By Daniel Defoe
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Additional resources for A Journal of the Plague Year
The next day, Valjean secretly confesses to Marius that he is an escaped convict, and not Cosette舗s father. Marius, believing that Valjean舗s fortune was stolen, does not touch it. Thinking that Valjean killed Javert at the barricade, Marius only reluctantly allows him to see Cosette in the anteroom to his grandfather舗s house. Persona non grata to Marius, Valjean stops coming, stops eating, and wastes away. But Thȳnardier unwittingly serves as the instrument of Providence. He comes to extort money from Marius by threatening to reveal the 舠secret舡 that his father-in-law is an escaped convict who has recently killed a man (he unwittingly refers to Marius himself).
The Thȳnardiers have been starving Cosette, dressing her in rags, and forcing her to do hard labor, while sending Fantine exorbitant, fraudulent medical bills. She must turn to prostitution to support her daughter. At the same time, the Thȳnardier daughters Eponine and Azelma are pampered, creating a Cinderella-like situation. 舠Monsieur Madeleine舡 finally learns of this situation when Fantine has been unjustly accused of assault against a wealthy idler who had assaulted her first. He overrules Javert, who is blinded by social prejudice, and orders her release.
Behind the barricade, Javert has been unmasked as a police spy. Valjean asks permission to execute him, but secretly sets him free. As the barricade falls to the government troops, Marius collapses, wounded and unconscious. Valjean escapes through the sewers, carrying the young man through the foul muck on his shoulders for four miles. At the locked exit by the Seine, Valjean meets Thȳnardier, who has hidden there from Javert. Thȳnardier does not recognize Valjean. He thinks Valjean has killed Marius for his money, and demands all Valjean舗s cash in exchange for opening the gate with his skeleton key so that Valjean can escape.