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Home -> Victor Hugo -> Les MisÚrables -> Sister Simplice

Les MisÚrables - Sister Simplice

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 incidents the reader is about to peruse were not all known
at M. sur M. But the small portion of them which became known left
such a memory in that town that a serious gap would exist in this
book if we did not narrate them in their most minute details.
Among these details the reader will encounter two or three improbable
circumstances, which we preserve out of respect for the truth.

On the afternoon following the visit of Javert, M. Madeleine went
to see Fantine according to his wont.

Before entering Fantine's room, he had Sister Simplice summoned.

The two nuns who performed the services of nurse in the infirmary,
Lazariste ladies, like all sisters of charity, bore the names of
Sister Perpetue and Sister Simplice.

Sister Perpetue was an ordinary villager, a sister of charity
in a coarse style, who had entered the service of God as one enters
any other service. She was a nun as other women are cooks.
This type is not so very rare. The monastic orders gladly accept this
heavy peasant earthenware, which is easily fashioned into a Capuchin
or an Ursuline. These rustics are utilized for the rough work
of devotion. The transition from a drover to a Carmelite is not in
the least violent; the one turns into the other without much effort;
the fund of ignorance common to the village and the cloister is
a preparation ready at hand, and places the boor at once on the
same footing as the monk: a little more amplitude in the smock,
and it becomes a frock. Sister Perpetue was a robust nun from
Marines near Pontoise, who chattered her patois, droned, grumbled,
sugared the potion according to the bigotry or the hypocrisy of
the invalid, treated her patients abruptly, roughly, was crabbed
with the dying, almost flung God in their faces, stoned their
death agony with prayers mumbled in a rage; was bold, honest, and ruddy.

Sister Simplice was white, with a waxen pallor. Beside Sister Perpetue,
she was the taper beside the candle. Vincent de Paul has divinely
traced the features of the Sister of Charity in these admirable words,
in which he mingles as much freedom as servitude: "They shall have for
their convent only the house of the sick; for cell only a hired room;
for chapel only their parish church; for cloister only the streets of
the town and the wards of the hospitals; for enclosure only obedience;
for gratings only the fear of God; for veil only modesty." This ideal
was realized in the living person of Sister Simplice: she had never
been young, and it seemed as though she would never grow old.
No one could have told Sister Simplice's age. She was a person--
we dare not say a woman--who was gentle, austere, well-bred, cold,
and who had never lied. She was so gentle that she appeared fragile;
but she was more solid than granite. She touched the unhappy
with fingers that were charmingly pure and fine. There was,
so to speak, silence in her speech; she said just what was necessary,
and she possessed a tone of voice which would have equally edified
a confessional or enchanted a drawing-room. This delicacy accommodated
itself to the serge gown, finding in this harsh contact a continual
reminder of heaven and of God. Let us emphasize one detail.
Never to have lied, never to have said, for any interest whatever,
even in indifference, any single thing which was not the truth,
the sacred truth, was Sister Simplice's distinctive trait;
it was the accent of her virtue. She was almost renowned in the
congregation for this imperturbable veracity. The Abbe Sicard
speaks of Sister Simplice in a letter to the deaf-mute Massieu.
However pure and sincere we may be, we all bear upon our candor
the crack of the little, innocent lie. She did not. Little lie,
innocent lie--does such a thing exist? To lie is the absolute
form of evil. To lie a little is not possible: he who lies,
lies the whole lie. To lie is the very face of the demon. Satan has
two names; he is called Satan and Lying. That is what she thought;
and as she thought, so she did. The result was the whiteness which
we have mentioned--a whiteness which covered even her lips and her
eyes with radiance. Her smile was white, her glance was white.
There was not a single spider's web, not a grain of dust, on the glass
window of that conscience. On entering the order of Saint Vincent
de Paul, she had taken the name of Simplice by special choice.
Simplice of Sicily, as we know, is the saint who preferred to
allow both her breasts to be torn off rather than to say that she
had been born at Segesta when she had been born at Syracuse--
a lie which would have saved her. This patron saint suited
this soul.

Sister Simplice, on her entrance into the order, had had two
faults which she had gradually corrected: she had a taste
for dainties, and she liked to receive letters. She never read
anything but a book of prayers printed in Latin, in coarse type.
She did not understand Latin, but she understood the book.

This pious woman had conceived an affection for Fantine,
probably feeling a latent virtue there, and she had devoted
herself almost exclusively to her care.

M. Madeleine took Sister Simplice apart and recommended Fantine
to her in a singular tone, which the sister recalled later on.

On leaving the sister, he approached Fantine.

Fantine awaited M. Madeleine's appearance every day as one awaits
a ray of warmth and joy. She said to the sisters, "I only live
when Monsieur le Maire is here."

She had a great deal of fever that day. As soon as she saw
M. Madeleine she asked him:--

"And Cosette?"

He replied with a smile:--


M. Madeleine was the same as usual with Fantine. Only he remained
an hour instead of half an hour, to Fantine's great delight.
He urged every one repeatedly not to allow the invalid to want
for anything. It was noticed that there was a moment when his
countenance became very sombre. But this was explained when it became
known that the doctor had bent down to his ear and said to him,
"She is losing ground fast."

Then he returned to the town-hall, and the clerk observed him
attentively examining a road map of France which hung in his study.
He wrote a few figures on a bit of paper with a pencil.

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