Les Miserables HTML version

Chapter 9
In order to furnish an idea of the private establishment of the Bishop of D----, and of the
manner in which those two sainted women subordinated their actions, their thoughts,
their feminine instincts even, which are easily alarmed, to the habits and purposes of
the Bishop, without his even taking the trouble of speaking in order to explain them, we
cannot do better than transcribe in this place a letter from Mademoiselle Baptistine to
Madame the Vicomtess de Boischevron, the friend of her childhood. This letter is in our
D----, Dec. 16, 18--.
MY GOOD MADAM: Not a day passes without our speaking of you. It is our established
custom; but there is another reason besides. Just imagine, while washing and dusting
the ceilings and walls, Madam Magloire has made some discoveries; now our two
chambers hung with antique paper whitewashed over, would not discredit a chateau in
the style of yours. Madam Magloire has pulled off all the paper. There were things
beneath. My drawing-room, which contains no furniture, and which we use for spreading
out the linen after washing, is fifteen feet in height, eighteen square, with a ceiling which
was formerly painted and gilded, and with beams, as in yours. This was covered with a
cloth while this was the hospital. And the woodwork was of the era of our grandmothers.
But my room is the one you ought to see. Madam Magloire has discovered, under at
least ten thicknesses of paper pasted on top, some paintings, which without being good
are very tolerable. The subject is Telemachus being knighted by Minerva in some
gardens, the name of which escapes me. In short, where the Roman ladies repaired on
one single night. What shall I say to you? I have Romans, and Roman ladies [here
occurs an illegible word], and the whole train. Madam Magloire has cleaned it all off; this
summer she is going to have some small injuries repaired, and the whole revarnished,
and my chamber will be a regular museum. She has also found in a corner of the attic
two wooden pier-tables of ancient fashion. They asked us two crowns of six francs each
to regild them, but it is much better to give the money to the poor; and they are very ugly
besides, and I should much prefer a round table of mahogany.
I am always very happy. My brother is so good. He gives all he has to the poor and sick.
We are very much cramped. The country is trying in the winter, and we really must do
something for those who are in need. We are almost comfortably lighted and warmed.
You see that these are great treats.
My brother has ways of his own. When he talks, he says that a bishop ought to be so.
Just imagine! the door of our house is never fastened. Whoever chooses to enter finds
himself at once in my brother's room. He fears nothing, even at night. That is his sort of
bravery, he says.