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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, trans. Isabel F. Hapgood

Part 33 out of 36

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Nevertheless, for an instant, he was prudent. He had just
escaped neatly. He had been, as the reader is aware, picked up
in Jondrette's garret in company with the other ruffians.
Utility of a vice: his drunkenness had been his salvation.
The authorities had never been able to make out whether he had been
there in the quality of a robber or a man who had been robbed.
An order of nolle prosequi, founded on his well authenticated state
of intoxication on the evening of the ambush, had set him at liberty.
He had taken to his heels. He had returned to his road from Gagny
to Lagny, to make, under administrative supervision, broken stone
for the good of the state, with downcast mien, in a very pensive mood,
his ardor for theft somewhat cooled; but he was addicted none
the less tenderly to the wine which had recently saved him.

As for the lively emotion which he had experienced a short time
after his return to his road-mender's turf-thatched cot, here it is:

One morning, Boulatruelle, while on his way as was his wont,
to his work, and possibly also to his ambush, a little before
daybreak caught sight, through the branches of the trees, of a man,
whose back alone he saw, but the shape of whose shoulders, as it
seemed to him at that distance and in the early dusk, was not
entirely unfamiliar to him. Boulatruelle, although intoxicated,
had a correct and lucid memory, a defensive arm that is indispensable
to any one who is at all in conflict with legal order.

"Where the deuce have I seen something like that man yonder?"
he said to himself. But he could make himself no answer,
except that the man resembled some one of whom his memory preserved
a confused trace.

However, apart from the identity which he could not manage to catch,
Boulatruelle put things together and made calculations. This man
did not belong in the country-side. He had just arrived there.
On foot, evidently. No public conveyance passes through Montfermeil
at that hour. He had walked all night. Whence came he? Not from
a very great distance; for he had neither haversack, nor bundle.
From Paris, no doubt. Why was he in these woods? why was he there at
such an hour? what had he come there for?

Boulatruelle thought of the treasure. By dint of ransacking his memory,
he recalled in a vague way that he had already, many years before,
had a similar alarm in connection with a man who produced on him
the effect that he might well be this very individual.

"By the deuce," said Boulatruelle, "I'll find him again.
I'll discover the parish of that parishioner. This prowler
of Patron-Minette has a reason, and I'll know it. People can't
have secrets in my forest if I don't have a finger in the pie."

He took his pick-axe which was very sharply pointed.

"There now," he grumbled, "is something that will search the earth
and a man."

And, as one knots one thread to another thread, he took up the line
of march at his best pace in the direction which the man must follow,
and set out across the thickets.

When he had compassed a hundred strides, the day, which was already
beginning to break, came to his assistance. Footprints stamped
in the sand, weeds trodden down here and there, heather crushed,
young branches in the brushwood bent and in the act of straightening
themselves up again with the graceful deliberation of the arms of a
pretty woman who stretches herself when she wakes, pointed out to him
a sort of track. He followed it, then lost it. Time was flying.
He plunged deeper into the woods and came to a sort of eminence.
An early huntsman who was passing in the distance along a path,
whistling the air of Guillery, suggested to him the idea of climbing
a tree. Old as he was, he was agile. There stood close at hand
a beech-tree of great size, worthy of Tityrus and of Boulatruelle.
Boulatruelle ascended the beech as high as he was able.

The idea was a good one. On scrutinizing the solitary waste
on the side where the forest is thoroughly entangled and wild,
Boulatruelle suddenly caught sight of his man.

Hardly had he got his eye upon him when he lost sight of him.

The man entered, or rather, glided into, an open glade, at a
considerable distance, masked by large trees, but with which
Boulatruelle was perfectly familiar, on account of having noticed,
near a large pile of porous stones, an ailing chestnut-tree
bandaged with a sheet of zinc nailed directly upon the bark.
This glade was the one which was formerly called the Blaru-bottom.
The heap of stones, destined for no one knows what employment,
which was visible there thirty years ago, is doubtless still there.
Nothing equals a heap of stones in longevity, unless it is a board fence.
They are temporary expedients. What a reason for lasting!

Boulatruelle, with the rapidity of joy, dropped rather than descended
from the tree. The lair was unearthed, the question now was to seize
the beast. That famous treasure of his dreams was probably there.

It was no small matter to reach that glade. By the beaten paths,
which indulge in a thousand teasing zigzags, it required a good
quarter of an hour. In a bee-line, through the underbrush, which is
peculiarly dense, very thorny, and very aggressive in that locality,
a full half hour was necessary. Boulatruelle committed the error
of not comprehending this. He believed in the straight line;
a respectable optical illusion which ruins many a man. The thicket,
bristling as it was, struck him as the best road.

"Let's take to the wolves' Rue de Rivoli," said he.

Boulatruelle, accustomed to taking crooked courses, was on this
occasion guilty of the fault of going straight.

He flung himself resolutely into the tangle of undergrowth.

He had to deal with holly bushes, nettles, hawthorns, eglantines,
thistles, and very irascible brambles. He was much lacerated.

At the bottom of the ravine he found water which he was obliged
to traverse.

At last he reached the Blaru-bottom, after the lapse of forty
minutes, sweating, soaked, breathless, scratched, and ferocious.

There was no one in the glade. Boulatruelle rushed to the heap
of stones. It was in its place. It had not been carried off.

As for the man, he had vanished in the forest. He had made his escape.
Where? in what direction? into what thicket? Impossible to guess.

And, heartrending to say, there, behind the pile of stones, in front
of the tree with the sheet of zinc, was freshly turned earth,
a pick-axe, abandoned or forgotten, and a hole.

The hole was empty.

"Thief!" shrieked Boulatruelle, shaking his fist at the horizon.



For a long time, Marius was neither dead nor alive. For many
weeks he lay in a fever accompanied by delirium, and by tolerably
grave cerebral symptoms, caused more by the shocks of the wounds
on the head than by the wounds themselves.

He repeated Cosette's name for whole nights in the melancholy loquacity
of fever, and with the sombre obstinacy of agony. The extent of some
of the lesions presented a serious danger, the suppuration of large
wounds being always liable to become re-absorbed, and consequently,
to kill the sick man, under certain atmospheric conditions; at every
change of weather, at the slightest storm, the physician was uneasy.

"Above all things," he repeated, "let the wounded man be subjected
to no emotion." The dressing of the wounds was complicated
and difficult, the fixation of apparatus and bandages by
cerecloths not having been invented as yet, at that epoch.
Nicolette used up a sheet "as big as the ceiling," as she put it,
for lint. It was not without difficulty that the chloruretted
lotions and the nitrate of silver overcame the gangrene.
As long as there was any danger, M. Gillenormand, seated in despair
at his grandson's pillow, was, like Marius, neither alive nor dead.

Every day, sometimes twice a day, a very well dressed gentleman
with white hair,--such was the description given by the porter,--
came to inquire about the wounded man, and left a large package
of lint for the dressings.

Finally, on the 7th of September, four months to a day, after the
sorrowful night when he had been brought back to his grandfather
in a dying condition, the doctor declared that he would answer
for Marius. Convalescence began. But Marius was forced to remain
for two months more stretched out on a long chair, on account of the
results called up by the fracture of his collar-bone. There always
is a last wound like that which will not close, and which prolongs
the dressings indefinitely, to the great annoyance of the sick person.

However, this long illness and this long convalescence saved him
from all pursuit. In France, there is no wrath, not even of a
public character, which six months will not extinguish. Revolts,
in the present state of society, are so much the fault of every one,
that they are followed by a certain necessity of shutting the eyes.

Let us add, that the inexcusable Gisquet order, which enjoined
doctors to lodge information against the wounded, having outraged
public opinion, and not opinion alone, but the King first of all,
the wounded were covered and protected by this indignation; and,
with the exception of those who had been made prisoners in the very
act of combat, the councils of war did not dare to trouble any one.
So Marius was left in peace.

M. Gillenormand first passed through all manner of anguish, and then
through every form of ecstasy. It was found difficult to prevent
his passing every night beside the wounded man; he had his big
arm-chair carried to Marius' bedside; he required his daughter
to take the finest linen in the house for compresses and bandages.
Mademoiselle Gillenormand, like a sage and elderly person,
contrived to spare the fine linen, while allowing the grandfather
to think that he was obeyed. M. Gillenormand would not permit
any one to explain to him, that for the preparation of lint
batiste is not nearly so good as coarse linen, nor new linen
as old linen. He was present at all the dressings of the wounds
from which Mademoiselle Gillenormand modestly absented herself.
When the dead flesh was cut away with scissors, he said: "Aie! aie!"
Nothing was more touching than to see him with his gentle,
senile palsy, offer the wounded man a cup of his cooling-draught.
He overwhelmed the doctor with questions. He did not observe
that he asked the same ones over and over again.

On the day when the doctor announced to him that Marius was out
of danger, the good man was in a delirium. He made his porter a present
of three louis. That evening, on his return to his own chamber,
he danced a gavotte, using his thumb and forefinger as castanets,
and he sang the following song:

"Jeanne est nee a Fougere "Amour, tu vis en elle;
Vrai nid d'une bergere; Car c'est dans sa prunelle
J'adore son jupon, Que tu mets ton carquois.
Fripon. Narquois!

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

[61] "Jeanne was born at Fougere, a true shepherd's nest; I adore
her petticoat, the rogue.

"Love, thou dwellest in her; For 'tis in her eyes that thou placest
thy quiver, sly scamp!

"As for me, I sing her, and I love, more than Diana herself,
Jeanne and her firm Breton breasts."

Then he knelt upon a chair, and Basque, who was watching him
through the half-open door, made sure that he was praying.

Up to that time, he had not believed in God.

At each succeeding phase of improvement, which became more and
more pronounced, the grandfather raved. He executed a multitude of
mechanical actions full of joy; he ascended and descended the stairs,
without knowing why. A pretty female neighbor was amazed one morning
at receiving a big bouquet; it was M. Gillenormand who had sent it
to her. The husband made a jealous scene. M. Gillenormand tried
to draw Nicolette upon his knees. He called Marius, "M. le Baron."
He shouted: "Long live the Republic!"

Every moment, he kept asking the doctor: "Is he no longer in danger?"
He gazed upon Marius with the eyes of a grandmother. He brooded
over him while he ate. He no longer knew himself, he no longer
rendered himself an account of himself. Marius was the master
of the house, there was abdication in his joy, he was the grandson
of his grandson.

In the state of joy in which he then was, he was the most venerable
of children. In his fear lest he might fatigue or annoy the convalescent,
he stepped behind him to smile. He was content, joyous, delighted,
charming, young. His white locks added a gentle majesty to the gay
radiance of his visage. When grace is mingled with wrinkles,
it is adorable. There is an indescribable aurora in beaming old age.

As for Marius, as he allowed them to dress his wounds and care
for him, he had but one fixed idea: Cosette.

After the fever and delirium had left him, he did not again pronounce
her name, and it might have been supposed that he no longer thought
of her. He held his peace, precisely because his soul was there.

He did not know what had become of Cosette; the whole affair of the Rue
de la Chanvrerie was like a cloud in his memory; shadows that were
almost indistinct, floated through his mind, Eponine, Gavroche, Mabeuf,
the Thenardiers, all his friends gloomily intermingled with the smoke
of the barricade; the strange passage of M. Fauchelevent through
that adventure produced on him the effect of a puzzle in a tempest;
he understood nothing connected with his own life, he did not know
how nor by whom he had been saved, and no one of those around him
knew this; all that they had been able to tell him was, that he
had been brought home at night in a hackney-coach, to the Rue
des Filles-du-Calvaire; past, present, future were nothing more
to him than the mist of a vague idea; but in that fog there was
one immovable point, one clear and precise outline, something made
of granite, a resolution, a will; to find Cosette once more.
For him, the idea of life was not distinct from the idea of Cosette.
He had decreed in his heart that he would not accept the one without
the other, and he was immovably resolved to exact of any person whatever,
who should desire to force him to live,--from his grandfather,
from fate, from hell,--the restitution of his vanished Eden.

He did not conceal from himself the fact that obstacles existed.

Let us here emphasize one detail, he was not won over and was but little
softened by all the solicitude and tenderness of his grandfather.
In the first place, he was not in the secret; then, in his reveries
of an invalid, which were still feverish, possibly, he distrusted
this tenderness as a strange and novel thing, which had for its
object his conquest. He remained cold. The grandfather absolutely
wasted his poor old smile. Marius said to himself that it was
all right so long as he, Marius, did not speak, and let things
take their course; but that when it became a question of Cosette,
he would find another face, and that his grandfather's true attitude
would be unmasked. Then there would be an unpleasant scene;
a recrudescence of family questions, a confrontation of positions,
every sort of sarcasm and all manner of objections at one and the
same time, Fauchelevent, Coupelevent, fortune, poverty, a stone about
his neck, the future. Violent resistance; conclusion: a refusal.
Marius stiffened himself in advance.

And then, in proportion as he regained life, the old ulcers
of his memory opened once more, he reflected again on the past,
Colonel Pontmercy placed himself once more between M. Gillenormand
and him, Marius, he told himself that he had no true kindness to expect
from a person who had been so unjust and so hard to his father.
And with health, there returned to him a sort of harshness
towards his grandfather. The old man was gently pained by this.
M. Gillenormand, without however allowing it to appear, observed
that Marius, ever since the latter had been brought back to him
and had regained consciousness, had not once called him father.
It is true that he did not say "monsieur" to him; but he contrived
not to say either the one or the other, by means of a certain way
of turning his phrases. Obviously, a crisis was approaching.

As almost always happens in such cases, Marius skirmished before
giving battle, by way of proving himself. This is called "feeling
the ground." One morning it came to pass that M. Gillenormand spoke
slightingly of the Convention, apropos of a newspaper which had fallen
into his hands, and gave vent to a Royalist harangue on Danton,
Saint-Juste and Robespierre.--"The men of '93 were giants,"
said Marius with severity. The old man held his peace, and uttered
not a sound during the remainder of that day.

Marius, who had always present to his mind the inflexible grandfather
of his early years, interpreted this silence as a profound
concentration of wrath, augured from it a hot conflict, and augmented
his preparations for the fray in the inmost recesses of his mind.

He decided that, in case of a refusal, he would tear off his bandages,
dislocate his collar-bone, that he would lay bare all the wounds
which he had left, and would reject all food. His wounds were his
munitions of war. He would have Cosette or die.

He awaited the propitious moment with the crafty patience of the sick.

That moment arrived.



One day, M. Gillenormand, while his daughter was putting in order
the phials and cups on the marble of the commode, bent over Marius
and said to him in his tenderest accents: "Look here, my little Marius,
if I were in your place, I would eat meat now in preference to fish.
A fried sole is excellent to begin a convalescence with, but a good
cutlet is needed to put a sick man on his feet."

Marius, who had almost entirely recovered his strength,
collected the whole of it, drew himself up into a sitting posture,
laid his two clenched fists on the sheets of his bed, looked his
grandfather in the face, assumed a terrible air, and said:

"This leads me to say something to you."

"What is it?"

"That I wish to marry."

"Agreed," said his grandfather.--And he burst out laughing.

"How agreed?"

"Yes, agreed. You shall have your little girl."

Marius, stunned and overwhelmed with the dazzling shock,
trembled in every limb.

M. Gillenormand went on:

"Yes, you shall have her, that pretty little girl of yours.
She comes every day in the shape of an old gentleman to inquire
after you. Ever since you were wounded, she has passed her time
in weeping and making lint. I have made inquiries. She lives
in the Rue de l'Homme Arme, No. 7. Ah! There we have it!
Ah! so you want her! Well, you shall have her. You're caught.
You had arranged your little plot, you had said to yourself:--`I'm
going to signify this squarely to my grandfather, to that mummy
of the Regency and of the Directory, to that ancient beau, to that
Dorante turned Geronte; he has indulged in his frivolities also,
that he has, and he has had his love affairs, and his grisettes
and his Cosettes; he has made his rustle, he has had his wings,
he has eaten of the bread of spring; he certainly must remember it.'
Ah! you take the cockchafer by the horns. That's good. I offer
you a cutlet and you answer me: `By the way, I want to marry.'
There's a transition for you! Ah! you reckoned on a bickering!
You do not know that I am an old coward. What do you say to that?
You are vexed? You did not expect to find your grandfather still
more foolish than yourself, you are wasting the discourse which
you meant to bestow upon me, Mr. Lawyer, and that's vexatious.
Well, so much the worse, rage away. I'll do whatever you wish,
and that cuts you short, imbecile! Listen. I have made my inquiries,
I'm cunning too; she is charming, she is discreet, it is not true
about the lancer, she has made heaps of lint, she's a jewel,
she adores you, if you had died, there would have been three of us,
her coffin would have accompanied mine. I have had an idea,
ever since you have been better, of simply planting her at your bedside,
but it is only in romances that young girls are brought to the bedsides
of handsome young wounded men who interest them. It is not done.
What would your aunt have said to it? You were nude three quarters
of the time, my good fellow. Ask Nicolette, who has not left you
for a moment, if there was any possibility of having a woman here.
And then, what would the doctor have said? A pretty girl does
not cure a man of fever. In short, it's all right, let us say no
more about it, all's said, all's done, it's all settled, take her.
Such is my ferocity. You see, I perceived that you did not love me.
I said to myself: `Here now, I have my little Cosette right under
my hand, I'm going to give her to him, he will be obliged to love
me a little then, or he must tell the reason why.' Ah! so you
thought that the old man was going to storm, to put on a big voice,
to shout no, and to lift his cane at all that aurora. Not a bit
of it. Cosette, so be it; love, so be it; I ask nothing better.
Pray take the trouble of getting married, sir. Be happy, my well-beloved

That said, the old man burst forth into sobs.

And he seized Marius' head, and pressed it with both arms against
his breast, and both fell to weeping. This is one of the forms
of supreme happiness.

"Father!" cried Marius.

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

An ineffable moment ensued. They were choking and could not speak.

At length the old man stammered:

"Come! his mouth is unstopped at last. He has said: `Father' to me."

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

"But, father, now that I am quite well, it seems to me that I
might see her."

"Agreed again, you shall see her to-morrow."



"Why not to-day?"

"Well, to-day then. Let it be to-day. You have called me `father'
three times, and it is worth it. I will attend to it. She shall
be brought hither. Agreed, I tell you. It has already been put
into verse. This is the ending of the elegy of the `Jeune Malade'
by Andre Chenier, by Andre Chenier whose throat was cut by the ras .
. . by the giants of '93."

M. Gillenormand fancied that he detected a faint frown on the part
of Marius, who, in truth, as we must admit, was no longer listening
to him, and who was thinking far more of Cosette than of 1793.

The grandfather, trembling at having so inopportunely introduced
Andre Chenier, resumed precipitately:

"Cut his throat is not the word. The fact is that the great
revolutionary geniuses, who were not malicious, that is incontestable,
who were heroes, pardi! found that Andre Chenier embarrassed
them somewhat, and they had him guillot . . . that is to say,
those great men on the 7th of Thermidor, besought Andre Chenier,
in the interests of public safety, to be so good as to go . . ."

M. Gillenormand, clutched by the throat by his own phrase,
could not proceed. Being able neither to finish it nor to retract it,
while his daughter arranged the pillow behind Marius, who was
overwhelmed with so many emotions, the old man rushed headlong,
with as much rapidity as his age permitted, from the bed-chamber, shut
the door behind him, and, purple, choking and foaming at the mouth,
his eyes starting from his head, he found himself nose to nose
with honest Basque, who was blacking boots in the anteroom.
He seized Basque by the collar, and shouted full in his face
in fury:--"By the hundred thousand Javottes of the devil,
those ruffians did assassinate him!"

"Who, sir?"

"Andre Chenier!"

"Yes, sir," said Basque in alarm.



Cosette and Marius beheld each other once more.

What that interview was like we decline to say. There are things
which one must not attempt to depict; the sun is one of them.

The entire family, including Basque and Nicolette, were assembled
in Marius' chamber at the moment when Cosette entered it.

Precisely at that moment, the grandfather was on the point of blowing
his nose; he stopped short, holding his nose in his handkerchief,
and gazing over it at Cosette.

She appeared on the threshold; it seemed to him that she was
surrounded by a glory.

"Adorable!" he exclaimed.

Then he blew his nose noisily.

Cosette was intoxicated, delighted, frightened, in heaven.
She was as thoroughly alarmed as any one can be by happiness.
She stammered all pale, yet flushed, she wanted to fling herself
into Marius' arms, and dared not. Ashamed of loving in the presence
of all these people. People are pitiless towards happy lovers;
they remain when the latter most desire to be left alone. Lovers have
no need of any people whatever.

With Cosette, and behind her, there had entered a man with white hair
who was grave yet smiling, though with a vague and heartrending smile.
It was "Monsieur Fauchelevent"; it was Jean Valjean.

He was very well dressed, as the porter had said, entirely in black,
in perfectly new garments, and with a white cravat.

The porter was a thousand leagues from recognizing in this
correct bourgeois, in this probable notary, the fear-inspiring
bearer of the corpse, who had sprung up at his door on the night
of the 7th of June, tattered, muddy, hideous, haggard, his face
masked in blood and mire, supporting in his arms the fainting Marius;
still, his porter's scent was aroused. When M. Fauchelevent
arrived with Cosette, the porter had not been able to refrain
from communicating to his wife this aside: "I don't know
why it is, but I can't help fancying that I've seen that face before."

M. Fauchelevent in Marius' chamber, remained apart near the door.
He had under his arm, a package which bore considerable resemblance
to an octavo volume enveloped in paper. The enveloping paper was
of a greenish hue, and appeared to be mouldy.

"Does the gentleman always have books like that under his arm?"
Mademoiselle Gillenormand, who did not like books, demanded in a low
tone of Nicolette.

"Well," retorted M. Gillenormand, who had overheard her, in the
same tone, "he's a learned man. What then? Is that his fault?
Monsieur Boulard, one of my acquaintances, never walked out without
a book under his arm either, and he always had some old volume
hugged to his heart like that."

And, with a bow, he said aloud:

"Monsieur Tranchelevent . . ."

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

"Monsieur Tranchelevent, I have the honor of asking you, on behalf
of my grandson, Baron Marius Pontmercy, for the hand of Mademoiselle."

Monsieur Tranchelevent bowed.

"That's settled," said the grandfather.

And, turning to Marius and Cosette, with both arms extended
in blessing, he cried:

"Permission to adore each other!"

They did not require him to repeat it twice. So much the worse!
the chirping began. They talked low. Marius, resting on his elbow
on his reclining chair, Cosette standing beside him. "Oh, heavens!"
murmured Cosette, "I see you once again! it is thou! it is you!
The idea of going and fighting like that! But why? It is horrible.
I have been dead for four months. Oh! how wicked it was of you
to go to that battle! What had I done to you? I pardon you,
but you will never do it again. A little while ago, when they
came to tell us to come to you, I still thought that I was about
to die, but it was from joy. I was so sad! I have not taken
the time to dress myself, I must frighten people with my looks!
What will your relatives say to see me in a crumpled collar?
Do speak! You let me do all the talking. We are still in the Rue
de l'Homme Arme. It seems that your shoulder was terrible.
They told me that you could put your fist in it. And then, it seems
that they cut your flesh with the scissors. That is frightful.
I have cried till I have no eyes left. It is queer that a person
can suffer like that. Your grandfather has a very kindly air.
Don't disturb yourself, don't rise on your elbow, you will
injure yourself. Oh! how happy I am! So our unhappiness is over!
I am quite foolish. I had things to say to you, and I no longer
know in the least what they were. Do you still love me? We live
in the Rue de l'Homme Arme. There is no garden. I made lint all
the time; stay, sir, look, it is your fault, I have a callous on my

"Angel!" said Marius.

Angel is the only word in the language which cannot be worn out.
No other word could resist the merciless use which lovers make
of it.

Then as there were spectators, they paused and said not a word more,
contenting themselves with softly touching each other's hands.

M. Gillenormand turned towards those who were in the room and cried:

"Talk loud, the rest of you. Make a noise, you people behind
the scenes. Come, a little uproar, the deuce! so that the children
can chatter at their ease."

And, approaching Marius and Cosette, he said to them in a very
low voice:

"Call each other thou. Don't stand on ceremony."

Aunt Gillenormand looked on in amazement at this irruption
of light in her elderly household. There was nothing aggressive
about this amazement; it was not the least in the world like the
scandalized and envious glance of an owl at two turtle-doves, it
was the stupid eye of a poor innocent seven and fifty years of age;
it was a life which had been a failure gazing at that triumph, love.

"Mademoiselle Gillenormand senior," said her father to her,
"I told you that this is what would happen to you."

He remained silent for a moment, and then added:

"Look at the happiness of others."

Then he turned to Cosette.

"How pretty she is! how pretty she is! She's a Greuze.
So you are going to have that all to yourself, you scamp!
Ah! my rogue, you are getting off nicely with me, you are happy;
if I were not fifteen years too old, we would fight with swords
to see which of us should have her. Come now! I am in love
with you, mademoiselle. It's perfectly simple. It is your right.
You are in the right. Ah! what a sweet, charming little wedding
this will make! Our parish is Saint-Denis du Saint Sacrament,
but I will get a dispensation so that you can be married at
Saint-Paul. The church is better. It was built by the Jesuits.
It is more coquettish. It is opposite the fountain of Cardinal
de Birague. The masterpiece of Jesuit architecture is at Namur.
It is called Saint-Loup. You must go there after you are married.
It is worth the journey. Mademoiselle, I am quite of your mind,
I think girls ought to marry; that is what they are made for.
There is a certain Sainte-Catherine whom I should always like
to see uncoiffed.[62] It's a fine thing to remain a spinster,
but it is chilly. The Bible says: Multiply. In order to save
the people, Jeanne d'Arc is needed; but in order to make people,
what is needed is Mother Goose. So, marry, my beauties. I really
do not see the use in remaining a spinster! I know that they
have their chapel apart in the church, and that they fall back
on the Society of the Virgin; but, sapristi, a handsome husband,
a fine fellow, and at the expiration of a year, a big, blond brat
who nurses lustily, and who has fine rolls of fat on his thighs,
and who musses up your breast in handfuls with his little rosy paws,
laughing the while like the dawn,--that's better than holding a candle
at vespers, and chanting Turris eburnea!"

[62] In allusion to the expression, coiffer Sainte-Catherine, "to
remain unmarried."

The grandfather executed a pirouette on his eighty-year-old heels,
and began to talk again like a spring that has broken loose once more:

"Ainsi, bornant les cours de tes revasseries,
Alcippe, il est donc vrai, dans peu tu te maries."[63]

[63] "Thus, hemming in the course of thy musings, Alcippus, it is
true that thou wilt wed ere long."

"By the way!"

"What is it, father?"

"Have not you an intimate friend?"

"Yes, Courfeyrac."

"What has become of him?"

"He is dead."

"That is good."

He seated himself near them, made Cosette sit down, and took their
four hands in his aged and wrinkled hands:

"She is exquisite, this darling. She's a masterpiece, this Cosette!
She is a very little girl and a very great lady. She will only be
a Baroness, which is a come down for her; she was born a Marquise.
What eyelashes she has! Get it well fixed in your noddles,
my children, that you are in the true road. Love each other.
Be foolish about it. Love is the folly of men and the wit of God.
Adore each other. Only," he added, suddenly becoming gloomy,
"what a misfortune! It has just occurred to me! More than half
of what I possess is swallowed up in an annuity; so long as I live,
it will not matter, but after my death, a score of years hence, ah! my
poor children, you will not have a sou! Your beautiful white hands,
Madame la Baronne, will do the devil the honor of pulling him by the

[64] Tirer le diable par la queue, "to live from hand to mouth."

At this point they heard a grave and tranquil voice say:

"Mademoiselle Euphrasie Fauchelevent possesses six hundred
thousand francs."

It was the voice of Jean Valjean.

So far he had not uttered a single word, no one seemed to be aware
that he was there, and he had remained standing erect and motionless,
behind all these happy people.

"What has Mademoiselle Euphrasie to do with the question?"
inquired the startled grandfather.

"I am she," replied Cosette.

"Six hundred thousand francs?" resumed M. Gillenormand.

"Minus fourteen or fifteen thousand francs, possibly," said Jean Valjean.

And he laid on the table the package which Mademoiselle Gillenormand
had mistaken for a book.

Jean Valjean himself opened the package; it was a bundle of bank-notes.
They were turned over and counted. There were five hundred notes
for a thousand francs each, and one hundred and sixty-eight
of five hundred. In all, five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs.

"This is a fine book," said M. Gillenormand.

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

"This arranges things well, does it not, Mademoiselle Gillenormand
senior?" said the grandfather. "That devil of a Marius has ferreted
out the nest of a millionaire grisette in his tree of dreams!
Just trust to the love affairs of young folks now, will you!
Students find studentesses with six hundred thousand francs.
Cherubino works better than Rothschild."

"Five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs!" repeated Mademoiselle
Gillenormand, in a low tone. "Five hundred and eighty-four!
one might as well say six hundred thousand!"

As for Marius and Cosette, they were gazing at each other while this
was going on; they hardly heeded this detail.



The reader has, no doubt, understood, without necessitating a
lengthy explanation, that Jean Valjean, after the Champmathieu affair,
had been able, thanks to his first escape of a few days' duration, to come
to Paris and to withdraw in season, from the hands of Laffitte,
the sum earned by him, under the name of Monsieur Madeleine,
at Montreuil-sur-Mer; and that fearing that he might be recaptured,--
which eventually happened--he had buried and hidden that sum in the
forest of Montfermeil, in the locality known as the Blaru-bottom.
The sum, six hundred and thirty thousand francs, all in bank-bills,
was not very bulky, and was contained in a box; only, in order
to preserve the box from dampness, he had placed it in a coffer
filled with chestnut shavings. In the same coffer he had placed his
other treasures, the Bishop's candlesticks. It will be remembered
that he had carried off the candlesticks when he made his escape
from Montreuil-sur-Mer. The man seen one evening for the first time
by Boulatruelle, was Jean Valjean. Later on, every time that Jean
Valjean needed money, he went to get it in the Blaru-bottom. Hence
the absences which we have mentioned. He had a pickaxe somewhere
in the heather, in a hiding-place known to himself alone. When he
beheld Marius convalescent, feeling that the hour was at hand, when that
money might prove of service, he had gone to get it; it was he again,
whom Boulatruelle had seen in the woods, but on this occasion, in the
morning instead of in the evening. Boulatreulle inherited his pickaxe.

The actual sum was five hundred and eighty-four thousand,
five hundred francs. Jean Valjean withdrew the five hundred
francs for himself.--"We shall see hereafter," he thought.

The difference between that sum and the six hundred and thirty
thousand francs withdrawn from Laffitte represented his expenditure
in ten years, from 1823 to 1833. The five years of his stay
in the convent had cost only five thousand francs.

Jean Valjean set the two candlesticks on the chimney-piece,
where they glittered to the great admiration of Toussaint.

Moreover, Jean Valjean knew that he was delivered from Javert.
The story had been told in his presence, and he had verified the fact
in the Moniteur, how a police inspector named Javert had been found
drowned under a boat belonging to some laundresses, between the Pont
au Change and the Pont-Neuf, and that a writing left by this man,
otherwise irreproachable and highly esteemed by his superiors,
pointed to a fit of mental aberration and a suicide.--"In fact,"
thought Jean Valjean, "since he left me at liberty, once having got me
in his power, he must have been already mad."



Everything was made ready for the wedding. The doctor,
on being consulted, declared that it might take place in February.
It was then December. A few ravishing weeks of perfect happiness passed.

The grandfather was not the least happy of them all. He remained
for a quarter of an hour at a time gazing at Cosette.

"The wonderful, beautiful girl!" he exclaimed. "And she has so sweet
and good an air! she is, without exception, the most charming girl
that I have ever seen in my life. Later on, she'll have virtues
with an odor of violets. How graceful! one cannot live otherwise
than nobly with such a creature. Marius, my boy, you are a Baron,
you are rich, don't go to pettifogging, I beg of you."

Cosette and Marius had passed abruptly from the sepulchre to paradise.
The transition had not been softened, and they would have been stunned,
had they not been dazzled by it.

"Do you understand anything about it?" said Marius to Cosette.

"No," replied Cosette, "but it seems to me that the good God
is caring for us."

Jean Valjean did everything, smoothed away every difficulty,
arranged everything, made everything easy. He hastened towards
Cosette's happiness with as much ardor, and, apparently with
as much joy, as Cosette herself.

As he had been a mayor, he understood how to solve that delicate
problem, with the secret of which he alone was acquainted,
Cosette's civil status. If he were to announce her origin bluntly,
it might prevent the marriage, who knows? He extricated
Cosette from all difficulties. He concocted for her a family
of dead people, a sure means of not encountering any objections.
Cosette was the only scion of an extinct family; Cosette was not
his own daughter, but the daughter of the other Fauchelevent.
Two brothers Fauchelevent had been gardeners to the convent of
the Petit-Picpus. Inquiry was made at that convent; the very best
information and the most respectable references abounded; the good nuns,
not very apt and but little inclined to fathom questions of paternity,
and not attaching any importance to the matter, had never understood
exactly of which of the two Fauchelevents Cosette was the daughter.
They said what was wanted and they said it with zeal. An acte de
notoriete was drawn up. Cosette became in the eyes of the law,
Mademoiselle Euphrasie Fauchelevent. She was declared an orphan,
both father and mother being dead. Jean Valjean so arranged it
that he was appointed, under the name of Fauchelevent, as Cosette's
guardian, with M. Gillenormand as supervising guardian over him.

As for the five hundred and eighty thousand francs, they constituted
a legacy bequeathed to Cosette by a dead person, who desired
to remain unknown. The original legacy had consisted of five
hundred and ninety-four thousand francs; but ten thousand francs
had been expended on the education of Mademoiselle Euphrasie,
five thousand francs of that amount having been paid to the convent.
This legacy, deposited in the hands of a third party, was to be turned
over to Cosette at her majority, or at the date of her marriage.
This, taken as a whole, was very acceptable, as the reader will perceive,
especially when the sum due was half a million. There were some
peculiarities here and there, it is true, but they were not noticed;
one of the interested parties had his eyes blindfolded by love,
the others by the six hundred thousand francs.

Cosette learned that she was not the daughter of that old man
whom she had so long called father. He was merely a kinsman;
another Fauchelevent was her real father. At any other time this
would have broken her heart. But at the ineffable moment which she
was then passing through, it cast but a slight shadow, a faint cloud,
and she was so full of joy that the cloud did not last long.
She had Marius. The young man arrived, the old man was effaced;
such is life.

And then, Cosette had, for long years, been habituated to seeing
enigmas around her; every being who has had a mysterious childhood
is always prepared for certain renunciations.

Nevertheless, she continued to call Jean Valjean: Father.

Cosette, happy as the angels, was enthusiastic over Father Gillenormand.
It is true that he overwhelmed her with gallant compliments
and presents. While Jean Valjean was building up for Cosette a normal
situation in society and an unassailable status, M. Gillenormand
was superintending the basket of wedding gifts. Nothing so
amused him as being magnificent. He had given to Cosette a robe
of Binche guipure which had descended to him from his own grandmother.

"These fashions come up again," said he, "ancient things are
the rage, and the young women of my old age dress like the old
women of my childhood."

He rifled his respectable chests of drawers in Coromandel lacquer,
with swelling fronts, which had not been opened for years.--"Let us
hear the confession of these dowagers," he said, "let us see what they
have in their paunches." He noisily violated the pot-bellied drawers
of all his wives, of all his mistresses and of all his grandmothers.
Pekins, damasks, lampas, painted moires, robes of shot gros
de Tours, India kerchiefs embroidered in gold that could be washed,
dauphines without a right or wrong side, in the piece, Genoa and
Alencon point lace, parures in antique goldsmith's work, ivory bon-bon
boxes ornamented with microscopic battles, gewgaws and ribbons--
he lavished everything on Cosette. Cosette, amazed, desperately in
love with Marius, and wild with gratitude towards M. Gillenormand,
dreamed of a happiness without limit clothed in satin and velvet.
Her wedding basket seemed to her to be upheld by seraphim.
Her soul flew out into the azure depths, with wings of Mechlin lace.

The intoxication of the lovers was only equalled, as we have
already said, by the ecstasy of the grandfather. A sort of flourish
of trumpets went on in the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire.

Every morning, a fresh offering of bric-a-brac from the grandfather
to Cosette. All possible knickknacks glittered around her.

One day Marius, who was fond of talking gravely in the midst
of his bliss, said, apropos of I know not what incident:

"The men of the revolution are so great, that they have the prestige
of the ages, like Cato and like Phocion, and each one of them
seems to me an antique memory."

"Moire antique!" exclaimed the old gentleman. "Thanks, Marius.
That is precisely the idea of which I was in search."

And on the following day, a magnificent dress of tea-rose colored
moire antique was added to Cosette's wedding presents.

From these fripperies, the grandfather extracted a bit of wisdom.

"Love is all very well; but there must be something else to go
with it. The useless must be mingled with happiness. Happiness is
only the necessary. Season that enormously with the superfluous
for me. A palace and her heart. Her heart and the Louvre.
Her heart and the grand waterworks of Versailles. Give me my
shepherdess and try to make her a duchess. Fetch me Phyllis crowned
with corn-flowers, and add a hundred thousand francs income.
Open for me a bucolic perspective as far as you can see, beneath a
marble colonnade. I consent to the bucolic and also to the fairy
spectacle of marble and gold. Dry happiness resembles dry bread.
One eats, but one does not dine. I want the superfluous,
the useless, the extravagant, excess, that which serves no purpose.
I remember to have seen, in the Cathedral of Strasburg, a clock,
as tall as a three-story house which marked the hours, which had
the kindness to indicate the hour, but which had not the air of being
made for that; and which, after having struck midday, or midnight,--
midday, the hour of the sun, or midnight, the hour of love,--
or any other hour that you like, gave you the moon and the stars,
the earth and the sea, birds and fishes, Phoebus and Phoebe, and a
host of things which emerged from a niche, and the twelve apostles,
and the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and Eponine, and Sabinus,
and a throng of little gilded goodmen, who played on the trumpet
to boot. Without reckoning delicious chimes which it sprinkled
through the air, on every occasion, without any one's knowing why.
Is a petty bald clock-face which merely tells the hour equal to that?
For my part, I am of the opinion of the big clock of Strasburg,
and I prefer it to the cuckoo clock from the Black Forest."

M. Gillenormand talked nonsense in connection with the wedding,
and all the fripperies of the eighteenth century passed pell-mell
through his dithyrambs.

"You are ignorant of the art of festivals. You do not know
how to organize a day of enjoyment in this age," he exclaimed.
"Your nineteenth century is weak. It lacks excess. It ignores
the rich, it ignores the noble. In everything it is clean-shaven.
Your third estate is insipid, colorless, odorless, and shapeless.
The dreams of your bourgeois who set up, as they express it:
a pretty boudoir freshly decorated, violet, ebony and calico.
Make way! Make way! the Sieur Curmudgeon is marrying Mademoiselle
Clutch-penny. Sumptuousness and splendor. A louis d'or has been
stuck to a candle. There's the epoch for you. My demand is that I
may flee from it beyond the Sarmatians. Ah! in 1787, I predict
that all was lost, from the day when I beheld the Duc de Rohan,
Prince de Leon, Duc de Chabot, Duc de Montbazon, Marquis de Sonbise,
Vicomte de Thouars, peer of France, go to Longchamps in a tapecu!
That has borne its fruits. In this century, men attend to business,
they gamble on 'Change, they win money, they are stingy. People take
care of their surfaces and varnish them; every one is dressed as though
just out of a band-box, washed, soaped, scraped, shaved, combed, waked,
smoothed, rubbed, brushed, cleaned on the outside, irreproachable,
polished as a pebble, discreet, neat, and at the same time,
death of my life, in the depths of their consciences they have
dung-heaps and cesspools that are enough to make a cow-herd who blows
his nose in his fingers, recoil. I grant to this age the device:
`Dirty Cleanliness.' Don't be vexed, Marius, give me permission
to speak; I say no evil of the people as you see, I am always
harping on your people, but do look favorably on my dealing a bit
of a slap to the bourgeoisie. I belong to it. He who loves well
lashes well. Thereupon, I say plainly, that now-a-days people marry,
but that they no longer know how to marry. Ah! it is true, I regret
the grace of the ancient manners. I regret everything about them,
their elegance, their chivalry, those courteous and delicate ways,
that joyous luxury which every one possessed, music forming part of
the wedding, a symphony above stairs, a beating of drums below stairs,
the dances, the joyous faces round the table, the fine-spun
gallant compliments, the songs, the fireworks, the frank laughter,
the devil's own row, the huge knots of ribbon. I regret the
bride's garter. The bride's garter is cousin to the girdle of Venus.
On what does the war of Troy turn? On Helen's garter, parbleu!
Why did they fight, why did Diomed the divine break over the head
of Meriones that great brazen helmet of ten points? why did Achilles
and Hector hew each other up with vast blows of their lances?
Because Helen allowed Paris to take her garter. With Cosette's garter,
Homer would construct the Iliad. He would put in his poem,
a loquacious old fellow, like me, and he would call him Nestor.
My friends, in bygone days, in those amiable days of yore,
people married wisely; they had a good contract, and then they
had a good carouse. As soon as Cujas had taken his departure,
Gamacho entered. But, in sooth! the stomach is an agreeable beast
which demands its due, and which wants to have its wedding also.
People supped well, and had at table a beautiful neighbor without
a guimpe so that her throat was only moderately concealed.
Oh! the large laughing mouths, and how gay we were in those days!
youth was a bouquet; every young man terminated in a branch of
lilacs or a tuft of roses; whether he was a shepherd or a warrior;
and if, by chance, one was a captain of dragoons, one found means
to call oneself Florian. People thought much of looking well.
They embroidered and tinted themselves. A bourgeois had the air
of a flower, a Marquis had the air of a precious stone. People had
no straps to their boots, they had no boots. They were spruce,
shining, waved, lustrous, fluttering, dainty, coquettish, which did not
at all prevent their wearing swords by their sides. The humming-bird
has beak and claws. That was the day of the Galland Indies. One of
the sides of that century was delicate, the other was magnificent;
and by the green cabbages! people amused themselves. To-day, people
are serious. The bourgeois is avaricious, the bourgeoise is a prude;
your century is unfortunate. People would drive away the Graces
as being too low in the neck. Alas! beauty is concealed as though
it were ugliness. Since the revolution, everything, including the
ballet-dancers, has had its trousers; a mountebank dancer must be grave;
your rigadoons are doctrinarian. It is necessary to be majestic.
People would be greatly annoyed if they did not carry their chins
in their cravats. The ideal of an urchin of twenty when he marries,
is to resemble M. Royer-Collard. And do you know what one
arrives at with that majesty? at being petty. Learn this:
joy is not only joyous; it is great. But be in love gayly then,
what the deuce! marry, when you marry, with fever and giddiness,
and tumult, and the uproar of happiness! Be grave in church,
well and good. But, as soon as the mass is finished, sarpejou! you
must make a dream whirl around the bride. A marriage should be
royal and chimerical; it should promenade its ceremony from the
cathedral of Rheims to the pagoda of Chanteloup. I have a horror
of a paltry wedding. Ventregoulette! be in Olympus for that one day,
at least. Be one of the gods. Ah! people might be sylphs.
Games and Laughter, argiraspides; they are stupids. My friends,
every recently made bridegroom ought to be Prince Aldobrandini.
Profit by that unique minute in life to soar away to the empyrean
with the swans and the eagles, even if you do have to fall back
on the morrow into the bourgeoisie of the frogs. Don't economize
on the nuptials, do not prune them of their splendors; don't scrimp
on the day when you beam. The wedding is not the housekeeping.
Oh! if I were to carry out my fancy, it would be gallant, violins would
be heard under the trees. Here is my programme: sky-blue and silver.
I would mingle with the festival the rural divinities, I would
convoke the Dryads and the Nereids. The nuptials of Amphitrite,
a rosy cloud, nymphs with well dressed locks and entirely naked,
an Academician offering quatrains to the goddess, a chariot drawn by
marine monsters.

"Triton trottait devant, et tirait de sa conque
Des sons si ravissants qu'il ravissait quiconque!"[65]

--there's a festive programme, there's a good one, or else I know
nothing of such matters, deuce take it!"

[65] "Triton trotted on before, and drew from his conch-shell
sounds so ravishing that he delighted everyone!"

While the grandfather, in full lyrical effusion, was listening
to himself, Cosette and Marius grew intoxicated as they gazed
freely at each other.

Aunt Gillenormand surveyed all this with her imperturbable placidity.
Within the last five or six months she had experienced a certain
amount of emotions. Marius returned, Marius brought back bleeding,
Marius brought back from a barricade, Marius dead, then living,
Marius reconciled, Marius betrothed, Marius wedding a poor girl,
Marius wedding a millionairess. The six hundred thousand francs
had been her last surprise. Then, her indifference of a girl taking
her first communion returned to her. She went regularly to service,
told her beads, read her euchology, mumbled Aves in one corner
of the house, while I love you was being whispered in the other,
and she beheld Marius and Cosette in a vague way, like two shadows.
The shadow was herself.

There is a certain state of inert asceticism in which the soul,
neutralized by torpor, a stranger to that which may be designated as the
business of living, receives no impressions, either human, or pleasant
or painful, with the exception of earthquakes and catastrophes.
This devotion, as Father Gillenormand said to his daughter,
corresponds to a cold in the head. You smell nothing of life.
Neither any bad, nor any good odor.

Moreover, the six hundred thousand francs had settled the elderly
spinster's indecision. Her father had acquired the habit of taking
her so little into account, that he had not consulted her in the
matter of consent to Marius' marriage. He had acted impetuously,
according to his wont, having, a despot-turned slave, but a
single thought,--to satisfy Marius. As for the aunt,--it had not
even occurred to him that the aunt existed, and that she could have
an opinion of her own, and, sheep as she was, this had vexed her.
Somewhat resentful in her inmost soul, but impassible externally,
she had said to herself: "My father has settled the question of
the marriage without reference to me; I shall settle the question
of the inheritance without consulting him." She was rich, in fact,
and her father was not. She had reserved her decision on this point.
It is probable that, had the match been a poor one, she would have
left him poor. "So much the worse for my nephew! he is wedding
a beggar, let him be a beggar himself!" But Cosette's half-million
pleased the aunt, and altered her inward situation so far as this
pair of lovers were concerned. One owes some consideration to six
hundred thousand francs, and it was evident that she could not do
otherwise than leave her fortune to these young people, since they
did not need it.

It was arranged that the couple should live with the grandfather--
M. Gillenormand insisted on resigning to them his chamber,
the finest in the house. "That will make me young again," he said.
"It's an old plan of mine. I have always entertained the idea of
having a wedding in my chamber."

He furnished this chamber with a multitude of elegant trifles.
He had the ceiling and walls hung with an extraordinary stuff,
which he had by him in the piece, and which he believed to have
emanated from Utrecht with a buttercup-colored satin ground, covered
with velvet auricula blossoms.--"It was with that stuff," said he,
"that the bed of the Duchesse d'Anville at la Roche-Guyon was draped."--
On the chimney-piece, he set a little figure in Saxe porcelain,
carrying a muff against her nude stomach.

M. Gillenormand's library became the lawyer's study, which Marius needed;
a study, it will be remembered, being required by the council
of the order.



The lovers saw each other every day. Cosette came with
M. Fauchelevent.--"This is reversing things," said Mademoiselle
Gillenormand, "to have the bride come to the house to do the
courting like this." But Marius' convalescence had caused the
habit to become established, and the arm-chairs of the Rue des
Filles-du-Calvaire, better adapted to interviews than the straw
chairs of the Rue de l'Homme Arme, had rooted it. Marius and
M. Fauchelevent saw each other, but did not address each other.
It seemed as though this had been agreed upon. Every girl needs
a chaperon. Cosette could not have come without M. Fauchelevent.
In Marius' eyes, M. Fauchelevent was the condition attached to Cosette.
He accepted it. By dint of discussing political matters, vaguely and
without precision, from the point of view of the general amelioration
of the fate of all men, they came to say a little more than "yes"
and "no." Once, on the subject of education, which Marius wished
to have free and obligatory, multiplied under all forms lavished
on every one, like the air and the sun in a word, respirable for the
entire population, they were in unison, and they almost conversed.
M. Fauchelevent talked well, and even with a certain loftiness
of language--still he lacked something indescribable. M. Fauchelevent
possessed something less and also something more, than a man of the world.

Marius, inwardly, and in the depths of his thought, surrounded with all
sorts of mute questions this M. Fauchelevent, who was to him simply
benevolent and cold. There were moments when doubts as to his own
recollections occurred to him. There was a void in his memory,
a black spot, an abyss excavated by four months of agony.--Many things
had been lost therein. He had come to the point of asking himself
whether it were really a fact that he had seen M. Fauchelevent,
so serious and so calm a man, in the barricade.

This was not, however, the only stupor which the apparitions
and the disappearances of the past had left in his mind. It must
not be supposed that he was delivered from all those obsessions
of the memory which force us, even when happy, even when satisfied,
to glance sadly behind us. The head which does not turn backwards
towards horizons that have vanished contains neither thought
nor love. At times, Marius clasped his face between his hands,
and the vague and tumultuous past traversed the twilight which
reigned in his brain. Again he beheld Mabeuf fall, he heard
Gavroche singing amid the grape-shot, he felt beneath his lips
the cold brow of Eponine; Enjolras, Courfeyrac, Jean Prouvaire,
Combeferre, Bossuet, Grantaire, all his friends rose erect
before him, then dispersed into thin air. Were all those dear,
sorrowful, valiant, charming or tragic beings merely dreams? had they
actually existed? The revolt had enveloped everything in its smoke.
These great fevers create great dreams. He questioned himself;
he felt himself; all these vanished realities made him dizzy.
Where were they all then? was it really true that all were dead?
A fall into the shadows had carried off all except himself.
It all seemed to him to have disappeared as though behind the curtain
of a theatre. There are curtains like this which drop in life.
God passes on to the following act.

And he himself--was he actually the same man? He, the poor man,
was rich; he, the abandoned, had a family; he, the despairing,
was to marry Cosette. It seemed to him that he had traversed a tomb,
and that he had entered into it black and had emerged from it white,
and in that tomb the others had remained. At certain moments,
all these beings of the past, returned and present, formed a circle
around him, and overshadowed him; then he thought of Cosette,
and recovered his serenity; but nothing less than this felicity could
have sufficed to efface that catastrophe.

M. Fauchelevent almost occupied a place among these vanished beings.
Marius hesitated to believe that the Fauchelevent of the barricade
was the same as this Fauchelevent in flesh and blood, sitting so
gravely beside Cosette. The first was, probably, one of those
nightmares occasioned and brought back by his hours of delirium.
However, the natures of both men were rigid, no question from Marius
to M. Fauchelevent was possible. Such an idea had not even occurred
to him. We have already indicated this characteristic detail.

Two men who have a secret in common, and who, by a sort of
tacit agreement, exchange not a word on the subject, are less
rare than is commonly supposed.

Once only, did Marius make the attempt. He introduced into the
conversation the Rue de la Chanvrerie, and, turning to M. Fauchelevent,
he said to him:

"Of course, you are acquainted with that street?"

"What street?"

"The Rue de la Chanvrerie."

"I have no idea of the name of that street," replied M. Fauchelevent,
in the most natural manner in the world.

The response which bore upon the name of the street and not upon
the street itself, appeared to Marius to be more conclusive than it
really was.

"Decidedly," thought he, "I have been dreaming. I have been
subject to a hallucination. It was some one who resembled him.
M. Fauchelevent was not there."'



Marius' enchantment, great as it was, could not efface from his
mind other pre-occupations.

While the wedding was in preparation, and while awaiting the date
fixed upon, he caused difficult and scrupulous retrospective
researches to be made.

He owed gratitude in various quarters;
he owed it on his father's account, he owed it on his own.

There was Thenardier; there
was the unknown man who had brought him, Marius, back to M. Gillenormand.

Marius endeavored to find these two men, not intending to marry,
to be happy, and to forget them, and fearing that, were these debts
of gratitude not discharged, they would leave a shadow on his life,
which promised so brightly for the future.

It was impossible for him to leave all these arrears of suffering
behind him, and he wished, before entering joyously into the future,
to obtain a quittance from the past.

That Thenardier was a villain detracted nothing from the fact
that he had saved Colonel Pontmercy. Thenardier was a ruffian
in the eyes of all the world except Marius.

And Marius, ignorant of the real scene in the battle field
of Waterloo, was not aware of the peculiar detail, that his father,
so far as Thenardier was concerned was in the strange position
of being indebted to the latter for his life, without being
indebted to him for any gratitude.

None of the various agents whom Marius employed succeeded in
discovering any trace of Thenardier. Obliteration appeared to be
complete in that quarter. Madame Thenardier had died in prison
pending the trial. Thenardier and his daughter Azelma, the only two
remaining of that lamentable group, had plunged back into the gloom.
The gulf of the social unknown had silently closed above those beings.
On the surface there was not visible so much as that quiver,
that trembling, those obscure concentric circles which announce
that something has fallen in, and that the plummet may be dropped.

Madame Thenardier being dead, Boulatruelle being eliminated
from the case, Claquesous having disappeared, the principal
persons accused having escaped from prison, the trial connected
with the ambush in the Gorbeau house had come to nothing.

That affair had remained rather obscure. The bench of Assizes had
been obliged to content themselves with two subordinates. Panchaud,
alias Printanier, alias Bigrenaille, and Demi-Liard, alias Deux-Milliards,
who had been inconsistently condemned, after a hearing of both sides
of the case, to ten years in the galleys. Hard labor for life had been
the sentence pronounced against the escaped and contumacious accomplices.

Thenardier, the head and leader, had been, through contumacy,
likewise condemned to death.

This sentence was the only information remaining about Thenardier,
casting upon that buried name its sinister light like a candle beside
a bier.

Moreover, by thrusting Thenardier back into the very remotest depths,
through a fear of being re-captured, this sentence added to the
density of the shadows which enveloped this man.

As for the other person, as for the unknown man who had saved Marius,
the researches were at first to some extent successful, then came
to an abrupt conclusion. They succeeded in finding the carriage
which had brought Marius to the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire on
the evening of the 6th of June.

The coachman declared that, on the 6th of June, in obedience
to the commands of a police-agent, he had stood from three o'clock
in the afternoon until nightfall on the Quai des Champs-Elysees,
above the outlet of the Grand Sewer; that, towards nine o'clock
in the evening, the grating of the sewer, which abuts on the bank
of the river, had opened; that a man had emerged therefrom, bearing on
his shoulders another man, who seemed to be dead; that the agent,
who was on the watch at that point, had arrested the living man and
had seized the dead man; that, at the order of the police-agent, he,
the coachman, had taken "all those folks" into his carriage;
that they had first driven to the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire;
that they had there deposited the dead man; that the dead man was
Monsieur Marius, and that he, the coachman, recognized him perfectly,
although he was alive "this time"; that afterwards, they had
entered the vehicle again, that he had whipped up his horses;
a few paces from the gate of the Archives, they had called to him
to halt; that there, in the street, they had paid him and left him,
and that the police-agent had led the other man away; that he knew
nothing more; that the night had been very dark.

Marius, as we have said, recalled nothing. He only remembered
that he had been seized from behind by an energetic hand at
the moment when he was falling backwards into the barricade;
then, everything vanished so far as he was concerned.

He had only regained consciousness at M. Gillenormand's.

He was lost in conjectures.

He could not doubt his own identity. Still, how had it come
to pass that, having fallen in the Rue de la Chanvrerie, he had
been picked up by the police-agent on the banks of the Seine,
near the Pont des Invalides?

Some one had carried him from the Quartier des Halles to the
Champs-Elysees. And how? Through the sewer. Unheard-of devotion!

Some one? Who?

This was the man for whom Marius was searching.

Of this man, who was his savior, nothing; not a trace; not the
faintest indication.

Marius, although forced to preserve great reserve, in that direction,
pushed his inquiries as far as the prefecture of police. There, no more
than elsewhere, did the information obtained lead to any enlightenment.

The prefecture knew less about the matter than did the
hackney-coachman. They had no knowledge of any arrest
having been made on the 6th of June at the mouth of the Grand Sewer.

No report of any agent had been received there upon this matter,
which was regarded at the prefecture as a fable. The invention
of this fable was attributed to the coachman.

A coachman who wants a gratuity is capable of anything, even
of imagination. The fact was assured, nevertheless, and Marius could
not doubt it, unless he doubted his own identity, as we have just said.

Everything about this singular enigma was inexplicable.

What had become of that man, that mysterious man, whom the coachman
had seen emerge from the grating of the Grand Sewer bearing upon
his back the unconscious Marius, and whom the police-agent on
the watch had arrested in the very act of rescuing an insurgent?
What had become of the agent himself?

Why had this agent preserved silence? Had the man succeeded
in making his escape? Had he bribed the agent? Why did this
man give no sign of life to Marius, who owed everything to him?
His disinterestedness was no less tremendous than his devotion.
Why had not that man appeared again? Perhaps he was above compensation,
but no one is above gratitude. Was he dead? Who was the man?
What sort of a face had he? No one could tell him this.

The coachman answered: "The night was very dark." Basque and Nicolette,
all in a flutter, had looked only at their young master all covered
with blood.

The porter, whose candle had lighted the tragic arrival of Marius,
had been the only one to take note of the man in question, and this
is the description that he gave:

"That man was terrible."

Marius had the blood-stained clothing which he had worn when he
had been brought back to his grandfather preserved, in the hope
that it would prove of service in his researches.

On examining the coat, it was found that one skirt had been torn
in a singular way. A piece was missing.

One evening, Marius was speaking in the presence of Cosette and Jean
Valjean of the whole of that singular adventure, of the innumerable
inquiries which he had made, and of the fruitlessness of his efforts.
The cold countenance of "Monsieur Fauchelevent" angered him.

He exclaimed, with a vivacity which had something of wrath in it:

"Yes, that man, whoever he may have been, was sublime.
Do you know what he did, sir? He intervened like an archangel.
He must have flung himself into the midst of the battle, have stolen
me away, have opened the sewer, have dragged me into it and have
carried me through it! He must have traversed more than a league
and a half in those frightful subterranean galleries, bent over,
weighed down, in the dark, in the cess-pool,--more than a league
and a half, sir, with a corpse upon his back! And with what object?
With the sole object of saving the corpse. And that corpse I was.
He said to himself: `There may still be a glimpse of life there,
perchance; I will risk my own existence for that miserable spark!'
And his existence he risked not once but twenty times! And every step
was a danger. The proof of it is, that on emerging from the sewer,
he was arrested. Do you know, sir, that that man did all this?
And he had no recompense to expect. What was I? An insurgent.
What was I? One of the conquered. Oh! if Cosette's six hundred
thousand francs were mine . . ."

"They are yours," interrupted Jean Valjean.

"Well," resumed Marius, "I would give them all to find that man
once more."

Jean Valjean remained silent.




The night of the 16th to the 17th of February, 1833, was a blessed night.
Above its shadows heaven stood open. It was the wedding night
of Marius and Cosette.

The day had been adorable.

It had not been the grand festival dreamed by the grandfather,
a fairy spectacle, with a confusion of cherubim and Cupids over
the heads of the bridal pair, a marriage worthy to form the subject
of a painting to be placed over a door; but it had been sweet
and smiling.

The manner of marriage in 1833 was not the same as it is to-day.
France had not yet borrowed from England that supreme delicacy
of carrying off one's wife, of fleeing, on coming out of church,
of hiding oneself with shame from one's happiness, and of combining
the ways of a bankrupt with the delights of the Song of Songs.
People had not yet grasped to the full the chastity, exquisiteness,
and decency of jolting their paradise in a posting-chaise, of breaking
up their mystery with clic-clacs, of taking for a nuptial bed the bed
of an inn, and of leaving behind them, in a commonplace chamber,
at so much a night, the most sacred of the souvenirs of life mingled
pell-mell with the tete-a-tete of the conductor of the diligence
and the maid-servant of the inn.

In this second half of the nineteenth century in which we are now living,
the mayor and his scarf, the priest and his chasuble, the law and God
no longer suffice; they must be eked out by the Postilion de Lonjumeau;
a blue waistcoat turned up with red, and with bell buttons,
a plaque like a vantbrace, knee-breeches of green leather, oaths to
the Norman horses with their tails knotted up, false galloons,
varnished hat, long powdered locks, an enormous whip and tall boots.
France does not yet carry elegance to the length of doing like
the English nobility, and raining down on the post-chaise of the
bridal pair a hail storm of slippers trodden down at heel and of
worn-out shoes, in memory of Churchill, afterwards Marlborough,
or Malbrouck, who was assailed on his wedding-day by the wrath of an
aunt which brought him good luck. Old shoes and slippers do not,
as yet, form a part of our nuptial celebrations; but patience,
as good taste continues to spread, we shall come to that.

In 1833, a hundred years ago, marriage was not conducted at a full trot.

Strange to say, at that epoch, people still imagined that a wedding
was a private and social festival, that a patriarchal banquet
does not spoil a domestic solemnity, that gayety, even in excess,
provided it be honest, and decent, does happiness no harm, and that,
in short, it is a good and a venerable thing that the fusion
of these two destinies whence a family is destined to spring,
should begin at home, and that the household should thenceforth
have its nuptial chamber as its witness.

And people were so immodest as to marry in their own homes.

The marriage took place, therefore, in accordance with this now
superannuated fashion, at M. Gillenormand's house.

Natural and commonplace as this matter of marrying is, the banns to
publish, the papers to be drawn up, the mayoralty, and the church produce
some complication. They could not get ready before the 16th of February.

Now, we note this detail, for the pure satisfaction of being exact,
it chanced that the 16th fell on Shrove Tuesday. Hesitations, scruples,
particularly on the part of Aunt Gillenormand.

"Shrove Tuesday!" exclaimed the grandfather, "so much the better.
There is a proverb:

"`Mariage un Mardi gras
N'aura point enfants ingrats.'[66]

[66] "A Shrove-Tuesday marriage will have no ungrateful children."

Let us proceed. Here goes for the 16th! Do you want to delay, Marius?"

"No, certainly not!" replied the lover.

"Let us marry, then," cried the grandfather.

Accordingly, the marriage took place on the 16th, notwithstanding the
public merrymaking. It rained that day, but there is always in the sky
a tiny scrap of blue at the service of happiness, which lovers see,
even when the rest of creation is under an umbrella.

On the preceding evening, Jean Valjean handed to Marius, in the presence
of M. Gillenormand, the five hundred and eighty-four thousand francs.

As the marriage was taking place under the regime of community
of property, the papers had been simple.

Henceforth, Toussaint was of no use to Jean Valjean; Cosette inherited
her and promoted her to the rank of lady's maid.

As for Jean Valjean, a beautiful chamber in the Gillenormand
house had been furnished expressly for him, and Cosette had said
to him in such an irresistible manner: "Father, I entreat you,"
that she had almost persuaded him to promise that he would come
and occupy it.

A few days before that fixed on for the marriage, an accident
happened to Jean Valjean; he crushed the thumb of his right hand.
This was not a serious matter; and he had not allowed any one to
trouble himself about it, nor to dress it, nor even to see his hurt,
not even Cosette. Nevertheless, this had forced him to swathe
his hand in a linen bandage, and to carry his arm in a sling,
and had prevented his signing. M. Gillenormand, in his capacity
of Cosette's supervising-guardian, had supplied his place.

We will not conduct the reader either to the mayor's office or to
the church. One does not follow a pair of lovers to that extent,
and one is accustomed to turn one's back on the drama as soon as it
puts a wedding nosegay in its buttonhole. We will confine ourselves
to noting an incident which, though unnoticed by the wedding party,
marked the transit from the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire to the church
of Saint-Paul.

At that epoch, the northern extremity of the Rue Saint-Louis was in
process of repaving. It was barred off, beginning with the Rue du
Pare-Royal. It was impossible for the wedding carriages to go directly
to Saint-Paul. They were obliged to alter their course, and the simplest
way was to turn through the boulevard. One of the invited guests
observed that it was Shrove Tuesday, and that there would be a jam
of vehicles.--"Why?" asked M. Gillenormand--"Because of the maskers."--
"Capital," said the grandfather, "let us go that way. These young
folks are on the way to be married; they are about to enter the serious
part of life. This will prepare them for seeing a bit of the masquerade."

They went by way of the boulevard. The first wedding coach held
Cosette and Aunt Gillenormand, M. Gillenormand and Jean Valjean.
Marius, still separated from his betrothed according to usage,
did not come until the second. The nuptial train, on emerging
from the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire, became entangled in a long
procession of vehicles which formed an endless chain from the
Madeleine to the Bastille, and from the Bastille to the Madeleine.
Maskers abounded on the boulevard. In spite of the fact that it was
raining at intervals, Merry-Andrew, Pantaloon and Clown persisted.
In the good humor of that winter of 1833, Paris had disguised
itself as Venice. Such Shrove Tuesdays are no longer to be seen
now-a-days. Everything which exists being a scattered Carnival,
there is no longer any Carnival.

The sidewalks were overflowing with pedestrians and the windows with
curious spectators. The terraces which crown the peristyles of the
theatres were bordered with spectators. Besides the maskers, they stared
at that procession--peculiar to Shrove Tuesday as to Longchamps,--
of vehicles of every description, citadines, tapissieres, carioles,
cabriolets marching in order, rigorously riveted to each other
by the police regulations, and locked into rails, as it were.
Any one in these vehicles is at once a spectator and a spectacle.
Police-sergeants maintained, on the sides of the boulevard,
these two interminable parallel files, moving in contrary directions,
and saw to it that nothing interfered with that double current,
those two brooks of carriages, flowing, the one down stream,
the other up stream, the one towards the Chaussee d'Antin, the other
towards the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. The carriages of the peers
of France and of the Ambassadors, emblazoned with coats of arms,
held the middle of the way, going and coming freely. Certain joyous
and magnificent trains, notably that of the Boeuf Gras, had the
same privilege. In this gayety of Paris, England cracked her whip;
Lord Seymour's post-chaise, harassed by a nickname from the populace,
passed with great noise.

In the double file, along which the municipal guards galloped like
sheep-dogs, honest family coaches, loaded down with great-aunts
and grandmothers, displayed at their doors fresh groups of children
in disguise, Clowns of seven years of age, Columbines of six,
ravishing little creatures, who felt that they formed an official
part of the public mirth, who were imbued with the dignity
of their harlequinade, and who possessed the gravity of functionaries.

From time to time, a hitch arose somewhere in the procession
of vehicles; one or other of the two lateral files halted until
the knot was disentangled; one carriage delayed sufficed to paralyze
the whole line. Then they set out again on the march.

The wedding carriages were in the file proceeding towards the Bastille,
and skirting the right side of the Boulevard. At the top of the
Pont-aux-Choux, there was a stoppage. Nearly at the same moment,
the other file, which was proceeding towards the Madeleine,
halted also. At that point of the file there was a carriage-load
of maskers.

These carriages, or to speak more correctly, these wagon-loads
of maskers are very familiar to Parisians. If they were missing on
a Shrove Tuesday, or at the Mid-Lent, it would be taken in bad part,
and people would say: "There's something behind that. Probably the
ministry is about to undergo a change." A pile of Cassandras,
Harlequins and Columbines, jolted along high above the passers-by,
all possible grotesquenesses, from the Turk to the savage,
Hercules supporting Marquises, fishwives who would have made Rabelais
stop up his ears just as the Maenads made Aristophanes drop his eyes,
tow wigs, pink tights, dandified hats, spectacles of a grimacer,
three-cornered hats of Janot tormented with a butterfly, shouts directed
at pedestrians, fists on hips, bold attitudes, bare shoulders,
immodesty unchained; a chaos of shamelessness driven by a coachman
crowned with flowers; this is what that institution was like.

Greece stood in need of the chariot of Thespis, France stands
in need of the hackney-coach of Vade.

Everything can be parodied, even parody. The Saturnalia, that grimace
of antique beauty, ends, through exaggeration after exaggeration,
in Shrove Tuesday; and the Bacchanal, formerly crowned with sprays
of vine leaves and grapes, inundated with sunshine, displaying her
marble breast in a divine semi-nudity, having at the present day
lost her shape under the soaked rags of the North, has finally
come to be called the Jack-pudding.

The tradition of carriage-loads of maskers runs back to the
most ancient days of the monarchy. The accounts of Louis XI.
allot to the bailiff of the palace "twenty sous, Tournois, for three
coaches of mascarades in the cross-roads." In our day, these noisy
heaps of creatures are accustomed to have themselves driven
in some ancient cuckoo carriage, whose imperial they load down,
or they overwhelm a hired landau, with its top thrown back,
with their tumultuous groups. Twenty of them ride in a carriage
intended for six. They cling to the seats, to the rumble,
on the cheeks of the hood, on the shafts. They even bestride the
carriage lamps. They stand, sit, lie, with their knees drawn up
in a knot, and their legs hanging. The women sit on the men's laps.
Far away, above the throng of heads, their wild pyramid is visible.
These carriage-loads form mountains of mirth in the midst of
the rout. Colle, Panard and Piron flow from it, enriched with slang.
This carriage which has become colossal through its freight,
has an air of conquest. Uproar reigns in front, tumult behind.
People vociferate, shout, howl, there they break forth and writhe
with enjoyment; gayety roars; sarcasm flames forth, joviality is
flaunted like a red flag; two jades there drag farce blossomed
forth into an apotheosis; it is the triumphal car of laughter.

A laughter that is too cynical to be frank. In truth,
this laughter is suspicious. This laughter has a mission.
It is charged with proving the Carnival to the Parisians.

These fishwife vehicles, in which one feels one knows not what shadows,
set the philosopher to thinking. There is government therein.
There one lays one's finger on a mysterious affinity between public
men and public women.

It certainly is sad that turpitude heaped up should give a sum total
of gayety, that by piling ignominy upon opprobrium the people should
be enticed, that the system of spying, and serving as caryatids
to prostitution should amuse the rabble when it confronts them,
that the crowd loves to behold that monstrous living pile of tinsel rags,
half dung, half light, roll by on four wheels howling and laughing,
that they should clap their hands at this glory composed of all shames,
that there would be no festival for the populace, did not the police
promenade in their midst these sorts of twenty-headed hydras of joy.
But what can be done about it? These be-ribboned and be-flowered tumbrils
of mire are insulted and pardoned by the laughter of the public.
The laughter of all is the accomplice of universal degradation.
Certain unhealthy festivals disaggregate the people and convert them
into the populace. And populaces, like tyrants, require buffoons.
The King has Roquelaure, the populace has the Merry-Andrew. Paris is
a great, mad city on every occasion that it is a great sublime city.
There the Carnival forms part of politics. Paris,--let us
confess it--willingly allows infamy to furnish it with comedy.
She only demands of her masters--when she has masters--one thing:
"Paint me the mud." Rome was of the same mind. She loved Nero.
Nero was a titanic lighterman.

Chance ordained, as we have just said, that one of these shapeless
clusters of masked men and women, dragged about on a vast calash,
should halt on the left of the boulevard, while the wedding train
halted on the right. The carriage-load of masks caught sight
of the wedding carriage containing the bridal party opposite them
on the other side of the boulevard.

"Hullo!" said a masker, "here's a wedding."

"A sham wedding," retorted another. "We are the genuine article."

And, being too far off to accost the wedding party, and fearing also,
the rebuke of the police, the two maskers turned their eyes elsewhere.

At the end of another minute, the carriage-load of maskers had their
hands full, the multitude set to yelling, which is the crowd's
caress to masquerades; and the two maskers who had just spoken had
to face the throng with their comrades, and did not find the entire
repertory of projectiles of the fishmarkets too extensive to retort
to the enormous verbal attacks of the populace. A frightful
exchange of metaphors took place between the maskers and the crowd.

In the meanwhile, two other maskers in the same carriage, a Spaniard
with an enormous nose, an elderly air, and huge black moustache,
and a gaunt fishwife, who was quite a young girl, masked with a
loup,[67] had also noticed the wedding, and while their companions
and the passers-by were exchanging insults, they had held a dialogue
in a low voice.

[67] A short mask.

Their aside was covered by the tumult and was lost in it.
The gusts of rain had drenched the front of the vehicle, which was
wide open; the breezes of February are not warm; as the fishwife,
clad in a low-necked gown, replied to the Spaniard, she shivered,
laughed and coughed.

Here is their dialogue:

"Say, now."

"What, daddy?"

"Do you see that old cove?"

"What old cove?"

"Yonder, in the first wedding-cart, on our side."

"The one with his arm hung up in a black cravat?"



"I'm sure that I know him."


"I'm willing that they should cut my throat, and I'm ready to swear
that I never said either you, thou, or I, in my life, if I don't
know that Parisian." [pantinois.]

"Paris in Pantin to-day."

"Can you see the bride if you stoop down?"


"And the bridegroom?"

"There's no bridegroom in that trap."


"Unless it's the old fellow."

"Try to get a sight of the bride by stooping very low."

"I can't."

"Never mind, that old cove who has something the matter with his
paw I know, and that I'm positive."

"And what good does it do to know him?"

"No one can tell. Sometimes it does!"

"I don't care a hang for old fellows, that I don't!"

"I know him."

"Know him, if you want to."

"How the devil does he come to be one of the wedding party?"

"We are in it, too."

"Where does that wedding come from?"

"How should I know?"


"Well, what?"

"There's one thing you ought to do."

"What's that?"

"Get off of our trap and spin that wedding."

"What for?"

"To find out where it goes, and what it is. Hurry up
and jump down, trot, my girl, your legs are young."

"I can't quit the vehicle."

"Why not?"

"I'm hired."

"Ah, the devil!"

"I owe my fishwife day to the prefecture."

"That's true."

"If I leave the cart, the first inspector who gets his eye on me
will arrest me. You know that well enough."

"Yes, I do."

"I'm bought by the government for to-day."

"All the same, that old fellow bothers me."

"Do the old fellows bother you? But you're not a young girl."

"He's in the first carriage."


"In the bride's trap."

"What then?"

"So he is the father."

"What concern is that of mine?"

"I tell you that he's the father."

"As if he were the only father."



"I can't go out otherwise than masked. Here I'm concealed, no one
knows that I'm here. But to-morrow, there will be no more maskers.
It's Ash Wednesday. I run the risk of being nabbed. I must sneak
back into my hole. But you are free."

"Not particularly."

"More than I am, at any rate."

"Well, what of that?"

"You must try to find out where that wedding-party went to."

"Where it went?"


"I know."

"Where is it going then?"

"To the Cadran-Bleu."

"In the first place, it's not in that direction."

"Well! to la Rapee."

"Or elsewhere."

"It's free. Wedding-parties are at liberty."

"That's not the point at all. I tell you that you must try to
learn for me what that wedding is, who that old cove belongs to,
and where that wedding pair lives."

"I like that! that would be queer. It's so easy to find out a
wedding-party that passed through the street on a Shrove Tuesday,
a week afterwards. A pin in a hay-mow! It ain't possible!"

"That don't matter. You must try. You understand me, Azelma."

The two files resumed their movement on both sides of the boulevard,
in opposite directions, and the carriage of the maskers lost sight
of the "trap" of the bride.



To realize one's dream. To whom is this accorded? There must
be elections for this in heaven; we are all candidates, unknown
to ourselves; the angels vote. Cosette and Marius had been elected.

Cosette, both at the mayor's office and at church, was dazzling
and touching. Toussaint, assisted by Nicolette, had dressed her.

Cosette wore over a petticoat of white taffeta, her robe of
Binche guipure, a veil of English point, a necklace of fine pearls,
a wreath of orange flowers; all this was white, and, from the midst
of that whiteness she beamed forth. It was an exquisite candor
expanding and becoming transfigured in the light. One would
have pronounced her a virgin on the point of turning into a goddess.

Marius' handsome hair was lustrous and perfumed; here and there,
beneath the thick curls, pale lines--the scars of the barricade--
were visible.

The grandfather, haughty, with head held high, amalgamating more
than ever in his toilet and his manners all the elegances
of the epoch of Barras, escorted Cosette. He took the place of
Jean Valjean, who, on account of his arm being still in a sling,
could not give his hand to the bride.

Jean Valjean, dressed in black, followed them with a smile.

"Monsieur Fauchelevent," said the grandfather to him, "this is
a fine day. I vote for the end of afflictions and sorrows.
Henceforth, there must be no sadness anywhere. Pardieu, I decree joy!
Evil has no right to exist. That there should be any unhappy men is,
in sooth, a disgrace to the azure of the sky. Evil does not come
from man, who is good at bottom. All human miseries have for
their capital and central government hell, otherwise, known as the
Devil's Tuileries. Good, here I am uttering demagogical words!
As far as I am concerned, I have no longer any political opinions;
let all me be rich, that is to say, mirthful, and I confine myself
to that."

When, at the conclusion of all the ceremonies, after having pronounced

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