The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (2024)

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Les Misérables, v. 1-5, by Victor HugoThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at Les Misérables, v. 1-5 Fantine - Cosette - Marius - The Idyll and the Epic - Jean ValjeanAuthor: Victor HugoTranslator: Frederic Charles Lascelles WraxallRelease Date: April 18, 2015 [EBook #48731]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LES MISÉRABLES, V. 1-5 ***Produced by Annemie Arnst, Ingrid González Reyes & MarcD'Hooghe at

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (1)







The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (2)



The present edition of "LES MISÉRABLES," in five volumes, has been madewith the special object of supplying the work in a proper form forlibrary use, embodying the two great requisites, clear type and handysize. It is in the main a reprint of the English translation, in threevolumes, by Sir Lascelles Wraxall, which was made with the sanctionand advice of the author. Chapters and passages omitted in the Englishedition have been specially translated for the present issue; numerouserrors of the press, etc., have been corrected; and the author's ownarrangement of the work in five parts, and his subdivisions into booksand chapters, have been restored.

BOSTON, Sept. 1, 1887.


So long as, by the effect of laws and of customs, social degradationshall continue in the midst of civilization, making artificial hells,and subjecting to the complications of chance the divine destiny ofman; so long as the three problems of the age,—the debasem*nt ofman by the proletariat, the ruin of woman by the force of hunger, thedestruction of children in the darkness,—shall not be solved; so longas anywhere social syncope shall be possible: in other words, and froma still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery shallremain on earth, books like this cannot fail to be useful.













VICTOR HUGO (1828) Vol. I. Frontispiece.

Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

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MARIUS Vol. III. Frontispiece
Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

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Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

"THE DEATH OF JEAN VALJEAN" Vol. V. Frontispiece
Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

Drawn by G. Jeanniot.






In 1815 M. Charles François Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D——. Hewas a man of about seventy-five years of age, and had held the see ofD—— since 1806. Although the following details in no way affect ournarrative, it may not be useless to quote the rumors that were currentabout him at the moment when he came to the diocese, for what is saidof men, whether it be true or false, often occupies as much space intheir life, and especially in their destiny, as what they do. M. Myrielwas the son of a councillor of the Aix Parliament. It was said thathis father, who intended that he should be his successor, married himat the age of eighteen or twenty, according to a not uncommon customin parliamentary families. Charles Myriel, in spite of this marriage(so people said), had been the cause of much tattle. He was wellbuilt, though of short stature, elegant, graceful, and witty; and theearlier part of his life was devoted to the world and to gallantry. TheRevolution came, events hurried on, and the parliamentary families,decimated and hunted down, became dispersed. M. Charles Myrielemigrated to Italy in the early part of the Revolution, and his wife,who had been long suffering from a chest complaint, died there, leavingno children. What next took place in M. Myriel's destiny? Did theoverthrow of the old French society, the fall of his own family, andthe tragic spectacles of '93, more frightful perhaps to the emigrés whosaw them from a distance with the magnifying power of terror, causeideas of renunciation and solitude to germinate in him? Was he, in themidst of one of the distractions and affections which occupied hislife, suddenly assailed by one of those mysterious and terrible blowswhich often prostrate, by striking at his heart, a man whom publiccatastrophes could not overthrow by attacking him in his existence andhis fortune? No one could have answered these questions; all that wasknown was that when he returned from Italy he was a priest.

In 1804 M. Myriel was Curé of B—— (Brignolles). He was already aged,and lived in great retirement. Towards the period of the coronation asmall matter connected with his curacy, no one remembers what, took himto Paris. Among other powerful persons he applied to Cardinal Feschon behalf of his parishioners. One day, when the Emperor was paying avisit to his uncle, the worthy curé, who was waiting in the ante-room,saw his Majesty pass. Napoleon, noticing this old man regard him withsome degree of curiosity, turned and asked sharply,—

"Who is this good man who is staring at me?"

"Sire," M. Myriel said, "you are looking at a good man and I at a greatman. We may both profit by it."

The Emperor, on the same evening, asked the Cardinal the curé's name,and some time after M. Myriel, to his great surprise, learned that hewas nominated Bishop of D——. What truth, by the way, was there in thestories about M. Myriel's early life? No one knew, for few persons hadbeen acquainted with his family before the Revolution. M. Myriel wasfated to undergo the lot of every new comer to a little town, wherethere are many mouths that speak, and but few heads that think. He wasobliged to undergo it, though he was bishop, and because he was bishop.But, after all, the stories in which his name was mingled were onlystories, rumors, words, remarks, less than words, mere palabres, touse a term borrowed from the energetic language of the South. Whateverthey might be, after ten years of episcopacy and residence at D——,all this gossip, which at the outset affords matter of conversation forlittle towns and little people, had fallen into deep oblivion. No onewould have dared to speak of it, no one have dared to remember it.

M. Myriel had arrived at D——, accompanied by an old maid, Mlle.Baptistine, who was his sister, and ten years younger than himself.Their only servant was a female of the same age as Mademoiselle,of the name of Madame Magloire, who, after having been the servantof M. le Curé, now assumed the double title of waiting-woman toMademoiselle, and house-keeper to Monseigneur. Mlle. Baptistine wasa tall, pale, slim, gentle person; she realized the ideal of whatthe word "respectable" expresses, for it seems necessary for a womanto be a mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty,but her whole life, which had been but a succession of pious works,had eventually cast over her a species of whiteness and brightness,and in growing older she had acquired what may be called the beautyof goodness. What had been thinness in her youth had become in hermaturity transparency, and through this transparency the angel could beseen. She seemed to be a shadow, there was hardly enough body for a sexto exist; she was a little quantity of matter containing a light—anexcuse for a soul to remain upon the earth. Madame Magloire was a fair,plump, busy little body, always short of breath,—in the first place,through her activity, and, secondly, in consequence of an asthma.

On his arrival M. Myriel was installed in his episcopal palace with allthe honors allotted by the imperial decrees which classify the Bishopimmediately after a Major-General. The Mayor and the President paid himthe first visit, and he on his side paid the first visit to the Generaland the Prefect. When the installation was ended the town waited to seeits bishop at work.



The Episcopal Palace of D—— adjoined the hospital. It was a spacious,handsome mansion, built at the beginning of the last century byMonseigneur Henri Puget, Doctor in Theology of the Faculty of Paris,and Abbé of Simore, who was Bishop of D—— in 1712. This palace wasa true seigneurial residence: everything had a noble air in it,—theepiscopal apartments, the reception rooms, the bed-rooms, the courtof honor, which was very wide, with arcades after the old Florentinefashion, and the gardens planted with magnificent trees. In thedining-room, a long and superb gallery on the ground floor, MonseigneurHenri Puget had given a state dinner on July 29, 1714, to MesseigneursCharles Brûlart de Genlis, Archbishop, Prince of Embrun; Antoine deMesgrigny, Capuchin and Bishop of Grasse; Philip de Vendôme, GrandPrior of France and Abbé of St. Honoré de Lérins; François de Bertonde Grillon, Baron and Bishop of Vence; Cæsar de Sabran de Forcalquier,Bishop and Lord of Glandève, and Jean Soanen, priest of the oratory,preacher in ordinary to the King, and Bishop and Lord of Senez. Theportraits of these seven reverend personages decorated the dining-room,and the memorable date, JULY 29, 1714, was engraved in golden letterson a white marble tablet.

The hospital was a small, single-storeyed house with a little garden.Three days after his arrival the Bishop visited it, and when his visitwas over asked the Director to be kind enough to come to his house.

"How many patients have you at this moment?" he asked.

"Twenty-six, Monseigneur."

"The number I counted," said the Bishop.

"The beds are very close together," the Director continued.

"I noticed it."

"The wards are only bed-rooms, and difficult to ventilate."

"I thought so."

"And then, when the sun shines, the garden is very small for theconvalescents."

"I said so to myself."

"During epidemics, and we have had the typhus this year, and hadmiliary fever two years ago, we have as many as one hundred patients,and do not know what to do with them."

"That thought occurred to me."

"What would you have, Monseigneur!" the Director said, "we must put upwith it."

This conversation had taken place in the dining-hall on the groundfloor. The Bishop was silent for a moment, and then turned smartly tothe Director.

"How many beds," he asked him, "do you think that this room alone wouldhold?"

"Monseigneur's dining-room?" the stupefied Director asked.

The Bishop looked round the room, and seemed to be estimating itscapacity.

"It would hold twenty beds," he said, as if speaking to himself, andthen, raising his voice, he added,—

"Come, Director, I will tell you what it is. There is evidently amistake. You have twenty-six persons in five or six small rooms. Thereare only three of us, and we have room for fifty. There is a mistake,I repeat; you have my house and I have yours. Restore me mine; this isyours."

The next day the twenty-six poor patients were installed in theBishop's palace, and the Bishop was in the hospital. M. Myriel had noproperty, as his family had been ruined by the Revolution. His sisterhad an annuity of 500 francs, which had sufficed at the curacy forpersonal expenses. M. Myriel, as Bishop, received from the State 15,000francs a year. On the same day that he removed to the hospital, M.Myriel settled the employment of that sum once for all in the followingway. We copy here a note in his own handwriting.


For the little seminary 1500 francs.Congregation of the mission 100 -For the lazarists of Montdidier 100 -Seminary of foreign missions at Paris 200 -Congregation of Saint Esprit 150 -Religious establishments in the Holy Land 100 -Societies of maternal charity 300 -Additional for the one at Aries 50 -Works for improvement of prisons 400 -Relief and deliverance of prisoners 500 -For liberation of fathers of family imprisoned for debt 1000 -Addition to the salary of poor schoolmasters inthe diocese 2000 -Distribution of grain in the Upper Alps 100 -Ladies' Society for gratuitous instruction of poorgirls at D----, Manosque, and Sisteron 1500 -For the poor 6000 -Personal expenses 1000 -Total 15,000 francs

During the whole time he held the see of D——, M. Myriel made nochange in this arrangement. He called this, as we see, regulating hishousehold expenses. The arrangement was accepted with a smile by Mlle.Baptistine, for that sainted woman regarded M. Myriel at once as herbrother and her bishop; her friend according to nature, her superioraccording to the Church. She loved and venerated him in the simplestway. When he spoke she bowed, when he acted she assented. The servantalone, Madame Magloire, murmured a little. The Bishop, it will havebeen noticed, only reserved 1000 francs, and on this sum, with Mlle.Baptistine's pension, these two old women and old man lived. And whena village curé came to D-, the Bishop managed to regale him, thanksto the strict economy of Madame Magloire and the sensible managementof Mlle. Baptistine. One day, when he had been at D—— about threemonths, the Bishop said,—

"For all that, I am dreadfully pressed."

"I should think so," exclaimed Madame Magloire. "Monseigneur has noteven claimed the allowance which the department is bound to pay forkeeping up his carriage in town, and for his visitations. That was thecustom with bishops in other times."

"True," said the Bishop, "you are right, Madame Magloire." He madehis claim, and shortly after the Council-general, taking the demandinto consideration, voted him the annual sum of 3000 francs, under theheading, "Allowance to the Bishop for maintenance of carriage, postingcharges, and outlay in visitations."

This caused an uproar among the cits of the town, and on this occasiona Senator of the Empire, ex-member of the Council of the Five Hundred,favourable to the 18th Brumaire, and holding a magnificent appointmentnear D——, wrote to the Minister of Worship, M. Bigot de Préameneu,a short, angry, and confidential letter, from which we extract theseauthentic lines:

"——Maintenance of carriage! what can he want one for in a town ofless than 4000 inhabitants? Visitation charges! in the first place,what is the good of visitations at all? and, secondly, how can hetravel post in this mountainous country, where there are no roads,and people must travel on horseback? The very bridge over the Duranceat Château Arnoux can hardly bear the weight of a cart drawn by oxen.These priests are all the same, greedy and avaricious! This one playedthe good apostle when he arrived, but now he is like the rest, and musthave his carriage and post-chaise. He wishes to be as luxurious as theold bishops. Oh this priesthood! My Lord, matters will never go on welltill the Emperor has delivered us from the skullcaps. Down with thePope! (there was a quarrel at the time with Rome). As for me, I am forCæsar and Cæsar alone, etc., etc., etc."

The affair, on the other hand, greatly gladdened Madame Magloire."Come," she said to Mlle. Baptistine, "Monseigneur began with others,but he was obliged to finish with himself. He has regulated all hischarities, and here are 3000 francs for us at last!"

The same evening the Bishop wrote, and gave his sister, a noteconceived thus:—


To provide the hospital patients with broth 1500 francs.The society of maternal charity at Aix 250 -The society of maternal charity at Draguignan 250 -For foundlings 500 -For orphans 500 -Total 3000 -

Such was M. Myriel's budget. As for the accidental receipts, suchas fees for bans, christenings, consecrating churches or chapels,marriages, &c., the Bishop collected them from the rich with so muchthe more eagerness because he distributed them to the poor. In a shorttime the monetary offerings became augmented. Those who have and thosewho want tapped at M. Myriel's door, the last coming to seek the almswhich the former had just deposited. The Bishop in less than a yearbecame the treasurer of all charity and the cashier of all distress.Considerable sums passed through his hands, but nothing could inducehim to make any change in his mode of life, or add the slightestsuperfluity to his expenditure.

Far from it, as there is always more wretchedness at the bottom thanpaternity above, all was given, so to speak, before being received;it was like water on dry ground: however much he might receive he hadnever a farthing. At such times he stripped himself. It being thecustom for the bishops to place their Christian names at the head oftheir mandates and pastoral letters, the poor people of the countryhad selected the one among them which conveyed a meaning, and calledhim Monseigneur Welcome (Bienvenu). We will do like them, and call himso when occasion serves. Moreover, the name pleased him. "I like thatname," he would say. "The Welcome corrects the Monseigneur."

We do not assert that the portrait we are here drawing is probably asfar as fiction goes: we confine ourselves to saying that it bears alikeness to the reality.



The Bishop, though he had converted his coach into alms, did not theless make his visitations. The diocese of D—— is fatiguing; thereare few plains and many mountains, and hardly any roads, as we sawjust now: twenty-two curacies, forty-one vicarages, and two hundredand eighty-five chapels of ease. It was a task to visit all these, butthe Bishop managed it. He went on foot when the place was near, in acarriage when it was in the plain, and on a mule when it was in themountains. The two old females generally accompanied him, but when thejourney was too wearying for them he went alone.

One day he arrived at Senez, which is an old Episcopal town, mounted ona donkey; his purse, which was very light at the time, had not allowedhim any other equipage. The Mayor of the city came to receive him atthe door of the Bishop's Palace, and saw him dismount with scandalizedeyes. A few cits were laughing round him. "M. Mayor and gentlemen," theBishop said, "I see what it is that scandalizes you. You consider itgreat pride for a poor priest to ride an animal which our Saviour onceupon a time bestrode. I did so through necessity, I assure you, and notthrough vanity."

On his tours the Bishop was indulgent and gentle, and preached lessthan he conversed. His reasonings and models were never far-fetched,and to the inhabitants of one country he quoted the example of anadjacent country. In those cantons where people were harsh to the needyhe would say, "Look at the people of Briançon. They have given theindigent, the widows, and the orphans, the right of mowing their fieldsthree days before all the rest. They rebuild their houses gratuitouslywhen they are in ruins. Hence it is a country blessed of GOD. For onehundred years not a single murder has been committed there." To thoseeager for grain and good crops, he said, "Look at the people of Embrun.If a father of a family at harvest-time has his sons in the army, hisdaughters serving in the town, or if he be ill or prevented from toil,the Curé recommends him in his sermon; and on Sunday after Mass allthe villagers, men, women, and children, go into his field, and cutand carry home his crop." To families divided by questions of money orinheritance he said, "Look at the Highlanders of Devolny, a countryso wild that the nightingale is not heard once in fifty years. Well,when the father of a family dies there the boys go off to seek theirfortune, and leave the property to the girls, so that they may obtainhusbands." In those parts where the farmers are fond of lawsuits, andruin themselves in writs, he would say, "Look at those good peasants ofthe valley of Queyras. There are three thousand souls there. Why, itis like a little republic. Neither judge nor bailiff is known there,and the Mayor does everything. He divides the imposts, taxes everybodyconscientiously, settles quarrels gratis, allots patrimonies withoutfees, gives sentences without costs, and is obeyed because he is a justman among simple men." In villages where there was no schoolmaster heagain quoted the people of Queyras. "Do you know what they do? As asmall place, containing only twelve or fifteen hearths, cannot alwayssupport a master, they have schoolmasters paid by the whole valley,who go from village to village, spending a week in one, ten days inanother, and teaching. These masters go the fairs, where I have seenthem. They can be recognized by the pens they carry in their hat-band.Those who only teach reading have but one pen: those who teach readingand arithmetic have two: those who teach reading, arithmetic, andLatin, have three. But what a disgrace it is to be ignorant! Do likethe people of Queyras."

He spoke thus, gravely and paternally. When examples failed him heinvented parables, going straight to the point, with few phrases and agood deal of imagery. His was the eloquence of the Apostles, convincingand persuading.



The Bishop's conversation was affable and lively. He condescended tothe level of the two old females who spent their life near him, andwhen he laughed it was a schoolboy's laugh. Madame Magloire was fondof calling him "Your Grandeur." One day he rose from his easy chairand went to fetch a book from his library: as it was on one of the topshelves, and as the Bishop was short, he could not reach it "MadameMagloire," he said, "bring me a chair, for my Grandeur does not rise tothat shelf."

One of his distant relatives, the Countess de Lô, rarely let anopportunity slip to enumerate in his presence what she called the"hopes" of her three sons. She had several very old relatives close todeath's door, of whom her sons were the natural heirs. The youngestof the three would inherit from a great-aunt 100,000 francs a year;the second would succeed to his uncle's dukedom, the third to hisgrandfather's peerage. The Bishop generally listened in silence to thisinnocent and pardonable maternal display. Once, however, he seemed moredreamy than usual, while Madame de Lô was repeating all the detailsof their successions and "hopes." She broke off somewhat impatiently."Good gracious, cousin," she said, "what are you thinking, about?" "Iam thinking," said the Bishop, "of something singular, which, if mymemory is right, is in St. Augustine. Place your hopes in the man towhom it is impossible to succeed."

On another occasion, receiving a letter announcing the death of acountry gentleman, in which, in addition to the dignities of thedefunct, all the feudal and noble titles of all his relatives wererecorded,—"What a back death has! what an admirable burthen of titleshe is made lightly to bear," he exclaimed, "and what sense men mustpossess thus to employ the tomb in satisfying their vanity."

He displayed at times a gentle raillery, which nearly always containeda serious meaning. During one Lent a young vicar came to D—— andpreached at the cathedral. He was rather eloquent, and the subject ofhis sermon was charity. He invited the rich to give to the needy inorder to escape hell, which he painted in the most frightful way hecould, and reach paradise, which he made desirable and charming. Therewas among the congregation a rich, retired merchant, somewhat of ausurer, who had acquired two million francs by manufacturing coarsecloths, serges, and caddis. In his whole life-time M. Géborand hadnever given alms to a beggar, but after this sermon it was remarkedthat he gave every Sunday a sou to the old women begging at thecathedral gate. There were six of them to share it. One day the Bishopsaw him bestowing his charity, and said to his sister, with a smile,"Look at M. Géborand buying heaven for a sou."

When it was a question of charity he would not let himself be rebuffedeven by a refusal, and at such times made remarks which caused peopleto reflect. Once he was collecting for the poor in a drawing-roomof the town. The Marquis de Champtercier was present, a rich oldavaricious man, who contrived to be at once ultra-Royalist andultra-Voltairian. This variety has existed. The Bishop on reaching himtouched his arm, "Monsieur le Marquis, you must give me something." TheMarquis turned and answered dryly: "I have my own poor, Monseigneur.""Give them to me," said the Bishop. One day he delivered the followingsermon at the cathedral:—

"My very dear brethren, my good friends, there are in France thirteenhundred and twenty thousand peasants' houses which have only threeopenings; eighteen hundred and seventeen thousand which have only twoopenings, the door and the window; and, lastly, three hundred andforty-six thousand cabins which have only one opening, the door, andthis is because of a thing called the door and window tax. Just placepoor families, aged women and little children, in these houses, andthen see the fevers and maladies! Alas! God gives men fresh air, andthe law sells it to them. I do not accuse the law, but I bless God. Inthe Isère, in the Var, in the two Alps, Upper and Lower, the peasantshave not even trucks, but carry manure on their backs: they have nocandles, and burn resinous logs and pieces of rope steeped in pitch. Itis the same through all the high parts of Dauphiné. They make bread forsix months, and bake it with dried cow-dung. In winter they break thisbread with axes and steep it in water for four-and-twenty hours beforethey can eat it. Brethren, have pity, see how people suffer around you!"

A Provençal by birth, he easily accustomed himself to all the dialectsof the South: this greatly pleased the people, and had done no littlein securing him admission to all minds. He was, as it were, at homein the hut and on the mountain. He could say the grandest things inthe most vulgar idioms, and as he spoke all languages he entered allhearts. However, he was the same to people of fashion as to the lowerclasses.

He never condemned anything hastily or without taking the circ*mstancesinto calculation. He would say, Let us look at the road by which thefault has come. Being, as he called himself with a smile, an ex-sinner,he had none of the intrenchments of rigorism, and, careless of thefrowns of the unco' good, professed loudly a doctrine which might besummed up nearly as follows,—

"Man has upon him the flesh which is at once his burden and histemptation. He carries it with him and yields to it. He must watch,restrain, and repress it, and only obey it in the last extremity. Inthis obedience there may still be a fault: but the fault thus committedis venial. It is a fall, but a fall on the knees, which may end inprayer. To be a saint is the exception, to be a just man is the rule.Err, fail, sin, but be just. The least possible amount of sin is thelaw of man: no sin at all is the dream of angels. All that is earthlyis subjected to sin, for sin is a gravitation."

When he saw everybody cry out and grow indignant, all of a sudden, hewould say with a smile, "Oh! oh, it seems as if this is a great crimewhich all the world is committing. Look at the startled hypocrites,hastening to protest and place themselves under cover."

He was indulgent to the women and the poor on whom the weight ofhuman society presses. He would say, "The faults of women, children,servants, the weak, the indigent, and the ignorant are the fault ofhusbands, fathers, masters, the strong, the rich, and the learned." Healso said, "Teach the ignorant as much as you possibly can: society isculpable for not giving instruction gratis, and is responsible for thenight it produces. This soul is full of darkness, and sin is committed,but the guilty person is not the man who commits the sin, but he whoproduces the darkness."

As we see, he had a strange manner, peculiarly his own, of judgingthings. I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospels. He one dayheard in a drawing-room the story of a trial which was shortly to takeplace. A wretched man, through love of a woman and a child he had byher, having exhausted his resources, coined false money, which atthat period was an offence punished by death. The woman was arrestedwhile issuing the first false piece manufactured by the man. She wasdetained, but there was no proof against her. She alone could accuseher lover and ruin him by confessing. She denied. They pressed her, butshe adhered to her denial. Upon this, the attorney for the crown hadan idea: he feigned infidelity on the lover's part, and contrived, bycleverly presenting the woman with fragments of letters, to persuadeher that she had a rival, and that the man was deceiving her. Then,exasperated by jealousy, she denounced her lover, confessed everything,proved everything. The man was ruined, and would shortly be tried withhis accomplice at Aix. The story was told, and everybody was delightedat the magistrate's cleverness. By bringing jealousy into play hebrought out the truth through passion, and obtained justice throughrevenge. The Bishop listened to all this in silence, and when it wasended he asked: "Where will this man and woman be tried?" "At theassizes." Then he continued, "And where will the attorney for the crownbe tried?"

A tragical event occurred at D——. A man was condemned to death formurder. He was a wretched fellow, not exactly educated, not exactlyignorant, who had been a mountebank at fairs and a public writer. Thetrial attracted the attention of the towns-people. On the eve of theday fixed for the execution the prison chaplain was taken ill, anda priest was wanted to assist the sufferer in his last moments. TheCuré was sent for, and it seems that he refused, saying, "It is nobusiness of mine, I have nothing to do with the mountebank, I am illtoo, and besides, that is not my place." This answer was carried tothe Bishop, who said, "The Curé is right, it is not his place, it ismine." He went straight to the prison, entered the mountebank's cell,called him by name, took his hand, and spoke to him. He spent the wholeday with him, forgetting sleep and food while praying to God for thesoul of the condemned man. He told him the best truths, which are themost simple. He was father, brother, friend—bishop only to bless.He taught him everything, while reassuring and consoling him. Thisman was about to die in desperation: death was to him like an abyss,and he shuddered as he stood on its gloomy brink. He was not ignorantenough to be completely indifferent, and his condemnation, which was aprofound shock, had here and there broken through that partition whichseparates us from the mystery of things, and which we call life. Hepeered incessantly out of this world through these crevices, and onlysaw darkness; but the Bishop showed him a light.

On the morrow, when they came to fetch the condemned man, the Bishopwas with him. He followed him, and showed himself to the mob in hispurple cassock, and with the episcopal cross round his neck, side byside with this rope-bound wretch. He entered the cart with him, hemounted the scaffold with him. The sufferer, so gloomy and crushed onthe previous day, was radiant; he felt that his soul was reconciled,and he hoped for heaven. The Bishop embraced him, and at the momentwhen the knife was about to fall, said: "The man whom his fellow-menkill, God resuscitates. He whom his brothers expel finds the Fatheragain. Pray, believe, enter into life! The Father is there!" When hedescended from the scaffold there was something in his glance whichmade the people open a path for him; it was impossible to say whetherhis pallor or his serenity were the more admirable. On returning tothe humble abode, which he called smilingly his palace, he said to hissister: "I have just been officiating pontifically."

As the most sublime things are often those least understood, there werepersons in the town who said, in commenting on the Bishop's conduct,"It is affectation." This, however, was only the talk of drawing-rooms;the people who do not regard holy actions with suspicion were affected,and admired. As for the Bishop, the sight of the guillotine was a shockto him, and it was long ere he recovered from it.

The scaffold, in fact, when it stands erect before you, has somethingabout it that hallucinates. We may feel a certain amount ofindifference about the punishment of death, not express an opinion,and say yes or no, so long as we have never seen a guillotine; butwhen we have come across one the shock is violent, and we must decideeither for or against. Some admire it, like De Maistre, others execrateit, like Beccaria. The guillotine is the concretion of the law, itcalls itself vindicta; it is not neutral, and does not allow you toremain neutral. The person who perceives it shudders with the mostmysterious of shudders. All the social questions raise their notes ofinterrogation round this cutter. The scaffold is a vision, it is notcarpenter's work, it is not a machine, it is not a lifeless mechanismmade of wood, steel, and ropes. It seems to be a species of beingpossessing a gloomy intuition; you might say that the wood-work lives,that the machine hears, that the mechanism understands, that the wood,the steel, and the ropes, have a volition. In the frightful reverieinto which its presence casts the mind the scaffold appears terrible,and mixed up with what it does. The scaffold is the accomplice of theexecutioner; it devours, it eats flesh and drinks blood. The scaffoldis a species of monster, manufactured by the judge and the carpenter,a spectre that seems to live a sort of horrible life made up of allthe death it has produced. Hence the impression was terrible anddeep; on the day after the execution, and for many days beyond, theBishop appeared crushed. The almost violent serenity of the mournfulmoment had departed; the phantom of social justice haunted him. He whousually returned from all his duties with such radiant satisfactionseemed to be reproaching himself. At times he soliloquized, andstammered unconnected sentences in a low voice. Here is one which hissister overheard and treasured up: "I did not believe that it was somonstrous. It is wrong to absorb oneself in the divine law so greatlyas no longer to perceive the human law. Death belongs to God alone. Bywhat right do men touch that unknown thing?"

With time these impressions were attenuated, and perhaps effaced. Stillit was noticed that from this period the Bishop avoided crossing theexecution square.

M. Myriel might be called at any hour to the bedside of the sick andthe dying. He was not ignorant that his greatest duty and greatestlabor lay there. Widowed or orphaned families had no occasion to sendfor him, for he came of himself. He had the art of sitting down andholding his tongue for hours by the side of a man who had lost the wifehe loved, or of a mother bereaved of her child. As he knew the time tobe silent, he also knew the time to speak. What an admirable consolerhe was! he did not try to efface grief by oblivion, but to aggrandizeand dignify it by hope. He would say: "Take care of the way in whichyou turn to the dead. Do not think of that which perishes. Lookfixedly, and you will perceive the living light of your beloved dead inheaven." He knew that belief is healthy, and he sought to counsel andcalm the desperate man by pointing out to him the resigned man, and totransform the grief that gazes at a grave by showing it the grief thatlooks at a star.



M. Myriel's domestic life was full of the same thoughts as his publiclife. To any one who could inspect it closely, the voluntary poverty inwhich the Bishop lived would have been a solemn and charming spectacle.Like all old men, and like most thinkers, he slept little, but thatshort sleep was deep. In the morning he remained in contemplation foran hour, and then read mass either at the cathedral or in his house.Mass over, he breakfasted on rye bread dipped in the milk of his owncows. Then he set to work.

A bishop is a very busy man. He must daily receive the secretary to thebishopric, who is generally a canon, and almost every day his grandvicars. He has congregations to control, permissions to grant, a wholeecclesiastical library to examine, in the shape of diocesan catechisms,books of hours, etc.; mandates to write, sermons to authorize, curésand mayors to reconcile, a clerical correspondence, an administrativecorrespondence, on one side the State, on the other the Holy See; ina word, a thousand tasks. The time which these thousand tasks, hisoffices, and his breviary left him, he gave first to the needy, thesick, and the afflicted; the time which the afflicted, the sick, andthe needy left him he gave to work. Sometimes he hoed in his garden, atothers he read and wrote. He had only one name for both sorts of labor,he called them gardening. "The mind is a garden," he would say.

Toward mid-day, when the weather was fine, he went out and walked inthe country or the town, frequently entering the cottages. He could beseen walking alone in deep thought, looking down, leaning on his longcane, dressed in his violet wadded and warm great coat, with his violetstockings thrust into clumsy shoes, and wearing his flat hat, througheach corner of which were passed three golden acorns as tassels. Itwas a festival wherever he appeared, it seemed as if his passing hadsomething warming and luminous about it; old men and children came tothe door to greet the Bishop as they did the sun. He blessed them andthey blessed him, and his house was pointed out to anybody who was inwant of anything. Now and then he stopped, spoke to the little boysand girls, and smiled on their mothers. He visited the poor so long ashe had any money; when he had none he visited the rich. As he made hiscassocks last a long time, and he did not wish the fact to be noticed,he never went into town save in his wadded violet coat. This was rathertiresome in summer.

On returning home he dined. The dinner resembled the breakfast. Athalf-past eight in the evening he supped with his sister, MadameMagloire standing behind them and waiting on them. Nothing could bemore frugal than this meal; but if the Bishop had a curé to supper,Madame Magloire would take advantage of it to serve Monseigneur withsome excellent fish from the lake, or famous game from the mountain.Every curé was the excuse for a good meal, and the Bishop held histongue. On other occasions his repast only consisted of vegetablesboiled in water and soup made with oil. Hence it was said in the town:"When the Bishop does not fare like a curé he fares like a trappist."

After supper he conversed for half an hour with Mlle. Baptistine andMadame Magloire; then he returned to his room and began writing again,either on loose leaves or on the margin of some folio. He was wellread, and a bit of a savant, and has left five or six curious MSS.on theological subjects, among others a dissertation on the verse fromGenesis, "In the beginning the Spirit of God moved upon the face of thewaters." He compared this verse with three texts,—the Arabic, whichsays, "The winds of God breathed;" Flavius Josephus, who said, "A windfrom on high fell upon the earth;" and lastly the Chaldaic of Onkelos,"A wind coming from God breathed on the face of the waters." In anotherdissertation he examines the works of Hugo, Bishop of Ptolemaïs,great-grand-uncle of him who writes this book, and he proves that tothis bishop must be attributed the various opuscules published in thelast century under the pseudonym of Barleycourt. At times, in the midstof his reading, no matter what book he held in his hands, he wouldsuddenly fall into a deep meditation, from which he only emerged towrite a few lines on the pages of the book. These lines have frequentlyno connection with the book that contains them. We have before us anote written by him on the margin of a quarto entitled, "Correspondenceof Lord Germain with Generals Clinton and Cornwallis, and the Admiralsof the American Station. Versailles, Prinçot; and Paris, Pissot, Quaides Augustins." Here is the note.

"O thou who art! Ecclesiastes calls you Omnipotence; the Maccabees callyou Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls you Liberty; Baruchcalls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom and Truth; St. Johncalls you Light; the Book of Kings calls you Lord; Exodus calls youProvidence; Leviticus, Holiness; Esdras, Justice; Creation calls youGod; man calls you the Father; but Solomon calls you Mercy, and that isthe fairest of all your names."

About nine o'clock the two females withdrew and went up to theirbed-rooms on the first floor, leaving him alone till morning on theground floor. Here it is necessary that we should give an exact idea ofthe Bishop's residence.



The house the Bishop resided in consisted, as we have said, of a groundfloor and one above it, three rooms on the ground, three bed-rooms onthe first floor, and above them a store-room. Behind the house wasa quarter of an acre of garden. The two females occupied the firstfloor, and the Bishop lodged below. The first room, which opened onthe street, served him as dining-room, the second as bed-room, thethird as oratory. You could not get out of the oratory without passingthrough the bed-room, or out of the bed-room without passing throughthe sitting-room. At the end of the oratory was a closed alcove with abed, for any one who stayed the night, and the Bishop offered this bedto country curés whom business or the calls of their parish brought toD——.

The hospital surgery, a small building added to the house and built ona part of the garden, had been transformed into kitchen and cellar.There was also in the garden a stable, which had been the old hospitalkitchen, and in which the Bishop kept two cows. Whatever the quantityof milk they yielded, he invariably sent one half every morning to thehospital patients. "I am paying my tithes," he was wont to say.

His room was rather spacious, and very difficult to heat in the coldweather. As wood is excessively dear at D——, he hit on the ideaof partitioning off with planks a portion of the cow-house. Here hespent his evenings during the great frosts, and called it his "winterdrawing-room." In this room, as in the dining-room, there was noother furniture but a square deal table and four straw chairs. Thedining-room was also adorned with an old buffet stained to imitaterosewood. The Bishop had made the altar which decorated his oratory outof a similar buffet, suitably covered with white cloths and imitationlace. His rich penitents and the religious ladies of D—— had oftensubscribed to pay for a handsome new altar for Monseigneur's oratory;each time he took the money and gave it to the poor. "The finest of allaltars," he would say, "is the soul of an unhappy man who is consoledand thanks God."

There were in his oratory two straw priedieus, and an arm-chair, alsoof straw, in his bed-room. When he by chance received seven or eightpersons at the same time, the Prefect, the General, the staff of theregiment quartered in the town, or some pupils of the Lower Seminary,it was necessary to fetch the chairs from the winter drawing-room, thepriedieus from the oratory, and the easy chair from the bed-room: inthis way as many as eleven seats could be collected for the visitors.At each new visit a room was unfurnished. It happened at times thatthere would be twelve; in such a case the Bishop concealed theembarrassing nature of the situation by standing before the chimney ifit were winter, or walking up and down the room were it summer.

There was also another chair in the alcove, but it was half robbed ofthe straw, and had only three legs to stand on, so that it could onlybe used when resting against a wall. Mlle. Baptistine also had in herbed-room a very large settee of wood, which had once been gilt andcovered with flowered chintz, but it had been necessary to raise thissettee to the first floor through the window, owing to the narrownessof the stairs: and hence it could not be reckoned on in any emergency.It had been Mlle. Baptistine's ambition to buy drawing-room furnitureof mahogany and covered with yellow Utrecht velvet, but this would havecost at least 500 francs, and seeing that she had only succeeded insaving for this object 42 francs 5 sous in five years, she gave up theidea. Besides, who is there that ever attains his ideal?

Nothing more simple can be imagined than the Bishop's bed-room. Along window opening on the garden; opposite the bed, an iron hospitalbed with a canopy of green serge; in the shadow of the bed, behind acurtain, toilet articles, still revealing the old elegant habits of theman of fashion; two doors, one near the chimney leading to the oratory,the other near the library leading to the dining-room. The librarywas a large glass case full of books; the chimney of wood, painted toimitate marble, was habitually fireless; in the chimney were a pairof iron andirons ornamented with two vases, displaying garlands andgrooves which had once been silvered, which was a species of episcopalluxury; over the chimney a crucifix of unsilvered copper fastened tothreadbare black velvet, in a frame which had lost its gilding; nearthe window was a large table with an inkstand, loaded with irregularlyarranged papers and heavy tomes; before the table the straw arm-chair;in front of the bed a priedieu borrowed from the oratory.

Two portraits, in oval frames, hung on the wall on either side ofthe bed. Small gilded inscriptions on the neutral tinted ground ofthe canvas by the side of the figures indicated that the portraitsrepresented, one the Abbé de Chaliot, Bishop of St. Claude; the otherthe Abbé Tourteau, Vicar-general of Agde, and Abbé of Grand Champs,belonging to the Cistertian order in the diocese of Chartres. TheBishop, on succeeding to the hospital infirmary, found the picturesthere and left them. They were priests, probably donors,—two motivesfor him to respect them. All he knew of the two personages was thatthey had been nominated by the King, the one to his bishopric, theother to his benefice, on the same day, April 27, 1785. Madame Magloirehaving unhooked the portraits to remove the dust, the Bishop found thiscirc*mstance recorded in faded ink on a small square of paper whichtime had turned yellow, and fastened by four wafers behind the portraitof the Abbé of Grand Champs.

He had at his window an antique curtain of heavy woollen stuff, whichhad grown so old that Madame Magloire, in order to avoid the expenseof a new one, was obliged to make a large seam in the very middle ofit. The seam formed a cross, and the Bishop often drew attention toit. "How pleasant that is," he would say. All the rooms in the house,ground floor and first floor, were white-washed, which is a barrack andhospital fashion. Still, some years later, Madame Magloire discovered,as we shall see further on, paintings under the white-washed paper, inMlle. Baptistine's bed-room. The rooms were paved with red bricks whichwere washed every week, and there were straw mats in front of all thebeds. This house, moreover, managed by two females, was exquisitelyclean from top to bottom. This was the only luxury the Bishop allowedhimself, for, as he said, "It takes nothing from the poor." We mustallow, however, that of the old property there still remained sixsilver spoons and forks and a soup-ladle, which Madame Magloire dailysaw with delight shining splendidly on the coarse white table-cloth.And as we are here depicting the Bishop of D—— as he was, we mustadd that he had said, more than once, "I do not think I could give upeating with silver." To this plate must be added two heavy candlesticksof massive silver, which the Bishop inherited from a great-aunt. Thesebranched candlesticks each held two wax candles, and usually figured onthe Bishop's chimney. When he had any one to dinner, Madame Magloirelit the candles and placed the two candlesticks on the table. There wasin the Bishop's bed-room, at the head of his bed, a small cupboard inthe wall, in which Madame Magloire each night placed the plate and thelarge ladle. I am bound to add that the key was never taken out.

The garden, spoiled to some extent by the ugly buildings to which wehave referred, was composed of four walks, radiating round a cesspool;another walk ran all round the garden close to the surrounding whitewall. Between these walks were four box-bordered squares. In three ofthem Madame Magloire grew vegetables; in the fourth the Bishop hadplaced flowers; here and there were a few fruit-trees. Once MadameMagloire had said, with a sort of gentle malice, "Monseigneur, althoughyou turn everything to use, here is an unemployed plot. It would bebetter to have lettuces there than bouquets." "Madame Magloire," theBishop answered, "you are mistaken; the beautiful is as useful as theuseful." He added, after a moment's silence, "More so, perhaps."

This square, composed of three or four borders, occupied the Bishopalmost as much as his books did. He liked to spend an hour or twothere, cutting, raking, and digging holes in which he placed seeds.He was not so hostile to insects as a gardener would have liked.However, he made no pretensions to botany; he was ignorant of groupsand solidism; he did not make the slightest attempt to decide betweenTournefort and the natural method; he was not a partisan either ofJussieu or Linnæus. He did not study plants, but he loved flowers. Hegreatly respected the professors, but he respected the ignorant evenmore; and without ever failing in this respect, he watered his bordersevery summer evening with a green-painted tin pot.

The house had not a single door that locked. The door of thedining-room, which, as we said, opened right on the cathedral square,had formerly been adorned with bolts and locks like a prison gate.The Bishop had all this iron removed, and the door was only haspedeither night or day: the first passer-by, no matter the hour, had onlyto push it. At the outset the two females had been greatly alarmedby this never-closed door; but the Bishop said to them, "Have boltsplaced on the doors of your rooms if you like." In the end they sharedhis confidence, or at least affected to do so: Madame Magloire alonewas from time to time alarmed. As regards the Bishop, his idea isexplained, or at least indicated, by these three lines, which he wroteon the margin of a Bible: "This is the distinction: the physician'sdoors must never be closed, the priest's door must always be open." Onanother book, entitled "Philosophy of Medical Science," he wrote thisother note: "Am I not a physician like them? I also have my patients:in the first place, I have theirs, whom they call the sick, and then Ihave my own, whom I call the unhappy." Elsewhere he also wrote: "Do notask the name of the man who seeks a bed from you, for it is before allthe man whom his name embarrasses that needs an asylum."

It came about that a worthy curé—I forget whether it were he ofCouloubroux or he of Pompierry—thought proper to ask him one day,probably at the instigation of Madame Magloire, whether Monseigneurwas quite certain that he was not acting to some extent imprudently byleaving his door open day and night for any who liked to enter, andif he did not fear lest some misfortune might happen in a house sopoorly guarded. The Bishop tapped his shoulder with gentle gravity, andsaid to him, "Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant quicustodiunt eam."

Then he spoke of something else. He was fond of saying too, "There isthe Priest's bravery as well as that of the Colonel of Dragoons. Theonly thing is that ours must be quiet."



Here naturally comes a fact which we must not omit, for it is one ofthose which will enable us to see what manner of man the Bishop ofD—— was. After the destruction of the band of Gaspard Bès, which hadinfested the gorges of Ollioules, Cravatte, one of his lieutenants,took refuge in the mountains. He concealed himself for a while with hisbrigands, the remnant of Bès' band, in the county of Nice, then wentto Piedmont, and suddenly re-appeared in France, via Barcelonnette. Hewas seen first at Jauziers, and next at Tuiles; he concealed himselfin the caverns of the Joug de l'Aigle, and descended thence on thehamlets and villages by the ravines of the Ubaye. He pushed on even asfar as Embrun, entered the church one night and plundered the sacristy.His brigandage desolated the country, and the gendarmes were in vainplaced on his track. He constantly escaped, and at times even offeredresistance, for he was a bold scoundrel. In the midst of all thisterror the Bishop arrived on his visitation, and the Mayor came to himand urged him to turn back. Cravatte held the mountain as far as Archeand beyond, and there was danger, even with an escort. It would beuselessly exposing three or four unhappy gendarmes.

"For that reason," said the Bishop, "I intend to go without escort."

"Can you mean it, Monseigneur?" the Mayor exclaimed.

"I mean it so fully that I absolutely refuse gendarmes, and intend tostart in an hour."

"Monseigneur, you will not do that!"

"There is in the mountain," the Bishop continued, "a humble littleparish, which I have not visited for three years. They are good friendsof mine, and quiet and honest shepherds. They are the owners of onegoat out of every thirty they guard; they make very pretty woollenropes of different colors, and they play mountain airs on smallsix-holed flutes. They want to hear about heaven every now and then,and what would they think of a bishop who was afraid? What would theysay if I did not go?"

"But, Monseigneur, the brigands."

"Ah," said the Bishop, "you are right; I may meet them. They too mustwant to hear about heaven."

"But this band is a flock of wolves."

"Monsieur Mayor, it may be that this is precisely the flock of whichChrist has made me the shepherd. Who knows the ways of Providence?"

"Monseigneur, they will plunder you."

"I have nothing."

"They will kill you."

"A poor old priest who passes by, muttering his mummery? Nonsense, whatgood would that do them?"

"Oh, good gracious, if you were to meet them!"

"I would ask them for alms for my poor."

"Monseigneur, do not go. In Heaven's name do not, for you expose yourlife."

"My good sir," said the Bishop, "is that all? I am not in this world tosave my life, but to save souls."

There was no help for it, and he set out only accompanied by a lad,who offered to act as his guide. His obstinacy created a sensation inthe country, and caused considerable alarm. He would not take eitherhis sister or Madame Magloire with him. He crossed the mountain on amule, met nobody, and reached his good friends the goat-herds safe andsound. He remained with them a fortnight, preaching, administering thesacraments, teaching, and moralizing. When he was ready to start forhome he resolved to sing a Te Deum pontifically, and spoke about it tothe Curé. But what was to be done? There were no episcopal ornaments.All that could be placed at his disposal was a poor village sacristy,with a few old faded and pinchbeck covered chasubles.

"Pooh!" said the Bishop; "announce the Te Deum in your sermon for allthat. It will come right in the end."

Inquiries were made in the surrounding churches: but all themagnificence of these united humble parishes would not have beensufficient decently to equip a cathedral chorister. While they were inthis embarrassment a large chest was brought and left at the curacy forthe Bishop by two strange horse-men, who started again at once. Thechest was opened and found to contain a cope of cloth of gold, a mitreadorned with diamonds, an archiepiscopal cross, a magnificent crozier,and all the pontifical robes stolen a month back from the treasury ofour Lady of Embrun. In the chest was a paper on which were writtenthese words: "Cravatte to Monseigneur Welcome."

"Did I not tell you that it would be all right?" the Bishop said; thenhe added with a smile, "God sends an archbishop's cope to a man who iscontented with a curé's surplice."

"Monseigneur," the Curé muttered, with a gentle shake of his head,"God—or the devil."

The Bishop looked fixedly at the Curé and repeated authoritatively,"God!"

When he returned to Chastelon, and all along the road, he was regardedcuriously. He found at the Presbytery of that town Mlle. Baptistine andMadame Magloire waiting for him, and he said to his sister, "Well, wasI right? The poor priest went among these poor mountaineers with emptyhands, and returns with his hands full. I started only taking with memy confidence in Heaven, and I bring back the treasures of a cathedral."

The same evening before retiring he said too, "Never let us fearrobbers or murderers. These are external and small dangers; let us fearourselves; prejudices are the real robbers, vices the true murderers.The great dangers are within ourselves. Let us not trouble about whatthreatens our head or purse, and only think of what threatens oursoul." Then, turning to his sister, he added, "Sister, a priest oughtnever to take precautions against his neighbor. What his neighbordoes God permits, so let us confine ourselves to praying to God whenwe believe that a danger is impending over us. Let us pray, not forourselves, but that our brother may not fall into error on our account."

Events, however, were rare in his existence. We relate those we know,but ordinarily he spent his life in always doing the same things at thesame moment. A month of his year resembled an hour of his day. As towhat became of the treasure of Embrun Cathedral, we should be greatlyembarrassed if questioned on that head. There were many fine things,very tempting and famous to steal on behalf of the poor. Stolen theywere already, one moiety of the adventure was accomplished: the onlything left to do was to change the direction of the robbery, and makeit turn slightly towards the poor. Still, we affirm nothing on thesubject; we merely mention that among the Bishop's papers a ratherobscure note was found, which probably refers to this question, and wasthus conceived: "The question is to know whether it ought to go to thecathedral or the hospital."



The Senator, to whom we have already alluded, was a skilful man,who had made his way with a rectitude that paid no attention to allthose things which constitute obstacles, and are called conscience,plighted word, right, and duty: he had gone straight to his objectwithout once swerving from the line of his promotions and his interest.He was an ex-procureur, softened by success, anything but a wickedman, doing all the little services in his power for his sons, hissons-in-law, his relatives, and even his friends: he had selected thebest opportunities, and the rest seemed to him something absurd. He waswitty, and just sufficiently lettered to believe himself a discipleof Epicurus, while probably only a product of Pigault Lebrun. He wasfond of laughing pleasantly at things infinite and eternal, and at thecrotchets "of our worthy Bishop." He even laughed at them with amiableauthority in M. Myriel's presence. On some semi-official occasion theCount—(this Senator) and M. Myriel met at the Prefect's table. At thedessert the Senator, who was merry but quite sober, said,—

"Come, Bishop, let us have a chat. A senator and a bishop can hardlymeet without winking at each other, for we are two augurs, and I amabout to make a confession to you. I have my system of philosophy."

"And you are right," the Bishop answered; "as you make your philosophy,so you must lie on it. You are on the bed of purple."

The Senator, thus encouraged, continued,—"Let us be candid."


"I declare to you," the Senator went on, "that the Marquis d'Argens,Pyrrho, Hobbes, and Naigeon are no impostors. I have in my library allmy philosophers with gilt backs."

"Like yourself, Count," the Bishop interrupted him.

The Senator proceeded,—

"I hate Diderot; he is an ideologist, a declaimer, and a revolutionist,believing in his heart in Deity, and more bigoted than Voltaire. Thelatter ridiculed Needham, and was wrong, for Needham's eels prove thatGod is unnecessary. A drop of vinegar in a spoonful of flour suppliesthe fiat lux; suppose the drop larger, and the spoonful bigger, andyou have the world. Man is the eel; then, of what use is the EternalFather? My dear Bishop, the Jehovah hypothesis wearies me; it is onlyfitted to produce thin people who think hollow. Down with the greatAll which annoys me! Long live Zero, who leaves me at peace! Betweenourselves, and in order to confess to my pastor, as is right andproper, I confess to you that I possess common sense. I am not wildabout your Saviour, who continually preaches abnegation and sacrifice.It is advice offered by a miser to beggars. Abnegation, why? Sacrifice,for what object? I do not see that one wolf sacrifices itself to causethe happiness of another wolf. Let us, therefore, remain in nature.We are at the summit, so let us have the supreme philosophy. What isthe use of being at the top, if you cannot see further than the end ofother people's noses? Let us live gayly, for life is all in all. Asfor man having a future elsewhere, up there, down there, somewhere,I do not believe a syllable of it. Oh yes! recommend sacrifices andabnegation to me. I must take care of all I do. I must rack my brainsabout good and evil, justice and injustice, fas et nefas. Why so?because I shall have to give account for my actions. When? after mydeath. What a fine dream! after death! He will be a clever fellow whocatches me. Just think of a lump of ashes seized by a shadowy hand. Letus speak the truth, we who are initiated and have raised the skirt ofIsis; there is no good, no evil, but there is vegetation. Let us seekreality and go to the bottom; hang it all, we must scent the truth,dig into the ground for it and seize it. Then it offers you exquisitedelights; then you become strong and laugh. I am square at the base,my dear Bishop, and human immortality is a thing which anybody wholikes may listen to. Oh! what a charming prospect! What a fine billetAdam has! You are a soul, you will be an angel, and have blue wingson your shoulder-blades. Come, help me, is it not Tertullian who saysthat the blessed will go from one planet to the other? Very good; theywill be the grasshoppers of the planets. And then they will see God;Ta, ta, ta. These paradises are all nonsense, and God is a monstrousfable. I would not say so in the Moniteur, of course, but I whisperit between friends, inter pocula. Sacrificing the earth for paradiseis giving up the substance for the shadow. I am not such an ass as tobe the dupe of the Infinite. I am nothing, my name is Count Nothing,Senator. Did I exist before my birth? no; shall I exist after my death?no. What am I? a little dust aggregated by an organism. What have I todo on this earth? I have the choice between suffering and enjoyment.To what will suffering lead me? to nothingness, but I shall havesuffered. To what will enjoyment lead me? to nothingness, but I shallhave enjoyed. My choice is made; a man must either eat or be eaten, andso I eat, for it is better to be the tooth than the grass. That is mywisdom; after which go on as I impel you; the grave-digger is there,the Pantheon for such as us, and all fall into the large hole. Finis,and total liquidation, that is the vanishing point Death is dead, takemy word for it; and I laugh at the idea of any one present affirmingthe contrary. It is an invention of nurses, old Bogey for children,Jehovah for men. No, our morrow is night; behind the tomb there isnothing but equal nothings. You may have been Sardanapalus, you mayhave been St. Vincent de Paul: it all comes to the same—nothing.That is the truth, so live above all else; make use of your me, solong as you hold it. In truth, I tell you, my dear Bishop, I have myphilosophy, and I have my philosophers, and I do not let myself bedeluded by fables. After all, something must be offered persons whoare down in the world,—the barefooted, the strugglers for existenceand the wretched: and so they are offered pure legends—chimeras—thesoul—immortality—paradise—the stars—to swallow. They chew that andput it on their dry bread. The man who has nothing has God, and that issomething at any rate. I do not oppose it, but I keep M. Naigeon formyself; God is good for the plebs."

The Bishop clapped his hands.

"That is what I call speaking," he exclaimed. "Ah, what an excellentand truly wonderful thing this materialism is! it is not every manwho wishes that can have it. Ah! when a man has reached that point,he is no longer a dupe; he does not let himself be stupidly exiled,like Cato; or stoned, like St. Stephen; or burnt, like Joan of Arc.Those who have succeeded in acquiring this materialism have the joy offeeling themselves irresponsible, and thinking that they can devoureverything without anxiety, places, sinecures, power well or badlygained, dignities, lucrative tergiversations, useful treachery, folly,capitulations with their consciences, and that they will go down tothe tomb after digesting it all properly. How agreeable this is! I amnot referring to you, my dear Senator, still I cannot refrain fromcongratulating you. You great gentlemen have, as you say, a philosophyof your own, and for yourselves, exquisite, refined, accessible to therich alone, good with any sauce, and admirably seasoning the joys oflife. This philosophy is drawn from the profundities, and dug up byspecial searchers. But you are kind fellows, and think it no harm thatbelief in God should be the philosophy of the populace, much in thesame way as a goose stuffed with chestnuts is the truffled turkey ofthe poor."



To give an idea of the domestic life of the Bishop of D——, and themanner in which these two saintly women subordinated their actions,their thoughts, even their feminine instincts, which were easilystartled, to the habits and intentions of the Bishop, before herequired to express them in words, we cannot do better than copy herea letter from Mlle Baptistine to the Viscountess de Boischevron, herfriend of childhood. This letter is in our possession.

"D——, 16th Dec., 18——.

"MY DEAR MADAME,—Not a day passes in which we do not talk about you.That is our general habit, but there is an extra reason at present.Just imagine that, in washing and dusting the ceilings and walls,Madame Magloire has made a discovery, and now our two rooms paperedwith old white-washed paper would not disgrace a chateau like yours.Madame Magloire has torn down all the paper, and there are things underit. My sitting-room, in which there was no furniture, and in which weused to hang up the linen to dry, is fifteen feet in height, eighteenwide, and has a ceiling which was once gilded, and rafters, as in yourhouse. It was covered with canvas during the time this mansion was anhospital. But it is my bed-room, you should see; Madame Magloire hasdiscovered, under at least ten layers of paper, paintings which, thoughnot excellent, are endurable. There is Telemachus dubbed a knight byMinerva; and there he is again in the gardens: I forget their names,but where the Roman ladies only went for a single night. What can Itell you? I have Roman ladies (here an illegible word), and so on.Madame Magloire has got it all straight. This summer she intends torepair a little damage, re-varnish it all, and my bed-room will be areal museum. She has also found in a corner of the garret two consolesin the old fashion; they want twelve francs to regild them, but it isbetter to give that sum to the poor: besides, they are frightfullyugly, and I should prefer a round mahogany table.

"I am very happy, for my brother is so good; he gives all he has to thesick and the poor, and we are often greatly pressed. The country ishard in winter, and something must be done for those who are in want.We are almost lighted and warmed, and, as you can see, that is a greatcomfort. My brother has peculiar habits; when he does talk, he says'that a bishop should be so.' Just imagine that the house door is neverclosed: any one who likes can come in, and is at once in my brother'spresence. He fears nothing, not even night; and he says that is his wayof showing his bravery. He does not wish me to feel alarmed for him, orfor Madame Magloire to do so; he exposes himself to all dangers, anddoes not wish us to appear as if we even noticed it. We must understandhim. He goes out in the rain, he wades through the water, and travelsin winter. He is not afraid of the night, suspicious roads, orencounters. Last year he went all alone into a country of robbers, forhe would not take us with him. He stayed away a whole fortnight, andfolk thought him dead, but he came back all right, and said, 'Here'sthe way in which I was robbed,' and he opened a chest full of all thetreasures of Embrun Cathedral, which the robbers had given him. Thattime I could not refrain from scolding him a little, but was carefulonly to speak when the wheels made a noise, so that no one could hearme.

"At first I said to myself; there is no danger that checks him, andhe is terrible; but at present I have grown accustomed to it. I makeMadame Magloire a sign not to annoy him, and he risks his life as hepleases. I carry off Magloire, go to my bed-room, pray for him, andfall asleep. I am tranquil because I know that if any harm happenedto him it would be the death of me. I shall go to heaven with mybrother and my bishop. Madame Magloire has had greater difficulty thanmyself in accustoming herself to what she calls his imprudence, butat present she has learned to put up with it. We both pray; we areterrified together, and fall asleep. If the Fiend were to enter thehouse no one would try to stop him, and after all what have we to fearin this house? There is always some one with us who is the stronger,the demon may pass by, but our Lord lives in it. That is enough for me,and my brother no longer requires to say a word to me. I understandhim without his speaking, and we leave ourselves in the hands ofProvidence, for that is the way in which you must behave to a man whohas grandeur in his soul.

"I have questioned my brother about the information you requireconcerning the De Faux family. You are aware that he knows everything,and what a memory he has, for he is still a good Royalist. It is reallya very old Norman family belonging to the Generalty of Caen. Fivehundred years ago there were a Raoul, a John, and a Thomas de Faux, whowere gentlemen, and one of them Seigneur of Rochefort. The last was GuyStephen Alexander, who was Major-general, and something in the BrittanyLight Horse: his daughter, Maria Louisa, married Adrian Charles deGramont, son of Duke Louis de Gramont, Peer of France, Colonel of theFrench Guards, and Lieutenant-general in the army. The name is writtenFaux, Fauq, and Faouq.

"My dear madam, recommend us to the prayers of your holy relative theCardinal. As for your dear Sylvanie, she has done well in not wastingthe few moments she passes by your side in writing to me. She is well,works according to your wishes, and loves me still: that is all Idesire. Her souvenir sent me through you safely reached me, and I amdelighted at it. My health is not bad, and yet I grow thinner everyday. Good-by, my paper is running out and compels me to break off. Athousand kind regards from your Baptistine.

"P.S. Your little nephew is delightful: do you know that he is nearlyfive years of age? Yesterday he saw a horse pass with knee-caps on,and he said, 'What has he got on his knees?' He is such a dear child.His little brother drags an old broom about the room like a coach, andcries, 'Hu!'"

As may be seen from this letter, the two women managed to yield tothe Bishop's ways, with the genius peculiar to woman, who comprehendsa man better than he does himself. The Bishop of D——, beneath thecandid, gentle air which never broke down, at times did grand, bold,and magnificent things, without even appearing to suspect the fact.They trembled, but let him alone. At times Madame Magloire would hazarda remonstrance beforehand, but never during or after the deed. Theynever troubled him either by word or sign when he had once begun anaffair. At certain moments, without his needing to mention the fact, orperhaps when he was not conscious of it, so perfect was his simplicity,they vaguely felt that he was acting episcopally, and at such timesthey were only two shadows in the house. They served him passively, andif disappearance were obedience, they disappeared. They knew, with anadmirable intuitive delicacy, that certain attentions might vex him,and hence, though they might believe him in peril, they understood, Iwill not say his thoughts, but his nature, and no longer watched overhim. They intrusted him to God. Moreover, Baptistine said, as we havejust read, that her brother's death would be her death. Madame Magloiredid not say so, but she knew it.



At a period rather later than the date of the letter just quoted hedid a thing which the whole town declared to be even more venturesomethan his trip in the mountains among the bandits. A man lived alone inthe country near D——: this man, let us out with the great word atonce, was an ex-conventionalist, of the name of G——. People talkedabout him in the little world of D—— with a species of horror. Aconventionalist, only think of that! Those men existed at the timewhen people "thou-ed" one another and were called citizens. This manwas almost a monster: he had not voted for the King's death, but haddone all but that, and was a quasi-regicide. How was it that this manhad not been tried by court-martial, on the return of the legitimateprinces? They need not have cut his head off, for clemency is all rightand proper, but banishment for life would have been an example, and soon. Moreover, he was an atheist, like all those men. It was the gossipof geese round a vulture.

And was this G—— a vulture? Yes, if he might be judged by hisferocious solitude. As he had not voted the King's death, he was notcomprised in the decree of exile, and was enabled to remain in France.He lived about three miles from the town, far from every village, everyroad, in a nook of a very wild valley. He had there, so it was said, afield, a hut, a den. He had no neighbors, not even passers-by; sincehe had lived in the valley the path leading to it had become overgrownwith grass. People talked of the spot as of the hangman's house. Yetthe Bishop thought of it, and from time to time gazed at a spot on thehorizon where a clump of trees pointed out the old conventionalist'svalley, and said "There is a soul there alone," and he added tohimself, "I owe him a visit."

But, let us confess it, this idea, which at the first blush wasnatural, seemed to him after a moment's reflection strange andimpossible, almost repulsive. For, in his heart, he shared the generalimpression, and the conventionalist inspired him, without his beingable to account for it, with that feeling which is the border line ofhatred, and which is so well expressed by the word "estrangement."

Still the shepherd ought not to keep aloof from a scabby sheep; butthen what a sheep it was! The good Bishop was perplexed; at times hestarted in that direction, but turned back. One day a rumor spreadin the town, that a shepherd boy who waited on G—— in his den, hadcome to fetch a doctor: the old villain was dying, paralysis wasoverpowering him, and he could not last out the night. Happy release!some added.

The Bishop took his stick, put on his overcoat to hide his well-worncassock, as well as to protect him against the night breeze which wouldsoon rise, and set out. The sun had almost attained the horizon whenthe Bishop reached the excommunicated spot. He perceived with a certainheart-beating that he was close to the wild beast's den. He strodeacross a ditch, clambered over a hedge, entered a neglected garden,and suddenly perceived the cavern behind some shrubs. It was a low,poor-looking hut, small and clean, with a vine nailed over the front.

In front of the door an old white-haired man, seated in a worn-outwheel-chair, was smiling in the sun. By his side stood a boy, whohanded him a pot of milk. While the Bishop was looking at him the oldman uplifted his voice. "Thanks," he said, "I want nothing further,"and his smile was turned from the sun to rest on the boy.

The Bishop stepped forward, and at the noise of his footsteps theseated man turned his head, and his face expressed all the surprise itis possible to feel after a long life.

"Since I have lived here," he said, "you are the first person who hascome to me. Who may you be, sir?"

The Bishop answered, "My name is Bienvenu Myriel."

"I have heard that name uttered. Are you not he whom the peasants callMonseigneur Welcome?"

"I am."

The old man continued, with a half-smile, "In that case you are myBishop?"

"A little."

"Come in, sir."

The conventionalist offered his hand to the Bishop, but the Bishop didnot take it—he confined himself to saying,—

"I am pleased to see that I was deceived. You certainly do not lookill."

"I am about to be cured, sir," the old man said; then after a pause headded, "I shall be dead in three hours. I am a bit of a physician, andknow in what way the last hour comes. Yesterday only my feet were cold;to-day the chill reached my knees; now I can feel it ascending to mywaist, and when it reaches the heart I shall stop. The sun is glorious,is it not? I had myself wheeled out in order to take a farewell glanceat things. You can talk to me, for it does not weary me. You have donewell to come and look at a dying man, for it is proper that thereshould be witnesses. People have their fancies, and I should have likedto go on till dawn. But I know that I can hardly last three hours.It will be night, but, after all, what matter? Finishing is a simpleaffair, and daylight is not necessary for it. Be it so, I will die bystar-light."

Then he turned to the lad:

"Go to bed. You sat up the other night, and must be tired."

The boy went into the cabin; the old man looked after him, and added,as if speaking to himself,—

"While he is sleeping I shall die; the two slumbers can keep each othercompany."

The Bishop was not so moved as we might imagine he would be. He did notthink that he saw God in this way of dying: and—let us out with it, asthe small contradictions of great hearts must also be indicated—he,who at times laughed so heartily at his grandeur, was somewhat annoyedat not being called Monseigneur, and was almost tempted to reply,Citizen. He felt an inclination for coarse familiarity, common enoughwith doctors and priests, but to which he was not accustomed. This manafter all, this conventionalist, this representative of the people,had been a mighty one of the earth: for the first time in his life,perhaps, the Bishop felt disposed to sternness.

The Republican, in the mean while, regarded him with modest cordiality,in which, perhaps, could be traced that humility which is so becomingin a man who is on the point of returning to the dust. The Bishop,on his side, though he generally guarded against curiosity, whichaccording to him was akin to insult, could not refrain from examiningthe conventionalist with an attention which, as it did not emanate fromsympathy, would have pricked his conscience in the case of any otherman. The conventionalist produced the effect upon him of being beyondthe pale of the law, even the law of charity.

G——, calm, almost upright, and possessing a sonorous voice, was oneof those grand octogenarians who are the amazement of the physiologist.The Revolution possessed many such men, proportioned to the age. Thethoroughly tried man could be seen in him, and, though so near his end,he had retained all the signs of health. There was something whichwould disconcert death in his bright glance, his firm accent, and therobust movement of his shoulders: Azrael, the Mohammedan angel of thetomb, would have turned back fancying that he had mistaken the door.G—— seemed to be dying because he wished to do so; there was libertyin his agony, and his legs alone, by which the shadows clutched him,were motionless. While the feet were dead and cold, the head livedwith all the power of life and appeared in full light. G—— at thisawful moment resembled the king in the Oriental legend, flesh aboveand marble below. The Bishop sat down on a stone and began ratherabruptly:—

"I congratulate you," he said, in the tone people employ to reprimand;"at least you did not vote the King's death."

The Republican did not seem to notice the covert bitterness of thisremark, at least; he replied, without a smile on his face,—

"Do not congratulate me, sir: I voted the death of the tyrant." It wasthe accent of austerity opposed to that of sternness.

"What do you mean?" the Bishop continued.

"I mean that man has a tyrant, Ignorance, and I voted for the end ofthat tyrant which engendered royalty, which is the false authority,while knowledge is the true authority. Man must only be governed byknowledge."

"And by his conscience," the Bishop added.

"That is the same thing. Conscience is the amount of innate knowledgewe have in us."

Monseigneur Welcome listened in some surprise to this language, whichwas very novel to him. The Republican continued,—

"As for Louis XVI. I said No. I do not believe that I have the right tokill a man, but I feel the duty of exterminating a tyrant, and I votedfor the end of the tyrant. That is to say, for the end of prostitutionfor women; the end of slavery for men; and the end of night forchildren. In voting for the Republic I voted for all this: I voted forfraternity, concord, the Dawn! I aided in the overthrow of errors andprejudices, and such an overthrow produces light; we hurled down theold world, and that vase of wretchedness, by being poured over thehuman race, became an urn of joy."

"Mingled joy," said the Bishop.

"You might call it a troubled joy, and now, after that fatal returnof the past which is called 1814, a departed joy. Alas! the work wasincomplete, I grant; we demolished the ancient régime in facts, butwere not able to suppress it completely in ideas. It is not sufficientto destroy abuses, but morals must also be modified. Though the mill nolonger exists, the wind still blows."

"You demolished: it may be useful, but I distrust a demolitioncomplicated with passion."

"Right has its passion, Sir Bishop, and that passion is an elementof progress. No matter what may be said, the French Revolution isthe most powerful step taken by the human race since the advent ofChrist. It may be incomplete, but it was sublime. It softened minds, itcalmed, appeased, and enlightened, and it spread civilization over theworld. The French Revolution was good, for it was the consecration ofhumanity."

The Bishop could not refrain from muttering,—"Yes? '93!"

The Republican drew himself up with almost mournful solemnity, andshouted, as well as a dying man could shout,—

"Ah! there we have it! I have been waiting for that. A cloud had beencollecting for fifteen hundred years, and at the end of that period itburst: you are condemning the thunder-clap."

The Bishop, without perhaps confessing it to himself, felt that theblow had gone home; still he kept a good countenance, and answered,—

"The judge speaks in the name of justice; the priest speaks in that ofpity, which is only a higher form of justice. A thunder-clap must notdeceive itself."

And he added as he looked fixedly at the conventionalist,—

"And Louis XVII.?"

The Republican stretched forth his hand and seized the Bishop's arm.

"Louis XVII. Let us consider. Whom do you weep for? Is it the innocentchild? in that case I weep with you. Is it the royal child? in thatcase I must ask leave to reflect. For me, the thought of the brotherof Cartouche, an innocent lad, hung up under the armpits in the Placede Grève until death ensued, for the sole crime of being Cartouche'sbrother, is not less painful than the grandson of Louis XV., theinnocent boy martyrized in the Temple Tower for the sole crime of beingthe grandson of Louis XV."

"I do not like such an association of names, sir," said the Bishop.

"Louis XV.? Cartouche? On behalf of which do you protest?"

There was a moment's silence; the Bishop almost regretted having come,and yet felt himself vaguely and strangely shaken. The conventionalistcontinued,—

"Ah! sir priest, you do not like the crudities of truth, but Christloved them; he took a scourge and swept the temple. His lightning lashwas a rough discourser of truths. When he exclaimed, 'Suffer littlechildren to come unto me,' he made no distinction among them. He madeno difference between the dauphin of Barabbas and the dauphin of Herod.Innocence is its own crown, and does not require to be a Highness; itis as august in rags as when crowned with fleurs de lis."

"That is true," said the Bishop in a low voice.

"You have named Louis XVII.," the conventionalist continued; "let usunderstand each other. Shall we weep for all the innocents, martyrs,and children of the lowest as of the highest rank? I am with you there,but as I said, in that case we must go back beyond '93, and begin ourtears before Louis XVII. I will weep over the children of the kingswith you, provided that you weep with me over the children of thepeople."

"I weep for all," said the Bishop.

"Equally!" G—— exclaimed; "and if the balance must be uneven, let itbe on the side of the people, as they have suffered the longest."

There was again a silence, which the Republican broke. He rose on hiselbow, held his chin with his thumb and forefinger, as a man doesmechanically when he is interrogating and judging, and fixed on theBishop a glance full of all the energy of approaching death. It wasalmost an explosion.

"Yes, sir; the people have suffered for a long time. But let me askwhy you have come to question and speak to me about Louis XVII.? Ido not know you. Ever since I have been in this country I have livedhere alone, never setting my foot across the threshold, and seeingno one but the boy who attends to me. Your name, it is true, hasvaguely reached me, and I am bound to say that it was pronouncedaffectionately, but that means nothing, for clever people have so manyways of making the worthy, simple folk believe in them. By the bye, Idid not hear the sound of your coach; you doubtless left it down therebehind that clump of trees at the cross roads. I do not know you,I tell you; you have informed me that you are the Bishop, but thatteaches me nothing as to your moral character. In a word—I repeat myquestion, Who are you? You are a bishop, that is to say, a prince ofthe Church, one of those gilded, escutcheoned annuitants who have fatprebends—the Bishopric of D——, with 15,000 francs income, 10,000francs fees, or a total of 25,000 francs,—who have kitchens, liveries,keep a good table, and eat water-fowl on a Friday; who go about, withlackeys before and behind, in a gilded coach, in the name of theSaviour who walked barefoot! You are a prelate; you have, like all therest, income, palace, horses, valets, a good table, and like all therest you enjoy them: that is all very well, but it says either toomuch or too little; it does not enlighten me as to your intrinsic andessential value when you come with the probable intention of bringingme wisdom. To whom am I speaking—who are you?"

The Bishop bowed his head, and answered, "I am a worm."

"A worm in a carriage!" the Republican growled.

It was his turn to be haughty, the Bishop's to be humble; the lattercontinued gently,—

"Be it so, sir. But explain to me how my coach, which is a littleway off behind the trees, my good table, and the water-fowl I eat onFriday, my palace, my income, and my footmen, prove that pity is not avirtue, that clemency is not a duty, and that '93 was not inexorable."

The Republican passed his hand over his forehead, as if to remove acloud.

"Before answering you," he said, "I must ask you to forgive me. I wasin the wrong, sir, for you are in my house and my guest. You discussmy ideas, and I must restrict myself to combating your reasoning. Yourwealth and enjoyments are advantages which I have over you in thedebate, but courtesy bids me not employ them. I promise not to do soagain."

"I thank you," said the Bishop.

G—— continued: "Let us return to the explanation you asked of me.Where were we? What was it you said, that '93 was inexorable?"

"Yes, inexorable," the Bishop said; "what do you think of Maratclapping his hands at the guillotine?"

"What do you think of Bossuet singing a Te Deum over the Dragonnades?"

The response was harsh, but went to its mark with the rigidity of aMinié bullet. The Bishop started, and could not parry it, but he washurt by this way of mentioning Bossuet. The best minds have theirfetishes, and at times feel vaguely wounded by any want of respect onthe part of logic. The conventionalist was beginning to gasp; thatasthma which is mingled with the last breath affected his voice; stillhe retained perfect mental clearness in his eyes. He continued,—

"Let us say a few words more on this head. Beyond the Revolution,which, taken in its entirety, is an immense human affirmation, '93,alas, is a reply. You consider it inexorable, but what was the wholemonarchy? Carrier is a bandit, but what name do you give to Montrevel?Fouquier Tainville is a scoundrel, but what is your opinion aboutLamoignon-Bâville? Maillard is frightful, but what of Saulx-Tavannes,if you please? Father Duchêne is ferocious, but what epithet will youallow me for Père Letellier? Jourdan Coupe-Tête is a monster, but lessso than the Marquis de Louvois. I pity Marie Antoinette, Archduch*essand Queen, but I also pity the poor Huguenot woman who, in 1685, whilesuckling her child, was fastened, naked to the waist, to a stake, whileher infant was held at a distance. Her breast was swollen with milk,her heart with agony; the babe, hungry and pale, saw that breast andscreamed for it, and the hangman said to the wife, mother, and nurse,'Abjure!' giving her the choice between the death of her infant and thedeath of her conscience. What do you say of this punishment of Tantalusadapted to a woman? Remember this carefully, sir, the French Revolutionhad its reasons, and its wrath will be absolved by the future. Itsresult is a better world; and a caress for the human race issuesfrom its most terrible blows. I must stop, for the game is all in myfavor—besides, I am dying."

And ceasing to regard the Bishop, the Republican finished his thoughtwith the following few calm words,—

"Yes, the brutalities of progress are called revolutions, but when theyare ended, this fact is recognized; the human race has been chastised,but it has moved onwards."

The Republican did not suspect that he had carried in turn every oneof the Bishop's internal intrenchments. One still remained, however,and from this, the last resource of Monseigneur's resistance, came thisremark, in which all the roughness of the commencement was perceptible.

"Progress must believe in God, and the good cannot have impiousservants. A man who is an atheist is a bad guide for the human race."

The ex-representative of the people did not reply. He trembled, lookedup to the sky, and a tear slowly collected in his eye. When the lid wasfull the tear ran down his livid cheek, and he said in a low, shakingvoice, as if speaking to himself,—

"Oh thou! oh ideal! thou alone existest!"

The Bishop had a sort of inexpressible commotion; after a silence theold man raised a finger to heaven and said,—

"The infinite is. It is there. If the infinite had not a me, the Iwould be its limit; it would not be infinite; in other words, it wouldnot be. But it is. Hence it has a me. This I of the infinite is God."

The dying man uttered these words in a loud voice, and with a shudderof ecstasy as if he saw some one. When he had spoken his eyes closed,for the effort had exhausted him. It was evident that he had lived inone minute the few hours left him. The supreme moment was at hand. TheBishop understood it; he had come here as a priest, and had graduallypassed from extreme coldness to extreme emotion; he looked at theseclosed eyes, he took this wrinkled and chilly hand and bent down overthe dying man.

"This hour is God's. Would you not consider it matter of regret if wehad met in vain?"

The Republican opened his eyes again; a gravity which suggested theshadow of death was imprinted on his countenance.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (3)


"Monsieur le Bishop," he said, with a slowness produced perhaps more bythe dignity of the soul than by failing of his strength, "I have spentmy life in meditation, contemplation, and study. I was sixty years ofa*ge when my country summoned me and ordered me to interfere in itsaffairs. I obeyed. There were abuses, and I combated them; tyranny, andI destroyed it; rights and principles, and I proclaimed and confessedthem; the territory was invaded, and I defended it; France was menaced,and I offered her my chest; I was not rich, and I am poor. I was oneof the masters of the State; the bank cellars were so filled withspecie that it was necessary to prop up the walls, which were ready toburst through the weight of gold and silver, but I dined in the Rue del'Arbre Sec, at two-and-twenty sous a head. I succored the oppressed. Irelieved the suffering. I tore up the altar cloth, it is true, but itwas to stanch the wounds of the country. I ever supported the onwardmarch of the human race towards light, and I at times resisted pitilessprogress. When opportunity served, I protected my adversaries, men ofyour class. And there is at Peteghem in Flanders, on the same sitewhere the Merovingian Kings had their summer palace, a monastery ofUrbanists, the Abbey of St. Claire en Beaulieu, which I saved in 1793.I did my duty according to my strength, and what good I could. Afterwhich I was driven out, tracked, pursued, persecuted, maligned, mocked,spat upon, accursed, and proscribed. For many years I have felt thatpersons believed they had a right to despise me. My face has been heldaccursed by the poor ignorant mob, and, while hating no one, I acceptedthe isolation of hatred. Now, I am eighty-six years of age and on thepoint of death; what have you come to ask of me?"

"Your blessing!" said the Bishop, and knelt down. When the Bishopraised his head again, the conventionalist's countenance had becomeaugust: he had just expired. The Bishop returned home absorbed in thestrangest thoughts, and spent the whole night in prayer. On the morrowcurious worthies tried to make him talk about G—— the Republican, buthe only pointed to heaven. From this moment he redoubled his tendernessand fraternity for the little ones and the suffering.

Any allusion to "that old villain of a G——" made him fall into asingular reverie; no one could say that the passing of that mind beforehis, and the reflection that great conscience cast upon his, had notsomething to do with this approach to perfection. This "pastoral visit"nearly created a stir among the small local coteries.

"Was it a bishop's place to visit the death-bed of such a man? Itwas plain that he had no conversion to hope for, for all theseRevolutionists are relapsed! Then why go? what had he to see there? Hemust have been very curious to see the fiend carry off a soul."

One day a Dowager, of the impertinent breed which believes itselfwitty, asked him this question, "Monseigneur, people are asking whenyour Grandeur will have the red cap?" "Oh, oh!" the Bishop answered,"that is an ominous color. Fortunately those who despise it in a capvenerate it in a hat."



We should run a strong risk of making a mistake were we to concludefrom this that Monseigneur Welcome was "a philosophic bishop," or"a patriotic curé." His meeting, which might almost be called hisconjunction, with the conventionalist G—— produced in him a sort ofamazement, which rendered him more gentle than ever. That was all.

Though Monseigneur was anything rather than a politician, this isperhaps the place to indicate briefly what was his attitude in theevents of that period, supposing that Monseigneur ever dreamed ofhaving an attitude. We will, therefore, go back for a few years. Ashort time after M. Myriel's elevation to the Episcopate, the Emperormade him a Baron, simultaneously with some other bishops. The arrestof the Pope took place, as is well known, on the night of July 5,1809, at which time M. Myriel was called by Napoleon to the Synod ofFrench and Italian Bishops convened at Paris. This Synod was held atNotre Dame and assembled for the first time on June 15, 1811, underthe Presidency of Cardinal Fesch. M. Myriel was one of the ninety-fivebishops convened, but he was only present at one session and three orfour private conferences. As bishop of a mountain diocese, living sonear to nature in rusticity and poverty, it seems that he introducedamong these eminent personages ideas which changed the temperature ofthe assembly. He went back very soon to D——, and when questionedabout this hurried return, he replied, "I was troublesome to them.The external air came in with me and I produced the effect of an opendoor upon them." Another time he said, "What would you have? thoseMesseigneurs are princes, while I am only a poor peasant bishop."

The fact is, that he displeased: among other strange things he let thefollowing remarks slip out, one evening when he was visiting one of hismost influential colleagues: "What fine clocks! What splendid carpets!What magnificent liveries! You must find all that very troublesome? Oh!I should not like to have such superfluities to yell incessantly in myears: there are people who are hungry; there are people who are cold;there are poor, there are poor."

Let us remark parenthetically, that a hatred of luxury would not be anintelligent hatred, for it would imply a hatred of the arts. Still inchurchmen any luxury beyond that connected with their sacred office iswrong, for it seems to reveal habits which are not truly charitable.An opulent priest is a paradox, for he is bound to live with the poor.Now, can a man incessantly both night and day come in contact withdistress, misfortune, and want, without having about him a little ofthat holy wretchedness, like the dust of toil? Can we imagine a mansitting close to a stove and not feeling hot? Can we imagine a workmanconstantly toiling at a furnace, and have neither a hair burned, a nailblackened, nor a drop of perspiration, nor grain of soot on his face?The first proof of charity in a priest, in a bishop especially, ispoverty. This was doubtless the opinion of the Bishop of D——.

We must not believe either that he shared what we might call the "ideasof the age" on certain delicate, points; he mingled but slightly inthe theological questions of the moment, in which Church and State arecompromised; but had he been greatly pressed we fancy he would havebeen found to be Ultramontane rather than Gallican. As we are drawinga portrait, and do not wish to conceal anything, we are forced to addthat he was frigid toward the setting Napoleon. From 1813 he adheredto or applauded all hostile demonstrations, he refused to see him whenhe passed through on his return from Elba, and abstained from orderingpublic prayers for the Emperor during the Hundred Days.

Besides his sister, Mlle. Baptistine, he had two brothers, one ageneral, the other a prefect. He wrote very frequently to both of them.For some time he owed the former a grudge, because the General, whoat the time of the landing at Cannes held a command in Provence, puthimself at the head of twelve hundred men and pursued the Emperor as ifhe wished to let him escape. His correspondence was more affectionatewith the other brother, the ex-prefect, a worthy, honest man, who livedretired at Paris.

Monseigneur Welcome, therefore, also had his hour of partisan spirit,his hour of bitterness, his cloud. The shadow of the passions of themoment fell athwart this gentle and great mind, which was occupied bythings eternal. Certainly such a man would have deserved to have nopolitical opinions. Pray let there be no mistake as to our meaning: wedo not confound what are called "political opinions" with the grandaspiration for progress, with that sublime, patriotic, democratic andhuman faith, which in our days must be the foundation of all generousintelligence. Without entering into questions which only indirectlyaffect the subject of this book, we say, it would have been better hadMonseigneur Welcome not been a Royalist, and if his eye had not turnedaway, even for a moment, from that serene contemplation, in which thethree pure lights of Truth, Justice, and Charity are seen beaming abovethe fictions and hatreds of this world, and above the stormy ebb andflow of human affairs.

While allowing that GOD had not created Monseigneur Welcome forpolitical functions, we could have understood and admired a protest inthe name of justice and liberty, a proud opposition, a perilous andjust resistance offered to Napoleon, all-powerful. But conduct whichpleases us towards those who are rising, pleases us less towards thosewho are falling. We only like the contest so long as there is danger;and, in any case, only the combatants from the beginning have a rightto be the exterminators at the end. A man who has not been an obstinateaccuser during prosperity must be silent when the crash comes; thedenouncer of success is the sole legitimate judge of the fell. For ourpart, when Providence interferes and strikes we let it do so. 1812begins to disarm us; in 1813 the cowardly rupture of silence by thetaciturn legislative corps, emboldened by catastrophes, could onlyarouse indignation; in 1814, in the presence of the traitor Marshals,in the presence of that senate, passing from one atrocity to another,and insulting after deifying, and before the idolaters kicking theiridol and spitting on it, it was a duty to turn one's head away; in1815, as supreme disasters were in the air, as France had a shudderof their sinister approach, as Waterloo, already open before Napoleoncould be vaguely distinguished, the dolorous acclamation offered by thearmy and the people had nothing laughable about it, and—leaving thedespot out of the question—a heart like the Bishop of D——'s oughtnot to have misunderstood how much there was august and affecting inthis close embrace between a great nation and a great man on the vergeof an abyss.

With this exception, the Bishop was in all things just, true,equitable, intelligent, humble, and worthy; beneficent, and benevolent,which is another form of beneficence. He was a priest, a sage, and aman. Even in the political opinions with which we have reproached him,and which we are inclined to judge almost severely, we are bound toadd that he was tolerant and facile, more so perhaps than the writerof these lines. The porter of the Town Hall had been appointed by theEmperor; he was an ex-non-commissioned officer of the old guard, alegionary of Austerlitz, and as Bonapartist as the eagle. This poorfellow now and then made thoughtless remarks, which the law of thatday qualified as seditious. From the moment when the Imperial profiledisappeared from the Legion of Honor, he never put on his uniformagain, that he might not be obliged, as he said, to bear his cross. Hehad himself devotedly removed the Imperial effigy from the cross whichNapoleon had given him with his own hands, and though this made a holehe would not let anything be put in its place. "Sooner die," he wouldsay, "than wear the three frogs on my heart." He was fond of ridiculingLouis XVIII. aloud. "The old gouty fellow with his English gaiters,let him be off to Prussia with his salsifies." It delighted him thusto combine in one imprecation the two things he hated most, Englandand Prussia. He went on thus till he lost his place, and then he wasstarving in the street with wife and children. The Bishop sent for him,gave him a gentle lecturing, and appointed him Beadle to the cathedral.

In nine years, through his good deeds and gentle manners, MonseigneurWelcome had filled the town of D—— with a sort of tender and filialveneration. Even his conduct to Napoleon had been accepted, and, as itwere, tacitly pardoned, by the people, an honest weak flock of sheep,who adored their Emperor but loved their Bishop.



There is nearly always round a bishop a squad of little abbés, asthere is a swarm of young officers round a general. They are what thatdelightful St. Francis de Sales calls somewhere "sucking priests."Every career has its aspirants, who pay their respects to those whohave reached the goal; there is not a power without its following, nota fortune without its court. The seekers for a future buzz round thesplendid present. Every metropolitan has his staff: every bishop who isat all influential has his patrol of Seminarist Cherubim, who go therounds, maintain order in the episcopal palace, and mount guard roundMonseigneur's smile. Pleasing a bishop is a foot in the stirrup for asub-deaconry; after all, a man must make his way, and apostles do notdespise canonries.

In the same way as there are "gros bonnets," otherwhere, there arelarge mitres in the Church. They are bishops who stand well with theCourt, well endowed, clever, favorites of society, who doubtless knowhow to pray, but also how to solicit, not scrupulous about having awhole diocese waiting in their ante-rooms, connecting links betweenthe sacristy and diplomacy, more abbés than priests, rather prelatesthan bishops. Happy the man who approaches them! As they stand in goodcredit they shower around them, on the obsequious and their favored,and on all the youth who know the art of pleasing, fat livings,prebends, archdeaconries, chaplaincies, and cathedral appointments,while waiting for episcopal dignities. While themselves advancing, theycause their satellites to progress, and it is an entire solar systemmoving onwards. Their beams throw a purple hue over their suite, andtheir prosperity is showered over the actors behind the scenes innice little bits of promotions. The larger the patron's diocese, thelarger the favorite's living. And then there is Rome. A bishop whocontrives to become an archbishop, an archbishop who manages to becomea cardinal, takes you with him as a Conclavist; you enter the rota, youhave the pallium, you are an auditor, a chamberlain, a Monsignore, andfrom Grandeur to Eminence there is but a step, and between Eminenceand Holiness there is only the smoke of the balloting tickets. Everycassock can dream of the tiara. The priest is in our days the onlyman who can regularly become a king, and what a king! The supremeking! Hence what a hotbed of longings is a seminary! How many blushingchoristers, how many young abbés, have on their head Perrette'smilk-jar! how easily ambition calls itself a profession! and perhaps itdoes so in good faith and in self-deception, for it is so unworldly.

Monseigneur Welcome, humble, poor, and out of the world, was notcounted among the large mitres. This was visible in the utter absenceof young priests around him. We have seen that at Paris "he did nottake," and not an aspirant tried to cling to this solitary old man; notthe most youthful ambition tried to flourish in his shade. His canonsand vicars were good old men, walled up like him in this diocese whichhad no issue to the Cardinal's hat, and who resembled their bishopwith this difference, that they were finished while he was completed.The impossibility of growing up near Monseigneur Welcome was so wellfelt, that young priests whom he ordained at once obtained letterscommendatory to the Archbishop of Aix, or Auch, and went off at score.For, after all, we repeat, men wish to be pushed upward. A saint wholives in a state of excessive self-denial is a dangerous neighbor, hemight possibly communicate to you by contagion an incurable poverty, astiffening of the joints useful for advancement, and, in a word, morerenunciation than you care for: and such scabby virtue is shunned.Hence came the isolation of Monseigneur Welcome. We live in the midstof a gloomy society. Succeed,—such is the teaching which falls drop bydrop from the corruption hanging over us.

Success is a very hideous thing, and its resemblance with meritdeceives men. For the herd, success has nearly the same profile assupremacy. Success, that twin brother of talent, has a dupe,—history.Tacitus and Juvenal alone grumble at it. In our days an almost officialphilosophy wears the livery of success, and waits in its ante-room.Succeed, that is the theory, for prosperity presupposes capacity.Win in the lottery and you are a clever man, for he who triumphs isrevered. All you want is to be born under a fortunate star. Have luckand you will have the rest, be fortunate and you will be thought agreat man; leaving out five or six immense exceptions, which form thelustre of an age, contemporary admiration is blear-eyedness. Gildingis gold, and it does you no harm to be any one so long as you are theparvenu. The mob is an old Narcissus, adoring itself and applauding themob. That enormous faculty by which a man is a Moses, Æschylus, Dante,Michael Angelo, or Napoleon, the multitude decrees broadcast and byacclamation to any one who attains his object, no matter in what. Leta notary transfigure himself into a deputy; a false Corneille produceTiridates; an eunuch contrive to possess a harem; a military Prudhommeaccidentally gain the decisive battle of an age; an apothecary inventcardboard soles for the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, and make out ofthe cardboard sold for leather an income of 400,000 francs a year; apedler espouse usury and put it to bed with seven or eight millions, ofwhich he is the father and she the mother; a preacher become a bishopby his nasal twang; let the steward of a good family be so rich onleaving service that he is made Chancellor of the Exchequer—and menwill call it genius, in the same way as they call Mousqueton's facebeauty and Claude's mien majesty. They confound with the constellationsof profundity the stars which the duck's feet make in the soft mud ofthe pond.



It is not our business to gauge the Bishop of D—— from an orthodoxpoint of view. In the presence of such a soul we only feel inclined torespect. The conscience of the just man must be believed on its word;besides, certain natures granted, we admit the possibility of thedevelopment of all the beauties of human virtue in a creed differingfrom our own. What did he think of this dogma or that mystery? Theseheart-secrets are only known to the tomb which souls enter in a stateof nudity. What we are certain of is, that he never solved difficultiesof faith by hypocrisy. It is impossible for the diamond to rot. Hebelieved as much as he possibly could, and would frequently exclaim, "Ibelieve in the Father." He also derived from his good deeds that amountof satisfaction which suffices the conscience, and which whispers toyou, "You are with God."

What we think it our duty to note is that, beyond his faith, he hadan excess of love. It was through this, quia multum amavit, thathe was considered vulnerable by "serious men," "grave persons," and"reasonable people," those favorite phrases of our melancholy worldin which selfishness is under the guidance of pedantry. What was thisexcess of love. It was a serene benevolence, spreading over men, as wehave already indicated, and on occasion extending even to things. Heloved without disdain, and was indulgent to God's creation. Every man,even the best, has in him an unreflecting harshness, which he reservesfor animals, but the Bishop of D—— had not this harshness, which is,however, peculiar to many priests. He did not go so far as the Brahmin,but seemed to have meditated on the words of Ecclesiastes—"Who knoweththe spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" An uglyappearance, a deformity of instinct, did not trouble him or renderhim indignant; he was moved, almost softened, by them. It seemed asif he thoughtfully sought, beyond apparent life, for the cause, theexplanation, or the excuse. He examined without anger, and with theeye of a linguist deciphering a palimpsest, the amount of chaos whichstill exists in nature. This reverie at times caused strange remarks toescape from him. One morning he was in his garden and fancied himselfalone; but his sister was walking behind, though unseen by him. Hestopped and looked at something on the ground. It was a large black,hairy, horrible spider. His sister heard him mutter, "Poor brute,it is not thy fault." Why should we not repeat this almost divinechildishness of goodness? It may be puerile, but of such were thepuerilities of St. Francis d'Assisi and Marcus Aurelius. One day hesprained himself because he did not wish to crush an ant.

Such was the way in which this just man lived: at times he fell asleepin his garden, and then nothing could be more venerable. MonseigneurWelcome had been formerly, if we may believe the stories about hisyouth and even his manhood, a passionate, perhaps violent man. Hisuniversal mansuetude was less a natural instinct than the result of agrand conviction, which had filtered through life into his heart, andslowly dropped into it thought by thought, for in a character, as in arock, there may be waterholes. Such hollows, however, are ineffaceable,such formations indestructible. In 1815, as we think we have said, hereached his seventy-fifth year, but did not seem sixty. He was nottall, and had a tendency to stoutness, which he strove to combat bylong walks; he stood firmly, and was but very slightly built. But theseare details from which we will not attempt to draw any conclusion, forGregory XVI. at the age of eighty was erect and smiling, which did notprevent him being a bad priest. Monseigneur Welcome had what peoplecall "a fine head," which was so amiable that its beauty was forgotten.When he talked with that infantine gayety which was one of his gracesyou felt at your ease by his side, and joy seemed to emanate from hiswhole person. His fresh, ruddy complexion, and all his white teeth,which he had preserved and displayed when he laughed, gave him thatopen facile air which makes you say of an aged man, "He is a worthyperson." That, it will be remembered, was the effect he produced onNapoleon. At the first glance, and when you saw him for the first time,he was in reality only a worthy man, but if you remained some hours inhis company, and saw him in thought, he became gradually transfiguredand assumed something imposing; his wide and serious brow, alreadyaugust through the white hair, became also august through meditation;majesty was evolved from the goodness; though the latter did not ceaseto gleam, you felt the same sort of emotion as you would if you sawa smiling angel slowly unfold his wings without ceasing to smile. Aninexpressible respect gradually penetrated you and ascended to yourhead, and you felt that you had before you one of those powerful,well-bred, and indulgent souls whose thoughts are so great that theycannot but be gentle.

As we have seen, prayer, celebration of the Mass, almsgiving, consolingthe afflicted, tilling a patch of ground, frugality, hospitality,self-denial, confidence, study, and labor, filled every day of hislife. Filled is the exact word, and certainly the Bishop's day wasfull of good thoughts, good words, and good actions. Still, it wasnot complete. If cold or wet weather prevented him from spending anhour or two in the garden before going to bed after the two femaleshad retired, it seemed as it were a species of rite of his to preparehimself for sleep by meditation, in the presence of the grand spectacleof the heavens by night. At times, even at an advanced hour of night,if the women were not asleep, they heard him slowly pacing the walks.He was then alone with himself, contemplative, peaceful, adoring,comparing the serenity of his heart with that of ether, affected inthe darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations, and theinvisible splendor of God, and opening his soul to thoughts which fallfrom the unknown. At such moments, offering up his heart at the hourwhen the nocturnal flowers offer up their perfumes, he could not havesaid himself, possibly, what was passing in his mind; but he feltsomething fly out of him and something descend into him.

He dreamed of the grandeur and presence of God; of future eternity,that strange mystery; of past eternity, that even stranger mystery;of all the infinities which buried themselves before his eyes in alldirections: and without seeking to comprehend the incomprehensible,he gazed at it. He did not study God; he was dazzled by Him. Heconsidered this magnificent concourse of atoms which reveals forces,creates individualities in unity, proportions in space, innumerabilityin the Infinite, and through light produces beauty. Such a concourseincessantly takes place, and is dissolved again, and hence come lifeand death.

He would sit down on a wood bench with his back against a ricketytrellis, and gaze at the stars through the stunted sickly profilesof his fruit trees. This quarter of an acre, so poorly planted, andso encumbered with sheds and out-houses, was dear to him, and wassufficient for him. What more was wanting to this aged man, whodivided the leisure of his life, which knew so little leisure, betweengardening by day and contemplation by night? Was not this limitedenclosure with the sky for its roof sufficient for him to be able toadore God by turns in His most delicious and most sublime works? Wasnot this everything, in fact? and what could be desired beyond? A smallgarden to walk about in, and immensity to dream in; at his feet, whatcan be cultivated and gathered; over his head, what can be studied andmeditated; a few flowers on the earth, and all the stars in the heavens.



One last word.

As these details might, especially at the present day, and to employ anexpression which is now fashionable, give the Bishop of D—— a certain"Pantheistic" physiognomy, and cause it to be believed, either to hispraise or blame, that he had in him one of those personal philosophiespeculiar to our age, which germinate sometimes in solitary minds, andgrow until they take the place of religion, we must lay stress on thefact that not one of the persons who knew Monseigneur Welcome believedhimself authorized in thinking anything of the sort. What enlightenedthis man was his heart, and his wisdom was the product of the lightwhich emanates from it.

He had no systems, but abundance of deeds. Abstruse speculationscontain vertigo, and nothing indicates that he ventured his mind amidthe Apocalypses. The apostle may be bold, but the bishop must betimid. He probably refrained from going too deep into certain problemsreserved to some extent for great and terrible minds. There is a sacredhorror beneath the portals of the enigma; the dark chasms gape beforeyou, but something tells you that you must not enter: woe to him whopenetrates. Geniuses, in the profundities of abstraction and purespeculation, being situated, so to speak, above dogmas, propose theirideas to God; their prayer audaciously offers a discussion, and theiradoration interrogates. This is direct religion, full of anxiety andresponsibility for the man who attempts to carry the escarpment bystorm.

Human meditation has no limits; at its own risk and peril it analyzesand produces its own bedazzlement; we might almost say that, through aspecies of splendid reaction, it dazzles nature with it. The mysteriousworld around us gives back what it receives, and it is probable thatthe contemplators are contemplated. However this may be, there are inthe world men—are they men?—who distinctly perceive on the horizon ofdreamland the heights of the Absolute, and have the terrible vision ofthe mountain of the Infinite. Monseigneur Welcome was not one of thesem*n, for he was not a genius. He would have feared these sublimities,on which even very great men, like Swedenborg and Pascal, fell in theirinsanity. Assuredly, such powerful reveries have their utility, andby these arduous routes ideal perfection is approached, but he took ashort-cut,—the Gospel. He did not attempt to convert his chasuble intoElijah's cloak, he cast no beam of the future over the gloomy heavingof events; there was nothing of the prophet or the Magus about him.This humble soul loved, that was all.

It is probable that he expanded prayer into a superhuman aspiration;but a man can no more pray too much than he can love too much, andif it were a heresy to pray further than the text, St Theresa and StJérôme would be heretics. He bent down over all that groaned and allthat expiated; the universe appeared to him an immense malady; he felta fever everywhere; he heard the panting of suffering all around him,and without trying to solve the enigma, he sought to heal the wound.The formidable spectacle of created things developed tenderness in him;he was solely engaged in finding for himself and arousing in others thebest way of pitying and relieving. Existence was to this good and rarepriest a permanent subject of sorrow seeking for consolation.

There are some men who toil to extract gold, but he labored to extractpity; the universal wretchedness was his mine. Sorrow all around wasonly an opportunity for constant kindness. "Love one another" hedeclared to be complete; he wished for nothing more, and that washis entire doctrine. One day the Senator, who believed himself a"philosopher," said to the Bishop: "Just look at the spectacle of theworld; all are fighting, and the strongest man is the cleverest. Your'love one another' is nonsense." "Well," Monseigneur Welcome replied,without discussion, "if it be nonsense, the soul must shut itself upin it like the pearl in the oyster." He consequently shut himselfup in it, lived in it, was absolutely satisfied with it, leavingon one side those prodigious questions which attract and terrify,the unfathomable perspectives of the abstract, the precipices ofmetaphysics, all those depths which for the apostle converge in God,for the atheist in nothingness: destiny, good, and evil, the war ofbeing against being, human consciousness, the pensive somnambulismof the animal, transformation through death, the recapitulation ofexistences which the grave contains, the incomprehensible grafting ofsuccessive loves on the enduring Me, essence, substance, the Nil andEns nature, liberty, necessity; in a word, he avoided all the gloomyprecipices over which the gigantic archangels of the human mind bend,the formidable abysses which Lucretius, Manou, St. Paul, and Dantecontemplate with that flashing eye which seems, in regarding Infinity,to make stars sparkle in it.

Monseigneur Welcome was simply a man who accepted mysterious questionswithout scrutinizing, disturbing them, or troubling his own mind, andwho had in his soul a grave respect for the shadow.





At the beginning of October, 1815, and about an hour before sunset,a man travelling on foot entered the little town of D——. The fewinhabitants, who were at the moment at their windows or doors, regardedthis traveller with a species of inquietude. It would be difficult tomeet a wayfarer of more wretched appearance; he was a man of middleheight, muscular and robust, and in the full vigor of life. He might beforty-six to forty-eight years of age. A cap with a leather peak partlyconcealed his sunburnt face, down which the perspiration streamed. Hisshirt of coarse yellow calico, fastened at the neck by a small silveranchor, allowed his hairy chest to be seen; he had on a neck-clothtwisted like a rope, trousers of blue ticking worn and threadbare,white at one knee and torn at the other; an old gray ragged blousepatched at one elbow with a rag of green cloth; on his back a largenew well-filled and well-buckled knapsack, and a large knotty stick inhis hand. His stockingless feet were thrust into iron-shod shoes, hishair was clipped, and his beard long. Perspiration, heat, travelling onfoot, and the dust, added something sordid to his wretched appearance.His hair was cut close and yet was bristling, for it was beginning togrow a little, and did not seem to have been cut for some time.

No one knew him; he was evidently passing through the town. Wheredid he come from? The South perhaps, the sea-board, for he made hisentrance into D—— by the same road Napoleon had driven along sevenmonths previously when going from Cannes to Paris. The man must havebeen walking all day, for he seemed very tired. Some women in theold suburb at the lower part of the town had seen him halt under thetrees on the Gassendi Boulevard, and drink from the fountain at theend of the walk. He must have been very thirsty, for the childrenthat followed him saw him stop and drink again at the fountain on theMarket-place. On reaching the corner of the Rue Poichevert, he turnedto the left and proceeded to the Mayor's office. He went in and cameout again a quarter of an hour after. A gendarme was sitting on thestone bench near the door, on which General Drouot had mounted on March4th, to read to the startled town-folk of D—— the proclamation of thegulf of Juan. The man doffed his cap and bowed humbly to the gendarme;the latter, without returning his salute, looked at him attentively,and then entered the office.

There was at that time at D—— a capital inn, with the sign of theCross of Colbas. This inn was kept by a certain Jacquin Labarre, a manhighly respected in the town for his relationship to another Labarre,who kept the Three Dolphins at Grenoble, and had served in the Guides.When the Emperor landed, many rumors were current in the countryabout the Three Dolphins; it was said that General Bertrand, in thedisguise of a wagoner, had stopped there several times in the month ofJanuary, and distributed crosses of honor to the soldiers, and handsfulof napoleons to the towns-people. The fact was that the Emperor onentering Grenoble refused to take up his quarters at the Prefecture; hethanked the Mayor, and said, "I am going to a worthy man whom I know,"and he went to the Three Dolphins. The glory of the Grenoble Labarrewas reflected for a distance of five-and-twenty leagues on the Labarreof the Cross of Colbas. The towns-people said of him, "He is cousin tothe one at Grenoble."

The man proceeded to this inn, which was the best in the town, andentered the kitchen, the door of which opened on the street. All theovens were heated, and a large fire blazed cheerily in the chimney.The host, who was at the same time head-cook, went from the hearthto the stew-pans, very busy in attending to a dinner intended forthe carriers, who could be heard singing and talking noisily in anadjoining room. Any one who has travelled knows that no people feed sowell as carriers. A fat marmot, flanked by white-legged partridges andgrouse, was turning on a long spit before the fire; while two largecarp from Lake Lauzet and an Alloz trout were baking in the ovens. Thelandlord, on hearing the door open and a stranger enter, said, withoutraising his eyes from his stew-pans,—

"What do you want, sir?"

"Supper and a bed," the man replied.

"Nothing easier," said mine host. At this moment he looked up, took inthe stranger's appearance at a glance, and added, "On paying."

The man drew a heavy leathern purse from the pocket of his blouse, andreplied,—

"I have money."

"In that case I am at your service," said the host.

The man returned the purse to his pocket, took off his knapsack, placedit on the ground near the door, kept his stick in his hand, and satdown on a low stool near the fire. D—— is in the mountains, and theevenings there are cold in October. While going backwards and forwardsthe landlord still inspected his guest.

"Will supper be ready soon?" the man asked.


While the new-comer had his back turned to warm himself, the worthylandlord took a pencil from his pocket, and then tore off the cornerof an old newspaper which lay on a small table near the window. On thewhite margin he wrote a line or two, folded up the paper, and handed itto a lad who seemed to serve both as turnspit and page. The landlordwhispered a word in the boy's ear, and he ran off in the direction ofthe Mayor's house. The traveller had seen nothing of all this, and heasked again whether supper would be ready soon. The boy came back withthe paper in his hand, and the landlord eagerly unfolded it, like aman who is expecting an answer. He read it carefully, then shook hishead, and remained thoughtful for a moment. At last he walked up to thetraveller, who seemed plunged in anything but a pleasant reverie.

"I cannot make room for you, sir," he said.

The man half turned on his stool.

"What do you mean? Are you afraid I shall bilk you? Do you want me topay you in advance? I have money, I tell you."

"It is not that"

"What is it, then?"

"You have money."

"Yes," said the man.

"But I have not a spare bed-room."

The man continued quietly: "Put me in the stables."

"I cannot."


"The horses take up all the room."

"Well," the man continued, "a corner in the loft and a truss of straw:we will see to that after supper."

"I cannot give you any supper."

This declaration, made in a measured but firm tone, seemed to thestranger serious. He rose.

"Nonsense, I am dying of hunger. I have been on my legs since sunrise,and have walked twelve leagues. I can pay, and demand food."

"I have none," said the landlord.

The man burst into a laugh, and turned to the chimney and the oven.

"Nothing! Why, what is all this?"

"All this is ordered."

"By whom?"

"By the carriers."

"How many are there of them?"


"There is enough food here for twenty."

The man sat down again, and said without raising his voice,—

"I am at an inn, I am hungry, and so shall remain."

The landlord then stooped down, and whispered with an accent which madehim start, "Be off with you!"

The stranger at this moment was thrusting some logs into the fire withthe ferule of his stick, but he turned quickly, and as he was openinghis mouth to reply, the landlord continued in the same low voice:"Come, enough of this. Do you wish me to tell you your name? It is JeanValjean. Now, do you wish me to tell you who you are? On seeing youcome in I suspected something, so I sent to the police office, and thisis the answer I received. Can you read?"

While saying this, he handed the stranger the paper which had travelledfrom the inn to the office and back again. The man took a glance at it,and mine host continued after a moment's silence,—

"I am accustomed to be polite with everybody. Be off."

The man stooped, picked up his knapsack, and went off. He walked alongthe high street hap-hazard, keeping close to the houses like a sad andhumiliated man. He did not look back once; had he done so he would haveseen the landlord of the Cross of Colbas in his doorway surrounded byall his guests and the passers-by, talking eagerly and pointing tohim: and judging from the looks of suspicion and terror, he might haveguessed that ere long his arrival would be the event of the whole town.He saw nothing of all this, for men who are oppressed do not look back,as they know only too well that an evil destiny is following them.

He walked on thus for a long time, turning down streets he did notknow, and forgetting his fatigue, as happens in sorrow. All at once hewas sharply assailed by hunger: night was approaching, and he lookedround to see whether he could not discover a shelter. The best innwas closed against him, and he sought some very humble pot-house,some wretched den. At this moment a lamp was lit at the end of thestreet, and a fir-branch hanging from an iron bar stood out on thewhite twilight sky. He went towards it: it was really a pot-house. Thestranger stopped for a moment and looked through the window into thelow tap-room, which was lighted up by a small lamp on the table and alarge fire on the hearth. Some men were drinking, and the landlord waswarming himself; over the flames bubbled a caldron hanging from an ironhook. This pot-house, which is also a sort of inn, has two entrances,one on the street, the other opening on a small yard full of manure.The traveller did not dare enter by the street door: he slipped intothe yard, stopped once again, and then timidly raised the latch andopened the door.

"Who's there?" the landlord asked.

"Some one who wants a supper and bed."

"Very good. They are to be had here."

He went in, and all the topers turned to look at him; they examined himfor some time while he was taking off his knapsack. Said the landlordto him, "Here is a fire; supper is boiling in the pot: come and warmyourself, comrade."

He sat down in the ingle and stretched out his feet, which were swollenwith fatigue. A pleasant smell issued from the caldron. All thatcould be distinguished of his face under his cap-peak assumed a vagueappearance of comfort blended with the other wretched appearance whichthe habit of suffering produces. It was, moreover, a firm, energetic,and sad profile; the face was strangely composed, for it began byappearing humble and ended by becoming severe. His eyes gleamed underhis brows, like a fire under brushwood. One of the men seated at thetable was a fishmonger, who, before entering the pot-house, had goneto put up his horse in Labarre's stables. Accident willed it, thaton the same morning he had met this ill-looking stranger walkingbetween Bras d'Asse and—(I have forgotten the name, but I fancy it isEscoublon). Now, on meeting him, the man, who appeared very fatigued,had asked the fishmonger to give him a lift, which had only made himgo the faster. This fishmonger had been half an hour previously oneof the party surrounding Jacquin Labarre, and had told his unpleasantencounter in the morning to the people at the Cross of Colbas. He madean imperceptible sign to the landlord from his seat, and the latterwent up to him, and they exchanged a few whispered words. The man hadfallen back into his reverie.

The landlord went up to the chimney, laid his hand sharply on the man'sshoulder, and said to him,—

"You must be off from here."

The stranger turned and replied gently, "Ah, you know?"


"I was turned out of the other inn."

"And so you will be out of this."

"Where would you have me go?"

"Somewhere else."

The man took his knapsack and stick and went away. As he stepped out,some boys who had followed him from the Cross of Colbas, and seemed tohave been waiting for him, threw stones at him. He turned savagely,and threatened them with his stick, and the boys dispersed like aflock of birds. He passed in front of the prison, and pulled the ironbell-handle; a wicket was opened.

"Mr. Jailer," he said, as he humbly doffed his cap, "would you be kindenough to open the door and give me a nights lodging?"

A voice answered, "A prison is not an inn; get yourself arrested, andthen I will open the door."

The man entered a small street, in which there are numerous gardens,some of them being merely enclosed with hedges, which enliven thestreet. Among these gardens and hedges he saw a single-storeyed house,whose window was illuminated, and he looked through the panes as he haddone at the pot-house. It was a large white-washed room, with a bedwith printed chintz curtains, and a cradle in a corner, a few chairs,and a double-barrelled gun hanging on the wall. A table was laid forsupper in the middle of the room; a copper lamp lit up the coarse whitecloth, the tin mug glistening like silver and full of wine, and thebrown smoking soup-tureen. At this table was seated a man of aboutforty years of age, with a hearty, open face, who was riding a child onhis knee. By his side a woman, still young, was suckling another child.The father was laughing, the children were laughing, and the motherwas smiling. The stranger stood for a moment pensively before thisgentle and calming spectacle; what was going on within him? It would beimpossible to say, but it is probable that he thought that this joyoushouse would prove hospitable, and that where he saw so much happinesshe might find a little pity. He tapped very slightly on a window pane,but was not heard; he tapped a second time, and he heard the woman say,"Husband, I fancy I can hear some one knocking."

"No," the husband answered.

He tapped a third time. The husband rose, took the lamp, and walkedto the front door. He was a tall man, half peasant, half artisan; hewore a huge, leathern apron, which came up to his left shoulder, and onwhich he carried a hammer, a red handkerchief, a powder-flask, and allsorts of things, which his belt held like a pocket. As he threw backhis head, his turned-down shirt-collar displayed his full neck, whiteand bare. He had thick eye-brows, enormous black whiskers, eyes flushwith his head, a bull-dog lower jaw, and over all this that air ofbeing at home, which is inexpressible.

"I beg your pardon, sir," the traveller said, "but would you, forpayment, give me a plateful of soup and a corner to sleep in in yourgarden outhouse?"

"Who are you?" the owner of the cottage asked.

The man answered, "I have come from Puy Moisson, I have walked thewhole day. Could you do it,—for payment of course?"

"I would not refuse," the peasant answered, "to lodge any respectableperson who paid. But why do you not go to the inn?"

"There is no room there."

"Nonsense! that is impossible; it is neither market nor fair day. Haveyou been to Labarre's?"



The traveller continued, with some hesitation, "I do not know why, buthe refused to take me in."

"Have you been to what is his name, in the Rue de Chauffaut?"

The stranger's embarrassment increased; he stammered, "He would nottake me in either."

The peasant's face assumed a suspicious look, he surveyed the new comerfrom head to foot, and all at once exclaimed with a sort of shudder,—

"Can you be the man?..."

He took another look at the stranger, placed the lamp on the table, andtook down his gun. On hearing the peasant say "Can you be the man?"his wife had risen, taken her two children in her arms, and hurriedlysought refuge behind her husband, and looked in horror at the strangeras she muttered, "The villain!" All this took place in less time thanis needed to imagine it. After examining the man for some minutes asif he had been a viper, the peasant returned to the door and said: "Beoff!"

"For mercy's sake," the man continued,—"a glass of water."

"A charge of shot!" the peasant said.

Then he violently closed the door, and the stranger heard two boltsfastened. A moment after the window shutters were closed, and thesound of the iron bar being put in reached his ear. Night was comingon apace: the cold wind of the Alps was blowing. By the light of theexpiring day the stranger noticed in one of the gardens a sort of hutwhich seemed to him to be made of sods of turf. He boldly clamberedover a railing and found himself in the garden; he approached the hut,which had as entrance a narrow, extremely low door, and resembled thetenements which road-menders construct by the side of the highway. Hedoubtless thought it was such: he was suffering from cold and hunger,and though he had made up his mind to starve, it was at any rate ashelter against the cold. As this sort of residence is not usuallyoccupied at night, he lay down on his stomach and crawled into the hut:it was warm, and he found a rather good straw litter in it. He lay fora moment motionless on this bed as his fatigue was so great: but as hisknapsack hurt his back and was a ready-made pillow, he began unbucklingone of the thongs. At this moment a hoarse growl was audible: he raisedhis eyes, and the head of an enormous mastiff stood out in the shadowat the opening of the hut, which was its kennel. The dog itself wasstrong and formidable, hence he raised his stick, employed his knapsackas a shield, and left the kennel as he best could, though not withoutenlarging the rents in his rags.

He also left the garden, but backwards, and compelled to twirl hisstick in order to keep the dog at a respectful distance. When he, notwithout difficulty, had leaped the fence again, and found himselfonce more in the street, alone, without a bed, roof, or shelter, andexpelled even from the bed of straw and the kennel, he fell rather thansat on a stone, and a passer-by heard him exclaim, "I am not even adog." He soon rose and recommenced his walk. He left the town hoping tofind some tree or mill in the fields which would afford him shelter. Hewalked on thus for some time with hanging head; when he found himselffar from all human habitations, he raised his eyes and looked aroundhim. He was in a field, and had in front of him one of those low hillswith close-cut stubble, which after harvest resemble cropped heads. Thehorizon was perfectly black, but it was not solely the gloom of night,but low clouds, which seemed to be resting on the hill itself, rose andfilled the whole sky. Still, as the moon was about to rise shortly, anda remnant of twilight still hovered in the zenith, these clouds formeda species of whitish vault whence a gleam of light was thrown on theearth.

The ground was therefore more illumined than the sky, which producesa peculiarly sinister effect, and the hill with its paltry outlinesstood out vaguely and dully on the gloomy horizon. The whole scene washideous, mean, mournful, and confined; there was nothing in the fieldor on the hill but a stunted tree, which writhed and trembled a fewyards from the traveller. This man was evidently far from possessingthose delicate habits of mind which render persons sensible of themysterious aspects of things, still there was in the sky, this hill,this plain, and this tree, something so profoundly desolate, that afterstanding motionless and thoughtful for a while he suddenly turned back.There are instants in which nature seems to be hostile.

He went back and found the gates of the town closed. D——, whichsustained sieges in the religious wars, was still begirt in 1815 byold walls flanked by square towers, which have since been demolished.He passed through a breach, and re-entered the town. It might be abouteight o'clock in the evening, and as he did not know the streets hewandered about without purpose. He thus reached the prefecture and thenthe seminary; on passing through the Cathedral Square he shook his fistat the church. There is at the corner of this Square a printing-office,where the proclamations of the Emperor and the Imperial Guard to thearmy, brought from Elba, and drawn up by Napoleon himself, were firstprinted. Worn out with fatigue, and hopeless, he sat down on the stonebench at the door of this printing-office. An old lady who was leavingthe church at the moment saw the man stretched out in the darkness.

"What are you doing there, my friend?" she said.

He answered, harshly and savagely, "You can see, my good woman, that Iam going to sleep."

The good woman, who was really worthy of the name, was the Marchionessde R——.

"On that bench?" she continued.

"I have had for nineteen years a wooden mattress," the man said, "andnow I have a stone one."

"Have you been a soldier?"

"Yes, my good woman."

"Why do you not go to the inn?"

"Because I have no money."

"Alas!" said Madame de R——, "I have only two-pence in my purse."

"You can give them to me all the same."

The man took the money, and Madame de R—— continued, "You cannotlodge at an inn for so small a sum, still you should make the attempt,for you cannot possibly spend the night here. Doubtless you are coldand hungry, and some one might take you in for charity."

"I have knocked at every door."


"And was turned away at all."

The "good woman" touched the man's arm and pointed to a small housenext to the Bishop's Palace.

"You have," she continued, "knocked at every door. Have you done sothere?"


"Then do it."



On this evening, the Bishop of D——, after his walk in the town, hadremained in his bed-room till a late hour. He was engaged on a heavywork on the "duties," which he unfortunately has left incomplete.He was still working at eight o'clock, writing rather uncomfortablyon small squares of paper, with a large book open on his knees,when Madame Magloire came in as usual to fetch the plate from thewall-cupboard near the bed. A moment after, the Bishop, feeling thatsupper was ready, and that his sister might be waiting, closed hisbook, rose from the table, and walked into the dining-room. It was anoblong apartment, as we have said, with a door opening on the street,and a window looking on the garden. Madame Magloire had laid the table,and while attending to her duties, was chatting with MademoiselleBaptistine. A lamp was on the table, which was close to the chimney, inwhich a tolerable fire was lighted.

We can easily figure to ourselves the two females, who had bothpassed their sixtieth year: Madame Magloire, short, stout, and quick:Mademoiselle Baptistine, gentle, thin, and frail, somewhat taller thanher brother, dressed in a puce-colored silk gown, the fashionablecolor in 1806, which she had bought in Paris in that year and whichstill held out. Madame Magloire wore a white cap, on her neck a goldjeannette, the only piece of feminine jewelry in the house, a verywhite handkerchief emerging from a black stuff gown with wide and shortsleeves, a calico red and puce checked apron, fastened round the waistwith a green ribbon, with a stomacher of the same stuff fastened withtwo pins at the top corners, heavy shoes and yellow stockings, likethe Marseilles women. Mademoiselle Baptistine's gown was cut after thefashion of 1806, short-waisted, with epaulettes on the sleeves, flapsand buttons, and she concealed her gray hair by a curling front calledà l'enfant. Madame Magloire had an intelligent, quick, and kindlyair, though the unevenly raised corners of her mouth and the upper lip,thicker than the lower, gave her a somewhat rough and imperious air. Solong as Monseigneur was silent, she spoke to him boldly with a mingledrespect and liberty, but so soon as he spoke she passively obeyed, likeMademoiselle, who no longer replied, but restricted herself to obeyingand enduring. Even when she was young the latter was not pretty; shehad large blue eyes, flush with her head, and a long peaked nose;but all her face, all her person, as we said at the outset, breathedineffable kindness. She had always been predestined to gentleness, butfaith, hope, and charity, those three virtues that softly warm thesoul, had gradually elevated that gentleness to sanctity. Nature hadonly made her a lamb, and religion had made her an angel. Poor holywoman! sweet departed recollection!

Mademoiselle afterwards narrated so many times what took place at theBishopric on this evening that several persons still living rememberthe slightest details. At the moment when the Bishop entered MadameMagloire was talking with some vivacity; she was conversing withMademoiselle on a subject that was familiar to her, and to which theBishop was accustomed—it was the matter of the frontdoor latch. Itappears that while going to purchase something for supper, MadameMagloire had heard things spoken of in certain quarters; people weretalking of an ill-looking prowler, that a suspicious vagabond hadarrived, who must be somewhere in the town, and that it would possiblybe an unpleasant thing for any one out late to meet him. The policewere very badly managed because the Prefect and the Mayor were notfriendly, and tried to injure each other by allowing things to happen.Hence wise people would be their own police, and be careful to closetheir houses and lock their doors.

Madame Magloire italicized the last sentence, but the Bishop had comefrom his room where it was rather cold, and was warming himself atthe fire while thinking of other matters; in fact, he did not pick upthe words which Madame Magloire had just let drop. She repeated them,and then Mademoiselle, who wished to satisfy Madame Magloire withoutdispleasing her brother, ventured to say timidly,—

"Brother, do you hear what Madame Magloire is saying?"

"I vaguely heard something," the Bishop answered; then he half turnedhis chair, placed his hand on his knees, and looked up at the oldservant with his cordial and easily-pleased face, which the fireillumined from below: "Well, what is it? what is it? are we in anygreat danger?"

Then Madame Magloire told her story over again, while exaggerating itslightly, though unsuspicious of the fact. It would seem that a gypsy,a barefooted fellow, a sort of dangerous beggar, was in the town at themoment. He had tried to get a lodging at Jacquin Labarre's, who hadrefused to take him in. He had been seen prowling about the streets atnightfall, and was evidently a gallows bird, with his frightful face.

"Is he really?" said the Bishop.

This cross-questioning encouraged Madame Magloire; it seemed toindicate that the Bishop was beginning to grow alarmed, and hence shecontinued triumphantly,—

"Yes, Monseigneur, it is so, and some misfortune will occur in the townthis night: everybody says so, and then the police are so badly managed[useful repetition]. Fancy living in a mountain town, and not evenhaving lanterns in the streets at nights! You go out and find yourselfin pitch darkness. I say, Monseigneur, and Mademoiselle says—"

"I," the sister interrupted, "say nothing; whatever my brother does isright."

Madame Magloire continued, as if no protest had been made,—

"We say that this house is not at all safe, and that if Monseigneurpermits I will go to Paulin Musebois, the locksmith, and tell him toput the old bolts on the door again; I have them by me, and it will nottake a minute; and I say, Monseigneur, that we ought to have bolts ifit were only for this night, for I say that a door which can be openedfrom the outside by the first passer-by is most terrible: besides,Monseigneur is always accustomed to say "Come in," and in the middle ofthe night, oh, my gracious! there is no occasion to ask for permission."

At this moment there was a rather loud rap at the front door.

"Come in," said the Bishop.



The door was thrown open wide, as if some one were pushing itenergetically and resolutely. A man entered whom we already know; itwas the traveller whom we saw just now wandering about in search of ashelter. He entered and stopped, leaving the door open behind him. Hehad his knapsack on his shoulder, his stick in his hand, and a rough,bold, wearied, and violent expression in his eyes. The fire-light fellon him; he was hideous; it was a sinister apparition.

Madame Magloire had not even the strength to utter a cry, she shiveredand stood with widely-open mouth. Mademoiselle Baptistine turned,perceived the man who entered, and half started up in terror; then,gradually turning her head to the chimney, she began looking at herbrother, and her face became again calm and serene. The Bishop fixeda quiet eye on the man, as he opened his mouth, doubtless to ask thenew-comer what he wanted. The man leaned both his hands on his stick,looked in turn at the two aged females and the old man, and, notwaiting for the Bishop to speak, said in a loud voice,—

"Look here! My name is Jean Valjean. I am a galley-slave, and havespent nineteen years in the bagne. I was liberated four days ago, andstarted for Pontarlier, which is my destination. I have been walkingfor four days since I left Toulon, and to-day I have marched twelveleagues. This evening on coming into the town I went to the inn, butwas sent away in consequence of my yellow passport, which I had shownat the police office. I went to another inn, and the landlord said tome, "Be off!" It was the same everywhere, and no one would have anydealings with me. I went to the prison, but the jailer would not takeme in. I got into a dogs kennel, but the dog bit me and drove me off,as if it had been a man; it seemed to know who I was. I went into thefields to sleep in the star-light, but there were no stars. I thoughtit would rain, and as there was no God to prevent it from raining, Icame back to the town to sleep in a doorway. I was lying down on astone in the square, when a good woman pointed to your house, and said,"Go and knock there." What sort of a house is this? Do you keep aninn? I have money, 109 francs 15 sous, which I earned at the bagne bymy nineteen years' toil. I will pay, for what do I care for that, asI have money! I am very tired and frightfully hungry; will you let mestay here?"

"Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, "you will lay another knife andfork."

The man advanced three paces, and approached the lamp which was on thetable. "Wait a minute," he continued, as if he had not comprehended,"that will not do. Did you not hear me say that I was a galley-slave, aconvict, and have just come from the bagne?" He took from his pocket alarge yellow paper, which he unfolded. "Here is my passport, yellow asyou see, which turns me out wherever I go. Will you read it? I can readit, for I learned to do so at the bagne, where there is a school forthose who like to attend it. This is what is written in my passport:'Jean Valjean, a liberated convict, native of'—but that does notconcern you—'has remained nineteen years at the galleys. Five yearsfor robbery with house-breaking, fourteen years for having tried toescape four times. The man is very dangerous.' All the world has turnedme out, and are you willing to receive me? Is this an inn? Will yougive me some food and a bed? Have you a stable?"

"Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, "you will put clean sheets on thebed in the alcove."

We have already explained of what nature was the obedience of the twofemales. Madame Magloire left the room to carry out the orders. TheBishop turned to the man.

"Sit down and warm yourself, sir. We shall sup directly, and your bedwill be got ready while we are supping."

The man understood this at once. The expression of his face, which hadhitherto been gloomy and harsh, was marked with stupefaction, joy,doubt, and became extraordinary. He began stammering like a lunatic.

"Is it true? what? You will let me stay, you will not turn me out, aconvict? You call me Sir, you do not 'thou' me. 'Get out, dog!' thatis what is always said to me; I really believed that you would turn meout, and hence told you at once who I am. Oh! what a worthy woman shewas who sent me here! I shall have supper, a bed with mattresses andsheets, like everybody else. For nineteen years I have not slept in abed! You really mean that I am to stay. You are worthy people; besides,I have money, and will pay handsomely. By the way, what is your name,Mr. Landlord? I will pay anything you please, for you are a worthy man.You keep an inn, do you not?"

"I am," said the Bishop, "a priest living in this house."

"A priest!" the man continued. "Oh! what a worthy priest! I suppose youwill not ask me for money. The Curé, I suppose,—the Curé of that bigchurch? Oh yes, what an ass I am! I did not notice your cassock."

While speaking he deposited his knapsack and stick in a corner,returned his passport to his pocket, and sat down. While MademoiselleBaptistine regarded him gently, he went on,—

"You are humane, sir, and do not feel contempt. A good priest is verygood. Then you do not want me to pay?"

"No," said the Bishop, "keep your money. How long did you take inearning these 109 francs?"

"Nineteen years."

"Nineteen years!" The Bishop gave a deep sigh.

The man went on: "I have all my money still; in four days I have onlyspent 25 sous, which I earned by helping to unload carts at Grasse. Asyou are an abbé I will tell you: we had a chaplain at the bagne, andone day I saw a bishop, Monseigneur, as they call him. He is the curéover the curés, you know. Pardon, I express it badly; but it is so farabove me, a poor convict, you see. He said mass in the middle of thebagne at an altar, and had a pointed gold thing on his head, whichglistened in the bright sunshine; we were drawn up on three sides of asquare, with guns and lighted matches facing us. He spoke, but was toofar off, and we did not hear him. That is what a bishop is."

While he was speaking the Bishop had gone to close the door, which hadbeen left open. Madame Magloire came in, bringing a silver spoon andfork, which she placed on the table.

"Madame Magloire," said the Bishop, "lay them as near as you can to thefire;" and turning to his guest, he said, "The night breeze is sharp onthe Alps, and you must be cold, sir."

Each time he said the word Sir with his gentle grave voice the man'sface was illumined. Sir to a convict is the glass of water to theshipwrecked sailor of the Méduse. Ignominy thirsts for respect.

"This lamp gives a very bad light," the Bishop continued. MadameMagloire understood, and fetched from the chimney of Monseigneur'sbed-room the two silver candlesticks, which she placed on the tableready lighted.

"Monsieur le Curé," said the man, "you are good, and do not despise me.You receive me as a friend and light your wax candles for me, and yetI have not hidden from you whence I come, and that I am an unfortunatefellow."

The Bishop, who was seated by his side, gently touched his hand. "Youneed not have told me who you were; this is not my house, but thehouse of Christ. This door does not ask a man who enters whether hehas a name, but if he has a sorrow; you are suffering, you are hungryand thirsty, and so be welcome. And do not thank me, or say that I amreceiving you in my house, for no one is at home here excepting the manwho has need of an asylum. I tell you, who are a passer-by, that youare more at home here than I am myself, and all there is here is yours.Why do I want to know your name? besides, before you told it to me youhad one which I knew."

The man opened his eyes in amazement.

"Is that true? you know my name?"

"Yes," the Bishop answered, "you are my brother."

"Monsieur le Curé," the man exclaimed, "I was very hungry when I camein, but you are so kind that I do not know at present what I feel; ithas passed over."

The Bishop looked at him and said,—

"You have suffered greatly?"

"Oh! the red jacket, the cannon ball on your foot, a plank to sleep on,heat, cold, labor, the set of men, the blows, the double chain for anothing, a dungeon for a word, even when you are ill in bed, and thechain-gang. The very dogs are happier. Nineteen years! and now I amforty-six; and at present, the yellow passport! There it is!"

"Yes," said the Bishop, "you have come from a place of sorrow. Listento me; there will be more joy in heaven over the tearful face of arepentant sinner than over the white robes of one hundred just men. Ifyou leave that mournful place with thoughts of hatred and anger againstyour fellow-men you are worthy of pity; if you leave it with thoughtsof kindliness, gentleness, and peace, you are worth more than any ofus."

In the meanwhile Madame Magloire had served the soup: it was made ofwater, oil, bread, and salt, and a little bacon, and the rest of thesupper consisted of a piece of mutton, figs, a fresh cheese, and a loafof rye bread. She had herself added a bottle of old Mauves wine. TheBishop's face suddenly assumed the expression of gayety peculiar tohospitable natures. "To table," he said eagerly, as he was wont to dowhen any stranger supped with him; and he bade the man sit down on hisright hand, while Mlle. Baptistine, perfectly peaceful and natural,took her seat on his left. The Bishop said grace, and then served thesoup himself, according to his wont. The man began eating greedily. Allat once the Bishop said,—

"It strikes me that there is something wanting on the table."

Madame Magloire, truth to tell, had only laid the absolutely necessarysilver. Now it was the custom in this house, when the Bishop had anyone to supper, to arrange the whole stock of plate on the table, asan innocent display. This graceful semblance of luxury was a speciesof childishness full of charm in this gentle and strict house, whichelevated poverty to dignity. Madame Magloire took the hint, went outwithout a word, and a moment after the remaining spoons and forksglittered on the cloth, symmetrically arranged before each of theguests.



And now, in order to give an idea of what took place at table, wecannot do better than transcribe a passage of a letter writtenby Mademoiselle Baptistine to Madame Boischevron, in which theconversation between the convict and the Bishop is recorded with simpleminuteness.

"The man paid no attention to any one; he ate with frightful voracity,but after supper he said,—

"Monsieur le Curé, all this is much too good for me; but I am bound tosay that the carriers who would not let me sup with them have bettercheer than you."

"Between ourselves, this remark slightly offended me, but my brotheranswered,—

"They are harder worked than I am."

"No," the man continued, "they have more money. You are poor, as I canplainly see; perhaps you are not even curé. Ah, if Heaven were just youought to be a curé."

"Heaven is more than just," said my brother. A moment after he added,—

"Monsieur Jean Valjean, I think you said you were going to Pontarlier?"

"I am compelled to go there." Then he continued, "I must be off bysunrise to-morrow morning; it is a tough journey, for if the nights arecold the days are hot."

"You are going to an excellent part of the country," my brotherresumed. "When the Revolution ruined my family I sought shelter firstin Franche Comté, and lived there for some time by the labor of myarms. I had a good will, and found plenty to do, as I need only choose.There are paper-mills, tanneries, distilleries, oil-mills, wholesalemanufactories of clocks, steel works, copper works, and at least twentyiron foundries, of which the four at Lods, Chatillon, Audincourt, andBeure are very large."

"I am pretty sure I am not mistaken, and that they are the names mybrother mentioned; then he broke off and addressed me.

"My dear sister, have we not some relatives in those parts?"

"My answer was, 'We used to have some; among others Monsieur deLucinet, who was Captain of the gates at Pontarlier, under the ancientrégime."

"Yes," my brother continued, "but in '93 people had no relatives, butonly their arms, and so I worked. In the country to which you aregoing, Monsieur Valjean, there is a truly patriarchal and pleasingtrade. My dear sister, I mean their cheese manufactures, which theycall fruitières."

"Then my brother, while pressing this man to eat, explained in theirfullest details the fruitières of Pontarlier, which were divided intotwo classes—the large farms which belong to the rich, and where thereare forty or fifty cows, which produce seven to eight thousand cheesesin the summer, and the partnership fruitières, which belong to thepoor. The peasants of the central mountain district keep their cows incommon and divide the produce. They have a cheese-maker, who is calledthe grurin; he receives the milk from the partners thrice a day, andenters the quantities in a book. The cheese-making begins about themiddle of April, and the dairy farmers lead their cows to the mountainstoward midsummer.

"The man grew animated while eating, and my brother made him drink thatexcellent Mauves wine, which he does not drink himself because he saysthat it is expensive. My brother gave him all these details with thateasy gayety of his which you know, mingling his remarks with gracefulappeals to myself. He dwelt a good deal on the comfortable position ofthe grurin, as if wishful that this man should understand, withoutadvising him directly and harshly, that it would be a refuge for him.One thing struck me: the man was as I have described him to you; well,my brother, during the whole of supper, and indeed of the evening, didnot utter a word which could remind this man of what he was, or tellhim who my brother was. It was apparently a good opportunity to givehim a little lecture, and let the Bishop produce a permanent effecton the galley-slave. It might have seemed to any one else that havingthis wretched man in hand it would be right to feed his mind at thesame time as his body, and address to him some reproaches seasonedwith morality and advice, or at any rate a little commiseration, withan exhortation to behave better in future. My brother did not even askhim where he came from, or his history, for his fault is containedin his history, and my brother appeared to avoid everything whichmight call it to his mind. This was carried to such a point that at acertain moment, when my brother was talking about the mountaineers ofPontarlier, 'who had a pleasant task near heaven,' and who, he added,'are happy because they are innocent,' he stopped short, fearing lestthere might be in the remark something which might unpleasantly affectthis man. After considerable reflection, I believe I can understandwhat was going on in my brother's heart: he doubtless thought that thisJean Valjean had his misery ever present to his mind, that the bestthing was to distract his attention, and make him believe, were it onlymomentarily, that he was a man like the rest, by behaving to him as hewould to others. Was not this really charity? Is there not, my dearlady, something truly evangelical in this delicacy, which abstains fromall lecturing and allusions, and is it not the best pity, when a manhas a sore point, not to touch it at all? It seemed to me that thismight be my brother's innermost thought: in any case, what I can safelysay is, that if he had all these ideas, he did not let any of them bevisible, even to me; he was from beginning to end the same man he isevery night, and he supped with Jean Valjean with the same air and inthe same way as if he had been supping with M. Gedeon le Prevost, orwith the parish curate.

"Toward the end, when we had come to the figs, there was a knock atthe door. It was Mother Gerbaud with her little baby in her arms. Mybrother kissed the child's forehead, and borrowed from me 15 sous whichI happened to have about me, to give them to the mother. The man,while this was going on, did not seem to pay great attention: he saidnothing, and seemed very tired. When poor old Mother Gerbaud left, mybrother said grace, and then said to this man: 'You must need yourbed.' Madame Magloire hastily removed the plate. I understood that wemust retire in order to let this traveller sleep, and we both wentup-stairs. I, however, sent Madame Magloire to lay on the man's bed aroebuck's hide from the Black Forest, which was in my room, for thenights are very cold, and that keeps you wann. It is a pity that thisskin is old and the hair is wearing off. My brother bought it when hewas in Germany, at Tottlingen, near the source of the Danube, as wellas the small ivory-handled knife which I use at meals.

"Madame Magloire came up again almost immediately. We said our prayersin the room where the clothes are hung up to dry, and then retired toour bed-rooms without saying a word to each other."



After bidding his sister good-night, Monseigneur Welcome took up one ofthe silver candlesticks, handed the other to his guest, and said,—

"I will lead you to your room, sir."

The man followed him. The reader will remember, from our description,that the rooms were so arranged that in order to reach the oratorywhere the alcove was it was necessary to pass through the Bishop'sbed-room. At the moment when he went through this room Madame Magloirewas putting away the plate in the cupboard over the bed-head: it wasthe last job she did every night before retiring. The Bishop led hisguest to the alcove, where a clean bed was prepared for him; the manplaced the branched candlestick on a small table.

"I trust you will pass a good night," said the Bishop. "To-morrowmorning, before starting, you will drink a glass of milk fresh from ourcows."

"Thank you, Monsieur l'Abbé," the man said. He had hardly uttered thesepeaceful words when, suddenly and without any transition, he had astrange emotion, which would have frightened the two old females todeath had they witnessed it. Even at the present day it is difficultto account for what urged him at the moment. Did he wish to warn or tothreaten? was he simply obeying a species of instinctive impulse whichwas obscure to himself? He suddenly turned to the old gentleman, foldedhis arms, and, fixing on him a savage glance, he exclaimed hoarsely,—

"What! you really lodge me so close to you as that?" He broke off andadded with a laugh, in which there was something monstrous,—

"Have you reflected fully? who tells you that I have not committed amurder?"

The Bishop answered: "That concerns God."

Then gravely moving his lips, like a man who is praying and speaking tohimself, he stretched out two fingers of his right hand and blessed theman, who did not bow his head, and returned to his bed-room, withoutturning his head or looking behind him. When the alcove was occupied, alarge serge curtain drawn right across the oratory concealed the altar.The Bishop knelt down as he passed before this curtain, and offered upa short prayer; a moment after he was in his garden, walking, dreaming,contemplating, his soul and thoughts entirely occupied by those grandmysteries which God displays at night to eyes that remain open.

As for the man, he was really so wearied that he did not even takeadvantage of the nice white sheets. He blew out the candle with hisnostrils, after the fashion of convicts, and threw himself in hisclothes upon the bed, where he at once fell into a deep sleep. Midnightwas striking as the Bishop returned from the garden to his room, and afew minutes later everybody was asleep in the small house.



Toward the middle of the night Jean Valjean awoke. He belonged toa poor peasant family of La Brie. In his childhood he had not beentaught to read, and when he was of man's age he was a wood-lopper atFaverolles. His mother's name was Jeanne Mathieu, his father's JeanValjean or Vlajean, probably a sobriquet and a contraction of VoilàJean. Jean Valjean possessed a pensive but not melancholy character,which is peculiar to affectionate natures; but altogether he was adull, insignificant fellow, at least apparently. He had lost father andmother when still very young: the latter died of a badly-managed milkfever; the former, a pruner like himself, was killed by a fall from atree. All that was left Jean Valjean was a sister older than himself,a widow with seven children, boys and girls. This sister brought JeanValjean up, and so long as her husband was alive she supported herbrother. When the husband died, the oldest of the seven children waseight years of age, the youngest, one, while Jean Valjean had justreached his twenty-fifth year; he took the place of the father, and inhis turn supported the sister who had reared him. This was done simplyas a duty, and even rather roughly by Jean Valjean; and his youth wasthus expended in hard and ill-paid toil. He was never known to have hada sweetheart, for he had no time for love-making.

At night he came home tired, and ate his soup without saying a word.His sister, mother Jeanne, while he was eating, often took out of hisporringer the best part of his meal, the piece of meat, the slice ofbacon, or the heart of the cabbage, to give it to one of her children;he, still eating, bent over the table with his head almost in the soup,and his long hair falling round his porringer and hiding his eyes,pretended not to see it, and let her do as she pleased. There was atFaverolles, not far from the Valjeans' cottage, on the other side ofthe lane, a farmer's wife called Marie Claude. The young Valjeans,who were habitually starving, would go at times and borrow in theirmother's name a pint of milk from Marie Claude, which they drank behinda hedge or in some corner, tearing the vessel from each other soeagerly that the little girls spilt the milk over their aprons. Theirmother, had she been aware of this fraud, would have severely correctedthe delinquents, but Jean Valjean, coarse and rough though he was, paidMarie Claude for the milk behind his sister's back, and the childrenwere not punished.

He earned in the pruning season eighteen sous a day, and besides hiredhimself out as reaper, laborer, neat-herd, and odd man. He did whathe could; his sister worked too, but what could she do with sevenchildren? It was a sad group, which wretchedness gradually envelopedand choked. One winter was hard, and Jean had no work to do, and thefamily had no bread. No bread, literally none, and seven children!

One Sunday evening, Maubert Isabeau, the baker in the church square atFaverolles, was just going to bed when he heard a violent blow dealtthe grating in front of his shop. He arrived in time to see an armpassed through a hole made by a fist through the grating and windowpane; the arm seized a loaf, and carried it off. Isabeau ran outhastily; the thief ran away at his hardest, but the baker caught himand stopped him. The thief had thrown away the loaf, but his arm wasstill bleeding; it was Jean Valjean.

This took place in 1795. Jean Valjean was brought before the courts ofthe day, charged "with burglary committed with violence at night, inan inhabited house." He had a gun, was a splendid shot, and a bit of apoacher, and this injured him. There is a legitimate prejudice againstpoachers, for, like smugglers, they trench very closely on brigandage.Still we must remark that there is an abyss between these classes andthe hideous assassins of our cities: the poacher lives in the forest;the smuggler in the mountains and on the sea. Cities produce ferociousmen, because they produce corrupted men; the forest, the mountain, andthe sea produce savage men, but while they develop their ferociousside, they do not always destroy their human part. Jean Valjean wasfound guilty, and the terms of the code were precise. There are in ourcivilization formidable hours; they are those moments in which penaljustice pronounces a shipwreck. What a mournful minute is that in whichsociety withdraws and consummates the irreparable abandonment of athinking being! Jean Valjean was sentenced to five years at the galleys.

On April 22d, 1796, men were crying in the streets of Paris thevictory of Montenotte, gained by the General-in-chief of the army ofItaly, whom the message of the Directory to the Five Hundred, of the2 Floréal, year IV., calls Buona-Parte; and on the same day a heavygang was put in chains at Bicetre, and Jean Valjean formed part of thechain. An ex-jailer of the prison, who is now nearly ninety years ofa*ge, perfectly remembers the wretched man, who was chained at the endof the fourth cordon, in the north angle of the court-yard. He wasseated on the ground like the rest, and seemed not at all to understandhis position, except that it was horrible. It is probable that he alsosaw something excessive through the vague ideas of an utterly ignorantman. While the bolt of his iron collar was being riveted with heavyhammer-blows behind his head, he wept, tears choked him, and preventedhim from speaking, and he could only manage to say from time to time:"I was a wood-cutter at Faverolles." Then, while still continuing tosob, he raised his right hand, and lowered it gradually seven times, asif touching seven uneven heads in turn, and from this gesture it couldbe guessed that whatever the crime he had committed, he had done it tofeed and clothe seven children.

He started for Toulon, and arrived there after a journey oftwenty-seven days in a cart, with the chain on his neck. At Toulon hewas dressed in the red jacket. All that had hitherto been his life,even to his name, was effaced. He was no longer Jean Valjean, but No.24,601. What became of his sister? What became of the seven children?Who troubles himself about that? What becomes of the spray of leaveswhen the stem of the young tree has been cut at the foot? It is alwaysthe same story. These poor living beings, these creatures of God,henceforth without support, guide, or shelter, went off hap-hazard,and gradually buried themselves in that cold fog in which solitarydestinies are swallowed up, that mournful gloom in which so manyunfortunates disappear during the sullen progress of the human race.They left their country; what had once been their steeple forgot them;what had once been their hedge-row forgot them; and after a few years'stay in the bagne, Jean Valjean himself forgot them. In that heartwhere there had once been a wound there was now a scar: that was all.He only heard about his sister once during the whole time he spent atToulon; it was, I believe, toward the end of the fourth year of hiscaptivity, though I have forgotten in what way the information reachedhim. She was in Paris, living in the Rue du Geindre, a poor street,near St. Sulpice, and had only one child with her, the youngest, aboy. Where were the other six? Perhaps she did not know herself. Everymorning she went to a printing-office, No. 3, Rue du Sabot, whereshe was a folder and stitcher; she had to be there at six in themorning, long before daylight in winter. In the same house as theprinting-office there was a day-school, to which she took the littleboy, who was seven years of age, but as she went to work at six and theschool did not open till seven o'clock, the boy was compelled to waitin the yard for an hour, in winter,—an hour of night in the open air.The boy was not allowed to enter the printing-office, because it wassaid that he would be in the way. The workmen as they passed in themorning saw the poor little fellow seated on the pavement, and oftensleeping in the darkness, with his head on his satchel. When it rained,an old woman, the portress, took pity on him; she invited him into herden, where there were only a bed, a spinning-wheel, and two chairs,when the little fellow fell asleep in a corner, clinging to the cat, tokeep him warm. This is what Jean Valjean was told; it was a momentaryflash, as it were a window suddenly opened in the destiny of the beingshe had loved, and then all was closed again; he never heard about themmore. Nothing reached him from them; he never saw them again, nevermet them, and we shall not come across them in the course of thismelancholy narrative.

Toward the end of this fourth year, Jean Valjean's turn to escapearrived, and his comrades aided him as they always do in thissorrowful place. He escaped and wandered about the fields at libertyfor two days: if it is liberty to be hunted down; to turn ones headat every moment; to start at the slightest sound; to be afraid ofeverything,—of a chimney that smokes, a man who passes, a barking dog,a galloping horse, the striking of the hour, of day because peoplesee, of night because they do not see, of the highway, the path, thethicket, and even sleep. On the evening of the second day he wasrecaptured; he had not eaten or slept for six-and-thirty hours. Themaritime tribunal added three years to his sentence for his crime,which made it eight years. In the sixth year, it was again his turn toescape; he tried, but could not succeed. He was missing at roll-call,the gun was fired, and at night the watchman found him hidden under thekeel of a ship that was building, and he resisted the garde chiourme,who seized him. Escape and rebellion: this fact, foreseen by thespecial code, was punished by an addition of five years, of which twowould be spent in double chains. Thirteen years. In his tenth year histurn came again, and he took advantage of it, but succeeded no better:three years for this new attempt, or sixteen years in all. Finally, Ithink it was during his thirteenth year that he made a last attempt,and only succeeded so far as to be recaptured in four hours: threeyears for these four hours, and a total of nineteen years. In October,1815, he was liberated; he had gone in in 1796 for breaking a windowand stealing a loaf.

Let us make room for a short parenthesis. This is the second time that,during his essays on the penal question and condemnation by the law,the author of this book has come across a loaf as the starting point ofthe disaster of a destiny. Claude Gueux stole a loaf, and so did JeanValjean, and English statistics prove that in London four robberies outof five have hunger as their immediate cause. Jean Valjean entered thebagne sobbing and shuddering: he left it stoically. He entered it indespair: he came out of it gloomy. What had taken place in this soul?



Society must necessarily look at these things, because they are createdby it. He was, as we have said, an ignorant man, but he was notweak-minded. The natural light was kindled within him, and misfortune,which also has its brightness, increased the little daylight therewas in this mind. Under the stick and the chain in the dungeon, whenat work, beneath the torrid sun of the bagne, or when lying on theconvict's plank, he reflected. He constituted himself a court, andbegan by trying himself. He recognized that he was not an innocentman unjustly punished; he confessed to himself that he had committedan extreme and blamable action; that the loaf would probably not havebeen refused him had he asked for it; that in any case it would havebeen better to wait for it, either from pity or from labor, and thatit was not a thoroughly unanswerable argument to say, "Can a man waitwhen he is hungry?" That, in the first place, it is very rare for aman to die literally of hunger; next, that, unhappily or happily, manis so made that he can suffer for a long time and severely, morallyand physically, without dying; that hence he should have been patient;that it would have been better for the poor little children; that itwas an act of madness for him, a wretched weak man, violently to collarsociety and to imagine that a man can escape from wretchedness bytheft; that in any case the door by which a man enters infamy is a badone by which to escape from wretchedness; and, in short, that he hadbeen in the wrong.

Then he asked himself if he were the only person who had been inthe wrong in his fatal history? whether, in the first place, it wasnot a serious thing that he, a workman, should want for work; thathe, laborious as he was, should want for bread? whether, next, whenthe fault was committed and confessed, the punishment had not beenferocious and excessive, and whether there were not more abuse onthe side of the law in the penalty than there was on the side of theculprit in the crime? whether there had not been an excessive weight inone of the scales, that one in which expiation lies? whether the excessof punishment were not the effacement of the crime, and led to theresult of making a victim of the culprit, a creditor of the debtor, anddefinitively placing the right on the side of the man who had violatedit? whether this penalty, complicated by excessive aggravations forattempted escapes, did not eventually become a sort of attack madeby the stronger on the weaker, a crime of society committed on theindividual, a crime which was renewed every day, and had lasted fornineteen years? He asked himself if human society could have the rightto make its members equally undergo, on one side, its unreasonableimprovidence, on the other its pitiless foresight, and to hold a maneternally between a want and an excess, want of work and excess ofpunishment? whether it were not exorbitant that society should treatthus its members who were worst endowed in that division of propertywhich is made by chance, and consequently the most worthy of indulgence?

These questions asked and solved, he passed sentence on society andcondemned it—to his hatred. He made it responsible for the fate heunderwent, and said to himself that he would not hesitate to call itto account some day. He declared that there was no equilibrium betweenthe damage he had caused and the damage caused him; and he came to theconclusion that his punishment was not an injustice, but most assuredlyan iniquity. Wrath may be wild and absurd; a man may be wronglyirritated; but he is only indignant when he has some show of reasonsomewhere. Jean Valjean felt indignant. And then, again, human societyhad never done him aught but harm, he had only seen its wrathful face,which is called its justice, and shows itself to those whom it strikes.Men had only laid hands on him to injure him, and any contact with themhad been a blow to him. Never, since his infancy, since his motherand his sister, had he heard a kind word or met a friendly look. Fromsuffering after suffering, he gradually attained the conviction thatlife was war, and that in this war he was the vanquished. As he had noother weapon but his hatred, he resolved to sharpen it in the bagne andtake it with him when he left.

There was at Toulon a school for the chain-gang, kept by the IgnorantinBrethren, who imparted elementary instruction to those wretches whowere willing to learn. He was one of the number, and went to school atthe age of forty, where he learned reading, writing, and arithmetic;he felt that strengthening his mind was strengthening his hatred. Incertain cases, instruction and education may serve as allies to evil.It is sad to say, that after trying society which had caused hismisfortunes, he tried Providence, who had made society, and condemnedit also. Hence, during these nineteen years of torture and slavery,this soul ascended and descended at the same time; light entered onone side and darkness on the other. As we have seen, Jean Valjean wasnot naturally bad, he was still good when he arrived at the bagne.He condemned society then, and felt that he was growing wicked; hecondemned Providence, and felt that he was growing impious.

Here it is difficult not to meditate for a moment. Is human naturethus utterly transformed? Can man, who is created good by God, be madebad by man? Can the soul be entirely remade by destiny, and becomeevil if the destiny be evil? Can the heart be deformed, and contractincurable ugliness and infirmity under the pressure of disproportionatemisfortune, like the spine beneath too low a vault? Is there not inevery human soul, was there not in that of Jean Valjean especially,a primary spark, a divine element, incorruptible in this world, andimmortal for the other, which good can develop, illumine, and cause toglisten splendidly, and which evil can never entirely extinguish?

These are grave and obscure questions, the last of which everyphysiologist would unhesitatingly have answered in the negative,had he seen at Toulon, in those hours of repose which were forJean Valjean hours of reverie, this gloomy, stern, silent, andpensive galley-slave—the pariah of the law which regarded menpassionately—the condemned of civilization, who regarded Heaven withseverity—seated with folded arms on a capstan bar, with the end of hischain thrust into his pocket to prevent it from dragging. We assuredlydo not deny that the physiological observer would have seen there anirremediable misery; he would probably have pitied this patient of thelaw, but he would not have even attempted a cure: he would have turnedaway from the caverns he noticed in this soul, and, like Dante at thegates of the Inferno, he would have effaced from this existence thatword which GOD, however, has written on the brow of every man: hope!

Was this state of his soul, which we have attempted to analyze, asperfectly clear to Jean Valjean as we have tried to render it to ourreaders? Did Jean Valjean see after their formation, and had he seendistinctly as they were formed, all the elements of which his moralwretchedness was composed? Had this rude and unlettered man clearlycomprehended the succession of ideas by which he had step by stepascended and descended to the gloomy views which had for so many yearsbeen the inner horizon of his mind? Was he really conscious of all thathad taken place in him and all that was stirring in him? This we shouldnot like to assert, and, indeed, we are not inclined to believe it.There was too much ignorance in Jean Valjean for a considerable amountof vagueness not to remain, even after so much misfortune; at timeshe did not even know exactly what he experienced. Jean Valjean was indarkness; he suffered in darkness, and he hated in darkness. He livedhabitually in this shadow, groping like a blind man and a dreamer;at times he was attacked, both internally and externally, by a shockof passion, a surcharge of suffering, a pale and rapid flash whichillumined his whole soul, and suddenly made him see all around, bothbefore and behind him, in the glare of a frightful light, the hideousprecipices and gloomy perspective of his destiny. When the flash hadpassed, night encompassed him again, and where was he? He no longerknew.

The peculiarity of punishments of this nature, in which nought but whatis pitiless, that is to say brutalizing, prevails, is gradually, andby a species of stupid transfiguration, to transform a man into a wildbeast, at times a ferocious beast. Jean Valjean's attempted escapes,successive and obstinate, would be sufficient to prove the strange workcarried on by the law upon a human soul; he would have renewed theseattempts, so utterly useless and mad, as many times as the opportunityoffered itself, without dreaming for a moment of the result, or theexperiments already made. He escaped impetuously like the wolf thatfinds its cage open. Instinct said to him, "Run away;" reasoningwould have said to him, "Remain;" but in the presence of so violent atemptation, reason disappeared and instinct alone was left. The brutealone acted, and when he was recaptured the new severities inflicted onhim only served to render him more wild.

One fact we must not omit mentioning is that he possessed a physicalstrength with which no one in the bagne could compete. In turning acapstan, Jean Valjean was equal to four men; he frequently raised andheld on his back enormous weights, and took the place at times of thatinstrument which is called a jack, and was formerly called orgueil,from which, by the way, the Rue Montorgueil derived its name. Hiscomrades surnamed him Jean the Jack. Once when the balcony of the TownHall at Toulon was being repaired, one of those admirable caryatides ofPuget's which support the balcony, became loose and almost fell. JeanValjean, who was on the spot, supported the statue with his shoulder,and thus gave the workmen time to come up.

His suppleness even exceeded his vigor. Some convicts, who perpetuallydream of escaping, eventually make a real science of combined skilland strength; it is the science of the muscles. A full course ofmysterious statics is daily practised by the prisoners, those eternalenviers of flies and birds. Swarming up a perpendicular, and findinga resting-place where a projection is scarcely visible, was child'splay for Jean Valjean. Given a corner of a wall, with the tension ofhis back and hams, with his elbows and heels clinging to the roughstone, he would hoist himself as if by magic to a third story, and attimes would ascend to the very roof of the bagne. He spoke little andnever laughed; it needed some extreme emotion to draw from him, onceor twice a year, that mournful convict laugh, which is, as it were,the echo of fiendish laughter. To look at him, he seemed engaged incontinually gazing at something terrible. He was, in fact, absorbed.Through the sickly perceptions of an incomplete nature and a crushedintellect, he saw confusedly that a monstrous thing was hanging overhim. In this obscure and dull gloom through which he crawled, whereverhe turned his head and essayed to raise his eye, he saw, with a terrorblended with rage, built up above him, with frightfully scarped sides,a species of terrific pile of things, laws, prejudices, men, and facts,whose outline escaped him, whose mass terrified him, and which wasnothing else but that prodigious pyramid which we call civilization.He distinguished here and there in this heaving and shapelessconglomeration—at one moment close to him, at another on distant andinaccessible plateaux—some highly illumined group;—here the jailerand his stick, there the gendarme and his sabre, down below the mitredarchbishop, and on the summit, in a species of sun, the crowned anddazzling Emperor. It seemed to him as if this distant splendor, farfrom dissipating his night, only rendered it more gloomy and black. Allthese laws, prejudices, facts, men, and things, came and went abovehim, in accordance with the complicated and mysterious movement whichGod imprints on civilization, marching over him, and crushing him withsomething painful in its cruelty and inexorable in its indifférence.Souls which have fallen into the abyss of possible misfortune, haplessmen lost in the depths of those limbos into which people no longerlook, and the reprobates of the law, feel on their heads the wholeweight of the human society which is so formidable for those outsideit, so terrific for those beneath it.

In this situation, Jean Valjean thought, and what could be the natureof his reverie? If the grain of corn had its thoughts, when ground bythe mill-stone, it would doubtless think as did Jean Valjean. All thesethings, realities full of spectres, phantasmagorias full of reality,ended by creating for him a sort of internal condition which is almostinexpressible. At times, in the midst of his galley-slave toil, hestopped and began thinking; his reason, at once riper and more troubledthan of yore, revolted. All that had happened appeared to him absurd;all that surrounded him seemed to him impossible. He said to himselfthat it was a dream; he looked at the overseer standing a few yardsfrom him, and he appeared to him a phantom, until the phantom suddenlydealt him a blow with a stick. Visible nature scarce existed for him;we might almost say with truth, that for Jean Valjean there was nosun, no glorious summer-day, no brilliant sky, no fresh April dawn; wecannot describe the gloomy light which illumined his soul.

In conclusion, to sum up all that can be summed up in what we haveindicated, we will confine ourselves to establishing the fact thatin nineteen years, Jean Valjean, the inoffensive wood-cutter ofFaverolles, and the formidable galley-slave of Toulon, had become,thanks to the manner in which the bagne had fashioned him, capableof two sorts of bad actions: first, a rapid, unreflecting bad deed,entirely instinctive, and a species of reprisal for the evil he hadsuffered; and, secondly, of a grave, serious evil deed, discussedconscientiously and meditated with the false ideas which such amisfortune can produce. His premeditations passed through the threesuccessive phases which natures of a certain temperament can aloneundergo,—reasoning, will, and obstinacy. He had for his motiveshabitual indignation, bitterness of soul, the profound feeling ofiniquities endured, and reaction even against the good, the innocent,and the just, if such exist. The starting-point, like the goal, of allhis thoughts, was hatred of human law; that hatred, which, if it benot arrested in its development by some providential incident, becomeswithin a given time a hatred of society, then a hatred of the humanrace, next a hatred of creation, and which is expressed by a vague,incessant, and brutal desire to injure some one, no matter whom. As wesee, it was not unfairly that the passport described Jean Valjean as ahighly dangerous man. Year by year this soul had become more and morewithered, slowly but fatally. A dry soul must have a dry eye, and onleaving the bagne, nineteen years had elapsed since he had shed a tear.



Man overboard!

What of it? The ship does not stop. The wind is blowing, and this darkship has a course which she must keep. She goes right on.

The man disappears, then appears again. He goes down and again comes upto the surface; he shouts, he holds up his arms, but they do not hearhim. The ship, shivering under the storm, has all she can do to takecare of herself. The sailors and the passengers can no longer even seethe drowning man; his luckless head is only a speck in the vastness ofthe waves.

His cries of despair sound through the depths. What a phantom thatis,—that sail, fast disappearing from view! He gazes after it; hiseyes are fixed upon it with frenzy. It is disappearing, it is fadingfrom sight, it is growing smaller and smaller. Only just now he wasthere; he was one of the crew; he was going and coming on the deck withthe rest; he had his share of air and sun; he was a living man. What,then, has happened? He has slipped, he has fallen; it is all over withhim.

He is in the huge waves. There is nothing now under his feet butdeath and sinking. The fearful waves, torn and frayed by the wind,surround him; the swells of the abyss sweep him along; all the crestsof the waves are blown about his head; a crowd of waves spit upon him;uncertain gulfs half swallow him; every time he plunges down he catchesa glimpse of precipices black as night; frightful, unknown seaweedsseize him, tie his feet, drag him down to them. He feels that he isbecoming a part of the abyss, of the foam; the waves throw him fromone to another; he tastes the bitterness; the cowardly ocean has givenitself up to drowning him; the vastness sports with his agony. All thiswater seems to be hate.

Still he struggles.

He tries to save himself, to keep himself up; he strikes out, he swims.He, this pitiful force, at once exhausted, is matched against theinexhaustible.

Where is the ship now? Way down there, barely visible in the paleobscurity of the horizon. The squalls hum about him, the wave-crestswash over him. He raises his eyes, and sees only the lividness of theclouds. In his death struggle he takes part in the madness of thesea. He is tortured by this madness. He hears sounds, strange to man,which seem to come from beyond the earth, and from some terrible worldoutside.

There are birds in the clouds, just as there are angels above humangriefs, but what can they do for him? There is one, flying, singing,and hovering, while he has the death-rattle in his throat.

He feels himself buried at the same time by these two Infinites, theocean and the heavens; the one a tomb, the other a shroud.

Night falls; he has been swimming now for hours; his strength hasreached its end; this ship, this far-off thing where there were men, isblotted from his sight; he is alone in the fearful gulf of twilight;he sinks, he braces himself, he writhes, he feels below him the rovingmonsters of the invisible. He cries aloud.

"There are no longer any men here." "Where is God?"

He calls "Somebody!" "Somebody!" He keeps on calling.

Nothing on the horizon; nothing in heaven.

He implores the waste of waters, the wave, the seaweed, the rock; it isdeaf. He supplicates the tempest; the pitiless tempest obeys only theInfinite.

Around him is darkness, mist, solitude, the stormy and unreasoningtumult, the boundless rolling of the wild waters. In him is horror andweariness. Under him the abyss. There is nothing to rest on. He thinksof what will happen to his body in the boundless shades. The infinitecold benumbs him. His hands shrivel; they clutch and find nothing.Winds, clouds, whirlwinds, puffs, useless stars. What is he to do? Indespair, he gives up. Worn out as he is, he makes up his mind to die,he abandons himself, he lets himself go, he relaxes himself, and therehe is rolling forever into the dismal depths in which he is swallowedup.

Oh, implacable course of human society! What a loss of men and of soulson the way! Ocean into which falls all that the law lets fall. Wickedvanishing of help! Oh, moral death!

The sea is the pitiless social night into which the penal law thrustsits condemned; the sea is boundless wretchedness.

The soul, swept with the stream into this gulf, may be drowned. Whowill bring it to life again?



When the hour for quitting the bagne arrived, when Jean Valjean heardin his ear the unfamiliar words "You are free," the moment seemedimprobable and extraordinary, and a ray of bright light, of thelight of the living, penetrated to him; but it soon grew pale. JeanValjean had been dazzled by the idea of liberty, and had believed ina new life, but he soon saw that it is a liberty to which a yellowpassport is granted. And around this there was much bitterness; he hadcalculated that his earnings, during his stay at the bagne, shouldhave amounted to 171 francs. We are bound to add that he had omittedto take into his calculations the forced rest of Sundays and holidays,which, during nineteen years, entailed a diminution of about 24 francs.However this might be, the sum was reduced, through various localstoppages, to 109 francs, 15 sous, which were paid to him when he leftthe bagne. He did not understand it all, and fancied that he had beenrobbed.

On the day after his liberation, he saw at Grasse men in front of adistillery of orange-flower water,—men unloading bales; he offeredhis services, and as the work was of a pressing nature, they wereaccepted. He set to work; he was intelligent, powerful, and skilful,and his master appeared satisfied. While he was at work a gendarmepassed, noticed him, asked for his paper, and he was compelled toshow his yellow pass. This done, Jean Valjean resumed his toil. Alittle while previously he had asked one of the workmen what he earnedfor his day's work, and the answer was 30 sous. At night, as he wascompelled to start again the next morning, he went to the master ofthe distillery and asked for payment; the master did not say a word,but gave him 15 sous, and when he protested, the answer was, "That isenough for you." He became pressing, the master looked him in the faceand said, "Mind you don't get into prison."

Here again he regarded himself as robbed; society, the state, bydiminishing his earnings, had robbed him wholesale; now it was theturn of the individual to commit retail robbery. Liberation is notdeliverance; a man may leave the bagne, but not condemnation. We haveseen what happened to him at Grasse, and we know how he was treated atD——.



As two o'clock pealed from the cathedral bell, Jean Valjean awoke. Whataroused him was that the bed was too comfortable, for close on twentyyears he had not slept in a bed, and though he had not undressed, thesensation was too novel not to disturb his sleep. He had been asleepfor more than four hours, and his weariness had worn off; and he wasaccustomed not to grant many hours to repose. He opened his eyes andlooked into the surrounding darkness, and then he closed them againto go to sleep once more. When many diverse sensations have agitateda day, and when matters preoccupy the mind, a man may sleep, but hecannot go to sleep again. Sleep comes more easily than it returns, andthis happened to Jean Valjean. As he could not go to sleep again, hebegan thinking.

It was one of those moments in which the ideas that occupy the mind aretroubled, and there was a species of obscure oscillation in his brain.His old recollections and immediate recollections crossed each other,and floated confusedly, losing their shape, growing enormously, andthen disappearing suddenly, as if in troubled and muddy water. Manythoughts occurred to him, but there was one which constantly revertedand expelled all the rest. This thought we will at once describe; hehad noticed the six silver forks and spoons and the great ladle whichMadame Magloire put on the table. This plate overwhelmed him; it wasthere, a few yards from him. When he crossed the adjoining room toreach the one in which he now was, the old servant was putting itin a small cupboard at the bed-head,—he had carefully noticed thiscupboard; it was on the right as you came in from the dining-room. Theplate was heavy and old, the big soup-ladle was worth at least 200francs, or double what he had earned in nineteen years, though it wastrue that he would have earned more had not the officials robbed him.

His mind oscillated for a good hour, in these fluctuations with whicha struggle was most assuredly blended. When three o'clock struck heopened his eyes, suddenly sat up, stretched out his arms, and felt forhis knapsack which he had thrown into a corner of the alcove, then lethis legs hang, and felt himself seated on the bed-side almost withoutknowing how. He remained for a while thoughtfully in this attitude,which would have had something sinister about it, for any one who hadseen him, the only wakeful person in the house. All at once he stooped,took off his shoes, then resumed his thoughtful posture, and remainedmotionless. In the midst of this hideous meditation, the ideas whichwe have indicated incessantly crossed his brain, entered, went out,returned, and weighed upon him; and then he thought, without knowingwhy, and with the mechanical obstinacy of reverie, of a convict he hadknown at the bagne, of the name of Brevet, whose trousers were onlyheld up by a single knitted brace. The draught-board design of thatbrace incessantly returned to his mind. He remained in this situation,and would have probably remained so till sunrise, had not the clockstruck the quarter or the half-hour. It seemed as if this stroke saidto him, To work! He rose, hesitated for a moment and listened; all wassilent in the house, and he went on tip-toe to the window, throughwhich he peered. The night was not very dark; there was a full moon,across which heavy clouds were chased by the wind. This producedalternations of light and shade, and a species of twilight in the room;this twilight, sufficient to guide him, but intermittent in consequenceof the clouds, resembled that livid hue produced by the grating ofa cellar over which people are continually passing. On reaching thewindow, Jean Valjean examined it; it was without bars, looked on thegarden, and was only closed, according to the fashion of the country,by a small peg. He opened it, but as a cold sharp breeze suddenlyentered the room, he closed it again directly. He gazed into the gardenwith that attentive glance which studies rather than looks, and foundthat it was enclosed by a white-washed wall, easy to climb over. Beyondit he noticed the tops of trees standing at regular distances, whichproved that this wall separated the garden from a public walk.

After taking this glance, he walked boldly to the alcove, opened hisknapsack, took out something which he laid on the bed, put his shoesin one of the pouches, placed the knapsack on his shoulders, put onhis cap, the peak of which he pulled over his eyes, groped for hisstick, which he placed in the window nook, and then returned to thebed, and took up the object he had laid on it. It resembled a shortiron bar, sharpened at one of its ends. It would have been difficultto distinguish in the darkness for what purpose this piece of ironhad been fashioned; perhaps it was a lever, perhaps it was a club.By daylight it could have been seen that it was nothing but a minerscandlestick. The convicts at that day were sometimes employed inextracting rock from the lofty hills that surround Toulon, and it wasnot infrequent for them to have mining tools at their disposal. Theminer's candlesticks are made of massive steel, and have a point atthe lower end, by which they are dug into the rock. He took the bar inhis right hand, and holding his breath and deadening his footsteps hewalked towards the door of the adjoining room, the Bishop's as we know.On reaching this door he found it ajar—the Bishop had not shut it.



Jean Valjean listened, but there was not a sound; he pushed the doorwith the tip of his finger lightly, and with the furtive restlessgentleness of a cat that wants to get in. The door yielded to thepressure, and made an almost imperceptible and silent movement, whichslightly widened the opening. He waited for a moment, and then pushedthe door again more boldly. It continued to yield silently, and theopening was soon large enough for him to pass through. But there wasnear the door a small table which formed an awkward angle with it, andbarred the entrance.

Jean Valjean noticed the difficulty: the opening must be increased atall hazards. He made up his mind, and pushed the door a third time,more energetically still. This time there was a badly-oiled hinge,which suddenly uttered a hoarse prolonged cry in the darkness. JeanValjean started; the sound of the hinge smote his ear startlingly andformidably, as if it had been the trumpet of the day of judgment. Inthe fantastic exaggerations of the first minute, he almost imaginedthat this hinge had become animated, and suddenly obtained a terriblevitality and barked like a dog to warn and awaken the sleepers. Hestopped, shuddering and dismayed, and fell back from tip-toes on hisheels. He felt the arteries in his temples beat like two forge hammers,and it seemed to him that his breath issued from his lungs with thenoise of the wind roaring out of a cavern. He fancied that the horribleclamor of this irritated hinge must have startled the whole house likethe shock of an earthquake; the door he opened had been alarmed andcried for help; the old man would rise, the two aged females wouldshriek, and assistance would arrive within a quarter of an hour, thetown would be astir, and the gendarmerie turned out. For a moment hebelieved himself lost.

He remained where he was, petrified like the pillar of salt, and notdaring to make a movement. A few minutes passed, during which the doorremained wide open. He ventured to look into the room, and found thatnothing had stirred. He listened; no one was moving in the house, thecreaking of the rusty hinge had not awakened any one. The first dangerhad passed, but still there was fearful tumult within him. But he didnot recoil, he had not done so even when he thought himself lost; heonly thought of finishing the job as speedily as possible, and enteredthe bed-room. The room was in a state of perfect calmness; here andthere might be distinguished confused and vague forms, which by daywere papers scattered over the table, open folios, books piled on asofa, an easy-chair covered with clothes, and a priedieu, all of whichwere at this moment only dark nooks and patches of white. Jean Valjeanadvanced cautiously and carefully, and avoided coming into collisionwith the furniture. He heard from the end of the room the calm andregular breathing of the sleeping Bishop. Suddenly he stopped, for hewas close to the bed; he had reached it sooner than he anticipated.

Nature at times blends her effects and scenes with our actions, witha species of gloomy and intelligent design, as if wishing to make usreflect. For nearly half an hour a heavy cloud had covered the sky,but at the moment when Jean Valjean stopped at the foot of the bed,this cloud was rent asunder as if expressly, and a moonbeam passingthrough the tall window suddenly illumined the Bishop's pale face.He was sleeping peacefully, and was wrapped up in a long garment ofbrown wool, which covered his arms down to the wrists. His head wasthrown back on the pillow in the easy attitude of repose, and his hand,adorned with the pastoral ring, and which had done so many good deeds,hung out of bed. His entire face was lit up by a vague expression ofsatisfaction, hope, and beatitude—it was more than a smile and almosta radiance. He had on his forehead the inexpressible reflection of aninvisible light, for the soul of a just man contemplates a mysteriousheaven during sleep. A reflection of this heaven was cast over theBishop, but it was at the same time a luminous transparency, for theheaven was within him, and was conscience.

At the moment when the moonbeam was cast over this internal light,the sleeping Bishop seemed to be surrounded by a glory, which wasveiled, however, by an ineffable semi-light. The moon in the heavens,the slumbering landscape, the quiet house, the hour, the silence,the moment, added something solemn and indescribable to this man'svenerable repose, and cast a majestic and serene halo round his whitehair and closed eyes, his face in which all was hope and confidence,his aged head, and his infantine slumbers. There was almost a divinityin this unconsciously august man. Jean Valjean was standing in theshadow with his crow-bar in his hand, motionless and terrified by thisluminous old man. He had never seen anything like this before, and suchconfidence horrified him. The moral world has no greater spectaclethan this,—a troubled, restless conscience, which is on the point ofcommitting a bad action, contemplating the sleep of a just man.

This sleep in such isolation, and with a neighbor like himself,possessed a species of sublimity which he felt vaguely, butimperiously. No one could have said what was going on within him, noteven himself. In order to form any idea of it we must imagine what isthe most violent in the presence of what is gentlest. Even in his facenothing could have been distinguished with certainty, for it displayeda sort of haggard astonishment. He looked at the Bishop, that was all,but what his thoughts were it would be impossible to divine; what wasevident was, that he was moved and shaken, but of what nature was thisemotion? His eye was not once removed from the old man, and the onlything clearly revealed by his attitude and countenance was a strangeindecision. It seemed as if he were hesitating between two abysses,the one that saves and the one that destroys; he was ready to dashout the Bishop's brains or kiss his hand. At the expiration of a fewminutes his left arm slowly rose to his cap, which he took off; thenhis arm fell again with the same slowness, and Jean Valjean recommencedhis contemplation, with his cap in his left hand, his crow-bar in hisright, and his hair standing erect on his savage head.

The Bishop continued to sleep peacefully beneath this terrific glance.A moonbeam rendered the crucifix over the mantel-piece dimly visible,which seemed to open its arms for both, with a blessing for one and apardon for the other. All at once Jean Valjean put on his cap again,then walked rapidly along the bed, without looking at the Bishop, andwent straight to the cupboard. He raised his crow-bar to force thelock, but as the key was in it, he opened it, and the first thing hesaw was the plate-basket, which he seized. He hurried across the room,not caring for the noise he made, re-entered the oratory, opened thewindow, seized his stick, put the silver in his pocket, threw away thebasket, leaped into the garden, bounded over the wall like a tiger, andfled.



The next morning at sunrise Monseigneur Welcome was walking about thegarden, when Madame Magloire came running toward him in a state ofgreat alarm.

"Monseigneur, Monseigneur!" she screamed, "does your Grandeur knowwhere the plate-basket is?"

"Yes," said the Bishop.

"The Lord be praised," she continued; "I did not know what had becomeof it."

The Bishop had just picked up the basket in a flower-bed, and nowhanded it to Madame Magloire. "Here it is," he said.

"Well!" she said, "there is nothing in it; where is the plate?"

"Ah!" the Bishop replied, "it is the plate that troubles your mind.Well, I do not know where that is."

"Good Lord! it is stolen, and that man who came last night is therobber."

In a twinkling Madame Magloire had run to the oratory, entered thealcove, and returned to the Bishop. He was stooping down and lookingsorrowfully at a cochlearia, whose stem the basket had broken. Heraised himself on hearing Madame Magloire scream,—

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

While uttering this exclamation her eyes fell on a corner of thegarden, where there were signs of climbing; the coping of the wall hadbeen torn away.

"That is the way he went! He leaped into Cochefilet lane. Oh, what anoutrage! He has stolen our plate."

The Bishop remained silent for a moment, then raised his earnest eyes,and said gently to Madame Magloire,—

"By the way, was that plate ours?"

Madame Magloire was speechless; there was another interval of silence,after which the Bishop continued,—

"Madame Magloire, I had wrongfully held back this silver, whichbelonged to the poor. Who was this person? Evidently a poor man."

"Good gracious!" Madame Magloire continued; "I do not care for it,nor does Mademoiselle, but we feel for Monseigneur. With what willMonseigneur eat now?"

The Bishop looked at her in amazement. "Why, are there not pewter forksto be had?"

Madame Magloire shrugged her shoulders. "Pewter smells!"

"Then iron!"

Madame Magloire made an expressive grimace. "Iron tastes."

"Well, then," said the Bishop, "wood!"

A few minutes later he was breakfasting at the same table at which JeanValjean sat on the previous evening. While breakfasting MonseigneurWelcome gayly remarked to his sister, who said nothing, and to MadameMagloire, who growled in a low voice, that spoon and fork, even ofwood, are not required to dip a piece of bread in a cup of milk.

"What an idea!" Madame Magloire said, as she went backwards andforwards, "to receive a man like that, and lodge him by one's side. Andwhat a blessing it is that he only stole! Oh, Lord! the mere thoughtmakes a body shudder."

As the brother and sister were leaving the table there was a knock atthe door.

"Come in," said the Bishop.

The door opened, and a strange and violent group appeared on thethreshold. Three men were holding a fourth by the collar. The three menwere gendarmes, the fourth was Jean Valjean. A corporal, who apparentlycommanded the party, came in and walked up to the Bishop with amilitary salute.

"Monseigneur," he said.

At this word Jean Valjean, who was gloomy and crushed, raised his headwith a stupefied air.

"'Monseigneur,'" he muttered; "then he is not the Curé."

"Silence!" said a gendarme. "This gentleman is Monseigneur the Bishop."

In the mean while Monseigneur Welcome had advanced as rapidly as hisgreat age permitted.

"Ah! there you are," he said, looking at Jean Valjean. "I am glad tosee you. Why, I gave you the candlesticks too, which are also silver,and will fetch you 200 francs. Why did you not take them away with therest of the plate?"

Jean Valjean opened his eyes, and looked at the Bishop with anexpression which no human language could render.

"Monseigneur," the corporal said; "what this man told us was true then?We met him, and as he looked as if he were running away, we arrestedhim. He had this plate—"

"And he told you," the Bishop interrupted, with a smile, "that it wasgiven to him by an old priest at whose house he passed the night? I seeit all. And you brought him back here? That is a mistake."

"In that case," the corporal continued, "we can let him go?"

"Of course," the Bishop answered.

The gendarmes loosed their hold of Jean Valjean, who tottered back.

"Is it true that I am at liberty?" he said, in an almost inarticulatevoice, and as if speaking in his sleep.

"Yes, you are let go; don't you understand?" said a gendarme.

"My friend," the Bishop continued, "before you go take yourcandlesticks."

He went to the mantel-piece, fetched the two candlesticks, and handedthem to Jean Valjean. The two females watched him do so without aword, without a sign, without a look that could disturb the Bishop.Jean Valjean was trembling in all his limbs; he took the candlesticksmechanically, and with wandering looks.

"Now," said the Bishop, "go in peace. By the bye, when you return,my friend, it is unnecessary to pass through the garden, for you canalways enter, day and night, by the front door, which is only latched."

Then, turning to the gendarmes, he said,—

"Gentlemen, you can retire."

They did so. Jean Valjean looked as if he were on the point offainting; the Bishop walked up to him, and said in a low voice,—

"Never forget that you have promised me to employ this money inbecoming an honest man."

Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of having promised anything,stood silent. The Bishop, who had laid a stress on these words,continued solemnly,—

"Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. Ihave bought your soul of you. I withdraw it from black thoughts and thespirit of perdition, and give it to God."



Jean Valjean left the town as if running away; he walked hastilyacross the fields, taking the roads and paths that offered themselves,without perceiving that he was going round and round. He wandered thusthe entire morning, and though he had eaten nothing, he did not feelhungry. He was attacked by a multitude of novel sensations; he felt asort of passion, but he did not know with whom. He could not have saidwhether he was affected or humiliated; at times a strange softeningcame over him, against which he strove, and to which he opposed thehardening of the last twenty years. This condition offended him, andhe saw with alarm that the species of frightful calmness, which theinjustice of his misfortune had produced, was shaken within him.He asked himself what would take its place; at times he would havepreferred being in prison and with the gendarmes, and that things hadnot happened thus; for that would have agitated him less. Although theseason was advanced, there were still here and there in the hedges afew laggard flowers, whose smell recalled childhood's memories as hepassed them. These recollections were almost unendurable, for it was solong since they had recurred to him.

Indescribable thoughts were thus congregated within him the whole daythrough. When the sun was setting, and lengthening on the ground theshadow of the smallest pebble, Jean Valjean was sitting behind a bushin a large tawny and utterly-deserted plain. There were only the Alpson the horizon, there was not even the steeple of a distant village.Jean Valjean might be about three leagues from D——, and a path thatcrossed the plain ran a few paces from the bushes. In the midst of thismeditation, which would have contributed no little in rendering hisrags startling to any one who saw him, he heard a sound of mirth. Heturned his head and saw a little Savoyard about ten years of age comingalong the path, with his hurdy-gurdy at his side and his dormouse-boxon his back. He was one of those gentle, merry lads who go about fromplace to place, displaying their knees through the holes in theirtrousers.

While singing the lad stopped every now and then to play at pitchand toss with some coins he held in his hand, which were probablyhis entire fortune. Among these coins was a two-franc piece. The ladstopped by the side of the bushes without seeing Jean Valjean, andthrew up the handful of sous, all of which he had hitherto alwayscaught on the back of his hand. This time the two-franc piece fell, androlled up to Jean Valjean, who placed his foot upon it. But the boy hadlooked after the coin, and seen him do it; he did not seem surprised,but walked straight up to the man. It was an utterly deserted spot;as far as eye could extend there was no one on the plain or the path.Nothing was audible, save the faint cries of a swarm of birds ofpassage passing through the sky, at an immense height. The boy had hisback turned to the sun, which wove golden threads in his hair, andsuffused Jean Valjean's face with a purpled, blood-red hue.

"Sir," the little Savoyard said, with that childish confidence which iscomposed of ignorance and innocence, "my coin?"

"What is your name?" Jean Valjean said.

"Little Gervais, sir."

"Be off," said Jean Valjean.

"Give me my coin, if you please, sir."

Jean Valjean hung his head, but said nothing.

The boy began again,—

"My two-franc piece, sir."

Jean Valjean's eye remained fixed on the ground.

"My coin," the boy cried, "my silver piece, my money."

It seemed as if Jean Valjean did not hear him, for the boy seized thecollar of his blouse and shook him, and at the same time made an effortto remove the iron-shod shoe placed on his coin.

"I want my money, my forty-sous piece."

The boy began crying, and Jean Valjean raised his head. He was stillsitting on the ground, and his eyes were misty. He looked at the ladwith a sort of amazement, then stretched forth his hand to his stick,and shouted in a terrible voice, "Who is there?"

"I, sir," the boy replied. "Little Gervais; give me back my two francs,if you please. Take away your foot, sir, if you please." Then he grewirritated, though so little, and almost threatening.

"Come, will you lift your foot? Lift it, I say!"

"Ah, it is you still," said Jean Valjean, and springing up, with hisfoot still held on the coin, he added, "Will you be off or not?"

The startled boy looked at him, then began trembling from head to foot,and after a few moments of stupor ran off at full speed, without daringto look back or utter a cry. Still, when he had got a certain distance,want of breath forced him to stop, and Jean Valjean could hear himsobbing. In a few minutes the boy had disappeared. The sun had set, anddarkness collected around Jean Valjean. He had eaten nothing all day,and was probably in a fever. He had remained standing and not changedhis attitude since the boy ran off. His breath heaved his chest at longand unequal intervals, his eye, fixed ten or twelve yards ahead, seemedto be studying with profound attention the shape of an old fragment ofblue earthenware which had fallen in the grass. Suddenly he started,for he felt the night chill; he pulled his cap over his forehead,mechanically tried to cross and button his blouse, made a step, andstooped to pick up his stick.

At this moment he perceived the two-franc piece, which his foot hadhalf buried in the turf, and which glistened among the pebbles. It hadthe effect of a galvanic shock upon him. "What is this?" he muttered.He fell back three paces, then stopped, unable to take his eye from thespot his foot had trodden a moment before, as if the thing glisteningthere in the darkness had an open eye fixed upon him. In a few momentshe dashed convulsively at the coin, picked it up, and began looking outinto the plain, while shuddering like a straying wild beast which isseeking shelter.

He saw nothing, night was falling, the plain was cold and indistinct,and heavy purple mists rose in the twilight. He set out rapidly in acertain direction, the one in which the lad had gone. After going somethirty yards he stopped, looked and saw nothing; then he shouted withall his strength, "little Gervais, Little Gervais!" He was silent, andwaited, but there was no response. The country was deserted and gloomy,and he was surrounded by space. There was nothing but a gloom in whichhis gaze was lost, and a stillness in which his voice was lost. An icybreeze was blowing, and imparted to things around a sort of mournfullife. The bushes shook their little thin arms with incredible fury;they seemed to be threatening and pursuing some one.

He walked onwards and then began running, but from time to time hestopped, and shouted in the solitude with a voice the most formidableand agonizing that can be imagined: "Little Gervais, Little Gervais!"Assuredly, if the boy had heard him, he would have felt frightened, andnot have shown himself; but the lad was doubtless a long way off bythis time. The convict met a priest on horseback, to whom he went upand said,—

"Monsieur le Curé, have you seen a lad pass?"

"No," the priest replied.

"A lad of the name of 'Little Gervais?'"

"I have seen nobody."

The convict took two five-franc pieces from his pouch and handed themto the Priest.

"Monsieur le Curé, this is for your poor. He was a boy of about tenyears of age, with a dormouse, I think, and a hurdy-gurdy,—a Savoyard,you know."

"I did not see him."

"Can you tell me if there is any one of the name of Little Gervais inthe villages about here?"

"If it is as you say, my good fellow, the lad is a stranger. Many ofthem pass this way."

Jean Valjean violently took out two other five-franc pieces, which hegave the priest.

"For your poor," he said; then added wildly, "Monsieur l'Abbé, have mearrested: I am a robber."

The priest urged on his horse, and rode away in great alarm, whileJean Valjean set off running in the direction he had first taken. Hewent on for a long distance, looking, calling, and shouting, but hemet no one else. Twice or thrice he ran across the plain to somethingthat appeared to him to be a person lying or sitting down; but he onlyfound heather, or rocks level with the ground. At last he stopped ata spot where three paths met; the moon had risen; he gazed afar, andcalled out for the last time, "Little Gervais, Little Gervais, LittleGervais!" His shout died away in the mist, without even awakeningan echo. He muttered again, "Little Gervais," in a weak and almostinarticulate voice, but it was his last effort. His knees suddenly gaveway under him as if an invisible power were crushing him beneath theweight of a bad conscience. He fell exhausted on a large stone, withhis hand tearing his hair, his face between his knees, and shrieked: "Iam a scoundrel!" Then his heart melted, and he began to weep; it wasthe first time for nineteen years.

When Jean Valjean quitted the Bishop's house he was lifted out of hisformer thoughts, and could not account for what was going on withinhim. He stiffened himself against the angelic deeds and gentle words ofthe old man: "You have promised me to become an honest man. I purchaseyour soul; I withdraw it from the spirit of perverseness and give itto God." This incessantly recurred to him, and he opposed to thiscelestial indulgence that pride which is within us as the fortressof evil. He felt indistinctly that this priest's forgiveness was thegreatest and most formidable assault by which he had yet been shaken;that his hardening would be permanent if he resisted this clemency;that if he yielded he must renounce that hatred with which the actionsof other men had filled his soul during so many years, and whichpleased him; that this time he must either conquer or be vanquished,and that the struggle, a colossal and final struggle, had begun betweenhis wickedness and that man's goodness.

In the presence of all these gleams he walked on like a drunken man.While he went on thus with haggard eye, had he any distinct perceptionof what the result of his adventure at D—— might be? Did he hear allthat mysterious buzzing which warns or disturbs the mind at certainmoments of life? Did a voice whisper in his ear that he had just gonethrough the solemn hour of his destiny, that no middle way was now lefthim, and that if he were not henceforth the best of men he would be theworst; that he must now ascend higher than the bishop, or sink lowerthan the galley-slave; that if he wished to be good he must become anangel, and if he wished to remain wicked that he must become a monster?

Here we must ask again the question we previously asked, Did heconfusedly receive any shadow of all this into his mind? Assuredly,as we said, misfortune educates the intellect, still it is doubtfulwhether Jean Valjean was in a state to draw the conclusions we haveformed. If these ideas reached him, he had a glimpse of them ratherthan saw them, and they only succeeded in throwing him into anindescribable and almost painful trouble. On leaving that shapelessblack thing which is called the bagne the Bishop had hurt his soul,in the same way as a too brilliant light would have hurt his eyes oncoming out of darkness. The future life, the possible life, whichpresented itself to him, all pure and radiant, filled him with tremorand anxiety, and he really no longer knew how matters were. Like an owlthat suddenly witnessed a sunrise the convict had been dazzled and, asit were, blinded by virtue.

One thing which he did not suspect is certain, however, that he was nolonger the same man; all was changed in him, and it was no longer inhis power to get rid of the fact that the Bishop had spoken to him andtaken his hand. While in this mental condition he met Little Gervais,and robbed him of his two francs: why did he so? Assuredly he could notexplain it. Was it a final, and as it were supreme, effort of the evilthought he had brought from the bagne, a remainder of impulse, a resultof what is called in Statics "acquired force"? It was so, and wasperhaps also even less than that. Let us say it simply, it was not hewho robbed, it was not the man, but the brute beast that through habitand instinct stupidly placed its foot on the coin, while the intellectwas struggling with such novel and extraordinary sensations. When theintellect woke again and saw this brutish action, Jean Valjean recoiledwith agony and uttered a cry of horror. It was a curious phenomenon,and one only possible in his situation, that, in robbing the boy ofthat money, he committed a deed of which he was no longer capable.

However this may be, this last bad action had a decisive effect uponhim: it suddenly darted through the chaos which filled his mind anddissipated it, placed on one side the dark mists, on the other thelight, and acted on his soul, in its present condition, as certainchemical re-agents act upon a troubled mixture, by precipitatingone element and clarifying another. At first, before even examininghimself or reflecting, he wildly strove to find the boy again andreturn him his money; then, when he perceived that this was useless andimpossible, he stopped in despair. At the moment when he exclaimed, "Iam a scoundrel!" he had seen himself as he really was, and was alreadyso separated from himself that he fancied himself merely a phantom, andthat he had there before him, in flesh and blood, his blouse fastenedround his hips, his knapsack full of stolen objects on his back, withhis resolute and gloomy face and his mind full of hideous schemes, thefrightful galley-slave, Jean Valjean.

As we have remarked, excessive misfortune had made him to some extenta visionary, and this therefore was a species of vision. He really sawthat Jean Valjean with his sinister face before him, and almost askedhimself who this man who so horrified him was. His brain was in thatviolent and yet frightfully calm stage when the reverie is so deep thatit absorbs reality. He contemplated himself, so to speak, face to face,and at the same time he saw through this hallucination a species oflight which he at first took for a torch. On looking more attentivelyat this light which appeared to his conscience, he perceived that ithad a human shape and was the Bishop. His conscience examined in turnthe two men standing before him, the Bishop and Jean Valjean. By oneof those singular effects peculiar to an ecstasy of this nature, themore his reverie was prolonged, the taller and more brilliant theBishop appeared, while Jean Valjean grew less and faded out of sight.At length he disappeared and the Bishop alone remained, who filled thewretched man's soul with a magnificent radiance.

Jean Valjean wept for a long time, and sobbed with more weakness than awoman, more terror than a child. While he wept the light grew brighterin his brain,—an extraordinary light, at once ravishing and terrible.His past life, his first fault, his long expiation, his externalbrutalization, his internal hardening, his liberation, accompanied byso many plans of vengeance, what had happened at the Bishop's, the lastthing he had done, the robbery of the boy, a crime the more cowardlyand monstrous because it took place after the Bishop's forgiveness,—all this recurred to him, but in a light which he had never beforeseen. He looked at his life, and it appeared to him horrible; at hissoul, and it appeared to him frightful. Still a soft light was shedover both, and he fancied that he saw Satan by the light of Paradise.

How many hours did he weep thus? what did he do afterwards? whitherdid he go? No one ever knew. It was stated, however, that on this verynight the mail carrier from Grenoble, who arrived at D—— at aboutthree o'clock in the morning, while passing through the street wherethe Bishop's Palace stood, saw a man kneeling on the pavement in theattitude of prayer in front of Monseigneur Welcome's door.




THE YEAR 1817.

1817 is the year which Louis XVIII., with a certain royal coolnesswhich was not deficient in pride, entitled the twenty-second of hisreign. It is the year in which M. Bruguière de Sorsum was celebrated.All the wig-makers' shops, hoping for powder and the return of theroyal bird, were covered with azure and fleurs de lys. It was thecandid time when Count Lynch sat every Sunday as churchwarden at St.Germain-des-Près in the coat of a peer of France, with his red ribbon,his long nose, and that majestic profile peculiar to a man who has donea brilliant deed. The brilliant deed done by M. Lynch was having, whenMayor of Bordeaux, surrendered the town rather prematurely on March12, 1814, to the Duc d'Angoulême; hence his peerage. In 1817 fashionburied little boys of the age of six and seven beneath vast moroccoleather caps with earflaps, much resembling Esquimaux fur-bonnets. TheFrench army was dressed in white, like the Austrian; the regimentswere called Legions, and bore the names of the departments instead ofnumbers. Napoleon was at St Helena, and as England refused him greencloth he had his old coats turned. In 1817 Pellegrini sang, and Mlle.Bigottini danced, Potier reigned, and Odry was not as yet. Madame Saquisucceeded Forioso. There were still Prussians in France. M. Delalotwas a personage. Legitimacy had just strengthened itself by cuttingoff the hand and then the head of Pleignier, Carbonneau, and Tolleron.Prince de Talleyrand, Lord High Chamberlain, and the Abbé Louis,Minister Designate of Finance, looked at each other with the laughof two augurs. Both had celebrated on July 14, 1790, the Mass of theconfederation in the Champ de Mars. Talleyrand had read it as bishop,Louis had served it as deacon. In 1817, in the side walks of the sameChamp de Mars, could be seen large wooden cylinders, lying in the wetand rotting in the grass, painted blue, with traces of eagles and beeswhich had lost their gilding. These were the columns which two yearspreviously supported the Emperor's balcony at the Champ de Mai. Theywere partly blackened by the bivouac fires of the Austrians encampednear Gros Caillou, and two or three of the columns had disappeared inthe bivouac fires, and warmed the coarse hands of the Kaiserlichs.The Champ de Mai had this remarkable thing about it, that it was heldin the month of June, and on the Champ de Mars. In this year, 1817,two things were popular,—the Voltaire Touquet and the snuff-box àla charte. The latest Parisian sensation was the crime of Dautun,who threw his brother's head into the basin on the Flower Market.People were beginning to grow anxious at the Admiralty that no newsarrived about that fatal frigate la Méduse, which was destined tocover Chaumareix with shame and Géricault with glory. Colonel Selvesproceeded to Egypt to become Soliman Pacha there. The palace of theThermes, in the Rue de la Harpe, served as a shop for a cooper. On theplatform of the octagonal tower of the Hotel de Cluny, could still beseen the little wooden house, which had served as an observatory forMessier, astronomer to the Admiralty under Louis XVI. The duch*esse deDuras was reading to three or four friends in her boudoir furnishedwith sky-blue satin X's, her unpublished romance of Ourika. The N'swere scratched off the Louvre. The Austerlitz bridge was forsworn,and called the Kings' Gardens' bridge,—a double enigma which at oncedisguised the Austerlitz bridge and the Jardin des Plantes. LouisXVIII., while annotating Horace with his nail, was troubled by heroeswho make themselves emperors and cobblers who make themselves dauphins;he had two objects of anxiety,—Napoleon and Mathurin Bruneau. TheFrench Academy offered as subject for the prize essay the happinessproduced by study. M. Billart was officially eloquent; and in hisshadow could be seen growing up that future Advocate-General de Broë,promised to the sarcasms of Paul Louis Courier. There was a falseChâteaubriand called Marchangy, while waiting till there should be afalse Marchangy, called d'Arlincourt. "Claire d'Albe" and "Malek-Adel"were master-pieces; and Madame Cottin was declared the first writer ofthe age. The Institute erased from its lists the Academician NapoleonBonaparte. A royal decree constituted Angoulême a naval school, for,as the Duc d'Angoulême was Lord High Admiral, it was evident thatthe city from which he derived his title possessed de jure all thequalifications of a seaport; if not, the monarchical principle wouldbe encroached on. In the cabinet-council the question was discussedwhether the wood-cuts representing tumblers, which seasoned Franconi'sbills and caused the street scamps to congregate, should be tolerated.M. Paër, author of l'Agnese, a square-faced man with a carbuncle on hischin, directed the private concerts of the Marchioness de Sassenayein the Rue de la Ville'd'Evêque. All the young ladies were singing,"L'ermite de Saint Avelle," words by Edmond Géraud. The Yellow Dwarfwas transformed into the Mirror. The Café Lemblin stood up for theEmperor against the Café Valois, which supported the Bourbons. TheDuc de Berry, whom Louvel was already gazing at from the darkness,had just been married to a princess of Sicily. It was a year sinceMadame de Staël had died. The Life Guards hissed Mademoiselle Mars.The large papers were all small; their size was limited, but theliberty was great. The Constitutionnel was constitutional, and theMinerva called Châteaubriand, Châteaubriant; this t made thecity laugh heartily, at the expense of the great writer. Prostitutedjournalists insulted in sold journals the proscripts of 1815. Davidhad no longer talent, Arnault wit, Carnot probity. Soult never had wona battle. It is true that Napoleon no longer had genius. Everybodyknows that it is rare for letters sent by post to reach an exile, forthe police make it a religious duty to intercept them. The fact isnot new, for Descartes when banished complained of it. David havingdisplayed some temper in a Belgian paper at not receiving letterswritten to him, this appeared very amusing to the Royalist journals,which ridiculed the proscribed man. The use of the words regicidesor voters, enemies or allies, Napoleon or Buonaparte, separated twomen more than an abyss. All persons of common sense were agreedthat the era of revolutions was eternally closed by Louis XVIII.,surnamed "the immortal author of the Charter." On the platform of thePont Neuf the word "Redivivus" was carved on the pedestal which wasawaiting the statue of Henri IV. M. Piet was excogitating at No. 4Rue Thérèse his council to consolidate the monarchy. The leaders ofthe Right said in grave complications, "Bacot must be written to."Messieurs Canuel, O'Mahony, and de Chappedelaine, were sketchingunder the covert approval of Monsieur what was destined to be at alater date "the conspiracy du Bord de l'eau." The "Black Pin" wasplotting on its side. Delaverderie was coming to an understandingwith Trogoff. M. Decazes, a rather liberally-minded man, was in theascendant. Châteaubriand, standing each morning at his No. 27 RueSaint Dominique, in trousers and slippers, with his gray hair fastenedby a handkerchief, with his eyes fixed on a mirror, and a case ofdentist's instruments open before him,—was cleaning his teeth, whichwere splendid, while dictating "the Monarchy according to the Charter"to M. Pilorge, his secretary. Authoritative critics preferred Lafonto Talma. M. de Feletz signed A; M. Hoffman signed Z. Charles Nodierwas writing "Thérèse Aubert." Divorce was abolished. The lyceums werecalled colleges. The collegians, with a gold fleur de lys on theircollar, were fighting about the King of Rome. The counter-police ofthe Château denounced to her Royal Highness Madame, the universallyexposed portrait of the Duc d'Orléans, who looked much handsomer in hisuniform of Colonel General of Hussars than the Duc de Berry did in hisuniform as Colonel General of Dragoons, which was a serious annoyance.The city of Paris was having the dome of the Invalides regilt at itsown cost. Serious-minded men asked themselves what M. de Trinquelaguewould do in such and such a case. M. Clausel de Montais diverged oncertain points from M. Clausel de Coussergues; M. de Salaberry wasnot satisfied. Picard the comedian, who belonged to the Academy ofwhich Molière was not a member, was playing the two Philiberts at theOdéon, on the façade of which could still be distinctly read: THÉÂTREDE L'IMPÉRATRICE, although the letters had been torn down. People weretaking sides for or against Cugnet de Montarlot. Fabvier was factious;Bavoux was revolutionary; Pelicier the publisher brought out an editionof Voltaire with the title "The Works of Voltaire, of the AcadémieFrançaise." "That catches purchasers," the simple publisher said. Itwas the general opinion that M. Charles Loyson would be the genius ofthe age; envy was beginning to snap at him, which is a sign of glory,and the following line was written about him.

"Même quand Loyson vole, on sent qu'il a des pattes."

As Cardinal Fesch refused to resign, M. de Pins, Archbishop of Amasia,was administering the diocese of Lyons. The quarrel about the Dappesvalley began between Switzerland and France, through a memorial ofCaptain Dufour, who has since become a general. Saint Simon, utterlyignored, was building up his sublime dream. There were in the Academyof Sciences a celebrated Fourier whom posterity has forgotten, and insome obscure garret a Fourier whom the future will remember. Lord Byronwas beginning to culminate; a note to a poem of Millevoye's announcedhim to France in these terms, "un certain Lord Baron." David d'Angerswas trying to mould marble. The Abbé Caron spoke in terms of praiseto a select audience in the Alley of the Feuillantines of an unknownpriest called Félicité Robert, who was at a later date Lamennais.A thing that smoked and plashed on the Seine with the noise of aswimming dog, went under the Tuileries windows from the Pont Royalto the Pont Louis XV.; it was a mechanism not worth much, a sort ofplaything, a reverie of a dreamy inventor, an Utopia: a steamboat.The Parisians looked at this useless thing with indifference. M. deVaublanc, reformer of the Institute by coup d'état, and distinguishedauthor of several academicians, after making them, could not succeedin becoming one himself. The Faubourg St Germain and the PavilionMarson desired to have M. Delvau as Prefect of police on account ofhis devotion. Dupuytren and Récamier quarrelled in the theatre of theSchool of Medicine, and were going to fight about the divinity of theSaviour. Cuvier, with one eye on Genesis and the other on nature, wasstriving to please the bigoted reaction by placing forms in harmonywith texts, and letting Moses be flattered by the Mastodons. M.François de Neufchâteau, the praiseworthy cultivator of the memory ofParmentier, was making a thousand efforts to have "pommes de terre"pronounced "parmentière," but did not succeed. The Abbé Grégoire,ex-bishop, ex-conventionalist, and ex-senator, had reached in the royalpolemics the state of the "infamous Grégoire," which was denounced as aneologism by M. Royer-Collard. In the third arch of the Pont de Jéna,the new stone could still be distinguished through its whiteness, withwhich two years previously the mine formed by Blucher to blow up thebridge was stopped up. Justice summoned to her bar a man who, on seeingthe Comte d'Artois enter Notre Dame, said aloud: "Sapristi! I regretthe days when I saw Napoleon and Talma enter the Bal Sauvage arm inarm," seditious remarks punished with six months' imprisonment.

Traitors displayed themselves unblushingly; some, who had passed overto the enemy on the eve of a battle, did not conceal their reward,but walked immodestly in the sunshine with the cynicism of wealth anddignities; the deserters at Ligny and Quatre Bras, well rewarded fortheir turpitude, openly displayed their monarchical devotion.

Such are a few recollections of the year 1817, which is now forgotten.History neglects nearly all these details, and cannot do otherwise,as the infinity would crush it. Still these details, wrongly calledlittle,—there are no little facts in humanity or little leaves invegetation,—are useful, for the face of ages is composed of thephysiognomy of years.

In this year 1817 four young Parisians played a capital joke.



These Parisians came, one from Toulouse, the second from Limoges, thethird from Cahors, the fourth from Montauban, but they were students,and thus Parisians; for studying in Paris is being born in Paris. Theseyoung men were insignificant, four every-day specimens, neither goodnor bad, wise nor ignorant, geniuses nor idiots, and handsome withthat charming Aprilia which is called twenty years. They were fourOscars, for at that period Arthurs did not yet exist. "Burn for him theperfumes of Arabia," the romance said; "Oscar is advancing, I am aboutto see him." People had just emerged from Ossian: the elegant worldwas Scandinavian and Caledonian, the English style was not destined toprevail till a later date, and the first of the Arthurs, Wellington,had only just won the battle of Waterloo.

The names of these Oscars were Félix Tholomyès, of Toulouse; Listolier,of Cahors; Fameuil, of Limoges; and Blachevelle, of Montauban. Ofcourse each had a mistress; Blachevelle loved Favourite, so calledbecause she had been to England; Listolier adored Dahlia, who had takenthe name of a flower for her nom de guerre; Fameuil idolized Zéphine,an abridgment of Josephine; while Tholomyès had Fantine, called theBlonde, owing to her magnificent suncolored hair. Favourite, Dahlia,Zéphine, and Fantine were four exquisitely pretty girls, still to someextent workwomen. They had not entirely laid down the needle, andthough unsettled by their amourettes, they still had in their facesa remnant of the serenity of toil, and in their souls that flower ofhonesty, which in a woman survives the first fall. One of the four wascalled the young one, because she was the youngest, and one called theold one, who was only three-and-twenty. To conceal nothing, the threefirst were more experienced, more reckless, and had flown further intothe noise of life than Fantine the Blonde, who was still occupied withher first illusion.

Dahlia, Zéphine, and especially Favourite, could not have said thesame. There was already more than one episode in their scarce-begunromance, and the lover who was called Adolphe in the first chapter,became Alphonse in the second, and Gustave in the third. Povertyand coquettishness are two fatal counsellors: one scolds, the otherflatters, and the poor girls of the lower classes have them whisperingin both ears. Badly-guarded souls listen, and hence come the falls theymake, and the stones hurled at them. They are crushed with the splendorof all that is immaculate and inaccessible. Alas! what if the Jungfrauhad hunger? Favourite, who had been to England, was admired by Zéphineand Dahlia. She had a home of her own from an early age. Her fatherwas an old brutal and boasting professor of mathematics, unmarried,and still giving lessons in spite of his age. This professor, when ayoung man, had one day seen a lady's maid's gown caught in a fender;he fell in love with this accident, and Favourite was the result. Shemet her father from time to time, and he bowed to her. One morning, anold woman with a hypocritical look came into her room and said, "Do younot know me, Miss?" "No." "I am your mother." Then the old woman openedthe cupboard, ate and drank, sent for a mattress she had, and installedherself. This mother, who was grumbling and proud, never spoke toFavourite, sat for hours without saying a word, breakfasted, dined, andsupped for half a dozen, and spent her evenings in the porter's lodge,where she abused her daughter. What drew Dahlia toward Listolier,towards others perhaps, towards idleness, was having too pretty pinknails. How could she employ such nails in working? A girl who wishes toremain virtuous must not have pity on her hands. As for Zéphine, shehad conquered Fameuil by her little saucy and coaxing way of saying"Yes, Sir." The young men were comrades, the girls friends. Such amoursare always doubled by such friendships.

A sage and a philosopher are two persons; and what proves it is that,after making all reservations for these little irregular households,Favourite, Zéphine, and Dahlia were philosophic girls, and Fantine aprudent girl. Prudent, it will be said, and Tholomyès? Solomon wouldreply, that love forms part of wisdom. We confine ourselves to sayingthat Fantine's love was a first love, a single love, a faithful love.She was the only one of the four who was addressed familiarly by oneman alone.

Fantine was one of those beings who spring up from the dregs of thepeople; issuing from the lowest depths of the social darkness, she hadon her forehead the stamp of the anonymous and the unknown. She wasborn at M. sur M.; of what parents, who could say? She had never knowneither father or mother. She called herself Fantine, and why Fantine?She was never known by any other name. At the period of her birth, theDirectory was still in existence. She had no family name, as she hadno family; and no Christian name, as the Church was abolished. Sheaccepted the name given her by the first passer-by, who saw her runningbarefooted about the streets. She was called little Fantine, and no oneknew any more. This human creature came into the world in that way.At the age of ten, Fantine left the town, and went into service withfarmers in the neighborhood. At the age of fifteen she went to Paris,"to seek her fortune." Fantine was pretty and remained pure as long asshe could. She was a charming blonde, with handsome teeth; she had goldand pearls for her dower, but the gold was on her head, and the pearlsin her mouth.

She worked for a livelihood; and then she loved, still for the sakeof living, for the heart is hungry too. She loved Tholomyès; itwas a pastime for him, but a passion with her. The streets of theQuartier Latin, which are thronged with students and grisettes, sawthe beginning of this dream. Fantine, in the labyrinth of the PantheonHill, where so many adventures are fastened and unfastened, longshunned Tholomyès, but in such a way as to meet him constantly. Thereis a manner of avoiding which resembles seeking,—in a word, theeclogue was played.

Blachevelle, Listolier, and Fameuil formed a sort of group, of whichTholomyès was the head, for it was he who had the wit. Tholomyès wasthe antique old student; he was rich, for he had an income of 4000francs a year, a splendid scandal on the Montagne St. Geneviève.Tholomyès was a man of the world, thirty years of age, and in a badstate of preservation. He was wrinkled and had lost teeth, and he hadan incipient baldness, of which he himself said without sorrow: "Theskull at thirty, the knee at forty." He had but a poor digestion, andone of his eyes was permanently watery. But in proportion as his youthwas extinguished, his gayety became brighter; he substituted jests forhis teeth, joy for his hair, irony for his health, and his weeping eyelaughed incessantly. He was battered, but still flowering. His youthhad beaten an orderly retreat, and only the fire was visible. He hadhad a piece refused at the Vaudeville Theatre, and wrote occasionalverses now and then. In addition, he doubted everything in a superiorway, which is a great strength in the eyes of the weak. Hence, beingironical and bald, he was the leader. We wonder whether irony, isderived from the English word "iron"? One day Tholomyès took the otherthree aside, made an oracular gesture, and said,—

"It is nearly a year that Fantine, Dahlia, Zéphine, and Favorite havebeen asking us to give them a surprise, and we promised solemnly to doso. They are always talking about it, especially to me. In the sameway as the old women of Naples cry to Saint Januarius, "Yellow face,perform your miracle!" our beauties incessantly say to me, "Tholomyès,when will you be delivered of your surprise?" At the same time ourparents are writing to us, so let us kill two birds with one stone. Themoment appears to me to have arrived, so let us talk it over."

Upon this, Tholomyès lowered his voice, and mysteriously utteredsomething so amusing that a mighty and enthusiastic laugh burst fromfour mouths simultaneously, and Blacheville exclaimed "That is anidea!" An estaminet full of smoke presenting itself, they went in,and the remainder of their conference was lost in the tobacco clouds.The result of the gloom was a brilliant pleasure excursion, that tookplace on the following Sunday, to which the four young men invited thegirls.



It is difficult to form an idea at the present day of what a pleasureparty of students and grisettes was four-and-forty years ago. Parishas no longer the same environs; the face of what may be termedcircum-Parisian life has completely changed during half a century;where there was the old-fashioned coach, there is a railway-carriage;where there was the fly-boat, there is now the steamer; people talk ofFécamp as people did in those days of St. Cloud. Paris of 1862 is acity which has France for its suburbs.

The four couples conscientiously accomplished all the rustic folliespossible at that day. It was a bright warm summer day; they rose atfive o'clock; then they went to St. Cloud in the stage-coach, lookedat the dry cascade, and exclaimed, "That must be grand when there iswater;" breakfasted at the Tête Noire, where Castaing had not yet putup, ran at the ring in the Quincunx of the great basin, ascended intothe Diogenes lantern, gambled for macaroons at the roulette boardby the Sêvres bridge, culled posies at Puteaux, bought reed-pipesat Neuilly, ate apple tarts everywhere, and were perfectly happy.The girls prattled and chattered like escaped linnets; they werequite wild, and every now and then gave the young men little taps.Oh, youthful intoxication of life! adorable years! the wing of thedragon-fly rustles. Oh, whoever you may be, do you remember? have youever walked in the woods, removing the branches for the sake of thepretty head that comes behind you? have you laughingly stepped on adamp slope, with a beloved woman who holds your hand, and cries, "Oh,my boots, what a state they are in!" Let us say at once, that the merryannoyance of a shower was spared the happy party, although Favouritehad said on starting, with a magisterial and maternal air, "The slugsare walking about the paths; that is a sign of rain, children."

All four were pretty madcaps. A good old classic poet, then renowned,M. le Chevalier de Labouisse, a worthy man who had an Eléanore,wandering that day under the chestnut-trees of St. Cloud, saw them passat about ten in the morning, and exclaimed, "There is one too many,"thinking of the Graces. Favourite, the girl who was three-and-twentyand the old one, ran in front under the large green branches, leapedover ditches, strode madly across bushes, and presided over the gayetywith the spirit of a young fawn. Zéphine and Dahlia, whom accidenthad created as a couple necessary to enhance each other's beauty bycontrast, did not separate, though more through a coquettish instinctthan through friendship, and leaning on one another, assumed Englishattitudes; the first "Keepsakes" had just come out, melancholy wasculminating for women, as Byronism did at a later date for men, and thehair of the tender sex was beginning to become dishevelled. Zéphine andDahlia had their hair in rolls. Listolier and Fameuil, who were engagedin a discussion about their professors, were explaining to Fantinethe difference there was between M. Delvincourt and M. Blondeau.Blachevelle seemed to have been created expressly to carry Favourite'sfaded shabby shawl on Sundays.

Tholomyès came last; he was very gay, but there was somethingcommanding in his joviality; his principal ornament was nankeentrousers, cut in the shape of elephant's legs, with leathern straps; hehad a mighty rattan worth 200 francs in his hand, and, as he was quitereckless, a strange thing called a cigar in his mouth; nothing beingsacred to him, he smoked. "That Tholomyès is astounding," the otherswere wont to say with veneration. "What trousers! what energy!"

As for Fantine she was the personification of joy. Her splendid teethhad evidently been made for laughter by nature. She carried in herhand, more willingly than on her head, her little straw bonnet, withits long streamers. Her thick, light hair, inclined to float, and whichhad to be done up continually, seemed made for the flight of Galateaunder the willows. Her rosy lips prattled enchantingly; the cornersof her mouth voluptuously raised, as in the antique masks of Erigone,seemed to encourage boldness; but her long eyelashes, full of shade,were discreetly lowered upon the seductiveness of the lower part ofthe face, as if to command respect. Her whole toilet had something ofsong and sunshine about it; she had on a dress of mauve barége, littlebuskin slippers, whose strings formed an X on her fine, open-workedstockings, and that sort of muslin spencer, a Marseillais invention,whose name of canezou, a corrupted pronunciation of quinze Août atthe Cannebière, signifies fine weather and heat. The three others,who were less timid, as we said, bravely wore low-necked dresses,which in summer are very graceful and attractive, under bonnetscovered with flowers; but by the side of this bold dress, Fantine'scanezou, with its transparency, indiscretion, and reticences, at onceconcealing and displaying, seemed a provocative invention of decency;and the famous Court of Love, presided over by the Vicomtesse de Cettewith the sea-green eyes, would have probably bestowed the prize forcoquettishness on this canezou, which competed for that of chastity.The simplest things are frequently the cleverest.

Dazzling from a front view, delicate from a side view, with darkblue eyes, heavy eye-lids, arched and small feet, wrists and anklesadmirably set on, the white skin displaying here and there the azurearborescences of the veins, with a childish fresh cheek, the robustneck of the Æginetan Juno shoulders, apparently modelled by Couston,and having in their centre a voluptuous dimple, visible through themuslin; a gayety tempered by reverie; a sculptural and exquisitebeing,—such was Fantine; you could trace beneath the ribbons andfinery a statue, and inside the statue a soul. Fantine was beautiful,without being exactly conscious of it. Those rare dreamers, themysterious priests of the beautiful, who silently confront everythingwith perfection, would have seen in this little work-girl the ancientsacred euphony, through the transparency of Parisian grace! This girlhad blood in her, and had those two descriptions of beauty which arethe style and the rhythm. The style is the form of the ideal; therhythm is its movement.

We have said that Fantine was joy itself; she was also modesty.Any one who watched her closely would have seen through all thisintoxication of youth, the season, and love, an invincible expressionof restraint and modesty. She remained slightly astonished, and thischaste astonishment distinguishes Psyche from Venus. Fantine had thelong white delicate fingers of the Vestal, who stirs up the sacred firewith a golden bodkin. Though she had refused nothing, as we shall soonsee, to Tholomyès, her face, when in repose, was supremely virginal;a species of stern and almost austere dignity suddenly invaded itat certain hours, and nothing was so singular and affecting as tosee gayety so rapidly extinguished on it, and contemplation succeedcheerfulness without any transition. This sudden gravity, which was attimes sternly marked, resembled the disdain of a goddess. Her forehead,nose, and chin offered that equilibrium of outline which is verydistinct from the equilibrium of proportion, and produces the harmonyof the face; in the characteristic space between the base of the noseand the upper lip, she had that imperceptible and charming curve, thatmysterious sign of chastity, which made Barbarossa fall in love witha Diana found in the ruins of Iconium. Love is a fault; be it so; butFantine was innocence floating on the surface of the fault.



The whole of this day seemed to be composed of dawn; all nature seemedto be having a holiday, and laughing. The pastures of St. Cloud exhaledperfumes; the breeze from the Seine vaguely stirred the leaves; thebranches gesticulated in the wind; the bees were plundering thejessamine; a madcap swarm of butterflies settled down on the ragwort,the clover, and the wild oats; there was in the august park of theKing of France a pack of vagabonds, the birds. The four happy couplesenjoyed the sun, the fields, the flowers, and the trees. And in thiscommunity of Paradise, the girls, singing, talking, dancing, chasingbutterflies, picking bind-weed, wetting their stockings in the tallgrass, fresh, madcap, not bad, all received kisses from all the men,every now and then, save Fantine, enveloped in her vague resistance,dreamy and shy, and who was in love. "You always look strange,"Favourite said to her.

Such passings-by of happy couples are a profound appeal to life andnature, and bring caresses and light out of everything. Once upona time there was a fairy, who made fields and trees expressly forlovers; hence the eternal hedge-school of lovers, which incessantlyrecommences, and will last so long as there are bushes and scholars.Hence the popularity of spring among thinkers; the patrician and theknifegrinder, the duke and the limb of the law, people of the court andpeople of the city, as they were called formerly, are all subjects ofthis fairy. People laugh and seek each other; there is the brilliancyof an apotheosis in the air, for what a transfiguration is loving!Notary's clerks are gods. And then the little shrieks, pursuits in thegrass, waists caught hold of, that chattering which is so melodious,that adoration which breaks out in the way of uttering a word, cherriestorn from lips,—all this is glorious! People believe that it willnever end; philosophers, poets, artists, regard these ecstasies, andknow not what to do, as they are so dazzled by them. The departure forCythera! exclaims Watteau; Lancret, the painter of the middle classes,regards his cits flying away in the blue sky; Diderot stretches out hisarms to all these amourettes, and d'Urfé mixes up Druids with them.

After breakfast the four couples went to see, in what was then calledthe King's Square, a plant newly arrived from the Indies, whose namewe have forgotten, but which at that time attracted all Paris to St.Cloud; it was a strange and pretty shrub, whose numerous branches,fine as threads and leafless, were covered with a million of smallwhite flowers giving it the appearance of a head of hair swarmingwith flowers; there was always a crowd round it, admiring it. Afterinspecting the shrub, Tholomyès exclaimed, "I will pay for donkeys;"and after making a bargain with the donkey-man, they returned byVauvres and Issy. At the latter place an incident occurred; the park,a national estate held at this time by Bourguin the contractor, wasaccidentally open. They passed through the gates, visited the waxhermit in his grotto, and tried the mysterious effect of the famouscabinet of mirrors, a lascivious trap, worthy of a satyr who had becomea millionnaire. They bravely pulled the large swing, fastened to thetwo chestnut-trees celebrated by the Abbé de Bernis. While swingingthe ladies in turn, which produced, amid general laughter, a flying ofskirts by which Greuze would have profited, the Toulousian Tholomyès,who was somewhat of a Spaniard, as Toulouse is the cousin of Tolosa,sang to a melancholy tune the old gallega, which was probably inspiredby the sight of a pretty girl swinging between two trees,—

"Soy tie Badajoz
Amor me llama
Toda mi alma
Es en mis ojos
Porque enseflas
A tus piernas."

Fantine alone declined to swing.

"I do not like people to be so affected," Favourite muttered rathersharply.

On giving up the donkeys there was fresh pleasure; the Seine wascrossed in a boat, and from Passy they walked to the Barrière del'Étoile. They had been afoot since five in the morning; but no matter!"There is no such thing as weariness on Sunday," said Favourite; "onSundays fatigue does not work." At about three o'clock, the fourcouples, wild with delight, turned into the Montagnes Busses, asingular building, which at that time occupied the heights of Beaujon,and whose winding line could be seen over the trees of the ChampsÉlysées. From time to time Favourite exclaimed,—

"Where's the surprise? I insist on the surprise."

"Have patience," Tholomyès answered.



The Russian mountain exhausted, they thought about dinner, andthe radiant eight, at length somewhat weary, put into the CabaretBombarda, an offshoot established in the Champs Élysées by that famousrestaurateur Bombarda, whose sign could be seen at that time at the Ruede Rivoli by the side of the Delorme passage.

A large but ugly room, with an alcove and a bed at the end (owing tothe crowded state of the houses on Sundays they were compelled toput up with it); two windows from which the quay and river could becontemplated through the elm-trees; a magnificent autumn sun illuminingthe windows; two tables, on one of them a triumphal mountain ofbottles, mixed up with hats and bonnets, at the other four couplesjoyously seated round a mass of dishes, plates, bottles, and glasses,pitchers of beer, mingled with wine-bottles; but little order on thetable, and some amount of disorder under it.

"Ils faisaient sous la table
Un bruit, un trique-trac de pieds épouvantable,"

as Molière says. Such was the state of the pastoral which began at5 A.M.; at half-past 4 P.M. the sun was declining and appetite wassatisfied.

The Champs Élysées, full of sunshine and crowd, were nought butlight and dust, two things of which glory is composed. The horses ofMarly, those neighing marbles, reared amid a golden cloud. Carriagescontinually passed along; a squadron of splendid guards, with thetrumpeter at their head, rode down the Neuilly avenue; the white flag,tinged with pink by the setting sun, floated above the dome of theTuileries. The Place de la Concorde, which had again become the PlaceLouis XV., was crowded with merry promenaders. Many wore a silverfleur de lys hanging from a black moiré ribbon, which, in 1817, hadnot entirely disappeared from the buttonholes. Here and there, inthe midst of applauding crowds, little girls were singing a royalistbourrée, very celebrated at that time, intended to crush the hundreddays, and which had a chorus of,—

"Rendez nous notre père de Gand,
Rendez vous notre père."

Heaps of suburbans, dressed in their Sunday clothes, and some wearingfleur de lys like the cits, were scattered over the squares, playingat quintain or riding in roundabouts; others were drinking; some whowere printers' apprentices wore paper caps, and their laughter was theloudest. All was radiant; it was a time of undeniable peace, and ofprofound royalist security; it was a period when a private and specialreport of Anglès, prefect of police to the King, terminated with theselines: "All things duly considered, Sire, there is nothing to fear fromthese people. They are as careless and indolent as cats, and though thelower classes in the provinces are stirring, those in Paris are not so.They are all little men, Sire, and it would take two of them to makeone of your grenadiers. There is nothing to fear from the populace ofthe capital. It is remarkable that their height has decreased duringthe last fifty years, and the people of the suburbs of Paris areshorter than they were before the Revolution. They are not dangerous,and, in a word, are good-tempered canaille."

Prefects of police do not believe it possible that a cat can be changedinto a lion; it is so, however, and that is the miracle of the peopleof Paris. The cat, so despised by Count Anglès, possessed the esteemof the old Republics; it was the incarnation of liberty in their eyes,and as if to serve as a pendant to the Minerva Apteros of the Piræus,there was on the public square of Corinth a colossal bronze statue of acat. The simple police of the restoration had too favorable an opinionof the people of Paris, and they were not such good-tempered canailleas they were supposed to be. The Parisian is to the French-man whatthe Athenian is to the Greek; no one sleeps sounder than he; no one ismore frankly frivolous and idle than he; no one can pretend to forgetso well as he,—but he must not be trusted; he is suited for everyspecies of nonchalance, but when there is a glory as the result, heis admirable for every sort of fury. Give him a pike and he will makeAugust 10; give him a musket, and you will have Austerlitz. He is thesupport of Napoleon, and the resource of Danton. If the country is indanger, he enlists; if liberty is imperilled, he tears up the pavement.His hair, full of wrath, is epical, his blouse assumes the folds ofa chlamys. Take care; for of the first Rue Grenétat he comes to bewill make Caudine forks. If the hour strikes, this suburban grows, thelittle man looks in a terrible manner, his breath becomes a tempest,and from his weak chest issues a blast strong enough to uproot theAlps. It was through the Parisian suburban that the Revolution, joinedwith armies, conquered Europe. He sings, and that forms his delight;proportion his song to his nature, and you shall see! So long as he hasno burden but the Carmagnole, he will merely overthrow Louis XVI.; butmake him sing the Marseillaise, and he will deliver the world.

After writing this note on the margin of Count Anglès' report, we willreturn to our four couples. The dinner, as we said, was drawing to aclose.



Love talk and table talk are equally indescribable, for the first isa cloud, the second smoke. Fantine and Dahlia were humming a tune,Tholomyès was drinking, Zéphine laughing, Fantine smiling, Listolierwas blowing a penny trumpet bought at St. Cloud, Favourite was lookingtenderly at Blachevelle and saying,—

"Blachevelle, I adore you."

This led to Blachevelle asking,—

"What would you do, Favourite, if I ceased to love you?"

"I?" Favourite exclaimed, "oh, do not say that, even in fun! If youceased to love me I would run after you, claw you, throw water overyou, and have you arrested."

Blachevelle smiled with the voluptuous fatuity of a man whoseself-esteem is tickled. Dahlia, while still eating, whispered toFavourite through the noise,—

"You seem to be very fond of your Blachevelle?"

"I detest him," Favourite answered in the same key, as she seized herfork again. "He is miserly, and I prefer the little fellow who livesopposite to me. He is a very good-looking young man; do you know him?It is easy to see that he wants to be an actor, and I am fond ofactors. So soon as he comes in, his mother says,—'Oh, good heavens!my tranquillity is destroyed: he is going to begin to shout; my dearboy, you give me a headache;' because he goes about the house, into thegarrets as high as he can get, and sings and declaims, so that he canbe heard from the streets! He already earns 20 sous a day in a lawyer'soffice. He is the son of an ex-chorister at St. Jacques du Haut Pas.Ah! he adores me to such a pitch that one day when he saw me makingbatter for pancakes, he said to me, 'Mamselle, make fritters of yourgloves, and I will eat them.' Only artists are able to say things likethat. Ah! he is very good-looking, and I feel as if I am about to fallmadly in love with the little fellow. No matter, I tell Blachevellethat I adore him: what a falsehood, eh, what a falsehood!"

After a pause, Favourite continued,—

"Dahlia, look you, I am sad. It has done nothing but rain all thesummer: the wind annoys me, Blachevelle is excessively mean, there arehardly any green peas in the market, one does not know what to eat; Ihave the spleen, as the English say, for butter is so dear; and then itis horrifying that we are dining in a room with a bed in it, and thatdisgusts me with life."



At length, when all were singing noisily, or talking all together,Tholomyès interfered.

"Let us not talk hap-hazard or too quickly," he exclaimed; "we mustmeditate if we desire to be striking; too much improvisation stupidlyempties the mind. Gentlemen, no haste; let us mingle majesty with ourgayety, eat contemplatively, and let festina lente be our rule. Wemust not hurry. Look at the Spring; if it goes ahead too fast it isfloored, that is to say, nipped by frost. Excessive zeal ruins thepeach and apricot trees; excessive zeal kills the grace and joy of gooddinners. No zeal, gentlemen; Grimaud de la Reynière is of the sameopinion as Talleyrand."

A dull rebellion broke out in the party.

"Tholomyès, leave us at peace," said Blachevelle.

"Down with the tyrant!" said Fameuil.

"Sunday exists," Listolier added.

"We are sober," Fameuil remarked again.

"Tholomyès," said Blachevelle, "contemplate my calmness" (mon calme.)

"You are the Marquis of that ilk," Tholomyès replied. This poor punproduced the effect of a stone thrown into a pond. The Marquis deMontcalm was a celebrated Royalist at that day. All the frogs weresilent.

"My friends," Tholomyès shouted with the accent of a man who isrecapturing his empire, "recover yourselves: too great stupor shouldnot greet this pun which has fallen from the clouds, for everythingthat falls in such a manner is not necessarily worthy of enthusiasmand respect. Far be from me to insult puns: I honor them according totheir deserts, and no more. All the most august, sublime, and charmingin humanity and perhaps beyond humanity have played upon words. Christmade a pun on Saint Peter, Moses on Isaac, Æschylus on Polynices, andCleopatra on Octavius. And note the fact that Cleopatra's pun precededthe battle of Actium, and that, were it not for that pun, no one wouldknow the town of Toryne, a Greek word signifying a potladle. Thisgranted, I return to my exhortation. Brethren, I repeat, no zeal, norow, no excess, even in witticisms, gayeties, merriments, and playingupon words. Listen to me, for I possess the prudence of Amphiaralisand the baldness of Cæsar; there should be a limit even to the rebus.Est modus in rebus. There should be a limit even to dinners; youare fond of apple-puffs, ladies, but no abuse; even in the matterof apple-puffs, good sense and art are needed. Gluttony chastisesthe glutton. Gula punit gulax. Indigestion was sent into the worldto read a lecture to our stomachs; and, bear this in mind, each ofour passions, even love, has a stomach which must not be filled toofull. In all things, we must write betimes the word finis, we mustrestrain ourselves when it becomes urgent, put a bolt on our appetites,lock up our fancy, and place ourselves under arrest. The wise man ishe who knows how, at a given moment, to arrest himself. Place someconfidence in me: it does not follow because I know a little law, as myexaminations prove; because I have supported a thesis in Latin as tothe mode in which torture was applied at Rome at the time when MunatiusDemens was quæstor parricidæ; and because I am going to be a Doctorat Law, as it seems,—it does not necessarily follow, I say, that I aman ass. I recommend to you moderation in your desires. As truly as myname is Félix Tholomyès, I am speaking the truth. Happy the man who,when the hour has struck, forms an heroic resolve, and abdicates likeSylla or Origen."

Favourite was listening with profound attention. "Félix!" she said,"what a pretty name; I like it. It is Latin, and means happy."

Tholomyès continued,—

"Gentlemen, be suspicious of women; woe to the man who surrendershimself to a woman's fickle heart; woman is perfidious and tortuous,and detests the serpent from professional jealousy. It is the shopopposite."

"Tholomyès," Blachevelle shouted, "you are drunk."

"I hope so!"

"Then be jolly."

"I am agreeable," Tholomyès answered. And filling his glass, he rose.

"Glory to wine! nunc te, Bacche, canam! Pardon, ladies, that isSpanish, and the proof, Señoras, is this: as the country is, so is themeasure. The arroba of Castille contains sixteen quarts, the cantaroof Alicante twelve, the almuda of the Canary Isles twenty-five, thecuartino of the Balearic Isles twenty-six, and Czar Peter's bootthirty. Long live the Czar who was great, and his boot which wasgreater still! Ladies, take a friend's advice; deceive your neighbor,if you think proper. The peculiarity of love is to wander, and it isnot made to crouch like an English servant girl who has stiff kneesfrom scrubbing. It is said that error is human; but I say, erroris amorous. Ladies, I idolize you all. O Zéphine, you with yourseductive face, you would be charming were you not all askew; yourface looks for all the world as if it had been sat upon by mistake.As for Favourite, O ye Nymphs and Muses! one day when Blachevellewas crossing the gutter in the Rue Guérin-Boisseau, he saw a prettygirl with white, well-drawn-up stockings, who displayed her legs.The prologue was pleasing, and Blachevelle fell in love; the girl heloved was Favourite. O Favourite, you have Ionian lips; there was aGreek painter of the name of Euphorion, who was christened the painterof lips, and this Greek alone would be worthy to paint your mouth.Listen to me: before you there was not a creature deserving of thename; you are made to receive the apple like Venus, or to eat it likeEve. Beauty begins with you, and you deserve a patent for inventing apretty woman. You alluded to my name just now; it affected me deeply,but we must be distrustful of names, for they may be deceptive. Myname is Félix, and yet I am not happy. Let us not blindly accept theindications they give us; it would be a mistake to write to Liège forcorks, or to Pau for gloves.[1] Miss Dahlia, in your place I wouldcall myself Rose, for a flower ought to smell agreeably, and a womanhave spirit. I say nothing of Fantine, for she is a dreamer, pensiveand sensitive; she is a phantom, having the form of a nymph, and themodesty of a nun, who has strayed into the life of a grisette, buttakes shelter in illusions, and who sings, prays, and looks at theblue sky, without exactly knowing what she sees or what she does, andwho, with her eyes fixed on heaven, wanders about a garden in whichthere are more birds than ever existed. O Fantine, be aware of thisfact: I, Tholomyès, am an illusion—why, the fair girl of chimeræ isnot even listening to me! All about her is freshness, suavity, youth,and sweet morning brightness. O Fantine, girl worthy to be calledMargaret or Pearl, you are a woman of the fairest East. Ladies, hereis a second piece of advice; do not marry, for marriage is a risk, andyou had better shun it. But nonsense! I am wasting my words! girls areincurable about wedlock; and all that we sages may say will not preventwaistcoat-makers and shoebinders from dreaming of husbands loaded withdiamonds. Well, beauties, be it so: but bear this in mind, you eat toomuch sugar. You have only one fault, O women, and that is nibblingsugar. O rodent sex, your pretty little white teeth adore sugar. Now,listen to this: sugar is a salt, and salts are of a drying nature,and sugar is the most drying of all salts. It pumps out the fluidityof the blood through the veins; this produces first coagulation andthen solidifying of the blood; from this come tubercles in the lungs,and thence death. Hence do not nibble sugar, and you will live. I nowturn to my male hearers: Gentlemen, make conquests. Rob one another ofyour well-beloved ones remorselessly; change partners, for, in lovethere are no friends. Whenever there is a pretty woman, hostilities areopened; there is no quarter, but war to the knife! a pretty woman is acasus belli and a flagrant offence. All the invasions of history wereproduced by petticoats; for woman is the lawful prey of man. Romuluscarried off the Sabine women, William the Saxon women, and Cæsar theRoman women. A man who is not loved soars like a vulture over themistresses of other men: and for my part, I offer all these unfortunatewidowers, Bonaparte's sublime proclamation to the army of Italy:'Soldiers, you want for everything; the enemy possesses it.'"

Here Tholomyès broke off.

"Take a breather, my boy," said Blachevelle.

At the same time the other three gentlemen struck up to a doleful airone of those studio-songs, as destitute of sense as the motion of atree or the sound of the wind, which are composed extemporaneously,either in rhyme or prose, which spring up from the smoke of pipes,and fly away with it. The song was not adapted to calm Tholomyès'inspiration; hence he emptied his glass, filled it again, and beganonce more.

"Down with wisdom! forget all I have said to you. Be neither prudish,nor prudent, nor prud'hommes. I drink the health of jollity: so letus be jolly. Let us complete our legal studies by folly and good food,for indigestion should run in a curricle with digests. Let Justinianbe the male and merriment the female! Live, O creation; the world isone large diamond; I am happy, and the birds are astounding. What afestival all around us; the nightingale is a gratis Elleviou. Summer,I salute thee. O Luxembourg! O ye Georgics of the Rue Madame and theAllée de l'Observatoire! O ye dreaming soldiers! O ye delicious nurses,who, while taking care of children, fancy what your own will be like!the Pampas of America would please me if I had not the arcades of theOdéon. My soul is flying away to the Virgin forests and the savannas.All is glorious: the flies are buzzing in the light; the sun hassneezed forth the humming-bird. Kiss me, Fantine!"

He made a mistake and kissed Favourite.

[1] An untranslatable pun based on chêne-liège and peau.



"It is a better dinner at Édon's than at Bombarda's," Zéphine exclaimed.

"I prefer Bombarda," Blachevelle declared; "there is more luxury: itis more Asiatic. Just look at the dining-room with its mirrors: lookat the knives, they are silver-handled here and bone at Édon's; now,silver is more precious than bone."

"Excepting for those persons who have a silver chin," Tholomyèsobserved.

He was looking at this moment at the dome of the Invalides which wasvisible from Bombardas window. There was a pause.

"Tholomyès," cried Fameuil, "just now, Listolier and I had adiscussion."

"A discussion is good," replied Tholomyès; "a quarrel is better."

"We discussed philosophy; which do you prefer, Descartes or Spinoza?"

"Désangiers," said Tholomyès.

This judgment rendered, he continued,—

"I consent to live: all is not finished in the world. Since men canstill be unreasonable, I return thanks to the immortal gods. Men lie,but they laugh: they affirm, but they doubt: and something unexpectedissues from the syllogism. This is grand: there are still in the worldhuman beings who can joyously open and shut the puzzle-box of paradox.This wine, ladies, which you are drinking so calmly, is Madeira, youmust know, grown at Coural das Freiras, which is three hundred andseventeen toises above the sea level. Attention while drinking!three hundred and seventeen toises, and M. Bombarda, the magnificentrestaurateur, lets you have these three hundred and seventeen toisesfor four francs, fifty centimes."

Tholomyès drained his glass and then continued:

"Honor to Bombarda! he would be equal to Memphis of Elephanta if hecould ladle me up an Almeh, and to Thygelion of Cheronea if he couldprocure me an Hetæra! for, ladies, there were Bombardas in Greece andEgypt, as Apuleius teaches us. Alas! ever the same thing and nothingnew: nothing is left unpublished in the creation of the Creator.'Nothing new under the sun,' says Solomon: amor omnibus idem, andCarabine gets into the St. Cloud fly-boat with Carabin, just as Aspasiaembarked with Pericles aboard the Samos fleet. One last word: Do youknow who Aspasia was, ladies? Although she lived at a time when womenhad no soul, she was a soul: a soul of a pink and purple hue, hotterthan fire, and fresher than the dawn. Aspasia was a creature in whomthe two extremes of woman met. She was a prostituted goddess: Socratesplus Manon Lescaut."

Tholomyès, when started, would hardly have been checked, had not ahorse fallen in the street at this very moment. Through the shock,cart and orator stopped short. It was a Beauce mare, old and leanand worthy of the knacker, dragging a very heavy cart. On getting infront of Bombarda's, the beast, exhausted and worn out, refused to goany further, and this incident produced a crowd. The carter, swearingand indignant, had scarce time to utter with the suitable energy thesacramental word, "Rascal!" backed up by a pitiless lash, ere the poorbeast fell, never to rise again. Tholomyès' gay hearers turned theirheads away on noticing the confusion, while he wound up his speech bythe following sad strophe,—

"Elle était de ce monde où coucous et carrosses,
Ont le même destin,
Et, rosse, elle a vécu ce que vivent les rosses,
L'espace d'un: Mâtin!"

"Poor horse!" Fantine said with a sigh; and Dahlia shouted,—

"Why, here is Fantine beginning to feel pity for horses: how can she besuch a fool!"

At this moment, Favourite crossed her arms and threw her head back; shethen looked boldly at Tholomyès, and said,—

"Well, how about the surprise?"

"That is true, the hour has arrived," Tholomyès answered. "Gentlemen,it is time to surprise the ladies. Pray wait for us a moment."

"It begins with a kiss," said Blacheve.

"On the forehead," Tholomyès added.

Each solemnly kissed the forehead of his mistress: then they proceededto the door in Indian file, with a finger on their lip. Favouriteclapped her hands as they went out.

"It is amusing already," she said.

"Do not be long," Fantine murmured, "we are waiting for you."



The girls, when left alone, leaned out of the windows, two by two,talking, looking out, and wondering. They watched the young men leavethe Bombarda cabaret arm in arm; they turned round, made laughingsigns, and disappeared in that dusty Sunday mob which once a weekinvaded the Champs Élysées.

"Do not be long," Fantine cried.

"What will they bring us?" said Zéphine.

"I am certain it will be pretty," said Dahlia.

"For my part," Favourite added, "I hope it will be set in gold."

They were soon distracted by the movement on the quay, which they couldnotice through the branches of the lofty trees, and which greatlyamused them. It was the hour for the mail-carts and stages to start,and nearly all those bound for the South and West at that time passedthrough the Champs Élysées. Most of them followed the quay and wentout by the Passy barrier. Every moment some heavy vehicle, paintedyellow and black, heavily loaded and rendered shapeless by trunks andvalises, dashed through the crowd with the sparks of a forge, the dustrepresenting the smoke. This confusion amused the girls.

"What a racket!" exclaimed Favourite; "one might say a pile of chairswas flying about."

One of these vehicles, which could hardly be distinguished through thebranches, stopped for a moment, and then started again at a gallop.This surprised Fantine.

"That is strange," she said; "I fancied that the diligence neverstopped."

Favourite shrugged her shoulders.

"This Fantine is really amazing, and is surprised at the simplestthings. Let us suppose that I am a traveller and say to the guard ofthe stage-coach, "I will walk on and you can pick me up on the quay asyou pass." The coach passes, sees me, stops and takes me in. That isdone every day; you are ignorant of life, my dear."

Some time elapsed; all at once Favourite started as if waking fromsleep.

"Well," she said, "where is the surprise?"

"Oh yes," Dahlia continued, "the famous surprise."

"They are a long time," said Fantine.

Just as Fantine had ended this sigh, the waiter who had served thedinner came in; he held in his hand something that resembled a letter.

"What is that?" Favourite asked.

The waiter answered,—

"It is a paper which the gentlemen left for you, ladies."

"Why did you not bring it to us at once?"

"Because the gentlemen," the waiter went on, "ordered that it shouldnot be delivered to you for an hour."

Favourite snatched the paper from the waiter's hands; it was really aletter.

"Stay," she said; "there is no address, but the following words arewritten on it: THIS IS THE SURPRISE." She quickly opened the letter andread (she could read):—

"WELL-BELOVED,—Know that we have relatives: perhaps you are notperfectly cognizant what they are; it means fathers and mothers in thecivil, puerile, and honest code. Well, these relatives are groaning;these old people claim us as their own; these worthy men and women callus prodigal sons. They desire our return home, and offer to kill thefatted calf. We obey them, as we are virtuous; at the hour when youread this, five impetuous steeds will be conveying us back to our papasand mammas. 'We decamp,' as Bossuet said; "we are going, gone." We areflying away in the arms of Laffitte and on the wings of Gaillard. TheToulouse coach is dragging us away from the abyss, and that abyss isyourselves, pretty dears. We are re-entering society, duty, and order,at a sharp trot, and at the rate of nine miles an hour. It is importantfor our country that we should become, like everybody else, Prefects,fathers of a family, game-keepers, and councillors of state. Revere us,for we are sacrificing ourselves. Dry up your tears for us rapidly, andget a substitute speedily. If this letter lacerates your hearts, treatit in the same fashion. Good-by. For nearly two years we rendered youhappy, so do not owe us any grudge.



"P.S. The dinner is paid for."

The four girls looked at each other, and Favourite was the first tobreak the silence.

"I don't care," she said, "it is a capital joke."

"It is very funny," Zéphine remarked.

"It must have been Blachevelle who had that idea," Favourite continued;"it makes me in love with him. So soon as he has left me I am beginningto grow fond of him; the old story."

"No," said Dahlia, "that is an idea of Tholomyès. That can be easilyseen."

"In that case," Favourite retorted, "down with Blachevelle and longlive Tholomyès!"

And they burst into a laugh, in which Fantine joined.

An hour later though, when she returned to her bed-room, she wept: thiswas, as we have said, her first love; she had yielded to Tholomyès asto a husband, and the poor girl had a child.





There was in the first quarter of this century a sort of pot-houseat Montfermeil, near Paris, which no longer exists. It was kept bya couple of the name of Thénardier, and was situated in the Rue duBoulanger. Over the door a board was nailed to the wall, and on thisboard was painted something resembling a man carrying on his backanother man, who wore large gilt general's epaulettes with silverstars; red dabs represented blood, and the rest of the painting wassmoke, probably representing a battle. At the bottom could be read theinscription: THE SERGEANT OF WATERLOO.

Though nothing is more common than a cart at a pot-house door, thevehicle, or rather fragment of a vehicle, which blocked up the streetin front of the Sergeant of Waterloo, one spring evening in 1818,would have certainly attracted the attention of any painter who hadpassed that way. It was the forepart of one of those wains used in woodcountries for dragging planks and trunks of trees; it was composedof a massive iron axle-tree, in which a heavy pole was imbedded andsupported by two enormous wheels. The whole thing was sturdy, crushing,and ugly, and it might have passed for the carriage of a monster gun.The ruts had given the wheels, felloes, spokes, axle-tree, and pole acoating of mud, a hideous yellow plaster, much like that with whichcathedrals are so often adorned. The wood-work was hidden by mud andthe iron by rust. Under the axle-tree was festooned a heavy chainsuited for a convict Goliath. This chain made you think, not of thewood it was intended to secure, but of the mastodons and mammoths forwhich it would have served as harness; it had the air of a cyclopeanand superhuman bagne, and seemed removed from some monster. Homer wouldhave bound Polyphemus with it, and Shakespeare, Caliban.

Why was this thing at this place in the street? First, to block it up;secondly, to finish the rusting process. There is in the old socialorder a multitude of institutions which may be found in the same wayin the open air, and which have no other reasons for being there.The centre of the chain hung rather close to the ground, and on thecurve, as on the rope of a swing, two little girls were seated on thisevening, in an exquisite embrace, one about two years and a half, theother eighteen months; the younger being in the arms of the elder. Anartfully-tied handkerchief prevented them from falling, for a motherhad seen this frightful chain, and said, "What a famous playthingfor my children!" The two children, who were prettily dressed andwith some taste, were radiant; they looked like two roses among oldiron; their eyes were a triumph, their healthy cheeks laughed; onehad auburn hair, the other was a brunette; their innocent faces hada look of surprise; a flowering shrub a little distance off sent topassers-by a perfume which seemed to come from them; and the youngerdisplayed her nudity with the chaste indecency of childhood. Aboveand around their two delicate heads, moulded in happiness and bathedin light, the gigantic wheels, black with rust, almost terrible, andbristling with curves and savage angles, formed the porch of a cavern,as it were. A few yards off, and seated in the inn door, the mother, awoman of no very pleasing appearance, but touching at this moment, wasswinging the children by the help of a long cord, and devouring themwith her eyes, for fear of an accident, with that animal and heavenlyexpression peculiar to maternity. At each oscillation the hideous linksproduced a sharp sound, resembling a cry of anger. The little girlswere delighted; the setting sun mingled with the joy, and nothing couldbe so charming as this caprice of accident which had made of a Titanicchain a cherub's swing. While playing with her little ones, the mothersang, terribly out of tune, a romance, very celebrated at that day,—

"Il le faut, disait un guerrier."

Her song and contemplation of her daughters prevented her hearing andseeing what took place in the street. Some one, however, had approachedher, as she began the first couplets of the romance, and suddenly sheheard a voice saying close to her ear,—

"You have two pretty children, Madame."

"—à la belle et tendre Imogène,"

the mother answered, continuing her song, and then turned her head. Awoman was standing a few paces from her, who also had a child, whichshe was carrying in her arms. She also carried a heavy bag. Thiswoman's child was one of the most divine creatures possible to behold;she was a girl between two and three years of age, and could have viedwith the two other little ones in the coquettishness of her dress. Shehad on a hood of fine linen, ribbons at her shoulders, and Valencienneslace in her cap. Her raised petticoats displayed her white, dimpled,fine thigh; it was admirably pink and healthy, and her cheeks madeone long to bite them. Nothing could be said of her eyes, except thatthey were very large, and that she had magnificent lashes, for shewas asleep. She was sleeping with the absolute confidence peculiar toher age; a mother's arms are made of tenderness, and children sleepsoundly in them. As for the mother, she looked grave and sorrowful, andwas dressed like a work-girl who was trying to become a country-womanagain. She was young; was she pretty? Perhaps so; but in this dressshe did not appear so. Her hair, a light lock of which peeped out,seemed very thick, but was completely hidden beneath a nun's hood;ugly, tight, and fastened under her chin. Laughter displays fine teeth,when a person happens to possess them; but she did not laugh. Her eyeslooked as if they had not been dry for a long time; she had a fatiguedand rather sickly air, and she looked at the child sleeping in her armsin the manner peculiar to a mother who has suckled her babe. A largeblue handkerchief, like those served out to the invalids, folded likea shawl, clumsily hid her shape. Her hands were rough and covered withred spots, and her forefinger was hardened and torn by the needle. Shehad on a brown cloth cloak, a cotton gown, and heavy shoes. It wasFantine.

It was difficult to recognize her, but, after an attentive examination,she still possessed her beauty. As for her toilette,—that aeriantoilette of muslin and ribbons which seemed made of gayety, folly, andmusic, to be full of bells, and perfumed with lilacs,—it had fadedaway like the dazzling hoar-frost which looks like diamonds in the sun;it melts, and leaves the branch quite black.

Ten months had elapsed Bince the "good joke." What had taken placeduring these ten months? We can guess. After desertion, want. Fantineat once lost sight of Favourite, Zéphine, and Dahlia, for this tiebroken on the side of the men separated the women. They would havebeen greatly surprised a fortnight after had they been told that theywere friends, for there was no reason for it. Fantine remained alonewhen the father of her child had gone away—alas! such ruptures areirrevocable. She found herself absolutely isolated; she had lost herhabit of working, and had gained a taste for pleasure. Led away by herliaison with Tholomyès to despise the little trade she knew, she hadneglected her connection, and it was lost. She had no resource. Fantinecould hardly read, and could not write; she had been merely taught inchildhood to sign her name, and she had sent a letter to Tholomyès,then a second, then a third, through a public writer, but Tholomyèsdid not answer one of them. One day Fantine heard the gossips say,while looking at her daughter, "Children like that are not regardedseriously, people shrug their shoulders at them." Then she thought ofTholomyès who shrugged his shoulders at her child, and did not regardthe innocent creature seriously, and her heart turned away from thisman. What was she to do now? She knew not where to turn. She hadcommitted a fault, but the foundation of her nature, we must remember,was modesty and virtue. She felt vaguely that she was on the eve offalling into distress, and gliding into worse. She needed courage, andshe had it. The idea occurred to her of returning to her native town M.sur M. There some one might know her, and give her work; but she musthide her fault. And she vaguely glimpsed at the possible necessity of aseparation more painful still than the first; her heart was contracted,but she formed her resolution. Fantine, as we shall see, possessed thestern bravery of life. She had already valiantly given up dress; shedressed in calico, and had put all her silk ribbons and laces upon herdaughter, the only vanity left her, and it was a holy one. She soldall she possessed, which brought her in 200 francs; and when she hadpaid her little debts, she had only about 80 francs left. At the ageof two-and-twenty, on a fine Spring morning, she left Paris, carryingher child on her back. Any one who had seen them pass would have feltpity for them; the woman had nothing in the world but her child, andthe child nothing but her mother in her world. Fantine had suckled herchild; this had strained her chest, and she was coughing a little.

We shall have no further occasion to speak of M. Félix Tholomyès.We will merely say that twenty years later, in the reign of LouisPhilippe, he was a stout country lawyer, influential and rich, asensible elector, and a very strict juror, but always a man of pleasure.

About mid-day, after resting herself now and then by travelling fromtime to time, at the rate of three or four leagues an hour, in whatwere then called the "little vehicles of the suburbs of Paris," Fantinefound herself at Montfermeil, in the Ruelle Boulanger. As she passedthe Sergeant of Waterloo, the two little girls in their monster swinghad dazzled her, and she stopped before this vision of joy. There arecharms in life, and these two little girls were one for this mother.She looked at them with great emotion, for the presence of angelsis an announcement of Paradise. She thought she saw over this innthe mysterious HERE of Providence. These two little creatures wereevidently happy! She looked then, and admired them with such tendernessthat at the moment when the mother was drawing breath between twoverses of her song, she could not refrain from saying to her what wehave already recorded.

"You have two pretty children, Madame."

The most ferocious creatures are disarmed by a caress given to theirlittle ones. The mother raised her head, thanked her, and bade her sitdown on the door bench. The two women began talking.

"My name is Madame Thénardier," the mother of the little ones said; "wekeep this inn."

Then returning to her romance, she went on humming,—

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

This Madame Thénardier was a red-headed, thin, angular woman, thesoldier's wife in all its ugliness, and, strange to say, with alanguishing air which she owed to reading romances. She was a sort oflackadaisical male-woman. Old romances, working on the imaginations oflandladies, produce that effect. She was still young, scarce thirty. Ifthis woman, now sitting, had been standing up, perhaps her height andcolossal proportions, fitting for a show, would have at once startledthe traveller, destroyed her confidence, and prevented what we have torecord. A person sitting instead of standing up—destinies hang on this.

The woman told her story with some modification. She was a work-girl,her husband was dead; she could get no work in Paris, and was going toseek it elsewhere, in her native town. She had left Paris that verymorning on foot; as she felt tired from carrying her child, she hadtravelled by the stage-coach to Villemomble, from that place she walkedto Montfermeil. The little one had walked a little, but not much, forshe was so young, and so she had been obliged to cany her, and thedarling had gone to sleep,—and as she said this she gave her daughtera passionate kiss, which awoke her. The babe opened her eyes, largeblue eyes like her mother's, and gazed at what? Nothing, everything,with that serious and at times stern air of infants, which is a mysteryof their luminous innocence in the presence of our twilight virtues.We might say that they feel themselves to be angels, and know us tobe men. Then the child began laughing, and, though its mother had tocheck it, slipped down to the ground with the undauntable energy ofa little creature wishing to run. All at once, she noticed the othertwo children in their swing, stopped short, and put out her tongue asa sign of admiration. Mother Thénardier unfastened her children, tookthem out of the swing, and said,—

"Play about, all three."

Children soon get familiar, and in a minute the little Thénardiers wereplaying with the new-comer at making holes in the ground, which was animmense pleasure. The stranger child was very merry; the goodness ofthe mother is written in the gayety of the baby. She had picked up apiece of wood which she used as a spade, and was energetically digginga grave large enough for a fly. The two went on talking.

"What 's the name of your bantling?"


For Cosette read Euphrasie, for that was the child's real name; butthe mother had converted Euphrasie into Cosette, through that gentle,graceful instinct peculiar to mothers and the people, which changesJosefa into Pépita, and Françoise into Sellette. It is a speciesof derivation which deranges and disconcerts the entire science ofetymologists. We know a grandmother who contrived to make out ofTheodore, Gnon.

"What is her age?"

"Going on to three."

"Just the same age as my eldest."

In the mean time the children were grouped in a posture of profoundanxiety and blessedness; an event had occurred. A large worm crept outof the ground, and they were frightened, and were in ecstasy; theirradiant brows touched each other; and they looked like three heads in ahalo.

"How soon children get to know one another," Mother Thénardierexclaimed; "why, they might be taken for three sisters."

The word was probably the spark which the other mother had been waitingfor; she seized the speaker's hand, looked at her fixedly, and said,—

"Will you take charge of my child for me?"

The woman gave one of those starts of surprise which are neither assentnor refusal. Fantine continued,—

"Look you, I cannot take the child with me to my town, for when a womanhas a baby, it is a hard matter for her to get a situation. People areso foolish in our part. It was Heaven that made me pass in front ofyour inn; when I saw your little ones so pretty, so clean, so happy,it gave me a turn. I said to myself, "She is a kind mother." It is so;they will be three sisters. Then I shall not be long before I comeback. Will you take care of my child?"

"We will see, said Mother Thénardier.

"I would pay six francs a month."

Here a man's voice cried from the back of the tap-room,—

"Can't be done under seven, and six months paid in advance."

"Six times seven are forty-two," said the landlady.

"I will pay it," said the mother.

"And seventeen francs in addition for extra expenses," the man's voiceadded.

"Total fifty-seven francs," said Madame Thénardier; and through thesefigures she sang vaguely,—

"Il le faut, disait un guerrier."

"I will pay it," the mother said; "I have eighty francs, and shall haveenough left to get home on foot. I shall earn money there, and so soonas I have a little I will come and fetch my darling."

The man's voice continued,—

"Has the little one a stock of clothing?"

"It is my husband," said Mother Thénardier.

"Of course she has clothes, poor little treasure. I saw it was yourhusband; and a fine stock of clothes too, a wonderful stock, a dozen ofeverything, and silk frocks like a lady. The things are in my bag."

"They must be handed over," the man's voice remarked.

"Of course they must," said the mother; "it would be funny if I left mychild naked."

The master's face appeared.

"All right," he said.

The bargain was concluded, the mother spent the night at the inn, paidher money and left her child, fastened up her bag, which was now light,and started the next morning with the intention of returning soon. Suchdepartures are arranged calmly, but they entail despair. A neighbor'swife saw the mother going away, and went home saying,—

"I have just seen a woman crying in the street as if her heart wasbroken."

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

"That money will meet my bill for one hundred and ten francs, whichfalls due to-morrow, and I was fifty francs short. It would have beenprotested, and I should have had a bailiff put in. You set a famousmouse-trap with your young ones."

"Without suspecting it," said the woman.



The captured mouse was very small, but the cat is pleased even witha thin mouse. Who were the Thénardiers? We will say one word aboutthem for the present, and complete the sketch hereafter. These beingsbelonged to the bastard class, composed of coarse parvenus, and ofdegraded people of intellect, which stands between the classes calledthe middle and the lower, and combines some of the faults of the secondwith nearly all the vices of the first, though without possessing thegenerous impulse of the workingman or the honest regularity of thetradesman.

Theirs were those dwarf natures which easily become monstrous when anygloomy fire accidentally warms them. There was in the woman the basisof a witch, in the man the stuff for a beggar. Both were in the highestdegree susceptible of that sort of hideous progress which is made inthe direction of evil. There are crab-like souls which constantlyrecoil toward darkness, retrograde in life rather than advance, employexperience to augment their deformity, incessantly grow worse, and growmore and more covered with an increasing blackness. This man and thiswoman had souls of this sort.

Thénardier was peculiarly troublesome to the physiognomist: there aresome men whom you need only look at to distrust them, for they arerestless behind and threatening in front. There is something of theunknown in them. We can no more answer for what they have done thanfor what they will do. The shadow they have in their glance denouncesthem. Merely by hearing them say a word or seeing them make a gesture,we get a glimpse of dark secrets in their past, dark mysteries intheir future. This Thénardier, could he be believed, had been asoldier—sergeant, he said; he had probably gone through the campaignof 1815, and had even behaved rather bravely, as it seems. We shallsee presently how the matter really stood. The sign of his inn wasan allusion to one of his exploits, and he had painted it himself,for he could do a little of everything—badly. It was the epoch whenthe old classical romance—which after being Clélie, had now becomeLodoiska, and though still noble, was daily growing more vulgar, andhad fallen from Mademoiselle de Scudéri to Madame Bournon Malarme, andfrom Madame de Lafayette to Madame Barthélémy Hadot—was inflamingthe loving soul of the porters' wives in Paris, and even extended itsravages into the suburbs. Madame Thénardier was just intelligent enoughto read books of this nature, and lived on them. She thus drownedany brains she possessed, and, so long as she remained young and alittle beyond, it gave her a sort of pensive attitude by the side ofher husband, who was a scamp of some depth, an almost grammaticalruffian, coarse and delicate at the same time, but who, in matters ofsentimentalism, read Pigault Lebrun, and, in "all that concerned thesex," as he said in his jargon, was a correct and unadulterated booby.His wife was some twelve or fifteen years younger than he, and whenher romantically flowing locks began to grow gray, when the Megæra wasdisengaged from the Pamela, she was only a stout wicked woman, who hadbeen pampered with foolish romances. As such absurdities cannot be readwith impunity, the result was that her eldest daughter was christenedÉponine; as for the younger, the poor girl was all but named Gulnare,and owed it to a fortunate diversion made by a romance of DucrayDuminil's, that she was only christened Azelma.

By the way, all is not ridiculous and superficial in the curious epochto which we are alluding, and which might be called the anarchy ofbaptismal names. By the side of the romantic element, which we havejust pointed out, there was the social symptom. It is not rare atthe present day for a drover's son to be called Arthur, Alfred, orAlphonse, and for the Viscount—if there are any Viscounts left—to becalled Thomas, Pierre, or Jacques. This displacement which gives the"elegant" name to the plebeian, and the rustic name to the aristocrat,is nothing else than an eddy of equality. The irresistible penetrationof the new breeze is visible in this as in everything else. Beneaththis apparent discord there is a grand and deep thing, the FrenchRevolution.



It is not enough to be bad in order to prosper: and the pot-housewas a failure. Thanks to the fifty-seven francs, Thénardier had beenable to avoid a protest, and honor his signature; but the next monththey wanted money again, and his wife took Cosette's outfit to Parisand pledged it for sixty francs. So soon as this sum was spent, theThénardiers grew accustomed to see in the little girl a child they hadtaken in through charity, and treated her accordingly. As she had noclothes, she was dressed in the left-off chemises and petticoats ofthe little Thénardiers, that is to say, in rags. She was fed on theleavings of everybody, a little better than the dog, and a little worsethan the cat. Dog and cat were her usual company at dinner: for Cosetteate with them under the table off a wooden trencher like theirs.

The mother, who had settled, as we shall see hereafter, at M. sur M.,wrote, or, to speak more correctly, had letters written every monthto inquire after her child. The Thénardiers invariably replied thatCosette was getting on famously. When the first six months had passed,the mother sent seven francs for the seventh month, and continued tosend the money punctually month by month. The year had not ended beforeThénardier said, "A fine thing that! what does she expect us to do withseven francs!" and he wrote to demand twelve. The mother, whom theypersuaded that her child was happy and healthy, submitted, and sent thetwelve francs.

Some natures cannot love on one side without hating on the other.Mother Thénardier passionately loved her own two daughters, whichmade her detest the stranger. It is sad to think that a mother's lovecan look so ugly. Though Cosette occupied so little room, it seemedto her as if her children were robbed of it, and that the little onediminished the air her daughters breathed. This woman, like many womenof her class, had a certain amount of caresses and another of blowsand insults to expend daily. If she had not had Cosette, it is certainthat her daughters, though they were idolized, would have receivedthe entire amount; but the strange child did the service of divertingthe blows on herself, while the daughters received only the caresses.Cosette did not make a movement that did not bring down on her head ahailstorm of violent and unmerited chastisem*nt. The poor weak child,unnecessarily punished, scolded, cuffed, and beaten, saw by her sidetwo little creatures like herself who lived in radiant happiness.

As Madame Thénardier was unkind to Cosette, Éponine and Azelma were thesame; for children, at that age, are copies of their mother; the formis smaller, that is all. A year passed, then another, and people saidin the village,—

"Those Thénardiers are worthy people. They are not well off, and yetthey bring up a poor child left on their hands."

Cosette was supposed to be deserted by her mother; Thénardier, however,having learned in some obscure way that the child was probablyillegitimate, and that the mother could not confess it, insisted onfifteen francs a month, saying that the creature was growing andeating, and threatening to send her back. "She must not play the foolwith me," he shouted, "or I'll let her brat fall like a bomb-shell intoher hiding-place. I must have an increase." The mother paid the fifteenfrancs. Year by year the child grew, and so did her wretchedness: solong as Cosette was little, she was the scape-goat of the two otherchildren; so soon as she began to be developed a little, that is tosay, even before she was five years old, she became the servant ofthe house. At five years, the reader will say, that is improbable;but, alas! it is true. Social suffering begins at any age. Have we notrecently seen the trial of a certain Dumollard, an orphan, who turnedbandit, and who from the age of five, as the official documents tellus, was alone in the world and "worked for a living and stole"? Cosettewas made to go on messages, sweep the rooms, the yard, the street, washthe dishes, and even carry heavy bundles. The Thénardiers consideredthemselves the more justified in acting thus, because the mother, whowas still at M. sur M., was beginning to pay badly, and was severalmonths in arrear.

If the mother had returned to Montfermeil at the end of three years,she would not have recognized her child. Cosette, so pretty and ruddyon her arrival in this house, was now thin and sickly. She had a timidlook about her; "It's cunning!" said the Thénardiers. Injustice hadmade her sulky and wretchedness had made her ugly. Nothing was left herbut her fine eyes, which were painful to look at, because, as they wereso large, it seemed as if a greater amount of sadness was visible inthem. It was a heart-rending sight to see this poor child, scarce sixyears of age, shivering in winter under her calico rags, and sweepingthe street before day-break, with an enormous broom in her small redhands and a tear in her large eyes.

The country people called her "the lark;" the lower classes, who arefond of metaphors, had given the name to the poor little creature, whowas no larger than a bird, trembling, frightened, and starting, who wasalways the first awake in the house and the village, and ever in thestreet or the fields by day-break.

There was this difference, however,—this poor lark never sung.





What had become of the mother, who, according to the people ofMontfermeil, appeared to have deserted her child? Where was she; whatwas she doing? After leaving her little Cosette with the Thénardiers,she had continued her journey and arrived at M. sur M. Fantine had beenaway from her province for ten years, and while she had been slowlydescending from misery to misery, her native town had prospered. Abouttwo years before, one of those industrial facts which are the events ofsmall towns had taken place. The details are important, and we think ituseful to develop them; we might almost say, to understand them.

From time immemorial M. sur M. had as a special trade the imitationof English jet and German black beads. This trade had hitherto onlyvegetated, owing to the dearness of the material, which reacted onthe artisan. At the moment when Fantine returned to M. sur M. anextraordinary transformation had taken place in the production of"black articles." Toward the close of 1815, a man, a stranger, hadsettled in the town, and had the idea of substituting in this tradegum lac for rosin, and in bracelets particularly, scraps of bent platefor welded plate. This slight change was a revolution: it prodigiouslyreduced the cost of the material, which, in the first place, allowedthe wages to be raised, a benefit for the town; secondly, improved themanufacture, an advantage for the consumer; and, thirdly, allowed thegoods to be sold cheap, while tripling them the profit, an advantagefor the manufacturer.

In less than three years the inventor of the process had become rich,which is a good thing, and had made all rich about him, which isbetter. He was a stranger in the department; no one knew anythingabout his origin, and but little about his start. It was said that hehad entered the town with but very little money, a few hundred francsat the most; but with this small capital, placed at the service of aningenious idea, and fertilized by regularity and thought, he made hisown fortune and that of the town. On his arrival at M. sur M. he hadthe dress, manners, and language of a workingman. It appears that onthe very December night when he obscurely entered M. sur M. with hisknapsack on his back, and a knotted stick in his hand, a great firebroke out in the Town Hall. This man rushed into the midst of theflames, and at the risk of his life saved two children who happened tobelong to the captain of gendarmes; hence no one dreamed of asking forhis passport. On this occasion his name was learned; he called himselfFather Madeleine.



He was a man of about fifty, with a preoccupied air, and he wasgood-hearted. That was all that could be said of him.

Thanks to the rapid progress of this trade which he had so admirablyremodelled, M. sur M. had become a place of considerable trade.Spain, which consumes an immense amount of jet, gave large ordersfor it annually, and in this trade M. sur M. almost rivalled Londonand Berlin. Father Madeleine's profits were so great, that after thesecond year he was able to build a large factory, in which were twospacious workshops, one for men, the other for women. Any one whowas hungry need only to come, and was sure to find there employmentand bread. Father Madeleine expected from the men good-will, fromthe women purity, and from all probity. He had divided the workshopsin order to separate the sexes, and enable the women and girls toremain virtuous. On this point he was inflexible, and it was the onlyone in which he was at all intolerant. This sternness was the morejustifiable because M. sur M. was a garrison town, and opportunitiesfor corruption abounded. Altogether his arrival had been a benefit,and his presence was a providence. Before Father Madeleine cameeverything was languishing, and now all led the healthy life of work. Apowerful circulation warmed and penetrated everything; stagnation andwretchedness were unknown. There was not a pocket, however obscure,in which there was not a little money, nor a lodging so poor in whichthere was not a little joy.

Father Madeleine employed every one. He only insisted on one thing,—bean honest man, a good girl!

As we have said, in the midst of this activity, of which he was thecause and the pivot, Father Madeleine made his fortune, but, singularlyenough in a plain man of business, this did not appear to be hischief care; he seemed to think a great deal of others and but littleof himself. In 1820, he was known to have a sum of 630,000 francsin Lafitte's bank; but before he put that amount on one side he hadspent more than a million for the town and the poor. The hospital wasbadly endowed, and he added ten beds. M. sur M. is divided into anupper and a lower town; the latter, in which he lived, had only oneschool, a poor tenement falling in ruins, and he built two, one forboys and one for girls. He paid the two teachers double the amount oftheir poor official salary, and to some one who expressed surprise, hesaid, "The first two functionaries of the State are the nurse and theschoolmaster." He had established at his own charges an infant-school,a thing at that time almost unknown in France, and a charitablefund for old and infirm workmen. As his factory was a centre, a newdistrict, in which there was a large number of indigent families,rapidly sprang up around it, and he opened there a free dispensary.

At the beginning, kind souls said, "He is a man who wants to growrich:" when it was seen that he enriched the town before enrichinghimself, the same charitable souls said, "He is ambitious." Thisseemed the more likely because he was religious, and even practisedto a certain extent a course which was admired in those days. He wentregularly to hear Low Mass on Sundays, and the local deputy, whoscented rivalry everywhere, soon became alarmed about this religion.This deputy, who had been a member of the legislative council of theEmpire, shared the religious ideas of a Father of the Oratory, knownby the name of Fouché, Duc d'Otranto, whose creature and friend hehad been. But when he saw the rich manufacturer Madeleine go to seveno'clock Low Mass, he scented a possible candidate, and resolved to gobeyond him; he chose a Jesuit confessor, and went to High Mass andvespers. Ambition at that time was, in the true sense of the term, asteeple-chase. The poor profited by the alarm, for the honorable deputyfounded two beds at the hospital, which made twelve.

In 1819, the report spread one morning through the town that, onthe recommendation of the Prefect, and in consideration of servicesrendered the town, Father Madeleine was about to be nominated by theking, Mayor of M——. Those who had declared the new-comer an ambitiousman, eagerly seized this opportunity to exclaim: "Did we not say so?"All M—— was in an uproar; for the rumor was well founded. A fewdays after, the appointment appeared in the Moniteur, and the nextday Father Madeleine declined the honor. In the same year, the newprocesses worked by him were shown at the Industrial Exhibition; and onthe report of the jury, the King made the inventor a Chevalier of theLegion of Honor. There was a fresh commotion in the little town; "Well,it was the cross he wanted," but Father Madeleine declined the cross.Decidedly the man was an enigma, but charitable souls got out of thedifficulty by saying, "After all, he is a sort of adventurer."

As we have seen, the country owed him much, and the poor owed himeverything; he was so useful that he could not help being honored,and so gentle that people could not help loving him; his work-peopleespecially adored him, and he bore this adoration with a sort ofmelancholy gravity. When he was known to be rich, "people in society"bowed to him, and he was called in the town Monsieur Madeleine; buthis workmen and the children continued to call him Father Madeleine,and this caused him his happiest smile. In proportion as he ascended,invitations showered upon him; and society claimed him as its own. Thelittle formal drawing-rooms, which had of course been at first closedto the artisan, opened their doors wide to the millionnaire. A thousandadvances were made to him, but he refused them. This time againcharitable souls were not thrown out: "He is an ignorant man of pooreducation. No one knows where he comes from. He could not pass musterin society, and it is doubtful whether he can read." When he was seento be earning money, they said, "He is a tradesman;" when he scatteredhis money, they said, "He is ambitious;" when he rejected honor, theysaid, "He is an adventurer;" and when he repulsed society, they said,"He is a brute."

In 1820, five years after his arrival at M., the services he hadrendered the town were so brilliant, the will of the whole country wasso unanimous, that the King again nominated him Mayor of the Town. Herefused again, but the Prefect would not accept his refusal; all thenotables came to beg, the people supplicated him in the open streets,and the pressure was so great, that he eventually assented. It wasnoticed that what appeared specially to determine him was the almostangry remark of an old woman, who cried to him from her door: "A goodMayor is useful; a man should not recoil before the good he may be ableto do." This was the third phase of his ascent; Father Madeleine hadbecome Monsieur Madeleine, and Monsieur Madeleine became Monsieur leMaire.



Father Madeleine remained as simple as he had been on the first day:he had gray hair, a serious eye, the bronzed face of a workingman,and the thoughtful face of a philosopher. He habitually wore abroad-brimmed hat, and a long coat of coarse cloth buttoned up to thechin. He performed his duties as Mayor, but beyond that lived solitary;he spoke to few persons, shunned compliments, smiled to save himselffrom talking, and gave to save himself from smiling. The women said ofhim, "What a good bear!" and his great pleasure was to walk about thefields. He always took his meals with an open book before him, and hehad a well-selected library. He was fond of books, for they are calmand sure friends. In proportion as leisure came with fortune, he seemedto employ it in cultivating his mind: it was noticed that with eachyear he spent in M—— his language became more polite, chosen, andgentle.

He was fond of taking a gun with him on his walks, but rarely fired;when he did so by accident, he had an infallible aim, which was almostterrific. He never killed an inoffensive animal or a small bird. Thoughhe was no longer young, he was said to possess prodigious strength: helent a hand to any one who needed it, raised a fallen horse, put hisshoulder to a wheel stuck in the mud, or stopped a runaway bull by thehorns. His pockets were always full of half-pence when he went out,and empty when he came home; whenever he passed through a village,the ragged children ran merrily after him, and surrounded him like aswarm of gnats. It was supposed that he must have formerly lived arustic life, for he had all sorts of useful secrets which he taught thepeasants. He showed them how to destroy blight in wheat by sprinklingthe granary and pouring into the cracks of the boards a solution ofcommon salt, and to get rid of weevils by hanging up everywhere, on thewalls and roots, flowering orviot. He had recipes to extirpate fromarable land tares and other parasitic plants which injure wheat, andwould defend a rabbit hutch from rats by the mere smell of a littleGuinea pig, which he placed in it.

One day he saw some countrymen very busy in tearing up nettles; helooked at the pile of uprooted and already withered plants and said:"They are dead, and yet they are good if you know how to use them.When nettles are young, the tops are an excellent vegetable. Whenthey are old, they have threads and fibre like hemp and flax. Whenchopped up, nettles are good for fowls; when pounded, excellent forhorned cattle. Nettle-seed mixed with the food renders the coats ofcattle shining, and the root mixed with salt produces a fine yellowcolor. The nettle is also excellent hay, which can be mown twice; andwhat does it require? A little earth, no care, and no cultivation.The only thing is that the seed falls as it ripens, and is difficultto garner. If a little care were taken, the nettle would be useful;but, being neglected, it becomes injurious, and is then killed. Howmen resemble nettles!" He added after a moment's silence: "My friends,remember this,—there are no bad herbs or bad men; there are only badcultivators."

The children also loved him, because he could make them pretty littletoys of straw and cocoa-nut shells. When he saw a church door hung withblack, he went in; he went after a funeral as other persons do aftera christening. The misfortunes of others attracted him, owing to hisgreat gentleness; he mingled with friends in mourning, and with thepriests round a coffin. He seemed to be fond of hearing those mournfulpsalms which are full of the vision of another world. With his eyefixed on heaven, he listened, with a species of aspiration toward allthe mysteries of Infinitude, to the sad voice singing on the brink ofthe obscure abyss of death. He did a number of good actions, while ascareful to hide them as if they were bad. He would quietly at nightenter houses, and furtively ascend the stairs. A poor fellow, onreturning to his garret, would find that his door had been opened, attimes forced, during his absence; the man would cry that a robber hadbeen there, but when he entered, the first thing he saw was a gold coinleft on the table. The robber who had been there was Father Madeleine.

He was affable and sad: people said, "There is a rich man who does notlook proud: a lucky man who does not look happy." Some persons assertedthat he was a mysterious character, and declared that no one everentered his bed-room, which was a real anchorite's cell, furnished withwinged hour-glasses and embellished with cross-bones and death's-heads.This was so often repeated that some elegant and spiteful ladies ofM—— came to him one day, and said, "Monsieur le Maire, do show usyour bed-room, for people say that it is a grotto." He smiled and ledthem straightway to the "grotto;" they were terribly punished for theircuriosity, as it was a bed-room merely containing mahogany furnitureas ugly as all furniture of that sort, and hung with a paper at twelvesous a roll. They could not notice anything but two double-branchedcandlesticks of an antiquated pattern, standing on the mantel-piece,and seeming to be silver, "because they were Hall-marked,"—a remarkfull of the wit of small towns. People did not the less continue torepeat, however, that no one ever entered this bed-room, and thatit was a hermitage, a hole, a tomb. They also whispered that he hadimmense sums lodged with Lafitte, and with this peculiarity that thingswere always at his immediate disposal, "so that," they added, "M.Madeleine could go any morning to Lafitte's, sign a receipt, and carryoff his two or three millions of francs in ten minutes." In reality,these "two or three millions" were reduced, as we have said, to sixhundred and thirty or forty thousand francs.



At the beginning of 1821, the papers announced the decease of M.Myriel, Bishop of D——, "surnamed Monseigneur Welcome," who had diedin the odor of sanctity at the age of eighty-two. The Bishop of D——,to add here a detail omitted by the papers, had been blind for severalyears, and was satisfied to be blind as his sister was by his side.

Let us say parenthetically that to be blind and to be loved is oneof the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness upon this earth,where nothing is perfect. To have continually at your side a wife, asister, a daughter, a charming being, who is there because you haveneed of her, and because she cannot do without you; to know yourselfindispensable to a woman who is necessary to you; to be able constantlyto gauge her affection by the amount of her presence which she givesyou, and to say to yourself: "She devotes all her time to me because Ipossess her entire heart;" to see her thoughts in default of her face;to prove the fidelity of a being in the eclipse of the world; to catchthe rustling of a dress like the sound of wings; to hear her come andgo, leave the room, return, talk, sing, and then to dream that youare the centre of those steps, those words, those songs; to manifestat every moment your own attraction, and feel yourself powerful inproportion to your weakness; to become in darkness and through darknessthe planet round which this angel gravitates,—but few felicities equalthis. The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being lovedfor yourself, or, more correctly speaking, loved in spite of yourself;and this conviction the blind man has. In this distress to be served isto be caressed. Does he want for anything? No. When you possess love,you have not lost the light. And what a love! a love entirely made ofvirtues. There is no blindness where there is certainty: the gropingsoul seeks a soul and finds it, and this found and tried soul is awoman. A hand supports you, it is hers; a mouth touches your forehead,it is hers; you hear a breathing close to you, it is she.

To have everything she has, from her worship to her pity, to be neverleft, to have this gentle weakness to succor you, to lean on thisunbending reed, to touch providence with her hands, and be able totake her in your arms: oh! what heavenly rapture is this! The heart,that obscure celestial flower, begins to expand mysteriously, and youwould not exchange this shadow for all the light! The angel soul isthus necessarily there; if she go away, it is to return; she disappearslike a dream, and reappears like reality. You feel heat approachingyou, it is she. You overflow with serenity, ecstasy, and gayety; youare a sunbeam in the night. And then the thousand little attentions,the nothings which are so enormous in this vacuum! The most ineffableaccents of the human voice employed to lull you, and taking the placeof the vanished universe. You are caressed with the soul: you seenothing, but you feel yourself adored; it is a paradise of darkness.

It was from this paradise that Monseigneur Welcome had passed to theother. The announcement of his death was copied by the local paperof M——, and on the next day Monsieur Madeleine appeared dressedin black, with crape on his hat. The mourning was noticed in thetown, and people gossiped about it, for it seemed to throw a gleam,over M. Madeleine's origin. It was concluded that he was somehowconnected with the Bishop. "He is in mourning for the Bishop," wassaid in drawing-rooms; this added inches to M. Madeleine's stature,and suddenly gave him a certain consideration in the noble world ofM——. The microscopic Faubourg St. Germain of the town thought aboutputting an end to the Coventry of M. Madeleine, the probable relationof a bishop, and M. Madeleine remarked the promotion he had obtained inthe increased love of the old ladies, and the greater amount of smilesfrom the young. One evening a lady belonging to this little greatworld, curious by right of seniority, ventured to say, "M. le Maire isdoubtless a cousin of the late Bishop of D——?"

He answered, "No, Madame."

"But," the dowager went on, "you wear mourning for him."

"In my youth I was a footman in his family," was the answer.

Another thing noticed was, that when a young Savoyard passed throughthe town, looking for chimneys to sweep, the Mayor sent for him, askedhis name, and gave him money. The Savoyard boys told each other ofthis, and a great many passed through M——.



By degrees and with time all the opposition died out; at first therehad been calumnies against M. Madeleine,—a species of law which allrising men undergo; then it was only backbiting; then it was onlymalice; and eventually all this faded away. The respect felt for himwas complete, unanimous, and cordial, and the moment arrived in 1821when the name of the Mayor was uttered at M—— with nearly the sameaccent as "Monseigneur the Bishop" had been said at D—— in 1815.People came for ten leagues round to consult M. Madeleine; he settleddisputes, prevented lawsuits, and reconciled enemies. Everybody waswilling to accept him as arbiter, and it seemed as if he had the bookof natural law for his soul. It was a sort of contagious veneration,which in six or seven years spread all over the country-side.

Only one man in the town and bailiwick resisted this contagion, andwhatever M. Madeleine might do, remained rebellious to it, as if a sortof incorruptible and imperturbable instinct kept him on his guard.It would appear, in fact, as if there is in certain men a veritablebestial instinct, though pure and honest as all instincts are, whichcreates sympathies and antipathies; which fatally separates one naturefrom another; which never hesitates; which is not troubled, is neversilent, and never contradicts itself; which is clear in its obscurity,infallible, imperious; refractory to all the counsels of intelligenceand all the solvents of the reason, and which, whatever the way inwhich destinies are made, surely warns the man-dog of the man-cat,and the man-fox of the presence of the man-lion. It often happenedwhen M. Madeleine passed along a street, calmly, kindly, and greetedby the blessings of all, that a tall man, dressed in an iron-graygreat-coat, armed with a thick cane, and wearing a hat with turned-downbrim, turned suddenly and looked after him till he disappeared;folding his arms, shaking his head, and raising his upper lip with thelower as high as his nose, a sort of significant grimace, which maybe translated,—"Who is that man? I am certain that I have seen himsomewhere. At any rate, I am not his dupe."

This person, who was grave, with an almost menacing gravity, was oneof those men who, though only noticed for a moment, preoccupy theobserver. His name was Javert, and he belonged to the police, andperformed at M—— the laborious but useful duties of an inspector. Hehad not seen Madeleine's beginning, for he was indebted for the posthe occupied to the Secretary of Count Angle, at that time Prefect ofPolice at Paris. When Javert arrived at M——, the great manufacturer'sfortune was made, and Father Madeleine had become Monsieur Madeleine.Some police officers have a peculiar face, which is complicated by anair of baseness, blended with an air of authority. Javert had thisface, less the baseness. In our conviction, if souls were visible,we should distinctly see the strange fact that every individual ofthe human species corresponds to some one of the species of animalcreation; and we might occurred to the thinker, that, from the oysterto the eagle, from the hog to the tiger, all animals are in man, andthat each of them is in a man; at times several of them at once.Animals are nothing else than the figures of our virtues and our vices,wandering before our eyes, the visible phantoms of our souls. God showsthese to us in order to make us reflect; but, as animals are onlyshadows, God has not made them capable of education in the completesense of the term, for of what use would it be? On the other hand, oursouls being realities and having an end of their own, God has endowedthem with intelligence; that is to say, possible education. Socialeducation, properly carried out, can always draw out of a soul, nomatter its nature, the utility which it contains.

Now, if the reader will admit with me for a moment that in every manthere is one of the animal species of creation, it will be easy forus to say what Javert the policeman was. The Asturian peasants areconvinced that in every litter of wolves there is a dog which is killedby the mother, for, otherwise, when it grew it would devour the otherwhelps. Give a human face to this dog-son of a she-wolf, and we shallhave Javert. He was born in prison; his mother was a fortune-teller,whose husband was at the galleys. When he grew up he thought that hewas beyond the pale of society, and despaired of ever entering it. Henoticed that society inexorably keeps at bay two classes of men,—thosewho attack it, and those who guard it; he had only a choice betweenthese two classes, and at the same time felt within him a rigidness,regularity, and probity, combined with an inexpressible hatred of therace of Bohemians to which he belonged. He entered the police, got on,and at the age of forty was an inspector. In his youth he was engagedin the Southern Bagnes.

Before going further, let us explain the words "human face" which weapplied just now to Javert. His human face consisted of a stub-nose,with two enormous nostrils, toward which enormous whiskers mounted onhis cheeks. You felt uncomfortable the first time that you saw thesetwo forests and these two caverns. When Javert laughed, which was rareand terrible, his thin lips parted, and displayed, not only his teeth,but his gums, and a savage flat curl formed round his nose, such as isseen on the muzzle of a wild beast. Javert when serious was a bull-dog;when he laughed he was a tiger. To sum up, he had but little skulland plenty of jaw; his hair hid his forehead and fell over his brows;he had between his eyes a central and permanent frown, like a star ofanger, an obscure glance, a pinched-up and formidable mouth, and an airof ferocious command.

This man was made up of two very simple and relatively excellentfeelings, but which he almost rendered bad by exaggeratingthem,—respect for authority and hatred of rebellion; and in hiseyes, robbery, murder, and every crime were only forms of rebellion.He enveloped in a species of blind faith everybody in the serviceof the State, from the Prime Minister down to the game-keeper. Hecovered with contempt, aversion, and disgust, every one who had oncecrossed the legal threshold of evil. He was absolute, and admittedof no exceptions; on one side he said: "A functionary cannot bemistaken, a magistrate can do no wrong;" on the other he said: "Theyare irremediably lost: no good can come of them." He fully shared theopinion of those extreme minds that attribute to the human law somepower of making or verifying demons, and that place a Styx at thebottom of society. He was stoical, stern, and austere; a sad dreamer,and humble yet haughty, like all fanatics. His glance was a gimlet,for it was cold and piercing. His whole life was composed in the twowords, watching and overlooking. He had introduced the straight lineinto what is the most tortuous thing in the world; he was conscious ofhis usefulness, had religious respect for his duties, and was a spyas well as another is a priest. Woe to the wretch who came into hisclutches! he would have arrested his father if escaping from prison,and denounced his mother had she broken her ban. And he would havedone it with that sort of inner satisfaction which virtue produces.With all this he spent a life of privation, isolation, self-denial,chastity. He was the implacable duty, the police comprehended as theSpartans comprehended Sparta, a pitiless watchman, a savage integrity,a marble-hearted spy, a Brutus contained in a Vidocq.

Javert's entire person expressed the man who spies and hides himself.The mystic school of Joseph de Maîstre, which at this epoch wasseasoning with high cosmogony what were called the ultra journals,would not have failed to say that Javert was a symbol. His foreheadcould not be seen, for it was hidden by his hat; his eyes could notbe seen, because they were lost under his eye-brows; his chin wasplunged into his cravat, his hands were covered by his cuffs, and hiscane was carried under his coat. But when the opportunity arrived,there could be seen suddenly emerging from all this shadow, as from anambush, an angular, narrow forehead, a fatal glance, a menacing chin,enormous hands, and a monstrous rattan. In his leisure moments, whichwere few, he read, though he hated books, and this caused him not tobe utterly ignorant, as could be noticed through a certain emphasisin his language. As we have said, he had no vice; when satisfied withhimself, he indulged in a pinch of snuff, and that was his connectinglink with humanity. Our readers will readily understand that Javert wasthe terror of all that class whom the yearly statistics of the ministerof justice designate under the rubric—vagabonds. The name of Javert,if uttered, set them to flight; the face of Javert, if seen, petrifiedthem. Such was this formidable man.

Javert was like an eye ever fixed on M. Madeleine, an eye fall ofsuspicion and conjectures. M. Madeleine noticed it in the end; but heconsidered it a matter of insignificance. He did not even ask Javerthis motive, he neither sought nor shunned him, and endured his annoyingglance without appearing to notice it. He treated Javert like every oneelse, easily and kindly. From some remarks that dropped from Javert, itwas supposed that he had secretly sought, with that curiosity belongingto the breed, and in which there is as much instinct as will, all theprevious traces which Father Madeleine might have left. He appeared toknow, and sometimes said covertly, that some one had obtained certaininformation in a certain district about a certain family which haddisappeared. Once he happened to say, talking to himself, "I believethat I have got him;" then he remained thoughtful for three dayswithout saying a word. It seems that the thread which he fancied heheld was broken. However, there cannot be any theory really infalliblein a human creature, and it is the peculiarity of instinct that itcan be troubled, thrown out, and routed. If not, it would be superiorto intelligence, and the brute would have a better light than man.Javert was evidently somewhat disconcerted by M. Madeleine's completenaturalness and calmness. One day, however, his strange manner seemedto produce an impression on M. Madeleine. The occasion was as follows.



When M. Madeleine was passing one morning through an unpaved lanein the town, he heard a noise and saw a group at some distance, towhich he walked up. An old man, known as Father Fauchelevent, hadfallen under his cart, and his horse was lying on the ground. ThisFauchelevent was one of the few enemies M. Madeleine still had at thistime. When Madeleine came to these parts, Fauchelevent, a tolerablywell-educated peasant, was doing badly in business; and he saw thesimple workman grow rich, while he, a master, was being ruined. Thisfilled him with jealousy, and he had done all in his power, on everypossible occasion, to injure Madeleine. Then bankruptcy came, and inhis old days, having only a horse and cart left, and no family, heturned carter to earn a living.

The horse had both legs broken and could not get up, while the old manwas entangled between the wheels. The fall had been so unfortunate,that the whole weight of the cart was pressing on his chest, andit was heavily loaded. Fauchelevent uttered lamentable groans, andattempts had been made, though in vain, to draw him out; any irregulareffort, any clumsy help or shock, might kill him. It was impossible toextricate him except by raising the cart from below, and Javert, whocame up at the moment of the accident, had sent to fetch a jack. WhenM. Madeleine approached, the mob made way respectfully.

"Help!" old Fauchelevent cried; "is there no good soul who will save anold man?"

M. Madeleine turned to the spectators.

"Have you a jack?"

"They have gone to fetch one," a peasant answered.

"How soon will it be here?"

"Well, the nearest is at Flachot the blacksmith's, but it cannot bebrought here under a good quarter of an hour."

"A quarter of an hour!" Madeleine exclaimed.

It had rained on the previous night, the ground was soft, the cart sunkdeeper into it every moment, and more and more pressed the old man'schest. It was evident that his ribs would be broken within five minutes.

"It is impossible to wait a quarter of an hour," said M. Madeleine tothe peasants who were looking on.

"We must."

"But do you not see that the cart is sinking into the ground?"

"Hang it! so it is."

"Listen to me," Madeleine continued; "there is still room enough fora man to slip under the cart and raise it with his back. It will onlytake half a minute, and the poor man can be drawn out. Is there any onehere who has strong loins? There are five louis to be earned."

No one stirred.

"Ten louis," Madeleine said.

His hearers looked down, and one of them muttered, "A man would have tobe deucedly strong, and, besides, he would run a risk of being smashed."

"Come," Madeleine began again, "twenty louis." The same silence.

"It is not the good-will they are deficient in," a voice cried.

M. Madeleine turned and recognized Javert: he had noticed him when hecame up. Javert continued,—

"It is the strength. A man would have to be tremendously strong to lifta cart like that with his back."

Then, looking fixedly at M. Madeleine, he continued, laying a markedstress on every word he uttered,—

"Monsieur Madeleine, I never knew but one man capable of doing whatyou ask."

Madeleine started, but Javert continued carelessly, though withouttaking his eyes off Madeleine,—

"He was a galley-slave."

"Indeed!" said Madeleine.

"At the Toulon Bagne."

Madeleine turned pale; all this while the cart was slowly settlingdown, and Father Fauchelevent was screaming,—

"I am choking: it is breaking my ribs: a jack! something—oh!"

Madeleine looked around him.

"Is there no one here willing to earn twenty louis and save this poorold man's life?"

No one stirred, and Javert repeated,—

"I never knew but one man capable of acting as a jack, and it was thatconvict."

"Oh, it is crushing me!" the old man yelled.

Madeleine raised his head, met Javert's falcon eye still fixed on him,gazed at the peasants, and sighed sorrowfully. Then, without sayinga word, he fell on his knees, and, ere the crowd had time to utter acry, was under the cart. There was a frightful moment of expectationand silence. Madeleine almost lying flat under the tremendous weight,twice tried in vain to bring his elbows up to his knees. The peasantsshouted: "Father Madeleine, come out!" And old Fauchelevent himselfsaid: "Monsieur Madeleine, go away! I must die, so leave me; you willbe killed too."

Madeleine made no answer; the spectators gasped; the wheels had sunkdeeper, and it was now almost impossible for him to get out from underthe cart. All at once the enormous mass shook, the cart slowly rose,and the wheels half emerged from the rut. A stifled voice could beheard crying, "Make haste, help!" It was Madeleine, who had made a lasteffort. They rushed forward, for the devotion of one man had restoredstrength and courage to all. The cart was lifted by twenty arms, andold Fauchelevent was saved. Madeleine rose; he was livid, althoughdripping with perspiration: his clothes were torn and covered withmud. The old man kissed his knees, and called him his savior, whileMadeleine had on his face a strange expression of happy and celestialsuffering, and turned his placid eye on Javert, who was still lookingat him.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (4)




Fauchelevent had put out his knee-cap in his fall, and Father Madeleinehad him carried to an infirmary he had established for his workmenin his factory, and which was managed by two sisters of charity. Thenext morning the old man found a thousand-franc note by his bed-side,with a line in M. Madeleine's handwriting, "Payment for your cart andhorse, which I have bought:" the cart was smashed and the horse dead.Fauchelevent recovered, but his leg remained stiff, and, hence M.Madeleine, by the recommendation of the sisters and his curé, procuredhim a situation as gardener at a convent in the St. Antoine quarter ofParis.

Some time after, M. Madeleine was appointed Mayor; the first timeJavert saw him wearing the scarf which gave him all authority in thetown, he felt that sort of excitement a dog would feel that scented awolf in its master's clothes. From this moment he avoided him as muchas he could, and when duty imperiously compelled him, and he couldnot do otherwise than appear before the Mayor, he addressed him withprofound respect.

The prosperity created in M—— by Father Madeleine had, in additionto the visible signs we have indicated, another symptom, which, thoughnot visible, was not the less significant, for it is one that neverdeceives: when the population is suffering, when work is scarce andtrade bad, tax-payers exhaust and exceed the time granted them, andthe State spends a good deal of money in enforcing payment. Whenwork abounds, when the country is happy and rich, the taxes are paidcheerfully, and cost the State little. We may say that wretchednessand the public exchequer have an infallible thermometer in the costof collecting the taxes. In seven years these costs had been reducedthree-fourths in the arrondissem*nt of M——, which caused it to befrequently quoted by M. de Villele, at that time Minister of Finances.

Such was the state of the town when Fantine returned to it. No oneremembered her, but luckily the door of M. Madeleine's factory was likea friendly face; she presented herself at it, and was admitted to thefemale shop. As the trade was quite new to Fantine, she was awkward atit and earned but small wages; but that was enough, for she had solvedthe problem,—she was earning her livelihood.



When Fantine saw that she could earn her own living, she had a momentof joy. To live honestly by her own toil, what a favor of Heaven! Ataste for work really came back to her: she bought a looking-glass,delighted in seeing in it her youth, her fine hair and fine teeth;forgot many things, only thought of Cosette, and her possible future,and was almost happy. She hired a small room and furnished it, oncredit, to be paid for out of her future earnings,—this was a relic ofher irregular habits.

Not being able to say that she was married, she was very careful notto drop a word about her child. At the outset, as we have seen, shepunctually paid the Thénardiers; and as she could only sign her name,she was compelled to write to them through the agency of a publicwriter. It was noticed that she wrote frequently. It was beginningto be whispered in the shop that Fantine "wrote letters," and was"carrying on."

No one spies the actions of persons so much as those whom they do notconcern. Why does this gentleman never come till nightfall? Why doesSo-and-So never hang up his key on Thursdays? Why does he always takeback streets? Why does Madame always get out of her hackney coachbefore reaching her house? Why does she send out to buy a quire ofnote-paper, when she has a desk full? and so on. There are peoplewho, in order to solve these inquiries, which are matters of utterindifference to them, spend more money, lavish more time, and takemore trouble, than would be required for ten good deeds: and they doit gratuitously for the pleasure, and they are only paid for theircuriosity with curiosity. They will follow a gentleman or a ladyfor whole days, will stand sentry at the corner of a street or in agateway at night in the cold and rain; corrupt messengers, intoxicatehackney coachmen and footmen, buy a lady's-maid, and make a purchaseof a porter,—why? For nothing; for a pure desire to see, know, andfind out—it is a simple itch for talking. And frequently thesesecrets, when made known, these mysteries published, these enigmasbrought to daylight, entail catastrophes, duels, bankruptcies, ruinof families, to the great delight of those who found it all out,without any personal motives, through pure instinct. It is a sadthing. Some persons are wicked solely through a desire to talk, andthis conversation, which is gossip in the drawing-room, scandal in theante-room, is like those chimneys which consume wood rapidly; theyrequire a great deal of combustible, and this combustible is theirneighbor.

Fantine was observed then, and besides, more than one girl was jealousof her light hair and white teeth. It was noticed that she often wipedaway a tear in the shop; it was when she was thinking of her child,perhaps of the man she had loved. It is a painful labor to break offall the gloomy connecting links with the past. It was a fact thatshe wrote, at least twice a month, and always to the same address,and paid the postage. They managed to obtain the address: "MonsieurThénardier, Publican, Montfermeil." The public writer, who could notfill his stomach with wine without emptying his pocket of secrets, wasmade to talk at the wine-shop; and, in short, it was known that Fantinehad a child. A gossip undertook a journey to Montfermeil, spoke tothe Thénardiers, and on her return said, "I do not begrudge my thirtyfrancs, for I have seen the child."

The gossip who did this was a Gorgon of the name of Madame Victurnien,guardian and portress of everybody's virtue. She was fifty-six yearsof age, and covered the mask of ugliness with the mask of old age.Astounding to say, this old woman had once been young; in her youth,in '93, she had married a monk, who escaped from the cloisters in ared cap, and passed over from the Bernardines to the Jacobins. She wasdry, crabbed, sharp, thorny, and almost venomous, while rememberingthe monk whose widow she was and who had considerably tamed her. Atthe Restoration she had turned bigot, and so energetically, that thepriests forgave her her monk. She had a small estate which she leftwith considerable pallor to a religious community, and she was verywelcome at the Episcopal Palace of Arras. This Madame Victurnien, then,went to Montfermeil, and when she returned, said, "I have seen thechild."

All this took time, and Fantine had been more than a year at thefactory, when one morning the forewoman handed her 50 francs in theMayor's name, and told her that she was no longer engaged, and hadbetter leave the town, so the Mayor said. It was in this very monththat the Thénardiers, after asking for 12 francs instead of 7, raised aclaim for 15 instead of 12. Fantine was startled; she could not leavethe town, for she owed her rent and for her furniture, and 50 francswould not pay those debts. She stammered a few words of entreaty, butthe forewoman intimated to her that she must leave the shop at once;moreover, Fantine was but an indifferent workwoman. Crushed by shamemore than disgrace, she left the factory, and returned to her room: herfault then was now known to all! She did not feel the strength in herto say a word; she was advised to see the Mayor, but did not dare doso. The Mayor gave her 50 francs because he was kind, and dischargedher because he was just; and she bowed her head to the sentence.



The monk's widow, then, was good for something. M. Madeleine, however,knew nothing of all this; and they were combinations of events of whichthe world is fall. M. Madeleine made it a rule hardly, ever to enterthe female work-room; he had placed at its head an old maid, whom thecuré had given him, and he had entire confidence in her. She was reallya respectable, firm, equitable, and just person, fall of that charitywhich consists in giving, but not possessing to the same extent thecharity which comprehends and pardons. M. Madeleine trusted to herin everything, for the best men are often forced to delegate theirauthority, and it was with this fall power, and in the conviction shewas acting rightly, that the forewoman tried, condemned, and executedFantine. As for the 50 francs, she had given them out of a sum M.Madeleine had given her for alms and helping the workwomen, and whichshe did not account for.

Fantine tried to get a servant's place in the town, and went fromhouse to house, but no one would have anything to do with her. Shecould not leave the town, for the broker to whom she was in debt forher furniture—what furniture!—said to her, "If you go away, I willhave you arrested as a thief." The landlord to whom she owed her rent,said to her, "You are young and pretty, you can pay." She dividedthe 50 francs between the landlord and the broker, gave back to thelatter three-fourths of the goods, only retaining what was absolutelynecessary, and found herself without work, without a trade, withonly a bed, and still owing about 100 francs. She set to work makingcoarse shirts for the troops, and earned at this sixpence a day, herdaughter costing her fourpence. It was at this moment she began to fallin arrears with the Thénardiers. An old woman, however, who lit hercandle for her when she came in at nights, taught her the way to livein wretchedness. Behind living on little, there is living on nothing:there are two chambers,—the first is obscure, the second quite dark.

Fantine learned how she could do entirely without fire in winter,how she must get rid of a bird that cost her a halfpenny every twodays, how she could make a petticoat of her blanket and a blanket ofher petticoat, and how candle can be saved by taking your meals bythe light of the window opposite. We do not know all that certainweak beings, who have grown old in want and honesty, can get out of ahalfpenny, and in the end it becomes a talent. Fantine acquired thissublime talent, and regained a little courage. At this period she saidto a neighbor, "Nonsense, I say to myself; by only sleeping for fivehours and working all the others at my needle, I shall always manageto earn bread, at any rate. And then, when you are sad, you eat less.Well! suffering, anxiety, a little bread on one side and sorrow on theother, all will support me."

In this distress, it would have been a strange happiness to have hadher daughter with her, and she thought of sending for her. But, what!make her share her poverty? And then she owed money to the Thénardiers!how was she to pay it and the travelling expenses? The old woman whohad given her lessons in what may be called indigent life, was a piouscreature, poor, and charitable to the poor and even to the rich, whocould just write her name, "Marguerite," and believed in God, which isknowledge. There are many such virtues down here, and one day they willbe up above, for this life has a morrow.

At the beginning Fantine had been so ashamed that she did not dare goout. When she was in the streets, she perceived that people turnedround to look at her and pointed to her. Every one stared at her, andno one bowed to her; the cold bitter contempt of the passers-by passedthrough her flesh and her mind like an east wind. In small towns anunhappy girl seems to be naked beneath the sarcasm and curiosity ofall. In Paris, at least no one knows you, and that obscurity is agarment. Oh! how glad she would have been to be back in Paris. She mustgrow accustomed to disrespect, as she had done to poverty. Graduallyshe made up her mind, and after two or three months shook off hershame, and went as if nothing had occurred. "It is no matter to me,"she said. She came and went, with head erect and with a bitter smile,and felt that she was growing impudent. Madame Victurnien sometimes sawher pass from her window; she noticed the distress of "the creaturewhom she had made know her place," and congratulated herself. Thewicked have a black happiness. Excessive labor fatigued Fantine, andthe little dry cough she had grew worse. She sometimes said to herneighbor, "Marguerite, just feel how hot my hands are!" Still, in themorning, when she passed an old broken comb through her glorious hair,which shone like floss silk, she had a minute of happy coquettishness.



She had been discharged toward the end of winter; the next summerpassed away, and winter returned. Short days and less work; in winterthere is no warmth, no light, no mid-day, for the evening is joinedto the morning; there is fog, twilight, the window is gray, and youcannot see clearly. The sky is like a dark vault, and the sun has thelook of a poor man. It is a frightful season; winter changes into stonethe water of heaven and the heart of man. Her creditors pressed her,for Fantine was earning too little, and her debts had increased. TheThénardiers, being irregularly paid, constantly wrote her letters,whose contents afflicted her, and postage ruined her. One day theywrote her that little Cosette was quite naked, that she wanted aflannel skirt, and that the mother must send at least ten francs forthe purpose. She crumpled the letter in her hands all day, and atnightfall went to a barber's at the corner of the street, and removedher comb. Her splendid light hair fell down to her hips.

"What fine hair!" the barber exclaimed.

"What will you give me for it?" she asked.

"Ten francs."

"Cut it off."

She bought a skirt and sent to the Thénardiers; it made them furious,for they wanted the money. They gave it to Éponine, and the poor larkcontinued to shiver. Fantine thought, "My child is no longer cold, forI have dressed her in my hair." She wore small round caps which hid hershorn head, and she still looked pretty in them.

A dark change took place in Fantine's heart. When she found that shecould no longer dress her hair, she began to hate all around her. Shehad long shared the universal veneration for Father Madeleine: but,through the constant iteration that he had discharged her and was thecause of her misfortune, she grew to hate him too, and worse than therest. When she passed the factory she pretended to laugh and sing. Anold workwoman who once saw her doing so, said, "That's a girl who willcome to a bad end." She took a lover, the first who offered, a man shedid not love, through bravado and with rage in her heart. He was ascoundrel, a sort of mendicant musician, an idle scamp, who beat her,and left her, as she had chosen him, in disgust. She adored her child.The lower she sank, the darker the gloom became around her, the moredid this sweet little angel gleam in her soul. She said: "When I amrich, I shall have my Cosette with me;" and she laughed. She did notget rid of her cough, and she felt a cold perspiration in her back.One day she received from the Thénardiers a letter to the followingeffect: "Cosette is ill with a complaint which is very prevalent in thecountry. It is called miliary fever. She must have expensive drugs, andthat ruins us, and we cannot pay for them any longer. If you do notsend us forty francs within a week, the little one will be dead." Sheburst into a loud laugh, and said to her old neighbor, "Oh, what funnypeople! they want forty francs; where do they expect me to get them?What fools those peasants are!" Still, she went to a staircase windowand read the letter again; then she went out into the street, stilllaughing and singing. Some one who met her said, "What has made you somerry?" and she answered, "It is a piece of stupidity some country folkhave written; they want forty francs of me—the asses."

As she passed across the market-place she saw a crowd surroundinga vehicle of a strange shape, on the box of which a man dressed inred was haranguing. He was a dentist going his rounds, who offeredthe public complete sets of teeth, opiates, powders, and elixirs.Fantine joined the crowd and began laughing like the rest at thisharangue, in which there was slang for the mob, and scientific jargonfor respectable persons. The extractor of teeth saw the pretty girllaughing, and suddenly exclaimed,—

"You have fine teeth, my laughing beauty. If you like to sell me yourtwo top front teeth, I will give you a napoleon apiece for them."

"What a horrible idea!" Fantine exclaimed.

"Two napoleons!" an old toothless woman by her side grumbled; "there'sa lucky girl."

Fantine ran away and stopped her ears not to hear the hoarse voice ofthe man, who shouted,—

"Think it over, my dear: two napoleons may be useful. If your heartsays Yes, come to-night to the Tillac d'Argent, where you will findme."

Fantine, when she reached home, was furious, and told her good neighborMarguerite what had happened. "Can you understand it? Is he not anabominable man? How can people like that be allowed to go about thecountry? Pull out my two front teeth! Why, I should look horrible; hairgrows again, but teeth! oh, the monster! I would sooner throw myselfhead first out of a fifth-floor window on to the pavement."

"And what did he offer you?" Marguerite asked.

"Two napoleons."

"That makes forty francs."

"Yes," said Fantine, "that makes forty francs."

She became thoughtful and sat down to her work. At the end of a quarterof an hour, she left the room and read Thénardier's letter again on thestaircase. When she returned, she said to Marguerite,—

"Do you know what a miliary fever is?"

"Yes," said the old woman, "it is an illness."

"Does it require much medicine?"

"Oh, an awful lot!"

"Does it attack children?"

"More than anybody."

"Do they die of it?"

"Plenty," said Marguerite.

Fantine went out and read the letter once again on the staircase. Atnight she went out, and could be seen proceeding in the direction ofthe Rue de Paris, where the inns are. The next morning, when Margueriteentered Fantine's room before day-break, for they worked together,and they made one candle do for them both, she found her sitting onher bed, pale and chill. Her cap had fallen on her knees, and thecandle had been burning all night, and was nearly consumed. Margueritestopped in the doorway, horrified by this enormous extravagance, andexclaimed,—

"Oh, Lord! the candle nearly burnt out! something must have happened."

Then she looked at Fantine, who turned her close-shaven head towardsher, and seemed to have grown ten years older since the previous day.

"Gracious Heaven!" said Marguerite, "what is the matter with you,Fantine?"

"Nothing," the girl answered; "I am all right. My child will not die ofthat frightful disease for want of assistance, and I am satisfied."

As she said this, she pointed to two napoleons that glistened on thetable.

"Oh, Lord!" said Marguerite; "why,'t is a fortune; where ever did youget them from?"

"I had them by me," Fantine answered.

At the same time she smiled, the candle lit up her face, and it was afearful smile. A reddish saliva stained the corner of her lips, andshe had a black hole in her mouth; the two teeth were pulled out. Shesent the forty francs to Montfermeil. It had only been a trick of theThénardiers to get money, for Cosette was not ill.

Fantine threw her looking-glass out of the window; she had long beforeleft her cell on the second floor for a garret under the roof,—one ofthose tenements in which the ceiling forms an angle with the floor,and you knock your head at every step. The poor man can only go to theend of his room, as to the end of his destiny, by stooping more andmore. She had no bed left; she had only a rag she called a blanket,a mattress on the ground, and a bottomless chair; a little rose-treeshe had had withered away, forgotten in a corner. In another cornershe had a pail to hold water, which froze in winter, and in whichthe different levels of the water remained marked for a long time byrings of ice. She had lost her shame, and now lost her coquetry; thelast sign was, that she went out with dirty caps. Either through wantof time or carelessness, she no longer mended her linen, and as theheels of her stockings wore out, she tucked them into her shoes. Shemended her worn-out gown with rags of calico, which tore away at theslightest movement. The people to whom she owed money made "scenes,"and allowed her no rest; she met them in the street, she met them againon the stairs. Her eyes were very bright, and she felt a settled painat the top of her left shoulder-blade, while she coughed frequently.She deeply hated Father Madeleine, and sewed for seventeen hours a day;but a speculator hired all the female prisoners, and reduced the pricesof the free workmen to nine sous a day. Seventeen hours' work for ninesous! Her creditors were more pitiless than ever, and the broker, whohad got back nearly all her furniture, incessantly said to her, "Whenare you going to pay me, you cheat?" What did they want of her, goodHeavens! She felt herself tracked, and something of the wild beast wasaroused in her. About the same time Thénardier wrote to her, that hehad decidedly waited too patiently, and that unless he received onehundred francs at once, he would turn poor Cosette, who had scarcerecovered, out of doors into the cold, and she must do what she couldor die. "One hundred francs!" Fantine thought; "but where is the tradein which I can earn one hundred sous a day? Well! I will sell all thatis left!"

And the unfortunate girl went on the streets.



What is this story of Fantine? It is society buying a slave.

Of whom? Of misery, of hunger, of cold, of loneliness, of desertion,of destitution. Cursed bargain! A soul for a morsel of bread. Miseryoffers its wares, and society accepts.

The holy law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but it does notyet pervade it. They say that slavery has disappeared from Europeancivilization. That's a mistake. It still exists; but it weighs now onlyon woman, and its name is prostitution.

It weighs on woman; that is, on grace, on helplessness, on beauty, onmotherhood. This is not one of the least reproaches upon man.

At the point which we have reached in this painful drama, there isnothing left in Fantine of her former self. She became marble whenshe became mud. Whoever touches her is chilled. She is handed along,she submits to you, but she forgets your presence. She is the type ofdishonor and rigidity. Life and social order have said to her theirlast word. Everything that can happen to her, has already happened. Shehas felt all, borne all, endured all, suffered all, lost all, wept forall. She is resigned with a resignation which is as like indifferenceas death is like sleep. She shuns nothing now. She fears nothing now.Let the whole sky fall on her, let the whole ocean pass over her! Whatdoes she care? She is a sponge soaked full.

At least she thinks so; but it is never safe to think that you havedrained the cup of misfortune, or that you have reached the end ofanything.

Alas! what are all these destinies driven along thus helter-skelter?Where are they going? Why are they what they are?

He who knows this sees the whole shadow. He is one alone. His name isGod.



There is in all small towns, and there was at M—— in particular, aclass of young men, who squander fifteen hundred francs a year in theprovinces with the same air as those of the same set in Paris devourtwo hundred thousand. They are beings of the great neutral species;geldings, parasites, nobodies, who possess a little land, a littlefolly, and a little wit, who would be rustics in a drawing-room, andbelieve themselves gentlemen in a pot-house. They talk about my fields,my woods, my peasants, horses, the actresses, to prove themselvesmen of taste; quarrel with the officers, to prove themselves men ofwar; shoot, smoke, yawn, drink, smell of tobacco, play at billiards,watch the travellers get out of the stage-coach, live at the café,dine at the inn, have a dog that gnaws bones under the table, and amistress who places the dishes upon it; haggle over a son, exaggeratethe fashions, admire tragedy, despise women, wear out their old boots,copy London through Paris, and Paris through Pont-à-Mousson; growstupidly old, do not work, are of no use, and do no great harm. Had M.Félix Tholomyès remained in his province and not seen Paris, he wouldhave been one of them. If they were richer, people would say they aredandies; if poorer, they are loafers; but they are simply men withoutoccupation. Among them there are bores and bored, dreamers, and a fewscamps.

At that day, a dandy was composed of a tall collar, a large cravat,a watch and seals, three waist-coats over one another, blue and redinside, a short-waisted olive-colored coat, with a swallow tail, and adouble row of silver buttons, sewn on close together, and ascending tothe shoulders, and trousers of a lighter olive, adorned on the seamswith an undetermined but always uneven number of ribs, varying from oneto eleven, a limit which was never exceeded. Add to this, slipper-bootswith iron-capped heels, a tall, narrow-brimmed hat, hair in a tuft,an enormous cane, and a conversation improved by Potier's puns; overand above all these were spurs and moustachios, for at that periodmoustachios indicated the civilian, and spurs the pedestrian. Theprovincial dandy wore longer spurs and more ferocious moustachios. Itwas the period of the struggle of the South American Republics againstthe King of Spain, of Bolivar against Morillo. Narrow-brimmed hats wereRoyalist, and called Morillos, while the Liberals wore broad brims,which were called Bolivars.

Eight or ten months after the events we have described in the previouschapter, toward the beginning of January, and on a night when snow hadfallen, one of these dandies—a man of "right sentiments," for he worea Morillo, and was also warmly wrapped up in one of the large Spanishcloaks which at that time completed the fashionable costume in coldweather—was amusing himself by annoying a creature who was prowlingabout in a low-neck balldress, and with flowers in her hair, beforethe window of the officers' café. This dandy was smoking, as that wasa decided mark of fashion. Each time this woman passed him, he madesome remark to her, which he fancied witty and amusing, as: "How uglyyou are!—Why don't you go to kennel?—You have no teeth," etc., etc.This gentleman's name was Monsieur Bamatabois. The woman, a sad-dressedphantom walking backwards and forwards in the snow, made him no answer,did not even look at him, but still continued silently and with agloomy regularity her walk, which, every few minutes, brought herunder his sarcasms, like the condemned soldier running the gauntlet.The slight effect produced doubtless annoyed the idler, for takingadvantage of her back being turned, he crept up behind her, stooped topick up a handful of snow, and suddenly plunged it between her bareshoulders. The girl uttered a yell, turned, leaped like a pantheron the man, and dug her nails into his face with the most frightfullanguage that could fall from a guard-room into the gutter. Theseinsults, vomited by a voice rendered hoarse by brandy, hideously issuedfrom a mouth in which the two front teeth were really missing. It wasFantine.

At the noise, the officers left the café in a throng, the passers-bystopped, and a laughing, yelling, applauding circle was made roundthese two beings, in whom it was difficult to recognize a man and awoman,—the man struggling, his hat on the ground, the woman strikingwith feet and fists, bareheaded, yelling, without teeth or hair, lividwith passion, and horrible. All at once a tall man quickly brokethrough the crowd, seized the woman's satin dress, which was coveredwith mud, and said: "Follow me." The woman raised her hand, and herpassionate voice suddenly died out. Her eyes were glassy, she grew paleinstead of being livid, and trembled with fear. She had recognizedJavert. The dandy profited by this incident to make his escape.



Javert broke through the circle and began walking with longstrides toward the police office, which is at the other end of themarket-place, dragging the wretched girl after him. She allowed him todo so mechanically, and neither he nor she said a word. The crowd ofspectators, in a paroxysm of delight, followed them with coarse jokes,for supreme misery is an occasion for obscenities. On reaching thepolice office, which was a low room, heated by a stove, and guarded bya sentry, and having a barred glass door opening on the street, Javertwalked in with Fantine, and shut the door after him, to the greatdisappointment of the curious, who stood on tip-toe, and stretched outtheir necks in front of the dirty window trying to see. Curiosity isgluttony, and seeing is devouring.

On entering, Fantine crouched down motionless in a corner like afrightened dog. The sergeant on duty brought in a candle. Javert satdown at a table, took a sheet of stamped paper from his pocket, andbegan writing. Women of this class are by the French laws left entirelyat the discretion of the police: they do what they like with them,punish them as they think proper, and confiscate the two sad thingswhich they call their trade and their liberty. Javert was stoical:his grave face displayed no emotion, and yet he was seriously anddeeply preoccupied. It was one of those moments in which he exercisedwithout control, but with all the scruples of a strict conscience, hisformidable discretionary power. At this instant he felt that his highstool was a tribunal, and himself the judge. He tried and he condemned:he summoned all the ideas he had in his mind round the great thing hewas doing. The more he examined the girl's deed, the more outragedhe felt: for it was evident that he had just seen a crime committed.He had seen in the street, society, represented by a householderand elector, insulted and attacked by a creature beyond the pale ofeverything. A prostitute had assaulted a citizen, and he, Javert, hadwitnessed it. He wrote on silently. When he had finished, he affixedhis signature, folded up the paper, and said to the sergeant as hehanded it to him: "Take these men and lead this girl to prison." Thenhe turned to Fantine, "You will have six months for it."

The wretched girl started.

"Six months, six months' imprisonment!" she cried; "six months! andonly earn seven sous a day! Why, what will become of Cosette, my child,my child! Why, I owe more than one hundred francs to Thénardier, M.Inspector; do you know that?"

She dragged herself across the floor, dirtied by the muddy boots of allthese men, without rising, with clasped hands and taking long strideswith her knees.

"Monsieur Javert," she said, "I ask for mercy. I assure you that I wasnot in the wrong; if you had seen the beginning, you would say so; Iswear by our Saviour that I was not to blame. That gentleman, who wasa stranger to me, put snow down my back. Had he any right to do thatwhen I was passing gently, and doing nobody a harm? It sent me wild,for you must know I am not very well, and besides he had been abusingme—"You are ugly, you have no teeth." I am well aware that I have lostmy teeth. I did nothing, and said to myself, "This gentleman is amusinghimself." I was civil to him, and said nothing, and it was at thismoment he put the snow down my back. My good M. Javert, is there no onewho saw it to tell you that this is the truth? I was, perhaps, wrongto get into a passion, but at the moment, as you are aware, people arenot masters of themselves, and I am quick-tempered. And then, somethingso cold put down your back, at a moment when you are least expectingit! It was; wrong to destroy the gentleman's hat, but why has he goneaway? I would ask his pardon. Oh! I would willingly do so. Let me offthis time. M. Javert, perhaps you do not know that in prison you canonly earn seven sous a day; it is not the fault of Government, but youonly earn seven sous; and just fancy! I have one hundred francs to pay,or my child will be turned into the street. Oh! I cannot have her withme, for my mode of life is so bad! Oh, my Cosette, oh, my little angel,what ever will become of you, poor darling! I must tell you that theThénardiers are inn-keepers, peasants, and unreasonable; they insiston having their money. Oh, do not send me to prison! Look you, thelittle thing will be turned into the streets in the middle of winterto go where she likes, and you must take pity on that, my kind M.Javert. If she were older she could earn her living, but at her age itis impossible. I am not a bad woman at heart, it is not cowardice andgluttony that have made me what I am. If I drink brandy, it is throughwretchedness; I do not like it, but it makes me reckless. In happiertimes you need only have looked into my chest of drawers, and you wouldhave seen that I was not a disorderly woman, for I had linen, plenty oflinen. Take pity on me, M. Javert!"

She spoke thus, crushed, shaken by sobs, blinded by tears, wringing herhands, interrupted by a sharp dry cough, and stammering softly, withdeath imprinted on her voice. Great sorrow is a divine and terribleray which transfigures the wretched, and at this moment Fantine becamelovely again. From time to time she stopped, and tenderly kissedthe skirt of the policeman's coat. She would have melted a heart ofgranite,—but a wooden heart cannot be moved.

"Well," said Javert, "I have listened to you. Have you said all? Be offnow; you have six months. The Eternal Father in person could not alterit."

On hearing this solemn phrase, she understood that sentence was passed;she fell all of a heap, murmuring, "Mercy!" But Javert turned hisback, and the soldiers seized her arm. Some minutes previously a manhad entered unnoticed; he had closed the door, leaned against it, andheard Fantine's desperate entreaties. At the moment when the soldierslaid hold of the unhappy girl, who would not rise, he emerged from thegloom, and said,—

"Wait a minute, if you please."

Javert raised his eyes, and recognized M. Madeleine; he took off hishat, and bowed with a sort of vexed awkwardness.

"I beg your pardon, M. le Maire—"

The words "M. le Maire" produced a strange effect on Fantine; shesprang up like a spectre emerging from the ground, thrust back thesoldiers, walked straight up to M. Madeleine before she could beprevented, and, looking at him wildly, she exclaimed,—

"So you are the Mayor?"

Then she burst into a laugh, and spat in his face. M. Madeleine wipedhis face, and said,—

"Inspector Javert, set this woman at liberty."

Javert felt for a moment as if he were going mad; he experienced atthis instant the most violent emotions he had ever felt in his life,following each other in rapid succession, and almost mingled. To see agirl of the town spit in the Mayor's face was so monstrous a thing thathe would have regarded it as sacrilege even to believe it possible. Onthe other side, he confusedly made a hideous approximation in his mindbetween what this woman was and what this Mayor might be, and then hesaw with horror something perfectly simple in this prodigious assault.But when he saw this Mayor, this magistrate, calmly wipe his face, andsay, "Set this woman at liberty," he had a bedazzlement of stupor, soto speak; thought and language failed him equally, for he had passedthe limits of possible amazement. He remained dumb. His sentence hadproduced an equally strange effect on Fantine; she raised her bare arm,and clung to the chimney-key of the stove like a tottering person.She looked around, and began saying in a low voice, as if speaking toherself,—

"At liberty! I am to be let go! I shall not be sent to prison for sixmonths! Who said that? It is impossible that any one said it. I musthave heard badly; it cannot be that monster of a Mayor. Was it you, mykind M. Javert, who said that I was to be set at liberty? Well, I willtell you all about it, and you will let me go. That monster of a Mayor,that old villain of a Mayor, is the cause of it all. Just imagine, M.Javert, he discharged me on account of a parcel of slu*ts gossipingin the shop. Was not that horrible,—to discharge a poor girl who isdoing her work fairly! After that I did not earn enough, and all thismisfortune came. In the first place, there is an improvement which thepolice gentry ought to make, and that is to prevent persons in prisoninjuring poor people. I will explain this to you; you earn twelve sousfor making a shirt, but it falls to seven, and then you can no longerlive, and are obliged to do what you can. As I had my little CosetteI was forced to become a bad woman. You can now understand how it wasthat beggar of a Mayor who did all the mischief. My present offence isthat I trampled on the gentleman's hat before the officers' café, buthe had ruined my dress with snow; and our sort have only one silk dressfor night. Indeed, M. Javert, I never did any harm purposely, and I seeeverywhere much worse women than myself who are much more fortunate.Oh, Monsieur Javert, you said that I was to be set at liberty, did younot? Make inquiries, speak to my landlord; I pay my rent now, and youwill hear that I am honest. Oh, good gracious! I ask your pardon, butI have touched the damper of the stove without noticing it, and made asmoke."

M. Madeleine listened to her with deep attention: while she wastalking, he took out his purse, but as he found it empty on opening it,he returned it to his pocket. He now said to Fantine,—

"How much did you say that you owed?"

Fantine, who was looking at Javert, turned round to him,—

"Am I speaking to you?"

Then she said to the soldiers,—

"Tell me, men, did you see how I spat in his face? Ah, you old villainof a Mayor! you have come here to frighten me, but I am not afraid ofyou; I am only afraid of M. Javert, my kind Monsieur Javert."

While saying this, she turned again to the Inspector,—

"After all, people should be just. I can understand that you are ajust man, M. Javert; in fact, it is quite simple; a man who played atputting snow down a woman's back, made the officers laugh; they musthave some amusem*nt, and we girls are sent into the world for them tomake fun of. And then you came up: you are compelled to restore order;you remove the woman who was in the wrong, but, on reflection, as youare kind-hearted, you order me to be set at liberty, for the sake of mylittle girl, for six months' imprisonment would prevent my supportingher. Only don't come here again, fa*got! Oh, I will not come here again,M. Javert; they can do what they like to me in future, and I will notstir. Still I cried out to-night because it hurt me; I did not at allexpect that gentleman's snow; and then besides, as I told you; I am notvery well,—I cough, I have something like a ball in my stomach whichburns, and the doctor says: "Take care of yourself." Here, feel, giveme your hand; do not be frightened."

She no longer cried, her voice was caressing; she laid Javert's largecoarse hand on her white, delicate throat, and looked up at himsmilingly. All at once she hurriedly repaired the disorder in herclothes, let the folds of her dress fall, which had been almost draggedup to her knee, and walked toward the door, saying to the soldiers witha friendly nod,—

"My lads, M. Javert says I may go, so I will be off."

She laid her hand on the hasp; one step further, and she would be inthe street. Up to this moment Javert had stood motionless, with hiseyes fixed on the ground, appearing in the centre of this scene likea statue waiting to be put up in its proper place. The sound of thehasp aroused him: he raised his head with an expression of sovereignauthority,—an expression the more frightful, the lower the man inpower stands; it is ferocity in the wild beast, atrocity in the nobody.

"Sergeant," he shouted, "do you not see that the wench is bolting? Whotold you to let her go?"

"I did," said Madeleine.

Fantine, at the sound of Javert's voice, trembled, and let go the hasp,as a detected thief lets fall the stolen article. At Madeleine's voiceshe turned, and from this moment, without uttering a word, without evendaring to breathe freely, her eye wandered from Madeleine to Javert,and from Javert to Madeleine, according as each spoke. It was evidentthat Javert must have been "lifted off the hinges," as people say, whenhe ventured to address the sergeant as he had done, after the Mayor'srequest that Fantine should be set at liberty. Had he gone so far as toforget the Mayor's presence? Did he eventually declare to himself thatit was impossible for "an authority" to have given such an order, andthat the Mayor must certainly have said one thing for another withoutmeaning it? Or was it that, in the presence of all the enormitieshe had witnessed during the last two hours, he said to himself thathe must have recourse to a supreme resolution, that the little mustbecome great, the detective be transformed into the magistrate, andthat, in this prodigious extremity, order, law, morality, government,and society were personified in him, Javert? However this may be,when M. Madeleine said "I did," the Inspector of Police could be seento turn to the Mayor, pale, cold, with blue lips, with a desperateglance, and an imperceptible tremor all over him, and—extraordinarycirc*mstance!—to say to him, with downcast eye, but in a fiercevoice,—

"Monsieur le Maire, that cannot be."

"Why so?"

"This creature has insulted a gentleman."

"Inspector Javert," M. Madeleine replied with a conciliating andcalm accent, "listen to me. You are an honest man, and I shall haveno difficulty in coming to an explanation with you. The truth is asfollows: I was crossing the market-place at the time you were leadingthis girl away; a crowd was still assembled; I inquired, and know all.The man was in the wrong, and, in common justice, ought to have beenarrested instead of her."

Javert objected,—

"The wretched creature has just insulted M. le Maire."

"That concerns myself," M. Madeleine said; "my insult is, perhaps, myown, and I can do what I like with it."

"I ask your pardon, sir; the insult does not belong to you, but to theJudicial Court."

"Inspector Javert," Madeleine replied, "conscience is the highest ofall courts. I have heard the woman, and know what I am doing."

"And I, Monsieur le Maire, do not know what I am seeing."

"In that case, be content with obeying."

"I obey my duty; my duty orders that this woman should go to prison forsix months."

M. Madeleine answered gently,—

"Listen to this carefully; she will not go for a single day."

On hearing these decided words, Javert ventured to look fixedly at theMayor, and said to him, though still with a respectful accent,—

"I bitterly regret being compelled to resist you. Monsieur le Maire, itis the first time in my life, but you will deign to let me observe thatI am within the limits of my authority. As you wish it, sir, I willconfine myself to the affair with the gentleman. I was present; thisgirl attacked M. Bamatabois, who is an elector and owner of that finethree-storied house, built of hewn stone, which forms the corner of theEsplanade. Well, there are things in this world! However this may be,M. le Maire, this is a matter of the street police which concerns me,and I intend to punish the woman Fantine."

M. Madeleine upon this folded his arms, and said in a stern voice,which no one in the town had ever heard before,—

"The affair to which you allude belongs to the Borough police; andby the terms of articles nine, eleven, fifteen, and sixty-six of theCriminal Code, I try it. I order that this woman be set at liberty."

Javert tried a final effort.

"But, Monsieur le Maire—"

"I call your attention to article eighty-one of the law of Dec. 13th,1799, upon arbitrary detention."

"Permit me, sir—"

"Not a word!"


"Leave the room!" said M. Madeleine.

Javert received the blow right in his chest like a Russian soldier; hebowed down to the ground to the Mayor, and went out. Fantine stood upagainst the door, and watched him pass by her in stupor. She too wassuffering from a strange perturbation: for she had seen herself, soto speak, contended for by two opposite powers. She had seen two menstruggling in her presence, who held in their hands her liberty, herlife, her soul, her child. One of these men dragged her towards thegloom, the other restored her to the light. In this struggle, which shegazed at through the exaggeration of terror, the two men seemed to hergiants,—one spoke like a demon, the other like her good angel. Theangel had vanquished the demon, and the thing which made her shudderfrom head to foot was that this angel, this liberator, was the veryman whom she abhorred, the Mayor whom she had so long regarded as thecause of all her woes; and at the very moment when she had insultedhim in such a hideous way, he saved her. Could she be mistaken? Mustshe change her whole soul? She did not know, but she trembled; shelistened wildly, she looked on with terror, and at every word that M.Madeleine said, she felt the darkness of hatred fade away in her heart,and something glowing and ineffable spring up in its place, which wascomposed of joy, confidence, and love. When Javert had left the room,M. Madeleine turned to her, and said in a slow voice, like a seriousman who is making an effort to restrain his tears,—

"I have heard your story. I knew nothing about what you have said, butI believe, I feel, that it is true. I was even ignorant that you hadleft the factory, but why did you not apply to me? This is what I willdo for you; I will pay your debts and send for your child, or you cango to it. You can live here, in Paris, or wherever you please, and Iwill provide for your child and yourself. I will give you all the moneyyou require, and you will become respectable again in becoming happy;and I will say more than that: if all be as you say, and I do not doubtit, you have never ceased to be virtuous and holy in the sight of God!Poor woman!"

This was more than poor Fantine could endure. To have her Cosette! toleave this infamous life! to live free, rich, happy, and respectablewith Cosette! to see all these realities of Paradise suddenly burstinto flower, in the midst of her wretchedness! She looked as if stunnedat the person who was speaking, and could only sob two or three times:"Oh, oh, oh!" Her legs gave way, she fell on her knees before M.Madeleine, and before he could prevent it, he felt her seize his handand press her lips to it.

Then she fainted.





M. Madeleine had Fantine conveyed to the infirmary he had establishedin his own house, and intrusted her to the sisters, who put her to bed.A violent fever had broken out; she spent a part of the night in ravingand talking aloud, but at length fell asleep. On the morrow, at aboutmid-day, Fantine woke, and hearing a breathing close to her bed, shedrew the curtain aside, and noticed M. Madeleine gazing at somethingabove her head. His glance was full of pity and agony, and supplicated:she followed its direction, and saw that it was fixed on a crucifixnailed to the wall. M. Madeleine was now transfigured in Fantine'seyes, and seemed to her surrounded by light. He was absorbed in aspecies of prayer, and she looked at him for some time without daringto interrupt him, but at length said, timidly,—

"What are you doing there?"

M. Madeleine had been standing at this spot for an hour, waiting tillFantine should wake. He took her hand, felt her pulse, and answered,—

"How are you?"

"Very comfortable; I have slept, and fancy I am better. It will benothing."

He continued answering the question she had asked him first, and as ifhe had only just heard it,—

"I was praying to the martyr up there;" and he mentally added, "for themartyr down here."

M. Madeleine had spent the night and morning in making inquiries, andhad learned everything; he knew all the poignant details of Fantine'shistory. He continued,—

"You have suffered deeply, poor mother. Oh! do not complain, for youhave at present the dowry of the elect: it is in this way that humanbeings become angels. It is not their fault; they do not know what todo otherwise. The hell you have now left is the ante-room to heaven,and you were obliged to begin with that."

He breathed a deep sigh, but she smiled upon him with the sublime smilein which two teeth were wanting. Javert had written a letter during thepast night, and posted it himself the next morning. It was for Paris,and the address was: "Monsieur Chabouillet, Secretary to the Prefect ofPolice." As a rumor had spread about the affair in the police office,the lady-manager of the post, and some other persons who saw the letterbefore it was sent off and recognized Javert's handwriting, supposedthat he was sending in his resignation. M. Madeleine hastened to writeto the Thénardiers. Fantine owed them over 120 francs, and he sentthem 300, bidding them pay themselves out of the amount, and bringthe child at once to M——, where a sick mother was awaiting it. Thisdazzled Thénardier. "Hang it all!" he said to his wife, "we must notlet the brat go, for the lark will become a milch cow for us. I see itall; some fellow has fallen in love with the mother." He replied bysending a bill for 500 and odd francs very well drawn up. In this billtwo undeniable amounts figure, one from a physician, the other froman apothecary, who had attended Éponine and Azelma in a long illness.Cosette, as we said, had not been ill, and hence it was merely a littlesubstitution of names. At the bottom of the bill Thénardier gave creditfor 300 francs received on account. M. Madeleine at once sent 300francs more, and wrote, "Make haste and bring Cosette."

"Christi!" said Thénardier, "we must not let the child go."

In the mean while Fantine did not recover, and still remained in theinfirmary. The sisters had at first received and nursed "this girl"with some repugnance; any one who has seen the bas-relief at Rheimswill remember the pouting lower lip of the wise virgins looking atthe foolish virgins. This ancient contempt of Vestals for Ambubaïæ isone of the deepest instincts of the feminine dignity, and the sistershad experienced it, with the increased dislike which religion adds.But in a few days Fantine disarmed them; she had all sorts of humbleand gentle words, and the mother within her was touching. One day thesisters heard her say in the paroxysm of fever, "I have been a sinner,but when I have my child by my side, that will show that God hasforgiven me. While I was living badly, I should not have liked to haveCosette with me, for I could not have endured her sad and astonishedeyes. And yet it was for her sake that I did wrong, and for that reasonGod pardons me. I shall feel the blessing of Heaven when Cosette ishere; I shall look at her, and it will do me good to see the innocentcreature. She knows nothing, as she is an angel. My sisters, at her agethe wings have not yet dropped off."

M. Madeleine went to see her twice a day, and every time she asked him,"Shall I see my Cosette soon?"

He would answer,—

"To-morrow, perhaps; she may arrive at any moment, for I am expectingher."

And the mother's pale face would grow radiant.

"Oh!" she said, "how happy I shall be!"

We have said that she did not improve; on the contrary, her conditionseemed to grow worse week by week. The handful of snow placed betweenher naked shoulder-blades produced a sudden check of perspiration,which caused the illness that had smouldered in her for years suddenlyto break out. Larmier's fine method for studying and healing diseasesof the lungs was just beginning to be employed; the physician placedthe stethoscope to Fantine's chest, and shook his head. M. Madeleinesaid to him,—


"Has she not a child that she wishes to see?" asked the doctor.


"Well, make haste to send for her."

Madeleine gave a start, and Fantine asked him,—

"What did the doctor say to you?"

M. Madeleine forced a smile.

"He said that your child must come at once, for that would cure you."

"Oh," she replied, "he is right; but what do those Thénardiers mean bykeeping my Cosette? Oh, she will come, and then I shall see happinessclose to me."

Thénardier, however, would not let the child go, and alleged a hundredpoor excuses. Cosette was ailing, and it would be dangerous for her totravel in winter; and then there were some small debts still to pay,which he was collecting, &c.

"I will send some one to fetch Cosette," said Father Madeleine; "ifnecessary, I will go myself."

He wrote to Fantine's dictation the following letter, which she signed.

"M. THÉNARDIER,—" You will hand over Cosette to the bearer, who willpay up all little matters. "Yours, FANTINE."

About this time a great incident happened. However cleverly we may havecarved the mysterious block of which our life is made, the black veinof destiny ever reappears in it.



One morning M. Madeleine was in his study, engaged in settling somepressing mayoralty matters, in case he decided on the journey toMontfermeil, when he was told that Inspector Javert wished to speakwith him. On hearing this name pronounced, M. Madeleine could notrefrain from a disagreeable impression. Since the guard-room adventureJavert had avoided him more than ever, and M. Madeleine had not seenhim again.

"Show him in," he said.

Javert entered. M. Madeleine remained at his table near the fire-placewith a pen in his hand and his eyes fixed on a bundle of papers,which he ran through and annotated. He did not put himself out ofthe way for Javert, for he could not refrain from thinking of poorFantine. Javert bowed respectfully to the Mayor, who had his backturned to him; the Mayor did not look at him, but continued to makehis notes. Javert walked a little way into the study, and then haltedwithout a word. A physiognomist familiar with Javert's nature, andwho had studied for any length of time this savage in the service ofcivilization,—this strange composite of the Roman, the Spartan, themonk, and the corporal, this spy incapable of falsehood, this virgindetective,—a physiognomist aware of his secret and old aversion to M.Madeleine, and his conflict with him about Fantine, and who regardedJavert at this moment, would have asked himself, What has happened? Itwas evident to any one who knew this upright, clear, sincere, honest,austere, and ferocious conscience, that Javert had just emerged fromsome great internal struggle. Javert had nothing in his mind whichhe did not also have in his face, and, like all violent men, he wassubject to sudden changes. Never had his face been stranger or moresurprising. On entering, he bowed to M. Madeleine with a look in whichthere was neither rancor, anger, nor suspicion; he had halted a fewyards behind the Mayor's chair, and was now standing there in an almostmilitary attitude, with the simple cold rudeness of a man who has neverbeen gentle and has ever been patient. He was waiting, without sayinga word, without making a movement, in a true humility and tranquilresignation, till the Mayor might think proper to turn round,—calm,serious, hat in hand, and with an expression which was half-way betweenthe private before his officer and the culprit before the judge. Allthe feelings as well as all the resolutions he might be supposed topossess had disappeared: there was nothing but a gloomy sadness onthis face, which was impenetrable and simple as granite. His wholeperson displayed humiliation and firmness, and a sort of courageousdespondency. At length the Mayor laid down his pen and half turnedround.

"Well, what is the matter, Javert?"

Javert remained silent for a moment, as if reflecting, and then raisedhis voice with a sad solemnity, which, however, did not excludesimplicity.

"A culpable deed has been committed, sir."

"What deed?"

"An inferior agent of authority has failed in his respect to amagistrate in the gravest matter. I have come, as is my duty, to bringthe fact to your knowledge."

"Who is this agent?" M. Madeleine asked


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

"You, Monsieur le Maire."

M. Madeleine sat up, and Javert continued with a stern air and stilllooking down,—

"Monsieur le Maire, I have come to request that you will procure mydismissal from the service."

M. Madeleine in his stupefaction opened his mouth, but Javertinterrupted him,—

"You will say that I could have sent in my resignation, but that is notenough. Such a course is honorable, but I have done wrong, and deservepunishment. I must be dismissed."

And after a pause he added,—

"Monsieur le Maire, you were severe to me the other day unjustly, be soto-day justly."

"What is the meaning of all this nonsense?" M. Madeleine exclaimed."What is the culpable act you have committed? What have you done to me?You accuse yourself, you wish to be removed—"

"Dismissed," said Javert.

"Very good, dismissed. I do not understand it."

"You shall do so, sir."

Javert heaved a deep sigh, and continued still coldly and sadly,—

"Six weeks ago, M. le Maire, after the scene about that girl, I wasfurious, and denounced you."

"Denounced me?"

"To the Prefect of Police at Paris."

M. Madeleine, who did not laugh much oftener than Javert, burst into alaugh.

"As a Mayor who had encroached on the police?"

"As an ex-galley slave."

The Mayor turned livid, but Javert, who had not raised his eyes,continued,—

"I thought you were so, and have had these notions for a long time. Aresemblance, information you sought at Faverolles, the strength of yourloins, the adventures with old Fauchelevent, your skill in firing, yourleg which halts a little—and so on. It was very absurd, but I took youfor a man of the name of Jean Valjean."

"What name did you say?"

"Jean Valjean; he is a convict I saw twenty years ago when I wasassistant keeper at the Toulon bagne. On leaving the galley, thisValjean, as it appears, robbed a bishop, and then committed a highwayrobbery on a little Savoyard. For eight years he has been out of theway and could not be found, and I imagined—in a word, I did as I said.Passion decided me, and I denounced you to the Prefect."

M. Madeleine, who had taken up the charge-book again, said with acareless accent,—

"And what was the answer you received?"

"That I was mad!"


"They were right."

"It is fortunate that you allow it."

"I must do so, for the real Jean Valjean has been found."

The book M. Madeleine was holding fell from his grasp, he raised hishead, looked searchingly at Javert, said with an indescribable accent,—


Javert continued,—

"The facts are these, M. le Maire. It seems that there was overat Ailly le Haut Clocher, an old fellow who was called FatherChampmathieu. He was very wretched, and no attention was paid to him,for no one knows how such people live. This autumn Father Champmathieuwas arrested for stealing cider apples: there was a robbery, a wallclimbed over, and branches broken. This Champmathieu was arrested withthe branch still in his hand, and was locked up. Up to this point it isonly a matter for a police court, but here Providence interposes. Asthe lock-up was under repair, the magistrates ordered that Champmathieushould be taken to the departmental prison at Arras. In this prisonthere is an ex-convict of the name of Brevet, under imprisonment forsome offence, and he has been made room-turnkey for his good behavior.Champmathieu no sooner arrived than Brevet cries out, "Why, I knowthis man: he is an ex-convict. Look at me, old fellow: you are JeanValjean." "What do you mean?" says Champmathieu, affecting surprise."Don't play the humbug with me," says Brevet; "you are Jean Valjean.You were at the Toulon bagne twenty years ago, and I was there too."Champmathieu denied identity, and, as you may suppose, the affair wasthoroughly investigated, with the following result. This Champmathieuabout thirty years ago was a journeyman wood-cutter at several places,especially at Faverolles, where his trail is lost. A long time afterhe is found again in Auvergne, and then in Paris, where he says he wasa blacksmith, and had a daughter a washer-woman,—though there is noevidence of this,—and lastly, he turned up in these parts. Now, beforebeing sent to the galleys, what was Jean Valjean? A wood-cutter. Where?At Faverolles. And here is another fact: this Valjean's Christian namewas Jean, and his mother's family name Mathieu. What is more naturalto suppose than that on leaving the bagne he assumed his mother's nameas a disguise, and called himself Jean Mathieu? He went to Auvergne,where Jean is pronounced Chan, and thus he was transformed intoChampmathieu. You are following me, I suppose? Inquiries have been madeat Faverolles, but Jean Valjean's family is no longer there, and no oneknows where it has gone. As you are aware, in those places familiesfrequently disappear in such a way; these people, if they are not mud,are dust. And then, again, as the beginning of this story dates backthirty years, there is no one in Faverolles who knew Jean Valjean: andbeside Brevet, there are only two convicts who remember him. Thesetwo were brought from the bagne and confronted with the pretendedChampmathieu, and they did not hesitate for a moment. The same age,—fifty-four,—the same height, the same look, the same man, in short. Itwas at this very moment that I sent my denunciation to Paris, and theanswer I received was that I had lost my senses, for Jean Valjean wasin the hands of justice at Arras. You can conceive that this surprisedme, as I fancied that I held my Jean Valjean here. I wrote to themagistrates, who sent for me, and Champmathieu was brought in."

"Well?" M. Madeleine interrupted him.

Javert answered with his incorruptible and sad face,—

"Monsieur le Maire, truth is truth: I am sorry, but that man is JeanValjean: I recognized him too."

M. Madeleine said in a very low voice,—

"Are you sure?"

Javert burst into that sorrowful laugh which escapes from a profoundconviction,—

"Oh! certain."

He stood for a moment pensive, mechanically taking pinches of saw-dustout of the sprinkler in the inkstand, and added,—

"And now that I have seen the real Jean Valjean, I cannot understandhow I could have believed anything else. I ask your pardon, M. leMaire."

While addressing these supplicating words to the person who six weekspreviously had humiliated him so deeply and bidden him leave the room,this haughty man was unconsciously full of dignity and simplicity. M.Madeleine merely answered his entreaty with the hurried question,—

"And what does this man say?"

"Well, Monsieur le Maire, it is an ugly business, for if he is JeanValjean, he is an escaped convict. Scaling a wall, breaking a branch,and stealing apples is a peccadillo with a child, an offence in a man,but a crime in a convict. It is no longer a matter for the policecourts, but for the assizes; it is no longer imprisonment for a fewdays, but the galleys for life. And there is the matter with theSavoyard, which, I trust, will be brought up again. There is enough tosettle a man, is there not? But Jean Valjean is artful, and in that Irecognize him too. Any other man would find it warm; he would struggle,cry out, refuse to be Jean Valjean, and so on. He pretends though notto understand, and says, "I am Champmathieu, and I shall stick to it."He has a look of amazement, and plays the brute-beast, which is better.Oh! he is a clever scoundrel! But no matter, the proofs are ready tohand; he has been recognized by four persons, and the old scoundrelwill be found guilty. He is to be tried at Arras assizes, and I havebeen summoned as a witness."

M. Madeleine had turned round to his desk again, taken up his papers,and was quietly turning over the leaves, and busily reading and writingin turn. He now said to the Inspector,—

"Enough, Javert; after all, these details interest me but veryslightly; we are losing our time, and have a deal of work before us.Javert, you will go at one to Mother Busaupied, who sells vegetables atthe corner of the Rue St. Saulve, and tell her to take out a summonsagainst Pierre the carter; he is a brutal fellow, who almost drove overthis woman and her child, and he must be punished. You will then go toM. Charcillay in the Rue Champigny; he complains that there is a gutternext door which leaks, and is shaking the foundation of his house. ButI am giving you a deal to do, and I think you said you were going away.Did you not state you were going to Arras on this matter in a week orten days?"

"Sooner than that, sir."

"On what day, then?"

"I fancied I told you that the trial comes off to-morrow, and that Ishould start by to-night's coach."

"And how long will the trial last?"

"A day at the most, and sentence will be passed to-morrow night at thelatest. But I shall not wait for that, but return so soon as I havegiven my evidence."

"Very good," said M. Madeleine; and he dismissed Javert with a wave ofhis hand. But he did not go.

"I beg your pardon, M. le Maire," he said.

"What's the matter now?" M. Madeleine asked.

"I have one thing to remind you of, sir."

"What is it?"

"That I must be discharged."

M. Madeleine rose.

"Javert, you are a man of honor, and I esteem you; you exaggerate yourfault, and besides, it is another insult which concerns me. Javert, youare worthy of rising, not of sinking, and I insist on your keeping yoursituation."

Javert looked at M. Madeleine with his bright eyes, in which it seemedas if his unenlightened but rigid and chaste conscience could be seen,and he said quietly,—

"M. le Maire, I cannot allow it."

"I repeat," M. Madeleine replied, "that the affair concerns myself."

But Javert, only attending to his own thoughts, continued,—

"As for exaggerating, I am not doing so, for this is how I reason. Isuspected you unjustly; that is nothing: it is the duty of men likemyself to suspect, though there is an abuse in suspecting those aboveus. But, without proofs, in a moment of passion and for the purpose ofrevenge, I denounced you, a respectable man, a mayor and a magistrate;this is serious, very serious,—I, an agent of the authority, insultedthat authority in your person. Had any of my subordinates done whatI have done, I should have declared him unworthy of the service anddischarged him. Stay, Monsieur le Maire, one word more. I have oftenbeen severe in my life to others, for it was just, and I was doing myduty, and if I were not severe to myself now, all the justice I havedone would become injustice. Ought I to spare myself more than others?No. What! I have been only good to punish others and not myself? Why,I should be a scoundrel, and the people who call me that rogue of aJavert, would be in the right! M. le Maire, I do not wish you to treatme with kindness, for your kindness caused me sufficient ill-blood whendealt to others, and I want none for myself. The kindness that consistsin defending the street-walker against the gentleman, the police agentagainst the Mayor, the lower classes against the higher, is what I callbad kindness, and it is such kindness that disorganizes society. GoodLord! it is easy enough to be good, but the difficulty is to be just.Come! if you had been what I believed you, I should not have been kindto you, as you would have seen. M. le Maire, I am bound to treat myselfas I would treat another man; when I repressed malefactors, when I wassevere with scamps, I often said to myself, "If you ever catch yourselftripping, look out," I have tripped, I have committed a fault, andall the worse for me. I have strong arms and will turn laborer. M. leMaire, the good of the service requires an example. I simply demand thedischarge of Inspector Javert."

All this was said with a humble, proud, despairing, and convincedaccent, which gave a peculiar grandeur to this strangely honest man.

"We will see," said M. Madeleine, and he offered him his hand; butJavert fell back, and said sternly,—

"Pardon me, sir, but that must not be; a mayor ought not to give hishand to a spy."

He added between his teeth,—

"Yes, a spy; from the moment when I misused my authority, I have beenonly a spy."

Then he bowed deeply and walked to the door. When he reached it heturned round and said, with eyes still bent on the ground,—

"M. le Maire, I will continue on duty till my place is filled up."

He went out. M. Madeleine thoughtfully listened to his firm, sure stepas he walked along the paved passage.





The incidents we are about to record were only partially known atM——, but the few which were known left such a memory in that town,that it would be a serious gap in this book if we did not tell them intheir smallest details. In these details the reader will notice two orthree improbable circ*mstances, which we retain through respect fortruth. In the afternoon that followed Javert's visit, M. Madeleine wentto see Fantine as usual; but before going to her, he asked for SisterSimplice. The two nuns who managed the infirmary, who were Lazarets,like all sisters of charity, were known by the names of SistersPerpetua and Simplice. Sister Perpetua was an ordinary village girl, aclumsy sister of charity, who had entered the service of Heaven justas she would have taken a cook's place. This type is not rare, for themonastic orders gladly accept this clumsy peasant clay, which can beeasily fashioned into a Capuchin friar or an Ursuline nun; and theserusticities are employed in the heavy work of devotion. The transitionfrom a drover to a Carmelite is no hard task; the common substratumof village and cloister ignorance is a ready-made preparation, and atonce places the countryman on a level with the monk. Widen the blouse alittle and you have a gown. Sister Perpetua was a strong nun belongingto Marnies near Pantoise, who talked with a country accent, sang psalmsto match, sugared the tisane according to the bigotry or hypocrisy ofthe patient, was rough with the sick, and harsh with the dying, almostthrowing God in their faces, and storming their last moments with angryprayer. Withal she was bold, honest, and red-faced.

Sister Simplice was pale, and looked like a wax taper by the side ofSister Perpetua, who was a tallow candle in comparison. St. Vincent dePaul has divinely described the sister of charity in those admirablewords in which so much liberty is blended with slavery: "They will haveno other convent but the hospital, no other cell but a hired room, nochapel but the parish church, no cloister beyond the streets or thehospital wards, no walls but obedience, no grating but the fear ofGod, and no veil but modesty." Sister Simplice was the living ideal ofthis: no one could have told her age, for she had never been young,and seemed as if she would never grow old. She was a gentle, austere,well-nurtured, cold person—we dare not say a woman—who had never tolda falsehood; she was so gentle that she appeared fragile, but she wasmore solid than granite. She touched the wretched with her delicate andpure fingers. There was, so to speak, silence in her language; she onlysaid what was necessary, and possessed an intonation of voice whichwould at once have edified a confessional and delighted a drawing-room.This delicacy harmonized with the rough gown, for it formed in thisrough contact a continual reminder of heaven. Let us dwell on onedetail; never to have told a falsehood, never to have said, for anyadvantage or even indifferently, a thing which was not the truth, theholy truth, was the characteristic feature of Sister Simplice. She wasalmost celebrated in the congregation for this imperturbable veracity,and the Abbé Suard alludes to Sister Simplice in a letter to the deaf,mute Massieu. However sincere and pure we may be, we have all the brandof a little white lie on our candor, but she had not. Can there besuch a thing as a white lie, an innocent lie? Lying is the absolute ofevil. Lying a little is not possible; the man who lies tells the wholelie; lying is the face of the fiend, and Satan has two names,—he iscalled Satan and Lying. That is what she thought, and she practised asshe thought. The result was the whiteness to which we have alluded, awhiteness which even covered with its radiance her lips and eyes, forher smile was white, her glance was white. There was not a spider's webnor a grain of dust on the window of this conscience; on entering theobedience of St. Vincent de Paul she took the name of Simplice throughspecial choice. Simplice of Sicily, our readers will remember, is thesaint who sooner let her bosom be plucked out than say she was a nativeof Segeste, as she was born at Syracuse, though the falsehood wouldhave saved her. Such a patron saint suited this soul.

Simplice on entering the order had two faults, of which she hadgradually corrected herself; she had a taste for dainties and was fondof receiving letters. Now she never read anything but a Prayer-book inlarge type and in Latin; though she did not understand the language,she understood the book. This pious woman felt an affection forFantine, as she probably noticed the latent virtue in her, and nearlyentirely devoted herself to nursing her. M. Madeleine took SisterSimplice on one side and recommended Fantine to her with a singularaccent, which the sister remembered afterwards. On leaving the sisterhe went to Fantine. The patient daily awaited the appearance of M.Madeleine, as if he brought her warmth and light; she said to thesisters, "I only live when M. le Maire is here." This day she was veryfeverish, and so soon as she saw M. Madeleine she asked him,—

"Where is Cosette?"

He replied with a smile, "She will be here soon."

M. Madeleine behaved to Fantine as usual, except that he remainedwith her an hour instead of half an hour, to her great delight. Hepressed everybody not to allow the patient to want for anything, andit was noticed at one moment that his face became very dark, but thiswas explained when it was learned that the physician had bent downto his ear and said, "She is rapidly sinking." Then he returned tothe Mayoralty, and the office clerk saw him attentively examining aroad-map of France which hung in his room, and write a few figures inpencil on a piece of paper.



From the Mayoralty M. Madeleine proceeded to the end of the town, to aFleming called Master Scaufflaer, gallicized into Scaufflaire, who letout horses and gigs by the day. To reach his yard the nearest way wasthrough an unfrequented street, in which stood the house of the parishpriest. The Curé was said to be a worthy and respectable man, who gavegood advice. At the moment when M. Madeleine came in front of his housethere was only one person in the street, and he noticed the followingcirc*mstances: M. le Maire, after passing the house, stopped for amoment, then turned back and walked up to the Curé's door, which hadan iron knocker. He quickly seized the knocker and lifted it; then hestopped again as if in deep thought, and, after a few seconds, insteadof knocking, he softly let the knocker fall back in its place andcontinued his way with a haste which he had not displayed before.

M. Madeleine found Master Scaufflaire at home and engaged in mending aset of harness.

"Master Scaufflaire", he inquired, "have you a good horse?"

"M. le Maire," the Fleming replied, "all my horses are good. What doyou mean by a good horse?"

"I mean a horse that can cover twenty leagues of ground in a day."

"Harnessed in a gig?"


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

"It must be in a condition to start again the next morning ifnecessary."

"To return the same distance?"


"Hang it all! and it is twenty leagues?"

M. Madeleine took from his pocket the paper on which he had pencilledthe figures; they were "5, 6, 8 1/2."

"You see," he said, "total, nineteen and a half, or call them twentyleagues."

"M. le Maire," the Fleming continued, "I can suit you. My littlewhite horse—you may have seen it pass sometimes—is an animal fromthe Bas Boulonnais, and full of fire. They tried at first to make asaddle-horse of it, but it reared and threw everybody that got on itsback. It was supposed to be vicious, and they did not know what to dowith it; I bought it and put it in a gig. That was just what it wanted;it is as gentle as a maid and goes like the wind. But you must nottry to get on its back, for it has no notion of being a saddle-horse.Everybody has his ambition, and it appears as if the horse had said toitself,—Draw, yes; carry, no."

"And it will go the distance?"

"At a trot, and under eight hours, but on certain conditions."

"What are they?"

"In the first place, you will let it breathe for an hour half way; itwill feed, and you must be present while it is doing so, to prevent theostler stealing the oats, for I have noticed that at inns oats are morefrequently drunk by the stable-boys than eaten by the horses."

"I will be there."

"In the next place, is the gig for yourself, sir?"


"Do you know how to drive?"


"Well, you must travel alone and without luggage, in order not tooverweight the horse."


"I shall expect thirty francs a day, and the days of rest paid for aswell,—not a farthing less; and you will pay for the horse's keep."

M. Madeleine took three napoleons from his purse and laid them on thetable.

"There are two days in advance."

"In the fourth place, a cabriolet would be too heavy for such ajourney, and tire the horse. You must oblige me by travelling in alittle tilbury I have."

"I consent."

"It is light, but it is open."

"I do not care."

"Have you thought, sir, that it is now winter?"

M. Madeleine made no answer, and the Fleming continued,—

"That it is very cold?"

Monsieur Madeleine was still silent.

"That it may rain?"

The Mayor raised his head and said,—

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

"Very good, sir," Scaufflaire answered; then scratching with histhumb-nail a stain in the wood of his table, he continued, with thatcareless air with which the Flemings so cleverly conceal their craft,—

"Good gracious! I have not thought of asking where you are going? Bekind enough to tell me, sir."

He had thought of nothing else since the beginning of the conversation,but somehow he had not dared to ask the question.

"Has your horse good legs?" said M. Madeleine.

"Yes, M. le Maire; you will hold it up a little in going down-hill. Arethere many hills between here and the place you are going to?"

"Do not forget to be at my door at half-past four exactly," M.Madeleine answered, and went away.

The Fleming stood "like a fool," as he said himself a little whileafter. M. le Maire had been gone some two or three minutes when thedoor opened again; it was M. le Maire. He still wore the same impassiveand preoccupied air.

"M. Scaufflaire," he said, "at how much do you value the tilbury andhorse you are going to let me, one with the other?"

"Do you wish to buy them of me, sir?"

"No, but I should like to guarantee them against any accident, and whenI come back you can return me the amount. What is the estimated value?"

"Five hundred francs, M. le Maire."

"Here they are."

M. Madeleine laid a bank note on the table, then went out, and thistime did not come back. Master Scaufflaire regretted frightfully thathe had not said a thousand francs, though tilbury and horse, at a fairvaluation, were worth just three hundred. The Fleming called his wifeand told her what had occurred. "Where the deuce can the Mayor begoing?" They held a council. "He is going to Paris," said the wife. "Idon't believe it," said the husband. M. Madeleine had left on the tablethe paper on which he had written the figures; the Fleming took it upand examined it. "'5, 6, 8 1/2;' why, that must mean post stations." Heturned to his wife: "I have found it out." "How?" "It is five leaguesfrom here to Hesdin, six from there to St. Pol, and eight and a halffrom St. Pol to Arras. He is going to Arras."

In the mean while the Mayor had returned home, and had taken thelongest road, as if the gate of the priest's house were a temptationto him which he wished to avoid. He went up to his bed-room and lockedhimself in, which was not unusual, for he was fond of going to bed atan early hour. Still the factory portress, who was at the same time M.Madeleine's only servant, remarked that his candle was extinguished ata quarter-past eight, and mentioned the fact to the cashier when hecame in, adding,—

"Can master be ill? I thought he looked very strange to-day." Thecashier occupied a room exactly under M. Madeleine's; he paid noattention to the remarks of the portress, but went to bed and fellasleep. About midnight he woke with a start, for he heard in hissleep a noise above his head. He listened; it was a footfall comingand going, as if some one were walking about the room above him. Helistened more attentively, and recognized M. Madeleine's step; and thisseemed to him strange, for usually no sound could be heard from theMayor's room till he rose. A moment later the cashier heard somethinglike a wardrobe open and shut; a piece of furniture was moved, therewas a silence, and the walking began again. The cashier sat up inbed, wide awake, looked out, and through his window noticed on a wallopposite, the red reflection of a lighted window; from the directionof the rays it could only be the window of M. Madeleine's bed-room. Thereflection flickered as if it came from a fire rather than a candle,while the shadow of the framework could not be traced, which provedthat the window was wide open, and this was a curious fact, consideringthe cold. The cashier fell asleep and woke again some two hours after;the same slow and regular footfall was still audible above his head.The reflection was still cast on the wall, but was now pale and quiet,as if it came from a lamp or a candle. The window was still open. Thisis what was occurring in M. Madeleine's bed-room.



The reader has, of course, guessed that M. Madeleine is Jean Valjean.We have already looked into the depths of this conscience, and themoment has arrived to look into them again. We do not do this withoutemotion or tremor, for there is nothing more terrifying than thisspecies of contemplation. The mental eye can nowhere find greaterbrilliancy or greater darkness than within man; it cannot dwellon anything which is more formidable, complicated, mysterious, orinfinite. There is a spectacle grander than the sea, and that is thesky; there is a spectacle grander than the sky, and it is the interiorof the soul. To write the poem of the human conscience, were thesubject only one man, and he the lowest of men, would be to resolveall epic poems into one supreme and final epic. Conscience is thechaos of chimeras, envies, and attempts, the furnace of dreams, thelurking-place of ideas we are ashamed of; it is the pandemonium ofsophistry, the battlefield of the passions. At certain hours lookthrough the livid face of a reflecting man, look into his soul, peerinto the darkness. Beneath the external silence, combats of giants aregoing on there, such as we read of in Homer; mêlées of dragons andhydras and clouds of phantoms, such as we find in Milton; and visionaryspirals, as in Dante. A sombre thing is the infinitude which every manbears within him, and by which he desperately measures the volitionsof his brain and the actions of his life. Alighieri one day came to agloomy gate, before which he hesitated; we have one before us, on thethreshold of which we also hesitate, but we will enter.

We have but little to add to what the reader already knows as havinghappened to Jean Valjean since his adventure with Little Gervais.From this moment, as we have seen, he became another man, and hemade himself what the Bishop wished to make him. It was more than atransformation, it was a transfiguration. He succeeded in disappearing,sold the Bishop's plate, only keeping the candlesticks as a souvenir,passed through France, reached M——, had the idea we have described,accomplished what we have narrated, managed to make himself unseizableand inaccessible, and henceforth settled at M——, happy at feeling hisconscience saddened by the past, and the first half of his existencecontradicted by the last half; he lived peacefully, reassured andtrusting, and having but two thoughts,—to hide his name and sanctifyhis life; escape from men and return to God. These two thoughts were soclosely blended in his mind, that they only formed one; they were bothequally absorbing and imperious, and governed his slightest actions.Usually they agreed to regulate the conduct of his life; they turnedhim toward the shadow; they rendered him beneficent and simple, andthey counselled him the same things. At times, however, there was aconflict between them, and in such cases the man whom the whole townof M—— called Monsieur Madeleine did not hesitate to sacrifice thefirst to the second,—his security to his virtue. Hence, despite allhis caution and prudence, he had kept the Bishop's candlesticks, wornmourning for him, questioned all the little Savoyards who passedthrough the town, inquired after the family at Faverolles, and savedthe life of old Fauchelevent, in spite of the alarming insinuations ofJavert. It seemed, as we have already remarked, that he thought, afterthe example of all those who have been wise, holy, and just, that hisfirst duty was not toward himself.

Still, we are bound to say, nothing like the present had beforeoccurred; never had the two ideas which governed the unhappy man whosesufferings we are describing, entered upon so serious a struggle. Hecomprehended confusedly, but deeply, from the first words which Javertuttered on entering his study. At the moment when the name which hehad buried so deeply was so strangely pronounced, he was struck withstupor, and, as it were, intoxicated by the sinister peculiarity of hisdestiny. And through this stupor he felt that quivering which precedesgreat storms; he bowed like an oak at the approach of a storm, like asoldier before a coming assault. He felt the shadows full of thunderand lightning collecting over his head: while listening to Javert hehad a thought of running off, denouncing himself, taking Champmathieuout of prison, and taking his place. This was painful, like an incisionin the flesh; but it passed away, and he said to himself, "We willsee!" he repressed this first generous movement, and recoiled beforehis heroism.

It would doubtless be grand if, after the Bishop's holy remarks,after so many years of repentance and self-denial, in the midst of apenitence so admirably commenced, this man, even in the presence ofsuch a terrible conjuncture, had not failed for a moment, but continuedto march at the same pace toward this open abyss, at the bottom ofwhich heaven was: this would be grand, but it did not take place. Weare bound to describe all the things that took place in this mind, andcannot say that this was one of them. What carried him away first wasthe instinct of self-preservation. He hastily collected his ideas,stifled his emotion, deferred any resolution with the firmness ofterror, deadened himself against what he had to do, and resumed hiscalmness as a gladiator puts up his buckler. For the remainder of theday he was in the same state,—a hurricane within, a deep tranquillityoutside,—and he only took what may be called "conservative measures."All was still confused and jumbled in his brain; the trouble in it wasso great that he did not see distinctly the outline of any idea, andhe could have said nothing about himself, save that he had received aheavy blow. He went as usual to Fantine's bed of pain, and prolongedhis visit, with a kindly instinct, saying to himself that he mustact thus, and recommend her to the sisters in the event of his beingobliged to go away. He felt vaguely that he must perhaps go to Arras;and, though not the least in the world decided about the journey,he said to himself that, safe from suspicion as he was, there wouldbe no harm in being witness of what might take place, and he hiredScaufflaire's tilbury, in order to be ready for any event.

He dined with considerable appetite, and, on returning to his bed-room,reflected. He examined his situation, and found it extraordinary,—soextraordinary that, in the midst of his reverie, through some almostinexplicable impulse of anxiety, he rose from his chair and boltedhis door. He was afraid lest something might enter, and he barricadedhimself against the possible. A moment after, he blew out his light,for it annoyed him, and he fancied that he might be overseen. By whom?Alas! what he wanted to keep out had entered; what he wished to blindwas looking at him. It was his conscience, that is to say, God. Still,at the first moment, he deceived himself; he had a feeling of securityand solitude. When he put in the bolt, he thought himself impregnable;when the candle was out, he felt himself invisible. He then regainedhis self-possession; and he put his elbows on the table, leaned hishead on his hand, and began dreaming in the darkness.

"Where am I? Am I not dreaming? What was I told? Is it really truethat I saw that Javert, and that he spoke to me so? Who can thisChampmathieu be? It seems he resembles me. Is it possible? When I thinkthat I was so tranquil yesterday, and so far from suspecting anything!What was I doing yesterday at this hour? What will be the result ofthis event? What am I to do?"

Such was the trouble he was in that his brain had not the strength toretain ideas. They passed like waves, and he clutched his forehead withboth hands to stop them. From this tumult which overthrew his wits andreason, and from which he sought to draw an evidence and a resolution,nothing issued but agony. His head was burning; and he went by thewindow and threw it wide open. There were no stars in the heavens, andhe went back to the table and sat down by it. The first hour passedaway thus, but gradually vague features began to shape themselves, andbecome fixed in his thoughts, and he could observe with the precisionof reality some details of the situation, if not its entirety. He beganby noticing that however critical and extraordinary his situation mightbe, he was utterly the master of it, and his stupor was only augmented.

Independently of the stern and religious object he proposed to himselfin his actions, all that he had done up to this day was only a holehe dug in which to bury his name. What he had always most feared, inhis hours of reflection as in his sleepless nights, was ever to hearthat name pronounced. He said to himself that this would be to himthe end of everything; that on the day when that name re-appeared, itwould cause his new life to fade away, and possibly the new soul he hadwithin him. He shuddered at the mere thought that this could happen.Assuredly if any one had told him at such moments that the hour wouldarrive in which this name would echo in his ear, when the hideousname of Jean Valjean would suddenly emerge from the night and risebefore him, when this formidable light which dissipated the mysterywith which he surrounded himself would suddenly shine above his head,and that the name would no longer menace him; that the light wouldproduce only a denser gloom; that this rent veil would increase themystery; that the earthquake would consolidate his edifice; that thisprodigious incident would have no other result, if he thought proper,but to render his existence clearer and yet more impenetrable, and thatfrom his confrontation with the phantom of Jean Valjean, the good andworthy M. Madeleine would come forth more honored, more peaceful, andmore respected than ever,—if any one had told him this, he would haveshaken his head, and considered such talk insane. And yet all thishad really happened, and this heap of impossibilities was a fact, andHeaven had permitted all these wild things to become real.

His reverie continued to grow clearer, and each moment he comprehendedhis position better. It seemed to him that he had just awakened froma dream, and that he was descending an incline in the middle of thenight, shuddering and recoiling in vain from the brink of an abyss.He distinctly saw in the shadows an unknown man, a stranger, whomdestiny took for him, and thrust into the gulf in his place. In orderthat the gulf should close, either he or another must fall in. He hadno necessity to do anything, the clearness became complete, and heconfessed to himself—that his place was vacant at the galleys; that,whatever he might do, it constantly expected him, that the robberyof Little Gervais led him back to it, that this vacant place wouldwait for him and attract him until he filled it, and that this wasinevitable and fatal. And then he said to himself that at this momenthe had a substitute,—that it seemed a man of the name of Champmathieuhad this ill-luck; and that, in future, himself at the bagne in theperson of this Champmathieu, and present in society under the name ofM. Madeleine, would have nothing more to fear, provided that he didnot prevent justice from laying over the head of this Champmathieu thestone of infamy which, like the tombstone, falls once and is neverraised again.

All this was so violent and so strange, that he suddenly felt withinhim that species of indescribable movement which no man experiencesmore than twice or thrice in his life,—a sort of convulsion of theconscience, which disturbs everything doubtful in the heart, whichis composed of irony, joy, and despair, and what might be called aninternal burst of laughter. He suddenly relit his candle.

"Well, what am I afraid of?" he said to himself; "what reason haveI to have such thoughts? I am saved, and all is settled. There wasonly one open door through which my past could burst in upon my life:and that door is now walled up forever. That Javert, who has so longannoyed me, the formidable instinct which seemed to have scented me,and by Heavens! had scented me, the frightful dog ever making a pointat me, is routed, engaged elsewhere, and absolutely thrown out! He ishenceforth satisfied, he will leave me at peace, for he has got hisJean Valjean! It is possible that he may wish to leave the town too.And all this has taken place without my interference, and so, what isthere so unlucky in it all? On my word, any people who saw me wouldbelieve that a catastrophe had befallen me. After all, if some peopleare rendered unhappy, it is no fault of mine. Providence has done itall, and apparently decrees it. Have I the right to derange what Hearranges? What is it that I am going to interfere in? It does notconcern me. What! I am not satisfied? Why! what else can I want? I haveattained the object to which I have been aspiring for so many years,the dream of my nights, the matter of my prayers,—security. It isHeaven that wills it, and I have done nothing contrary to God's desire.And why has Heaven decreed it? That I may continue what I have begun;that I may do good; that I may one day be a grand and encouragingexample; that it may be said that there is after all a little happinessattaching to the penance I have undergone. I really cannot understandwhy I was so afraid just now about visiting that worthy Curé, tellingall to him as to a confessor, and asking his advice, for this iscertainly what he would have advised me. It is settled; I will letmatters take their course, and leave the decision to Heaven."

He spoke this in the depths of his conscience, while leaning over whatmight be called his own abyss. He got up from his chair and walkedabout the room. "Come," he said, "I will think no more of it; I havemade up my mind;" but he felt no joy. It is no more possible to preventthought from reverting to an idea than the sea from returning to theshore. With the sailor this is called the tide, with the culprit itis called remorse; God heaves the soul like the ocean. After a fewmoments, whatever he might do, he resumed the gloomy dialogue in whichit was he who spoke and he who listened, saying what he wished to besilent about, listening to what he did not desire to hear, and yieldingto that mysterious power which said to him "Think," as it did, twothousand years ago, to another condemned man, "Go on."

Before going further, and in order to be fully understood, let us dwellon a necessary observation. It is certain that men talk to themselves;and there is not a thinking being who has not realized the fact. It isonly in this sense that the words frequently employed in this chapter,he said, he exclaimed, must be understood; men talk to themselves,speak to themselves, cry out within themselves, but the externalsilence is not interrupted. There is a grand tumult; everything speaksto us, excepting the mouth. The realities of the soul, for all thatthey are not visible and palpable, are not the less realities. He askedhimself then, what he had arrived at, and cross-questioned himselfabout the resolution he had formed. He confessed to himself that all hehad arranged in his mind was monstrous, and that leaving "God to act"was simply horrible. To allow this mistake of destiny and of men to beaccomplished, not to prevent it, to lend himself to it, do nothing,in short, was to do everything; it was the last stage of hypocriticalindignity! It was a low, cowardly, cunning, abject, hideous crime. Forthe first time during eight years this hapless man had the taste of abad thought and a bad action, and he spat it out in disgust.

He continued to cross-question himself. He asked himself what he hadmeant by the words, "my object is attained"? He allowed that his lifehad an object, but what was its nature?—Conceal his name! deceivethe police. Was it for so paltry a thing that he had done all that hehad effected? Had he not another object which was the great and trueone,—to save not his person, but his soul; to become once again honestand good? To be a just man! was it not that he craved solely, and thatthe Bishop had ordered him? Close the door on his past? But, greatHeaven, he opened it again by committing an infamous action. He wasbecoming a robber once more, and the most odious of robbers! He wasrobbing another man of his existence, his livelihood, his peace, andhis place in the sunshine. He was becoming an assassin, he was killing,morally killing, a wretched man; he was inflicting on him the frightfulliving death, the open-air death, which is called the galleys. On theother hand, if he gave himself up, freed this man who was sufferingfrom so grievous an error, resumed his name, became through duty theconvict Jean Valjean, that would be really completing his resurrection,and eternally closing the hell from which he was emerging! Fallingback into it apparently would be leaving it in reality! He must dothis: he would have done nothing unless he did this; all his lifewould be useless, all his penitence wasted. He felt that the Bishopwas here, that he was the more present because he was dead, that theBishop was steadfastly looking at him, and that henceforth Madeleinethe Mayor would be an abomination to him, and Jean Valjean the convictadmirable and pure in his sight. Men saw his mask, but the Bishop sawhis face; men saw his life, but the Bishop saw his conscience. He mustconsequently go to Arras, deliver the false Jean Valjean, and denouncethe true one. Alas! this was the greatest of sacrifices, the mostpoignant of victories, the last step to take; but he must take it.Frightful destiny his! he could not obtain sanctity in the sight ofHeaven unless he returned to infamy in the sight of man.

"Well," he said, "I will make up my mind to this. I will do my duty andsave this man."

He uttered those words aloud without noticing he had raised his voice.He fetched his books, verified and put them in order. He threw into thefire a number of claims he had upon embarrassed tradesmen, and wrotea letter, which he addressed "To M. Lafitte, banker, Rue d'Artois,Paris." He then took from his desk a pocket-book, which contained afew bank-notes and the passport he had employed just previously to goto the elections. Any one who had seen him while he was accomplishingthese various acts, with which such grave meditation was mingled,would not have suspected what was taking place in him. At moments hislips moved, at others he raised his head and looked at a part of thewall, as if there were something there which he desired to clear up orquestion.

When the letter to M. Lafitte was finished, he put it into hisportfolio, and began his walk once more. His reverie had not deviated;he continued to see his duty clearly written in luminous letterswhich flashed before his eyes, and moved about with his glance, Nameyourself, denounce yourself! He could also see the two ideas whichhad hitherto been the double rule of his life—to hide his name andsanctify his life—moving before him as it were in a tangible shape.For the first time they seemed to him absolutely distinct, and he sawthe difference that separated them. He recognized that one of theseideas was necessarily good, while the other might become bad; that theformer was self-sacrifice, the latter selfishness; that one said, "Myneighbor," the other "Myself;" that one came from the light and theother from darkness. They strove with each other, and he could see themdoing so. While he was thinking, they had grown before his mental eye,and they had now colossal forms, and he fancied he could see a god anda giant wrestling within him, in the infinitude to which we just nowalluded, and in the midst of obscurity and flashes of light. It was ahorrible sight, but it seemed to him as if the good thought gained thevictory. He felt that he was approaching the second decisive moment ofhis life; that the Bishop marked the first phase of his new life, andthat this Champmathieu marked the second; after the great crisis camethe great trial.

The fever, appeased for a moment, gradually returned, however. Athousand thoughts crossed his mind, but they continued to strengthenhim in his resolution. At one moment he said to himself that heperhaps regarded the matter too seriously; that, after all, thisChampmathieu did not concern him, and in any case was a thief. Heanswered himself: If this man has really stolen apples, he will havea month's imprisonment, but that is a long way from the galleys. Andthen, again, is it proved that he has committed a robbery? The name ofJean Valjean is crushing him, and seems to dispense with proofs. Do notpublic prosecutors habitually act in this way? A man is believed to bea thief because he is known to be a convict. At another moment the ideaoccurred to him that, when he had denounced himself, the heroism of hisdeed might perhaps be taken into consideration, as well as his life ofhonesty during the last seven years, and the good he had done the town,and that he would be pardoned. But this supposition soon vanished,and he smiled bitterly at the thought that the robbery of the 40 sousfrom Gervais rendered him a relapsed convict; that this affair wouldcertainly be brought forward, and, by the precise terms of the law,sentence him to the galleys for life.

He turned away from all illusions, detached himself more and morefrom earth, and sought consolation and strength elsewhere. He said tohimself that he must do his duty: that, perhaps, he would not be morewretched after doing it than he would have been had he eluded it: that,if he let matters take their course and remained at M——, his goodname, good deeds, charity, wealth, popularity, and virtue would betainted by a crime; and what flavor would all these sacred things have,when attached to this hideous thought; while, if he accomplished hissacrifice, he would mingle a heavenly idea with the galleys, the chain,the green cap, the unrelaxing toil, and the pitiless shame. At lasthe said to himself that it was a necessity, that his destiny was thusshaped, that he had no power to derange the arrangements of Heaven, andthat in any case he must choose either external virtue and internalabomination, or holiness within and infamy outside him. His couragedid not fail him in revolving so many mournful ideas, but his braingrew weary. He began thinking involuntarily of other and indifferentmatters. His arteries beat violently in his temples, and he was stillwalking up and down; midnight struck, first from the parish church,and then from the Town Hall: he counted the twelve strokes of the twoclocks, and compared the sound of the two bells. They reminded him thata few days before he had seen an old bell at a marine store, on whichwas engraved the name Antoine Albier, Romainville.

As he felt cold, he lit a fire, but did not dream of closing thewindow. Then he fell back into his stupor, obliged to make a mightyeffort to remember what he had been thinking of before midnight struck.At last he succeeded.

"Ah, yes," he said to himself, "I had formed the resolution to denouncemyself."

And then he suddenly began thinking of Fantine.

"Stay," he said; "and that poor woman!"

Here a fresh crisis broke out: Fantine, suddenly appearing in the midstof his reverie, was like a ray of unexpected light. He fancied that allchanged around him, and exclaimed,—

"Wait a minute! Hitherto, I have thought of myself and consulted my ownconvenience. Whether it suits me to be silent or denounce myself—hidemy person or save my soul—be a contemptible and respected Magistrate,or an infamous and venerable convict—it is always self, nought butself. Good heavens! all this is egotism; under different shapes, 't istrue, but still egotism. Suppose I were to think a little about others!It is the first duty of a Christian to think of his neighbor. Well, letme examine: when I am effaced and forgotten, what will become of allthis? If I denounce myself, that Champmathieu will be set at liberty.I shall be sent back to the galleys, and what then? What will occurhere? Here are a town, factories, a trade, work-people, men, women,old grandfathers, children, and poor people: I have created all this.I keep it all alive: wherever there is a chimney smoking, I placedthe brand in the fire and the meat in the pot: I have produced easycirc*mstances, circulation, and credit. Before I came there was nothingof all this; I revived, animated, fertilized, stimulated, and enrichedthe whole district. When I am gone the soul will be gone; if I withdrawall will die; and then, this woman, who has suffered so greatly, whohas so much merit in her fall, and whose misfortune I unwittinglycaused, and the child which I intended to go and fetch, and restore tothe mother—Do not I also owe something to this woman in reparation ofthe wrong which I have done her? If I disappear, what will happen? Themother dies, and the child will become what it can. This will happen ifI denounce myself. If I do not denounce myself? Come, let me see."

After asking himself this question, he hesitated, and trembledslightly; but this emotion lasted but a short time, and he answeredhimself calmly:—

"Well, this man will go to the galleys, it is true, but, hang it all!he has stolen. Although I may say to myself that he has not stolen, hehas done so! I remain here and continue my operations: in ten yearsI shall have gained ten millions. I spread them over the country.I keep nothing for myself; but what do I care? I am not doing thisfor myself. The prosperity of all is increased; trades are revived,factories and forges are multiplied, and thousands of families arehappy; the district is populated; villages spring up where there areonly farms, and farms where there is nothing; wretchedness disappears,and with it debauchery, prostitution, robbery, murder, all the vices,all the crimes—and this poor mother brings up her child. Why, I wasmad, absurd, when I talked about denouncing myself, and I must guardagainst precipitation. What! because it pleases me to play the grandand the generous—it is pure melodrama after all—because I onlythought of myself, and in order to save from a perhaps exaggeratedthough substantially just punishment a stranger, a thief, and anapparent scoundrel—a whole department must perish, a poor woman diein the hospital, and a poor child starve in the streets, like dogs!Why, it is abominable! without the mother seeing her child again, orthe child knowing her mother! and all this on behalf of an old scamp ofan apple-stealer, who has assuredly deserved the galleys for somethingelse, if not for that. These are fine scruples that save a culpritand sacrifice the innocent; that save an old vagabond who has notmany years to live, and will not be more unhappy at the galleys thanin his hovel, and destroy an entire population,—mothers, wives, andchildren. That poor little Cosette, who has only me in the world, andis doubtless at this moment shivering with cold in the den of thoseThénardiers. There is another pair of wretches. And I would fail inmy duties to all these poor creatures, and commit such a folly as todenounce myself! Let us put things at the worst: suppose that I amcommitting a bad action in this, and that my conscience reproaches mewith it some day; there will be devotion and virtue in accepting, forthe good of my neighbor, these reproaches, which only weigh on me, andthis bad action, which only compromises my own soul."

He got up and began walking up and down again: this time he seemed tobe satisfied with himself. Diamonds are only found in the darkness ofthe earth; truths are only found in the depths of thought. It seemedto him that after descending into these depths, after groping forsome time in the densest of this darkness, he had found one of thesediamonds, one of these truths, which he held in his hand and whichdazzled his eyes when he looked at it.

"Yes," he thought, "I am on the right track and hold the solutionof the problem. A man must in the end hold on to something, and mymind is made up. I will let matters take their course, so no morevacillation or backsliding. It is for the interest of all, not ofmyself. I am Madeleine, and remain Madeleine, and woe to the man whois Jean Valjean. I am no longer he. I do not know that man, and if anyone happen to be Jean Valjean at this moment, he must look out forhimself, for it does not concern me. It is a fatal name that floats inthe night, and if it stop and settle on a head, all the worse for thathead."

He looked into the small looking-glass over the mantel-piece, and saidto himself,—

"How greatly has forming a resolution relieved me! I am quite adifferent man at present."

He walked a little way and then stopped short. "Come," he said, "I mustnot hesitate before any of the consequences of the resolution I haveformed. There are threads which still attach me to Jean Valjean whichmust be broken. There are in this very room objects which would accuseme,—dumb things which would serve as witnesses, and they must alldisappear."

He took his purse from his pocket, and drew a small key out of it.He put this key in a lock, the hole of which could scarcely be seen,for it was hidden in the darkest part of the design on the paper thatcovered the walls. A sort of false cupboard made between the corner ofthe wall and the mantel-piece was visible. In this hiding-place therewere only a few rags,—a blue blouse, worn trousers, an old knapsack,and a large thorn-stick shod with iron at both ends. Any one who sawJean Valjean pass through D—— in October, 1815, would easily haverecognized all these wretched articles. He had preserved them, as hehad done the candlesticks, that they might constantly remind him of hisstarting-point; still he hid what came from the galleys, and displayedthe candlesticks which came from the Bishop. He took a furtive glanceat the door, as if afraid that it might open in spite of the bolt; andthen with a rapid movement he made but one armful of the things he hadso religiously and perilously kept for so many years, and threw themall—rags, stick, and knapsack—into the fire. He closed the cupboard,and, redoubling his precautions, which were now useless since it wasempty, dragged a heavy piece of furniture in front of it. In a fewseconds, the room and opposite wall were lit up with a large red andflickering glow; all was burning, and the thorn-stick crackled andthrew out sparks into the middle of the room. From the knapsack, as itburned with all the rags it contained, fell something that glistened inthe ashes. On stooping it could be easily recognized as a coin; it wasdoubtless the little Savoyard's two-franc piece. He did not look at thefire, and continued his walk backwards and forwards. All at once hiseye fell on the two candlesticks which the fire-light caused to shinevaguely on the mantel-piece.

"Stay," he thought, "all Jean Valjean is in them, and they must bedestroyed too."

He seized the candlesticks—there was a fire large enough to destroytheir shape, and convert them into unrecognizable ingots. He leanedover the hearth and wanned his hands for a moment; it was a greatcomfort to him.

He stirred up the ashes with one of the candlesticks, and in a momentthey were both in the fire. All at once he fancied he heard a voice crywithin him, "Jean Valjean! Jean Valjean!" His hair stood erect, and hebecame like a man who is listening to a terrible thing.

"Yes, that is right; finish!" the voice said: "complete what you areabout; destroy those candlesticks, annihilate that reminiscence! forgetthe Bishop! forget everything! rain that Champmathieu; that is right.Applaud yourself; come, all is settled and resolved on. This old man,who does not know what they want with him, who is perhaps innocent,whose whole misfortune your name causes, on whom your name weighs likea crime, is going to be taken for you, sentenced, and will end hisdays in abjectness and horror. That is excellent! Be an honest manyourself; remain Mayor, honorable and honored, enrich the town, assistthe indigent, bring up orphans, live happy, virtuous, and applauded;and during this time, while you are here in joy and light, there willbe somebody who wears your red jacket, bears your name in ignominy,and drags along your chain at the galleys. Yes, that is excellentlyarranged. Oh, you scoundrel!"

The perspiration beaded on his forehead, and he fixed his haggard eyeupon the candlesticks. The voice within him, however, had not ended yet.

"Jean Valjean! there will be around you many voices making a greatnoise, speaking very loud and blessing you, and one which no one willhear, and which will curse you in the darkness. Well, listen, infamousman! all these blessings will fall back on the ground before reachingHeaven, and the curse alone will ascend to God!"

This voice, at first very faint, and which spoke from the obscurestnook of his conscience, had gradually become sonorous and formidable,and he now heard it in his ear. He fancied that it was not his ownvoice, and he seemed to hear the last words so distinctly that helooked round the room with a species of terror.

"Is there any one here?" he asked, in a loud voice and wildly.

Then he continued with a laugh, which seemed almost idiotic,—

"What a fool I am! there can be nobody."

There was somebody, but not of those whom the human eye can see. Heplaced the candlesticks on the mantel-piece, and then resumed thatmelancholy, mournful walk, which aroused the sleeper underneath him.This walking relieved him, and at the same time intoxicated him. Itappears sometimes as if on supreme occasions people move about toask advice of everything they pass. At the end of a few moments heno longer knew what result to arrive at. He now recoiled with equalhorror from the two resolutions he had formed in turn; the two ideasthat counselled him seemed each as desperate as the other. What afatality that this Champmathieu should be taken for him! He was hurleddown precisely by the means which Providence at first seemed to haveemployed to strengthen his position.

There was a moment during which he regarded his future. Denouncehimself! great Heavens! give himself up! He thought with immensedespair of all that he must give up, of all that he must resume. Hewould be forced to bid adieu to this good, pure, radiant life,—to therespect of all classes,—to honor, to liberty! He would no longer walkabout the fields, he would no longer hear the birds sing in May, orgive alms to the little children! He would no longer feel the sweetnessof glances of gratitude and love fixed upon him! He would leave thislittle house, which he had built, and his little bed-room. All appearedcharming to him at this moment. He would no longer read those books orwrite at the little deal table; his old servant would no longer bringup his coffee in the morning. Great God! instead of all this, therewould be the gang, the red jacket, the chain on his foot, fatigue, thedungeon, the camp-bed, and all the horrors he knew! At his age, afterall he had borne! It would be different were he still young. But to beold, coarsely addressed by anybody, searched by the jailer, and receiveblows from the keeper's stick! to thrust his naked feet into iron-shodshoes! to offer his leg morning and night to the man who examines thefetters! to endure the curiosity of strangers who would be told, "Thatis the famous Jean Valjean, who was Mayor of M——!" at night, whenpouring with perspiration, and crushed by fatigue, with a green capon his head, to go up two by two, under the sergeants whip, the sideladder of the hulks! Oh, what misery! Destiny, then, can be as wickedas an intelligent being and prove as monstrous as the human heart!

And whatever he might do, he ever fell back into this crushing dilemma,which was the basis of his reverie,—remain in paradise, and becomea demon there; or re-enter hell, and become an angel? What shouldhe do? Great God! what should he do? The trouble, from which he hadescaped with such difficulty, was again let loose on him, and histhoughts became composed once more. They assumed something stupefiedand mechanical, which is peculiar to despair. The name of Romainvilleincessantly returned to his mind, with two lines of a song which hehad formerly heard. He remembered that Romainville is a little wood,near Paris, where lovers go to pick lilac in April. He tottered bothexternally and internally; he walked like a little child allowed togo alone. At certain moments, he struggled against his lassitude,and tried to recapture his intelligence; he tried to set himself,for the last time, the problem over which he had fallen in a stateof exhaustion,—must he denounce himself, or must he be silent? Hecould not succeed in seeing anything distinct, the vague outlines ofall the reasonings sketched in by his reverie were dissipated in turnlike smoke. Still, he felt that, however he resolved, and without anypossibility of escape, something belonging to him was about to die;that he entered a sepulchre, whether on his right hand or his left, andthat either his happiness or his virtue would be borne to the grave.

Alas! all his irresolution had seized him again, and he was no furtheradvanced than at the beginning. Thus the wretched soul writhed inagony! Eighteen hundred years before this unhappy man, the mysteriousbeing in whom are embodied all the sanctities and sufferings ofhumanity had also, while the olive-trees shuddered in the fierce windof the infinite, long put away with his hand the awful cup whichappeared to him, dripping with shadow and overflowing with darkness inthe starry depths.



Three A.M. had struck, and he had been walking about in this wayfor five hours without a break, when he fell into his chair. He fellasleep, and had a dream. This dream, like most dreams, was onlyconnected with his situation by something poignant and mournful, but itmade an impression on him. This nightmare struck him so much that hewrote it down at a later date, and we think we are bound to transcribeit verbatim; for whatever the history of this man may be, it would beincomplete if we omitted it. Here it is then; on the envelope we noticethe line,—The dream I had on that night.

"I was upon a plain, a large mournful plain, on which nograss grew. It did not seem to me to be day, but it wasnot night. I was walking with my brother, the brother ofmy boyish years, of whom I am bound to say I never think,and whom I scarce remember. We were talking, and mettravellers. We spoke about a woman, formerly a neighbor ofours, who had always worked with her window open, sinceshe had occupied a front room. While talking, we felt coldon account of this open window. There were no trees on theplain. We saw a man pass close by us; he was a perfectlynaked man, of the color of ashes, mounted on a horse of anearthen color. The man had no hair, and I could see hisskull, and the veins on his skull. He held in his hand awand, which was supple as a vine-twig and heavy as lead.This horseman passed and said nothing to us.

"My brother said to me: 'Let us turn into the hollow way.'

"It was a hollow way in which not a bramble or even apatch of moss could be seen; all was earth-colored, eventhe sky. After going a few yards, I received no answerwhen I spoke, and I noticed that my brother was no longerwith me. I entered a village that I saw, and I fanciedthat it must be Romainville. The first street I enteredwas deserted; I entered a second street, and behind theangle formed by the two streets a man was standing againstthe wall. I asked this man, "What is this place? where amI?" but he gave me no answer. I saw the door of a houseopen, and walked in.

"The first room was deserted, and I entered a second.Behind the door of this room there was a man leaningagainst the wall. I asked him, "To whom does this housebelong? where am I?" but the man gave me no answer. I wentout into the garden of the house, and it was deserted.Behind the first tree I found a man standing; I said tothe man, "Whose is this garden? where am I?" but he mademe no answer.

"I wandered about this village and fancied that it was atown. All the streets were deserted, all the doors open.Not a living soul passed along the street, moved in therooms, or walked in the gardens. But there was behindevery corner, every door, and every tree, a man standingsilently. I never saw more than one at a time, and thesem*n looked at me as I passed.

"I left the village and began walking about the fields.At the end of some time I turned back and saw a greatcrowd coming after me. I recognized all the men whom I hadseen in the town, and they had strange heads. They didnot appear to be in a hurry, and yet they walked fasterthan I, and made no noise in walking. In an instant thiscrowd joined me and surrounded me. The faces of these menwere earth-colored. Then the man I had seen first andquestioned when I entered the town said to me, "Where areyou going? do you not know that you have been dead for along time?" I opened my mouth to answer, and I perceivedthat there was no one near me."

He woke up, chilled to the marrow, for a wind, cold as the morningbreeze, was shaking the open window. The fire had died away, thecandle was nearly burned out, and it was still black night. He roseand went to the window; there were still no stars in the sky. From hiswindow he could see the yard and his street, and a dry sharp sound onthe ground below him induced him to look out. He saw two red starswhose rays lengthened and shortened curiously in the gloom. As hismind was half submerged in the mist of dreams, he thought, "There areno stars in the sky: they are on the earth now." A second sound likethe first completely woke him, and he perceived that those two starswere carriage lamps, and by the light which they projected he coulddistinguish the shape of the vehicle; it was a tilbury, in which asmall white horse was harnessed. The sound he had heard was the pawingof the horse's hoof on the ground.

"What's the meaning of this conveyance?" he said to himself. "Who canhave come at so early an hour?"

At this moment there was a gentle tap at his bed-room door; heshuddered from head to foot, and shouted in a terrible voice, "Who'sthere?"

Some one replied, "I, sir," and he recognized his old servant's voice.

"Well," he continued, "what is it?"

"It is getting on for four o'clock, sir."

"What has that to do with me?"

"The tilbury has come, sir."

"What tilbury?"

"Did you not order one?"

"No," he said.

"The ostler says that he has come to fetch M. le Maire."

"What ostler?"

"M. Scaufflaire's."

This name made him start as if a flash of lightning had passed beforehis eyes.

"Ah, yes," he repeated, "M. Scaufflaire."

Could the old woman have seen him at this moment, she would have beenhorrified. There was a lengthened silence, during which he stupidlyexamined the candle flame and rolled up some of the wax in his fingers.The old woman, who was waiting, at length mustered up courage to raiseher voice again.

"M. le Maire, what answer am I to give?"

"Say it is quite right, and that I shall be down directly."



The letter-bags between Arras and M—— were still carried in smallmail-carts, dating from the Empire. They were two-wheeled vehicles,lined with tawny leather, hung on springs, and having only two seats,one for the driver, and another for a passenger. The wheels were armedwith those long offensive axle-trees, which kept other carriages ata distance, and may still be seen on German roads. The compartmentfor the bags was an immense oblong box at the back; it was paintedblack, and the front part was yellow. These vehicles, like which wehave nothing at the present day, had something ugly and humpbackedabout them, and when you saw them pass at a distance or creeping up ahill on the horizon, they resembled those insects called, we think,termites, and which with a small body drag a heavy burden after them.They went very fast, however, and the mail which left Arras at one inthe morning, after the Paris mail had arrived, reached M—— a littlebefore five A.M.

On this morning, the mail-cart, just as it entered M——, and whileturning a corner, ran into a tilbury drawn by a white horse, coming inthe opposite direction, and in which there was only one sitter, a manwrapped in a cloak. The wheel of the tilbury received a rather heavyblow, and though the driver of the mail-cart shouted to the man tostop, he did not listen, but went on at a smart trot.

"The man is in a deuce of a hurry," said the courier.

The man in this hurry was he whom we have just seen struggling inconvulsions, assuredly deserving of pity. Where was he going? He couldnot have told. Why was he hurrying? He did not know. He was goingonwards unthinkingly. Where to? Doubtless to Arras; but he might alsobe going elsewhere.

He buried himself in the darkness as in a gulf. Something urged himon; something attracted him. What was going on in him no one couldtell, but all will understand it,—for what man has not entered, atleast once in his life, this obscure cavern of the unknown? However,he had settled, decided, and done nothing; not one of the acts of hisconscience had been definitive, and he was still as unsettled as at thebeginning.

Why was he going to Arras? He repeated what he had already said onhiring the gig of Scaufflaire—that, whatever the result might be,there would be no harm in seeing with his own eyes, and judging mattersfor himself—that this was prudent; and he was bound to know what wasgoing on—that he could not decide anything till he had observed andexamined—that, at a distance, a man made mountains of molehills—thatafter all, when he had seen this Champmathieu, his conscience wouldprobably be quietly relieved, and he could let the scoundrel go to thegalleys in his place: that Javert would be there and the three convictswho had known him,—but, nonsense! they would not recognize him, forall conjectures and suppositions were fixed on this Champmathieu, andthere is nothing so obstinate as conjectures and suppositions,—andthat hence he incurred no danger. It was doubtless a black moment,but he would emerge from it. After all, he held his destiny, howeveradverse it might try to be, in his own hands, and was master of it. Heclung wildly to the latter thought.

Although, to tell the whole truth, he would have preferred not to goto Arras, yet he went. While reflecting he lashed the horse, whichwas going at that regular and certain trot which covers two leaguesand a half in an hour; and as the gig advanced, he felt somethingwithin him recoil. At day-break he was in the open country, and thetown of M—— was far behind him. He watched the horizon grow white;he looked, without seeing them, at all the cold figures of a winterdawn. Morning has its spectres like night. He did not see them, butunconsciously, and through a sort of almost physical penetration, theseblack outlines of trees and hills added something gloomy and sinisterto the violent state of his soul. Each time that he passed one of thoseisolated houses which skirt high roads, he said to himself: "And yetthere are people asleep in them." The trot of the horse, the bells onthe harness, the wheels on the stones, produced a gentle and monotonoussound, which is delightful when you are merry, and mournful when youare sad.

It was broad daylight when he reached Hesdin, and he stopped at the innto let the horse breathe and give it a feed. This horse, as Scaufflairehad said, belonged to that small Boulonnais breed, which has too largea head, too much stomach, and not enough neck, but which also has awide crupper, lean, slender legs, and a solid hoof: it is an uglybut strong and healthy breed. The capital little beast had done fiveleagues in two hours, and had not turned a hair.

He did not get out of the tilbury; the ostler who brought the oatssuddenly stooped down and examined the left wheel.

"Are you going far in this state?" the man said.

He answered almost without emerging from his reverie,—

"Why do you ask?"

"Have you come any distance?" the ostler continued.

"Five leagues."


"Why do you say, 'Ah'?"

The ostler bent down again, remained silent for a moment, with his eyefixed on the wheel, and then said as he drew himself up,—

"Because this wheel, which may have gone five leagues, cannot possiblygo another mile."

He jumped out of the tilbury.

"What are you saying, my friend?"

"I say that it is a miracle you and your horse did not roll into aditch by the road-side. Just look."

The wheel was, in fact, seriously damaged. The blow dealt it by themail-cart had broken two spokes, and almost carried away the axle-tree.

"My good fellow," he said to the ostler, "is there a wheelwright here?"

"Of course, sir."

"Be good enough to go and fetch him."

"He lives close by. Hilloh, Master Bourgaillard."

Master Bourgaillard was standing in his doorway: he examined the wheel,and made a face like a surgeon regarding a broken leg.

"Can you mend this wheel?"

"Yes, sir."

"When can I start again?"

"To-morrow: there is a good day's work. Are you in a hurry, sir?"

"In a great hurry: I must set out again in an hour at the latest."

"It is impossible, sir."

"I will pay anything you ask."


"Well, in two hours?"

"It is impossible for to-day; you will not be able to go on tillto-morrow."

"My business cannot wait till to-morrow. Suppose, instead of mendingthis wheel, you were to put another on?"

"How so?"

"You are a wheelwright, and have probably a wheel you can sell me, andthen I could set out again directly."

"I have no ready-made wheel to suit your gig, for wheels are sold inpairs, and it is not easy to match one."

"In that case, sell me a pair of wheels."

"All wheels, sir, do not fit all axle-trees."

"At any rate try."

"It is useless, sir; I have only cart-wheels for sale, for ours is asmall place."

"Have you a gig I can hire?"

The wheelwright had noticed at a glance that the tilbury was a hiredvehicle; he shrugged his shoulders.

"You take such good care of gigs you hire, that if I had one I wouldnot let it to you."

"Well, one to sell me?"

"I have not one."

"What, not a tax-cart? I am not particular, as you see."

"This is a small place. I have certainly," the wheelwright added, "anold calèche in my stable, which belongs to a person in the town, andwho uses it on the thirty-sixth of every month. I could certainly letit out to you, for it is no concern of mine, but the owner must not seeit pass; and besides, it is a calèche, and will want two horses."

"I will hire post-horses."

"Where are you going to, sir?"

"To Arras."

"And you wish to arrive to-day?"


"By taking post-horses?"

"Why not?"

"Does it make any difference to you if you reach Arras at four o'clockto-morrow morning?"

"Of course it does."

"There is one thing to be said about hiring post-horses; have you yourpassport, sir?"


"Well, if you take post-horses, you will not reach Arras beforeto-morrow. We are on a cross-country road. The relays are badly served,and the horses are out at work. This is the ploughing season, andas strong teams are required, horses are taken anywhere, from thepost-houses like the rest. You will have to wait three or four hours,sir, at each station, and only go at a foot-pace, for there are manyhills to ascend."

"Well, I will ride. Take the horse out. I suppose I can purchase asaddle here?"

"Of course, but will this horse carry a saddle?"

"No, I remember now that it will not."

"In that case—"

"But surely I can hire a saddle-horse in the village?"

"What! to go to Arras without a break?"


"You would want a horse such as is not to be found in these parts. Inthe first place, you would have to buy it, as you are a stranger, butyou would not find one to buy or hire for five hundred francs,—not fora thousand."

"What is to be done?"

"The best thing is to let me mend the wheel and put off your journeytill to-morrow."

"To-morrow will be too late."

"Hang it!"

"Is there not the Arras mail-cart? When does that pass?"

"Not till to-night."

"What! you will take a whole day in mending that wheel?"

"An honest day."

"Suppose you employed two workmen?"

"Ay, if I had ten."

"Suppose the spokes were tied with cords?"

"What is to be done with the axle? Besides, the felloe is in a badstate."

"Is there any one who lets out vehicles in the town?"


"Is there another wheelwright?"

The ostler and the wheelwright replied simultaneously—,


He felt an immense joy, for it was evident that Providence wasinterfering. Providence had broken the tilbury wheel and stopped hisjourney. He had not yielded to this species of first summons; he hadmade every possible effort to continue his journey; he had loyally andscrupulously exhausted all resources; he had not recoiled before theseason, fatigue, or expense; and he had nothing to reproach himselfwith. If he did not go farther, it did not concern him; it was not hisfault, it was not the doing of his conscience, but of Providence. Hebreathed freely and fully for the first time since Javert's visit. Hefelt as if the iron hand which had been squeezing his heart for twentyhours had relaxed its grasp; God now appeared to be on his side, anddeclared Himself openly. He said to himself that he had done all in hispower, and at present need only return home quietly.

Had the conversation with the wheelwright taken place in an inn-room,it would probably have not been heard by any one,—matters would haveremained in this state, and we should probably not have had to recordany of the following events; but the conversation took place in thestreet. Any colloquy in the street inevitably produces a crowd, forthere are always people who only ask to be spectators. While he wasquestioning the wheelwright, some passers-by stopped around, and a ladto whom no one paid any attention, after listening for some moments,ran off. At the instant when the traveller made up his mind to turnback, this boy returned, accompanied by an old woman.

"Sir," the woman said, "my boy tells me that you wish to hire aconveyance?"

This simple remark, made by an old woman led by a child, made theperspiration pour down his back. He fancied he saw the hand which hadlet him loose reappear in the shadow behind him, ready to clutch himagain. He replied,—

"Yes, my good woman, I want to hire a gig."

And he hastily added, "But there is not one in the town."

"Yes there is," said the old woman.

"Where?" the wheelwright remarked.

"At my house," the old crone answered.

He gave a start, for the fatal hand had seized him again. The poorwoman really had a sort of wicker-cart under a shed. The wheelwrightand the ostler, sorry to see the traveller escape them, interfered:—

"It was a frightful rattle-trap, and had no springs,—it is a factthat the inside seats were hung with leathern straps—the rain got intoit—the wheels were rusty, and ready to fall to pieces—it would not gomuch farther than the tilbury—the gentleman had better not get intoit,"—and so on.

All this was true; but the rattle-trap, whatever it might be, rolledon two wheels, and could go to Arras. He paid what was asked, leftthe tilbury to be repaired against his return, had the horse put intothe cart, got in, and went his way. At the moment when the cart movedahead, he confessed to himself that an instant before he had felt asort of joy at the thought that he could not continue his journey. Heexamined this joy with a sort of passion, and found it absurd. Why didhe feel joy at turning back? After all, he was making this journey ofhis free will, and no one forced him to do so. And assuredly nothingcould happen, except what he liked. As he was leaving Hesdin, he hearda voice shouting to him, "Stop, stop!" He stopped the cart with ahurried movement in which there was something feverish and convulsivethat resembled joy. It was the old woman's boy.

"Sir," he said, "it was I who got you the cart."


"You have given me nothing."

He who gave to all, and so easily, considered this demand exorbitant,and almost odious.

"Oh, it's you, scamp," he said; "well, you will not have anything."

He flogged his horse, which started again at a smart trot. He had lostmuch time at Hesdin, and would have liked to recover it. The littlehorse was courageous, and worked for two; but it was February, ithad been raining, and the roads were bad. The cart too ran much moreheavily than the tilbury, and there were numerous ascents. He tooknearly four hours in going from Hesdin to St. Pol: four hours forfive leagues! At St. Pol he pulled up at the first inn he came to,and had the horse put in a stable. As he had promised Scaufflaire, hestood near the crib while it was eating, and had troubled and confusedthoughts. The landlady entered the stable.

"Do you not wish to breakfast, sir?"

"It is true," said he, "I am very hungry."

He followed the woman, who had a healthy, ruddy face; she led him to aground-floor room, in which were tables covered with oil-cloth.

"Make haste," he remarked, "for I am in a great hurry."

A plump Flemish servant-girl hastened to lay the cloth, and he lookedat her with a feeling of comfort.

"That was the trouble," he thought; "I had not breakfasted."

He pounced upon the bread, bit a mouthful, and then slowly laid it backon the table, and did not touch it again. A wagoner was sitting atanother table, and he said to him,—

"Why is their bread so bitter?"

The wagoner was a German, and did not understand him; he returned tohis horse. An hour later he had left St. Pol, and was proceeding towardTinques, which is only five leagues from Arras. What did he do duringthe drive? What was he thinking of? As in the morning, he looked atthe trees, the roofs, the ploughed fields, and the diversities of alandscape which every turn in the road changes, as he passed them. Tosee a thousand different objects for the first and last time is mostmelancholy! Travelling is birth and death at every moment. Perhapsin the vaguest region of his mind he made a comparison between thechanging horizon and human existence, for everything in this life iscontinually flying before us. Shadow and light are blended; after adazzling comes an eclipse; every event is a turn in the road, and allat once you are old. You feel something like a shock, all is black,you distinguish an obscure door, and the gloomy horse of life whichdragged you, stops, and you see a veiled, unknown form unharnessing it.Twilight was setting in at the moment when the school-boys, leavingschool, saw this traveller enter Tinques. He did not halt there, but ashe left the village, a road-mender, who was laying stones, raised hishead, and said to him,—

"Your horse is very tired."

The poor brute, in fact, could not get beyond a walk.

"Are you going to Arras?" the road-mender continued.


"If you go at that pace, you will not reach it very soon."

He stopped his horse, and asked the road-mender—,

"How far is it from here to Arras?"

"Nearly seven long leagues."

"How so? The post-book says only five and a quarter leagues."

"Ah" the road-mender continued, "you do not know that the road is underrepair; you will find it cut up about a mile farther on, and it isimpossible to pass."


"You must take the road on the left, that runs to Carency, and crossthe river; when you reach Camblin you will turn to the right, for it isthe Mont St. Eloy road that runs to Arras."

"But I shall lose my way in the dark."

"You do not belong to these parts?"


"And it is a cross-road; stay, sir," the road-mender continued; "willyou let me give you a piece of advice? Your horse is tired, so returnto Tinques, where there is a good inn; sleep there, and go to Arrasto-morrow."

"I must be there to-night."

"That is different. In that case go back to the inn all the same, andhire a second horse. The stable boy will act as your guide across thecountry."

He took the road-mender's advice, turned back, and half an hour afterpassed the same spot at a sharp trot with a strong second horse. Astable lad, who called himself a postilion, was sitting on the shaftsof the cart. Still he felt that he had lost time, for it was now dark.They entered the cross-road, and it soon became frightful; the carttumbled from one rut into another, but he said to the postilion,—

"Keep on at a trot, and I will give you a double fee."

In one of the jolts the whipple-tree broke.

"The whipple-tree is broken, sir," said the postilion, "and I do notknow how to fasten my horse, and the road is very bad by night. If youwill go back and sleep at Tinques, we can get to Arras at an early hourto-morrow."

He answered, "Have you a piece of rope and a knife?"

"Yes, sir."

He cut a branch and made a whipple-tree; it was a further loss oftwenty minutes, but they started again at a gallop. The plain wasdark, and a low, black fog was creeping over the hills. A heavy wind,which came from the sea, made in all the corners of the horizon anoise like that of furniture being moved. All that he could see hadan attitude of terror, for how many things shudder beneath the mightybreath of night! The cold pierced him, for he had eaten nothing sincethe previous morning. He vaguely recalled his other night-excursion, onthe great plain of D—— eight years before, and it seemed to him tobe yesterday. A clock struck from a distant steeple, and he asked thelad,—

"What o'clock is that?"

"Seven, sir, and we shall be at Arras by eight, for we have only threeleagues to go."

At this moment he made for the first time this reflection—andconsidered it strange that it had not occurred to him before—that allthe trouble he was taking was perhaps thrown away; he did not even knowthe hour for the trial, and he might at least have asked about that; itwas extravagant to go on thus, without knowing if it would be of anyservice. Then he made some mental calculations: usually the sittings ofassize courts began at nine o'clock; this matter would not occupy muchtime, the theft of the apples would be easily proved, and then therewould be merely the identification, four or five witnesses to hear, andlittle for counsel to say. He would arrive when it was all over.

The postilion flogged the horses; they had crossed the river and leftMont St Hoy behind them; the night was growing more and more dark.



At this very moment Fantine was joyful. She had passed a very badnight, she had coughed fearfully, and her fever had become worse. Inthe morning, when the physician paid his visit, she was raving; he feltalarmed, and begged to be sent for so soon as M. Madeleine arrived.All the morning she was gloomy, said little, and made folds in sheets,while murmuring in a low voice, and calculating what seemed to bedistances. Her eyes were hollow and fixed, they seemed almost extinct,and then, at moments, they were relit, and flashed like stars. It seemsas if, on the approach of a certain dark hour, the brightness of heavenfills those whom the brightness of earth is quitting. Each time thatSister Simplice asked her how she was, she invariably answered, "Well,but I should like to see M. Madeleine."

A few months previously, at the time when Fantine lost her lastmodesty, her last shame, and her last joy, she was the shadow ofherself: now she was the ghost. Physical suffering had completed thework of moral suffering. This creature of five-and-twenty years ofa*ge had a wrinkled forehead, sunken cheeks, a pinched nose, a leadencomplexion, a bony neck, projecting shoulder-blades, thin limbs, anearthy skin, and white hairs were mingled with the auburn. Alas! howillness improvises old age! At mid-day, the physician returned, wrote aprescription, inquired whether M. Madeleine had been to the infirmary,and shook his head. M. Madeleine usually came at three o'clock, andas punctuality was kindness, he was punctual. At about half-past twoFantine began to grow agitated, and in the next twenty minutes askedthe nun more than ten times, "What o'clock is it?"

Three o'clock struck: at the third stroke Fantine, who usually couldscarce move in her bed, sat up; she clasped her thin yellow hands in asort of convulsive grasp, and the nun heard one of those deep sighs,which seem to remove a crushing weight, burst from her chest. ThenFantine turned and looked at the door: but no one entered, and the doorwas not opened. She remained thus for a quarter of an hour, with hereyes fixed on the door, motionless, and holding her breath. The nun didnot dare speak to her, and as the clock struck the quarter, Fantinefell back on her pillow. She said nothing, and began again making foldsin the sheet. The half-hour passed, then the hour, and no one came.Each time the clock struck Fantine sat up, looked at the door, and thenfell back again. Her thoughts could be clearly read, but she did notsay a word, complain, or make any accusation: she merely coughed in asad way. It seemed as if something dark was settling down on her, forshe was livid and her lips were blue. She smiled every now and then.

When five o'clock struck, the nun heard her say very softly andsweetly, "As I am going away to-morrow, it was wrong of him not to cometo-day." Sister Simplice herself was surprised at M. Madeleine's delay.In the mean while Fantine looked up at the top of her bed, and seemedto be trying to remember something: all at once she began singing ina voice faint as a sigh. It was an old cradle-song with which she hadin former times lulled her little Cosette to sleep, and which had notonce recurred to her during the five years she had been parted from herchild. She sang with so sad a voice and to so soft an air, that it wasenough to make any one weep, even a nun. The sister, who was accustomedto austere things, felt a tear in her eye. The clock struck, andFantine did not seem to hear it: she appeared not to pay any attentionto things around her. Sister Simplice sent a servant-girl to inquire ofthe portress of the factory whether M. Madeleine had returned and wouldbe at the infirmary soon: the girl came back in a few minutes. Fantinewas still motionless and apparently engaged with her own thoughts. Theservant told Sister Simplice in a very low voice that the Mayor hadset off before six o'clock that morning in a small tilbury; that hehad gone alone, without a driver; that no one knew what direction hehad taken, for while some said they had seen him going along the Arrasroad, others declared they had met him on the Paris road. He was, asusual, very gentle, and he had merely told his servant she need notexpect him that night.

While the two women were whispering with their backs turned to Fantine,the sister questioning, and the servant conjecturing, Fantine, withthe feverish vivacity of certain organic maladies which blend the freemovements of health with the frightful weakness of death, had knelt inbed, with her two clenched hands supported by the pillow, and listenedwith her head thrust between the curtains. All at once she cried,—

"You are talking about M. Madeleine: why do you whisper? What is hedoing, and why does he not come?"

Her voice was so loud and hoarse that the two women fancied it a man'svoice, and they turned round in alarm.

"Answer!" Fantine cried.

The servant stammered,—

"The portress told me that he could not come to-day."

"My child," the sister said, "be calm and lie down again."

Fantine, without changing her attitude, went on in a loud voice andwith an accent at once imperious and heart-rending,—

"He cannot come: why not? You know the reason. You were whispering itto one another, and I insist on knowing."

The servant hastily whispered in the nun's ear, "Tell her that he isengaged at the Municipal Council."

Sister Simplice blushed slightly, for it was a falsehood that theservant proposed to her. On the other hand it seemed to her thattelling the patient the truth would doubtless deal her a terrible blow,and this was serious in Fantine's present condition. The blush lastedbut a little while: the sister fixed her calm sad eye on Fantine, andsaid,—

"The Mayor is gone on a journey."

Fantine rose and sat up on her heels, her eyes sparkled, and anineffable joy shone on her sad face.

"He has gone to fetch Cosette," she exclaimed.

Then she raised her hands to heaven, and her lips moved: she waspraying. When she had finished she said, "My sister, I am willing tolie down again and do everything you wish: I was naughty just now.I ask your pardon for having spoken so loud, for I know that it waswrong, good sister; but, look you, I am so happy. God is good, and M.Madeleine is good: only think, he has gone to Montfermeil to fetch mylittle Cosette."

She lay down again, helped the nun to smooth her pillow, and kissed alittle silver cross she wore on her neck, and which Sister Simplice hadgiven her.

"My child," the sister said, "try to go to sleep now, and do not speakany more."

"He started this morning for Paris, and indeed had no occasion to gothere; for Montfermeil is a little to the left before you get there.You remember how he said to me yesterday when I asked him aboutCosette, "Soon, soon"? He wishes to offer me a surprise, for, do youknow, he made me sign a letter to get her back from the Thénardiers.They cannot refuse to give up Cosette, can they? for they are paid;the authorities would not allow a child to be kept, for now there isnothing owing. Sister, do not make me signs that I must not speak,for I am extremely happy: I am going on very well, I feel no pain atall; I am going to see Cosette again, and I even feel very hungry. Itis nearly five years since I saw her: you cannot imagine how a motherclings to her child,—and then she must be so pretty. She has suchpretty pink fingers, and she will have beautiful hands. She must bea great girl now, for she is going on to seven. I call her Cosette,but her real name is Euphrasie. This morning I was looking at thedust on the mantel-piece, and I had a notion that I should soon seeCosette again. Good Lord! how wrong it is for a mother to be so manyyears without seeing her child! She ought to reflect that life is noteternal. Oh, how kind it is of the Mayor to go! Is it true that it isso cold? I hope he took his cloak. He will be here again to-morrow,will he not? and we will make a holiday of it. To-morrow morning,sister, you will remind me to put on my little cap with the laceborder. Montfermeil is a great distance, and I came from there to thistown on foot, and it took me a long time; but the stage-coaches travelso quickly! He will be here to-morrow with Cosette. How far is it toMontfermeil?"

The sister, who had no notion of distances, answered, "Oh, I believe hecan be here to-morrow."

"To-morrow! to-morrow!" said Fantine; "I shall see Cosette to-morrow,my good sister! I am not ill now; I feel wild, and would dance if youpermitted me."

Any one who had seen her a quarter of an hour before would not haveunderstood it; she was now quite flushed, she spoke with an eagernatural voice, and her whole face was a smile. At times she laughedwhile speaking to herself in a low voice. A mother's joy is almost achildish joy.

"Well!" the nun said, "you are now happy. So obey me and do not speakany more."

Fantine laid her head on the pillow, and said in a low voice, "Yes,lie down, behave yourself, as you are going to have your child. SisterSimplice is right: all in this place are right."

And then, without stirring, without moving her head, she began lookingaround with widely opened eyes and a joyous air, and said nothing more.The sister closed the curtains, hoping she would fall off to sleep. Thephysician arrived between seven and eight o'clock. Hearing no sound,he fancied Fantine asleep. He entered softly and walked up to the bedon tip-toe. He opened the curtains, and by the light of the lamp sawFantine's large calm eyes fixed on him. She said to him,—

"Oh, sir, my child will be allowed to sleep in a little cot by mybed-side?"

The physician fancied she was delirious. She added,—

"Only look; there is exactly room."

The physician took Sister Simplice on one side who explained the matterto him: that M. Madeleine was absent for a day or two, and being indoubt they had not thought it right to undeceive the patient, whofancied that he had gone to Montfermeil, and she might possibly be inthe right. The physician approved, and drew near to Fantine's bed. Shesaid to him,—

"In the morning, when the poor darling wakes, I will say good-day toher, and at night I, who do not sleep, will listen to her sleeping. Hergentle little breathing will do me good."

"Give me your hand," said the physician.

"Oh yes, you do not know that I am cured. Cosette arrives to-morrow."

The physician was surprised to find her better: the oppression wasslighter, her pulse had regained strength, and a sort of altogetherunlooked-for life reanimated the poor exhausted being.

"Doctor," she continued, "has the sister told you that M. Madeleine hasgone to fetch my darling?"

The physician recommended silence, and that any painful emotion shouldbe avoided: he prescribed a dose of quinine, and if the fever returnedin the night, a sedative; and as he went away, he said to the sister:"She is better. If the Mayor were to arrive with the child to-morrow, Ido not know what would happen: there are such astounding crises; greatjoy has been known to check diseases; and though hers is an organicmalady, and in an advanced stage, it is all a mystery;—we mightperchance save her."



It was nearly eight in the evening when the cart we left on the roaddrove under the archway of the post-house at Arras. The man whom wehave followed up to this moment got out, discharged the second horse,and himself led the white pony to the stables; then he pushed open thedoor of a billiard room on the ground-floor, sat down, and rested hiselbows on the table. He had taken fourteen hours in a journey for whichhe had allowed himself six. He did himself the justice that it was nofault of his, but in his heart he was not sorry at it. The landladycame in.

"Will you sleep here, sir?"

He nodded in the negative.

"The ostler says that your horse is extremely tired."

"Will it not be able to start again to-morrow morning?"

"Oh dear, no, sir; it requires at least two days' rest."

"Is not the postoffice in this house?"

"Yes, sir."

The landlady led him to the office, where he showed his passport,and inquired whether he could return to M—— the same night by themail-cart. Only one seat was vacant, and he took it and paid forit. "Do not fail, sir," said the clerk, "to be here at one o'clockprecisely."

This done, he left the hotel, and began walking about the streets. Hewas not acquainted with Arras, the streets were dark, and he walkedabout hap-hazard, but he seemed obstinately determined not to ask hisway of passers-by. He crossed the little river Crinchon, and foundhimself in a labyrinth of narrow lanes, in which he lost his way. Acitizen came toward him with a lantern, whom, after some hesitation, heresolved to address, though not till he had looked before and behindhim, as if afraid lest anybody should overhear the question he wasabout to ask.

"Will you be kind enough to tell me the way to the courts of justice,sir?" he said.

"You do not belong to the town, sir?" replied the man, who was ratherold; "well, follow me, I am going in the direction of the courts,that is to say, of the Prefecture, for the courts are under repair atpresent, and the sittings take place temporarily at the Prefecture."

"Are the assizes held there?" he asked.

"Of course, sir: you must know that what is now the Prefecture was theBishop's palace before the Revolution. Monsieur de Conzié, who wasBishop in '92, had a large hall built there, and the trials take placein this hall."

On the road, the citizen said to him,—

"If you wish to witness a trial you are rather late, for the courtusually closes at six o'clock."

However, when they arrived in the great square the old man showed himfour lofty lighted windows in a vast gloomy building.

"On my word, sir," he said, "you have arrived in time, and are inluck's way. Do you see those four windows? They belong to the assizecourts. As there are lights, it is not closed yet: there must havebeen a long trial, and they are having an evening session. Are youinterested in the trial? Is it a criminal offence, or are you awitness?"

He answered,—

"I have not come for any trial: I only wish to speak to a solicitor."

"That is different. That is the door, sir, where the sentry isstanding, and you have only to go up the large staircase."

He followed the old man's instructions, and a few minutes later was ina large hall, in which there were a good many people, and groups ofrobed barristers were gossiping together. It is always a thing thatcontracts the heart, to see these assemblies of men dressed in black,conversing in a low voice on the threshold of a court of justice. Itis rare for charity and pity to be noticed in their remarks, for theygenerally express condemnations settled before trial. All such groupsappear to the thoughtful observer so many gloomy hives, in whichbuzzing minds build in community all sorts of dark edifices. This hall,which was large and only lighted by one lamp, served as a waiting-room:and folding-doors, at this moment closed, separated it from the grandchamber in which the assizes were being held. The obscurity was sogreat, that he was not afraid of addressing the first barrister he cameacross.

"How is it going, sir?" he said.

"It is finished."

"Finished!" This word was repeated with such an accent, that thebarrister turned round.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but perhaps you are a relative?"

"No, I know no one here. Was a verdict of guilty brought in?"

"Of course; it could not possibly be otherwise."

"The galleys?"

"For life."

He continued in a voice so faint that it was scarce audible,—

"Then, the identity was proved?"

"What identity?" the barrister retorted. "Nothing of the sort wasrequired; the affair was simple,—the woman had killed her child, theinfanticide was proved, the jury recommended her to mercy, and she wassentenced to imprisonment for life."

"You are alluding to a woman, then?"

"Why, of course; a girl of the name of Limosin. To whom were youreferring, pray?"

"To nobody; but as the trial is over, how is it that the court is stilllighted?"

"It is for the other trial, which began about two hours back."

"What other trial?"

"Oh, it is clear too; he is a sort of beggar, a relapsed galley slave,who has been robbing. I forget his name, but he has a regular banditface, on the strength of which I would send him to the galleys if fornothing else."

"Is there any way of entering the court, sir?" he asked.

"I do not think so, for it is very full. Still, the trial is suspended,and some persons have gone out. When the court resumes, you can try."

"Which is the way in?"

"By that large door."

The barrister left him; in a few minutes he had experienced almostsimultaneously, and confusedly blended, every emotion possible. Thewords of this indifferent person had by turns pierced his heart likeneedles of ice and like red-hot sword-blades. When he found that thetrial was not over, he breathed again; but he could not have saidwhether what he felt were satisfaction or pain. He walked up to severalgroups and listened to what they were saying; as the trial list wasvery heavy, the President had selected for this day two simple andshort cases. They had begun with the infanticide, and were now engagedwith the relapsed convict, the "return horse." This man had stolenapples, but it was proved that he had already been at the Toulongalleys. It was this that made his case bad. His examination and thedeposition of the witnesses were over; but there were still the speechfor the defence and the summing up, and hence it would not be finishedtill midnight. The man would probably be condemned, for the publicprosecutor was sharp, and did not let his accused escape; he was awitty fellow who wrote verses. An usher was standing near the doorcommunicating with the court, and he asked him,—

"Will this door be opened soon?"

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

"Will it not be opened when the court resumes its sitting?"

"It has resumed," the usher replied, "but the door will not be opened."

"Why not?"

"Because the hall is full."

"What! is there no room?"

"For not a soul more. The door is closed, and no one can go in."

The usher added after a pause,—"There are certainly two or three seatsbehind the President, but he only admits public officials to them."

After saying this, the usher turned his back on him. He withdrew withhanging head, crossed the waiting-room, and slowly went down thestairs, hesitating at every step. He was probably holding counsel withhimself; the violent combat which had been going on in him since theprevious day was not finished, and every moment he entered some newphase. On reaching the landing he leaned against the banisters andfolded his arms; but all at once he took his pocket-book, tore a leaffrom it, wrote in pencil upon it, "M. Madeleine, Mayor of M. sur M.;"then he hurried up the stairs, cleft the crowd, walked up to the usher,handed him the paper, and said to him with an air of authority,—"Handthis to the President." The usher took the paper, glanced at it, andobeyed.



Without suspecting the fact, the Mayor of M—— enjoyed a species ofcelebrity. During the seven years that his reputation for virtue hadfilled the whole of the Bas Boulonnais, it had gradually crossed theborder line into two or three adjoining departments. In addition tothe considerable service he had done the chief town, by restoringthe glass-bead trade, there was not one of the one hundred and fortyparishes in the bailiwick of M—— which was not indebted to him forsome kindness. He had ever assisted and promoted, when necessary, thetrades of other departments: thus he had supported with his credit andfunds, the tulle factory at Boulogne, the flax-spinning machine atNivers, and the hydraulic manufacture of canvas at Bourbus sur Cauche.The name of M. Madeleine was everywhere pronounced with veneration, andArras and Douai envied the fortunate little town of M—— its Mayor.The Councillor of the Royal Court of Douai, who presided at the presentArras assizes, like every one else, was acquainted with this deeply anduniversally honored name. When the usher discreetly opened the door ofthe judges' robing room, leaned over the President's chair, and handedhim the paper, adding, "This gentleman wishes to hear the trial," thePresident made a deferential movement, took up a pen, wrote a few wordsat the foot of the paper, and returned it to the usher, saying,—"Showhim in."

The unhappy man whose history we are recording had remained near thedoor of the court at the same spot and in the same attitude as whenthe usher left him. He heard through his reverie some one say to him,"Will you do me the honor of following me, sir?" It was the same usherwho had turned his back on him just before, and who now bowed to theground. At the same time the usher handed him the paper; he unfoldedit, and as he happened to be near the lamps he was able to read, "ThePresident of the Assize Court presents his respects to M. Madeleine."He crumpled the paper in his hands, as if the words had a strange andbitter after-taste for him. He followed the usher, and a few minuteslater found himself alone in a room of severe appearance, lighted bytwo wax candles standing on a green-baize covered table. He still hadin his ears the last words of the usher, who had just left him,—"You are in the judges' chamber; you have only to turn the handle ofthat door, and you will find yourself in court behind the President'schair." These words were mingled in his thoughts with a confusedrecollection of narrow passages and dark staircases, which he had justpassed through. The usher had left him alone; the supreme moment hadarrived. He tried to collect himself, but could not succeed; for it isespecially in the hours when men have the most need of thought thatall the threads are broken in the brain. He was at the actual spotwhere the judges deliberate and pass sentence. He gazed with stupidtranquillity at this peaceful and yet formidable room, in which somany existences had been broken, where his name would be echoed erelong, and which his destiny was traversing at this moment. He lookedat the walls and then at himself, astonished that it was this roomand that it was he. He had not eaten for more than twenty-four hours,he was exhausted by the jolting of the cart, but he did not feel it;it seemed to him that he did not feel anything. He walked up to ablack frame hanging on the wall, and which contained under glass anautograph letter of Jean Nicolas Pache, Mayor of Paris, and Minister,dated, doubtless in error, Juin 9 an II., and in which Pache sentto the commune a list of the ministers and deputies under arrest attheir own houses. Any who saw him at this moment would doubtless haveimagined that this letter appeared to him very curious, for he did notremove his eyes from it, and read it two or three times. But he read itwithout paying attention; and unconsciously he was thinking of Fantineand Cosette.

While thinking, he turned, and his eyes met the brass handle of thedoor that separated him from the assize court. He had almost forgottenthis door, but his eye, at first calm, rested on it, then became wildand fixed, and was gradually filled with terror. Drops of perspirationstarted out from his hair and streamed down his temples. At onemoment he made with a species of authority blended with rebellionthat indescribable gesture which means and says so well,—"By heaven,who forces me?" Then he turned hurriedly, saw before him the door bywhich he had entered, walked up, opened it, and went out. He was nolonger in that room, but in a passage, a long narrow passage, cut up bysteps and wickets, making all sorts of turns, lit up here and there byreflectors like the night-lamps for the sick,—the passage by which hehad come. He breathed, he listened, not a sound behind him, not a soundbefore him, and he began to fly as if he were pursued. When he hadpassed several turnings, he listened again,—there was still the samesilence and the same gloom around him. He panted, tottered, and leanedagainst the wall; the stone was cold, the perspiration was chilled onhis forehead, and he drew himself up with a shudder. Then standingthere alone, trembling from cold, and perhaps from something else, hethought. He had thought all night, he had thought all day; but he onlyheard within him a voice that said, Alas!

A quarter of an hour passed thus; at length he inclined his head,sighed with agony, let his arms droop, and turned back. He walkedslowly and as if stunned; it looked as if he had been caught up in hisflight, and was being brought back. He entered the judges chamber, andthe first thing he saw was the handle of the door. This handle, whichwas round and made of polished brass, shone for him like a terrificstar; he looked at it as a sheep would look at the eye of a tiger. Hiseyes would not leave it, and from time to time he took a step whichbrought him nearer to the door. Had he listened he would have heard,like a species of confused murmur, the noise in the adjoining court;but he did not listen and did not hear. All at once, and withoutknowing how, he found himself close to the door; he convulsively seizedthe handle, and the door opened. He was in the assize court.



He advanced a step, closed the door mechanically after him, and gazedat the scene before him. It was a dimly-lighted large hall, at onemoment full of sounds, and at another of silence, in which all themachinery of a criminal trial was displayed, with its paltry andlugubrious gravity, in the midst of a crowd. At one of the ends ofthe hall, the one where he was, judges with a vacant look, in shabbygowns, biting their nails or shutting their eye-lids; barristers inall sorts of attitudes; soldiers with honest harsh faces; old stainedwainscoting, a dirty ceiling; tables covered with baize, which wasrather yellow than green; doors blackened by hands; pot-house sconcesthat produced more smoke than light, hanging from nails driven intothe wall; upon the tables brass candlesticks,—all was obscurity,ugliness, and sadness. But all this yet produced an austere and augustimpression, for the grand human thing called law, and the great divinething called justice, could be felt in it.

No one in this crowd paid any attention to him, for all eyes convergedon a single point,—a wooden bench placed against a little door,along the wall on the left of the President; on this bench, whichwas illumined by several candles, sat a man between two gendarmes.This man was the man; he did not seek him, he saw him; his eyes wentthere naturally, as if they had known beforehand where that face was.He fancied he saw himself, aged, not absolutely alike in face, butexactly similar in attitude and appearance, with his bristling hair,with his savage restless eyeballs, and the blouse, just as he was onthe day when he entered D——, full of hatred, and concealing in hismind that hideous treasure of frightful thoughts which he had spentnineteen years in collecting on the pavement of the bagne. He said tohimself with a shudder, "My God! shall I become again like that?" Thisbeing appeared to be at least sixty years of age; he had somethingabout him rough, stupid, and startled. On hearing the sound of thedoor, persons made way for the new comer, the President had turned hishead, and guessing that the gentleman who had just entered was theMayor of M——, he bowed to him. The public prosecutor who had seenM. Madeleine at M——, whither his duties had more than once calledhim, recognized him and also bowed. He scarce noticed it, for he wasunder a species of hallucination; he was looking at a judge, a clerk,gendarmes, a number of cruelly curious faces,—he had seen all thisonce, formerly, seven-and-twenty years ago. These mournful things hefound again,—they were there, stirring, existing; it was no longer aneffort of his memory, a mirage of his mind; they were real gendarmes,real judges, a real crowd, and real men in flesh and bone. He saw allthe monstrous aspect of his past reappear, and live again around him,with all the terror that reality possesses. All this was yawning beforehim; he felt terrified, closed his eyes, and exclaimed in the depthsof his mind. Never! And by a tragic sport of fate which made all hisideas terrible and rendered him nearly mad, it was another himself whowas there. This man who was being tried everybody called Jean Valjean.He had before him an unheard-of vision, a species of representation ofthe most horrible moment of his life played by his phantom. All wasthere,—it was the same machinery, the same hour of the night, almostthe same faces of judges, soldiers, and spectators. The only differencewas that there was a crucifix over the President's head, which had beenremoved from the courts at the time of his condemnation. When he wastried God was absent. There was a chair behind him, into which he fell,terrified by the idea that people could see him. When he was seated hetook advantage of a pile of paste-board cases on the judges' desk tohide his face from the spectators. He could now see without being seen:he fully regained the feeling of the real, and gradually recovered. Heattained that phase of calmness in which a man can listen. MonsieurBamatabois was serving on the jury. He looked for Javert, but could notsee him, for the witnesses' bench was hidden by the clerk's table, andthen, as we have said, the court was hardly lighted.

At the moment when he came in, the counsel for the defence was endinghis speech. The attention of all was excited to the highest pitch; forthree hours they had seen a man, a stranger, a species of miserablebeing, deeply stupid or deeply clever, being gradually crushed by theweight of a terrible resemblance. This man, as we know already, was avagabond who was found in a field, carrying a branch covered with ripeapples, which had been broken off a tree in a neighboring orchard. Whowas this man? Inquiries had been made, and witnesses heard; they wereunanimous, and light had flashed all through the trial. The accusationsaid,—"We have got hold not only of a fruit-stealer, a marauder,but we hold under our hand a bandit, a man who has broken his ban,an ex-convict, a most dangerous villain, a malefactor of the name ofJean Valjean, whom justice has been seeking for a long time, and who,eight years ago, on leaving Toulon, committed a highway robbery withviolence on a Savoyard lad, called Little Gervais, a crime providedfor by Article 383 of the penal code, for which we intend to prosecutehim hereafter, when the identity has been judicially proved. He hasjust committed a fresh robbery, and that is a case of relapse. Find himguilty of the new offence, and he will be tried at a later date forthe old one." The prisoner seemed highly amazed at this accusation andthe unanimity of the witnesses; he made gestures and signs intended todeny, or else looked at the ceiling. He spoke with difficulty, answeredwith embarrassment, but from head to foot his whole person denied.He was like an idiot in the presence of all these intellects rangedin battle-array round him, and like a stranger in the midst of thissociety which seized him. Still, a most menacing future was hangingover him; the probability of his being Jean Valjean increased with eachmoment, and the entire crowd regarded with greater anxiety than himselfthe sentence full of calamity which was gradually settling down on him.An eventuality even offered a glimpse of a death-penalty, should theidentity be proved, and he was hereafter found guilty of the attack onLittle Gervais. Who was this man? Of what nature was his apathy? Was itimbecility or cunning? Did he understand too much, or did he understandnothing at all? These questions divided the crowd, and the jury seemedto share their opinion. There was in this trial something terrific andsomething puzzling; the drama was not only gloomy, but it was obscure.

The counsel for the defence had argued rather cleverly, in thatprovincial language which for a long time constituted the eloquenceof the bar, and which all barristers formerly employed, not only atParis but at Romorantin or Montbrison, and which at the present day,having become classical, is only spoken by public prosecutors, whomit suits through its serious sonorousness and majestic movements. Itis the language in which a husband is called a "consort;" a wife,a "spouse;" Paris, "the centre of the arts and of civilization;"the king, "the Monarch;" the bishop, a "holy Pontiff;" the publicprosecutor, the "eloquent interpreter of the majesty of the law;"the pleadings, the "accents which we have just heard;" the age ofLouis XIV., "the great age;" a theatre, the "temple of Melpomene;"the reigning family, the "august blood of our kings;" a concert, "amusical solemnity;" the general commanding in the department, "theillustrious warrior who, etc.;" the pupils of the seminary, "thosetender Levites;" the mistakes imputed to the newspapers, "the imposturewhich distils its venom in the columns of these organs," etc., etc.The barrister had, consequently, begun by explaining away the robberyof the apples,—rather a difficult thing in this grand style; butBénigne Bossuet himself was obliged to allude to a fowl in the midstof a formal speech, and got out of the difficulty with glory. Thebarrister had established the fact that the apple robbery was notmaterially proved,—his client, whom, in his quality as defender, hepersistently called Champmathieu, had not been seen by any one scalinga wall or breaking the branch; he had been arrested with the branchin his possession, but he declared that he found it on the groundand picked it up. Where was the proof of the contrary? This branchhad been broken off and then thrown away by the frightened robber,for doubtless there was one. But where was the evidence that thisChampmathieu was a robber? Only one thing, his being an ex-convict.The counsel did not deny that this fact seemed unluckily proved. Theprisoner had lived at Faverolles; he had been a wood-cutter; the nameof Champmathieu might possibly be derived from Jean Mathieu; lastly,four witnesses unhesitatingly recognized Champmathieu as the galleyslave, Jean Valjean. To these indications, to this testimony, thecounsel could only oppose his client's denial, which was certainlyinterested: but, even supposing that he was the convict Jean Mathieu,did that prove he was the apple-stealer? It was a presumption at themost, but not a proof. The accused, it was true,—and his counsel wasobliged "in his good faith" to allow it,—had adopted a bad system ofdefence; he insisted in denying everything,—not merely the robbery,but his quality as convict. A confession on the latter point would havedoubtless been better, and gained him the indulgence of his judges;the counsel had advised him to do so, but the prisoner had obstinatelyrefused, probably in the belief that he would save everything byconfessing nothing. This was wrong, but should not his scanty intellectbe taken into consideration? This man was visibly stupid: a long miseryat the galleys, a long wretchedness out of them, had brutalized him,etc., etc.; his defence was bad, but was that a reason to find himguilty? As for the offence on Little Gervais, the counsel need notargue that, as it was not included in the indictment. The counsel woundup by imploring the jury and the court, if the identity of Jean Valjeanappeared to them proved, to punish him as a criminal who had broken hisban, and not apply the fearful chastisem*nt which falls on the relapsedconvict.

The public prosecutor replied. He was violent and flowery, as publicprosecutors usually are. He congratulated the counsel for the defenceon his "fairness," and cleverly took advantage of it; he attackedthe prisoner with all the concessions which his counsel had made. Heappeared to allow that the prisoner was Jean Valjean, and he thereforewas so. This was so much gained for the prosecution, and could not becontested; and here, reverting cleverly to the sources and causes ofcriminality, the public prosecutor thundered against the immoralityof the romantic school, at that time in its dawn under the name ofthe "Satanic school," which the critics of the Quotidienne and theOriflamme had given it; and he attributed, not without some show ofreason, the crime of Champmathieu, or to speak more correctly, of JeanValjean, to this perverse literature. These reflections exhausted,he passed to Jean Valjean himself. Who was this Jean Valjean? Herecame a description of Jean Valjean, a monster in human form, etc. Themodel of this sort of description will be found in the recitation ofThéramène, which is not only useful to tragedy but daily renders greatservices to judicial eloquence. The audience and the jury "quivered,"and when the description was ended, the public prosecutor went on, withan oratorical outburst intended to excite to the highest pitch theenthusiasm of the country papers which would appear the next morning."And it is such a man, etc., etc., etc., a vagabond, a beggar, havingno means of existence, etc., etc., etc., accustomed through his pastlife to culpable actions, and but little corrected by confinement inthe bagne, as is proved by the crime committed on little Gervais, etc.,etc., etc.,—it is such a man, who, found on the high road with theproof of robbery in his hand, and a few paces from the wall he hadclimbed over, denies the fact, the robbery, denies everything, even tohis name and his identity. In addition to a hundred proofs to which wewill not revert, four witnesses recognize him,—Javert, the uprightInspector of Police, and three of his old comrades in ignominy, theconvicts Brevet, Chenildieu, and Cochepaille. And what does he opposeto this crushing unanimity? He denies. What hardness of heart! But youwill do justice, gentlemen of the jury, etc., etc., etc."

While the public prosecutor was speaking, the prisoner listened withopen mouth, and with a sort of amazement in which there was certainlysome admiration. He was evidently surprised that a man could speaklike this. From time to time, at the most energetic apostrophes, wheneloquence, unable to restrain itself, overflows in a flux of brandingepithets, and envelopes the prisoner in a tempest, he slowly moved hishead from right to left, and from left to right, in a sort of dumb andmelancholy protest, with which he had contented himself ever sincethe beginning of the trial. Twice or thrice the spectators standingnearest to him heard him say in a low voice: "All this comes from notasking Monsieur Baloup." The public prosecutor drew the attention ofthe jury to this dull attitude, which was evidently calculated, andwhich denoted, not imbecility, but skill, cunning, and the habit ofdeceiving justice, and which brought out in full light the "profoundperverseness" of this man. He concluded by reserving the affair ofLittle Gervais, and by demanding a severe sentence. The counsel forthe defence rose, began by complimenting the public prosecutor on his"admirable speech," and then replied as well as he could, but feebly;it was plain that the ground was giving way under him.



The moment for closing the trial had arrived: the President orderedthe prisoner to stand up, and asked him the usual question: "Have youanything to add to your defence?" The man, who was rolling in hishands his hideous cap, made no reply, and the President repeated hisquestion. This time the man heard, and seemed to understand; he movedlike a person who is waking up, looked around him, at the public, thegendarmes, his counsel, the jury, and the court, laid his monstrousfist on the wood-work in front of his bench, and, suddenly fixing hiseyes on the public prosecutor, began to speak. It was an eruption;from the way in which the words escaped from his lips, incoherent,impetuous, and pell-mell, it seemed as if they were all striving to getout at the same time. He said:

"I have this to say: That I was a wheelwright in Paris, and worked forMaster Baloup. It is a hard trade, is a wheelwright's; you always workin the open air, in yards, under sheds when you have a good master, butnever in a room, because you want space, look you. In winter you areso cold that you swing your arms to warm you, but the masters don'tlike when there is ice between the stones, is rough work; it soon usesa man up. You are old when quite young in that trade. At forty a manis finished. I was fifty-three, and had hard lines of it. And then theworkmen are so unkind. When a man is not so young as he was, they callhim an old fool, an old brute! I only earned thirty sous a day, for themasters took advantage of my age, and paid me as little as they could.With that I had my daughter, who was a washer-woman in the river. Sheearned a little for her part, and the pair of us managed to live. Shewas bothered too. All day in a tub up to your waist, in the snow andrain, and with the wind that cuts your face. When it freezes, it isall the same, for you must wash; there are persons who have not muchlinen, and expect it home; if a woman did not wash, she would lose hercustomers. The planks are badly joined, and drops of water fall onyou everywhere. Her petticoats were wet through, over and under. Thatpenetrates. She also worked at the wash-house of the Enfants Rouges,where the water is got from taps. You are no longer in the tub; youwash at the tap before you, and rinse in the basin behind you. As itis shut up, you don't feel so cold. But there is a steam of hot waterwhich ruins your sight. She came home at seven in the evening, and wentto bed directly, for she was so tired. Her husband used to beat her. Heis dead. We were not very happy. She was a good girl, who did not go toballs, and was very quiet. I remember a Mardi-gras, on which she wentto bed at eight o'clock. I am telling the truth. You need only inquire.Oh yes, inquire! What an ass I am! Paris is a gulf. Who is there thatknows Father Champmathieu? And yet, I tell you, Monsieur Baloup. Askhim. After all, I do not know what you want of me."

The man ceased speaking and remained standing; he had said all thisin a loud, quick, hoarse, hard voice, with a sort of wretched andsavage energy. Once he broke off to bow to somebody in the crowd. Theaffirmations which he seemed to throw out hap-hazard came from him ingasps, and he accompanied each by the gesture of a man who is choppingwood. When he had finished, his hearers burst into a laugh; he lookedat the public, seeing they were laughing, and understanding nothing,he began to laugh himself. That did him mischief. The President, agrave and kind man, began speaking. He reminded the "gentlemen of thejury" that "Monsieur Baloup, formerly a wheelwright in whose servicethe accused declared that he had been, was a bankrupt, and had notbeen found when an attempt was made to serve him with a subpoena."Then, turning to the prisoner, he requested him to listen to what hewas about to say, and added: "You are in a situation which should causeyou to reflect. The heaviest presumptions are weighing upon you, andmay entail capital punishment. Prisoner, I ask you for the last timeto explain yourself clearly on the two following facts: In the firstplace, did you, yes or no, climb over the wall, break a branch, andsteal apples, that is to say, commit a robbery with escalade? Secondly,yes or no, are you the liberated convict, Jean Valjean?"

The prisoner shook his head with a confident air, like a man whounderstands and knows what answer he is going to make. He opened hismouth, turned to the President, and said,—

"In the first place—"

Then he looked at his cap, looked at the ceiling, and held his tongue.

"Prisoner," the public prosecutor said in a stern voice, "payattention. You make no answer to the questions that are asked you,and your confusion condemns you. It is evident that your name is notChampmathieu, but Jean Valjean, at first concealed under the name ofJean Mathieu, your mother's name; that you went to Auvergne; thatyour birth-place is Faverolles, and that you are a wood-cutter. It isevident that you stole ripe apples by clambering over a wall, and thegentlemen of the jury will appreciate the fact."

The prisoner had sat down again, but he hurriedly rose when the publicprosecutor had finished, and exclaimed,—

"You are a wicked man. This is what I wanted to say, but I could notthink of it at first. I have stolen nothing. I am a man who does noteat every day. I was coming from Ailly, and walking after a flood,which had made the whole country yellow; the very ponds had overflowed,and nothing grew in the sand except a few little blades of grass bythe road-side. I found a branch with apples lying on the ground, andpicked it up, little thinking that it would bring me into trouble. Ihave been in prison and bullied for three months, and after that peopletalk against me, I don't know why, and say to me, Answer. The gendarme,who is a good-hearted fellow, nudges me with his elbow, and says, Whydon't you answer? I cannot explain myself, for I am no scholar, butonly a poor man, and you are wrong not to see it. I have not stolen, Ionly picked up things lying on the ground. You talk about Jean Valjeanand Jean Mathieu. I do not know these persons, they are countrymen. Iused to work for Monsieur Baloup, Boulevard de l'Hôpital, and my nameis Champmathieu. You are a very clever fellow to tell me where I wasborn, for I don't know. It is not everybody who has a house to comeinto the world in. That would be too comfortable. I believe that myfather and mother were folks who went about on the roads, but I do notknow it after all. When I was a boy I was called little, and now I amcalled old. Those are my Christian names, and you can take them as youplease. I have been in Auvergne. I have been at Faverolles. Well, hangit! may not a man have been at those two places without having been tothe galleys? I tell you that I have not stolen, and that my name isChampmathieu. I worked for M. Baloup, and kept house. You tire me withyour foolishness. Why is everybody so spiteful against me?"

The public prosecutor, who had not sat down, here addressed thePresident.

"In the presence of these confused but very clear denials on the partof the prisoner, who would like to pass for an idiot, but will notsucceed,—we warn him,—we request that it may please you, sir, and thecourt to recall the prisoners Brevet, Cochepaille, and Chenildieu, andPolice Inspector Javert, and examine them again as to the identity ofthe prisoner with Jean Valjean."

"I must remark," said the President, "that Inspector Javert, havingbeen recalled to his duties at a neighboring town, left the hall andthe town immediately after giving his evidence; we authorized him to doso with the consent of the public prosecutor and the counsel for thedefence."

"Perfectly correct, sir," the public prosecutor continued. "In theabsence of Inspector Javert, I believe it my duty to remind thegentlemen of the jury of the statement he made here a few hours ago.Javert is a worthy man, who honors by his rigorous and strict probityinferior but important functions. His evidence is as follows: "I donot require moral presumptions and material proof to contradict theprisoner's assertions, for I recognize him perfectly. This man's nameis not Champmathieu, he is Jean Valjean, an ex-convict of a veryviolent and formidable character. It was with great reluctance thathe was liberated when he completed his time. He had nineteen years'hard labor for qualified robbery, and made five or six attempts toescape. In addition to the little Gervais robbery and the larceny ofthe apples, I also suspect him of a robbery committed in the houseof his Grandeur the late Bishop of D——. I frequently saw him whenI was assistant jailer at Toulon, and I repeat that I recognize himperfectly."

Such a precise declaration seemed to produce a lively effect on theaudience and the jury, and the public prosecutor wound up by requestingthat the other three witnesses should be brought in and reexamined. ThePresident gave an order to an usher, and a moment after the door ofthe witness-room opened. The usher, accompanied by a gendarme, broughtin the prisoner Brevet. The audience were all in suspense, and theirchests heaved as if they had but one soul among them. The ex-convictBrevet wore the black and gray jacket of the central prisons; he was aman of about sixty years of age, who had the face of a business man andthe look of a rogue,—these are sometimes seen together. He had becomea sort of jailer in the prison to which new offences had brought him,and was a man of whom the officials said, "He tries to make himselfuseful." The chaplains bore good testimony to his religious habits,and it must not be forgotten that this trial took place under theRestoration.

"Brevet," said the President, "as you have undergone a degradingpunishment, you cannot be sworn."

Brevet looked down humbly.

"Still," the President continued, "there may remain, by the permissionof Heaven, a feeling of honor and equity even in the man whom the lawhas degraded, and it is to that feeling I appeal in this decisivehour. If it still exist in you, as I hope, reflect before answeringme; consider, on one hand, this man whom a word from you may ruin, onthe other, the justice which a word from you may enlighten. The momentis a solemn one, and there is still time for you to retract, if youbelieve that you are mistaken. Prisoner, stand up. Brevet, look at theprisoner. Think over your past recollections, and tell us on your souland conscience whether you still persist in recognizing this man asyour old mate at the galleys, Jean Valjean."

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

"Yes, sir, I was the first who recognized him, and I adhere to it. Thisman is Jean Valjean, who came to Toulon in 1796 and left in 1815. Icame out a year later. He looks like a brute now, but in that case agehas brutalized him, for he was cunning at the hulks. I recognize himpositively."

"Go and sit down," said the President. "Prisoner, remain standing."

Chenildieu was next brought in, a convict for life, as was shown by hisred jacket and green cap. He was serving his time at Toulon, whence hehad been fetched for this trial. He was a little man of about fiftyyears of age, quick, wrinkled, thin, yellow, bold, and feverish, whohad in all his limbs and his whole person a sort of sickly weakness,and immense strength in his look. His mates at the galleys had surnamedhim Je-nie-Dieu. The President addressed him much as he had doneBrevet. At the moment when he reminded him that his degradation robbedhim of the right of taking an oath, Chenildieu raised his head andlooked boldly at the crowd. The President begged him to reflect, andasked him if he still persisted in recognizing the prisoner. Chenildieuburst into a laugh:—

"I should think I do! Why, we were fastened to the same chain for fiveyears! So you are sulky, old fellow?"

"Go and sit down," said the President.

The usher brought in Cochepaille. This second convict for life,who had been fetched from the galleys and was dressed in red likeChenildieu, was a peasant of Lourdes and a half-bear of the Pyrenees.He had guarded sheep in the mountains, and had gradually drifted intobrigandage. Cochepaille was no less savage, and appeared even morestupid, than the prisoner; he was one of those wretched men whom naturehas outlined as wild beasts and whom society finishes as galley-slaves.The President tried to move him by a few grave and pathetic words, andasked him, like the two others, whether he still persisted, without anyhesitation or trouble, in recognizing the man standing before him.

"It is Jean Valjean," said Cochepaille. "He was nicknamed Jean theJack, because he was so strong."

Each of the affirmations of these three men, evidently sincere andmade in good faith, had aroused in the audience a murmur of evil omenfor the prisoner,—a murmur which grew louder and more prolongedeach time that a new declaration was added to the preceding one.The prisoner himself listened to them with that amazed face which,according to the indictment, was his principal means of defence. Atthe first the gendarmes heard him mutter between his teeth, "Well,there's one!" after the second he said rather louder, and with an airof satisfaction, "Good!" at the third he exclaimed, "Famous!" ThePresident addressed him,—

"You have heard the evidence, prisoner; have you any answer to make?"

He answered,—

"I say—famous!"

A laugh broke out in the audience and almost affected the jury. It wasplain that the man was lost.

"Ushers," said the President, "produce silence in the court: I am aboutto sum up."

At this moment there was a movement by the President's side: and avoice could be heard exclaiming,—

"Brevet, Chenildieu, and Cochepaille, look this way." All those whoheard the voice felt chilled to the heart, for it was so lamentable andterrible. All eyes were turned in the direction whence it came: a manseated among the privileged audience behind the court had risen, pushedopen the gate that separated the judges' bench from the public court,and stepped down. The President, the public prosecutor, M. Bamatabois,twenty persons, recognized him, and exclaimed simultaneously, "MonsieurMadeleine."



It was he in truth; the clerk's lamp lit up his face; he held his hatin his hand, there was no disorder in his attire, and his coat wascarefully buttoned. He was very pale and trembled slightly; and hishair, which had been gray when he arrived at Arras, was now perfectlywhite; it had turned so during the hour he had passed in the court.Every head was raised, the sensation was indescribable, and there wasa momentary hesitation among the spectators. The voice had been sopoignant, the man standing there seemed so calm, that at first theydid not understand, and asked each other who it was that had spoken.They could not believe that this tranquil man could have utteredthat terrific cry. This indecision lasted but a few moments. Beforethe President and the public prosecutor could say a word, before thegendarmes and ushers could make a move, the man, whom all still calledat this moment M. Madeleine, had walked up to the witnesses, Brevet,Chenildieu, and Cochepaille.

"Do you not recognize me?" he asked them.

All three stood amazed, and gave a nod to show that they did not knowhim, and Cochepaille, who was intimidated, gave a military salute.M. Madeleine turned to the jury and the court, and said in a gentlevoice,—

"Gentlemen of the jury, acquit the prisoner. Monsieur le President,have me arrested. The man you are seeking is not he, for—I am JeanValjean."

Not a breath was drawn,—the first commotion of astonishment hadbeen succeeded by a sepulchral silence; all felt that species ofreligious terror which seizes on a crowd when something grand is beingaccomplished. The President's face, however, displayed sympathy andsorrow; he exchanged a rapid look with the public prosecutor, and a fewwords in a low voice with the assistant judges. He then turned to thespectators, and asked with an accent which all understood,—

"Is there a medical man present?"

The public prosecutor then said,—

"Gentlemen of the jury, the strange and unexpected incident which hasdisturbed the trial inspires us, as it does yourselves, with a feelingwhich we need not express. You all know, at least by reputation, theworthy M. Madeleine, Mayor of M——.

If there be a medical man here, we join with the President in begginghim to attend to M. Madeleine and remove him to his house."

M. Madeleine did not allow the public prosecutor to conclude, butinterrupted him with an accent full of gentleness and authority. Theseare the words he spoke; we produce them literally as they were writtendown by one of the witnesses of this scene, and as they still live inthe ears of those who heard them just forty years ago:—

"I thank you, sir, but I am not mad, as you will soon see. You were onthe point of committing a great error; set that man at liberty: I amaccomplishing a duty, for I am the hapless convict. I am the only manwho sees clearly here, and I am telling you the truth. What I am doingat this moment God above is looking at, and that is sufficient for me.You can seize me, for here I am; and yet I did my best. I hid myselfunder a name, I became rich, I became Mayor, and I wished to get backamong honest men, but it seems that this is impossible. There are manythings I cannot tell you, as I am not going to describe my life to you,for one day it will be known. It is true that I robbed the Bishop; alsotrue that I robbed Little Gervais, and they were right in telling youthat Jean Valjean was a dangerous villain,—though, perhaps, all thefault did not lie with him. Listen, gentlemen of the court. A man sodebased as myself cannot remonstrate with Providence, or give advice tosociety; but I will say that the infamy from which I sought to emergeis an injurious thing, and the galleys make the convict. Be good enoughto bear that fact in mind. Before I went to Toulon I was a poor peasantwith but little intelligence, a sort of idiot; the galleys changed me:I was stupid, and I became wicked; I was a log, and I became a brand.At a later date indulgence and goodness saved me, in the same way asseverity had destroyed me. But, forgive me, you cannot understand whatI am saying. At my house the two-franc piece I stole seven years agofrom Little Gervais will be found among the ashes in the fire-place. Ihave nothing more to add. Apprehend me. My God! the public prosecutorshakes his head. You say M. Madeleine has gone mad, and do not believeme. This is afflicting; at least do not condemn this man. What! thesethree do not recognize me! Oh, I wish that Javert were here, for hewould recognize me!"

No pen could render the benevolent and sombre melancholy of the accentwhich accompanied these words. He then turned to the three convicts,—

"Well, I recognize you. Brevet, do you not remember me?" He broke off,hesitated for a moment, and said,—

"Can you call to mind the checkered braces you used to wear at thegalleys?"

Brevet gave a start of surprise and looked at him from head to foot interror. He continued,—

"Chenildieu, who named yourself Je-nie-Dieu, you have a deep burn inyour right shoulder, because you placed it one day in a pan of charcoalin order to efface the three letters, T. F. P., which, however, arestill visible. Answer me—is it so?"

"It is true," said Chenildieu.

"Cochepaille, you have near the hollow of your left arm a date made inblue letters with burnt gun-powder; the date is that of the Emperor'slanding at Cannes, March I, 1815. Turn up your sleeve."

Cochepaille did so, and every eye was turned to his bare arm; agendarme brought up a lamp, and the date was there. The unhappy manturned to the audience and the judges, with a smile which to this dayaffects those who saw it. It was the smile of triumph, but it was alsothe smile of despair.

"You see plainly," he said, "that I am Jean Valjean."

In the hall there were now neither judges, accusers, nor gendarmes;there were only fixed eyes and heaving hearts. No one thought of thepart he might be called on to perform,—the public prosecutor thathe was there to prove a charge, the President to pass sentence, andthe prisoner's counsel to defend. It was a striking thing that noquestion was asked, no authority interfered. It is the property ofsublime spectacles to seize on all minds and make spectators of allthe witnesses. No one perhaps accounted for his feelings, no one saidto himself that he saw a great light shining, but all felt dazzled intheir hearts. It was evident that they had Jean Valjean before them.The appearance, of this man had been sufficient to throw a bright lighton an affair which was so obscure a moment previously: without needingany explanation, the entire crowd understood, as if through a sort ofelectric revelation, at once and at a glance the simple and magnificentstory of a man who denounced himself in order that another man mightnot be condemned in his place. Details, hesitation, any possibleresistance, were lost in this vast luminous fact. It was an impressionwhich quickly passed away, but at the moment was irresistible.

"I will not occupy the time of the court longer," Jean Valjeancontinued; "I shall go away, as I am not arrested, for I have severalthings to do. The public prosecutor knows who I am, he knows where I amgoing, and he will order me to be arrested when he thinks proper."

He walked towards the door, and not a voice was raised, not an armstretched forth to prevent him. All fell back, for there was somethingdivine in this incident, which causes the multitude to recoil and makeway for a single man. He slowly walked on; it was never known whoopened the door, but it is certain that he found it opened when hereached it. When there, he turned and said,—

"I am at your orders, sir."

Then he addressed the audience.

"I presume that all of you consider me worthy of pity? Great God! whenI think of what I was on the point of doing, I consider myself worthyof envy. Still, I should have preferred that all this had not takenplace."

He went out, and the door was closed as it had been opened, for menwho do certain superior deeds are always sure of being served by someone in the crowd. Less than an hour after, the verdict of the juryacquitted Champmathieu, and Champmathieu, who was at once set atliberty, went away in stupefaction, believing all the men mad, and notat all comprehending this vision.





Day was beginning to dawn. Fantine had passed a sleepless and feverishnight, though full of bright visions, and towards morning fell asleep.Sister Simplice, who was watching, took advantage of this slumber to goand prepare a fresh dose of bark. The worthy sister had been for sometime in the surgery, stooping over her drugs and bottles, and lookingcarefully at them on account of the mist which dawn spreads overobjects. All at once she turned her head and gave a slight shriek. M.Madeleine had entered silently, and was standing before her.

"Is it you, sir?" she exclaimed.

He answered in a low voice,—

"How is the poor creature?"

"Not so bad just at present, but she has frightened us terribly."

She explained to him what had occurred, how Fantine had been very illthe previous day, but was now better, because she believed that hehad gone to Montfermeil to fetch her child. The sister did not darequestion him, but she could see from his looks that he had not beenthere.

"All that is well," he said. "You did right in not undeceiving her."

"Yes," the sister continued; "but now that she is going to see you,sir, and does not see her child, what are we to tell her?"

He remained thoughtful for a moment.

"God will inspire us," he said.

"Still, it is impossible to tell a falsehood," the sister murmured in alow voice.

It was now bright day in the room, and it lit up M. Madeleine's face.The sister raised her eyes by chance.

"Good gracious, sir!" she exclaimed; "what can have happened to you?Your hair is quite white."

"What!" he said.

Sister Simplice had no mirror, but she took from a drawer a smalllooking-glass which the infirmary doctor employed to make sure that apatient was dead. M. Madeleine took this glass, looked at his hair, andsaid, "So it is." He said it carelessly and as if thinking of somethingelse, and the sister felt chilled by some unknown terror of which shecaught a glimpse in all this. He asked,—

"Can I see her?"

"Will you not recover her child for her, sir?" the sister said, hardlydaring to ask the question.

"Of course; but it will take at least two or three days."

"If she were not to see you till then, sir," the sister continuedtimidly, "she would not know that you had returned; it would be easy tokeep her quiet, and when her child arrived, she would naturally thinkthat you had returned with it. That would not be telling a falsehood."

M. Madeleine appeared to reflect for a few moments, and then said withhis calm gravity,—

"No, sister, I must see her, for I am possibly pressed for time."

The nun did not seem to notice the word "possibly," which gave anobscure and singular meaning to the Mayor's remark. She answered in alow voice,—

"In that case you can go in, sir, though she is asleep."

He made a few remarks about a door that closed badly and whose creakingmight awake the patient, then entered Fantine's room, went up tothe bed, and opened the curtains. She was asleep; her breath issuedfrom her chest with that tragic sound peculiar to these diseases,which crushes poor mothers, who sit up at nights by the side of theirsleeping child for whom there is no hope. But this painful breathingscarce disturbed an ineffable serenity spread over her face, whichtransfigured her in her sleep. Her pallor had become whiteness; hercheeks were carnations. Her long, fair eyelashes, the sole beauty thatremained of her virginity and youth, quivered, though remaining closed.Her whole person trembled as if she had wings which were on the pointof expanding and bearing her away. To see her thus, no one could havebelieved that she was in an almost hopeless state, for she resembledrather a woman who is about to fly away than one who is going to die.The branch, when the hand approaches to pluck the flowers, quivers andseems at once to retire and advance. The human body undergoes somethinglike this quiver when the moment arrives for the mysterious fingers ofdeath to pluck the soul.

M. Madeleine stood for some time motionless near this bed, lookingfirst at the patient and then at the crucifix, as he had done twomonths previously, on the day when he came for the first time tosee her in this asylum. They were both in the same attitude,—shesleeping, he praying; but in those two months her hair had turned gray,and his white. The sister had not come in with him: he was standing bythe bed-side, finger on lip, as if there were some one in the room whomhe was bidding to be silent. She opened her eyes, saw him, and saidcalmly and with a smile,—

"And Cosette?"



She gave no start of surprise, no start of joy, for she was joy itself.The simple question—"And Cosette?" was asked in such profound faith,with so much certainty, with such an utter absence of anxiety anddoubt, that he could not find a word to say. She continued,—

"I knew you were there, for though I was asleep, I saw. I have seen youfor a long time, and have been following you with my eyes all night;you were in a glory, and had around you all sorts of heavenly faces."

She looked up to the crucifix.

"But," she continued, "tell me where Cosette is? Why was she not laidin my bed so that I could see her directly I woke?"

He answered something mechanically which he could never remember.Luckily the physician, who had been sent for, came to M. Madeleine'sassistance.

"My dear girl," said the physician, "calm yourself; your child is here."

Fantine's eyes sparkled, and covered her whole face with brightness;she clasped her hands with an expression which contained all theviolence and all the gentleness a prayer can have simultaneously.

"Oh," she exclaimed, "bring her to me!"

Touching maternal illusion! Cosette was still to her the little childwho must be carried.

"Not yet," the physician continued,—"not at this moment; you havea little fever hanging about you; the sight of your own child wouldagitate you and do you harm. You must get well first."

She impetuously interrupted him,—

"But I am well! I tell you I am well! What a donkey this doctor is! Iinsist on seeing my child."

"There, you see," the physician said, "how violent you are! So long asyou are like that, I will prevent your having your child. It is notenough to see her, but you must live for her. When you grow reasonable,I will bring her myself."

The poor mother hung her head.

"Doctor, I ask your pardon; I sincerely ask your pardon. In formertimes I should not have spoken as I did just now, but I have gonethrough so much unhappiness that I do not know at times what I amsaying. I understand; you are afraid of the excitement; I will wait aslong as you like, but I swear to you that it would not do me any harmto see my child. Is it not very natural that I should want to see mychild, who has been fetched from Montfermeil expressly for me? I amnot angry, for I know very well that I am going to be happy. The wholenight I have seen white things and smiling faces. The doctor will bringme Cosette when he likes; I have no fever now, because I am cured; Ifeel that there is nothing the matter with me, but I will behave as ifI were ill, and not stir, so as to please these ladies. When you seethat I am quite calm, you will say, We must give her her child."

M. Madeleine had seated himself in a chair by the bed-side; she turnedto him, visibly making an effort to appear calm and "very good," asshe said in that weakness of illness which resembles childhood, inorder that, on seeing her so peaceful, there might be no difficulty inbringing Cosette to her. Still, while checking herself, she could notrefrain from asking M. Madeleine a thousand questions.

"Have you had a pleasant journey, sir? Oh, how kind it was of you togo and fetch her for me! Only tell me how she is. Did she stand thejourney well? Alas! she will not recognize, she will have forgottenme in all this time, poor darling! Children have no memory. They arelike the birds; to-day they see one thing and another to-morrow, anddo not think about anything. Had she got clean underclothing? Didthose Thénardiers keep her clean? What food did they give her? Oh, ifyou only knew how I suffered when I asked myself all these questionsduring the period of my wretchedness! But now it is all passed awayand I am happy. Oh, how I should like to see her! Did you not find hervery pretty, sir? You must have been very cold in the stage-coach? Canshe not be brought here if only for a moment? She could be taken awayagain directly afterwards. You could do it if you liked, as you are theMayor."

He took her hand and said: "Cosette is lovely, she is well, you willsee her soon; but calm yourself. You speak too eagerly and put yourarms out of bed, which will make you cough."

In fact, a fit of coughing interrupted Fantine at nearly every word.She did not object; she feared lest she had injured the confidence shehad wished to inspire, by some too impassioned entreaties, and shebegan talking of indifferent matters.

"Montfermeil is a rather pretty place, is it not? In summer, pleasureparties go there. Have those Thénardiers a good trade? Not many peoplepass through the village, and theirs is a sort of pot-house."

M. Madeleine still held her hand, and was looking at her anxiously;it was evident that he had come to tell her something at which he nowhesitated.

The physician had left, and Sister Simplice alone remained near them."I can hear her, I can hear her!" She held out her arms to commandsilence, held her breath, and began listening with ravishment. A childwas playing in the yard, and probably belonged to one of the workmen.It was one of those accidents which constantly occur, and seem to formpart of the mysterious mise-en-scène of mournful events. The child,a little girl, was running about to warm herself, laughing and singingloudly. Alas! what is there in which children's games are not mingled?

"Oh," Fantine continued, "'t is my Cosette! I recognize her voice."

The child went away again. Her voice died away. Fantine listened forsome time, and then her face was clouded, and M. Madeleine could hearher murmuring, "How unkind that doctor is not to let me see my child!That man has a bad face."

Still, her merry ideas returned to her, and she continued to talk toherself, with her head on the pillow. "How happy we are going to be!We will have a small garden, for M. Madeleine has promised me that. Mychild will play in the garden. She must know her alphabet by this time,and I will teach her to spell. She will chase butterflies, and I shalllook at her. Then, she will take her first communion; let me see whenthat will be."

She began counting on her fingers,—

"One, two, three, four,—she is now seven years old; in five years,then, she will wear a white open-work veil, and look like a littlelady. Oh, my good sister, you cannot think how foolish I am, for I amthinking of my daughter's first communion."

And she began laughing. He had let go Fantine's hand, and listened tothese words, as one listens to the soughing breeze, with his eyes fixedon the ground, and his mind plunged into unfathomable reflections.All at once she ceased speaking, and this made him raise his headmechanically. Fantine had become frightful to look at. She no longerspoke, she no longer breathed; she was half sitting up, and her thinshoulder projected from her nightgown; her face, radiant a momentpreviously, was hard, and she seemed to be fixing her eyes, dilated byterror, upon something formidable that stood at the other end of theroom.

"Great Heaven!" he exclaimed; "what is the matter with you, Fantine?"

She did not answer, she did not remove her eyes from the object,whatever it might be, which she fancied she saw; but she touched hisarm with one hand, and with the other made him a sign to look behindhim. He turned back and saw Javert.



This is what had occurred. Half-past twelve was striking when M.Madeleine left the assize court of Arras; and he returned to thehotel just in time to start by the mail-cart in which he had bookedhis place. A little before six A.M. he reached M——, and his firstcare was to post the letter for M. Lafitte, and then proceed to theinfirmary and see Fantine. Still, he had scarce quitted the court erethe public prosecutor, recovering from his stupor, rose on his legs,deplored the act of mania on the part of the honorable Mayor of M——,declared that his convictions were in no way modified by this strangeincident, which would be cleared up at a later date, and demanded, inthe interim, the conviction of this Champmathieu, evidently the trueJean Valjean. The persistency of the public prosecutor was visibly incontradiction with the feelings of all,—the public, the court, andthe jury. The counsel for the defence had little difficulty in refutinghis arguments, and establishing that through the revelations of M.Madeleine, that is to say, the real Jean Valjean, circ*mstances wereentirely altered, and the jury had an innocent man before them. Thebarrister deduced a few arguments, unfortunately rather stale, aboutjudicial errors, etc., the President in his summing-up supported thedefence, and the jury in a few moments acquitted Champmathieu. Still,the public prosecutor wanted a Jean Valjean; and, as he no longer hadChampmathieu, he took Madeleine. Immediately after Champmathieu wasacquitted, he had a conference with the President as to the necessityof seizing the person of the Mayor of M——, and after the firstemotion had passed, the President raised but few objections. Justicemust take its course; and then, to tell the whole truth, although thePresident was a kind and rather sensible man, he was at the same timea very ardent Royalist, and had been offended by the way in whichthe Mayor of M——, in alluding to the landing at Cannes, employedthe words "the Emperor" and not "Buonaparte." The order of arrestwas consequently made out, and the prosecutor at once sent it off byexpress to M——, addressed to Inspector Javert, who, as we know,returned home immediately after he had given his evidence.

Javert was getting up at the moment when the messenger handed himthe order of arrest and the warrant. This messenger was himself avery skilful policeman, who informed Javert in two words of whathad occurred at Arras. The order of arrest, signed by the publicprosecutor, was thus conceived: "Inspector Javert will apprehendMonsieur Madeleine, Mayor of M——, who in this day's session wasrecognized as the liberated convict, Jean Valjean." Any one who didnot know Javert and had seen him at the moment when he entered theinfirmary ante-room, could not have guessed what was taking place, butwould have considered him to be as usual. He was cold, calm, serious,his gray hair was smoothed down on his temples, and he went up thestairs with his usual slowness. But any one who was well acquaintedwith him, and examined him closely, would have shuddered; the buckleof his leathern stock, instead of sitting in the nape of his neck, wasunder his left ear. This revealed an extraordinary agitation. Javertwas a complete character, without a crease in his duty or in hisuniform: methodical with criminals, and rigid with his coat-buttons.For him to have his stock out of order, it was necessary for him to besuffering from one of those emotions which might be called internalearthquakes. He had merely fetched a corporal and four men from theguardhouse close by, left them in the yard, and had Fantine's roompointed out to him by the unsuspecting portress, who was accustomed tosee policemen ask for the Mayor.

On reaching Fantine's door, Javert turned the key, pushed the door withthe gentleness either of a sick-nurse or a spy, and entered. Correctlyspeaking, he did not enter: he stood in the half-opened door withhis hat on his head, and his left hand thrust into the breast of hisgreat-coat, which was buttoned to the chin. Under his elbow could beseen the leaden knob of his enormous cane, which was concealed behindhis back. He remained thus for many a minute, no one perceiving hispresence. All at once Fantine raised her eyes, saw him, and made M.Madeleine turn. At the moment when Madeleine's glance met Javert's,the latter, without stirring or drawing near, became fearful. No humanfeeling can succeed in being so horrible as joy. It was the face of afiend who has just found a condemned soul again. The certainty of atlength holding Jean Valjean caused all he had in his soul to appearon his countenance, and the stirred-up sediment rose to the surface.The humiliation of having lost the trail for a while and having beenmistaken with regard to Champmathieu was effaced by his pride at havingguessed so correctly at the beginning, and having a right instinctfor such a length of time. Javert's satisfaction was displayed in hissovereign attitude, and the deformity of triumph was spread over hisnarrow forehead.

Javert at this moment was in heaven: without distinctly comprehendingthe fact, but still with a confused intuition of his necessity and hissuccess, he, Javert, personified justice, light, and truth in theircelestial function of crushing evil. He had behind him, around him, atan infinite depth, authority, reason, the legal conscience, the publicvindication, all the stars: he protected order, he drew the lightningfrom the law, he avenged society, he rendered assistance to theabsolute. There was in his victory a remnant of defiance and contest:upright, haughty, and dazzling, he displayed the superhuman bestial*tyof a ferocious archangel in the bright azure of heaven. The formidableshadow of the deed he was doing rendered visible to his clutching fistthe flashing social sword. Happy and indignant, he held beneath hisheel, crime, vice, perdition, rebellion, and hell: he was radiant, heexterminated, he smiled, and there was an incontestable grandeur inthis monstrous St. Michael. Javert, though terrifying, was not ignoble.Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, and the idea of duty, arethings which, by deceiving themselves, may become hideous, but which,even if hideous, remain grand; their majesty, peculiar to the humanconscience, persists in horror; they are virtues which have but onevice, error. The pitiless honest joy of a fanatic, in the midst of hisatrocity, retains a mournfully venerable radiance. Without suspectingit, Javert, in his formidable happiness, was worthy of pity, like everyignorant man who triumphs; nothing could be so poignant and terrible asthis face, in which was displayed all that may be called the wickednessof good.



Fantine had not seen Javert since the day when the Mayor tore her outof his clutches, and her sickly brain could form no other thought butthat he had come to fetch her. She could not endure his frightful face:she felt herself dying. She buried her face in her hands, and criedwith agony,—

"Monsieur Madeleine, save me!"

Jean Valjean—we will not call him otherwise in future—had risen, andsaid to Fantine in his gentlest, calmest voice,—

"Do not be alarmed: he has not come for you."

Then he turned to Javert and said,—

"I know what you want."

And Javert answered,—

"Come, make haste—"

There was something savage and frenzied in the accent that accompaniedthese words; no orthographer could write it down, for it was no longerhuman speech, but a roar. He did not behave as usual, he did not enterinto the matter or display his warrant. To him Jean Valjean was asort of mysterious combatant, a dark wrestler with whom he had beenstruggling for five years, and had been unable to throw. This arrestwas not a beginning but an end, and he confined himself to saying,"Come, make haste." While speaking thus, he did not advance: he merelydarted at Jean Valjean the look which he threw out as a grapple, andwith which he violently drew wretches to him. It was this look whichFantine had felt pierce to her marrow two months before. On hearingJavert's roar, Fantine opened her eyes again; but the Mayor waspresent, so what had she to fear? Javert walked into the middle of theroom and cried,—

"Well, are you coming?"

The unhappy girl looked around her. No one was present but the nun andthe Mayor; to whom, then, could this humiliating remark be addressed?Only to herself. She shuddered. Then she saw an extraordinarything,—so extraordinary that nothing like it had ever appeared in thedarkest delirium of fever. She saw the policeman Javert seize the Mayorby the collar, and she saw the Mayor bow his head. It seemed to her asif the end of the world had arrived.

"Monsieur le Maire!" Fantine screamed.

Javert burst into a laugh,—that frightful laugh which showed all histeeth.

"There is no Monsieur le Maire here."

Jean Valjean did not attempt to remove the hand that grasped hiscollar; he said,—


Javert interrupted him: "Call me Monsieur the Inspector."

"I should like to say a word to you in private, sir," Jean Valjeancontinued.

"Speak up," Javert answered; "people talk aloud to me."

Jean Valjean went on in a low voice,—

"It is a request I have to make of you."

"I tell you to speak up."

"But it must only be heard by yourself—"

"What do I care for that? I am not listening!"

Jean Valjean turned to him and said rapidly, and in a very low voice,—

"Grant me three days,—three days to go and fetch this unhappy woman'schild! I will pay whatever you ask, and you can accompany me if youlike."

"You must be joking," Javert cried. "Why, I did not think you such afool! You ask three days of me that you may bolt! You say that it is tofetch this girl's brat! Ah, ah, that is rich, very rich!"

Fantine had a tremor.

"My child!" she exclaimed,—"to go and fetch my child? Then she is nothere! Sister, answer me,—where is Cosette? I want my child! MonsieurMadeleine, M. le Maire!"

Javert stamped his foot.

"There's the other beginning now; will you be quiet, wench? A devil'sown country, where galley-slaves are magistrates, and street-walkersare nursed like countesses. Well, well, it will be altered now, andit's time for it."

He looked fixedly at Fantine, and added, as he took a fresh hold ofJean Valjean's cravat, shirt, and coat-collar,—

"I tell you there is no M. Madeleine and no Monsieur le Maire; butthere is a robber, a brigand, a convict of the name of Jean Valjean,and I've got him,—that's what there is!"

Fantine rose, supporting herself on her stiffened arms and hands; shelooked at Jean Valjean; she looked at Javert; she looked at the nun;she opened her mouth as if to speak, but there was a rattle in herthroat, her teeth chattered, she stretched out her arms, convulsivelyopening her hands, clutching like a drowning man, and then suddenlyfell back on the pillow. Her head struck against the bed-head, and fellback on her breast with gaping mouth and open eyes. She was dead. JeanValjean laid his hand on that one of Javert's which held him, opened itas if it had been a child's hand, and then said to Javert,—

"You have killed this woman."

"Enough of this!" Javert shouted furiously. "I am not here to listento abuse, so you can save your breath. There is a guard down below, socome quickly, or I shall handcuff you."

There was in the corner of the room an old iron bedstead in a badcondition, which the sisters used as a sofa when they were sitting upat night. Jean Valjean went to this bed, tore off in a twinkling thehead piece,—an easy thing for muscles like his,—seized the supportingbar, and looked at Javert. Javert recoiled to the door. Jean Valjean,with the iron bar in his hand, walked slowly up to Fantine's bed; whenhe reached it, he turned and said to Javert in a scarcely audiblevoice,—

"I would advise you not to disturb me just at present."

One thing is certain,—Javert trembled. He thought of going to fetchthe guard, but Jean Valjean might take advantage of the moment toescape. He therefore remained, clutched his stick by the small end, andleaned against the door-post, without taking his eyes off Jean Valjean.The latter rested his elbow on the bedstead, and his forehead on hishand, and began contemplating Fantine, who lay motionless before him.He remained thus, absorbed and silent, and evidently not thinking ofanything else in the world. On his face and in his attitude there wasonly an indescribable pity. After a few minutes passed in this reverie,he stooped over Fantine and spoke to her in a low voice. What did hesay to her? What could this outcast man say to this dead woman? No oneon earth heard the words, but did that dead woman hear them? There aretouching illusions, which are perhaps sublime realities. One thing isindubitable, that Sister Simplice, the sole witness of what took place,has frequently declared that at the moment when Jean Valjean whisperedin Fantine's ear, she distinctly saw an ineffable smile playing roundher pale lips and in her vague eyeballs, which were full of theamazement of the tomb. Jean Valjean took Fantine's head in his hands,and laid it on the pillow, as a mother might have done to a child.Then he tied the strings of her nightgown, and thrust her hair underher cap. When this was done, he closed her eyes. Fantine's face atthis moment seemed strangely illumined, for death is the entrance intobrilliant light. Fantine's hand was hanging out of bed; Jean Valjeanknelt down by this hand, gently raised and kissed it. Then he rose andturned to Javert,—

"Now I am at your service."



Javert placed Jean Valjean in the town jail. The arrest of M. Madeleineproduced an extraordinary commotion in M——, but it is sad to haveto say that nearly everybody abandoned him on hearing that he was agalley-slave. In less than two hours all the good he had done wasforgotten, and he was only a galley-slave. It is but fair to say,though, that they did not yet know the details of the affair at Arras.The whole day through, conversations like the following could be heardin all parts of the town:—

"Don't you know? he is a liberated convict.—Who is?—TheMayor.—Nonsense. M. Madeleine?—Yes.—Really?—His name is notMadeleine, but some hideous thing like Béjean, Bojean, Boujean.—Oh,my goodness—he has been arrested, and will remain in the town jailtill he is removed.—Removed! where to?—He will be tried at theassizes for a highway robbery which he formerly committed.—Well,do you know, I always suspected that man, for he was too kind, tooperfect, too devout. He refused the cross, and gave sous to all thelittle scamps he met. I always thought that there was some black storybehind."

The "drawing-rooms" greatly improved the occasion. An old lady, whosubscribed to the Drapeau Blanc, made this remark, whose depth it isalmost impossible to fathom,—

"Well, I do not feel sorry at it, for it will be a lesson to theBuonapartists."

It is thus that the phantom which called itself M. Madeleine fadedaway at M——; only three or four persons in the whole town remainedfaithful to his memory, and his old servant was one of them. On theevening of the same day this worthy old woman was sitting in her lodge,still greatly startled and indulging in sad thoughts. The factoryhad been closed all day, the gates were bolted, and the street wasdeserted. There was no one in the house but the two nuns, who werewatching by Fantine's body. Toward the hour when M. Madeleine was wontto come in, the worthy portress rose mechanically, took the key ofM. Madeleine's bed-room from a drawer, and the candlestick which heused at night to go up-stairs; then she hung the key on the nail fromwhich he usually took it, and placed the candlestick by its side, asif she expected him. Then she sat down again and began thinking. Thepoor old woman had done all this unconsciously. She did not break offher reverie for two or three hours, and then exclaimed: "Only think ofthat! I have hung his key on the nail!"

At this moment the window of the lodge was opened, a hand was passedthrough the opening, which seized the key and lit the candle by hers.The portress raised her eyes, and stood with gaping mouth, but sherepressed the cry which was in her throat; for she recognized thishand, this arm, this coat-sleeve, as belonging to M. Madeleine. It wassome minutes ere she could speak, for she "was struck," as she saidafterwards when describing the adventure.

"Good gracious, M. le Maire!" she at length exclaimed, "I fancied—"

She stopped, for the end of the sentence would have been disrespectfulto the first part. Jean Valjean was still Monsieur le Maire with her.He completed her thought.

"That I was in prison?" he said. "I was so, but I pulled out a bar,leaped out, and here I am. I am going up to my room; go and fetchSister Simplice, who doubtless is by the side of that poor woman."

The old servant hastened to obey; he said nothing further to her,for he was quite sure that she would guard him better than he couldhimself. It was never known how he managed to get into the yard withouthaving the gate opened. He always carried about him a master-key, whichopened a little side door, but he must have been searched and this keytaken from him. This point was not cleared up. He went up the stairsthat led to his room, and on reaching the landing, left the candleon the top stair, closed his window and shutters, and then enteredthe room with the candle. This precaution was useful, for it will beremembered that his window could be noticed from the street. He took aglance around him, at his table, his chair, his bed, which had not beenslept in for three nights. No trace of that night's disorder remained,for the portress "had done his room;" but she had picked out of theashes and laid neatly on the table the two iron ends of the stick andthe forty-sous piece, which was blackened by the fire. He took a sheetof paper, on which he wrote, "This is the two-franc piece stolen fromLittle Gervais to which I alluded in court," and he laid the coin onthe paper, so that it should be the first thing seen on entering theroom. He took from a drawer an old shirt which he tore up, and wrappedthe two candlesticks in the rags. Still, he displayed no haste oragitation, and while wrapping up the candlesticks he ate a piece ofblack bread,—probably the prison bread which he took with him on hisescape. This fact was proved by the crumbs found on the boards whenthe authorities made an investigation at a later date. There were twogentle taps at the door. "Come in," he said.

It was Sister Simplice; she was pale, her eyes were red, and thecandle she held shook in her hand. Violent events of destiny have thispeculiarity, that however perfect or cold we may be, they draw humannature out of our entrails and compel it to reappear on the surface. Inthe emotions of this day the nun had become a woman again; she had weptand was trembling. Jean Valjean had just finished writing some lineson a piece of paper, which he handed to the sister, with the remark,"Sister, you will deliver this to the Curé?"

As the paper was open, she turned her eyes on it. "You may read it," hesaid.

She read, "I request the Curé to take charge of all that I leave here.He will be good enough to defray out of it the costs of my trial andthe interment of the woman who died this morning. The rest will be forthe poor."

The sister attempted to speak, but could only produce a fewinarticulate sounds: at length she managed to say,—

"Do you not wish to see the poor unhappy girl for the last time, sir?"

"No," he said; "I am pursued, and if I were to be arrested in her roomit would disturb her."

He had scarce said this, ere a great noise broke out on the staircase:they heard a tumult of ascending steps, and the old servant cry in herloudest and most piercing voice,—

"My good sir, I can take my oath that no one has come in here all dayor all the evening, and I have not left my lodge once."

A man answered,—

"But there is a light in that room."

They recognized Javert's voice. The room was so built that the door,on being thrown open, concealed a nook in the right-hand wall: JeanValjean blew out the light and crept into the nook. Sister Simplicefell on her knees by the table, as the door opened and Javert entered.The voices of several men and the protestations of the old portresscould be heard. The nun did not raise her eyes: she was praying. Hercandle was on the chimney and gave but little light, and on noticingthe nun, Javert halted in great confusion. It will be rememberedthat the very basis of Javert, his element, the air he breathed, wasreverence for all authority: he was all of one piece, and allowed noobjection or limitation. With him, of course, ecclesiastical authoritywas the highest of all: he was religious, superficial, and correct onthis point as on all. In his eyes, a priest was a spirit that does notdeceive, a nun a creature who does not sin. Theirs were souls walledup against the world with only one door, which never opened except tolet truth pass out. On noticing the sister, his first movement was towithdraw, but he had another duty too, which imperiously urged him inan opposite direction. His second impulse was to remain, and at leastventure one question. Sister Simplice had never told a falsehood in herlife: Javert was aware of this, and especially revered her for it.

"Sister," he asked, "are you alone in the room?"

There was a terrible moment, during which the old servant felt as ifshe were going to faint: the sister raised her eyes and said, "Yes."

"In that case," Javert continued, "I beg your pardon for pressing you,but it is my duty,—you have not seen this evening a person, a manwho has escaped and we are seeking,—that fellow of the name of JeanValjean. Have you seen him?"

The sister answered "No."

She had told two falsehoods, one upon the other, without hesitation,rapidly, as if devoting herself.

"I beg your pardon," said Javert; and he withdrew with a deep bow.

Oh, holy woman! it is many years since you were on this earth; you haverejoined in the light your sisters the virgins and your brothers theangels; may this falsehood be placed to your credit in Paradise!

The sister's assertion was so decisive for Javert that he did notnotice the singular fact of the candle just blown out, and which wasstill smoking on the table. An hour later a man, making his way throughthe fog, was hurrying away from M—— in the direction of Paris. Thisman was Jean Valjean; and it was proved, by the testimony of two orthree carriers who met him, that he was carrying a bundle and wasdressed in a blouse. Where did he procure this blouse from? It wasnever known; but a few days before, an old workman had died in theinfirmary of the sailors, leaving only a blouse. It might have beenthat one.

One last word about Fantine. We have all one mother, the earth, andFantine was given back to that mother. The Curé thought he was doinghis duty, and perhaps did it, in keeping as much money for the poor ashe possibly could out of what Jean Valjean left him. After all, whowere the people interested? A convict and a street-walker: hence hesimplified Fantine's interment, and reduced it to what is called the"public grave." Fantine was therefore interred in the free corner ofthe cemetery, which belongs to everybody and to nobody, and where thepoor are lost. Fortunately God knows where to look for a soul. Fantinewas laid in the darkness among a pile of promiscuous bones in thepublic grave. Her tomb resembled her bed.


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The Project Gutenberg eBook of Les Misérables, volume 1, by Victor Hugo. (2024)
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