FAUCHELEVENT BECOMES A GARDENER IN PARIS
Fauchelevent had dislocated his kneepan in his fall. Father Madeleine
had him conveyed to an infirmary which he had established for his
workmen in the factory building itself, and which was served by two
sisters of charity. On the following morning the old man found
a thousand-franc bank-note on his night-stand, with these words
in Father Madeleine's writing: "I purchase your horse and cart."
The cart was broken, and the horse was dead. Fauchelevent recovered,
but his knee remained stiff. M. Madeleine, on the recommendation
of the sisters of charity and of his priest, got the good man a place
as gardener in a female convent in the Rue Saint-Antoine in Paris.
Some time afterwards, M. Madeleine was appointed mayor. The first
time that Javert beheld M. Madeleine clothed in the scarf which gave
him authority over the town, he felt the sort of shudder which a
watch-dog might experience on smelling a wolf in his master's clothes.
From that time forth he avoided him as much as he possibly could.
When the requirements of the service imperatively demanded it,
and he could not do otherwise than meet the mayor, he addressed him
with profound respect.
This prosperity created at M. sur M. by Father Madeleine had,
besides the visible signs which we have mentioned, another symptom
which was none the less significant for not being visible.
This never deceives. When the population suffers, when work
is lacking, when there is no commerce, the tax-payer resists imposts
through penury, he exhausts and oversteps his respite, and the
state expends a great deal of money in the charges for compelling
and collection. When work is abundant, when the country is rich
and happy, the taxes are paid easily and cost the state nothing.
It may be said, that there is one infallible thermometer of the
public misery and riches,--the cost of collecting the taxes.
In the course of seven years the expense of collecting the taxes
had diminished three-fourths in the arrondissement of M. sur M.,
and this led to this arrondissement being frequently cited from all
the rest by M. de Villele, then Minister of Finance.
Such was the condition of the country when Fantine returned thither.
No one remembered her. Fortunately, the door of M. Madeleine's
factory was like the face of a friend. She presented herself there,
and was admitted to the women's workroom. The trade was entirely
new to Fantine; she could not be very skilful at it, and she
therefore earned but little by her day's work; but it was sufficient;
the problem was solved; she was earning her living.