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Les MisÚrables - Sister Simplice put to the Proof

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







But at that moment Fantine was joyous.

She had passed a very bad night; her cough was frightful; her fever
had doubled in intensity; she had had dreams: in the morning,
when the doctor paid his visit, she was delirious; he assumed
an alarmed look, and ordered that he should be informed as soon
as M. Madeleine arrived.

All the morning she was melancholy, said but little, and laid
plaits in her sheets, murmuring the while, in a low voice,
calculations which seemed to be calculations of distances.
Her eyes were hollow and staring. They seemed almost extinguished
at intervals, then lighted up again and shone like stars.
It seems as though, at the approach of a certain dark hour,
the light of heaven fills those who are quitting the light of earth.

Each time that Sister Simplice asked her how she felt,
she replied invariably, "Well. I should like to see M. Madeleine."

Some months before this, at the moment when Fantine had just lost
her last modesty, her last shame, and her last joy, she was the shadow
of herself; now she was the spectre of herself. Physical suffering
had completed the work of moral suffering. This creature of five
and twenty had a wrinkled brow, flabby cheeks, pinched nostrils,
teeth from which the gums had receded, a leaden complexion,
a bony neck, prominent shoulder-blades, frail limbs, a clayey skin,
and her golden hair was growing out sprinkled with gray.
Alas! how illness improvises old-age!

At mid-day the physician returned, gave some directions,
inquired whether the mayor had made his appearance at the infirmary,
and shook his head.

M. Madeleine usually came to see the invalid at three o'clock. As
exactness is kindness, he was exact.

About half-past two, Fantine began to be restless. In the course
of twenty minutes, she asked the nun more than ten times, "What time
is it, sister?"

Three o'clock struck. At the third stroke, Fantine sat up in bed;
she who could, in general, hardly turn over, joined her yellow,
fleshless hands in a sort of convulsive clasp, and the nun heard her
utter one of those profound sighs which seem to throw off dejection.
Then Fantine turned and looked at the door.

No one entered; the door did not open.

She remained thus for a quarter of an hour, her eyes riveted on
the door, motionless and apparently holding her breath. The sister
dared not speak to her. The clock struck a quarter past three.
Fantine fell back on her pillow.

She said nothing, but began to plait the sheets once more.

Half an hour passed, then an hour, no one came; every time the
clock struck, Fantine started up and looked towards the door,
then fell back again.

Her thought was clearly perceptible, but she uttered no name, she made
no complaint, she blamed no one. But she coughed in a melancholy way.
One would have said that something dark was descending upon her.
She was livid and her lips were blue. She smiled now and then.

Five o'clock struck. Then the sister heard her say, very low and gently,
"He is wrong not to come to-day, since I am going away to-morrow."

Sister Simplice herself was surprised at M. Madeleine's delay.

In the meantime, Fantine was staring at the tester of her bed.
She seemed to be endeavoring to recall something. All at once she
began to sing in a voice as feeble as a breath. The nun listened.
This is what Fantine was singing:--


"Lovely things we will buy
As we stroll the faubourgs through.
Roses are pink, corn-flowers are blue,
I love my love, corn-flowers are blue.


"Yestere'en the Virgin Mary came near my stove, in a broidered
mantle clad, and said to me, `Here, hide 'neath my veil the child
whom you one day begged from me. Haste to the city, buy linen,
buy a needle, buy thread.'


"Lovely things we will buy
As we stroll the faubourgs through.


"Dear Holy Virgin, beside my stove I have set a cradle
with ribbons decked. God may give me his loveliest star;
I prefer the child thou hast granted me. `Madame, what shall
I do with this linen fine?'--`Make of it clothes for thy new-born babe.'


"Roses are pink and corn-flowers are blue,
I love my love, and corn-flowers are blue.


"`Wash this linen.'--`Where?'--`In the stream. Make of it,
soiling not, spoiling not, a petticoat fair with its bodice fine,
which I will embroider and fill with flowers.'--`Madame, the
child is no longer here; what is to be done?'--`Then make of it
a winding-sheet in which to bury me.'


"Lovely things we will buy
As we stroll the faubourgs through,
Roses are pink, corn-flowers are blue,
I love my love, corn-flowers are blue."


This song was an old cradle romance with which she had, in former days,
lulled her little Cosette to sleep, and which had never recurred
to her mind in all the five years during which she had been parted
from her child. She sang it in so sad a voice, and to so sweet an air,
that it was enough to make any one, even a nun, weep. The sister,
accustomed as she was to austerities, felt a tear spring to her eyes.

The clock struck six. Fantine did not seem to hear it. She no
longer seemed to pay attention to anything about her.

Sister Simplice sent a serving-maid to inquire of the portress
of the factory, whether the mayor had returned, and if he would
not come to the infirmary soon. The girl returned in a few minutes.

Fantine was still motionless and seemed absorbed in her own thoughts.

The servant informed Sister Simplice in a very low tone, that the mayor
had set out that morning before six o'clock, in a little tilbury harnessed
to a white horse, cold as the weather was; that he had gone alone,
without even a driver; that no one knew what road he had taken;
that people said he had been seen to turn into the road to Arras;
that others asserted that they had met him on the road to Paris.
That when he went away he had been very gentle, as usual, and that he
had merely told the portress not to expect him that night.

While the two women were whispering together, with their backs turned
to Fantine's bed, the sister interrogating, the servant conjecturing,
Fantine, with the feverish vivacity of certain organic maladies,
which unite the free movements of health with the frightful
emaciation of death, had raised herself to her knees in bed,
with her shrivelled hands resting on the bolster, and her head
thrust through the opening of the curtains, and was listening.
All at once she cried:--

"You are speaking of M. Madeleine! Why are you talking so low?
What is he doing? Why does he not come?"

Her voice was so abrupt and hoarse that the two women thought they
heard the voice of a man; they wheeled round in affright.

"Answer me!" cried Fantine.

The servant stammered:--

"The portress told me that he could not come to-day."

"Be calm, my child," said the sister; "lie down again."

Fantine, without changing her attitude, continued in a loud voice,
and with an accent that was both imperious and heart-rending:--

"He cannot come? Why not? You know the reason. You are whispering
it to each other there. I want to know it."

The servant-maid hastened to say in the nun's ear, "Say that he
is busy with the city council."

Sister Simplice blushed faintly, for it was a lie that the maid
had proposed to her.

On the other hand, it seemed to her that the mere communication of the
truth to the invalid would, without doubt, deal her a terrible blow,
and that this was a serious matter in Fantine's present state.
Her flush did not last long; the sister raised her calm, sad eyes
to Fantine, and said, "Monsieur le Maire has gone away."

Fantine raised herself and crouched on her heels in the bed:
her eyes sparkled; indescribable joy beamed from that melancholy face.

"Gone!" she cried; "he has gone to get Cosette."

Then she raised her arms to heaven, and her white face became ineffable;
her lips moved; she was praying in a low voice.

When her prayer was finished, "Sister," she said, "I am willing to lie
down again; I will do anything you wish; I was naughty just now;
I beg your pardon for having spoken so loud; it is very wrong
to talk loudly; I know that well, my good sister, but, you see,
I am very happy: the good God is good; M. Madeleine is good;
just think! he has gone to Montfermeil to get my little Cosette."

She lay down again, with the nun's assistance, helped the nun
to arrange her pillow, and kissed the little silver cross which she
wore on her neck, and which Sister Simplice had given her.

"My child," said the sister, "try to rest now, and do not talk
any more."

Fantine took the sister's hand in her moist hands, and the latter
was pained to feel that perspiration.

"He set out this morning for Paris; in fact, he need not even go
through Paris; Montfermeil is a little to the left as you come thence.
Do you remember how he said to me yesterday, when I spoke
to him of Cosette, Soon, soon? He wants to give me a surprise,
you know! he made me sign a letter so that she could be taken from
the Thenardiers; they cannot say anything, can they? they will give
back Cosette, for they have been paid; the authorities will not
allow them to keep the child since they have received their pay.
Do not make signs to me that I must not talk, sister! I am
extremely happy; I am doing well; I am not ill at all any more;
I am going to see Cosette again; I am even quite hungry; it is
nearly five years since I saw her last; you cannot imagine how much
attached one gets to children, and then, she will be so pretty;
you will see! If you only knew what pretty little rosy fingers
she had! In the first place, she will have very beautiful hands;
she had ridiculous hands when she was only a year old; like this!
she must be a big girl now; she is seven years old; she is quite
a young lady; I call her Cosette, but her name is really Euphrasie.
Stop! this morning I was looking at the dust on the chimney-piece,
and I had a sort of idea come across me, like that, that I should
see Cosette again soon. Mon Dieu! how wrong it is not to see one's
children for years! One ought to reflect that life is not eternal.
Oh, how good M. le Maire is to go! it is very cold! it is true;
he had on his cloak, at least? he will be here to-morrow, will he
not? to-morrow will be a festival day; to-morrow morning, sister,
you must remind me to put on my little cap that has lace on it.
What a place that Montfermeil is! I took that journey on foot once;
it was very long for me, but the diligences go very quickly! he
will be here to-morrow with Cosette: how far is it from here
to Montfermeil?"

The sister, who had no idea of distances, replied, "Oh, I think
that be will be here to-morrow."

"To-morrow! to-morrow!" said Fantine, "I shall see Cosette to-morrow!
you see, good sister of the good God, that I am no longer ill;
I am mad; I could dance if any one wished it."

A person who had seen her a quarter of an hour previously would
not have understood the change; she was all rosy now; she spoke
in a lively and natural voice; her whole face was one smile;
now and then she talked, she laughed softly; the joy of a mother
is almost infantile.

"Well," resumed the nun, "now that you are happy, mind me,
and do not talk any more."

Fantine laid her head on her pillow and said in a low voice:
"Yes, lie down again; be good, for you are going to have your child;
Sister Simplice is right; every one here is right."

And then, without stirring, without even moving her head, she began
to stare all about her with wide-open eyes and a joyous air,
and she said nothing more.

The sister drew the curtains together again, hoping that she would
fall into a doze. Between seven and eight o'clock the doctor came;
not hearing any sound, he thought Fantine was asleep, entered softly,
and approached the bed on tiptoe; he opened the curtains a little,
and, by the light of the taper, he saw Fantine's big eyes gazing
at him.

She said to him, "She will be allowed to sleep beside
me in a little bed, will she not, sir?"

The doctor thought that she was delirious. She added:--

"See! there is just room."

The doctor took Sister Simplice aside, and she explained
matters to him; that M. Madeleine was absent for a day or two,
and that in their doubt they had not thought it well to undeceive
the invalid, who believed that the mayor had gone to Montfermeil;
that it was possible, after all, that her guess was correct:
the doctor approved.

He returned to Fantine's bed, and she went on:--

"You see, when she wakes up in the morning, I shall be able to say
good morning to her, poor kitten, and when I cannot sleep at night,
I can hear her asleep; her little gentle breathing will do me good."

"Give me your hand," said the doctor.

She stretched out her arm, and exclaimed with a laugh:--

"Ah, hold! in truth, you did not know it; I am cured; Cosette will
arrive to-morrow."

The doctor was surprised; she was better; the pressure on her chest
had decreased; her pulse had regained its strength; a sort of life
had suddenly supervened and reanimated this poor, worn-out creature.

"Doctor," she went on, "did the sister tell you that M. le Maire
has gone to get that mite of a child?"

The doctor recommended silence, and that all painful emotions should
be avoided; he prescribed an infusion of pure chinchona, and, in case
the fever should increase again during the night, a calming potion.
As he took his departure, he said to the sister:--

"She is doing better; if good luck willed that the mayor should
actually arrive to-morrow with the child, who knows? there are
crises so astounding; great joy has been known to arrest maladies;
I know well that this is an organic disease, and in an advanced state,
but all those things are such mysteries: we may be able to save her."




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