home | authors | books | about

Home -> Victor Hugo -> Les MisÚrables -> Some Silhouettes of this Darkness

Les MisÚrables - Some Silhouettes of this Darkness

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



During the six years which separate 1819 from 1825, the prioress of
the Petit-Picpus was Mademoiselle de Blemeur, whose name, in religion,
was Mother Innocente. She came of the family of Marguerite de Blemeur,
author of Lives of the Saints of the Order of Saint-Benoit. She
had been re-elected. She was a woman about sixty years of age,
short, thick, "singing like a cracked pot," says the letter which we
have already quoted; an excellent woman, moreover, and the only
merry one in the whole convent, and for that reason adored.
She was learned, erudite, wise, competent, curiously proficient
in history, crammed with Latin, stuffed with Greek, full of Hebrew,
and more of a Benedictine monk than a Benedictine nun.

The sub-prioress was an old Spanish nun, Mother Cineres, who was
almost blind.

The most esteemed among the vocal mothers were Mother Sainte-Honorine;
the treasurer, Mother Sainte-Gertrude, the chief mistress of the novices;
Mother-Saint-Ange, the assistant mistress; Mother Annonciation,
the sacristan; Mother Saint-Augustin, the nurse, the only one
in the convent who was malicious; then Mother Sainte-Mechtilde
(Mademoiselle Gauvain), very young and with a beautiful voice;
Mother des Anges (Mademoiselle Drouet), who had been in the convent
of the Filles-Dieu, and in the convent du Tresor, between Gisors
and Magny; Mother Saint-Joseph (Mademoiselle de Cogolludo), Mother
Sainte-Adelaide (Mademoiselle d'Auverney), Mother Misericorde
(Mademoiselle de Cifuentes, who could not resist austerities),
Mother Compassion (Mademoiselle de la Miltiere, received at
the age of sixty in defiance of the rule, and very wealthy);
Mother Providence (Mademoiselle de Laudiniere), Mother Presentation
(Mademoiselle de Siguenza), who was prioress in 1847; and finally,
Mother Sainte-Celigne (sister of the sculptor Ceracchi), who went mad;
Mother Sainte-Chantal (Mademoiselle de Suzon), who went mad.

There was also, among the prettiest of them, a charming girl of
three and twenty, who was from the Isle de Bourbon, a descendant
of the Chevalier Roze, whose name had been Mademoiselle Roze,
and who was called Mother Assumption.

Mother Sainte-Mechtilde, intrusted with the singing and the choir,
was fond of making use of the pupils in this quarter. She usually
took a complete scale of them, that is to say, seven, from ten
to sixteen years of age, inclusive, of assorted voices and sizes,
whom she made sing standing, drawn up in a line, side by side,
according to age, from the smallest to the largest. This presented
to the eye, something in the nature of a reed-pipe of young girls,
a sort of living Pan-pipe made of angels.

Those of the lay-sisters whom the scholars loved most were Sister
Euphrasie, Sister Sainte-Marguerite, Sister Sainte-Marthe, who was
in her dotage, and Sister Sainte-Michel, whose long nose made them laugh.

All these women were gentle with the children. The nuns were severe
only towards themselves. No fire was lighted except in the school,
and the food was choice compared to that in the convent.
Moreover, they lavished a thousand cares on their scholars. Only,
when a child passed near a nun and addressed her, the nun never replied.

This rule of silence had had this effect, that throughout the
whole convent, speech had been withdrawn from human creatures,
and bestowed on inanimate objects. Now it was the church-bell
which spoke, now it was the gardener's bell. A very sonorous bell,
placed beside the portress, and which was audible throughout
the house, indicated by its varied peals, which formed a sort
of acoustic telegraph, all the actions of material life which were
to be performed, and summoned to the parlor, in case of need,
such or such an inhabitant of the house. Each person and each thing
had its own peal. The prioress had one and one, the sub-prioress
one and two. Six-five announced lessons, so that the pupils never
said "to go to lessons," but "to go to six-five." Four-four was
Madame de Genlis's signal. It was very often heard. "C'est le
diable a quatre,--it's the very deuce--said the uncharitable.
Tennine strokes announced a great event. It was the opening of the
door of seclusion, a frightful sheet of iron bristling with bolts
which only turned on its hinges in the presence of the archbishop.

With the exception of the archbishop and the gardener, no man
entered the convent, as we have already said. The schoolgirls
saw two others: one, the chaplain, the Abbe Banes, old and ugly,
whom they were permitted to contemplate in the choir, through a grating;
the other the drawing-master, M. Ansiaux, whom the letter,
of which we have perused a few lines, calls M. Anciot, and describes
as a frightful old hunchback.

It will be seen that all these men were carefully chosen.

Such was this curious house.

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary