home | authors | books | about

Home -> Victor Hugo -> Les MisÚrables -> In which Jean Valjean has quite the Air of having read Austin Castillejo

Les MisÚrables - In which Jean Valjean has quite the Air of having read Austin Castillejo

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



The strides of a lame man are like the ogling glances of a one-eyed man;
they do not reach their goal very promptly. Moreover, Fauchelevent was
in a dilemma. He took nearly a quarter of an hour to return to his
cottage in the garden. Cosette had waked up. Jean Valjean had
placed her near the fire. At the moment when Fauchelevent entered,
Jean Valjean was pointing out to her the vintner's basket on the wall,
and saying to her, "Listen attentively to me, my little Cosette.
We must go away from this house, but we shall return to it, and we shall
be very happy here. The good man who lives here is going to carry you
off on his back in that. You will wait for me at a lady's house.
I shall come to fetch you. Obey, and say nothing, above all things,
unless you want Madame Thenardier to get you again!"

Cosette nodded gravely.

Jean Valjean turned round at the noise made by Fauchelevent opening
the door.


"Everything is arranged, and nothing is," said Fauchelevent.
"I have permission to bring you in; but before bringing you in you
must be got out. That's where the difficulty lies. It is easy
enough with the child."

"You will carry her out?"

"And she will hold her tongue?"

"I answer for that."

"But you, Father Madeleine?"

And, after a silence, fraught with anxiety, Fauchelevent exclaimed:--

"Why, get out as you came in!"

Jean Valjean, as in the first instance, contented himself
with saying, "Impossible."

Fauchelevent grumbled, more to himself than to Jean Valjean:--

"There is another thing which bothers me. I have said that I would
put earth in it. When I come to think it over, the earth instead
of the corpse will not seem like the real thing, it won't do,
it will get displaced, it will move about. The men will bear it.
You understand, Father Madeleine, the government will notice it."

Jean Valjean stared him straight in the eye and thought that he
was raving.

Fauchelevent went on:--

"How the de--uce are you going to get out? It must all be done
by to-morrow morning. It is to-morrow that I am to bring you in.
The prioress expects you."

Then he explained to Jean Valjean that this was his recompense for
a service which he, Fauchelevent, was to render to the community.
That it fell among his duties to take part in their burials, that he
nailed up the coffins and helped the grave-digger at the cemetery.
That the nun who had died that morning had requested to be buried
in the coffin which had served her for a bed, and interred in the vault
under the altar of the chapel. That the police regulations forbade this,
but that she was one of those dead to whom nothing is refused.
That the prioress and the vocal mothers intended to fulfil the wish
of the deceased. That it was so much the worse for the government.
That he, Fauchelevent, was to nail up the coffin in the cell,
raise the stone in the chapel, and lower the corpse into the vault.
And that, by way of thanks, the prioress was to admit his brother
to the house as a gardener, and his niece as a pupil. That his brother
was M. Madeleine, and that his niece was Cosette. That the prioress
had told him to bring his brother on the following evening, after the
counterfeit interment in the cemetery. But that he could not bring
M. Madeleine in from the outside if M. Madeleine was not outside.
That that was the first problem. And then, that there was another:
the empty coffin."

"What is that empty coffin?" asked Jean Valjean.

Fauchelevent replied:--

"The coffin of the administration."

"What coffin? What administration?"

"A nun dies. The municipal doctor comes and says, `A nun has died.'
The government sends a coffin. The next day it sends a hearse and
undertaker's men to get the coffin and carry it to the cemetery.
The undertaker's men will come and lift the coffin; there will be
nothing in it."

"Put something in it."

"A corpse? I have none."


"What then?"

"A living person."

"What person?"

"Me!" said Jean Valjean.

Fauchelevent, who was seated, sprang up as though a bomb had burst
under his chair.


"Why not?"

Jean Valjean gave way to one of those rare smiles which lighted up
his face like a flash from heaven in the winter.

"You know, Fauchelevent, what you have said: `Mother Crucifixion
is dead.' and I add: `and Father Madeleine is buried.'

"Ah! good, you can laugh, you are not speaking seriously."

"Very seriously, I must get out of this place."


"l have told you to find a basket, and a cover for me also,"


"The basket will be of pine, and the cover a black cloth."

"In the first place, it will be a white cloth. Nuns are buried
in white."

"Let it be a white cloth, then."

"You are not like other men, Father Madeleine."

To behold such devices, which are nothing else than the savage and daring
inventions of the galleys, spring forth from the peaceable things
which surrounded him, and mingle with what he called the "petty course
of life in the convent," caused Fauchelevent as much amazement as a gull
fishing in the gutter of the Rue Saint-Denis would inspire in a passer-by.

Jean Valjean went on:--

"The problem is to get out of here without being seen. This offers
the means. But give me some information, in the first place.
How is it managed? Where is this coffin?"

"The empty one?"


"Down stairs, in what is called the dead-room. It stands
on two trestles, under the pall."

"How long is the coffin?"

"Six feet."

"What is this dead-room?"

"It is a chamber on the ground floor which has a grated window
opening on the garden, which is closed on the outside by a shutter,
and two doors; one leads into the convent, the other into the church."

"What church?"

"The church in the street, the church which any one can enter."

"Have you the keys to those two doors?"

"No; I have the key to the door which communicates with the convent;
the porter has the key to the door which communicates with the church."

"When does the porter open that door?"

"Only to allow the undertaker's men to enter, when they come
to get the coffin. When the coffin has been taken out, the door
is closed again."

"Who nails up the coffin?"

"I do."

"Who spreads the pall over it?"

"I do."

"Are you alone?"

"Not another man, except the police doctor, can enter the dead-room.
That is even written on the wall."

"Could you hide me in that room to-night when every one is asleep?"

"No. But I could hide you in a small, dark nook which opens
on the dead-room, where I keep my tools to use for burials,
and of which I have the key."

"At what time will the hearse come for the coffin to-morrow?"

"About three o'clock in the afternoon. The burial will take
place at the Vaugirard cemetery a little before nightfall.
It is not very near."

"I will remain concealed in your tool-closet all night and all
the morning. And how about food? I shall be hungry."

"I will bring you something."

"You can come and nail me up in the coffin at two o'clock."

Fauchelevent recoiled and cracked his finger-joints.

"But that is impossible!"

"Bah! Impossible to take a hammer and drive some nails in a plank?"

What seemed unprecedented to Fauchelevent was, we repeat,
a simple matter to Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean had been in worse
straits than this. Any man who has been a prisoner understands
how to contract himself to fit the diameter of the escape.
The prisoner is subject to flight as the sick man is subject
to a crisis which saves or kills him. An escape is a cure.
What does not a man undergo for the sake of a cure? To have
himself nailed up in a case and carried off like a bale of goods,
to live for a long time in a box, to find air where there is none,
to economize his breath for hours, to know how to stifle without dying--
this was one of Jean Valjean's gloomy talents.

Moreover, a coffin containing a living being,--that convict's expedient,--
is also an imperial expedient. If we are to credit the monk
Austin Castillejo, this was the means employed by Charles the Fifth,
desirous of seeing the Plombes for the last time after his abdication.

He had her brought into and carried out of the monastery
of Saint-Yuste in this manner.

Fauchelevent, who had recovered himself a little, exclaimed:--

"But how will you manage to breathe?"

"I will breathe."

"In that box! The mere thought of it suffocates me."

"You surely must have a gimlet, you will make a few holes here and there,
around my mouth, and you will nail the top plank on loosely."

"Good! And what if you should happen to cough or to sneeze?"

"A man who is making his escape does not cough or sneeze."

And Jean Valjean added:--

"Father Fauchelevent, we must come to a decision: I must either
be caught here, or accept this escape through the hearse."

Every one has noticed the taste which cats have for pausing
and lounging between the two leaves of a half-shut door. Who is
there who has not said to a cat, "Do come in!" There are men who,
when an incident stands half-open before them, have the same tendency
to halt in indecision between two resolutions, at the risk of getting
crushed through the abrupt closing of the adventure by fate.
The over-prudent, cats as they are, and because they are cats,
sometimes incur more danger than the audacious. Fauchelevent was
of this hesitating nature. But Jean Valjean's coolness prevailed
over him in spite of himself. He grumbled:--

"Well, since there is no other means."

Jean Valjean resumed:--

"The only thing which troubles me is what will take place
at the cemetery."

"That is the very point that is not troublesome," exclaimed Fauchelevent.
"If you are sure of coming out of the coffin all right, I am sure
of getting you out of the grave. The grave-digger is a drunkard,
and a friend of mine. He is Father Mestienne. An old fellow
of the old school. The grave-digger puts the corpses in the grave,
and I put the grave-digger in my pocket. I will tell you
what will take place. They will arrive a little before dusk,
three-quarters of an hour before the gates of the cemetery are closed.
The hearse will drive directly up to the grave. I shall follow;
that is my business. I shall have a hammer, a chisel, and some
pincers in my pocket. The hearse halts, the undertaker's men knot
a rope around your coffin and lower you down. The priest says
the prayers, makes the sign of the cross, sprinkles the holy water,
and takes his departure. I am left alone with Father Mestienne.
He is my friend, I tell you. One of two things will happen,
he will either be sober, or he will not be sober. If he is not drunk,
I shall say to him: `Come and drink a bout while the Bon Coing
[the Good Quince] is open.' I carry him off, I get him drunk,--
it does not take long to make Father Mestienne drunk, he always
has the beginning of it about him,--I lay him under the table,
I take his card, so that I can get into the cemetery again,
and I return without him. Then you have no longer any one but me
to deal with. If he is drunk, I shall say to him: `Be off;
I will do your work for you.' Off he goes, and I drag you out of
the hole."

Jean Valjean held out his hand, and Fauchelevent precipitated
himself upon it with the touching effusion of a peasant.

"That is settled, Father Fauchelevent. All will go well."

"Provided nothing goes wrong," thought Fauchelevent. "In that case,
it would be terrible."

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary