2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Abaissé re-reads the novel in its entirety! All welcome, no matter whether you're reading in French or some other translation. Discussion topics for each step along the way.

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2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Frédérique » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:52 am

Volume 2: Cosette, book 3: Accomplissement de la promesse faite à la morte/Accomplishment of the promise made to the dead woman

Chapters:

1. La question de l'eau à Montfermeil/The water question at Montfermeil
2. Deux portraits complétés/Two complete portraits
3. Il faut du vin aux hommes et de l'eau aux chevaux/Men need wine, horses water
4. Entrée en scène d'une poupée/A doll enters the scene
5. La petite toute seule/The little one all alone
6. Qui peut-être prouve l'intelligence de Boulatruelle/Which might prove Boulatruelle's intelligence
7. Cosette côte à côte dans l'ombre avec l'inconnu/Cosette side by side in the dark with the stranger
8. Désagrément de recevoir chez soi un pauvre qui est peut-être un riche/The disagreeableness of receiving a poor man who may be a rich man
9. Thénardier à la manœuvre/Thénardier and his manœuvres
10. Qui cherche le mieux peut trouver le pire/Those seeking the best can find the worst
11. Le numéro 9430 reparaît et Cosette le gagne à la loterie/The number 9430 reappears, and Cosette wins it in the lottery

You can find the French text of this book here and the Hapgood English translation here.


In which we witness the Thénardiers in their coparative prime, and one of literature's most famous human MacGuffins changes hands into those of our protagonist.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:31 pm

Denny translated this book title as "Fulfilment of a Promise" which I can understand that he didn't want to add "dead woman" because that just sounds awkward in English, but he should have stuck with "Fulfilment of a Promise Made to the Dead".

Also, he translates chapter 6 as "the man in the yellow coat".

It's interesting that earlier in the narrative we're told that we'll no longer call Valjean by any name except that one, but later on he keeps being called "the stranger" and "the prisoner" (in the "The Ship Orion") and later on M. Leblanc, etc. etc.

This is one of my favorite parts. I love the description of Thenardier. Especially the part where it says it looks like he's in ill health but really in excellent health. Technically it's not his fault, but being Thenardier he probably uses it to his full advantage.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:25 pm

Ulkis, the last of Rosa's notes touches on that very point :)

Book 3
1 (book title): Une note de Hugo prouve son intention d'indiquer << que J. Tréjean se regarde comme la cause du malheur de Fantine et que tout ce qu'il fait pour Cosette est une réparation >>. Il n'y a pas donné suite et ce titre seul indique ce motif du dévouement de Jean Valjean à Cosette en même temps que la nature des paroles dites à Fantine en I, 8, 4.
A note by Hugo proves his intention to indicate "that J. Tréjean sees himself as the cause of Fantine's misfortune and that all he does for Cosette is a reparation." There is no follow-up and this title alone indicates this motive for Jean Valjean's dedication to Cosette in the same tense as the nature of the words said to Fantine in I, 8, 4.

Chapter 1
2 (this bird Caracara polyborus): Ce rapace américain semble avoir ravi Hugo qui l'a noté dans un carnet avant d'introduire cet oiseau bonapartiste à Montfermeil.
This American bird of prey seems to have delighted Hugo, who noted it in a notebook before introducing this Bonapartist bird to Montfermeil.

3 (hemp, foxtail): Ce sont les mêmes mauvaises herbes que M. Madeleine sait, lui, << extirper >> - voir note 4 en II, 4, 3.
These are the same weeds that M. Madeline knows how "to eradicate" - see note 4 in II, 4, 3.

4 (continued to cry in the shadows): Pour la première apparition de Gavroche, cette phrase traduit à peu près le début de Psaume 129, chanté à l'office des morts : << De profundis clamavi ad te Dominum >> : << Du fond des ténèbres j'ai crié vers toi, Seigneur. >> Le célèbre premier poème des Feuilles d'automne : << Ce siècle avait deux ans... >> fait percevoir ce que ce cri a d'autobiographie :
....
Un enfant sans couleur, sans regard et sans voix
Si débile qu'il fut ainsi qu'une chimère
Abandonné de tous excepté de sa mère.

For the first appearance of Gavroche, this phrase translates more or less the beginning of Psalm 129 [typo in the note - it's 130], sung during the office of the dead: "De profundis clamavi ad te Dominum": "Out of the depths, I have cried to thee, o Lord." The famous first poem of Autumn Leaves: "This century was two years old . . ." helps us make out what this cry has of autobiography:
. . . A child without colour, without look [unseeing] and without voice
So weak that it was thus a dream
Abandoned by all except his mother. . .

Chapter 2
5 (un filousophe/philosopher-rascal/fellow-sopher [F/M]): Hugo donnait cet aimable surnom à Pierre Leroux.
Hugo gave this amiable nickname to Pierre Leroux [Saint-Simonian writer of working-class background].

6 (subscribed to the Champ d'Asile/Field of Refuge/Sanctuary): Colonie française fondée au Texas en 1818 par quelques centaines de bonapartistes et libéraux proscrits. Une souscription avait été lancée par le journal La Minerve, début 1819, pour soutenir les colons.
French colonie founded in Texas in 1818 by a few hundred Bonapartists and banished liberals. A subscription was launched by the newspaper La Minerve, at the beginning of 1819, to sustain the colonists.

7 (His prowess at Waterloo we already know.): Voir II, 1, 19.
See II, 1, 19.

8 (fly serving the spiders): Sur la présence de cette image obsédante, depuis Notre-Dame de Paris, voir aussi, par exemple, Javert en II, 5, 10 et l'égout en V, 3, 7.
On the presence of this haunting image, since Notre-Dame de Paris, see also, for example, Javert in II, 5, 10 and the sewer in V, 3, 7.

Chapter 3
9 (here is a fifteen-sous-piece): La supression du << de >> n'est pas vraiement populaire, puisque Mme Hugo elle-même écrit ainsi, mais tend à le devenir.
The suppression of "de" is not truly lower-class, since Mme Hugo herself wrote thus, but tends to be used in this fashion. [Thus "fifteen-sous-piece" rather than pièce de quinze sous, "piece of fifteen sous".]

Chapter 4
10 (had real hair): Peut-être les cheveux de Fantine.
Perhaps Fantine's hair. [Oh dear god, creepy, creepy, I would never have come up with that myself, possibly also because it seems unlikely from the timeline.]

Chapter 6
11 (is the government): Hugo emploie ici une chose entendue et notée : Choses vues, ouv. cit., 1847-1848, p. 57.
Hugo here uses a thing overheard and written down: Things Seen, op. cit., 1847-1848, p. 57.

12 (a man of rather bad mien): Une ancienne coutume, pratiquée jusqu'à la fin de la monarchie, voulait qu'un condamné à mort rencontré par le Roi fût gracié. Le condamné du Dernier Jour attendait vainement cette rencontre. Ici, elle authentifie en quelque sorte la grâce acquise et la redouble.
An old custom, practiced until the end of the monarchy, held that a man condemned to death who was met by the King was given a pardon. The condmned man of the Last Day waited vainly for this meeting. Here, it authenticates in some sort the the pardon acquired and redoubles it.

13 (put on that day The Two Convicts): Les Deux Forçats ou La Meunière du Puy-de-Dôme fut effectivement joué à la Porte-Saint-Martin, mais en 1822 et en tout cas pas le jour de Noël où les théâtres faisaient relâche.
The Two Convicts, or The Miller's Wife of Puy-de-Dôme was effectively put on at the Porte-Saint-Martin, but in 1822 and in any case not on Christmas Day when the theatres were dark.

Chapter 8
14 (on the other, disdain): Cette notation transpose sur les trois fillettes l'inquiétude qu'éprouva un jour Hugo au spectacle de la rencontre, notée dans Choses vues (ouv. cit., 1830-1846, p. 333), d'un pauvre homme << maigre, hagard [...] la tête nue et hérissée >> avec la voiture d'une dame << en chapeau rose [...] fraîche, blanche, belle, éblouissante [...] >>. << L'homme avait sous le bras un pain. Le peuple disait autour de lui qu'il avait volé ce pain et que c'était à cause de cela qu'on l'emmenait. [...] Cette femme ne voyait pas l'homme terrible qui la regardait.
<< Je demeurai pensif.
<< Cet homme n'était plus pour moi un homme, c'était le spectre de la misère, c'était l'apparition difforme, lugubre, en plein jour, en plein soleil, d'une révolution encore plongée dans les ténèbres, mais qui vient. [...] Du femme ne s'aperçoit pas que cet homme est là, la catastrophe est inévitable. >>
This notation transposes on the three little girls the uneasiness that Hugo felt one day at the sight of a meeting, noted in Things Seen (op. cit., 1830-1846, p. 333) between a poor man "thin, haggard . . . head bare and hair bristling" with the carriage of a lady "in a pink hat . . . fresh, white, beautiful, stunning . . .". "The man had under his arm a loaf of bread. The people said around him that he had stolen this bread and that it was because of this they were taking him away. . . . This woman did not see the terrible man who watched her.
"I remained thoughtful.
"This man was no longer for me a man, he was the image[specter/ghost/hobgoblin] of misery, he was an apparition, misshapen and dismal, at midday, in full sunlight, of a revolution still plunged in deep shadow, but which is coming. . . . For the woman who does not perceive that this man is there, the catastrophe is inevitable."

15 (I'll call her Catherine.): [i]Avec le prénom primitivement donné à Marius - Thomas - cette poupée forme l'identité complète de Catherine Thomas : la femme auprès de qui, dès 1803 vraisemblablement, Léopold se consola de l'absence de sa femme, et qu'il finit par épouser sitôt Sophie morte, en septembre 1821, au scandale de ses fils. Autant qu'une réconciliation posthume avec son père et un hommage, on peut voir là, de la part de Hugo, de l'amertume - poupée que cet Catherine! - voire une terrible dérision : la << dame >> remplace Fantine auprès de Cosette comme Catherine remplaçait Sophie. Mais on peut spéculer à perte de vue - ou rêver - puisque Catherine était aussi le dernier prénom donné à Léopoldine, dont un des surnoms était << poupée >>.

With the early first name given to Marius - Thomas - this doll forms the complete identity of Catherine Thomas: the woman with whom, demonstrably since 1803, Léopold console himself in the absence of his wife, and whom he ended up marrying as soon as Sophie was dead, in September 1821, to the scandal of his sons. As far as a posthumous reconciliation with his father and an hommage, one can see here, on Hugo's part, bitterness - that Catherine was a doll! - or even a terrible derision: the "lady" replaces Fantine at Cosette's side as Catherine replaced Sophie. But one can speculate on the loss of sight - or dream - since Catherine was also the final name given to Léopoldine, one of whose nicknames was "doll".

16 (set to reading the Courrier Français): Organe des << doctrinaires >>,libéral, et dont le programme était << d'infliger la publicité aux hommes politiques >>. Quelque chose donc d'intermédiare entre Le Canard enchaîné et Le Monde.
Organ of the "doctrinaires", liberal, and of which the program was "to inflict publicity on political men". Something thus between Le Canard enchaîné [satirical weekly] and [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_monde]Le Monde[/url.

17 (put a louis d'or in Cosette's sabot): Les manuscrits du Victor Hugo raconté par Adèle Hugo disent comment, au retour d'Espagne dont c'est un des très rares souvenirs, le petit Victor perdit deux cadeaux paternels. Une pièce d'or, offerte par le comte de Tilly, en qui d'autres détails permettent de reconnaître une figure paternelle, se perdit dans une fente de la voiture et ne fut jamais retrouvée ; une montre en or, donnée à l'enfant par son père, glissa de la poche de son pantalon, dans des circonstances pudiquement évoquées mais assez précisément pour qu'on comprenne qu'elle dut rejoindre l'égoût. Deux gestes manqués par lesquels Victor sanctionnait et assumait la perte de son père. Les dons de Jean Valjean adoptant Cosette retournent exactement ces maladresses et, chez Victor Hugo, l'or restera durablement lié à la paternité.
On se souviendra enfin qu'en cette année 1823, Hugo revoit pour la première fois son père avec qui il avait renoué des relations progressivement plus affectueuses depuis la mort de Sophie, mais qu'il n'avait pas revue depuis 1815. Léopold venait assister au baptême du premier enfant de son fils - Léopold, qui mourra deux mois plus tard - et traiter avec Ladvocat pour la publication de ses Mémoires. L'ode A mon père célèbre ces retrouvailles.

The drafts of Victor Hugo Recounted by Adèle Hugo tell how, on the return from Spain of which this is one of very few memories, little Victor lost two presents from his father. A gold piece, offered by the comte de Tilly, in whom other details permit the recognition of a paternal figure, was lost in a gap in the carriage and never found; a gold watch, given to the child by his father, slid out of his trouser pocket, in circumstances evoked discreetly but also precisely so that one understand that it had to return to the sewer. Two spoiled gestures by which Victor sanctioned and assumed the loss of his father. Jean Valjean's gifts in adopting Cosette return exactly these blunders and, in Hugo's home, gold will stay durably linked to paternity.
To finish, one will rememeber that in the year 1823, Hugo saw again for the first time his father with whom he had renewed progressively more affectionate relations since Sophie's death, but who he had not seen since 1815. Léopold came to attend the baptism of his son's first child - Léopold, who died two months later - and to negotiate with Ladvocat [French only, sorry] for the publication of his Memoirs.

Chapter 10:
18 (Fantine): Cette lettre, déjà lue en I, 6, 1, ne portait pas alors de date. Celle-ci s'explique : du 25 mars au 25 décembre 1823 se sont écoulés exactement les neuf mois qui séparent l'Annonciation de la Noël, et cette << nativité >> de Cosette fait symboliquement de Jean valjean sa mère. (Voir aussi note 6 du livre suivant et << C'est peut-être ma mère cet homme-là! >> IV, 3, 6; p.705.)
This letter, already read in I, 6, 1, does not then carry a date. This is explained: from 25 March to 25 December 1823 passed exactly the nine months that separate the Annuncation from Christmas, and this "nativity" of Cosette makes Jean Valjean symbolically her mother. (See also note 6 of the following book and "It's perhaps my mother, this man here!" IV, 3, 6 [typo in note, actually chapter 4]; p. 705 [p. 890 in F/A - it's right after the bit about eating black bread].)

Chapter 11
19 (Jean Valjean was not dead.): On l'a compris depuis longtemps, mais le roman tient à ne rendre au héros son identité qu'après l'adoption de Cosette. Elle le rend à la vie en une sorte de résurrection ou de seconde naissance, et à lui-même en l'exposant à de nouvelles épreuves.
On has understood this a long time, but the novel prefers to keep from the hero his identity until after the adoption of Cosette. It returns him to life in a sort of resurreection or second birth, and to himself in exposing him to new tests.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:55 am

Chapter 4
10 (had real hair): Peut-être les cheveux de Fantine.
Perhaps Fantine's hair. [Oh dear god, creepy, creepy, I would never have come up with that myself, possibly also because it seems unlikely from the timeline.]


Ick, nooo. Good idea for a morbid fic, but otherwise do not want.

As I'm reading this book, I'm wondering, why does Valjean linger so long? Does he want to double check if Cosette is actually happy at the inn first? I would say he wants it to seem like he didn't come there with the intention of taking Cosette and tried instead to make it seem like it was a spontaneous idea, but as Thenardier notes, he didn't exactly make his interest in Cosette a secret.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby collectingbees » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:45 am

I love the descriptions of the Thénardiers. I also love how bossy Éponine is with her sister, and living out the role of being the know-it-all older sibling who calls all of the shots. That to me is so funny. (Is it wrong that I also love how they dress up the cat???)

Actually, this is the part of the book where things start to kick in again and everything starts rollin'. it seems like this book as little islands of action intermingled with giant oceans of pages that make me go WHAT AM I READING?

Also, I must take this time to make a comment about the Thénardier children and their treatment of Cosette. I remember reading somewhere an argument that Éponine and Azelma "deserved" to "live poor" as a just desserts because of how they treated Cosette as children. For one, I must comment that this person clearly did not understand the extent of their abject nature of their poverty (which is one of the many things wrong with this), as well as the fact that NO ONE "deserves" to live starving and in squalor? IDK. I mean, I don't know if you know very much about children, but they learn EVERYTHING from their parents, as a teacher, I can assure you this. (Also that most children are pretty atrocious to each other). I am not saying that Cosette is a nice little girl who deserves dollies and someone to love her, I am merely saying that it doesn't work in reverse that Éponine "deserves" her fate of poverty.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:24 am

Actually I found the scenes of the Thenardier girls as children to be one of the sweetest parts of the book. Kids can *really* be like that---guess they don't know better. Seeing Éponine and Azelma in happier days only makes their eventual fates that much more tragic.

Hugo does have a lot of insight about the roles of families in the eventual outcome of children's lives (and how circumstances can reverse this all the same). Though of course, some evidence of slightly patriarchal thinking remains in his remarks about the need for little girls to have their dolls...
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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:31 pm

Also, I must take this time to make a comment about the Thénardier children and their treatment of Cosette. I remember reading somewhere an argument that Éponine and Azelma "deserved" to "live poor" as a just desserts because of how they treated Cosette as children. For one, I must comment that this person clearly did not understand the extent of their abject nature of their poverty (which is one of the many things wrong with this), as well as the fact that NO ONE "deserves" to live starving and in squalor? IDK. I mean, I don't know if you know very much about children, but they learn EVERYTHING from their parents, as a teacher, I can assure you this. (Also that most children are pretty atrocious to each other). I am not saying that Cosette is a nice little girl who deserves dollies and someone to love her, I am merely saying that it doesn't work in reverse that Éponine "deserves" her fate of poverty.


No, totally agree. It's not even like they go out of their way to make her miserable, like Mme Thenardier - they mostly ignore her.

I also love how bossy Éponine is with her sister


That part is so cute, the "you'll say 'merciful heavens!' and I'll say, 'yes madame, all the children are like that now'" part.

Though of course, some evidence of slightly patriarchal thinking remains in his remarks about the need for little girls to have their dolls...


When I was rereading the part where Éponine and Azelma throw away their dolls for the cat, I thought, Éponine knows even a kitten is a slightly better preparation for a kid than a doll.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:17 am

Ulkis, I don't think he's lingering. Remember, it's after dark when he arrives (he had to get things ready in Paris, after all, to have somewhere to bring her to), and she's 8, so he can't, by the time he gets out there, take her away immediately without drawing more attention - he would have needed a private coach if he were to take her away at night. He takes her first thing the next morning, as early as he could possibly get on one of the coaches that provides public transportation in the area.

Sure, once he arrives he's being circumspect about his reasons for being in the inn at all, but he knows the moment Cosette tells him her name that he's getting her the hell out of there as quickly as possible. It's also probable that he was doing his best not to call attention to her at all until circumstances required it, thinking it would go easier for her, since they had to stay one more night, if he paid her no strong attention. Except Mme Thénardier kept trying to beat her, therefore it was better for Cosette that he speak up.

If the Thénardiers had been better people, he would have come up to the inn, found Cosette there rather than in the woods trying to lug a bucket of water as big as she is, and might have made a deal then and there for lodgings for the night and Cosette's departure in the morning. But the Thénardiers are the Thénardiers, recognisably criminal, and having been around criminals for so many years, Valjean knows better than to go in guns blazing. It's his sympathy for Cosette that gives him away early to Thénardier, even before the incidents of the stockings and the doll, even as Valjean is trying to hide it.
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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Ulkis » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:53 am

he would have needed a private coach if he were to take her away at night. He takes her first thing the next morning, as early as he could possibly get on one of the coaches that provides public transportation in the area.


Oh, I didn't realize that they took a coach to Paris. For some reason I was imagining them walking (or Valjean carrying) Cosette all the way there. And yeah, it didn't occur to me that it would look even weirder if Valjean, to quote broadwayabridged, came in and said, "here's a kajillion dollars, gimme Cosette" than he already does.

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:21 am

It's kind of thrown in at the end of the chapter: "The day had been strange and filled with emotion for Cosette; behind hedges, they had eaten bread and cheese bought at isolated taverns; they had often changed carriages and traveled short distances on foot."

To do the roundabout way he's been traveling to throw off any possible pursuers, it makes sense to go by coach and on foot, because you can cover more ground and be seen to be going to a place you don't actually stay (note how he disappears at Chelles). And with an 8 year old, you'll have to go more slowly, therefore it simply makes sense to use the coaches as much as possible in order to also walk as much as possible. Rest while moving if you can.
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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:02 pm

Finally bye bye Waterloo!!

September 5, 2013

The Water Question at Montfermeil

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/93/

The geography of a small town is outlined, and a household is introduced
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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:52 pm

September 6, 2013

Two Complete Portraits

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/94/

A frightening pair.


Hardly the comic relief, really. It's as if Hugo is sketching out a list of vices here, or personifying Greed and Wrath.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:23 am

September 7, 2013

Men Must Have Wine, Horses Must Have Water

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/95/

"Go fetch some water from the well in the wood!!"
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:46 am

September 8, 2013

Entrance on the Scene of a Doll

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/96/

What Cosette sees on her way out.
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Re: 2.3 Accomplissement de la promessse ... 3/12/10-13/12/10

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:58 pm

September 9, 2013

The Little One All Alone

http://www.online-literature.com/victor_hugo/les_miserables/97/

The turning point
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