Les Misérables by Victor Hugo 7


At nightfall, Javert had posted his men and had gone into ambush himself
between the trees of the Rue de la Barrieredes-Gobelins which faced
the Gorbeau house, on the other side of the boulevard. He had begun
operations by opening "his pockets," and dropping into it the two young
girls who were charged with keeping a watch on the approaches to the
den. But he had only "caged" Azelma. As for Eponine, she was not at her
post, she had disappeared, and he had not been able to seize her. Then
Javert had made a point and had bent his ear to waiting for the signal
agreed upon. The comings and goings of the fiacres had greatly agitated
him. At last, he had grown impatient, and, sure that there was a nest
there, sure of being in "luck," having recognized many of the ruffians
who had entered, he had finally decided to go upstairs without waiting
for the pistol-shot.

It will be remembered that he had Marius' pass-key.

He had arrived just in the nick of time.

The terrified ruffians flung themselves on the arms which they had
abandoned in all the corners at the moment of flight. In less than a
second, these seven men, horrible to behold, had grouped themselves in
an attitude of defence, one with his meat-axe, another with his key,
another with his bludgeon, the rest with shears, pincers, and hammers.
Thenardier had his knife in his fist. The Thenardier woman snatched up
an enormous paving-stone which lay in the angle of the window and served
her daughters as an ottoman.

[Illustration: Snatched up a Paving Stone  3b8-21-paving-stone]

Javert put on his hat again, and advanced a couple of paces into the
room, with arms folded, his cane under one arm, his sword in its sheath.

"Halt there," said he. "You shall not go out by the window, you shall go
through the door. It's less unhealthy. There are seven of you, there
are fifteen of us. Don't let's fall to collaring each other like men of

Bigrenaille drew out a pistol which he had kept concealed under his
blouse, and put it in Thenardier's hand, whispering in the latter's

"It's Javert. I don't dare fire at that man. Do you dare?"

"Parbleu!" replied Thenardier.

"Well, then, fire."

Thenardier took the pistol and aimed at Javert.

Javert, who was only three paces from him, stared intently at him and
contented himself with saying:--

"Come now, don't fire. You'll miss fire."

Thenardier pulled the trigger. The pistol missed fire.

"Didn't I tell you so!" ejaculated Javert.

Bigrenaille flung his bludgeon at Javert's feet.

"You're the emperor of the fiends! I surrender."

"And you?" Javert asked the rest of the ruffians.

They replied:--

"So do we."

Javert began again calmly:--

"That's right, that's good, I said so, you are nice fellows."

"I only ask one thing," said Bigrenaille, "and that is, that I may not
be denied tobacco while I am in confinement."

"Granted," said Javert.

And turning round and calling behind him:--

"Come in now!"

A squad of policemen, sword in hand, and agents armed with bludgeons and
cudgels, rushed in at Javert's summons. They pinioned the ruffians.

This throng of men, sparely lighted by the single candle, filled the den
with shadows.

"Handcuff them all!" shouted Javert.

"Come on!" cried a voice which was not the voice of a man, but of which
no one would ever have said: "It is a woman's voice."

The Thenardier woman had entrenched herself in one of the angles of the
window, and it was she who had just given vent to this roar.

The policemen and agents recoiled.

She had thrown off her shawl, but retained her bonnet; her husband, who
was crouching behind her, was almost hidden under the discarded
shawl, and she was shielding him with her body, as she elevated the
paving-stone above her head with the gesture of a giantess on the point
of hurling a rock.

"Beware!" she shouted.

All crowded back towards the corridor. A broad open space was cleared in
the middle of the garret.

The Thenardier woman cast a glance at the ruffians who had allowed
themselves to be pinioned, and muttered in hoarse and guttural

"The cowards!"

Javert smiled, and advanced across the open space which the Thenardier
was devouring with her eyes.

"Don't come near me," she cried, "or I'll crush you."

"What a grenadier!" ejaculated Javert; "you've got a beard like a man,
mother, but I have claws like a woman."

And he continued to advance.

The Thenardier, dishevelled and terrible, set her feet far apart, threw
herself backwards, and hurled the paving-stone at Javert's head. Javert
ducked, the stone passed over him, struck the wall behind, knocked off a
huge piece of plastering, and, rebounding from angle to angle across the
hovel, now luckily almost empty, rested at Javert's feet.

At the same moment, Javert reached the Thenardier couple. One of his
big hands descended on the woman's shoulder; the other on the husband's

"The handcuffs!" he shouted.

The policemen trooped in in force, and in a few seconds Javert's order
had been executed.

The Thenardier female, overwhelmed, stared at her pinioned hands, and
at those of her husband, who had dropped to the floor, and exclaimed,

"My daughters!"

"They are in the jug," said Javert.

In the meanwhile, the agents had caught sight of the drunken man asleep
behind the door, and were shaking him:--

He awoke, stammering:--

"Is it all over, Jondrette?"

"Yes," replied Javert.

The six pinioned ruffians were standing, and still preserved their
spectral mien; all three besmeared with black, all three masked.

"Keep on your masks," said Javert.

And passing them in review with a glance of a Frederick II. at a Potsdam
parade, he said to the three "chimney-builders":--

"Good day, Bigrenaille! good day, Brujon! good day, Deuxmilliards!"

Then turning to the three masked men, he said to the man with the

"Good day, Gueulemer!"

And to the man with the cudgel:--

"Good day, Babet!"

And to the ventriloquist:--

"Your health, Claquesous."

At that moment, he caught sight of the ruffians' prisoner, who, ever
since the entrance of the police, had not uttered a word, and had held
his head down.

"Untie the gentleman!" said Javert, "and let no one go out!"

That said, he seated himself with sovereign dignity before the table,
where the candle and the writing-materials still remained, drew a
stamped paper from his pocket, and began to prepare his report.

When he had written the first lines, which are formulas that never vary,
he raised his eyes:--

"Let the gentleman whom these gentlemen bound step forward."

The policemen glanced round them.

"Well," said Javert, "where is he?"

The prisoner of the ruffians, M. Leblanc, M. Urbain Fabre, the father of
Ursule or the Lark, had disappeared.

The door was guarded, but the window was not. As soon as he had found
himself released from his bonds, and while Javert was drawing up his
report, he had taken advantage of confusion, the crowd, the darkness,
and of a moment when the general attention was diverted from him, to
dash out of the window.

An agent sprang to the opening and looked out. He saw no one outside.

The rope ladder was still shaking.

"The devil!" ejaculated Javert between his teeth, "he must have been the
most valuable of the lot."


On the day following that on which these events took place in the house
on the Boulevard de l'Hopital, a child, who seemed to be coming from the
direction of the bridge of Austerlitz, was ascending the side-alley on
the right in the direction of the Barriere de Fontainebleau.

Night had fully come.

This lad was pale, thin, clad in rags, with linen trousers in the month
of February, and was singing at the top of his voice.

At the corner of the Rue du Petit-Banquier, a bent old woman was
rummaging in a heap of refuse by the light of a street lantern; the
child jostled her as he passed, then recoiled, exclaiming:--

"Hello! And I took it for an enormous, enormous dog!"

He pronounced the word enormous the second time with a jeering swell
of the voice which might be tolerably well represented by capitals: "an
enormous, ENORMOUS dog."

The old woman straightened herself up in a fury.

"Nasty brat!" she grumbled. "If I hadn't been bending over, I know well
where I would have planted my foot on you."

The boy was already far away.

"Kisss! kisss!" he cried. "After that, I don't think I was mistaken!"

The old woman, choking with indignation, now rose completely upright,
and the red gleam of the lantern fully lighted up her livid face, all
hollowed into angles and wrinkles, with crow's-feet meeting the corners
of her mouth.

Her body was lost in the darkness, and only her head was visible. One
would have pronounced her a mask of Decrepitude carved out by a light
from the night.

The boy surveyed her.

"Madame," said he, "does not possess that style of beauty which pleases

He then pursued his road, and resumed his song:--

               "Le roi Coupdesabot
               S'en allait a la chasse,
               A la chasse aux corbeaux--"

At the end of these three lines he paused. He had arrived in front of
No. 50-52, and finding the door fastened, he began to assault it with
resounding and heroic kicks, which betrayed rather the man's shoes that
he was wearing than the child's feet which he owned.

In the meanwhile, the very old woman whom he had encountered at the
corner of the Rue du Petit-Banquier hastened up behind him, uttering
clamorous cries and indulging in lavish and exaggerated gestures.

"What's this? What's this? Lord God! He's battering the door down! He's
knocking the house down."

The kicks continued.

The old woman strained her lungs.

"Is that the way buildings are treated nowadays?"

All at once she paused.

She had recognized the gamin.

"What! so it's that imp!"

"Why, it's the old lady," said the lad. "Good day, Bougonmuche. I have
come to see my ancestors."

The old woman retorted with a composite grimace, and a wonderful
improvisation of hatred taking advantage of feebleness and ugliness,
which was, unfortunately, wasted in the dark:--

"There's no one here."

"Bah!" retorted the boy, "where's my father?"

"At La Force."

"Come, now! And my mother?"

"At Saint-Lazare."

"Well! And my sisters?"

"At the Madelonettes."

The lad scratched his head behind his ear, stared at Ma'am Bougon, and


Then he executed a pirouette on his heel; a moment later, the old woman,
who had remained on the door-step, heard him singing in his clear, young
voice, as he plunged under the black elm-trees, in the wintry wind:--

               "Le roi Coupdesabot[31]
               S'en allait a la chasse,
               A la chasse aux corbeaux,
               Monte sur deux echasses.
               Quand on passait dessous,
               On lui payait deux sous."



[Illustration: Frontispiece Volume Four]

[Illustration: Titlepage Volume Four]




1831 and 1832, the two years which are immediately connected with the
Revolution of July, form one of the most peculiar and striking moments
of history. These two years rise like two mountains midway between those
which precede and those which follow them. They have a revolutionary
grandeur. Precipices are to be distinguished there. The social masses,
the very assizes of civilization, the solid group of superposed and
adhering interests, the century-old profiles of the ancient French
formation, appear and disappear in them every instant, athwart the storm
clouds of systems, of passions, and of theories. These appearances
and disappearances have been designated as movement and resistance.
At intervals, truth, that daylight of the human soul, can be descried
shining there.

This remarkable epoch is decidedly circumscribed and is beginning to
be sufficiently distant from us to allow of our grasping the principal
lines even at the present day.

We shall make the attempt.

The Restoration had been one of those intermediate phases, hard to
define, in which there is fatigue, buzzing, murmurs, sleep, tumult,
and which are nothing else than the arrival of a great nation at a

These epochs are peculiar and mislead the politicians who desire to
convert them to profit. In the beginning, the nation asks nothing but
repose; it thirsts for but one thing, peace; it has but one ambition,
to be small. Which is the translation of remaining tranquil. Of great
events, great hazards, great adventures, great men, thank God, we
have seen enough, we have them heaped higher than our heads. We would
exchange Caesar for Prusias, and Napoleon for the King of Yvetot. "What
a good little king was he!" We have marched since daybreak, we have
reached the evening of a long and toilsome day; we have made our first
change with Mirabeau, the second with Robespierre, the third with
Bonaparte; we are worn out. Each one demands a bed.

Devotion which is weary, heroism which has grown old, ambitions which
are sated, fortunes which are made, seek, demand, implore, solicit,
what? A shelter. They have it. They take possession of peace, of
tranquillity, of leisure; behold, they are content. But, at the same
time certain facts arise, compel recognition, and knock at the door in
their turn. These facts are the products of revolutions and wars, they
are, they exist, they have the right to install themselves in society,
and they do install themselves therein; and most of the time, facts
are the stewards of the household and fouriers[32] who do nothing but
prepare lodgings for principles.

This, then, is what appears to philosophical politicians:--

At the same time that weary men demand repose, accomplished facts demand
guarantees. Guarantees are the same to facts that repose is to men.

This is what England demanded of the Stuarts after the Protector; this
is what France demanded of the Bourbons after the Empire.

These guarantees are a necessity of the times. They must be accorded.
Princes "grant" them, but in reality, it is the force of things which
gives them. A profound truth, and one useful to know, which the Stuarts
did not suspect in 1662 and which the Bourbons did not even obtain a
glimpse of in 1814.

The predestined family, which returned to France when Napoleon fell, had
the fatal simplicity to believe that it was itself which bestowed, and
that what it had bestowed it could take back again; that the House of
Bourbon possessed the right divine, that France possessed nothing, and
that the political right conceded in the charter of Louis XVIII. was
merely a branch of the right divine, was detached by the House of
Bourbon and graciously given to the people until such day as it should
please the King to reassume it. Still, the House of Bourbon should have
felt, from the displeasure created by the gift, that it did not come
from it.

This house was churlish to the nineteenth century. It put on an
ill-tempered look at every development of the nation. To make use of a
trivial word, that is to say, of a popular and a true word, it looked
glum. The people saw this.

It thought it possessed strength because the Empire had been carried
away before it like a theatrical stage-setting. It did not perceive that
it had, itself, been brought in in the same fashion. It did not perceive
that it also lay in that hand which had removed Napoleon.

It thought that it had roots, because it was the past. It was mistaken;
it formed a part of the past, but the whole past was France. The roots
of French society were not fixed in the Bourbons, but in the nations.
These obscure and lively roots constituted, not the right of a family,
but the history of a people. They were everywhere, except under the

The House of Bourbon was to France the illustrious and bleeding knot in
her history, but was no longer the principal element of her destiny,
and the necessary base of her politics. She could get along without the
Bourbons; she had done without them for two and twenty years; there
had been a break of continuity; they did not suspect the fact. And how
should they have suspected it, they who fancied that Louis XVII. reigned
on the 9th of Thermidor, and that Louis XVIII. was reigning at the
battle of Marengo? Never, since the origin of history, had princes been
so blind in the presence of facts and the portion of divine authority
which facts contain and promulgate. Never had that pretension here below
which is called the right of kings denied to such a point the right from
on high.

A capital error which led this family to lay its hand once more on the
guarantees "granted" in 1814, on the concessions, as it termed them.
Sad. A sad thing! What it termed its concessions were our conquests;
what it termed our encroachments were our rights.

When the hour seemed to it to have come, the Restoration, supposing
itself victorious over Bonaparte and well-rooted in the country, that is
to say, believing itself to be strong and deep, abruptly decided on its
plan of action, and risked its stroke. One morning it drew itself up
before the face of France, and, elevating its voice, it contested the
collective title and the individual right of the nation to sovereignty,
of the citizen to liberty. In other words, it denied to the nation
that which made it a nation, and to the citizen that which made him a

This is the foundation of those famous acts which are called the
ordinances of July. The Restoration fell.

It fell justly. But, we admit, it had not been absolutely hostile to
all forms of progress. Great things had been accomplished, with it

Under the Restoration, the nation had grown accustomed to calm
discussion, which had been lacking under the Republic, and to grandeur
in peace, which had been wanting under the Empire. France free and
strong had offered an encouraging spectacle to the other peoples of
Europe. The Revolution had had the word under Robespierre; the cannon
had had the word under Bonaparte; it was under Louis XVIII. and Charles
X. that it was the turn of intelligence to have the word. The wind
ceased, the torch was lighted once more. On the lofty heights, the
pure light of mind could be seen flickering. A magnificent, useful, and
charming spectacle. For a space of fifteen years, those great principles
which are so old for the thinker, so new for the statesman, could be
seen at work in perfect peace, on the public square; equality before the
law, liberty of conscience, liberty of speech, liberty of the press, the
accessibility of all aptitudes to all functions. Thus it proceeded until
1830. The Bourbons were an instrument of civilization which broke in the
hands of Providence.

The fall of the Bourbons was full of grandeur, not on their side, but
on the side of the nation. They quitted the throne with gravity, but
without authority; their descent into the night was not one of those
solemn disappearances which leave a sombre emotion in history; it
was neither the spectral calm of Charles I., nor the eagle scream of
Napoleon. They departed, that is all. They laid down the crown, and
retained no aureole. They were worthy, but they were not august. They
lacked, in a certain measure, the majesty of their misfortune. Charles
X. during the voyage from Cherbourg, causing a round table to be cut
over into a square table, appeared to be more anxious about imperilled
etiquette than about the crumbling monarchy. This diminution saddened
devoted men who loved their persons, and serious men who honored their
race. The populace was admirable. The nation, attacked one morning with
weapons, by a sort of royal insurrection, felt itself in the possession
of so much force that it did not go into a rage. It defended itself,
restrained itself, restored things to their places, the government to
law, the Bourbons to exile, alas! and then halted! It took the old king
Charles X. from beneath that dais which had sheltered Louis XIV. and
set him gently on the ground. It touched the royal personages only with
sadness and precaution. It was not one man, it was not a few men, it
was France, France entire, France victorious and intoxicated with her
victory, who seemed to be coming to herself, and who put into practice,
before the eyes of the whole world, these grave words of Guillaume du
Vair after the day of the Barricades:--

"It is easy for those who are accustomed to skim the favors of the
great, and to spring, like a bird from bough to bough, from an afflicted
fortune to a flourishing one, to show themselves harsh towards their
Prince in his adversity; but as for me, the fortune of my Kings and
especially of my afflicted Kings, will always be venerable to me."

The Bourbons carried away with them respect, but not regret. As we have
just stated, their misfortune was greater than they were. They faded out
in the horizon.

The Revolution of July instantly had friends and enemies throughout the
entire world. The first rushed toward her with joy and enthusiasm, the
others turned away, each according to his nature. At the first blush,
the princes of Europe, the owls of this dawn, shut their eyes, wounded
and stupefied, and only opened them to threaten. A fright which can be
comprehended, a wrath which can be pardoned. This strange revolution had
hardly produced a shock; it had not even paid to vanquished royalty the
honor of treating it as an enemy, and of shedding its blood. In the eyes
of despotic governments, who are always interested in having liberty
calumniate itself, the Revolution of July committed the fault of being
formidable and of remaining gentle. Nothing, however, was attempted or
plotted against it. The most discontented, the most irritated, the most
trembling, saluted it; whatever our egotism and our rancor may be, a
mysterious respect springs from events in which we are sensible of the
collaboration of some one who is working above man.

The Revolution of July is the triumph of right overthrowing the fact. A
thing which is full of splendor.

Right overthrowing the fact. Hence the brilliancy of the Revolution of
1830, hence, also, its mildness. Right triumphant has no need of being

Right is the just and the true.

The property of right is to remain eternally beautiful and pure. The
fact, even when most necessary to all appearances, even when most
thoroughly accepted by contemporaries, if it exist only as a fact, and
if it contain only too little of right, or none at all, is infallibly
destined to become, in the course of time, deformed, impure, perhaps,
even monstrous. If one desires to learn at one blow, to what degree of
hideousness the fact can attain, viewed at the distance of centuries,
let him look at Machiavelli. Machiavelli is not an evil genius, nor a
demon, nor a miserable and cowardly writer; he is nothing but the fact.
And he is not only the Italian fact; he is the European fact, the
fact of the sixteenth century. He seems hideous, and so he is, in the
presence of the moral idea of the nineteenth.

This conflict of right and fact has been going on ever since the origin
of society. To terminate this duel, to amalgamate the pure idea with the
humane reality, to cause right to penetrate pacifically into the fact
and the fact into right, that is the task of sages.


But the task of sages is one thing, the task of clever men is another.
The Revolution of 1830 came to a sudden halt.

As soon as a revolution has made the coast, the skilful make haste to
prepare the shipwreck.

The skilful in our century have conferred on themselves the title of
Statesmen; so that this word, statesmen, has ended by becoming somewhat
of a slang word. It must be borne in mind, in fact, that wherever
there is nothing but skill, there is necessarily pettiness. To say "the
skilful" amounts to saying "the mediocre."

In the same way, to say "statesmen" is sometimes equivalent to saying
"traitors." If, then, we are to believe the skilful, revolutions like
the Revolution of July are severed arteries; a prompt ligature is
indispensable. The right, too grandly proclaimed, is shaken. Also, right
once firmly fixed, the state must be strengthened. Liberty once assured,
attention must be directed to power.

Here the sages are not, as yet, separated from the skilful, but they
begin to be distrustful. Power, very good. But, in the first place, what
is power? In the second, whence comes it? The skilful do not seem to
hear the murmured objection, and they continue their manoeuvres.

According to the politicians, who are ingenious in putting the mask
of necessity on profitable fictions, the first requirement of a people
after a revolution, when this people forms part of a monarchical
continent, is to procure for itself a dynasty. In this way, say they,
peace, that is to say, time to dress our wounds, and to repair
the house, can be had after a revolution. The dynasty conceals the
scaffolding and covers the ambulance. Now, it is not always easy to
procure a dynasty.

If it is absolutely necessary, the first man of genius or even the first
man of fortune who comes to hand suffices for the manufacturing of a
king. You have, in the first case, Napoleon; in the second, Iturbide.

But the first family that comes to hand does not suffice to make a
dynasty. There is necessarily required a certain modicum of antiquity in
a race, and the wrinkle of the centuries cannot be improvised.

If we place ourselves at the point of view of the "statesmen," after
making all allowances, of course, after a revolution, what are the
qualities of the king which result from it? He may be and it is useful
for him to be a revolutionary; that is to say, a participant in his own
person in that revolution, that he should have lent a hand to it, that
he should have either compromised or distinguished himself therein, that
he should have touched the axe or wielded the sword in it.

What are the qualities of a dynasty? It should be national; that is to
say, revolutionary at a distance, not through acts committed, but by
reason of ideas accepted. It should be composed of past and be historic;
be composed of future and be sympathetic.

All this explains why the early revolutions contented themselves with
finding a man, Cromwell or Napoleon; and why the second absolutely
insisted on finding a family, the House of Brunswick or the House of

Royal houses resemble those Indian fig-trees, each branch of which,
bending over to the earth, takes root and becomes a fig-tree itself.
Each branch may become a dynasty. On the sole condition that it shall
bend down to the people.

Such is the theory of the skilful.

Here, then, lies the great art: to make a little render to success the
sound of a catastrophe in order that those who profit by it may tremble
from it also, to season with fear every step that is taken, to augment
the curve of the transition to the point of retarding progress, to dull
that aurora, to denounce and retrench the harshness of enthusiasm, to
cut all angles and nails, to wad triumph, to muffle up right, to envelop
the giant-people in flannel, and to put it to bed very speedily, to
impose a diet on that excess of health, to put Hercules on the treatment
of a convalescent, to dilute the event with the expedient, to offer to
spirits thirsting for the ideal that nectar thinned out with a potion,
to take one's precautions against too much success, to garnish the
revolution with a shade.

1830 practised this theory, already applied to England by 1688.

1830 is a revolution arrested midway. Half of progress, quasi-right.
Now, logic knows not the "almost," absolutely as the sun knows not the

Who arrests revolutions half-way? The bourgeoisie?


Because the bourgeoisie is interest which has reached satisfaction.
Yesterday it was appetite, to-day it is plenitude, to-morrow it will be

The phenomenon of 1814 after Napoleon was reproduced in 1830 after
Charles X.

The attempt has been made, and wrongly, to make a class of the
bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is simply the contented portion of the
people. The bourgeois is the man who now has time to sit down. A chair
is not a caste.

But through a desire to sit down too soon, one may arrest the very march
of the human race. This has often been the fault of the bourgeoisie.

One is not a class because one has committed a fault. Selfishness is not
one of the divisions of the social order.

Moreover, we must be just to selfishness. The state to which that part
of the nation which is called the bourgeoisie aspired after the shock
of 1830 was not the inertia which is complicated with indifference and
laziness, and which contains a little shame; it was not the slumber
which presupposes a momentary forgetfulness accessible to dreams; it was
the halt.

The halt is a word formed of a singular double and almost contradictory
sense: a troop on the march, that is to say, movement; a stand, that is
to say, repose.

The halt is the restoration of forces; it is repose armed and on the
alert; it is the accomplished fact which posts sentinels and holds
itself on its guard.

The halt presupposes the combat of yesterday and the combat of

It is the partition between 1830 and 1848.

What we here call combat may also be designated as progress.

The bourgeoisie then, as well as the statesmen, required a man who
should express this word Halt. An Although-Because. A composite
individuality, signifying revolution and signifying stability, in other
terms, strengthening the present by the evident compatibility of the
past with the future.

This man was "already found." His name was Louis Philippe d'Orleans.

The 221 made Louis Philippe King. Lafayette undertook the coronation.

He called it the best of republics. The town-hall of Paris took the
place of the Cathedral of Rheims.

This substitution of a half-throne for a whole throne was "the work of

When the skilful had finished, the immense vice of their solution became
apparent. All this had been accomplished outside the bounds of absolute
right. Absolute right cried: "I protest!" then, terrible to say, it
retired into the darkness.


Revolutions have a terrible arm and a happy hand, they strike firmly and
choose well. Even incomplete, even debased and abused and reduced to the
state of a junior revolution like the Revolution of 1830, they nearly
always retain sufficient providential lucidity to prevent them from
falling amiss. Their eclipse is never an abdication.

Nevertheless, let us not boast too loudly; revolutions also may be
deceived, and grave errors have been seen.

Let us return to 1830. 1830, in its deviation, had good luck. In the
establishment which entitled itself order after the revolution had been
cut short, the King amounted to more than royalty. Louis Philippe was a
rare man.

The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating
circumstances, but also as worthy of esteem as that father had been of
blame; possessing all private virtues and many public virtues; careful
of his health, of his fortune, of his person, of his affairs, knowing
the value of a minute and not always the value of a year; sober, serene,
peaceable, patient; a good man and a good prince; sleeping with his
wife, and having in his palace lackeys charged with the duty of showing
the conjugal bed to the bourgeois, an ostentation of the regular
sleeping-apartment which had become useful after the former illegitimate
displays of the elder branch; knowing all the languages of Europe, and,
what is more rare, all the languages of all interests, and speaking
them; an admirable representative of the "middle class," but
outstripping it, and in every way greater than it; possessing excellent
sense, while appreciating the blood from which he had sprung, counting
most of all on his intrinsic worth, and, on the question of his race,
very particular, declaring himself Orleans and not Bourbon; thoroughly
the first Prince of the Blood Royal while he was still only a Serene
Highness, but a frank bourgeois from the day he became king; diffuse in
public, concise in private; reputed, but not proved to be a miser; at
bottom, one of those economists who are readily prodigal at their own
fancy or duty; lettered, but not very sensitive to letters; a gentleman,
but not a chevalier; simple, calm, and strong; adored by his family and
his household; a fascinating talker, an undeceived statesman, inwardly
cold, dominated by immediate interest, always governing at the shortest
range, incapable of rancor and of gratitude, making use without mercy of
superiority on mediocrity, clever in getting parliamentary majorities to
put in the wrong those mysterious unanimities which mutter dully under
thrones; unreserved, sometimes imprudent in his lack of reserve, but
with marvellous address in that imprudence; fertile in expedients, in
countenances, in masks; making France fear Europe and Europe France!
Incontestably fond of his country, but preferring his family; assuming
more domination than authority and more authority than dignity, a
disposition which has this unfortunate property, that as it turns
everything to success, it admits of ruse and does not absolutely
repudiate baseness, but which has this valuable side, that it preserves
politics from violent shocks, the state from fractures, and society
from catastrophes; minute, correct, vigilant, attentive, sagacious,
indefatigable; contradicting himself at times and giving himself the
lie; bold against Austria at Ancona, obstinate against England in Spain,
bombarding Antwerp, and paying off Pritchard; singing the Marseillaise
with conviction, inaccessible to despondency, to lassitude, to the taste
for the beautiful and the ideal, to daring generosity, to Utopia, to
chimeras, to wrath, to vanity, to fear; possessing all the forms
of personal intrepidity; a general at Valmy; a soldier at Jemappes;
attacked eight times by regicides and always smiling. Brave as a
grenadier, courageous as a thinker; uneasy only in the face of the
chances of a European shaking up, and unfitted for great political
adventures; always ready to risk his life, never his work; disguising
his will in influence, in order that he might be obeyed as an
intelligence rather than as a king; endowed with observation and not
with divination; not very attentive to minds, but knowing men, that is
to say requiring to see in order to judge; prompt and penetrating
good sense, practical wisdom, easy speech, prodigious memory; drawing
incessantly on this memory, his only point of resemblance with Caesar,
Alexander, and Napoleon; knowing deeds, facts, details, dates, proper
names, ignorant of tendencies, passions, the diverse geniuses of the
crowd, the interior aspirations, the hidden and obscure uprisings of
souls, in a word, all that can be designated as the invisible currents
of consciences; accepted by the surface, but little in accord with
France lower down; extricating himself by dint of tact; governing too
much and not enough; his own first minister; excellent at creating out
of the pettiness of realities an obstacle to the immensity of ideas;
mingling a genuine creative faculty of civilization, of order and
organization, an indescribable spirit of proceedings and chicanery, the
founder and lawyer of a dynasty; having something of Charlemagne and
something of an attorney; in short, a lofty and original figure, a
prince who understood how to create authority in spite of the uneasiness
of France, and power in spite of the jealousy of Europe. Louis Philippe
will be classed among the eminent men of his century, and would be
ranked among the most illustrious governors of history had he loved
glory but a little, and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to
the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.

Louis Philippe had been handsome, and in his old age he remained
graceful; not always approved by the nation, he always was so by the
masses; he pleased. He had that gift of charming. He lacked majesty; he
wore no crown, although a king, and no white hair, although an old man;
his manners belonged to the old regime and his habits to the new; a
mixture of the noble and the bourgeois which suited 1830; Louis Philippe
was transition reigning; he had preserved the ancient pronunciation
and the ancient orthography which he placed at the service of opinions
modern; he loved Poland and Hungary, but he wrote les Polonois, and he
pronounced les Hongrais. He wore the uniform of the national guard, like
Charles X., and the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, like Napoleon.

He went a little to chapel, not at all to the chase, never to the opera.
Incorruptible by sacristans, by whippers-in, by ballet-dancers; this
made a part of his bourgeois popularity. He had no heart. He went out
with his umbrella under his arm, and this umbrella long formed a part of
his aureole. He was a bit of a mason, a bit of a gardener, something
of a doctor; he bled a postilion who had tumbled from his horse; Louis
Philippe no more went about without his lancet, than did Henri IV.
without his poniard. The Royalists jeered at this ridiculous king, the
first who had ever shed blood with the object of healing.

For the grievances against Louis Philippe, there is one deduction to be
made; there is that which accuses royalty, that which accuses the reign,
that which accuses the King; three columns which all give different
totals. Democratic right confiscated, progress becomes a matter of
secondary interest, the protests of the street violently repressed,
military execution of insurrections, the rising passed over by arms, the
Rue Transnonain, the counsels of war, the absorption of the real
country by the legal country, on half shares with three hundred thousand
privileged persons,--these are the deeds of royalty; Belgium refused,
Algeria too harshly conquered, and, as in the case of India by the
English, with more barbarism than civilization, the breach of faith, to
Abd-el-Kader, Blaye, Deutz bought, Pritchard paid,--these are the doings
of the reign; the policy which was more domestic than national was the
doing of the King.

As will be seen, the proper deduction having been made, the King's
charge is decreased.

This is his great fault; he was modest in the name of France.

Whence arises this fault?

We will state it.

Louis Philippe was rather too much of a paternal king; that incubation
of a family with the object of founding a dynasty is afraid of
everything and does not like to be disturbed; hence excessive timidity,
which is displeasing to the people, who have the 14th of July in their
civil and Austerlitz in their military tradition.

Moreover, if we deduct the public duties which require to be fulfilled
first of all, that deep tenderness of Louis Philippe towards his
family was deserved by the family. That domestic group was worthy of
admiration. Virtues there dwelt side by side with talents. One of Louis
Philippe's daughters, Marie d'Orleans, placed the name of her race among
artists, as Charles d'Orleans had placed it among poets. She made of
her soul a marble which she named Jeanne d'Arc. Two of Louis Philippe's
daughters elicited from Metternich this eulogium: "They are young people
such as are rarely seen, and princes such as are never seen."

This, without any dissimulation, and also without any exaggeration, is
the truth about Louis Philippe.

To be Prince Equality, to bear in his own person the contradiction of
the Restoration and the Revolution, to have that disquieting side of the
revolutionary which becomes reassuring in governing power, therein lay
the fortune of Louis Philippe in 1830; never was there a more complete
adaptation of a man to an event; the one entered into the other, and the
incarnation took place. Louis Philippe is 1830 made man. Moreover, he
had in his favor that great recommendation to the throne, exile. He had
been proscribed, a wanderer, poor. He had lived by his own labor. In
Switzerland, this heir to the richest princely domains in France had
sold an old horse in order to obtain bread. At Reichenau, he gave
lessons in mathematics, while his sister Adelaide did wool work and
sewed. These souvenirs connected with a king rendered the bourgeoisie
enthusiastic. He had, with his own hands, demolished the iron cage of
Mont-Saint-Michel, built by Louis XI, and used by Louis XV. He was the
companion of Dumouriez, he was the friend of Lafayette; he had belonged
to the Jacobins' club; Mirabeau had slapped him on the shoulder; Danton
had said to him: "Young man!" At the age of four and twenty, in '93,
being then M. de Chartres, he had witnessed, from the depth of a box,
the trial of Louis XVI., so well named that poor tyrant. The blind
clairvoyance of the Revolution, breaking royalty in the King and the
King with royalty, did so almost without noticing the man in the fierce
crushing of the idea, the vast storm of the Assembly-Tribunal, the
public wrath interrogating, Capet not knowing what to reply, the
alarming, stupefied vacillation by that royal head beneath that sombre
breath, the relative innocence of all in that catastrophe, of those
who condemned as well as of the man condemned,--he had looked on those
things, he had contemplated that giddiness; he had seen the centuries
appear before the bar of the Assembly-Convention; he had beheld, behind
Louis XVI., that unfortunate passer-by who was made responsible, the
terrible culprit, the monarchy, rise through the shadows; and there had
lingered in his soul the respectful fear of these immense justices of
the populace, which are almost as impersonal as the justice of God.

The trace left in him by the Revolution was prodigious. Its memory was
like a living imprint of those great years, minute by minute. One day,
in the presence of a witness whom we are not permitted to doubt, he
rectified from memory the whole of the letter A in the alphabetical list
of the Constituent Assembly.

Louis Philippe was a king of the broad daylight. While he reigned the
press was free, the tribune was free, conscience and speech were free.
The laws of September are open to sight. Although fully aware of the
gnawing power of light on privileges, he left his throne exposed to the
light. History will do justice to him for this loyalty.

Louis Philippe, like all historical men who have passed from the scene,
is to-day put on his trial by the human conscience. His case is, as yet,
only in the lower court.

The hour when history speaks with its free and venerable accent, has
not yet sounded for him; the moment has not come to pronounce a definite
judgment on this king; the austere and illustrious historian Louis Blanc
has himself recently softened his first verdict; Louis Philippe was
elected by those two almosts which are called the 221 and 1830, that is
to say, by a half-Parliament, and a half-revolution; and in any case,
from the superior point of view where philosophy must place itself, we
cannot judge him here, as the reader has seen above, except with certain
reservations in the name of the absolute democratic principle; in the
eyes of the absolute, outside these two rights, the right of man in the
first place, the right of the people in the second, all is usurpation;
but what we can say, even at the present day, that after making these
reserves is, that to sum up the whole, and in whatever manner he is
considered, Louis Philippe, taken in himself, and from the point of view
of human goodness, will remain, to use the antique language of ancient
history, one of the best princes who ever sat on a throne.

What is there against him? That throne. Take away Louis Philippe the
king, there remains the man. And the man is good. He is good at times
even to the point of being admirable. Often, in the midst of his gravest
souvenirs, after a day of conflict with the whole diplomacy of the
continent, he returned at night to his apartments, and there, exhausted
with fatigue, overwhelmed with sleep, what did he do? He took a death
sentence and passed the night in revising a criminal suit, considering
it something to hold his own against Europe, but that it was a still
greater matter to rescue a man from the executioner. He obstinately
maintained his opinion against his keeper of the seals; he disputed the
ground with the guillotine foot by foot against the crown attorneys,
those chatterers of the law, as he called them. Sometimes the pile of
sentences covered his table; he examined them all; it was anguish to
him to abandon these miserable, condemned heads. One day, he said to
the same witness to whom we have recently referred: "I won seven last
night." During the early years of his reign, the death penalty was
as good as abolished, and the erection of a scaffold was a violence
committed against the King. The Greve having disappeared with the elder
branch, a bourgeois place of execution was instituted under the name
of the Barriere-Saint-Jacques; "practical men" felt the necessity of
a quasi-legitimate guillotine; and this was one of the victories of
Casimir Perier, who represented the narrow sides of the bourgeoisie,
over Louis Philippe, who represented its liberal sides. Louis Philippe
annotated Beccaria with his own hand. After the Fieschi machine, he
exclaimed: "What a pity that I was not wounded! Then I might have
pardoned!" On another occasion, alluding to the resistance offered by
his ministry, he wrote in connection with a political criminal, who is
one of the most generous figures of our day: "His pardon is granted; it
only remains for me to obtain it." Louis Philippe was as gentle as Louis
IX. and as kindly as Henri IV.

Now, to our mind, in history, where kindness is the rarest of pearls,
the man who is kindly almost takes precedence of the man who is great.

Louis Philippe having been severely judged by some, harshly, perhaps, by
others, it is quite natural that a man, himself a phantom at the present
day, who knew that king, should come and testify in his favor before
history; this deposition, whatever else it may be, is evidently and
above all things, entirely disinterested; an epitaph penned by a dead
man is sincere; one shade may console another shade; the sharing of the
same shadows confers the right to praise it; it is not greatly to
be feared that it will ever be said of two tombs in exile: "This one
flattered the other."


At the moment when the drama which we are narrating is on the point of
penetrating into the depths of one of the tragic clouds which envelop
the beginning of Louis Philippe's reign, it was necessary that there
should be no equivoque, and it became requisite that this book should
offer some explanation with regard to this king.

Louis Philippe had entered into possession of his royal authority
without violence, without any direct action on his part, by virtue of a
revolutionary change, evidently quite distinct from the real aim of the
Revolution, but in which he, the Duc d'Orleans, exercised no personal
initiative. He had been born a Prince, and he believed himself to have
been elected King. He had not served this mandate on himself; he had not
taken it; it had been offered to him, and he had accepted it; convinced,
wrongly, to be sure, but convinced nevertheless, that the offer was in
accordance with right and that the acceptance of it was in accordance
with duty. Hence his possession was in good faith. Now, we say it in
good conscience, Louis Philippe being in possession in perfect good
faith, and the democracy being in good faith in its attack, the amount
of terror discharged by the social conflicts weighs neither on the
King nor on the democracy. A clash of principles resembles a clash of
elements. The ocean defends the water, the hurricane defends the
air, the King defends Royalty, the democracy defends the people; the
relative, which is the monarchy, resists the absolute, which is the
republic; society bleeds in this conflict, but that which constitutes
its suffering to-day will constitute its safety later on; and, in any
case, those who combat are not to be blamed; one of the two parties is
evidently mistaken; the right is not, like the Colossus of Rhodes, on
two shores at once, with one foot on the republic, and one in Royalty;
it is indivisible, and all on one side; but those who are in error are
so sincerely; a blind man is no more a criminal than a Vendean is a
ruffian. Let us, then, impute to the fatality of things alone these
formidable collisions. Whatever the nature of these tempests may be,
human irresponsibility is mingled with them.

Let us complete this exposition.

The government of 1830 led a hard life immediately. Born yesterday, it
was obliged to fight to-day.

Hardly installed, it was already everywhere conscious of vague movements
of traction on the apparatus of July so recently laid, and so lacking in

Resistance was born on the morrow; perhaps even, it was born on the
preceding evening. From month to month the hostility increased, and from
being concealed it became patent.

The Revolution of July, which gained but little acceptance outside of
France by kings, had been diversely interpreted in France, as we have

God delivers over to men his visible will in events, an obscure text
written in a mysterious tongue. Men immediately make translations of it;
translations hasty, incorrect, full of errors, of gaps, and of nonsense.
Very few minds comprehend the divine language. The most sagacious, the
calmest, the most profound, decipher slowly, and when they arrive with
their text, the task has long been completed; there are already twenty
translations on the public place. From each remaining springs a party,
and from each misinterpretation a faction; and each party thinks that it
alone has the true text, and each faction thinks that it possesses the

Power itself is often a faction.

There are, in revolutions, swimmers who go against the current; they are
the old parties.

For the old parties who clung to heredity by the grace of God, think
that revolutions, having sprung from the right to revolt, one has the
right to revolt against them. Error. For in these revolutions, the one
who revolts is not the people; it is the king. Revolution is precisely
the contrary of revolt. Every revolution, being a normal outcome,
contains within itself its legitimacy, which false revolutionists
sometimes dishonor, but which remains even when soiled, which survives
even when stained with blood.

Revolutions spring not from an accident, but from necessity. A
revolution is a return from the fictitious to the real. It is because it
must be that it is.

None the less did the old legitimist parties assail the Revolution of
1830 with all the vehemence which arises from false reasoning. Errors
make excellent projectiles. They strike it cleverly in its vulnerable
spot, in default of a cuirass, in its lack of logic; they attacked this
revolution in its royalty. They shouted to it: "Revolution, why this
king?" Factions are blind men who aim correctly.

This cry was uttered equally by the republicans. But coming from
them, this cry was logical. What was blindness in the legitimists was
clearness of vision in the democrats. 1830 had bankrupted the people.
The enraged democracy reproached it with this.

Between the attack of the past and the attack of the future, the
establishment of July struggled. It represented the minute at
loggerheads on the one hand with the monarchical centuries, on the other
hand with eternal right.

In addition, and beside all this, as it was no longer revolution and had
become a monarchy, 1830 was obliged to take precedence of all Europe. To
keep the peace, was an increase of complication. A harmony established
contrary to sense is often more onerous than a war. From this secret
conflict, always muzzled, but always growling, was born armed peace,
that ruinous expedient of civilization which in the harness of the
European cabinets is suspicious in itself. The Royalty of July reared
up, in spite of the fact that it caught it in the harness of European
cabinets. Metternich would gladly have put it in kicking-straps. Pushed
on in France by progress, it pushed on the monarchies, those loiterers
in Europe. After having been towed, it undertook to tow.

Meanwhile, within her, pauperism, the proletariat, salary, education,
penal servitude, prostitution, the fate of the woman, wealth, misery,
production, consumption, division, exchange, coin, credit, the rights of
capital, the rights of labor,--all these questions were multiplied above
society, a terrible slope.

Outside of political parties properly so called, another movement became
manifest. Philosophical fermentation replied to democratic fermentation.
The elect felt troubled as well as the masses; in another manner, but
quite as much.

Thinkers meditated, while the soil, that is to say, the people,
traversed by revolutionary currents, trembled under them with
indescribably vague epileptic shocks. These dreamers, some isolated,
others united in families and almost in communion, turned over social
questions in a pacific but profound manner; impassive miners, who
tranquilly pushed their galleries into the depths of a volcano, hardly
disturbed by the dull commotion and the furnaces of which they caught

This tranquillity was not the least beautiful spectacle of this agitated

These men left to political parties the question of rights, they
occupied themselves with the question of happiness.

The well-being of man, that was what they wanted to extract from

They raised material questions, questions of agriculture, of industry,
of commerce, almost to the dignity of a religion. In civilization, such
as it has formed itself, a little by the command of God, a great deal by
the agency of man, interests combine, unite, and amalgamate in a
manner to form a veritable hard rock, in accordance with a dynamic law,
patiently studied by economists, those geologists of politics. These men
who grouped themselves under different appellations, but who may all be
designated by the generic title of socialists, endeavored to pierce that
rock and to cause it to spout forth the living waters of human felicity.

From the question of the scaffold to the question of war, their works
embraced everything. To the rights of man, as proclaimed by the French
Revolution, they added the rights of woman and the rights of the child.

The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not
here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the
questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic
visions, revery and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two
principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must
be understood.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual
happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the man happy, the citizen free, the nation

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth
admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on
one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence,
monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the
rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly,
feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which
sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State
in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in
which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral
element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem.
They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition
abolishes emulation; and consequently labor. It is a partition made
by the butcher, which kills that which it divides. It is therefore
impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is
not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The
two problems must be combined and made but one.

Solve only the first of the two problems; you will be Venice, you will
be England. You will have, like Venice, an artificial power, or, like
England, a material power; you will be the wicked rich man. You will die
by an act of violence, as Venice died, or by bankruptcy, as England
will fall. And the world will allow to die and fall all that is merely
selfishness, all that does not represent for the human race either a
virtue or an idea.

It is well understood here, that by the words Venice, England, we
designate not the peoples, but social structures; the oligarchies
superposed on nations, and not the nations themselves. The nations
always have our respect and our sympathy. Venice, as a people, will live
again; England, the aristocracy, will fall, but England, the nation, is
immortal. That said, we continue.

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor,
suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by
the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who
is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust,
mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and
compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science
the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one
and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render
property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal,
so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier
matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce
wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and
material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.

This is what socialism said outside and above a few sects which have
gone astray; that is what it sought in facts, that is what it sketched
out in minds.

Efforts worthy of admiration! Sacred attempts!

These doctrines, these theories, these resistances, the unforeseen
necessity for the statesman to take philosophers into account, confused
evidences of which we catch a glimpse, a new system of politics to be
created, which shall be in accord with the old world without too much
disaccord with the new revolutionary ideal, a situation in which it
became necessary to use Lafayette to defend Polignac, the intuition of
progress transparent beneath the revolt, the chambers and streets, the
competitions to be brought into equilibrium around him, his faith in
the Revolution, perhaps an eventual indefinable resignation born of the
vague acceptance of a superior definitive right, his desire to remain of
his race, his domestic spirit, his sincere respect for the people, his
own honesty, preoccupied Louis Philippe almost painfully, and there were
moments when strong and courageous as he was, he was overwhelmed by the
difficulties of being a king.

He felt under his feet a formidable disaggregation, which was not,
nevertheless, a reduction to dust, France being more France than ever.

Piles of shadows covered the horizon. A strange shade, gradually drawing
nearer, extended little by little over men, over things, over ideas;
a shade which came from wraths and systems. Everything which had been
hastily stifled was moving and fermenting. At times the conscience of
the honest man resumed its breathing, so great was the discomfort
of that air in which sophisms were intermingled with truths. Spirits
trembled in the social anxiety like leaves at the approach of a storm.
The electric tension was such that at certain instants, the first comer,
a stranger, brought light. Then the twilight obscurity closed in again.
At intervals, deep and dull mutterings allowed a judgment to be formed
as to the quantity of thunder contained by the cloud.

Twenty months had barely elapsed since the Revolution of July, the year
1832 had opened with an aspect of something impending and threatening.

The distress of the people, the laborers without bread, the last Prince
de Conde engulfed in the shadows, Brussels expelling the Nassaus as
Paris did the Bourbons, Belgium offering herself to a French Prince
and giving herself to an English Prince, the Russian hatred of Nicolas,
behind us the demons of the South, Ferdinand in Spain, Miguel in
Portugal, the earth quaking in Italy, Metternich extending his hand over
Bologna, France treating Austria sharply at Ancona, at the North no one
knew what sinister sound of the hammer nailing up Poland in her coffin,
irritated glances watching France narrowly all over Europe, England, a
suspected ally, ready to give a push to that which was tottering and to
hurl herself on that which should fall, the peerage sheltering itself
behind Beccaria to refuse four heads to the law, the fleurs-de-lys
erased from the King's carriage, the cross torn from Notre Dame,
Lafayette lessened, Laffitte ruined, Benjamin Constant dead in
indigence, Casimir Perier dead in the exhaustion of his power; political
and social malady breaking out simultaneously in the two capitals of the
kingdom, the one in the city of thought, the other in the city of toil;
at Paris civil war, at Lyons servile war; in the two cities, the same
glare of the furnace; a crater-like crimson on the brow of the people;
the South rendered fanatic, the West troubled, the Duchesse de Berry in
la Vendee, plots, conspiracies, risings, cholera, added the sombre roar
of tumult of events to the sombre roar of ideas.


Towards the end of April, everything had become aggravated. The
fermentation entered the boiling state. Ever since 1830, petty partial
revolts had been going on here and there, which were quickly suppressed,
but ever bursting forth afresh, the sign of a vast underlying
conflagration. Something terrible was in preparation. Glimpses could be
caught of the features still indistinct and imperfectly lighted, of a
possible revolution. France kept an eye on Paris; Paris kept an eye on
the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

The Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which was in a dull glow, was beginning its

[Illustration: A Street Orator  4b1-5-street-orator]

The wine-shops of the Rue de Charonne were, although the union of
the two epithets seems singular when applied to wine-shops, grave and

The government was there purely and simply called in question. There
people publicly discussed the question of fighting or of keeping quiet.
There were back shops where workingmen were made to swear that they
would hasten into the street at the first cry of alarm, and "that they
would fight without counting the number of the enemy." This engagement
once entered into, a man seated in the corner of the wine-shop "assumed
a sonorous tone," and said, "You understand! You have sworn!"

Sometimes they went up stairs, to a private room on the first floor,
and there scenes that were almost masonic were enacted. They made the
initiated take oaths to render service to himself as well as to the
fathers of families. That was the formula.

In the tap-rooms, "subversive" pamphlets were read. They treated the
government with contempt, says a secret report of that time.

Words like the following could be heard there:--

"I don't know the names of the leaders. We folks shall not know the day
until two hours beforehand." One workman said: "There are three hundred
of us, let each contribute ten sous, that will make one hundred and
fifty francs with which to procure powder and shot."

Another said: "I don't ask for six months, I don't ask for even two.
In less than a fortnight we shall be parallel with the government. With
twenty-five thousand men we can face them." Another said: "I don't sleep
at night, because I make cartridges all night." From time to time,
men "of bourgeois appearance, and in good coats" came and "caused
embarrassment," and with the air of "command," shook hands with the most
important, and then went away. They never stayed more than ten minutes.
Significant remarks were exchanged in a low tone: "The plot is ripe, the
matter is arranged." "It was murmured by all who were there," to borrow
the very expression of one of those who were present. The exaltation was
such that one day, a workingman exclaimed, before the whole wine-shop:
"We have no arms!" One of his comrades replied: "The soldiers have!"
thus parodying without being aware of the fact, Bonaparte's proclamation
to the army in Italy: "When they had anything of a more secret nature on
hand," adds one report, "they did not communicate it to each other." It
is not easy to understand what they could conceal after what they said.

These reunions were sometimes periodical. At certain ones of them, there
were never more than eight or ten persons present, and they were always
the same. In others, any one entered who wished, and the room was
so full that they were forced to stand. Some went thither through
enthusiasm and passion; others because it was on their way to their
work. As during the Revolution, there were patriotic women in some of
these wine-shops who embraced new-comers.

Other expressive facts came to light.

A man would enter a shop, drink, and go his way with the remark:
"Wine-merchant, the revolution will pay what is due to you."

Revolutionary agents were appointed in a wine-shop facing the Rue de
Charonne. The balloting was carried on in their caps.

Workingmen met at the house of a fencing-master who gave lessons in
the Rue de Cotte. There there was a trophy of arms formed of wooden
broadswords, canes, clubs, and foils. One day, the buttons were removed
from the foils.

A workman said: "There are twenty-five of us, but they don't count
on me, because I am looked upon as a machine." Later on, that machine
became Quenisset.

The indefinite things which were brewing gradually acquired a strange
and indescribable notoriety. A woman sweeping off her doorsteps said
to another woman: "For a long time, there has been a strong force busy
making cartridges." In the open street, proclamation could be seen
addressed to the National Guard in the departments. One of these
proclamations was signed: Burtot, wine-merchant.

One day a man with his beard worn like a collar and with an Italian
accent mounted a stone post at the door of a liquor-seller in the Marche
Lenoir, and read aloud a singular document, which seemed to emanate from
an occult power. Groups formed around him, and applauded.

The passages which touched the crowd most deeply were collected and
noted down. "--Our doctrines are trammelled, our proclamations torn, our
bill-stickers are spied upon and thrown into prison."--"The breakdown
which has recently taken place in cottons has converted to us many
mediums."--"The future of nations is being worked out in our obscure
ranks."--"Here are the fixed terms: action or reaction, revolution or
counter-revolution. For, at our epoch, we no longer believe either in
inertia or in immobility. For the people against the people, that is the
question. There is no other."--"On the day when we cease to suit you,
break us, but up to that day, help us to march on." All this in broad

Other deeds, more audacious still, were suspicious in the eyes of the
people by reason of their very audacity. On the 4th of April, 1832, a
passer-by mounted the post on the corner which forms the angle of the
Rue Sainte-Marguerite and shouted: "I am a Babouvist!" But beneath
Babeuf, the people scented Gisquet.

Among other things, this man said:--

"Down with property! The opposition of the left is cowardly and
treacherous. When it wants to be on the right side, it preaches
revolution, it is democratic in order to escape being beaten, and
royalist so that it may not have to fight. The republicans are beasts
with feathers. Distrust the republicans, citizens of the laboring

"Silence, citizen spy!" cried an artisan.

This shout put an end to the discourse.

Mysterious incidents occurred.

At nightfall, a workingman encountered near the canal a "very well
dressed man," who said to him: "Whither are you bound, citizen?" "Sir,"
replied the workingman, "I have not the honor of your acquaintance." "I
know you very well, however." And the man added: "Don't be alarmed, I
am an agent of the committee. You are suspected of not being quite
faithful. You know that if you reveal anything, there is an eye fixed on
you." Then he shook hands with the workingman and went away, saying: "We
shall meet again soon."

The police, who were on the alert, collected singular dialogues, not
only in the wine-shops, but in the street.

"Get yourself received very soon," said a weaver to a cabinet-maker.


"There is going to be a shot to fire."

Two ragged pedestrians exchanged these remarkable replies, fraught with
evident Jacquerie:--

"Who governs us?"

"M. Philippe."

"No, it is the bourgeoisie."

The reader is mistaken if he thinks that we take the word Jacquerie in a
bad sense. The Jacques were the poor.

On another occasion two men were heard to say to each other as they
passed by: "We have a good plan of attack."

Only the following was caught of a private conversation between four men
who were crouching in a ditch of the circle of the Barriere du Trone:--

"Everything possible will be done to prevent his walking about Paris any

Who was the he? Menacing obscurity.

"The principal leaders," as they said in the faubourg, held themselves
apart. It was supposed that they met for consultation in a wine-shop
near the point Saint-Eustache. A certain Aug--, chief of the Society
aid for tailors, Rue Mondetour, had the reputation of serving as
intermediary central between the leaders and the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

Nevertheless, there was always a great deal of mystery about these
leaders, and no certain fact can invalidate the singular arrogance of
this reply made later on by a man accused before the Court of Peers:--

"Who was your leader?"

"I knew of none and I recognized none."

There was nothing but words, transparent but vague; sometimes idle
reports, rumors, hearsay. Other indications cropped up.

A carpenter, occupied in nailing boards to a fence around the ground
on which a house was in process of construction, in the Rue de Reuilly
found on that plot the torn fragment of a letter on which were still
legible the following lines:--

The committee must take measures to prevent recruiting in the sections
for the different societies.

And, as a postscript:--

We have learned that there are guns in the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere,
No. 5 [bis], to the number of five or six thousand, in the house of a
gunsmith in that court. The section owns no arms.

What excited the carpenter and caused him to show this thing to his
neighbors was the fact, that a few paces further on he picked up another
paper, torn like the first, and still more significant, of which we
reproduce a facsimile, because of the historical interest attaching to
these strange documents:--

[Illustration: Code Table 4b1-5 page 26]

 | Q | C | D | E | Learn this list by heart.  After so doing
 | | | | | | you will tear it up.  The men admitted
 | | | | | | will do the same when you have transmitted
 | | | | | | their orders to them.
 | | | | | | Health and Fraternity,
 | | | | | | u og a fe L. |

It was only later on that the persons who were in the secret of this
find at the time, learned the significance of those four capital
letters: quinturions, centurions, decurions, eclaireurs [scouts], and
the sense of the letters: u og a fe, which was a date, and meant April
15th, 1832. Under each capital letter were inscribed names followed by
very characteristic notes. Thus: Q. Bannerel. 8 guns, 83 cartridges. A
safe man.--C. Boubiere. 1 pistol, 40 cartridges.--D. Rollet. 1 foil,
1 pistol, 1 pound of powder.--E. Tessier. 1 sword, 1 cartridge-box.
Exact.--Terreur. 8 guns. Brave, etc.

Finally, this carpenter found, still in the same enclosure, a third
paper on which was written in pencil, but very legibly, this sort of
enigmatical list:--

          Unite:  Blanchard: Arbre-Sec. 6.
          Barra.  Soize.  Salle-au-Comte.
          Kosciusko. Aubry the Butcher?
          J. J. R.
          Caius Gracchus.
          Right of revision.  Dufond.  Four.
          Fall of the Girondists.  Derbac.  Maubuee.
          Washington.  Pinson.  1 pistol, 86 cartridges.
          Sovereignty of the people. Michel. Quincampoix. Sword.
          Marceau.  Plato.  Arbre-Sec.
          Warsaw.  Tilly, crier of the Populaire.

The honest bourgeois into whose hands this list fell knew its
significance. It appears that this list was the complete nomenclature of
the sections of the fourth arondissement of the Society of the Rights
of Man, with the names and dwellings of the chiefs of sections. To-day,
when all these facts which were obscure are nothing more than history,
we may publish them. It should be added, that the foundation of the
Society of the Rights of Man seems to have been posterior to the date
when this paper was found. Perhaps this was only a rough draft.

Still, according to all the remarks and the words, according to written
notes, material facts begin to make their appearance.

In the Rue Popincourt, in the house of a dealer in bric-abrac, there
were seized seven sheets of gray paper, all folded alike lengthwise
and in four; these sheets enclosed twenty-six squares of this same
gray paper folded in the form of a cartridge, and a card, on which was
written the following:--

           Saltpetre . . . . . . . . . . .  12 ounces.
           Sulphur   . . . . . . . . . . .   2 ounces.
           Charcoal  . . . . . . . . . . .   2 ounces and a half.
           Water     . . . . . . . . . . .   2 ounces.

The report of the seizure stated that the drawer exhaled a strong smell
of powder.

A mason returning from his day's work, left behind him a little package
on a bench near the bridge of Austerlitz. This package was taken to
the police station. It was opened, and in it were found two printed
dialogues, signed Lahautiere, a song entitled: "Workmen, band together,"
and a tin box full of cartridges.

One artisan drinking with a comrade made the latter feel him to see how
warm he was; the other man felt a pistol under his waistcoat.

In a ditch on the boulevard, between Pere-Lachaise and the Barriere
du Trone, at the most deserted spot, some children, while playing,
discovered beneath a mass of shavings and refuse bits of wood, a
bag containing a bullet-mould, a wooden punch for the preparation of
cartridges, a wooden bowl, in which there were grains of hunting-powder,
and a little cast-iron pot whose interior presented evident traces of
melted lead.

Police agents, making their way suddenly and unexpectedly at five
o'clock in the morning, into the dwelling of a certain Pardon, who
was afterwards a member of the Barricade-Merry section and got himself
killed in the insurrection of April, 1834, found him standing near his
bed, and holding in his hand some cartridges which he was in the act of

Towards the hour when workingmen repose, two men were seen to meet
between the Barriere Picpus and the Barriere Charenton in a little lane
between two walls, near a wine-shop, in front of which there was a "Jeu
de Siam."[33] One drew a pistol from beneath his blouse and handed it to
the other. As he was handing it to him, he noticed that the perspiration
of his chest had made the powder damp. He primed the pistol and added
more powder to what was already in the pan. Then the two men parted.

A certain Gallais, afterwards killed in the Rue Beaubourg in the affair
of April, boasted of having in his house seven hundred cartridges and
twenty-four flints.

The government one day received a warning that arms and two hundred
thousand cartridges had just been distributed in the faubourg. On
the following week thirty thousand cartridges were distributed. The
remarkable point about it was, that the police were not able to seize a
single one.

An intercepted letter read: "The day is not far distant when, within
four hours by the clock, eighty thousand patriots will be under arms."

All this fermentation was public, one might almost say tranquil. The
approaching insurrection was preparing its storm calmly in the face of
the government. No singularity was lacking to this still subterranean
crisis, which was already perceptible. The bourgeois talked peaceably to
the working-classes of what was in preparation. They said: "How is the
rising coming along?" in the same tone in which they would have said:
"How is your wife?"

A furniture-dealer, of the Rue Moreau, inquired: "Well, when are you
going to make the attack?"

Another shop-keeper said:--

"The attack will be made soon."

"I know it. A month ago, there were fifteen thousand of you, now there
are twenty-five thousand." He offered his gun, and a neighbor offered a
small pistol which he was willing to sell for seven francs.

Moreover, the revolutionary fever was growing. Not a point in Paris nor
in France was exempt from it. The artery was beating everywhere. Like
those membranes which arise from certain inflammations and form in the
human body, the network of secret societies began to spread all over the
country. From the associations of the Friends of the People, which was
at the same time public and secret, sprang the Society of the Rights of
Man, which also dated from one of the orders of the day: Pluviose, Year
40 of the republican era, which was destined to survive even the mandate
of the Court of Assizes which pronounced its dissolution, and which
did not hesitate to bestow on its sections significant names like the

     Signal cannon.
     Phrygian cap.
     January 21.
     The beggars.
     The vagabonds.
     Forward march.
     Ca Ira.

The Society of the Rights of Man engendered the Society of Action. These
were impatient individuals who broke away and hastened ahead. Other
associations sought to recruit themselves from the great mother
societies. The members of sections complained that they were torn
asunder. Thus, the Gallic Society, and the committee of organization of
the Municipalities. Thus the associations for the liberty of the press,
for individual liberty, for the instruction of the people against
indirect taxes. Then the Society of Equal Workingmen which was divided
into three fractions, the levellers, the communists, the reformers.
Then the Army of the Bastilles, a sort of cohort organized on a military
footing, four men commanded by a corporal, ten by a sergeant, twenty by
a sub-lieutenant, forty by a lieutenant; there were never more than
five men who knew each other. Creation where precaution is combined with
audacity and which seemed stamped with the genius of Venice.

The central committee, which was at the head, had two arms, the Society
of Action, and the Army of the Bastilles.

A legitimist association, the Chevaliers of Fidelity, stirred about
among these the republican affiliations. It was denounced and repudiated

The Parisian societies had ramifications in the principal cities, Lyons,
Nantes, Lille, Marseilles, and each had its Society of the Rights of
Man, the Charbonniere, and The Free Men. All had a revolutionary society
which was called the Cougourde. We have already mentioned this word.

In Paris, the Faubourg Saint-Marceau kept up an equal buzzing with the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, and the schools were no less moved than the
faubourgs. A cafe in the Rue Saint-Hyacinthe and the wine-shop of the
Seven Billiards, Rue des Mathurins-Saint-Jacques, served as rallying
points for the students. The Society of the Friends of the A B C
affiliated to the Mutualists of Angers, and to the Cougourde of Aix,
met, as we have seen, in the Cafe Musain. These same young men assembled
also, as we have stated already, in a restaurant wine-shop of the Rue
Mondetour which was called Corinthe. These meetings were secret. Others
were as public as possible, and the reader can judge of their boldness
from these fragments of an interrogatory undergone in one of the
ulterior prosecutions: "Where was this meeting held?" "In the Rue de la
Paix." "At whose house?" "In the street." "What sections were there?"
"Only one." "Which?" "The Manuel section." "Who was its leader?"
"I." "You are too young to have decided alone upon the bold course of
attacking the government. Where did your instructions come from?" "From
the central committee."

The army was mined at the same time as the population, as was proved
subsequently by the operations of Beford, Luneville, and Epinard. They
counted on the fifty-second regiment, on the fifth, on the eighth, on
the thirty-seventh, and on the twentieth light cavalry. In Burgundy and
in the southern towns they planted the liberty tree; that is to say, a
pole surmounted by a red cap.

Such was the situation.

The Faubourg Saint-Antoine, more than any other group of the population,
as we stated in the beginning, accentuated this situation and made
it felt. That was the sore point. This old faubourg, peopled like
an ant-hill, laborious, courageous, and angry as a hive of bees, was
quivering with expectation and with the desire for a tumult. Everything
was in a state of agitation there, without any interruption, however, of
the regular work. It is impossible to convey an idea of this lively yet
sombre physiognomy. In this faubourg exists poignant distress hidden
under attic roofs; there also exist rare and ardent minds. It is
particularly in the matter of distress and intelligence that it is
dangerous to have extremes meet.

The Faubourg Saint-Antoine had also other causes to tremble; for it
received the counter-shock of commercial crises, of failures, strikes,
slack seasons, all inherent to great political disturbances. In times
of revolution misery is both cause and effect. The blow which it deals
rebounds upon it. This population full of proud virtue, capable to the
highest degree of latent heat, always ready to fly to arms, prompt to
explode, irritated, deep, undermined, seemed to be only awaiting the
fall of a spark. Whenever certain sparks float on the horizon chased
by the wind of events, it is impossible not to think of the Faubourg
Saint-Antoine and of the formidable chance which has placed at the very
gates of Paris that powder-house of suffering and ideas.

The wine-shops of the Faubourg Antoine, which have been more than
once drawn in the sketches which the reader has just perused, possess
historical notoriety. In troublous times people grow intoxicated there
more on words than on wine. A sort of prophetic spirit and an afflatus
of the future circulates there, swelling hearts and enlarging souls. The
cabarets of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine resemble those taverns of Mont
Aventine erected on the cave of the Sibyl and communicating with
the profound and sacred breath; taverns where the tables were almost
tripods, and where was drunk what Ennius calls the sibylline wine.

The Faubourg Saint-Antoine is a reservoir of people. Revolutionary
agitations create fissures there, through which trickles the popular
sovereignty. This sovereignty may do evil; it can be mistaken like any
other; but, even when led astray, it remains great. We may say of it as
of the blind cyclops, Ingens.

In '93, according as the idea which was floating about was good or evil,
according as it was the day of fanaticism or of enthusiasm, there leaped
forth from the Faubourg Saint-Antoine now savage legions, now heroic

Savage. Let us explain this word. When these bristling men, who in the
early days of the revolutionary chaos, tattered, howling, wild, with
uplifted bludgeon, pike on high, hurled themselves upon ancient Paris in
an uproar, what did they want? They wanted an end to oppression, an
end to tyranny, an end to the sword, work for men, instruction for the
child, social sweetness for the woman, liberty, equality, fraternity,
bread for all, the idea for all, the Edenizing of the world. Progress;
and that holy, sweet, and good thing, progress, they claimed in terrible
wise, driven to extremities as they were, half naked, club in fist,
a roar in their mouths. They were savages, yes; but the savages of

They proclaimed right furiously; they were desirous, if only with
fear and trembling, to force the human race to paradise. They seemed
barbarians, and they were saviours. They demanded light with the mask of

Facing these men, who were ferocious, we admit, and terrifying, but
ferocious and terrifying for good ends, there are other men, smiling,
embroidered, gilded, beribboned, starred, in silk stockings, in white
plumes, in yellow gloves, in varnished shoes, who, with their elbows on
a velvet table, beside a marble chimney-piece, insist gently on demeanor
and the preservation of the past, of the Middle Ages, of divine right,
of fanaticism, of innocence, of slavery, of the death penalty, of war,
glorifying in low tones and with politeness, the sword, the stake, and
the scaffold. For our part, if we were forced to make a choice between
the barbarians of civilization and the civilized men of barbarism, we
should choose the barbarians.

But, thank Heaven, still another choice is possible. No perpendicular
fall is necessary, in front any more than in the rear.

Neither despotism nor terrorism. We desire progress with a gentle slope.

God takes care of that. God's whole policy consists in rendering slopes
less steep.


It was about this epoch that Enjolras, in view of a possible
catastrophe, instituted a kind of mysterious census.

All were present at a secret meeting at the Cafe Musain.

Enjolras said, mixing his words with a few half-enigmatical but
significant metaphors:--

"It is proper that we should know where we stand and on whom we may
count. If combatants are required, they must be provided. It can do no
harm to have something with which to strike. Passers-by always have more
chance of being gored when there are bulls on the road than when there
are none. Let us, therefore, reckon a little on the herd. How many of us
are there? There is no question of postponing this task until to-morrow.
Revolutionists should always be hurried; progress has no time to lose.
Let us mistrust the unexpected. Let us not be caught unprepared. We must
go over all the seams that we have made and see whether they hold fast.
This business ought to be concluded to-day. Courfeyrac, you will see the
polytechnic students. It is their day to go out. To-day is Wednesday.
Feuilly, you will see those of the Glaciere, will you not? Combeferre
has promised me to go to Picpus. There is a perfect swarm and an
excellent one there. Bahorel will visit the Estrapade. Prouvaire, the
masons are growing lukewarm; you will bring us news from the lodge of
the Rue de Grenelle-Saint-Honore. Joly will go to Dupuytren's clinical
lecture, and feel the pulse of the medical school. Bossuet will take a
little turn in the court and talk with the young law licentiates. I will
take charge of the Cougourde myself."

"That arranges everything," said Courfeyrac.


"What else is there?"

"A very important thing."

"What is that?" asked Courfeyrac.

"The Barriere du Maine," replied Enjolras.

Enjolras remained for a moment as though absorbed in reflection, then he

"At the Barriere du Maine there are marble-workers, painters, and
journeymen in the studios of sculptors. They are an enthusiastic family,
but liable to cool off. I don't know what has been the matter with
them for some time past. They are thinking of something else. They are
becoming extinguished. They pass their time playing dominoes. There is
urgent need that some one should go and talk with them a little, but
with firmness. They meet at Richefeu's. They are to be found there
between twelve and one o'clock. Those ashes must be fanned into a glow.
For that errand I had counted on that abstracted Marius, who is a good
fellow on the whole, but he no longer comes to us. I need some one for
the Barriere du Maine. I have no one."

"What about me?" said Grantaire. "Here am I."



"You indoctrinate republicans! you warm up hearts that have grown cold
in the name of principle!"

"Why not?"

"Are you good for anything?"

"I have a vague ambition in that direction," said Grantaire.

"You do not believe in everything."

"I believe in you."

"Grantaire will you do me a service?"

"Anything. I'll black your boots."

"Well, don't meddle with our affairs. Sleep yourself sober from your

"You are an ingrate, Enjolras."

"You the man to go to the Barriere du Maine! You capable of it!"

"I am capable of descending the Rue de Gres, of crossing the Place
Saint-Michel, of sloping through the Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, of taking
the Rue de Vaugirard, of passing the Carmelites, of turning into the Rue
d'Assas, of reaching the Rue du Cherche-Midi, of leaving behind me the
Conseil de Guerre, of pacing the Rue des Vielles Tuileries, of striding
across the boulevard, of following the Chaussee du Maine, of passing
the barrier, and entering Richefeu's. I am capable of that. My shoes are
capable of that."

"Do you know anything of those comrades who meet at Richefeu's?"

"Not much. We only address each other as thou."

"What will you say to them?"

"I will speak to them of Robespierre, pardi! Of Danton. Of principles."


"I. But I don't receive justice. When I set about it, I am terrible. I
have read Prudhomme, I know the Social Contract, I know my constitution
of the year Two by heart. 'The liberty of one citizen ends where the
liberty of another citizen begins.' Do you take me for a brute? I have
an old bank-bill of the Republic in my drawer. The Rights of Man, the
sovereignty of the people, sapristi! I am even a bit of a Hebertist. I
can talk the most superb twaddle for six hours by the clock, watch in

"Be serious," said Enjolras.

"I am wild," replied Grantaire.

Enjolras meditated for a few moments, and made the gesture of a man who
has taken a resolution.

"Grantaire," he said gravely, "I consent to try you. You shall go to the
Barriere du Maine."

Grantaire lived in furnished lodgings very near the Cafe Musain. He went
out, and five minutes later he returned. He had gone home to put on a
Robespierre waistcoat.

"Red," said he as he entered, and he looked intently at Enjolras. Then,
with the palm of his energetic hand, he laid the two scarlet points of
the waistcoat across his breast.

And stepping up to Enjolras, he whispered in his ear:--

"Be easy."

He jammed his hat on resolutely and departed.

A quarter of an hour later, the back room of the Cafe Musain was
deserted. All the friends of the A B C were gone, each in his own
direction, each to his own task. Enjolras, who had reserved the
Cougourde of Aix for himself, was the last to leave.

Those members of the Cougourde of Aix who were in Paris then met on the
plain of Issy, in one of the abandoned quarries which are so numerous in
that side of Paris.

As Enjolras walked towards this place, he passed the whole situation
in review in his own mind. The gravity of events was self-evident. When
facts, the premonitory symptoms of latent social malady, move heavily,
the slightest complication stops and entangles them. A phenomenon whence
arises ruin and new births. Enjolras descried a luminous uplifting
beneath the gloomy skirts of the future. Who knows? Perhaps the moment
was at hand. The people were again taking possession of right, and
what a fine spectacle! The revolution was again majestically taking
possession of France and saying to the world: "The sequel to-morrow!"
Enjolras was content. The furnace was being heated. He had at that
moment a powder train of friends scattered all over Paris. He composed,
in his own mind, with Combeferre's philosophical and penetrating
eloquence, Feuilly's cosmopolitan enthusiasm, Courfeyrac's dash,
Bahorel's smile, Jean Prouvaire's melancholy, Joly's science, Bossuet's
sarcasms, a sort of electric spark which took fire nearly everywhere at
once. All hands to work. Surely, the result would answer to the effort.
This was well. This made him think of Grantaire.

"Hold," said he to himself, "the Barriere du Maine will not take me far
out of my way. What if I were to go on as far as Richefeu's? Let us have
a look at what Grantaire is about, and see how he is getting on."

One o'clock was striking from the Vaugirard steeple when Enjolras
reached the Richefeu smoking-room.

He pushed open the door, entered, folded his arms, letting the door fall
to and strike his shoulders, and gazed at that room filled with tables,
men, and smoke.

A voice broke forth from the mist of smoke, interrupted by another
voice. It was Grantaire holding a dialogue with an adversary.

Grantaire was sitting opposite another figure, at a marble Saint-Anne
table, strewn with grains of bran and dotted with dominos. He was
hammering the table with his fist, and this is what Enjolras heard:--



"The pig! I have no more."

"You are dead. A two."




"It's my move."

"Four points."

"Not much."

"It's your turn."

"I have made an enormous mistake."

"You are doing well."


"Seven more."

"That makes me twenty-two." [Thoughtfully, "Twenty-two!"]

"You weren't expecting that double-six. If I had placed it at the
beginning, the whole play would have been changed."

"A two again."


"One! Well, five."

"I haven't any."

"It was your play, I believe?"



"What luck he has! Ah! You are lucky! [Long revery.] Two."


"Neither five nor one. That's bad for you."


"Plague take it!"



Marius had witnessed the unexpected termination of the ambush upon whose
track he had set Javert; but Javert had no sooner quitted the building,
bearing off his prisoners in three hackney-coaches, than Marius also
glided out of the house. It was only nine o'clock in the evening. Marius
betook himself to Courfeyrac. Courfeyrac was no longer the imperturbable
inhabitant of the Latin Quarter, he had gone to live in the Rue de la
Verrerie "for political reasons"; this quarter was one where, at that
epoch, insurrection liked to install itself. Marius said to Courfeyrac:
"I have come to sleep with you." Courfeyrac dragged a mattress off his
bed, which was furnished with two, spread it out on the floor, and said:

At seven o'clock on the following morning, Marius returned to the hovel,
paid the quarter's rent which he owed to Ma'am Bougon, had his books,
his bed, his table, his commode, and his two chairs loaded on a
hand-cart and went off without leaving his address, so that when Javert
returned in the course of the morning, for the purpose of questioning
Marius as to the events of the preceding evening, he found only Ma'am
Bougon, who answered: "Moved away!"

Ma'am Bougon was convinced that Marius was to some extent an accomplice
of the robbers who had been seized the night before. "Who would ever
have said it?" she exclaimed to the portresses of the quarter, "a young
man like that, who had the air of a girl!"

Marius had two reasons for this prompt change of residence. The first
was, that he now had a horror of that house, where he had beheld, so
close at hand, and in its most repulsive and most ferocious development,
a social deformity which is, perhaps, even more terrible than the wicked
rich man, the wicked poor man. The second was, that he did not wish
to figure in the lawsuit which would insue in all probability, and be
brought in to testify against Thenardier.

Javert thought that the young man, whose name he had forgotten, was
afraid, and had fled, or perhaps, had not even returned home at the time
of the ambush; he made some efforts to find him, however, but without

A month passed, then another. Marius was still with Courfeyrac. He had
learned from a young licentiate in law, an habitual frequenter of the
courts, that Thenardier was in close confinement. Every Monday,
Marius had five francs handed in to the clerk's office of La Force for

As Marius had no longer any money, he borrowed the five francs from
Courfeyrac. It was the first time in his life that he had ever borrowed
money. These periodical five francs were a double riddle to Courfeyrac
who lent and to Thenardier who received them. "To whom can they go?"
thought Courfeyrac. "Whence can this come to me?" Thenardier asked

Moreover, Marius was heart-broken. Everything had plunged through a
trap-door once more. He no longer saw anything before him; his life
was again buried in mystery where he wandered fumblingly. He had for a
moment beheld very close at hand, in that obscurity, the young girl whom
he loved, the old man who seemed to be her father, those unknown beings,
who were his only interest and his only hope in this world; and, at the
very moment when he thought himself on the point of grasping them, a
gust had swept all these shadows away. Not a spark of certainty and
truth had been emitted even in the most terrible of collisions. No
conjecture was possible. He no longer knew even the name that he thought
he knew. It certainly was not Ursule. And the Lark was a nickname. And
what was he to think of the old man? Was he actually in hiding from
the police? The white-haired workman whom Marius had encountered in the
vicinity of the Invalides recurred to his mind. It now seemed probable
that that workingman and M. Leblanc were one and the same person. So he
disguised himself? That man had his heroic and his equivocal sides. Why
had he not called for help? Why had he fled? Was he, or was he not,
the father of the young girl? Was he, in short, the man whom Thenardier
thought that he recognized? Thenardier might have been mistaken. These
formed so many insoluble problems. All this, it is true, detracted
nothing from the angelic charms of the young girl of the Luxembourg.
Heart-rending distress; Marius bore a passion in his heart, and night
over his eyes. He was thrust onward, he was drawn, and he could not
stir. All had vanished, save love. Of love itself he had lost the
instincts and the sudden illuminations. Ordinarily, this flame which
burns us lights us also a little, and casts some useful gleams without.
But Marius no longer even heard these mute counsels of passion. He never
said to himself: "What if I were to go to such a place? What if I were
to try such and such a thing?" The girl whom he could no longer call
Ursule was evidently somewhere; nothing warned Marius in what direction
he should seek her. His whole life was now summed up in two words;
absolute uncertainty within an impenetrable fog. To see her once again;
he still aspired to this, but he no longer expected it.

To crown all, his poverty had returned. He felt that icy breath close to
him, on his heels. In the midst of his torments, and long before
this, he had discontinued his work, and nothing is more dangerous than
discontinued work; it is a habit which vanishes. A habit which is easy
to get rid of, and difficult to take up again.

A certain amount of dreaming is good, like a narcotic in discreet doses.
It lulls to sleep the fevers of the mind at labor, which are sometimes
severe, and produces in the spirit a soft and fresh vapor which corrects
the over-harsh contours of pure thought, fills in gaps here and there,
binds together and rounds off the angles of the ideas. But too much
dreaming sinks and drowns. Woe to the brain-worker who allows himself to
fall entirely from thought into revery! He thinks that he can re-ascend
with equal ease, and he tells himself that, after all, it is the same
thing. Error!

Thought is the toil of the intelligence, revery its voluptuousness. To
replace thought with revery is to confound a poison with a food.

Marius had begun in that way, as the reader will remember. Passion had
supervened and had finished the work of precipitating him into chimaeras
without object or bottom. One no longer emerges from one's self except
for the purpose of going off to dream. Idle production. Tumultuous and
stagnant gulf. And, in proportion as labor diminishes, needs increase.
This is a law. Man, in a state of revery, is generally prodigal and
slack; the unstrung mind cannot hold life within close bounds.

There is, in that mode of life, good mingled with evil, for if
enervation is baleful, generosity is good and healthful. But the poor
man who is generous and noble, and who does not work, is lost. Resources
are exhausted, needs crop up.

Fatal declivity down which the most honest and the firmest as well as
the most feeble and most vicious are drawn, and which ends in one of two
holds, suicide or crime.

By dint of going outdoors to think, the day comes when one goes out to
throw one's self in the water.

Excess of revery breeds men like Escousse and Lebras.

Marius was descending this declivity at a slow pace, with his eyes
fixed on the girl whom he no longer saw. What we have just written seems
strange, and yet it is true. The memory of an absent being kindles in
the darkness of the heart; the more it has disappeared, the more it
beams; the gloomy and despairing soul sees this light on its horizon;
the star of the inner night. She--that was Marius' whole thought. He
meditated of nothing else; he was confusedly conscious that his old coat
was becoming an impossible coat, and that his new coat was growing old,
that his shirts were wearing out, that his hat was wearing out, that his
boots were giving out, and he said to himself: "If I could but see her
once again before I die!"

One sweet idea alone was left to him, that she had loved him, that her
glance had told him so, that she did not know his name, but that she did
know his soul, and that, wherever she was, however mysterious the place,
she still loved him perhaps. Who knows whether she were not thinking of
him as he was thinking of her? Sometimes, in those inexplicable hours
such as are experienced by every heart that loves, though he had no
reasons for anything but sadness and yet felt an obscure quiver of joy,
he said to himself: "It is her thoughts that are coming to me!" Then he
added: "Perhaps my thoughts reach her also."

This illusion, at which he shook his head a moment later, was
sufficient, nevertheless, to throw beams, which at times resembled hope,
into his soul. From time to time, especially at that evening hour which
is the most depressing to even the dreamy, he allowed the purest, the
most impersonal, the most ideal of the reveries which filled his brain,
to fall upon a notebook which contained nothing else. He called this
"writing to her."

It must not be supposed that his reason was deranged. Quite the
contrary. He had lost the faculty of working and of moving firmly
towards any fixed goal, but he was endowed with more clear-sightedness
and rectitude than ever. Marius surveyed by a calm and real, although
peculiar light, what passed before his eyes, even the most indifferent
deeds and men; he pronounced a just criticism on everything with a sort
of honest dejection and candid disinterestedness. His judgment, which
was almost wholly disassociated from hope, held itself aloof and soared
on high.

In this state of mind nothing escaped him, nothing deceived him, and
every moment he was discovering the foundation of life, of humanity, and
of destiny. Happy, even in the midst of anguish, is he to whom God has
given a soul worthy of love and of unhappiness! He who has not viewed
the things of this world and the heart of man under this double light
has seen nothing and knows nothing of the true.

The soul which loves and suffers is in a state of sublimity.

However, day followed day, and nothing new presented itself. It
merely seemed to him, that the sombre space which still remained to be
traversed by him was growing shorter with every instant. He thought that
he already distinctly perceived the brink of the bottomless abyss.

"What!" he repeated to himself, "shall I not see her again before then!"

When you have ascended the Rue Saint-Jacques, left the barrier on one
side and followed the old inner boulevard for some distance, you reach
the Rue de la Sante, then the Glaciere, and, a little while before
arriving at the little river of the Gobelins, you come to a sort of
field which is the only spot in the long and monotonous chain of the
boulevards of Paris, where Ruysdeel would be tempted to sit down.

There is something indescribable there which exhales grace, a green
meadow traversed by tightly stretched lines, from which flutter rags
drying in the wind, and an old market-gardener's house, built in the
time of Louis XIII., with its great roof oddly pierced with dormer
windows, dilapidated palisades, a little water amid poplar-trees,
women, voices, laughter; on the horizon the Pantheon, the pole of
the Deaf-Mutes, the Val-de-Grace, black, squat, fantastic, amusing,
magnificent, and in the background, the severe square crests of the
towers of Notre Dame.

As the place is worth looking at, no one goes thither. Hardly one cart
or wagoner passes in a quarter of an hour.

It chanced that Marius' solitary strolls led him to this plot of
ground, near the water. That day, there was a rarity on the boulevard,
a passer-by. Marius, vaguely impressed with the almost savage beauty of
the place, asked this passer-by:--"What is the name of this spot?"

The person replied: "It is the Lark's meadow."

And he added: "It was here that Ulbach killed the shepherdess of Ivry."

But after the word "Lark" Marius heard nothing more. These sudden
congealments in the state of revery, which a single word suffices to
evoke, do occur. The entire thought is abruptly condensed around an
idea, and it is no longer capable of perceiving anything else.

The Lark was the appellation which had replaced Ursule in the depths of
Marius' melancholy.--"Stop," said he with a sort of unreasoning stupor
peculiar to these mysterious asides, "this is her meadow. I shall know
where she lives now."

It was absurd, but irresistible.

And every day he returned to that meadow of the Lark.


Javert's triumph in the Gorbeau hovel seemed complete, but had not been

In the first place, and this constituted the principal anxiety, Javert
had not taken the prisoner prisoner. The assassinated man who flees
is more suspicious than the assassin, and it is probable that this
personage, who had been so precious a capture for the ruffians, would be
no less fine a prize for the authorities.

And then, Montparnasse had escaped Javert.

Another opportunity of laying hands on that "devil's dandy" must be
waited for. Montparnasse had, in fact, encountered Eponine as she stood
on the watch under the trees of the boulevard, and had led her off,
preferring to play Nemorin with the daughter rather than Schinderhannes
with the father. It was well that he did so. He was free. As for
Eponine, Javert had caused her to be seized; a mediocre consolation.
Eponine had joined Azelma at Les Madelonettes.

And finally, on the way from the Gorbeau house to La Force, one of the
principal prisoners, Claquesous, had been lost. It was not known how
this had been effected, the police agents and the sergeants "could
not understand it at all." He had converted himself into vapor, he had
slipped through the handcuffs, he had trickled through the crevices of
the carriage, the fiacre was cracked, and he had fled; all that they
were able to say was, that on arriving at the prison, there was no
Claquesous. Either the fairies or the police had had a hand in it. Had
Claquesous melted into the shadows like a snow-flake in water? Had there
been unavowed connivance of the police agents? Did this man belong
to the double enigma of order and disorder? Was he concentric with
infraction and repression? Had this sphinx his fore paws in crime and
his hind paws in authority? Javert did not accept such comminations, and
would have bristled up against such compromises; but his squad included
other inspectors besides himself, who were more initiated than he,
perhaps, although they were his subordinates in the secrets of the
Prefecture, and Claquesous had been such a villain that he might make
a very good agent. It is an excellent thing for ruffianism and an
admirable thing for the police to be on such intimate juggling terms
with the night. These double-edged rascals do exist. However that may
be, Claquesous had gone astray and was not found again. Javert appeared
to be more irritated than amazed at this.

As for Marius, "that booby of a lawyer," who had probably become
frightened, and whose name Javert had forgotten, Javert attached very
little importance to him. Moreover, a lawyer can be hunted up at any
time. But was he a lawyer after all?

The investigation had begun.

The magistrate had thought it advisable not to put one of these men of
the band of Patron Minette in close confinement, in the hope that he
would chatter. This man was Brujon, the long-haired man of the Rue du
Petit-Banquier. He had been let loose in the Charlemagne courtyard, and
the eyes of the watchers were fixed on him.

This name of Brujon is one of the souvenirs of La Force. In that hideous
courtyard, called the court of the Batiment-Neuf (New Building), which
the administration called the court Saint-Bernard, and which the robbers
called the Fosseaux-Lions (The Lion's Ditch), on that wall covered with
scales and leprosy, which rose on the left to a level with the roofs,
near an old door of rusty iron which led to the ancient chapel of the
ducal residence of La Force, then turned in a dormitory for ruffians,
there could still be seen, twelve years ago, a sort of fortress roughly
carved in the stone with a nail, and beneath it this signature:--

                       BRUJON, 1811.

The Brujon of 1811 was the father of the Brujon of 1832.

The latter, of whom the reader caught but a glimpse at the Gorbeau
house, was a very cunning and very adroit young spark, with a bewildered
and plaintive air. It was in consequence of this plaintive air that the
magistrate had released him, thinking him more useful in the Charlemagne
yard than in close confinement.

Robbers do not interrupt their profession because they are in the hands
of justice. They do not let themselves be put out by such a trifle as
that. To be in prison for one crime is no reason for not beginning on
another crime. They are artists, who have one picture in the salon, and
who toil, none the less, on a new work in their studios.

Brujon seemed to be stupefied by prison. He could sometimes be seen
standing by the hour together in front of the sutler's window in the
Charlemagne yard, staring like an idiot at the sordid list of prices
which began with: garlic, 62 centimes, and ended with: cigar, 5
centimes. Or he passed his time in trembling, chattering his teeth,
saying that he had a fever, and inquiring whether one of the eight and
twenty beds in the fever ward was vacant.

All at once, towards the end of February, 1832, it was discovered that
Brujon, that somnolent fellow, had had three different commissions
executed by the errand-men of the establishment, not under his own name,
but in the name of three of his comrades; and they had cost him in all
fifty sous, an exorbitant outlay which attracted the attention of the
prison corporal.

Inquiries were instituted, and on consulting the tariff of commissions
posted in the convict's parlor, it was learned that the fifty sous could
be analyzed as follows: three commissions; one to the Pantheon, ten
sous; one to Val-de-Grace, fifteen sous; and one to the Barriere de
Grenelle, twenty-five sous. This last was the dearest of the whole
tariff. Now, at the Pantheon, at the Val-de-Grace, and at the Barriere
de Grenelle were situated the domiciles of the three very redoubtable
prowlers of the barriers, Kruideniers, alias Bizarre, Glorieux, an
ex-convict, and Barre-Carosse, upon whom the attention of the police was
directed by this incident. It was thought that these men were members
of Patron Minette; two of those leaders, Babet and Gueulemer, had been
captured. It was supposed that the messages, which had been addressed,
not to houses, but to people who were waiting for them in the street,
must have contained information with regard to some crime that had been
plotted. They were in possession of other indications; they laid hand on
the three prowlers, and supposed that they had circumvented some one or
other of Brujon's machinations.

About a week after these measures had been taken, one night, as the
superintendent of the watch, who had been inspecting the lower dormitory
in the Batiment-Neuf, was about to drop his chestnut in the box--this
was the means adopted to make sure that the watchmen performed their
duties punctually; every hour a chestnut must be dropped into all the
boxes nailed to the doors of the dormitories--a watchman looked through
the peep-hole of the dormitory and beheld Brujon sitting on his bed and
writing something by the light of the hall-lamp. The guardian entered,
Brujon was put in a solitary cell for a month, but they were not able to
seize what he had written. The police learned nothing further about it.

What is certain is, that on the following morning, a "postilion"
was flung from the Charlemagne yard into the Lions' Ditch, over the
five-story building which separated the two court-yards.

What prisoners call a "postilion" is a pellet of bread artistically
moulded, which is sent into Ireland, that is to say, over the roofs of a
prison, from one courtyard to another. Etymology: over England; from one
land to another; into Ireland. This little pellet falls in the yard. The
man who picks it up opens it and finds in it a note addressed to some
prisoner in that yard. If it is a prisoner who finds the treasure, he
forwards the note to its destination; if it is a keeper, or one of the
prisoners secretly sold who are called sheep in prisons and foxes in the
galleys, the note is taken to the office and handed over to the police.

On this occasion, the postilion reached its address, although the person
to whom it was addressed was, at that moment, in solitary confinement.
This person was no other than Babet, one of the four heads of Patron

The postilion contained a roll of paper on which only these two lines
were written:--

"Babet. There is an affair in the Rue Plumet. A gate on a garden."

This is what Brujon had written the night before.

In spite of male and female searchers, Babet managed to pass the note on
from La Force to the Salpetriere, to a "good friend" whom he had and who
was shut up there. This woman in turn transmitted the note to another
woman of her acquaintance, a certain Magnon, who was strongly suspected
by the police, though not yet arrested. This Magnon, whose name the
reader has already seen, had relations with the Thenardier, which will
be described in detail later on, and she could, by going to see Eponine,
serve as a bridge between the Salpetriere and Les Madelonettes.

It happened, that at precisely that moment, as proofs were wanting
in the investigation directed against Thenardier in the matter of his
daughters, Eponine and Azelma were released. When Eponine came out,
Magnon, who was watching the gate of the Madelonettes, handed her
Brujon's note to Babet, charging her to look into the matter.

Eponine went to the Rue Plumet, recognized the gate and the garden,
observed the house, spied, lurked, and, a few days later, brought to
Magnon, who delivers in the Rue Clocheperce, a biscuit, which Magnon
transmitted to Babet's mistress in the Salpetriere. A biscuit, in the
shady symbolism of prisons, signifies: Nothing to be done.

So that in less than a week from that time, as Brujon and Babet met in
the circle of La Force, the one on his way to the examination, the other
on his way from it:--

"Well?" asked Brujon, "the Rue P.?"

"Biscuit," replied Babet. Thus did the foetus of crime engendered by
Brujon in La Force miscarry.

This miscarriage had its consequences, however, which were perfectly
distinct from Brujon's programme. The reader will see what they were.

Often when we think we are knotting one thread, we are tying quite


Marius no longer went to see any one, but he sometimes encountered
Father Mabeuf by chance.

While Marius was slowly descending those melancholy steps which may be
called the cellar stairs, and which lead to places without light, where
the happy can be heard walking overhead, M. Mabeuf was descending on his

The Flora of Cauteretz no longer sold at all. The experiments on indigo
had not been successful in the little garden of Austerlitz, which had
a bad exposure. M. Mabeuf could cultivate there only a few plants which
love shade and dampness. Nevertheless, he did not become discouraged. He
had obtained a corner in the Jardin des Plantes, with a good exposure,
to make his trials with indigo "at his own expense." For this purpose he
had pawned his copperplates of the Flora. He had reduced his breakfast
to two eggs, and he left one of these for his old servant, to whom he
had paid no wages for the last fifteen months. And often his breakfast
was his only meal. He no longer smiled with his infantile smile, he had
grown morose and no longer received visitors. Marius did well not to
dream of going thither. Sometimes, at the hour when M. Mabeuf was on his
way to the Jardin des Plantes, the old man and the young man passed
each other on the Boulevard de l'Hopital. They did not speak, and only
exchanged a melancholy sign of the head. A heart-breaking thing it is
that there comes a moment when misery looses bonds! Two men who have
been friends become two chance passers-by.

Royal the bookseller was dead. M. Mabeuf no longer knew his books,
his garden, or his indigo: these were the three forms which happiness,
pleasure, and hope had assumed for him. This sufficed him for his
living. He said to himself: "When I shall have made my balls of blueing,
I shall be rich, I will withdraw my copperplates from the pawn-shop,
I will put my Flora in vogue again with trickery, plenty of money and
advertisements in the newspapers and I will buy, I know well where, a
copy of Pierre de Medine's Art de Naviguer, with wood-cuts, edition of
1655." In the meantime, he toiled all day over his plot of indigo, and
at night he returned home to water his garden, and to read his books. At
that epoch, M. Mabeuf was nearly eighty years of age.

One evening he had a singular apparition.

He had returned home while it was still broad daylight. Mother
Plutarque, whose health was declining, was ill and in bed. He had dined
on a bone, on which a little meat lingered, and a bit of bread that he
had found on the kitchen table, and had seated himself on an overturned
stone post, which took the place of a bench in his garden.

Near this bench there rose, after the fashion in orchard-gardens, a sort
of large chest, of beams and planks, much dilapidated, a rabbit-hutch on
the ground floor, a fruit-closet on the first. There was nothing in the
hutch, but there were a few apples in the fruit-closet,--the remains of
the winter's provision.

M. Mabeuf had set himself to turning over and reading, with the aid of
his glasses, two books of which he was passionately fond and in which,
a serious thing at his age, he was interested. His natural timidity
rendered him accessible to the acceptance of superstitions in a certain
degree. The first of these books was the famous treatise of President
Delancre, De l'inconstance des Demons; the other was a quarto by Mutor
de la Rubaudiere, Sur les Diables de Vauvert et les Gobelins de la
Bievre. This last-mentioned old volume interested him all the more,
because his garden had been one of the spots haunted by goblins in
former times. The twilight had begun to whiten what was on high and to
blacken all below. As he read, over the top of the book which he held
in his hand, Father Mabeuf was surveying his plants, and among others a
magnificent rhododendron which was one of his consolations; four days of
heat, wind, and sun without a drop of rain, had passed; the stalks were
bending, the buds drooping, the leaves falling; all this needed water,
the rhododendron was particularly sad. Father Mabeuf was one of those
persons for whom plants have souls. The old man had toiled all day over
his indigo plot, he was worn out with fatigue, but he rose, laid
his books on the bench, and walked, all bent over and with tottering
footsteps, to the well, but when he had grasped the chain, he could not
even draw it sufficiently to unhook it. Then he turned round and cast a
glance of anguish toward heaven which was becoming studded with stars.

The evening had that serenity which overwhelms the troubles of man
beneath an indescribably mournful and eternal joy. The night promised to
be as arid as the day had been.

"Stars everywhere!" thought the old man; "not the tiniest cloud! Not a
drop of water!"

And his head, which had been upraised for a moment, fell back upon his

He raised it again, and once more looked at the sky, murmuring:--

"A tear of dew! A little pity!"

He tried again to unhook the chain of the well, and could not.

At that moment, he heard a voice saying:--

"Father Mabeuf, would you like to have me water your garden for you?"

At the same time, a noise as of a wild animal passing became audible
in the hedge, and he beheld emerging from the shrubbery a sort of tall,
slender girl, who drew herself up in front of him and stared boldly at
him. She had less the air of a human being than of a form which had just
blossomed forth from the twilight.

Before Father Mabeuf, who was easily terrified, and who was, as we have
said, quick to take alarm, was able to reply by a single syllable, this
being, whose movements had a sort of odd abruptness in the darkness, had
unhooked the chain, plunged in and withdrawn the bucket, and filled the
watering-pot, and the goodman beheld this apparition, which had bare
feet and a tattered petticoat, running about among the flower-beds
distributing life around her. The sound of the watering-pot on the
leaves filled Father Mabeuf's soul with ecstasy. It seemed to him that
the rhododendron was happy now.

The first bucketful emptied, the girl drew a second, then a third. She
watered the whole garden.

There was something about her, as she thus ran about among paths, where
her outline appeared perfectly black, waving her angular arms, and with
her fichu all in rags, that resembled a bat.

When she had finished, Father Mabeuf approached her with tears in his
eyes, and laid his hand on her brow.

"God will bless you," said he, "you are an angel since you take care of
the flowers."

"No," she replied. "I am the devil, but that's all the same to me."

The old man exclaimed, without either waiting for or hearing her

"What a pity that I am so unhappy and so poor, and that I can do nothing
for you!"

"You can do something," said she.


"Tell me where M. Marius lives."

The old man did not understand. "What Monsieur Marius?"

He raised his glassy eyes and seemed to be seeking something that had

"A young man who used to come here."

In the meantime, M. Mabeuf had searched his memory.

"Ah! yes--" he exclaimed. "I know what you mean. Wait! Monsieur
Marius--the Baron Marius Pontmercy, parbleu! He lives,--or rather, he no
longer lives,--ah well, I don't know."

As he spoke, he had bent over to train a branch of rhododendron, and he

"Hold, I know now. He very often passes along the boulevard, and goes in
the direction of the Glaciere, Rue Croulebarbe. The meadow of the Lark.
Go there. It is not hard to meet him."

When M. Mabeuf straightened himself up, there was no longer any one
there; the girl had disappeared.

He was decidedly terrified.

"Really," he thought, "if my garden had not been watered, I should think
that she was a spirit."

An hour later, when he was in bed, it came back to him, and as he fell
asleep, at that confused moment when thought, like that fabulous bird
which changes itself into a fish in order to cross the sea, little by
little assumes the form of a dream in order to traverse slumber, he said
to himself in a bewildered way:--

"In sooth, that greatly resembles what Rubaudiere narrates of the
goblins. Could it have been a goblin?"


Some days after this visit of a "spirit" to Farmer Mabeuf, one
morning,--it was on a Monday, the day when Marius borrowed the
hundred-sou piece from Courfeyrac for Thenardier--Marius had put this
coin in his pocket, and before carrying it to the clerk's office, he
had gone "to take a little stroll," in the hope that this would make him
work on his return. It was always thus, however. As soon as he rose, he
seated himself before a book and a sheet of paper in order to scribble
some translation; his task at that epoch consisted in turning into
French a celebrated quarrel between Germans, the Gans and Savigny
controversy; he took Savigny, he took Gans, read four lines, tried to
write one, could not, saw a star between him and his paper, and rose
from his chair, saying: "I shall go out. That will put me in spirits."

And off he went to the Lark's meadow.

There he beheld more than ever the star, and less than ever Savigny and

He returned home, tried to take up his work again, and did not succeed;
there was no means of re-knotting a single one of the threads which
were broken in his brain; then he said to himself: "I will not go out
to-morrow. It prevents my working." And he went out every day.

He lived in the Lark's meadow more than in Courfeyrac's lodgings. That
was his real address: Boulevard de la Sante, at the seventh tree from
the Rue Croulebarbe.

That morning he had quitted the seventh tree and had seated himself on
the parapet of the River des Gobelins. A cheerful sunlight penetrated
the freshly unfolded and luminous leaves.

He was dreaming of "Her." And his meditation turning to a reproach, fell
back upon himself; he reflected dolefully on his idleness, his paralysis
of soul, which was gaining on him, and of that night which was growing
more dense every moment before him, to such a point that he no longer
even saw the sun.

Nevertheless, athwart this painful extrication of indistinct ideas which
was not even a monologue, so feeble had action become in him, and he
had no longer the force to care to despair, athwart this melancholy
absorption, sensations from without did reach him. He heard behind him,
beneath him, on both banks of the river, the laundresses of the Gobelins
beating their linen, and above his head, the birds chattering and
singing in the elm-trees. On the one hand, the sound of liberty, the
careless happiness of the leisure which has wings; on the other, the
sound of toil. What caused him to meditate deeply, and almost reflect,
were two cheerful sounds.

All at once, in the midst of his dejected ecstasy, he heard a familiar
voice saying:--

"Come! Here he is!"

He raised his eyes, and recognized that wretched child who had come to
him one morning, the elder of the Thenardier daughters, Eponine; he knew
her name now. Strange to say, she had grown poorer and prettier,
two steps which it had not seemed within her power to take. She had
accomplished a double progress, towards the light and towards distress.
She was barefooted and in rags, as on the day when she had so resolutely
entered his chamber, only her rags were two months older now, the holes
were larger, the tatters more sordid. It was the same harsh voice,
the same brow dimmed and wrinkled with tan, the same free, wild, and
vacillating glance. She had besides, more than formerly, in her face
that indescribably terrified and lamentable something which sojourn in a
prison adds to wretchedness.

She had bits of straw and hay in her hair, not like Ophelia through
having gone mad from the contagion of Hamlet's madness, but because she
had slept in the loft of some stable.

And in spite of it all, she was beautiful. What a star art thou, O

In the meantime, she had halted in front of Marius with a trace of joy
in her livid countenance, and something which resembled a smile.

She stood for several moments as though incapable of speech.

"So I have met you at last!" she said at length. "Father Mabeuf was
right, it was on this boulevard! How I have hunted for you! If you only
knew! Do you know? I have been in the jug. A fortnight! They let me out!
seeing that there was nothing against me, and that, moreover, I had not
reached years of discretion. I lack two months of it. Oh! how I have
hunted for you! These six weeks! So you don't live down there any more?"

"No," said Marius.

"Ah! I understand. Because of that affair. Those take-downs are
disagreeable. You cleared out. Come now! Why do you wear old hats like
this! A young man like you ought to have fine clothes. Do you know,
Monsieur Marius, Father Mabeuf calls you Baron Marius, I don't know
what. It isn't true that you are a baron? Barons are old fellows, they
go to the Luxembourg, in front of the chateau, where there is the most
sun, and they read the Quotidienne for a sou. I once carried a letter to
a baron of that sort. He was over a hundred years old. Say, where do you
live now?"

Marius made no reply.

"Ah!" she went on, "you have a hole in your shirt. I must sew it up for

She resumed with an expression which gradually clouded over:--

"You don't seem glad to see me."

Marius held his peace; she remained silent for a moment, then

"But if I choose, nevertheless, I could force you to look glad!"

"What?" demanded Marius. "What do you mean?"

"Ah! you used to call me thou," she retorted.

"Well, then, what dost thou mean?"

She bit her lips; she seemed to hesitate, as though a prey to some sort
of inward conflict. At last she appeared to come to a decision.

"So much the worse, I don't care. You have a melancholy air, I want you
to be pleased. Only promise me that you will smile. I want to see you
smile and hear you say: 'Ah, well, that's good.' Poor Mr. Marius! you
know? You promised me that you would give me anything I like--"

"Yes! Only speak!"

She looked Marius full in the eye, and said:--

"I have the address."

Marius turned pale. All the blood flowed back to his heart.

"What address?"

"The address that you asked me to get!"

She added, as though with an effort:--

"The address--you know very well!"

"Yes!" stammered Marius.

"Of that young lady."

This word uttered, she sighed deeply.

Marius sprang from the parapet on which he had been sitting and seized
her hand distractedly.

"Oh! Well! lead me thither! Tell me! Ask of me anything you wish! Where
is it?"

"Come with me," she responded. "I don't know the street or number very
well; it is in quite the other direction from here, but I know the house
well, I will take you to it."

She withdrew her hand and went on, in a tone which could have rent
the heart of an observer, but which did not even graze Marius in his
intoxicated and ecstatic state:--

"Oh! how glad you are!"

A cloud swept across Marius' brow. He seized Eponine by the arm:--

"Swear one thing to me!"

"Swear!" said she, "what does that mean? Come! You want me to swear?"

And she laughed.

"Your father! promise me, Eponine! Swear to me that you will not give
this address to your father!"

She turned to him with a stupefied air.

"Eponine! How do you know that my name is Eponine?"

"Promise what I tell you!"

But she did not seem to hear him.

"That's nice! You have called me Eponine!"

Marius grasped both her arms at once.

"But answer me, in the name of Heaven! pay attention to what I am saying
to you, swear to me that you will not tell your father this address that
you know!"

"My father!" said she. "Ah yes, my father! Be at ease. He's in close
confinement. Besides, what do I care for my father!"

"But you do not promise me!" exclaimed Marius.

"Let go of me!" she said, bursting into a laugh, "how you do shake me!
Yes! Yes! I promise that! I swear that to you! What is that to me? I
will not tell my father the address. There! Is that right? Is that it?"

"Nor to any one?" said Marius.

"Nor to any one."

"Now," resumed Marius, "take me there."



"Come along. Ah! how pleased he is!" said she.

After a few steps she halted.

"You are following me too closely, Monsieur Marius. Let me go on ahead,
and follow me so, without seeming to do it. A nice young man like you
must not be seen with a woman like me."

No tongue can express all that lay in that word, woman, thus pronounced
by that child.

She proceeded a dozen paces and then halted once more; Marius joined
her. She addressed him sideways, and without turning towards him:--

"By the way, you know that you promised me something?"

Marius fumbled in his pocket. All that he owned in the world was the
five francs intended for Thenardier the father. He took them and laid
them in Eponine's hand.

She opened her fingers and let the coin fall to the ground, and gazed at
him with a gloomy air.

"I don't want your money," said she.



About the middle of the last century, a chief justice in the Parliament
of Paris having a mistress and concealing the fact, for at that period
the grand seignors displayed their mistresses, and the bourgeois
concealed them, had "a little house" built in the Faubourg
Saint-Germain, in the deserted Rue Blomet, which is now called Rue
Plumet, not far from the spot which was then designated as Combat des

This house was composed of a single-storied pavilion; two rooms on the
ground floor, two chambers on the first floor, a kitchen down stairs,
a boudoir up stairs, an attic under the roof, the whole preceded by a
garden with a large gate opening on the street. This garden was about
an acre and a half in extent. This was all that could be seen by
passers-by; but behind the pavilion there was a narrow courtyard, and
at the end of the courtyard a low building consisting of two rooms and
a cellar, a sort of preparation destined to conceal a child and nurse
in case of need. This building communicated in the rear by a masked
door which opened by a secret spring, with a long, narrow, paved winding
corridor, open to the sky, hemmed in with two lofty walls, which, hidden
with wonderful art, and lost as it were between garden enclosures and
cultivated land, all of whose angles and detours it followed, ended in
another door, also with a secret lock which opened a quarter of a league
away, almost in another quarter, at the solitary extremity of the Rue du

Through this the chief justice entered, so that even those who were
spying on him and following him would merely have observed that the
justice betook himself every day in a mysterious way somewhere, and
would never have suspected that to go to the Rue de Babylone was to go
to the Rue Blomet. Thanks to clever purchasers of land, the magistrate
had been able to make a secret, sewer-like passage on his own property,
and consequently, without interference. Later on, he had sold in little
parcels, for gardens and market gardens, the lots of ground adjoining
the corridor, and the proprietors of these lots on both sides thought
they had a party wall before their eyes, and did not even suspect the
long, paved ribbon winding between two walls amid their flower-beds and
their orchards. Only the birds beheld this curiosity. It is probable
that the linnets and tomtits of the last century gossiped a great deal
about the chief justice.

The pavilion, built of stone in the taste of Mansard, wainscoted and
furnished in the Watteau style, rocaille on the inside, old-fashioned
on the outside, walled in with a triple hedge of flowers, had something
discreet, coquettish, and solemn about it, as befits a caprice of love
and magistracy.

This house and corridor, which have now disappeared, were in existence
fifteen years ago. In '93 a coppersmith had purchased the house with
the idea of demolishing it, but had not been able to pay the price; the
nation made him bankrupt. So that it was the house which demolished the
coppersmith. After that, the house remained uninhabited, and fell slowly
to ruin, as does every dwelling to which the presence of man does not
communicate life. It had remained fitted with its old furniture, was
always for sale or to let, and the ten or a dozen people who passed
through the Rue Plumet were warned of the fact by a yellow and illegible
bit of writing which had hung on the garden wall since 1819.

Towards the end of the Restoration, these same passers-by might have
noticed that the bill had disappeared, and even that the shutters on the
first floor were open. The house was occupied, in fact. The windows had
short curtains, a sign that there was a woman about.

In the month of October, 1829, a man of a certain age had presented
himself and had hired the house just as it stood, including, of course,
the back building and the lane which ended in the Rue de Babylone. He
had had the secret openings of the two doors to this passage repaired.
The house, as we have just mentioned, was still very nearly furnished
with the justice's old fitting; the new tenant had ordered some
repairs, had added what was lacking here and there, had replaced the
paving-stones in the yard, bricks in the floors, steps in the stairs,
missing bits in the inlaid floors and the glass in the lattice windows,
and had finally installed himself there with a young girl and an elderly
maid-servant, without commotion, rather like a person who is slipping
in than like a man who is entering his own house. The neighbors did not
gossip about him, for the reason that there were no neighbors.

This unobtrusive tenant was Jean Valjean, the young girl was Cosette.
The servant was a woman named Toussaint, whom Jean Valjean had saved
from the hospital and from wretchedness, and who was elderly, a
stammerer, and from the provinces, three qualities which had decided
Jean Valjean to take her with him. He had hired the house under the name
of M. Fauchelevent, independent gentleman. In all that has been
related heretofore, the reader has, doubtless, been no less prompt than
Thenardier to recognize Jean Valjean.

Why had Jean Valjean quitted the convent of the Petit-Picpus? What had

Nothing had happened.

It will be remembered that Jean Valjean was happy in the convent, so
happy that his conscience finally took the alarm. He saw Cosette every
day, he felt paternity spring up and develop within him more and more,
he brooded over the soul of that child, he said to himself that she
was his, that nothing could take her from him, that this would last
indefinitely, that she would certainly become a nun, being thereto
gently incited every day, that thus the convent was henceforth the
universe for her as it was for him, that he should grow old there, and
that she would grow up there, that she would grow old there, and that
he should die there; that, in short, delightful hope, no separation
was possible. On reflecting upon this, he fell into perplexity. He
interrogated himself. He asked himself if all that happiness were
really his, if it were not composed of the happiness of another, of
the happiness of that child which he, an old man, was confiscating and
stealing; if that were not theft? He said to himself, that this child
had a right to know life before renouncing it, that to deprive her in
advance, and in some sort without consulting her, of all joys, under
the pretext of saving her from all trials, to take advantage of her
ignorance of her isolation, in order to make an artificial vocation
germinate in her, was to rob a human creature of its nature and to lie
to God. And who knows if, when she came to be aware of all this some
day, and found herself a nun to her sorrow, Cosette would not come to
hate him? A last, almost selfish thought, and less heroic than the rest,
but which was intolerable to him. He resolved to quit the convent.

He resolved on this; he recognized with anguish, the fact that it was
necessary. As for objections, there were none. Five years' sojourn
between these four walls and of disappearance had necessarily destroyed
or dispersed the elements of fear. He could return tranquilly among men.
He had grown old, and all had undergone a change. Who would recognize
him now? And then, to face the worst, there was danger only for himself,
and he had no right to condemn Cosette to the cloister for the reason
that he had been condemned to the galleys. Besides, what is danger in
comparison with the right? Finally, nothing prevented his being prudent
and taking his precautions.

As for Cosette's education, it was almost finished and complete.

His determination once taken, he awaited an opportunity. It was not long
in presenting itself. Old Fauchelevent died.

Jean Valjean demanded an audience with the revered prioress and told her
that, having come into a little inheritance at the death of his brother,
which permitted him henceforth to live without working, he should leave
the service of the convent and take his daughter with him; but that, as
it was not just that Cosette, since she had not taken the vows, should
have received her education gratuitously, he humbly begged the Reverend
Prioress to see fit that he should offer to the community, as indemnity,
for the five years which Cosette had spent there, the sum of five
thousand francs.

It was thus that Jean Valjean quitted the convent of the Perpetual

On leaving the convent, he took in his own arms the little valise the
key to which he still wore on his person, and would permit no porter to
touch it. This puzzled Cosette, because of the odor of embalming which
proceeded from it.

Let us state at once, that this trunk never quitted him more. He always
had it in his chamber. It was the first and only thing sometimes, that
he carried off in his moving when he moved about. Cosette laughed at it,
and called this valise his inseparable, saying: "I am jealous of it."

Nevertheless, Jean Valjean did not reappear in the open air without
profound anxiety.

He discovered the house in the Rue Plumet, and hid himself from
sight there. Henceforth he was in the possession of the name:--Ultime

At the same time he hired two other apartments in Paris, in order that
he might attract less attention than if he were to remain always in the
same quarter, and so that he could, at need, take himself off at the
slightest disquietude which should assail him, and in short, so that
he might not again be caught unprovided as on the night when he had
so miraculously escaped from Javert. These two apartments were very
pitiable, poor in appearance, and in two quarters which were far remote
from each other, the one in the Rue de l'Ouest, the other in the Rue de
l'Homme Arme.

He went from time to time, now to the Rue de l'Homme Arme, now to the
Rue de l'Ouest, to pass a month or six weeks, without taking Toussaint.
He had himself served by the porters, and gave himself out as a
gentleman from the suburbs, living on his funds, and having a little
temporary resting-place in town. This lofty virtue had three domiciles
in Paris for the sake of escaping from the police.


However, properly speaking, he lived in the Rue Plumet, and he had
arranged his existence there in the following fashion:--

Cosette and the servant occupied the pavilion; she had the big
sleeping-room with the painted pier-glasses, the boudoir with the gilded
fillets, the justice's drawing-room furnished with tapestries and vast
arm-chairs; she had the garden. Jean Valjean had a canopied bed of
antique damask in three colors and a beautiful Persian rug purchased in
the Rue du Figuier-Saint-Paul at Mother Gaucher's, put into Cosette's
chamber, and, in order to redeem the severity of these magnificent
old things, he had amalgamated with this bric-a-brac all the gay and
graceful little pieces of furniture suitable to young girls, an etagere,
a bookcase filled with gilt-edged books, an inkstand, a blotting-book,
paper, a work-table incrusted with mother of pearl, a silver-gilt
dressing-case, a toilet service in Japanese porcelain. Long damask
curtains with a red foundation and three colors, like those on the
bed, hung at the windows of the first floor. On the ground floor, the
curtains were of tapestry. All winter long, Cosette's little house was
heated from top to bottom. Jean Valjean inhabited the sort of porter's
lodge which was situated at the end of the back courtyard, with a
mattress on a folding-bed, a white wood table, two straw chairs, an
earthenware water-jug, a few old volumes on a shelf, his beloved valise
in one corner, and never any fire. He dined with Cosette, and he had a
loaf of black bread on the table for his own use.

When Toussaint came, he had said to her: "It is the young lady who is
the mistress of this house."--"And you, monsieur?" Toussaint replied in
amazement.--"I am a much better thing than the master, I am the father."

Cosette had been taught housekeeping in the convent, and she regulated
their expenditure, which was very modest. Every day, Jean Valjean put
his arm through Cosette's and took her for a walk. He led her to the
Luxembourg, to the least frequented walk, and every Sunday he took her
to mass at Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, because that was a long way off.
As it was a very poor quarter, he bestowed alms largely there, and the
poor people surrounded him in church, which had drawn down upon him
Thenardier's epistle: "To the benevolent gentleman of the church of
Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas." He was fond of taking Cosette to visit the
poor and the sick. No stranger ever entered the house in the Rue Plumet.
Toussaint brought their provisions, and Jean Valjean went himself for
water to a fountain near by on the boulevard. Their wood and wine were
put into a half-subterranean hollow lined with rock-work which lay near
the Rue de Babylone and which had formerly served the chief-justice as
a grotto; for at the epoch of follies and "Little Houses" no love was
without a grotto.

In the door opening on the Rue de Babylone, there was a box destined for
the reception of letters and papers; only, as the three inhabitants of
the pavilion in the Rue Plumet received neither papers nor letters, the
entire usefulness of that box, formerly the go-between of a love
affair, and the confidant of a love-lorn lawyer, was now limited to
the tax-collector's notices, and the summons of the guard. For M.
Fauchelevent, independent gentleman, belonged to the national guard;
he had not been able to escape through the fine meshes of the census of
1831. The municipal information collected at that time had even reached
the convent of the Petit-Picpus, a sort of impenetrable and holy cloud,
whence Jean Valjean had emerged in venerable guise, and, consequently,
worthy of mounting guard in the eyes of the townhall.

Three or four times a year, Jean Valjean donned his uniform and mounted
guard; he did this willingly, however; it was a correct disguise which
mixed him with every one, and yet left him solitary. Jean Valjean had
just attained his sixtieth birthday, the age of legal exemption; but he
did not appear to be over fifty; moreover, he had no desire to escape
his sergeant-major nor to quibble with Comte de Lobau; he possessed
no civil status, he was concealing his name, he was concealing his
identity, so he concealed his age, he concealed everything; and, as we
have just said, he willingly did his duty as a national guard; the sum
of his ambition lay in resembling any other man who paid his taxes. This
man had for his ideal, within, the angel, without, the bourgeois.

Let us note one detail, however; when Jean Valjean went out with
Cosette, he dressed as the reader has already seen, and had the air of
a retired officer. When he went out alone, which was generally at night,
he was always dressed in a workingman's trousers and blouse, and wore
a cap which concealed his face. Was this precaution or humility? Both.
Cosette was accustomed to the enigmatical side of her destiny, and
hardly noticed her father's peculiarities. As for Toussaint, she
venerated Jean Valjean, and thought everything he did right.

One day, her butcher, who had caught a glimpse of Jean Valjean, said to
her: "That's a queer fish." She replied: "He's a saint."

Neither Jean Valjean nor Cosette nor Toussaint ever entered or emerged
except by the door on the Rue de Babylone. Unless seen through the
garden gate it would have been difficult to guess that they lived in
the Rue Plumet. That gate was always closed. Jean Valjean had left the
garden uncultivated, in order not to attract attention.

In this, possibly, he made a mistake.


The garden thus left to itself for more than half a century had become
extraordinary and charming. The passers-by of forty years ago halted to
gaze at it, without a suspicion of the secrets which it hid in its fresh
and verdant depths. More than one dreamer of that epoch often allowed
his thoughts and his eyes to penetrate indiscreetly between the bars of
that ancient, padlocked gate, twisted, tottering, fastened to two
green and moss-covered pillars, and oddly crowned with a pediment of
undecipherable arabesque.

There was a stone bench in one corner, one or two mouldy statues,
several lattices which had lost their nails with time, were rotting on
the wall, and there were no walks nor turf; but there was enough grass
everywhere. Gardening had taken its departure, and nature had returned.
Weeds abounded, which was a great piece of luck for a poor corner of
land. The festival of gilliflowers was something splendid. Nothing
in this garden obstructed the sacred effort of things towards life;
venerable growth reigned there among them. The trees had bent over
towards the nettles, the plant had sprung upward, the branch had
inclined, that which crawls on the earth had gone in search of that
which expands in the air, that which floats on the wind had bent over
towards that which trails in the moss; trunks, boughs, leaves, fibres,
clusters, tendrils, shoots, spines, thorns, had mingled, crossed,
married, confounded themselves in each other; vegetation in a deep
and close embrace, had celebrated and accomplished there, under the
well-pleased eye of the Creator, in that enclosure three hundred feet
square, the holy mystery of fraternity, symbol of the human fraternity.
This garden was no longer a garden, it was a colossal thicket, that is
to say, something as impenetrable as a forest, as peopled as a city,
quivering like a nest, sombre like a cathedral, fragrant like a bouquet,
solitary as a tomb, living as a throng.

In Floreal[34] this enormous thicket, free behind its gate and within
its four walls, entered upon the secret labor of germination, quivered
in the rising sun, almost like an animal which drinks in the breaths of
cosmic love, and which feels the sap of April rising and boiling in
its veins, and shakes to the wind its enormous wonderful green locks,
sprinkled on the damp earth, on the defaced statues, on the crumbling
steps of the pavilion, and even on the pavement of the deserted street,
flowers like stars, dew like pearls, fecundity, beauty, life, joy,
perfumes. At midday, a thousand white butterflies took refuge there, and
it was a divine spectacle to see that living summer snow whirling about
there in flakes amid the shade. There, in those gay shadows of verdure,
a throng of innocent voices spoke sweetly to the soul, and what the
twittering forgot to say the humming completed. In the evening, a dreamy
vapor exhaled from the garden and enveloped it; a shroud of mist, a
calm and celestial sadness covered it; the intoxicating perfume of the
honeysuckles and convolvulus poured out from every part of it, like an
exquisite and subtle poison; the last appeals of the woodpeckers and
the wagtails were audible as they dozed among the branches; one felt the
sacred intimacy of the birds and the trees; by day the wings rejoice the
leaves, by night the leaves protect the wings.

In winter the thicket was black, dripping, bristling, shivering, and
allowed some glimpse of the house. Instead of flowers on the branches
and dew in the flowers, the long silvery tracks of the snails were
visible on the cold, thick carpet of yellow leaves; but in any fashion,
under any aspect, at all seasons, spring, winter, summer, autumn, this
tiny enclosure breathed forth melancholy, contemplation, solitude,
liberty, the absence of man, the presence of God; and the rusty old gate
had the air of saying: "This garden belongs to me."

It was of no avail that the pavements of Paris were there on every side,
the classic and splendid hotels of the Rue de Varennes a couple of paces
away, the dome of the Invalides close at hand, the Chamber of Deputies
not far off; the carriages of the Rue de Bourgogne and of the Rue
Saint-Dominique rumbled luxuriously, in vain, in the vicinity, in vain
did the yellow, brown, white, and red omnibuses cross each other's
course at the neighboring cross-roads; the Rue Plumet was the desert;
and the death of the former proprietors, the revolution which had passed
over it, the crumbling away of ancient fortunes, absence, forgetfulness,
forty years of abandonment and widowhood, had sufficed to restore to
this privileged spot ferns, mulleins, hemlock, yarrow, tall weeds, great
crimped plants, with large leaves of pale green cloth, lizards, beetles,
uneasy and rapid insects; to cause to spring forth from the depths
of the earth and to reappear between those four walls a certain
indescribable and savage grandeur; and for nature, which disconcerts
the petty arrangements of man, and which sheds herself always thoroughly
where she diffuses herself at all, in the ant as well as in the eagle,
to blossom out in a petty little Parisian garden with as much rude force
and majesty as in a virgin forest of the New World.

Nothing is small, in fact; any one who is subject to the profound
and penetrating influence of nature knows this. Although no absolute
satisfaction is given to philosophy, either to circumscribe the cause
or to limit the effect, the contemplator falls into those unfathomable
ecstasies caused by these decompositions of force terminating in unity.
Everything toils at everything.

Algebra is applied to the clouds; the radiation of the star profits
the rose; no thinker would venture to affirm that the perfume of the
hawthorn is useless to the constellations. Who, then, can calculate the
course of a molecule? How do we know that the creation of worlds is not
determined by the fall of grains of sand? Who knows the reciprocal
ebb and flow of the infinitely great and the infinitely little, the
reverberations of causes in the precipices of being, and the avalanches
of creation? The tiniest worm is of importance; the great is little, the
little is great; everything is balanced in necessity; alarming vision
for the mind. There are marvellous relations between beings and things;
in that inexhaustible whole, from the sun to the grub, nothing despises
the other; all have need of each other. The light does not bear away
terrestrial perfumes into the azure depths, without knowing what it is
doing; the night distributes stellar essences to the sleeping flowers.
All birds that fly have round their leg the thread of the infinite.
Germination is complicated with the bursting forth of a meteor and with
the peck of a swallow cracking its egg, and it places on one level the
birth of an earthworm and the advent of Socrates. Where the telescope
ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two possesses the larger field
of vision? Choose. A bit of mould is a pleiad of flowers; a nebula is an
ant-hill of stars. The same promiscuousness, and yet more unprecedented,
exists between the things of the intelligence and the facts of
substance. Elements and principles mingle, combine, wed, multiply with
each other, to such a point that the material and the moral world are
brought eventually to the same clearness. The phenomenon is perpetually
returning upon itself. In the vast cosmic exchanges the universal life
goes and comes in unknown quantities, rolling entirely in the invisible
mystery of effluvia, employing everything, not losing a single dream,
not a single slumber, sowing an animalcule here, crumbling to bits a
planet there, oscillating and winding, making of light a force and of
thought an element, disseminated and invisible, dissolving all,
except that geometrical point, the I; bringing everything back to the
soul-atom; expanding everything in God, entangling all activity, from
summit to base, in the obscurity of a dizzy mechanism, attaching the
flight of an insect to the movement of the earth, subordinating, who
knows? Were it only by the identity of the law, the evolution of the
comet in the firmament to the whirling of the infusoria in the drop
of water. A machine made of mind. Enormous gearing, the prime motor of
which is the gnat, and whose final wheel is the zodiac.


It seemed that this garden, created in olden days to conceal wanton
mysteries, had been transformed and become fitted to shelter chaste
mysteries. There were no longer either arbors, or bowling greens, or
tunnels, or grottos; there was a magnificent, dishevelled obscurity
falling like a veil over all. Paphos had been made over into Eden. It is
impossible to say what element of repentance had rendered this retreat
wholesome. This flower-girl now offered her blossom to the soul. This
coquettish garden, formerly decidedly compromised, had returned to
virginity and modesty. A justice assisted by a gardener, a goodman who
thought that he was a continuation of Lamoignon, and another goodman who
thought that he was a continuation of Lenotre, had turned it about, cut,
ruffled, decked, moulded it to gallantry; nature had taken possession of
it once more, had filled it with shade, and had arranged it for love.

There was, also, in this solitude, a heart which was quite ready. Love
had only to show himself; he had here a temple composed of verdure,
grass, moss, the sight of birds, tender shadows, agitated branches, and
a soul made of sweetness, of faith, of candor, of hope, of aspiration,
and of illusion.

Cosette had left the convent when she was still almost a child; she was
a little more than fourteen, and she was at the "ungrateful age"; we
have already said, that with the exception of her eyes, she was homely
rather than pretty; she had no ungraceful feature, but she was awkward,
thin, timid and bold at once, a grown-up little girl, in short.

Her education was finished, that is to say, she has been taught
religion, and even and above all, devotion; then "history," that is to
say the thing that bears that name in convents, geography, grammar,
the participles, the kings of France, a little music, a little drawing,
etc.; but in all other respects she was utterly ignorant, which is a
great charm and a great peril. The soul of a young girl should not be
left in the dark; later on, mirages that are too abrupt and too lively
are formed there, as in a dark chamber. She should be gently and
discreetly enlightened, rather with the reflection of realities than
with their harsh and direct light. A useful and graciously austere
half-light which dissipates puerile fears and obviates falls. There is
nothing but the maternal instinct, that admirable intuition composed of
the memories of the virgin and the experience of the woman, which knows
how this half-light is to be created and of what it should consist.

Nothing supplies the place of this instinct. All the nuns in the world
are not worth as much as one mother in the formation of a young girl's

Cosette had had no mother. She had only had many mothers, in the plural.

As for Jean Valjean, he was, indeed, all tenderness, all solicitude; but
he was only an old man and he knew nothing at all.

Now, in this work of education, in this grave matter of preparing a
woman for life, what science is required to combat that vast ignorance
which is called innocence!

Nothing prepares a young girl for passions like the convent. The convent
turns the thoughts in the direction of the unknown. The heart, thus
thrown back upon itself, works downward within itself, since it cannot
overflow, and grows deep, since it cannot expand. Hence visions,
suppositions, conjectures, outlines of romances, a desire for
adventures, fantastic constructions, edifices built wholly in the inner
obscurity of the mind, sombre and secret abodes where the passions
immediately find a lodgement as soon as the open gate permits them to
enter. The convent is a compression which, in order to triumph over the
human heart, should last during the whole life.

On quitting the convent, Cosette could have found nothing more sweet and
more dangerous than the house in the Rue Plumet. It was the continuation
of solitude with the beginning of liberty; a garden that was closed, but
a nature that was acrid, rich, voluptuous, and fragrant; the same dreams
as in the convent, but with glimpses of young men; a grating, but one
that opened on the street.

Still, when she arrived there, we repeat, she was only a child. Jean
Valjean gave this neglected garden over to her. "Do what you like with
it," he said to her. This amused Cosette; she turned over all the clumps
and all the stones, she hunted for "beasts"; she played in it, while
awaiting the time when she would dream in it; she loved this garden
for the insects that she found beneath her feet amid the grass, while
awaiting the day when she would love it for the stars that she would see
through the boughs above her head.

And then, she loved her father, that is to say, Jean Valjean, with
all her soul, with an innocent filial passion which made the goodman
a beloved and charming companion to her. It will be remembered that M.
Madeleine had been in the habit of reading a great deal. Jean Valjean
had continued this practice; he had come to converse well; he possessed
the secret riches and the eloquence of a true and humble mind which has
spontaneously cultivated itself. He retained just enough sharpness to
season his kindness; his mind was rough and his heart was soft. During
their conversations in the Luxembourg, he gave her explanations of
everything, drawing on what he had read, and also on what he had
suffered. As she listened to him, Cosette's eyes wandered vaguely about.

This simple man sufficed for Cosette's thought, the same as the wild
garden sufficed for her eyes. When she had had a good chase after the
butterflies, she came panting up to him and said: "Ah! How I have run!"
He kissed her brow.

Cosette adored the goodman. She was always at his heels. Where Jean
Valjean was, there happiness was. Jean Valjean lived neither in the
pavilion nor the garden; she took greater pleasure in the paved back
courtyard, than in the enclosure filled with flowers, and in his little
lodge furnished with straw-seated chairs than in the great drawing-room
hung with tapestry, against which stood tufted easy-chairs. Jean Valjean
sometimes said to her, smiling at his happiness in being importuned: "Do
go to your own quarters! Leave me alone a little!"

She gave him those charming and tender scoldings which are so graceful
when they come from a daughter to her father.

"Father, I am very cold in your rooms; why don't you have a carpet here
and a stove?"

"Dear child, there are so many people who are better than I and who have
not even a roof over their heads."

"Then why is there a fire in my rooms, and everything that is needed?"

"Because you are a woman and a child."

"Bah! must men be cold and feel uncomfortable?"

"Certain men."

"That is good, I shall come here so often that you will be obliged to
have a fire."

And again she said to him:--

"Father, why do you eat horrible bread like that?"

"Because, my daughter."

"Well, if you eat it, I will eat it too."

Then, in order to prevent Cosette eating black bread, Jean Valjean ate
white bread.

Cosette had but a confused recollection of her childhood. She prayed
morning and evening for her mother whom she had never known. The
Thenardiers had remained with her as two hideous figures in a dream. She
remembered that she had gone "one day, at night," to fetch water in a
forest. She thought that it had been very far from Paris. It seemed to
her that she had begun to live in an abyss, and that it was Jean Valjean
who had rescued her from it. Her childhood produced upon her the effect
of a time when there had been nothing around her but millepeds, spiders,
and serpents. When she meditated in the evening, before falling asleep,
as she had not a very clear idea that she was Jean Valjean's daughter,
and that he was her father, she fancied that the soul of her mother had
passed into that good man and had come to dwell near her.

When he was seated, she leaned her cheek against his white hair, and
dropped a silent tear, saying to herself: "Perhaps this man is my

Cosette, although this is a strange statement to make, in the profound
ignorance of a girl brought up in a convent,--maternity being also
absolutely unintelligible to virginity,--had ended by fancying that she
had had as little mother as possible. She did not even know her mother's
name. Whenever she asked Jean Valjean, Jean Valjean remained silent. If
she repeated her question, he responded with a smile. Once she insisted;
the smile ended in a tear.

This silence on the part of Jean Valjean covered Fantine with darkness.

Was it prudence? Was it respect? Was it a fear that he should deliver
this name to the hazards of another memory than his own?

So long as Cosette had been small, Jean Valjean had been willing to talk
to her of her mother; when she became a young girl, it was impossible
for him to do so. It seemed to him that he no longer dared. Was it
because of Cosette? Was it because of Fantine? He felt a certain
religious horror at letting that shadow enter Cosette's thought; and of
placing a third in their destiny. The more sacred this shade was to him,
the more did it seem that it was to be feared. He thought of Fantine,
and felt himself overwhelmed with silence.

Through the darkness, he vaguely perceived something which appeared
to have its finger on its lips. Had all the modesty which had been
in Fantine, and which had violently quitted her during her lifetime,
returned to rest upon her after her death, to watch in indignation over
the peace of that dead woman, and in its shyness, to keep her in her
grave? Was Jean Valjean unconsciously submitting to the pressure? We
who believe in death, are not among the number who will reject this
mysterious explanation.

Hence the impossibility of uttering, even for Cosette, that name of

One day Cosette said to him:--

"Father, I saw my mother in a dream last night. She had two big wings.
My mother must have been almost a saint during her life."

"Through martyrdom," replied Jean Valjean.

However, Jean Valjean was happy.

When Cosette went out with him, she leaned on his arm, proud and happy,
in the plenitude of her heart. Jean Valjean felt his heart melt within
him with delight, at all these sparks of a tenderness so exclusive, so
wholly satisfied with himself alone. The poor man trembled, inundated
with angelic joy; he declared to himself ecstatically that this would
last all their lives; he told himself that he really had not suffered
sufficiently to merit so radiant a bliss, and he thanked God, in the
depths of his soul, for having permitted him to be loved thus, he, a
wretch, by that innocent being.


One day, Cosette chanced to look at herself in her mirror, and she said
to herself: "Really!" It seemed to her almost that she was pretty. This
threw her in a singularly troubled state of mind. Up to that moment she
had never thought of her face. She saw herself in her mirror, but she
did not look at herself. And then, she had so often been told that she
was homely; Jean Valjean alone said gently: "No indeed! no indeed!" At
all events, Cosette had always thought herself homely, and had grown up
in that belief with the easy resignation of childhood. And here, all
at once, was her mirror saying to her, as Jean Valjean had said: "No
indeed!" That night, she did not sleep. "What if I were pretty!" she
thought. "How odd it would be if I were pretty!" And she recalled those
of her companions whose beauty had produced a sensation in the convent,
and she said to herself: "What! Am I to be like Mademoiselle So-and-So?"

The next morning she looked at herself again, not by accident this time,
and she was assailed with doubts: "Where did I get such an idea?" said
she; "no, I am ugly." She had not slept well, that was all, her eyes
were sunken and she was pale. She had not felt very joyous on the
preceding evening in the belief that she was beautiful, but it made her
very sad not to be able to believe in it any longer. She did not look at
herself again, and for more than a fortnight she tried to dress her hair
with her back turned to the mirror.

In the evening, after dinner, she generally embroidered in wool or
did some convent needlework in the drawing-room, and Jean Valjean read
beside her. Once she raised her eyes from her work, and was rendered
quite uneasy by the manner in which her father was gazing at her.

On another occasion, she was passing along the street, and it seemed
to her that some one behind her, whom she did not see, said: "A pretty
woman! but badly dressed." "Bah!" she thought, "he does not mean me.
I am well dressed and ugly." She was then wearing a plush hat and her
merino gown.

At last, one day when she was in the garden, she heard poor old
Toussaint saying: "Do you notice how pretty Cosette is growing, sir?"
Cosette did not hear her father's reply, but Toussaint's words caused
a sort of commotion within her. She fled from the garden, ran up to
her room, flew to the looking-glass,--it was three months since she
had looked at herself,--and gave vent to a cry. She had just dazzled

She was beautiful and lovely; she could not help agreeing with Toussaint
and her mirror. Her figure was formed, her skin had grown white, her
hair was lustrous, an unaccustomed splendor had been lighted in her blue
eyes. The consciousness of her beauty burst upon her in an instant, like
the sudden advent of daylight; other people noticed it also, Toussaint
had said so, it was evidently she of whom the passer-by had spoken,
there could no longer be any doubt of that; she descended to the garden
again, thinking herself a queen, imagining that she heard the birds
singing, though it was winter, seeing the sky gilded, the sun among
the trees, flowers in the thickets, distracted, wild, in inexpressible

Jean Valjean, on his side, experienced a deep and undefinable oppression
at heart.

In fact, he had, for some time past, been contemplating with terror that
beauty which seemed to grow more radiant every day on Cosette's sweet
face. The dawn that was smiling for all was gloomy for him.

Cosette had been beautiful for a tolerably long time before she became
aware of it herself. But, from the very first day, that unexpected light
which was rising slowly and enveloping the whole of the young girl's
person, wounded Jean Valjean's sombre eye. He felt that it was a change
in a happy life, a life so happy that he did not dare to move for fear
of disarranging something. This man, who had passed through all manner
of distresses, who was still all bleeding from the bruises of fate, who
had been almost wicked and who had become almost a saint, who, after
having dragged the chain of the galleys, was now dragging the invisible
but heavy chain of indefinite misery, this man whom the law had not
released from its grasp and who could be seized at any moment and
brought back from the obscurity of his virtue to the broad daylight of
public opprobrium, this man accepted all, excused all, pardoned all, and
merely asked of Providence, of man, of the law, of society, of nature,
of the world, one thing, that Cosette might love him!

That Cosette might continue to love him! That God would not prevent
the heart of the child from coming to him, and from remaining with him!
Beloved by Cosette, he felt that he was healed, rested, appeased, loaded
with benefits, recompensed, crowned. Beloved by Cosette, it was well
with him! He asked nothing more! Had any one said to him: "Do you want
anything better?" he would have answered: "No." God might have said to
him: "Do you desire heaven?" and he would have replied: "I should lose
by it."

Everything which could affect this situation, if only on the surface,
made him shudder like the beginning of something new. He had never
known very distinctly himself what the beauty of a woman means; but he
understood instinctively, that it was something terrible.

He gazed with terror on this beauty, which was blossoming out ever more
triumphant and superb beside him, beneath his very eyes, on the innocent
and formidable brow of that child, from the depths of her homeliness, of
his old age, of his misery, of his reprobation.

He said to himself: "How beautiful she is! What is to become of me?"

There, moreover, lay the difference between his tenderness and the
tenderness of a mother. What he beheld with anguish, a mother would have
gazed upon with joy.

The first symptoms were not long in making their appearance.

On the very morrow of the day on which she had said to herself:
"Decidedly I am beautiful!" Cosette began to pay attention to her
toilet. She recalled the remark of that passer-by: "Pretty, but badly
dressed," the breath of an oracle which had passed beside her and had
vanished, after depositing in her heart one of the two germs which are
destined, later on, to fill the whole life of woman, coquetry. Love is
the other.

With faith in her beauty, the whole feminine soul expanded within her.
She conceived a horror for her merinos, and shame for her plush hat. Her
father had never refused her anything. She at once acquired the whole
science of the bonnet, the gown, the mantle, the boot, the cuff, the
stuff which is in fashion, the color which is becoming, that science
which makes of the Parisian woman something so charming, so deep, and so
dangerous. The words heady woman were invented for the Parisienne.

In less than a month, little Cosette, in that Thebaid of the Rue de
Babylone, was not only one of the prettiest, but one of the "best
dressed" women in Paris, which means a great deal more.

She would have liked to encounter her "passer-by," to see what he would
say, and to "teach him a lesson!" The truth is, that she was ravishing
in every respect, and that she distinguished the difference between a
bonnet from Gerard and one from Herbaut in the most marvellous way.

Jean Valjean watched these ravages with anxiety. He who felt that
he could never do anything but crawl, walk at the most, beheld wings
sprouting on Cosette.

Moreover, from the mere inspection of Cosette's toilet, a woman
would have recognized the fact that she had no mother. Certain little
proprieties, certain special conventionalities, were not observed by
Cosette. A mother, for instance, would have told her that a young girl
does not dress in damask.

The first day that Cosette went out in her black damask gown and mantle,
and her white crape bonnet, she took Jean Valjean's arm, gay, radiant,
rosy, proud, dazzling. "Father," she said, "how do you like me in this
guise?" Jean Valjean replied in a voice which resembled the bitter voice
of an envious man: "Charming!" He was the same as usual during their
walk. On their return home, he asked Cosette:--

"Won't you put on that other gown and bonnet again,--you know the ones I

This took place in Cosette's chamber. Cosette turned towards the
wardrobe where her cast-off schoolgirl's clothes were hanging.

"That disguise!" said she. "Father, what do you want me to do with it?
Oh no, the idea! I shall never put on those horrors again. With that
machine on my head, I have the air of Madame Mad-dog."

Jean Valjean heaved a deep sigh.

From that moment forth, he noticed that Cosette, who had always
heretofore asked to remain at home, saying: "Father, I enjoy myself more
here with you," now was always asking to go out. In fact, what is the
use of having a handsome face and a delicious costume if one does not
display them?

He also noticed that Cosette had no longer the same taste for the back
garden. Now she preferred the garden, and did not dislike to promenade
back and forth in front of the railed fence. Jean Valjean, who was shy,
never set foot in the garden. He kept to his back yard, like a dog.

Cosette, in gaining the knowledge that she was beautiful, lost the grace
of ignoring it. An exquisite grace, for beauty enhanced by ingenuousness
is ineffable, and nothing is so adorable as a dazzling and innocent
creature who walks along, holding in her hand the key to paradise
without being conscious of it. But what she had lost in ingenuous grace,
she gained in pensive and serious charm. Her whole person, permeated
with the joy of youth, of innocence, and of beauty, breathed forth a
splendid melancholy.

It was at this epoch that Marius, after the lapse of six months, saw her
once more at the Luxembourg.


Cosette in her shadow, like Marius in his, was all ready to take fire.
Destiny, with its mysterious and fatal patience, slowly drew together
these two beings, all charged and all languishing with the stormy
electricity of passion, these two souls which were laden with love as
two clouds are laden with lightning, and which were bound to overflow
and mingle in a look like the clouds in a flash of fire.

The glance has been so much abused in love romances that it has finally
fallen into disrepute. One hardly dares to say, nowadays, that two
beings fell in love because they looked at each other. That is the way
people do fall in love, nevertheless, and the only way. The rest is
nothing, but the rest comes afterwards. Nothing is more real than these
great shocks which two souls convey to each other by the exchange of
that spark.

At that particular hour when Cosette unconsciously darted that glance
which troubled Marius, Marius had no suspicion that he had also launched
a look which disturbed Cosette.

He caused her the same good and the same evil.

She had been in the habit of seeing him for a long time, and she had
scrutinized him as girls scrutinize and see, while looking elsewhere.
Marius still considered Cosette ugly, when she had already begun to
think Marius handsome. But as he paid no attention to her, the young man
was nothing to her.

Still, she could not refrain from saying to herself that he had
beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, handsome teeth, a charming tone of voice
when she heard him conversing with his comrades, that he held himself
badly when he walked, if you like, but with a grace that was all his
own, that he did not appear to be at all stupid, that his whole person
was noble, gentle, simple, proud, and that, in short, though he seemed
to be poor, yet his air was fine.

On the day when their eyes met at last, and said to each other those
first, obscure, and ineffable things which the glance lisps, Cosette did
not immediately understand. She returned thoughtfully to the house in
the Rue de l'Ouest, where Jean Valjean, according to his custom, had
come to spend six weeks. The next morning, on waking, she thought of
that strange young man, so long indifferent and icy, who now seemed to
pay attention to her, and it did not appear to her that this attention
was the least in the world agreeable to her. She was, on the contrary,
somewhat incensed at this handsome and disdainful individual. A
substratum of war stirred within her. It struck her, and the idea caused
her a wholly childish joy, that she was going to take her revenge at

Knowing that she was beautiful, she was thoroughly conscious, though
in an indistinct fashion, that she possessed a weapon. Women play with
their beauty as children do with a knife. They wound themselves.

The reader will recall Marius' hesitations, his palpitations, his
terrors. He remained on his bench and did not approach. This vexed
Cosette. One day, she said to Jean Valjean: "Father, let us stroll about
a little in that direction." Seeing that Marius did not come to her,
she went to him. In such cases, all women resemble Mahomet. And then,
strange to say, the first symptom of true love in a young man is
timidity; in a young girl it is boldness. This is surprising, and yet
nothing is more simple. It is the two sexes tending to approach each
other and assuming, each the other's qualities.

That day, Cosette's glance drove Marius beside himself, and Marius'
glance set Cosette to trembling. Marius went away confident, and Cosette
uneasy. From that day forth, they adored each other.

The first thing that Cosette felt was a confused and profound
melancholy. It seemed to her that her soul had become black since the
day before. She no longer recognized it. The whiteness of soul in young
girls, which is composed of coldness and gayety, resembles snow. It
melts in love, which is its sun.

Cosette did not know what love was. She had never heard the word uttered
in its terrestrial sense. On the books of profane music which entered
the convent, amour (love) was replaced by tambour (drum) or pandour.
This created enigmas which exercised the imaginations of the big girls,
such as: Ah, how delightful is the drum! or, Pity is not a pandour. But
Cosette had left the convent too early to have occupied herself much
with the "drum." Therefore, she did not know what name to give to what
she now felt. Is any one the less ill because one does not know the name
of one's malady?

She loved with all the more passion because she loved ignorantly. She
did not know whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, useful or
dangerous, eternal or temporary, allowable or prohibited; she loved. She
would have been greatly astonished, had any one said to her: "You do not
sleep? But that is forbidden! You do not eat? Why, that is very bad! You
have oppressions and palpitations of the heart? That must not be! You
blush and turn pale, when a certain being clad in black appears at the
end of a certain green walk? But that is abominable!" She would not have
understood, and she would have replied: "What fault is there of mine in
a matter in which I have no power and of which I know nothing?"

It turned out that the love which presented itself was exactly suited to
the state of her soul. It was a sort of admiration at a distance, a mute
contemplation, the deification of a stranger. It was the apparition of
youth to youth, the dream of nights become a reality yet remaining
a dream, the longed-for phantom realized and made flesh at last, but
having as yet, neither name, nor fault, nor spot, nor exigence, nor
defect; in a word, the distant lover who lingered in the ideal, a
chimaera with a form. Any nearer and more palpable meeting would have
alarmed Cosette at this first stage, when she was still half immersed in
the exaggerated mists of the cloister. She had all the fears of children
and all the fears of nuns combined. The spirit of the convent, with
which she had been permeated for the space of five years, was still in
the process of slow evaporation from her person, and made everything
tremble around her. In this situation he was not a lover, he was not
even an admirer, he was a vision. She set herself to adoring Marius as
something charming, luminous, and impossible.

As extreme innocence borders on extreme coquetry, she smiled at him with
all frankness.

Every day, she looked forward to the hour for their walk with
impatience, she found Marius there, she felt herself unspeakably happy,
and thought in all sincerity that she was expressing her whole thought
when she said to Jean Valjean:--

"What a delicious garden that Luxembourg is!"

Marius and Cosette were in the dark as to one another. They did not
address each other, they did not salute each other, they did not know
each other; they saw each other; and like stars of heaven which are
separated by millions of leagues, they lived by gazing at each other.

It was thus that Cosette gradually became a woman and developed,
beautiful and loving, with a consciousness of her beauty, and in
ignorance of her love. She was a coquette to boot through her ignorance.


All situations have their instincts. Old and eternal Mother Nature
warned Jean Valjean in a dim way of the presence of Marius. Jean Valjean
shuddered to the very bottom of his soul. Jean Valjean saw nothing, knew
nothing, and yet he scanned with obstinate attention, the darkness
in which he walked, as though he felt on one side of him something in
process of construction, and on the other, something which was crumbling
away. Marius, also warned, and, in accordance with the deep law of God,
by that same Mother Nature, did all he could to keep out of sight of
"the father." Nevertheless, it came to pass that Jean Valjean sometimes
espied him. Marius' manners were no longer in the least natural. He
exhibited ambiguous prudence and awkward daring. He no longer came quite
close to them as formerly. He seated himself at a distance and pretended
to be reading; why did he pretend that? Formerly he had come in his old
coat, now he wore his new one every day; Jean Valjean was not sure
that he did not have his hair curled, his eyes were very queer, he wore
gloves; in short, Jean Valjean cordially detested this young man.

Cosette allowed nothing to be divined. Without knowing just what was the
matter with her she was convinced that there was something in it, and
that it must be concealed.

There was a coincidence between the taste for the toilet which had
recently come to Cosette, and the habit of new clothes developed by
that stranger which was very repugnant to Jean Valjean. It might be
accidental, no doubt, certainly, but it was a menacing accident.

He never opened his mouth to Cosette about this stranger. One day,
however, he could not refrain from so doing, and, with that vague
despair which suddenly casts the lead into the depths of its despair, he
said to her: "What a very pedantic air that young man has!"

Cosette, but a year before only an indifferent little girl, would have
replied: "Why, no, he is charming." Ten years later, with the love
of Marius in her heart, she would have answered: "A pedant, and
insufferable to the sight! You are right!"--At the moment in life
and the heart which she had then attained, she contented herself with
replying, with supreme calmness: "That young man!"

As though she now beheld him for the first time in her life.

"How stupid I am!" thought Jean Valjean. "She had not noticed him. It is
I who have pointed him out to her."

Oh, simplicity of the old! oh, the depth of children!

It is one of the laws of those fresh years of suffering and trouble, of
those vivacious conflicts between a first love and the first obstacles,
that the young girl does not allow herself to be caught in any trap
whatever, and that the young man falls into every one. Jean Valjean
had instituted an undeclared war against Marius, which Marius, with
the sublime stupidity of his passion and his age, did not divine. Jean
Valjean laid a host of ambushes for him; he changed his hour, he changed
his bench, he forgot his handkerchief, he came alone to the Luxembourg;
Marius dashed headlong into all these snares; and to all the
interrogation marks planted by Jean Valjean in his pathway, he
ingenuously answered "yes." But Cosette remained immured in her apparent
unconcern and in her imperturbable tranquillity, so that Jean Valjean
arrived at the following conclusion: "That ninny is madly in love with
Cosette, but Cosette does not even know that he exists."

None the less did he bear in his heart a mournful tremor. The minute
when Cosette would love might strike at any moment. Does not everything
begin with indifference?

Only once did Cosette make a mistake and alarm him. He rose from his
seat to depart, after a stay of three hours, and she said: "What,

Jean Valjean had not discontinued his trips to the Luxembourg, as he
did not wish to do anything out of the way, and as, above all things,
he feared to arouse Cosette; but during the hours which were so sweet
to the lovers, while Cosette was sending her smile to the intoxicated
Marius, who perceived nothing else now, and who now saw nothing in all
the world but an adored and radiant face, Jean Valjean was fixing on
Marius flashing and terrible eyes. He, who had finally come to believe
himself incapable of a malevolent feeling, experienced moments when
Marius was present, in which he thought he was becoming savage and
ferocious once more, and he felt the old depths of his soul, which
had formerly contained so much wrath, opening once more and rising up
against that young man. It almost seemed to him that unknown craters
were forming in his bosom.

What! he was there, that creature! What was he there for? He came
creeping about, smelling out, examining, trying! He came, saying: "Hey!
Why not?" He came to prowl about his, Jean Valjean's, life! to prowl
about his happiness, with the purpose of seizing it and bearing it away!

Jean Valjean added: "Yes, that's it! What is he in search of? An
adventure! What does he want? A love affair! A love affair! And I? What!
I have been first, the most wretched of men, and then the most unhappy,
and I have traversed sixty years of life on my knees, I have suffered
everything that man can suffer, I have grown old without having been
young, I have lived without a family, without relatives, without
friends, without life, without children, I have left my blood on every
stone, on every bramble, on every mile-post, along every wall, I have
been gentle, though others have been hard to me, and kind, although
others have been malicious, I have become an honest man once more, in
spite of everything, I have repented of the evil that I have done and
have forgiven the evil that has been done to me, and at the moment
when I receive my recompense, at the moment when it is all over, at the
moment when I am just touching the goal, at the moment when I have what
I desire, it is well, it is good, I have paid, I have earned it, all
this is to take flight, all this will vanish, and I shall lose Cosette,
and I shall lose my life, my joy, my soul, because it has pleased a
great booby to come and lounge at the Luxembourg."

Then his eyes were filled with a sad and extraordinary gleam.

It was no longer a man gazing at a man; it was no longer an enemy
surveying an enemy. It was a dog scanning a thief.

The reader knows the rest. Marius pursued his senseless course. One day
he followed Cosette to the Rue de l'Ouest. Another day he spoke to
the porter. The porter, on his side, spoke, and said to Jean Valjean:
"Monsieur, who is that curious young man who is asking for you?" On the
morrow Jean Valjean bestowed on Marius that glance which Marius at last
perceived. A week later, Jean Valjean had taken his departure. He swore
to himself that he would never again set foot either in the Luxembourg
or in the Rue de l'Ouest. He returned to the Rue Plumet.

Cosette did not complain, she said nothing, she asked no questions, she
did not seek to learn his reasons; she had already reached the point
where she was afraid of being divined, and of betraying herself. Jean
Valjean had no experience of these miseries, the only miseries which
are charming and the only ones with which he was not acquainted; the
consequence was that he did not understand the grave significance of
Cosette's silence.

He merely noticed that she had grown sad, and he grew gloomy. On his
side and on hers, inexperience had joined issue.

Once he made a trial. He asked Cosette:--

"Would you like to come to the Luxembourg?"

A ray illuminated Cosette's pale face.

"Yes," said she.

They went thither. Three months had elapsed. Marius no longer went
there. Marius was not there.

On the following day, Jean Valjean asked Cosette again:--

"Would you like to come to the Luxembourg?"

She replied, sadly and gently:--


Jean Valjean was hurt by this sadness, and heart-broken at this

What was going on in that mind which was so young and yet already so
impenetrable? What was on its way there within? What was taking place
in Cosette's soul? Sometimes, instead of going to bed, Jean Valjean
remained seated on his pallet, with his head in his hands, and he passed
whole nights asking himself: "What has Cosette in her mind?" and in
thinking of the things that she might be thinking about.

Oh! at such moments, what mournful glances did he cast towards that
cloister, that chaste peak, that abode of angels, that inaccessible
glacier of virtue! How he contemplated, with despairing ecstasy, that
convent garden, full of ignored flowers and cloistered virgins, where
all perfumes and all souls mount straight to heaven! How he adored that
Eden forever closed against him, whence he had voluntarily and madly
emerged! How he regretted his abnegation and his folly in having brought
Cosette back into the world, poor hero of sacrifice, seized and hurled
to the earth by his very self-devotion! How he said to himself, "What
have I done?"

However, nothing of all this was perceptible to Cosette. No ill-temper,
no harshness. His face was always serene and kind. Jean Valjean's
manners were more tender and more paternal than ever. If anything could
have betrayed his lack of joy, it was his increased suavity.

On her side, Cosette languished. She suffered from the absence of Marius
as she had rejoiced in his presence, peculiarly, without exactly being
conscious of it. When Jean Valjean ceased to take her on their customary
strolls, a feminine instinct murmured confusedly, at the bottom of her
heart, that she must not seem to set store on the Luxembourg garden, and
that if this proved to be a matter of indifference to her, her father
would take her thither once more. But days, weeks, months, elapsed. Jean
Valjean had tacitly accepted Cosette's tacit consent. She regretted it.
It was too late. So Marius had disappeared; all was over. The day on
which she returned to the Luxembourg, Marius was no longer there. What
was to be done? Should she ever find him again? She felt an anguish at
her heart, which nothing relieved, and which augmented every day; she no
longer knew whether it was winter or summer, whether it was raining or
shining, whether the birds were singing, whether it was the season for
dahlias or daisies, whether the Luxembourg was more charming than
the Tuileries, whether the linen which the laundress brought home
was starched too much or not enough, whether Toussaint had done "her
marketing" well or ill; and she remained dejected, absorbed, attentive
to but a single thought, her eyes vague and staring as when one gazes by
night at a black and fathomless spot where an apparition has vanished.

However, she did not allow Jean Valjean to perceive anything of this,
except her pallor.

She still wore her sweet face for him.

This pallor sufficed but too thoroughly to trouble Jean Valjean.
Sometimes he asked her:--

"What is the matter with you?"

She replied: "There is nothing the matter with me."

And after a silence, when she divined that he was sad also, she would

"And you, father--is there anything wrong with you?"

"With me? Nothing," said he.

These two beings who had loved each other so exclusively, and with so
touching an affection, and who had lived so long for each other
now suffered side by side, each on the other's account; without
acknowledging it to each other, without anger towards each other, and
with a smile.


Jean Valjean was the more unhappy of the two. Youth, even in its
sorrows, always possesses its own peculiar radiance.

At times, Jean Valjean suffered so greatly that he became puerile. It is
the property of grief to cause the childish side of man to reappear. He
had an unconquerable conviction that Cosette was escaping from him. He
would have liked to resist, to retain her, to arouse her enthusiasm by
some external and brilliant matter. These ideas, puerile, as we have
just said, and at the same time senile, conveyed to him, by their very
childishness, a tolerably just notion of the influence of gold lace on
the imaginations of young girls. He once chanced to see a general on
horseback, in full uniform, pass along the street, Comte Coutard, the
commandant of Paris. He envied that gilded man; what happiness it
would be, he said to himself, if he could put on that suit which was an
incontestable thing; and if Cosette could behold him thus, she would be
dazzled, and when he had Cosette on his arm and passed the gates of the
Tuileries, the guard would present arms to him, and that would suffice
for Cosette, and would dispel her idea of looking at young men.

An unforeseen shock was added to these sad reflections.

In the isolated life which they led, and since they had come to dwell
in the Rue Plumet, they had contracted one habit. They sometimes took
a pleasure trip to see the sun rise, a mild species of enjoyment which
befits those who are entering life and those who are quitting it.

For those who love solitude, a walk in the early morning is equivalent
to a stroll by night, with the cheerfulness of nature added. The streets
are deserted and the birds are singing. Cosette, a bird herself, liked
to rise early. These matutinal excursions were planned on the preceding
evening. He proposed, and she agreed. It was arranged like a plot, they
set out before daybreak, and these trips were so many small delights for
Cosette. These innocent eccentricities please young people.

Jean Valjean's inclination led him, as we have seen, to the least
frequented spots, to solitary nooks, to forgotten places. There then
existed, in the vicinity of the barriers of Paris, a sort of poor
meadows, which were almost confounded with the city, where grew in
summer sickly grain, and which, in autumn, after the harvest had been
gathered, presented the appearance, not of having been reaped, but
peeled. Jean Valjean loved to haunt these fields. Cosette was not bored
there. It meant solitude to him and liberty to her. There, she became a
little girl once more, she could run and almost play; she took off her
hat, laid it on Jean Valjean's knees, and gathered bunches of flowers.
She gazed at the butterflies on the flowers, but did not catch them;
gentleness and tenderness are born with love, and the young girl who
cherishes within her breast a trembling and fragile ideal has mercy on
the wing of a butterfly. She wove garlands of poppies, which she placed
on her head, and which, crossed and penetrated with sunlight, glowing
until they flamed, formed for her rosy face a crown of burning embers.

Even after their life had grown sad, they kept up their custom of early

One morning in October, therefore, tempted by the serene perfection of
the autumn of 1831, they set out, and found themselves at break of
day near the Barriere du Maine. It was not dawn, it was daybreak; a
delightful and stern moment. A few constellations here and there in the
deep, pale azure, the earth all black, the heavens all white, a quiver
amid the blades of grass, everywhere the mysterious chill of twilight. A
lark, which seemed mingled with the stars, was carolling at a prodigious
height, and one would have declared that that hymn of pettiness calmed
immensity. In the East, the Valde-Grace projected its dark mass on the
clear horizon with the sharpness of steel; Venus dazzlingly brilliant
was rising behind that dome and had the air of a soul making its escape
from a gloomy edifice.

All was peace and silence; there was no one on the road; a few stray
laborers, of whom they caught barely a glimpse, were on their way to
their work along the side-paths.

Jean Valjean was sitting in a cross-walk on some planks deposited at the
gate of a timber-yard. His face was turned towards the highway, his back
towards the light; he had forgotten the sun which was on the point of
rising; he had sunk into one of those profound absorptions in which the
mind becomes concentrated, which imprison even the eye, and which are
equivalent to four walls. There are meditations which may be called
vertical; when one is at the bottom of them, time is required to return
to earth. Jean Valjean had plunged into one of these reveries. He was
thinking of Cosette, of the happiness that was possible if nothing came
between him and her, of the light with which she filled his life, a
light which was but the emanation of her soul. He was almost happy in
his revery. Cosette, who was standing beside him, was gazing at the
clouds as they turned rosy.

All at once Cosette exclaimed: "Father, I should think some one was
coming yonder." Jean Valjean raised his eyes.

Cosette was right. The causeway which leads to the ancient Barriere du
Maine is a prolongation, as the reader knows, of the Rue de Sevres,
and is cut at right angles by the inner boulevard. At the elbow of the
causeway and the boulevard, at the spot where it branches, they heard a
noise which it was difficult to account for at that hour, and a sort of
confused pile made its appearance. Some shapeless thing which was coming
from the boulevard was turning into the road.

It grew larger, it seemed to move in an orderly manner, though it was
bristling and quivering; it seemed to be a vehicle, but its load could
not be distinctly made out. There were horses, wheels, shouts; whips
were cracking. By degrees the outlines became fixed, although bathed
in shadows. It was a vehicle, in fact, which had just turned from the
boulevard into the highway, and which was directing its course towards
the barrier near which sat Jean Valjean; a second, of the same aspect,
followed, then a third, then a fourth; seven chariots made their
appearance in succession, the heads of the horses touching the rear of
the wagon in front. Figures were moving on these vehicles, flashes were
visible through the dusk as though there were naked swords there, a
clanking became audible which resembled the rattling of chains, and as
this something advanced, the sound of voices waxed louder, and it turned
into a terrible thing such as emerges from the cave of dreams.

As it drew nearer, it assumed a form, and was outlined behind the trees
with the pallid hue of an apparition; the mass grew white; the day,
which was slowly dawning, cast a wan light on this swarming heap which
was at once both sepulchral and living, the heads of the figures turned
into the faces of corpses, and this is what it proved to be:--

Seven wagons were driving in a file along the road. The first six were
singularly constructed. They resembled coopers' drays; they consisted
of long ladders placed on two wheels and forming barrows at their rear
extremities. Each dray, or rather let us say, each ladder, was attached
to four horses harnessed tandem. On these ladders strange clusters of
men were being drawn. In the faint light, these men were to be divined
rather than seen. Twenty-four on each vehicle, twelve on a side, back to
back, facing the passers-by, their legs dangling in the air,--this was
the manner in which these men were travelling, and behind their backs
they had something which clanked, and which was a chain, and on their
necks something which shone, and which was an iron collar. Each man had
his collar, but the chain was for all; so that if these four and twenty
men had occasion to alight from the dray and walk, they were seized with
a sort of inexorable unity, and were obliged to wind over the ground
with the chain for a backbone, somewhat after the fashion of millepeds.
In the back and front of each vehicle, two men armed with muskets
stood erect, each holding one end of the chain under his foot. The iron
necklets were square. The seventh vehicle, a huge rack-sided baggage
wagon, without a hood, had four wheels and six horses, and carried a
sonorous pile of iron boilers, cast-iron pots, braziers, and chains,
among which were mingled several men who were pinioned and stretched at
full length, and who seemed to be ill. This wagon, all lattice-work,
was garnished with dilapidated hurdles which appeared to have served for
former punishments. These vehicles kept to the middle of the road. On
each side marched a double hedge of guards of infamous aspect, wearing
three-cornered hats, like the soldiers under the Directory, shabby,
covered with spots and holes, muffled in uniforms of veterans and the
trousers of undertakers' men, half gray, half blue, which were almost
hanging in rags, with red epaulets, yellow shoulder belts, short sabres,
muskets, and cudgels; they were a species of soldier-blackguards.
These myrmidons seemed composed of the abjectness of the beggar and the
authority of the executioner. The one who appeared to be their chief
held a postilion's whip in his hand. All these details, blurred by the
dimness of dawn, became more and more clearly outlined as the light
increased. At the head and in the rear of the convoy rode mounted
gendarmes, serious and with sword in fist.

This procession was so long that when the first vehicle reached the
barrier, the last was barely debauching from the boulevard. A throng,
sprung, it is impossible to say whence, and formed in a twinkling, as
is frequently the case in Paris, pressed forward from both sides of
the road and looked on. In the neighboring lanes the shouts of people
calling to each other and the wooden shoes of market-gardeners hastening
up to gaze were audible.

The men massed upon the drays allowed themselves to be jolted along in
silence. They were livid with the chill of morning. They all wore linen
trousers, and their bare feet were thrust into wooden shoes. The rest
of their costume was a fantasy of wretchedness. Their accoutrements were
horribly incongruous; nothing is more funereal than the harlequin in
rags. Battered felt hats, tarpaulin caps, hideous woollen nightcaps,
and, side by side with a short blouse, a black coat broken at the elbow;
many wore women's headgear, others had baskets on their heads; hairy
breasts were visible, and through the rent in their garments tattooed
designs could be descried; temples of Love, flaming hearts, Cupids;
eruptions and unhealthy red blotches could also be seen. Two or three
had a straw rope attached to the cross-bar of the dray, and suspended
under them like a stirrup, which supported their feet. One of them held
in his hand and raised to his mouth something which had the appearance
of a black stone and which he seemed to be gnawing; it was bread which
he was eating. There were no eyes there which were not either dry,
dulled, or flaming with an evil light. The escort troop cursed, the men
in chains did not utter a syllable; from time to time the sound of
a blow became audible as the cudgels descended on shoulder-blades or
skulls; some of these men were yawning; their rags were terrible;
their feet hung down, their shoulders oscillated, their heads clashed
together, their fetters clanked, their eyes glared ferociously, their
fists clenched or fell open inertly like the hands of corpses; in the
rear of the convoy ran a band of children screaming with laughter.

This file of vehicles, whatever its nature was, was mournful. It
was evident that to-morrow, that an hour hence, a pouring rain might
descend, that it might be followed by another and another, and that
their dilapidated garments would be drenched, that once soaked, these
men would not get dry again, that once chilled, they would not again
get warm, that their linen trousers would be glued to their bones by the
downpour, that the water would fill their shoes, that no lashes from
the whips would be able to prevent their jaws from chattering, that the
chain would continue to bind them by the neck, that their legs would
continue to dangle, and it was impossible not to shudder at the sight
of these human beings thus bound and passive beneath the cold clouds of
autumn, and delivered over to the rain, to the blast, to all the furies
of the air, like trees and stones.

Blows from the cudgel were not omitted even in the case of the sick men,
who lay there knotted with ropes and motionless on the seventh wagon,
and who appeared to have been tossed there like sacks filled with

Suddenly, the sun made its appearance; the immense light of the Orient
burst forth, and one would have said that it had set fire to all those
ferocious heads. Their tongues were unloosed; a conflagration of grins,
oaths, and songs exploded. The broad horizontal sheet of light severed
the file in two parts, illuminating heads and bodies, leaving feet and
wheels in the obscurity. Thoughts made their appearance on these faces;
it was a terrible moment; visible demons with their masks removed,
fierce souls laid bare. Though lighted up, this wild throng remained in
gloom. Some, who were gay, had in their mouths quills through which they
blew vermin over the crowd, picking out the women; the dawn accentuated
these lamentable profiles with the blackness of its shadows; there
was not one of these creatures who was not deformed by reason of
wretchedness; and the whole was so monstrous that one would have
said that the sun's brilliancy had been changed into the glare of the
lightning. The wagon-load which headed the line had struck up a song,
and were shouting at the top of their voices with a haggard joviality,
a potpourri by Desaugiers, then famous, called The Vestal; the trees
shivered mournfully; in the cross-lanes, countenances of bourgeois
listened in an idiotic delight to these coarse strains droned by

All sorts of distress met in this procession as in chaos; here were to
be found the facial angles of every sort of beast, old men, youths,
bald heads, gray beards, cynical monstrosities, sour resignation, savage
grins, senseless attitudes, snouts surmounted by caps, heads like those
of young girls with corkscrew curls on the temples, infantile visages,
and by reason of that, horrible thin skeleton faces, to which death
alone was lacking. On the first cart was a negro, who had been a slave,
in all probability, and who could make a comparison of his chains. The
frightful leveller from below, shame, had passed over these brows; at
that degree of abasement, the last transformations were suffered by all
in their extremest depths, and ignorance, converted into dulness, was
the equal of intelligence converted into despair. There was no choice
possible between these men who appeared to the eye as the flower of the
mud. It was evident that the person who had had the ordering of that
unclean procession had not classified them. These beings had been
fettered and coupled pell-mell, in alphabetical disorder, probably, and
loaded hap-hazard on those carts. Nevertheless, horrors, when grouped
together, always end by evolving a result; all additions of wretched men
give a sum total, each chain exhaled a common soul, and each dray-load
had its own physiognomy. By the side of the one where they were singing,
there was one where they were howling; a third where they were begging;
one could be seen in which they were gnashing their teeth; another load
menaced the spectators, another blasphemed God; the last was as silent
as the tomb. Dante would have thought that he beheld his seven circles
of hell on the march. The march of the damned to their tortures,
performed in sinister wise, not on the formidable and flaming chariot
of the Apocalypse, but, what was more mournful than that, on the gibbet

One of the guards, who had a hook on the end of his cudgel, made a
pretence from time to time, of stirring up this mass of human filth.
An old woman in the crowd pointed them out to her little boy five years
old, and said to him: "Rascal, let that be a warning to you!"

As the songs and blasphemies increased, the man who appeared to be the
captain of the escort cracked his whip, and at that signal a fearful
dull and blind flogging, which produced the sound of hail, fell upon the
seven dray-loads; many roared and foamed at the mouth; which redoubled
the delight of the street urchins who had hastened up, a swarm of flies
on these wounds.

Jean Valjean's eyes had assumed a frightful expression. They were no
longer eyes; they were those deep and glassy objects which replace the
glance in the case of certain wretched men, which seem unconscious
of reality, and in which flames the reflection of terrors and of
catastrophes. He was not looking at a spectacle, he was seeing a vision.
He tried to rise, to flee, to make his escape; he could not move his
feet. Sometimes, the things that you see seize upon you and hold you
fast. He remained nailed to the spot, petrified, stupid, asking himself,
athwart confused and inexpressible anguish, what this sepulchral
persecution signified, and whence had come that pandemonium which was
pursuing him. All at once, he raised his hand to his brow, a gesture
habitual to those whose memory suddenly returns; he remembered that this
was, in fact, the usual itinerary, that it was customary to make this
detour in order to avoid all possibility of encountering royalty on the
road to Fontainebleau, and that, five and thirty years before, he had
himself passed through that barrier.

Cosette was no less terrified, but in a different way. She did not
understand; what she beheld did not seem to her to be possible; at
length she cried:--

"Father! What are those men in those carts?"

Jean Valjean replied: "Convicts."

"Whither are they going?"

"To the galleys."

At that moment, the cudgelling, multiplied by a hundred hands, became
zealous, blows with the flat of the sword were mingled with it, it was a
perfect storm of whips and clubs; the convicts bent before it, a hideous
obedience was evoked by the torture, and all held their peace, darting
glances like chained wolves.

Cosette trembled in every limb; she resumed:--

"Father, are they still men?"

"Sometimes," answered the unhappy man.

It was the chain-gang, in fact, which had set out before daybreak from
Bicetre, and had taken the road to Mans in order to avoid Fontainebleau,
where the King then was. This caused the horrible journey to last three
or four days longer; but torture may surely be prolonged with the object
of sparing the royal personage a sight of it.

Jean Valjean returned home utterly overwhelmed. Such encounters are
shocks, and the memory that they leave behind them resembles a thorough
shaking up.

Nevertheless, Jean Valjean did not observe that, on his way back to
the Rue de Babylone with Cosette, the latter was plying him with other
questions on the subject of what they had just seen; perhaps he was
too much absorbed in his own dejection to notice her words and reply to
them. But when Cosette was leaving him in the evening, to betake herself
to bed, he heard her say in a low voice, and as though talking to
herself: "It seems to me, that if I were to find one of those men in my
pathway, oh, my God, I should die merely from the sight of him close at

Fortunately, chance ordained that on the morrow of that tragic day,
there was some official solemnity apropos of I know not what,--fetes in
Paris, a review in the Champ de Mars, jousts on the Seine, theatrical
performances in the Champs-Elysees, fireworks at the Arc de l'Etoile,
illuminations everywhere. Jean Valjean did violence to his habits, and
took Cosette to see these rejoicings, for the purpose of diverting her
from the memory of the day before, and of effacing, beneath the smiling
tumult of all Paris, the abominable thing which had passed before her.
The review with which the festival was spiced made the presence of
uniforms perfectly natural; Jean Valjean donned his uniform of a
national guard with the vague inward feeling of a man who is betaking
himself to shelter. However, this trip seemed to attain its object.
Cosette, who made it her law to please her father, and to whom,
moreover, all spectacles were a novelty, accepted this diversion
with the light and easy good grace of youth, and did not pout too
disdainfully at that flutter of enjoyment called a public fete; so that
Jean Valjean was able to believe that he had succeeded, and that no
trace of that hideous vision remained.

Some days later, one morning, when the sun was shining brightly, and
they were both on the steps leading to the garden, another infraction of
the rules which Jean Valjean seemed to have imposed upon himself, and
to the custom of remaining in her chamber which melancholy had caused
Cosette to adopt, Cosette, in a wrapper, was standing erect in that
negligent attire of early morning which envelops young girls in an
adorable way and which produces the effect of a cloud drawn over a star;
and, with her head bathed in light, rosy after a good sleep, submitting
to the gentle glances of the tender old man, she was picking a daisy
to pieces. Cosette did not know the delightful legend, I love a little,
passionately, etc.--who was there who could have taught her? She was
handling the flower instinctively, innocently, without a suspicion that
to pluck a daisy apart is to do the same by a heart. If there were a
fourth, and smiling Grace called Melancholy, she would have worn the air
of that Grace. Jean Valjean was fascinated by the contemplation of those
tiny fingers on that flower, and forgetful of everything in the radiance
emitted by that child. A red-breast was warbling in the thicket, on one
side. White cloudlets floated across the sky, so gayly, that one would
have said that they had just been set at liberty. Cosette went on
attentively tearing the leaves from her flower; she seemed to be
thinking about something; but whatever it was, it must be something
charming; all at once she turned her head over her shoulder with the
delicate languor of a swan, and said to Jean Valjean: "Father, what are
the galleys like?"



Thus their life clouded over by degrees.

But one diversion, which had formerly been a happiness, remained to
them, which was to carry bread to those who were hungry, and clothing
to those who were cold. Cosette often accompanied Jean Valjean on these
visits to the poor, on which they recovered some remnants of their
former free intercourse; and sometimes, when the day had been a good
one, and they had assisted many in distress, and cheered and warmed many
little children, Cosette was rather merry in the evening. It was at this
epoch that they paid their visit to the Jondrette den.

On the day following that visit, Jean Valjean made his appearance in the
pavilion in the morning, calm as was his wont, but with a large wound on
his left arm which was much inflamed, and very angry, which resembled a
burn, and which he explained in some way or other. This wound resulted
in his being detained in the house for a month with fever. He would not
call in a doctor. When Cosette urged him, "Call the dog-doctor," said

Cosette dressed the wound morning and evening with so divine an air and
such angelic happiness at being of use to him, that Jean Valjean felt
all his former joy returning, his fears and anxieties dissipating, and
he gazed at Cosette, saying: "Oh! what a kindly wound! Oh! what a good

Cosette on perceiving that her father was ill, had deserted the pavilion
and again taken a fancy to the little lodging and the back courtyard.
She passed nearly all her days beside Jean Valjean and read to him
the books which he desired. Generally they were books of travel. Jean
Valjean was undergoing a new birth; his happiness was reviving in these
ineffable rays; the Luxembourg, the prowling young stranger, Cosette's
coldness,--all these clouds upon his soul were growing dim. He had
reached the point where he said to himself: "I imagined all that. I am
an old fool."

His happiness was so great that the horrible discovery of the
Thenardiers made in the Jondrette hovel, unexpected as it was, had,
after a fashion, glided over him unnoticed. He had succeeded in making
his escape; all trace of him was lost--what more did he care for! he
only thought of those wretched beings to pity them. "Here they are in
prison, and henceforth they will be incapacitated for doing any harm,"
he thought, "but what a lamentable family in distress!"

As for the hideous vision of the Barriere du Maine, Cosette had not
referred to it again.

Sister Sainte-Mechtilde had taught Cosette music in the convent; Cosette
had the voice of a linnet with a soul, and sometimes, in the evening,
in the wounded man's humble abode, she warbled melancholy songs which
delighted Jean Valjean.

Spring came; the garden was so delightful at that season of the year,
that Jean Valjean said to Cosette:--

"You never go there; I want you to stroll in it."

"As you like, father," said Cosette.

And for the sake of obeying her father, she resumed her walks in the
garden, generally alone, for, as we have mentioned, Jean Valjean, who
was probably afraid of being seen through the fence, hardly ever went

Jean Valjean's wound had created a diversion.

When Cosette saw that her father was suffering less, that he was
convalescing, and that he appeared to be happy, she experienced a
contentment which she did not even perceive, so gently and naturally
had it come. Then, it was in the month of March, the days were growing
longer, the winter was departing, the winter always bears away with it a
portion of our sadness; then came April, that daybreak of summer, fresh
as dawn always is, gay like every childhood; a little inclined to weep
at times like the new-born being that it is. In that month, nature
has charming gleams which pass from the sky, from the trees, from the
meadows and the flowers into the heart of man.

Cosette was still too young to escape the penetrating influence of that
April joy which bore so strong a resemblance to herself. Insensibly, and
without her suspecting the fact, the blackness departed from her spirit.
In spring, sad souls grow light, as light falls into cellars at midday.
Cosette was no longer sad. However, though this was so, she did not
account for it to herself. In the morning, about ten o'clock, after
breakfast, when she had succeeded in enticing her father into the garden
for a quarter of an hour, and when she was pacing up and down in the
sunlight in front of the steps, supporting his left arm for him, she did
not perceive that she laughed every moment and that she was happy.

Jean Valjean, intoxicated, beheld her growing fresh and rosy once more.

"Oh! What a good wound!" he repeated in a whisper.

And he felt grateful to the Thenardiers.

His wound once healed, he resumed his solitary twilight strolls.

It is a mistake to suppose that a person can stroll alone in that
fashion in the uninhabited regions of Paris without meeting with some


One evening, little Gavroche had had nothing to eat; he remembered
that he had not dined on the preceding day either; this was becoming
tiresome. He resolved to make an effort to secure some supper. He
strolled out beyond the Salpetriere into deserted regions; that is
where windfalls are to be found; where there is no one, one always
finds something. He reached a settlement which appeared to him to be the
village of Austerlitz.

In one of his preceding lounges he had noticed there an old garden
haunted by an old man and an old woman, and in that garden, a passable
apple-tree. Beside the apple-tree stood a sort of fruit-house, which was
not securely fastened, and where one might contrive to get an apple. One
apple is a supper; one apple is life. That which was Adam's ruin might
prove Gavroche's salvation. The garden abutted on a solitary, unpaved
lane, bordered with brushwood while awaiting the arrival of houses; the
garden was separated from it by a hedge.

Gavroche directed his steps towards this garden; he found the lane, he
recognized the apple-tree, he verified the fruit-house, he examined the
hedge; a hedge means merely one stride. The day was declining, there was
not even a cat in the lane, the hour was propitious. Gavroche began
the operation of scaling the hedge, then suddenly paused. Some one was
talking in the garden. Gavroche peeped through one of the breaks in the

[Illustration: Succor from Below 4b4-1-succor-from-below]

A couple of paces distant, at the foot of the hedge on the other side,
exactly at the point where the gap which he was meditating would have
been made, there was a sort of recumbent stone which formed a bench, and
on this bench was seated the old man of the garden, while the old woman
was standing in front of him. The old woman was grumbling. Gavroche, who
was not very discreet, listened.

"Monsieur Mabeuf!" said the old woman.

"Mabeuf!" thought Gavroche, "that name is a perfect farce."

The old man who was thus addressed, did not stir. The old woman

"Monsieur Mabeuf!"

The old man, without raising his eyes from the ground, made up his mind
to answer:--

"What is it, Mother Plutarque?"

"Mother Plutarque!" thought Gavroche, "another farcical name."

Mother Plutarque began again, and the old man was forced to accept the

"The landlord is not pleased."


"We owe three quarters rent."

"In three months, we shall owe him for four quarters."

"He says that he will turn you out to sleep."

"I will go."

"The green-grocer insists on being paid. She will no longer leave her
fagots. What will you warm yourself with this winter? We shall have no

"There is the sun."

"The butcher refuses to give credit; he will not let us have any more

"That is quite right. I do not digest meat well. It is too heavy."

"What shall we have for dinner?"


"The baker demands a settlement, and says, 'no money, no bread.'"

"That is well."

"What will you eat?"

"We have apples in the apple-room."

"But, Monsieur, we can't live like that without money."

"I have none."

The old woman went away, the old man remained alone. He fell into
thought. Gavroche became thoughtful also. It was almost dark.

The first result of Gavroche's meditation was, that instead of scaling
the hedge, he crouched down under it. The branches stood apart a little
at the foot of the thicket.

"Come," exclaimed Gavroche mentally, "here's a nook!" and he curled up
in it. His back was almost in contact with Father Mabeuf's bench. He
could hear the octogenarian breathe.

Then, by way of dinner, he tried to sleep.

It was a cat-nap, with one eye open. While he dozed, Gavroche kept on
the watch.

The twilight pallor of the sky blanched the earth, and the lane formed a
livid line between two rows of dark bushes.

All at once, in this whitish band, two figures made their appearance.
One was in front, the other some distance in the rear.

"There come two creatures," muttered Gavroche.

The first form seemed to be some elderly bourgeois, who was bent and
thoughtful, dressed more than plainly, and who was walking slowly
because of his age, and strolling about in the open evening air.

The second was straight, firm, slender. It regulated its pace by that
of the first; but in the voluntary slowness of its gait, suppleness
and agility were discernible. This figure had also something fierce and
disquieting about it, the whole shape was that of what was then called
an elegant; the hat was of good shape, the coat black, well cut,
probably of fine cloth, and well fitted in at the waist. The head was
held erect with a sort of robust grace, and beneath the hat the pale
profile of a young man could be made out in the dim light. The profile
had a rose in its mouth. This second form was well known to Gavroche; it
was Montparnasse.

He could have told nothing about the other, except that he was a
respectable old man.

Gavroche immediately began to take observations.

One of these two pedestrians evidently had a project connected with
the other. Gavroche was well placed to watch the course of events. The
bedroom had turned into a hiding-place at a very opportune moment.

Montparnasse on the hunt at such an hour, in such a place, betokened
something threatening. Gavroche felt his gamin's heart moved with
compassion for the old man.

What was he to do? Interfere? One weakness coming to the aid of another!
It would be merely a laughing matter for Montparnasse. Gavroche did not
shut his eyes to the fact that the old man, in the first place, and the
child in the second, would make but two mouthfuls for that redoubtable
ruffian eighteen years of age.

While Gavroche was deliberating, the attack took place, abruptly and
hideously. The attack of the tiger on the wild ass, the attack of the
spider on the fly. Montparnasse suddenly tossed away his rose, bounded
upon the old man, seized him by the collar, grasped and clung to him,
and Gavroche with difficulty restrained a scream. A moment later one of
these men was underneath the other, groaning, struggling, with a knee
of marble upon his breast. Only, it was not just what Gavroche had
expected. The one who lay on the earth was Montparnasse; the one who
was on top was the old man. All this took place a few paces distant from

The old man had received the shock, had returned it, and that in such
a terrible fashion, that in a twinkling, the assailant and the assailed
had exchanged roles.

"Here's a hearty veteran!" thought Gavroche.

He could not refrain from clapping his hands. But it was applause
wasted. It did not reach the combatants, absorbed and deafened as they
were, each by the other, as their breath mingled in the struggle.

Silence ensued. Montparnasse ceased his struggles. Gavroche indulged in
this aside: "Can he be dead!"

The goodman had not uttered a word, nor given vent to a cry. He rose to
his feet, and Gavroche heard him say to Montparnasse:--

"Get up."

Montparnasse rose, but the goodman held him fast. Montparnasse's
attitude was the humiliated and furious attitude of the wolf who has
been caught by a sheep.

Gavroche looked on and listened, making an effort to reinforce his eyes
with his ears. He was enjoying himself immensely.

He was repaid for his conscientious anxiety in the character of a
spectator. He was able to catch on the wing a dialogue which borrowed
from the darkness an indescribably tragic accent. The goodman
questioned, Montparnasse replied.

"How old are you?"


"You are strong and healthy. Why do you not work?"

"It bores me."

"What is your trade?"

"An idler."

"Speak seriously. Can anything be done for you? What would you like to

"A thief."

A pause ensued. The old man seemed absorbed in profound thought. He
stood motionless, and did not relax his hold on Montparnasse.

Every moment the vigorous and agile young ruffian indulged in the
twitchings of a wild beast caught in a snare. He gave a jerk, tried a
crook of the knee, twisted his limbs desperately, and made efforts to

The old man did not appear to notice it, and held both his arms with one
hand, with the sovereign indifference of absolute force.

The old man's revery lasted for some time, then, looking steadily at
Montparnasse, he addressed to him in a gentle voice, in the midst of the
darkness where they stood, a solemn harangue, of which Gavroche did not
lose a single syllable:--

"My child, you are entering, through indolence, on one of the most
laborious of lives. Ah! You declare yourself to be an idler! prepare to
toil. There is a certain formidable machine, have you seen it? It is
the rolling-mill. You must be on your guard against it, it is crafty
and ferocious; if it catches hold of the skirt of your coat, you will be
drawn in bodily. That machine is laziness. Stop while there is yet time,
and save yourself! Otherwise, it is all over with you; in a short time
you will be among the gearing. Once entangled, hope for nothing more.
Toil, lazybones! there is no more repose for you! The iron hand of
implacable toil has seized you. You do not wish to earn your living, to
have a task, to fulfil a duty! It bores you to be like other men? Well!
You will be different. Labor is the law; he who rejects it will find
ennui his torment. You do not wish to be a workingman, you will be a
slave. Toil lets go of you on one side only to grasp you again on the
other. You do not desire to be its friend, you shall be its negro slave.
Ah! You would have none of the honest weariness of men, you shall have
the sweat of the damned. Where others sing, you will rattle in your
throat. You will see afar off, from below, other men at work; it will
seem to you that they are resting. The laborer, the harvester, the
sailor, the blacksmith, will appear to you in glory like the blessed
spirits in paradise. What radiance surrounds the forge! To guide the
plough, to bind the sheaves, is joy. The bark at liberty in the wind,
what delight! Do you, lazy idler, delve, drag on, roll, march! Drag your
halter. You are a beast of burden in the team of hell! Ah! To do nothing
is your object. Well, not a week, not a day, not an hour shall you have
free from oppression. You will be able to lift nothing without anguish.
Every minute that passes will make your muscles crack. What is a feather
to others will be a rock to you. The simplest things will become steep
acclivities. Life will become monstrous all about you. To go, to come,
to breathe, will be just so many terrible labors. Your lungs will
produce on you the effect of weighing a hundred pounds. Whether you
shall walk here rather than there, will become a problem that must be
solved. Any one who wants to go out simply gives his door a push, and
there he is in the open air. If you wish to go out, you will be obliged
to pierce your wall. What does every one who wants to step into the
street do? He goes down stairs; you will tear up your sheets, little
by little you will make of them a rope, then you will climb out of your
window, and you will suspend yourself by that thread over an abyss, and
it will be night, amid storm, rain, and the hurricane, and if the rope
is too short, but one way of descending will remain to you, to fall. To
drop hap-hazard into the gulf, from an unknown height, on what? On what
is beneath, on the unknown. Or you will crawl up a chimney-flue, at the
risk of burning; or you will creep through a sewer-pipe, at the risk of
drowning; I do not speak of the holes that you will be obliged to mask,
of the stones which you will have to take up and replace twenty times a
day, of the plaster that you will have to hide in your straw pallet. A
lock presents itself; the bourgeois has in his pocket a key made by a
locksmith. If you wish to pass out, you will be condemned to execute a
terrible work of art; you will take a large sou, you will cut it in
two plates; with what tools? You will have to invent them. That is your
business. Then you will hollow out the interior of these plates, taking
great care of the outside, and you will make on the edges a thread, so
that they can be adjusted one upon the other like a box and its cover.
The top and bottom thus screwed together, nothing will be suspected. To
the overseers it will be only a sou; to you it will be a box. What will
you put in this box? A small bit of steel. A watch-spring, in which you
will have cut teeth, and which will form a saw. With this saw, as long
as a pin, and concealed in a sou, you will cut the bolt of the lock, you
will sever bolts, the padlock of your chain, and the bar at your window,
and the fetter on your leg. This masterpiece finished, this prodigy
accomplished, all these miracles of art, address, skill, and patience
executed, what will be your recompense if it becomes known that you
are the author? The dungeon. There is your future. What precipices are
idleness and pleasure! Do you know that to do nothing is a melancholy
resolution? To live in idleness on the property of society! to be
useless, that is to say, pernicious! This leads straight to the depth
of wretchedness. Woe to the man who desires to be a parasite! He will
become vermin! Ah! So it does not please you to work? Ah! You have but
one thought, to drink well, to eat well, to sleep well. You will drink
water, you will eat black bread, you will sleep on a plank with a fetter
whose cold touch you will feel on your flesh all night long, riveted to
your limbs. You will break those fetters, you will flee. That is well.
You will crawl on your belly through the brushwood, and you will eat
grass like the beasts of the forest. And you will be recaptured. And
then you will pass years in a dungeon, riveted to a wall, groping for
your jug that you may drink, gnawing at a horrible loaf of darkness
which dogs would not touch, eating beans that the worms have eaten
before you. You will be a wood-louse in a cellar. Ah! Have pity on
yourself, you miserable young child, who were sucking at nurse less
than twenty years ago, and who have, no doubt, a mother still alive! I
conjure you, listen to me, I entreat you. You desire fine black cloth,
varnished shoes, to have your hair curled and sweet-smelling oils on
your locks, to please low women, to be handsome. You will be shaven
clean, and you will wear a red blouse and wooden shoes. You want rings
on your fingers, you will have an iron necklet on your neck. If you
glance at a woman, you will receive a blow. And you will enter there at
the age of twenty. And you will come out at fifty! You will enter young,
rosy, fresh, with brilliant eyes, and all your white teeth, and your
handsome, youthful hair; you will come out broken, bent, wrinkled,
toothless, horrible, with white locks! Ah! my poor child, you are on the
wrong road; idleness is counselling you badly; the hardest of all work
is thieving. Believe me, do not undertake that painful profession of
an idle man. It is not comfortable to become a rascal. It is less
disagreeable to be an honest man. Now go, and ponder on what I have said
to you. By the way, what did you want of me? My purse? Here it is."

And the old man, releasing Montparnasse, put his purse in the latter's
hand; Montparnasse weighed it for a moment, after which he allowed it to
slide gently into the back pocket of his coat, with the same mechanical
precaution as though he had stolen it.

All this having been said and done, the goodman turned his back and
tranquilly resumed his stroll.

"The blockhead!" muttered Montparnasse.

Who was this goodman? The reader has, no doubt, already divined.

Montparnasse watched him with amazement, as he disappeared in the dusk.
This contemplation was fatal to him.

While the old man was walking away, Gavroche drew near.

Gavroche had assured himself, with a sidelong glance, that Father Mabeuf
was still sitting on his bench, probably sound asleep. Then the gamin
emerged from his thicket, and began to crawl after Montparnasse in the
dark, as the latter stood there motionless. In this manner he came up
to Montparnasse without being seen or heard, gently insinuated his hand
into the back pocket of that frock-coat of fine black cloth, seized the
purse, withdrew his hand, and having recourse once more to his crawling,
he slipped away like an adder through the shadows. Montparnasse, who
had no reason to be on his guard, and who was engaged in thought for the
first time in his life, perceived nothing. When Gavroche had once more
attained the point where Father Mabeuf was, he flung the purse over the
hedge, and fled as fast as his legs would carry him.

The purse fell on Father Mabeuf's foot. This commotion roused him.

He bent over and picked up the purse.

He did not understand in the least, and opened it.

The purse had two compartments; in one of them there was some small
change; in the other lay six napoleons.

M. Mabeuf, in great alarm, referred the matter to his housekeeper.

"That has fallen from heaven," said Mother Plutarque.



Cosette's grief, which had been so poignant and lively four or five
months previously, had, without her being conscious of the fact, entered
upon its convalescence. Nature, spring, youth, love for her father,
the gayety of the birds and flowers, caused something almost resembling
forgetfulness to filter gradually, drop by drop, into that soul, which
was so virgin and so young. Was the fire wholly extinct there? Or was
it merely that layers of ashes had formed? The truth is, that she hardly
felt the painful and burning spot any longer.

One day she suddenly thought of Marius: "Why!" said she, "I no longer
think of him."

That same week, she noticed a very handsome officer of lancers, with
a wasp-like waist, a delicious uniform, the cheeks of a young girl, a
sword under his arm, waxed mustaches, and a glazed schapka, passing the
gate. Moreover, he had light hair, prominent blue eyes, a round face,
was vain, insolent and good-looking; quite the reverse of Marius. He
had a cigar in his mouth. Cosette thought that this officer doubtless
belonged to the regiment in barracks in the Rue de Babylone.

On the following day, she saw him pass again. She took note of the hour.

From that time forth, was it chance? she saw him pass nearly every day.

The officer's comrades perceived that there was, in that "badly kept"
garden, behind that malicious rococo fence, a very pretty creature,
who was almost always there when the handsome lieutenant,--who is not
unknown to the reader, and whose name was Theodule Gillenormand,--passed

"See here!" they said to him, "there's a little creature there who is
making eyes at you, look."

"Have I the time," replied the lancer, "to look at all the girls who
look at me?"

This was at the precise moment when Marius was descending heavily
towards agony, and was saying: "If I could but see her before I
die!"--Had his wish been realized, had he beheld Cosette at that moment
gazing at the lancer, he would not have been able to utter a word, and
he would have expired with grief.

Whose fault was it? No one's.

Marius possessed one of those temperaments which bury themselves in
sorrow and there abide; Cosette was one of those persons who plunge into
sorrow and emerge from it again.

Cosette was, moreover, passing through that dangerous period, the fatal
phase of feminine revery abandoned to itself, in which the isolated
heart of a young girl resembles the tendrils of the vine which cling,
as chance directs, to the capital of a marble column or to the post of
a wine-shop: A rapid and decisive moment, critical for every orphan, be
she rich or poor, for wealth does not prevent a bad choice; misalliances
are made in very high circles, real misalliance is that of souls; and as
many an unknown young man, without name, without birth, without fortune,
is a marble column which bears up a temple of grand sentiments and grand
ideas, so such and such a man of the world satisfied and opulent, who
has polished boots and varnished words, if looked at not outside, but
inside, a thing which is reserved for his wife, is nothing more than a
block obscurely haunted by violent, unclean, and vinous passions; the
post of a drinking-shop.

What did Cosette's soul contain? Passion calmed or lulled to sleep;
something limpid, brilliant, troubled to a certain depth, and gloomy
lower down. The image of the handsome officer was reflected in
the surface. Did a souvenir linger in the depths?--Quite at the
bottom?--Possibly. Cosette did not know.

A singular incident supervened.


During the first fortnight in April, Jean Valjean took a journey. This,
as the reader knows, happened from time to time, at very long intervals.
He remained absent a day or two days at the utmost. Where did he go? No
one knew, not even Cosette. Once only, on the occasion of one of these
departures, she had accompanied him in a hackney-coach as far as a
little blind-alley at the corner of which she read: Impasse de la
Planchette. There he alighted, and the coach took Cosette back to the
Rue de Babylone. It was usually when money was lacking in the house that
Jean Valjean took these little trips.

So Jean Valjean was absent. He had said: "I shall return in three days."

That evening, Cosette was alone in the drawing-room. In order to get
rid of her ennui, she had opened her piano-organ, and had begun to sing,
accompanying herself the while, the chorus from Euryanthe: "Hunters
astray in the wood!" which is probably the most beautiful thing in all
the sphere of music. When she had finished, she remained wrapped in

All at once, it seemed to her that she heard the sound of footsteps in
the garden.

It could not be her father, he was absent; it could not be Toussaint,
she was in bed, and it was ten o'clock at night.

She stepped to the shutter of the drawing-room, which was closed, and
laid her ear against it.

It seemed to her that it was the tread of a man, and that he was walking
very softly.

She mounted rapidly to the first floor, to her own chamber, opened a
small wicket in her shutter, and peeped into the garden. The moon was at
the full. Everything could be seen as plainly as by day.

There was no one there.

She opened the window. The garden was absolutely calm, and all that was
visible was that the street was deserted as usual.

Cosette thought that she had been mistaken. She thought that she had
heard a noise. It was a hallucination produced by the melancholy and
magnificent chorus of Weber, which lays open before the mind terrified
depths, which trembles before the gaze like a dizzy forest, and in which
one hears the crackling of dead branches beneath the uneasy tread of the
huntsmen of whom one catches a glimpse through the twilight.

She thought no more about it.

Moreover, Cosette was not very timid by nature. There flowed in her
veins some of the blood of the bohemian and the adventuress who runs
barefoot. It will be remembered that she was more of a lark than a dove.
There was a foundation of wildness and bravery in her.

On the following day, at an earlier hour, towards nightfall, she was
strolling in the garden. In the midst of the confused thoughts which
occupied her, she fancied that she caught for an instant a sound similar
to that of the preceding evening, as though some one were walking
beneath the trees in the dusk, and not very far from her; but she told
herself that nothing so closely resembles a step on the grass as the
friction of two branches which have moved from side to side, and she
paid no heed to it. Besides, she could see nothing.

She emerged from "the thicket"; she had still to cross a small lawn to
regain the steps.

The moon, which had just risen behind her, cast Cosette's shadow in
front of her upon this lawn, as she came out from the shrubbery.

Cosette halted in alarm.

Beside her shadow, the moon outlined distinctly upon the turf another
shadow, which was particularly startling and terrible, a shadow which
had a round hat.

It was the shadow of a man, who must have been standing on the border of
the clump of shrubbery, a few paces in the rear of Cosette.

She stood for a moment without the power to speak, or cry, or call, or
stir, or turn her head.

Then she summoned up all her courage, and turned round resolutely.

There was no one there.

She glanced on the ground. The figure had disappeared.

She re-entered the thicket, searched the corners boldly, went as far as
the gate, and found nothing.

She felt herself absolutely chilled with terror. Was this another
hallucination? What! Two days in succession! One hallucination might
pass, but two hallucinations? The disquieting point about it was, that
the shadow had assuredly not been a phantom. Phantoms do not wear round

On the following day Jean Valjean returned. Cosette told him what she
thought she had heard and seen. She wanted to be reassured and to see
her father shrug his shoulders and say to her: "You are a little goose."

Jean Valjean grew anxious.

"It cannot be anything," said he.

He left her under some pretext, and went into the garden, and she saw
him examining the gate with great attention.

During the night she woke up; this time she was sure, and she distinctly
heard some one walking close to the flight of steps beneath her window.
She ran to her little wicket and opened it. In point of fact, there
was a man in the garden, with a large club in his hand. Just as she
was about to scream, the moon lighted up the man's profile. It was her
father. She returned to her bed, saying to herself: "He is very uneasy!"

Jean Valjean passed that night and the two succeeding nights in the
garden. Cosette saw him through the hole in her shutter.

On the third night, the moon was on the wane, and had begun to rise
later; at one o'clock in the morning, possibly, she heard a loud burst
of laughter and her father's voice calling her:--


She jumped out of bed, threw on her dressing-gown, and opened her

Her father was standing on the grass-plot below.

"I have waked you for the purpose of reassuring you," said he; "look,
there is your shadow with the round hat."

And he pointed out to her on the turf a shadow cast by the moon, and
which did indeed, bear considerable resemblance to the spectre of a man
wearing a round hat. It was the shadow produced by a chimney-pipe of
sheet iron, with a hood, which rose above a neighboring roof.

Cosette joined in his laughter, all her lugubrious suppositions were
allayed, and the next morning, as she was at breakfast with her father,
she made merry over the sinister garden haunted by the shadows of iron

Jean Valjean became quite tranquil once more; as for Cosette, she did
not pay much attention to the question whether the chimney-pot was
really in the direction of the shadow which she had seen, or thought she
had seen, and whether the moon had been in the same spot in the sky.

She did not question herself as to the peculiarity of a chimney-pot
which is afraid of being caught in the act, and which retires when some
one looks at its shadow, for the shadow had taken the alarm when Cosette
had turned round, and Cosette had thought herself very sure of this.
Cosette's serenity was fully restored. The proof appeared to her to
be complete, and it quite vanished from her mind, whether there could
possibly be any one walking in the garden during the evening or at

A few days later, however, a fresh incident occurred.


In the garden, near the railing on the street, there was a stone bench,
screened from the eyes of the curious by a plantation of yoke-elms,
but which could, in case of necessity, be reached by an arm from the
outside, past the trees and the gate.

One evening during that same month of April, Jean Valjean had gone out;
Cosette had seated herself on this bench after sundown. The breeze was
blowing briskly in the trees, Cosette was meditating; an objectless
sadness was taking possession of her little by little, that invincible
sadness evoked by the evening, and which arises, perhaps, who knows,
from the mystery of the tomb which is ajar at that hour.

Perhaps Fantine was within that shadow.

Cosette rose, slowly made the tour of the garden, walking on the
grass drenched in dew, and saying to herself, through the species of
melancholy somnambulism in which she was plunged: "Really, one needs
wooden shoes for the garden at this hour. One takes cold."

She returned to the bench.

As she was about to resume her seat there, she observed on the spot
which she had quitted, a tolerably large stone which had, evidently, not
been there a moment before.

Cosette gazed at the stone, asking herself what it meant. All at once
the idea occurred to her that the stone had not reached the bench all by
itself, that some one had placed it there, that an arm had been thrust
through the railing, and this idea appeared to alarm her. This time, the
fear was genuine; the stone was there. No doubt was possible; she did
not touch it, fled without glancing behind her, took refuge in the
house, and immediately closed with shutter, bolt, and bar the door-like
window opening on the flight of steps. She inquired of Toussaint:--

"Has my father returned yet?"

"Not yet, Mademoiselle."

[We have already noted once for all the fact that Toussaint stuttered.
May we be permitted to dispense with it for the future. The musical
notation of an infirmity is repugnant to us.]

Jean Valjean, a thoughtful man, and given to nocturnal strolls, often
returned quite late at night.

"Toussaint," went on Cosette, "are you careful to thoroughly barricade
the shutters opening on the garden, at least with bars, in the evening,
and to put the little iron things in the little rings that close them?"

"Oh! be easy on that score, Miss."

Toussaint did not fail in her duty, and Cosette was well aware of the
fact, but she could not refrain from adding:--

"It is so solitary here."

"So far as that is concerned," said Toussaint, "it is true. We might be
assassinated before we had time to say ouf! And Monsieur does not sleep
in the house, to boot. But fear nothing, Miss, I fasten the shutters up
like prisons. Lone women! That is enough to make one shudder, I believe
you! Just imagine, what if you were to see men enter your chamber at
night and say: 'Hold your tongue!' and begin to cut your throat. It's
not the dying so much; you die, for one must die, and that's all right;
it's the abomination of feeling those people touch you. And then, their
knives; they can't be able to cut well with them! Ah, good gracious!"

"Be quiet," said Cosette. "Fasten everything thoroughly."

Cosette, terrified by the melodrama improvised by Toussaint, and
possibly, also, by the recollection of the apparitions of the past week,
which recurred to her memory, dared not even say to her: "Go and look at
the stone which has been placed on the bench!" for fear of opening the
garden gate and allowing "the men" to enter. She saw that all the doors
and windows were carefully fastened, made Toussaint go all over the
house from garret to cellar, locked herself up in her own chamber,
bolted her door, looked under her couch, went to bed and slept badly.
All night long she saw that big stone, as large as a mountain and full
of caverns.

At sunrise,--the property of the rising sun is to make us laugh at all
our terrors of the past night, and our laughter is in direct proportion
to our terror which they have caused,--at sunrise Cosette, when she
woke, viewed her fright as a nightmare, and said to herself: "What have
I been thinking of? It is like the footsteps that I thought I heard a
week or two ago in the garden at night! It is like the shadow of the
chimney-pot! Am I becoming a coward?" The sun, which was glowing through
the crevices in her shutters, and turning the damask curtains crimson,
reassured her to such an extent that everything vanished from her
thoughts, even the stone.

"There was no more a stone on the bench than there was a man in a round
hat in the garden; I dreamed about the stone, as I did all the rest."

She dressed herself, descended to the garden, ran to the bench, and
broke out in a cold perspiration. The stone was there.

But this lasted only for a moment. That which is terror by night is
curiosity by day.

"Bah!" said she, "come, let us see what it is."

She lifted the stone, which was tolerably large. Beneath it was
something which resembled a letter. It was a white envelope. Cosette
seized it. There was no address on one side, no seal on the other.
Yet the envelope, though unsealed, was not empty. Papers could be seen

Cosette examined it. It was no longer alarm, it was no longer curiosity;
it was a beginning of anxiety.

Cosette drew from the envelope its contents, a little notebook of paper,
each page of which was numbered and bore a few lines in a very fine and
rather pretty handwriting, as Cosette thought.

Cosette looked for a name; there was none. To whom was this addressed?
To her, probably, since a hand had deposited the packet on her bench.
From whom did it come? An irresistible fascination took possession
of her; she tried to turn away her eyes from the leaflets which were
trembling in her hand, she gazed at the sky, the street, the acacias
all bathed in light, the pigeons fluttering over a neighboring roof,
and then her glance suddenly fell upon the manuscript, and she said to
herself that she must know what it contained.

This is what she read.


[Illustration: Cosette with Letter  4b4-5-cosette-after-letter]

The reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a
single being even to God, that is love.

Love is the salutation of the angels to the stars.

How sad is the soul, when it is sad through love!

What a void in the absence of the being who, by herself alone fills the
world! Oh! how true it is that the beloved being becomes God. One could
comprehend that God might be jealous of this had not God the Father of
all evidently made creation for the soul, and the soul for love.

The glimpse of a smile beneath a white crape bonnet with a lilac curtain
is sufficient to cause the soul to enter into the palace of dreams.

God is behind everything, but everything hides God. Things are
black, creatures are opaque. To love a being is to render that being

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the
attitude of the body may be, the soul is on its knees.

Parted lovers beguile absence by a thousand chimerical devices, which
possess, however, a reality of their own. They are prevented from seeing
each other, they cannot write to each other; they discover a multitude
of mysterious means to correspond. They send each other the song of the
birds, the perfume of the flowers, the smiles of children, the light of
the sun, the sighings of the breeze, the rays of stars, all creation.
And why not? All the works of God are made to serve love. Love is
sufficiently potent to charge all nature with its messages.

Oh Spring! Thou art a letter that I write to her.

The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that
is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite,
the inexhaustible is requisite.

Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like
it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible,
imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is
immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can
extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and
we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven.

Oh Love! Adorations! voluptuousness of two minds which understand each
other, of two hearts which exchange with each other, of two glances
which penetrate each other! You will come to me, will you not, bliss!
strolls by twos in the solitudes! Blessed and radiant days! I have
sometimes dreamed that from time to time hours detached themselves from
the lives of the angels and came here below to traverse the destinies of

God can add nothing to the happiness of those who love, except to give
them endless duration. After a life of love, an eternity of love is, in
fact, an augmentation; but to increase in intensity even the ineffable
felicity which love bestows on the soul even in this world, is
impossible, even to God. God is the plenitude of heaven; love is the
plenitude of man.

You look at a star for two reasons, because it is luminous, and because
it is impenetrable. You have beside you a sweeter radiance and a greater
mystery, woman.

All of us, whoever we may be, have our respirable beings. We lack
air and we stifle. Then we die. To die for lack of love is horrible.
Suffocation of the soul.

When love has fused and mingled two beings in a sacred and angelic
unity, the secret of life has been discovered so far as they are
concerned; they are no longer anything more than the two boundaries of
the same destiny; they are no longer anything but the two wings of the
same spirit. Love, soar.

On the day when a woman as she passes before you emits light as she
walks, you are lost, you love. But one thing remains for you to do: to
think of her so intently that she is constrained to think of you.

What love commences can be finished by God alone.

True love is in despair and is enchanted over a glove lost or a
handkerchief found, and eternity is required for its devotion and its
hopes. It is composed both of the infinitely great and the infinitely

If you are a stone, be adamant; if you are a plant, be the sensitive
plant; if you are a man, be love.

Nothing suffices for love. We have happiness, we desire paradise; we
possess paradise, we desire heaven.

Oh ye who love each other, all this is contained in love. Understand
how to find it there. Love has contemplation as well as heaven, and more
than heaven, it has voluptuousness.

"Does she still come to the Luxembourg?" "No, sir." "This is the church
where she attends mass, is it not?" "She no longer comes here." "Does
she still live in this house?" "She has moved away." "Where has she gone
to dwell?"

"She did not say."

What a melancholy thing not to know the address of one's soul!

Love has its childishness, other passions have their pettinesses. Shame
on the passions which belittle man! Honor to the one which makes a child
of him!

There is one strange thing, do you know it? I dwell in the night. There
is a being who carried off my sky when she went away.

Oh! would that we were lying side by side in the same grave, hand
in hand, and from time to time, in the darkness, gently caressing a
finger,--that would suffice for my eternity!

Ye who suffer because ye love, love yet more. To die of love, is to live
in it.

Love. A sombre and starry transfiguration is mingled with this torture.
There is ecstasy in agony.

Oh joy of the birds! It is because they have nests that they sing.

Love is a celestial respiration of the air of paradise.

Deep hearts, sage minds, take life as God has made it; it is a long
trial, an incomprehensible preparation for an unknown destiny. This
destiny, the true one, begins for a man with the first step inside the
tomb. Then something appears to him, and he begins to distinguish the
definitive. The definitive, meditate upon that word. The living perceive
the infinite; the definitive permits itself to be seen only by the dead.
In the meanwhile, love and suffer, hope and contemplate. Woe, alas! to
him who shall have loved only bodies, forms, appearances! Death will
deprive him of all. Try to love souls, you will find them again.

I encountered in the street, a very poor young man who was in love. His
hat was old, his coat was worn, his elbows were in holes; water trickled
through his shoes, and the stars through his soul.

What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is
to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer
composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything
that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more
germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul,
inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds
and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its
vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels
anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests
of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.

If there did not exist some one who loved, the sun would become extinct.


As Cosette read, she gradually fell into thought. At the very moment
when she raised her eyes from the last line of the note-book, the
handsome officer passed triumphantly in front of the gate,--it was his
hour; Cosette thought him hideous.

She resumed her contemplation of the book. It was written in the most
charming of chirography, thought Cosette; in the same hand, but with
divers inks, sometimes very black, again whitish, as when ink has been
added to the inkstand, and consequently on different days. It was,
then, a mind which had unfolded itself there, sigh by sigh, irregularly,
without order, without choice, without object, hap-hazard. Cosette
had never read anything like it. This manuscript, in which she already
perceived more light than obscurity, produced upon her the effect of a
half-open sanctuary. Each one of these mysterious lines shone before
her eyes and inundated her heart with a strange radiance. The education
which she had received had always talked to her of the soul, and never
of love, very much as one might talk of the firebrand and not of the
flame. This manuscript of fifteen pages suddenly and sweetly revealed
to her all of love, sorrow, destiny, life, eternity, the beginning,
the end. It was as if a hand had opened and suddenly flung upon her
a handful of rays of light. In these few lines she felt a passionate,
ardent, generous, honest nature, a sacred will, an immense sorrow, and
an immense despair, a suffering heart, an ecstasy fully expanded. What
was this manuscript? A letter. A letter without name, without address,
without date, without signature, pressing and disinterested, an enigma
composed of truths, a message of love made to be brought by an angel and
read by a virgin, an appointment made beyond the bounds of earth, the
love-letter of a phantom to a shade. It was an absent one, tranquil and
dejected, who seemed ready to take refuge in death and who sent to the
absent love, his lady, the secret of fate, the key of life, love. This
had been written with one foot in the grave and one finger in heaven.
These lines, which had fallen one by one on the paper, were what might
be called drops of soul.

Now, from whom could these pages come? Who could have penned them?

Cosette did not hesitate a moment. One man only.


Day had dawned once more in her spirit; all had reappeared. She felt an
unheard-of joy, and a profound anguish. It was he! he who had written!
he was there! it was he whose arm had been thrust through that railing!
While she was forgetful of him, he had found her again! But had she
forgotten him? No, never! She was foolish to have thought so for a
single moment. She had always loved him, always adored him. The fire had
been smothered, and had smouldered for a time, but she saw all plainly
now; it had but made headway, and now it had burst forth afresh, and
had inflamed her whole being. This note-book was like a spark which
had fallen from that other soul into hers. She felt the conflagration
starting up once more.

She imbued herself thoroughly with every word of the manuscript: "Oh
yes!" said she, "how perfectly I recognize all that! That is what I had
already read in his eyes." As she was finishing it for the third time,
Lieutenant Theodule passed the gate once more, and rattled his spurs
upon the pavement. Cosette was forced to raise her eyes. She thought him
insipid, silly, stupid, useless, foppish, displeasing, impertinent, and
extremely ugly. The officer thought it his duty to smile at her.

She turned away as in shame and indignation. She would gladly have
thrown something at his head.

She fled, re-entered the house, and shut herself up in her chamber to
peruse the manuscript once more, to learn it by heart, and to dream.
When she had thoroughly mastered it she kissed it and put it in her

All was over, Cosette had fallen back into deep, seraphic love. The
abyss of Eden had yawned once more.

All day long, Cosette remained in a sort of bewilderment. She scarcely
thought, her ideas were in the state of a tangled skein in her brain,
she could not manage to conjecture anything, she hoped through a tremor,
what? vague things. She dared make herself no promises, and she did
not wish to refuse herself anything. Flashes of pallor passed over her
countenance, and shivers ran through her frame. It seemed to her, at
intervals, that she was entering the land of chimaeras; she said to
herself: "Is this reality?" Then she felt of the dear paper within her
bosom under her gown, she pressed it to her heart, she felt its angles
against her flesh; and if Jean Valjean had seen her at the moment, he
would have shuddered in the presence of that luminous and unknown joy,
which overflowed from beneath her eyelids.--"Oh yes!" she thought, "it
is certainly he! This comes from him, and is for me!"

And she told herself that an intervention of the angels, a celestial
chance, had given him back to her.

Oh transfiguration of love! Oh dreams! That celestial chance, that
intervention of the angels, was a pellet of bread tossed by one thief to
another thief, from the Charlemagne Courtyard to the Lion's Ditch, over
the roofs of La Force.


When evening came, Jean Valjean went out; Cosette dressed herself. She
arranged her hair in the most becoming manner, and she put on a dress
whose bodice had received one snip of the scissors too much, and which,
through this slope, permitted a view of the beginning of her throat, and
was, as young girls say, "a trifle indecent." It was not in the least
indecent, but it was prettier than usual. She made her toilet thus
without knowing why she did so.

Did she mean to go out? No.

Was she expecting a visitor? No.

At dusk, she went down to the garden. Toussaint was busy in her kitchen,
which opened on the back yard.

She began to stroll about under the trees, thrusting aside the branches
from time to time with her hand, because there were some which hung very

In this manner she reached the bench.

The stone was still there.

She sat down, and gently laid her white hand on this stone as though she
wished to caress and thank it.

All at once, she experienced that indefinable impression which one
undergoes when there is some one standing behind one, even when she does
not see the person.

She turned her head and rose to her feet.

It was he.

His head was bare. He appeared to have grown thin and pale. His black
clothes were hardly discernible. The twilight threw a wan light on
his fine brow, and covered his eyes in shadows. Beneath a veil of
incomparable sweetness, he had something about him that suggested death
and night. His face was illuminated by the light of the dying day, and
by the thought of a soul that is taking flight.

He seemed to be not yet a ghost, and he was no longer a man.

He had flung away his hat in the thicket, a few paces distant.

Cosette, though ready to swoon, uttered no cry. She retreated slowly,
for she felt herself attracted. He did not stir. By virtue of something
ineffable and melancholy which enveloped him, she felt the look in his
eyes which she could not see.

Cosette, in her retreat, encountered a tree and leaned against it. Had
it not been for this tree, she would have fallen.

Then she heard his voice, that voice which she had really never heard,
barely rising above the rustle of the leaves, and murmuring:--

"Pardon me, here I am. My heart is full. I could not live on as I was
living, and I have come. Have you read what I placed there on the bench?
Do you recognize me at all? Have no fear of me. It is a long time, you
remember the day, since you looked at me at the Luxembourg, near the
Gladiator. And the day when you passed before me? It was on the 16th of
June and the 2d of July. It is nearly a year ago. I have not seen you
for a long time. I inquired of the woman who let the chairs, and she
told me that she no longer saw you. You lived in the Rue de l'Ouest, on
the third floor, in the front apartments of a new house,--you see that
I know! I followed you. What else was there for me to do? And then you
disappeared. I thought I saw you pass once, while I was reading the
newspapers under the arcade of the Odeon. I ran after you. But no. It
was a person who had a bonnet like yours. At night I came hither. Do
not be afraid, no one sees me. I come to gaze upon your windows near
at hand. I walk very softly, so that you may not hear, for you might be
alarmed. The other evening I was behind you, you turned round, I fled.
Once, I heard you singing. I was happy. Did it affect you because I
heard you singing through the shutters? That could not hurt you. No,
it is not so? You see, you are my angel! Let me come sometimes; I think
that I am going to die. If you only knew! I adore you. Forgive me, I
speak to you, but I do not know what I am saying; I may have displeased
you; have I displeased you?"

"Oh! my mother!" said she.

And she sank down as though on the point of death.

He grasped her, she fell, he took her in his arms, he pressed her close,
without knowing what he was doing. He supported her, though he was
tottering himself. It was as though his brain were full of smoke;
lightnings darted between his lips; his ideas vanished; it seemed to him
that he was accomplishing some religious act, and that he was committing
a profanation. Moreover, he had not the least passion for this lovely
woman whose force he felt against his breast. He was beside himself with

She took his hand and laid it on her heart. He felt the paper there, he

"You love me, then?"

She replied in a voice so low that it was no longer anything more than a
barely audible breath:--

"Hush! Thou knowest it!"

And she hid her blushing face on the breast of the superb and
intoxicated young man.

He fell upon the bench, and she beside him. They had no words more. The
stars were beginning to gleam. How did it come to pass that their lips
met? How comes it to pass that the birds sing, that snow melts, that
the rose unfolds, that May expands, that the dawn grows white behind the
black trees on the shivering crest of the hills?

A kiss, and that was all.

Both started, and gazed into the darkness with sparkling eyes.

They felt neither the cool night, nor the cold stone, nor the damp
earth, nor the wet grass; they looked at each other, and their hearts
were full of thoughts. They had clasped hands unconsciously.

She did not ask him, she did not even wonder, how he had entered there,
and how he had made his way into the garden. It seemed so simple to her
that he should be there!

From time to time, Marius' knee touched Cosette's knee, and both

At intervals, Cosette stammered a word. Her soul fluttered on her lips
like a drop of dew on a flower.

Little by little they began to talk to each other. Effusion followed
silence, which is fulness. The night was serene and splendid overhead.
These two beings, pure as spirits, told each other everything, their
dreams, their intoxications, their ecstasies, their chimaeras, their
weaknesses, how they had adored each other from afar, how they had
longed for each other, their despair when they had ceased to see each
other. They confided to each other in an ideal intimacy, which nothing
could augment, their most secret and most mysterious thoughts. They
related to each other, with candid faith in their illusions, all that
love, youth, and the remains of childhood which still lingered about
them, suggested to their minds. Their two hearts poured themselves out
into each other in such wise, that at the expiration of a quarter of an
hour, it was the young man who had the young girl's soul, and the young
girl who had the young man's soul. Each became permeated with the other,
they were enchanted with each other, they dazzled each other.

When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, she
laid her head on his shoulder and asked him:--

"What is your name?"

"My name is Marius," said he. "And yours?"

"My name is Cosette."



Since 1823, when the tavern of Montfermeil was on the way to shipwreck
and was being gradually engulfed, not in the abyss of a bankruptcy, but
in the cesspool of petty debts, the Thenardier pair had had two other
children; both males. That made five; two girls and three boys.

Madame Thenardier had got rid of the last two, while they were still
young and very small, with remarkable luck.

Got rid of is the word. There was but a mere fragment of nature in that
woman. A phenomenon, by the way, of which there is more than one example
extant. Like the Marechale de La Mothe-Houdancourt, the Thenardier was
a mother to her daughters only. There her maternity ended. Her hatred of
the human race began with her own sons. In the direction of her sons her
evil disposition was uncompromising, and her heart had a lugubrious wall
in that quarter. As the reader has seen, she detested the eldest; she
cursed the other two. Why? Because. The most terrible of motives, the
most unanswerable of retorts--Because. "I have no need of a litter of
squalling brats," said this mother.

Let us explain how the Thenardiers had succeeded in getting rid of their
last two children; and even in drawing profit from the operation.

The woman Magnon, who was mentioned a few pages further back, was the
same one who had succeeded in making old Gillenormand support the two
children which she had had. She lived on the Quai des Celestins, at the
corner of this ancient street of the Petit-Musc which afforded her the
opportunity of changing her evil repute into good odor. The reader will
remember the great epidemic of croup which ravaged the river districts
of the Seine in Paris thirty-five years ago, and of which science took
advantage to make experiments on a grand scale as to the efficacy of
inhalations of alum, so beneficially replaced at the present day by the
external tincture of iodine. During this epidemic, the Magnon lost both
her boys, who were still very young, one in the morning, the other
in the evening of the same day. This was a blow. These children were
precious to their mother; they represented eighty francs a month. These
eighty francs were punctually paid in the name of M. Gillenormand, by
collector of his rents, M. Barge, a retired tip-staff, in the Rue du
Roi-de-Sicile. The children dead, the income was at an end. The Magnon
sought an expedient. In that dark free-masonry of evil of which she
formed a part, everything is known, all secrets are kept, and all lend
mutual aid. Magnon needed two children; the Thenardiers had two.
The same sex, the same age. A good arrangement for the one, a good
investment for the other. The little Thenardiers became little Magnons.
Magnon quitted the Quai des Celestins and went to live in the Rue
Clocheperce. In Paris, the identity which binds an individual to himself
is broken between one street and another.

The registry office being in no way warned, raised no objections, and
the substitution was effected in the most simple manner in the world.
Only, the Thenardier exacted for this loan of her children, ten francs a
month, which Magnon promised to pay, and which she actually did pay.
It is unnecessary to add that M. Gillenormand continued to perform
his compact. He came to see the children every six months. He did not
perceive the change. "Monsieur," Magnon said to him, "how much they
resemble you!"

Thenardier, to whom avatars were easy, seized this occasion to become
Jondrette. His two daughters and Gavroche had hardly had time to
discover that they had two little brothers. When a certain degree
of misery is reached, one is overpowered with a sort of spectral
indifference, and one regards human beings as though they were spectres.
Your nearest relations are often no more for you than vague shadowy
forms, barely outlined against a nebulous background of life and easily
confounded again with the invisible.

On the evening of the day when she had handed over her two little
ones to Magnon, with express intention of renouncing them forever, the
Thenardier had felt, or had appeared to feel, a scruple. She said to her
husband: "But this is abandoning our children!" Thenardier, masterful
and phlegmatic, cauterized the scruple with this saying: "Jean Jacques
Rousseau did even better!" From scruples, the mother proceeded to
uneasiness: "But what if the police were to annoy us? Tell me, Monsieur
Thenardier, is what we have done permissible?" Thenardier replied:
"Everything is permissible. No one will see anything but true blue in
it. Besides, no one has any interest in looking closely after children
who have not a sou."

Magnon was a sort of fashionable woman in the sphere of crime. She was
careful about her toilet. She shared her lodgings, which were furnished
in an affected and wretched style, with a clever gallicized English
thief. This English woman, who had become a naturalized Parisienne,
recommended by very wealthy relations, intimately connected with the
medals in the Library and Mademoiselle Mar's diamonds, became celebrated
later on in judicial accounts. She was called Mamselle Miss.

The two little creatures who had fallen to Magnon had no reason to
complain of their lot. Recommended by the eighty francs, they were well
cared for, as is everything from which profit is derived; they were
neither badly clothed, nor badly fed; they were treated almost like
"little gentlemen,"--better by their false mother than by their real
one. Magnon played the lady, and talked no thieves' slang in their

Thus passed several years. Thenardier augured well from the fact. One
day, he chanced to say to Magnon as she handed him his monthly stipend
of ten francs: "The father must give them some education."

All at once, these two poor children, who had up to that time been
protected tolerably well, even by their evil fate, were abruptly hurled
into life and forced to begin it for themselves.

A wholesale arrest of malefactors, like that in the Jondrette garret,
necessarily complicated by investigations and subsequent incarcerations,
is a veritable disaster for that hideous and occult counter-society
which pursues its existence beneath public society; an adventure of this
description entails all sorts of catastrophes in that sombre world. The
Thenardier catastrophe involved the catastrophe of Magnon.

One day, a short time after Magnon had handed to Eponine the note
relating to the Rue Plumet, a sudden raid was made by the police in the
Rue Clocheperce; Magnon was seized, as was also Mamselle Miss; and all
the inhabitants of the house, which was of a suspicious character, were
gathered into the net. While this was going on, the two little boys were
playing in the back yard, and saw nothing of the raid. When they tried
to enter the house again, they found the door fastened and the house
empty. A cobbler opposite called them to him, and delivered to them a
paper which "their mother" had left for them. On this paper there was an
address: M. Barge, collector of rents, Rue du Roi-de-Sicile, No. 8. The
proprietor of the stall said to them: "You cannot live here any longer.
Go there. It is near by. The first street on the left. Ask your way from
this paper."

The children set out, the elder leading the younger, and holding in his
hand the paper which was to guide them. It was cold, and his benumbed
little fingers could not close very firmly, and they did not keep a very
good hold on the paper. At the corner of the Rue Clocheperce, a gust of
wind tore it from him, and as night was falling, the child was not able
to find it again.

They began to wander aimlessly through the streets.


Spring in Paris is often traversed by harsh and piercing breezes which
do not precisely chill but freeze one; these north winds which sadden
the most beautiful days produce exactly the effect of those puffs of
cold air which enter a warm room through the cracks of a badly fitting
door or window. It seems as though the gloomy door of winter had
remained ajar, and as though the wind were pouring through it. In the
spring of 1832, the epoch when the first great epidemic of this century
broke out in Europe, these north gales were more harsh and piercing
than ever. It was a door even more glacial than that of winter which
was ajar. It was the door of the sepulchre. In these winds one felt the
breath of the cholera.

From a meteorological point of view, these cold winds possessed this
peculiarity, that they did not preclude a strong electric tension.
Frequent storms, accompanied by thunder and lightning, burst forth at
this epoch.

One evening, when these gales were blowing rudely, to such a degree that
January seemed to have returned and that the bourgeois had resumed their
cloaks, Little Gavroche, who was always shivering gayly under his rags,
was standing as though in ecstasy before a wig-maker's shop in the
vicinity of the Orme-Saint-Gervais. He was adorned with a woman's
woollen shawl, picked up no one knows where, and which he had converted
into a neck comforter. Little Gavroche appeared to be engaged in intent
admiration of a wax bride, in a low-necked dress, and crowned with
orange-flowers, who was revolving in the window, and displaying her
smile to passers-by, between two argand lamps; but in reality, he was
taking an observation of the shop, in order to discover whether he
could not "prig" from the shop-front a cake of soap, which he would then
proceed to sell for a sou to a "hair-dresser" in the suburbs. He had
often managed to breakfast off of such a roll. He called his species of
work, for which he possessed special aptitude, "shaving barbers."

While contemplating the bride, and eyeing the cake of soap, he muttered
between his teeth: "Tuesday. It was not Tuesday. Was it Tuesday? Perhaps
it was Tuesday. Yes, it was Tuesday."

No one has ever discovered to what this monologue referred.

Yes, perchance, this monologue had some connection with the last
occasion on which he had dined, three days before, for it was now

The barber in his shop, which was warmed by a good stove, was shaving
a customer and casting a glance from time to time at the enemy, that
freezing and impudent street urchin both of whose hands were in his
pockets, but whose mind was evidently unsheathed.

While Gavroche was scrutinizing the shop-window and the cakes of windsor
soap, two children of unequal stature, very neatly dressed, and still
smaller than himself, one apparently about seven years of age, the other
five, timidly turned the handle and entered the shop, with a request for
something or other, alms possibly, in a plaintive murmur which resembled
a groan rather than a prayer. They both spoke at once, and their words
were unintelligible because sobs broke the voice of the younger, and the
teeth of the elder were chattering with cold. The barber wheeled round
with a furious look, and without abandoning his razor, thrust back the
elder with his left hand and the younger with his knee, and slammed
his door, saying: "The idea of coming in and freezing everybody for

The two children resumed their march in tears. In the meantime, a cloud
had risen; it had begun to rain.

Little Gavroche ran after them and accosted them:--

"What's the matter with you, brats?"

"We don't know where we are to sleep," replied the elder.

"Is that all?" said Gavroche. "A great matter, truly. The idea of
bawling about that. They must be greenies!"

And adopting, in addition to his superiority, which was rather
bantering, an accent of tender authority and gentle patronage:--

"Come along with me, young 'uns!"

"Yes, sir," said the elder.

And the two children followed him as they would have followed an
archbishop. They had stopped crying.

Gavroche led them up the Rue Saint-Antoine in the direction of the

As Gavroche walked along, he cast an indignant backward glance at the
barber's shop.

"That fellow has no heart, the whiting,"[35] he muttered. "He's an

A woman who caught sight of these three marching in a file, with
Gavroche at their head, burst into noisy laughter. This laugh was
wanting in respect towards the group.

"Good day, Mamselle Omnibus," said Gavroche to her.

An instant later, the wig-maker occurred to his mind once more, and he

"I am making a mistake in the beast; he's not a whiting, he's a serpent.
Barber, I'll go and fetch a locksmith, and I'll have a bell hung to your

This wig-maker had rendered him aggressive. As he strode over a gutter,
he apostrophized a bearded portress who was worthy to meet Faust on the
Brocken, and who had a broom in her hand.

"Madam," said he, "so you are going out with your horse?"

And thereupon, he spattered the polished boots of a pedestrian.

"You scamp!" shouted the furious pedestrian.

Gavroche elevated his nose above his shawl.

"Is Monsieur complaining?"

"Of you!" ejaculated the man.

"The office is closed," said Gavroche, "I do not receive any more

In the meanwhile, as he went on up the street, he perceived a
beggar-girl, thirteen or fourteen years old, and clad in so short a
gown that her knees were visible, lying thoroughly chilled under a
porte-cochere. The little girl was getting to be too old for such a
thing. Growth does play these tricks. The petticoat becomes short at the
moment when nudity becomes indecent.

"Poor girl!" said Gavroche. "She hasn't even trousers. Hold on, take

And unwinding all the comfortable woollen which he had around his neck,
he flung it on the thin and purple shoulders of the beggar-girl, where
the scarf became a shawl once more.

The child stared at him in astonishment, and received the shawl in
silence. When a certain stage of distress has been reached in his
misery, the poor man no longer groans over evil, no longer returns
thanks for good.

That done: "Brrr!" said Gavroche, who was shivering more than Saint
Martin, for the latter retained one-half of his cloak.

At this brrr! the downpour of rain, redoubled in its spite, became
furious. The wicked skies punish good deeds.

"Ah, come now!" exclaimed Gavroche, "what's the meaning of this? It's
re-raining! Good Heavens, if it goes on like this, I shall stop my

And he set out on the march once more.

"It's all right," he resumed, casting a glance at the beggar-girl, as
she coiled up under the shawl, "she's got a famous peel."

And looking up at the clouds he exclaimed:--


The two children followed close on his heels.

As they were passing one of these heavy grated lattices, which indicate
a baker's shop, for bread is put behind bars like gold, Gavroche turned

"Ah, by the way, brats, have we dined?"

"Monsieur," replied the elder, "we have had nothing to eat since this

"So you have neither father nor mother?" resumed Gavroche majestically.

"Excuse us, sir, we have a papa and a mamma, but we don't know where
they are."

"Sometimes that's better than knowing where they are," said Gavroche,
who was a thinker.

"We have been wandering about these two hours," continued the elder, "we
have hunted for things at the corners of the streets, but we have found

"I know," ejaculated Gavroche, "it's the dogs who eat everything."

He went on, after a pause:--

"Ah! we have lost our authors. We don't know what we have done with
them. This should not be, gamins. It's stupid to let old people stray
off like that. Come now! we must have a snooze all the same."

However, he asked them no questions. What was more simple than that they
should have no dwelling place!

The elder of the two children, who had almost entirely recovered the
prompt heedlessness of childhood, uttered this exclamation:--

"It's queer, all the same. Mamma told us that she would take us to get a
blessed spray on Palm Sunday."

"Bosh," said Gavroche.

"Mamma," resumed the elder, "is a lady who lives with Mamselle Miss."

"Tanflute!" retorted Gavroche.

Meanwhile he had halted, and for the last two minutes he had been
feeling and fumbling in all sorts of nooks which his rags contained.

At last he tossed his head with an air intended to be merely satisfied,
but which was triumphant, in reality.

"Let us be calm, young 'uns. Here's supper for three."

And from one of his pockets he drew forth a sou.

Without allowing the two urchins time for amazement, he pushed both of
them before him into the baker's shop, and flung his sou on the counter,

"Boy! five centimes' worth of bread."

The baker, who was the proprietor in person, took up a loaf and a knife.

"In three pieces, my boy!" went on Gavroche.

And he added with dignity:--

"There are three of us."

And seeing that the baker, after scrutinizing the three customers, had
taken down a black loaf, he thrust his finger far up his nose with
an inhalation as imperious as though he had had a pinch of the great
Frederick's snuff on the tip of his thumb, and hurled this indignant
apostrophe full in the baker's face:--


Those of our readers who might be tempted to espy in this interpellation
of Gavroche's to the baker a Russian or a Polish word, or one of those
savage cries which the Yoways and the Botocudos hurl at each other from
bank to bank of a river, athwart the solitudes, are warned that it is a
word which they [our readers] utter every day, and which takes the place
of the phrase: "Qu'est-ce que c'est que cela?" The baker understood
perfectly, and replied:--

"Well! It's bread, and very good bread of the second quality."

"You mean larton brutal [black bread]!" retorted Gavroche, calmly and
coldly disdainful. "White bread, boy! white bread [larton savonne]! I'm
standing treat."

The baker could not repress a smile, and as he cut the white bread he
surveyed them in a compassionate way which shocked Gavroche.

"Come, now, baker's boy!" said he, "what are you taking our measure like
that for?"

All three of them placed end to end would have hardly made a measure.

When the bread was cut, the baker threw the sou into his drawer, and
Gavroche said to the two children:--

"Grub away."

The little boys stared at him in surprise.

Gavroche began to laugh.

"Ah! hullo, that's so! they don't understand yet, they're too small."

And he repeated:--

"Eat away."

At the same time, he held out a piece of bread to each of them.

And thinking that the elder, who seemed to him the more worthy of
his conversation, deserved some special encouragement and ought to be
relieved from all hesitation to satisfy his appetite, he added, as be
handed him the largest share:--

"Ram that into your muzzle."

One piece was smaller than the others; he kept this for himself.

The poor children, including Gavroche, were famished. As they tore their
bread apart in big mouthfuls, they blocked up the shop of the baker,
who, now that they had paid their money, looked angrily at them.

"Let's go into the street again," said Gavroche.

They set off once more in the direction of the Bastille.

From time to time, as they passed the lighted shop-windows, the smallest
halted to look at the time on a leaden watch which was suspended from
his neck by a cord.

"Well, he is a very green 'un," said Gavroche.

Then, becoming thoughtful, he muttered between his teeth:--

"All the same, if I had charge of the babes I'd lock 'em up better than

Just as they were finishing their morsel of bread, and had reached the
angle of that gloomy Rue des Ballets, at the other end of which the low
and threatening wicket of La Force was visible:--

"Hullo, is that you, Gavroche?" said some one.

"Hullo, is that you, Montparnasse?" said Gavroche.

A man had just accosted the street urchin, and the man was no other
than Montparnasse in disguise, with blue spectacles, but recognizable to

"The bow-wows!" went on Gavroche, "you've got a hide the color of a
linseed plaster, and blue specs like a doctor. You're putting on style,
'pon my word!"

"Hush!" ejaculated Montparnasse, "not so loud."

And he drew Gavroche hastily out of range of the lighted shops.

The two little ones followed mechanically, holding each other by the

When they were ensconced under the arch of a portecochere, sheltered
from the rain and from all eyes:--

"Do you know where I'm going?" demanded Montparnasse.

"To the Abbey of Ascend-with-Regret,"[36] replied Gavroche.


And Montparnasse went on:--

"I'm going to find Babet."

"Ah!" exclaimed Gavroche, "so her name is Babet."

Montparnasse lowered his voice:--

"Not she, he."

"Ah! Babet."

"Yes, Babet."

"I thought he was buckled."

"He has undone the buckle," replied Montparnasse.

And he rapidly related to the gamin how, on the morning of that very
day, Babet, having been transferred to La Conciergerie, had made his
escape, by turning to the left instead of to the right in "the police

Gavroche expressed his admiration for this skill.

"What a dentist!" he cried.

Montparnasse added a few details as to Babet's flight, and ended with:--

"Oh! That's not all."

Gavroche, as he listened, had seized a cane that Montparnasse held in
his hand, and mechanically pulled at the upper part, and the blade of a
dagger made its appearance.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, pushing the dagger back in haste, "you have brought
along your gendarme disguised as a bourgeois."

Montparnasse winked.

"The deuce!" resumed Gavroche, "so you're going to have a bout with the

"You can't tell," replied Montparnasse with an indifferent air. "It's
always a good thing to have a pin about one."

Gavroche persisted:--

"What are you up to to-night?"

Again Montparnasse took a grave tone, and said, mouthing every syllable:

And abruptly changing the conversation:--

"By the way!"


"Something happened t'other day. Fancy. I meet a bourgeois. He makes
me a present of a sermon and his purse. I put it in my pocket. A minute
later, I feel in my pocket. There's nothing there."

"Except the sermon," said Gavroche.

"But you," went on Montparnasse, "where are you bound for now?"

Gavroche pointed to his two proteges, and said:--

"I'm going to put these infants to bed."

"Whereabouts is the bed?"

"At my house."

"Where's your house?"

"At my house."

"So you have a lodging?"

"Yes, I have."

"And where is your lodging?"

"In the elephant," said Gavroche.

Montparnasse, though not naturally inclined to astonishment, could not
restrain an exclamation.

"In the elephant!"

"Well, yes, in the elephant!" retorted Gavroche. "Kekcaa?"

This is another word of the language which no one writes, and which
every one speaks.

Kekcaa signifies: Quest que c'est que cela a? [What's the matter with

The urchin's profound remark recalled Montparnasse to calmness and
good sense. He appeared to return to better sentiments with regard to
Gavroche's lodging.

"Of course," said he, "yes, the elephant. Is it comfortable there?"

"Very," said Gavroche. "It's really bully there. There ain't any
draughts, as there are under the bridges."

"How do you get in?"

"Oh, I get in."

"So there is a hole?" demanded Montparnasse.

"Parbleu! I should say so. But you mustn't tell. It's between the fore
legs. The bobbies haven't seen it."

"And you climb up? Yes, I understand."

"A turn of the hand, cric, crac, and it's all over, no one there."

After a pause, Gavroche added:--

"I shall have a ladder for these children."

Montparnasse burst out laughing:--

"Where the devil did you pick up those young 'uns?"

Gavroche replied with great simplicity:--

"They are some brats that a wig-maker made me a present of."

Meanwhile, Montparnasse had fallen to thinking:--

"You recognized me very readily," he muttered.

He took from his pocket two small objects which were nothing more than
two quills wrapped in cotton, and thrust one up each of his nostrils.
This gave him a different nose.

"That changes you," remarked Gavroche, "you are less homely so, you
ought to keep them on all the time."

Montparnasse was a handsome fellow, but Gavroche was a tease.

"Seriously," demanded Montparnasse, "how do you like me so?"

The sound of his voice was different also. In a twinkling, Montparnasse
had become unrecognizable.

"Oh! Do play Porrichinelle for us!" exclaimed Gavroche.

The two children, who had not been listening up to this point, being
occupied themselves in thrusting their fingers up their noses, drew
near at this name, and stared at Montparnasse with dawning joy and

Unfortunately, Montparnasse was troubled.

He laid his hand on Gavroche's shoulder, and said to him, emphasizing
his words: "Listen to what I tell you, boy! if I were on the square with
my dog, my knife, and my wife, and if you were to squander ten sous on
me, I wouldn't refuse to work, but this isn't Shrove Tuesday."

This odd phrase produced a singular effect on the gamin. He wheeled
round hastily, darted his little sparkling eyes about him with profound
attention, and perceived a police sergeant standing with his back to
them a few paces off. Gavroche allowed an: "Ah! good!" to escape him,
but immediately suppressed it, and shaking Montparnasse's hand:--

"Well, good evening," said he, "I'm going off to my elephant with my
brats. Supposing that you should need me some night, you can come and
hunt me up there. I lodge on the entresol. There is no porter. You will
inquire for Monsieur Gavroche."

"Very good," said Montparnasse.

And they parted, Montparnasse betaking himself in the direction of
the Greve, and Gavroche towards the Bastille. The little one of five,
dragged along by his brother who was dragged by Gavroche, turned his
head back several times to watch "Porrichinelle" as he went.

The ambiguous phrase by means of which Montparnasse had warned Gavroche
of the presence of the policeman, contained no other talisman than
the assonance dig repeated five or six times in different forms. This
syllable, dig, uttered alone or artistically mingled with the words of
a phrase, means: "Take care, we can no longer talk freely." There was
besides, in Montparnasse's sentence, a literary beauty which was
lost upon Gavroche, that is mon dogue, ma dague et ma digue, a slang
expression of the Temple, which signifies my dog, my knife, and my wife,
greatly in vogue among clowns and the red-tails in the great century
when Moliere wrote and Callot drew.

Twenty years ago, there was still to be seen in the southwest corner of
the Place de la Bastille, near the basin of the canal, excavated in the
ancient ditch of the fortress-prison, a singular monument, which has
already been effaced from the memories of Parisians, and which deserved
to leave some trace, for it was the idea of a "member of the Institute,
the General-in-chief of the army of Egypt."

We say monument, although it was only a rough model. But this model
itself, a marvellous sketch, the grandiose skeleton of an idea of
Napoleon's, which successive gusts of wind have carried away and thrown,
on each occasion, still further from us, had become historical and had
acquired a certain definiteness which contrasted with its provisional
aspect. It was an elephant forty feet high, constructed of timber and
masonry, bearing on its back a tower which resembled a house, formerly
painted green by some dauber, and now painted black by heaven, the wind,
and time. In this deserted and unprotected corner of the place, the
broad brow of the colossus, his trunk, his tusks, his tower, his
enormous crupper, his four feet, like columns produced, at night, under
the starry heavens, a surprising and terrible form. It was a sort of
symbol of popular force. It was sombre, mysterious, and immense. It was
some mighty, visible phantom, one knew not what, standing erect beside
the invisible spectre of the Bastille.

Few strangers visited this edifice, no passer-by looked at it. It was
falling into ruins; every season the plaster which detached itself
from its sides formed hideous wounds upon it. "The aediles," as the
expression ran in elegant dialect, had forgotten it ever since 1814.
There it stood in its corner, melancholy, sick, crumbling, surrounded
by a rotten palisade, soiled continually by drunken coachmen; cracks
meandered athwart its belly, a lath projected from its tail, tall grass
flourished between its legs; and, as the level of the place had been
rising all around it for a space of thirty years, by that slow and
continuous movement which insensibly elevates the soil of large towns,
it stood in a hollow, and it looked as though the ground were giving way
beneath it. It was unclean, despised, repulsive, and superb, ugly in the
eyes of the bourgeois, melancholy in the eyes of the thinker. There was
something about it of the dirt which is on the point of being swept out,
and something of the majesty which is on the point of being decapitated.
As we have said, at night, its aspect changed. Night is the real element
of everything that is dark. As soon as twilight descended, the old
elephant became transfigured; he assumed a tranquil and redoubtable
appearance in the formidable serenity of the shadows. Being of the past,
he belonged to night; and obscurity was in keeping with his grandeur.

This rough, squat, heavy, hard, austere, almost misshapen, but assuredly
majestic monument, stamped with a sort of magnificent and savage
gravity, has disappeared, and left to reign in peace, a sort of gigantic
stove, ornamented with its pipe, which has replaced the sombre fortress
with its nine towers, very much as the bourgeoisie replaces the feudal
classes. It is quite natural that a stove should be the symbol of an
epoch in which a pot contains power. This epoch will pass away, people
have already begun to understand that, if there can be force in a
boiler, there can be no force except in the brain; in other words,
that which leads and drags on the world, is not locomotives, but ideas.
Harness locomotives to ideas,--that is well done; but do not mistake the
horse for the rider.

At all events, to return to the Place de la Bastille, the architect
of this elephant succeeded in making a grand thing out of plaster; the
architect of the stove has succeeded in making a pretty thing out of

This stove-pipe, which has been baptized by a sonorous name, and called
the column of July, this monument of a revolution that miscarried,
was still enveloped in 1832, in an immense shirt of woodwork, which we
regret, for our part, and by a vast plank enclosure, which completed the
task of isolating the elephant.

It was towards this corner of the place, dimly lighted by the reflection
of a distant street lamp, that the gamin guided his two "brats."

The reader must permit us to interrupt ourselves here and to remind him
that we are dealing with simple reality, and that twenty years ago, the
tribunals were called upon to judge, under the charge of vagabondage,
and mutilation of a public monument, a child who had been caught asleep
in this very elephant of the Bastille. This fact noted, we proceed.

On arriving in the vicinity of the colossus, Gavroche comprehended the
effect which the infinitely great might produce on the infinitely small,
and said:--

"Don't be scared, infants."

Then he entered through a gap in the fence into the elephant's enclosure
and helped the young ones to clamber through the breach. The two
children, somewhat frightened, followed Gavroche without uttering a
word, and confided themselves to this little Providence in rags which
had given them bread and had promised them a shelter.

There, extended along the fence, lay a ladder which by day served
the laborers in the neighboring timber-yard. Gavroche raised it with
remarkable vigor, and placed it against one of the elephant's forelegs.
Near the point where the ladder ended, a sort of black hole in the belly
of the colossus could be distinguished.

Gavroche pointed out the ladder and the hole to his guests, and said to

"Climb up and go in."

The two little boys exchanged terrified glances.

"You're afraid, brats!" exclaimed Gavroche.

And he added:--

"You shall see!"

He clasped the rough leg of the elephant, and in a twinkling, without
deigning to make use of the ladder, he had reached the aperture. He
entered it as an adder slips through a crevice, and disappeared within,
and an instant later, the two children saw his head, which looked pale,
appear vaguely, on the edge of the shadowy hole, like a wan and whitish

"Well!" he exclaimed, "climb up, young 'uns! You'll see how snug it is
here! Come up, you!" he said to the elder, "I'll lend you a hand."

The little fellows nudged each other, the gamin frightened and inspired
them with confidence at one and the same time, and then, it was raining
very hard. The elder one undertook the risk. The younger, on seeing his
brother climbing up, and himself left alone between the paws of this
huge beast, felt greatly inclined to cry, but he did not dare.

The elder lad climbed, with uncertain steps, up the rungs of the ladder;
Gavroche, in the meanwhile, encouraging him with exclamations like a
fencing-master to his pupils, or a muleteer to his mules.

"Don't be afraid!--That's it!--Come on!--Put your feet there!--Give us
your hand here!--Boldly!"

And when the child was within reach, he seized him suddenly and
vigorously by the arm, and pulled him towards him.

"Nabbed!" said he.

The brat had passed through the crack.

"Now," said Gavroche, "wait for me. Be so good as to take a seat,

And making his way out of the hole as he had entered it, he slipped down
the elephant's leg with the agility of a monkey, landed on his feet in
the grass, grasped the child of five round the body, and planted him
fairly in the middle of the ladder, then he began to climb up behind
him, shouting to the elder:--

"I'm going to boost him, do you tug."

And in another instant, the small lad was pushed, dragged, pulled,
thrust, stuffed into the hole, before he had time to recover himself,
and Gavroche, entering behind him, and repulsing the ladder with a kick
which sent it flat on the grass, began to clap his hands and to cry:--

"Here we are! Long live General Lafayette!"

This explosion over, he added:--

"Now, young 'uns, you are in my house."

Gavroche was at home, in fact.

Oh, unforeseen utility of the useless! Charity of great things! Goodness
of giants! This huge monument, which had embodied an idea of the
Emperor's, had become the box of a street urchin. The brat had been
accepted and sheltered by the colossus. The bourgeois decked out in
their Sunday finery who passed the elephant of the Bastille, were fond
of saying as they scanned it disdainfully with their prominent eyes:
"What's the good of that?" It served to save from the cold, the frost,
the hail, and rain, to shelter from the winds of winter, to preserve
from slumber in the mud which produces fever, and from slumber in the
snow which produces death, a little being who had no father, no mother,
no bread, no clothes, no refuge. It served to receive the innocent whom
society repulsed. It served to diminish public crime. It was a lair
open to one against whom all doors were shut. It seemed as though the
miserable old mastodon, invaded by vermin and oblivion, covered with
warts, with mould, and ulcers, tottering, worm-eaten, abandoned,
condemned, a sort of mendicant colossus, asking alms in vain with a
benevolent look in the midst of the cross-roads, had taken pity on that
other mendicant, the poor pygmy, who roamed without shoes to his feet,
without a roof over his head, blowing on his fingers, clad in rags, fed
on rejected scraps. That was what the elephant of the Bastille was good
for. This idea of Napoleon, disdained by men, had been taken back by
God. That which had been merely illustrious, had become august. In order
to realize his thought, the Emperor should have had porphyry, brass,
iron, gold, marble; the old collection of planks, beams and plaster
sufficed for God. The Emperor had had the dream of a genius; in that
Titanic elephant, armed, prodigious, with trunk uplifted, bearing its
tower and scattering on all sides its merry and vivifying waters, he
wished to incarnate the people. God had done a grander thing with it, he
had lodged a child there.

The hole through which Gavroche had entered was a breach which was
hardly visible from the outside, being concealed, as we have stated,
beneath the elephant's belly, and so narrow that it was only cats and
homeless children who could pass through it.

"Let's begin," said Gavroche, "by telling the porter that we are not at

And plunging into the darkness with the assurance of a person who is
well acquainted with his apartments, he took a plank and stopped up the

Again Gavroche plunged into the obscurity. The children heard the
crackling of the match thrust into the phosphoric bottle. The chemical
match was not yet in existence; at that epoch the Fumade steel
represented progress.

A sudden light made them blink; Gavroche had just managed to ignite one
of those bits of cord dipped in resin which are called cellar rats. The
cellar rat, which emitted more smoke than light, rendered the interior
of the elephant confusedly visible.

Gavroche's two guests glanced about them, and the sensation which they
experienced was something like that which one would feel if shut up in
the great tun of Heidelberg, or, better still, like what Jonah must have
felt in the biblical belly of the whale. An entire and gigantic skeleton
appeared enveloping them. Above, a long brown beam, whence started at
regular distances, massive, arching ribs, represented the vertebral
column with its sides, stalactites of plaster depended from them like
entrails, and vast spiders' webs stretching from side to side, formed
dirty diaphragms. Here and there, in the corners, were visible large
blackish spots which had the appearance of being alive, and which
changed places rapidly with an abrupt and frightened movement.

Fragments which had fallen from the elephant's back into his belly had
filled up the cavity, so that it was possible to walk upon it as on a

The smaller child nestled up against his brother, and whispered to

"It's black."

This remark drew an exclamation from Gavroche. The petrified air of the
two brats rendered some shock necessary.

"What's that you are gabbling about there?" he exclaimed. "Are
you scoffing at me? Are you turning up your noses? Do you want the
tuileries? Are you brutes? Come, say! I warn you that I don't belong to
the regiment of simpletons. Ah, come now, are you brats from the Pope's

A little roughness is good in cases of fear. It is reassuring. The two
children drew close to Gavroche.

Gavroche, paternally touched by this confidence, passed from grave to
gentle, and addressing the smaller:--

"Stupid," said he, accenting the insulting word, with a caressing
intonation, "it's outside that it is black. Outside it's raining, here
it does not rain; outside it's cold, here there's not an atom of wind;
outside there are heaps of people, here there's no one; outside there
ain't even the moon, here there's my candle, confound it!"

The two children began to look upon the apartment with less terror; but
Gavroche allowed them no more time for contemplation.

"Quick," said he.

And he pushed them towards what we are very glad to be able to call the
end of the room.

There stood his bed.

Gavroche's bed was complete; that is to say, it had a mattress, a
blanket, and an alcove with curtains.

The mattress was a straw mat, the blanket a rather large strip of
gray woollen stuff, very warm and almost new. This is what the alcove
consisted of:--

Three rather long poles, thrust into and consolidated, with the rubbish
which formed the floor, that is to say, the belly of the elephant, two
in front and one behind, and united by a rope at their summits, so as to
form a pyramidal bundle. This cluster supported a trellis-work of brass
wire which was simply placed upon it, but artistically applied, and held
by fastenings of iron wire, so that it enveloped all three holes. A row
of very heavy stones kept this network down to the floor so that nothing
could pass under it. This grating was nothing else than a piece of the
brass screens with which aviaries are covered in menageries. Gavroche's
bed stood as in a cage, behind this net. The whole resembled an
Esquimaux tent.

This trellis-work took the place of curtains.

Gavroche moved aside the stones which fastened the net down in front,
and the two folds of the net which lapped over each other fell apart.

"Down on all fours, brats!" said Gavroche.

He made his guests enter the cage with great precaution, then he crawled
in after them, pulled the stones together, and closed the opening
hermetically again.

All three had stretched out on the mat. Gavroche still had the cellar
rat in his hand.

"Now," said he, "go to sleep! I'm going to suppress the candelabra."

"Monsieur," the elder of the brothers asked Gavroche, pointing to the
netting, "what's that for?"

"That," answered Gavroche gravely, "is for the rats. Go to sleep!"

Nevertheless, he felt obliged to add a few words of instruction for the
benefit of these young creatures, and he continued:--

"It's a thing from the Jardin des Plantes. It's used for fierce animals.
There's a whole shopful of them there. All you've got to do is to climb
over a wall, crawl through a window, and pass through a door. You can
get as much as you want."

As he spoke, he wrapped the younger one up bodily in a fold of the
blanket, and the little one murmured:--

"Oh! how good that is! It's warm!"

Gavroche cast a pleased eye on the blanket.

"That's from the Jardin des Plantes, too," said he. "I took that from
the monkeys."

And, pointing out to the eldest the mat on which he was lying, a very
thick and admirably made mat, he added:--

"That belonged to the giraffe."

After a pause he went on:--

"The beasts had all these things. I took them away from them. It didn't
trouble them. I told them: 'It's for the elephant.'"

He paused, and then resumed:--

"You crawl over the walls and you don't care a straw for the government.
So there now!"

The two children gazed with timid and stupefied respect on this
intrepid and ingenious being, a vagabond like themselves, isolated
like themselves, frail like themselves, who had something admirable
and all-powerful about him, who seemed supernatural to them, and whose
physiognomy was composed of all the grimaces of an old mountebank,
mingled with the most ingenuous and charming smiles.

"Monsieur," ventured the elder timidly, "you are not afraid of the
police, then?"

Gavroche contented himself with replying:--

"Brat! Nobody says 'police,' they say 'bobbies.'"

The smaller had his eyes wide open, but he said nothing. As he was on
the edge of the mat, the elder being in the middle, Gavroche tucked the
blanket round him as a mother might have done, and heightened the mat
under his head with old rags, in such a way as to form a pillow for the
child. Then he turned to the elder:--

"Hey! We're jolly comfortable here, ain't we?"

"Ah, yes!" replied the elder, gazing at Gavroche with the expression of
a saved angel.

The two poor little children who had been soaked through, began to grow
warm once more.

"Ah, by the way," continued Gavroche, "what were you bawling about?"

And pointing out the little one to his brother:--

"A mite like that, I've nothing to say about, but the idea of a big
fellow like you crying! It's idiotic; you looked like a calf."

"Gracious," replied the child, "we have no lodging."

"Bother!" retorted Gavroche, "you don't say 'lodgings,' you say 'crib.'"

"And then, we were afraid of being alone like that at night."

"You don't say 'night,' you say 'darkmans.'"

"Thank you, sir," said the child.

"Listen," went on Gavroche, "you must never bawl again over anything.
I'll take care of you. You shall see what fun we'll have. In summer,
we'll go to the Glaciere with Navet, one of my pals, we'll bathe in
the Gare, we'll run stark naked in front of the rafts on the bridge at
Austerlitz,--that makes the laundresses raging. They scream, they get
mad, and if you only knew how ridiculous they are! We'll go and see the
man-skeleton. And then I'll take you to the play. I'll take you to see
Frederick Lemaitre. I have tickets, I know some of the actors, I even
played in a piece once. There were a lot of us fellers, and we ran
under a cloth, and that made the sea. I'll get you an engagement at my
theatre. We'll go to see the savages. They ain't real, those savages
ain't. They wear pink tights that go all in wrinkles, and you can see
where their elbows have been darned with white. Then, we'll go to the
Opera. We'll get in with the hired applauders. The Opera claque is well
managed. I wouldn't associate with the claque on the boulevard. At the
Opera, just fancy! some of them pay twenty sous, but they're ninnies.
They're called dishclouts. And then we'll go to see the guillotine work.
I'll show you the executioner. He lives in the Rue des Marais. Monsieur
Sanson. He has a letter-box at his door. Ah! we'll have famous fun!"

At that moment a drop of wax fell on Gavroche's finger, and recalled him
to the realities of life.

"The deuce!" said he, "there's the wick giving out. Attention! I can't
spend more than a sou a month on my lighting. When a body goes to bed,
he must sleep. We haven't the time to read M. Paul de Kock's
romances. And besides, the light might pass through the cracks of the
porte-cochere, and all the bobbies need to do is to see it."

"And then," remarked the elder timidly,--he alone dared talk to
Gavroche, and reply to him, "a spark might fall in the straw, and we
must look out and not burn the house down."

"People don't say 'burn the house down,'" remarked Gavroche, "they say
'blaze the crib.'"

The storm increased in violence, and the heavy downpour beat upon the
back of the colossus amid claps of thunder. "You're taken in, rain!"
said Gavroche. "It amuses me to hear the decanter run down the legs of
the house. Winter is a stupid; it wastes its merchandise, it loses
its labor, it can't wet us, and that makes it kick up a row, old
water-carrier that it is."

This allusion to the thunder, all the consequences of which Gavroche, in
his character of a philosopher of the nineteenth century, accepted, was
followed by a broad flash of lightning, so dazzling that a hint of it
entered the belly of the elephant through the crack. Almost at the same
instant, the thunder rumbled with great fury. The two little creatures
uttered a shriek, and started up so eagerly that the network came near
being displaced, but Gavroche turned his bold face to them, and took
advantage of the clap of thunder to burst into a laugh.

"Calm down, children. Don't topple over the edifice. That's fine,
first-class thunder; all right. That's no slouch of a streak of
lightning. Bravo for the good God! Deuce take it! It's almost as good as
it is at the Ambigu."

That said, he restored order in the netting, pushed the two children
gently down on the bed, pressed their knees, in order to stretch them
out at full length, and exclaimed:--

"Since the good God is lighting his candle, I can blow out mine. Now,
babes, now, my young humans, you must shut your peepers. It's very bad
not to sleep. It'll make you swallow the strainer, or, as they say, in
fashionable society, stink in the gullet. Wrap yourself up well in the
hide! I'm going to put out the light. Are you ready?"

"Yes," murmured the elder, "I'm all right. I seem to have feathers under
my head."

"People don't say 'head,'" cried Gavroche, "they say 'nut'."

The two children nestled close to each other, Gavroche finished
arranging them on the mat, drew the blanket up to their very ears, then
repeated, for the third time, his injunction in the hieratical tongue:--

"Shut your peepers!"

And he snuffed out his tiny light.

Hardly had the light been extinguished, when a peculiar trembling began
to affect the netting under which the three children lay.

It consisted of a multitude of dull scratches which produced a metallic
sound, as if claws and teeth were gnawing at the copper wire. This was
accompanied by all sorts of little piercing cries.

The little five-year-old boy, on hearing this hubbub overhead, and
chilled with terror, jogged his brother's elbow; but the elder brother
had already shut his peepers, as Gavroche had ordered. Then the little
one, who could no longer control his terror, questioned Gavroche, but in
a very low tone, and with bated breath:--


"Hey?" said Gavroche, who had just closed his eyes.

"What is that?"

"It's the rats," replied Gavroche.

And he laid his head down on the mat again.

The rats, in fact, who swarmed by thousands in the carcass of the
elephant, and who were the living black spots which we have already
mentioned, had been held in awe by the flame of the candle, so long as
it had been lighted; but as soon as the cavern, which was the same
as their city, had returned to darkness, scenting what the good
story-teller Perrault calls "fresh meat," they had hurled themselves in
throngs on Gavroche's tent, had climbed to the top of it, and had begun
to bite the meshes as though seeking to pierce this new-fangled trap.

Still the little one could not sleep.

"Sir?" he began again.

"Hey?" said Gavroche.

"What are rats?"

"They are mice."

This explanation reassured the child a little. He had seen white mice in
the course of his life, and he was not afraid of them. Nevertheless, he
lifted up his voice once more.


"Hey?" said Gavroche again.

"Why don't you have a cat?"

"I did have one," replied Gavroche, "I brought one here, but they ate

This second explanation undid the work of the first, and the little
fellow began to tremble again.

The dialogue between him and Gavroche began again for the fourth time:--



"Who was it that was eaten?"

"The cat."

"And who ate the cat?"

"The rats."

"The mice?"

"Yes, the rats."

The child, in consternation, dismayed at the thought of mice which ate
cats, pursued:--

"Sir, would those mice eat us?"

"Wouldn't they just!" ejaculated Gavroche.

The child's terror had reached its climax. But Gavroche added:--

"Don't be afraid. They can't get in. And besides, I'm here! Here, catch
hold of my hand. Hold your tongue and shut your peepers!"

At the same time Gavroche grasped the little fellow's hand across his
brother. The child pressed the hand close to him, and felt reassured.
Courage and strength have these mysterious ways of communicating
themselves. Silence reigned round them once more, the sound of their
voices had frightened off the rats; at the expiration of a few minutes,
they came raging back, but in vain, the three little fellows were fast
asleep and heard nothing more.

The hours of the night fled away. Darkness covered the vast Place de la
Bastille. A wintry gale, which mingled with the rain, blew in gusts, the
patrol searched all the doorways, alleys, enclosures, and obscure nooks,
and in their search for nocturnal vagabonds they passed in silence
before the elephant; the monster, erect, motionless, staring open-eyed
into the shadows, had the appearance of dreaming happily over his good
deed; and sheltered from heaven and from men the three poor sleeping

In order to understand what is about to follow, the reader must
remember, that, at that epoch, the Bastille guard-house was situated at
the other end of the square, and that what took place in the vicinity of
the elephant could neither be seen nor heard by the sentinel.

Towards the end of that hour which immediately precedes the dawn, a
man turned from the Rue Saint-Antoine at a run, made the circuit of the
enclosure of the column of July, and glided between the palings until he
was underneath the belly of the elephant. If any light had illuminated
that man, it might have been divined from the thorough manner in which
he was soaked that he had passed the night in the rain. Arrived beneath
the elephant, he uttered a peculiar cry, which did not belong to any
human tongue, and which a paroquet alone could have imitated. Twice he
repeated this cry, of whose orthography the following barely conveys an


At the second cry, a clear, young, merry voice responded from the belly
of the elephant:--


Almost immediately, the plank which closed the hole was drawn aside,
and gave passage to a child who descended the elephant's leg, and fell
briskly near the man. It was Gavroche. The man was Montparnasse.

As for his cry of Kirikikiou,--that was, doubtless, what the child had
meant, when he said:--

"You will ask for Monsieur Gavroche."

On hearing it, he had waked with a start, had crawled out of his
"alcove," pushing apart the netting a little, and carefully drawing it
together again, then he had opened the trap, and descended.

The man and the child recognized each other silently amid the gloom:
Montparnasse confined himself to the remark:--

"We need you. Come, lend us a hand."

The lad asked for no further enlightenment.

"I'm with you," said he.

And both took their way towards the Rue Saint-Antoine, whence
Montparnasse had emerged, winding rapidly through the long file of
market-gardeners' carts which descend towards the markets at that hour.

The market-gardeners, crouching, half-asleep, in their wagons, amid the
salads and vegetables, enveloped to their very eyes in their mufflers
on account of the beating rain, did not even glance at these strange