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RETURN OF THE SON WHO WAS PRODIGAL OF HIS LIFE
At every jolt over the pavement, a drop of blood trickled from Marius' hair.
Night had fully closed in when the carriage arrived at No. 6, Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire.
Javert was the first to alight; he made sure with one glance of the number on the carriage gate, and, raising the heavy knocker of beaten iron, embellished in the old style, with a male goat and a satyr confronting each other, he gave a violent peal. The gate opened a little way and Javert gave it a push. The porter half made his appearance yawning, vaguely awake, and with a candle in his hand.
Everyone in the house was asleep. People go to bed betimes in the Marais, especially on days when there is a revolt. This good, old quarter, terrified at the Revolution, takes refuge in slumber, as children, when they hear the Bugaboo coming, hide their heads hastily under their coverlet.
In the meantime Jean Valjean and the coachman had taken Marius out of the carriage, Jean Valjean supporting him under the armpits, and the coachman under the knees.
As they thus bore Marius, Jean Valjean slipped his hand under the latter's clothes, which were broadly rent, felt his breast, and assured himself that his heart was still beating. It was even beating a little less feebly, as though the movement of the carriage had brought about a certain fresh access of life.
Javert addressed the porter in a tone befitting the government, and the presence of the porter of a factious person.
"Some person whose name is Gillenormand?"
"Here. What do you want with him?"
"His son is brought back."
"His son?" said the porter stupidly.
"He is dead."
Jean Valjean, who, soiled and tattered, stood behind Javert, and whom the porter was surveying with some horror, made a sign to him with his head that this was not so.
The porter did not appear to understand either Javert's words or Jean Valjean's sign.
"He went to the barricade, and here he is."
"To the barricade?" ejaculated the porter.
"He has got himself killed. Go waken his father."
The porter did not stir.
"Go along with you!" repeated Javert.
And he added:
"There will be a funeral here to-morrow."
For Javert, the usual incidents of the public highway were categorically classed, which is the beginning of foresight and surveillance, and each contingency had its own compartment; all possible facts were arranged in drawers, as it were, whence they emerged on occasion, in variable quantities; in the street, uproar, revolt, carnival, and funeral.
The porter contented himself with waking Basque. Basque woke Nicolette; Nicolette roused great-aunt Gillenormand.
As for the grandfather, they let him sleep on, thinking that he would hear about the matter early enough in any case.
Marius was carried up to the first floor, without any one in the other parts of the house being aware of the fact, and deposited on an old sofa in M. Gillenormand's antechamber; and while Basque went in search of a physician, and while Nicolette opened the linen-presses, Jean Valjean felt Javert touch him on the shoulder. He understood and descended the stairs, having behind him the step of Javert who was following him.
The porter watched them take their departure as he had watched their arrival, in terrified somnolence.
They entered the carriage once more, and the coachman mounted his box.
"Inspector Javert," said Jean, "grant me yet another favor."
"What is it?" demanded Javert roughly.
"Let me go home for one instant. Then you shall do whatever you like with me."
Javert remained silent for a few moments, with his chin drawn back into the collar of his great-coat, then he lowered the glass and front:
"Driver," said he, "Rue de l'Homme Arme, No. 7."
Turn to the next chapter: CHAPTER XI