Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter III. Just Indignation of a Hair-dresser

The worthy hair-dresser who had chased from his shop the two little fellows to whom Gavroche had opened the paternal interior of the elephant was at that moment in his shop engaged in shaving an old soldier of the legion who had served under the Empire. They were talking. The hair-dresser had, naturally, spoken to the veteran of the riot, then of General Lamarque, and from Lamarque they had passed to the Emperor. Thence sprang up a conversation between barber and soldier which Prudhomme, had he been present, would have enriched with arabesques, and which he would have entitled: "Dialogue between the razor and the sword."

"How did the Emperor ride, sir?" said the barber.

"Badly. He did not know how to fall--so he never fell."

"Did he have fine horses? He must have had fine horses!"

"On the day when he gave me my cross, I noticed his beast. It was a racing mare, perfectly white. Her ears were very wide apart, her saddle deep, a fine head marked with a black star, a very long neck, strongly articulated knees, prominent ribs, oblique shoulders and a powerful crupper. A little more than fifteen hands in height."

"A pretty horse," remarked the hair-dresser.

"It was His Majesty's beast."

The hair-dresser felt, that after this observation, a short silence would be fitting, so he conformed himself to it, and then went on:--

"The Emperor was never wounded but once, was he, sir?"

The old soldier replied with the calm and sovereign tone of a man who had been there:--

"In the heel. At Ratisbon. I never saw him so well dressed as on that day. He was as neat as a new sou."

"And you, Mr. Veteran, you must have been often wounded?"

"I?" said the soldier, "ah! not to amount to anything. At Marengo, I received two sabre-blows on the back of my neck, a bullet in the right arm at Austerlitz, another in the left hip at Jena. At Friedland, a thrust from a bayonet, there,--at the Moskowa seven or eight lance-thrusts, no matter where, at Lutzen a splinter of a shell crushed one of my fingers. Ah! and then at Waterloo, a ball from a biscaien in the thigh, that's all."

"How fine that is!" exclaimed the hair-dresser, in Pindaric accents, "to die on the field of battle! On my word of honor, rather than die in bed, of an illness, slowly, a bit by bit each day, with drugs, cataplasms, syringes, medicines, I should prefer to receive a cannon-ball in my belly!"

"You're not over fastidious," said the soldier.

He had hardly spoken when a fearful crash shook the shop. The show-window had suddenly been fractured.

The wig-maker turned pale.

"Ah, good God!" he exclaimed, "it's one of them!"

"What?"

"A cannon-ball."

"Here it is," said the soldier.

And he picked up something that was rolling about the floor. It was a pebble.

The hair-dresser ran to the broken window and beheld Gavroche fleeing at the full speed, towards the Marche Saint-Jean. As he passed the hair-dresser's shop Gavroche, who had the two brats still in his mind, had not been able to resist the impulse to say good day to him, and had flung a stone through his panes.

"You see!" shrieked the hair-dresser, who from white had turned blue, "that fellow returns and does mischief for the pure pleasure of it. What has any one done to that gamin?"

Victor Hugo

    Volume I - Book First--A Just Man

    Volume I - Book Second.--The Fall

    Volume I - Book Third.--In the Year 1817

    Volume I - Book Fourth.--To Confide is Sometimes to De

    Volume I - Book Fifth.-- The Descent

    Volume I - Book Sixth.--Javert

    Volume I - Book Seventh.--The Champmathieu Affair

    Volume I - Book Eighth.--A Counter-blow

    Volume II - Book First.--Waterloo

    Volume II - Book Second.--The Ship Orion

    Volume II - Book Third.--Accomplishment of the Promise

    Volume II - Book Fourth.--The Gorbeau Hovel

    Volume II - Book Fifth.--For A Black Hunt, A Mute Pack

    Volume II - Book Sixth.--Le Petit-Picpus

    Volume II - Book Seventh.--Parenthesis

    Volume II - Book Eighth.--Cemeteries Take That Which i

    Volume III - Book First.--Paris Studied in its Atom

    Volume III - Book Second.--The Great Bourgeois

    Volume III - Book Third.--The Grandfather and the Gran

    Volume III - Book Fourth.--The Friends of the ABC

    Volume III - Book Fifth.--The Excellence of Misfortune

    Volume III - Book Sixth.--The Conjunction of Two Stars

    Volume III - Book Seventh.--Patron Minette

    Volume III - Book Eighth.--The Wicked Poor Man

    Volume IV - Book First.--A Few Pages of History

    Volume IV - Book Second.--Eponine

    Volume IV - Book Third.--The House in the Rue Plumet

    Volume IV - Book Fourth.--Succor From Below May Turn O

    Volume IV - Book Fifth.--The End of Which Does Not Res

    Volume IV - Book Sixth.--Little Gavroche

    Volume IV - Book Seventh.--Slang

    Volume IV - Book Eighth.--Enchantments and Desolations

    Volume IV - Book Ninth.--Whither are they Going?

    Volume IV - Book Tenth.--The 5th of June, 1832

    Volume IV - Book Eleventh.--The Atom Fraternizes with

    Volume IV - Book Twelfth.--Corinthe

    Volume IV - Book Thirteenth.--Marius Enters the Shadow

    Volume IV - Book Fourteenth.--The Grandeurs of Despair

    Volume IV - Book Fifteenth.--The Rue de L'Homme Arme

    Volume V - Book First.--The War Between Four Walls

    Volume V - Book Second.--The Intestine of the Leviatha

    Volume V - Book Third.--Mud but the Soul

    Volume V - Book Fourth.--Javert Derailed

    Volume V - Book Fifth.--Grandson and Grandfather

    Volume V - Book Sixth.--The Sleepless Night

    Volume V - Book Seventh.--The Last Draught from the Cu

    Volume V - Book Eighth.--Fading Away of the Twilight

    Volume V - Book Ninth.--Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn

    Sorry, no summary available yet.