Fragments on Cosette (en)

[…he asked Cosette, “Aren’t you going to put on your dress and your hat, you know the ones?”
This happened in Cosette’s room. Cosette turned towards the wardrobe where her schoolgirl clothes were hanging.
“That disguise!” she said. “Father, what do you want me to do with that? Oh, the idea! No, I’ll never put on those horrors again. With that contraption on my head, I look like Madame Mad-Dog.”]

“Well,” said Jean Tréjean, “give them to me.”
“Oh, gladly, Father,” cried Cosette, “but what will you do with them?”
“That’s my business.”
“I understand, Father. They’re for the poor.”
“Yes,” he replied, “they’re for the poor.”
Jean Tréjean retired early that night. He took “those horrors” into his room, and when he was alone, he took the poor merino dress and the poor plush hat, those horrors, spread them out on his pallet with a painful smile, and kissed them, then his white head fell on these cast-offs, and if there had been somebody in the room at that moment, he would have heard the good old man sobbing. His heart was bursting: he could not have said what it was… He felt as one would feel in front of the clothing of his dead child.
He locked this dress and hat in an armoire which he never opened, and when he had put away the key to this armoire, it seemed to him that it was a tomb he had just closed, and that he had put his happiness inside it.

Victor Hugo had at first thought about making known to Cosette’s father, whom he had called Lebotelier before calling him Tholomyès, his child’s marriage. This was found in the Les Misérables dossier:

We believe it necessary to inform M. Gustave Lebotelier, solicitor in Evreux, that his daughter, the child of Fantine, is now called Mme la baronne Telbon, possesses an income of twenty-five thousand francs, and lives in the rue du Hanovre, no. 17, on the first floor. An honorable citizen may admit to and fulfil the duties of paternity towards a person thus placed.

Leave a Comment

CAPTCHA * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.