Another character trait of M. Gillenormand, according to a note found in Victor Hugo’s papers:
“He had a very learned cousin, an entomologist, the Abbé Gillenormand, whom the emperor Alexander had wanted to see, and at whose home His Imperial Majesty had arrived too late–they were burying the Abbé, who had died of a fever he caught two days before the day when His Majesty had judged it best to come. He was furious with this cousin because of that. He had never forgiven him for having died before receiving the visit of the emperor of Russia.”
Another of Hugo’s notes:
“There was a series of Nicolettes. They would say in the house:
The new Nicolette.
The former Nicolette.
The Nicolette of the Directory.
The Nicolette from the time of Buonaparte.”
His daughter was a child whom we will speak of shortly, the only person in his family who had survived; she was an old virtue, an incombustible prude, one of the most pointed noses and one of the most obtuse spirits one could ever see. …A certain bigoted devotion. Bigotry is nothing else but the castration of the intelligence. The virtues that result from it resemble the chastity of a eunuch, and have just as much merit.
In an abandoned version, Victor Hugo, instead of revealing to Gillenormand the contents of Marius’ little box, revealed to Marius the contents of the pockets of one of Gillenormand’s frock coats.
One day he [Marius] saw in the house a servant looking for M. Gillenormand.
“What do you want with him?” asked Thomas. [Marius had at first been named Thomas.]
“Monsieur has given me one of his old coats,” answered the servant. “He did not remember that there were some papers in the pockets, and I’m looking for him to give them back to him.”
“Give them to me,” said Thomas, “I’ll return them.” The servant gave him the papers; Thomas threw them negligently into a drawer. At the moment when he was about to close the drawer, his gaze fell on these old papers and he recognized his father’s handwriting.
They were his father’s letters, the same ones that he had seen so many times M. Gillenormand put in his pocket without reading them. Curiosity overtook him, and another instinct perhaps drove him.
“Let’s see what they are,” he said, and he unfolded one and read it.