The World's Greatest Books, Volume V.
Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton, Eds.
Part 3 out of 7
head of the bully.
"If any other fellow wants the other boot," said Tom, stepping on to the
floor, "he knows how to get it!"
At this moment the Sixth Form boy came in, and not another word could be
said. Tom and the rest rushed into bed, and finished unrobing there.
Sleep seemed to have deserted the pillow of poor Tom. The thought of his
promise to his mother came over him, never to forget to kneel at his
bedside and give himself up to his Father before he laid his head on the
pillow from which it might never rise; and he lay down gently, and cried
as if his heart would break. He was only fourteen years old.
Next morning he was up and washed and dressed just as the ten-minutes
bell began, and then in the face of the whole room knelt down to pray.
Not five words could he say; he was listening for every whisper in the
room. What were they all thinking of him? At last, as it were from his
inmost heart, a still, small voice seemed to breathe: "God be merciful
to me, a sinner." He repeated the words over and over again, and rose
from his knees comforted and humbled, and ready to face the whole
school. It was not needed; two other boys had already followed his
example. Before either Tom or Arthur left the Schoolhouse there was no
room in which it had not become the regular custom.
_IV.--Tom Brown's Last Match_
The curtain now rises on the last act of our little drama. Eight years
have passed, and it is the end of the summer half-year at Rugby. The
boys have scattered to the four winds, except the Eleven, and a few
enthusiasts who are permitted to stay to see the result of the cricket
matches. For this year the return matches are being played at Rugby, and
to-day the great event of the year, the Marylebone match, is being
played. I wish I had space to describe the whole match; but I haven't,
so you must fancy it all, and let me beg to call your attention to a
group of three eagerly watching the match. The first, evidently a
clergyman, is carelessly dressed, and looks rather used up, but is bent
on enjoying life as he spreads himself out in the evening sun. By his
side, in white flannel shirt and trousers, and the captain's belt, sits
a strapping figure near six feet high, with ruddy, tanned face and a
laughing eye. He is leaning forward, dandling his favourite bat, with
which he has made thirty or forty runs to-day. It is Tom Brown, spending
his last day as a Rugby boy. And at their feet sits Arthur, with his bat
across his knees. He is less of a boy, in fact, than Tom, if one may
judge by the thoughtfulness of his face, which is somewhat paler than we
could wish, but his figure is well-knit and active, and all his old
timidity has disappeared, and is replaced by silent, quaint fun, as he
listens to the broken talk, and joins in every now and then. Presently
he goes off to the wicket, with a last exhortation from Tom to play
steady and keep his bat straight.
"I'm surprised to see Arthur in the Eleven," says the master.
"Well, I'm not sure he ought to be for his play," said Tom; "but I
couldn't help putting him in. It will do him so much good, and you can't
think what I owe him!"
The master smiled. Later he returned to the subject
"Nothing has given me greater pleasure," he said, "than your friendship
for him. It has been the making of you both."
"Of me, at any rate," answered Tom. "It was the luckiest chance in the
world that sent him to Rugby and made him my chum."
"There was neither luck nor chance in that matter," said the master. "Do
you remember when the Doctor lectured you and East when you had been
getting into all sorts of scrapes?"
"Yes; well enough," said Tom. "It was the half-year before Arthur came."
"Exactly so," said the master. "He was in great distress about you both,
and after some talk, we both agreed that you in particular wanted some
object in the school beyond games and mischief. So the Doctor looked out
the best of the new boys, and separated you and East in the hope that
when you had somebody to lean on you, you'd be steadier yourself, and
get manliness and thoughtfulness. He has watched the experiment ever
since with great satisfaction."
Up to this time Tom had never fully given in to, or understood, the
Doctor. He had learnt to regard him with love and respect, and to think
him a very great and wise and good man. But as regarded his own position
in the school, he had no idea of giving anyone credit but himself.
It was a new light to Tom to find that besides teaching the Sixth, and
governing and guiding the whole school, editing classics, and writing
histories, the great headmaster had found time to watch over the career
even of him, Tom Brown, and his particular friends. However, the
Doctor's victory was complete from that moment. It had taken eight long
years to do it, but now it was done thoroughly.
The match was over.
Tom said good-bye to his tutor, and marched down to the Schoolhouse.
Next morning he was in the train and away for London, no longer a
* * * * *
Tom Brown at Oxford
"Tom Brown at Oxford," a continuation of "Tom Brown's
Schooldays," was published in 1861, but, like most sequels, it
failed to achieve the wide popularity of its famous
predecessor. Although the story, perhaps, lacks much of the
freshness of the "Schooldays," it nevertheless conveys an
admirable picture of undergraduate life as it was in the
middle of the nineteenth century. Notwithstanding the changes
that have taken place since then, it is still remarkably full
of vitality, and the description of the boat races, and the
bumping of Exeter and Oriel by St. Ambrose's boat might well
have been written to-day. In spite of its defects, the story,
with its vigorous morals, is worthy to rank with anything that
came from the pen of Tom Hughes, the great apostle of muscular
_I.--St. Ambrose's College_
In the Michaelmas term, after leaving school, Tom went up to matriculate
at St. Ambrose's College, Oxford, but did not go up to reside till the
St. Ambrose's College was a moderate-sized one. There were some seventy
or eighty undergraduates in residence when our hero appeared there as a
freshman, of whom a large proportion were gentleman-commoners, enough,
in fact, to give the tone to the college, which was decidedly fast.
Fewer and fewer of the St. Ambrose men appeared in the class-lists or
among the prize men. They no longer led the debates in the Union; the
boat lost place after place on the river; the eleven got beaten in all
the matches. But now a reaction had begun. The fellows recently elected
were men of great attainments, chosen as the most likely persons to
restore, as tutors, the golden days of the college.
Our hero, on leaving school, had bound himself solemnly to write all his
doings to the friend he had left behind him, and extracts from his first
letter from college will give a better idea of the place than any
account by a third party.
"Well, first and foremost, it's an awfully idle place--at any rate, for
us freshmen. Fancy now, I am in twelve lectures a week of an hour each.
There's a treat! Two hours a day; and no extra work at all. Of course, I
never look at a lecture before I go in; I know it all nearly by heart,
and for the present the light work suits me, for there's plenty to see
in this place. We keep very gentlemanly hours. Chapel every morning at
eight, and evening at seven. You must attend once a day, and twice on
Sundays, and be in gates at twelve o'clock. And you ought to dine in
hall perhaps four days a week. All the rest of your time you do just
what you like with.
"My rooms are right up in the roof, with a commanding view of tiles and
chimney-pots. Pleasant enough, separated from all mankind by a great
iron-clamped outer door; sitting-room, eighteen by twelve; bedroom,
twelve by eight; and a little cupboard for the scout. Ah, Geordie, the
scout is an institution! Fancy me waited on and valeted by a stout party
in black, of quiet, gentlemanly planners. He takes the deepest interest
in my possessions and proceedings, and is evidently used to good
society, to judge by the amount of crockery and glass, wines, liquors,
and grocery which he thinks indispensable for my due establishment. He
waits on me in hall, where we go in full fig of cap and gown at five,
and get very good dinners, and cheap enough.
"But, after all, the river is the feature of Oxford, to my mind. I
expect I shall take to boating furiously. I have been down the river
three or four times already with some other freshmen, and it is glorious
exercise, that I can see, though we bungle and cut crabs desperately at
Within a day or two of the penning of this epistle, Tom realised one of
the objects of his young Oxford ambition, and succeeded in embarking in
a skiff by himself. He had been such a proficient in all the Rugby games
that he started off in the full confidence that, if he could only have a
turn or two alone, he should satisfy not only himself but everybody else
that he was a heaven-born oar. But the truth soon began to dawn upon him
that pulling, especially sculling, does not, like reading and writing,
come by nature. However, he addressed himself manfully to his task;
savage, indeed, but resolved to get down to Sandford and back before
hall-time, or perish in the attempt. Fortunately, the prudent boatman
had embarked our hero in one of the safest of the tubs, and it was not
until he had zig-zagged down Kennington reach, slowly indeed, and with
much labour, that he heard energetic shouts behind him. The next minute
the bows of his boat whirled round, the old tub grounded, and then,
turning over, shot him out on to the planking of the steep descent into
the small lasher. The rush of water was too strong for him, and rolling
him over, plunged him into the pool below.
After the first moment of astonishment and fright, Tom left himself to
the stream, holding his breath hard, and, paddling gently with his
hands, soon came to the surface, and was about to strike out for the
shore when he caught sight of a skiff coming, stern foremost, down the
descent after him. Down she came, as straight as an arrow, into the
tumult below, the sculler sitting upright, and holding his skulls
steadily in the water. For a moment she seemed to be going under, but
righted herself, and glided swiftly into the still water, while the
sculler glanced round till he caught sight of our hero's half-drowned
"Oh, there you are!" he said, looking much relieved, "Swim ashore; I'll
look after your boat."
So Tom swam ashore, and stood there dripping and watching the other
righting his tub and collecting the sculls and bottom-boards floating
here and there in the pool. Tom had time to look him well over, and was
well satisfied with the inspection. There was that in his face that hit
Tom's fancy, and made him anxious to know him better. There were
probably not three men in the university who would have dared to shoot
the lasher in the state it was then.
It was settled, at Tom's earnest request, that he should pull the sound
skiff up--his old tub was leaking considerably--while his companion sat
in the stern and coached him. Tom poured out his thanks for his new
tutor's instructions, which were given so judiciously that he was
conscious of improving at every stroke.
He disappeared, however, while Tom was wrangling with the manager as to
the amount of damage done to the tub, and when Tom, to his joy, saw him
come into hall to dinner he took no notice of Tom's looks of
recognition. He learned from his neighbour that his name was Hardy, that
he was one of the servitors, a clever fellow, but a very queer one. Tom
resolved to waylay him as soon as hall was over; but Hardy avoided him.
Jervis, the captain of the St. Ambrose Boat Club; Miller, the cox; and
Smith, commonly known as Diogenes Smith--from a habit he had of using
his hip-bath as an armchair--were determined to make a success of the
boat, and Tom had the good fortune to get a place in the college
eight--an achievement which is always a feather in the cap of a
When the summer term came Miller at once took the crew in hand.
Then came the first night of the races, and at half-past three Tom was
restless and distracted, knowing that two hours and a half had got to
pass before it was time to start for the boats.
However, at last the time slipped away, and the captain and Miller
mustered their crew at the college gates, and walked off to the river.
Half the undergraduates of Oxford streamed along with them. No time was
lost on arrival at the barge in the dressing-room, and in two minutes
the St. Ambrose eight were all standing, in flannel trousers, silk
jerseys, and jackets, at the landing-place.
Then the boat swung steadily down past the mouth of the Cherwell, and
through the Gut to the starting-place. Hark! The first gun!
All the boats have turned, crowds of men on the bank are agitated with
the coming excitement.
Jervis, quiet and full of confidence, looks round from his seat--he is
stroking--takes a sliced lemon from his pocket, puts a small piece into
his mouth, and passes it on.
"Jackets off," says Miller. And the jackets are thrown on shore, and
gathered up by the boatman.
"Eight seconds more only!" Miller calls out. "Look out for the flash!
Remember, all eyes in the boat!"
There it comes at last, the flash of the starting gun. The boat breaks
away with a bound and a dash. The oars flash in the water, and the boat
For the first ten strokes Tom was in too great fear of making a mistake
to feel or hear or see. But as the crew settled down into the well-known
long sweep, consciousness returned, and, amid all the babel of voices on
the bank, he could hear Hardy yelling, "Steady! Well pulled! Steady!"
And now the St. Ambrose boat is well away from the boat behind, and as
it nears the Gut, it is plainly gaining on Exeter--the boat in front.
"You're gaining!" Miller mutters; and the captain responds with a wink.
Shouts come from the bank. "Now, St. Ambrose!" "Now, Exeter!"
In another moment both boats are in the Gut, and Miller, motionless as a
statue till now, calls out, "Give it her, boys! Six strokes, and we are
into them!" Old Jervis lashes his oar through the water, the boat
answers to the spurt, and Tom feels a little shock, and hears a grating
sound, as Miller shouts, "Unship oars, bow and three." The nose of the
St. Ambrose boat glides quietly up the side of the Exeter, the first
bump has been made.
Two more bumps were made on the next two nights, and bets were laid
freely that St. Ambrose would bump Oriel and become head of the river.
But the Oriel crew were mostly old oars, seasoned in many a race, and
one or two in the St. Ambrose boat were getting "stale."
Something had to be done, and when Drysdale--a
gentleman-commoner--resenting Miller's strictures on his performance at
No. 2, declined to row any more, Tom suggested that Hardy would row if
he were asked.
Hardy, shy and proud because of his poverty, was little known in St.
Ambrose; but a fast friendship had grown up between him and Tom Brown,
and he was glad enough to come into the boat at the captain's request.
The change in the boat made all the difference. Hardy was out sculling
every day on the river, and was consequently in good training. He was,
besides, a man of long, muscular arms.
It was a great race. Inch by inch St. Ambrose gained on Oriel, creeping
up slowly but surely, but the bump was not made till both boats were
close on the winning-post. So near a shave was it! As for the scene on
the bank, it was a hurly-burly of delirious joy.
St. Ambrose was head of the river!
There was a certain inn, called the Choughs, where the St. Ambrose men
were in the habit of calling for ale on their way back from the river;
and it had become the correct thing for Ambrosians to make much of Miss
Patty, the landlady's niece. Considering the circumstances, it was a
wonder Patty was not more spoilt than was the case. As it was, Hardy had
to admit that the girl held her own well, without doing or saying
anything unbecoming a modest woman. But he was convinced that Tom was in
her toils, and after pondering what he ought to do, decided to speak
Tom had gone into Hardy's rooms according to his custom, after hall; and
Hardy at once opened fire concerning the Choughs.
"Brown, you've no right to go to that place," he said abruptly.
"Why?" said Tom.
"You know why," said Hardy.
"Why am I not to go to the Choughs? Because there happens to be a pretty
barmaid there? All our crew go, and twenty other men besides."
"Yes; but do any of them go in the sort of way you do? Does she look at
any one of them as she does at you?"
"You seem to know a great deal about it," said Tom. "How should I know?"
"That's not fair or true, or like you, Brown," said Hardy. "You do know
that that girl doesn't care a straw for the other men who go there. You
do know that she is beginning to care for you. I've taken it on myself
to speak to you about this, and I shouldn't be your friend if I shirked
it. You shan't go on with this folly, this sin, for want of warning."
"So it seems," said Tom doggedly. "Now I think I've had warning enough.
Suppose we drop the subject?"
"Not yet," said Hardy firmly. "There are only two endings to this sort
of business, and you know it as well as I."
"A right and a wrong one--eh? And because I'm your friend, you assume
that my end will be the wrong one?"
"I say the end _must_ be the wrong one here! There's no right end. Think
of your family. You dare not tell me that you will marry her!"
"I _dare_ not tell you!" said Tom, starting up. "I dare tell any man
anything I please!"
"I say again," went on Hardy, "you _dare_ not say you mean to marry her!
You don't mean it! And, as you don't, to kiss her in the passage as you
"So you were sneaking behind to watch me?" burst out Tom.
Hardy only answered calmly and slowly, "I will not take these words from
any man! You had better leave my rooms!"
The next minute Tom was in the passage; the next striding up and down
the side of the inner quadrangle in the peace of the pale moonlight.
The following day, and for many days, neither Hardy nor Tom spoke to one
another. Both were wretched, and both feared lest others should notice
Tom went more and more to the Choughs, and Patty noticed a change in the
youth--a change that half-fascinated and half-repelled her.
Then, for the next few days, Tom plunged deeper and deeper downwards. He
left off pulling on the river, shunned his old friends, and lived with a
set of men who were ready enough to let him share all their brutal
Drysdale, with whom Tom had been on good terms, noted the difference,
and advised him "to cut the Choughs business."
"You're not the sort of a fellow to go in for this kind of thing," he
said. "I'll be hanged if it won't kill you, or make a devil of you
before long! Make up your mind to cut the whole concern, old fellow!"
"I'm awfully wretched, Drysdale," was all Tom could say.
All the same, Tom could not follow Drysdale's advice at once and break
off his visits to the Choughs altogether.
The real crisis was over. He had managed to pass through the eye of the
storm, and was drifting into the skirts of it, conscious of an escape
from utter shipwreck.
His visits to the Choughs became shorter; he never stayed behind now
after the other men, and avoided interviews with Patty alone as
diligently as he had sought them before.
Patty, unable to account for this fresh change of manner, was piqued,
and ready to revenge herself in a hundred little ways. If she had been
really in love with him it would have been a different matter; but she
was not. In the last six weeks she certainly had often had visions of
the pleasures of being a lady and keeping servants, but her liking was
not more than skin deep.
Of late, indeed, she had been much more frightened than attracted by the
conduct of her admirer, and really felt it a relief, notwithstanding her
pique, when he retired into a less demonstrative state.
Before the end of that summer term Tom had it made up with Hardy, and it
was Hardy who, at Tom's request, called in at the Choughs, just to see
how things were going on. Tom saw at a glance that something had
happened when Hardy appeared again.
"What is it? She is not ill?" he said quickly.
"No; quite well, her aunt says."
"You didn't see her, then?"
"No the fact is, she has gone home."
_IV.--The Master's Term_
The years speed by, bringing their changes to St. Ambrose. Hardy is a
fellow and tutor of the college in Tom's second year, and Drysdale has
been requested to remove his name from the books. Tom is all for
politics now, and the theories he propounds in the Union gain him the
name of Chartist Brown.
In his third year, Hardy often brought him down from high talk of
"universal democracy" and "the good cause" by insisting on making the
younger man explain what he really meant. And though Tom suffered under
this severe treatment, in the end he generally came round to acknowledge
the reasonableness of Hardy's methods of argument.
It was a trying year to Tom, this third and last year; full of large
dreams and small performances, of hopes and struggles, ending in failure
and disappointment. The common pursuits of the place had lost their
freshness, and with it much of their charm. He was beginning to feel
himself in a cage, and to beat against the bars of it.
Squire Brown was passing through Oxford, and paid his son a visit in the
Tom gave a small wine-party, which went off admirably, and the squire
enlarged upon the great improvement in young men and habits of the
university, especially in the matter of drinking. Tom had only opened
three bottles of port. In his time the men would have drunk certainly
not less than a bottle a man.
But as the squire walked back to his hotel he was deeply moved at the
Radical views his son now held. He could not understand these new
notions of young men, and thought them mischievous and bad. At the same
time, he was too fair a man to try to dragoon his son out of anything
which he really believed. The fact had begun to dawn on the squire that
the world had changed a good deal since his time; while Tom, on his
part, valued his father's confidence and love above his own opinions. By
degrees the honest beliefs of father and son no longer looked monstrous
to one another, and the views of each of them were modified.
* * * * *
One more look must be taken at the old college. Our hero is up in the
summer term, keeping his three weeks' residence, the necessary
preliminary to an M.A. degree. We find him sitting in Hardy's rooms; tea
is over, scouts out of college, candles lighted, and silence reigning,
except when distant sounds of mirth come from some undergraduates' rooms
on the opposite side of the quad.
"Why can't you give a fellow his degree quietly," says Tom, "without
making him come and kick his heels here for three weeks?"
"You ungrateful dog! Do you mean to say you haven't enjoyed coming back,
and sitting in dignity in the bachelors' seats in chapel and at the
bachelors' table in hall, and thinking how much wiser you are than the
undergraduates? Besides your old friends want to see you, and you ought
to want to see them."
"Well, I'm very glad to see you again, old fellow. But who else is there
I care to see? My old friends are gone, and the youngsters look on me as
a sort of don, and I don't appreciate the dignity. You have never broken
with the place. And then you always did your duty, and have done the
college credit. You can't enter into the feelings of a fellow who wasted
three parts of his time here."
"Come, come, Tom! You might have read more, certainly, and taken a
higher degree. But, after all, I believe your melancholy comes from your
not being asked to pull in the boat."
"Perhaps it does. Don't you call it degrading to be pulling in the
torpid in one's old age?"
"Mortified vanity! It's a capital boat. I wonder how we should have
liked to have been turned out for some bachelor just because he had
pulled a good oar in his day?"
"Not at all. I don't blame the youngsters. By the way, they're an
uncommonly nice set. Much better behaved in every way than we were. Why,
the college is a different place altogether. And as you are the only new
tutor, it must have been your doing. Now I want to know your secret?"
"I've no secret, except taking a real interest in all that the men do,
and living with them as much as I can. You may guess it isn't much of a
trial to me to steer the boat down, or run on the bank and coach the
crew. And now the president of St. Ambrose himself comes out to see the
boat. But I don't mean to stop up more than another year now at the
outside. I have been tutor nearly three years, and that's about long
The talk went on until the clock struck twelve.
"Hallo!" said Tom. "Time for me to knock out, or the old porter will be
in bed. Good-night!"
* * * * *
Victor Marie Hugo, the great French poet, dramatist, and
novelist, was born at Besancon, on February 26, 1802. He wrote
verses from boyhood, and after minor successes, achieved
reputation with "Odes et Poesies," 1823. Hugo early became the
protagonist of the romantic movement in French literature. In
1841 he was elected to the Academy. From 1845 he took an
increasingly active part in politics, with the result that
from 1852 to 1870 he lived in exile, first in Jersey and then
in Guernsey. "Les Miserables" is not only the greatest of all
Victor Hugo's productions, but is in many respects the
greatest work of fiction ever conceived. An enormous range of
matter is pressed into its pages--by turn historical,
philosophical, lyrical, humanitarian--but running through all
the change of scene is the tragedy and comedy of life at its
darkest and its brightest, and of human passions at their
worst and at their best. It is more than a novel. It is a
magnificent plea for the outcasts of society, for those who
are crushed by the mighty edifice of social order. Yet
throughout it all there is the insistent note of the final
triumph of goodness in the heart of man. The story appeared in
1862, when Hugo was sixty years old, and was written during
his exile in Guernsey. It was translated before publication
into nine languages, and published simultaneously in eight of
the principal cities of the world. Hugo died on May 22, 1885.
(See also Vol. XVII.)
_I.--Jean Valjean, Galley-Slave_
Early in October 1815, at the close of the afternoon, a man came into
the little town of D----. He was on foot, and the few people about
looked at him suspiciously. The traveller was of wretched appearance,
though stout and robust, and in the full vigour of life. He was
evidently a stranger, and tired, dusty, and wearied with a long day's
But neither of the two inns in the town would give him food or shelter,
though he offered good money for payment.
He was an ex-convict--that was enough to exclude him.
In despair he went to the prison, and asked humbly for a night's
lodging, but the jailer told him that was impossible unless he got
It was a cold night and the wind was blowing from the Alps; it seemed
there was no refuge open to him.
Then, as he sat down on a stone bench in the marketplace and tried to
sleep, a lady coming out of the cathedral noticed him, and, learning his
homeless state, bade him knock at the bishop's house, for the good
bishop's charity and compassion were known in all the neighbourhood.
At the man's knock the bishop, who lived alone with his sister, Madame
Magloire, and an old housekeeper, said "Come in;" and the ex-convict
He told them at once that his name was Jean Valjean, that he was a
galley-slave, who had spent nineteen years at the hulks, and that he had
been walking for four days since his release. "It is the same wherever I
go," the man went on. "They all say to me, 'Be off!' I am very tired and
hungry. Will you let me stay here? I will pay."
"Madame Magloire," said the bishop, "please lay another knife and fork.
Sit down, monsieur, and warm yourself. We shall have supper directly,
and your bed will be got ready while we are supping."
Joy and amazement were on the man's face; he stammered his thanks as
though beside himself.
The bishop, in honour of his guest, had silver forks and spoons placed
on the table.
The man took his food with frightful voracity, and paid no attention to
anyone till the meal was over. Then the bishop showed him his bed in an
alcove, and an hour later the whole household was asleep.
Jean Valjean soon woke up again.
For nineteen years he had been at the galleys. Originally a pruner of
trees, he had broken a baker's window and stolen a loaf one hard winter
when there was no work to be had, and for this the sentence was five
years. Time after time he had tried to escape, and had always been
recaptured; and for each offence a fresh sentence was imposed.
Nineteen years for breaking a window and stealing a loaf! He had gone
into prison sobbing and shuddering. He came out full of hatred and
That night, at the bishop's house, for the first time in nineteen years,
Jean Valjean had received kindness. He was moved and shaken. It seemed
He got up from his bed. Everyone was asleep, the house was perfectly
Jean Valjean seized the silver plate-basket which stood in the bishop's
room, put the silver into his knapsack, and fled out of the house.
In the morning, while the bishop was breakfasting, the gendarmes brought
in Jean Valjean. The sergeant explained that they had met him running
away, and had arrested him, because of the silver they found on him.
"I gave you the candlesticks, too!" said the bishop; "they are silver.
Why did not you take them with the rest of the plate?" Then, turning to
the gendarmes, "It is a mistake."
"We are to let him go?" said the sergeant.
"Certainly," said the bishop.
The gendarmes retired.
"My friend," said the bishop to Jean Valjean, "here are your
candlesticks. Take them with you." He added in a low voice, "Never
forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest
man. My brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good."
Jean Valjean never remembered having promised anything. He left the
bishop's house and the town dazed and stupefied. It was a new world he
had come into.
He walked on for miles, and then sat down by the roadside to think.
Presently a small Savoyard boy passed him, and as he passed dropped a
two-franc piece on the ground.
Jean Valjean placed his foot upon it. In vain the boy prayed him for the
coin. Jean Valjean sat motionless, deep in thought.
Only when the boy had gone on, in despair, did Jean Valjean wake from
He shouted out, "Little Gervais, little Gervais!" for the boy had told
him his name. The lad was out of sight and hearing, and no answer came.
The enormity of his crime came home to him, and Jean Valjean fell on the
ground, and for the first time in nineteen years he wept.
On a certain December night in 1815 a stranger entered the town of
M----, at the very time when a great fire had just broken out in the
This man at once rushed into the flames, and at the risk of his own life
saved the two children of the captain of gendarmes. In consequence of
this act no one thought of asking for his passport.
The stranger settled in the town; by a happy invention he improved the
manufacture of the black beads, the chief industry of M----, and in
three years, from a very small capital, he became a rich man, and
brought prosperity to the place.
In 1820, Father Madeleine, for so the stranger was called, was made
Mayor of M---- by unanimous request, an honour he had declined the
previous year. Before he came everything was languishing in the town,
and now, a few years later, there was healthy life for all.
Father Madeleine employed everybody who came to him. The only condition
he made was--honesty. From the men he expected good-will, from the
Prosperity did not make Father Madeleine change his habits. He performed
his duties as mayor, but lived a solitary and simple life, avoiding
society. His strength, although he was a man of fifty, was enormous. It
was noticed that he read more as his leisure increased, and that as the
years went by his speech became gentler and more polite.
One person only in all the district looked doubtfully at the mayor, and
that was Javert, inspector of police.
Javert, born in prison, was the incarnation of police duty--implacable,
resolute, fanatical. He arrived in M---- when Father Madeleine was
already a rich man, and he felt sure he had seen him before.
One day in 1823 the mayor interfered to prevent Javert sending a poor
woman, named Fantine, to prison. Fantine had been dismissed from the
factory without the knowledge of M. Madeleine; and her one hope in life
was in her little girl, whom she called Cosette. Now, Cosette was
boarded out at the village of Montfermeil, some leagues distance from
M----, with a family grasping and dishonest, and to raise money for
Cosette's keep had brought Fantine to misery and sickness.
The mayor could save Fantine from prison, he could not save her life;
but before the unhappy woman died she had delivered a paper to Mr.
Madeleine authorising him to take her child, and Mr. Madeleine had
accepted the trust.
It was when Fantine lay dying in the hospital that Javert, who had quite
decided in his own mind who M. Madeleine was, came to the mayor and
asked to be dismissed from the service.
"I have denounced you, M. le Maire, to the prefect of police at Paris as
Jean Valjean, an ex-convict, who has been wanted for the robbery of a
little Savoyard more than five years ago."
"And what answer did you receive?"
"That I was mad, for the real Jean Valjean has been found."
Javert explained that an old man had been arrested for breaking into an
orchard; that on being taken to the prison he had been recognised by
several people as Jean Valjean, and that he, Javert, himself recognised
him. To-morrow he was to be tried at Arras, and, as he was an
ex-convict, his sentence would be for life.
Terrible was the anguish of M. Madeleine that night. He had done all
that man could do to obliterate the past, and now it seemed another was
to be taken in his place. The torture and torment ended. In the morning
M. Madeleine set out for Arras.
M. Madeleine arrived before the orchard-breaker was condemned. He proved
to the court's astonishment that he, the revered and philanthropic Mayor
of M----, was Jean Valjean, and that the prisoner had merely committed a
trivial theft. Then he left the court, returned to M----, removed what
money he had, buried it, and arranged his affairs.
A few days later Jean Valjean was sent back to the galleys at Toulon,
and with his removal the prosperity of M---- speedily collapsed. This
was in July 1823. In November of that year the following paragraph
appeared in the Toulon paper:
"Yesterday, a convict, on his return from rescuing a sailor, fell into
the sea and was drowned. His body has not been found. His name was
registered as Jean Valjean."
_III.--A Hunted Man_
At Christmas, in the year 1823, an old man came to the village of
Montfermeil, called at the inn, paid money to the rascally innkeeper,
Thenardier, and carried off little Cosette to Paris.
The old man rented a large garret in an old house, and Cosette became
inexpressibly happy with her doll and with the good man who loved her so
Till then Jean Valjean had never loved anything. He had never been a
father, lover, husband, or friend. When he saw Cosette, and had rescued
her, he felt his heart strangely moved. All the affection he had was
aroused, and went out to this child. Jean Valjean was fifty-five and
Cosette eight, and all the love of his life, hitherto untouched, melted
into a benevolent devotion.
Cosette, too, changed. She had been separated from her mother at such an
early age that she could not remember her. And the Thenardiers had
treated her harshly. In Jean Valjean she found a father, just as he
found a daughter in Cosette.
Weeks passed away. These two beings led a wonderfully happy life in the
old garret; Cosette would chatter, laugh, and sing all day.
Jean Valjean was careful never to go out in the daytime, but he began to
be known in the district as "the mendicant who gives away money." There
was one old man who sat by some church steps, and who generally seemed
to be praying, whom Jean Valjean always liked to relieve. One night when
Jean Valjean had dropped a piece of money into his hand as usual, the
beggar suddenly raised his eyes, stared hard at him, and then quickly
dropped his head. Jean Valjean started, and went home greatly troubled.
The face which he fancied he had seen was that of Javert.
A few nights later Jean Valjean found that Javert had taken lodgings in
the same house where he and Cosette lived. Taking the child by the hand,
he at once set out for fresh quarters. They passed through silent and
empty streets, and crossed the river, and it seemed to Jean Valjean that
no one was in pursuit. But soon he noticed four men plainly shadowing
him, and a shudder went over him. He turned from street to street,
trying to escape from the city, and at last found himself entrapped in a
_cul-de-sac._ What was to be done?
There was no time to turn back. Javert had undoubtedly picketed every
outlet. Fortunately for Jean Valjean, there was a deep shadow in the
street, so that his own movements were unseen.
While he stood hesitating, a patrol of soldiers entered the street, with
Javert at their head. They frequently halted. It was evident that they
were exploring every hole and corner, and one might judge they would
take a quarter of an hour before they reached the spot where Jean
Valjean was. It was a frightful moment. Capture meant the galleys, and
Cosette lost for ever. There was only one thing possible--to scale the
wall which ran along a wide portion of the street. But the difficulty
was Cosette; there was no thought of abandoning her.
First, Jean Valjean procured a rope from the lamppost, for the lamps had
not been lit that night owing to the moonlight. This he fastened round
the child, taking the other end between his teeth. Half a minute later he
was on his knees on the top of the wall. Cosette watched him in silence.
All at once she heard Jean Valjean saying in a very low voice, "Lean
against the wall. Don't speak, and don't be afraid."
She felt herself lifted from the ground, and before she had time to
think where she was she found herself on the top of the wall.
Jean Valjean grasped her, put the child on his back, and crawled along
the wall till he came to a sloping roof. He could hear the thundering
voice of Javert giving orders to the patrol to search the _cul-de-sac_
to the end.
Jean Valjean slipped down the roof, still carrying Cosette, and leaped
on the ground. It was a convent garden he had entered.
On the other side of the wall the clatter of muskets and the
imprecations of Javert resounded; from the convent came a hymn.
Cosette and Jean Valjean fell on their knees. Presently Jean Valjean
discovered that the gardener was an old man whose life he had saved at
M------, and who, in his gratitude, was prepared to do anything for M.
It ended in Cosette entering the convent school as a pupil, and Jean
Valjean being accepted as the gardener's brother. The good nuns never
left the precincts of their convent, and cared nothing for the world
beyond their gates.
As for Javert, he had delayed attempting an arrest, even when his
suspicions had been aroused, because, after all, the papers said the
convict was dead. But once convinced, he hesitated no longer.
His disappointment when Jean Valjean escaped him was midway between
despair and fury. All night the search went on; but it never occurred to
Javert that a steep wall of fourteen feet could be climbed by an old man
with a child.
Several years passed at the convent.
Jean Valjean worked daily in the garden, and shared the hut and the name
of the old gardener, M. Fauchelevent. Cosette was allowed to see him for
an hour every day.
The peaceful garden, the fragrant flowers, the merry cries of the
children, the grave and simple women, gradually brought happiness to
Jean Valjean; and his heart melted into gratitude for the security he
_IV.--Something Higher than Duty_
For six years Cosette and Jean Valjean stayed at the convent; and then,
on the death of the old gardener, Jean Valjean, now bearing the name of
Fauchelevent, decided that as Cosette was not going to be a nun, and as
recognition was no longer to be feared, it would be well to remove into
So a house was taken in the Rue Plumet, and here, with a faithful
servant, the old man dwelt with his adopted child. But Jean Valjean took
other rooms in Paris, in case of accidents.
Cosette was growing up. She was conscious of her good looks, and she was
in love with a well-connected youth named Marius, the son of Baron
Jean Valjean learnt of this secret love-making with dismay. The idea of
parting from Cosette was intolerable to him.
Then, in June 1832, came desperate street fighting in Paris, and Marius
was in command of one of the revolutionary barricades.
At this barricade Javert had been captured as a spy, and Jean Valjean,
who was known to the revolutionaries, found his old, implacable enemy
tied to a post, waiting to be shot. Jean Valjean requested to be allowed
to blow out Javert's brains himself, and permission was given.
Holding a pistol in his hand, Jean Valjean led Javert, who was still
bound, to a lane out of sight of the barricade, and there with his knife
cut the ropes from the wrists and feet of his prisoner.
"You are free," he said. "Go; and if by chance I leave this place alive,
I am to be found under the name of Fauchelevent, in the Rue de
l'Homme-Arme, No. 7."
Javert walked a few steps, and then turned back, and cried, "You worry
me. I would rather you killed me!"
"Go!" was the only answer from Jean Valjean.
Javert moved slowly away; and when he had disappeared Jean Valjean
discharged his pistol in the air.
Soon the last stand of the insurgents was at an end, and the barricade
destroyed. Jean Valjean, who had taken no part in the struggle, beyond
exposing himself to the bullets of the soldiers, was unhurt; but Marius
lay wounded and insensible in his arms.
The soldiers were shooting down all who tried to escape. The situation
There was only one chance for life--underground. An iron grating, which
led to the sewers, was at his feet. Jean Valjean tore it open, and
disappeared with Marius on his shoulders.
He emerged, after a horrible passage through a grating by the bank of
the river, only to find there the implacable Javert!
Jean Valjean was quite calm.
"Inspector Javert," he said, "help me to carry this man home; then do
with me what you please."
A cab was waiting for the inspector. He ordered the man to drive to the
address Jean Valjean gave him. Marius, still unconscious, was taken to
his grandfather's house.
"Inspector Javert," said Jean Valjean, "grant me one thing more. Let me
go home for a minute; then you may take me where you will."
Javert told the driver to go to Rue de l'Homme-Arme, No. 7.
When they reached the house, Javert said, "Go up; I will wait here for
But before Jean Valjean reached his rooms Javert had gone, and the
street was empty.
Javert had not been at ease since his life had been spared. He was now
in horrible uncertainty. To owe his life to an ex-convict, to accept
this debt, and then to repay him by sending him back to the galleys was
impossible. To let a malefactor go free while he, Inspector Javert, took
his pay from the government, was equally impossible. It seemed there was
something higher and above his code of duty, something he had not come
into collision with before. The uncertainty of the right thing to be
done destroyed Javert, to whom life had hitherto been perfectly plain.
He could not live recognising Jean Valjean as his saviour, and he could
not bring himself to arrest Jean Valjean.
Inspector Javert made his last report at the police-station, and then,
unable to face the new conditions of life, walked slowly to the river
and plunged into the Seine, where the water rolls round and round in an
Marius recovered, and married Cosette; and Jean Valjean lived alone. He
had told Marius who he was--Jean Valjean, an escaped convict; and Marius
and Cosette gradually saw less and less of the old man.
But before Jean Valjean died Marius learnt the whole truth of the heroic
life of the old man who had rescued him from the lost barricade. For the
first time he realised that Jean Valjean had come to the barricade only
to save him, knowing him to be in love with Cosette.
He hastened with Cosette to Jean Valjean's room; but the old man's last
hour had come.
"Come closer, come closer, both of you," he cried. "I love you so much.
It is good to die like this! You love me too, my Cosette. I know you've
always had a fondness for the poor old man. And you, M. Pontmercy, will
always make Cosette happy. There were several things I wanted to say,
but they don't matter now. Come nearer, my children. I am happy in
Cosette and Marius fell on their knees, and covered his hands with
Jean Valjean was dead!
* * * * *
Notre Dame de Paris
Victor Hugo was already eminent as one of the greatest
dramatic poets of his day before he gave to the world, in
1831, his great tragic romance, "Notre Dame de Paris," of
which the original title was "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
Hugo has said that the story was suggested to him by the Greek
word _anagke_ (Fate), which one day he discovered carved on
one of the towers of the famous cathedral. "These Greek
characters," he says, "black with age and cut deep into the
stone with the peculiarities of form and arrangement common to
the Gothic caligraphy that marked them the work of some hand
in the Middle Ages, and above all the sad and mournful meaning
which they expressed, forcibly impressed me." In "Notre Dame"
there is all the tenderness for sorrow and sympathy for the
afflicted, which found even fuller and deeper expression
thirty years later in "Les Miserables"; while as a study of
the life of Paris of the Middle Ages, and of the great church
after which the romance is called, the book is still
_I.--The Hunchback of Notre Dame_
It was January 6, 1482, and all Paris was keeping the double festival of
Epiphany and the Feast of Fools.
The Lord of Misrule was to be elected, and all who were competing for
the post came in turn and made a grimace at a broken window in the great
hall of the Palace of Justice. The ugliest face was to be acclaimed
victor by the populace, and shouts of laughter greeted the grotesque
The vote was unanimous in favour of the hunchback of Notre Dame. He had
but stood at the window, and at once had been elected. The square nose,
the horseshoe shaped mouth, the one eye, overhung by a bushy red
eyebrow, the forked chin, and the strange expression of amazement,
malice, and melancholy--who had seen such a grimace?
It was only when the crowd had carried away the Lord of Misrule in
triumph that they understood that the grimace was the hunchback's
natural face. In fact, the entire man was a grimace. Humpbacked, an
enormous head, with bristles of red hair; broad feet, huge hands,
crooked legs; and, with all this deformity, a wonderful vigour, agility,
and courage. Such was the newly chosen Lord of Misrule--a giant broken
to pieces and badly mended.
He was recognised by the crowd in the streets, and shouts went up.
"It is Quasimodo, the bell-ringer! Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre
A pasteboard tiara and imitation robes were placed on him, and Quasimodo
submitted with a sort of proud docility. Then he was seated upon a
painted barrow, and twelve men raised it to their shoulders; and the
procession, which included all the vagrants and rascals of Paris, set
out to parade the city.
There was a certain rapture in this journey for Quasimodo. For the first
time in his life he felt a thrill of vanity. Hitherto humiliation and
contempt had been his portion; and now, though he was deaf, he could
enjoy the plaudits of the mob--mob which he hated because he felt that
it hated him.
Suddenly, as Quasimodo passed triumphantly along the streets, the
spectators saw a man, dressed like a priest, dart out and snatch away
the gilded crosier from the mock pope.
A cry of terror rose. The terrible Quasimodo threw himself from his
barrow, and everyone expected to see him tear the priest limb from limb.
Instead, he fell on his knees before the priest, and submitted to have
his tiara torn from him and his crosier broken.
The fraternity of fools determined to defend their pope so abruptly
dethroned; but Quasimodo placed himself in front of the priest, put his
fists up, and glared at his assailants, so that the crowd melted before
Then, at the grave beckoning of the priest, Quasimodo followed, and the
two disappeared down a narrow side street.
The one human being whom Quasimodo loved was this priest, Claude Frollo,
Archbishop of Paris. And this was quite natural. For it was Claude
Frollo who had found the hunchback--a deserted, forsaken child left in a
sack at the entrance to Notre Dame, and, in spite of his deformities,
had taken him, fed him, adopted him, and brought him up. Claude Frollo
taught him to speak, to read, and to write, and had made him bell-ringer
at Notre Dame.
Quasimodo grew up in Notre Dame. Cut off from the world by his
deformities, the church became his universe, and his gratitude was
boundless when he was made bell-ringer.
The bells had made him deaf, but he could understand by signs Claude
Frollo's wishes, and so the archdeacon became the only human being with
whom Quasimodo could hold any communication. Notre Dame and Claude
Frollo were the only two things in the world for Quasimodo, and to both
he was the most faithful watchman and servant. In the year 1482
Quasimodo was about twenty, and Claude Frollo thirty-six. The former had
grown up, the latter had grown old.
On that same January 6, 1482, a young girl was dancing in an open space
near a great bonfire in Paris. She was not tall but seemed to be, so
erect was her figure. She danced and twirled upon an old piece of
Persian carpet, and every eye in the crowd was riveted upon her. In her
grace and beauty this gypsy girl seemed more than mortal.
One man in the crowd stood more absorbed than the rest in watching the
dancer. It was Claude Frollo, the archdeacon: and though his hair was
grey and scanty, in his deep-set eyes the fire and spirit of youth still
When the young girl stopped at last, breathless, the people applauded
"Djali," said the gypsy, "it's your turn now." And a pretty little white
goat got up from a corner of the carpet.
"Djali, what month in the year is this?"
The goat raised his forefoot and struck once upon the tambourine held
out to him.
The crowd applauded.
"Djali, what day of the month is it?"
The goat struck the tambourine six times.
The people thought it was wonderful.
"There is sorcery in this!" said a forbidding voice in the crowd. It was
the voice of the priest Claude Frolic.
Then the gypsy began to take up a collection in her tambourine, and
presently the crowd dispersed.
Later in the day, when darkness had fallen, as the gypsy and her goat
were proceeding to their lodgings, Quasimodo seized hold of the girl and
ran off with her.
"Murder! Murder!" shrieked the unfortunate gypsy.
"Halt! Let the girl go, you ruffian!" exclaimed, in a voice of thunder,
a horseman who appeared suddenly from a cross street. It was a captain
of the King's Archers, armed from head to foot, and sword in hand.
He tore the gypsy girl from the arms of the astonished Quasimodo, and
placed her across his saddle. Before the hunchback could recover from
his surprise, a squadron of royal troops, going on duty as extra
watchmen, surrounded him, and he was seized and bound.
The gypsy girl sat gracefully upon the officer's saddle, placing both
hands upon the young man's shoulders, and gazing at him fixedly. Then
breaking the silence, she said tenderly, "What is your name, M.
"Captain Phaebus de Chateaupers, at your service, my pretty maid!" said
the officer, drawing himself up.
And while Captain Phaebus twirled his mustache, she slipped from his
horse and vanished like a flash of lightning.
"The bird has flown, but the bat remains, captain," said one of the
troopers, tightening Quasimodo's bonds.
Quasimodo being deaf, understood nothing of the proceedings in the court
next day, when he was charged with creating a disturbance, and of
rebellion and disloyalty to the King's Archers.
The chief magistrate, also being deaf and at the same time anxious to
conceal his infirmity, understood nothing that Quasimodo said.
The hunchback was sentenced to be taken to the pillory in the Greve, to
be beaten, and to be kept there for two hours.
Quasimodo remained utterly impassive, while the crowd which yesterday
had hailed him as Lord of Misrule now greeted him with hooting and
The pillory was a simple cube of masonry, some ten feet high, and hollow
within. A horizontal wheel of oak was at the top, and to this the victim
was bound in a kneeling posture. A very steep flight of stone steps led
to the wheel.
All the people laughed merrily when Quasimodo was seen in the pillory;
and when he had been beaten by the public executioner, they added to the
wretched sufferer's misery by insults, and, occasionally, stones. There
was hardly a spectator in the crowd that had not some grudge, real or
imagined, against the hunchback bell-ringer of Notre Dame.
Quasimodo had endured the torturer's whip with patience, but he rebelled
against the stones, and struggled in his fetters till the old pillory-
wheel creaked on its timbers. Then, as he could accomplish nothing by
his struggles, his face became quiet again.
For a moment the cloud was lightened when the poor victim saw a priest
seated on a mule approach in the roadway. A strange smile came on the
face of Quasimodo as he glanced at the priest; yet when the mule was
near enough to the pillory for his rider to recognise the prisoner, the
priest cast down his eyes, turned back hastily, as if in a hurry to
avoid humiliating appeals, and not at all anxious to be greeted by a
poor wretch in the pillory.
The priest was the archdeacon, Claude Frollo. The smile on Quasimodo's
face became bitter and profoundly sad.
Time passed. He had been there at least an hour and a half, wounded,
incessantly mocked, and almost stoned to death.
Suddenly he again struggled in his chains with renewed despair, and
breaking the silence which he had kept so stubbornly, he cried in a
hoarse and furious voice, "Water!"
The exclamation of distress, far from exciting compassion, only
increased the amusement of the Paris mob. Not a voice was raised, except
to mock at his thirst.
Quasimodo cast a despairing look upon the crowd, and repeated in a
heartrending voice, "Water!"
Everyone laughed. A woman aimed a stone at his head, saying, "That will
teach you to wake us at night with your cursed chimes!"
"Here's a cup to drink out of!" said a man, throwing a broken jug at his
"Water!" repeated Quasimodo for the third time.
At this moment he saw the gypsy girl and her goat come through the
crowd. His eye gleamed. He did not doubt that she, too, came to be
avenged, and to take her turn at him with the rest. He watched her
nimbly climb the ladder. Rage and spite choked him. He longed to destroy
the pillory; and had the lightning of his eye had power to blast, the
gypsy girl would have been reduced to ashes long before she reached the
platform. Without a word she approached the sufferer, loosened a gourd
from her girdle, and raised it gently to the parched lips of the
miserable man. Then from his eye a great tear trickled, and rolled
slowly down the misshapen face, so long convulsed with despair.
The gypsy girl smilingly pressed the neck of the gourd to Quasimodo's
He drank long draughts; his thirst was feverish. When he had done, the
poor wretch put out his black lips to kiss the hand which had helped
him. But the girl, remembering the violent attempt of the previous
night, and not quite free from distrust, withdrew her hand quickly.
Quasimodo fixed upon her a look of reproach and unspeakable sorrow.
The sight of this beautiful girl succouring a man in the pillory so
deformed and wretched seemed sublime, and the people were immediately
affected by it. They clapped their hands, and shouted, "Noel! Noel!"
Esmeralda--for that was the name of the gypsy girl--came down from the
pillory, and a mad woman called out, "Come down! Come down! You will go
Presently Quasimodo was released, and the mob thereupon dispersed.
_III.--The Archdeacon's Passion_
In spite of the austerity of Claude Frollo's life, pious people
suspected him of magic. His silence and secretiveness encouraged this
feeling. He was known to be at work in the long hours of the night in
his cell in Notre Dame, and he wandered about the streets like a
Whenever the gypsy girl placed her carpet within sight of Claude
Frollo's cell and began to dance the priest turned from his books and,
resting his head in his hands, gazed at her. Then he would go down into
the public thoroughfares, lured on by some burning passion within.
Quasimodo, too, would desist from his bell-ringing to look at the
The hotter the fire of passion burned within the priest the farther
Esmeralda moved from him. He discovered that she was in love with
Captain Phoebus, her rescuer, and this knowledge added fuel to the
One purpose now was clear to him. He would give up all for the dancing
girl, and she should be his. But if Esmeralda refused to come to him,
then the archdeacon resolved that she should die before she married
anyone else. At any time he could have her arrested on the charge of
sorcery, and the goat's tricks would easily procure a conviction.
Captain Phoebus, having invited Esmeralda to meet him at a wineshop, the
priest followed the couple, and when the captain, to whom the girl was
the merest diversion, began to make love, Claude Frollo, unable to
contain himself, rushed in unobserved and stabbed him.
Captain Phoebus was taken up for dead, and the priest vanished as
silently as he had come. The soldiers of the watch found Esmeralda, and
said, "This is the sorceress who has stabbed our captain." So Esmeralda
was brought to trial on the charge of witchcraft, and every day the
priest from Notre Dame came into court.
It was a tedious process, for not only was the girl on trial, but the
goat also, in accordance with the custom of the times, was under arrest.
All that Esmeralda wanted to know was whether Phoebus was still alive,
and she was told by the judges he was dying.
The indictment against her was "that with her accomplice, the bewitched
goat, she did murder and stab, in league with the powers of darkness, by
the aid of charms and spells, a captain of the king's troops, one
Phoebus de Chateaupers." And it was vain that the girl denied vehemently
"How do you explain the charge brought against you?" said the president.
"I have told you already I do not know," said Esmeralda, in a broken
voice. "It was a priest--a priest who is always pursuing me"
"That's it," said the president; "it is a goblin monk."
The goat having performed his simple tricks in the presence of the
court, and Esmeralda still refusing to admit her guilt, the president
ordered her to be put to the question.
She was placed on the rack, and at the first turn of the screw promised
to confess everything. Then the lawyers put a number of questions to
her, and Esmeralda answered "Yes" in every case. It was plain that her
spirit was utterly broken.
Then the court having read the confession, sentence was pronounced. She
was to be taken to the Greve, where the pillory stood, and, in atonement
for the crimes confessed, there hanged and strangled on the city gibbet,
"and likewise this your goat."
"It must be a dream," the girl murmured, when she heard the sentence.
But, if Esmeralda had yielded at the first turn of the rack, nothing
would make her yield to Claude Frollo when he came to see her in prison.
In vain he promised her life and liberty if she would only agree to love
him. In vain he reproached her with having brought disturbance and
disquiet into his soul. All that Esmeralda could say was, "Have pity on
me!--have pity on me!" But she would not give up Phoebus. And when the
priest declared Phoebus was dead, she turned upon him and called him
"monster and assassin!" Claude Frollo, unable to move her, decided to
let her die, and the day of execution arrived. As for Captain Phoebus,
he recovered; but, as he was about to be engaged to a young lady of
wealth, he thought it better to say nothing about the gypsy girl.
But Esmeralda was not hanged that day. Just as the hangman's assistants
were about to do their work, Quasimodo, who had been watching everything
from his gallery in Notre Dame, slid down by a rope to the ground,
rushed at the two executioners, flung them to the earth with his huge
fists, seized the gypsy girl, as a child might a doll, and with one
bound was in the church, holding her above his head, and shouting in a
tremendous voice, "Sanctuary!"
"Sanctuary! Sanctuary!" The mob took up the cry, and ten thousand hands
The hangman stood stupefied. Within the precincts of Notre Dame the
prisoner was secure; the cathedral was a sure refuge, all human justice
ended at its threshold.
_IV.--The Attack on Notre Dame_
Quasimodo did not stop running and shouting "Sanctuary!" till he reached
a cell built over the aisles in Notre Dame. Here he deposited Esmeralda
carefully, untied the ropes which bruised her arms, and spread a
mattress on the floor; then he left her, and returned with a basket of
The girl lifted her eyes to thank him, but could not utter a word, so
frightful was he to look at. Quasimodo only said, "I frighten you
because I am ugly. Do not look at me, then, but listen. All day you must
stay here, at night you can walk anywhere about the church. But, day or
night, do not leave the church, or you will be lost. They would kill
you, and I should die." Then he vanished, but when she awoke next
morning she saw him at the window of her cell.
"Don't be frightened," he said. "I am your friend. I only came to see if
you were asleep. I am deaf, you did not know that? I never realised how
ugly I was till now. I seem to you like some awful beast, eh? And
you--you are a sunbeam!"
As the days went by calm returned to Esmeralda's soul, and with calm had
come the sense of security, and with security hope.
Two forces were now at work to remove her from Notre Dame.
The archdeacon, leaving Paris to avoid her execution, had returned--to
learn where Esmeralda was situated. From his cell in Notre Dame he
observed her movements, and, in his madness, jealous of Quasimodo's
service to her, resolved to have her removed. If she still refused him
he would give her up to justice.
Esmeralda's friends, all the gypsies, vagrants, cutthroats, and
pick-pockets of Paris, to the number of six thousand, also resolved that
they would forcibly rescue her from Notre Dame, lest some evil should
overtake her. Paris at that time had neither police nor adequate city
At midnight the monstrous army of vagrants set out, and it was not until
they were outside the church that they lit their torches. Quasimodo,
every night on the watch, at once supposed that the invaders had some
foul purpose against Esmeralda, and determined to defend the church at
The battle raged furiously at the great west doors. Hammers, pincers,
and crow-bars were at work outside. Quasimodo retaliated by heaving
first a great beam of wood, and then stones and other missiles on the
besiegers. Finally, when they had reared a tall ladder to the first
gallery, and had crowded it with men, Quasimodo, by sheer force, pushed
the ladder away, and it tottered and fell right back. The battle only
ended on the arrival of a large company of King's Archers, when the
vagrants, defeated by Quasimodo, retired fighting.
While the battle raged Claude Frollo, with the aid of a disreputable
young student of his acquaintance, persuaded Esmeralda to leave the
church by a secret door at the back, and to escape by the river. The
priest was so hidden in his cloak that the girl did not recognise him
till they were alone in the city. In the Greve, at the foot of the
public scaffold where the gallows stood, Claude Frollo made his last
"Listen!" he said. "I have saved you, and I can save you altogether, if
you choose. Choose between me and the gibbet!"
There was silence, and then Esmeralda said, "It is less horrible to me
than you are."
He poured out his soul passionately, telling her that his life was
nothing without her love, but the girl never moved.
It was daylight now.
"For the last time, will you be mine?"
She answered emphatically, "No!"
Then he called out as loud as he could, and presently a body of armed
men appeared. Soon the public hangman was aroused, and the execution
which had been interrupted by Quasimodo's heroic rescue was carried out.
Meantime, what of Quasimodo?
He had rushed to her cell when the king's troops, having beaten off the
vagrants, entered the church, and it was empty! Then he had explored
every nook and cranny of Notre Dame, and again and again gone the round
of the church. For an hour he sat in despair, his body convulsed by
Suddenly he remembered that Claude Frollo had a secret key, and decided
that the priest must have carried her off.
At that very moment Claude returned to Notre Dame, after handing over
Esmeralda to the hangman. Quasimodo watched him ascend to the balustrade
at the top of the tower, and then followed him; the priest's attention
was too absorbed to hear the hunchback's step.
Claude rested his arms on the balustrade, and gazed intently at the
gallows in the Greve. Quasimodo tried to make out what it was the priest
stared at, and then he recognised Esmeralda in the hangman's arms on the
ladder, and in another second the hangman had done his work.
A demoniac laugh broke from the livid lips of Claude Frollo; Quasimodo
could not hear this laughter, but he saw it.
He rushed furiously upon the archdeacon, and with his great fists he
hurled Claude Frollo into the abyss over which he leaned.
The archdeacon caught at a gutter, and hung suspended for a few minutes,
and then fell--more than two hundred feet.
Quasimodo raised his eyes to the gypsy, whose body still swung from the
gibbet; and then lowered them to the shapeless mass on the pavement
beneath. "And these were all I have ever loved!" he said, sobbing.
He was never seen again in Notre Dame.
Some two years later, when there were certain clearances in the vault
where the body of Esmeralda had been deposited, the skeleton of a man,
deformed and twisted, was found in close embrace with the skeleton of a
woman. A little silk bag which Esmeralda had always worn was around the
neck of the skeleton of the woman.
* * * * *
The Toilers of the Sea
Victor Hugo's third great romance, "The Toilers of the Sea"
("Les Travailleurs de la Mer"), published in 1866, was written
during his exile in Guernsey. Of all Hugo's romances, both in
prose and in verse, none surpasses this for sheer splendour of
imagination and diction, for eloquence and sublimity of truth.
It is, in short, an idyll of passion, adventure, and
self-sacrifice. The description of the moods and mysteries of
the sea is well-nigh incomparable; and not even in the whole
of Hugo's works can there be found anything more vivid than
Gilliatt's battle with the devil-fish. The scene of the story
is laid in the Channel Islands, and the book itself is
dedicated to the "Isle of Guernsey, severe yet gentle, my
present asylum, my probable tomb." The story was immensely
successful on its appearance, and was at once translated into
several European languages.
_I.--A Lonely Man_
A Guernseyman named Gilliatt, who was avoided by his neighbours on
account of lonely habits, and a certain love of nature which the
suspicious people regarded as indicating some connection with the devil,
was one day returning on a rising tide from his fishing, when he fancied
he saw in a certain projection of the cliff a shadow of a man.
The place probably attracted Gilliatt's gaze because it was a favourite
sojourn of his--a natural seat cut in the great cliffs, and affording a
magnificent view of the sea. It was a place to which some uninitiated
traveller would climb with delight from the shore and sit entranced by
the scene before him, all oblivious of the rising ocean till he was
completely cut off from escape. No shout would reach the ear of man from
that desolate giant's chair in the rock.
Gilliatt steered his ship nearer to the cliff, and saw that the shadow
was a man. The sea was already high. The rock was encircled. Gilliatt
drew nearer. The man was asleep.
He was attired in black, and looked like a priest. Gilliatt had never
seen him before. The fisherman wore off, skirted the rock wall, and,
approaching so close to the dangerous cliff that by standing on the
gunwale of his sloop he could touch the foot of the sleeper, succeeded
in arousing him.
The man roused, and muttered, "I was looking about."
Gilliatt bade him jump into the boat. When he had landed this young
priest, who had a somewhat feminine cast of features, a clear eye, and a
grave manner, Gilliatt perceived that he was holding out a sovereign in
a very white hand. Gilliatt moved the hand gently away. There was a
pause. Then the young man bowed, and left him.
Gilliatt had forgotten all about this stranger, when a voice hailed him.
It was one of the inhabitants, driving by quickly.
"There is news, Gilliatt--at the Bravees."
"What is it?"
"I am too hurried to tell you the story. Go up to the house, and you
The Bravees was the residence of a man named Lethierry. He had raised
himself to a position of wealth by starting the first steamboat between
Guernsey and the coast of Normandy; he called this vessel La Durande;
the natives, who prophesied evil of such a frightful invention, called
it the Devil's Boat. But the Durande went to and fro without disaster,
and Lethierry's gold increased. There was nothing in all the universe he
loved so much as this marvellous ship worked by steam. Next to the
Durande, he most loved his pretty niece Derouchette, who kept house for
One day as Gilliatt was walking over the snow-covered roads,
Derouchette, who was ahead of him, had stopped for a moment, and
stooping down, had written something with her finger in the snow. When
the fisherman reached the place, he found that the mischievous little
creature had written his name there. Ever since that hour, in the almost
unbroken solitude of his life, Gilliatt had thought about Derouchette.
Now that he heard of news at the Bravees, the lonely man made his way to
Lethierry's house, which was the nest of Derouchette.
The news was soon told. The Durande was lost! Presently, amid the
details of the story--the Durande had been wrecked in a fog on the
terrible rocks known as the Douvres--one thing emerged: the engines were
intact. To rescue the Durande was impossible; but the machinery might
still be saved. These engines were unique. To construct others like
them, money was wanting; but to find the artificer would have been still
more difficult. The constructor was dead. The machinery had cost two
thousand pounds. As long as these engines existed, it might almost be
said that there was no shipwreck. The loss of the engines alone was
Now, if ever a dream had appeared wild and impracticable, it was that of
saving the engines then embedded between the Douvres. The idea of
sending a crew to work upon those rocks was absurd. It was the season of
heavy seas. Besides, on the narrow ledge of the highest part of the rock
there was scarcely room for one person. To save the engines, therefore,
it would be necessary for a man to go to the Douvres, to be alone in
that sea, alone at five leagues from the coast, alone in that region of
terrors, for entire weeks, in the presence of dangers foreseen and
unforeseen--without supplies in the face of hunger and nakedness,
without companionship save that of death.
A pilot present in the room delivered judgment.
"No; it is all over. The man does not exist who could go there and
rescue the machinery of the Durande."
"If I don't go," said the engineer of the lost ship, who loved those
engines, "it is because nobody could do it"
"If he existed----" continued the pilot.
Derouchette turned her head impulsively, and interrupted.
"I would marry him," she said innocently.
There was a pause. A man made his way out of the crowd, and standing
before her, pale and anxious, said, "You would marry him, Miss
It was Gilliatt. All eyes were turned towards him. Lethierry had just
before stood upright and gazed about him. His eyes glittered with a
strange light. He took off his sailor's cap, and threw it on the ground;
then looked solemnly before him, and without seeing any of the persons
present, said Derouchette should be his. "I pledge myself to it in God's
_II.--The Prey of the Rocks_
The two perpendicular forms called the Douvres held fast between them,
like an architrave between two pillars, the wreck of the Durande. The
spectacle thus presented was a vast portal in the midst of the sea. It
might have been a titanic cromlech planted there in mid-ocean by hands
accustomed to proportion their labours to the great deep. Its wild
outline stood well defined against the clear sky when Gilliatt
approached in his sloop.
The rocks, thus holding fast and exhibiting their prey, were terrible to
behold. There was a menace in the attitude of the rocks. They seemed to
be biding their time. Nothing could be more suggestive of haughtiness
and arrogance: the conquered vessel, the triumphant abyss. The two
rocks, still streaming with the tempest of the day before, were like two
wrestlers sweating from a recent struggle. Up to a certain height they
were completely bearded with seaweed; above this their steep haunches
glittered at points like polished armour. They seemed ready to begin the
strife again. The imagination might have pictured them as two monstrous
arms, reaching upwards from the gulf, and exhibiting to the tempest the
lifeless body of the ship. If Gilliatt had known how she came to be
there, he might have been more awed by the tremendous spectacle. The
cause was an accident, and yet a purposed act.
Clubin, the captain, as smug a hypocrite as ever scuttled a ship, had
intended to run the Durande on the Hanways. His belt contained three
thousand pounds. He meant to lose the ship on the Hanways, a mile from
shore, and when the passengers had rowed away, pretending that he would
go down with the ship, Clubin purposed to swim to land, get on board a
pirate ship, and be off to the East. His little drama had been acted
out; the boats had rowed away, everybody praising Captain Clubin, who
would not abandon his ship. But when the fog cleared--horror of
horrors!--Clubin found himself not on the Hanways, but on the Douvres;
not one mile from shore, but five miles!
Clubin saw a ship in the distance. He determined to swim to a rock from
which he could be seen, and make signals of distress. He undressed,
leaving his clothing on deck. He retained nothing but his leather belt,
and then, precipitating himself head first, plunged into the sea. As he
dived from a height, he plunged heavily. He sank deep in the water,
touched the bottom, skirted for a moment the submarine rocks, then
struck out to regain the surface. At that moment he felt himself seized
by one foot.
But of all this Gilliatt, arriving at the Douvres, knew nothing. He was
absorbed by the spectacle of the ship held in mid-air. And what did he
find? The machinery was saved, but it was lost. The ocean saved it, only
to demolish it at leisure--like a cat playing with her prey. Its fate
was to suffer there, and to be dismembered day by day. It was to be the
plaything of the savage amusements of the sea. For what could be done?
That this vast block of mechanism and gear, at once massive and
delicate, condemned to fixity by its weight, delivered up in that
solitude to the destructive elements, could, under the frown of that
implacable spot, escape from slow destruction seemed a madness even to
Gilliatt looked about him.
When he had made a lodging for himself, and had suffered the misfortune
of losing the basket containing his provisions, Gilliatt considered his
In order to raise the engine of the Durande from the wreck in which it
was three-fourths buried, with any chance of success--in order to
accomplish a salvage in such a place and such a season, it seemed almost
necessary to be a legion of men. Gilliatt was alone. A complete
apparatus of carpenter's and engineer's tools and implements were
wanted. Gilliatt had a saw, a hatchet, a chisel, and a hammer. He wanted
both a good workshop and a good shed; Gilliatt had not a roof to cover
him. Provisions, too, were necessary on that bare rock, but he had not
Anyone who could have seen Gilliatt working on the rock during all that
first week might have been puzzled to determine the nature of his
operations. He seemed to be no longer thinking of the Durande or the two
Douvres. He was busy only among the breakers. He seemed absorbed in
saving the smaller parts of the shipwreck. He took advantage of every
high tide to strip the reefs of everything that the ship-wreck had
distributed among them. He went from rock to rock, picking up whatever
the sea had scattered--tatters of sail-cloth, pieces of iron, splinters
of panels, shattered planking, broken yards; here a beam, there a chain,
there a pulley.
He lived upon limpets, hermit-crabs, and rain-water. He was surrounded
by a screaming garrison of gulls, cormorants, and sea-mews. The deep
boom of the waves among the caves and reefs was never out of his ears.
By day he was roasted in the terrific heat which beat with pitiless
force on this exposed pinnacle; at night he was chilled to the marrow by
the cold of the open sea. And for ever he was hungry, thirsty--famished.
One day, in exploring for salvage some of the grottoes of his rock,
Gilliatt came upon a cave within a cave, so beautiful with sea-flowers
that it seemed the retreat of a sea-goddess. The shells were like
jewels; the water held eternal moonlight. Some of the flowers were like
sapphires. Standing in this dripping grotto, with his feet on the edge
of a probably bottomless pool, Gilliatt suddenly became aware in the
transparence of that water of the approach of some mystic form. A
species of long, ragged band was moving amid the oscillation of the
waves. It did not float, but darted about at its own will. It had an
object; was advancing somewhere rapidly. The thing had something of the
form of a jester's bauble with points, which hung flabby and undulating.
It seemed covered with a dust incapable of being washed away by the
water. It was more than horrible; it was foul. It seemed to be seeking
the darker portion of the cavern, where at last it vanished.
Gilliatt returned to his work. He had a notion. Since the time of the
carpenter-mason of Salbris, who, in the sixteenth century, without other
helper than a child, his son, with ill-fashioned tools, in the chamber
of the great clock at La Charite-sur-Loire, resolved at one stroke five
or six problems in statics and dynamics inextricably intervolved--since
the time of that grand and marvellous achievement of the poor workman,
who found means, without breaking a single piece of wire, without
throwing one of the teeth of the wheels out of gear, to lower in one
piece, by a marvellous simplification, from the second story of the
clock tower to the first, that massive clock, large as a room, nothing
that could be compared with the project which Gilliatt was meditating
had ever been attempted.
After incredible exertions, the machinery was ready for lowering into
the sloop. Gilliatt had constructed tackle, a regulating gear, and made
all sure. The long labour was finished; the first act had been the
simplest of all. He could put to sea. To-morrow he would be in Guernsey.
But no. He had waited for the tide to lift the sloop as near to the
suspended engines as possible, and now the funnel, which he had lowered
with the paddle-boxes, prevented the sloop from getting out of the
little gorge. It was necessary to wait for the tide to fall. Gilliatt
drew his sheepskin about him, pulled his cap over his eyes, and lying
down beside the engine, was soon asleep.
When he woke, it was to feel the coming of a storm. A fresh task was
forced upon this famished man. It was necessary to build a breakwater in
the gorge. He flew to this task. Nails driven into the cracks of the
rocks, beams lashed together with cordage, cat-heads from the Durande,
binding strakes, pulley-sheaves, chains--with these materials the
haggard dweller of the rock built his barrier against the wrath of God.
Then the storm came.
When the awful rage of the storm had passed, and the barrier which he
had repaired in the midst of the tempest hung like a broken arm across
the gorge, Gilliatt, maddened by hunger, took advantage of the receding
tide to go in search of crayfish. Half naked, and with his open knife
between his teeth, he sprang from rock to rock. In hunting a crab he
found himself once more in the mysterious grotto that glittered with
jewel-like flowers. He noticed a fissure above the level of the water.
The crab was probably there. He thrust in his hand as far as he was
able, and groped about in that dusky aperture.
Suddenly he felt himself seized by the arm. A strange, indescribable
horror thrilled through him.
Some living thing--thin, rough, flat, cold, slimy--had twisted itself
round his naked arm. It crept upward towards his chest. Its pressure was
like a tightening cord, its steady persistence like that of a screw. In
less than a moment some mysterious spiral form had passed round his
wrist and elbow, and had reached his shoulder. A sharp point penetrated
beneath the arm-pit.
Gilliatt recoiled; but he had scarcely power to move. He was, as it
were, nailed to the place. With his left hand, which was disengaged, he
seized his knife, and made a desperate effort to withdraw his arm. He
only succeeded in disturbing his persecutor, which wound itself still
tighter. It was supple as leather, strong as steel, cold as night.
A second form--sharp, elongated, and narrow--issued out of the crevice,
like a tongue out of monstrous jaws. It seemed to lick his naked body;
then, suddenly stretching out, it became longer and thinner, as it crept
over his skin, and wound itself round him. A terrible sense of anguish,
comparable to nothing he had ever known, compelled all his muscles to
contract. He felt upon his skin a number of flat, rounded points. It
seemed as if innumerable suckers had fastened to his flesh, and were
about to drink his blood.
A third long, undulating shape issued from the hole in the rock, felt
about his body, lashed round his ribs like a cord, and fixed itself
there. There was sufficient light for Gilliatt to see the repulsive
forms which had entangled themselves about him. A fourth ligature, but
this one swift as an arrow, darted towards his stomach.
These living things crept and glided about him; he felt the points of
pressure, like sucking mouths, change their places from time to time.
Suddenly a large, round, flattened, glutinous mass shot from beneath the
crevice. It was the centre! The thongs were attached to it like spokes
to the nave of a wheel. In the middle of this slimy mass appeared two
eyes. The eyes were fixed on Gilliatt.
He recognised the devil-fish.
Gilliatt had but one resource--his knife.
He knew that these frightful monsters are vulnerable in only one
point--the head. Standing half naked in the water, his body lashed by
the foul antennae of the devil-fish, Gilliatt looked at the devil-fish
and the devilfish looked at Gilliatt.
With the devil-fish, as with a furious bull, there is a certain moment
in the conflict which must be seized. It is the instant when the bull
lowers its neck; it is the instant when the devil-fish advances its
head. The movement is rapid. He who loses that moment is destroyed.
Suddenly it loosened another antenna from the rock, and darting it at
him, seized him by the left arm. At the same moment it advanced its
Rapid as was this movement, Gilliatt, by a gigantic effort, plunged the
blade of his knife into the flat, slimy substance, and with a movement
like the flourish of a whip, described a circle round the eyes and
wrenched off the head as a man would draw a tooth.
The four hundred suckers dropped at once from the man and the rock. The
mass sank to the bottom of the water.
Nearly exhausted, Gilliatt plunged into the water to heal by friction
the numberless purple swellings which were pricking all over his body.
He advanced up the recess. Something caught his eye. He approached
nearer. The thing was a bleached skeleton; nothing was left but the
white bones. Yes, something else. A leather belt and a tobacco-tin. On
the belt Gilliatt read the name of Clubin; in the tobacco-tin, which he
opened with his knife, he found three thousand pounds.
When Gilliatt reached his sloop, with this belt and box in his
possession, he found, to his unspeakable horror, that she had been
making water fast. Had he come an hour later he would have found nothing
above water but the funnel of the steamer.
He slung a tarpaulin by chains overboard and hung it over the hole.
Pressure of the sea held it tight. The wound was stanched. Gilliatt
began to bale for dear life. As he emptied the hole the tarpaulin bulged
in, as if a fist were pushing it from outside. He ran for his clothes;
brought them, and stuffed them into the wound.
He was saved--for a few moments.
Death was certain. He had succeeded in the impossible, to fail in what a
shipwright might have mended in a few minutes.
Upon that solitary rock he had been subjected by turns to all the varied
and cruel tortures of nature. He had conquered his isolation, conquered
hunger, conquered thirst, conquered cold, conquered fever, conquered
labour, conquered sleep. A dismal irony was then the end of all.
Gilliatt climbed to the top of the rock and gazed wildly into space. He
had no clothing. He stood naked in the midst of that immensity.
Then, overwhelmed by the sense of that unknown infinity, like one
bewildered by a strange persecution, confronting the shadows of night,
in the midst of the murmur of the waves, the swell, the foam, the
breeze, under that vast diffusion of force, having around him and
beneath him the ocean, above him the constellations, under him the great
unfathomable deep, he sank, gave up the struggle, laid down upon the
rock, humbled, and uplifting his joined hands towards the terrible
depths, he cried aloud, "Have mercy!"
When he issued from his swoon, the sun was high in a cloudless sky. The
blessed heat had saved the poor, broken, naked man upon the rock. He
rose up refreshed, and filled with divine energy. A day's work sufficed
to mend the gap in the sloop's side. On the following day, dressed in
the tattered garments which had stuffed the rent, with a favourable
breeze and a good sea, Gilliatt pushed off from the Douvres.
_IV.--Fate's Last Blow_
Gilliatt arrived in harbour at night. He went ashore in his rags, and
hovered for a while about the darkness of Lethierry's house. Then he
made his way into the garden, like an animal returning to its hole. He
sat himself down and looked about him. He saw the garden, the pathways,
the beds of flowers, the house, the two windows of Derouchette's
chamber. He felt it horrible to be obliged to breathe; he did what he
could to prevent it.
To see those windows was almost too much happiness for Gilliatt.
Suddenly he saw her.
Derouchette approached. She stopped. She walked back a few paces,
stopped again; then returned and sat upon a wooden bench. The moon was
in the trees; a few clouds floated among the pale stars; the sea
murmured to the shadows in an undertone.
Gilliatt felt a thrill through him. He was the most miserable and yet
the happiest of men. He knew not what to do. His delirious joy at seeing
her annihilated him. He gazed upon her neck--her hair.
A noise aroused them both--her from her reverie, him from his ecstasy.
Someone was walking in the garden. It was the footsteps of a man.
Derouchette raised her eyes. The footsteps drew nearer, then ceased.
Accident had so placed the branches that Derouchette could see the
newcomer while Gilliatt could not. He looked at Derouchette.
She was quite pale; her mouth was partly open, as with a suppressed cry
of surprise. Her surprise was enchantment mingled with timidity. She
seemed as if transfigured by that presence; as if the being whom she saw
before her belonged not to this earth.
The stranger, who was to Gilliatt only a shadow, spoke. A voice issued
from the trees, softer than the voice of a woman; yet it was the voice
of a man. Gilliatt heard many words, then, "Mademoiselle, you are poor;
since this morning I am rich. Will you have me for your husband? I love
you. God made not the heart of man to be silent. He has promised him
eternity with the intention that he should not be alone. There is for me
but one woman on the earth; it is you. I think of you as of a prayer. My
faith is in God, and my hope in you."
Gilliatt heard them talking--the woman he loved, the man whose shadow
lay upon the path. Presently he heard the invisible man exclaim:
"Mademoiselle! You are silent."
"What would you have me say?"
The man said, "I wait for your reply."
"God has heard it," answered Derouchette.
Then she went forward; a moment afterwards, instead of one shadow upon
the path, there were two. They mingled together, and became one.
Gilliatt saw at his feet the embrace of those two shadows.
Suddenly a noise burst forth at a distance. A voice was heard crying
"Help!" and the harbour bell rang out on the night air.
It was Lethierry ringing the bell furiously. He had wakened, and seen
the funnel of the Durande in the harbour. The sight had driven him
almost crazy. He rushed out crying "Help!" and pulling the great bell of
the harbour. Suddenly he stopped abruptly. A man had just turned the
corner of the quay. It was Gilliatt. Lethierry rushed at him, embraced
him, hugged him, cried over him, and dragged him into the lower room of
the Bravees. "Give me your word that I am not crazy!" he kept crying.
"It can't be true. Not a tap, not a pin missing. It is incredible. We
have only to put in a little oil. What a revolution! You are my child,
my son, my Providence. Brave lad! To go and fetch my good old engine. In
the open sea among those cut-throat rocks. I have seen some strange
things in my life; nothing like that."
Gilliatt gave him the belt and the box containing the three thousand
pounds stolen by Clubin. Again Lethierry was thrown into a wild
amazement. "Did anyone ever see a man like Gilliatt?" he concluded. "I
was struck down to the ground, I was a dead man. He comes and sets me up
again as firm as ever. And all the while I was never thinking of him. He
had gone clean out of my mind; but I recollect everything now. Poor lad!
Ah, by the way, you know you are to marry Derouchette."
Gilliatt leaned with his back against the wall, like one who staggers,
and said, in a tone very low, but distinct, "No."
Lethierry started. "How, no?"
"I do not love her."
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