By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Les Misérables, v. 5-5 - Fantine - Cosette - Marius - The Idyll and the Epic - Jean Valjean
Author: Hugo, Victor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Les Misérables, v. 5-5 - Fantine - Cosette - Marius - The Idyll and the Epic - Jean Valjean" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made
available by the Hathi Trust.)










[Illustration: The Death of Jean Valjean]



        BOOK I.


          X. DAWN

        BOOK II.



        BOOK III.

        MUD, BUT SOUL.

         VI. THE FONTIS

        BOOK IV.


        BOOK V.



        BOOK VI.


          I. FEBRUARY 16, 1833

        BOOK VII.



        BOOK VIII.



        BOOK IX.




Drawn by G. Jeanniot.

Drawn by G. Jeanniot.






The two most memorable barricades which the observer of social diseases
can mention do not belong to the period in which the action of this
book is laid. These two barricades, both symbols under different
aspects of a formidable situation, emerged from the earth during the
fatal insurrection of June, 1848, the greatest street-war which history
has seen. It happens sometimes that the canaille, that great despairing
crowd, contrary to principles, even contrary to liberty, equality, and
fraternity, even contrary to the universal vote, the government of all
by all, protests, in the depths of its agony, its discouragement, its
destitution, its fevers, its distresses, its miasmas, its ignorance,
and its darkness, and the populace offers battle to the people. The
beggars attack the common right, the ochlocracy rises in insurrection
against the demos. Those are mournful days; for there is always a
certain amount of right even in this mania, there is suicide in this
duel, and these words, intended to be insults, such as beggars,
canaille, ochlocracy, and populace, prove, alas! rather the fault
of those who reign than the fault of those who suffer; rather the
fault of the privileged than the fault of the disinherited. For our
part, we never pronounce these words without grief and respect, for
when philosophy probes the facts with which they correspond it often
finds much grandeur by the side of misery. Athens was an ochlocracy;
the beggars produced Holland; the populace more than once saved
Rome; and the canaille followed the Saviour. There is no thinker who
has not at times contemplated the magnificence below. Saint Jerome
doubtless thought of this canaille, of all these poor people, all these
vagabonds, and all the wretches whence the apostles and martyrs issued,
when he uttered the mysterious words,--"Fex urbis, lux orbis."

The exasperations of this mob, which suffers and which bleeds, its
unwilling violence against the principles which are its life, its
assaults upon the right, are popular coups d'état, and must be
repressed. The just man devotes himself, and through love for this
very mob, combats it. But how excusable he finds it while resisting
it; how he venerates it, even while opposing it! It is one of those
rare moments in which a man while doing his duty feels something that
disconcerts him, and almost dissuades him from going further; he
persists, and must do so, but the satisfied conscience is sad, and
the accomplishment of the duty is complicated by a contraction of the
heart. June, 1848, was, let us hasten to say, a separate fact, and
almost impossible to classify in the philosophy of history. All the
words we have uttered must be laid aside when we have to deal with
this extraordinary riot, in which the holy anxiety of labor claiming
its right was felt. It must be combated, and it was a duty to do so,
for it attacked the Republic; but, in reality, what was June, 1848?
A revolt of the people against itself. When the subject is not left
out of sight there is no digression, and hence we may be permitted to
concentrate the reader's attention momentarily upon the two absolutely
unique barricades to which we have alluded, and which characterized
this insurrection. The one blocked up the entrance to the Faubourg St.
Antoine, the other defended the approaches to the Faubourg du Temple;
those before whom these two frightful masterpieces of civil war were
raised in the dazzling June sun will never forget them.

The St. Antoine barricade was monstrous; it was three stories high and
seven hundred feet in width. It barred from one corner to the other the
vast mouth of the faubourg, that is to say, three streets; ravined,
slashed, serrated, surmounted by an immense jagged line, supported
by masses which were themselves bastions, pushing out capes here and
there, and powerfully reinforced by the two great promontories of the
houses of the faubourg, it rose like a Cyclopean wall at the back of
the formidable square which had seen July 14. There were nineteen
barricades erected in the streets behind the mother barricade; but, on
seeing it, you felt in the faubourg the immense agonizing suffering
which had reached that extreme stage in which misery desires to come
to a catastrophe. Of what was this barricade made? Of the tumbling in
of three six-storied houses demolished on purpose, say some; of the
prodigy of all the passions, say others. It possessed the lamentable
aspect of all the buildings of hatred, ruin. You might ask who
built this, and you might also ask who destroyed this. It was the
improvisation of the ebullition. Here with that door, that grating,
that awning, that chimney, that broken stove, that cracked stewpan!
Give us anything! Throw everything in! Push, roll, pick, dismantle,
overthrow, and pull down everything! It was a collaboration of the
pavement-stones, beams, iron bars, planks, broken windows, unseated
chairs, cabbage-stalks, rags, tatters, and curses. It was great and it
was little; it was the abyss parodied on the square by the hurly-burly.
It was the mass side by side with the atom, a pulled-down wall and a
broken pipkin, a menacing fraternization of all fragments, into which
Sisyphus had cast his rock and Job his potsherds. Altogether it was
terrible,--it was the acropolis of the barefooted. Overturned carts
studded the slope; an immense wagon spread out across it, with its
wheels to the sky, and looked like a scar on this tumultuous façade; an
omnibus gayly hoisted by strength of arm to the very top of the pile,
as if the architects of this savage edifice had wished to add mockery
to the horror, offered its bare pole to the horses of the air. This
gigantic mound, the alluvium of the riot, represented to the mind an
Ossa upon Pelion of all revolutions,--'93 upon '89, the 9th Thermidor
upon the 10th August, the 18th Brumaire upon January 21st, Vendémiaire
upon Prairial, 1848 upon 1830. The place was worth the trouble, and
this barricade was worthy of appearing upon the very spot whence the
Bastille had disappeared. If the ocean made dykes it would build them
in this way, and the fury of the tide was stamped on this shapeless
encumbrance. What tide? The multitude. You fancied that you saw a
petrified riot, and heard the enormous dark bees of violent progress
humming about this barricade as if they had their hive there. Was it a
thicket? Was it a Bacchanalian feast? Was it a fortress? Vertigo seemed
to have built it with the flapping of its wings! There was a sewer in
this redoubt, and something Olympian in this mass. You saw there in a
confused heap, full of desperation, gables of roofs, pieces of garrets
with their painted paper, window-frames with all their panes planted
in the rubbish and awaiting the cannon, pulled-down mantelpieces,
chests of drawers, tables, benches, a howling topsy-turvy, and those
thousand wretched things cast away even by a beggar which contain at
once fury and nothingness. It may be said that it was the rags of a
people, rags of wood, of iron, of bronze, of stone; that the Faubourg
St. Antoine had swept them to their door with a gigantic broom, and
made a barricade of their misery. Logs resembling executioners' blocks,
disjointed chains, anvil-frames of the shape of gallows, horizontal
wheels emerging from the heap, produced on this edifice of anarchy the
representation of the old punishment suffered by the people. The St.
Antoine barricade made a weapon of everything. All that civil war can
throw at the head of society came from it; it was not a fight but a
paroxysm: the muskets which defended this redoubt, among which were
several blunderbusses, discharged stones, bones, coat-buttons, and even
the casters of night-commodes, very dangerous owing to the copper.
This barricade was furious; it hurled an indescribable clamor into the
clouds; at certain moments when challenging the army it was covered
with a crowd and a tempest; it had a prickly crest of guns, sabres,
sticks, axes, pikes, and bayonets; a mighty red flag fluttered upon
it in the breeze, and the cries of command, the songs of attack, the
rolling of the drum, the sobs of women, and the sardonic laughter of
men dying of starvation could be heard there. It was immeasurable and
living, and a flash of lightning issued from it as from the back of an
electric animal. The spirit of revolution covered with its cloud this
summit, where that voice of the people which resembles the voice of God
was growling, and a strange majesty was disengaged from this Titanic
mass of stones. It was a dungheap, and it was Sinai.

As we said above, it attacked in the name of the revolution--what?
The revolution. It, this barricade, an accident, a disorder, a
misunderstanding, an unknown thing, had, facing it, the constituent
assembly, the sovereignty of the people, universal suffrage,
the nation, the republic: and it was the Carmagnole defying the
Marseillaise. A mad defiance, but heroic, for this old faubourg is a
hero. The faubourg and its redoubt supported each other; the faubourg
rested on the redoubt, and the redoubt backed against the faubourg.
The vast barricade was like a cliff against which the strategy of the
African generals was broken. Its caverns, its excrescences, its warts,
its humps, made grimaces, if we may employ the expression, and grinned
behind the smoke. The grape-shot vanished in the shapeless heap; shells
buried themselves in it and were swallowed up; cannon-balls only
succeeded in forming holes, for of what use is it bombarding chaos? And
the regiments, accustomed to the sternest visions of war, gazed with
anxious eye at this species of wild-beast redoubt, which was a boar
through its bristling and a mountain through its enormity.

A quarter of a league farther on, at the corner of the Rue du Temple,
which debouches on the boulevard near the Chateau d'Eau, if you boldly
advanced your head beyond the point formed by the projection of the
magazine Dallemagne, you could see in the distance across the canal,
and at the highest point of the ascent to Belleville, a strange wall
rising to the second floor and forming a sort of connecting link
between the houses on the right and those on the left, as if the
street had folded back its highest wall in order to close itself up.
This was built of paving-stones; it was tall, straight, correct, cold,
perpendicular, and levelled with the plumb-line and the square; of
course there was no cement, but, as in some Roman walls, this in no
way disturbed its rigid architecture. From its height, its thickness
could be guessed, for the entablature was mathematically parallel
to the basement At regular distances almost invisible loopholes,
resembling black threads, could be distinguished in the gray wall,
separated from each other by equal intervals. This street was deserted
throughout its length, and all the windows and doors were closed. In
the background rose this bar, which converted the street into a blind
alley; it was a motionless and tranquil wall; no one was seen, nothing
was heard, not a cry, nor a sound, nor a breath. It was a sepulchre.
The dazzling June sun inundated this terrible thing with light,--it
was the barricade of the Faubourg du Temple. So soon as you reached
the ground and perceived it, it was impossible even for the boldest
not to become pensive in the presence of this mysterious apparition.
It was adjusted, clamped, imbricated, rectilinear, symmetrical, and
funereal; science and darkness were there. You felt that the chief of
this barricade was a geometrician or a spectre, and as you gazed you
spoke in a whisper. From time to time if any one--private, officer,
or representative of the people--ventured to cross the solitary road,
a shrill faint whistling was heard, and the passer-by fell wounded or
dead; or, if he escaped, a bullet could be seen to bury itself in some
shutter, or the stucco of the wall. Sometimes it was a grape-shot,
for the man of the barricade had made out of gas-pipes, stopped up
at one end with tow and clay, two small cannon. There was no useless
expenditure of gunpowder, and nearly every shot told. There were a
few corpses here and there, and patches of blood on the pavement. I
remember a white butterfly that fluttered up and down the street;
summer does not abdicate. All the gateways in the vicinity were crowded
with corpses, and you felt in this street that you were covered by
some one you could not see, and that the whole street was under the
marksman's aim.

The soldiers of the attacking column, massed behind the species of
ridge which the canal bridge forms at the entrance of the Faubourg du
Temple, watched gravely and thoughtfully this mournful redoubt, this
immobility, this impassiveness, from which death issued. Some crawled
on their stomachs to the top of the pitch of the bridge, while careful
not to let their shakos pass beyond it. Brave Colonel Monteynard
admired this barricade with a tremor. "How it is built," he said to a
representative; "not a single paving-stone projects beyond the other.
It is made of porcelain." At this moment a bullet smashed the cross
on his chest and he fell. "The cowards!" the troops shouted, "Why do
they not show themselves? They dare not! They hide!" The barricade of
the Faubourg du Temple, defended by eighty men and attacked by ten
thousand, held out for three days, and on the fourth day the troops
acted as they had done at Zaatcha and Constantine,--they broke through
houses, passed along roofs, and the barricade was taken. Not one of the
eighty cowards dreamed of flying; all were killed with the exception of
Barthélemy, the chief, to whom we shall allude directly. The barricade
of St. Antoine was the tumult of the thunder; the barricade of the
Temple was the silence. There was between the two barricades the same
difference as exists between the formidable and the sinister. The one
seemed a throat, the other a mask. Admitting that the gigantic and dark
insurrection of June was composed of a fury and an enigma, the dragon
was seen in the first barricade and the sphinx behind the second.

These two fortresses were built by two men, Cournet and Barthélemy:
Cournet made the St. Antoine barricade, Barthélemy the Temple
barricade, and each of them was the image of the man who built it.
Cournet was a man of tall stature; he had wide shoulders, a red face, a
smashing fist, a brave heart, a loyal soul, a sincere and terrible eye.
He was intrepid, energetic, irascible, and stormy; the most cordial
of men, and the most formidable of combatants. War, contest, medley
were the air he breathed, and put him in good temper. He had been an
officer in the navy, and from his gestures and his voice it could be
divined that he issued from the ocean and came from the tempest; he
continued the hurricane in battle. Omitting the genius, there was in
Cournet something of Danton, as, omitting the divinity, there was
in Danton something of Hercules. Barthélemy, thin, weak, pale, and
taciturn, was a species of tragical gamin, who, having been struck by
a policeman, watched for him, waited for him, and killed him, and at
the age of seventeen was sent to the galleys. He came out and built
this barricade. At a later date, when both were exiles in London,
Barthélemy killed Cournet: it was a melancholy duel. Some time after
that, Barthélemy, caught in the cog-wheels of one of those mysterious
adventures in which passion is mingled, catastrophes in which French
justice sees extenuating circumstances and English justice only sees
death, was hanged. The gloomy social edifice is so built that, owing to
maternal denudation and moral darkness, this wretched being, who had
had an intellect, certainly firm and possibly great, began with the
galleys in France and ended with the gibbet in England. Barthélemy only
hoisted one flag,--it was the black one.



Sixteen years count in the subterranean education of revolt, and June,
1848, knew a great deal more than June, 1832. Hence the barricade in
the Rue de la Chanvrerie was only a sketch and an embryo when compared
with the two colossal barricades which we have just described; but
for the period it was formidable. The insurgents, under the eye of
Enjolras,--for Marius no longer looked at anything,--had turned the
night to good account: the barricade had not only been repaired but
increased. It had been raised two feet, and iron bars planted in the
paving-stones resembled lances in rest. All sorts of rubbish, added and
brought from all sides, complicated the external confusion, and the
redoubt had been cleverly converted into a wall inside and a thicket
outside. The staircase of paving-stones, which allowed the top of the
barricade to be reached, was restored, the ground-floor of the room
of the inn was cleared out, the kitchen converted into an infirmary,
the wounds were dressed, the powder scattered about the tables and
floor was collected, bullets were cast, cartridges manufactured,
lint plucked, the fallen arms distributed; the dead were carried off
and laid in a heap in the Mondétour Lane, of which they were still
masters. The pavement remained for a long time red at that spot. Among
the dead were four suburban National Guards, and Enjolras ordered their
uniforms to be laid on one side. Enjolras had advised two hours' sleep,
and his advice was an order; still, only three or four took advantage
of it, and Feuilly employed the two hours in engraving this inscription
on the wall facing the wine-shop,--


These four words, carved in the stone with a nail, could still be read
on this wall in 1848. The three women took advantage of the respite
to disappear entirely, which allowed the insurgents to breathe more
at their ease; and they contrived to find refuge in some neighboring
house. Most of the wounded could and would still fight. There were,
on a pile of mattresses and trusses of straw laid in the kitchen
converted into an infirmary, five men seriously wounded, of whom two
were Municipal Guards; the wounds of the latter were dressed first. No
one remained in the ground-floor room save Mabœuf under his black
cere-cloth, and Javert fastened to the post.

"This is the charnel-house," said Enjolras.

In the interior of this room, which was scarce lighted by a solitary
candle, the mortuary table at the end being behind the post like a
horizontal bar, a sort of large vague cross resulted from Javert
standing and Mabœuf lying down. Although the pole of the omnibus was
mutilated by the bullets, sufficient remained for a flag to be attached
to it. Enjolras, who possessed that quality of a chief of always doing
what he said, fastened to it the bullet-pierced and blood-stained coat
of the killed old man. No meal was possible, for there was neither
bread nor meat. The fifty men during the sixteen hours they had stood
at the barricade speedily exhausted the scanty provisions of the inn.
At a given moment every barricade that holds out becomes the raft of
the _Méduse_, and the combatants must resign themselves to hunger.
They had reached the early hours of that Spartan day, June 6, when at
the barricade of St. Merry, Jeanne, surrounded by insurgents who cried
for bread, answered, "What for? It is three o'clock; at four we shall
be dead." As they could no longer eat, Enjolras prohibited drinking;
he put the wine under an interdict, and served out the spirits. Some
fifteen full bottles, hermetically sealed, were found in the cellar,
which Enjolras and Combeferre examined. Combeferre on coming up again
said, "It belongs to Father Hucheloup's stock at the time when he was
a grocer." "It must be real wine," Bossuet observed; "it is lucky that
Grantaire is asleep, for if he were up, we should have a difficulty in
saving those bottles." Enjolras, in spite of the murmurs, put his veto
on the fifteen bottles, and in order that no one might touch them, and
that they should be to some extent sacred, he had placed them under the
table on which Father Mabœuf lay.

At about two in the morning they counted their strength; there were
still thirty-seven. Day was beginning to appear, and the torch, which
had been returned to its stone lantern, was extinguished. The interior
of the barricade, that species of small yard taken from the street, was
bathed in darkness, and resembled, through the vague twilight horror,
the deck of a dismasted ship. The combatants moved about like black
forms. Above this frightful nest of gloom the floors of the silent
houses stood out lividly, and above them again the chimney-pots were
assuming a roseate hue. The sky had that charming tint which may be
white and may be blue, and the birds flew about in it with twitterings
of joy. The tall house which formed the background of the barricade
looked to the east, and had a pink reflection on its roof. At the
third-floor window the morning breeze blew about the gray hair on the
head of the dead man.

"I am delighted that the torch is put out," Courfeyrac said to Feuilly.
"That flame flickering in the breeze annoyed me, for it seemed to be
frightened. The light of torches resembles the wisdom of cowards; it
illumines badly because it trembles."

The dawn arouses minds like birds, and all were talking. Joly, seeing a
cat stalking along a gutter, extracted this philosophy from the fact.

"What is the cat?" he exclaimed. "It is a correction. _Le bon Dieu_
having made a mouse, said to himself, 'Hilloh! I have done a foolish
trick,' and he made the cat, which is the erratum of the mouse. The
mouse plus the cat is the revised and corrected proof of creation."

Combeferre, surrounded by students and workmen, was talking of the
dead, of Jean Prouvaire, of Bahorel, of Mabœuf, and even of Cabuc,
and the stern sorrow of Enjolras. He said,--

"Harmodius and Aristogiton, Brutus, Chereas, Stephanus, Cromwell,
Charlotte Corday, Sand, all had their moment of agony after the blow
was struck. Our heart is so quivering, and human life such a mystery,
that even in a civic murder, even in a liberating murder, if there be
such a thing, the remorse at having struck a man exceeds the joy of
having benefited the human race."

And, such are the meanderings of interchanged words, a moment later, by
a transition which came from Jean Prouvaire's verses, Combeferre was
comparing together the translators of the Georgics, Raux with Cournand,
Cournand with Delille, and pointing out the few passages translated by
Malfilâtre, especially the wonders of the death of Cæsar, and at that
name the conversation reverted to Brutus.

"Cæsar," said Combeferre, "fell justly. Cicero was severe to Cæsar,
and was in the right, for such severity is not a diatribe. When Zoïlus
insults Homer, when Mævius insults Virgil, when Visé insults Molière,
when Pope insults Shakspeare, when Fréron insults Voltaire, it is an
old law of envy and hatred being carried out; for genius attracts
insult, and great men are all barked at more or less. But Zoïlus and
Cicero are different. Cicero is a justiciary with thought in the same
way as Brutus is a justiciary with the sword. For my part, I blame that
last justice, the glaive; antiquity allowed it. Cæsar, the violator of
the Rubicon, conferring, as if coming from him, dignities that came
from the people, and not rising on the entrance of the senate, behaved,
as Eutropius said, like a king, and almost like a tyrant, _regiâ ac
pene tyrannica_. He was a great man; all the worse or all the better,
the lesson is the more elevated. His three-and-twenty wounds affect me
less than the spitting on the brow of Christ. Cæsar is stabbed by the
senators, Christ is buffeted by soldiers. God is felt in the greater

Bossuet, standing on a pile of stones, and commanding the speaker,
exclaimed, gun in hand,--

"O Cydathenæum! O Myrrhinus! O Probalynthus! O graces of Æanthus! Oh,
who will inspire me to pronounce the verses of Homer like a Greek of
Laureum or Edapteon!"



Enjolras had gone out to reconnoitre, and had left by the Mondétour
Lane, keeping in the shadow of the houses. The insurgents, we must
state, were full of hope: the way in which they had repulsed the night
attack almost made them disdain beforehand the attack at daybreak.
They waited for it and smiled at it, and no more doubted of their
success than of their cause; moreover, help was evidently going to
reach them, and they reckoned on it. With that facility of triumphant
prophecy which is a part of the strength of the French fighter, they
divided into three certain phases the opening day,--at six in the
morning a regiment, which had been worked upon, would turn; at mid-day
insurrection all over Paris; at sunset the revolution. The tocsin of
St. Merry, which had not ceased once since the previous evening, could
be heard, and this was a proof that the other barricade, the great
one, Jeanne's, still held out. All these hopes were interchanged by
the groups with a species of gay and formidable buzzing which resemble
the war-hum of a swarm of bees. Enjolras reappeared returning from his
gloomy walk in the external darkness. He listened for a moment to all
this joy with his arms folded, and then said, fresh and rosy in the
growing light of dawn,--

"The whole army of Paris is out, and one third of that army is
preparing to attack the barricade behind which you now are. There is,
too, the National Guard. I distinguished the shakos of the fifth line
regiment and the colors of the sixth legion. You will be attacked in
an hour; as for the people, they were in a state of ferment yesterday,
but this morning do not stir. There is nothing to wait for, nothing to
hope; no more a faubourg than a regiment You are abandoned."

These words fell on the buzzing groups, and produced the same effect
as the first drops of a storm do on a swarm. All remained dumb, and
there was a moment of inexpressible silence, in which death might have
been heard flying past This moment was short, and a voice shouted to
Enjolras from the thickest of the crowd,--

"Be it so. Let us raise the barricade to a height of twenty feet, and
all fall upon it. Citizens, let us offer the protest of corpses, and
show that if the people abandon the republicans, the republicans do not
abandon the people."

These words disengaged the thoughts of all from the painful cloud of
individual anxieties, and an enthusiastic shout greeted them. The
name of the man who spoke thus was never known; he was Rome unknown
blouse-wearer, an unknown man, a forgotten man, a passing hero, that
great anonymous always mixed up in human crises and social Geneses,
who at the given moment utters the decisive word in a supreme fashion,
and who fades away into darkness after having represented for a minute,
in the light of a flash, the people and God. This inexorable resolution
was so strongly in the air of June 6, 1832, that almost at the same
hour the insurgents of the St. Merry barricade uttered this cry, which
became historical,--"Whether they come to our help, or whether they do
not, what matter! Let us all fall here, to the last man!" As we see,
the two barricades, though materially isolated, communicated.



After the man, whoever he aright be, who decreed the "protest of
corpses," had spokes, sad given the formula of the common soul, a
strangely satisfied and terrible cry issued from every mouth, funereal
in its meaning and triumphal in its accent.

"Long live death! Let us all remain here."

"Why all?" Enjolras asked.

"All, all!"

Enjolras continued,--

"The position is good and the barricade fine. Thirty men are
sufficient, then why sacrifice forty?"

They replied,--

"Because not one of us will go away."

"Citizens," Enjolras cried, and there was in his voice an almost
irritated vibration, "the republic is not rich enough in men to make
an unnecessary outlay. If it be the duty of some to go away, that duty
must be performed like any other."

Enjolras, the man-principle, had over his co-religionists that kind of
omnipotence which is evolved from the absolute. Still, however great
that omnipotence might be, they murmured. A chief to the tips of his
fingers, Enjolras, on seeing that they murmured, insisted. He continued

"Let those who are afraid to be only thirty say so."

The murmurs were redoubled.

"Besides," a voice in the throng remarked, "it is easy to say, 'Go
away,' but the barricade is surrounded."

"Not on the side of the markets," said Enjolras. "The Rue Mondétour
is free, and the Marché des Innocents can be reached by the Rue des

"And then," another voice in the group remarked, "we should be caught
by falling in with some grand rounds of the line or the National Guard.
They will see a man passing in blouse and cap: 'Where do you come from?
Don't you belong to the barricade?' and they will look at your hands;
you smell of powder, and will be shot."

Enjolras, without answering, touched Combeferre's shoulder, and both
entered the ground-floor room. They came out again a moment after,
Enjolras holding in his outstretched hands the four uniforms which
he had laid on one side, and Combeferre followed him carrying the
cross-belts and shakos.

"In this uniform," Enjolras said, "it is easy to enter the ranks and
escape. Here are four at any rate."

And he threw the four uniforms on the unpaved ground; but as no one
moved in the stoical audience, Combeferre resolved to make an appeal.

"Come," he said, "you must show a little pity. Do you know what the
question is here? It is about women. Look you, are there wives,--yes
or no? Are there children,--yes or no? Are these nothing, who rock a
cradle with their foot, and have a heap of children around them? Let
him among you who has never seen a nurse's breast hold up his hand.
Ah! you wish to be killed. I wish it too, I who am addressing you; but
I do not wish to feel the ghosts of women twining their arms around
me. Die,--very good; but do not cause people to die. Suicides like
the one which is about to take place here are sublime; but suicide is
restricted, and does not allow of extension, and so soon as it affects
your relations, suicide is called murder. Think of the little fair
heads, and think too of the white hair. Listen to me! Enjolras tells
me that just now he saw at the corner of the Rue du Cygne a candle at
a poor window on the fifth floor, and on the panes the shaking shadow
of an old woman who appeared to have spent the night in watching at
the window; she is perhaps the mother of one of you. Well, let that
man go, and hasten to say to his mother, 'Mother, here I am!' Let him
be easy in his mind, for the work will be done here all the same. When
a man supports his relatives by his toil, he has no longer any right
to sacrifice himself, for that is deserting his family. And then,
too, those who have daughters, and those who have sisters! Only think
of them. You let yourselves be killed, you are dead, very good; and
to-morrow? It is terrible when girls have no bread, for man begs, but
woman sells. Oh, those charming, graceful, and gentle creatures with
flowers in their caps, who fill the house with chastity, who sing,
who prattle, who are like a living perfume, who prove the existence of
angels in heaven by the purity of virgins on earth; that Jeanne, that
Lise, that Mimi, those adorable and honest creatures, who are your
blessing and your pride,--ah, my God! they will starve. What would you
have me say to you? There is a human flesh-market, and you will not
prevent them entering it with your shadowy hands trembling around them.
Think of the street; think of the pavement covered with strollers;
think of the shops before which women in low-necked dresses come and
go in the mud. Those women, too, were pure. Think of your sisters,
you who have any; misery, prostitution, the police. St Lazare, that
is what these delicate maidens, these fragile marvels of chastity,
modesty, and beauty, fresher than the lilies in May, will fall to. Ah,
you have let yourselves be killed! Ah, you are no longer there! That
is,--very good,--you have wished to withdraw the people from royalty,
and you give your daughters to the police. My friends, take care and
have compassion; we are not wont to think much about women, hapless
women; we trust to the fact that women have not received the education
of men. They are prevented reading, thinking, or occupying themselves
with politics; but will you prevent them going to-night to the Morgue
and recognizing your corpses? Come, those who have families must be
good fellows, and shake our hand and go away, leaving us to do the job
here all alone. I am well aware that courage is needed to go away, and
that it is difficult; but the more difficult the more meritorious it
is. Ton say, 'I have a gun and am at the barricade; all the worse, I
remain.' 'All the worse' is easily said. My friends, there is a morrow,
and that morrow you will not see; but your families will see it. And
what sufferings! Stay; do you know what becomes of a healthy child
with cheeks like an apple, who chatters, prattles, laughs, and smiles
as fresh as a kiss, when he is abandoned? I saw one, quite little,
about so high; his father was dead, and poor people had taken him in
through charity; but they had not bread for themselves. The child was
always hungry; it was winter-time, but though he was always hungry
he did not cry. He was seen to go close to the stove, whose pipe was
covered with yellow earth. The boy detached with his fingers a piece of
this earth and ate it; his breathing was hoarse, his face livid, his
legs soft, and his stomach swollen. He said nothing, and when spoken
to made no answer. He is dead, and was brought to die at the Necker
Hospital, where I saw him, for I was a student there. Now, if there be
any fathers among you, fathers who delight in taking a walk on Sunday,
holding in their powerful hand a child's small fingers, let each of
these fathers fancy this lad his own. The poor brat I can remember
perfectly; I fancy I see him now, and when he lay on the dissecting
table, his bones stood out under his skin like the tombs under the
grass of a cemetery. We found a sort of mud in his stomach, and he had
ashes between his teeth. Come, let us examine our conscience and take
the advice of our heart; statistics prove that the mortality among
deserted children is fifty-five per cent. I repeat, it is a question
of wives, of mothers, of daughters, and babes. Am I saying anything
about you? I know very well what you are. I know that you are all
brave. I know that you have all in your hearts the joy and glory of
laying down your lives for the great cause. I know very well that you
feel yourselves chosen to die usefully and magnificently, and that each
of you clings to his share of the triumph. Very good. But you are not
alone in this world, and there are other beings of whom you must think;
you should not be selfish."

All hung their heads with a gloomy air. Strange contradictions of the
human heart in the sublimest moments! Combeferre, who spoke thus,
was not an orphan; he remembered the mothers of others and forgot
his own; he was going to let himself be killed, and was "selfish."
Marius, fasting and feverish, who had successively given up all hope,
cast ashore on grief, the most mournful of shipwrecks, saturated with
violent emotions, and feeling the end coming, had buried himself deeper
and deeper in that visionary stupor which ever precedes the fatal and
voluntarily accepted hour. A physiologist might have studied in him
the growing symptoms of that febrile absorption which is known and
classified by science, and which is to suffering what voluptuousness
is to pleasure, for despair also has its ecstasy. Marius had attained
that stage; as we have said, things which occurred before him appeared
to him remote, he distinguished the ensemble, but did not perceive the
details. He saw people coming and going before him in a flash, and he
heard voices speaking as if from the bottom of an abyss. Still this
affected him, for there was in this scene a point which pierced to him
and aroused him. He had but one idea, to die, and he did not wish to
avert his attention from it; but he thought in his gloomy somnambulism
that in destroying himself he was not prohibited from saving somebody.
He raked his voice,--

"Enjolras and Combeferre are right," he said: "let us have no useless
sacrifice. I join them, and we must make haste. Combeferre has told you
decisive things: there are men among you who have families, mothers,
sisters, wives, and children. Such must leave the ranks."

Not a soul stirred.

"Married men and supporters of families will leave the ranks," Marius

His authority was great, for though Enjolras was really the chief of
the barricade, Marius was its savior.

"I order it," Enjolras cried.

"I implore it," Marius said.

Then these heme men, stirred up by Combeferre's speech, shaken by
Enjolras's order, and moved by Marius's entreaty, began denouncing one
another. "It is true," a young man said to a grown-up man, "you are a
father of a family: begone!" "No! you ought to do so rather," the man
replied, "for you have two sisters to support;" and an extraordinary
contest broke out, in which each struggled not to be thrust out of the

"Make haste," said Combeferre; "in a quarter of an hour there will no
longer be time."

"Citizens," Enjolras added, "we have a republic here, and universal
suffrage reigns. Point out yourselves the men who are to leave us."

They obeyed, and at the end of a few minutes five were unanimously
pointed out and left the ranks.

"There are five of them!" Marius exclaimed.

There were only four uniforms.

"Well," the five replied, "one will have to remain behind."

And then came who should remain, and who should find reasons for others
not to remain. The generous quarrel began again.

"You have a wife who loves you.--You have your old mother.--You have
neither father nor mother; what will become of your three little
brothers?--You are the father of five children.--You have a right to
live, for you are only seventeen, and it is too early to die."

These great revolutionary barricades were meeting-places of heroisms.
The improbable was simple there, and these men did not astonish one

"Make haste," Courfeyrac repeated.

Cries to Marius came from the groups.

"You must point out the one who is to remain."

"Yes," the five said; "do you choose, and we will obey you."

Marius did not believe himself capable of any emotion; still, at this
idea of choosing a man for death all the blood flowed back to his
heart, and he would have tamed pale could he have grown paler. He
walked up to the five, who smiled upon him, and each, with his eye full
of that great flame which gleams through history on Thermopylæ, cried
to him,--

"I! I! I!"

And Marius stupidly counted them. There were still five! Then his eyes
settled on the four uniforms. All at once a fifth uniform fell, as if
from heaven, on the other four; the fifth man was saved. Marius raised
his eyes, and recognized M. Fauchelevent.

Jean Valjean had just entered the barricade; either through information
he had obtained, through instinct, or through accident, he arrived by
the Mondétour Lane, and, thanks to his National Guard uniform, passed
without difficulty. The vedette stationed by the insurgents in the Rue
Mondétour had no cause to give the alarm-signal for a single National
Guard, and had let him enter the street, saying to himself, "He is
probably a reinforcement, or at the worst a prisoner." The moment was
too serious for a sentry to turn away from his duty or his post of
observation. At the moment when Jean Valjean entered the redoubt, no
one noticed him, for all eyes were fixed on the five chosen men and the
four uniforms. Jean Valjean, however, had seen and heard, and silently
took off his coat and threw it on the pile formed by the other coats.
The emotion was indescribable.

"Who is this man?" Bossuet asked.

"He is a man," Combeferre replied, "who saves his fellow-man."

Marius added in a grave voice,--

"I know him."

This bail was sufficient for all, and Enjolras turned to Jean Valjean.

"Citizen, you are welcome."

And he added,--

"You are aware that you will die."

Jean Valjean, without answering, helped the man he was saving to put on
his uniform.



The situation of the whole party in this fatal hour, and at this
inexorable spot, had as result and pinnacle the supreme melancholy of
Enjolras. Enjolras had within him the plenitude of the revolution;
he was imperfect, however, so far as the absolute can be so,--he had
too much of St. Just and not enough of Anacharsis Clootz; still his
mind in the society of the Friends of the A. B. C. had eventually
received a certain magnetism of Combeferre's ideas. For some time past
he had been gradually emerging from the narrow form of dogmatism and
yielding to the expansion of progress, and in the end he had accepted,
as the definitive and magnificent evolution, the transformation of
the great French republic into the immense human republic. As for the
immediate means, a violent situation being given, he was willing to be
violent; in that he did not vary, and he still belonged to that epic
and formidable school which is resumed in the words "'93." Enjolras
was standing on the paving-stone steps, with one of his elbows on the
muzzle of his gun. He was thinking; he trembled, as men do when a
blast passes, for spots where death lurks produce this tripod effect.
A sort of stifled fire issued from beneath his eyelashes, which were
full of the internal glance. All at once he raised his head, his light
hair fell back like that of the angel on the dark quadriga composed of
stars, and he cried:--

"Citizens, do you represent the future to yourselves? The streets of
towns inundated with light, green branches on the thresholds, nations
sisters, men just, old men blessing children, the past loving the
present, men thinking at perfect liberty, believers enjoying perfect
equality, for religion the heaven, God, the direct priest, the human
conscience converted into an altar, no more hatred, the fraternity of
the workshop and the school, notoriety the sole punishment and reward,
work for all, right for all, peace for all, no more bloodshed, no more
wars, and happy mothers! To subdue the matter is the first step, to
realize the ideal is the second. Reflect on what progress has already
done; formerly the first human races saw with terror the hydra that
breathed upon the waters, the dragon that vomited fire, the griffin
which was the monster of the air, and which flew with the wings of an
eagle and the claws of a tiger, pass before their eyes,--frightful
beasts which were below man. Man, however, set his snares, the sacred
snares of intellect, and ended by catching the monsters in them. We
have subdued the hydra, and it is called the steamer; we have tamed
the dragon, and it is called the locomotive; we are on the point of
taming the griffin, we hold it already, and it is called the balloon.
The day on which that Promethean task is terminated and man has
definitively attached to his will the triple antique chimera, the
dragon, the hydra, and the griffin, he will be master of water, fire,
and air, and he will be to the rest of animated creation what the
ancient gods were formerly to him. Courage, and forward! Citizens,
whither are we going? To science made government, to the strength of
things converted into the sole public strength, to the natural law
having its sanction and penalty in itself and promulgating itself by
evidence, and to a dawn of truth corresponding with the dawn of day.
We are proceeding to a union of the peoples; we are proceeding to a
unity of man. No more fictions, no more parasites. The real governed
by the true is our object. Civilization will hold its assize on the
summit of Europe, and eventually in the centre of the continent, in
a great Parliament of intellect. Something like this has been seen
already; the Amphictyons held two sessions a year, one at Delphi, the
place of the gods, the other at Thermopylæ, the place of heroes. Europe
will have her Amphictyons, the globe will have its Amphictyons, France
bears the sublime future within her, and this is the gestation of the
19th century. What Greece sketched out is worthy of being finished by
France. Hearken to me, Feuilly, valiant workman, man of the people, man
of the people. I venerate thee; yes, thou seest clearly future times;
yes, thou art right. Thou hast neither father nor mother, Feuilly, and
thou hast adopted humanity as thy mother and right as thy father. Thou
art about to die here, that is to say, to triumph. Citizens, whatever
may happen to-day, we are about to make a revolution, by our defeat as
well as by our victory. In the same way as fires light up a whole city,
revolutions light up the whole human race. And what a revolution shall
we make? I have just told you, the revolution of the True. From the
political point of view, there is but one principle, the sovereignty of
man over himself. This sovereignty of me over me is called liberty, and
where two or three of these liberties are associated the State begins.
But in this association there is no abdication, and each sovereignty
concedes a certain amount of itself to form the common right. This
quality is the same for all, and this identity of concession which each
makes to all is called Equality. The common right is nought but the
protection of all radiating over the right of each. This protection
of all over each is termed Fraternity. The point of intersection of
all aggregated societies is called Society, and this intersection
being a junction, the point is a knot. Hence comes what is called the
social tie; some say the social contract, which is the same thing, as
the word contract is etymologically formed with the idea of a tie.
Let us come to an understanding about equality; for if liberty be the
summit, equality is the base. Equality, citizens, is not all vegetation
on a level, a society of tall blades of grass and small oaks, or a
neighborhood of entangled jealousies; it is, civilly, every aptitude
having the same opening, politically, all votes having the same weight,
and religiously, all consciences having the same right. Equality
has an organ in gratuitous and compulsory education, and it should
begin with the right to the alphabet. The primary school imposed on
all, the secondary school offered to all, such is the law, and from
the identical school issues equal instruction. Yes, instruction!
Light, light! Everything comes from light and everything returns to
it Citizens, the 19th century is great, but the 20th century will be
happy. Then there will be nothing left resembling ancient history,
there will be no cause to fear, as at the present day, a conquest, an
invasion, usurpation, an armed rivalry of nations, an interruption of
civilization depending on a marriage of kings, a birth in hereditary
tyrannies, a division of peoples by Congress, a dismemberment by the
collapse of dynasties, a combat of two religions, clashing, like two
goats of the darkness, on the bridge of infinity; there will be no
cause longer to fear famine, exhaustion, prostitution through destiny,
misery through stoppage of work, and the scaffold, and the sword, and
battles, and all the brigandage of accident in the forest of events;
we might almost say there will be no more events, we shall be happy;
the human race will accomplish its law as the terrestrial globe does
its law; harmony will be restored between the soul and the planet, and
the soul will gravitate round the truth as the planet does round light.
Friends, the hour we are now standing in is a gloomy hour, but there
are such terrible purchases of the future. Oh, the human race will be
delivered, relieved, and consoled! We affirm it on this barricade,
and where should the cry of love be raised if not on the summit of
the sacrifice? Oh, my brothers, this is the point of junction between
those who think and those who suffer. This barricade is not made of
paving-stones, beams, and iron bars; it is made of two masses,--a
mass of ideas and a mass of sorrows. Misery meets then the ideal; day
embraces the night there, and says to it, 'I am about to die with thee,
and thou wilt be born again with me.' Faith springs from the embrace
of all the desolations; sufferings bring hither their agony, and ideas
their immortality. This agony and this immortality are about to be
mingled and compose one death. Brothers, the man who dies here dies in
the radiance of the future, and we shall enter a tomb all filled with

Enjolras interrupted himself rather than was silent; his lips moved
silently as if he were talking to himself, which attracted attention,
and in order still to try to hear him they held their tongues. There
was no applause, but they whispered together for a long time. Language
being breath, the rustling of intellects resembles the rustling of



Let us describe what was going on in Marius's thoughts. Our readers
will remember his state of mind, for, as we just now said, everything
was only a vision to him. His appreciation was troubled, for he was
(we urge the fact) beneath the shadow of the great gloomy wings opened
above the dying. He felt that he had entered the tomb, he fancied that
he was already on the other side of the wall, and he only saw the faces
of the living with the eyes of a dead man. How was M. Fauchelevent
present? Why was he here, and what did he come to do? Marius did not
ask himself all these questions. Moreover, as our despair has the
peculiar thing about it that it envelops others as it does ourselves,
it appeared to him logical that everybody should die. Still he thought
of Cosette with a contraction of the heart. However, M. Fauchelevent
did not speak to him, did not look at him, and did not even seem to
hear Marius when he raised his voice, saying, "I know him." As for
Marius, this attitude of M. Fauchelevent relieved him, and if such
a word were permissible for such impressions, we might say that it
pleased him. He had ever felt an absolute impossibility in addressing
this enigmatical man, who was at once equivocal and imposing to him. It
was a very long time too since he had seen him; and this augmented the
impossibility for a timid and reserved nature like Marius's.

The five men selected left the barricade by the Mondétour Lane,
perfectly resembling National Guards. One of them wept as he went away,
and before doing so they embraced those who remained. When the five
men sent back to life had left, Enjolras thought of the one condemned
to death. He went to the ground-floor room, where Javert, tied to the
post, was reflecting.

"Do you want anything?" Enjolras asked him.

Javert answered,--

"When will you kill me?"

"Wait. We require all our cartridges at this moment."

"In that case, give me some drink," Javert said.

Enjolras himself held out to him a glass of water, and, as Javert was
bound, helped him to drink.

"Is that all?" Enjolras resumed.

"I feel uncomfortable at this post," Javert replied; "you did not act
kindly in leaving me fastened to it the whole night. Bind me as you
please, but you might surely lay me on a table, like the other man."

And with a nod of the head he pointed to M. Mabœuf's corpse. It
will be remembered that there was at the end of the room a long, wide
table on which bullets had been run and cartridges made. All the
cartridges being made, and all the powder expended, this table was
free. By Enjolras's order, four insurgents unfastened Javert from
the post, and while they did so a fifth held a bayonet to his chest.
His hands remained fastened behind his back, a thin strong cord was
attached to his feet, which enabled him to step fifteen inches, like
those who are going to ascend the scaffold, and he was forced to walk
to the table at the end of the room, on which they laid him, securely
fastened round the waist. For greater security, a system of knotting
was employed by means of a cord fastened to the neck, which rendered
any escape impossible; it was the sort of fastening called in prisons a
martingale, which starts from the nape, of the neck, is crossed on the
stomach, and is turned round the hands after passing between the legs.
While Javert was being bound, a man standing in the doorway regarded
him with singular attention, and the shadow this man cast caused Javert
to turn his head. He raised his eyes and recognized Jean Valjean, but
he did not even start; he merely looked down haughtily, and restricted
himself to saying, "It is all plain."



Day grew rapidly, but not a window opened, not a door was ajar; it was
the dawn, not an awaking. The end of the Rue de la Chanvrerie opposed
to the barricade had been evacuated by the troops, as we stated; it
appeared to be free and open for passers-by with sinister tranquillity.
The Rue St. Denis was dumb as the Avenue of the Sphinxes at Thebes;
there was not a living being on the square, which a sunbeam whitened.
Nothing is so melancholy as this brightness of deserted streets;
nothing could be seen, but something could be heard, and there was a
mysterious movement at a certain distance off. It was evident that the
critical moment was arriving, and, as on the previous evening, the
vedettes fell back, but this time all of them did so. The barricade
was stronger than at the prior attack, for since the departure of the
five it had been heightened. By the advice of the vedette who had been
watching the region of the Halles, Enjolras, through fear of a surprise
in the rear, formed a serious resolution. He barricaded the small
passage of the Mondétour Lane, which had hitherto remained free, and
for this purpose a further portion of the street was unpaved. In this
way the barricade, walled in on three sides,--in front by the Rue de
la Chanvrerie, on the left by the Rue du Cygne, and on the right by
the Rue Mondétour,--was truly almost impregnable, but it is true that
they were fatally enclosed within it. It had three fronts but no issue,
it was a fortress but a mouse-trap, as Courfeyrac said with a smile.
Enjolras had some thirty paving-stones piled up by the door of the inn.
"They dug up more than enough," said Bossuet. The silence was now so
profound in the direction whence the attack must come, that Enjolras
ordered all his men to return to their fighting-posts, and a ration of
brandy was distributed to each man.

Nothing is more curious than a barricade preparing for an assault;
every man chooses his place, as at the theatre. They crowd, elbow, and
shoulder one another, and some make stalls of paving-stones. Here an
angle of the wall is in the way, and it is avoided; there is a redan
which may offer protection, and they seek shelter in it. Left-handed
men are precious, for they take places inconvenient for others. Many
arrange so as to fight seated, for they wish to be at their ease to
kill, and comfortable in dying. In the fatal war of June, 1848, an
insurgent, who was a wonderful marksman, and who fought from a terraced
roof, had a Voltaire easy-chair carried there, and was knocked over
in it by a volley of grape-shot. So soon as the chief has given the
signal for action all disorderly movements cease; there is no longer
any sharp-shooting, any conversations or asides: all that minds contain
converges, and is changed into the expectation of the assailant. A
barricade before danger is a chaos, in danger discipline, for peril
produces order. So soon as Enjolras had taken his double-barrelled
gun, and placed himself at a species of parapet which he reserved for
himself, all were silent; a quick, sharp crackling ran confusedly along
the wall of paving-stones; it was the muskets being cocked. However,
the attitudes were haughtier and more confident than ever, for an
excess of sacrifice is a consolidation, and though they no longer had
hope, they had despair,--despair, that last weapon, which at times
gives victory, as Virgil tells us. Supreme resources issue from extreme
resolutions. To embark on death is at times the means of escaping the
shipwreck, and the cover of the coffin becomes a plank of salvation.
As on the previous evening, all their attention was turned upon the
end of the street, which was now lighted up and visible. They had not
long to wait ere the movement began again, distinctly in the direction
of St. Leu, but it did not resemble the sound of the first attack. A
rattling of chains, the alarming rolling of a heavy weight, a clang
of bronze leaping on the pavement, and a species of solemn noise,
announced that a sinister engine was approaching; there was a tremor
in the entrails of these old peaceful streets, pierced and built for
the fruitful circulation of interests and ideas, and which are not made
for the monstrous rolling of the wheels of war. The fixity of the eyes
turned toward the end of the street became stern, as a cannon appeared.
The gunners pushed the gun on; the limber was detached, and two men
supported the carriage, while four were at the wheels; others followed
with the tumbril, and the lighted match could be seen smoking.

"Fire!" shouted Enjolras.

The whole barricade burst into a flame, and the detonation was
frightful; an avalanche of smoke covered and concealed the gun and
the men. A few seconds after the cloud was dispersed, and the gun and
the men reappeared; the gunners were bringing it up to the front of
the barricade, slowly, correctly, and without hurry; not one had been
wounded. Then the captain of the gun, hanging with his whole weight
on the breech to elevate the muzzle, began pointing the gun with the
gravity of an astronomer setting a telescope.

"Bravo for the artillery!" cried Bossuet.

And all the men at the barricade clapped their hands. A moment after
the gun, standing in the very centre of the street across the gutter,
was in position, and a formidable mouth yawned at the barricade.

"Come, we are going to be gay," said Courfeyrac. "Here is the
brutality; after the fillip the blow with the fist The army is
extending its heavy paw toward us, and the barricade is going to be
seriously shaken. The musketry-fire feels, and the cannon takes."

"It is an eight-pounder of the new pattern in bronze," Combeferre
added. "Those guns, if the proportion of ten parts of tin to one
hundred of copper is exceeded, are liable to burst, for the excess of
tin renders them too soft. It thus happens that have holes and cavities
in the vent, and in order to obviate this danger and be able to load,
it would perhaps be advisable to revert to the process of the 14th
century, circling and reinforcing the gun with a series of steel rings,
without any welding from the breech to the trunnions. In the mean while
they remedy the defect as well as they can, and they manage to discover
where the holes are in the vent of the gun by means of a searcher; but
there is a better method in Gribeauval's movable star."

"In the 16th century," Bossuet observed, "guns were rifled."

"Yes," Combeferre replied; "that augments the ballistic force, but
lessens the correctness of aim. At short distances the trajectory has
not all the desirable rigidness, the parabola is exaggerated, the
path of the projectile is not sufficiently rectilinear for it to hit
intermediate objects, though that is a condition of fighting whose
importance grows with the proximity of the enemy and the precipitation
of the firing. This defective tension of the curve of the projectile
in rifled cannon of the 16th century emanated from the weakness of the
charge; weak charges for such engines are imposed by the ballistic
necessities, such, for instance, as the preservation of the carriage.
After all, the cannon, that despot, cannot do all that it wishes, and
strength is a great weakness. A cannon-ball goes only six hundred
leagues an hour, while light covers seventy thousand leagues per
second. This is the superiority of Jesus Christ over Napoleon."

"Reload your guns," said Enjolras.

In what manner would the revetment of the barricade behave against a
cannon-ball? Would a breach be formed? That was the question. While
the insurgents were reloading their guns the artillerymen loaded the
cannon. The anxiety within the redoubt was profound; the shot was
fired, and the detonation burst forth.

"Present!" a joyous voice cried.

And at the same time as the cannon-ball struck the barricade, Gavroche
bounded inside it. He came from the direction of the Rue du Cygne,
and actively clambered over the accessory barricade which fronted the
labyrinth of the Little Truanderie. Gavroche produced greater effect at
the barricade than the cannon-ball did; for the latter was lost in the
heap of rubbish. It had broken a wheel of the omnibus, and finished the
old truck, on seeing which the insurgents burst into a laugh.

"Persevere!" cried Bossuet to the gunners.



Gavroche was surrounded, but he had no time to report anything, as
Marius, shuddering, drew him on one side.

"What have you come to do here?"

"What a question?" the boy said; "and you, pray?"

And he gazed fixedly at Marius with his epic effrontery: his eyes were
dilated by the proud brightness which they contained. It was with a
stern accent that Marius continued,--

"Who told you to return? I only trust that you have delivered my letter
at its address."

Gavroche felt some degree of remorse in the matter of the letter; for,
in his hurry to return to the barricade, he had got rid of it rather
than delivered it. He was forced to confess to himself that he had
confided somewhat too lightly in this stranger, whose face he had not
even been able to distinguish. It is true that this man was bareheaded,
but that was not enough. In short, he reproached himself quietly for
his conduct, and feared Marius's reproaches. He took the simplest
process to get out of the scrape,--he told an abominable falsehood.

"Citizen, I delivered the letter to the porter. The lady was asleep,
and she will have the letter when she wakes."

Marius had two objects in sending the letter,--to bid Cosette farewell
and save Gavroche. He was obliged to satisfy himself with one half of
what he wanted. The connection between the Bending of the letter and M.
Fauchelevent's presence at the barricade occurred to his mind, and he
pointed him out to Gavroche.

"Do you know that man?"

"No," said Gavroche.

Gavroche, in truth, as we know, had only seen Jean Valjean by night.
The troubled and sickly conjectures formed in Marius's mind were
dissipated. Did he know M. Fauchelevent's opinions? Perhaps he was a
republican; hence his presence in the action would be perfectly simple.
In the mean while Gavroche had run to the other end of the barricade,
crying, "My gun!" and Courfeyrac ordered it to be given to him.
Gavroche warned "his comrades," as he called them, that the barricade
was invested, and he had found great difficulty in reaching it. A
battalion of the line, with their arms piled in the Little Truanderie,
was observing on the side of the Rue du Petit Cygne; on the opposite
side the Municipal Guard occupied the Rue des Prêcheurs; while in front
of them they had the main body of the army. This information given,
Gavroche added,--

"I authorize you to give them a famous pill."

Enjolras was in the mean while watching at his loop-hole with open
ears; for the assailants, doubtless little satisfied with the
gun-shot, had not repeated it. A company of line infantry had come up
to occupy the extremity of the street behind the gun. The soldiers
unpaved the street, and erected with the stones a small low wall,
a species of epaulement, only eighteen inches high, and facing the
barricade. At the left-hand angle of this work could be seen the head
of a suburban column, massed in the Rue St. Denis. Enjolras, from his
post, fancied he could hear the peculiar sound produced by canister
when taken out of its box, and he saw the captain of the gun change his
aim and turn the gun's muzzle slightly to the left. Then the gunners
began loading, and the captain of the gun himself took the port-fire
and walked up to the vent.

"Fall on your knees all along the barricade," Enjolras shouted.

The insurgents, scattered in front of the wine-shop, and who had
left their posts on Gavroche's arrival, rushed pell-mell toward the
barricade; but ere Enjolras's order was executed, the discharge took
place with the frightful rattle of a round of grape-shot; it was
one, in fact. The shot was aimed at the opening in the redoubt, and
ricochetted against the wall, killing two men and wounding three. If
this continued, the barricade would be no longer tenable, for the
grape-shot entered it. There was a murmur of consternation.

"Let us stop a second round," Enjolras said: and levelling his
carbine he aimed at the captain of the gun, who was leaning over the
breech and rectifying the aim. He was a handsome young sergeant of
artillery, fair, gentle-faced, and having the intelligent look peculiar
to that predestined and formidable arm which, owing to its constant
improvement, must end by killing war. Combeferre, who was standing by
Enjolras's side, gazed at this young man.

"What a pity!" said Combeferre. "What a hideous thing such butchery is!
Well, when there are no kings left there will be no war. Enjolras, you
aim at that sergeant, but do not notice him. Just reflect that he is a
handsome young man; he is intrepid. You can see that he is a thinker,
and these young artillerymen are well educated; he has a father,
mother, and family; he is probably in love; he is but twenty-five years
of age at the most, and might be your brother."

"He is so," said Enjolras.

"Yes," Combeferre added, "and mine too. Do not kill him."

"Let me alone. It must be."

And a tear slowly coursed down Enjolras's marble cheek. At the same
time he pulled the trigger and the fire flashed forth. The artilleryman
turned twice on his heel, with his arms stretched out before him, and
his head raised as if to breathe the air, and then fell across the
cannon motionless. His back could be seen, from the middle of which a
jet of blood gushed forth; the bullet had gone right through his chest,
and he was dead. It was necessary to bear him away and fill up his
place, and thus a few minutes were gained.



Opinions varied in the barricade, for the firing of the piece was going
to begin again, and the barricade could not hold out for a quarter of
an hour under the grape-shot; it was absolutely necessary to abate the
firing. Enjolras gave the command.

"We must have a mattress here."

"We have none," said Combeferre; "the wounded are lying on them."

Jean Valjean, seated apart on a bench, near the corner of the
wine-shop, with his gun between his legs, had not up to the present
taken any part in what was going on. He did not seem to hear the
combatants saying around him, "There is a gun that does nothing." On
hearing the order given by Enjolras, he rose. It will be remembered
that on the arrival of the insurgents in the Rue de la Chanvrerie,
an old woman, in her terror of the bullets, placed her mattress in
front of her window. This window, a garret window, was on the roof
of a six-storied house, a little beyond the barricade. The mattress,
placed across it, leaning at the bottom upon two clothes-props, was
held above by two ropes, which, at a distance, seemed two pieces of
pack-thread, and were fastened to nails driven into the frames of the
roof. These cords could be distinctly seen on the sky, like hairs.

"Can any one lend me a double-barrelled gun?" Jean Valjean asked.

Enjolras, who had just reloaded his, handed it to him. Jean Valjean
aimed at the garret window and fired; one of the two cords of the
mattress was cut asunder, and it hung by only one thread. Jean Valjean
fired the second shot, and the second cord lashed the garret window;
the mattress glided between the two poles and fell into the street The
insurgents applauded, and every voice cried,--

"There is a mattress."

"Yes," said Combeferre, "but who will go and fetch it?"

The mattress, in truth, had fallen outside the barricade, between the
besiegers and besieged. Now, as the death of the sergeant of artillery
had exasperated the troops, for some time past they had been lying flat
behind the pile of paving-stones which they had raised; and in order to
make up for the enforced silence of the gun, they had opened fire on
the barricade. The insurgents, wishing to save their ammunition, did
not return this musketry: the fusillade broke against the barricade,
but the street which it filled with bullets was terrible. Jean Valjean
stepped out of the gap, entered the street, traversed the hail of
bullets, went to the mattress, picked it up, placed it on his back, and
re-entering the barricade, himself placed the mattress in the gap,
and fixed it against the wall, so that the gunners should not see it.
This done, they waited for the next round, which was soon fired. The
gun belched forth its canister with a hoarse roar, but there was no
ricochet, and the grape-shot was checked by the mattress. The expected
result was obtained, and the barricade saved.

"Citizen," Enjolras said to Jean Valjean, "the republic thanks you."

Bossuet admired, and laughingly said,--

"It is immoral for a mattress to have so much power: it is the triumph
of that which yields over that which thunders. But no matter, glory to
the mattress that annuls a cannon!"



At this moment Cosette awoke: her bed-room was narrow, clean,
circumspect, with a long window on the east side looking out into the
court-yard of the house. Cosette knew nothing of what was going on in
Paris, for she had returned to her bed-room at the time when Toussaint
said, "There is a row." Cosette had slept but a few hours, though well.
She had had sweet dreams, which resulted perhaps from the fact that
her small bed was very white. Somebody, who was Marius, appeared to
her in light; and she rose with the sun in her eyes, which at first
produced the effect of a continuation of her dream upon her. Her first
thought on coming out of the dream was of a smiling nature, and she
felt quite reassured. Like Jean Valjean a few hours before, she was
passing through that reaction of the soul which absolutely desires no
misfortune. She began hoping with all her strength, without knowing
why, and then suffered from a contraction of the heart. She had not
seen Marius for three days; but she said to herself that he must have
received her letter, that he knew where she was, that he was clever and
would find means to get to her,--certainly to-day, and perhaps that
very morning. It was bright day, but the sunbeam was nearly horizontal,
and so she thought that it must be early, but that she ought to rise
in order to receive Marius. She felt that she could not live without
Marius, and that consequently was sufficient, and Marius would come. No
objection was admissible; all this was certain. It was monstrous enough
to have suffered for three days: Marius absent for three days, that was
horrible on the part of le bon Dieu. Now this cruel suspense sent from
on high was a trial passed through; Marius was about to come and bring
good news. Thus is youth constituted: it wipes away its tears quickly,
and finding sorrow useless, does not accept it. Youth is the smile of
the future of an unknown thing, which is itself: it is natural for it
to be happy, and it seems as if its breath were made of hope.

However, Cosette could not succeed in recalling to mind what Marius had
said to her on the subject of this absence, which was only to last one
day, and what explanation he had given her about it. Every one will
have noticed with what skill a coin let fall on the ground runs to
hide itself, and what art it has in rendering itself invisible. There
are thoughts which play us the same trick; they conceal themselves
in a corner of our brain: it is all over, they are lost, and it is
impossible to recall them to memory. Cosette felt somewhat vexed at the
little useless effort her memory made, and said to herself that it was
very wrong and culpable of her to forget words pronounced by Marius.
She left her bed, and performed the two ablutions of the soul and the
body, her prayers and her toilette.

We may, if absolutely required, introduce a reader into a nuptial
chamber, but not into a virgin's room. Verse could hardly venture
it, prose ought not. It is the interior of a still closed flower, a
whiteness in the gloaming, the inner cell of a closed lily, which must
not be gazed at by man till it has been gazed at by the sun. Woman
in the bud is sacred: this innocent bud which discovers itself, this
adorable semi-nudity which is afraid of itself, this white foot which
takes refuge in a slipper, this throat which veils itself before a
mirror as if the mirror were an eye, this chemise which hurriedly rises
and covers the shoulder at the sound of a piece of furniture creaking
or a passing vehicle, these knotted strings, this stay-lace, this
tremor, this shudder of cold and shame, this exquisite shyness in every
movement, this almost winged anxiety when there is nothing to fear,
the successive phases of the apparel, which are as charming as the
clouds of dawn,--it is not befitting that all this should be described,
and it is too much to have merely indicated it. The eye of man must
to even more religious before the rising of a maiden than before the
rising of a star. The possibility of attaining ought to be turned into
augmented respect. The down of the peach, the first bloom of the plum,
the crystal radiate of the snow, the butterfly's wing Powdered with
feathers, are but coarse things by the side of this chastity, which
does not know itself that it is chaste. The maiden is only the flash
of the dream, and is not yet a statue; her alcove is concealed in the
dim part of the ideal, and the indiscreet touch of the eye brutalizes
this vague twilight. In this case contemplation is profanation. We will
therefore say nothing about the sweet awaking and rising of Cosette. An
Eastern fable tells us that the rose was made white by God, but that
Adam having looked at it for a moment when it opened, it felt ashamed,
and turned pink. We are of those who feel themselves abashed in the
presence of maidens and flowers, for we find them worthy of veneration.

Cosette dressed herself very rapidly, and combed and dressed her hair,
which was very simple at that day, when women did not swell their
ringlets and plaits with cushions and pads, and placed no crinoline
in their hair. Then she opened the window and looked all around,
hoping to discern a little of the street, an angle of the house, or
a corner of the pavement, to watch for Marius. But nothing could be
seen of the outside: the court-yard was surrounded by rather lofty
walls, and was bounded by other gardens. Cosette declared these gardens
hideous, and for the first time in her life considered flowers ugly.
The paltriest street gutter would have suited her purpose better; and
she resolved to look up to heaven, as if she thought that Marius might
possibly come thence. Suddenly she burst into tears, not through any
fickleness of temperament, but her situation consisted of hopes dashed
with despondency. She confusedly felt something horrible; that it was
really in the air. She said to herself that she was sure of nothing,
that letting herself out of sight was losing herself; and the idea
that Marius might return to her from heaven appeared to her no longer
charming but lugubrious. Then--for such these clouds are--calmness
returned, and hope, and a species of smile, unconscious, but trusting
in God.

Everybody was still asleep in the house, and a provincial silence
prevailed. No shutter was opened, and the porter's lodge was still
closed. Toussaint was not up, and Cosette naturally thought that her
father was asleep. She must have suffered greatly, and must still be
suffering, for she said to herself that her father had been unkind,
but she reckoned on Marius. The eclipse of such a light was decidedly
impossible. At moments she heard some distance off a sort of heavy
shock, and thought how singular it was that gates were opened and shut
at so early an hour; it was the sound of the cannon-balls battering
the barricade. There was a martin's nest a few feet below Cosette's
window in the old smoke-blackened cornice, and the mouth of the
nest projected a little beyond the cornice, so that the interior of
this little Paradise could be seen from above. The mother was there
expanding her wings like a fan over her brood; the male bird fluttered
round, went away, and then returned, bringing in his bill food and
kisses. The rising day gilded this happy thing; the great law, increase
and multiply, was there smiling and august; and the sweet mystery
was unfolded in the glory of the morn. Cosette, with her hair in the
sunshine, her soul in flames, enlightened by love within and the dawn
without, bent forward as if mechanically, and, almost without daring to
confess to herself that she was thinking at the same time of Marius,
she began looking at these birds, this family, this male and female,
this mother and her little ones, with all the profound agitation which
the sight of a nest occasions a virgin.



The fire of the assailants continued, and the musketry and grape-shot
alternated, though without producing much mischief. The upper part of
Corinth alone suffered, and the first-floor and garret windows, pierced
by slugs and bullets, gradually lost their shape. The combatants posted
there were compelled to withdraw; but, in fact, such are the tactics
of an attack on a barricade,--to skirmish for a long time and exhaust
the ammunition of the insurgents, if they commit the error of returning
the fire. When it is discovered by the slackening of their fire that
they have no powder or ball left, the assault is made. Enjolras had not
fallen into this trap, and the barricade did not reply. At each platoon
fire Gavroche thrust his tongue into his cheek, a sign of supreme

"That's good," he said; "tear up the linen, for we require lint."

Courfeyrac addressed the grape-shot on its want of effect, and said to
the cannon,--

"You are becoming diffuse, my good fellow."

In battle, intrigues take place as at a ball; and it is probable that
the silence of the redoubt was beginning to render the assailants
anxious, and make them fear lest some unexpected incident had occurred.
They felt a need of seeing clearly through this pile of paving-stones,
and what was going on behind this impassive wall, which received shots
without answering them. The insurgents suddenly perceived a helmet
glistening in the sun upon an adjoining roof: a sapper was leaning
against a tall chimney-pot and apparently a sentry there. He looked
down into the barricade.

"That's a troublesome spy," said Enjolras.

Jean had returned Enjolras his fowling-piece, but still had his own
musket. Without saying a word he aimed at the sapper, and a second
later the helmet, struck by a bullet, fell noisily into the street.
The soldier disappeared with all possible haste. A second watchman
took his place, and it was an officer. Jean Valjean, who had reloaded
his musket, aimed at the new-comer, and sent the officer's helmet to
join the private's. The officer was not obstinate, but withdrew very
quickly. This time the hint was understood, and no one again appeared
on the roof.

"Why did you not kill the man?" Bossuet asked Jean Valjean, who,
however, made no reply.



Bossuet muttered in Combeferre's ear,--

"He has not answered my question."

"He is a man who does kind actions with musket-shots," said Combeferre.

Those who have any recollection of this now distant epoch know that the
suburban National Guards were valiant against the insurrection, and
they were peculiarly brave and obstinate in the days of June, 1832. Any
worthy landlord, whose establishment the insurrection injured, became
leonine on seeing his dancing-room deserted, and let himself be killed
in order to save order represented by the suburban public-house. At
this time, which was at once heroic and bourgeois, in the presence
of ideas which had their knights, interests had their Paladins, and
the prosaic nature of the motive took away none of the bravery of
the movement. The decrease of a pile of crowns made bankers sing the
Marseillaise, men lyrically shed their blood for the till, and defended
with Lacedæmonian enthusiasm the shop, that immense diminutive of the
country. Altogether there was a good deal that was very serious in all
this; social interests were entering into a contest, while awaiting
the day when they would enter a state of equilibrium. Another sign of
this time was the anarchy mingled with the governmentalism (a barbarous
name of the correct party), and men were for order without discipline.
The drums played unexpectedly fancy calls, at the command of some
colonel of the National Guard: one captain went under fire through
inspiration, while some National Guards fought "for the idea," and on
their own account. In critical moments during the riots men followed
the advice of their chiefs less than their own instincts, and there
were in the army of order real Guerilleros, some of the sword like
Fannicot, and others of the pen like Henry Fonfrède. Civilization,
unhappily represented at this period more by an aggregation of
interests than by a group of principles, was, or believed itself to
be, in danger; it uttered the alarm cry, and every man, constituting
himself a centre, defended, succored, and protected it in his own way,
and the first comer took on himself to save society.

Zeal sometimes went as far as extermination; a platoon of National
Guards constituted themselves of their own authority a council of war,
and tried and executed in five minutes an insurgent prisoner. It was
an improvisation of this nature which killed Jean Prouvaire. It is
that ferocious Lynch law with which no party has the right to reproach
another, for it is applied by the Republic in America as by monarchy
in Europe. This Lynch law was complicated by mistakes. On a day of
riot a young poet of the name of Paul Aimé Garnier was pursued on
the Place Royale at the bayonet's point, and only escaped by taking
shelter under the gateway at No. 6. "There's another of those Saint
Simonians," they shouted, and wished to kill him. Now, he had under
his arm a volume of the Memoirs of the Duc de Saint Simon; a National
Guard read on the back the words "Saint Simon," and shouted, "Death to
him!" On June 6, 1832, a company of suburban National Guards, commanded
by Captain Fannicot, to whom we have already referred, decimated
the Rue de la Chanvrerie for his own good pleasure, and on his own
authority. This fact, singular though it is, was proved by the judicial
report drawn up in consequence of the insurrection of 1832. Captain
Fannicot, an impatient and bold bourgeois, a species of condottiere
of order, and a fanatical and insubmissive governmentalist, could not
resist the attraction of firing prematurely, and taking the barricade
all by himself, that is to say, with his company. Exasperated at the
successive apparition of the red flag and the old coat, which he took
for the black flag, he loudly blamed the generals and commanders of
corps, who were holding councils, as they did not think the decisive
moment for assault had arrived, but were "letting the insurrection stew
in its own gravy," according to a celebrated expression of one of them.
As for him, he thought the barricade ripe, and as everything that is
ripe is bound to fall, he made the attempt.

He commanded men as resolute as himself. "Mad-men," a witness called
them. His company, the same which had shot Jean Prouvaire, was the
first of the battalion posted at the street corner. At the moment when
it was least expected the captain dashed his men at the barricade;
but this movement, executed with more good-will than strategy, cost
Fannicot's company dearly. Before it had covered two thirds of the
street a general discharge from the barricade greeted it; four, the
boldest men of all, running at the head, were shot down in point-blank
range at the very foot of the barricade, and this courageous mob of
National Guards, very brave men, but not possessing the military
tenacity, was compelled to fall back after a few moments, leaving
fifteen corpses in the street. The momentary hesitation gave the
insurgents time to reload, and a second and most deadly discharge
assailed the company before the men were able to regain their shelter
at the corner of the street. In a moment they were caught between two
fires, and received the volley from the cannon, which, having no orders
to the contrary, did not cease firing. The intrepid and imprudent
Fannicot was one of those killed by this round of grape-shot; he was
laid low by the cannon. This attack, which was more furious than
serious, irritated Enjolras.

"The asses!" he said, "they have their men killed and expend our
ammunition for nothing."

Enjolras spoke like the true general of the riot that he was:
insurrection and repression do not fight with equal arms; for the
insurrection, which can be soon exhausted, has only a certain number of
rounds to fire and of combatants to expend. An expended cartouche-box
and a killed man cannot have their place filled up. Repression,
on the other hand, having the army, does not count men, and having
Vincennes, does not count rounds. Repression has as many regiments
as the barricade has men, and as many arsenals as the barricade has
cartouche-boxes. Hence these are always contests of one man against a
hundred, which ever end by the destruction of the barricade, unless
revolution, suddenly dashing up, casts into the balance its flashing
archangel's glaive. Such things happen, and then everything rises,
paving-stones get into a state of ebullition, and popular redoubts
swarm. Paris has a sovereign tremor, the _quid divinum_ is evolved;
there is an August 10 or a July 29 in the air, a prodigious light
appears, the yawning throat of force recoils, and the army, that lion,
sees before it, standing erect and tranquil, that prophet, France.



In the chaos of feelings and passions which defend a barricade there is
everything,--bravery, youth, the point of honor, enthusiasm, the ideal,
conviction, the obstinacy of the gambler, and above all intermitting
gleams of hope. One of these intermittences, one of these vague
quiverings of hope, suddenly ran along the Chanvrerie barricade at the
most unexpected moment.

"Listen," Enjolras, who was ever on the watch, exclaimed. "I fancy that
Paris is waking up."

It is certain that on the morning of June 6 the insurrection had for an
hour or two a certain reanimation. The obstinacy of the tocsin of St.
Merry aroused a few slight desires, and barricades were begun in the
Rue du Poirier and in the Rue des Gravilliers. In front of the Porte
St. Martin, a young man armed with a gun attacked a squadron of cavalry
alone, unprotected, and on the open boulevard he knelt down, raised his
gun, fired and killed the Major, and then turned away, saying, "There's
another who will do us no more mischief." He was cut down. In the Rue
St. Denis a woman fired at the National Guard from behind a Venetian
shutter, and the wooden laths could be seen to tremble every moment.
A boy of fourteen was arrested in the Rue de la Cossonnerie with his
pockets full of cartridges, and several guard-houses were attacked. At
the entrance of the Rue Bertin Poirée a very sharp and quite unexpected
fusillade greeted a regiment of cuirassiers, at the head of which rode
General Cavaignac de Barague. In the Rue Planche Mibray old crockery
and household utensils were thrown from the roofs down on the troops;
this was a bad sign, and when Marshal Soult was informed of the fact,
Napoleon's old lieutenant became pensive, for he remembered Suchet's
remark at Saragossa: "We are lost when old women empty their pots de
chambre on our heads." These general symptoms manifested at a moment
when the riots were supposed to be localized, this fever of anger
which regained the upper hand, these will-o'-the-wisps flying here and
there over the profound masses of combustible matter which are called
the faubourgs of Paris, and all the accompanying facts, rendered the
chiefs anxious, and they hastened to extinguish the beginnings of the
conflagration. Until these sparks were quenched, the attacks on the
barricades Maubuée, de la Chanvrerie, and St. Merry were deferred, so
that all might be finished at one blow. Columns of troops were sent
through the streets in a state of fermentation, clearing the large
streets and searching the smaller ones, on the right and on the left,
at one moment slowly and cautiously, at another at quick march. The
troops broke open the doors of the houses whence firing was heard,
and at the same time cavalry manœuvres dispersed the groups on
the boulevards. This repression was not effected without turmoil, and
that tumultuous noise peculiar to collisions between the army and the
people, and it was this that had attracted Enjolras's attention in the
intervals between the cannonading and the platoon fire. Moreover, he
had seen wounded men carried along the end of the street on litters,
and said to Courfeyrac, "Those wounded are not our handiwork."

The hope lasted but a short time, and the gleam was quickly eclipsed.
In less than half an hour what there was in the air vanished; it was
like a flash of lightning without thunder, and the insurgents felt
that leaden pall, which the indifference of the people casts upon
abandoned obstinate men, fall upon them again. The general movement,
which seemed to have been obscurely designed, failed, and the attention
of the Minister of War and the strategy of the generals could now be
concentrated on the three or four barricades that remained standing.
The sun rose on the horizon, and an insurgent addressed Enjolras,--

"We are hungry here. Are we really going to die like this, without

Enjolras, still leaning at his parapet, made a nod of affirmation,
without taking his eyes off the end of the street.



Courfeyrac, seated on a stone by the side of Enjolras, continued to
insult the cannon, and each time that the gloomy shower of projectiles
which is called a grape-shot passed with its monstrous noise he greeted
it with an ironical remark.

"You are wasting your breath, my poor old brute, and I feel sorry for
you, as your row is thrown away. That is not thunder, but a cough."

And those around him laughed Courfeyrac and Bossuet, whose valiant
good-humor increased with danger, made up for the want of food, like
Madame Scarron, by jests, and as wine was short, poured out gayety for

"I admire Enjolras," said Bossuet. "His temerity astonishes me. He
lives alone, which, perhaps, renders him a little sad; and Enjolras is
to be pitied for his greatness, which attaches him to widowhood. We
fellows have all, more or less, mistresses, who make us mad, that is
to say brave, and when a man is as full of love as a tiger the least
he can do is to fight like a lion. That is a way of avenging ourselves
for the tricks which our grisettes play us. Roland lets himself be
killed to vex Angelique, and all our heroism comes from our women. A
man without a woman is like a pistol without a hammer, and it is the
woman who makes the man go off. Well, Enjolras has no woman, he is not
in love, and finds means to be intrepid. It is extraordinary that a man
can be cold as ice and daring as fire."

Enjolras did not appear to listen; but any one who had been near him
might have heard him murmur, in a low voice, _Patria._ Bossuet laughed
again, when Courfeyrac shouted, "Here's something fresh."

And assuming the voice of a groom of the chambers who announces a
visitor, he added,---"Mr. Eight-Pounder."

In fact, a new character had come on the stage; it was a second
piece of artillery. The gunners rapidly got it into position by the
side of the first one, and this was the beginning of the end. A few
minutes later both guns, being actively served, were at work against
the barricade, and the platoon fire of the line and the suburban
National Guards supported the artillery. Another cannonade was audible
some distance off. At the same time that the two guns were furiously
assaulting the redoubt in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, two other pieces
placed in position, one in the Rue St. Denis, the other in the Rue
Aubry le Boucher, were pounding the St. Merry barricade. The four guns
formed a lugubrious echo to one another, the barks of the grim dogs of
war answered one another. Of the two guns now opened on the barricade
of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, one fired shell, the other solid shot.
The gun which fired the latter was pointed at a slight elevation, and
the firing was so calculated that the ball struck the extreme edge of
the crest of the barricades, and hurled the broken paying-stones on
the heads of the insurgents. This mode of fire was intended to drive
the combatants from the top of the redoubt, and compel them to close
up in the interior; that is to say, it announced the assault. Once the
combatants were driven from the top of the barricade by the cannon, and
from the windows of the public-house by the canister, the columns of
attack could venture into the street without being aimed at, perhaps
without even being seen, suddenly escalade the barricade, as on the
previous evening, and take it by surprise.

"The annoyance of these guns must be reduced," said Enjolras; and he
shouted, "Fire at the artillerymen!"

All were ready: the barricade, which had so long been silent, was
belted with flame; seven or eight rounds succeeded one another with
a sort of rage and joy; the street was filled with a blinding smoke,
and at the expiration of a few minutes there might be confusedly
seen through the mist, all striped with flame, two thirds of the
artillerymen lying under the gun-wheels. Those who remained standing
continued to serve the guns with a stern tranquillity, but the fire was

"Things are going well," said Bossuet to Enjolras; "that is a success."

Enjolras shook his head, and replied,--

"Another quarter of an hour of that success, and there will not be ten
cartridges left in the barricade."

It appears that Gavroche heard the remark.



Courfeyrac all at once perceived somebody in the street, at the foot
of the barricade, amid the shower of bullets. Gavroche had fetched a
hamper from the pot-house, passed through the gap, and was quickly
engaged in emptying into it the full cartouche-boxes of the National
Guards killed on the slope of the barricade.

"What are you doing there?" Courfeyrac said.

Gavroche looked up.

"Citizen, I am filling my hamper."

"Do you not see the grape-shot?"

Gavroche replied,--

"Well, it is raining; what then?"

Courfeyrac cried, "Come in."

"Directly," said Gavroche.

And with one bound he reached the street. It will be borne in mind
that Fannicot's company, in retiring, left behind it a number of
corpses; some twenty dead lay here and there all along the pavement
of the street. That made twenty cartouche-boxes for Gavroche, and a
stock of cartridges for the barricade. The smoke lay in the street
like a fog; any one who has seen a cloud in a mountain gorge,
between two precipitous escarpments, can form an idea of this smoke,
contracted, and as it were rendered denser, by the two dark lines
of tall houses. It rose slowly, and was incessantly renewed; whence
came a gradual obscurity, which dulled even the bright daylight. The
combatants could scarce see one another from either end of the street,
which was, however, very short. This darkness, probably desired and
calculated on by the chiefs who were about to direct the assault on
the barricade, was useful for Gavroche. Under the cloak of this smoke,
and thanks to his shortness, he was enabled to advance a considerable
distance along the street unnoticed, and he plundered the first seven
or eight cartouche-boxes without any great danger. He crawled on his
stomach, galloped on all fours, took his hamper in his teeth, writhed,
glided, undulated, wound from one corpse to another, and emptied the
cartouche-box as a monkey opens a nut. They did not cry to him from the
barricade, to which he was still rather close, to return, for fear of
attracting attention to him. On one corpse, which was a corporal's, he
found a powder-flask.

"For thirst," he said, as he put it in his pocket.

While moving forward, he at length reached the point where the fog of
the fire became transparent, so that the sharp-shooters of the line,
drawn up behind their parapet of paving-stones, and the National Guard
at the corner of the street, all at once pointed out to one another
something stirring in the street. At the moment when Gavroche was
taking the cartridges from a sergeant lying near a post, a bullet
struck the corpse.

"Oh, for shame!" said Gavroche; "they are killing my dead for me."

A second bullet caused the stones to strike fire close to him, while
a third upset his hamper. Gavroche looked and saw that it came from
the National Guards. He stood upright, with his hair floating in the
breeze, his hands on his hips, and his eyes fixed on the National
Guards who were firing, and he sang,--

    "On est laid à Nanterre,
    C'est la faute à Voltaire,
    Et bête à Palaiseau,
    C'est la faute à Rousseau."

Then he picked up his hamper, put into it the cartridges scattered
around without missing one, and walked toward the firing party, to
despoil another cartouche-box. Then a fourth bullet missed him.
Gavroche sang,--

    "Je ne suis pas notaire,
    C'est la faute à Voltaire;
    Je suis petit oiseau,
    C'est la faute à Rousseau."

A fifth bullet only succeeded so far as to draw a third couplet from

    "Joie est mon caractère,
    C'est la faute à Voltaire;
    Misère est mon trousseau,
    C'est la faute à Rousseau."

They went on for some time longer, and the sight was at once terrific
and charming; Gavroche, while fired at, ridiculed the firing, and
appeared to be greatly amused. He was like a sparrow deriding the
sportsmen, and answered each discharge by a verse. The troops aimed at
him incessantly, and constantly missed him, and the National Guards
and the soldiers laughed while covering him. He lay down, then rose
again, hid himself in a doorway, then bounded, disappeared, reappeared,
ran off, came back, replied to the grape-shot by putting his fingers
to his nose, and all the while plundered cartridges, emptied boxes,
and filled his hamper. The insurgents watched him, as they panted with
anxiety, but while the barricade trembled he sang. He was not a child,
he was not a man, he was a strange goblin gamin, and he resembled the
invulnerable dwarf of the combat. The bullets ran after him, but he was
more active than they; he played a frightful game of hide-and-seek with
death: and each time that the snub-nosed face of the spectre approached
the gamin gave it a fillip. One bullet, however, better aimed or more
treacherous than the rest, at length struck the will-o'-the-wisp lad;
Gavroche was seen to totter and then sink. The whole barricade uttered
a cry, but there was an Antæus in this pygmy: for a gamin to touch the
pavement is like the giant touching the earth; and Gavroche had only
fallen to rise again. He remained in a sitting posture, a long jet of
blood ran down his face, he raised both arms in the air, looked in the
direction whence the shot had come, and began singing,--

    "Je suis tombé par terre,
    C'est la faute à Voltaire;
    Le nez dans le ruisseau,
    C'est la faute à--"

He did not finish, for a second shot from the same marksman stopped him
short. This time he lay with his face on the pavement, and did not stir
again. This little great soul had flown away.

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF GAVROCHE.]



There were at this very moment in the Luxembourg garden--for the eye
of the drama must be everywhere present--two lads holding each other's
hand. One might be seven, the other five, years of age. As they were
wet through with the rain they walked along sunshiny paths; the elder
led the younger, both were in rags and pale, and they looked like wild
birds. The younger said, "I am very hungry." The elder, who had already
a protecting air, led his brother with the left hand, and had a switch
in his right. They were alone in the garden, which was deserted, as the
gates were closed by police order on account of the insurrection. The
troops who had bivouacked there had issued forth for the exigences of
the combat. How were these children here? Perhaps they had escaped from
some guard-room where the door was left ajar; perhaps in the vicinity,
at the Barrière d'Enfer, on the esplanade of the Observatory, or in the
neighboring square overshadowed by the cornice, on which may be read,
_Invenerunt parvulum pannis involutum_, there was some mountebank's
booth from which they had fled; perhaps they had on the previous
evening kept out of sight of the garden inspectors at the hour of
closing, and had spent the night in one of those summer-houses in which
people read the papers: the fact is, that they were wandering about,
and seemed to be free. To be a wanderer, and to appear free, is to be
lost, and these poor little creatures were really lost The two lads
were the same about whom Gavroche had been in trouble, and whom the
reader will remember, sons of Thénardier, let out to Magnon, attributed
to M. Gillenormand, and now leaves fallen from all these rootless
branches, and rolled along the ground by the wind.

Their clothes, clean in the time of Magnon, and which served her as
a prospectus to M. Gillenormand, had become rags; and these beings
henceforth belonged to the statistics of "deserted children," whom
the police pick up, lose, and find again on the pavement of Paris. It
needed the confusion of such a day as this for these two poor little
wretches to be in this garden. If the inspectors had noticed these rags
they would have expelled them, for poor little lads do not enter public
gardens, and yet it ought to be remembered that as children they have a
right to flowers. They were here, thanks to the locked gates, and were
committing an offence; they had stepped into the garden and remained
there. Though locked gates do not give a holiday to the keepers, and
their surveillance is supposed to continue, it grows weaker and rests;
and the inspectors, also affected by the public affairs, and more
busied about the outside than the inside, did not look at the garden,
and had not seen the two delinquents. It had rained on the previous
evening, and even slightly on this morning, but in June, showers are of
no great consequence. People hardly perceive, an hour after a storm,
that this fair beauteous day has wept, for the earth dries up as
rapidly as a child's cheek. At this moment of the solstice the midday
light is, so to speak, poignant, and it seizes everything. It clings to
and spreads itself over the earth with a sort of suction, and we might
say that the sun is thirsty. A shower is a glass of water, and rain is
at once drunk up. In the morning everything glistens, in the afternoon
everything is dusty. Nothing is so admirable as verdure cleansed by
the rain and dried by the sun; it is warm freshness. Gardens and
fields, having water in their roots and sunshine in their flowers,
become censers of incense, and smoke with all their perfumes at once.
Everything laughs, sings, and offers itself, and we feel softly
intoxicated: summer is a temporary Paradise, and the sun helps man to
be patient.

There are beings who ask no more,--living creatures who, having the
azure of heaven, say it is enough; dreamers absorbed in the prodigy,
drawing from the idolatry of nature indifference to good and evil;
contemplators of the Cosmos, radiantly distracted from man, who do not
understand how people can trouble themselves about the hunger of one
person, the thirst of another, the nudity of the poor man in winter,
the lymphatic curvature of a small backbone, the truck-bed, the garret,
the cell, and the rags of young shivering girls, when they can dream
under the trees: they are peaceful and terrible minds, pitilessly
satisfied, and, strange to say, infinitude suffices them. They ignore
that great want of man, the finite which admits of an embrace, and do
not dream of the finite which admits of progress, that sublime toil.
The indefinite, which springs from the divine and human combination
of the infinite and the finite, escapes them, and provided that they
can be face to face with immensity, they smile. They never feel joy,
but always ecstasy, and their life is one of abstraction. The history
of humanity is to them but a grand detail: the All is not in it, the
All remains outside of it. Of what use is it to trouble one's self
about that item, man? Man suffers, it is possible, but just look at
Aldebaran rising! The mother has no milk left, the new-born babe is
dying. I know nothing of all that, but just look at the marvellous rose
made by a sprig of hawthorn when looked at through a microscope; just
compare the finest Mechlin lace with that! These thinkers forget to
love, and the zodiac has such an attraction over them that it prevents
them seeing the weeping child. God eclipses their soul, and they are a
family of minds at once great and little. Homer belonged to it; so did
Goethe, and possibly Lafontaine, magnificent egotists of the infinite,
calm spectators of sorrow, who do not see Nero if the weather be fine;
from whom the sun hides the pyre; who would look at a guillotining to
seek a light effect in it; who hear neither cries nor sobs, nor the
death-rattle nor the tocsin; for whom everything is good, since there
is the month of May; who so long as they have clouds of purple and gold
above their heads declare themselves satisfied; and who are determined
to be happy until the radiance of the stars and the song of birds are

These are darkly radiant, and they do not suspect that they are to be
pitied. But they are certainly so, for the man who does not weep does
not see. We must admire and pity them, as we would pity and admire a
being at once night and day, who had no eyes under his brows, but a
star in the centre of his forehead. The indifference of these thinkers
is, according to some, a grand philosophy. Be it so; but in this
superiority there is infirmity. A man may be immortal and limp, as
witness Vulcan, and he may be more than man and less than man; there
is immense incompleteness in nature, and who knows whether the sun be
not blind? But in that case, whom to trust? _Solem quis dicere falsum
audeat?_ Hence, certain geniuses, certain human deities, star-men,
might be mistaken? What is above at the summit, at the zenith, which
pours so much light on the earth, might see little, see badly, not see
at all? Is not that desperate? No: but what is there above the sun? God.

On June 6, 1832, at about eleven in the forenoon, the Luxembourg,
solitary and depopulated, was delicious. The quincunxes and flower-beds
sent balm and dazzlement into the light, and the branches, wild in the
brilliancy of midday, seemed trying to embrace one another. There was
in the sycamores a twittering of linnets, the sparrows were triumphal,
and the woodpeckers crept along the chestnut, gently tapping holes in
the bark. The beds accepted the legitimate royalty of the lilies, for
the most august of perfumes is that which issues from whiteness. The
sharp odor of the carnations was inhaled, and the old rooks of Marie
de Medicis made love on the lofty trees. The sun gilded, purpled,
and illumined the tulips, which are nothing but all the varieties of
flame made into flowers. All around the tulip-beds hummed the bees,
the flashes of these fire-flowers. All was grace and gayety, even the
coming shower, for that relapse by which the lilies of the valley
and honeysuckles would profit had nothing alarming about it, and the
swallows made the delicious menace of flying low. What was there
inhaled happiness: life smelt pleasantly, and all this nature exhaled
candor, help, assistance, paternity, caresses, and dawn. The thoughts
that fell from heaven were as soft as a babe's little hand that we
kiss. The statues under the trees, nude and white, were robed in
dresses of shadow shot with light; these goddesses were all ragged with
sunshine, and beams hung from them on all sides. Around the great basin
the earth was already so dry as to be parched, and there was a breeze
sufficiently strong to create here and there small riots of dust. A
few yellow leaves remaining from the last autumn joyously pursued one
another, and seemed to be sporting.

The abundance of light had something strangely reassuring about it;
life, sap, heat, and exhalations overflowed, and the greatness of the
source could be felt beneath creation. In all these blasts penetrated
with love, in this movement of reflections and gleams, in this
prodigious expenditure of beams, and in this indefinite outpouring of
fluid gold, the prodigality of the inexhaustible could be felt; and
behind this splendor, as behind a curtain of flames, glimpses of God,
that millionnaire of the stars, could be caught. Thanks to the sand,
there was not a speck of mud; and, thanks to the rain, there was not a
grain of dust The bouquets had just performed their ablutions, and all
the velvets, all the satins, all the varnish, and all the gold which
issue from the earth in the shape of flowers, were irreproachable.
This magnificence was clean, and the grand silence of happy nature
filled the garden,--a heavenly silence, compatible with a thousand
strains of music, the fondling tones from the nests, the buzzing of
the swarms, and the palpitations of the wind. All the harmony of the
season was blended into a graceful whole, the entrances and exits of
spring took place in the desired order, the lilacs were finishing,
and the jessamine beginning, a few flowers were behindhand, a few
insects before their time, and the vanguard of the red butterflies of
June fraternized with the rearguard of the white butterflies of May.
The plane-trees were putting on a fresh skin, and the breeze formed
undulations in the magnificent enormity of the chest-nut-trees. It was
splendid. A veteran from the adjoining barracks who was looking through
the railings said, "Spring presents arms in full dress."

All nature was breakfasting; the creation was at table; it was the
hour: the great blue cloth was laid in heaven, and the great green
one on earth, while the sun gave an _à giorno_ illumination. God was
serving His universal meal, and each being had its pasture or its
pasty. The wood-pigeon found hempseed, the chaffinch found millet, the
goldfinch found chickweed, the redbreast found worms, the bee found
flowers, the fly found infusoria, and the greenfinch found flies. They
certainly devoured one another to some extent, which is the mystery of
evil mingled with good, but not a single animal had an empty stomach.
The two poor abandoned boys had got near the great basin, and somewhat
confused by all this light, tried to hide themselves, which is the
instinct of the poor and the weak in the presence of magnificence, even
when it is impersonal, and they kept behind the swan's house. Now and
then, at intervals when the wind blew, confused shouts, a rumbling,
a sort of tumultuous death-rattle which was musketry, and dull blows
which were cannon-shots, could be heard. There was smoke above the
roofs in the direction of the markets, and a bell which seemed to be
summoning sounded in the distance. The children did not seem to notice
the noises, and the younger lad repeated every now and then in a low
voice, "I am hungry."

Almost simultaneously with the two boys another couple approached
the basin, consisting of a man of about fifty, leading by the hand a
boy of six years of age. It was doubtless a father with his son. The
younger of the two had a cake in his hand. At this period certain
contiguous houses in the Rue Madame and the Rue d'Enfer had keys to
the Luxembourg, by which the lodgers could let themselves in when the
gates were locked; but this permission has since been withdrawn. This
father and son evidently came from one of these houses. The two poor
little creatures saw "this gentleman" coming, and hid themselves a
little more. He was a citizen, and perhaps the same whom Marius during
his love-fever had one day heard near the same great basin counselling
his son "to avoid excesses." He had an affable and haughty look, and a
mouth which, as it did not close, always smiled. This mechanical smile,
produced by too much jaw and too little skin, shows the teeth rather
than the soul. The boy with the bitten cake which he had not finished,
seemed glutted; the boy was dressed in a National Guard's uniform, on
account of the riots, and the father remained in civilian garb for the
sake of prudence. Father and son had halted near the great basin, in
which the two swans were disporting. This bourgeois appeared to have a
special admiration for the swans, and resembled them in the sense that
he walked like them. At this moment the swans were swimming, which is
their principal talent, and were superb. Had the two little fellows
listened, and been of an age to comprehend, they might have overheard
the remarks of a serious man; the father was saying to his son,--

"The sage lives contented with little; look at me, my son, I do not
care for luxury. You never see me in a coat glistening with gold and
precious stones; I leave that false lustre to badly-organized minds."

Here the deep shouts which came from the direction of the Halles broke
out, with a redoublement of hells and noise.

"What is that?" the lad asked.

The father replied,--

"That is the saturnalia."

All at once he perceived the two little ragged boys standing motionless
behind the swan's green house.

"Here is the beginning," he said.

And after a silence he added,--

"Anarchy enters this garden."

In the mean while the boy bit the cake, spat it out again, and suddenly
began crying.

"Why are you crying?" the father asked.

"I am no longer hungry," said the boy.

The father's smile became more marked than ever.

"You need not be hungry to eat a cake."

"I am tired of cake; it is so filling."

"Don't you want any more?"


The father showed him the swans.

"Throw it to those palmipeds."

The boy hesitated, for if he did not want any more cake that was no
reason to give it away.

The father continued,--

"Be humane: you ought to have pity on animals."

And, taking the cake from his son, he threw it into the basin, where it
fell rather near the bank. The swans were some distance off, near the
centre of the basin, and engaged with some prey: they had seen neither
the citizen nor the cake. The citizen, feeling that the cake ran a
risk of being lost, and affected by this useless shipwreck, began a
telegraphic agitation which eventually attracted the attention of the
swans. They noticed something floating on the surface, tacked, like the
vessels they are, and came towards the cake slowly, with the majesty
that befits white beasts.

"Swans understand signs," said the bourgeois, pleased at his own

At this moment the distant tumult of the city was suddenly swollen.
This time it was sinister, and there are some puffs of wind which
speak more distinctly than others. The one which blew at this moment
distinctly brought up the rolling of drums, shouts, platoon fires, and
the mournful replies of the tocsin, and the cannon. This coincided with
a black cloud which suddenly veiled the sky. The swans had not yet
reached the cake.

"Let us go home," the father said; "they are attacking the Tuileries,"

He seized his son's hand again, and then continued,---

"From the Tuileries to the Luxembourg there is only the distance which
separates the royalty from the peerage; and that is not far. It is
going to rain musketry."

He looked at the cloud,--

"And perhaps we shall have rain of the other sort too; heaven is
interfering: the younger branch is condemned. Let us make haste home."

"I should like to see the swans eat the cake," said the boy.

"It would be imprudent," the father answered; and he led away his
little bourgeois. The son, regretting the swans, turned his head
toward the basin, until a bend in the quincunxes concealed it from
him. The two little vagabonds had in the mean while approached the
cake simultaneously with the swans. It was floating on the water; the
smaller boy looked at the cake; the other looked at the citizen, who
was going off. Father and son entered the labyrinth of trees that runs
to the grand staircase of the clump of trees in the direction of the
Rue Madame. When they were no longer in sight, the elder hurriedly lay
down full length on the rounded bank of the basin, and holding by his
left hand, while bending over the water, till he all but fell in, he
stretched out his switch toward the cake with the other. The swans,
seeing the enemy, hastened up, and in hastening their breasts produced
an effect useful to the little fisher: the water flowed back in front
of the swans, and one of the gentle, concentric undulations slightly
impelled the cake toward the boy's switch. When the swans came up, the
stick was touching the cake; the lad gave a quick blow, startled the
swans, seized the cake, and arose. The cake was soaking, but they were
hungry and thirsty. The elder boy divided the cake into two parts, a
large one and a small one, kept the small one for himself, and gave the
larger piece to his brother, saying,--

"Shove that into your gun."



Marius rushed out of the barricade, and Combeferre followed him; but it
was too late, and Gavroche was dead. Combeferre brought in the hamper
of cartridges, and Marius the boy. Alas! he thought he was requiting
the son for what the father had done for his father; but Thénardier had
brought in his father alive, while he brought in the lad dead. When
Marius re-entered the barricade with Gavroche in his arms, his face was
deluged with blood, like the boy's; for at the very instant when he
stooped to pick up Gavroche, a bullet had grazed his skull, but he had
not noticed it. Courfeyrac took off his neckcloth and bound Marius's
forehead; Gavroche was deposited on the same table with Mabœuf,
and the black shawl was spread over both bodies; it was large enough
for the old man and the child. Combeferre distributed the cartridges
which he had brought in, and they gave each man fifteen rounds to fire.
Jean Valjean was still at the same spot, motionless on his bench. When
Combeferre offered him his fifteen cartridges he shook his head.

"That is a strange eccentric," Combeferre said in a whisper to
Enjolras. "He manages not to fight inside this barricade."

"Which does not prevent him from defending it," Enjolras answered.

"Heroism has its original characters," Combeferre resumed.

And Courfeyrac, who overheard him, said,--

"He is a different sort from Father Mabœuf."

It is a thing worth mentioning, that the fire which struck the
barricade scarce disturbed the interior. Those who have never passed
the tornado of a warfare of this nature cannot form any idea of the
singular moments of calmness mingled with these convulsions. Men
come and go, they talk, they jest, they idle. A friend of ours heard
a combatant say to him, in the midst of the grape-shot, "It is like
being at a bachelor's breakfast here." The redoubt in the Rue de la
Chanvrerie, we repeat, appeared internally most calm; and all the
incidents and phases were, or would shortly be, exhausted. The position
had become from critical menacing, and from menacing was probably about
to become desperate. In proportion as the situation grew darker an
heroic gleam more and more purpled the barricade. Enjolras commanded
it in the attitude of a young Spartan, devoting his bare sword to the
gloomy genius, Epidotas. Combeferre, with an apron tied round him, was
dressing the wounded. Bossuet and Feuilly were making cartridges with
the powder-flask found by Gavroche on the dead corporal, and Bossuet
was saying to Feuilly, "We are soon going to take the diligence for
another planet." Courfeyrac, seated on the few paving-stones which he
had set aside near Enjolras, was preparing and arranging an entire
arsenal--his sword-cane, his gun, two hostler-pistols, and a club--
with the ease of a girl setting a small what-not in order. Jean
Valjean was silently looking at the wall facing him, and a workman was
fastening on his head, with a piece of string, a broad-brimmed straw
bonnet of Mother Hucheloup's, "for fear of sun-strokes," as he said.
The young men of the Aix Cougourde were gayly chatting together, as if
desirous to talk patois for the last time: Joly, who had taken down
Widow Hucbeloup's mirror, was examining his tongue in it; while a few
combatants, who had discovered some nearly mouldering crusts of bread
in a drawer, were eating them greedily. Marius was anxious about what
his father would say to him.



We must lay a stress upon a psychological fact peculiar to barricades,
for nothing which characterizes this surprising war of streets ought
to be omitted. Whatever the internal tranquillity to which we have
just referred may be, the barricade does not the less remain a vision
for those who are inside it There is an apocalypse in a civil war, all
the darkness of the unknown world is mingled with these stern flashes,
revolutions are sphinxes, and any one who has stood behind a barricade
believes that he has gone through a dream. What is felt at these spots,
as we have shown in the matter of Marius, and whose consequences we
shall see, is more and less than life. On leaving a barricade, a man
no longer knows what he has seen; he may have been terrible, but he is
ignorant of the fact. He has been surrounded there by combating ideas
which possessed human faces, and had his head in the light of futurity.
There were corpses laid low and phantoms standing upright; and the
hours were colossal, and seemed hours of eternity. A man has lived in
death, and shadows have passed. What was it? He has seen hands on which
was blood; it was a deafening din, but at the same time a startling
silence: there were open mouths that cried, and other open mouths which
were silent, and men were in smoke, perhaps in night. A man fancies he
has touched the sinister dripping of unknown depths, and he looks at
something red which he has in his nails, but he no longer recollects

Let us return to the Rue de la Chanvrerie. Suddenly, between two
discharges, the distant sound of a clock striking was heard.

"It is midday," said Combeferre.

The twelve strokes had not died out ere Enjolras drew himself up to his
full height and hurled the loud cry from the top of the barricade,--

"Take up the paving-stones into the house, and line the windows with
them. One half of you to the stones, the other half to the muskets.
There is not a moment to lose."

A party of sappers, with their axes on their shoulders, had just
appeared in battle-array at the end of the street. This could only
be the head of a column; and of what column? Evidently the column
of attack; for the sappers ordered to demolish the barricade always
precede the troops appointed to escalade it. It was plain that the
moment was at hand which M. Clermont Tonnerre called in 1822 "a strong

Enjolras's order was carried out with that correct speed peculiar to
ships and barricades, the only two battle-fields whence escape is
impossible. In less than a minute two thirds of the paving-stones which
Enjolras had ordered to be piled up against the door of Corinth were
carried to the first-floor and attic, and before a second minute had
passed these paving-stones, artistically laid on one another, walled
up one half of the window. A few spaces carefully arranged by Feuilly,
the chief constructor, allowed the gun-barrels to pass through. This
armament of the windows was the more easily effected because the
grape-shot had ceased. The two cannon were now firing solid shot at the
centre of the barricade, in order to make a hole, and if possible a
breach, for the assault. When the stones intended for the final assault
were in their places, Enjolras carried to the first-floor the bottles
he had placed under the table on which Mabœuf lay.

"Who will drink that?" Bossuet asked him.

"They will," Enjolras answered.

Then the ground-floor window was also barricaded, and the iron bars
which closed the door at night were held in readiness. The fortress
was complete; the barricade was the rampart, and the wine-shop the
keep. With the paving-stones left over the gap was stopped up. As the
defenders of a barricade are always obliged to save their ammunition,
and the besiegers are aware of the fact, the latter combine their
arrangements with a sort of irritating leisure, expose themselves
before the time to the fire, though more apparently than in reality,
and take their ease. The preparations for the attack are always made
with a certain methodical slowness, and after that comes the thunder.
This slowness enabled Enjolras to revise and render everything perfect.
He felt that since such men were about to die, their death must be a
masterpiece. He said to Marius,--

"We are the two chiefs. I am going to give the final orders inside,
while you remain outside and watch."

Marius posted himself in observation on the crest of the barricade,
while Enjolras had the door of the kitchen, which it will be remembered
served as ambulance, nailed up.

"No splashing on the wounded," he said.

He gave his final instructions in the ground-floor room in a sharp but
wonderfully calm voice, and Feuilly listened and answered in the name
of all.

"At the first-floor hold axes ready to cut down the stairs. Have you

"Yes," Feuilly answered.

"How many?"

"Two axes and a crowbar."

"Very good. In all, twenty-six fighting men left. How many guns are


"Eight too many. Keep those guns loaded like the others, and within
reach. Place your sabres and pistols in your belts. Twenty men to
the barricade. Six will ambush themselves in the garret and at the
first-floor window, to fire on the assailants through the loop-holes in
the paving-stones. There must not be an idle workman here. Presently,
when the drummer sounds the charge, the twenty men below will rush to
the barricade, and the first to arrive will be the best placed."

These arrangements made, he turned to Javert, and said to him,--

"I have not forgotten you."

And laying a pistol on the table he added,--

"The last man to leave here will blow out this spy's brains."

"Here?" a voice answered.

"No, let us not have this corpse near ours. It is easy to stride over
the small barricade in Mondétour Lane, as it is only four feet high.
This man is securely bound, so lead him there and execute him."

Some one was at this moment even more stoical than Enjolras; it was
Javert. Here Jean Valjean appeared; he was mixed up with the group of
insurgents, but stepped forward and said to Enjolras,--

"Are you the commander?"


"You thanked me just now."

"In the name of the Republic. The barricade has two saviors,--Marius
Pontmercy and yourself."

"Do you think that I deserve a reward?"


"Well, then, I ask one."

"What is it?"

"To let me blow out that man's brains myself."

Javert raised his head, saw Jean Valjean, gave an imperceptible start,
and said, "It is fair."

As for Enjolras, he was reloading his gun. He looked around him.

"Is there no objection?"

And he turned to Jean Valjean.

"Take the spy."

Jean Valjean took possession of Javert by seating himself on the end of
the table. He seized the pistol, and a faint clink showed that he had
cocked it. Almost at the same moment the bugle-call was heard.

"Mind yourselves!" Marius shouted from the top of the barricade.

Javert began laughing that noiseless laugh peculiar to him, and,
looking intently at the insurgents, said to them,--

"You are no healthier than I am."

"All outside," Enjolras cried.

The insurgents rushed tumultuously forth, and as they passed, Javert
smote them on the back, so to speak, with the expression, "We shall
meet again soon."



So soon as Jean Valjean was alone with Javert he undid the rope which
fastened the prisoner round the waist, the knot of which was under the
table. After this, he made him a signal to rise. Javert obeyed with
that indefinable smile in which the supremacy of enchained authority is
condensed. Jean Valjean seized Javert by the martingale, as he would
have taken an ox by its halter, and dragging him after him, quitted
the wine-shop slowly, for Javert, having his feet hobbled, could only
take very short steps. Jean Valjean held the pistol in his hand, and
they thus crossed the inner trapeze of the barricade; the insurgents,
prepared for the imminent attack, turned their backs.

Marius alone, placed at the left extremity of the barricade, saw them
pass. This group of the victim and the executioner was illumined by the
sepulchral gleams which he had in his soul. Jean Valjean forced Javert
to climb over the barricade with some difficulty, but did not loosen
the cord. When they had crossed the bar, they found themselves alone
in the lane, and no one could now see them, for the elbow formed by
the houses hid them from the insurgents. The corpses removed from the
barricade formed a horrible pile a few paces from them. Among the dead
could be distinguished a livid face, dishevelled hair, a pierced hand,
and a half-naked female bosom; it was Éponine. Javert looked askance at
this dead girl, and said with profound calmness,--

"It seems to me I know that girl."

Then he turned to Jean Valjean, who placed the pistol under his arm,
and fixed on Javert a glance which had no need of words to say,
"Javert, it is I."

Javert answered, "Take your revenge."

Jean Valjean took a knife from his pocket and opened it.

"A clasp-knife," Javert exclaimed. "You are right, that suits you

Jean Valjean cut the martingale which Javert had round his neck, then
he cut the ropes on his wrists, and stooping down, those on his feet;
then rising again, he said, "You are free."

It was not easy to astonish Javert, still, master though he was of
himself, he could not suppress his emotion; he stood gaping and
motionless, while Jean Valjean continued,--

"I do not believe that I shall leave this place. Still, if by accident
I do, I live under the name of Fauchelevent, at No. 7, Rue de l'Homme

Javert gave a tigerish frown, which opened a corner of his mouth, and
muttered between his teeth,--

"Take care!"

"Begone!" said Jean Valjean.

Javert added,--

"You said Fauchelevent, Rue de l'Homme Armé?"

"No. 7."

Javert repeated in a low voice,---"No. 7."

He rebuttoned his frock-coat, restored his military stiffness between
his shoulders, made a half turn, crossed his arms while supporting his
chin with one of his hands, and walked off in the direction of the
markets. Jean Valjean looked after him. After going a few yards Javert
turned and said,--

"You annoy me. I would sooner be killed by you."

Javert did not even notice that he no longer addressed Jean Valjean
with familiarity.

"Begone!" said Jean Valjean.

Javert retired slowly, and a moment after turned the corner of the Rue
des Prêcheurs. When Javert had disappeared, Jean Valjean discharged the
pistol in the air, and then returned to the barricade, saying,--

"It is all over."

This is what had taken place in the mean while. Marius, more occupied
with the outside than the inside, had not hitherto attentively regarded
the spy fastened up at the darkened end of the ground-floor room. When
he saw him in the open daylight bestriding the barricade, he recognized
him, and a sudden hope entered his mind. He remembered the inspector of
the Rue de Pontoise, and the two pistols he had given him, which he,
Marius, had employed at this very barricade, and he not only remembered
his face but his name.

This recollection, however, was foggy and disturbed, like all his
ideas. It was not an affirmation he made so much as a question which he
asked himself. "Is that not the Police Inspector, who told me that his
name was Javert?" Marius shouted to Enjolras, who had just stationed
himself at the other end of the barricade,--



"What is that man's name?"

"Which man?"

"The police agent. Do you know his name?"

"Of course I do, for he told it to us."

"What is it?"


Marius started, but at this moment a pistol-shot was heard, and Jean
Valjean reappeared, saying, "_It is all over._" A dark chill crossed
Marius's heart.



The death-struggles of the barricade were about to begin, and
everything added to the tragical majesty of this supreme moment,--a
thousand mysterious sounds in the air, the breathing of armed masses
set in motion in streets which could not be seen, the intermittent
gallop of cavalry, the heavy rumor of artillery, the platoon firing and
the cannonade crossing each other in the labyrinth of Paris, the smoke
of the battle rising all golden above the roofs, distant and vaguely
terrible cries, flashes of menace everywhere, the tocsin of St. Merry,
which now had the sound of a sob, the mildness of the season, the
splendor of the sky full of sunshine and clouds, the beauty of the day,
and the fearful silence of the houses. For since the previous evening
the two rows of houses in the Rue de la Chanvrerie had become two
walls,--ferocious walls with closed doors, closed windows, and closed

At that day, so different from the present time, when the hour arrived
in which the people wished to be done with a situation which had lasted
too long, with a conceded charter or a restricted suffrage, when
the universal wrath was diffused in the atmosphere, when the city
consented to an upheaving of paving-stones, when the insurrection made
the bourgeoisie smile by whispering its watchword in their ear, then
the inhabitant, impregnated with riot, so to speak, was the auxiliary
of the combatant, and the house fraternized with the improvised
fortress which it supported. When the situation was not ripe, when the
insurrection was not decidedly accepted, when the masses disavowed the
movement, it was all over with the combatants, the town was changed
into a desert round the revolt, minds were chilled, the asylums were
walled up, and the street became converted into a defile to help
the army in taking the barricade. A people cannot be forced to move
faster than it wishes by a surprise, and woe to the man who tries to
compel it; a people will not put up with it, and then it abandons the
insurrection to itself. The insurgents become lepers; a house is an
escarpment, a door is a refusal, and a façade is a wall. This wall
sees, hears, and will not; it might open and save you, but no, the wall
is a judge, and it looks at you and condemns you. What gloomy things
are these closed houses! They seem dead though they are alive, and
life, which is, as it were, suspended, clings to them. No one has come
out for the last four-and-twenty hours, but no one is absent. In the
interior of this rock people come and go, retire to bed and rise again;
they are in the bosom of their family, they eat and drink, and are
afraid, terrible to say. Fear excuses this formidable inhospitality,
and the alarm offers extenuating circumstanced. At times even, and this
has been witnessed, the fear becomes a passion, and terror may be
changed into fury, and prudence into rage; hence the profound remark,
"The enraged moderates." There are flashes of supreme terror, from
which passion issues like a mournful smoke. "What do these people want?
They are never satisfied; they compromise peaceable men. As if we had
not had revolutions of that nature! What have they come to do here? Let
them get out of it as they can. All the worse for them, it is their
fault, and they have only what they deserve. That does not concern
us. Look at our poor street torn to pieces by cannon: they are a heap
of scamps; above all do not open the door." And the house assumes the
aspect of a tomb: the insurgent dies a lingering death before their
door; he sees the grape-shot and naked sabres arrive; if he cries out,
he knows there are people who hear him but will not help him; there are
walls which might protect him, and men who might save him, and these
walls have ears of flesh, and these men have entrails of stone.

Whom should we accuse? Nobody and everybody,--the imperfect times in
which we live. It is always at its own risk and peril that the Utopia
converts itself into an insurrection, and becomes an armed protest
instead of a philosophic protest,--a Pallas and no longer a Minerva.
The Utopia which grows impatient and becomes a riot knows what awaits
it, and it nearly always arrives too soon. In that case it resigns
itself, and stoically accepts the catastrophe in lieu of a triumph.
It serves, without complaining, and almost exculpating them, those
who deny it, and its magnanimity is to consent to abandonment. It is
indomitable against obstacles, and gentle toward ingratitude. Is it
ingratitude after all? Yes, from the human point of view; no, from the
individual point of view. Progress is the fashion of man; the general
life of the human race is called progress; and the collective step of
the human race is also called progress. Progress marches; it makes the
great human and earthly journey toward the celestial and divine; it
has its halts where it rallies the straying flock; it has its stations
where it meditates, in the presence of some splendid Canaan suddenly
unveiling its horizon; it has its nights when it sleeps; and it is one
of the poignant anxieties of the thinker to see the shadow on the human
soul, and to feel in the darkness sleeping progress, without being able
to awaken it.

"God is perhaps dead," Gérard de Nerval said one day to the writer of
these lines, confounding progress with God, and taking the interruption
of the movement for the death of the Being. The man who despairs is
wrong: progress infallibly reawakens, and we might say that it moves
even when sleeping, for it has grown. When we see it upright again
we find that it is taller. To be ever peaceful depends no more on
progress than on the river; do not raise a bar, or throw in a rock,
for the obstacle makes the water foam, and humanity boil. Hence come
troubles; but after these troubles we notice that way has been made.
Until order, which is nought else than universal peace, is established,
until harmony and unity reign, progress will have revolutions for
its halting-places. What, then, is progress? We have just said, the
permanent life of the peoples. Now, it happens at times that the
momentary life of individuals offers a resistance to the eternal life
of the human race.

Let us avow without bitterness that the individual has his distinct
interest, and can without felony stipulate for that interest and defend
it; the present has its excusable amount of egotism, momentary right
has its claims, and cannot be expected to sacrifice itself incessantly
to the future. The generation which at the present moment is passing
over the earth is not forced to abridge it for the generations, its
equals, after all, whose turn will come at a later date. "I exist,"
murmurs that some one, who is everybody. "I am young and in love, I am
old and wish to rest, I am father of a family, I work, I prosper, I do
a good business, I have houses to let, I have money in the funds, I
am happy, I have wife and children, I like all that, I wish to live,
and so leave us at peace." Hence at certain hours a profound coldness
falls on the magnanimous vanguard of the human race. Utopia, moreover,
we confess it, emerges from its radiant sphere in waging war. It, the
truth of to-morrow, borrows its process, battle, from the falsehood
of yesterday. It, the future, acts like the past; it, the pure idea,
becomes an assault. It complicates its heroism with a violence for
which it is but fair that it should answer,--a violence of opportunity
and expediency, contrary to principles, and for which it is fatally
punished. The Utopia, when in a state of insurrection, combats with
the old military code in its hand; it shoots spies, executes traitors,
suppresses living beings and hurls them into unknown darkness. It makes
use of death, a serious thing. It seems that the Utopia no longer pats
faith in the radiance, which is its irresistible and incorruptible
strength. It strikes with the sword, but no sword is simple; every
sword has two edges, and the man who wounds with one wounds himself
with the other.

This reservation made, and made with all severity, it is impossible for
us not to admire, whether they succeed or no, the glorious combatants
of the future, the confessors of the Utopia. Even when they fail they
are venerable, and it is perhaps in ill-success that they possess
most majesty. Victory, when in accordance with progress, deserves the
applause of the peoples, but an heroic defeat merits their tenderness.
The one is magnificent, the other sublime. With us who prefer martyrdom
to success, John Brown is greater than Washington, and Pisacane greater
than Garibaldi. There should be somebody to take the part of the
conquered, and people are unjust to these great assayers of the future
when they foil. Revolutionists are accused of sowing terror, and every
barricade appears an attack. Their theory is incriminated, their object
is suspected, their after-thought is apprehended, and their conscience
is denounced. They are reproached with elevating and erecting against
the reigning social fact a pile of miseries, griefs, iniquities, and
despair, and with pulling down in order to barricade themselves behind
the ruins and combat. People shout to them, "You are unpaving hell!"
And they might answer, "That is the reason why our barricade is made
of good intentions." The best thing is certainly the pacific solution;
after all, let us allow, when people see the pavement, they think of
the bear, and it is a good will by which society is alarmed. But it
depends on society to save itself, and we appeal to its own good-will.
No violent remedy is necessary: study the evil amicably, and then cure
it,--that is all we desire.

However this may be, those men, even when they have fallen, and
especially then, are august, who at all points of the universe, with
their eyes fixed on France, are struggling for the great work with the
inflexible logic of the ideal; they give their life as a pure gift
for progress, they accomplish the will of Providence, and perform a
religious act. At the appointed hour, with as much disinterestedness as
an actor who takes up his cue, they enter the tomb in obedience to the
divine scenario, and they accept this hopeless combat and this stoical
disappearance in order to lead to its splendid and superior universal
consequences. The magnificent human movement irresistibly began on July
14. These soldiers are priests, and the French revolution is a gesture
of God. Moreover, there are--and it is proper to add this distinction
to the distinctions already indicated in another chapter,--there are
accepted insurrections which are called revolutions; and there are
rejected revolutions which are called riots. An insurrection which
breaks out is an idea which passes its examination in the presence of
the people. If the people drops its blackball, the idea is dry fruit,
and the insurrection is a street-riot. Waging war at every appeal and
each time that the Utopia desires it is not the fact of the peoples;
for nations have not always, and at all hours, the temperament of
heroes and martyrs. They are positive; _a priori_ insurrection is
repulsive to them, in the first place, because it frequently has
a catastrophe for result, and, secondly, because it always has an
abstraction as its starting-point.

For, and this is a grand fact, those who devote themselves do so for
the ideal, and the ideal alone. An insurrection is an enthusiasm, and
enthusiasm may become a fury, whence comes an upraising of muskets. But
every insurrection which aims at a government or a regime aims higher.
Hence, for instance, we will dwell on the fact that what the chiefs of
the insurrection of 1832, and especially the young enthusiasts of the
Rue de la Chanvrerie, combated was not precisely Louis Philippe. The
majority, speaking candidly, did justice to the qualities of this king
who stood between monarchy and revolution, and not one of them hated
him. But they attacked the younger branch of the right divine in Louis
Philippe, as they had attacked the elder branch in Charles X., and what
they wished to overthrow in overthrowing the Monarchy in France was, as
we have explained, the usurpation of man over man, and the privilege
opposing right throughout the universe. Paris without a king has as its
counterstroke the world without despots. They reasoned in this way.
Their object was far off without doubt, vague perhaps, and retreating
before the effort, but grand.

So it is. And men sacrifice themselves for these visions, which are
for the sacrificed nearly always illusions, but illusions with which
the whole of human certainty is mingled. The insurgent poetizes and
gilds the insurrection, and men hurl themselves into these tragical
things, intoxicating themselves upon what they are about to do. Who
knows? Perhaps they will succeed; they are the minority; they have
against them an entire army; but they are defending the right, natural
law, the sovereignty of each over himself, which allows of no possible
abdication, justice, and truth, and, if necessary, they die like
the three hundred Spartans. They do not think of Don Quixote, but
of Leonidas, and they go onward, and once the battle has begun they
do not recoil, but dash forward head down-wards, having for hope an
extraordinary victory, the revolution completed, progress restored to
liberty, the aggrandizement of the human race, universal deliverance,
and at the worst a Thermopylæ. These combats for progress frequently
fail, and we have explained the cause. The mob is restive against the
impulse of the Paladins; the heavy masses, the multitudes, fragile
on account of their very heaviness, fear adventures, and there is
adventure in the ideal. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that
these are interests which are no great friends of the ideal and the
sentimental. Sometimes the stomach paralyzes the heart. The greatness
and beauty of France are, that she does not grow so stout as other
nations, and knots the rope round her hips with greater facility. She
is the first to wake and the last to fall asleep; she goes onward. She
is seeking.

The reason of this is because she is artistic. The ideal is nought else
than the culminating point of logic, in the same way as the beautiful
is only the summit of the true. Artistic peoples are also consistent
peoples; loving beauty is to see light. The result of this is, that
the torch of Europe, that is to say of civilization, was first borne
by Greece, who passed it to Italy, who passed it to France. Divine
enlightening nations! _Vita lampada tradunt._ It is an admirable thing
that the poetry of a people is the element of its progress, and the
amount of civilization is measured by the amount of imagination. Still,
a civilizing people must remain masculine; Corinth yes, but Sybaris
no, for the man who grows effeminate is bastardized. A man must be
neither dilettante nor virtuoso, but he should be artistic. In the
matter of civilization, there must not be refinement, but sublimation,
and on that condition the pattern of the ideal is given to the human
race. The modern ideal has its type in art and its means in science. It
is by science that the august vision of the poet, the social beauty,
will be realized, and Eden will be remade by A + B. At the point which
civilization has reached exactitude is a necessary element of the
splendid, and the artistic feeling is not only served but completed
by the scientific organ; the dream must calculate. Art, which is the
conqueror, ought to have science, which is the mover, as its base. The
strength of the steed is an imported factor, and the modern mind is the
genius of Greece, having for vehicle the genius of India,--Alexander
mounted on an elephant. Races petrified in dogma or demoralized by time
are unsuited to act as guides to civilization. Genuflection before
the idol or the crown-piece ruins the muscle which moves and the will
that goes. Hieratic or mercantile absorption reduces the radiance of a
people, lowers its horizon by lowering its level, and withdraws from it
that both human and divine intelligence of the universal object which
renders nations missionaries. Babylon has no ideal, nor has Carthage
while Athens and Rome have, and retain, even through all the nocturnal
density of ages, a halo of civilization.

France is of the same quality, as a people, as Greece and Rome; she
is Athenian through the beautiful, and Roman through her grandeur.
Besides, she is good, and is more often than other nations in the
humor for devotion and sacrifice. Still, this humor takes her and
leaves her; and this is the great danger for those who run when she
merely wishes to walk, or who walk when she wishes to halt. France
has her relapses into materialism, and at seasons the ideas which
obstruct this sublime brain have nothing that recalls French grandeur,
and are of the dimensions of a Missouri or a South Carolina. What is
to be done? The giantess plays the dwarf, and immense France feels a
fancy for littleness. That is all. To this nothing can be said, for
peoples like planets have the right to be eclipsed. And that is well,
provided that light return and the eclipse does not degenerate into
night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous, and the reappearance
of light is synonymous with the existence of the Ego. Let us state
these facts calmly. Death on a barricade, or a tomb in exile, is an
acceptable occasion for devotion, for the real name of devotion is
disinterestedness. Let the abandoned be abandoned, let the exiles be
exiled, and let us confine ourselves to imploring great nations not
to recoil too far when they do recoil. Under the pretext of returning
to reason, it is not necessary to go too far down the incline. Matter
exists, the moment exists, interests exist, the stomach exists, but the
stomach must not to the sole wisdom. Momentary life has its rights, we
admit, but permanent life has them also. Alas! To have mounted does not
prevent falling, and we see this in history more frequently than we
wish; a nation is illustrious, it tastes of the ideal, then it bites
into the mud and finds it good, and when we ask it why it abandons
Socrates for Falstaff, it replies, "Because I like statesmen."

One word before returning to the barricade. A battle like the one which
we are describing at this moment is only a convulsion toward the ideal.
Impeded progress is sickly, and has such tragic attacks of epilepsy.
This malady of progress, civil war, we have met as we passed along, and
it is one of the social phases, at once an act and an interlude of that
drama whose pivot is a social condemnation, and whose veritable title
is "Progress." Progress! This cry, which we raise so frequently, is our
entire thought, and at the point of our drama which we We reached, as
the idea which it contains has still more than one trial to undergo,
we may be permitted, even if we do not raise the veil, to let its
gleams pierce through clearly. The book which the reader has before him
at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and its
details, whatever the intermittences, exceptions, and short-comings may
be, the progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from
falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience,
from corruption to life, from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven,
and from nothingness to God. The starting-point is matter, the terminus
the soul; the hydra at the commencement, the angel at the end.



Suddenly the drum beat the charge, and the attack was a hurricane. On
the previous evening the barricade had been silently approached in the
darkness as by a boa; but at present, in broad daylight, within this
gutted street, surprise was impossible; besides, the armed force was
unmasked, the cannon had begun the roaring, and the troops rushed upon
the barricade. Fury was now skill. A powerful column of line infantry,
intersected at regular intervals by National Guards and dismounted
Municipal Guards, and supported by heavy masses that could be heard
if not seen, debouched into the street at a running step, with drums
beating, bugles braying, bayonets levelled, and sappers in front, and
imperturbable under the shower of projectiles dashed straight at the
barricade with all the weight of a bronze battering-ram. But the wall
held out firmly, and the insurgents fired impetuously; the escaladed
barricade displayed a flashing mane. The attack was so violent that it
was in a moment inundated by assailants; but it shook off the soldiers
as the lion does the dogs, and it was only covered with besiegers as
the cliff is with foam, to reappear a minute later scarped, black, and

The columns, compelled to fall back, remained massed in the street,
exposed but terrible, and answered the redoubt by a tremendous
musketry-fire. Any one who has seen fireworks will remember the piece
composed of a cross-fire of lightnings, which is called a bouquet.
Imagine this bouquet, no longer vertical but horizontal, and bearing
at the end of each jet a bullet, slugs, or iron balls, and scattering
death. The barricade was beneath it. On either side was equal
resolution. The bravery was almost barbarous, and was complicated by a
species of heroic ferocity which began with self-sacrifice. It was the
epoch when a National Guard fought like a Zouave. The troops desired an
end, and the insurrection wished to wrestle. The acceptance of death in
the height of youth and health converts intrepidity into a frenzy, and
each man in this action had the grandeur of the last hour. The street
was covered with corpses. The barricade had Marius at one of its ends
and Enjolras at the other. Enjolras, who carried the whole barricade
in his head, reserved and concealed himself. Three soldiers fell under
his loop-hole without even seeing him, while Marius displayed himself
openly, and made himself a mark. More than once half his body rose
above the barricade. There is no more violent prodigal than a miser who
takes the bit between his teeth, and no man more startling in action
than a dreamer. Marius was formidable and pensive, and in the battle
was like a dream. He looked like a ghost firing. The cartridges of the
besieged were exhausted, but not their sarcasms; and they laughed in
the tornado of the tomb in which they stood. Courfeyrac was bareheaded.

"What have you done with your hat?" Bossuet asked him; and Courfeyrac

"They carried it away at last with cannon-balls."

Or else they made haughty remarks.

"Can you understand," Feuilly exclaimed bitterly, "those men,"---and he
mentioned names, well-known and even celebrated names that belonged to
the old army,---"who promised to join us and pledged their honor to aid
us, and who are generals, and abandon us?"

And Combeferre restricted himself to replying with a grave smile,--

"They are people who observe the rules of honor as they do the
stars,--a long distance off."

The interior of the barricade was so sown with torn cartridges that
it seemed as if there had been a snow-storm. The assailants had the
numbers and the insurgents the position. They were behind a wall, and
crushed at point-blank range the soldiers who were stumbling over
the dead and wounded. This barricade, built as it was, and admirably
strengthened, was really one of those situations in which a handful
of men holds a legion in check. Still, constantly recruited and
growing beneath the shower of bullets, foe column of attack inexorably
approached, and little by little, step by step, but with certainty, the
army squeezed the barricade as the screw does the press.

The assaults succeeded each other, and the horror became constantly
greater. Then there broke out on this pile of paving-stones, in
this Rue de la Chanvrerie, a struggle worthy of the wall of Troy.
These sallow, ragged, and exhausted men, who had not eaten for
four-and-twenty hours, who had not slept, who had only a few rounds
more to fire, who felt their empty pockets for cartridges,--these men,
nearly all wounded, with head or arm bound round with a blood-stained
blackish rag, having holes in their coat from which the blood flowed,
scarce armed with bad guns and old rusty sabres, became Titans.
The barricade was ten times approached, assaulted, escaladed, and
never captured. To form an idea of the contest it would be necessary
to imagine a heap of terrible courages set on fire, and that you
are watching the flames. It was not a combat, but the interior
of a furnace; mouths breathed flames there, and the faces were
extraordinary. The human form seemed impossible there, the combatants
flashed, and it was a formidable sight to see these salamanders of the
mêlée flitting about in this red smoke. The successive and simultaneous
scenes of this butchery are beyond our power to depict, for the epic
alone has the right to fill twelve thousand verses with a battle. It
might have been called that Inferno of Brahminism, the most formidable
of the seventeen abysses, which the Veda calls the Forest of Swords.
They fought foot to foot, body to body, with pistol-shots, sabre-cuts,
and fists, close by, at a distance, above, below, on all sides, from
the roof of the house, from the wine-shop, and even from the traps of
the cellars into which some had slipped. The odds were sixty to one,
and the frontage of Corinth half demolished was hideous. The window,
pock-marked with grape-shot, had lost glass and frame, and was only a
shapeless hole tumultuously stopped up with paving-stones. Bossuet was
killed. Feuilly was killed, Courfeyrac was killed, Joly was killed.
Combeferre, traversed by three bayonet stabs in the breast at the
moment when he was raising a wounded soldier, had only time to look up
to heaven, and expired. Marius, still fighting, had received so many
wounds, especially in the head, that his face disappeared in blood and
looked as if it were covered by a red handkerchief. Enjolras alone was
not wounded; when he had no weapon he held out his arm to the right
or left, and an insurgent placed some instrument in his hand. He had
only four broken sword-blades left,--one more than Francis I. had at

Homer says: "Diomed slew Axylus, the son of Teuthras, who dwelt
in well-built Arisba; Euryalus, son of Mecisteus, slew Dresus and
Opheltius, Æsepus and Pedasus, whom the Naiad Abarbarea brought forth
to blameless Bucolion; Ulysses killed Percosian Pidytes; Antilochus,
Ablerus; Polypœtes, Astyalus; Polydamas, Otus of Cyllene; and
Teucer, Aretaus. Meganthius fell by the spear of Euripilus; Agamemnon,
king of heroes, struck down Elatus, born in the walled town which the
sounding river Satniois washes."

In our old poems of the Gesta, Esplandian attacks with a flaming
falchion Swantibore, the giant margins, who defends himself by storming
the knight with towers which he uproots. Our old mural frescos show
us the two Dukes of Brittany and Bourbon armed for war and mounted,
and approaching each other, axe in hand, masked with steel, shod with
steel, gloved with steel, one caparisoned with ermine and the other
draped in azure; Brittany with his lion between the two horns of his
crown, and Bourbon with an enormous _fleur-de-lys_ at his visor. But
in order to be superb it is not necessary to wear, like Yvon, the
ducal morion, or to have in one hand a living flame like Esplandian;
it is sufficient to lay down one's life for a conviction or a loyal
deed. This little simple soldier, yesterday a peasant of Bearne or
the Limousin, who prowls about, cabbage-cutter by his side, round the
nursemaids in the Luxembourg, this young, pale student bowed over an
anatomical study or book, a fair-haired boy who shaves himself with a
pair of scissors,--take them both, breathe duty into them, put them
face to face in the Carrefour Boucherat or the Planche Mibray blind
alley, and let one fight for his flag and the other combat for his
ideal, and let them both imagine that they are contending for their
country, and the struggle will be colossal; and the shadow cast by
these two contending lads on the great epic field where humanity is
struggling will be equal to that thrown by Megarion, King of Lycia,
abounding in tigers, as he wrestles with the immense Ajax, the equal of
the gods.



When there were no chiefs left but Enjolras and Marius at the two
ends of the barricade, the centre, which had so long been supported
by Courfeyrac, Bossuet, Joly, Feuilly, and Combeferre, yielded. The
cannon, without making a practicable breach, had severely injured the
centre of the redoubt, then the crest of the wall had disappeared
under the balls and fallen down, and the fragments which had collected
both inside and out had in the end formed two slopes, the outer one of
which offered an inclined plane by which to attack. A final assault was
attempted thus, and this assault was successful; the bristling mass of
bayonets, hurled forward at a run, came up irresistibly, and the dense
line of the attacking column appeared in the smoke on the top of the
scarp. This time it was all over, and the band of insurgents defending
the centre recoiled pell-mell.

Then the gloomy love of life was rekindled in some; covered by this
forest of muskets, several did not wish to die. It is the moment when
the spirit of self-preservation utters yells, and when the beast
reappears in man. They were drawn up against the six-storied house at
the back of the barricade, and this house might be their salvation.
This house was barricaded, as it were walled up from top to bottom, but
before the troops reached the interior of the redoubt, a door would
have time to open and shut, and it would be life for these desperate
men; for at the back of this house were streets, possible flight, and
space. They began kicking and knocking at the door, while calling,
crying, imploring, and clasping their hands. But no one opened. The
dead head looked down on them from the third-floor window. But Marius
and Enjolras, and seven or eight men who rallied round them, had rushed
forward to protect them. Enjolras shouted to the soldiers, "Do not
advance," and as an officer declined to obey he killed the officer. He
was in the inner yard of the redoubt, close to Corinth, with his sword
in one hand and carbine in the other, holding open the door of the
wine-shop, which he barred against the assailants. He shouted to the
desperate men, "There is only one door open, and it is this one;" and
covering them with his person, and alone facing a battalion, he made
them pass behind him. All rushed in, and Enjolras, whirling his musket
round his head, drove back the bayonets and entered the last, and there
was a frightful moment, during which the troops tried to enter and the
insurgents to bar the door. The latter was closed with such violence
that the five fingers of a soldier who had caught hold of a doorpost
were cut off clean, and remained in the crevice. Marius remained
outside; a bullet broke his collar-bone, and he felt himself fainting
and falling. At this moment, when his eyes were already closed, he felt
the shock of a powerful hand seizing him, and his fainting-fit scarce
left him time for this thought, blended with the supreme recollection
of Cosette, "I am made prisoner and shall be shot."

Enjolras, not seeing Marius among those who had sought shelter in the
house, had the same idea, but they had reached that moment when each
could only think of his own death. Enjolras put the bar on the door,
bolted and locked it, while the soldiers beat it with musket-butts, and
the sappers attacked it with their axes outside. The assailants were
grouped round this door, and the siege of the wine-shop now began. The
soldiers, let us add, were full of fury; the death of the sergeant of
artillery had irritated them, and then, more mournful still, during the
few hours that preceded the attack a whisper ran along the ranks that
the insurgents were mutilating their prisoners, and that there was the
headless body of a soldier in the cellar. This species of fatal rumor
is the general accompaniment of civil wars, and it was a false report
of the same nature which at a later date produced the catastrophe of
the Rue Transnonain. When the door was secured, Enjolras said to the

"Let us sell our lives dearly."

Then he went up to the table on which Mabœuf and Gavroche were
lying; under the black cloth two forms could be seen straight and
livid, one tall, the other short, and the two faces were vaguely
designed under the cold folds of the winding-sheet. A hand emerged
from under it, and hung toward the ground; it was that of the old man.
Enjolras bent down and kissed this venerable hand, in the same way as
he had done the forehead on the previous evening. They were the only
two kisses he had ever given in his life.

Let us abridge. The barricade had resisted like a gate of Thebes, and
the wine-shop resisted like a house of Saragossa. Such resistances are
violent, and there is no quarter, and a flag of truce is impossible;
people are willing to die provided that they can kill. When Suchet says
"capitulate," Palafox answers, "After the war with cannon, the war
with the knife." Nothing was wanting in the attack on the Hucheloup
wine-shop: neither paving-stone showering from the window and roof on
the assailants, and exasperating the troops by the frightful damage
they committed, nor shots from the attics and cellar, nor the fury of
the attack, nor the rage of the defence, nor, finally, when the door
gave way, the frenzied mania of extermination. When the assailants
rushed into the wine-shop, their feet entangled in the panels of
the broken door which lay on the ground, they did not find a single
combatant. The winding staircase, cut away with axes, lay in the middle
of the ground-floor room, a few wounded men were on the point of dying,
all who were not killed were on the first-floor, and a terrific fire
was discharged thence through the hole in the ceiling which had been
the entrance to the restaurant. These were the last cartridges, and
when they were expended and nobody had any powder or balls left, each
man took up two of the bottles reserved by Enjolras, and defended the
stairs with these frightfully fragile weapons. They were bottles of
aquafortis. We describe the gloomy things of carnage exactly as they
are: the besieged, alas! makes a weapon of everything. Greek fire did
not dishonor Archimedes, boiling pitch did not dishonor Bayard; every
war is a horror, and there is no choice. The musketry-fire of the
assailants, though impeded and discharged from below, was murderous;
and the brink of the hole was soon lined with dead heads, whence
dripped long red and steaming jets. The noise was indescribable, and a
compressed burning smoke almost threw night over the combat. Words fail
to describe horror when it has reached this stage. There were no longer
men in this now infernal struggle, no longer giants contending against
Titans. It resembled Milton and Dante more than Homer, for demons
attacked and spectres resisted. It was a monster heroism.



At length, by employing the skeleton of the staircase, by climbing up
the walls, clinging to the ceiling, and killing on the very edge of the
trap the last who resisted, some twenty assailants, soldiers, National
and Municipal Guards, mostly disfigured by wounds in the face received
in this formidable ascent, blinded by blood, furious and savage,
burst into the first-floor room. There was only one man standing
there,--Enjolras; without cartridges or sword, he only held in his hand
the barrel of his carbine, whose butt he had broken on the heads of
those who entered. He had placed the billiard-table between himself and
his assailants, he had fallen back to the end of the room, and there,
with flashing eye and head erect, holding the piece of a weapon in his
hand, he was still sufficiently alarming for a space to be formed round
him. A cry was raised,--

"It is the chief; it was he who killed the artilleryman; as he has
placed himself there, we will let him remain there. Shoot him on the

"Shoot me!" Enjolras said.

And throwing away his weapon and folding his arms, he offered his
chest. The boldness of dying bravely always moves men. So soon as
Enjolras folded his arms, accepting the end, the din of the struggle
ceased in the room, and the chaos was suddenly appeased in a species of
sepulchral solemnity. It seemed as if the menacing majesty of Enjolras,
disarmed and motionless, produced an effect on the tumult, and that
merely by the authority of his tranquil glance, this young man, who
alone was unwounded, superb, blood-stained, charming, and indifferent
like one invulnerable, constrained this sinister mob to kill him
respectfully. His beauty, heightened at this moment by his haughtiness,
was dazzling, and as if he could be no more fatigued than wounded after
the frightful four-and-twenty hours which had elapsed, he was fresh and
rosy. It was to him that the witness referred when he said at a later
date before the court-martial, "There was an insurgent whom I heard
called Apollo." A National Guard who aimed at Enjolras lowered his
musket, saying, "I feel as if I were going to kill a flower." Twelve
men formed into a platoon in the corner opposite to the one in which
Enjolras stood, and got their muskets ready in silence. Then a sergeant
shouted, "Present!"

An officer interposed.

"Wait a minute."

And, addressing Enjolras,--

"Do you wish to have your eyes bandaged?"


"It was really you who killed the sergeant of artillery?"


Grantaire had been awake for some minutes past. Grantaire, it will
be remembered, had been sleeping since the past evening in the upper
room, with his head lying on a table. He realized in all its energy
the old metaphor, dead drunk. The hideous philter of absinthe, stout,
and alcohol, had thrown him into a lethargic state, and, as his table
was small, and of no use at the barricade, they had left it him. He
was still in the same posture, with his chest upon the table, his
head reeling on his arms, and surrounded by glasses and bottles. He
was sleeping the deadly sleep of the hibernating bear or the filled
leech. Nothing had roused him,--neither the platoon fire, nor the
cannon-balls, nor the canister which penetrated through the window
into the room where he was, nor the prodigious noise of the assault.
Still, he at times responded to the cannon by a snore. He seemed to be
waiting for a bullet to save him the trouble of waking; several corpses
lay around him, and at the first glance nothing distinguished him from
these deep sleepers of death.

Noise does not wake a drunkard, but silence arouses him, and this
peculiarity has been more than once observed. The fall of anything near
him increased Grantaire's lethargy, and noise lulled him. The species
of halt which the tumult made before Enjolras was a shock for this
heavy sleep. It is the effect of a galloping coach which stops short.
Grantaire started up, stretched out his arms, rubbed his eyes, looked,
yawned, and understood. Intoxication wearing off resembles a curtain
that is rent, and a man sees at once, and at a single glance, all
that it concealed. Everything presents itself suddenly to the memory,
and the drunkard, who knows nothing of what has happened during the
last twenty-four hours, has scarce opened his eyes ere he understands
it all. Ideas return with a sudden lucidity; the species of suds
that blinded the brain is dispersed, and makes way for a clear and
distinctive apprehension of the reality.

Concealed, as he was, in a corner, and sheltered, so to speak, by the
billiard-table, the soldiers, who had their eyes fixed on Enjolras, had
not even perceived Grantaire, and the sergeant was preparing to repeat
the order to fire, when all at once they heard a powerful voice crying
at their side,--

"Long live the Republic! I belong to it."

Grantaire had risen; and the immense gleam of all the combat which
he had missed appeared in the flashing glance of the transfigured
drunkard. He repeated, "Long live the Republic!" crossed the room with
a firm step, and placed himself before the muskets by Enjolras's side.

"Kill us both at once," he said.

And turning gently to Enjolras, he asked him,--

"Do you permit it?"

Enjolras pressed his hand with a smile, and this smile had not passed
away ere the detonation took place. Enjolras, pierced by eight bullets,
remained leaning against the wall as if nailed to it; he merely hung
his head. Grantaire was lying stark dead at his feet. A few minutes
later the soldiers dislodged the last insurgents who had taken refuge
at the top of the house, and were firing through a partition in the
garret. They fought desperately, and threw bodies out of windows, some
still alive. Two voltigeurs, who were trying to raise the smashed
omnibus, were killed by two shots from the attics; a man in a blouse
rushed out of them, with a bayonet thrust in his stomach, and lay on
the ground expiring. A private and insurgent slipped together down
the tiles of the roof, and as they would not loosen their hold fell
into the street, holding each other in a ferocious embrace. There
was a similar struggle in the cellar,--cries, shots, and a fierce
clashing,--then a silence. The barricade was captured, and the soldiers
began searching the adjacent houses and pursuing the fugitives.



Marius was really a prisoner;--prisoner to Jean Valjean.

The hand which had clutched him behind at the moment when he was
falling, and of which he felt the pressure as he lost his senses, was
that of Jean Valjean.

Jean Valjean had taken no other part in the struggle than that of
exposing himself. Had it not been for him, in the supreme moment of
agony no one would have thought of the wounded. Thanks to him, who was
everywhere present in the carnage like a Providence, those who fell
were picked up, carried to the ground-floor room, and had their wounds
dressed, and in the intervals he repaired the barricade. But nothing
that could resemble a blow, an attack, or even personal defence, could
be seen with him, and he kept quiet and succored. However, he had only
a few scratches, and the bullets had no billet for him. If suicide
formed part of what he dreamed of when he came to this sepulchre, he
had not been successful; but we doubt whether he thought of suicide,
which is an irreligious act. Jean Valjean did not appear to see Marius
in the thick of the combat; but in truth he did not take his eyes off
him. When a bullet laid Marius low, Jean Valjean leaped upon him with
the agility of a tiger, dashed upon him as on a prey, and carried him

The whirlwind of the attack was at this moment so violently
concentrated on Enjolras and the door of the wine-shop, that no one
saw Jean Valjean, supporting the fainting Marius in his arms, cross
the unpaved ground of the barricade and disappear round the corner of
Corinth. Our readers will remember this corner, which formed a sort
of cape in the street, and protected a few square feet of ground from
bullets and grape-shot, and from glances as well. There is thus at
times in fires a room which does not burn, and in the most raging seas,
beyond a promontory, or at the end of a reef, a little quiet nook. It
was in this corner of the inner trapeze of the barricade that Éponine
drew her last breath. Here Jean Valjean stopped, let Marius slip to the
ground, leaned against a wall, and looked around him.

The situation was frightful; for the instant, for two or three minutes
perhaps, this piece of wall was a shelter, but how to get out of this
massacre? He recalled the agony he had felt in the Rue Polonceau, eight
years previously, and in what way he had succeeded in escaping; it was
difficult then, but now it was impossible. He had in front of him that
implacable and silent six-storied house, which only seemed inhabited
by the dead man leaning out of his window; he had on his right the
low barricade which closed the Petite Truanderie; to climb over this
obstacle appeared easy, but a row of bayonet-points could be seen over
the crest of the barricade; they were line troops posted beyond the
barricade and on the watch. It was evident that crossing the barricade
was seeking a platoon fire, and that any head which appeared above the
wall of paving-stones would serve as a mark for sixty muskets. He had
on his left the battle-field, and death was behind the corner of the

What was he to do? A bird alone could have escaped from this place.
And he must decide at once, find an expedient, and make up his mind.
They were fighting a few paces from him, but fortunately all were
obstinately engaged at one point, the wine-shop door; but if a single
soldier had the idea of turning the house or attacking it on the flank
all would be over. Jean Valjean looked at the house opposite to him,
he looked at the barricade by his side, and then looked on the ground,
with the violence of supreme extremity, wildly, and as if he would have
liked to dig a hole with his eyes. By much looking, something vaguely
discernible in such an agony became perceptible, and assumed a shape at
his feet, as if the eyes had the power to produce the thing demanded.
He perceived a few paces from him, at the foot of the small barricade
so pitilessly guarded and watched from without, and beneath a pile of
paving-stones which almost concealed it, an iron grating, laid flat and
flush with the ground. This grating made of strong cross-bars was about
two feet square, and the framework of paving-stones which supported
it had been torn out, and it was as it were dismounted. Through the
bars a glimpse could be caught of an obscure opening, something like
a chimney-pot or the cylinder of a cistern. Jean Valjean dashed up,
and his old skill in escapes rose to his brain like a beam of light.
To remove the paving-stones, tear up the grating, take Marius, who was
inert as a dead body, on his shoulders, descend with this burden on
his loins, helping himself with his elbows and knees, into this sort
of well which was fortunately of no great depth, to let the grating
fall again over his head, to set foot on a paved surface, about ten
feet below the earth,--all this was executed like something done in
delirium, with a giant's strength and the rapidity of an eagle: this
occupied but a few minutes. Jean Valjean found himself with the still
fainting Marius in a sort of long subterranean corridor, where there
was profound peace, absolute silence, and night. The impression which
he had formerly felt in falling out of the street into the convent
recurred to him; still, what he now carried was not Cosette, but Marius.

He had scarce heard above his head like a vague murmur the formidable
tumult of the wine-shop being taken by assault.





Paris casts twenty-five millions of francs annually into the sea; and
we assert this without any metaphor. How so, and in what way? By day
and night. For what object? For no object. With what thought? Without
thinking. What to do? Nothing. By means of what organ? Its intestines.
What are its intestines? Its sewers. Twenty-five millions are the most
moderate of the approximative amounts given by the estimates of modern
science. Science, after groping for a long time, knows now that the
most fertilizing and effective of manures is human manure. The Chinese,
let us say it to our shame, knew this before we did; not a Chinese
peasant--it is Eckeberg who states the fact--who goes to the city, but
brings at either end of his bamboo a bucket full of what we call filth.
Thanks to the human manure, the soil in China is still as youthful as
in the days of Abraham, and Chinese wheat yields just one hundred and
twenty fold the sowing. There is no guano comparable in fertility
to the detritus of a capital, and a large city is the strongest of
stercoraries. To employ the town in manuring the plain would be certain
success; for if gold be dung, on the other hand our dung is gold.

What is done with this golden dung? It is swept into the gulf. We
send at a great expense fleets of ships to collect at the southern
pole the guano of petrels and penguins, and cast into the sea the
incalculable element of wealth which we have under our hand. All the
human and animal manure which the world loses, if returned to the land
instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the
world. Do you know what those piles of ordure are, collected at the
corners of streets, those carts of mud carried off at night from the
streets, the frightful barrels of the night-man, and the fetid streams
of subterranean mud which the pavement conceals from you? All this is
a flowering field, it is green grass, it is mint and thyme and sage,
it is game, it is cattle, it is the satisfied lowing of heavy kine at
night, it is perfumed hay, it is gilded wheat, it is bread on your
table, it is warm blood in your veins, it is health, it is joy, it is
life. So desires that mysterious creation, which is transformation
on earth and transfiguration in heaven; restore this to the great
crucible, and your abundance will issue from it, for the nutrition
of the plains produces the nourishment of men. You are at liberty
to lose this wealth and consider me ridiculous into the bargain; it
would be the masterpiece of your ignorance. Statistics have calculated
that France alone pours every year into the Atlantic a sum of half a
milliard. Note this; with these five hundred millions one quarter of
the expenses of the budget would be paid. The cleverness of man is so
great that he prefers to get rid of these five hundred millions in the
gutter. The very substance of the people is borne away, here drop by
drop, and there in streams, by the wretched vomiting of our sewers into
the rivers, and the gigantic vomiting of our rivers into the ocean.
Each eructation of our cloacas costs us one thousand francs, and this
has two results,--the earth impoverished and the water poisoned; hunger
issuing from the furrow and illness from the river. It is notorious
that at this very hour the Thames poisons London; and as regards Paris,
it has been found necessary to remove most of the mouths of the sewers
down the river below the last bridge.

A double tubular apparatus supplied with valves and flood-gates, a
system of elementary drainage as simple as the human lungs, and which
is already in full work in several English parishes, would suffice
to bring into bur towns the pure water of the fields and send to the
fields the rich water of the towns; and this easy ebb and flow, the
most simple in the world, would retain among us the five hundred
millions thrown away. But people are thinking of other things. The
present process does mischief while meaning well. The intention is
good, but the result is sorrowful; they believe they are draining
the city, while they are destroying the population. A sewer is a
misunderstanding; and when drainage, with its double functions,
restoring what it takes, is everywhere substituted for the sewer, that
simple and impoverishing washing, and is also combined with the data
of a new social economy, the produce of the soil will be increased
tenfold, and the problem of misery will be singularly attenuated.
Add the suppression of parasitisms, and it will be solved. In the
mean while the public wealth goes to the river, and a sinking takes
place,--sinking is the right word, for Europe is being ruined in this
way by exhaustion. As for France, we have mentioned the figures. Now,
as Paris contains one twenty-fifth of the whole French population,
and the Parisian guano is the richest of all, we are beneath the
truth when we estimate at twenty-five millions the share of Paris in
the half-milliard which France annually refuses. These twenty-five
millions, employed in assistance and enjoyment, would double the
splendor of Paris, and the city expends them in sewers. So that we may
say, the great prodigality of Paris, its marvellous fête, its Folie
Beaujon, its orgie, its lavishing of gold, its luxury, splendor, and
magnificence, is its sewerage. It is in this way that in the blindness
of a bad political economy people allow the comfort of all to be
drowned and wasted in the water; there ought to be St. Cloud nets to
catch the public fortunes.

Economically regarded, the fact may be thus summarized: Paris is
a regular spendthrift. Paris, that model city, that pattern of
well-conducted capitals, of which every people strives to have a copy,
that metropolis of the ideal, that august home of initiative, impulse,
and experiment, that centre and gathering-place of minds, that nation
city, that beehive of the future, that marvellous composite of Babylon
and Corinth, would make a peasant of Fo-Kian shrug his shoulders, from
our present point of view. Imitate Paris, and you will ruin yourself;
moreover, Paris imitates itself particularly in this immemorial and
insensate squandering. These surprising follies are not new; it is no
youthful nonsense. The ancients acted like the moderns. "The cloacas of
Rome," says Liebig, "absorbed the entire welfare of the Roman peasant."
When the Campagna of Rome was ruined by the Roman sewer, Rome exhausted
Italy; and when it had placed Italy in its cloaca, it poured into it
Sicily, and then Sardinia, and then Africa. The sewer of Rome swallowed
up the world. This cloaca offered its tunnels to the city and to the
world. _Urbi et orbi._ Eternal city and unfathomable drain.

For these things, as for others, Rome gives the example, and this
example Paris follows with all the folly peculiar to witty cities. For
the requirements of the operation which we have been explaining, Paris
has beneath it another Paris, a Paris of sewers, which has its streets,
squares, lanes, arteries, and circulation, which is mud, with the
human forces at least. For nothing must be flattered, not even a great
people. Where there is everything, there is ignominy by the side of
sublimity; and if Paris contain Athens the city of light, Tyre the city
of power, Sparta the city of virtue, Nineveh the city of prodigies,
it also contains Lutetia the city of mud. Moreover, the stamp of its
power is there too, and the Titanic sewer of Paris realizes among
monuments the strange ideal realized in humanity by a few men like
Machiavelli, Bacon, and Mirabeau,--the grand abject. The subsoil of
Paris, if the eye could pierce the surface, would offer the aspect of a
gigantic madrepore; a sponge has not more passages and holes than the
piece of ground, six leagues in circumference, upon which the old great
city rests. Without alluding to the catacombs, which are a separate
cellar, without speaking of the inextricable net of gas-pipes, without
referring to the vast tubular system for the distribution of running
water, the drains alone form on either bank of the river a prodigious
dark ramification, a labyrinth which has its incline for its clew.
In the damp mist of this labyrinth is seen the rat, which seems the
produce of the accouchement of Paris.



If we imagine Paris removed like a cover, the subterranean network of
sewers, regarded from a birds'-eye view, would represent on either
bank a sort of large branch grafted upon the river. On the right bank
the encircling sewer will be the trunk of this branch, the secondary
tubes the branches, and the blind alleys the twigs. This figure is
only summary and half correct, as the right angle, which is the usual
angle in subterranean ramifications of this nature, is very rare in
vegetation. Our readers will form a better likeness of this strange
geometric plan by supposing that they see lying on a bed of darkness
some strange Oriental alphabet as confused as a thicket, and whose
shapeless letters are welded to each other in an apparent confusion,
and as if accidentally, here by their angles and there by their ends.
The sewers and drains played a great part in the Middle Ages, under the
Lower Empire and in the old East. Plague sprang from them and despots
died of it. The multitudes regarded almost with a religious awe these
beds of corruption, these monstrous cradles of death. The vermin-ditch
at Benares is not more fearful than the Lion's den at Babylon.
Tiglath-Pileser, according to the rabbinical books, swore by the
sink of Nineveh. It was from the drain of Munster that John of Leyden
produced his false moon, and it was from the cesspool-well of Kekhscheb
that his Oriental menæchmus, Mokanna, the veiled prophet of Khorassan,
brought his false sun.

The history of men is reflected in the history of the sewers, and
the Gemoniæ narrated the story of Rome. The sewer of Paris is an old
formidable thing, it has been a sepulchre, and it has been an asylum.
Crime, intellect, the social protest, liberty of conscience, thought,
robbery, all that human laws pursue or have pursued, have concealed
themselves in this den,--the Maillotins in the fourteenth century,
the cloak-stealers in the fifteenth, the Huguenots in the sixteenth,
the illuminés of Morin in the seventeenth, and the Chauffeurs in the
eighteenth. One hundred years ago the nocturnal dagger-issued from
it, and the rogue in danger glided into it; the wood had the cave and
Paris had the drain. The Truanderie, that Gallic _picareria_, accepted
the drain as an annex of the Court of Miracles, and at night, cunning
and ferocious, entered beneath the Maubuée vomitory as into an alcove.
It was very simple that those who had for their place of daily toil
the Vide-Gousset lane, or the Rue Coupe-Gorge, should have for their
nightly abode the ponceau of the Chemin-Vert or the Hure-poix cagnard.
Hence comes a swarm of recollections, all sorts of phantoms haunt these
long solitary corridors, on all sides are putridity and miasma, and
here and there is a trap through which Villon inside converses with
Rabelais outside.

The sewer in old Paris is the meeting-place of all exhaustions and of
all experiments; political economy sees there a detritus, and social
philosophy a residuum. The sewer is the conscience of the city, and
everything converges and is confronted there. In this livid spot there
is darkness, but there are no secrets. Each thing has its true form, or
at least its definitive form. The pile of ordure has this in its favor,
that it tells no falsehood, and simplicity has taken refuge there.
Basile's mask is found there, but you see the pasteboard, the threads,
the inside and out, and it is marked with honest filth. Scapin's false
nose is lying close by. All the uncleanlinesses of civilization, where
no longer of service, fall into this pit of truth; they are swallowed
up, but display themselves in it. This pell-mell is a confession:
there no false appearance nor any plastering is possible, order takes
off its shirt, there is an absolute nudity, a rout of illusions and
mirage, and there nothing but what is assuming the gloomy face of what
is finishing. Reality and disappearance. There a bottle-heel confesses
intoxication, and a basket-handle talks about domesticity; there, the
apple-core which has had literary opinions becomes once again the
apple-core, the effigy on the double son grows frankly vert-de-grised,
the saliva of Caiaphas meets the vomit of Falstaff, the louis-d'or
which comes from the gambling-hell dashes against the nail whence hangs
the end of the suicide's rope, a livid fœtus rolls along wrapped
in spangles, which danced last Shrove Tuesday at the opera, a wig
which has judged men wallows by the side of a rottenness which was
Margotton's petticoat: it is more than fraternity, it is the extremest
familiarity. All that painted itself is bedaubed, and the last veil is
torn away. The sewer is a cynic and says everything. This sincerity of
uncleanliness pleases us and reposes the mind. When a man has spent
his time upon the earth in enduring the great airs assumed by state
reasons, the oath, political wisdom, human justice, professional
probity, the austerities of the situation, and incorruptible robes, it
relieves him to enter a sewer and see there the mire which suits it.

It is instructive at the same time, for, as we said just now, history
passes through the sewer. St. Bartholomew filters there drop by
drop through the paving-stones, and great public assassinations,
political and religious butcheries, traverse this subterranean way of
civilization, and thrust their corpses into it. For the eye of the
dreamer all historical murderers are there, in the hideous gloom,
on their knees, with a bit of their winding-sheet for an apron, and
mournfully sponging their task. Louis XI. is there with Tristan,
Francis I. is there with Duprat, Charles IX. is there with his mother,
Richelieu is there with Louis XIII., Louvois is there, Letellier is
there, Hubert and Maillard are there, scratching the stones, and trying
to efface the trace of their deeds. The brooms of these spectres can
be heard under these vaults, and the enormous fetidness of social
catastrophes is breathed there. You see in corners red flashes, and
a terrible water flows there in which blood-stained hands have been

The social observer should enter these shadows, for they form part of
his laboratory. Philosophy is the microscope of thought; everything
strives to fly from it, but nothing escapes it. Tergiversation is
useless, for what side of himself does a man show in tergiversating?
His ashamed side. Philosophy pursues evil with its upright glance, and
does not allow it to escape into nothingness. It recognizes everything
in the effacement of disappearing things, and in the diminution of
vanishing things. It reconstructs the purple after the rags, and the
woman after the tatters. With the sewer it re-makes the town; with the
mud it re-makes manners. It judges from the potsherds whether it were
an amphora or an earthenware jar. It recognizes by a nail-mark on a
parchment the difference which separates the Jewry of the Juden-gasse
from the Jewry of the Ghetto. It finds again in what is left what has
been,--the good, the bad, the false, the true, the patch of blood
in the palace, the ink-stain of the cavern, the tallow-drop of the
brothel, trials undergone, temptations welcome, orgies vomited up, the
wrinkle which characters have formed in abasing themselves, the traces
of prostitution in the souls whose coarseness rendered them capable of
it, and on the jacket of the street-porters of Rome the mark of the
nudge of Messalina.



The sewer of Paris in the Middle Ages was legendary. In the sixteenth
century Henry II. attempted soundings which failed, and not a hundred
years ago, as Mercier testifies, the cloaca was abandoned to itself,
and became what it could. Such was that ancient Paris, handed over
to quarrels, indecisions, and groping. It was for a long time thus
stupid, and a later period, '89, showed how cities acquire sense. But
in the good old times the capital had but little head; it did not
know how to transact its business either morally or materially, and
could no more sweep away its ordure than its abuses. Everything was an
obstacle, everything raised a question. The sewer, for instance, was
refractory to any itinerary, and people could no more get on under the
city than they did in it; above, everything was unintelligible; below,
inextricable; beneath the confusion of tongues was the confusion of
cellars, and Dædalus duplicated Babel. At times the sewer of Paris
thought proper to overflow, as if this misunderstood Nile had suddenly
fallen into a passion. There were, infamous to relate, inundations of
the sewer. At moments this stomach of civilization digested badly,
the sewer flowed back into the throat of the city, and Paris bad the
after-taste of its ordure. These resemblances of the drain to remorse
had some good about them, for they were warnings, very badly taken
however; for the city was indignant that its mud should have so much
boldness, and did not admit that the ordure should return. Discharge it

The inundation of 1802 is in the memory of Parisians of eighty years
of age. The mud spread across the Place des Victoires, on which is
the statue of Louis XIV.; it entered Rue St. Honoré by the two mouths
of the sewer of the Champs Élysées, Rue St. Florentin by the St.
Florentin sewer, Rue Pierre à Poisson by the sewer of the Sonnerie, Rue
Popincourt by the Chemin-Vert sewer, and Rue de la Roquette by the Rue
de Lappe sewer; it covered the level of the Rue des Champs Élysées to a
height of fourteen inches, and in the south, owing to the vomitory of
the Seine performing its duties contrariwise, it entered Rue Mazarine,
Rue de l'Échaudé, and Rue des Marais, where it stopped after running
on a hundred and twenty yards, just a few yards from the house which
Racine had inhabited, respecting, in the seventeenth century, the poet
more than the king. It reached its maximum depth in the Rue St. Pierre,
where it rose three feet above the gutter, and its maximum extent in
the Rue St. Sabin, where it extended over a length of two hundred and
fifty yards.

At the beginning of the present century the sewer of Paris was still
a mysterious spot. Mud can never be well famed, but here the ill
reputation extended almost to terror. Paris knew confusedly that it
had beneath it a grewsome cave; people talked about it as of that
monstrous mud-bed of Thebes, in which centipedes fifteen feet in length
swarmed, and which could have served as a bathing-place for Behemoth.
The great boots of the sewers-men never ventured beyond certain known
points. It was still very close to the time when the scavengers' carts,
from the top of which St. Foix fraternized with the Marquis de Créqui,
were simply unloaded into the sewer. As for the cleansing, the duty
was intrusted to the showers, which choked up rather than swept away.
Rome allowed some poetry to her cloaca, and called it the Gemoniæ, but
Paris insulted its own, and called it the stench-hole. Science and
superstition were agreed as to the horror, and the stench-hole was
quite as repugnant to hygiene as to the legend. The goblin was hatched
under the fetid arches of the Mouffetard sewer: the corpses of the
Marmousets were thrown into the Barillerie sewer: Fagot attributed the
malignant fever of 1685 to the great opening of the Marais sewer, which
remained yawning until 1833 in the Rue St. Louis, nearly opposite the
sign of the Messager Galant. The mouth of the sewer in the Rue de la
Mortellerie was celebrated for the pestilences which issued from it;
with its iron-pointed grating that resembled a row of teeth it yawned
in this fatal street like the throat of a dragon breathing hell on
mankind. The popular imagination seasoned the gloomy Parisian sewer
with some hideous mixture of infinitude: the sewer was bottomless, the
sewer was a Barathrum, and the idea of exploring these leprous regions
never even occurred to the police. Who would have dared to cast a sound
into this darkness, and go on a journey of discovery in this abyss? It
was frightful, and yet some one presented himself at last. The cloaca
had its Christopher Columbus.

One day in 1805, during one of the rare apparitions which the Emperor
made in Paris, the Minister of the Interior attended at his master's
_petit lever._ In the court-yard could be heard the clanging sabres
of all the extraordinary soldiers of the great Republic and the great
Empire; there was a swarm of heroes at Napoleon's gates; men of the
Rhine, the Schelde, the Adage, and the Nile; comrades of Joubert, of
Desaix, of Marceau, Hoche, and Kléber, aeronauts of Fleurus, grenadiers
of Mayence, pontooners of Genoa, hussars whom the Pyramids had gazed
at, artillerymen who had bespattered Junot's cannon-balls, cuirassiers
who had taken by assault the fleet anchored in the Zuyderzee; some had
followed Bonaparte upon the bridge of Lodi, others had accompanied
Murat to the trenches of Mantua, while others had outstripped Lannes
in the hollow way of Montebello. The whole army of that day was in the
court of the Tuileries, represented by a squadron or a company, and
guarding Napoleon, then resting; and it was the splendid period when
the great army had Marengo behind it and Austerlitz before it. "Sire,"
said the Minister of the Interior to Napoleon, "I have seen to-day the
most intrepid man of your Empire." "Who is the man?" the Emperor asked
sharply, "and what has he done?" "He wishes to do something, Sire."
"What is it?" "To visit the sewers of Paris." This man existed, and his
name was Bruneseau.



The visit took place, and was a formidable campaign,--a nocturnal
battle against asphyxia and plague. It was at the same time a voyage of
discovery, and one of the survivors of the exploration, an intelligent
workman, very young at that time, used to recount a few years ago the
curious details which Bruneseau thought it right to omit in his report
to the Prefect of Police, as unworthy of the administrative style.
Disinfecting processes were very rudimentary at that day, and Bruneseau
had scarce passed the first articulations of the subterranean network
ere eight workmen out of twenty refused to go farther. The operation
was complicated, for the visit entailed cleansing: it was, therefore,
requisite to cleanse and at the same time take measurements; note the
water entrances, count the traps and mouths, detail the branches,
indicate the currents, recognize the respective dimensions of the
different basins, sound the small sewers grafted on the main, measure
the height under the key-stone of each passage, and the width both
at the bottom and the top, in order to determine the ordinates for
levelling at the right of each entrance of water. They advanced with
difficulty, and it was not rare for the ladders to sink into three
feet of mud. The lanterns would scarce burn in the mephitic atmosphere,
and from time to time a sewer-man was carried away in a fainting state.
At certain spots there was a precipice; the soil had given way, the
stones were swallowed up, and the drain was converted into a lost well;
nothing solid could be found, and they had great difficulty in dragging
out a man who suddenly disappeared. By the advice of Fourcroy large
cages filled with tow saturated with resin were set fire to at regular
distances. The wall was covered in spots with shapeless fungi, which
might have been called tumors, and the stone itself seemed diseased in
this unbreathable medium.

Bruneseau, in his exploration, proceeded down-hill. At the point where
the two water-pipes of the Grand Hurleur separate he deciphered on a
projecting stone the date 1550; this stone indicated the limit where
Philibert Delorme, instructed by Henri II. to inspect the subways of
Paris, stopped. This stone was the mark of the sixteenth century in
the drain, and Bruneseau found the handiwork of the seventeenth in
the Ponceau conduit and that of the Rue Vieille du Temple, which were
arched between 1600 and 1650, and the mark of the eighteenth in the
west section of the collecting canal, enclosed and arched in 1740.
These two arches, especially the younger one, that of 1740, were more
decrepit and cracked than the masonry of the begirding drain, which
dated from 1412, the period when the Menilmontant stream of running
water was raised to the dignity of the Great Sewer of Paris, a
promotion analogous to that of a peasant who became first valet to the
king; something like Gros Jean transformed into Lébel.

They fancied they recognized here and there, especially under the
Palais du Justice, the form of old dungeons formed in the sewer itself,
hideous _in pace._ An iron collar hung in one of these cells, and they
were all bricked up. A few of the things found were peculiar; among
others the skeleton of an ourang-outang, which disappeared from the
Jardin des Plantes in 1800, a disappearance probably connected with
the famous and incontestable apparition of the devil in the Rue des
Bernardins in the last year of the eighteenth century. The poor animal
eventually drowned itself in the sewer. Under the long vaulted passage
leading to the Arche Marion a rag-picker's _hotte_ in a perfect state
of preservation caused the admiration of connoisseurs. Everywhere the
mud, which the sewer-men had come to handle intrepidly, abounded in
precious objects; gold and silver, jewelry, precious stones, and coin.
A giant who had filtered this cloaca would have found in his sieve the
wealth of centuries. At the point where the two branches of the Rue
du Temple and the Rue Sainte Avoye divide, a singular copper Huguenot
medal was picked up, bearing on one side a pig wearing a cardinals hat,
and on the other a wolf with the tiara on its head.

The most surprising discovery was at the entrance of the Great Sewer.
This entrance had been formerly closed by a gate, of which only the
hinges now remained. From one of these hinges hung a filthy shapeless
rag, which doubtless caught there as it passed, floated in the shadow,
and was gradually mouldering away. Bruneseau raised his lantern and
examined this fragment; it was of very fine linen, and at one of the
corners less gnawed than the rest could be distinguished an heraldic
crown embroidered above these seven letters, LAVBESP. The crown was
a Marquis's crown, and the seven letters signified _Laubespine._
What they had under their eyes was no less than a piece of Marat's
winding-sheet. Marat, in his youth, had had amours, at the time when he
was attached to the household of the Comte d'Artois in the capacity of
physician to the stables. Of these amours with a great lady, which are
historically notorious, this sheet had remained to him as a waif or a
souvenir; on his death, as it was the only fine linen at his lodgings,
he was buried in it. Old women wrapped up the tragic friend of the
people for the tomb in this sheet which had known voluptuousness.
Bruneseau passed on; the strip was left where it was. Was it through
contempt or respect? Marat deserved both. And then destiny was so
impressed on it that a hesitation was felt about touching it. Moreover,
things of the sepulchre should be left at the place which they select.
Altogether the relic was a strange one: a Marquise had slept in it,
Marat had rotted in it; and it had passed through the Panthéon to reach
the sewer-rats. This rag from an alcove, every crease in which Watteau
in former days would joyously have painted, ended by becoming worthy
of the intent glance of Dante.

The visit to the subways of Paris lasted for seven years,--from 1805
to 1812. While going along, Bruneseau designed, directed, and carried
out considerable operations. In 1808 he lowered the Ponceau sewer,
and everywhere pushing out new lines, carried the sewer in 1809 under
the Rue St. Denis to the Fountain of the Innocents; in 1810 under the
Rue Froidmanteau and the Salpêtrière; in 1811 under the Rue Neuve des
Petits Pères, under the Rue du Mail, the Rue de l'Écharpe and the Place
Royal; in 1812 under the Rue de la Paix and the Chaussée d'Antin. At
the same time he disinfected and cleansed the entire network, and in
the second year called his son-in-law Nargaud to his assistance. It is
thus that at the beginning of this century the old society flushed its
subway and performed the toilette of its sewer. It was so much cleaned
at any rate. Winding, cracked, unpaved, full of pits, broken by strange
elbows, ascending and descending illogically, fetid, savage, ferocious,
submerged in darkness, with cicatrices on its stones and scars on its
walls, and grewsome,--such was the old sewer of Paris, retrospectively
regarded. Ramifications in all directions, crossings of trenches,
branches, dials and stars as in saps, blind guts and alleys, arches
covered with saltpetre, infected pits, scabby exudations on the walls,
drops falling from the roof, and darkness, nothing equalled the horror
of this old excremental crypt,--the digestive apparatus of Babylon, a
den, a trench, a gulf pierced with streets, a Titanic mole-hill, in
which the mind fancies that it sees crawling through the shadow, amid
the ordure which had been splendor, that enormous blind mole, the Past.

Such, we repeat, was the sewer of the olden time.



At the present day the sewer is clean, cold, straight, and correct,
and almost realizes the ideal of what is understood in England by the
word "respectable." It is neat and gray, built with the plumb-line,--we
might almost say coquettishly. It resembles a contractor who has
become a Councillor of State. You almost see clearly in it, and the
mud behaves itself decently. At the first glance you might be inclined
to take it for one of those subterranean passages so common formerly,
and so useful for the flights of monarchs and princes in the good
old times "when the people loved its kings." The present sewer is a
handsome sewer; the pure style prevails there,--the classic rectilinear
Alexandrine, which, expelled from poetry, appears to have taken refuge
in architecture, seems blended with all the stones of this long, dark,
and white vault; each vomitory is an arcade, and the Rue de Rivoli
sets the fashion even in the cloaca. However, if the geometric line be
anywhere in its place, it is assuredly so in the stercoraceous trench
of a great city, where everything must be subordinated to the shortest
road. The sewer has at the present day assumed a certain official
aspect, and the police reports of which it is sometimes the object are
no longer deficient in respect to it. The words which characterize it
in the administrative language are lofty and dignified; what used to
be called a gut is now called a gallery, and what used to be a hole is
now a "look." Villon would no longer recognize the ancient lodgings he
used for emergencies. This network of cellars still has its population
of rodents, pullulating more than ever; from time to time a rat, an
old veteran, ventures his head at the window of the drain and examines
the Parisians: but even these vermin are growing tame, as they are
satisfied with their subterranean palace. The cloaca no longer retains
its primitive ferocity, and the rain which sullied the sewer of olden
times, washes that of the present day. Still, do not trust to it too
entirely, for miasmas yet inhabit it, and it is rather hypocritical
than irreproachable. In spite of all the préfecture of police and the
Board of Health have done, it exhales a vague suspicious odor, like
Tartuffe after confession. Still, we must allow that, take it all
together, sweeping is an homage which the sewer pays to civilization,
and as from this point of view Tartuffe's conscience is a progress
upon the Augean stable, it is certain that the sewer of Paris has been
improved. It is more than a progress, it is a transmutation; between
the old and the present sewer there is a revolution. Who effected
this revolution? The man whom every one forgets, and whom we have



Digging the sewerage of Paris was no small task. The last ten centuries
have toiled at it without being able to finish, any more than they
could finish Paris. The sewer, in fact, receives all the counterstrokes
of the growth of Paris. It is in the ground a species of dark polypus
with a thousand antennæ, which grows below, equally with the city
above. Each time that the city forms a street, the sewer stretches
out an arm. The old monarchy only constructed twenty-three thousand
three hundred metres of sewers, and Paris had reached that point on
Jan. 1, 1806. From this period, to which we shall presently revert,
the work has been usefully and energetically taken up and continued.
Napoleon built--and the figures are curious--four thousand eight
hundred and four metres; Charles X., ten thousand eight hundred and
thirty-six; Louis Philippe, eighty-nine thousand and twenty; the
Republic of 1848, twenty-three thousand three hundred and eighty-one;
the present government, seventy thousand five hundred: all together two
hundred and twenty-six thousand six hundred metres, or sixty leagues,
of sewer,--the enormous entrails of Paris,--an obscure ramification
constantly at work, an unknown and immense construction. As we see,
the subterranean labyrinth of Paris is, at the present day, more than
tenfold what it was at the beginning of the century. It would be
difficult to imagine all the perseverance and efforts required to raise
this cloaca to the point of relative perfection at which it now is. It
was with great trouble that the old monarchical Provostry, and in the
last ten years of the eighteenth century the revolutionary Mayoralty,
succeeded in boring the five leagues of sewers which existed prior to
1806. All sorts of obstacles impeded this operation; some peculiar
to the nature of the soil, others inherent in the prejudices of the
working population of Paris. Paris is built on a stratum strangely
rebellious to the pick, the spade, the borer, and human manipulation.
Nothing is more difficult to pierce and penetrate than this geological
formation on which the marvellous historical formation called Paris
is superposed. So soon as labor in any shape ventures into this layer
of alluvium, subterranean resistances abound. They are liquid clay,
running springs, hard rocks, and that soft and deep mud which the
special science calls "mustard." The pick advances laboriously in
the calcareous layers alternating with very thin veins of clay and
schistose strata incrusted with oyster-shells, which are contemporaries
of the Pre-Adamite oceans. At times a stream suddenly bursts into a
tunnel just commenced, and inundates the workmen, or a slip of chalk
takes place and rushes forward with the fury of a cataract, breaking
like glass the largest supporting shores. Very recently at La Villette,
when it was found necessary to carry the collecting sewer under the
St. Martin canal without stopping the navigation or letting off the
water, a fissure formed in the bed of the canal, and the water poured
into the tunnel deriding the efforts of the draining-pumps. It was
found necessary to employ a diver to seek for the fissure which was in
the mouth of the great basin, and it was only stopped up with great
difficulty. Elsewhere, near the Seine, and even at some distance from
the river, as, for instance, at Belleville, Grande Rue, and Passage
Lunière, bottomless sands are found, in which men have been swallowed
up. Add asphyxia by miasmas, interment by slips and sudden breaking
in of the soil; add typhus, too, with which the workmen are slowly
impregnated. In our days, after having hollowed the gallery of Clichy
with a _banquette_ to convey the mainwater conduit of the Ourque, a
work performed by trenches ten metres in depth; after having arched
the Bièvre from the Boulevard de l'Hôpital to the Seine, in the midst
of earth-slips and by the help of trenching often through putrid
matter, and of shores; after having, in order to deliver Paris from
the torrent-like waters of the Montmartre, and give an outlet to the
fluviatic pond of twenty-three acres which stagnated near the Barrière
des Martyrs; after having, we say, constructed the line of sewers
from the Barrière Blanche to the Aubervilliers road, in four months,
by working day and night at a depth of eleven metres; after having--a
thing unknown before--executed subterraneously a sewer in the Rue Barre
du Bec, without trench, at a depth of six metres, the surveyor Monnot
died. After arching three thousand metres of sewer in all parts of the
city, from the Rue Traversière St. Antoine to the Rue de l'Ourcine;
after having, by the Arbalète branch, freed the Censier-Mouffetard
square from pluvial inundations; after having constructed the St.
George sewer through liquid sand upon rubble and béton, and after
having lowered the formidable pitch of the Nôtre Dame de Nazareth
branch, the engineer Duleau died. There are no bulletins for such acts
of bravery, which are more useful, however, than the brutal butchery of

The sewers of Paris were in 1832 far from being what they are now.
Bruneseau gave the impulse, but it required the cholera to determine
the vast reconstruction which has taken place since. It is surprising
to say, for instance, that in 1821 a portion of the begirding sewer,
called the Grand Canal, as at Venice, still stagnated in the open air,
in the Rue des Gourdes. It was not till 1823 that the city of Paris
found in its pocket the twenty-six thousand six hundred and eighty
francs, six centimes, needed for covering this turpitude. The three
absorbing wells of the Combat, la Cunette, and St. Mandé, with their
disgorging apparatus, draining-wells, and deodorizing branches, merely
date from 1836. The intestine canal of Paris has been re-made, and,
as we said, augmented more than tenfold during the last quarter of a
century. Thirty years ago, at the period of the insurrection of June 5
and 6, it was still in many parts almost the old sewer. A great number
of streets, now convex, were at that time broken causeways. There
could be frequently seen at the bottom of the water-sheds of streets
and squares, large square gratings, whose iron glistened from the
constant passage of the crowd, dangerous and slippery for vehicles, and
throwing horses down. The official language of the department of the
roads and bridges gave these gratings the expressive name of _Cassis._
In 1832 in a number of streets,--Rue de l'Étoile, Rue St. Louis, Rue
du Temple, Rue Vieille du Temple, Rue Nôtre Dame de Nazareth, Rue
Folie Méricourt, Quai aux Fleurs, Rue du Petit Muse, Rue de Normandie,
Rue Pont aux Biches, Rue des Marais, Faubourg St. Martin, Rue Nôtre
Dame des Victoires, Faubourg Montmartre, Rue Grange Batelière, at the
Champs Élysées, the Rue Jacob, and the Rue de Tournon, the old Gothic
cloaca still cynically displayed its throats. They were enormous
stone orifices, sometimes surrounded with posts, with a monumental
effrontery. Paris in 1806 was much in the same state as regards
sewers as in May, 1663,--five thousand three hundred and twenty-eight
toises. After Bruneseau, on Jan. 1, 1832, there were forty thousand
three hundred metres. From 1806 to 1831 seven hundred and fifty metres
were on the average constructed annually; since then eight and even
ten thousand metres have been made every year in brick-work, with a
coating of concrete on a foundation of b£ton. At two hundred francs the
metre, the sixty leagues of drainage in the Paris of to-day represent
forty-eight million francs.

In addition to the economic progress to which we alluded at the outset,
serious considerations as to the public health are attached to this
immense question,--the drainage of Paris. Paris is situated between
two sheets,--a sheet of water and a sheet of air. The sheet of water,
lying at a very great depth, but already tapped by two borings, is
supplied by the stratum of green sandstone situated between the chalk
and the Jurassic limestone; this stratum may be represented by a
disc with a radius of twenty-five leagues; a multitude of rivers and
streams drip into it, and the Seine, the Marne, the Yonne, the Oisin,
the Aisne, the Cher, the Vienne, and the Loire are drunk in a glass of
water from the Grenelle well. The sheet of water is salubrious, for
it comes from the sky first, and then from the earth; but the sheet
of air is unhealthy, for it comes from the sewer. All the miasmas of
the cloaca are mingled with the breathing of the city; hence this bad
breath. The atmosphere taken from above a dungheap, it has been proved
scientifically, is purer than the atmosphere taken from over Paris.
Within a given time, by the aid of progress, improvements in machinery,
and enlightenment, the sheet of water will be employed to purify the
sheet of air, that is to say, to wash the sewer. It is known that by
washing the sewer we mean restoring the ordure to the earth by sending
dung to the arable lands and manure to the grass lands. Through this
simple fact there will be for the whole social community a diminution
of wretchedness and an augmentation of health. At the present hour the
radiation of the diseases of Paris extends for fifty leagues round the
Louvre, taken as the axle of this pestilential wheel.

We might say that for the last ten centuries the cloaca has been the
misery of Paris, and the sewer is the viciousness which the city has
in its blood. The popular instinct has never been deceived, and the
trade of the sewer-man was formerly almost as dangerous and almost as
repulsive to the people as that of the horse-slaughterer, which so
long was regarded with horror and left to the hangman. Great wages
were required to induce a bricklayer to disappear in this fetid
sap; the ladder of the well-digger hesitated to plunge into it. It
was said proverbially, "Going into the sewer is entering the tomb;"
and all sorts of hideous legends, as we said, covered this colossal
cesspool with terrors. It is a formidable fosse which bears traces of
the revolutions of the globe as well as the revolutions of men; and
vestiges may be found there of every cataclysm from the shells of the
Deluge to the ragged sheet of Marat.





It was in the sewer of Paris that Jean Valjean found himself. This is
a further resemblance of Paris with the sea, as in the ocean the diver
can disappear there. It was an extraordinary transition, in the very
heart of the city. Jean Valjean had left the city, and in a twinkling,
the time required to lift a trap and let it fall again, he had passed
from broad daylight to complete darkness, from midday to midnight, from
noise to silence, from the uproar of thunder to the stagnation of the
tomb, and, by an incident far more prodigious even than that of the
Rue Polonceau, from the extremest peril to the most absolute security.
A sudden fall into a cellar, disappearance in the oubliette of Paris,
leaving this street where death was all around for this species of
sepulchre in which was life,--it was a strange moment. He stood for
some minutes as if stunned, listening and amazed. The trap-door of
safety had suddenly opened beneath him, and the Celestial Goodness
had to some extent taken him by treachery. Admirable ambuscades of
Providence! Still, the wounded man did not stir, and Jean Valjean did
not know whether what he was carrying in this pit were alive or dead.

His first sensation was blindness, for he all at once could see
nothing. He felt too that in a moment he had become deaf, for he could
hear nothing more. The frenzied storm of murder maintained a few yards
above him only reached him confusedly and indistinctly, and like a
noise from a depth. He felt that he had something solid under his feet,
but that was all; still, it was sufficient. He stretched out one arm,
then the other; he touched the wall on both sides and understood that
the passage was narrow; his foot slipped, and he understood that the
pavement was damp. He advanced one foot cautiously, fearing a hole, a
cesspool, or some gulf, and satisfied himself that the pavement went
onwards. A fetid gust warned him of the spot where he was. At the
expiration of a few minutes he was no longer blind, a little light
fell through the trap by which he descended, and his eye grew used to
this vault He began to distinguish something. The passage in which he
had run to earth--no other word expresses the situation better--was
walled up behind him; it was one of those blind alleys called in the
professional language branches. Before him he had another wall,--a wall
of night. The light of the trap expired ten or twelve feet from the
spot where Jean Valjean was, and scarce produced a livid whiteness on
a few yards of the damp wall of the sewer. Beyond that the opaqueness
was massive; to pierce it appeared horrible, and to enter it seemed
like being swallowed up. Yet it was possible to bury one's self in this
wall of fog, and it must be done; and must even be done quickly. Jean
Valjean thought that the grating which he had noticed in the street
might also be noticed by the troops, and that all depended on chance.
They might also come down into the well and search, so he had not a
minute to lose. He had laid Marius on the ground and now picked him
up,--that is again the right expression,--took him on his shoulders,
and set out. He resolutely entered the darkness.

The truth is, that they were less saved than Jean Valjean believed;
perils of another nature, but equally great, awaited them. After the
flashing whirlwind of the combat came the cavern of miasmas and snares;
after the chaos, the cloaca. Jean Valjean had passed from one circle of
the Inferno into another. When he had gone fifty yards he was obliged
to stop, for a question occurred to him; the passage ran into another,
which it intersected, and two roads offered themselves. Which should
he take? Ought he to turn to the left, or right? How was he to find
his way in this black labyrinth? This labyrinth, we have said, has a
clew in its slope, and following the slope leads to the river. Jean
Valjean understood this immediately; he said to himself that he was
probably in the sewer of the markets; that if he turned to the left and
followed the incline he would arrive in a quarter of an hour at some
opening on the Seine between the Pont au Change and the Pont Neuf,
that is to say, appear in broad daylight in the busiest part of Paris.
Perhaps he might come out at some street opening, and passers-by would
be stupefied at seeing two blood-stained men emerge from the ground at
their feet. The police would come up and they would be carried off to
the nearest guard-room; they would be prisoners before they had come
out. It would be better, therefore, to bury himself in the labyrinth,
confide in the darkness, and leave the issue to Providence.

He went up the incline and turned to the right; when he had gone round
the corner of the gallery the distant light from the trap disappeared,
the curtain of darkness fell on him again, and he became blind once
more. For all that he advanced as rapidly as he could; Marius's arms
were passed round life neck, and his feet hung down behind. He held
the two arms with one hand and felt the wall with the other. Marius's
cheek touched his and was glued to it, as it was bloody, and he felt
a warm stream which came from Marius drip on him and penetrate his
clothing. Still, a warm breath in his ear, which touched the wounded
man's mouth, indicated respiration, and consequently life. The passage
in which Jean Valjean was now walking was not so narrow as the former,
and he advanced with some difficulty. The rain of the previous night
had not yet passed off, and formed a small torrent in the centre,
and he was forced to hug the wall in order not to lave his feet in
the water. He went on thus darkly, like a creature of the night
groping in the invisible, and subterraneously lost in the veins of
gloom. Still, by degrees, either that a distant grating sent a little
floating light into this opaque mist, or that his eyes grew accustomed
to the obscurity, he regained some vague vision, and began to notice
confusedly, at one moment the wall he was touching, at another the
vault under which he was passing. The pupil is dilated at night and
eventually finds daylight in it, in the same way as the soul is dilated
in misfortune and eventually finds God in it.

To direct himself was difficult, for the sewers represent, so to speak,
the outline of the streets standing over them. There were in the Paris
of that day two thousand two hundred streets, and imagine beneath them
that forest of dark branches called the sewer. The system of sewers
existing at that day, if placed end on end, would have given a length
of eleven leagues. We have already said that the present network, owing
to the special activity of the last thirty years, is no less than sixty
leagues. Jean Valjean began by deceiving himself; he fancied that he
was under the Rue St. Denis, and it was unlucky that he was not so.
There is under that street an old stone drain, dating from Louis XIII.,
which runs straight to the collecting sewer, called the Great Sewer,
with only one turn on the right, by the old Cour des Miracles, and a
single branch, the St. Martin sewer, whose four arms cut each other at
right angles. But the passage of the Little Truanderie, whose entrance
was near the Corinth wine-shop, never communicated with the sewer of
the Rue St. Denis; it falls into the Montmartre sewer, and that is
where Jean Valjean now was. There opportunities for losing himself were
abundant, for the Montmartre drain is one of the most labyrinthian
of the old network. Luckily Jean Valjean had left behind him the
sewer of the markets, whose geometrical plan represents a number of
entangled top-gallant-masts; but he had before him more than one
embarrassing encounter, and more than one street corner--for they are
streets--offering itself in the obscurity as a note of interrogation.
In the first place on his left, the vast Plâtrière sewer, a sort of
Chinese puzzle, thrusting forth and intermingling its chaos of T and Z
under the Post Office, and the rotunda of the grain-markets, as far as
the Seine, where it terminates in Y; secondly, on his right the curved
passage of the Rue du Cadran, with its three teeth, which are so many
blind alleys; thirdly, on his left the Mail branch, complicated almost
at the entrance by a species of fork, and running with repeated zigzags
to the great cesspool of the Louvre, which ramifies in every direction;
and lastly, on his right the blind alley of the Rue des Jeûneurs,
without counting other pitfalls, ere he reached the engirdling sewer,
which alone could lead him to some issue sufficiently distant to be

Had Jean Valjean had any notion of all we have just stated he would
have quickly perceived, merely by feeling the wall, that he was not
in the subterranean gallery of the Rue St. Denis. Instead of the old
freestone, instead of the old architecture, haughty and royal even
in the sewer, with its arches and continuous courses of granite,
which cost eight hundred livres the fathom, he would feel under his
hand modern cheapness, the economic expedient, brick-work supported
on a layer of béton, which costs two hundred francs the metre,--that
bourgeois masonry known as _à petits matériaux_; but he knew nothing
of all this. He advanced anxiously but calmly, seeing nothing,
hearing nothing, plunged into chance, that is to say, swallowed up in
Providence. By degrees, however, we are bound to state that a certain
amount of horror beset him, and the shadow which enveloped him entered
his mind. He was walking in an enigma. This aqueduct of the cloaca is
formidable, for it intersects itself in a vertiginous manner, and it is
a mournful thing to be caught in this Paris of darkness. Jean Valjean
was obliged to find, and almost invent, his road without seeing it. In
this unknown region each step that he ventured might be his last. How
was he to get out of it? Would he find an issue? Would he find it in
time? Could he pierce and penetrate this colossal subterranean sponge
with its passages of stone? Would he meet there some unexpected knot
of darkness? Would he arrive at something inextricable and impassable?
Would Marius die of hemorrhage, and himself of hunger? Would they both
end by being lost there, and form two skeletons in a corner of this
night? He did not know; he asked himself all this and could not find an
answer. The intestines of Paris are a precipice, and like the prophet
he was in the monster's belly.

He suddenly had a surprise; at the most unexpected moment, and without
ceasing to walk in a straight line, he perceived that he was no longer
ascending; the water of the gutter plashed against his heels instead
of coming to his toes. The sewer was now descending; why? Was he about
to reach the Seine suddenly? That danger was great, but the peril of
turning back was greater still, and he continued to advance. He was
not proceeding toward the Seine; the shelving ridge which the soil of
Paris makes on the right bank empties one of its water-sheds into the
Seine and the other into the Great Sewer. The crest of this ridge,
which determines the division of the waters, designs a most capricious
line; the highest point is in the Sainte Avoye sewer, beyond the Rue
Michel-le-comte, in the Louvre sewer, near the boulevards, and in the
Montmartre drain, near the markets. This highest point Jean Valjean
had reached, and he was proceeding toward the engirdling sewer, or in
the right direction, but he knew it not. Each time that he reached a
branch he felt the corners, and if he found the opening narrower than
the passage in which he was he did not enter, but continued his march,
correctly judging that any narrower way must end in a blind alley, and
could only take him from his object, that is to say, an outlet. He thus
avoided the fourfold snare laid for him in the darkness by the four
labyrinths which we have enumerated. At a certain moment he recognized
that he was getting from under that part of Paris petrified by the
riot, where the barricades had suppressed circulation, and returning
under living and normal Paris. He suddenly heard above his head a
sound like thunder, distant but continuous; it was the rolling of

He had been walking about half an hour, at least that was the
calculation he made, and had not thought of resting; he had merely
changed the hand which held Marius up. The darkness was more profound
than ever, but this darkness reassured him. All at once he saw his
shadow before him; it stood out upon a faint and almost indistinct
redness, which vaguely impurpled the roadway at his feet and the vault
above his head, and glided along the greasy walls of the passage.
Stupefied, he turned around.

Behind him, in the part of the passage he had come from, at a distance
which appeared immense, shone a sort of horrible star, obliterating
the dark density, which seemed to be looking at him. It was the
gloomy police star rising in the sewer. Behind this star there moved
confusedly nine or ten black, upright, indistinct, and terrible forms.



On the day of June 6 a battue of the sewers was ordered, for it was
feared lest the conquered should fly to them as a refuge, and Prefect
Gisquet ordered occult Paris to be searched, while General Bugeaud
swept public Paris,--a double connected operation, which required a
double strategy of the public force, represented above by the army and
beneath by the police. Three squads of agents and sewer-men explored
the subway of Paris,--the first the right bank, the second the left
bank, and the third the Cité. The agents were armed with carbines,
bludgeons, swords, and daggers, and what was at this moment pointed at
Jean Valjean was the lantern of the round of the right bank. This round
had just inspected the winding gallery and three blind alleys which
are under the Rue du Cadran. While the lantern was moved about at the
bottom of these blind alleys, Jean Valjean in his progress came to the
entrance of the gallery, found it narrower than the main gallery, and
had not entered it. The police, on coming out of the Cadran gallery,
fancied that they could hear the sound of footsteps in the direction of
the engirdling sewer, and they were really Jean Valjean's footsteps.
The head sergeant of the round raised his lantern, and the squad began
peering into the mist in the direction whence the noise had come.

It was an indescribable moment for Jean Valjean; luckily, if he saw the
lantern well the lantern saw him badly, for it was the light and he
was the darkness. He was too far off, and blended with the blackness
of the spot, so he drew himself up against the wall and stopped.
However, he did not explain to himself what was moving behind him, want
of sleep and food and emotion having made him pass into a visionary
state. He saw a flash, and round this flash, spectres. What was it?
He did not understand. When Jean Valjean stopped the noise ceased;
the police listened and heard nothing, they looked and saw nothing,
and hence consulted together. There was at that period at that point
in the Montmartre sewer a sort of square called _de service_, which
has since been done away with, owing to the small internal lake which
the torrents of rain formed there, and the squad assembled on this
square. Jean Valjean saw them make a sort of circle, and then bull-dog
heads came together and whispered. The result of this council held by
the watch-dogs was that they were mistaken, that there had been no
noise, that there was nobody there, that it was useless to enter the
surrounding sewer, that it would be time wasted, but that they must
hasten to the St. Merry drain; for if there were anything to be done
and any "boussingot" to track, it would be there. From time to time
parties new-sole their old insults. In 1832 the word "boussingot"
formed the transition between the word "jacobin," no longer current,
and the word "demagogue," at that time almost unused, and which
has since done such excellent service. The sergeant gave orders to
left-wheel toward the watershed of the Seine. Had they thought of
dividing into two squads and going in both directions, Jean Valjean
would have been caught. It is probable that the instructions of
the Préfecture, fearing the chance of a fight with a large body of
insurgents, forbade the round from dividing. The squad set out again,
leaving Jean Valjean behind; and in all this movement he perceived
nothing except the eclipse of the lantern, which was suddenly turned

Before starting, the sergeant, to satisfy his police conscience,
discharged his carbine in the direction where Jean Valjean was. The
detonation rolled echoing along the crypt, like the rumbling of these
Titanic bowels. A piece of plaster which fell into the gutter and
plashed up the water a few yards from Jean Valjean warned him that the
bullet had struck the vault above his head. Measured and slow steps
echoed for some time along the wooden causeway, growing more and more
deadened by the growing distance; the group of black forms disappeared;
a light oscillated and floated, forming on the vault a ruddy circle,
which decreased and disappeared; the silence again became profound, the
obscurity again became complete, and blindness and deafness again took
possession of the gloom; Jean Valjean, not daring yet to stir, remained
leaning for a long time against the wall, with outstretched ear and
dilated eyeballs, watching the vanishing of this patrol of phantoms.



We must do the police of that day the justice of saying that even in
the gravest public conjunctures they imperturbably accomplished their
duties of watching the highways and of inspectorship. A riot was not in
their eyes a pretext to leave the bridle to malefactors, and to neglect
society for the reason that the Government was in danger. The ordinary
duties were performed correctly in addition to the extraordinary
duties, and were in no way disturbed. In the midst of an incalculable
political event, under the pressure of a possible revolution, an
agent, not allowing himself to be affected by the insurrection and the
barricade, would track a robber. Something very like this occurred
on the afternoon of June 6, on the right bank of the Seine, a little
beyond the Pont des Invalides. There is no bank there at the present
day, and the appearance of the spot has been altered. On this slope
two men, a certain distance apart, were observing each other; the one
in front seemed to be trying to get away, while the one behind wanted
to catch him up. It was like a game of chess played at a distance and
silently; neither of them seemed to be in a hurry, and both walked
slowly, as if they were afraid that increased speed on the part of one
would be imitated by the other. It might have been called an appetite
following a prey, without appearing to do so purposely; the prey was
crafty, and kept on guard.

The proportions required between the tracked marten and the tracking
dog were observed. The one trying to escape was thin and mean looking;
the one trying to capture was a tall determined fellow, of rugged
aspect, and a rough one to meet. The first, feeling himself the
weaker, avoided the second, but did so in a deeply furious way; any
one who could have observed him would have seen in his eyes the gloomy
hostility of flight, and all the threat which there is in fear; the
slope was deserted, there were no passers-by, not even a boatman or
raftsman in the boats moored here and there. They could only be noticed
easily from the opposite quay, and any one who had watched them at that
distance would have seen that the man in front appeared a bristling,
ragged, and shambling fellow, anxious and shivering under a torn
blouse, while the other was a classic and official personage, wearing
the frock-coat of authority buttoned up to the chin. The reader would
probably recognize these two men, were he to see them more closely.
What was the object of the last one? Probably he wished to clothe the
other man more warmly. When a man dressed by the State pursues a man
in rags, it is in order to make him also a man dressed by the State.
The difference of color is the sole question; to be dressed in blue is
glorious, to be dressed in red is disagreeable, for there is a purple
of the lower classes. It was probably some disagreeable thing, and
some purple of this sort, which the first man desired to avoid.

If the other allowed him to go on ahead, and did not yet arrest him,
it was, in all appearance, in the hope of seeing him arrive at some
significative rendezvous and some group worth capturing. This delicate
operation is called tracking. What renders this conjecture highly
probable, is the fact that the buttoned-up man, perceiving from the
slope an empty fiacre passing, made a sign to the driver; the driver
understood, evidently perceived with whom he had to deal, turned
round, and began following the two men along the quay. This was not
perceived by the ragged, shambling fellow in front. The hackney coach
rolled along under the trees of the Champs Élysées, and over the
parapet could be seen the bust of the driver, whip in hand. One of
the secret instructions of the police to the agents is, "Always have
a hackney coach at hand in case of need." While each of these men
manœuvred with irreproachable strategy, they approached an incline
in the quay, which allowed drivers coming from Passy to water their
horses in the river. This incline has since been suppressed for the
sake of symmetry,--horses die of thirst, but the eye is gratified. It
was probable that the man in the blouse would ascend by this incline
in order to try to escape in the Champs Élysées, a place adorned with
trees, but, in return, much frequented by police agents, where the
other could easily procure assistance. This point of the quay is a very
little distance from the house brought from Moret to Paris in 1824 by
Colonel Brack, and called the house of Francis I. A guard is at hand
there. To the great surprise of his watcher, the tracked man did not
turn up the road to the watering-place, but continued to advance along
the bank parallel with the quay. His position was evidently becoming
critical, for unless he threw himself into the Seine, what could he do?

There were no means now left him of returning to the quay, no incline
and no steps, and they were close to the spot marked by the turn in the
Seine, near the Pont de Jéna, where the bank, gradually contracting,
ended in a narrow strip, and was lost in the water. There he must
inevitably find himself blockaded between the tall wall on his right,
the river on his left and facing him, and authority at his heels. It is
true that this termination of the bank was masked from sight by a pile
of rubbish seven feet high, the result of some demolition. But did this
man hope to conceal himself profitably behind this heap? The expedient
would have been puerile. He evidently did not dream of that, for the
innocence of robbers does not go so far. The pile of rubbish formed on
the water-side a sort of eminence extending in a promontory to the quay
wall; the pursued man reached this small mound and went round it, so
that he was no longer seen by the other. The latter, not seeing, was
not seen, and he took advantage of this to give up all dissimulation
and walk very fast. In a few minutes he reached the heap and turned it,
but there stood stupefied. The man he was pursuing was not there; it
was a total eclipse of the man in the blouse. The bank did not run more
than thirty yards beyond the heap, and then plunged under the water
which washed the quay wall. The fugitive could not have thrown himself
into the Seine, or have climbed up the quay wall, without being seen by
his pursuer. What had become of him?

The man in the buttoned-up coat walked to the end of the bank and stood
there for a moment, thoughtfully, with clenched fists and scowling
eye. All at once he smote his forehead; he had just perceived, at the
point where the ground ended and the water began, a wide, low, arched
iron grating, provided with a heavy lock and three massive hinges. This
grating, a sort of gate pierced at the bottom of the quay, opened on
the river as much as on the bank, and a black stream poured from under
it into the Seine. Beyond the heavy rusty bars could be distinguished a
sort of arched and dark passage. The man folded his arms and looked at
the grating reproachfully, and this look not being sufficient, he tried
to push it open, he shook it, but it offered a sturdy resistance. It
was probable that it had just been opened, although no sound had been
heard,-a singular thing with so rusty a gate,--but it was certain that
it had been closed again. This indicated that the man who had opened
the gate had not a pick-lock but a key. This evidence at once burst on
the mind of the man who was trying to open the grating, and drew from
him this indignant apostrophe,--

"That is strong! A government key!"

Then calming himself immediately, he expressed a whole internal world
of ideas by this outburst of monosyllables, marked by an almost
ironical accent,--

"Well! Well! Well! Well!"

This said, hoping we know not what, either to see the man come out
or others enter, he posted himself on the watch behind the heap of
rubbish, with the patient rage of a yard-mastiff. On its side, the
hackney coach, which regulated itself by all his movements, stopped
above him near the parapet. The driver, foreseeing a long halt, put
on his horses the nose-bag full of damp oats so well known to the
Parisians, upon whom the Government, we may remark parenthetically,
sometimes puts it. The few passers over the Pont de Jéna, before
going on, turned their heads to look for a moment at these motionless
objects,--the man on the bank and the hackney coach on the quay.



Jean Valjean had resumed his march, and had not stopped again. This
march grew more and more laborious, for the level of these passages
varies; the average height is about five feet six inches, and was
calculated for a man's stature. Jean Valjean was compelled to stoop
so as not to dash Marius against the roof, and was forced at each
moment to bend down, then draw himself up and incessantly feel the
wall. The dampness of the stones and of the flooring rendered them
bad supports, either for the hand or the foot, and he tottered in the
hideous dungheap of the city. The intermittent flashes of the street
gratings only appeared at lengthened intervals, and were so faint
that the bright sunshine seemed to be moonlight; all the rest was
fog, miasma, opaqueness, and blackness. Jean Valjean was hungry and
thirsty, the latter most, and it was like the sea; there was "water,
water everywhere, but not a drop to drink." His strength, which, as we
know, was prodigious, and but slightly diminished by age, owing to his
chaste and sober life, was, however, beginning to give way; fatigue
assailed him, and his decreasing strength increased the weight of his
burden. Marius, who was perhaps dead, was heavy, like all inert bodies;
but Jean Valjean held him so that his chest was not affected, and he
could breathe as easily as possible. He felt between his legs the rapid
gliding of rats, and one was so startled as to bite him. From time to
time a gush of fresh air came through the gratings, which revived him.

It might be about 3 P.M. when he reached the engirdling sewer, and
he was at first amazed by the sudden widening. He unexpectedly found
himself in a gallery whose two walk his outstretched arms did not
reach, and under an arch which his head did not touch. The Great Sewer,
in fact, is eight feet in width by seven high. At the point where
the Montmartre drain joins the Great Sewer two other subterranean
galleries, that of the Rue de Provence and that of the Abattoir, form
cross-roads. Between these four ways a less sagacious man would have
been undecided; but Jean Valjean selected the widest, that is to say,
the engirdling sewer. But here the question came back again, "Should
he ascend or descend?" He thought that the situation was pressing,
and that he must at all risks now reach the Seine, in other words,
descend, so he turned to the left. It was fortunate that he did so,
for it would be an error to suppose that the engirdling sewer has two
issues, one toward Bercy, the other toward Passy, and that it is, as
its name indicates, the subterranean belt of Paris on the right bank.
The Great Sewer, which is nought else, it must be borne in mind, than
the old Menilmontant stream, leads, if you ascend it, to a blind alley,
that is to say, to its old starting-point, a spring at the foot
of the Menilmontant mound. It has no direct communication with the
branch which collects the waters of Paris after leaving the Popincourt
quarter, and which falls into the Seine by the Amelot sewer above the
old isle of Louviers. This branch, which completes the collecting
sewer, is separated from it under the Rue Menilmontant by masonry-work,
which marks the point of the division of the waters into up-stream and
down-stream. If Jean Valjean had remounted the gallery he would have
arrived, exhausted by fatigue and dying, at a wall; he would have been

Strictly speaking, by going back a little way, entering the passage
of the Filles du Calvaire, on condition that he did not hesitate at
the subterranean point of junction of the Boucherat cross-roads, by
taking the St. Louis passage, then on the left the St. Gilles trench,
then by turning to the right and avoiding the St. Sebastian gallery,
Jean Valjean might have reached the Amelot sewer; and then if he did
not lose his way in the species of F which is under the Bastille,
he would have reached the outlet on the Seine near the Arsenal. But
for that he must have thoroughly known, in all its ramifications and
piercings, the enormous madrepore of the sewer. Now, we dwell on the
fact that he knew nothing of this frightful labyrinth in which he was
marching, and had he been asked where he was he would have replied,
"In night." His instinct served him well; going down, in fact, was
the only salvation possible. He left on his right the two passages
which ramify in the shape of a claw under the Rues Laffitte and St.
Georges, and the long bifurcate corridor of the Chaussée d'Antin. A
little beyond an affluent, which was likely the Madeleine branch, he
stopped, for he was very weary. A large grating, probably the one in
the Rue d'Anjou, produced an almost bright light. Jean Valjean, with
the gentle movements which a brother would bestow on a wounded brother,
laid Marius on the banquette of the sewer, and his white face gleamed
under the white light of the air-hole as from the bottom of a tomb. His
eyes were closed, his hair stuck to his forehead like paint-brushes on
which the red paint had dried, his hands were hanging and dead, his
limbs cold, and blood was clotted at the corner of his lips. Coagulated
blood had collected in his cravat knot, his shirt entered the wounds,
and the cloth of his coat rubbed the gaping edges of the quivering
flesh. Jean Valjean, removing the clothes with the tips of his fingers,
laid his hand on his chest; the heart still beat. Jean Valjean tore up
his shirt, bandaged the wounds as well as he could, and stopped the
blood that was flowing; then, stooping down in this half daylight over
Marius, who was still unconscious and almost breathless, he looked at
him with indescribable hatred.

In moving Marius's clothes he had found in his pockets two things,--the
loaf, which he had forgotten the previous evening, and his pocket-book.
He ate the bread and opened the pocket-book. On the first page he read
the lines written by Marius, as will be remembered,--

"My name is Marius Pontmercy. Carry my body to my grandfather, M.
Gillenormand, No. 6, Rue des Filles du Calvaire, in the Marais."

Jean Valjean read by the light of the grating these lines, and remained
for a time as it were absorbed in himself, and repeating in a low
voice, M. Gillenormand, No. 6, Rue des Filles du Calvaire. He returned
the portfolio to Marius's pocket; he had eaten, and his strength had
come back to him. He raised Marius again, carefully laid his head on
his right shoulder, and began descending the sewer. The Great Sewer,
running along the roadway of the valley of Menilmontant, is nearly
two leagues in length, and is paved for a considerable portion of the
distance. This torch of names of Paris streets, with which we enlighten
for the reader Jean Valjean's subterranean march, he did not possess.
Nothing informed him what zone of the city he was traversing, nor
what distance he had gone; still, the growing paleness of the flakes
of light which he met from time to time indicated to him that the sun
was retiring from the pavement, and that day would be soon ended, and
the rolling of vehicles over his head, which had become intermittent
instead of continuous, and then almost ceased, proved to him that he
was no longer under central Paris, and was approaching some solitary
region, near the external boulevards or most distant quays, where there
are fewer houses and streets, and the drain has fewer gratings. The
obscurity thickened around Jean Valjean; still he continued to advance,
groping his way in the shadow.

This shadow suddenly became terrible.



He felt that he was entering water, and that he had under his feet no
longer stone but mud. It often happens on certain coasts of Brittany
or Scotland that a man, whether traveller or fisherman, walking at low
tide on the sand, some distance from the shore, suddenly perceives that
during the last few minutes he has found some difficulty in walking.
The shore beneath his feet is like pitch, his heels are attached to
it, it is no longer sand but bird-lime; the sand is perfectly dry,
but at every step taken, so soon as the foot is raised the imprint it
leaves fills with water. The eye, however, has perceived no change,
the immense expanse is smooth and calm, all the sand seems alike,
nothing distinguishes the soil which is solid from that which is no
longer so, and the little merry swarm of water-fleas continue to leap
tumultuously round the feet of the wayfarer. The man follows his road,
turns toward the land, and tries to approach the coast, not that he is
alarmed; alarmed at what? Still, he feels as if the heaviness of his
feet increased at every step that he takes; all at once he sinks in,
sinks in two or three inches. He is decidedly not on the right road,
and stops to look about him. Suddenly he looks at his feet, but they
have disappeared, the sand covers them. He draws his feet out of the
sand and tries to turn back, but he sinks in deeper still. The sand
comes up to his ankle; he pulls it out and turns to his left, when the
sand comes to his knee; he turns to the right, and the sand comes up
to his thigh; then he recognizes with indescribable terror that he is
caught in a quicksand, and has under him the frightful medium in which
a man can no more walk than a fish can swim. He throws away his load,
if he have one, and lightens himself like a ship in distress; but it
is too late, for the sand is already above his knees. He calls out,
waves his hat or handkerchief, but the sand gains on him more and more.
If the shore is deserted, if land is too distant, if the sand-bank is
too ill-famed, if there is no hero in the vicinity, it is all over
with him, and he is condemned to be swallowed by the quicksands. He is
doomed to that long, awful, implacable interment, impossible to delay
or hasten, which lasts hours; which never ends; which seizes you when
erect, free, and in perfect health; which drags you by the feet; which,
at every effort you attempt, every cry you utter, drags you a little
deeper; which seems to punish you for your resistance by a redoubled
clutch; which makes a man slowly enter the ground while allowing him
ample time to regard the houses, the trees, the green fields, the
smoke from the villages on the plain, the sails of the vessels on the
sea, the birds that fly and sing, the sun, and the sky. A quicksand
is a sepulchre that converts itself into a tide, and ascends from
the bottom of the earth toward a living man. Each moment inexorably
wraps grave-clothes about him. The wretch tries to sit, to lie down,
to walk, to crawl; all the movements that he makes bury him; he draws
himself up, and only sinks deeper; he feels himself being swallowed up;
he yells, implores, cries to the clouds, writhes his arms, and grows
desperate. Then he is in the sand up to his waist; the sand reaches his
chest, he is but a bust. He raises his hands, utters furious groans,
digs his nails into the sand, tries to hold by this dust, raises
himself on his elbows to tear himself from this soft sheath, and sobs
frenziedly. The sand mounts, the sand reaches his shoulders, the sand
reaches his neck, the face alone is visible now. The mouth cries, the
sand fills it; silence. The eyes still look, the sand closes them;
night. Then the forehead sinks, and a little hair waves above the
sand; a hand emerges, digs up the sand, is waved, and disappears,--a
sinister effacement of a man.

At times the rider is swallowed up with his horse, at times the carter
with his cart. It is a shipwreck otherwhere than in the water; it is
the land drowning man. The land penetrated by the ocean becomes a
snare; it offers itself as a plain, and opens like a wave. The abyss
has its acts of treachery.

Such a mournful adventure, always possible on some seashore, was also
possible some thirty years ago in the sewer of Paris. Before the
important works began in 1833 the subway of Paris was subject to sudden
breakings-in. The water filtered through a subjacent and peculiarly
friable soil; and the roadway, if made of paving-stones, as in the old
drains, or of concrete upon béton, as in the new galleries, having no
support, bent. A bend in a planking of this nature is a crevice, and a
crevice is a bursting-in. The roadway broke away for a certain length,
and such a gap, a gulf of mud, was called in professional language
_fontis._ What is a fontis? It is the quicksand of the seashore
suddenly met with underground; it is the strand of Mont St. Michel in
a sewer. The moistened soil is in a state of fusion, all its particles
are held in suspense in a shifting medium; it is not land and it is not
water. The depth is at times very great. Nothing can be more formidable
than meeting with such a thing; if water predominate death is quick,
for a man is drowned; if earth predominate death is slow, for he is
sucked down.

Can our readers imagine such a death? If it be frightful to sink in the
sea-strand, what is it in a cloaca? Instead of fresh air, daylight,
a clear horizon, vast sounds, the free clouds from which life rains,
the barque perceived in the distance, that hope under every form, of
possible passers-by, of possible help up to the last minute,--instead
of all this, deafness, blindness, a black archway, the interior of a
tomb already made, death in the mud under a tombstone! Slow asphyxia
by uncleanliness, a sarcophagus where asphyxia opens its claws in
the filth and clutches you by the throat; fetidness mingled with the
death-rattle, mud instead of the sand, sulphuretted hydrogen in lieu
of the hurricane, ordure instead of the ocean! And to call and gnash
the teeth, and writhe and struggle and expire, with this enormous city
which knows nothing of it above one's head.

Inexpressible the horror of dying thus! Death sometimes expiates its
atrocity by a certain terrible dignity. On the pyre, in shipwreck, a
man may be great; in the flames, as in the foam, a superb attitude
is possible, and a man transfigures himself. But in this case it is
not so, for the death is unclean. It is humiliating to expire in such
a way, and the last floating visions are abject. Mud is the synonym
of shame, and is little, ugly, and infamous. To die in a butt of
Malmsey like Clarence,--very well; but in a sewer like d'Escoubleau is
horrible. To struggle in it is hideous, for at the same time as a man
is dying, he is dabbling. There is enough darkness for it to be Hell,
and enough mud for it to be merely a slough, and the dying man does not
know whether he is about to become a spectre or a frog. Everywhere else
the sepulchre is sinister, but here it is deformed.

The depth of the fontis varied, as did the length and density,
according to the nature of the subsoil. At times a fontis was three or
four feet deep, at times eight or ten, and sometimes it was bottomless.
In one the mud was almost solid, in another nearly liquid. In the
Lunière fontis, a man would have taken a day in disappearing, while he
would have been devoured in five minutes by the Phélippeaux slough. The
mud bears more or less well according to its degree of density, and a
lad escapes where a man is lost. The first law of safety is to throw
away every sort of loading, and every sewer-man who felt the ground
giving way under him began by getting rid of his basket of tools. The
fontis had various causes,--friability of soil, some convulsion at a
depth beyond a man's reach, violent summer showers, the incessant
winter rain, and long drizzling rains. At times the weight of the
surrounding houses upon a marshy or sandy soil broke the roofs of the
subterranean galleries and made them shrink, or else it happened that
the roadway broke and slit up under the terrific pressure. The pile of
the Panthéon destroyed in this way about a century ago a portion of
the cellars in Mont Sainte Geneviève. When a sewer gave way under the
weight of the houses, the disorder was expressed above in the street by
a sort of saw-toothed parting between the paving-stones. This rent was
developed in a serpentine line, along the whole length of the cracked
vault, and in such a case, the evil being visible, the remedy might
be prompt. It often happened also that the internal ravage was not
revealed by any scar outside, and in that case, woe to the sewer-men.
Entering the injured drain incautiously, they might be lost in it The
old registers mention several night-men buried in this manner in the
fontis. They mention several names, among others that of the sewer-man
swallowed up in a slough under the opening on the Rue Carême Prenant,
of the name of Blaise Poutrain; this Blaise was brother of Nicholas
Poutrain, who was the last sexton of the cemetery called the Charnier
des Innocents in 1785, when that cemetery expired. There was also the
young and charming Vicomte d'Escoubleau, to whom we have alluded, one
of the heroes of the siege of Lerida, where the assault was made in
silk stockings and with violins at their head. D'Escoubleau, surprised
one night with his cousin, the Duchesse de Sourdis, drowned himself
in a cesspool of the Beautreillis sewer, where he had taken refuge to
escape the Duc. Madame de Sourdis, when told the story of this death,
asked for her smelling-bottle, and forgot to weep through inhaling
her salts. In such a case there is no love that holds out; the cloaca
extinguishes it. Hero refuses to wash the corpse of Leander. Thisbe
holds her nose in the presence of Pyramus, and says, Pah!



Jean Valjean found himself in presence of a fontis: this sort of
breaking-in was frequent at that day in the subsoil of the Champs
Élysées, which was difficult to manage in hydraulic works, and not
preservative of subterranean constructions, owing to its extreme
fluidity. This fluidity exceeds even the inconsistency of the sands
of the Quartier St. Georges, which could only be overcome by laying
rubble on béton, and of the gas-infected clay strata in the Quartier
des Martyrs, which are so liquid that a passage could be effected under
the gallery only by means of an iron tube. When in 1836 the authorities
demolished and rebuilt under the Faubourg St. Honoré the old stone
sewer in which Jean Valjean is now engaged, the shifting sand which is
the subsoil of the Champs Élysées as far as the Seine offered such an
obstacle that the operation lasted six months, to the great annoyance
of those living on the water-side, especially such as had mansions
and coaches. The works were more than difficult, they were dangerous;
but we must allow that it rained for four and a half months, and the
Seine overflowed thrice. The fontis which Jean Valjean came across was
occasioned by the shower of the previous evening. A giving way of the
pavement, which was badly supported by the subjacent sand, had produced
a deposit of rain-water, and when the filtering had taken place the
ground broke in, and the roadway, being dislocated, fell into the mud.
How far? It was impossible to say, for the darkness was denser there
than anywhere else; it was a slough of mud in a cavern of night. Jean
Valjean felt the pavement depart from under him as he entered the
slough; there was water at top and mud underneath. He must pass it, for
it was impossible to turn back; Marius was dying, and Jean Valjean worn
out. Where else could he go? Jean Valjean advanced; the slough appeared
but of slight depth at the first few steps, but as he advanced his legs
sank in. He soon had mud up to the middle of the leg, and water up to
the middle of the knee. He walked along, raising Marius with both arms
as high as he could above the surface of the water; the mud now came up
to his knees and the water to his waist. He could no longer draw back,
and he sank in deeper and deeper. This mud, dense enough for the weight
of one man, could not evidently bear two; Marius and Jean Valjean might
have had a chance of getting out separately; but, for all that, Jean
Valjean continued to advance, bearing the dying man, who was perhaps a
corpse. The water came up to his armpits, and he felt himself drowning;
he could scarce move in the depth of mud in which he was standing, for
the density which was the support was also the obstacle. He still kept
Marius up, and advanced with an extraordinary expenditure of strength,
but he was sinking. He had only his head out of water and his two arms
sustaining Marius. In the old paintings of the Deluge there is a mother
holding her child in the same way. As he still sank he threw back his
face to escape the water and be able to breathe; any one who saw him in
this darkness would have fancied he saw a mask floating on the gloomy
waters; he vaguely perceived above him Marius's hanging head and livid
face; he made a desperate effort and advanced his foot, which struck
against something solid,--a resting-place. It was high time.

He drew himself up, and writhed and rooted himself with a species of
fury upon this support. It produced on him the effect of the first
step of a staircase reascending to life. This support, met with in the
mud at the supreme moment, was the beginning of the other side of the
roadway, which had fallen in without breaking, and bent under the water
like a plank in a single piece. A well-constructed pavement forms a
curve, and possesses such firmness. This fragment of roadway, partly
submerged, but solid, was a real incline, and once upon it they were
saved. Jean Valjean ascended it, and attained the other side of the
slough. On leaving the water his foot caught against a stone and he
fell on his knees. He found that this was just, and remained on them
for some time, with his soul absorbed in words addressed to God.

He rose, shivering, chilled, polluted, bent beneath the dying man he
carried, all dripping with filth, but with his soul full of a strange



He set out once again; still, if he had not left his life in the
fontis, he seemed to have left his strength there. This supreme effort
had exhausted him, and his fatigue was now so great that he was obliged
to rest every three or four paces to take breath, and leaned against
the wall. Once he was obliged to sit down on the banquette in order to
alter Marius's position, and believed that he should remain there. But
if his vigor were dead his energy was not so, and he rose again. He
walked desperately, almost quickly, went thus one hundred yards without
raising his head, almost without breathing, and all at once ran against
the wall. He had reached an elbow of the drain, and on arriving head
down at the turning, came against the wall. He raised his eyes, and
at the end of the passage down there, far, very far away, perceived a
light. But this time it was no terrible light, but white, fair light.
It was daylight. Jean Valjean saw the outlet. A condemned soul that
suddenly saw from the middle of the furnace the issue from Gehenna
would feel what Jean Valjean felt. It would fly wildly with the stumps
of its burnt wings toward the radiant gate. Jean Valjean no longer
felt fatigue, he no longer felt Marius's weight, he found again his
muscles of steel, and ran rather than walked. As he drew nearer, the
outlet became more distinctly designed; it was an arch, not so tall as
the roof, which gradually contracted, and not so wide as the gallery,
which grew narrower at the same time as the roof became lowered. The
tunnel finished inside in the shape of a funnel,--a faulty reduction,
imitated from the wickets of houses of correction, logical in a prison,
but illogical in a drain, and which has since been corrected.

Jean Valjean reached the issue and then stopped; it was certainly the
outlet, but they could not get out. The arch was closed by a strong
grating, and this grating, which apparently rarely turned on its
oxidized hinges, was fastened to the stone wall by a heavy lock, which,
red with rust, seemed an enormous brick. The key-hole was visible,
as well as the bolt deeply plunged into its iron box. It was one of
those Bastille locks of which ancient Paris was so prodigal. Beyond
the grating were the open air, the river, daylight, the bank,--very
narrow but sufficient to depart,--the distant quays, Paris,--that gulf
in which a man hides himself so easily,--the wide horizon, and liberty.
On the right could be distinguished, down the river, the Pont de Jéna,
and at the left, up stream, the Pont des Invalides; the spot would
have been a favorable one to await night and escape. It was one of
the most solitary points in Paris, the bank facing the Gros-Caillou.
The flies went in and out through the grating bars. It might be about
half-past eight in the evening, and day was drawing in: Jean Valjean
laid Marius along the wall on the dry part of the way, then walked
up to the grating and seized the bars with both hands; the shock was
frenzied, but the effect _nil._ The grating did not stir. Jean Valjean
seized the bars one after the other, hoping he might be able to break
out the least substantial one and employ it as a lever to lift, the
gate off the hinges or break the lock, but not a bar stirred. A tiger's
teeth are not more solidly set in their sockets. Without a lever it was
impossible to open the grating, and the obstacle was invincible.

Must he finish, then, there? What should he do? What would become of
him? He had not the strength to turn back and recommence the frightful
journey which he had already made. Moreover, how was he to cross again
that slough from which he had only escaped by a miracle? And after the
slough, was there not the police squad, which he assuredly would not
escape twice; and then where should he go, and what direction take?
Following the slope would not lead to his object, for if he reached
another outlet he would find it obstructed by an iron plate or a
grating. All the issues were indubitably closed in that way; accident
had left the grating by which they entered open, but it was plain that
all the other mouths of the sewer were closed. They had only succeeded
in escaping into a prison.

It was all over, and all that Jean Valjean had done was useless: God
opposed it. They were both caught in the dark and immense web of death,
and Jean Valjean felt the fearful spider already running along the
black threads in the darkness. He turned his hack to the grating and
fell on the pavement near Marius, who was still motionless, and whose
head had fallen between his knees. There was no outlet; that was the
last drop of agony. Of whom did he think in this profound despondency?
Neither of himself nor of Marius! He thought of Cosette.



In the midst of his annihilation a hand was laid on his shoulder, and a
low voice said,--

"Half shares."

Some one in this shadow? As nothing so resembles a dream as despair,
Jean Valjean fancied that he was dreaming. He had not heard a footstep.
Was it possible? He raised his eyes, and a man was standing before him.
This man was dressed in a blouse, his feet were naked, and he held his
shoes in his hand; he had evidently taken them off in order to be able
to reach Jean Valjean without letting his footsteps be heard. Jean
Valjean had not a moment's hesitation: however unexpected the meeting
might be, the man was known to him: it was Thénardier. Although, so to
speak, aroused with a start, Jean Valjean, accustomed to alarms and
to unexpected blows which it is necessary to parry quickly, at once
regained possession of all his presence of mind. Besides, the situation
could not be worse; a certain degree of distress is not capable of any
crescendo, and Thénardier himself could not add any blackness to this
night. There was a moment's expectation. Thénardier, raising his right
hand to the level of his forehead, made a screen of it; then he drew
his eyebrows together with a wink, which, with a slight pinching of the
lips, characterizes the sagacious attention of a man who is striving
to recognize another. He did not succeed. Jean Valjean, as we said,
was turning his back to the light, and was besides so disfigured, so
filthy, and blood-stained that he could not have been recognized in
broad daylight. On the other hand, Thénardier, with his face lit up by
the light from the grating,--a cellar brightness, it is true,--livid
but precise in his lividness, leaped at once into Jean Valjean's eyes,
to employ the energetic popular metaphor. This inequality of conditions
sufficed to insure some advantage to Jean Valjean in the mysterious
duel which was about to begin between the two situations and the two
men. The meeting took place between Jean Valjean masked and Thénardier
unmasked. Jean Valjean at once perceived that Thénardier did not
recognize him; and they looked at each other silently in this gloom, as
if taking each other's measure. Thénardier was the first to break the

"How do you mean to get out?"

Jean Valjean not replying, Thénardier continued:

"It is impossible to pick the lock: and yet you must get out of here."

"That is true," said Jean Valjean.

"Well, then, half shares."

"What do you mean?"

"You have killed the man; very good, and I have the key."

Thénardier pointed to Marius, and continued,--

"I do not know you, but you must be a friend, and I wish to help you."

Jean Valjean began to understand. Thénardier took him for an assassin.
The latter continued,--

"Listen, mate; you did not kill this man without looking to see what he
had in his pockets. Give me my half and I open the gate."

And half drawing a heavy key from under his ragged blouse, he added,--

"Would you like to see how the key to liberty is made? Look here."

Jean Valjean was so dazed that he doubted whether what he saw was real.
It was Providence appearing in a horrible form, and the good angel
issuing from the ground in the shape of Thénardier. The latter thrust
his hand into a wide pocket hidden under his blouse, drew out a rope,
and handed it to Jean Valjean.

"There," he said, "I give you the rope into the bargain."

"What am I to do with the rope?"

"You also want a stone, but you will find that outside, as there is a
heap of them."

"What am I to do with a stone?"

"Why, you ass, as you are going to throw the stiff into the river, you
want a rope and a stone, or else the body will float on the water."

Jean Valjean took the rope mechanically, and Thénardier snapped his
fingers as if a sudden idea had occurred to him.

"Hilloh, mate! how did you manage to get through that slough? I did
not dare venture into it. Peuh! you do not smell pleasant."

After a pause he added,--

"I ask you questions, but you are right not to answer: it is an
apprenticeship for the examining magistrate's ugly quarter of an hour.
And then, by not speaking at all a man runs no risk of speaking too
loud. No matter, though I cannot see your face and do not know your
name, you would do wrong in supposing that I do not know who you are
and what you want. I know all about it: you have rather split this
gentleman, and now want to get rid of him somewhere. You prefer the
river, that great nonsense-hider, and I will help you out of the
hobble. It is my delight to aid a good fellow when in trouble."

While commending Jean Valjean for his silence it was plain that he was
trying to make him speak. He pushed his shoulder, so as to be able to
see his profile, and exclaimed, though without raising the pitch of his

"Talking of the slough, you are a precious ass. Why did you not throw
the man into it?"

Jean Valjean preserved silence. Thénardier continued, raising his rag
of a cravat to the Adam's apple,--a gesture which completes the capable
air of a serious man.

"Really, you may have acted sensibly, for the workmen who will come
to-morrow to stop up the hole would certainly have found the swell,
and your trail would be followed up. Some one has passed through the
sewer. Who? How did he get out? Was he seen to do so? The police are
full of sense; the drain is a traitor, and denounces you. Such a find
is a rarity; it attracts attention; for few people employ the sewer for
their little business, while the river belongs to everybody, and is the
real grave. At the end of a month your man is fished up at the nets of
St. Cloud. Well, who troubles himself about that? It's carrion, that's
all. Who killed the man? Paris. And justice makes no inquiries. You
acted wisely."

The more loquacious Thénardier became, the more silent Jean Valjean
was. Thénardier shook his shoulder again.

"And now, let's settle our business. You have Been my key, so show me
your money."

Thénardier was haggard, firm, slightly menacing, but remarkably
friendly. There was one strange fact: Thénardier's manner was not
simple; he did not appear entirely at his ease. While not affecting
any mysterious air, he spoke in a low voice. From time to time he laid
his finger on his lip, and muttered "Chut!" It was difficult to guess
why, for there were only themselves present. Jean Valjean thought that
other bandits were probably hidden in some corner no great distance
off, and that Thénardier was not anxious to share with them. The latter

"Now for a finish. How much had the swell about him?"

Jean Valjean felt in his pockets. It was, as will be remembered, always
his rule to have money about him for the gloomy life of expedients to
which he was condemned rendered it a law for him. This time, however,
he was unprovided. In putting on upon the previous evening his National
Guard uniform, he forgot, mournfully absorbed as he was, to take out
his pocket-book, and he had only some change in his waistcoat-pocket.
He turned out his pocket, which was saturated with slime, and laid on
the banquette a louis d'or, two five-franc pieces, and five or six
double sous. Thénardier thrust out his lower lip with a significant
twist of the neck.

"You did not kill him for much," he said.

He began most familiarly feeling in Jean Valjean and Marius's pockets,
and Jean Valjean, who was most anxious to keep his back to the light,
allowed him to do so. While feeling in Marius's coat, Thénardier, with
the dexterity of a conjurer, managed to tear off, without Jean Valjean
perceiving the fact, a strip, which he concealed under his blouse;
probably thinking that this piece of cloth might help him to recognize
hereafter the assassinated man and the assassin. However, he found no
more than the thirty francs.

"It is true," he said; "one with the other, you have no more than that."

And forgetting his phrase, half-shares, he took all. He hesitated a
little at the double sous, but on reflection he took them too, while
grumbling, "I don't care, it is killing people too cheaply."

This done, he again took the key from under his blouse.

"Now, my friend, you must be off. It is here as at the fairs; you pay
when you go out. You have paid, so you can go."

And he began laughing. We may be permitted to doubt whether he had the
pure and disinterested intention of saving an assassin, when he gave a
stranger the help of this key, and allowed any one but himself to pass
through this gate. Thénardier helped Jean Valjean to replace Marius on
his back, and then proceeded to the grating on the tips of his naked
feet. After making Jean Valjean a sign to follow him, he placed his
finger on his lip, and remained for some seconds as if in suspense; but
when the inspection was over he put the key in the lock. The bolt slid,
and the gate turned on its hinges without either grinding or creaking.
It was plain that this grating and these hinges, carefully oiled,
opened more frequently than might be supposed. This smoothness was
ill-omened; it spoke of furtive comings and goings, of the mysterious
entrances and exits of night-men, and the crafty foot-fall of crime.
The sewer was evidently an accomplice of some dark band, and this
taciturn grating was a receiver. Thénardier held the door ajar, left
just room for Jean Valjean to pass, relocked the gate, and plunged
back into the darkness, making no more noise than a breath; he seemed
to walk with the velvety pads of a tiger. A moment later this hideous
providence had disappeared, and Jean Valjean was outside.



He let Marius slip down on to the bank. They were outside: the
miasmas, the darkness, the horror, were behind him; the healthy, pure,
living, joyous, freely respirable air inundated him. All around him
was silence, but it was the charming silence of the sun setting in
the full azure. Twilight was passing, and night, the great liberator,
the friend of all those who need a cloak of darkness to escape from
an agony, was at hand. The sky presented itself on all sides like an
enormous calm, and the river rippled up to his feet with the sound of
a kiss. The aerial dialogue of the nests bidding each other good-night
in the elms of the Champs Élysées was audible. A few stars, faintly
studding the pale blue of the zenith, formed in the immensity little
imperceptible flashes. Night unfolded over Jean Valjean's head all the
sweetness of infinitude. It was the undecided and exquisite hour which
says neither yes nor no. There was already sufficient night for a man
to lose himself in it a short distance off, and yet sufficient daylight
to recognize any one close by. Jean Valjean was for a few seconds
irresistibly overcome by all this august and caressing serenity. There
are minutes of oblivion in which suffering gives up harassing the
wretch; all is eclipsed in the thought; peace covers the dreamer like
night, and under the gleaming twilight the soul is lit with stars in
imitation of the sky which is becoming illumined. Jean Valjean could
not refrain from contemplating the vast clear night above him, and
pensively took a bath of ecstasy and prayer in the majestic silence
of the eternal heavens. Then, as if the feeling of duty returned to
him, he eagerly bent down over Marius, and lifting some water in the
hollow of his hand, softly threw a few drops into his face. Marius's
eyelids did not move, but he still breathed through his parted lips.
Jean Valjean was again about to plunge his hand into the river, when
he suddenly felt an indescribable uneasiness, as when we feel there is
some one behind us without seeing him. He turned round, and there was
really some one behind him, as there had been just before.

A man of tall stature, dressed in a long coat, with folded arms, and
carrying in his right hand a "life-preserver," whose leaden knob
could be seen, was standing a few paces behind Jean Valjean, who was
leaning over Marius. It was with the help of the darkness a species of
apparition; a simple man would have been frightened at it owing to the
twilight, and a thoughtful one on account of the bludgeon. Jean Valjean
recognized Javert. The reader has doubtless guessed that the tracker
of Thénardier was no other than Javert. Javert, after his unhoped-for
escape from the barricade, went to the Préfecture of Police, made a
verbal report to the prefect in person in a short audience, and then
immediately returned to duty, which implied--the note found on him
will be remembered--a certain surveillance of the right bank of the
river at the Champs Élysées, which had for some time past attracted the
attention of the police. There he perceived Thénardier and followed
him. The rest is known.

It will be also understood that the grating so obligingly opened for
Jean Valjean was a clever trick on the part of Thénardier. He felt
that Javert was still there,--the watched man has a scent which never
deceives him,--and it was necessary to throw a bone to this greyhound.
An assassin,--what a chance! he could not let it slip. Thénardier,
on putting Jean Valjean outside in his place, offered a prey to the
policeman, made him loose his hold, caused himself to be forgotten in
a greater adventure, recompensed Javert for his loss of time,--which
always flatters a spy,--gained thirty francs, and fully intended for
his own part to escape by the help of this diversion.

Jean Valjean had passed from one reef to another.

These two meetings one upon the other, felling from Thénardier on
Javert, were rude. Javert did not recognize Jean Valjean, who, as we
have said, no longer resembled himself. He did not unfold his arms, but
made sure his "life-preserver" by an imperceptible movement, and said,
in a sharp, calm voice,--

"Who are you?"


"What do you mean?"

"I am Jean Valjean."

Javert placed his life-preserver between his teeth, bent his knees,
bowed his back, laid his two powerful hands on Jean Valjean's
shoulders, which they held as in two vises, examined and recognized
him. Their faces almost touched, and Javert's glance was terrific. Jean
Valjean remained inert under Javert's gripe, like a lion enduring the
claw of a lynx.

"Inspector Javert," he said, "you have me. Besides, since this morning
I have considered myself your prisoner. I did not give you my address
in order to try to escape you. Take me, but grant me one thing."

Javert did not seem to hear, but kept his eyeballs fixed on Jean
Valjean. His wrinkled chin thrust up his lips toward his nose, a sign
of stern reverie. At length he loosed his hold of Jean Valjean, drew
himself up, clutched his cudgel, and, as if in a dream, muttered rather
than asked this question,--

"What are you doing here, and who is that man?"

Jean Valjean replied, and the sound of his voice seemed to awaken

"It is of him that I wished to speak. Do with me as you please, but
help me first to carry him home. I only ask this of you."

Javert's face was contracted in the same way as it always was when any
one believed him capable of a concession; still he did not say no. He
stopped again, took from his pocket a handkerchief, which he dipped in
the water, and wiped Marius's ensanguined forehead.

"This man was at the barricade," he said in a low voice, and as if
speaking to himself; "he was the one whom they called Marius."

He was a first-class spy, who had observed everything, listened to
everything, heard everything, and picked up everything, when he
believed himself a dead man; who spied even in his death agony, and,
standing on the first step of the sepulchre, took notes. He seized
Marius's hand, and felt his pulse.

"He is wounded," said Jean Valjean.

"He is a dead man," said Javert.

Jean Valjean replied,--

"No; not yet."

"Then you brought him from the barricade here?" Javert observed.

His preoccupation must have been great for him not to dwell on this
alarming escape through the sewers, and not even remark Jean Valjean's
silence after his question. Jean Valjean, on his side, seemed to have a
sole thought; he continued,--

"He lives in the Marais, in the Rue des Filles du Calvaire, with his
grandfather. I do not know his name."

Jean Valjean felt in Marius's pocket, took out the portfolio, opened
it at the page on which Marius had written in pencil, and offered
it to Javert. There was still sufficient floating light in the air
to be able to read, and Javert, besides, had in his eyes the feline
phosphorescence of night-birds. He deciphered the few lines written by
Marius, and growled, "Gillenormand, No. 6, Rue des Filles du Calvaire."
Then he cried, "Driver!"

Our readers will remember the coachman waiting above in case of
need. A moment after the hackney, which came down the incline leading
to the watering-place, was on the bank. Marius was deposited on the
back seat, and Javert sat down by Jean Valjean's side on the front
one. When the door was closed the fiacre started off rapidly along
the quays in the direction of the Bastille. They quitted the quay and
turned into the streets; and the driver, a black outline on his seat,
lashed his lean horses. There was an icy silence in the hackney coach;
Marius motionless, with his body reclining in one corner, his head on
his chest, his arms pendent, and his legs stiff, appeared to be only
waiting for a coffin. Jean Valjean seemed made of gloom, and Javert of
stone; and in this fiacre full of night, whose interior, each time that
it passed a lamp, seemed to be lividly lit up as if by an intermittent
flash, accident united and appeared to confront the three immobilities
of tragedy,--the corpse, the spectre, and the statue.



At each jolt over the pavement a drop of blood fell from Marius's hair.
It was quite night when the hackney coach reached No. 6, Rue des Filles
du Calvaire. Javert got out first, examined at a glance the number
over the gateway, and raising the heavy knocker of hammered steel,
embellished in the old style with a goat and a satyr contending, gave a
violent knock. The folding-door opened slightly, and Javert pushed it
open. The porter half showed himself, yawning, and scarce awake, candle
in hand. All were asleep in the house, for people go to bed early at
the Marais, especially on days of rioting. This good old district,
terrified by the revolution, takes refuge in sleep, like children who,
when they hear "old Bogey coming," quickly hide their heads under the
counterpane. In the mean while Jean Valjean and the driver removed
Marius from the hackney coach, Valjean holding him under the armpits
and the coachman under the knees. While carrying Marius in this way
Jean Valjean passed his hands under his clothes, which were terribly
torn, felt his chest, and assured himself that his heart still beat. It
even beat a little less feebly, as if the motion of the vehicle had
produced a certain renewal of vitality. Javert addressed the porter in
the tone which becomes the government in the presence of the porter of
a factionist.

"Any one live here of the name of Gillenormand?"

"It is here. What do you want with him?"

"We bring him his son."

"His son?" the porter asked in amazement.

"He is dead."

Jean Valjean, who came up ragged and filthy behind Javert, and whom
the porter regarded with some horror, made him a sign that it was not
so. The porter seemed neither to understand Javert's remark nor Jean
Valjean's sign. Javert continued,--

"He has been to the barricade, and here he is."

"To the barricade!" the porter exclaimed.

"He has been killed. Go and wake his father."

The porter did not stir.

"Be off!" Javert continued; and added, "There will be a funeral here

For Javert, the ordinary incidents of the streets were classified
categorically, which is the commencement of foresight and surveillance,
and each eventuality had its compartment; the possible facts were
to some extent kept in drawers, whence they issued on occasions, in
variable quantities; there were in the streets, disturbance, riot,
carnival, and interments.

The porter limited himself to awaking Basque; Basque awoke Nicolette;
Nicolette awoke Aunt Gillenormand. As for the grandfather, he was left
to sleep, as it was thought that he would know the affair quite soon
enough as it was. Marius was carried to the first-floor, no one being
acquainted with the fact in the rest of the house, and he was laid on
an old sofa in M. Gillenormand's ante-room, and while Basque went to
fetch a physician and Nicolette opened the linen-presses, Jean Valjean
felt Javert touch his shoulder. He understood, and went down, Javert
following close at his heels. The porter saw them depart, as he had
seen them arrive, with a startled sleepiness. They got into the hackney
coach, and the driver on his box.

"Inspector Javert," Jean Valjean said, "grant me one thing more."

"What is it?" Javert answered roughly.

"Let me go home for a moment, and you can then do with me what you

Javert remained silent for a few moments with his chin thrust into the
collar of his great-coat, and then let down the front window.

"Driver," he said, "No. 7, Rue de l'Homme Armé."



They did not speak during the entire ride. What did Jean Valjean want?
To finish what he had begun; to warn Cosette, tell her where Marius
was, give her perhaps some other useful information, and make, if he
could, certain final arrangements. For his own part, as regarded what
concerned him personally, it was all over; he had been arrested by
Javert, and did not resist. Any other than he, in such a situation,
would perhaps have thought vaguely of the rope which Thénardier had
given him, and the bars of the first cell he entered; but since his
meeting with the Bishop, Jean Valjean had within him a profound
religious hesitation against every assault, even on himself. Suicide,
that mysterious attack on the unknown, which may contain to a certain
extent the death of the soul, was impossible to Jean Valjean.

On entering the Rue de l'Homme Armé the coach stopped, as the street
was too narrow for vehicles to pass along it. Jean Valjean and Javert
got out. The driver humbly represented to "Mr. Inspector" that the
Utrecht velvet of his coach was quite spoiled by the blood of the
assassinated man and the filth of the assassin,--that is how he
understood the affair,--and he added that an indemnity was due to him.
At the same time taking his license-book from his pocket, he begged
Mr. Inspector to have the kindness to write him a little bit of a
certificate. Javert thrust back the book which the driver offered him
and said,--

"How much do you want, including the time you waited and the journey?"

"It's seven hours and a quarter," the driver answered, "and my velvet
was brand new. Eighty francs, Mr. Inspector."

Javert took from his pocket four Napoleons, and dismissed the hackney
coach. Jean Valjean thought that it was Javert's intention to take him
on foot to the Blancs Manteaux post, or that of the Archives, which
were close by. They entered the street, which was as usual deserted.
Javert followed Jean Valjean, and, on reaching No. 7, the latter
rapped, and the gate opened.

"Very good," said Javert; "go up."

He added, with a strange expression, and as if making an effort to
speak in this way,--

"I will wait for you here."

Jean Valjean looked at Javert, for this style of conduct was not at
all a habit of Javert's. Still, it could not surprise him greatly that
Javert should now place in him a sort of haughty confidence,--the
confidence of the cat which grants the mouse liberty to the length of
its claw, determined as Jean Valjean was to give himself up and make
an end of it. He thrust open the gate, entered the house, shouted to
the porter, who was lying down and had pulled the string from his bed,
"It is I," and mounted the staircase. On reaching the first story he
paused, for every Via Dolorosa has its stations. The window at the
head of the stairs, a sash-window, was open. As is the case in many
old houses, the staircase obtained light from, and looked out on, the
street. The street lantern, situated precisely opposite, threw some
little light on the stairs, which caused a saving of a lamp. Jean
Valjean, either to breathe or mechanically, thrust his head out of
this window and looked down into the street. It is short, and the lamp
lit it from one end to the other. Jean Valjean had a bedazzlement of
stupor: there was no one in it.

Javert had gone away.



Basque and the porter had carried Marius, who was still lying
motionless on the sofa on which he had been laid on arriving, into
the drawing-room. The physician, who had been sent for, hurried in,
and Aunt Gillenormand had risen. Aunt Gillenormand came and went,
horrified, clasping her hands, and incapable of doing anything but
saying, "Can it be possible?" She added at intervals, "Everything
will be stained with blood." When the first horror had passed away a
certain philosophy of the situation appeared even in her mind, and was
translated by the exclamation, "It must end in that way." She did not
go so far, though, as "Did I not say so?" which is usual on occasions
of this nature.

By the surgeon's orders a folding-bed was put up near the sofa. He
examined Marius, and after satisfying himself that the pulse still
beat, that the patient had no penetrating wound in the chest, and that
the blood at the corners of the lips came from the nostrils, he had him
laid flat on the bed, without a pillow, the head level with the body,
and even a little lower, the chest bare, in order to facilitate the
breathing. Mademoiselle Gillenormand, seeing that Marius was being
undressed, withdrew, and told her beads in her bed-room. The body had
received no internal injury; a ball, deadened by the pocket-book, had
deviated, and passed round the ribs with a frightful gash, but as it
was not deep, it was therefore not dangerous. The long subterranean
march had completed the dislocation of the collar-bone, and there were
serious injuries there. The arms were covered with sabre-cuts; no scar
disfigured the face, but the head was cut all over with gashes. What
would be the state of these wounds on the head,--did they stop at the
scalp, or did they reach the brain? It was impossible to say yet. It
was a serious symptom that they had caused the faintness. And men do
not always awake from such fainting-fits; the hemorrhage, moreover, had
exhausted the wounded man. From the waist downward the lower part of
the body had been protected by the barricade.

Basque and Nicolette tore up linen and prepared bandages: Nicolette
sewed them and Basque rolled them. As they had no lint, the physician
had temporarily checked the effusion of blood with cakes of wadding.
By the side of the bed three candles burned on the table on which the
surgeon's pocket-book lay open. He washed Marius's face and hair with
cold water, and a bucketful was red in an instant. The porter, candle
in hand, lighted him. The surgeon seemed to be thinking sadly: from
time to time he gave a negative shake of the head, as if answering
some question which he mentally addressed to himself. Such mysterious
dialogues of the physician with himself are a bad sign for the patient.
At the moment when the surgeon was wiping the face and gently touching
with his finger the still closed eyelids, a door opened at the end of
the room, and a tall, pale figure appeared: it was the grandfather.
The riot during the last two days had greatly agitated, offended, and
occupied M. Gillenormand; he had not been able to sleep on the previous
night, and he had been feverish all day. At night he went to bed at a
very early hour, bidding his people bar up the house, and had fallen
asleep through weariness.

Old men have a fragile sleep. M. Gillenormand's bed-room joined the
drawing-room, and whatever precautions had been taken, the noise awoke
him. Surprised by the crack of light which he saw in his door, he had
got out of bed and groped his way to the door. He was standing on
the threshold, with one hand on the door-handle, his head slightly
bent forward and shaking, his body enfolded in a white dressing-gown
as straight and creaseless as a winding-sheet: he was surprised, and
looked like a ghost peering into a tomb. He noticed the bed, and on the
mattress this young bleeding man, of the whiteness of wax, with closed
eyes, open mouth, livid cheeks, naked to the waist, marked all over
with vermilion, wounded, motionless, and brightly illumined.

The grandfather had from head to foot that shudder which ossified limbs
can have. His eyes, whose cornea was yellow owing to their great age,
were veiled by a sort of glassy stare; his entire face assumed in an
instant the earthly angles of a skeleton's head; his arms fell pendent
as if a spring had been broken in them, and his stupor was displayed
by the outspreading of all the fingers of his two old trembling hands.
His knees formed a salient angle, displaying through the opening of his
dressing-gown his poor naked legs bristling with white hairs, and he


"He has just been brought here, sir," said Basque; "he went to the
barricade, and--"

"He is dead," the old gentleman exclaimed in a terrible voice. "Oh, the

Then a sort of sepulchral transfiguration drew up this centenarian as
straight as a young man.

"You are the surgeon, sir," he said; "begin by telling me one thing. He
is dead, is he not?"

The surgeon, who was frightfully anxious, maintained silence, and M.
Gillenormand wrung his hands with a burst of terrifying laughter.

"He is dead, he is dead! He has let himself be killed at the barricade
through hatred of me; it was against me that he did it! Ah, the
blood-drinker, that is the way in which he returns to me! Woe of my
life, he is dead!"

He went to a window, opened it quite wide, as if he were stifling, and
standing there began speaking to the night in the street.

"Stabbed, sabred, massacred, exterminated, slashed, cut to pieces!
Do you see that, the beggar! He knew very well that I expected him,
and that I had his room ready, and that I had placed at my bed-head
his portrait when he was a child! He knew very well that he need only
return, and that for years I had been recalling him, and that I sat at
night by my fire-side with my hands on my knees, not knowing what to
do, and that I was crazy about him! You knew that very well; you had
only to return and say, 'It is I,' and you would be the master of the
house, and I would obey you, and you could do anything you liked with
your old ass of a grandfather! You knew it very well, and said, 'No,
he is a royalist, I will not go!' and you went to the barricades, and
have let yourself be killed out of spite, in order to revenge yourself
for what I said on the subject of Monsieur le Due de Berry! Is not
that infamous! Go to bed and sleep quietly, for he is dead. This is my

The surgeon, who was beginning to be anxious for both, left Marius,
and going up to M. Gillenormand, took his arm. The grandfather turned,
looked at him with eyes that seemed dilated and bloodshot, and said

"I thank you sir, I am calm. I am a man. I saw the death of Louis XVI.,
and can endure events. There is one thing that is terrible,--it is
the thought that it is your newspapers which do all the mischief. You
have scribblers, speakers, lawyers, orators, tribunes, discussions,
progress, lights, rights of man, liberty of the press, and that is
the way in which your children are brought back to your houses. Oh,
Marius, it is abominable! Killed! dead before me! a barricade! Oh, the
bandit! Doctor, you live in the quarter, I believe? Oh yes, I know
you well. I have seen your cab pass from my window. Well, I will tell
you. You are wrong if you think that I am in a passion, for people do
not get in a passion with a dead man, it would be stupid. That is a
boy I brought up; I was old when he was still quite little. He played
in the Tuileries with his little spade and his little chair, and, in
order that the inspectors should not scold, I used to fill up with my
cane the holes which he made with his spade. One day he cried, 'Down
with Louis XVIII.!' and went off. It is not my fault. He was all pink
and white, and his mother is dead: have you noticed that all little
children are light-haired? He is a son of one of those brigands of the
Loire, but children are innocent of their fathers' crimes. I remember
him when he was so high, and he could never manage to pronounce a _d._
He spoke so sweetly and incomprehensibly that you might have fancied
him a bird. I remember one day that a circle was formed in front of the
Farnese Hercules to admire that child, he was so lovely. He had a head
such as you see in pictures. I used to speak loud to him, and threaten
him with my cane; but he knew very well that it was a joke. In the
morning, when he entered my room, I scolded; but it produced the effect
of sunshine upon me. It is not possible to defend yourself against
these brats, for they take you, and hold you, and do not let you go
again. It is the fact that there never was a Cupid like that child. And
now what do you say of your Lafayette, your Benjamin Constant, and your
Tirecuir de Corcelles, who kill him for me? Oh, it cannot pass away
like that!"

He went up to Marius, who was still livid and motionless, and began
wringing his hands again. The old gentleman's white lips moved as it
were mechanically, and allowed indistinct sentences to pass, which
were scarce audible. "Ah, heartless! ah, clubbist! ah, scoundrel! ah,
Septembrizer!"--reproaches uttered in a low voice by a dying man to a
corpse. By degrees, as such internal eruptions must always burst forth,
the flood of words returned; but the grandfather seemed no longer to
have the strength to utter them; his voice was so hollow and choked
that it seemed to come from the other brink of an abyss.

"I do not care a bit; I will die too. And then to think there is not
a wench in Paris who would not be happy to produce the happiness of
that scoundrel,--a scamp, who, instead of amusing himself and enjoying
life, went to fight, and let himself be shot like a brute! And for
whom, and for what? For the republic, instead of going to dance at the
Chaumière, as is the duty of young men! It is really worth while being
twenty years of age. The republic,--a fine absurdity! Poor mothers
bring pretty boys into the world for that! Well, he is dead; that will
make two hearses under the gateway. So you have got yourself served in
that way for love of General Lamarque! What did General Lamarque do for
you? A sabrer! a chatterer! to get one's self killed for a dead man!
Is it not enough to drive one mad? Can you understand that? At twenty!
and without turning his head to see whether he left anything behind
him! Now, see the poor old fellows who are obliged to die all alone.
Rot in your corner, owl! Well, after all, that is what I hoped for, and
is for the best, as it will kill me right off. I am too old; I am one
hundred; I am a hundred thousand, and I had a right to be dead long
ago. Well, this blow settles it. It is all over. What happiness! What
is the use of making him inhale ammonia and all that pile of drugs? You
ass of a doctor, you are wasting your time. There, he's dead, quite
dead! I know it, for I am dead too. He did not do the thing by halves.
Yes, the present age is infamous, infamous, infamous! And that is what
I think of you, your ideas, your systems, your masters, your oracles,
your doctors, your scamps of writers, your rogues of philosophers, and
all the revolutions which have startled the Tuileries ravens during
the last sixty years. And since you were pitiless in letting yourself
be killed so, I will not even feel sorry at your death. Do your hear,

At this moment Marius slowly opened his eyes, and his glance, still
veiled by lethargic surprise, settled on M. Gillenormand.

"Marius!" the old man cried; "Marius, my little Marius! My child! My
beloved son! You open your eyes! You look at me! You are alive! Thanks!"

And he fell down in a fainting fit.



Javert retired slowly from the Rue de l'Homme Armé. He walked with
drooping head for the first time in his life, and equally for the
first time in his life with his hands behind his back. Up to that day
Javert had only assumed, of Napoleon's two attitudes, the one which
expresses resolution, the arms folded on the chest; the one indicating
uncertainty, the arms behind the back, was unknown to him. Now a change
had taken place, and his whole person, slow and sombre, was stamped
with anxiety. He buried himself in the silent streets, but followed a
certain direction. He went by the shortest road to the Seine, reached
the Quai des Ormes, walked along it, passed the Grêve, and stopped, a
little distance from the Place du Châtelet, at the corner of the Pont
Nôtre Dame. The Seine makes there, between that bridge and the Pont
au Change on one side, and the Quai de la Mégisserie and the Quai aux
Fleurs on the other, a species of square hike traversed by a rapid.
This point of the Seine is feared by sailors; nothing can be more
dangerous than this rapid, at that period contracted and irrigated
by the piles of the mill bridge, since demolished. The two bridges,
so close to each other, heighten the danger, for the water hurries
formidably through the arches. It rolls in broad, terrible waves, it
increases, and is heaped up; the flood strives to root out the piles
of the bridge with thick liquid cords. Men who fall in there do not
reappear, and the best swimmers are drowned.

Javert leaned his elbows on the parapet, his chin on his hand,
and while his hands mechanically closed on his thick whiskers, he
reflected. A novelty, a revolution, a catastrophe had just taken
place within him, and he must examine into it. Javert was suffering
horribly, and for some hours past Javert had ceased to be simple.
He was troubled; this brain, so limpid in its blindness, had lost
its transparency, and there was a cloud in this crystal. Javert felt
in his conscience duty doubled, and he could not hide the fact from
himself. When he met Jean Valjean so unexpectedly on the Seine bank,
he had something within him of the wolf that recaptures its prey and
the dog that finds its master again. He saw before him two roads, both
equally straight; but he saw two of them, and this terrified him, as
he had never known in his life but one straight line. And, poignant
agony! these two roads were contrary, and one of these right lines
excluded the other. Which of the two was the true one? His situation
was indescribable; to owe his life to a malefactor, to accept this debt
and repay him; to be, in spite of himself, on the same footing with
an escaped convict, and requite one service with another service; to
let it be said to him, "Be off!" and to say in his turn, "Be free!"
to sacrifice to personal motives duty, that general obligation,
and to feel in these personal motives something general too, and
perhaps superior; to betray society in order to remain faithful to
his conscience,--that all these absurdities should be realized, and
accumulated upon him, was what startled him. One thing had astonished
him,--that Jean Valjean had shown him mercy; and one thing had
petrified him,--that he, Javert, had shown mercy to Jean Valjean.

Where was he? He sought and no longer found himself. What was he to do
now? To give up Jean Valjean was bad, to leave Jean Valjean at liberty
was bad. In the former case, the man of authority fell lower than the
man of the galleys; in the second, a convict rose higher than the law,
and set his foot upon it. In either case, dishonor for him, Javert.
Whatever resolution he might form, there was a fall, for destiny has
certain extremities projecting over the impossible, beyond which life
is only a precipice. Javert had reached one of these extremities: one
of his anxieties was to be constrained to think, and the very violence
of all these contradictory emotions compelled him to do so. Now,
thought was an unusual thing for him, and singularly painful. There is
always in thought a certain amount of internal rebellion, and he was
irritated at having that within him. Thought, no matter on what subject
beyond the narrow circle of his destiny, would have been to him in any
case useless and wearisome; but thinking about the day which had just
passed was a torture. And yet he must after such shocks look into his
conscience, and give himself an account of himself. What he had done
caused him to shudder; he, Javert, had thought fit to decide--against
all police regulations, against all social and judicial organization,
and against the entire codes--a discharge: that had suited him. He
had substituted his own affairs for public affairs; was not that
unjustifiable? Each time that he stood facing the nameless action which
he had committed, he trembled from head to foot. What should he resolve
on? Only one resource was left him,--to return at full speed to the Rue
de l'Homme Armé and lock up Jean Valjean. It was clear that this was
what he ought to do, but he could not do it. Something barred the way
on that side. What! is there anything in the world besides sentences,
the police, and the authorities? Javert was overwhelmed.

A sacred galley-slave! a convict impregnable by justice, and that
through the deed of Javert! Was it not frightful that Javert and Jean
Valjean, the man made to punish and the man made to endure,--that these
two men, who were both the property of the law, should have reached the
point of placing themselves both above the law? What! such enormities
could happen and no one be punished? Jean Valjean, stronger than the
whole social order, would be free, and he, Javert, would continue to
eat the bread of the Government! His reverie gradually became terrible:
he might through this reverie have reproached himself slightly on
the subject of the insurgent carried home to the Rue des Filles du
Calvaire, but he did not think of it. The slighter fault was lost in
the greater; and besides, this insurgent was evidently a dead man,
and, legally, death checks persecution. Jean Valjean,--that was the
weight which he had on his mind. Jean Valjean disconcerted him. All
the axioms which had been the support of his whole life crumbled away
before this man, and the generosity of Jean Valjean to him, Javert,
overwhelmed him. Other facts which he remembered, and which he had
formerly treated as falsehoods and folly, now returned to his mind as
realities. M. Madeleine reappeared behind Jean Valjean, and the two
figures were blended into one, which was venerable. Javert felt that
something horrible, admiration for a convict, was entering his soul.
Respect for a galley-slave, is it possible? He shuddered at it, and
could not escape from it, although he struggled. He was reduced to
confess in his soul the sublimity of this villain, and this was odious.
A benevolent malefactor, a compassionate, gentle, helping, and merciful
convict,--repaying good for evil, pardon for hatred, preferring pity to
vengeance, ready to destroy himself sooner than his enemy, saving the
man who had struck him, kneeling on the pinnacle of virtue, and nearer
to the angels than to man. Javert was constrained to confess to himself
that such a monster existed.

This could not last. Assuredly--and we lay stress on the fact--he
had not yielded without resistance to this monster, to this infamous
angel, to this hideous hero, at whom he felt almost as indignant as
stupefied. Twenty times while in that hackney coach face to face with
Jean Valjean the legal tiger had roared within him. Twenty times he
had felt tempted to hurl himself on Jean Valjean, to seize and devour
him,--that is to say, arrest him. What more simple, in fact,--shout to
the nearest post before which he passed, "Here is a convict who has
broken his ban!" and then go away, leave the condemned man there, be
ignorant of the rest, and interfere no further? This man is eternally
the prisoner of the law, and the law will do what it pleases with him.
What was fairer? Javert had said all this to himself; he had wished to
go further,--to act, apprehend the man,--and then, as now, had been
unable; and each time that his hand was convulsively raised to Jean
Valjean's collar, it fell back as if under an enormous weight, and
he heard in the bottom of his heart a voice, a strange voice, crying
to him, "That is well. Give up your saviour, then send for Pontius
Pilate's basin, and wash your hands in it!"

Then his thoughts reverted to himself, and by the side of Jean Valjean
aggrandized he saw himself degraded. A convict was his benefactor, but
why had he allowed that man to let him live? He had the right of being
killed at that barricade, and should have employed that right. It would
have been better to call the other insurgents to his aid against Jean
Valjean, and have himself shot by force. His supreme agony was the
disappearance of certainty, and he felt himself uprooted. The code was
now only a stump in his hand, and he had to deal with scruples of an
unknown species. There was within him a sentimental revelation entirely
distinct from the legal affirmation, his sole measure hitherto, and
it was not sufficient to remain in his old honesty. A whole order
of unexpected facts arose and subjugated him, an entire new world
appeared to his soul; benefits accepted and returned, devotion, mercy,
indulgence, violence done by pity to austerity, no more definitive
condemnation, no more damnation, the possibility of a tear in the eye
of the law, and perhaps some justice according to God acting in an
inverse ratio to justice according to man. He perceived in the darkness
the rising of an unknown moral sun, and he was horrified and dazzled.
He was an owl forced to look like the eagle.

He said to himself that it was true, then, that there were exceptions,
that authority might be disconcerted, that the rule might fall short
in the presence of a fact, that everything was not contained in the
text of a code, that the unforeseen made itself obeyed, that the virtue
of a convict might set a snare for the virtue of a functionary, that
the monstrous might be divine, that destiny had such ambuscades; and
he thought with despair that he had himself not been protected from a
surprise. He was compelled to recognize that goodness existed; this
galley-slave had been good, and he, extraordinary to say, had been good
also. Hence he was becoming depraved. He felt that he was a coward,
and it horrified him. The ideal for Javert was not to be human, grand,
or sublime; it was to be irreproachable,--and now he had broken down.
How had he reached this stage? How had all this happened? He could not
have told himself. He took his head between his hands; but whatever
he might do, he could not succeed in explaining it. He certainly had
had the intention of delivering Jean Valjean over to the law, of which
Jean Valjean was the captive and of which he was the slave. He had not
confessed to himself for a single instant, while he held him, that he
had a thought of letting him go; it was to some extent unconsciously
that his hand had opened and allowed him to escape.

All sorts of enigmatic novelties passed before his eyes. He asked
himself questions and gave himself answers, and his answers terrified
him. He asked himself, "What has this convict, this desperate man, whom
I followed to persecution, and who had me under his heel, and could
have avenged himself, and ought to have acted so, both for his rancor
and his security, done in leaving me my life and showing me mercy,--his
duty? No, something more. And what have I done in showing him mercy in
my turn,--my duty? No, something more. Is there, then, something more
than duty?" Here he was terrified, he was thrown off his balance,--one
of the scales fell into the abyss, the other ascended to heaven; and
Javert felt no less horror at the one above than at the one below.
Without being the least in the world what is termed a Voltairian,
or philosopher, or incredulous man, respectful, on the contrary,
instinctively to the Established Church, he only knew it as an august
fragment of the social _ensemble_; order was his dogma, and sufficient
for him. Since he had attained man's age and office, he had set nearly
all his religion in the police, being,--and we employ the words without
the slightest irony, and in their most serious acceptation,--being,
as we have said, a spy, as another man is a priest He had a superior,
M. Gisquet; but he had never thought up to this day of that other
superior, God. He felt the presence of this new Chief unexpectedly,
and was troubled by Him. He was thrown out of gear by this person; he
knew not what to do with this Superior, for he was not ignorant that
the subordinate is bound always to bow the head, that he must neither
disobey, nor blame, nor discuss, and that when facing a superior who
astonishes him too much, the inferior has no other resource but his
resignation. But how could he manage to give in his resignation to God?

However this might be, one fact to which he constantly returned, and
which ruled everything else, was that he had just committed a frightful
infraction of the law. He had closed his eyes to a relapsed convict
who had broken his ban; he had set a galley-slave at liberty. He had
stolen from the laws a man who belonged to them. He had done this, and
no longer understood himself. He was not certain of being himself. The
very reasons of his deed escaped him, and he only felt the dizziness
it produced. He had lived up to this moment in that blind faith which
engenders a dark probity; and this faith was leaving him, this probity
had failed him. All that he had believed was dissipated, and truths
which he did not desire inexorably besieged him. He must henceforth be
another man, and he suffered the strange pain of a conscience suddenly
operated on for cataract. He saw what it was repulsive to him to
see, and felt himself spent, useless, dislocated from his past life,
discharged and dissolved. Authority was dead within him, and he no
longer had a reason for living. Terrible situation! to be moved. To be
made of granite, and doubt! To be the statue of punishment cast all of
one piece in the mould of the law, and suddenly to perceive that you
have under your bronze bosom something absurd and disobedient, which
almost resembles a heart! To have requited good for good, though you
have said to yourself up to this day that such good is evil! To be the
watch-dog, and fawn! To be ice, and melt! To be a pair of pincers, and
become a hand! suddenly to feel your fingers opening! To lose your
hold. Oh, what a frightful thing! The man projectile, no longer knowing
his road, and recoiling! To be obliged to confess this: infallibility
is not infallible; there may be an error in the dogma; all is not
said when a code has spoken, society is not perfect, authority is
complicated with vacillation, a crack in the immutable is possible,
judges are men, the law may be deceived, the courts may make a mistake!
To see a flaw in the immense blue window-glass of the firmament.

What was taking place in Javert was the Fampoux of a rectilinear
conscience, the overthrow of a mind, the crushing of a probity
irresistibly hurled in a straight line and breaking itself against
God. It was certainly strange that the fireman of order, the engineer
of authority, mounted on the blind iron horse, could be unsaddled by
a beam of light! That the incommutable, the direct, the correct, the
geometrical, the passive, the perfect, could bend; that there should
be for the locomotive a road to Damascus! God, ever within man, and
Himself the true conscience, refractory to the false conscience; the
spark forbidden to expire, the ray ordered to remember the sun, the
mind enjoined to recognize the true absolute when it confronts itself
with the fictitious absolute, a humanity that cannot be lost; the human
heart inadmissible,--did Javert comprehend this splendid phenomenon,
the most glorious, perhaps, of our internal prodigies? Did he penetrate
it? Did he explain it to himself? Evidently no. But under the pressure
of this incomprehensible incontestability he felt his brain cracking.
He was less transfigured than the victim of this prodigy: he endured it
with exasperation, and only saw in all this an immense difficulty of
living. It seemed to him as if henceforth his breathing was eternally
impeded. He was not accustomed to have anything unknown over his head;
hitherto everything he had above him had been to his eye a clear,
simple, limpid surface; there was nothing unknown or obscure,--nothing
but what was definite, co-ordinated, enchained, precise, exact,
circumscribed, limited, and closed. Everything foreseen, authority
was a flat surface; there was no fall in it or dizziness before it.
Javert had never seen anything unknown except below him. Irregularity,
unexpected things, the disorderly opening of the chaos, and a possible
fall over a precipice,--all this was the doing of the lower regions, of
the rebels, the wicked and the wretched. How Javert threw himself back,
and was suddenly startled by this extraordinary apparition,--a gulf
above him!

What then! the world was dismantled from top to bottom and absolutely
disconcerted! In what could men trust, when what they felt convinced of
was crumbling away! What! the flaw in the cuirass of society could be
formed by a magnanimous scoundrel! What! an honest servant of the law
could find himself caught between two crimes,--the crime of letting a
man escape and the crime of arresting him! All was not certain, then,
in the orders given by the State to the official! There could be blind
alleys in duty! What then? all this was real! Was it true that an
ex-bandit, bowed under condemnations, could draw himself up, and end
by being in the right? Was this credible? Were there, then, cases in
which the law must retire before transfigured crime, and stammer its
apologies? Yes, it was so! and Javert saw it, and Javert touched it!
And not only could he not deny it, but he had a share in it. These were
realities, and it was abominable that real facts could attain such a
deformity. If facts did their duty they would restrict themselves to
bring proofs of the law, for facts are sent by God. Was, then, anarchy
about to descend from on high? Thus, both in the exaggeration of agony
and the optical illusion of consternation, everything which might have
restricted and corrected his impression faded away, and society, the
human race, and the universe henceforth were contained for his eyes
in a simple and hideous outline. Punishment, the thing tried, the
strength due to the legislature, the decrees of sovereign courts, the
magistracy, the government, prevention and repression, official wisdom,
legal infallibility, the principle of authority, all the dogmas on
which political and civil security, the sovereignty, justice, logic
flowing from the code and public truth, were a heap of ruins, chaos. He
himself, Javert, the watcher of order, incorruptibility in the service
of the police, the trusty mastiff of society, conquered and hurled to
the ground; and on the summit of all this ruin stood a man in a green
cap, and with a glory round his brow,--such was the state of overthrow
he had reached, such the frightful vision which he had in his mind. Was
this endurable? No, it was a violent state, were there ever one, and
there were only two ways of escaping from it: one was to go resolutely
to Jean Valjean and restore to the dungeon the man of the galleys; the

Javert left the parapet, and with head erect this time walked firmly
toward the guard-room indicated by a lantern at one of the corners
of the Place du Châtelet. On reaching it he saw through the window a
policeman, and went in. The police recognize each other merely by the
way in which they push open the door of a guard-room. Javert mentioned
his name, showed his card to the sergeant, and sat down at the table
on which a candle was burning. There were also on the table a pen,
a leaden inkstand, and paper, ready for contingent reports and the
records of the night patrols. This table, always completed by a straw
chair, is an institution; it exists in all police offices; it is always
adorned with a boxwood saucer full of sawdust, and a box of red wafers,
and it is the lower stage of the official style. It is here that the
State literature commences. Javert took the pen and a sheet of paper
and began writing. This is what he wrote:--


"1. I beg M. le Préfet to cast his eyes on this.

"2. Prisoners when they return from examination at the magistrate's
office take off their shoes and remain barefoot on the slabs while they
are being searched. Some cough on re-entering prison. This entails
infirmary expenses.

"3. Tracking is good, with relays of agents at regular distances; but
on important occasions two agents at the least should not let each
other out of sight, because if for any reason one agent were to fail in
his duty, the other would watch him and take his place.

"4. There is no explanation why the special rules of the prison of the
Madelonnettes prohibit a prisoner from having a chair, even if he pay
for it.

"5. At the Madelonnettes there are only two gratings to the canteen,
which allows the canteen woman to let the prisoners touch her hand.

"6. The prisoners called 'barkers,' who call the other prisoners to the
visitors' room, demand two sous from each prisoner for crying his name
distinctly. This is a robbery.

"7. Ten sous are kept back from the pay of a prisoner working in the
weaving room for a running thread: this is an abuse on the part of the
manager, as the cloth is not the less good.

"8. It is annoying that visitors to La Force are obliged to pass
through the boys court in proceeding to the speaking-room of Sainte
Marie Égyptienne.

"9. It is certain that gendarmes are daily heard repeating, in the
court-yard of the Préfecture, the examination of prisoners by the
magistrates. For a gendarme, who ought to be consecrated, to repeat
what he has heard in the examination room is a serious breach of duty.

"10. Madame Henry is an honest woman, her canteen is very clean; but it
is wrong for a woman to hold the key of the secret cells. This is not
worthy of the Conciergerie of a great civilization."

Javert wrote these lines in his calmest and most correct handwriting,
not omitting to cross a _t_, and making the paper creak firmly beneath
his pen. Under the last line he signed,--

                            "JAVERT, _Inspector of the first class._
   "At the post of the Place du Châtelet,
    about one in the morning, June 7, 1832."

Javert dried the ink on the paper, folded it like a letter, sealed
it, wrote on the back, "Note for the Administration," left it on the
table, and quitted the guard-room. The glass door fell back after
him. He again diagonally crossed the Place du Châtelet, reached the
quay again, and went back with automatic precision to the same spot
which he had left a quarter of an hour previously; he bent down and
found himself again in the same attitude on the same parapet slab;
it seemed as if he had not stirred. The darkness was complete, for
it was the sepulchral moment which follows midnight; a ceiling of
clouds hid the stars; the houses in the Cité did not display a single
light, no one passed, all the streets and quays that could be seen
were deserted, and Nôtre Dame and the towers of the Palace of Justice
appeared lineaments of the night. A lamp reddened the edge of the quay,
and the shadows of the bridges looked ghostly one behind the other.
Rains had swelled the river. The spot where Javert was leaning was, it
will be remembered, precisely above the rapids of the Seine and that
formidable whirlpool which unrolls itself and rolls itself up again
like an endless screw. Javert stooped down and looked; all was dark,
and nothing could be distinguished. A sound of spray was audible,
but the river was invisible. At moments in this dizzy depth a flash
appeared and undulated, for water has the power, even on the darkest
night, of obtaining light, no one knows whence, and changing itself
into a lizard. The glimmer vanished and all became indistinct again.
Immensity seemed open there, and what was beneath was not water, but
the gulf. The quay-wall, abrupt, confused, mingled with the vapor,
hidden immediately, produced the effect of a precipice of infinitude.

Nothing could be seen but the hostile coldness of the water, and the
sickly smell of the damp stones could be felt. A ferocious breath rose
from this abyss; and the swelling of the river, divined rather than
perceived, the tragic muttering of the water, the mournful immensity
of the bridge arches, a possible fall into this gloomy vacuum,--all
this shadow was full of horror. Javert remained for some moments
motionless, gazing at this opening of the darkness, and considered the
invisible with an intentness which resembled attention. All at once he
took off his hat and placed it on the brink of the quay. A moment after
a tall black figure, which any belated passer-by might have taken at a
distance for a ghost, appeared standing on the parapet, stooped toward
the Seine, then drew itself up, and fell straight into the darkness.
There was a dull plash, and the shadows alone were in the secret of
this obscure form which had disappeared beneath the waters.





Some time after the events which we have just recorded, the Sieur
Boulatruelle had a lively emotion. The Sieur Boulatruelle is the
road-mender of Montfermeil of whom we have already caught a glimpse
in the dark portions of this book. Boulatruelle, it will possibly be
remembered, was a man occupied with troubled and various things. He
broke stones and plundered travellers on the highway. Road-mender and
robber, he had a dream: he believed in the treasures buried in the
forest of Montfermeil. He hoped some day to find money in the ground
at the foot of a tree, and in the mean while willingly fished for it
in the pockets of passers-by. Still, for the present he was prudent,
for he had just had a narrow escape. He was, as we know, picked up with
the other ruffians in Jondrette's garret. There is some usefulness in
a vice, for his drunkenness saved him, and it never could be cleared
up whether he were there as a robber or as a robbed man. He was set
at liberty on account of his proved intoxication on the night of the
attack, and returned to the woods. He went back to his road from Gagny
to Lagny, to break stones for the State, under surveillance, with
hanging head and very thoughtful, slightly chilled by the robbery which
had almost ruined him, but turning with all the more tenderness to the
wine which had saved him.

As for the lively emotion which he had a short time after his return
beneath the turf-roof of his road-mender's cabin, it was this:
One morning Boulatruelle, while going as usual to work and to his
lurking-place, possibly a little before daybreak, perceived among the
branches a man whose back he could alone see, but whose shape, so he
fancied, through the mist and darkness, was not entirely unknown to
him. Boulatruelle, though a drunkard, had a correct and lucid memory,
an indispensable defensive weapon for any man who is at all on bad
terms with legal order.

"Where the devil have I seen some one like that man?" he asked.

But he could give himself no reply, save that he resembled somebody
of whom he had a confused recollection. Boulatruelle, however, made
his comparisons and calculations, though he was unable to settle the
identity. This man did not belong to those parts, and bad come there
evidently afoot, as no public vehicle passed through Montfermeil at
that hour. He must have been walking all night Where did he come from?
No great distance, for he had neither haversack nor bundle. Doubtless
from Paris. Why was he in this wood? Why was lie there at such an hour?
What did he want there? Boulatruelle thought of the treasure. By dint
of racking his memory he vaguely remembered having had, several years
previously, a similar alarm on the subject of a man who might very
well be this man. While meditating he had, under the very weight of
his meditation, hung his head, a natural but not clever thing. When he
raised it again the man had disappeared in the forest and the mist.

"By the deuce!" said Boulatruelle, "I will find him again, and discover
to what parish that parishioner belongs. This walker of Patron-Minette
has a motive, and I will know it. No one must have a secret in my
forest without my being mixed up in it."

He took up his pick, which was very sharp. "Here's something," he
growled, "to search the ground and a man."

And as one thread is attached to another thread, covering the steps as
well as he could in the direction which the man must have pursued, he
began marching through the coppice. When he had gone about a hundred
yards, day, which was beginning to break, aided him. Footsteps on the
sand here and there, trampled grass, broken heather, young branches
bent into the shrubs and rising with a graceful slowness, like the
arms of a pretty woman who stretches herself on waking, gave him a
species of trail. He followed it and then lost it, and time slipped
away; he got deeper into the wood and reached a species of eminence. An
early sportsman passing at a distance along a path, and whistling the
air of Guillery, gave him the idea of climbing up a tree, and though
old, he was active. There was on the mound a very large beech, worthy
of Tityrus and Boulatruelle, and he climbed up the tree as high as
he could. The idea was a good one; for while exploring the solitude
on the side where the wood is most entangled, Boulatruelle suddenly
perceived the man, but had no sooner seen him than he lost him out of
sight again. The man entered, or rather glided, into a rather distant
clearing, masked by large trees, but which Boulatruelle knew very well,
because he had noticed near a large heap of stones a sick chestnut-tree
bandaged with a zinc plate nailed upon it. This clearing is what was
formerly called the Blaru-bottom, and the pile of stones, intended no
one knows for what purpose, which could be seen there thirty years ago,
is doubtless there still. Nothing equals the longevity of a heap of
stones, except that of a plank paling. It is there temporarily; what a
reason for lasting!

Boulatruelle, with the rapidity of joy, tumbled off the tree rather
than came down it. The lair was found, and now he had only to seize
the animal. The famous treasure he had dreamed of was probably there.
It was no small undertaking to reach the clearing by beaten paths
which make a thousand annoying windings; it would take a good quarter
of an hour. In a straight line through the wood, which is at that
spot singularly dense, very thorny, and most aggressive, it would
take half an hour at least This is what Boulatruelle was wrong in
not understanding; he believed in the straight line,--a respectable
optical illusion which has ruined many men. The wood, bristling though
it was, appeared to him the right road.

"Let us go by the Rue de Rivoli of the wolves," he said.

Boulatruelle, accustomed to crooked paths, this time committed the
error of going straight, and resolutely cast himself among the shrubs.
He had to contend with holly, nettles, hawthorns, eglantines, thistles,
and most irascible roots, and was fearfully scratched. At the bottom
of the ravine he came to a stream which he was obliged to cross, and
at last reached the Blaru clearing after forty minutes, perspiring,
wet through, blowing, and ferocious. There was no one in the clearing.
Boulatruelle hurried to the heap of stones; it was still in its place,
and had not been carried off. As for the man, he had vanished in the
forest. He had escaped. Where? In which direction? Into which clump of
trees? It were impossible to guess. And, most crushing thing of all,
there was behind the heap of stones and in front of the zinc-banded
tree a pick, forgotten or abandoned, and a hole; but the hole was empty.

"Robber!" Boulatruelle cried, shaking his fists at heaven.



Marius was for a long time neither dead nor alive. He had for several
weeks a fever accompanied by delirium, and very serious brain symptoms
caused by the shocks of the wounds in the head rather than the wounds
themselves. He repeated Cosette's name for whole nights with the
lugubrious loquacity of fever and the gloomy obstinacy of agony. The
width of certain wounds was a serious danger, for the suppuration of
wide wounds may always be absorbed into the system, and consequently
kill the patient under certain atmospheric influences; and at each
change in the weather, at the slightest storm, the physician became
anxious. "Mind that the patient suffers from no emotion," he repeated.
The dressings were complicated and difficult, for the fixing of
bandages and lint by the sparadrap had not been imagined at that
period. Nicolette expended in lint a sheet "as large as a ceiling," she
said; and it was not without difficulty that the chloruretted lotions
and nitrate of silver reached the end of the gangrene. So long as there
was danger, M. Gillenormand, broken-hearted by the bedside of his
grandson, was like Marius, neither dead nor alive.

Every day, and sometimes twice a day, a white-haired and well-dressed
gentleman,--such was the description given by the porter,--came to
inquire after the wounded man, and left a large parcel of lint for
the dressings. At length, on September 7th, four months, day by day,
from the painful night on which he had been brought home dying to his
grandfather, the physician declared that he could answer for him, and
that convalescence was setting in. Marius, however, would be obliged
to lie for two months longer on a couch, owing to the accidents
produced by the fracture of the collar-bone. There is always a last
wound like that which will not close, and eternizes the dressings, to
the great annoyance of the patient. This long illness and lengthened
convalescence, however, saved him from prosecution: in France there
is no anger, even public, which six months do not extinguish. Riots,
in the present state of society, are so much everybody's fault, that
they are followed by a certain necessity of closing the eyes. Let
us add that Gisquet's unjustifiable decree which ordered physicians
to denounce their patients having out-raged opinion, and not merely
opinion, but the king first of all, the wounded were covered and
protected by this indignation, and, with the exception of those taken
prisoners in the act of fighting, the courts-martial did not dare to
molest any one. Hence Marius was left undisturbed.

M. Gillenormand first passed through every form of agony, and then
through every form of ecstasy. Much difficulty was found in keeping
him from passing the whole night by Marius's side; he had his large
easy-chair brought to the bed, and he insisted on his daughter taking
the finest linen in the house to make compresses and bandages.
Mademoiselle Gillenormand, as a sensible and elderly lady, managed
to save the fine linen, while making her father believe that he was
obeyed. M. Gillenormand would not listen to any explanation, that for
the purpose of making lint fine linen is not so good as coarse, or
new so good as worn. He was present at all the dressings, from which
Mademoiselle Gillenormand modestly absented herself. When the dead
flesh was cut away with scissors he said, "Aïe, aïe!" Nothing was so
touching as to see him hand the wounded man a cup of broth with his
gentle senile trembling. He overwhelmed the surgeon with questions,
and did not perceive that he constantly repeated the same. On the day
when the physician informed him that Marius was out of danger he was
beside himself. He gave his porter three louis d'or, and at night, when
he went to his bed-room, danced a gavotte, making castagnettes of his
thumb and forefinger, and sang a song something like this:--

    "Jeanne est née à Fougère,
    Vrai nid d'une bergère;
    J'adore son jupon

    "Amour, tu vis en elle;
    Car c'est dans sa prunelle
    Que tu mets ton carquois,

    "Moi, je la chante, et j'aime,
    Plus que Diane même,
    Jeanne et ses dure tetons

Then he knelt on a chair, and Basque, who was watching him through the
crack of the door, felt certain that he was praying. Up to that day he
had never believed in God. At each new phase in the improvement of the
patient, which went on steadily, the grandfather was extravagant. He
performed a multitude of mechanical actions full of delight: he went up
and down stairs without knowing why. A neighbor's wife, who was very
pretty, by the way, was stupefied at receiving one morning a large
bouquet: it was M. Gillenormand who sent it to her, and her husband
got up a jealous scene. M. Gillenormand tried to draw Nicolette on his
knees: he called Marius Monsieur le Baron, and shouted, "Long live the
Republic!" Every moment he asked the medical man, "There is no danger
now, is there?" He looked at Marius with a grandmother's eyes, and
gloated over him when he slept. He no longer knew himself, no longer
took himself into account. Marius was the master of the house; there
was abdication in his joy, and he was the grandson of his grandson. In
his present state of merriment he was the most venerable of children:
through fear of wearying or annoying the convalescent he would place
himself behind him in order to smile upon him. He was satisfied,
joyous, ravished, charming and young, and his white hair added a gentle
majesty to the gay light which he had on his face. When grace is
mingled with wrinkles it is adorable; and there is a peculiar dawn in
expansive old age.

As for Marius, while letting himself be nursed and petted, he had
one fixed idea,--Cosette. Since the fever and delirium had left him
he no longer pronounced this name, and it might be supposed that he
had forgotten it; but he was silent precisely because his soul was
there. He knew not what had become of Cosette: the whole affair of the
Rue de la Chanvrerie was like a cloud in his memory; shadows almost
indistinct floated through his spirit. Éponine, Gavroche, Mabœuf,
the Thénardiers, and all his friends mournfully mingled with the smoke
of the barricade; the strange passage of M. Fauchelevent through that
blood-stained adventure produced upon him the effect of an enigma in
a tempest: he understood nothing of his own life, he knew not how or
by whom he had been saved, and no one about knew it either: all they
were able to tell him was that he had been brought there at night in
a hackney coach. Past, present, future,--all this was to him like the
mist of a vague idea; but there was in this mist one immovable point, a
clear and precise lineament, something made of granite, a resolution, a
will,--to find Cosette again. For him the idea of life was not distinct
from the idea of Cosette: he had decreed in his heart that he would
not receive one without the other, and he unalterably determined to
demand of his grandfather, of destiny, of fate, of Hades itself, the
restitution of his lost Eden.

He did not conceal the obstacles from himself. Here let us underline
one fact: he was not won or greatly affected by all the anxiety and
all the tenderness of his grandfather. In the first place he was not
in the secret of them all, and next, in his sick man's reveries,
which were perhaps still feverish, he distrusted this gentleness as a
strange and new thing intended to subdue him. He remained cold to it,
and the poor grandfather lavished his smiles in pure loss. Marius said
to himself that it was all very well so long as he did not speak and
let matters rest; but when he came to Cosette, he should find another
face, and his grandfathers real attitude would be unmasked. Then he
would be rough; a warming up of family questions, a comparison of
positions, every possible sarcasm and objection at once. Fauchelevent,
Coupelevent, fortune, poverty, wretchedness, the stone on the neck,
the future a violent resistance, and the conclusion--a refusal. Marius
stiffened himself against it beforehand. And then, in proportion as
he regained life, his old wrongs reappeared, the old ulcers of his
memory reopened, he thought again of the past. Colonel Pontmercy placed
himself once more between M. Gillenormand and him, Marius, and he said
to himself that he had no real kindness to hope for from a man who
had been so unjust and harsh to his father. And with health came back
a sort of bitterness against his grandfather, from which the old man
gently suffered. M. Gillenormand, without letting it be seen, noticed
that Marius, since he had been brought home and regained consciousness,
had never once called him father. He did not say Sir, it is true,
but he managed to say neither one nor the other, by a certain way of
turning his sentences.

A crisis was evidently approaching, and, as nearly always happens in
such cases, Marius, in order to try himself, skirmished before offering
battle; this is called feeling the ground. One morning it happened
that M. Gillenormand, alluding to a newspaper which he had come
across, spoke lightly of the Convention, and darted a Royalist epigram
at Danton, St. Just, and Robespierre. "The men of '93 were giants,"
Marius said sternly; the old man was silent, and did not utter another
syllable all the day. Marius, who had the inflexible grandfather of his
early years ever present to his mind, saw in this silence a profound
concentration of anger, augured from it an obstinate struggle, and
augmented his preparations for the contest in the most hidden corners
of his mind. He determined that in case of refusal he would tear off
his bandages, dislocate his collar-bone, expose all the wounds still
unhealed, and refuse all food. His wounds were his ammunition; he must
have Cosette or die. He awaited the favorable moment with the crafty
patience of sick persons, and the moment arrived.



One day M. Gillenormand, while his daughter was arranging the phials
and cups on the marble slab of the sideboard, leaned over Marius, and
said in his most tender accent,--

"Look you, my little Marius, in your place I would rather eat meat than
fish; a fried sole is excellent at the beginning of a convalescence;
but a good cutlet is necessary to put the patient on his legs."

Marius, whose strength had nearly quite returned, sat up, rested his
two clenched fists on his sheet, looked his grandfather in the face,
assumed a terrible air, and said,--

"That induces me to say one thing to you."

"What is it?"

"That I wish to marry."

"Foreseen," said the grandfather, bursting into a laugh.

"How foreseen?"

"Yes, foreseen. You shall have your little maid."

Marius, stupefied and dazzled, trembled in all his limbs, and M.
Gillenormand continued,--

"Yes, you shall have the pretty little dear. She comes every day in
the form of an old gentleman to ask after you. Ever since you have
been wounded she has spent her time in crying and making lint. I made
inquiries; she lives at No. 7, Rue de l'Homme Armé. Ah, there we are!
Ah, you want her, do you? Well, you shall have her. You're tricked this
time; you had made your little plot, and had said to yourself, 'I will
tell it point-blank to that grandfather, that mummy of the Regency and
the Directory, that old beau, that Dorante who has become Géronte; he
has had his frolics too, and his amourettes, and his grisettes, and
his Cosettes; he has had his fling, he has had his wings, and he has
eaten the bread of spring; he must surely remember it, we shall see.
Battle!' Ah, you take the cock-chafer by the horns; very good. I offer
you a cutlet, and you answer me, 'By the bye, I wish to marry,' By
Jupiter! Here's a transition! Ah, you made up your mind for a quarrel,
but you did not know that I was an old coward. What do you say to that?
You are done; you did not expect to find your grandfather more stupid
than yourself. You have lost the speech you intended to make me, master
lawyer, and that is annoying. Well, all the worse, rage away; I do what
you want, and that stops you, stupid! Listen! I have made my inquiries,
for I too am cunning; she is charming, she is virtuous; the Lancer does
not speak the truth, she made heaps of lint. She is a jewel; she adores
you; if you had died there would have been three of us, and her coffin
would have accompanied mine. I had the idea as soon as you were better
of planting her there by your bedside; but it is only in romances that
girls are introduced to the beds of handsome young wounded men in whom
they take an interest. That would not do, for what would your aunt say?
You were quite naked three parts of the time, sir; ask Nicolette, who
never left you for a moment, whether it were possible for a female to
be here? And then, what would the doctor have said? for a pretty girl
does not cure a fever. Well, say no more about it; it is settled and
done; take her. Such is my fury. Look you, I saw that you did not love
me, and I said, 'What can I do to make that animal love me?' I said,
'Stay, I have my little Cosette ready to hand. I will give her to him,
and then he must love me a little, or tell me the reason why.' Ah! you
believed that the old man would storm, talk big, cry no, and lift his
cane against all this dawn. Not at all. Cosette, very good; love, very
good. I ask for nothing better; take the trouble, sir, to marry; be
happy, my beloved child!"

After saying this the old man burst into sobs. He took Marius's head
and pressed it to his old bosom, and both began weeping. That is one of
the forms of supreme happiness.

"My father!" Marius exclaimed.

"Ah, you love me, then!" the old man said.

There was an ineffable moment; they were choking and could not speak.
At length the old man stammered,--

"Come! the stopper is taken out of him; he called me father."

Marius disengaged his head from his grandfather's arms, and said

"Now that I am better, father, I fancy I could see her."

"Foreseen, too; you will see her to-morrow."


"Well, what?"

"Why not to-day?"

"Well, to-day; done for to-day. You have called me father thrice, and
it's worth that. I will see about it, and she shall be brought here.
Foreseen, I tell you. That has already been put in verse, and it is
the denouement of André Chénier's elegy, the 'Jeune Malade,'--André
Chénier, who was butchered by the scound--by the giants of '93."

M. Gillenormand fancied he could see a slight frown on Marius's face,
though, truth to tell, he was not listening, as he had flown away
into ecstasy, and was thinking much more of Cosette than of 1793.
The grandfather, trembling at haying introduced André Chénier so
inopportunely, hurriedly continued,--

"Butchered is not the word. The fact is that the great revolutionary
geniuses who were not wicked, that is incontestable, who were heroes,
Pardi, found that André Chénier was slightly in their way, and they
had him guillo--that is to say, these great men on the 7th Thermidor,
in the interest of the public safety, begged André Chénier to be kind
enough to go--"

M. Gillenormand, garroted by his own sentence, could not continue.
Unable to terminate it or retract it, the old man rushed, with all the
speed which his age allowed, out of the bed-room, shut the door after
him, and purple, choking, and foaming, with his eyes out of his head,
found himself nose to nose with honest Basque, who was cleaning boots
in the anteroom. He seized Basque by the collar and furiously shouted
into his face, "By the hundred thousand Javottes of the devil, those
brigands assassinated him!"

"Whom, sir?"

"André Chénier."

"Yes, sir," said the horrified Basque,



Cosette and Marius saw each other again. We will not attempt to
describe the interview, for there are things which we must not attempt
to paint: the sun is of the number. The whole family, Basque and
Nicolette included, were assembled in Marius's chamber at the moment
when Cosette entered. She appeared in the doorway, and seemed to be
surrounded by a halo: precisely at this moment the grandfather was
going to blow his nose, but he stopped short, holding his nose in his
handkerchief and looking over it.

"Adorable!" he cried.

And then he blew a sonorous blast. Cosette was intoxicated, ravished,
startled, in heaven. She was as timid as a person can be through
happiness; she stammered, turned pale and then pink, and wished to
throw herself into Marius's arms, but dared not. She was ashamed of
loving before so many people; for the world is merciless to happy
lovers, and always remains at the very moment when they most long to
be alone. And yet they do not want these people at, all. With Cosette,
and behind her, had entered a white-haired man, serious, but still
smiling, though the smile was wandering and poignant. It was "Monsieur
Fauchelevent,"--it was Jean Valjean. He was _well-dressed_, as the
porter had said, in a new black suit and a white cravat. The porter
was a thousand leagues from recognizing in this correct citizen, this
probable notary, the frightful corpse-bearer who had arrived at the
gate on the night of June 7, ragged, filthy, hideous, and haggard,
with a mask of blood and mud on his face, supporting in his arms the
unconscious Marius; still his porter's instincts were aroused. When M.
Fauchelevent arrived with Cosette, the porter could not refrain from
confiding this aside to his wife, "I don't know why, but I fancy that I
have seen that face before." M. Fauchelevent remained standing by the
door of Marius's room, as if afraid; he held under his arm a packet
rather like an octavo volume wrapped in paper. The paper was green,
apparently from mildew.

"Has this gentleman always got books under his arm like that?"
Mademoiselle Gillenormand, who was not fond of books, asked Nicolette
in a whisper.

"Well," M. Gillenormand, who had heard her, answered in the same key,
"he is a savant; is that his fault? Monsieur Boulard, whom I knew,
never went out without a book either, and like him had always had an
old book near his heart."

Then bowing, he said in a loud voice,--

"M. Tranchelevent."

Father Gillenormand did not do it purposely, but an inattention to
proper names was an aristocratic way of his.

"Monsieur Tranchelevent, I have the honor of requesting this lady's
hand for my grandson, M. le Baron Marius Pontmercy."

Monsieur "Tranchelevent" bowed.

"All right," the grandfather said.

And turning to Marius and Cosette, with both arms extended in
benediction, he cried,--

"You have leave to adore each other."

They did not let it be said twice, and the prattling began. They talked
in a whisper, Marius reclining on his couch and Cosette standing by
his side. "Oh, Heaven!" Cosette murmured, "I see you again: it is you.
To go and fight like that! But why? It is horrible. For four months
I have been dead. Oh, how wicked it was of you to have been at that
battle! What had I done to you? I forgive you, but you will not do it
again. Just now, when they came to tell me to come to you, I thought
again that I was going to die, but it was of joy. I was so sad! I did
not take the time to dress myself, and I must look frightful; what will
your relation say at seeing me in a tumbled collar? But speak! you let
me speak all alone. We are still in the Rue de l'Homme Armé. It seems
that your shoulder was terrible, and I was told that I could have put
my hand in it, and that your flesh was as if it had been cut with
scissors. How frightful that is! I wept so that I have no eyes left. It
is strange that a person can suffer like that Your grandfather has a
very kind look. Do not disturb yourself, do not rest on your elbow like
that, or you will hurt yourself. Oh, how happy I am! So our misfortunes
are all ended! I am quite foolish. There were things I wanted to say
to you which I have quite forgotten. Do you love me still? We live in
the Rue de l'Homme Armé. There is no garden there. I made lint the
whole time; look here, sir, it is your fault, my fingers are quite

"Angel!" said Marius.

_Angel_ is the only word in the language which cannot be worn out; no
other word would resist the pitiless use which lovers make of it. Then,
as there was company present, they broke off, and did not say a word
more, contenting themselves with softly clasping hands. M. Gillenormand
turned to all the rest in the room, and cried,--

"Speak loudly, good people; make a noise, will you? Come, a little row,
hang it all! so that these children may prattle at their ease."

And going up to Marius and Cosette, he whispered to them,--

"Go on; don't put yourselves out of the way."

Aunt Gillenormand witnessed with stupor this irruption of light into
her antiquated house. This stupor had nothing aggressive about it; it
was not at all the scandalized and envious glance cast by an owl at
two ring-doves: it was the stupid eye of a poor innocent of the age of
fifty-seven; it was a spoiled life looking at that triumph, love.

"Mademoiselle Gillenormand the elder," her father said to her, "I told
you that this would happen." He remained silent for a moment, and

"Look at the happiness of others."

Then he turned to Cosette.

"How pretty she is! how pretty she is! she is a Greuze! So you are
going to have all that for yourself, scamp? Ah, my boy, you have had
a lucky escape from me; for if I were not fifteen years too old we
would fight with swords and see who should have her. There, I am in
love with you, Mademoiselle; but it is very natural, it is your right.
What a famous, charming little wedding we will have! St. Denis du
Saint-Sacrament is our parish; but I will procure a dispensation, so
that you may be married at St. Paul, for the church is better. It was
built for the Jesuits, and more coquettish. It is opposite Cardinal
Birague's fountain. The masterpiece of Jesuit architecture is at
Namur, and is called St. Loup; you should go and see that when you are
married, for it is worth the journey. Mademoiselle, I am entirely of
your opinion; I wish girls to marry, for they are made for it. There is
a certain Sainte Catharine whom I would always like to see with hair
disordered. To remain a maid is fine, but it is cold. Multiply, says
the Bible. To save the people a Joan of Arc is wanted; but to make a
people we want Mother Gigogne. So marry, my darlings; I really do not
see the use of remaining a maid. I know very well that they have a
separate chapel in church, and join the confraternity of the Virgin;
but, sapristi! a good-looking young husband, and at the end of a year a
plump bantling, who sucks at you bravely, and who has rolls of fat on
his thighs, and who clutches your bosom with his pink little paws, are
a good deal better than holding a candle at vespers and singing _Turris

The grandfather pirouetted on his nonagenarian heels, and began
speaking again, like a spring which had been wound up:--

    "Ainsi, bornant le cours de tes rêvasseries,
    Alcippe, il est donc vrai, dans peu tu te maries."

"By the bye?"

"What, father?"

"Had you not an intimate friend?"

"Yes, Courfeyrac."

"What has become of him?"

"He is dead."

"That is well."

He sat down by their side, made Cosette take a chair, and took their
four hands in his old wrinkled hands.

"This darling is exquisite! This Cosette is a masterpiece! She is a
very little girl and a very great lady. She will be only a baroness,
and that is a derogation, for she is born to be a marchioness. What
eyelashes she has! My children, drive it well into your pates that
you are on the right road. Love one another; be foolish over it, for
love is the stupidity of men and the cleverness of God. So adore one
another. Still," he added, suddenly growing sad, "what a misfortune!
More than half I possess is sunk in annuities; so long as I live it
will be all right, but when I am dead, twenty years hence, ah! my poor
children, you will not have a farthing! Your pretty white hands, Madame
la Baronne, will be wrinkled by work."

Here a serious and calm voice was heard saying:

"Mademoiselle Euphrasie Fauchelevent has six hundred thousand francs."

It was Jean Valjean's voice. He had not yet uttered a syllable; no one
seemed to remember that he was present, and he stood motionless behind
all these happy people.

"Who is the Mademoiselle Euphrasie in question?" the startled
grandfather asked.

"Myself," said Cosette.

"Six hundred thousand francs!" M. Gillenormand repeated.

"Less fourteen or fifteen thousand, perhaps," Jean Valjean said.

And he laid on the table the parcel which Aunt Gillenormand had taken
for a book. Jean Valjean himself opened the packet; it was a bundle of
bank-notes. They were turned over and counted; there were six hundred
bank-notes for a thousand francs, and one hundred and sixty-eight for
five hundred, forming a total of five hundred and eighty-four thousand

"That's a famous book," said M. Gillenormand.

"Five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs!" the aunt murmured.

"That arranges a good many things, does it not, Mademoiselle
Gillenormand the elder?" the grandfather continued. "That devil of a
Marius has found a millionnaire grisette upon the tree of dreams! Now
trust to the amourettes of young people! Students find studentesses
with six hundred thousand francs. Cherubin works better than

"Five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs!" Mademoiselle
Gillenormand repeated; "five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs!
We may as well say six hundred thousand."

As for Marius and Cosette, they were looking at each other during this
period, and hardly paid any attention to this detail.



Of course our readers have understood, and no lengthened explanation
will be required, that Jean Valjean after the Champmathieu affair was
enabled by his escape for a few days to come to Paris, and withdraw
in time from Laffitte's the sum he had gained under the name of M.
Madeleine at M.-sur-M.; and that, afraid of being recaptured, which in
fact happened to him shortly after, he buried this sum in the forest
of Montfermeil, at the spot called the Blaru bottom. This sum, six
hundred and thirty thousand francs, all in bank-notes, occupied but
little space, and was contained in a box; but in order to protect
the box from damp he placed it in an oak coffer filled with chips of
chestnut-wood. In the same coffer he placed his other treasure, the
Bishop's candlesticks. It will be remembered that he carried off these
candlesticks in his escape from M.-sur-M. The man seen on one previous
evening by Boulatruelle was Jean Valjean, and afterwards, whenever Jean
Valjean required money, he fetched it from the Blaru clearing, and
hence his absences to which we have referred. He had a pick concealed
somewhere in the shrubs, in a hiding-place known to himself alone.
When he found Marius to be convalescent, feeling that the hour was
at hand when this money might be useful, he went to fetch it; and it
was also he whom Boulatruelle saw in the wood, but this time in the
morning, and not at night. Boulatruelle inherited the pick.

The real sum was five hundred and eighty-four thousand five hundred
francs, but Jean Valjean kept back the five hundred francs for
himself. "We will see afterwards," he thought. The difference between
this sum and the six hundred and thirty thousand francs withdrawn
from Laffitte's represented the expenditure of ten years from 1823
to 1833. The five years' residence in the convent had cost only five
thousand francs. Jean Valjean placed the two silver candlesticks on
the mantel-piece, where they glistened, to the great admiration of
Toussaint. Moreover, Jean Valjean knew himself freed from Javert;
it had been stated in his presence, and he verified the fact in the
_Moniteur_ which had published it, that an Inspector of Police of the
name of Javert had been found drowned under a washer-woman's boat
between the Pont-au-change and the Pont-Neuf, and that a letter left by
this man, hitherto irreproachable and highly esteemed by his chiefs,
led to the belief in an attack of dementia and suicide. "In truth,"
thought Jean Valjean, "since he let me go when he had hold of me, he
must have been mad at that time."



All preparations were made for the marriage, and the physician, on
being consulted, declared that it might take place in February. It was
now December; and a few ravishing weeks of perfect happiness slipped
away. The least happy man was not the grandfather: he sat for a whole
quarter of an hour contemplating Cosette.

"The admirably pretty girl!" he would exclaim, "and she has so soft
and kind an air! She is the most charming creature I have ever seen in
my life. Presently she will have virtues with a violet scent. She is
one of the Graces, on my faith! A man can only live nobly with such a
creature. Marius, my lad, you are a baron, you are rich; so do not be a
pettifogger, I implore you."

Cosette and Marius had suddenly passed from the sepulchre into
paradise: the transition had not been prepared, and they would have
been stunned if they had not been dazzled.

"Do you understand anything of all this?" Marius would say to Cosette.

"No," Cosette answered; "but it seems to me as if the good God were
looking at us."

Jean Valjean did everything, smoothed everything, conciliated
everything, and rendered everything easy. He hurried toward Cosette's
happiness with as much eagerness and apparently with as much joy
as Cosette herself. As he had been Mayor, he was called to solve a
delicate problem, the secret of which he alone possessed,--the civil
status of Cosette. To tell her origin openly might have prevented the
marriage; but he got Cosette out of all the difficulties. He arranged
for her a family of dead people, a sure method of not incurring any
inquiry. Cosette was the only one left of an extinct family. Cosette
was not his daughter, but the daughter of another Fauchelevent. Two
brothers Fauchelevent had been gardeners at the convent of the Little
Picpus. They proceeded to this convent; the best testimonials and most
satisfactory character were given; for the good nuns, little suited and
but little inclined to solve questions of paternity, had never known
exactly of which of the two Fauchelevents Cosette was the daughter.
They said what was wanted, and said it zealously. An instrument was
drawn up by a notary and Cosette became by law Mademoiselle Euphrasie
Fauchelevent, and was declared an orphan both on the father's and
mother's side. Jean Valjean managed so as to be designated, under the
name of Fauchelevent, as guardian of Cosette, with M. Gillenormand as
supervising guardian. As for the five hundred and eighty-four thousand
francs, they were a legacy left to Cosette by a dead person who wished
to remain unknown. The original legacy had been five hundred and
ninety-four thousand francs, but ten thousand had been spent in the
education of Mademoiselle Euphrasie, five thousand of which had been
paid to the convent. This legacy, deposited in the hands of a third
party, was to be handed over to Cosette upon her majority, or at the
period of her marriage. All this was highly acceptable, as we see,
especially when backed up by more than half a million francs. There
were certainly a few singular points here and there, but they were not
seen, for one of the persons interested had his eyes bandaged by love,
and the others by the six hundred thousand francs.

Cosette learned that she was not the daughter of the old man whom
she had so long called father; he was only a relation, and another
Fauchelevent was her real father. At another moment this would have
grieved her, but in the ineffable hour she had now reached it was only
a slight shadow, a passing cloud; and she had so much joy that this
cloud lasted but a short time. She had Marius. The young man came; the
old man disappeared: life is so. And then, Cosette had been accustomed
for many long years to see enigmas around her; every being who has had
a mysterious childhood is ever ready for certain renunciations. Still
she continued to call Jean Valjean "father." Cosette, who was among the
angels, was enthusiastic about Father Gillenormand; it is true that
he overwhelmed her with madrigals and presents. While Jean Valjean
was constructing for Cosette an unassailable position in society, M.
Gillenormand attended to the wedding trousseau. Nothing amused him so
much as to be magnificent; and he had given Cosette a gown of Binche
guipure, which he inherited from his own grandmother. "These fashions
spring up again," he said; "antiquities are the great demand, and
the young ladies of my old days dress themselves like the old ladies
of my youth." He plundered his respectable round-bellied commodes of
Coromandel lacquer, which had not been opened for years. "Let us shrive
these dowagers," he said, "and see what they have in their paunch." He
noisily violated drawers full of the dresses of all his wives, all his
mistresses, and all his female ancestry. He lavished on Cosette Chinese
satins, damasks, lampas, painted moires, gros de Naples dresses, Indian
handkerchiefs embroidered with gold that can be washed, Genoa and
Alençon point lace, sets of old jewelry, ivory bonbon boxes adorned
with microscopic battles, laces, and ribbons. Cosette, astounded, wild
with love for Marius and with gratitude to M. Gillenormand, dreamed of
an unbounded happiness, dressed in satin and velvet. Her wedding-basket
seemed to her supported by seraphim, and her soul floated in ether
with wings of Mechlin lace. The intoxication of the lovers was only
equalled, as we stated, by the ecstasy of the grandfather, and there
was something like a flourish of trumpets in the Rue des Filles du
Calvaire. Each morning there was a new offering of _bric-à-brac_ from
the grandfather to Cosette, and all sorts of ornaments were spread out
splendidly around her. One day Marius, who not unfrequently talked
gravely through his happiness, said, with reference to some incident
which I have forgotten,--

"The men of the revolution are so great that they already possess the
prestige of centuries, like Cato and like Phocion, and each of them
seems a mémoire antique."

"Moire antique!" exclaimed the old gentleman; "thank you, Marius, that
is the very idea which I was seeking for."

And on the morrow a splendid tea-colored moire antique dress was added
to Cosette's outfit. The grandfather extracted a wisdom from this

"Love is all very well, but this is required with it. Something
useless is required in happiness; happiness is only what is absolutely
necessary, but season it, say I, with an enormous amount of
superfluity. A palace and her heart; her heart and the Louvre. Give
me my shepherdess, and try that she be a duchess. Bring me Phillis
crowned with corn-flowers, and add to her one thousand francs a year.
Open for me an endless Bucolic under a marble colonnade. I consent
to the Bucolic and also to the fairy scene in marble and gold. Dry
happiness resembles dry bread; you eat it, but you do not dine. I wish
for superfluity, for the useless, for extravagance, for that which is
of no use. I remember to to have seen in Strasburg Cathedral a clock
as tall as a three-storied house, which marked the hour, which had the
kindness to mark the hour, but did not look as if it was made for the
purpose; and which, after striking midday or midnight,--midday, the
hour of the sun, and midnight, the hour of love, or any other hour
you please,--gave you the moon and the stars, earth and sea, birds
and fishes, Phœbus and Phœbe, and a heap of things that came
out of a corner, and the twelve apostles, and the Emperor Charles V.,
and Éponine and Sabinus, and a number of little gilt men who played
the trumpet into the bargain, without counting the ravishing chimes
which it scattered in the air on every possible occasion, without your
knowing why. Is a wretched, naked clock, which only marks the hours,
worth that? I am of the opinion of the great clock of Strasburg, and
prefer it to the Black Forest cuckoo clock."

M. Gillenormand talked all sorts of nonsense about the marriage, and
all the ideas of the eighteenth century passed pell-mell into his

"You are ignorant of the art of festivals, and do not know how to get
up a day's pleasure in these times," he exclaimed. "Your nineteenth
century is soft, and is deficient in excess: it is ignorant of what
is rich and noble. In everything it is close-shorn. Your third estate
is insipid and has no color, smell, or shape. The dream of your
bourgeoises, who establish themselves, as they call it, is a pretty
boudoir freshly decorated with mahogany and calico. Make way, there!
The Sieur Grigou marries the Demoiselle Grippesou. Sumptuousness and
splendor. A louis d'or has been stuck to a wax candle. Such is the
age. I insist on flying beyond the Sarmatians. Ah, so far back as
1787 I predicted that all was lost on the day when I saw the Due de
Rohan, Prince de Léon, Duc de Chabot, Duc de Montbazon, Marquis de
Soubise, Vicomte de Thouars, Peer of France, go to Longchamps in a
_tapecul_: that bore its fruits. In this century men have a business,
gamble on the Stock Exchange, win money, and are mean. They take care
of and varnish their surface: they are carefully dressed, washed,
soaped, shaved, combed, rubbed, brushed, and cleaned externally,
irreproachable, as polished as a pebble, discreet, trim, and at the
same time,--virtue of my soul!--they have at the bottom of their
conscience dungheaps and cess-pools, at which a milkmaid who blows
her nose with her fingers would recoil. I grant the present age this
motto,--dirty cleanliness. Marius, do not be annoyed; grant me the
permission to speak, for I have been saying no harm of the people,
you see. I have my mouth full of your people, but do let me give the
bourgeoisie a pill. I tell you point-blank that at the present day
people marry, but no longer know how to marry. Ah, it is true, I regret
the gentility of the old manners; I regret it all,--that elegance, that
chivalry, that courteous and dainty manner, that rejoicing luxury which
every one possessed, the music forming part of the wedding, symphony
above and drums beating below stairs, the joyous faces seated at table,
the spicy madrigals, the songs, the fireworks, the hearty laugh, the
devil and his train, and the large ribbon bows. I regret the bride's
garter, for it is first cousin of the girdle of Venus. On what does
the siege of Troy turn? Parbleu! on Helen's garter. Why do men fight?
Why does the divine Diomedes smash on the head of Merioneus that grand
brass helmet with the ten points? Why do Achilles and Hector tickle
each other with lances? Because Helen let Paris take her garter. With
Cosette's garter Homer would write the Iliad; he would place in his
poem an old chatterer like myself, and call him Nestor. My friends, in
former times, in those amiable former times, people married learnedly:
they made a good contract and then a good merry-making. So soon as
Cujas had gone out, Gamacho came in. Hang it all! the stomach is an
agreeable beast, that demands its due, and wishes to hold its wedding
too. We supped well, and had at table a pretty neighbor without a
neckerchief, who only concealed her throat moderately. Oh, the wide
laughing mouths, and how gay people were in those days! Youth was a
bouquet, every young man finished with a branch of lilac or a posy of
roses; if he were a warrior, he was a shepherd, and if by chance he
were a captain of dragoons, he managed to call himself Florian. All
were anxious to be pretty fellows, and they wore embroidery and rouge.
A bourgeois looked like a flower, and a marquis like a precious stone.
They did not wear straps, they did not wear boots; they were flashing,
lustrous, gilt, light, dainty, and coquettish, but it did not prevent
them wearing a sword by their side; they were humming-birds with beak
and nails. It was the time of the _Indes galantes._ One of the sides of
that age was delicate, the other magnificent; and, by the vertu-choux!
people amused themselves. At the present day they are serious; the
bourgeois is miserly, the bourgeoise prudish,--your age is out of
shape. The Graces would be expelled because their dresses were cut too
low in the neck. Alas! beauty is concealed as an ugliness. Since the
revolution all wear trousers, even the ballet girls; a ballet girl
must be serious, and your rigadoons are doctrinaire. A man must be
majestic, and would feel very much annoyed at not having his chin in
his cravat. The idea of a scamp of twenty, who is about to marry, is
to resemble Monsieur Royer-Collard. And do you know what people reach
by this majesty? They are little. Learn this fact: joy is not merely
joyous, it is grand. Be gayly in love; though, hang it all! marry, when
you do marry, with fever and amazement and tumult, and a hurly-burly
of happiness. Gravity at church, if you will; but so soon as the mass
is ended, sarpejeu! you ought to make a dream whirl round your wife.
A marriage ought to be royal and chimerical, and parade its ceremony
from the Cathedral of Rheims to the Pagoda of Chante-loup. I have a
horror of a scrubby marriage. Ventre-goulette! Be in Olympus at least
upon that day. Be gods. Ah, people might be sylphs, jests and smiles,
Argyraspides, but they are scrubs! My friends, every newly-married man
ought to be Prince Aldobrandini. Take advantage of this unique moment
of life to fly into the Empyrean with the swans and the eagles, even if
you fall back to-morrow into the bourgeoisie of frogs. Do not save upon
the hymeneal rites; do not nibble at this splendor, nor split farthings
on the day when you are radiant. A wedding is not housekeeping. Oh,
if I had my way it should be a gallant affair, and violins should be
heard in the trees. Here is my programme: sky-blue and silver. I would
mingle in the fête the rustic divinities, and convene the Dryads and
the Nereids. The wedding of Amphitrite, a pink cloud, nymphs with
their hair carefully dressed and quite nude, an academician offering
quatrains to the Deess, a car drawn by marine monsters.

    'Triton trottait devant, et tirait de sa conque,
    Des sons si ravissants qu'il ravissait quiconque!'

There is a programme for a fête, or I'm no judge, sac à papier!"

While the grandfather, in the heat of his lyric effusion, was
listening to himself, Cosette and Marius were intoxicating themselves
by looking freely at each other. Aunt Gillenormand regarded all this
with her imperturbable placidity; she had, during the last five or
six months, a certain amount of emotions; Marius returned, Marius
brought back bleeding, Marius brought from a barricade, Marius dead,
then living, Marius reconciled, Marius affianced, Marius marrying a
poor girl, Marius marrying a millionnaire. The six hundred thousand
francs had been her last surprise, and then the indifference of a
leading communicant returned to her. She went regularly to her mass,
told her beads, read her euchology, whispered in one corner of the
house her _Aves_, while "I love you" was being whispered in another,
and saw Marius and Cosette vaguely like two shadows. The shadow was
herself. There is a certain state of inert asceticism in which the
mind, neutralized by torpor, and a stranger to what might be called
the business of living, does not perceive, with the exception of
earthquakes and catastrophes, any human impressions, either pleasant
or painful. "This devotion," Father Gillenormand would say to his
daughter, "resembles a cold in the head; you smell nothing of life,
neither a good odor nor a bad one." However, the six hundred thousand
francs had settled the old maid's indecision. Her father was accustomed
to take her so little into account that he had not consulted her as to
the consent to Marius's marriage. He had acted impetuously, according
to his wont, having, as a despot who had become a slave, but one
thought, that of satisfying Marius. As for the aunt, he had scarce
remembered that the aunt existed, and that she might have an opinion
of her own, and, sheep though she was, this had offended her. Somewhat
roused internally, but externally impassive, she said to herself, "My
father settles the marriage question without me, and I will settle the
question of the inheritance without him." She was rich, in fact, and
her father was not so, and it is probable that if the marriage had
been poor she would have left it poor. "All the worse for my nephew!
If he chose to marry a beggar, he may be a beggar too." But Cosette's
half a million of francs pleased the aunt and changed her feelings
with respect to the loving couple; consideration is due to six hundred
thousand francs, and it was evident that she could not do otherwise
than leave her fortune to these young people, because they no longer
required it.

It was arranged that the couple should reside at M. Gillenormand's,
and the grandfather insisted on giving them his bed-room, the finest
room in the house. "It will make me younger," he declared. "It is an
old place. I always had the idea that the wedding should take place
in my room." He furnished this room with a heap of old articles of
gallantry; he had it hung with an extraordinary fabric which he had
in the piece, and believed to be Utrecht, a gold satin ground with
velvet auriculas. "It was with that stuff," he said, "that the bed
of the Duchess d'Anville à la Rocheguyon was hung." He placed on the
mantel-piece a figure in Saxon porcelain carrying a muff on its naked
stomach. M. Gillenormand's library became the office which Marius
required; for an office, it will be borne in mind, is insisted upon by
the council of the order.



The lovers saw each other daily, and Cosette came with M. Fauchelevent.
"It is turning things topsy-turvy," said Mademoiselle Gillenormand,
"that the lady should come to the gentleman's house to have court paid
to her in that way." But Marius's convalescence had caused the adoption
of the habit, and the easy-chairs of the Rue des Filles du Calvaire,
more convenient for a _tête-à-tête_ than the straw-bottomed chairs of
the Rue de l'Homme Armé, had decided it. Marius and M. Fauchelevent
saw each other, but did not speak, and this seemed to be agreed on.
Every girl needs a chaperon, and Cosette could not have come without
M. Fauchelevent; and for Marius, M. Fauchelevent was the condition of
Cosette, and he accepted him. In discussing vaguely, and without any
precision, political matters as connected with the improvement of all,
they managed to say a little more than Yes and No. Once, on the subject
of instruction, which Marius wished to be gratuitous and obligatory,
multiplied in every form, lavished upon all like light and air, and,
in a word, respirable by the entire people, they were agreed, and
almost talked. Marius remarked on this occasion that M. Fauchelevent
spoke well, and even with a certain elevation of language, though
something was wanting. M. Fauchelevent had something less than a man
of the world, and something more. Marius, in his innermost thoughts,
surrounded with all sorts of questions this M. Fauchelevent, who was to
him simple, well-wishing, and cold. At times doubts occurred to him as
to his own recollections; he had a hole in his memory, a black spot, an
abyss dug by four months of agony. Many things were lost in it, and he
was beginning to ask himself whether it was the fact that he had seen
M. Fauchelevent, a man so serious and so calm, at the barricade.

This was, however, not the sole stupor which the appearances and
disappearances of the past had left in his mind. We must not believe
that he was delivered from all those promptings of memory which compel
us, even when happy and satisfied, to take a melancholy backward
glance. The head which does not turn to effaced horizons contains
neither thought nor love. At moments Marius buried his face in his
hands, and the tumultuous and vague past traversed the fog which he
had in his brain. He saw Mabœuf fall again, he heard Gavroche
singing under the grape-shot, and he felt on his lips the coldness of
Éponine's forehead; Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Jean Prouvaire, Combeferre,
Bossuet, Grantaire, all his friends rose before him, and then
disappeared. Were they all dreams, these dear, sorrowful, valiant,
charming, and tragic beings? Had they really existed? The riot had
robed everything in its smoke, and these great fevers have great
dreams. He questioned himself, he felt himself, and had a dizziness
from all these vanished realities. Where were they all, then? Was it
really true that everything was dead? A fall into the darkness had
carried away everything except himself; all this had disappeared as it
were behind the curtain of a theatre. There are such curtains which
drop on life, and God passes on to the next act. In himself was he
really the same man? He, poor, was rich; he, the abandoned man, had a
family; he, the desperate man, was going to marry Cosette. He seemed
to have passed through a tomb, and to have gone in black and come out
white. And in this tomb the others had remained. At certain times
all these beings of the past, returning and present, formed a circle
round him, and rendered him gloomy. Then he thought of Cosette, and
became serene again, but it required no less than this felicity to
efface this catastrophe. M. Fauchelevent had almost a place among these
vanished beings. Marius hesitated to believe that the Fauchelevent
of the barricade was the same as that Fauchelevent in flesh and bone
so gravely seated by the side of Cosette. The first was probably one
of those nightmares brought to him and carried away by his hours of
delirium. However, as their two natures were so far apart, it was
impossible for Marius to ask any question of M. Fauchelevent. The
idea had not even occurred to him; we have already indicated this
characteristic detail. Two men who have a common secret, and who, by a
sort of tacit agreement, do not exchange a syllable on the subject, are
not so rare as may be supposed. Once, however, Marius made an effort;
he turned the conversation on the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and turning to
M. Fauchelevent, he said to him,--

"Do you know that street well?"

"What street?"

"The Rue de la Chanvrerie."

"I have never heard the name of that street," M. Fauchelevent said, in
the most natural tone in the world.

The answer, which related to the name of the street, and not to the
street itself, seemed to Marius more conclusive than it really was.

"Decidedly," he thought, "I must have been dreaming. I had an
hallucination. It was some one that resembled him, and M. Fauchelevent
was not there."



The enchantment, great though it was, did not efface other thoughts
from Marius's mind. While the marriage arrangements were being made,
and the fixed period was waited for, he made some troublesome and
scrupulous retrospective researches. He owed gratitude in several
quarters; he owed it for his father, and he owed it for himself. There
was Thénardier, and there was the stranger who had brought him back to
M. Gillenormand's. Marius was anxious to find these two men again, as
he did not wish to marry, be happy, and forget them, and feared lest
these unpaid debts of honor might cast a shadow over his life, which
would henceforth be so luminous. It was impossible for him to leave
all these arrears suffering behind him, and he wished, ere he entered
joyously into the future, to obtain a receipt from the past. That
Thénardier was a villain took nothing from the fact that he had saved
Colonel Pontmercy. Thénardier was a bandit for all the world excepting
for Marius. And Marius, ignorant of the real scene on the battle-field
of Waterloo, did not know this peculiarity, that his father stood to
Thénardier in the strange situation of owing him life without owing
him gratitude. Not one of the agents whom Marius employed could find
Thénardier's trail, and the disappearance seemed complete on that side.
Mother Thénardier had died in prison before trial, and Thénardier and
his daughter Azelma, the only two left of this lamentable group, had
plunged again into the shadow. The gulf of the social unknown had
silently closed again upon these beings. No longer could be seen on
the surface that quivering, that tremor, and those obscure concentric
circles which announce that something has fallen there, and that a
grappling-iron may be thrown in.

Mother Thénardier being dead, Boulatruelle being out of the question,
Claquesous having disappeared, and the principal accused having
escaped from prison, the trial for the trap in the Gorbeau attic had
pretty nearly failed. The affair had remained rather dark, and the
assize court had been compelled to satisfy itself with two subalterns,
Panchaud, _alias_ Printanier, _alias_ Bigrenaille, and Demi-Liard,
_alias_ Deux Milliards, who had been condemned, after hearing both
parties, to ten years at the galleys. Penal servitude for life was
passed against their accomplices who had escaped; Thénardier, as
chief and promoter, was condemned to death, also in default. This
condemnation was the only thing that remained of Thénardier, casting
on this buried name its sinister gleam, like a candle by the side of a
coffin. However, this condemnation, by thrusting Thénardier back into
the lowest depths through the fear of being recaptured, added to the
dense gloom which covered this man.

As for the other, the unknown man who had saved Marius, the researches
had at first some result, and then stopped short. They succeeded in
finding again the hackney coach which had brought Marius to the Rue des
Filles du Calvaire on the night of June 6. The driver declared that on
the 6th of June, by the order of a police agent, he had stopped from
three P. M. till nightfall on the quay of the Champs Élysées, above
the opening of the Great Sewer; that at about nine in the evening the
gate of the sewer which looks upon the river-bank opened; that a man
came out, bearing on his shoulders another man, who appeared to be
dead; that the agent, who was watching at this point, had arrested the
living man and seized the dead man; that he, the coachman, had taken
"all these people" into his hackney coach; that they drove first to
the Rue des Filles du Calvaire and deposited the dead man there; that
the dead man was M. Marius, and that he, the coachman, recognized him
thoroughly, though he was alive this time; that afterwards they got
into his coach again, and a few yards from the gate of the Archives he
was ordered to stop; that he was paid in the street and discharged,
and the agent took away the other man; that he knew nothing more, and
that the night was very dark. Marius, as we said, remembered nothing.
He merely remembered that he had been seized from behind by a powerful
hand at the moment when he fell backwards from the barricade, and then
all was effaced for him. He had only regained his senses when he was at
M. Gillenormand's.

He lost himself in conjectures; he could not doubt as to his own
identity, but how was it that he, who had fallen in the Rue de la
Chanvrerie, had been picked up by the police agent on the bank of the
Seine, near the bridge of the Invalides? Some one had brought him from
the market district to the Champs Élysées, and how,--by the sewer?
Extraordinary devotion! Some one? Who? It was the man whom Marius was
seeking. Of this man, who was his saviour, he could find nothing, not
a trace, not the slightest sign. Marius, though compelled on this side
to exercise a great reserve, pushed on his inquiries as far as the
Préfecture of Police, but there the information which he obtained led
to no better result than elsewhere. The Préfecture knew less about the
matter than the driver of the hackney coach; they had no knowledge of
any arrest having taken place at the outlet of the great drain on June
6; they had received no report from the agent about this fact which, at
the Préfecture, was regarded as a fable. The invention of this fable
was attributed to the driver; for a driver anxious for drink-money
is capable of anything, even imagination. The fact, however, was
certain, and Marius could not doubt it, unless he doubted his own
identity, as we have just said. Everything in this strange enigma was
inexplicable; this man, this mysterious man, whom the driver had seen
come out of the grating of the great drain, bearing the fainting Marius
on his back, and whom the police agent caught in the act of saving
an insurgent,--what had become of him? What had become of the agent
himself? Why had this agent kept silence? Had the man succeeded in
escaping? Had be corrupted the agent? Why did this man give no sign of
life to Marius, who owed everything to him? The disinterestedness was
no less prodigious than the devotion. Why did this man not reappear?
Perhaps he was above reward, but no man is above gratitude. Was he
dead? Who was the man? What was he like? No one was able to say: the
driver replied, "The night was very dark." Basque and Nicolette in
their start had only looked at their young master, who was all bloody.
The porter, whose candle had lit up Marius's tragic arrival, had alone
remarked the man in question, and this was the description he gave of
him: "The man was frightful."

In the hope of deriving some advantage from them for his researches,
Marius kept his blood-stained clothes which he wore when he was brought
to his grandfather's. On examining the coat it was noticed that the
skirt was strangely torn, and a piece was missing. One evening Marius
was speaking in the presence of Cosette and Jean Valjean about all
this singular adventure, the countless inquiries he had made, and the
inutility of his efforts; Monsieur Fauchelevent's cold face offended
him, and he exclaimed with a vivacity which had almost the vibration of

"Yes, that man, whoever he may be, was sublime. Do you know what he
did, sir? He intervened like an archangel. He was obliged to throw
himself into the midst of the contest, carry me away, open the sewer,
drag me off, and carry me. He must have gone more than a league and
a half through frightful subterranean galleries, bent and bowed in
the darkness, in the sewer, for more than half a league, sir, with a
corpse on his back! And for what object? For the sole object of saving
that corpse; and that corpse was myself. He said to himself, 'There
is, perhaps, a gleam of life left here, and I will risk my existence
for this wretched spark!' and he did not risk his existence once, but
twenty times! And each step was a danger, and the proof is, that on
leaving the sewer he was arrested. Do you know, sir, that this man did
all that? And he had no reward to expect. What was I? An insurgent.
What was I? A conquered man. Oh! if Cosette's six thousand francs were

"They are yours," Jean Valjean interrupted.

"Well, then," Marius continued, "I would give them to find that man

Jean Valjean was silent.




FEBRUARY 16, 1833.

The night of February 16 was a blessed night, for it had above its
shadow the open sky. It was the wedding-night of Marius and Cosette.

The day had been adorable; it was not the blue festival dreamed of
by the grandfather, a fairy scene, with a confusion of cherubim and
cupids above the head of the married couple, a marriage worthy of being
represented over a door, but it had been sweet and smiling. The fashion
of marrying in 1833 was not at all as it is now. France had not yet
borrowed from England that supreme delicacy of carrying off a wife,
of flying on leaving the church, hiding one's self as if ashamed of
one's happiness, and combining the manœuvres of a bankrupt with the
ravishment of the Song of Songs. We had not yet understood how chaste,
exquisite, and decent it is to jolt one's paradise in a postchaise; to
vary the mystery with click-clacks of the whip; to select an inn bed
as the nuptial couch, and to leave behind one, at the conventional
alcove at so much per night, the most sacred recollection of life,
jumbled with the _tête-à-têtes_ of the guard of the diligence and the
chamber-maid. In the second half of the nineteenth century, in which
we now are, the mayor and his scarf, the priest and his chasuble,
the law and God, are no longer sufficient; they must be complemented
by the postilion of Lonjumeau; blue jacket with red facings and
bell buttons, a leather-bound plate, green leather breeches, oaths
to the Norman horses with their knotted tails, imitation gold lace,
oil-skin hat, heavy, dusty horses, an enormous whip, and strong boots.
France does not carry the elegance to such an extent as to shower on
the postchaise, as the English nobility do, old shoes and battered
slippers, in memory of Churchill, afterwards Marlborough or Malbrouck,
who was assailed on his wedding-day by the anger of an aunt which
brought him good luck. Shoes and slippers do not yet form part of our
nuptial celebrations; but, patience, with the spread of good taste we
shall yet come to it.

In 1833,--it is a century since then,--marriage was not performed at a
smart trot; people still supposed at that epoch, whimsically enough,
that a marriage is a private and social festival, that a patriarchal
banquet does not spoil a domestic solemnity; that gayety, even if it
be excessive, so long as it is decent, does no harm to happiness;
and finally, that it is venerable and good for the fusion of these
two destinies from which a family will issue, to begin in the house,
and that the household may have in future the nuptial chamber as a
witness; and people were so immodest as to many at home. The wedding
took place, then, according to this fashion which is now antiquated,
at M. Gillenormand's; and though this affair of marrying is so simple
and natural, the publication of the banns, drawing up the deeds, the
mayoralty, and the church always cause some complication, and they
could not be ready before February 16. Now--we note this detail for the
pure satisfaction of being exact--it happened that the 16th was Mardi
Gras. There were hesitations and scruples, especially on the part of
Aunt Gillenormand.

"A Mardi Gras!" the grandfather exclaimed; "all the better. There is a
proverb that,--

    'Mariage un Mardi gras
    N'aura point d'enfants ingrats.'

All right. Done for the 16th. Do you wish to put it off, Marius?"

"Certainly not," said the amorous youth.

"We'll marry then," said the grandfather.

The marriage, therefore, took place on the 16th, in spite of the public
gayety. It rained on that day, but there is always in the sky a little
blue patch at the service of happiness, which lovers see, even when
the rest of creation are under their umbrellas. On the previous day
Jean Valjean had handed to Marius, in the presence of M. Gillenormand,
the five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs. As the marriage took
place in the ordinary way, the deeds were very simple. Toussaint was
henceforth useless to Jean Valjean, so Cosette inherited her, and
promoted her to the rank of lady's-maid. As for Jean Valjean, a nice
room was furnished expressly for him at M. Gillenormand's, and Cosette
had said to him so irresistibly, "Father, I implore you," that she
had almost made him promise that he would come and occupy it. A few
days before that fixed for the marriage an accident happened to Jean
Valjean; he slightly injured the thumb of his right hand. It was not
serious, and he had not allowed any one to poultice it, or even see
it, not even Cosette. Still, it compelled him to wrap up his hand in
a bandage and wear his arm in a sling, and this, of course, prevented
him from signing anything. M. Gillenormand, as supervising guardian
to Cosette, took his place. We will not take the reader either to the
mayoralty or to church. Two lovers are not usually followed so far,
and we are wont to turn our back on the drama so soon as it puts a
bridegroom's bouquet in its button-hole. We will restrict ourselves to
noting an incident which, though unnoticed by the bridal party, marked
the drive from the Rue des Filles du Calvaire to St. Paul's Church.

The Rue St. Louis was being repaired at the time, and it was blocked
from the Rue du Parc Royal, hence it was impossible for the carriage to
go direct to St. Paul's. As they were obliged to change their course,
the most simple plan was to turn into the boulevard. One of the guests
drew attention to the fact that, as it was Mardi Gras, there would
be a block of vehicles. "Why so?" M. Gillenormand asked. "On account
of the masks." "Famous," said the grandfather; "we will go that way.
These young people are going to marry and see the serious side of
life, and seeing the masquerade will be a slight preparation for it."
They turned into the boulevard: the first of the wedding carriages
contained Cosette and Aunt Gillenormand, M. Gillenormand, and Jean
Valjean. Marius, still separated from his bride, according to custom,
was in the second. The nuptial procession, on turning out of the Rue
des Filles du Calvaire, joined the long file of vehicles making an
endless chain from the Madeleine to the Bastille, and from the Bastille
to the Madeleine. Masks were abundant on the boulevard: and though
it rained every now and then, Paillasse, Pantalon, and Gille were
obstinate. In the good humor of that winter of 1833 Paris had disguised
itself as Venus. We do not see a Mardi Gras like this now-a-days, for
as everything existing is a wide-spread carnival, there is no carnival
left. The sidewalks were thronged with pedestrians, and the windows
with gazers; and the terraces crowning the peristyles of the theatres
were covered with spectators. In addition to the masks, they look
at the file--peculiar to Mardi Gras as to Longchamp--of vehicles of
every description, citadines, carts, curricles, and cabs, marching in
order rigorously riveted to each other by police regulations, and, as
it were, running on rails. Any one who happens to be in one of these
vehicles is at once spectator and spectacle. Policemen standing by
the side of the boulevard kept in place these two interminable files
moving in a contrary direction, and watched that nothing should impede
the double current of these two streams, one running up, the other
down, one towards the Chaussée d'Antin, the other towards the Faubourg
St. Antoine. The escutcheoned carriages of the Peers of France and
Ambassadors held the crown of the causeway, coming and going freely;
and certain magnificent and gorgeous processions, notably the Bœuf
Gras, had the same privilege. In this Parisian gayety England clacked
his whip, for the post-chaise of Lord Seymour, at which a popular
sobriquet was hurled, passed with a great noise.

In the double file, along which Municipal Guards galloped like
watch-dogs, honest family arks, crowded with great-aunts and
grandmothers, displayed at windows healthy groups of disguised
children, Pierrots of seven and Pierrettes of six, ravishing little
creatures, feeling that they officially formed part of the public
merriment, penetrated with the dignity of their Harlequinade, and
displaying the gravity of functionaries. From time to time a block
occurred somewhere in the procession of vehicles; one or other of the
two side files stopped until the knot was untied, one impeded vehicle
sufficing to block the whole line. Then they started again. The
wedding carriages were in the file, going towards the Bastille on the
right-hand side of the boulevard. Opposite the Rue du Pont-aux-Choux
there was a stoppage, and almost at the same moment the file on the
other side proceeding towards the Madeleine stopped too. At this point
of the procession there was a carriage of masks. These carnages, or, to
speak more correctly, these cartloads of masks, are well known to the
Parisians; if they failed on Mardi Gras or at mid-Lent, people would
say, "There's something behind it. Probably we are going to have a
change of Ministry." A heap of Harlequins, Columbines, and Pantaloons
jolted above the heads of the passers-by,--all possible grotesques,
from the Turk to the savage. Hercules supporting Marquises, fish-fags
who would make Rabelais stop his ears, as well as Mænads who would make
Aristophanes look down, tow perukes, pink fleshings, three-cornered
hats, pantaloons, spectacles, cries given to the pedestrians, hands
on hips, bold postures, naked shoulders, masked faces, and unmuzzled
immodesty; a chaos of effronteries driven by a coachman in a head-dress
of flowers,--such is this institution. Greece felt the want of Thespis'
cart, and France needs Vadé's fiacre. All may be parodied, even parody.
The Saturnalia, that grimace of antique beauty, by swelling and
swelling becomes the Mardi Gras: and the Bacchanal, formerly crowned
with vine-leaves, inundated by sunshine, and displaying marble breasts
in a divine semi-nudity, is now flabby under the drenched rags of the
North, has ended by being called a chie-en-lit.

The tradition of the coaches of masks dates back to the oldest times
of the Monarchy. The accounts of Louis XI. allow the Palace steward
"twenty sous tournois for three coaches of masquerades." In our time
these noisy piles of creatures generally ride in some old coucou the
roof of which they encumber, or cover with their tumultuous group a
landau the hood of which is thrown back. There are twenty in a carriage
intended for six. You see them on the seat, on the front stool, on the
springs of the hood, and on the pole, and they even straddle across
the lamps. They are standing, lying down, or seated, cross-legged, or
with pendent legs. The women occupy the knees of the men, and this
wild pyramid is seen for a long distance over the heads of the crowd.
These vehicles form mountains of merriment in the midst of the mob,
and Collé, Panard, and Piron flow from them enriched with slang, and
the fish-fag's catechism is expectorated from above upon the people.
This fiacre, which has grown enormous through its burden, has an
air of conquest; Hubbub is in front and Hurly-burly behind. People
shout in it, sing in it, yell in it, and writhe with happiness in it;
gayety roars there, sarcasm flashes, and joviality is displayed like a
purple robe; two jades drag in it farce expanded into an apotheosis,
and it is the triumphal car of laughter,--a laughter, though, too
cynical to be frank, and in truth this laughter is suspicious. It has
a mission,--that of verifying the carnival to the Parisians. These
fish-fag vehicles, in which some strange darkness is perceptible,
cause the philosopher to reflect; there is something of the government
in them, and you lay your finger there on a curious affinity between
public men and public women. It is certainly a sorry thought, that
heaped-up turpitudes give a sum-total of gayety; that a people can be
amused by building up ignominy on opprobrium; that spying, acting as
a caryatid to prostitution, amuses the mob while affronting it; that
the crowd is pleased to see pass on four wheels this monstrous living
pile of beings, spangled rags, one half ordure, one half light, who
bark and sing; that they should clap their hands at all this shame,
and that no festival is possible for the multitude unless the police
promenade in its midst these twenty-headed hydras of joy. Most sad this
certainly is, but what is to be done? These tumbrels of beribboned and
flowered filth are insulted and pardoned by the public laughter, and
the laughter of all is the accomplice of the universal degradation.
Certain unhealthy festivals disintegrate the people and convert them
into populace; but a populace, like tyrants, requires buffoons. The
king has Roquelaure, and the people has Paillasse. Paris is the great
mad city wherever it is not the great sublime city, and the carnival
there is political. Paris, let us confess it, willingly allows infamy
to play a farce for its amusement, and only asks of its masters--when
it has masters--one thing, "paint the mud for me." Rome was of the same
humor; she loved Nero, and Nero was a Titanic débardeur.

Accident willed it, as we have just said, that one of the shapeless
groups of masked men and women collected in a vast barouche stopped
on the left of the boulevard while the wedding party stopped on the
right. The carriage in which the masks were, noticed opposite to it the
carriage in which was the bride.

"Hilloh!" said a mask, "a wedding."

"A false wedding," another retorted, "we are the true one."

And, as they were too far off to address the wedding party, and as
they also feared the interference of the police, the two masks looked
elsewhere. The whole vehicle-load of masquers had plenty of work a
moment after, for the mob began hissing it, which is the caress given
by the mob to masquerades, and the two masks who had just spoken
were obliged to face the crowd with their comrades, and found all
the missiles of the market repertory scarce sufficient to reply to
the atrocious jaw-lashing from the people. A frightful exchange of
metaphors took place between the masks and the crowd. In the mean while
two other masks in the same carriage, a Spaniard with an exaggerated
nose, an oldish look, and enormous black moustaches, and a thin and
very youthful fish-girl, wearing a half-mask, had noticed the wedding
also, and while their companions and the spectators were insulting each
other, held a conversation in a low voice. Their aside was covered
by the tumult and was lost in it. The showers had drenched the open
carriage; the February wind is not warm, and so the fish-girl while
answering the Spaniard shivered, laughed, and coughed. This was the
dialogue, which we translate from the original slang:--

"Look here."

"What is it, pa?"

"Do you see that old man?"

"What old man?"

"There, in the wedding coach, with his arm in a sling."

"Yes. Well?"

"I feel sure that I know him."


"May my neck be cut, and I never said you, thou, or I, in my life, if I
do not know that Parisian."

"To-day Paris is Pantin."

"Can you see the bride by stooping?"


"And the bridegroom?"

"There is no bridegroom in that coach."


"Unless it be the other old man."

"Come, try and get a look at the bride by stooping."

"I can't."

"No matter, that old fellow who has something the matter with his paw,
I feel certain I know him."

"And what good will it do you, your knowing him?"

"I don't know. Sometimes!"

"I don't care a curse for old fellows."

"I know him."

"Know him as much as you like."

"How the deuce is he at the wedding?"

"Why, we are there too."

"Where does the wedding come from?"

"How do I know?"


"Well, what is it?"

"You must do something."

"What is it?"

"Get out of our trap and follow that wedding."

"What to do?"

"To know where it goes and what it is. Make haste and get down; run, my
daughter, for you are young."

"I can't leave the carriage."

"Why not?"

"I am hired."

"Oh, the devil!"

"I owe the Préfecture my day's work."

"That's true."

"If I leave the carriage, the first inspector who sees me will arrest
me. You know that."

"Yes, I know it."

"To-day I am bought by Pharos" (the government).

"No matter, that old fellow bothers me."

"All old men bother you, and yet you ain't a chicken yourself."

"He is in the first carriage."

"Well, what then?"

"In the bride's carriage."

"What next?"

"So he is the father."

"How does that concern me?"

"I tell you he is the father."

"You do nothing but talk about that father."


"Well, what?"

"I can only go away masked, for I am hidden here, and no one knows I am
here. But to-morrow there will be no masks, for it is Ash Wednesday,
and I run a risk of being nailed. I shall be obliged to go back to my
hole, but you are free."

"Not quite."

"Well, more so than I am."

"Well, what then?"

"You must try to find out where that wedding party is going to."

"Going to?"


"Oh, I know."

"Where to, then?"

"To the Cadran Bleu."

"But that is not the direction."

"Well, then! to La Rapée."

"Or elsewhere."

"They can do as they like, for weddings are free."

"That is not the thing. I tell you that you must try to find out for me
what that wedding is, and where it comes from."

"Of course! that would be funny. It's so jolly easy to find out a week
after where a wedding party has gone to that passed during the Mardi
Gras. A pin in a bundle of hay. Is it possible?"

"No matter, you must try. Do you hear, Azelma?"

The two files recommenced their opposite movement on the boulevard, and
the carriage of masks lost out of sight that which contained the bride.



To realize one's dream--to whom is this granted? There must be
elections for this in heaven; we are the unconscious candidates, and
the angels vote. Cosette and Marius had been elected. Cosette, both at
the mayoralty and at church, was brilliant and touching. Toussaint,
helped by Nicolette, had dressed her. Cosette wore over a skirt of
white taffetas her dress of Binche lace, a veil of English point, a
necklace of fine pearls, and a crown of orange-flowers; all this was
white, and in this whiteness she was radiant. It was an exquisite
candor expanding and becoming transfigured in light; she looked like
a virgin on the point of becoming a goddess. Marius's fine hair was
shining and perfumed, and here and there a glimpse could be caught,
under the thick curls, of pale lines, which were the scars of the
barricade. The grandfather, superb, with head erect, amalgamating in
his toilette and manners all the elegances of the time of Barras, gave
his arm to Cosette. He took the place of Jean Valjean, who, owing to
his wound, could not give his hand to the bride. Jean Valjean, dressed
all in black, followed and smiled.

"Monsieur Fauchelevent," the grandfather said to him, "this is a
glorious day, and I vote the end of afflictions and cares. Henceforth
there must be no sorrow anywhere. By Heaven! I decree joy! misfortune
has no right to exist, and it is a disgrace for the azure of heaven
that there are unfortunate men. Evil does not come from man, who, at
the bottom, is good; but all human miseries have their capital and
central government in hell, otherwise called the Tuileries of the
devil. There, I am making demagogic remarks at present! For my part I
have no political opinions left; and all I stick to is that men should
be rich, that is to say, joyous."

When, at the end of all the ceremonies,--after pronouncing before the
mayor and before the priest every yes that is possible, after signing
the register at the municipality and in the sacristy, after exchanging
rings, after kneeling side by side under the canopy of white moire in
the smoke of the censer,--they arrived holding each other by the hand,
admired and envied by all. Marius in black, she in white, preceded by
the beadle in the colonel's epaulettes, striking the flag-stones with
his halbert, between two rows of dazzled spectators, at the church
doors which were thrown wide open, ready to get into their carriage,
--and then all was over. Cosette could not yet believe it. She looked
at Marius, she looked at the crowd, she looked at heaven; it seemed
as if she were afraid of awaking. Her astonished and anxious air
imparted something strangely enchanting to her. In returning they
both rode in the same carriage, Marius seated by Cosette's side,
and M. Gillenormand and Jean Valjean forming their vis-à-vis. Aunt
Gillenormand had fallen back a step and was in the second carriage. "My
children," the grandfather said, "you are now M. le Baron and Madame
la Baronne with thirty thousand francs a year." And Cosette, nuzzling
against Marius, caressed his ear with the angelic whisper, "It is
true, then, my name is Marius and I am Madame Thou." These two beings
were resplendent; they had reached the irrevocable and irrecoverable
moment, the dazzling point of intersection of all youth and all joy.
They realized Jean Prouvaire's line; together they did not number
forty years. It was marriage sublimated, and these two children were
two lilies. They did not see each other, but contemplated each other.
Cosette perceived Marius in a glory, and Marius perceived Cosette upon
an altar. And upon this altar, and in this glory, the two apotheoses
blending behind a cloud for Cosette and a flashing for Marius, there
was the ideal thing, the real thing, the meeting-place of kisses and of
sleep, the nuptial pillow.

All the torments they had gone through returned to them in
intoxication; it appeared to them as if the griefs, the sleeplessness,
the tears, the anguish, the terrors, and the despair, by being
converted into caresses and sunbeams, rendered more charming still the
charming hour which was approaching; and that their sorrows were so
many handmaidens who performed the toilette of joy. How good it is to
have suffered! Their misfortunes made a halo for their happiness, and
the long agony of their love ended in an ascension. There was in these
two souls the same enchantment, tinged with voluptuousness in Marius
and with modesty in Cosette. They said to each other in a whisper,
"We will go and see again our little garden in the Rue Plumet." The
folds of Cosette's dress were upon Marius. Such a day is an ineffable
blending of dream and certainty: you possess and you suppose, and you
still have time before you to divine. It is an indescribable emotion
on that day to be at midday and think of midnight. The delight of
these two hearts overflowed upon the crowd, and imparted merriment to
the passers-by. People stopped in the Rue St. Antoine, in front of
St. Paul's, to look through the carriage-window,--the orange flowers
trembling on Cosette's head. Then they returned to the Rue des Filles
du Calvaire,--home. Marius, side by side with Cosette, ascended,
triumphantly and radiantly, that staircase up which he had been
dragged in a dying state. The beggars, collected before the gate and
dividing the contents of their purses, blessed them. There were flowers
everywhere, and the house was no less fragrant than the church: after
the incense the rose. They fancied they could hear voices singing in
infinitude; they had God in their hearts; destiny appeared to them like
a ceiling of stars; they saw above their heads the flashing of the
rising sun. Marius gazed at Cosette's charming bare arm and the pink
things which could be vaguely seen through the lace of the stomacher,
and Cosette, catching Marius's glance, blushed to the white of her
eyes. A good many old friends of the Gillenormand family had been
invited, and they thronged round Cosette, outvying one another in
calling her Madame la Baronne. The officer, Théodule Gillenormand, now
captain, had come from Chartres, where he was stationed, to be present
at his cousin's marriage: Cosette did not recognize him. He, on his
side, accustomed to be thought a pretty fellow by the women, remembered
Cosette no more than any other.

"How right I was in not believing that story of the lancer!" Father
Gillenormand said to himself aside.

Cosette had never been more affectionate to Jean Valjean, and she was
in unison with Father Gillenormand; while he built up joy in aphorisms
and maxims, she exhaled love and beauty like a perfume. Happiness
wishes everybody to be happy. She found again in speaking to Jean
Valjean inflections of her voice of the time when she was a little
girl, and caressed him with a smile. A banquet had been prepared in
the dining-room; an illumination _à giorno_ is the necessary seasoning
of a great joy, and mist and darkness are not accepted by the happy.
They do not consent to be black: night, yes; darkness, no; and if
there be no sun, one must be made. The dining-room was a furnace of
gay things; in the centre, above the white glistening tables, hung a
Venetian chandelier, with all sorts of colored birds, blue, violet,
red, and green, perched among the candles; round the chandelier
were girandoles, and on the walls were mirrors with three and four
branches; glasses, crystal, plate, china, crockery, gold, and silver,
all flashed and rejoiced. The spaces between the candelabra were
filled up with bouquets, so that where there was not a light there
was a flower. In the anteroom three violins and a flute played some
of Haydn's quartettes. Jean Valjean had seated himself on a chair in
the drawing-room, behind the door, which, being thrown back, almost
concealed him. A few minutes before they sat down to table Cosette gave
him a deep courtesy, while spreading out her wedding-dress with both
hands, and with a tenderly mocking look asked him,--

"Father, are you satisfied?"

"Yes," said Jean Valjean, "I am satisfied."

"Well, then, laugh."

Jean Valjean began laughing. A few minutes later Basque came in to
announce that dinner was on the table. The guests, preceded by M.
Gillenormand, who gave his arm to Cosette, entered the dining-room, and
collected round the table in the prescribed order. There was a large
easy-chair on either side of the bride, one for M. Gillenormand, the
other for Jean Valjean. M. Gillenormand seated himself, but the other
chair remained empty. All looked round for Monsieur Fauchelevent, but
he was no longer there, and M. Gillenormand hailed Basque:

"Do you know where M. Fauchelevent is?"

"Yes, sir, I do," Basque replied. "Monsieur Fauchelevent requested
me to tell you, sir, that his hand pained him, and that he could not
dine with M. le Baron and Madame la Baronne. He therefore begged to be
excused, but would call to-morrow. He has just left."

This empty chair momentarily chilled the effusion of the wedding feast;
but though M. Fauchelevent was absent M. Gillenormand was there,
and the grandfather shone for two. He declared that M. Fauchelevent
acted rightly in going to bed early if he were in pain, but that it
was only a small hurt. This declaration was sufficient; besides, what
is a dark corner in such a submersion of joy? Cosette and Marius were
in one of those egotistic and blessed moments when people possess no
other faculty than that of perceiving joy; and then M. Gillenormand
had an idea, "By Jupiter! this chair is empty; come hither, Marius;
your aunt, though she has a right to it, will permit you; this chair
is for you; it is legal, and it is pretty,--Fortunatus by the side
of Fortunata." The whole of the guests applauded. Marius took Jean
Valjean's place by Cosette's side, and things were so arranged that
Cosette, who had at first been saddened by the absence of Jean Valjean,
ended by being pleased at it. From the moment when Marius was the
substitute, Cosette would not have regretted God. She placed her little
white-satin-slippered foot upon Marius's foot. When the easy-chair
was occuppied, M. Fauchelevent was effaced, and nothing was wanting.
Five minutes later all the guests were laughing from one end of the
table to the other, with all the forgetfulness of humor. At dessert M.
Gillenormand rose, with a glass of champagne in his hand, only half
full, so that the trembling of ninety-two years might not upset it, and
proposed the health of the new-married couple.

"You will not escape from two sermons," he exclaimed: "this morning
you had the curé's, and this evening you will have grandpapa's. Listen
to me, for I am going to give you some advice: Adore each other. I do
not beat round the bush, but go straight to the point; be happy. There
are no other sages in creation but the turtle-doves. Philosophers say,
Moderate your joys; but I say, Throw the bridle on the neck of your
joys. Love like fiends, be furious. The philosophers babble, and I
should like to thrust their philosophy down their throats for them. Can
we have too many perfumes, too many open rose-buds, too many singing
nightingales, too many green leaves, and too much dawn in life? Can we
love too much? Can we please one another too much? Take care, Estelle,
you are too pretty! Take care, Némorin, you are too handsome! What
jolly nonsense! Can people enchant each other, tease each other, and
charm each other too much? Can they be too loving? Can they be too
happy? Moderate your joys,--oh, stuff! Down with the philosophers, for
wisdom is jubilation. Do you jubilate? Let us jubilate; are we happy
because we are good, or are we good because we are happy? Is the Sancy
diamond called the Sancy because it belonged to Harlay de Sancy, or
because it weighs one hundred and six carats? I do not know; and life
is full of such problems: the important thing is to have the Sancy and
happiness. Let us be happy without quibbling. Let us blindly obey the
sun. What is the sun? It is love; and when I say love, I mean woman.
Ah, ah! woman is an omnipotence. Ask that demagogue, Marius, if he
is not the slave of that little she-tyrant, Cosette, and willingly
so, the coward? Woman! There is not a Robespierre who can stand; but
woman reigns. I am now only a royalist of that royalty. What is Adam?
The royalty of Eve. There is no '89 for Eve. There was the royal
sceptre surmounted by the fleur-de-lys, there was the imperial sceptre
surmounted by a globe, there was Charlemagne's sceptre of iron, and the
sceptre of Louis the Great, which was of gold. The Revolution twisted
them between its thumb and forefinger like straws. It is finished, it
is broken, it lies on the ground,--there is no sceptre left. But just
make a revolution against that little embroidered handkerchief which
smells of patchouli! I should like to see you at it. Try it. Why is it
solid? Because it is a rag. Ah! you are the nineteenth century. Well,
what then? We were the eighteenth, and were as foolish as you. Do not
suppose that you have made any tremendous change in the world because
your gallant-trusser is called cholera-morbus, and your bourrée the
cachucha. After all, woman must always be loved, and I defy you to
get out of that. These she-devils are our angels. Yes, love, woman,
and a kiss form a circle from which I defy you to issue, and for my
own part I should be very glad to enter it again. Who among you has
seen the star Venus, the great coquette of the abyss, the Celimène of
ocean, rise in infinite space, appeasing everything below her, and
looking at the waves like a woman? The ocean is a rude Alcestis; and
yet, however much he may growl, when Venus appears he is forced to
smile. That brute-beast submits, and we are all thus. Anger, tempest,
thunder-bolts, foam up to the ceiling. A woman comes upon the stage,
a star rises, and you crawl in the dust. Marius was fighting six
months ago, and is marrying to-day, and that is well done. Yes, Marius,
yes, Cosette, you are right. Exist bravely one for the other, make us
burst with rage because we cannot do the same, and idolize each other.
Take in both your beaks the little straws of felicity which lie on
the ground, and make of them a nest for life. By Jove! to love, to be
loved,--what a great miracle when a man is young! Do not suppose that
you invented it. I too have dreamed, and thought, and sighed. I too
have had a moonlit soul. Love is a child six thousand years of age, and
has a right to a long white beard. Methuselah is a baby by the side
of Cupid. Sixty centuries back man and woman got out of the scrape by
loving. The devil, who is cunning, took to hating man; but man, who is
more cunning still, took to loving woman. In this way he did himself
more good than the devil did him harm. That trick was discovered
simultaneously with the terrestrial paradise. My friends, the invention
is old, but it is brand new. Take advantage of it; be Daphnis and Chloe
while waiting till you are Baucis and Philemon. Manage so that when
you are together you may want for nothing, and that Cosette may be the
sun for Marius, and Marius the universe for Cosette. Cosette, let your
fine weather be your husband's smiles. Marius, let your wife's tears
be the rain, and mind that it never does rain in your household. You
have drawn the good number in the lottery, love in the sacrament. You
have the prize number, so keep it carefully under lock and key. Do not
squander it. Adore each other, and a fig for the rest. Believe what I
tell you, then, for it is good sense, and good sense cannot deceive. Be
to one another a religion, for each man has his own way of adoring God.
Saperlotte! the best way of adoring God is to love one's wife. I love
you! that is my catechism; and whoever loves is orthodox. The oath of
Henri IV. places sanctity between guttling and intoxication. _Ventre
Saint Gris!_ I do not belong to the religion of that oath, for woman
is forgotten in it, and that surprises me on the part of Henri IV.'s
oath. My friends, long live woman! I am old, so people say; but it is
amazing how disposed I feel to be young. I should like to go and listen
to the bagpipes in the woods. These children, who succeed in being
beautiful and satisfied, intoxicate me. I am quite willing to marry if
anybody will have me. It is impossible to imagine that God has made us
for anything else than this,--to idolize, to purr, to strut, to be a
pigeon, to be a cock, to caress our lovers from morning till night, to
admire ourselves in our little wife, to be proud, to be triumphant, and
to swell. Such is the object of life. That, without offence, is what we
thought in our time, when we were young men. Ah! vertu-bamboche! what
charming women there were in those days! what ducks! I made my ravages
among them. Then love each other. If men and women did not love, I
really do not see what use there would be in having a spring. And for
my part, I would pray the good God to lock up all the fine things he
shows us and take them back from us, and to return to his box the
flowers, the birds, and the pretty girls. My children, receive an old
man's blessing."

The evening was lively, gay, and pleasant; the sovereign good-humor
of the grandfather gave the tone to the whole festivity, and each was
regulated by this almost centenary heartiness. There was a little
dancing and a good deal of laughter; it was a merry wedding, to which
that worthy old fellow "Once on a time" might have been invited;
however, he was present in the person of Father Gillenormand. There
was a tumult and then a silence; the married couple disappeared. A
little after midnight the Gillenormand mansion became a temple. Here
we stop, for an angel stands on the threshold of wedding-nights,
smiling, and with finger on lip; the mind becomes contemplative before
this sanctuary in which the celebration of love is held. There must
be rays of light above such houses, and the joy which they contain
must pass through the walls in brilliancy, and vaguely irradiate the
darkness. It is impossible for this sacred and fatal festival not to
send a celestial radiance to infinitude. Love is the sublime crucible
in which the fusion of man and woman takes place; the one being, the
triple being, the final being, the human trinity issue from it. This
birth of two souls in one must have emotion for the shadows. The lover
is the priest, and the transported virgin feels an awe. A portion of
this joy ascends to God. When there is really marriage, that is to say,
when there is love, the ideal is mingled with it, and a nuptial couch
forms in the darkness a corner of the dawn. If it was given to the
mental eye to perceive the formidable and charming visions of higher
life, it is probable that it would see the forms of night, the unknown
winged beings, the blue wayfarers of the invisible, bending down round
the luminous house, satisfied and blessing, pointing out to each other
the virgin bride, who is gently startled, and having the reflection of
human felicity on their divine countenances. If, at this supreme hour,
the pair, dazzled with pleasure, and who believe themselves alone,
were to listen, they would hear in their chamber a confused rustling
of wings, for perfect happiness implies the guarantee of angels. This
little obscure alcove has an entire heaven for its ceiling. When two
mouths, which have become sacred by love, approach each other in order
to create, it is impossible but that there is a tremor in the immense
mystery of the stars above this ineffable kiss. These felicities
are the real ones, there is no joy beyond their joys; love is the
sole ecstasy, and all the rest weeps. To love or to have loved is
sufficient; ask nothing more after that. There is no other pearl to be
found in the dark folds of life, for love is a consummation.



What had become of Jean Valjean? Directly after he had laughed in
accordance with Cosette's request, as no one was paying any attention
to him, Jean Valjean rose, and unnoticed reached the anteroom. It was
the same room which he had entered eight months previously, black
with mud and blood and gunpowder, bringing back the grandson to the
grandfather. The old panelling was garlanded with flowers and leaves,
the musicians were seated on the sofa upon which Marius had been
deposited. Basque, in black coat, knee-breeches, white cravat, and
white gloves, was placing wreaths of roses round each of the dishes
which was going to be served up. Jean Valjean showed him his arm in the
sling, requested him to explain his absence, and quitted the house.
The windows of the dining-room looked out on the street, and Valjean
stood for some minutes motionless in the obscurity of those radiant
windows. He listened, and the confused sound of the banquet reached
his ears; he heard the grandfather's loud and dictatorial voice, the
violins, the rattling of plates and glasses, the bursts of laughter,
and amid all these gay sounds he distinguished Cosette's soft, happy
voice. He left the Rue des Filles du Calvaire and returned to the
Rue de l'Homme Armé. In going home he went along the Rue St. Louis,
the Rue Culture-Sainte-Catherine, and the Blancs Manteaux; it was a
little longer, but it was the road by which he had been accustomed to
come with Cosette during the last three months, in order to avoid the
crowd and mud of the Rue Vieille du Temple. This road, which Cosette
had passed along, excluded the idea of any other itinerary for him.
Jean Valjean returned home, lit his candle, and went upstairs. The
apartments were empty; not even Toussaint was in there now. Jean
Valjean's footsteps made more noise in the rooms than usual. All the
wardrobes were open; he entered Cosette's room, and there were no
sheets on the bed. The pillow, without a case or lace, was laid on the
blankets folded at the foot of the bed, in which no one was going to
sleep again. All the small feminine articles to which Cosette clung had
been removed; only the heavy furniture and the four walls remained.
Toussaint's bed was also unmade, and the only one made which seemed to
be expecting somebody was Jean Valjean's. Jean Valjean looked at the
walls, closed some of the wardrobe drawers, and walked in and out of
the rooms. Then he returned to his own room and placed his candle on
the table; he had taken his arm out of the sling, and used it as if
he were suffering no pain in it. He went up to his bed and his eyes
fell--was it by accident or was it purposely?--on the _inseparable_
of which Cosette had been jealous, the little valise which never left
him. On June 4, when he arrived at the Rue de l'Homme Armé, he laid
it on a table; he now walked up to this table with some eagerness,
took the key out of his pocket, and opened the portmanteau. He
slowly drew out the clothes in which, ten years previously, Cosette
had left Montfermeil; first, the little black dress, then the black
handkerchief, then the stout shoes, which Cosette could almost have
worn still, so small was her foot; next the petticoat, then the apron,
and lastly, the woollen stockings. These stockings, in which the
shape of a little leg was gracefully marked, were no longer than Jean
Valjean's hand. All these articles were black, and it was he who took
them for her to Montfermeil. He laid each article on the bed as he took
it out, and he thought and remembered. It was in winter, a very cold
December; she was shivering under her rags, and her poor feet were
quite red in her wooden shoes. He, Jean Valjean, had made her take off
these rags and put on this mourning garb; the mother must have been
pleased in her tomb to see her daughter wearing mourning for her, and
above all, to see that she was well clothed and was warm. He thought
of that forest of Montfermeil, he thought what the weather was, of the
trees without leaves, of the wood without birds and the sky without
sun; but no matter, it was charming. He arranged the little clothes on
the bed, the handkerchief near the petticoat, the stockings along with
the shoes, the apron by the side of the dress, and he looked at them
one after the other. She was not much taller than that, she had her
large doll in her arms, she had put her louis d'or in the pocket of
this apron, she laughed, they walked along holding each other's hand,
and she had no one but him in the world.

Then his venerable white head fell on the bed, his old stoical heart
broke, his face was buried in Cosette's clothes, and had any one passed
upstairs at that moment he would have heard frightful sobs.



The old formidable struggle, of which we have already seen several
phases, began again. Jacob only wrestled with the angel for one night.
Alas! how many times have we seen Jean Valjean caught round the waist
in the darkness by his conscience, and struggling frantically against
it. An extraordinary struggle! At certain moments the foot slips,
at others the ground gives way. How many times had that conscience,
clinging to the right, strangled and crushed him! How many times
had inexorable truth set its foot on his chest! How many times had
he, felled by the light, cried for mercy! How many times had that
implacable light, illumined within and over him by the Bishop,
dazzled him when he wished to be blinded! How many times had he
risen again in the contest, clung to the rock, supported himself by
sophistry, and been dragged through the dust, at one moment throwing
his conscience under him, at another thrown by it! How many times,
after an equivocation, after the treacherous and specious reasoning
of egotism, had he heard his irritated conscience cry in his ears,
"Trickster! wretch!" How many times had his refractory thoughts groaned
convulsively under the evidence of duty! What secret wounds he had,
which he alone felt bleeding! What excoriations there were in his
lamentable existence! How many times had he risen, bleeding, mutilated,
crushed, enlightened, with despair in his heart and serenity in his
soul! And though vanquished, he felt himself the victor, and after
having dislocated, tortured, and broken him, his conscience, erect
before him, luminous and tranquil, would say to him,--"Now go in
peace!" What a mournful peace, alas! after issuing from such a contest.

This night, however, Jean Valjean felt that he was fighting his last
battle. A crushing question presented itself; predestinations are not
all straight; they do not develop themselves in a rectilinear avenue
before the predestined man; they have blind alleys, zigzags, awkward
corners, and perplexing cross-roads. Jean Valjean was halting at this
moment at the most dangerous of these cross-roads. He had reached the
supreme crossing of good and evil, and had that gloomy intersection
before his eyes. This time again, as had already happened in other
painful interludes, two roads presented themselves before him, one
tempting, the other terrifying; which should he take? The one which
frightened him was counselled by the mysterious pointing hand which
we all perceive every time that we fix our eyes upon the darkness.
Jean Valjean had once again a choice between the terrible haven and
the smiling snare. Is it true, then? The soul may be cured, but not
destiny. What a frightful thing,--an incurable destiny! The question
which presented itself was this: In what way was Jean Valjean going
to behave to the happiness of Cosette and Marius? That happiness he
had willed, he had made; and at this hour, in gazing upon it, he
could have the species of satisfaction which a cutler would have who
recognized his trade-mark upon a knife when he drew it all smoking
from his chest. Cosette had Marius, Marius possessed Cosette; they
possessed everything, even wealth, and it was his doing. But now that
this happiness existed and was there, how was he, Jean Valjean, to
treat it? Should he force himself upon it and treat it as if belonging
to himself? Doubtless Cosette was another man's; but should he, Jean
Valjean, retain of Cosette all that he could retain? Should he remain
the sort of father, scarce seen but respected, which he had hitherto
been? Should he introduce himself quietly into Cosette's house? Should
he carry his past to this future without saying a word? Should he
present himself there as one having a right, and should he sit down,
veiled, at this luminous hearth? Should he smilingly take the hands
of these two innocent creatures in his tragic hands? Should he place
on the andirons of the Gillenormand drawing-room his feet, which
dragged after them the degrading shadow of the law? Should he render
the obscurity on his brow and the cloud on theirs denser? Should he
join his catastrophe to their two felicities? Should he continue to be
silent? In a word, should he be the sinister dumb man of destiny by the
side of these two happy beings? We must be accustomed to fatality and
to meeting it, to raise our eyes when certain questions appear to us
in their terrible nudity. Good and evil are behind this stern note of
interrogation. What are you going to do? the Sphinx asks. This habit
of trial Jean Valjean had, and he looked at the Sphinx fixedly, and
examined the pitiless problem from all sides. Cosette, that charming
existence, was the raft of this shipwrecked man; what should he do,
cling to it, or let it go? If he clung to it, he issued from disaster,
he remounted to the sunshine, he let the bitter water drip off his
clothes and hair, he was saved and lived. Suppose he let it go? Then
there was an abyss. He thus dolorously held counsel with his thoughts,
or, to speak more correctly, he combated; he rushed furiously within
himself, at one moment against his will, at another against his
convictions. It was fortunate for Jean Valjean that he had been able
to weep, for that enlightened him, perhaps. Still, the beginning was
stern; a tempest, more furious than that which had formerly forced him
to Arras, was let loose within him. The past returned to him in the
face of the present; he compared and sobbed. Once the sluice of tears
was opened, the despairing man writhed. He felt himself arrested, alas!
in the deadly fight between one egotism and one duty. When we thus
recoil inch by inch before our ideal, wildly, obstinately, exasperated
at yielding, disputing the ground, hoping for a possible flight, and
seeking an issue, what a sudden and sinister resistance behind us is
the foot of the wall! To feel the holy shadow standing in the way! The
inexorable, invisible,--what a pressure!

Hence we have never finished with our conscience. Make up your mind,
Brutus; make up your mind, Cato. It is bottomless, for it is God. You
cast into this pit the labor of your whole life,--your fortune, your
wealth, your success, your liberty, or your country, your comfort, your
repose, your joy. More, more, more! Empty the vase, tread over the
urn, you must, end by throwing in your heart. There is a barrel like
this somewhere in the Hades of old. Is it not pardonable to refuse at
last? Can that which is inexhaustible have any claim? Are not endless
chains beyond human strength? Who then would blame Sisyphus and Jean
Valjean for saying, It is enough! The obedience of matter is limited
by friction: is there not a limit to the obedience of the soul? If
perpetual motion be impossible, why is perpetual devotion demanded?
The first step is nothing, it is the last that is difficult. What
was the Champmathieu affair by the side of Cosette's marriage? What
did it bring with it? What is returning to the hulks by the side of
entering nothingness? Oh, first step to descend, how gloomy thou art!
oh, second step, how black thou art! How could he help turning his head
away this time? Martyrdom is a sublimation, a corrosive sublimation,
it is a torture which consecrates. A man may consent to it for the
first hour; he sits on the throne of red-hot iron, the crown of red-hot
iron is placed on his head,--he accepts the red-hot globe, he takes
the red-hot sceptre, but he still has to don the mantle of flame, and
is there not a moment when the miserable flesh revolts and he flies
from the punishment? At length Jean Valjean entered the calmness of
prostration; he wished, thought over, and considered the alternations,
the mysterious balance of light and shadow. Should he force his galleys
on these two dazzling children, or consummate his own irremediable
destruction? On one side was the sacrifice of Cosette, on the other his

On which solution did he decide? What determination did he form?
What was in his inner self the definitive reply to the incorruptible
interrogatory of fatality? What door did he resolve on opening? Which
side of his life did he make up his mind to close and condemn? Amid
all those unfathomable precipices that surrounded him, which was his
choice? What extremity did he accept? To which of these gulfs did he
nod his head? His confusing reverie lasted all night; he remained till
daybreak in the same position, leaning over the bed, prostrate beneath
the enormity of fate, perhaps crushed, alas! with hands convulsed, and
arms extended at a right angle like an unnailed crucified man thrown
with his face on the ground. He remained thus for twelve hours,--the
twelve hours of a long winter's night, frozen, without raising his
head or uttering a syllable. He was motionless as a corpse, while his
thoughts rolled on the ground or fled away; sometimes like a hydra,
sometimes like the eagle. To see him thus you would have thought him
a dead man; but all at once he started convulsively, and his mouth
pressed to Cosette's clothes, kissed them; then one saw that he was

What One, since Jean Valjean was alone and nobody was there?

The One who is in the darkness.





The day after a wedding is solitary, for people respect the retirement
of the happy, and to some extent their lengthened slumbers. The
confusion of visits and congratulations does not begin again till a
later date. On the morning of Feb. 17 it was a little past midday
when Basque, with napkin and feather-brush under his arm, dusting the
anteroom, heard a low tap at the door. There had not been a ring, which
is discreet on such a day. Basque opened and saw M. Fauchelevent; he
conducted him to the drawing-room, which was still topsy-turvy, and
looked like the battle-field of the previous day's joys.

"Really, sir," observed Basque, "we woke late."

"Is your master up?" Jean Valjean asked.

"How is your hand, sir?" Basque replied.

"Better. Is your master up?"

"Which one, the old or the new?"

"Monsieur Pontmercy."

"Monsieur le Baron!" said Basque, drawing himself up.

A baron is before all a baron to his servants; a portion of it comes
to them, and they have what a philosopher would call the spray of the
title, and that flatters them. Marius, we may mention in passing,
a militant republican as he had proved, was now a baron in spite
of himself. A little revolution had taken place in the family with
reference to this title; it was M. Gillenormand who was attached to
it, and Marius who had fallen away from it. But Colonel Pontmercy had
written, "My son will bear my title," and Marius obeyed. And then
Cosette, in whom the woman was beginning to germinate, was delighted at
being a baroness.

"Monsieur le Baron?" repeated Basque; "I will go and see. I will tell
him that Monsieur Fauchelevent is here."

"No, do not tell him it is I. Tell him that some one wishes to speak to
him privately, and do not mention my name."

"Ah!" said Basque.

"I wish to surprise him."

"Ah!" Basque repeated, giving himself his second "Ah!" as an
explanation of the first.

And he left the room, and Jean Valjean remained alone. The
drawing-room, as we said, was all in disorder, and it seemed as if you
could still hear the vague sounds of the wedding. On the floor were all
sorts of flowers, which had fallen from garlands and head-dresses, and
the candles burned down to the socket added wax stalactites to the
crystal of the lustres. Not an article of furniture was in its place;
in the corner three or four easy-chairs, drawn close together, and
forming a circle, looked as if they were continuing a conversation. The
_ensemble_ was laughing, for there is a certain grace left in a dead
festival, for it has been happy. Upon those disarranged chairs, amid
those fading flowers and under those extinguished lamps, persons have
thought of joy. The sun succeeded the chandelier, and gayly entered the
drawing-room. A few moments passed, during which Jean Valjean remained
motionless at the spot where Basque left him. His eyes were hollow, and
so sunk in their sockets by sleeplessness that they almost disappeared.
His black coat displayed the fatigued creases of a coat which has been
up all night, and the elbows were white with that down which friction
with linen leaves on cloth. Jean Valjean looked at the window designed
on the floor at his feet by the sun. There was a noise at the door, and
he raised his eyes. Marius came in with head erect, laughing mouth, a
peculiar light over his face, a smooth forehead, and a flashing eye.
He, too, had not slept.

"It is you, father!" he exclaimed, on perceiving Jean Valjean; "why,
that ass Basque affected the mysterious. But you have come too early;
it is only half-past twelve, and Cosette is asleep."

That word, father, addressed to M. Fauchelevent by Marius, signified
supreme felicity. There had always been, as we know, a cliff, a
coldness and constraint between them; ice to melt or break. Marius
was so intoxicated that the cliff sank, the ice dissolved, and M.
Fauchelevent was for him, as for Cosette, a father. He continued, the
words overflowed with him, which is peculiar to these divine paroxysms
of joy,--

"How delighted I am to see you! If you only knew how we missed you
yesterday! Good-day, father. How is your hand? Better, is it not?"

And, satisfied with the favorable answer which he gave himself, he went

"We both spoke about you, for Cosette loves you so dearly. You will not
forget that you have a room here, for we will not hear a word about the
Rue de l'Homme Armé. I do not know how you were able to live in that
street, which is sick, and mean, and poor, which has a barrier at one
end, where you feel cold, and which no one can enter! You will come and
install yourself here, and from to-day, or else you will have to settle
with Cosette. She intends to lead us both by the nose, I warn you. You
have seen your room; it is close to ours, and looks out on the gardens.
We have had the lock mended; the bed is made; it is all ready, and you
have only to move in. Cosette has placed close to your bed a large old
easy-chair, of Utrecht velvet, to which she said, 'Hold out your arms
to him!' Every spring a nightingale comes to the clump of acacias which
faces your windows, and you will have it in two months. You will have
its nest on your left, and ours on your right; at night it will sing,
and by day Cosette will talk. Your room faces due south; Cosette will
arrange, your books in it; the Travels of Captain Cook, and the other,
Vancouver's Travels, and all your matters. There is, I believe, a
valise to which you are attached, and I have arranged a corner of honor
for it. You have won my grandfather, for you suit him. We will live
together. Do you know whist? You will over-whelm my grandfather if you
are acquainted with whist. You will take Cosette for a walk on the day
when I go to the Courts; you will give her your arm, as you used to do,
you remember, formerly at the Luxembourg. We are absolutely determined
to be very happy, and you will share in our happiness, do you hear,
father? By the bye, you will breakfast with us this morning?"

"Sir!" said Jean Valjean, "I have one thing to say to you. I am an

The limit of the perceptible acute sounds may be as well exceeded for
the mind as for the ear. These words, "I am an ex-convict," coming
from M. Fauchelevent's mouth and entering Marius's ear went beyond
possibility. Marius did not hear. It seemed to him as if something
had been just said to him, but he knew not what. He stood with gaping
mouth. Jean Valjean unfastened the black handkerchief that supported
his right arm, undid the linen rolled round his hand, bared his thumb,
and showed it to Marius.

"I have nothing the matter with my hand," he said.

Marius looked at the thumb.

"There was never anything the matter with it," Jean Valjean added.

There was, in fact, no sign of a wound. Jean Valjean continued,--

"It was proper that I should be absent from your marriage, and I was
so as far as I could be. I feigned this wound in order not to commit a
forgery, and render the marriage-deeds null and void."

Marius stammered,--

"What does this mean?"

"It means," Jean Valjean replied, "that I have been to the galleys."

"You are driving me mad!" said the horrified Marius.

"Monsieur Pontmercy," said Jean Valjean, "I was nineteen years at the
galleys for robbery. Then I was sentenced to them for life; for robbery
and a second offence. At the present moment I am an escaped convict."

Although Marius recoiled before the reality, refused the facts, and
resisted the evidence, he was obliged to yield to it. He was beginning
to understand, and as always happens in such a case, he understood too
much. He had the shudder of a hideous internal flash, and an idea that
made him shudder crossed his mind. He foresaw a frightful destiny for
himself in the future.

"Say all, say all," he exclaimed; "you are Cosette's father!"

And he fell back two steps, with a movement of indescribable horror.
Jean Valjean threw up his head with such a majestic attitude that he
seemed to rise to the ceiling.

"It is necessary that you should believe me here, sir, although the
oath of men like us is not taken in a court of justice---"

Here there was a silence, and then with a sort of sovereign and
sepulchral authority he added, speaking slowly and laying a stress on
the syllables,--

"You will believe me. I, Cosette's father! Before Heaven, no, Monsieur
le Baron Pontmercy. I am a peasant of Faverolles, and earned my
livelihood by pruning trees. My name is not Fauchelevent, but Jean
Valjean. I am nothing to Cosette, so reassure yourself."

Marius stammered,--

"Who proves it to me?"

"I do, since I say it."

Marius looked at this man: he was mournful and calm, and no falsehood
could issue from such calmness. What is frozen is sincere, and the
truth could be felt in this coldness of the tomb.

"I do believe you," said Marius.

Jean Valjean bowed his head, as if to note the fact, and continued,--

"What am I to Cosette? A passer-by. Ten years ago I did not know that
she existed. I love her, it is true, for men love a child which they
have seen little when old themselves; when a man is old he feels like
a grandfather to all little children. You can, I suppose, imagine that
I have something which resembles a heart. She was an orphan, without
father or mother, and needed me, and that is why I came to love her.
Children are so weak that the first comer, even a man like myself, may
be their protector. I performed this duty to Cosette. I cannot suppose
that so small a thing can be called a good action: but if it be one,
well, assume that I did it. Record that extenuating fact. To-day
Cosette leaves my life, and our two roads separate. Henceforth I can do
no more for her; she is Madame Pontmercy; her providence has changed,
and she has gained by the change, so all is well. As for the six
hundred thousand francs, you say nothing of them, but I will meet your
thought half-way: they are a deposit. How was it placed in my hands?
No matter. I give up the deposit, and there is nothing more to ask of
me. I complete the restitution by stating my real name, and this too
concerns myself, for I am anxious that you should know who I am."

And Jean Valjean looked Marius in the face. All that Marius experienced
was tumultuous and incoherent, for certain blasts of the wind of
destiny produce such waves in our soul. We have all had such moments of
trouble in which everything is dispersed within us: we say the first
things that occur to us, which are not always precisely those which we
ought to say. There are sudden revelations which we cannot bear, and
which intoxicate like a potent wine. Marius was stupefied by the new
situation which appeared to him, and spoke to this man almost as if he
were angry at the avowal.

"But why," he exclaimed, "do you tell me all this? Who forces you to
do so? You might have kept your secret to yourself. You are neither
denounced, nor pursued, nor tracked. You have a motive for making the
revelation so voluntarily. Continue; there is something else: for what
purpose do you make this confession? For what motive?"

"For what motive?" Jean Valjean answered in a voice so low and dull
that it seemed as if he were speaking to himself rather than Marius.
"For what motive, in truth, does this convict come here to say, 'I
am a convict'? Well, yes, the motive is a strange one: it is through
honesty. The misfortune is that I have a thread in my heart which holds
me fast, and it is especially when a man is old that these threads are
most solid. The whole of life is undone around, but they resist. Had I
been enabled to tear away that thread, break it, unfasten or cut the
knot, and go a long way off, I would be saved and needed only to start.
There are diligences in the Hue du Bouloy; you are happy, and I am off.
I tried to break that thread. I pulled at it, it held out, it did not
break, and I pulled out my heart with it. Then I said, I cannot live
anywhere else, and must remain. Well, yes, but you are right. I am a
fool; why not remain simply? You offer me a bed-room in the house.
Madame Pontmercy loves me dearly, she said to that fauteuil, 'Hold out
your arms to him;' your grandfather asks nothing better than to have
me. I suit him, we will live all together, have our meals in common, I
will give my arm to Cosette,--to Madame Pontmercy, forgive me, but it
is habit,--we will have only one roof, one table, one fire, the same
chimney-corner in winter, the same walk in summer: that is joy, that is
happiness, that is everything. We will live in one family."

At this word Jean Valjean became fierce. He folded his arms, looked
at the board at his feet, as if he wished to dig a pit in it, and his
voice suddenly became loud.

"In one family? No. I belong to no family; I do not belong to yours,
I do not even belong to the human family. In houses where people are
together I am in the way. There are families, but none for me; I am
the unhappy man, I am outside. Had I a father and mother? I almost
doubt it. On the day when I gave you that child in marriage, it was
all ended; I saw her happy, and that she was with the man she loved,
that there is a kind old gentleman here, a household of two angels, and
every joy in this house, and I said to myself, Do not enter. I could
lie, it is true, deceive you all, and remain Monsieur Fauchelevent; so
long as it was for her, I was able to lie, but now that it would be
for myself I ought not to do so. I only required to be silent, it is
true, and all would have gone on. You ask me what compels me to speak?
A strange sort of thing, my conscience. It would have been very easy,
however, to hold my tongue; I spent the night in trying to persuade
myself into it. You are shriving me, and what I have just told you is
so extraordinary that you have the right to do so. Well, yes, I spent
the night in giving myself reasons. I gave myself excellent reasons,
I did what I could. But there are two things in which I could not
succeed; I could neither break the string which holds me by the heart,
fixed, sealed, and riveted here, nor silence some one who speaks to me
in a low voice when I am alone. That is why I have come to confess all
to you this morning,--all, or nearly all, for it is useless to tell
what only concerns myself, and that I keep to myself. You know the
essential thing. I took my mystery, then, and brought it to you and
ripped it up before your eyes. It was not an easy resolution to form,
and I debated the point the whole night. Ah! you may fancy that I did
not say to myself that this was not the Champmathieu affair, that in
hiding my name I did no one any harm, that the name of Fauchelevent was
given me by Fauchelevent himself in gratitude for a service rendered,
and that I might fairly keep it, and that I should be happy in this
room which you offer me, that I should net be at all in the way, that
I should be in my little corner, and that while you had Cosette I
should have the idea of being in the same house with her; each would
have his proportioned happiness. Continuing to be Monsieur Fauchelevent
arranged everything. Yes, except my soul; there would be joy all over
me, but the bottom of my soul would remain black. Thus I should have
remained Monsieur Fauchelevent. I should have hidden my real face in
the presence of your happiness; I should have had an enigma, and in
the midst of your broad sunshine I should have had darkness; thus,
without crying 'Look out,' I should have introduced the hulks to your
hearth, I should have sat down at your table with the thought that if
you knew who I was you would expel me, and let myself be served by
the servants who, had they known, would have said, 'What a horror!'
I should have touched you with my elbow, which you have a right to
feel offended at, and swindled you out of shakes of the hand. There
would have been in your house a divided respect between venerable gray
hairs and branded gray hairs; in your most intimate hours, when all
hearts formed themselves to each other, when we were all four together,
the grandfather, you two, and I, there would have been a stranger
there. Hence I, a dead man, would have imposed myself on you who are
living, and I should have sentenced her for life. You, Cosette, and
I would have been three heads in the green cap! Do you not shudder?
I am only the most crushed of men, but I should have been the most
monstrous. And this crime I should have committed every day, and this
falsehood I should have told every day, and this face of night I
should have worn every day, and to you I should have given a portion
of my stain everyday,--to you, my beloved, to you, my children, to
you, my innocents! Holding one's tongue is nothing? Keeping silence is
simple? No, it is not simple, for there is a silence which lies; and
my falsehood, and my fraud, and my indignity, and my cowardice, and my
treachery, and my crime I should have drunk drop by drop; I should have
spat it out, and then drunk it again; I should have ended at midnight
and begun again at midday, and my good day would have lied, and my
good night would have lied, and I should have slept upon it, and eaten
it with my bread; and I should have looked at Cosette, and responded
to the smile of the angel with the smile of the condemned man; and I
should have been an abominable scoundrel, and for what purpose? To be
happy. I, happy! Have I the right to be happy? I am out of life, sir."

Jean Valjean stopped, and Marius listened, for such enchainments of
ideas and agonies cannot be interrupted. Jean Valjean lowered his
voice again, yet it was no longer the dull voice, but the sinister

"You ask why I speak? I am neither denounced, nor pursued, nor tracked,
you say. Yes, I am denounced! Yes, I am pursued! Yes, I am tracked!
By whom? By myself. It is I who bar my own passage, and I drag myself
along, and I push myself, and I arrest myself, and execute myself, and
when a man holds himself he is securely held."

And, seizing his own collar, and dragging it toward Marius, he

"Look at this fist. Do you not think that it holds this collar so as
not to let it go? Well, conscience is a very different hand! If you
wish to be happy, sir, you must never understand duty; for so soon
as you have understood it, it is implacable. People may say that it
punishes you for understanding it; but no, it rewards you for it, for
it places you in a hell where you feel God by your side. A man has no
sooner torn his entrails than he is at peace with himself."

And with an indescribable accent he added,--

"Monsieur Pontmercy, that has no common-sense. I am an honest man. It
is by degrading myself in your eyes that I raise myself in my own.
This has happened to me once before, but it was less painful; it was
nothing. Yes, an honest man. I should not be one if you had, through
my fault, continued to esteem me; but now that you despise me I am
so. I have this fatality upon me, that as I am never able to have any
but stolen consideration, this consideration humiliates and crushes
me internally, and in order that I may respect myself people must
despise me. Then I draw myself up. I am a galley-slave who obeys his
conscience. I know very well that this is not likely; but what would
you have me do? It is so. I have made engagements with myself and keep
them. There are meetings which bind us; there are accidents which drag
us into duty. Look you, Monsieur Pontmercy, things have happened to me
in my life."

Jean Valjean made another pause, swallowing his saliva with an effort,
as if his words had a bitter after-taste, and he continued,--

"When a man has such a horror upon him; he has no right to make others
share it unconsciously; he has no right to communicate his plague to
them; he has no right to make them slip over his precipice without
their perceiving it; he has no right to drag his red cap over them,
and no right craftily to encumber the happiness of another man with
his misery. To approach those who are healthy and touch them in the
darkness with his invisible ulcer is hideous. Fauchelevent may have
lent me his name, but I have no right to use it: he may have given it
to me, but I was unable to take it. A name is a self. Look you, sir,
I have thought a little and read a little, though I am a peasant, and
you see that I express myself properly. I explain things to myself, and
have carried out my own education. Well, yes; to abstract a name and
place one's self under it is dishonest. The letters of the alphabet
may be filched like a purse or a watch. To be a false signature in
flesh and blood, to be a living false key, to enter among honest folk
by picking their lock, never to look, but always to squint, to be
internally infamous,--no! no! no! no! It is better to suffer, bleed,
weep, tear one's flesh with one's nails, pass the nights writhing in
agony, and gnaw one's stomach and soul That is why I have come to tell
you all this,--voluntarily, as you remarked."

He breathed painfully, and uttered this last remark,--

"Formerly I stole a loaf in order to live; to-day I will not steal a
name in order to live."

"To live!" Marius interrupted; "you do not require that name to live."

"Ah! I understand myself," Jean Valjean replied, raising and drooping
his head several times in succession. There was a stillness; both
remained silent, sunk as they were in a gulf of thought. Marius was
sitting near a table, and supporting the corner of his mouth on one of
his fingers. Jean Valjean walked backwards and forwards; he stopped
before a glass and remained motionless. Then, as if answering some
internal reasoning, he said, as he looked in this glass, in which he
did not see himself,--

"While at present I am relieved."

He began walking again, and went to the other end of the room. At the
moment when he turned he perceived that Marius was watching his walk,
and he said to him, with an indescribable accent,--

"I drag my leg a little. You understand why, now."

Then he turned round full to Marius.

"And now, sir, imagine this. I have said nothing. I have remained
Monsieur Fauchelevent. I have taken my place in your house. I am one of
your family. I am in my room. I come down to breakfast in my slippers;
at night we go to the play, all three. I accompany Madame Pontmercy to
the Tuileries and to the Place Royale; we are together, and you believe
me your equal. One fine day I am here, you are there. We are talking
and laughing, and you hear a voice cry this name,--Jean Valjean! and
then that fearful hand, the police, issues from the shadow and suddenly
tears off my mask!"

He was silent again. Marius had risen with a shudder and Jean Valjean

"What do you say to that?"

Marius's silence replied, and Jean Valjean continued:---

"You see very well that I did right in not holding my tongue. Be happy,
be in heaven, be the angel of an angel, be in the sunshine and content
yourself with it, and do not trouble yourself as to the way in which
a poor condemned man opens his heart and does his duty; you have a
wretched man before you, sir."

Marius slowly crossed the room, and when he was by Jean Valjean's side
offered him his hand. But Marius was compelled to take this hand which
did not offer itself. Jean Valjean let him do so, and it seemed to
Marius that he was pressing a hand of marble.

"My grandfather has friends" said Marius. "I will obtain your pardon."

"It is useless," Jean Valjean replied; "I am supposed to be dead, and
that is sufficient. The dead are not subjected to surveillance, and are
supposed to rot quietly. Death is the same thing as pardon."

And liberating the hand which Marius held, he added with a sort of
inexorable dignity,--

"Moreover, duty, my duty, is the friend to whom I have recourse; and I
only need one pardon, that of my conscience."

At this moment the door opened gently at the other end of the
drawing-room, and Cosette's head appeared in the crevice. Only her
sweet face was visible. Her hair was in admirable confusion, and her
eyelids were still swollen with sleep. She made the movement of a bird
thrusting its head out of the nest, looked first at her husband, then
at Jean Valjean, and cried to them laughingly,--it looked like a smile
issuing from a rose,--

"I will bet that you are talking politics. How stupid that is, instead
of being with me!"

Jean Valjean started.

"Cosette," Marius stammered, and he stopped. They looked like two
culprits; Cosette, radiant, continued to look at them both, and there
were in her eyes gleams of Paradise.

"I have caught you in the act," Cosette said; "I just heard through
this, Father Fauchelevent saying, 'Conscience, doing one's duty.' That
is politics, and I will have none of it. People must not talk politics
on the very next day; it is not right."

"You are mistaken, Cosette;" Marius replied, "we are talking of
business. We are talking about the best way of investing your six
hundred thousand francs."

"I am coming," Cosette interrupted. "Do you want me here?"

And resolutely passing through the door, she entered the drawing-room.
She was dressed in a large combing gown with a thousand folds and large
sleeves, which descended from her neck to her feet. There are in the
golden skies of old Gothic paintings, these charming bags to place an
angel in. She contemplated herself from head to foot in a large mirror,
and then exclaimed with an ineffable outburst of ecstasy,--

"There was once upon a time a king and queen. Oh, how delighted I am!"

This said, she courtesied to Marius and Jean Valjean.

"Then," she said, "I am going to install myself near you in an
easy-chair; we shall breakfast in half an hour. You will say all you
like, for I know very well that gentlemen must talk, and I will be very

Marius took her by the arm and said to her lovingly,--

"We are talking about business."

"By the way," Cosette answered, "I have opened my window, and a number
of sparrows [pierrots] have just entered the garden. Birds, not masks.
To-day is Ash Wednesday, but not for the birds."

"I tell you that we are talking of business, so go, my little Cosette;
leave us for a moment. We are talking figures, and they would only
annoy you."

"You have put on a charming cravat this morning, Marius. You are very
coquettish, Monseigneur. No, they will not annoy me."

"I assure you that they will."

"No, since it is you, I shall not understand you, but I shall hear you.
When a woman hears voices she loves, she does not require to understand
the words they say. To be together is all I want, and I shall stay with

"You are my beloved Cosette! Impossible."



"Very good," Cosette remarked; "I should have told you some news. I
should have told you that grandpapa is still asleep, that your aunt is
at Mass, that the chimney of my papa Fauchelevent's room smokes, that
Nicolette has sent for the chimney-sweep, that Nicolette and Toussaint
have already quarrelled, and that Nicolette ridicules Toussaint's
stammering. Well, you shall know nothing. Ah, it is impossible? You
shall see, sir, that in my turn I shall say, 'It is impossible.' Who
will be caught then? I implore you, my little Marius, to let me stay
with you two."

"I assure you that we must be alone."

"Well, am I anybody?"

Jean Valjean did not utter a word, and Cosette turned to him.

"In the first place, father, I insist on your coming and kissing me.
What do you mean by saying nothing, instead of taking my part? Did
one ever see a father like that? That will show you how unhappy my
marriage is, for my husband beats me. Come and kiss me at once."

Jean Valjean approached her, and Cosette turned to Marius.

"I make a face at you."

Then she offered her forehead to Jean Valjean, who moved a step towards
her. All at once Cosette recoiled.

"Father, you are pale; does your arm pain you?"

"It is cured," said Jean Valjean.

"Have you slept badly?"


"Are you sad?"


"Kiss me. If you are well, if you sleep soundly, if you are happy, I
will not scold you."

And she again offered him her forehead, and Jean Valjean set a kiss on
this forehead, upon which there was a heavenly reflection.


Jean Valjean obeyed, but it was the smile of a ghost.

"Now, defend me against my husband."

"Cosette--" said Marius.

"Be angry, father, and tell him I am to remain. You can talk before
me. You must think me very foolish. What you are saying is very
astonishing, then! Business,--placing money in a bank,--that is a great
thing. Men make mysteries of nothing. I mean to say I am very pretty
this morning. Marius, look at me."

And with an adorable shrug of the shoulders and an exquisite pout
she looked at Marius. Something like a flash passed between these two
beings, and they cared little about a third party being present.

"I love you," said Marius.

"I adore you," said Cosette.

And they irresistibly fell into each other's arms.

"And now," Cosette continued, as she smoothed a crease in her
dressing-gown, with a little triumphant pout, "I remain."

"No," Marius replied imploringly, "we have something to finish."

"Again, no?"

Marius assumed a serious tone.

"I assure you, Cosette, that it is impossible."

"Ah, you are putting on your man's voice, sir; very good, I will go.
You did not support me, father; and so you, my hard husband, and you,
my dear papa, are tyrants. I shall go and tell grandpapa. If you
believe that I intend to return and talk platitudes to you, you are
mistaken. I am proud, and I intend to wait for you at present. You will
see how wearisome it will be without me. I am going, very good."

And she left the room, but two seconds after the door opened again, her
fresh, rosy face passed once again between the two folding-doors, and
she cried to them,--

"I am very angry."

The door closed again, and darkness returned. It was like a straggling
sunbeam, which, without suspecting it, had suddenly traversed the
night. Marius assured himself that the door was really closed.

"Poor Cosette!" he muttered, "when she learns--"

At these words Jean Valjean trembled all over, and he fixed his haggard
eyes on Marius.

"Cosette! Oh, yes, it is true. You will tell Cosette about it. It is
fair.--Stay, I did not think of that. A man has strength for one thing,
but not for another. I implore you, sir, I conjure you, sir, give me
your most sacred word,--do not tell her. Is it not sufficient for you
to know it? I was able to tell it of my own accord, without being
compelled. I would have told it to the universe, to the whole world,
and I should not have cared; but she,--she does not know what it is,
and it would horrify her. A convict. What! You would be obliged to
explain to her, tell her it is a man who has been to the galleys. She
saw the chain-gang once. Oh, my God!"

He sank into a chair and buried his face in his hands; it could not be
heard, but from the heaving of his shoulders it could be seen that he
was weeping. They were silent tears, terrible tears. There is a choking
in a sob; a species of convulsion seized on him, he threw himself back
in the chair, letting his arms hang, and displaying to Marius his face
bathed in tears, and Marius heard him mutter so low that his voice
seemed to come from a bottomless abyss, "Oh! I would like to die!"

"Be at your ease," Marius said; "I will keep your secret to myself."

And, less affected than perhaps he ought to have been, but compelled
for more than an hour to listen to unexpected horrors, gradually seeing
a convict taking M. Fauchelevent's place, gradually overcome by this
mournful reality, and led by the natural state of the situation to
notice the gap which bad formed between himself and this man, Marius

"It is impossible for me not to say a word about the trust money
which you have so faithfully and honestly given up. That is an act of
probity, and it is but fair that a reward should be given you; fix the
sum yourself, and it shall be paid you. Do not fear to fix it very

"I thank you, sir," Jean Valjean replied gently.

He remained pensive for a moment, mechanically passing the end of his
forefinger over his thumb-nail, and then raised his voice,--

"All is nearly finished; there is only one thing left me."

"What is it?"

Jean Valjean had a species of supreme agitation, and voicelessly,
almost breathlessly, he stammered, rather than said,--

"Now that you know, do you, sir, who are the master, believe that I
ought not to see Cosette again?"

"I believe that it would be better," Marius replied coldly.

"I will not see her again," Jean Valjean murmured. He walked toward the
door; he placed his hand upon the handle, the door opened, Jean Valjean
was going to pass out, when he suddenly closed it again, then opened
the door again and returned to Marius. He was no longer pale, but
livid, and in his eyes was a sort of tragic flame instead of tears.
His voice bad grows strangely calm again.

"Stay, sir," he said; "if you are wilting, I will come to see her,
for I assure you that I desire it greatly. If I had not longed to see
Cosette I should not have made you the confession I have done, but have
gone away; but wishing to remain at the spot where Cosette is, and
continue to see her, I was obliged to tell you everything honestly.
You follow my reasoning, do you not? It is a thing easy to understand.
Look you, I have had her with me for nine years: we lived at first in
that hovel on the boulevard, then in the convent, and then near the
Luxembourg. It was there that you saw her for the first time, and you
remember her blue plush bonnet. Next we went to the district of the
Invalides, where there were a railway and a garden, the Rue Plumet. I
lived in a little back yard where I could hear her pianoforte. Such
was my life, and we never separated. That lasted nine years and seven
months; I was like her father, and she was my child. I do not know
whether you understand me, M. Pontmercy, but it would be difficult to
go away now, see her no more, speak to her no more, and have nothing
left. If you have no objection, I will come and see Cosette every now
and then, but not too often, and I will not remain long. You can tell
them to show me into the little room on the ground-floor; I would
certainly come in by the back door, which is used by the servants, but
that might cause surprise, so it is better, I think, for me to come by
the front door. Really, sir, I should like to see Cosette a little,
but as rarely as you please. Put yourself in my place. I have only
that left. And then, again, we must be careful, and if I did not come
at all it would have a bad effect, and appear singular. For instance,
what I can do is to come in the evening, when it is beginning to grow

"You can come every evening," said Marius, "and Cosette will expect

"You are kind, sir," said Jean Valjean.

Marius bowed to Jean Valjean, happiness accompanied despair to the
door, and these two men parted.



Marius was overwhelmed; the sort of estrangement which he had ever felt
for the man with whom he saw Cosette was henceforth explained. There
was in this person something enigmatic, against which his instinct
warned him. This enigma was the most hideous of shames, the galleys.
This M. Fauchelevent was Jean Valjean the convict. To find suddenly
such a secret in the midst of his happiness is like discovering a
scorpion in a turtle-dove's nest. Was the happiness of Marius and
Cosette in future condensed to this proximity? Was it an accomplished
fact? Did the acceptance of this man form part of the consummated
marriage? Could nothing else be done? Had Marius also married the
convict? Although a man may be crowned with light and joy, though he be
enjoying the grand hour of life's purple, happy love, such shocks would
compel even the archangel in his ecstasy, even the demi-god in his
glory, to shudder.

As ever happens in sudden transformation-scenes of this nature, Marius
asked himself whether he ought not to reproach himself? Had he failed
in divination? Had he been deficient in prudence? Had he voluntarily
been headstrong? Slightly so, perhaps. Had he entered upon this
love-adventure, which resulted in his marriage with Cosette, without
taking sufficient precaution to throw light upon the surroundings? He
verified,--it is thus, by a series of verifications of ourselves on
ourselves, that life is gradually corrected,--he verified, we say,
the visionary and chimerical side of his nature, a sort of internal
cloud peculiar to many organizations, and which in the paroxysms of
passion and grief expands, as the temperature of the soul changes,
and invades the entire man to such an extent that he merely becomes a
conscience enveloped in a fog. We have more than once indicated this
characteristic element in Marius's individuality. He remembered that
during the intoxication of his love in the Rue Plumet, during those six
or seven ecstatic weeks, he had not even spoken to Cosette about the
drama in the Gorbeau hovel, during which the victim was so strangely
silent both in the struggle and eventual escape. How was it that he
had not spoken to Cosette about it, and yet it was so close and so
frightful? How was it that he had not even mentioned the Thénardiers,
and especially on the day when he met Éponine? He found almost a
difficulty in explaining to himself now his silence at that period,
but he was able to account for it. He remembered his confusion, his
intoxication for Cosette, his love absorbing everything, the carrying
off of one by the other into the ideal world, and perhaps, too, as the
imperceptible amount of reason mingled with that violent and charming
state of the mind, a vague and dull instinct to hide and efface from
his memory that formidable adventure with which he feared contact, in
which he wished to play no part, from which he stood aloof, and of
which he could not be narrator or witness without being an accuser.
Moreover, these few weeks had been a lightning flash; he had not had
time for anything except to love. In short, when all was revolved, and
everything examined, supposing that he had described the Gorbeau trap
to Cosette, had mentioned the Thénardiers to her, what would have been
the consequence, even if he had discovered that Jean Valjean was a
convict; would that have changed him, Marius, or his Cosette? Would he
have drawn back? Would he have loved her less? Would he have refused
to marry her? No. Would it have made any change in what had happened?
No. There was nothing, therefore, to regret, nothing to reproach, and
all was well. There is a God for those drunkards who are called lovers,
and Marius had blindly followed the road which he had selected with his
eyes open. Love had bandaged his eyes to lead him whither? To paradise.

But this paradise was henceforth complicated by an infernal proximity,
and the old estrangement of Marius for this man, for this Fauchelevent
who had become Jean Valjean, was at present mingled with horror; but
in this horror, let us say it, there was some pity, and even a certain
degree of surprise. This robber, this relapsed robber, had given up
a deposit, and what deposit? Six hundred thousand francs. He alone
held the secret of that deposit, he could have kept it all, but he
gave it all up. Moreover, he had revealed his situation of his own
accord, nothing compelled him to do so; and if he, Marius, knew who
he was it was through himself. There was in this confession more than
the acceptance of humiliation; there was the acceptance of peril.
For a condemned man a mask is not a mask but a shelter, and he had
renounced that shelter. A false name is a security, and he had thrown
away that false name. He, the galley-slave, could conceal himself
forever in an honest family, and he had resisted that temptation, and
for what motive? Through scruples of conscience. He had explained
himself with the irresistible accent of truth. In short, whoever this
Jean Valjean might be, his was incontestably an awakened conscience.
Some mysterious rehabilitation had been begun, and according to all
appearances scruples had been master of this man for a long time
past. Such attacks of justice and honesty are not peculiar to vulgar
natures, and an awakening of the conscience is greatness of soul.
Jean Valjean was sincere; and this sincerity, visible, palpable,
irrefragable, and evident in the grief which it caused him, rendered
his statements valuable, and gave authority to all that this man said.
Here, for Marius, was a strange inversion of situations. What issued
from M. Fauchelevent? Distrust. What was disengaged from Jean Valjean?
Confidence. In the mysterious balance-sheet of this Jean Valjean which
Marius mentally drew up, he verified the credit, he verified the debit,
and tried to arrive at a balance. But all this was as in a storm,
Marius striving to form a distinct idea of this man, and pursuing Jean
Valjean, so to speak, to the bottom of his thoughts, lost him, and
found him again in a fatal mist.

The honest restoration of the trust-money and the probity of the
confession were good, and formed as it were a break in the cloud;
but then the cloud became black again. However confused Marius's
reminiscences might be, some shadows still returned to him. What, after
all, was that adventure in the Jondrette garret? Why, on the arrival of
the police, did that man, instead of complaining, escape? Here Marius
found the answer,--because this man was a convict who had broken his
ban. Another question, Why did this man come to the barricade? For at
present Marius distinctly saw again that recollection, which reappeared
in his emotions like sympathetic ink before the fire. This man was
at the barricade and did not fight; what did he want there? Before
this question a spectre rose and gave the answer,--Javert. Marius
perfectly remembered now the mournful vision of Jean Valjean dragging
the bound Javert out of the barricade, and heard again behind the
angle of the little Mondétour Lane the frightful pistol-shot. There
was probably a hatred between this spy and this galley-slave, and
one annoyed the other. Jean Valjean went to the barricade to revenge
himself; he arrived late, and was probably aware that Javert was a
prisoner there. Corsican Vendetta has penetrated certain lower strata
of society, and is the law with them; it is so simple that it does not
astonish minds which have half returned to virtue, and their hearts
are so constituted that a criminal, when on the path of repentance,
may be scrupulous as to a robbery and not so as to a vengeance. Jean
Valjean had killed Javert, or at least that seemed evident. The last
question of all admitted of no reply, and this question Marius felt
like a pair of pincers. How was it that the existence of Jean Valjean
had so long brushed against that of Cosette? What was this gloomy sport
of Providence which had brought this man and this child in contact?
Are there chains for two forged in heaven, and does God take pleasure
in coupling the angel with the demon? A crime and an innocence can,
then, be chamber companions in the mysterious hulks of misery? In that
defile of condemned men which is called human destiny, two foreheads
may pass along side by side, one simple, the other formidable,--one
all bathed in the divine whiteness of dawn, the other eternally
branded? Who can have determined this inexplicable approximation? In
what way, in consequence of what prodigy, could a community of life
have been established between this celestial child and this condemned
old man? Who could have attached the lamb to the wolf, and even more
incomprehensible still, the wolf to the lamb? For the wolf loved the
lamb, the ferocious being adored the weak being, and for nine years
the angel had leaned on the monster for support. The childhood and
maidenhood of Cosette and her virgin growth toward life and light had
been protected by this deformed devotion. Here questions exfoliated
themselves, if we may employ the expression, into countless enigmas;
abysses opened at the bottom of abysses, and Marius could no longer
bend over Jean Valjean without feeling a dizziness: what could this
man-precipice be? The old genesiacal symbols are eternal: in human
society, such as it now exists until a greater light shall change it,
there are ever two men,--one superior, the other subterranean; the one
who holds to good is Abel, the one who holds to bad is Cain. What was
this tender Cain? What was this bandit religiously absorbed in the
adoration of a virgin, watching over her, bringing her up, guarding
her, dignifying her, and though himself impure, surrounding her with
purity? What was this cloaca which had venerated this innocence so
greatly as not to leave a spot upon it? What was this Valjean carrying
on the education of Cosette? What was this figure of darkness, whose
sole care it was to preserve from every shadow and every cloud the
rising of a star?

That was Jean Valjean's secret; that was also God's secret, and Marius
recoiled before this double secret. The one, to some extent, reassured
him about the other, for God was as visible in this adventure as was
Jean Valjean. God has his instruments, and employs whom he likes as
tool, and is not responsible to him. Do we know how God sets to work?
Jean Valjean had labored on Cosette, and had to some extent formed
her mind; that was incontestable. Well, what then? The workman was
horrible, but the work was admirable, and God produces his miracles
as he thinks proper. He had constructed that charming Cosette, and
employed Jean Valjean on the job, and it had pleased him to choose
this strange assistant. What explanation have we to ask of him? Is it
the first time that manure has helped spring to produce the rose?
Marius gave himself these answers, and declared to himself that they
were good. On all the points which we have indicated he had not dared
to press Jean Valjean, though he did not confess to himself that
he dared not. He adored Cosette, he possessed Cosette; Cosette was
splendidly pure, and that was sufficient for him. What enlightenment
did he require when Cosette was a light? Does light need illumination?
He had everything; what more could he desire? Is not everything
enough? Jean Valjean's personal affairs in no way concerned him, and
in bending down over the fatal shadow of this wretched man he clung to
his solemn declaration, "I am nothing to Cosette; ten years ago I did
not know that she existed." Jean Valjean was a passer-by; he had said
so himself. Well, then, he passed, and whoever he might be, his part
was played out. Henceforth Marius would have to perform the functions
of Providence toward Cosette; she had found again in ether her equal,
her lover, her husband, her celestial male. In flying away, Cosette,
winged and transfigured, left behind her on earth her empty and hideous
chrysalis, Jean Valjean. In whatever circle of ideas Marius might turn,
he always came back to a certain horror of Jean Valjean; a sacred
horror, perhaps, for, as we have stated, he felt a _quid divinum_ in
this man. But though it was so, and whatever extenuating circumstances
he might seek, he was always compelled to fall back on this: he was a
convict, that is to say, a being who has not even a place on the social
ladder, being beneath the lowest rung. After the last of men comes
the convict, who is no longer, so to speak, in the likeness of his
fellow-men. The law has deprived him of the entire amount of humanity
which it can strip off a man. Marius, in penal matters, democrat
though he was, was still of the inexorable system, and he entertained
all the ideas of the law about those whom the law strikes. He had not
yet made every progress, we are forced to say; he had not yet learned
to distinguish between what is written by man and what is written by
God,--between the law and the right. He had examined and weighed the
claim which man sets up to dispose of the irrevocable, the irreparable,
and the word _vindicta_ was not repulsive to him. He considered it
simple that certain breaches of the written law should be followed by
eternal penalties, and he accepted social condemnation as a civilizing
process. He was still at this point, though infallibly certain to
advance at a later date, for his nature was good, and entirely composed
of latent progress.

In this medium of ideas Jean Valjean appeared to him deformed and
repelling, for he was the punished man, the convict. This word was
to him like the sound of the trumpet of the last Judgment, and after
regarding Jean Valjean for a long time his last gesture was to turn
away his head--_vade retro._ Marius,--we must recognize the fact
and lay a stress on it,--while questioning Jean Valjean to such an
extent that Jean Valjean himself said, "You are shriving me," had not,
however, asked him two or three important questions. It was not that
they had not presented themselves to his mind, but he had been afraid
of them. The Jondrette garret? The barricade? Javert? Who knew where
the revelations might have stopped? Jean Valjean did not seem the man
to recoil, and who knows whether Marius, after urging him on, might
not have wished to check him? In certain supreme conjunctures has it
not happened to all of us that after asking a question we have stopped
our ears in order not to hear the answer? A man is specially guilty of
such an act of cowardice when he is in love. It is not wise to drive
sinister situations into a corner, especially when the indissoluble
side of our own life is fatally mixed up with them. What a frightful
light might issue from Jean Valjean's desperate explanations, and who
knows whether that hideous brightness might not have been reflected
on Cosette? Who knows whether a sort of infernal gleam might not have
remained on that angel's brow? Fatality knows such complications,
in which innocence itself is branded with crime by the fatal law of
coloring reflections, and the purest faces may retain forever the
impression of a horrible vicinity. Whether rightly or wrongly, Marius
was terrified, for he already knew too much, and he tried rather to
deafen than to enlighten himself. He wildly bore off Cosette in his
arms, closing his eyes upon Jean Valjean. This man belonged to the
night, the living and terrible night; how could he dare to seek its
foundation? It is a horrible thing to question the shadow, for who
knows what it will answer? The dawn might be eternally blackened by it.
In this state of mind it was a crushing perplexity for Marius to think
that henceforth this man would have any contact with Cosette; and he
now almost reproached himself for not having asked these formidable
questions before which he had recoiled, and from which an implacable
and definitive decision might have issued. He considered himself too
kind, too gentle, and, let us say it, too weak; and the weakness
had led him to make a fatal concession. He had allowed himself to
be affected, and had done wrong. He ought simply and purely to have
rejected Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean was an incendiary, and he ought
to have freed his house from the presence of this man. He was angry
with himself; he was angry with that whirlwind of emotions which had
deafened, blinded, and carried him away. He was dissatisfied with

What was he to do now? The visits of Jean Valjean were most deeply
repulsive to him. Of what use was it that this man should come to
his house? What did he want here? Here he refused to investigate the
matter; he refused to study, and he was unwilling to probe his own
heart. He had promised; he had allowed himself to be drawn into a
promise. Jean Valjean held that promise, and he must keep his word even
with a convict,--above all with a convict. Still, his first duty was
toward Cosette. On the whole, a repulsion, which overcame everything
else, caused him a loathing. Marius confusedly revolved all these ideas
in his mind, passing from one to the other, and shaken by all. Hence
arose a deep trouble which it was not easy to conceal from Cosette;
but love is a talent, and Marius succeeded in doing it. However, he
asked, without any apparent motive, some questions of Cosette, who was
as candid as a dove is white, and suspected nothing. He spoke to her
of her childhood and her youth, and he convinced himself more and more
that this convict had been to Cosette as good, paternal, and respectful
as a man can be. Everything which Marius had imagined and supposed, he
found to be real: this sinister nettle had loved and protected this





On the morrow, at nightfall, Jean Valjean tapped at the gateway of the
Gillenormand mansion, and it was Basque who received him. Basque was
in the yard at the appointed time, as if he had had his orders. It
sometimes happens that people say to a servant, "You will watch for Mr.
So-and-so's arrival." Basque, without waiting for Jean Valjean to come
up to him, said,--

"Monsieur le Baron has instructed me to ask you, sir, whether you wish
to go upstairs or stay down here?"

"Stay down here," Jean Valjean replied.

Basque, who, however, was perfectly respectful in his manner, opened
the door of the ground-floor room, and said, "I will go and inform
her ladyship." The room which Jean Valjean entered was a damp,
arched, basement room, employed as a cellar at times, looking out on
the street, with a flooring of red tiles, and badly lighted by an
iron-barred window. This room was not one of those which are harassed
by the broom and mop, and the dust was quiet there. No persecution of
the spiders had been organized; and a fine web, extensively drawn out,
quite black, and adorned with dead flies, formed a wheel on one of the
window-panes. The room, which was small and low-ceiled, was furnished
with a pile of empty bottles collected in a corner. The wall, covered
with a yellow-ochre wash, crumbled off in large patches; at the end was
a mantel-piece of panelled black wood, with a narrow shelf, and a fire
was lighted in it, which indicated that Jean Valjean's reply, "Stay
down here," had been calculated on. Two chairs were placed, one in each
chimney-corner, and between the chairs was spread, in guise of carpet,
an old bed-room rug, which displayed more cord than wool. The room was
illumined by the flickering of the fire, and the twilight through the
window. Jean Valjean was fatigued; for several days he had not eaten or
slept, and he fell into one of the arm-chairs. Basque returned, placed
a lighted candle on the mantelpiece, and withdrew. Jean Valjean, who
was sitting with hanging head, did not notice either Basque or the
candle, till all at once he started up, for Cosette was behind him: he
had not seen her come in, but he felt that she was doing so. He turned
round and contemplated her; she was adorably lovely. But what he gazed
at with this profound glance was not the beauty, but the soul.

"Well, father," Cosette exclaimed, "I knew that you were singular, but
I could never have expected this. What an idea! Marius told me that it
was your wish to see me here."

"Yes, it is."

"I expected that answer, and I warn you that I am going to have a scene
with you. Let us begin with the beginning: kiss me, father."

And she offered her cheek, but Jean Valjean remained motionless.

"You do not stir: I mark the fact! It is the attitude of a culprit. But
I do not care, I forgive you. Christ said, 'Offer the other cheek;'
here it is."

And she offered the other cheek, but Jean Valjean did not stir; it
seemed as if his feet were riveted to the floor.

"Things are growing serious," said Cosette. "What have I done to you? I
am offended, and you must make it up with me; you will dine with us?"

"I have dined."

"That is not true, and I will have you scolded by M. Gillenormand.
Grandfathers are made to lay down the law to fathers. Come, go with me
to the drawing-room. At once."


Cosette here lost a little ground; she ceased to order and began

"But why? And you choose the ugliest room in the house to see me in. It
is horrible here."

"You know--"

Jean Valjean broke off--

"You know, Madame, that I am peculiar, and have my fancies."

"Madame--_you_ know--more novelties; what does this all mean?"

Jean Valjean gave her that heart-broken smile to which he sometimes had

"You wished to be Madame. You are."

"Not for you, father."

"Do not call me father."


"Call me Monsieur Jean, or Jean, if you like."

"You are no longer father? I am no longer Cosette? Monsieur Jean? Why,
what does it mean? These are revolutions. What has happened? Look me in
the face, if you can. And you will not live with us! And you will not
accept our bed-room! What have I done to offend you? Oh, what have I
done? There must be something."


"In that case, then?"

"All is as usual."

"Why do you change your name?"

"You have changed yours."

He smiled the same smile again, and added,--

"Since you are Madame Pontmercy, I may fairly be Monsieur Jean."

"I do not understand anything, and all this is idiotic. I will ask my
husband's leave for you to be Monsieur Jean, and I hope that he will
not consent. You cause me great sorrow; and though you may have whims,
you have no right to make your little Cosette grieve. That is wrong,
and you have no right to be naughty, fear you are so good."

As he made no reply, she seized both his hands eagerly, and with an
irresistible movement raising them to her face she pressed them against
her neck under her chin, which is a profound sign of affection.

"Oh," she said, "be kind to me!" And she continued: "This is what I
call being kind,--to behave yourself, come and live here, for there are
birds here as in the Rue Plumet; to live with us, leave that hole in
the Rue de l'Homme Armé, give us no more riddles to guess; to be like
everybody else, dine With us, breakfast with us, and be my father."

He removed her hands,--

"You no longer want a father, as you have a husband."

Cosette broke out,--

"I no longer want a father! Things like that have no common sense, and
I really do not know what to say."

"If Toussaint were here," Jean Valjean continued, like a man seeking
authorities and who clings to every branch, "she would be the first to
allow that I have always had strange ways of my own. There is nothing
new in it, for I always loved my dark corner."

"But it is cold here, and we cannot see distinctly; and it is
abominable to wish to be Monsieur Jean; and I shall not allow you to
call me Madame."

"As I was coming along just now," Jean Valjean replied, "I saw a very
pretty piece of furniture at a cabinet-maker's in the Rue St. Louis. If
I were a pretty woman, I should treat myself to it It is a very nice
toilette table in the present fashion, made of rosewood, I think you
call it, and inlaid. There is a rather large glass with drawers, and
it is very nice."

"Hou! the ugly bear!" Cosette replied. And clenching her teeth, and
parting her lips in the most graceful way possible, she blew at Jean
Valjean; it was a grace imitating a cat.

"I am furious," she went on, "and since yesterday you have all put
me in a passion. I do not understand it at all; you do not defend me
against Marius, Marius does not take my part against you, and I am all
alone. I have a nice room prepared, and if I could have put my dear
father in it, I would have done so; but my room is left on my hands
and my lodger fails me. I order Nicolette to prepare a nice little
dinner, and--they will not touch your dinner, Madame. And my father
Fauchelevent wishes me to call him Monsieur Jean, and that I should
receive him in a frightful old, ugly, mildewed cellar, in which the
walls wear a beard, and empty bottles represent the looking-glasses,
and spiders' webs the curtains. I allow that you are a singular man,
it is your way; but a truce is accorded to newly-married folk, and you
ought not to have begun to be singular again so soon. You are going
to be very satisfied, then, in your Rue de l'Homme Armé; well, I was
very wretched there. What have I done to offend you? You cause me great
sorrow. Fie!"

And suddenly growing serious, she looked intently at Jean Valjean and

"You are angry with me for being happy; is that it?"

Simplicity sometimes penetrates unconsciously very deep, and this
question, simple for Cosette, was profound for Jean Valjean. Cosette
wished to scratch, but she tore. Jean Valjean turned pale, he remained
for a moment without answering, and then murmured with an indescribable
accent, and speaking to himself,--

"Her happiness was the object of my life, and at present God may order
my departure. Cosette, thou art happy, and my course is run."

"Ah! you said _thou_ to me," Cosette exclaimed, and leaped on his neck.

Jean Valjean wildly strained her to his heart, for he felt as if he
were almost taking her back again.

"Thank you, father," Cosette said to him.

The excitement was getting too painful for Jean Valjean; he gently
withdrew himself from Cosette's arms, and took up his hat.

"Well?" said Cosette.

Jean Valjean replied,--

"I am going to leave you, Madame, as you will be missed."

And on the threshold he added,--

"I said _thou_ to you; tell your husband that it shall not happen
again. Forgive me."

Jean Valjean left Cosette stupefied by this enigmatical leave-taking.



The next day Jean Valjean came at the same hour, and Cosette asked him
no questions, was no longer astonished, no longer exclaimed that it was
cold, no longer alluded to the drawing-room; she avoided saying either
father or Monsieur Jean. She allowed herself to be called Madame; there
was only a diminution of her delight perceptible, and she would have
been sad, had sorrow been possible. It is probable that she had held
with Marius one of those conversations in which the beloved man says
what he wishes, explains nothing, and satisfies the beloved woman; for
the curiosity of lovers does not extend far beyond their love. The
basement room had been furbished up a little; Basque had suppressed
the bottles, and Nicolette the spiders. Every following day brought
Jean Valjean back at the same hour; he came daily, as he had not the
strength to take Marius's permission otherwise than literally. Marius
arranged so as to be absent at the hour when Jean Valjean came, and
the house grew accustomed to M. Fauchelevent's new mode of behaving.
Toussaint helped in it; "My master was always so," she repeated. The
grandfather issued this decree, "He is an original," and everything
was said. Moreover, at the age of ninety no connection is possible;
everything is juxtaposition, and a new-comer is in the way; there is no
place for him, for habits are unalterably formed. M. Fauchelevent, M.
Tranchelevent,--Father Gillenormand desired nothing better than to get
rid of "that gentleman," and added, "Nothing is more common than such
originals. They do all sorts of strange things without any motive. The
Marquis de Canoples did worse, for he bought a palace in order to live
in the garret."

No one caught a glimpse of the sinister reality, and in feet who could
have divined such a thing? There are marshes like this in India: the
water seems extraordinary, inexplicable, rippling when there is no
breeze, and agitated when it ought to be calm. People look at the
surface of this ebullition which has no cause, and do not suspect the
hydra dragging itself along at the bottom. Many men have in this way a
secret monster, an evil which they nourish, a dragon that gnaws them, a
despair that dwells in their night. Such a man resembles others, comes
and goes, and no one knows that he has within him a frightful parasitic
pain with a thousand teeth, which dwells in the wretch and kills him.
They do not know that this man is a gulf; he is stagnant but deep. From
time to time a trouble which no one understands is produced on his
surface; a mysterious ripple forms, then fades away, then reappears; a
bubble rises and bursts. It is a slight thing, but it is terrible, for
it is the respiration of the unknown boast. Certain strange habits,
such as arriving at the hour when others go away, hiding one's self
when others show themselves, wearing on all occasions what may be
called the wall-colored cloak, seeking the solitary walk, preferring
the deserted street, not mixing in conversation, avoiding crowds and
festivities, appearing to be comfortably off and living poorly, having,
rich though one is, one's key in one's pocket and one's candle in
the porter's lodge, entering by the small door and going up the back
stairs,--all these insignificant singularities, ripples, air-bubbles,
and fugitive marks on the surface, frequently come from a formidable

Several weeks passed thus; a new life gradually seized on Cosette,--the
relations which marriage creates, visits, the management of the
household, and pleasures, that great business. The pleasures of Cosette
were not costly; they consisted in only one, being with Marius. To go
out with him, remain at home with him, was the great occupation of
her life. It was for them an ever novel joy to go out arm in arm, in
the sunshine, in the open streets, without hiding themselves, in the
face of everybody, both alone. Cosette had one vexation: Toussaint
could not agree with Nicolette (for the welding of the two old maids
was impossible), and left. The grandfather was quite well; Marius
had a few briefs now and then; Aunt Gillenormand peacefully lived
with the married pair that lateral life which sufficed her, and Jean
Valjean came daily. The Madame and the Monsieur Jean, however, made
him different to Cosette, and the care he had himself taken to detach
himself from her succeeded. She was more and more gay, and less and
less affectionate; and yet she loved him dearly still, and he felt
it One day she suddenly said to him, "You were my father, you are no
longer my father; you were my uncle, you are no longer my uncle; you
were Monsieur Fauchelevent, and are now Jean. Who are you, then? I do
not like all this. If I did not know you to be so good, I should be
afraid of you." He still lived in the Rue de l'Homme Armé, as he could
not resolve to remove from the quarter in which Cosette lived. At first
he stayed only a few minutes with Cosette, and then went away; but by
degrees he grew into the habit of making his visits longer. It might be
said that he took advantage of the lengthening days; he arrived sooner
and went away later. One day the word "father" slipped over Cosette's
lips, and a gleam of joy lit up Jean Valjean's old solemn face, but he
chided her: "Say Jean."

"Ah, that is true," she replied, with a burst of laughter, "Monsieur

"That is right," he said; and he turned away that she might not see the
tears in his eyes.



This was the last occasion, and after this last flare total extinction
took place. There was no more familiarity, no more good-day with a
kiss, and never again that so deeply tender word "father:" he had
been, at his own request and with his own complicity, expelled from
all those joys in succession, and he underwent this misery,--that,
after losing Cosette entirely on one day, he was then obliged to lose
her again bit by bit. The eye eventually grows accustomed to cellar
light, and he found it enough to have an apparition of Cosette daily.
His whole life was concentrated in that hour; he sat down by her side,
looked at her in silence, or else talked to her about former years,
her childhood, the convent, and her little friends of those days. One
afternoon--it was an early day in April, already warm but still fresh,
the moment of the sun's great gayety; the gardens that surrounded
Marius's and Cosette's windows were rousing from their slumber, the
hawthorn was about to bourgeon, a jewelry of wall-flowers was displayed
on the old wall, there was on the grass a fairy carpet of daisies and
buttercups, the white butterflies were springing forth, and the wind,
that minstrel of the eternal wedding, was trying in the trees the first
notes of that great auroral symphony which the old poets called the
renewal--Marius said to Cosette, "We said that we would go and see our
garden in the Rue Plumet again. Come, we must not be ungrateful." And
they flew off like two swallows toward the spring. This garden in the
Rue Plumet produced on them the effect of a dawn, for they already had
behind them in life something that resembled the springtime of their
love. The house in the Rue Plumet, being taken on lease, still belonged
to Cosette; they went to this garden and house, found themselves
again, and forgot themselves there. In the evening Jean Valjean went
to the Rue des Filles du Calvaire at the usual hour. "My lady went out
with the Baron," said Basque, "and has not returned yet." He sat down
silently and waited an hour, but Cosette did not come in; he hung his
head and went away. Cosette was so intoxicated by the walk in "their
garden," and so pleased at having "lived a whole day in her past," that
she spoke of nothing else the next day. She did not remark that she had
not seen Jean Valjean.

"How did you go there?" Jean Valjean asked her.

"On foot."

"And how did you return?"

"On foot too."

For some time Jean Valjean had noticed the close life which the young
couple led, and was annoyed at it. Marius's economy was severe,
and that word had its fall meaning for Jean Valjean; he hazarded a

"Why do you not keep a carriage? A little coupé would not coat you more
than five hundred francs a month, and you are rich."

"I do not know," Cosette answered.

"It is the same with Toussaint," Jean Valjean continued; "she has left,
and you have engaged no one in her place. Why not?"

"Nicolette is sufficient."

"But you must want a lady's maid?"

"Have I not Marius?"

"You ought to have a house of your own, servants of your own, a
carriage, and a box at the opera. Nothing is too good for you. Then
why not take advantage of the fact of your being rich? Wealth adds to

Cosette made no reply. Jean Valjean's visits did not grow shorter, but
the contrary; for when it is the heart that is slipping, a man does not
stop on the incline. When Jean Valjean wished to prolong his visit and
make the hour be forgotten, he sung the praises of Marius; he found him
handsome, noble, brave, witty, eloquent, and good. Cosette added to the
praise, and Jean Valjean began again. It was an inexhaustible subject,
and there were volumes in the six letters composing Marius's name.
In this k way Jean Valjean managed to stop for a long time, for it
was so sweet to see Cosette and forget by her side. It was a dressing
for his wound. It frequently happened that Basque would come and say
twice, "M. Gillenormand has sent me to remind Madame la Baronne that
dinner is waiting." On those days Jean Valjean would return home very
thoughtful. Was there any truth in that comparison of the chrysalis
which had occurred to Marius's mind? Was Jean Valjean really an
obstinate chrysalis, constantly paying visits to his butterfly? One day
he remained longer than usual, and the next noticed there was no fire
in the grate. "Stay," he though, "no fire?" And he gave himself this
explanation: "It is very simple; we are in April, and the cold weather
has passed."

"Good gracious! How cold it is here!" Cosette exclaimed as she came in.

"Oh no," said Jean Valjean.

"Then it was you who told Basque not to light a fire?"

"Yes; we shall have May here directly."

"But fires keep on till June; in this cellar there ought to be one all
the year round."

"I thought it was unnecessary."

"That is just like one of your ideas," Cosette remarked.

The next day there was a fire, but the two chairs were placed at the
other end of the room, near the door. "What is the meaning of that?"
Jean Valjean thought; he fetched the chairs and placed them in their
usual place near the chimney. This rekindled fire, however, encouraged
him, and he made the conversation last even longer than usual. As he
rose to leave, Cosette remarked to him,--

"My husband said a funny thing to me yesterday."

"What was it?"

"He said to me,'Cosette, we have thirty thousand francs a
year,--twenty-seven of yours, and three that my grandfather allows
me.' I replied, 'That makes thirty;' and he continued, 'Would you
have the courage to live on the three thousand?' I answered, 'Yes, on
nothing, provided that it be with you;' and then I asked him, 'Why did
you say that to me?' He replied, 'I merely wished to know.'"

Jean Valjean had not a word to say. Cosette probably expected some
explanation from him, but he listened to her in a sullen silence. He
went back to the Rue de l'Homme Armé, and was so profoundly abstracted
that, instead of entering his own house, he went into the next one.
It was not till he had gone up nearly two flights of stairs that he
noticed his mistake, and came down again. His mind was crammed with
conjectures: it was evident that Marius entertained doubts as to the
origin of the six hundred thousand francs, that he feared some impure
source; he might even--who knew?--have discovered that this money came
from him, Jean Valjean; that he hesitated to touch this suspicious
fortune, and was repugnant to use it as his own, preferring that
Cosette and he should remain poor rather than be rich with dubious
wealth. Moreover, Jean Valjean was beginning to feel himself shown to
the door. On the following day he had a species of shock on entering
the basement room; the fauteuils had disappeared, and there was not
even a seat of any sort.

"Dear me, no chairs!" Cosette exclaimed on entering; "where are they?"

"They are no longer here," Jean Valjean replied.

"That is rather too much."

Jean Valjean stammered,--

"I told Basque to remove them."

"For what reason?"

"I shall only remain a few minutes to-day."

"Few or many, that is no reason for standing."

"I believe that Basque required the chairs for the drawing-room."


"You have probably company this evening."

"Not a soul."

Jean Valjean had not another word to say, and Cosette shrugged her

"Have the chairs removed! The other day you ordered the fire to be left
off! How singular you are!"

"Good-by," Jean Valjean murmured.

He did not say "Good-by, Cosette," and he had not the strength to say
"Good-by, Madame."

He went away crushed, for this time he had comprehended. The next day
he did not come, and Cosette did not remark this till the evening.

"Dear me," she said, "Monsieur Jean did not come to-day."

She felt a slight pang at the heart, but she scarce noticed it, as she
was at once distracted by a kiss from Marius. The next day he did not
come either. Cosette paid no attention to this, spent the evening, and
slept at night as usual, and only thought of it when she woke; she
was so happy! She very soon sent Nicolette to Monsieur Jean's to see
whether he were ill, and why he had not come to see her on the previous
day, and Nicolette brought back Monsieur Jean's answer. "He was not
ill, but was busy, and would come soon,--as soon as he could. But he
was going to make a little journey, and Madame would remember that he
was accustomed to do so every now and then. She need not feel at all
alarmed or trouble herself about him." Nicolette, on entering Monsieur
Jean's room, had repeated to him her mistress's exact words,--"That
Madame sent to know 'why Monsieur Jean had not called on the previous

"I have not called for two days," Jean Valjean said quietly; but the
observation escaped Nicolette's notice, and she did not repeat it to



During the last months of spring and the early months of summer,
1833, the scanty passers-by in the Marais, the shop-keepers, and the
idlers in the door-ways, noticed an old gentleman, decently dressed in
black, who every day, at nearly the same hour in the evening, left the
Rue de l'Homme Armé, in the direction of the Rue Sainte Croix de la
Bretonnerie, passed in front of the Blancs Manteaux, reached the Rue
Culture Sainte Catharine, and on coming to the Rue de l'Écharpe, turned
to his left and entered the Rue St. Louis. There he walked slowly, with
head stretched forward, seeing nothing, hearing nothing, with his eye
incessantly fixed on a spot which always seemed his magnet, and which
was nought else than the corner of the Rue des Filles du Calvaire.
The nearer he came to this corner the more brightly his eye flashed;
a sort of joy illumined his eyeballs, like an internal dawn; he had a
fascinated and affectionate air, his lips made obscure movements as
if speaking to some one whom he could not see, he smiled vaguely, and
he advanced as slowly as he could. It seemed as if, while wishing to
arrive, he was afraid of the moment when he came quite close. When he
had only a few houses between himself and the street which appeared to
attract him, his step became so slow that at moments he seemed not to
be moving at all. The vacillation of his head and the fixedness of his
eye suggested the needle seeking the pole. However he might delay his
arrival, he must arrive in the end; when he reached the corner of the
Rue des Filles du Calvaire, he trembled, thrust his head with a species
of gloomy timidity beyond the corner of the last house, and looked into
this street, and there was in this glance something that resembled the
bedazzlement of the impossible and the reflection of a closed paradise.
Then a tear, which had been gradually collecting in the corner of his
eyelashes, having grown large enough to fall, glided down his cheeks,
and sometimes stopped at his mouth. The old man tasted its bitter
flavor. He stood thus for some minutes as if he were of stone; then
returned by the same road, at the same pace, and the farther he got
away the more lustreless his eye became.

By degrees this old man ceased going as far as the corner of the Rue
des Filles du Calvaire; he stopped half-way in the Rue St. Louis:
at times a little farther off, at times a little nearer. One day he
stopped at the corner of the Rue Culture Sainte Catharine and gazed
at the Rue des Filles du Calvaire from a distance; then he silently
shook his head from right to left, as if refusing himself something,
and turned back. Ere long he did not reach even the Rue St Louis; he
arrived at the Rue Pavie, shook his head, and turned back; then he did
not go beyond the Rue des Trois Pavilions; and then he did not pass
the Blancs Manteaux. He seemed like a clock which was not wound up, and
whose oscillations grow shorter and shorter till they stop. Every day
he left his house at the same hour, undertook the same walk but did not
finish it, and incessantly shortened it, though probably unconscious of
the fact. His whole countenance expressed this sole idea, Of what good
is it? His eyes were lustreless, and there was no radiance in them. The
tears were also dried up; they no longer collected in the corner of his
eyelashes, and this pensive eye was dry. The old man's head was still
thrust forward; the chin moved at times, and the creases in his thin
neck were painful to look on. At times, when the weather was bad, he
had an umbrella under his arm, which he never opened. The good women of
the district said, "He is an innocent," and the children followed him
with shouts of laughter.





It is a terrible thing to be happy! How satisfied people are! How
sufficient they find it! How, when possessed of the false object
of life, happiness, they forget the true one, duty! We are bound
to say, however, that it would be unjust to accuse Marius. Marius,
as we have explained, before his marriage asked no questions of M.
Fauchelevent, and since had been afraid to ask any of Jean Valjean.
He had regretted the promise which he had allowed to be drawn from
him, and had repeatedly said to himself that he had done wrong in
making this concession to despair. He had restricted himself to
gradually turning Jean Valjean out of his house, and effacing him as
far as possible in Cosette's mind. He had to some extent constantly
stationed himself between Cosette and Jean Valjean, feeling certain
that in this way she would not perceive it or think of it. It was more
than an effacement,--it was an eclipse. Marius did what he considered
necessary and just; he believed that he had serious reasons, some of
which we have seen, and some we have yet to see, for getting rid of
Jean Valjean, without harshness, but without weakness. Chance having
made him acquainted, in a trial in which he was retained, with an
ex-clerk of Laffitte's bank, he had obtained, without seeking it,
mysterious information, which, in truth, he had not been able to
examine, through respect for the secret he had promised to keep, and
through regard for Jean Valjean's perilous situation. He believed,
at this very moment, that he had a serious duty to perform,--the
restitution of the six hundred thousand francs to some one whom he was
seeking as discreetly as he could. In the mean while he abstained from
touching that money.

As for Cosette, she was not acquainted with any of these secrets, but
it would be harsh to condemn her either. Between Marius and her was
an omnipotent magnetism, which made her do instinctively and almost
mechanically whatever Marius wished. She felt a wish of Marius in the
matter of Monsieur Jean, and she conformed to it. Her husband had
said nothing to her, but she suffered the vague but clear pressure of
his tacit intentions, and blindly obeyed. Her obedience in this case
consisted in not remembering what Marius forgot; and she had no effort
to make in doing so. Without knowing why herself, and without there
being anything to blame her for, her mind had so thoroughly become
that of her husband, that whatever covered itself with a shadow in
Marius's thoughts was obscured in hers. Let us not go too far, however;
as regards Jean Valjean, this effacement and this forgetfulness were
only superficial, and she was thoughtless rather than forgetful. In
her heart she truly loved the man whom she had so long called father;
but she loved her husband more, and this had slightly falsified the
balance of this heart, which weighed down on one side only. It happened
at times that Cosette would speak of Jean Valjean and express her
surprise, and then Marius would calm her. "He is away, I believe; did
he not say that he was going on a journey?" "That is true," Cosette
thought, "he used to disappear like that, but not for so long a time."
Twice or thrice she sent Nicolette to inquire in the Rue de l'Homme
Armé whether Monsieur Jean had returned from his tour, and Jean Valjean
sent answer in the negative. Cosette asked no more, as she had on
earth but one want,--Marius. Let us also say that Marius and Cosette
had been absent too. They went to Vernon, and Marius took Cosette to
his father's tomb. Marius had gradually abstracted Cosette from Jean
Valjean, and Cosette had allowed it. However, what is called much too
harshly in certain cases the ingratitude of children is not always so
reprehensible a thing as may be believed. It is the ingratitude of
nature; for nature, as we have said elsewhere, "looks before her," and
divides living beings into arrivals and departures. The departures
are turned to the darkness, and the arrivals toward light. Hence a
divergence, which on the part of the old is fatal, on the part of
the young is involuntary; and this divergence, at first insensible,
increases slowly, like every separation of branches, and the twigs
separate without detaching themselves from the parent stem. It is not
their fault, for youth goes where there is joy, to festivals, to bright
light, and to love, while old age proceeds toward the end. They do not
lose each other out of sight, but there is no longer a connecting link:
the young people feel the chill of life, and the old that of the tomb.
Let us not accuse these poor children.



One day Jean Valjean went down his staircase, took three steps in the
street, sat down upon a post, the same one on which Gavroche had found
him sitting in thought on the night of June 5; he stayed there a few
minutes, and then went up again. This was the last oscillation of the
pendulum; the next day he did not leave his room; the next to that he
did not leave his bed. The porter's wife, who prepared his poor meals
for him, some cabbage or a few potatoes and a little bacon, looked at
the brown earthenware plate and exclaimed,--

"Why, poor dear man, you ate nothing yesterday!"

"Yes, I did," Jean Valjean answered.

"The plate is quite full."

"Look at the water-jug: it is empty."

"That proves you have drunk, but does not prove that you have eaten."

"Well," said Jean Valjean, "suppose that I only felt hungry for water?"

"That is called thirst, and if a man does not eat at the same time it
is called fever."

"I will eat to-morrow."

"Or on Trinity Sunday. Why not to-day? Who-ever ever thought of
saying, I will eat to-morrow? To leave my plate without touching it; my
rashers were so good."

Jean Valjean took the old woman's hand.

"I promise you to eat them," he said, in his gentle voice.

"I am not pleased with you," the woman replied.

Jean Valjean never saw any other human creature but this good woman:
there are in Paris streets through which people never pass, and houses
which people never enter, and he lived in one of those streets and
one of those houses. During the time when he still went out he had
bought at a brazier's for a few sous a small copper crucifix, which he
suspended from a nail opposite his bed; that gibbet is ever good to
look on. A week passed thus, and Jean Valjean still remained in bed.
The porter's wife said to her husband, "The old gentleman upstairs
does not get up; he does not eat, and he will not last long. He has a
sorrow, and no one will get it out of my head but that his daughter has
made a bad match."

The porter replied, with the accent of marital sovereignty,--

"If he is rich, he can have a doctor; if he is not rich, he can't. If
he has no doctor, he will die."

"And if he has one?"

"He will die," said the porter.

The porter's wife began digging up with an old knife the grass between
what she called her pavement, and while doing so grumbled,--

"It's a pity--an old man who is so tidy. He is as white as a pullet."

She saw a doctor belonging to the quarter passing along the bottom of
the street, and took upon herself to ask him to go up.

"It's on the second floor," she said; "you will only have to go in,
for, as the old gentleman no longer leaves his bed, the key is always
in the door."

The physician saw Jean Valjean and spoke to him: when he came down
again the porter's wife was waiting for him.

"Well, doctor?"

"He is very ill."

"What is the matter with him?"

"Everything and nothing. He is a man who, from all appearances, has
lost a beloved person. People die of that."

"What did he say to you?"

"He told me that he was quite well."

"Will you call again, doctor?"

"Yes," the physician replied, "but some one beside me ought to come



One evening Jean Valjean had a difficulty in rising on his elbow; he
took hold of his wrist and could not find his pulse; his breathing was
short, and stopped every now and then, and he perceived that he was
weaker than he had ever yet been. Then, doubtless, under the pressure
of some supreme preoccupation, he made an effort, sat up, and dressed
himself. He put on his old workman's clothes; for, as he no longer went
out, he had returned to them and preferred them. He was compelled to
pause several times while dressing himself; and the perspiration poured
off his forehead, merely through the effort of putting on his jacket.
Ever since he had been alone he had placed his bed in the anteroom,
so as to occupy as little as possible of the deserted apartments. He
opened the valise and took out Cosette's clothing, which he spread
on his bed. The Bishop's candlesticks were at their place on the
mantel-piece; he took two wax candles out of a drawer and put them
up, and then, though it was broad summer daylight, he lit them. We
sometimes see candles lighted thus in open day in rooms where dead men
are lying. Each step he took in going from one article of furniture
to another exhausted him, and he was obliged to sit down. It was not
ordinary fatigue, which expends the strength in order to renew it; it
was the remnant of possible motion; it was exhausted life falling drop
by drop in crushing efforts which will not be made again.

One of the chairs on which he sank was placed near the mirror, so fatal
for him, so providential for Marius, in which he had read Cosette's
reversed writing on the blotting-book. He saw himself in this mirror,
and could not recognize himself. He was eighty years of age; before
Marius's marriage he had looked scarce fifty, but the last year had
reckoned as thirty. What he had on his forehead was no longer the
wrinkle of age, but the mysterious mark of death, and the laceration
of the pitiless nail could be traced on it. His cheeks were flaccid;
the skin of his face had that color which makes one think that the
earth is already over it; the two corners of his mouth drooped as in
that mask which the ancients sculptured on the tomb. He looked at
space reproachfully, and he resembled one of those tragic beings who
have cause to complain of some one. He had reached that stage, the
last phase of dejection, in which grief no longer flows; it is, so to
speak, coagulated, and there is on the soul something like a clot of
despair. Night had set in, and he with difficulty dragged a table and
the old easy-chair to the chimney, and laid on the table, pen, ink,
and paper. This done he feinted away, and when he regained his senses
he was thirsty. As he could not lift the water-jar, he bent down with
an effort and drank a mouthful. Then he turned to the bed, and, still
seated, for he was unable to stand, he gazed at the little black dress
and all those dear objects. Such contemplations last hours which appear
minutes. All at once he shuddered, and felt that the cold had struck
him. He leaned his elbows on the table which the Bishop's candlesticks
illumined, and took up the pen. As neither the pen nor the ink had been
used for a long time, the nibs of the pen were bent, the ink was dried
up, and he was therefore obliged to put a few drops of water in the
ink, which he could not do without stopping and sitting down twice or
thrice, and was forced to write with the back of the pen. He wiped his
forehead from time to time, and his hand trembled as he wrote the few
following lines:--

"COSETTE,---I bless you. I am about to explain to you. Your husband
did right in making me understand that I ought to go away; still, he
was slightly in error as to what he believed, but he acted rightly. He
is a worthy man, and love him dearly when I am gone from you. Monsieur
Pontmercy, always love my beloved child. Cosette, this paper will be
found: this is what I wish to say to you; you shall see the figures if
I have the strength to remember them; but listen to me, the money is
really yours. This is the whole affair. White jet comes from Norway,
black jet comes from England, and black beads come from Germany. Jet
is lighter, more valuable, and dearer; but imitations can be made in
France as well as in Germany. You must have a small anvil two inches
square, and a spirit lamp to soften the wax. The wax used to be made
with resin and smoke-black, and costs four francs the pound; but I
hit on the idea of making it of gum-lac and turpentine. It only costs
thirty sous, and is much better. The rings are made of violet glass,
fastened by means of the wax on a small black iron wire. The glass must
be violet for iron ornaments, and black for gilt ornaments. Spain buys
large quantities; it is the country of jet---"

Here he stopped, the pen slipped from his fingers, he burst into one of
those despairing sobs which rose at times from the depths of his being.
The poor man took his head between his hands and thought.

"Oh!" he exclaimed internally (lamentable cries heard by God alone),
"it is all over. I shall never see her again; it is a smile which
flashed across me, and I am going to enter night without even seeing
her. Oh! for one moment, for one instant to hear her voice, to touch
her, to look at her,--her, the angel, and then die! Death is nothing,
but the frightful thing is to die without seeing her! She would smile
on me, say a word to me, and would that do any one harm? No, it is all
over forever. I am now all alone. My God! my God! I shall see her no

At this moment there was a knock at his door.



That same day, or, to speak more correctly, that same evening, as
Marius was leaving the dinner-table to withdraw to his study, as he
had a brief to get up, Basque handed him a letter, saying, "The person
who wrote the letter is in the anteroom." Cosette had seized her
grandfather's arm, and was taking a turn round the garden. A letter may
have an ugly appearance, like a man, and the mere sight of coarse paper
and clumsy folding is displeasing. The letter which Basque brought was
of that description. Marius took it, and it smelt of tobacco. Nothing
arouses a recollection so much as a smell, and Marius recognized the
tobacco. He looked at the address, "To Monsieur le Baron Pommerci, At
his house." The recognized tobacco made him recognize the handwriting.
It might be said that astonishment has its flashes of lightning, and
Marius was, as it were, illumined by one of these flashes. The odor,
that mysterious aid to memory, had recalled to him a world: it was
really the paper, the mode of folding, the pale ink; it was really
the well-known handwriting; and, above all, it was the tobacco. The
Jondrette garret rose again before him. Hence--strange blow of
accident!--one of the two trails which he had so long sought, the
one for which he had latterly made so many efforts and believed lost
forever, came to offer itself voluntarily to him. He eagerly opened the
letter and read:--

"MONSIEUR LE BARON,--If the Supreme Being had endowed me with talents,
I might have been Baron Thénard, member of the Institute (academy of
ciences), but I am not so. I merely bear the same name with him, and
shall be happy if this reminisence recommends me to the excellense
of your kindness. The benefits with which you may honor me will
be reciprocal, for I am in possession of a secret conserning an
individual. This individual conserns you. I hold the secret at your
disposal, as I desire to have the honor of being uceful to you. I will
give you the simple means for expeling from your honorable family
this individual who has no right in it, Madam la Barronne being of
high birth. The sanctuary of virtue could no longer coabit with crime
without abdicating.

"I await in the anteroom the order of Monsieur le Baron.


The letter was signed "THÉNARD." This signature was not false, but only
slightly abridged. However, the bombast and the orthography completed
the revelation, the certificate of origin was perfect, and no doubt
was possible. Marius's emotion was profound; and after the movement
of surprise he had a movement of happiness. Let him now find the
other man he sought, the man who had saved him, Marius, and he would
have nothing more to desire. He opened a drawer in his bureau, took
out several bank-notes, which he put in his pocket, closed the drawer
again, and rang. Basque opened the door partly.

"Show the man in," said Marius.

Basque announced,--

"M. Thénard."

A man came in, and it was a fresh surprise for Marius, as the man he
now saw was a perfect stranger to him. This man, who was old, by the
way, had a large nose, his chin in his cravat, green spectacles, with
a double shade of green silk over his eyes, and his hair smoothed
down and flattened on his forehead over his eyebrows, like the wig of
English coachmen of high life. His hair was gray. He was dressed in
black from head to foot,--a very seedy but clean black,--and a bunch
of seals, emerging from his fob, led to the supposition that he had a
watch. He held an old hat in his hand, and walked bent, and the curve
in his back augmented the depth of his bow. The thing which struck most
at the first glance was that this person's coat, too large, though
carefully buttoned, had not been made for him. A short digression is
necessary here.

There was at that period in Paris, in an old house situated in the Rue
Beautreillis near the arsenal, an old Jew whose trade it was to convert
a rogue into an honest man, though not for too long a period, as it
might have been troublesome to the rogue. The change was effected at
sight, for one day or two, at the rate of thirty sous a day, by means
of a costume resembling as closely as possible every-day honesty. This
letter-out of suits was called the "exchange-broker." Parisian thieves
had given him that name, and knew him by no other. He had a very
complete wardrobe, and the clothes in which he invested people suited
almost every condition. He had specialties and categories: from each
nail of his store hung a social station, worn and threadbare; here the
magistrate's coat, there the curé's coat, and the banker's coat; in
one corner the coat of an officer on half pay, elsewhere the coat of a
man of letters, and further on the statesman's coat. This creature was
the costumer of the immense drama which roguery plays in Paris, and
his den was the side-scene from which robbery went out or swindling
re-entered. A ragged rogue arrived at this wardrobe, deposited thirty
sous, and selected, according to the part which he wished to play on
that day, the clothes which suited him; and, on going down the stairs
again, the rogue was somebody. The next day the clothes were faithfully
brought back, and the "exchange-broker," who entirely trusted to the
thieves, was never robbed. These garments had one inconvenience,--they
did not fit; not being made for the man who wore them, they were
tight on one, loose on another, and fitted nobody. Any swindler who
exceeded the average mean in height or shortness was uncomfortable in
the "exchange-broker's" suits. A man must be neither too stout nor too
thin, for the broker had only provided for ordinary mortals, and had
taken the measure of the species in the person of the first thief who
turned up, and is neither stout nor thin, nor tall nor short. Hence
arose at times difficult adaptations, which the broker's customers
got over as best they could. All the worse for the exceptions! The
statesman's garments, for instance, black from head to foot, would have
been too loose for Pitt and too tight for Castelcicala. The statesman's
suit was thus described in the broker's catalogue, from which we copied
it: "A black cloth coat, black moleskin trousers, a silk waistcoat,
boots, and white shirt." There was on the margin "Ex-Ambassador," and a
note which we also transcribe: "In a separate box a carefully-dressed
peruke, green spectacles, bunch of seals, and two little quills an
inch in length, wrapped in cotton." All this belonged to the statesman
or ex-ambassador. The whole of this costume was, if we may say so,
extenuated. The seams were white, and a small button-hole gaped at
one of the elbows; moreover, a button was missing off the front, but
that is only a detail, for as the hand of the statesman must always be
thrust into the coat, and upon the heart, it had the duty of hiding the
absence of the button.

Had Marius been familiar with the occult institutions of Paris, he
would at once have recognized in the back of the visitor whom Basque
had just shown in, the coat of the statesman borrowed from the
Unhook-me-that of the "exchange-broker." Marius's disappointment on
seeing a different man from the one whom he expected to enter, turned
into disgust with the new-comer. He examined him from head to foot,
while the personage was giving him an exaggerated bow, and asked him
curtly, "What do you want?"

The man replied with an amiable _rictus_, of which the caressing smile
of a crocodile would supply some idea:--

"It appears to me impossible that I have not already had the honor of
seeing Monsieur le Baron in society. I have a peculiar impression of
having met him a few years back at the Princess Bagration's, and in the
salons of his Excellency Vicomte Dambray, Peer of France."

It is always good tactics in swindling to pretend to recognize a person
whom the swindler does not know. Marius paid attention to the man's
words, he watched the action and movement, but his disappointment
increased; it was a nasal pronunciation, absolutely different from the
sharp dry voice he expected. He was utterly routed.

"I do not know," he said, "either Madame Bagration or Monsieur Dambray.
I never set foot in the house of either of them."

The answer was rough, but the personage continued with undiminished

"Then it must have been at Chateaubriand's that I saw Monsieur! I know
Chateaubriand intimately, and he is a most affable man. He says to me
sometimes, Thénard, my good friend, will you not drink a glass with me?"

Marius's brow became sterner and sterner. "I never had the honor of
being received at M. de Chateaubriand's house. Come to the point; what
do you want with me?"

The man bowed lower still before this harsh voice.

"Monsieur le Baron, deign to listen to me. There is in America, in a
country near Panama, a village called La Joya, and this village is
composed of a single house. A large square house three stories high,
built of bricks dried in the sun, each side of the square being five
hundred feet long, and each story retiring from the one under it for
a distance of twelve feet, so as to leave in front of it a terrace
which runs all round the house. In the centre is an inner court, in
which provisions and ammunition are stored; there are no windows, only
loop-holes, no door, only ladders,--ladders to mount from the ground
to the first terrace, and from the first to the second, and from the
second to the third; ladders to descend into the inner court; no
doors to the rooms, only traps; no staircases to the apartments, only
ladders. At night the trap-doors are closed, the ladders are drawn up,
and blunderbusses and carbines are placed in the loop-holes; there is
no way of entering; it is a house by day, a citadel by night. Eight
hundred inhabitants,--such is this village. Why such precautions?
Because the country is dangerous, and full of man-eaters. Then, why do
people go there? Because it is a marvellous country, and gold is found

"What are you driving at?" Marius, who had passed from disappointment
to impatience, interrupted.

"To this, M. le Baron. I am a worn-out ex-diplomatist. I am sick of our
old civilization, and wish to try the savages."

"What next?"

"Monsieur le Baron, egotism is the law of the world. The proletarian
peasant-wench who works by the day turns round when the diligence
passes, but the peasant-woman who is laboring on her own field does not
turn. The poor man's dog barks after the rich, the rich man's dog barks
after the poor; each for himself, and self-interest is the object of
mankind. Gold is the magnet."

"What next? Conclude."

"I should like to go and settle at La Joya. There are three of us. I
have my wife and my daughter, a very lovely girl. The voyage is long
and expensive, and I am short of funds."

"How does that concern me?" Marius asked.

The stranger thrust his neck out of his cravat, with a gesture peculiar
to the vulture, and said, with a more affable smile than before,--

"Monsieur le Baron cannot have read my letter?"

That was almost true, and the fact is that the contents of the epistle
had escaped Marius; he had seen the writing rather than read the
letter, and he scarce remembered it. A new hint had just been given
him, and he noticed the detail, "My wife and daughter." He fixed a
penetrating glance on the stranger,--a magistrate could not have done
it better,--but he confined himself to saying,--

"Be more precise."

The stranger thrust his hands in his trousers' pockets, raised his head
without straightening his backbone, but on his side scrutinizing Marius
through his green spectacles.

"Very good, M. le Baron, I will be precise. I have a secret to sell

"Does it concern me?"


"What is it?"

Marius more and more examined the man while listening.

"I will begin gratis," the stranger said; "you will soon see that it is


"Monsieur le Baron, you have in your house a robber and an assassin."

Marius gave a start.

"In my house? No," he said.

The stranger imperturbably brushed his hat with his arm, and went on.

"An assassin and a robber. Remark, M. le Baron, that I am not speaking
here of old-forgotten facts, which might be effaced by prescription
before the law--by repentance before God. I am speaking of recent
facts, present facts, of facts still unknown to justice. I continue.
This man has crept into your confidence, and almost into your family,
under a false name. I am going to tell you his real name, and tell it
you for nothing."

"I am listening."

"His name is Jean Valjean."

"I know it."

"I will tell, equally for nothing, who he is." "Speak."

"He is an ex-convict."

"I know it."

"You have known it since I had the honor of telling you."

"No, I was aware of it before."

Marius's cold tone, this double reply, "I know it," and his stubborn
shortness in the conversation aroused some latent anger in the
stranger, and he gave Marius a furious side-glance, which was
immediately extinguished. Rapid though it was, the glance was one of
those which are recognized if they have once been seen, and it did not
escape Marius. Certain flashes can only come from certain souls; the
eyeball, that cellar-door of the soul, is lit up by them, and green
spectacles conceal nothing; you might as well put up a glass window to
hell. The stranger continued, smiling,--

"I will not venture to contradict M. le Baron, but in any case you will
see that I am well informed. Now, what I have to tell you is known to
myself alone, and it affects the fortune of Madame la Baronne. It is
an extraordinary secret, and is for sale. I offer it you first. Cheap!
twenty thousand francs."

"I know that secret as I know the other," said Marius.

The personage felt the necessity of lowering his price a little.

"Monsieur le Baron, let us say ten thousand francs, and I will speak."

"I repeat to you that you have nothing to tell me. I know what you want
to say to me."

There was a fresh flash in the man's eye, as he continued,--

"Still, I must dine to-day. It is an extraordinary secret, I tell you.
Monsieur, I am going to speak. I am speaking. Give me twenty francs."

Marius looked at him fixedly.

"I know your extraordinary secret, just as I knew Jean Valjean's name,
and as I know yours."

"My name?"


"That is not difficult, M. le Baron, for I had the honor of writing it
and mentioning it to you. Thénard--"




"What does this mean?"

In danger the porcupine bristles, the beetle feigns death, the old
guard forms a square. This man began laughing. Then he flipped a grain
of dust off his coat-sleeve. Marius continued,--

"You are also the workman Jondrette, the actor Fabantou, the poet
Genflot, the Spanish Don Alvares, and Madame Balizard."

"Madame who?"

"And you once kept a pot-house at Montfermeil."

"A pot-house! Never."

"And I tell you that you are Thénardier."

"I deny it."

"And that you are a scoundrel. Take that."

And Marius, taking a bank-note from his pocket, threw it in his face.

"Five hundred francs! Monsieur le Baron!"

And the man, overwhelmed and bowing, clutched the note and examined it.

"Five hundred francs!" he continued, quite dazzled. And he stammered
half aloud, "No counterfeit;" then suddenly exclaimed, "Well, be it so.
Let us be at our ease."

And with monkey-like dexterity, throwing back his hair, tearing off his
spectacles, and removing the two quills to which we alluded just now,
and which we have seen before in another part of this book, he took
off his face as you or I take off our hat. His eye grew bright, the
forehead--uneven, gullied, scarred, hideously wrinkled at top--became
clear, the nose sharp as a beak, and the ferocious and shrewd profile
of the man of prey reappeared.

"Monsieur le Baron is infallible," he said in a sharp voice, from which
the nasal twang had entirely disappeared; "I am Thénardier."

And he straightened his curved back.

Thénardier--for it was really he--was strangely surprised, and would
have been troubled could he have been so. He had come to bring
astonishment, and it was himself who was astonished. This humiliation
was paid for with five hundred francs, and he accepted it; but he was
not the less stunned. He saw for the first time this Baron Pontmercy,
and in spite of his disguise this Baron Pontmercy recognized him, and
recognized him thoroughly; and not alone was this Baron acquainted
with Thénardier, but he also seemed acquainted with Jean Valjean. Who
wad this almost beardless young man, so cold and so generous; who knew
people's names, knew all their names, and opened his purse to them; who
bullied rogues like a judge, and paid them like a dupe? Thénardier,
it will be remembered, though he had been Marius's neighbor, had never
seen him, which is frequently the case in Paris. He had formerly
vaguely heard his daughter speak of a very poor young man of the name
of Marius, who lived in the house, and he had written him, without
knowing him, the letter we formerly read. No approximation between this
Marius and M. le Baron Pontmercy was possible in his mind. With regard
to the name of Pontmercy, we must recollect that on the battle-field
of Waterloo he had heard only the last two syllables, for which he had
always had the justifiable disdain which one is likely to have for what
is merely thanks.

However, he had managed through his daughter Azelma, whom he put on the
track of the married couple on February 16, and by his own researches,
to learn a good many things, and in his dark den had succeeded in
seizing more than one mysterious thread. He had by sheer industry
discovered, or at least by the inductive process had divined, who the
man was whom he had met on a certain day in the Great Sewer. From the
man he had easily arrived at the name, and he knew that Madame la
Baronne Pontmercy was Cosette. But on that point he intended to be
discreet. Who Cosette was he did not know exactly himself. He certainly
got a glimpse of some bastardism, and Fantine's story had always
appeared to him doubtful. But what was the good of speaking,--to have
his silence paid? He had, or fancied he had, something better to sell
than that; and according to all expectation, to go and make to Baron
Pontmercy, without further proof, the revelation, "Your wife is only a
bastard," would only have succeeded in attracting the husbands boot to
the broadest part of his person.

In Thénardier's thoughts the conversation with Marius had not yet
begun; he had been obliged to fall back, modify his strategy, leave a
position, and make a change of front; but nothing essential was as yet
compromised, and he had five hundred francs in his pocket. Moreover, he
had something decisive to tell, and he felt himself strong even against
this Baron Pontmercy, who was so well-informed and so well-armed. For
men of Thénardier's nature every dialogue is a combat, and what was his
situation in the one which was about to begin? He did not know to whom
he was speaking, but he knew of what he was speaking. He rapidly made
this mental review of his forces, and after saying, "I am Thénardier,"
waited. Marius was in deep thought; he at length held Thénardier, and
the man whom he had so eagerly desired to find again was before him.
He would be able at last to honor Colonel Pontmercy's recommendation.
It humiliated him that this hero owed anything to this bandit, and
that the bill of exchange drawn by his father from the tomb upon him,
Marius, had remained up to this day protested. It seemed to him, too,
in the complex state of his mind as regarded Thénardier, that he was
bound to avenge the Colonel for the misfortune of having been saved
by such a villain. But, however this might be, he was satisfied; he
was at length going to free the Colonel's shadow from this unworthy
creditor, and felt as if he were releasing his fathers memory from a
debtor's prison. By the side of this duty he had another, clearing up
if possible the source of Cosette's fortune. The opportunity appeared
to present itself, for Thénardier probably knew something, and it might
be useful to see to the bottom of this man; so he began with that.
Thénardier put away the "no counterfeit" carefully in his pocket, and
looked at Marius with almost tender gentleness. Marius was the first to
break the silence.

"Thénardier, I have told you your name, and now do you wish me to
tell you the secret which you have come to impart to me? I have my
information also, and you shall see that I know more than you do. Jean
Valjean, as you said, is an assassin and a robber. A robber, because he
plundered a rich manufacturer, M. Madeleine, whose ruin he caused: an
assassin, because he murdered Inspector Javert."

"I do not understand you, M. le Baron," said Thénardier.

"I will make you understand; listen. There was in the Pas de Calais
district, about the year 1822, a man who had been in some trouble
with the authorities, and who had rehabilitated and restored himself
under the name of Monsieur Madeleine. This man had become, in the
fullest extent of the term, a just man, and he made the fortune of an
entire town by a trade, the manufacture of black beads. As for his
private fortune, he had made that too, but secondarily, and to some
extent as occasion offered. He was the foster-father of the poor, he
founded hospitals, opened schools, visited the sick, dowered girls,
supported widows, adopted orphans, and was, as it were, guardian of the
town. He had refused the cross, and was appointed mayor. A liberated
convict knew the secret of a penalty formerly incurred by this man;
he denounced and had him arrested, and took advantage of the arrest
to come to Paris and draw out of Laffitte's--I have the facts from
the cashier himself--by means of a false signature, a sum of half
a million and more, which belonged to M. Madeleine. The convict who
robbed M. Madeleine was Jean Valjean; as for the other fact, you can
tell me no more than I know either. Jean Valjean killed Inspector
Javert with a pistol-shot, and I, who am speaking to you, was present."

Thénardier gave Marius the sovereign glance of a beaten man who sets
his hand again on the victory, and has regained in a minute all the
ground he had lost. But the smile at once returned, for the inferior,
when in presence of his superior, must keep his triumph to himself, and
Thénardier confined himself to saying to Marius,--

"Monsieur le Baron, we are on the wrong track."

And he underlined this sentence by giving his bunch of seals an
expressive twirl.

"What!" Marius replied, "do you dispute it? They are facts."

"They are chimeras. The confidence with which Monsieur le Baron honors
me makes it my duty to tell him so. Before all, truth and justice, and
I do not like to see people accused wrongfully. Monsieur le Baron,
Jean Valjean did not rob M. Madeleine, and Jean Valjean did not kill

"That is rather strong. Why not?"

"For two reasons."

"What are they? Speak."

"The first is this: he did not rob M. Madeleine, because Jean Valjean
himself is M. Madeleine."

"What nonsense are you talking?"

"And this is the second: he did not assassinate Javert, because the man
who killed Javert was Javert."

"What do you mean?"

"That Javert committed suicide."

"Prove it, prove it!" Marius cried wildly.

Thénardier repeated slowly, scanning his sentence after the fashion of
an ancient Alexandrian,--

"Police-Agent-Javert-was-found-drowned-un-der-a boat-at-Pont-au-Change."

"But prove it, then."

Thénardier drew from his side-pocket a large gray paper parcel which
seemed to contain folded papers of various sizes.

"I have my proofs," he said calmly, and he added: "Monsieur le Baron,
I wished to know Jean Valjean thoroughly on your behalf. I say that
Jean Valjean and Madeleine are the same, and I say that Javert had no
other assassin but Javert; and when I say this, I have the proofs,
not manuscript proofs, for writing is suspicious and complaisant, but
printed proofs."

While speaking, Thénardier extracted from the parcel two newspapers,
yellow, faded, and tremendously saturated with tobacco. One of these
two papers, broken in all the folds, and falling in square rags,
seemed much older than the other.

"Two facts, two proofs," said Thénardier, as he handed Marius the two
open newspapers.

These two papers the reader knows; one, the older, a number of the
_Drapeau Blanc_, for July 25, 1823, of which the exact text was given
in the second volume of this work, established the identity of M.
Madeleine and Jean Valjean. The other, a _Moniteur_, of June 15,
1832, announced the suicide of Javert, adding that it was found, from
a verbal report made by Javert to the Préfet, that he had been made
prisoner at the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and owed his
life to the magnanimity of an insurgent, who, when holding him under
his pistol, instead of blowing out his brains, fired in the air. Marius
read; there was evidence, a certain date, irrefragable proof, for these
two papers had not been printed expressly to support Thénardier's
statement, and the note published in the _Moniteur_ was officially
communicated by the Préfecture of Police. Marius could no longer doubt;
the cashier's information was false, and he was himself mistaken. Jean
Valjean, suddenly growing great, issued from the cloud, and Marius
could not restrain a cry of joy.

"What, then, this poor fellow is an admirable man! All this fortune is
really his! He is Madeleine, the providence of an entire town! He is
Jean Valjean, the savior of Javert! He is a hero! He is a saint!"

"He is not a saint, and he is not a hero," said Thénadier; "he is
an assassin and a robber." And he added with the accent of a man
beginning to feel himself possessed of some authority, "Let us calm

Robber, assassin,--those words which Marius believed had disappeared,
and which had returned, fell upon him like a cold shower-bath.
"Still--" he said.

"Still," said Thénardier, "Jean Valjean did not rob M. Madeleine, but
he is a robber; he did not assassinate Javert, but he is an assassin."

"Are you alluding," Marius continued, "to that wretched theft committed
forty years back, and expiated, as is proved from those very papers, by
a whole life of repentance, self-denial, and virtue?"

"I say assassination and robbery, M. le Baron, and repeat that I am
alluding to recent facts. What I have to reveal to you is perfectly
unknown and unpublished, and you may perhaps find in it the source of
the fortune cleverly offered by Jean Valjean to Madame la Baronne. I
say cleverly, for it would not be a stupid act, by a donation of that
nature, to step into an honorable house, whose comforts he would share,
and at the same time hide the crime, enjoy his robbery, bury his name,
and create a family."

"I could interrupt you here," Marius observed, "but go on."

"Monsieur le Baron, I will tell you all, leaving the reward to your
generosity, for the secret is worth its weight in gold. You will say to
me, 'Why not apply to Jean Valjean?' For a very simple reason. I know
that he has given up all his property in your favor, and I consider
the combination ingenious; but he has not a halfpenny left; he would
show me his empty hands, and as I want money for my voyage to La Joya,
I prefer you, who have everything, to him, who has nothing. As I am
rather fatigued, permit me to take a chair."

Marius sat down, and made him a sign to do the same. Thénardier
installed himself in an easy-chair, took up the newspapers, put them
back in the parcel, and muttered as he dug his nail into the _Drapeau
Blanc_, "It cost me a deal of trouble to procure this." This done, he
crossed his legs, threw himself in the chair in the attitude of men
who are certain of what they are stating, and then began his narrative
gravely, and laying a stress on his words:--

"Monsieur le Baron, on June 6, 1832, about a year ago, and on the day
of the riots, a man was in the Great Sewer of Paris, at the point where
the sewer falls into the Seine between the Pont des Invalides and the
Pont de Jéna."

Marius hurriedly drew his chair closer to Thénardier's. Thénardier
noticed this movement, and continued with the slowness of an orator who
holds his hearer, and feels his adversary quivering under his words:--

"This man, forced to hide himself, for reasons, however, unconnected
with politics, had selected the sewer as his domicile, and had the key
of it. It was, I repeat, June 6, and about eight in the evening the man
heard a noise in the sewer; feeling greatly surprised, he concealed
himself and watched. It was a sound of footsteps; some one was walking
in the darkness, and coming in his direction; strange to say, there was
another man beside himself in the sewer. As the outlet of the sewer
was no great distance off, a little light which passed through enabled
him to see the new-comer, and that he was carrying something on his
back. He walked in a stooping posture; he was an ex-convict, and what
he had on his shoulders was a corpse. A flagrant case of assassination,
if there ever was one; as for the robbery, that is a matter of course,
for no one kills a man gratis. This convict was going to throw the body
into the river, and a fact worth notice is, that, before reaching the
outlet, the convict, who had come a long way through the sewer, was
obliged to pass a frightful hole, in which it seems as if he might have
left the corpse; but the sewer-men who came to effect the repairs next
day would have found the murdered man there, and that did not suit the
assassin. Hence he preferred carrying the corpse across the slough,
and his efforts must have been frightful; it was impossible to risk
one's life more perfectly, and I do not understand how he got out of it

Marius's chair came nearer, and Thénardier took advantage of it to draw
a long breath; then he continued:---

"Monsieur le Baron, a sewer is not the Champ de Mars; everything is
wanting there, even space, and when two men are in it together they
must meet. This happened, and the domiciled man and the passer-by were
compelled to bid each other good-evening, to their mutual regret. The
passer-by said to the domiciled man, 'You see what I have on my back.
I must go out; you have the key, so give it to me.' This convict was
a man of terrible strength, and there was no chance of refusing him;
still, the man who held the key parleyed, solely to gain time. He
examined the dead man, but could see nothing, except that he was young,
well dressed, had a rich look, and was quite disfigured with blood.
While talking, he managed to tear off, without the murderer perceiving
it, a piece of the skirt of the victim's coat, as a convincing proof,
you understand, a means of getting on the track of the affair, and
bringing the crime home to the criminal. He placed the piece of cloth
in his pocket; after which he opened the grating, allowed the man with
the load on his back to go out, locked the grating again, and ran
away, not feeling at all desirous to be mixed up any further in the
adventure, or to be present when the assassin threw the corpse into
the river. You now understand: the man who carried the corpse was Jean
Valjean; the one who had the key is speaking to you at this moment, and
the piece of coat-skirt--"

Thénardier completed the sentence by drawing from his pocket and
holding level with his eyes a ragged piece of black cloth all covered
with dark spots. Marius had risen, pale, scarce breathing, with his
eye fixed on the black patch, and, without uttering a syllable, or
without taking his eyes off the rag, he fell back, and, with his right
hand extended behind him, felt for the key of a wall-cupboard near
the mantel-piece. He found this key, opened the cupboard, and thrust
in his hand without looking or once taking his eyes off the rag which
Thénardier displayed. In the mean while Thénardier continued,--

"Monsieur le Baron, I have the strongest grounds for believing that
the assassinated young man was a wealthy foreigner, drawn by Jean
Valjean into a trap, and carrying an enormous sum about him."

"I was the young man, and here is the coat!" cried Marius, as he threw
on the floor an old black coat all covered with blood. Then, taking the
patch from Thénardier's hands, he bent over the coat and put it in its
place in the skirt; the rent fitted exactly, and the fragment completed
the coat Thénardier was petrified, and thought, "I'm sold." Marius drew
himself up, shuddering, desperate, and radiant; he felt in his pocket,
and walking furiously towards Thénardier, thrusting almost into his
face his hand full of five hundred and thousand franc notes,--

"You are an infamous wretch! You are a liar, a calumniator, and a
villain! You came to accuse that man, and you have justified him; you
came to ruin him, and have only succeeded in glorifying him. And it
is you who are the robber! It is you who are an assassin! I saw you,
Thénardier--Jondrette, at that den on the Boulevard de l'Hôpital. I
know enough about you to send you to the galleys, and even farther if I
liked. There are a thousand francs, ruffian that you are!"

And he threw a thousand-franc note at Thénardier.

"Ah! Jondrette--Thénardier, vile scoundrel, let this serve you as a
lesson, you hawker of secrets, you dealer in mysteries, you searcher in
the darkness, you villain, take these five hundred francs, and be off.
Waterloo protects you."

"Waterloo!" Thénardier growled, as he pocketed the five hundred francs.

"Yes, assassin! You saved there the life of a colonel."

"A general!" Thénardier said, raising his head.

"A colonel!" Marius repeated furiously. "I would not give a farthing
for a general. And you come here to commit an infamy! I tell you that
you have committed every crime! Begone! Disappear! Be happy, that is
all I desire. Ah, monster! Here are three thousand francs more: take
them. You will start to-morrow for America with your daughter, for your
wife is dead, you abominable liar! I will watch over your departure,
bandit, and at the moment when you set sail, pay you twenty thousand
francs. Go and get hanged elsewhere."

"Monsieur le Baron," Thénardier answered, bowing to the ground, "accept
my eternal gratitude."

And Thénardier left the room, understanding nothing of all this, but
stupefied and ravished by this sweet crushing under bags of gold, and
this lightning flashing over his head in the shape of bank-notes. Let
us finish at once with this man: two days after the events we have just
recorded he started for America, under a false name, with his daughter
Azelma, and provided with an order on a New York banker for twenty
thousand francs. The moral destitution of Thénardier, the spoiled
bourgeois, was irremediable, and he was in America what he had been in
Europe. The contact with a wicked man is sometimes sufficient to rot
a good action, and to make something bad issue from it: with Marius's
money Thénardier turned slave dealer.

So soon as Thénardier had departed, Marius ran into the garden where
Cosette was still walking.

"Cosette, Cosette!" he cried, "come, come quickly, let us be off!
Basque, a hackney coach! Cosette, come! Oh, heavens! It was he who
saved my life! Let us not lose a minute! Put on your shawl."

Cosette thought him mad, and obeyed. He could not breathe, and laid
his hand on his heart to check its beating. He walked up and down with
long strides, and embraced Cosette. "Oh, Cosette!" he said, "I am a
wretch." Marius was amazed, for he was beginning to catch a glimpse
of some strange, lofty, and sombre figure in this Jean Valjean. An
extraordinary virtue appeared to him, supreme and gentle, and humble in
its immensity, and the convict was transfigured into Christ. Marius was
dazzled by this prodigy, and though he knew not exactly what he saw,
it was grand. In an instant the hackney coach was at the gate. Marius
helped Cosette in, and followed her.

"Driver," he cried, "No. 7, Rue de l'Homme Armé."

"Oh, how glad I am!" said Cosette. "Rue de l'Homme Armé; I did not dare
speak to you about Monsieur Jean, but we are going to see him."

"Your father, Cosette! your father more than ever. Cosette, I see it
all. You told me that you never received the letter I sent you by
Gavroche. It must have fallen into his hands, Cosette, and he came to
the barricade to save me. As it is his sole duty to be an angel, in
passing he saved others: he saved Javert. He drew me out of that gulf
to give me to you; he carried me on his back through that frightful
sewer. Ah! I am a monstrous ingrate! Cosette, after having been your
providence, he was mine. Just imagine that there was a horrible pit, in
which a man could be drowned a hundred times, drowned in mud, Cosette;
and he carried me through it. I had feinted; I saw nothing, I heard
nothing, I could not know anything about my own adventures. We are
going to bring him back with us, and whether he is willing or not he
shall never leave us again. I only hope he is at home! I only hope we
shall find him! I will spend the rest of my life in revering him. Yes,
it must have been so, Cosette, and Gavroche must have given him my
letter. That explains everything. You understand."

Cosette did not understand a word.

"You are right," she said to him.

In the mean while the hackney coach rolled along.



At the knock he heard at his door Jean Valjean turned round.

"Come in," he said feebly.

The door opened, and Cosette and Marius appeared. Cosette rushed
into the room. Marius remained on the threshold, leaning against the

"Cosette!" said Jean Valjean, and he sat up in his chair, with his arms
outstretched and opened, haggard, livid, and sinister, but with an
immense joy in his eyes. Cosette, suffocated with emotion, fell on Jean
Valjean's breast.

"Father!" she said.

Jean Valjean, utterly overcome, stammered, "Cosette! She--you--Madame!
It is thou! Oh, my God!"

And clasped in Cosette's arms, he exclaimed,--

"It is you! You are here; you forgive me, then!"

Marius, drooping his eyelids to keep his tears from flowing, advanced a
step, and muttered between his lips, which were convulsively clenched
to stop his sobs,--


"And you too, you forgive me!" said Jean Valjean.

Marius could not find a word to say, and Jean Valjean added, "Thank
you." Cosette took off her shawl, and threw her bonnet on the bed.

"It is in my way," she said.

And sitting down on the old man's knees, she parted his gray hair with
an adorable movement, and kissed his forehead. Jean Valjean, who was
wandering, let her do so. Cosette, who only comprehended very vaguely,
redoubled her caresses, as if she wished to pay Marius's debt, and Jean
Valjean stammered,--

"How foolish a man can be! I fancied that I should not see her again.
Just imagine, Monsieur Pontmercy, that at the very moment when you came
in I was saying, 'It is all over.' There is her little dress. 'I am a
wretched man, I shall not see Cosette again,' I was saying at the very
moment when you were coming up the stairs. What an idiot I was! A man
can be as idiotic as that! But people count without the good God, who
says, 'You imagine that you are going to be abandoned; no, things will
not happen like that. Down below there is a poor old fellow who has
need of an angel.' And the angel comes, and he sees Cosette again, and
he sees his little Cosette again. Oh, I was very unhappy!"

For a moment he was unable to speak; then he went on,--

"I really wanted to see Cosette for a little while every now and then,
for a heart requires a bone to gnaw. Still, I knew well that I was
in the way. I said to myself, 'They do not want you, so stop in your
corner; a man has no right to pay everlasting visits,' Ah, blessed be
God! I see her again. Do you know, Cosette, that your husband is very
handsome? What a pretty embroidered collar you are wearing; I like that
pattern. Your husband chose it, did he not? And then, you will need
cashmere shawls. Monsieur Pontmercy, let me call her Cosette, it will
not be for long."

And Cosette replied,--

"How unkind to have left us like that! Where have you been to? Why
were you away so long? Formerly your absences did not last over three
or four days. I sent Nicolette, and the answer always was, 'He has not
returned.' When did you get back? Why did you not let us know? Are you
aware that you are greatly changed? Oh, naughty papa, he has been ill,
and we did not know it. Here, Marius, feel how cold his hand is!"

"So you are here! So you forgive me, Monsieur Pontmercy?" Jean Valjean

At this remark, all that was swelling in Marius's heart found a vent,
and he burst forth,--

"Do you hear, Cosette? He asks my pardon. And do you know what he did
for me, Cosette? He saved my life; he did more, he gave you to me, and,
after saving me, and after giving you to me, Cosette, what did he do
for himself? He sacrificed himself. That is the man. And to me, who
am so ungrateful, so pitiless, so forgetful, and so guilty, he says,
'Thank you!' Cosette, my whole life spent at this man's feet would be
too little. That barricade, that sewer, that furnace, that pit,--he
went through them all for me and for you, Cosette! He carried me
through every form of death, which he held at bay from me and accepted
for himself. This man possesses every courage, every virtue, every
heroism, and every holiness, and he is an angel, Cosette!"

"Stop, stop!" Jean Valjean said in a whisper; "why talk in that way?"

"But why did you not tell me of it?" exclaimed Marius, with a passion
in which was veneration; "it is your fault also. You save people's
lives, and conceal the fact from them! You do more; under the pretext
of unmasking yourself, you calumniate yourself. It is frightful!"

"I told the truth," Jean Valjean replied.

"No!" Marius retorted, "the truth is the whole truth, and you did not
tell that. You were Monsieur Madeleine; why not tell me so? You saved
Javert; why not tell me so? I owed you my life; why not tell me so?"

"Because I thought like you, and found that you were right. It was
necessary that I should leave you. Had you known of the sewer, you
would have compelled me to remain with you, and hence I held my tongue.
Had I spoken, I should have been in the way."

"Been in the way of whom,--of what?" Marius broke out. "Do you fancy
that you are going to remain here? We mean to take you back with us.
Oh, good heaven! when I think that I only learned all this by accident!
We shall take you away with us, for you form a part of ourselves.
You are her father and mine. You shall not spend another day in this
frightful house, so do not fancy you will be here to-morrow."

"To-morrow," said Jean Valjean, "I shall be no longer here; but I shall
not be at your house."

"What do you mean?" Marius asked. "Oh, no! we shall not let you travel
any more. You shall not leave us again, for you belong to us, and we
will not let you go."

"This time it is for good," Cosette added. "We have a carriage below,
and I mean to carry you off; if necessary, I shall employ force."

And laughing, she feigned to raise the old man in her arms.

"Your room is still all ready in our house," she went on. "If you
only knew how pretty the garden is just at present! The azaleas are
getting on splendidly; the walks are covered with river sand, and there
are little violet shells. You shall eat my strawberries, for it is I
who water them. And no more Madame and no more Monsieur Jean, for we
live in a republic, do we not, Marius? The programme is changed. If
you only knew, father, what a sorrow I had; a redbreast had made its
nest in a hole in the wall, and a horrible cat killed it for me. My
poor, pretty little redbreast, that used to thrust its head out of its
window and look at me! I cried at it, and could have killed the cat!
But now, nobody weeps, everybody laughs, everybody is happy. You will
come with us; how pleased grandfather will be! You will have your bed
in the garden, you will cultivate it, and we will see whether your
strawberries are as fine as mine. And then, I will do all you wish, and
you will obey me."

Jean Valjean listened without hearing; he heard the music of her voice
rather than the meaning of her words, and one of those heavy tears,
which are the black pearls of the soul, slowly collected in his eye. He

"The proof that God is good is that she is here."

"My father!" said Cosette.

Jean Valjean continued,--

"It is true it would be charming to live together. They have their
trees full of birds, and I should walk about with Cosette. It is sweet
to be with persons who live, who say to each other good-morning, and
call each other in the garden. We should each cultivate a little bed;
she would give me her strawberries to eat, and I would let her pick my
roses. It would be delicious, but--"

He broke off, and said gently, "It is a pity!"

The tear did not fall, it was recalled, and Jean Valjean substituted a
smile for it. Cosette took both the old man's hands in hers.

"Good Heaven!" she said, "your hands have grown colder. Can you be ill?
Are you suffering?"

"I--no," Jean Valjean replied, "I am quite well. It is only--" He

"Only what?"

"I am going to die directly."

Marius and Cosette shuddered.

"Die!" Marius exclaimed.

"Yes; but that is nothing," said Jean Valjean.

He breathed, smiled, and added,--

"Cosette, you were talking to me; go on, speak again. Your redbreast is
dead, then? Speak, that I may hear your voice."

Marius, who was petrified, looked at the old man, and Cosette uttered a
piercing shriek.

"Father, father, you will live! You are going to live. I insist on your
living, do you hear?"

Jean Valjean raised his head to her with adoration.

"Oh, yes, forbid me dying. Who knows? Perhaps I shall obey. I was on
the road to death when you arrived, but that stopped me. I fancied I
was coming to life again."

"You are full of strength and life," Marius exclaimed; "can you suppose
that a man dies like that? You have known grief, but you shall know no
more. It is I who ask pardon of you, and on my knees! You are going to
live, and live with us, and live a long time. We will take you with us,
and shall have henceforth but one thought, your happiness!"

"You hear," said Cosette, who was all in tears. "Marius says that you
will not die."

Jean Valjean continued to smile.

"Even if you were to take me home with you, Monsieur Pontmercy, would
that prevent me being what I am? No. God has thought the same as you
and I, and he does not alter his opinion. It is better for me to be
gone. Death is an excellent arrangement, and God knows better than we
do what we want. I am certain that it is right, that you should be
happy, that Monsieur Pontmercy should have Cosette, that youth should
espouse the dawn, that there should be around you, my children, lilacs
and nightingales, that your life should be a lawn bathed in sunlight,
that all the enchantments of Heaven should fill your souls, and that I
who am good for nothing should now die. Come, be reasonable; nothing
is possible now, and I fully feel that all is over. An hour ago I had
a fainting-fit, and last night I drank the whole of that jug of water.
How kind your husband is, Cosette! You are much better with him than
with me!"

There was a noise at the door; it was the physician come to pay his

"Good-day, and good-by, doctor," said Jean Valjean; "here are my poor

Marius went up to the physician, and addressed but one word to him,
"Sir?"--but in the manner of pronouncing it there was a whole question.
The physician answered the question by an expressive glance.

"Because things are unpleasant," said Jean Valjean, "that is no reason
to be unjust to God."

There was a silence, and every breast was oppressed. Jean Valjean
turned to Cosette, and began contemplating her, as if he wished to take
the glance with him into eternity. In the deep shadow into which he had
already sunk ecstasy was still possible for him in gazing at Cosette.
The reflection of her sweet countenance illumined his pale face, for
the sepulchre may have its brilliancy. The physician felt his pulse.

"Ah, it was you that he wanted," he said, looking at Marius and

And bending down to Marius's ear, he whispered, "Too late!"

Jean Valjean, almost without ceasing to regard Cosette, looked at
Marius and the physician with serenity, and the scarcely articulated
words could be heard passing his lips.

"It is nothing to die, but it is frightful not to live."

All at once he rose; such return of strength is at times a sequel of
the death-agony. He walked with a firm step to the wall, thrust aside
Marius and the doctor, who wished to help him, detached from the wall
the small copper crucifix hanging on it, returned to his seat with all
the vigor of full health, and said, as he laid the crucifix on the

"There is the great Martyr."

Then his chest sank in, his head vacillated, as if the intoxication of
the tomb were seizing on him, and his hands, lying on his knees, began
pulling at the cloth of his trousers. Cosette supported his shoulders,
and sobbed, and tried to speak to him, but was unable to do so. Through
the words mingled with that lugubrious saliva which accompanies tears,
such sentences as this could be distinguished: "Father, do not leave
us. Is it possible that we have only found you again to lose you?" It
might be said that the death-agony moves like a serpent; it comes,
goes, advances toward the grave, and then turns back toward life; there
is groping in the action of death. Jean Valjean, after this partial
syncope, rallied, shook his forehead as if to make the darkness fall
off it, and became again almost lucid. He caught hold of Cosette's
sleeve and kissed it.

"He is recovering, doctor, he is recovering," Marius cried.

"You are both good," said Jean Valjean, "and I am going to tell you
what causes me sorrow. It causes me sorrow, Monsieur Pontmercy, that
you have refused to touch that money; but it is really your wife's. I
will explain to you, my children, and that is why I am so glad to see
you. Black jet comes from England, and white jet from Norway; it is all
in that paper there, which you will read. I invented the substitution
of rolled-up snaps for welded snaps in bracelets; they are prettier,
better, and not so dear. You can understand what money can be earned by
it; so Cosette's fortune is really hers. I give you these details that
your mind may be at rest!"

The porter's wife had come up, and was peeping through the open door;
the physician sent her off, but could not prevent the zealous old woman
shouting to the dying man before she went,--

"Will you have a priest?"

"I have one," Jean Valjean answered.

And he seemed to point with his finger to a spot over his head, where
it seemed as if he saw some one; it is probable, in truth, that the
Bishop was present at this death-scene. Cosette gently placed a pillow
behind Jean Valjean's loins, and he continued,--

"Monsieur Pontmercy, have no fears, I conjure you. The six hundred
thousand francs are really Cosette's! I should have thrown away my
life if you did not enjoy them! We had succeeded in making those beads
famously, and we competed with what is called Berlin jewelry. For
instance, the black beads of Germany cannot be equalled; for a gross,
which contains twelve hundred well-cut beads, only costs three francs."

       *       *       *       *       *

When a being who is dear to us is about to die, we regard him with a
gaze which grapples him, and would like to retain him. Cosette and
Marius stood before him hand in hand, dumb through agony, not knowing
what to say to death, despairing and trembling. With each moment
Jean Valjean declined and approached nearer to the dark horizon. His
breathing had become intermittent, and a slight rattle impeded it.
He had a difficulty in moving his fore-arm, his feet had lost all
movement, and at the same time, as the helplessness of the limbs and
the exhaustion of the body increased, all the majesty of the soul
ascended and was displayed on his forehead. The light of the unknown
world was already visible in his eyeballs. His face grew livid and
at the same time smiling; life was no longer there, but there was
something else. His breath stopped, but his glance expanded; he was a
corpse on whom wings could be seen. He made Cosette a sign to approach,
and then Marius; it was evidently the last minute of the last hour, and
he began speaking to them in so faint a voice that it seemed to come
from a distance, and it was as if there were a wall between them and

"Come hither, both of you; I love you dearly. Oh, how pleasant it is
to die like this! You too love me, my Cosette; I felt certain that you
had always a fondness for the poor old man. How kind it was of you
to place that pillow under my loins! You will weep for me a little,
will you not? But not too much, for I do not wish you to feel real
sorrow. You must amuse yourselves a great deal, my children. I forgot
to tell you that more profit was made on the buckles without tongues
than on all the rest; the gross cost two francs to produce, and sold
for sixty. It was really a good trade, so you must not feel surprised
at the six hundred thousand francs, Monsieur Pontmercy. It is honest
money. You can be rich without any fear. You must have a carriage, now
and then a box at the opera, handsome ball-dresses, my Cosette, and
give good dinners to your friends, and be very happy. I was writing
just now to Cosette. She will find my letter. To her I leave the two
candlesticks on the mantel-piece. They are silver, but to me they are
made of gold, of diamonds; they change the candles placed in them into
consecrated tapers. I know not whether the man who gave them to me is
satisfied with me above, but I have done what I could. My children,
you will not forget that I am a poor man, you will have me buried in
some corner with a stone to mark the spot. That is my wish. No name
on the stone. If Cosette comes to see it now and then, it will cause
me pleasure. And you, too, Monsieur Pontmercy. I must confess to you
that I did not always like you, and I ask your forgiveness. Now, she
and you are only one for me. I am very grateful to you, for I feel
that you render Cosette happy. If you only knew, Monsieur Pontmercy;
her pretty pink cheeks were my joy, and when I saw her at all pale, I
was miserable. There is in the chest of drawers a five-hundred-franc
note. I have not touched it; it is for the poor, Cosette. Do you see
your little dress there on the bed? Do you recognize it? And yet it was
only ten years ago! How time passes! We have been very happy, and it
is all over. Do not weep, my children; I am not going very far, and I
shall see you from there. You will only have to look when it is dark,
and you will see me smile. Cosette, do you remember Montfermeil? You
were in the wood and very frightened: do you remember when I took the
bucket-handle? It was the first time I touched your pretty little hand.
It was so cold. Ah, you had red hands in those days, Miss, but now they
are very white. And the large doll? Do you remember? You christened
it Catherine, and were sorry that you did not take it with you to the
convent. How many times you have made me laugh, my sweet angel! When it
had rained, you used to set straws floating in the gutter, and watched
them go. One day I gave you a wicker battledore and a shuttlecock with
yellow, blue, and green feathers. You have forgotten it. You were so
merry when a little girl. You used to play. You would put cherries
in your ears. All these are things of the past. The forests through
which one has passed with one's child, the trees under which we have
walked, the convent in which we hid, the sports, the hearty laughter of
childhood, are shadows. I imagined that all this belonged to me, and
that was my stupidity. Those Thénardiers were very wicked, but we must
forgive them. Cosette, the moment has arrived to tell you your mother's
name. It was Fantine. Remember this name,--Fantine. Fall on your knees
every time that you pronounce it. She suffered terribly. She loved you
dearly. She knew as much misery as you have known happiness. Such are
the distributions of God. He is above. He sees us all, and he knows all
that he does, amid his great stars. I am going away, my children. Love
each other dearly and always. There is no other thing in the world but
that: love one another. You will sometimes think of the poor old man
who died here. Ah, my Cosette, it is not my fault that I did not see
you every day, for it broke my heart. I went as far as the corner of
the street, and must have produced a funny effect on the people who saw
me pass, for I was like a madman, and even went out without my hat. My
children, I can no longer see very clearly. I had several things to say
to you, but no matter. Think of me a little. You are blessed beings. I
know not what is the matter with me, but I see light. Come hither. I
die happy. Let me lay my hands on your beloved heads."

Cosette and Marius fell on their knees, heartbroken and choked with
sobs, each under one of Jean Valjean's hands. These august hands did
not move again. He had fallen back, and the light from the two candles
illumined him: his white face looked up to heaven, and he let Cosette
and Marius cover his hands with kisses.

He was dead.

The night was starless and intensely dark; doubtless some immense angel
was standing in the gloom, with outstretched wings, waiting for the



There is at the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, in the vicinity of the poor
side, far from the elegant quarter of this city of sepulchres, far
from those fantastic tombs which display in the presence of eternity
the hideous fashions of death, in a deserted corner near an old wall,
under a yew up which bind-weed climbs, and amid couch-grass and moss,
a tombstone. This stone is no more exempt than the others from the
results of time, from mildew, lichen, and the deposits of birds.
Water turns it green and the atmosphere blackens it. It is not in the
vicinity of any path, and people do not care to visit that part because
the grass is tall and they get their feet wet. When there is a little
sunshine the lizards disport on it; there is all around a rustling of
wild oats, and in spring linnets sing on the trees. This tombstone is
quite bare. In cutting it, only the necessities of the tomb were taken
into consideration; no further care was taken than to make the stone
long enough and narrow enough to cover a man.

No name can be read on it.

Many, many years ago, however, a hand wrote on it in pencil these
lines, which became almost illegible through rain and dust, and which
are probably effaced at the present day:--

    "Il dort. Quoique le sort fût pour lui bien étrange,
    Il vivait. Il mourut quand il n'eut pas son ange;
    La chose simplement d'elle-même arriva,
    Comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s'en va."


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Les Misérables, v. 5-5 - Fantine - Cosette - Marius - The Idyll and the Epic - Jean Valjean" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.