Les Miserables

Author: Victor Hugo  | Date: 1862



ONE day M. Gillenormand, while his daughter was putting in order the vials and the cups upon the marble top of the bureau, bent over Marius and said to him in his most tender tone:

"Do you see, my darling Marius, in your place I would eat meat now rather than fish. A fried sole is excellent to begin a convalescence, but, to put the sick man on his legs, it takes a good cutlet."

Marius, nearly all whose strength had returned, gathered it together, sat up in bed, rested his clenched hands on the sheets, looked his grandfather in the face, assumed a terrible air, and said:

"This leads me to say something to you."

"What is it?"

"It is that I wish to marry."

"Foreseen," said the grandfather. And he burst out laughing.

"How foreseen?"

"Yes, foreseen. You shall have her, your lassie."

Marius, astounded, and overwhelmed by the dazzling burst of happiness, trembled in every limb.

M. Gillenormand continued:

"Yes, you shall have her, your handsome, pretty little girl. She comes every day in the shape of an old gentleman to inquire after you. Since you were wounded, she has passed her time in weeping and making lint. I have made inquiry. She lives in the Rue de l’Homme Arme, Number Seven. Ah, we are ready! Ah! you want her! you shall have her. That catches you. You had arranged your little plot; you said to yourself: I am going to make it known bluntly to that grandfather, to that mummy of the Regency and of the Directory, to that old beau, to that Dorante become a Geronte; he has had his levities too, himself, and his amours and his grisettes, and his Cosettes; he has made his display, he has had his wings, he has eaten his spring bread; he must remember it well. We shall see. Battle. Ah! you take the bug by the horns. That is good. I propose a cutlet, and you answer: ’A propos, I wish to marry.’ That is what I call a transition. Ah! you had reckoned upon some bickering. You didn’t know that I was an old coward. What do you say to that? You are spited. To find your grandfather still more stupid than yourself, you didn’t expect that, you lose the argument which you were to have made to me, monsieur advocate; it is provoking. Well, it is all the same, rage. I do what you wish, that cuts you out of it, idiot. Listen. I have made inquiries, I am sly too; she is charming, she is modest, the lancer is not true, she has made heaps of lint, she is a jewel, she worships you; if you had died, there would have been three of us; her bier would have accompanied mine. I had a strong notion, as soon as you were better, to plant her square at your bedside, but it is only in romances that they introduce young girls unceremoniously to the side of the side of the pretty wounded men who interest them. That does not do. What would your aunt have said? You have been quite naked three-quarters of the time, my goodman. Ask Nicolette, who has not left you a minute, if it was possible for a woman to be here. And then what would the doctor have said? That doesn’t cure a fever, a pretty girl. Finally, it is all right; don’t let us talk any more about it, it is said, it is done, it is fixed; take her. Such is my ferocity. Do you see, I saw that you did not love me; I said: What is there that I can do, then, to make this animal love me? I said: Hold on! I have my little Cosette under my hand; I will give her to him, he must surely love a little then, or let him tell why. Ah! you thought that the old fellow was going to storm, to make a gruff voice, to cry No, and to lift his cane upon all this dawn. Not at all. Cosette, so be it; love, so be it; I ask nothing better. Monsieur, take the trouble to marry. Be happy, my dear child."

This said, the old man burst into sobs.

And he took Marius’ head, and he hugged it in both arms against his old breast, and they both began to weep. That is one of the forms of supreme happiness.

"Father!" exclaimed Marius.

"Ah! you love me then!" said the old man.

There was an ineffable moment. They choked and could not speak.

At last the old man stammered:

"Come! the ice is broken. He has called me, ’Father.’"

Marius released his head from his grandfather’s arms, and said softly:

"But, father, now that I am well, it seems to me that I could see her."

"Foreseen again, you shall see her to-morrow."



"Why not to-day?"

"Well, to-day. Here goes for to-day. You have called me ’Father,’ three times, it is well worth that. I will see to it. She shall be brought to you. Foreseen, I tell you. This has already been put into verse. It is the conclusion of Andre Chenier’s elegy of the Jeune malade, Andre Chenier who was murdered by the scound-, by the giants. of ’93."

M. Gillenormand thought he perceived a slight frown on Marius’ brow, although, in truth, we should say, he was no longer listening to him, flown off as he had into ecstasy, and thinking far more of Cosette than of 1793. The grandfather, trembling at having introduced Andre Chenier so inopportunely, resumed precipitately:

"Murdered is not the word. The fact is that the great revolutionary geniuses, who were not evil disposed, that is incontestable, who were heroes, egad! found that Andre Chenier embarrassed them a little, and they had him guillot-. That is to say that those great men, on the seventh of Thermidor, in the interest of the public safety, begged Andre Chenier to have the kindness to go-."

M. Gillenormand, choked by his own sentence, could not continue; being able neither to finish it nor to retract it, while his daughter was arranging the pillow behind Marius, the old man, overwhelmed by so many emotions, threw himself, as quickly as his age permitted, out of the bedroom, pushed the door to behind him, and, purple, strangling, foaming, his eyes starting from his head, found himself face to face with honest Basque who was polishing boots in the ante-chamber. He seized Basque by the collar and cried full in his face with fury: "By the hundred thousand Javottes of the devil, those brigands assassinated him!"

"Who, monsieur?"

"Andre Chenier!"

"Yes, monsieur," said Basque in dismay.


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Chicago: Victor Hugo, "III," Les Miserables, trans. Charles E. Wilbour Original Sources, accessed July 23, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3U5BKB4YA8SZW23.

MLA: Hugo, Victor. "III." Les Miserables, translted by Charles E. Wilbour, Original Sources. 23 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3U5BKB4YA8SZW23.

Harvard: Hugo, V, 'III' in Les Miserables, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 23 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=3U5BKB4YA8SZW23.