THE MAN AROUSED
As the Cathedral clock struck two in the morning, Jean Valjean awoke.
What woke him was that his bed was too good. It was nearly twenty
years since he had slept in a bed, and, although he had not undressed,
the sensation was too novel not to disturb his slumbers.
He had slept more than four hours. His fatigue had passed away.
He was accustomed not to devote many hours to repose.
He opened his eyes and stared into the gloom which surrounded him;
then he closed them again, with the intention of going to sleep
When many varied sensations have agitated the day, when various matters
preoccupy the mind, one falls asleep once, but not a second time.
Sleep comes more easily than it returns. This is what happened
to Jean Valjean. He could not get to sleep again, and he fell
He was at one of those moments when the thoughts which one has in one's
mind are troubled. There was a sort of dark confusion in his brain.
His memories of the olden time and of the immediate present floated
there pell-mell and mingled confusedly, losing their proper forms,
becoming disproportionately large, then suddenly disappearing,
as in a muddy and perturbed pool. Many thoughts occurred to him;
but there was one which kept constantly presenting itself afresh,
and which drove away all others. We will mention this thought at once:
he had observed the six sets of silver forks and spoons and the ladle
which Madame Magloire had placed on the table.
Those six sets of silver haunted him.--They were there.--A few
paces distant.--Just as he was traversing the adjoining room to reach
the one in which he then was, the old servant-woman had been in the
act of placing them in a little cupboard near the head of the bed.--
He had taken careful note of this cupboard.--On the right, as you
entered from the dining-room.--They were solid.--And old silver.--
From the ladle one could get at least two hundred francs.--
Double what he had earned in nineteen years.--It is true that he
would have earned more if "the administration had not robbed him."
His mind wavered for a whole hour in fluctuations with which there
was certainly mingled some struggle. Three o'clock struck. He opened
his eyes again, drew himself up abruptly into a sitting posture,
stretched out his arm and felt of his knapsack, which he had thrown
down on a corner of the alcove; then he hung his legs over the edge
of the bed, and placed his feet on the floor, and thus found himself,
almost without knowing it, seated on his bed.
He remained for a time thoughtfully in this attitude, which would
have been suggestive of something sinister for any one who had seen
him thus in the dark, the only person awake in that house where all
were sleeping. All of a sudden he stooped down, removed his shoes
and placed them softly on the mat beside the bed; then he resumed
his thoughtful attitude, and became motionless once more.
Throughout this hideous meditation, the thoughts which we have above
indicated moved incessantly through his brain; entered, withdrew,
re-entered, and in a manner oppressed him; and then he thought, also,
without knowing why, and with the mechanical persistence of revery,
of a convict named Brevet, whom he had known in the galleys, and whose
trousers had been upheld by a single suspender of knitted cotton.
The checkered pattern of that suspender recurred incessantly to his mind.
He remained in this situation, and would have so remained indefinitely,
even until daybreak, had not the clock struck one--the half
or quarter hour. It seemed to him that that stroke said to him,
He rose to his feet, hesitated still another moment, and listened;
all was quiet in the house; then he walked straight ahead,
with short steps, to the window, of which he caught a glimpse.
The night was not very dark; there was a full moon, across which
coursed large clouds driven by the wind. This created, outdoors,
alternate shadow and gleams of light, eclipses, then bright openings
of the clouds; and indoors a sort of twilight. This twilight,
sufficient to enable a person to see his way, intermittent on
account of the clouds, resembled the sort of livid light which falls
through an air-hole in a cellar, before which the passersby come
and go. On arriving at the window, Jean Valjean examined it.
It had no grating; it opened in the garden and was fastened,
according to the fashion of the country, only by a small pin.
He opened it; but as a rush of cold and piercing air penetrated
the room abruptly, he closed it again immediately. He scrutinized
the garden with that attentive gaze which studies rather than looks.
The garden was enclosed by a tolerably low white wall, easy to climb.
Far away, at the extremity, he perceived tops of trees, spaced at
regular intervals, which indicated that the wall separated the garden
from an avenue or lane planted with trees.
Having taken this survey, he executed a movement like that of a man
who has made up his mind, strode to his alcove, grasped his knapsack,
opened it, fumbled in it, pulled out of it something which he placed
on the bed, put his shoes into one of his pockets, shut the whole
thing up again, threw the knapsack on his shoulders, put on his cap,
drew the visor down over his eyes, felt for his cudgel, went and
placed it in the angle of the window; then returned to the bed,
and resolutely seized the object which he had deposited there.
It resembled a short bar of iron, pointed like a pike at one end.
It would have been difficult to distinguish in that darkness
for what employment that bit of iron could have been designed.
Perhaps it was a lever; possibly it was a club.
In the daytime it would have been possible to recognize it as nothing
more than a miner's candlestick. Convicts were, at that period,
sometimes employed in quarrying stone from the lofty hills which
environ Toulon, and it was not rare for them to have miners' tools at
their command. These miners' candlesticks are of massive iron,
terminated at the lower extremity by a point, by means of which
they are stuck into the rock.
He took the candlestick in his right hand; holding his breath
and trying to deaden the sound of his tread, he directed his
steps to the door of the adjoining room, occupied by the Bishop,
as we already know.
On arriving at this door, he found it ajar. The Bishop had not