Les Miserables HTML version

Chapter 6
The house in which he lived consisted, as we have said, of a ground floor, and one
story above; three rooms on the ground floor, three chambers on the first, and an attic
above. Behind the house was a garden, a quarter of an acre in extent. The two women
occupied the first floor; the Bishop was lodged below. The first room, opening on the
street, served him as dining-room, the second was his bedroom, and the third his
oratory. There was no exit possible from this oratory, except by passing through the
bedroom, nor from the bedroom, without passing through the dining-room. At the end of
the suite, in the oratory, there was a detached alcove with a bed, for use in cases of
hospitality. The Bishop offered this bed to country curates whom business or the
requirements of their parishes brought to D----
The pharmacy of the hospital, a small building which had been added to the house, and
abutted on the garden, had been transformed into a kitchen and cellar. In addition to
this, there was in the garden a stable, which had formerly been the kitchen of the
hospital, and in which the Bishop kept two cows. No matter what the quantity of milk
they gave, he invariably sent half of it every morning to the sick people in the hospital. "I
am paying my tithes," he said.
His bedroom was tolerably large, and rather difficult to warm in bad weather. As wood is
extremely dear at D----, he hit upon the idea of having a compartment of boards
constructed in the cow-shed. Here he passed his evenings during seasons of severe
cold: he called it his winter salon.
In this winter salon, as in the dining-room, there was no other furniture than a square
table in white wood, and four straw-seated chairs. In addition to this the dining-room
was ornamented with an antique sideboard, painted pink, in water colors. Out of a
similar sideboard, properly draped with white napery and imitation lace, the Bishop had
constructed the altar which decorated his oratory.
His wealthy penitents and the sainted women of D---- had more than once assessed
themselves to raise the money for a new altar for Monseigneur's oratory; on each
occasion he had taken the money and had given it to the poor. "The most beautiful of
altars," he said, "is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God."
In his oratory there were two straw prie-Dieu, and there was an arm-chair, also in straw,
in his bedroom. When, by chance, he received seven or eight persons at one time, the
prefect, or the general, or the staff of the regiment in garrison, or several pupils from the
little seminary, the chairs had to be fetched from the winter salon in the stable, the prie-
Dieu from the oratory, and the arm-chair from the bedroom: in this way as many as