Les Mis: The Remainder of Book Five

I'll be speeding through entries for the next few chapters, as I've already read them and am eager to move on to book six. 

II.V.VI The Beginning of a Mystery

JVJ and Cosette find themselves in a strange, large garden and take shelter in an outbuilding of some sort near the large building Valjean could see fro the alley. The outbuilding is in disrepair and all the windows on the larger building are grated. The whole place appears to be deserted. 

Javert is confident that JVJ must be somewhere in this alley, and Cosette and Valjean hold their breath while listening to "the patrol searching the blind alley and the street, their gun butts striking the stones, Javert calling to the lookouts he had posted, and his cursing mixed with words that were indistinguishable." 

This goes on for about 15 minutes. 

As that noise is beginning to fade away, the two fugitives have a strangely spiritual experience when they hear unearthly women's voices coming from somewhere, singing a beautiful hymn. The sound is as "celestial, divine, ineffable, ravishing" as the sound of Javert and his soldiers was horrible. 

II.V.VII The Mystery Continues

Cosette is shivering and terrified that Madame T. is coming to get her. 

A moment later she said, "Is she still there?"
"Who?" said Jean Valjean. 
"Madame Thénardier."
Jean Valjean had already forgotten how he had contrived to keep Cosette quiet. 
"Ah!" he said. "She's gone. Nothing to be frightened of any more." 
The child sighed as though a load had been lifted off her chest. 

Jesus Christ Valjean, way to terrorize your already traumatized adopted daughter and then FORGET THAT YOU DID THAT.

Anyhow, JVJ wraps his coat around Cosette to keep her warm and leaves her in the shed while he inspects the main building. He can't see much by peering through the widows, but he does see something that looks like a human figure with its arms outstretched, covered by a shroud and laying on the ground. He watches for a while and the figure doesn't stir and he's totally creeped out, so he returns to Cosette. She's asleep. 

II.V.VIII The Mystery Deepens

JVJ watches Cosette, who is sleeping with her head on a stone, and calms down a bit. That is, until he hears and sees someone limping around in the garden and starts worrying about being discovered. 

He moves Cosette behind a heap of junk in the outhouse and starts to settle down again, but then he notices that her hands are ice cold. 

He tries to wake her, but she won't wake up. 

It's critical that he get her "in bed in front of a fire within fifteen minutes." 

II.V.IX The Man with the Bell

Valjean's in full-blown panic mode now. Cosette is in danger and nothing else matters. 

He stops trying to hide from the limping man. Instead, he runs up to him and incomprehensibly shouts, "One hundred francs!"

With the moonlight falling on his face, he explains to the started man that he will pay him 100 francs to shelter him for the night. The man responds by calling Valjean by the pseudonym he used as mayor until Javert blew his cover: Père Madeleine

JVJ has no idea what the hell is happening and is totally confused. But this man has removed his hat and is practically weeping over the fact that his JVJ/Madeleine is in his garden without a coat or scarf or anything to stay warm. 

The gardener is a "stooped, lame old man, dressed almost like a peasant, who wore on his left knee a leather knee-pad with quite a large bell hanging from it." But his face is in shadow and JVJ can't place him, which he (the gardener) finds very insulting. 

Eventually, it's established that: 

1. The weird movements JVJ saw the gardener making were just him covering up his melons so they didn't get too cold overnight; 

2. The man is Fauchelevent -- not only a citizen of the town JVJ ruled as Père Madeleine, but the man whose life he save from a runaway cart using his crazy brute strength; 

3. Fauchelevent is gardening in the Petit-Picpus Convent -- a job that JVJ/Madeleine actually arranged for him after his mobility was impaired by the cart incident; 

4. Fauchelevent has a bell attached to his knee so the nuns/girls can avoid him, because he's the only man allowed in this convent; 

5. Again, they are in a convent, which explains that unearthly female singing. 

Fauchelevent is kinda stressed out that JVJ, a man, needs to stay in the convent, but he does owe JVJ his life, so he says JVJ and the random child he has with him can stay in his hut, no questions asked. 

Cosette is all warmed up and cozy by the end of the chapter, but Fauchelevent is still a bit salty about not being recognized. 

The two men were warming themselves, seated at a table where Fauchelevent had placed a piece of cheese, some brown bread, a bottle of wine and two glasses, and laying his hand on Jean Valjean's knee the old man was saying to him, "Ah! Père Madeleine! You didn't recognize me straight away. You save people's lives, and then you forget them! Oh, that's bad! They remember you! Heartless, that's what you are!" 

II.V.X How Javert Came to Find the Bird Had Flown

This chapter explains Javert's side of all this. He had come to believe JVJ was dead after reading a newspaper article stating such, but JVJ had actually faked his death as part of his escape from prison. Javert put the convict out of his mind for a while, but then he started hearing rumors that reminded him of Valjean. He kept thinking he was crazy -- Valjean was dead, after all! -- but after investigating these leads it became clear that, somehow, the man was alive and living on the outskirts of Paris. Javert hunts him down and gets his henchmen and everything and is just starting to have fun when JVJ escapes over the wall. 

Javert is certain that JVJ is in that blind alley, with Javert and his henchmen on one end and an officer stationed at the other end. He starts toying with Valjean like a cat playing with a mouse:

He experienced a moment of fiendish delight, letting this man go on ahead, knowing he had him in his grasp but wanting to delay to the utmost the moment of arrest, taking pleasure in being aware that the man was caught; and seeing him free, gloating over him with that relish the spider takes in the flitting of the fly and the cat takes in the scurrying of the mouse. Claws and talons enjoy a monstrous thrill: that is, the unseen movements of the creature imprisoned in their grasp. How delicious is this snuffing-out!
Javert was in ecstasy. His net was firmly staked. He was sure of success. All he had to do now was tighten his grip.
Public domain image painted by  John Henry Dolph

Public domain image painted by John Henry Dolph

But, as we know ....

When he reached the centre of his web he found the fly was gone.
You can imagine his fury. 

Javert keeps cool, though. He thoroughly questions the officer at the other end of the alley, and he finds the vandalized lamp, which causes him to focus his search on the wrong part of the alley. He lays traps all around the area, but to no avail. 

At daybreak he left two sharp-witted men to keep watch and returned to the Prefecture, ashamed, like a nark bested by a thief.