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Home -> Victor Hugo -> Les MisÚrables -> Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus

Les MisÚrables - Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus

1. M. Myriel

2. M. Myriel becomes M. Welcome

3. A Hard Bishopric for a Good Bishop

4. Works corresponding to Words

5. Monseigneur Bienvenu made his Cassocks last too long

6. Who guarded his House for him

7. Cravatte

8. Philosophy after Drinking

9. The Brother as depicted by the Sister

10. The Bishop in the Presence of an Unknown Light

11. A Restriction

12. The Solitude of Monseigneur Welcome

13. What he believed

14. What he thought

15. The Evening of a Day of Walking

16. Prudence counselled to Wisdom

17. The Heroism of Passive Obedience

18. Details concerning the Cheese-Dairies of Pontarlier

19. Tranquillity

20. Jean Valjean

21. The Interior of Despair

22. Billows and Shadows

23. New Troubles

24. The Man aroused

25. What he does

26. The Bishop works

27. Little Gervais

28. The Year 1817

29. A Double Quartette

30. Four and Four

31. Tholomyes is so Merry that he sings a Spanish Ditty

32. At Bombardas

33. A Chapter in which they adore Each Other

34. The Wisdom of Tholomyes

35. The Death of a Horse

36. A Merry End to Mirth

37. One Mother meets Another Mother

38. First Sketch of Two Unprepossessing Figures

39. The Lark

40. The History of a Progress in Black Glass Trinkets

41. Madeleine

42. Sums deposited with Laffitte

43. M. Madeleine in Mourning

44. Vague Flashes on the Horizon

45. Father Fauchelevent

46. Fauchelevent becomes a Gardener in Paris

47. Madame Victurnien expends Thirty Francs on Morality

48. Madame Victurnien's Success

49. Result of the Success

50. Christus nos Liberavit

51. M. Bamatabois's Inactivity

52. The Solution of Some Questions connected with the Municipal Police

53. The Beginning of Repose

54. How Jean may become Champ

55. Sister Simplice

56. The Perspicacity of Master Scaufflaire

57. A Tempest in a Skull

58. Forms assumed by Suffering during Sleep

59. Hindrances

60. Sister Simplice put to the Proof

61. The Traveller on his Arrival takes Precautions for Departure

62. An Entrance by Favor

63. A Place where Convictions are in Process of Formation

64. The System of Denials

65. Champmathieu more and more Astonished

66. In what Mirror M. Madeleine contemplates his Hair

67. Fantine Happy

68. Javert Satisfied

69. Authority reasserts its Rights

70. A Suitable Tomb

71. What is met with on the Way from Nivelles

72. Hougomont

73. The Eighteenth of June, 1815

74. A

75. The Quid Obscurum of Battles

76. Four o'clock in the Afternoon

77. Napoleon in a Good Humor

78. The Emperor puts a Question to the Guide Lacoste

79. The Unexpected

80. The Plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean

81. A Bad Guide to Napoleon; a Good Guide to Bulow

82. The Guard

83. The Catastrophe

84. The Last Square

85. Cambronne

86. Quot Libras in Duce?

87. Is Waterloo to be considered Good?

88. A Recrudescence of Divine Right

89. The Battle-Field at Night

90. Number 24,601 becomes Number 9,430

91. In which the reader will peruse Two Verses which are of the Devil's Composition possibly

92. The Ankle-Chain must have undergone a Certain Preparatory Manipulation to be thus broken with a Blow from a Hammer

93. The Water Question at Montfermeil

94. Two Complete Portraits

95. Men must have Wine, and Horses must have Water

96. Entrance on the Scene of a Doll

97. The Little One All Alone

98. Which possibly proves Boulatruelle's Intelligence

99. Cosette Side by Side with the Stranger in the Dark

100. The Unpleasantness of receiving into One's House a Poor Man who may be a Rich Man

101. Thenardier at his Manoeuvres

102. He who seeks to better himself may render his Situation Worse

103. Number 9,430 reappears, and Cosette wins it in the Lottery

104. Master Gorbeau

105. A Nest for Owl and a Warbler

106. Two Misfortunes Make One Piece of Good Fortune

107. The Remarks of the Principal Tenant

108. A Five-Franc Piece Falls on the Ground and Produces a Tumult

109. The Zigzags of Strategy

110. It Is Lucky That the Pont D'Austerlitz Bears Carriages

111. To Wit, the Plan of Paris in 1727

112. The Gropings of Flight

113. Which Would be Impossible With Gas Lanterns

114. The Beginning of an Enigma

115. Continuation of the Enigma

116. The Enigma Becomes Doubly Mysterious

117. The Man with the Bell

118. Which Explains How Javert Got on the Scent

119. Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus

120. The Obedience of Martin Verga

121. Austerities

122. Gayeties

123. Distractions

124. The Little Convent

125. Some Silhouettes of this Darkness

126. Post Corda Lapides

127. A Century under a Guimpe

128. Origin of the Perpetual Adoration

129. End of the Petit-Picpus

130. The Convent as an Abstract Idea

131. The Convent as an Historical Fact

132. On What Conditions One can respect the Past

133. The Convent from the Point of View of Principles

134. Prayer

135. The Absolute Goodness of Prayer

136. Precautions to be observed in Blame

137. Faith, Law

138. Which treats of the Manner of entering a Convent

139. Fauchelevent in the Presence of a Difficulty

140. Mother Innocente

141. In which Jean Valjean has quite the Air of having read Austin Castillejo

142. It is not Necessary to be Drunk in order to be Immortal

143. Between Four Planks

144. In which will be found the Origin of the Saying: Don't lose the Card

145. A Successful Interrogatory

146. Cloistered




Nothing, half a century ago, more resembled every other carriage gate
than the carriage gate of Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus. This entrance,
which usually stood ajar in the most inviting fashion, permitted a
view of two things, neither of which have anything very funereal
about them,--a courtyard surrounded by walls hung with vines,
and the face of a lounging porter. Above the wall, at the bottom
of the court, tall trees were visible. When a ray of sunlight
enlivened the courtyard, when a glass of wine cheered up the porter,
it was difficult to pass Number 62 Little Picpus Street without
carrying away a smiling impression of it. Nevertheless, it was
a sombre place of which one had had a glimpse.

The threshold smiled; the house prayed and wept.

If one succeeded in passing the porter, which was not easy,--
which was even nearly impossible for every one, for there was
an open sesame! which it was necessary to know,--if, the porter
once passed, one entered a little vestibule on the right,
on which opened a staircase shut in between two walls and so narrow
that only one person could ascend it at a time, if one did not
allow one's self to be alarmed by a daubing of canary yellow,
with a dado of chocolate which clothed this staircase, if one
ventured to ascend it, one crossed a first landing, then a second,
and arrived on the first story at a corridor where the yellow wash
and the chocolate-hued plinth pursued one with a peaceable persistency.
Staircase and corridor were lighted by two beautiful windows.
The corridor took a turn and became dark. If one doubled this cape,
one arrived a few paces further on, in front of a door which was all
the more mysterious because it was not fastened. If one opened it,
one found one's self in a little chamber about six feet square,
tiled, well-scrubbed, clean, cold, and hung with nankin paper with
green flowers, at fifteen sous the roll. A white, dull light fell
from a large window, with tiny panes, on the left, which usurped
the whole width of the room. One gazed about, but saw no one;
one listened, one heard neither a footstep nor a human murmur.
The walls were bare, the chamber was not furnished; there was not
even a chair.

One looked again, and beheld on the wall facing the door
a quadrangular hole, about a foot square, with a grating of
interlacing iron bars, black, knotted, solid, which formed squares--
I had almost said meshes--of less than an inch and a half in
diagonal length. The little green flowers of the nankin paper ran
in a calm and orderly manner to those iron bars, without being
startled or thrown into confusion by their funereal contact.
Supposing that a living being had been so wonderfully thin as to
essay an entrance or an exit through the square hole, this grating
would have prevented it. It did not allow the passage of the body,
but it did allow the passage of the eyes; that is to say, of the mind.
This seems to have occurred to them, for it had been re-enforced
by a sheet of tin inserted in the wall a little in the rear,
and pierced with a thousand holes more microscopic than the holes
of a strainer. At the bottom of this plate, an aperture had been
pierced exactly similar to the orifice of a letter box. A bit
of tape attached to a bell-wire hung at the right of the grated opening.

If the tape was pulled, a bell rang, and one heard a voice very near
at hand, which made one start.

"Who is there?" the voice demanded.

It was a woman's voice, a gentle voice, so gentle that it was mournful.

Here, again, there was a magical word which it was necessary to know.
If one did not know it, the voice ceased, the wall became silent
once more, as though the terrified obscurity of the sepulchre had
been on the other side of it.

If one knew the password, the voice resumed, "Enter on the right."

One then perceived on the right, facing the window, a glass door
surmounted by a frame glazed and painted gray. On raising the latch
and crossing the threshold, one experienced precisely the same
impression as when one enters at the theatre into a grated baignoire,
before the grating is lowered and the chandelier is lighted.
One was, in fact, in a sort of theatre-box, narrow, furnished with
two old chairs, and a much-frayed straw matting, sparely illuminated
by the vague light from the glass door; a regular box, with its front
just of a height to lean upon, bearing a tablet of black wood.
This box was grated, only the grating of it was not of gilded wood,
as at the opera; it was a monstrous lattice of iron bars,
hideously interlaced and riveted to the wall by enormous fastenings
which resembled clenched fists.

The first minutes passed; when one's eyes began to grow used to this
cellar-like half-twilight, one tried to pass the grating, but got no
further than six inches beyond it. There he encountered a barrier of
black shutters, re-enforced and fortified with transverse beams of wood
painted a gingerbread yellow. These shutters were divided into long,
narrow slats, and they masked the entire length of the grating.
They were always closed. At the expiration of a few moments
one heard a voice proceeding from behind these shutters, and saying:--

"I am here. What do you wish with me?"

It was a beloved, sometimes an adored, voice. No one was visible.
Hardly the sound of a breath was audible. It seemed as though it
were a spirit which had been evoked, that was speaking to you across
the walls of the tomb.

If one chanced to be within certain prescribed and very rare conditions,
the slat of one of the shutters opened opposite you; the evoked
spirit became an apparition. Behind the grating, behind the shutter,
one perceived so far as the grating permitted sight, a head,
of which only the mouth and the chin were visible; the rest was
covered with a black veil. One caught a glimpse of a black guimpe,
and a form that was barely defined, covered with a black shroud.
That head spoke with you, but did not look at you and never smiled
at you.

The light which came from behind you was adjusted in such a manner
that you saw her in the white, and she saw you in the black.
This light was symbolical.

Nevertheless, your eyes plunged eagerly through that opening which was
made in that place shut off from all glances. A profound vagueness
enveloped that form clad in mourning. Your eyes searched that vagueness,
and sought to make out the surroundings of the apparition.
At the expiration of a very short time you discovered that you could
see nothing. What you beheld was night, emptiness, shadows, a wintry
mist mingled with a vapor from the tomb, a sort of terrible peace,
a silence from which you could gather nothing, not even sighs,
a gloom in which you could distinguish nothing, not even phantoms.

What you beheld was the interior of a cloister.

It was the interior of that severe and gloomy edifice which was
called the Convent of the Bernardines of the Perpetual Adoration.
The box in which you stood was the parlor. The first voice which had
addressed you was that of the portress who always sat motionless
and silent, on the other side of the wall, near the square opening,
screened by the iron grating and the plate with its thousand holes,
as by a double visor. The obscurity which bathed the grated box
arose from the fact that the parlor, which had a window on the side
of the world, had none on the side of the convent. Profane eyes must
see nothing of that sacred place.

Nevertheless, there was something beyond that shadow; there was
a light; there was life in the midst of that death. Although this
was the most strictly walled of all convents, we shall endeavor
to make our way into it, and to take the reader in, and to say,
without transgressing the proper bounds, things which story-tellers
have never seen, and have, therefore, never described.

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