Section 2 - Cosette
Book Six - Petit-Picpus
This book describes all the particulars of the convent of the Bernadines of the Perpetual Adoration into which Jean Valjean and Cosette had fallen. The entrance was an otherwise cheerful door on the street that admitted to a small room with a bell rope. If the entrant were expected they would be allowed to pass into a sort of theater box made of iron bars from which they could converse with but not see the subject of their visit. It was a heavily shielded cloister and only a select few besides its residents had ever seen the interior. The strict rules of the order dictated clothing that completely concealed the figure, abstinence from meat and frequent fasting, rising at one o'clock in the morning for nightly prayers, coarse woolen sheets all year round, no baths or fires and a haircloth chemise for six months out of the year. At all times there was a sister on her knees before the holy sacrament. Each one performs what they called "the reparation" which involved a twelve-hour prayer on her knees upon the stone, hands clasped and a rope around her neck. Her only relief was to prostrate herself on the ground. They lived communally and are allowed no privacy. A boarding school for girls was attached to the convent and its pupils strictly shielded from the outside world until they left. The convent also had a vault for the deceased but the government forbade private burial and, much to the horror and consternation of the nuns, they were forced to give over their deceased to an official who buried them in a private cemetery off-premise.
The convent follows an extremely strict order and does not allow men on the premise, however, with the help of Faucheleven, Valjean and Cosette are able to find temporary sanctuary at the convent until a more permanent paln could be formulated.