Section 4 - Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet
Book Three - The House on the Rue Plumet
The house to which Eponine takes Marius was originally built in the 18th century as a secret home for the President of the Parliament of Paris' mistress. Situated on the Rue Plumet, the house was fronted by a concealing garden and an ironwork gate. The house was two stories with a small two-roomed outbuilding in the rear where a narrow winding passage was accessible through a masked door. The passage was flanked by high walls and artfully concealed by the landscape. Its terminus was a door nearly a third of a mile away. Jean Valjean had rented the house under the name Fauchelevent in 1829 when he had resolved to remove Cosette from the convent so that she could experience the outside world. He had hired two other residences as well but it was the house on the Rue Plumet that was their main home and it was there that they kept an old serving woman named Toussaint. Cosette and Toussaint lived in the house and kept it brightly furnished and Jean Valjean abided in the low out building which he kept austerely furnished. He had joined the National Guard during the large enrollments of 1831 and a few times a year he drilled with his company. He was happy for the extra veil of legitimacy that the Guard added to his concealment. The garden in the front of the house had grown unchecked for more than half a century and had become a place of mysterious beauty. When Cosette discovered that she had become very pretty she began wearing fine clothes and, much to Jean Valjean's despair, walking in the garden. For his part, Jean Valjean was horrified that Cosette had become beautiful, seemingly overnight, and he feared that he would lose her love. Her nice clothes made him anxious and he never walked in the garden but chose to remain in the concealed backyard.
It was shortly after Cosette had begun to wear fine clothes and consider herself beautiful that Marius saw her for the second time at the Luxembourg and fell in love with her and, unknowingly, produced the same emotion in Cosette. She was baffled by the emotion and found that it made her a little sad but she could not resist her feelings and sought to conceal them from her father. Jean Valjean noticed Marius' attentions, however, and soon came to cordially detest the young man whom he feared might steal Cosette's love from him. He did not suspect, however, that Cosette had even noticed the young man. Soon after he discovered that Marius had been inquiring at their temporary residence he relocated to the house on the Rue Plumet. He noticed that Cosette became more silent and gloomy but could not discern the cause. Several months later he offered to take her to the Luxembourg which briefly made her happy but as Marius had discontinued his visits Cosette elected not to return and she became sad and quiet again.
In the midst of these changes Jean Valjean received an unexpected shock. One morning while he and Cosette were watching the sunrise from a meadow on the outskirts of the city, seven carts full of miserable convicts being beaten by their guards came down the lane. A crowd gathered to watch and jeer the procession. Jean Valjean was terrified at the sight and recollected that he had traveled the same road on his way to the galleys. Cosette was equally horrified at the savage sight and asked her father if the convicts were still men to which he replied "Sometimes." That evening he overheard her tell Toussaint that if she should ever meet one of those men she would die just from his proximity to her. Time passes but the vision of the galley slaves does not leave Cosette's mind.
The home where Valjean and Cosette live is very serene and picturesque, however Cosette is not happy. Her relationship with Valjean has become strained and she yearns for friends. She also misses the attention she was getting from Marius in the park.