Les Miserables HTML version
DETAILS CONCERNING THE CHEESE-DAIRIES OF PONTARLIER.
Now, in order to convey an idea of what passed at that table, we cannot do better than
to transcribe here a passage from one of Mademoiselle Baptistine's letters to Madame
Boischevron, wherein the conversation between the convict and the Bishop is described
with ingenious minuteness.
". . . This man paid no attention to any one. He ate with the voracity of a starving man.
However, after supper he said:
"`Monsieur le Cure of the good God, all this is far too good for me; but I must say that
the carters who would not allow me to eat with them keep a better table than you do.'
"Between ourselves, the remark rather shocked me. My brother replied:--
"`They are more fatigued than I.'
"`No,' returned the man, `they have more money. You are poor; I see that plainly. You
cannot be even a curate. Are you really a cure? Ah, if the good God were but just, you
certainly ought to be a cure!'
"`The good God is more than just,' said my brother.
"A moment later he added:--
"`Monsieur Jean Valjean, is it to Pontarlier that you are going?'
"`With my road marked out for me.'
"I think that is what the man said. Then he went on:--
"`I must be on my way by daybreak to-morrow. Travelling is hard. If the nights are cold,
the days are hot.'
"`You are going to a good country,' said my brother. `During the Revolution my family
was ruined. I took refuge in Franche-Comte at first, and there I lived for some time by
the toil of my hands. My will was good. I found plenty to occupy me. One has only to
choose. There are paper mills, tanneries, distilleries, oil factories, watch factories on a
large scale, steel mills, copper works, twenty iron foundries at least, four of which,
situated at Lods, at Chatillon, at Audincourt, and at Beure, are tolerably large.'