Section Five - Jean Valjean
Book Eight - The Twilight Wane
Jean Valjean calls the following evening and is shown to the dusty basement where two chairs have been placed near a cozy fire. Cosette arrives and orders her father to come upstairs and dine with them. He obstinately refuses and instructs Cosette, whom he calls "Madame" to call him "Monsieur Jean." Cosette is hurt and cannot understand what she has done to offend her father. Overcome by emotion, Jean Valjean hugs her and calls her "Cosette" but soon recants his moment of weakness and leaves. The next evening he comes to visit and receives Cosette in the same manner and she asks no more questions.
The household adjusts to this new arrangement easily and dismisses it to the eccentricities of old Fauchelevent. Although Cosette persists in loving the man she knows as her father his attempts to separate from her are mostly successful and she becomes less outwardly affectionate over time. Jean Valjean notices the frugal manner in which Marius orders the household's economy and asks Cosette why they do no live more comfortably with their wealth. She answers that Marius had recently asked her if she would be content on the money from Monsieur Gillenormand and she answered that she would be happy so long as he remained her husband. Jean Valjean gleans that Marius is suspicious of the money he provided for Cosette's dowry. Jean Valjean also notices that the fire is no longer lit and that the chairs are occasionally misplaced and finally, one spring evening, entirely missing from the basement room. He takes the hint, says goodbye to Cosette and does not return the following evening. He sends word that business is keeping him away and Cosette, used to her father's occasional departures, thinks nothing of it. The shopkeepers on the street where Jean Valjean resides notice him start out every evening but then see him return to his apartment. Eventually his outings barely take him off his own street. He seems oblivious to the elements and the laughter of the children who heckle him.
It is quite sad to see what has befallen on Valjean and the deterioration of his body and soul. One wonders how the twopeople who owe their lives to this man, allow this to occur and don't show compassion.