Innocence Lost

Chapter 2

Montparnasse awoke late the next morning. He sniffed the air. Bacon? Why would he smell bacon frying? He crawled out of bed and threw his clothes on.

Éponine was standing at the stove, jabbing at the pan with a fork. Azelma was sitting at the table, slicing a loaf of bread thoughtfully. She glanced up at him.

As if she were reading her sister's eyes, Éponine turned around. "Good morning," she said cheerily.

Montparnasse sat down next to Azelma. "Where did this stuff come from?"

"The market," Azelma answered softly.

"Really? No, I thought perhaps you plucked it off a bread tree. And a bacon tree, as well. How did you obtain it?"

"We picked up a bit of change last night. Two francs. I thought this would be a good way to spend it. There's wine, as well." Éponine pointed with her fork to the two bottles in the corner by the door.

"Ah," he said. "Well, if I might inquire, how would two lovely young ladies pick up some money late at night?"

Éponine suddenly dropped the fork. "You can just erase that thought from your head! I pick pockets, that's all! I don't sell myself to every man who tries it. There's only you, there's only been you. Might I ask what you were doing last night? You certainly didn't bring home any cash!" She picked up the fork and resumed jabbing.

"What I do is none of your concern, Cherie. But, since it might interest you, I'll tell you. Remember that place on Rue P., with the fish that got off the hook? You said there was not much there. Well, you're wrong. It's a goldmine, I'm sure of it. Soon as your Père gets out, we'll go over there and clean the place up." Montparnasse buttered a slice of the new bread and began to eat. Azelma just sat there, staring wide-eyed, as she so often did. Seldom did she speak.

After a silent breakfast, which was closer to lunch, Montparnasse combed and curled his hair and placed his hat on his head. "I'm going to meet with the gentlemen. Make yourselves useful."

--Jeni Baron

Chapter 3