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Les MisÚrables - The Little Convent

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



In this enclosure of the Petit-Picpus there were three perfectly
distinct buildings,--the Great Convent, inhabited by the nuns,
the Boarding-school, where the scholars were lodged; and lastly,
what was called the Little Convent. It was a building with a garden,
in which lived all sorts of aged nuns of various orders, the relics
of cloisters destroyed in the Revolution; a reunion of all the black,
gray, and white medleys of all communities and all possible varieties;
what might be called, if such a coupling of words is permissible,
a sort of harlequin convent.

When the Empire was established, all these poor old dispersed and
exiled women had been accorded permission to come and take shelter
under the wings of the Bernardines-Benedictines. The government
paid them a small pension, the ladies of the Petit-Picpus received
them cordially. It was a singular pell-mell. Each followed her
own rule, Sometimes the pupils of the boarding-school were allowed,
as a great recreation, to pay them a visit; the result is,
that all those young memories have retained among other souvenirs
that of Mother Sainte-Bazile, Mother Sainte-Scolastique, and Mother Jacob.

One of these refugees found herself almost at home. She was a nun
of Sainte-Aure, the only one of her order who had survived.
The ancient convent of the ladies of Sainte-Aure occupied,
at the beginning of the eighteenth century, this very house
of the Petit-Picpus, which belonged later to the Benedictines
of Martin Verga. This holy woman, too poor to wear the magnificent
habit of her order, which was a white robe with a scarlet scapulary,
had piously put it on a little manikin, which she exhibited with
complacency and which she bequeathed to the house at her death.
In 1824, only one nun of this order remained; to-day, there remains
only a doll.

In addition to these worthy mothers, some old society women
had obtained permission of the prioress, like Madame Albertine,
to retire into the Little Convent. Among the number were Madame
Beaufort d'Hautpoul and Marquise Dufresne. Another was never known
in the convent except by the formidable noise which she made when
she blew her nose. The pupils called her Madame Vacarmini (hubbub).

About 1820 or 1821, Madame de Genlis, who was at that time editing
a little periodical publication called l'Intrepide, asked to be
allowed to enter the convent of the Petit-Picpus as lady resident.
The Duc d'Orleans recommended her. Uproar in the hive; the vocal-mothers
were all in a flutter; Madame de Genlis had made romances.
But she declared that she was the first to detest them, and then,
she had reached her fierce stage of devotion. With the aid of God,
and of the Prince, she entered. She departed at the end of six
or eight months, alleging as a reason, that there was no shade
in the garden. The nuns were delighted. Although very old,
she still played the harp, and did it very well.

When she went away she left her mark in her cell. Madame de Genlis
was superstitious and a Latinist. These two words furnish a tolerably
good profile of her. A few years ago, there were still to be seen,
pasted in the inside of a little cupboard in her cell in which she
locked up her silverware and her jewels, these five lines in Latin,
written with her own hand in red ink on yellow paper, and which,
in her opinion, possessed the property of frightening away robbers:--

Imparibus meritis pendent tria corpora ramis:[15]
Dismas et Gesmas, media est divina potestas;
Alta petit Dismas, infelix, infima, Gesmas;
Nos et res nostras conservet summa potestas.
Hos versus dicas, ne tu furto tua perdas.

[15] On the boughs hang three bodies of unequal merits:
Dismas and Gesmas, between is the divine power. Dismas seeks
the heights, Gesmas, unhappy man, the lowest regions; the highest
power will preserve us and our effects. If you repeat this verse,
you will not lose your things by theft.

These verses in sixth century Latin raise the question whether
the two thieves of Calvary were named, as is commonly believed,
Dismas and Gestas, or Dismas and Gesmas. This orthography might
have confounded the pretensions put forward in the last century
by the Vicomte de Gestas, of a descent from the wicked thief.
However, the useful virtue attached to these verses forms an article
of faith in the order of the Hospitallers.

The church of the house, constructed in such a manner as to separate
the Great Convent from the Boarding-school like a veritable intrenchment,
was, of course, common to the Boarding-school, the Great Convent,
and the Little Convent. The public was even admitted by a sort
of lazaretto entrance on the street. But all was so arranged,
that none of the inhabitants of the cloister could see a face
from the outside world. Suppose a church whose choir is grasped
in a gigantic hand, and folded in such a manner as to form, not,
as in ordinary churches, a prolongation behind the altar, but a sort
of hall, or obscure cellar, to the right of the officiating priest;
suppose this hall to be shut off by a curtain seven feet in height,
of which we have already spoken; in the shadow of that curtain,
pile up on wooden stalls the nuns in the choir on the left,
the school-girls on the right, the lay-sisters and the novices at
the bottom, and you will have some idea of the nuns of the Petit-Picpus
assisting at divine service. That cavern, which was called the choir,
communicated with the cloister by a lobby. The church was lighted
from the garden. When the nuns were present at services where their
rule enjoined silence, the public was warned of their presence
only by the folding seats of the stalls noisily rising and falling.

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