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

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Jean Valjean recoiled with anguish and uttered a cry of terror.

It was because,--strange phenomenon, and one which was possible only
in the situation in which he found himself,--in stealing the money
from that child, he had done a thing of which he was no longer capable.

However that may be, this last evil action had a decisive effect
on him; it abruptly traversed that chaos which he bore in his mind,
and dispersed it, placed on one side the thick obscurity, and on
the other the light, and acted on his soul, in the state in which it
then was, as certain chemical reagents act upon a troubled mixture
by precipitating one element and clarifying the other.

First of all, even before examining himself and reflecting,
all bewildered, like one who seeks to save himself, he tried to
find the child in order to return his money to him; then, when he
recognized the fact that this was impossible, he halted in despair.
At the moment when he exclaimed "I am a wretch!" he had just
perceived what he was, and he was already separated from himself
to such a degree, that he seemed to himself to be no longer
anything more than a phantom, and as if he had, there before him,
in flesh and blood, the hideous galley-convict, Jean Valjean,
cudgel in hand, his blouse on his hips, his knapsack filled with
stolen objects on his back, with his resolute and gloomy visage,
with his thoughts filled with abominable projects.

Excess of unhappiness had, as we have remarked, made him in some
sort a visionary. This, then, was in the nature of a vision.
He actually saw that Jean Valjean, that sinister face, before him.
He had almost reached the point of asking himself who that man was,
and he was horrified by him.

His brain was going through one of those violent and yet perfectly
calm moments in which revery is so profound that it absorbs reality.
One no longer beholds the object which one has before one, and one sees,
as though apart from one's self, the figures which one has in one's
own mind.

Thus he contemplated himself, so to speak, face to face,
and at the same time, athwart this hallucination, he perceived
in a mysterious depth a sort of light which he at first took
for a torch. On scrutinizing this light which appeared
to his conscience with more attention, he recognized the
fact that it possessed a human form and that this torch was the Bishop.

His conscience weighed in turn these two men thus placed before it,--
the Bishop and Jean Valjean. Nothing less than the first was
required to soften the second. By one of those singular effects,
which are peculiar to this sort of ecstasies, in proportion as his
revery continued, as the Bishop grew great and resplendent in his eyes,
so did Jean Valjean grow less and vanish. After a certain time he
was no longer anything more than a shade. All at once he disappeared.
The Bishop alone remained; he filled the whole soul of this wretched
man with a magnificent radiance.

Jean Valjean wept for a long time. He wept burning tears, he sobbed
with more weakness than a woman, with more fright than a child.

As he wept, daylight penetrated more and more clearly into his soul;
an extraordinary light; a light at once ravishing and terrible.
His past life, his first fault, his long expiation, his external
brutishness, his internal hardness, his dismissal to liberty,
rejoicing in manifold plans of vengeance, what had happened to him
at the Bishop's, the last thing that he had done, that theft of forty
sous from a child, a crime all the more cowardly, and all the more
monstrous since it had come after the Bishop's pardon,--all this
recurred to his mind and appeared clearly to him, but with a clearness
which he had never hitherto witnessed. He examined his life, and it
seemed horrible to him; his soul, and it seemed frightful to him.
In the meantime a gentle light rested over this life and this soul.
It seemed to him that he beheld Satan by the light of Paradise.

How many hours did he weep thus? What did he do after he had wept?
Whither did he go! No one ever knew. The only thing which seems
to be authenticated is that that same night the carrier who served
Grenoble at that epoch, and who arrived at D---- about three o'clock
in the morning, saw, as he traversed the street in which the
Bishop's residence was situated, a man in the attitude of prayer,
kneeling on the pavement in the shadow, in front of the door
of Monseigneur Welcome.




1817 is the year which Louis XVIII., with a certain royal assurance
which was not wanting in pride, entitled the twenty-second of his reign.
It is the year in which M. Bruguiere de Sorsum was celebrated.
All the hairdressers' shops, hoping for powder and the return of the
royal bird, were besmeared with azure and decked with fleurs-de-lys.
It was the candid time at which Count Lynch sat every Sunday as
church-warden in the church-warden's pew of Saint-Germain-des-Pres,
in his costume of a peer of France, with his red ribbon and his
long nose and the majesty of profile peculiar to a man who has
performed a brilliant action. The brilliant action performed
by M. Lynch was this: being mayor of Bordeaux, on the 12th
of March, 1814, he had surrendered the city a little too promptly
to M. the Duke d'Angouleme. Hence his peerage. In 1817 fashion
swallowed up little boys of from four to six years of age in vast
caps of morocco leather with ear-tabs resembling Esquimaux mitres.
The French army was dressed in white, after the mode of the Austrian;
the regiments were called legions; instead of numbers they bore the
names of departments; Napoleon was at St. Helena; and since England
refused him green cloth, he was having his old coats turned.
In 1817 Pelligrini sang; Mademoiselle Bigottini danced; Potier reigned;
Odry did not yet exist. Madame Saqui had succeeded to Forioso.
There were still Prussians in France. M. Delalot was a personage.
Legitimacy had just asserted itself by cutting off the hand,
then the head, of Pleignier, of Carbonneau, and of Tolleron.
The Prince de Talleyrand, grand chamberlain, and the Abbe Louis,
appointed minister of finance, laughed as they looked at each other,
with the laugh of the two augurs; both of them had celebrated,
on the 14th of July, 1790, the mass of federation in the Champ de Mars;
Talleyrand had said it as bishop, Louis had served it in the capacity
of deacon. In 1817, in the side-alleys of this same Champ de Mars,
two great cylinders of wood might have been seen lying in the rain,
rotting amid the grass, painted blue, with traces of eagles and bees,
from which the gilding was falling. These were the columns which two
years before had upheld the Emperor's platform in the Champ de Mai.
They were blackened here and there with the scorches of the bivouac
of Austrians encamped near Gros-Caillou. Two or three of these
columns had disappeared in these bivouac fires, and had warmed
the large hands of the Imperial troops. The Field of May had this
remarkable point: that it had been held in the month of June
and in the Field of March (Mars). In this year, 1817, two things
were popular: the Voltaire-Touquet and the snuff-box a la Charter.
The most recent Parisian sensation was the crime of Dautun,
who had thrown his brother's head into the fountain of the

They had begun to feel anxious at the Naval Department, on account
of the lack of news from that fatal frigate, The Medusa, which was
destined to cover Chaumareix with infamy and Gericault with glory.
Colonel Selves was going to Egypt to become Soliman-Pasha. The palace
of Thermes, in the Rue de La Harpe, served as a shop for a cooper.
On the platform of the octagonal tower of the Hotel de Cluny,
the little shed of boards, which had served as an observatory to Messier,
the naval astronomer under Louis XVI., was still to be seen.
The Duchesse de Duras read to three or four friends her unpublished
Ourika, in her boudoir furnished by X. in sky-blue satin. The N's
were scratched off the Louvre. The bridge of Austerlitz had abdicated,
and was entitled the bridge of the King's Garden [du Jardin du Roi],
a double enigma, which disguised the bridge of Austerlitz and the
Jardin des Plantes at one stroke. Louis XVIII., much preoccupied
while annotating Horace with the corner of his finger-nail, heroes
who have become emperors, and makers of wooden shoes who have
become dauphins, had two anxieties,--Napoleon and Mathurin Bruneau.
The French Academy had given for its prize subject, The Happiness
procured through Study. M. Bellart was officially eloquent.
In his shadow could be seen germinating that future advocate-general
of Broe, dedicated to the sarcasms of Paul-Louis Courier.
There was a false Chateaubriand, named Marchangy, in the interim,
until there should be a false Marchangy, named d'Arlincourt.
Claire d'Albe and Malek-Adel were masterpieces; Madame Cottin
was proclaimed the chief writer of the epoch. The Institute
had the academician, Napoleon Bonaparte, stricken from its list
of members. A royal ordinance erected Angouleme into a naval school;
for the Duc d'Angouleme, being lord high admiral, it was evident
that the city of Angouleme had all the qualities of a seaport;
otherwise the monarchical principle would have received a wound.
In the Council of Ministers the question was agitated whether
vignettes representing slack-rope performances, which adorned
Franconi's advertising posters, and which attracted throngs of
street urchins, should be tolerated. M. Paer, the author of Agnese,
a good sort of fellow, with a square face and a wart on his cheek,
directed the little private concerts of the Marquise de Sasenaye
in the Rue Ville l'Eveque. All the young girls were singing the
Hermit of Saint-Avelle, with words by Edmond Geraud. The Yellow
Dwarf was transferred into Mirror. The Cafe Lemblin stood up for
the Emperor, against the Cafe Valois, which upheld the Bourbons.
The Duc de Berri, already surveyed from the shadow by Louvel,
had just been married to a princess of Sicily. Madame de Stael had
died a year previously. The body-guard hissed Mademoiselle Mars.
The grand newspapers were all very small. Their form was restricted,
but their liberty was great. The Constitutionnel was constitutional.
La Minerve called Chateaubriand Chateaubriant. That t made the good
middle-class people laugh heartily at the expense of the great writer.
In journals which sold themselves, prostituted journalists,
insulted the exiles of 1815. David had no longer any talent,
Arnault had no longer any wit, Carnot was no longer honest, Soult had
won no battles; it is true that Napoleon had no longer any genius.
No one is ignorant of the fact that letters sent to an exile by post
very rarely reached him, as the police made it their religious
duty to intercept them. This is no new fact; Descartes complained
of it in his exile. Now David, having, in a Belgian publication,
shown some displeasure at not receiving letters which had been
written to him, it struck the royalist journals as amusing;
and they derided the prescribed man well on this occasion.
What separated two men more than an abyss was to say, the regicides,
or to say the voters; to say the enemies, or to say the allies;
to say Napoleon, or to say Buonaparte. All sensible people were
agreed that the era of revolution had been closed forever by King
Louis XVIII., surnamed "The Immortal Author of the Charter."
On the platform of the Pont-Neuf, the word Redivivus was carved
on the pedestal that awaited the statue of Henry IV. M. Piet,
in the Rue Therese, No. 4, was making the rough draft of his privy
assembly to consolidate the monarchy. The leaders of the Right
said at grave conjunctures, "We must write to Bacot." MM. Canuel,
O'Mahoney, and De Chappedelaine were preparing the sketch,
to some extent with Monsieur's approval, of what was to become
later on "The Conspiracy of the Bord de l'Eau"--of the waterside.
L'Epingle Noire was already plotting in his own quarter.
Delaverderie was conferring with Trogoff. M. Decazes, who was
liberal to a degree, reigned. Chateaubriand stood every morning at
his window at No. 27 Rue Saint-Dominique, clad in footed trousers,
and slippers, with a madras kerchief knotted over his gray hair,
with his eyes fixed on a mirror, a complete set of dentist's instruments
spread out before him, cleaning his teeth, which were charming,
while he dictated The Monarchy according to the Charter to M. Pilorge,
his secretary. Criticism, assuming an authoritative tone,
preferred Lafon to Talma. M. de Feletez signed himself A.;
M. Hoffmann signed himself Z. Charles Nodier wrote Therese Aubert.
Divorce was abolished. Lyceums called themselves colleges.
The collegians, decorated on the collar with a golden fleur-de-lys,
fought each other apropos of the King of Rome. The counter-police
of the chateau had denounced to her Royal Highness Madame, the portrait,
everywhere exhibited, of M. the Duc d'Orleans, who made a better
appearance in his uniform of a colonel-general of hussars than
M. the Duc de Berri, in his uniform of colonel-general of dragoons--
a serious inconvenience. The city of Paris was having the dome
of the Invalides regilded at its own expense. Serious men asked
themselves what M. de Trinquelague would do on such or such an occasion;
M. Clausel de Montals differed on divers points from M. Clausel
de Coussergues; M. de Salaberry was not satisfied. The comedian Picard,
who belonged to the Academy, which the comedian Moliere had not been
able to do, had The Two Philiberts played at the Odeon, upon whose
pediment the removal of the letters still allowed THEATRE OF THE
EMPRESS to be plainly read. People took part for or against Cugnet
de Montarlot. Fabvier was factious; Bavoux was revolutionary.
The Liberal, Pelicier, published an edition of Voltaire, with the
following title: Works of Voltaire, of the French Academy.
"That will attract purchasers," said the ingenious editor. The general
opinion was that M. Charles Loyson would be the genius of the century;
envy was beginning to gnaw at him--a sign of glory; and this verse was
composed on him:--

"Even when Loyson steals, one feels that he has paws."

As Cardinal Fesch refused to resign, M. de Pins, Archbishop of Amasie,
administered the diocese of Lyons. The quarrel over the valley
of Dappes was begun between Switzerland and France by a memoir
from Captain, afterwards General Dufour. Saint-Simon, ignored,
was erecting his sublime dream. There was a celebrated Fourier
at the Academy of Science, whom posterity has forgotten; and in
some garret an obscure Fourier, whom the future will recall.
Lord Byron was beginning to make his mark; a note to a poem
by Millevoye introduced him to France in these terms: a certain
Lord Baron. David d'Angers was trying to work in marble. The Abbe
Caron was speaking, in terms of praise, to a private gathering of
seminarists in the blind alley of Feuillantines, of an unknown priest,
named Felicite-Robert, who, at a latter date, became Lamennais.
A thing which smoked and clattered on the Seine with the noise of
a swimming dog went and came beneath the windows of the Tuileries,
from the Pont Royal to the Pont Louis XV.; it was a piece of mechanism
which was not good for much; a sort of plaything, the idle dream
of a dream-ridden inventor; an utopia--a steamboat. The Parisians
stared indifferently at this useless thing. M. de Vaublanc,
the reformer of the Institute by a coup d'etat, the distinguished
author of numerous academicians, ordinances, and batches of members,
after having created them, could not succeed in becoming one himself.
The Faubourg Saint-Germain and the pavilion de Marsan wished to
have M. Delaveau for prefect of police, on account of his piety.
Dupuytren and Recamier entered into a quarrel in the amphitheatre
of the School of Medicine, and threatened each other with their fists
on the subject of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Cuvier, with one
eye on Genesis and the other on nature, tried to please bigoted
reaction by reconciling fossils with texts and by making mastodons
flatter Moses.

M. Francois de Neufchateau, the praiseworthy cultivator of the memory
of Parmentier, made a thousand efforts to have pomme de terre
[potato] pronounced parmentiere, and succeeded therein not at all.
The Abbe Gregoire, ex-bishop, ex-conventionary, ex-senator, had passed,
in the royalist polemics, to the state of "Infamous Gregoire."
The locution of which we have made use--passed to the state of--has been
condemned as a neologism by M. Royer Collard. Under the third arch
of the Pont de Jena, the new stone with which, the two years previously,
the mining aperture made by Blucher to blow up the bridge had been
stopped up, was still recognizable on account of its whiteness.
Justice summoned to its bar a man who, on seeing the Comte d'Artois
enter Notre Dame, had said aloud: "Sapristi! I regret the time
when I saw Bonaparte and Talma enter the Bel Sauvage, arm in arm."
A seditious utterance. Six months in prison. Traitors showed
themselves unbuttoned; men who had gone over to the enemy on the eve
of battle made no secret of their recompense, and strutted immodestly
in the light of day, in the cynicism of riches and dignities;
deserters from Ligny and Quatre-Bras, in the brazenness of their
well-paid turpitude, exhibited their devotion to the monarchy in the
most barefaced manner.

This is what floats up confusedly, pell-mell, for the year 1817,
and is now forgotten. History neglects nearly all these particulars,
and cannot do otherwise; the infinity would overwhelm it.
Nevertheless, these details, which are wrongly called trivial,--
there are no trivial facts in humanity, nor little leaves
in vegetation,--are useful. It is of the physiognomy of the
years that the physiognomy of the centuries is composed.
In this year of 1817 four young Parisians arranged "a fine farce."



These Parisians came, one from Toulouse, another from Limoges,
the third from Cahors, and the fourth from Montauban; but they
were students; and when one says student, one says Parisian:
to study in Paris is to be born in Paris.

These young men were insignificant; every one has seen such faces;
four specimens of humanity taken at random; neither good nor bad,
neither wise nor ignorant, neither geniuses nor fools; handsome,
with that charming April which is called twenty years. They were
four Oscars; for, at that epoch, Arthurs did not yet exist.
Burn for him the perfumes of Araby! exclaimed romance.
Oscar advances. Oscar, I shall behold him! People had just
emerged from Ossian; elegance was Scandinavian and Caledonian;
the pure English style was only to prevail later, and the first
of the Arthurs, Wellington, had but just won the battle of Waterloo.

These Oscars bore the names, one of Felix Tholomyes, of Toulouse;
the second, Listolier, of Cahors; the next, Fameuil, of Limoges;
the last, Blachevelle, of Montauban. Naturally, each of them
had his mistress. Blachevelle loved Favourite, so named because
she had been in England; Listolier adored Dahlia, who had taken
for her nickname the name of a flower; Fameuil idolized Zephine,
an abridgment of Josephine; Tholomyes had Fantine, called the Blonde,
because of her beautiful, sunny hair.

Favourite, Dahlia, Zephine, and Fantine were four ravishing young women,
perfumed and radiant, still a little like working-women, and not yet
entirely divorced from their needles; somewhat disturbed by intrigues,
but still retaining on their faces something of the serenity
of toil, and in their souls that flower of honesty which survives
the first fall in woman. One of the four was called the young,
because she was the youngest of them, and one was called the old;
the old one was twenty-three. Not to conceal anything, the three
first were more experienced, more heedless, and more emancipated
into the tumult of life than Fantine the Blonde, who was still
in her first illusions.

Dahlia, Zephine, and especially Favourite, could not have said as much.
There had already been more than one episode in their romance,
though hardly begun; and the lover who had borne the name of Adolph
in the first chapter had turned out to be Alphonse in the second,
and Gustave in the third. Poverty and coquetry are two fatal counsellors;
one scolds and the other flatters, and the beautiful daughters
of the people have both of them whispering in their ear, each on
its own side. These badly guarded souls listen. Hence the falls
which they accomplish, and the stones which are thrown at them.
They are overwhelmed with splendor of all that is immaculate
and inaccessible. Alas! what if the Jungfrau were hungry?

Favourite having been in England, was admired by Dahlia and Zephine.
She had had an establishment of her own very early in life.
Her father was an old unmarried professor of mathematics, a brutal man
and a braggart, who went out to give lessons in spite of his age.
This professor, when he was a young man, had one day seen a chambermaid's
gown catch on a fender; he had fallen in love in consequence of
this accident. The result had been Favourite. She met her father
from time to time, and he bowed to her. One morning an old woman
with the air of a devotee, had entered her apartments, and had said
to her, "You do not know me, Mamemoiselle?" "No." "I am your mother."
Then the old woman opened the sideboard, and ate and drank,
had a mattress which she owned brought in, and installed herself.
This cross and pious old mother never spoke to Favourite, remained hours
without uttering a word, breakfasted, dined, and supped for four,
and went down to the porter's quarters for company, where she spoke
ill of her daughter.

It was having rosy nails that were too pretty which had drawn
Dahlia to Listolier, to others perhaps, to idleness. How could
she make such nails work? She who wishes to remain virtuous must
not have pity on her hands. As for Zephine, she had conquered
Fameuil by her roguish and caressing little way of saying "Yes, sir."

The young men were comrades; the young girls were friends.
Such loves are always accompanied by such friendships.

Goodness and philosophy are two distinct things; the proof
of this is that, after making all due allowances for these
little irregular households, Favourite, Zephine, and Dahlia
were philosophical young women, while Fantine was a good girl.

Good! some one will exclaim; and Tholomyes? Solomon would reply
that love forms a part of wisdom. We will confine ourselves
to saying that the love of Fantine was a first love, a sole love,
a faithful love.

She alone, of all the four, was not called "thou" by a single
one of them.

Fantine was one of those beings who blossom, so to speak,
from the dregs of the people. Though she had emerged from the most
unfathomable depths of social shadow, she bore on her brow the sign
of the anonymous and the unknown. She was born at M. sur M. Of
what parents? Who can say? She had never known father or mother.
She was called Fantine. Why Fantine? She had never borne any
other name. At the epoch of her birth the Directory still existed.
She had no family name; she had no family; no baptismal name;
the Church no longer existed. She bore the name which pleased the first
random passer-by, who had encountered her, when a very small child,
running bare-legged in the street. She received the name as she
received the water from the clouds upon her brow when it rained.
She was called little Fantine. No one knew more than that. This human
creature had entered life in just this way. At the age of ten,
Fantine quitted the town and went to service with some farmers in
the neighborhood. At fifteen she came to Paris "to seek her fortune."
Fantine was beautiful, and remained pure as long as she could.
She was a lovely blonde, with fine teeth. She had gold and pearls
for her dowry; but her gold was on her head, and her pearls were in
her mouth.

She worked for her living; then, still for the sake of her living,--
for the heart, also, has its hunger,--she loved.

She loved Tholomyes.

An amour for him; passion for her. The streets of the Latin quarter,
filled with throngs of students and grisettes, saw the beginning
of their dream. Fantine had long evaded Tholomyes in the mazes
of the hill of the Pantheon, where so many adventurers twine
and untwine, but in such a way as constantly to encounter him again.
There is a way of avoiding which resembles seeking. In short,
the eclogue took place.

Blachevelle, Listolier, and Fameuil formed a sort of group
of which Tholomyes was the head. It was he who possessed the wit.

Tholomyes was the antique old student; he was rich; he had an income
of four thousand francs; four thousand francs! a splendid scandal
on Mount Sainte-Genevieve. Tholomyes was a fast man of thirty,
and badly preserved. He was wrinkled and toothless, and he had
the beginning of a bald spot, of which he himself said with sadness,
the skull at thirty, the knee at forty. His digestion was mediocre,
and he had been attacked by a watering in one eye. But in proportion
as his youth disappeared, gayety was kindled; he replaced his teeth
with buffooneries, his hair with mirth, his health with irony, his weeping
eye laughed incessantly. He was dilapidated but still in flower.
His youth, which was packing up for departure long before its time,
beat a retreat in good order, bursting with laughter, and no one saw
anything but fire. He had had a piece rejected at the Vaudeville.
He made a few verses now and then. In addition to this he doubted
everything to the last degree, which is a vast force in the eyes
of the weak. Being thus ironical and bald, he was the leader.
Iron is an English word. Is it possible that irony is derived
from it?

One day Tholomyes took the three others aside, with the gesture
of an oracle, and said to them:--

"Fantine, Dahlia, Zephine, and Favourite have been teasing us
for nearly a year to give them a surprise. We have promised them
solemnly that we would. They are forever talking about it to us, to me
in particular, just as the old women in Naples cry to Saint Januarius,
`Faccia gialluta, fa o miracolo, Yellow face, perform thy miracle,'
so our beauties say to me incessantly, `Tholomyes, when will you bring
forth your surprise?' At the same time our parents keep writing to us.
Pressure on both sides. The moment has arrived, it seems to me;
let us discuss the question."

Thereupon, Tholomyes lowered his voice and articulated something
so mirthful, that a vast and enthusiastic grin broke out upon the four
mouths simultaneously, and Blachevelle exclaimed, "That is an idea."

A smoky tap-room presented itself; they entered, and the remainder
of their confidential colloquy was lost in shadow.

The result of these shades was a dazzling pleasure party which took
place on the following Sunday, the four young men inviting the four
young girls.



It is hard nowadays to picture to one's self what a pleasure-trip of
students and grisettes to the country was like, forty-five years ago.
The suburbs of Paris are no longer the same; the physiognomy of what
may be called circumparisian life has changed completely in the
last half-century; where there was the cuckoo, there is the railway car;
where there was a tender-boat, there is now the steamboat; people speak
of Fecamp nowadays as they spoke of Saint-Cloud in those days.
The Paris of 1862 is a city which has France for its outskirts.

The four couples conscientiously went through with all the country
follies possible at that time. The vacation was beginning, and it
was a warm, bright, summer day. On the preceding day, Favourite,
the only one who knew how to write, had written the following
to Tholomyes in the name of the four: "It is a good hour to emerge
from happiness." That is why they rose at five o'clock in the morning.
Then they went to Saint-Cloud by the coach, looked at the dry cascade
and exclaimed, "This must be very beautiful when there is water!"
They breakfasted at the Tete-Noir, where Castaing had not yet been;
they treated themselves to a game of ring-throwing under the
quincunx of trees of the grand fountain; they ascended Diogenes'
lantern, they gambled for macaroons at the roulette establishment
of the Pont de Sevres, picked bouquets at Pateaux, bought reed-pipes
at Neuilly, ate apple tarts everywhere, and were perfectly happy.

The young girls rustled and chatted like warblers escaped from
their cage. It was a perfect delirium. From time to time they
bestowed little taps on the young men. Matutinal intoxication of life!
adorable years! the wings of the dragonfly quiver. Oh, whoever you
may be, do you not remember? Have you rambled through the brushwood,
holding aside the branches, on account of the charming head
which is coming on behind you? Have you slid, laughing, down a
slope all wet with rain, with a beloved woman holding your hand,
and crying, "Ah, my new boots! what a state they are in!"

Let us say at once that that merry obstacle, a shower, was lacking
in the case of this good-humored party, although Favourite had said
as they set out, with a magisterial and maternal tone, "The slugs
are crawling in the paths,--a sign of rain, children."

All four were madly pretty. A good old classic poet, then famous,
a good fellow who had an Eleonore, M. le Chevalier de Labouisse,
as he strolled that day beneath the chestnut-trees of Saint-Cloud,
saw them pass about ten o'clock in the morning, and exclaimed,
"There is one too many of them," as he thought of the Graces.
Favourite, Blachevelle's friend, the one aged three and twenty,
the old one, ran on in front under the great green boughs,
jumped the ditches, stalked distractedly over bushes, and presided
over this merry-making with the spirit of a young female faun.
Zephine and Dahlia, whom chance had made beautiful in such a way
that they set each off when they were together, and completed
each other, never left each other, more from an instinct of coquetry
than from friendship, and clinging to each other, they assumed
English poses; the first keepsakes had just made their appearance,
melancholy was dawning for women, as later on, Byronism dawned for men;
and the hair of the tender sex began to droop dolefully. Zephine and
Dahlia had their hair dressed in rolls. Listolier and Fameuil,
who were engaged in discussing their professors, explained to Fantine
the difference that existed between M. Delvincourt and M. Blondeau.

Blachevelle seemed to have been created expressly to carry Favourite's
single-bordered, imitation India shawl of Ternaux's manufacture,
on his arm on Sundays.

Tholomyes followed, dominating the group. He was very gay, but one felt
the force of government in him; there was dictation in his joviality;
his principal ornament was a pair of trousers of elephant-leg pattern
of nankeen, with straps of braided copper wire; he carried a stout
rattan worth two hundred francs in his hand, and, as he treated
himself to everything, a strange thing called a cigar in his mouth.
Nothing was sacred to him; he smoked.

"That Tholomyes is astounding!" said the others, with veneration.
"What trousers! What energy!"

As for Fantine, she was a joy to behold. Her splendid teeth had
evidently received an office from God,--laughter. She preferred
to carry her little hat of sewed straw, with its long white strings,
in her hand rather than on her head. Her thick blond hair,
which was inclined to wave, and which easily uncoiled, and which it
was necessary to fasten up incessantly, seemed made for the flight
of Galatea under the willows. Her rosy lips babbled enchantingly.
The corners of her mouth voluptuously turned up, as in the antique masks
of Erigone, had an air of encouraging the audacious; but her long,
shadowy lashes drooped discreetly over the jollity of the lower
part of the face as though to call a halt. There was something
indescribably harmonious and striking about her entire dress.
She wore a gown of mauve barege, little reddish brown buskins,
whose ribbons traced an X on her fine, white, open-worked stockings,
and that sort of muslin spencer, a Marseilles invention, whose name,
canezou, a corruption of the words quinze aout, pronounced after the
fashion of the Canebiere, signifies fine weather, heat, and midday.
The three others, less timid, as we have already said, wore low-necked
dresses without disguise, which in summer, beneath flower-adorned
hats, are very graceful and enticing; but by the side of these
audacious outfits, blond Fantine's canezou, with its transparencies,
its indiscretion, and its reticence, concealing and displaying
at one and the same time, seemed an alluring godsend of decency,
and the famous Court of Love, presided over by the Vicomtesse de Cette,
with the sea-green eyes, would, perhaps, have awarded the prize for
coquetry to this canezou, in the contest for the prize of modesty.
The most ingenious is, at times, the wisest. This does happen.

Brilliant of face, delicate of profile, with eyes of a deep blue,
heavy lids, feet arched and small, wrists and ankles admirably formed,
a white skin which, here and there allowed the azure branching
of the veins to be seen, joy, a cheek that was young and fresh,
the robust throat of the Juno of AEgina, a strong and supple nape
of the neck, shoulders modelled as though by Coustou, with a
voluptuous dimple in the middle, visible through the muslin; a gayety
cooled by dreaminess; sculptural and exquisite--such was Fantine;
and beneath these feminine adornments and these ribbons one could
divine a statue, and in that statue a soul.

Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious of it.
Those rare dreamers, mysterious priests of the beautiful who silently
confront everything with perfection, would have caught a glimpse
in this little working-woman, through the transparency of her
Parisian grace, of the ancient sacred euphony. This daughter of
the shadows was thoroughbred. She was beautiful in the two ways--
style and rhythm. Style is the form of the ideal; rhythm is its movement.

We have said that Fantine was joy; she was also modesty.

To an observer who studied her attentively, that which breathed from
her athwart all the intoxication of her age, the season, and her
love affair, was an invincible expression of reserve and modesty.
She remained a little astonished. This chaste astonishment
is the shade of difference which separates Psyche from Venus.
Fantine had the long, white, fine fingers of the vestal virgin who
stirs the ashes of the sacred fire with a golden pin. Although she
would have refused nothing to Tholomyes, as we shall have more than
ample opportunity to see, her face in repose was supremely virginal;
a sort of serious and almost austere dignity suddenly overwhelmed
her at certain times, and there was nothing more singular and
disturbing than to see gayety become so suddenly extinct there,
and meditation succeed to cheerfulness without any transition state.
This sudden and sometimes severely accentuated gravity resembled the
disdain of a goddess. Her brow, her nose, her chin, presented that
equilibrium of outline which is quite distinct from equilibrium
of proportion, and from which harmony of countenance results;
in the very characteristic interval which separates the base of the nose
from the upper lip, she had that imperceptible and charming fold,
a mysterious sign of chastity, which makes Barberousse fall in love
with a Diana found in the treasures of Iconia.

Love is a fault; so be it. Fantine was innocence floating high
over fault.



That day was composed of dawn, from one end to the other.
All nature seemed to be having a holiday, and to be laughing.
The flower-beds of Saint-Cloud perfumed the air; the breath of the Seine
rustled the leaves vaguely; the branches gesticulated in the wind,
bees pillaged the jasmines; a whole bohemia of butterflies swooped
down upon the yarrow, the clover, and the sterile oats; in the
august park of the King of France there was a pack of vagabonds,
the birds.

The four merry couples, mingled with the sun, the fields, the flowers,
the trees, were resplendent.

And in this community of Paradise, talking, singing, running, dancing,
chasing butterflies, plucking convolvulus, wetting their pink,
open-work stockings in the tall grass, fresh, wild, without malice,
all received, to some extent, the kisses of all, with the exception
of Fantine, who was hedged about with that vague resistance of
hers composed of dreaminess and wildness, and who was in love.
"You always have a queer look about you," said Favourite to her.

Such things are joys. These passages of happy couples are a
profound appeal to life and nature, and make a caress and light
spring forth from everything. There was once a fairy who created
the fields and forests expressly for those in love,--in that
eternal hedge-school of lovers, which is forever beginning anew,
and which will last as long as there are hedges and scholars.
Hence the popularity of spring among thinkers. The patrician
and the knife-grinder, the duke and the peer, the limb of the law,
the courtiers and townspeople, as they used to say in olden times,
all are subjects of this fairy. They laugh and hunt, and there is
in the air the brilliance of an apotheosis--what a transfiguration
effected by love! Notaries' clerks are gods. And the little cries,
the pursuits through the grass, the waists embraced on the fly,
those jargons which are melodies, those adorations which burst
forth in the manner of pronouncing a syllable, those cherries
torn from one mouth by another,--all this blazes forth and takes
its place among the celestial glories. Beautiful women waste
themselves sweetly. They think that this will never come to an end.
Philosophers, poets, painters, observe these ecstasies and know not
what to make of it, so greatly are they dazzled by it. The departure
for Cythera! exclaims Watteau; Lancret, the painter of plebeians,
contemplates his bourgeois, who have flitted away into the azure sky;
Diderot stretches out his arms to all these love idyls, and d'Urfe
mingles druids with them.

After breakfast the four couples went to what was then called the King's
Square to see a newly arrived plant from India, whose name escapes
our memory at this moment, and which, at that epoch, was attracting
all Paris to Saint-Cloud. It was an odd and charming shrub with a
long stem, whose numerous branches, bristling and leafless and as
fine as threads, were covered with a million tiny white rosettes;
this gave the shrub the air of a head of hair studded with flowers.
There was always an admiring crowd about it.

After viewing the shrub, Tholomyes exclaimed, "I offer you asses!"
and having agreed upon a price with the owner of the asses, they
returned by way of Vanvres and Issy. At Issy an incident occurred.
The truly national park, at that time owned by Bourguin the contractor,
happened to be wide open. They passed the gates, visited the manikin
anchorite in his grotto, tried the mysterious little effects of
the famous cabinet of mirrors, the wanton trap worthy of a satyr
become a millionaire or of Turcaret metamorphosed into a Priapus.
They had stoutly shaken the swing attached to the two chestnut-trees
celebrated by the Abbe de Bernis. As he swung these beauties,
one after the other, producing folds in the fluttering skirts
which Greuze would have found to his taste, amid peals of laughter,
the Toulousan Tholomyes, who was somewhat of a Spaniard,
Toulouse being the cousin of Tolosa, sang, to a melancholy chant,
the old ballad gallega, probably inspired by some lovely maid dashing
in full flight upon a rope between two trees:--

"Soy de Badajoz, "Badajoz is my home,
Amor me llama, And Love is my name;
Toda mi alma, To my eyes in flame,
Es en mi ojos, All my soul doth come;
Porque ensenas, For instruction meet
A tuas piernas. I receive at thy feet"

Fantine alone refused to swing.

"I don't like to have people put on airs like that," muttered Favourite,
with a good deal of acrimony.

After leaving the asses there was a fresh delight; they crossed the
Seine in a boat, and proceeding from Passy on foot they reached the
barrier of l'Etoile. They had been up since five o'clock that morning,
as the reader will remember; but bah! there is no such thing
as fatigue on Sunday, said Favourite; on Sunday fatigue does not work.

About three o'clock the four couples, frightened at their happiness,
were sliding down the Russian mountains, a singular edifice which
then occupied the heights of Beaujon, and whose undulating line
was visible above the trees of the Champs Elysees.

From time to time Favourite exclaimed:--

"And the surprise? I claim the surprise."

"Patience," replied Tholomyes.



The Russian mountains having been exhausted, they began to think about
dinner; and the radiant party of eight, somewhat weary at last, became
stranded in Bombarda's public house, a branch establishment which had been
set up in the Champs-Elysees by that famous restaurant-keeper, Bombarda,
whose sign could then be seen in the Rue de Rivoli, near Delorme Alley.

A large but ugly room, with an alcove and a bed at the end (they
had been obliged to put up with this accommodation in view of the
Sunday crowd); two windows whence they could survey beyond the elms,
the quay and the river; a magnificent August sunlight lightly
touching the panes; two tables; upon one of them a triumphant
mountain of bouquets, mingled with the hats of men and women;
at the other the four couples seated round a merry confusion
of platters, dishes, glasses, and bottles; jugs of beer mingled
with flasks of wine; very little order on the table, some disorder
beneath it;

"They made beneath the table
A noise, a clatter of the feet that was abominable,"

says Moliere.

This was the state which the shepherd idyl, begun at five o'clock
in the morning, had reached at half-past four in the afternoon.
The sun was setting; their appetites were satisfied.

The Champs-Elysees, filled with sunshine and with people, were nothing
but light and dust, the two things of which glory is composed.
The horses of Marly, those neighing marbles, were prancing in
a cloud of gold. Carriages were going and coming. A squadron
of magnificent body-guards, with their clarions at their head,
were descending the Avenue de Neuilly; the white flag, showing faintly
rosy in the setting sun, floated over the dome of the Tuileries.
The Place de la Concorde, which had become the Place Louis XV.
once more, was choked with happy promenaders. Many wore the silver
fleur-de-lys suspended from the white-watered ribbon, which had
not yet wholly disappeared from button-holes in the year 1817.
Here and there choruses of little girls threw to the winds,
amid the passersby, who formed into circles and applauded, the then
celebrated Bourbon air, which was destined to strike the Hundred
Days with lightning, and which had for its refrain:--

"Rendez-nous notre pere de Gand,
Rendez-nous notre pere."

"Give us back our father from Ghent,
Give us back our father."

Groups of dwellers in the suburbs, in Sunday array, sometimes even
decorated with the fleur-de-lys, like the bourgeois, scattered over
the large square and the Marigny square, were playing at rings
and revolving on the wooden horses; others were engaged in drinking;
some journeyman printers had on paper caps; their laughter was audible.
Every thing was radiant. It was a time of undisputed peace
and profound royalist security; it was the epoch when a special
and private report of Chief of Police Angeles to the King,
on the subject of the suburbs of Paris, terminated with these lines:--

"Taking all things into consideration, Sire, there is nothing to be
feared from these people. They are as heedless and as indolent as cats.
The populace is restless in the provinces; it is not in Paris.
These are very pretty men, Sire. It would take all of two of them
to make one of your grenadiers. There is nothing to be feared on
the part of the populace of Paris the capital. It is remarkable
that the stature of this population should have diminished in the
last fifty years; and the populace of the suburbs is still more
puny than at the time of the Revolution. It is not dangerous.
In short, it is an amiable rabble."

Prefects of the police do not deem it possible that a cat can transform
itself into a lion; that does happen, however, and in that lies
the miracle wrought by the populace of Paris. Moreover, the cat so
despised by Count Angles possessed the esteem of the republics of old.
In their eyes it was liberty incarnate; and as though to serve
as pendant to the Minerva Aptera of the Piraeus, there stood on
the public square in Corinth the colossal bronze figure of a cat.
The ingenuous police of the Restoration beheld the populace of Paris
in too "rose-colored" a light; it is not so much of "an amiable rabble"
as it is thought. The Parisian is to the Frenchman what the Athenian
was to the Greek: no one sleeps more soundly than he, no one is
more frankly frivolous and lazy than he, no one can better assume
the air of forgetfulness; let him not be trusted nevertheless;
he is ready for any sort of cool deed; but when there is glory at
the end of it, he is worthy of admiration in every sort of fury.
Give him a pike, he will produce the 10th of August; give him a gun,
you will have Austerlitz. He is Napoleon's stay and Danton's resource.
Is it a question of country, he enlists; is it a question of liberty,
he tears up the pavements. Beware! his hair filled with wrath, is epic;
his blouse drapes itself like the folds of a chlamys. Take care! he
will make of the first Rue Grenetat which comes to hand Caudine Forks.
When the hour strikes, this man of the faubourgs will grow in stature;
this little man will arise, and his gaze will be terrible, and his
breath will become a tempest, and there will issue forth from that
slender chest enough wind to disarrange the folds of the Alps.
It is, thanks to the suburban man of Paris, that the Revolution,
mixed with arms, conquers Europe. He sings; it is his delight.
Proportion his song to his nature, and you will see! As long as he
has for refrain nothing but la Carmagnole, he only overthrows
Louis XVI.; make him sing the Marseillaise, and he will free
the world.

This note jotted down on the margin of Angles' report, we will return
to our four couples. The dinner, as we have said, was drawing
to its close.



Chat at table, the chat of love; it is as impossible to reproduce
one as the other; the chat of love is a cloud; the chat at table
is smoke.

Fameuil and Dahlia were humming. Tholomyes was drinking.
Zephine was laughing, Fantine smiling, Listolier blowing a wooden
trumpet which he had purchased at Saint-Cloud.

Favourite gazed tenderly at Blachevelle and said:--

"Blachevelle, I adore you."

This called forth a question from Blachevelle:--

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

"I!" cried Favourite. "Ah! Do not say that even in jest!
If you were to cease to love me, I would spring after you, I would
scratch you, I should rend you, I would throw you into the water,
I would have you arrested."

Blachevelle smiled with the voluptuous self-conceit of a man
who is tickled in his self-love. Favourite resumed:--

"Yes, I would scream to the police! Ah! I should not restrain myself,
not at all! Rabble!"

Blachevelle threw himself back in his chair, in an ecstasy,
and closed both eyes proudly.

Dahlia, as she ate, said in a low voice to Favourite, amid the uproar:--

"So you really idolize him deeply, that Blachevelle of yours?"

"I? I detest him," replied Favourite in the same tone, seizing her
fork again. "He is avaricious. I love the little fellow opposite
me in my house. He is very nice, that young man; do you know him?
One can see that he is an actor by profession. I love actors.
As soon as he comes in, his mother says to him: `Ah! mon Dieu! my
peace of mind is gone. There he goes with his shouting. But, my dear,
you are splitting my head!' So he goes up to rat-ridden garrets,
to black holes, as high as he can mount, and there he sets to singing,
declaiming, how do I know what? so that he can be heard down stairs!
He earns twenty sous a day at an attorney's by penning quibbles.
He is the son of a former precentor of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas.
Ah! he is very nice. He idolizes me so, that one day when he saw
me making batter for some pancakes, he said to me: `Mamselle, make
your gloves into fritters, and I will eat them.' It is only
artists who can say such things as that. Ah! he is very nice.
I am in a fair way to go out of my head over that little fellow.
Never mind; I tell Blachevelle that I adore him--how I lie! Hey! How I
do lie!"

Favourite paused, and then went on:--

"I am sad, you see, Dahlia. It has done nothing but rain all summer;
the wind irritates me; the wind does not abate. Blachevelle is
very stingy; there are hardly any green peas in the market;
one does not know what to eat. I have the spleen, as the English say,
butter is so dear! and then you see it is horrible, here we are
dining in a room with a bed in it, and that disgusts me with life."



In the meantime, while some sang, the rest talked together
tumultuously all at once; it was no longer anything but noise.
Tholomyes intervened.

"Let us not talk at random nor too fast," he exclaimed.
"Let us reflect, if we wish to be brilliant. Too much improvisation
empties the mind in a stupid way. Running beer gathers no froth.
No haste, gentlemen. Let us mingle majesty with the feast. Let us
eat with meditation; let us make haste slowly. Let us not hurry.
Consider the springtime; if it makes haste, it is done for;
that is to say, it gets frozen. Excess of zeal ruins peach-trees
and apricot-trees. Excess of zeal kills the grace and the mirth
of good dinners. No zeal, gentlemen! Grimod de la Reyniere agrees
with Talleyrand."

A hollow sound of rebellion rumbled through the group.

"Leave us in peace, Tholomyes," said Blachevelle.

"Down with the tyrant!" said Fameuil.

"Bombarda, Bombance, and Bambochel!" cried Listolier.

"Sunday exists," resumed Fameuil.

"We are sober," added Listolier.

"Tholomyes," remarked Blachevelle, "contemplate my calmness [mon calme]."

"You are the Marquis of that," retorted Tholomyes.

This mediocre play upon words produced the effect of a stone in a pool.
The Marquis de Montcalm was at that time a celebrated royalist.
All the frogs held their peace.

"Friends," cried Tholomyes, with the accent of a man who had
recovered his empire, "Come to yourselves. This pun which has
fallen from the skies must not be received with too much stupor.
Everything which falls in that way is not necessarily worthy of
enthusiasm and respect. The pun is the dung of the mind which soars.
The jest falls, no matter where; and the mind after producing a piece
of stupidity plunges into the azure depths. A whitish speck flattened
against the rock does not prevent the condor from soaring aloft.
Far be it from me to insult the pun! I honor it in proportion
to its merits; nothing more. All the most august, the most sublime,
the most charming of humanity, and perhaps outside of humanity,
have made puns. Jesus Christ made a pun on St. Peter, Moses on Isaac,
AEschylus on Polynices, Cleopatra on Octavius. And observe that
Cleopatra's pun preceded the battle of Actium, and that had it
not been for it, no one would have remembered the city of Toryne,
a Greek name which signifies a ladle. That once conceded, I return
to my exhortation. I repeat, brothers, I repeat, no zeal, no hubbub,
no excess; even in witticisms, gayety, jollities, or plays on words.
Listen to me. I have the prudence of Amphiaraus and the baldness
of Caesar. There must be a limit, even to rebuses. Est modus
in rebus.

"There must be a limit, even to dinners. You are fond of
apple turnovers, ladies; do not indulge in them to excess.
Even in the matter of turnovers, good sense and art are requisite.
Gluttony chastises the glutton, Gula punit Gulax. Indigestion is
charged by the good God with preaching morality to stomachs.
And remember this: each one of our passions, even love, has a stomach
which must not be filled too full. In all things the word finis
must be written in good season; self-control must be exercised
when the matter becomes urgent; the bolt must be drawn on appetite;
one must set one's own fantasy to the violin, and carry one's self
to the post. The sage is the man who knows how, at a given moment,
to effect his own arrest. Have some confidence in me, for I have
succeeded to some extent in my study of the law, according to the
verdict of my examinations, for I know the difference between the
question put and the question pending, for I have sustained a thesis
in Latin upon the manner in which torture was administered at Rome
at the epoch when Munatius Demens was quaestor of the Parricide;
because I am going to be a doctor, apparently it does not follow
that it is absolutely necessary that I should be an imbecile.
I recommend you to moderation in your desires. It is true that my
name is Felix Tholomyes; I speak well. Happy is he who, when the
hour strikes, takes a heroic resolve, and abdicates like Sylla
or Origenes."

Favourite listened with profound attention.

"Felix," said she, "what a pretty word! I love that name.
It is Latin; it means prosper."

Tholomyes went on:--

"Quirites, gentlemen, caballeros, my friends. Do you wish never to
feel the prick, to do without the nuptial bed, and to brave love?
Nothing more simple. Here is the receipt: lemonade, excessive exercise,
hard labor; work yourself to death, drag blocks, sleep not, hold vigil,
gorge yourself with nitrous beverages, and potions of nymphaeas;
drink emulsions of poppies and agnus castus; season this with
a strict diet, starve yourself, and add thereto cold baths,
girdles of herbs, the application of a plate of lead, lotions made
with the subacetate of lead, and fomentations of oxycrat."

"I prefer a woman," said Listolier.

"Woman," resumed Tholomyes; "distrust her. Woe to him who yields
himself to the unstable heart of woman! Woman is perfidious
and disingenuous. She detests the serpent from professional jealousy.
The serpent is the shop over the way."

"Tholomyes!" cried Blachevelle, "you are drunk!"

"Pardieu," said Tholomyes.

"Then be gay," resumed Blachevelle.

"I agree to that," responded Tholomyes.

And, refilling his glass, he rose.

"Glory to wine! Nunc te, Bacche, canam! Pardon me ladies;
that is Spanish. And the proof of it, senoras, is this: like people,
like cask. The arrobe of Castile contains sixteen litres; the cantaro
of Alicante, twelve; the almude of the Canaries, twenty-five;
the cuartin of the Balearic Isles, twenty-six; the boot of
Tzar Peter, thirty. Long live that Tzar who was great, and long
live his boot, which was still greater! Ladies, take the advice
of a friend; make a mistake in your neighbor if you see fit.
The property of love is to err. A love affair is not made to crouch
down and brutalize itself like an English serving-maid who has
callouses on her knees from scrubbing. It is not made for that;
it errs gayly, our gentle love. It has been said, error is human;
I say, error is love. Ladies, I idolize you all. O Zephine,
O Josephine, face more than irregular, you would be charming were you
not all askew. You have the air of a pretty face upon which some one
has sat down by mistake. As for Favourite, O nymphs and muses! one day
when Blachevelle was crossing the gutter in the Rue Guerin-Boisseau,
he espied a beautiful girl with white stockings well drawn up,
which displayed her legs. This prologue pleased him, and Blachevelle
fell in love. The one he loved was Favourite. O Favourite,
thou hast Ionian lips. There was a Greek painter named Euphorion,
who was surnamed the painter of the lips. That Greek alone would
have been worthy to paint thy mouth. Listen! before thee, there was
never a creature worthy of the name. Thou wert made to receive the
apple like Venus, or to eat it like Eve; beauty begins with thee.
I have just referred to Eve; it is thou who hast created her.
Thou deservest the letters-patent of the beautiful woman. O Favourite,
I cease to address you as `thou,' because I pass from poetry to prose.
You were speaking of my name a little while ago. That touched me;
but let us, whoever we may be, distrust names. They may delude us.
I am called Felix, and I am not happy. Words are liars. Let us
not blindly accept the indications which they afford us. It would
be a mistake to write to Liege[2] for corks, and to Pau for gloves.
Miss Dahlia, were I in your place, I would call myself Rosa.
A flower should smell sweet, and woman should have wit. I say nothing
of Fantine; she is a dreamer, a musing, thoughtful, pensive person;
she is a phantom possessed of the form of a nymph and the modesty
of a nun, who has strayed into the life of a grisette, but who takes
refuge in illusions, and who sings and prays and gazes into the
azure without very well knowing what she sees or what she is doing,
and who, with her eyes fixed on heaven, wanders in a garden where
there are more birds than are in existence. O Fantine, know this:
I, Tholomyes, I am all illusion; but she does not even hear me,
that blond maid of Chimeras! as for the rest, everything about her
is freshness, suavity, youth, sweet morning light. O Fantine,
maid worthy of being called Marguerite or Pearl, you are a woman
from the beauteous Orient. Ladies, a second piece of advice:
do not marry; marriage is a graft; it takes well or ill;
avoid that risk. But bah! what am I saying? I am wasting my words.
Girls are incurable on the subject of marriage, and all that we
wise men can say will not prevent the waistcoat-makers and the
shoe-stitchers from dreaming of husbands studded with diamonds.
Well, so be it; but, my beauties, remember this, you eat too much sugar.
You have but one fault, O woman, and that is nibbling sugar.
O nibbling sex, your pretty little white teeth adore sugar.
Now, heed me well, sugar is a salt. All salts are withering.
Sugar is the most desiccating of all salts; it sucks the liquids
of the blood through the veins; hence the coagulation, and then the
solidification of the blood; hence tubercles in the lungs, hence death.
That is why diabetes borders on consumption. Then, do not crunch sugar,
and you will live. I turn to the men: gentlemen, make conquest,
rob each other of your well-beloved without remorse. Chassez across.
In love there are no friends. Everywhere where there is a pretty
woman hostility is open. No quarter, war to the death! a pretty
woman is a casus belli; a pretty woman is flagrant misdemeanor.
All the invasions of history have been determined by petticoats.
Woman is man's right. Romulus carried off the Sabines; William carried
off the Saxon women; Caesar carried off the Roman women. The man
who is not loved soars like a vulture over the mistresses of other men;
and for my own part, to all those unfortunate men who are widowers,
I throw the sublime proclamation of Bonaparte to the army of Italy:
"Soldiers, you are in need of everything; the enemy has it."

[2] Liege: a cork-tree. Pau: a jest on peau, skin.

Tholomyes paused.

"Take breath, Tholomyes," said Blachevelle.

At the same moment Blachevelle, supported by Listolier and Fameuil,
struck up to a plaintive air, one of those studio songs composed
of the first words which come to hand, rhymed richly and not at all,
as destitute of sense as the gesture of the tree and the sound
of the wind, which have their birth in the vapor of pipes, and are
dissipated and take their flight with them. This is the couplet
by which the group replied to Tholomyes' harangue:--

"The father turkey-cocks so grave
Some money to an agent gave,
That master good Clermont-Tonnerre
Might be made pope on Saint Johns' day fair.
But this good Clermont could not be
Made pope, because no priest was he;
And then their agent, whose wrath burned,
With all their money back returned."

This was not calculated to calm Tholomyes' improvisation; he emptied
his glass, filled, refilled it, and began again:--

"Down with wisdom! Forget all that I have said. Let us be neither
prudes nor prudent men nor prudhommes. I propose a toast to mirth;
be merry. Let us complete our course of law by folly and eating!
Indigestion and the digest. Let Justinian be the male, and Feasting,
the female! Joy in the depths! Live, O creation! The world
is a great diamond. I am happy. The birds are astonishing.
What a festival everywhere! The nightingale is a gratuitous Elleviou.
Summer, I salute thee! O Luxembourg! O Georgics of the Rue Madame,
and of the Allee de l'Observatoire! O pensive infantry soldiers!
O all those charming nurses who, while they guard the children,
amuse themselves! The pampas of America would please me if I had not
the arcades of the Odeon. My soul flits away into the virgin forests
and to the savannas. All is beautiful. The flies buzz in the sun.
The sun has sneezed out the humming bird. Embrace me, Fantine!"

He made a mistake and embraced Favourite.



"The dinners are better at Edon's than at Bombarda's," exclaimed Zephine.

"I prefer Bombarda to Edon," declared Blachevelle. "There is
more luxury. It is more Asiatic. Look at the room downstairs;
there are mirrors [glaces] on the walls."

"I prefer them [glaces, ices] on my plate," said Favourite.

Blachevelle persisted:--

"Look at the knives. The handles are of silver at Bombarda's
and of bone at Edon's. Now, silver is more valuable than bone."

"Except for those who have a silver chin," observed Tholomyes.

He was looking at the dome of the Invalides, which was visible
from Bombarda's windows.

A pause ensued.

"Tholomyes," exclaimed Fameuil, "Listolier and I were having
a discussion just now."

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

"We were disputing about philosophy."


"Which do you prefer, Descartes or Spinoza?"

"Desaugiers," said Tholomyes.

This decree pronounced, he took a drink, and went on:--

"I consent to live. All is not at an end on earth since we can still
talk nonsense. For that I return thanks to the immortal gods.
We lie. One lies, but one laughs. One affirms, but one doubts.
The unexpected bursts forth from the syllogism. That is fine.
There are still human beings here below who know how to open
and close the surprise box of the paradox merrily. This, ladies,
which you are drinking with so tranquil an air is Madeira wine,
you must know, from the vineyard of Coural das Freiras, which is
three hundred and seventeen fathoms above the level of the sea.
Attention while you drink! three hundred and seventeen fathoms!
and Monsieur Bombarda, the magnificent eating-house keeper, gives you
those three hundred and seventeen fathoms for four francs and
fifty centimes."

Again Fameuil interrupted him:--

"Tholomyes, your opinions fix the law. Who is your favorite author?"



"No; Choux."

And Tholomyes continued:--

"Honor to Bombarda! He would equal Munophis of Elephanta if he
could but get me an Indian dancing-girl, and Thygelion of Chaeronea
if he could bring me a Greek courtesan; for, oh, ladies! there
were Bombardas in Greece and in Egypt. Apuleius tells us of them.
Alas! always the same, and nothing new; nothing more unpublished
by the creator in creation! Nil sub sole novum, says Solomon;
amor omnibus idem, says Virgil; and Carabine mounts with Carabin into
the bark at Saint-Cloud, as Aspasia embarked with Pericles upon the
fleet at Samos. One last word. Do you know what Aspasia was, ladies?
Although she lived at an epoch when women had, as yet, no soul,
she was a soul; a soul of a rosy and purple hue, more ardent hued
than fire, fresher than the dawn. Aspasia was a creature in whom
two extremes of womanhood met; she was the goddess prostitute;
Socrates plus Manon Lescaut. Aspasia was created in case a mistress
should be needed for Prometheus."

Tholomyes, once started, would have found some difficulty in stopping,
had not a horse fallen down upon the quay just at that moment.
The shock caused the cart and the orator to come to a dead halt.
It was a Beauceron mare, old and thin, and one fit for the knacker,
which was dragging a very heavy cart. On arriving in front of Bombarda's,
the worn-out, exhausted beast had refused to proceed any further.
This incident attracted a crowd. Hardly had the cursing and indignant
carter had time to utter with proper energy the sacramental word,
Matin (the jade), backed up with a pitiless cut of the whip,
when the jade fell, never to rise again. On hearing the hubbub made
by the passersby, Tholomyes' merry auditors turned their heads,
and Tholomyes took advantage of the opportunity to bring his allocution
to a close with this melancholy strophe:--

"Elle etait de ce monde ou coucous et carrosses[3]
Ont le meme destin;
Et, rosse, elle a vecu ce que vivant les rosses,
L'espace d'un matin!"

[3] She belonged to that circle where cuckoos and carriages share
the same fate; and a jade herself, she lived, as jades live,
for the space of a morning (or jade).

"Poor horse!" sighed Fantine.

And Dahlia exclaimed:--

"There is Fantine on the point of crying over horses. How can
one be such a pitiful fool as that!"

At that moment Favourite, folding her arms and throwing her head back,
looked resolutely at Tholomyes and said:--

"Come, now! the surprise?"

"Exactly. The moment has arrived," replied Tholomyes.
"Gentlemen, the hour for giving these ladies a surprise has struck.
Wait for us a moment, ladies."

"It begins with a kiss," said Blachevelle.

"On the brow," added Tholomyes.

Each gravely bestowed a kiss on his mistress's brow; then all four
filed out through the door, with their fingers on their lips.

Favourite clapped her hands on their departure.

"It is beginning to be amusing already," said she.

"Don't be too long," murmured Fantine; "we are waiting for you."



When the young girls were left alone, they leaned two by two on
the window-sills, chatting, craning out their heads, and talking
from one window to the other.

They saw the young men emerge from the Cafe Bombarda arm in arm.
The latter turned round, made signs to them, smiled, and disappeared
in that dusty Sunday throng which makes a weekly invasion into the

"Don't be long!" cried Fantine.

"What are they going to bring us?" said Zephine.

"It will certainly be something pretty," said Dahlia.

"For my part," said Favourite, "I want it to be of gold."

Their attention was soon distracted by the movements on the shore
of the lake, which they could see through the branches of the
large trees, and which diverted them greatly.

It was the hour for the departure of the mail-coaches and diligences.
Nearly all the stage-coaches for the south and west passed through
the Champs-Elysees. The majority followed the quay and went through
the Passy Barrier. From moment to moment, some huge vehicle,
painted yellow and black, heavily loaded, noisily harnessed,
rendered shapeless by trunks, tarpaulins, and valises, full of heads
which immediately disappeared, rushed through the crowd with all
the sparks of a forge, with dust for smoke, and an air of fury,
grinding the pavements, changing all the paving-stones into steels.
This uproar delighted the young girls. Favourite exclaimed:--

"What a row! One would say that it was a pile of chains flying away."

It chanced that one of these vehicles, which they could only see
with difficulty through the thick elms, halted for a moment,
then set out again at a gallop. This surprised Fantine.

"That's odd!" said she. "I thought the diligence never stopped."

Favourite shrugged her shoulders.

"This Fantine is surprising. I am coming to take a look at her out
of curiosity. She is dazzled by the simplest things. Suppose a case:
I am a traveller; I say to the diligence, `I will go on in advance;
you shall pick me up on the quay as you pass.' The diligence passes,
sees me, halts, and takes me. That is done every day. You do not
know life, my dear."

In this manner a certain time elapsed. All at once Favourite made
a movement, like a person who is just waking up.

"Well," said she, "and the surprise?"

"Yes, by the way," joined in Dahlia, "the famous surprise?"

"They are a very long time about it!" said Fantine.

As Fantine concluded this sigh, the waiter who had served them
at dinner entered. He held in his hand something which resembled
a letter.

"What is that?" demanded Favourite.

The waiter replied:--

"It is a paper that those gentlemen left for these ladies."

"Why did you not bring it at once?"

"Because," said the waiter, "the gentlemen ordered me not to deliver
it to the ladies for an hour."

Favourite snatched the paper from the waiter's hand. It was,
in fact, a letter.

"Stop!" said she; "there is no address; but this is what is written
on it--"


She tore the letter open hastily, opened it, and read [she knew
how to read]:--


"You must know that we have parents. Parents--you do not know much
about such things. They are called fathers and mothers by the
civil code, which is puerile and honest. Now, these parents groan,
these old folks implore us, these good men and these good women call us
prodigal sons; they desire our return, and offer to kill calves for us.
Being virtuous, we obey them. At the hour when you read this,
five fiery horses will be bearing us to our papas and mammas. We are
pulling up our stakes, as Bossuet says. We are going; we are gone.
We flee in the arms of Lafitte and on the wings of Caillard.
The Toulouse diligence tears us from the abyss, and the abyss
is you, O our little beauties! We return to society, to duty,
to respectability, at full trot, at the rate of three leagues an hour.
It is necessary for the good of the country that we should be,
like the rest of the world, prefects, fathers of families, rural police,
and councillors of state. Venerate us. We are sacrificing ourselves.
Mourn for us in haste, and replace us with speed. If this letter
lacerates you, do the same by it. Adieu.

"For the space of nearly two years we have made you happy.
We bear you no grudge for that.

"Postscriptum. The dinner is paid for."

The four young women looked at each other.

Favourite was the first to break the silence.

"Well!" she exclaimed, "it's a very pretty farce, all the same."

"It is very droll," said Zephine.

"That must have been Blachevelle's idea," resumed Favourite.
"It makes me in love with him. No sooner is he gone than he is loved.
This is an adventure, indeed."

"No," said Dahlia; "it was one of Tholomyes' ideas. That is evident.

"In that case," retorted Favourite, "death to Blachevelle, and long
live Tholomyes!"

"Long live Tholomyes!" exclaimed Dahlia and Zephine.

And they burst out laughing.

Fantine laughed with the rest.

An hour later, when she had returned to her room, she wept.
It was her first love affair, as we have said; she had given herself
to this Tholomyes as to a husband, and the poor girl had a child.




There was, at Montfermeil, near Paris, during the first quarter
of this century, a sort of cook-shop which no longer exists.
This cook-shop was kept by some people named Thenardier,
husband and wife. It was situated in Boulanger Lane. Over the door
there was a board nailed flat against the wall. Upon this board
was painted something which resembled a man carrying another man on
his back, the latter wearing the big gilt epaulettes of a general,
with large silver stars; red spots represented blood; the rest of
the picture consisted of smoke, and probably represented a battle.
Below ran this inscription: AT THE SIGN OF SERGEANT OF WATERLOO
(Au Sargent de Waterloo).

Nothing is more common than a cart or a truck at the door of
a hostelry. Nevertheless, the vehicle, or, to speak more accurately,
the fragment of a vehicle, which encumbered the street in front
of the cook-shop of the Sergeant of Waterloo, one evening in the
spring of 1818, would certainly have attracted, by its mass,
the attention of any painter who had passed that way.

It was the fore-carriage of one of those trucks which are used
in wooded tracts of country, and which serve to transport thick
planks and the trunks of trees. This fore-carriage was composed
of a massive iron axle-tree with a pivot, into which was fitted
a heavy shaft, and which was supported by two huge wheels.
The whole thing was compact, overwhelming, and misshapen.
It seemed like the gun-carriage of an enormous cannon. The ruts of
the road had bestowed on the wheels, the fellies, the hub, the axle,
and the shaft, a layer of mud, a hideous yellowish daubing hue,
tolerably like that with which people are fond of ornamenting cathedrals.
The wood was disappearing under mud, and the iron beneath rust.
Under the axle-tree hung, like drapery, a huge chain, worthy of
some Goliath of a convict. This chain suggested, not the beams,
which it was its office to transport, but the mastodons and mammoths
which it might have served to harness; it had the air of the galleys,
but of cyclopean and superhuman galleys, and it seemed to have been
detached from some monster. Homer would have bound Polyphemus with it,
and Shakespeare, Caliban.

Why was that fore-carriage of a truck in that place in the street?
In the first place, to encumber the street; next, in order
that it might finish the process of rusting. There is a throng
of institutions in the old social order, which one comes across
in this fashion as one walks about outdoors, and which have
no other reasons for existence than the above.

The centre of the chain swung very near the ground in the middle,
and in the loop, as in the rope of a swing, there were seated
and grouped, on that particular evening, in exquisite interlacement,
two little girls; one about two years and a half old, the other,
eighteen months; the younger in the arms of the other. A handkerchief,
cleverly knotted about them, prevented their falling out.
A mother had caught sight of that frightful chain, and had said,
"Come! there's a plaything for my children."

The two children, who were dressed prettily and with some elegance,
were radiant with pleasure; one would have said that they were two
roses amid old iron; their eyes were a triumph; their fresh cheeks
were full of laughter. One had chestnut hair; the other, brown.
Their innocent faces were two delighted surprises; a blossoming
shrub which grew near wafted to the passers-by perfumes which seemed
to emanate from them; the child of eighteen months displayed her
pretty little bare stomach with the chaste indecency of childhood.
Above and around these two delicate heads, all made of happiness
and steeped in light, the gigantic fore-carriage, black with rust,
almost terrible, all entangled in curves and wild angles,
rose in a vault, like the entrance of a cavern. A few paces apart,
crouching down upon the threshold of the hostelry, the mother,
not a very prepossessing woman, by the way, though touching at
that moment, was swinging the two children by means of a long cord,
watching them carefully, for fear of accidents, with that animal
and celestial expression which is peculiar to maternity. At every
backward and forward swing the hideous links emitted a strident sound,
which resembled a cry of rage; the little girls were in ecstasies;
the setting sun mingled in this joy, and nothing could be more charming
than this caprice of chance which had made of a chain of Titans the
swing of cherubim.

As she rocked her little ones, the mother hummed in a discordant
voice a romance then celebrated:--

"It must be, said a warrior."

Her song, and the contemplation of her daughters, prevented her
hearing and seeing what was going on in the street.

In the meantime, some one had approached her, as she was beginning
the first couplet of the romance, and suddenly she heard a voice
saying very near her ear:--

"You have two beautiful children there, Madame."

"To the fair and tender Imogene--"

replied the mother, continuing her romance; then she turned her head.

A woman stood before her, a few paces distant. This woman also
had a child, which she carried in her arms.

She was carrying, in addition, a large carpet-bag, which seemed
very heavy.

This woman's child was one of the most divine creatures that it
is possible to behold. lt was a girl, two or three years of age.
She could have entered into competition with the two other little ones,
so far as the coquetry of her dress was concerned; she wore a cap of
fine linen, ribbons on her bodice, and Valenciennes lace on her cap.
The folds of her skirt were raised so as to permit a view of her
white, firm, and dimpled leg. She was admirably rosy and healthy.
The little beauty inspired a desire to take a bite from the apples
of her cheeks. Of her eyes nothing could be known, except that
they must be very large, and that they had magnificent lashes.
She was asleep.

She slept with that slumber of absolute confidence peculiar
to her age. The arms of mothers are made of tenderness; in them
children sleep profoundly.

As for the mother, her appearance was sad and poverty-stricken.
She was dressed like a working-woman who is inclined to turn into
a peasant again. She was young. Was she handsome? Perhaps; but in
that attire it was not apparent. Her hair, a golden lock of which
had escaped, seemed very thick, but was severely concealed beneath
an ugly, tight, close, nun-like cap, tied under the chin. A smile
displays beautiful teeth when one has them; but she did not smile.
Her eyes did not seem to have been dry for a very long time.
She was pale; she had a very weary and rather sickly appearance.
She gazed upon her daughter asleep in her arms with the air peculiar
to a mother who has nursed her own child. A large blue handkerchief,
such as the Invalides use, was folded into a fichu, and concealed her
figure clumsily. Her hands were sunburnt and all dotted with freckles,
her forefinger was hardened and lacerated with the needle; she wore
a cloak of coarse brown woollen stuff, a linen gown, and coarse shoes.
It was Fantine.

It was Fantine, but difficult to recognize. Nevertheless, on scrutinizing
her attentively, it was evident that she still retained her beauty.
A melancholy fold, which resembled the beginning of irony,
wrinkled her right cheek. As for her toilette, that aerial toilette
of muslin and ribbons, which seemed made of mirth, of folly,
and of music, full of bells, and perfumed with lilacs had vanished
like that beautiful and dazzling hoar-frost which is mistaken
for diamonds in the sunlight; it melts and leaves the branch quite black.

Ten months had elapsed since the "pretty farce."

What had taken place during those ten months? It can be divined.

After abandonment, straightened circumstances. Fantine had
immediately lost sight of Favourite, Zephine and Dahlia; the bond
once broken on the side of the men, it was loosed between the women;
they would have been greatly astonished had any one told them
a fortnight later, that they had been friends; there no longer
existed any reason for such a thing. Fantine had remained alone.
The father of her child gone,--alas! such ruptures are irrevocable,--
she found herself absolutely isolated, minus the habit of work and plus
the taste for pleasure. Drawn away by her liaison with Tholomyes
to disdain the pretty trade which she knew, she had neglected to keep
her market open; it was now closed to her. She had no resource.
Fantine barely knew how to read, and did not know how to write;
in her childhood she had only been taught to sign her name;
she had a public letter-writer indite an epistle to Tholomyes,
then a second, then a third. Tholomyes replied to none of them.
Fantine heard the gossips say, as they looked at her child:
"Who takes those children seriously! One only shrugs one's shoulders
over such children!" Then she thought of Tholomyes, who had shrugged
his shoulders over his child, and who did not take that innocent
being seriously; and her heart grew gloomy toward that man.
But what was she to do? She no longer knew to whom to apply.
She had committed a fault, but the foundation of her nature,
as will be remembered, was modesty and virtue. She was vaguely
conscious that she was on the verge of falling into distress,
and of gliding into a worse state. Courage was necessary;
she possessed it, and held herself firm. The idea of returning to
her native town of M. sur M. occurred to her. There, some one might
possibly know her and give her work; yes, but it would be necessary
to conceal her fault. In a confused way she perceived the necessity
of a separation which would be more painful than the first one.
Her heart contracted, but she took her resolution. Fantine, as we
shall see, had the fierce bravery of life. She had already
valiantly renounced finery, had dressed herself in linen, and had
put all her silks, all her ornaments, all her ribbons, and all
her laces on her daughter, the only vanity which was left to her,
and a holy one it was. She sold all that she had, which produced
for her two hundred francs; her little debts paid, she had only
about eighty francs left. At the age of twenty-two, on a beautiful
spring morning, she quitted Paris, bearing her child on her back.
Any one who had seen these two pass would have had pity on them.
This woman had, in all the world, nothing but her child, and the
child had, in all the world, no one but this woman. Fantine had
nursed her child, and this had tired her chest, and she coughed
a little.

We shall have no further occasion to speak of M. Felix Tholomyes.
Let us confine ourselves to saying, that, twenty years later,
under King Louis Philippe, he was a great provincial lawyer,
wealthy and influential, a wise elector, and a very severe juryman;
he was still a man of pleasure.

Towards the middle of the day, after having, from time to time,
for the sake of resting herself, travelled, for three or four sous
a league, in what was then known as the Petites Voitures des Environs
de Paris, the "little suburban coach service," Fantine found herself
at Montfermeil, in the alley Boulanger.

As she passed the Thenardier hostelry, the two little girls,
blissful in the monster swing, had dazzled her in a manner, and she
had halted in front of that vision of joy.

Charms exist. These two little girls were a charm to this mother.

She gazed at them in much emotion. The presence of angels is
an announcement of Paradise. She thought that, above this inn,
she beheld the mysterious HERE of Providence. These two little
creatures were evidently happy. She gazed at them, she admired them,
in such emotion that at the moment when their mother was recovering
her breath between two couplets of her song, she could not refrain
from addressing to her the remark which we have just read:--

"You have two pretty children, Madame."

The most ferocious creatures are disarmed by caresses bestowed
on their young.

The mother raised her head and thanked her, and bade the wayfarer
sit down on the bench at the door, she herself being seated
on the threshold. The two women began to chat.

"My name is Madame Thenardier," said the mother of the two little girls.
"We keep this inn."

Then, her mind still running on her romance, she resumed humming
between her teeth:--

"It must be so; I am a knight,
And I am off to Palestine."

This Madame Thenardier was a sandy-complexioned woman, thin and angular--
the type of the soldier's wife in all its unpleasantness;
and what was odd, with a languishing air, which she owed to her
perusal of romances. She was a simpering, but masculine creature.
Old romances produce that effect when rubbed against the imagination
of cook-shop woman. She was still young; she was barely thirty.
If this crouching woman had stood upright, her lofty stature and her
frame of a perambulating colossus suitable for fairs, might have
frightened the traveller at the outset, troubled her confidence,
and disturbed what caused what we have to relate to vanish.
A person who is seated instead of standing erect--destinies hang upon
such a thing as that.

The traveller told her story, with slight modifications.

That she was a working-woman; that her husband was dead;
that her work in Paris had failed her, and that she was on her way
to seek it elsewhere, in her own native parts; that she had left
Paris that morning on foot; that, as she was carrying her child,
and felt fatigued, she had got into the Villemomble coach when she
met it; that from Villemomble she had come to Montfermeil on foot;
that the little one had walked a little, but not much, because she
was so young, and that she had been obliged to take her up,
and the jewel had fallen asleep.

At this word she bestowed on her daughter a passionate kiss,
which woke her. The child opened her eyes, great blue eyes like
her mother's, and looked at--what? Nothing; with that serious
and sometimes severe air of little children, which is a mystery
of their luminous innocence in the presence of our twilight
of virtue. One would say that they feel themselves to be angels,
and that they know us to be men. Then the child began to laugh;
and although the mother held fast to her, she slipped to the ground
with the unconquerable energy of a little being which wished to run.
All at once she caught sight of the two others in the swing,
stopped short, and put out her tongue, in sign of admiration.

Mother Thenardier released her daughters, made them descend from
the swing, and said:--

"Now amuse yourselves, all three of you."

Children become acquainted quickly at that age, and at the expiration
of a minute the little Thenardiers were playing with the new-comer
at making holes in the ground, which was an immense pleasure.

The new-comer was very gay; the goodness of the mother is written
in the gayety of the child; she had seized a scrap of wood
which served her for a shovel, and energetically dug a cavity big
enough for a fly. The grave-digger's business becomes a subject
for laughter when performed by a child.

The two women pursued their chat.

"What is your little one's name?"


For Cosette, read Euphrasie. The child's name was Euphrasie.
But out of Euphrasie the mother had made Cosette by that sweet
and graceful instinct of mothers and of the populace which changes
Josepha into Pepita, and Francoise into Sillette. It is a sort
of derivative which disarranges and disconcerts the whole science
of etymologists. We have known a grandmother who succeeded in turning
Theodore into Gnon.

"How old is she?"

"She is going on three."

"That is the age of my eldest."

In the meantime, the three little girls were grouped in an attitude
of profound anxiety and blissfulness; an event had happened;
a big worm had emerged from the ground, and they were afraid;
and they were in ecstasies over it.

Their radiant brows touched each other; one would have said
that there were three heads in one aureole.

"How easily children get acquainted at once!" exclaimed Mother Thenardier;
"one would swear that they were three sisters!"

This remark was probably the spark which the other mother had been
waiting for. She seized the Thenardier's hand, looked at her fixedly,
and said:--

"Will you keep my child for me?"

The Thenardier made one of those movements of surprise which signify
neither assent nor refusal.

Cosette's mother continued:--

"You see, I cannot take my daughter to the country. My work
will not permit it. With a child one can find no situation.
People are ridiculous in the country. It was the good God who caused
me to pass your inn. When I caught sight of your little ones,
so pretty, so clean, and so happy, it overwhelmed me. I said:
`Here is a good mother. That is just the thing; that will make
three sisters.' And then, it will not be long before I return.
Will you keep my child for me?"

"I must see about it," replied the Thenardier.

"I will give you six francs a month."

Here a man's voice called from the depths of the cook-shop:--

"Not for less than seven francs. And six months paid in advance."

"Six times seven makes forty-two," said the Thenardier.

"I will give it," said the mother.

"And fifteen francs in addition for preliminary expenses,"
added the man's voice.

"Total, fifty-seven francs," said Madame Thenardier. And she
hummed vaguely, with these figures:--

"It must be, said a warrior."

"I will pay it," said the mother. "I have eighty francs. I shall
have enough left to reach the country, by travelling on foot.
I shall earn money there, and as soon as I have a little I will return
for my darling."

The man's voice resumed:--

"The little one has an outfit?"

"That is my husband," said the Thenardier.

"Of course she has an outfit, the poor treasure.--I understood
perfectly that it was your husband.--And a beautiful outfit,
too! a senseless outfit, everything by the dozen, and silk gowns
like a lady. It is here, in my carpet-bag."

"You must hand it over," struck in the man's voice again.

"Of course I shall give it to you," said the mother. "It would
be very queer if I were to leave my daughter quite naked!"

The master's face appeared.

"That's good," said he.

The bargain was concluded. The mother passed the night at the inn,
gave up her money and left her child, fastened her carpet-bag
once more, now reduced in volume by the removal of the outfit,
and light henceforth and set out on the following morning,
intending to return soon. People arrange such departures tranquilly;
but they are despairs!

A neighbor of the Thenardiers met this mother as she was setting out,
and came back with the remark:--

"I have just seen a woman crying in the street so that it was enough
to rend your heart."

When Cosette's mother had taken her departure, the man said
to the woman:--

"That will serve to pay my note for one hundred and ten francs
which falls due to-morrow; I lacked fifty francs. Do you know
that I should have had a bailiff and a protest after me?
You played the mouse-trap nicely with your young ones."

"Without suspecting it," said the woman.



The mouse which had been caught was a pitiful specimen; but the cat
rejoices even over a lean mouse.

Who were these Thenardiers?

Let us say a word or two of them now. We will complete the sketch
later on.

These beings belonged to that bastard class composed of coarse
people who have been successful, and of intelligent people who have
descended in the scale, which is between the class called "middle"
and the class denominated as "inferior," and which combines some
of the defects of the second with nearly all the vices of the first,
without possessing the generous impulse of the workingman nor
the honest order of the bourgeois.

They were of those dwarfed natures which, if a dull fire chances
to warm them up, easily become monstrous. There was in the woman a
substratum of the brute, and in the man the material for a blackguard.
Both were susceptible, in the highest degree, of the sort of hideous
progress which is accomplished in the direction of evil. There exist
crab-like souls which are continually retreating towards the darkness,
retrograding in life rather than advancing, employing experience
to augment their deformity, growing incessantly worse, and becoming
more and more impregnated with an ever-augmenting blackness.
This man and woman possessed such souls.

Thenardier, in particular, was troublesome for a physiognomist.
One can only look at some men to distrust them; for one feels that
they are dark in both directions. They are uneasy in the rear and
threatening in front. There is something of the unknown about them.
One can no more answer for what they have done than for what they
will do. The shadow which they bear in their glance denounces them.
From merely hearing them utter a word or seeing them make a gesture,
one obtains a glimpse of sombre secrets in their past and of sombre
mysteries in their future.

This Thenardier, if he himself was to be believed, had been a soldier--
a sergeant, he said. He had probably been through the campaign of 1815,
and had even conducted himself with tolerable valor, it would seem.
We shall see later on how much truth there was in this. The sign
of his hostelry was in allusion to one of his feats of arms.
He had painted it himself; for he knew how to do a little of everything,
and badly.

It was at the epoch when the ancient classical romance which, after having
been Clelie, was no longer anything but Lodoiska, still noble, but ever
more and more vulgar, having fallen from Mademoiselle de Scuderi
to Madame Bournon-Malarme, and from Madame de Lafayette to Madame
Barthelemy-Hadot, was setting the loving hearts of the portresses
of Paris aflame, and even ravaging the suburbs to some extent.
Madame Thenardier was just intelligent enough to read this sort of books.
She lived on them. In them she drowned what brains she possessed.
This had given her, when very young, and even a little later, a sort
of pensive attitude towards her husband, a scamp of a certain depth,
a ruffian lettered to the extent of the grammar, coarse and fine at
one and the same time, but, so far as sentimentalism was concerned,
given to the perusal of Pigault-Lebrun, and "in what concerns the sex,"
as he said in his jargon--a downright, unmitigated lout. His wife was
twelve or fifteen years younger than he was. Later on, when her hair,
arranged in a romantically drooping fashion, began to grow gray,
when the Magaera began to be developed from the Pamela, the female
Thenardier was nothing but a coarse, vicious woman, who had dabbled
in stupid romances. Now, one cannot read nonsense with impunity.
The result was that her eldest daughter was named Eponine; as for
the younger, the poor little thing came near being called Gulnare;
I know not to what diversion, effected by a romance of Ducray-Dumenil,
she owed the fact that she merely bore the name of Azelma.

However, we will remark by the way, everything was not ridiculous
and superficial in that curious epoch to which we are alluding,
and which may be designated as the anarchy of baptismal names.
By the side of this romantic element which we have just indicated
there is the social symptom. It is not rare for the neatherd's
boy nowadays to bear the name of Arthur, Alfred, or Alphonse,
and for the vicomte--if there are still any vicomtes--to be called
Thomas, Pierre, or Jacques. This displacement, which places the
"elegant" name on the plebeian and the rustic name on the aristocrat,
is nothing else than an eddy of equality. The irresistible
penetration of the new inspiration is there as everywhere else.
Beneath this apparent discord there is a great and a profound thing,--
the French Revolution.



It is not all in all sufficient to be wicked in order to prosper.
The cook-shop was in a bad way.

Thanks to the traveller's fifty-seven francs, Thenardier had been
able to avoid a protest and to honor his signature. On the following
month they were again in need of money. The woman took Cosette's
outfit to Paris, and pawned it at the pawnbroker's for sixty francs.
As soon as that sum was spent, the Thenardiers grew accustomed
to look on the little girl merely as a child whom they were caring
for out of charity; and they treated her accordingly. As she had
no longer any clothes, they dressed her in the cast-off petticoats
and chemises of the Thenardier brats; that is to say, in rags.
They fed her on what all the rest had left--a little better than the dog,
a little worse than the cat. Moreover, the cat and the dog were her
habitual table-companions; Cosette ate with them under the table,
from a wooden bowl similar to theirs.

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