Innocence Lost

Chapter 4

Every night that week, Montparnasse came to Cosette's garden with kind words and soft caresses. He neatly evaded her gentle questions about when they would be married. "Patience, my dove," he whispered as he kissed her fingers one last time through the bars. Cosette smiled as he walked away, watching his confident strut. She was utterly smitten.

Éponine spent a lot of time prowling around this garden. She followed Montparnasse occasionally, more from boredom then any other motivation. It happened one night that she was sitting on the stones beneath the garden walls at a critical moment, and she heard the giggling of "that young lady" and Montparnasse's familiar gasps.

"Well. So that's how it is," she muttered darkly. She thought about sweet Marius, who seemed to know little of these matters. She though of his desperation to find this girl. Éponine knew that whatever Marius had planned for when he found her, it was not that. Poor man, he would pine away for this harlot in angel's clothing for a long, long time. Éponine knew that she must show him the truth. Then he would recognize how loyal she, Ponine, was; her thoughts had never strayed from him.

She scurried to the Patron Minette headquarters and hoped that someone helpful would be there. Babet was in fact there alone.

"You need to distract Parnasse for me three nights hence," she said hastily. "I've got things to do that night, and I don't need him hanging around."

"Hm. I'll bet I can guess what that is. Tell me exactly, Mamselle Jondrette.. or is it Madame Montparnasse these days -"

"Neither!" she spat. "I'm just Ponine."

"Well, then. Ponine." He advanced toward her and reached out a thin finger to twirl in her stringy hair. "Why should I do this for you?"

Ponine reclaimed her hair and tucked it up under her bonnet. "Because you're a nice man?" she offered hopefully. His face showed no mercy, and she changed to pleading. "Babet, my dear friend.."

"Apparently not dear enough," he retorted. He stepped back and folded his arms across his chest, petulantly.

"Fine," she muttered, and began unfastening her dress.

--Jeni Baron

Chapter 5