Les Misérables - Plot - Volume II – Cosette

Volume II – Cosette

Valjean escapes, only to be recaptured and sentenced to death. This was commuted by the king to penal servitude for life. While being sent to the prison at Toulon, a military port, Valjean saves a sailor about to fall from the ship's rigging. The crowd begins to call "This man must be pardoned!" but when the authorities reject the crowd's pleas, Valjean fakes a slip and falls into the ocean to escape, relying on the belief that he has drowned.

Valjean arrives at Montfermeil on Christmas Eve. He finds Cosette fetching water in the woods alone and walks with her to the inn. After ordering a meal, he observes the Thénardiers’ abusive treatment of her. He also witnesses their pampered daughters Éponine and Azelma treating Cosette badly as well when they tell on her to their mother for holding their abandoned doll. Upon seeing this, Valjean goes out and returns a moment later holding an expensive new doll. He offers it to Cosette. At first, she is unable to comprehend that the doll really is for her, but then happily takes it. This results in Mme. Thénardier becoming furious with Valjean, while Thénardier dismisses it, informing her that he can do as he wishes as long as he pays them. It also causes Éponine and Azelma to become envious of Cosette.

The next morning on Christmas Day, Valjean informs the Thénardiers that he wants to take Cosette with him. Thénardier immediately accepts, while Thénardier pretends to have love and concern for Cosette and how reluctant he is to give her up. Valjean pays 1,500 francs to them, and he and Cosette leave the inn. However, Thénardier, hoping to swindle more out of Valjean, runs after them, holding the 1,500 francs, and tells Valjean he wants Cosette back.

He informs Valjean that he cannot release Cosette without a note from the mother. Valjean hands Thénardier a letter, which is signed by Fantine. Thénardier then orders Valjean to pay a thousand crowns, but Valjean and Cosette leave. Thénardier regrets to himself that he did not bring his gun, and turns back toward home.

Valjean and Cosette flee to Paris. Valjean rents new lodgings at Gorbeau House, and he and Cosette live there happily. However, Javert discovers Valjean's lodgings there a few months later. Valjean takes Cosette and they try to escape from Javert. They soon successfully find shelter in the Petit-Picpus convent with the help of Fauchelevent, the man whom Valjean rescued and who is a gardener for the convent. Valjean also becomes a gardener and Cosette becomes a student.

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