Les Miserables 32: Champmathieu More and More Astonished

Now it is about time for the Champmathieu trial to be wrapping up.  All of the closing arguments have been made, and now it is time for Champmathieu to speak.  This he does, giving a long and rambling speech in which he says that this could have all been averted if they had taken the trouble to find a certain Monsieur Baloup, a master wheelwright whom he had worked under in Paris.  The judge explained to Champmathieu somewhat sternly that M. Baloup had been summoned but had not appeared; he had gone bankrupt and could not be found.

Now it would not be surprising to me at all if it were the case that the authorities had made a pathetic, half-hearted effort to track down Monsieur Baloup (or perhaps no effort at all), that they had not felt any urgency at all to find Baloup since it was for this sorry excuse for a person called Champmathieu.  But we will see later on that Paris is a chasm.  If you are a criminal on the run from the police and you don’t want to be found, you go to Paris.  It is not at all uncommon for people to disappear into the swirling vortex of humanity that is the Parisian underworld and never be seen or heard from again.  Thus it should not be too surprising to us that, even if the authorities had been as diligent as they possibly could in their efforts to find this Monsieur Baloup, they would have failed.

Champmathieu continued his speech, denying that he was Valjean.  The prosecuting attorney repeated Javert’s testimony that Champmathieu was Valjean.  Then the judge had the convicts Brevet, Chenildieu, and Cochepaille brought back out, and they repeated their testimony that Champmathieu was Valjean.

And at that moment, the unthinkable happened. Continue reading “Les Miserables 32: Champmathieu More and More Astonished”

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