Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 1


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 1;  Kings and Revolution and more Kings and more Revolution

Just kidding, no Brujons in this chapter. I know you’re disappointed. Also, sorry that this one took so long. You see, I’m doing that thing where I start stalling when it feels like things I am enjoying are nearing an end and I don’t want them to end! (This is why I constantly skip finales for even shows that I love and don’t watch them until months later.) It’s only because Marius’s section is over, there is still massive amounts of book to go actually.

But enough about me. It’s time for some history! Even though the last part of this chapter kind of wiped all thoughts about the very important historical contexty first part right out of my brain, I will try to give it a go.

First off, the July Revolution. Yep, there was an entire revolution that happened whilst we were hanging out with Marius for two or five or whatever years, and it’s still not the thing at the climax of this story. (clearly) This particular revolution took place in 1830. It was kind of vaguely mentioned in relation to the dwindling sales of Mabeuf’s flower book. It seems like kind of a strange thing to only be vaguely mentioned. The (very) short oversimplification of it is, Charles X passed some ordinances because things weren’t going his way, and he was ousted from the throne subsequently.

Now Louis Phillipe is the king after Charles X was forced to abdicate. Like many things, it started out alright then went all to hell later on. We won’t get much later on here though. His rule doesn’t end until 1848. Back to the now, though. He’s a king that enjoys his gardens, so I’m getting the impression that we aren’t actually supposed to think this guy is the worst person in the universe. This is only confirmed a few paragraphs later. He was a good guy, and he might have remained a good guy if he hadn’t taken that throne.

This new guy doesn’t greatly improve matters really though. He’s still a king. There is still talk of revolution. It gets to the point where the conversation is pretty out in the open, with people asking how things are going with the whole revolution planning like they’re talking about the weather. Granted, it’s not all out there for the world to see. There are still secret communiqué that we learn all about here in great detail.

To sum up: King 🙁 — Revolution — Another King 🙁

Go forth and read more about it, because history, as always, is far more interesting and terrible and awesome than anything you probably learned in a classroom. Like for instance I just learned that LP up there, escaped France to England under the oh so clever, not at all a cover name: Mr. Smith. Also, Abraham Lincoln used to hunt Vampires. I learned that from the movies.

Anyway, this is where we find the fearless leader of our favourite Amis, griping about how he has absolutely nobody left that could possibly go on this last very important errand of the day. Nobody. Not a single soul.

Enjolras has sent all his men off to various corners of the city to meet with certain groups. You know, to keep everybody on their toes and make sure their passion for revolution does not flare out. He has but one more group to inspire; the Artisans that hang out at Richefeu’s at the Barrière du Maine, playing dominoes.

He’s talking out loud now about his lack of a lieutenant to attend to this group. Woe. Woe. Woe. He was hoping to leave it to that absent minded kid, Marius, but he hasn’t been around… Like, now I’m really fuzzy on the timeline here, because we’ve spent the last two or five or whatever years discussing Marius and his passionate nostrils, garden strolls, man-dates with Courfeyrac, stalking Cosette, and teaming up with Javert to take down Thénardier and almost Valjean, if Valjean wasn’t the Houdini of 19th century France. I’m pretty sure some of these events are happening concurrently somehow, but don’t quote me on that.

It’s still confusing though, and it feels like Marius hasn’t attended any ABC meetings in quite a long while, but Enjolras was counting on him?

Well, that’s not the point. The point is that Grantaire is sitting right there, and he hasn’t been given any task like the rest of them. It’s kind of like he’s the last to be picked for gym class, and the team captain still doesn’t want him and is pretending not to even see him there. He’d rather bench Grantaire and complain about being a man down right in front of his face, or have the kid that picks dandelions and chases butterflies in the outfield, and that kid hasn’t even been to class in two or five or whatever years. Like, ouch. I’m indignant on Grantaire’s behalf, regardless of his less than dependable qualities re: inciting revolution.

Grantaire isn’t going to take that without saying anything though. He’s all; What about me, yo?

Enjolras has absolutely no faith that Grantaire is going to be able to convince these guys to stick with the cause, and he’s totally not shy about saying so. His instructions for Grantaire are to just go sleep off his drink and stay the eff out of the way.

Here, have some block quotes:

“What about me?” said Grantaire. “Here am I.”

“You?”

“I.”

“You indoctrinate republicans! You warm up hearts that have grown cold in the name of principle!”

“Why not?”

“Are you good for anything?”

“I have a vague ambition in that direction,” said Grantaire.

“You do not believe in everything.”

“I believe in you.”

“Grantaire, will you do me a service?”

“Anything. I’ll black your boots.”

“Well, don’t meddle with our affairs. Sleep yourself sober from your absinthe.”

“You are an ingrate, Enjolras.”

-Bolded: my favourite type of ambitions.

Enjolras is definitely skeptical and disbelieves greatly that Grantaire is the man to go to the Barriére du Maine. Yes, Grantaire tells him. He can go. He has legs. He can get from here to there, and then he proceeds to detail the exact route his legs are going to take. I think we should all be taking sass lessons from professor Grantaire here.

Enjolras continues to be unsure about this whole thing and what the hell exactly Grantaire is actually going to say to these dudes once he does get from from here to there. Grantaire tells him he knows all the right things about principles and Robespierre, and Danton, and is fully capable talking them up so should he have the mind to.

Enjolras tells Grantaire to “Be serious.” Grantaire says, “I am wild.” I am just quoting most of their dialogue in this scene, because I think you will agree that it is priceless.

Finally Enjolras decides that he should give this guy a chance, since he’s saying everything he can say to convince him that he actually does know his stuff, can be totally convincing and inspiring, and is indeed the man for the job.

Well, now to put the icing on this ten layer attempt to impress Enjolras cake, he leaves the Musain, goes to his place which isn’t too far away and returns wearing a Robespierre waistcoat . Which begs the question: Why does he even own this article of clothing? Was it just sitting around in his closet waiting for this very moment of opportunity? Is this a turning point, or was he maybe not always this cynical? The only background we have on R is that he might have once studied painting, and he stole some apples. Are we supposed to draw some parallel with Robespierre here? I know neither enough about symbolism or French history to answer that.

He has one thing to say upon reentry and that is “Red.” Which I’m sure is also totally symbolic. *Runs away from symbolism*

Apparently, Enjolras has nothing at all to say about this intriguing turn of events. Grantaire isn’t quite finished yet. He steps right on up and whispers “Be Easy” in Enjolras’s ear before jamming his cap down on his head and setting off on his way to “indoctrinate Republicans” as it were. I feel like Grantaire is being mostly sincere with his intentions here. It seems a bit much to be just a put on.

Enjolras is the last man out of the Musain that night. He’s on his way to his very own super important meeting with Courgourde of Aix, which explains why he didn’t just go to Richefeu’s his own damn self if he was so worried about it. As he walks, he is excited to think about the impending revolution and then about all his friends and all their qualities.

Combeferre’s “penetrating eloquence”, Feuilly’s “Cosmopolitan Enthusiasm”, Courfeyrac’s animation, Bahorel’s laughter, Joly’s Science, Jehan’s melancholy, and Bossuet’s sarcasms.

Since he’s already thinking about his fellows, he decides he’s going to check up on the one with the powers of cynicism and inebriation, since it’s on the way. So, he shows up at Richefeu’s and what does he see? No, Grantaire is not giving great, moving speeches or anything remotely related to stirring the hearts and minds of the people as far as we can tell, since we’re seeing this entirely from Enjolras’s point of view. And what is this point of view?

Grantaire is sitting there playing some kind of rousing game of dominoes.

THE END.

So, we aren’t going to get any reaction/fallout regarding Grantaire’s apparent failure here after all that? For real? Damn you, abrupt ending!

Next time:Èponine, or so I gather from the title of book two.

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 2


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 2;  Larking About

Wow. You guys are never going to believe who’s homeless again. Just kidding. You’re totally going to guess, because it is Marius. As soon as the whole business with his neighbors getting arrested went down, Marius fled into the night, leaving his neighbors to speculate and assume that he was in on the whole thing.

And you’ll never–nevermind. I’ll stop trying to create any sort of suspense here. I mean, if Marius had ended up on Grandpa G.’s doorstep that might be a surprise, but no. He’s gone to trusty bff, Courfeyrac’s place. It’s a new place, because he’s moved in order to be closer to the action. The action being the forthcoming revolution that is sure to be happening. I would tell you all the names of the streets and everything, because I assure you that information is contained in the text, but I don’t think it would do much good. You know, unless you are extremely familiar with Paris or are planning your Les Misérables walking tour of France. (In which case I’d have to warn you that it’s a pretty long trek from Toulon to Montrieul Sur Mer to Paris.)

Anyway, Courfeyrac isn’t going to turn his friend out on the street and he happens to sleep on double mattresses, so there’s even an extra one for Marius. This is where he stays until… Nope.  Until nothing. This is just where he stays: on the mattress on the floor at Courfeyrac’s place.

He’s also not going to work. If he was sad before, he’s even lower now. He doesn’t even have a name to pin his hopes on anymore, because he knows his love isn’t an Ursula after all. So, now he’s extra poor, moping around, and mooching Francs off Courfeyrac to give to Thénardier in prison. Yes, you read that correctly. Even after everything, he’s still trying to help this guy out.

Marius is now in debt for the first time ever and showing no signs of coming out of it. Courfeyrac has got to be the most patient bro ever. He’s not even mad as far as I can tell.  He’s just curious about what these francs are for, and Thénardier is equally as curious about where they’re coming from.

Meanwhile, Marius tries to translate, but he can’t even concentrate on that and keeps procrastinating and going for walks instead. He’s become a master at it. That isn’t to say he’s wandering around in a fog; in fact, he’s quite aware of the goings on around him.  Everything just sucks with the thought that he might never see Cosette again hovering over him wherever he goes. He eventually finds a solitary place with a  view of Notre Dame that a passerby informs him is called the “Meadow of the Lark.” The guy attempts to give a little background info on this name, but Marius stopped listening at the word “Lark”.

He had learned from listening to the Thénardier’s that this was Cosette’s nickname, and that’s all he needs to hear to decide that this is where he is going to park himself until she comes to him. I’m sure that this foolproof plan is totally going to work, Marius.

Now let’s catch up with Javert. Javert is doing some spectacular law enforcement failing to go along with the criminal failing that happened a couple chapters ago. He did indeed suspect that the white haired man was Valjean, but he escaped again. On top of that Javert has completely forgotten Marius’s name and now cannot find him anywhere for questioning or to testify about the happenings that went down that fateful night. This is what pen and paper are for, Javert. Geez. I know these things existed in the 1830’s, even Jondrette owned them. You would think somebody at this big city police station would take down Pontmercy’s details when he went in to report a possible crime. It probably wouldn’t take much sleuthing to figure it out from there.  Though, if Javert thinks Marius would have gone home (he does), that is wrong too. I’m sure Grandpa G. would deny the boy’s existence. Who knows what Auntie the Elder would have to say.

He’s not only miffed at missing Valjean and blanking on the kid’s name, but also for not getting Montparnasse. Like pokémon, he wanted to catch them all. It says here that Montparnasse would have rather been, “Némorin with the daughter than Schinderhannes with the father.” Shinderhannes was a famous German thief, and Némorin…well, Google translate and This Text lead me to believe that they’d be friends from childhood eventually turned lovers. So, if you hadn’t already surmised what could possibly be more interesting than a good murder party, there you go.

On top of that, mysterious man of mystery, Claquesous had escaped. There is definitely talk about how this could have happened because Claquesous’s so bad that he’s on the side of good and is actually deep, deep undercover, but Javert isn’t having any of it. He’s annoyed with the whole situation.

As for Patron-Minette, the rest of the captured gang have all been put into solitary save Brujon. They leave him out in the yard so that maybe he might turn informant or something. Instead he passes along notes to the outside. The police catch wind of this and arrest some bad guys around the places that the notes were sent and think that’s the end of it.

About a week later a guard sees Brujon writing a letter. I’m not even going to explain the “chestnut” system, which is apparently some way the guard’s operate to make sure they’re checking up on the prisoners every hour, by dropping chestnut into a box, because… I cannot even envision how this would work. Chestnuts are for roasting on an open fire, guys.

Anyway, the guards do not find the letter, but they send Brujon to the dungeon anyway. The letter is about a possible crime that may go down on Rue Plumet, and it finds its way from Brujon, to Babet, who sends it to a friend on the outside, Magnon. You remember Magnon, right? She’s the mother of Grandpa G’s illegitimate non-children and friend to Thénardiers apparently. We’ll hear more on her later, I’m reading. From there she sends this note along to Èponine who, along with Azelma, have been released from whatever juvenile facility they’ve been in.

Èponine goes to case the joint on Rue Plumet and returns a biscuit. Biscuits are prison code for canceling whatever plots are afoot. So much for that.

Moving swiftly along to Father Mabeuf. He’s in as much a sad state as Marius these days. Nobody comes to visit him anymore, since Marius no longer does anything but hang out at the meadow waiting for Cosette to materialize out of thin air. Mother Plutarch is ailing, and Gui de Books is dead. Turns out the bookseller does have a name after all! His name is Royol. Mabeuf is left with his books and his indigo plants and that’s it. He doesn’t laugh anymore, but he still has hope that one day his flowers will grow.

One night Mabeuf is out in his garden trying to water his indigo. He’s having a rough time getting the water out of his well when a girl appears and helps him out. She not only gets the water but waters all the plants as well! When she is finished, she asks him where she can find Marius.

He provides the information about the Meadow of the Lark; since he still passes by Marius, but they only just nod acknowledgement at each other anymore. Then the girl is gone, and Mabeuf might have thought he had imagined the entire thing if not for his freshly watered plants.

Later on, Èponine finds Marius exactly where Mabeuf said he would be. She tells him how she’s been looking all over for him, and talks at him about his moving and the probable reasons for doing so, and that he’s way too young and attractive to be a Baron. She comments on the disrepair of his clothes and how she’s going to fix them up for him.

Nothing seems to be getting through to him, I guess, since he’s pretty unresponsive. ‘Èponine doesn’t really want to tell him her news, but she really hates seeing him so despondent, so she dispenses with the small talk and tells him she has the address.

Marius asks what address as if he doesn’t know exactly what she’s talking about. I guess he doesn’t want to get his hopes up.

Èponine tells him, and once again it’s very clear that she’s not very happy about it.  She’s going to show him how to get there anyway. Marius, as you can probably guess, is now completely overjoyed and excited.  Èponine on the other hand is really sad that locating Cosette has cheered him up when she couldn’t even make a dent in his melancholy.

There is one last concern that Marius has. He grabs Èponine’s arm and makes her promise that she will never tell her father where Cosette is. She doesn’t at first, because she so happy that he actually knows her by name. She eventually promises, and that she won’t tell anybody else either.

Then they are off. Èponine is concerned that Marius is following too closely, because she doesn’t think a guy like him should be seen in the company of a girl like her. They start off again only to have her stop for Marius to catch up. She reminds him that he promised her something if she found Cosette.

Marius, still totally clueless, automatically attempts to hand her five francs. She just drops it on the ground. She doesn’t want his money. (Well, technically, it’s probably Courfeyrac’s money.)

That’s it! Maybe Cosette and Marius will actually speak to each other in the next chapter? Cross your fingers!

Dak Reads Les Misérables / SAINT-DENIS AND THE IDYLL OF THE RUE PLUMET: Book 3


About: Dak reads Les Misérables and recaps it here, so that she may better retain the information. Things not to expect: deep literary analysis. Things to expect: Spoilers. All the spoilers

Saint-Denis and the Idyll of the Rue Plumet Book 3;  Beauty and the Boob

What is this?  A recap? I have not abandoned this brick, no.  I took some time off to read many other things. So, since it’s been 84 years, let’s  recap!

Last time:

Valjean was hiding in a convent, eating cheese with Fauchelevent, getting buried alive, raising Cosette, and escaping would be murderer/extortionists as well as Javert.

Marius was disowned and had no friends but  then fell in with a bunch of radicals via bald eagle. He lost his mind over Napoleon then lost his mind over a girl then foiled a dastardly murder plot and lost all hope and his home (again), so he moved in with Courfeyrac, because…

Courfeyrac was everywhere, Bossuet got kicked out of lawyer school and waxed poetic about butterflies. Jehan knew about love and flowers, Bahorel gave Jolllly good advice about trousers. Enjolras was busy planning revolution; blond hair flowing in the wind whilst Grantaire succeeded at witty banter and dressing the part but failed at inspiring the people and also at dominoes.

The Thenardiers were exposed and Patron Minette was arrested except for mysterious Claquesous and murdery Montparnasse, the evil anti-Enjolras. Javert terrified Paris to the point of thieves and murderers not bothering to resist arrest.  He was generally annoyed at all the baddies that have escaped him and one Marius Pontmercy whose name he does not remember. Mabeuf is still trying to grow indigo plants in France, and Grandpa G. was being a dick to every single one of his living relatives.

And finally, Èponine clearly has the hots for Marius, who remains totally clueless about it despite her promises of future domestic bliss, sock mending , and declarations of his attractiveness as spoken from her lips directly into his own ears on more than one occasion.  She is currently on her way to deliver our bambi to his one true lady love that he’s never uttered a word to.

But, before we get to this epic clash of true love… I assume it’s going to be epic since we’ve been waiting three or five or whatever years for Marius to finally speak to this girl.  First we must discuss in great detail what Jean Valjean has been up to all these years. I swear, after my prolonged hiatus, if we go through this entire chapter without Marius and Cosette meeting, I’m going to be very disappointed. <strike> (I have a feeling I’m going to be very disappointed.)</strike>  It has now become clear to me upon completion of this chapter that we are now going to engage in the story that we have already read, but from some different POVs. Maybe I didn’t need a recap after all? Oh, well–onward!

The first thing you might be asking yourself is why, oh why did Valjean leave the safe haven of the convent at Petit Picpus?  It was the perfect hiding spot after all. You know, if you’re going to insist on parking it in the same city that Javert is patrolling anyway.  I know, Paris is a large city, what are the chances? France is a pretty spacious country too, yet they still keep running into each other. The odds are not in your favor, Valjean.

As for his reasoning for leaving the convent, he is Cosette’s father for all intents and purposes and he didn’t want her to grow to resent him for basically roping her into nunhood before she got a chance to go out and experience the world for herself. This is something Valjean will come to regret.  His opening to leave comes when old Fauchelevent passes away.

Let’s have a moment for good old Fauchelevent, shall we…

Valjean tells the nuns that he has come into some money and he shall be leaving them. I kind of feel bad for the nuns.  Now they’re out two gardeners in one swoop. Anyway, he sets up three places around Paris a safe distance apart: Rue de l’Ouest, Rue de l’Homme-Armé, and the place at Rue Plumet.

A little history about this secluded piece of the city, because of course, we must have backstory on anything and everything, including Valjean’s house:

The place on Rue Plumet is the place that an old Judge used to keep his mistresses.  Back in those days the bourgeois would hide their mistresses while the lords would parade them around.  The judge had another little building out in the back of the garden where secret doctors or nurses could come and take care of the secret mistresses and secret babies without anybody knowing about it.  There was a secret path hidden by secret gardens that led out the back and emerged a ¼ mile away on a different street. This is the way the Judge would come and go to the house.

The point:  Shhh, it’s a secret, and that’s exactly the way Valjean likes it!  His days of parading around town doing philanthropic works all willy-nilly as a mayor are over!

Though he would spend time here and there at the other places, Rue Plumet is is where Jean Valjean’s HQ was.   He lived there with one old housekeeper named Toussaint, that he chose because she was an old country lady, and Cosette.  Cosette lives in a fabulous decked out bedroom in the house and wants for nothing while Valjean makes his home in the secret shack out back.  There is also a huge detailed passage at this point in this chapter about the secret garden, because, as we know by now, gardens are super important and very symbolic. (In short: The garden is a microcosm of the galaxy, Cosette is the naive and innocent heart, she has returned purity to this place after all that judge’s shenanigans. etc etc…)  This very symbolic garden Valjean has let grow wild so that the neighbors in their fancy houses won’t suspect anything, and nary a soul would even know about the secret path was there. I should hope so. It would be a terrible secret path if everybody knew about it. Oh! But if the birdies could gossip!

As for Valjean himself, he is hiding in plain sight by being in the National Guard.  He has no problems joining up and doing his duty as a taxpaying citizen, even despite his passing retirement age.  He is sixty now. Officially. And he doesn’t even look a day over fifty. Apparently Valjean is aging backwards, because ten years ago when he picked up Cosette at the Sergeant of Waterloo, he was in his fifties and I thought he was already in his sixties.

He no longer talks of Fantine as Cosette grows older.  He doesn’t know exactly why, but that perhaps she her modesty has been returned to her in death and he shouldn’t speak of her so as not to disturb her final peace.  Meanwhile Cosette dreams of her as an angel.

Valjean also goes on walks with Cosette at the Luxembourg Gardens choosing the most secluded area to frequent, of course.  Just to be on the safe side. He is proud of her and ultimately happy in his life at this point for having Cosette’s love. Unfortunately for him this area of the garden was not safe from wandering students.

As for Cosette, she grows up with the impression that she is just the plainest most homely creature that has ever existed, and maybe she was for a time.  She is actually a very sweet child. Even though Valjean seems to be perfectly willing to give her whatever she wants and the front garden for her do as she pleases,  she would just rather hang out with him in his out back shack instead of the big house and she insists on eating what he eats etc. But, as life goes on, people grow up, and one day Cosette wakes up,  looks in the mirror, and realizes that she is beautiful and that the dudes whispering about pretty girls out on the street are actually really talking about her. She can hardly believe it at first, but it’s true.  Thusly, Cosette becomes more interested in going out and being around the front garden where the gate is and the passersby roam rather than hanging with Dad all the time. She likes all the pretty frilly girly things in life now.  She’s greatly interested in the fashions of the day and the boys of the day. It’s kind of like the exact opposite reaction that Marius had to people whispering in the street about his hottie status. Basically, Cosette is just a typical teenager doing her teenage thing.  Valjean reacts in the dadly way by freaking out about it. He is wholly unprepared for his daughter’s entrance into young adulthood.  He has no idea how to react.  When Cosette first dons her fashionable ‘LaNoir’ gear and asks what Valjean thinks about it, he wonders why she doesn’t wear her old clothes.

“That getup!”  she said.  “Father, what would you have me do with it?  Oh, I’ll never wear those awful things again.  With that object on my head, I look like Madame Mad-Poodle.”

– I think Weird Al made an album about this hat–

 

Cosette in the meanwhile is greatly interested in that specific student that’s always loitering around that secluded area of the Luxembourg.  So, Marius wasn’t totally imagining her interest in some sort of lovesick fever dream after all. Good to know! It’s a requited love story despite the fact that they never speak to each other.  In fact, it was Cosette herself that suggested she and Valjean take a walk past Marius that fateful day when they made the eye contact that officially launched Marius into lovefoolish stalker territory.  She was completely fed up with his inability to make a move. We heard all about this from Marius’s point of view already, but now we know that Cosette orchestrated it.

Meanwhile, Valjean is over here hating all of this.  His daughter is the only love in his life and he’s just in fits thinking about her leaving him.  He’s teetering back on the edge of angry convict Valjean again because of this. This of course, makes him really hate poor Marius, whom he constantly thinks of as an awkward boob this entire chapter.  Clearly he is no good for Cosette, and Valjean is under the impression that she doesn’t particularly care about Marius one way or the other when he asks her about him.

This is not true.  She is 100% into Marius and his passionate nostrils.  She just a bit more subtle about it than Monsieur Pontmercy.   As for Marius, boy does Valjean have him figured out right from the start.  He knows Marius is pretend reading just to be near them and sprucing up his wardrobe to catch Cosette’s eye, and all of that we read from Marius’s point of view earlier.

Well, instead of bringing out intimidating former convict Valjean to just tell Marius to go back to wherever he came from and stop making eyes at Cosette, (I mean, I’m assuming strangers  in a public garden in the 19th century were allowed to speak words to each other without kingly intervention. Right? Maybe not.) We heard all about how Valjean tricked Marius into following them around just to make sure that the kid was indeed being a creeper and Marius falls for it completely, even following them all the way to their damn house. Again, C’mon, Marius. Dude.

This is when Valjean moves and stops with the garden strolls.  This not only upsets Marius, but also Cosette. It really does nothing to push her back into the old days of her childhood, hanging out in the outback shack with dad.  In fact, the next time Valjean suggests a trip to garden, she is overjoyed. Her joy is quickly shadowed by the fact that Marius no longer loiters around there anymore.  What would be the point? Cosette no longer gives a toss about garden strolls.

Later, Valjean has found alternate and isolated walking areas at the edge of  the city in some nice fields. Cosette likes them so she can run around and play, making daisy chains and the like.  Valjean likes them because they are out of the way. Just so happens one day as they are near the Barrière du Maine at dawn when a parade of convicts chained up in carts comes down the road.  It is explained that this convoy is going down this particular road to avoid the King’s kingly carriage path. This path was earlier detailed in the chapter in which Valjean first arrived in Paris.

Anyhow, the point of this is not really the King’s comings and goings, it’s Valjean’s chagrin.  This is not a thing he wants Cosette to be exposed to, and he for sure doesn’t want her to know about his past life of crime. Unfortunately she’s the one that points out these approaching wagons while Valjean is gazing around at the sky having some cosmic musings while Venus is on the rise.   Meanwhile, she is naturally curious about this foul mouthed chain gang now before her with a gathering crowd and a pack of gamin. We learn about each cart having a distinct personality including the final one which is piled up with maybe actually dead people. The guards have no qualms about beating any of the men.

Cosette is the most curious of cats and asks what’s up.  Who are they? Where are they going? Are they men? (are they Devo?)  Valjean tells her that they are convicts, heading to jail, and sometimes they are men.  Any further questions Cosette has throughout the night he doesn’t even answer, because he does not want to discuss this anymore.  Later, near bedtime she’s still got them on her mind and is talking under her breath later like a valley girl: “O my God, I would just die from seeing [A convict] near me”   Which has got to hurt Valjean right in the heart. Ouch!

Valjean manages to distract her with a conveniently timed festival over the coming week!  It works for a short while, but sometime later while he is observing her posing questions of love by plucking the petals of a Daisy  (Do I love thee: A little? A lot? Passionately? Not?) and wondering where the hell she learned this game, she asks one more time. What are convicts?

Cliffhanger!

Will Valjean have an answer?  A confession?

Will we rehash an entirely different part of the story we already read?

Will we return to Eponine leading Marius to his one true love?

Something else entirely?

Until next time, stay tuned!