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					BOOK EIGHTH.--THE WICKED POOR MAN
CHAPTER XVIII

¡¡¡¡MARIUS' TWO CHAIRS FORM A VIS-A-VIS
¡¡¡¡Suddenly, the distant and melancholy vibration of a clock shook the
panes.
¡¡¡¡Six o'clock was striking from Saint-Medard.
¡¡¡¡Jondrette marked off each stroke with a toss of his head. When the
sixth had struck, he snuffed the candle with his fingers.
¡¡¡¡Then he began to pace up and down the room, listened at the corridor,
walked on again, then listened once more.
¡¡¡¡"Provided only that he comes!" he muttered, then he returned to his
chair.
¡¡¡¡He had hardly reseated himself when the door opened.
¡¡¡¡Mother Jondrette had opened it, and now remained in the corridor
making a horrible, amiable grimace, which one of the holes of the dark-
lantern illuminated from below.
¡¡¡¡"Enter, sir," she said.
¡¡¡¡"Enter, my benefactor," repeated Jondrette, rising hastily.
¡¡¡¡M. Leblanc made his appearance.
¡¡¡¡He wore an air of serenity which rendered him singularly venerable.
¡¡¡¡He laid four louis on the table.
¡¡¡¡"Monsieur Fabantou," said he, "this is for your rent and your most
pressing necessities.
¡¡¡¡We will attend to the rest hereafter."
¡¡¡¡"May God requite it to you, my generous benefactor!" said Jondrette.
¡¡¡¡And rapidly approaching his wife:--
¡¡¡¡"Dismiss the carriage!"
¡¡¡¡She slipped out while her husband was lavishing salutes and offering
M. Leblanc a chair.
¡¡¡¡An instant later she returned and whispered in his ear:--
¡¡¡¡"'Tis done."
¡¡¡¡The snow, which had not ceased falling since the morning, was so deep
that the arrival of the fiacre had not been audible, and they did not now
hear its departure.
¡¡¡¡Meanwhile, M. Leblanc had seated himself.
¡¡¡¡Jondrette had taken possession of the other chair, facing M. Leblanc.
¡¡¡¡Now, in order to form an idea of the scene which is to follow, let
the reader picture to himself in his own mind, a cold night, the
solitudes of the Salpetriere covered with snow and white as winding-
sheets in the moonlight, the taper-like lights of the street lanterns
which shone redly here and there along those tragic boulevards, and the
long rows of black elms, not a passer-by for perhaps a quarter of a
league around, the Gorbeau hovel, at its highest pitch of silence, of
horror, and of darkness; in that building, in the midst of those
solitudes, in the midst of that darkness, the vast Jondrette garret
lighted by a single candle, and in that den two men seated at a table, M.
Leblanc tranquil, Jondrette smiling and alarming, the Jondrette woman,
the female wolf, in one corner, and, behind the partition, Marius,
invisible, erect, not losing a word, not missing a single movement, his
eye on the watch, and pistol in hand.
¡¡¡¡However, Marius experienced only an emotion of horror, but no fear.
He clasped the stock of the pistol firmly and felt reassured. "I shall be
able to stop that wretch whenever I please," he thought.
¡¡¡¡He felt that the police were there somewhere in ambuscade, waiting
for the signal agreed upon and ready to stretch out their arm.
¡¡¡¡Moreover, he was in hopes, that this violent encounter between
Jondrette and M. Leblanc would cast some light on all the things which he
was interested in learning.



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? Victor Hugo


				
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