MEN MUST HAVE WINE, AND HORSES MUST HAVE WATER
Four new travellers had arrived.
Cosette was meditating sadly; for, although she was only eight years old,
she had already suffered so much that she reflected with the lugubrious
air of an old woman. Her eye was black in consequence of a blow
from Madame Thenardier's fist, which caused the latter to remark
from time to time, "How ugly she is with her fist-blow on her eye!"
Cosette was thinking that it was dark, very dark, that the pitchers
and caraffes in the chambers of the travellers who had arrived must
have been filled and that there was no more water in the cistern.
She was somewhat reassured because no one in the Thenardier establishment
drank much water. Thirsty people were never lacking there;
but their thirst was of the sort which applies to the jug rather
than to the pitcher. Any one who had asked for a glass of water
among all those glasses of wine would have appeared a savage to
all these men. But there came a moment when the child trembled;
Madame Thenardier raised the cover of a stew-pan which was boiling
on the stove, then seized a glass and briskly approached the cistern.
She turned the faucet; the child had raised her head and was following
all the woman's movements. A thin stream of water trickled from
the faucet, and half filled the glass. "Well," said she, "there is
no more water!" A momentary silence ensued. The child did not breathe.
"Bah!" resumed Madame Thenardier, examining the half-filled glass,
"this will be enough."
Cosette applied herself to her work once more, but for a quarter
of an hour she felt her heart leaping in her bosom like a big
She counted the minutes that passed in this manner, and wished it
were the next morning.
From time to time one of the drinkers looked into the street,
and exclaimed, "It's as black as an oven!" or, "One must needs
be a cat to go about the streets without a lantern at this hour!"
And Cosette trembled.
All at once one of the pedlers who lodged in the hostelry entered,
and said in a harsh voice:--
"My horse has not been watered."
"Yes, it has," said Madame Thenardier.
"I tell you that it has not," retorted the pedler.
Cosette had emerged from under the table.
"Oh, yes, sir!" said she, "the horse has had a drink; he drank
out of a bucket, a whole bucketful, and it was I who took the water
to him, and I spoke to him."
It was not true; Cosette lied.
"There's a brat as big as my fist who tells lies as big as the house,"
exclaimed the pedler. "I tell you that he has not been watered,
you little jade! He has a way of blowing when he has had no water,
which I know well."
Cosette persisted, and added in a voice rendered hoarse with anguish,
and which was hardly audible:--
"And he drank heartily."
"Come," said the pedler, in a rage, "this won't do at all,
let my horse be watered, and let that be the end of it!"
Cosette crept under the table again.
"In truth, that is fair!" said Madame Thenardier, "if the beast
has not been watered, it must be."
Then glancing about her:--
"Well, now! Where's that other beast?"
She bent down and discovered Cosette cowering at the other end
of the table, almost under the drinkers' feet.
"Are you coming?" shrieked Madame Thenardier.
Cosette crawled out of the sort of hole in which she had hidden herself.
The Thenardier resumed:--
"Mademoiselle Dog-lack-name, go and water that horse."
"But, Madame," said Cosette, feebly, "there is no water."
The Thenardier threw the street door wide open:--
"Well, go and get some, then!"
Cosette dropped her head, and went for an empty bucket which stood
near the chimney-corner.
This bucket was bigger than she was, and the child could have set
down in it at her ease.
The Thenardier returned to her stove, and tasted what was
in the stewpan, with a wooden spoon, grumbling the while:--
"There's plenty in the spring. There never was such a malicious
creature as that. I think I should have done better to strain
Then she rummaged in a drawer which contained sous, pepper, and shallots.
"See here, Mam'selle Toad," she added, "on your way back, you will
get a big loaf from the baker. Here's a fifteen-sou piece."
Cosette had a little pocket on one side of her apron; she took
the coin without saying a word, and put it in that pocket.
Then she stood motionless, bucket in hand, the open door before her.
She seemed to be waiting for some one to come to her rescue.
"Get along with you!" screamed the Thenardier.
Cosette went out. The door closed behind her.