Les Miserables (Part I) (1909)
- Summaries (1)
The present subject deals with the imprisonment of Jean Valjean and the incidents immediately following his release. He is first shown in his humble home, his family utterly destitute. Half-crazed by hunger and the sufferings of his wife and children, Jean breaks the window of a bake shop and steals a single loaf of bread, with which he hurries home to his little ones, who eagerly seize the crusty loaf as the gendarmes arrive to apprehend the thief. Condemned to serve in the galleys, his sentence is prolonged by his frequent efforts to escape, but at last the governor of the prison sends for him. He is given his passport, on which is entered the evil record of this law-made criminal, and with a few coins in his pocket he is given his liberty, clad in filthy rags, with matted hair and beard and without a friend in the world. The money avails him little, for the people will have naught to do with a jailbird and they turn him from their doors. He at last arrives at the home of the good bishop, who makes him welcome at his own table and offers him a bed for the night, greatly to the alarm of the women of his household. The clock striking three rouses the ex-convict, and. stealing into the bishop's room, he robs the good man of the household silver. He escapes from the house without detection, but any passing police officer has the right to inspect his passport, and Jean's appearance makes him an object of suspicion to all; no seeks to escape by flight, but is caught and confronted with the bishop in the latter's home. The officers are proud of their capture, but the man of God denies the theft, well knowing what Jean's fate will be if he is returned to the galleys: and to make more convincing his denial of theft, he hands to Valjean his silver candlesticks. "I gave these too," he declares, "You must have forgotten them." The abashed officers retire with the bishop's blessing, and his fervent prayers affect the stony heart of the convict, who kneels in prayer beside his benefactor.
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