his five 
francs? That won't pay for the chair and pane of glass. 
There's the result of making an outlay." 

In the meanwhile, M. Leblanc had taken off a heavy brown 
coat which he wore over his blue one, and had thrown it on 
the back of a chair. 

" Monsieur Fabantou," he said, " I have only these five 
francs about me; but I will take my daughter home and re- 
turn to-night. Is it not to-night that you have to pay ? " 


Jondrette's face was lit up with a strange expression. He 
hurriedly answered: 

" Yes, respected sir, I must be with my landlord by eight 

" I will be here by six, and bring you the sixty francs." 

" My benefactor ! " Jondrette exclaimed wildly, and he 
added in a whisper: 

" Look at him well, wife." 

M. Leblanc had given his arm to the lovely young lady, 
and was turning to the door. 

" Till this evening, my friends," he said. 

" At six o'clock ? " asked Jondrette. 

" At six o'clock precisely." 

At this moment the overcoat left on the back of the chair 
caught the eye of the elder girl. 

" Sir," said she, " you are forgetting your coat." 

Jondrette gave his daughter a crushing glance, accom- 
panied by a terrible shrug of the shoulders; but M. Leblanc 
turned and replied with a smile : 

" I do not forget it, I leave it." 

" Oh, my protector," said Jondrette, " my august bene- 
factor, I am melted to tears! Permit me to conduct you to 
your vehicle." 

" If you go out," M. Leblanc remarked, " put on that over- 
coat, for it is really very cold." 

Jondrette did not need to be told twice, but eagerly put on 
the brown coat. Then they all three went out, Jondrette pre- 
ceding the two strangers. 




MARIUS had lost nothing of this scene, and yet, in reality, 
he had seen nothing. His eyes had remained fixed on 
the maiden. His heart had, so to speak, seized her and en- 
tirely enfolded her from her very first step into the garret. 
During the whole time she had been there, he had lived that 
life of ecstasy which suspends material perceptions and con- 
centrates the whole mind upon one point. He contemplated 
not the girl, but the radiance which was dressed in a satin 
pelisse and a velvet bonnet. Had the planet Sirius entered the 
room he would not have been more dazzled. 

While she was opening the parcel and unfolding the clothes 
and blankets, questioning the sick mother kindly and the little 
wounded girl tenderly, he watched her every movement, and 
tried to hear her words. Though he knew her eyes, her fore- 
head, her beauty, her form, and her walk, he did not know the 
sound of her voice. He had once fancied that he had caught 
a few words at the Luxembourg, but he was not absolutely 
sure. He would have given ten years of his life to hear her 
speak, and to carry away in his soul a little of that music; 
but everything was drowned in the lamentable braying of 
Jondrette's trumpet. This added a touch of real anger to 
Marius's ravishment. He devoured her with his eyes. He 
could not imagine that it was really that divine creature whom 
he saw among those unclean beings in that monstrous den. 
He fancied that he saw a humming-bird among toads. 

When she left the room, he had but one thought, to fol- 
low her, to attach himself to her trail, not to leave her till he 
knew where she lived, at least not to lose her again, after 
having so miraculously found her. He leaped down from the 
drawers and seized his hat. Just as he laid his hand on the 
latch and was going out, a sudden thought stopped him. The 


passage was long, the staircase steep, Jondrette talkative, and 
M. Leblanc had doubtless not yet got into his coach again. 
If, turning in the passage or on the stairs, he were to per- 
ceive him, Marius, in this house, he would assuredly be 
alarmed, and find means to escape him again, and so all 
would be over for the second time. What was to be done? 
Wait awhile? But during this delay the vehicle might start 
off. Marius was perplexed, but at length risked it, and left 
the room. 

There was no one in the passage. He ran to the stairs, 
and as there was no one upon them he hurried down, and 
reached the boulevard just in time to see a hackney coach 
turn the corner of the Rue du Petit Banquier, on its way back 
to Paris. 

Marius rushed in that direction, and, on reaching the cor- 
ner of the boulevard, saw the hackney coach again rapidly 
rolling along the Rue Mouffetard. It was already some dis- 
tance off, and he had no means of catching up to it. To run 
after it was impossible; and, besides, a man running at full 
speed after the vehicle would surely be seen from it, and the 
father would recognize him. At this moment, by an extraor- 
dinary and marvellous chance, Marius observed a cab pass- 
ing along the boulevard, empty. There was only one thing 
to be done, to get into this cab and follow the hackney 
coach. That was sure, efficacious, and without danger. 

Marius made the driver a sign to stop, and shouted to 

" By the hour ! " 

Marius had no cravat. He wore his old working coat, from 
which buttons were missing, and one of the plaits of his shirt 
was torn. 

The driver stopped, winked, and held out his left hand to 
Marius, gently rubbing his forefinger with his thumb. 

" What do you mean? " asked Marius. 

" Pay in advance," said the coachman. 

Marius remembered that he had only sixteen sous in his 


"How much?" 

"Forty sous." 

" I will pay on my return." 

The driver's only reply was to whistle the air of " La 
Palisse," and to whip up his horse. 

Marius stared at the departing cab with a bewildered look. 
For the want of twenty-four sous he must lose his joy, his 
happiness, his love! He fell back into night! He had seen, 
and was becoming blind again. He thought bitterly, and, we 
must add, with deep regret, of the five francs which he had 
given that very morning to that wretched girl. If he still 
had them, he would be saved, would emerge from limbo and 
darkness, and escape from isolation, spleen, and widowhood. 
He might have reknotted the black thread of his destiny to the 
beauteous golden thread which had just floated before his 
eyes, only to be broken again ! He returned to his garret in 

He might have remembered that M. Leblanc had promised 
to return that evening, and that he had only to contrive to 
follow him better; but in his contemplation he had scarce 
heard him. 

As he was going upstairs, he noticed on the other side of 
the boulevard, leaning against the deserted wall of the Rue de 
la Barriere des Gobelins, Jondrette, wrapped in the " philan- 
thropist's " overcoat, conversing with one of those ill-looking 
men who are usually known as prowlers at the barriers, 
men of equivocal faces and suspicious soliloquies, who look 
as if they entertained evil thoughts, who most usually sleep by 
day, which leads to the supposition that they work at night. 

These two men, standing to talk in the snow, which was 
falling heavily, formed a group which a policeman would 
certainly have observed, but which Marius scarce noticed. 

Still, in spite of his painful preoccupation, he could not 
help saying to himself that the man to whom Jondrette was 
talking looked like a certain Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias 
Bigrenaille, whom Courfeyrac had once pointed out to him, 
and who was regarded in the quarter as a very dangerous 


night-bird. This Panchaud afterward figured in several 
criminal trials, and eventually became a notorious villain, 
though at this time he was only a scurvy villain. He now 
lives as a tradition among thieves and murderers. He had 
numerous followers toward the end of the last reign ; and 
people used to talk about him in the Lion's den, at La Force, 
at nightfall, at the hour when groups assemble and converse 
in whispers. In that prison, and at the exact spot where the 
sewer, which served as the unheard-of way of escape, in broad 
daylight, for thirty prisoners, in 1843, passes under the cul- 
vert, his name, Panchaud, may be seen, audaciously carved, on 
the wall over the sewer, in one of his attempts to escape. In 
1832 the police already had their eye on him, but he had not 
yet fairly made a start. 



MARIUS ascended the stairs slowly; and just as he was 
about to enter his cell, he perceived behind him, in the 
passage, the elder of Jondrette's girls following him. This 
girl was odious in his sight, for it was she who had his five 
francs; but it was too late to ask them back from her, for 
both the hackney coach and the cab were now far away. 
Besides, she would not return them to him. As for ques- 
tioning her about the abode of the persons who had been there 
just now, that was useless. It was plain that she did not 
know; for the letter signed Fabantou was addressed to the 
" benevolent gentleman of the church of St. Jacques d 

Marius went into his room and shut the door after hfcn^ 
but it did not close. He turned, and saw a hand which held 
it half open. 


" What Is it? " he asked. " Who's there? " 

It was the girl. 

" Oh, it's you ! " continued Marius almost harshly ; " you 
again ? What do you want of me ? " 

She seemed thoughtful, and made no answer. She no lon- 
ger had the bold air of the morning; she did not come in, but 
stood in the dark passage, where Marius could see her through 
the half-open door. 

"Well, answer," said Marius; "what do you want?" 

She raised her dull eye, in which a sort of lustre seemed to 
be vaguely kindled, and said : 

" Monsieur Marius, you look sad. What is the matter 
with you ? " 

" With me? " said Marius. 

" Yes, you." 

" Nothing." 

" Yes, there is !" 

" No." 

" I tell you there is." 

" Leave me alone." 

Marius gave the door another push, but she still held it. 

" Stop ! " she said ; " you are wrong. Though you are 
not rich, you were kind this morning. Be so again now. 
You gave me food, and now tell me what is the matter with 
you. It is easy to see that you are in sorrow. I do not like 
to see you so. What can I do to help you? Can I be of any 
service ? Employ me ; I do not ask for your secrets, and you 
need not tell them to me ; but I may be of use to you. Surely 
I can help you, as I help my father. If there are any letters 
to deliver, or any address to be found by following people, 
or asking from door to door, I am very good at that sort of 
work. Well, you might tell me what is the matter with you, 
and I will go and speak to the persons. Sometimes it is 
enough for some one to speak to the persons to find out things, 
and everything comes right. Employ me." 

An idea crossed Marius's mind. No branch is despised 
when we feel ourselves falling. 


He went up to the girl. 

" Listen to me," he said ; " you brought an old gentleman 
and his daughter here." 

" Yes." 

" Do you know their address ? " 

" No." 

" Find it for me." 

The girl's dull eyes had become joyous, but now they be- 
came gloomy. 

" Is that what you want ? " she asked. 

" Yes." 

" Do you know them ? " 

" No." 

" That is to say," she added quickly, " you don't know her, 
but you would like to know her." 

This them, which became her, had something peculiarly 
significant and bitter about it. 

" Well, can you do it ? " Marius said. 

" You shall have the ' lovely young lady's ' address." 

In these words (the " lovely young lady ") there was again 
a meaning which annoyed Marius. He went on : 

" Well, no matter ! The father's and daughter's address, 
their address, I say." 

She looked at him fixedly. 

" What will you give me for it? " 

" Whatever you like." 

"Whatever I like?" 

" Yes." 

" You shall have the address." 

She hung her head, then with a hurried gesture closed the 

Marius was alone. 

He sank into a chair, with his head and elbows on his bed, 
lost in thoughts which he could not grasp, and as if a prey 
to vertigo. All that had happened since the morning, the 
apparition of the angel, her disappearance, and what this 
creature had just said to him, a gleam of hope floating in an 


immense despair, this is what confusedly filled his brain. 

All at once he was violently aroused from his revery. He 
heard Jondrette's shrill, hard voice uttering these words, full 
of the strangest interest for him : 

" I tell you that I am sure, and that I recognized him." 

Of whom was Jondrette talking, and whom had he recog- 
nized? M. Leblanc? The father of his "Ursula." What! 
did Jondrette know him? Was Marius to obtain in this sud- 
den and unexpected fashion all the information without which 
his life was so dark to him? Should he at last know who it 
was that he loved, who this young girl was? Who her 
father was? Was the thick cloud that covered them about 
to be dispelled? Would the veil be rent asunder? Oh, 
heavens ! 

He bounded rather than climbed upon the chest of drawers, 
and resumed his place at the little opening in the party-wall. 

Once more he saw the interior of Jondrette's den. 



THERE was no change in the appearance of the family, 
save that mother and daughters had put on stockings 
and flannel skirts taken out of the parcel ; and two new blank- 
ets were thrown on the beds. 

The man had evidently just returned, for he was still out 
of breath; his daughters were seated on the floor near the 
fireplace, the elder tying up the younger's hand. The mother 
lay feebly on the bed by the fire, with an astonished face, 
while Jondrette walked up and down the room with long 
strides and extraordinary eyes. 

The woman, who seemed frightened and struck with stupor 
before him, ventured to say: 


" What ! really ? You are sure ? " 

" Sure ! It is eight years ago, but I recognize him. Oh, I 
recognize him ! Why, I recognized him at once. What ! did 
it not strike you? " 

" No." 

" And yet I said to you, ' Pay attention 1 ! ' Why, it is his 
figure, his face, very little older (there are some people who 
never grow old: I don't know how they manage it), it is the 
very sound of his voice. He is better dressed, that's alU 
Ah, you mysterious old devil, I have got you now ! " 

He paused and said to his daughters : 

" Be off, you two ! It is funny that it did not strike you/ 

They rose to obey. 

The mother stammered: 

" With her bad hand? " 

"The air will do it good," said Jondrette. "Off witb 
you ! " 

It was evident that this man was one of those who brooks of 
no answer. 

The girls went out, but just as they passed the door the 
father clutched the elder by the arm, and said, with a peculiar 
accent : 

" You will be here at five o'clock precisely. Both of you. 
I shall want you." 

Marius redoubled his attention. 

When left alone with his wife, Jondrette began to walk 
the room again, taking two or three turns in silence. Then he 
spent several minutes in tucking the tail of the woman's 
chemise which he wore into his trousers. 

All at once he turned to his wife ; folded his arms, and ex- 
claimed : 

" And shall I tell you something ? The young lady - 

" Well, what ? " retorted the wife ; " the young lady ? " 

Marius could not doubt they were really talking about 

He listened with ardent anxiety, and all his life was in his 


But Jondrette had stooped and was whispering to hi wife. 
Then he rose, and ended aloud: 

" It is she." 

" That creature ? " asked the wife. 

" That creature ! " said the husband. 

No words can render the significance of the mother's that 
creature. Surprise, rage, hatred, and passion were mingled 
and combined in one monstrous intonation. A few words, 
doubtless a name, which her husband had whispered in her 
ear, were sufficient to arouse this fat, sluggish woman, and to 
change her from frightful to repulsive. 

" It is not possible," she exclaimed ; " when I think that 
my daughters go about barefooted, and have not a gown to 
put on! What! a satin pelisse, a velvet bonnet, shoes, and 
everything, clothes worth more than two hundred francs, so 
that you might take her for a lady! No! You are mis- 
taken! And then, that thing was hideous, while this one is 
not bad looking ! She really is not bad looking ! Oh, it can- 
not be ! " 

" And I tell you that it is. You will see." 

At this absolute assertion, the woman raised her large red 
and white face and looked at the ceiling with a hideous ex- 
pression. At that moment she appeared to Marius even 
more to be feared than her husband. She was a sow with 
the look of a tigress. 

" What ! " she continued, " that horrible young lady who 
looked at my daughters with an air of pity, she is that 
beggarly brat ! Oh, I should like to burst her belly with my 
wooden shoes ! " 

She leaped off the bed, and stood for a moment unkempt, 
with dilating nostrils, parted lips, and clenched fists; then 
she fell back again on the bed. Her husband walked up and 
down and paid no attention to his wife. 

After a short silence he went up to her, and stood before 
her with folded arms, as he had done a few moments pre- 

" And shall I tell you something else? " 


"What?" she asked. 

He replied in a low, curt voice: 

" My fortune is made." 

His wife glared at him with the look which means, " Has 
this man suddenly gone made ? " 

He continued : 

" Thunder ! It's not so long since I was a parishioner of 
the parish of die-of-hunger-if-you-have-a-fire, and die-of-cold- 
if-you-have-bread ! I have had enough of misery, my share 
and other people's share! I am not joking now; I no longer 
consider this comical. I have had enough jokes, good God! 
I want no more farces, by the Eternal Father ! I want to eat 
when I am hungry, and drink when I am thirsty; to gorge, 
sleep, and do nothing. I want to have my turn now, before I 
kick the bucket ! I mean to be a bit of millionaire, I say ! " 

He walked up and down the room, and added : 

"Like the rest!" 

" What do you mean ? " asked his wife. 

He shook his head, winked, and raised his voice like a street 
quack about to make an exhibition. 

" What do I mean ? Listen ! " 

" Hush ! " said his wife, " not so loud, if it is business 
which ought not to be overhead." 

" Nonsense ! By whom ? By our neighbour ? I saw him 
go out just now. Besides, that long-legged idiot never lis- 
tens; and besides, I tell you I saw him go out." 

Still, by a sort of instinct, Jondrette lowered his voice, 
though not enough to prevent Marius from catching his re- 
marks. One favourable circumstance, which enabled Marius 
to hear every word of this conversation, was the fallen snow 
which deadened the sound of the vehicles on the boulevard. 

This is what Marius heard: 

" Listen carefully. The Crcesus is trapped, or as good as 
trapped. It is done, arranged, and I have seen the people. 
He will come at six this evening to bring the sixty francs, 
the old curmudgeon! Did you notice how I jawed him about 
my landlord, and my February 4 ? Why, that is not quarter- 


day, the ass! Well, he will come at six o'clock. That's the 
time our neighbor goes to dinner, and Mother Bougon is wash- 
ing up dishes in town, so there will be no one in the house. 
The neighbor never comes home before eleven. The little 
ones will be on the watch ; you will help us, and he will knuckle 

" And suppose he don't knuckle down ? " asked the wife. 

Jondrette made a sinister gesture, and said: 

" We will fix him." And he burst into a laugh. 

It was the first time that Marius had seen him laugh. His 
laugh was cold and quiet, and produced a shudder. 

Jondrette opened a cupboard near the fireplace, and took 
out an old cap, which he put on his head, after brushing it 
with his cuff. 

" Now," said he, " I'm going out. I have some more people 
to see, good ones. You will see how well it will work. I 
shall be away as short a time as possible, for it will be a fine 
stroke of business; and do you look after the house." 

And with his hands in his trousers-pockets, he stood 
thoughtfully for a moment, then suddenly exclaimed: 

" Do you know that it is very lucky, all the same, that he 
did not recognize me. If he had recognized me too, he would 
not have returned. He would have slipped through our fin- 
gers. It was my beard that saved us, my romantic beard, 
my pretty little romantic beard." 

And he laughed again. 

He went to the window. The snow was still falling and 
streaking the gray sky. 

" What filthy weather ! " he said. 

Then he buttoned up his coat. 

" The skin is too big, but no matter," he added. " It was 
devilish lucky that the old villain left it for me; for had he 
not, I could not have gone out, and the whole affair would 
have been spoiled. On what slight accidents things depend ! " 

And, pulling his cap over his eyes, he went out. 

He had gone only a few steps when the door opened again, 
and his savage, crafty face reappeared in the opening. 


" I forgot," he said ; " you must have a brazier of charcoal 

And he threw into his wife's apron the five-franc piece 
which the " philanthropist " had left with him. 

" How many bushels of charcoal ? " asked the wife. 

" Two, at least." 

" That will cost thirty sous. With the rest I will buy 
some grub." 

"Hang it! no." 


" Don't spend the five balls." 

"Why not?" 

" Because I have something to buy, too." 


" Something." 

" How much do you want ? " 

" Where is the nearest ironmonger's ? " 

" In the Rue Mouffetard." 

" Oh, yes ! At the corner of a street. I can see the 

" But tell me how much you want for what you have to 

" From fifty sous to three francs." 

" There won't be much left for dinner." 

" Don't bother about eating to-day ; there is something bet- 
ter to do." 

" That's enough, my jewel." 

At these words from his wife, Jondrette closed the door 
again, and Marius heard his steps vanish along the passage 
and down the stairs. 

It struck one at this moment from St. Medard's. 




MARIUS, dreamer though he was, possessed, as we have 
said, a firm and energetic nature. His habits of soli- 
tary contemplation, while developing compassion and sym- 
pathy within him, had perhaps diminished his power of being 
irritated, but left intact the power of becoming indignant. 
He had the benevolence of a Brahmin and the sternness of a 
judge; he pitied a toad, but he crushed a viper. 

Just now he had a nest of vipers before him, and he said: 
" I must set my foot upon these wretches." 

Not one of the enigmas which he hoped to see solved had 
been answered. On the contrary, all of them were rather 
denser; and he had learned no more about the pretty girl of 
the Luxembourg and the man whom he called M. Leblanc, save 
that Jondrette knew them. Through the mysterious words 
which had been uttered, he saw but one thing distinctly, that 
a snare was preparing, an obscure but terrible snare ; that 
they were both in imminent danger, she probably, and her 
father certainly, and that they must be saved. The hideous 
combinations of the Jondrettes must be foiled, and the web of 
those spiders destroyed. 

He watched the woman for a moment ; she had taken an old 
iron stove from a corner and was rummaging among the old 
scarps of iron. 

He got off the chest of drawers as quietly as he could, be- 
ing careful not to make any noise. 

In his terror at what was preparing, and in the horror with 
which the Jondrettes filled him, he felt a sort of joy at the 
idea that he might perhaps be allowed to render such a service 
to her whom he loved. 

But what was he to do? Should he warn the persons 


menaced? Where was he to find them? He did not know 
their address. They had reappeared to him momentarily, 
and then plunged again into the immense depths of Paris. 
Should he await M. Leblanc at the gate that evening at six, 
when he came, and warn him of the snare? But Jondrette 
and his comrades would see him on the watch. The place 
was deserted; they would be stronger than he; they would 
find means to seize him or to get him out of the way, and the 
man whom Marius wished to save would be lost. It had just 
struck one; and as the trap was to be sprung at six o'clock, 
Marius had five hours before him. 

There was only one thing to be done. 

He put on his best coat, tied a handkerchief round his neck, 
took his hat, and went out, making no more noise than if he 
were walking barefoot on moss; besides, the woman was still 
rummaging among the old iron. 

Once outside the house, he turned into the Rue du Petit 

He had almost reached the middle of this street near a 
very low wall, which may be stepped over in some places, and 
which abuts on unoccupied ground. He was walking slowly, 
deep in thought as he was, and the snow deadened the sound 
of his footsteps, when all at once he heard voices talking close 
by. He turned his head, but the street was deserted; there 
was no one there. It was broad daylight, and yet he dis- 
tinctly heard the voices. 

It occurred to him to look over the wall; and when he did 
so, he saw two men seated in the snow and conversing in a 
low voice, their backs to the wall. 

They were strangers to him. One was a bearded man in 
a blouse, and the other a hairy fellow in rags. The bearded 
man wore a Greek fez, while the other was bareheaded, and 
the snow lay on his hair. 

By thrusting his head out over them Marius could hear 
their talk. The hairy man said to the other, with a nudge : 

" With Patron-Minette to help, it cannot fail." 

" Do you think so ? " asked the bearded man. 


The hairy man added: 

" It's a soft 1 for five hundred balls for each ; and the 
worst that can happen is five years, six years, or ten at the 

The other replied with some hesitation, and shuddering un- 
der his Greek fez: 

" That is a stern fact ; and it's no use to go in search of 
such things." 

" I tell you that the affair cannot fail," replied the hairy 
man. " Father What's-his-name's go-cart will be harnessed 
and ready." 

Then they began to talk of a melodrama which they had 
seen on the previous evening at the Gaite. 

Marius walked on. 

It seemed to him that the mysterious remarks of these 
men, so strangely concealed behind that wall, and crouching 
in the snow, must have some connection with Jondrette's 
abominable schemes ; that must be the affair. 

He went toward the Faubourg St. Marceau, and asked at 
the first shop he came to where he could find a police com- 

He was told at No. 14, Rue de Pontoise; and he proceeded 

As he passed a baker's shop, he bought a two-sous roll and 
ate it, as he foresaw that he should not dine. 

On the way, he did Providence justice. He thought that if 
he had not given the five francs in the morning to the Jon- 
drette girl, he should have followed M. Leblanc's hackney 
coach, and consequently known nothing. There would then 
have been no obstacle to Jondrette's ambuscade, and M. Le- 
blanc would have been lost, and doubtless his daughter with 

*Soft, slang term for a bank-note. 





ON reaching No. 14, Rue de Pontoise, he went up to the 
first-floor, and asked for the commissioner. 

" He is not in," said a clerk, " but there is an inspector to 
represent him. Will you speak to him? Is your business 
pressing? " 

" Yes," said Marius. 

The clerk led him to the commissioner's office. A tall man 
stood behind a grating, leaning against the fender of a stove, 
and holding up with both hands the skirts of a mighty coat 
with three capes. He had a square face, thin, firm lips, very 
fierce, thick, grayish whiskers, and a look fit to turn your 
pockets inside out. Of this look you might have said, not 
that it pierced, but that it searched. 

This man did not appear much less ferocious or formidable 
than Jondrette; for sometimes it is just as alarming to meet 
a dog as a wolf. 

" What do you want ? " he asked Marius, without adding, 
" sir." 

" The police commissioner." 

" He is absent. I represent him." 

" It is a very secret matter." 

" Then speak." 

" And very urgent." 

" Then speak quick." 

This calm, abrupt man was at once terrifying and reas- 
suring. He inspired both fear and confidence. Marius told 
him of his adventure, that a person whom he knew only by 
sight was to be enticed that very evening into a trap ; that he, 
Marius Pontmercy, barrister, residing in the next room to 
the den, had heard the whole plot through the wall; that the 


scoundrel who invented the snare was one Jondrette; that he 
would have accomplices, probably prowlers at the barriers, 
among others one Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigre- 
naille ; that Jondrette's daughters would be on the watch ; that 
he had no way of warning the threatened man, as he did not 
even know his name; and that, lastly, all this would come off 
at six in the evening, at the most deserted spot on the Boule- 
vard de 1'Hopital, in house No. 5052. 

On hearing this number, the inspector raised his head and 
said coldly: 

" Then it is in the room at the end of the passage." 

" Exactly," Marius replied ; and added, " do you know the 
house? " 

The inspector was silent for a moment, then answered, as 
he warmed his boot-heel at the door of the stove: 

" Apparently." 

He went on, between his teeth, talking less to Marius than 
to his cravat : 

" Patron-Minette must be mixed up in this." 

That word struck Marius. 

" Patron-Minette ! " he said ; " yes, I did hear that name 

And he told the inspector of the dialogue between the hairy 
man and the bearded man, in the snow, behind the wall in Rue 
du Petit Banquier. The inspector growled: 

" The hairy man must be Brujon, and the bearded man, 
Demi-Liar d, alias Two Milliards." 

He was again looking down and meditating. " As for 
Father What's-his-name, I can guess who he is. There, I 
have burned my coat ; they always make too much fire in these 
cursed stoves. No. 50-52, formerly the property of one Gor- 

Then he looked at Marius. 

" You only saw the hairy man and the bearded man? " 

"And Panchaud." 

" You did not see a small devil of a dandy prowling about 


" No." 

" Nor a heavy lump of a fellow, who looked like the ele- 
phant in the Jardin des Plantes? " 

" No." 

" Nor a scamp who looks like an old red tail? " 

" No." 

"As for the fourth, no one sees him, not even his pals, 
chums, and assistants. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
you did not see him." 

" No. Who are all these men? " asked Marius. 

The inspector continued: 

" Besides, it is not their time of day." He fell into silence, 
and presently added : " 50-52. I know the old ark ! Im- 
possible for us to hide inside without the actors seeing us, 
and then they would escape by merely putting off the farce. 
They are so modest! an audience alarms them. That won't 
do, that won't do. I want to hear them sing and make them 

This soliloquy ended, he turned to Marius, and asked, as he 
looked at him searchingly: 

" Would you be afraid? " 

" Of what ? " asked Marius. 

" Of those men." 

" No more than I am of you," Marius answered roughly, 
for he was beginning to notice that this policeman had not yet 
said " sir " to him. 

The inspector looked at Marius more intently still, and 
continued, with a sort of sententious solemnity : 

" You speak like a brave man and like an honest man. 
Courage does not fear crime, nor honesty the authorities." 

Marius interrupted him. 

" That is all very well, but what do you intend doing? " 

The inspector restricted himself to saying : 

" The lodgers in that house have latch-keys to let them- 
selves in at night. You have one? " 

" Yes," said Marius. 

" Have you it about you ? " 


" Yes." 

" Give it to me," said the inspector. 

Marius took the key out of his waist-coat pocket, handed 
it to the inspector, and added : 

" If you take my advice, you will bring a strong force." 

The inspector gave Marius such a glance as Voltaire might 
have given a provincial academician who suggested a rhyme 
to him; then he thrust both hands into his immense coat- 
pockets and produced two small steel pistols, of the sort called 
" knock-me-downs." He handed them to Marius, saying 
sharply and curtly: 

" Take these. Go home. Conceal yourself in your room, 
and let them suppose you out. They are loaded; each with 
two bullets. You will watch, as you tell me there is a hole 
in the wall. Those fellows will come; let them go on a little. 
When you think the matter is ripe, and that it is time to stop 
it, fire a pistol; but not too soon. The rest concerns me. A 
shot in the air, in the ceiling, I don't care where, but mind, 
not too soon. Wait till they begin to put on the screw. You 
are a lawyer, you know what that means." 

Marius took the pistols, and placed them in a side pocket of 
his coat. 

" They bulge and attract attention," said the inspector ; 
" put them in your trousers-pockets." 

Marius did so. 

" And now," continued the inspector, " there is not a mo- 
ment for any one to lose. What o'clock is it? Half -past 
two. You said seven ? " 

" Six o'clock," Marius corrected. 

" Time enough," said the inspector ; " but only just time. 
Do not forget anything I have said to you. Bang! A pis- 

" All right," replied Marius. 

And as he put his hand on the iatch to leave the room, the 
inspector shouted to him: 

" By the way, if you should want me between this and 
then, come or send here. Ask for Inspector Javert." 




SOME minutes later, about three o'clock, Courfeyrac hap- 
pened to pass along the Rue Mouffetard, accompanied 
by Bossuet. The snow was thicker than ever, and filled the 
air. Bossuet had just said to Courfeyrac: 

" To see all these snow-flakes, you would say that there was 
a plague of white butterflies in heaven." 

All at once Bossuet caught sight of Marius coming up the 
street toward the barrier, with a peculiar look. 

" Hullo ! " said Bossuet ; " there's Marius." 

" I saw him," said Courfeyrac ; " but we won't speak to 

"Why not?" 

" He is busy." 

" At what?" 

" Do you not see that he looks as if he were following some 

" That is true," said Bossuet. 

" Only see what eyes he makes ! " Courfeyrac added. 

" But who the deuce is he following? " 

" Some Mimi-Goton with flowers in her bonnet. He is in 

" But," Bossuet observed, " I do not see any Mimi or any 
Goton, or any bonnet trimmed with flowers in the street. 
There is not a woman in sight." 

Courfeyrac looked, and exclaimed : " He is following a 
man ! " 

A man wearing a cap, and whose gray beard could be seen, 
although his back was turned, was walking about twenty yards 
ahead of Marius. 

The man was dressed in a coat which was perfectly new, 


and too large for him, and a frightful pair of ragged trou- 
sers, all black with mud. 

Bossuet burst into a laugh. 

" Who can that man be? " 

" That man ? " replied Courf eyrac. " Oh, he is a poet. 
Poets are given to wearing the trousers of old-clothes men and 
the coats of peers of France." 

" Let us see where Marius is going," said Bossuet, 
" and where this man is going. Suppose we follow them, 

" Bossuet ! " exclaimed Courf eyrac, " Eagle of Meaux, you 
are a regular brute. Follow a man who is following another 
man, indeed ! " 

They turned back. 

Marius had really seen Jondrette in the Rue Mouffetard, 
and was spying his movements. 

Jondrette went straight on, not at all suspecting that an 
eye was already upon him. 

He left the Rue Mouffetard, and Marius saw him enter one 
of the most hideous lodging-houses in the Rue Gracieuse, 
where he remained for about a quarter of an hour, and then 
returned to the Rue Mouffetard. He stopped at an iron- 
monger's shop, on the corner of the Rue Pierre-Lombard; 
and a few minutes after, Marius saw him come out of the 
shop, with a large cold-chisel set in a white-wood handle, 
which he hid under his coat. He then turned to his left and 
hurried toward the Rue du Petit Banquier. Day was draw- 
ing in; the snow, which had ceased for a moment, had begun 
again; Marius concealed himself at the corner of the Rue 
du Petit Banquier, which was deserted as usual, and did not 
follow Jondrette. It was lucky that he did so; for Jon- 
.drette, on reaching the spot where Marius had listened to the 
conversation of the hairy man and the bearded man, looked 
round, made sure that he was not followed, clambered over 
the wall, and disappeared. 

The waste ground enclosed by this wall communicated with 
the backyard of a livery-stable keeper of bad repute, who had 


failed in business, but still had a few vehicles standing un- 
der sheds. 

Marius thought it would be as well to take advantage of 
Jondrette's absence and return home. Besides, time was slip- 
ping away, and every evening, Ma'am Bougon when she went 
to wash up dishes in town, had a habit of closing the door, 
which was always locked at dusk; and as Marius had given 
his latch-key to the inspector, it was important that he should 
be in time. 

Night had closed in along the whole horizon, and in the 
whole immensity there was but one point still illumined by 
the sun, and that was the moon, which was rising red behind 
the low dome of the Salpetriere. 

Marius hurried back to No. 5052. The door was still 
open when he arrived. He went up the stairs on tiptoe, and 
glided along the passage-way to his room. This passage, 
it will be remembered, was bordered on either side by rooms 
which were now empty and to let. Ma'am Bougon, as a gen- 
eral rule, left the doors open. As he passed one of these 
doors, Marius fancied that he saw in an uninhabited room the 
heads of four motionless men, vaguely lit up by a remnant 
of daylight which fell through a dormer window. Marius 
did not attempt to see them, as he did not wish to be seen 
himself. He succeeded in re-entering his room noiselessly and 
unseen. It was high time. A moment later he heard Ma'am 
Bougon go out, and the house-door shut behind her. 



MARIUS sat down on his bed. It might be about half- 
past five. Only half an hour separated him from 
what was about to happen. He heard his pulses beat as you 
hear the tick of a clock in the darkness. He thought of the 


double march which was taking place at that moment in the 
shadows, crime advancing on one side, and justice coming 
up on the other. He was not frightened, but he could not 
think without a certain tremor of the things that were about 
to happen. Like all those who are suddenly assailed by a 
surprising adventure, the whole day produced on him the 
effect of a dream, and that he might not believe himself the 
prey of a nightmare, he was obliged to feel the cold barrels 
of the pistols in his pockets. 

It no longer snowed. The moon, now very bright, came 
out of the clouds; and its beams, mingled with the white re- 
flection from the fallen snow, imparted a twilight appearance 
to the room. 

There was a light in Jondrette's den, and Marius saw the 
hole in the party-wall glow with a ruddy brilliancy that 
seemed to him the colour of blood. 

It was evident that this light could not be produced by a 
candle. There was no movement in the den, no one was stir- 
ring, no one spoke; there was not a breath. The silence was 
chilling and profound, and had it not been for the light, 
Marius might have fancied himself next door to a grave. 

He softly took off his boots and thrust them under the 

Several minutes elapsed, and then Marius heard the house 
door creak on its hinges; a heavy, rapid step ran up the 
stairs and along the passage ; the hasp of the door was noisily 
raised, it was Jondrette returning home. 

All at once several voices were raised, and it was plain that 
the whole family were at home. They were merely silent in 
the master's absence, like young wolves in the absence of the 
father wolf. 

" It is I," he said. 

" Good-evening, pappy," yelped the girls. 

"Well?" asked the wife. 

" All is well," answered Jondrette ; " but my feet are beastly 
cold. That's right; I am glad to see that you are dressed. 
You must inspire confidence." 


" All ready to go out." 

" You will not forget anything that I told you ? You 
will do everything all right." 

" Of course." 

" Because " Jondrette began, but did not complete the 

Marius heard him lay something heavy on the table, prob- 
ably the chisel which he had bought. 

" Well," continued Jondrette, " have you been eating 

" Yes," said the mother ; " I bought three large potatoes 
and some salt. I took advantage of the fire to roast them." 

" Good ! " remarked Jondrette ; " to-morrow you shall dine 
with me. We will have a duck and trimmings. You shall 
feed like Charles the Tenth ; ah 1 goes well ! " 

Then he added, lowering his voice : 

" The mouse-trap is open. The cats are here." 

He again lowered his voice and said : 

" Put this in the fire." 

Marius heard the clink of charcoal, stirred with a pair of 
tongs or some iron instrument, and Jondrette asked : 

" Have you greased the hinges of the door, so that they 
may make no noise? " 

" Yes," answered the mother. 

"What o'clock is it?" 

" Close on six. It has struck the half-hour at St. Medard." 

" The devil ! " said Jondrette ; " the girls must go on the 
watch. Come here and listen to me." 

There was a whispering. Then Jondrette's voice was again 
uplifted : 

" Has Ma'am Bougon gone? " 

" Yes," answered the mother. 

" Are you sure there is nobody in the neighbour's room ? " 

" He has not come in all day, and you know very well that 
this is his dinner hour." 

" Are you sure? " 

" Quite.* 


" No matter," added Jondrette ; " there is no harm in go- 
ing to see whether he is in. Daughter, take the candle and 

Marius fell on his hands and knees, and silently crawled 
under the bed. 

He had scarcely done so when he saw a light through the 
cracks of his door. 

" Papa ! " exclaimed a voice, " he is out." 

He recognized the elder girl's voice. 

" Did you go into the room ? " asked the father. 

" No," replied the girl ; " but as his key is in his door he 
must have gone out." 

The father shouted : 

"Go in, all the same!" 

The door opened, and Marius saw the girl enter, candle in 
hand. She was the same as in the morning, save that she 
was even more fearful in this light. 

She walked straight up to the bed, and Marius suffered a 
moment of intense anxiety; but there was a looking-glass 
hanging from a nail near the bed, and it was to that she 
proceeded. She stood on tiptoe and looked at herself ; a clat- 
ter of iron was heard in the other room. 

She smoothed her hair with her hand, and smiled into the 
glass, singing, in her cracked and sepulchral voice: 

" A week our love has lasted ; 
How soon our happiness is blasted! 
To love a week will hardly pay; 
Love should last forever and a day! 
Forever and a day ! forever and a day ! " 

Still Marius trembled, for he thought that she could not 
help hearing his breathing. 

She walked to the window and looked out, saying aloud, 
with her half-foolish look : 

" How ugly Paris is when it has put on a white shirt ! " 

She returned to the glass, and began to grimace, studying 
herself, first full face, and then three quarters. 

" Well ! " cried her father, " what are you doing there ? " 


" I am looking under the bed and the furniture," she re- 
plied, continuing to smooth her hair ; " but there is nobody 

" You booby ! " yelled her father. " Come here directly, 
and lose no time about it ! " 

" Coming, coming ! " said she. " There's no time for any- 
thing in this hole ! " 

Then she hummed : 

"To glory you hasten, you leave me to pine; 
On your steps will e'er follow this sad heart of mine ! " 

She cast a parting glance at the glass and went off, clos- 
ing the door after her. 

A moment later, Marius heard the sound of the two girls' 
naked feet pattering along the passage, and Jondrette's voice 
shouting to them : 

" Pay attention ! one at the barrier, and the other at the 
corner of the Rue du Petit Banquier! Do not take your 
eyes off the door of this house for an instant ; and if you see 
the slightest thing, rush back here at once as fast as you 
can come. You have a key to let yourselves in." 

The elder daughter grumbled : 

" To stand sentry barefoot in the snow, what a treat ! " 

" To-morrow you shall have bronze silk boots," said the 

They went downstairs, and a few seconds later the sound 
of the door, as it closed below, announced that they had 
reached the street. 

The only persons in the house now were Marius, the Jon- 
drettes, and probably, too, the mysterious beings of whom 
Marius had caught a glimpse in the twilight, behind the door 
of the unoccupied room. 




MARIUS decided that the moment had come for him to 
return to his observatory. In a second, and with the 
agility of his age, he was at the hole in the partition, and 
peeped through. 

The interior of Jondrette's lodging presented a strange 
appearance, and Marius was able to account for the peculiar 
light he had noticed. A candle was burning in a verdigrised 
candlestick; but it was not this which really illumined the 
room : the whole den was lit up by the ruddy glow of a brazier 
standing in the fireplace, and filled with burning charcoal. 
It was the brazier which the wife had prepared in the morn- 
ing. The charcoal glowed, the brazier was red-hot, bluish 
flames played round it and rendered it easy to recognize the 
shape of the chisel purchased by Jondrette, which was heat- 
ing in the brazier. In one corner, near the door, were two 
heaps, one apparently of old iron ; the other of ropes, ar- 
ranged for some definite purpose. All this, to a person who 
did not know what was about to occur, would have made his 
mind waver between a very simple and a very sinister idea. 
The room, thus lit up, resembled a forge rather than a mouth 
of hell; but Jondrette, in that light, was more like a demon 
than a blacksmith. 

The heat of the brazier was so great that the candle on 
the table was melting and guttering on the side turned to- 
ward it. An old copper dark lantern, worthy of a Diogenes 
turned Cartouche, stood on the mantelpiece. 

The brazier, placed directly in the fireplace, close to the 
smouldering logs, sent its smoke up the chimney, and thus 
produced no smell. 

The moon, which found its way through the skylight, 
poured its whiteness into the crimson, flaming garret; and to 


the poetic mind of Marius, who was a dreamer even in the 
moment of action, it was like a thought of heaven mingled 
with the shapeless dreams of earth. 

A breath of air which entered through the broken pane 
also helped to dissipate the smell of charcoal and to conceal 
the presence of the brazier. 

Jondrette's den, if our readers remember what we have 
said of the house, was admirably fitted to serve as the scene 
of a violent and dark deed, and as a covert for crime. It 
was the most remote room in the most solitary house on the 
most deserted boulevard in Paris. If ambushes had not ex- 
isted, they would have been invented there. 

The whole length of a house and a number of uninhabited 
rooms separated this lair from the boulevard, and the only 
window in it looked out on fields enclosed by walls and board- 

Jondrette had lit his pipe, seated himself on the bottomless 
chair, and was smoking. His wife was talking to him in a 
low voice. 

If Marius had been Courfeyrac, that is to say, one of 
those men who laugh at every opportunity, he would have 
burst into a roar when his eye fell on Mother Jondrette. She 
had on a black bonnet with feathers, something like the hats 
worn by the heralds at the coronation of Charles X., an im- 
mense tartan shawl over her knit skirt, and the man's shoes 
which her daughter had disdained in the morning. It was 
this attire which drew from Jondrette the exclamation: 
" That's right ; I am glad to see that you are dressed. You 
must inspire confidence." 

As for Jondrette, he had not taken off the new coat which 
M. Leblanc had given him, and his dress continued to offer 
that contrast between trousers and coat which constituted in 
Courfeyrac's sight the ideal of a poet. 

All at once, Jondrette raised his voice. 

" By the way ! now that I think of it. In such weather as 
this, he will come in a hackney coach. Light your lantern, 
take it, and go down. Keep behind the front door. The 


moment you hear the vehicle stop, you will open the door at 
once, light him upstairs and along the passage; and when he 
has come in here, you will go down as quickly as you can, pay 
the coachman, and discharge him." 

" Where's the money to come from ? " asked the woman. 

Jondrette felt in his trousers-pocket, and gave her five 

" What is this ? " she exclaimed. 

He replied with dignity : 

" The monarch which our neighbour gave us this morn- 
ing," and he added : 

" We shall want two chairs, though." 

"What for?" 

" Why, to sit on." 

Marius shuddered as he heard the woman make the quiet 
answer : 

" Well, I will go and fetch our neighbour's." 

And with a rapid movement she opened the door and 
stepped into the passage. 

Marius absolutely had not the time to get off the drawers, 
reach the bed and hide under it. 

" Take the candle," shouted Jondrette. 

" No," said she, " it would bother me ; I have the two 
chairs to carry. Besides, the moon is shining." 

Marius heard the heavy hand of Mother Jondrette, fum- 
bling with his key in the darkness. The door opened, and 
he remained nailed to his post by alarm and stupor. 

The woman came in. 

Through the dormer window fell a moonbeam between two 
large patches of shadow, and one of these patches, entirely 
covered the wall against which Marius leaned, so that he was 

Mother Jondrette raised her eyes, did not see Marius, 
took the two chairs (the only two that Marius possessed), 
and went off noisily, slamming the door behind her. 

She re-entered the den. 

" Here are the two chairs.** 


" And here is the lantern," said her husband ; " make haste 

She obeyed quickly, and Jondrette remained alone. 

He placed the chairs on either side of the table, turned 
the chisel in the brazier, placed in front of the fireplace an 
old screen, which concealed the charcoal-pan, and then went to 
the corner where the heap of rope lay, and stooped as if ex- 
amining something. Marius then perceived that what he had 
taken for a shapeless mass, was a rope ladder, very well 
made, with wooden rungs, and two hooks to hang it by. 

This ladder and a few large tools, regular crowbars, which 
were mingled with the heap of old iron behind the door, had 
not been there in the morning, and had evidently been brought 
in the afternoon, during the absence of Marius. 

" They are smith's tools," thought Marius. 

Had he been a little better acquainted with the trade, he 
would have recognized in what he took for tools, certain in- 
struments for forcing or picking locks and others for cutting 
or slicing, the two families of ill-omened tools known to 
burglars as " jemmys " and " scissors." 

The fireplace, the table, and the two chairs were exactly 
opposite Marius. As the charcoal-pan was concealed, the 
room was only lighted by the candle. The smallest bit of 
crockery on the table or on the chimney-piece cast a long 
shadow; a cracked water- jug hid half a wall. There was a 
hideous and menacing calm about the room; one felt that 
something awful was at hand. 

Jondrette had let his pipe go out, a sign of deep thought, 
and had just sat down again. The candle made the fierce 
crafty lines of his face stand out in bold relief; he frowned, 
and suddenly thrust out his right hand, as if in answer to 
the final counsels of a dark inward soliloquy. In one of the 
obscure replies which he made to himself, he opened the 
table drawer, took out a long carving-knife hidden there, 
and felt its edge with his thumb-nail. This done, he put the 
knife back in the drawer, and closed it. 

Marius, on his side, grasped the pistol in his right hand 


pocket, drew it out and cocked it. As he did so, the pistol 
gave a sharp, quick click. 

Jondrette started, and half rose from his chair. 

" Who's there? " he shouted. 

Marius held his breath. Jondrette listened for a moment, 
and then said, laughingly : 

" What an ass I am ! It was only the wall cracking." 

Marius kept the pistol in his hand. 



SUDDENLY, the distant and melancholy vibration of a 
bell shook the window-panes; six o'clock was striking 
at St. Medard's. 

Jondrette marked each stroke with a toss of his head; and 
when he had counted the sixth, he snuffed the candle with 
his fingers. 

Then he began to pace up and down the room, listened in 
the passage-way, began to walk again, and then listened 
once more. 

" Provided he comes," he growled, and then returned to 
his chair. 

He was hardly seated when the door opened. 

Mother Jondrette had opened it, and remained in the pas- 
sage making a horrible grimace, which one of the 'holes in 
the dark lantern lit up from below. 

" Step in, sir," said she. 

" Enter, my benefactor ! " repeated Jondrette, as he hur- 
riedly rose. 

M. Leblanc appeared. He had a serene look, which ren- 
dered him singularly venerable. 


He laid four louis on the table. 

" Monsieur Fabantou, here is the money for your rent, 
and your first necessities. After that, we will see." 

" May heaven repay, you, my generous benefactor ! " said 

Then rapidly approaching his wife : 

" Dismiss the hackney coach." 

She slipped away, while the husband lavished bows and 
offered a chair to M. Leblanc. A moment later, she returned 
and whispered in his ear : 

" All right." 

The snow which had not ceased falling since morning, was 
now so thick that neither the arrival nor the departure of 
the cab had been heard. 

M. Leblanc had seated himself, and Jondrette now took 
possession of the chair opposite to him. 

And now the reader, in order to form an idea of the scene 
which is about to be enacted, will kindly imagine the freez- 
ing night, the solitudes of the Salpetriere, covered with snow 
and white as an immense winding-sheet in the moonlight, the 
street lamps throwing a red glow here and there over the 
tragic boulevards and the long rows of black elms, not a 
passer-by for a quarter of a league round, and the Gorbeau 
House at its highest pitch of silence, horror, and night. In 
that house, amid that solitude and darkness, Jondrette's spa- 
cious garret, lit by a single candle, and in that den two men 
sitting at a table, M. Leblanc calm, Jondrette smiling and 
terrible; Mother Jondrette, the she-wolf, in a corner; and 
behind the party-wall, Marius, invisible, upright, losing not 
a word or a movement, his eye on the watch and pistols in 

Marius, however, felt an emotion of horror only, no fear; 
he clutched the pistol and was reassured. " I can stop the 
scoundrel whenever I like," he thought. 

He knew that the police were somewhere in ambush, wait- 
ing for the appointed signal, and ready to stretch out their 


Moreover, he hoped that this violent encounter between 
Jondrette and M. Leblanc might throw some light on all 
that he had an interest in knowing. 



M LEBLANC was no sooner seated than he turned his 
. eyes to the beds, which were empty. 

" How is the poor little wounded girl ? " he asked. 

" Very bad," replied Jondrette, with a heart-broken and 
grateful smile. " Very bad, my good sir. Her elder sister 
has taken her to La Bourbe to have her hand dressed. But 
you will see them; they will return immediately." 

" Madame Fabantou looks better," continued M. Leblanc, 
glancing at the strange garb of Mother Jondrette, who, 
standing between him and the door, as if already guarding 
the outlet, looked at him in a menacing and almost combative 

" She is dying," said Jondrette ; " but what would you 
have, sir? That woman has so much courage. She is not 
a woman, she's an ox." 

Mother Jondrette, touched by the compliment, protested 
with the airs of a flattered monster : 

" You are always too kind to me, Monsieur Jondrette." 

" Jondrette ? " said M. Leblanc ; " why, I thought your 
name was Fabantou." 

" Fabantou, alias Jondrette," quickly replied the husband, 
" a professional name." 

And giving his wife a shrug of the shoulders, which M. 
Leblanc did not see, he continued with an emphatic and 
caressing inflection of voice : 

" Ah ! that poor dear and I have ever lived happily together. 


What would be left us if we had not that! We are so 
wretched, respectable sir. We have strong arms, but no work, 
willing hearts, but no work. I do not know how the Govern- 
ment manage it, on my word of honour, sir, I am no Jacobin ; 
I am no lush-crib. 1 I wish them no harm ; but if I were the 
ministers, on my most sacred word, things would go differ- 
ently. For instance, I wanted my daughters to learn the 
paper-box trade. You will say, ' What ! a trade ? ' Yes, a 
trade, a mere trade, a livelihood. What a fall, my bene- 
factor! What degradation, after one has been in such cir- 
cumstances as we were ; but alas ! nothing is left us from our 
prosperous days. Nothing but one thing, a picture, to 
which I cling, but which I am ready to part with; for we 
must live." 

As Jondrette said this with a sort of apparent incoherence, 
which did not in any way detract from the thoughtful and 
sagacious expression of his face, Marius raised his eyes and 
saw some one at the back of the room, whom he had not 
seen before. A man had just entered, but so softly that the 
hinges did not creak. This man had on an old worn-out, 
torn, stained, knitted, violet jacket, gaping at every seam, 
loose velveteen trousers, list slippers on his feet, and no shirt; 
his neck was bare, his tattooed arms were bare, and his face 
was daubed with black. He seated himself silently, with 
folded arms, on the nearest bed ; and as he was behind Mother 
Jondrette, he could be but indistinctly seen. 

That sort of magnetic instinct which warns the eye caused 
M. Leblanc to turn almost at the same moment as Marius. 
He could not suppress a start of surprise, which Jondrette 

" Ah, I see," exclaimed Jondrette, as he buttoned his coat 
complacently, " you are looking at your overcoat? It fits 
me, really fits me capitally." 

" Who is that man ? " asked M. Leblanc. 

" That ? " said Jondrette ; " oh, a neighbour. Pay no at- 
tention to him." 

* Term of contempt applied to Republicans in 1848. 


The neighbour looked singular; but chemical factories 
abound in the Faubourg St. Marceau, and a workman may 
easily have a black face. 

M. Leblanc's whole person breathed candid and intrepid 
confidence. He continued : 

" I beg your pardon, but what were you saying, M. 

" I was saying, sir, and dear protector," replied Jondrette, 
placing his elbows on the table and gazing at M. Leblanc 
with fixed and tender eyes, very like those of a boa-constrictor, 
" I was saying that I had a picture to sell." 

There was a slight noise at the door; a second man en- 
tered, and seated himself on the bed, behind Mother Jon- 

Like the first, he had bare arms and a mask, either of ink 
or soot. 

Though this man literally glided into the room he could 
not prevent M. Leblanc from noticing him. 

" Take no heed," said Jondrette ; " they are men who live 
in the house. I was saying that I had a valuable picture left. 
Look here, sir." 

He rose, went to the wall, against which the panel to which 
we have already referred was leaning, and turned it round, 
still letting it rest against the wall. It was really something 
resembling a picture, which the candle almost illumined. 
Marius could distinguish nothing, as Jondrette stood be- 
tween him and the picture, but he merely caught a glimpse 
of a coarse daub, and a sort of principal personage smeared 
in with the bold crudity of a showman's pictures or a sign- 

"What is that?" asked M. Leblanc. 

Jondrette exclaimed : 

" A masterpiece, a most valuable picture, my benefactor. 
I am as much attached to it as I am to my daughters, for 
it recalls dear memories ; but, as I told you, and I will not go 
back from my word, I am willing to dispose of it, as we are 
so poor," 


Either by accident, or from some vague feeling of un- 
easiness, M. Leblanc's eye, while examining the picture, re- 
turned to the end of the room. 

There were now four men, three seated on the bed and one 
leaning against the door-post, but all four bare-armed, mo- 
tionless, and with blackened faces. One of those on the bed 
was leaning against the wall, with closed eyes, and apparently 
asleep; he was old, and the white hair against the blackened 
face produced a horrible effect. The other two were young ; 
one was hairy, the other bearded. Not a single one had 
shoes ; those who did not wear list slippers were barefooted. 

Jondrette observed that M. Leblanc's eyes rested on these 

" They are friends, neighbours," he said ; " their faces are 
black because they work in charcoal. They are smoke-doc- 
tors. 1 Don't mind them, sir, but buy my picture. Have 
pity on my misery. I will not ask much for it. How much 
do you think it is worth? " 

" Well," said M. Leblanc, looking Jondrette full in the 
face, like a man on his guard, " it is some pot-house sign, 
and worth about three francs." 

Jondrette replied gently : 

" Have you your pocket-book about you? I shall be sat- 
isfied with a thousand crowns." 

M. Leblanc rose, set his back against the wall, and took 
a hurried glance round the room. He had Jondrette on his 
left by the window, and on his right, the woman and the 
four men by the door. The four men did not stir, and did 
not even appear to see him. 

Jondrette began to talk again in a plaintive tone and with 
such a wandering eye that M. Leblanc might fairly believe 
that he had before him simply a man driven mad by misery. 

" If you do not buy my picture, dear benefactor," said 
Jondrette, " I have no resource remaining ; and nothing is left 
me but to throw myself into the river. When I think that 
I wanted my, two daughters to learn how to make paper 

i Chimney-sweeps. 


boxes for New- Year's gifts. Well, for that you Eeed a table 
with a backboard to prevent the glasses from falling off, a 
special kind of stove, a pot with three compartments for the 
different degrees of strength of the glue, according as it is 
used for wood, paper, or cloth ; a knife to cut the pasteboard, 
a mould to adjust it, a hammer, a pair of pincers, and the 
deuce knows what. And all that to earn four sous a day! 
and you must work fourteen hours! and every box passes 
thirteen times through the hands of the work-girl! and no 
moistening the paper ! and no spoiling anything ! and keeping 
the glue hot! the devil! I tell you, four sous a day! How 
do you expect us to live ? " 

As he spoke, Jondrette did not look at M. Leblanc, who 
was watching him. M. Leblanc's eye was fixed on Jondrette, 
and Jondrette's on the door, while Marius's breathless atten- 
tion went from one to the other. M. Leblanc seemed to be 
asking himself, " Is he a lunatic ? " and Jondrette repeated 
twice or thrice, with all sorts of varied inflections in the sup- 
pliant style : " All that is left me is to throw myself into the 
river! The other day I went down three steps at the side 
of the bridge of Austerlitz on purpose." 

All at once his dull eyes glistened with a hideous light; 
the little man drew himself up and became frightful. He 
took a step toward M. Leblanc and shouted in a voice of thun- 

" That is not the point! Do you recognize me? " 



attic door was flung open, and revealed three men in 
X blue linen blouses and wearing masks of black paper. 
The first was thin, and carried a long iron-shod cudgel; the 
second, who was a sort of colossus, carried by the middle, with 


the blade down, a pole-axe such as butchers use to slaughter 
cattle. The third, a broad-shouldered fellow, not so thin as 
the first, but not so stout as the second, was armed with an 
enormous key stolen from some prison gate. 

It seemed as if Jondrette had been awaiting the arrival 
of these men. A hurried conversation took place between 
him and the man with the cudgel, the thin one. 

" Is everything ready ? " asked Jondrette. 

" Yes," replied the thin man. 

" Where is Montparnasse? " 

" He stopped to talk with your eldest daughter." 

" Is there a cab below ? " 

" Yes." 

" Is the wagon ready harnessed? " 

" Yes." 

" With two good horses? " 

" Excellent." 

" Is it waiting where I ordered? " 

" Yes." 

" All right," said Jondrette. 

M. Leblanc was very pale. He looked all round the room 
like a man who understands into what a snare he has fallen, 
and his head, turned toward all the heads that surrounded 
him, moved on his shoulders with an attentive and ^urprised 
slowness; but there was nothing in his appearance that re- 
sembled fear. He had formed an improvised bulwark of the 
table; and this man, who a moment before merely looked like 
a good old man, had suddenly become an athlete, and laid his 
sturdy fist on the back of his chair with a terrible and sur- 
prising gesture. 

This old man, so firm and brave in the presence of such 
danger, seemed to possess one of those natures which are 
courageous as they are good, easily and simply. The 
father of a woman we love is never a stranger to us, and 
Marius felt proud of this unknown man. 

Three of the men whom Jondrette called " smoke-doctors " 
had taken from the mass of iron, one a large chisel, another 


a pair of heavy pincers, and the third a hammer, and posted 
themselves in the doorway, without saying a word. The old 
man remained on the bed, merely opening his eyes; and 
Mother Jondrette was sitting by his side. 

Marius thought that the moment for interference had come, 
and raised his right hand to the ceiling, in the direction of 
the passage, ready to fire his pistol. Jondrette, having fin- 
ished his colloquy with the three men, again turned to M. 
Leblanc, and repeated his question, with that low, restrained, 
and terrible laugh of his : 

" Do you not recognize me ? " 

M. Leblanc looked him in the face and answered : 

" No." 

Jondrette then went up to the table. He bent over the 
candle with folded arms, and placed his angular and ferocious 
jaw as close as he could to M. Leblanc's placid face, advanc- 
ing as far as he could, without forcing M. Leblanc to re- 
treat; and in this posture of a wild beast about to bite he 
exclaimed : 

" My name is not Fabantou, my name is not Jondrette ; my 
name is Thenardier. I am the landlord of the inn at Mont- 
fermeil! Do you hear me? Thenardier! Now do you 
recognize me? " 

An almost imperceptible flush shot athwart M. Leblanc's 
brow, and he answered, with his usual placidity, and without 
the slightest tremor in his voice : 

" No more than before." 

Marius did not hear this answer. Any one who had seen 
him at that moment in the darkness would have seen that he 
was haggard, stunned, and bewildered. When Jondrette said, 
" My name is Thenardier," Marius trembled in every limb, 
and leaned against the wall, as if a cold sword-blade had been 
thrust through his heart. Then his right hand, raised in 
readiness to fire, dropped slowly; and when Jondrette re- 
peated, " Do you hear me ? Thenardier ! " Marius's relaxing 
fingers almost let the pistol fall. Jondrette, by revealing his 
true name, did not affect M. Leblanc, but he stunned Marius ; 

"My name is not Fabanton, my name is not Jondrette; my name is 
The'nardier. I am the landlord of the inn at Montfermeil." 

Let Miserable*. Mariut: Page 244. 


for he knew that name of Thenardier, which was apparently 
unknown to M. Leblanc. Only remember what that name 
meant to him ! He had carried it in his heart ; it was recorded 
in his father's will! He bore it in his innermost thoughts, 
in the deepest shrine of his memory, in the sacred injunction, 
" A man of the name of Thenardier saved my life ; if my 
son meet this man, let him do all he can for him." This 
name, it will be remembered, was one of the pieties of his soul, 
and he mingled it with his father's name in his prayers. 
What! This man was Thenardier, the landlord of Montfer- 
meil, whom he had so long and so vainly sought! He had 
found him at last, and how? His father's saviour was a 
bandit! The man to whom Marius burned to devote his life 
was a monster! The liberator of Colonel Pontmercy was on 
the point of committing a crime, whose scope Marius did not 
yet fully comprehend, but which resembled an assassination! 
And of whom? Great heavens, what a fatality, what a bitter 
mockery of fate! His father commanded him from his tomb 
to do all in his power for Thenardier. For four years 
Marius had had no other idea but to pay this debt of his 
father's ; and at the very moment that he was about to deliver 
over to justice a brigand caught in the act of crime, destiny 
cried out : " It is Thenardier ! " He was at length about 
to requite this man for saving his father's life, amid a hail- 
fitorm of grape-shot, on the heroic field of Waterloo by send- 
ing him to the scaffold ! He had vowed that, if ever he found 
this Thenardier, he would throw himself at his feet; and 
he had found him indeed, but only to hand him over to the 
executioner ! His father said to him, " Help Thenardier : " 
and he was about to answer that adored and sacred voice by 
crushing Thenardier! To offer his father in his grave the 
spectacle of the man who had dragged him from death, at the 
peril of his own life, executed on the Place St. Jacques, by 
the agency of his son, that Marius to whom he bequeathed 
that man! And then, what a mockery it was to have so long 
worn on his heart the last wishes of his father, only to do 
exactly the contrary ! But, on the other hand, how could he 


look on at murder, and not prevent it? What ! should he con- 
demn the victim and spare the assassin? Could he be bound 
by any ties of gratitude to such a villain? All the ideas 
which Marius had cherished for four years were, as it were, 
pierced through and through by this unexpected stroke. 

He trembled. Everything depended on him. He held in 
his hands the unconscious beings who were moving before his 
eyes. If he fired the pistol, M. Leblanc was saved and 
Thenardier lost. If he did not fire, M. Leblanc would be 
sacrificed and Thenardier might perhaps escape. Should he 
hunt down the one, or let the other fall? Remorse would fol- 
low him in either case. 

What should he do? Which course should he choose? 
Be false to the most imperious recollections, to the many sol- 
emn pledges taken to himself, to the most sacred duty, to 
the most venerated commands, disobey his father's will, or 
allow a crime to be accomplished? On one side he fancied 
he could hear " his Ursula " imploring him to save her father ; 
on the other, the colonel recommending Thenardier to his 
care. He felt as if he were going mad. His knees gave way 
under him, and he had not even time to deliberate, as the 
scene he had before him was being performed with such furi- 
ous precipitation. It was a tornado of which he had fancied 
himself the master, but which was sweeping him away. He 
was on the verge of fainting. 

Meantime, Thenardier (as we shall henceforth call him) 
was walking up and down before the table, in a sort of wild 
and frenzied triumph. 

He seized the candlestick and placed it on the chimney- 
piece with such a violent bang that the candle nearly went out, 
and the tallow spattered the wall. 

Then he turned furiously on M. Leblanc and spat forth 
these words : 

" Done brown ! whipped ! in an awful fix ! spatch-cocked ! " 

And he began to march up and down in full eruption. 

" Ah," he cried, " so I have found you again, at last, my 
fine philanthropist; my millionaire with the thread-bare coat! 


You giver of dolls ! you old niggard ! Ah, you do not recog- 
nize me. I suppose it wasn't you who came to my inn at 
Montfermeil just eight years ago, on Christmas eve, 1823! 
It wasn't you who carried off Fantine's child, the Lark! it 
wasn't you who had a yellow watchman's coat! No! nor 
a parcel of clothes in your hand, just as you had this morn- 
ing. Look here, wife ! He seems to have a mania for carry- 
ing bundles of woollen stockings to people's houses, the char- 
itable old humbug ! Are you a hosier, Mr. Millionaire ! You 
give your stock in trade to the poor ; what a holy man ! what 
a mountebank! Ah, you do not recognize me! Well, I 
recognize you. I knew you the minute you thrust your 
muzzle in here. Ah, you will find out that it is not a bloom- 
ing game to go like that to people's houses, under the excuse 
that they are inns, with such a wretched coat and poverty- 
stricken look that they feel inclined to give you a sou, and 
then to play the generous, rob them of their bread-winner, 
and threaten them in the woods; and you won't get off by 
bringing people afterward, when they are ruined, a coat that 
is too large, and two paltry hospital blankets, you old scamp, 
you child-stealer ! " 

He stopped, and for a moment seemed to be speaking to 
himself. It appeared as if his fury had fallen into some 
hole, like the Rhone. Then, as if finishing aloud the things 
he had just been saying to himself in a whisper, he struck 
the table with his fist, and cried : 

" With his simple look ! " 

Then he apostrophized M. Leblanc : 

" By heaven ! you made a fool of me once. You are the 
cause of all my misfortune. You got for fifteen hundred 
francs a girl who certainly belonged to rich people, who had 
already brought me in a deal of money, and from whom I 
ought to have got enough to live upon the rest of my life! 
That girl would have made up to me all I lost in that wretched 
pot-house, where there was nothing but rows, and where I 
ate up all my blessed savings like an ass! Oh, I wish that 
all the wine that was swallowed in my house were poison to 


those who drank it ! However, no matter ! Tell me ! I sup- 
pose you thought me a precious fool when you went off with 
the Lark. You had your cudgel in the forest. You were 
the stronger. To-day I shall have my revenge, for I hold 
all the trumps ; you are done for, my good fellow. Oh, how I 
laugh, when I think how he fell into the trap! I told him 
that I was an actor, that my name was Fabantou, that I had 
played with Mamselle Mars, with Mamselle Muche, and that 
my landlord insisted on being paid the next day ; and he did 
not even remember that January 8, and not February 4, is 
quarter-day. Absurd idiot! And these four paltry Phi- 
lippes which he brought me ! old hunks ! He had not the heart 
to go as high as five hundred francs; and how he swallowed 
my platitudes ! That did amuse me ! I said to myself, 
' There's an ass for you ! ' Well, I have got you. This 
morning I licked your paws, and to-night I shall gnaw your 

Thenardier stopped, out of breath. His little narrow chest 
panted like a forge-bellows. His eyes were full of the ignoble 
happiness of a weak, cruel and cowardly creature, who is 
at length able to trample on the man he feared, and insult 
him whom he flattered. The joy of a dwarf setting his heel 
on the head of Goliath, the joy of a jackal beginning to rend 
a sick bull, dead enough to be unable to defend itself, but 
still alive enough to suffer. M. Leblanc did not interrupt 
him, but said, when he ceased speaking : 

" 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 somebody else." 

" Ah," said Thenardier hoarsely, " a fine dodge ! So you 
stick to that joke, eh, old fellow? You've made a nice mess 
of it! Ah, you do not remember! You do not see who I 


i " 

" Pardon me, sir," replied M. Leblanc, in a polite tone, 
which had something strange and grand about it at such a 
moment, " I see that you are a villain." 

Who has not noticed the fact that odious beings possess a 


susceptibility of their own, and that monsters are ticklish. 
At the word " villain," Mother Thenardier leaped from the 
bed, and her husband clutched his chair as if about to break 
it in his hand. " Don't stir, you ! " he shouted to his wife, 
and then turning to M. Leblanc : 

" ' Villain ! ' Yes, I know that you rich swells call us so. 
It is true, I am a bankrupt. I am in hiding, I have no bread, 
I have not a sou, and I am a villain ! For three days I have 
eaten nothing, and I am a villain! Ah, you fellows warm 
your toes, you wear pumps made by Sakoski, you have wadded 
coats like archbishops, you live on the first-floors of houses 
where a porter is kept, you eat truffles, asparagus at forty 
francs the bunch in January, and green peas. You stuff 
yourselves; and when you want to know whether it is cold, 
you look in the newspapers to see what Chevalier's thermome- 
ter marks; but we, we are our own thermometers. We have 
no call to go and look at the corner of the Jour d'Horloge to 
see how many degrees of cold there are, for we feel the blood 
freeze in our veins and the ice form round our hearts; and 
we say, * There is no God ! ' and you come into our caverns, 
yes, our caverns, to call us villains! But we will eat 
you, we will devour you, poor little chaps! Mr. Millionaire, 
learn this: I was a solid, settled man, I held a license, I was 
an elector, and am still a citizen, while you, perhaps are not ! " 

Here Thenardier advanced a step toward the men near the 
door, and added with a shudder : 

" When I think that he dares to come and address me like 
a cobbler " 

Then turning upon M. Leblanc with a fresh outburst of 
frenzy : 

" And know this, too, Mr. Philanthropist, I am not one of 
your equivocal characters, not I! I am not a man whose 
name nobody knows, and who comes and carries off children 
from houses! I am an old French soldier, and I ought to 
have the cross! I was at Waterloo, I was; and in the battle 
I saved the life of a general called Count Something-or-other. 
He told me his name, but his beastly voice was so weak that 


I did not catch it. I only caught Mercy! His name would 
have been better than his thanks. It would have helped me 
to find him. The picture that you see, which was painted by 
David at Bruqueselles, do you know whom it represents? 
It represents me; for David wished to immortalize that ex- 
ploit. I have the general on my back, and I am carrying 
him through the grape-shot. That is the story! The gen- 
eral never did anything for me. He was no better than the 
rest! But, for all that, I saved his life at the peril of my 
own, and I have my pockets filled with certificates of the fact. 
I am a soldier of Waterloo, by all that's holy! And now 
that I have had the goodness to tell you all this let us have 
an end of it. I want money, I want a deal of money, an 
enormous amount of money, or I shall exterminate you, by 
the thunder of heaven ! " 

Marius had gained a little control over his agony, and was 
listening. The last possibility of doubt had vanished. It was 
really the Thenardier of the will. Marius shuddered at the 
charge of ingratitude cast at his father, and which he was on 
the point of so fatally justifying. His perplexities were re- 

Besides, there was in Thenardier's every word, in his ac- 
cent and gestures, in his glance, which darted flames at every 
word, in this outburst of an evil nature revealing everything, 
in that admixture of boasting and abjectness, pride and mean- 
ness, rage and folly, in that chaos of real griefs and false 
sentiments, in that impudence of a wicked man enjoying the 
delights of violence, in that shameless nudity of an ugly soul, 
and in that conflagration of all possible suffering, combined, 
with all possible hatred, something which was as hideous as 
evil and as poignant as truth. 

The masterpiece the picture by David which he offered 
M. Leblanc was, as the reader will have guessed, nought 
else than his public-house sign, painted by himself, and the 
sole relic he had preserved from his ship-wreck at Montfer- 

As he had stepped aside, Marius was now enabled to look 


at this thing; and in the daub he really recognized a battle, 
a background of smoke, and one man carrying another. It 
was the group of Thenardier and Pontmercy, the saviour 
sergeant and the rescued colonel. Marius felt as if intoxi- 
cated; for this picture in some sort represented his loving 
father. It was no longer an inn sign-board, but a resurrec- 
tion; a tomb had opened, a phantom had risen. Marius's 
heart throbbed in his temples. The guns of Waterloo sounded 
in his ears; his bleeding father, vaguely depicted on that ill- 
omened board, terrified him, and he fancied that the shapeless 
figure gazed fixedly at him. 

When Thenardier regained his breath, he fastened his 
blood-shot eyes on M. Leblanc, and said in a low, sharp 
voice : 

" What have you to say before we put the screw on you? " 

M. Leblanc was silent. 

In the midst of this silence a husky voice launched this 
mournful sarcasm from the passage : 

" If there's any wood to be chopped, I'm your man." 

It was the fellow with the pole-axe, amusing himself. 

At the same time, an immense, hairy, earth-coloured face 
appeared in the doorway, with a frightful grin which dis- 
played not teeth but tusks. 

It was the face of the man with the pole-axe. 

" Why have you taken off your mask ? " Thenardier asked 

" For fun," answered the man. 

For some minutes past, M. Leblanc had seemed to be watch- 
ing and following every movement of Thenardier, who, 
blinded and bewildered by his own rage, strode up and down 
the room, confident in the knowledge that the door was 
guarded, that his victim was unarmed, while he was armed, 
and that there nine against one, even supposing that his wife 
counted for only one man. 

In his speech to the man with the pole-axe, he turned his 
back to M. Leblanc. 

M. Leblanc took advantage of the opportunity, upset the 


chair with his foot, the table with his fist, and with one bound, 
before Thenardier had time to turn, he was at the window. 
To open it and bestride the sill was the work of a second. He 
was half out when six powerful hands grasped him and en- 
ergetically dragged him back into the room. The three 
" smoke-doctors " had rushed upon him, and at the same time 
Mother Thenardier seized him by the hair. 

At the noise which ensued, the other ruffians ran in from 
the passage, and the old man on the bed, who seemed the 
worse for liquor, descended from his couch and tottered up, 
with a road-mender's hammer in his hand. 

One of the " smoke-doctors," whose smeared face was lighted 
up by the candle, and in whom Marius recognized, in spite of 
the blackening, Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, 
raised above M. Leblanc's head a sort of bludgeon made of 
two lumps of lead at the end of an iron bar. 

Marius could not endure the sight. " My father," he 
thought, " forgive me ! " and his finger sought the trigger. 

He was on the point of firing when Thenardier cried: 

" Do not hurt him ! " 

This desperate attempt of the victim, far from exasperating 
Thenardier, had calmed him. 

There were two men in him, the ferocious man and the 
adroit man. Up to this moment, in the exuberance of 
triumph, in presence of his motionless prey, the ferocious man 
had prevailed. When the victim struggled and strove to re- 
sist, the adroit man reappeared and gained the mastery. 
I " Do him no harm ! " he repeated ; and his first victory was, 
though he little suspected it, to arrest the discharge of the 
pistol and to paralyze Marius, to whom the affair did not now 
appear so urgent, and who in the presence of this new phase 
saw no harm in waiting a little longer. 

Who knows whether some accident might not occur which 
would deliver him from the frightful alternative of letting 
Ursula's father perish or of destroying the colonel's saviour? 

A herculean struggle had begun. With one blow of his 
fist full in the chest, M. Leblanc sent the old man rolling in 


the middle of the room, and then with two back-handers 
knocked down two other assailants, and held one under each 
of his knees. The villains gasped under this pressure as 
under a granite mill-stone, but the other four had seized the 
formidable old man by the arms and neck and were holding 
him down upon the two " smoke-doctors." 

Thus, master of some, and mastered by others, crushing 
those beneath him, and stifled by those above him, vainly try- 
ing to shake off all the efforts heaped upon him, M. Leblanc 
disappeared beneath this horrible group of bandits, like a wild 
boar beneath a howling pack of dogs and hounds. 

They succeeded in throwing him upon the bed nearest the 
window, and there they held him in awe. Mother Thenardier 
did not once let go his hair. 

" Don't you interfere," said Thenardier ; " you will tear 
your shawl." 

The woman obeyed, as the she-wolf obeys, her mate, with 
a snarl. 

" You fellows," continued Thenardier, " search him." 

M. Leblanc appeared to have given up all thought of re- 
sistance, and they searched him. 

He had nothing about him but a leather purse containing 
six francs, and his handkerchief. 

Thenardier put the handkerchief in his own pocket. 

"What! no pocket-book?" he asked. 

" No ; and no watch," replied one of the " smoke-doctors." 

" No matter," muttered the masked man who held the large 
key, in the voice of a ventriloquist, " he is a tough old bird." 

Thenardier went to the corner near the door, and picked 
up a bundle of rope, which he threw to the men. 

" Tie him to the leg of the bed," he said. 

Then noticing the old man whom M. Leblanc had stretched 
across the room with a blow of his fist, and who was still mo- 
tionless on the floor, he asked : 

" Is Boulatruelle dead? " 

" No," answered Bigrenaille ; " he's drunk." 

" Sweep him into a corner," said Thenardier. 


Two of the " smoke-doctors " thrust the drunkard with 
their feet toward the heap of old iron. 

" Babet, why did you bring so many?" said Thenardier, 
in a whisper, to the man with the cudgel ; " it was unneces- 

" How could I help it? They all wanted to be in it," 
answered the man. " The season is bad, and there's nothing 

The bed upon which M. Leblanc had been thrown was a 
sort of hospital bed on four clumsy wooden legs. 

M. Leblanc offered no resistance. 

The ruffians tied him firmly, in an upright posture, with 
his feet on the ground, at the end of the bed farthest from 
the window and nearest to the chimney-piece. 

When the last knot was tied, Thenardier took a chair and 
sat down almost facing the prisoner. 

He was no longer the same man. In a few minutes his 
countenance had passed from frenzied violence to quiet and 
crafty gentleness. 

. Marius found it hard to recognize in this polite smile of a 
man in official life the almost bestial mouth which had been 
foaming a moment previous. He gazed with amazement at 
this fantastic and alarming change; and he felt as a man 
might feel who should see a tiger turned into an attorney. 

" Sir," said Thenardier, and dismissing with a sign the 
bandits who still held M. Leblanc : 

" Stand off a little and leave me to talk with the gentle- 
man," he said. 

All withdrew to the door, and he resumed : 

" You did wrong to try to jump out of the window, for 
you might have broken a leg. Now, with your permission, 
we will talk quietly. In the first place, I must tell you one 
thing I have noticed; that is, that you have not yet uttered 
the slightest cry." 

Thenardier was right. This detail was correct, although 
it had escaped Marius in his agitation. M. Leblanc had 
merely said a few words without raising his voice; and even 


in his struggle near the window with the six bandits, he had 
preserved the most profound and singular silence. 

Thenardier went on : 

" Good heavens ! You might have shouted : ' Thieves ! ' 
and I should not have thought it improper. Such a thing as 
' Murder ! ' is sometimes shouted on such occasions. I should 
not have taken it in ill part. It is very natural that a man 
should make a bit of a row when he finds himself with per- 
sons who do not inspire him with sufficient confidence. If 
you had done so, we should not have interfered with you or 
thought of gagging you; and I will tell you why. This 
room is very deaf. It has only that in its favour, but it has 
that. It is a cellar ; you might fire off a bomb-shell here, and 
it would produce no more effect than a drunkard's snore at 
the nearest police-station. Here cannon would go ' boom ! ' 
and thunder be a mere puff. It is a convenient lodging. But 
still you did not cry out. All the better; and I compliment 
you on it, and will tell you what conclusion I draw from the 
fact. My dear sir, when a man cries for help, who come? 
The police. And after the police? Justice. Well, you did 
not cry out, and so you are no more desirous than we are 
for the arrival of the police. The fact is, and I have sus- 
pected it for some time, that you have some interest in hid- 
ing something. For our part, we have the same interest. So 
we may be able to come to an understanding." 

As he said this, Thenardier tried to drive the sharp points 
that darted from his eyes into his prisoner's conscience. Be- 
sides, his language, marked with a sort of moderate and cun- 
ning insolence, was reserved and almost choice; and in this 
villain, who was just before only a bandit, could now be seen 
" the man who had studied for the priesthood." 

The silence maintained by the prisoner, the precaution 
which went so far as to forget all care for his life, his re- 
sistance, so opposed to the first impulse of Nature, which is 
to utter a cry, troubled and painfully amazed Marius so soon 
as his attention was drawn to it. 

The*nardier's well-founded remark but rendered denser the 

mysterious gloom behind which was concealed the grave and 
peculiar figure to whom Courfeyrac had given the sobriquet 
of M. Leblanc. 

But, whoever this man might be, though bound with cords, 
surrounded by bandits, and half buried, so to speak, in a 
grave which was closing over him at every step, whether 
in the presence of Thenardier furious or of Thenardier gentle, 
he remained impassive ; and Marius could not refrain from 
admiring his superbly melancholy visage at such a moment. 

His was evidently a soul inaccessible to terror, and ignorant 
of what it is to despair. He was one of those men who dom- 
inate the amazement produced by desperate situations. How- 
ever extreme the crisis might be, however inevitable the catas- 
trophe, he had none of the agony of the drowning man who 
opens horror-stricken eyes under the water. 

Thenardier rose without any affectation, removed the screen 
from before the fireplace, and thus unmasked the brazier full 
of burning charcoal, in which the prisoner could plainly see 
the chisel at a white heat and studded here and there with 
small red stars. 

Then he returned to his seat. 

" To continue," he said. 

" We can corne to an understanding. Let us settle this 
amicably. I did wrong to let my temper carry me away just 
now ; I do not know where my senses were. I went much too far 
and uttered absurdities. For instance, because you are a mil- 
lionaire, I told you that I must have money, a great deal of 
money, an immense sum of money. That was unreasonable. 
Good heavens ! you may be rich, but you have burdens, who 
has not ? I do not wish to ruin you ; for I am no extortioner, 
after all. I am not one of those men who, because they have 
the advantage, use it to make themselves ridiculous. Come, 
I will make a sacrifice on my side, and be satisfied with two 
hundred thousand francs." 

M. Leblanc did not utter a syllable. 

Thenardier continued : 

" You see that I put plenty of water in mj wine. I do 


not know the amount of your fortune, but I do know that 
you do not care for money; and a benevolent man like you 
can easily give two hundred thousand francs to the unfortu- 
nate father of a family. Of course, you are reasonable too. 
You cannot have supposed that I would take all the trouble 
I have to-day, and would get up this affair to-night, which 
is a good job, in the opinion of these gentlemen, merely to 
end up by asking you for enough money to go and drink 
fifteen-sous wine and eat veal at Desnoyer's. But two hun- 
dred thousand francs, that's worth the trouble. Once that 
trifle has come out of your pocket, I will guarantee that you 
have nothing more to apprehend. You will say, ' But I have 
not two hundred thousand francs about me.' Oh, I am not 
exorbitant, I do not insist on that. I only ask one thing of 
you. Be good enough to write what I shall dictate." 

Here Thenardier stopped, but added, laying a stress on the 
words, and casting a smile at the brazier: 

" I warn you that I shall not accept the excuse that you 
don't know how to write." 

A grand inquisitor might have envied that smile. 

Thenardier pushed the table close up to M. Leblanc, and 
took pen, ink, and paper out of the drawer, which he left half 
open, and in which glittered the long knife-blade. 

He laid the sheet of paper before M. Leblanc. 

"Write! "he said. 

The prisoner spoke at last. 

" How can you expect me to write? My arms are tied." 

" That is true ; I beg your pardon," said Thenardier. 
" You are quite right." 

And turning to Bigrenaille he added : 

" Unfasten the gentleman's right arm." 

Panchaud, alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, obeyed Thfo- 
ardier's orders. 

When the prisoner's hand was free, Thenardier dipped the 
pen in the ink and handed it to him. 

" Make up your mind, sir, that you are in our power, 
at our mercy. No human power can liberate you; and we 


should really be sorry to be forced to procee3 lo disagreeable 
extremities. I know neither your name nor your address ; but 
I warn you that you will remain tied up here until the person 
commissioned to deliver the letter you are about to write has 
returned. Now be good enough to write." 

" What ? " asked the prisoner. 

Thenardier began to dictate : " My daughter " 

The prisoner started, and raised his eyes to Thenardier, 
who went on : 

" Put ' My dear daughter, 5 " said Thenardier. 

M. Leblanc obeyed. 

Thenardier continued: 

" Come at once." 

He paused : 

" You call her your daughter, don't you? " 

" Who? " asked M. Leblanc. 

" Zounds ! " cried Thenardier, " the little one, the Lark." 

M. Leblanc replied without a sign of emotion : 

" I don't know what you mean." 

" Go on, all the same," said Thenardier ; and he resumed 
his dictation : 

" Come to me at once, for I have pressing need of you. 
The person who delivers this letter to you has instructions to 
bring you to me. I am waiting. Come in perfect confi- 

M. Leblanc wrote this down. 

Thenardiar resumed: 

" By the way, scratch out ' Come in perfect confidence,' 
for it might lead her to suppose that the affair is not per- 
fectly natural, and create distrust." 

M. Leblanc erased the words. 

" Now," added 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 one. I just told you so." 


It was evident that Thenardier avoided mentioning the 
name of the girl in question. He called her " the Lark," he 
called her " the little one," but did not pronounce her 

It was the precaution of a clever man who guards his secret 
from his accomplices. To mention the name would be to tell 
them the whole " affair," and to teach them more than there 
was any occasion for them to know. 

So he repeated : 

" 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 drew out the handkerchief found on M. 
Leblanc. He sought for the mark, and held it to the candle. 

" U. F. : all right. Urbain Fabre. Well, sign it U. F." 

The prisoner did so. 

" As two hands are needed to fold a letter, give it to me 
and I will do so." 

This done, Thenardier added : 

" Address it, * Mademoiselle Fabre ' at your house. I know 
that you live somewhere near here in the neighbourhood of St. 
Jacques du Haut-pas, as you attend Mass there 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 address. Write it yourself." 

The prisoner reflected for a moment, and then took up 
the pen and wrote: 

" Mademoiselle Fabre, at M. Urbain Fabre's, No. 17, Rue 
St. Dominique d'Enfer." 

Thenardier seized the letter with a sort of feverish con- 

" Wife ! " he shouted, and the woman hastened up. " Here 
is the letter. You know what you have to do. There is a 
hackney coach down below, so be off at once, and return 

Then he turned to the man with the pole-axe, and said: 
" As you have taken off your false nose, you can escort the 


missis. Get up behind the coach. You know where you left 
the go-cart? " 

" Yes," said the man. And depositing the axe in a corner, 
he followed the woman. 

As they set off, Thenardier thrust his head through the 
half-open door, and shouted down the passage : 

" Mind you do not lose the letter ! Remember, you have 
two hundred thousand francs about you." 

The woman's hoarse voice replied. 

" Don't be frightened ; I've put it in my bosom " 

A minute had not elapsed when the crack of a whip was 
heard rapidly retreating, and dying away in the distance. 

" Good ! " growled Thenardier ; " they are going at a fine 
pace. At a gallop like that the missis will be back inside of 
three-quarters of an hour." 

He drew a chair to the fireside, and sat down with folded 
arms, holding his muddy boots to the brazier. 

" My feet are cold," he said. 

Only five ruffians now remained in the den with Thenardier 
and the prisoner. 

These men, through the masks or soot that covered their 
faces and made of them, with a choice of horrors, charcoal- 
burners, negroes, or demons, had a heavy, dull look; and it 
was plain that they performed a crime like a job, calmly, 
without passion or pity, and with a sort of weary air. They 
were crowded up in one corner like brute beasts and were 

Thenardier warmed his feet. 

The prisoner had relapsed into his taciturnity. A sinister 
calm had succeeded the wild uproar which had filled the garret 
a few moments previous. 

The candle, on which a large " stranger " had formed, 
scarce lit up the immense room. The brazier had grown 
black; and all those monstrous heads cast misshapen shadows 
upon the walls and ceiling. 

No sound was audible save the regular breathing of the 
old drunkard, who was asleep. 


Marius waited in a state of anxiety, which everything 
tended to increase. The enigma was more impenetrable than 

Who was this " little one," whom Thenardier had also 
called " The Lark " ? Was she " his Ursula " ? The prisoner 
had not seemed to be affected by that name, " the Lark," 
and had answered with the most natural air in the world, " I 
do not know what you mean." On the other hand, the two 
letters U. F. were explained. They were Urbain Fabre; and 
Ursula's name was no longer Ursula. This was what Marius 
saw most clearly. 

A sort of frightful fascination held him nailed to the 
spot, whence he surveyed and commanded the whole scene. 
He stood there almost incapable of reflection and movement, 
as if annihilated by such abominable things viewed so close at 
hand. He waited, hoping for some incident, no matter what 
its nature, unable to collect his thoughts, and not knowing 
what course to take. 

" In any case," he said, " if she is the Lark, I shall see her ; 
for Mother Thenardier will bring her here. That will end 
all ; I will give my life and my blood, should it be necessary, 
to save her ! Nothing shall stop me." 

Nearly half an hour passed in this way. Thenardier 
seemed absorbed in dark thoughts, and the prisoner did not 
stir. Still Marius fancied that at intervals, and for the last 
few moments, he could hear a low, dull sound in the direction 
of the prisoner. All at once Thenardier addressed his vic- 

" By the way, M. Fabre," he said, " I may as well tell 
you at once." 

As these few words seemed the beginning of an explanation, 
Marius pricked up his ears. 

Thenardier continued: 

" My wife will be back soon, so do not be impatient. I 
believe that the Lark is really your daughter, and think it 
quite natural that you should want to keep her; but listen to 
me for a moment. My wife will go and hunt her up with 


your letter. I told Madame Thenardier to dress herself in 
the way you saw, so that your young lady might make no 
difficulty about following her. They will both get into the 
hackney coach with my comrade behind. Somewhere, outside 
one of the barriers, there is a trap drawn by two excellent 
horses. Your young lady will be driven up to it in the hack- 
ney coach, and get into the trap with my pal, while my wife 
returns here to report progress. As for your young lady, 
no harm will be done her. She will be taken to a place where 
she will be all safe; and so soon as you have handed me the 
trifle of two hundred thousand francs, she will be restored to 
you. If you have me arrested, my pal will settle the Lark, 
that's all." 

The prisoner did not utter a word. After a pause Thenar- 
dier added: 

" It is simple enough, as you see. There will be no harm 
done, unless you like to make harm. I have told you all 
about it, and warned you, that you might know how things 

He stopped. The prisoner did not break the silence, and 
Thenardier added: 

" So soon as my wife returns and says to me, ' The Lark 
is on the way,' we will release you; and you can sleep at 
home if you like. You see that we have no ill intentions." 

Frightful images passed across the mind of Marius. 
What! they were not going to bring the girl here! One 
of the monsters was to carry her off in the darkness ! Where? 
Oh, if it were she! 

It was plain that it was she. Marius felt his heart stop 

What should he do? Fire the pistol and deliver all these 
villains into the hands of justice? But the hideous man with 
the pole-axe would be none the less out of reach with the girl ; 
and Marius thought of Thenardier' s words, whose bloody sig- 
nificance he could read : " If you have me arrested, my pal itntt 
settle the Lark" 

Now he felt himself restrained, not only by the colonel's 


will, but by his love, and by the peril of her whom he loved. 

This frightful situation, which had already lasted above 
an hour, changed its aspect every moment. 

Marius had the strength to review in turn all the most 
heart-rending conjectures, seeking hope and finding none. 

The tumult of his thoughts contrasted with the funereal 
silence of the den. 

In the midst of this silence the door at the foot of the 
stairs was heard to open and shut. 

The prisoner gave a start in his bonds. 

" Here's my missis," said Thenardier. 

He had hardly uttered the words when Mother Thenardier 
rushed into the room, red, out of breath, panting, with flash- 
ing eyes, and shouted as she struck her thighs with her two 
big hands : 

" False address ! " 

The rascal who had accompanied her appeared behind, and 
took up his pole-axe again. 

" False address ? " repeated Thenardier ; and she went 

" No Monsieur Urbain Fabre known at No. 17, Rue St. 
Dominique. They never heard of him." 

She stopped to snort, and then continued: 

" Monsieur Thenardier, that old cove has made a fool of 
you. You are too kind-hearted, I keep on telling you. I 
would have cut his throat to begin with ! and if he had sulked, 
I would have boiled him alive! That would have made him 
speak and tell us where he keeps the girl, and where he keeps 
his pile. 

" That is how I should have managed the affair. People 
are perfectly right when they say that men are more 
stupid than women. Nobody at No. 17. It is a big carriage 
entrance. No Monsieur Fabre at No. 17! and we tore like 
mad, and tipped the driver, and all! I spoke to the porter 
and to his wife, who is a fine, fat woman, and they did not 
know anybody of the name." 

Marius breathed again. 


She, Ursula, or the Lark ; he no longer knew her name,- 
was saved. 

While the exasperated woman vociferated, Thenardier sat 
down on the table. 

For some minutes he said not a word, but swung his right 
leg to and fro, and looked at the brazier with an air of savage 

At last he said to the prisoner, slowly, in a peculiarly 
ferocious tone: 

" A false address ? Why, what did you expect to gain by 

" Time ! " thundered the prisoner. And at the same mo- 
ment he shook off his bonds, which were cut through. The 
prisoner was now only fastened to the bed by one leg. 

Before the seven men had time to collect their senses and 
to rush forward, he had stooped to the hearth, stretched out 
his hand to the brazier, then straightened himself up again; 
and now the Thenardiers and the brigands, driven back by 
surprise to the end of the room, stared at him in stupid horror, 
as, almost free, and in a threatening attitude, he waved above 
his head the red-hot chisel, from which a sinister glare shot. 

In the judicial inquiry to which the attempted murder 
in the Gorbeau House gave rise it was stated that a large 
copper sou, cut and worked in a peculiar manner, was found 
in the garret when the police made their descent upon it. It 
was one of those marvels of industry which the patience of the 
galleys engenders in the darkness, and for the darkness, 
marvels which are nought but instruments of escape. These 
hideous and yet delicate products of a prodigious art are to 
the jeweller's work what slang metaphors are to poetry. 
There are Benvenuto Cellinis in the galleys, as there are Vil- 
lons in language. The wretch who aspires to escape, finds 
means, without tools, or, at the most, with an old knife, to 
saw a sou in halves, hollow out the two parts without injuring 
the dies, and form a thread in the edge of each part so that 
they fit together. It screws and unscrews at pleasure, and is 
a box ; and in this box a watchspring saw is concealed, which, 


if well managed, will cut through fetters and iron bars. It is 
believed that the unhappy convict possesses only a sou; not 
at all, he possesses liberty. It was a sou of this nature which 
was found by the police under the bed near the window. A 
small saw of blue steel, which could be easily concealed in the 
sou, was also discovered. 

It is probable that when the bandits searched the prisoner 
he had the double sou about him, and hid it in his palm. 
Afterward, his right hand being free, he unscrewed it, and 
used the saw to cut the ropes which bound him. This would 
explain the slight noise and the almost imperceptible move- 
ments which Marius had noticed. 

As, however, he was unable to stoop down for fear of be- 
traying himself, he had not cut the cord on his left leg. 

The bandits gradually recovered from their surprise. 

" Be easy," said Bigrenaille to Thenardier ; " he is still 
held by one leg and will not fly away. I'll answer for that. 
I put the pack-thread round that paw." 

Here the prisoner raised his voice: 

" You are villains, but my life is not worth the trouble of 
defending it. As for imagining that you can make me speak, 
make me write what I do not choose to write, or make me say 
what I do not choose to say " 

He pulled up his left sleeve and added : 

"Look here!" 

At the same time, he stretched out his arm, and placed on 
the naked flesh the red-hot chisel, which he held in his right 
hand by the wooden handle. 

The frizzling of the burning flesh was heard; and the smell 
peculiar to torture-rooms, spread through the garret. 

Marius reeled in utter horror ; the brigands themselves shud- 
dered; but the face of the strange old man was scarce con- 
tracted, and while the red-hot steel buried itself in the smoking 
wound, he impassive and almost august fixed on Then- 
ardier his beautiful glance, in which there was no hatred, and 
in which suffering disappeared in serene majesty. 

In great and lofty natures the revolt of the flesh and of 


the senses subjected to physical pain, makes the soul shine 
forth upon the brow, as the mutiny of troops compels the 
captain to show himself. 

" Villains ! " he said, " fear me no more than I do you." 

And teaming the chisel out of the wound, he hurled it 
through the window which had been left open. The horrible 
red-hot tool whirled through the night and fell some distance 
off in the snow, which hissed at the contact. 

The prisoner continued: 

" Do with me as you will." 

He was defenceless. 

" Seize him," said Thenardier. 

Two of the brigands laid their hands on his shoulder, and 
the masked man with the ventriloquist voice stood in front 
of him, ready to dash out his brains with a blow of the big 
key at the slightest movement on his part. 

At the same time, Marius heard below him, but so close 
that he could not see the speakers, the following remarks ex- 
changed in a low voice: 

" There is only one thing to be done." 

"Cut his throat!" 

" Exactly." 

It was the husband and wife holding council. 

Thenardier walked slowly to the table, opened the drawer, 
and took out the knife. 

Marius played with the handle of his pistol in a state of 
extraordinary perplexity. For more than an hour he had 
heard two voices in his conscience, one telling him to respect 
his father's will, while the other cried to him to succour the 
prisoner. These two voices continued their struggle uninter- 
ruptedly, and agonized him. Up to this moment he had 
vaguely hoped to find some mode of reconciling these two 
duties, but nothing within the bounds of possibility had oc- 
curred to him. 

Still, the peril was urgent. The last mo .lit of delay was 
passed. Thenardier, knife in hand, wa reflecting a few 
paces from the prisoner. 



Marius lookecf jfildly around him, the last mechanical re- 
source of despair. All at once he started. 

At his feet, on the table, a bright moonbeam lit up and 
seemed to point out to him a sheet of paper. On that sheet 
he read this line, written in large letters that very morning 
by the elder of Thenardier's daughters: 


An idea, a flash, crossed Marius's mind. This was the 
expedient which he sought, the solution of the frightful prob- 
lem that tortured him, sparing the assassin and saving the 

He knelt down by the chest of drawers, stretched forth 
his arm, seized the paper, softly detached a lump of plaster 
from the party-wall, wrapped the paper round it, and threw 
it through the hole into the middle of the den. 

It was high time, for Thenardier had overcome his last 
fears, or his last scruples, and was advancing on the pris- 

" Something fell ! " cried his wife. 

" What is it ? " asked her husband. 

The woman bounded forward, and picked up the lump 
of plaster wrapped in paper, which she handed to her hus- 

" Where did that come from? " asked Thenardier. 

" Why, hang it ! " said his wife, " where do you suppose 
it came from? Through the window, of course." 

" I saw it come," said Bigrenaille. 

Thenardier rapidly unfolded the paper and held it close 
to the candle. 

" Eponine's handwriting the devil ! " 

He signed to his wife, who hurried up to him, and showed 
her the line written on the paper, then added in a hollow 
voice : 

" Quick, the ladder ! We must leave the bacon in the 
mouse-trap and clear out." 


"Without cutting the man' throat?!" asked Mother 

" We haven't the time." 

" Which way ? " remarked Bigrenaille. 

" By the window," replied Thenardier ; " as 'Ponine threw 
the stone through the window, that's a proof that the house is 
not beset on that side. 

The masked man with the ventriloquist voice laid his big 
key on the floor, raised his arms in the air, and opened and 
shut his hands thrice rapidly, without a word. 

This was the signal to clear the decks for action aboard 
ship. The rascals who held the prisoner let him go, and in 
a twinkling the rope ladder was dropped out of the window 
and securely fastened to the sill by the two iron hooks. 

The prisoner paid no attention to what was going on 
around him. He seemed to be thinking or praying. So soon 
as the ladder was fixed, Thenardier cried: 

" Come, the missis first." And he dashed at the win- 

But as he was stepping out, Bigrenaille roughly seized 
him by the collar. 

"Not much, I say, my old joker! After us!" 

" After us ! " yelled the bandits. 

" You are children," said Thenardier ; " we are losing time, 
and the bobbies are at our heels." 

" Very well, then," said one of the bandits, " let us draw 
lots to see who shall go first." 

Thenardier exclaimed: 

"Are you crazy? Are you cracked? Why, what a set 
of flats! Lose time, would you? Draw lots, eh? with a 
wet finger, a short straw? Write our names! put them in a 
hat " 

" May I offer my hat ? " said a voice at the door. 

All turned. It was Javert. 

He held his hat in his hand, and offered it smilingly. 




J AVERT posted his men at nightfall, and ambushed him- 
self behind the trees of the Rue de la Barriere des Gobe- 
lins, which faces No. 50-52, on the other side of the boule- 
vard. He had begun by opening his " pocket," and thrust- 
ing into it the two girls ordered to watch the approaches to 
the den. But he had " nailed " only Azelma. As for Epo- 
nine, she was not at her post; she had disappeared, and he 
had not been able to seize her. Then Javert took up his po- 
sition, and listened for the appointed signal. The departure 
and return of the hackney coach greatly perplexed him. At 
length he grew impatient ; and feeling sure that there " was 
a nest there," and that he was in " luck's way," having recog- 
nized several of the scoundrels who went in, he resolved to 
enter without waiting for the pistol-shot. 

It will be remembered that he had Marius's latch-key. 

He arrived just in the nick of time. 

The startled bandits dashed at the weapons which they had 
thrown into corners at the moment of their attempted escape ; 
and in less than a second these seven men, fearful to behold, 
were grouped in a posture of defence, one with his pole-axe, 
another with his key, a third with his bludgeon, the others 
with shears, pincers, and hammer, and Thenardier with his 
knife in his fist. The woman picked up an enormous paving- 
stone which lay in the corner by the window, and served her 
daughters as a foot-stool. 

Javert restored his hat to his head, and walked into the 
room, with folded arms, his cane under his arm and his sword 
in its scabbard. 

" Halt ! " he shouted ; " you will not leave by the window, 
but by the door. It is not so unhealthy. You are seven and 


we are fifteen. Do not let us collar each other like water- 
carriers, but behave like gentlemen." 

Bigrenaille drew a pistol from under his blouse and placed 
it in Thenardier's hand, as he whispered: 

" It is Javert. I dare not fire on that man. Dare you ? " 

" I should think so," answered Thenardier. 

" Well, fire." 

Thenardier took the pistol and aimed at Javert. 

The inspector, who was only three paces from him, looked 
him in the eye, and contented himself with saying: 

" Don't fire, for the pistol won't go off." 

Thenardier pulled the trigger. There was a flash in the 

" Did I not tell you so ? " remarked Javert. 

Bigrenaille threw his bludgeon at Javert's feet. 

" You are the emperor of the devils ! I surrender." 

" And you ? " Javert asked the other bandits. 

They answered: " So do we." 

Javert remarked calmly: 

" That is all right ; I said so. You are good fellows." 

" I only ask one thing," remarked Bigrenaille, " that 
my baccy mayn't be stopped while I'm in solitary confine- 

" Agreed," said Javert. 

Then he turned and shouted: 

" You can come in now." 

A squad of police, sword in hand, and assistants armed 
with bludgeons and sticks, rushed in at Javert's summons and 
bound the robbers. 

This crowd of men, scarce illumined by the one candle, 
filled the den with shadows. 

" Handcuff them all," cried Javert. 

" Come on if you dare," shouted a voice, which was not 
that of a man, but of which no one could have said, " It is a 
woman's voice." 

Mother Thenardier had intrenched herself in one of the 
angles of the window, and it was she who uttered this roar. 


The police and their aids fell back. 

She had thrown off her shawl, and kept on her bonnet; her 
husband, crouching behind her, almost disappeared under the 
shawl, and she covered him with her body, as she raised the 
paving-stone above her head with both hands, like a giantess 
about to heave a rock. 

" Heads below ! " she screeched. 

All retreated into the passage. A large open space was 
cleared in the centre of the garret. 

The hag cast a glance at the bandits, who had suffered 
themselves to be bound, and muttered in a hoarse and gut- 
tural voice : 

" Cowards ! " 

Javert smiled, and advanced into the open space which 
the woman guarded with her eyes. 

" Don't come near me," she shrieked, " or I'll smash you ! 
Be off!" 

" What a grenadier ! " said Javert. " I say, mother ! yon 
have a beard like a man, but I have claws like a woman." 

And he continued to advance. 

Mother Thenardier, with flying hair and terrible looks, 
straddled her legs, bent back, and wildly hurled the paving- 
stone at Javert's head. He stooped; the stone passed ovei 
him, struck the wall, from which it dislodged a mass of plas^ 
ter, and then rebounded across the den, luckily almost empty y 
till it fell at Javert's feet. 

At the same moment, Javert reached the Thenardiers. Ont 
of his large hands settled on the wife's shoulder, the other 
on the husband's head 

" Handcuffs here ! " he shouted. 

The policemen flocked in, and in a few seconds Javert's 
orders were carried out. 

The woman, quite crushed, looked at her own and her hus- 
band's manacled hands, sank to the ground, and bursting into 
tears, crie$: 

" My daughters ! " 

" They are in quod," said Javert. 


By this time the police had discovered the drunken man 
asleep behind the door, and were shaking him. 

He woke up and stammered: 

" Is it all over, Jondrette ? " 

" Yes," answered Javert. 

The six bound bandits were standing together, with their 
spectral faces, three daubed with black, and three masked. 

" Keep on your masks," said Javert. 

And passing them in review, like Frederick II. at a Pots- 
dam parade, he said to the three " smoke-doctors " : 

"How are you, Bigrenaille? Hullo, Brujon. How are 
you, Two Milliards ? " 

Then turning to the three masks, he said to the man with 
the pole-axe, " Good-evening, Gueulemer," and to the man 
with the cudgel, " Good-evening, Babet," and to the ventrilo- 
quist, " Your health, Claquesous." 

Just then he saw the prisoner, who had not said a word since 
the arrival of the police, and held his head down. 

" Untie the gentleman," said Javert, " and let no one leave 
the room." 

So saying, he sat down in a lordly way at the table, on 
which the candle and the inkstand were still standing, took 
a stamped paper from his pocket, and began to write his 

When he had written the first lines, which are always the 
same formula, he raised his eyes. 

" Let the gentleman whom these gentlemen tied up step 

The policemen looked around. 

" Well," asked Javert, " where is he ? " 

The prisoner of the bandits, M. Leblanc, M. Urbain Fabre, 
the father of Ursula or the Lark, had disappeared. 

The door was guarded, but the window was not. So soon 
as he found himself free, and while Javert was writing, he 
took advantage of the confusion, the tumult, the crowd, the 
darkness, and of a moment when attention was not fixed upon 
him, to spring out of the window. 


A policeman ran to the window and looked out. He saw 
nobody; but the rope ladder was still vibrating. 

" The devil ! " said Javert between his teeth ; " he must have 
been the best of the lot." 



ON the day after that on which these events occurred in 
the house on the Boulevard de 1'Hopital, a lad, who ap- 
parently came from the bridge of Austerlitz, was trudging 
along the right-hand walk in the direction of the Barriere de 
Fontainebleau, at nightfall. 

This boy was pale, thin, dressed in rags, wearing canvas 
trousers in the month of February, and singing at the top 
of his lungs. 

At the corner of the Rue du Petit Banquier, an old woman 
was stooping down, rummaging in a pile of garbage by the 
light of the street-lantern; the lad ran against her as he 
passed, and fell back, with the exclamation : 

" My eye ! Why, I took that for an enormous, ENORMOUS 

He uttered the word enormous the second time with a sonor- 
ous twang, which might be expressed by capitals ; " an enor- 
mous, ENORMOUS dog." 

The old woman drew herself up in a fury. 

" You young devil ! " she growled, " if I had not been 
stooping I know where my foot would be now." 

The lad was already some distance off. 

" K'ss ! k'ss ! " he said ; " after that, perhaps I was not 

The old woman, choked with indignation, drew herself 
up to her full height, and the red glow of the street-lan- 


tern fully lit up her livid face, which was hollowed into angles 
and wrinkles, with crows'-feet at the corners of her mouth. 
Her body was lost in the darkness, and her head alone could 
be seen ; she looked like a mask of decrepitude carved out by a 
flash of lightning from the night. 

The lad looked at her. 

" Madame," he said, " yours is not the style of beauty 
which would suit me." 

He went his way, and began singing again : 

"King Coupdesabot 
Went a-hunting one day, 
A-hunting the crow." 

At the end of these three lines he broke off. He had 
reached No. 50-52, and finding the door closed, he began 
to attack it with re-echoing and heroic kicks, which indicated 
rather the man's shoes which he wore than the boy's feet which 
he had. 

By this time, the same old woman whom he had met at 
the corner of the Rue du Petit Banquier ran up after him, 
uttering loud shouts, and making the most extraordinary ges- 

" What's the matter? What's the matter? O Lord God! 
He will break down the door ! He will break into the house ! " 

The kicks continued, and the old woman yelled herself 
hoarse : 

" Is that the way to treat a house ? " 

All at once she stopped, .for she recognized the gutter- 

" Why, it is that imp ! " 

" Hullo ! it's the old lady," said the boy. " Good-evening, 
Bougonmuche; I have come to see my ancestors." 

The old woman answered with a composite grimace, an 
admirable instance of hatred taking advantage of old age 
and ugliness, which was unfortunately lost in the darkness: 
" There's nobody here, scamp." 

'* Nonsense ! " said the boy ; " where's my father? " 


" At La Force." 

"Hullo! and mother?" 

" At Saint Lazare." 

"Very fine! and my sisters?" 

" At the Madelonnettes." 

The lad scratched the back of his ear, looked at Ma'am 
Bougon, and said, " Ah ! " 

Then he turned on his heel, and a moment later the old 
woman, who was standing on the doorstep, heard him singing 
in his clear young voice, as he went off under the dark elms, 
which shivered in the winter breeze: 

"King Coupdesabot 
Went a-hunting one day, 
A-hunting the crow, 
On two waders, they say; 
You'd two coppers to pay 
If you went by that way."